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Friday, August 31, 2012

Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

I've battled internally on who and when to share what I'm about to tell you...I convinced myself I was not holding it in because of pride, if that was the case there would be no one who knew before I wrote this. I had to pray. A lot. I had to self reflect on the real reasons for sharing or not sharing and I had to find a way to glorify God no matter where I landed...and believe me, God's glory shines through in the most unlikely of places.

My husband, children and I are moving. Not big news, right? We're moving because the bank is getting ready to foreclose on our house. Yea, that's an attention grabber, huh?

I am imagining at least a hundred different reactions to that but here are the possible ones that stick out to me: 
     "How awful!" 
     "I'm sorry."
     "How can we help?"
     "How can this glorify God?"

The truth is that many people who read this have likely watched the news, seen the talks of foreclosures, unemployment and overall increasing poverty levels. They have said to themselves, "how awful" or maybe even "I'm so thankful that will never happen to me." For most people there is a disconnect, in this digital age where more and more is done on automation, via the internet or in otherwise impersonal manners, it is easy to loose sight of those 'poor people' on the television who lost their home, job, everything. 

I'm not sharing my news to be another one of those people, the ones you look upon with pity, compassion or remorse. I want to show you God's hand in my life and in my humble words attempt to shine a bit of His glory on your day. But Niki! No! No but's here, God's glory is alive and well...let me try to explain.

Someone close to me told me this morning, "I think to you, He (God) has given a great gift of spiritual blessings and those blessings are a sign of God’s grace to you to bear fruit for God and be a blessing to others." This person has been a blessing to me in many ways for most of my adult life but the most important way is that they have been a spiritual rock in my life. When I am struggling to see that I need to ultimately model my life to be a reflection of God's love to others, this amazing influence in my life has been an earthly mirror of God's image. I know they are reading this right now and I pray they realize how much of a blessing they have been not only to me, and to my family, but to countless lives they have touched and will continue to touch as long as they are here. 

So I read that and I asked myself, "How can I bear fruit for God? How can I be a blessing to others?" From my kitchen in North Carolina, hundreds of miles away from all but a handful of friends and nearly all of my family how do I go about spreading blessings and love? I guess it's obvious the answer I came upon? It always hits in the weirdest of times too, like when I am driving to the store to pick up free boxes. And me without my notebook! 

I am humbled and honored that God has blessed me with an ability to write. I want you to know that any good you see in it, my writing, or in me, that is not me but my Savior shining through me. I hope He continues to use me to share His love with you. It is a blessing to think that it's possible even one person would be touched, uplifted or inspired by my words. But it is not my glory, it is God's.

So far you are probably thinking that I make this sound good, what an amazing strong woman I must be to walk so closely with God. Wrong! I'm sorry but I have been a mess. I have screamed out "Why me's" and I have wallowed in self pity. I have cried at the gas pump while I put $5 into my tank, hoping it will take me to the grocery store to use my last $5 to buy milk and eggs for my kids. I have cried at the drop of a pin, countless minutes, hours, tears. This has not been a flowery, beautiful faith walk. Yet, God tells us through St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, "My power is made perfect in your weakness." Glory to God. My weakness shows His power, because my weakness has not overcome me, I am still here. Albeit I may be on my knees, going back and forth between prayers and tantrums, but I am a survivor. 

My amazing, inspiring person who prompted me to share my blessings also reminded me of Job this morning. I want to share with you the verse that was shared with me, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job 2:10 There are so many metaphors that come to mind that I would probably butcher if I tried to use so let me try to bring this back around without them...God's glory shines through the good and bad times in our lives when we allow Him to work in us and through us. 

God's glory is seen through our trials in so many ways; the lessons learned, the strength gained, the examples set, the love shared. I am just beginning to pack my house and already I have learned so many lessons, about myself, about my life and about my Lord. Each day I walk with God through the rubble, He strengthens me for another round on this roller coaster called life. The most amazing blessing, beyond God's love and His glory although completely intertwined within it and extending from it is the blessing of my friends and family. I have received moral support in spades and I cannot possibly ever explain how even just crying with me, answering my messages or sharing a bit of news that can help take my mind off things has helped me to pick up and carry on. Thank you. Thank you all for reading this, please feel free to share it if you feel it may help someone else. Please pray for all those who need to feel God's love and glory in their lives. Please know that you are in my prayers that God may grant you His favor, His protection and His many blessings. 

I hope you take away from this the important lesson that God' glory is all around us. He is with us even in the valleys of our lives and He will never leave our side. His glory is also in forgiveness, the gracious blessing that is our key, along with faith, into heaven's gates when our Father calls us home. 

May you find God's glory today and every day.

All my love,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

There's Always Good To Be Found

How does that saying because you never know what kind of battle the person you're smiling at is going through? Well, something like that, right?

How many times a day do we let the little things get under our skin? There's a great song by Francesca Battistelli where she talks about how the little stuff makes us forget how blessed we are. I'm not gonna go all Biblical on you but I will say this - God is good and how often do we take Him for granted?

Sure, we may struggle to pay our bills, we may have a loved one who doesn't see eye to eye with us, we may be struggling with a disease but are we alone? No. Are there others who are worse off than we are? Always. So why does it drag us down and pull us through the dirt? Simply put: because we let it.

I apologize if you're a long time reader of mine, this may sound a little redundant, but this needs to be said again and is our choice! Our attitude determines our mood. We can approach things by looking for the silver lining, the positive side, which is always there somewhere...or we can wallow in the pain and let it suffocate our lives.

It doesn't matter if we're talking off the Richter Scale pain here y'all, there is always a way to re-channel that energy into something positive. I'm gonna drop one more Biblical reference, God promised us in His word that He would work all things to good for those who love Him...if that's not hope to cling to I don't know what is. So cling to the good, search for the positive, push past the pain and see the blessings in your life.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pinch Me Please ~ I Think I'm Dreaming!

{This warning is getting redundant but beware of rambling ahead!}

Wow! If last week had been any more amazing I may have passed out from the excitement! I may be enjoying this a bit more because I am such a huge NASCAR fan but honestly I feel incredibly blessed to have added the memories the past two weeks that I have - and the fun's not over yet!

If y'all read parts one and two than you are caught up through the All Star Race last Saturday night. If not, you should totally go back and read those first! Go ahead, we'll wait...

Ready? I'm gonna have to break this into two separate adventures again! So, part one starts on Tuesday. Hubby, Baby Bear and I went to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in Concord to look around and run an errand for my good friend, Sara. Baby Bear of course wanted to sit in the racecars. EGR of course did not let him. LOL

When you're a part of JR Nation (Who isn't? JK) you don't miss a chance to visit Hendrick Motorsports while you're in that's where we went next. I am proud to say we simply walked around and looked at everything without spending any money we didn't have! That's an accomplishment in there y'all!!!

Tuesday night on Twitter we got to interacting with the Front Tire Changer for Turner Motorsports'/Justin Allgaier's Team who also happens to work at Michael Waltrip Racing. His name is Kyle Turner and if y'all ain't following him on Twitter (@ksturner84) you should fix that. Go ahead. We'll wait. Again. 

