Monday, April 6, 2020

Be An En-, Not A Dis-

Entering Week 2 in the April A to Z Blog Challenge and we're moving right along. 100 meaningless bonus points to anyone who gets this title. Perhaps if you read on...

I'm trying not to make every post in this thirty day challenge relate back to the virus, but a fair chunk of the words I was given do send my brain in that direction. For now, our everyday life is impacted by restrictions to our actions and our interactions, which makes it hard to avoid referencing every once in a a while.

These are strange times and my blog is a journal of sorts, so while I'm not intentionally dedicating these challenge posts to the current public health crisis, it will very likely get more than a mention now and then.

Day 5-E is for Encourage

Okay, on with the show. Today's word is brought to you courtesy of my mother-in-law, encourager extraordinaire. Everybody needs one in their life and she has the gift of encourgement. She is always telling you you're appreciated...loved...better than you think you are, and for that I'm grateful.

I'm realizing that while I didn't start out with the idea of giving a shout out to the person in my life who provided the day's word, it is turning out that way. As I write each post I think of the sender and our shared history with so much affection. An unexpected happy little bonus to my theme this year.

Before I start one of these alphabet posts I always like to look up the definition of the word, along with any synonyms or antonyms. Synonyms for this one include hearten, cheer, uplift, inspire, motivate. In this present age of social distancing where do you find encouragement?

When I stop and think about it I realize I'm finding encouragement in all the places I normally find it-

From family who call-text-zoom to say I love you and you matter to me.
They bring joy to my heart.

From the kindness of strangers on display all around the globe.
Inspiring me to be kind too.

From people in all sorts of professions figuring out new and creative ways of moving forward.
Motivating me to be flexible and to keep trying new things.

From friends who make me laugh when we hang out 'together' albeit online.
Bringing cheer and lifting my spirits.

From people who show restraint and resist complaining when yes, there is plenty to complain about. Who look for the good and find it, and then tell us about that.  
Encouraging me to remain optimistic.

From the quiet stillness of the early morning hours.
My heart remembers peace is possible.

From the beauty of the sunrise.
New mercies are mine for the taking, come rain or shine or Coronavirus.

From reading God's word and mediating on this holy season of extraordinary love and sacrifice.
I have hope. What's more heartening-cheering-motivating-inspiring-encouraging than that?

Let's all resolve in this upside down season of life to be encouragers, not discouragers.
We can do it, and I'm encouraging us to try.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Don't Even Think About It

Happy Saturday! Every day is Saturday now, right? I'm still chugging along in the April A to Z Blog Challenge and enjoying it so far. Onward-

Day 4-D is for Don't 

Once I landed on a theme of sorts I sent an email to 26 friends and family members letting them know I would need their help. Since my mom doesn't check her email regularly I phoned her to explain what I was doing and to get her word. Before I told her what it was for I said,

"Mom. If I say the letter D what is the first word that comes to mind?'
And in true motherly fashion she laughed and said-Don't. 

If that is not one of the quintessential words representing motherhood around the globe then I don't know what is.

Don't slam the door
talk with your mouth full
run with scissors
go out with wet hair

Don't leave those things there
make me call Dad
roll your eyes
get up from the table until you've eaten your peas
get in a car with strangers
say anything if you can't say something nice
let me catch you doing that again

Don't forget to wash your hands!
brush your teeth
return your library book
clean your room

Don't forget to say I'm sorry
mind your manners
ask for help

Don't forget your passport
your orthodontist appointment after school
your grandmother's birthday

Don't forget you promised

Don't forget to call
to text
to let me know when you get home

Don't panic
Don't give up
Don't worry

Don't forget I love you to the moon and back
I want what's best for you
I'm on your side

Don't forget this moment
this day
where you came from

Don't forget you're never alone
God loves you
He's got the whole world in His hands

Thanks Mom
for this word
for teaching me life's do's and don'ts

Don't forget you're special
and oh so loved

Friday, April 3, 2020

When Life Feels Catawampus Look Up

Three in a row...whoohoo! It's easier to keep at this when you have no where to go. Continuing today with the April A to Z Blog Challenge.

