Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Resolution #2

When Kirby was first born, I tried very diligently to continue to keep up with everything around the house. I had maintained a pretty good routine when it was just me and London and I had hoped to be able to keep it up.

Not so. Did you know newborn babies in the home can create a very chaotic atmosphere and result, also, in one exhausted mommy? No, really, it's true!

So the routine went out the window and subsequent chaos ensued. January 4th will mark one year since the troublemaker precious boy entered my life. However, there is still no sign of any workable routine. My days are pretty much willy-nilly, wishy-washy, hokey-pokey and la de da.

It's a miracle that I get anything done at all. Or it takes the complete act of ignoring my kids, which never ever happens. Ever.

Hardly ever.

Well, on occasion.

Sometimes.

Every other day.

Okay, right now.

So, that leads me to New Year's Resolution #2:
Thou shalt get your act together!

A new workable, flexible, reasonable, none-to-strict, doable routine is in order. Yes, yes! There will be time & days for laundry, time & days for errand running, time & days for grocery shopping (preferably sans kids), time & days for bible study, cleaning, pedicures, scrapbooking, emails, blogging, friends, dates with hubby and...dare I say...I may even pencil in sex here and there.

I said "pencil in", Sweetie, pull your pants up! Geesh!

Yes, it will all be perfect! It will operate smoothly. This household will run like a well-oiled machine. We will be an efficient, time-saving, organized and productive family! Others will come to me and say, "How do you do it?" and I will smile unabashedly and reply, "I have a routine!" Yes, I can see it now!

Now if I could only eek out a couple minutes to actually sit down and come up with this routine!

But, seriously, who has time for that?

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year's Resolution #1

When I was in high school, we had to watch "Sybil" starring Sally Field in health class. You remember that one, don't you? The woman with, if I recall, 17 different personalities. One scene I've always remembered is Sybil frantically repeating, "thepeoplethepeoplethepeoplethepeople" over and over again.

Picture me now, if you will, pacing around my house, hitting myself on the head with the palm of my hand and frantically repeating, "thecluttertheclutterthecluttertheclutter".

That is my day.

Okay, it's not that bad but there are days when it surely feels like it. Hence, New Year's Resolution #1:

Thou shalt not bringeth any new items into thine household for a period no shorter than six months.

Basically, I'm going to cut out the nonsensical, frivolous, unnecessary shopping. *eek!*

My friend, Debbie, just spit her water out all over her computer screen. No, really, Deb. I'm going to do it! I might be over at your house from time to time rummaging through your store bags as you come home from the mall and live vicariously through you for awhile, but that's okay. You don't mind, do you?

I'm not going to bring anything new or unnecessary into this house for the first six months of the year. The only exception to that rule will be new shoes for the kids as they tend to outgrow them at an alarming rate of speed. They may be getting A LOT of new shoes come summer time. Heck, YOUR kids may be getting new shoes if I don't handle this self-imposed restriction very well.

In addition to not adding to the fire hazard mess around my house, I will be getting rid of quite a bit of it. I already have the Goodwill and garage sale piles started. Anyone in need of a children's table & chairs set adorned with half-torn off Hello Kitty stickers and pieces of dried Play-doh stuck to it? Or an old Pampered Chef baking stone that has burned on food stuck to it is well seasoned? How about a never-been-used manual breast pump? Okay, it's not exactly "never-been-used". I attempted to use it once before throwing it across the room in a tear-filled, postpartum, exasperated fit before stuffing it back into the box. But, seriously, good as new!

Also up for grabs:
- half a bag of don't-need-that-size-anymore diapers
- Some Yes-they-still-fit-Punkin-but-they-show-your-belly-so-we're-getting-rid-of-them little girls shirts. Size 3T.
- two pairs of what-was-I-thinking 3" heels.
- Eleven different diet books, all coincidentally subtitled, "The Last Diet You'll Ever Need".
- various balls of yarn, several crochet hooks in a variety of sizes and a beginner's guide to Simple Crochet. You must provide your own cuss words.
- Three large boxes of scrapbooking supplies, that even though I'm sure I'll use "someday", I'm willing to part with it all for the right price.
- And, one book titled, "Organizing from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern. (you see the humor in that last one, right?)

Lots of good stuff here, people! First come, first serve!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Memories ala Barbie.

Five years old: This Christmas, I remember getting my first Barbie-sized dollhouse. It was made of wood, painted white with green trim. If memory serves me correctly, it even had a single car garage attached. There are pictures of me, somewhere, standing next to this dollhouse on Christmas morning. I wish I could show it to you because...well...I'm pretty darn cute in the picture. I'll dig it out this time next year when I do this exact same Christmas post.

Six years old: Don't ask me why, but I got another Barbie dollhouse. This was a Tuesday Taylor Penthouse Apartment:

Very chic. I'm mean, seriously, check out that white, shag carpeting. You just can't get good carpet like that anymore.
It was plastic and it's 872 pieces had to be assembled. I remember watching Dad painstakingly put it together. My feelings while watching him grow increasingly frustrated with the dollhouse were a mix of guilt, because he was getting agitated doing something for me and impatience, because, come on, I want to PLAY!

Six years old again: I remember putting two and two together this year. How could Santa have brought me the dollhouse when my older siblings (who taught me the fine art of pre-Christmas snooping) had shown me the dollhouse under my parents' bed weeks before? It was all starting to come together. Whatever. No tears here. I've learned the fine art of pre-Christmas snooping!

Seven years old: I was, by far, the luckiest little girl on the face of the earth. That was the year I received this:
Yes, that's right. A Barbie Friendship Plane! How cool is that? It even came with a stewardess cart, plates and cups. If you look closely, you can see that the Captain is added to the drawn in details of the interior. So there was no chance any independent, forward-thinking little feminist was going to put Barbie in the pilot seat. The year was 1976 and Barbie had yet to burn her bra.

Bra burning aside, 1976 was a very good year for me. In addition to the Friendship Plane I received from Mom & Dad, my grandparents earned major points that year when they gave me:

If it wasn't enough that I got to watch the Donny & Marie Show every Friday night, now I had the dolls to re-enact the show with the next day. I distinctly remember being told NOT to cut Marie's hair. I also distinctly remember cutting it right after Marie cut hers in real life. Also, I just love the jumpsuit Donny has on. Definitely a little bit rock-n-roll, wouldn't you say? And the purple socks! Who could forget the purple socks?!

I don't recall getting anymore Barbies or Barbie related stuff after that. Dad had decided I had out-grown it all and, one day when I was about ten, he gathered it all up and sold it in a garage sale while I was at school. Thanks for asking, Dad.

It wasn't until after my parents divorced that my mom bought me another wood dollhouse very similiar to the one I received when I was five. I was now eleven and, outwardly, embarrassed by such a "little girl" present but, inside, I was elated. I was not allowed to naturally out-grow the Barbie stage and a little bit of it still lingered inside me. I played with that dollhouse everytime I visited my mom - even into my teens, after we moved to Arizona and I spent the summers with her.

It lingers on, to be honest, and I long for the day when London's Barbie playing extends past just changing her clothes and finding shoes to match. But however she wants to play is okay by me. As long as we are making memories that last.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Absolute Best Fudge Ev-ah!!

I wanted to share with you one of my Christmas traditions (I think I have a total of 3). This is my fudge recipe. I didn't create this recipe, I just found it before you did so I get to take credit for it! I've been making this fudge every year for the last 10-12 years. I hope you enjoy it!

