Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Not to Write a Title

So it has been two weeks since I wrote anything. I have been so busy! I would love to say that I was busy with some important thing. Honestly, I'm busy teaching and trying to keep the house clean. There is a little bit of homework and soccer practice in there plus extra choir practice for the Easter Cantata.

I have also been wasting time with Netflix because after all of the above stuff, I really don't have the energy to do fun stuff, like reading and blogging. And I've been missing it. I'm in desperate need of time to sit and read. I have been reading some great blogs and thinking why couldn't I do that. The answer is that I haven't been paying attention to the things in my life worth writing about.

So I now have two paragraphs about not having anything to write about. I had probably better give you something useful, hence the title. To be honest, I hate writing titles. I'm not sure how I got college having virtually no experience in writing titles. I had some awesome English teachers who taught me so much about writing, reading, analyzing text, and life. For all that greatness, I didn't learn about writing titles. I'm not saying they didn't teach it because they probably did. I didn't learn it, so I arrived in college and saw everyone titling their papers. I was horrified because I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. And I was an honor student! I couldn't go ask anyone for help. So, I stumbled through as best I could.

Today I'm still stumbling. And these are the common mistakes that I find myself making:

Capitalize the wrong words
Don't capitalize words
Use too many words
Use too few words
Use confusing words
Create a non-descript title
Create a forgettable title.

I would love to tell you how to make it better, but I have no clue. I am open to your suggestions. What can you teach me about writing titles?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Happy Birthday Lily!!

I can't believe my little girl turns 1 on Sunday. It really doesn't seem like we have been through all the holidays, Easter, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and all the others. It doesn't seem like she's old enough to be eating solid foods and getting rid of her bottle. I can't believe she is in 18 month clothing. I can't believe we had to change out her car seat already. Wow her first year went fast and eerily easy.

She isn't walking yet, but she is close. She has 6 teeth now and loves picking up her food to eat it. She just learned to throw her hands in the air and say, "Yay." She is not fond of baths and hates getting her diaper changed. She won't leave headbands on and almost has enough hair to clip a bow in it. She hates being in layers, but hates being cold even more.

She is full of personality. She thinks her brother is the greatest thing since sliced bread. She is not a cuddler. She loves to clutch at your shirt when she's falling asleep. She does not lay on your shoulder. She must be cradled if you want her to go to sleep. She hates being woken up because it scares her. When she gets up in the morning, she often bounces, talks, and giggles until you pick her up. When you pick her up, she grabs on to your shoulder and turns her head away from you. She is ready to go discover the world.

Happy Birthday Lilyanne! You have been so much fun this year. We look forward to discovering God is making you to be.

Andrea Ward's Slidely by Slidely Slideshow

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Be a Better Person

Photo Credit: jill, jellidonut ... whatever

Continuing on the idea of prayer from the last post, I have been making a concerted effort to pray more throughout the day. I have already noticed some differences. My life is better when I remember to pray for those who are really suffering. I am nicer to people when I remember to talk to the Lover of my Soul. I doubt myself less because it is about me less. I have more confidence in what I'm doing because the Creator of the Universe is doing it with me.

This morning I thought to send an encouraging email. I haven't done that in a while. I haven't been very encouraging in person or by email. I was thinking that some people might think I was being contradictory, saying one thing and doing another. I started wondering why I could be positive and encouraging by myself, but with others I tend towards negativity. I thought I'm better by myself than with people, but that makes it sound like I'm good enough. I know that isn't true. So what is the difference?


I have been praying more. I have been spending more time with Jesus. I'm taking my cues from Him instead of other people. So it isn't that I'm better by myself. It is that I'm better with Jesus.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Missing Piece

Some seasons life comes easy. The laundry is in a manageable routine. Sleep actually comes at bedtimes. You are happy with who you are and how you are getting there.

Then some seasons life is hard. The laundry is never done. Sleep doesn't come until hours after bedtimes. You aren't happy and you don't know why. You aren't getting to a better place emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or any other way.

Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson

Lately I feel like I've been in the latter of the two. Work is going well. I have a lot to do and February is always a hard month because we can all see the end coming, but it isn't close enough to start that final hard push yet. However, I'm pushing myself to keep going forward and I'm doing my best to push my students to keep moving forward. So it's going well. Everyone around is pretty healthy and that is a huge blessing because everyone's health could be so much worse. But the other parts of life, the keeping house and raising the kids and doing church, just aren't working. It's not like things are going wrong, but they don't feel like they are going right. So if it feels not right, but isn't actually not right, then it's all in my head. And that makes it so much worse.

