Friday, May 28, 2010

The Carpet Man Cometh

Can't wait till tomorrow. We get new carpet in the family room and basement. Paul has been working like an ox after his 10 hours at the office. Painting, pulling up old carpet, moving furniture. I've been his helpmeet. I'm almost a no-help-meet at this point, I'm so sore and burnt out from deciding where to relocate the junk.

Gave away a big craft table/cabinet. Debated long and hard about it. But it finally came down to this: ugly and practical versus pretty and well-used. It was the former, so I gave it the boot. Thank you, VVA pick-up truck. Gave away 2 big bags of fabric and 2 bags of cluttah, too. That's in addition to the van load I took to Goodwill after my $22 yard sale flop.

Feelin' good. Good 'n tired. Did I mention tired?

Ready for a long weekend in more ways than one.

And I'm SOOOOO lovin' the leather furniture!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Baby on the Way?

Sarah and her friend Hannah got to spend the afternoon together. Had lunch, shopped, gabbed, you know. And they played a practical joke.

On Stephen.

They bought some of that temporary paint that car dealerships use to spray prices and info on windshields. Then they drove to Steve's workplace and wrote in big letters on the windshield of his Jeep:


From work to the gas station (a three-minute drive as the crow flies, but 10 considering the heavy intersection that he works near) he heard lots of people honking, smiling, waving.

He couldn't find a squeegee fast enough.

I mean, he wants to be a dad and all...someday...but let's not rush it. He's 18 and has no prospects that I know of.

Ah, Sarah. You and Hannah made my day . I only wish I'd gotten a picture!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Loss and Transition

My neighbor Linda died last night. I found out today by way of Stephen. I don't have any details about her final hours, but I do wonder if she passed away at the very moment the Lord brought her strongly into my mind again. I remember distinctly hearing the word "transition" in my spirit around 9:30 as I got ready to go to bed early last night. Her face and her family came into my mind. I prayed that Linda was being taken gently by God's hand as she transitioned from this temporary home to her permanent one. I prayed the boys and Jeff would release her from her struggle as the dying process increased their sorrow.

I pray now as they transition from being a four-member family with a very sick wife and mother, to a three-member family without her.

I pray for myself as I deal with the guilt of being a bad neighbor--or at least aloof as I lived my life a half block down the street. Perhaps God is calling me to transition to being a better neighbor, more "in the loop" and caring in practical ways.

Dear Father, thank You for Linda and the brief life she lived on this earth. Thank You for the way she made my sons feel welcome at her home. Thank You for giving her the joy of motherhood. I know she loved her sons. She doted on them, she talked about them, she spent a lot of time with them. Give them peace and comfort, Father, as they transition from boyhood to manhood, from school to career, without the hands-on love of their mother. Comfort Jeff as he transitions from being a husband to being a widower. He's so young, God. Strengthen him in his grief. I thank You for all the times You've shepherded them already as they've experienced the loss of this special woman over the course of time--first her energy, then her health, then her presence at home, and now, her life.

Oh, God, I cannot stop my tears from flowing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


After years of waiting, searching, and nearly begging, I am getting a new sofa and recliner today!
Paul and I found some leather furniture on clearance at Bassett that we both really like and are comfortable in. That's hard to do, considering he is 6'4" and I'm 5'3".

The style isn't quite what I had envisioned a year ago ( which was "gentleman's library" with nail head trim and rolled arms on the pieces) but it plays on my affinity for a half traditional/half modern style. This furniture is both, I think .Dark chocolate leather, full cushions, but straight arms. Those are my starting pieces, and my heart-of-hearts desire is to transform the whole room. It'll need another chair and some new end tables and better lighting. We are replacing the carpet-- shopping for which is not a chore I like, but it's necessary) and eventually swap out the the armoire with a big entertainment/storage unit. Bye-bye broken, stained, ugly, smelly stuff. Hello, new and beautiful stuff!

My goal is make it say "around the world" and remind me of people and places I love.

