Motown Sunday

I need to paint the bathroom. I started painting it last night, but frankly, it was boring, and I just couldn't make myself finish it. But Mike is coming home tonight (he's in Georgia) and I told him, . . . no I promised him, I would finish the bathroom. After all, he did all the sheetrock work, and the floating, and the sanding, and the texturizing. I SHOULD be able to get it finished! I had three days!

So today after church, I put on my paint clothes (yes, I paint enough to have "paint clothes"), made some sweet tea and got started. But alas, yuck, I was still bored and unmotivated. So I decided I needed some painting music, went to the computer and got on Pandora (if you haven't discovered Pandora radio yet, you need to! and created my very own Motown station.

Then suddenly, it happened. Jackie Wilson started singing to me, "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher." And I started painting. Then the Ad-Libs started singing, "The Boy From New York City" and I started singing into my paintbrush like it was the coolest microphone ever. Singing and dancing and painting, I was having a blast with Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, even the Jackson 5!

THEN Etta James came on. You cannot paint when Etta James is on. You actually can only do one thing when Etta James comes on the radio. You MUST stop everything else and sing like she has taken over your body. Seriously. Something crazy happened to me and I started moving all weird and singing, "Attttt Laaassssst, my love has come along . . ."

And then I wished two people were there with me, my Mom and Shauna Maness, because if there is anyone in this world I know who would be having as much fun as I was, it would be them.

All that to say, what a great way to spend a Sunday. Wouldn't it be awesome if every day was Motown day?

Go Ask Alice

Today, I am excited because I get to spend some time in the company of my great, good friend, Alice. Alice and I have known each other for a very long time, though in truth, for a good number of those years, we were more of what I would call "casual friends" than close friends. We attended the same church, had the same friend circles, were friendly when we ran into one another in the grocery store. You get the idea.

But today we have a different kind of friendship. And it happened, or should I say, blossomed, when we both moved away, not just from one another (she to Orlando, me to Atlanta), but from just about everyone else we knew. As the Lord would have it, (I almost said "fate" because that sounds more like what a writer would say, but I don't believe in fate . . .) anyway, as the Lord would have it, I had a conference in Orlando, and decided to call her up for a visit. And that's when our new friendship started.

The thing I love about spending time with Alice is that we have such a blast together telling our stories. She is a storyteller; I am a storyteller, and so we spend our time together telling our stories. We talk about our husbands, our children, our lives, our fears, recipes, wine (PS I LOVE my stemless wine glasses, Alice!), Dancing with the Stars, Jesus. There's pretty much nothing we don't talk about. I remember one time when I was visiting her in Orlando, her husband walked into the room where we were laughing and being quite loud and Alice said, "We're telling our stories." He smiled. We laughed. And kept right on telling our stories.

The other thing I love about spending time with Alice is that because we only see each other about once a year, I cannot wait to see her! And when we do see each other the way she greets me is just about the greatest thing in the world. She screams, smiles, opens her arms and hugs the life out of me. And I, in return, do the same.

So today, yay, I will be in the company of my sweet friend, Alice. This is a friendship that adds value to my life. It is so life-giving that it probably adds years to my life as well.

All that to say, the best friendships seem to be the ones where the seeds lie dormant for a long time, and then suddenly blossom, bursting with depth of color.

Spanish, Furniture Stores, and Jesus

This morning started okay. Except that is was Friday, my day off, and I was awakened by my alarm at 6:30 A.M.! on my day off! Did I mention it was my day off? And I was being awakened by my alarm on MY DAY OFF because I was going to drive in to work ON MY DAY OFF to do some training with my team (and just to be fair, it was also their DAY OFF). But it was the only day we could all manage to get in to do this training.

The training wasn't until 9:00 a.m., but since we have moved to Houston, my commute that used to be 15 minutes, is closer to an hour, so I had to get up at 6:30 A.M. on my . . . yep, my day off so that I could make the commute and get there on time. But I'm not bitter.

