Thursday

Introducing...

Now a story about my Ashley, originally written in December, 2005:

An angel lives at my house. Actually, I'm sure a few live here, but appear at various times.

I've talked about Ashley here -- my sweet almost-10-year-old who gets so little press here because she goes on her way, following each rule religiously.

When she was little she had a wild blob of golden curls all over her head. She did look like an angel. A little bossy on occasion, but an angel. I wish I had a picture here of the wild, curly, angel hair.

This year she started in Abilene's ALPS program. I have no idea what ALPS stands for, but it's the off-campus gifted program for 3rd-5th graders in Abilene. One day a week, the ALPS kids leave their home campus and go to an ALPS class on a different campus. Early in the school year, Ashley talked about how annoying a boy I'll call "Jeff" was. We talked about that sometimes annoying people are annoying because they need friends, and just try to be extra patient with him. Several weeks ago, the ALPS teacher told the class that Jeff's dad was real sick and he was going through a tough time at home and try to be kind. Again, we discussed that you never know what people are going through, so still be extra patient with Jeff.

Last week, the teacher (with the family's permission) told the ALPS class that Jeff had just learned that his father was going to die. Ashley told me this on the way home from school. IMMEDIATELY after she got in the car. We talked about how awful it would be to be in 4th grade and know that your Daddy was going to die. She sat quietly for not very long and asked, "Would it be all right if I gave some toffee and peanut brittle (our standard teacher Christmas gifts) to Jeff?" You betcha -- extra toffee and peanut brittle, coming up!

Monday was Riley's PTO Christmas program. I didn't make the connection until Monday morning, but the kid was SICK all day Sunday. Finally, when he woke up Monday morning, he cried that he didn't want to go to school. He didn't want to be embarassed! (We're probably going to have to re-think the whole comedian thing) Between wandering to his room laying down ultimatims for him to get out of bed and then get dressed, I told Ashley not to say ANYTHING about the program to him. She didn't say anything to me or anyone else, but very quietly set about making his breakfast, even pouring his orange juice. Bless her punkin' heart. Then, as I was scrambling to catch up on my morning, she started talking to him about how she felt when she did her program. I came back in the room and they were laughing it up about the program. She made him breakfast, then talked him out of his tree! I never would have been able to, but the sweet thing did it!

This morning was the last ALPS class before Christmas. When we were all eating breakfast together (all _4_ of us -- that NEVER happens; a Christmas miracle in itself!!) Ashley was writing a letter to Jeff to go with his toffee and peanut brittle. She never showed it to me, and it very well may have all those things that you shouldn't say to hurting people, but the heart behind it was pure gold. The first line read, "I'm so sorry your dad is sick." That's all I saw, and that is plenty. What a precious, precious heart that angel has.

If you see my Christmas angel, you'll recognize her right off: she rarely brushes her hair, she enjoys wearing mis-matched socks, and frequently is wearing her lunch on her shirt. But if you look really closely, you can see her halo.

Another Ashley story:
My Daughter is my Sister!

Wednesday

Let Me Tell You About Riley

Some bloggy re-runs to tell you about my family, starting with the children.

Meet Riley in this story:
As I mentioned in Riley's Aspirations, one of his goals in life is to be a comedian. If our family is any indication, he is well on his way. A few weeks ago I said, "Riley, you make me laugh." He got a big, self-satisfied grin on his face and replied, "Mom, that is music to my ears." If you have known me for a while you know that I generally have a "Riley story". I actually had forgotten one until someone else mentioned it this weekend:

Riley and I stayed home from church when he had a sore throat one Sunday night. Ashley was at Bible Bowl and Troy went to praise team practice. Trying to get a glimpse into his ever-growing spiritual self, I questioned him about ways he may want to be involved in a church body:

"Riley, how do you want to be involved in church when you get a little older? Would you like to be a singer, like Daddy, or. . . "

(pause as I realize maybe he doesn't want to follow in his father's musical footsteps, and trying to figure what church work is better suited to his personality).

Riley finishes up for me: "Or, I could be a sitter, like those 5,000 other people!"

What do you say to that?

Then there was the time that Riley was fixing his hair in my bathroom as we all scurried to get ready for church. On one trip into the bathroom I glanced at my watch and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!" Riley continues to do his hair while gazing into the mirror, in a very Arthur Fonzarelli manner, and replies, "I'm not 'oh my gosh!' I'm 'ooh-la-la'." Confidence is no problem. Humility, on the other hand. . .

You can hear all about Riley here, too:
Making a List

Tuesday

Blogging Hiatus

Folks, I do want to get back to deep subjects, and I do want to give you some wonderful insight from Riley about how or why the world works the way it does. But I'm going to take a little break first.

I missed last week as 'TV turn off week' but I think I'm going to take 'technology hiatus week' as this week. I'm not going to blog or facebook or Twitter. I'm going to listen for God. I think He's been trying to tell me some things and I seem to be missing it because I'm too busy updating my facebook status or something.

In the mean time, I'm going to post some re-runs here for those of you that may be relatively new to my blog. You need to meet the family, and learn what a whacky, flawed person I am.

