Saturday, July 30, 2011

Camp Prep Cuteness

Last year we took our youngest child to the camp where his older brother and sister were counselors. I held back my tears pretty well until we were almost off campus. And then the greatest thing happened that week: he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and became a child of God.

This year Joel wanted to return, and we agreed, since his brother Steve is a counselor at the camp once again. Our 22-year-old Sarah, who couldn't work there again because of a summer college class, wanted to visit the staff this weekend. She could drive him out there.

I enjoyed assisting Joel with packing. It's not something I do by myself. I'm a firm believer in helping kids mature in personal responsibility, so my kids have always been heavily involved in getting their own things ready for trips. He gathered his own clothes for the week and washed them. I procured the bedding and washed it up fresh. He put outfits together--shorts and underwear wrapped in each shirt he chose--and declared them "care packages." He made nine care packages.

I wish I'd taken pictures of his organization. For being a nine-year-old boy, he really puts a lot of thought behind his actions. (Usually.) I took him to Goodwill for the things he'd probably destroy on the waterslide this week: old jeans and watershoes. Five bucks total. Yes!!!

In the midst of his excitement, I saw his trademark bravado. He wasn't going to miss me much in a week, he said. "It'll actually be good to get away," he said. Did I the same relief in his voice as his young-adult siblings speak??? Regardless of his bravado, however, I know he has some anxieties. He doesn't always feel comfortable around people he knows well, let alone completely new people. So I was planning to put a few little notes of encouragement in his suitcase. I expected him to find out I was writing them and give me the the mini-speech: "Mom, please. I'm a guy. I don't need a bunch of notes from my MOMmy!"

But that didn't happen. This morning he saw me take out pen, paper, and envelopes.

"Mom, are you going to write me seven notes--one for each day at camp?" His tone was hopeful. Musical, in fact.

"Seven?" I asked, surprised and touched.

"Yeah. Sunday through Saturday is seven." I asked my husband, who is his son's hero, to please write three of them. He lovingly consented.

Then Joel added, "And I'd like you stick a dollar in each one for the snack shop!"

I had to laugh. There was method to his mushiness. "A dollar?" I asked, as I began the first note.

He was petting the dog and talking to him in a baby-talk voice. "A dollar with each note, right, Reilly? Yeah, boy. Yeee-ahhh. Otherwise what's the point of reading? You need a reward!"

We finished packing with toiletries and sleeping bag, and birthday goodies for his brother. I put the notes in and made sure he had kept the extra underwear packed. I think we got it all. I hugged him in the car and we all prayed with him, and then they pulled out of the driveway. No one cried. Not even me.

Then, when they were 30 miles from home, I remembered something. I think he forgot to take something important to Bible camp.

His Bible.

So much for personal responsibility!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Baby Bear Brownies

I am not a natural-born baker. All I've learned has been by trial and error. Mostly error. I am, however, my parents' daughter. My papa taught me by example to keep my word and he valiantly modeled contributing to the necessity of the saints, especially if that necessity involved some sort of pot-luck (or as he chided, "pot-blessing because we don't believe in luck"). My mama taught me life lessons as well. Among the most useful was an art lesson: the art of making do.

You never know as a kid how those life lessons might come into play when you're all grown up and begin making huge life decisions such as where to live, how to handle money, and what munchies to sign up to make for meetings of the PTA variety.

So you sign up to take a tray of brownies to the new Christian school's first all-parent prayer meeting because you know that you have a box of brownie mix on hand and everyone likes brownies.

Besides, it's pretty hard to mess up brownies. Right? Easy "A" in Baking 101.

So here comes the day of the prayer meeting. You open the box of Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge Brownie mix and begin prepping your 9x13 pan and, in a matter of about 90 seconds, have the batter made and poured. Then you realize the mix is only supposed to be for an 8x8 or 9x9. Nowhere on the front of the box does it say that. Nowhere. It's only on the baking chart that you're consulting after spreading the chocolate blanket over the glass bed.

Making do, you spread it out anyway and shorten the bake time to compensate. Ergh! Your first batch comes out too moist. Underbaked, shall we say, in the middle, but pulling away from the sides. These are your Papa Bear brownies.

So you pull out the Ghirardelli cocoa, the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the salt, the oil, the chocolate chips, the walnuts, and a second 9x13 pan which you have to grease (and wash later) and you proceed to do a batch from scratch. You hope that all your efforts at homemade goodness won't backfire when all these new school acquaintances bite in.

The Ghirardelli batch disappoints. Too dry, and a bit grainy. These are your Mama Bear brownies.

Then, because it's in your DNA and your upbringing, you say to yourself, "Hey! I've got an idea! Why don't I combine the two? And make it look like that was my intention from the get-go?"

So you scrape some Papa Bear brownie with your right hand hand, and scoop some Mama Bear brownie with your left hand, and you pronounce them married. The two become one.

Then, as fast as you can say "Goldilocks," you have Baby Bear brownies. Lots of them.
I think Mama and Papa Bear have been watching too many episodes of "19 Kids and Counting."

Meet the new arrivals.

Bearly out of the oven.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


The word "fix" is a peculiar one, isn't it? It has so many different meanings.

