Who Am I?

Who Am I? - Finding value in your “Youness” | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Tell us about yourself in no more than four sentences.

Four sentences? That’s all?!?

How can I reduce myself to only four sentences?  How can I convey all that I am – my hopes, my dreams, my passions, my philosophy – in four measly lines?

How will they ever know how perfect I am for this writer/researcher job if I can’t give them more than four sentences?  Do you think they’ll accept run-on sentences?

Let me check the requirements…

Nope. Requirement #5 – Proper grammar and spelling is mandatory.

Well, pooh.

Seriously, people. Do you really expect me to squeeze 4 decades into 4 lines. That’s only one sentence per decade!

How am I supposed to – –

Oh, wait.

What if I can’t write four sentences?

What if all that I am boils down to a few simple words? A sentence fragment. Not even a complete thought!

What if my life can be summed up in a tombstone inscription?

Here lies KJ Smith. Beloved wife, mother, daughter.

That’s not even two complete sentences. Ohhhh, my life is so sad!!! <AAAAAGGHHH>

No, no. I can do this. I’m blowing this thing way out of proportion. This could be a great opportunity for me. And for the company. Heck! That company needs me!

They need to know what an interesting person I am and what an asset I will be.

Yeah. That’s right. I’m an asset!

Sure, I may be a bit of a strange creature.

And, yes, I might even call myself “weird”. But that’s only because I simply don’t see the world as others do. I have a unique perspective.

A unique perspective – that sounds pretty good. I think I’ll use that.

I have to admit, though, I do have a sort of odd sense of humor.

I find myself laughing at the crazy images flashing in my head created by the poorly chosen words of others. Those others who spoke the poorly chosen words don’t seem to appreciate my laughter.

Let’s call that imaginative and light-hearted. That’ll work.

At times, I might be considered a goofball. (I once held a friend’s gallon of milk for ransom.) But most of the time, I’m content watching others be goofballs.

Observant – that’s a good job skill, right?

Most days, I don’t feel like I fit in – with my peers, with other women, with the rest of the world.

I have difficulty expressing my desires, such as what I want for my birthday, what I want for my future, what I want for me. It drives my husband crazy.

Decisions are not my forte. That also drives my husband crazy.

Maybe those last few revelations aren’t absolutely necessary.

Speaking of driving my husband crazy, I am a bit of a smart alec. Did I say “a bit”? Sure, we’ll leave it at “a bit.”

I think the operative word there is “smart”. Yes, yes. Remember to emphasize “smart”!

I find beauty in the broken – things, situations, people.

An optimist – Oooo, that’s good!

I feel that everyone deserves to be viewed through the eyes of love.

A people person – who’d’ve thunk it!

On the other hand, I have very little tolerance for incompetence. I take pride in my work and think everyone else should, as well.

OK. That sounds a bit haughty. How about “I hold myself to a higher standard”? Yeah. That might work.

I love the Lord. I love my family. I love coffee. I love to write. I love music. I love the movie “Mary Poppins”. In that order. However, coffee’s ranking may fluctuate depending on certain circumstances.

I am quiet in a crowd. I am outspoken amongst family and close friends. I am hard-working on the job. I am lazy on my days off. I laugh at quirky humor. I roll my eyes when the humor is dry. I cry when – well, just about anything can make me cry.

Yep, I’m a strange creature and who I am today is a result of so many factors – my muscle disorder, my anxiety, my longing for acceptance, my desire for acknowledgment, my accomplishments, my failures, my relationships and so much more. God has used all of these things to shape me into a wonderfully unique individual who knows exactly what she brings to the table!

And knows that this is definitely not what the company was asking for.

Sigh.

Well, I guess it’s time to attempt the abridged version. 😉

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When All You Have is a Little Spark

When All You Have is a Little Spark - Feeling like you have nothing to offer this world? Take a look at the little firefly. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

It was getting dark. The road was winding and narrow. We had no idea if we were headed in the right direction but we were trusting that good ol’ Google Maps knew the way.

