Tagged (or, exactly how weird am I?)

So Susan tagged me. I thought it was going to be a total breeze, because I've done this one before. Copy, paste, post, right? Well, I tried. But it was this post. Where I reveal something everyone in this town already knows about me (interpreter for deaf) and testify that I will never return to teaching in the classroom (which I said about 6 months before I returned to teaching in the classroom). So, bummer. Let me start over.

Six odd/ weird things about me. Oh, wait -- better yet, it says RANDOM. Far more up my alley. Random... hummmmm....

1) I took ballet for about 12 years, starting at age 3. Finally quit when my mother, tired of driving me back and forth across the Ouachita River for class, I'm sure, said, "You either need to go all out with this -- in the ballet company -- or get out." I got out. Toe shoes hurt.

2) I was student body president of my little tiny Mayberry-esque high school. That doesn't surprise anyone does it? The biggest job I had was to draw numbers for the random drug test. Big doin's in Mayberry.

3) I love that EVERY age/ stage of my children's lives is my favorite. I never dreamed that being a mother would be this much work, nor that this much work would be this much fun. I believe myself to be AMAZINGLY blessed.

4) I had an article about it recently in Abilene Families, but I wasn't kidding when I said that sleep is my Olympic event! Oh, I guess I did a Fitness Friday about it, too. I think sleep is crucial, considering my body all but totally shuts down when it is lacking. Um ... I know you're wondering, I probably average 6.5-7 hours/ night. 9 would be awesome (trying to think back on the last time I had 9?) Don't really nap except Sundays and that is part of my physical make-up and helps me survive the week. MUST. HAVE. A SUNDAY NAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5) I love animals and would have a house and yard full if we had room and time to care for them properly. The older I get the more of a dog person I'm becoming. As Curt Cloninger said recently (y'all that guy is GENIUS -- you need to see him!!), "$50 to adopt a dog at the pound is a small price to pay for someone to worship you constantly!" Absolutely. No one is my house ever acts as happy to see me as Duchess does.

6) Denise sent me some facebook flair that said, "I talk in movie quotes." and I do. And if it isn't a movie quote, it's a song lyric. Stuck in my head! I wish I could extract them to have room for important things, like where I said I would pick Ashley up in 20 minutes, but that is evidently too much to ask for my brain.

If you have a blog and 6 random things, feel free to play along!


Good Things Out There

I have really enjoyed reading Susan's blog -- I love that she is a runner and her love for the Lord shines through. Now, she SAYS she hates Wal-Mart, but she shops there once a week (budget reasons -- whatev! :-) HOWEVER -- this precious story is about her seeking God to reveal Himself to her at Wal-Mart. Guess what? She found Him! I did NOT think God existed on any Wal-Mart properties! I thought He refused to go there like I do! Check this one out!

I have signed up at Mozy.com: for $5/ month (free month if you'll pay for 2 years at a time -- I didn't!) they back up all the files on my computer that I tell them to EVERY NIGHT. When my computer crashed in May, I lost all pictures, music files, some writing, etc. For $60 (one year) I couldn't even buy a USB that would hold all of my music, AND I would have to remember to back it up! DONE! You may want to check out Mozy!

It's too late for me (until granddaughters) but this blog is devoted to doing little girl hair for little girls who will sit still for such! Either way -- you have GOT to check this 'do out!

How fun is THIS???

Yes, it's too early to start on Christmas (oh, yes it is!!!) but these will make precious teacher gifts!

I frequently refer to Mrs. Wiggins, but Troy doesn't know who I'm talking about. I think I've seen every episode of The Carol Burnett Show at least once. When I was in 6th grade, my friend Brandi Wheelis and I both wanted to be Carol Burnett when we grew up. This is one of many, many memorable characters and sketches I remember. It's long -- enjoy.



I used to think my children -- who "help" putting away the groceries -- were the reason my Baked Lay's look like bags of sand by the time I open them. Now I have decided that there is a job position at Frito Lay's that requires the employee to dance the entire opening act of Riverdance atop each bag of Baked Lay's.


Fitness Friday

Okay, truth: I don't care about Fitness Friday today. But I am committed to you, my lone faithful reader, who is perched on the edge of her chair, waiting for some fascinating installment to better your living. Never fear! I am ON it!

So, I'm going back to knowing your numbers. Do you have ANY idea how many calories you should be eating in any given day? Do you have ANY idea how many calories you DO eat in a given day? If not, you may be gaining weight or not losing and not know why. "But I don't eat that much." You really may not. How many calories do you consume, though, while you are: rummaging through the pantry deciding what to eat? or making dinner? or standing at the kitchen counter reading the mail? or cleaning off the table after dinner? I know all of these examples because I am guilty of all of them. I don't eat "that much" either, but I know that mindless eating can add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of extra calories in a day. Which adds up to extra insulation in the rear.

So, where should you go to find this information? Well, it is ALL over the web, and I PROMISE you can find a range of about 1,000 calories that you should be eating. I would stick to the low end that you come across, since most of us are really less active than we like to think.

I have decided this is one of my favorite websites for such things: nutritiondata.com

It has many other features I'll talk about later, but play around there for a while now if you have time.

Also, I use this site on occasion: thedailyplate.com.