1. My dog has been fixed for a while now. (Actually, my husband likes to say, "He was fixed when he was born. Now he's broken.") One day recently my youngest child was having such a great time with our one and only dog, that he asked me, "Mom, Reilly is so cute. What does it take to make puppies?" Oh, my. Why do they always ask you that when you're unprepared? I repeated the question (an old parental stall tactic) and then said, " need a male and a female--." Then he asked, "and food and water, right?" I said, "Right," and he replied, "That's what I thought." And off he went. Shooey!!! Close call.

2. Today my daughter fixed a green smoothie. She declared it " a fail." She attempted to combine two different good-sounding recipes, and so in went a head of celery, two cups of spinach leaves, some lime juice, an apple, and cilantro. What she wished she'd used was parsley.
Let me tell you, it was very green. And very cilantro-ey. The faces we made trying to get it down should have been on youtube. The video would go viral, just like our guts. I told her it needed something else for sweetness, so she added berries. Do you know what happens when you mix red with green in a blender? I told her not to worry about it; it'd look the same coming out as going down. But I couldn't handle the tanginess, let alone the texture, so we added chunks of banana to our cup and poured smoothie over it. Then I added honey. Lots of honey. I wish I could say it fixed the problem.

3. And speaking of fixing problems, for your viewing pleasure (and ability), I fixed the link to the post called "Jimpressions." Have you ever heard such a funny pastor? I love impressions and I love to hear Shakespeare quoted. Combine the two and you've got some great comedy. Take a look and enjoy your Thursday.

4. What was last thing you "fixed"? A meal, a situation, your hair, a dog? Tell me. I'm fixin' to hear all about it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hodgepodge: Of Packing, Pontius Pilate, and Peach Pie

Thanks, Joyce, for siphoning some time out of your tank of busyness to come up with some fresh Hodgepodge questions.

1. July is National Ice Cream month...your favorite flavor?

Black Raspberry Avalanche.

Soft served, hand dipped, or frozen yogurt...which do you prefer? And technically yogurt is not ice cream but its hot
outside so I'll let that slide...

Hand dipped is the best! We are blessed to have a dairy here that makes and sells ice cream. It's the county's favorite hang-out on hot, summer evenings. Most customers sit outside on picnic benches and listen to live music which, in my opinion, is not as good as the ice cream, but any author would scoop up "local color" on any given Sunday night there. Sometimes the ice cream is so farm fresh you can smell the manure. Mmmm. We take our out-of-town guests there every chance we get. If we like our guests, we try to sit up-wind of the barn.

2. When you travel do you tend to pack too much or too little?

Too much. It hearkens back to my mother's adage: "Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it." I make the mistake of thinking that "it" has to come in threes. For example, for our upcoming beach vacation, I'm packing three different pairs of sunglasses :

1--my unattractive prescription pair that I use for driving and reading on a bright day

2-- my attractive pair (at least in my opinion) for when I'd rather look good than see well

3- the QuitcherBellyAchin
' pair. You've seen them at the dollar store. They're neon and made in Ch---.....oh don't get me started on that subject ! One Size Fits None, but I'll throw them in the car for anyone who says, "I don't need sunglasses" but then complains of a headache from the glare while we're traveling. That's the QuitcherBellyAchin' pair.

3. What's your favorite cleaning product?

Lemon-scented Pine-Sol. I know it's very chemically, but I like the smell of chemicals when I clean. Don't be a hater, and don't tell me vinegar works for everything and it's "green." I know, I know! Green is good, but if your family walks in after you've scrubbed the kitchen floor and counters , and then say "Ew, what stinks?!" then yellow is better than green.

4. Which is the greater tragedy-an innocent person imprisoned or a guilty person set free? Explain.

As a Christian, my first thought was how Jesus, the innocent one, was crucified while Barrabas, a convicted killer, walked away free. This was at the same trial. Pontius Pilate declared of Jesus, "I find no fault in Him." But he had to abide by the law which meant he had to release one prisoner on Passover. The people demanded that Pilate release Barrabas.

Imagine if our modern-day media were to air the biblical account of Jesus' trial day in and day out for months. What effect might it have on society? Think about the chatter at the watering hole or on Facebook!

Barrabas had to live with his guilt. I don't know if he ever repented or how God dealt with him. I hope he got the same mercy I have received because I would only wish hell on my worst Enemy (Satan) and no one else!!! It's not like Barrabas got away with murder; God might have postponed the consequences, but He does avenge wrongdoers.

5. What's the longest trip you've taken by car?

Physically, it was 36 hours from Baltimore to Topeka, KS, for my grandpa's funeral in 1989.
When we heard the news that Grandpa had died (just one month after I saw him alive and well), my parents and youngest sister (then age 10) took a jet and my sisters and I took a Jetta. We started driving in the afterno
on. With my nursing five-month-old baby girl in the backseat beside me, it made for a long, cramped ride, especially since we mistakenly took 76 north through Pennsylvania (adding 3 hours we didn't have) instead of west on I-70. I believe I was the one to blame because Rachel, who was driving, needed a quick decision in the dark as to "which way? 70 or 76?" and I blurted out "76! It's scenic!" We still laugh about our "scenic ride in the dark."

