Monday, December 20, 2010

Tis the Season to LIVE

So, I am finally back, and considering I abandoned my poor blog for a while, I felt as if she needed a slight make-over. I am finally starting to understand how to find backgrounds after six months. This is where you clap for me, or let's take it Legally Blonde style and SNAP for me. Thank you. Yet, this new style makes my posts more skinny which also causes them to look as long as the Nile, so if you read these all the way through- you are a champ. I appreciate you.

Back to the point, I have finished my THIRD semester of college, survived finals, started Christmas Break, came home for a whopping two days, and then headed off to the most "magical place on Earth" for a week with the family. It was an absolute blast, and I will definitely add pictures and fun stories from our trip on the next blog. Although this post will deal with Disney World as well, I am going to steer away from Tower of Terror and Splash Mountain in the middle of December (oh yeah, you read that correctly) and share part of the "magic" I learned in the midst of my time with Mickey.

The second night we were in Disney, we were sitting at dinner, when I heard the all too familiar "Happy Birthday to You." Naturally, I looked up from my food to find the celebrated individual and to observe the smiles, laughter, and excitement of the special occasion. My eyes fell upon a baby, and I overheard it was her "first birthday." I was in awe of this precious baby who was at the start of her journey, and I got to experience one of the landmarks. Now, let's fast-forward to the end of my trip. I was boarding the last plane of the night, and as I was searching for my seat, a man dressed from head to toe in his Marine attire was sitting in the row behind me. I smiled at him as I took my seat, and our brief interaction ended. Yet, seconds after I sat down, the pilot announced that we had the honor of carrying the remains of a passing soldier and his escort was riding with us as well. The man behind me was the passing soldier's escort. My heart froze as I grasped the significance of this event. We were carrying an unknown soldier's body to his family. I couldn't help but wonder what his story was, what was his name, where did he live, and could he simply be my age? At the beginning of the week, I had encountered the beginning of a life, and at the end of my week, I encountered the conclusion of a short life.

So where's the magic? The magic is the knowledge that life is short. As I sat on the airplane, I wanted to go find that baby girl and hold her little hand and tell her that life is short, so appreciate every moment. Don't let one minute pass you by. Yet, the even bigger piece of magic, is the GIFT of life. This was the magic I received during my trip to Disney World. For one week, I lived the life. What does this mean? I spent an entire week with the three closest people in my life and the people I love. I made a new friend out of a stranger and shared part of my life with them. I ate two desserts a day without worrying if the jeans would fit the next morning. I acted like a five-year-old and laughed and laughed as I spun around in a tea-cup with my mother. I rode a carousel. I saw fireworks over water. I prayed with my family. I saw soldiers traveling home to their families after they served our country. I did a 195-free-fall ride with my dad. I rode Splash Mountain in the middle of December. I reminisced on the past and wondered about the future. I embraced the gift of life.

Therefore, it is not "tis the season to be jolly," but it is "tis the season to LIVE." Give yourself a Christmas present, and give yourself the gift of life. Live life, and live it abundantly. When I walked into church on Sunday morning, I found it ironic that the sermon was on the "abundant life" after my encounters the previous week. The preacher shared this verse.

"I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10.

Now, I had a blast with my family in Disney World, and I lived with enthusiasm. Yet, I can live with enthusiam because I have been blessed with the "abundant life." I have been loved and touched by a God who offers this abundance. Therefore, this Christmas season, I hope it is your season to live. If you have the gift of the abundant life, I hope you cherish that this holiday season and share it with others. If you have not opened the gift of the abundant life yet, I hope that it's the first present you tear open this Christmas. It's waiting on you.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

When You Wish Upon a Star, Your Dreams Come True

Tell me, TELL ME you are picturing JIMINY CRICKET in your head right now! Ahh. You probably sang the song in your mind too and then smiled because Walt Disney and his marvelous creations just have that effect on humans. I wrote this as the title because I WILL BE in the Magical World of Disney where "dreams come true" in exactly ONE WEEK. Eeek. I cannot wait. Finals will be completed. Stress will cease, and I will get to spend a week during "the most wonderful time of the year" with the three most special people in my life in a magical place that holds so many special memories from my childhood. Does it really get much better than that? I really do not think it does.

However, let me come back down from Cloud Nine and share with you why I also chose this as my title. So, this is finals week. Most students are harbored in an extremely quiet, hidden corner of a library with a pile of books, notes, study guides, and a world's supply of coffee. What is Shelby doing on the Saturday night before finals? Well, I finally did buckle down to type up my psychology notes, but I was jamming out to NSYNC in the process. It literally put me in the best mood, and I couldn't help but smile thinking about how these five boys completely dominated my ten-year-old heart and everyday life. Their poster was on my bedroom door. Their songs were constantly played in my room, belted out in the shower, and pretty much etched into my heart. Not to mention all of the NSYNC paraphenalia I had and still posess. No lie, I have an NSYNC lunchbox, ALL FIVE dolls, an NSYNC video about their tours, a signed picture, every CD they created (even the Bye, Bye, Bye single), and a picture of Lance Bass from when he was little. Yes, as I was sittng in Crosby tonight trying to study for the future, I found myself amazed by the past. I discovered how ridiculously blessed I was, and I discovered that dreams really had come true in my life.

Yes, as you can tell from the previous paragraph, I was slightly obsessed with NSYNC as a child. Well, thank my lucky stars, my mother got a new boss in the MIDST of my obsession. Would you like to know who her boss was? Lance Bass's dad- it would probably help my case to mention that Lance was my absolute favorite. So, I was instantly obsessed with my mother's boss and would spend hours upon hours in his office when I would have to go to my mom's work and ask about Lance, dance for him, just sit and admire the fact this was Lance Bass's father, and probably sang every single NSYNC song for him (like he hadn't heard them before). Well one day, this man made my ten-year-old dreams come true. Thinking about it now, I honestly wish I could go back and watch the look on my ten-year-old face when my mother told me one morning that I got to ride with Lance's parents to the airport to pick him up. I was in shock, I'm sure. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I still remember sitting in shock when the car door opened and my childhood love climbed into the seat beside me. I don't remember much, but I do remember the ONLY thing I could muster to say to him was "I saw in a magazine that you and Shania Twain were dating." Smooth, Shelby- real smooth. I look back now and shake my head and laugh in embarrassment, but at the time, it probably was a huge ordeal in my ten-year-old world. Also, as I look back and smile, I can't help but think a dream came true that day- even if it was just a boy-band obsession.

Yet, dreams are not just for ten-year-olds. Let's fast-forward seven years in Shelby's life. But before we do that, let's take a pit-stop at junior high. I can still picture sitting in a friend's room one night at a slumber party saying that I wanted a boy to throw rocks at my window one day. I am sure this conversation came after we watched A Cinderella Story/Legally Blonde/Sweet Home Alabama where the perfect man does all the right things and completely sweeps the girl helplessly off her feet. I am sure everyone else laughed at my idea- I mean it was so 1950s- but I didn't care. I was determined. It was my 13-year-old dream, and this one remained until high school.

It was Christmas Eve of my Senior year of high school. I had just started dating a boy three weeks before, but for some reason, he had been short in conversation the whole night and told me at 10:30 that he was going to sleep. I remember being so upset that he had been so short with me and was so confused that he was going to sleep so early on Christmas, so I just decided to go to sleep too. I was almost sound asleep when I heard a noise at my window. I figured it was just a branch hitting the window or my imagination, so I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. Yet, just a few seconds later, I heard it again. Then, there was a third. By this time, I was out of my bed walking slowly to the window wondering what it could be. When I reached the window, I lifted up one of the blinds, and I could not believe what was staring back at me. A boy in sweatpants and a sweatshirt and an ear-to-ear familiar smile were outside of my window. I literally froze (all for about half a second). The next thing I knew, I was flinging my bedroom door open, sprinting through the living room and kitchen where my mom was "assisting Santa," trying to make sentences to explain to her why I was awake, why I was sprinting out of the house at close to midnight, and why for once in my life I was incapable of making sentences. I finally gave up, continued to sprint outside of the door, around the side of my house until I reached the side of the house where my window is. I can still see myself in my pajamas, standing in complete and utter shock, being 100% speechless for the first and only time in my life (if you know me, you should know this never, ever happens), and just staring at the boy who had just thrown rocks at my window. I seriously could not even speak. Yet, after he said Merry Christmas and handed me my Christmas present, I finally remembered the words "Thank you" and "Merry Christmas to you too." We talked for a few more minutes, but I honestly could not tell you what the conversation was about. I was the little girl sitting beside Lance Bass all over again with no idea what to say, and yet again, one of my cheesy teenage-dreams had come true. You might currently want to throw a block of cheese at me or say that it's a silly dream, but sit beside your childhood idol or let someone throw rocks at your window on Christmas Eve and then we'll talk.

