Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Saturday - Places to Go

OK - so it's another time for me to point you toward a GREAT summer resource for those days when you don't know what to do or where to go because you are all out of ideas. 

Whether you are a visitor to Texas, or whether you find that one of these places is in your back yard, the Texasbob.com Texasbob travels site is a great way to find unusual and interesting places to visit while you are in Texas. 

Maybe you live down the street and didn't know it was there. 

Maybe you are going to be in an area of Texas on business and want to get a real feel for the local flavor. 

In any case, this is a great resource!

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to spend your day not doing very much....

Ya'll know that on most days I do alot.  I've always got an innumerable list of projects to choose from at any time.  This week has seen me really diggiing in and getting several things checked off of my "to do" list. 
  • This week I have written 2 blog posts a day
  • I completed my "school transiton notebook",  
  • I have made further progress on my afgan,
  • I finished re-organizing my closet
  • AND my dresser drawers. 
  • I hauled 4 bags of clothes (3 more to go) to a local charity
  • Spent about hours on the phone and online making some changes in my renters insurance that ultimately ended in me getting a new insurance agent.
  • I went to the store for my quarterly "big" shop AND hauled it  all upstairs and put it away....
  •   I cleaned my apartment for company.... (the lady who cleans my house is on vacation),
  •  AND I hosted a dinner party.

So today I rested. 
Today was a restful day for me.  I slept late.  When I finally woke up I wrote a blog post for my other blog.  I listened to some of the Harry Potter audio book that I am on.  I ate some lunch.  I checked my facebook.  I read some blogs that I am following about teaching music and left a few comments.... It's the time of year when the music teacher blogs get really interesting...... While I was listenening to the slow rain and thunder outside I thought that a nap seemed like a REALLY awesome idea!  BUT, I got distracted so I listened to some more of my audio book while I played a video game on my cell phone.... which I have discovered to be the death of any attempt to do anything productive......at all.........

THEN, I took a nap. 

THAT my friends was how I spent my Friday!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for July! 

I have used THIS July to get my circumstances in order!  I have worked on my home, my blogs, my teaching, my transition to a new job and generally made progress on ALL  of the projects that get put off until the summer.  Most of all I have rested!  I LOVE JULY!


Today I am thankful for my friends!

Just yesterday my sweet friend Pam who is packing and moving a
nd chasing a two year old chose to spend her time chatting with me.  I appreciate and am thankful that time that she took to be my friend.   I am also thankful for my friends who live here in town who are giving me a reason to quit "relax-working" so that I can have them over for dinner! 

Today I am thankful for my mom and dad.

I enjoy their company so much and just love talking with them. 

Today I am grateful for my brother.

Matthew has been my roommate for almost a year now and he is a GREAT roommate!  He is definately a quiet presence, but I appreciate his steady dependability and quirky sense of humor.  I'm thankful that SOMETIMES if I stay up late and if he gets home before 10 p.m. we get to chat. 

Today I am thankful for technology.

I know that technology can distance us from people if we aren't careful, but I love the way it helps me to stay connected with people that I would ordinarily not be able to keep in touch with.

Today I am thankful for crockpots!

I seriously don't know how I ever cooked without one.  Nowadays it's the only cooking that I do.  On the menu for tonight? with leftovers for tomorrow? How did people get things done without them?  BBQ Beef sandwiches, SMASH potatoes and baby spinach with poppy seed dressing! oh yeah and chocolate chip cookies.....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Video Wednesday! - Strange, creative and super cool


This video totally fascinates me!  I found this group called Pentatonix on youtube.  I enjoy acapella singing and this group is good! 

This bizarro and creative video takes their talent to a whole new level. 

I am fascinated by the creative use of songs to retell this well known story.  I am intrigued and impressed by the different ways that they "mash" the songs together to tell the story.  VERY creative and getting to see this today, made me want to share it with you! I hope that you enjoy!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Slugs Guide to a Clean Closet -Part 2 BE CREATIVE - putting your closet stash of goodies to good use!


One problem with my closet is that it is home to all of the incomplete inspiration that plagues me when I have free time.  I am the queen of getting ALL of the supplies for a given project and then I just get too busy to finish them.  So this last two weeks I have spent a considerable amount of time crocheting, and painting and then I've also spent some time getting my T-shirts ready for a new T-shirt quilt!
 
 2nd tip for having a clean closet is to be creative! 
Use up anything and everything that might be in your way.   You can donate, repurpose, gift or sell anything that you create..... but here is the catch.... You can only use your closet stash of goodies! 
- SEE I told you would enjoy it. 
These are the T-shirts I found taking up space in my closet that
 I don't wear anymore!
They are taking up room in my closet because of their
 sentimental value.
 Admittidly  process of making something out of junk  may cause you to have things a little cluttered while you create but in the end, you will have more room in your closet. 
Here is what a pile of T-shirts look like after you've cut
 them into quilt squares.  Sometimes you can even create squares
out of the lapels.


