Out of the box…all the time!

photo blog challenge

May was Out Of the Box (OOB) month over at PJ’s photo challenge. In my world, May is always May-hem so it wasn’t easy to take time to do much out of the box thinking on this one. But, here’s my best effort for the month.

OOB #1
I’m an adjunct instructor for a university strategic communications department. I work with graduating seniors on their capstone project. As student agencies, they work with “real-life” clients on designated projects requiring them to draw on knowledge learned from previous coursework. The end product is a professionally-developed strategic plan, complete with formal presentation to the client for approval. This year, one team won an award for best campaign strategy….an award they would not have won if they had not thought outside the box on their approach to the problem.
campaign toast

OOB #2
These two require out-of-the-box thinking more often than you might realize. Motherhood the first time around was a challenge….and now, my Nana Nanny skills have been honed even further by these two pocket rockets. You’ve heard necessity is the mother of invention? At our house, (grand)mother is the necessity of invention!
Peanut Twix 2016

OOB#3
This may not look like an out of the box photo, but believe me when I tell you it is. This birdbath was in desperate need of a makeover. Entrepreneur took it and had it sandblasted and then primed it for a new coat of paint. And that’s where our opinions diverged. He is more of a standard color type of guy….and I wanted it purple, which was more than a bit out of the box in his view.
purple birdbath

OOB #4
Peanut just finished first grade and what a year it was! While kindergarten was fairly easy for her, first grade pulled her out of her comfort zone and made her think outside the box in a lot of areas in order to succeed. She is good at thinking strategically to get what she wants….sometimes to her detriment.
Peanut end of school

OOB #5
Creativity at its best. Peanut’s out-of-the-box thinking about roller skating had her sister pulling her with a jumprope. This can only end one way.
roller skate idea

OOB Bonus photo
Well, what do you know!? Just when I though I was going to be a photo short on this challenge, new foto fodder came my way. When Field Day at Peanut’s school was  rainy and cool, the teachers had to think outside the box in order to entertain a couple hundred antsy children for the afternoon. Classroom stations were set up with games and activities to help make Field Day a success.
field day

There’s my selection for Out Of the Box. Please click on over to PJs and check out the other OOB thinkers as well.

Sunshine and Grey Skies

quotography-sunshine72
Be someone’s sunshine when their skies are grey.
~Unknown

There are friends….and then there are Friends. You know the ones I mean.

We all have friends..well, most of us anyway. They’re the people we like to hang with, party with, spend a fun evening with; people we like to chase fun with. They are the ones who are more than willing to celebrate with us during the sunshine moments of our lives.

But friendship is much more than having a group of friends that are fun to be around, or lumping large quantities of acquaintances into a category….contrary to what Facebook would have us believe.

While I have lots of acquaintances, my circle of friends is much smaller. These are the ones who, of course, celebrate sunshine moments….but are first in line when life turns into those gray, Eeyore-ish days. They are the ones who go out of their way to bring joy…and sometimes they don’t even realize it.

One such friend, I’ll call her K, shared with me some iris and rose campion plants when she cleaned out a flower bed last summer. A small gesture of friendship. I accepted the dirty bundles and stuck them in a landscaping problem area where I’ve not been successful, not expecting much to happen. In other words, I forgot about them.

Winter was long and spring has been a bit unsettled for me, mentally and emotionally. The past few months have been challenging, and the last few weeks have left me exhausted on all fronts. My month of May-hem has been true to form.

So imagine my surprise when, one warm spring day, I rounded the corner of the house and saw no less than 10 irises in full bloom, with more on the way. The rose campion plants had taken hold and doubled in size from the scraggly tufts I’d planted in the fall.

And I felt joy. Perhaps for the first time in a very long time. Who would have thought a simple thing like an iris bloom could be an attitude changer?

And the juxtaposition of haphazardly planting these flowers in an area where nothing had successfully grown well in the past (except weeds) did not go unnoticed. Because that’s the beauty of real friendship.

They’re the people in our lives who accept the challenge of being there to offer joy to the problem areas of our lives. They cultivate understanding with grace. They are always there, willing to provide a shoulder on which to cry; an extended hand to pull us up from the abyss; a reassuring embrace that somehow makes us think we can make it through. And the beauty they give to our lives can be an attitude changer.

