Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Mournful Death of Name and Integrity

Friday is my husband, Don's birthday. Two weeks ago Sarah celebrated hers. It occurred to me, several months ago, that it'd be a fun duo-gift, flying Sarah home for a visit. The last time Chris, Sarah and their kids were here, Grayson was content to lay on a blanket, watching life go by, and Addison was a gleam in her daddy's eye.

The original plan was to have Sarah fly home, with Addison in tow. I started thinking how sad Caiden would be if he didn't make the trip to Grammy's and Papa's. Caiden needed to come also. Then Grayson's big blue eyes showed up in my mind. No way could we leave Grayson at home. It's not that I didn't want Chris to come; he has very pretty blue eyes too. I just started out thinking of flying Sarah home, by herself. She's never by herself these days. She has all these little ducks waddling along behind her. Sarah told me, "Mom, I CANNOT fly alone with three children." Chris is a busy man. I knew it would be difficult to plan around his schedule. Hallelujah, he could get away, and was crazy enough to agree to the trip.

We decided to split the air fare since one ticket turned into four. They arrive in two days. We've planned a quiet dinner out with Chris and Sarah, a Sunday morning of showing them off to everyone at church. Dairy Queen ice cream cake. Grilling Chris' speciality - Chipotle chicken. I also have visions of smears on walls, goo on floors, pjs with feet, bedtime stories, bathtime, chubby little hands at our dinner table, kitchen counters messy with flour and drippy egg whites from baking. We can't wait, for all of it.

The last time Caiden was here, we bought a betta. He would live in my tank, but belong to Caiden. Caiden chose the name - Name. Middle name was Name. Last name was Name. So he was called Name Name Name. We gave him the nickname of Name Name, since noone, not even a fish, wants to be called by their last Name.

When Caiden and I talked a couple of weeks ago, we discussed the pets currently residing with us. Elway the dog, and Miah the cat. Then Name Name. Not wanting to bruise his little feelings, I stretched the truth and told him Name Name was still swimming around here in the tank. Okay, I lied. He's swimming somewhere at the bottom of the sewers of my town. So Caiden shared with Sarah, "Momma, Name Name is still there." Sarah, being a realist, promptly said, "No, he's not. He's dead." As we went back and forth, with Sarah in the background, I lied again. I assured him Momma was confused, and that Name Name was alive and well. Then - in the background I heard Sarah say, "Grammy's lying. He's dead."

Silence.

A little voice said, "Grammy, are you telling the truth?"

Silence.

I stammered, "Well, actually, not exactly. Actually, Name Name went to be Jesus' fish, and so he's not here anymore."

"Oh." One little word said it all. Grammy lies. Grammy can't be trusted. You can't depend on Grammy to be honest. I could almost hear 'Taps' playing in the background, as we observed a moment of silence, while my integrity died a quiet, slow death. Up to this moment, I was right there next to God, if I said it, you could depend on it. I felt myself become like everyone else. All the other people who lie. I didn't get to explain my motives, which were honorable, or at least tender. My actions stood alone, for him to see. No glossing over.

"We'll go together and buy a new Name Name when you get here. He can be red again. He can live in the tank. Okay?" I peddled as fast as I could to make up for my "offense".

"Okay."

In that one word, I was acknowledged as the sinful creature I am, I was forgiven, and I was loved anyway. Rebirth.

When I was a little girl, my father had a system of discipline. The first spanking was for the deed. The second, for lying about it, if you were so unwise as to take that path. Somehow he always knew when I had.

I didn't get a whipping because Name Name died. It felt like one when my integrity did. Thank the Lord, five year olds easily extend grace, when we least deserve it. Caiden has told the normal number of fibs for a five year old little boy. He's been found out, and forgiven. I'm thankful he's had those lessons. Thankful for the acceptance I heard in his little voice.

We'll be going to Wet Pets when he arrives, to buy another red betta. I hope this one makes it for the long haul. If he doesn't, when Caiden asks, I'll own up and tell him Name Name #2 is swimming in the sewer. At least my integrity won't be.

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  posted at 9:33 AM
 



Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunshine and Laughter
Another weekend flew by. Every Sunday night, I kiss my sweet husband goodnight, and thank him for a "nice weekend". This time I commented, "didn't it just fly by?" He said, "it REALLY went fast." Which is just fine up here in the northeast, where we're trying to hang on til spring shows up. Daffodils are poking their heads up through dirty snow, I see robins here and there, and the air does have a different feel to it. We're just not there yet. So fast is fine with us.

What struck me most about this weekend was how much we laughed. Just Don and me. We started with dinner out after Saturday evening church. It ended with sharing a piece of tiramasu and coffee, and laughter. The kind that possibly irritates others sitting nearby.

We spent Sunday afternoon running mundane errands. Somewhere in the middle of it all, we found ourselves listening to oldies on Sirrius radio. Names of one-hit singers would come up on the dash, and we'd talk of where they might be now. And really, Linda Rondstadt? She was wonderful and where did she slink off to? And no, I never really liked Stevie Wonder either. Something possessed me, driving down the road, to do an imitation of Stevie, swinging his dreadlocks. It cracked my husband up. (I did only keep my eyes shut for a minute so as not to crash.) We talked about the Beatles, and the fact that I had the biggest crush on Paul, like every other female in America, but really George's music was the best, and John was just TOO weird, then he got even more weird by marrying someone named Yoko for pete's sake, and Ringo? Well, he wasn't really anyone's favorite that I knew of. But then, I didn't hang out with the girls who fought and pulled hair on the lawn, after school. THOSE were the girls who liked Ringo.

That brought up the two times I did pantomines in 9th grade speech class. One was to "Downtown" and the other was "Wedding Bell Blues?" by the 5th Dimension, which sounded close to, but not exactly like Marilyn Macoo singing. Every single line is still embedded in my brain, 38 years later. I got A's for both 'performances', as I like to think of them. The real crowning glory was when I played the reluctant hillybilly groom in the play, "Itchin' to Get Hitched". It didn't do much to promote voting me Homecoming Queen a few years later, or even getting asked to the dance, actually. I do think the teacher was nicer to me after that, out of respect for the passing of any chance at me ever being seen as "cool". If there was even a brief moment when that was possible, it died there on the stage, in 9th grade.

Then we chatted about who the guest judges would be on American Idol this year. Jon Bon Jovi - okay, but Lulu? Don went into a discussion of just exactly how old is Lulu, for pete's sake, and did she have any other hit except 'To Sir With Love'?, and does that qualify her to tell these wannabe singers how to strut their stuff. Sometimes laughter is just contagious. Nothing has to be really funny, but you've gotten into that frame of mind, and everything strikes you that way. Pulling up in the driveup of Dairy Queen, ordering SMALL blizzards, because we will be wearing swimsuits before God and everybody in 26 days, but who's counting, and if the blizzards are accidentally made as LARGES, do those extra calories exist or count? Naahhh... And of course, honey, I can drive and eat a blizzard, and if it scares you, then just don't look. I've got my left elbow propped just so on the steering wheel, and I'll keep my eyes open this time.

At the end of the evening, crawling into bed, what struck me was how much we laughed all weekend long. Nothing big - just the chitchat of life between two people who are comfortable together and truly enjoy each other's company. Someone who finds you hysterical, when you're likely really just mildly amusing. That is something to treasure, after almost 26 years.

We WERE funnier than the Oscars. I promise. Maybe they'll ask Don and me to host next year, and we can do a pantomine. Or a scene from my play. I finally was able to play "Bill" here, so feel free to sing along, roll the windows down, and do the 'shakin' dreadlocks imitation'. It's a lot more fun that way.

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  posted at 7:52 AM
 



Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Planning the Last Party
We're at an age, where we've discussed a few times, our funerals. We've seen friends and relatives have to go through the difficult process of making decisions in very difficult circumstances. We've done some of it ourselves. We'd like to prevent our children having to go through that, when we leave.

It's also our last shot at making a statement. Telling others what we were about. What was truly important, while we were here on earth. Our funeral may be the only church service some of our friends ever attend. That makes it pretty important.

My husband read a book, "Martyr's Song" by Ted Dekker. Very, very moving book. There is a CD at the back of it, and after reading it, he handed me the CD. "Play it", he said. I did. Then he said, "Play it again, at my funeral." I don't know what suit he'll wear, we laugh about whether or not he should wear shoes, but that song - it'll be played.

