And to All,... A Good Night!

The end of a wonderful Christmas Day in our home. We have no (blood) family in this town. That has left the 4 of us to become rather selfish with our Christmas Day. Maybe I'm doing my children a disservice, but it's pretty much a day devoted to whatever the world we wanna do. Which looked like this today: Wii, waffles, more Wii, a nap for me, more Wii, Ashley and Troy hunting, Wii challenge for Riley and me, a walk for Duchess and me, dinner, and now the Wii blazes on.

Oh... we got a Wii, can you tell? Back when two incomes were still rolling into this family, Santa sprung for a Wii and WiiFit for the fam. The WiiFit ... a little humbling, to say the least. I'm in not-bad-shape, but I can't get my WiiFit to even tell me I am my OWN age, much less any younger. Bummer. Leaves me with a goal, I guess.

I'm curious about the food traditions for Christmas for you... Breakfast? What's always on the menu? We have ALWAYS had 'monkey bread', but this year Troy wanted waffles. So, the kids agreed to waffles if I'll do monkey bread soon. Saturday it is. Also, we don't do turkey, et. al for Christmas day. I do something my whole family likes and will eat. Today, none of the cooking went too well. I burned the sausage with the waffles. The waffles didn't come out right. The dish I make for dinner we call "Angel Hair". Guess which kind of pasta I failed to pick up? *sigh* Again, this day is for screw ups and do-overs and rejoicing in the One whose mercies are new every morning. Good thing -- my cooking brain definitely took a holiday today!

That confession is especially for those friends that I boasted to yesterday "I am DONE with my shopping -- I plan ahead!!" Pride before the fall, as well as the spaghetti called "Angel Hair".

So tomorrow brings me back to more wrapping and planning and packing for another Christmas. Oh -- I didn't mention my ONE cooking success. Gingersnaps. OH. MY. STARS. I have easily eaten two dozen -- I'm not exaggerating a cookie, and may be underestimating. I got a WONDERFUL recipe that made a HUGE batch. Thankfully, after my gorging, I still have about 6 dozen to take to Louisiana. I really need them away from me. Maybe if I just eat them all at once...

Roxanne is Christmas without her daddy.

Judy is Christmas without her son.

John is Christmas without his son.

Prayers for each of these precious people and their families.

Hard Christmas for so many, but "we do not grieve as one without hope". Our hope lay in the hay thousands of years ago, just for us. May you find His blessings this season.


Good News of Great Joy for All the People

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:8-14

I mentioned about the 'big hoo-rah' at the Civic Center this weekend and that I interpreted (for the deaf) portions of it. I interpreted the above paragraph no fewer than 3 times. And every time it went way too fast --not only for me to interpret appropriately, but for anyone (especially the one interpreting) to really SAVOR that glorious news. I love it so much, and wanted to share it again here.

Two parts that I just want to camp out on:
1)I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
This isn't good news only for the people with pretty clothes, pretty breath, and good hair. This isn't good news only for the people who can buy good news when they need some. This isn't good news only for the people that life seems to already smile upon. This is good news OF GREAT JOY that is for ALL! THE PEOPLE!!! It's for you -- wondering if you will ever actually find a job and not knowing how you'll ever pay for a trip to the doctor even now that you are sick. It's for you -- staggering through the depths of grief without a road map and seemingly without a flicker of light. It's for you -- not able to believe sin brought your life to this point and having no idea if you'll ever be able to crawl out of the pit you're in. It's for you -- too busy with the hustle and bustle of this crazy season to be able to stop and think about the wonderful news.

It's for all of us, this hope. Imagine a brand-spankin' new baby. Little turtle eyes trying to blink away the bright light of this world, hair swirled and stuck to a new scalp with the aroma of new baby built in, and tongue tasting the air. How can you see a new baby and not have hope? What if that baby is our Savior? What if that baby will become the grown-up that will sacrifice it all for YOU? Oh, the hope that comes with the baby smell. It's good news of great joy for all the people.

2)Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
Right there, in the same sentence: God is IN THE HIGHEST -- and we have His favor. His favor rests on us, and the angels pray for peace for each of us. Precious, precious words.

In the middle of this, I read this (linked from Mike Cope's blog) and I PROMISE you will not regret reading it. And, like Mike, I shall steal the last two lines of the article:

And as the bus pulled away, all the Gainesville players crammed to one side and pressed their hands to the window, staring at these people they'd never met before, watching their waves and smiles disappearing into the night.

Anyway, with the economy six feet under and Christmas running on about three and a half reindeer, it's nice to know that one of the best presents you can give is still absolutely free.


Blessings, Merry Christmas, may you find His Hope and favor this year.


Found It!

Finally seem to have found my Christmas spirit! I said yesterday that I found it at TaMolly's (my favorite local Mexican food place) and that was partially true -- when it's 29* outside, a heaping plate of fajitas can help you get in the Christmas spirit! But it also helped that most of my obligations for Christmas were OVER at that point and it is now time to ENJOY!!

THIS is my favorite part of Christmas: my shopping -- grocery AND gifts -- is completely done. Concerts, parties, and programs are all finished. This last weekend was a good warm-up to Christmas spirit. Troy's family came in town -- his dad, his brother, brother's wife, and brother's son -- about 6 months younger than Riley. It was a BRIEF Christmas celebration, they didn't stay long, but we had a good time and we are thankful they were able to make the trip out. It was pretty much the only way we could do Christmas (on a weekend) with those guys. Our family was obligated here with another highlight of the weekend -- our church's Community Christmas Celebration. Troy was one of many folks who coordinated and orchestrated a beautiful worship service for Sunday, so we would be unable to leave town for this weekend.

So, I cooked a grand meal for all of us for a "Christmas lunch" for Saturday afternoon before we opened presents. Then Troy had to leave to oversee some of the hoo-ha surrounding the church service while the rest of us played and rested. Later we all went downtown to see "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Paramount. I've seen IAWL at least a million six times, but all of them on TV, which, I now know, cuts out A LOT of that movie. If you can see it full length -- do that. It is so precious. Also, the danger (for me) in watching it on TV is that I'm always just kind of half-watching AND ... cleaning the kitchen, or wrapping gifts, or folding laundry. Whatever. I know the TV version starts with the prayers all going up for George Bailey, but I had forgotten. And there I started crying while the movie was starting. We can never know how much others' prayers for us alter the course of our lives, therefore we can never be truly grateful for it.

Sunday morning, even with extra time to get ready, was still quite hectic around here. Finally made it to the civic center (where the Community Celebration was going to be). Troy was already there on his little walkie-talkie! I interpreted some of the songs. It was a beautiful, meaningful service. As much as I know LOTS of work went into it, I also know all of the 'what-ifs' that didn't happen. God was in every little detail so that no one would walk away thinking of a goof, but thinking of the glorious miracle that came to our planet in the form of a little baby.

I asked Tammy to bring her camera Sunday morning so that we could capture a pic while we were all together and the kids all had on clean clothes. ALMOST all of the pics in this post are hers. It was good to get a decent pic of all of us -- one of us is new in the family! Todd married Amy this summer in San Diego. This is her first Christmas as a Stirman -- and what a wonderful addition she is! I enjoy her immensely, as do the rest of my family.

Then off to TaMolly's we went -- where my Christmas spirit seemed to finally find me!

Which brings me to the only picture here that Tammy didn't take. This is my day:

I have been in front of the fire with my bunnies. I have read -- my Bible, Stephen King, and Reader's Digest (I'm not picky -- just didn't want to get up). The fire has died down a little since I've been in here -- reading blogs and writing one! I had one thing on my 'to do' list today: NOTHING!! I wanted to sit by the fire and read. And I have and it has been GLORIOUS. Ashley and I are supposed to work out. She wants to stay in basketball shape over the break because her coach has promised her she shall die on January 6 when she returns to practice. I am currently listening to "A Very Veggie Christmas" on purpose. Yes, my children are too old for it, but it has become a family tradition and I love it. So, I must return to my nothingness and stoke the fire so that I can prop my bunnies to stay warm. I thought it was supposed to get up to 40* today, but it's going to have to hurry to get over 35*!!

Stay warm, and find a way to do NOTHING in your holiday!


Christmas Memories

Last year when I wrote about celebrating Christmas in honor of my Poppa Max, who we lost in October of 2007, I mentioned his efforts to keep the magic of Christmas alive for little ones. The Christmas before that (2006), I was really stumped about what to give Poppa Max for Christmas. Here was a 90-year-old man, basically house-bound, and medication made it all but impossible for him to follow the plot of a movie or book. I did all I know to do: I wrote something for him -- I told him how much memories of Christmas with him meant to me.

