Wednesday, January 21, 2015

They're Doing it Wrong

It's been quite a while since my last post. I could use excuses about being busy with various things, but the fact of the matter is I write so much for a living that when I get home I just typically don't feel like writing anything else. My brain gets tired!

Recently, however, I've read some things that have prompted me to share my thoughts. Please understand the following opinions are my own, and a direct reflection of my beliefs as a Christ-following Christian. (Using "Christ follower" and "Christian" together may seem redundant, but for the purpose of this post the meaning is exactly what I want to convey.)

Social media is a strange animal. I am the social media director at my place of business, so I am constantly monitoring not only the pages devoted to my business, but also the pages of our peer businesses, general news feeds, blogs and any other web-based networks that may have up-to-date information about the ever-changing world of social media. In doing this I am also bombarded with irrelevant advertorial messages and the thoughts of those who happen to frequent my own personal news feeds. It is there that I have seen vicious rants about religion as a whole, and Christianity in particular. As someone who loves my Lord, it is, of course, offensive to me as a Christian, just as it would offend me if someone spoke harmfully about my husband or my daughter or even about me. But it also saddens me, because most of what has been written is due to an ignorance regarding Christianity - the people hating on my Jesus have never even read the Bible, and certainly have never studied it - and their hatred of Christianity as a whole is based on the words and actions of people who claim to be Christians but are doing it all wrong.

It may come as a surprise to some, but there are people who call themselves Christians who don't have any idea what the Bible says or the message that Jesus delivered. They may go to church every Sunday, participate in the pot-lucks, go to Sunday school, sing in the choir, wear a cross around their necks, and still not have a clue. To them, "being a Christian" is no different than being a member of a bowling league... it's a place to go and socialize. This is sad, but it's the absolute truth.

And the worst of these people are giving Christians a bad name.

See, here's the thing: It's about love. If you spew hate, then you don't know the Gospel. If you think that you can buy your way to Heaven, or hurt, or kill, or lie, or step on other people to get there, then your idea of Christianity is all wrong. IF YOU HATE, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. Jesus taught, He preached, He spent time with sinners, He wept... but He did not hate. His message was one of love.

The group of people that Jesus gave the sternest warnings to were the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of His day. They wore only the finest clothes, expected the best seats in the house, saw themselves as better than others, followed all of the "legal" religious protocols... and yet, Jesus was constantly telling them they were doing it wrong. (For reference, read Matthew 23.)

When asked which of the commandments was the most important, Jesus said:
"You must love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." Matt 22: 37-40 NLT, also found in Mark 12:29-31

In the Sermon on the Mount, which begins in Matthew 5 with The Beatitudes, Jesus preached that "God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the Children of God." (Matt 5:9) He said we shouldn't stay angry, and that we should reconcile ourselves with those we are feuding with. (Matt 5:24) He said we should love and pray for those who persecute us. (Matt 5:44) He said we should give to the needy, that we cannot serve both God and money, and that we should not condemn others. And He preached the Golden Rule. One of the most convicting lessons of this sermon for me is Matthew 6:14-15, which says that we must forgive others or we are in danger of not being forgiven ourselves.

In both Luke and John the story of Jesus clearing the temple can be found, which teaches us that religion is not to be used for profit and prestige. Jesus was not okay with people being exploited or harmed in the name of religion. We shouldn't be okay with it, either.

The Apostle Paul penned in his letter to the Galatians that when we are living a Christ-like life, we will display the "fruits of the Spirit," which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These qualities define who Jesus was, and if we are living a life that follows His teaching then we will display these qualities, as well. Even when trying to teach others in the faith, we should do it gently and with kindness, never with hatred and malice. If you call yourself a Christian and you spew hate, then you are doing it wrong.

The unfortunate part of the Christian church is that it is run by and filled with human beings, who are in their nature, imperfect. I am not perfect. I am a sinner. And I sit on the pew next to other sinners every Sunday. I mess up every day just like everybody else does, But I understand that if I love my Lord and ask for His forgiveness, and if necessary, the forgiveness of any person I may have hurt, then my Lord will forgive me. I understand that I am called to love others. Hate in my heart hurts no one but me in the end, and violence is hate in physical form. I understand that there are times when fighting is necessary, particularly when it's a battle between good and evil, and there is a lot of evil in the world today. But a battle due to pride or ego or the hate of something you don't understand is wrong. It's Just. Plain. Wrong.

