Ripe with Promise and Possibility

This is officially the last post of 2009. 2010 is just a few hours away, ripe with possibility and promise. A lot can happen in 365 days. A lot can happen.

On the home front, we moved again in 2009, making this, the "Kenross House," our 5th residence in two years. But we only moved once in 2009, so it seems things might be slowing down. Our house in Georgia never sold, but we did finally get it leased, which reduced a little bit of our stress. We moved a bit of our furniture here with us to the Kenross House. Something about sitting on your own couch makes life feel better. :)

Here is a 2009 family recap in no particular order: move, move, get a job, quit a job, find love, graduate from college, lose love, move, get a job, get a job, look for work, love my work, make new friends, lose friendships, get sick, get well, lose loved ones, grow increasingly closer to God, discover new talents, start a non-profit, celebrate birthdays, and love one another like never before.

All that to say, 2009 was a crazy year. But 2010 is just around the corner. Who knows what will happen? It is ripe with promise and possibility.

It Feels a Lot Like Limbo

The week between Christmas and New Years is my least favorite time of the year. For some reason, it feels a lot like limbo. Not the going down backwards under a stick kind of limbo, but the hanging out in one place with no sign of a future direction kind of limbo.

Christmas and all of its rush has gone away, all of its tender emotion has faded, people already seem more jaded, more ready to just get on with life. And yet the new year is just around the corner, filled with promise and waiting for us to catch up.

So for one in-between week, we twiddle our thumbs. Some of us go back to our jobs, but some of us don't. Some of us de-Christmasize the house, some of us don't. Some of us return our Christmas gifts and buy decorations for next year, some of us don't. And a select few of us might be thinking about new year's resolutions like dieting, or quitting some bad habit. But as we wait for the new year to arrive, we over-indulge in those things that we know we are about to give up.

I'd like to think of a better way to spend this week. It's a time-out. How often do we get a time out? How often do we take a time out when it's given. Instead of feeling like I'm waiting to exhale, I'm going to breathe in and out very slowly, very deeply, for the next several days. I'm going to sit at the feet of Jesus, converse with Him over a delicious cup of Ethiopian coffee, and learn to enjoy limbo week.

All that to say, "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving" and yummy coffee, and a calm heart, and soak in His goodness.

Over Informed

I have decided that one can be "over informed." I remember that my mom used to say, "Don't ask questions you don't want the answer to." What she meant was, "You can be over informed, and that's not always a good thing."

I think the modern world of facebook and twitter (do people still use myspace?) has lent itself to a lot of this phenom of being over informed. I mean, do I really need to know that you just got out of the shower? Do you need to know that I just did two loads of laundry?

And then there is the stalking aspect of social media. You know what really makes me laugh about "stalking?" If you look at someone's pictures, or you comment about one, or anything like that, they'll say with indignation "were you stalking me?" HELLO, you are the one that put it out there for all to see!

Then there is the drama aspect. You know, the drama I mean. There is always some kind of facebook drama, and it is not just girls involved in it. Someone posts something stupid, or mean, or someone gets jealous b/c they see that two friends were hanging out w/o them, etc., etc., etc.,

You see what I mean? Here is how I know when I am becoming over informed (I still think over informed should be one word, but spellcheck says otherwise!). When I start feeling anxious as I am reading FB, when it starts sucking the life out of me, when I start hating what I read, or it makes me mad (don't act like you have never read something on FB that didn't frustrate you or make you mad) or I feel sad,etc. I take a facebook hiatus, or as someone wrote the other day, I "fastbook." I get offline and do something more valuable with my time.

All that to say, you can be over informed.

I Wonder If He Knows

I wonder if he knows just how incredible he is. I wonder if he knows that he was a beautiful, unexpected, incredible gift to his dad and me. I wonder if he knows that the creative spark he has in him, that burst of energy that says, "Start something new" didn't come from either of us, so it must have been placed deep within him by God. I wonder if he knows that beyond the boundaries of today lies great purpose, big challenges and unforeseeable promise.

I wonder if he knows that all those times he has messed up in life will be outshadowed by all the great things he will someday do. I wonder if he knows that God measures his character, and seeing beyond all of his faults, has destined him for a greater purpose. I wonder if he knows that this "calling" also calls him to live each day with purpose.

I wonder if he knows that he has so much to offer someone who really wants him, who will really love him, and who will never hurt him or want to hurt him. I wonder if he knows that out there in this big world is the woman that God has created to complete him. I wonder if he knows that the first step out of darkness is also the first step toward that someone, the first step toward light. I wonder if he knows he deserves that kind of love?

I wonder if he knows that he can trust again, trust God, trust love, trust people. I wonder if he knows that by trusting, he can finally let go of the past and embrace the future.

I wonder if he could possibly fathom how much he is loved by those who are closest to him.

All that to say, I wonder if he knows.

My Friend, Helen

Helen and I met at church, where I was the Children's Pastor and she was a volunteer. We struck up an immediate friendship because she had the most infectious laugh known to man. She was the kind of person that just lit up a room with her laugh.

Helen was always getting on to me and telling me that I was naughty (which, of course, was TOTALLY not true . . .) and that I was a bad influence on her, and didn't I KNOW that I was a CHILDREN'S PASTOR and there were certain expectations of my behavior. Again, I don't know WHY she said such things to me.

One time, we were walking into church from the parking lot, where they had recently poured these huge concrete speed bumps. To be safe, they had painted them bright yellow so people wouldn't trip over them. So as we were walking, Helen approached the BRIGHT YELLOW speed bump and just went FLYING over it. I know I shouldn't have laughed, but it was funny. I mean, one second we were talking, and the next, Helen was airborne! She did skin herself up pretty badly, so I felt bad for laughing, but she laughed too, which made me laugh all the harder because as I mentioned before she had a very infectious laugh.

That afternoon, when I got to AWANA (where she volunteered), she took my Sparky pin (it's a little mascot character for AWANA) and turned him upside-down and said that until I did a good deed, I had to leave my Sparky upside down. She said that was my punishment for laughing at her in the parking lot. From that day forward, anytime I didn't something she considered "naughty" she would turn my Sparky upside-down.

Fast forward several years, when Mike and I were moving to Georgia. She made me a beautiful red scarf, attached an upside-down Sparky to it, and told me that she wanted to give me something that would always remind me of her, my "Upside-Down Sparky Friend." I still have that scarf, which does always remind me of her, but I have so many other things that remind me of her as well.

Yesterday, my upside-down Sparky friend went to be with Jesus after a lengthy battle with cancer.

All that to say, I love you Helen. Have fun at Jesus' birthday party and I will see you when I get there.

A Series of Choices

"Every day is a series of choices." I say this almost every day to myself and to others. I used to say, "Every day is a choice," but I realized that isn't correct. That sounds like you wake up, you make one choice, and you're done for the day. As though that one choice will be all you have to make for the entire day, and you will be set. Those of you who are more spiritual than I might argue that if I awakened and said, "Today, I choose to live a life that is completely led by God" then my choice-making would be complete. I argue, however, that even in that, I will find myself throughout the day having to make choice upon choice upon choice.

Each day we, I, you are faced with a myriad of small choices. Will I get up when the alarm goes off, or will I push the snooze button? Will I call in sick, or will I go to work? Will I eat a healthy breakfast or skip it all together? Will I try to make it to work on the gas in my car, or will I play it safe and fill it up? There are probably thousands of these types of choices that we make every single solitary day of our lives. And these are the easy choices!

Each day we, I, you are faced with much weightier choices as well. Will I interfere in this situation, or will I trust God with these details? Will I harbor bitterness and unforgiveness, or will I freely forgive others? Will I continue to be angry, or will I release myself from the bondage of my anger? Indeed, will I choose bondage or freedom? Because ultimately, that's what my choices will lead me to, either bondage or freedom.

David said it this way in the book of Psalms, "I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post Your road signs at every curve and corner. I grasp and cling to whatever You tell me; God, don't let me down! I'll run the course You lay out for me if You'll just show me how."

He's saying (I think), "God, today I am on a journey to somewhere. Throughout this day, I am going to come to curves and corners, and I am going to have to make a series of choices about which way I go. And making the right choice isn't going to be easy. I'm going to have to grasp and cling to you in order to make the right choice. Don't let me down, God. I will make the right choice. But I can't do it without you."

All that to say, "Every day is a series of choices." Our journey to somewhere can be so long and so hard somedays. The curves seem bigger, the corners seem tighter and more treacherous, and the road seems longer. On those days, especially on those days, I choose to grasp and cling to the One who knows how to get me where I am going.

It is for Freedom

A week or so ago I was living my life like some sort of caged animal. I could see what I wanted, or what I thought I needed, but events and circumstance of my life made me feel trapped. I felt like I was reliving a familiar story again, and again, and again. I was knee-deep in a situation that I could not, nay should not, control and I felt helpless to extricate myself from it.

Then one morning as I was praying, I read this verse from Galatians 5. It says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." A simple verse, yes, and one that I have read many, many times, but on THIS day, the verse seemed complex, weighty, incredibly deep and life altering. So I read it again. . . "It is for freedom that Christ HAS set us free."