So what is the point of my post and cheesy stories? I believe Jiminy Cricket's song about "when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true," but I don't believe he's referring to literal stars. No, I think Jiminy meant the "stars" in your own life. The people who care about you unconditionally. The people who shine for you and pour light into your life. The people who want you to cast your wishes upon them and make those wishes come true. You see, dreams of mine (although small) came true due to the "stars" in my life. I had people who cared about me tremendously and wanted to see me experience my "dreams." I had people who poured light into my life. I had "stars" for my wishes. Although I can only picture how excited I was about meeting Lance Bass, I am sure my mother, the biggest "star" in my life, enjoyed my reaction and providing that opportunity just as much if not more. Therefore, my hope and prayer is that you have "stars" in your own lives and that you constantly surround yourself with even more "stars." Surround yourself with the people who care about you the most and want to shine for you and to see you shine as well. Have a "star that you can wish upon" in your life. Furthermore, be a "star" in someone else's life. You never know when you might get the opportunity to make someone else's dream come true. So, always toss your wishes out to your "stars" and even more, be ready to catch the wish of someone else. Because when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Saved by the Anne Frank of Oysters

Freshman year of college. I looked to my right. There was a girl in a sorority that I really liked and would be visiting during Rush just a few weeks later. I gulped, and ten thousand butterflies came rushing into my stomach. I looked to the left, and there was a girl who looked like Eva Mendes. The butterflies began to wave their white flags and play Taps inside Shelby's stomach. I was a goner. Just write "L-o-s-e-r" across my forehead because this was about to be a crash and burn display. I looked back in front of me at the man who was interviewing the three of us and anxiously awaited his question. It, of course, was the infamous, "If you could have dinner/ a conversation with any person in history, who would it be and why?" He excluded Jesus, who was my instant first answer, so now I was stumped. Unfortunately for me, we did not have ample time to discover the perfect answer. We simply went one after another down the line. If I could not mention Jesus, a president was the next answer that popped into my head. Well, obviously it popped into Eva Mendes's mind too because what did she say? Thomas Jefferson. I didn't hear her reasoning because I went into panic mode- mad at the girl for taking my answer and thinking Eva just needed to go back to Hollywood and wondering what in the WORLD I was going to say. She ended her probably perfect answer, and then all eyes went on me.
I took a deep breath, and then something along the lines of this came out at a nervous-Speedy Gonzales rate. "I would talk to Anne Frank. She was only a teenager, yet she had such a tremendous impact on the world. Even when she was facing a concentration camp and being persecuted, she said that, "Despite everything, I believe people are good at heart." I would like to talk to someone who was capable of having a perspective like that even in the midst of struggles."
When I finished, I think I looked to the ceiling in awe at the great, great beams of celestial light and wisdom beaming down on me and mouthed the words, "Thank you." On a serious note, I honestly don't have any idea where that answer came from, but I was definitely Saved by the Anne Frank.
I think that in life sometimes I took the Anne Frank concept a little too much to heart. I mean a teacher told me once that she knew I was going to be just like her. I was puzzled by her statement and asked what she meant. She proceeded to tell me that on her wedding day, right before she walked down the aisle, her mother told her that they did not have to go through with the service. They could cancel it all right now. She did not have to do this. Apparently, she was marrying a man with a "bad boy edge," and my teacher thought I was going to wind up in her shoes. Comforting, huh? I suppose in high school, I was drawn to the boys that had a little rougher edge. I will justify myself by saying that Nicholas Sparks and A Walk to Remember warped my mind, and I expected my own "Shane West" to leave his wild days behind and build me a telescope. Once again, this is a joke.
Although I would hate to be the bride who is marrying someone that my own mother is concerned about, I feel as if we have to take Anne's advice and apply it to our lives. We have to set everything else aside and look at the heart. More importantly, we have to believe that there is good in everyone and that no one is hopeless.
After all, a pearl does lie beneath the ugly, ordinary, and at-first-glance useless oyster shells.
In life, we are surrounded by oysters. Heck, you and I both are oysters in a sense. We all can be ugly and hurtful at times. We can all feel useless and be treated like we are by others. We can be written off as ordinary. We sometimes forget that we have the potential to bear something beautiful- to bear a pearl. So to all of you reading this, if you are feeling more on the oyster side and feeling ordinary, know that you are EXTRAORDINARY and have the potential to foster a priceless pearl. Likewise, we must take this approach as we observe others. I can only imagine what our world would be like if everyone had Anne Frank's perspective and if we looked past the oyster and saw the pearl. Wouldn't it be magical? We have to set aside stereotypes. We have to set aside barriers. We have to set aside comfort zones and judgment. We have to set aside the oyster shells.
So the next time you go to judge someone or write them off as an oyster, think again. Who knows, there could be a pearl lingering beneath their surface. Even better, it could be a pearl that was only meant for you to find. The next time you begin to see the oyster, I hope you are Saved by the Anne Frank of Oysters. After all, He saw past the depths of your oyster shells and saw the pearl. He offered you a saving grace. Extend it to others.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Big Mac is Coming to Town"

If you read the title, you probably think that it's a terrible slogan or jingle for McDonald's, but it is actually a phrase that I heard and said repeatedly as a child. I can see myself as an eight-year-old little girl laughing on the phone with my grandfather (or as we lovingly called him Mac Mac) when he would tell me to tell my dad that "Big Mac was coming to town." I can still see the twinkle in his eyes that also resides in my own father's brown eyes. I can still see the sticks of Juicy Fruit coming out of the top of his pocket that I would always reach for or that he would constantly disperse. I can still picture riding beside him and him telling you to "put on the air brakes " as he would multi-task and include the associated sound effects. I can still picture myself in his living room in Evergreen, Alabama, holding his hand as my dad prayed for him and hugging him good-bye for the last time. Yesterday marked the third year since my grandfather's passing, but there's not a day that goes by that my life is not affected by "Big Mac" somehow.

If I could reflect on one aspect of my grandfather's time on Earth, it would have to be his vivacity and zest for life. When "Big Mac came to town," everyone knew. He did not live life quietly. He was either instructing you on "air brakes," or he was "stealing your nose." He was extremely opinionated (I probably got this from him) and would easily tell you what he was thinking. Personally, I feel as if he owned stock in Waffle House, for this was a daily ritual in his life. No matter what arena or "town" my grandfather was in, his voice was heard.
One thing that stands out in my mind the most about my grandfather's funeral was a certain flower arrangement that he received. It was not a distant relative, a co-worker, a family friend, or someone who had been closely connected to my grandfather's or my family's lives. No, this flower arrangement was from the workers of my grandfather's beloved Waffle House. They had been touched by my grandfather's life on a daily basis over the years, and he had meant something to them. This was not a signifcant place for my grandfather where he spent the majority of his time. This was just a meager Waffle House where he got his coffee. It was a pit-stop in his day-to-day life. Yet, even at the pit-stops in my grandfather's life, he made a difference. Like I said, when "Big Mac Came to Town," everyone knew. Even the people at the pit-stops.

I will always cherish the memories that I had with my grandfather and the impact that he had on my life. They are irreplaceable and eternally sweet. Yet, it is almost sweeter to see the impact that my grandfather had on others- especially the people at the "pit-stops." I can only hope that when I leave this Earth and return home one day, that I have touched and impacted my own "Waffle House" and the people who simply provided me with my "cup of coffee" (whatever situation that may be). I hope that I live a life where even coffee breaks provide a place to leave a legacy. Mac Mac, I love you and thank you for living a life where when you came to town, it mattered, and when you came to town, you impacted everybody.

Therefore, I think that we should all live with the motto that "Big Mac is Coming to Town" (fill in your own name). We all need to live a life where when we come to town, everyone knows. We do not need to quietly go throughout life. We need to be heard. We need to make the pit-stops count. We all need to have our own "Waffle Houses." We all need to leave an impact on those we love and hold dear, but we also need to love and impact those who "pour our coffee," those who sit beside us in class, those who we work beside, those who we encounter but do not acknowledge, those who seem so simple yet need so much, those who go unnoticed, those who need to know that WE ARE IN TOWN.

"Therefore, GO and make disciples of all nations."- Matthew 28:19.

To me, this means: GO and let people KNOW YOU ARE IN TOWN. Do not stop until your voice is heard. Reach every part of "town." Even the "pit-stops." Let them know about me and that "I am coming BACK to town."