German Chocolate Fudge

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 (4 oz) bar Baker's German chocolate (green box) broken into pieces
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
2 cups sugar
1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk
1 T butter
dash of salt
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts of choice

In large bowl, combine chocolate chips, German chocolate pieces and marshmallow creme. Set aside.

In heavy 3 qt saucepan, combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter & salt. Over medium heat, heat to boiling, stiffing often. Once a soft boil is reached, continue stirring constantly for exactly 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate mixture in bowl. Stir vigorously until chocolate is melted and well mixed. Quickly stir in coconut and nuts. Turn into buttered 8 inch square pan, spread evenly. Refrigerate until set.

A couple of things I want to mention:

1. The sugar/butter mixture is EXTREMELY hot, not to mention, sticky. Bad combo! This is not something you want the kiddos helping with. I've been burned with this stuff before and let me tell you - OWIE!!! As a matter of fact, I order all little ones out of the kitchen while I'm making this, just to be safe.

2. Once you pour the sugar/butter mixture over the chocolate mixture, it quickly becomes difficult to stir. It helps to have a big, strong, handsome man on hand to do the mixing for you, like I do.

3. I don't butter my pan. I line it with aluminum foil instead. Once the fudge is set, you can just lift the whole thing right out of the pan with the foil . This makes it so nice to cut into little squares.

4. Do NOT attempt to eat fudge without a tall glass of milk right beside you. You have been warned!

5. ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Road Rage

Well, yesterday things got a bit ugly. Okay, not things. I got a bit ugly. I was on my way to the ped's office with my sick kids. I get on the freeway, and as I like to do, I scooted on over to the left lane where I belong (I have a tad bit heavy, malleable poor metal in my right foot). That's when this jerk...ahem...gentleman in the right lane swerves across two lanes, plops himself directly in front of me and proceeds to drop in speed by about 20 mph.

Ugh. Okay, dude, whatever. That's not enough to rile me up. I'll just "happily" go around you. So I swing over to the middle lane and begin to pass Mr. Traffic Control when he then speeds up considerably and blocks me in between him and the car in front of me that I've now caught up to. Okaaaaay, NOW I'm riled!

I seriously do not get people like this. Who are you and what did I ever do to you? People who feel it's either their job or their right to randomly pick out others on the road just to mess with really set my rage meter over the top! I'm just trying to get my kid's to their appointment. Is that a problem?

I'm pissed! My blood is boiling and any drop of patience I had left in me have I spit out. Right then, the car pool lane opens up and I swing around to the left full force and hit my accelerator. Dude doesn't even try this time (ahh, wising up are we?) and that's when I did it. Something I have not done in YEARS! I don't know where it came from but before I knew it, there it was...

the Bird.

Yeppers. I flipped him the bird. And, ya know what? He didn't even look over at me! Now THAT'S infuriating! What good is flipping the bird if the recipient doesn't even see it! That's a wasted bird! Again, this is not something I do with any amount of regularity so to have one wasted is not something I appreciate! I would've saved it for someone who would at least have the decency to look my way!

At this point, I am several car lengths ahead when I realize that God has decided to call shotgun. Okay, He's been there all along since He never really goes away. It's just that NOW I'm aware of His presence. So, naturally, I want to put on my fig leaf and go hide in a bush somewhere.

Ahem .

"I know. I know" I say. "I shouldn't have done that."

Let go of that anger.

"NO! I WANT to be angry. I have the right to be angry. Didn't you see what he did? Kirby is crying in the back. London is driving me crazy with her non-stop talking. I couldn't help it!"

Excuses. Excuses .

"I'm driving along, minding my own business. Why do these people feel they have the right to treat others this way?"

Life is not always fair.

Rarely does one win an argument with God, so I give up. I didn't say I gave in. I just stopped talking. God didn't get out of the car though. Seems to me, He can handle the silent treatment just fine.

My exit was just a couple miles down the road and by the time I pulled off the freeway, my heartrate was back to normal and, without my actively trying to rid myself of it, the anger was gone. I think that, maybe, God wasn't so much concerned about what I did to that other driver as He was concerned about what I was doing to myself. He didn't speak to me about my actions, He spoke to me about my anger.

This seems to be an ongoing conversation between Him and I. Anger is a huge issue for me. It comes out of nowhere but comes in full force. And, it seems, that the smaller that "last straw" is the more likely it is to break this camel's back. God has been working on me though and I can say, in all honesty, He's making some headway .

I'm not where I want to be but I'm not where I used to be, either. Praise God.

And, as for the bird, well...I'll be keeping that little guy caged from now on.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oops! Maybe I need to work on that.

Just moments ago, Kirby was clinging to my legs, furiously crying because, in his opinion, I was taking too long making up his bottle when London comes along and says,

"What the hell, Kirby?"

Umm...yeah...I think I need a new signature phrase. Suggestions welcome.

Friday, December 14, 2007

In Loving Tribute.

Yesterday was a sad day for us here. My beloved Samantha had been showing definite signs of kidney failure and the time had come to show her just how much we loved her. I took her into the vet's where he gently sent her into peaceful sleep. She was 14 yrs old. She was my baby before I had babies. My original Princess. My original co-sleeper. My original Punkin-pie.

She was one of the most well-behaved and loving cats I have ever had. And, though she wasn't the youngest of the bunch, she was, by all means, the "baby". She loved jumping for toys, snuggling with her "boyfriend" Willie, belly rubs, watching the birdies out the window and licking yogurt off your nose.

And even though I know what I did was a compassionate and unselfish move, I still can't feel good about it. It's hard to believe she's no longer here. I told her before she went to go on ahead and keep a spot warm for me. Three of her siblings went on before her, so I know she'll have good company.

When Daddy came home from work, London told him that Chubby (her nickname) wasn't feeling well so she went to Jesus and He's going to take care of her. How sweet is that?

Sammy taught me a lot during our 14 yrs together. Here's just a sampling:



Always look for the good spots in life.
Quench your thirst.

Find your spot in the sun.
Reaching for your goals takes effort.
Enjoy the party.
Lean on friends.
Life doesn't always fit. Make it work for you.
Enjoy the ride.
And, most importantly, take time for rest.
Good-bye, my sweet Sammy-Sam. You will be missed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So funny I'm crying! Literally.

Have you ever found yourself flipping through a magazine when, suddenly, something catches your eye that is just rip-roaring-side-busting-cheek-cramping-milk-out-your-nose funny? Well, I found such a gem this morning, as I was perusing my scrapbooking magazine checking out all the scrapbook page ideas I'll never get around to when I saw this:



Ahh...I just love it! *wipes tears from eyes* A magazine made just for me! That's www.organizemag.com . I'll be heading there right after this post because, you know, what I need most is another magazine I can never get around to reading!

Now, if I could only find my debit card. Hmm.....

Monday, December 10, 2007

She's Out There, Somewhere...

that perfect-got-it-all-together-never-a-ruffled-feather mom. I just know it. She can't possibly just be a figure of my imagination, because, that would mean I'm driving myself crazy comparing myself to someone who doesn't exist. And I'm NOT crazy.


Well, not at the moment, anyway. Check with me again tomorrow.

There are times, however, when I honestly feel like I'm on some bad episode of Candid Camera and my kids are in cahoots with Allen Funt (yes, I know he's dead). It's just that, at no time, does anyone jump out from behind a pile of laundry and yell, "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" and relieve me of this bad joke. Now, of course, if anyone did jump out at me from behind a pile of laundry, I would have a hard time deciding whether to laugh or cry at the realization that my life was a put-on.

