Penguins

I recently read a story about penguins. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the author of the book wrote this amazing paragraph about them, and I would like to share it with you this morning. “In order to find out if the water is safe, one of the birds jumps in—a first penguin. It’s a risky venture. Sometimes the results are disastrous, at least for the first penguin, but at other times the first penguin becomes a leader. He or she jumps in and everyone else follows and swims together...Jump in. Be a first penguin!” Gary R. Collins, PhD. Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality, Christian Coaching, Second Edition. 

Sometimes we humans don’t want to be the first one to take a risk. Jumping in first is, well...RISKY!  But if we don’t dive  into what God has planned for us, we are lacking in faith, the very impetus that propels us forward. It’s easy to do the safe thing, the secure thing, the KNOWN thing. It is much  more difficult to do the risky thing, the unsure thing, the hard thing. Dare I even say how difficult it is to do the thing that makes us wake up sweating and shaky in the middle of the night? According to Dr. Collins, we operate on a 90% rule. In other words, there is a 10% discrepancy in our thinking. It is that ten percent that we don’t talk about, we don’t deal with, and we even try not to think about. But it is that very ten percent that Jesus is calling us to bring to Him. He calls us to bring those things into the light and deal with them. That ten percent is what hinders us from being a “first penguin.” It is that ten percent that holds us back from achieving our hopes, dreams and visions. We like our comfort zones. They are exactly what they say...”comfortable”. We spend years building a mental and physical place where we can live and not be challenged. I don’t believe Jesus ever called his disciples to that type of life! How hard was it for Peter to leave his fishing business and follow an unknown Rabbi? Or for Paul to stop being a Pharisee, a lifestyle that appealed to his meticulous nature? Or for Noah to build an ark when he’d never even seen rain? Or for Mary to believe God’s messenger and carry the Savior that would change the world? I could go on, but you get the idea. These great men and women of the Bible are people I want to emulate, but I will never emulate them sitting on my sofa. No, I must be a “first penguin.” I must get off my couch, leave the comfort of my “zone” and launch myself into the water. I imagine the water will be cold. I can’t swim, so I imagine the water will be scary. I imagine there are predators waiting on just such a reckless penguin as myself. These things, when taken in perspective of eternity, really do not matter at all. What matters is what do we do with what God gives us? Let’s grab hold of our ten percent and jump together! Let’s be the first to say, “Yes, there were pitfalls, and yes, it was scary, but come on in! The water is fine!!” God bless! Have a wonderful day!

 

The first penguin taking a flightless leap of faith! 

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 #firstpenguin

#getoutofyourcomfortzone

School

I have done something that I never thought I would do...I am going back to school. I am taking a certification course to become a life coach. For those who may think this is taking time away from my business, it isn’t. It’s online and the actual class is only a few hours a week. The homework, however, is rather brutal on a seasoned individual like me...I can only plead temporary insanity...

I started this journey for a few reasons:  1) to help me become a better insurance agent; 2) to connect with folks who are encouraging and honest; and 3) to help other ladies who have been through a struggle similar to my own. Widowhood can be relentlessly difficult at times. Women need to hear there is hope, and they need to hear it from someone who has walked the walk.   

I really bring no particular set of skills to the table...I am not particularly gifted with asking penetrating questions, nor am I particularly dynamic. I am, however, passionate...passionate about the goodness of God and His mercy and grace. Passionate about His deliverance of His people. Passionate about life and living it to the fullest with the time I have left here on this third rock from the sun. 

Hopefully, along the way, this journey will include (along with late nights of bleary-eyed studying) help for my clients and growth for my agency, resolution and forward motion for those being coached,  and accomplishment for me. And ice cream and donuts, of course...God bless and have a great evening!

 

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#christianlifecoach

#lifecoachvision

#dontknowwhereimgoingbuttheresnousebeinglate

Snow

I am watching the snow fall through the window on my back door. I came home a little while ago, when it started to snow a little in Oak Ridge. There’s already a dusting  on the ground and it’s cold! And they’re expecting it to get colder! Somewhere in the dim recesses of my brain I can hear Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing “Snow!”  

