Sunday, January 29, 2012

No-Lack Person

This morning I turned on a Joel Osteen episode recorded a few weeks ago, and what do you know, it was titled a No-Lack Person. He was referring to the verse in my previous post & the entire sermon was a message of hope & inspiration, living your life with this mentality.

I encourage you to watch for yourself. Click on the Jan. 8th episode......

Friday, January 27, 2012

To making it count. . . .

My dear friend's blog this week was focused on one of those things everyone needs to know. Her poetic way of saying it, is a great read. Check it out here. I love it so much, I feel the need to give my parallel take on it.
The message is about making it count. Everyday. Don't let life get the best of you. Don't allow negative things to pull you down & leave you broken.

Instead, have a little faith. Find the part of you that has the ability to hope for something better & cling to it! When your mind wanders off into PityParty Land, yell STOP on the inside. Redirect your thoughts & refocus your mind on the positive side of things. Personally, I draw from my faith in God. One of my favorite verses, I silently recite to myself on a regular basis is....

Psalm 34:10   ..... those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 

When you truly believe that with your heart, you begin to believe positive things will happen, because you have God's favor. He will direct your paths & you will find open doors. When I was young, I thought people that talked like this were crazy. They thought some magic in the universe was listening to their thoughts and it affected their lives. It seemed like hocus pocus. However, slowly but surely I have a found a rich, pure faith in a higher power, and I now KNOW this is true. How do you know something? Well, you know, once you've experienced it. You begin believing when you hear stories from others. Then, it begins happening to you, again, and again, and again. Until the time comes, when there is no other explanation, it is a higher power that is directing you and bringing you this favor. 

However, when you allow your mind to succumb to thoughts of inadequacy, sadness, pity & depression, then you are revealing that you don't have faith in God. You don't believe in anything besides yourself and this carnal world. You don't have faith that the God who created the universe can fix your small problems. No matter how big your problems, ask yourself, How big is your God?

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3, NLT

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. ~ Psalm 84:11, NLT

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. ~ Philippians 4:6, NLT

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16 - 18, NLT

Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. ~ Psalm 97:11, NLT

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. ~ Psalms 73:26, NLT

“For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord, "they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NLT

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. ~ Romans 12:2, NLT       

It wasn't until I started looking to God in every aspect of my life, consulting Him before I make decisions and praying for His hand in everything I do, then believing that He would come through, that I realized the power we hold. When you change your attitude and start praising the Lord because you know He will make a way out of no way, then change will come. Once you start being thankful for all of the many ways you are Blessed and trust that He will guide you into the future, then peace and happiness overcomes you. No matter what may be happening on the outside, you are at peace on the inside, because you know you have God on your side. There is no greater Blessing. There is no greater power.

No matter what life throws at us, we should see the glass half-full, always finding something in every situation to be thankful for. If your partner left you, that means God has somebody better in your future. When you meet him/her you will appreciate him even more. If you lost your job, this is an opportunity to pursue something which you're truly passionate about. Once you find it, you'll live with a fervor you've never experienced. If you've had health problems, praise God for alleviating the pain and consider how He may use you to inspire others. If you were down on your luck and things have turned around, praise God for allowing you to see the worst. You'll never again take the smallest thing for granted and may you never look down on someone in that situation. Sometimes, God doesn't bring us out of the muck immediately and sometimes it may be about finding a way to live life with the changes that have transpired. Tomorrow is a new day. We can remain sad and depressed over the circumstances in our lives, or we can hold our heads high & say, I don't know what He has in store for me, but I know I have a purpose and His word says "they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

It doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Something fishy . . .

Something's fishy......... & it's my hair! Haha

Recently, I've seen the cutest braids, but didn't know what they were called or how to do them. Well, I found out.

Fishtail Braids

A coworker was using youtube for cute hairstyles, & I couldn't believe I'd never thought of it before. All kinds of people, with too much time on their hands, have made videos for any & everything you can think of.

We found some really cute & easy one's & this one wasn't hard to do at all. However, I will say, doing this style with any regularity may induce arthritis. It takes some time & some lengthy hair, but it doesn't take much skill.

Not sure why the somewhat scared look on my face (lol), but this is how it turned out. I was pleasantly surprised for the first try. . .

This cute, little girl has some great videos. So, if you're feeling fishy too, here you go...

I recently discovered she has one on cutting bangs. I may try that next!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Life...... Isn't it beautiful!

I'm not sure what tripped my trigger this morning. (Hahaha, I just like saying that!) ... Seriously though, I'm really not sure what made me start thinking about it. . .