So when I read the ranting opinions of someone who hates Christianity and denigrates those who follow its teachings, it saddens me tremendously. Typically, those who hate us don't really understand what we're about. They've only been exposed to or become the victims of the people who are doing it wrong.

I remind my daughter often to think of the consequences before making a decision or doing or saying something that could hurt her witness, and I try to do this myself. It's so important, because not only are we judged as individuals, we are also representing Jesus Christ. And we should never do anything to hurt or embarrass Him. We should always try our best, as imperfect human beings, to do it right.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Time Has Come... WAY too Fast

A friend of mine told me four years ago to brace myself because high school goes by "really fast." I blew it off, thinking there was no way four years could rush by quickly. I couldn't have been more wrong. Seeing this picture hurts me in a very deep part of my soul.

It's not that I don't want my daughter to grow up. I really am incredibly excited to see where life and God lead her. I know there are really big things in store for this young lady. I am so incredibly proud of her. If God had said to me, "Nea, choose any kid in the whole world to be yours, the one you spend the better part of your life raising, guiding, instructing, nurturing, loving," I would have chosen the one I have. Emily is a really good girl; she's smart (graduating with a 4.0 GPA!), funny, kind, compassionate and has a desire to follow Christ's lead. She's even contemplating going into the ministry and working with youth. Her teachers tell me she's one of their all-time favorite students, and parents have told me for years how polite and well-mannered she is. Seriously... this is a really good kid! And she will be a remarkable adult.

But that's the thing... she just turned 18. She's moving out of the house. I will not know where she is all the time, who she's spending time with, when she's on the road driving her car, what her homework situation is, what time she gets home each night. That bothers me, not because I don't trust her, but because my ability to protect her will soon become incredibly limited. She is outgrowing my sphere of influence and walking out of my arms of protection. Leaving the nest. And that HURTS.

While she begins learning how to be an adult - getting ready to start her first job, paying her first bills, registering for her classes, picking her major - I begin learning how to rely on God to take care of her. I already pray for her safety and protection (several times a day). Now comes the part where I have to replace action with faith. Faith in God to lead her in the right direction, and faith in the guidance and instruction I've given her all these years. It's like taking your heart out of your chest, putting it in a car and waving goodbye. She will take it with her everywhere she goes.

I love this group of kids. These are Emily's best friends. She got teary-eyed yesterday telling me how much she's going to miss seeing them every day. In the midst of "senioritis," it finally hit home for her how much things are about to change. Even though a few of them will go to LA Tech with Emily, she won't see them all the time. As high school ends, new lives begin, with each of them following paths that will take them to different places. They will all meet new people. They will all take different classes. They will move to different places, marry different people, do different things.

But they will take with them the wonderful memories of spending time with each other, playing pranks on their favorite teachers, working on projects together. Most of all they'll remember laughing. Their memories will bring smiles. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Better Late than Never

I have really not done a very good job of posting in the past 6 months or so. So to the three or four of you who actually check this blog, I'm really sorry! Nothing's been wrong, I've just been insanely busy with my job, which I LOVE, and church activities, and Emily activities, and all sorts of other things.

A lot has happened in the past few months. I'll try to make it quick.

So, this happened:

This is the digital version of the Delta Style Magazine out of Monroe, LA. I was picked by the readers to be one of the 2013 "Sweet 16 - Most Influential Women of the Delta." That was pretty cool! I don't really understand why or how I was chosen, but it was an honor and I'm grateful. (You can click on the picture above to read the text, or this link will take you to the actual page: . )

Then, this happened:

This is my precious child with one of her competition cheer team's state championship trophies! The Ruston High cheer squad really is incredible. They work their tails off - practice every day after school and on Saturday mornings to prepare for competitions.  A couple of weeks ago, we went with the team to Dallas for the NCA closed national competition, where they placed 2nd, missing the championship by .63 pt. The way the scores are tallied, the judges take the top 2 scores of the three phases of competition from each group and add those together to get the winner. Had they simply added the scores of all three phases for each team, Ruston would have won first place. So that was a bit of a bummer for the girls, especially the seniors. Emily is a senior AND cheer captain, so it was a rough trip home. BUT they have one more competition in Louisville in a couple of weeks in a different division (Dallas was "Game Time" and Louisville will be "Performance/ Non-Tumbling") so we are hopeful they will win that one. Fingers crossed and prayers for safety appreciated! Especially since we will all be on a charter bus in late February traveling round trip from LA to KY. Yikes!