This is a T-shirt quilt I made my freshman year of college.
 It easily fits my queen size bed!
I'm super excited to make a new T-shirt quilt because I use the one I made right after high school ALL the time!  I love it because it washes well, I can keep it in my car for picnics, or I can use it as a temporary bedspread when my nice one is at the cleaners. 

My brother got one for his graduation and like me, he uses his all the time!
We made a T-shirt quilt for my brother Matthew back in 1997
when he graduated high school. This is my mom and me looking
MUCH younger!


My grandmother Jennye Ready helped. 
I wore my glasses that day never dreaming
these pictures would see the light of day.




 

 
 
Here is my mom and my granddad Mike Ready. 
Tacking (tying) my brothers quilt was a family event. 

 
 
I want to make a T-shirt quilt today!!!  What now???
 
1. Gather your T-shirts
2. Decide on a size for your squares - measure measure measure!
3. Cut your squares
4. (Iron on fusable web) - makes it much easier!
5. piece your squares together in the pattern of your choice
6. Add batting if desired
7. tack your quilt to the back
8. bind the edges of the quilt
DONE!

I am always looking for great DIYs and information about T-shirt quilts. There are some AMAZING instructions out there, all more clear and consise than mine.   Please visit my Pinterest board where you can find directions to make your own AND links to services who will make the quilts for you!
 
Here is a link with DIY instructions for the AMAZING traditional quilt frame that my family uses when we tack a quilt. 
 
 Are you CRAZY?!!!  This is sooo not for me! 
 
Maybe the idea of making your OWN T-shirt quilt is enough to stop you in your tracks.  Maybe you'd rather do anything else.    Don't worry!   
 
Remember that PILE of T-shirts?  Well, now you can send your T-shirts off and it comes back as a quilt! 
 
If you want someone to do the work for you, then I suggest Lauren at AlmostCasual.   
 
Lauren from  almostcasual has great designs and layouts for T-shirt quilts and her work is beautiful!  Having made some of these quilts, I can tell you that her work is also VERY reasonably priced. 
 
Even if you aren't the sentimental type who wants to keep your old ratty t-shirts now that they've been repurposed into a quilt.....
Your t-shirt quilt would still make an excellent donation to a homeless shelter. 
Maybe you have enough t-shirts from your school to make an entire quilt.  Wouldn't that be an appreciated raffle item?  - I think so!  
 
Enjoy your creativity as you take one more baby step toward a clean closet.
 
 
 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Favorite things!

So I am one of those folks who is semi-addicted to Pinterest. 

I use it all the time! 

I use it while I'm teaching. I have boards created for different subjects and I either refer to Pinterest to help me while I'm planning or preparing materials, OR I've even opened up the website and followed a link to a video clip that I have previewed that I knew would be a perfect fit for the lesson. 

I use it at the grocery store.  If I find a recipe I want to try, I don't write anything down, I just follow the links to the recipe and read the blog post with the recipe right there in the grocery aile. 

I use it for home projects.  The other day I was contemplating the purchase of some fabric for a T-shirt quilt I want to make.  Rather than wonder how much fabric I needed, I got onto Pinterest and found the pin that I knew would have the information that I needed. 

Because I use it a reference tool so much, and because I enjoy blogging, I can see how it's changing the way that we use social media. 

However, as much as I would like to talk about Pinterest, the REAL reason I wanted to mention Pinterest at all is because it was through Pinterest that I came across an artist and blogger that I LOVE!   

Her name is Chrissie Grace and she creates the most beautiful products and of course they fit my personal taste to a T!  So that is why I'm sharing her blog with you here today. My favorite part about her artwork is her use of bright color, and encouraging scripture.  Her pieces would make wonderful and encouraging gifts!


Here is the artwork that first caught my eye while on Pinterest.  Please take a look at her blog!  You will be amazed at all of the beautiful things!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Songs for Sunday - "Heavenly Sunlight"

Today we got to sing "Heavenly Sunight" as part of our worship together at Tallowood.


As part of my research today I came across several interesting and compelling sources of information about the lyrisit and composer of this wonderful song. 

According to the blog
The lyrisist for "Heavenly Sunlight" was a Methodist minister who served 50 years in as a pastor as part of the New Jersey Methodist Conference.  The melody was brought to him by George Harrison Cook. 

According to the website called  wordwisehymns.com

"A gospel song on the theme of sunlight was written in 1899 by Henry jeffreys Zelley (1859-1942), Pastor Zeley faithfully served the Lord, during a ministry over fifty years long.  He was considered an exceptional Bible scholar, and his spare time was spent writing poetry. 

