7.25.2008

Sorry Ben

Referring to my post on July 21 called "100% Redneck," I have been so kindly informed by my dad and brother that I have insulted the redneck community. I made a few mistakes. First, it's not "redneckness" it's actually "redneckage." Also, I failed to mention another way to earn redneck points--over-exaggerating every number. Example: "I ate a bajillion pieces of pizza" when you really only ate like 4. I also must say that I lost 4 + 1 points due to my mistakes. I'm probably somewhere around 14% plus 1% now. But, if I go to the tractor pull tonight maybe I will win some back because that is SO redneck :) My sincere appologies to Ben and TH. Hey...don't you think I should get points for even blogging about this?

My redneck family. Brent didn't get any points for this one because he isn't making a redneck face. Back row: Dad, Mom, Brent, Me, TH, Ben. Front Row: Quinton, Granny Rosie
TH ramping the Polar Bear.

Quinton ramping the Polar Bear.
Dad ramping the Polar Bear.

Ben rampin the Polar Bear.

Ben showing the redneck underbite.

Ben's grafitti on my facebook wall of him ramping a bajillion waves on the Polar Bear.

7.24.2008

Gifts

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Satan is a liar and a joy-stealer. He knows exactly what buttons to push. I have days where I think the grass is greener on the other side. For me, the grass sometimes seems greener in Fort Myers or Birmingham. But that is a lie that Satan wants me to believe. He knows and I know that Huntsville is where God wants me. And as much of a surprise it was for us to move here from Fort Myers, it was not a surprise to God. He predestined the move long before I took my first breath. Because my life here in HSV is planned by God, Satan wants me to believe otherwise. He puts thoughts in my head of how much better my life would be if we moved back to Birmingham or never left Fort Myers. He makes me feel that I have accomplished nothing in HSV and I have no purpose here. Lie. God did not put me here without a purpose. He has me here for a reason and His purpose WILL be accomplished, regardless of what the evil one wants me to believe. As much as I would love to move back home, it's not going to happen right now because God is not finished with me here. I must cling to God's word so the deceiving thoughts do not hinder me from living this abundant life.

As I was reading the Word tonight, I listened to Red Mountain Church , which I often do. They are a group of talented musicians in southside Birmingham that take forgotten hymns and re-write the arrangements. The music minister from my church back home plays the violin for them. The music is beautiful and the lyrics are rich and deep. You can check them out on iTunes. Anyway, I love listening to their music when I am studying the God's word. One song from their newest album This Breaks My Heart of Stone really spoke to my heart tonight. It's called "Melt My Heart to Love."

Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal #951
Words – J. Swain, 1838
Music – Brian T. Murphy and Benj Pocta, 2006.

Hark! From the cross a gracious voice,
Salutes my ravished ears;
Rejoice, thou ransomed souls, rejoice!
And dry those falling tears!

Amazed, I turn, grown strangely bold;
This wondrous thing to see;
And there the dying Lord behold,
Stretched on the bloody tree.


“Sinners”, he cried, “behold the head,
This thorny wreath entwines;
Look on those wounded hands and read
Thy name in crimson lines.”


The power, the sweetness of that voice
My stony heart does move;
Makes me in Christ my Lord rejoice
And melts my soul to love.

© 2007 Red Mountain Music

Romans 8: 32 says, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"

God's gift of eternal life through his Son is the ultimate gift. This gift can not be outdone. If God freely offers us eternal life, at the expense of his Son, don't you think he will give us so much more? If he gives us the best of the best, isn't he able to give us "lesser" gifts? He is able to give anything he wants. It's like a rich father who can afford to buy his 16 year old daughter a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe (I googled the most expensive car and this is what came up, sold for $8,700,000 in 1987) can also afford to buy his daughter an outfit from Express. Both would be gifts to be appreciated (as long as the girl isn't extremely ungrateful like those on MTV's "My Super Sweet 16"). But what would be more appreciated, what would she care more about? Probably the car. Why? Because it's more valuable. Just like God's gift of eternal life should be our most appreciated, valuable gift. If we were never given any other gifts in our lives, we would still have reason to praise Him because he gives life everlasting, a gift that cannot be topped.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
Psalm 86:8-13

7.23.2008

Tears and Flossing

I have two things to say--both involve tears, one involves flossing.