Day 3-C is for Collection 

As in a collection of words.
Chatterbox. Chaos. Cargo. Children. And my favorite-catawampus-brought to you by my word loving Daughter1 who is currently in week 4,822 of social distancing.

In an apartment.

In South Korea.

With a busy and bright 2 1/2 year old chatterbox, and his five-month old brother who is, in a word-chill.

Boy knows how to relax.

While I may have exaggerated the number of weeks they've been dealing with the virus there, I'm sure it  feels much longer than just a couple of months. Was January really just a couple months back? What in the world is going on with time?

In any case, the measures put in place by the South Korean government and our US military leaders stationed there seem to have worked, which tells me everyone here needs to stay the course. Or get on the course if you're one of those still not following the guidelines. ahem.

Daughter1 needed to call me to talk about her words. She had a whole long list and couldn't narrow it down to just one so I said throw 'em all at me and I'll make it work. She is in the heavy lifting years of child rearing so all her words relate to that most wonderfully exhausting, sometimes boring, utterly blissful season of parenting tiny humans.

What's cargo got to do with anything you ask? Well when you're mom to a 2-1/2 year old mancub who loves his trains you spend a lot of time talking about cargo. And tinder. And smokestacks, track repair, the station house, and a very cranky crane.

His other favorite way to pass the time?

Careening down a hill on his bicycle. Relax, this is a pathway to the playground, not a busy street. I swiped this from a video my daughter sent and in it she reminds him to look up.

A good reminder for us all, but I digress.

Is it strange to anyone else to see a two year old riding a bicycle? My generation had it all wrong. We taught our kids when they were five or six years old to pedal while we jogged behind them, awkwardly hunched over hanging on to the back of their seat. Only after they learned to pedal did we attempt to teach them balance. Now they teach kids to balance and add the pedals later which makes so much more sense. I don't know why it took us 30 years to figure that out.

And now for the piece de resistance. Catawampus. Who else is a fan?
There are certain words we love to say in our house and this one for sure makes our top ten. lf you're not familiar it means askew or awry. It can also be used to mean fierce-savage-destructive and conveniently both definitions seem to fit our current state.

Raise your hand if you think life is feeling a little catawampus these days.

I don't think my daughter meant for me to make this post about her, but sometimes I start writing and the words take me where I never intended to go.

Counting my blessings today, and my remarkable daughter who is cute as a button, coping with life in a foreign country during a global pandemic, capable-calm-and cheerful, showing me how it's done, rates right up there at the top of my list.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Let's Bake

Rolling right along with  the A-Z Blog Challenge-

Day 2-B is for Baking 

Guess who supplied the word for today? Ha! If you know her you know it would have to be my baker daughter2. When I sent her the letter she replied instantly back with this word and asked if I'd given her B on purpose. 

Nope. I'm not that clever. 

Both of my girls love to cook and bake, but Daughter2 especially has a passion for baking. We've spent many happy hours together pouring over recipes, watching bakers on TV, scooping flour, and solving the world's problems plus a few of our own, as we wait for cookies to bake and cakes to rise.

Baking is good for all sorts of things.

I learned to bake standing on a chair beside my mama. She has always been a wonderful baker and I'm sure that's where I developed my love of baking and probably my sweet tooth too. My mom has what I call a 'knack' for baking and is famous for her Christmas cookies.

Famous at least in our circle of family and friends and all the people who've been recipients of one of her fabulous loaded cookie trays. I don't know if I have the skill she has, but I do bake with lots of love which I like to think is something else I learned from her. 

