Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Jimmy Carter Used to Be President?

The first time I could vote in a presidential election was in November of 1980. I voted (yes I'll tell) for Jimmy Carter's re-election, he lost. I confess that most of my devotion to him was due to the fact that he was a Southerner (I am of Southern roots with a Mississippi born father and a Kentucky born mother) and I thought Ronald Reagan was a snob, well, maybe it was Nancy Reagan I felt that way about most. I had been raised a Democrat with the "working class" and like most Democrats of the time thought all Republicans were snobs and out to hurt the "little people" (if you happen to still believe that please don't jump on a band wagon here because I no longer put people in such narrow boxes). I was deeply disappointed when President Carter lost, but profoundly impressed with the grace in which he took it.

Looking back I'm not sure he was a very good president. There were a number of things that were somewhat out of his control, and other things that he probably just didn't make great decisions over. All in all, in my way of thinking, I think he was just too nice.

But, when I think of someone who has used his fame for good, continually puts others interests ahead of his own, and truly works toward making his life count for more than a paycheck - Jimmy Carter comes to mind. I can think of no other president, in my life time at least, who has done so much with his life. He has not been content to sit around, focus on making money with speaking engagements, or cash in on his fame for personal gain.

Jimmy Carter is the only president I know who's life after being president overshadows having been President of the United States. Being the President was not a destination for him, only a stepping stone to true greatness.

I look to him as a shining example of never stopping. Never thinking I'm done when I reach a certain level of achievement, or stepping back and saying I'm too old to do my part. He has been true to his faith, true to his beliefs, and true to himself.

The news that he has cancer, and apparently pretty aggressively, along with his advanced years, means that someday in the somewhat near future we will probably be mourning his death. There will be hours of reflection when that happens, not only in the United States but around the world. I don't want to wait until then to say thank you.

Thank you President Jimmy Carter for being a example of living life to the fullest, and living it for others.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Simply Tuesday
"I can't believe I forgot my phone at home, now I have no camera to take pictures tonight. That's just great," I think as I rummage through my purse before getting out of the car. Walking up to the store I look through the windows before getting to the entrance. "Shoot, she's doing a reading, great, now I'm going to walk in and disturb everything. I didn't know that she'd be doing that." (Obviously I've never gone to a book signing, though when I think of it every movie, tv show, and book with this scene includes a reading by the author, duh!) As I get through the second set of doors I hear everyone clap as she finishes her reading. "Just mingle or get in line to get your book(s) signed" she graciously instructs as she moves behind the table with her pen in hand. I slip along the side where a few other late comers have stood behind the Nook counter at our local Barnes and Noble. People stand and chatter and I move toward the back of the space to find a place at the end of the line. "Hi Sheila," says her husband with a great big smile. I am vaguely surprised he knows my name, since it is my middle child he knows through youth ministry. But then I remember the value of social media, we're "friends" and "followers" of each other on a number sites. He asks after my son who has gone back to college and we have a brief dialogue about he and a couple of other interests we have in common. I make my way to the back of the line. I see a few people I recognize or know on some kind of level, but I feel conspicuously alone. As the line slowly but steadily moves, I find myself in conversation with the lady behind me, who has a box of new books she has ordered to get signed. We pleasantly discover we attend the same church and that we know someone common (my mother-in-law). I explain I only have my advanced reader copy to get signed, the copies I ordered from Amazon haven't come in yet due to another item in the order being back-ordered until the first of September. I know the author's assistant, who gives me a hug when I get near the front. I look at the young lady two people in front of me. She has on gold and white tennis shoes. Then I remember, I was supposed to wear something gold. I look down - nothing. Even my jewelry today (other than my wedding rings) is silver. Then, it's my turn. I haven't met Emily before. I follow her blog, her newsletter, and all her social media. I even got selected through a random drawing to be part of an advance reader group of her new book. I've seen her at a women's conference, and sat near her at a dinner one time, But she doesn't know me.

She smiles at me expectantly as I hand her the book, "Sheila" I say as I hand it to her. She sees the green sticker on front. "Sheila? What's your last name?" Just as I start to answer she says "Scribbles? I only know one Sheila and that's SheilaScribbles!" "That's me," I say just as her assistant confirms it. "I love that!" she exclaims (or some such positive reaction). I beam as I take the autographed book and move on for the next person to take my place.

She knew me. Maybe she didn't know my face, or "know" me, but she knew me. The power of that was a little bit stunning. It was a small thing for her. It was a huge thing for me.

I've been consciously working to embrace "smallness" (the theme of Emily's new book). To live "on the bench" and trying not to "build cities".  I have often lived on the teeter totter of being content in the background yet longing for the spotlight.

Emily has reminded me that my purpose in life is not to seek the spotlight or the background, simply to embrace what is in front of me. As a person of faith, let God bring what He will.  And if I do that, whatever happens, will be just right. And sometimes, someone famous knows your name.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School 2015

As of today, all my children are back in school. My eldest moved back to campus this past weekend and started the final year of his college education at Guilford College. A week ago my middle child started his second year of college at NC State University, and today my youngest started her sophomore year of high school. What does this mean to me (aside from a quieter house, a smaller grocery bill, and more structure)?  It means my "new year" has begun. I never look at January 1st as the beginning of my year. For the past 16 years it has been the end of August/first of September - ever since I've had kids in school. I look forward to this as my new beginning, fresh start.

This year my "new beginning" finds me in a new position at work, which I love. I'm in a bit of a learning curve as I have more responsibilities and my own office. Since I work in education, this time of year is a new beginning at work also. We are moving into our second busiest time of year (spring being number one). Along with this we've done some restructuring, gotten a new VP over our department, and are making changes in procedures - so everyone has something new to learn.

Why am I telling you this? Because I needed to write, and this is what's on my plate at the moment, so this is what I can write about. With this "new start", in spite of the challenges at work, I want to incorporate writing on a regular basis. I've pretty much taken the summer off, now it's time to get back into the swing of things!

Happy Monday and Happy New Year to me!
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