I scurried around, threw a load of laundry in, folded a load of clothes, then rushed out the door, hoping to make it to the chiropractor before I had to go to work on MY DAY OFF :) (I just like to keep saying that!) I jumped in my car, started it and put it in gear, and it promptly died. I started it again, backed down to the end of the driveway, stopped to look for traffic, and . . . it died. I started it again, backed out into the street, put it in drive, and of course, it died. But I perservered, thinking maybe it just needed to warm up, or maybe I bought some bad gas, or something else like that. Long story short, I ended up with a very dead car in the middle of the highway.

I got it to the shop and was courtesy shuttled home by the nicest man named Jose. We had the best conversation about my spanish skills, and furniture stores, and Jesus. He asked me a lot of questions about the difference between being a Catholic and being an "evangelica." Once we arrived at my house, we even sat in the driveway and talked for several more minutes.

All that to say, based on the start of this day, I think I could be in a pretty bad mood right now, but I'm not. When I got out of my car, I was happy. Really happy. And all because of a man named Jose. Thanks Jose. You made my day.

For Whose Glory?

I read a prayer yesterday as it came across my computer screen via our prayer chain at church. For those of you who don't know what a "prayer chain" is let me take a second to explain it. A prayer chain (at least the way we utilize it) is where people ask for prayer in a central location and people from our church pray for them. But the way we get the word out, is via an email. Make sense?

Anyway, I read this prayer and it said (although this is not an exact quote) something to the effect of "Lord, when you do bring healing, don't let us be tempted to say that healing has occured or that prayers have been answered because of "our" prayers. Don't let us take credit for it, but instead be the kind of people that only seek to give you the glory and honor for the fact that you have healed, or restored, or provided."

It was very powerful to me, because I wondered how often I am tempted to take the credit?

All that to say, for whose glory do I hope prayers are answered? For whose glory do you?

The Thing About Bitterness

"Never succomb to the temptation of bitterness." Martin Luther King, Jr. said that. Read it again slowly. It has more meaning that way. If you read it slowly, and savor the words, you will feel them and not merely see them.

Never, not ever, not on any day, in any moment, for even a second, should you allow yourself to give in to the call of bitterness. She calls out to you. She wants you. She seduces you to come to her side. Bitterness. She allows you to think that you have forgiven, that you have let go. But bitterness hides herself in a cloak of deceit and unforgiveness.

Never succomb, nor give in, nor release yourself to, nor shackle yourself to bitterness. She is cunning, and her chains are heavy and binding.

Never succomb to the temptation. Oh how easy it is to give way to the temptation. To allow yourself that short moment to justify your anger, to rationalize your hurt. How sweet bitterness tastes as she sinks in, as she says to you, "You deserve to be mad. No one has the right to treat you that way." Or worse yet, when she says, "Give yourself time to be mad. You'll get over it." Because she knows that once you have opened the door to her, she will not soon leave.

Never succomb to the temptation of bitterness. For even a moment at her feet, and she will tease you into being her slave, forever.

All that to say, bitterness is like a chili dog, it tastes good going down, but the lingering effects aren't good for you or anyone around you. (I thought I'd end sounding more like Carol Jones and less like Henry Ward Beecher.)


I love worship songs. (I also love to worship Jesus, so please don't get all hyper-spiritual on me and leave comments about how I should love worship and not worship songs.) But as I was saying, I love worship songs . . . especially the power ballads. I don't know if that is the technical musical term for them, but you know the ones that build and build and build and then seem to just explode and make you want to fly right up to heaven? Those are the ones I love. I love to sing them in church. I love to play them super loudly in the car and sing like no one else is listening. This usually leads to me driving with one hand on the wheel and one eye open, while the other eye is closed and the other hand is raised in the air (I am sure people think I am CRAZY when they pass me!)

One of my new favorites is The Stand by Hillsong United. We sang it last night at church. And even though I have heard it a lot of times, the words seemed to go way deeper into me than just my brain, deeper than just my heart. I don't know what they permeated, but I would say they permeated my conscious mind. They went beyond my ability to think about them and they hit something within me that made me hold my breath for just a moment. The chorus says,

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
So I'll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours

I am sure this has happened to you before, but you know when you are singing a song, and then all the sudden, the meaning of those words hits you and you cannot sing anymore because of the weight of the words? I am still thinking about that moment. The moment when I sang, "So I'll stand, my soul Lord to you surrendered, all I am is yours."