On one occassion a man named George Harrison Cook brought the pastor a tune, asking if the latter could write some appropriate words for it.  Cook was involved in a lifelong ministry of music, singing, playing, composing, and training other musicians.  It was not the only collaborations of Zelley and Cook, but the one produced 'Heavenly Sunlight'.  A scolar he may have been, but the simple truth of Henry Zelley's hymn is writhin the grasp of all. 

In 1942 Charles E. Fuller, who founded the Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio broadcast in 1925, adapted the song's refrain for use on its own.  'Heavenly Sunshine' became a widely popular little chorus four decades after the hymn was written." 


Did you notice that this song was the natural outcome of service in progress?  This pastor was walking in Sunlight as he ministered to others over his lifetime!  I love the testimony of service his life brings to these lyrics!

The blog called Heirlooms Reunited is really unique and a great resource of original source information.  I have linked to a post that contains photographs of the March 1947 issue of The Choir Herald which contains brief biographical information about Rev. Henry J. Zelley, D.D. and a transcript of the pertaining paragraphs. 

According to historicalhymnals.com the song Heavenly Sunlight was first published in the 1903 hymnal called Songs of Praise and Salvation.  Now a part of the public domain, the lyrics of the hymn as as follows:

Verse 1:
Walking in sunlight, all of my journey;
Over the mountains, thro' the deep vale;
Jesus has said "I'll never forsake thee;"
Promise divine that never can fail.

Chorus:
Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine;
Hallelujah! I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine. 

Verse 2
Shadows around me, shadows above me,
Never conceal my Saviour and Guide;
He is the light, in Him is no darkness,
Ever Im walking, close to His side.

Verse 3:
In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,
Pressing my way to mansions above;
Singing His praises, gladly I'm walking,
Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.

This morning as the opening introduction was played, I realized  that it has literally been years since I've had the chance to sing this song.  I was so blessed to get to sing it today.  As soon as the first notes were played, my mind was immediately flooded with memories of the 4-5 years that my daddy, Bob McSpadden served our little church by leading the music on Sunday mornings.  I have vivid memories not just of the time that he spent leading the songs, but also the time he spent each week, choosing the hymns.  Apparently, "Heavenly Sunlight" was one of the hymns from the 1976 Baptist Hymnal that was on the short list of "Bob's Top 10" favorite hymns to sing because we sang it ALOT! 

My dad has a simply tuneful and uncomplicated voice.  His voice is pleasant to listen to, and like everyone else, he gets better at singing the more he practices.    However, beyond his breif membership in his father's barbershop chorus that he participated in as a young man,  he doesn't have any formal musical training beyond what he learned in high school band playing the baritone.  As a baritone player he is more comfortable reading the bass clef and since at the time I was enrolled in piano lessons, he would occassionally ask me to help him figure out how a melody went which as it turned out was about all the help I could give him. 

 His time as song leader didn't last forever and there have been other avenues of service that have been a better fit for his personality and expertise.   However, God used his service as song leader during those years to teach me about faithfulness.  Week in and week out, as weeks turned to months and months to years, He served faithfully and remained steadfast.  He met the need as long as it existed.  

I've noticed that sometimes there are times in life when we get to serve the Lord according to our gifts and areas of expertise, when our training and knowledge seem especially well placed to face any eventuality.  We walk confidently into a situation as we see God's hand moving to provide at every turn.  Sometimes God even gives us and those around us the eyes to see what He is doing and someone might say as Mordecai says to Ruth about her place as queen, in Ruth 4:14, " .....And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"   Ironicaly, we are sometimes blind to HOW we were equipped and prepared until we get to view a situation in the past.  As often as not we are asked to walk with a posture of obedience despite our lack of training or skill.  It's times like these when our feeble offering of willing service gives God the opportunity to be glorified in ways that we miss out on when we only serve where we are experts.   God uses ever experience great and small, both formal and informal to equip us for the days we live and HE has a perfect plan!   Therefore we can offer ALL of ourselves as living sacrifices to him. 

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.  " Romans 12:1


The overarching theme of the hymn "Heavenly Sunlight" seems to me to be that we get to walk in fellowship with the Lord for all of our days. What better provision for however we are called to serve than this?


Here is a video of this song being sung - I love it!










Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Saturday! - Things to Do

It's Saturday and you've ran out of fun and entertaining things to fill up your long days of summer.  My advice would be to find an interesting or unusual event in the

Texasbob.com

Texas Events Calender

I spent some time looking around the events and there really is something for everyone. 

You can search by type of event or my month. 

Even if you can't make it to your event today, THIS is the perfect Go-to resource for down home events that will give you the chance to rub shoulders with the locals. 
 
 

Friday, July 12, 2013

I love road trips!

The day I bought my new car
Some of my fondest memories are from road trips. I actually just finished my first road trip in my new car when I went to see my best friend Pam!