I plan to be back for real next Monday, May 4 (can we BELIEVE May starts on Friday??? Wow.)
Hope to see you then.

Monday

No time for Blogging!

Friends, I was touched and blown away by your comments to "The Atonement Child". Such sadness and broken hearts in our world. And soon I would like to touch back on that difficult subject.

But I haven't been able to string two thoughts together.

Friday I subbed in Kindergarten. Luckily for you, I didn't take any pictures. Because those kids are darn cute, which is how they lull you into believing they aren't actually trying to take over the world. Oy. They wore me out.
Troy's dad came in town and took us to dinner Friday night, which is the perfect way to end an afternoon in kindergarten!
Saturday I woke up bright and early -- theoretically, to run, but since I had a migraine, I lay in the chair praying for my medicine to work. Then it was off to Ashley's tennis tournament.

She has worked hard and improved so much this year. She and her partner took 2nd place! Posing with the medals:Ashley and I went straight from the tennis courts to the soccer fields to watch Riley's game. You know, you feel like you are going to be having soccer for the rest of your life. So I didn't realize that Saturday was the last game. Thankfully, Troy's dad took some pictures, or I would have gone all season without taking any pictures. Okay, I DID go all season without taking any pictures, but I now HAVE some pictures thanks to Troy's dad.

As you can tell by the flag, trees, and Riley's long, flowing hair, it was a little breezy!

As soon as we left the soccer field, I hurried to a wedding shower for church. Again, I didn't take pictures, and I'm sure the beautifully-dressed, pretty-smelling people would just as soon I not have showed up (I changed clothes, but didn't have time for a shower). But I delivered the GOODS!

And, of course, what busy Saturday is complete without a trip to the grocery store? Troy grilled out for us so that we could all enjoy the last of a great outdoorsy- day!

And Sunday? Well, I was the sermon on Sunday, along with more than 1,000 other folks for "We Are the Sermon Day", a day of service to our community. Hands-down, we got the best-looking leader on our team:



So I did some of this. And, I promise, just a little tiny bit of this:But I am worn out!

Soon, much more deep thoughts and discussion! And maybe something funny, And we need a random fact from Riley (ooh -- he actually told me one yesterday -- I'll have to verify. Not that all of them are accurate anyway!)

Stay tuned! Make it a great Monday!

Sunday

Good Things Out There

Lauren is one of those young ladies I have loved to get to know. Not because I feel like I am imparting any great wisdom or knowledge on her, but because she always blesses me. She is a beautiful, godly young woman in her first year of dental school. And she had this to say last Sunday. Man, I'm glad she shared that.

Remember when we prayed for Stellan this week? Don't quit! But you have GOT to check out this post: The day of his surgery, people were encouraged to wear orange and pray for the surgery. Folks from literally around the world sent in their pictures. If this isn't community, I don't know what is!

If you would like to add your 'Good Thing' button to your blog, copy the code into an 'HTML' box on your sidebar:

Saturday

Quote for the Day

It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while He is the End of our journey, He is also at every stopping place. -- Elisabeth Elliot

Friday

Book Review: The Atonement Child

Before the review, some housekeeping:

1. About the Green Smoothies: I finally got Riley, my pickiest-of-picky children to try one (I didn't even ASK -- he was just so curious!) He liked it! Hey, Mikey! The kid wore a 'green moustache' around the house while swigging the stuff.

If you really want to try to get it in with your kids -- go much easier on the spinach and greens than the green smoothie lady. It will be red with the strawberries. Then add spinach over time.

Since I do mine in the food processor, I can't add as much water (while mixing) as she does, either. Mine is initially more of a 'sludgie' than a 'smoothie'. I mix in some water, and that's fine.

2. Remember a LONG time ago when I mentioned 'Mozy'? (I think I did -- can't find where the post is...) You have GOT to read this article about the miracle on the Hudson. Then subscribe to Mozy.

Proceeding with book review:


In short:
It's about abortion.
It's a difficult read (emotionally).
It's a valuable read.
The book cover will tell you: young, single, Christian girl gets rap*d, becomes pregnant. Fiance', doctor, Christian school, and parents all 'encourage her' to have an abortion. Keep reading.
I give this a thumbs up, not only for the writing -- many of you loved Francine Rivers' 'Redeeming Love' -- but also for wading through a subject that the church only has one thing to say regarding: EVIL!!!
Here is a little logic I thought about on the subject:
I have heard a statistic (and can currently find none like this) that 1 in 3 women of child-bearing age has had an abortion. I mentioned this to a group of ladies and one woman was aware that 'abortion statistics' GENERALLY also include women who have had miscarriages and received a D&C procedure. So let's be ultra- generous and say that, realistically, that number may be 1 in 10 women of child-bearing age has had an abortion. Okay?
Then, let's look at research by Barna who tells us that for Christians, our teen pregnancy rate, drug addiction and/ or alcoholism rate, divorce rate, suicide rate, and on and on, looks NO DIFFERENT than the world?
What might we surmise from those two statistics? I surmise that within the walls of my church building there may be as many as 50-100 women on any given Sunday who carry with them the pain, perhaps shame and/ or guilt of a past abortion.
Do I want to be the one throwing stones, screaming "baby murderer" at such a person? Oh, no, I do not.
I have never had one person, of the literally HUNDREDS of women I know personally or have had an opportunity to minister to, speak to me of personal knowledge of abortion, but I feel certain that I have encountered plenty. That tells me there is much shame and guilt, and I would love to be the voice of God's redemption for these women.
I just thought the book was great look at such a painful subject and the scars it can leave behind.
Francine Rivers also has a BEAUTIFUL post-script for women that the book may open old wounds for. If you know that because of your past you absolutely do NOT want to read the book, I would encourage you to find a copy just to read the last two pages. It is BEAUTIFUL.
In short, I would say that 'The Atonement Child' is kind of like your first Green Smoothie: may not be 'smooth' going down, but it's very good for all of us.