Christ HAS set us . . . me . . . free. Not Christ "Will" set me free, but He has set me free. I am already free. Any bondage I choose to live in is of my own choosing. Paul, in Galatians, says we should live freely. He means "choose freedom." And he means for us to choose it every day. Each day we get to choose freedom or bondage. It's a conscious choice and it has life giving results. He says,

"My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness."

And the compulsions of selfishness he lists are horrendous. Galatians 5

All that to say, I have already been set free. Now, the challenge is to live free. It is for freedom that I have been set free.

Better Living

I have decided that life is something we either choose to live or to survive. I think what made me think this today is that I was looking back through my road trip pictures and realized that most everything we enjoyed was simple life stuff. Sure we enjoyed the museums and the beautiful scenery, but mostly we enjoyed one another.

The things we laughed at the most were just normal things. We laughed about getting caught in the rain, and riding on the subway, and discovering that our windows rolled down in the car. We laughed about getting parking tickets and cows in open fields and horse poop. We people watched and laughed at our own stupidity over people watching.

We savored our meals together and enjoyed really simple foods as much as we did rich fattening ones. We were goofy and gave up being critical and laughed 'til our sides hurt over our own shortcomings. A trip to Walmart was a chance to enjoy one another's company. Wrong turns were cause for laughter and getting lost was just another adventure.

I think we're supposed to enjoy life that way. We could have chosen to get mad over ruined shoes and rain storms. We could have gotten angry over wrong turns in the middle of the night and getting lost even with the help of a navigation system.

But instead, we chose joy. We chose laughter. We chose to enjoy one another and our time together.

All that to say, what if we lived every day like that? What if each day, I chose joy? Better living comes with better choices.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Aunts

I just returned from a 5 day road trip with two of my sister-in-laws and my mother-in-law. We gave my mother-in-law the trip as her 75th birthday present/Christmas present. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard, for so long, for so many days in a row. Laughter really is good medicine.

There is no real way to blog about all 5 days and effectively tell the story, so I will try to just give you the highlights.

On our first day, we arrived in Philadelphia and headed toward Harrisburg where we would spend our first night. The only real plans we had (in concrete) for day one was to stop at Trader Joe's and the local wine shop. Right off the bat, Corri started causing trouble, either that or the locals just didn't like redheads, because as we were leaving Trader Joes, an old woman started backing out her car, COMPLETELY ignoring the fact that Deb was already backing out. Corri looked back at the woman (whom I am guessing did not like Corri's look) and the old woman flipped her off! The old woman had to be in her 70's, which made us laugh! Later in the day, when we were in Intercourse, PA, I saw someone flip someone else off, and our Carriage Tour Guide said that just meant "Welcome to Intercourse." We laughed again, and from that point forward, anytime someone was grouchy (or I couldn't get people to smile for a photo) I would just say, "Welcome to Intercourse!" and everyone would laugh.


On Day two, we had a leisurely breakfast at our hotel (where Sharon made fun of me for how much breakfast I was eating . . . a waffle, some scrambled eggs and bacon . . . not really THAT much food, but whatever!) and headed out to the Hershey factory. Any day that begins with a place called "CHOCOLATE WORLD" is going to be a good day. We had our picture put on the cover of a Hershey bar, and I shared this secret I heard that if you stand on the end of the group being photographed, and put your hand on your hip, it will make you look really thin. When the picture came out, everyone exclaimed how thin I looked and Sharon said, "You should have that blown up b/c that's the best you're gonna look!" More laughter (why does she keep picking on me"!) We had a lot of fun in Hershey, PA and then headed back to Intercourse to find some quilt shops. Corri is not a fan of quilting, so the quilt shops were not the highlight of her trip, but we managed to help her have fun anyway. And we also managed to spend a lot of money on some really beautiful fabrics (WHICH by the way caused us to have to go buy an extra suitcase to get it all home)!

On Day Three, we were scheduled to go to DC to see the Smithsonian but the weather was supposed to be horrible, very very rainy! But we decided to brave the weather, ride the metro from Frederick, MA to DC and check out the National Museum of American History. Deb kept telling us that the neighborhood where she grew up was in the Museum b/c it was the first subdivision in the United States. (This fact, along with the fact that she is related to Jared Ingersoll, Signer of the Constitution, was her claim to fame on the trip). I could not help but point out that my claim to fame was significantly greater than hers, b/c my 5th Great Uncle was also in the museum because he was one of THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES!

Right when we had to leave DC to catch our train, a serious downpour came, and we had to cross Pennsylvania Avenue in the pouring rain! What a sight we must have been! Deb carried one umbrella and Sharon's oxygen, Corri ran in a raincoat with all our purchases stuffed under it, and I carried three purses while holding a broken umbrella over Sharon and I, who was trying to run with a walker in the pouring rain while crossing an INCREDIBLY large street! We laughed so hard when we got across the street. And pretty much instantly it stopped raining.

To top off that day, when we got to the train it was packed, and people were literally shoved up against the walls, doors, seats, one another. It was crazy! The doors even closed on one guy's backpack! At the first stop this massively large man, who was smashed into the back of Corri yelled, "I'm coming out!" and literally shoved his way out of the train. Corri was so mad, I thought she was gonna follow him out and kick his butt. I believe she could have done it!

Day Four was fairly subdued. We went to visit Gettysburg. Deb kept telling us there was a beautiful park there with gorgeous trees and monuments. Every time she described it to someone at the visitor center, no one seemed to know what she was talking about. Finally, we stumbled upon it. Turns out it was a CEMETERY! But it was beautiful (in her defense). Beyond that, unless you count the run in with the local law, and the chair stealing incident, the GPS giving us bad directions, and the midnight run to Walmart to buy extra suitcases, it was a mellow day.


Day Five started a little rough, with Sharon waking up sick. She pulled it together though and we were able to go to Philly for one last day of sightseeing. Before we left the hotel, Corri and I made several trips to the fitness room with our luggage to weigh it all!(Phew, everything under 50 pounds!) Then we went to Historical old Philly, visited Jared Ingersoll's grave (remember, he's why Deb is famous)ate a cheesesteak, and headed to the airport. I had never eaten a cheesesteak before. It was surprisingly very good!


All that to say, we had such a great time! I am exhausted, but refreshed, if that makes any sense at all. We have decided that we have to do this every year. I can just picture us all being a bunch of old ladies taking our annual trip to somewhere. It won't matter where because we will be going together.

This One's For You Tina

I remember the first time I "recall" her. It was on the rec field at 220, and she and another super cute girl showed up with fancy "Texas" hair, all kinds of jewelry, and looking ready for a lot of things, but definitely NOT rec! What a funny memory.

Her first remembrance of me is me speaking at a girl's retreat weekend called "Dear Diary" put on by Shauna Maness. I was undressing on stage and talking about all the things I didn't like about my body (which was not at ALL the point of the lesson, but sadly the part she remembers).

So, our first recollections of one another have to do with her being all dressed up, and me getting naked. This does not make for a good start to a relationship. :)

But today is her birthday, and I wanted to honor her in my blog. So here goes.
You are a funny girl. You make me laugh out loud, lots of times. Like the time you came out of the bathroom at Pappacito's and yelled halfway across the restaurant, "Carol, what are you getting?" and then when the WHOLE table made the "talk softer" hand signal, you got all shy again and said, "Oh, was I loud?" And then there was the time we were all playing dominoes and you looked at my dad and said, "Stop beeping me Gordy." I am sure both of these encounters are not funny to anyone reading this, except for the people who were there, but trust me, it was funny.

You are a sensitive girl. You defend everyone and it is endearing. You always say things like, "I'm sure they didn't mean it like that. They have a good heart. They just were raised differently."

You want everyone to be happy. Which is a nice quality . . . just be careful not to be tooooooooo concerned with everyone else's emotional condition! It'll suck the life out of you eventually!

You have a good sense of style. And I am reasonably sure you have never had a bad hair day! And if you did have a bad hair day, you could just put a headband on and another necklace and it would be a good hair day! (I don't actually like this quality about you for the record. Please, just once, could you look bad!)

All that to say, Happy Birthday to you. Oh, and I took your birthday purse. I liked it.

Twenty Five

Something happens to moms when it comes to celebrating the birth of their children. The day for us is so much more than a party, or presents, or cake and ice cream. Birthdays are remembrance celebrations. When my kids were babies, and then toddlers and then teenagers, I always spent at least part of the birthday day, on my own, just thinking about their lives. Today is no different. Each time one of the boys has a birthday, I take some time, on my own, to sit and think about the life they have lived. I relive good times, hard times, funny things, sad things, lessons learned . . . you get the idea.

Here's my birthday memory from last year

Today is Zack's 25th birth. Twenty-five! How is that even possible?!! In honor of his special day, I have made a list of my favorite things about Zack.