All that to say, my soul is surrendered, but can I really say, "All I am is yours?" I don't know.


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.

Get Off Me

My husband is a snuggler. He likes to snuggle. I like to snuggle too, when I am awake. My favorite thing to do with my husband (well, maybe not my favorite) but something I really enjoy doing is snuggling up together on the couch and watching a movie, or even just a good tv show. We have done this so often that our brains have memorized the movement. He sits first, puts his feet up, raises his right arm; I sit in the place made by the bending of his legs, rest my head on his chest, and pull the blanket up over us both. MMMM, snuggly.

But I absolutely DO NOT like to snuggle in bed. It makes me angry. He doesn't get it though. But I hate snuggling when I am trying to sleep. I feel like I am imprisoned by an arm across my stomach, or my back, or my side. Ugh, my side. That's the worst. Because if I sleep on my side, then he "spoons up" puts his arm across my waist and his leg over my legs. It's MISERABLE. And yet, he loves it. He smiles, scooches up as close as he can get, and drifts off to sleep, followed almost immediately by snoring!

I, HOWEVER, am trapped. I cannot move. I cannot breathe. I start to get hot. (Did I mention he is like sleeping with an oven?!) I start to sweat. I definitely cannot fall asleep. And then I start to get mad. He says he can feel me getting mad, even asleep and snoring he can feel that. And so eventually, FINALLY, he gets off me!

But last night, I thought I would be sweet and let him snuggle. Bad idea. I woke up at 1:30 with him snuggling me. I never went back to sleep. But I let him snuggle.

All that to say, if you are around me today, you should steer clear. I have been snuggled nearly to death.

I Want to Be a Cashew

For years, and I mean YEARS people have said to me, "I was so intimidated by you when I first met you, but now that I know you, I realize how UNintimidating you are." (or some variation of that statement) I used to think this was funny, and just shrugged off their comments. For a while I even thought, "well, that's just how I am and once people get to know me, then they will see I am not intimidating."

But most recently, through lots of self-assessment and leadership training I have come to realize that this personification of intimidation is not a good thing, and I need to work on changing that. I really am a nice person, and I don't want people to have to get through my "tough exterior" to get to the real me. The thing is, I don't do "it" on purpose and quite frankly have no idea what "it" is that intimidates people. When I have asked why people are intimidated by me, the two most common answers I get are "your posture" and "your self-confidence" (which is extremely funny to me because I don't FEEL self-confident!)

So, I need your help. Please post two things for me. 1. When you first met me, were you intimidated, and if so, why? And 2. What are some practical tips you could give me on being less intimidating on first impression (and please don't say "slouch")?

All that to say, I don't want to be a walnut person (a tough nut to crack). I want to be a cashew (they don't even come in a shell!)

Honk If You Love Jesus

Yesterday was the first time that I have EVER wished I had a bumper sticker on my car that said "Honk if you love Jesus." Because if I DID have that bumper sticker then what happened to me yesterday could have at least given me an excuse for the insane madness!

You see, my horn hasn't worked in over a year, nor has the airbag, cruise control, or anything else that is controlled by the wiring in my steering column. We've made some pretty good attempts to figure out the problem but to no avail. Usually, I don't miss my horn. I'm not a big horn honker, except for those rare occasions when someone tries to get in my lane while I'm still in it, or tries to back over me in a parking lot. On THOSE occasions I miss my horn and find myself banging on a dead steering wheel saying, "Please don't hit me, please don't hit me!" But as a general rule, I don't honk.

But yesterday, I honked like it was no body's business. I honked so loudly and so long that it became EVERYBODY's business. When I left my house yesterday, my horn randomly honked, on its own, two short honks. "Weird," I thought. And then I followed that thought up with, "I sure hope this thing doesn't randomly decide to start working and then not shut off." (Can you guess where I am going with this?"

