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Hodgepodging Through the Summer

I’ve been a little quiet on my blog this week.  I’ll be writing about that tomorrow or the next day.  For now, why don’t I just focus on the fun Hodgepodge questions that my friend, Joyce, dreamed up.  To play along, answer on your own blog, and then link back up with Joyce!  Thanks for visiting!

1.  On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far? Why? (1=eh and 10=best summer ever)

I’d rate this summer as an 8.  It’s my first one as an empty-nester and, well, my house has felt empty.  Rooster’s girl has come over once or twice a week for dinner, but not having my boy under my roof has been strange.  Despite that, I’ve still done pretty good with myself.  I’ve maintained my workout routine, experimented with vegan recipes frequently, read…a lot, and have caught up on the rest I desperately missed out on during the school year.

2.  July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day. Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up? Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them? Are you an aunt? (or uncle for the men who join here on Wednesdays) Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who call you Aunt (or Uncle).

Despite having fourteen aunts and uncles on my mom’s side and one uncle on my dad’s side, I was not close to any of them.  They lived in Canada and France, and I only remember one of them coming to visit when I was very young.

I am the aunt of two nephews.

I don’t have one particular memory that sticks out; however, I will say that watching my children play with their cousins when they were little was always fun.  My kiddos and my oldest nephew are very close in age (Rooster and this nephew are actually the same age).  They’ve always gotten along marvelously.

3.  What’s your favorite food dipped in chocolate? What’s your favorite food dipped in cheese?

I make a vegan dessert that is, essentially, peanut butter balls dipped in vegan chocolate.  It’s pretty delicious!  I can’t have cheese because I’m lactose-intolerant, but I do remember going to a fondue place, when I lived dangerously despite the allergy to milk, and dipping everything in the cheese.  So.  Yummy.  I miss cheese.

4.  When were you last astonished by something? Explain.

I am constantly astonished by how stupid politics is.  I cannot even bear to turn on the news because of all of the “leaks” and backstabbing that’s going on right now.  It’s embarrassing that human beings can be so corrupt and underhanded.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

That’s all I’ve got to say.

5.  Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board…which board have you most recently encountered?

I’d have to say that my ironing board and I got up close and personal last week when I ironed a couple of dresses.

6.  What’s your favorite story from scripture? Why that story?

There are just so many to choose from!  I’ll go with Boaz and Ruth.  It’s such a sweet story of how God redeemed a young widow through an honorable man (Boaz).

7.  If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see?

I already live in Florida, so I’ll start from there, I guess.

By the way, this question is HARD!  I don’t know much about individual cities in many states.  Yikes!

I know I’d like to see Mount Rushmore, so that would be Keystone, SD.

I’d also maybe like to visit Durango, Colorado.  My dad was fond of this place when he was alive.

I’d also like to see the Painted Desert, which is vast.  I’m guessing that going through Holbrook, AZ, would be the way to go, though.

A stop in Seattle would be awesome.  I really enjoyed the day we spent touring this city after the Alaskan cruise I went on six years ago.

My trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop in San Francisco to visit family and see that famous bridge!

8.  My Random Thought

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the First5 app.  It was created by the Proverbs 31 ministry and has a new devotion each day.  The app became available last summer, and we’ve been working our way through the Bible, one or two books at a time.  The writers are ah-mazing, and the lessons so thought-provoking.  There’s a video message each weekend, where a couple of the gals wrap up each week’s lessons.



Yeah, I already said that.

Well, Lysa TerKeurst, the founder, spoke at a She Speaks conference last weekend, and the First5 app allowed its users to stream her lesson.

She’s amazing!

Yeah.  I’m overusing this word, but who cares.  🙂

The lesson was all about loneliness, the theme of her new book, Uninvited, which is being released the first week of August.

I pre-ordered the book and got to download the first five chapters.  I’ve read three or four of them.

Such incredible (like the new adjective?) stuff.

As I watched her speak through the app and remembered the words I’d read from her new book, my heart was stirred.

Feeling uninvited is familiar to me.

I’m already a pretty solitary person…probably because I feel extremely awkward in social situations.  Really, I think I’m just awkward in general.

I’m really looking forward to this book coming out and learning how Lysa has started her own process of healing in regard to this area of her life.


Even though it’s my summer break, and the days kind of run together, I find myself looking forward to the weekends when the Mr. is home from work.

As new empty-nesters, we are starting to fall into routines that work for us.

I kicked off the weekend on Friday with a beach lunch date with Rooster’s girl.

We ate at one of my favorite places right on the beach.  The view…so lovely and peaceful.