“Do you see ‘em?” my husband blurted.

All I was seeing was the little blue dot moving along the map on my phone and my husband’s outburst nearly made me jump out of the truck.

“See what?” I blurted back in aggravation.

“There are lightning bugs everywhere!” he explained while pointing across me to direct my view.

I looked up from the mesmerizing glow of the map and in the dusky shadows of the evening, I saw spark after spark lighting up the road sides, the sloping yards and the cascading trees. It was a beautiful sight –

– and a welcomed distraction from the anxiousness and frustrations of our long travels, from the arguments over whether google was sending us in the right direction and from the snide remarks of “Remember, it’s not the destination but the journey” coming from the teenagers in the back seat.

I put the map down (It was talking to us anyway!), sat back and enjoyed the fireflies’ sparkling display. Oh, how they do make me smile!

And as I watched the little fellows flicker along the winding road, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the difference their tiny lights made.

Though small and seemingly insignificant, their little sparks of light not only dispelled the lurking shadows of the evening but they also lifted my spirits and restored the excitement in our journey.

Pretty powerful little bugs, don’t you think? And the perfect reminders that even a small gift, a small talent, a small gesture can make the greatest difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Maybe you need this reminder.

Maybe you feel like you have nothing to offer this world. Maybe you’ve given so much that you feel you’ve got nothing left to give. Maybe the weight of your troubles – the darkness so to speak – has overwhelmed you and you feel like all you have left is a little spark.

If this is you today, you are not alone. I’m right there with you in this very moment. But…

I have to believe. No, I choose to believe that a little spark is enough.

A little spark can still make a difference. A little spark is all it takes to keep from being overtaken by the darkness. A little spark is evidence of a hope that still exists deep down in the soul. A little spark can ignite a blazing fire of renewed passion, overwhelming peace and new-found purpose.

Yes, a little spark is pretty powerful and it is definitely more than enough.

So, when you’re feeling at your lowest, like you are not enough, remember the firefly and what a difference a little spark can make!

Pride and Breakfast

Pride and Breakfast - Confidence in the kitchen is great but over-confidence? Well... I've learned that Pride does not belong in any recipe! | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

I sat on the side of my bed seriously contemplating whether I should crawl back under the covers. Then, I remembered –

Oooh, my favorite coffee creamer is waiting for me!

You see, I went to the grocery store last week and my favorite flavor was no where to be found.  With great disappointment, I grabbed a caramel coffee creamer, finished my shopping and went home.

It wasn’t until I was putting away the groceries at home that I discovered my egregious mistake. Instead of caramel, I had picked up Maple.

Maple! In my coffee?!? Ugh! That sounded almost as bad as Pumpkin Spice!

But today, sitting in my fridge was a glorious 32 oz. bottle of Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer. What a wonderful incentive to get out of bed! (I know. My life is sad. 😉 )

Oh, but the good vibrations didn’t stop there. The joy of drinking a warm cup of peppermint mocha flavored coffee after a week of suffering through the second worst coffee creamer in existence inspired me.

I’m going to cook breakfast!

Nope. I didn’t stop to enjoy a full cup of my delicious coffee. I didn’t wait for the morning brain fog to lift. I set out to cook a breakfast casserole. “This’ll be a cinch!” I thought. I’d made it tons of times before (using parts of the Fully Loaded Cheesy Breakfast Casserole recipe over at “The Slow Roasted Italian” and parts of the Baked Western Omelet recipe over at “The Seasoned Mom”) and it’s basically fool-proof.

… … …

… … Hang on…

… … … Give me just a minute…

I’m trying to stop laughing so I can finish this post!

Fool-proof! Hahahahahahaha…

Okay. I’m good now.

While gathering the ingredients for my breakfast casserole, I began to think of my victories in the kitchen this past week.

First, there was my cooking flexibility I discovered while making Sweet Corn Pie.

Then, there was the moment my husband declared that I could possibly have outdone him in the kitchen with my Chicken and Dirty Rice. (I’ll have to share that story with you on another occasion.)