Turns out that was Poppa Max's last Christmas this side of heaven. So when we cleaned out his office, I was given the framed essay back. I thought I had shared it here, but don't guess I have:

"As the only daughter of the only child of Max and Maxine Riley, I was never in need. Gifts and attention were both lavished on me to almost embarrassing proportions.

Of course, Christmas was no exception. In the weeks before the big day I would crawl around, through, over, and under the maze of gifts beneath Nonna and Poppa's tree -- but only after I had thoroughly exhausted all enjoyment from the Christmas tree box. Under the tree I would marvel at the growing number of gifts and check to be sure there were plenty for me.

Christmas Eve was most excruciating as Kevin and I pinballed around the house rushing the adults to finish making dinner, finish serving dinner, and then finish eating dinner. The huge pile of gifts had been relocated to under our tree and they were simply begging us to dive in!

One Christmas Eve -- too many ago to count -- Max had a great idea to help me while away the time after dinner. We called some tiny friends from church -- probably some faithful "customers' of Maxine's gum wallet -- and convinced them that Poppa's enormous bass voice could only be the voice of Santa Claus. Some of the children told "Santa" that, yes, they would go to bed on time, and of course they had been good all year. One little one was simply stunned into uncharacteristic silence, so her mother had to chime in, "Santa, Candace is nodding!"

I think we did that for at least two or three years. I don't know why we started or why we stopped, but that is still one of my most precious Christmas memories. I have very vague memories of a few of the many gifts through the years: a Barbie airplane, Merlin, some beanbag chairs -- all long gone. But I'll never forget when Poppa Max joined in and extended the magic of Christmas."


Coffee Group Defined

I am a blessed woman on SO many levels. One is the abundant riches I have in friendships. I have friends far and near that time has forged into sisters for me. One of those beautiful friends sent me a video this week that just "got it". Then another beautiful friend sent me the same video. I posted it on Coffee Group website because it really defines who we are and what we mean to each other in Coffee Group. I encourage you to take a few minutes, grab a Kleenex, and go check it out.


1 Corinthians 13, Christmas Style

This is a blog repeat for me. I got it via email years ago, and it struck a chord with me, so I printed it pretty and framed it. It is included in my Christmas decorations and I always stop and read every line before I put it out. Along these lines, I have proclaimed that my outdoor Christmas lights do testify that Jesus came so that EVERYONE'S light could shine -- not just those whose lights shine all in a pretty row with no sagging or whopper-jawed spots. That's grace, and those whopper-jawed lights are on my home. And like Rudolph, they shine their little crooked hearts out.
May this season be a blessing to you and yours.
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, prparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.
But giving the gift of love will endure.
---Author Unknown
I Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."


Another Survey

Well, how 'bout THAT for an unannounced little bloggy break? I would love to tell you that I was feeding the poor while entertaining holiday guests in my beautifully decorated home, but no. I have no idea WHAT I was doing. I did go to physical therapy a few times and that is just a really good thing, people. Get yourself into some physical therapy to fix what ails you! My friend Megan will be one soon -- and she will rock! And, I did a little decorating and a little wrapping but still have lots to put together around here. Not much left to wrap, though -- when your family goes from 2 incomes to one a month or two before the bottom falls out of the stock market, Christmas isn't quite as extravagant as other years. I'm not complaining -- no one in my family can really think of anything they NEED, so that's a pretty sweet Christmas gift right there.

So while I continue to finish up holiday obligations over here, I have a question for you: what song is sung in a church setting (devos, kids worship, house church, etc. all count) that you would really be okay to NEVER hear/sing again? Not for emotional reasons, just because it bugs you? Leave out the ones that just don't make sense scripturally ("There Shall Be Showers of Blessing" and "Mansion Over the Hilltop" come to mind -- and "Back, Back Train") but just give me one ... or five, your call ... that you just don't enjoy.

I'll tell you mine, and I do so with trepidation because it comes from beautiful scripture, but IT. HAS. BEEN. DONE. Again and again and again my soul has panted for Him as a deer pants for the water. Now we sing a newer version at church that has a better feel/ melody/ something that I ENJOY but I really don't enjoy the late '80's version of "As the Deer". Sorry if it's your favorite.

Someone has to tell my husband that he has to comment because his is hilarious. He's sung it a time or twelve at funerals and if you need to sing it at his funeral, you are not invited to come OR sing! :-)

THIS song is an 'oldie' that I am loving lately. I bought Travis Cottrell's Christmas CD off iTunes, and this is the last song. I am LOVING it being in with my Christmas music. Enjoy.


Good Things Out There

Moms can relate.

Jana shares some awesome wisdom of elves that we all can live by.

Troy's grandmother is in heaven clapping her hands in glee at the way you can make a Target bag become a beautiful topper to your gift. Seriously, are holiday bows that much of a problem in our landfills?

Tip Junkie is at it again! Precious gifts to make (not gonna happen here) or even cute Christmas cards (these were in a contest --not for the craftily challenged!)

This isn't how I feel about Christmas, but the light guy takes me to my childhood -- naming no names, of course... I'm still laughing.

This IS how I feel about Christmas:


Fitness Friday: Fit for Life

Okay, I've had a 'Fitness Friday' request, and will get to it, but my current ailment has caused me to think about why it's important to be fit. Last week, as we all know by now, I sprained my ankle fairly badly out on a jog. Good reason NOT to jog, you might say, and we can sure argue that all day long. But immediately my body had to make some compensation. First, I was on crutches for the better part of 5 days. I was VERY thankful I've been lifting weights, as much as I HATE doing it! It wasn't easy, but my upper body was able to drag around my plenty-ample lower body when necessary. No doubt, it worked WAY better when I got crutches the right size (I used Riley's -- about 5 inches too short-- for the first 24 hours). I was very thankful that I didn't have to add back, neck, shoulder, and arm pain to my foot pain.

My dad has had his fair share of surgeries in this life. One thing I have learned from and appreciated about him is that he works HARD to go into a surgery in top cardiovascular shape to help his body recover from surgery. It sounds crazy (a little bit) until you think about why we work out. He's not working out to improve a running time or fit into a smaller size, he is working out so that his cardiovascular system is ready for the stress and trauma it will go through under anesthesia and will recover from it quickly. Sure, he KNOWS that as soon as he has the surgery his body won't be able to do what it could the day BEFORE the surgery. Some may consider this a setback, unless they were doing their 'training' for such a time as this!

We dont' always know when life will throw us a curve ball (or a pecan to step on) and we will end up under anesthesia or on crutches. Exercise not only strengthens your system to handle such physical stress, but keeps us mentally healthy under such conditions. I would encourage you to be thinking about how you train for life, or whatever life will throw at you!

I encouraged someone about getting fit this week, and they said that my admonition had really helped and they wanted me to share it with you. I actually think I may have, but don't see it right off the bat here, so let's hear it again anyway, shall we?

Said friend has health issues because of weight, but knows, because she is wise, that December 1 isn't REALLY the time to go on some crazy all-or-nothing diet, right? (It's not, people, trust me on this). However, the entire month of December is entirely TOO LONG to go 'not caring' or knowing that you're starting a diet Jan. 1 and overeating for the entire month to 'get ready'. I encouraged her to do this one thing: Weigh every day. Again, I KNOW there can be all manner of emotional baggage tied with whatever that number is, but you need to know it and face it. Do NOT allow that number to judge you, but to be a reference tool about what is really going on in your body. And you simply ask yourself, as you look at that number: "What can I do TODAY to make that number a little lower tomorrow?" The first thing you can do is drink a LOT of water. It helps, but then reality has to kick in, and the next day, you'll need to drink a LOT of water, and stop eating a little earlier in the evening, or leave a few extra bites on your plate. It isn't making the scale your judge or master, but it's becoming aware of the little tiny changes you can make to improve your health.

This I did find looking through old Fitness Friday: "The world isn't at a shortage of information about how to lose weight or become more fit." We all know what to do, we have to make the daily decision to do it.

Be fit for life!


Winter Cooking

Cold front came through! When Ashley was little, because I love Winnie the Pooh and because I love words, I taught her to say, "It's a blustery day!" when it was, in fact, blustery. Very funny to hear coming from a little golden, curly-haired, round-tummied toddler. And it has been most blustery out here in the desert.