1. About a month ago, I came across a blog that interested me, Bring the Rain. I actually saw the link on Jessalee's blog. Bring the Rain is like reading a novel that you can't put down. Make sure you have blocks of time to read, you won't be able to just read one entry at at time. When I found out about this blog, I read the first month's blogs in one night. I kinda forgot about it until last night. I was up until 1:30 this morning reading the blogs through May. I finally went to bed but couldn't go to sleep for the tears streaming down my face and the thoughts running through my head. I read Psalm for about 30 minutes and just sat still in my bed praying for this family. I just finished the entire blog and am now completely up to date with the family and I encourage you to be also. It is long, but you will be blessed. Bring the Rain is a blog about the Smith family (Todd, Angie, Ellie, Abby, Kate, and Audrey). If you have ever heard of the extremely talented group Selah, Todd sings with them. I do not want to give away any information. You need to start at the very beginning of the blog and go in order. Make sure you have a box of kleenex, or just let the tears fall off your face and soak your PJ's, like I did.

2. I went to the dentist today, one of my least favorite things to do. I have never met a person that enjoyed the dentist. Until today, I never minded or dreaded the dentist, just didn't enjoy the exam. That drastically changed today. I don't ever want to go back to the dentist. I feel like a kid who has had a really bad experience with something and will kick and scream if she is ever put in the same situation again. My last dental exam was May 2007, 1 week before our wedding. I have always been consistent with my appointments, every 6 months, until I got married, switched insurance, moved cities. Time just slips away and you forget things like dental exams. Coming in to the office today, I was twice overdue for an exam. I immediately missed Dr. Spink's office in Cahaba Heights. They know me by name and everything looks new and smells clean. At this office, the waiting room was tiny, there was an Hispanic family speaking German, and a butch girl sleeping on the sofa. I had to sit under the TV...which meant my only option to pass the time was reading year-old family/children magazines. I finally got called back by a very frazzled-looking hygienist with bedazzled black rimmed glasses. I forgot her name, but I will call her Janice. She was a very nice lady, but not a very experienced hygenist. The room was cold (not temperature cold, but the non-welcoming kind of cold). The tools were gold, the chair was that old mauve pink color, the tray was yellow, the horrid light was scratched, the whole shebang was very shaky any time either one of us moved, and there was dust all over the walls. Needless to say, I didn't feel very clean or at ease. Janice was disorganized from the very beginning. Usually a hygienist has a routine that is very predictable. I think she just wanted to be at Six Flags because she was rolling all over the floor in her mauve pink chair. I kept thinking she was going to break something or run into the wall, but no, she obviously does this a lot. She began by taking full mouth x-rays, which usually isn't an issue for me. It was today. She would put whatever that thing is in my mouth and then sit there and talk to me. One, I can't talk back because I have something painfully crammed in my mouth. Two, I am drooling all over my bib. Three, I am gagging. After she gets done with our one-sided conversation, she gets the x-ray camera positioned just right on my cheek, leaves the room and clicks the machine. She did the same thing on the other side. Little did I know that was the easy part. She picks up her little gold tools and starts picking at my teeth, getting all the plaque off. She gets to my permanent retainer and went to town on that thing! Janice picked and picked and picked and picked and finally moved on--still rolling all over the floor behind my head, breathing heavily in my face--to the rest of my mouth. I was so relieved, but only for a short moment. She rolled over and came right back to that retainer and picked some more. She finally realized that I may need to swallow, so she put her gold tools down, rolled to the other side of the room and picked up the mouth vacuum. However, it took her so long to shift tools that I had already swallowed so that by the time she put the vacuum in my mouth, all she did was give me dry mouth. She did this several times. After she was done picking at my retainer (keep in mind that she still has not finished picking the rest of my mouth), she grabbed some floss. Janice suspected that I don't floss, but she asked anyway. I didn't lie. I very bluntly said, "No, I don't floss." And she made a funny noise, like a snort. Janice