We discussed my preferences. I told him, with what we paid for the dress I wore when both our daughters got married, please let me wear that. (And yes of course I wore it twice. It was the perfect Mother of the Bride dress, so why look for another?) Being the mental heavy-weight I am, I suggested a Martina McBride song, "I'm a Happy Girl." Because I am. And I wasn't always. Life has had a lot of ups and downs, hard turns in the road. I'm a very "happy" person, happy as in 'not right this minute' but in 'all the important stuff was lined up.' I appreciate it because it wasn't always there. Here are the lyrics to that song....feel free to sing along.


"Happy Girl"
I used to live in a darkened room
Had a face of stone, And a heart of gloom
Lost my hope, I was so far gone
Cryin' all my tears With the curtains drawn
I didn't know until my soul broke free
I've got these angels watching over me
Oh watch me go - I'm a happy girl
Everybody knows that the sweetest thing you'll ever see
In the whole wide world is a happy girl
Laugh when I feel like it
Cry when I feel like it
That's just how my life is, That's how it goes
Oh watch me go, I'm a happy girl
And I've come to know
That the world won't change
Just 'cause I complain
Oh, yeah, Oh, yeah I'm a happy girl.

He refused to play it. I explained it was MY funeral, and I should get to pick. He said no. When I complained to the kids, they all sided with him. "Mother, you cannot play that." "Mother, it would be sacreligious." "Mom, people will think we're not sad."

I thought it perfectly summed up my life, and was still pretty settled on it. I told them they could sing a few verses of Amazing Grace, or Old Rugged Cross, or whatever was necessary to give dignity to the occasion, but Happy Girl was still my solid choice.

Then I heard this. I've put it on my sidebar so it will play when you come here. If you only have 2-3 minutes to spend, listen to the song instead of reading anything I might share.

This song - Randy on American Idol would tell you, "Dawg, it's the bomb."

Here are the lyrics:


My Redeemer, by Nicole Mullen

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
Who told the ocean you can only come this far?
Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testify
This life within me cries I
know my Redeemer lives

The very same God that spins things in orbit
He runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
They conquered death to bring me victory

I know my Redeemer,
He lives To take away my shame
And He lives forever, I'll proclaim
That the payment for my sin
Was the precious life He gave
But now He's alive and There's an empty grave

Now I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know my Redeemer, He lives.

I listen to this every single time I'm on the ellyptical. When it plays, I want to raise my hands up and sing out LOUD, and I swear I could run forever. As long as it's playing. It's that kind of a song. A 'get goosebumps every single time' kind of song. Cry happy tears song. A bit better than Happy Girl. Which I am. But it's because "My Redeemer Lives."


And I'm going with the shoe-less option. That's what a girl, born and raised in the south would do. Where I'm goin', I won't be needing them.

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  posted at 11:21 PM
 



A Consensus of Opinion
Boy, the next time I want to buy a car, or decide where to live, or whatever - I'll ask you guys! I asked for opinions, and that I got. Heart-felt ones. Many were like a great phone conversation, with me saying, "uh-huh, uh-huh, oh, I wouldn't have thought of that. Good point." So thank you for that. And thank you Haloscan and Blogger for not being like most answering machines and cutting off after two minutes.

Here's what you guys had to say. Of the 36 comments I got, two did not give an opinion but said they'd be praying for this family. Thank you for that. Three held at neutral, not sure. Understandable. That sums up about 98% of raising teenagers - sometimes you just don't know what the heck to do, since running away isn't an option. Five said a resounding - "don't tell." They made good points for why they felt that way. Eighteen said - "Tell", sometimes putting it in eloquent words, sometimes just saying, "tell", and sometimes a more emphatic "tell, tell, tell".

Some of you recommended books - I will make note, order some of them into the store and give them to her. Especially the one Mombo mentioned on raising teenagers. I know Mombo personally, and she's very qualified to advise. If she says they should read it, they should. Actually, I told Mombo I just wish she could meet my friend for breakfast instead of me. I'd gladly pay. Actually it's too bad they can't just send the kids to Mombo, let her raise them, then give them back when it's time to pay for college.

Some of you made a valid point that in telling, the girl could be subject to abuse. I do not believe that is the situation, rather apathy is more what she faces. Our town caters to our kids, mostly wants them to be happy, beautiful, popular, good grades so they can go to the right colleges, etc. I suspect we're like most towns. But it was still a valid point. Unleashing the wrath of a parent could be dangerous. I loved the suggestion of having the prom get-together at their house. You made the point, when suggesting they talk to the parent, that they go with the one the girl lives with. That's the mother. And face to face. I'd also want that. Somewhere I'd be allowed to cry just a little, regroup and then talk. Dads would likely just want to punch either other, and that wouldn't accomplish much.

A suggestion was made that the boys parents sit down with both kids. Great idea. I don't think they did that. I think they believe the girl is somewhat out of the picture, when likely she's not. That would show respect and care for her as a person. A male mentor for the boy is good too. I did suggest that. One of the two counselors who responded made the valid point that if these parents don't talk to the girl's parents, and something were to happen later, there could be legal ramifications. Liabilities. That had not occurred to me.

So, here's what I advised, and why. I told her to tell the mother. To phone and ask to meet with her. They've never spoken, nor met in person. I told her if the mother pushes on the phone to know the purpose of the meeting, she should go ahead and tell her. Then see if the mom wants to meet. That at least gets her informed, and allows her to not meet, if she doesn't really care. The only thing worse than not really caring, is having to sit and look someone in the eye, with them knowing you don't really care. It also allows her to absorb the information, gather her wits, then meet if she cares to do so. I told her to tell the boy they were phoning the girl's mother. I do love the idea Holly had - give the kids one week to tell themselves, then if they don't, you do. I just am not clear on how you'd know they followed through. But that does show respect for the kids. Gives them responsibility for their actions.

I advised her to tell for several reasons. As a mother, I'd want to know. Eighteen is not grown. She still lives at home. She's still in high school. Regardless of her age, the level of responsibility she's living at prevents her from being an adult; making adult decisions. Once these two kids become sexually active with each other, they will likely move on to other relationships and that will set the tone for all future ones. It will be easier to stray next time. If by chance this was a first experience, or even a first relationship that strayed this far, if the parent is told, she can discuss with her daughter how to proceed from here. She can let her know she is worth more than that. She can let her know some protections prevent pregnancy, but not disease, and not heartache, shame, guilt, regret. She can let her know she can always start over, no matter where she's at right now.

If the girl feels like it won't matter to her mother, which is what she expressed, then telling the mother may open some lines of communication that will be critical when she leaves to go to college, more on her own.

If the girl intends to continue in this path, and she sure wouldn't be alone here!, and her mother honestly has no problem with it, or at least accepts it, then they can decide to at least protect her from pregnancy while she's too young to parent.

I also believe these parents telling the girl's mother speaks loudly to the son that actions do have consequences, and they won't just be swept under the carpet because they're typical to our society today. I believe these parents' witness is up for grabs. They are Christians, and as such, should do the right thing, regardless of whether the other parents want to know, care. We are to act different, live different, appear different, and this is an opportunity to do so. Who know what relationships could be made possible through this situation. With the girl, with her mother, with the son, between the parents. I believe God can work all things together for good, and this is an opportunity to do so. Starting with telling these two kids they matter enough to make a messy situation a bit more difficult for awhile; because they're worth it. They won't always be dumb teenagers, living by their hormones, and hopefully looking back, they'll see the witness of parents who made the tough choices, because they loved them.

We also told our kids, when they were the dating age, that they were dating someone else's husband or wife, and to treat them that way. If that didn't motivate them, to remember someone else was out with their future husband or wife, and to behave like they hoped they were! Behave like you hope the boy out with your future wife is behaving! These kids will likely not marry, they belong to someone else. That needs to be honored. Nothing feels as bad as guilt and regret.

That's why I told her to tell. Fell free to comment here and tell me you completely disagree with me. I'll leave anonymous on for a bit and hope the creepy comments don't come knocking.

  posted at 8:09 AM
 



Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I Need Your Opinion Please
She and I have been casual friends for at least eight years. This past weekend she asked me to meet with her. In the past seven years, her first husband died, leaving her with two kids to raise. She remarried. They've hit some rough spots. After a four hour breakfast (which should be a plug for Bob Evans who did not throw us out and kept bringing us coffee the entire time), we agreed to meet every few weeks for breakfast. Hopefully less than four hour ones. She needs help setting up a budget, setting boundaries for her 17 year old son, dealing with a short-tempered husband, reconnecting to other women, and finding a place to serve in her church and/or community.