Saturdays find us sleeping in.  It’s a luxury that I do not take for granted…especially with 4am wake-up calls looming on the horizon again (for me…not him).

Even though I got up late, I still managed to get in my workout.  I just don’t feel as though I can enjoy my day guilt-free if I skip out on this.  Plus, it burns extra calories that I can later eat.  🙂

Ever since Rooster left in April, we started making trips to the beach on Saturdays.  Sometimes, we just head to the neighborhood pool.

We’re getting pretty good at this, even keeping a bag ready with our towels and sunscreen.

I always throw in a book, and we fix coolers with snacks and drinks.

First, though, was lunch…a necessity given my workout.  I was starving!  I ate a bowl of West African Peanut Soup.  It’s less like a soup and more like a stew.  The next time I make it, I’ll either increase the vegetable stock or will decrease the amount of brown rice.  It’s delicious, though!!!!!

The Mr. surprised me as I was selecting my water wear.  He’d purchased a new bathing suit for me!  They’re on clearance right now at Victoria Secret.

Because the water at the beach had been FILLED with seaweed the week before, we opted for the pool this past weekend.

It.  Was.  Hot.

Unless it rains, the water is tepid…not cool.  At least it’s wet and offers a bit of respite from the heat and humidity.

I loved my new bathing suit.  It was the perfect fit.

We really enjoy watching young families at the pool.  The little kids are too cute.  I have discovered, though, that I have a limited tolerance for boys between the ages of nine and twelve years old.  Oh my, but they are LOUD at the pool!  And they are rough.  And they don’t care who they splash when they jump in.

The Mr. knew I was starting to get annoyed, so he suggested that we leave.  We’d already been there a couple of hours, so I quickly agreed.

The Mr. wasn’t feeling well, so we stayed in for dinner.  I ate another helping of the soup.

Sunday mornings find us going to church.  First, though, was my workout.

We skipped our usual lunch with friends to run to the grocery store and Hallmark.  I picked up this Itty Bitty at Hallmark…

These are all the rage with my Facebook support group.

Then, I ignored the huge pile of dirty dishes in the background below and got ready for a second stint at the pool.

The weather was uncooperative, though.  We kept a close eye on the sky and my weather app, and hoped that the promised thunderstorms would skirt us.  They did.  For all of thirty minutes before it started raining.

Back into the house we went, where I picked up the third book in The Testing series and started reading.  I couldn’t help but notice the blurb you see boxed in below.

How fitting, do you think, regarding the leadership crisis we are experiencing right now in America.


I watched First5’s weekend video message, which was one of the BEST since this free app started last year.

I was in tears by the end.  God’s provision…His promises…they just awe me.

The dogs tried to use their cuteness to get me to fix them an early dinner.

Their charms did not work, by the way.  Poor babies.

Dinner was leftovers again, but I was craving something sweet.

I turned to one of my newest favorite recipes…Crazy Cake…which is so simple and contains NO eggs!  It and the chocolate buttercream frosting are vegan-friendly.

The rest of my evening consisted of Big Brother (what a crazy episode!!), Next Food Network Star, and more of my book.

I absolutely love my weekends.  We don’t run hard any more.  I’ve learned the value of lying low and taking things easy.  There’s a peace that my soul has yearned for and is now able to enjoy.

Reflections from 2015

I’ve quit setting New Year’s resolutions because I feel as though they become empty promises to myself.

I prefer to reflect routinely on things and purposefully make immediate changes to improve things…or purposely accept things that cannot be changed and try to move on.

So, let’s see.  2015 was an interesting year.  I spent the first few months angry about my VAM score (my teacher evaluation).  I consider that score a mixed blessing, though, because I decided to quit killing myself by working all the time and start balancing my life more.  As a result, I began working less from home and stopped working on the weekends.

In March, my mom had a brain aneurysm that nearly took her life.  We reconnected, and I talked to her fairly regularly for a while as she gave me reports on her health after she left the hospital.  Unfortunately, this good will hasn’t completely lasted.  We’re still having some problems…the same problems we’ve had for years…and I’m finding myself frustrated and hurt, as I’ve spent most of my adult life.  I have to find a way to work through this.  I am by no means a great daughter.  I’ll readily admit to this.  Yet, I am a person who desires to be treated fairly…loved equally.

One amazing thing that happened over the course of the last half of the year was that I began a serious journey to become more fit.  I’ve talked about this on my blog, but it bears repeating in my reflection.  I was called “thick” by a student last year, and this hurt my heart so much.  Just like my VAM score, I used it as motivation to get better and started out by lifting weights. at the gym  When school started, getting to the gym proved to be challenging, so I transitioned to working out at home with my first Beachbody program, Piyo.  The focus on exercise and diet has completely changed me, and I am more fit than I’ve been in fifteen years.  I went down one pants size and have more endurance than ever before.  I’m more confident and happy.