When I get pictures up, you'll see what I see. I'm so excited!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Turning a Corner Because He Loves Me

I think spiritually and emotionally exhaustion turns out to be a good thing. You have to choose whether you want to stay there fighting for your own way or give in to God's way. You look at the situation and say, "Am I going to blame it all on the Enemy, other people, circumstances, God, or the
environment?" You realize there is a mix of yuck in your life and you are largely to blame for it.

Yes, there is an Enemy who is trying to devour us and make us devour others in our path. Yes, there are the sins of other people which definitely play a role in the hurt and sadness you feel. Yes, most times our circumstances leave much to be desired. Come to think of it, the month of May was not much better for me than April--worse, actually--but I realized, "Okay, you want to go into June like this, too, or get down to the business of forgiving, healing, praying, and moving on?" I realized my anger which fueled a battle against God, who is able to do all things so why not do them my way?, was a losing battle. I am dealing with the disconnect between my stated beliefs and my practical beliefs.

Reading the book called Because He Loves Me is really helping me. I went to Elyse Fitzpatrick's 2-day seminar a couple weekends ago and can't say enough good about it. I almost didn't go. To my shame, I thought the title sounded lame. Lovey-dovey and infantile. 70s hippie groove karma, it's-all-good propaganda. But the Lord said, "You need to go, Zo. You don't understand love." He said it so gently, but so firmly, I knew I had to go, no matter how I felt about the title.

Amyway, I have been reading the book every morning and journaling--or should I say almost copying the book verbatim (something I said I'd never do)?-- because it is that good. It is that necessary. I poo-pooed the word gospel as cliche, if you want to know the truth .Thought it overused in my circles. Wondered if those who use it really think about it .Question is, do I?
How often does the gospel (shorthand for incarnation, sinless life, death, burial, bodily resurrection, ascension, and future return of Jesus Christ) really intersect with my daily life?
Does it matter to me? Really? Is it transforming me? Can anyone see a difference between the way I was and the way I am? Truly? Or am I merely a Christian who prays in crisis, separates big sins from small sins, thinks I can self-atone by doing better with my lists of self-improvement, is essentially better than certain people but certainly worse than others whose joy, diligence, and obedience put mine to shame?

That's where I've been camping. Lots of downs in my camp, but I'm seeing myself more now as God does. I think. I don't know. I am taking baby steps in my understanding of His great love.
Can I ever just fully believe that He does, no matter what, love me? EVen if I never do another blessed thing for Him? Can you believe it for yourself?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Week of Sadness

Not only hearing that Linda was moved to hospice yesterday and given two weeks, this past week overwhelmed me with sadness.

May 11th was the anniversary of the death of Tim B, who committed suicide in 2006. He was 26, the oldest son of my friends Sandy and Sal. Tim was on the cusp of graduating from seminary.

Yesterday, a conversation with one neighbor left me sad over others:
-the woman who left her husband two months ago
-another lost his job and had surgery all in the past two weeks
-another is still hobbling around on a foot she broke in early April
-another is limping from a back she "threw out" while mopping
The saddest thing is being so unaware of the hurts of people around me. That old self-absorption has its fangs in my soul.

More sadness...Sarah brought home the sweetest puppy from a girl who has rescued him from an abusive neighbor of hers. The puppy, a Lab/greyhound mix, is so lovable and skinny and playful and happy, he found his way into my heart in 24 hours. But Paul said we can't keep him. The girl came and got him at noon. I was a blubbering mess from then on during my yard sale. I loved that little dog from the moment I brought him into the house. He will not have trouble being adopted, but I will miss his spirit, his face, his sleek mini greyhound body with the ribs showing, his obvious gratitude for all things edible and even the way he sped through the house like it was his new racetrack. When Molly accepted him in everything except the feed trough (and growled to prove it)m Joel said, "We should put their names on their bowls to keep them from fighting." I am sad. I wanted to keep him. Not foster him, adopt him. But I, at least in word, did as Paul said. I gave him back. He is still in my heart.