I love the open highway, I love the scenery, I love the rest stops at roadside parks and historical markers. 

Apparently I've always loved road trips.  You see my parents tell me that I learned to walk in my dad's big yellow Chevy van WHiLE he was driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour!

My love of road trips didn't diminish as I got older.  You see when you grow up in the middle of no where and the closest movie theater and Wal-Mart are 52 miles away, then you get used to driving a long way for everything. 

It was no big deal for our Jr. High basketball teams to drive 2 and 3 hours for a Tuesday night game.  They weren't all that far away, but several of them were.   

So here are  some of best road trips I remember from my childhood. 

Here are my top three favorite road trips from when I was growing up.  Maybe if you find yourself in that area, you can check it out.



1.  The Drive from McCamey to Paisano Baptist Encampment.... and MARFA! Don't forget the Marfa Lights!


2. The drive from McCamey to Fort Davis! It's the BEST place EVER!  For more information check out this article at Texasbob travels

3. The drive from Houston to Brownwood and Howard Payne University

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thankful Thursdays - 5 ordinary things that I'm grateful for!

Yesterday I posted about my efforts to change my thoughts. 

So, today I am sharing 5 simple things that I am thankful for today!

1. I CAN SEE! I have a new batch of disposable contacts AND permission to wear them.  My eyes got sick in May and so I've been forced to wear glasses for weeks and only got to wear my contacts for extra special occasions the last couple of weeks of June.  So excited!
2. School Mess is almost managed!  -
Although I'm not finished yet, I have completely emptied 1 crate and 1 small box of PAPERS! So I'm celebrating the progress!!!! 
3.  I am on the last row of "rust" on the afghan that I am crocheting that I am determined to finish!
4. Today, because of all the extra writing I've been doing   I get to spend my afternoon and evening writing music, which is the hobby that I enjoy the most, but hardly ever get as much time to pursue as I would like.  YIPPEE




















5. I have written 11 DAILY blog posts for this blog and 11 DAILY blog posts for Melodysoup.blogspot.com!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My personal mind renewal plan



Today was trash day at my house.... and as they say,
Garbage in - Garbage out!
The same is true with our thoughts! What are YOU feeding your mind?
Today as I was preparing to write this post, I kept coming back to the idea that I should write about the need to fix my thoughts.  As it turns out, improving my thoughts is something that I'm always working on, but find that at the moment, my mind is in need of some special TLC. 

 And yet, there is still part of me that clings to the wrong notion that since my thoughts are my own and since I really don't share everything that I think, then why should it matter really? 
Well, ya'll know that the Lord didn't leave me to that idea for very long.....  In fact He immediately brought scripture after scripture to mind to show me otherwise. 

First of all I was reminded that; 

The same God who loves me, already knows me and ALL my thoughts. 

1 Chronicles 28:9b says, "...for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought...".

and one of my favorite Psalm says,

"You have searched me LORD,
 and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely." 
Psalm 139:1-4

Then I was reminded that;

As a believer in Christ, I am a NEW creation! -Old thoughts no longer have a home in my mind ! 

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

It's at this point that I need to say that any attempt to renew my mind all by myself would fail utterly.  I simply don't have the power to cause that kind of change.  However, it is through faith in Jesus Christ that I am made new and free to walk in the fullness of life!   Click here if you would also like to have peace with God.

Then I remembered that as a Christ-follower I need to guard my thoughts because;

 God has a plan, and it is his intention to share it, and since I'd like to be a part of it, I'd better be ready!

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-3

Then finally, I was reminded of a verse that I can use as sort of thought-guide. I could even give it a little title;
 

God's guide to how to mind your thoughts!

 
" Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable,  - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  Philippians 5:8

I find that this verse is an EXCELLENT test for me to use to decide IF my line of thinking should be pursued. I also appreciate that these are general definitions, not specific!  That way I can apply this verse in every situation.

I especially like the way that the words true, noble, right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent and praiseworthy dwell on the heart that motivates the very best of our thinking. 
 
I love the way that I can pull out any part of this verse as a quick measure any time I am in doubt about the nature of my thoughts. 

Is this thought true?  - This is important as we are vulnerable to lies.
Is this thought noble? – What is the motivation of this thought?
Is this thought right? – According to God’s law is my thinking wrong?
Is this thought pure? – Not, is this thought socially acceptable or popular….
Is this thought lovely? – Often the loveliest things are the simplest.  Am I noticing them?
Is this thought admirable? – or merely a waste of time?
Is this thought excellent? – Here is the motivation for the hard work of full application to a task. 
Is this thought praiseworthy?   - Gratitude for creation that leads us to praise God for what He has done in us and in the lives of others.  
 