Kyle asked if we were going to be at MWR's Fan Fest Wednesday and I honestly didn't even know it was going on but I said we'd try to stop by. This leads us into one of my most treasured memories of the past two weeks. Easily! We met up with my friend, Silly Girl (if you're not on twitter just roll with it) but she could only stay a few minutes. We got to say hey to Kyle but then he had to work. 

They still had wristbands left for Martin Truex, Jr and Clint Bowyer's autograph sessions so we got a couple of those and stepped into Truex's line. Let me tell you the coolest thing we witnessed! They were wanting to limit autographs to one per person but there was a lady right near the front of the line with two items. The PR person leaned in to say something to Truex (I assume it was, "Only sign one" or something to that effect?) but he shrugged his shoulders and signed everything anyone brought to him. Very cool!

So after we got Truex's John Hancock (swoon!) we strolled over to Miss Sprint Cup so George could drool, er, I mean get his picture taken and have her sign his hat! While he was happy dancing I got a tweet from Kyle saying that if we were still gonna be around we could watch pit practice at 1:45. We looked at the line for Clint Bowyer, which wasn't moving, and decided to walk around for a lil bit until we could go watch. I got the location from Kyle, he came and showed us where to go and introduced me to Chuck, ( @cefaw0922 on Twitter!!) the rear tire changer. At 1:45 we headed that way.

So MWR has these bleachers set up right outside where they do live pit practices. There was no one else watching, just George, Baby Bear and me. We got there in time to see them warm up, prepare all their equipment and run through several stops (I frankly lost count because this was such an amazing experience I was in awe!) . After they were done Kyle came over and gave Baby Bear some lugnuts from the ground that had come off that car! 

George asked Kyle if we could get a group shot with the whole pit crew. Kyle and his buddies were completely cool with that! I was about to take the picture when one of the crew guys came over to me and offered to take it so I could be in there too! I hope this link works:

We're only up to Thursday! We took our wristbands on over to EGR to see Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya. Now I am not a JPM fan but it was a package deal so we went cuz Jamie Mac is too cute to pass up. I on! We got there about fifteen or twenty minutes before the session started and wouldn't ya know they were having pit practice out back. Now at EGR we had to stand quite a far ways away and watch through an iron barred fence but lemme tell ya Baby Bear and I were captivated all the same! 

Once we got inside for our autographs, I was pleasantly surprised. I will say this about JPM, in person he is very friendly and genuine with the fans. I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years. Oh, and yes ladies, Jamie Mac is even more adorable in person. That is all.

Another cool person we got to meet at EGR was a fellow #TMSFanCrew member, Tommy and his beautiful fiancee! Of course you know hugs were exchanged! We took a pic, talked a lil bit and parted ways. Baby Bear oogled the cars some more and then Baby Bear and George both drooled over another Miss Sprint Cup lady. Another autograph on George's hat and we got a pretty adorable picture of the three of them!

We had seen signs for Rousch's Fan Fest down the road so we decided to head there next. They happen to be right next to Richard Petty Motorsports so we headed there first. Got a free Krispy Kreme. Yum! Ran into more awesome friends, more hugging of course! The coolest thing, by far, that happened while we were there...can you guess? We got to watch pit practice!!

We were still behind an iron fence but closer to the action than at EGR. (EGR if ya happen to read this, hahaha, you should work on this, fans LOVE pit crews!)  After they were done they brought Baby Bear a lugnut! They were still working out there and Baby Bear didn't wanna leave so we stuck around a lil while. The same pit crew guy came over and gave Baby Bear another lug nut! 

Before he walked away George asked him if the pit crew guys would all sign our 5/3rd Bank Hat I won at the Fan Fest up the hill. They happily obliged us so we are now the proud owners of a hat signed by the whole pit crew! YAY! I was beaming all the way back to the car as we argued over who's hat it was!

As if our day wasn't epic enough, when we left Rousch/Petty Fan Fests we headed over to the hospital to see my surrogate family. There's a new baby and I got to hold him! He's such a cutie!!! We spent a good half hour visiting, during the whole time of which my Baby Bear snuggled with my surrogate Momma. It was priceless!

We left there to see my best friend, Amber, who's sister it was that just had the baby. We got to spend almost an hour, over lunch, just chatting and laughing at Baby Bear's antics. We only live about thirty minutes from each other but we don't do this nearly often enough so it was a treat!

I'm going to cut this off here and work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday's adventures a little later this weekend! I hope y'all don't mind me rambling! If you made it to the end it must not be all that bad! Ha! Seriously, thank y'all for letting me share a lil bit of my crazy semi-rock star (in my head) life with ya. I am on cloud nine thanking God daily for these and so many more blessings! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Day As An Almost Rock Star

{Caution: This is (another) very long post! Got your readers ready? Let's do it!}

After my epic and amazing Thursday and Friday I was on a happiness high already, but that did not make the alarm clock at 6:00 am Saturday any easier to hear! I know if you read part one you are wondering why I set my alarm that early!

For those of you who do not know, I have the honor of serving as President of our church's ladies group, Philoptochos. Essentially, our name means, "friend of the poor" and we try our best to serve our community in that way. Saturday morning we hosted a hands on serving event, we made blankets for the local children's home.

I was amazed at our turnout, though some may think five ladies is a small group, in comparison to the size of our church and our Philoptochos roster this was a great turnout! We finished four no-sew blankets and made huge progress on three quilt-like blankets. All in under three hours!

I love these ladies with all my heart, and being that I have no 'family' in North Carolina, my church makes up a big part of who my local family now is. I started off my Saturday being reminded of why just knowing these amazing women has blessed my life immeasurably! As I locked up the church and walked to my car I thought even if nothing else great happened that day I would have had an epic weekend for that interaction alone!

We loaded up our van and were off to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the second time in two days. Just that morning alone was epic enough for me. I was not expecting anything super special, just some good fun with some great friends. I had no idea that it would turn out to be the best day I've ever had at a race track!

We arrived, parked, turned off the car and called some friends we were supposed to meet. They had saved us a parking spot! So we hopped back in and drove a few rows down to where they were tailgating. After some happy dances, tweeting and pictures I tried to text another friend I was supposed to meet. He tried to call me but I had no signal. I tried to climb on top of the van to get one. Literally! I tried this at least three times throughout the day, it made my friends laugh. I like to make my friends laugh, maybe next time I'll actually get up there and dance! Ha!

I used my friend's phone to call him back, left a voice mail, then hubby and I decided to head to the infield for what was left of the Blake Shelton concert. When we got inside I got a text from my friend Jordan. Finally, I had enough signal to call him, we met up, hugged and went in search of Jeff Gluck's infamous tweetup! The hug is epic that's why it made it in here, I love hugs - just warning you now that if we've never met and we someday do meet there will be hugging involved!

