Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Moving On from the Election

I'll just admit right here in the blogger world that my candidate for president did not win. While I often speak of politics in code so as not to offend anyone, I don't mind saying with pride and conviction that I voted for John McCain. I vote pretty much always based on one criteria: character. And it is always my preference that godliness tops the list of the character traits I'm looking for, but I don't always find that. To me, John McCain has proven himself to have a strong character based on a devotion to God, family and country. He has proven himself a servant to his country and I felt most comfortable voting for him to serve as my president. I didn't agree with him on every issue, but I felt I could trust him to make wise and responsible decisions. But alas, he didn't win.

I do not believe Obama is terribly lacking in character; I am only most concerned about the personal associations he has made over the years. I am a firm believer that you can tell a person's character by the company he keeps. The fact that Obama has aligned himself with people such as Ayers and Reverend Wright causes me to wonder about his judgment and motives. Will he continue to align himself with people of questionable character during his presidential term? I hope not.

That said, I am determined to move on from this election with hope and respect for the man who will be our next president. I feel strongly led of the Lord to pray for Mr. Obama, his family, and his administration. I also feel convicted to guard my tongue and, more importantly, my attitude. I am writing of these convictions publicly so that you can hold me accountable to them. Specifically, I am going to do my best to speak respectfully and honorably of our president. I may disagree with his decisions and policies, but I will not speak negatively of his character, his attempt to lead, his personality, or his leadership choices. He has won this election fairly and obviously God has allowed him to step to the forefront at such a time as this for a reason. In fact, perhaps there are some very good things that will come of his presidency. At any rate, I will put my trust in our good and sovereign God and give my respect to the next President of our United States.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What We Saw On Broadway - Absolutely Wonderful!

While we did thoroughly enjoy seeing Mama Mia on Broadway, I think the whole family would say that Alfred Hitchcock's 39 Steps was the most delightful surprise. At the bottom of this post you can see a fun snippet from the Broadway play.

The show is a comedy with witty references to several of Hitchcock's movies. The cast was a brilliantly talented ensemble of 3 men and 1 woman who all played multiple parts and improvised props hilariously. I am so glad we saw this play. We all four enjoyed it immensely. After the play we stuck around at the stage door to meet the actors. I just happened to have a Sharpie in my purse and Abigail had bought a poster. Each actor came out and visited with us (and one other fan), signed the poster and posed for a picture with Abby. What a treat!

Here are those pictures:

New York is Coming!

Yes, we went to New York City, had a blast, and took many pictures. In fact, the many pictures is what is delaying my post about our trip. But suffice it to say we had a great time and I will blog about it soon. I just want to get my pictures in order first and I have major writing assignments due next Monday. I don't want my editors to look at my blog and see that I've been writing here and yet haven't finished my submissions for them. That wouldn't be too good!

So just check back with me later for my "I Love NY" post! Tell you what, here's an appetizer for you!

This mid-trip on Saturday, October 11, at the DFW airport. More to come later!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Abby Is Royalty!

Guess what! Abby won freshman class royalty for Homecoming. That means she got to ride in the parade and walk on the field during the Homecoming Queen & King Coronation Friday night! Of course this honor warranted a new dress. She looked beautiful and we are so proud of her. She was tickled pink and loved every minute of it, but handled it with grace and humility as well. Check out our little Homecoming Princess!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Soaring With A Friend

This past week my friend Kim came for a visit and, as usual, we had a blast. We ate well, laughed well, and enjoyed each other's company quite well. We're a great match in friendships and always have a good time together, but one of my favorite things we do together is simply remind each other that we are "quite capable." We both enjoy pushing the envelop a little and awakening the parts of ourselves that sometimes get pushed to the background in the humdrum of life. I'll try to explain a little better.

When you get into your 40s and life is mostly about making ends meets, raising your kids, and fulfilling obligations, I think sometimes women forget that they once were young girls with hopes and dreams and ambitions. We tend to quiet our own passions and dreams so we can help the others in our lives, namely our husbands and children, excel. And we do so gladly. More than anything is this world I love helping my family become all they can be. I want my husband and my children to soar, to succeed. And I am thrilled for them when they do. But sometimes, in my effort to help them prepare, press on, be all they can be, and celebrate their accomplishments, I forget that I too can soar! I think it's a good thing for every woman to be reminded occasionally that she too can try something new, accomplish something grand, go somewhere different, and stand on her own two feet. I'm not advocating independence to the point of avoiding duties or shirking responsibilities. And I'm certainly not encouraging women to strike out on their own to the degree that they leave their loved ones in their dust! I'm just saying it's good to remember the girl inside occasionally and let her lead the way a little at the appropriate time.

Kim and I love trying new things, going new places. We try to pack a little adventure into every visit. We've backpacked a bit of the Appalachian Trail with my equally adventurous Aunt Ida and included a day hike in every trip Kim has made to Arizona. This time Kim decided we needed to do more than just a day hike. I was a little hesitant at first, but she was persistent and I'm so glad she was.

Kim and I struck out on our own Thursday morning with our backpacking gear and a map of the Madeira Canyon area of the Coronada National Forest. We had packed our food, our sleeping bags and tent, and plenty of water. We were on an adventure. We got a little lost on the scenic route we drove to the canyon, but eventually (after traveling about 20 miles on a winding, mountainous, dirt road through open range with cattle and all) we got to our destination. It was beautiful - so worth the trip.

We set up our tent and headed for the trailhead. After about a 2 1/2 hour hike upwards, we reached the junction of Old Baldy Trail and Super Trail (the one we were on). We hiked a little further up towards the top of Mt. Wrightson, but realized time would not allow us to finish the hike before sunset if we hiked all the way to the top, so we headed down. It was a great hike - invigorating and challenging, beautiful too.

Kim checking for text messages in the middle of the hike.

That evening we watched a DVD of King of Queens and Mary Tyler Moore on Kim's portable DVD player at our campsite table. We also built our first fire and feared that it was going to burn the entire Coronada National Forest down. But within a few minutes it had settled down to a pleasant glow. By eight o'clock we climbed into our tent and prepared to hear little critters scratching at the thin tent walls during the night. They never did. We slept on the very hard ground and woke up aching all over, but that didn't keep us from taking another 2 hour hike that morning. We broke camp and headed for warm showers and restaurant food!

Kim and I are not "he women." We both like to have our nails done, shop for new purses, and wear make up and perfume. But we love the outdoors and we love being active. We love challenges and we love trying new things. And I always feel better about who I am and what I can do after Kim and I have pushed the envelop a little. She pushes me forward and I do the same for her. She's one of the main persons who pushed me to go to a writers' conference and begin seriously querrying magazines about articles. And I'm one of the main persons who has encouraged her to work on her master's degree in counseling. We like to think we push each other to be the best we can be.

If you're a woman in the middle of life, raising kids, taking care of a home, bringing home a paycheck and fulfilling a dozen other obligations, make sure you also take time to remember your individual dreams and go for one or two of them occasionally. Don't neglect your husband or your children to feed your own ego or go your own way, but make the necessary arrangements (stock the freezer with good frozen dinners you never let them have otherwise!), grab a good friend (one that lifts you up to where you should be!), and take a day or two to realize a dream that has faded into the recesses of your memory. Dust that dream off, make it happen, and enjoy the feeling of your own wings as they cause YOU to soar!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bragging Away!

Lately it seems all I post about is my two teens, their victories and losses. If anyone is reading this, and I am not delusional enough to think they are, they must certainly be tired of my mommafying! But here goes again, and this is a big one!

Daniel is a National Merit Semi-Finalist! In case you don't know, that is a huge thing. It means he's in the top nth percent of all high school seniors! More importantly, it means scholarship money! Yipee!

