Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bible Study Review: Restless by Jennie Allen

Y'all - I am so blessed to share with you today a review of the newest Bible study from Jennie Allen. It's called Restless and it came out earlier this year. It is such a fantastic study and I hope that my Monday night Bible study group might pick it for a study in the future because I think everyone can benefit from it.

The Restless study is the same format as the Chase study by Jennie Allen which I reviewed last year. The set comes with a DVD, a study guide, a leader guide and a set of discussion cards. There are eight sessions to the study and each session begins with a DVD session that lasts between 20 and 25 minutes. Each session deals with a different aspect of feeling restless in our lives. The eight sessions are: Restless, God's Story, Gifts, Suffering, Place, People, Passions, Mystery.

I love the DVD sessions. I feel like they are real and I think we learn the most and can relate the best to something that is real. I think a lot of time in church and Bible study people try to sugar coat things and pretend everything is perfect. Instead, we should be able to share with one another the messiness of life and not be judged because we are keeping it real.

The study guide is extremely thought provoking and uses a lot of scripture, which I like. The questions are geared towards opening up discussion in a group but they also allow the reader to take a deep look at what's underneath. These are not what I would call surface questions or a surface discussion. Again, it is very real and provokes real discussion and I just feel like this study is a great tool to help you get to know the people in your study group on a deeper level which will enable us to help each other through the circumstances of life.

The discussion cards are also great. There are 105 cards, 12-13 cards for each session and are designed for use with the DVD. They are designed for each person in the group to randomly grab a card and then feel comfortable enough to discuss the question on the card with the group. I love cards like this because each answer is different and personal and again, helps you get to know the people in your study group.

The leader guide is a great tool as well, helping the leader better prepare for leading a group. There are extra questions and prompts for discussion, but if your group is like mine, then prompts are probably not needed. Still, it's a great tool for preparing to lead the group for the study.

Restless is a really great Bible study. One of the questions in the summary on the study book describes it best, "What would happen if God got bigger than your fear and insecurity, and you spent the rest of your life running after his purposes for you?" This study will help you towards your goal of feeling secure and comfortable about your Christianity and  your place in God's kingdom. If you feel restless and are looking for a way to help overcome it, this study is for you and I would encourage you to try it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter's Here and a Strained Voice

It's been a busy week and I'm more than ready for the weekend. How about the rest of you? It's Easter weekend and I'm sure a lot of you have big plans. I think there are quite a few people at work who are taking Friday off or leaving early. I don't have any big plans myself so it will probably just be a regular day. 

My dad asked me last weekend if I wanted to do a big lunch. My answer was no. Hopefully he was okay with my answer. To be honest, this weekend is the first in a sweet forever that I have had absolutely nothing planned and I just wanted to keep it that way. I have a lot of things I need to get done around the house and a lot of TV to catch up on and I just don't want to be obligated to anyone or anything. In other words, I plan on thoroughly enjoying some me time. 

We've had a cold streak of weather here and I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to put away my coat for the winter. Hopefully the cold winter will make for a cooler summer and we won't have to suffer too many 100 degree days. 

I have been meaning to write about The Pip and her voice. I briefly mentioned that when I picked her up from the vet she was very hoarse and could hardly bark at all. Since then, I have taken her back to the vet and she has been on steroids and an antibiotic for a couple of weeks now. Her voice still isn't fully restored and I'm beginning to think it never will be. I'm inclined to thin she must bark a lot when I first leave in the morning and therefore it strains her voice more. Apparently she barked from the moment I left her at the kennel until I picked her up, thus the hoarseness, Hopefully she will be much better soon. 

I hope you all have a very happy Easter and that the Easter Bunny brings you lots of delicious treats! Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sunday Service Day and a Softball Win

This past Sunday was our church's second all-church service day. Once again, our class headed out to New Hope to help the people at the New Hope church of Christ. The church there is a very small congregation and we are happy to help them make an impact on the community they live in.

After church service, we all met up for lunch at a Mexican restaurant and then headed out to the church. Our service this time was an Easter egg hunt for the children of the community. It took us an hour or so to get set up and soon after the children started coming. Unfortunately, there was at least one, maybe two other egg hunts going on at the same time in the community; so, we didn't have as large of a turnout as we would have liked. Still, we had about 30 or so kids and hopefully we all made a positive impact on them and their families.

The egg hunt ended at 3:00 p.m. and Jackie and I left soon after it was over. I dropped her off at her house and then headed home. I was rather tired and ended up napping for about an hour before watching the rest of The Masters.

