Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Really, I've been fine.
And super excited.
Until 4 minutes ago.
I just got THE feeling.
The feeling that causes you to believe that there must be at least 1,273 butterflies flying around in your stomach. That if were to stand up your knees would knock so loud that your neighbor would answer his door. That even if you haven't eaten anything in 3 days there is no way that food is going to stay down, let alone go down in the first place.
But it's just a feeling.
Maybe it's because I'm T-20 hours until it's my time to have my eyes clamped open, sliced & diced, and lasered off.
Maybe it's because a few people whom I have told that I was going to have this surgery have-for reasons I do not understand-proceeded to share with me 'the surgery that went wrong'. As if I don't know the risks involved.
Maybe it's because I just read and initialed the 6 page consent form that details out any and every single potential risk involved.
Maybe it's because it's natural to be nervous anytime you are about to go under the knife.
I have elected to have this surgery for reasons that go beyond 'just because I want to'. No, I do not have to have this done, but for other health reasons I need to have them operated on. I could continue to wear contacts as long as my eyes will let me and then move into glasses permanently when I have to.
But I like sunglasses.
And I love to give and receive hugs.
Great, big, MEANINGFUL hugs.
And for these two reasons alone, glasses just simply will not do. They get in the way.
There is no reason for me to doubt that it isn't going to be a success. I know that it has been God who has put sooooooooo many people and their success stories in my path over the past 7 weeks. I believe that He has done that for my own comfort and encouragement.
He will be with me.
His Will will be done.
And I will post my very own success story in a day or so.
I had planned to select my memory verse tonight but my emails seemed to do it for me just now; this verse was referenced/encouraged/prayed in 2 of the 4 emails that I just read! God's love for us is so wide, so long, so high, and so deep that we do not have the brain capacity to understand the vastness and greatness of His love. It is a love that surpasses all understanding. All you have to do is accept it!
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I made it to the rodeo 5 times this year! That is already 5 times more than I have ever been. Ha! I really did enjoy every minute of it and am now wondering what I’m going to have to look forward to during the month of April.
Thursday night I went with a group of 6 to see Zac Brown Band. We had a lot of fun and ran into a ton of friends who were also there to enjoy the evening.
You cannot go to the rodeo without stopping in one of the fabulous food tents. Kitchens from all over are brought in and set up in the middle of the parking lot. Delightful aromas scream out from booths like Pappasito’s, Pappadeaux’s, Freebirds, Goode Co. BBQ, Margaritaville, to name a few. Plus, there are a plethora of BBQ stands that serve Tornado Taters, sausage on a stick, hamburgers, corn dogs, roasted corn, and….TURKEY LEGS!
This turkey leg was exceptionally delicious although I was only able to eat about half of mine. Thank goodness Todd was hungry and graciously took over where I left off.
Ellen = 1/2 Turkey leg
Todd= 4/3 Turkey leg
Oh, to have the stomach size and metabolism of a boy!
We didn’t get to see much of the rodeo Thursday night; weekday rodeos are hard to make as everyone and their mom is getting off work at the same time as people who starting their trek to the rodeo (and are getting off work themselves). We did get to see the women’s barrel racing, calf scramble, chuck wagon racing, and, my favorite, mutton busting. Those kids are so stinkin’ cute!
Zac Brown Band was on set for Thursday night. The concert was amazing! I love their almost-blue grassy sound. There was an organ, upright piano, cello, and many more instruments on the stage. They also played Charlie Daniels' ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’= A-MAY-ZING.
On our way out of the stadium we had to stop and get a group picture looking out over the carnival! The lights are so pretty at night.
After nixing The Hideout and some dancing (due to a line that went clear to the state line) we all decided to buy tickets to play games and ride rides. We made it 4 feet before Will found this shooting game where he proceeded to spend the rest of his night and money. We never could figure out why he wanted the pink bike so much.