1. He feels everything deeply. If he loves something, he really loves it. If he doesn't love it, he REALLY doesn't love it. If he's happy you know it, and if he's mad, you know that too.
2. He is hysterically funny. He has spent a lifetime making us laugh. You only have to look at our family photos to see this quality in him. There is always at least one where he is trying to kiss Jacob or do something else equally as silly.
3. He has his own sense of style, in a lot of things, but especially when it comes to clothing and hair. I secretly want to be like him, but don't have the confidence.
4. He has a sensitive heart when it comes to people who are physically challenged.
5. He cares about people who others would deem unloveable.
6. He's not afraid to take a stand, but he's wise enough to know when to stand and when not to.
7. He loves his family, especially his little brother.
8. He's so talented. He can't take credit for the gift, but he is responsible with the gift he has been given.
9. He loves Jesus and lives a life that Jesus would be proud of, caring for the things that Jesus cares for.
10. He is such a great son. He's been a blessing from the very first breath he breathed in.

All that to say, Happy Birthday Zack. I love you more than candy.


I was thinking today about how often we use the word hook in our English language, usually with a very negative connotation. I have NO IDEA why I was thinking this, some stream of consciousness I am sure, that led me to think about being let off the hook, which then led to me thinking about letting myself off the hook, and so on. From there, I just started thinking of all the ways we use the word hook.

If someone is addicted to drugs, we say they are "hooked." In fact, if they are addicted to anything, we say they are hooked. If someone meets a random person for an illicit sexual activity, we say they "hooked up." If someone is gullible and believes something stupid, we say they swallowed it "hook, line and sinker." If we catch someone at something and they don't know that they have been caught, we say they are "on the hook". If someone feels guilty about something, but they are clearly innocent, we say they should be "let off the hook."

I guess not all uses of the word hook are bad. A hook in musical terms is a good thing (I remember that from Masters of the Universe - the movie). I even remember when hooking up just meant that you would meet each other later, ie: "Let's hook up later and grab some coffee." BJ Thomas once sang a song called, "Hooked on a Feeling" and that was a happy song.

All that to say, my mind is obviously a mess if this is what I am blogging about!

Life Has a Rhythm

Last night we celebrated Zack's birthday early. He will be 25 very soon. Weird. I have a husband who is a half a century old (older really) and now a son who is almost a quarter of a century old. Yikes. Those words sound old and ominous. In my brain I'm not that old! Of course, my body and wrinkles would tell a different story, but they're liars, so . . .

Our lives are so busy that literally the process of trying to find a free day to go celebrate the birthday was ridiculous. Every day was the same, "What about Friday? I have to work. What about Saturday lunch? I have to work. I have to be somewhere at 2. What about Sunday after church? Okay. No. I have to work." There are four people in this family and everyone of us has a different work schedule. It was maddening.

But alas, we did finally settle upon a date and time (a mere 8 days early!) On Zack's official day, I will write about him (which I am sure he will love) but for today, I just wanted to say that families need to slow down. We are all too busy, all the time. Our lives are flying past us and we are content to watch them do it!

I listened to a Rob Bell message yesterday. It was about rest. He kept repeating this phrase over and over and over. "6 and 1, 6 and 1, 6 and 1."

All that to say, life does have a rhythm. It has a speed that it is designed to be played on. When we play it faster than the speed designed, it just sounds like noise. Slow down.

White Knuckles

One of my least favorite questions to be asked is, "What is God teaching you right now?" If I can't come up with an answer, I feel like they will think me unholy, non-pastoral-like, so I grasp at something that's near the surface and say that.

Unfortunately, the thing that God is usually teaching me isn't near the surface. It's usually pretty far down, and it takes something jarring, some crisis or near crisis event to unsettle it and make it rise to the top.

The last 5 months have been a jarring of a sort. I have ridden a rollercoaster, of my own choosing, and my body and mind have paid the admission price. I cannot sleep. I eat junk. My mind is incapable of holding on to more than just a tiny bit of information in its short term memory bank. I'm cranky. The list could go on.

But this morning, I felt something give way, not a dam of tears, no epic cryfest, it was more of this dawning realization that I am not in control. That try as I might, it is not intended for me to be in control, and the sooner I get that, the sooner I understand that, the more likely I am to finally sleep and to rest.

All that to say, my white-knuckled grip on life needs to loosen up. My fists are sore from being clenched. So for those of you who ask, my answer is this. "He is teaching me that I am not in control. That He's got it. Whatever "it" is. He has it."

Funny Things That Made Me Smile This Week

1. Monday - I wore flip flops to work. It rained. I break.
2. Monday - I got a bad haircut fixed. It was worse. My friend Kim said, "Don't worry, I'll tell you if it's really bad. I'll screech and say, 'oh my gosh, here, take my hat."
3. Tuesday - I saw a 70 year old man in a pink bathrobe picking up his paper. He looked very comfy in it. I smiled.
4. Tuesday - Went to popeyes. Got a spicy breast and a biscuit. The guy at the window said, "You come here a lot. You like our breasts, don't you?"
5. Wednesday - I saw a woman with no shoes on steal a potted plant out of a shopping center planter box. She carried a brown paper bag around with her. A large one. I wonder what else was in there?
6. Thursday - I was driving down the beltway, going around 70 in the left lane. A woman driving a little sports car got so close to me, I couldn't even see her anymore in my rearview mirror. But every now and then she would swerve right and left (I guess so I could see her). She was AAAAAAANGRY! I couldn't move over b/c traffic was heavy. I wanted to slow down. I didn't. But she was AAAAANGRY, and for some reason, that made me smile.
7. Thursday - The AC man fixed my AC. Yay for him. He said, "The wires melted. I fixed them." He said it like it was no big deal. Just the wires MELTING. I love calm people.

All that to say, each day does have something worth smiling about, if you look for it.

Just Another Manic Monday

Yesterday, I "awakened" at around 6:30 a.m. I say "awakened" in parentheses because in truth, I hardly slept at all the entire night. I kept being awakened to pray for someone. At first, I was very graciously obedient. I woke up, and I prayed. I prayed for what seemed like a very long time, and eventually drifted off to sleep. Within moments (or so it seemed) I woke up again, again feeled prompted to pray for the same person. Obediently, again, I prayed. This went on for what seemed like hours, so finally I rolled over and looked at the clock. It was only 12:49! Ugh. It was going to be a long night. And it turned out to be one. Literally all night long, I was awakened to pray for this same person.

This whole prayer process should have been a very sanctified experience, but after a while, I just got frustrated with God (it's not a secret, we've already talked about it). Not only was I NOT sleeping at all because He wanted me to pray for someone. The SOMEONE is someone I'm trying really hard not to be mad at. God is good that way, I guess. As long as I'm praying, it will be really hard to harbor unforgiveness.

Anyway, Monday morning rolled around and I knew I needed to get up for work, but I'm was dang tired that all my body wanted to do was sleep! I decided to check my calendar and see if I had any early appointments, and alas, I had an 8o'clock which meant I HAD to get up, drive to The Woodlands, and keep my 8 o'clock.

By mid-day I had gone to the doctor (he said I was stressed and to get some rest . . . I paid for that diagnosis - seriously.) But he also told me to go do something nice for myself, nice and relaxing. YIPEEEEE.

So, I went and got a haircut, bought two shirts, new jewelry, came home, put the whole new outfit together and went back to work. I felt like a million bucks! Then I realized, "I just had a totally spend-money-to-make-yourself-feel-better manic episode."

All that to say, it was indeed a manic Monday. And I liked it.

Washing Machine Woes

My washing machine makes me so mad. Seriously. I don't know what is wrong with it! First of all, it takes FOREVER to fill up! What should take about 35-45 minutes to be a full cycle, takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. Every cycle that requires the tub to be filled drags out the process. I don't even THINK about a double rinse cycle.

The latest thing is that if I don't remove the clothes immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY, like in less than 30 minutes after the cycle is finished, then all my clothes smell mildewed. It's so gross and so maddening.

Last night, I thought I would do something nice for Zack, because he has been working 7 days a week, so I changed his sheets on his bed. When he got home late, he crawled into his lovely clean bed (at least that's how I pictured it!)

This morning he comes down the stairs into the kitchen and says, "Thanks for changing my sheets . . ." (I can feel the "but" in his voice) . . . "but the sheets were mildew smelling." UGHHHHHHH!!!!!! So frustrating.

All that to say, if you know why such a thing would happen, would you let me know what I do to get my washer fixed?

Not in Control

Sometimes, life isn't funny. Sometimes it's crazy and insane and maddening, but not funny.

Have you ever experienced something in life that was so mind bogglingly difficult that you really did feel like your head might split open from the pressure? It's not a fun feeling. It's even worse when you watch it happen to someone else. There is no real way to help them through it. You can give advice when asked. You can hold their hand. You can give them a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. But there isn't much more that you can do. And if you are a control freak like I am, it is HORRIBLE. But control freaks NEEEEEEEEED to fix things. And not everything can be fixed, at least not easily.

But I have a Love greater than life itself. So the feeling of helplessness, of hopelessness, of being consumed by constant torment and held tight by the tormentor, those feelings have no power of those of us who know that Love. For us, we have prayer. And prayer is something. It is better than something. It is everything. It holds us together. It gives us hope. It gives us something to do. It focuses our minds on the One who is control. It gives us peace. It calms our minds and our hearts and our spirits.

All that to say, prayer is the real work. And the One we pray to . . . He is in control. So we don't have to be.

Nothing IS Better Than Something

My blog, my journal of daily life, filled with random stories, true experiences, struggles, heartaches, joys, moments to celebrate, wrestlings with God, and such . . . my blog has been noticeably vacant.