Sunday evening, our softball team had a game, and we earned our first "W" of the season by a score of 15-9. It was so much fun and the hour flies by. I didn't make any outstanding plays. In fact, I struck out and walked, but I still had fun and that's what it's all about. I'm really looking forward to our next game on the 27th.

When the game was over, I gave my friend Josh a ride home and then went home myself. After taking a hot relaxing bath, I managed to get in one show before calling it a night. It was another fun filled weekend day spent with great friends.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Show on Saturday

Saturday was yet another busy weekend day. It seems all my weekend days are jammed full of activity and have been for a while now.

Saturday morning I actually went in to work for a couple of hours. I had some things I wanted to finish up and longed for some quiet time in which to accomplish those things. So, I went in around 6:00 a.m. on Saturday and left a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. I got a lot accomplished in that time. The quiet was exactly what I needed - no distractions.

I had a hair appointment at 8:00 a.m. so that was the next activity on the agenda. I love going to my salon. The guy that cuts my hair has been my hairdresser for years and I've known him since I was a small child. So, we know a lot of the same people and it's always good to catch up with him. He's also hilarious and always makes me laugh and he gives good hugs. So, I guess it goes without saying that I enjoyed my hour or so at the salon.

My next stop was Publix for my weekly grocery trip. This was actually the first "big" trip that I had since returning from vacation so there were more than a few items on the list. Thanks to the help of my coupons, however, my bill was less than I expected it to be. I don't think I've mentioned it, but they are opening a new Publix in downtown Huntsville that's probably two or three miles from my house and I am thrilled! It will even have a drive-thru pharmacy! All I know is I must soon get a basket my bike so I can take it to the store when I need to pick up just a few small items. I'm very excited and also anxious to see if this new Publix will become "my" Publix because I'm very loyal to the one on Whitesburg. Time will only tell.

After I got home and unloaded all the groceries, I was able to lie down and nap for all of an hour before I had to shower and dress and go pick up my mom. She had bought us tickets for a show at Merrimack Hall called "California Dreaming". I had read about the show earlier in the week and then she emailed and asked if I would go with her and so I said yes. The show was  basically a musical revue of songs from the 1960s and since we both love music from the 1960s, it was right up our alley.

We arrived a few minutes late, but still made it and that;s the most important thing. The show was pretty good. They sang a lot of great songs that both Mother and I like and I was tapping my foot on more than one occasion. The only "over the top" part was the one guy pretending to play the guitar to Jimmy Hendrix's  "Star Spangled Banner". It was a bit much. Other than that, I enjoyed the show. I think I was the youngest person there, but still had a good time. I think Mother did as well.

I took Mother back home after the show and then went home myself and spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening being lazy and trying to clear out some things on the DVR. I'm afraid my DVR might explode soon it's got so much stuff on it. I'm still very behind on my shows from being on vacation and I refuse to delete season three of Homeland so I'm at an impasse. I'm hoping to catch up on a lot of shows this coming up weekend.

Saturday was a busy but fun day. A big thanks to my mamma for taking me out on the town!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The First Pitch

I'm sure you all are just dying to know how the first pitch went and I'm here to tell you that it went great. In case you didn't know, I threw out the first pitch at the Huntsville Stars game last Thursday night. I won a contest on Twitter back in March and had been anxiously awaiting April 10 ever since I found out.

I had let all my friends know about the big night and some of my family as well and was hoping for a big crowd at The Joe. I wasn't exactly sure how far 60 feet was but figured it had to be shorter than the length of my backyard. I throw ball with The Pip sometimes and know I can throw the distance of the backyard; so, I thought I would be okay but was still nervous about making a complete fool of myself.

Jackie and the kids met me at the stadium around 5:30 (the game started at 6:30) so that we could throw the ball around some before going in. After about three throws she determined that I was going to have no problem at all and so we packed up our balls and gloves and went on in to the stadium.

One by one my friends started trickling in. I was also surprised by my cousin Brittany, her husband Bob Robert and of course, the famous Sydney. I didn't know they knew about the big night and so it was a really nice surprise to see them there and it was very special that they thought to come out.

At 6:00 I went down to the third base dugout and reported for first pitch duty. There was also a guy that came down and he was throwing the first pitch as well. I guess they do a girl and a guy. I'm not sure what time it was when we took the field, but they announced us over the loudspeakers and I was up first. I heard all my friends cheering and could see them all sitting in the upper deck. I threw a really great first pitch. It was straight over the plate and into the catcher's mitt. I was very pleased that I didn't make a fool of myself. The guy went after me and he tried to showboat and threw it straight into the dirt and it bounced past the pitcher. I wanted to laugh and heckle him, but was a good sport and didn't give him a hard time.

