February 22, 2011

Eating = Life

"One of the very nicest things about life is that way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."

Luciano Pavarotti, My Own Story

Have you ever considered that one of the most fundamental aspects of being human--something we all share--is that we must eat often in order to stay alive. I was thinking: what if God had created us to only have to eat once a month? Or once a year? Our lives would be radically different. No restaurants. Probably no ice cream shops. Eating would not have any pleasure element--it would be strictly utilitarian. I am so thankful that eating is daily. Our food is part of our culture--it represents who we are and distinguishes us from other cultures and traditions.

What would you miss most if you only had to eat once a year? I would definitely say ice cream!

February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kern!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY - to my favorite person and best friend - KERN!

The federal government has honored Kern today by giving us the day off work. We are spending it relaxing and celebrating!

I made Kern a coconut cake--it only took me two attempts to get it right. I used his grandmother's (Miss Dolores') cake recipe and ended up using my grandmother's (Gran Fran's) Fluffy Frosting recipe. I may or may not post the story of my cooking disaster first round attempt of the cake and icing later this week.

Anyway, the final product was a huge success!

"Happy Birthday to you!"


This morning, the birthday came over (post workout) for a birthday breakfast of homemade biscuits, fried eggs and bacon. I made him wear the birthday hat and glasses.

My parents and Gran Fran gave him a vintage Coach briefcase.

My gift to him was an espresso maker, special espresso shot glasses, a coffee grinder and Illy brand coffee, but I let him open it early so he could enjoy the coffee all weekend.

A successful birthday requires a mid-morning nap to recharge for part 2 of the day!

February 20, 2011

Letter Box

I love snail mail. A handwritten letter gives me joy. As a result, I have a lot of them! I had been shoving them inside a manila envelope and keeping them under my bed and finally I decided it was time to organize! However, I did not want to just put them in any old file box. I wanted my solution to be practical, fairly inexpensive, pretty and allow for growing room. (I don't plan on stopping to write and mail letters any time soon!)

This is what I started with. These are only the letters and notes I have received since being in DC. I have tons more in Mississippi! I first went through the enormous stack and weeded out items that didn't mean that much to me or that I did not want any more. And good organization project requires throwing away and keeping only the most important items.

I then divided the cards into stacks base on who the letters were from.

I then purchased a box (a great price!) at TJ Maxx and manilla file folders and some adorable pink labels and I used my paper cutter to cut the file folders down to the size of the box. I only kept one side of the sheet--not the connected folder. I wanted these to be my dividers and to be of a thick stock, not papery thin.

I labeled my tabs "Gran Fran," (she has written me more than anyone else!!) "Mom and Dad," "Friends" and so forth. I placed the cards in the box!

The box has this great top that opens up and zips close--perfect for easy transportation. It also has a handle on the side so it's easy to grab from a shelf or under the bed.

I put one of my decorative name cards in the front as the final touch!
Now I have a place to keep my special mementos. I think having this nice box will help me be choosier about what I decide to keep. It's not quite half full yet, so send me some letters!

February 18, 2011

HARPER INTRODUCES ID LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

The most rewarding part of my job is being involved in the internship program that Congressman Harper started for individuals with intellectual disabilities. He has not stopped there. I've put a press release about his Intellectual Disabilities Legislative Package that was recently introduced:

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R–Miss.) introduced a legislative package today which aims to streamline federal programs and services intended to support youth with significant disabilities from adolescence to adulthood and rebalance federal funding to focus on improved outcomes in post-secondary education and integrated employment.

The three bills, collectively referred to as the “Transition toward Excellence, Achievement and Mobility” (TEAM Act), seek to promote meaningful post-secondary educational and employment opportunities for individuals living with intellectual disabilities. Harper’s proposal intends for these citizens to gain full-time employment in an integrated setting at a livable wage leading to long-term career development and inclusion in the community through independent living and social engagement.

“In order for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their maximum potential, Congress must enact a systems change,” said Harper. “The current federal disability laws are hopelessly outdated and will ultimately lead to unemployment and poverty for these children.”

The “TEAM-Education Act” ensures that schools are provided guidance and modest additional resources to engage transition coordinators to proactively assist America’s disabled children during their years in the public school system.