Thursday

Goin' Green

I guess this would have been a good post for yesterday (Earth Day), huh?

So I saw a recipe/ demonstration on a blog I can't find now about making a spinach smoothie --YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Or not. But the person that I can't find now just promised promised promised that if you throw in some Stevia (herbal sweetener) and strawberries and some other fruit, you will NEVER know that spinach is in there.

I was skeptical, but thought that I may be brave enough to try it once. I am horrible about eating enough fruits and veggies and would love to have something I like that would get them down.

Then Ruthie (who is a facebook friend) was going on and on about GreenSmoothieGirl.com. So I went and checked that site out. Lo and behold, she has a recipe for a spinach (or any other leafy green vegetable) smoothie (on the video).

Ruthie tried one, said yum, I was willing to give it a shot.

First, I'm sorry I didn't take a picture, but if you go mow your grass, then rinse off the mower blade into a bucket, that's exactly what it looked like. It was VERY green.

I had spinach -- almost a whole packet -- a whole apple (I wedged it to take the core out), a whole banana, a fistful of frozen strawberries and a handful of frozen blueberries. It was a LOT of fruit. Oh, and I did throw in a little Splenda, though I'm not sure it was necessary.

Y'all. Seriously. I thought that the best I would be able to say about it is that I choked it down. Oh, no. It was GOOD. VERY fruity tasting. Every once in a while, I thought I tasted spinach, but convinced myself it was just apple peel.

I did learn that spinach scoffs at my blender. (GreenSmoothieGirl uses a $400 blender. That doesn't exist in this house.) I had to use my food processor and that was fine.

I plan on making these a regular in my house. For me. Thus far, I haven't sold anyone else on them. That's fine -- they would just take all the spinach anyway.

So...... who's on board? Anyone willing to try a spinach smoothie?

Tuesday

Who Am I?

A week ago my hair looked like this:




and my car looked like this:



Now my hair looks like this:



and my car looks like this:




A week of changes at my house. Yes, I know you are thinking I'm gearing up for that landmark birthday, but if my very old, very mine-all-mine car could have made it another 6 months, we would still have it. But it scared me and God took care of us in getting another. And so did Troy. :-)

Obviously, none of these things define me, but I have to say that I've waved and waved at several people in the past week -- in my car and face to face -- that have seemed to look right through me. A few politely smiled back. Oh, well. Maybe I could pull off some huge prank right now -- nah, who has the energy?

So, I'm still trying to figure out who I am in the mirror and which car is mine in the parking lot (seriously, I haven't had to press the alarm YET to figure it out, but I'm afraid I will soon...!) Someone mentioned that I finally have the hair to fit my personality: sassy! :-) I do like the word 'sassy' and I think it fits me just perfectly.
That word calls to mind one silly night at Bunco. Autum and I were deciding everyone should have a nickname that was alliterative with their first name. I made her Awesome Autum and she made me Sassy Sarah. She called me Sassy for months after that.
What would your alliterative name be?
On a much more serious note, please pray for this precious punkin' having very serious surgery that I don't fully understand. Tell the Lord to hold Stellan and the doctors operating on him. God knows the rest.


Prayers for Stellan

Monday

Happy New Week!

What an amazingly gorgeous weekend God blessed us with. And I confess I spent precious little of it outside, but I got a little rest, and more importantly, I got a new car.

Old news to those of you on facebook and Twitter, but, yes, we managed to get a new-to-us car before the Expedition completely dropped dead. I can now drive carpool without my stomach being in knots wondering if I will make it back to the house.

We got a Maxima. And, it's still 3 years old (Expedition was 9) but, hey, some things have changed in vehicles since 2000! It's bluetooth capable, so I can punch a button on my steering wheel, say, "call Troy office" and voila, I'm talkin' to Troy (or, more likely, his answering machine -- I can't ever catch him in the office). The seat moves out to let me out when I park, then back in when I start the engine -- like my own personal concierge!

Yes, I am country gone big city in my car! Driving around like Gomer Pyle saying, "Goooolllleee! What will they think of next?" Just craziness. And such a blessing.

Riley, my, um, petite-ish 11 year old is thrilled that the airbag will shut itself off when a petite-ish person is sitting in the front seat. At 80 pounds, his life's longing has been to sit in the front seat for a while. We already have a fight-reducing plan for that!