After my five seconds of fame was up, I went to sit with my friends and was so thankful they were there supporting me. Sadly, my parents, brother and some of my cousins got there right after it was over; but, they made the effort to get there and show their support and I appreciate it. Some of my friends got there late as well. In all, I think there were about 30 or so people who came out to cheer me on and I felt really loved. I really appreciate all of you who came out. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

Most everyone stayed for the game, and people left in shifts. By the time the eighth inning rolled around, Jackie and the kids, Erika, my cousin Alexandra and Indigo and her friend Paul and I were were the only ones left. It was such a fun evening and the weather was great as well. I don't think we could have asked for a better night at the ballpark. I had such a nice time that I think I will go to another game at some point this season. I had not been to a Stars game in close to 20 years, but it's a really fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening or an afternoon.

The first pitch was a great experience and I'm so glad it went well. It may not be the major league, but it was still a lot of fun and a night I will never forget.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Washed Out and Visiting

I'm continuing with stories from the weekend today because it was an all around busy weekend and I don't want to leave anything out. 

Sunday was more or less routine, I went to church, lunch, the grocery store and then back to church. The difference was Sunday night when we had our second softball game scheduled. I was so excited to play, especially since I missed the first game. In fact, everyone on the team was excited and looking forward to earning our first win. 

On the way to church Sunday evening, it started to rain. We were scheduled to play our game at 8:00 p.m. and some of us were going to meet up at 6:30 to get in some practice before the game. A few of us showed up and tossed balls to warm up and then about an hour before the game was supposed to start, they called it off. We were all so disappointed and had to reign in our excitement for another week. Our next game is this coming Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

Monday it was back to work and then Monday evening Jackie and I took dinner to our friends Jonathan and Caley. Well, actually just to Caley since Jonathan went to watch the basketball game with friends. They are the proud parents of their first child, Cecilia Grace, who was born on March 18. Jackie and I met her for the first time on Monday night and were so excited to spend some time with that sweet baby and her parents. My intention was to leave around 7:00, but we talked so long it was more like 8:00 before I left their house. They only live two miles away though so I wasn't too late getting home. It was a great way to kick off the week. 

On another note, I want to remind everyone that Thursday night I am throwing out the first pitch at the Huntsville Stars game. I would love for you to come out and heckle me or cheer me on or whatever and then stay to watch the game. It's sure to be a fun night and I'm really looking forward to it!

Thanks to Jackie for the photo of me and Baby FowWow!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Saturday Ended with the Symphony

My busy weekend continued Saturday with a day full of activity. I woke up Saturday morning and did some laundry and some TV watching. My dad had borrowed my lawnmower earlier in the week and brought it back Saturday morning a little before 10:00 a.m.

I managed to pull myself off the couch and start on the yard work about 10:30. The grass was really very high and was in desperate need of a trimming. I figured it would be a beast to cut and in fact it was. I finished up the yard work a little after noon and was so glad to have it looking normal again. I didn't cut it as short as I would have liked because it was so high, but it was a vast improvement from what it had been previously.

After I finished up the yard work, Jackie came by and picked me up and we went to the batting cages at Southern Adventures. I don't think I've mentioned it, but Jackie and I and some of our friends from church and a few other friends have formed a softball team and are playing in the co-ed league on Sunday nights. The first game was on March 30 and I missed it because I was traveling back from Hawaii. The team lost by two runs but everyone was really pleased with how the team played. So, since I haven't swung a bat in about 20 years or so, we hit up the batting cages so I could get in some swings (and hopefully hits).

I swung at the air a good five or six times before finally making contact with the ball. I got in a few good hits and admittedly was very pleased with my hitting. When you haven't hit a ball in 20 years, any hit is a good hit. Jackie's step-dad dropped her kids off with us and after we were done hitting, we stopped by the store to pick up some Easter trinkets to put into plastic eggs for our service project next week. We got all the eggs stuffed and then Jackie and the kids headed home and the Pip and I took a nap.

Saturday evening, I went to the symphony. It was my first trip to the symphony this year and the last concert of the season. The night was titled Two Fifths on the Fifth and featured Beethoven's Fifth in the first half and after intermission they played Prokofiev's Fifth. Prokoviev's I was not familiar with, but it was powerful, particularly at the end. Beethoven's Fifth has been one of my favorites since I was a child. I used to own it on cassette tape and pretty much wore it out. So, it probably goes without saying that I loved, loved, loved the first half of the program.

It was a really eventful day and it ended with a great nigh. I'm so glad I was able to enjoy an evening out with such great music.