One situation she shared with me, I thought I'd pass on. She met with the wife of one of her elders, who gave an opinion. I gave the opposing one. So I thought I'd ask what all of you think. Tap into that verse, "in much counsel there is wisdom..."

They came home, back around November, to find their son in bed with an 18 year old girl. Both were completely undressed. His explanation was that they were just "hanging out, talking." They'd only been seeing each other for about a month. She's praying this is his first incident. I told her I thought that was doubtful, looking at the short amount of time he'd been seeing the girl, and that they were already at that stage in their relationship. I suspect there's been plenty of buildup in past relationships. The son "broke it off" because of what happened. The girl's parents are divorced, both live locally. My friend and her husband decided not to tell either parent. Now the son wants to take the girl to prom, which is, #1 - in our area, always an overnight sleepover thing, and #2 tells me he hasn't broken up with her at all, but just wants the parents off his case.

The boy's parents are both committed Christians. The parents of the girl - I have no idea. My friend overhead a phone conversation where the boy and girl were discussing the 'what-if's' of if his parents told hers what had happened. She told the boy her mother really wouldn't care. The fact that she was discussing it with him tells me this may be hopeful thinking on her part.

So - I'd like to hear what you all have to say. Do you think there's any value in contacting her parents? Which one would you go to? Would you phone, or ask to meet? Bottom line, would you want to know? I really, really would like to know how you feel about this. Please put yourself in the shoes - being the parent of both kids. If you're more comfortable commenting anonymously, that's fine. I'm changing my setttings, during this one post, to allow that. I'd just like to hear what you have to say. I'll come back and tell you my take on it, after I hear from all of you. I expect to hear lots of wisdom coming my way, and I'd like to share that with her.


I think blogger and haloscan will let you go on as long as you'd like, so feel free. This raising teenagers - it's not for sissies!

  posted at 8:29 AM
 



Saturday, February 17, 2007
Happy Birthday Sarbear
She started it all, 31 years ago today. That day I turned the corner, from a young girl into a mother. I was halfway between 20 and 21 when she was born. Looking back at how little I knew, how ill equipped I was to care for her, it's amazing God entrusted her to me. I suspect He watched over us very closely those first few years.




This is Sarah, as undressed as you'll ever see her on the web. She was about 2 years old here. Bathing in the kitchen sink. She hated water in her eyes, and they sold this funky thing that you shoved down over your head. The W.C. Fields cookie jar was a wedding present, because her dad loved him. The kitchen counters were covered in orange-flowerdy contact paper. Very limited funds, very yellow kitchen. It's nice to look back and remember - kids don't really care about things like money and decor; they just know if they're loved. She was, and the look on her face shows she knew it.


I didn't know enough to know I didn't know anything, when I brought her home in a Denver snowstorm. Coming home from the hospital, I wore my old blue jeans. That alone tells you how young I was! We both wore barrettes at the same time. She was my buddy, more than my daughter for a number of years.




She was about 3 years old here, helping me bake something. This is one of my all-time favorite photos of her. Blue jeans, sweater, braids. When I think back, this is how I remember her, as a little girl. I wonder if Addison will look a bit like this in a few years. You can see here her dad had redone our kitchen by then. A new countertop and tile, but W.C. hung around.







This was taken by her father, Ed, after he and I divorced. He was in the tough stage of learning to live 750 miles away from her. When I look at this photo, I'm struck by her innocent happiness, and how sad he must have been at the time. The little brown shirt is one I sewed for her. Her Barbie had a matching outfit. Why I sewed anything brown for a little girl, or a Barbie for that matter, is beyond me. At least the coat is pink.








She's about 4 or 5 here, playing with her sister's christmas present (a table and dishes set), before Christmas. The bear was her father's; the doll is Bottle Baby, but the dog? Snoopy. He costs 15 cents at a garage sale, and that's the one stuffed animal she took to college. That's the one she became completely attached to. Maybe because it was her 15 cents. I still think, when you talk to her about him, that she thinks he's just a little bit real. Loved much like the Velveteen Rabbit, he may well be.









This is her 5th birthday party. The beautiful pink dress was a gift from her father. I was about 6 months pregnant with her sister, Leslie at this time. February birthdays in a small town in North Dakota were kept simple. In the kitchen with a few friends. We had too many blizzards to chance planning anything away from home.








Birthday #8, a dress-up with hats party; the little one in the middle of the pile of girls is her younger sister, Leslie. Sarah is the one with her arms in the air. I still remember this as a really fun party. Giggles galore!








She was about 11 here, and bows were very big that year. Big as in fashion statement, big as in size. The girl with the red one, Jenny Deller, was her best friend. Sarah is in the green top, with lovely yellow headbow.





When I finally got more earnest about me growing up, we locked horns some. Being a parent, you're not as popular as when you're a friend. If I could stand on one soapbox for moms today, I'd tell them - be the mom. Your kids will have lots of friends. Be the mom. They only get one. It took me awhile to learn that lesson myself.






For her 16th birthday, the big "drive year" we surprised her
with balloons in her room when she woke up. She was into Elvis about that time.






I could write pages, seriously, about how proud I am of her. How well she's turned out. The woman of God, wife, mother, friend, sister she is. She is all those things. Some things run too deep to even attempt to write about. How I love her is one of them.

She made me a mom, for the first time, 31 years ago. She's my daughter. She's also my friend. If you summed up the pages that I won't write, that's what you'd come up with. It's enough.


If you are one of the rare people who visits my blog, but hasn't met her yet, you can go here to say Happy Birthday. Spend some time getting to know her; you'll like her. I promise. She's a real gem.

Happy Birthday dear Sarbear. Love, Mom.

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  posted at 11:06 PM
 



Valentines with George Strait and Cheerios

We celebrated Valentines Day tonight. George Strait was here in town for a concert. My husband's got a cowboy buried, deep inside him, big brimmed hat and all. The one he wore, now and then, when we first started dating, hangs on the gun-rack in our son's now vacant bedroom. His rarely worn boots are on the floor of his bedroom closet. Some things are too special to ever get rid of. Hats and boots - signs of his youth.

We got the tickets weeks ago, the morning they went on sale. In spite of that, we ended up in the nose-bleed section. That was okay. We figured the evening would be fun, and we'd start with a nice dinner before the show.

Aren't plans great? So they can be thrown out the window. Here's what actually happened. Don got tied up at the office. He was late getting home. When we discussed dinner plans the evening before, we realized there wasn't actually time. I'd pick up McD's to eat on the way. McD's stays hot and tastes good for a full 15 minutes after it's handed through the driveup window. When Don finally got home, MCD's had been sitting there, on the kitchen counter for over an hour. The fries were C.O.L.D. The cokes were not. Whatever umph the burgers had started out with, had curled up and died. They looked like they'd been run over by someone's toy truck.

That's Okay. We thought traffic wouldn't be a problem; surely we'd have time to sit and eat at home, then venture out. We discovered McD's is faster to swallow when the grease is still hot; once it's congealed it doesn't go down so quickly. We were finally on our way. "We" being us and thousands of other people. All driving on the same road, through the same tunnels, with no other way to get there. About the time the concert was starting, we were still sitting in a line of traffic. That's Okay because it wasn't boring. We had a variety of shivering homeless people hanging around outside our windows, and T-shirt hawkers trying to sell their wares. I casually mentioned, "could you please not roll down the windows to buy a T-shirt from any of those people?" I don't think it's just my husband. It's husbands in general. They're not great at waiting in traffic. Or putting up with people who, sick of waiting - gun their engines, fly to the front of the line and stick their vehicle halfway between you and the car in front of you. Let me just say our vehicle was nice and warm inside, from all the words being spoken to the Invisible Person in the back seat, and the huffing and puffing going on. I say Invisible Person in the back seat, because I sure wasn't jumping into the conversation...and Don kept talking, to someone.