This will also tell you how many calories you should consume to lose 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds a week, or if you want to maintain OR gain weight (you can always do what I do to gain weight -- I seem to have a knack!) Very valuable information.

There are MANY others out there -- these are two of my favorites. I have registered at both places, but it was FREE. There is way too much information for free on the internet for me to pay for any! Thedailyplate.com will frequently 'prompt' you to upgrade -- just ignore it.

So, just for the next week, do a little research. How many calories should you be consuming? For the record, even though I work out 6-9 hours a week, I count myself as 'mostly sedentary' when it asks. That exercise is basically the only activity I do in a day, so I'm really not considered an active person. Just an exerciser. I think that makes a difference.

Don't worry yet about how many you are actually eating, unless you're just in the mood for some math. But start noticing packages and nutritional information. There are VERY few restaurants that do not publish nutritional information. Use all of that information to your benefit as you take control of your own health.

Do some research, stay healthy, and be fit.


What I've Learned

So, I had a birthday. It was relatively painless, though the number hurts just a little to say. In honor of spending ... some number of years on this planet, I compiled a list of things I've learned over the years -- one for each year, as a matter of fact. Some are about myself, some are about human nature, and some are just silly. Feel free to comment and tell me anything I've left off -- I'm sure I still have plenty to learn!

1. Any empty shopping cart at the back of the store is there for a reason. Don't get it. Satan lives in its wheels.

2. I actually am a morning person (I know what you're thinking Roxanne -- I'm not saying I'm HAPPY when I first wake up, I'm saying I'm PRODUCTIVE once I DO wake up).

3. "Time heals all wounds" = big fat lie.

4. Few people are actually mean and/or hateful just for grins -- most people just want to be heard and/or understood.

5. Men are generally unable to multi-task. (generality -- I'm sure there are exceptions)

6. I thought I 'got' unconditional love. Then I had children.

7. Laughter really is 'carbonated holiness' (Anne Lamott)

8. I have a deep need (is this me, or just human?) for trials and tragedies to have reason and purpose. Sometimes they just don't.

9. God can use unreasonable and purposeless trials and tragedies for His kingdom in mighty ways.

10. There are few quicker ways to make me cry other than showing me a child waving an American flag.

11. You never outgrow feeling like a total dork.

12. I'm stronger than I thought I was.

13. I'm more fearful than I thought I was.

14. Giving birth is actual hard work -- yes, there is a reason they call it labor.

15. Being a parent is way harder than labor.

16. Something will make me laugh about almost every situation. Usually at completely inappropriate times.

17. The human spirit has an amazing capacity for resiliency.

18. Few things are as peaceful, fulfilling, and just plain fun as simply 'being' with my family and enjoying laughing together. Doing this around the dinner table is my favorite time of day.

19. I have no tolerance for people who won't be authentic -- with me or anyone else.

20. The most offensive inauthentic people (to me) are those that don't have a clue they are because they never examine their own hearts.

21. I am WAY more introspective than your average person, which probably leads me to intolerance of inauthentic people who also aren't introspective.

22.I love words. Lots and lots -- a veritable plethora -- of words, of utterances. An affinity for vernacular. Love, love, love to use words.

23. The more words you use, the less impact they have. Bummer.

24. Dogs and children make me very happy.

25. I don't get people who don't enjoy dogs or children.

26. Forgive = scriptural; forgive and forget = human concoction to induce guilt. The Lord never tells us to forgive and forget, and ya ain't gonna. So just keep forgiving when you remember.

27. I thought being strong-willed and being a risk-taker were the same thing. Turns out I'm only one of those.

28. I HATE making phone calls, pretty much for any reason.

29. A person's own name has tremendous power to that person.

30. (another lesson from dad): People are generally willing to help you solve your problem. Give them the opportunity to help before attacking them because you have a problem.

31. "I'm sorry" goes a LONG way to diffusing a situation, even if you aren't responsible for the situation (see #4).

32. Drinking coffee makes me nervous and grouchy.

33. Drinking Diet Coke makes me nice.

34. I wield more power -- to build up, tear down, nurture or destroy -- as a wife and mother than I ever dreamed (especially if I work up a good set of tears). "With great power comes great responsibility."

35. Practice doesn't make perfect unless you're doing it correctly while you practice(I tell my kids "Perfect practice makes perfect" -- but I do realize how that makes me sound). Practicing something incorrectly will just make you very proficient at something WRONG.

36. A smile can generally disarm a grouchy person. It can even occasionally disarm my own grouchy face.

37. There really isn't any such thing as a 'spiritual giant': the people that we consider to be such are people who understand their own weaknesses (hey! maybe they're introspective!) and have truly come to see: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

38. I am NEVER going to fully 'get it': my place on this earth, His love for me, the depth of my flesh nature, the height of His grace and forgiveness.

39. Nor will I EVER fully put to death my flesh nature while I'm still wearing my flesh. I can only plead ignorance and humanity, and let His grace be sufficient for me.


What Do You Think?

Wow -- all corners of the internet came out for my post yesterday about worship.

And in the comments, Denise asked a question:

"But what about all those other people? The folks that stay stuck on the pew thinking about anything except the LORD? Lunch, laundry, how mad their neighbor made them, etc.What is our (those on worship committees and/or on praise teams) responibility to them?"