We drove for about 22 hours, then got a hotel in St. Louis because, if you have ever driven toward Kansas from the east, you feel like you SHOULD be in Kansas by the time you get to Saint Louis. I think it's the only city in the world without borders. You're in it, and never get out, which is why it's aptly located in the state of Misery.

Emotionally, the longest two car trips were those to the hospital for my miscarriages. Twenty minutes each time felt like my own Via Dolorosa.

6. tennis-golf-canoeing-biking...pick one.

Tennis. I was on the tennis team in high school and 'loved' it. Love-Love. I still enjoy the game and wish I could whoop my hubby at it, but I can't.

7. What sound drives you crazy?

Any repetitive noise, but I'm going with a dripping faucet.

8. Random thought.

Lately I've been absolutely CRAVING homemade
peach pie. I'm talking flaky crust, fresh-picked peaches, lots of sugar, and a scoop of French vanilla on top. Growing up on a little farm, we had peach trees that hung heavy with fruit every July. Mama made the best peach pie. And she passed the tradition down to my sister, Jill. I can't believe I haven't even had one slice this summer! I guess I'll have to make it myself because we're running out of July.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Found this at Kevin DeYoung's blog today. Impressions by a senior pastor doing Shakespeare.
Funny stuff.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sin & Broccoli ( A Repost, Edited)

"I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me." I Cor. 4:4

It's an eloquent way of saying, "Just because I don't see my sin doesn't mean I'm innocent." Being blind to my sin doesn't mean it's not there; even the fact that no one points it out doesn't mean it's invisible.

It's kind of like having broccoli between your teeth that you can't feel. Suddenly you smile and everyone else knows what you had for dinner.

God, please hand me the mirror of your Word and/or a bold person to tell me whenever I have broccoli in the teeth of my life.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Daybook Entry, Six-Word Answers. 7.23.11

Quietude here. Assorted thoughts. Inspiration courtesy of The Simple Woman's Daybook. I'm limiting myself to answer each question with six words. Think I can do it?

outside my window... sounds from the dark, deep woods.

I am thinking... I want a pedicure rather soon.

thankful for... Jesus--my Anchor and Refuge always in September were much cheaper!

from the learning rooms... piano lessons; thankfully I'm not teacher

from the kitchen... new groceries, gorgeous $4.50 wildflower bouquet

I'm wearing... blue tank top, khaki shorts, glasses

I'm creating...mental lists of Things to Do

I am hoping... my mom's tearduct surgery goes well

A picture I'm sharing:

He's homesick and misses his girl.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I've Lost that Scrubbin' Feeling

Normally on Fridays I'm Hoppin' Around with a cleaning rag, some Pledge, Windex, and Pine Sol.

But not today. I woke up thinking about cleaning my house, when suddenly an old Beatles' tune phrase popped into my head: "Let it be, oh, let it be." So I'm just gonna let it be.

Okay, maybe I'll mop the floor because there's some sticky orange juice in front of the fridge. (It's causing a lot of pulp friction.) I keep hearing strains of "Stuck on You." But nah, I won't mop. Every time I do, it ends up killing my back. I Twist and Shout, "Doctor, Doctor!"

I was thinking about going for a walk, but was arrested by a tune: Stop in the Name of Love.

When I look in the mirror, I Can't Get No Satisfaction. Is it worth getting All Shook Up?

My golden retriever pup really gives me those Sad Eyes if I don't take time out to play with him. Why do I fall for his manipulation? He Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog.

Why is it so hard to get my caboose to do the Locomotion? I Keep Dreaming that One Fine Day all my laundry will be washed, dried, folded, hung up, pressed, and put away all by itself. That'll Be the Day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Father God, we Just Thank You, Father God...Be With Us"

My 19-year-old son, Steve, is a camp counselor three hours from home and pretty busy except for a two-hour-a-day break. Imagine my delight to see something new on his blog this morning. He took time to write something funny yet thought-provoking that makes me ponder prayer again.

Ever heard someone pray--or been the one praying-- in such a way that is unclear, unnatural, and sometimes even unbiblical?

Check out Steve's thoughts on the matter in Praying Platitudes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hodgepodge and a New Birth in God's Family

1. July 20th marks the anniversary of the first time man stood on the moon. Flash forward 42 years to July 8, 2011 which marked the start of the final Space Shuttle mission. Should we continue to explore space? Should nations devote more or fewer of their resources to exploring space? Would you want to go into space if the opportunity arose?

I don't think we should abort the mission of exploring space altogether (it's putting a LOT of people out of work--many thousands) but I don't know how much more we really need to know about things light years away when we could be building schools and putting teachers to work. I say that as mom whose daughter is not optimistic about using her degree when she graduates in December. I'm partial to astronauts because my hubby was named for John Glenn. :) Little bit of trivia I thought you might wanna know.

Would I go into space if the opportunity arose? Not on your life! There are only two things that appeal to me about being in outer space--weightlessness and the magnificent awesomeness of the views. But the claustrophia, the fear of heights, the rocket science, the being far from home and hospitals, the "facilities," not to mention the freeze-dried monkey food they have to eat. Fuhgettaboudit!

2. What are three things in your freezer?

mahi-mahi, therapy bags, and Skinny Minty ice cream.