While the boys shot guns we (the girls) wandered off to find a ride to occupy us. The Tilt-A-Twirl won are attention and we had a blast. Emily took a fun ‘helmet-view’ video of the ride but it’s still on her camera that is now 70+ miles away :( Here is an action shot! I liked that the inside was painted fuschia!
I really, really wanted to go see Brad Paisley on Saturday but by the time I looked into buying tickets they were sold out. I was excited, though, when a friend called me at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday that she had two tickets that she wasn’t going to be able to use. I was at the eye doctor when she called and 10 minutes before her phone call they had numbed and dilated my eyes. This made making arrangements somewhat difficult (thank goodness my phone is ipad sized) but was excited that my brother got to go with me for a brother-sister date. It was good to hang out with him as we don’t get to do that very often. Emily always seems to get in the way ;)
I was very upset when I got to the rodeo and realized that I had left me phone AND my camera in various vehicles that were parked throughout the city. So I didn’t get many pictures. Andrew’s phone was dying itself so he turned it on real quick after we got out of the stadium for this picture. We were trampled immediately after this was taken as no one seemed to have any regard that we had stopped in the middle of the street and were blocking the natural pedestrian flow of traffic. I needed that picture!!!
Closing day of the rodeo was a lot of fun as well. After church, our group of 8 girls gathered at our favorite clothing boutique, Francesca’s, where a few of us picked out new outfits, sunglasses, and earrings to wear for the day. (I was completely satisfied with my outfit and accessories until my eye caught the most darling pair of earrings that screamed at me when I tried to pass them up on the display table. They really, really wanted to go hear Jason Aldean as well.) Doesn't everyone look so cute!?
Lindsay and I made it to the rodeo 5 times each! I think 5 is enough, although there were a few other concerts that I would have really enjoyed and plenty other delicious foods to try!
Pretty sure this is Jason Aldean's green tractor!
We found some cute boys to dance with at The Hideout ;)
Amanda and I vowed to be on a committee next year; 2 tickets X 25 days = 1 month of chaos! We also decided that we undoubtedly need to move in to the city. So, if you're in town next year, you know where to find me!
Oh, and one last thing. I LOVE my new boots. I NEVER thought I would see the day that I said that. But I am very proud of them. I ended up wearing them 4 days this week?! This is where they have been all week: in the floor board, ready and willing!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
There have been several times throught my contact lense-wearing career that I have had to go weeks/months without wearing my contacts AT ALL. I was first diagnosed with this when I was a Senior in High School. I don't know if they didn't explain it to me or if I just didn't care, but until this month I was unaware of the long term effects.
So, almost the entire month of February I was in my glasses. I love my glasses. I do not, however, love being told to wear them solely. They get in the way of hugs, sunglasses, and various hair accessorries. And, because I normally only wear them at night, they make me sleepy as my body has been conditioned to think that it is night-night time when I put them on.
I don't know if I did a lot of complaining during the last couple of weeks or if people just commented and/or asked about my glasses but I have run into more people than I can count that have had Lasik. I seriously think I learned of about 5 people each week who I know directly that have had the surgery within the last 10 years. And every single one of them said it was the best thing that they ever did for themself.
So today I made myself a consultation appointment! I wanted to go and have the visit before my next eye appointment (where they will be evaluating my lids and the trial contacts that I am in right now) and have to make a decision on the $600+ (yikes!) contacts that would be the best for my physical comfort and well-being.
If you have any thoughts or knowledge regarding this subject please, please comment!!!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
What is the rodeo, you might ask? In Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, you would find an entry that looks like this:
ro·deo noun \rō-dē-ō\
2: a public performance featuring bronco riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, and Brahma bull riding
In ellen’s dictionary, however, it looks something like this:
ro·deo noun, adjective, verb, adverb \rode-A-O\
1: loud, crowded, fast yet laid-back, appealing to the five senses
2: place where one can find pretty pearl snaps, tons of turquoise, and bouts of big, BIG hair decorating women
3: place where one can find boots, cowboy hats, and Wranglers clinging to all men
verb: Are you rodeoing tonight?
adv: Your outfit is so rodeo.
adj: What kind of fun are you having? Rodeo fun!