We're walking back and forth near the scoring pylon because that's where this tweetup is supposed to happen when I make eye contact with someone who looks at me like they know me. They said, "Are you..." and as they trailed off I said, "Looking for the tweetup? You bet!" They said, "No, I was going to ask if you're Momma Bear?" (For my non-Twitter friends, I'm Momma Bear to my Twitter family!) "Oh my gosh, yes I am!!" "You'll never guess who I am." At this point I am trying to scroll over 800 faces of people who follow me and I'm coming up with nothing. "I'm sorry, you'll have to tell me, I don't know." They gave me a big grin and said, "I'm A Checkered Flag!" More hugs!!!

After a little more walking around the general vicinity of the scoring pylon, we found the tweetup! David Ragan was there! He signed my hubby's hat!! It now has James Buescher, Miguel Paludo & David Ragan's autograph's on the front of it! We saw Mike Calinoff & Brandon Igdalsky. Mike said hi from across the crowd. Mr. Igdalsky shook our hands and told us to come on up to Pocono!

Jordan took the lead with getting Jeff Gluck's attention. Jeff was gracious enough to listen to our whole spiel about the #TMSFanCrew. Then he asked me to send him an email with the #TMSFanCrew info in it on Monday (already sent BTW) and he would see if he could at least get a tweet out for us. Considering the man has a following of over 28,000 awesome people this is pretty epic in and of itself but add to that how cool he was plus the picture I now have with his arm around my shoulder, just wow!

As if the day wasn't amazing enough already, I can't stop there, nope, don't worry there's more! So, I'm talking with Jordan about the wow factor of the epic (yes I use this word a lot!) conversation with Jeff Gluck...and I'm laughing about how I told him to watch for tweets from Momma Bear...when I hear some one give an excited OMG to my left. Well, I immediately start looking around thinking someone super famous has showed up! But a second later I hear, "You're Momma Bear? OMG You're Momma Bear! I totally follow you!" Can I tell y'all that between@acheckeredflag & this follower who I'm so sorry I didn't catch their name (message me if you're reading this so I can fix??? Please???) I was feeling so honored and humbled. My Twitter family makes me feel like a rock star for real. In fact, in honor of how y'all made me feel I barely took my sunglasses off the rest of the day!

We're looking around trying to decide if we see anyone else we know or know of when I looked over and saw someone who looked familiar. I asked Jordan who it was. He took a minute to follow my gaze, then said it was none other than Bob Pockrass! While Jordan made his way over to try to get a chance to speak with Bob, I ran into another friend, Crystal. More hugging! I made my way over to Jordan and Bob just in time for me to fill in a little bit of the 'who we are' for the #TMSFanCrew. Another picture was taken and another email was requested!

Jordan and his buddy Alex headed in search of food while George and I headed back to the tailgate party, more epic hugs first of course! We got to the van as our friends were packing up to head inside and I got a call from my awesome friend Amber (more standing almost on top of my van!) and she headed over to hang out with us. We met up with Amber and walked around a little bit before she had to head in to work and we had to head in to the track for the festivities. Of course there were some more epic hugs here!

All these epic hugs and pictures and conversations just kept making this day more and more epic. When I thought it could not get any better I get a text message from none other than my dear Twitter friend, Laura! We met by my gate and let me tell y'all: she gives the best hugs, like ever! I only wish we had been able to spend more time together. But we all had a race to go see!

We found our section and before going up we noticed they were letting people stand by the catch fence. We walked over and took some fun pictures to tweet to @TheCatchFence (if you're not on Twitter just ask me later! LOL). We asked the Guest Services man if we were allowed to stay there and he pointed to the yellow line and just said that while the cars were racing we had to stay behind that line. Really? SO COOL!!!

The rest of my night is a blur, but here's the highlights:
*Met a guy who's sister works in NASCAR, I now follow him on Twitter!
*Chatted for a few minutes with some sponsors from Carlisle (Brad K & AJ Dinger's cars)
*Made friends with two Guest Services guys, got pics, handshakes & hugs
*Screamed my head off with what little voice I had as JR raced his way in to the All Star Race!
*Chatted & cheered with a guy who said he used to race with Trevor Bayne way back when (said he  knows my buddy too, have not confirmed but cool nonetheless!)
*Got a golf cart ride back to my van "rock star style" for the 'after party'
*Last but not least, our after race tweetup/taligate party was crashed by the obligatory drunken fans who could not find their car (they said they were parked a few rows over but I'm not convinced!)

So here it is two days later and I still haven't found my voice, I'm still flying high on the memories and I'm even more stoked about the #TMSFanCrew than I ever imagined I could be! I can't list all the people and blessings I am thankful for. I am too blessed, I cherished every moment, every interaction, everything!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

EPIC Memories!

{CAUTION: Very long blog post! Put your readers on!}

Where do I start? At the beginning I suppose...way back, a little over thirty years ago on a beautiful Palm Sunday evening...oh, too far? Ok, how about I start with last Thursday? 

Alright, when my epic adventure began was really last week. I retweeted a post on Twitter from Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) without really thinking about it. Turns out I was one of the first however many to retweet the post. I won two tickets to the Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge. We've always wanted to go but have never had the chance.

A dear friend, Sara, came down from Kernersville, NC to spend the day with us and attend the event together. We had an epic lunch, sitting on the bus inside the legendary Lancaster's in Mooresville, NC. After that we headed over to the NC Auto Racing HOF & Museum. We looked around a bit but realized we were short on time so we made a quick pit stop at Wal-Mart and headed home. 

After making some neon signs to try to get on tv with, we scooped up my daughter and headed over to Turner Motorsports. We delivered some goodies to Ted Bullard, their Chief Marketing Officer and dare I say a good friend? Well, on the way to that status I hope! We were sitting there waiting for Ted to come out to say hey and who walks out? None other than James Buescher and his adorable wife Kris! 

They said hey as they walked out the door and my husband says, "Wasn't that James Buescher???" I said yes, he got so excited he knocked his sunglasses off his own head! James & Kris walked back in and came over to us! My hubby got James' autograph! Kris told me that she had said to James outside, "I think he wanted your autograph but was too shy to ask." Tell me that is not the most awesome couple in racing y'all!!!! Then Kris took a picture of us & tweeted about how sweet WE were! WHOA!!!!!

They chatted with us for a few minutes, during which my son told Ted that he wanted to sit in the race car (show car). Ted, being the awesome guy he is, picked up my son, Baby Bear, and put him inside the car/truck. Kris took a picture I think. There was so much going on and honestly I was a little star struck at how amazing the Buescher's were/are! Baby Bear totally tried to put the belts on, he wants to drive so bad it's almost scary! Too expensive! But if it's his dream, well hopefully we can make that happen!

Next into the truck was George. If you have not already, you need to check out this picture of him as he was climbing out:

We had a great tour around the shop, it was so different to see some of the cars not in there where we had seen them lined up before...made it sink in how it was race weekend and all. My daughter, Honey Bear, was in heaven as she stood next to Kasey Kahne's truck and his car. George got a second autograph, from Miguel Paludo! Have I mentioned this was our most epic trip to Turner to date? 