3. If you could see any band/artist perform live tonite who would it be? It has to be someone Beatles, Elvis, etc.

Nobody famous, but someone great in God's kingdom, someone I love dearly and miss terribly--my son, Steve, who is away as a camp counselor all summer. I would love to hear him play drums right now. And hear him play the theme to "Peanuts" on the piano. When I see the worship band at church on Sunday without him , I'm a little sad. But ...drumroll please...he led a camper to Christ last week. Yay! {{Cue the Crashing cymbals}}

4. Ice-cubed or crushed? Or are you one of those people who don't like ice?

Crushed. I'm one of those people who likes to taste ice chips with every sip. And crunch on them. But who can't stand to hear others do the same. I know. Big hypocrite. It gives me the heebie-jeebies when others crunch on ice--and then spit it back into their glass. I won't say who does that.

5. The owner of a small restaurant outside of Pittsburgh recently announced he was banning children under six, saying they regularly disrupted other customer's meals. You can read the story in more detail here but isn't this a perfect topic to discuss in our Wednesday Hodgepodge? Have at it friends...what are your thoughts?

I posted this question on this very topic on my Facebook page when the story hit a few days ago. About 15 people chimed in and 14 of them were in favor of the ban. (One doesn't like the idea of banning children from anything.) The 14 in favor of the ban said if they are paying for a "nice" meal and paying a babysitter to stay home with their noisy kids, and they were looking forward to adult conversation/quiet atmosphere, then rowdy, ill-behaved kids in restaurants can ruin the evening. I would agree. From the proprietor's standpoint, I think if you own a business, you should be able to monitor who gets in and who has to stay out. Why jeopardize the success of your company because of some bad apples? My thoughts are--take kids out to restaurants to practice good manners, but don't take them to upscale joints till they have proven themselves.

6. What was your first car? How did it come to be yours?

It was a 1980 Chevy Chevette. Blue with black cloth interior. No AC. 5-speed. I needed a car after coming back to Maryland from an out-of-state college. Living on my own in the city necessitated having wheels. My dad helped me negotiate for it by a tactic I am still learning: keep quiet. Let the other guy do the talking.

7. If I had a nickel for every time I thought about losing weight, I'd be rich.

8. Please pray that the enrollment for our new, little school increases. If it does, it increases my chances of getting hired to teach art. (See how it's all about me? ) As it stands, they don't have enough to pay an extra teacher. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than teach. I think I'd enjoy trying my hand at the florist, but other than that, what would I do that doesn't feel like work that would still pay?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Susan Asked; I Answered. "A Blog Retrospection"

For whatever reason, Susan at thecontemplativecat chose me as one of five bloggers to do this Blog Reflection/Retrospection post. Given that I've posted some 1323 times, maybe she figured I'd have myriad selections upon which to reflect or retrospect. Or because she knows I'm not afraid of prickly topics. Or that I am just a sucker for thought-provoking memes.

Thanks, Susan. You made me smile. (And folks, you must visit her blog. She'll make YOU smile, too.)

Category 1:
Most beautiful
"Hallmark Commercial in my Classroom." While rereading this post, tears flowed down my cheeks. How I miss teaching, and "Ryan" in particular. He has a beautiful spirit, generous and encouraging and pure. Just last week I saw him and he told me he still misses having me as his teacher. It doesn't get much better than that.

Hallmark Commercial in my Classroom

Category 2: Most popular "Walking Cliche' for Halloween" (a humorous piece) garnered a lot of laughs. I wrote it while thinking about Halloween costumes and simultaneously grading some high school essays. I had read one cliche' too many that afternoon, which led to a "eureka!" which I carried out only on paper. I was in a really giddy mood and apparently a lot of people needed a good laugh that day. The comments cracked me up and I wished I could take all the commenters out trick-or-treating with me.

Walking Cliche' for Halloween

Category 3: The Most Controversial There may be others, since I get a bit "riled up" now and then. It happened as I was blog-hopping and I came upon an ultra-crunchy momma's page whose "About Me" stuff made me say to myself (in the words of my dad, "Oh, forevermore." I questioned why people find it necessary to include "we cloth diaper" in their blog profile. Shoulda figured that a topic that covers waste products would create such a stink. I realized that it takes intestinal fortitude to stand up for what you believe, or bowels of mercy to stand down on bandwagon issues that truly, in the whole scheme of things, don't matter. At all. To me. So I wrote,


Category 4: Most Helpful "Let Me Tell You, I Love My Man!" It buoyed my spirits to write it, since I tend to focus on the negatives of people most important to me, or-- if I think on the positives-- the thoughts don't necessarily flow freely from my lips or pen. It's a terrible thing. I have to work at being encouraging to my closest companion. Judging from the comments, it helped other women to focus (at least for a little while) on the good they see in their husband. And, I would guess my hubby felt bolstered by reading it, even though he pretends he doesn't read my blog.

Let Me Tell You, I Love My Man!

Category 5: The Post whose success surprised me Well, that one is from the A-Z Challenge, a challenge for which I chose "memories" as my guiding theme. "M is for Mailboxes" was a gutsy confession of something I'm not proud of. In fact, I was sorely tempted to simply keep it in my drafts, but wanted God to be spotlighted as the loving forgiver of the sins of my youth "and my rebellious ways." For it is His kindness that leads us to repentance.