As I said, it appeals to the five senses (and then some). Allow me to elaborate:
sights: Cowboys, carnival rides, blinking lights, bull-riding, mutton busting
smells: poop, dirty animals
tastes: tornado potatoes, turkey legs, funnel cakes
sounds: “Oink-Oink’s”, country music, screams coming from people flying through the air on the Texas Tornado, “Yee-haw’s”
feel: hot, excitement, dirty
Are you ready to go yet?! I have been twice thus far and have tickets/plans to go two more times!
I got to go this past Thursday night with some friends and had a blast! After eating almost half of my Turkey Leg, we did a little shopping and then headed into the stadium for some bull-riding, chuck wagon racing, calf chasing, and other various sporting events that don’t look like any fun to me.
The group that I was with was very knowledgeable about the various events; they graciously tried to explain to me the skills, strategies, and rules of everything happening in the arena below. It was very entertaining; I only got in trouble once for playing on my phone. Ha!
Rascal Flatts was in concert that particular night! I have only been to the rodeo once before (last year) and that was who was performing that night as well. I enjoyed the concert very much, although I must say I was disappointed in the low amounts of energy that the guys seemed to exert. The music, of course, was amazing though!
On Saturday I picked up my friend, Andrew, and we headed out to the rodeo to ride carnival rides and eat unhealthy food stuffs. It was the most beautiful day, one of those days that make me thankful to have something entertaining to do to keep me outside and enjoying it.
Andrew and I rode every single Haunted House ride and stumbled through any and all fun houses that the carnival had to offer. We also drove the bumper cards; I won’t be riding with him anytime soon!
DO NOT take me on a Ferris wheel, however. I do not like them, I can’t explain it, and that’s all I have to say about that. They are very pretty, though, and a staple to every fair; I love their silhouette and their classic, time-tested ambience.
Since I moved here, I knew the inevitable was bound to happen sometime. When I walk around the rodeo (or the grocery store for that matter) I can’t help but notice that I am in the MAJOR minority simply because I do not have the correct foot attire. Flip-flops are a big No-No :) This was what I wore to the rodeo on Saturday (and Thursday):
My friend, Cassie, (at Rascal Flatts) told me that I needed to be country-fied. I looked down at what I was wearing and didn’t see A THING wrong with my outfit. I told her that where I come from, country is a strand (or 5) of pearls around my neck, sweet-tea in my left hand, and sitting on a dock somewhere. But, as I said, I knew I would cave at some point and on Friday night I did just that; I found myself at CAVEndar’s and walked out with a purchase that I am quite proud of:
I was very nervous about wearing them. Talk about commitment!!! But with the encouragement of Heather and Becca I pulled them on and wore them to church on Sunday. Texan Sunday was last weekend at church and my outfit would have been perfect for that, but as I’ve said before, I’m usually running a little late and behind the times. So now I’ve got them worn in and they are ready for some more rodeo fun!
See you there?!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I am also trying to do better at preparing for things in advance as opposed to the after-party that I am a champion at hosting. I feel like I spend so much of my time looking forward to things to come and looking back at things that I wish I had had time to do that I either forget to or don’t have time to live in the present. It’s like my head is off in day-dream land while my feet are trudging through swamp muck. Whoo, sounds like a lot of self -improvement work needs to be had.
While we’re on the topic, we have just recently entered the season of Lent (I’m a day behind, I know!!! Ha!) Growing up, I truly believed that Lent was the Cure-All, Catholic Diet Plan. How could I have known any better? I grew up in the very Catholic influenced state of Louisiana, the only state that is organized into Parrish's! Our church did not practice Lent (at least not that I am aware of) and all of my friends on the playground would talk about the chocolate or candy that their moms gave up because they wanted to lose weight. I practiced parts of it, though, as the hot lunches served in the cafeteria on Friday’s did not contain meat during the 40 days of Lent.