We finally arrived, found a parking space, and headed to the arena. The concert was going strong. I really didn't care. I really didn't even care who we were going to see. I was all about the going. Out. Anywhere. We headed in, and discussed whether to stop and pick up snacks or just find our seats. We decided to wait on the nachos - the part of the concert I was really excited about. Girl with the discriminating palate - that's me. We went by one of the 99 people selling beer, and bought one for the very reasonable price of $6.75. For one beer. I don't really drink beer.

A nice man, with an ever-so-little flashlight helped us find our seats. Coming to our row, the first six seats were already filled. With large people who had bad legs, as we were told. The bad leg part, not the large part. That we figured out all by ourselves. When we came to our seats, there were already two young men in them. They explained that they weren't quite ready to be squished up in the row their seats were actually in, so they were just 'borrowing' ours. That's Okay. They'd move. They did. They were even so nice as to spill their $6.75 beer all down the back of Don's seat. Give it that lived-in feel. Once we'd peeled off our layers of coats, caps, scarves, etc. and wedged our bodies into our seats, with our knees sort of up around our chins, Don decided the entire place must have been built by the same creatures who tied up Gulliver, when he went traveling.

Don assured me we'd go get the nachos in just a bit. Then the row in front of us arrived. They spent a good thirty minutes trying to decide where everyone would sit. We didn't get bored. We were somewhat fascinated by the young girl sitting down in front of us, doing a rear-version imitation of a plumber, aerial view. Then the first set, which we'd pretty much missed, stopped. There was a break. Don left for nachos. Less than five minutes later he was back, without nachos. The lines were so bad he couldn't even get out of the arena, to the concession stands. He'd try again later. About that time the people with tickets to the seats on our right showed up. A very uptight looking lady and her son. Within five minutes of sitting down, she was clearly annoyed by aerial-view plumber-girl and her friends who were leaving to refresh their beverages every ten minutes. As their beer kicked in, they started doing the wave, and/or swing dancing in their aisles. Plumber-girl would have done well to avoid dancing. Uptight lady was so put out, I just froze in my seat. No way was I taking her on. Which would have been fine, except I still didn't have nachos, and my restless leg decided to rear it's head. Just to make it even more fun.

Anyone who has restless leg knows it makes you - restless. Nobody knows what causes it, there is no cure for it, but you H.A.V.E.T.O.M.O.V.E.Y.O.U.R.L.E.G or you will go nuts. I'm 5'10" so my legs were bent up, tucked under my chin, no place to put them, and I didn't dare ask uptight lady to let me by or to ask large bad leg people to let me out. So I sat and stomped my leg for the entire rest of the concert, which made uptight lady think I'd lost my mind, especially since now and then, at irregular intervals my leg would just sort of spazz out on it's own and do a big stomp thing. I never made eye contact with her.

At some point in the concert, Don and I decided to setttle in - we held hands in the dark, and enjoyed the music to the ever-present tapping of my right leg. Not necessarily keeping time with the music.

As we left, with my husband again apologizing for no nachos, I told him I was just happy to be up and moving my leg around. But I was starving. Because my cold McD's had worn off. So he said, "how 'bout if we stop and have pie and coffee?" Shoot! I like nachos but coconut cream pie sends me into spasms (not my legs, just my mouth). So we headed out, with no traffic issues, for the nearest all-night eatery. The kind that always has pie, just don't ask how old it is. We pulled up at straight up midnight, the minute when they close. Nothing was opened in our entire town. And no, we don't have 300 people. We have 20,000 but they are apparently not night-people.

So we went home, and had bowls of cheerios and talked about what a fun date it was. And it was. However, I learned. Next time - get the nachos up front. Life is too uncertain to do anything else. Otherwise, you might end up spending your evening, looking like a clogging fool, sipping suds.

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  posted at 1:12 AM
 



Friday, February 16, 2007
Goodness Gracious, What Genes!
Well, Jules at Everyday Mommy announced the award winners at Hidden Treasures. Mercy me! Three, count 'em, T.H.R.E.E. of my blood relatives, 'seen each other in our underwear', 'would share *toothbrushes if we were all stuck together in a nuclear fallout shelter', 'would nurse each other's babies before we'd let them them starve to death', THAT kind of relatives, won. Won. Either it's something in the water, or good writing genes.

My mother, who has been clicking on a manual typewriter late into the night since Barb and I can remember, won for this post. She has some silly in her, but those genes are far and few between. Mostly she's intent. As is this post on my brother's death. Most of the time when she's laughing, its at the quiet in the room after she attempts to deliver a punch line to a joke she never should have started in the first place. All I'm saying is it's good she went into nursing instead of stand-up comedy. I can't stand to think of my mother-the-comedian, standing on street corners with some cold can in her hands, saying, "Lady, spare a dime?" You want deeper thinking, read my mom.

My sister is truly good at everything. Okay, except driving but she's so good at getting everyone else to drive her wherever she needs to go, that somehow counts too. If she ever lies to you in her blog and tells you her house is anything less than 'lick the floors, they're so clean' clean, don't believe her. They are. If mine was, not that it EVER will be, I would have hated the whole process of getting it there, or paid way too much money to somebody wearing an apron, with a feather duster in her hand, answering to the name of Florence or Verna or something. Barb enjoys cleaning her house. Barb looks forward to it. I kind of like the smell of pledge and windex, when I use them on rare occasion. Mostly I like buying new cleaning products, hoping just this one time, they'll hop out of the carrier and do their thang all by themselves. She uses FOUR products and her house is spotless. Like the 'sort of makes you nervous to touch anything' spotless. But you could go ahead and mess it up - she'd have it all cleaned up before you could say jack flash. And she's not kidding - she really does spray stuff on her little dog to make her smell sweet. I have a small pony living in my house. When he tracks in "stuff" that leaves brown marks on my creamy white tile, I grab the rag off the wall hook and smoosh it around with my feet, and we just don't think about things like e coli. It amazes Barb and me that we are closely related. If you are a Martha wannabe, you can read Barb daily to find out where to begin. She's already there.

Then my daughter, Sarah, well, she'd tell you last year was a good year. And mean it. Standing on the sidelines, it felt a little bit like a trip to hell and back several times. Her posts are sometimes so heartfelt, speak of such deep grief and despair, loneliness. Then I wait two days and she writes a banner post on diaper doo blowouts, and I find myself wondering. Is this the same girl? The same mom? If you're in the middle of motherhood, as she is, and you need to feel like someone else can relate, read her stuff. One day spent with her, and the three little ducks tagging along behind, while she's driving down the interstate in her minivan, half-eaten happy meals, baby praise playing, Caiden chattering in the background - you'll feel right at home. She's balancing a lot of balls most of the time. Just like many of you. Her post on motherhood was one of her best so far, if not the best. It makes those college payments feel like money well spent.

It's nice when you have good teeth run in a family. Or nice bone structure. Or athletic ability. We got good writing, apparently. So - well done, to all the women in this crazy-blogger family of ours. Now, I'd like to know where the unibrow and funny toes trickled down from.

And thank you, Jules, for introducing us to some really good writing/writers out there. You can go here to check out all the other winners. Congratulations to everyone.


PS. *It'd take a nuclear threat but we'd do it; I'd borrow Barb's since she undoubtedly boils hers every night. I once shared mine with the family dog for several months but that's another post for another day.

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  posted at 8:28 AM
 



Thursday, February 15, 2007
Chilly Thursday Thirteen
Since I'm headed out today to spend some time at the bookstore, it's all of THREE degrees here, and life feels a bit like a scene from Groundhog Day, looking at the bright side of winter seemed appropriate. Here then - 13 things I love about winter.

#1 The look of the snow when it's first fallen, especially if it's late at night. Pure, white snow covering everything. Moon shadows cast here and there. Nothing speaks peace like a fresh layer of snow.

#2 Seeing the detail of bare tree branches, or blades of tall grass, dressed in ice. Only God could make a bare tree beautiful.

#3 The sound my boots make as I make my way across the yard, to retrieve the paper or mail. A nice, firm crunch that only happens when the yard is blanketed in deep, icy snow.

#4 Being a part of all our neighbors, out shoveling their walks and driveways, at the same time. There's this feeling of comraderie when that happens. It resembles a Norman Rockwell painting, dogs running around, the kids playing in the yard while the parents are digging out.

#5 Not having to envy anyone's figure on a cold day. We all look a bit like the Pillsbury Dough Boy when we're bundled up. Add to that long, striped scarves, funny hats with tassles on the ends, and the fact that nobody is showing any inch of skin that really should stay covered - what's not to love?