Indeed, he is a smart boy. I'm very proud of him and love him like crazy.

Also, Abby got the lead part of Mary (Mary Quite Contrary!) in the musical "Babes in Toyland" at our local community theater. It's her first solo singing part, so she's stepping into new territory. But I know she'll do great. She's such a little drama queen, but we love her any way!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

All Is Not Lost

Abby lost the election. I'm sad, she's sad, everyone who loves her is sad. She would have made an excellent class president and would have received the title with humility and grace. But it didn't happen. Put bluntly, she lost.

But all is not lost. Abby admits freely that she made some new friends this week. She put herself out on a limb for a noble cause and I imagine she will stay out on that limb. She's still on the Student Council (no small feat in itself - you have to go through an extensive application process and few are chosen) and I know she will make a great contribution to her school through her part on that council. She'll also continue to make new friends, offer leadership where it is needed, and share a positive attitude in everything she participates in. Abby has learned the mechanics of campaigning, the agony of losing, and the grace needed to lose well. She shed a few tears and said a few demeaning things about herself, but she is fine today. She has other irons in the fire and she is moving on to tending them well.

Abby's family is so very proud of her. Her dad and I, her big brother, her grandparents, and many friends were rooting her on. We share her grief, but we're still rooting her on. We'll always believe in Abby whether others recognize her greatness or not. We're her fans. And one day when she sits in Los Angeles, California, waiting to hear her name called for an Oscar, we'll still be rooting her on. And whether she wins that night or not, we'll think she deserves it.

Abby lost an election, but she's really quite a winner. She has so many people who love her and believe in her, she has great potential and talent, and she has a winning attitude - even about losing. Indeed little has been lost and a great deal has been gained.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Going for Top Dog

Watch out Obama. Move over McCain. Abby is running for president! President of her Freshman class, that is. That's right, Abby came home Friday announcing her candidacy. Why should this shock me? She seems to know no bounds and isn't that the way I've tried to raise her anyhow?

We created bookmarks for her to pass out at school and posters to hang in the halls, all announcing, "Be Happy! Vote Abby!...Vote Abby Harms for Freshman Class President." We stuck a bright yellow smiley face right in the middle. They look mighty fine. Unfortunately, Abby doesn't look so fine herself. She's sick with either a bad cold or allergy problems. We don't know which because we've assumed it's just allergy problems, but all four of us have "caught" the same allergy bam, bam, bam, bam, four in a row. Coincidence or bad cold? We don't know. At any rate, Abby left for school this morning armed with posters, bookmarks, bottled water (to get the sinuses moving), and the will power to win this election. She'll campaign all week and the students vote Thursday and Friday.

That is, all 900+ students will vote. Yes, Abby's freshman class has over 900 students. This election should be a breeze since she knows about 25 of them. In my attempt to soften the blow in the event of defeat, I've tried to assure Abigail that she shouldn't take a loss personally. If she doesn't win it won't be because people don't like her; it will be because they don't have a clue who she is. Of course her opponent can't know more than about half of the kids herself. So who knows. Maybe a little anonymity will even play in Abigail's favor. She'll be the mysterious girl with the cute smiley face posters and the happy name. Just in case, I think she might better pass out candy later this week.

Well, I'm preparing for a grand celebration. Whether Abby wins the election or not, I'm proud of her for trying. It takes a lot of guts to run for president of a class of 900+, especially when you don't know 875 of them. And if anyone can beat such odds, Abby can. If you read this (and you are, evidently), please say a little prayer for Abigail. Pray that she feels a lot better as the week goes on. Pray that she'll effectively campaign and in the process meet lots of new friends. Pray that she'll either win gracefully or lose just as gracefully, but preferably win. And pray that God protects her sweet heart regardless of the results.

And if you know any 9th graders in her class, tell them to be happy and vote Abby!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Today I've had to make lots of phone calls. Guess what? I can't stand making phone calls! Really. I have this thing about making phone calls.

It's not that I don't like talking to people. I love talking to people. But I much prefer talking with people face to face. In fact, if you want to get right down to it, I especially like talking face to faces. In other words, I like talking to large groups of people even more than I like talking to one or two people. I guess, in my thinking, there's safety in numbers. Often, when I'm talking to just one or two people, I stammer and stumble over my words. But when I'm talking to a group of people, I feel relaxed and happy. No better way to say it - relaxed and happy!

But back to the phone thing. Some people, like my parents and husband and kids, would probably have a hard time believing that I don't really like talking on the phone. According to them I am on the phone all the time. But that's because it is true that I do enjoy talking on the phone to a few people that I feel very comfortable with, like a few girl friends and family members. But other than that, talking on the phone makes me very nervous. I'm always afraid that the person on the other end of the line is smirking at me, rolling their eyes, yawning, or putting me on the speaker phone while they clean out their purse. When I dial the number and listen to the other person's phone ring, I'm imagining them looking at their caller id and thinking, "Oh it's Kay. What does she want?" (By this point you're probably thinking I've got major self-esteem issues! But hang with me!) The whole time I'm hoping they won't answer and I can just leave a message. I do about as well with message machines as I do with large groups of people, so I guess face to faces works for me and voice to machine works pretty well for me too.

I've had this phone phobia most of my life. Once again, as my parents remember how much I dominated the phone as a teenager they're probably laughing out loud, but if they'll think a little harder they'll remember how hard it has always been for me to call and ask a simple question to a completely non-threatening person. I don't like to call and make my six month appointments for the dentist, my yearly check up with the doctor, or even a hair appointment with my very friendly hairdresser. I don't like to call the women on my Women's Ministry Team to schedule a meeting or my child's school to report an absence. I don't like to call to RSVP for a party, to make reservations for dinner, to buy an airline ticket, to get directions to a friend's house, or to find out what time a movie starts. I am especially thrilled when I make such a call and I get a machine or an automated service instead. I know. I'm a freak.

For those of you out there who consider yourselves my friends and family (I hope I still have a few left at this point!), please don't be offended and don't stop calling me! I actually love for people to call me! I just don't like doing the dialing myself. And don't stop answering when you see my number on your caller id. Instead, please consider how hard it was for me to dial that number to begin with and answer quickly! Seriously, this is a phobia that I acknowledge, but I try not to let it rule my life. I still make phone calls every day and every time I survive. Because of course if people are rolling their eyes at me, yawning or even cleaning out their purses while I talk with them, at least I never know it. In fact, I find most of my telephone calls go just fine. And so I try to remember that each time I have to pick up the phone and make an appointment or cancel an appointment or place an order or ask a question. Still, when I get off the phone I feel a major sense of accomplishment. Phone calls are big deals on my to-do list, you see. They get like double credit. Writing magazine queries, buying groceries, doing my income taxes - those are small potatoes. But calling the vet to schedule shots for my dog - that's a major accomplishment and I check that baby off my list and treat myself to a Diet Coke!

Ok. I've confessed my quirky eccentricity. I bet you have a few too. Fortunately, mine isn't debilitating or harmful to others and hopefully yours aren't either. If you have a chance, tell me about yours in a comment. It'd make me feel so much better. Meanwhile, I've got to find my to-do list so I can check off those phone calls I made today. They were doozies and I deserve a nap now!

Monday, August 4, 2008

They're Just Shoes - Aren't They?

Big boo boo! I cleaned my son's Converse All Star high tops this morning! Now I didn't put them in the washer or anything. We learned that lesson the hard way about a year ago. The pair we ran through the washer and dryer never were the same again. So I wouldn't repeat that mistake again to save my life. But I just cleaned the shoes up a little. It occurred to me that if that little Mr. Clean bar that we use on our walls get scuff marks off walls so well, it would certainly remove the same scuff marks from the toes of his sneakers and the white trim around the edges of the shoes. I didn't touch the black high top canvas fabric. And guess what? That little magic square does a pretty good job of removing the black marks from the rubber parts of the shoe. By the time I had finished with them, those shoes looked mighty fine.

