Thursday, September 20, 2012

Liebster Award Winner

So today, my friend Becky at Daye by Daye sent me a message to tell me that she had nominated me for The Liebster Award.  Wow, what an honor.  And then I actually took a look at the award - and had to laugh out loud, quite literally.  After careful consideration, I decided, oh, sure, why not?....

What is the Liebster Award?
The German word Liebster (pronounced LEEB-ster) means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcoming.  The Liebster Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
Rules for receiving this award:
1.  Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2.  Then answer the questions the tagger sent for them, plus create 11 questions for the people they've tagged to answer. (I think you can just answer the same questions as the one before you)
3.  Choose several people and link them in your post.
4.  Notify the people you have tagged.
5.  No tag backs.
And so today, just for fun, I am going to follow the rules and accept this award.  Partly because I need a little inspiration to kick me in the rear and get me writing.  Partly just - well, just because.  :)

So here's my random 11 things:

1.  If you've never really looked at my blog name, it's actually meant to be a little tongue in cheek.  The full address is melivinginexileaz.  Actually stands for "Maine (abbreviation for Maine is ME) living in exile, Arizona."  When I was growing up, there used to be a tshirt/bumper sticker you could pick up in tourist traps in Maine that said something like "born in Maine, living in exile." Thus, my blog name.  Forgive me for its silliness.

2.  I love working with teenagers - even though I have none of my own yet, and even when they drive me crazy.  It was an accidental discovery, helping out a friend right after college with his youth group, then taking over when he had to move suddenly.  And now, 12 years later, my husband and I are still working with teens.

3.  I lived in Chicago for several years, first for college, then a couple years in downtown, then a couple years just past the far south side, where my oldest son was born.  We would love to visit there soon, but saving pennies for that takes time.

4.  I love books.  And music.  And any combination of the two, usually.

5.  I also love motorcycles, preferably Harley Davidson.  I have actually taken lessons from  a friend of mine, and when I ever make the time to do so, I fully plan on getting my motorcycle license.  The Harley, well, there's a Sportster for sale in the local paper for only 3K - in case anyone needs a Christmas wish idea...

6.  I often joke that I am the only girl in a house full of boys - even the dog, cat and fish are guys.  But I've gotten very good at doing boy-stuff in spite of my inherent girliness.

7.  However, I hate camping.  I only go because all the guys like it.  And I'm not super-keen on fishing either.  I really only go hunting because I like to shoot the gun, and I like the meat that I (sometimes) get.

8.  I was born and lived for a few years in Germany.  My dad was in the Army, and we were stationed in Wurzberg, Heidelberg and Karlsrue.  Or at least, I was born in the first, my sisters were born in the second, and we lived in the third.  Regardless, I don't remember much of it, because we moved back to the States when I was 5.

9.  I love, love, love hockey.  Anyone who know me at all would say, "duh" at this point.  I'm obviously a huge fan of my local team (Phoenix Coyotes), though I will cheer for Boston because I grew up with them.  However, I have had this love for hockey pretty much my whole life.  I can remember going to AHL games very early on at the good old Cumberland Civic Center in Portland, ME.  I've now indoctrinated - I mean, passed on that love to - my children as well.  

10.  In spite of my girliness - which often includes pink, sparkles, embroidered details and cutesy shoes - I love to play and watch sports.  Not just hockey (as stated above), but baseball, soccer, and football as well - hmm, guess I need to add Nascar, too.  Basketball and golf I'll admit I could do without.  My boys have been amazed that I can actually play as well, which I've proved when I help them practice, and this last year helped coach their Little League team.

11.  Three years ago, I lost a piece of my heart to a country, or more specifically, a town in another country: Esperanza, Dominican Republic.  I had never been on a mission trip before, and went with several friends to see this place they had worked at for years.  I fell in love.  It is a poor place in resources, but rich in love and friendship and hospitality.  I have been back twice more, am now actively involved in the nonprofit mission organization Partnership for Hope that I took those trips with, and look forward to seeing Esperanza and my friends there again.