The exact moment I pulled into a parking space at work is the moment that my prophetic thought came true. My horn started honking, and it would not turn off, for what seemed like hours, but was probably about 10 minutes. BUT 10 MINUTES of solid non-stop honking! Imagine that scene, and my embarrassment.

All that to say, if I'd had a "honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker, I could have danced wildly in the parking lot and people would have seen my bumper sticker, heard my horn, watched my dance and thought to themselves, "wow, she really loves Jesus." Instead they looked on in pity, shook their heads and were thinking, "seriously woman, get a new car."

Chinese Fire Drill

I know that isn't politically correct. But what is the politically correct term for what used to be called a chinese fire drill? You know, where everyone gets out of one car and runs around it until the light turns green and then everyone piles back in the car and the person closest to the driver's seat drives?

Well, at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, we had one in our driveway. Why 5:00 a.m. you ask? My sister-in-law, Debbi, was spending the night with her daughter, Linda, and Linda's two kids. The four of them were leaving Saturday morning to catch a plane to Portland. Only, the night before, amidst all the hustle and bustle, we all forgot to think about making sure Deb's car was the last one in the driveway. Au contrare, it was the first one in the driveway, so at 5:00 a.m. we all had to get up and move our vehicles.

As my life would have it, Jacob's mustang was the last car in the driveway, and when he tried to start it, the battery was dead. So this meant that the last car in the driveway was DEAD and blocking all the other cars in the driveway! Being the brilliant people we are, we decided to push the Mustang out into the street so the other cars could move. But, Jacob did not realize how hard you have to turn the wheel on a dead sportscar, once it has no power steering!

So at 5:00 a.m. we have 7 people in our driveway, three trying to push a dead mustang, 4 trying to frantically load into a car and get out! Add to that, Mike drove through the front yard to get his car turned around so he could jump the Mustang! Now we have the Mustang half in the street, Mike driving through the front yard to line up his car with the Mustang, and Deb trying to be calm but you know she is thinking WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!!

Finally, in a move that a Nascar driver would have been proud of, Deb backs her car halfway down the driveway, whips it around through the side yard and then leaves down the neighbor's driveway!

All that to say, I do not lead a dull life people.

Moving @!*@!

I tried to think of a creative title that would express my sentiments about moving. I couldn't. But I'll bet you get my meaning. On September 29, 2007, I packed up my little mustang convertible with everything I thought I would need for about 3 months worth of living in Texas. It was packed to the roof, including the trunk and passenger seat. I only took enough for three months because I was staying with friends, and truly expected that my husband would be transferred and our house would sell within that time frame.

6 months later, I moved from my friends' house (God bless their patience) into what our church fondly calls "the mission house." The house was donated to our church to use for 2 years as a furlough home for our foreign missionaries. I sure felt like one. The plan was that I would stay there for about 3 months (thinking that by then the summer would come and home buyers would start buying houses like crazy.) PS - Mike had not yet been transferred to Texas and it was March of 2008.

5 months later, (not three) our house had still not sold, so we rented an apartment on a short-term lease. It was August of 2008. The bottom of the housing market had fallen out and we began to see our home's value plummet. But at least Mike finally moved to Texas and we could live together again!

It is now March of 2009. Our short term lease has expired (thank God, because I am way too old to hear people "doing it" all night long in the apartment above me). Our home is currently listed at over $49K less than we paid for it. At this point, we are just hoping to walk away with enough to pay off our mortgage.

But we have been blessed with an awesome place to live at least for a year, rent free. We just have to do some maintenance around the house and pay the bills. The owners were going to sell this house, but with the market the way it is, they just decided to "fix it up" (enter us) and sell it later.

All that to say, I have moved 4 times in 18 months. I'm pretty sick of packing and unpacking. And, everytime I move, I seem to take more with me than I had the time before. How does that happen? And as depressed as this post might sound, I am actually not depressed at all, just sick of packing and unpacking. I do know and trust that God has a plan here. So I am hopeful for the outcome, and would seriously love it if it happened soon. Hey God, are you up there, it's me, Carol?