But I found out I'd made a huge mistake when I told my son, nonchalantly, that I had cleaned up his shoes for him. (He was having some portraits made in which his shoes just might show, so I had tidied them up for him.) Suddenly he turned into the Incredible Hulk. His eyes grew large and intense, the muscles all over his body tensed up and doubled in size and I think he even turned a little green. Now this Incredible Hulk didn't throw anything or lunge at me, fortunately, but he did growl! To skip over the dramatics that I experienced for the next 30 minutes and get straight to the point, suffice it to say that Daniel was greatly disappointed in me for cleaning his shoes.

Turns out, Daniel likes for his shoes to be dirty, scuffed up. And somehow those scuff marks, according to Daniel, are directly linked to his persona, his identity, his history, and, in short, his essence. Go figure. I had no idea. Just so you can better understand how traumatic an event this was for Daniel, let me give you a play by play of a snippet of the conversation.

Daniel: It'll take weeks to get those scuff marks back! I can't believe they're gone. I hiked mountains, worked at Target, and walked the halls of Buena to get those marks. They're a part of me!

Kay: Daniel, I'm sure you'll have them scuffed up again in a couple of days. Just take the shoes and wipe the bottom of one across the toes of the other!

Daniel: I can't believe you'd even say that! You're trivializing those marks!

Kay: I just thought you'd want them cleaned up for the you'll look nice.

Daniel: That's it! You don't want a picture of the real me; you want one of me with shoes that aren't even mine! You don't even like me.

Kay: (pause to figure out how we got here...) Daniel, I love you and thought I was doing you a favor. I just wanted you to be wearing clean shoes, so I thought that rather than make you wear some other shoes, I'd clean up your favorites so you could wear them. I promise you my intentions were good.

Well, I won't give you all the details of this crazy conversation. But you can surely see that we were talking from two completely different perspectives. I thought I had done a good deed and Daniel thought I was assaulted his essence!

Here's the thing I learned. By the way, my son probably doesn't think I learned anything from this. To hear him talk, I'm just the mean mama who looks for ways to ruin his day. But honestly, oh well, you've heard my side already...

Here's the thing I learned. (I'll try not to get sidetracked this time!) It's amazing the things we tie our identity to. For my son, his shoes speak volumes about him. He wears Converse high tops because he likes the old-fashioned style of them. But he also wants them to look lived in. That's important to him. For me, my jewelry is something that I think kind of identifies me. I want only silver and I like it to be kind of big and chunky. My silver charm bracelet is like the story of my life in miniatures. If someone were to try to "help me out" by turning all of my silver jewelry into more costly gold, I'd freak out too. I know gold is more valuable, but I don't want gold. I want silver. It's who I am.

Turns out, for most of us I think, the little things in our lives say a lot about us, or so we'd like to think they do. We like certain colors, textures, logos, and styles and we choose to wear, drive, carry, and live in them because we want the world at large to know who we are. We feel that in some small way even the perfume we put on or the color of our nails reveals something about the person within. And maybe it does.

At any rate, whether you can identify with this theory or not, I know my son can. And right now that is all that matters. I'm proud of who my son is - bright, witty, caring, godly, and full of unbridled potential. His Converse All Stars may not say all that, but I know that's who he is. While I'm still his mama and will continue to insist on cleanliness, order, and good manners, if he wants to keep his sneakers scuffed up, so be it. After all, they're just shoes. Right?
Daniel and his beloved Converse All Stars gathering scuff marks on the trail.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Shooting!

Well, Abby and I began our four year tradition of registering her for high school this Monday. Other than standing in long lines with hundreds of other newbies and their newbie parents, the day was fairly uneventful. She got what appears to be a great schedule and we didn't have to pull a "Daniel" and wait in line to beg a counselor for a schedule change. What a relief! The only snag that day was one we had already anticipated. The school nurse confirmed that Abby had to have a shot before she could go to school.

So on Tuesday I sent James and Abby out the door bright and early to get her shot at the county health department. Meanwhile, I headed to the next town over to get my hair cut. Unfortunately James and Abby forgot to take her shot records with them and by the time they came home and returned to the shot clinic, the line was too long and she couldn't get her shot that morning. You know what that means. I had to take her back in the afternoon.

Now the reason I sent James with Abby in the first place is that she doesn't do very well with shots and I thought she might do better for him than for me. Now my plan was foiled. Abby and I headed off for the afternoon shot clinic a little after 12:00. The clinic didn't begin until 1:00, but I had a sneaking suspicion that we needed to get there early. Sure enough, they put out the numbers for the clinic at 12:30 and they were gone by 12:35. We got number 6 and continued to wait among all the other restless kids and tired parents. I decided the wait was far worse than any shot could be, but who was I to decide this? Abby was the one facing the needle.

When they called our number I had to take some completed forms and Abby's shot record to the front desk. This is where I got the bad news. Abby needed not one, but two shots. In fact, they highly suggested two more shots for a total of four. Sorry, but I know my daughter and I knew there was no way she could endure four shots after sitting there for an hour and a half. She might get up and storm out when I told her she needed two, in fact! But, alas, she didn't. She took the news like a trooper and we continued to wait.

Now I get to the real point of my story. You see Abigail desperately hates needles. She doesn't just dislike the pain. She can't stand the thought of the needle going into her skin. She has major, major problems with shots and blood tests. The only thing I can liken this fear to is my own dislike of possums. Yes, you read correctly, possums. I can't stand possums. Of course I am not required by law to go anywhere near a possum on a regular basis, so I don't have to deal with my fear very much. But if someone did require me to sit down and hold two possums for even a few seconds, I am sure I would behave much the same way Abby did when she had to sit down for two shots. I would try to beg off, whimper, whine, and shake. That's exactly what Abby did. She tried to be brave, bless her heart, but she just had a terrible time of it.

That was the one downside, I figured, to taking her to a crowded public health clinic for her shots. Would the nurses be frazzled, impatient, and even mean? You know the typical caricature of a public health nurse? I was a little concerned. But guess what? Turns out two of the nicest nurses I've ever met gave Abby her shots. (That's right, I said two. Though technically the second one didn't have to do anything. She just popped in, I assume, because she could hear the tears and whining and knew something was up. She just talked to us and tried to distract Abby a little.) As a mom, I was so grateful for nice, caring, professional, and empathetic public health care nurses. Who would have thought? Abby took far more than her allotted time to receive her shots, but the nurses didn't seem bothered by that at all. Even when I apologized for taking so much time and tried to hurry Abigail along, they hushed me and assured Abby that she could take as long as she needed. I felt sorry for all the folks still in the waiting room, but I felt so grateful for two nurses who were completely focused on helping my daughter work through her fears. What a blessing.

Just goes to show you, blessings can pop up in the most unexpected places. In fact, that's what makes them blessings to begin with, I suppose. We left that day thankful that Abigail doesn't have to have another shot for 10 more years, unless we opt for the other two optional shots they recommended. I'd kind of like for her to get them, but right now we've done all the shots we can handle. (Before you write me a comment telling me I should get her those shots, consider whether you're willing to go with my extremely needle-phobic daughter to get them! I'm telling you, it will wear you out!) We ended the day with a trip to Starbucks (whatever happened to ice cream?) and headed home for naps. Blessing, yes. But very stressful still!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The End of a Tradition

Daniel and I closed out one of our favorite traditions with a bang Wednesday. We went through our final registration for high school. Three years ago we registered him for his freshman year at Buena High School and this week we signed up and paid for all the frills of his senior year. My, how time flies.