Then Christmas happened, along with this:

Okay, this is actually a behind-the-scenes picture. My dad and younger brother, Morgan, were at the camera adjusting the focus and whatnot while the rest of us were freezing and waiting for them to push the button and run into frame. As is usually the case, my brother, Trey, (back row, second from right) started clowning around. But what's UNusual is that it's a rare occasion that we get his clowning on film. The final photo was great. But this was my favorite because it's so real and so "in the moment" and totally explains what happens at my dad's house when we celebrate Christmas. Trey's son, who is standing second from the left, even seems surprised by his antics. Fun was obviously had by all.

That's it for now! I'll write again... well, whenever I get around to it, I guess. ;)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Miss America Journey Part 2

Geez! I really didn't think it would take me this long to post the second half of this story, but time just got away from me and lots of stuff has happened.

Okay, so where was I? Yeah... right. I had just gotten to Atlantic City. Actually, my plane took me to Philly and I had to hitch a ride from there to AC because large airlines don't fly directly there. No worries, though. I got a ride with another Miss LA supporter and we arrived safely and without incident.

My roomie for the week was Christi Page Victor, Miss LA 1991. I was the one who placed the crown on her head. If you watch pageants, or did back then, you would remember her for her talent. She played and sang "Great Balls of Fire." It was very cool.

Anyway, here we are at the first night of the pageant.

The Miss America Pageant is actually a four day event. There are three preliminary nights, during which each state contestant performs a certain phase(s) of competition - onstage question, evening gown, swimsuit, talent - and then the final night is what you see on national television, when the top 15 are announced and compete. I coached our Miss Louisiana in talent this year, which is why I decided to attend. I only attended the preliminary competitions, and went home to watch the finals on television with my daughter. (During the broadcast, my precious child tweeted "Miss America is like Super Bowl Sunday at our house." Ha!)
I had a lot of free time during the day while there, which was fun. The weather was beautiful except for one night, which dampened our hair but not our spirits. Here are a few pictures from the week.
  This is the Atlantic City beach (obviously). What's neat about this picture is that last time I was there the beach might have been 10 feet in width. Basically there was NO beach. So this was a nice change, and had I known it ahead of time, I would've brought a swimsuit and enjoyed the sunshine for a day.

This is a fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Oh. My. STARS! This was divine. At this little corner pizza joint they would fry anything -- cinnamon rolls, Snickers, Oreos... you name it, they'd throw it in the grease. What made this particular plate of heaven so awesome involved a talent performance from the night before. Miss California performed a ballet to Swan Lake. So when they placed this in front of me, I immediately snapped a picture and sent this text to the Miss LA Pageant VP:

"Hey, you know how some people see Jesus in their mashed potatoes? Well, I just found Miss California in a fried Reese's!!!"

This is a few of the former Misses LA in attendance with our current Miss LA. From left to right, that's me, then Amanda Joseph May, Jaden Leach, Mette Boving Castor, and Christi Page Victor.

 With our current Miss LA, Jaden Leach.

As you can tell by my hair, this was the night it rained. The cool part about this picture is that I'm standing right next to the famous Miss America runway. It is 50+ feet long and looks like black glass. The dream of thousands of girls every year is to walk that runway; it was fun to see it again after 23 years.

This picture makes me giggle. With the return of Miss A to Atlantic City, a commemorative statue was created and placed just outside Convention Hall. Christi and I decided to have a little fun and "fight for the crown."

Our Miss Louisiana did not make the top 15, but she did win a non-finalist talent award, which means out of all the contestants who did not make the cut, she scored the highest number of points in talent. I can tell you, I'm certain she outscored several of those who DID make the top 15 in talent points, too, but she just didn't have the points from all phases of competition to get her into the semi-finals. Regardless, we were all proud of her, and she is doing a great job serving our state. She will crown the next Miss LA in June 2014.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Miss America Pageant, 23 years later...