So the yard sale? Well, sad results numerically and financially. It brought in a whopping 23 dollars. How pitiful. I was told by one customer that there were just a handful of yard sales in my community this year. What's happening? Is yard saling dead? But at least I got in good fellowship w/ Bonnie and she wasn't upset the results (that she let on ,anyway). And I was able to donate the equivalent of all the cubic feet inside a Chrysler minivan to Goodwill.

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of a friend's brother who committed suicide when he was 16. I was 14. I will never forget that horror. Every May 16th I remember and pray for that family. It tore them apart.

So I thought I'd be glad when April was over! I am also sad as I face the reality that our little school will closing for good on June 11th .I picture a ghost town instead of lively halls of learning. Quiet bad, not quiet good.

Oh, and I took a ride to PA for groceries and fell asleep in the car. Paul locked me and my purse in for safety, and left me to nap while he, Sarah, and Joel shopped. Unfortunately he made the mistake of locking me in so well that I couldn't override the security button to let myself out when I woke up. I tried to open the doors, but the alarm went off--three times--. So I was a prisoner in my own car. Funny, but sad.

And then tonight I had an unproductive conversation with someone. I am blind and can't see myself. Sad. Darkness, go away.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Stephen just informed me that Linda, whom I wrote about earlier, was given 2 weeks or less to live, according to a Facebook status posted by her younger son.

Oh, this leaves me in tears. What an ugly disease cancer!

How can I help? What can I do? Pray, yes. What else?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yard Sale for Uganda

My friend Bonnie is trying to raise money for a missions trip to Uganda. She is about 2/3 of the way there financially. I remember how much it meant to me to have my care group bolster my coffers with a huge yard sale back in 2007 when Sarah and I needed money to go with GAIN to Russia .We raised close to $900 at that sale. Crazy good!

With that in mind, I am holding a yard sale this Saturday and trying to rally my new care group on Bonnie's behalf. (This is not the same bunch of folks; things get switched up at our church from time to time.)

I am also taking this short break at the computer to let you know in case you're not on Facebook to please:

-pray that donations and sales would be a loaves-and-fishes testimony since I'm not on a busy street in my community. Customers have not typically driven down in droves.

-pray that the forecast of "75 degrees and sunny" holds!

-shop if you're local (donations are tax deductible and payable to Covenant Mercies and given to Bonnie)

-make baked goods to sell (crumb cake, sliced and ready to go, sold very well; cookies or finger foods to eat with coffee or lemonade)

- sit with us an hour or so, and/or help us at the end haul the leftovers to Goodwill

-forget the middleman and write out a check to Covenant Mercies and send it my way. I 'll pass it on to Bonnie for ya.

Thanks! Now back to the hunting and gathering and cleaning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hello, Jeff.

A really swell soldier named Jeff came and spoke to my class while he was on leave at Easter. He absolutely thrilled them with his talk of army life as he knows it. I can't show pictures of my students, but here are a couple of Jeff, who gave me permission to post his likeness online. (Here he is showing us his Ferrari stickers on his laptop and explaining the "backwards" flag on his sleeve--that is, placed the way it would be viewed by another person if carried by someone else--field first, stripes following.) They also keep the patch colors "dull" so as not to be easily seen by enemies. These details--plus all the specs on the guns and ammo, of course--made for a riveting hour and a half for my class and the younger ones.

We're praying for you, Jeff, and hope you're safe. How are the violin lessons coming along? Thanks again for taking time to visit us while you were home.

When Preaching Meets My Daily School Life

An exciting thing happened Sunday: Pastor Arie's message from Acts fueled my passion for the very subject matter I'm teaching to my 5th and 6th graders. We are studying ancient Greece, and the sermon Paul preached at Mars Hill to his Greek audience grabbed my attention in a new way. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and listen to the great preachers of old. The Apostle Paul would top my list!