And lastly, there was my brilliant idea to use hamburger buns for garlic toast to accompany our spaghetti one evening and then to use the leftover hamburger buns/garlic toast as buns for our sloppy joes the next evening.  After which, I proudly proclaimed myself “Queen of the Kitchen”.

Then from the deepest depths of my soul (or maybe the bottom of my coffee cup – I’m not really sure) came an idea born of my ever-growing pride.

I think I’ll try something new.

I decided to use crescent rolls as a crust. I had seen a recipe somewhere but didn’t want to spend the time searching for it. Phhhht. I don’t need a recipe!

Apparently, I did.

Maybe it was the brain fog. Maybe it was not enough coffee. Maybe it was karma biting me in the crescent rolls but my breakfast did not turn out anything like I had hoped.

Pride and Breakfast - Confidence in the kitchen is great but over-confidence? Well... I've learned that Pride does not belong in any recipe! | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

After 30 minutes of the required baking time, I opened the oven to find that the crust was on the verge of burning but the casserole was not completely cooked. And there were these scary looking pustules growing on the top that reminded me of those horrible videos all over the web of –

Wait. This is a food post. You don’t want that image in your head. It’s bad enough that I had it in my head!

Anyway, I had to cook the casserole about 15 minutes longer and by the time I took it out of the oven, well, let’s just say the crust was mighty, mighty dark and mighty, mighty crispy.

Yeah. I was bummed. Almost as bad as when I discovered my coffee creamer mistake!

Pride and Breakfast - Confidence in the kitchen is great but over-confidence? Well... I've learned that Pride does not belong in any recipe! | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Perhaps, if I hadn’t been wearing that prideful “Queen of the Kitchen” crown…

Perhaps, if I had taken the time to look up an appropriate recipe…

Perhaps, if I had remembered I’m still a novice in this whole culinary world, the casserole would have turned out a little better.

Perhaps.

But that’s pride for ya. It puffs you up then leaves you hanging in the middle of a dart board while daring someone to hit the bullseye!

Well, the casserole wasn’t too horrible. In fact, after a few bites, my husband said, “You know, I like it crispy like this.”

I smiled sheepishly…

… then slowly straitened my crown! 😉

**Full disclosure. I finally realized that my husband had no idea there was actually a crust on the casserole. He thought I had overcooked it and was trying to make me feel better about my mistake! Nice move, hubby of mine. Nice move. **

Be Brave!

Be Brave! - Are you tired of fighting battles that leave you crushed and defeated? There's good news for you today. You don't have to fight! | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

The battle is always waging.

You may not be in the throes of the fight today. But there is always a battle to fight.

Your friend may be fighting cancer. Your neighbor may be struggling to keep her marriage together. Your loved one may be battling addiction. You may be doing all you can to maintain emotional and mental stability.

There is always a battle.

In the midst of our battles, the temptation may be to retreat, to run as far as we can from our problems or to ignore the struggles altogether. The thing about battles is you can’t outrun them. They will find you and eventually, the fight must be fought.

But here’s what you need to know:

The battle is not yours to fight!

You have an ally, no –

a WARRIOR

who will fight for you.

Check this out. In God’s Word, we read of an impending battle in 2 Chronicles 20. God’s people were terrified because of the size of the army headed their way. Wise King Jehoshaphat turned to the Lord for help. Listen to what God said to His people:

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them… Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.

(2 Chronicles 20:15-17 NIV)

No matter the battle you are facing today, God can handle it. So quit wasting your time and energy with the same old strategies that only leave you worn out and defeated. Your job is to trust the Lord and stand firm in the battle.

Yep. You do have to show up for the fight.  Showing up may mean many different things – saying “no” to bad habits, enduring difficult people and uncomfortable situations, facing truths about yourself you’d rather not know or making impossible decisions. But rest assured. When you show up, you never have to be afraid. God’s got this!