Any teacher will tell you that at least when it comes to establishing meaningful rules for students, that "DO statements" are much more well received than "Don't statements" by students.  Like us, our students are human and don't enjoy being told no.  However, even teachers who like me have learned to spin every command into a positive admonition, will admit that sometimes students really just need a "non-example".

So, being the teacher that I am, I've taken the time to come up with a few antonyms to help me create a sort of opposite verse for my own use because sometimes we need the "DON'Ts" spelled out.
 
Here is how my verse of non examples might read......

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is untrue, whatever is ignoble, whatever is wrong, whatever is defiled, whatever is ugly, whatever is detestable- if anything is of poor quality or worthy of rebuke - DO NOT think on such things!

Now that I've seen the list of things that I am supposed to avoid I'm starting to understand why we need a DO list instead of just a DON'T list.  By the time I get done riding my mind of the "don'ts", I may find that I am hard pressed to immediately come up with worthy alternatives.

So the Lord provided a list of "think-worthy" things.  

 It's such a great list, that I think I should share it one more time. 

" Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable,  - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  Philippians 5:8

 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The blessings of being a night owl.

In the summer when the days are long and the nights are still I become a total night owl.
I love the morning. I love the way my brain works in the morning. I like the clarity and focus and energy that is unique to the sunrise. 
I love night. I like knowing that everything is tucked away and put to bed and I am free to be creative and to think.
The hours in the middle are not my favorite and I would just as soon sleep from 2:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m.  However, when I am in the thick of a project that I am enjoying, I can't be bothered with sleep whether during the night time as I should or during the day. 
 
This Ultimate Blog Challenge is really making me flex my writing muscle!  Crazy me!  I decided that instead of meeting this blog challenge with just my well established melodysoup I would also take the opportunity to revive this blog. Whew! I am having to write constantly!

So here it is 4:36 in the morning and I have not yet gone to bed! You may ask what do I have to show for it.  Well I'll tell you! This blog post plus 3 new posts scheduled for melody soup.  I have also written 6 drafts, brainstormed 4 others and I have made progress on several projects that I need to finish in order to new material for .... You guessed it..... My blogs.


If I can build a surplus of blogs I am hoping to buy some time to write some music later on this week.


I know that I should go to sleep but truly I don't plan on sleeping long because I am ready to get busy! 

Just as I was about to post this, I was reminded of something very important that I am sometimes at risk of forgetting when I have days of worry and trouble. 



"He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand"
Psalm 121 3-5
 
In fact, THIS is HOW I remembered it. 
 

 
 What a blessing to know that the one who loves us and knows us best has gone before us to prepare each day, and night for us. 
 He will never send us where he has not gone, and he is right here with us.
 
 




Monday, July 8, 2013

The Summer Slugs Guide to a CLEAN CLOSET! First Baby Step!

CLOSET HORROR!!!!!!
This blog post is for all of us summer slugs out there who can feel the clock on summer ticking away!  
Chores need doing! You know those chores that you so determinedly put off until June?  The chores that seem to  evaporate like water on the sidewalk in light of the lazy days that are calling your name? Yep those chores.....I mean really!  After an entire school year of really hard work do you really want to spend your time off cleaning out a closet when you could watch another season of Downton Abbey on Netflix?  Nope I didn't think so.....

Well if like me, you have turned into a summer slug, then you know that all good slugs MUST turn into buzzy buzzy bees come August!  You see, I know that there will be a day, here in about two weeks when I wake up from my lazy haze and get my rear in gear and get that closet done.... But honestly, school just isn't close enough to today to motivate me into action just yet.....So in an effort to enjoy my summer just a little while longer AND to make that day of closet reckoning just a tiny bit easier, I came up with one little bitty tiny baby step that is so simple, I don't even realize I'm working!

Simple, I keep a bag by my dresser.

Notice the tablet of chart paper I have shoved against the wall....
Sometimes I buy things convinced that if I have them on hand when I'm home that I'll be super teacher-y
and classroom creative over the summer.....when all I want to do sleep.... 
I've kept a bag by my dresser since the beginning of June and although my closet doesn't yet know it, I've hauled out 3 garbage bags of clothes and shoes to donate to charity.   As I am choosing my outfit for the day, if I come across an item of clothing that just doesn't have the same appeal that it used to, it goes in the bag.  Maybe it doesn't fit, maybe it is looking a little worn, maybe my tastes have changed.  It doesn't matter, anything that I won't wear, goes in the bag.    It's an easy time of year to carry these full bags of clothes down to my car because I don't have to carry a bunch of school stuff.  
 
On my way to have lunch with my friends, after a matinee movie, when I'm out enjoying my summer, I just run by the local assistance ministry, in my case Memorial Assistance Ministries, and I'm on my way.   
 
Obviously, I have my work cut out for me when I start to really buckle down where my closet is concerned, but anything I can do right now when I'm in the midst of my annual summer haze means that I can make the granite wall of reality that will hit soon just a little bit softer.
 