It's not that I have nothing to write about, it's that I don't know what to do with the emotions that surround what I would write about. So I drive down the road looking for the inane, mundane things of life to write about, thinking that writing SOMETHING is better than nothing. I have chosen the easy road of writing something, but it has not been fulfilling, or particularly well written for that matter.

For you see, SOMETHING isn't better than NOTHING. Something is what we settle for because we are afraid that nothing is all we will ever have. The land of NOthing involves waiting . . . waiting for the RIGHTthing instead of settling for the SOMEthing. Does that make sense to you at all?

Isn't it true of everything in life? We fear having nothing so we settle for something . . . we fear not getting the right job, so we settle for the wrong one? We fear never getting married, so we accept the wrong proposal (not that I did this . . . in case you were wondering). We fear what might never be, so we settle for what is.

All that to say, Something isn't better than nothing. So until I have something to say that is the right thing to say, it is probably better that I say nothing at all.


I went to IKEA today. I sort of love living where I am living right now because it is close to all kinds of AWESOME places, IKEA being one of them. Normally a drive to IKEA has always been like an hour drive, but now I am only like 10 minutes away! I love it. I love to get a basket and wander aimlessly, picking up random things I like but don't need. It's always a two hour trip to IKEA, no matter how big or small the crowd is.

But TODAY I went in with a purpose. I knew exactly, EXACTLY what I wanted! I got a close parking space, grabbed a soda and some free cookies (yum) and headed straight upstairs. Lo and Behold (I have no idea what lo and behold actually means) at the very top of the steps sat the item I needed. "Could this be for real," I asked myself.

The short answer. . . no.

It took me almost 20 minutes to figure out all the pieces I needed to purchase to equal my ONE item. Then it took me almost 20 more minutes to weave through the crowd of people and baskets and strollers and old people and sightseers. I'm not kidding! 20 minutes just to WALK THROUGH Ikea. Arghh.

Then finally I get to where my item is supposed to be, but I can't find it. Up and down the aisles we go, for 10 minutes. Finally, Mike says, "Why don't you ask someone where it is?" Sure . . . why don't I ask someone. Only problem is that means I have to do my LEAST favorite thing at IKEA. I have to try to say the name of the item and not sound stupid. Why can't they just give the items normal names? I get that the store owners are swedish. But seriously, I HATE to say the names of the items there. I was buying the efecktiv today and the numerster. So I had to go ask the customer service rep where the "efecktiv" was located. He smiled. (I know he was making fun of me. I could sense it.) Then he pointed directly behind me and lo and behold (couldn't resist) there it was.

All that to say, I like IKEA. But I am not a fan of Swedish. Or whatever the language is called. I feel dumb. Oh, and, my quick trip to IKEA STILL took me 2 hours. I guess IKEA means 2 hours in Swedish.

A Day of Remembrance

For some reason, I remember it being a rainy day. Maybe it wasn't, and maybe in my mind it was a rainy day because it was such a sad day, and sad days should always be rainy days.

But I remember that I walked into work through the side door, and as I passed Rocky's office, I could hear the tv on. Rocky had brought a tv from home the week before because his wife, Sue, was in New York with a group of friends, and he had wanted to see her on The Today Show and Good Morning America. He just hadn't taken the tv home yet.

As I passed his office, he said, "Did you see this?" And I said, "No, what is it?" He told me there had been a terrible accident and a commercial passenger plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. As we watched, more and more of our co-workers started to arrive at work, and they, too, stopped in Rocky's office to watch the tragedy. We stared at it in horror and while we were watching it, another plane crashed into the other tower. Rocky said in the most somber voice, "People, we are at war."

Within moments, perhaps it was longer, but it felt like moments, the first tower collapsed. Then the second. Then the phones started to ring. The church phone, our cell phones, our office phones. Everywhere, all at once, the phones started to ring.

Later that day, my kids (who were in High School at the time) told me that the exact same thing happened in their classroom. All at once, everyone's cell phones started to ring. No one was sure exactly was was happening, but we all knew that we wanted the same thing . . . to be with the ones we loved, to hear their voices, to know they were okay.

People picked up their kids from school. It's not that we thought our kids were in danger, we just wanted them close. And then we all sat in front of our TV's for days. In horror we watched as ash covered ghosts appeared running down the street; some with bloody streaks seeping through the ash on their faces. In horror we watched as over and over and over again those towers fell on the tv screens. In horror we watched as a wall, a make-shift memorial/missing persons bulletin board, that stretched for what looked like miles, appeared at what would later be called "Ground Zero."

I don't think I will ever forget that day.

All that to say, it is a day to remember those whose lives were lost. Those who lost husbands, and fathers, and sons, and mothers and daughters and grandchildren. It is a day to remember a tragedy that scarred our hearts and our country.


I am THAT person. The one who gets frustrated behind you because you are driving too slow, and so with a grand amount of drama, I pass you, only to slow down a bit when I get right beside you, then look over at you, like I need to see what kind of blankety-blank driver goes so slow. (yes, I said blankety-blank)

My kids hate it when I do this. They always say, "Don't look." But I can't help it. I have to look. Usually, when I look I catch the driver doing something stupid, like putting on make-up. I once passed a woman on the Beltway doing about 50 miles an hour (the speed limit is 65, I probably wanted to go 70). As far as driving on the Beltway goes 50 is slow, but as far as acceptable speeds at which to apply mascara goes . . . SERIOUSLY, she was putting on mascara at 50 MILES AN HOUR!

I've seen crazier though. One time I passed a guy reading a novel. True Story. He had his book propped up on his steering wheel. Flying down the interstate reading a book.

Of course I have passed people doing less crazy things, but none the less, things that caused them not to pay attention to their speed. Things like, talking on the phone, texting while driving, searching for a radio station, looking for something in the backseat, discipling their kids, the list could go on.

But the grossest, by far the GROSSEST thing I have ever seen, I saw yesterday. If you have a weak stomach, do not continue reading. (THAT WAS YOUR WARNING!) Yesterday, coming home from work on the Beltway, I get stuck behind this guy going like 45. So with the usual drama, I pass him, get right up beside him and look over at him. He has his pinky finger shoved so far up his nose, I swear it was completely enveloped by his nose. And right at the moment that I look over, he drags that finger out with the longest, thickest booger I have ever seen in my life. It was (and I am NOT exaggerating) about the length and width of an egg noodle. It was unexpectedly long for him as well, because right as he is dragging this thing out, he gags, which makes me gag. (I told you it was gross.)

Then I realize how long I have been staring at this guy, because there are now cars behind me ticked that I am driving so slow.

All that to say, this experience might have actually broken me from doing the quit-driving-so-slow staredown when I pass people from now on.

To You Oh Lord

An excerpt, a prayer from my journal today. Don't usually share these, but thought it would be encouraging to you. This is the God I love. And maybe the one you love too.

You, oh God, are the creator of the universe.
The maker of life. The giver of hope.
The designer of heaven. The keeper of promises.
The deliverer of captives. The rescuer of the weak.
The mover of mountains.

Nothing is too hard for you, too big for you,
too heavy for you, too complicated for you,
too messy for you, too personal for you.

You see the smallest of problems,
the depths of despair,
the slightest hurts,
the deepest wounds,
the most insignificant of thoughts.

You wage war against our enemy.
You give us strength and a shield,
a helmet and a sword. How great you are indeed.
You are a victorious warrior, a strong tower,
a shelter, a refuge, a rock.

You care deeply for me.
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
You know the number of hairs on my head.
You collect my tears in a bottle.
You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know when I rise and when I go to sleep.

You are my God.
The only true God.
All that you give to me is good.
Even my suffering is good.
You are worthy of my praise.
You alone, are worthy of my praise.

All that to say, God, oh how I love you.

I Really Do Love People

I actually have two stories for today. This morning, I left WoodsEdge Montgomery Community Church, after a fairly, ummmm, non-eventful, but somewhat stressful morning of Children's Ministry. Seeing as how it was almost 12:30 and I had an hour and a half drive home, I decided to stop at Valero and get a fountain coke (THE BEST MIX) and some jalapeno Cheetos.

When I got up to the cash register to pay, I asked the cashier how she was. She didn't look like she was having so great a day, so I guess the timbre of my voice must have sounded particularly compassionate, because she looked up at me and stared a whole through me. After a very pregnant pause, she said, "I'm here. And that's all I can say for today." She sounded so sad.

So I smiled, and said in my best Steel-Magnolias-country-sisters-we're-all-in-this-together voice, "Honey, today I am right there with ya." She smiled. I smiled.

Then she said, "That'll be .99 cents." "Ninety-nine cents?" I asked. (I had chips and a drink which should have been well over two dollars) And she said, "Yep. It's my gift to you, because you actually sounded like you cared how I was when you asked me. Thank you for that."

All that to say, see, I really do love people. :)

Get The Heels

This is the story of the pointy-toed shoes. I love these shoes. I have other pointy-toed shoes, but these are my favorites. I feel special when I wear them. They transform every outfit and turn every frown upside down (yes, I said that.)