#6 Standing and talking to a neighbor, both of us ignoring the fact that our noses are running down our face, headed south, toward our mouths. We wipe our noses on our gloves, because there's nothing else handy. It happens. To all of us. So we just politely ignore it. But we don't shake hands - that would be icky.

#7 The glorious days, now and then, when I look out and a neighbor is shoveling us out! Just because she said "they have cabin fever, are gaining weight staying inside too much eating comfort food and wanted to get some extra exercise." Glory Be!

#8 Watching our dog stand at the back door, whining to go out, when it's in single digits. When he gets out there, he shoves his face into the snow, all the way up to his eyes, taking big gulps of it. Soon as he's had his snowy fix, he begins to chase his tail, just for the sheer joy of being so cold. Cheap entertainment.

#9 Not mowing grass, or watering and weeding flowers.

#10 Now and then, when I drive down my street, seeing a snowman, complete with Dad's stolen cap, someone's scarf, a carrot nose, big rock eyes, and stick arms. Who ever drove by someone's house at night, saw kids sitting in front of the TV and found that charming? Kids building a snowman - THAT'S charming.

#11 How safe I feel, bundled up in all my layers and boots, strapped in, next to my husband, who is also in all his layers and boots, strapped in, as we head out in our big ole SUV. You don't really feel safe unless there's a threat, and I love that safe feeling. It feels a little like being in our own world.

#12 There are never traffic jams in a snowstorm. Never long lines in the grocery store. Or waits at the restaurants. The harder it snows, the better time it is to go do anything. I still remember casually telling my husband I was hungry for pancakes one night when it was snowing to beat the band. He said, "well then, let's go get some." We did. It was the best date, for under $15.00.

#13 At the end of a cold, snowy day, coming home to take off all those layers and boots, pull my snow cap off and laugh at my funny smushed hair, running the bath with scalding water, and climbing in the tub with an ice cold diet coke and a book. Staying there til I've completely shriveled up. You can't do that in August. Only at the end of a cold, winter's day.

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  posted at 8:10 AM
 



Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Shelter from Storms that Won't Subside

Same deck. Now and last summer.

School is closed. As far as I can see, everything is coated in a sheet of ice. It looks magical. Stepping outside to grab the paper this morning, it felt cold. Looking outside, I know it's only a matter of weeks til we begin mowing grass. We'll plant pansies, and drag out the deck furniture. A few months from now, I'll set out sun tea, possibly grab a book and enjoy spending some time there. I'll hear the neighborhood kids running in the creek, or playing yard games. They still do that sometimes. I love it when they do. Not all kids are tucked inside playing video games, as the media would have us believe. Little boys are still little boys. I'll smell burgers on the grill, as Dads up and down the street take their shift at cooking supper. It will happen - a few weeks, a few months from now.

This year's fawns will have been born, and we'll get our first glimpse of them. Birds will begin building their nests in the martin house, or in spite of our efforts to discourage them, under the eaves of the awning. I'll catch glimpses of them, flying with their prizes in their beaks - scraps of yarn, or a fluff of pet hair. It won't be long til I see those scrawny hatchlings at the feeder, their beaks in a state of constant open, waiting for mom to shove something inside. Watching them in spring - I'm always glad I'm not a bird. Their job never ends. And our babies were much prettier when they were brand new. At least I thought so.

My peonies, and other such perennials will begin to poke through the wet, mucky ground. The lilac bush will start to leaf out, and I'll look forward to it's fragrant blossoms. We only planted it a few years ago, and one branch, brought inside, makes the whole house smell like early summer.

Looking out, and then looking ahead, it makes me stop and think, how often life feels like this wintry blast, that just won't stop. Whether it's bills that keep arriving in the mailbox, or lab results, or relationships that keep hitting those rough spots. As I look out over the yard, I see the rhododendron bushes. They are a great gauge of the temperature outside. The colder it gets, the tighter their leaves curl in. My neighbor has a beautiful one, across from the window of my office. In May it'll be covered with big pink blossoms. Looking at it right now, shriveled up and covered in a blanket of snow, it's hard to believe it won't be long before it's struttin' it's stuff.

Sometimes life feels like a long stretch of hard. Of having to bundle up, trying to deal with the wintry blast coming at me. I've lived long enough to know the seasons will turn, the storm will subside, and life will blossom again. Still, we all need a little light at the end of the tunnel, now and then. I can't say how much, I don't think it breaks down into percentages. I do know part of my purpose for being here on earth, is offering what comfort, support I can, when others are being blasted. And setting aside pride, accepting the offer of shelter, sustenance, when it's me in the middle of the storm. The fact that I'd rather give, than receive, tells me if I get bored I can work on the issue of pride.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

For today, I'll stay inside. I may print out the photo on the right, and put it on the fridge. Everyone needs a little light, at the end of the tunnel. He HAS overcome, He IS the one who offers peace. My job is to figure out what part I play in that for someone else. When I see someone who's huddled up, like my neighbor's rhododendron, because life feels like a storm that won't subside. There's an older woman who lives up our street. Her husband is in a nursing home, and she visits him daily. I only know this because I took her mail that ended up in our box. I haven't been back. In spite of seeing the homemade wheelchair ramp, sitting outside the front door. How many times have I just driven by, not stopped to offer help? Can I pick up groceries, shovel a walk, drop off a pot of soup? Maybe just offer a listening ear. Sometimes loneliness is the biggest giant we face.

Who needs a call, a card, a casserole? Who needs a little light at the end of their tunnel? Certainly enough food for thought to keep me busy today.

Update: I stopped by my neighbor's home today, when I went out to run an errand. No one answered, but her snow shovel was propped up by the door. Out there, by myself, shoveling her sidewalk, deep within me, I KNEW it was worship. Without singing a note. I swear I could hear "Holy is the Lord" swirling around in my head, at the privilege of shoveling snow for her. I hope whenever she comes home, and sees the tracks, she will know someone stopped, because they cared.

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  posted at 8:15 AM
 



Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Blessed by a Wintry Blast
This is what it looks like today, out my front door, here in southwestern PA. We're slated to get 4-8" of the white stuff, but this afternoon when it switches over to "wintry mix" it might slack off. Ice is rather flat by nature, so it slows the accumulation. For the second week in a row (last week it was just freezing the diesel fuel in the buses), we cancelled Bible study. So I get to STAY HOME! I think I feel like the kids do, when they hear, 'no school today'. Except the School Superintendent, who just moved here from Ohio, didn't cancel school. 230 others did. Oh, wouldn't you love to be his secretary today, when all those mothers start phoning, wondering if he lost his everlovin' mind, subjecting little Timmy to the dangers of riding the bus on snowy roads...?

Anyhoo - after about five minutes of deliberation, I decided I could live without a haircut and highlights today, and rescheduled that appointment. My whole day just opened up. Don't you love it when you have plans, and life happens and they all get cancelled. So here's the alternate plan, sliding into place.

#1 Bake these cookies. I've had this recipe for about 25 years, from a neighbor up the street in North Dakota. My husband's favorite. He didn't get a cancellation notice today, went into work, and gets to drive home in sleet. I've taken on the Nancy Leigh DeMoss 30 Day Challenge, to love your husband. So today, I'm loving him by baking his favorite cookies.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, makes 4 1/2 dozen


Heat oven to 350. Mix together 1 cup shortening, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 2 Tblsp water, and 1 tsp vanilla.
To that add, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp soda, 1 tsp salt, 3 cups oatmeal and 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Mix all together til relatively smooth. Drop by spoonsful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Devour with milk. (Raisins can be substituted if you're one of the few people on the planet who doesn't care for chocolate.)


#2 Then put this in the crockpot, because the day is perfect for it. Something that simmers all day, and makes the house smell wonderful, to greet him when he walks in. The fact that we get to enjoy it while we watch American Idol tonight - perfect. What can I say? I'm a simple girl, and sometimes a cheap date. Cooking this makes me feel like I'm related to Diane - sounds like something she'd whip up on a snowy day. (And when I put on my boots, and walked to the end of my driveway today, there in the mail was a homemade valentine from her. How sweet is that? Thank you, Diane xoxo)


Hamburger Soup, serves 6


1 lb extra lean ground beef (I use turkey)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
3 cups hot water
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup macaroni, cooked
1/4 cup parmesan cheese


Combine all ingredients except macaroni and parmesan cheese in slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Turn to high. Add macaroni and parmesan cheese. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

I'm serving it with bisquick cheese biscuits and a tossed salad. And no, my biscuits will not be homemade, like Diane's would undoubtedly be.