(Clarification: I BELIEVE that by "those on worship committees and/or on praise teams" Denise is referring to folks who have a direct impact in how the worship service will go: the folks who plan/ sing/ speak/ lead, etc. Denise, correct me if I'm wrong).

My email reply to her:

None whatsoever. I can interpret my heart out: my act of worship/ service to God, but I can't make (our congregation's one deaf gentleman) stay in service, put down the bulletin or even quit poking my own children. I can only do all "as working for God, not man" (Colossians 3:23) and the rest is up to (deaf gentleman). My responsibility is to God.

What do you think? About any of it?


Here I Am to Worship...

So, last week I laid it out there: I don't go to church to worship. *gasp*

I actually started that post (and the next) to talk about worship, and got side-tracked about church. I started thinking on those things for several reasons. First, the church where I worship has started making an intentional difference in our two morning services. The second service is 'less traditional' in nature. And our 'more traditional' service is struggling over some bumps of its own. This, as you might imagine if you are a regular attender somewhere, has ruffled a few feathers and created some exciting end-of-the-pew discussion. I have also been included in some committee discussions regarding planning worship. Our 'corporate worship' time has been on my mind lately.

Someone is unhappy with the song choices. Or song tempo. Or song leader. Others aren't happy with the screens/ temperature/ preacher/ what-have-you. And -- true confessions -- I'm right there with them in many regards. As I mentioned -- you can't plan a perfect worship for me, especially if there are people involved!

While all of this ha-rumphing was fresh on my mind, I sat down and encountered notes from a worship conference I attended last summer. This was on the top page:

Evaluating worship based on doing the right things in the right way or 'did it make me feel good' is having low expectations. Instead, evaluate worship on whether or not God showed up. There is NO worship renewal without expecting to meet the Almighty God. (Randy Harris)

That quote makes me feel better about not feeling like I am really able to worship at church. Oh, I feel certain the Almighty God is THERE -- but I am only able to worship Him by serving His people while in 'the assembly', not by chatting with Him and listening to Him. The best part is -- I'm not missing my time with God if I don't get it inside the church building. The Almighty God shows up to talk to me and walk beside me on my morning walk. He listens so patiently while I fold the clothes. He blesses us again and again while I pray over carpool. My entire life -- SHOULD I CHOOSE TO DO SO -- can be a time of worship, complete with the presence of the Almighty God. Because He will ALWAYS show up -- I just have to show up, as well.
And while the songs sung or words said or images displayed at church may or may not stir my soul, I can still worship because I will be in the presence of the Almighty God.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2


Good Things Out There

Lysa tells here how she is willing to talk about a past abortion and why. Anyone that expects to be able to minister, shepherd, or just plain love women should read this.

Having been THOROUGHLY freaked out by the movie, "Children of the Corn" I would NEVER participate in this, but it is pretty cool.

I tried these on Friday night -- awesome. And I have decided that is my all-time favorite cooking blog because, hello? It's real life! I want to make this, and have Ashley make these, I'll definitely make both of these, and will even try these, even though I'm not sure the 'picky's' at my house will try them, and these may make me cook breakfast... And that's just her recent posts! 

Right after this guy, THIS guy totally deserves "Husband of the Year" for this story. Bless.

I hope you're still following this.

I'm not sure how well this song will work acapella, but we really need to incorporate this into our worship service. Please listen to all of it, the lyrics are genius:



I don't care which way you pull the lever on November 4, if you are comparing 'your guy' (or any guy) to Jesus Christ, your perspective is officially WAY off-center. You need to step AWAY from politics for a while.

(comments closed on this post)

Fitness Friday: ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Today I'm going to touch on something that deals with your overall health and affects your metabolism, diet, and exercise, but few people think about it as a component of fitness. If you know me very well, it won't surprise you to learn that I want to devote an entire Fitness Friday to SLEEP! Oh, and if you missed it, I just had a column in Abilene Families about sleep being my Olympic event! It is, people! I am ALL about the sleep!

Blessing or curse, I'm not sure I necessarily REQUIRE any more sleep than your average person (oh, but I do love it so very, very much), but I can't/ won't/ don't function being sleep deprived. I know millions of Americans walk around that way every day, and I have on occasion, as well, but nothing is working right when I do. God built into me a 'shut-down mechanism' (called 'sleep mode' on your computer for a reason) that prevents me from 'pushing through' my exhaustion for too terribly long. In the same way we connected the dots to understand that ignorance (of your numbers) can make you fat, let's think about two obvious current lifestyle situations in America: Americans are more sleep-deprived than ever and Americans are fatter than ever. Two isolated facts? Studies show that they aren't likely isolated, and one can very definitely lead to the other.

Let's think about two basics of sleep deprivation that can lead to weight gain. First, it stands to reason that if you're awake more hours, you are eating more than the person that's asleep. Sure, you don't HAVE to eat when you're up late (or early)-- but you do, don't you? Also, if you're sleep deprived, your decision-making skills (and discipline or willpower) are not functioning at their highest level. Maybe you think that the order of cinna-bites from McDonald's will give you some energy for the rest of the night. Maybe you think that an ice cream sundae is nutritionally equal to a bowl of cereal. Whatever the thought process, it sounds GREAT at the time, but probably looks a little pathetic when it shows up on the scale.