I was shoe shopping one day, something I do farrrrrr too often. I was actually looking for a pair of leopard skin pumps. I don't know why, I just wanted some. And when I got to the store, I decided I did not NEED a pair of leopard skin pumps, so I opted instead to buy a pair of boots, which I DID need.

I looked throughout the store, selected a few pairs (pair, pairs?) of different boots to try on, and then walked, boots in hand, up to the counter where I hoped to find a store associate who would help me. As I approached the counter, I saw the funnest (yes, I said funnest) pair of pointy-toed shoes, so I snatched them too, and asked the associate to bring them all out in my dainty size 9.5.

I narrowed my selection down to one pair of boots and of course the pointy-toed shoes. I tried on the boots and walked across the floor. Then I tried on the pointy-toed shoes and walked across the same path. I NEEDED the boots, but my feet looked so great in those pointy-toed shoes. So I tried on the boots again, and then the shoes again, and then the boots again, and then the shoes again.

I looked up at one point and realized there was an older gentleman watching me try on the boots and the shoes over and over and over. He smiled at me. I smiled at him. He asked, "Are you married?" and I said, "Yes." He said, "Get the heels. No question. Your husband will love them." I said, "Are you sure?" He said, "Get the heels. Trust me."

So I got the heels. And he was right. My husband loved them. And everytime I wear those shoes, I think of that old grandpa, saying to me, "Get the Heels."

All that to say, I wonder if he was a shoe angel? Do they have those? Because he was like a little gift to me. And the way I feel in those shoes is . . . well . . . heavenly. :)


Lately, too much "life" has been going on around me. So many things I would love to tell you, my readers, but things so private (if you can even imagine me saying that) that I can't write about them out of consideration for those that are involved.

But I do want to say this. Loving someone can be the hardest thing we will ever do in our lives. True, unconditional, forgiving, genuine love is hard. And the hardest thing of all is learning that we are not loved in return. And with THAT realization comes a choice.

All that to say, when closure feels more like a slamming door, the earth shakes a bit and feels a little less secure. But we do survive and are better for having loved.


I recently traveled to Arizona for my brother's 50th birthday. It's weird to think that I HAVE a brother who is 50, but then when I think about it, I am not that far from 50 myself. Ugh. In my brain, I feel about 32. My body would tell a different story, but my brain and my heart, they still feel really young.

Funny thing about my family, which is probably not a unique story, but we don't really know each other that well due to divorce. Our parents divorced when we were young (11,9, and 7 respectively) and we almost never all lived together after that. There was a year or two when we three kids all lived with the same parent, but those days were very, very rare. Usually two of us lived with one parent and one of us lived with the other and then there would be a fruit basket turnover and things would be different for a few months or a few years. This went on until we were in our teens. From that point forward, I lived with Mom and the boys lived with Dad. My younger brother, Dewey, and I have always been close, even before the divorce, but somehow remained connected over the years, and are close today. But Carl (the older brother) has pretty much always been distant. I used to think it was a defense mechanism (life was hard in our family as a kid, very hard) that kept him separated from us, maybe it was.

But here we are 50, 48 and 46 and just now we are starting to become a family again. Carl, at 50, has decided that he wants to know his brother and sister. I am happy that he has reached that place. I hope that it will be the first step to peace for him. He's had a tough life.

It was weird being at the birthday party of my 50 year old brother and feeling like I don't know him at all. Truthfully, all I really know of him are the tragedies in his life. I don't know his hopes or his dreams or his aspirations. I don't know what kind of food he likes or if he's allergic to anything or what his favorite tv show is. I know he has a mullet (a source of amazement for me) and I know he likes motorcycles and drives a Harley.

All that to say, I'm glad that each new day God gives us a second chance at something. This is a second chance for three little kids to actually become brothers and sisters.

The Best and the Worst

I remember a lot of years ago, when the first and second Harry Potter books came out, people, mostly parents, were constantly asking me my opinion about Harry Potter books and whether or not their kids should be able to read them. Then the movies came out and that created a whole other "stir" about Harry Potter. I did not offer my "opinion" for a long time, because it would be just that, my "opinion" and nothing more. Finally, I did give my opinion in the form of a newspaper column. I don't think it was the scathing "anti-Harry" report most of my Christian friends were waiting for. But nonetheless, I wrote it, finally weighing in on the whole Harry Potter thing. (By the way, my son told me the other day he saw a church sign that said something like "Jesus, the real Potter." HA!)

Of late, I have been asked to weigh in on the whole "should kids have a Facebook page or not" thing. I have hesitated, again wondering if the world really needed another opinion about Facebook. But after continued questioning from parents, I have decided to give my two cents worth.

Let me begin by saying that we must always remember that the www we type into a web address stands for "world wide web." World Wide means everything that is good in the world and everything that is bad in the world is at the fingertips of your child. Never, ever, ever should your child have unsupervised access to the Internet.

Facebook requires that you be a minimum of 13 years of age to set up a Facebook page. There is a reason for that. Their disclaimer says this: "Despite Facebook's safety and privacy controls, Facebook cannot guarantee that its site is entirely free of illegal, offensive, pornographic or otherwise inappropriate material, or that its members will not encounter inappropriate or illegal conduct from other members. Consequently, you may encounter such content and conduct."
Think about the ads that your young child is seeing over in that right hand column. Think about the wall posts that he/she is reading in their news feed. Think about the photos they are exposed to and decide whether or not they should be seeing these things.

Also, because Facebook requires your child to be 13 to have a Facebook page, if you are aware of this policy and let them get a page, then you also are aware that they are having to lie about their age to sign up. You are condoning this lie. I saw a mom once at a movie theater buying movie tickets for her kids. Two were preteens or young teens and one was obviously much younger. The mom asked for one adult and three kids' tickets. One of the young teens whispered, "If you say he's under 5 he is free." The mom answered, "That's true, but my integrity is worth more than $3.50 to me." That scenario plays out in my head every time I see parents lie for their children or even every time I am tempted to lie about something. I ask myself, "How much is my integrity worth to me?" So parents, think about what you are telling your kids when you are willing to lie in order for them to get their very own Facebook page.

And lastly, there are so many things in the world that we have to wait to be a certain age to do. Some of these things are good, and some of them are not so good. Have you ever noticed that the things that are not so good for us are the ones we lie about our age to do?

All that to say, being "online" requires a lot of maturity and responsibililty. You know your child better than anyone else. Do they have the maturity to be on a social networking website before the established age? Only you can answer that question.

The Table

I just got home from Preteen Camp. I have so many "moments" that I could blog about, but I decided to blog about "The Table." A few years ago, I heard a message taught by a guy named Rodney Anderson. The message was entitled "The Table." It told the story of how the Jews celebrated the passover meal by "remembering" what God had done for them. He told of how each person told stories of old, stories of Moses and Noah and David, as though they, themselves had lived them.

That same summer, I was leading a preteen camp and we were trying to decide how to celebrate communion and at the same time, make it unique and different and something the kids would never forget. So I told my team about "The Table." And we chose to celebrate communion that way. Each of us, children and adults alike, telling our rememberances of all God had done as though we, ourselves, had lived the moment. But we also included moments from the life of Christ, as though we ourselves were there. Wow. What an incredible communion service. It truly was a celebration and the first time that I think I actually understood what Jesus said when he said, "As often as you do this, remember me."

Fast forward four years. This morning we celebrated communion again with children ranging from 8-13 years of age. And we celebrated it the same way. This year though, they added their remembrances from the week of camp. "I remember that on Monday night I asked Jesus to be my Savior." Or "I remember on Wednesday when God showed me that I was holding on to bitterness, and I let it go."

There was this one little boy at camp, though, that had really struggled to make good choices all week. When it came time to celebrate communion, he said, "I remember . . ." and then he couldn't speak. He could only cry. He said, "I can't do this. I owe you all an apology for my behavior this week." And when he was finally able to talk again he said, "But I remember this week that Pastor Greg said that God teaches us that our past is the past. And today I can choose to let go of the past and live for Him." "I remember that God loves me." And then he ate the bread and drank the cup in a worthy manner.

All that to say, people doubt that children have the capacity to truly and deeply understand the things of God. But I don't doubt it. Not for a second.

Baby Steps

My son, Jacob, my "baby" is graduating from college tomorrow. It's a weird feeling I have about all of this. His brother, my oldest son, Zack, graduated a year ago, and that felt pretty awesome. And while this feels joyous, and worthy of a celebration, it feels a little bit like the official book of childhood is closed. My "children" are officially not "children" any longer.

Oh, I know they have been grown-ups for a while now. I "get" that 23 and 24 are ages of adults. But this . . . this marker, it makes it official.

It feels like getting to the end of a book, closing the cover, breathing in a heavy sigh, rubbing the back of the book cover, and placing it on a shelf. Childhood is over. Gone are the toddling steps. Gone are the glances over the shoulder on the first day of school. Gone are nervous jitters as they pull out of the driveway for their first solo drive. Gone is childhood. And that feels a little final.

But the baby steps of adulthood are here. They are off to find jobs and the wives that God has set aside for them. Off they go to live their lives, free from the incumberances of parental boundaries.

All that to say, I should feel free, but I feel, well . . . I don't really know.

Perfectly Me. True Story.