We all hung out in Ted's office till literally the shop was closed and locked up for the night. We had some great conversations about the #TMSFanCrew and more! Every time I get a chance to talk with Ted it is an epic good time, I have such respect for positive people who know their passion and go for it! We got to sneak in a quick hug with the amazing Ted's even more amazing & beautiful wife, Merrily before we scooted out the doors!!

After our scramble to find a sitter and get the kids there, we headed out to Time Warner Coliseum in Charlotte, NC, barely making it in time to see the first challenge. I was hooked the second the buzzer went off. I was screaming like a die hard fan from way back. To be honest, I kinda am one of those.

I think the pit crews are the real rock stars of our beloved sport of NASCAR. Oh, and if you dare to disagree with me that it is a sport than I point you to exhibit A. Go to the pit crew challenge yourself, sit close enough to see the action first hand...than come at me with your theories. I dare you. No I double dog dare you. But I digress! (For the record, even if you're wrong, you are entitled to your own opinion.)

So yea, I always knew that the pit crews were the superstars who make the drivers look good but I will never forget the amazing skills being highlighted that night. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to witness that. It made it totally worth completely losing my voiceou. I'm seriously not kidding y'all, I couldn't even squeak Friday morning!

We're up to Friday morning now, right? We lounged around a little after getting my daughter off to school. I remembered talking with Sara about Penske's Race Shop and since it is literally down the road from us we decided to head up there and look around. It was really cool, in my humble opinion. Of course, walking around the shop one on one is the best experience, but the observation deck at Penske is wild. It's a walkway that literally goes almost the length of the shop and you can stand up there to watch the guys work. Plus it is an open air experience, you are in the race shop while you're above it and so you still get all the smells you get on a traditional tour. Mostly. 

Since we were out and about, and since we're part of JR Nation, we decided to head the few minutes down the road to JR Motorsports next. We were walking around their gift shop when the gals behind the counter announced they had free tickets for that same night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race! No purchase necessary! Um...YES PLEASE! Double bonus? Free shop tour! 

Now, this shop tour was pretty inclusive, we walked past the offices of the likes of Tony Eury, Sr as we headed into the shop. We saw so much I can't begin to describe it all. I will admit, when I saw the #3 Wrangler tribute car I got chills...and when the tour guide reminded us that it was the last ever tribute that Jr did for his dad I felt a few tears escape. 

I am in love with the sights, sounds and smells of the inside of the race shops. If I could go every day it still would not be often enough. I know my passion, It is NASCAR. More importantly, it is the behind the scenes heroes who work on making those cars rock, and the pit crews who win races a few seconds at a time!

We got home just before my daughter came bursting through the front door with her own epic news! She passed her EOG's! (NC's End of Grade standardized tests) So when we shared our plans for the night we asked if she wanted to invite a friend to come with. Her friend was jumping up and down excited about it. Score one for the parental units!

Packed up and ready the five of us head off to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. We hit up the Will Call window and left extra tickets for Merrily who would arrive in a little bit. We headed inside to find we were seated just before the Start/Finish line on the front stretch. Not bad! After a mix up with kids tickets (my bad!!) Merrily, her mom, her son, her neighbor & neighbor's son all joined us.

I was still nursing my voice back when our boy, James Buescher, took the lead! It was all over for my vow of silence at that point. I would buy a bottle of Chloroseptic the next morning. Or two. Hey, they might make a good sponsor for our guys at Turner...oh, but I digress!

In the end, all three Turner trucks would end up with some bad luck but we cheered them on to the end. We know that our team is dominant this year in both its main series and we look forward to many more trips to victory lane regardless of how the 'hometown' race went!!

I stayed up too late talking with all my amazing friends on Twitter about my epic night until the internet went out. The alarm clock at 6:00 the next morning was a harsh reality but I drug myself outta bed and got ready for another memorable day. I had no idea it was going to turn out as insanely epic as it did! I have to say since this is getting so be continued! 

Thankful for: too many blessings to list! My cup & saucer overflow!
2nd thanks: NASCAR fans who rock my world!

Lessons Learned:
*Even if you think you left early enough on race didn't!
*I will never get tired of chatting with my friends about #TMSFanCrew & NASCAR in general!
*My husband has a silly side!! He may have missed his calling! LOL
*My son has discovered a passion for racing! We may be in trouble! Ha!
*My daughter has discovered her as well & is making plans already to achieve them! So proud!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How Do You Find What You're Passionate About?

I'm not entirely certain there is one set way to do this! But I'll tell you what I know!

I think you need to be open minded first and foremost. What you want to be passionate about and what you are passionate about may be two ends of a crazy spectrum. Be prepared to learn things about yourself you never expected! 

You've got to ask yourself some important questions, and you have to be honest with yourself about the answers! What is it that you have the most fun doing? If money were no object what would you be doing right this minute? What is it that you could talk about all day every day and never run out of things to say about? 

Did you answer those? Go ahead. We'll wait for you.

So, were you surprised? I know I was!! My biggest surprise is that I have more than one passion. I just wish I could split myself into three or 4 people so I could pursue all of them at the same time!! 

There's something else to consider, when you have decided to go for it then you won't struggle to find the time to do what you are most passionate about. It will rise to the top on its own as naturally as oil floats to the top of water. It's not going to be pulling teeth, it's going to be fun! Well, unless pulling teeth is fun for you? Maybe that's your passion!

Dreams are what gives us hope, passion is what fuels our drive to get there! Passion is the ultimate motivator! So...what are you waiting for? Go find your passion! Now!

Thankful for today: People! All people! I love people! Y'all rock!!
Today's 2nd Thanks: Grace! Being blessed with that which I do not deserve!

Lessons Learned:
*Read the local events in the paper before picking your garage sale date!
*Be willing to compromise, forgive and be generous w/ your time & talents.
*Being honest with others comes naturally, being honest with myself is a huge struggle!
*There is NO corralling a 3-year-old on garage sale day, no matter the bribe!!
*A lizard in the garage will make 3 out of 4 family members scream & laugh simultaneously while the 4th tries to catch it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tackling ADD One Step At...Hey! Look Over...Wait, What Was I Saying?

If you know me well you might need a moment after reading the title of today's blog...go ahead, collect yourself. We'll be waiting right here...or over there...or...hey who's out there? Do I know you? What was the question again?

If you've just stumbled upon me today well first...Welcome to the crazy train! If you go back through the older blogs or through the links (you can find me here too: ) and you'll be up to speed in no time! We're just here to have fun because life is WAY to short to be boring! ;o)

I am slowly beginning to realize the oxymoron that is my life. I can be MEGA organized when I need to be and yet I get easily distracted by the littlest...hey, is that a...oh my bad, where were we? Organization! I've tried a daily planner, guess what I'm supposed to be doing according to that right now? Well, it has nothing to do with this computer on my lap!

At the end of the day the important things all get done and the rest gets shuffled around as needed. When you are tackling so many ideas and projects all at once your brain sits on overload much of the time, however you quickly realize what truly is important, where your passions really lie and who will help keep you focused or motivated! 