 
 
Check back here to see Baby Step 2!  I've got one that I think you'll enjoy!
 
 



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Songs for Sunday - Just a Closer Walk With Thee

The composer of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" is unknown but the song is believed to have its origin in the African American gospel tradition.  It is often used as part of funeral parades in New Orleans and has been recorded by many famous musical performers including Elvis.  In case you are unfamiliar with this song, here are the lyrics. 
 
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
 
I am weak, but Thou art strong,
Jesus, keep me from all wrong,
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
 
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
 
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more,
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom's shore, to Thy shore.
 
Today we got to sing "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" as part of a series of songs all about walking in relationship to Christ.  It was a precious time of worship and then our pastor preached a wonderful word from 1 Samuel.  One of the points that our pastor made during his sermon was about the importance of speaking the gospel (good news) into the lives of others. I was immediately reminded of how blessed I have been by all of the people in my life who so faithfully speak grace and truth into my life through the word of God and through prayer on my behalf. As I reflected on ways that I could be more intentional about doing the same for others, the life of a dear friend was brought to mind.  I wanted to share a few of my memories of her because I think that she is such a clear example of how we can speak the gospel into the lives of others throughout our ordinary daily lives. 

My friend Dorothy Leech was old, she was perpetually single, she was funny and she was human.  However, I remember her as perhaps the first person at church (besides my parents)  to speak the truth of the gospel into my life.  Dorothy was our neighbor from around 1978-1981 when we lived on Burleson in McCamey.  Anytime I was at Dorothy's house, she would let me "read" a card out of the little maroon plastic scripture box on her kitchen table that she called her "daily bread".  On the top in fancy cursive script it had this scripture reference that she would read to me if I asked her to.  "...It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4  .  
Not only did my mom and I spend a lot of time at Dorothy's house drinking tea, laughing and enjoying each others company,  but Dorothy kept the nursery on Sundays and taught a mid-week preschool class at church.    I can honestly say that I first started to love going to church because I knew I would get to see Ms. Dorothy!  She loved me and I loved her. Every Sunday Dorothy used to greet me at the nursery and say, "Come in this House!"
I always wondered why she would call that old faded yellow nursery a house considering that it had a huge tree painted on the wall, so when I would ask her why, she would laugh and say, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1
Time in the nursery was filled with 2nd hand toys, stale saltine crackers, and room temperature tap water that we drank out of little Tupperware cups all covered with a thin glaze of Lysol.   In the midst of the cranky sleepy children and dirty diapers,  Dorothy would sit in her rocker and sing  every hymn that floated scratchily over the intercom into the nursery.  The nicest thing I can say about her singing is that it was enthusiastic.   Being a child who not only loved to sing but who was always curious I asked her why she didn't try to sing better.  She told me that she was making a "joyful noise unto the Lord." Psalm 98:4 .  I'm sure that I mentioned her singing to her more than once because I also remember her saying, "People look at outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7b.  

After the congregational singing was over, Dorothy would turn the intercom off, sit down in her rocker and sing all the songs that she knew that weren't a part of the order of worship for that day. One of her favorites was "Just a Closer Walk With Thee". All these years later I can still hear her sing it.  It is clear to me that a closer walk with Jesus was exactly the desire of her heart because she had so effectively hidden the word of the Lord in her heart that she was able answer all of my precocious childish questions with the wisdom of scripture.  She did exactly as Paul instructed when he wrote, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15.  
I wonder if Paul was thinking about those who teach children when he wrote this passage?  Although Dorothy was only a part of my life for six or seven years, her words of truth have spoken powerfully to me throughout my life.  In 1983 I came to a personal faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as my own Lord and Savior.    It was not too long after that when Dorothy passed away  and yet, so many of her words still bear fruit in my life because so many of her words to me contained the life giving good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As it turns out, I spend the majority of my time teaching children.   So often I'll be greeting a new class that has arrived at music and I'll hear myself say words that just seem to fall into my mouth when it's time to welcome children into my class.  I'll find myself saying,  "Come in this House!" to my students and  every time it happens, I smile, thank God for Dorothy and pray.

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:10-12







Saturday, July 6, 2013

5 Random Thoughts on a Saturday

I'm feeling a little bit scattered and none of the topics that I feel like writing about are turning into a full blog post, so I think it's time to start a new blog tradition for Caveats of a Cluttered Mind by sharing 5 Random Thoughts that I've had today.