Part of my weekend was birthday-celebrating my friend Denise. Some of us from Coffee Group gathered for a brunch and laughed together. Donna pointed out how wonderful it was that we all knew -- Denise doesn't do cheese, I don't do coffee and my Diet Coke was chilling for me when I got there. I hope I never take for granted that I am blessed with a group of women that know. Not just my Diet Coke affinity (if you've been at the COTR for very long, you know that) but my history, my hurts, my peeves, my soapboxes, my laughter triggers. I am amazingly blessed in that group.

I also made a blog roll. Donna, it's quite tasty. Give it a try! I'm sure I've forgotten someone. Please leave a comment and let me know if you don't see you on there!

So here we are on Monday morning. Ever since I have been home with the kids when Ashley was born, I have LOVED Mondays. When the kids were little bitty, Sundays were SO hard, and Monday was a day to re-group, clean up, and relax. Even with the jobs I've had since the kids have been in school, I still generally love Mondays. It's a fairly unscheduled day, and it's kind of like every week's New Year's Day -- you get to start it all over, get a fresh start, try to get it right this time. Ever hopeful, I guess.

I think I'm looking forward to a little big easier schedule than I had last week. But I always am just a little lonely without my family that I enjoyed over the weekend -- it's never quite enough for me.

In July I will be joining my daughter and 19 other 7th and 8th graders on a mission trip to South Texas. Those of us going -- parents and youth alike -- are required to attend training time and part of that is scripture memory. So I am memorizing Ephesians 2:10 right now:

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God has prepared some good work for you to do today! You are His workmanship! May you find His strength and might to do the good works He has prepared for you.

Sunday

Good Things Out There

Do y'all know Etsy? Oh, you should. Etsy, meet COTR'ers. Rockers, meet Etsy. Etsy is a fab online store -- an amazon.com specifically for handmade items. But not just ANY ol' handmade items. I am LOVING the new scrabble-tile pendants that folks are wearing. Now they are made of just about anything. LOVE this one:

That is the artist's own artwork, miniaturized, and made into a glass tile. How awesome is that?
I REALLY like this one, too!

I would like to feature an Etsy store each week (but no griping if I forget). There are just SO many talented people showcasing their work on Etsy, I would love for you to see it as well. This week, I want to feature Beth Nadler, the artist for the tile above. She has some VERY fun and busy (busy in a fun way) prints of her work in her Etsy shop, also. Check her out!

I think this is the most fun video ever. It is produced by Playing For Change which is "a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music." I'd say they have a good start with this:




Stand By Me from David Johnson on Vimeo.
And I totally put it on my blog on Tuesday, before all of you saw it on facebook, Phil's blog, or got it in email!

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Saturday

Thought for the Day

This really made me stop and think:

"Every reference in scripture to spiritual warfare is in the context of victory!"
Dr. Jerry Rankin

Sing it with me:
"Tell me whose side are ya livin' on? I'm livin' on the Lord's side!"

That means WE WIN! We win it ALL.

He's already won it for us!

Just a little preachin' to start your weekend...

Friday

Survey/ Poll

You folks are always a wealth of good information. So help me out, 'kay?

I REALLY (like 4 years ago) need to have a 'blog roll'. A list of blogs I visit/ like/ etc.

I have never made one because I'm a wimp. I know that I would invariably leave someone off that felt like they should be on there, yada, yada. So I decided not to decide.

So my question is this: what do you WANT from a blog roll?

Do you even pay attention to other people's?

Do you trust me to cull it down to high quality editorials, or do you just want to see who my blog-peeps are?

Readers of The Cleft of the Rock: your thoughts on blog rolls?

Thursday

Girl Talk!

Warning to my gentleman readers: You are always totally welcome, and no discussion here SHOULD get too lady-graphic, but today's blog post will be a little 'chick-intensive'. Join us if you like, tell us the 'dude's point-o-view' but don't complain!

So let's talk hair.

You guys have been very sweet about my new look, and more than one person has mentioned that it makes me look younger. Which is hilarious, because one of the things I had to get past to get my hair cut is thinking that short hair is just what you do when you get middle aged, give up on your appearance, and are too tired to mess with your hair.

Updated: Jana brings up a good point -- not everyone will have seen yesterday's post. Here's a pic of the 'do:
Part of it stems from my early teaching days. I remember sitting in teacher's meetings with my long, flowing locks and realizing that you could almost tell which side of 40 someone landed on by how long her hair was. So, short hair became a declaration of "I am too old to grow long hair!" which I still am not quite ready to admit!

Also, (warning: major psycho confession ahead) anytime I saw someone my age-ish with short hair that DID look good on her, I would think, "Oh, well, sure SHE can wear short hair, she's a size 2!" (or tall, or has small feet, or any one of a million things I'm not). I don't know -- I just never thought I could pull it off.