This decision coming after I hide the body of the idiot who jumped out at me, of course.

But she's out there. I can feel it. Or, should I say, I can feel her, breathing down my neck, pushing on my back, stepping on my heels. She's a bitch unfriendly sort, this one. Oh, she's always smiling, always freshly showered, always crisply dressed, always waving "Hello", smiling sweetly and offering a fresh baked muffin to those poor, less organized, less efficient souls like me. But, deep down, she's vicious, cunning, and OUT TO WIN!

The only thing is, I don't know exactly who she is because, I could swear, that everyone - yes, EVERYONE - has their act together more so than I. The knowledge of this fact haunts my dreams at night. Oh, you are laughing at me right now, I know. You're thinking, "Sister, you are soooo not alone on this" but, really now, do you expect me to believe that all of you reading this find yourself snapping at your kids or allowing dust bunnies to multiply at an amazing rate of speed or getting grossly behind in toilet-brush duties or ordering pizza for dinner twice in one week or wearing your husband's socks because all of yours are dirty or putting on un-ironed pants because Heaven only knows WHERE the damn iron is?!?!

Sorry, not buying it. Because, if that were true - if all of you were just like me - then I would have to take a long, deep, honest look at myself and realize that I am NORMAL and finally ACCEPT myself as I am. As God made me. And once I do that, then what?

Cut myself a little slack?
Breathe easier?
Laugh at the day-to-day antics of daily life?

Yeah, right! *snort* No, no. I'm just going to keep on keeping on. They say the quickest trip to unhappiness is comparing yourself to others. And, the good Lord knows, if I'm going on any trip at all with my kids, I want it to be quick!

Yeah, she's out there, alright and I'm going to find her. I'll take a notepad and pen with me so I can write down all her handy home organizing and perfect parenting tips. I'll follow her around for the day, watching how she expertly cleans up grape juice from the carpet, settles disputes between the children with a smile, folds the laundry into perfectly squared piles and for dinner serves up a tasty, new recipe she created herself. And when all is said and done, I will smile, thank her for generously allowing me to learn from her and then,

I'm going to beat.her.to.the.ground!

Because, after all, do any of us need this woman in our lives?


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I was just wondering...

1. Why do the kids want to be the Cheese, if the Cheese stands alone?

2. Why do newborn socks have non-skid tread on the bottom?

3. Why are men so competitive? And, how can I use this to my advantage to get things done around the house?

4. Why does my 3 yr old refuse to eat a new food item when it is on HER plate but will beg me for some when it's on MINE?

5. Why is it that when my only white pants are finally clean, I have no clean white underwear to put on underneath them?

6. Why is it that it takes incredible human intelligence to create the modern technological devices we rely on so heavily these days but we lose our ability to think after using...oh, I forgot what I was going to say.

7. Why are the pens in the bank secured with chains yet the vault door remains open?

8. Why is it that you can't do a U-turn at several intersections throughout Arizona but, apparently, you can make a right turn from the middle lane in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and South Dakota?

9. Why is my daughter incredibly darling when she's preforming for other people but gets on my nerves when she's doing it for me?

10. Why, oh why are they still making fat-free Ranch dressing? Is there a reason for this?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

If Loving You is Wrong...


I am one of those "Lost" people. No, I don't mean wandering. I mean I'm an avid watcher of the t.v. show. Not being much of a t.v. person, it is the only show I watch. Aside from the beautiful scenery and outstanding writing, the creators of the show have given us Matthew Fox and Josh Holloway to lick the t.v. screen respectfully admire on a regular basis - often shirtless, no less. *sigh*

But, as a reward to those of us most loyal, they have given us Henry Ian Cusick, a.k.a Desmond. Shirtless, from time to time as well, thank you.

Thank you very much.

So imagine my surprise when I first saw, "The Gospel of John" starring Cusick as Jesus. I'm not kidding you when I say this, I had to turn it off. Why? Because, I don't think one should be watching a portrayal of the life of Jesus and be thinking, "Man, Jesus is hot!"

But, the other day, I was in the new Family Christian Bookstore across the street from me and they had "The Gospel of John" dvd on sale for $5! Well, I couldn't resist. I bought one for me and two as Christmas presents. I'm looking forward to when I have 3 hrs sans kids to watch it. Ooh! I'm watching it alright! I'm just hoping I won't have to keep turning it off in order to confess the sin of impure thoughts - repeatedly.

Yep, I don't wanna be right.



Saturday, December 1, 2007

Favorite Product #2

When I last told you about Burt, I said he was my NEW favorite product. Well, let me just say, that while Burt is new to the family here in the Stumbling household, he is not necessarily my absolute favorite. Afterall, a good mother loves all of her children the same, right?

I have many favorite products and I've decided to tell you about them one at a time as my flighty, little whims see fit. Today, I would like to recommend to you something that I don't know how I ever lived without. Or how my husband, sheets and socks ever lived without, for that matter.


We'll call this little cutie, "Helio". Heel of Approval: Cracked Heel Treatment is a gooey tub of pure footlovin' from the shelves of Bath & Body Works. Helio resides on my nightstand next to my Burt's Bees Lip Balm (for another time, dear) and my Puff's Plus w/ lotion (is there any other?) tissue box. Combine Helio with a cozy pair of fuzzy, cotton socks and you have the makings for a night of pure, sizzlin'...


okay, I wanted to say something really sensual here, but what can one say about scratchy, cracked and callous heels that are so gnarly that they literally make noise when putting socks on?

Share too much, did I? Umm, okay...sorry, 'bout that.

Anyhoo, hence the absence of nylon socks in my drawer or evenings of playing footsie with my husband. But when Helio and I get together for 3 or 4 nights in a row, all that changes. I can literally see a difference after the first night. It's not long before my heels - and the rest of my feet, for that matter - are back to their sandal-worthy selves.

Bath & Body Works, as always, is mighty proud of their products so Helio is a bit much (if you ask me and since you're reading this, you did) at $15.00 for 4 oz., but a little does go a long way. Only because of price, and not performance, do I give Helio 4 out of 5 Mommy Kisses!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Found It On the Web Friday #2

Don't click it! Don't do it!

Don't! Don't! Don't!

DO NOT!!!!

You have been warned!

That is all.

Found It On The Web Friday.

I'm thinking about a new look for Kirby:


Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Bit About Me - Pictorial.

My favorite color: My favorite food. We have concluded in this house that I am Joey from "Friends":
A few of my favorite things:
Where I was born:
What I most struggle with:

Age at next birthday:

Place I'd most like to visit (again):
My favorite place. What can I say? I'm a mom of two small children!
My childhood dream:
My adulthood dream:


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can I get an amen?

Not long ago, Good Morning America did a segment on this book and, let me tell you, I'm buying it on title alone. My 3 1/2 year old daughter is already quite sure of her fashion sense and will let me know, on no uncertain terms, what she is and is not willing to wear. One day, not long ago, she cried the entire way home from the mall, all because I bought her a brown skirt.


Brown! *gasp* What was I thinking?

I should have known, considering that every time I do her laundry, the lint from the dryer is a solid PINK. Well, at least for now, the clothing battle is only over color. Oh, I see the writing on the wall, all right. And, you can bet, I'm armed and ready with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Writing on the wall doesn't scare me...

...the fashions for young girls they have out these days scares me! Exactly for what "profession" are we preparing our little fashionistas?

