Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gobble, Gobble....zzzzzzz

So, what does Thanksgiving mean to me? Hmmmm....

I find it interesting that the meaning of the day has changed for me over the years. It used to merely mean a couple luscious days off school, a little shopping (nothing 3 a.m. crazy) with my mom, tons and tons of mashed potatoes (my favorite) and chilling to play games with my beloved Grandmother and family.

Now, the day is generally spent with me getting up early in the morning because I was too lazy to make my portion of the meal, which is usually some new dessert I've been dying to try out. I live 5 hours away from my parents...sadly, I've since lost my Grandmother and don't make the trek home for the holiday meal like I used to. Instead, we go to my in laws for dinner with them and my husband's brother's family. It is cozy. I don't have to make a turkey, which I cherish. [someday I'll have to tell you about the year I made a turkey on the grill because my stove blew up...best turkey I've ever eaten.] The day is spent chatting around the table, playing games, looking at circulars, and trying to relax.

While I no longer get to go Black Friday shopping, that suits me fine. I hate crowds of people and hate the commercialism that Christmas tends to bring. It seems that this nation has forgotten to cherish the holiday that causes deep reflection. This is evidenced by the Christmas ads that you now see even before Halloween. It is sad and breaks my heart.

In my home, I have a strick rule that is enforced. NO CHRISTMAS MUSIC UNTIL THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING! Yes, I am very strict about this, because I never want my daughter to forget to be thankful. It is already sad enough that we blow through most of the year without remembering to cherish the simplicity of our lives, the little blessings and the big ones, and just the dog-gone time with family and/or friends.

My goal at some point is to go for and early Thanksgiving lunch with family and then go as a family to serve meals at the local shelter. For me, I believe that would complete my day more than any parade could.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Laugh at the Little Things

So, I've been challenged to answer the question of "What Makes Me Laugh". Hmmmm...it has, I must say, created quite the thought process for me, because I enjoy laughing and it made me realize just how often I do truly laugh.

[Sidenote: I am highly medicated on cold meds...hope this all makes sense :)]

Ok, in case I haven't told you before (although I'm pretty sure I have), I'm a dork, so I tend to laugh at stupid things. For instance, I find the commercial for Scared Shrekless hysterical...every time the gingerbread man poops jelly beans because he is afraid, I bust up laughing. Honestly, I could be in the middle of a conversation and laugh about it. I truly tried hard to find an image on the internet, but failed. Commercials that show people running into things, such as signs or doors, also spur on loud belly laughing from the pit of my stomach. Depending on the commercial, it will envoke tears with that laughter. I know...it's just a commercial, right? But...why not enjoy life?

Besides items seen on TV, I tend to laugh at silly things. I find squirrels, yes, squirrels to be hysterical creatures and will often pass many a minute watching them outside the window. (I'm sure they'd be less funny if they were inside my house.) But, seriously, tell me they are not funny to watch with their tail twitching back and forth? My dog creates much laughter in that she is so gosh darned carefree about life. She chases that ball like it is the last available ball on the Earth. My dog also uses the most interesting ways to seek my attenion and never fails to bring a smile and chuckle as a response from me (note above picture). After giving this aspect some thought, I realized that sometimes the most innocent of things creates laughter within me. I think it is mainly due to the fact that they are true and real in their simplest of forms.

Times with friends usually and almost always inspires laughter at some pathetic and silly act. Generally, it wasn't, but done by accident....be it a mislad word or phrase or action that just was out of the blue.

Sure, jokes are funny, but I always feel like I need a fake laugh for them. True laughter comes from the things that arent' planned...the things that just happen. Sometimes those are trips or falls (as long as the person isn't hurt...well, maybe even if they are-hardest thing ever to hold in a laugh of that nature) or just a snapshot of life as we know it. Hmmm...maybe this question is harder to answer than I first thought.

What do you think?

The blog post was inspired by the #letsblogoff folks. All of the other entries can be found at www.letsblogoff.com. Have a read to see what makes others laugh.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Connected....but Not Really Community?-TAKE 2

Ok, so I jumped the gun a little last week and posted my #letsblogoff topic too soon. Yes, I did wonder why no one else had a stream going of posts, but somehow convinced myself that I was just in stealth mode and got there first. Dreamland, right?