I don’t know what battles you are facing today but God knows.  He’s ready to fight for you.  All you need to do is

SHOW UP

and

BE BRAVE!

Sweet Corn Pie: A Lesson on Flexibility

Sweet Corn Pie: A Lesson on Flexibility - Do you find yourself struggling with the ever-changing circumstances of life? You may want to take a peak at the lessons I learned from attempting to cook this Yummy recipe. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Yum! Yum! There’s simply no other way to describe this Sweet Corn Pie.

Did you hear those words?

Sweet. Corn. Pie.

Uh. Yes, please!

Ever since I began broadening my cooking horizons, I’ve been scrolling through Pinterest looking for recipes that my family and I might enjoy. But rarely do I veer off the “Cooking for Dummies” beaten path. The recipes I attempt must be simple and require ingredients that I already have in my fridge or pantry. Most importantly, though, the recipes cannot contain “google” ingredients. You know the ones. Those strange ingredients you’ve never heard of so you’re forced to either call your mom or perform yet another google search that begins with, “What the heck is a…”

Let’s face it. If I have to google an ingredient, there’s a pretty good chance it’s not in my kitchen and an even greater chance I’m not going to try the recipe.

Fortunately for me, the recipe for this Sweet Corn Pie (There are those delicious words again!) was simple and straightforward. No google required. (You can find the recipe over at Natural Comfort Kitchen.)

I must say that my Sweet Corn Pie turned out perfectly. Well, almost…

You see, I didn’t have Panko crumbs so I substituted crushed Ritz crackers. And I didn’t have quite enough crackers but thought I’d get away with it because who besides me was gonna know how crumbly the pie topping was supposed to be?

I also didn’t have white pepper so I substituted black pepper. And I really should have googled the difference between the two. If I had, I would have known that my substitution of black pepper should have been in a smaller quantity because white pepper has a much milder flavor.

I didn’t have garlic cloves so I used minced.

I didn’t have kosher or sea salt so I used good ol’ table salt.

I didn’t have frozen or fresh corn so I used canned.

And lastly, I didn’t have a round pie plate so I used a rectangular casserole dish instead.

Now, you might be thinking the shape of the dish doesn’t make any difference. Au contraire, my friend. My grandmother and my great aunt prepared the same cornbread recipe all of their lives. The only difference was the shape of the pan they each used and my dad swore that my aunt’s cornbread in a round pan was much better than my grandmother’s cornbread in a square pan! Apparently, the shape of the dish is vital! Sadly, I don’t own a round pie plate. Why would I? I don’t bake pies. (Except for shepherd’s but that’s not really pie, now is it. 😉 )

So it seems my culinary masterpiece was not perfect at all. I improvised all the way through the recipe. But amazingly, the dish was wonderful. Three out of four in my household agree!

As I was eating my slice of sweet corn deliciousness and marveling at how flexible my cooking skills have become, I began to think (“A dangerous pastime – I know!”).

Wouldn’t it be nice if I was just as flexible in other areas of my life? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all were?Sweet Corn Pie: A Lesson on Flexibility - Do you find yourself struggling with the ever-changing circumstances of life? You may want to take a peak at the lessons I learned from attempting to cook this Yummy recipe. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.comInstead of whining and complaining when we don’t have everything we want or even need, what if we learned to appreciate and make the best of all we do have?

Instead of counting people out or trying to make others fit our mold, what if we learned to appreciate the uniqueness of those around us?

Instead of insisting on a round pie plate way of doing things, what if we listened to the ideas of others, tried something new and acknowledged that a square pan might be just as good as a round one?

Hmm. That’s a whole lotta “What ifs” in one slice of Sweet Corn Pie! Oops – I mean chunk of Sweet Corn Pie – er – uh – maybe it’s Sweet Corn Casserole…

… ‘Cause everyone knows it can’t be pie unless it’s baked in a round pie plate! 😉

HAPPINESS in the New Year

Happiness in the New Year - Are you dragging the problems of the past into the new year? Here’s one way to deal with those struggles. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

I don’t know about you but I’m ready to say “Good-bye” to 2018. This past year has felt like one endless struggle to keep afloat in the tumultuous waters of life. And let me tell you, treading water has never been my strong suit.