Today is amazingly busy -- I am substitute teaching in PE at the elementary school (yes, me and my boot!), have physical therapy after school, then Ashley has a basketball game until well past my bedtime. I confess I had my alarm set for my 5:30 a.m. bicycle class, but just couldn't do it today. Anytime I do that, I usually lay in bed wide awake feeling guilty for skipping, but not today! Slept that extra hour just fine, thankyouverymuch! With such a busy day that is also cold, it just calls for soup in the crock pot, doesn't it? Today it's tortilla soup. Oh, I have so many yummy soups I love to make!

I put my 'menu plan' on our family calendar in pencil at the bottom of each day's square. I really do it for myself -- my shopping, and to know what to set out in the morning, but of course the kids use it to judge exactly how seriously they should snack after school! A few years ago, Riley hadn't really gotten the hang of reading cursive and I was trying a new crock-pot recipe that the book called, not very creatively, "Crock Beef" -- and that was on our menu.

Riley checked the calendar/ menu and asked, "We're seriously having 'Crock Barf' for dinner?" Which was funny enough -- until I made it. It was awful, inedible, and dinner for Duchess that night. It was basically 'Crock Barf'. A night for Crock Pot meals always makes me think of the night I made Crock Barf for dinner.

Besides a bubbling soup in the crock pot, a cold night at home also calls for homemade chocolate chip cookies in the oven, and/ or a fire to roast marshmallows over. Yes, at this house, if a fire gets going, marshmallows get roasted. I LOVE a golden brown, almost liquified roasted marshmallow.

What about you? When the cold wind blows, you just HAVE to have a big pot of .... ? what? on the stove? Or what baking in the oven?

Also, if you have a recipe to share, feel free to ask to be a contributor to this recipe blog, or just email it to me and I'll post it over there, giving you ALL the credit/ glory, of course.


Quiet Christmas Tradition

In backwards order, some answers or discussion: The original singers, yes, The Byrds are who I was looking for. I thought it was the Mamas and the Papas, though I thought Roxanne's guess of Peter, Paul, and Mary was a good one, too. And, yes, Susan, the lyrics came from the book of Ecclesiastes, so I guess we can credit Solomon with the lyrics for that hit song.

Favorite Christmas song right now? Any of them. I'm just starting to listen to my CD's. I really like this one, because Riley loves it and loves to sing along:

And Stephanie mentioned this perennial favorite at my house. Warning: this will STICK inside your head until you will beg for a lobotomy to have it removed.

And too many boxes of Christmas decorations? I think anything more than 5 is getting over the top. And I've got some culling to do to get to 5 -- or I could always buy bigger boxes, adding the bonus that there would be no possible way I would be able to get them out of the attic.

No one at my house wanted to go to the Christmas parade this year and between homework, meetings, and my own achy foot from PT, it was a good thing no one wanted to go I guess. Riley and I did head downtown to hear a friend sing before the parade was to start. I started feeling guilty that I wasn't forcing this Christmas tradition on my family. Then, when I got down there, I realized what a good thing it would be to not go. To help rationalize, this did occur to me: I hate crowds. Everyone in my family hates crowds. Add to that Abilene's downtown has no place for hobbledy folks like me to park anywhere close, I began to wonder WHY I felt the need to drag my family to the crowded place that would make my foot hurt. At some point, our Christmas tradition has included the parade, and if we continue playing in the band, I'm sure it will again. But for now, our more enjoyable traditions include a viewing of 'Elf' together in our jammies, making toffee and peanut brittle together to give as teacher gifts, buying gifts for our 'Giving Tree' at church. And monkey bread Christmas morning. Those are my favorite Christmas traditions for my family right now. Subject to change!


A Survey/ Quiz

This will be the most random group of questions you will see today, but EASY (one of them, anyway).

a) How many boxes of Christmas decorations/ gear is too much? I'm pretty sure I'm there and need to cull down...

b) Favorite Christmas song today?

c) Does anyone (besides my father who googled it for me) know who sang the song, "Turn, Turn, Turn"? (to everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn turn...)

Just some questions for ya...


Monday, Monday

Can you believe it's December 1 ALREADY? Remember about a month ago when I said you still have 2/12 of the year left? We're down to 1/12, and we all know it is the craziest 1/12 (competing only with May)!

The foot/ankle continues to heal, I continue to need to tell my sad little story while I hobble around. Yesterday I made the mistake of looking at the paperwork that came with my lovely boot. It wasn't a bill, so I don't think I'll owe the full amount, but let me just say that I don't even consider purchasing shoes half as much as this, and, ironically enough, the only shoes I will consider paying 1/4 of the cost of this are my running shoes. I may need to wear this longer than 3 weeks to get my money's worth. I am loving having a warm foot, though, and I'm most thankful I wasn't wearing this thing in August!

As I get the standard, "bless your heart", "how long do you have to wear that thing", responses, I realize the advantage in getting to be far enough along in life to be training to turn 40. I'm not in a hurry. This is where I am right now -- I have a hurt foot. Thankfully, it's not hurt too horribly bad, thankfully it SHOULD heal correctly, and thankfully I'm willing to give it time. This is my time to heal. Of course, it makes me think -- most things do! We are generally so impatient with ourselves and others about time to heal -- be it from physical wounds or emotional wounds. It's hard to be in pain -- we just want to feel better. It's hard to see others in pain -- we just want them to feel better. Again, the advantage in being far enough along on my journey is to know: feeling better doesn't equal total healing. Feeling better means healing has begun, but healing takes time.

If this is your time to heal, be patient with yourself. Take the time necessary. If it is your friend's time to heal, be patient with your friend. Give him/ her time to recover, and see what you can do for your friend while s/he heals.

For me? It's all good. I've got one VERY expensive little shoe to wear to help me heal!


A Few Good Things...

This is by Joshilyn -- not only an amazing author (like, of the actual published variety, not just fancied in her head like me) but she is also my friend. Okay, it's a facebook friendship and she would never know it if I walked by her and smacked her in the head, but we are TIGHT, I tell ya. And you will NOT be sorry if you spend a few minutes to read THIS. Even if you only get as far as the digression -- yet another reason I love her so -- you really won't be sorry. Oh, but you may want to clear any liquids from your mouth so as to save spewing them on the computer screen.

This is REALLY deep -- I keep coming back to it and thinking on it again and again. Check it out. Bookmark it. Think it through...

Since I'm almost starting to walk without limping, I had to live vicariously through other's accomplishments this week. This one was fun.

And, I just obviously love this guy. I need to hang out with him for a little while...


Communication is very, very fragile

This reminds me of many conversations I have in my house. I hate to tell them, but communication between the genders is not likely to get any better any time soon.


Injured... Injured Bad

Well, I am indeed injured, but it's not THAT bad -- and it certainly isn't in THAT way. Yes, that video is making a repeat appearance on my blog. It still makes me laugh out loud, and it closes with a key phrase: "injured bad". I'm injured!

You may recall that I was injured a few years ago (if you were reading then AND now, you deserve a medal) and really had no great story to go with it. Same thing. Out running, rolled my ankle (because I stepped on something -- I think a pecan), hit the deck, scraped my hands, knee, and elbow. I lay in the middle of the street rolling and crying and asking God how in heaven's name I was going to get home (I was less than a mile from home, but too far to crawl!!) Sweet Melinda (now I know) cruised by in her Escalade and drawled out the window, "Are you all right?" That precious Angel in the Escalade gave me a ride home where I cried some more and iced and propped and missed my daughter being high scorer in her Monday night basketball game.

Yesterday I got 'worked in' at the orthopedist's (which actually took less time than when I went last week and had an appointment set up for 5 weeks) and learned that I have a 'garden variety sprain'. So here's your lovely ginormous boot to wear until you can see me again right before Christmas.

So I'm literally limping along, cruising H-E-B in my scooter and bossing my family around. I'm thankful for the boot, I'm thankful my doctor knows I want this thing HEALED CORRECTLY 'cause I've got training to do (I'm training to turn 40). I'm thankful for my sweet family who is doing what they can to help out.

I do have quite a bit of hobbling to do this morning to get us off, but then I will go and prop my foot and do more bossing! May you have a glorious Thanksgiving and find many reasons to be thankful.


Checking In...

Well, I am slowly sliding -- actually waddling due to recent caloric consumption -- into real life and I am not very pleased with it. I really enjoyed my not-real life so very much.

And, of course, my precious husband was most excited about our weekend away. He was more worried about whether or not any students were going to be expecting him Friday afternoon. Once he figured out he was in the clear there, all was good. I asked him SOOO many times about missing hunting, "Are you SURE you don't mind??" he finally said, "Babe! It's one weekend out of 9. No worries!" How cute is he?