One of these days I may look back and wonder where I got all the energy to juggle so many irons in the fire and not get burned but life is too short for regrets! I'm a big user of the Life's Too Short mantras, because it is so true! Tomorrow is not a given! Today is called the Present because it is a gift! The rearview mirror is small because what is behind you is not nearly as important as the path ahead of you! Enjoy the journey! Live life to the fullest! Leave a trail of smiles in your wake!!

Thankful Today: to have the honor of reflecting God's love to as many as He puts into my path! Can you see a Light shining in me? I assure you 100% of the good you see in me is ALL Him!
Second Thanks: amazing friends & family who put up with my ADD, my high energy and my zest for all things positive in life! Y'all make my heart smile big!!!

Lessons Learned:
*You can never have too many BFFs! Each serves a purpose and holds a special place in my heart! Each is as unique as our friendship and an equally treasured slice of my soul!
*Age Three is the beginning of the end of sweetness and innocence!
*Kids will surprise you when you least expect it and they make life a precious if not crazy adventure!
*Sometimes we love our friends and 'adopted' family more than blood relatives but there's plenty of room for all in our hearts!
*There truly is a silver lining in every single situation we encounter! Find yours even if you have to dig with your fingertips!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Give It To God!

I know I said that this blog was going to be my informal, just for fun outlet and keep my religious banter to my Niki's Thoughts emails, Google+ and Facebook page but...
God is on my mind big time today and I can't walk away from that, it means to me that I'm supposed to share. So, please bear with me! No Bible verse quotes but I'm gonna bear my heart a bit, okay?

Today I went to the post office, yes we could all use God when we have to go there! I had a delivery confirmation receipt for my audition video that kept showing me online that it had been delivered to Charlotte, NC. But the destination was California! I waited in the longest line...ever. I tweeted to avoid boredom. I smiled when I got to the front and asked the man behind the counter how his day was. He was not cheerful. I mailed a package to my goddaughter in Chicago. I asked about the delivery confirmation. He told me to step aside to the window while he got his supervisor for me. 

BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! Wow, that was loud! I wait in front of a closed window, feeling the stares of twenty or so people in line. I was tempted to tweet again but I didn't want to get caught red-handed by the supervisor who's help I needed. The window opens, a large man in a bold pink shirt appears and says to me, "How may I not help you?" REALLY? Is your day so bad that you greet people that way? Eeeek! Poor, sad man! Bless his heart!

I told him my story, he told me I should have paid for a signature instead but he'd look and see if he could find anything out. I leaned on the window ledge, I folded my hands, I bowed my head and I prayed my heart out. I waited. I prayed more. I waited more. Finally he reappears holding a full sheet of paper and tells me my package was delivered last week to the correct address in California! YAY!

I skipped back to my car. Smiling from ear to ear. Then it hits me. It's no longer in my hands. I am completely out of control of my fate. But that's life really. "Control is an illusion." God holds us all in His hands. You know what? I am comforted by that powerful fact! I make far too many mistakes to be left on my own out here! So I'm letting go.I refuse to count down the days. I will practice as if I'm in but live as if I'm not. Life is a journey! It's way more fun if we sit back and enjoy the ride. So give it to God y'all! 

Thankful today: for an amazing birthday yesterday, and all y'all that made it epic!
2nd thanks: connecting with new friends! 

Lessons Learned:
*An extra large shirt from HMS is the equivalent of a medium anywhere else!
*You can build real friendships with people you meet online, step cautiously but love freely!
*The smallest gesture can make the biggest impact!
*Skipping like a school girl is an activity that should be partaken of often!
* Everyone needs a least one person in their life that makes them feel cherished! Cherish them back!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lucky Thirteen?

I got to thinking today about my marriage, we're going to be celebrating thirteen amazing years together later this month. It's been a roller coaster ride! I remember when we met, George had a full out mullet and it was 1998 for heaven's sake! But he had on them cowboy boots and I've always been a sucker for those Mediterranean men!

We had a whirlwind romance I guess you could say! Started dating August of 1998, knew he was 'the one' by October, engaged December and we were married in our very own "Big Fat Greek Wedding" on Sunday, April 25, 1999. Crazy, right? Seems to be a theme in my life!

Our life has been full of its ups and downs. We've had epic fights, we've had amazing memories made, we have been through it all together. So what makes it work? Well, communication is huge! Of course there's love, that's a must, and you can only get so far without respect and trust! It's being ready to fight for your marriage against all odds, it's being open minded and a good listener.

How about you? Are you married? What's working for your success there? Still single? What are you looking for? Do you have an ideal mate in mind? I thought I had and I was wrong, but then I always thought I'd mess up if/when I got married yet here I am thirteen years and counting!

I wasn't looking for love when I found George! In fact, you could maybe say I already thought I had it! I was in a pretty serious relationship with my best friend from HS when George 2-Stepped into my world. Sometimes when we plan, God laughs, right? Good thing my 'fate' is in the hands of Someone a lot smarted than I!

Thankful for: A real marriage that has made it through thick & thin so far!
2nd Thanks: The ups & downs in life that bring us closer to each other!

Lessons Learned:
*My husband will always be my favorite cowboy even if he doesn't ride horses! 
*We can push ourselves into realms we never thought possible while we're not even paying attention!
*God's plans are always better than anything we could dream up!

*Faith is not just about Jesus, it covers the ones we love in our trust as well!
*Life is too short to not appreciate every moment and every individual you're blessed to receive!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Be Real!

I have been overwhelmingly surprised at the new friendships I have been forming over the past month or two. Surprised because I never would have thought I could make so many connections to so many people all over the world. Overwhelmed because I have real feelings of lasting friendships with some amazing people who seem to feel the same way about me!

I am in awe over how technology can bring people together who would have never otherwise connected. I sit back and wonder how over 450 people think I am interesting enough to 'follow' what I'm typing. I try to determine what it is that draws me to follow them back!

I think my conclusion is that I am real and somehow through my little updates my sincerity comes across. I truly and firmly believe that life is too short! Too short to waste even one moment, too short to have regrets, too short to not spend every possible second of it smiling with pure joy! Maybe that's refreshing in a world where "if it bleeds it leads" and war is a passing phrase that barely registers with too many jaded souls?

For the record, I can't stand watching sad, tragic news stories and I pray for all who are fighting for our freedom daily. I do not take that stuff lightly, please do not read my last paragraph that way. I have a love for my fellow man that makes my heart break when I see anyone in pain. It's why I try to make the people around me keep a smile on their face!

So, if you're wondering what to type next, how to sound more interesting, who you should be more like when you put yourself out there...well, I have some advice! In my humble opinion, I say just be real! Be YOU! People can usually tell when you're fake or trying too hard and it just does not go over well. You don't have to make it a tell all but don't hold back who you really are. We want to interact with genuine people, be one of them!

Thankful for: My newest friends, whom I love w/ all my heart! I hope y'all are reading this - you should know who you are!!
Second thanks: The amazing talents God has blessed me with and any opportunity big or small that I have to share them and Him with my little corner of the world!