M is for Mailboxes

Category 6: The Post most ignored
Pshhhh. Too many to choose from. I figure if it was ignored when it was fresh, why mention it now when it's stale?

Category 7: The Post I am proud of
. Okay, the phrase "proud of" makes me squirm with regard to my own writing. But I can say that a post which took some work (and you will agree that I use the term "work" loosely if you choose to read it) was one called "Three Wee Rings." I wrote it after my hubby took me to the jewelry store on our anniversary a while back to get my wedding rings and a diamond band upsized. (Yes, I asked for the sizing as a gift; he would never dare suggest it.) Our anniversary is at Christmastime, so the post is a poem set to the tune of "We Three Kings."

Three Wee Rings

Now I must choose five fellow bloggers, and notify them of their choice to parti
Linkcipate or not. I'm choosing ones I think will say yes and who occasiLinkonally spark controversy but keep it civil.

The writers I'm picking for this blog reflection post are:
Sarah (my delightful daughter) at Homeward Bound
Kelly at Through the Water
Amy at Lavender Sparkles
Krista at Corn Rows and Meadows
Joyce at From This Side of the Pond

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fill-in-the-Blank Friday

Am I becoming a meme-maniac? I happened upon this cute, little meme and thought I'd give it a whirl. Thank you, Lauren, over at The Little Things We Do, for coming up with Fill-in-the-Blank Friday

1. I am a (morning, evening, middle of the day person) morning person, but not "crack of dawn" like some people think of morning. I'm at my mental best and most relaxed between 8:30 and 10, and most productive between 9 and noon.

2. My favorite Pandora stations are...waiting for me to discover them. I haven't started doing the Pandora thing. I spend a lot of time in total silence, but if I do start with Pandora, it would be a mix of praise, country, hymnss, early 80s love songs, a touch of classical, acoustic guitar, and lots of Rich Mullins.

3. 3 of my "must-have" songs for a road trip playlist are not all songs. General categories, not specifically music. I don't have must-have play lists, but I really enjoy popping some Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" CDs, a Christian teaching tape of whatever I need for spiritual growth or parenting/marriage enrichment, and I love listening to Nickel Creek for a few miles at a time.

4. My favorite pattern is toile. I don't own or wear a stitch of it anymore, but when I see it, I adore it. I wear mostly solids, but occasionally a small floral or checkered print. And paisley. Goodness, so much for "a" favorite.

5. My favorite perfume is called Mediterranean.

6. Rules are easy to make, hard to follow.

7. My most overused phrase or punctuation is "Easy, easy!" I say it whenever I think my husband or other driver in the family is getting too close to the person ahead of us on the highway. It's definitely reserved for family, and replaced "Do you see that guy? Do you?" Has a less nagging sound, don'tcha think? Unless you're the driver, of course. For punctuation, I think
I overuse semicolons. Maybe I should analyze this problem further; doing so, however, would require a semicolonoscopy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This is What I Want

I want to fall in love with Jesus all over again. Don't get me wrong, I love Jesus. I do. He has forgiven me of all my sins, He has written my name in his Book of Life, and nothing can separate me from His love; I have His Word on it (Romans 8:39).

But something's been missing for far too long.

With few exceptions, I have been blase' and apathetic, content with status quo. I've had moments here and there when my heart surges with gratitude, when my mind can't take in any more of His majesty, or when I am just ready to be done with this life and enter the next with Him, forever.

But I want so much more.

I want to wake up with Him on my mind. Not wake up thinking of my aches, pains, plans, fears, or worries.

I want to journal eagerly every whisper I hear from Him. It's been a long time since I felt the nearness of His voice.

I want to hang around people who are in love with Him, who are asking, "What's God been doing in your life lately? What are you studying? What miracles or answers to prayer has he shown you?" And I don't just mean on scheduled every-other Wednesdays. While I'm grateful for those times, I long for the kind of fellowship I once experienced nearly every time the phone rang. The phone just doesn't ring that often, and I don't use it much for fellowship, either. I miss the telephone. There is a rich fellowship that can only be shared when humans talk. Not type.Not text. Talk.

I long for my Sundays to consist of meaningful content outside the music and the pulpit. I used to wish it would come from other people "off-stage"--in the ladies' room, the nursery, the Sunday School class, the hall. You know, people with fire-hot love for Jesus, who radiate light and heat.

Now I want to be that person. Or rather, be that person once again. There was a time when I was the radiant, fire-hot, zealous, eager disciple of Jesus Christ who couldn't get enough of the Bible, made every effort to talk about Him with fellow Christians, and who felt a deep sadness for people who neither had nor wanted a relationship with Christ.

I am not there yet. I am still in the wanting-to-want-it stage.

This morning I was singing a certain line over and over from Psalm 51:12

Restore to me the joy of my salvation...

I hunger and thirst for more of Him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hodgepodge: Truth & Relative-ity

Here's this week's Hodgepodge. Thanks again to Joyce for offering up some thought-provoking questions. Anyone want to join in? Read this post and then link up. I'd love to read your answers.
1. How has your hometown changed since you were a kid? What has changed most about the neighborhood you grew up in?