Then, I did this post last week, attempting to recreate the world in 24 hours. I did accomplish a lot of it. Thank goodness Sarah's birthday package was mailed yesterday. I thought, as I drove to the post office, aware of the weather forecast, how blessed we are to be given 48 hours notice 'it's coming', so we can all rush to the store and buy toilet paper, milk and cereal, just in case we get snowed in for the next three weeks. I swear we hear "snow" and everyone moves into Little House on the Prairie mode. If I hadn't mailed her package yesterday, it wouldn't have been there on time. Birthday packages from parents NEED to be on time. Don's Mom forgot his a few years ago, and we still laugh over it, but I think it made him a bit sad, knowing she's getting old enough to forget. Being in her 90's, she got a 'get out of jail free' card that year. I'm not 90, so I went to the post office, with all the other charming people standing in line to buy one stamp. Her package will be on time. And there are Happy Early Spring treats in there for the grandkids, because, yes, spoiling them IS what it's all about.

Since I'm literally snowed in today, I'm working on my crazy list. I started to clean the whole house, got sheets changed, potties cleaned, some dusting, vacuuming, etc. but it was my office that was driving me nuts. So I tore into it and here's what it looks like now.

Much worse than before, unless you just happen to like the looks of furniture piled in the middle of the room, with the cleaning products left out for good measure. "Clean bookshelves' is on my sidebar as a goal for the first quarter of the year, and you can see they needed help! By day's end, they should be much better, and I should have a nice big pile for Mr. Trashman and the Viet Vets truck next week.

I put out some old twice-baked potatoes, with birdseed sprinkled on them for the little creatures who will visit today. They're freezing! I noticed the Robins had returned a few days ago. Bet they're regretting that decision. I'm enjoying watching them and the squirrels sneak up to the patio table for a nibble, and it's fun to listen to my little cat make her clicky noises that I translate to mean, "I'm hungry for some bluejay or chickadee." Later, I'll take our dog, Elway, out for a 'chase-your-tail' time in the snow. The more of it we get, the better he likes it. I don't know that anyone can watch a dog chase their tail and gobble up mouthfuls of snow and not smile.

So that's what we're up to here today. The news makes it sound like this mess of winter is pretty much all over the place. So wherever you are out there, bundle up, cook something that smells good, love on somebody, even if means just being extra patient with the clerk in the grocery store. If you have little ones, and your landscape looks like ours does, take them outside. How I miss the days when the kids were out in the front yard, building a snowman. And take pictures. You'll be glad, 20 years from now, that you did.

Take somebody flowers tomorrow, somebody who probably rarely receives them. Wear something red. And be good to yourself. I'm not sure of the author, but someone said, "If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. He's crazy about you." Me too. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Update: I've gotten a few comments on the quote - here it is in it's entirety. It would be perfect, written in a homemade valentine, delivered with those previously-suggested flowers!

"If God Had A Refrigerator

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart.
What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem; not to mention that Friday at Calvary.
Face it, friend. He's crazy about you."

-Author Unknown

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  posted at 11:58 AM
 



Monday, February 12, 2007
Hidden Treasures
Jules, over at Everyday Mommy, has listed the finalists for the Hidden Treasure Awards; awards given to bloggers for specific posts.

I'm bustin' my buttons to tell you my mom, my sister ( who had two nominations -this and this), and my daughter are all nominated for posts they've written. There are a number of categories, and I'm planning to check out all the posts; what a great opportunity to get to know new bloggers, and be blessed by their writings. You can go here to do just that. Read and vote. Let them know we appreciate the good stuff they share with us.

Hats off to all the nominees, and thank you, Jules, for making it possible for us to know about so much good writing going on out there.

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  posted at 8:43 AM
 



Sunday, February 11, 2007
Battlescars of Courage
My daughter, Sarah, was given the Courage Award by Faith Lifts. You can go here to read her interview.

Sarah and I routinely chat on the phone several times a week; sometimes she'll tell me what's going on in the house, what was recently flushed, who's fussing, funny stories, etc. Then I read of it on her blog, and it takes on a different dimension. When we talk, she's just my little girl, all grown up. She told me she was being inteviewed, I told her I was proud, I told her Dad, so he could be proud. I anxiously waited for it to appear, and when it did, I went over and read the interview. Then it happened, again. I read of the loneliness, struggles, depths of despair she experienced. In her written words, it went deeper. This was not just some young woman who deserves admiration, it was my kid. In the new re-realization of what she and Chris went through, I was so swept away, I forgot to tell all of you about it.

She's all grown up, and she's grown into one heck of a mom. I've loved her with a mother's love since the moment I knew she existed. Even when she was 11-15 years old and it wasn't so much fun. But when I read something like this interview, it takes me to places she and I don't speak of. It hurts both of us too much. It's still too recent. Most of you are encouraged to read of her journey, how she was able to persevere, push on, overcome, grow. I'm thankful for that. That God makes beauty from ashes...

I know God's in the business of character development. But when I read these posts, by my daughter, my little girl, I just want to go back to a day when she wore fat braids, tied with ribbons and the business of a summer day was picking dandelions, to watch the puff balls float through the air.

So I forgot to tell you all to go read this interview, by a young mother who was/is courageous. It's worth reading; it just goes deeper than that with me. If you're an older mom, it's likely you'll completely understand what I'm saying here. If you are a young mom, still beginning your journey, I'm confident thirty years down the road, you will understand it better than you do today. There are many, many of you, like my daughter Sarah; I know you understand it a bit better than you should, and you have the battlescars to show for it.

  posted at 1:15 PM
 



Friday, February 09, 2007
A Little Bit of This and That...
Because of this post, I'm about to go put on my "ugly clothes", turn on my Selah CD, set out a 2 liter of Diet Coke, and go to town! We have 3500 square feet, covering three floors, and I doubt the entire place has ever been clean all at the same time. I don't see it happening today, cleaning the entire place with Simple Green, like some of my closest relatives, but it'll look and smell a lot better by day's end. I may be a puddle of sweat in the middle of the kitchen floor when sweet hubby gets home, but the house will look great!

I got an email yesterday with this header: What's not to love about that! We booked this cruise almost four months ago, and now it's 43 days away, but who's counting? We'll be on the ship, out in the middle of the Atlantic, for our 26th anniversary, dining and dancing the night away. The fact that neither of us can dance won't matter a whit. And in case anyone out there would hate me for this, don't. It's SIX DEGREES HERE IN PA RIGHT NOW, we've had temperatures below freezing for the last 15 days, and a girl has to have something to look forward to when you live up here in the north and the sun forgets to shine for weeks on end. I went to the Princess Cruise website last week and reserved our snorkel equipment, made reservations for tours, beach chairs and cabanas, etc. It's getting me through February. Our room on the ship has a balcony, so I plan to exactly imitate the lady in the banner - the flowers, the wine, the fruit, cute little pink dress and fun shoes. Yes I do.

Earlier this week I read a post encouraging me to do this. I so wish I could remember who it was, and I think it was part of a Valentine's Theme. Check it out - 30 days of loving on your husband, sponsored by Revive Our Hearts. I get an email from them every day, telling me how to put love for my husband into action. Nancy Leigh DeMoss replaced Elisabeth Elliott on her radio program, and you don't replace Elisabeth with just anybody. If you're not familiar with Nancy, check out her entire website. Great lady. Great stuff.

My husband has made it a habit to ask me, over morning coffee, what I have planned for my day. This morning my answer was: "color my hair, comb the dog and cat, do some laundry, clean the entire house, wrap Sarah's birthday presents, mail valentines, run a few errands, work on a bit of filing, run the car through the car wash to get all the salt off of it, and bake oatmeal raisin cookies because they've been calling my name, do devotions, wash the sheets (No I will not be ironing them. I'm content to let Martha and my sister, Barb, be the only two people on the planet who do that and it's a rare treat that I even wash them, seriously). Call my Mom. Then if there's any time left I may curl up with Safe People (by Cloud and Townsend, the book I'm currently working through)." His response: "Let me get out of here so you can start having some fun." I told him, "feel free to stay home with me, I have more than one cleaning rag." I was just trying to be nice, make him look forward to his day at the office, even if it's only because he doesn't have to stay home with me and wash down fan blades or scrub potties.