1.  I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED The newest version of Much Ado About Nothing that was so wonderfully re-imagined by Joss Whedon!  It was so totally different from other versions I have seen, but I have to admit it was made even more wonderful by the being filmed in black and white and seeing it at the very old River Oaks Theater.  I'm not sure I would have bought into the modern premise quite as completely without the black and white photography because it set it just slightly apart from the every day. It's been out for a little while and I think it's only playing until tomorrow here in Houston, but if you get a chance, GO SEE IT!!!! 
2. I'm hoping that I can spend less time blogging next week and more time writing music because so far, I have done so much of everything else that I have had ZERO time to write music.  We shall see.  This may mean that I miss a blog post or two, but if I find myself so inspired I can always catch up later. 

3.  Did you know that this month is Anit-Boredom month?  Yep. I can't believe it either.  When I was a kid and I used to tell my parents that I was bored, they would congratulate me by saying, Good for you!  If you are bored, paint a Picasso pumpkin.....or something! 


4.  Friends are blessings.  As I got to have a conversation via text with my sister friend from Austin today AND I got to visit with a few of my best friends after the movie today I was reminded of how beautifully the Lord weaves our lives together.  How blessed I have been to be able to call such amazing people friends!     Proverbs17:16 says, "A friend loves at all time and a brother is born for a time of adversity."  Oh and we have walked through our share of good times and adverse times together!  Thank you Lord for my sweet friends!

5. Now that it is night time and I'm a night owl I think I'll post this and then  I have this afghan that I started a few years ago that I mean to finish this week.  I think that crochet and Harry Potter audio books sounds like the perfect summer time indulgence!  Yep!  That's how I roll. Crochet and an audio book are my idea of a great time on a Saturday night!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I'm celebrating clean house day!

I LOVE Clean house day because that is the day twice a month when I scrape up enough money to pay for someone to come and clean my place.  It's a stretch, but seriously, I don't know how I managed to be a grown-up for all these years without this help! 

It was an important day when I decided to get over my independence, my pride as an empowered super woman and realize that it was ok for me to seek help.  I always thought that wives and mothers, those people not responsible for the messes they cleaned up were the ones entitled to get help from a professional cleaner.  As a single woman with no one to blame for her messes but herself I felt that I was unworthy.... I mean, I don't even own a pet so ALL the mess is mine! Essentially I was determined that if I made a mess, then I would fix it. (Unless of course you name was mom....then you can come over and clean up after me any time)

But then I started evaluating my priorities.  I realized that, like everyone else, I focus on what is important to me.  I convinced myself when I realized one thing.  I want to spend my time doing other things.  Pretty much anything other will do, but when the opportunity presented itself to get someone to come in a clean for me on a regular basis that was at a price I could manage, I JUMPED at the chance.



Imagine my joy when my co-worker promised to speak with the lady who cleans her house and see if she was available..... I waited..... and waited..... and then finally one day she said YES!  and we made an appointment for her to come over and inspect my home to see if it would be something she was willing to tackle.....  OH the HORROR!  My place was picked up and more or less clean but clearly not to her exacting standards......... So we agreed on a very reasonable price and a time frame and now it's been almost a year and I'm not giving her up!  Pretty much, I'd give up every "extra" that I pay for in a month, just so that she can come over and create a clean slate for me to mess up before she comes back in two weeks. 


Here is the pattern.  I come home after I know that she has come to the house.  Everything is tidy, everything sparkles and shines and everything smells clean.  Every time she visits she does one "extra" thing.  Sometimes it's the windows, sometimes it's the oven, I see if I can figure it out because she doesn't tell me....Our arrangement does not include laundry, but sometimes she will rotate what is there and maybe get the sheets done. So when I come in I rotate the laundry and then since I've been at work all day the apartment is cleaner than I am, I take a shower and change into clean clothes and enjoy my apartment.  I watch TV which is super rare, or I read a magazine or maybe I even play my piano for FUN!  If I ever invite you over to my place it will almost always be on a clean house day.....

I can maintain the super clean environment for about 24 hours and then things start erode.  The first to go is always the laundry.  I love doing laundry.  Laundry is easy.  Throw it in, Take it out.... Fold it....what? Ok I'll fold it.... maybe.... but no amount of wild horses can inspire me to WANT to put it away.  As long as I do it immediately I'm fine, but oh my!  If I let one load slip, it's all over and before you know it I have the Mount Vesuvius of clean laundry piles to deal with and this girl just doesn't deal well with that at all..... Plus since everything is clean.... it's not a "real" problem.  Then the projects start encroaching.  First they take over my desk area and then they take over the kitchen table and then the couch.......Oh my goodness!  By this time I have realized that cleaning day is TOMORROW!!!!!!  Yippee! 

So now I get to spend the rest of my afternoon getting the clutter out of the way so that the CLEANING can begin!  Oh NO!  She is going on vacation and won't be back until August?  What? 

I wonder if I can maintain it since it's summer?  I'll have to report back and let you know how it goes!