I'm happy to say, just when I thought London never listens to me, she made me proud. Awhile back, when I was in the shower, London decided to get herself dressed. She walked into the bathroom to let me know that she had picked out a pair of panties and, in addition to that, pulled on a pair of panty covers - the little "bloomers" she wears over her panties whenever she's in a dress or skirt. She then says to me,

"I'm wearing these, Mama, because a lady never shows her panties".

That's my girl! Score one for decency!

Keep an eye out for more on this topic as my daughter gains more and more interest in her fashion style. And though I may occasionally get the color wrong, that's not enough to stop me from being interested in her fashion style as well. And if I have to use that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser directly on her clothes - well, I won't. But, anything that falls under the heading "skanky" will meet with the flaming end of a lighted match - that, I can assure you!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hug Update #3 - the other two things.

Lesson Learned Number Three: Sharing God's love is like taking a really big happy pill.

When I returned from Wal-mart, I had what seemed like 72 bags to unload in the house and an unbelievable amount of groceries to put away. Remember, I had been there THREE hours without my kids! Mama did some serious shopping!

Normally, I would not be at all happy with this amount of work ahead of me. And since I was gone so long, my children were mysteriously happy to see me, thus planting themselves right under my feet as I tried to maneuver around my painfully small kitchen. But, you know what? I was ELATED! Literally walking on air. Skipping, no less!

Yes, I'll admit it. I skipped!

I found myself giddy. Smiling uncontrollably. Clapping my hands as I spoke (okay, I do that anyway, but still...) and finding not one single thing my kids did annoying or bothersome! I did not go over to Wal-mart on my mission to hug to personally get something out of it. But, boy howdy, did I reign in the joy! A joy that literally lasted for DAYS. I tell you what, folks, I'm addicted!

I like watching Joyce Meyer in the mornings and one thing that I have heard her say again & again is: While you're waiting around for God to bless you, get out there and bless someone else first. If you do this, God will bless you in ways you never imagined. This is so true! I did not see the blessing of God's joy coming my way. My mission started off small and simple, I was upset that hugging was being vilified by the overzealous politically correct and I wanted to do my part to counteract that.

My mission did turn into trying, not just to do something for the act of hugging in general, but for those people out there who may just be in need of a hug. What I ended up with was something for me in return. Now I'm going to get greedy. I want more of God's joy! But I can't just lay out my hands and ask for it, like some expectant child waiting for her toy. No, I must work for it. But that's okay, because this is work I'm happy to do!

Lesson Learned Number Four: I kind of missed the point.

I didn't understand the verse that was my inspiration as clearly as I thought:

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other". ~ John 13:34, 35

While getting ready to leave for Wal-mart that day, (I figured since I was going to be soliciting hugs, I, at least, better shower) I wanted it to be evident in my appearance that I was doing the work of God. With the likes of Fred Phelps among us, I feel that Christianity sometimes gets a bad rap, so I wanted it to be clear: this was a Christian who was reaching out and being kind. I picked out my favorite bejeweled cross and strung it around my neck - however, while adjusting the length, it broke. No big deal, it was a simple fix. I took it downstairs with the intent of getting hubby's needle-nose pliers and fixing it. Well, one thing lead to another and before I knew it, I was heading out the door to start my mission.

It wasn't until talking to the last of my hug recipients that I reached up to feel my cross that was around my neck and I realized it wasn't there. I had forgotten to fix my necklace and put it back on! "Oh no!" I thought, "One of my main reasons for doing this was to get God's word out. How would anyone know that they were reached out to today by a Christian if I weren't wearing my cross!" I was a bit dismayed but, nonetheless, overjoyed about the hugs I had given/received that day. Over the next couple of days, I thought back over how I had forgotten to wear my cross and, sadly, felt like in some way, I had failed a certain part of my mission.

Then God made it clear to me:

"This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other".

Get it? I didn't. Not at first, anyway. It doesn't say, "when they see the cross you wear around your neck" or "the bumper sticker you have on your car" or "the t-shirt you're wearing". Which are all wonderful and I'll continue to display, but by THE LOVE. It's the love we show, the love we give out, the love we have for one another. THAT is how others will know we are God's disciples doing God's work. It's not about the uniform - it's about the heart, the attitude and, especially, the actions.

I think God broke my necklace! Okay, I don't mean to sound accusatory. I think God was happy with what I was taking on that day, but to some degree said, "Let me just fix one thing". Those three hours I spent in Wal-mart seeking out people to hug wasn't just ME doing something for THEM - it was about God doing something for me, afterall. I desperately want to grow as a Christian and, sometimes, become a bit frustrated at the sloth-like speed of which I am growing. I didn't want to sit around and wait to be blessed anymore. I wanted to be a blessing to someone else, so I was. And, as it turns out, God was setting ME up for a blessing all along.

He's kind of sneaky, huh? Okay, maybe not sneaky, but a pretty good strategist, wouldn't you say? Not only did I not have any idea this task would leave me feeling so elated, but I also didn't realize that I would finally get the chance to move up a few steps in my walk with Christ. How cool is that?

A hug. An easy, quick, painless hug. Something that is so simple, yet so powerful. There is so much inside the hug itself and so much more inside the people doing the hugging. I'll never take them for granted again, nor will I ever view them in the same way.

I will also never refrain from giving one or receiving one. I hope you don't either.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hug Update #2: The Four Things I Learned.

As I said in my last post, I felt I was playing it safe. I wanted to stretch myself - really get out there, ya know? I was looking for people, who not only willingly accepted hugs, but people who may just be in need of a hug from a goofy, big grinned, redhead on a mission. But how will they know that they can get their daily dose of affectionate embrace from me?

*snap* I got it!

All I need is a big ol' sign on my chest letting them know I'm here for the hugging! So I went to Micheal's Craft Store and bought a make-it-yourself button, then came home and printed out my message on yellow paper w/ black ink (the road sign people will tell you black on yellow catches the eye more easily than any other color combination) and, Wah-la! Here you have it:

I was in business! But one question remained: Where do I find these people? Well, that was easy. Where does anyone find anything they are in need of these days? WAL-MART, of course! In desperate need of some groceries and time away from the kiddos, I kissed hubby good-bye and set off on my mission. This was going to be good! I was a bit nervous, but not about the kind of reception I might get. I was nervous about getting NO reception at all. What if no one wanted to hug me? What if the world had already gotten so cold and I was too late? No! No! I would not accept this. *shakes head fervently* I WILL hug someone today if it's the last thing I do!

"As God as my witness! I shall never go without hugs again! Not me, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, cheat, kill or steal - as God as my witness! I'll never go without hugs again!"

Ahem. Excuse me, got a little carried away there. I'm back now.

Anyway, as I trotted into Wal-mart I realized that my big button was not going to do the work on it's own. I had to put on my big smile as well. I needed to look approachable. Very approachable. Like, "I wanna give that girl a big ol' hug" approachable. So smile, I did! I smiled and tried to make eye contact. Tried to make eye contact. Tried to make eye contact. Tried to make eye contact. No, I'm not skipping like an old 45. I was having some serious difficulty making eye contact!

Learning experience Number One: people don't make eye contact anymore. I never noticed this before. Hmm...could it be because *I* didn't like to make eye contact with people? Heaven forbid I make eye contact and someone would want to talk to me! *shiver* Dealing with people I don't know is not my forte. So what the heck am I doing trying to hug them?

God works in mysterious ways...