P.S. Since my post, I've decided that being an introvert excludes me from many things and that if I can be outgoing once I'm in a group of people I know, I can be outgoing in a group of people I've never met. The challenge is set and I refuse to be one of the statistic that feels they need an internet connection all the time to keep their family together and/or friends together.

Enjoy the post (below)!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Connected....but Not Really Community?

Caption: Found this picture online and couldn't resist.

Today is Tuesday....so, today is a #letsblogoff day! Basically, several Twitter users have decided that it would be fun to bounce a random topic around via their social media worlds. I have found this to be a very interesting experience, not to mention a great way to get me writing again. Here's my official badge for the day (to show my inclusion). You can follow the other blogs by visiting www.letsblogoff.com SIDENOTE: I have not edited this post, as I feel it brings out the "realness" of it all that way...sorry if I've rambled.

The question at hand today? Do social sites like Facebook connect the world or isolate people?

Hmmm...there is a part of me that says Facebook is definitely connecting the world. Because, well, sure - it is! Facebook and other social media sites are allowing people that don't normally get to see others a way to communicate, to chat, to share things about themselves. For me, I get to see a few of my family members about every 2 to 3 years in person (yes, sad, I know, but life gets busy). Via Facebook, I have been able to view pictures of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. My Grandma even got to see pictures of my kids and family while visiting my aunts house. I've been able to chat and connect with a few people that I've lost touch with. I've been able to stay in touch with the group of middle school girls that I lead at church. Awesome, right? Yes. It is awesome to be able to have that sort of technology.

Take Twitter, for example. I consider Twitter a notch up from Facebook as far as social media goes. This is the most real time thing I've ever seen. I've been able to connect with people I would have never had the opportunity to chat with, share information with, and joke with. It is really a cool thing (even though my husband ribs me constantly with the sophmoric nature of it all...he doesn't get it).


Here's where it is time to roll up my sleeves and bring out my inner insecurities to explain why Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are not the end all and can honestly end up isolating someone:

I tend to appear to be a very outgoing person...I love to chat and hang out with people (thus why the real time nature of Twitter is so fun). Once I meet someone, I'm usually fine hanging out with them and building great community with them. I love to ask how people are and check in on them. BUT...(yes, you had to know there was going to be a but)...

I am a horrible introvert at the same time. I hate eating at restaurants alone. I almost always refuse to walk into somewhere by myself unless I know there are people I know there. I prefer to stay at home and watch a movie, rather than go out to eat where there are crowds of people. Are you getting the idea here or should I go on?

I can't explain why I'm this way, but I do realize that social media allows me to stay this way. For the most part, I do not friend someone on Facebook unless I've met them...why would I really want to? And yes, I have had the opportunity to meet a few of the Twitter folk that I follow...usually by accident. Each time I get a chance to meet one of my fellow Tweeters, I always feel a bit awkward. I have absolutely no idea why...ok, maybe I do. Could it be that it is easier to hide behind an avatar? Could it be that my high school insecurities come raging to the surface? Ummm...yeah. I think that's it in a huge nutshell. Really...I write much better than I formulate words. When I talk, I tend to trip over my tongue and have them looking quite confused. What if they think I'm an idiot? What if they stop following me after they meet me because they really see how much of a dork I am? Can I handle that? Each time I've actually gotten the courage to walk up to someone and say something to the effect of "Hey! Are you @____? I'm Splintergirl!" I've been proud of myself and happy that I did. But intially, I do tend to hide behind the avatar - not really knowing how to make the leap between virtual and actual.

So, I find timing hysterical sometimes. I actually had the opportunity to meet several local Twitter folk last Saturday evening. My husband and I were at a local resaturant. When we walked in, I recognized immediately @charleski. I said nothing, knowing that she'd never recognize the ponytailed, hatted avatar based upon the dressed up me. As we were waiting, @adamhann, @primaljeff, and another person from our church walked and sat down. Again, I squirmed. They all knew each other and work together at our church. They were having a spirited conversation. And...I said nothing. How do you stumble in on that conversation without feeling odd? Are you seeing a pattern here? To further add conviction, @mspiker and his wife @OTgremlin walked in. I have actually MET @OTgremlin and serve on a tech team with her. I actually did wave at her...whew, at least I tried, right? Then @mspiker came up with @JenniferSayer to say hi to the other folks sitting next to us...yes, right next to us. I again (yup you guessed it) said nothing. Can anyone say LOSER?