snorted in my face! This is the point where my eyes started to well with tears. I know I should floss and the pain probably wouldn't have been so bad. But, I have never been a consistent flosser and it never hurt this bad when other hygienists flossed my bottom teeth. When that was over, Janice finally figured out that I could hold the mouth vacuum myself so that I could be in control of when I needed to swallow. Great Idea! Except, she was now moving onto a tool I had never seen before. It looked just like a pick but it sprayed water and FILED YOUR TEETH! Probably the worst feeling in the world, having the nerves in your teeth filed away. If you have ever had braces, you know the feeling I am speaking of--when they get all the glue off and file your teeth to make them all even and get rid of the ridges. Terrible, awful, cringing feeling. The tears that welled during the flossing were now multiplying and flowing down my face. She kept appologizing and snorting. Then she says to me, "You know, I really should have filed before I flossed. I guess I will have to floss this area again." Well, the second time she flossed was not so bad...wanna know why? BECAUSE SHE FILED THE CEMENT OFF OF MY RETAINER! Of course it's easy to floss my teeth with nothing is hindering it! My retainer is still in tact. It just has much less cement holding it in now. That explains why she kept saying, "I can't tell if this is cement or built up food around your retainer" and continued to file away. She finally got through picking, about 20 minutes into the exam, and picked up the polisher. She did half my mouth and the spinner stopped working. She rolled around to all these drawers and cabinets trying to find another polisher, all the while I have chunky mint paste in half of my mouth and no water to wash it down with. But low and behold, she sticks the mouth vacuum in there. Thanks Janice, that really helps. The exam is finally over and she calls the dentist in to see my teeth. Janice explains to her that I don't floss and I was in extreme pain and was bleeding when she was picking at my teeth. What she failed to tell her was that she was very harsh with her tools in her unsteady hand and that she filed my teeth...no wonder I was in pain! The dentist gave me a lesson on flossing and how I need to make a habit of it so that my next dental visit would not be so painful. She went through the spill about getting gingivitis, receding gum line, gum disease, cavities between the teeth. After she was done, Janice asked me what color toothbrush I wanted...like it mattered, how old am I? Then, she said, "And here's some floss. You can use it for sewing or even fishing line if you want." Thanks for the suggestions, but I'll just use the floss for flossing. Thank you also for your time, Janice, you are a nice lady, but I just can't allow you to work on my mouth ever again. I plan on finding another dentist.

7.21.2008

100% Redneck

We just got back from the annual beach trip with the Wright family to Fort Morgan/Gulf Shores. If you are familiar with the area, we stay about 16 miles down Fort Morgan Road in a house and pretty much have the beach to ourselves. We used to stay in Orange Beach, but the house we stayed in was damaged during Hurricane Ivan and we had to find a new place to stay. My family is NUTS. Any amount of time spent with my family, whether it's 5 minutes or 5 weeks, is ultimate chaos. If you don't have a sense of humor and a lot of sarcasm, you will not understand my family and you will probably not enjoy your time with us. No amount of descriptive words gives the Wright family justice. We are stubborn as all get out. All of us. We are either always laughing or arguing about something, and we usually still laugh when we argue. And somehow this family of mine gets along really well. I learned a lot while at the beach. Ben (my bro) brought TH (short for Thomas Holt) to the beach with us. TH is our cousin from our mom's side of the family, but even that side of the family can be just as nuts as the Wright's. TH fits in really well. Ben is 17 and TH is 15. Ben and TH are your typical boys--hunting, fishing, trucks, 4 wheelers, dirt bikes, boats, dune buggies, go karts, you name it, they do it. They have created a scale to rate the "redneckness" of others. Of course, they are 100% redneck because they created the rating system. Let me make myself clear, they do NOT look like rednecks, they are just good ol' country boys that do redneck things. Ben is in the band at Vestavia and TH plays baseball at Pelham, neither of which are redneck activities. Still, they consider themselves rednecks. They have even started creating a new vocabulary. These are the words/phrases I learned while at the beach:

1. "right nice"- you say this when something is, well...right nice
ex. I had a right nice time with you at the beach.