I look at other people and they look like they have it all together. They know who they are and where they are going. And I'm over here wandering from thing to thing, from word to word. I doubt most of what I'm doing and most of what I'm saying. I don't know how to get from where I am to where I need to be.

So in the middle of this spiral of self-doubt and general malaise, I stopped and thought about what is different now than before. Prayer. I haven't been praying enough. I haven't been spending enough time with God. I need to more time with me and God, so I can work on me and God. When I focus more on him, then I'll focus less on everyone else. I think that falls in line with my One Word of the year. I guess God knew what he was doing by giving me that word for this year.

So if you wouldn't mind, would you say a prayer for me. How can I pray for you?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Top 15 Disney Movies

The last couple weeks I have talked about some of the things I have learned in the last few difficult years. And I might come back to that topic at a later point in time, but today I want to talk about something lighter and more fun. Disney movies!

Photo Credit: Ohdearbarb
I am a bit obsessed with them and I'm super excited that I have a daughter, so I have an excuse to get all the Disney princess movies. I got others with Ben, but I couldn't in good conscience get my son princess movies. He didn't even know they were different people until recently! So now with a little girl, I have invested in some new princess movies and made myself watch a few that I missed. So in honor of my new Disney education and investment, I'm doing a top 15 countdown of my favorite Disney movies. (I couldn't narrow it down further than that.) I'm not including Pixar because that is a whole other list. I'm also not including any sequels. These are just the major motion picture releases. Now on to the countdown!

1. Beauty and the Beast

I love Belle. I love that she reads. I love that she doesn't fit in. I love that her dad is so quirky and ready to go show the world what he knows. I love the Beast. I love that he is working through his issues. I love to hate Gaston! Cogsworth is wonderfully persnickety. Lumiere loves to push Cogsworth's buttons. Madame la Gran Bouche is fabulously open. Ha!

2. Treasure Planet

Some of the creatures speak flatulence! Oh my goodness!! They fly in schooners around the universe looking for treasure and discovering that friends are the best treasure. The personalities! The history mixed with futuristic fantasy.

3. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
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This picture just might be my favorite part of the movie. Trachuna Machoitius Trachorum Saetis Dee. Angela Landsbury is in this movie and she is commanding an armor army. They go flying on a bed underneath the sea. It is absolutely fabulous.

4. Mulan

I just watched this movie this week. I don't know how I waited this long to watch this movie. Now I have and it made it to the top 5. She saves China and the emperor honors her. Then she goes home and her parents love her for being her. Oh, I just love this one.

5. Princess and the Frog

You would think a movie about frogs wouldn't be that great, but this one is. Tiana is hard working and determined.

6. Frozen
We all know that the whole world is obsessed with this movie and I am one of them. The music, the sisters, a reindeer, the subtle romance and a funny snowman. What is not to love?

7. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
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The very blustery day, the house for Eyeore, and the first appearance of Tigger are so iconic to me. I don't remember a time when I didn't know those stories. This one really makes me feel like a kid again.

8. Lilo and Stitch
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I love this one more as a mother than when it first came out. Ben is head over heels in love with this one, so I am too.

9. Alice in Wonderland
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The talking flowers, painting the roses red, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit are just too perfect. They are so perfectly fantastical that I still can't wait to visit Wonderland.

10. Hocus Pocus
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The fact that I just figured out Thackery Binks and Timothy McGee are the same person just make this movie better. It is a beautiful setting and a quaint story. It is a lovely Halloween story with a great performance from Bette Midler!

11. Tangled
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The hair, the smolder, the lanterns! And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Rapunzel's talents, her frying pan, her way with horses, and The Snuggly Duckling just make this one fun and heartwarming, which are Disney specialties.

12. Mary Poppins
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The songs, the cannons, and a happy family in the end. Oh and Dick Van Dyke!

13. The Princess Diaries
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It is every little girl's dream and somehow we are happier for Mia than we would be for ourself. And Genovia is on my list of places to visit too.

14. Sleeping Beauty
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Dancing with forrest creatures that turn into the prince who is your betrothed and who slays vicious dragon enchhntresses for you is still a great story after all these years. And should you get tired of the story, watch it for the art. It is worth it.

15. Robin Hood
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Oh what a lovely man-fox. He gives to others out of the goodness of his heart and his love for the community. I think we all could learn from him.

Honorable mention:

My favorite sequel:
D2: The Mighty Ducks
Image result for d2 the mighty ducks the bash brothers
I had such a crush on these two! I saw this movie at least 25 times one school year. Yes that obsessed. I started watching hockey because of this movie. And I think it is better than the first or the third.

