I recently tackled a “do-it-yourself” project far outside of the areas of my expertise: I painted a scripture on my daughter’s bedroom wall. In preparing to do that, I rationalized to myself that it was only words and I’m good with words. I know how to write on paper, a wall can’t be too different, right? I knew enough to mark the bottom line of the words with masking tape – my years of an educator writing on the chalkboard have revealed to me my tendency to gravitate my words toward the ground. I very lightly penciled the words where I wanted them to go.
Paint in hand and masking tape in place, I embarked on my project. It didn’t take too very long at all to realize that a heavily textured wall was far different from my yellow legal pad as a writing surface. The paint became bumpy and out of line, making an enormous mess. My scripture looked as if I were using my feet and a broken crayon instead of painstakingly painting each letter.
After I had finished one word, I could stand it no longer and opened the can of the original wall color (we had just recently painted the room – and I HIGHLY recommend having the wall color on hand for this project). I took my tiny touch-up brush and began correcting my mistakes. Soon I realized that was the fun part. With just a few little strokes, the bumpity mess I had thrown on the wall transformed into the precise wording I had originally envisioned. The touch-up was definitely crucial to my masterpiece.
Soon I painted with abandon, having a grand time getting the words on the wall, knowing that the key to a beautiful finished product was in the touch-up. One time I heard Frank Bielec, a designer for the TV show “Trading Spaces” say, “There are no mistakes in life. There are only embellishment opportunities.” I had plenty of embellishment opportunities on the wall, which called to mind the embellishment opportunities in my life.
As I painted I began to think of the people in my life that are my touch-up brush. Steve sees me as an award-winning writer, Tammy sees me as a brilliant mind, and Troy sees me as the complete package: beautiful woman of God with a loving, compassionate heart. I am immensely blessed to have people that see me as a masterpiece as their love covers over the embellishment opportunities I create. The family and community of God has afforded me a safe place to be the real me, warts and all.
Because of the security of the love of their eyes, I am able to live and love with abandon, having a grand time as I envision the finished product God will create of me. I hope and pray that I may see others as a Masterpiece of the Master’s making, after the touch-up of His love has perfected my view of them.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12
Troy and I work with the college kids at church. Mainly, we hang out with them and they let us. It works. I'm getting used to them wearing their flip-flops in 30* weather. They, in turn, are showing less hiney crack than before (thank goodness!)
Yesterday we went to our Campus Minister's home for a luncheon for the college kids. The stack of purses by the door didn't surprise me. All of the shoes next to the purses did. It was only female shoes -- almost every female there stopped at the door, put down her purse, and kicked off her shoes. I don't get it.
Troy was out of town one night this week and, as usual, I didn't sleep well. At one point, I just KNEW that someone was in my room (I think the dog wandered in there) and I was trying with all my might to wake up (and do what, I don't know). I could NOT make my body move, so I tried screaming (very clever, Sarah -- when you're paralyzed in your bed with a stranger in your room, be sure and let him know you're awake and helpless); nothing came out. Then the dream continued that one of the kids came out of their bedroom and needed my help and I still couldn't move. It was awful! Later I dreamed that I was on some kind of parade float, or maybe hay ride-type thing. Troy was there, too, and a few other people that I couldn't identify, but I was sitting next to Kendra. I guess we were having some sort of sing-along, and Kendra just burst into song. (this is one of the strangest parts of this dream -- I do NOT picture Kendra bursting into song.) It was a song that I realized I had heard before, and knew some of the words, but couldn't sing all of it. Somewhere in my dream, I thought, "This is that song!" I had read the lyrics to a song the day before and thought: "That sounds like a good song, but I don't know it." So, somewhere my sub-counscious dredged up that, yes, I do know that song, and had Kendra sing it in my dream! Crazy.
Troy wants to sell me to the circus. I'm really weird, I know.
First and foremost, the SUN came out for about 2 hours today. I think that was the first time since last week! Glory -- and don't ever THINK about having me move to any place in the arctic circle where it's night for 22 hours a day. No, thank you!
Then, I had lunch with a new friend, Cathy. We spent about 2 hours talking about my dreams and ways God may use me for His kingdom in the future. Cathy had to go, I stayed at the same spot and a long-time friend, Steve, parked next to me and we talked for over an hour about the last few years of my life and the myriad of ways the Lord has walked with me and been faithful.
Both of my friends illustrated what I believe we are called to do as Christian community -- encourage one another (hey, isn't that in Hebrews somewhere?), dream with each other, testify to God's work in our lives.
My cup overflows with godly friends!