Lessons Learned:
*Never walk down a dark hallway full speed ahead, you never know what's in your path!
*I have learned to fully embraced my inner klutz and she's just as goofy as the rest of me!!
*We must now learn to share the phone for we are the proud (?) parents of a tween.
*There are endless silver linings if you know where to can hit me up if ya need help finding one!
*The heart has an amazing capacity for love, you can never love too many people...there's plenty to go around!

Monday, March 26, 2012

About Me

For my audition tape I need five minutes or less about me for the producers...gracious! That's a short amount of time to squeeze me into!

Well, I thought I would get y'all opinion, I'm thinking something like this:

Hi, I'm Niki Nikolopoulos, yes, it's a tongue you can't say it 10 times fast? I hail from Mooresville, NC and no I wasn't born and raised here. But Race City USA has my heart & my soul so it's my forever home. I am a jack of all trades, master of many. Besides singing I love to write, in fact I'm revising my first novel at the moment. Truth be told, I have many passions, family, friends, church, baking and cooking to name a few. I left a 12 year career in banking to become a stay at home mom last year. It wasn't until a few months after I did that I finally started meeting the real me. I am a goofy, fun loving, eternally optimistic lady who also happens to be a die hard NASCAR fan and a bit of a Twitter addict. I'm ready to rock this! Let's go!

Okay, so honest feedback, what did I miss? What could I do without?

My Thankful Today: the journey that life has taken me on so far!
Second Thanks: Not getting hit in the head with a tire or two!

Lessons Learned:
*When sitting outside the mechanic's reading your book it is important to stay alert!
*If presented with an opportunity for a Bill Engvall joke don't hold back!
*Soak up some sun every chance you get! (Remember your SPF!)
*Once I'm on a water kick it's easy to stay there! YAY!
*Sneak in some time for your favorite hobby as often as possible!

What's Your Perspective?

There is a local church that hosts an event for the community's school children every August for the past few years. Our church has participated with support and volunteers. This is a free event offering school supplies, shoes and haircuts for all children in the community. It's a party atmosphere. There are game booths, food and beverages. It's an amazing effort to help out with no questions asked.

Coming from the perspective of someone who struggles living paycheck to paycheck or thinner, this is an event my family has been incredibly grateful for. I have personally also volunteered and the reward of watching these children come through and choose their supplies is indescribable. They are thankful, humble, relieved. The parents are the same and more. I did not witness one person come through that seemed insincere.

So it came as a huge shock to me today to learn that this event and more specifically our church's support of it has been a touchy topic with some people. I had to step out of my own perspective and try to see it. I think from years of working with the public in retail and then in banking I have an ability to see things from both sides of the fence. This morning as I contemplated the other side it saddened me. The only things I could think of were not very Christian mindsets.

I could see how maybe some could be critical that the supplies are being offered with no questions asked. We know that in this world there are opportunists who would take advantage of free no matter what, I guess. But I like to give people the benefit of doubt and say that there are few and far between who would do this. If I had encountered a naysayer I would have put it this way: if background information on their finances were required think of how many fewer children would be helped because their parents are too proud to admit they need help. Or how many would stay away for fear that someone they know would see them and instantly know their income was below $XYZ? In truth there are many more reasons why this should be offered the way it is rather than any requirements being fulfilled. It's not about the money. It's about serving our fellow man, no strings, no questions, just love. Unconditional love. That's what we are called to give to all men.

Perspective is a funny thing, no two people have exactly the same one. They may have similar views across many topics but we are all unique. To an overweight person it may be a flippant thing to call themselves fat or plump. To an obese individual these words hurt to even think about. Terms like that are a ball and chain that weigh them down and make them feel hopeless, worthless and unwanted.

Sports fans have different perspectives too. They have perspectives on who the best of the best are. They have perspective on what is being done wrongly. They have perspectives on the cost of everything. To one fan the behind the scenes people are just that, out of sight out of mind. To another, those folks who don't get as much recognition are the real superstars. Best teams, best athletes, what makes a real sport, the list could go on and you'd have just as many people on one side as you would on the other in almost every debate.

Life. There are tons of perspectives on life! Good, bad and in between we all see life differently. We all see our lives differently. To the outsider, our lives may appear perfect when the truth may be our family is breaking, someone is sick or the mortgage can't get paid this month. There are realists who look at the situation and say well this could happen but the likelihood is more this. While the pessimist in the room will say, that will never happen. In pipes the optimist who promptly smiles and says of course it can happen and we're gonna help it along. 

I could keep going, in fact in my head I had to cut at least two more topics to show perspectives on! I think the bottom line I'm reaching for has to do with compromising our perspective. If everyone took a moment to step back and see the issue at hand from the other side I think we would find the road to compromise would be come a less rocky path. Sure sometimes we would still have to agree to disagree on a few points but overall, can you even try to imagine a world where we embraced opposing perspectives and learned from them?

Thankful for: Excedrin Migraine. Or the Wal-Mart version anyway! 
Second thanks: my wonderful family who spoiled me while I was down & out.

Lessons Learned: 
*When Momma Bear is sick the house does not get cleaned. This is a sad fact.
*A Sunday afternoon nap is wonderful until you can't get to sleep Sunday night.
*Working out is not a good idea when you already can't sleep.
*A good work out gets my brain flowing and the writing comes naturally and quickly. 
*Saying music is a part of my soul is like saying I need oxygen to breath. It's not just soothing, it doesn't just touch my heart, it's a feeling I get through my entire existence that I wish I could share with the world!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Real Love and Real Life Are Hard Work!

For those who don't already know, I've been married to George for thirteen years as of a month from tomorrow.  Our life together has been up, down and taken us hundreds of miles from where we each grew up. We've moved six times across three different states. George has tattoo for each one. I have shot glasses. We disagree on football, finances and God. We share a love for each other, our kids and NASCAR.

George has a plethora of bad habits. He belches and passes gas without saying, 'excuse me,' He wears a hat to the supper table. He goes off on crazy ideas like paramedic courses or Harley riding classes but doesn't finish them. He cusses a little too much for me. He's addicted to junk food & soda.

George has a good side. He has been there for me through the birth of our two children, held my hand the entire time. He makes our kids laugh. He helps out friends and neighbors without a thought. He never makes me mow the lawn. He puts up with me and my wacky mood swings. He believes in me and makes me feel beautiful no matter what I actually may look like. 

I bet if you ask him he has his own lists about me! We live in the real world where we don't always see eye to eye. We talk through things. We walk away from talking when it's needed. We come back to it and find a compromise. We love each other no matter what. It gets us through. Real life love takes more than 100% commitment from both people to work. And it is work. But it is so worth it. 

Marriage isn't the only relationship that takes work, love and compromise. True friends love you because of your imperfections, not in spite of them. Cherish those in your life who see you heart and adore you for every part of who you are. Remember to laugh as often as possible. Take each other by the hand and find the silver linings in life together.

Thankful for: A marriage blessed by love, compromise and my soul's true mate.
Second thanks: My true friends, ALL of them, who take my life to new and amazing places daily.