I am blessed with more than one of these types of friends. They are the women who have stuck with me through many seasons of life. I celebrate in the sunshine with them….and know they will always be there when my skies cloud up and become gray. They know my  strengths and weaknesses. They know my heart.

They are my sunshine.

Playing along with Kelly’s Quotography at The Road Goes Ever On and Lisa’s Life Through the Lens at Simply Living Photography.

 

 

April Photo Challenge: Vibrant

photo blog challenge

April is usually very vibrant month in middle Missouri with all the spring blooms. So, this month was a fairy easy challenge. Life continues to fly by at warp speed and it seems I’m living hand to mouth in my attempt to keep up. Honestly, I have no idea how I juggled everything way back in my twenties. After all, we have sooooo many time-saving devices now-a-days.:-) Oh well, I digress.

So here’s my Vibrant Five.

#1 Vibrant
Leading off is a shot of my creeping phlox along the front walk. The ones that survived last June’s deluge of rain and July heat were especially gorgeous this year.
pink phlox

#2 Vibrant
Spring always rewards us after winter with the bluest blues and the greenest greens. I really love the saturation of color in the sky and grass in this shot. Papa and Peanut love to fly kites….especially ones they get at the dollar store. This one is going on a year without flying into a kite-eating tree.
kite flying

#3 Vibrant
In a ever-increasing, concrete world, Mom Nature simply won’t be beaten. She will always find a way to provide a bit of color despite efforts to the contrary. As Peanut and I walked up the road to the bus stop, we were greeted by a few, stubborn sprigs of greenery who refused to believe they couldn’t grow in asphalt. If sure there is a life lesson here, somewhere.
grass in road

#4 Vibrant
Who needs flowering trees when you have Peanut willing to provide a bit of vibrant, tree-top color. This is her favorite climbing tree…a white pine her godmother, The Golfer, received when she was in fourth grade from her teacher.
peanut in pine tree

#5 Vibrant
Entrepreneur and I took a road trip to see The Golfer in Florida. In addition to a new puppy (to be featured in a later post), she had a gorgeous, blue orchid on her table. I’d never seen a blue orchid before, and the color was so intense.
blue orchid

There’s my five for April. Please take time to visit PJ over at A ‘lil HooHaa to enjoy vibrant April photos from everyone else. Better yet, why not play along with us?

That kind of woman

As if fashion magazines weren’t detrimental enough.

It’s common knowledge we, as women, feel more inadequate after viewing “women’s magazines” that are supposed to be targeted to us. Ridiculously thin, gorgeous models and unrealistic beauty expectations can make even the most confident woman shudder with self-doubt.

But if you really want to feel inadequate, read Proverbs 31. This is Super Woman, personified. And I wonder just exactly who was the inspiration for such praise? Because she doesn’t sound like anyone I know. And certainly not me.

Before we collectively throw up our hands in despair, know this….. the Proverbs 31 woman does not literally exist.

Nope. Never has, never will. Sure, there are those who may have come close, but they are few and far between. The majority of us will never evolve into this dream woman.

And that’s okay.

It’s speculated that King Lemuel may be King Solomon, which makes the person giving advice none other than Queen Mother, Bathsheba, wife of King David. A woman who knows a thing or two about what sort of wife a king might need by his side.

It’s also speculated the Proverbs 31 woman is most likely a combination of many women. She is the personification of years of wisdom…not a literal checklist to determine a woman’s worth. Of course, we should aspire to the virtues in this passage, but reality is such that most of us will never be able to live up to all these expectations.

So stop obsessing. This is not the gold standard for women. Stop and think about the women who are considered role models in Scripture. They may surprise you.

Eve: a woman who can’t follow directions.
Sarah: a barren woman who conspires with her servant, Hagar, to give Abraham a child. Then she turns on Hagar in resentment and bitterness, and has both her and her son exiled.
Rahab: a prostitute.
Ruth: a pagen daughter-in-law and despised foreigner.
Naomi: a woman who is without husband or sons.
Esther: a woman who manipulates events to sway the odds in her favor.
Bathsheba: a woman who succumbs to adultery with King David; and after her husband is murdered, she is made queen. Years later she plots against David to make sure her son, Solomon, inherits the throne over his older brother.
Mary, mother of Jesus: an unwed, pregnant teenager.
The woman at the well: a Samaritan woman who’s had five husbands and currently living with a sixth man. She is despised in both religious and secular circles.

