Grab the button, link up and share what feeds your soul!

In a world that is so fast paced, running from activity to activity. Someone always needing something from us. Cell phone ringing and buzzing with text messages. TVs blaring in the background. Doing less with more. Eating dinner on the go or not eating dinner at all. Sometimes all I need is 2 seconds to pause, to breathe, to look around at God's creation and know.....simplicity feeds my soul. I don't always feel like I have enough of it and I have to remind myself to keep it simple often, its the simple things in life that really mean the most.



Oh Lord, I've never lived where churches grow.
            I loved creation better as it stood
        That day You finished it so long ago
            And looked upon Your work and called it good.
        I know that others find You in the light
            That's sifted down through tinted window panes,
        And yet I seem to feel You near tonight
            In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains.
        I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well,
            That You have made my freedom so complete;
        That I'm no slave of whistle, clock or bell,
            Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street,
        Just let me live my life as I've begun
            And give me work that's open to the sky;
        Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,
            And I won't ask a life that's soft or high.
        Let me be easy on the man that's down;
            Let me be square and generous with all.
        I'm careless sometimes, Lord, when I'm in town,
            But never let 'em say I'm mean or small!
        Make me as big and open as the plains,
            As honest as the hawse between my knees,
        Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains,
            Free as the hawk that circles down the breeze!
        Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget.
            You know about the reasons that are hid.
        You understand the things that gall and fret;
            You know me better than my mother did.
        Just keep an eye on all that's done and said
            And right me, sometimes, when I turn aside,
        And guide me down the long, dim trail ahead
            That stretches upward toward the Great Divide.



for The Really Big Road Trip!

I'll be working my way through Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, back to Colorado and finally back to Wyoming. I'll be visiting family and friends all along 2,367 miles. And since I'm having trouble keeping up with my unpublished blog listing, I'll be taking off next week from blogging while I'm catching up with my people. I'll be back with alot of miles of adventure to catch you up on.


PS. Don't forget to come back tomorrow and link up for Soul Food Friday with Almost Gypsy Soul! See you there!!!!
I'm not a big youtube watcher, but every now and again you see one that you remember for years. So I feel the need to share them with you. Plus after I get my collection of Jen approved YouTube videos all documented in my Comedy Club @ Almost Gypsy Soul.....you know where to go for a laugh.

Here's a clip from the vault



You are welcome.

Watch it!

by on 5:00 AM
I'm not a big youtube watcher, but every now and again you see one that you remember for years. So I feel the need to share them with yo...

I'd like to say I have good values. Then you would probably ask me, "Jen, what are your values?". It dawned on me the other day that if someone were to ask me what my values are....would I be able to put into words a coherent answer? All I could come up with is NO I couldn't and the last thing I was someone to say to me is "Mr. Madison Jen, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul". 

I started thinking about my values and the best way to put into words what my values really actually are. Could it be that what I thought they were might in fact not really be mine, but instead me trying to please someone else by taking on their values as my own? Or could it be that what I thought were my values really aren't the best representation of where I want to be as a person, what I want those looking at my life from the outside to see?

To help me corral my thoughts and ultimately a list of my top values, I used Personal Values Card Sort  from the University of New Mexico. Apparently, one is supposed to pick 25 5 very important values. Yes, I had 25, now for someone who doesn't feel a clear purpose or an easily identifiable passion that is alot of very important. I worked through this process over the time of a few weeks and ended up with a fancy diagram of little pieces of paper on my guest bed.

Through the process I was able to narrow my values (and essentially goals) down to less than 25. As I was talking about this one day someone threw this out there.



And I realized this is probably my #1 value/goal. Yes, somethings I do in excess, which then usually leads to not enough, but the my argument is that I don't want to become a boring bump on a log and so its ok to buy those expensive boots I've been pining for for over a year, its ok to take that trip, its ok to set a strict budget that I try vainly to stick to most of the time, its ok to eat cereal for dinner, its ok to splurge on the prime rib buffet.

Every once in a while you gotta kick your heels up!

Shameless plug: Don't forget to come back and link up with Almost Gypsy Soul for Soul Food Friday this Friday! I even remembered to set up the actual link this month!

I knew that my remaining soldiers mail stop date was coming up soon, so his final care package was around the Fourth of July and celebrating his return to America. I wanted to think of something that I hadn't done before and finally settled on American Classics theme. All my planning was sabotaged by my inability to find Cracker Jacks in this stinkin' town. I see them all the time now.....ggggrrrrrr.