But Arie's message(link not working; go to to find it) is one I will definitely listen to again. I felt like shouting out, "Preach it, brother!" but I am not that type. I wanted to "Amen" loudly after nearly every sentence, but I would probably get "the knee" from Paul or Ben. I said a few, but not as many as I felt. Many messages are good, but few are anointed, in my opinion. This past Sunday's message left no room for debate: God anointed it. Pastor Arie's joy and passion for the gospel have a levitating effect on my heart. What a gift he is. What an extra bonus that God stirred this message in my heart, and I can sort of "preach it" next week after absorbing it again, so as to give my students a spiritual lift. I had the privilege last week of sharing with them the simple, powerful truths I heard from Elyse Fitzpatrick, so as to encourage them that His love is not dependent on their good or bad behavior, their school successes or failures, or anything of themselves. If they are in Christ, God sees Christ when He looks on them. I just melt when I "get it" and when I get to evangelize in my own classroom. Wow. What a privilege.

Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. The Big Three.

Ain't got nothing on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Putzing, Planting, and Painting

My favorite outdoor tools are a shovel and a can of spray paint. I got to use both today in some gorgeous spring weather. I was only going to edit my garden which the dianthus (Sweet William) had cluttered. Too much of a good thing, as it were.

But then...
If you give a gardener a shovel, she'll dig up flowers, and realize she likes them better in the big metal round tub she spray painted a galvanized steel color. She will remember how much fun she had painting her various flowerpots that way.

If you give her a can of spray paint, she will use it like a gun in the hands of a drive-by shooter,
except with a heart that wants to transform ugly to pretty, not the other way around.

She sees that the wicker furniture is quite shabby and decides to repaint the center design on the midback of each chair in the pair. When she is finished with that, she remembers that it's a lot of fun to change dark to light in other ways, so she paints a green magazine/coffee table white.

The change looks like something she should photograph and toot her horn about--er , inspire others about. She is saving that post for another day.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Tooting My Own Horn

I decided that I was being harder on myself than I should be when it comes to sharing my life. Yes, there are times I'm self-absorbed with the blog, but it is a weblog--a journal--that I more often type than would take the time to write out shorthand. The really ugly stuff I keep to myself. (So if you think you've read ugly, you ain't read nothing yet. And, I hope, you won't.)

Truth is, I am usually inspired by seeing what other people are making, doing, taking pictures of, laughing about, sorrowing over, etc. If I like it, I comment usually. If I don't, I'm either being lazy, in a real rush, or being selfish by withholding kudoes. Sometimes I'm just not all that affected, or I think it's tacky, or there are 73 other comments akin to what I'd say.

All that to say this: I have decided that I will probably add a category for myself when I post something that feels like self-absorption to me. I will call it--on purpose--Tooting My Own Horn,
or TMOH. (I don't think "tooting" would be the ideal abbreviation, do you?) I say "for myself" so that, if I see an egregious amount of posts under that heading, I know it's time for a change.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Please Pray

for my neighbor, Linda. The breast cancer of a few years back, which has gone into remission a couple years ago, came back with a vengeance and metastasized. It recently went to her brain and is now Stage 4.

Her two boys are about 18 and 20. Her husband and she are about my age.

This news is hitting me hard, more because my lack of getting to know her (she lives up the street) shows a terribly regrettable apathy on my part. One summer her boys and mine struck up an enterprise selling snowballs. First it was in our yard, which is not highly visible, and then to theirs, which is a corner lot. In terms of real estate, their location is ideal for a snowball stand. And by snowball stand I mean a $29 machine from Walmart, some styrofoam cups, and a few popular flavors. I still remember how Ben argued that they should sell for more (capitalist that he is). Brian
tried to gouge him for "vendor fees" but Ben countered with "ad fees" since he hired me to paint his arrowed signs which pointed down the hill toward their little biz.

Linda and I had our smiles from watching them duke it out. It was less of a partnership and more of a competition. I would guess our oldest boys do well for themselves in sales for the rest of their lives.