A year or two ago, my long hair was requiring more and more work to look good. My hair has always been RIDICULOUSLY thick (which is also why many short cuts did NOT look good on me) but in the past few years it seemed to not be quite so thick. Then I read somewhere that the quantity of your hair (for women) doesn't NECESSARILY thin as you get older, but the follicle itself isn't quite as 'plump' as when you were younger. Believe me, if I had known that my hair was fat when I was younger, I would have just shaved it off! :-) So your hair is literally 'thinner' -- EACH hair is thinner! Crazy, isn't it?

I really do think that my thinning hair and my rockin' stylist, Caroline, have made this the best short cut I've ever had. So, all in all, yes, I'm pleased with it. But, I haven't even touched all of the "issues" that not having long hair bring up for me. I don't need therapy (yet) but it's just stuff I've thought of. I think a lot -- but I don't change my hair a lot!

For the record, by the way, MANY people have asked: yes, Troy is totally okay with my short hair and really likes it. I think we both grew kind of weary of my long hair about the same time.

Amanda said she had her own theory/ thoughts about short hair/ long hair. Do you?

Okay, while we are being all girly, if you don't have a 'y' chromosome, GO WATCH THIS video clip. I caught it on the Rachael Ray show yesterday afternoon about the "universal fashion code". I am a BIG believer that many of us could dress better for our body types -- and this shows you how! Seriously! It's worth your time. It made me think (again) that I really need to take the time and money to have most of the things in my closet altered.

Like Ruth Levy mentioned on the show, if you could pay $8 (to have a shirt altered) for a shirt that would make you look 20 pounds thinner and you would wear often, wouldn't you? Um, yeah. And remember this -- you want your upper body to be a wine glass, not a beer can. It's true...

So men, you may need to go burp and scratch to recover from this blog. Girls -- have anything else girly we need to talk about?

Wednesday

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I really meant to take a before picture, but it would have meant me breaking my long-standing policy of not having a picture of myself on the internet that includes one of my arms fully extended in front of me taking my own picture. SO. At 1 p.m. yesterday my hair looked basically like this:
Okay, there was a little bit of a post-workout ponytail bump, and the wind wasn't quite blowing it ever-so-gently, but I said 'basically'.
So at 2 p.m. yesterday, my hair looked like this:

(I am resisting the urge to fix everything about this picture -- believe it or not, my hair is the same color in both pictures...).
Yes, I went short. I cut it fairly short a few years ago, but it's been long for a LONG time. Thinking about this makes me realize I still haven't told the story of my friend Denise coming to my house when Troy was out of town and I had lice -- and combing out my very long, very thick hair for lice. I think celebrating my short hair will be the time to tell THAT story of friendship -- not just anyone would do such. That may be tomorrow's blog. I know your are giddy with anticipation.
When I mentioned that I was getting my hair cut short, one person asked me if I was going to get a 'mommy-'do'. Um, no. Here's the deal: most women want to BE moms, and I am eternally grateful I was given that gift. Precious few of them want to LOOK LIKE one, and I am included in that group. Sorry, it's just the reality. (You can send hate email to: u-no-u-r-1-2@mommydo.com) I did not get a 'mommy-do'. I got a "I'm too s*xy for my hair" 'do!!

Like most things in life, cutting my hair has made me think about lots of things. That's for later too. Today was just show-and-tell for two reasons: 1) I hate when my hair is noticeably different and people feel obligated to say how fabulous it looks. See it here, say nothing later. We're both happy. 2) Now you will know who Troy is sitting next to in church from across the way.
And, when I walked Riley home from school, we realized that now HE, my 11-year-old son, wins the prize for longest hair in the family. We don't even have a long-haired DOG!

To all of you that thought this was going to be something great -- sorry, this is as big as it gets at my house!

Tuesday

Chicken or the Egg, Cart or Horse?

I've written about this verse before, so I've obviously read it before! I just love how God uses scripture again and again to teach, enlighten, and sharpen me.

So yesterday I was reading through my Face to Face book (a praying-God's-word book of awesomeness) and it came to a prayer regarding Philippians 2:14 and 15:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

I get that God wants us to do everything without complaining or arguing, so that we shine like stars in the universe. But I hadn't (until yesterday) caught on that we are supposed to do everything without arguing or complaining so that we may become blameless and pure.

Well, wait a minute...! I have been putting that verse on my 'to do when I am blameless and pure' burner. You know, with fasting and loving my enemy and stuff. We can't really be expected to do that stuff while we're still figuring it all out, can we? I'm supposed to believe that not complaining or arguing can have me become blameless and pure?

Well, if this is to be believed, it sure can. That, friends, is what Paul Faulkner used to call "Fake it 'till you make it." It may even seem to be 'inauthentic', which would lead some folks to say, "Well, I have to be honest about how I feel." Well, maybe you don't. Perhaps your momma was actually being scriptural when she told you, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

I believe that is the fruit called 'self control'.

I've got some work to do about keeping my mouth shut. Maybe, just maybe, I will eventually become blameless and pure!

Monday

I've Become the "Other Woman"...

I have frequently requested a weather forecast for my church. Not for the town the church is in-- for the auditorium. I have suggested a running scroll on the website: "Current temp in the auditorium is 58* and breezy. Dress accordingly." or "High of 84* in the auditorium today." I have yet to be heeded.