American Classics or subsitutes in some cases are:
  • Cracker Jacks Fiddle Faddle
  • Rootbeer
  • Beef jerky sticks
  • Apple pie
  • Dubble Bubble
  • Shell peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Jack Daniels BBQ sauce

Wrap it up with some fun flags and streamers and wa-lah a little bit of America in the Sandbox!

'MERICA!

I recently recieved a FB message from him and I must say his thankfulness and sincerity brought tears to my eyes. It is such an honor to be able to support those who sacrifice so much for our freedom. Its humbling to be reminded that small acts of kindness can go so far in this world. I wish my soldier nothing but happiness and I am so excited for him and his family to be back together soon!!! Thank you for your service to our great country!

Hello!!! Just wanted to give you a huge thanks for all the care packages and letters I got from you. Ill be headed back to the great US of A shortly and back with my family. The care packages made a difference out here for me and very much appreciated. Its an honor to serve this great country and the support giving by individuals such as you is what what makes times over here that much more easier. I thank you for taking the time to send these packages with love, I know this because each package was unique. I thank you for the support and my God bless in everyway you are a true angel of God. Love. SPC.XXXX(dice buddy)!!!!!

[Linking up with Heather at Undercover Blonde]

The author Ken Follett was recommended to me by a co-worker, of course when I got to the library I couldn't remember the titles that she had recommended so I just picked one. And I picked a good one!

Whiteout by Ken Follett is a suspense thriller, but not with a usual story line. Its a looping story of betrayal, threat against human kind and a race against time. A medical firm that does research on deadly virus' as well as vaccines to protect against those virus' is broken into and threatened to be released into the world, threatening the existence of human kind.

I know I'll be reading more by Ken Follett!

FBC: Whiteout

by on 5:00 AM
[Linking up with Heather at Undercover Blonde ] The author Ken Follett was recommended to me by a co-worker, of course when I got to t...
I find it pretty interesting that it wasn't until I left OSU and left Oklahoma that some of my closer friend relationships really bloomed. Thank you Facebook and internet and cell phones. Football Fan and I went to OSU together, we had some of the same close friends, we were friends, but not the friend that I would send random texts to, or email back and forth for a couple hours, or call up and ask for advice. Whew, I'm pretty sure my English teacher would have a heart attack if she read that last "sentence". Anyway, that is exactly what Football Fan has turned into as a friend to me.

She is one the most ambitious, fun, down to earth, caring people I have ever met. The way she lives her life, makes me strive to be more like her, to be a better person for myself and all those who I meet throughout my life. And if you don't know her, follow her blog. It will be like you are already her friend too!



Thank you Tiff for being my friend!
"They call it GOLF because all the other four-letter words were taken" ~ Unknown

And golf I did during my vacation work trip and the vacation that started as soon as I drove into town and then out an hour later. With this week I marked off 1 entry on the ole' Dirty 30 list.

#8 Golf 3 new courses.....CHECK

Course #1: Billings Par 3 - This course was super fun and pretty quick, I wish we had one in Rock Springs for after work golf outings. All the holes are par 3.......and I didn't get a single par.



Course #2: Thermopolis' Legion Golf Course - A little 9 hole course that I really liked. It has beautiful scenery and the course isn't too tough...I didn't lose a single ball in the water! It was my first time golfing solo and my best round ever. I vacation golf so I had a couple little "cheats" but I golfed a 48!



Course #3: Montpelier Idaho Golf Course - Another little gem 9 hole where I followed up my best round of golf with one of my worst. The course was really pretty and not too hard. If you are ever in Montpelier, Idaho, go here! They are super nice and very accommodating. I do recommend a cart on this course, especially if you play as poorly as I did or maybe because I got so extreme on the lake the day before. Whatever, get a cart, its hot. Music Man, Little Sister and Little Sister's Boyfriend all played.



Now in our hurry to get packed up and get to the lake, Little Sister and I both forgot our golf attire. We were a little worried that they wouldn't let us on the course and if they did that we would look like idiots in our basketball shorts and tshirts. Around hole 4 I no longer felt bad about our semi-not appropriate golf attire when I snapped this picture of a guy golfing shirtless....not appropriate golf attire guy! but thanks for making us feel better about forgetting ours!

 

The theme of the weekend was "gettin' extreme".....hey this is my story, I'll tell it how I want. Anyway, all I really wanted to do this weekend was learn to wakeboard.....and I got up for about 2.5 seconds. Since there is still alot of lake time left this summer, I'm not going to mark it off the Dirty 30 list quite yet...but if I don't get better then getting my lead rear out of the water will end up counting.