Because Daniel can't do hardly anything the normal way, we had to sit in the line to see the counselor for a schedule change all four years. Some years we got just what we asked for, some years we got more than what we asked for and this year we got nothing we asked for. Oh well. Each year we paid out a small fortune in fees - band, tennis team, science labs, music theory (we still don't know what that money paid for), parking permit, and a year book. And each year he received a locker that was no where near even one of his classes. As the years passed we grew more and more familiar with the process, the people, and the policies. In the beginning Daniel had nothing good to say about Buena and I felt like we were on a constant uphill climb to navigate the school's policies or lack thereof. But this year Daniel speaks highly of his school and is looking forward to beginning his senior year, not so much because he is glad for high school to be coming to a close, but because he really enjoys it.

Wednesday was not only our last time to go through the registration process; it was a reminder of how much God has done in Daniel's life during the past three years. We moved here with great amounts of hesitation, fear, and skepticism. It was a hard move and some of the circumstances at Buena didn't make it any easier. But God made a way. He is good and faithful to always make a way. Right now Daniel is in the top 4% of his class, has numerous friends, is liked by his teachers, and enjoys his life. I do not exaggerate when I say I stand amazed. You have no idea. I am proud of my son, but more importantly, I'm thrilled with my God.

Daniel and I closed out Wednesday's ritual with one more very important tradition. All four years of his high school career we wound up our registration day by going to Pizza Hut for the buffet. The only difference this year was that Daniel, my wonderful, grown up, responsible, wage earning son, paid for lunch!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vacation's Over!

We're home from vacation! Our family spent a week with my parents and my brother and his family, celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We ate out, took lots of pictures, went to Six Flags, and "visited" a lot. We had a blast. And I'm so proud of my parents for enjoying 50 years of marriage. More on that near their actual anniversary date in August!

But not only did we enjoy visiting with family; we enjoyed just some time off and time away. It's always good to take a break from normal. Not that normal is bad. Our normal is very fulfilling and good. But a change of scenery and pace is often needed to jump start our souls a little. We had that and it was good.

Now we're back to normal. James and I take our walks around the city parks each morning, I feed the dogs and he waters the plants, I eat breakfast and drink my coffee while reading my Bible, he hurries off to work where he has his quiet time and prepares his messages. Meanwhile the kids sleep. They do eventually get up and do their normal things too! Of course normal also means paying bills, doing laundry, cooking dinner, writing queries and articles, and running errands. Some of it is a blast, some of it is a drag. In the end it all balances out and the good outweighs the bad! Normal.

While I love vacation and could use a few more weeks of it, I am thankful for a very good normal. I'm glad that we returned to a nice home, a full schedule, a mail box full of mail, friends we enjoy, and jobs we feel called to. We are not sick or in want or lonely or injured or scared about where our next meal will come from. We are, in fact, blessed.

Yes, the vacation may be over, but normal isn't so bad either. In fact it is good.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eggplant Results

Well, that lady's eggplant must have been squashed! The digital imaging may be better for giving a more accurate picture, but it is no more comfortable. However, my hat is off to the folks at our hospital's mammography center. They were polite, gentle, and fast. I was in and out before I was even supposed to be in! And I left with deodorant on because they had little complimentary deodorant wipes to use after you had your test. Thank you. That may be about the worst thing about eggplant day, not wearing deodorant or perfume or lotion prior to the screening.

By the way, my screening was perfectly normal and I am celebrating good health today!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's Eggplant Day

Several weeks ago, as I was standing in line at the grocery store check out counter, I encountered a lady who was buying an eggplant and a few other items. I don't really know why, but I asked her what she was going to do with the eggplant. I explained that I had never bought an eggplant and was curious to know how she prepared it. Turns out she wasn't planning on preparing it at all. She was a mammographer and was going to use the eggplant to practice using the new digital imaging machine that the hospital had just gotten for taking mammograms! I really didn't know if that should comfort me or worry me, but I figured if a vegetable could withstand the pressure exerted from this machine I could too.

Well today I am going to find out! It's mammogram day for me. This is not a day I look forward to, but my hope is that with the newer, gentler digital machine I will have less to fear. Of course, it's not just the pain of the squashing most of us fear about mammograms. Perhaps like me you worry about the unknown, the possibility of finding out some bad news. About 9 years ago when I had my first mammogram my doctor called me with unsettling news. I ended up having to have a sonogram and a biopsy. Nothing was wrong after all, but it wasn't a fun ride!

I say all this to say, "Get your mammogram!" No, it's not a pleasant experience and you may even get some unpleasant news, but it allows you to walk in the light instead of the dark. It gives you the info you need to take care of yourself and live. And if an eggplant can take it, so can you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

She's Going to High School

Well, it's official. My baby will be going to high school in August. She graduated from the eighth grade of our Christian Academy last Tuesday and she even looked like a high schooler that night. I am very proud of my little girl. She is growing into quite the young lady. Not only is she beautiful, but she is compassionate, tender-hearted, self-motivated, bright, and lovely to be with.

I accidentally mentioned school to her last Wednesday (the day after graduation) and she immediately reprimanded me. Abby doesn't like to talk about school at all between the last day of one year and the first day of the next term. She wants a complete sabbatical. But I warned her that this summer would not quite be that way. "Look," I said. "You're starting high school this fall at a very large public school. You better believe we are going to have a few discussions between now and then! We won't start today or even tomorrow, but we are going to talk about high school before August 5th!" (That's when she starts - August 5th - can you believe how early school starts these days!)

Daniel has navigated high school so well. I just want Abby to play it as smart. Make good, solid friends, keep her grades up, stay active and motivated, participate in activities, and stay true to herself! If you know Abby, or even if you don't but you have a little empathy for me, would you please pray for her occasionally this summer. Pray that she will choose friends wisely, that she'll get off to a good start academically, and that God will protect her from those who might hurt her in any way. Thanks so much!

Abby and me celebrating her completion of the 8th grade. Always the drama queen!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Time for Summer Reading

Well it's officially summer at my house. The temperature has soared to the 90s this week (don't worry, we're supposed to be back in the 70s by the weekend!), the kids are getting out of school, and I'm in the mood for lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Summer also means reading for me. The only two times during the year that I do a lot of reading is summer and Christmas vacation.

This summer our women's ministry is trying a sort of book club. We're offering three different books for women to read at their own pace. They can order and read one book, two, or all three. Then on July 26th we're having a breakfast for all the readers, and afterwards each woman can attend one of the three discussion groups for the book of her choice. We're calling it Breakfast & Books. I got the idea from

The three books we've selected for the WOW Breakfast & Books club are Max Lucado's It's Not About Me, Philip Yancy's What's So Amazing About Grace?, and Lynn Austin's Hidden Places.
I've read the Lucado and Austin books and I can recommend them highly. I'm reading Yancy's book for the first time this summer and I'll also be leading the discussion group for that book. If you'd like to join me and the ladies of my church in reading these books, I've got them on a bookshelf in the right hand margin of this blog page. Just click on the book(s) of your choice and you will be directed to a link where you can read comments and purchase the book. Hope you'll read along with us and let me know what you think. In fact, I'll take all the comments I receive on any of these three books, put them in a hat for a drawing and I'll send another favorite book to the lucky winner: Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild. I'll award the prize on July 27th, the day after our breakfast!

Happy reading!

PS - let me know what you're reading this summer. I'm always on the hunt for a few good books.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Where I'd Rather Be

Today I'm working hard at the computer all day. I got behind on my devos last week because I was ill for two days, went out of town for a day with my family and then had to devote a lot of time to the women's event on Saturday. So I'm probably going to miss my deadline, which is today. But I'm trying to at least get everything done by tomorrow because my parents are coming for a visit then! At any rate, I thought I'd post a picture of where I'd rather be today-on the Appalachian Trail! I hiked a portion of it just about this time last year with my best friend, Kim, and my favorite aunt, Ida. We had a blast and can't wait to do it again next year!