Truly, for most of us, it all comes down to money and I can say that the only success I have ever had as an independent keeper of my home is when I used the resources and support found at Fly Lady.  Fly Lady is the only reason that even on my messiest days between cleaning days that my sink will sparkle.  Fly Lady is the ONLY way that I ever got any real cleaning accomplished before I had help which was good because otherwise that would have been truly gross.  Fly Lady is what I'm about to do right now so that I can go and celebrate 4th of July with my family. 

Images in this post came from stockxchange

West Texas Memories

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Photo by James Roland city-data.com
I'm a small town girl living in the city or rather, I'm a city girl that used to live in a very small town. When I take the time to count up the years since I moved to the city, it absolutely dumbfounds me when I realize that I have lived here in the BIG city of Houston far longer than I lived in my small west Texas hometown of McCamey.  I'm sure that you've heard that "you can never go back".  I don't know who said it, but I don't disagree at all.  However, as much as circumstances and people change, I am always pleased when those moments of gratitude and nostalgia find me.  My childhood like most had it's share of blessings and burdens but like most people, the place that I call home and the people who share that right with me, are always special, always loved and always remembered.



Medical Center with downtown in the background. 
I live on the west side so this is not my view
 but still a cool picture Houston cultutemap.com
Last night I went to a movie with some friends. As we left the theater we noticed that the quality of the air was unusually refreshing and lacked its everyday summer-slobber humidity that we Houstonians love to hate. Instead of walking outside and feeling licked,  our faces  cooled and our hair breezed off our faces and all of a sudden I was back home in McCamey.   Right in the middle of the city I felt like I was in my home town where because of the dessert weather you can count on the temperature cooling off  even on the hottest summer day there is blessed relief from the heat every evening. 



McCamey Badger Band at contest photo by gosanangelo.com
I live in what is quickly becoming the new middle of the greater Houston metro area.  My neighborhood is decidedly west of the "real" downtown but as the population moves west, so does the city center and at the moment, my neck of the woods is it.  Even still, I only live about a block and a half from the elementary school I've worked at for the last 4 years and am about 2 maybe 3 blocks from the middle school and high school.  I'll be going about my daily life and then I'll notice that I can hear the high school marching band practicing and all of a sudden I'm back home in McCamey where my earliest memories dance around to the constant distant melodies of the high school band practicing in the evenings each fall.



Photo by Barclay Gibson texasescapes.com
Sometimes as a music teacher I find myself "teaching" PE.  Either when we are working on a school-wide project where my team of PE, Art and Music are working together OR occasionally when they need a hand I have found myself helping out in the gym.  While helping in the gym my students will get out the scooter-boards and instantly I am back home in McCamey as I remember that grimy hand - pinched finger feeling I always ended up with after a PE class spent on scooter boards trying my best to stay on and not roll over my fingers.  (Now those dreadful scooter boards have HANDLES!)

My big city hometown of Houston is somewhat unique compared to other major cities in that we don't have zoning restrictions.  There are some deed restrictions in the planned communities but for the most part, if you live in Houston you can find just about anything anywhere.  Only a about four blocks away from here, in a random parking lot, behind the high school, next to an abandoned building and down the street from several mechanics and a drilling company there is a Dairy Queen.  Making lemonade out of it's lemony-fresh location, this Dairy Queen does a very brisk lunch business and then locks up each evening like Fort Knox with accordion steel sheeting that wraps around the building on 3 sides.  It has an old style drive through and the grass from the neighbors hard is starting to reclaim the parking lot in the back. Every once and a while I find a way to go to that Dairy Queen and all of a sudden I am back in McCamey.  It doesn't matter what I order, if the food is from Dairy Queen then I'm back home.  Too bad that McCamey lost it's Dairy Queen years ago. 




McCamey High School Football Stadium
 photo by Bob McSpadden texasbob.com
I could be absolutely anywhere in the world alone or with friends and if the right song is played I am right back in McCamey.  When I hear a song from the musical "Grease" I am with the youth group traveling back from Paisano listening to the cast recording.  If an old Garth Brooks song shows up on the radio then I'm on a debate trip with Ms. Phillips.    When I hear any song by Chicago I'm on a victorious basketball bus in the middle of the night between Ozona and McCamey listening to Beth's Chicago CD.  Any songs by Guns and Roses, Def Leopard, Boys II Men or Bon Jovi remind me of all the hours I spent in the homes of my sweet friends frying, fixing our hair and talking about boys while we watched MTV.  If I ever hear the UB40 cover of "Red Red Wine" I am instantly filled with dread because I'm in the locker room tying my shoes in preparation for the 7th grade basketball practice I both loved and hated.     With just a few songs, I'm reminded of 100 more that are each more than equal to the task of taking me right back home to place and time that while far from perfect will always be precious.


"I thank my God every time I remember you.
  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."
 Philippians 1: 3-11

mcspaddb's McCamey album on Photobucket