Putting on the Ritz

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love Ritz crackers.

Ritz
Ritz Crackers

My first Ritz memories are of eating them with peanut butter. I’m sure my mother made this delicacy for us, but I really recall enjoying peanut butter Ritz with my dad. In fact, when my mom was gone and my father was in charge of feeding the hungry horde of people left at home, you could count on peanut butter and Ritz crackers being on the menu.

My father’s mother enjoyed experimenting with making treats dipped in chocolate. Her kitchen as filled with all sorts of sweets covered in chocolate. But her best creation might have been Ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches which were dipped entirely in chocolate. Those were amazing!

But really, if you ask me, a Ritz cracker can be topped with with nearly anything, and still be tasty:  cream cheese, pimento cheese, spinach and artichoke spread. The list goes on and on.

Because there’s really nothing like a Ritz cracker …

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Yesterday was 4-H Fall Fest.

Fall Fest is a big deal in our house. It’s a fun day of 4-H competitions, including lots of cookery contests. Each year, we start several weeks before Fall Fest looking for great recipes to enter into the various food categories.

This year, Nathan and I found what we thought would be a winner:  Creole Cheesecake Spread.

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Creole Cheesecake (photo from Taste of Home magazine)

 

This wasn’t your typical cheesecake dessert. This was more like a savory dip that was baked in a springform pan. It contained shrimp, crawfish tails, some Cajun seasonings and a whole lot of cream cheese. And all of this was baked on a Ritz cracker crust.

Oh my!

When that baby came out of the oven, Nathan and I immediately spread some on top of a Ritz cracker. It was so amazingly delicious that we thought we had gone to heaven!

Next, Nathan and I packed some of this Creole Cheesecake over to our neighbor, who is about as Cajun as they come and known all over Lafayette for his cooking skills. We asked his opinion. After he took a sample taste, he asked us for the recipe! WooHoo … we felt good about our chances at a blue ribbon.

Would you believe Creole Cheesecake Spread didn’t even place? How is it possible for a Ritz cracker not to win? I am still not sure. However, my entire family enjoyed the rest of the Creole Cheesecake Spread while we watched the Saints games against the Bengals.

I am happy to report that the Saints won … and the Creole Cheesecake was a winner with everyone too!

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This weekend I enjoyed a lot of Ritz crackers. I don’t keep them in my house very often, because if I do, I will eat them one long sleeve after another. I don’t have this problem with chips or cookies, but give me one Ritz and I’ll eat a dozen!

I remembered a story my dad used to tell quite often about his days in Vietnam. Apparently, after he had been in Vietnam for quite some time, he went to the PX and discovered they had just received a shipment of new items to sell in the store. Among the new merchandise, my dad found a large tin of Ritz crackers.

Ritz Cracker Tin
1970’s vintage Ritz cracker tin

Even though it cost over $5, he bought it! He also got some peanut butter. My dad said it was worth every penny because it tasted like home.

I always loved that story.  Probably because I understood that particular story more than any of the other things he would share with us about his time in Vietnam.

Anyway, between my dad’s birthday on Nov. 9th, Fall Fest on Nov. 10th and Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11th, I’ve been eating Ritz crackers and thinking quite a bit about my Daddy.

Both have brought me a lot of happiness … though I enjoyed the memories of my father far, far more than the Ritz crackers. .

Tomorrow, the leftover Ritz crackers will go into the trash. I’ll no longer be indulging in one of my favorite unhealthy foods. As much as I love them, Ritz crackers aren’t good for me.

However, I’ll still continue to enjoy thinking about my dad. Not a day goes by when I don’t remember him in some fashion. And I plan on keeping it that way because generally whenever I think about my dad, it makes me smile.

So in this Thanksgiving season, I’m grateful for my dad and the wonderful man that he was. And I’m glad that God thought up giving us brains that are able to remember and recall the past so that it can bring us joy.

And every so often, I’m thankful for the enjoyment of a simple Ritz cracker … especially if it’s topped with a bit of peanut butter.