In June 1990 this happened...

Even though I really don't like this picture (I look cross-eyed) I can still look at it with fond memories. My year as Miss Louisiana was one that really did help to shape who I am today, especially with regard to acquiring and/or sharpening the skills I have used for much of my adult life - public speaking, entertaining, diplomacy in difficult situations, communication skills (both verbal and written). I learned a lot about myself that year. Being a runner-up to Miss America was just icing on the cake.
I have been back to Miss America twice since competing, once in Las Vegas, and just last month to Atlantic City, where the pageant has returned after several years. Atlantic City was the birthplace of Miss A. In 1921 it was created as a swimsuit competition to draw tourists to the ocean-front destination. This is a photo of the first Miss America.
Her cape was an American flag and the crown was made to look like Lady Liberty. She was actually crowned in a swimsuit; this picture was taken later.
This year I coached Miss Louisiana for her talent competition. For that reason I thought it might be fun to return to Atlantic City to watch the preliminary competitions and be available for our state Miss in case she needed any last minute help or support. It was the first time I would return to Atlantic City after competing in the pageant myself.
In theory, it was a fun plan! Until I realized that I would have to fly. On an airplane. In the air. On an airplane. On an AIRPLANE!
It's a long story that involves two different, but very bad flights within months of each other. I'll spare you the details, but I can honestly say that I got down on my knees after the second flight, right there on the concrete in front of the pilot, after de-planing and thanked the Good Lord that He got me home in one piece.
So prior to this little journey, I did what any normal yellow-blooded human being would do... I called my doctor and requested a prescription for tranquilizers. That was actually a pretty funny call.
Me to the nurse: "Hi, this is Linnea Allen. I'm calling to request that the doc call in a prescription for me for Xanax. I have to fly... on airplanes... all day Monday and Friday of next week, which is more or less freaking me out. I am just hoping to get maybe two pills? One for each day of flying."
The nurse: "Does she normally prescribe that for you?"
Me: "Well, it's not often that I ask, but I can assure you she won't mind doing it. After being her patient for 11 years, she's very aware that I'm an anxiety-laden wimp. And I'm not a druggie or anything."
Nurse: "Okaaaaaayyyy...."
Me: "So, are we good? Can you guys call it in?"
Nurse: "I'll have to ask the doctor. Then I'll call you back."
Which she did less than thirty minutes later. All she said was that the script had been called in to my pharmacy. When I picked it up there were 10 pills in the bottle. Ha! Yes, it's clear that my doctor thinks I'm an even bigger wimp than I do.
Turns out I didn't have to take but one of the pills, because I sat next to a gentleman on the first plane who is an actual pilot. This guy gave me the best advice EVER. At one point during my flight from Shreveport to Atlanta we hit an air pocket, the plane dropped a little (I HATE that!) and he saw me grab my armrest.
So he said, "Don't like to fly, huh?"
Me (panicky and sarcastic): "Uh... how could you tell?"
Him: (Laughing, points to my white knuckles on the armrest.)
Me: Oh. Yeah. Don't like to fly. At all.
So he proceeds to tell me that he flies planes, and that another pilot gave him a piece of advice that helped to settle his nerves and his stomach when he was first learning to fly. So, of course, I'm all ears, waiting with rapt attention for this little nugget of information that was certain to alleviate all of my fears of flying. I leaned in, eyes wide open, and he says:
"Dead ass."
Me: "Wait.... what? I'm sorry... Did you just say DEAD ASS?!"
Mr. Pilot Guy: "Yes. Dead ass."
I wanted to punch him in his face. 
But then he said: "You know when planes hit turbulence or an air pocket and they bounce around or drop a few thousand feet?"
Me: "Yep."
Him: "Well, normally, people get light in their seat, pull their shoulders up, tense up their neck, suck in air..."
Then he sorta did this to show me:


And he continued: "But if you try to make your butt as heavy in the seat as you can, instead of drawing your weight up with your shoulders, your stomach will settle, you won't feel queasy, and you'll trick your body into believing you're not nervous."
I thought he was completely full of poop, but I was willing to try anything at this point. So as the plane continued to bounce around and began its descent into Atlanta, I made a consorted effort to try the Dead Ass Technique. It must have shown on my face (no face/ass jokes, please) because Mr. Pilot Guy looked at me and said:
"Is it working?"
I couldn't believe it, but it was! It really works! Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to share that I had an hour or so earlier taken half a Xanax. So it's possible that it was finally kicking in. BUT I continued the DAT (Dead Ass Technique) for my next flight to Philly and had the same awesome results. And I even braved the flights back home that Friday without any tranquilizers and the DAT still worked!
So I made it safely to Philly, hitched a ride from there to AC and began my week at the Miss America Pageant.
(To be continued...)
I will continue the story in my next post. But in the meantime, this is kinda cool. My stepmom, Staci, sent me a link that I received while sitting in the Atlanta airport awaiting my second flight. Check it out! Read about halfway down the page and you'll see a name you recognize!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beginning of the End

Well, it's a bittersweet time at our house. Our children are growing up. Case in point:

This is my precious daughter and me at our very last Bearcat Madness, which is where the Ruston High football team and cheer groups introduce themselves to their adoring public on a Saturday morning just after the start of school and before football season. You see, this is my child's senior year.

It hurts me just to type it.

I forewarned her a couple of months ago that I would be crying through the entire school year. She will be on the field cheering, and I'll be in the stands watching her and crying like a toddler at naptime.

I'm incredibly happy for her, but as her mom, I can't help but think about all the "first times" as we go through the "last times." For example, she had her last first day of high school a couple of weeks ago. She cheered at her last jamboree last Friday. This is her last football season to cheer as a high school student. But while I witness all of these lasts, I remember all the firsts. I vividly remember her very first day of school as a kindergartener when she wouldn't let go of my legs and was crying her eyes out, saying, "Mommy, please don't go!" I still giggle when I think about her first time as a cheerleader in middle school, when she was so nervous she could hardly say her name out loud. I remember the first time she tied her shoes, after I showed her ONLY ONCE how to do it. I remember the first time she crawled, the first time she walked, the first time she drove (yikes!), the first time a boy picked her up for a date. People with grown children told me that "high school goes by so fast." In my limited understanding, I just thought, "how can four years go by that fast?" But I'm here to tell you, it really does.

I think I'm so sentimental because Emily is the only child I birthed, and she and I lived alone together - just the two of us - for eleven years. I've been there for everything. Every decision I made was based on her well-being, and I busted my rear-end to make sure she was taken care of, even when that meant working more than one job at a time, or making tremendous sacrifices. Now, to see the young woman she is becoming, it's all been worth it.

But this is it. It's the last time I make the rules, the last time I have a major stake in her decisions. I've told her for years that I try to throw her as much information as I can and hope some of it sticks. It makes me incredibly proud to hear other mothers, or teachers, or even principals tell me what a "wonderful young lady" Emily is. It shows me that at least some of what I've thrown out there has actually stuck. But that doesn't make it any easier to know that very soon I have to turn her loose to be a grown person with a schedule I don't know, to make decisions on her own, and spend time with people I've never met. She will no longer call me to let me know where she is and what time she'll be home. My eyes just welled up typing that line...

The point is it's the beginning of the end of her childhood. Just like any normal teenager, she says she can't wait to get out of high school, and all I can think is how I wish it would just slow down. But then again, I know that it's also the beginning of the beginning. And I do look forward to watching her accomplish things on her own without my help. To see where God takes her, and the wonderful things she will do in His name. I'm just incredibly grateful He allowed me to be this incredible kid's mom... even if it does mean I have to let her grow up.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Almost There!

As usual, I've been pretty busy. Between working, continuing renovations on our house, and a week of performances at this year's Miss LA Pageant, I haven't had a whole lot of time to write. I have, however, spent some time enjoying my backyard. The pool, the plants, the privacy... it has become my little oasis. I don't need to go anywhere for vacation, because I have everything I need literally in my own backyard!

We aren't completely finished with everything, but I'm so excited about all the changes, I figure now is as good a time as any to post a few pictures. We will start with the inside.

Kitchen before and after:



Hall bathroom before and after:

Here's the newly painted hall. (I never took a pre-paint picture.)

And here are a few touches to the master bath. It's my indoor refuge, decorated with a photo shower curtain and other photos I took myself. I also antiqued the white cabinets with brown and black glaze. I love how they turned out!