The “TEAM-Empowerment Act” creates an adult transition planning process and system of supports for youth and their families under the supervision of state intellectual and developmental disability agencies. This plan declares that youth can choose an adviser to work with them, whether they would like to advance their education or join the workforce.

The “TEAM-Employment Act” seeks to stimulate a national system-change initiative, which will establish that agencies coordinate services better to produce the desired outcomes of integrated living and employment. This includes incentivizing and rewarding those states who reshape the focus of their current funding streams to promote those services that lead to getting our youngsters fully participating in the community through the general workforce and economic mainstream.

“My intent in introducing the ‘TEAM Act’ is to guarantee that steps are taken to realign the current federal infrastructure so as to promote an efficient blending of resources and coordination of services among federal agencies,” added Harper. “This goal is met by implementing coherent planning centered on the individual and targeting publicly-financed investments toward self-directed significant outcomes.”

Harper, a second-term Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has a 21-year-old son with Fragile X Syndrome, the most commonly inherited form of intellectual disabilities and the only known genetic cause of autism. The Mississippi lawmaker is a passionate advocate for the intellectual disability community and for promoting public policies that encourage the effective and efficient use of federal resources to support optimal self-sufficiency and economic advancement of citizens with significant disabilities.

The Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), a network of twelve national organizations committed to high-impact public policy reform to promote the economic advancement of citizens with significant disabilities, has endorsed this reform package.

###

February 17, 2011

Great definition of the GOSPEL

My pastor in Jackson, Dr. Duncan, wrote a great explanation of the Gospel in our church newsletter this week. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and thought I would share it. It’s such a basic piece of knowledge that can be easy to take for granted.


So…how would you respond if someone asked you, “What is the Gospel?”

The one and only God, who is holy, made us in His image to know Him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from Him. What we deserve for this is final and eternal condemnation.


The good news is that, in His great love, God sent His Son, Jesus the Christ (that is, the Messiah), who lived a perfect life (a life we didn't and couldn't live), and died on the cross (in our place, dying the death we deserved), thus fulfilling the law Himself for us and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in Him. He rose again from the dead, showing us that God accepted His sacrifice on our behalf, displaying his power and victory over death and hell, and demonstrating that God's just wrath against us had been exhausted in, on, and by Him. That's the Good News.


But the Good News requires a response. What is that response? God now calls all of us to faith and repentance. He calls us to acknowledge our sin and guilt and need and to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation. Those who repent of their sins and trust in Christ are by God's grace pardoned, adopted, changed and brought into a new life, a life in which we can finally be and do what God created us to be and do (that is, to glorify and enjoy Him in all of life and to be a blessing to others), and in which we have communion, shared life, eternal fellowship with God, who is Himself our greatest treasure and blessing."


The Bible supplies us with numerous brief summations of the Gospel. Here are a few that quickly come to mind. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Romans 5:8 "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 2 Corinthians 5:21 "For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, . . . . For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . . ."


Recently, John Piper offered this one sentence definition: "The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again eternally triumphant over all His enemies so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe but only everlasting joy."


There is actually a lot more…but I think this explains the nuts and bolts really well!

February 15, 2011

The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis

"Through suffering, we release our hold on the toys of this world, and know our true good lies in another world. We're like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. The suffering in this world is not the failure of God's love for us; it is that love in action. For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial is no more than the shawdowlands. Real life has not begun yet."

I am so thankful to have a God who can take suffering and use it for my good. When our lives don't follow the path we wish they would or think they should, it is a reminder that our lives on earth are temporary. I am especially happy to see this reminder when I look around and see the brokenness of the world. Praise be to God that the best is yet to come!


February 09, 2011

Tim Tam

Yes, this is a post solely about cookies.

The summer I lived in Perth, Australia, I discovered a new cookie--the Tim Tam. Tim Tams were all over Australia--everyone ate them and kept them in their homes. According to Arnott's, around 35 million packs are sold each year: nearly 400 million biscuits, an average of approximately 1.6 packs per Zealander, 1.7 packs per Australian and 2.1 per New Caledonian.