Okay, okay, those are just examples right? What if I'm following my eDiets or Weight Watchers or whatever? A calorie is a calorie, right? Don't worry, I'm not going to go down the "food eaten after 7 p.m. goes right to your thighs" road. I DO believe a calorie is a calorie. And, a properly rested person will burn those calories no matter when they are ingested. The trick is to be 'properly rested'. 

If you're reading this on Friday afternoon, it's probably because you've gotten off of work and can't work up the energy to go all the way to your bed to lie down at the end of a long week. Every step feels like you're trudging through molasses, and you can tell that fatigue is keeping your brain operating at 'battery-saver' mode. You know you can't be trusted to make any important decisions or think rationally -- you may even need some cinna-bites to clear your brain. The deal is -- your metabolism feels the same way. A calorie IS a calorie in a well-rested person, but a calorie is a huge hunk of fuel that your metabolism has to burn for fuel, but if you're sleep deprived, your metabolism can't even work up the energy to strike the match. So, it does what we do when we're too tired: it saves it to burn later. On your rear-end. 

I could go on and on about studies that show how proper sleep will affect (improve) mental skills, physical health, stress levels, and dozens of other components of being all-around healthy. And you could go on and on about all the reasons you CAN'T get enough sleep and all the things you have to do instead of sleep. 

I leave you with this thought:
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:14,15)

Y'all -- time and again, Jesus had to walk away from the sick and hurting, the needy and helpless to recharge. MANY times scripture tells us he went to pray. On occasion, we just hear that he was 'by himself' like in John 6. Because he was fully human, Jesus had to sleep. He slept in the middle of a storm! Jesus walked this earth for us to know how to walk this earth. Part of that includes 'shuttin' 'er down' BEFORE you collapse. It requires planning and discipline, but your health (and sanity, and the health and sanity of your family) is worth it.

Your assignment for this week is to get one good night's sleep -- and start PLANNING a way for you to get a good night's sleep at LEAST 4 out of 7 nights.

Get some sleep, stay healthy, and be fit.



As it should be, nobody knows me like my deer-hunter-in-shining-camo. Few, if any, people, see this side of me -- but this is SO me. I lay my head on the table and laughed until I cried when he gave me this card:


So... Why I Go To Church

First, my apologies. I know you all have been waiting with baited breath and popcorn for why in heaven's name I go to church. Took a little longer than I thought to get back here!

Well, we've established why I don't go to church: church isn't the most conducive place for me to worship, I'm not even resting just sitting there, and I don't even get a shopping list written out of the deal. So, why do I go? Mindy touched on where I am going with this: I go to be with my family. No, I don't have one person that lives in my town that is blood relation. But my church is my family. The crazies, the lovelies, the sad and the happy are all my family. Some of those people I have NOTHING in common -- other than the biggest commonality of all: the One we allow to Lord our lives.

Scripture is full of the ways that the Lord never intended us to trudge this ball of dirt alone. Starting with creation, when he made Adam: The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18) Jesus knew he shouldn't do ministry alone, and gathered 12 men around him. Of those 12, he had 3 men he drew closer still. In Acts, the disciples 'partnered up' to go tell the world of Jesus Christ. 

Sometimes when I go to church I am able to be there FOR other people -- a listening ear, encouraging word, hug or smile, or just a "Hey! I've been missing you!" Any of those things that my brothers and sisters may need from their family. Other times I may go because I need those same things FROM my family. Sometimes I go when I just want to be left alone and would really rather not be there -- but a touch or smile from someone else makes me glad I went.

I go to church to BE church: to love and receive, to comfort and connect, "Jesus with skin on". Sometimes I go to church to RECEIVE the church: to be loved and be received, to be comforted and feel connected, to hug a "Jesus with skin on". And THAT, is how I worship when I go to the church building:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1


Why I Go To Church

in conjunction with this thought

Newsflash: I don't go to church to worship God.

Oh, I DO worship God when I go, but if MY church were going to be all about ME and MY best way to worship God, MY church would only have ME in attendance, and I would be outside somewhere talking with and worshipping God. I have had the privilege/ responsibility of being in on some discussion about 'worship planning' recently. I finally told the group: "Not gonna happen -- you will NEVER plan a worship service that is perfect for me, or anyone else for that matter. I don't worship best in 'the pink room' (what I call our horribly outdated auditorium)"

Besides not lovin' the setting for 'corporate worship', I'm generally busy. I have mentioned a time or twelve that I interpret services for the deaf. That means I'm HEARING what is said/sung/prayed, but I can only process it in the part of my brain that translates it into another language, not the part that absorbs it and lets it transform me or reflect praise to our Father. Even when I'm not 'working' by interpreting, I'm 'feeding' signs to the person who is interpreting. (The very funny part about our deaf ministry is that we are positioned in the auditorium where the speakers shoot the sound over us -- the interpreters can't hear a darn thing where we are!) Again, even if being surrounded by hundreds of people were my 'thing' for worship, I'm a little occupied.