So I make my way through the aisles of Wal-mart and it really wasn't long before I had my first bite. A sweet lady in the facial creams & cleansers aisle. She said she thought my button was cute, so I held my arms out and gleefully said, "They're free!" She laughed and said, "Well, sure!" and gave me a big, grandma-style hug - all squishy and warm!

That is when I found myself at the start of Learning Experience Number Two: Once you hug someone, they'll want to talk to you! My first huggee was in need of a particular facial cleanser and wanted to know if I could help her find it. After reading the ingredients on one of the jars in her hand, we quickly surmised that she, indeed, had the one she was looking for.

After that, I got four more hugs (two from the same person) and a "hand hug" (I think that guy was a bit shy) and listened as people told me their stories. I heard from one man about his battle with cancer. Another about his reasons for leaving the Catholic church and why he found his non-denominational church so much more inviting. Another quickly told me how he likes to hug everyone at church and still another told me about how he was able to rid himself of physical ailments that had been bothering him for years once he learned how to forgive people and let go of anger.

Wow! I really didn't see that coming. The way these people just opened up to me was something that actually took several days for me to fully absorb. It made me wonder about the rest of us. While we are walking through our daily existence, doing our best not to make eye contact, are we really waiting for someone, a total stranger even, to take notice?

Well, after three hours and a lot of sharing, I headed back home with my mission accomplished - for that day, anyway. The people were out there, alright. They were right across the street, no less. And I couldn't help but continue to reflect on the two things that I learned while in Wal-mart:

1. We have become a people, either because we are unwilling or afraid, who no longer make eye contact. For whatever reason, we don't connect with each other is this simplest of ways. And,

2. We have become a people who, once a connection is made, are hungry for one another.

A hug. A simple act of love. A simple connection between two people. Two people who may not even know each other.

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other". ~ John 13:34, 35

When I first read this verse, not that long ago, I thought that showing the love we have for one another meant some great act of commitment; some great show of love. I realize now, like most people, we make God out to be more complicated than He is. Showing God's love can be a great act of commitment or it can be just the simple act of hugging someone.

Hugging them in Aisle 6, right next to the facial cleansers, for that matter.

So what about the other two things I learned from all of this? Well, you'll just have to stay tuned!

Found It On The Web Friday.

Okay, I'm a little late today. Technically, I didn't find this on the web. I saw it in one of the 3,512,875 catalogs I get in the mail this time of the year and laughed to hard I ran upstairs to find it online so I could post a pic.

All for you - because I love you and I want you to laugh, too.

Someone, please, get me this t-shirt for Christmas:


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hug Update #1

Whew! One holiday down, one to go!

Everyone is healthy again and my home is (almost) back to normal, so I am finally able to give you an update on my hug challenge. Except, I won't be giving you the update all in one post. There is a lot to tell, my friends. I learned more than I expected to. Well, to be honest, I didn't expect to learn anything. I was just trying to not let hugging go down without a fight.

And the fight continues on! I have been convicted and honestly feel like this is something God has put before me. There are many ways - MANY WAYS - to get out God's message of love. Hugging is as simple as it gets, if you ask me. And I'm a pretty simple person, so we make a good team!

The first day of my hugging challenge, I hugged two members, Dan & Jan, of my bible study group. After hearing my story, they were quick to oblige and told me how, during their trip to China, they taught their Chinese hosts (whom they now consider friends) to hug. They explained to me that in China, hugging is something that just isn't done - not even among family! Something I can't even imagine.

The second day, after dropping off my daughter at preschool, I asked Miss Kate, who handles the front office, if I could give her a hug. She gleefully responded with a big bear hug I did not expect but was all too happy to receive.

The third day, while at a movie in the park put on by one of my church's (I'll explain that another time), I asked the Pastor's wife, Carolina, for hug. I knew who she was but really didn't know her personally. That was, I think, the second time in several months that I've ever spoken with her. It's funny, after you hug someone, you do suddenly "know" them. I feel like I made a friend with one simple gesture.

The fourth day, I was busy late into the evening doing some scrapbooking when it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't hugged anyone that day! I jumped up, headed to the front door and excitedly announced to my husband, "I have to go find someone to hug!" and went off in search of a neighbor. I found Dean & Debbie and their kids taking an evening stroll. After a bit of chatting, I explained my challenge to them and not only got hugs from them but their kids joined in on the fun, as well. They told me they were a very "huggy" family, and it shows!

Prior to searching out my neighbors, though, it had dawned on me that my choices in huggees had all been people I knew and knew to be Christian. I felt I was playing it safe. I wanted to stretch myself with this challenge. I wanted to get out there! I was sure that there were not only people who were happy to hug but, more importantly, people who needed hugs! Those were the people I wanted to find.

But how? Where? Who would they be? How would I know them?

Questions and quest on! I found them (some of them anyway) and I'll tell you all about it next time. Stay tuned!

It gets good, people! It really does!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Small Hug Update

I actually have lots & lots to tell you about my hugging challenge but *sigh* I simply do not have the time right now. Poor Punkin Pie has just gotten over 4 days of what I can only assume was a cold/flu combo.

Ick and double ick.

When my kids get sick, my little world comes to a halt. Everything - and I mean everything - gets neglected and put on the back burner. I never realized just how tiring it is to take care of a small, sick child. And when all she wants you to do is snuggle with her on the couch...well, how do you say "no" to that?

It reminds me of a poem. A poem I don't remind myself of often enough:

Cleaning and scrubbing
can wait till tomorrow
For babies grow up
We've learned to our sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs,
Dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby
and babies don't keep.

So today, I'll be catching up on all the "house" stuff and, if I actually get it all done today, *laugh*snort* I'll be back to catch you up on all the "hug" stuff!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Found It On The Web Friday.

A user on www.godtube.com/ created this video to Casting Crowns, Stained Glass Mascarade.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My New Favorite Product


Years ago, I talked my Sweetie into buying one of those food sealer, vacuum-thingamajigs. It was roughly 50 smackers, if I remember correctly. Not to mention an extra $11 for a box of bags. There was measuring, cutting, sealing, vacuuming, and sealing again involved but that was okay, because I was being resourceful and saving money. Happy, I was, sealing & vacuuming, vacuuming & sealing and thinking of all the food I was no longer going to be throwing away and imagining all the wonderful things we could do with the money we saved!

Ahhh...good times.

I think I used it 3 times and back to the far, dark corners of the pantry it went. After awhile, sealing & vacuuming got replaced with things that are actually fun!

Then along comes Handi-Vac by Reynolds. I call him "Burt". Burt is so easy to use, it amazes me that no one came up with this sooner. I mean, really, HOW long has it been since we first put a man on the moon? Let's get with it, people!

Burt even comes with his own batteries plus three quart-size bags to get you started. The instructions are clear - basically, you are holding Burt against the designated blue spot on the freezer bag and pressing a button - and there are even pictures. I'm guessing, they used pictures to show the monkeys in their test lab how to use it. Yes, I know, cliche' but really, a monkey could use it!

Burt is extra speedy and does not require the 10-20 seconds to vacuum the air out of the bag that the manufacturer states. The bags are also reusable! Yay!

And, if I ever run into the designer in packaging who came up with the box design, I'm going to kiss him! Not only is Burt the first item I've removed from hard plastic packaging without muttering a few "colorful" words, but because you don't rip or damage the packaging in any way, you can use it to store Burt if you so desire. A little bed for Burt, if you will.