Lessons Learned: 
*Too much sleep makes me cranky. This means my recent insomnia has been my good friend.
*When Momma Bear is cranky the kids go berserk. This does not improve Momma's mood.
*Finding a way to channel your energy into something positive is the only way to really live in this, "crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life."
*Life's lemons make good lemonade, but its limes make fantabulous margaritas! Best shared with friends!
*Emergen-C and Lysol ROCK at battling Flu germs! Fingers crossed we dodged the bullet!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Humble or Not? You Decide!

Humility. How can you tell if it is sincere? How can you maintain your own? Where is the line between humbly confident and egotistical? And if I say I am humble is that actually boasting?

What does it mean to you to be humble? The definition includes, "not proud or arrogant; modest; having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience,etc.; low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly; courteously respectful."

Respect is a big deal. You've got to give it in order to earn it. It's a piece of the puzzle that leads to what true humility is, don't you think? I think that truly being humble is more than a state of mind or a way of speaking. It's a whole body experience! In other words your actions will speak to whether you are truly humble or just wanting to be humble.

I think it's like the golden rule on steroids. It reads like this, 'Do unto others better than you would have done to you.' If you're constantly giving others over and above what you would expect in their shoes than it has to be on the right track, right?

I've had the most amazing response to my singing over the past few weeks. Every compliment wow's me more than the last one. If I had received only one positive feedback it would have been one more than I was expecting. I'm in awe of the overwhelming support and affection I've received, and from people I've never met! I feel blessed to the point where my heart is bursting with love and gratitude every moment of the day. Does that make me humble? I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is that it is my honor to share with you. Whether it be this blog, my singing videos, Niki's Thoughts devotions or just a candid conversation, it has been and continues to be my honor.

It comes down to this: being humble means different things to different people. Search your soul and find what it means to you. Then, don't buy into lip service, live your whole life that way and watch your little corner of the world light up with goodness and smiles!

Thankful for: the talents God has blessed me with and the opportunity to share those talents, in any form.
Second thanks: my kids! Their craziness is either hereditary, contagious or both! But it just makes me love them all the more for it!

Lessons Learned: 
*When others have faith in you it can boost your faith in yourself and push you to do things you never dreamed you would!
*A small amount of encouragement can go a long way!
*When you stand your ground you can get your kids to eat Green Peppers instead of popsicles. 
*If you smile the world smiles with you, if you frown you can bring them down. It's all contagious so be conscience and share the smiles!!!
*Peanut Butter & Nutella sandwiches can be a great compromise, as long as you spread the Nutella very thin and slather all of it on a wholesome wholegrain bread ;o)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do You Really Listen?

Self esteem. It's a funny thing. It can be high, or low. Healthy or warped. It can feed a raging ego or spiral one into depression. It can be completely on our own weird perceptions or it can be formed by what we hear others say.

We hear what people say to us but are we really listening? When we receive constructive criticism do we act upon it to make self improvements? If we are given a compliment do we take it to heart with a humble, accepting  spirit? Are we wise enough to discern the truth from the words we hear?

I battled with whether to make this about me, share my experience in order to help you find yours...I don't want to sound like I'm 'all about me' so I'm going to keep it vague for now. IF you want me to elaborate on my own self esteem levels and how they've changed  plus how I've grown then you'll have to comment below and I'll work it into another blog. :o)

What I will say is a quote from an old college I have always adored: God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason! We should listen, not just hear, what people are saying to us. How we react to what is being said is our choice. We can turn everything into a positive. Even negative comments because they can help our practice with choosing to react positively no matter what. 

So, we may hear, but do we really listen? Here's how you can tell...if you're thinking about what you want to say next before the talker is finished speaking then you are merely hearing sounds. If you want to truly listen you must focus 100% on the other person when they are speaking. You may surprise yourself with what you'll learn!

Thankful today: for my amazing kids! They may be a lil crazy but that's b/c they're mine! :o) Don't fall far from the tree, bless their lil hearts! 
Second Thanks: Forgiveness. It is a blessing to receive and to give. Life is WAY too short to hold onto any negativity. Let it go. :o)

Lessons Learned: 
*I have Twitter fans and they think I'm funny and I think that's amazing! They are all amazing! :o)
*I am humbled and honored every time I receive a compliment, it's amazing how a heart that feels so full can keep growing inside me. <3
*My daughter says I have learned it takes her 3 hours to clean her room. Honey child if you kept up with it this would have taken 5 minutes!
*My husband does not take lightly to my safety, virtual or otherwise. LOVE him! :o)
*I am not a fan of basketball unless I'm there in person. BORING on TV to me. Sorry. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Do You Define Family?

Y'all may very well laugh at me but the phrase, "blood is thicker than water," never made a whole lick of sense to me. Of course it is! Have you seen blood? Have you seen water? 

I guess from the context of how it's used I would surmise it to mean something like family is a stronger bond than any other relationship we encounter. I think that's true. But how do you define family?

Family to me is more a feeling than a definition. Does that sound odd? Well, if you know me by now than you know I'm a little off the wall like that. Just roll with it! 

I grew up with relatives and family being sometimes different categories. That's not to say I don't love all of my relatives, it's just I'm not as close with some as I am with others. However, in my family category there are plenty of non-blood members! There are even subcategories filled with these amazing people. 

I think relatives who are family in the sense that you feel that unbreakable closeness are a sweet blessing to thank God for. I believe that family who aren't 'blood' are a double blessing because it's family you've chosen and they choose you back. You have a bond of some kind that bring a feeling of togetherness.

It may be a friend you made back in school, one from work, it can even be an online friend you've never met in person. Doesn't matter how you met. There's a feeling that covers your heart and lets you know that there's a kinship which is more special than just a passing ship in the night. It's wanting to stick up for them if someone attacks, it's sharing in their joy, comforting them through their pain. Family is love, unconditionally unique. 

Thankful For: Family! All my families, you know who you are and I love you!
Second Thanks: Warm weather days! I love getting outside & feeling the sun on my skin!

Lessons Learned:
*Jack of all trades can lead to too many irons in the fire to keep productive at times.
*Prioritizing, lists, focus are all good tools to get any job done!
*You can find family in all sorts of places!
*I am easily drawn to people, fast trusting and sometimes fragile but I've got a good support network to fall back on.
*Sometimes you can scare people off if you're too friendly too soon! LOL

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dream Big & Plan Ahead

So, if you've been on this blogging journey with me than you already know I am working on an audition tape for Season 3 of NBC's The Voice...I have finalized the song selection! I have to prepare 2 and I've chosen Melissa Etheridge's "Chrome Plated Heart" and Chely Wright's "Shut Up and Drive" for mine. Now I need to have a 5 min or less 'about me', choose my outfit and record!

I started a conversation on Twitter about what to sing. It was a lot of fun to interact with people. It is heartwarming the amount of support I've received from people I've never met in real life! I got two really good suggestions for my second choice. I was torn.

I'm dreaming big here, right? I'm not expecting a call but at the same time I'm picturing myself on that stage for the finale waiting to hear who won. In oder to be ready, I must plan ahead, right? So instead of choosing to sing one and not the other I made a compromise. I'm singing one as my second audition tape song. The other I am hiding in my back pocket for the Blind Auditions.