I had to stop and think, "What IS my hometown?" I moved so many times as a kid. Let me just pick the main one that pops into my head. Alden, Kansas, did not have paved streets when I lived there in the mid-70s. Now it does.

3. Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Read the books? Seen any/all of the movies? Will you be standing in line somewhere close to midnight later this week? For those of you playing along today who live outside the US or UK is Harry Potter a phenomenon in your part of the world?

No, none/nada, huh-uh.

4. If the truth hurts, will you tell a lie? Are we better off as a society in a world that allows no form of deception whatsoever?

I don't usually offer a hurtful truth unless asked. For example, if someone says "How do you like this outfit?" and I think it's ugly, I will say, "Oh, is it new?" and if they say, "Yes, I found it on sale for --would you believe 99 cents?--," then I will say, "Wow! Good for you! You are so good at bargain-hunting." See how I haven't said a word ONE about whether I like it, but they feel complimented just the same? Heeheehee.

But if someone asks, "What do you
think of this dress, honestly?" I will tell them. However, if someone makes a quilted patchwork cloth vest and wants my opinion? Look out. Please don't put me in that position.

To answer the last question, I think not every truth has to be blatantly expressed if the issue is superficial (like fashion, for example, or whether someone's newborn is cute because they rarely are). We'd eat each other alive if we lost all of our verbal filters, if everything we thought came out our mouths. But when it comes to serious matters, then gut-level honesty and integrity must rule. Relationships can only thrive and businesses succeed when truth governs them.

5. What is your favorite 'sauteed in garlic and butter' food? Or garlic and olive oil if that makes you feel better.

Lately it's been fresh green beans from the garden. Our youngest son has taken a shine to parboiling them, then sauteeing them while still tender-crisp in G&B with S&P.

6. Attending any reunions this summer/year? High school? family? Other? Do these events stir up excitement or dread?
We hosted a reunion at our home this past Saturday for my husband's side of the family. It was the first time in two years that all his brothers had gotten together, and one of the few times that our togetherness does not include a bride or a casket. (One brother and both of his parents are deceased.) I'll be blogging about it soon.

I was really excited about the reunion, glad for making the extra effort to get us all togetherer. Glad that almost everyone we invited made the effort to come, if only for a couple of hours.

The only thing I dreaded was the housework and grocery shopping, but that holds true whether I'm having 2 or 32 people over!

7. Lilac, hydrangea, peony...pick one.

Lilacs. I absolutely love them and the memories they evoke. They take me back to that place I spoke of in question 1.

Hydrangea is my future daughter-in-law's favorite flower, and made this lovely backdrop for her stunning engagement ring. Wasn't it kind of God to make our hydrangea its prettiest on May 21st, the day our son popped the question?

The word "peonies" makes me laugh; once I queried my brainiac SIL, Donna, "Is it "pee-OH-nees" or "PEE-on-eez?" She held up two imaginary urine specimen cups and said, "Here, pee in 'ese." That was my answer.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

What doesn't go around, doesn't come around. Or it might, but it makes you feel guilty.

Let me explain.

We went to Rehoboth Beach yesterday--hubby, daughter, youngest, and I.. Beautiful day. Hot but breezy. Nice waves, according to the kids, but it was ice cold according to me. I was therefore perfectly content to lie on the blanket and read. After 2.5 hours I said to myself, "I don't even feel the sun too much. I don't think I'll use sunblock after all."

I then had the gall to tell my hubby, who I could see was getting pink but refusing lotion, "Okay, but don't expect my pity when we get home." Following my shower, I gingerly patted myself dry, gingerly put on my softest cotton nightgown, and gingerly sat on the edge of the bed feeling that the backs of my knees would crack. Moaning and groaning, I said to my soulmate, "Look how red I am! I'm really hurtin'!" and he said, "No pity here."

(He treated my crayon-red back to aloe vera gel as he was uttering the words, so I know he had some pity. What a guy.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Welcome from a Hummingbird

Finally! I completed one of my art projects, the Welcome sign that I've had for--oh, goodness--at least five years.

It was all white. Now only the bird's belly is white, and that by God's design.

I painted this plaster piece with acrylics and coated it with ModPodge to seal and shine it.

This ruby-throated hummingbird caught my eye and so I copied him from an issue of Birds & Blooms. I chose purple to color those flowers, which I think are violets, but even if not, I am partial to purple, and so purple it is.

To get the depth of color contrast, paint the dark purple first and then add lilac highlights. The green leaves are mixed from blue and yellow, starting with the deepest saturation of blue first. I just love playing around with color. Acrylic paints are mighty forgiving--my #1 criterion for any art supply.

Most artists probably could have whipped this out in 90 minutes, but I'm slower and fuss a lot just when I think it's finished. So this one took me almost three hours. And I'm happy with it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You Old What?

At the family reunion yesterday I wanted to casually surprise my "non party" just-turned-50 hubby with a "non-party birthday cake" in such a way that he would "non find out" about it. It's a bit hard when you're hosting and your fridge, countertops, and tables are already full of stuff. So a few days ago his sweet cousin volunteered to buy one and bring it.