You know how you get in your head how things will be and start to get mad about it before it actually happens? I was SO worked up and just positive that Troy would be really disappointed in not hunting that by Thursday I thought (not for long, but the thought did cross my mind) about calling him and screeching: "IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GO THIS WEEKEND THAT IS JUST! FINE!! I WILL HAVE A GLORIOUS WEEKEND ALL! BY! MYSELF!!" Now it's funny -- actually, I think the comic effect of it is what kept me from doing it. When I told Troy about that today, he said, "What made you think that?" "Oh, just my crazy, crazy head...!"

And, of course, went to breakfast the first morning and the only other couple there was a couple from Temple whose son was in Ashley's pre-school class for 3 years in a row. We don't know them well, but that was funny. The B&B owner, a salty, say-anything kind of guy, drawled, "Well, at least you were with your own spouses; we've had that happen..."

It was GLORIOUS to just 'be' with my hubby. It was wonderful to go and do whatever, whenever, and however we wanted. For the record, it wasn't much, and might be boring to most people, but it was great. These things did make me laugh about being in Small Town, Texas:
  • Chicken-fried BACON (yes, bacon) was served for breakfast yesterday. Yes, I ate it, yes, it was as gloriously wonderful as it sounds.
  • We pumped gas at a place that didn't require you to prepay.
  • I stood behind a gentleman named 'Conrad'. I know, because his name was stamped into his leather belt.
  • We ordered the pecan pie with Jack Daniels ice cream for dessert last night. Y'all the PECAN PIE was fried!! I have consumed more fried food in the last 48 hours than in the last 12 months combined. P.S. Jack Daniels ice cream? Oh, yeah...!

All in all, it was so great. Every time Troy and I do that -- take just a little time for the two of us -- we agree it is well worth the financial and time investment. But we just let life keep rolling by for a year or two and forget to make it a priority. I think we've been better about it in the last few years. Probably because we have seen what a mess we become when we don't...

One last thing: I know I asked you to pray, pray about God being in the details. I need to sit and write all of the little tiny things that God took care of so beautifully and perfectly for us. I hope it will teach me to breathe that prayer far more often: "God, be in the details..." He really is, and as our loving parent longs to take care of us and delight us. It's only when we snatch back trying to take care of the details ourselves that the biggest mess is made.

God, be in the details...


The Big Surprise!

Y'all, I am a nervous wreck! I'm trying to pull off the biggest surprise thus far in our marriage that, at the time, sounded like a good idea.

With Troy changing jobs and me quitting my job this year, we didn't quite work in a summer vacation -- family or otherwise. And if ever anyone could USE a vacation, it's when trying to figure out a new job. So, I had such a grand idea -- I would KIDNAP my husband for our anniversary, forcing him to break away from work and church duties and perhaps relax a little.

I even took into account that it would be deer season, but AT THE TIME, he didn't have a place to go hunt unless someone else invited him. One buddy left open a 'standing invitation' to go anytime, but I got in touch with said buddy and told him, "you can't go this weekend!" All was cool...

I think it was 3 days before the season opened Troy settled on a great opportunity for a lease not too far away. He didn't hunt the first weekend, just getting things ready. This weekend is supposed to be perfect weather for hunting. Troy's planning on being out there all day. Only, he won't be in this county. I am REALLY nervous about how this will go over. And if you're thinking, "Well, he'll just have to get over that..." then you are not married to a hunter. If you're thinking, "Oh, bless her soul. I'll say a prayer..." then you totally get it.

This week has made me question the wisdom of getting married during deer season anyway. Believe me, if it were this big of a deal to him 16 years ago, we wouldn't have. Troy knew a guy that moved his wedding up so that he wouldn't get married on opening day of deer season. Later, they divorced because she was fed up with him hunting all the time (is the story I got -- I'm sure it's far more complicated than that). But, she kind of knew what she was getting into, right?

For Troy, deer hunting has become his "thing" over the course of our marriage, and even more so in the last 5-8 years. And, as much as I don't care to join him, I'm thankful he has it. My exercise is where I go to get my head put back on the right way -- it unknots my tangled brain. Deer hunting does that for Troy -- and I get that. I just hope that a weekend away with his wife comes in a close second.

Last night, to try to calm my nerves about how this would go over, I asked him, "Do you love me more than hunting?" The pause told me he knew the right answer, but he also thought it was unfair of me to ask... :-)

Every time I have been tempted to worry about the one million six ways this weekend could go wrong, I lift a prayer, "Lord, be in the details!" And He is. Feel free to join me in prayer!

Oh, and happy anniversary to my sweetie!


Randomness for Tuesday

  • The last week has taught me a LOT: about community, grieving, grieving with hope, and grieving with community. What a blessing. I have MUCH more to say about that, as you might imagine. Stay tuned...
  • Speaking of grieving (kind of joking) my iPhone quit working Saturday. It was right before the funeral, so all was in perspective. It is currently in a box in a FedEx warehouse waiting to be replaced by my nearest Apple store (200 miles away). Under warranty, all free (so far).
  • 11 years ago today was also a Tuesday and by this time of night, I was cuddling a GINORMOUS newborn little boy who screamed his way into the world about 5:30 a.m. He was pretty grouchy, and basically displeased with this planet for the first 3 years of life, and still has to set the rest of us straight on occasion. He is now one of my greatest joys and I'm so thankful for him. Happy birthday, little man. It's going too fast.
  • Since my baby is 11 years old, that means in 3 days I've been married 16 years. Yay!
  • Can't believe Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is 5 weeks away. Wow. Who's ready? Not me!

That is all. For now.


Fitness Friday: Stress

For today's Fitness Friday, I am filled with thoughts of this difficult week. It calls to mind how hard stress of any kind can be on a body. Most of us live our lives at full throttle for so long our bodies start to crumble. We toss in some meds, patch up what's crumbling, and go back to full throttle. Your car, your computer, your children, and you are not created to go full throttle 100% of the time. I've already talked about this to some degree when I mentioned how valuable sleep is for fitness. Sleep is a body's way of healing and restoring itself.

Stress, be it from major life upheavals or just life in general, wears a body down. When you are stressed here are just a few things that happen in your body:

your stomach dumps excessive acid. This can cause heartburn and, over time, erode your esophageal lining (speaking from experience on this one).

you clench your teeth/ jaws. This wears out your teeth as well as puts undue pressure on your joints/ skull.

your breathing becomes shallow. Most of us go through life only filling our lungs about half-way. Which only fills your body half-way with oxygen. Oxygen is a good and glorious thing, and all of your organs are much happier when fully oxygenated.

you jut your chin forward (do an evaluation of how you are currently sitting right now at your computer). If your head isn't aligned over your torso/ shoulders, you could be adding up to 25 pounds of extra pressure to your neck and shoulders.

To de-stress: it takes practice, but you can train yourself to not take on the physical signs of stress. Straighten up your spine to put your head in place. Take DEEP breaths -- I told my 2nd graders to breathe so deeply that their tummy poked out! Relax your jaw. We carry stress in our face and hands. Stretch out your fingers while you relax your jaw. And if you have time, do something that is a stress reliever for you: curl in a chair with a book, go for a walk, call a friend. I have gotten to the point in my fitness that a HARD workout is one of the best things I can do for a grouchy/ cluttered/ stressed brain. I love it -- but that may not be for you. Laughter is another one of those healing things -- watch a movie sure to make you laugh out loud.

In short: be good to yourself. Whatever is causing you stress shouldn't be allowed to take your health, also. Deep breath in, deep breath out, one foot in front of the other, moving on.


Grief from the Sidelines Cont.

It's odd -- I have wanted to write/ blog about how we, as Christian brothers and sisters, don't usually handle grief well. And I truly started thinking about this subject thinking of people who have had enormous pain in their lives due to sin: their own or another's. It doesn't matter -- we don't know what to do with too much pain and grief. We either say nothing, or we have some awful theology as if we know why this had to happen.

And I don't mean I'm pointing fingers. I've SEEN it when I've gone through a particularly difficult time -- it was as if I had an invisible boundary about 10 feet around me that precious few people would penetrate, frequently even to say 'hello'. People don't know what to say or do, and so do nothing. Of course I vowed to not be that way, and learn from my own experience. Until this summer... One man was living a horrific nightmare due to some crazy choices his wife made. And when I saw him I couldn't even say anything. I didn't know what TO say. I DID say, "hello' -- but that was IT. I totally failed.