Do people know when you are "in town?"
Do you impact the pit-stops?
And most importantly, is your voice and life declaring who is ultimately coming back to town?
So, as you travel down the road of life, "put on your air brakes," don't miss the "Waffle Houses," and let people know who's in town.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Things Never Change

You know how people say there should be a theme song for their lives? Well, if there was a concept of a "theme picture" for my life, this would COMPLETELY encompass at least four days of my week. Actually, this picture is my future goal because this man fell correctly (if that's possible, maybe he's a professional goob too and knows how to minimize the pain) and did not nail his head like I have done THREE times now. Yep, you heard me. I just drew one more point on the scoreboard of Shelby's head-games with the floor. If you're keeping score at home it's Shelby's head- 0. Tile floors, brick floors, and bathroom sinks and possible towel rack- 3.
Before we get to the THIRD attack on Shelby's skull, let's get to the serious part. I should at least postpone you laughing at me as long as possible, right? Good, I thought so too. So last Tuesday, I was sitting in class when I got a text from my mom. It told me to call her as soon as I got out of class. Automatically, my stomach went into turmoil mode because my mother never has to tell me to call. I call her at least a THOUSAND times a day to discuss pathetically simple things that I should be beyond capable of handlling at twenty. The ladies at her work laugh at the amount of times that I call- it really is absurd. Back to the point, I was a nervous wreck. When I got out of class and called and asked my mother what was going on, she just casually says that her and my dad were at the hospital since three that morning. I know she said it this way to comfort me, but my goodness mother you weren't taking a stroll through the park to "One Fine Day!" (I am much more dramatic than my mother). She proceeded to tell me that they were at the hospital because my dad had woken up in the middle of the night with chest pains. They were running tests to make sure it wasn't his heart. She kept going, but I was already in another world of whirlwind.
I was in disbellief, and to be flat-out honest,I was a little angry. I thought to myself, "God, have you not seen my past month? Did you forget that I have already had my fair share of rain lately? Sure, I made it through the two concussions, the end of a two-year relationship, and then losing Mr. Miller, but THIS IS MY DAD. I can't handle this one. I made it through the others, don't let this happew now too. It is not fair." I was being selfish, and I was Peter who was hesitant and scared of sinking through the waters instead of listening to the One who was and is trying to teach me how to walk.
Thankfully, my dad's problem was not his heart, and my selfish desires were answered. Yet, God still had a lesson for me the next day. Wednesday, I was so excited because Allison, one of my best friends from high school, and Lindsey were staying with me. This sent me on a mission to find an air mattress that I could sleep on, so I took it upon myself to skip/run down the halls as I was searching. Well, unfortunately for me, my sweet neighbors didn't alert clumsy me that they had sprayed Raid in their doorway. Raid on a floor+Shelby running= a reaction that I am sure you can easily predict. Yes, as I ran into their room, I slipped on the Raid, and I successfully hit my head on the tile floors of Crosby.As I laid in the middle of my friends' door, I quickly pictured the male nurse with his female-function questions, and I quickly stood up and told everyone I was fine. No hospitals for me. But where was my sweet best friend?
I could hear her snorting and laughing from my room. If you know Allison, you appreciate this situation tenfolds more because when Allison laughs she has, well she has some issues. Yep, as my newer friends asked if I was ok, my old friend was sprawled out on my dorm-room floor( hadn't even moved to see if I was alive) rolling in laughter. Maidee Parker, my other friend, was standing in the hall between the two of us, shaking her head, not able to choose which one of us was more idiotic as she always had in high school with every other embarrassing situation we put her through. Although I had just humiliated myself for the 394985985 time in my life, I couldn't help but smile because some things never change. No matter how old we got, no matter how many miles we were apart, no matter what university we went to, no matter WHAT, I was still the clumsy girl that fell while Allison was the one who laughed hysterically and had her issues while Maidee Parker would run and hide or stand in the middle of us and do nothing but shake her head. In the midst of our crazy lives, we were still the same. Nothing had changed.
I believe that if I had listened a little closer to my other Friend the day before, He would have told me the same thing. He would have said, "Hey, I know it's been crazy the past month. I know you think I haven't been listening or haven't noticed. I know you're scared. I know you're tired, but why are you questioning me? I haven't gone anywhere. You're still the one who has to learn, and I am still the one who has to teach. You're still the one who doubts and fears the waves, and I am still the one reaching out my hand. You're still the clay, and I am still molding. You're still the one who sometimes gets off track, and I am still the one who will be here waiting every time. I will never forsake you or leave you. I love you."
Basically, He was saying, "Some Things Never Change."
Although it is comforting to know that my friends and I are still the same retarded people and nothing has changed, at the end of the day, it's a thousand times better to know that there is a God who loves you beyond reason, will never leave you, and will never quit reaching out His hand to you in the midst of storms. So as you go throughout your week and approach Thanksgiving, be thankful that "some things never change."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Hand

"I thank my God everytime I remember you."-Phil. 1:3
When my sister was in college, I always heard about Mr. Miller, the man at the Veteran's Home she went to play dominos with each week. Yet, soon, Megan was graduating, and it was my turn to venture off to college which meant I inherited domino days with Mr. Miller. I was only blessed with one short year with Mr. Miller, but the silly man completely stole my heart. I still remember my sister warning me at Christmas, that when I left for the break, he would most likely cry. Well last year, before he could even shed one tear, I was sobbing my eyes out. I never knew you could become so attached to someone in just a few months, but it happened. He was no longer Megan's Mr. Miller. He was MY silly man and a major highlight of my week. Mr. Miller was a gift from God that I did not deserve, and I am so thankful for the past year I got to share with him. Today, my sweet gift and friend returned home, but a part of Mr. Miller will always be with me. So, Mr. Miller, this post is for you. I "love you more than you know."
For the past five days, I have sat by my sweet friend's hospital bed and watched him fight for his life. I have cried. I have laughed. I have prayed. I have smiled. I have even growled at the man (reference to previous post). Yet, most of all, I held Mr. Miller's hand. Whenever you were near Mr. Miller, he always stretched out his hand for you to hold. It has always been that way, and this week was no different. So with tears in my eyes yesterday, I watched as Mr. Miller stretched his shaking hand out for me to hold. Even when he was weak and near the end of his battle, he still stretched out his hand for me to hold.
I held his hand. I held the hand that taught me to play dominos. I held the hand that always waved goodbye as I drove away from the nursing home. I held the hand that gave the most uplifting and sincere hugs a person can receive. I held the hand that had held my sister's hands at one time. I held the hand that always poked me when he told a joke. I held the hand that once selflessly and courageously fought in a war way before my time. I held the hand that proposed to his wife of over fifty years after he had only known her two months. I held the hand that had witnessed 83 years of life and impact. I held the hand that was always waiting for me when I got to the Veteran's Home every week. I held the hand that taught me how to love.
Because in the end, that is what Mr. Miller was- he was a bold and brilliant example of love. Mr. Miller loved with everything he had. He gave you his heart and asked for nothing in return, but you couldn't help but lose yours to him along the way. You did not leave Mr. Miller without saying "I love you," and no phone conversation was complete unless he told you a thousand times. When you visit Mr. Miller, you are told how sweet you are, how pretty you are, how much you mean to him. He lays it all out there on the table for you and beats you mercilessly at dominos at the same time. Mr. Miller constantly told me that "83 and 19 weren't that far apart" and always asked me what was my ring size? He had the biggest sparkle in his eyes when he saw you, and his smile instantly brightened your day. You were his sole priority and attention the entire time you were with him. I can still the twinkle in his eyes, and I can still hear the way he would always say "Bye doll."
Yesterday, I held Mr. Miller's hand for the last time. Yet, this time, the twinkle was gone, and I had to fight to pull out that beautiful smile. Yet, with time, I got that beautiful smile out of him. Right before I left, I looked my sweet, silly man in the eyes and told him I loved him. With all the strength he had, Mr. Miller uttered out "Love you so much. Love you more than you know." Then, as tears began to fill my eyes, I watched as he lifted my hand to his mouth and tried to kiss it one last time. I was the last person that Mr. Miller talked to. Even when he was dying, Mr. Miller loved with all that he had. I wish that I could live half the life that Mr. Miller did, and I only hope that even when I am dying, I can love with all that I have. Mr. Miller told me last week that he did not know what he had done to deserve someone like me, but Mr. Miller, you are completely and totally wrong. I have no idea why God thought I deserved such a beautiful gift, but I am eternally grateful that I received a year with you.
So Mr. Miller, thank you for the hand that taught me how to love. Thank you for loving until your literal last moments here on Earth. Thank you for a smile that constantly made my days so much brighter and that will be permanently etched into my heart. Thank you for the beautiful life you lived that impacted so many. When the right day comes, please help the right guy figure out the ring size like you always wanted, and I only hope he has half the capacity of love that you did. Know my life will forever be changed because of your presence and that a part of you will always be in my heart. Know that I cannot wait to reach those gates and see your smiling face. (I know you'll be there waiting). Know I am ringing a wretched, wretched cowbell for you whenever I find one. Know that our picture is now beside my bed like it was yours.
Most importantly, know that I "love you more than you'll ever know."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Undone Puzzles and Stop Signs