A snow day is a good thing every now and then. It gives me an opportunity to pile up on my couch, sip hot tea and binge watch “Anne with an E” on Netflix, in between phone calls and business stuff. It was a needed break for me. With the advent of the internet, Skype, go to meeting, DocuSign, and all sorts of other mobile apps, I have become very mobile so I can operate my business from almost anywhere. I like that, especially because it’s so convenient for my clients.

But there is something cleansing about snow, isn’t there? Something fresh and new. Something about watching those flakes fall, each individual and unique, that makes me, for one brief moment, feel free and happy. It’s liberating to me, in a way. It makes me want to sled down a hill, plop backside down and make snow angels, build a snowman, or start a snowball fight with a neighbor (ok, maybe that last one isn’t such a good idea, but it’s my daydream, after all). It’s also a good time to cozy up to someone you love. I’m doing that right now...sitting here, computer on my lap, doggie dozing at my side. She’s the “someone that I love”. And she’s a pretty doggone (yes, absolutely, PUN intended) good substitute for a human. She’s cuddly, warm and doesn’t complain too much. Happy Snow Day, everyone! God bless! Drive safely!

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Awake and looking out my back door!

Hospital

We had to admit my Mom to the hospital Wednesday night. She had taken a bad tumble out of bed, and she is currently on a trauma floor. I am sitting here with my sister in the hospital room watching my Mom hold a marker in one hand and a coloring page in the other. And she hasn’t a clue what to do with them.

Mom was an artist of sorts. She loved to sketch and color. And she was good at it. To watch her stare at the page without a clue as to the nature of the implements in her hand was very hard indeed.  And, yes, I cried...I left the room so she didn’t see me, but I cried... 

After going through this journey with Mom, I  have come to believe the greatest treasure one person can give another (besides sharing Jesus with them) is the gift of a listening ear. A shoulder to cry on, a calm and steady presence, a voice saying, “I’m here”...these small gestures go a long way in comforting the black void of despair that threatens to overtake the despondent and the hurting. It is priceless, that gift. And It is my absolute belief that God created us to be creatures of community, born to interact and comfort our fellow man. The New Testament admonishes is to love God and love our neighbor. Part of that loving is listening...

Just my rambling thoughts on a Saturday afternoon at the hospital...May God bless you! 

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Frogs

I am taking the afternoon off today. I have no excuse except I’m tired. This year has been a difficult one, and I’m happy to see it end. This afternoon, as I was trying to do a little cleaning, I moved some stuff around in my bedroom. I really like doing that because I am a person of change and unpredictability. Even I never know what I’m going to do next...at any rate, while moving stuff from Point A to Point B, I inadvertently knocked my little green stuffed frog onto the floor. I didn’t even know he was missing in action, until I saw Trixie chewing on him to her little hearts content... 

Ok, let me say right here and now, that I love that little frog. That frog has been by my side through thick and thin. He has a little pouch inside him that I can pop into the freezer and/or microwave. He has been the source of much comfort through aching heads, stiff knees, and cold nights. He’s become a friend. So when I saw the Trixie Belle having her way with his little stuffed head, I immediately reacted...”Stop, Trixie!! That’s not your frog! That’s Mamma’s frog!!” I quickly snatched the frog from harms way, no worse the wear. And as I placed  him in his little perch atop my headboard, I realized how ridiculous that sounded...Mamma’s frog. 

I ordinarily detest reptiles and amphibians of any sort. I will never have a stuffed snake or lizard. I do have plastic dinosaurs here at the house because the grandboy likes them and I can justify that because  they’re an extinct species. I never said I was rational about it. Somehow, this little stuffed frog had worked it’s way into my heart years ago, and I’ll confess right now...I sometimes sleep with the doggone thing. It’s very comforting to squeeze a little stuffed frog while you pray...not that I’d know anything about that, but still...

Well, that’s my story for the day. I hope and pray everyone has a happy and safe New Years. Be safe!  

 

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The frog... 