Now for the outside! Here is the backyard before...

And the shed before...

And the patio table before...

And here's everything now!

Gosh, I love it when a plan comes together! In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that my precious hubby is responsible for all of the beautiful plants you see in the yard. He has the greenest thumbs EVER!

More later!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Learning to Fly

Mother's Day was a really great day.

I had the "special music" assignment at church for the early service, which basically means I sing the solo during the offering. It also means I have to be at church at 8AM, leaving my husband and daughter to join me later, since the service doesn't actually start until 8:45. Since it was Mother's Day, my mom and mother-in-law joined us, as well. Following church, we all went back to my house for brunch, which I had pre-prepared on Saturday.

My mom loves to plant flowers at her house, and has quite the green thumb. So, for Mother's Day I got her some new gardening gloves, a kneeling pad and a wide-brimmed, floppy straw hat. The hat ended up not only being a good gift, but also a source for entertainment, as you can see here:

I'm not sure why we didn't get Sweeter (Teddy's mom) to put the hat on, too. We had just finished eating and were sitting around the dining table passing that silly hat around and laughing our heads off.

Sweeter's gift was a quilt Teddy had made for her out of Casey's old t-shirts from when he was a little boy. It was a wonderful gift for a wonderful lady.

After eating and opening gifts, we went to the patio and chatted for a couple of hours. The weather was beautiful and it was really nice to spend time with our moms in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. And it's always fun to listen to the two of them tell stories about their children. I never tire of hearing stories about my husband as a young boy, especially those revolving around his getting into mischief.

The moms left around 3pm, and Emily and I put our swimsuits on and spent some time by the pool.  I was lying there reading my book, minding my own business, when out of nowhere a bird pooped right on the edge of my chair. I don't know why I'm a magnet for bird poop, but if you're ever at the beach with me, I advise that you stay a few feet away, especially if there are any seagulls flying around. I don't understand it, and I certainly don't celebrate it, but I've learned over the span of my 45 years that I attract two things: crazy people and bird poop. Consider yourself warned.

But I digress.

ANYWAY... so the bird poops on my chair, and I get kinda agitated, and I look up to see that it's one of two cardinals I've noticed flying around my yard quite often the past few weeks. I had noticed previously that these birds - one a bright red male, and the other a brown female - were quite aggressive toward other birds in the yard, especially a blue jay that tried once to land in one of our trees. The red birds chased that blue jay away from the tree and out of our yard, which is something I had NEVER seen before. Blue jays are typically the aggressors, and can be really mean to other birds and small animals. I actually saw one dive bomb my dog one time. Freaked me out, to be honest.

So here were these two cardinals again, this time showing their respect by pooping on me. I had had enough! I grabbed the water hose and started spraying the top of the fence where they were perched. They flew away, and I cleaned the poop off my chair and off the concrete, put the hose away, sat back down, and noticed those darn birds had come right back to perch in the same spot. I watched them for a few minutes and realized that each bird would take turns flying away, and then return to the same spot. They would then drop down to the ground at the base of the fence, where we have flower beds topped with pine straw, and then fly away again. The male did that, and then a few minutes later the female would do the same. I couldn't figure out what they were up to, until I saw what looked like a little brown fur ball bounce up and down and the base of the fence.

I went inside and got my camera and attached my telephoto lens and saw this:

There were two baby birds! I'm not sure if they had fallen from a tree that was a few feet away from where they were, or if the mom had built the nest in this spot to begin with. But I kept my distance and captured a couple of cool shots. At this point, both the mama and daddy birds were feeding the babies, flying off to get more food, and then returning to feed them again. I was surprised to see both parents feeding the babies; I thought only mama birds fed their young.

The daddy bird was really quick and my camera wasn't cooperating, so I never got a shot of him feeding the other baby. I only caught him when he was perched on the fence.

In this picture he was watching the mama feed the baby. It really was cool. But it wasn't the coolest thing I witnessed. I wish I had been able to videotape what happened later, but if I had moved, it would've scared them. And since I had already sprayed them with the water hose, I figured I had done enough scaring for one day.