If you haven't met Ira Hays, you need to. He's a scrappy little, chubby-faced punkin'. This picture was taken in November. He and his dad, Joe Hays were hanging out, blogging. Ira was born with health problems that I don't fully understand, but I know the little guy has spent most of his 10 months -- he's 10 months old tomorrow, the 21st -- in the hospital on oxygen. He went back in the hospital this last time on Christmas Eve. He has been intubated and is basically (as I understand it) kept in a medical coma so that he will remain intubated. He has struggled with physical addiction to his medications, including violent tremors as the doctors try to wean him off of the medications. His mom, Laura, and dad haven't held him since Christmas Eve.
Try to imagine that. Your child. Your flesh and blood. A baby. A tiny baby. In the most difficult situation you could imagine. You watch, you stroke, you love, you cry, but you can't hold him.
Ira has a big test this week. We all need to join together in fervent prayer that he PASS! Ira will be extubated (sp?) this week to see if he can do with a bi-pap or c-pap (I have no idea what that is -- some form of oxygen delivery system, I assume the tubes in the nose). If he can't he will have a tracheostomy. Please pray specifically that Ira proves, again, what a fighter he is and that he can do without another surgery -- and, more importantly, that he can rest in his mom and dad's arms.
Joe and Laura also have a beautiful daughter, Sophia, who is bound to think this is just as stinky and unfair as the rest of us do. Please pause a moment to pray for the whole Hays family and the church family that is their support system right now.
(published in this month's Reader's Digest)
Asked on NPR how she went from writing romance novels to mysteries, author Janet Evanovich answered, "I hit menopause and began to have more thoughts of murder than romance."
Just a little more insight into my grandmother, Maxine. Maxine died on my friend, Roxanne's, birthday. Three years later, my Riley made his way into the world on what would have been her 81st birthday. That is so precious to me. The following is a portion of what was read at her funeral. Just so you can get a glimpse of Maxine.
written by Don Glover, delivered at Maxine's funeral
No word, including this one, can do justice to Maxine Riley, who was a remarkable woman by any standards. Not that her name was bandied about in the news or flashed on to a silver screen; not that she captured the imagination of a generation in the grand manner, say, of an Eleanor Roosevelt or a Margaret Thatcher. No, not that.
From a small town in Oklahoma, our Maxine married a Max, also from a small town in Oklahoma. They had a son, whom they named Max and called Mike; and of him they were extremely proud. This Maxine loved God, her household, the church, and a host of others throughout the community.
And we all loved Maxine. We also liked her. For a hundred reasons, not least because she was wonderfully candid. She would say things you wanted to say but couldn't -- or wouldn't. Her quick tongue occasionally got her into light trouble, but it was part of her charm. Her resonant voice was melodious, rhythmic, dramatic. She had a way of speaking that captured your attention, made you smile, and not infrequently had you laughing. Not only could Maxine Riley "rejoice with those who rejoice," she could also "weep with those who weep."
There were the small touches: For two generations she was known at the Forsythe Avenue Church of Christ as the "Gum Lady". Kids flocked to her side for the goodies that rose from her magic purse.
She was an inveterate letter writer. Many of us, at one time or another, in sickness, in discouragement, in success, and sometimes for no immediately obvious reason, have received from Maxine a handwritten note; a message written in ink perfumed with love, a treasure house of beautiful words, not soon forgotten.
In a world in which good taste is disappearing, Maxine was the epitome of class: Not alone in her dress, which was impeccable; Not alone in the way she wore her hair, with every strand in it's ordained place; Not alone in that elusive thing called "style" which she elegantly projected. No, she was a classy woman because she had a heart. A good, generous, godly heart.
Her beauty, like that of the godly woman of Proverbs 31, reflected her respect for the Lord and his ways. Pound for delicate pound she had few if any rivals. It was our gift to know her, to be moved by her, to have our world enriched by hers. Memories flood our souls. Were there time, each of us could tell his own story of our dear sister and friend.
Definitely not your typical grandmother-ly advice. But Maxine Riley was not your typical grandmother.
Later today, my sister-in-law, who I don't believe ever met my grandmother, emailed me saying that she and my brother were having a conversation that included Maxine and Ve wanted to know my perception of my grandmother as compared with my brother's.
Maxine seems to be on everyone's mind today!
And, yes, that is precisely what I called her -- and, yes, she knew that and, no, it didn't seem to bother her. It came about as a joke about my poor grandfather, Max (yes, those were both of their real names -- Max and Maxine). Max lived and breathed to take care of my grandmother and make her life more comfortable. And I believe there were moments that she appreciated it. But frequently she would say, "Oh, Maaaax. . ." a phrase that typing cannot do justice to her southern, gravelly drawl, that included a hint of a whine. So eventually my Poppa became Max to me. So, naturally, my Nonna became Maxine.