Crumbs

Today is the day my family and I are celebrating Christmas. We normally do this a few days ahead of time so that the kids and grandkids can have Christmas Day to relax a little bit.  

One of the things I have to do in preparation is to add the leaf to my dining room table. It is a major ordeal. I have to wrestle it from it’s hiding place underneath my bed, drag it downstairs, clean it and manhandle it into place. And it weighs a ton....Every time I do this, I swear I’m gonna just leave it in there. But about mid-January, I get tired of it taking  up so much space, and I cave. 

This year,  I opened up the middle of the table, and looked into the little cavity there. And I was struck by all the little crumbs of a years worth of life lying there...there were bread crumbs from the Mexican cornbread I made, glitter from the Christmas ornaments I took out of the box, snips of paper from craft projects, and numerous unidentifiable pieces of a life lived around a dining room table. 

Isn't our life rather like those crumbs, though? We are the sum of many parts, and we leave a little trail of “crumbs” as we pour into one another’s lives. They are crumbs that find their way into the hearts and minds of our friends and family. 

Well, the family will be here soon. God bless you all and have a Merry Christmas!! 

 

 The inside of my table... 

The inside of my table... 

Be Safe

We are now In full-blown Christmas season! Please stay safe and enjoy your family and friends! God bless!   

#merrychristmas

#flattirereindeer

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Ask me about roadside assistance, Santa!! 

Vet Visit

 I took the Princess Trixie Belle to the vet today for her annual exam. Of course, he said she was perfect, which I already knew. She was such a good little thing, too! She didn’t even squeal once, nor did she whine when they gave her THREE shots! (It made me kinda squeal a little bit. LOL!)  

I just have to recommend these guys...Jackson Square Animal Clinic. They are professional, kind and knowledgeable...all things you look for in a vet! Yes, this is a shameless plug for them. And no, I’m not getting paid for it! Have a great day! God bless! 

 

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 #jacksonsquareanimalclinic

#oakridgetennessee

#queentrixiebelle

House For Sale

The real estate market in our area is really hot right now! But did you know your homeowners insurance may not cover an empty house if you have it for sale? I’d be happy to talk to you about it! Call me! 

 

#foremost

#houseforsale

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Our agency has a solution to this problem... 

Veteran’s Day

This is my Papaw Waggoner. He was a World War I veteran. He was injured in action and received the Purple Heart.  Thank you, all you vets, for your service to our country!

 

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Henry Waggoner, Sr., an American Vet

Technology

I am the most technologically challenged person in the world. If it involves a power outlet and WiFi, I can tangle myself up for hours...yes, even days, people...So today, when I had to install an internet booster thingamajig, I was ready to pull out my hair and Trixie’s too... 

I have been trying to set up an office at my house, so I can work easier from Knoxville when I need to do so, and I’ve never gotten a good signal in the upstairs part of my condo. I’ve called, complained, cajoled, and cried, to no avail. Today when I called Comcast, I finally talked to someone with some sense, who told me what to purchase. It’s called an internet Range Extender. Needless to say, after an hour of frustration, reading, mumbling, (and possibly cussing a time or two under my breath) I broke down and called Comcast AGAIN.  I talked to a great guy who helped me and I was up and going in a relatively (for Comcast) short time. 

Thia will really be a huge help to my clients for me to become even more mobile, and allows me a dedicated work space in my home. I am excited about it, mainly because it helps me serve my clients quicker and easier.  

Hope everyone has a wonderful evening and blessed week! 

 

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Becoming Iris

I have become obsessed with Iris Apfel. This 96 year old fashion maven has somehow managed to consume every little fashion decision I make...

My Iris obsession started when I first saw her several years ago on the Internet. A friend sent me her picture with the caption, “Elaine, this is so you!”   I took a look and there she was, resplendent in feathers and furs, looking like the magnificent peacock that she is, peering into the camera with an intimidating stare that made my knees quake. I was immediately hooked. I watched a documentary about her life and so the one-sided admiration began. I began to see Iris Apfel everywhere. I find myself mixing patterns, layering necklaces, piling on bracelets, stacking scarves, with feverish delight...And all the while, I’m asking myself, “Would Iris like this?” Or  “Would Iris approve?” I am much like the lady who became obsessed with Julia Child, although I doubt I’ll write a book about it, like she did. If I did, it would be a relatively short work, not because Iris is dull, but because I am. 