My son made me a little plaster dish once. It was perfect. It was a perfect rusty brown color. It had the most perfect dimpled texture. It had the most perfectly crooked handle, which served absolutely no purpose, but apparently he thought it needed a handle in order to be complete. It had a perfectly rough scratchy bottom that allowed it the ability to rock unsteadily on my table, while simultaneously etching the wood that it rested on. I loved it. And I especially loved it because I loved him and because he loved me enough to make it for me.

Imagine if when presented with said gift I had said, "Oh thank you. It's so pretty. I just wish it wasn't this ugly rusty brown color. I wish it was green. I always wanted a green dish." And then imagine if I followed up with "I don't know why you put a handle on it though. The dish is way too big for this tiny little handle. If I even tried to hold it by the handle, the handle would probably fall off. I would have made the dish smaller or the handle bigger." And what if I added, "Why didn't you make it have a smoother surface like the one that Johnny's mom got? Her's is really smooth and I'll bet it doesn't scratch her furniture either."

And then what if at the end of all that, I finished with, "You know what? I'll bet if we take it to the pottery repair store, they can make it perfect!"

I am pretty sure he would have been crushed. All that time he spent in creating something because of his love for me would have been wasted and his heart would have been smashed.

I think that must be how God feels when we talk about all the things we wished we had instead of what He gave us. I am never going to be 6 feet tall. He made me this height for a reason. I'm never going to have a perfectly flawless olive complexion. I am always going to be pale and freckled, because He made me this way. I might someday be a rock star, but I doubt it, because He gave me a different set of gifts.

I wonder if I lived my life in love with the creation that He made, what would my life be like? I wouldn't be jealous of other people's looks or personalities or gifts. I would know that I was created with incredible love by a Creator who made me perfectly me.

All that to say, just love yourself for who you are. Don't spend your life wishing you were someone else, with someone else's talents and gifts and looks and personalities. You have it all! And you are perfect. So am I. True story.

Why Don't People Get This

I work in a Children's Ministry. In many people's eyes, my job is to provide really incredible babysitting that kids will look forward to being a part of. Of course, what I do is so much more than that! But that's another blog!

Some people actually understand that we cannot simply hire paid childcare workers to provide care for hundreds of children at a time, and therefore "get" that we are going to need volunteers. When that little nugget sinks in, they begin to see me as the head recruiter. This realization leads to some odd behaviors. People stop smiling at me or making eye contact, for fear that I might ask THEM to be one of those volunteers who sits in a classroom trying to teach big abstract God-Sized concepts to people who are still concrete thinkers! They will cross to the other side of the hallway or pretend they don't know me in the grocery store.

But here's the thing. I don't want people to serve in Children's Ministry because we need a warm body in the room. Warm bodies start to stink pretty quickly. I want people to serve because it will change their lives forever. FOREVER. We were created to invest in others. We were created to serve and love one another. So when I ask you to serve, it isn't because I need YOU, it is because YOU need me (well, maybe not me and maybe not even my ministry) but YOU need to serve someone, somewhere.

All that to say, why don't people get that concept? Serving makes you a better person. It makes you a happier person. It makes you a more generous person. It makes you a better spouse, parent, friend, and co-worker. It increases the depth of your worship. Try it today. Give yourself away.

Am I a Crazy Driver or Just Crazy?

I have a really bizarre thing that I do while I am driving. Well, I probably have many things that I do that are bizarre while driving, but one in particular is really weird. I don't even know why I do it. I have conversations with the people who are driving around me, you know, the ones in the other vehicles. I typically do this when said drivers have annoyed me for some reason, which sadly happens often. (I have got to get this road rage under control! Darn that Atlanta traffic!)

Usually the conversations go something like this: Let's say I see someone weaving while driving, or veering suddenly to one side of the road or the other. I might say to them (out loud mind you) "Hey Billy Bob, your beer bottle roll under the seat or something? You might want to just grab another one out of the cooler and let that one go before you kill us all."

Or say I see someone who doesn't seem to understand that the numbers on the black and white sign are telling you how fast you should be driving! I might say something like, "Yo, Soccer Mama, you trying to get your lipstick straight or you working on next week's playdate schedule? I'd like to get there today, so if you don't mind, could you press the pedal on the right and try DRIVING!!"

Sometimes, I am so funny that I make myself laugh out loud. Today I made myself laugh so hard that I sprayed tea out of my nose! I don't even remember what I said but I got tickled about it, and pretty soon I was giggling, and then I was just outright laughing.

All that to say, does it make me crazy that I talk to these people as if they can hear me? Please tell me you do weird things like that when you are driving!

The Drought Is Over

What a crazy couple of weeks. I spent nine days in Irapuato, Mexico, on a mission trip with some friends from Crossroads Baptist Church. It felt a little like old home week, like slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers. The highlights of the week were many, including an "impromptu" night of childcare for 30 kids in a 10 by 10room for TWELVE Hourse, and getting stuck in a broken, dark elevator for 37 minutes with four Mexican nationals who spoke no English, and one of whom was SEVERELY claustrophobic! (Traci, all I could think of was how glad I was that you were not there with me!) Did I mention there was a baby in there with us too? But God also did some pretty incredible things while we were there. I saw a man get saved while learning the Star-Spangled Banner. True Story.

The next week was followed by a trip to GA to move out all of our personal belongings because we FINALLY leased our house after being on the market for two years. On Monday morning, I wanted to call the moving company to ask what time they would be there, but I didn't have their phone number. But never fear, I had my iphone with me, so I simply looked up their number on the internet. Much to my surprise, I could not find their phone number, but I did find 127 complaints against said moving company, so I fired them before they ever showed up!

Luckily, I was able to secure another moving company who said they could be there on Tuesday! On Tuesday they called to say it would be Wednesday. So I called the airlines and changed my flight (and of course paid the ridiculous change fee to do so!) On Wednesday, they let me know of ALL the things they could not ship or store and that I would have to move myself. So I cancelled my flight (and of course paid another RIDICULOUS change fee) and rented a uhaul. I was supposed to leave GA around 1-2 on Thursday with my uhaul full of goods, but unfortunately the moving company did not show up until 1 o'clock. I finally left at 10 p.m., drove until my sleepy eyes would not let me drive any further, and then slept at a Sleep Inn (it wasn't too bad actually!) That was followed by a 13 hour drive in a Uhaul with no cd player, a pretty horrendous AM/FM radio, crank up windows, and shocks from hell.

All in all, it has been a pretty decent two weeks though. I got to see God work in ways that shock me and remind how BIG my God is, and I got to finally move forward with the continued saga of our house in GA.

All that to say, the drought is over. I am back home, blogging and painting. Stay tuned.

Note to Self

This morning, as I was driving to work, I saw a very funny sight, which shall delight me possibly the entire day. I saw a somewhat attractive (ok, totally hot) guy, probably 35-40 something, driving a royal blue PT Cruiser. That in itself is pretty funny, and a little sad, but the funny part is that he was tailgating an old guy in a sportscar. Stay with me here.

Not only was he tailgating the old guy in the sportscar but he had the most horrific case of road rage I have seen in a long time (excluding of course the time I saw a guy get out of his car and bash in someone's window with a baseball bat because they missed the "green arrow"). Anyway, so here is this hot guy in a ROYAL BLUE PT Cruiser, tailgating a sportscar and waving his hands and beating the steering wheel of his PT CRUISER and shaking his fist and obviously DISTRESSED because the old guy is not going fast enough.

We were on a feeder, ALL going about 5 miles an hour, so I'm not exactly sure where PT Cruiser man thought he was going to go, but he saw me notice his rage, then he flashed his beautiful teeth at me, raked his hand through his hair, and waved a very flirtatious wave.

Seriously dude, you are driving a PT Cruiser, and I just saw you have a meltdown because you can't drive faster? And your response is to flirt? Oh my.

All that to say, I am sure this does not translate nearly as funny as it was. But it made me smile. And I am smiling now. And I will probably smile again later. And I bet when I have road rage next time, I'm gonna remember that guy and how dumb he looked, and I'm gonna feel pretty dumb myself. Note to self, avoid road rage.

Lies, Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Have you ever found out that someone was lying to you, but they didn't know that you knew? It's an interesting dilemma really. Here are your options as I see them:

1. Tell them you know, confront the lie, have an open discussion and move on. (Seems like a good choice)

2. Keep silent, hoping they will come clean. (I have not found this to be a good practice as it just makes you more and more angry the longer they take to spill the beans. ESPECIALLY since you are hoping they will choose to come clean!)

3. Keep silent, and let them continue to spin their web of lies until eventually they catch themselves.

4. Or, you can keep silent, enjoying that you know, but that they don't know that you know and watch to see just how long they will keep up the subterfuge. (Trust me when I tell you, this is definitely the worst option!)

All that to say, just tell the truth. It's easier. And the truth always finds a way.

Make the Wise Choice

We teach our kids in church to "make the wise choice." Almost every weekend they hear some version of that statement. "I need to make the wise choice." "I should make the wise choice." "God wants me to make the wise choice."