So that's what's up in our household, clean til our hands 'bout fall off (thanks a lot, Barb), do a bit of reading, menu is "Dig-ups" (whatever you can dig up!) because no way do I clean all day and cook supper, watch Lost from two nights ago (Thank you God for whoever invented Tivo.) Nothing earth-shattering, just keeping on keeping on.

Oh yeah, I'm cleaning the fish tank - their place needs a bit of tidying up too. Hope the sun's shining where you are, and happy weekend to everyone out there, whatever you're up to.

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  posted at 8:29 AM
 



Thursday, February 08, 2007
"Hello, my name is Bev. I am (apparently) a N.E.R.D."
Last week my daughter, Sarah and I were chatting on the phone. Nothing big, just the day-to-day stuff of our lives. She was sharing with me the going's on of their household, and me - pretty much the same. Then I remembered - I had something SO exciting to tell her!

"Sarah, you won't believe what I just bought!" I suppose if I leaned more to the 'normal' side, she would have expected me to describe, in minute detail, some new piece of furniture, or a fun outfit, something like that. But she KNOWS me, well.

"I just bought a new Bible, but not just any ole Bible (because we all know I already have about 99). I bought The Archaeological Study Bible. Because I'm reading through the Bible this year, and I got to Exodus and then Leviticus and had some questions that my Bible just couldn't answer, and some woman last week ordered this really COOL Bible, and, well, I just HAD to have it."

Silence.

"Sarah? Still there?"

"Still here, Mom."

"Sarah! I was wondering all about Tamar and the whole thing where all her dead husband's brothers are supposed to 'belly up to the bar', and, ahem, provide her with a chilld, and they, ahem, have other ideas for that, and so she dresses as a prosti*tute and her FIL stops by the road, and, ahem, anyway, she gets pregnant, and when her FIL decides she should be killed for her indiscretion, she presents him with proof that he was the one she was doing the tango with.... so I had some questions about all of THAT, and THIS Bible, it just explains the daylights out of it. So I had to have it."

She may have said something here, to be nice. I could tell she just wasn't getting excited for me.

So I told her, "And, and, I bought another book too. This one is called, The Everything American Government Book, from the Constitution to present-day elections, all you need to understand our democratic system. Because there's an election coming and I don't feel like I have a good grasp of how everything's done, and I want to be an informed voter, not just of the candidates, but of the whole voting process. So I also bought this book."

"Mom, that's just sad."

"Oh no, Sarah, it's just the greatest thing, really. I'm so excited to have them both."

"MOM, go buy the bumper sticker, and slap it on the back of the car....."Hi, my name is Bev and I'm a N.E.R.D."

Well, thank the Lord! My husband doesn't really 'allow' bumper stickers, so if my own family doesn't understand this quest for knowledge I'm on, I'm sure not telling the whole world, and expecting them to get on the happy bandwagon with me.

But if you are out driving, see a champagne-colored Durango, and the woman in the front seat happens to be wearing a pair of those winged glasses, with her shirt tucked into tacky flowerdy pants that are too short, and a pen in her front pocket, feel free to wave. It's probably me.

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  posted at 8:55 AM
 



Share the Love
The finalists have been announced; hats off to every one of you, the best of the best. Some names are familiar. Others I've never heard of, and their names alone scream, "come check me out." I plan to do just that.

It's a balmy 11 degrees here today, so having a bunch of new blogs to enjoy with a cup of something warm - what a treat that is! Go take a look. And vote.

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  posted at 7:58 AM
 



Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Anonymous isn't working too slick
Doggone it! I purposely set up my blog so anyone could comment. I took away word verification so everyone could leave comments more easily. Then I went in and deleted 75 or more posts from the past year.

All comments left on posts are sent to me by email; a nice way to keep up with them. Lately I'm getting funky comments on deleted posts, containing creepy po*rn*o comments. I can't even go into Haloscan and delete them since the posts don't exist anymore???? They don't show on my blog because the post doesn't exist, but I keep getting them in my email account.

So unfortunately I've had to switch to allowing comments only by registered commenters. If you're one of the ones out there who routinely leaves comments but doesn't blog, you can still register (it's easy I promise) and then leave comments. You could, for example, register yourself as "Purple Shoes", or whatever.

If anyone out there can tell me why this is happening, I'd sure appreciate it. If you can also tell me what to do about it, that would be even better. I hate disallowing anonymous comments. I like knowing I'm accountable out there. If I post something that you really disagree with, or maybe I need to see another side of it, and you're not quite brave enough to put your name, I'd still like you to be able to speak your mind.

I just don't need to buy any of the strange contraptions, pills, toys, books, videos, etc. they keep advertising in my yahoo account. It's beginning to creep me out.

Help, please?

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  posted at 9:38 PM
 



Monday, February 05, 2007
How Long Has it Been?
It started with this question: "How long has it been since you met the Shepherd of your soul? How long since you experienced more than a splash of cool water on your face.....more than a verse and a hurried prayer en route to the car or kids or daily commute?"

Too long.

The book I'm reading, Resting Place, by Jane Rubietta, describes a retreat as "simply a concentrated/consecrated time with God...where we remove ourselves from the demands of life, and allow God to speak in an unhurried setting.

So how did my first attempt at retreat go? A few kinks, not completely smooth, but I ended up with 2 1/2 hours of interrupted time, a good start.

My intention was to head out of the house first thing; of course the phone rang and I had to run over to the bookstore for one little problem. Three hours later, I was finally headed to the Farmhouse Cafe. Afer ordering a caramel macchiotta and a biscotti, I settled into a chair by the fire, grabbed my Bible, journal and the book.

A young man was there, hoping to begin his thesis. He engaged every person who even paused within ten feet of him. Tip: I'd taken my iPod to drown out background noises, and turned it onto an album by Andrea Boccelli - perfect. He sang in Italian and because I couldn't understand a word of it, it was white noise in the background, worked great. Really. Drowned out the talkative man and didn't distract me with lyrics.

The first chapter of Resting Place went into the parts of retreat - praise, examination, reflection. I loved the author's description: "put your hand in his and follow the overgrown path to the water's edge." She made the point that we have to begin by discovering the Shepherd's care. That fatigue is a way of life. Even our vacations are tiring. She said we live with weariness, expect it, accept it and label it spiritual.

The most piercing realization that came out of my little time away was when she presented the concept that when God told us to rest on the Sabbath, it involved "denying ourselves." We'll always be tempted to overstretch, overwork, in an attempt to play the part of God. Let it depend on me, let me shoulder the burden. Because I don't trust God. Maybe I'm the only one who really has my best interests at heart?

Essentially a refusal to rest indicates a lack of trust in God, which reflects a pridefulness, and desire to control. Myself. Others. Situations. Circumstances. The author encouraged me to stop and think about the creatures in nature. How do they rest? I thought of the deer who often bed down behind our house, in the heat of the day. When day begins to slide into evening, they get up and leave together, being refreshed from their break. Are they smarter than me? What do I do when my life heats up? Generally, run into the thick of it, and scurry around, trying to fix it all myself. I certainly don't head for the shade and take a nap. Because it's up to me, you know.

Psalm 121:3 says "He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he will neither slumber nor sleep." My exhaustion is not only unnecessary, it's idolatry. Me on the throne instead of Him. The author sums up the chapter with this: It's time to pay attention to the cry in our heart for rest. We need our resting place again. There is only One. I might as well put my head on God's shoulder and sleep." I thought of all the times I've cradled one of my children, or grandchildren more recently. How completely content they were to just sleep on my shoulder. They were safe there. I was carrying them and would protect them while they rested. Isn't that a great mental image, one we've all seen - an infant, asleep on a parent's shoulder. In the middle of chaos, they just sleep, completely unaware of all of it. They just sleep.

Finally, "God's purposes may best be accomplished through our inactivity." That's what I got out of my first little retreat. Honestly, I was surprised at how much "happened" in that small space of time. I really can't wait to go again. I'll take my iPod again, just in case the guy with the laptop is still cranking away avoiding working on his thesis.