I am not Iris, but I am becoming more and more like her, both in style and in attitude. There are much worse things to become...Should I ever have the privilege of actually meeting Iris, I’d imagine she is courteous, flamboyant, ingenuious, happy, and spunky. At 96, she would be a woman who knows her own mind and heart. She would have a low tolerance for drama. She would be devoted to her friends and family. That’s the Iris I imagine in my head. How she really is, I haven’t a clue. But I know the woman inspires me, both as a businesswoman and a fashion icon. Even as I type those words, I realize that’s but a small part of who she really is and how she has influenced a multitude of would be Chanels and Saint Laurent’s, and how she inspired a plethora of entrepreneurial businesswomen to reach for that elusive brass ring. She makes her own rules, breaks her own rules and follows her gut instincts. In other words, a rare bird...

I have had Iris on my mind all weekend. She was peeking over my shoulder as I picked my outfit for the baby shower yesterday. She whispered in my ear as I dressed for church this morning. And as I planned my week for my agency, her indomitable spirit smiled as I wrestled through marketing ideas.  

I am becoming Iris....and that’s a great place to be!  God Bless and have a great week!

 

 

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Rara Avis...Iris Apfel

#@irisapfel

#raraavis

#rarebird

#becomingirisapfel

Southern Market

Today, I had the pleasure of shopping at Southern Market, a wonderful shop in Homberg Place. They are having their 21st Annual Holiday Open House. They are fully stocked with decor, gifts, and boutique fashion for the holiday season and every other day of the year. They are a local business, which I am happy to support. Tomorrow is the last day, so stop by and do some early Christmas shopping today! You won’t find these items anywhere else. 

I actually went to this event to talk to vendors about business insurance, but got so wrapped up In all the lovely merchandise, it made it difficult to remember why I was there!   Here’s the link in case you want to check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/TheSouthernMarket/ 

 

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#southernmarket

#merrychristmas

#shabbychicchristmas

#supportlocalbusiness

Trixie-Belle-A-Saurus

I have been a sporadic blogger of late. My life has been so busy, and I really didn’t  feel like I have much to say. So it would appear that I am making up for lost time this week, because the words just won’t stop coming...this morning I was attacked by a Trixie-Belle-A-Saurus. I was sleeping peacefully when this mongrel doggie jumped on top of my head clear out of the blue. 

To rewind this story...I had sworn the dog would never sleep with me. Well, about two months ago, that promise went south. Bad day, bad month, bad year in general, and I needed doggie cuddles one night, and the rest is history. She is very well behaved, sleeping without moving, cuddles up right next to me on her blankie on the bed. Come morning, she lounges around like the Queen of Sheba, waiting for me to motivate out of the bed and fix her breakfast.  

Today, not so much...when I didn’t move as quickly as she liked (apparently, since I was sound asleep for once in my life), she decided to jump on my head. She licked  me mercilessly, untill I emerged looking like a shipwreck survivor, hair sticky from doggie slobbers. Gross. 

Even now, the culprit is lying on the couch next to me, plotting her next move. But who can be mad at this adorable bundle of fluff? She is totally and completely spoiled. I think I’ll get her a hippopotamus for Christmas. A hippopotamus would be virtually bomb proof, and she could do with it as she pleased. In fact, I might just listen to that song right now...have a wonderful day! God bless!! 

 

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#trixiebellethewonderdog

#mydogisadinosaur

#myliferightnow

New Bible

I bought a new Bible a couple of years ago when part of the spine of my old one fell off in church one Sunday morning. It was an epic day. My old Bible was given to me by Mom and Dad in 2006, and I proceeded to wear it out over the next nine years. I loved it. I could find stuff in it. Even as I type that statement, I realize that sounds ridiculous. I mean, it’s not like the placement of books had changed over the last couple of centuries. It was comfortable in my hands, though, largely because I’d roll it up, squish it, and prowl through it multiple times daily. The number of times I’d roll it up would be exactly proportionate to the number of times I worried, fretted, or feared during any given  day. It was a living Friend. 