I was confessing this to another lady who has been there because of some crazy choices HER husband made (PEOPLE!! You cause your spouses grief when you make crazy choices!! Cut it out!!). She had an awesome response:

My favorite TV show is Law and Order for many reasons: the detectives, the
plots, the lawyers, the struggles as the justice system plays out in often very
unjust ways. Kind of like life. After informing the family of a loved one's
murder and the grieving begins, the detectives often say, "I'm sorry for your
loss." I've seen and heard of a lot of terrible things coming into people's
lives, but I haven't seen anything yet that wouldn't be eased a bit by an "I'm
sorry about your pain" or "I'm sorry you're hurting." It's short, sweet, doesn't
try to solve the person's problem--which is pretty arrogant anyway!--and is
generally socially appropriate. If a TV show can get it right, surely God's
people can give it a shot? I believe it's worth the risk.

And, when we look at it, there's very little risk involved. The only risk is feeling awkward -- and I have to tell myself that others' pain isn't about me; it's not about me feeling awkward, or me not knowing what to say, or knowing what to DO. Others' pain is about them needing comfort and needing to get to the foot of the Throne to pour out their pain. May I carry them there...

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5


Grief From the Sidelines

Here is a picture of me (left) with my friend Judy (right). Notice I am LAUGHING! Because Judy brings amazing joy to so many people. She is a visionary, dreamer -- but in the completely practical sense -- REALLY! She softly speaks words of great wisdom. And we all nod and say, "Another one of Judy's jewels..."

This is Judy's family. Aren't they beautiful? Judy's claim to fame is having babies in 3 different decades, then adopting a son when he was in his teens! Her precious Tom is back left with his hand on Cade (90's baby!) Johnny, the adopted son is next to Tom and then there is Johnny's gorgeous wife (y'all, she has the most amazing skin I have ever seen on a real person). Tom's mom, Billie, is next to Cade. Lori (70's baby!) is holding Macy (I guess that's Macy? That would make this pic a few years old). I guess that Lori's husband, Paul, took this picture, because he isn't in there! Then there's Judy with Ben (80's baby!)
Ben has been in medical school in Houston. Monday he went to the hospital with chest pains and a friend that he grew up with went with him. Tom, Judy, and Lori chartered a plane to go see to him. Before their plane landed in Houston, Ben had passed away.
Today, many of us went to the airport to meet Tom, Judy, and Lori when they flew back here. Thankfully, they have much family here in town and most of them were at the airport, as well. I'll be honest: it was awful. It was SO much pain in one place, so much raw grief. Just horrible. At the same time, it was beautiful. The plane was delayed about an hour because of bad weather, so for an hour, I watched the faces of church family love, cry, and laugh as we gathered around. And they were so amazingly beautiful. And then we wept and cried and held and hugged as we helped all of the family gather together and share their pain.
Women are funny: we must DO when something happens. We must bake, clean, organize, and tend to. We know in our hearts it won't take away anyones pain, but we simply must DO. Probably for selfish reasons -- we want to feel of use, to help, I don't know. So many of us DID and shopped and got ice and cleaned (Judy's house didn't need it, but we pretended) and fed the dogs. And then we cried. A lot. And we aren't finished. Actually, I don't think we've gotten warmed up well.
Grief from the sidelines is tough. May the Lord guide my mouth away from those ridiculous words searching for reason or goodness from awfulness, and may I simply proclaim my love and desire to do what I can. And may I be there.
Ben was a precious gentle spirit, who was planning to fly-fish across Texas. I think he's got a much bigger pond to fish in now.


Tag Game

Ruth tagged me. My directions are to post the 6th picture in my 6th album on my computer and then explain it.
The only way I can explain this picture is: a) I don't delete (enough) pics before I download them to my computer and b)this is what happens when you allow your children to hold your camera. I know this was at Chelsea's wedding. It was beautiful -- at a winery in the Dallas area. After the wedding, the guests were asked to step onto the porch/ west-facing furnace. (Sorry, Chels, it was HOT!!) However, it allowed me to see some folks that I hadn't seen earlier (and I evidently let my kids play with the camera just to occupy them). I thought we were waiting for the couple to join us out in the furnace, but turns out, we were waiting for the folks to transform the wedding area into the reception area. It was really cool (meant in both ways). At this point, I am out on the porch visiting with someone -- I don't know, but I seem to be VERY focused, don't I? :-) We knew Chelsea from our "growing up years" (Chelsea was actually growing up, Troy and I were newlyweds/ new parents STILL growing up) in Temple. It was great to see her precious family, as well as many of the people that love them that came in for the wedding. In 4 short weeks, her older sister is getting married and I will be able to see some of the same wonderful people!! Yes, that's two weddings in 7 months. Pray for the parents!

Here is picture 5, at a little more respectable distance. Aren't we simply glowing?


PG-13 Vocabulary Lesson

This morning on the way to church (me with the kids -- Troy already there for singing practice) we passed a billboard about a local hospital and it said something about 'mammography' -- 'excellence in mammography'? I don't know.

That word cracked Riley up (10 year old boy). "WHAT is mammography??? The study of mammoths??" (No, that is NOT where I'm going with this...)

Never passing up a linguistics lesson, I said, "Well, let's go back to the root ... mammary. (Oh, indeed, there is MUCH rolling of the eyes from Ashley -- 12 year old girl) Mammary glands are what cause women to be able to produce milk. And women need a mammogram to be sure they (I did explain what 'they' are but won't elaborate here -- I get weird enough googles on my blog...) are healthy."

At this point, I start thinking about explaining the word 'mammogram'. And all I can think of is 'telegram' -- sending a message over telephone wires -- or 'candy-gram' -- sending a message with candy. So, it would seem reasonable to me that a 'mammogram' would be sending a message using the mammary glands (or the anatomy that houses them). AND I got so tickled I couldn't continue my academic discussion of the word mammary.

I would like to make a motion that we change the name to 'mammoscan'!


The Lingo, it is A-Changin'!

Recently, while volunteering at the elementary school, I heard a mom,
roughly my age, cheering on a kindergartener by saying, "All right!
Way to represent!"

I guess "good job!" is SO 2007...

Sent from my iPhone


Fitness Friday: Push it to the Limit...

First an announcement: my precious doodlebug gal made the 'A' basketball team out of about 55 girls trying out. Woo-hoo! Remember the scene in Forrest Gump (man, I'm tearing up just thinking about it) when Forrest meets little Forrest and asks Jenny, "Is he smart... or... is he like me?" And he weeps when Jenny tells him, "Oh, he's very smart Forrest..." That's how I feel about having a child who can dribble a basketball and move in a forward motion at the same time. I weep. She is not like me, bless her sweet soul.

So, Fitness Friday. If you live anywhere close to me and are enjoying this AMAZING weather, I do hope you are being active and enjoying it. Walk, bike, roller blade, hopscotch, you name it, GET OUT IN IT!! If, of course, you live north of here where they got a few feet of snow yesterday -- find a treadmill! :-) I wouldn't survive snowy runs too well!

If you are already a regular exerciser, go you! However, don't fall into a rut. It's VERY easy to let your walks turn into strolls, your bike ride turn into a cruise, and your swim can become a sweet little float. Your body quickly adapts to an exercise routine making your muscles more efficient. This means that you are getting stronger, but it also means you will burn fewer calories per workout.

There are several ways to challenge yourself. I think I've said it before, but I think a heart rate monitor is the best tool you can use to be aware of the intensity you are maintaining. Do you know of anyone who has been walking the same route, the same distance for years, and can't figure out why they are gaining weight? It's because the body has adjusted. That is no longer a workout, just a thing your body does.

To make it a challenge, try to improve your time. Even varying your route can keep you from falling into the same speed routine. I had a doctor encourage me to get my mile (WALKING) to 12 minutes. That's why I started running -- I would rather run a mile than try to walk one as fast as I possibly can. Improve your time. Challenge your heart rate. Change your route.

To keep from hitting a wall, one technique I've learned about is the 3/1 method: spend 3 weeks REALLY pushing your intensity in your workouts. Challenge how much weight you're lifting, how fast you can walk or run or bike a mile, push yourself with each workout. On the fourth week, take a break. Don't stop exercising, but lower your intensity. Leave the watch and/ or heart-rate monitor at home. Walk the dog, play with the kids, whatever. Make it an 'active recovery' week.

Besides constantly challenging your workout intensity, vary your 'exercise of choice' every once in a while. Maybe on your 'easy week' switch your runs to swims or your bike rides to walks. Change things around. Find a fun way to move. Just keep moving!