What was I thinking? I wouldn't be surprised if they all stopped following me on Twitter to be honest. Because I've essentially isolated myself, right? If they are good enough to chat with on Twitter, why did I find myself unable to introduce myself? Ahh...yes, see above fears already noted. To all of the above Lancaster people listed: my sincerest apolgoies and hope that you will offer grace. I promise to introduce myself next time with "Hi. My name is Amy Good."

So, do social media outlets connect the world? Of course they do. They make follow up with people easy and they allow for you to brighten someone's day with a kind word or two at just the right moment. Are they an end all? NO! Without face to face interaction, they are still just virtual and not real...not really. By that I mean, one's life cannot solely consist of friends in the viral world. You cannot hide behind a computer for all of your life...that would be isolation. You, as with everything in life, must have a decent balance. Some social media and some real world. Some virtual hugs and some real world hugs. Personally, I thrive on the real world ones.

So what do you think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Testing or Tempting

Ever have those days or times where you have a thousand different things going through your head? Distracting thoughts. I find them extremely frustrating. Generally, these distracted feelings come when I have the longest to do list…aka multi-tasking will cause this. In a perfect world, we’d be cape wearing souls every day and be able to zip through our lists. In the real world, it just doesn’t always work out. And, just let one snag hit while your attempting the massive feat of getting everything done. I liken it to a meltdown of sorts (or at least in most of my cases).

So, why does it happen?...Why? I doubt that it is for me to say. But, I do have some assumptions.

Am I being tested? Hmmm….possibly. More likely, though, I’m being tempted, tempted to speak words that I’ve chosen not to utter, tempted to kick the air in disgust, tempted to allow myself to anger easily, tempted to basically allow my inner 2 year old to come out and behave as if the world has taken my favorite toy away. I must sheepishly admit that it certainly isn’t the first time this temptation to act out and stamp my foot has come up. Generally, I am able to push it aside or acknowledge it and move on. But, today….today, it took several hours to right my thoughts. It really is a shame because in those several hours I have to wonder how many people’s lives I touched in some way or another. Grace was certainly not on my mind or in my actions (including the candy machine that I forcefully pushed back and forth to give up my candy bar that I had paid for but got stuck coming out).
Satan causes temptation. He causes us to anger easily and he revels in the fact that we can park there in our own cloud of stupidity. Anyone thinking that God would cause that sort of thing clearly has to be mistaken (or maybe just needs to take another look, I guess). God made us for relationship. He wants us to cultivate them, as well as His kingdom. I can’t imagine that He would be looking at my inner 2 year old and smiling broadly. But, He does grant me the grace to pick me up when I finally realize how ridiculous I’m behaving (I believe that realization clicked after I finished devouring said candy bar mentioned earlier). He, in fact, picks me up every time I decide to follow the path of temptation, whether it be a huge detour or just a small one.

I will never pretend to understand all of the inner workings of His creation and how it all works together, but I am always, always aware that I am truly blessed to be a part of that and forever thankful for the unending grace that is given to me. And, I pray that some day I will be able to completely ward off the temptation that wells up inside me. But, that is not for me to fix myself and can only change by turning it over to Him. I finally understand the email quote that I received several years ago. I wish I could find it. It was something to the effect of: “Today, God, I give you all of my worry, all of my pain….I give it all to you.” I know there was more to it…just can’t think of it.

I remember reading it and scoffing at it several years ago, thinking “How? How am I supposed to just give it up?” It makes sense. It is only through Him that the worry and pain and whatever else can go away. It is only through faith that we can be restored. Hmmm…funny that I struggled so with that meaning. I mean, it made me feel warm and fuzzy and moved me emotionally, but I just couldn’t understand why. I think now I do.

P.S. If you know of the refrigerator notice and can find it for me, please send it my way. I know it wasn’t a specific scripture, but an email type thing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are College Graduates Ready For The Real World?

Ok, so over the past month or so, several of some great Twitter folks have been doing what they affectionately call a "Blog Off". I've been intrigued to join the mix for several weeks and have finally committed (see my official-looking badge below?)

*SIDENOTE: My post is based upon personal experience, observations (yes, opinion) and business experience.

Ok, so on to the topic of "Are College Graduates Ready for the Real World?". My response, sadly, is "It depends". Why you ask?

