Observing Life

I mentioned recently that I am enjoying my newly discovered permission to read all I want. Now I just need someone to give me permission to walk away from a book that I'm not enjoying. If you read enough books, you're going to get some stinkers eventually. I think I most appreciate the books that are horrible in the first two pages. Then I don't feel quite so committed.


Book Review: My Husband's Sweethearts

For whatever unintentional reason, I have read several books about death lately. Hmmmm....

But they all have been hopeful and sweet in their own way. And this was no exception. Main character Lucy is still furious at (and separated from) her cheating husband when he learns he is dying. Then, she's even madder that he's tying up her emotions. She goes home out of duty, but one night in a drunken fit, calls the names in his little black book saying, "Artie's dying. You need to come take your turn at his bedside."

The characters that take her up on it are precious and become everyone's sweethearts. There is much love and redemption in this fun little book. Yes, it's fun, even facing death. Again, I recommend!



(Got the quote from Katherine, though hers said, "Faith is the courage to dance to it today." Got the graphic here. I'm finding this quote attributed to 4 different sources, so let's go with 'Unknown')


Love It, But I Can't Spell It...

First, the responses from yesterday were awesome. You KNOW who just kind-of blog knows me, and who knows me personally. Christy, loved it, "(snort) as if I thought you were perfect...!" (That isn't a direct quote, but you get the idea).

I really wanted to include a photo of me how I USUALLY look --post workout, with some traces of yesterday's make-up, in a ponytail, but I never got around to taking the picture (another flaw: I'm a GREAT planner, a horrible follow-through-er). AND I COULD include a picture of the computer eqipment, Christmas wrapping paper, hand weights, and various and sundry items waiting to go to Goodwill that 'decorate' the floor of my bedroom, but I'm not quite THAT humble.... just imagine.

Today, I am clinging to this:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19

(I'm practicing spelling 'Habakkuk' Yikes!)


Even If I Got it All Together, I Wouldn't Remember Where I Put It

Roxanne and I have been friends for a LONG time. A long time. We know each other. Mostly. I think I still say things that surprise Roxanne about me, and I tend to forget that my laugh-a-little-too-loud-too-long friend is a very capable, rockin' middle school teacher/ expert in teenage angst. But she had a great observation about me not too long ago.

We were catching up. I was mentioning that I had read a blog post about one person struggling the last few years and I was just floored. I told Roxanne that I know that from reading the blog, I have a limited vantage point, but from the blog and some other bits of information I have, this person's life seems to have completely fallen into place the last few years. Or, maybe, more accurately, fell into a place that I would like to be. I simply said it to observe, "You never know what's going on with people, you know?"

She pointed out that were someone to happen upon my blog, see my well-coiffed picture that Tammy took of me, and hear some of my day-to-day what-have-yous (she did point this out on a day that precious Michelle from Fresh Brewed Life put most of Coffee Group on a conference call to write us up for the website, and I got a new writing gig for the local paper), someone may think that I, too, have it all together. Well, bless. I simply do not....

Occasionally when someone realizes that I'm a certified teacher that interprets for the deaf at my church and teaches swimming lessons in the summer for extra dough, with an occasional article in a local magazine AND exercises on a regular basis, I will get, "Well, what DON'T you do...?"

The list is so very, very long.

I usually start with the most obvious (to me):
I don't keep a clean house. I LOVE having a clean house, but I get it that way about 4 times a year. In a good year. I turn a blind eye to clutter that would drive other people to drink.

I couldn't make it teaching. I guess if Troy got run over by a bus tomorrow and I needed more steady income than the sum total of the -$0- that I am currently earning as a writer, I would find a way. But, as it stands currently, I was unable to function in a job millions of men and women do every day quite successfully, and the job that I have a college degree in. That's a long therapy session right there.

I burn dinner, I serve it cold, I serve it how my family hates it, and I get grouchy when they don't like it. I frequently just walk away from the dirty kitchen (Troy usually takes care of it, but if he doesn't, I can hardly face it by the time I've already been in the kitchen an hour).

I do NOT make my family breakfast. I just can't. It's too early for me to function for people that have to be out of the house at a certain time... like all of us.