I remember the first time I heard about Lent in it’s Christian context and what it really means. I was blown away. It was Fat Tuesday 2003, a day of several firsts for me. For the first time in my life I did not have a week’s vacation for Mardi Gras. While many of my Mardi Gras vacations were spent in Alabama, it was either at the beach or my Grandparents’, never for school. This time I was in school; classes were not canceled so that we could party and dance in the streets. And not only was I in school, but I was in a church pew for the University’s bi-weekly Convocation service. It was in that chapel that I first heard and understood what Lent is really all about.
I am embarrassed to admit it, but when I saw that the topic/theme of the day’s service was on Lent I thought to myself, “Um, I thought this was a Christian University, a BAPTIST University!? What are they doing preaching to us about Lent?!” In the 45 minutes that followed I learned that Lent was not, in fact, the Yoda of all diet plans, but a Christian tradition and practice that is meant to glorify God. The sole purpose of giving something up for Lent is not to punish one’s self from something that we love to eat or do but to turn to God to for strength and endurance through prayer and time spent with Him. Bottom line: He wants and deserves more time from us and fasting from something is a good way to accomplish this.
I have given up Diet Coke/Coke 0. I drink waaaaaaay too much of it. And I’ll tell you, yesterday, I really, really wanted one (I dare say I thought I needed one). Instead of giving in, I poured myself a huge glass of ice water and got out my Bible for a quick Word (it was lunch time!) and spent some time in prayer. And would you know that after all that, a good start for Ash Wednesday, I stopped at Chick-Fil-A for dinner and without even thinking, ordered my meal with a Coke 0. Ugh. I also noticed that my lunch bag is holding a can of Coke 0 as I type. We are such creatures of habit. (I didn’t drink it, so put your pointing, nagging finger away, please!) I was able to resist and repeat from yesterday what I plan to become my lunch time ritual from here on out.
What are you willing to give up for the glory of Christ?
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
We had a Round Table Discussion at my Bible study a few nights ago. The question posed to my table was this: What is God to you? This is a tough one to answer in three words; He is so many things!
The truth is, He may be one thing to you at one moment and flip to something else the next. It all depends on what you need. What you ask for. In any given hour of the day, I have been known to ask Him for patience, strength, endurance, calmness, comfort, assurance, guidance, and alertness. Unlike most people (or any one for that matter) He is flexible and can change at a moment’s notice. Actually, He doesn’t even need a fair warning notice as He already knows our needs before we ask for them. He still wants to be asked, though. He longs to be needed. It brings Him joy to provide for you. To provide for me.
I took 2 minutes to write out the first 10 things that came to mind when I think about what He is to me:
He is Comfort
He is Refuge
He is Counselor
He is Protector
He is Disciplinarian
He is Daddy
He is Strength
He is All-Knowing
He is Provider
He is my Foundation.
Today I need comfort. Comfort in knowing that I am in His will; comfort that I am carrying out the life and tasks that He has planned for me. I have felt unsettled for a while now. I am confident that I am where He wants me in various situations, but don’t always enjoy it. My prayer is that He provides me with a comfort and peace that only He can provide.
What do you need Him to be for you this week? Today? Right now?
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Needless to say I have been cold. Adding in the fact that my blood pressure seems to be non-existent at times, it is safe to say that I have stayed in one state: frozen. I know some of you are looking at my thermostat and thinking that 25 degrees Fahrenheit is just the tip of the iceberg (literally), but this Southern Bell prefers her tea ICED, not steaming.
Beth Moore hosts a Tuesday Night Bible Study at her home church, Houston’s First Baptist Church. I know I have said it before but I will say it again: I am so blessed to be able to participate with her in her studies. We are currently in the middle of an 8-week study on The Life and Book of James. It has been amazing! To my fellow Beth Moore followers: I believe this study will be completed with recordings and homework in about a year’s time.