In preparation for Wakeboarding 101 (taught to myself by myself) I spent the better part of a day watching YouTube videos on how to do it.

Luckily for me there are no photos or videos of my first wakeboarding lesson.

Obviously I started this post a while back, but I am happy to report I can now wakeboard and sometimes I even get out of the wake. I'll probably be doing flips by next summer. Don't hold me to that last statement. Thanks.

Here's to marking another off the Dirty 30 list! #9. Learn to wakeboard....CHECK!





Raspberry Days was in Garden City, UT was a couple weekends ago, while we wanted to participate in the activities we didn't want to be too close for our phobia of large crowds. We opted to camp in Montpelier, ID and boat on the eastern edge of Bear Lake for the weekend. Music Man, Little Sister and Little Sister's Boyfriend were all there to get extreme on the wakeboard.

Camping was great, we were practically the lone rangers in the campground. We got in some campfire sittin', some cornhole and a few adult beverages. The lake, well see for yourself how it was.



I love me some campfire cookin', bean bag throwin, wakeboarding weekends at the lake!

Inevitably I get one of those darn key cards at a hotel and I make it all the way up to my room only to find out the thing doesn't work. I am muttering "I miss real keys" all the way back down to the front desk to get a new one. On my little work trip up to Billings, MT, I had 2 hotels with real keys! I've discovered that is how you know its a real good hotel. Yeah the bedding isn't new, there isn't a mint on my pillow, but how many of those fancy smanchy hotels provide you with an ice cold Bud Light and an hour of conversation at check-in? NONE!



The guy who owns the hotel with real keys....he lives in Alaska in the winter working with Alaskan Air Command through the military. Now I didn't really know what Alaskan Air Command was, but I did know he had some amazing pictures on the wall of the lobby. It turns out that Alaskan Air Command is a bunch of radar stations that were built to keep an eye on Russia (humm.....might be needing those real soon again!) Very top security clearance is required to get into the radar stations, but he has the opportunity to see some amazing site. He saw natives harpoon a whale (like a giant one!) and cut it up and pickle it...supporting a whole village plus some. He has pictures on the edge of Alaska where you can see Russia with the naked eye across the Bering Sea.....only 58 miles away. He has pictures on top of one of the stations on a clear day with the American flag flying proudly. He has pictures of the stations covered in ice...sideways ice.

I almost missed my golf to stay and listen to his stories of travels. What a neat guy and all because of a real key!
Thursday

We wrapped up class and I passed the final test, then headed south for Wyoming. I stopped in Meeteetse for lunch at the Cowboy Bar...quite possibly the best beer battered fries I've ever had. in.my.life.

The plan was to overnight in Thermopolis before heading the rest of the way home on Friday. And its a good thing, I am exhausted! Stayed once again in a hotel with a real key. I'm tellin' ya, real keys are the way to go.....you will hear more about that philosophy later.

I treated myself to 9 holes on the Thermopolis Legion golf in the evening followed by a ribeye. yum! It was my first time golfing solo and I had my best round ever! 48...with only a few cheats :) its vacation golf....no worries!



Friday

Up and at 'em this morning after taking a relaxing dip in the World's Largest Mineral Hot Springs at Hot Springs State Park and back to the road....its a long ways from Billings to Rock Springs!


On my travels back homeward, I took a couple little breaks to stretch my legs at the Wind River Canyon.


When I finally got home, it was to the office for a couple hours before rushing home to get packed to leave for our camping trip at Montpelier, ID and boating at Bear Lake.

 You will all be happy that I can report I passed my first training test, which was given in the first day of training and we were assured that there will be more tests. yay. Now back to the good stuff....the non-work part of my trip.

Monday

I got up early and was packed, checked out and to the Buffalo Bill Museum by 8am in Cody. The museum doesn't allow pictures in most of the gallerys, so I followed the rules misread the sign and didn't take any pictures. So......these few will have to tide you over until you can go there and see it for yourself, I mean Cody, WY can boast that they have the most comprehensive American firearm exhibit in the world. While it was quite neat, I think my vote goes to the Buffalo Bill gallery or the Plains Indian gallery. There are 5 galleries so you can take your pick and for an entry fee of $18 bucks, I think it passes the bang for your buck test. I was only there for 2 hours and could have easily spent another 2.