A People Belonging to God

Well, hello there internets. Several kind folks have sent others my way to hear some real preachin'! Welcome, one and all -- red and blue states, R's and D's (and if that means "Researchers and Developers" to you -- welcome, also), and all in between. Happy to have you here for a while and you are always welcome to chat!
Now, to the vocabulary: yes, mugwumping is now an acceptable word for you to use. (Actually, when I saw Donna's comment that she remembers it from her youth, I was afraid she was going to tell me it has some awful meaning -- PLEASE tell me if I need to take it off of there!) Now, about form: you shouldn't allow your children to mugwump. Mugwump can be a noun or a verb: one who is in a chronic state of mugwumpiness (see, when you use made-up words anyway, you can make them however you want...) can become a mugwump. I think 'curmudgeon' would be a good synonym for someone who is a mugwump.
We have been enjoying even more gorgeous weather around here. Of course, it's deer season, so the deer-hunter-in-shining-camo is getting the land ready and preparing to go sit out on some miserably cold morning watching the sun come up waiting for some gorgeous creature to come across the rise. And our family will have meat for the winter ('lest you feel the need to lecture me about his hunting).
Basketball tryouts are this week for 7th grade girls, so it has been a 7 a.m. start to the school day all week. Basketball is Ashley's love, and I can't wait to see how this week all shakes out. There are 'a', 'b', and 'c' teams. Of course, we all in this house think she's an 'a'-teamer! No matter which team she lands on, if they will just let her PLAY she'll be thrilled.
Riley has a soccer tournament on Saturday. It's like the death throes of soccer -- last weekend, and we have 3 games on one day! Does it make me an awful mother to say, "Blech"?
We are just going full speed ahead around here, as you can tell. See? No matter who won the presidency, life still goes! And we are blessed to live one more day and testify to His goodness. May you live up to your calling:

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." 1 Peter 2: 9-12


A Call to Action

All right, listen up. Yes, I'm talking to you. From McCain supporters, I'm hearing one of two things: nervous 'mugwumping' (that's one of my dad's words and I shall use it often -- I do love it) about the direction of our country and how quickly we will be traveling to eternal damnation in the proverbial handbasket, OR a stoic martyrdom that 'we shall tolerate the next 4 years in a godly manner'. Seriously, is that the best we can do? And, while I'm preaching, let me tell you, I am only speaking to Christians. If you are not a believer, you are welcome to read, but I don't hold you to the same standard that I do my brothers and sisters in Christ -- and some of them need a little bit of a talkin' to...

But for those of us that are believers, let me clue you in on a little something: have you read the book of Revelation? Well, I taught it -- to 4th graders this summer. Allow me to summarize the book for you: WE WIN!!! People, our victory is won, our hope is secure. Why the mugwumping?

The election may not have gone your way. Okay. So will you look like the rest of America who the election did not 'go their way' or will you show that your citizenship is in heaven? And I don't mean to be aloof -- that all of this worldly stuff is 'beneath us'. No, this is the stuff we live in. I just think that we have an opportunity to stand together and do AMAZING things right now -- "reach across the aisle" to use a political term, but meaning something a little different.

For instance, are you afraid of... 'x' happening with this administration (I have an 'x', no doubt). What would happen if, every time you were tempted to worry or gripe about 'x' -- you instead prayed for President-elect (or, at the time, President) Obama? Really, think about it. What if we ALL -- all of us who have fears and anxieties and frustrations about things currently -- made a commitment to pray for Barack Obama BY NAME every day for the next four years. Can you even imagine?

I think this has the opportunity to be our (us believers') finest hour -- a time when believers show that their citizenship in heaven dictates their action and humility rather than their citizenship in a political party in this amazing country we are blessed to live in. What are we doing as believers to show that we are different from the rest? I don't think standing stoically, idly by chanting about God being in control is enough. It's a start, but it isn't enough. Are you praying, fervently praying for those leaders by name? Are you voicing your trust in God or your fear of the future? Does your kindness and love (and prayers) extend beyond party lines?

It's EASY to be kind/ Christian when things go our way. Now that things haven't gone your way, will others be able to see Christ in you? I pray so. As I said, I think this can be our finest hour. I leave you with the following blessing:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21

Oh, precious child of God -- HIS power is at work within us!! The same power that had my Savior rise from the depths of the grave. It's yours for the using and the asking. "With great power comes great responsibility."

May you ditch the mugwumping and shine like the stars in the universe you have been called to be as a child of our King.

Allow Me to Be the First to Say...

I was wrong...

Congratulations, President-elect Obama.


Special Election Day Good Things Out There

Yes, I am weary of it, but it is everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much every blog I read. Election, election, election. One thing I am VERY thankful for is that my children are at the ages that they are genuinely interested in this election and how it works. Riley (5th grade) brought home a paper that will allow him to keep track of the states as results are announced. I don't know how late he will be allowed to stay up to fill it in, but I definitely think it's worth a missed hour or two of sleep for the lesson. (Here is a printable page that includes number of electors in each state if you would like your children to color them in -- or, you know, you always can...)

So, since I can barely speak of anything else, I will share with you some of the excellent writing about it in the blog-o-sphere.

Lysa had some good thoughts (after a scary moment).

Beth, as always, keeps us focused.

Rachel has some great things you can do -- next election. Of course, if this drags on like 2000 (heaven forbid!!) you will still have time to work on those crochet candidate finger puppets. And, if you don't have time to crochet, you can always print out these little babies, cut them out, fold them, and have your own debate while you wait for the results. Of course, you may be locked away by the time the results come in...

And while you're crocheting or coloring your map, you can also whip up some Senate Bean Soup: served every day in Senate (I wonder how many senators eat it every day, and if bean soup every day could explain a lot coming from capital hill...?)

Obviously, I should have started looking at this before 3 p.m. There is a whole world of festivity that could be taking place instead of the hand-wringing and bravado that I'm hearing so much. So, have a party!

And listen to this guy:

And, don't forget, as the ever-clever Matt Elliot pointed out: an election is always better than a bloody coup. He does have a point. What a blessing and privilege it is, no matter how it goes!


Little by Little...

Since the closest thing I have to a laptop is my phone, I'm having to
resort to emailing in a post from my phone again. Not only is my home
computer occupado, but I haven't been off the couch much today. For
the record? The sick thing? I'm over it! Ready to move on and maybe
live an actual life instead of this wallow on the couch and moan sort
of pseudo-life. I got over the generic creeping crud of two weeks ago,
felt great all last week, had a killer workout(s) on Saturday. Sunday
during church I started feeling bad- headachy, stomach rolling a
little... I thought I had just overdone my workout and would feel
better after I rested.

To make this too-long, pointless story a little longer still with no
point: evidently had a bit of a stomach bug that finally turned a
corner today after my 4th nap of the day. Really hoping this will end
soon. Maybe I'm building immunity?

Newsflash: election day is tomorrow. My main prayer is that it will
END!!! This is like being pregnant: the Lord allows you to get SO
pregnant and SO miserable that you will go through ANYTHING to not be
pregnant anymore. I'm willing to call one of the Doodlebops "Mr.
President" if it will just END this eternal campaign!

Right now the SNL Presidential Bash is starting. I can't wait! At
least I can laugh at these guys!

Have a wonderful day- and do go vote to help this come to an end!!

Sent from my iPhone


Good Things Out There

I thought this tip about clutter was very insightful -- and definitely stepped on my toes!

That Antique Mommy is at it again -- a must read for any golfers, parents, and it is especially for any golfer/ parents.

I mentioned getting back into running. I have heard about this organization that started when one young lady (she's 27, y'all!!!) noticed that her morning runs were taking her by people who weren't going anywhere -- in life or on the road. You can also see a brief video of her, Anne Mahlum here, and vote for her for hero of 2008 for CNN.

I haven't rounded up all the good things out there, but this weekend full of nothingness somehow threw me for a loop!

The BEST thing out there was two precious souls baptized this morning -- one had a very special meaning to me to see her daddy baptize her. Thank you, Lord, for my new sister and brother!



I always get tickled when I go someplace (most recently Starbuck's) that asks for a name so that they may call my name when my order is complete. When I tell them 'Sarah', they invariably ask, "With, or without, an 'h'?"

Either way, will it change how you pronounce it when my order is ready?


Fitness Friday: BOO!

Beautiful Kellie sent me this video. She said it looked like a "fun Halloween workout". You have to remember that Kellie is a VERY young lady who does things like marathons and boot camp for "fun". It looks like an INCREDIBLE workout! I may have to try it... later. After I've fueled up with a few dozen pounds of Halloween candy!