 

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My Father’s Voice

Father’s Day is Sunday.

It’s my second without having my dad to celebrate. I miss him terribly, but feel so blessed to have had him as my father. Perhaps I am biased, but there wasn’t a better Daddy in the world.

So in his honor (and in honor of good dads everywhere), I’m sharing one of my favorite stories about my father.

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Me and my wonderful Daddy, Easter Sunday 1973

Throughout my childhood, my family kept a tiny flock of sheep in the backyard, as part of a 4-H project.  It was not uncommon for the sheep to find a way of escape from the small pen in our backyard.  It seemed we only become aware of their fugitive state whenever some neighbor telephoned to let us know our wooly pets were out wandering along the roadsides.

Whenever our lambs went for one of their strolls, my father always insisted we immediately  go track down those sheep, and return them as soon as possible to the safety of the pen in our backyard. It didn’t matter if it was day or night. As luck would have it, our  lambs were infamous for taking moonlit walks, the deeper into the night the better … or so it seemed.

I could tell many tales about these sheep-chasing escapades, but one time in particular always stands out in my memory.  It happened on a humid night the fall I turned sixteen.

The ringing of our phone roused me slightly from my deep sleep.  It was soon followed by my dad’s hard knock on the door of the bedroom I shared with my sister.   “Paige,” he said, “get up! The sheep are out along the highway, somewhere toward the high school. Your brother and I are heading out now.  You follow along just as soon as you get dressed. Meet us on the other side of the bridge.”

I heard the front door shut as they walked out of the house, and then their voices carrying softly as they walked across the front yard, headed toward the highway that stretched out in front of our brick home.  A wave of jealousy swept over me as I looked over at my younger sister, snugly tucked into dreams instead of being forced to go on a midnight  goose (er … sheep) hunt for a bunch of wayward lambs.

Five or six minutes later I was dressed and walking out of the house.  The night sky was dark.  No moon or stars lit the ground. The street light shone dimly on the other side of the highway, providing me with just enough light to dodge a puddle of water at the edge of our driveway.

Walking down the center of the highway, I suddenly felt very alone in the deep darkness. At shortly after 2 am, the roads in our rural town were quiet.  The only sounds I could hear were the sounds of tree frogs, crickets and the occasional hooting of an owl. I walked along, the fear in my throat growing thicker and sharper with each step that took me away from the safety of my home.  I quickened my pace, taking hurried steps as my shoes pounding against the dark pavement in my efforts to reach my father as soon as possible.

Soon I approached the bridge.  It was darker there. The trees overhung across the road, creating deep shadows.  The intense darkness blocked out even the reflective yellow stripes dividing the two-lane road. I hesitated before stepping onto the bridge. In order to reach the safety of my father I had to cross the bridge to get to the other side. But there was a loud voice in my head that screamed for me to turn around and high-tail it back home instead of crossing over that deep, dark bridge.

Breathing a prayer, I put my foot forward and started across.  Toward the midpoint of the bridge, I heard a noise, a sort of rustling that didn’t sound like the leaves on the trees. I paused, but didn’t hear anything other than the pounding of my own heart.  I started walking again, but after another step I stopped. I had the distinct feeling I wasn’t alone on the bridge.  Unable to see or hear anything, I shook off my fear and picked up my foot, determined to get to the other side.

At that exact moment,  a voice boomed out of the darkness:

“Paige!  Go back and get the truck!”

Immediately, I turned on my heels and began to run, faster than I had ever run in my entire life.  (Honestly, this wasn’t a huge feat. I was never a fast runner to begin with, and so it wouldn’t have taken much more than a steady jog to beat my all-time fastest run. Still, I rather like to recall this run as if I made it back home in record time.)

I ran straight for my dad’s truck, the beat-up old Ford that he drove back and forth to his job at our family hardware store.  Yanking open the door, I dove behind the steering wheel, slamming myself inside the truck. I took several deep, long breaths. My heart thumped wildly in my chest, though I wasn’t sure if it was due to the running, the fear coursing through my body or the realization that I had just heard the voice of God in the night.