A couple of hours after I first spotted the babies, Teddy and I watched as the two parents taught the babies how to fly. It was one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen. The parents would perch on top of the fence, as in the photo above, looking at the babies. Then, as if they were saying, "See, watch how I do this," they would fly off, landing on the roof next door. Then they would return to the fence, and do it again. The first little baby started sort of bouncing, with his little wings flapping hard. He would get about two feet off the ground and then fall back to the pine straw. After doing that a few times, he got some air under him and flew up, landing on the first rung of the fence. He stayed there for a few minutes, and flew up to the second rung. All the while, the mom and dad birds were still "showing him" how to fly to the roof. He stayed on the second rung for a few more minutes, and then flew to the top rung. And then, much to our surprise and delight, he flew! He followed his mom and dad, and landed on the roof next door. They stayed there a few more minutes, as a family, and then he followed his parents - flying! - to a tree in our front yard. It was awesome!

The second baby bird was a slightly slower learner, but he eventually made it out after nightfall. I haven't seen the cardinals at all in the past couple of days, but I hope I will always remember them. I learned several things about those birds in the few weeks they inhabited my yard. I learned that they will aggressively protect their young, that both the mama and the daddy do the work and feed their kids, and that they will not abandon their children until they have successfully taught them how to fly.

If all parents of the human variety would do those things for their own offspring, our world would be a much better place.

Luckily, Teddy and I both have mamas that love and care for us. And I try to be the best mom I can for my daughter. I vigilantly protect and care for her. I have worked hard her whole life to keep a roof over her head, and food in her belly. And I've done my best to be a good example and to teach her how to fly. I just hope I'm still around when she's all grown up so I can witness her incredible flight.

Monday, May 6, 2013

So, 45 hasn't been too bad thus far...

Yep, today marks my 45th year on this earth. And I have to say, I've had a pretty fun day so far.

I have to be out of town for a couple of days starting tomorrow, so when I got to work this morning, I knew I'd be really busy trying to get ahead on this week's duties. I was "in the zone" when I heard a knock at my door, and a very handsome man entered carrying these.

What you can't tell from the picture is that this arrangement stands about 2 feet tall. It is the most beautiful arrangement I've ever seen. Oh, and my precious husband was the good looking guy who brought them to me. Teddy + Flowers = Very smiley, happy wife.

Shortly after receiving the bouquet, I finished my work and met the hubby and my precious friend, Dr. G for lunch. As always, a fun time was had by all. Before heading back to work, I ran by my house to grab something, and found this next to my garage.


I'm not sure if you can tell, but there is a card tied around the first flamingo's neck. It is the best card EVER. See if you agree...

I'm still laughing! Isn't that a great card?! After much thought, we finally figured out that Dr. G and his lovely (and hysterically funny) wife must've left this for me while I was away. They also left another funny item (which I cannot share on a public forum) in our backyard next to the pool last night while we were at church. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have friends like these two. And for real, when I got out of my car and read the card attached to the flamingo I literally laughed out loud. Right there in the front yard. I was still laughing when I walked into the house, and am laughing now after reading it again. Made. My. Day!

It's been a good day so far! Now all I need is a piece of cake. :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Few Little Things

I can't believe I'm writing again so soon, but here I am! I've had a really busy, but truly great day. And I just have to say this... I love my job. I love the work I do, I love the people I get to work with, I love my office... it's just a really great place to work. The coolest part of all? Pretty much everybody else who works for my company would say exactly the same thing. Our culture is something that's really special, and unlike other businesses that use "culture" as a buzz word to replace "customer service," ours is clearly defined. My title is Culture Communications Officer, and it's my job to make sure that the communication, both internal and external, reflects who we are. Today I had the opportunity to direct the filming of a video that will explain our culture in definitive terms, and it was so much fun! So there's that.


So, I'd like to share a few thoughts, two of which I mentioned in my last post. I'll make them as short as possible, and I apologize if I offend any of the 5 people who will probably read this post. Please feel free to share your views in the comment section below!