Whoof, this award thing is making for a long post!  Well, question time, as required:

1.  What is your greatest fear?  Hmm, I think my greatest fear is not being needed.  I often over-schedule myself (and my kids) because I want to help everyone and do everything, a lot because I think I need to feel needed by others.  *I'm getting better at not over-scheduling, I swear!

2.  Describe yourself in three words: Energetic, cheerful, busy

3.  What is your favorite passage of Scripture (verse or book)? Favorite passage has always been Psalm 91, especially verse 2,  "I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
4.  Name something that is on your bucket list: Going to all those places I've always dreamed of going (and list grows longer all the time).  England, Ireland, Scotland, Paris, Germany, Italy, Spain, Peru, Argentina, Australia (see what I mean?)...
5.  Describe what a perfect day would look like to you:  Now, see, that would depend on the day.  Some days I'd like nothing better than to be at the beach (and I mean ocean!) with a good book, a cup of coffee and a nice breeze.  Other days, probably more often than not, I'd rather skip the book and hang out with friends, especially ones I don't get to see very often.  But keep the coffee!
6.  What is one of your lesser known passions?  I like to make cards. Like, stamping, prettifying with sparkles and ribbons, etc.  Don't get to do it very often anymore though.
7.  Share a brief testimony of how God is working in your life.  Wow.  Well, I think God is telling me right now to just chill out.  Wait, I think that's an ongoing anthem in my meager 35 years.  I'm finally getting it, I hope.  I tend to be way too busy, and get way over-planned and stressed out.  God has really been working on me to recognize what is necessary, what He really wants for me to do, and to not have to do everything just because it's there to be done.
8.  What is your favorite snack? Anything chocolate.  Preferably dark, or with peanut butter.
9.   If you could live anywhere, where would that be? I love living where I do, in Wickenburg, Arizona.  Someday I'd love to live in Esperanza, but I don't know yet if that's where God wants us.  I've loved and hated things about everywhere I've lived, so I know I could be happy almost anywhere.
10.   Name 5 things that make you smile:  My kids, my husband, coffee, warm chocolate chip cookies and random messages from friends.
11.  Why do you write?  I write because I can express things more thoroughly and clearly on paper (or screen), and it helps me process thoughts.  I recently very pleasantly discovered that because God made me with that particular strength, I can use it to meditate on His Word, to reflect back what He is telling me, and so much more than just the silly things I sometimes come up with.
Yikes, I have written tons here!  I think I have a tendency to blather on, sometimes.  :)  It's sad, but I don't have the links for some of my friend's blogs.  However, I know that Jessica Evans would be a good one for this award, so I'll mention her and see if she will join the fun as well.  Hmm, anyone else out there blogging that wants to be nominated?   :) 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vine and the Branches, redux

The following is what happens when you go to a women's retreat and discover that you can meditate on God's Word with the learning strength/intelligence that God created you with.  My strengths are verbal/linguistic and musical/rhythmic, and during a short exercise, we were given a passage of scripture to "meditate" on using our learning strength.  So this is my 7 minute meditation, a poem of sorts that describes what I think the branch may feel like - because, after all, I know what that feels like.  :)

I am connected. 
Green, growing, full of life, energy flowing.  I can feel strength because I am connected.  My power, my life blood flows from my connection to the vine that is firmly rooted in the ground.
My leaves grow as I dwell.  I grow, going through spring, new life, new growth, new breadth and length in my life and existence.
In summer season, I endure, existing on the fluid that I cannot draw up on my own, withstanding in its strength the brutal heat and destruction of the sun.
Autumn comes, and I let go of the things that I hold onto too dearly, knowing that by doing so, He will bring great things.
Winter seems bleak and bare, darkness and no life – but do not despair, for in due season, the promise of life, rebirth and growth, will come forth from where it hides in the cold and quiet. 
It will burst out again as if in song, showing His handiwork as I go through the pain of flowering, growing, stretching a little more toward the perfect shape and form the Vine has already decided I should be, and provided the sustenance for.