Yesterday it was 58* and breezy. On Easter Sunday. The children were precious in their Easter finery and blue lips. Ashley and I were in spring-ish type clothes, but not sleeveless. We were quite cool. I didn't mind the cool too much while I interpreted the first part of the service, but once I sat down I got quite cool quickly.

I was sitting next to Troy, Ashley was on the other side of him. He finally put his arm around her trying to warm her up a little. I sure would have liked that warm arm around me, but I made do tucking as much of myself under the other arm at his side trying to warm up. Eventually, he leaned forward to remove his jacket.

"Good plan," I thought... "Leave your arm around Ashley, and give me the jacket -- or vice-versa, whatever. I'm good." Oh, no. He handed Ashley the jacket so he could have both of his arms back.

Let me be honest -- I sat there shivering. And beaming. It pleased me to sit by while Troy took care of his girl the way she needs to be taken care of. I want my daughter to know her daddy is crazy about her. As she seeks out a husband, I want her to know how she should be treated and know what it's like to be the apple of a man's eye.

It isn't impossible to understand the love of God -- well, as much as we can understand it on this planet -- without having a loving parent. But I do believe that me having loving parents helped me start to get an idea about the unconditional love of God -- and I want Ashley to know that as crazy as we both are about her, it's just a tiny drop compared to the abundant, never-ending, perfect love of her heavenly Father.

I spend plenty of time shivering for her while watching tennis, I don't mind a little more shivering while her daddy takes care of her. It's why I picked him.

Sunday

Good Things Out There

Pray-shus.

Trey rocks out loud. I haven't met his wife, Lea, (yet) but she appears to also rock out loud. Awesome.

And Susan? Susan rocks out loud on stage. This post really spoke to me about a way that our Lord was so human the week of Easter. What an awesome message.


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Saturday

Quote for the Day

"There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." -- Betsy Ten Boom

Friday

Good Friday

Why do we call it good? Oh, when I think about the events of that horrific Friday that Jesus was crucified, I can't imagine calling it 'good'. But Sunday? Man! What a wonderful day. Well, it's everything I base my faith on -- a risen Savior.

I said yesterday that I've been in a bit of a 'dry spell' spiritually. A dry spell of my own making, I might add. God is faithful and God is still my Savior and Lord -- I'm just wandering a little and He's letting me. I seek Him out when I wander, so I end up right where I should be, I suppose.

Part of my dry spell has to do with my erratic schedule. I talked about that recently, as well. But part of my busy schedule has been writing for the newspaper, which is fine. I have actually come to enjoy that WAY more than I expected to -- I HATE to talk on the phone and, well, I have an erratic schedule! But I have so enjoyed hearing what others are passionate about and wouldn't God have it that I have gotten several assignments about the Lent and Easter season.

A few weeks ago, I was assigned this article about Lent. It was such a blessing to me to talk to people whose minds were focused on the time of sacrifice and centering on God.

Last week I turned in this article about an AMAZING production locally (that is also this weekend if you would like to see it). Not only did talking to each of the folks that I interviewed bless me immensely, but I ended up taking my family to the production last weekend. It was heartbreaking and humbling and victorious and wonderful. And the people I interviewed? Every last one reminded me -- "the script changes, but the story is the same -- it's the gospel that we want the community of Abilene to hear". How precious...

I did an article (that I can't find online) about a family at my church and it just blessed me to hear of the generations of traditions and family memories this family has.

My final Easter season article is this one. It doesn't go exactly like I think my editor thought that it would. But, oh, how wonderful to talk to ministers across the town and hear that each of them are burdened with getting the message of the risen Savior to as many people as possible.

Besides blessing me with each of those articles, God also blessed me with a lighter writing schedule for a few days, so now I have a moment to take it in. Now I'm thinking back on how God gave me many opportunities to speak of my faith with people across many faiths and be reminded why I believe what I do. God put people in my path to remind me of His love for me, and why I'm crazy about Him in return.

Yes, the miracle of the cross is huge -- everything, perhaps -- in my faith. But to know that God used some 'mundane writing assignments' to bring that miracle back to the forefront of my brain is more than I can bear right now.

Oh, I am abundantly blessed.

Celebrate our risen Lord!

Thursday

More Sitemeter Info

More fascinating (or not) Sitemeter info: I have also found that one of the most popular searches that brings people to my blog is the phrase "It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming". That is a well-known speech that Tony Campolo made (and has made several times) regarding the week of Easter.

I wrote a post with that title 3 years ago -- when my little punkin' friend, Levi, was born on Holy Thursday. (and now the crying commences)

I'm somewhat feeling that way again -- a little lost and aimless in this fallen world. It's amazing to me that, though it varies every year, Easter seems to come just when I need it the most.

(and in the middle of writing this, I get the evil eye roll from one because I threw away a review sheet of a test that has already taken place -- and the sheet was to be turned in for a grade. *sigh* Whatever)

More tomorrow on how God has used some of the annoyances of the past few weeks to bless my socks off. Because tomorrow is Friday, but Sunday's coming.