My Aunt Ida, myself, and Kim right before we put our packs on our back and hit the trail. Notice our hair still looks really good. It started to rain just minutes later and our hair never looked good again - for four days!

Me and Kim toward the end of the backpacking trip. I know this because Kim has on her knee brace that a kind hiker had given her on the last night. She pulled something in her knee that made the last two days of hiking very difficult for her.

Me and Aunt Ida on an ascent or descent, can't really tell. After all, it was one ascent and descent after another! Just beautiful too! We could see forever!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Quote Worthy

Hey, it turns out I've been quoted in an article on the web - the first time ever, I do believe! Granted, I think they took what I said a little out of context and used it a little unfairly, but whatever. If you're interested to see it, check it out here. What a hoot! You might want to check out my article from which they quoted me for yourself. It's right here.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bound to be a Blessing

Another fun fellowship with the women of my church! This one was not only fun, but quite meaningful. We were kicking off a year of concentrating on ministry opportunities. I talked with the ladies about not only giving big, but giving small. Here's the basic outline:
  1. The biggest gifts are often wrapped in small packages - Matthew 25:31-40- parable of the sheep and goats (teaches me I need to be on the lookout for little ways I can serve, lend a hand, or give. It may be a little thing to me, but it may mean a lot to the one I'm helping.)
  2. A small gift sometimes costs a whole lot more than a big gift - Luke 21:1-4 - the widow's gift of two tiny coins (I need to be prepared to sacrifice when I give. It may be a little thing, but it may cost me a lot.)
  3. Small gifts often open big doors - James 2:14-18 - (I need to be sensitive to people's most pressing needs. They may be big obstacles on the path to their salvation. Meeting those basic needs may open the door to sharing the gospel.)
Well, that's a very sketchy outline, but I think we were all motivated to give small! After all, as we discovered, giving small can be a really big thing.

At any rate, here are the pictures of our event. Fun and beautiful! Kudos to our women's ministry team and all their hard work!

Each place setting included one of these lovely flower-cookies created by Rosita.

Decorations: Yellow, orange & green pompoms hung from the ceiling. Freshly potted flowers served as centerpieces and doorprizes.

Check out the slide show to the right for more photos!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Precious Grace

Today I had to grovel. Is that how you spell it? I'm not sure, but I did it. I figuratively got down on my hands and knees and begged for a huge favor. And trust me, only a desperate and extremely loving mom would do such a thing when her son is the one who should have been groveling.

Daniel missed the deadline for registering for his all important AP Music Theory test. I was livid. He certainly had plenty of notice, according to the counselor who was the object of my groveling. I do not in any way hold this woman responsible for Daniel's irresponsible behavior (and I told her so at least a dozen times!). But I'm a mom who wants good for her son and so I begged for her to show a little grace. After two phone calls, getting choked up several times, and finally expressing that "my son is very bright, at the top of his Music Theory class, and he is not only trying to get in to college; he is trying to get scholarships...because I can't afford to pay for it myself..." the wonderful woman on the other end of the line showed a little mercy.

She took my number and promised to call me back within 30 minutes. I have no idea what she did during those 30 minutes, but I attribute that precious time to her putting a little grace on the table. She owed us nothing, but she got off the phone and went to bat for me and my son. She called me back in less than the 30 minutes and offered to let Daniel sign up for the test if he got his money in first thing in the morning. I thanked and praised and adored her over and over. She gave me a lecture about how parents have to let their children go and no one is going to extend deadlines for him in the real world... and I just listened with humility. That's hard for me, but that's how grace is accepted - humbly.

This all serves as a huge reminder to me of the grace we are shown over and over by our precious Savior. We don't even have to gravel; we just have to come to Him with a recognition of our need for a little grace and accept it humbly. Amazing. In fact, just recently I made the off the cuff remark that certain Christian songs like Amazing Grace are over done. In fact, if you'll notice, it's true that most TV shows portray churches and Christian groups singing Amazing Grace because I suppose it's the only hymn the producers know. That still irks me a little, but I take back what I said. You can never "over do" Amazing Grace. After all, grace is always amazing - whether it comes from a school counselor showing an irresponsible student a little mercy or whether it shows up in the beautiful words, "You're forgiven." Grace should amaze the recipient every time.

I don't know if Daniel's counselor is a Christian, but somehow God used her to hand me the gift of grace today. Not only that, her gift has inspired me to show a little grace to others as well. After all, we're all quite irresponsible when you get right down to it. And only a little grace can fix some of our irresponsible mistakes. Thank God for grace.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Faking It

Do you ever have to do anything that you feel like you're just "faking your way through?" I spent the better part of my day filling out spreadsheets on Excel for my Women's Ministry budget and calendaring process. Believe me, I had no idea what I was doing! But in the end, I do believe I produced a product that made me look quite proficient at Excel. Of course, those who peruse my forms will never know about all the times I just had to quit the form I was working on, scratch everything I'd done up to that point and start all over again simply because I didn't know how to just back up one step. No, I had to start over! But they'll never know...
Come to think of it, I fake my way through a lot of things in life. Sometimes I still feel like a little girl who's just pretending to be an adult. For instance, I'm not sure I load my dishwasher correctly. Is there a right way to load your dishwasher? If there is I never learned it and I'm just faking my way through the whole dishwasher thing every day. I'm not sure I make the bed the right way, I doubt I bathe my dogs correctly, and I have no idea if I'm using the right cleaners and polishes and soaps on all my furniture, appliances, windows, and fixtures. Worst of all, every time I go to the store to buy simple things like hairspray or shampoo or mascara I have to read all the labels and try to figure out what in the world it is I need from these beauty products. Other women seem to just know these things, but maybe they're just faking it too.
I remember Tom Hanks (or was it Meg Ryan) saying on You've Got Mail that Starbucks simply presents those who can't make a simple decision in any other area with the opportunity to make one very clear and concise decision each morning so that they'll feel like they know what they're doing rest of the day (or something like that). I find that amazingly true. I take great satisfaction in ordering my "grande, decaf, iced, caramel machiatto with fat free milk." But the best part of all is when they call your order back to you after they've finished making it and you walk up to the counter to get it, feeling like everyone around you must be so impressed that you managed to order such a specific beverage! And yet, you know you're just faking it. You only managed to order such a sophisticated drink because it's the same one you always order and if you had to order something else you'd be up a creek!
The good news is, I don't have to fake it with my God. He knows me too well and when I stupidly try to fake it with Him, I can almost see Him shaking His head and chuckling at me. He doesn't condemn me for it, He just gets tickled at my silliness. So I don't try to fake it with Him very much. And what a relief that is. I can sputter and second guess and shrug my shoulders in confusion over and over and He loves me just the same. He knows what He's doing, so I don't have to. But I don't have to fake it either. What a blessing!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stages of Development

Yesterday in my MOPS group (for which I am a been-there-done-that Mentor Mom) my friend Elaine shared with the moms about the stages of development their young children will go through, how to gage their child's progress and what to do when they hit a bump in the road. I wish I had received such wise advice as Elaine gave when I was raising my preschoolers. She reminded moms that they are their child's number one teacher and advocate - they know their children better than anyone else. She also reminded them of the power of a mom. "Let your face light up each time your child walks in the room," she said. "Your children notice this and it boosts them tremendously. Children, even adult children, crave their mother's approval."

