Weekly Winners (Feb. 21 – 27)

Hey, guess what! MORE SNOW! Only this time in Central Texas, where its not snowed this much since 1982. To top it off, on each end of this week featured days with highs in the upper-60s/lower-70s. CRAZY!!!

For more Weekly Winner hi-jinx, check out the lovely Lotus (aka Sarcastic Mom).

This tree grows across the street from my parents house. On Sunday, its large branches against the beautiful sunset struck me as something I had to document.
This tree grows across the street from my parent's house. On Sunday, its large branches against the beautiful sunset struck me as something I had to document.
Cold and hungry.
Cold and hungry.
Will you swing with me?
Will you swing with me?
Even though it snowed all day long, it stayed just above freezing for most of the day. Snow collected on the rooftops, even as it dripped down the edges like rain.
Even though it snowed all day long, it stayed just above freezing for most of the day. Snow collected on the rooftops, even as it dripped down the edges like rain.
My parents dog stared out at the snow much of the day in an almost state of confusion. What is this stuff coming from the sky? And why?
My parents dog stared out at the snow much of the day in an almost state of confusion. What is this stuff coming from the sky? And why?
Let them eat cake! The snow outside compelled me to make a cake. So I baked this chocolate cake, and served it up with powdered sugar, whipped cream and sprinkles. Why do it half-way?? Go all out!
Let them eat cake! The snow outside compelled me to make a cake. So I baked this chocolate cake, and served it up with powdered sugar, whipped cream and sprinkles. Why do it half-way?? Go all out!
Reaching 50 degrees the next day, the snow quickly melted in the sunshine.
Reaching 50 degrees the next day, the snow quickly melted in the sunshine.
I was driving late at night from a friends house when I saw this huge Texas flag being whipped in the wind. I HAD to pull over to get a photo.
I was driving late at night from a friend's house when I saw this huge Texas flag being whipped in the wind. I HAD to pull over to get a photo.
I began with a sunset; I end with a sunset. Upper 60s and sunshine. The sunset was stunning, and it seemed the perfect ending for the week.
I began with a sunset; I end with a sunset. Upper 60s and sunshine for Saturday. The sunset was stunning, and it seemed the perfect ending for the week.

♥ ♥ ♥

All of my photos available on my Flickr stream.

Love is more than a four letter word

I wonder sometimes if the word “Love” is used too much. I wonder sometimes if I could be accused of doing that myself. Then again, is it possible its not used enough?

I remember before my husband and I used the word “love” towards one another, I wasn’t as free with the word. It’s not that I didn’t feel love; its that I took the word very seriously and refused to use it lightly. I’d tell my family I loved them, and perhaps my absolute closest friends. But past that? Not so much. Over time, though, I was shown by people around me that it is okay to use the word “love” — because I do.

loveblogI saw a TV show recently in which someone described a near-death experience. And they said something along the lines of acknowledging that when we die, all we carry with us is the love we gave and received in life. It really got me thinking. Instead of material possessions, shouldn’t we instead be cultivating love in our hearts? After all, it makes sense that it would be the only thing we take with us when we go.

Of course on the other side of things, I suppose that it could be said that an unhappy person takes with them the distress and hate they cultivate. I would think that that alone would be a version of hell. An eternity of hate versus an eternity of love? Give me love. In both life and in death.

Perhaps I do use the word love a little too loosely sometimes. I’ll say I love a certain food or a certain drink, and I suppose in reality “like” would be a more appropriate word in that situation. But somehow, “like” feels like it is holding something back. Like I’m lukewarm about something. Love is just so much stronger and more powerful. Love just brings such wonderful and filling emotions! Why hold back?

I’ve heard it said many times, “Its better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Say that to someone with a broken heart and they’ll want to punch you, of course. Love hurts! Love leaves you vulnerable to being let down! Love takes your heart and your very soul to this peak above the clouds where it could fall and be shattered into a million pieces!

Yeah. Been there. Done that. Decided it was a load of bull.

One of my favorite quotes is by George MacDonald, “To be trusted is a greater complement than to be loved.” See, I can be accused of not being trusting. Because I’m not. I don’t trust a majority of people as far as I could throw them. But it doesn’t mean I’m not loving.  Perhaps I’ll explore trust versus love — how they go together just as much as they can be opposing feelings — in a future blog entry.

For now, though, love what you do for a living. Love the people around you. And as hard as it is… love your enemies. At least they keep life interesting. (Ha ha!) Love your health. Love the day you’ve been given. Love a song on the radio.  Cultivate a life filled with love, and it’ll grow from within and transform you.

Love is more than a four letter word. It’s both a noun and a verb. Love truly is the greatest thing of all. Even the Bible tells us so. I think its what we are put here to do, to have, to share. So let that four letter word fly without shame!

You just might grow to LOVE it!

What makes me who I am…

I heard an article yesterday that a college in Massachusetts is now accepting YouTube videos of students applying for admission.

An excerpt from the story:

“We’re not judging it on the qualities of the production values,” says Lee Coffin, dean of admissions at Tufts. “We’re not looking for Oscar-winning short films. What we’re really hoping to get out of these videos is another part of the puzzles that make up this 17-year-old person.”

I’m glad I didn’t have this kind of pressure on my shoulders when I applied to college!  However, I can’t help but sit and wonder what I’d have done as a video when I was 17. Who I am today and who I was twelve a few years ago are two different people! However, in the same breath, my core values haven’t changed one bit.

First and foremost, I would have to introduce my family. It’s changed some since I was 17. My niece and my husband have both been added to the family since then. More love to go around! I have without a doubt been blessed with the most amazing family. A family that is supportive and loving. A family that laughs together and leans on each other. A family that I can always rely on to be there for me. And one that I will always been here for… they are truly the people who mold me more than anything else.

My faith would also be at the top of the list. My faith and the hope and strength God gives to me is a huge part of who I am. I am not someone who will wear my faith on my sleeve, but I also will not deny it. I will not hold back how much I do lean on it to get me through trials in life.

My faith is stronger today than it was back then.

Home would have to be introduced. Back then, I would have focused on my hometown, and my love for wide open fields and back roads. Today, I would have to show that, but I would also have to put a heavy focus on my city. I absolutely love Nashville and its vibe. I love its melting pot of people, and the wonderful friends I’ve made there.

My school would have to be acknowledged. Back then, high school and the pride I had in my school then. Today, being an Aggie is a bigger part of who I am than anyone could ever understand or truly respect. Digs against my school could very will be considered a dig against me personally. My school is more than its football team. My school is a family in and of itself. I could never ask anyone to understand. All I ever ask is to for it to be respected.

Finally, lots of little quirks make me who I am. Back then, things like yearbook, newspaper, band, flags, CDs and my pick up truck would be who I would introduce. Today, writing, photography, travel, my cats, my home, and a good home-cooked meal would probably be what I add to the mix.

Come to think of it, there would be absolutely no way for me to capture all the things that make me who I am in a way that would be true to myself. I suspect many of those applying for admission are realizing that fact, and are instead taking the catchy route. Sometimes its easier to entertain than it is to study yourself.

But at 17 — heck at ANY age — its not a bad idea to do just that. Take time to consider what it is that makes you who you are, and a step beyond that… how do you portray that to the world?