Well, it depends on how serious the student took their training. Did they view college merely as a party stage of life? Did mom and dad pay for it all with the student nary a care in the world? Did the student dig in and really study, really take this serious? Did the student research job availability research for after his/her graduation? Did said student seek out employment or internships? Wait...I'm asking questions and am supposed to be answering them.

First, let me be real honest for a moment. I graduated just about top in my class. I was excited to go to college and knew precisely what I wanted to do with my life. (I had wanted to be a lawyer since I was about 10.) I had researched my field and discovered that an Accounting degree was the best degree to enter law school with (good thing I was good at math and business). So, I busted butt in high school, even with the newborn that I had had just before senior year (life does have those curve balls, right?) and had a great support system and some scholarships. After the first year of college, reality struck that I couldn't pay for college and would need to get a full time job and put college on hold. So, no, I did not graduate from college, but I believe my real world experiences and lessons are more than capable of answering these questions (I believe).

Mostly, college grads are not truly ready for the real world. What classroom can prepare you for the various different positions out there? How could a college professor possibly know all of these details in order to teach them? The main reason for college to get the ball rolling. That is why many colleges require internships and the like. The hope there is that you'll intern with a company that may ask you to remain on staff, thus you've invested in your future employment and they have invested in a future employee. Make sense? We've actually hired an intern or two at my company (Lancaster County Timber Frames, Inc.). We've found that while the drafting courses helped to prepare the intern, we had to retrain them. This retraining was not based on the fact that they AutoCad/drafting courses they took were sub-par, but merely because we are highly customized with how we utilize the program (see previous mention about varied skills in various companies). But, had that employee (now here for almost 6 yrs) not went out on a limb to start the course and then ask for the internship, he may have either decided to abandon his degree or have went in a different direction.

One of the main points that I think is missed, though is that the question has been directed towards 20 something people. What about those people that choose to return to college in their 30's or 40's that have been working in the profession for many years and are finally returning to college to make it "official"? Are they prepared for the real world? Probably. I suppose there are some that still are fully prepared, but I think those students that take the course of reality first and then studies may just be more prepared and be able to put that college education to work for them faster - not to mention possibly appreciate it more. I think it really boils down to a maturity level that has been attained (and the fact that they've had to finance said education on their own and probably juggle it with full/part time work).

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the read for my first attempt at the #letsblogoff. I hope I won't be outlawed from future posts due to my ramblings *smiles*. And, I hope to be one of those "matured graduates" at some point in the future. But, for now, I'll enjoy my life lessons college...or is it, graduate of the school of hard knocks? I wouldn't exchange my kiddos for the world...everything I've learned from my school of hard knocks has helped me in my professional world.

Here are the other participants:
Sean Lintow @SLSConstruction
Paul Anater @paul_anater
Bob Borson @bobborson
Nick Lovelady @cupboards
Veronica Miller @modenus
Becky Shankle @ecomod
Tamara Dalton @tamarajdalton
Tim Elmore @timelmore
Rufus Dogg @dogwalkblog
Bonnie Harris @waxgirl333
Richard Holschuh @concretedetail
Tim Bogan @TimBogan
Hollie Holcombe @GreenRascal
Cindy FrewenWuellner @Urbanverse
Steve Mouzon @stevemouzon

Friday, August 13, 2010

Banana Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

*recipe works for 1 1/2 quart Cuisinart machine
*I'm still working on getting the recipe creamier, but this was still pretty darn good.


1 1/2 bananas, pureed
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk (1 use 1%)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint blueberries, pureed (1/2 pint if spouse gets hungry before ice cream making adventure day)

*Mix heavy whipping cream and sugar in medium bowl until sugar is dissolved (hand mixer for 1-2 minutes)
*Add bananas, milk, and vanilla
*Turn on machine and pour mixture in...total time is about 25-30 minutes but you'll want to check it periodically
*As mixture thickens, add 1/2 of pureed blueberries
*When ice cream is done, pour into bowl
*Take spatula and hole down in, pour some blueberry mixture and turn spatula once
*Repeat spatula step 3 more times (total of 4)until blueberry mixture is gone or the ice cream is to consistency you desire.
*Grab a bowl, a spoon, and some chocolate syrup and ENJOY!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Right Path or Just Going Through the Motions?