So as the clock ticks toward midnight, I’m looking forward to kicking 2018 to the curb.

Sayonara.

See ya.

Good riddance!

The problem is, though, flipping the calendar page does not ensure that the struggles of the old year, the messes, the dilemmas, the hurts, are going to disappear.

If only it were that simple.

But the coming of a new year, a new beginning, gives us the perfect opportunity to embrace a different outlook, to change the way we view our world and to embrace the hope of good things to come.

Happiness can be yours – and mine – in 2019. It’s true! (I’m beginning to sound like an infomercial! For just one down payment of $19.99 and 3 monthly payments of $49.99, you, too, can find your bliss in the new year!! Ha! Ha! I need to be in bed. 😉 )

Seriously. No matter your circumstances, no matter the struggles that are following you into the new year, the one thing that can make the difference between faltering under the heavy burdens of the past year (or years) and freeing yourself from binding chains allowing you to live each day of the new year (and years to come) to the fullest is…

… your perspective.

Happiness in the New Year - Are you dragging the problems of the past into the new year? Here’s one way to deal with those struggles. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Problems will always abound. How you approach them is key. Do you buckle under their weight and succumb to the siren song of “Woe is me”? Or do you search for the lesson behind the struggles and look forward to the wisdom and growth you will gain from your endurance?

Don’t spend your new year throwing pity parties! Happiness cannot live where complaining takes up residency.

Embrace the struggles as growth opportunities. Step back and look for the big picture. And remember, these situtations are only temporary.

God’s Word says this:

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Well, the sound of rockets bursting in the air tells me that we’ve completed another trip around the sun. WooHoo! It’s a new year and as we begin this next revolution, let’s remember to keep our focus on the eternal unseen – the hope of “an absolutely eternal weight of glory.” That’s it right there, folks. Your new perspective for 2019!

How can you change your perspective in 2019? Do you have any problems, situations or people that you need to view in a different light?

*****When you have a moment, go check out the post, Lean Into Loneliness, by Dr. Andrea Dinardo at Thriving Under Pressure.  What an inspiration it was for me this week and a reminder to “make the space for the lesson beneath the suffering.”*****

Happy, Happy New Year!

So Much More

 

So Much More - Embracing the true meaning of Thanksgiving | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

More than a holiday.

More than a gathering.

More than a meal.

It’s an attitude of gratitude.

It’s choosing to count your blessings

instead of your sorrows.

It’s a way of life.

Always be thankful.

“Giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:20‬

May the spirit of Thanksgiving fill your hearts and carry you through all of your days!

Duck Walk vs. Dog Face: The Battle for Self-Worth

Duck Walk vs. Dog Face: The Battle for Self-Worth - Are you struggling with self-esteem issues? Learn how to fight back against what the world says you are and stand firm in who God says you are. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.comThere she was, sitting with her face buried in her hands, tears trickling through her fingers and soft sobs evading her feeble attempt at concealment.  I looked on with mixed emotions.  I was frustrated with the boy who caused the tears, sympathetic of the girl who had been offended and completely overwhelmed by memories from my past.  The scene was all too familiar and it carried me back to my childhood, to a time when I was sitting where this child sat, a time that forever changed my view of who God made me to be.

I was there – completely broken, tears streaming down my face and spirit crushed because of someone’s careless words.  I still remember the hurt I felt as I heard that awful name spewing from the mouth of a teenage boy in front of the whole world, or so it seemed.  We were on the school bus but it might as well have been the whole world.  I was 9 years old.  I was different because of a physical disorder and all I wanted was to fit in, to be accepted, to be normal.   That day, this teenager’s laughter and mocking dashed any hopes I had of that happening.