As I listened to Elaine's presentation and later took part in a small discussion group on the same topic, I kept silent for the most part. When the moms talked about their favorite stage of development and their least favorite stage, I held my tongue. Those days seem like so long ago; I didn't really have the right to put in my two cents. I remember when my children were that young feeling like they would be young forever. I couldn't see past diapers, nursing, tiny tennis shows, sippy cups, and plump little cheeks. I watched anxiously for my children to roll over, crawl, cruise around the furniture and then walk. I listened for first words, sentences, original thoughts, and questions. I watched their feet grow longer and their hair grow coarser. I heard their voices change and measured their weight gains. But that was the limit of my knowledge of developmental stages. Sure, I knew in the back of my mind that they would grow into school aged children, teenagers and eventually adults. But those stages scared me, so I gave them little thought.

But as I sat among these young moms yesterday, I held a precious secret close to my heart, careful not to share it at the inappropriate time. They were relishing the sweet innocence and even the seemingly huge struggles of raising babies and preschoolers. I wasn't about to burst their pastel colored bubbles. Still, I smiled because I know the hurdles and the tremendous victories that lie ahead of these moms, even though they've probably given them little thought...and they don't need to yet.

My children are tall. They are both as tall or taller than me. They wear big clothes that cause me to have to wash many loads of laundry each week. At times they smell really strange (both the clothes and my children!). Their toys are no longer strewn over the family room floor, but they litter my office and the kitchen counter - things like Ipods, multiple purses, tennis rackets, cell phones, CDs, novels, and car keys. Little shoes no longer hide in hard to find places. Instead I trip over their big shoes and wish they were tucked away out of sight. While my children seemingly need me less, their presence in our home has not diminished, but grown.

My kids continue to grow through stages of development and these stages cause me just as much worry and stress as potty training and introducing new foods. (In fact, we're still introducing new foods!) We've been through the "she's not my friend anymore" stage and the "well, of course we're still friends" stage. We've shaved for the first time, talked about "becoming a woman", become a woman, talked about why we don't use words that "everybody else" uses, learned to select clothes that are "appropriate" in the junior department (Lord, help!), and learned to write thank you notes. My kids are in stages right now - some that I hope stick and others that I pray every night will be gone by the next morning. I would never tell those Mothers of Preschoolers about the angry stage, the "I don't like you" stage, the "come home and go in your room and close the door" stage, the dirty clothes all over the floor stage, the clean clothes all over the floor stage, the "I'll get a haircut next week" stage, the learning to drive stage, the "You don't understand me" stage, the "Could you just give me the money you'd spend on me and let me stay home from the family vacation?" stage or the stage where they can't seem to wake up to an alarm clock to save their life! But fortunately these difficult stages are off set and put into glorious perspective with some wonderful stages: the stage where the 17-year-old boy still wants to hold your hand while you walk along, the stage where the 14-year-old girl spontaneously tells you she loves you and when you ask what she did wrong (because she must have done something wrong!) she looks at you blankly and sincerely says "nothing." You get to look forward to the day the older brother tells the younger sister, who is about to enter high school, that she needs to be her own person and not follow the crowd. And you get to anticipate the day your teenage daughter actually agrees with your selection of an appropriate and lovely Easter dress.

Right now I ache for my children to get through some stages successfully. I want my daughter to realize that it's ok to wear the same dress to church twice in the span of one month. I want my son to not be offended by questions. I want my children to realize money doesn't grow on trees and it's not going to grow at all if you keep spending it so quickly. I'm trying to teach them to be more respectful, more appreciative, more loving, and more concerned about others. They're getting there...slowly.

Indeed, stages don't end when your child enters kindergarten. The hurdles just get bigger, harder, more challenging, and sometimes more glorious. But I see no need to share this somewhat daunting information with mothers of preschoolers. They'll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, I count my blessings every time I see my children pass another milestone. They're growing up...still.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Today I had the opportunity to talk with my MOPS group about "Life After Preschoolers." What a thrill - not only because I always enjoy sharing time with these young moms, but because we got to hash out a subject close to my heart. I still remember how confusing and difficult it was for me to decide what I should do once my daughter started to kindergarten.

Well, we discussed the matter for over an hour, so I'm not going to try to cover the whole conversation here and now. But I'll give you a few of the nuggets we all walked away with:

  • It's a myth that "I can have it all!" The truth is "I may get to have it all, but probably not all at the same time. And I may not ever get to have it all!" But you know, life is not about me getting it all. It's not about acquiring possessions, or success, or degrees, or positions. Life is about fulfilling God's plan for me. There is nothing sweeter or more completing than that!
  • Whatever else I may be, I am first and foremost, a servant to my family. Wow! That sounds really demeaning, but the truth is that Jesus told us the greatest position we can ever hold is that of a servant. And Titus 2:5 tells me I am to be a keeper of my home. I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and do it in a snazzy Channel suit, but part of my God-given purpose is to serve my family and keep my home. If I don't do that well, that bacon grease is going to start smelling!
  • I need to have a plan. If I stay home and do not work full-time, I'll need to plan what I am going to do so that I stay industrious, productive, and frugal! If I work outside the home, I need to plan for how I'll take care of my home, my children, the pets, etc. Without a plan, I'm just asking for frustration. With a plan, I'll be more likely to fulfill God's plan with creativity and style!
  • My children need me no matter what age they are. Parenting does not end when my children enter kindergarten. In fact, for me, it just began at that point. I love my children more now than I ever did when they were toddling around in diapers. They were darling then, but they have so much personality, potential, and promise now. I love spending time just listening to Daniel play his guitar and I'm thrilled to watch Abigail light up a stage. I'm mad about them and I intend to give them my very best every day. With teenagers, that often means I have to be available when they're ready "to let me in a little." I urged moms to stay available no matter what career path they take. It's worth it.
  • Be true to yourself. If God leads you to work full-time, make a plan for your family and do it with gusto! If you feel led to work part-time to bring in a little extra income (like I do), work out that balance and go for it! And if God keeps you at home where you can keep the home fires burning 'round the clock, make no apologies and enjoy! As long as you and your husband are in agreement, you need explain your decision to no one else. Don't let the world's standards get you down and don't let any elitist group make you feel "less than." You just be true to yourself.
Transitions are tough aren't they? But they're oh so necessary. They're what propels us forward many times. Instead of dreading the transition staring at you - whether it be preschoolers entering kindergarten, children heading off to college, or grandchildren entering the world - count it as a blessing. God has a plan. And it's good!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Blast Through the Past

Friday night the women's ministry of our church hosted a spectacular event called "A Journey Through the Decades." It was a real hit, so I want to share it with you, gentle reader.

We had over 100 ladies ranging in age from 22 to 96 gather for a fun evening of reminiscing over the decades of our lives and sharing a delicious meal. All the ladies sat at tables specified for their birth decade. For instance, I sat at one of four tables for ladies born in the 1960s. Our four tables were decorated with tie-dyed fabric and one of the icons from the 60s, the bright yellow smiley face. We were given the option of dressing in the fashions of our decade and several of the ladies born in the 60s wore peasant blouses, love beads, mod pants, head bands, and go-go boots. We were a scream!

We had designated tables for ladies born in each decade from 1910 to 1980. The earlier decade tables were mostly decorated with antiques and photos, wartime memorabilia, and pretty laces. The 50s donned an old-fashioned record player, LPs, and a hilarious beehive wig. The 70s tables displayed album covers from that decade and lava lamps. And the 80s centerpieces were collections of McDonald's Happy Meal toys and other bright colored memorabilia from that decade.

The "costumes" were lively and hilarious. Many did an excellent job of typifying the colors, hairstyles, shoes, and accessories of their decade. The funny thing is, many of the "costumes" were actually retro clothing that is fashionable even today!

We had a delicious pasta meal prepared by our youth minister, Dennis Houston, and his crew. We topped it off with a variety of cheesecakes. After dinner we took a stroll down memory lane with trivia questions from each decade and decade-appropriate prizes for the best costumes from each time period. Then came the highlight of the night.