My favorite Disney TV show that was based on a movie:
The Legend of Tarzan
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This isn't the movie, but I like the movie because it reminds me of the TV show. It was a great show. The good guys were always good. The bad guys were always bad. And the community was of primary importance.

Almost on the list for the score alone:
The Little Mermaid
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I can't say that Ariel is one of my preferred princesses or that Eric is a preferred prince. The story isn't my favorite. But the music! Now that is special.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How to Have Faith

The last post I started talking the story I have been living. I focused on being happy. That is a big part of the story that I have been living the last few years. Another large part is faith. The definition of faith according to Merriam Webster is: a strong belief or trust in someone or something.

A STRONG belief and strong takes work. You don't get to strong by accident. You don't get to strong through an easy path. And faith sounds nice and can make a whole lot of pretty sayings for the needlepoint. But that doesn't account for the hard work of getting to a strong belief.

Lavender's Legacy by Ryan

A cancer is a hard battle even for the loved ones watching from the side. There are so many doctors appointments and tests to be run. And sometimes you hear conflicting diagnoses. And then there is the waiting. The waiting is brutal. Half of your mind is planning for after that person. The other half is preparing to assist in the fight. In the battles that my loved ones have been through, we have heard more than one death sentence. We have prayed hard and had others pray hard and we continue to pray hard. The result has been miracles. That sounds like an easy summary to the story, but living it has been hard. Hearing the worst diagnosis and waiting a week or two for more information. Getting good news only to receive more bad news at the next appointment. It is a roller coaster for the emotions, but it doesn't have to be for the faith. You can hold on to your faith even through the good and the bad news.

When you hear that you might need to replace your heating system or your water heater stops working and you wonder where the money is going to come from, there doesn't have to be despair. (Both of those things happened this week. And both of them are okay without too much money being spent. God is really very good to us.) There can be faith.

I have seen faith in action this week. Two dear families are sitting with loved who are much to young to be dying. Both of them are watching their loved ones lose the battle with cancer. And yet both families are holding on to their hope. They know their loved one will be walking the streets of Heaven with Jesus very soon and that is enough for them. I'm not saying there won't be pain. I'm not saying there won't be tears. There will be lots of both, but under all that there isn't despair. Under all of that there is hope and a knowledge that God is in control and that is good.

Faith is made of strong stuff and doesn't come easy. Trust God. Take it one day at a time. Keep walking forward with Him. Faith will come and faith will sustain you. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to be happy

When I look back at the last few years, I'm a bit amazed that I got to here. As a family, my husband and I and our kids, have been through 3 cancer diagnosis, changing churches, recovering from bad jobs, dealing with depression, and losing our dog. One would think in all of that I would have so many stories to tell that I wouldn't run out of blog posts. However so few of those stories are mine. I don't feel right telling them. So I settle for smaller stories and think maybe some day I can tell that story. After much thinking and talking, I have found a story that is mine. I see how I am living a bigger story and I can tell you about it.

Photo Credit: Britt Selvitelle

I think my story starts with the fact that I am happy. I have joy and contentment and happiness. Some moments and even some days I might forget that. I get disappointed and frustrated with myself and others in my life from time to time. But those things don't stay. What does stay is the happy. The happy hasn't been easy to achieve. I've had to deal with a lot of doubts and pain. I've had to work through things personally and with other people. I'm getting better at financial decisions and sticking up for myself. Things are better than they were a few years ago. It hasn't been easy, but it has been good.

As I deal with other people, I have come to realize that many of them are not happy. Quite frankly it is hard for me to deal with.  I really don't have patience for people that continue to remain in their unhappy frustrated state. They drag me down and I don't want to be down. There has been enough going on in my life, our lives, to bring me down. (In case you forgot, read the first paragraph again.) I have to deal with my stuff enough. I really don't want others putting their issues that they refuse to solve on to me. If you want to work on it, I will stand beside you. If you don't, then don't give them to me.

So in learning to be happy, I've had to learn how to get rid of stuff that isn't mine. I've also had to learn how to deal with what is mine. I can't pass it along to other people. I can't expect anyone to fix it for me. I have to do it myself. When I start doing it myself, then I can ask other people that I trust to work with me. Not for me, with me. When I start working on me, then I get me out of the way. I make room for God and then I can be happy.

I think there is more to tell, but I'm not sure where to go next. So we'll leave it here. Deal with your stuff and make room for God.