I couldn’t contain my tears.  I couldn’t wait to get off of that bus.   I wanted to be at home.  I wanted my mom.  And my mom is just who I needed because the advice she gave me that day impacted my life in ways I could never have imagined.  I don’t remember everything my mom said that afternoon but I will never forget what she told me to do the next day on the school bus.  She told me to fight back, to retaliate the next time this teenager called me a name.  I was a tiny little thing and this boy was probably four times my size but my mom said to stand my ground.  It empowered me.

I know what you are thinking.  “Your mom actually told you to call that kid a name?”  Yes, she did and she even gave me the name to call him!  And being the good little girl that I was, I did exactly what my mom told me to do.  The very next afternoon, after I struggled up the bus steps and began walking down the aisle to my seat, I heard it.  The words “Duck Walk” pierced through the commotion of kids playing and talking and hit me square in the back of the head.  I turned, glared straight into the boy’s face and returned insult for insult.  “Dog Face!” I blurted.  He did not strike back.  Instead, he smiled, sat down and never called me “Duck Walk” again.

At age 9, I didn’t quite grasp the value of the lesson I learned that day or fully understand all that my mom was trying to teach me but today, I have come to cherish the priceless wisdom I gained from that experience.  My mom was reminding me of who I was that afternoon when she told me to fight back.  She was showing me that God does not make mistakes despite the opinions of the world and that I cannot let anyone tell me differently.  I cannot let anyone steal my joy, my happiness or my hopes.  That’s quite a lesson learned from simply calling a bully a “Dog Face”!

And so, I passed this lesson on to the girl who had been insulted, the girl who is picked on every day at school because she does not look like everyone else.  No, I did not tell her to call her bullies some silly name – I left that to her mom!  But I did tell her to stand her ground, to take pride in who God made her to be, to defy Satan in his attempts to steal her joy, and to hold her head up high.  God has a purpose for this precious girl and she’s going to be just fine.  She may not understand it now but one day she’ll be standing in my place passing on this pearl of wisdom to another little girl or little boy who needs to know that God’s Love is so much greater than any insult hurled by this world and that God does not make mistakes.

The Price of Freedom

The Price of Freedom - Freedom is not free. Someone has to pay the price. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

I wake up to a new day with hope for all it will bring.

I open a cabinet full of food that I may or may not eat.

I survey a closet full of clothes and mull over which shirt or shoes to wear.

I drive my car, not my husband’s truck or my son’s car, but MY car.

I take my children to a school where they not only learn to read and to write but also to make their own decisions, to socialize with their peers, to laugh, to get mad, to flourish, to fail.

I earn a paycheck at a job of my own choosing.  I can be late.  I can be on time.  I can work overtime.  I can speak freely.  I can advance.  I can quit.

I walk proudly into a voter’s booth and exercise my right to choose the officials I deem best suited for the job – without coercion, without threat of harm.

I attend a church without fear, without looking over my shoulder, without sneaking into dark corridors.

I can share my faith with a stranger openly, loudly, boldly.  That stranger can refute my faith openly, loudly, boldly and we can both return peaceably to our homes.

I can drink clean water.  I can buy junk food.  I can throw away bags and bags of clothes that no longer suit me.  I can hug my children.  I can go to the movies with my husband.  I can sing praises to my God.  I can shout at bad drivers.

I can do all these things and so much more because I am free – not of my own accord, no.  I am free because someone paid a price for my freedom, someone who did not even know me but who believed that I should be free to live as I choose and to believe as I choose.

You see, freedom is not free but I live as if it were.  I throw away this priceless gift each day while men and women give their lives to protect it.  Oh, how I take this freedom for granted and then I worry when I think it might be lost or waning.

But there is no need to fear for that someone who paid the price for my freedom, those courageous and selfless men and women in our armed forces will continue to fight even if all I do is throw it away.

Freedom is not free.  Someone has to pay the price.  I thank God for the Purchasers and Protectors of our Freedom.  I thank you, Veterans and members of the armed forces, for believing with all of your hearts, souls and lives that freedom is worth the price.