The keys were in the truck’s ignition, just where I expected them to be, for in rural Louisiana during the mid-80’s, most people never bothered to take their car keys into the house. I turned the key and the truck rumbled to life. Three minutes later, I pulled over to the side of the road.  Ahead was my father and brother, herding our small flock of sheep toward me.  I quickly hopped out, leaving the headlights on and the engine idling.

As my father approached, he said, “Thanks for bringing the truck! You got here just at the right time.”

I nodded.  “No problem, Dad. I’m just glad God told me to do it … and that I obeyed even though I was really scared.”

My father looked up from his task of calmly guiding the bleating lambs to give me a brief confused look … And then he started to laugh, deep and hard until it seemed as if he might never stop.  He finally caught his breath.  “Paige,” he said between chuckles, “that was me.  I told you to go back for the truck.  Didn’t you recognize my voice?!”

“That was you?  You were on the bridge with me?” It was my turn to be confused.

Obviously still tickled over my confusion, my dad gave me a hug and said, “Yes, Paige.  I hate to disappoint you, but voice you heard was mine …  not the voice of God. But I’m glad you brought the truck anyway. Now, help us load these sheep.”

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Me (in pink) showing my 4-H sheep at the Louisiana State Fair, October 1982

It’s been nearly 27 years since that deep, dark night when I thought I heard God in the sound of my father’s voice.  Yet each time I recall that bridge and the voice that boomed from the darkness, I reminded of two ways that my earthly father taught me important truths about my Heavenly Father.

Almost any Christian will tell you that hearing and recognizing the voice of God can be difficult. Many Christians go through life without ever really learning how to listen for God’s voice.  I was fortunate.  My dad taught me to listen for God’s voice by placing a great importance on studying the scriptures, daily prayer, attending weekly worship services, and by expecting me to learn and obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus once said, “My sheep hear my voice … and they follow me.” (John 10:27)  I am grateful for my daddy who taught me how to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.

The second truth is a reminder that in this life we will have troubles.  Jesus Himself said, “You will have suffering in this world.”  (John 16:33).  But He also said, “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)  Just like my dad was with me on that dark bridge so many nights ago, my Heavenly Father is also with me whatever my circumstances.

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Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.  ~Psalm 103:13

Legacy

JoelThompson4HLegacy

4-H Grows a Legacy
Joel Thompson, Lafayette Parish
Louisiana State Citizenship Board Member, 2014-2016

“I am a fourth generation 4-H member. My great-grandmother, grandfather, and mother were all 4-H members who went on to become 4-H agents, 4-H club leaders and life-long 4-H volunteers. Their example taught me what it truly means to pledge my head, heart, hands and health to the betterment of my club, community, country and world. As a result, 4-H has become more to me than just winning blue ribbons or attending summer camp. It is a foundation for my future that connects me to my past. I’m proud to say that 4-H has always been a huge part of my life, and thanks to my family’s 4-H legacy, I’m sure it always will be.”

Yesterday, the above photo of my son Joel and his quote about 4-H was shared on social media by the Louisiana State 4-H Office.  It’s part of a new 4-H marketing campaign in which 4-H members, leaders, volunteers and alumni share the positive character traits and values that being involved 4-H helped to grow in their life.

When Joel was first invited to be a part of this marketing campaign, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to emphasize. After all, 4-H has taught him and his siblings so many skills, far more than just the basics of how to give a demonstration or how to sew on a button. It’s given him opportunities to grow as a leader, to serve others in meaningful ways, to prepare and give speeches, and even how to be a good competitor (especially when you don’t win).

