False Alarm

One of the things you should know about me is I'm a tad bit paranoid... Wait. Have you met my mom?? Haha. I come by it honestly.

When I decided to live by myself, the most important thing to my parents was for me to live in a very safe area. I live in one of the safest areas of my town in a gated subdivision.... But I still get freaked out from time to

So my dad, being the most amazing dad that he is, had a security system installed in my condo.

Plus, every single one of my doors looks like this...

Yes, that is four locks you see. Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you ;)

One of my guy friends constantly makes fun of my paranoia, I can't help it!

So lately the only action my alarm has gotten is when I accidentally set it off. Until last night...

I went to church and had left my phone on silent in my purse. When I checked my phone I had several calls/texts/voicemails from my mom and a couple calls from ADT. Evidently someone/something had set my alarm off at church. Since no one could get a hold of me, they sent the police to my house. Yea... I'm definitely the most hated neighbor on the block now...
Anyway, I was a little freaked out and dragged my friend Tom over to my house to look in every nook and cranny of my house to make sure no one was waiting to snatch me! I'm sure I'll never live this one down!
So after getting no sleep because I was so freaked out, it turns out I just didn't shut my door all the way when I left for church. Wow. I probably shouldn't let too many people know that.

So moral of the story is.... Alarms are great, when you know how to use them!

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The Day the World Stopped Turning

Every time I think of September 11th, which actually does cross my mind pretty often, strange enough, I think of the Alan Jackson song...

"Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day"

I was in the hallway between classes in the 8th grade at Cabot Junior High North.  I remember a friend yelled it out at me as I was passing him..

"Hey Jen... did you hear what happened in New York?"

I was very young, and didn't understand the implications that surrounded that fateful day, but I do remember watching, stunned, in English class as the second plane ran into the tower.

I was young, but not naive enough to ignore what this meant for my family.  You see... my dad is a retired Colonel in the Air Force, a pilot to be exact.  At the time of September 11th, he was still active duty, leading a large squadron of men at the Little Rock Air Force Base.  As soon as the planes hit the towers, my dad was called in on High Alert.  My family, as well as the rest of the world, set on pins and needles that night waiting for what the next move would be.  Waiting to know whether or not my Dad would leave immediately to go fight in, another, yet highly necessary war.

He didn't get called out that night... but later, so many young men did, and still continue.  To fight for our freedom, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

 Today as I was watching the News coverage of the 9-11 dedication ceremony, my heart broke for all the families whose lives were torn apart when those planes hit the towers.   10 years has passed, yet I know in their hearts not a day goes by that they don't remember their loved ones.  I'm so thankful for our military, emergency personnel, and government officials who put their lives on the line on a daily basis for our freedom.

I never take for granted the fact that I was born in a country where I feel safe every day.

Yesterday, as a perfect stranger thanked my dad for his service, I was reminded of all that is good and right in our country, and my heart swelled with pride for my dad's selfless act of service.

You tell me all the time how proud you are of me and all my accomplishments, yet I sometimes fail to tell you how proud I am of you and Mom and for sacrificing having the "typical" family life in order to serve our country.  I know that we will never truly understand the sacrifices you made to serve, nor will you ever earn your full reward on Earth, but I'm so thankful to have you for a Dad.  I TRULY have the best parents in the world.

I love yall...



You cannot learn to be happy with someone else, until you are at first happy being with yourself.

I guess my life lately could be summed up perfectly in a casual thought spoken by one of my friends that has stuck for a while...

"Who would have thought that here we would be, most of us married and you, Jennifer Bradley, single?"

She didn't mean any harm by it, just the honest truth.  I was always the girl who went from one long-term relationship to the next.  I had incredible meaningful relationships with some amazing guys from high school through college that helped shape me into the person I am today.  Alongside those relationships, I've always had a handful of guys who've I've always considered some of my closest friends.  

Being single, while the rest of my friends got married, honestly was a part of life I never thought I would experience.  It's not that the one thing I desired was to get married right away, I just honestly thought there would be no other option for me.  As a girl who was always in long-term relationships, it just seemed like the logical next step would be marriage when I graduated college.  