Did you ever think you were on the right track, finally going the direction you should be going only to watch as the road seemingly turned to dust? The path you thought was so true and right all of a sudden seemed bumpy and unmanageable.

Several things have made this pretty crisp to me lately. I have to step back and ask if the path I am taking is my path, my choices. Have I consulted God to see if this was the proper path? Did I even consider His plans? Did I make undue assumptions? (Because, I'm great at assuming things.)

Proverbs 16 is filled with many reminders. Verse 1 tells us that we can make our own plans, but God will always have the right answers. Verse 9 tells us that we make our own plans, but the Lord will determine our steps. Am I following the path that I believe is right, but that only ends in death? God has a way of pulling us back sometimes when we have reached the brink of disaster. Verse 3 reminds me that if I just commit my actions to the Lord my plans will succeed. I thought I was doing that. But, have I really? I have to beg the question of whether I have just gone through the motions.

This morning, I received a devotion that suggested that reading your Bible should not just be on your checklist of things to do that day. The writer suggested that we stop reading our Bible...not in a literal sense, but to stop just reading it to check off another "I did all my Christian activities". She encourages instead that we read as if we are talking to God, pick out a verse that speaks to us and read it over and over, and finally find a way to act upon it. It follows the "READ, CHEW, DO" that we are learning in 56 at LCBC. What verse leaps off the page? How can I apply it to my life? But the thing I had missed was not grabbing my Bible and sitting down at the table to run through the motions and underline a few words. What I've failed to do is about taking a few moments BEFORE reading to just pray from my gut that God will speak to me, admitting that I don't understand and that I feel my path straying.

In the end, it is about loving myself. If I don't truly love myself, I can't expect others to either. It is about forgiving myself for the wrongs that have committed...God has, why can't I? It is about baby steps toward the right direction and visibly noting those little improvements. And, most of all it is about knowing there will occassionaly be lows, but celebrating the highs and constantly striving to connect on a deeper level.

My action item (and maybe yours): Time to stop zombie walking and going through the motions and inject some "caffeine" into your relationships and become active in them, including your relationship with Christ.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And the Loser is Stubborn

Are you a stubborn person? I am. I’m not proud to admit it, but the reality is that I am that person. The one who likes to win the game, the race, the fight, the whatever. Somehow it feels good to win, right? For that instant, you are on top of your game – winner of your world.

But, at what cost did you win? Did you say hurtful things to win? Did you cheat? Did you lie? Did you purposefully behave in a less than likeable way to avoid admitting that winning is not everything? And now that you realize it, can you take back those actions, words, or lack of action?

I suspect we are all guilty of all of the above at some point or another.
For me, it is not about cheating or lying. For me, it is often about saying or doing hurtful things that seem to make me feel better at the time. Or, avoiding bringing a conflict to an end because I choose not to be the first to say “I’m sorry”. Even as I type this I feel childish. But, the reality is that it is SO easy for me to do this as a way to somehow validate my feelings.

I have to wonder in the moments of clarity where God was in my thought process. How did I somehow make ME bigger than Him and His love? How did I forget that love conquers all and selfish, childish behavior reaps more selfish, childish behavior that eventually leads to lonliness. As you know, sinful nature costs us. We all pay for our sins. In prolonging any dispute, I’m sinning. The longer I prolong it, the more costly to me and those around me. Why? Because I’m prolonging the love that I could be showing. I’m missing moments that are so precious and memories that could be formed….all because I choose to be stubborn. Also, life could be over tomorrow. Would they know how much I cared or just know that I was frustrated?
In the quiet of my drives to work, I realize that I am blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. I am truly thankful for all that I have and appreciate it. But, when my car arrives in the driveway, life seems to smack me in the face and somehow that appreciation floats from my consciousness. I’m working on creative ways to put the appreciation at the forefront and give my selfishness, childishness, and stubbornness a backseat for awhile-they’ve ruled long enough.

Some thoughts for how one would do such a thing? I’m not sure what works for you. My thought would be to remind myself prior to walking in the door that I love my life and I am blessed. A mantra was given to me recently “God is WITH you and God is FOR you.” Maybe the same could be said about those family members. “I am WITH you and I am FOR you.” Maybe it is more about actually telling them? I’m thinking a nicely written letter, explaining the reasons for my appreciation and eventually a verbalization of those sentiments. Baby steps.