Lucy moment for you before I begin my serious train. Yet, this Lucy moment has no relation to the rest of the post, but it's oh so good not to share. For those of you who don't know, I work at my school's radio (I tried out on a complete whim this semester and to my complete shock I made it). Whoever thought giving Shelby two hours a week on a live radio station to say whatever I wanted without supervision was not the wisest person on the block :). Obviously, I have entirely too much fun with it. So tonight, I was working and was reading that it was Matthew McConaughey's (one of God's most beautiful gifts to Earth) birthday, and I was going to share this with my listeners. It was talking about Matthew McConaughey's accomplishments along with his 1993 arrest for "playing the bongos nude and in the possession of cannabis." My first thought was "How stupid are the people who write these news clips? They obviously meant to say cannibals." Of course this made sense to me- bongos, nude people, and cannibals. It sounded like he was in an exotic rain forest country or something. So I confidently got on air and told a 40-mile radius that Matthew McConaughey was arrested for nudity while playing the bongos and in the possession of cannibals. Cannibals. I was proud of my interesting news clip and turned around to see my boss and another grad student (both are boys) staring at me with mischievous yet confused looks on their faces. I asked what was wrong, and they, in return, asked if the sheet said cannabis? I said yes but that clearly was a mistake and meant to say cannibals. They then proceeded to tell me that cannabis was another word for weed. So instead of having weed, I told the radio world that Matthew was with cannibals. Aren't I just the yellow in the crayon box? I fully blame my mother and my school district for not properly educating me on drugs. I mean Shelby does mean "sheltered village" for a reason. (No lie- that's the meaning of my name). I feel like a lot of you are probably laughing right now- and at my expense- I guess I can swallow that horsepill.
So, that Lucy moment took a lot more space than I thought so my serious train might just have to be a caboose instead of the Polar Express (Christmas reference woo hoo!). Back to the picture. I feel like this has been my life lately. I am constantly on the go, constantly trying to run my own life, constantly asking questions like WHY and HOW, constantly trying to stop things from happening, constantly analyzing every teensy-weensy situation, constantly praying for change and for things to go my way, CONSTANTLY TRYING TO PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER WHEN ALL I CAN SEE IS ONE PIECE. And God throughout all of it, is screaming
STOP! The light is RED. You have to STOP.
Stop trying to run your own life because I am waiting to guide you. Stop asking questions because I am going to explain it all one day. Stop trying to prevent things from happening because I have a plan and a good plan at that. Definitely stop analyzing because you will never figure it all out. STOP TRYING TO PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER WHEN ALL YOU CAN SEE IS ONE PIECE BECAUSE I AM THE ONE WHO LAID IT ALL OUT AND CAN SEE THE ENTIRE THING. I know you don't understand your current piece, but the whole picture would not be complete without it. I gave you all the right pieces. I don't make mistakes.
This is my life right now. Do I have it all together? Heck no. Have I been pedal-to-the-metal trying to run my own life. Sure have. Yet, lately, I have witnessed the extremely challenging yet ultimately beautiful message of God saying,
"Be still, and know that I am God." -Psalms 46:10
So, as hard as it might be, I am leaving the puzzle undone, and I am learning how to stop.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The In-Between of Two Halloweens.

This is my fall picture for the one or two devoted readers I have out there in Blog World. Yet, if I am completely honest, this picture is for me. Sorry, but hey, honesty is the best policy right? You know the scene in Mary Poppins where they can jump into the chalk drawings and make it a reality? Well, I wish I could jump into this picture, climb the fence, sit on the rail, feel the breeze against my face, and just think. It seems picturesque (pun intended).
So, here we are at another Halloween. I personally love Halloween and always have. Yet, once again, if I am completely honest, the past two Halloweens have been more of an emotional roller-coaster for me. I posted a few weeks ago about everything happening for a reason and there being a time and season for everything. Well the In-Between of Two Halloweens has made me realize this even more.
Last Halloween, I was at home for the weekend and thought I would get to spend my night passing out candy to all of the adorable trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, and I was SO excited about this. (I am a grandmother trapped in a 19-year-old body I know, I know.) Yet, soon after the first few trick-or-treaters, my dad got a call from the hospital about my grandmother, and the doctors told them they needed to come as soon as possible. I tried not to worry, but is this ever a comforting call? So, I kept passing out candy and smiling as my mom and dad left, but not much time had passed before they were calling my sister and me and telling us we needed to come too. I was a nervous wreck the entire way to the hospital and was not ready for what I would come face-to-face with when I got there. I can still picture waiting outside the room and my heart in complete turmoil. I can still picture walking into the room, and tears instantly filling my eyes. My goofy grandmother, who played soccer with me in the halls as a kid, helped me successfully knock a few picture frames off the wall, and caused me to bend over laughing when all 4'11" would come sprinting at me trying to kick the ball and completely miss, now looked so lifeless in the hospital bed. I tried to hold her hand, but that sent the faucets full blast. I had to leave the room and spent the rest of the night crying on my best friend's shoulder in the waiting room. I was weak. It was a time of weakness.
Now, let's fast-forward to today, this Halloween. Once again, I was visiting someone who had my heart in his hands. Last Monday, I walked into Mr. Miller's hospital room, and yet again, the tears came rushing forward. The once bright-eyed 83-year-old man that beat me mercilessly in dominoes every single week, constantly joked about finding out my ring size, and told me that 83 and 19 weren't that far apart, looked so lifeless and tired. But this time was different. I didn't have my family with me. I didn't have my best friend's shoulder, and unlike my grandmother, Mr. Miller was staring back at me watching me. I knew I couldn't cry because that would just upset him even more. As I tried to look away and wipe a mischievous tear, I saw another plaque on the hospital wall (if you read my post about the other hospital visit you know what I am referring to). Once again, this plaque perfectly applied to my current situation:
"Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might."- Ephesians 6:10
My heart stopped again. I wanted to cry harder, but of course this was not an option. I wanted to say, "Be strong? God I cannot be strong right now. It's impossible." This wasn't an option either. So with His encouragement again, I stopped the tears and held Mr. Miller's hand and was strong when I thought I couldn't be. Today, on Halloween, I went to see him again, and my sweet friend looked so weak again. Again, I felt the tears coming. Be strong. So I sat on Mr. Miller's bed and did the unthinkable- I acted just like my dad. I took that 83-year-old hand in mine and made him look me in the eyes and repeat "I will get better. I want to get better." I did not let him quit saying it until he said it loudly and confidently. Then the Jamie McKenzie moment came tearing through as I told Mr. Miller he had to growl at me. If you read the post about my dad, you understand the growl thing. So, I sat on nursing home bed holding my friend's hand and smiled as he growled at me. I am sure it looked crazy from the outside view, but I was being strong and forcing Mr. Miller to be strong too. It was a time for strength.
Honesty one more time. I am ready for this emotional Halloween to pass and hope next year's Halloween's only concern is how much candy I will consume. Yet, if it's not, I will be ok because I have a God who is constantly sending me reminders and encouragement (even through hospital decor). I will be ok because when I am weak I have family and shoulders to cry on, and when I am strong, I can help others find their own growl as well. Finally, I will be ok because I have learned there is a time and season for everything, and I will be ok thanks to the In-Between of Two Halloweens.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Letter to Me"