In reading over this, I guess Maxine brings to mind the rough, old woman on the Hallmark cards. Those actually aren't too far off of my grandmother's philosophy in life, but Maxine would not have been caught dead in sweatpants or a t-shirt.
Later I will post what was beautifully spoken at her funeral. Don Glover, who preached at the church where I grew up for 30+ years, captured the things we all loved about Maxine.
A few of the things that I suppose I have inherited from Maxine:
- Speak what is on your mind! Life is too short for dancing around it. My grandparents were definitely "the country club crowd" and I think Maxine's candidness was shocking and amusing to most of their friends there.
- Life is also entirely too short to be taken seriously. While Maxine (with her candid words) hurt my feelings on a few occasions, I mainly remember her giggle. She found humor in almost every situation. Me too, Maxine.
"It's time to all gather in the car to go to church."
"It's time to get me to the hospital to have this baby!"
"It's time for me to leave this party so that I can go to bed."
I was fairly kind to my injured foot for several days, but I grew weary and impatient of the way it was affecting my life. So I told my foot, "it's time". "It's time for you to be through being injured. It's time for you to start behaving like a healthy foot. It's time to start serving me the way I need you to serve me." My foot disagreed.
I thought of the way we do that to ourselves, and occasionally others, when we are emotionally injured. "It's time to quit grieving." "You have got to get past that horrible thing that happened to you." "It's time to move on." "It's time to act as if nothing happened."
I love that we are reminded again and again that the Lord's concept of time is not at all our concept of time. I guess when You were before time ever began and will be at the end of time, a few days of hobbling on crutches, or a few months of nursing a broken heart, or a few years of grieving a loss is not long at all.
Praying to have a 'Kingdom view' of time, and much patience until I do.
As a few of you have noticed, I changed my profile pic. I have had some positive comments, some requests to change back to the other one. What do you think? Feel free to simply tell me which picture you prefer. I don't need reasons, especially if they include the words crow's feet, old, or fat.
It doesn't matter if you believe in Scrubbing Fairies or not -- we don't
have them! There are no magic fairies that come along and scrub the
massive chunks of food off of your plates after you pile them in the dishwasher
that way! The fairies are not even able to lift a plate that you have
smashed against another plate! You're going to have to rinse your plate
before you put it in the dishwasher!
Don't even get me started on "but why wash your plate before you put it in the dishwasher" lecture. If my children were capable of thoroughly scraping a plate, we wouldn't have to rinse. But they aren't, or refuse to, so rinsing is SO necessary.
Troy is an awesome dad and husband -- but doesn't back me up too much on this one. "I don't know what she's talking about kids; I've seen those fairies. They like washing your dishes." Granted, Scrubbing Fairies would be glorious, and if you have any, I'll hire them. Until then, we're rinsing.
At one point I was folding clothes in the laundry room, just off the kitchen and heard the clanking of dishes, while a child chanted, "I believe! I believe!"
"What do you believe?"
Child appears at laundry room door looking sheepish: "Oh. I didn't know you were there."
"What do you believe?"
"In the scrubbing fairies."
Maybe Troy has taught them that the chant enables the fairies to work.
Tonight, after an equal number of dishes came out of the dishwasher dirty as came out clean, I cleaned out the interior of the dishwasher -- wiped out the door, cleaned out the spray arm, all kinds of fun. There will be a new lecture on Scrubbing Fairies tonight.
Things I learned:
- It's relatively easy to take off a dishwasher spray arm -- but your owner's manual won't tell you that.
- Band-Aids do not travel easily through a dishwasher spray arm.
- Bathroom tweezers are barely strong enough to pull a band-aid through the jet of a spray arm.
Someone should warn my family that a lecture is brewing. . .
Yes, I know how to fix the "google news" and "edit-me" links to the right -- but I'm not going to right now. I'll just see who it makes cuckoo while I'm deciding who/what to link to.
Okay, hypothetically speaking of course, say you are walking down your own hall in your house and basically fall off of your foot, spraining your ankle horribly. Which story would you go with:
- I was trying to get my 5k time under 15:00 -- in the last 250 yards, there was a pothole.
- There was a truck with no brakes careening toward a little girl and her puppy. I pushed them to safety but hurt my ankle in the process.
- I was showing the kids the perfect trampoline dismount.
- Chuck Norris challenged me to a kick-boxing competition.