I'm horrible with our finances and, going on the unfortunate bus scenario for Troy again, I have NO idea what's what with our retirement (judging from the stock market, I'm sure I'm happier not knowing, but I don't know). I wasn't quite so bad with our finances when I was teaching and there was more of it to juggle, but I'm pretty bad at them.

And the list could continue forever.

I don't say this to say 'poor, pitiful me', though I confess to feeling that way at least once a week, if not once a day. I say it for several reasons. First, I say it because I have always felt it important to be a transparent person. I want people to see that we're all just people, and I, especially, am just people. In trying to not let my blog become a blog-o-griping, perhaps I do put too rosy a picture on things sometimes. Most importantly, I say it to remind everyone, myself included, that without the Lord working through me, I would accomplish nothing. Anything I do that may seem like a big deal is because He willed it and allowed it. 'Cause my way would surely screw it up.

So. I'm just a person, who does too much in too many places, (usually) trusting that God will use my cluttered life to do what He wills. Please don't think I've got it all together.


Balance? or Surrender?

I've been preachin' and preachin' -- on this blog and to anyone who would stop and listen -- that this life is all about finding balance. Home and work, family and job, family and ministry, church and ministry, yada, yada, the pull and tug of all of those is constant and unrelenting, so I have often thought and said that it is all about balance.

God has been leading me to understand that I am completely wrong.

This type of balance reminds me of a station the P.E. teachers have at the school where I substitute -- a small plank balanced on a PVC pipe about the diameter of a can of tennis balls. I've actually tried to do this, and have done it without even breaking any part of my body, which is an accomplishment in itself. I have pretty good balance, but to stay on that thing requires every bit of concentration and control I can give. AND I know when I am balanced and when I am not, which is rare when you're talking about the pull between your family and your ministry or your job.

I don't know what caused me to start thinking otherwise, but God very firmly said to me recently, "It's not about balance, it's about total surrender. To me." There is no balance in total surrender. Balance implies that I am completely in control -- the nudge of the Father or the breath of the Holy Spirit is likely to send my PVC pipe rolling and upset the delicate balance I have created in my world. Total surrender allows my day to be ordered by Him and the Holy Spirit, which takes a minute-by-minute surrender and conversation with Him. I don't know that I'm ready for that, I kind of like having the illusion that I am in control of my life and day. But my day goes REALLY wrong when God shows me that I never was in control.

What about my flat tire last week? Maybe I was supposed to come in contact with someone at the tire store. Did I? Nope, just read a book, trying to survive the irritation of MY plan not going how I wanted it. Did I miss what God had for me to do? I'll never know...

So today I shall surrender. My worries, my irritations, my own plans, my family, my ministry, my deadlines. All of it. (Seriously, it kind of makes my pulse race to think of letting it all go -- will it get done? What will happen?) Then I shall laugh to myself ever thinking I had any control of it anyway. And I will trust. None of that will be easy, but I will do that for today. And tomorrow I will get up and try again.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20


Sarah's Crystal Ball

Yeah, I took the weekend off -- didn't even record all the "Good Things Out There" that I came across last week. So sue me. OR feel free to tell me your vote for any "Good Things Out There" in the comments and I'll do one a day late (or next week -- or sometime)!

I have only (that I can remember) gone out on a limb with a prediction one time on the ol' bloggity... and it didn't quite end up like I thought...

But, since I don't mind being wrong on some things (just don't let me miss heaven!) I have a couple of predictions rolling around in my head to share with you guys. Feel free to agree, disagree, or debate. Whatever suits your fancy.

First, I think that America will take only one, POSSIBLY two, more seasons of Kate Gosselin verbally abusing Jon. The day of 'Jon and Kate Plus Eight' is in its sunset. I hope they are enjoying the new house, the appliance sponsorships, and the elaborate vacations that we get to hear her screech her way through. Obviously, it is watched at my house. Ashley is IN LOVE with all of the little guys and doesn't mind hearing Kate screech to watch them. She makes my teeth itch.

My next prediction I am fairly certain of (the first one I'm just HOPEFUL for!):

After a brief perusal through Target's junior section where shorts and swimsuits are out while I wear my fleece, I expect to see a LOT of hiney cheeks hanging out of shorts this summer. To which, I already say, "Ew. Put those things away...." I guess now that pants and shorts are being made higher so as to not expose hiney cracks, they had to be made shorter so that some portion of the hiney could be seen at all times. Bless.