Several of our oldest ladies had agreed to be interviewed about how God had been faithful to them through the decades of their lives. One hundred ladies listened with awe and appreciation as beautiful women in their 80s and 90s told of how God had walked them through victories and losses in their lives. They were absolutely splendid. What a testimony for the younger women in our church! We so rarely slow down long enough to hear anyone else's story, much less the stories of those who are decades older than us. We may even begin to think that what they have to say would be irrelevant to us. Shame on us. These lovely ladies have so much to offer.

The thing about this particular event is, besides be beautifully decorated and fun, it provided our women an opportunity to "get together" like never before. While we sat, ate, and visited mostly with women our own ages, we gained an appreciation for the women older and younger than ourselves. We saw them grouped in their distinct generations, remembered the world as it was when they were born, and walked away feeling a little more connected because, after all, we're all women. When you consider the world the women of the 10s and 20s were born into and the decades they have traveled through as they grew up, married, and raised their families, and then compare that life to the lives led by our ladies born in the 80s, you appreciate the different vantage points from which we assess life. You see that each generation would only logically have different perspectives, dreams, and, yes, hang-ups. But you also see that each generation is valuable, strong, beautiful and important to the next generations. We all have a story, shaded by our generation and the world as we have known it, but unique to us individually.

Enough of my pontificating! I want you to see how fun this event was! Enjoy the pics and let me know what you think. I'm including a few here and a slide show over to the right. If you're interested in hosting an event like this, let me know and I can provide more details.

Me in my retro 60s coat I bought at Dillards just last week for my birthday.

Stephanie interviews Vi and Evelyn, two of our oldest ladies. They were a hoot!

Girls of the 80s.

Stephanie (70s), Me (60s) & Dawn (70s)

Abby was born in the 90s but digs the 70s.

Amira decorated the 60s tables.

Jessica is a child of the 80s.

Katie sports the beehive wig that served as a centerpiece for a 50s table.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's a Dog's Life!

We watched one of my very favorite old movies last night. I had found it accidentally at Hastings the other night and was beside myself with joy! I have not seen this movie since before Daniel was born (over 17 years ago) and had decided I must have dreamed it up because I never saw anything about it again and no one seemed to have heard of it either. The name of the movie is "If a Man Answers" and it stars Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin. While many would consider it quite old fashioned and maybe even chauvinistic, I think it's charming!

The movie tells the story of Chantal (Sandra Dee) and her quest to be a good wife to Mr. Wright (Bobby Darin). Her mother, a lovely French woman, gives her wise, but hilarious advice. Included in this advice is her tip to treat her husband like a dog. She even gives her a well-worn book about training man's best friend. At first Chantal is repulsed by the idea of training her husband as she would a dog, but her savvy mother convinces her that many people actually treat their pets better than a husband. I think she's got something there! Chantal proceeds to teach her "pet" to come on command, do as he is told, and follow her "on a leash" by employing a few dog training techniques. She rewards her husband profusely, speaks firmly but gently to him, and makes obedience worth his while!

Now, lest you think I believe men are nothing but dogs, think again. Chantal treats her husband extremely well. In fact, Chantal's mother has told her on her wedding day, "Do not go into love demanding that it not disappoint you. Do not disappoint love." (Of course she says it with a smooth French accent!) She's telling Chantal, you see, to be a giver and not a taker in her marriage. And if you consider the advice carefully you will see that indeed the pet owner who wants an obedient, controlled, and affectionate dog is one who gives love and attention to his pet, provides all of his basic needs, and is consistent and trustworthy. Isn't that what is needed in a good marriage as well?

Marriage is a blessing, but it can be a bit testy too. It requires selflessness, being aware of the other person's needs, being consistent, and giving lots of love and attention, even when you don't feel like it. Like Chantal in "If a Man Answers," I've found that the happiness I get in my marriage is more directly correlated to how I treat my husband than to how he treats me. If I'm constantly holding out my empty cup and expecting him to fill it, I'm going to be disappointed. But if I get my cup filled from the One who always has living water to spare (John 4:13-14) and then I generously give from the overflow to my husband, we're both satisfied and no one is pouting over unmet, unrealistic expectations. This is a lesson I have learned, but, I must admit, I do not always practice it!

Now my little movie won't fix major marriage problems, but if you're just struggling with a little resentment, weariness, or boredom in your marriage, consider hunting down "If a Man Answers." I found it at Hastings. Pop the video in, pop some popcorn, and plop down on the sofa with your honey. I think you'll find it charming and fun. The women's clothes are fun too! Let me know what you think of the movie!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm Starving!

Just thought everyone should know that I am starving! Like most Americans in the month of February, I am trying to lose a few pounds before spring. I've actually never tried quite as hard as I am right now. Usually I just pump up my exercise efforts a little bit, but continue to eat whatever I darn please. Not this time. This time I've really cut back on eating. I'm watching my fat and calorie intake and increasing my fiber, protein, and calcium intakes. Meanwhile, I am walking really fast most every day I possibly can. I'm starving! Did I tell you that already? (No, I'm not literally starving and you don't need to worry that I'm not eating enough. That has never been a problem with me. I'm eating every calorie I'm allowed, believe me!)

So today the greatest blessings to me seem to be things like mealtime, legal snacks, bedtime, and slightly looser waistbands. I'm thrilled with things like tomato soup, crystal light, double fiber bread, coffee with fat-free creamer, and fruit. I'm starving!

Funny thing is that I haven't really craved the foods that I can't have - chocolate, cake, cookies, cheese, etc. (Have you noticed that you can't eat anything that starts with a C when dieting? - Cake, Cookies, Cheese, Creamed Potatoes, Canelloni, Custard!) Sure I'd love to have some of those. But what I crave is simply more of what I can have - more skim milk, more salad, more fiber rich bagels, more yogurt, etc. Interesting. That makes me think of another possibility. Could it be that if we put ourselves on a steady and healthy diet of God's Word, prayer, meditation, worship, and ministry, that we would also crave more of those wonderful things, instead of craving the unhealthy things of this world - TV shows, silly novels, clothes, beauty products, etc.? I have a feeling a steady diet of godliness breeds a greater desire for godliness. Why don't we all give it a try and see what happens. Our waist bands may not shrink any, but I bet we'll all be able to say with a holy shout, "I'm starving!" and God will smile, nod His head and say, "Now that's My kind of diet!" And then He'll gladly give us our daily bread. Fortunately we can have all of that kind of bread we want and never gain a pound. What a blessing!

Hey, I'm starving!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Yesterday we began our Winter/Spring semester of Bible studies for our women's ministry at church. I have the privilege of teaching two classes full of wonderful women - one in the morning and one in the evening. Yesterday we began "Lord, Teach Me to Pray" by Kay Arthur. While I started out teaching Precept Bible studies about 17 years ago, it's been about 4 years since I last taught one, so it's nice to see Kay on my video screen again. I've missed her. Later in the semester we'll shift gears just a tad and do Priscilla Shirer's "Discerning the Voice of God." I think this is a great combo because first we're learning to talk to God, then we'll learn to hear from Him! What do you think?!

I absolutely love teaching Bible studies. Never do I feel more alive, more useful, more humbled, and more joyful than when I am teaching the Bible, in whatever format. But I do love teaching my Wednesday groups (we call them WOW Wednesdays because our women's ministry is called Women of Worth) the best. I get to know them, they talk back, and they treat me so well. I've been teaching 1-3 Bible studies almost continuously for 17 years and I have had the complete privilege of studying with so many interesting, godly and lovely women. They have blessed me to pieces and I can't get enough! I have watched women be absolutely transformed by the Word of God. I have watched women deal with the grief of losing a spouse, suffer through chemotherapy treatments, struggle through a divorce, and ache over prodigal children, all while hanging onto every concept God was teaching them through His Word. I have watched Him be their anchor. I have also watched newby Christians become mature in their faith. I've seen enthusiastic new converts invite their friends to find what they had found. And I've watched mothers bring daughters and daughters-in-law into the wonderful world of Bible study. What a joy!