If you never dream big than how will you push yourself towards better things? Or different ones? Dreams are important! They help foster hope. Hope gives us a reason to wake up even on those mornings we feel like stale toast. So once you achieve your current dream form a new one fast!

Thankful for: Emergen-C! This stuff rocks some awesome vitamins and helps kick the caffeine addiction!
Second Thanks: Imagination! What would things look like if no one ever imagined different and better things? Goes together well with dreams!!

Lessons Learned:
*Sparkles on my shirt make me feel like a rock star :o)
*It's okay to go for several dreams at once just don't over extend. You'll burn out and risk giving up on one or all of them!
*I enjoy making people smile. Gives me the warm fuzzies! :o)
*I'm kind of shy, I need to work on this, it's a self confidence thing that we so won't go into right now! lol
*My inner cheerleader loves a challenge but needs to be loved <3

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Will Not Apologize

I thought about this a lot Saturday night. Then off and on again on Sunday I tried to make a decision on how I wanted to address my last blog post. For those of you not on Twitter, the drunk driving death was someone's twisted, sick idea of a prank. I still stand behind what I wrote because the emotions I felt for the faux-victims family were real. 

I try to live positive. I try to be true to me. Please don't let it ever be said of me that I was phony or two-faced! I'd like to think that I have a big heart, I don't know how true that is until I am faced with someone I don't get along with. That doesn't happen much at all! The few people I've encountered that I had difficulties with I prayed for. Even if it wasn't a gut reaction I did it anyway.

There's a reason the phrase, "kill 'em with kindness" is used often. It's so true!  There is nothing that will throw someone off worse than you going out of your way to be nice to them when they are attacking you. Get creative with it too! Look for ways to surprise them. Wear them down with never giving up on being caring. If nothing else, you will feel good about your actions!

So, I will not apologize for writing about a hoax with true emotions and real warnings about the dangers of drunk driving.  I wasn't being fake. I wasn't seeking attention. (Well, I'm a writer so on some level I'm always seeking attention but...I digress.) I wrote from the heart, as I always do and for that I will have no regrets. Ever.

Thankful today: breathtaking sunrises and even the subtle ones too! I've always been drawn to sunrises, since I'm not a morning person I need the motivation to start out my day right!
My second thanks: my husband. I may repeat this one often b/c truthfully, I am thankful for him everyday. No matter what. I am SO blessed!

Lessons Learned:
*You should be cautious what you believe but don't live with regrets. Ever!
*I can live without coffee. It's been almost a week. Crazy! Crazy! Crazy! :oP
*The smallest kind word has a big impact on my heart. Y'all are too good to me! Much love!!! <3 <3 <3
*I'm never going to be good at daily exercise. It's not even that I don't like it so I'm not quite sure the lack of motivation here.
*Stress can wig you out don't let it drag you down though! Remember: refocus!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Do NOT Drink And Drive!!!

Twitter is an amazing place. Especially if you're a NASCAR fan. We connect. We bond. We laugh together. Today, we cried together.

Last night a fellow Tweeter who went by the handle of @Jennjadedpink got in her car to drive home but never made it. She was hit head on by a drunk driver. She was airlifted to a trauma center and rushed into surgery. Her brother updated her followers on her condition. We all prayed for Jenn, for her family. Sadly, Jenn did not make it through the night. Two hours after the update that she was in surgery her brother tweeted from her account that he had lost his sister.

Sometimes we think we are invincible. This is usually a phase people go through when their a teenager. I can't speak from experience because I skipped that phase but I saw some friends or acquaintances go there. Some people never grow out of that phase. But what all the invincible-thinking people don't consider is there are others they may encounter who most definitely are not possessors of this super-power. If you drive drunk you just might get home in one piece. Or you might crash and come away practically unscathed. What about the other guy.

There was a time when I used to keep a bowl of hidden keys for all my friends who came over to party. If you had a drink you had to first relinquish your keys to the bowl. No amount of begging would give you those keys back until the next morning when you were stone cold sober. Period. It's easier to do that when you're young. Now my few friends who come to my house would look at me like I had three heads or something.  I can't dictate what another adult does, but I'm mindful of how much they drink. If it's more than one beer or glass of wine I bug them about whether they're okay to drive.

I adopted a personal policy shortly after my daughter was born. I NEVER get behind the wheel of any vehicle if I've had even one drink. Am I a lightweight who can't drink? By no means, I can hold my own with the best of them. But I refuse to drive if there is even a less than 1% chance I'm not 100% alert in that driver's seat. We have options! For me it's my wonderful husband. We take turns being the designated driver. Buddy up with a friend. Use a taxi. Drink somewhere you can safely walk home from. Just please, I beg you, don't get in that car if you've been drinking.

Thankful for: Today I am thankful for each day I have been blessed with, they are gifts and I hope I've used them well
My second thankful: The outpouring of love that I've seen over the past several hours from total strangers. Like myself. In honor of a beautiful woman whose life was cut short.

Lessons Learned: 
*NASCAR fans are the most loving, supporting, genuine group of people I have ever interacted with.
*You can not tell your loved ones often enough how much they mean to you. You truly don't know when the last time you will see them is.
*Every day must be lived to its fullest potential! Our days are numbered!
*Even driving one time drunk is one too many. 
*There is still a drunk driving problem in this country and it breaks my heart to think how people are so uninformed and/or uncaring of the consequences.

Please pray for the family and friends of Jenn, I can't imgaine their pain right now.

Thankful Thoughts Week Three!

So, are you still with me on giving thanks every day? Did you save your list? Take a look at those wants and needs. Do you still want the same things you did 2 weeks ago? Are your needs different now? 

By the way, how did you do with two things to be thankful for per day? I just about made it until I got distracted and didn't finish this entry last night. I'll post this for Friday and something different for today. :o) The whole idea is to really sit back and put some thought into what you have been blessed with in your life. Take a moment for being thankful. Let the gratefulness wash over you and bring you peace about your life.

I can't make you be thankful, I don't intend that if you're not willing. But if you want to spend each day with a little more peace in your life I hope these few posts about being thankful have helped. If it's something you haven't done in you life, or maybe strayed far from, it can be a long road to peace. Just remember every step you take brings you closer to your goal.

Maybe today you make a new list. Maybe today you remember more than two things you're thankful for. Just go out and live your life to its fullest. Find peace wherever you can. Cling to thankfulness, happiness and your loved ones. They are the real blessings that make you rich!

Thankful today: for every moment I've spent w/ my grandma, and every conversation we have left
My second thankful: prayer. Its power is miraculous!

Lessons Learned:
*The more you talk about tragedy the easier it gets. But that does not mean you forget.
*You are stronger than you know, but sometimes it's not till tragedy strikes that you realize your full potential
*Sunshine and warm temps can do a lot to lift your mood!
*The more you try something that scares you (like singing in front of a 'crowd') the easier it gets!
*People will surprise, good or bad they will always find a way to surprise you