This morning, I was obviously not focusing on work & my mind began to wander. My mind began to wander, thinking of all the sacrifices made by my parents & their parents & I'm sure their parents............ & why were those sacrifices made? More than likely in hopes of providing better lives for their children.

I remember my great-grandmother telling me how she was widowed in her 20's with a brood of young children. She had to figure out how to provide for them & keep the family afloat, while she was trying to run the farm. (As God would have it, my pretty amazing great-grandfather walked into her life & the rest was history.) I think of how my grandfather fought under General Patton in WWII and nearly lost his life when a jeep toppled onto him. It's hard-telling how many other close calls he had. My paternal grandfather came to the U.S. as a toddler; how hard must his parents have worked to make that happen! My father worked tirelessly my entire life, sun-up to sun-down to provide for our family. I recall my mother working the night shift when we were young, all in the name of providing for her children.

Numerous, infinite sacrifices made by my loved one's and ancestors, each and every one striving to be better and to make the lives of their families better.

Who are we not to be thankful for those sacrifices & utilize the opportunities afforded to us because of them. Education is a good start, but I'm also referring to every other facet of our lives. There should be an innate sense of motivation, fueled by that gratitude to live our lives to the fullest in every way, in some meager attempt to repay them for all they've done. We should try to be the best human beings we can be, helping & doing for others as much as possible, always sharing a kind smile and a kind word. We should instill strength & confidence into our children, by standing up & showing them what it means to be an honest, strong person, making difficult decisions when necessary. We should nurture & encourage our children, trying to open as many doors of opportunity as possible. We should take care of our bodies, out of respect for the amazing being God has created us to be & because we need to be as healthy as He deems possible in order to carry out His purpose in our lives.

How can we have the audacity to take any of this for granted & not give this life our all?! We should always keep pushing, always trying to be more.

I don't know where this is coming from, but I am overwhelmed and humbled by the absolutely amazing people in my life. I know everyone isn't so fortunate. I can proudly say I have a family full of good character & integrity, who have always had my best interests at heart. It is my duty to make them & God proud of the woman I come to be. I cherish this life & plan to make the most of it.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 1 Down

So, after the first night of classes, I'm feeling:





Slightly Overwhelmed



Ready to take the plunge! It's not going to be easy. It's going to be challenging, but I'm in this 110%.

It's totally worth it.

      Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be. ~ George Sheehan

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dim Sum

Yes, my friends, dim sum. 

Per the all-knowing, Wikipedia, it is defined as:  a style of Chinese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum is also well known for the unique way it is served in some restaurants, wherein fully cooked and ready-to-serve. Dim sum dishes are carted around the restaurant for customers to choose their orders while seated at their tables.

(No, I did not take a pic of the lady. I stole this off the web!)
Per Jaime, it is defined as: yummmmmmmy!

As with many things I've discovered in Chicago, this was completely new to me. I had never heard of dim sum & once I did, I can't say I was that interested in trying it out. However, hubs, who believes himself to be an honorary China-man, insisted we go. (Which, if you saw this man wield a pair of chop sticks you'd know why.) Once again,. . .  as with many things, after I take his advice, I'm usually quite pleased ;)

Dim sum is something we eat for breakfast. They usually serve it until about 3pm, so I assume it's a customary breakfast/early day menu worldwide. At first, it didn't strike me as breakfast food. There are many meat dishes, veggie, rice, etc. However, this is food from another culture. After I acquired the taste for it, now it's something I crave...

We order several different small dishes & share them all. Some of our favorites are:

Shaomai (燒賣 siu maai): Small steamed dumplings with either pork, prawns or both inside a thin wheat flour wrapper. Usually topped off with crab roe and mushroom.

Spare ribs: In the west, it is mostly known as spare ribs collectively. In the east, it is Char siu when roasted red, or (排骨 paai4 gwat1, páigǔ) when roasted black. It is typically steamed with douchi or fermented black beans and sometimes sliced chilli.

Chiu-chao style dumplings (潮州粉果 chiu-chau fan guo): A dumpling said to have originated from the Chaozhou prefecture of eastern Guangdong province, it contains peanuts, garlic, chives, pork, dried shrimp, Chinese mushrooms in a thick dumpling wrapper made from glutinous rice flour or Tang flour. It is usually served with a small dish of chili oil.

These are just a few of the hundreds of options to choose from! Also, you have to enjoy it with some jasmine tea :)

I know it's a stretch from biscuits & gravy or eggs & bacon, but it has become a staple breakfast food in our household, & I'm on my way to mastering chop sticks!

享受 (Xiǎngshòu)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My newest vice.......

Yes, a t.v. show.

No, it's not reality t.v. ............ I sure hope not!