2. "fly"- you say this when you want something
ex. Can you fly me that bag of chips?

3. "Uncle [insert name]"- when someone becomes 100% redneck, you call them Uncle, and they automatically become your favorite person
ex. Uncle Ron, Uncle Granny Rosie, Uncle Dad, Uncle Mom

4. Ben and TH have created new names for their toys and I can only remember 2. The Polaris (jet ski) is the Polar Bear and the mini bike is the flire (I don't know if that is the correct redneck spelling).

You also may not use numbers that are divisible by 5. I have no idea why. For example, if you need to heat something in the microwave for 30 seconds, you need to put it in for 29 or 31 seconds, but never 30. If someone asks you a question that requires a numerical answer that is divisible by 5, you must not give the exact answer. For example, if someone asks you, "How many more minutes until the movie starts?" and the answer is 20 minutes, you would have to answer "19 minutes plus another one."

So, the question is--how do you get redneck points? First let me warn you that everyone starts below 0%. I think I started at -20%. You get redneck points for doing or saying redneck things. If you ride the Polaris, 4 wheeler, mini bike, etc. you definitely score some big points. If you say the redneck phrases above or follow the divisibility rule you win points. Another way to score points is to make the redneck face--squish your face up and have an underbite. Here are some examples of how we won points while at the beach:

Quinton (cousin) floored it in the Town and Country on a 2 lane road. He also scored HUGE points when he and TH got kicked off the go kart track for wreckless behavior!
Brent drifted in the Camry.
I correctly used the microwave, frequently used the redneck phrases, and attempted the redneck face in pictures.
My mom and I scored big when we swam in the ocean during feeding time for sharks.

Quinton and Brent have a lot more points than I do because they rode on the Polaris and ramped waves. I do not enjoy riding it in the ocean because I prefer to not fall off and be eaten by a shark. I think I deserve major points for the go kart wreck I had. Ben cut me off around a curve and one of those dumb double karts T-boned me and spun me around. I was helpless until an employee in a lovely Hawaiian shirt turned me around. Side note: My mother once got into a go kart wreck and got turned around. Instead of waiting for the one the employees to turn her the correct way, she put one had on the wheel, turned her head around with her other hand on the back of the seat, and proceeded to back up just as she would if she were in a car. Unfortunately, there is no reverse on go karts and she slammed into a wall when she pressed the gas.

I think I have around 20 points and that is after I lost points for making a comment about being a "city slicker." I think I'm doing pretty well but I have a lot of rednecking to do before I will be called Uncle Brittany.