1. I was nearly killed last Wednesday night. I was driving home, in my little Toyota Camry, when I had to come to a complete stop and wait for traffic to clear in order to turn left onto my street. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a white suburban barreling toward me, not even beginning to slow down. There was a woman driving (I could tell from the height of her hair) and when she finally looked up and slammed on her brakes, her car fishtailed and the tires squealed. Luckily, there was no one stopped in front of me and I was able to hit the accelerator to get out of the way. I was freaked out about that incident for two days. I realize I got out of there unscathed, and for that I am extremely grateful. But all I could think about for those two days was what would have happened if that had been Emily in her little Honda Civic. I can tell you. She would not have been looking in the rearview mirror, the woman would have hit her going about 45 miles per hour, and it would have propelled my child's car either into one of the telephone poles that are about 15 feet from that spot, or into the ditch, or into an oncoming vehicle. What in the world could have been so important in a residential neighborhood that would keep you from paying attention to the road at 5 pm when the traffic is heavy?! I'm fairly certain the woman was messing with her phone. I prayed about the incident that night and the day after. I prayed that the woman learned her lesson, and won't endanger anyone else's life. I also prayed that I would learn from her mistake, as well, and be more careful driving.

2. I really don't want to get on a political rant. But I just don't understand why politicians, primarily our president, are supporting legislation that would cut Social Security. They are calling SS an entitlement. So let me get this straight... Since I was a teenager and had a job, the government has taken money out of my check. They've taken federal income tax, state income tax, and they've taken Social Security. But they've always told me that I would get that Social Security money back... that they were just basically borrowing it and would give it back to me when I retired. It's supposed to be like a savings account in the government's bank. Since it's my money that they are taking from me... since I PAID for Social Security... it is NOT an entitlement. But those people who do not work and get paid to do nothing? That's called Welfare. And Welfare is an entitlement. They didn't pay money out of their paychecks because they aren't earning a paycheck. They aren't working. Those of us who are working are paying them to not work. That's an entitlement. And it's not fair. It's not right. And the non-workers are NOT entitled to take my money away from me. If the government is going to continue to take that money, but not give it back to me, then quit calling it Social SECURITY. Just call it what it is... more income tax. If they are going to cut entitlements, then cut the programs that give people something for nothing.

3. Medicaid -- See # 2.

4. In Ruston, where I live, we have a large number of people who have taken to the roads to get in shape. They're doing this on bicycles. And they're doing this on two lane roads with heavy traffic, four lane highways with even more traffic, two lane country roads with lots of hills AND lots of traffic. Now, I am 100% in favor of people riding bicycles. But I do not pay taxes on my vehicles so I can nearly crash my car trying to avoid a person on a bicycle who happens to be riding less than 5 miles per hour on a road where I am allowed to drive 45 mph. Neither are the people driving the 10 cars behind me who cannot get past the person on the bicycle. It's dangerous and it should be against the law. Again... my daughter drives a car here, too. As a 17 year old driver, who is by all accounts very careful behind the wheel, Emily often drives on these roads. What if she, or any other young driver, driving the speed limit and as carefully as possible, comes around a curve, or over a hill and accidentally hits a person on a bicycle who is riding at 3-5 mph on a road designed for automobiles? What if that bicyclist dies? How does a 17 year old get over something like that? How does she ever get behind the wheel of a car again? She would have done nothing wrong, but still endure all the blame, and tremendous survivor's guilt. And why? Because the person on the bike cared so little about anyone else on the road that they felt it was just fine to block traffic and to endanger young drivers. There are bike trails, and there are larger residential roads that have extra space for joggers, bicyclists, and other folks who are getting on the roads to get healthy. If bicyclists think it's unfair that smaller cities don't have bike lanes on major thoroughfares, then they should campaign to have the cities create them. Until that time, it should be illegal to ride your bike on high traffic roads and highways. (I'm not hard-hearted, and do have compassion and sympathy toward the hypothetically dead cyclist's family and loved ones. Just sayin'.)

5. I have become addicted to a substance that is so incredibly good and probably really, really bad for me.
Oh, my sweet heaven, this stuff is like crack. (I'm guessing here. I've never actually partaken of crack.) Even my precious hubby, who is a black coffee with just a half teaspoon of sweetner kinda guy, likes the stuff. I have found myself to be even more caffeine-jittery than usual, because I've been carrying it with me in zip lock bags to work every morning, AFTER I've already had a cup at home. Use this stuff at your own risk!

I guess that's it for now! Feel free to leave a comment. If no one comments, I'll just take it for granted that all of you agreed with me. :)