What about you? Noticing a trend? What do you think is coming down the road? I would love to hear it!


Book Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Earlier this week I mentioned that by reading and reading lots I am happening across some really good writing. This book is an example of that. I wouldn't be surprised to learn, however, that this particular book is writing on a different plane than any of her other work, though this is the only book of hers I've read. I say that because it's a book from the depths of her grief, from a different place in her soul than she would use to write the fiction she usually writes.

This book is a memoir of her having a stillborn baby, then one year later a healthy baby. It's more the story of walking through the grief of losing the baby, and finding a way to keep breathing beyond that. As odd as it sounds, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and truly think that anyone who has lost a child, particularly a baby, would find comfort in this book.
Sunday Phil spoke on 2 Corinthians 1:3-7:
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. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Or, as one man summed up: God doesn't comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
I think that's what this book does (though she very openly admits she has no use for religion or God) -- I would imagine that it would be comforting to hear someone tell a story so beautifully of what it is like. She wrote some things that I thought (from the vantage point of never miscarrying, never losing a child): "Yes, I would imagine I might feel that way..."
The thing she wrote that touched me the most was: "This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending." She meant her life with her husband, and her pregnancy, what wonderful times they were. She wrote that to herself days after her baby died, because she didn't want to forget the beautiful times that came to such an ugly end.
Beautifully written, very oddly hopeful, even with the sad topic, and a reminder never to assume anything about your future. A quick, long afternoon read. I highly recommend it.
Updated: I've had two people who have lost children under similar circumstances ask me if they should read the book. Honestly, I had those people in mind as I read it and wrote this review. Absolutely, I would IMAGINE (having not walked that road) that it would be valuable to hear another's view point on that. HOWEVER, it would definitely pick and poke at that wound in your soul. If you're still raw or struggling to heal, it may be too much. But if you're still struggling to heal, (don't hear me saying 'get over' -- I know you won't and no one is expecting you to) I THINK it would help to read this and put into words what it may be like. In short, I think you should give it a try. If it's too much, put it down and consider a different time in your life for it.


Is Your Name on the Roll?

To my tens of readers, far and wide, that don't live in my little dusty corner of the globe, please pardon me while I do a little local housekeeping.

The church where I worship is creating a blog roll in order to promote community among members. There are many members that I don't see on a regular basis, but I can read their blog and know that they have been plagued with the flu, or are celebrating a first tooth loss, or anything else that may connect me with them.

For some reason, when I went to the meeting about this and was the only person in the room not on the church's payroll, I ended up in charge of gathering those names and blogs. Hmmmmm.... what is wrong with this picture? (absolutely nothing, say the people from the meeting)

So, to my readers that worship at SoHills, please do two things: leave a comment if you would like your blog included. I'll need the blog address, your name, and a brief, one sentence description of your blog ("Family happenings" or "My life at the end of a fishing pole" or "My thoughts about today" Whatever --don't sweat that part). Then, please continue to spread the word to our fellow SoHills bloggers. I will only accept a person's submission of their own blog due to privacy issues. You can tell your buddy about it, but don't sign up for him/ her.

Also, please remember that we are looking to include blogs that reflect and embrace our front porch vision of inviting, including, and involving others. Basically, "What Would Jesus Blog" type thought process if you wish to be included in our blog (which may be way over the top, because I doubt that Jesus would spend most of one blog post complaining about a flat tire, but you get the idea...)

Hope to see your name on the roll!


Tuesday became Monday

I think it was when we had MLK day back in January that someone commented that the rest of the week seems to want to pay us back for missing a day. Indeed, yesterday felt that way! I had a pretty tight schedule, but I was packed and ready to go. I was not, however, prepared to walk out of the gym and find this:

Bummer. Not in my schedule.
Y'all, I can change a tire. As a matter of fact, I changed a friend's tire in college after chapel, causing quite a stir by the chivalry-wanna-be's walking by: "Uh.... y'all need any help?" "Nope. Got it." "Ooooh-kay..." But that was when I drove a cute little compact thing, spare and jack neatly under the mat in the hatch. In this instance, I did what any other woman on the planet would do: I called my husband on the brink of tears.
He very wisely told me I was going to have to move it from the incline it was on to change the tire. Oh, right. Check. But I'm here to tell you, if it were up to me to figure out how to get the spare out from under an SUV, I would still be there. In tears. Thankfully, I had not, as I have threatened to do on more than one occasion, thrown our fancy-schmancy hydraulic jack that weighs approximately 142 pounds out on the side of the road after shuffling it hither and yon inside the car trying to put groceries in there. Did you know that the jack that comes on a 2000 Ford Expedition (yes, my car is older than all of you, I know, but IT. IS. ALL. MINE!!) will not actually jack it up? Hence the fancy-schmancy hydraulic jack that weighs approximately 142 pounds.
So bless that sweet man, he drove all the way across town (yes, all 15 minutes for you D/FW readers -- it's a LONG way here, okay?) changed my tire. It took both of us and our college degrees to figure out our fancy-schmancy hydraulic jack that weighs approximately 142 pounds, as well as the spare-removal deal.
Spare, of course, had about 12 pounds of pressure in it. Went to the nearest 7-11 to put air in. Fed the air machine $.75, in quarters, per instructions. Nada. Limped along to my tire place. Tire place fixed my tire (nail) and filled my spare and switched them both out.
Boom. Done. About 1.5 hours later, I was on my way. I completely missed my haircut. The forecast is ponytails for the rest of the week.
So, I went on my way. I made my Meals on Wheels run, and spending just a few extra minutes with one of my folks absolutely blessed my socks off.
Got home and had a few minutes before getting Ashley to the orthodontist. I had email after email that, in short, let me know that God heard. Yesterday, as I fretted and worried, God heard. Last week, when I poured out my heart, God heard. Months ago, when I dared to dream big, God heard. And yesterday I was reminded of all the ways that God heard. He didn't magically fix everything -- and certainly there was an ultra-flat tire in my day -- but he heard.
And I was reminded again of this day ordained for me. A day of not-much special, full of God and His work. A day of irritations and surprises, God in it all.
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
Psalm 34:15-19
And can I get an Amen on that?


How Do They Know?

Originally in Abilene Families

What sound waves are unique to a home bathroom door? Something about the closing of your own bathroom door cues everyone in your life to the precise moment you shut it. Sound waves must be it! How else would they all know to ring the phone or doorbell? And the kids? They have some kind of inner sensor that alerts them that you have shut the bathroom door. It is the same sensor that tells them to go ballistic as soon as your ear is pressed to a phone, and closely related to the magnetic waves that cause a major appliance to break down or overflow when you are expecting company or out of money (or both).

My kids are old enough to get dressed, cook a meal, and operate a dishwasher or washing machine without me (they have the capability... don’t hear me saying they use it). But STILL, the moment the bathroom door is shut I hear it, "Mom? Where are you?"

My home was one of hundreds in Abilene damaged in the floods in 2002. For a few months we lived out of our home, then returned to a home under construction. For a brief time, we only had one toilet in the home, and for a day or two, there was a hole in that bathroom that led to hall. A little mini-window into the private inner plumbing of my home giving anyone – construction worker or family – a clear view into the bathroom from the hallway.

Finally the cabinetry that would close the hole was installed and I had a private restroom in my home again! So, as soon as I closed the bathroom door to celebrate the return of indoor, private facilities, I could hear my then-4-year-old. He had been outside playing, but of course his sensor let him know that I was in the bathroom, and probably needed company. I could hear him at the front door: “Mom?” And walking through the living room: “Mooooom?” And down the hall: “Mom? Where are you?” Finally, he spotted the closed bathroom door.

I could tell by the sound that his next shout had his precious little lips pressed right into the crack between door and door jamb. “Mom?”

“What, sweetie?”

“Why did the turkey cross the playground?”

Oh, yes, of course. A turkey and playground joke. That is precisely what was missing from this experience. However, the humor of the moment was not lost on me while I washed my hands, and curiosity won out.

“I don’t know... why did the turkey cross the playground?”

“To get to the other SLIDE!” he exclaimed just as I was opening the door.

My reward for FINALLY opening the door was the beaming freckled face of a child so pleased with himself he seemed to have grown a couple of inches. I even had to stop and wonder how I could possibly part with that precious face for the 2.7 minutes I must have had the door closed. I'm still trying to figure out where that sensor is, though.