But making the wise choice just seems to be so difficult. Paul(from the Bible) said this, (my paraphrase) "I find this law at work within me. The good that I set out to do, that I know is the right thing to do . . . I never seem to choose to do that, but instead do the very thing that I DON'T want to do, the very thing that I swore I would never do." Even Paul, this great superhero of the Bible recognized the struggle that is within us, fighting to do good, but doing evil instead.

Each of us, on any given day, can make the wrong choice, the unwise choice. We have stolen conversations with people we shouldn't, linger in places we don't belong, look at and listen to things that aren't good for us, feed our addictions, whatever they may be. You name it. The opportunity to "do evil" is at every turn.

But David said this, "Where can I go that you are not there? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I go down to Sheol, you are there. Whether in darkness or light, you are there. For the darkness and the Light are the same to You (God)."

All that to say, I think that if we stop and remember that indeed God is everywhere we are, making the wise choice wouldn't be so hard.

Being Teachable

I have heard many times over the past few years the phrase, "teachable spirit." It's been used in sentences like, "He really has a teachable spirit." Or "I think you can say that to her, she has such a teachable spirit."

What I have come to understand this to mean is that having a teachable spirit means you are open to learning things about yourself, even things that are not easy to learn. It means you are able to hear hard things about yourself and not shoot the messenger, but instead value that the person cared enough about you to tell you what you needed to hear.

The reality is, most of us don't like to think about our flaws. We know we have them. We just don't like to identify them (or worse yet, have them identified for us) and work on them and change and become better people. Most people are not good at hearing the hard stuff.

Those rare people who are able to take it in, glean the truth, grow from it, and become better for it . . . those are the teachable people. Those are the people with "teachable spirits."

Being teachable isn't easy. It requires introspection. It requires you to lay down your pride. It requires you to take a step back and not react defensively. In short, it requires humility. Jesus said this in Matthew 18:4, "So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."

All that to say, true greatness comes not from being an expert, nor from being skilled or accomplished at your craft, nor from being well-educated or clever. True greatness comes from being teachable. And teachability comes from humility. Which in turn, leads to greatness. At least that's what Jesus said. Are you teachable? Am I?

Those Annoying Survey Things

About once a week I get one of those "25 Things About Me" survey things where people tell us "secret" stuff about themselves. I usually, well . . . most of the time . . . I read them and then hit delete. Well I got one the other day that was quite possibly one of the funniest ones of these I have ever read. (This was copied w/o permission, so the author's name is not included. But he knows who he is.)

40 "Secrets" about yourself.
Be honest.
Answer these 40 questions. Have fun

1 - Have you ever been asked out?
I've been asked to leave. Does that count?

2 - Where was your default picture taken?
Holding cell, Third Precinct. Or so they tell me.

3 - What's your middle name?
The one between my first and last names. Duh!

4 - Your current relationship status?
A little rocky. I'm hoggin' the computer.

5 - Does your crush like you back?
Better than she likes my front.

6 - What is your current mood?

8 - What color shirt are you wearing?
Flesh tone.

9 - Missing something?
Yeah, my shirt.

10 - If you could go back in time and change something, what would you do?
I'd answer question three differently.

11 - If you must be an animal for one day, what animal would you be?
What day?

12 - Ever had a near death experience?
Death sat down by me at a movie once. Screamed like a girl during the scary part, jumped out of his seat and knocked my popcorn over with his sickle.

13 - Something you do a lot?
Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself.Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself.Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. Repeat myself. (Told ya.)

14 - The song stuck in your head?
"O Fortuna" by The Clash.

15 - Who did you copy and paste this from?
Doris Kearns Goodwin. (Hahahahahahahah!)

16 - Name someone with the same birthday as you?

17 - When was the last time you cried?
When Death spilled my popcorn.

18 - Have you ever sung in front of a large audience?
Yes. Unfortunately, it was Willie Nelson's audience and I don't think he appreciated the backup vocals on "Whiskey River."

19 - If you could have one super power what would it be?
Popping the car lock with the coat hanger on the first try.

20 - What's the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Personality. (And the first thing they notice about me is that I'm a huge liar.)

21 - What do you usually order from Starbucks?
A Happy Meal. You should see the looks on their faces!

22 - What's your biggest secret
I'm not taking this quiz very seriously. (Don't tell!)

23 - Favorite color?
Plaid. (I have trouble with indecisiveness.)

24 - Do you still watch kiddie shows or tv shows?
Only if you count Joel Osteen.

25 - What's on your walls?

26 - What are you?
The square root of sixty-two.

27 - Do you speak any other language?
No hablo nada mas Ingles. Tengo el regalo de lenguas pero no tengo el regalo de interpretation, asi es que no tengo ninguna idea que digo ahora.

28 - What's your favorite smell?
The inside of my nose. Which is a good thing.

29 - Describe your life in one word.
Word. (Doesn't work very well, but I don't think it would help if I got to use "word" a lot of times. "Word word word." Nope.)

30 - Have you ever kissed in the rain?
I've been maced while kissing. Does that count?

31 - What are you thinking about right now?
What I'm thinking about right now. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle makes the question unanswerable.

33 - What should you be doing?
Glen Close is a guy.

34 - Who was the last person that made you upset/angry?
Glen Close for refusing to admit he's a guy.

35 - How often do you talk to God?
Seldom, but I do follow his tweets.

36 - Do you like working in the yard?
Scotland Yard? Longest Yard? Harvard Yard?

37 - If you could have any last name in the world, what would you want?
Even if I could have any last name in the world, I think what I would want would still be a bulldog.

39 - What is your natural hair color?
See the answer to #8.

40- What do you want to be when you grow up?

All that to say, now THIS is revealing information. If we are going to fill out these things and make other people read them, they should be this entertaining!

Box Seats

I have a fairly strong tendency to hyperspiritualize (to make spiritual analogies from EVERYthing). I don't know why I do this, though I credit it in part to my friend Doug Jackson who once made a spiritual analogy from a barbie lying in the middle of the road. And I can't seem to stop myself.

This talent came in quite handy when I had to tell a story once a week to kids at AWANA (I discovered they like those "real life" stories much more than the ones AWANA was sending me . . .sorry, it's true). So I would tell them a story about something that had happened to me during the week, and I would draw a spiritual conclusion from the occurence.

Sometimes it's annoying though, and I am sure it annoys my peeps. And yet, I do it. In fact, I'm going to do it now.

A few weeks ago, I went to an Astros game for my birthday. I kept thinking to myself how awesome it would be if I could get my picture made with Barbara Bush. But the more I thought about this, the more I realized I would never get CLOSE ENOUGH to have my picture taken with her. I'm not that important, and I don't know anyone important enough to make that happen. So I settled for just seeing her from afar. But alas, she didn't even show up to the game (I had heard they don't miss a home game!) I was so disappointed.

Later, I actually wrote this in my journal, "The privilege to tarry with you Lord is something that I take for granted. I realized this today because I had been dreaming about getting my picture taken with Barbara Bush . . . Not only was that not possible, but she didn't even show up at all. And that made me think, I have complete and total access to you Lord. Everything that would have kept me from you, every barrier was torn down when Jesus died. And you always show up when I do Lord. You never fail to meet with me. I should appreciate that freedom so much more than I do."

All that to say, I have a backstage pass. I should use it more.

Flawed in Layers

I am Jacked Up. My more religious followers might say, "Messed Up" or "Flawed" and my less religious followers might say something altogether different! But I am jacked up. This is not a new realization for me. I have known this for a while. A good while actually.

And the interesting thing about being jacked up is that I am jacked up in layers. The discovery of my flaws is an ongoing process, a process I fear might take a lifetime to accomplish. And yet one that I look forward to completing.

Each day I say, "God, if there is something in me that I am aware of or unaware of that you would desire to see changed in me, would you reveal it to me, and then help me to change it."

And yet, here's the thing. Each new day God may or may not reveal something to me. But when He does, I never feel like He is pointing out my flaws. I feel like He is helping me to grow and change and become who He wants me to be. Somehow, throughout my layers of flaws, He sees beauty. And He wants me to see it too. But He never makes me feel like He's disappointed in me. How does He do that? How does He refine me and yet make me feel perfect to Him?

All that to say, I am grateful that there is always someone in my life that loves me unconditionally, who sees who I am, beyond the flaws on the outside, to the beauty on the inside.

Love Requires Someone to Sacrifice

For the past week, I have been in Atlanta, GA, where I STILL have a house for sale? Tired of hearing that? You can't be more tired than I am of living it! Oh Lord, please let my house sell. . .

How's that for an entrance? :) tee hee

I will say, though, that I enjoyed the trip for the most part because I got to see some old friends and catch up, and because I got to spend over 20 hours in a car with one of my kids, and that kind of quality time doesn't grow on trees.

Zack and I had some pretty great talks along the road. He's quite the conversationalist when he chooses to be. I truthfully expected him to sleep the whole way, so I was very pleasantly surprised when he chose to stay awake and talk with me. We had some crazy conversations, including a lesson on how to talk in "CB LINGO." (Very funny). One particular conversation we had though was very impactful. I hope he won't mind that I share it with you.