But as we talked, Joel and I both began to realize how 4-H is more to us than just a club. Like me, Joel knew about 4-H long before he ever joined at age nine.  From the time he was a toddler, he heard the stories of how his grandfather, my dad, showed blue-ribbon winning 4-H lambs. He would stand next to me in the kitchen as I told him how I started cooking when I was nine, all because of 4-H …and I heard my grandmother tell me those same tales as she showed me how to cook when I was a child.

For Joel and for me, 4-H is sort of like a part of our genetics. It’s who we are and what we do as a family. Neither of us can imagine life without 4-H.

I am grateful for the heritage my father and my grandmother gave me and I hope my children carry into their futures a 4-H legacy. Yet, as much as I love all things 4-H, there is a far greater legacy I am thankful that my family gave to me and  that I want to give to my children and someday my grandchild. It’s a legacy of Christian faith.

4-H may enhance my life and teach skills that I might not otherwise have learned. It is a source of education and entertainment that I’m so grateful to have. It’s a huge part of my life … but if it ended tomorrow, my life would not end with it.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the creator and author of my life. He formed me and fashioned me. He numbered my days, gave me a purpose, and has already prepared my future (both here on this earth and afterwards in heaven). From the time I was an infant, my father and my mother told me the stories in the Bible, prayed with me and for me, and encouraged me to accept Jesus as my Savior. My grandmother sang me hymns and listened to me recite Bible verses. The biggest legacy of my life is the legacy of Jesus.

The Bible is clear. Salvation cannot be passed down parent to child. It is a decision that each person gets.  However, I can leave behind a heritage that will help guide my children and future grandchildren to the Cross.

Today, I’m thankful for those in my life who walked before me, faithfully following their Savior, showing me the way to Jesus Christ. And I humbly ask that the Lord might allow me to leave behind a legacy for Jesus for the generations who walk after me as well.

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter…things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony … which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.  ~Psalm 78: 2-7

With a Thankful Heart-2

State Fair: A Letter to My Dad

Today’s challenge is for the letter “T” … but yesterday I was a slacker and never posted for the letter “S.”

That’s lucky for you. Now you will get a “two-fer” … you know, like a two-for-one deal. Two posts on one amazing day. Yay!

It’s unlucky for me. I have to write TWO blog posts today, instead of just one. One post is hard enough. How on earth will I manage two?!

Well, thankfully I came up with a plan to help me write two posts in one day. It’s called “recycling.” (Too bad today is “S” day and not “R” day … I could write about recycling. Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.)

This morning, I woke up early and started searching through old writings and blog posts in search of either an S or a T story to recycle, when I came across a letter I emailed to my Dad back in October 2005. Almost ten years ago. Wow.

Initially, I just planned to read over the words I had shared with him so long ago. Naturally, that made me feel lonely for my dad. But, as I wiped away the last of the tears, I realized I could use this for my “S” post.  I pondered that idea for a few moments, wondering if how he might feel about that if he were still alive … but the longer I thought, the more I figured he wouldn’t mind me sharing it on my blog.  It’s just a letter sharing some sweet memories from my childhood. Surely, I concluded,  he would want to help me catch up and stay on track with my A-to-Z Blogging Challenge.

So here it is, what should have been shared yesterday, my “S” post about the Louisiana State Fair in the form of a letter to my dad.

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October 25, 2005

Dear Daddy,
It’s late October. Tonight the weather is chilly, with a drizzling rain falling. Do you know what I am thinking about?

The Louisiana State Fair.

The State Fair was always in late October. Some years it was chilly and rainy. But most of the time, it was hot and muggy. Either way, we were miserable spending long days outside in the uncooperative weather.

Can you believe it’s been 15 years since I last showed any 4-H lambs?  Me either. But I can still remember like it was yesterday.

You always made sure to get us up early, well before it was light outside, dragging us out of our beds so that we could get our sheep ready for the show. The city was still sleeping, but when we arrived the show barn was already buzzing with activity as kids of all ages milled about the pens, tending to their livestock in the dim pre-dawn light. Adults stood around in groups, cupping their hands around styrofoam cups of coffee. Sometimes you would go get us hot chocolate from one of the concession booths, but more than the hot chocolate, I looked forward to the donuts. Nothing ever tasted better at 5 am than warm donuts and a cup of hot chocolate!