(A photo of Riley from that approximate time. Thankfully, he wasn't holding a fish when I opened the door, but how could you not be thrilled to see that face?)


Reading to Write

I was going to say THE most helpful thing to me in trying my hand at this writing business has been.... But then I thought of 2 other things that have also been incredibly helpful, so let me just call this one definitely in the top 5:

Being given permission to read a lot.

Actually, I heard MANY times before this that a good writer reads a lot. Period. But I wasn't reading and thought I could get by without it -- my life is busy, I'm running a home (and carpool), have 2 active kids to keep up with, involved in my church... yada, yada. Then Tammy recommended Stephen King's book about writing to me:

She warned me that it's a bit rough around the edges in places. If you've read any Stephen King this won't surprise you. I still haven't finished it because I keep getting stuck in the valuable mid-section of the book where he talks about your "writer's toolbox". That's the basics like vocabulary and grammar, but when he goes into the specifics of writing, he starts with reading.
He starts that section with: "If you want to be a great writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."
He goes on to say that good writing can be instructionary, and bad writing is golden -- "worth a semester at a good writing school, even with the superstar guest lecturers thrown in." (King is NOT a fan of "Bridges of Madison County", I can tell you...)
About good writing: "You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you."
Later he says: "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." (ouch...)
He has a great few paragraphs about what, exactly, you're missing if you turn the TV off to do your reading -- love when he refers to it as "the glass teat".
He wraps up this section by saying: "If you feel you need permission to do all the reading and writing your little heart desires, however, consider it hereby granted by yours truly."
So. Stephen King himself granted me permission to read and write to my heart's content. Truly, it has changed my life! As a human AND as a writer. He's SO right about learning by being swept away from others' writing. And I have been blessed to be swept away by the force of some writing lately. One was in "The Year of Fog". The other, I'll write about later this week. And, I have learned that while Kate Gosselin is an amazing baby-making machine, she is no writer. Her friend, Beth Carson, is a writer... and got a sweet book deal because TLC already gave her a ready-made 'platform'. Literary genius it isn't...
I, in turn, give you permission, writer or no, to read to your heart's content. I am on the verge of giving you instructions to turn off the TV so that you can. Of course Denise watches TV with every light in the house on, so she does both at the same time. Whatever. Reading's good, and there is some good stuff out there, and there is some trash out there. May you spend more time with the former.


Good Things Out There

Y'all, I have sewing room envy. Didn't this Sarah make it the cutest thing ever?

Amanda makes me miss having a 5 year old son. All I get now is, "Mom, you're so weird..."

You KNOW I love words. But Donna Hester knows how to put them together. This woman is a genius. Maybe someday I will grow up and put together words as beautifully as Donna did in "Words". A must read....

And that Beth... she's always sayin' it right. Beautiful post about marriage and the God that ordained it.

I think Troy thinks this is what I do every night:

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Considering Valentine's Day

originally published in Abilene Families
also in heartlight this week

My family experienced some minor medical drama the week between Christmas and New Year's while traveling out of state. On one of my many trips to the drug store I had to stop dead in my tracks. I was perusing the Christmas decorations and wrapping paper on clearance. I turned around to look for more, and was faced with a shelf full of boxes of Valentine's cards that children will use to declare love for classmates. Before the confetti of the New Year’s holiday is swept up, the shelves in stores are fully stocked with hearts, balloons, and all manner of Valentine props and paraphernalia. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s motherhood, maybe it’s global warming, but I don’t think of Valentine’s Day the same way that I did as a young, single woman or newlywed. Valentine’s Day is a fun, light-hearted opportunity to lavish love on those around you, but life has shown me that love rarely looks like the front of a Hallmark card.

Love is not running along a beach hand in hand. Love holds the flashlight in the middle of the night, make-up long gone and tempers flaring, holding your tongue while your sweetie attempts an emergency home repair. Love isn’t demonstrated by dewy eyes across a candlelit meal, but rather by one more run to the doctor or pharmacy when you are exhausted beyond reasonable or rational thought. Valentine's Day lends itself to romance. Romance is wonderful and exciting but won't take you very far when the stomach bug hits, or your Love Shack floods, or one of your parents is critically ill and/or dies. Romance will not be found in any of those situations, but love is there larger than life. Love brings the cool wash cloth again and again for the stomach bug, and mops and covertly repairs damaged keepsakes during the flood, and cries and holds and works and loves with an ill family member.