So when you read the title, did you start singing Brad Paisley's "Letter to Me" in your head? If so, then you and I are on the same page- congratulations- kidding, but seriously this is my very random inspiration for a blog post. We all have received letters from others and have all written letters to others, but have we written letters to ourselves? If I could send a letter back in time to my six-year-old self, what would I say? What would I want to know before I started the adventure called life? I could ponder on this for days and rewrite the letter a thousand times, but I think this is the nutshell version of what I would say:
To the world's clumsiest girl,
Get ready to fall. Get ready to fall A LOT actually. Don't worry, I am not referring to just embarrassing falls though- although those are endless- be prepared to fall into the most amazing family you could imagine. Get ready to fall into friends that paint your childhood with the most priceless memories. Get ready to fall into a world that you don't understand and that challenges you on a daily basis. Now, I know you're only six, and you still haven't mastered tying your shoes- don't worry that day FINALLY comes- but listen up there's a lot to remember. On your first day of first grade, don't tell your really sweet teacher that you would have rather had Mrs. Beeman for a teacher because you don't know it yet, but this teacher will introduce you to writing and will encourage you to continously do it which you will still love fifteen years later. When you're in third grade and you really like the boy on the playground, don't tell him "you play ball like a girl." He won't really like that too much. In sixth grade, just don't get up to do the mock cheerleading try-out. Your round-off is just not ready for its debut quite yet, and your face becomes acquainted with the gym mat fairly well. When you're thirteen and you think that boy placed the stars in the sky, I promise he didn't and avoid him. It will save you from crashing into a locker door, falling on the floor of your school hall, and papers flying everywhere as your whole school watches. When you're in the 8th grade, don't try to be a germ-freak and kick the toilet flusher with your shoe. You don't need to helplessly watch your shoe swirl around a school toilet and then limp back to the class barefoot and have to explain to your teacher why you are barefoot which she broadcasts to the classroom. When you're fourteen, don't pick up that McDonald's cup. It's not that boy's coke. It's actually a spit-cup, and you feel sick to your stomach for days. When you get your permit, make sure you drive all the way past the median. You don't want to watch your mother scream and see headlights coming straight at you as you pull into oncoming traffic. Miraculously, your parents still let you get your license, but at that first soccer game your Sophomore year, turn your music down. You really won't like the huge dent you dig into your sweet car as you side-swipe a school work-van and not realize it until you see the van wiggle in your rear-view mirror. Don't get hot chocolate at high school soccer games because at one, a friend knocks it out of your hand as you watch it land perfectly on your other friend's scalp. Your junior year, don't complain about going to the concession stands for your friends multiple times in one game. You meet one of the best friends you'll ever have because of this. At your high school graduation, make sure your heels aren't too big because it will fall off as you're leading your class out of the auditorium and roll down the stairs behind you as the entire room burst into laughter as you walk out with one shoe in one hand and diploma in the other. Your freshman year of college, tape your key to your forehead- you'll lose it a million times. Also, hold onto your Mardi Gras date party date a little tighter when he's spinning you around, or you'll find yourself falling flat on your butt on a bar floor in front of everyone. Your Sophomore year, just don't go to your sorority house the night they have Spaghetti at the beginning of October and definitely say heck no to roller skates. You really don't want to talk to a male nurse about female functions do you? Didn't think so. Ok, so I think you're set. The rest I will have to write later, but brace yourself. It's a big world. Get ready to fall into it all.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could send a letter like that to yourself? Prepare yourself for the bumps, the detours, the rainy days, the heartbreaks, the disappoinments, the embarrassment. Make sure you didn't miss the best opportunities of your life, the dances, the smiles, the laughter, the priceless memories. We all know we don't get these letters, but if we could, would we? Yet, if I held this letter in my hands, I think I would crumple it all up. For what would life be if it wasn't for the bumps, the detours, the rainy days, the heartbreaks, the disappoinments, the embarrassment to balance the dances, the smiles, the surprises, the laughter, the priceless memories. Each day of my life has molded me into the person I am today. I wouldn't trade it for anything. So, that's all I would say in my letter.
To the clumsiest girl in the world,
Get ready to fall. You live by standing up after the falls. You live by who catches your falls. You live by perspective when you hit the ground. Yes, get ready, because life is falling.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"You're the Scum Between My Toes"

"I hate your stinking guts. Love, Alfalfa."
You know we all have people we want to write that EXACT letter to. Those people who get so far underneath your skin that they go way beyond the epidermis layer (there was my geeky science reference for the day). But you KNOW that PERSON. The one who has that terrible Grinch-like smirk that completely nauseates you, that person who knows exactly how to push your buttons, that person who is as low as a group of people doing the "How Low can You Go" part of the Cha Cha Slide, that person who you know has horns hidden down there somewhere underneath all their hair, that person you wish you could go Carrie Underwood "carved my name into the side of his four wheel drive" or Gretchen Wilson "Redneck Woman" on them. But you can't. You know you can tell me all day long that there's no one in your life like that, but we both know you're lying. Don't worry, I'll forgive you for that. Moving along, I will admit that I have a few people in life I would absolutely love to hand-deliver, maybe even say to their face, the "scum between my toes" letter. But once again, I know I can't. So I just tell myself I am the bigger, better person. Well God came yanking on my high-horse reigns this past
Have you ever felt like you're being directly preached to? Where you start squirming, feel like the preacher's eyes might burn a hole straight through your body, wish you could have Dorothy's ruby-red slippers and disappear, and the rest of the paranoia experience. Well, I experienced this last Saturday at the Campus Crusades retreat. No, the speaker wasn't looking at me burning me with his eyes, but I was being tapped on the shoulder and heart by someone a LOT bigger who was saying "Hey, Stubborn. Listen up." The speaker was talking about how we needed to pray for our enemies and show compassion to those we could really care less about. I probably giggled internally thinking that I would rather have shots all day long than do that (I am terrified of needles). Then the speaker hit a line drive straight into the heart of Shelby McKenzie. He said,
"Do you not realize if it had not been for God's intervention in your life, you would be just like them?"
I was in shock. SHOCK. Are you kidding me God? I am NOTHING like those people. They are low and heartless and cannot be touched with a 10 foot pole without the risk of infection and are like Scrooge who almost destroys poor Tiny Tim's Christmas. I am SO much better than that. They are like a burlap sack, and I am a brand new Louis Vuitton handbag. That was pretty much the equivalent of what was running through my haughty mind.
So Shelby's pride was sitting on its throne until the guy's thought repeated itself in my mind. "If it had not been for GOD'S INTERVENTION, you would be just like them." Well, I immediately said "THANK YOU GOD for saving me from that wretched and awful destiny." (Yet once again, bad heart and sarcasm). Then, I though of Ephesians 2:8. "For by GRACE you have been saved through faith. And this is NOT BY YOUR OWN DOING. IT IS A GIFT FROM GOD."
Hello reinforcement of dethroning Shelby's pride. We are only good through God, His presence, and the salvation He offers. Like the verse clearly says, it is NOT of our own doing. It was a gift. Therefore, if it had not been for the gift of intervention, we, indeed, would be those people. THAT PERSON. So, the next time you encounter your Grinch-like person, don't send them your Alfalfa letter. Realize instead that if it had not been for the gift of Jesus Christ, we would all be the scum between the toes. Realize you are no different and no better than THAT person. Realize that they need prayer, and although it may take the Jaws of Life for us, we have to show compassion to these people. After all, God showed compassion to the scum between His toes.
Thank you God for loving my stinking guts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Will You Dance with Me?

Boys lined one side of the gym. Girls lined the other side. The Great Wall of China, the Nile River, and the Grand Canyon separated us from one another. We didn't dream of trying to mingle. Oh yes, I am referring to a sixth-grade dance. I was talking to my friends, giggling, in my complete and utter comfort zone when I heard girls whisper and start pointing. Apparently, a boy was bravely making his way across the Great Wall of China, the Nile River, and the Grand Canyon to the girls' side of the room as everyone else watched in horror. I turned around just in time to see that, oh yes, the only boy who is making his way to the girls' side of the room WOULD BE MY DATE. My twelve-year-old heart began to beat wildly as I wished with every inch of my body that I had Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. WHY was he coming over here? Everyone was watching, and of course, he was heading straight towards me. Don't get me wrong, I loved my date. He was a great friend and usually highly intelligent (I suppose he had a brainfart when he decided to walk across the room), but I certainly did not want to be the only boy and girl talking. When he reached me, I am sure my face was the brightest shade of red on the color wheel, and with absolute horror, he said the words "Do you want to dance?"

"DO I WANT TO DANCE?" Was that even a logical question? I was only twelve years old. The only thing I had ever danced around with before was the vaccuum, a broom, or my friends when we made our 1000th Nsync or Backstreet Boys dance routine. Did I want to dance? SURE, let's dance in the middle of the Great Wall of China, the Nile River, and the Grand Canyon while NO ONE else is dancing and EVERYONE is watching. Grrreeaatt idea. That'swhat I should have said. Yet, I couldn't say no after he had voyaged this great, long distance to come ask me, so with the world's population of butterflies residing in my stomach, I weakly said "sure." Yep, that's right folks. SHELBY MCKENZIE, the girl who would two years later fall on the floor at the middle of an eighth grade dance (these were much more lively than 6th grade) trying to bust a move, the girl who tried to do a hitch-kick for a cheerleading dance and literally landed flat on her back trying, and the COLLEGE FRESHMAN whose date party date spun her so fast she fell flat on her bottom on a BAR FLOOR, was the FIRST person to break the ice and dance at the FIRST DANCE. You should be real impressed if you haven't caught on yet.

So, as everyone else watched, my date and I made our way to the center of the room. When we got there, I thought the terror was over. I looked up at my date (he was much taller than me unlike the rest of the boys in sixth grade who were shorter than their dates) to see how he intended to start this ceremonial dance, and then these words came,

"Shelby, I DO NOT KNOW how to dance."

YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DANCE? I was enraged. This was an almost as tragic as Nsync splitting up- I wish I could disappear straight through this floor right now-why in the WORLD would you ask me to dance with you and be the only person out here if you have no idea how to dance- ASHTON KUTCHER WHERE ARE YOU, I WILL GLADLY SAY I AM BEING PUNK'D-situation. Once again, these were the thoughts I had running through my head, but once again, I couldn't have this breakdown in front of the entire sixth grade. So I took a deep breath and said, "just put your hands here, and slowly move back and forth." So right there, in the center of the room, my date and I started the first dance, and of course, we were at complete arm's length apart and quite possibly could have just been touching each other with our fingertips. Thankfully, some of my date's friends follwed suit soon after we began, and others started dancing, and at the end of the night, I do believe it was a success. If you are laughing right now, you are welcome for the Lucy moment. I'd love to share my painfully humiliating experiences with you again just to make your day a little brighter.

So, what's my lesson from this day of the life of Lucy? Although most of you think you have never and will never experience the situation I just described, I promise you at some point in your life you will. No, you won't be twelve-years-old, and a boy won't be gliding across the room to ask you to dance. However, when you're in the middle of your comfort zone, God is going to come gliding across the room, and He is going to ask you to dance. You, like me, are going to panic and wonder if he's really serious. You can't be the first one to step away from the comfort zone. You're only "twelve-years-old." (Fill in with your own personal justification) You're not capable of doing what He's asking. What will everyone else think and say? Please just ask someone else. But, He IS going to ask you, and most likely, if you say no, He's going to ask again. Who knows, maybe He's asking you because he knows others are watching, and He knows people will start dancing if you do. He also may be asking you to dance so you can teach other people how to dance. The point is, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and go to the center of the room with God when He asks you to dance.

Secondly, just as my date made his way across the Great Wall of China, the Nile River, and the Grand Canyon to ask me to dance, God voyages across even longer distances to reach you. The segregation of the room did not stop my date from coming to ask me to dance. Likewise, no separation is going to stop God from seeking you. I don't think that registers with us sometimes. God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, is WILLING and DESIRES to voyage past the Great Walls of your heart, of your sins, of your doubts, of your fears, of your resistance to be with you. He voyages past the separation as long as the Nile. He bridges the Grand Canyon through the cross and comes just to meet with you. If you don't feel humbled and honored and completely in awe of that thought, then I don't know what else to say to you. I know I take that for granted all of the time, but when you think about it, it's life-changing (literally).

So, as you go throughout life living in your cozy little comfort zone, be ready for when God comes asking you to dance. I hope you don't miss out because it just might be the best experience of your life. And more importantly than that, live in the peace and love that comes from a God who will travel any distance just to be with you. Just to dance with you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"The Spitting Image of my Father"

"Rosemary's granddaughter, the spitting image of my father.... it's all a part of me, that's who I am."

From a very early age, I could easily tell that I did not resemble my mother, and my older sister was an exact replica. My compassionate, compassionate sister realized this as well and mercilessly tried to convince me that I was adopted from Africa (this is really a post for a completely different day). So that left dear old dad for me to resemble, and although we were both the same skin tone and had the deep brown eyes down pat, I vowed that I was nothing like my dad. I mean, he was just a goober. I was much cooler than that. Oh, how time tells you differently.
Yes, throughout the past few years, I have come to realize that I am 100% Jamie McKenzie's daughter and "the spitting image of my father." Yet, I am not referring to an external spitting image but an internal spitting image. There's three aspects of my father that I encompass to the bone. His extreme goofiness, his tough facade but huge heart, and his passion for prayer.
First of all, I am Jamie McKenzie made-over in the sense of goofiness. For crying out loud, my blog is named after Lucille Ball, and I write about "Lucy Moments." Obviously, I am extremely goofy. I can still see my dad dancing around with his obnoxious Auburn Tiger whenever Auburn would score a touchdown when I was little. I see him picking me up, spinning me around, shaking me upside down, and making me growl at him before a soccer game when I am eight years old. I see him, the man with no millimeter of vocal abilities, singing "Layla" and "Don't Stop Believing" when he would drive around and his obnoxious need to control the radio at all times (which I also inherited). People can often poke fun at him, but he has learned to handle it like a champ. Likewise, I am the girl who dropped a shoe in the school toilet my first day of eighth grade, ran into a locker door staring at the boy who I thought was responsible for hanging the moon when I was thirteen, and face planted outside of a Casting Crowns concert in Jackson my sophomore year of high school. Yes, I am just as goofy as my sweet dad.
Secondly, my dad tries to come across as tough, but he has one of the biggest hearts in the world. He might have a temper at times, but he would give you not only the shirt off his back, but his pants, his shoes, and probably even his socks. I smiled last Christmas when we were playing with a family friend's baby, and just when I get to hold her, my dad comes up behind me, practically takes her from me, slowly twirls around with her, and starts talking to her. My other personal favorite is how he rants and raves about our sweet dog, but when he thinks no one else is watching, he will share his peanut-butter crackers with Ellie and talk to her in the mornings. I try to say I didn't get this from him, but I know that I also can put up a tough front and have a temper at times. I try to be a fighter, yet at core, I am the one who in secret is sharing crackers with a dog. Yet, my dad's tough front has also taught me to fight for the important things in life and to never compromise who I am, so even toughness has its perks.
Yet, I cannot even think of my dad without thinking of prayer. The most fond memory of my
dad, so far, is rather simple but has meant the world to me over the years. Every single morning when my dad would drive me to elementary school, he would make me pray. Now, the toughness I just mentioned would come out as I yelled at him and asked "Why aren't you closing your eyes? I have to close mine." Oh, how smart I was to think my dad could drive with his eyes shut. Yet, every morning, we prayed, and this has been a constant theme with my dad. No meal is started until a prayer has happened. I can never leave to go back to Oxford until he has prayed. Two of these times fondly stand out in my mind and are making me tear up as I write this. The last memory and time that I ever saw my grandfather (my dad's dad) alive, we were about to leave Alabama to come back home. I was halfway out the door, and my dad called me back in to pray with my grandfather. The three of us held hands as my dad and I prayed, and less than a month later, my grandfather was gone. I would not have this beautiful memory if it had not been for my dad's faith. The second was one night last year when my dad came to eat with me. We had already said goodbye, and I was about to drive off when I saw my dad come running and knocking on my window. If you know my dad, you know he does NOT run, so I knew this must be important. I rolled down my window, and he said, "I forgot to pray for you." My heart broke instantly. As soon as I rolled my window up, I burst into tears. From a very early age, my dad taught me the power and passion of prayer, and for that, I will be eternally grateful (literally).
Now that I have recognized I am a spitting image of my earthly father, I should also strive to be a spitting image of my Heavenly father. I mean is that not our goal in life and purpose in life- to be the spitting image of Christ. Now obtaining this completely is impossible, and we fail on a daily basis. Yet, I think my three characterizations of my dad could apply to this as well. We should show the world the "goofy side" of our Heavenly father. So many people have a misperception of Christ as restrictions and rules and boundaries. Yet, God is the one who created laughter. He created smiles. He even has a sense of humor. Trust me. Also, although God is tough and disciplines like a father, he is the heart of humanity. He is love. He gave more than the shirt off his back. He gave his SON. Finally, God wants to teach you the power and passion of prayer. He wants to hear you pray every single day. He wants to talk to you. I love my dad more than anything in the world, and God knew exactly what he was doing when he planned for Jamie McKenzie to be my father. However, I hope that one day when I get to those big gates, I hear my other Father say, "Well done, thank you for being faithful and striving to be a spitting image."
Who will you be a spitting image of?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pearl Bump Fever

When I was in high school, we were rather limited to what we could do for entertainment on the weekends. Yes, there was high school football games, the movie theater, and the INFAMOUS McAlister's parking lot (yikes), but what did you do during the winter or on a less eventful weekend? Well you see, my friends and I were fairly easily amused in high school, and we discovered THE Pearl Bump as we lovingly labeled it. Yes, right before you left Pearl High School to turn back onto Highway 80 there was a HUGE (or at least we thought it was) bump, and when we were bored on the weekends, we would all pile into someone's car and go zooming over the bump. (See my picture above :) ). It was even more fun to take someone who had never been and watch their confused expression and alarm when we all began to reach for handle bars or prepare for the launch and to watch as they would helpless fly a few inches into the air and slam back down into their seat. For all you parents who might be reading this, no one was harmed in the process- I promise. Now obviously, we did not get as much air as the lovely DOH car above, but if you loved the Pearl Bump as much as we did, it felt like you were flying every single time.