Memo to gentleman in Lifeway this morning: She seemed really kind, but I don't think the cashier at a Christian book store is the best person to go to for relationship advice.
Spend 48 hours hobbling around town on crutches. It will restore your faith in human kindness.
Yesterday I had opportunity to use a movie quote that I think about a lot. From When Harry Met Sally, a movie I've seen a bajillion times. At the beginning of the movie, Harry has all sorts of philosophies about men and women and relationships -- none of them very positive. At one point, Sally turns to him and says, "Its amazing. You look like a normal person but actually you are the angel of death."
It's a quote for all occasions! And a half-dozen people that read this are going to think I'm referring to them. Cool, huh?
A few weeks ago was "Fantastic Friday" at the kids' school (also an Austin Elementary long-standing tradition). It's '50's day, but oh, so much more. As you can see, my kids go to one of those schools -- that doesn't do anything half-way. . .
The decorations are amazing -- moms (I NEVER sign up for this committee!) decorate the cafeteria. It's really cute. Way in the back -- just past Riley's nose -- you can see one of the precious "cherry floats" made of small white trash cans, with pink balloons bubbling out of the top.
This is the kids' principal, Mrs. Scarbrough. She is wearing her cheerleading jumper from Cooper High School from when she was a cheerleader in the mid-'60's. We hate her. (I don't actually hate her -- another Steel Magnolias quote and reference!) We actually adore her. She's the best (and a good sport, as you can tell).
This is Riley and Jordan "cutting a rug". This picture reveals that Riley, like Ashley, REALLY gets into the dance part of '50's day. You'll also notice that Riley is in a minority of 2nd grade boys who seems to enjoy it. The dance is on the stage in the cafeteria. It's really cute.
The "photo op" for the day includes a '55 Ford Thunderbird convertible coupe that a man from our church brings every year. I still haven't figured out how he got into this, but he's been there every year since my kids have. The girls love being able to show off their poodle skirts. Fantastic Friday is ALWAYS in January, and even though we've had temps in the '70's and '80's, Fantastic Friday is also ALWAYS cold. If you look close, you can see that Riley's lips are pretty blue.
(from left) Whitney, Kara, and Ashley are "old pros" at Fantastic Friday. This is the first year that Ashley wanted a poodle skirt! Progress! I've noticed that in 4th grade, there's much more giggling, planning, and "intentionality" (my favorite word) about who you will dance with. I don't even want to know what 5th grade is like!
I have known that Ashley is tall for her grade. I hope she stays tall, but I was one of the tallest in my 5th grade class. 5'1" -- where I stayed until I was 16 and got all the way up to 5'3". Ashley is 4'11". Here, she's dancing with (I think his name is Josh) who is about 4'6". They were having a great time.
Ashley's class for the picture. And a grand time was had by all.
"I have a very strict policy that no one cries alone in my presence." (variation on Truvy from Steel Magnolias)
Lately, for whatever reason, I'm even more of an emotional train wreck than usual. But, as a standard rule, I generally cry over EVERY OnStar radio commercial I hear: the kid whose mom was in a diabetic coma, the lady who just was in a wreck, but no one was hurt, but she SOBBED thanking OnStar for being there for her. Soon, I will need OnStar because my vision was blurred from my tears when I ran into another car!
Is it just me?
This has made me look at basically how SMALL my world is currently!! Most of these I'm having to REALLY stretch to come up with four things.
Four Jobs I’ve Had:
1. Lifeguard at Twin Lakes "Country Club" (neighborhood pool) and Louisiana Lions Camp
2. Resource Teacher, then 2nd grade teacher at Lakewood Elementary
3. Substitute teacher for Abilene ISD
4. PALS coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Texas
Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:
1. Steel Magnolias -- I really hate the part where I have to lay on the floor in fetal position and sob, but the trip home and laughs are worth it to me
2. City Slickers -- makes me laugh out loud
3. Sixteen Candles -- makes the horrible parts of high school seem funny
4. Monsters, Inc. -- just love it!
Four Books I Could Read Over and Over:
1. You've Gotta Keep Dancing -- Tim Hansel
2. Tender Mercy for a Mother's Soul -- Angela Thomas
3. The gospel of John. . . book of Daniel. . . Psalms. . . Philippians. . .lots more
4. Couplehood -- Paul Reiser
Four Places I’ve Lived:
I haven't even lived 4 places -- unless you count the ACU campus and Abilene as 2 separate places!:
1. Monroe, Louisiana
3. Temple, Texas
4. Abilene, Texas
Four TV Shows I Watch: This is so sad -- we've already established that I could really get into a sitcom in my day, but I truly can only come up with 2 shows that I watch on a regular basis (and one of them only because I can tolerate sitting through it with my husband, unlike some of his History Channel viewing):
1. Gilmore Girls
3. Local News?
4. CSI -- if it's not too gross or socially deviant -- so, never a new one!
Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation:
1. Winter Park, Colorado
2. San Antonio, Texas
3. Disney World
4. Ouray, Colorado
Four Websites I Visit Daily:
1. ishape.com -- my personalized fitness plan!