The price is a very reasonable $9.99 at Wal-mart. The bags are a bit more than regular bags but considering you can use the bags again and again (without cutting them down like with the vacuum-thingy), you can really get your money out of them.

My rating for this little gem is:

5 Mommy Kisses! (out of a possible five)

Nah-uh!

cash advance



So, like, if you, um wanna see what yer blog's, like, intelligence factor is. Just, like, uh, click on the link up there, ya know and it'll tell you. It's like so cool! 'Cept that it gave mine, like, this totally bogus rating! "High School"! Puh-leeze! My blog is, like, totally cool and stuff and, like, this rating system is, like, so bogus. Fer real, dude! It's, like, sooooooo not kosher, ya know what I mean?

Word!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Plate Runneth Over.

When I was a kid, I had to finish everything on my plate. Many nights I was left alone at the table after everyone else had finished their meal and left. It was not unusual for me to sit there for an hour at least, picking at my plate still loaded with food. It wasn't that I didn't like the meal, it was just that it was too much for me. I simply could not handle it all. There was one dinner-time rule, however, that often saved me: If either one of my parents had loaded my plate, then I didn't have to eat it all. They'd simply concede that their eyes were bigger than my stomach. But if I had served myself, well then, too bad. I should've paid more attention to what I could handle and not have given myself so much.

Oh, how this rings true even today! Except, it's not food I have a hard time managing - it's my time. I have a tendency to "fill up" my plate, or rather my calendar, with a bit too much. It all looks yummy when I'm first piling it on but when the time comes and it's set before me, I find that often I have a hard time swallowing what's there. And even though it's not really food, I find that the physical results are quite similar: upset stomach, lethargy and that overall feeling of being "stuffed". What's worse, is there isn't a sweet dessert to look forward to at the end.

This month and next, I'm making it a priority to dish up a little less. A low-cal (as in calendar) diet of sorts. London's soccer is over and I won't be signing her up for anything else until after the first of the year. And even though this is the time of the year when I usually start to pile things onto my plate, I'll be resisting the urge to even "just have a bite". Nothing will be added that isn't pure all-out fun and, other than date night with my hubby, nothing that will require a babysitter.

They say a trick to weight loss is to use 9 inch plates instead of the standard 13 inch. On a 9 inch plate, it appears you have more food and so "visually" you believe you've eaten plenty. I'm thinking I will do the same with my 2008 calender. Maybe if I get one with teeny-tiny boxes I will only commit to what I can write in the box. Perhaps, the days of "my eyes are bigger than my schedule" will come to a halt. Well, who am I kidding? They won't come to a halt but I have faith that I can get them down to bite-size pieces.

I refuse to stuff myself any longer, I want to enjoy my days like the French enjoy a meal. They are not something to be rushed, half-chewed and barely tasted. Instead, I want to sit back, enjoy what has been set before me and linger in the moment surrounded by family and friends.

Yes, that is what I want: Not to fill up my plate, but for what's on my plate to fulfill me.



Sunday, November 11, 2007

One hundred forty-two plus One.

Today was awesome! I thought for sure I'd cry during the service because I always cry when I'm witness to a baptism but I didn't. I was just too elated! I was so excited but not just for me, you should have seen all the people turning their lives over to God this morning. Last Sunday, they asked people to sign up to be baptized today. They had 65 people sign up! Sixty-five people publicly declaring that they are committing their lives to God - Wow! How awesome is that?

Well, it gets even better. Spring of Life Christian Church offers two Sunday services - 9 am and 10:45 am. I attend the second service. During that service, Pastor Kevin announced that during the 9 am service, 66 people came forward to be baptized. Praise God!

But wait, it gets better!

During the second service, 77 people started life anew in Christ Jesus! That's a total of 143 people baptized this morning!

143!

Of that 143, let me tell you about 1. She is a friend of mine. I was standing in line, waiting to prepare for baptism when I realized she was behind me. I turned to find her wiping big, wet tears from her eyes. I asked her, "Tears of joy?" She replied positively. She then started to tell me how earlier in the week, she had prayed to God asking for direction. She prayed for God to speak to her through scripture. What came to her was this:

"And I tell you, Whoever declares openly [speaking out freely] and confesses that he is My worshiper and acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man also will declare and confess and acknowledge him before the angels of God." ~ Luke 12:8 [Amp]

She then proceeded to tell me that she began to feel a push while seated in service that morning and she asked God, "If this is what you want me to do, please let me know." It was at that moment that Pastor Kevin turned toward her side of the congregation, looked right at her and recited the above verse.

She immediately got up and got in line to be baptized!

Some of us realize what we need to do but take weeks or, like in my case, months to act on it. Some of us hear God's call and immediately get up and go forward. I think there is a unique story behind each and every one of the 143 baptisms that took place this morning but, in all honestly, I think when you really break them down, they are, in fact, the same story:

We feel a void.
There is a nudge.
We get a word.
We hear a call.
We get up.
We go forward
and declare to the world:

I'm with Him.







Saturday, November 10, 2007

A New Day, a New Beginning.

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." ~ Matthew 3:11

Sunday I will be baptized! Though I was, technically, baptized as a baby, that was not my choice. How a baby can decide to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior is beyond me but I understand why my parents did it. They were only trying to secure my salvation so, by no means, do I hold their decision against them. I certainly appreciate the intention.

But this time around, it's a decision I make, on my own and for myself, without hesitation but at the same time, without flippancy. I want to declare to the world that I belong to God - a child of His very own. That He is my Father in heaven and His Son is in my heart and that I belong to a family tree whose branches reach all corners of the earth.

Please, think of me tomorrow morning as I take one giant leap forward in my sometimes difficult, yet still beautiful, walk with Christ.

God be with you, as well.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Found It On The Web Friday.

I really do enjoy the company of my children and don't mind taking them just about anywhere. However, when I rob a bank, I have the decency to leave the little ones at home.

Now, can someone tell me who to write for my "Father of the Year" nomination?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm bringing HuggyBack

Hugging has been in the news a bit lately for both good and ridiculous reasons. Apparently, at a middle school in Mascoutah, IL, hugging a friend good-bye is a violation of school policy. Megan Coulter, 13, was given two days detention for doing just that. This, in of itself, is ridiculous but read just what the school policy has to say on the subject:

"Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved."

Are you kidding me? Poor taste? Poor judgment? Discredit to the school and persons involved? Remember when we all thought the Borg were cold and unfeeling? Wow. Just wow.

I read another article on hugging that states that 1/3 of us aren't getting enough hugs. The blame being put on the "politically correct zealots" (see above). Well, that just won't do. As someone who loves to hug, I'm taking a stand! Won't you join me?

I propose that each of us reach out and hug at least one person today who is not a family member. By all means, continue to hug your family and even increase the number of hugs within your home, but I want you (and me) to go out of our way to hug someone we might not otherwise embrace. I further challenge those of you who are really brave and affectionate to do this at least once each day this week. That will be the challenge I will take on, as well. I will report back on my Hug-a-thon next Thursday and let you know how it went.

Please, do the same. I want to hear about your hugging experiences. Who you hugged, why and their reaction. Need a little motivation to get you going? Check out this video:



"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other". ~ John 13:34, 35

NOW LET'S GET OUT THERE AND HUG!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What Death Will Teach You.

1. Don’t put off.
When my Dad was diagnosed in 2001 with pancreatic cancer, he was given 3-6 months to live. There was so much we could’ve done together but he died just 9 short days later. Why didn’t we do those things before? It’s so easy to let “daily life” become more important when you don’t realize the “whole life” can leave you at any time. There are no guarantees.