I have a small cookbook obsession, and church cookbooks are some of my most favorite. They're typically filled with comfort food, and while I wouldn't make a steady diet of the calorie laden-high carb goodness we think of when we hear that word, there are days and seasons that cry out for the foods we loved as children. I had flour and yeast in the pantry so decided yesterday to bake a family favorite-cinnamon bread. 

This particular recipe is found in one of those church cookbooks, shared there by a wonderful lady everyone adored, whose family attended church with ours when I was growing up. All us kids were friends (still are) and we spent a lot of time sharing meals at those infamous church pot luck suppers the 70's were famous for.  

Hey, wouldn't a pot luck supper with family and well-loved friends hit the spot right about now? Everybody brings a dish and we talk and laugh and say,' remember when...' Instead we're tucked safely inside our own homes all by our lonesomes which is where we need to be. 

I'm not a food blogger.

Did I need to tell you that? 

I think I do need to tell you there is something supremely satisfying about kneading bread dough. For anyone counting this is mixing bowl number three because I like to use as many dishes and utensils as I can when I cook. Hubs will vouch for me here.

Once kneaded the dough rests under a cloth, somewhere warm allowing it to double in size. 

 I heart South Carolina.

And dough that does as its told.
Now for the good stuff-

Brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar, rolled up snug, then back to jellybean corner to rise some more.  

Please disregard my half eaten jar of jelly beans.
Desperate times people.

Baking is good for all sorts of things.
Math and science for the head and contentment for the heart.

When the world feels off kilter, a bowl and a spoon and a day spent baking make it seem a little less so. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Alphabet Soup

If you're looking for the Wednesday Hodgepodge scroll on down to the next post. 

So here we are, Day 1 in the April A-Z Blog Challenge. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or you'd like to sign up too, visit the A-Z Challenge website using this link. 

I wrote all about my theme in yesterday's post, so if you need to know more you can read that here.  Essentially I've made it a group project and given 26 friends and family members a letter of the alphabet asking each one to send me back a word. I told them any word in the universe was fine, so I've received an interesting collection of a little bit of everything. Let's get going-

Day 1-A is for Achieve

A college friend I've known for 40 years sent me this word and I like it, because it's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Did I tell you I have a birthday coming up? In five months? Ha! Well it's a big birthday so I'm allowed to talk about it.

Big birthdays are a good time for a bit of self-reflection. Not too much, but a glance back at where you've been, a look forward to what might lie ahead, and maybe a peek in the mirror as to where you are now, is not a bad exercise to engage in every once in a while.

I've been asking myself what it is I've achieved over the course of several decades of living? Am I satisfied with where I've landed and what I've accomplished or is there more to be done, and if so what? How?

It feels like there is great emphasis in today's world on finding our purpose and running head long into it. Make things happen! Change the world in a BIG way! Do all the things!

But what if achievement is measured in an entirely different manner?

I love what Oswald Chambers says about purpose. He says that what we see as the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself. That God is not working toward a particular finish, but that His purpose is the process.

Time feels frozen in this strange season we're walking through, yet it marches on. Is remaining faithful and obedient no matter the chaos or serenity of my circumstances what I'm aiming to achieve?

Do I measure my achievements in all the seasons of my life against this standard?

Springing Back Into The Hodgepodge-Volume 362

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! It was fun to 'see' so many familiar faces here last week, and meet some new bloggers too. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of my post, then pop over and leave a comment for the blogger linking before you. Be sure to post the button code (on my sidebar) or add a link somewhere back to this post so your readers can join the party too.

Here we go-

1. Has spring sprung in your part of the world? How can you tell? Did March come in like a lion where you live? Going out like a lamb or something more ferocious?

It has most definitely sprung. How can I tell? 

On a scale of 1-10 the pollen here is at a 20. 

On the bright side,  trees are budding, azaleas are blooming, and boaters are cruising the lake which is a sure sign of spring in my little town. 