But I do GO to church: I'm one of those 'every-time-the-doors-are-open' kind of people. (I'm also one of those 'last-ones-leaving-because-they're-turning-off-the-lights' but that's a whole other post). Even though I am openly professing to not attend church for the number 1 cited reason for attending, I think it is a crucial part of my faith and "Christian walk" (I really dislike that over-used phrase, but work with me here). I'm also teaching that to my children. My children know where we will be 'every time the doors are open', and they know we don't plan events or things that would interfere with our attending.

So... you GO to church, but you don't go to church to worship God??? HUH? Well, yes, it's true. And, I'm sure begs the question, "Then why DO you go to church?" And I will tell you. Tomorrow.

Until then, why do you go to church?


Good Things Out There

Very long story, but I ended up in praise chapel at ACU on Friday. They announced that the ACU men's basketball team was sponsoring a fundraiser 5k for a former player and his family. This is Lia: Is she just the most beautiful thing ever?Lia was born with a (or several?) heart defect and has required surgery, feeding tubes, and all the things you don't want for your newborn. Go check on Lia here, and feel free to add her and her family to your prayer list. (Her parents both went to ACU and her dad played basketball -- hence the men's team involvement in raising money for her medical expenses).

This is totally going on the recipe blog.

Cathy is a dear friend -- and I hope I grow up to write beautiful words like her.

Y'all? Cuteness AND easy? Check these gift tags out!

September 11 means different things to everyone. September 11 of 2003 was a much more personal day of loss for the Stirman family. For another family, 9-11-01 was huge and life-altering, but in a far different way. Read this beautiful post about grief.

Teachers, this takes almost 10 minutes, but you must see it (and may have already). This little boy will fire you up!



I think I've mentioned a time or twelve, that I do, indeed, love my iphone ohsoverymuch. Because I love it so much, I would give it up before I would put it in one of these. No iphone should be exposed to such humiliation.


Fitness Friday: To Join or Not?

Melissa asked last week: "ugh...I'm actually thinking about joining a gym (when a special price rate happens next week), but I'm so intimidated by a real gym. Any advice?"

Uh, yeah!

This is a great question because many of us feel that way. The short answer, like most of fitness and exercise, is: "It really depends on you."

Here's why I choose to pay for a gym:
Options: there are free weights, machines, classes I never intend to take (but still CAN if I ever get a wild hair) and classes I attend regularly. I use my gym for: spin (bike) class (RPM), yoga/pilates-type class (BodyFLOW), a weights class (BodyPUMP). That's it on a regular basis. HOWEVER, I use the treadmill when the weather's bad -- like Tuesday/ Wednesday's monsoon, when I'm feeling really ambitious, I use the weight machines, and there are 'experts' (no, not the guy who wants you to THINK he's an expert, the actual paid position-guy) to help me if I need it. All options!

Classes: I LOVE an exercise class and it isn't because I'm a social person by nature -- I'm really not. I'm classified as an 'introvert' and being around many people is just too much for me. But here's what I love about an exercise class: definite beginning time, definite end time. Exercise done. If I don't go to a class, I can potentially procrastinate until it's too late for me to fit it in. I really enjoy my exercise, but, I'm not COMPLETELY insane, I REALLY love when it's over! A class is a great way to have a set exercise time, or an exercise "appointment", if you will.

Peer pressure: This isn't what you're thinking. Many of you think, "I KNOW! The pressure! Just what I don't want in a gym!" I'm talking about being around a group of people that have the same goals in life as you do, including your health (not at the exclusion of everything else). This study showed that obesity can be "contagious" -- friends tend to pack on weight when their friends (and sometimes long-distance siblings) do (please do not think or report that Sarah is saying there is an obesity virus -- please read the study). We could argue that all day long, but let's imagine the reverse to be true: as you spend time around people committed to 'bettering' (is that a word?) their own health, you will begin to notice little changes you can do to become more healthy. Sure, like anything else, it can lead to 'over-indulging' in exercise/ body focus. All things in moderation, but I consider my gym to be (mostly) positive peer pressure.

As far as intimidation -- I guess I would need to know what, specifically, intimidates you.

Do you assume everyone knows what to do on every machine? They don't, and quality gyms will not only give you an orientation, but have someone on the floor at all times (this is where my gym falls short) who can train and/or answer your questions as you go along. Don't be afraid to ask -- it's like everything else: EVERYONE was a novice at one time.

Are you afraid that everyone in there is a 'hard body' and you will be ultra-frumpy in comparison? Well, news flash, I go to a gym. 'Nuff said. It's a little slice of Americana, with folks of all shapes and sizes with all different goals.

I will say this -- most gyms have different 'personalities' throughout the day. My gym (and I would bet most) goes like this: EARLY a.m. -- say, 5-7 or 8 a.m. -- are working folks trying to squeeze in a workout before the day gets nuts. the 'crowd' is in shape, not afraid to sweat, but probably have had a chocolate chip cookie in the last month. There are a few 'hard core', but not the typical gym-goer at this hour. Regular morning hours -- about 8-10 a.m., are mostly moms, a few retirees, and other folks who want to get in a workout and go on with their day. Again -- most are folks committed to exercise, but have a life, as well. The rest of the day -- I can't speak to very much, because those are my hours. But when I've had a chance to go later than 10 a.m. -- lunch hour can get crowded, still with working folks just trying to fight the bulge, but during the school and work day you could have the run of the gym.