Before it was good and light, you would send us to wash the lambs and get them ready to show. Off we would go, leading two or three lambs across the big barn to the washing pens, where there was nothing but a water hold and cold water to use to get those lambs show ready. By the time we were done, my teeth were chattering. I’m sitting in my warm house tonight, yet as I think about those State Fair mornings I can almost feel how cold my hands would get from washing those lambs.

Oh, and I can smell the Wool-lite! Dad, it still makes me laugh right out loud whenever I think about how you always bought us Wool-lite to wash our lambs! I guess in a round about way it makes perfect sense, but it also seems so silly to think about using an expensive laundry soap on a bunch of stinky sheep! To this day I cannot wash clothes in Wool-lite because the smell reminds me of sheep! (Good thing I don’t wear much wool!)

The State Fair was an overload for the senses! I can recall the smell that livestock barn, a mixture of hay and feed and animal droppings. And the noise … all the bleating of the lambs and the squeals of the pigs, mixed in with the old intercom screeching out announcements, the hum of the overhead lighting, the calliope tunes floating over from the midway carnival rides.

Do you remember that crazy out-of-control lamb that the Crawford girl had to show for me? It was the lamb that bucked and kicked and knocked me down, threatening to take out every other kid and lamb in the show ring, too. I was perhaps 10 years old, certainly was not confident enough to control my freaked-out lamb. Thankfully, that older teen girl took pity on me, helping me out by switching lambs. I’m sure she figured that if she didn’t do something to help me, there was a great likelihood that someone would be injured by my insane lamb.

Me with the crazy lamb ... scattered sawdust and overturned plants caused by his wild rampage prior to the photo. No wonder I was scared to death!
Me with the crazy lamb … scattered sawdust and overturned plants caused by his wild rampage prior to the photo. No wonder I was scared to death!

Oddly enough, that crazy sheep placed 3rd in its division. Off we were herded to go have our picture taken. Of course, the lamb acted just as erratic in the photo op area, kicking up sawdust, knocking over plants, and coming as close to destroying a professional photographer’s camera without actually doing it as a single lamb can get. We laugh about how scared I look in the photo, but is there any wonder as to why?!

Truth be known, I don’t think I ever really got over feeling nervous whenever it was time to step into the show ring. My stomach was in a ball of anxious knots as I got ready to show my lambs, and I was grateful that you never left us in those moments before the show. In fact, you walked with me every step of the way, from the holding pens all the way to the show ring gate. Most of the time, you would even led the lamb on the halter, never actually passing the lamb over to me until it was time to enter the ring.

During the show, Mom would be high up in the stands, watching and encouraging us. But you were always ring-side, offering soft words of advice or cheering us on with big grins. As the show ended, you were always standing there, just outside the show ring gate, ready to  greet me with encouraging words and smiles. There was comfort in that because I knew that no matter how great or how bad my lamb and I might have performed in the ring, you were going to be right there.

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I think the hardest part of going to the State Fair was leaving to go back home. Walking out the barn, ribbons hanging out of the back pocket of my blue jeans, I knew it was the last time I’d ever see those lambs again. Funny how I complained all through the summer and fall, thinking that caring for them was the world’s biggest burden.Yet whenever it came time to sell them at the end of the State Fair, I found that all the sweat from the months of hard work turned into tears of grief as I said goodbye.

Tonight I’m sitting here reminiscing about the State Fair … and, Dad, I  wanted you to know that not only do I remember all of these things, but I treasure them in my heart. I appreciate so much more now what you were trying to share with us then. Thanks for putting up with my rotten attitudes about caring for my 4-H lambs, and for not understanding what a gift you were given me so long ago. I didn’t get it then, but I see it so clearly now. You’ve given me a lifetime of love and memories, and I’ll cherish that for as long as I live.