Did March come in like a lion? Hmmm...the beginning of March feels like a hundred years ago but this is the Palmetto State so probably not a lion. Maybe a lion cub? And since we've hit the 80's this week it seems to be leaving like a lamb. Course there is that whole everybody stay home and away from everybody else which does make it feel a bit more ferocious than our usual March exit. 

2. The last thing that caused you to spring to your feet?

I'm sure it was something related to the little brown dog. I probably sprung to my feet upon realizing I'd left the bathroom door open and he's now in there chowing down on dental floss he found in the bin.

He's a mostly good boy but he does love to stick his nose in an unattended trash can now and then. 

3. Do you have a spring clean to-do list? What's one chore on the list you've already managed to accomplish? What spring clean chore do you most dread?

I have a list. Hubs has a list. He is breezing through his and mine is kind of just sitting there undone. Not entirely but I've got a ways to go. The chore I'm most dreading is cleaning out my closet. I have reorganized some drawers and am working my way through the office file purge that needs to happen every year, but mostly I'm baking cookies, blogging, working jigsaw puzzles and reading books. It's a strange spring. 

4. Tell us something you've learned about yourself or the wider world as a result of social distancing/the virus crisis.

I touch my face a lot? 

People don't like to be told they can't do something? I've always been a rule follower, and staying home isn't a huge hardship for me, so I haven't resisted following the distancing guidelines the way too many people seem to be resisting. 

I guess for me the biggest thing is discovering anew that peace is possible in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty about the future.  I like to think I'm in control of my days and my calendar and my life in general, but that's only a little bit true. God knows the end from the beginning and I can rest in his faithfulness. 

5. Something you love that's the color pink?

A peony. 
Haagen-Daz strawberry ice cream.
Not neccessarily in that order.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm participating all month in the April A-Z Blog Challenge, which starts today. You'll find my Letter A post just after today's Hodgepodge. To join the challenge sign up on the website (link here) by April 4th.  Let me know if you're playing along so I can read your alphabet posts too. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hodgepodge Questions and The A to Z

Before I post this week's questions for the Hodgepodge (scroll down) I want to mention a little something called the A-Z Blog Challenge.

As per my normal way of participating each year, I signed up last minute over the weekend and posting starts Wednesday. That would be tomorrow. I hadn't given any thought to the challenge, but since it seems there's plenty of time to blog these days I jumped on in. Visit this link by April 4th if you'd like to blog along too.

The A-Z Challenge started back in 2010, but my first year participating was 2011. I stuck with it every April through 2016, but this will be my first year back since. The way this challenge works is you post every day during the month of April, using the alphabet as your guide. Since we don't blog on Sundays that conveniently makes room for 26 posts to coincide with 26 letters of the alphabet.

You're not required to have a theme, but I like a theme. I need a jumping off place to give my normal random some structure. In the past I've written about travel (2011), a trip to Asia (2012), parenting (2013), marriage (2014), change (2015), and home (2016).

Since coming up with blog content in the age of social distancing means one must get creative,  I thought it might be fun to make this something of a group activity. I emailed 26 friends/family who I know read my blog and gave each one a letter of the alphabet. I asked them to send me a word beginning with that letter and I'll write my posts around their chosen words.

I thought they might drag their feet a little, but almost everyone responded immediately. And now I have an interesting collection of words that have nothing to do with anything so it will be fun to take off writing and see where I land. Stay tuned!

Now on to this week's Hodgepodge-

We're still here. In our own little houses with plenty of time to blog, so why not join the Wednesday Hodgepodge? Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe. See you there!

1. Has spring sprung in your part of the world? How can you tell? Did March come in like a lion where you live? Going out like a lamb or something more ferocious?

2. The last thing that caused you to spring to your feet?

3. Do you have a spring clean to-do list? What's one chore on the list you've already managed to accomplish? What spring clean chore do you most dread?

4. Tell us something you've learned about yourself or the wider world as a result of social distancing/the virus crisis.

5. Something you love that's the color pink?

6. Insert your own random thought here.