2. Say what needs to be said.
Two days after his diagnosis, he was hit with a stroke that robbed him of his ability to carry on a conversation. Luckily for me, my Dad and I never held back on the “I Love You’s” , the “I Need You’s” and the “I’m Proud of You’s”. There wasn’t anything I needed to say or anything I needed to hear. This, alone, was an amazing comfort to me then and remains so today. Tell that person whatever it is you need to say or they need to hear. No one ever regrets speaking in love, but people do regret not speaking when it’s too late.

3. Take more pictures.
I have plenty of pictures of my Dad. I have plenty of pictures of me. What I don’t have are pictures of us together. The last one I have was taken in 1991. A decade without pictures of my Dad and I together? That’s just heartbreaking. Don’t wait for a “special occasion”. Everyday you are with someone you love is occasion enough. You can’t say, “Well, I’ll just come back and take a picture when I have a moment”. Moments don’t come back.

4. The joy of not forgetting.
After my Dad passed, there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t think of him. Each time, it was like someone punched me in the chest. I knew time would heal my wounds but I longed for when I could finally make it through a whole day without thinking of him. Thankfully, God knows better than me. What happened, instead, was the thoughts of his death turned into the memories of his life. And the tears of my grief turned into the smiles and laughter of good times remembered. It’s been over 6 years now and, Thank God, not a day has gone by without a thought or two of him. I wouldn’t have it any other way. No one wants to be forgotten.

5. Cherish the gift you’re given.
While sitting with my Dad in the hospital one day across from my step-mother, I said to her, “As much as this sucks, losing my dad when I’m only 32, I think of all the women out there who grew-up never knowing their fathers or not having a relationship with them. That’s so much worse. At least I had 32 good years”. Words cannot express how thankful to God I am for those 32 years. Sure, some people got 35, 40, 50 years or more. Some got 10. Some didn’t get any.

6. Face grief head-on.
It’s often said that there are 5 stages of grief. I was pretty familiar with denial, since that is how I made it through the day those first few weeks, but I wasn’t interested in any other phase except the final one - acceptance. I figured the sooner I got there, the better. So I just jumped ahead to it. If you are familiar with the movie, “Finding Nemo”, you’ll remember the part where Marlin and Dory are supposed to go through the trench but to Marlin it looks dark and scary. He wants to go over it instead, so they do. They end up running into trouble they never expected - didn’t even see coming, really, and ended up worse off. Trust me on this one, there’s a lot of pain you won’t see coming when you just skip across the top of grief. You really do need to go deep and go through it.

7. Lean on God.
What people who have lost a loved one need more than anything is for someone to just listen to them. There is no better listener than God. Pour it all on to Him. He will never tire. I didn’t do this enough. I wonder how much of the pain would’ve been taken from me had I just released my grief to God. The good news is, it’s never too late. I can still give it to him.


8. Everyone grieves differently - Let them.
When I had spoken to a long time friend of my dad’s after his death, she described it as a “real bummer”. I was shocked! “Bummed” hardly described my feelings. Perhaps, that was all she could express, I don’t know. What I realize now is that not everyone celebrates birthdays the same and not everyone grieves the loss of a loved one the same. People do what they can. They are just trying to make it day by day, as well. Sometimes, I wish I would’ve provided more comfort to others instead of working so hard to secure my own.

9. Find comfort in where they are now.
When my dad died, I was actually a little jealous of him. He was now living in a place where all he felt was peace and love. He was restored to newness and fullness. He knew nothing of pain or fear or loneliness. He was with God and he was home. I never wanted my dad dead, but once he was gone, I never wanted him back. I was too happy for him.

10. Forgiveness.
My step-mom and I did not always have a good relationship. My dad was often in the middle of it. Sometimes, we put him there, sometimes he volunteered for the spot. Twenty plus years of, “She said ‘this’” and “She did ‘that’”. Sitting across the bed from her in the hospital room, she holding one hand of dad’s, me holding the other, all of that vanished. Funny how the death of someone you love will focus your mind and spirit. It’s amazing how it will also bring reality into focus and force you to see, clearly, what is important and what, so rightfully, can be called petty. I wish I could’ve gained that vision years before, but I’m happy to report I’m still seeing pretty clearly today.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Found It On The Web Friday.

Introducing a new feature. Every Friday, I'll post something I found on the web either awe-inspiring or just plain odd. This video could be both:

Baby Got Book
(don't forget to turn off the music player to the right)

And the winner is...

"Leedo" a.k.a Mema (Paul's mom) who entered this caption:

That Super-Glue really works!
Congratulations, Mema! A $10 Starbuck's gift card is heading your way! Keep checking back for more caption contests! Thanks to all who participated!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Boomerang Effect, Parenting Style

Some of you don't need to read anything further. You know exactly what I'm talking about. It's when you JUST TOLD your kids not to do something and then, lo and behold, you do the exact same thing. I don't mean smoking, running out into the street or pushing your baby brother down (how many times a day, London? Seriously?). No. I'm talking about, well, I'm talking about this:

Yesterday, we were running a bit late for church. And if any of you know me, you know that I HATE being late for anything! I had already told London once to get her shoes on. I had Kirby in my arms and I'm ready (finally) to head out the door when I realize London STILL does not have her shoes on. "London! Get your shoes on! Now"!

Well, you'd think that would be easy, but, nooooooooo. She can't have just any pair of shoes. She simply MUST have her pink, sparkly ballerina shoes! I must admit, they are pretty, but being pretty and being where they are supposed to be are two different things. And they are NOT where they are supposed to be. She has no idea where they are and I'm not about to go hunting for them.

Her eyes are turning pink and glossy. She just cannot go without them. "Oh, yes, child. You can and you WILL! We are late!"

Then comes the stern, drawn-out lecture about how this wouldn't happen if she put her shoes back where they belong! She is told this daily. Why? Because, she's three and she can't remember stuff like this. It's normal but when I'm running late, my expectations are not normal.

I mean, honestly, evil-when-running-late-Mommy, chill on the expectations a bit, won't you?

She is handed her other pink, sparkly shoes and, though she is not happy about this, she agrees to get into the car. Off we go and everything is fine and dandy for the rest of the day. Until later that evening, when...

Mommy can't find her OWN pair of shoes!

I'm sorry. What?

I couldn't find my own shoes.

Sorry, didn't get that.

I said, I couldn't find my own shoes!

There, happy now?

Yes, that's right. I looked and I looked and I looked for my flips that I wear daily around the house. I looked upstairs, then downstairs, then upstairs again, then downstairs again, once more upstairs, last time around downstairs. After a good 15 minutes of searching every-freaking-where, I finally found them. Where were they?

NOT where they were supposed to be. And there you have it, people: The Boomerang Effect. When the "stuff" you throw at someone else comes right back at ya!








Saturday, October 27, 2007

Postage Paid

A selection of childrens' letters to God. Too cute for words!









Friday, October 26, 2007

Little Miss Ingrate

When I was in junior high, I had a friend who was a middle child. She always complained to her parents that her older sister had all the privileges and that her younger sister got away with everything. Apparently, to her mother, she didn't appreciate anything she had so her mom nicknamed her "Little Miss Ingrate".

Anyone could have called me that yesterday.