Linda was also the person who tended to Ben's wounds when he jumped out of their tree fort. It was a four-foot jump from a board that the juveniles had rigged between the crotch of a tree and the top of the privacy fence. They played a sort of cops and robbers game, and Ben heard the board crack. Rather than fall, he jumped, right onto a dry-rotted piece of plywood on the ground, which snapped in half upon impact. The jagged half sliced Ben's left upper leg through. Linda called me and I ran barefooted up to their yard with a baby in my arms. I still remember seeing what I had never witnessed before--the inside of someone's leg. Linda called 911 because it was so serious a wound. Bugs were starting to crawl into the blood, but I wasn't nauseous. I just knew that wasn't a good thing. Paramedics took him, and Linda checked in with me for several days after Ben's 27-stitch ER job (which I watched without gagging. It was life science. Ben was about to pass out, though.)

So I ache to know that Linda probably will not live to see her sons grow into their own as men. She won't spend another night with her husband in the same bed. She won't eat another snowball that our sons made their moms pay for. She won't be there, unless God does a miracle.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My 1000th Post, or A Commentary on the Art of Subtle Self-Absorption

Well, here it is, my 1000th post. Somehow I thought I'd have something eloquent or witty or poignant to say.

But I don't. The only thing I keep thinking is, "What a windbag you are, Zo. What a windbag. You need Overbloggers Anonymous."

This 1000th post is actually rather anti-climactic. I have tried hard to come up with something at least a bit commemorative at this juncture. But nope. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Ever notice how, the harder you try to "be," the harder it is to "be"?

I've been trying too hard at a lot of things lately, except for the things that matter most. I don't try hard enough to love the unlovely, to sacrifice without wanting appreciation, to serve without being noticed, to work without always expecting some little reward. I even wanted a whole social network to care about the stupidest little things in my world. . Enough already. Give me a break from my self-absorption!

But until that break comes, I am wondering at Post 1000, just what I should blog about in the future, and what I should just keep to myself?

If I make this blog all positive, I catch flack from my kids that I'm putting on airs. (They're all about keepin' it real.) If I occasionally vent or rant, I run the risk of offending people I don't even know; it's bad enough that I'm good at offending people I do know and can see! Besides, "a fool gives vent to all his emotions," says the writer of Proverbs. If I show pictures of my creations or home improvements, is it bragging? If I tell of my children's successes, is that a way of patting myself on the back?

Blogging, by nature, is a self-absorbing activity, is it not? I mean, if I posted pictures of the kitchen chairs I just painted, would you "ooh" and "aah" in my comment box? Self-absorption. How about if I wrote a poem or an article? Would I post it for your approval in the name of wanting to "encourage" you? I am so aware of my thoughts--and yet so unaware of my heart because it's deceptive--that I cannot get away from the fact that "everything I do is tainted through with sin," in some way.

I've now written and deleted several things . It all sounds so petty and...well, self-absorbed.

Right now I am actively rowing the Titanic. My arms are just about worn out from trying to avoid hitting an iceberg in my personal life. God has given me the grace to call "May Day! May Day!" (and no, that is not an intended pun, believe it or not, given this is a day in May). I thank Him that He is the Captain, the Anchor, the Ocean, and the Lifeboat. He's all that and more!

In the future, I want to make more of Him and less of me.

But I might just slip up and sort-of nonchalantly post a picture of self-absorbed me and simply spit out the question, "So, how do you like my hair?"

Sunday, May 02, 2010


I'm here. Still not doing well. But I have a shred of hope, thankful that there is enough grace to make up for not caring much about grace right now.

To help get back up spiritually, I am reading two books by Elyse Fitzpatrick, who preached the best sermons on grace I've heard in a while. Maybe ever. And sorry if you don't like to hear the words "sermon" and "she preached" in the same sentence. I don't have a problem with it. Women pastors, yes, but I digress. The two books are Because He Loves Me and Comforts from the Cross. Not that I think reading is the way "up," but I'm doing what I know to do and that is stay close to Jesus, or get close when I'm running, which I have been. I have felt guilty and ashamed, wanting to hide. You'd think I'd know better. But I forget that I'm hidden in Christ. I forget it regularly.