I love you,
Paige

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BaptistGirlConfession

This post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.

Head, Heart, Hands, Health: The Four H’s

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.

4H

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When I was growing up, there were three things I knew I would be required to do. Each of them was non-negotiable.

1.  Go to church

2.  Take piano lessons for at least three school years (3rd-5th grades)

3.  Join 4-H

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I was born into a 4-H family. My paternal grandmother was a 4-H Extension Agent for many years, and my father used to entertain us with stories about his 4-H adventures back when he showed prize-winning lambs. Not only did I always know that one day I would also be a 4-H’er, but eventually identifying myself as such ranked right up there with being from the South and attending a Southern Baptist church. It was just part of who I was and how I was raised.

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Mr. Neal, my county agent, helping me learn how to show a lamb and what the judges would look for at the livestock shows.
Mr. Neal, my 4-H agent, helping me learn how to show a lamb and explaining to me exactly what the judges would look for when I showed my sheep at the livestock shows.

My first experience with 4-H was getting a small “flock” of my own 4-H sheep. By flock I mean three lambs. I named them, which was probably a huge mistake. I didn’t realize that later on I was going to have to eat them.

Lambs look cute and cuddly in pictures, as they serenely eat along grassy hillsides. In reality, they are rather annoying and incredibly stinky. I didn’t like early morning wake-up calls to go outside and feed a pen full of bleating lambs, nor did I enjoy the chaos of livestock shows. So I soon discovered that what sounded like great fun prior to my enrollment in the 4-H livestock program turned out to be not to be quite my cup of tea.

My next 4-H project was the Foods and Nutrition project. I was so excited to spend time in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother. I was nine years old when I entered my first 4-H cooking contest, the egg cookery. My mother was probably as surprised as I was when I took the first place ribbon with my dessert. Later I went on to compete at the district level where I took another first place ribbon, before moving onto the state egg cookery contest where I placed second behind a high school senior.

In high school, I competed on a state level in the 4-H child development project, winning many ribbons and awards for the scope and depth of my project work. When I graduated from high school, I received a small 4-H scholarship to help offset the cost of my college books.

More than anything else I ever did, 4-H prepared me for my college experiences and gave me opportunities to practice real-world skills rather than receive just textbook knowledge.

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Over the course of the past 30+ years, I’ve been a 4-H member, a 4-H club leader, a 4-H adult volunteer, and a 4-H Extension Agent.  But the hardest job I’ve ever had is that of being a 4-H mom.

I’ve got five kids who are all active 4-H’ers. From monthly meetings to service projects to competitions, not a week goes by when my family isn’t involved in some sort of 4-H related activity. Take this week for example, I’ve taken one child to help with a 4-H service project, sold and delivered 4-H strawberries, made a trip to the 4-H office to pick up meeting supplies, answered several phone calls and emails regarding our club’s upcoming 4-H field trip, and collected 4-H forms for upcoming awards night. Whew! I’m tired just typing all of that.

It’s hard work, but I know my children are learning valuable lessons that they will carry into adulthood.

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BaptistGirlConfession

This post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.

Awards All Around

This week was pretty amazing for our family.

It all started Wednesday evening when Jon and I got word that our 14 year old son Joel was awarded a spot on the Louisiana State 4-H Citizenship Board.  This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I recognize the hard work and diligent effort Joel made to earn this place of leadership. He had to fill out a lengthy application, write an essay and go through an interview process. Furthermore, he’s just an incoming (homeschooled) freshman … and now he is getting to serve on a state-wide board with a nationally recognized club!  It is a big deal!  Even if his understated response (all the way from Germany) was a very mellow, “cool,”  I’m his momma and I’m stinkin’ proud of that boy!