2. myyahoo.com -- my personalized internet news (and comics!)
3. Mike Cope's blog (and usually cruise through too many blogs to list here)
4. The Online Parallel Bible -- WAY cool! Check it out!
Four Favorite Foods:
1. Diet Coke -- I know it's not an actual food, but I truly couldn't make it without my DC!!
2. popcorn -- movie theater popcorn is my favorite
3. an excellent fajita made on a fresh flour tortilla
4. peanut butter
Four Places I’d Like to Be Right Now:
1. any vacation get-away with my husband
2. coffee with friends (where I drink Diet Coke! :-)
3. snow-skiing -- anywhere with good powder
4. visiting either of my two remaining grandparents
Four Bloggers I’m Tagging: (so, you think that of the 4 people that read this blog, all of them HAVE a blog?):
Starting the first of February the class takes turns before and after school taking orders from children. For $.25 they can purchase a construction-paper, die-cut heart that has Happy Valentine's Day stamped on it with 2 tootsie rolls attached (they used to have dum-dum suckers attached until the state of Texas banned those in school, but deemed tootsie rolls and chocolate health food). On Valentine's Day, Mrs. Moser's precious punkin's make the rounds at school delivering the Valentine wishes.
They use the proceeds from the sales to first of all, of course, pay back the loan, but then they have a class pizza party, buy t-shirts to tie-dye to wear at the end of the year, and donate a few books to the library. It's a pretty big money-maker, as you can tell!
Besides Riley's after-school shifts, I agreed that he and I could take the morning shift at one end of the school. So at about 7:55, he and I set up shop outside of the cafeteria waiting for the "big kids" to leave the cafeteria on the way to class.
It has been a most fascinating study in human nature, as well as male/female relationships. This scenario happened Wednesday morning:
Heart-throb (I was not aware this was his name until later) hands me a dollar. He would like to order one for his mom, grandma, grandpa, and aunt (they can order them for family members -- they are just delivered to the kid and the kid hand delivers it later). I didn't realize until later that Miss Cutie and Friend were lurking far behind heart-throb with many giggles. Heart-throb finishes his order and Miss Cutie and Friend watch him walk away and make sure he is most definitely gone.
Miss Cutie approaches and would like to order one for . . . um, let me think,. . . oh, I guess (very quiet whisper) "Heart-throb" while friend is scoping out the hall behind her making sure Heart-throb is, in fact, really gone. I thought two things at this point: 1)Miss Cutie has very good taste. Not only is Heart-throb a cutie, he's a REAL nice kid. Good for her. 2)Heart-throb has NO clue the giggling and gesture of love being poured out on him.
All of the ordering got done and the giggle-fest meandered on down the hall. In a moment, I look up and here comes Heart-throb! "Oh!" I'm thinking, "he must have remembered he should get one for some sweet little girl, or maybe Friend told him he BETTER get one for Miss Cutie." So, sweet Heart-throb walks up to the desk, smiling a huge smile: "I forgot to get one for my teachers!"
The drama of Valentine's Day is just beginning!
Thursday update: I received 4 more orders for Valentine's to be delivered to Heart-throb. Heart-throb ordered one for his teacher from last year (who Ashley had for math and in my most diplomatic manner I will say she is the least-nice teacher I have ever encountered).
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 2 Corinthians 2:14
Okay, we are being led in "triumphal procession". Sarah's paraphrase is: God is leading us in a parade!! ALWAYS it says!! We're always in a God-led-parade. Can you even imagine? The funny thing is that I shared this with several friends last night. One friend evidently envisioned me like this:
While I was picturing something more like this for myself:
At any rate, how can you not be joyful if you are in "triumphal procession" that is being led by God? What are we missing? And while we're in triumphal procession, God spreads the "fragrance of the knowledge of Him" through us. Do you have the fragrance of the knowledge of Him? What does it smell like to truly know God? Well, the next two verses in 2 Corinthians 2 tell us it depends on who you are:
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.
So, while Victory In Jesus truly parallels this verse, I may also be singing "I Love a Parade"!