Tim Tams are chocolate biscuits made by Arnott's Biscuits, Australia. A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolatemalted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

I was at Target this week (trying to avoid the cookie aisle) when all of a sudden--TIM TAMS! They were staring at me and of course I had to buy a box because I had not had any since 2006.

tim tam.jpg


I did a little research and quickly learned more about this delectable cookie and its exciting journey to the United States:


"Tim Tams were first put onto the market in 1964. They were named by Ross Arnott, who attended the 1958 Kentucky Derbyand decided that the name of the winning horse Tim Tam was perfect for a planned new line of biscuits. The new biscuit was based on the existing British Penguin biscuit.

Tim Tams were introduced to the U.S.A. through Pepperidge Farm as a promotional item from November 2008 to March 2009. They were sold through Target stores only; varieties offered were Original (sold as Chocolate Crème) and Caramel. Pepperidge Farm re-released these two varieties with Classic Dark in October 2009. That time the Original and Caramel varieties were available in supermarkets other than Target and they were available in the US until March 2010. In late 2009 Pepperidge Farm announced that they would be available in the future at the same time every year, from October to March."

So anyway, I still think the authentic Arnotts brand ones are better. BUT...the next time you go to Target, I highly recommend picking up a package and indulging along with an icy cold glass of milk. Let the Tim Tam melt in your mouth. There is nothing like it. G'day Mates!

February 07, 2011

111

I dare you to try this:

This year we will experience 4 unusual dates.... 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11.

Now go figure this out: take the last 2 digits of the year you were born plus the age you will be this year and it WILL EQUAL...111.

For me: 85 + 26 = 111.

It's the small things.

Happy Monday!

February 04, 2011

MJ & ST

It is a blessing to grow up in a place where you have friends from the time you can talk that last through high school, college and into adult life. I could not be more excited to have Mary Jane and Sara Tyson visiting DC this weekend. These girls have really seen me through every stage of my life and I would not be who I am today if it were not for them.

It's really a shame that I don't have digital pictures from elementary and high school. If I did, you would be in for an even bigger treat today. Alas, I still have some great shots from college forward of Mary Jane, Sara Tyson and myself. In no particular order...enjoy!

Mary Jane Davis becomes Mary Jane Meyer!


Mary Jane's bachelorette party
summer of 2010
summer of 2009 at Jerry's sno cones in Memphis
Sara Tyson McDaniel becomes Sara Tyson Husband
Whoa, short hair, Em!
MJ and me enjoying Sprinkles cupcakes in Dallas, winter of 2008
The Blue Bar in Florida...2006?

February 02, 2011

Welcome, February!

I always appreciate the fresh perspective of a new month—like a mini New Year. Not only do I get a paycheck and chance to flip my desk calendar, but I also have a new set of experiences to look forward to. February means Valentine’s Day, Kern’s birthday, President’s Day and a short month! This February in particular, two of my best friends in the whole wide world are coming to visit me! Sara Tyson and Mary Jane get into DC this weekend and we will be able to relax, site-see, eat out, catch up and just enjoy each other’s company for 3 days—what a treat! At the end of the month, I get to go to Mississippi for a very special occasion that will be revealed later.

As if this month could not look any more promising, the groundhog did not see his shadow this morning, which means spring is near! I’m already getting my Jack Rogers out…

As I reflect on the past month of the New Year, which I can hardly believe has already passed, I am thankful. I accomplished a lot—I went to Disney World, started doing Pilates and cleaned out my closet. There were also some sobering moments involving the tragedy in Tucson and the unrest in Egypt, which is still going on. My brother moved to Richmond—so instead of being 10 minutes away from me, he is over 2 hours.

The moving parts intertwined with happiness and sadness are what make up the weeks that make up the months that make up the years. I’m a big believer that the “little things” matter because they eventually turn into the big things.

In church on Sunday, my pastor preached on Matthew 26: 31-35. It is the passage where Jesus tells his disciples that they will deny him and flee from him when he is crucified. In verse 32, he tells them, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee.” Even though his followers were going to abandon him in his most critical hour, Jesus assured them that he would still go before them and pave the way. This promise is good for us too—Jesus goes before us in each area of our lives. Consider this promise as you go about your day, week, month and year. Jesus has already gone before you. It certainly changes my perspective on the future.

What a mighty God we serve!