Not a Proverbs 31 woman (in the literal sense) in the bunch. In fact, some ‘virtues’ are seriously lacking. What is important is God used each of these women to fulfill a larger, divine plan. He used their strengths and weaknesses and equipped them to be women he wanted at that given point in time.

I read Proverbs 31:10-31 and can’t help but feel I don’t measure up. When that happens, I have to remind myself that even though I’m seriously flawed, in Christ, I’m accepted, free from condemnation and can never be separated from God.

I’m a work in progress….just like all the other women listed above. But, the one thing that ties us all together can be found at Proverbs 31:30.

Proverbs 31

Playing along with those at Life Through the Lens

I blinked and March was gone

March 2016
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.
~Mark Twain

I have no idea how this  happened. One day it was mid-March and the next day it is mid-April. March seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. In short, March was a blur. Spring began and I think I missed it.

I remember thrilling at the sight of daffodil blooms. I remember dreary, wet days of rain. Mom Nature teased with days in the 60F and when we got used to that, she plummeted the temps to a high of 40F.

I vaguely remember frantically trying to tie up loose ends with my class and work before spring break. Since The Recruiter wasn’t able to get off work for a week, Entrepreneur and I volunteered to drive the grand girls to Alabama to see their dad, hang around the area for a week and then bring them back home. This was Twix’s first time away from her familiar routine and surroundings and we weren’t sure how she would fare.

Re-entry after break was rough. Both girls came home sick, which was evidently passed to me during the 13-hour car ride back to middle Missouri. Sunday began one of the worst sore throats I can remember….prompting me to [gasp] go to the doctor a few days later. Twix is still fighting a cold, and thankfully it has not turned into anything worse. Behaviors in the 8-and-under crowd have been as volatile as the weather, which has not been conducive to making this Nana Nanny feel better.

The garden sits unattended with a partial fence built to keep out the critters. The spring booms are admired from afar as I don’t have the desire to fight the 20mph wind to go outside. And I honestly don’t know where the hours go in the day. Oh…wait…there’s a two year old in the house… who just announced she took the batteries out of the television remote. Ahhh…..now, I remember.

So, now it’s April?

Playing along with Quotography and Life Through the Lens

Photo Challenge: Three

march2016

PJ’s challenge this month is Three…to commemorate three years of people sharing photos with each other in this bloggy community. This was harder than I thought it would be and really made me think….which, many times, really hurts.

turns-3-500x284

So, here’s what I came up with to celebrate The Photo Blogging Challenge turning THREE!.

Three #1: Three-leaf clovers
Even though March should be the month of four-leaf clovers and shamrocks, there’s not a lot of those in my yard. But….hallelujah…I have tons of three-leafed ones! What? They aren’t good luck? No matter. I don’t believe in luck or coincidence anyway.3-leaf clover

Three #2: Three Easter eggs
Since Easter falls in March this year, here are three eggs I have in my Easter stash of decorations. They have a crackle finish and I’ve always thought they looked exceptionally pretty.eggs

Three #3: Three peas in a pod
Papa and his grand girls spending some quality, bonding time picking up fallen sticks and tree limbs in the yard. Oh, yeah, he offered to pay Peanut for her help. Twix thinks being outside with them is reward enough.Papa with kids

Three #4: Tropical Triptych
This is a wrapped canvas triptych of a Cancun beach from one of our family vacays. The great thing about this photo is it’s one Peanut took with my camera!tryptich

Three #5: Three Puppers
I was at a loss for the fifth shot so I cheated. Oh yes, I did. However, I did take all three….just not this month. Anyway, this digital triptych is of the three, awesome puppers I had the honor of raising and loving over the course of my 35 married years. Bandit was a full-size Collie, Sundance and Tanner were both Golden Retrievers. They are now waiting together at the Rainbow Bridge.
three dogs 72

There’s my five “threes” to celebrate PJ’s three years hosting this fantastic challenge. Don’t forget to swing by his place on March 31st to check out the triple fun others had this month.