I can't wait...

Wednesday

Some 'Housekeeping' Business

First, please pray for Trinity. Her parents put her to bed after fighting a cold Saturday night and couldn't wake her late Sunday morning. Her acid levels are high as if she drank antifreeze -- but they don't think she ingested anything weird. Just don't know. Pray and pray some more.

Some of you have asked how I know who comes to my blog. I don't know specifically, but I can make some educated guesses. If I REALLY wanted to know, I could pay for a service that would tell me which COMPUTER visited my blog. Freaky, right? I use a service called sitemeter. It's very interesting for tracking traffic trends for my blog. WHICH can become a total obsession if you let it! Sitemeter can tell me the city of the SERVER that your computer uses (my server is in a little town outside of Abilene, I've learned!), it tells me what time you clicked onto my blog and how many 'pages' you visited while you were here (when you go to the comments, it counts as a separate page). The most interesting thing, though, is the referrals. It tells me if someone clicked on a link anywhere on the internet that brought them to my blog.

That is how I found out that Janie, and Dr. Butner, and Carrie (who was my BFF in 4th grade and recently happened across on facebook -- how weird is THAT. Oh, and she has the cutest blog!) all have links to me in their sidebar/ blogroll for which I am grateful! (Y'all -- I know I need a blogroll. Someday I'll get to that!) There are a few others that I can't think of off the top of my head, but I didn't know those folks knew I EXISTED until I saw that they had linked to me. That's really cool.

That's also where I can find out that people landed on my blog by googling for 'hammy downs' (oh, yes, they did....) or their local cult or my name. I have a friend that doesn't ever remember how to get to my blog -- I suspect she's my Abilene person who googles my name and blog. Very funny.

There are other options to use for this information, and if you have a Wordpress blog it tells you some of it automatically (Wordpress users, what info do you get from your traffic reports?)

In the post about "borrowing"/ stealing another's words or information, Warren brought up an interesting point about video -- or, more specifically, posting a video on your own blog that you saw on another. First, Warren, I agree with the first part of your statement -- what's so hard about just linking and saying: "I really liked this." The person who posted my stuff said s/he wanted a family member to know how they felt and my words summed it up best. Which is very flattering! But, still... a little credit, folks!

But video? What do you all think? I confess that I saw that video on... someone's blog and now I don't remember which one? I think it was Dr. Butner's? But since I was ABLE to embed it -- post it in my blog from the youtube server -- I consider it 'public domain'. Would it have been NICE of me to mention where I got it so that you, too, may go see all the clever and funny things that person posts? Absolutely! Was it stealing for me to NOT give credit? I don't THINK so, but this is certainly a gray area that I am happy to receive a little guidance in!

While I'm being a walking (typing) Public Service Announcement, let me tell you about a tool I recently started using. A recent Reader's Digest article talked about preventing (or being aware of) cyber-bullying, where someone (not always kids we've learned!) trash talks you or your child be it true or not. They mentioned that one way to be aware of what is 'out there' about either is to sign up for Google Alerts. Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms. So, if you set up a Google Alert for your child, you will receive an email when someone posts something to the internet with their name on it. I signed up for all of my family -- all I came across unawares was a comment Ashley had made to her youth group's blog. Whew! But I'm thankful to have one more tool on my side to know what is out there. More info about Google Alerts here (seems it would also be useful for research, etc.)

I'm out of useful information! Anyone else want to share? :-)

Tuesday

Some Tuesday Fun

Y'all I am OUT. I have nothing fun, or thought-provoking, or enlightening today. I am simply drowning in deadline this and scurry here and get this done. How 'bout you?

It doesn't encourage me much to know that by looking back at previous years' blogs, every April is the same. What's odd is that my children have changed sports, but April still seems exactly the same.

Since everyone has a different laundry need of what MUST be washed be cleaned, we've done 12 loads of laundry (okay, maybe 3, it just feels like 12). Oh, they all NEED stuff clean, they just don't need anything folded/ hung. That's my job. Laundry RARELY is anywhere but the hamper or laundry room at this house and it is currently strewn all over my living room. It's clean and now folded and on hangers and waiting for some laundry fairy (that better not be me, too) to put them where they belong.

Can anyone relate?

So, I have no great thoughts, but I have a fairly amazing video. It's fairly long -- 5-7 minutes. Watch the first 60 seconds, then you can skip about 3 minutes. It just gets more and more amazing. Can you imagine the amount of time it takes to practice for something like this? I bet these girls' moms have laundry all over their house, too.

This was taken at the Naval Academy -- the military guys go wild over this!

Monday

Hmmmm...

Last week my sitemeter told me something else interesting. One of the pages that referred someone to my blog was a blog I'm not familiar with. This happens occasionally -- I might go visit and find out that I am linked on a blog roll or in a post. I try to make a comment, because I am honored for folks to think enough of me to send their readers my way.

So it was that last week I went to this previously-unknown blog and found where I had been linked. I was linked because the blogger was confessing (last May) to have stolen one of my posts and posting it as his (her? I'm not sure) own. Hmmmm.