We were talking about love because of something I had written a few weeks back. In the midst of the conversation Zack said, "But that's the thing about love. It requires someone to make a sacrifice." He went on to say some pretty wise things about love, being in love, and loving others. The gist of his words were this . . .
Everyday, when you love someone, you have to make some kind of sacrifice for the relationship. Maybe you sacrifice where you want to live (the city or the burbs, a house or a condo) or maybe you sacrifice how you want your bedroom decorated, or what kind of dog you want to have. Or maybe you sacrifice something big, like a dream, or a fear or a desire. But you do it because you love, not because you fear losing love if you don't. And though sacrifice is often hard, the decision to sacrifice is easy. You do it because you love.

Not to hyperspiritualize, but that sounds a lot like what Jesus would do.

All that to say, that zack.jones is wise.

Home Sweet Home?

This is a first for me today but I am blogging via my iPhone. I am in GA, and my neighbor, whose network I had planned to log onto is out of town and so I can't get his password. Thus, the iPhone blogging. Zack and I drove here yesterday bc he had some music stuff to do and I needed to check on the house. Originally I wasn't going to come bc we had just checked on the house 8 weeks ago, but I am glad I did!

We got here about ten last night. We could have gotten here sooner but didn't see the need to since we knew there was no tv or Internet at the house. But when we arrived, we arrived to no power! It was pitch black! But lucky for us we were armed with our iPhone flashlight apps so we headed down to the basement to check out the breaker box. I couldn't help but think as we were walking down into the black cold basement looking like nerds with our phone flashlights "isn't this what stupid people in horror movies do?"

But long story short, the power was off bc someone who shall remain nameless hasn't paid the bill in months! He said he didn't notice we haven't gotten one. I estimate the power got turned off about 30 days ago. One month with no power in a furnished but vacant home. . . Not so good. The refrigerators had all molded. And the ice in the ice maker had melted, so when I opened the freezer door (in the dark mind you) water went everywhere! The toilets also molded bc the water in the toilet bowls had almost totally evaporated and turned into a pink sludge. The insect population had risen dramatically so bugs were everywhere, many of them dead in the tubs and window sills.

In general, it is a disgusting mess. No outlet mall for me today! But I am glad I am here. And glad I didn't wait until the fourth of July to come and check on the house! And at the moment, I am sitting in my favorite chair blogging, sipping coffee, and getting ready to read my Bible. Some things don't change. And that's a good thing.

All that to say, I am thankful at this moment for the comfort of my chair and my coffee and my Bible. Bring on the day!

God Teaches Like a Preschool Teacher

I used to think that God spoke to me in puzzles and riddles, which seemed awfully unfair, because if His message was so important, why didn't He just come right out with it? Why didn't He "plain speak" it?

But recently I have come to notice that God teaches like a Preschool Teacher. He repeats the same message to me over and over and over and over and over, each time in a new and different way, so that at some point the message hits me and sinks in.

All that to say, repetition is a beautiful gift.

Purple Toes and Jesus

I think that as far as feet go, mine are really fairly normal. They aren't overly long, or overly skinny. My toes aren't terribly odd shaped (although I do have tiny baby toenails that some people laugh at!) My arches are high, but that's about the most noticeable thing about my feet. As far as I know, my feet don't send anyone screeching in horror.

I do have a few friends who have some, shall we say "unique" qualities to their feet. I have a friend with webbed toes. I have a friend who is missing a toenail on her big toe (like permanently doesn't grow . . . don't know why . . . never explored it with her) but for the most part, even my friends' feet are normal. So I don't think that I have ever really given great consideration to how awful it would be to be a pedicurist (don't know if that's a word).

Until yesterday. I was sitting at the nail salon, breathing fumes and reading all about Brad and Angie's marriage (they thought after 3+ kids together they should get married), getting my toenails done when I happened to look over at the person sitting two chairs down. Her feet were purple. I mean PURPLE. From the tips of her toes to as far up her leg as I could see, PURPLE. And her toes were all curly. Not her toe "nails," her toes. Curly. Or as Meredith Gray would say, "dark and twisty." And they were HUGE. Purple and curly and huge. And so I looked up to the woman who was attending to these feet. Her face didn't look twisted in horror at the feet she was washing. Truthfully, she looked happy. Honestly. She looked happy. And she just carried on the nicest conversation with the woman with the purple feet.

I must say, I was intrigued. Though I kept staring at the purple, curly-toed feet, I was way more intrigued by the nail technician and her happiness. I saw no judgment on her face. I saw no disdain. She actually seemed to enjoy the moment she was in and the person she was with. And I thought to myself, I wish I was like her. I wish I could look beyond what I can see and just truly love the people that God brings into my life.

All that to say, I saw the love of Christ lived out yesterday. But I saw it in a buddhist, vietnamese nail technician.

Voted Wicked, Counted Upright

I have a friend who is much older than me and very wise. She told me the other day that one of the things that she has always struggled with is trying to talk "her point" to death. (This is sooooo me!) She did it with her kids, her husband, her employees, her friends. I was not terribly surprised that she had faults, but I was surprised that she still struggles with them. Truthfully, I would not have thought that she struggled with anything!

This morning I was reading Proverbs Chapter 10, and I paused at verse 22. It says, "When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise." True story. Perhaps someone should write a technologically advanced translation that would say "When there are many typed words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his fingers is wise." HA!

Proverbs 10-18 NINE CHAPTERS is a contrast of the upright and the wicked. God devoted 9 chapters of writing IN A ROW to contrast the upright and the wicked. Just in case you or I should read one chapter and vote ourselves upright, the Lord gives us 8 more chapters to understand that we, no matter how hard we try, will eventually find ourselves in the wicked column. At some point, we will read a scenario that helps us see that we, too, are wicked. But thank God for the blood of Christ that covers our wickedness and allows us to walk blameless before Him.

All that to say, I vote myself wicked, but am counted among the upright by the One who counts the votes. Thank you Jesus.

God on the FM Dial

If you have never listened to Tony Evans, then you are missing out. I remember the first time I heard Tony Evans on the radio, he said this, "If you let the devil ride in the backseat long enough, pretty soon, he's gonna wanna drive." He always has those kinds of little sound bites. They stick with you for a long time.

Today as I was riding home, he was talking about the goodness of God. He said, "We are so quick to dismiss the goodness of God. We can go for 10 years at a job we love, doing work we love, and we can just be so happy and in love with God and telling God how good He is. But if something happens to that job, if we go one day without that job, then all the sudden, God ain't so good no more." He went on to say that we are so used to measuring God by the good that happens in our life, that when something not so good happens, we are certain that God must not actually be good and that we must have somehow been mistaken. Our view of His goodness can change on a dime based on how we feel or how we perceive things.

He went on to talk about how we treat others that way as well. We can have people in our lives that we love and that we just enjoy our happy little relationships with (his words) but then something happens and we suddenly toss out every good thing that ever happened and determine the whole thing, the whole relationship was a farce and never was a good thing at all. He talked about friendships and marriages and parent-child relationships all being this way.

He talked about Colossians 3:13-14 (which was so weird because I had just talked about that this morning!) and how we should bear with one another and forgive one another and put love over everything (filter everything through love).

All that to say, I love how God speaks to us through His Word, and when we don't listen, He uses the radio! HA!

A Repost Worth ReReading

I wrote this several months back, but was reminded of it today and think it bears reposting. I have NUMEROUS friends and family members who are struggling in some relationships right now, and I thought this was worth rereading.

"Relationships are complicated. Every type of relationship is complicated. They are like a tricky dance that you keep trying to learn, but everytime you think you have mastered the steps you either step on your partner's feet or they step on yours, and you realize you have not mastered the dance at all.

Really, no matter the relationship. Husband to wife, parent to child, sibling relationships, romantic relationships, friendships, employment relationships, they are all tricky.

All that to say, that's really all I have to say. Relationships are tricky, and complicated, and messy, and sometimes not worth the mess. But usually, they are. And that's what makes the dance worth the risk."

A Little Humor for Today

This morning, as is my usual habit, I got dressed for work in a very routine fashion. My ritual looks the same every morning, which I suppose is why it is called a ritual. First I wake up, lay my hand on my husband's back and silently pray over him. Then I get up, turn on the shower (because it takes FOREVER for the water to get hot), go start the coffee and then come back and get in the shower.

Once I finish in the shower and dry off, etc., I go iron my clothes, put on my jeans (almost every day) and then pull on my undershirt. I don't put my regular shirt on until just right before I leave because I don't want it to get covered in hair when I blowdry my hair, and I don't want to get makeup powder on it. So it's the last thing that goes on. Stay with me here . . .

So, I accomplish all the regular details, shower, coffee, jeans, quiet time, hair, then make-up. Finally, just before I leave, I pull on my outer shirt. THIS morning, I did all of that and once I had put on my outer shirt, I realized that I hadn't yet brushed my teeth, so I walked into the bathroom.

When I looked into the mirror, I busted out laughing. I have a collar on the shirt that I am wearing today that is ruffled. Well, apparently the way that I ironed it caused it to stand straight up, so I looked like I had on a clown shirt! It was hysterical. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. Just think, if I hadn't gone back into the bathroom, I would have gone to work that way and would have had to walk around in my clown shirt all day! Plus, I would have NEVER lived it down.

All that to say, a last check in the mirror shall be added to my routine for sure!