Her: What are his favorite colors?
Me: I don't know that he has one, but he likes the Ravens, so purple and black.
Her: Okay. What should I have them write on it?
Me: I dunno How about, "Happy birthday, you old buzzard?"
Her: Okay. See you Saturday!

So Saturday came and the cousin was late, not in any small part due to the errors on said cake. First the colors weren't right. There was nothing they could do quickly to change the blue and red to purple and black as requested, so his cousin said later to us, "Just pretend, Paul. If you're not too old to pretend, that is. Pretend you see Ravens colors."

When she got to the Costco bakery department to pick it up, his cousin also noticed the message atop the the cake said "Happy birthday u old buzzer."

"No, no, not buzzer. Buzzard--you know, like the bird?! B-u-z-z-a-r-d."

The bakery lady then froze the cake a good while, took it out, scraped off the hard, misspelled letters and "fixed" the mistake.

This is what we got:

We laughed so hard. We've been calling him Buzz Rad ever since.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Hodgepodge: Hot, Cold. Guilty, Free.

Jumping right in today...

1. What is the most useful book in your house?

Besides the Bible? (Joyce, I read your answer first, so I cheated on this question. Maybe I should revisit said Bible as a result of my sin.) Anyhoo, I'd say the book I use most often is the Alden Community Cookbook. It was a gift from my friend Barb and I use that book a lot, especially to make Nina Fair's peanut butter cookies.

2. What's worse-being too hot or too cold?

Too hot. I think I can always find more clothes and blankets, a fetal position, a warm hubby ,and a 70 pound Golden Retriever to warm me up when my ribs have frozen under my skin. But to be too hot means I have to shed clothing and let's just say that even if it was a modest proposal, it would not be a pretty image.

3. Share something that made you smile this past weekend.

My youngest boy confessed to me in a darling way something that touched my heart. He was convicted by the Holy Spirit last week during Summer Blast (like VBS) when they were highlighting honesty. As I was rubbing his back before he went to sleep, he said to me--voice cracking as he stifled tears in bed--"While we're talking about honesty, I need to confess something else. Remember that silver necklace with hearts that came in the mail a couple months ago? Remember you and Dad asked who ordered it and it wasn't Ben, Steve, or Sarah? Well, it was me. It was before Mother's Day. I was on the Amazon site after Steve ordered you a necklace, and I was looking around. I saw that one and clicked on it. I thought it was just going to take me to "More Info" cuz I know you like long chains, so I clicked on it. And it said, "Thank you for your order!" and I was like 'What the heck?!!!' I didn't mean to order it. I just wanted more info, Mom. I've felt sick to my stomach since then. But now I feel better. Will you forgive me?" I said, "Of course I forgive you, honey." And then we prayed. But the part that made me smile was how he held up his palms in the semi-darkness and said, "I was like, 'what the heck??"" and at the end, "It was a pretty necklace, wasn't it, Mom? Just not long enough for you?"

4. How do you like your hamburgers? Or don't you?
Medium-well, juicy but not mooey, from the grill, topped with mustard, mayo, a trace of ketchup, crisp Romaine lettuce, many raw onions, a few pickles, and served up on a fresh potato roll. With sharp cheddar, don't forget.

5. What's your summer beach read? If it's not summer in your part of the world then tell us what book you're reading in front of the fire while sipping hot cocoa.

I don't know yet. Vacation is slated for August. I think I'll try to get the novel by Andy Andrews called The Traveler's Gift. When I was recovering from surgery, my friend Kate brought over his novel called Island of Saints (renamed Heart something-or-other; I like the original title better). She knows I like history. Well, that book has history and mystery combined, and I was hooked! Gotta get me some more Andy Andrews. The man can weave a tale.

6. How was your birthday celebrated when you were a kid?

I don't remember too many birthday parties, but I'm sure there was always a boxed cake and ice cream. My parents always gave thoughtful gifts. I do remember two best birthdays; one I was 9 and got a brand new purple bike with a banana seat. I remember picking it out, feeling happy for myself, but sad because we had just come from the hospital where my preacher-dad had visited Mrs. Kilgore. Her daughter, Lindee, was a friend of mine, and Mrs. Kilgore was dying of cancer.

It didn't seem right that I should be having a happy birthday with a new bike when my friend was losing her mom, but I guess I didn't realize the severity of cancer. And my dad didn't make me feel guilty for having a nice gift at the same time. He couldn't afford much on small-town preacher's salary, but that bike was from a bike shop and not a hand-me-down. So I'm sure as a father he loved giving his children good gifts, even though others were suffering.

Many life lessons from one Hodgepodge question! Whew! The other best birthday was when I turned 12 and got a stereo. That was a really big deal, and I had friends over.