I found these BEAUTIFUL chairs in one of my most FAVORITE stores, Marshall’s! They are a hot-pink, crushed-velvet and trimmed with silver grommets on the back. I stood and started at them for at least half of my lunch break. Because I have minimal amounts of moulah in my checking account and even less space in my living quarters I had to pass them up. I went back to visit them just today and was very sad to see that they have been sold. They would have gone PERFECTLY in my new place I hope to have sometime soon. Next time I may have to take advantage of their lay-away program!
Since I have finished reading the Bible through, I have returned back to my eclectic stack of fictional reads. Having banned myself from the temptation of new books for the last 4 months I let myself back into the library the other day; oh, boy! I was like a kid in the candy store with the smell of books making me crazy! As I browsed, it seemed that every shelf I stopped on had an Irish theme. Hmmm...interesting!
A few books found their way into my arms as I left library. I’m picky with my library books, though. I’m not a germ-a-phobe but the condition and looks of some of those books really gross me out; I definitely DO judge library books by their cover!
Springtime in Houston takes on a whole ‘nother meaning when it comes time for the Houston Live Stock & Rodeo Show. I mean, it is nuts here! The roads are so congested that your best bet to get anywhere on time is to leave the day before and book a hotel across the street from your final destination. I am dead serious! I have only been to the rodeo one time since my stay in the country of Tejas but have collected several memories that revolve around the rodeo.
The first year, I was 30 minutes late to an interview because I got stuck behind one of the trail rides. I had NO IDEA what was going on. When I called the office to tell them I was behind some horses, a covered wagon, and 3 traveling port-a-potties they laughed at me and informed me that nine trail rides were coming in that day. The second year I actually had tickets to go see Brad Paisley but was rudely awakened the day of the concert with a horrendous stomach bug :( Last year (my third attempt) was a success! I got to go see Rascal Flatts with my friend Traci, her almost-husband Adam, and their bridal party. It was a blast!
One of the trail rides goes right past my new office. Everyone but me seemed to know what was going on at 10:07 last Thursday morning; all at once everyone hit ‘Ctrl + S’, jumped up from their desk, and ran outside leaving me and my cubicle neighbor’s Beanie Babies wondering in silence what was going on. While we were watching, a real cowboy came to talk to us!
I have tickets for several different concerts this year; I am excited! I may even have to get a new pair of shoes. Like boots. Oh my, what has this state done to me? Seriously though, what am I supposed to wear to trudge through hay, dirt, poop, and such? I tried sandals last year and that didn’t turn out so well.
I started working out HARDCORE on January 30, seven hours before I officially turned 27. I don’t know what snapped in me, but as I was driving home from church Sunday night, I decided that I WAS NOT OLD and that I could go run a marathon if I wanted to. Never the runner, I pranced out of my house and went on a jog/walk that lasted 45 minutes. And I have been determined ever since. I downloaded a running program, From Couch Potato to 5K in 9 Weeks, to help me along. My immediate goal: run a 5K on April 2. My long term goals: I can’t see that far ahead for the sweat dripping off my brow. But there is a future in it, this I know.
I have been an Independent Salesperson for Premier Designs Jewelry for a little over a year now. Sadly, I have not made it a priority in the past several months. I had a show on the last Saturday of February; it was a success!
Our kitchen floor was replaced at some point this month. Yay! For those of you who don't know or don't remember our kitchen floor exploded one night, sometime in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am told that pieces were snapping and jumping about 3 feet up into the air! So, for about a week, our laundry room was turned into a make-shift kitchen (the washer and dryer made a great prep space), tarps were hung over every entry in attempt to keep particles out (about 20% efficiency), and all matters of furniture, carpet and rugs were covered in the 80% of elements that escaped the well hung tarps.
jar I spooned from when fixing my sandwich (is that detergent?!)