Here's my Lucy moment for you: Now as you can probably tell, I was extremely fond and proud of my Pearl Bump. So were all of my other retarded friends. Yet, I think you had to be in close connection with the bump to fully appreciate its value. So one night in high school, I was hanging out with a boy that I had a crush on at the time, and I felt the absolute need to show him the Pearl Bump. I ranted and raved about how WONDERFUL and hilarious it was and how I could NOT wait to see his face. I mean you would have thought I was taking the boy to see the Superbowl or the World Series I was so stinking excited, and clearly, I built his expectations up a little too high. As I raced towards the intersection with a huge smile on my face, I am sure the boy thought I had absolutely lost my mind considering the light was most likely turning yellow or red but that NEVER stopped you at the Pearl Bump. Then, we RAMPED (more like eased) over the bump, I screeched with excitement, and he looked at me like Elmer Fudd would look at a two-headed Bugs Bunny.

"That was it?" "That was the thing you have been so excited about this whole time?"

Yeah, he didn't like the bump too much. I was, of course, devastated. How could you not like THE Pearl Bump? I was in shock. All I wanted was for others to see my excitement and share the same excitement as well.

In life, I feel like we have a lot of Pearl Bumps. We have things that we are so passionate about and so excited about, and all we want is for people to share the excitement of the Pearl Bump with us. Basically, we want everyone to get "Pearl Bump Fever." Yet, no matter how hard we try, some people just don't get the excitement of the "Pearl Bump." They don't see the fun in it. They don't want to miss out on the bigger, more risky bumps. They don't want to be bored. They don't want to be limited to just one bump.

This is the hard part in life- when people don't share your same excitement. When you try so hard to infect others with your excitement and to let them see that the life of "pearl bumps" has so much to offer, yet, they still choose a road with bumps that have a lot more consequences than flying off your seat a few inches. They feel like they will be bored with the pearl bump excitement and trade it off for an excitement that is only temporary and leaves not just the gas tank empty but the soul as well. It's extremely hard to watch people abandon the "pearl bump" for their wrong perception of excitement, but you just have to keep your "pearl bump" light shining.

In life, God is the "pearl bump." Those who find Him and are, like I said earlier, in close connection with Him are the ones that find His irreplaceable value. They are infected with Pearl Bump Fever and just want everyone else to share the same excitement. They screech with elation while others who don't fully understand are the Elmer Fudds. Those who find Him completely and fully know that no other road can ever give you in a lifetime what the Pearl Bump offers in a single day, but to those who don't understand, the Pearl Bump seems restrictive and boring. Yet, when you reach the end of your life and you look back on the roads you traveled, do you want to see a life full of the Pearl Bump and the endless excitement that it offers and the eternal joy that it pours out, or do you want to look back on the risky roads that seemed to offer so much more joy and excitement but that left you with dents in your fender, holes in your tires, and no fuel in your tank? Will you listen to the voice who calls out to you and says "Hey, I love you. Follow me, and you will never want again"? Or will you hear the roar of your own selfish engine that says "You have all the time in the world to figure that out. Make that right choice another day. Come joy-ride with me a little while and worry about that later."
Which road will you choose?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jenny Judy Program

Oh, hermit crabs. Who did not harass their parents endlessly on beach trips with the "please, please, please let me get one- I swear I will take care of it and feed it- which really means I am only six years old and have no idea how to tie my shoes much less provide for an animal-but it's cute and I will pout the entire way home if we don't get this- I won't ever ask Santa for anything again" argument. Well if you didn't, which you're lying and probably bitter because your argument wasn't successful, I did. I was thrilled beyond belief I am sure. So excited that I branded my hermit crab with the name....

.... Jenny Judy Program.
Most six and seven-year-old children pick Sparkles, Princess, Booboo, whatever else is simple and not complicated. I pick Jenny Judy Program, and that was a TRIPLE name. I really don't recall why I chose such an incredulous name, but that's besides the point. The point is, that was such a BIG name for such a SMALL hermit crab to handle. This is probably why she loathed me and decided to pinch my little fingers whenever she got the chance. Once again, besides the point.
My point is that in life, at times, we are ALL Jenny Judy Programs. For those of you who are not very creative-minded or are confused, hang tight, I promise I have an explanation. We all have burdens placed in our lives that are so much bigger than ourselves. It feels like more than we can handle. We all come to crossroads in our lives that are so overwhelming and hold consequences that are so much bigger than our current small steps. We all have big storms in our lives that make us feel like a small ship in the middle of a vast sea that is tossed and tumbled by every single gust of wind. We are a small hermit crab labeled with the enormous name Jenny Judy Program.
Situation sounds pretty hopeless right? Here's one more lesson from J.J.P for you. When you feel small and are overwhelmed by the bigness around you, pull out your pinchers. What does that mean? FIGHT. Be a J.J.P. When you're taken out of your comfort zone and prodded and poked and tossed in a thousand directions, pinch until you find your way back home. Conquer your burden. Find the path most suitable for you. Fight the storm and don't be discouraged by the howls of the wind. Yet, this still isn't enough sometimes is it?
Guess what? You're in luck. Unfortunately for Jenny Judy, she did not have any reinforcement when her pinchers weren't effective enough. However, you and I do. There is a God who takes away every burden. There is a God that guides you through every crossroad. There is a God who calms every storm. He pulls out his pinchers and fights for you when you can't fight any longer. He looks out for the Jenny Judy Programs of the world. (That's you and me!)
I received a sweet reminder of this Tuesday night. I was a Jenny Judy Program with a heavy heart when I walked into Campus Crusades. Yet, the music started, and it was one of my favorite worship songs. I began to feel a little sense of peace. The song ended, and the next song was another song that completely just spoke to my heart. By the third song, God had put a smile on one of His Jenny Judy Programs. I now knew that it didn't matter if my pinchers weren't good enough and if I felt overwhelmed in my J.J.P. world because I had someone a lot bigger than me guiding me and encouraging me. It took away the "Jenny Judy Program load."
So, quit fighting struggles that are bigger than you. Hand over your Jenny Judy Program problems and prepare to be completely encompassed and loved by something else that is a lot bigger than you and your hermit crab world.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Slaps on the Wrist, Blessings,and Reason

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven." -Ecc. 3:11

This is the constant echo of my day today, and it has always been one of my favorite Bible verses. It says to me that everything happens for a reason, and the past five days of my life have proclaimed this verse in so many different ways. So this is what the blog is about today. I hope you can find inspiration from it and accept it in your own lives as well.

1) Friday morning, I was in the shower and started feeling dizzy. Yet, I am stubborn as a mule and HAD to wash out the shampoo and conditioner. So I finished washing my hair, and when I stepped out of the shower, my world was literally SPINNING. I reached for the door, but instead, I fell into the door, knocked our shower rack off of the door, sat on the ground, heard my roommate yelling my name, and I assume I tried to stand up. The next thing I know, I am waking up underneath my sink in my bathroom (I obviously hit my head either on the sink, the towel rack, or the good old tile floor on my way down and completely knocked myself out),wondering how I got there, and looking down to realize I am stark naked and fully exposed to anyone who opened the door. It is never a delightful situation to realize you passed out, to not know how long you have been out, and to be laying NAKED for the whole world to see "Shelby's Anatomy." I wearily crawled to the door, and when I opened it, my roommate was staring in confused concern. I immediately burst into tears because I knew where I was going. I was going back to the hospital.

I cried the entire way. I must confess, I wrote all about giving your messy plate of spaghetti to God, but I was not ready to hand over my plate anymore. I could not practice what I was preaching (or blogging). I was not ready to accept the possibility that something might be wrong. I was not ready to say, "Hey, I trust you with everything. Here is my completely broken and terrified plate." I honestly don't think I have ever been so scared in my entire life. As I sat in complete fright and anger and confusion in the ER for the second time in two days, I looked over at the walls, and this is what I saw hanging on the wall,

"My help cometh from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth."

It was a huge slap on the wrist. God was yelling out to me in the middle of my storm, "Hey, chill out. Have you forgotten who I AM? I am right there with you. I made Heaven and Earth, and you think I can't handle a clumsy girl knocking herself out on a bathroom floor? I got this."

There is a reason that sign was in that emergency room.


There is a reason I was placed in myKindergarten class fourteen years ago. I think over the years, we fabricated the story into an event that most likely didn't happen, but according to our story, I walked up to a little girl in a sailboat dress and asked her to play with me. She responded by slamming my fingers in the toy box and introduced herself as Maidee-Parker. Ever since, Maidee-Parker has been a dominant figure throughout my life. I've always heard God sends you the people you need in life, and He definitely did this through my sweet Kindergarten friend. I know this picture is goofy, but I felt that it represents our friendship. If we have been friends for fourteen years, of course it is common knowlegde we have had bumpy times, but when you are Maidee Parker's friend, she puts you in her box and does not let you go. She protects you and fights for you when you can't find the strength to do it for yourself. For the past five days, Maidee Parker fought for me when I was scared out of my mind. She comforted me; she made me laugh. She cried with me. She stayed in the ER two different times for over five and a half hours with me. She reassured me. She put me in her box. There is a reason Maidee-Parker was put into my life.