7. What's something that is totally uncool that you love anyway?

Embarrassing my kids by making all kinds of making-out noises when I kiss their dad in the kitchen while I'm cooking. Actually it embarrasses the man, too, but I can't help myself. I tell him if he wouldn't be so darn good at fixing stuff around the house I wouldn't be so hot for him.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I think I'm in the minority about the whole Casey Anthony verdict. Yes, I do think she probably is guilty of murder, but rather than feeling angry, I feel really sorry for her. If she did it, she'll have to live with the guilt the rest of her life; if she didn't, she has to live with the false accusations and public scorn the rest of her life. I also think, as I posted on Facebook, that I think it's hypocritical to rail against a woman who MIGHT have killed her born child, but there is no public outcry by many of the same folks against women who really HAVE killed their UNborn child. I say that with a heart of compassion, not judgment. Truly. My issue is not with her guilt or innocence, but with the reaction of stone-throwers who are okay with abortion as if there's a big difference between snuffing out life with saline solution before the baby cries, or with duct tape afterward.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Clutter Rehab

This is not a book review. It's a book preview and I will tell you straight up that it looks like my kind of book. This is also my attempt to win the book for just hyping it. So, I look forward to winning it from Rachel Anne over at Home Sanctuary; she is kindly promoting it for author Laura Wittman.

Hmm. Do you think that if I write a book someday someone will promote it? I think it might be called something like Housekeeping Tips from the Grave of a So-So Housekeeper: Confessions of a Woman Who Said She'd Get Her Home in Order if It Was the Last Thing She Did. Of course most publishers don't like to sign posthumous contracts with an author who is still alive.

But I digress, because my thoughts are so organized...

I like the books that don't make you feel like a loser just because you're not anal about organization. I mean, I can get a system going and that's fun to me, but keeping it going? That's a whole different monster.

So here's hoping the book Clutter Rehab is a big success, and that I get my hands on a copy, courtesy of my chum Rachel.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Gratitude List

My heart is full of gratitude today, and I just feel like shooting off my thanks like a salvo of fireworks on the 4th of July. How about 50, one per state?

1. living in this country, my Home Sweet Home
2. patriotic music, esp. The Star Spangled Banner
3. Old Glory
4. my personal heroes--soldiers who fight or have fought for this country
5. memories of small town American 4th of July events at my grandparents' house

6. my husband's indefatigable work ethic
7. carpet cleaning machine
8. acrylic paint
9. laundry detergent
10. a freshly bathed dog, bathed by my hubby
11. purple petunias

12. my daughter's willingness to serve campers for free for a week
13. the teeny stipend of thanks the camp gave her
14. Good 'n Plenty candy
15. losing 5 pounds in June
16.. buying a size smaller shorts than usual

17. Summer Blast, something like a mix of camp and VBS that our church does
18. nail clippers
19. Egyptian cotton bedsheets
20. waking up at 5:45 a.m. on a holiday with energy to spend
21. air conditioning
22. almost all my flowers and shrubs in bloom the week of our "family reunion"
23. anticipation of a great weekend

24. my Joel's sudden desire to learn to play piano
25. a gifted teen willing to teach him
26. affordable piano lessons forthcoming
27. getting my resume' and cover letter written
28. hope
29. a new reburbished Dyson

30. praying for my hubby's gout to go away, and knowing God hears the prayers
31. iced tea with lemon
32. having had great neighbors for 12 years
33. looking forward to getting to know new neighbors, one of whom is Joel's age and may be
the answer to his prayer for "a part-time younger brother"

34. fresh green beans from the garden
35. watching Joel cook up the beans himself--boil the beans 4 mins then saute' in garlic and butter for 3, then salt and pepper them ....and eat. BEST BEANS EVUH!

36. stopping at Baja Fresh alone at 9 pm one night and running into my parents there, sitting outside and enjoying the weather after their meal, and talking with them another hour while having my meal
37. flip flops
38. finding a deal on a red V-neck shirt for $2.98
39. Sensodyne
40. Stone-textured paint
41. promises from scripture
42. hearing a child confess a sin that he committed two months ago and feeling better after confessing and repenting over it

43. sunshine on my shoulders
44. getting phone calls from my kids
45.. snail mail from anyone, but lately from Steve

46. bug repellant spray
47. baby spinach with sliced strawberries, tossed with my honey/mustard/and salt for dressing
48. a memory foam pillow
49. a back rub to help me breathe better before going to sleep
50. seeing two young girls in my life leave for Zambia within 9 days of each other

Friday, July 01, 2011

Need Supernatural Power to Overcome Natural Procrastination

Okay, so once again I've gotten my bowels in a bind from procrastinating. (I've actually been working on my resume' and cover letter which took a lot longer than I anticipated, but it's finished and submitted!)

Did I mention we're having a little ole' family reunion right here at our place next Saturday? Well, that sounds like I have time to get things in order, but our house guests (relatives from Ohio) are landing here I think on Wednesday.

I don't know about you, but I tend to think I have WAY more time than I actually do. In addition to the things that never quit--laundry, dishes, and meal-making, I also have a nifty little list of Things to Do in 4 Days:

Repaint son's room
Finish painting lamps
Clean house top to bottom
Clear junky stuff off patio and deck
Paint porch
Weed gardens
Plant more colorful flowers on deck (I'm thinking photo ops)
Bathe the dog
Lose 82 pounds
Get a haircut
Get a mani/pedi
Make curtains for family room
Make pillows for sofa
Grocery shop

Think it's doable? Me neither. I think my priorities are food, hair, hands, and feet. My gnomes can handle the rest, right? Oh, wait. They said the 4th of July starts today and they've got plans to take off. And none of them goes by the name Jillian Michaels.

God, give me the grace to do what I should've started 3 weeks ago.