After leaving Cody, I drove up to Billings for training. We have a small class and we all went out for drinks at a local tap house microbrewery. Apparently in Montana the tap house microbrewery can serve only 3 drinks per patron. Upon entry, if you are young lookin' lady such as myself, your ID is checked and you get a wristband with a mark on it. With each beer you order, another mark. After 3....its on to the next brewery.....or if you have a long day of training coming up, the Mexican restaurant for some dinner then off to bed. Yeah, I'm crazy like that.

Drank my fill @ Angry Hank's Microbrewery TapHouse

Tuesday

Today, we read our first appraisal report. yay. It was 70 pages, we were charged with finding the mistakes. This was of course after I passed killed the pre-test, only missed 3 questions. Tomorrow is going to be rough, reviewing 2 different appraisals. Vern has a hard time getting 2 done in a day and he has 27 years in with the Agency. After all that brain power, I needed some golf. Vern and I hit 9 holes at the Billings Par 3. Now being the Tiger Woods that I am, I'd never even heard of a Par 3 course. Every hole is par 3....which gives me the chance to actually get a par....which I failed to do. It was a great little course, crossed off part of a Dirty 30 item and we made it back to the hotel just in time for the rain to cut loose. Hooligan's for pizza and beer for dinner tonight, 3 of us for $25 bucks (ps. so far I've managed to stay under per diem even with the museum AND golf, hopefully I can keep this up!)

Par 3 Course, Billings, MT
Wednesday

Not going to lie....not an exciting day other than we got more done in class than expected and will probably get out of here early tomorrow. Read through and reviewed 2 appraisals......in 7, yes 7, hours! ouch! Then we took off to Angry Hank's to grab an Anger Mangement (wheat beer) before hitting up Uberbrew for a couple more drinks and an Uberburger...with jalapeno sausage and jalapenos....yea might regret that one tomorrow, but it was so yummy!!!!!!


And I'm off to Thermop after passing my final test and am now certified to do administrative real estate appraisal reviews, ok ok, I have to turn in 3 practice ones, but then I'll be officially certified! yaw-hoo!
Sunday con'd


Yellowstone is a really beautiful park with lots and lots of people. Even though I prefer Teton over Yellowstone, I still highly recommend Yellowstone. I hadn't been to Yellowstone in a couple of years and I even ended up going to a part of the Park that I hadn't been to before because I was going out of the East Entrance to my overnight stop in Cody on the way to Billings.

I stopped several times coming into the Park, at places where there weren't tons of people already hanging out, sometimes to hike up to see Lewis falls, sometimes to sit and look out over the river (or lake) for a few minutes.
  
Lewis Falls, Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park
 I also stopped at West Thumb and took a stroll around the Geyser Loop and almost bagged myself a biker in the parking lot. This isn't my favorite spot of all the geysers, but there are still some pretty cool ones and some amazing colors!



On my way out I decided to head up to the mud volcanoes, even though it was a slight detour from my "direct" route. Good thing I did! It was the only wildlife that I saw in the Park, even if it was just the bison. I guess those wolves are living high on the hog since I've never been to Yellowstone and not seen tons of wildlife. Disappointing.




Find out about the how and why of this work disguised as vacation trip before judging me for being a bad employee.

Sunday

I got up early and got my G-ride packed for my drive up to Billings, MT for a farm loan training that is required for me to get my certification. Since I had to leave on a Sunday anyway, I decided to take the slightly longer drive through the Park. To get to Yellowstone, you first drive through Teton National Park, which is actually the park that I prefer of the two. Its so humbling and amazing. I could just sit there for hours, looking at it all around me. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I'm just going to stop talking now. If you haven't ever been to Teton (or even if you have), GO! I did play with PicMonkey so the first one will be the original photo.



First picture in Teton Park


Cowboyin' in Teton Park


Roadside flowers!


Overlooking the Snake River with the Tetons in the background

Now I'm shopping for a "big kid" camera!







Random, by definition, has no definite aim, reason or pattern. This is how this playlist is going to go. I have seen this Random tag that the Almost Gypsy Souls uses and decided that random is good (every now and again). The only promise I make, is it will be awesome!!! (Let’s face it, they all are!) Oh, and I did promise some Red Dirt, so I guess I better throw in some of that. This is a very scientific random sample of my ITunes, I won’t reveal my methods, just trust me, it’s scientific.

Random song #1
7&7, Turnpike Troubadours
Random song #2
Texas in 1880, Radney Foster
Random song #3
Big Money, Garth Brooks
Random song #4
Dimebag, Cross Canadian Ragweed
Random song #5
Like Jesus Does, Eric Church


Is that random enough?