The first weekend of February was a crazy one! I had the opportunity and honor of serving our youth group by leading a group for Premiere Weekend (our church’s version of Disciple Now). The weekend was scheduled to take place from Friday evening at dinner time through Sunday morning. Unfortunately, due to extreme weather conditions, a.k.a. the Blizzard-That-Never Happened, we had to postpone the event to start on Saturday morning. For leaders, staff, and host homes this was amazing! The emphasis on personal hygiene was not the issue that it would have been had we been in charge of the student for 48 hours. But, we were not there for ourselves; we were there for the kids. I just hope that they were able to get as much out of the Premiere Day that they would have at the Premiere Weekend.
My group consisted of Freshman girls! I really do enjoy this age: they are trying to keep up with the ‘big kids’ but still young enough that they aren’t afraid of going to bed when it is time to sleep!!! I had 11 girls in all, from several surrounding high schools and many different backgrounds. The beauty (and sometimes difficulty) of going to a church in a large city is the diversity that you find amongst the people.
One of the girls painted them ZEBRA for me :)
Our group stayed at a family’s home not too far from the church. It was plenty big enough for all of us. It was probably big enough for all of the high school girls but thankfully they did not do that to me! The house was the perfect hosting home; they definitely have teenagers themselves! They had a gigantic bonus room upstairs complete with a ping-pong table, sofas and 2 twin beds.
take to get a decent one; the weekend was wearing on us!
For fun, we played the Bigger Better Challenge, a game where each house went out into the community and asked people if they had anything bigger or better that they could trade for the clear, plastic spoon that we were given at the starting line. My girls won the challenge last year with a brand new dirt bike that someone had given them. You can imagine the disappointment when, at the end of the challenge, we had collected 4 broken flower pots, 3 horrendous jackets from the ‘80s, 2 sets of dinner place-card holders and 1 trench coat among many, many other garage-sale type items. Did I mention that we had a flat tire back at the starting line?!
Back at the Finish line, or church parking lot, we spread out all of our dusty treasures in our designated parking space. After an intense round of judging we were named the winners! I’m not sure if it was the $47 that we came back with or the flat tire that the youth pastors had to change for us in the parking lot that got us the ‘W’. Ha! We won an ice cream party! The only other time I have had as many wonderful choices of Blue Bell Ice Cream at my disposal was at Blue Bell’s 100th Birthday Celebration in Brenham, Texas!
a surprisingly quiet & slumber filled room by 12:45 a!!! Praise the Lord!!!
The worship service on Saturday night was AWESOME. Clayton King--author, speaker, and Campus Pastor at Liberty University--brought IT. His message was simple and straight forward: are you ALL IN for God? One of the things that he said that struck me the most was this: Saying ‘Yes’ to something means you are saying ‘No’ to all of the other answers/solutions/possibilities. I love that!
accompanying our bus on our way to the worship service.
for Christ and were baptized at the end of the worship service!
For those of you who don't know, I have two step-sisters, Kristen & Katie. I haven't seen Katie in ages! She was a leader for another campus. It is obvious that we are steps and not blood sisters because I'm only like 17 inches taller than her!
The next morning was rise and shine for 8:30 Bible Study!!! After a weekend of pizza, cokes, and junk Lindsey, Kim, and I decided it best for all if we snuck out and grab a LARGE coffee and fresh fruit. Here we are double-fisting our Happiness! Ha!
You may remember that the Super Bowl was also on that first weekend of February. Of course I couldn’t just go home and sleep off the weekend! So, after one Sunday School hour, two worship services, lunch, and a quick nap, I headed over to a watch party. I wasn’t able to watch much of the game as the lights were turned low in the Watch-Room thus putting me to sleep. So, I bounced around from the kitchen, the pool table, and the table of girls playing M.A.S.H. (remember those days?!?!) At the end of the night my score sheet was as follows: 17 kids in M.A.S.H., 2-1 in pool, and 0-1 in football for the Steelers not winning the game.