I am praying for great things to happen to these 50+ women I am teaching on Wednesday. I know God has so much in store for them. I am praying that they will keep their commitments to study each day, to draw near to Him daily. I am praying for teachable spirits, for we all have some hang-ups we need to deal with. And I am praying for results, life-changing results. That's the kind of God we have and that's how powerful His Word is.

Monday, January 14, 2008

No Plain Jane

Tonight Abby and I watched a wonderful Jane Austen movie on Masterpiece Theater. The movie was based on Austen's Persuasion, a powerful story of the battle between love and external influences. I found it hard to believe the producers could do justice to one of Austen's novels in just 1 1/2 hours when it took a whole series some years ago to tell the story of Pride and Prejudice. However, I was quite pleased with the results. The movie was beautiful and stuck close to the author's intent.

The amazing thing is that Austen, a woman who never married, lived a rather sheltered life, and died in her early 40s could have written with such keen perception and an unparalleled grasp of human nature. While her books often depict characters who are shallow and petty, Austen herself must have been extremely thoughtful, imaginative, and deep. Reading her books or watching the movies based on them gives you the opportunity to do far more than see how people lived in the late 1700s to early 1800s. It gives you a glimpse into their minds, some provocatively deep and others pitifully vain and empty. How did she do that?

Amazingly Jane Austen never enjoyed her own success. Unless she has a window from heaven, she has no idea of her fame. Her books continue to be read with fervor and appreciation hundreds of years after she has passed on from a seemingly insignificant life. That makes me wonder about the impact we are making on this earth now. Could it be that some of us are accomplishing far more than we could know at this point? Could it be that we are raising children who will be leaders, inventors, teachers, preachers, or scientists of unique stature? Or perhaps we are writing words that will one day touch a heart and the next touch a nation. Maybe we are building buildings, chartering organizations, or educating students that will continue to make a great mark on the future. Who knows?

This one thing I do know: we leave a print behind. Whether that print be small and almost unnoticeable, huge and hard-to-miss, or somewhat ordinary but unique all the same, we leave our mark on this world. Some of us leave more positive marks behind while others leave scars. A few of us set out to make a specific mark, but most of us just leave prints behind somewhat accidentally, like the fingerprints on my sliding glass door. Still they are marks.

Considering that you have no way of knowing what lasting impact you may be making on this world today, I encourage you to at least leave a holy mark - a mark of godliness in an ungodly world. May you and I determine to leave no marks behind that will cause pain or embarrassment, but only marks of love, kindness, grace, hope, and truth. And then, like Jane Austen, we may have the opportunity to inspire the generations to come with the simple things we did to the glory of God.

P.S. check out the rest of the Masterpiece Theater productions of the Jane Austen works at
They run through April 6th and are well worth watching.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Loose Ends

Do you ever feel like you just have "stuff" hanging out there, ever which way? Unfinished business that just hangs on you like a skirt that's losing it's hem? It seems to me that about five or six times each year I find myself with loose ends all around. I wake up thinking of all the little things I've got to do that day, but I know even then that many of them will remain undone when I go to bed that night. The reason these ends remain loose is because of circumstances. You know how it goes. To check one thing off your list you have to call so-and-so to ask a few questions and then you have to go get a certain form, complete it and mail it off. But you can't get so-and-so to return your call. You're ready to complete the form, you have a stamp on the envelop already and you have the time to rush it to the post office, but so-and-so won't give you the time of day. You're stuck. Loose end number one remains.

To check off another item on your to-do list, you must gather a bunch of things up, load them in the car and haul them to their destination. But you can't find one of the things you need to load up. After combing over your entire house, you find the item in some strange place where someone in your family, whom we would never name on a blog site, has put it. You add the one last item to your pile in the car, trek across town to your destination, and, lo and behold, the place is closed. It's not supposed to be closed. It just is. So you head back home with your load and plan to try again next week when the sign says they'll reopen, but of course you won't. By then you've moved on to other things and that load will stay in your car until you open the trunk to put the next load in there for the next deposit. Then you'll realize you've had a loose end you weren't even aware of for three weeks. Mercy!

I have a tendency, in fact, to ride around with things in the back of my car for a good long while before I get them to where they belong. I just claim that I'm letting them marinate! I've carried baby gifts in the back of my van until the intended recipient was in kindergarten. I've toted dishes I needed to return to benevolent friends until they moved away. So I just add the dish to my cupboards instead. I've hauled pool noodles, beach towels and sunscreen around through the winter months. My children don't help the cause. We carried my daughter's backpack from school around in our van all the way through Christmas vacation. Every time she got out of the van she said she would get it out and take it into the house. She never did. So a few days before she was to return to school, I finally stopped asking. Oh well, like mother, like daughter. (However, I must add, for the sake of my mother who reads this blog, that my mom did not raise me that way. This flaw is purely my own and I place no blame on her!)

Another contributor to loose ends is piles. Do you have piles? I don't necessarily have huge piles, mind you. I guess I really just have stacks. (My mom does have stacks, by the way.) My son has piles. Here in my office, which I share with him and my daughter, he has piles of notebooks, books, papers, cds, and other strange stuff. I make him work through the piles occasionally, but he insists he needs all that stuff and the best place for it is right there. I'd clean out the piles myself, but that can be dangerous. My friend Kim recently cleaned out her teenage son's piles and accidentally threw away an important project for school. She spent the better part of one evening going through a yucky garbage pail to no avail. I'd rather live with the piles for a few more years.

But I digress. My loose ends are not the result of my son's piles. They are caused by my stacks. Just last week I found a bill that was a few days late in one of my stacks. At other times I have found money, birthday cards I thought I'd already mailed, invitations to events past and missed, and a variety of things I blamed my husband for losing. Loose ends, all stacked up neatly, but loose just the same.

Here's another reason I sometimes have loose ends. Interruptions. I get started writing an important e-mail to an editor and the dogs start barking. The UPS man has delivered a package. Well you can't just set an unopened package on the counter and continue writing your e-mail. I have to open the package. I find that it is a sweet gift from a sweet friend. I must call the sweet friend and thank her. She tells me about a new recipe she tried out on her family last night. I must write the recipe down. Come to think of it, let's have this new tasty dish tonight. I must go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients. I come home and prepare the dish. Life happens and now I must clean the kitchen, find my son a red shirt, take the dogs out, and take my daughter to play rehearsal. What e-mail? Just another loose end.

Now, sticking with the theme of this blog, I've got to find a blessing in this mess. It may be a stretch, but here goes. I'm glad to say that though I sometimes have loose ends all over the place, God has left no unfinished business when it comes to me. He promised a Messiah and He sent Him. Jesus lived a wondrously sinless life, taught me how to live, died on the cross for me and rose again. He finished the job. Because He left no loose ends I have assurance and hope. I can go to sleep at night a little frustrated that I didn't complete everything on my list, but I can rest because I know He did. He will never fail me or forsake me. He is not dependent on any other thing or person. His work in my life doesn't depend on someone returning His call. He doesn't allow stuff to accumulate either like I do in my van. He has dealt with my sins once and for all. And His Word says that what He has begun in me, He will see to completion (Philippians 1:6) He has paid the debt and He has sealed me with the Holy Spirit. Though He continues to work on me, He considers me a done deal, paid in full. Glory! Aren't you glad I'm not running things and He is? Just one more reason to be glad that He is God and I'm not. He's the Alpha, but He's also the Omega!