Love is not rose petals and champagne, but aching backs and work gloves. Love at my house never dances in an evening gown or tuxedo, but love supplies the elbow grease, the patience, the encouragement, and the clean clothes to face each day and, Lord willin’, a comforting place to come home to when the day seems to come out on top. Love is holding tight when no words will fix it, and tears the only language uttered.

Love is not a polished, glimmery state. Love is messy, inconvenient, and frustrating. Love is giving up the last ounce of energy, sleep, time, or chocolate for the well-being of another. Love isn’t found in romantic restaurants or destinations, but in hospital waiting rooms, the lobby of funeral homes, and kneeling in prayer next to race-car or princess beds in the middle of the night. Love is less about flowers and cartoon hearts, and everything about the value of another soul on this planet. I guess that’s a little harder to put on the side of a coffee mug.

I will play along this Valentine’s Day, like all the others, and I certainly hope for you to feel cherished on that day. But later in the year when the toilet overflows while the drama at school comes to a boiling point and work causes too many demands to keep everyone civil, love will be there with a plunger, Kleenex for the tears, and hugs, pats, and kisses for all the things the plunger and Kleenex won’t fix. Consider that your own Valentine’s Day – but don’t look for Hallmark to make a card for it anytime soon.

To my Valentine: Thank you for showing me what love looks like wearing work gloves. It is you. I thank the Lord for you every day -- usually as I'm putting my icicle toes on your feet... :-)


Book Review: Izzy and Lenore

When I go to the library, I always like to check out the 'new release' section for something that I may not have heard about but that looks appealing. And what isn't appealing about that precious little lab puppy staring at me? The sub-title reads: "Two dogs, an unexpected journey, and me" So I checked it out and joined Izzy and Lenore on their journey. Oh, Ashley is the one that cracked up that some guy named 'Katz' (pronounced 'cats', of course) was writing about dogs. It never crossed my mind...

Izzy is a border collie that Jon rescued and he was a MESS when Jon got him. Pretty soon, though, Jon went to go get trained to be a hospice volunteer and took Izzy with him. Some of the book is about their work as hospice volunteers. It is VERY touching to hear him tell the story of Izzy instinctively relating with people in their last moments of life. I can't remember now how Jon ended up with Lenore, a lab puppy. (Our Duchess is a lab -- sweetest dogs on the planet...!) Shortly thereafter, Jon realized that not only was he "not himself" he was in the depths of a deep depression. So some of the book is how Lenore was a precious companion to him through his journey through depression.

I think it's a great book, but I am an unashamed dog lover. Katz frequently says, "I know you can't assign human emotionsn to dogs..." and then go on to illustrate some action of either of the dogs that may contradict that. He doesn't think of them as people, but his love for them is evident.

Gotta give it a thumbs up. Check it out.


Makin' Memories

Yesterday, as most Wednesdays, I spent the latter part of school hours at Riley's school doing volunteer work and we walked home from school together at 3. He really wanted to go to Sonic (Happy Hour! 2-4!) but there were a bajillion things that needed to happen in the next few minutes. We had to get his room squared away so the window guy could see what the problem is/was, I let the window guy in and had to go run middle school carpool. Got back, visited with window guy about the problem and when he would be back to fix it while Ashley answered my phone and took a message. Seriously, just your usual after-school goin's on.

Window guy left. I was a little hungry and walked to the kitchen to pull out some yogurt for a snack while Ashley was starting on her homework.

It hit me. Turned, and the clock read: 3:54. I called an audible: "Kids! Hurry! In the car! Let's go to Sonic!"

We looked like the 3 stooges. "Not the dog!" "Don't worry about shoes!" "Which door are we going out?" "Keys! Throw me the keys!"

We screeched into our new Sonic at 3:59, got some slushes for happy hour, and enjoyed our victory. Sometimes ya just gotta live on the edge... :-) Happy Thursday!


Are You Listening?

A few days ago when I posted over here at Praise Baby blog, Pamela commented that her granddaughter also knew that song. Pamela continued, "She talks of Jesus being in her heart and will even lean her head down to her chest to talk to him. (She is now three.)"