While channel-flipping the other day, I came across it, Shameless. I don't think there ever was a better one-word title. This Showtime drama is based on the most dysfunctional family you've ever seen. Dad is basically a drunken screw-up . Mom took off months ago with another woman, leaving her 6 kids, ages ranging from about 2-22. Recent paternity tests discovered 1 has a different father. The youngest obviously has a different father, because he's biracial. The oldest, Fiona, is the fill-in mom. She does her best to keep these kids on track, while toying with the idea of having her own life. Nevertheless, they all hustle to make it and let's face it, they are products of their environment. The young ones are wise beyond their years, because of dealing with all of these adult problems. The supposed adult, dad (William H. Macy), is aimlessly stumbling through life half-buzzed, looking for his next disability check. Seriously, these are some amazing, child-actors!

The sad reality is that you can totally see this being a real family. I mean half the time, I'm thinking, you can't make this stuff up. The writers are superb or they are way too familiar with these situations. It's so disturbing that I don't want to like it. I don't want to be intrigued by these complex characters and this underdog family just trying to survive. A part of me says, don't watch this. Then, you're increasing the ratings & they'll keep making it. Then, people will watch it & think this behavior is okay or normal, so they don't mind living it. .............. Yes, I occasionally over-analyze these things & the impact of my viewing habits on major network decisions. Also, I'm telling myself I need to be watching positive television. If I'm going to plop my butt on the couch, at least I can be watching something positive, something inspiring, something educational............ but of course, I'm addicted to this train-wreck!

I'm also naturally drawn to the show because it's filmed in Chicago. Many sitcoms/dramas claim to be based in Chi, but this one is actually filmed here. Watching a rerun last night, Fiona was standing at a stop on my train line. A stop I pass daily. Cool, right? Then, there was a scene at the infamous Midway airport. Just another airport to most, but bittersweet memories for me, as I use to frequent this airport, arriving to the open arms of my future hubby, but then bidding him goodbye a few days later from that same location. Aw, memories. Whew, thankful life has brought me through that chapter!

So back to my point, I don't even know how to fully put into words the complexity of this dysfunction, and as much as I don't want to encourage you to watch, I also DO! It's crude, it's graphic, there's nudity & it's raw America. So, if you're looking for something that fits that void-- well, not that you were looking for it, but if you see it while flipping channels, check it out. . .

Monday, January 2, 2012

Public Transportation

Growing up in small-town Kansas, I hardly knew there was such a thing. I knew you could catch a cab in the big city, but all we had was the Senior Citizen Van perusing the streets. I had no idea buses and trains ran non-stop in most metropolises. As I've continued to move to larger & more-populated areas, I've come to realize public transportation is a vital part of these communities.

In Chi, the most well-known mode of transportation is the train. It has a way of looping around downtown, then shooting out to the outskirts of the city, sometimes like an underground subway system, but most popularly elevated above the streets, which is how it got its nickname, The El. Even for a small-town girl, I find it quite easy to maneuver. Different colors are for different lines, each with different starting/ending points, but each making their way through the heart of the city somewhere along the line.

On my first visit to Chi, hubby took me on an outing, which included catching the bus to the train station & riding the El downtown. I was pumped!!! He gave me his spare bus pass & instructed me on how to insert it into the machine before we got on the bus. I must have had the biggest grin on my face, as I climbed aboard. I was in living the big city life and obviously not fitting in! I'm sure the driver thought I was on drugs or he'd missed out on something hilarious, because who is this excited to ride the city-bus! I fumbled around, until I figured out how to insert my card. Then, looked for 2 open seats amongst all of the melancholy faces. I was obviously alone in my amazement of the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus!

Then, hubs explained how I could pull the cord, lining the inner bus-wall to indicate our stop. I was all gitty and ridiculous all over again. We made it safely to the train station and once again, another first! He had the I'm-a-CTA-regular, pre-paid card. So, we swapped cards this time. With this one, you just tap the ticket machine, rather than it being sucked in & spat back out again. Then, it's down to the platform to wait for your train. All the while, you're trying to protect yourself from the wind/rain, vagabonds and a number of other things that may cross your path. This particular stop is located in between two lanes on the freeway. You're outside & literally standing in the middle of the highway; I found it to be pretty cool. There are also downtown stops which are underground, because they are literally running under the Chicago River.

Looking south, at the White Sox stop on the Red Line....
U.S. Cellular Field, formerly Comiskey Park

Looking north, view of downtown...

Some people feel they are too good for riding public transportation, but I figure if it's good enough for Santa, it's good enough for me!


Now that I'm a seasoned vet, I can't say I'm quite so amazed by public transportation. It has its perks & it can be convenient. However, there is of course an adverse side to it. I'll have to elaborate on that another time . . .