Something to think about: As of tomorrow, there are 61 days left in 2008. Think back to January, and the resolve you had for this to be a new year, a different year, a new you. Let me encourage you: the year isn't over. I know we all THINK that once Halloween is over, it's all over but the cryin' 'cause there's one holiday (and eating occasion) after another and nothing about your health or body will improve in the next two months. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

We still have 1/6th of this year left -- almost 20%! What would you like to do with this time to improve your health? I'll tell you one of my fitness goals: I'm working on being a runner (again!) I'm currently running 2 min. (at a 9:00 mile pace), then walking 3 min.(x5 in a workout). My long-term goal is to run a 5k at a 7:30 pace next fall. Obviously, I've got some work to do. Um... in the next two months? Let me think... I think my goal is to run a full mile at the 9:00 pace (or better). I'll keep you posted on how that's going...

What would you like to do? Are you almost 'on a roll' of regular exercise and would like to really cement that? Are you starting to watch what goes in and want to remain steadfast about honoring your body by how you fuel it? Do you have a plan? Make a plan!

What are you going to do (fitness-wise) to finish strong???!!!


With All My Heart

It's jacket season! You know what that means, right? I currently have jackets (or sweatshirts or long-sleeved t's) in my car, on my dining room table, on the couch, in the hallway from the garage, and probably a few scattered about various schools in my school district. And? Thus it will be throughout the season. In May we will be assured that we can scoop up all of the jackets, gloves, headbands, etc. and put them away.

I, of course, am one of the worst offenders. I have all manner of cold-weather exercise gear because I HATE to be cold for any length of time. I will wear layer upon layer of clothes to go running in to avoid being cold when I first leave the house. I come home with jackets and shirts tied around my waist, headbands (that cover ears) and gloves crammed in waistbands and pockets. I try to get them put away, and I think right now they currently all are, but occasionally all that gear just adds to the cold-weather litter around the house.

Jacket clutter aside, I don't know that EVER in my life I have had such a wonderful fall weather-wise! I have never lived in a place that experiences fall. Louisiana is just muggy year-round and you go from steamy muggy to cool-ish damp muggy at some point, then Christmas is always 80* and muggy. Central Texas just has a "cooling off of summer" period, and West Texas usually does summer, Indian summer, then a blue norther comes through and it goes from 85* one day to 44* and raining the next and *BAM*!! Winter. But all of October has been this amazing weather around here. I hope you are enjoying the same!

With the creeping in of cooler weather and earlier darkness, our lives are actually about to slow down a bit. We are tucking away a soccer season for Riley, winding down volleyball for Ashley, and unbeknownst (isn't that an awesome word...? :-) to us when it started, Ashley also played in some tennis tournaments this fall and did fairly well. We had several weeks of tennis tournament and soccer practice Tues. nights, church Wed. nights, then volleyball game and soccer practice on Thur. nights. Ashley has her last volleyball game on Thursday -- then basketball try-outs start Monday! :-) We get a couple of weeks off of games while they get the team squared away. It will be nice!

So, has anyone noticed the economy? Gas prices are awesome, aren't they? :-) Oy. As you might imagine, this wasn't a great time for our family to go to one income. And, as we head to the end of the month, money is a wee bit scarce around here. Money that blows, money that jingles, doesn't matter -- there isn't much of it. We haven't missed a meal and no one is going cold in the cold mornings. I confess to worrying, though. Besides sleep, I think worry could be my fall-back Olympic sport. Every glance of my wallet/ bank balance sends me into mental calculations of days left vs. dollars left of the month. And I worry.

This morning God brought me here:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5,6

I have this verse on my wall -- a wedding gift from 16 years ago. It spoke to me fresh this morning to "lean not on my own understanding": my understanding doesn't see how it will work, my understanding can't imagine it working out. God challenged me to trust Him with all my heart and let Him work it out. I'm claiming it for today!


A Thought For You

Are you aware that it costs our government 2.5 cents to manufacture each penny it makes now? Are these really the people you want in charge of your health care?


Good Things Out There

Tip Junkie has some ideas for an over-the-top "Ho-Ho-Hoedown"!

Here you can see why I like to imagine Heather as my BFF: she calls 'em like she sees 'em. Powerful words.

I totally get this.

Tried to post this video here, but it's blah-blah "Quick Time" blah-blah, so you'll just have to see for yourself...


With the obvious exception of the above-average intelligence of the readers of this blog that may also happen to stop in at a garage sale or two, is there an unwritten rule somewhere that says that all garage sale attendees must drive either rudely or stupidly or both when attending a garage sale? Is putting your car in park where you are really the best parking spot? Should you really back up in the middle of a busy residential street? Exactly how slowly can your "scout car" be going and thought to still be in actual motion?

These things make me wonder...


Fitness Friday: What about him/her?

I got a comment recently about Fitness Friday that called to mind the question, "How can I make my wife/ husband/ daughter/ son/ loved one want to be healthy?"

In short, you can't.

Doesn't that make it easier? Think about your own journey towards better health -- nothing happened until YOU decided and made the choice to improve your health and fitness. If you happen to be the wife and mom, you generally have much influence over the food that comes into the house and the menus in general, and you can certainly serve healthy foods. But if you take the "you are on a diet!!" approach -- to either your spouse OR your child, you will simply create an atmosphere of secrecy and mistrust.

A few years ago, Troy had a couple of borderline high blood pressure readings -- one at the dentist and the other... someplace other than a doctors, but I don't remember. Anyway, it really concerned me. I knew enough to know that before a (good) doctor would put him on medication, they would simply encourage him to lose a few pounds and exercise more regularly. I prayed about it -- for about a week -- and finally told him, "I'm concerned about you because I want you to be with me for a long time. I know that I have the knowledge to help you with this if you choose. Let me know what I can do." He listened. And thought. And pondered. For a few days ('cause that's how Troy operates). He finally got me to help him get on an exercise routine and watch his diet more closely. He did lose a few pounds, and he also had a dr. appointment that had a perfectly normal blood pressure reading in the meantime. My concern for him could have easily turned me into a controlling, evil woman, but that would have only succeeded in forcing him to hide things from me. And I absolutely don't want that -- from my husband or children!

Actually, that is one of the reasons I started Fitness Friday. I have several friends who have health concerns that could be addressed by losing a few pounds, a healthier diet, and some regular exercise. There is nothing I can do to change their lives or health for them -- it must be their decision. So I toss this information out here. The only person it's affecting is me -- because I'm doing the only thing I know to do. The world isn't at a shortage of information about how to solve our health problems due to poor diet and inactivity.

So, I said many more words to say (again) you can't do it FOR anyone else. You can do it for you, take time for you, model good health habits, and pray.

Take care of you, stay healthy, and be fit!


I Could Be Wrong

I read an editorial recently by a woman who had spent some time overseas as a missionary. She said that as she was leaving the states for the first time, a former missionary told her, "Tell yourself often, 'I could be wrong,'" He explained that humility is one of the most important virtues to take with you into another culture. The writer then correlated that thought to the culture of politics.

I am thrilled that this election seems to be bringing in large numbers of voters. I am thankful that so many people are passionate about bettering our country. But with passion often comes sharp words and heated tempers. So, I would like to challenge each of us, in our most determined views to remember, "I could be wrong."

Oh, many of us -- myself included -- have scriptural reasons for believing what we believe and voting the way we will vote. But, I could be wrong. Scripture and my faith hold me to a view that I should support one thing and should be against another. Some issues are huge for me because of my faith. But, I could be wrong. I know that other Christians don't see the same issues as huge, and have other reasons that they think my vote is going against scripture and destructive. I have to be willing to admit that they may have a point.

Humility must not only be willing to believe that there is a possibility that I am wrong, humility is quick to listen and slow to speak. There isn't much of that happening during the political season. We all may need to make a resolve to listen a little more and speak a little less. Heaven knows the world could use it the next 12 days (thank GOODNESS it's only 12 more days!!)

Even if I can in no way figure out how someone sees 'x' and 'y', and decides that 'z' must be a logical conclusion to those two facts, I still am called to treat that person with dignity. They are a child of God -- that voter/ politician/ journalist/ church member screaming why my thoughts are stupid, I am called to not only love that person, but treat them with honor. Oh, make no mistake -- because I am only human, sometimes the best I can do to honor a person is avoid. The Spirit has much more holiness to instill in me before I am able to honor those who berate me. But I believe that I am called to just that.

Just my thoughts, rattling around my head, inspired by the editorial. I could be wrong.


Got a Gift?

I feel almost human today. I'm so very, very tired. Then I get so very, very angry -- every time I lay down to rest, my throat starts itching until I have to cough. I burst into coughing fits, then my eyes are watering, I'm sweating, I'm definitely not resting and I am MAD. Sleep deprivation will do that to you!