7.12.2008

I heart Huntsville

Ok, it's very difficult for me to say this because I am in love with Birmingham and I hope to move back there some day. It's home, it's familiar, it's comfortable. But, for now, I must reside in Huntsville. It's a great city, has a lot to offer and it is slowly becoming home, now that we have lived here for a year. But, I still say "home" when referring to Birmingham. I don't know if that will ever change. I told Brent the other day that the one reason (other than family) that I want to move back to the Ham is Philly (Philadelphia Baptist). It is the church Brent and I grew up in and the people there have become our family and we love and miss their fellowship deeply. However, the one reason that keeps me up here is our church in Athens (Lindsay Lane Baptist). If Brent told me we had the chance to move to Birmingham, Lindsay Lane would play a huge factor in our decision. I honestly feel like LLBC and the Christian Academy (to open August '09)is one of the reasons, if not the only reason, the Lord picked us up and moved us from Fort Myers so quickly. I think the church is why we are here. And, if it weren't for the conversation in the car pool line at Harvest Elementary with Elayne, we probably would have never visited the church because we had never heard about it. I am very grateful for that conversation. All this to say...there are a few less important factors that would be considered in our decision to move, if given the opportunity. I just want you to know that I loathe pizza, mexican food, and ice cream. I know, I must not be American. I hate pizza sauce, I hate greasy refried beans and rice, and I don't like anything colder than a glass of ice tea because I can't taste it. However, I have found 3 restaurants in Huntsville that have caused me to reconsider. Marco's Pizza has an amazing Hawaiian Chicken Pizza; Rosie's Cantina has delicious, fresh, never greasy Mexican food; and Maggie Moo's has the freshest ice cream I've ever put in my mouth. Apparently, they have award winning Dark Chocolate ice cream and if you know me well, you know that I love dark chocolate. Now, don't be confused. I still hate pizza, mexican, and ice cream. If you took me to Pizza Hut, Dominoe's, Cold Stone, Marble Slab, Baskin Robbins, or any Mexican restaurant I would be unhappy with you. I would probably be very irritable and just not eat like my dad does when we go out for Chinese. But if you must take me out for any of these types of foods, let it be Marco's, Rosie's or Maggie Moo's and you will be my best friend. And, if you come to visit me I will probably introduce you to one of these fabulous establishments.

7.09.2008

I have a pink what?

About 2 weeks ago, I noticed that I had a teeny tiny bump on my eye, on the edge of the colored part...whatever that's called. The iris? It's not noticable unless you are as close to my eye as the mirror is when I put in my contacts and if the light is shining on it just right. I was afraid it was an infection so I switched contacts, got a new case, and made an eye appointment. I went today and was told it was a very common, harmless condition called "Pink Wicula." At least that's what I thought she said. Some people have it removed, but surgery doesn't guarantee that the Pink Wicula won't come back. The doctor said that it is caused by exposure to the sun and many people that live near the Equator have the condition. She said to make sure I keep sunglasses on when I am outside...which I already do. But, I don't think my sunglasses actually prevent any UVA or UVB rays. They came from Ann Taylor Loft, so I'm sure they are just for fashion and not for safety. I wanted to double check what I was told to make sure the bump was nothing to worry about. So, I began searching for Pink Wicula and quickly found out that I was not spelling it right. Obviously "pink" is spelled correctly, so I tried different variations of the word "wicula." My search was finding no results other than pink eye so I finally found an alphabetized database of all eye conditions/diseases. I went to the "P" section and guess what I found? An eye condition called Pinguecula. It has nothing to do with being pink. And wicula is just a word my ill-informed mind made up. And, like the doctor said, it is nothing to worry about. I will just always have a teeny tiny pink wicula on my eye.

Would you rather (are you excited? it's been SO long!)...
have the power to switch your emotions on and off
OR
be able to fully comprehend written material just by sniffing the words?

7.06.2008

Gratitude

A big thank you to everyone who has been praying for us during my job search, who keep up with our blog, who have been concerned and showed much love. It really means a lot and we are grateful and very blessed to have such wonderful family and friends.

7.03.2008

The Wilderness

Just a warning...this one's going to be long.