When the day came that I absolutely had to do something about the Bible (I was afraid it would fall apart in my hands), I went to the local Christian bookstore and got a new one. A study Bible that made my old, plain burgundy-colored Book look shabby and old. I proceeded to try to acclimate myself to the newfangled style of my new Bible. It was doomed from the start...

For one thing, this new Bible has so many “study helps” that I find myself reading those things instead of concentrating on the Word of God. I mean, I need a lot of help every day of my life, but nothing takes the place of the Original. Secondly, the cover feels stiff. It would take me more hours than I care to image in order for me to roll it up like I did my old one. It feels bulky and rigid. Thirdly, the print is smaller and as I’m rather seasoned (never old!), I just can’t see it as well.  

All of this posturing leads me to one conclusion...I want my old Bible back. So, to that end, I am taking my old Bible to have it re-bound. I should have done that to start with, but stubborn little soul that I am, I didn’t want to spend the money on it. So instead, I spend my money on a brand spanking new Bible that I am loathe to pick up because It’s distracting, both in content and in form. Maybe this is a silly, vain, first world problem, but I live in a first world country, so I guess I’ll just have to come right out and say it...I’m a reverse Bible snob. You see, that old Bible, with all my notes, underlines and worn out leather has seen me through some pretty doggone tough times. It’s seen a multitude of both laughter and tears and every possible emotion in between. It’s a faithful Friend. And I am at the point in my life that I need that Friend more than ever. 

I believe that God told me once to not get too attached to any Bible...because I might have to give it away. Well, I will give this one away...when I die, I’ll give it to my daughter. ..who will (hopefully) treasure it as much as I. Not because it’s lovely on the outside, but because the words inside are Life. I hope that she will one day read my notes and laugh, cry, pray and sing, as I have...Have a wonderful day, folks! God bless!!

 Old Faithful

Old Faithful

 #holybible

#reboundbible

#newbible

Not Alone

After checking on Mom for three days in a row, I’m resting a little bit at home today. Trixie and I took a nap, and thanks to a prayer by two sweet ladies at church this morning, I am feeling better. Not a hundred percent, but better... 

The thing is this...when Dad passed away in 2010, I was kinda hoping my life would get a little more laid back. It didn’t. Within the next seven years, Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my daughter lost a baby, Greg was diagnosed and eventually died with cancer after a 13 month battle, and now Mom seems to be declining at a rather alarming rate. It seems to be too much for a human to deal with, quite frankly...

i am only one woman. I can only do so much. I can only stand so much tragedy...that is why it is imperative that I rely on Jesus. I cannot do this alone and I have to remind myself that I AM NOT ALONE! Because that feeling of being alone swallows me at times like this...so I have had to ask myself, “Are my feelings valid?” Yes, they are. To invalidate my feelings would be denial. I firmly believe that anyone in this same set of circumstances would feel exactly the same way I do, or else they’d lie about it. To extrapolate that thought further, “Are my feelings of being alone true?” The answer to that would be “No.” I have a lot of friends. I don’t have a lot of family, but the ones I do have are pretty solid. And more importantly, I have Jesus. That sounds trite, even as I type those words. I don’t mean for it to sound shallow or simplistic. But truth at its basest form is sometimes very simple. If I am a Christian, then I have to believe what the Bible says about Jesus. And the Bible says “He never leaves or forsakes us.” So, I guess even though I may be feeling physically and emotionally needy, there is really only One place I can run.

As I sit here writing these words, working through the feelings of frustration, anger, helplessness, and isolation, I know that I am going to be all right. My God is with me. And something more important than Him being on my side is that...I am on His...God bless! 

 

 

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Mom and Donna...one of my favorite friends and one of Mom’s champions! 

#alzheimersdisease

#iamnotastatistic

#heneverleavesus