Joel, newly appointed to the Louisiana State 4-H Citizenship Board
Joel, newly appointed to the Louisiana State 4-H Citizenship Board

Then Thursday night Jon and I watched at our 15 year old daughter, Maddie, walk across a huge stage in front of a couple of thousand screaming teens to receive a Blue Ribbon Medal award in the Louisiana State  4-H Dog Science Contest at 4-H University. She worked hard, studying up on dog breeds recognized by the AKC and learning all about dog healthcare. She and I worked to plan, prepare, write and practice a six minute power point presentation on dog bites. Out of a field of close to 30 contestants, she placed 6th … how wonderful is that?! Again, I’m elated with my laid-back girl’s success in a state-level competition. We She worked hard for that medal, and I couldn’t be prouder of her efforts even if she had walked away as the state winner.

Jon with Maddie after the Louisiana 4-H University Awards night
Jon with Maddie after the Louisiana 4-H University Awards night

Just when I thought all the award-winning excitement was over, I got a HUGE surprise.  Friday night I discovered another blogger was giving me a blog award!  I’ve never received a blog award of any sort prior to this one. Wow! What a huge boost of encouragement!

John Mark Miller @ The Artistic Christian was the one who extended the award for Most Influential Blogger to me.

My First Blog Award!
My First Blog Award!

He wrote the following comment on my blog:

Thanks for always being faithful to provide inspirational posts! I’ve nominated you for the Most Influential Blogger Award… whether you accept or not, this is my way of saying thanks for sharing the Good News!

I have to admit most days I do not feel like a super-anything, nor do I think of myself as particularly influential. But I do try to make most of my blog posts relate back to my strong faith in Christ. After all, when I leave this world, all I’m taking with me is my faith and trust in Him. So when I read John Mark’s comment, it made me feel like I was on the right track, pointing to Christ instead of pointing to Paige.

Thanks, John Mark, for giving me a big boost of Christian encouragement to keep at it with my blog! I’d like to encourage all of my readers to check out The Artistic Christian blog. It’s full of engaging, well-written posts on a wide variety of interesting topics such as movies, music, books, and parenting from a Christian perspective.

Now, in order to accept this award, I have to do a few things:

Award Guidelines

To accept this award, the awardees must do the following:
1. Display the Award on your Blog.
2. Announce your win with a blog post and thank the Blogger who awarded you.
3. Present 10 deserving Bloggers with the Award.
4. Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded with a comment (or a pingback).
5. Include an embedded video of your current favorite song (YouTube has almost everything, just copy and paste the link into your WordPress editor). If a video is not possible you can embed a SoundCloud track.

I’ve done the first two items, which means I need to present this same award to ten other bloggers (and let them know on their blogs with a comment), and embed a video of my favorite song.

So without further delay, my ten blogger nominees are:

Christie from Christie Hughes at the Well

Levi from Levi’s Daily Thoughts

Kelly Grace from A Really Full Life

Diane from Home To Go 232

Janelle from Everyday Moments of Worship

Rene from Sweet Rains

Megan from Faith-Hope-Love-Serve

God{isms}

Susan Irene Fox

Mare from Adventures in the Ballpark

These are all blogs worth reading if you’ve got a few moments. The authors will point you to Christ and give you good things to think about all day long.  I appreciate the influence they have and how they choose to use it to glorify God.

Finally, I’m supposed to share a video of my current favorite song. You know, it’s so hard for me to choose only one song! But here goes … right now, I am really loving listening to Christian pop band Royal Tailor with my kids. One thing about having lots of teens and preteens is that I have to stay on-top of current Christian music trends. And the truth is, I find it fun to drive along, jamming out to music I probably wouldn’t listen to otherwise.

This is a video of Royal Tailor’s song Remain, which is a reminder of how God’s love for each us will always remain strong and true, no matter what is going on in the world around us or crazy thoughts are running through our brains or even how we feel about Him at any given moment. To loosely quote Francis Chan, it is a “crazy love.”

And because God loves with a crazy love that remains forever true, my heart wants to give it all back to Him for His glory.

In a nutshell, it’s the reason behind everything I write because it’s that amazing love that influences me.