So, in and amongst the wandering the house not lying down and sighing sporadically, I've been thinking about spiritual gifts. The magazine I was reading yesterday -- the one that I pretended was research -- had an entire section about using spiritual gifts. It had two interesting statistics from the Barna Group: 71% of believers have heard of spiritual gifts (which tells me 29% need to read the word just a wee bit more) and 31% of believers can name a spiritual gift they believe they possess. More than 2/3 of believers have no idea what gift they have been given from God, much less are using it for His kingdom.

Actually, that's probably unfair -- I'm sure some of the people are using a gift every day that they don't even realize they have, such as administration or exhortation. This is one of those areas that ties into me being impatient with people unwilling to examine themselves (obviously my spiritual gift does not include patience -- especially not for coughing fits). I think that if we are keenly aware of our gifts, we will seek out those things, worshipping Him by our service to Him in our area of giftedness.

Okay, I had lots of yada, yada that made sense to my medicated brain but not-so-much here. So, what do you think? About all of it?

a)Do you believe that ALL believers have been given spiritual gifts?

b) If so, and you are a believer, have you identified yours?

c) If you have identified a spiritual gift you have, are you currently using it? Why or why not?

P.S. One thing mentioned in the magazine that I would also like to mention here: knowing your gifts does NOT give you license to shirk any other duties or responsibilites. For instance, showing mercy can be a gift, but certainly not asked only of those people that have that gift. Sometimes the Lord will call us into duty beyond our gifts. I think Moses would agree. So would Mary. Be willing to say, "This isn't really my gift, but here am I, Lord, use me."

Now, your turn. I shall be coughing.



I knew as soon as I wrote this about being a generally healthy person, the creeping crud would be lurching off of my keyboard to attack me. It took longer than I thought, but I am indeed, sick of the garden variety. Just a general yukkiness that is punctuated with coughing fits as soon as I lay prone for longer than 12 seconds. I don't run fever -- if I am running fever, I am sick, SICK, SICK, nigh unto death, and get me to a medical professional muy pronto. Alas, I am not running fever, so I still show up and do all that is required of me various and sundry places, trying to keep my groaning to a minimum. At home I do a lot of schlumping around and sighing. Oh, and of course cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Stupid fever never shows up when I need it.

So, I am going to run a blog re-run for today -- from a time when I had actual thoughts inside my head. Enjoy. I'll be on the couch reading a magazine and calling it "research" for a writing project. And sighing.

Run the Race
by Sarah Stirman

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

This passage from the book of Hebrews has always been one of my favorite verses. In the few-and-far-between seasons of my life when I am a runner, I love to meditate on this verse as I run. Life is a race -- A marathon! -- and I am so encouraged to think of the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds me.

The phrase in the version with which I am familiar reads "the sin that so easily entangles." This phrase kind of tripped me up. To me it sounded as if sin is a creeping vine that seems friendly, enticing, and harmless until you realize that you’re in too deep and helplessly stuck.

While I know that’s true of sin in so many ways, it didn’t fit with the running analogy to me. Most runners I know avoid running through foliage. Also sin, in my own personal experience, is much more like a wrecking ball in the cartoons than it is like a vine -- creeping or otherwise. By the time I have identified the sin (wrecking ball), I am lying flat on my back, complete with stars and birdies circling my head, wondering how I got there.

However, more recently I have come to think of this phrase in a new way. I am struggling with forgiveness -- even somewhat struggling with laying down the badge that identifies me as "someone wronged." I know this is not the life Christ has called me to embrace, yet I battle with finally laying down this burden of another’s sin. I have prayed and thought and meditated about why this is so difficult to let go.

I recently prayed asking God to let me run this race victoriously. That’s when this verse came to mind: I must throw off the sin that so easily entangles! Sometimes I cling to my past sins and let them weigh me down. Sometimes I cling to another’s sin against me and let that weigh me down. It’s impossible to run with perseverance the race marked out before me if I am clinging to all of the burdens of the past -- my own or anyone else’s. Christ calls me to run victoriously and I can’t do that with my hands full of old junk. It hinders me and I must lay it down if I want to run the race ... victoriously.

The apostle Paul gives us this victory thanksgiving: "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) I love to think of the "triumphal procession" as the time we are being led in as a victory parade after we have finished our race victoriously. We already know who wins this race. Now, let’s run it victoriously!

Posted: 04/26/2006URL:


Today's Calvin

Isn't that the truth? I'm anxiously waiting for the end of November when I can turn in "food for fines" -- if I donate a can of food to the local food bank, it knocks $1 off of my library fines. Every year I take a bazillion cans up there. Every year I vow I will do better next year. Every year in the back-to-school madness, a summer reading book gets lost in the shuffle, and if I ever find it, I turn it in and wait for the Food for Fines drive.


Pull Up a Chair!

I usually do a "Good Things Out There" on Sunday, but a)I didn't spend any time this week squirreling away good things, and now I've forgotten where all they are and b)I don't have a voice, so I have nodded and 'hello-ed' in a very deep, throaty, Kathleen Turner-esque way, but "chatting" is way too much effort for me or my listener. So I feel like chatting. Go ahead -- have a seat. I'll pour the Diet Coke -- we do have tea or water if you'd rather. Oh, absolutely! Put your feet up -- it will be the closest that coffee table has come to getting dusted in weeks!

Irony: our family rarely is able to go to church all at the same time on Sunday mornings (and lately Wednesday nights). Troy's singing requires him to be at practices on Sunday mornings before the kids are out of bed. Today, probably for the first time in 6 months, we could all go to church together. Are you hearing the 'hallelujah chorus'? Yeah, well, I did for about 27 seconds -- until I realized that my vehicle was getting worked on and the only car we had at the house was Troy's pick-up that has one bench seat. Period. Which is one too few seats for the 4 of us. So, woo-hoo! We can all go to church together!! Only woo-hoo! We don't all fit! Then, John W., my good and faithful mechanic, brought my car to me at church. And we left in two separate vehicles anyway. *sigh* It was fun while it lasted (if not a bit squishy).

We have been having gorgeously amazing weather lately! I am SO thankful! We rarely have anything that feels like transitional seasons here. We usually go from 92* days, then a blue norther blows through and it's 44*, rainy, with 100 mph winds from the north the next day. *BAM* Winter. But the last week has been glorious picture-perfect weather. Not one cloud anywhere. It was QUITE cool Friday morning, but made for an even better afternoon. Just such wonderful weather to play outside in! I hope you are having beautiful weather where you are!

This afternoon Troy and I took advantage of the glorious weather and went for a motorcycle ride. I get really tickled -- there's an unwritten "cyclists code" for how you a) MUST wave at each passing motorcycle and b) MUST use the cool- cycler wave. Now, the cool- cycler wave makes sense from a wind-resistance standpoint. If you were to throw your left hand in the air, a-la Gomer Pyle, you might throw your shoulder out of socket or smack your passenger in the face as the 60 mph winds hit your hand. So you simply extend your hand out toward your knee/ the pavement -- about 8:00 on a clock face. If you're uber-cool, you extend a finger (a polite one) or two: like giving the 'peace' sign on the down low. Here's the deal: EVERY motorcyclist is in on it.

Some folks still are surprised that I "let" Troy get a motorcycle and that we have one AND that I will actually get on it. (I really don't like the idea that I "let" Troy do anything -- we pretty much make joint decisions -- and if one of us doesn't care any iotas, the other gets to decide. End of story.) My dad is a motorcycle rider, and I know that the many, many miles he has logged with my mom have given them mostly great joy (and a few hair-raising, bonding-by-missing-death-together moments). Today it was a fun way to experience this glorious day -- until you pass by a freshly-squashed skunk. Then it is a little too outdoorsy. Before Troy got his new job, we were facing the possibility of him being a part of some of the personnel cutbacks that were taking place. We were trying to prepare financially for the possibility of him losing his job and were thinking of what that would look like. At one point he said, "It's going to make me really sad to get rid of that motorcycle." To which I replied, "Good! 'Cause I've got news for you: you'll get rid of that gas-guzzling 10 year old truck before you'll get rid of the sipping 2 year old motorcycle!" (but that would have been a joint decision, of course!) Thankfully, we still have the gas-guzzler AND the motorcycle. Thank you, Lord, for taking care of our needs AND wants!

Oh, I have kept you too long. I haven't even broken out the chocolate yet! I know, me too -- so much left to do this evening. Thanks for stopping by. Let's do this more often! Oh, yeah, if you found any "Good Things Out There" feel free to tell us all about them!
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