After school and work, the show goes on. My gym can get ULTRA crowded at this time: every cardio machine, every spot in a class, all used! Still working people, seem to be LOUD and whacky (de-stressing after the day, I guess). This is also where you will find folks that can spend all day working, then all evening in a gym, i.e., the gym IS their life, social and otherwise. And, as Hess told Judy at one point, "Don't worry about them: they're too busy looking at themselves to notice you." And that is the absolute truth.

Any gym will have a trial period for you. Check it out. See what you like and don't like about it. If you will make it worth your money, absolutely sign up. It's cheaper than therapy, and it's a quality investment in your health!


Phone Pic

In college, Julie and I would go to Gardski's Loft on N. 1st. (It no longer exists, sadly -- you could get some excellent fried food there). Gardski's had a baked potato selection (when they actually HAD potatoes -- perhaps why they no longer exist) on their menu. I don't remember what was on it, but Julie always liked the 'Yankee Doodle Spud' -- but refused to say that in ordering. She would dutifully point to it on the menu and say, "I want one of those."

In May when we went to pick up Stickers, I had been driving in the rain all morning when we stopped at a Schlotszky's for lunch. I was tired and busy squaring away the kids and my money and didn't really pay attention when the guy behind me in line said, "Yeah, I want one of those..." but when the over-the-top perky counter clerk replied, "That's one bacon beefy smokecheesy, right???" I just had to laugh. I don't think they're still on the menu. Probably because no one had the courage to order one!


Where I'm From

There has been a 'meme' (I still don't know how to say that word or what it means, and it bugs me) about 'where I'm from'. I just couldn't do it when it was going around, and I'm not sure I could now. But while I was home (north Louisiana) in August (yes, Louisiana in August is as lovely as it sounds) I took some photos to SHOW you 'Where I'm from'.
My parents live on a cul-de-sac (and, thanks to the Gilmore Girls I know to say "There are several culs-de-sac in that neighborhood" as the plural). You can see the end of my car sticking out -- I never took a pic of my parents house. Not only did I just plain forget, I never asked them if they would mind if I posted it on the www. 'Cause, as you might imagine, the paparazzi for my childhood home ... out of control!

This is the cul-de-sac. I think there were only 2 other houses on this street when we moved in about 32 years ago. So I have wandered through most of these homes in their early construction phases. I have ridden bikes and go-carts millions of miles those last 100 feet of street, as well as learned to drive -- an automatic AND standard transmission vehicle. I've used the path between two of the houses -- pre-privacy fences -- to walk through to a friend's house on the street behind. I don't feel particularly sentimental about this street, but I sure have given it a lot of mileage.
This is the church where my parents still worship. Yes, it's funny looking, and you don't even want to know what kind of quotes they recently got for re-roofing. Now, I think I do feel a little sentimental about this crazy building. This is the only church I knew as 'home' for 18 years. I was baptized in that baptistry, and my friend Christy's 'Uncle Bill' (who we all called Uncle Bill) kept it locked and heated and cooled for years. I attended the nursery and worked in the nursery there. I scared myself and tried to scare others at lock-ins there. I stood in the front of that church and exchanged rings, vows, and one big kiss with my man at that church. I have showed off my babies there, and they have been appropriately 'oohed' and 'ahhed' over. When I think about the church where I grew up, I don't think about this building, the roofline, or the horrible accoustics (yes, the inside of the auditorium does the same thing). I think about the faces of folks -- most of them no longer on this planet -- loving me through my childhood.

This is the Bayou Desiard Country Club. Yes, that is Bayou Desiard, and it is in front of the Country Club. Original, no? I confess that this is a part of where I'm from that I hesitate to share. Partly because I just heard Denver Moore speak, it's hard to think of how he grew up, not far from this spot, as opposed to how I grew up. But, Denver also said, in speaking of his own past experiences and tragedies, "It's what happened then that made me who I am now." And the country club life was very much part of my growing up years. I've been to at least 500 Sunday lunches there (amazing buffet), swam in the pool every summer, rode the cart while my then-fiance, now-husband, gave a round of golf a try (and decided that next time he'll bring his shotgun). I have celebrated some wonderful occasions in that building: my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary, my Poppa Max's 90th birthday, and my personal favorite was my wedding reception held in there, almost 16 years ago now.

I have to also tell you a little about the bayou. I realized how remiss I had been in telling about my hometown when someone that I know fairly well asked me (after I was singing the obligatory 'Jambalaya' about having big fun on the bayou) if there was an actual bayou. Uh, yeah there is! I have skied and floated and boated in that bayou. The road where I took this picture was on my way to my school, and I loved to watch the fog crawl up the banks of the bayou on chilly fall mornings. Off to the right you can't see the road that crosses the bayou. When I was in high school a truck drove off of that road into the bayou. The daddy and little girl got out, but Momma couldn't swim. My dad, who witnessed the accident, went in and got her. (Yes, my dad, who said he didn't have a story to tell!!) My senior party was a skiing party on that bayou. Lots of memories for me around the bayou.

This is just a picture from the end of the street where I lived before we moved to the cul-de-sac. Where all those houses are used to be a HUGE cotton field. I always loved the symmetry of the rows when we drove by.