Where to begin? This summer has been such a learning experience for Brent and me. I'll begin at the beginning...that makes sense. I taught 5th grade for a year at 2 different schools. The second school had 2 5th grade openings for the 08-09 year. I kinda put all my eggs in one basket and hoped to have one of those positions. Didn't happen. I had 2 other interviews, for 5th grade positions, that I thought were promising. Again, didn't happen. I sent resumes/emails/phone calls/applications/you name it to so many different places, schools and non schools--just looking for something. God was shutting every single door. I was very frustrated but never worried. I didn't understand why I couldn't get a job in the school system. Nothing made sense. I began to have a whole new perspective on Proverbs 3:3, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." As Aaron Shust puts it, "I am not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned." The only reason I have for why I never got a job in the school system is simply that God just did not plan for that. He made things turn out really strange and odd just so He could have me where He wants me. In the midst of all this, I felt really drawn to God because I knew He was the only one that had answers. I earnestly sought Him, with all my heart. I wanted to please him, I just wanted to be where he wanted me. For about a week, I knew that God was preparing me for something different and possibly unexpected. Then I learned, through time spent with Him, that he was preparing me for the wilderness. Deuteronomy 8 is such a great chapter to read when you become prideful and have an "I can do this myself" attitude. I especially like verses 2-3, "And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did you fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." As a follower of Christ, I have to feed my spiritual life the Word of God. I can not be sustained merely on food for my earthly body. And that night, I realized that God was preparing me to take a job that paid less than what I was making as a public school teacher. Even in our sunday school class we were talking about money and just last Sunday 2 guys shared their testimony of how God provided for them and continues to do so. I remember a specific question in our book that asked, "Are you really prepared to take a job that pays less and will demand from you a lifestyle that is lower on the ladder than what you have become accustomed to just to be in God's will?" And that night I wrote in my prayer journal, "I want to be humbled and led into the wilderness. I want to be tested. I want to be found faithful. And if that means I have to learn to live without money, learn how to stick to a strict budget, learn to eat manna, so that I can know you and trust you to be my Sustainer and Provider completely, fully, wholly-then I'm all yours." God is just so wonderful. Brent was on the same page as me. He was never worried about my job, he never pressured me to be aggressive about the job search, he trusted God with me and knew He would provide. So, I established that I was going to have a lower paying job that what I am used to, then I started praying for wisdom because I didn't know what kind of job that would be. In 1 Kings 3, Solomon asked for an understanding mind and discernment between good and evil before he became king of Israel. God was pleased with him because he didn't ask for riches and honor, but wisdom instead. And God gave it all--wisdom, honor and riches. Not that I am seeking wisdom so I can get more than I asked for, but that is just a testimony to how great our God is. He wants the best for his children and will give us more than we can imagine, if we will just trust and seek him. When I began seeking wisdom and understanding beyond my own, God began teaching me that the gain from wisdom is better than any profit I can gain. Proverbs 3:13-15, "Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, nothing you desire can compare with her." The eternal blessing of God's wisdom does not compare to the fleeting blessing of money or material possessions. I do not say any of this to praise myself or give me any credit. God deserves the glory for all that I have learned. And it is only because of Him that I am able to give Him my heart and seek His will. I say this hopefully as an encouragement to others. My God is real. He lives. He is at work in the heart's of his children. All the promises in Scripture are real, living, and active. And if you allow yourself to be humbled by Him, and let Him lead you through the wilderness, and be wholly His, you will find that nothing can be compared to knowing Jesus Christ, to loving Jesus Christ, to trusting Jesus Christ. Money is not what keeps me going, a pay check is not what provides for me. I was comfortable in my financial situation, and now God has made things uncomfortable...because he wants all of me. He wants me to trust him ONLY. I could have no income and God would still have a way to provide because money is not what provides, God is. And the one thing Brent and I have to remember while we are in the wilderness--God is not teaching us to live on less money, God is allowing us to live on less money so we can draw nearer to Him. And I pray we do not lose sight of Him. I pray that we consistently use this time God has given us to seek Him, grow closer to Him, and closer to each other.

As promised, God provided for us. I got a job today! I will be teaching kindergarten at Covenant Classical School. It is a private pre-school. The best part is, I will be working with a faculty of Christian people who have a relationship with the Lord and love Him. I will be challenged and encouraged daily. And to add to the blessing of having a job, I also found out today that I will be on the Education and Curriculum Team for Lindsay Lane Christian Academy (our church's school that will start August 09). I will be helping find the best curriculum for the new school. In the meantime, I will be using a widely-known Christian curriculum at Covenant which will hopefully provide insight for our LLCA team. It's funny how God works.

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