Overall, I think that 2015 was about balance.  I’ve learned to balance most parts of my life.

Warrior 3 – One of my favorite Piyo positions

I’m not a workaholic like I once was.  I know part of this comes from having more experience with this being my sixth year teaching.  However, with my frustration at the education system as it exists, I decided that doing as much as I can during actual at-work hours was okay.  With the exception of one night a week at home lesson planning, I do everything else at school.

This has meant that I’ve had to quit being so anal about things.  I’ve learned how to leave grading on my desk.  I’ve learned that it’s okay to tell students that I haven’t gotten to something yet because I’m choosing to be a regular person outside of school.  Surprisingly, they understand.  I have learned not to over-commit to things because I’m still in the baby phase of balancing out my life; old habits are lurking in dark corners ready to take over again should I stop being vigilant.

2015 was a year in which I became even more self-aware.  I am a solitary person.  I am not a very sociable person.  I am awkward when I get in group settings, which is probably why I don’t have a lot of close friends.  It’s been a hard realization to see others draw closer to each other, but I am slowly learning to accept it and not feel jealous.  I treasure my time with my husband, children, and fur babies, and that’s okay.  I’m a homebody and fiercely independent and do not need to apologize for it.

My self-awareness extends to my walk with Christ, which always needs improvement.  This past summer, the First5 app got released.  It’s done by the Proverbs 31 ministry and is simply fantastic.  Every morning, before I even get out of bed, I read my devotion and watch the Weekend Wrap-Up videos.  Starting my day in God’s Word and praying have refocused my life.  No, my renewed focused hasn’t made my life perfect, but spending time talking to my Father, who knows me best, has reminded me that I exist for His glory, not to meet man’s expectations.

The new year should be interesting.  There are changes afoot in my world…changes I’ll slowly blog about as they come to fruition.  Such is the way when one gets older.  My plans are just to take things one day at a time and praise God for whatever comes my way.  He has ordained my life, and He will be glorified through everything He allows into it.

Learning to Rest

Gee whiz, but time flies so fast these days!!!  I can scarcely believe that it’s been nearly twenty-one days since my last post.  Good gravy!

When last I posted, the new school year was about to begin.  On Friday, we finished our third week.

Thus far, things are going swimmingly.  To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  Despite this being my sixth year, I still experienced anxiety in the days leading up to the 18th.

I am pleased to report that I am loving my classes.  God has turned what was, potentially, a nightmare of a schedule into one with hidden blessings.

I always enjoy my students; however, the mixture of them in various classes doesn’t always work well.  Personalities are that way, don’t you know.  This year, though, the kids are getting along better.

There have been a few issues, to be sure, but what can you expect when you’ve got between fifty and sixty hormonal teenagers crossing your threshold each day.  Still, considering all of that, things have gone well.

No matter how smoothly school goes, one thing doesn’t change.

The fatigue.

There’s a crap-ton of it.  I find myself bone-tired every day.

My students require a lot of hands-on assistance; putting papers into folders a certain way can take my students entire class periods.

I kid you not.

The first few weeks are all about teaching procedures and getting organized.  I thrive on both…so do my kiddos once they learn the way I like things.

I’m trying hard not to bring work other than lesson planning home with me; however, I cannot seem to get caught up.  That’s why I found myself, after the Auburn game yesterday, grading…

I read everything and leave comments all over the place.  I want each student to feel special.  Feedback and, more importantly, accountability, are very important…especially to my students…many of whom don’t experience much of either once they leave school each day.

It’s exhausting though.

Molly felt my pain yesterday…

It was my full intention to finish my grading today…Sunday…after church.

God had a special message for me, though, spoken through one of our youth pastors who preached our sermon today.

We’re currently going through a series that mimics school subjects.  Today’s topic was about Recess.

We were reminded about why God created the Sabbath…a day of rest.

Several things struck me as I listened.

First and foremost…God didn’t need to rest.

I don’t know why I’ve never considered that before.  I mean, He is God, after all.  He never grows weary.


I can be so slow sometimes.

God created the Sabbath to set a precedent for us.  We are to set aside (keep holy) the seventh day (without getting legalistic, which the Pharisees did).

I needed this reminder to keep my time at home as work-free as possible.  I started doing this last fall, and although I didn’t always get assignments graded the day after they were turned in, my students, surprisingly, understood and even empathized.  God worked everything out, as He always does.