3) There is a reason God made love the strongest emotion, and there is a reason He gave love hand-in-hand with free-will. Love was made into the strongest emotion because it conquers everything. It conquers walls. It conquers burden and baggage. It conquers others' opinions and cast judgments. It conquers trial. It conquers fear. It conquers selfishness. It conquers pride. It conquers the heart. But, there's a but. Isn't there always a but? Love comes and conquers at free-will. One must find love on their own terms and has to enlist in its numerous battles on their own desire. They cannot be drafted into battle. It's a choice. God set up this kind of love when He sent His love to conquer the World. In a sense, He held a boomerang in His hand. We were the boomerang. He threw us out into the world and knew that if we discovered His unfailing love, we would come back to Him. Likewise, when you love, you're throwing a boomerang. You don't know if it will come back, but if you have love, you have to set it free no matter what the consequences are. If love is found along the way, it will come back. That's the free will of love- the course it takes.
So what have I learned from two concussions, a fear that I have never experienced before, a friendship that most would envy, a rough weekend, and a God that calls out to me through it all?
That there is definitely a reason for everything.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

When the Spaghetti Comes Rolling Down

Spaghetti. It has ALWAYS, and I mean always been one of my favorite foods. So no doubt about it, when I heard we were having it for dinner at my sorority house last night, I was 110% there. Who knew I would soon find significance and depth in lifeless noodles and meat sauce? I had just finished eating my truckload of food and talking to some friends when out of nowhere I saw and felt NOODLES and MEAT SAUCE rolling down my body.

I am NOT kidding you. A friend had dropped an entire plate of spaghetti down my shirt. Imagine your horrifying scences from a Lizzy McGuire, Boy Meets World, Amanda Bynes, Amelia Bedelia, LUCY RICARDO movie/episode/book and that was me. I think I even pulled a noodle out of my tennis shoe. Yet, these events are everyday life for me, so I laughed it off and said, "IF THIS IS ANY INDICATION OF THE REST OF MY NIGHT, I NEED TO LEAVE NOW."

I should have hit the ground running. Oh, how I LOVE irony.

After dinner, we had practice just like every other Wednesday, Yet, this would be a different practice for good old me. Long story short, my feet came out from underneath me, and I hit a brick floor head-first. The entire room went silent, and when I sat up, people were untying my shoes. It is never a comforting thought when people think you're incapable of taking off your own shoes. I tried to shake it off, but tears were flowing down my face from my throbbing head. I went upstairs and laid on an ice-pack, but soon they told me I needed to go to the doctor as a precaution. So, Maidee and I got in Chelsie's car, and she drove us to the ER. It is a really overwhelming moment in life when you look down on a sheet of paper and see your name with "head injury" beside it.

After the infamous ER wait, me trying to crack corny jokes with the workers, getting taken through two different rooms, discussing my last lady cycle with a male nurse, touching my nose with my fingers multiple times,taking a urine sample that of course the MALE nurse had to come receive, and seeing the actual doctor, I was told that they were going to do a CAT-scan to check for any possible complications like swelling or a brain leak.

Swelling or leaking in the brain. Those are extremely large words to swallow at nineteen.

My mind began to race. I began to think of every possible head injury I had ever heard about, and all I kept thinking was that this could not be the case for me. I was only nineteen. I had to master Accounting 201, convice 900 girls why they should be a DG, successfully park in between two cars without backing up a thousand times, and worry about missing the latest Glee episode. Not a brain leak. I know it seems overdramatic, but I am an honest worry-wart. Then a nurse came in with a wheelchair, and I had to leave my friends behind. As I was slowly pushed towards the next room, anxiety permeated my mind. I had never been to a hospital without my mother there (she did however drive like a bat out of Hades and got there right as I was dismissed), never had to have my head checked, and never heard the possibility of "brain leak." When we arrived in the room, I saw a screen that I had seen a thousand times in Grey's Anatomy and similiar TV shows, but this machine wasn't for a fictional character. It was for me. That's another horse pill to swallow. However, the system was down, and the guy had to leave me for a brief second before the scan began. As I sat in the room alone facing a screen with a diagram of a brain that would soon show my own, I felt like my "spaghetti had come rolling down." My once compact, undisturbed, mixed together, and neat plate-of-spaghetti life had now come rolling down. It was messy. It was chaotic. The noodles were separated from the sauce. I didn't have my friends, I didn't have my strong-as-a-mule mother, and I didn't have the answers either. I only had one place to turn when my spaghetti came rolling down. With tears in my eyes as I was waiting for the man to come back, I started praying out loud. Although I desperately hoped the man did not come back to see me talking out loud to the empty room and think I was much worse off than I was and send me to a mental instituition, I did not care. I was talking to the only One who could reassemble my spaghetti. I was talking to the only One who could comfort me when things were messy. I was talking to the only One who can give hope when your plate comes rolling down.

The CAT-scan results were minor. I had a slight concussion, and the only consequence I received was a very sore head/neck and a week without physical activity. My plate was neatly reassembled. Yet, this would not have been possible without two amazing friends, a God-send of a mother, and faith in One a lot larger than me.

So although my incident is minor compared to a BILLION of other people's unfortunate days, I learned a lesson from it all, and the lesson came from the beginning of my crazy-Lucy day- the spaghetti. When your perfect plate of spaghetti comes unexpectedly rolling down, where will you turn? When no one else around you can help you and you are alone, how will you make sense of the mess? When your noodles and meatballs are scrambled, where will you find strength and peace?

"Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you."- 1 Peter 5:7

Let me rephrase this for you: "Give me, your dropped plate. Give me every slimy noodle and every enormous meatball. Don't worry. I will make your mess into something neat again.I will reassemble your spaghetti."

So, the next time your spaghetti comes rolling down, remember there is always someone waiting to take your mess, give you hope, and reassemble every noodle.

Monday, September 20, 2010


So, today my blog is a little different than usual. On most days, I have a ridiculous, embarrassing story that takes up the majority of my blog. No fears, I still have a Lucy moment, but today I am being selfish with my blog and just pouring out my thoughts lately. However, before I get there- here's Lucy for you. Friday night, I was at the KA House (if you read Capsized, you're probably wondering why I even go back to the house- I am asking myself the same question as I type this) and I was once again, minding my own business. Then, long story short, a French exchange student comes up to me out of nowhere, tells me my jeans are too dark for my shirt, proceeds to tell me that my name is the name of an extremely hot car, grabs my hands, I have panic attack, and finishes his comedy act with "Don't be shy, leave your friends" and starts pulling me away. I quickly excused myself. That was seriously real life. No exaggerations. One day when I get to those gates, I am going to ask God the significance in my little French friend. Now, there's Lucy- now to my blog.
See-Saws. That's what is on my mind lately. Although these are generally associated with chidhood, I feel like they possess such a deeper representation in our lives. Given, we learned the basic foundation of its lesson when we were younger. One person has to come down before the other person can go up, and at times, you're going to be the one on the bottom.

Throughout our lives, we are constantly on a see-saw. We are as high as the clouds without a worry in the world, and suddenly, we are jerked back down so quickly that sometimes we don't land on our feet. Yet, that is the lesson and challenge in life- making the most out of your see-saw experience. Celebrating the highs and learning how to push yourself back off the ground when you're on the bottom. Just as a see-saw is rarely seen being balanced by two people without moving up and down, our lives do not promise perfect balance. No, they are full of high and lows, and life is what happens in between.

Furthermore, friendship is a see-saw. You should surround yourself with people that are willing to see-saw back down to the ground to lift you back up. That is the true definition of friendship. Likewise, you must do this in return. Friendship is constantly lifting the other person higher than yourself and lifting them back to their feet when they're on the bottom. On the other hand, when you're on the bottoom end of the see-saw, you have to rejoice for the friend who's experiencing the high. You have to love even when you're at your lowest and even when it's not you that's experiencing the tip-top of the "see-saw."

Finally, and what I feel like I am dealing with lately, is letting God control the see-saw called life. He doesn't always explain why you're on the bottom, but He does say, "Hey, hold tight, you'll be back on top soon. Trust me, and I can teach you something while you're down here." He doesn't promise that there will be perfect balance and peace in your life, but He does say "I have a plan for your life. Every high and every low- I'm right there with you- and there's a reason for your ups and downs." He doesn't promise that you'll always be on the top, but he does say "See the people who are on the bottom. They need my love. I came down so that you could go up. Therefore, go and lift them up as well."

So, in life, the see-saw is a continous motion. It is your choice who you put on the see-saw with you, if you make the most of the bottom, and who you let guide you even when there's no balance.