As I graduated college though, I knew that wouldn't be a possibility, and God had already planted seeds in my heart that would outgrow that teenage desire.  I won't act like it was easy, or still is, attending weddings alone, or being the third wheel at many dinners with my married friends.  Last year, was probably the hardest for that.  I began wondering what was wrong with me. Why wouldn't a guy choose me to marry, when all of my friends were clearly "chosen".  As I began to grow more and more frustrated, I slowly opened my heart and let my Savior speak.  As I listened I could hear Him saying, "I chose you."  I won't lie though, in those moments, He wasn't enough for me.  I wanted a relationship.  I wasn't happy being alone.

Somewhere along the way though, my heart slowly began to change.  I allowed God to work in me, and change my desires to His desires for my life.  He gave me a heavenly peace about where He has me in life.  He helped me to realize that while He chose marriage at this point in my friends lives, the plans He has for me require for me to remain single.  He also eased my worries and fears because He DID place in my heart a desire for marriage and at the perfect time He will bring into my life the one my heart was made for.  I can't explain the incredible relief I have in knowing my heavenly Father is taking care of everything, in not having to search.

I never thought I could ever be the girl who would say that I am perfectly content being single at this time in my life.  My fulfillment and contentedness comes from my job, my friends, my family, and God. At which the time comes that God does bring a man into my life, He will only add to it.... Not fill a hole.  Because I've let God fill that hole.


You Choose

People often assume or tell me that my life is so easy, therefore it's automatically easy for me to be optimistic.  It frustrates me so much. My lot in life hasn't been any easier than yours..  I've had struggles, said things I shouldn't have, fought with friends, lost friends, had my heart broken multiple times.... The list could go on.  It frustrates me that people assume my life is easy and therefore, it's naturally easy for me to be a happy person.  

Yes, I am incredibly blessed I will be the first to admit.  I'm also incredibly thankful for both my blessings and my trials, and that is what I believe is the key to my happiness.  Thankfulness breeds happiness because you realize that you do not deserve anything, but rather the Lord has chosen you to bless, to favor.  How can you NOT be happy about that?

Every single day, I CHOOSE to be happy.  I CHOOSE to see the good in others.  I CHOOSE to take the days stress, frustrations, and menial chores and turn them into something to be thankful about.  Some days I flat out do not want to be happy.  Some days I would rather go back to bed.  Some days I would like to flip off the person who cuts in front of me on the road, snap at my students as they ask me the same question for the thousandth time, or run my little cheerleaders ragged for making the same mistakes....  BUT then I am reminded how God must feel with me as I make the same mistakes over and over, ask the same questions of Him thousands of times, and cut His time with me short because I'm too busy or tired.  So it is with this in mind that I CHOOSE optimism and CHOOSE to see the best in people.  

Happiness is a choice, not a feeling.  

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Heavy Heart

It is with such a heavy heart that I type these words...

A precious senior at the school I teach was killed in a tragic car accident yesterday.  She was beautiful, smart, and very well-liked.  She had just been nominated for homecoming that day.  She had her whole life ahead of her.

She was an only child....   I cannot even begin to imagine the grief her parents are facing right now.

We heard the news while at a football game.  Students went in droves to the hospital and to Sara's parents' home to grieve together.  A faculty meeting was scheduled first thing in the morning to talk about how to help our students grieve.

I could never have been prepared for what I would see as I walked into the building that morning.  The entire student body wearing blue (Sara's favorite color), crying, hugging each other, looking for hope.  The most difficult thing being a teacher, or a parent is helping a child learn to grieve.

Our staff meeting was even more difficult as our principal could not contain her sorrow over losing such a joy to our student body.  One of our school police officers rushed to the scene of the accident upon hearing it was a BHS student.  He described to us the details of the accident.  Seeing a grown man, break down and cry is not something you see very often.  A testament to Sara's effect on others.

Soon after, Sara's parents came up to the school to be with the students.  I could not be more proud to teach the amazing students of BHS.  Seeing, each child suddenly grow beyond their years as they offered words of support and comfort to her parents, overcome with grief, is one memory I will carry with me forever.

The rest of the day was a haze for most of the students.  I have nothing but the utmost respect for every teacher, administrator and staff member of BHS as they granted every single student the opportunity to grieve in their own way.  They were allowed to sit with friends in the gym, meet with grief counselors, write letters, cards, or use other creative outlets.

It is without a doubt that I can say the students at BHS will use tragedy to create hope.  They already have so many ideas of how they would like to honor Sara's life and her parents.

Teaching can be difficult, and today most certainly was one of those days...  But today proved to me that the heart of life is good.