I will admit that I’m struggling, though…the pull to get something constructive done is strong.  I already sent one email to my reading department…I just could not help myself.

As far as the rest of my day goes, I think I’ll cast on a new knitting project.  I’m not playing in my Harry Potter House Cup this term.  I stressed myself out this summer by committing to a lot of knitting-related projects and didn’t get to read as much as I wanted.  Getting to knit without extra pressure of points will be good for me (by the way, Hufflepuff won the Cup this summer…which I played a role in).

Resting on the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments.  My daily First5 Bible study is creating a renewal in my heart.  The more time I spend reading God’s Word, reflecting, and praying, the more I want to live out His commands.  He has been incredibly faithful in the tangible way He’s answering my prayers.  I know that He will honor my efforts as I fight my inner overachieving nature to serve Him more diligently.

Monday Morning Musings

It’s still summer vacation (for a few more days anyway), and I found myself awake at 6:30.

To be sure, it was the alarm and not my internal clock at work.  My body wanted to sleep longer; however, the reality of having to go back for pre-planning on the 11th makes getting up earlier a much-needed exercise to prepare myself.

I’m not really a morning person.  Ever since I started teaching a few years ago, I’ve found myself becoming more and more of a night owl.

Still, though, this morning, the house is quiet (now that the dogs have been fed).  The sun is shining through my windows, the slats of the blinds turning the light into a soft golden color.

The dogs have gone back to sleep, and the men in my life (aka The Mr. and Rooster) are still dreaming whatever dreams men their age dream (I suspect the common theme is Auburn football with it being August and all).

In other words, it’s peaceful right now.

I find my soul at rest as well…ready, as always, to reflect a bit.

I’m thinking about my summer and how special it’s been.

No, I didn’t take a trip anywhere.  The Mr.’s work schedule has been very hectic since May.  Trying to coordinate it with Rooster’s (we want to take a family trip) has been impossible.

I’ve been content, though, to lie low at home.

I’ve gotten myself into a comfortable routine…one of self-care and personal indulgences.

Morning workouts at the gym have tightened up my muscles and have cultivated a confidence in my body that had been lacking for quite some time.  It didn’t help that one of my students from this past school year persisted in calling me “thick.”  In her world, that’s a good thing.  In my anorexia-leaning mind, it was not a good thing, but it did drive me to reign in some bad habits (Chick fil A sweet tea, anyone?) and replace them with edifying actions.

I’ve stretched myself with my reading.  Game of Thrones does not make for light reading, let me tell you!!

I’ve knit to my heart’s content and even learned how to crochet a little better.

I’ve watched Netflix…a lot of it.

I’ve napped…two or three times a week sometimes.

I’ve eaten lunch with Rooster nearly every day.  At 21 years of age, his days of living at home will be ending soon.  It’s just what children do…grow up and create adult lives for themselves.  Thus, I’ve treasured every single meal shared…more so this summer…and the conversations we’ve had during these meals and all of our free moments in-between.

Miss these days

I’ve seen a couple of movies with my guys.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself has been to reconnect to God’s Word on a daily basis.  I’m using a new, free app called First5.  It’s part of the Proverbs 31 ministry, headed up by Lysa TerKeurst.

Right now, we are working our way through the book of John.  Five days a week, there are lessons based on the teachings in John.  The sixth day, Saturday, there’s a video weekend wrap-up…a delightful surprise that I had not anticipated.

I’ve been reading these devotions right after I wake up…before I check email, Instagram, or Facebook.  I’m trying to be purposeful about spending my first few waking moments with God, reading, studying, and praying.

I’ve found myself returning back to the lesson from each morning as I go about each day.  This is a good thing.  I want to be reminded of God’s teaching because, too often, I let my emotions rule my actions.  I know this will be especially true when school resumes, and my patience will be tested by the very in-the-moment teenagers who will enter my room each day.

The timing of this app’s release is perfect.  I feel as though my heart was being prepared for it during the last few weeks of summer vacation.  It has settled…quieted…so I really can hear God’s prompting.

This peace is something I will have to pray hard to maintain as my class schedule promises to be especially challenging this year.  I just keep reminding myself that God was very purposeful when He created me; He expects me to be purposeful in living out my life.  Right now, that purpose is teaching…touching the hearts of desperately needy young people.

Boy, that’s some heavy stuff for a Monday morning, is it not?

But you see, it’s really not heavy because God, whose shoulders are strong, is carrying everything for me.  All I have to do is let Him and thank Him.

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