This is just a random Cypress tree, complete with moss hanging all over it. See that little bitty shed at the bottom? Yeah, that's a house... Dear friends in West Texas: this is a tree. Maybe now you will understand why I just can't get on board with the shrubs we have around here.

And that is a partial tour of my hometown in Louisiana. I didn't make it out to my school, but a) It doesn't look anything like it did when I was in school there and b)It would require an entire blog post (or 3) anyway. Thanks for coming along!

A Cleft of the Rock Wordle

by Wordle


Prayer Time

This video made me laugh out loud, but a little sad, also. I know if I'm not careful, I can allow my prayer life to look like this. What we're missing out on...


Who Will Move the Stone?

In the study "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter, Kelly leads us to realize that our God is the God of all gods. She pointed us to what I believe to be one of the most disturbing accounts in the Bible: when God tests Abraham by callling him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. (Read the whole account here, in Genesis 22:1-19)

Abraham dutifully set out to obey God's shocking and seemingly nonsensical command. On the way, Isaac, not missing what was going on around him said, " "The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" (v. 7) Abraham sounds as if he has mighty faith when he replies: "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."(v.8). I have frequently wondered what was going through Abraham's mind when he replied to Isaac. Did he have any idea what would happen -- that God would prevent him from killing Isaac, but a sacrificial ram would be caught in the nearby brush? Did he think that God had already provided the 'lamb' -- and Abraham was walking with him? What was he thinking? Did he really believe that God would provide?

Hebrews 11 tells us that he really did -- he just had a different train of thought than what happened:

17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17-19

This gives me a different image in my head: Abraham knew that God had it. Abraham had no doubt as to God's power. There may have even been a part of Abraham that couldn't WAIT to see God do His thing and raise his son -- yet another reason not to bring along the Mrs.

Less than amused she would be, I might assume.

I have claimed Abraham's reply for many things lately: God will provide the lamb. God will provide.

Not too long ago, Preacher Phil pointed out Mark 16:3, as the women were on the way to the tomb of the crucified Christ. They were still going, but they wondered "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" Most of us know that they showed up and it was already done for them. The same God who allowed his son to die a brutal death to be a blood sacrifice for our thoughtless and/ or willful sins, flicked a finger to move an impossible stone. Phil asked us, "What stone do you need moved in your life?"

It made me think of a loved one who is watching her son struggle with addiction -- and pick it up again and put it down again, over and over. Who will move her stone?

Dear people have legal wranglings and money matters and broken relationships that could potentially wipe out any financial planning for retirement they have done. Who will move that stone?

What about waiting for medical results that seem only logical to be horrible?
Or 'bankruptcy' and 'foreclosure' seem the only option?
The money is gone, but not everyone is paid?
The hurt is too awful to forgive, the sin too monstrous to redeem?

Who will move those stones?

God will provide.

It sounds trite, but sometimes it's the only answer I can depend on.


Good Things Out There

You have to decide if it's a 'good thing out there', but I had some writing that I posted over here earlier.

Cutest. Thing. EVER.

You Wylie folks have to find out how to make a doggy dinner (i.e., leftovers) for your family -- check out the dog-print biscuits!! PRECIOUS!

I subscribe to a few writer's blogs. Fortunately for their blog, some of them were at a writing conference last weekend. In New Orleans. You've met Gustav, right? MUST read part ONE and part TWO. Evacuating for a hurricane has never been funnier.

If you have a little guy or girl with a birthday coming up, head over to the birthday party ideas at Tip Junkie! She has superheroes (w/ or w/o the 'e' before the 's'? w/, right? Neither looks right), princesses, fairies (oh, I need a fairy party -- so cute), more girl party ideas, and even for twins! Since I truly loathe throwing birthday parties (I do, it's a flaw, but I do) and my kids are too old for any of this, I won't be participating. But I did get this pic out of the deal -- it hurts my heart it's so cute...

You just can't look at that and be upset. All is right with the world.

Leigh had some EXCELLENT words to say about a constant struggle for me. Leigh is a precious tennis-coachin'/playin' momma who listens to what the Lord is saying to her. I like to pretend we're BFF's, even though we've never met...! :-)

This guy is obviously secure in his manhood -- and an amazing gymnast:


Fitness Friday: Know Your Numbers

'Kay. Let's do a little basic geometry. You know, if a=b and b=c, then... a=c, right? You remember!

So, if "Ignorance is bliss(happy)" and a commonly used expression is:"Fat and happy." Might it follow that ignorance can make you fat? Well, as a matter of fact, it can! I read a study this week that women consistently underestimate the calories they take in and overestimate how much they move. The result? Well, I don't have to tell you what more calories than you think + less moving than you think equals.

A lot of people prefer to throw the blinders on, keep eating, keep the couch warm, and then wonder why their clothes no longer fit and the mirror isn't being kind to them -- they either don't own a scale or refuse to get on it. And, listen up, there are many good reasons to not get on a scale -- but they all center around allowing the scale to dictate emotions. The scale is a measuring instrument, and shouldn't be any more emotional than backing up to the doorframe to see how tall you are. It's simply a measure. And whether you are willing to look it in the eye or not, it is the truth. Oprah (who, as you probably notice, I don't quote terribly often) says, "Own the number!" You do have to own the number -- because the rest of the world can see it. You don't want to be caught by surprise when you finally decide to face the music.