I told God I didn't appreciate the gift He had given me that day. I told him it wasn't good enough for me. Actually, I told Him I HATED it! Can you imagine? God hands you a gift, beautifully wrapped with a bright, sunny-yellow bow tied around it. You open it up to find that it's not exactly the gift you had hoped for, so you stick out your lip, stomp your foot on the ground, whine, "It's nooooot whaaaaaat I waaaaaanted" and smash it to the ground at His feet.

Who would do that? Seriously? Well, ME, apparently.

What was the gift God gave me? The day. A brand new, never-been-used-before day. A clean slate. A fresh start. A Mulligan, if you will. A whole 24 hrs to do with whatever I chose. I chose to fill it up with impatience, irritation, frustration and general pissy-ness. At the height of it, when 2 or 3 things went all wrong (read: not my way) at once, I blew up and shouted, "GOD, I HATE THIS DAY"!

Yep. Yesterday was not one of my best days. Not one of my worst, but still.

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

I see this everywhere. On keychains, pillows, plaques, picture frames, greeting cards, bumper stickers - you get the picture. I see it so often, that I no longer actually read it. I start to, but then I think, "Oh yeah. I know that one" and then move on. But do I really know it? Do I know it in my heart?

Not really. I don't start each morning thanking God for the day. And, why not? I always thank someone whenever they give me something. Especially, something they didn't have to give me. And God certainly doesn't have to give me a new day if He doesn't want to. Just check the obituary section of the daily newspaper. He doesn't give one to everyone, you know!

So, this is something I really need to work on. I can't tell you how many times I've described my day as "crappy", "frustrating", "not worth a hill of beans" or "can't wait for it to be over". I wonder if it breaks God's heart a little everytime I say that. I know I've given gifts that were ill received. It hurts to know that your time, effort and thoughtfulness go unappreciated. But I'm not just unappreciative of God's thoughtfulness, I actually insult it with my derogatory remarks towards His gift of a new day. That needs to stop. Really.

Chances look pretty good for me that God will wrap up another day, tie it with a sunny-yellow bow and set it outside my door and wait for me to open it first thing in the morning. He's pretty faithful like that. In our relationship, it seems, He's always the giver and I'm always the receiver. Well, tomorrow, that is going to change a bit. I'M going to give! Give thanks, that is. Each day is a gift, but the funny thing about this gift is, even though He gives it, I get to fill it with whatever I want.

I hope I can remember to fill it with much rejoicing. If not, God will remind me somehow. He's pretty faithful like that, too.

Thankfully.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I need a caption for this picture!

Please, write a caption for this pic of my son, Kirby, and post it in "comments". Whoever has the cutest and cleverist caption will receive a $10 gift card to Starbucks!


Tennis, Anyone?

This post was inspired by my good friend, Andrea, who played tennis back in high school and, just recently, provided for me the picture of committing oneself to the game.

There is a Phil Collins song, “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” that has stuck with me over the years. Phil is singing to his love. He’s made a terrible mistake but wants to make amends. He doesn't want to lose her. In it, he sings, “We've had our problems but I'm on your side”. It’s one of those lines that is unexpectedly profound yet the meaning is so simple. So simple, in fact, that I think most people miss it.

I’m preaching to myself here, by the way.

I think, those of us in marriages, when conflict comes between us, we tend to get caught up in the “His side/Her side” of it. I know I do. I forget that Paul and I are on the same team. We are fighting the same opponent and we have the same goal: a happy, successful marriage. It’s kind of like playing tennis, really.

Yeah, that’s right - tennis. Here’s where insomnia comes in handy. This little gem was handed to me around 4:30 the other morning when I couldn't sleep:

Here, we have a tennis court:



You and your spouse team up on one side - this half of the court represents your marriage. Everything that will try to penetrate the inside court of your marriage: dishonesty, financial difficulties, temptation, infidelity, disrespect, resentment, inattention, ingratitude, etc., take up camp on the other side. Each team member guards his/her side of the court, sometimes alternating front to back. When the enemy lobs a threat over the net, sometimes the husband rushes forward to smack it back, declaring ,“This one’s mine. I’ll make it right”. Sometimes, it’s the wife who returns the fire, shouting, “I’ll handle this one“! And, just as in any successful, well-matched team, the two players never cross each other. They work in unison, united together in one common goal: never let the other side win.

The threats may come hard and fast, but when the team is adequately suited up with the proper equipment - trust, respect, kindness, commitment, loyalty and, above all, God as their captain - those threats are returned with a full swing. It’s difficult, sometimes to remember, when caught up in the day-to-day struggles and our own desires, that we are on the same team.

"Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand". ~ Matthew 12:25

And, don’t forget, in tennis, as in marriage, when the other side scores zero - that’s LOVE!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The story I can't wait to tell my children.

When I was 22, I was terribly upset one evening because some guy (I can't even remember who) had broken my heart. This was, like, the 147th time my heart had been broken (at least it felt that way). I was so tired of dating jerks. I KNEW I had something good to offer and couldn't figure out why no one could see that.

That night, I broke down and cried my eyes out to God. I said I was sick of being my own match-maker and I wanted Him to do it. I literally said, "I done! You do it!" I told God that I knew He had someone picked out just for me and that I felt He was just waiting on ME not the other way around. I knew I had to get mentally and emotionally healthy before God introduced me to my soulmate. Up to this point, I had terrible insecurities and low self-esteem.

I had decided that I was going to take a year off from dating. I would not accept any dates from anyone. I needed a break. I said to God, "I know you will make it clear to me who he is when I meet him". I prayed this because I didn't want to turn down a date and then worry that I had just turned down "the one". That would've been defeating the purpose of my year off.

I also had a list of things I was looking for in a guy and I literally gave God the list. I wanted him to be tall, dark and handsome. I wanted him to have a sense of humor and love animals. I wanted him to have either a rugged "manly" job or rugged hobbies. I wanted him to be the type of guy that was always looking to improve himself in some way, either physically, intellectually, financially or spiritually. I "put my order" in to God that night.

I took the year off and it was WONDERFUL. So freeing! It was such a release to come home and NOT worry if there were messages on my machine or if some guy called. I spent more time with family, friends and myself. I learned how to be independent and my confidence soared! I had so much fun the first year, that I decided to go for year two.

About 4 months into year two, I was at work one morning when I saw two guys walk out of the employee lounge. I couldn't even make out his face but suddenly it came upon me - this overwhelming feeling of "that's him!". I frantically starting hitting the shoulder of the guy next to me saying, "Who's that guy? Who's that guy?" He told me his name and I knew I would be marrying him. I still hadn't even really seen his face. I swear, it was just like in the movies - it was like everything darkened around me and a spotlight shown on him. I like to joke that I even heard music! I knew God would make it clear to me and He did!

After MUCH flirting for a few weeks, we finally had our first date. It was wonderful! The next day, I was at my brother's house and my SIL asked what I had done the night before. I said, "I went on a date with the guy I'm going to marry".

Last Thursday we marked our 10 yr anniversary!

The list I gave to God? He hit every one! Paul is tall, dark and handsome. He has a fabulous sense of humor, loves animals and has "rugged" hobbies (shooting, four-wheeling, flying). He is always trying to improve his mind, always wanting to learn more. Right now, he's out riding his bike to improve his health.

We have our troubles just like any marriage but it's comforting to know that no matter what, we will be together. He may not be God's gift to women but he's definitely God's gift to me! This is my example to people that you can pray specifically and God will answer your prayer. You have to be willing to do your part, too, though - as I had to do.

Everybody say, "Awwwww"