Y'all, is that the absolute sweetest thing you have ever heard? Can you see it? A cherubic little toddler head leaning towards her chest to visit with Jesus who lives in her heart. I so love that image!

Do you really believe that Jesus is there? Do you understand that he truly is that close that you can lean your head down (actually, you don't even have to do that if you're well beyond toddler years and have neck issues like, maybe, the blog-writer) and visit with your Jesus? Do you believe, like that precious punkin', that he is in there, AND ... he's CRAZY about you?

I shall give that a shot today... and hopefully for the rest of my life. May I come to remember and believe that Jesus lives in my heart, and I only have to start visiting with him for him to listen to me. And... if I'm really, really, listening, I'll be able to hear what he says back.

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16


Girl About the Blogosphere!

And today... I am HERE! or more specifically here.

Sing it with me, "Get around, 'round, 'round, I get around (yeah)..."

And I mean that in the purest sense possible, with an additional bonus of a nod to my husband's love of all things Beach Boys.

So, go poke around the internet, see where all I've been this week. 'Cause tomorrow? I am so HERE (as in here, here -- The Cleft of the Rock here!!) And you won't want to miss it.


Come Visit Me!

I'm visiting around today.

I was able to tell one of my favorite stories of Ashley's toddler days here.

Come see me!



Do you use a blog-reader? There are many you can choose from. I have used in the past, but it frequently seemed to have issues. Like Stickers, if you will. So I switched over to Google Reader and it has been glorious. If you don't know or use a blog reader, you can also use the Feedblitz 'follow this blog' subscription on my blog page.

I currently subscribe to 84 blogs. I say 'currently' because I just culled my list by about 15-20. I assure you that if you are here reading, I didn't cull you! I culled folks who don't know I'm alive, but have excellent things to say -- that I don't have time to read. I did cull one or two soccer moms that consistently blog in gangsta, but they don't know I'm alive, either, so I doubt their feelings are hurt. I cut out one blog from my writing list that is an agent whose posts consistently say, in so many words, "I just have to tell so many people 'no'." "There are so many good writers out there, but that one great writer is so hard to find." "You'll never make it in this business, you know." She isn't good for my psyche!

And, after much 'marking as read' things that I haven't actually read (which bugs me to no end!), I am down to 194 unread blog posts from 682 earlier today. And you wonder why I never call...

I subscribe to running blogs, writing blogs, mom blogs, preacher-dude blogs, and friends' blogs (I would love to include family in there, but my family just doesn't do such...). It's a lot. It's educational, and it can even be community. But I think I am definitely on information overload.


Math Logic

My mother was a math professor for lots-o-years. I started college as a math major. I basically get math. I do NOT believe, as many people would have you believe, that there is a math gene that you either have or don't that allows you to do math (I do believe in a spelling gene, but that is a different story...) I do, however, believe some people's brains are more logic-oriented than others, allowing math to come a little easier to some than others. The following illustrations prove that even though math may not come easily to you, that doesn't mean you are stupid. Some of these folks are just down-right clever. And I hope their teacher's have a good sense of humor. Peter's teacher does not, evidently...


Book Review: The Year of Fog


I don't have much else to say about "The Year of Fog" other than "Wow!"

From the Booklist review on

Richmond's sophomore effort (after Dream of the Blue Room, 2003) traces a
traumatic year in the life of photographer Abby Mason after she loses her
fiance's six-year-old daughter. The moment Abby stopped to photograph a dead
baby seal while walking on a fog-bound beach in San Francisco is one she will
replay in her head a thousand times. That's the last time she saw Emma, who was
racing ahead, eager to collect sand dollars. Panic and fear soon give way to
sheer exhaustion and emotional shutdown as Abby and Emma's dad, Jake, immerse themselves in the desperate search for the missing first-grader. The trauma and the guilt wreak havoc with their relationship and with their struggle to regain a sense of normalcy. Richmond gracefully explores the nature of memory and perception in key passages that never slow the suspense of the search. This is a page-turner with a philosophical bent.

I can't sum it up any better. Obviously, it's a difficult subject, but I could NOT put it down. There is suspense, deep thinking, and relationship angst. What more can you want?

And as a writer... Amazing. Maybe someday I'll learn to write like that. Very well written.
I have books all over the house. Bedside, couch, breakfast table, and of course I keep one in the car for unexpected waiting times. I am usually in the middle of a minimum of three books at a time. This one... had to become my every-place book and life had to be on hold until I finished. It totally pulled me in from the 4th page.
You won't be sorry!