The REALLY interesting thing about it is that blogger was confessing and asked forgiveness of the people who s/he had deceived, but I am still waiting...

This isn't the first time I am aware that something like this has happened, but I still don't know what, if anything, to do about it.

I somewhat tongue-in-cheek say I am waiting to be asked to forgive. A) If I haven't now, 10 months later, I never will. B) I have forgiven, but would prefer for this not to happen again!

As a writer, my words are my business. They are the only product I have to offer.

It helps to know that the ones that are worth stealing come from the Lord and He may do with them what He will. May I respond the way He would have me respond.

This will happen again as I post my words, my 'business', on the world wide web. Photographers can watermark their photos -- I can't watermark my thoughts and words.

May the words He's given me stretch far and wide to do His will, no matter how it gets out there.

Sunday

Good Things Out There

I attend a Church of Christ. I was raised in a Church of Christ. It is a dear and precious family to me -- that I am occasionally hesitant to confess that I am a part of. We have some ugly baggage dragging around and not great PR on occasion. Trey posted something that truly blessed my soul. The church where I currently worship is also trying to define ourselves in the positive as opposed to what we DON'T do or DON'T believe.

The 'alternative lifestyle' folks have done a MUCH better PR job than the mentally handicapped PR folks. It has fallen WAY out of fashion to say, "That's gay" about something and/or "You're a f*g" (can't type it!) As well it SHOULD have. However, I am APPALLED at the number of kids AT MY CHURCH that tell each other how 'retarded' they are, and call each other 'retards'. I am VERY thankful to see a campaign to end such derogatory language and would invite you to join in. More info here.

And if you wonder what the big deal is -- read this story about an autistic child led his parents to come to know Christ. Wow.

Now, to lighten things up.

This explains A LOT!



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Saturday

Language Lesson

'Across' is a word.

'Crossed' is a word.

'Acrossed' or 'acrosst' are not words (since it isn't actually a word, I don't know how to spell it).

That is all.

Friday

Help a Gal Out!

First, I have to say it: THE WIND!!! Enough! Although the wind did cancel soccer practice last night and then was kind enough to die down enough that all four of us could go on a little after- dinner walk. Awesome and MUCH needed in this break-neck week!

Remember my whole 'Reading to Write' plan? As life has sped up, reading has slowed down. Or, you know, stopped. My library stash no longer looks appealing, just daunting.

I need some help!

Lay 'em on me -- I need books that I need to read. HOWEVER -- my life is not currently in the place where a hard-to-follow book or one that requires much deep thinking or connectivity will survive. A short book is great. A funny book would be awesome. A touching book fabulous. A thinking book? Pass. My brain, it is used up.

Oh, truly, if it's a book your 5th grader is reading, I will probably love it. I have almost decided that is my genre.

What is a good book I need to read now?

Oh, and P.S. One other thing sitemeter tells me -- you people don't care for book reviews. It's okay. We'll do 'LOST' sometime!

Thursday

How Nerdy Are You?

I am nerdier than 12% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I think this means I'm only smarter than 12% of the people, as well. Tough quiz, I confess! It also says my "non-nerdy" score is not a guarantee of any level of coolness, either. Fine.

Wednesday

Credit Where Credit Is Due

First, I must pay homage, or give thanks, or SOMETHING.

Today's the day. No, I mean it is THE! DAY!

Troy has been working on THIS DAY for months. I don't know who will be the most glad when today is over. Besides some extra time of his wheels turning toward work at all hours of the day and night, this has been an UNBELIEVABLY busy week for the kids and me and juggling it without him hasn't been fun. So, Troy, who hasn't seen my blog in months, may it go ever-so-smoothly and, if nothing else, may it end. Please, Lord, let it end. Amen.

Which is why I've been thinking about the phrase, "If the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you busy." That's a quaint little saying with much truth to the end results of busy-ness. Being busy leads to not 'feeding' yourself spiritually with time in the Word and talking to the Lord which leads to a chink in your spiritual armor which leads to thinking you have your life all under control which leads to you falling smack on your face. I'm speaking from experience, people. Trust me on this.

The deal is, we're foisting the blame off on Satan when, unless you made some awful deal with him trying to get off the PTA board, he doesn't control your schedule and life. The only way 'the devil makes you busy' is if you allow it. Please hear me preaching at myself (while I answer an email about carpool AND the PTA board that I am on... hmmmm..).

So, I'm confessing and claiming responsibility. I have allowed my calendar to choke out my Savior. Yes, I write it that way and am horribly red-faced and repentant. But am I TRULY repentant and changing things so that my life looks different and my Savior is my Lord? Please hold me accountable.

Something I noticed while memorizing my 'Do Not Fear' verses -- almost ALL of them say (remind) "I am the Lord your God..." Not only does God remind us who HE is, He reminds us who He is TO US. Lord of our lives. Director of our days. Only when we STOP long enough to remind ourselves who He is can we truly live without fear. See how all of this works beautifully when we let it?

So in this busy season I will start by stopping. I will stop and claim Jesus as Lord over my life, but more importantly, over THIS DAY. This Day ordained for me. May your day be full of blessings!
 
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