There are many numbers you should be aware of in your quest for health and fitness. Your weight is only one -- one tiny little measure. Megan has an EXCELLENT example of why the scale shouldn't be the ONLY measure you use.

Some numbers you should be aware of:
your age!
your weight
your height
your blood pressure
required daily calorie intake
heart rate levels to amount to an effective workout for you
time required to exercise at a minimum level

This is just what I can think of off the top of my head. I see you out there, rolling your eyes and shaking your head. "Too much work!" "That's like school!" "Who cares?" "Don't you think that's a little obsessive?"

Do you know what time you have to be at work every day -- even if it differs? Do you know at least one recipe by memory? Do you know a child or spouse's daily schedule? Then you have enough room in your brain to learn these things, and if you won't take care of your own 'house', who will? I don't think I'm giving you any news you don't know about what you SHOULD know, and I sure can't make you care when you don't, but I promise you this: ignoring all of these numbers will NOT make any of them any better, or make you any healthier.

For now, I will let you do a little investigating about all of those numbers. Your homework this week is to find out any of that info you don't know. If you don't know ANY of it -- then only find out half. We'll talk more later about how to find them and what's best.

Know your numbers, stay healthy, and be fit.


Phone Pic

The third day in a row I walked by this open door with the DO NOT OPEN scribbled all over it, well, it just begged to be featured on my blog.


Book Review

One time I asked Judy Thomas, whose literary opinions (and lots of other opinions) I respect greatly, if she could recommend any good Christian fiction for a young reader. Her response was wonderful, "Not really. Most Christian fiction is just so bad." As I thought on it, she was absolutely right. I tried to muddle through a few books, but they were awful. Which is why, when someone encouraged me to read Jan Karon's 'Mitford series', I couldn't imagine it would be any better. Oh, mercy, was I wrong.

If you haven't read ANY of Jan Karon's Mitford books, well, first you need to repent of your ways. Then, you need to get thee to nearest library or bookstore and pick up At Home in Mitford. You will fall in love with the whacky, irritating, and loveable folks in town -- just like your own! Just wonderful writing -- so accurately depicting human nature.

I tore threw all of those books a few summers ago -- and love them so much. So, this summer, when a new book came out, I had to read it!
"Home to Holly Springs" goes a little different direction than the Mitford series: it's about Father Tim, now retired, returning to his hometown of Holly Springs. As he does, we see flashbacks of memories that shaped him and forever impressed him. There is also a fairly big bombshell in the book. As always, excellent writing, characters like people you know: maddening and tender and all in between. Big thumbs up.
One of my favorite parts of the book is toward the end. It goes along with a discussion I have had with my Coffee Group gals (maybe I've even written about it here). You know, people talk about "forgiving and forgetting" as if that is a holy order. Here's the deal: Jesus tells us again and again to FORGIVE, but never once mentions forgetting the sin/ hurt. Because he knows it isn't possible. Pain leaves a scar. I believe that the "70 times 7" that Jesus refers to can mean the 490 times you will have to forgive the SAME sin -- because it may hurt at least that many times.
There's a beautiful dialog in the book that refers to just that concept:

"I'd like you to know," he told Henry, "that I've forgiven him. Again and
again. Once done, of course, back comes the Enemy to persecute and prosecute,
and I must ante up to God and forgive yet again."

"There may be circumstances in this life," said Henry, "that God uses
to keep bringing us back to Him, looking for His grace."
You will not regret reading this book. It is a wonderful vacation for the soul.



I'm still thinking about being an heiress... and lots of other things. I wrote about it here.

We are in the middle of our happy lives over here: soccer this and that, we find out tomorrow which volleyball team we're on, new jobs being done, on and on. Very fun, very busy. PTA board meetings. Oy. I explained the phrase, "One bad apple..." to my family upon my return. One bad apple, indeed.

Okay, you know I am NOT a techno-wizard. I give you my blog button failure as an example (and we'll discuss my contest failure later, thankyouverymuch). But I've gotten some comments about linking, etc.

Kelly wanted to know how to include links -- I think she was talking about within a post. If you are using blogger (which Kelly is), it's SO simple (again, in your countrified voice, mocking the Nutri-System commercial). While you are composing your blog post (be on the 'compose' tab, not 'Edit HTML' tab) type whatever it is you want to make your link. You might write: "I give you my blog button failure as an example." and would like your link to be on 'blog button failure'. I, personally, now open a new tab for the internet and find the blog post or website or yada yada I want to link to. I copy the URL address box on that tab, then go back to my blog post. Highlight the phrase: 'blog button failure', then click on the chain (link) on the green dot (that may be a globe?) and this dialog box will pop up (it says 'hyperlink information'):

Paste the URL into that box and tell it 'ok'! Voila! You are linked! (Important: either delete the current 'http://' or paste over it, but if you've copied the original URL, you will need to remove the one that shows up there).

Tammy mentioned needing to learn how to link to specific blog posts. You need to link to the 'permalink'. The best explanation of finding that is here.

If Kelly was curious about linking within comments, I can do that, but don't currently have the energy to go into explaining it. I will tell you that this website also has an explanation of that: but it is wrong! So, can't really recommend that.
So, just a little blogging info. Not much to see around here. Moving along...
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