"But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me." Hosea 13:4-6

Is that the most heartbreaking statement/ scripture?
And am I not guilty of the SAME exact thing -- on an almost daily basis?

May my satisfaction in this blessed life never lead me to forget my God -- or be ungrateful for all the blessings in my path.


Y'all, Stickers has Issues...

For the 8-ish months Stickers the hedgehog has lived in our home, her little cage set-up has been the same: igloo (for burrowing/ sleeping) to the left by her water, food bowl in the middle, and wheel to the right.

Ashley, being female, felt the need to 'rearrange' this week when we changed out Stickers' bedding. She didn't go too crazy, just switched the wheel and the igloo. Stickers couldn't do it. She either couldn't FIND her igloo or just couldn't bring herself to sleep there. So she ran in her wheel ALL day yesterday, taking intermittent naps NEXT to the wheel, like so:Keep in mind that hedgehogs are nocturnal and not supposed to do much of anything all day. Today, when she was still running and napping, I was afraid what sort of brouhaha would result from a sleep-deprived hedgehog and just moved her igloo and stuck it over her.
I would like to imagine that I am the only person on the planet that has a hedgehog with autistic tendencies. Bless.


Would You Like Cheese Fries or Tator Tots With That?

Had a very funny experience today that highlighted what a made-to-order society we have become. I'm creating business cards (made-to-order, of course) and took a little informal survey of a few folks about placement of a graphic on the card, since anyone breathing has a better eye for graphics than I do.

I sent out two jpegs and said, "Which do you like better, #1 or #2?"

I think I asked maybe a dozen folks, far and wide. About 50% of those surveyed (I just wanted to say that to sound official) actually responded with something that went, "I like #(whatever) for this reason..." The other 50%? Oy... they sounded like Sally on "When Harry Met Sally"!

I got:
  • I like #1, but could you move the graphic to the left?
  • I like #1, but could you move the graphic to the right?
  • That font size needs to be bigger.
  • That phrase is stupid.
  • You shouldn't have that information on there.

Totally cracked me up AND let me realize I evidently have an opinion about it. So, I went with what I liked in the first place and that was that. And, yes, I will take some tator tots with my made-to-order business cards!



Just a precious few minutes before I try to get ready for tomorrow.

So, I mentioned -- man, maybe a year ago -- that I see the day of the blog waning. Now more than ever. Maybe it's just among folks I know, but it seems blogging has gone one of two directions: folks who are really good at it and are faithful have a ginormous readership and continue to blog and even make a few bucks at it. The other 4 bajillion of us have developed an enormous network of folks we need to keep up with, so far-reaching is the internet, so we have resorted to 140-character soundbites on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe it's just me.

Today, in driving all over creation trying to get a clarinet repaired (which still isn't), Ashley and I were figuring how long we had to save up for a better clarinet before high school. 18 months!!! 18 months until my little punkin' curly-haired toddler gets thrown to the wolves in high school! That completely freaked me out and I'm still not over it.

We had a terribly busy weekend with Riley's spelling bee and Ashley's basketball tournament. No one came out all the way on top of the event, but I was reminded yet again what a joy it is to watch my children use their gifts. So very fun.

And the Super Bowl? Yes, went to a party, where we all learned again that the commercials aren't family friendly. That is so annoying. Loved seeing Bruce Springsteen who looks amazing. Kudos to his plastic surgeon.

Is anyone still thinking about any of their New Year's Resolutions? I guess I have 3 total. The main two are:
-- be in God's word EVERY day and
-- write at least 100 words EVERY day (now I've altered it to be towards 1 particular project).

I am very happy to report that I am doing very well at those two things. I guess that means I've written over 3,200 words this year! (Okay, I have to confess that I read that Stephen King doesn't call it a full work day until he's written 2,000 -- but I'm not quite there yet!) I also have to confess that I did miss one day of being in God's word, but I won't let that stop me. And I literally would have gotten out of bed to do it, but I realized at midnight after a ridiculously busy day that I slept too late to start my day with it. I'm letting that be okay and a reminder of God's grace that I could start over on January 24! And I did...!

Anyone else still have a resolution going?
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