I was encouraged, when I posted that I was going to attempt this, by how many of you said you'd try it too. I so hope many of you will. If you can't manage that, at least grab your pillow, and curl up for a nap. It's not only okay, it's consecrated.

  posted at 11:00 PM
 



Sunday, February 04, 2007
Hunting for Hidden Treasure
Jules, at Everyday Mommy, has a Treasure Hunt going on. You can go here to get all the details, but basically it's to spotlight specific posts, in a number of categories, that are great writing. Posts that might have gone unnoticed, or maybe even blogs that are still a well-kept secret.

I'm one of those girls who wasn't crazy about changing clothes, in gym class, in front of E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. That little blue, one piece jumpsuit with snaps running up the front, was just a tad difficult to get into. After you shoved your legs in, then you had to fling your arms up and back behind your head, try to pull the top half on. Back then my physique was an understatement. Blonde bombshell Veronica, on the other hand, could barely snap the snaps over what God had chosen to endow her with. (And yes, you DO hear me screaming, "It's not FAIR" here. I'm convinced she got some of my share.) I thought my discomfort at being so exposed was the lack of womanly curves going on, but since there's more than enough of that now, and I still feel pretty much the same way, I guess I'm just a wee bit P.R.I.V.A.T.E. To tell you everyone I voted for is a stretch for me. Sort of like changing into that two piece blue contraption in front of God and cyberspace.

Jules' 'Hidden Treasure Hunt' isn't about who I voted for. It's about spotlighting good writing, and good blogs. I do want to tell you about a couple of really good posts that came to mind.

Humor - I don't tell jokes, ever. I got my lack-of-joke-telling genes from my mom, who actually tells jokes, and when they flop it's still okay because she cracks herself up til she's literally crying over them, so it's okay that she can't tell a joke. I just avoid the whole process. I am rarely funny when I try to be. My version of funny is putting on one of those lycra camisoles right after a shower, and seeing myself in the bathroom mirror, when it's stuck to my still-damp body. But Big Mama - it just pours out of her, and she's hysterical. All the time. This post had me LOL and crying at the same time. She's the perfect solution anytime you're having a less than wonderful day. I had a hard time choosing just one of her posts to spotlight. Sometimes I save up her posts, then when several have gathered, I settle in with a good cup of coffee and enjoy the daylights out of them.

Current Events - I knew Toni needed to be nominated, and her post on September 11, and how it impacted her children, was very touching. Her writing is sharp. She's someone I'd love to have a margarita with. And just listen to her talk. I'd get more of the chips and salsa that way too.

Gwen, the mother at Ivey Sirmans, wrote "Are You Qualified?", a post that typifies Faith in my book. I never leave her site untouched. For some insane reason I cannot link to that post without it erasing this post, but the address is: http://iveysirmans.blogspot.com/2007/01/are-you-qualified.html

Other categories include Children & Family, Marriage, Motherhood, Homemaking, and Life. Great categories - it should be easy to find many posts that fit perfectly.

Go here to check out the details of this Treasure Hunt, then enjoy looking for those posts that others will be blessed to read. Send your votes to Jules, then tell us about your great finds. If you want to wear your dorky gym suit too, that'll be okay with me.

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  posted at 9:14 AM
 



Saturday, February 03, 2007
Momma's Got a New Dress On!

Many of you who read my blog also read my daughter, Sarah's blog, and my sister, Barb's blog, and my Mom's blog - with us it's a family thing. If everyone else stopped reading us, we'd still love reading each other's stuff. Sort of like getting together every day or so for cheesecake and coffee and baring our souls, or telling a good joke, or sharing recipes. Something like that, only in cyber-space.

When Sarah, Barb and I started blogging, we all went out shopping at Susie's place, Bluebird Blogs, and bought ourselves pretty new templates. Some of us who are a little more fickle bought more than one...

Three years ago, Mom couldn't email. She's gradually ventured into the world of cyberspace, and last year tackled having a blog. She's been writing since Barb and I were little girls, usually on Big Chief Tablets, or a manual typewriter. It was a big undertaking, trying to understand even a snippet of what goes on with the internet. She's still tackling it. Having more of a writer's soul than your average person working at Best Buy, some of it is never going to be a quick study. I'm thankful for that. If I were picking a friend, I'm pretty sure I'd pick someone more like her than the average guy working in the repair department of a computer store. Sort of like, every family should have one plumber in it, but he's not necessarily the guy to go shopping with. I'd leave him at home, under the kitchen sink, while Mom, Barb, my daughters and I all went out for some sort of fattening fun.

This past Christmas Barb and I decided the perfect gift for Mom would be a "new dress" for her blog. She's a very aesthetic person, so colors, fonts, the photo, the overall feel of her blog was very, very important to her. Perfect gift. Susie was the perfect person to pull it off.

Momma has her new dress on! It is completely perfect for her. The photo she chose completely captures her heart and soul. Someone standing there, looking at the whole world, wanting to take it all in. The quote is by my sister.

Mom's probably always going to struggle a bit with Mr. Linky, blogrolls, anonymous commenters, and may even make Barb and me a wee bit crazy when we try to "fix" things over the phone or through emails. Her writing makes it worth it - her take on the world she's experienced and how she sees it today is different than those of us in a different generation. Reading her posts often feels like a soft history lesson, in how things were, and how they need to change.

This is unashamedly blog-promoting going on here. I hope you'll check her out, read her now and then, even if she doesn't quite get linking to you, or the whole comment thing.

"She girds herself with strengh, and makes her arms strong. She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31

That's our mom, grandmother. Check her out - the trip will be worth it. Promise. And thank you Susie for doing all the fabric selection, sewing, hemming and alterations....

  posted at 10:19 AM
 



Friday, February 02, 2007
A Little Time Out
Yesterday I took a half day retreat; several things stood out, at the end of it. I'll come back early next week and share more with you, but some issues, jumbled up but resembling lack of discipline/trust/rest, seemed to rise to the top.

This weekend, I'm going to take a tiny little break. Address that Discipline issue a bit, by paying the bills, filing, cleaning the house, catching up on the laundry. Then I'm going to attempt the Rest/Trust, enjoy eating less-than-healthy snacks while we hopefully watch Peyton and the Colts win their rings. I might be surprised to see the earth keeps revolving, even when I stop running in circles. It just may not be me keeping it all going! Imagine that revelation...

Hope everyone out there has a great Superbowl Weekend too. Even if you're cheering for the Bears. xoxoxo

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  posted at 10:26 AM
 



Thursday, February 01, 2007
Completely Bowled Over and/or Grandma is Just Fine...
Last night I got a little email, from Darlene. She's the Editor of CWO (Christian Women Online). She told me I'd been named Blog of the Month for February.

Y'all!

Are you kidding? Seriously?

I sat here for a minute, reading, rereading. Then I went into the kitchen, and told my sweet husband, "I just got this email telling me I've been named Blog of the Month for CWO", and proceeded to tell my non-blogging, not-completely blog-understanding husband that I thought it was a big thing. He's so sweet. He congratulated me, hugged me, and listened to me for a minute or ten, about what a big deal I thought it was.

Then I phoned my daughter, Sarah. Most of you call her "In the Midst of It." I just call her Sar. She took awhile to answer the phone. My husband is in coal mining, and for years if the phone rang late at night, it was because there'd been an accident and/or a death. The family rule became - you just don't phone after about 9 p.m. unless someone's dying. My husband is not in Safety anymore and we get less of those calls, thank the Lord! Sar answered very sheepishly, "Hello?" "Hey", I said. "Did Grandma die?", she asked. (This would not be my mother (70's) but my MIL (mid-90's)). "Because you just don't call this late unless someone died, so did Grandma die?" After I stopped LOL at her, I told her no, Dad had just talked to Grandma earlier and she's just fine for 94 years old. But I'd gotten this little email, telling me this news, and I had NO idea what on earth to do about it. Was I supposed to just send an email saying thanks? Do a little post saying thanks, so you'll all go there and check out their wonderful ezine?

My daughter is wise beyond her years. After she stopped LOL at me, she said, "Just do a post, say thank you, send the women over to CWO, and tell them Grandma is alive and well."

There you go. Still, I'm completely, over-the-moon bowled over. I really thought I'd wake up this morning and realize I'd dreamed it. Or been confused. Nope. They chose me, for real. What a way to start the day, the month. And my dear 94 year old MIL is doing quite well.

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  posted at 9:14 AM
 



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