Sunday, November 30, 2008

So many stories to tell

On Thursday (Yes, the Thursday - Thanksgiving Day) I took a bunch of photos of the birds that had decided to visit. This particular shot begs for stories. Maybe because you can see through the door. Doors are always opening and closing, and I can't think of any door anywhere that doesn't have a story to tell. Through the sunroom door we see a variety of birds sharing a bath. The cardinals hold a special place in my heart, and there's a story to be told that I'll eventually hammer out for some audience somewhere.

You may notice that the coping (rock edging) on the pool is amiss. There's a bird standing in a missing tile. 2 years ago we put in the pool (pool owners, like boat owners, all have stories to tell) and the coping is pitting. It seems this is a common problem with saltwater pools and although it was known at the time, the pool company did not put on the recommended sealer. 2 weeks ago the pool company began the process of replacing the coping. We're having to pay for the stones, but the pool company is paying for all of the labor and for replacing the water. I'd love to say that we skillfully negotiated a deal where they paid for everything...but have you ever dealt with a pool company? It takes a special breed.

Today marks the last day of November. I've been diligent in my daily blogs, and I expect to remain a regular. The only difference will be that maybe, just maybe, I'll skip the days when I don't have anything to say. It will be interesting to see where things go from here. My heart is pounding with anticipation - I promised myself that my priority will now be the short stories and the novel that are begging for expression.

I've dusted off and refined a short story I wrote a few months ago. A morbid tale of an unbalanced mother. I'm ready to write another story. One of the two will be submitted to The Chronicle for their annual short story contest.


When I started this blog, it never occurred to me that I would immediately begin a daily exercise of putting my thoughts onto a train of coherent cars that moved along a track for others to follow. I'm not surprised that God has worked on me through this medium and taught me to trust Him, even here.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-9

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What I did for my Thanksgiving Vacation

While my wonderful husband cooked, I spent hours (and hours) blogging. Mostly reading blogs rather than posting anything. It's like unraveling a sweater. You pick up a thread and start tugging on it. Follow it where it takes you and eventually you have a color pile of yarn(s) but not much else to show for your efforts.

Also, I read some fiction:
I did some bird watching. We were on the phone with "M" when I realized the birds were having a fieldday in a waterlogged bucket/planter. There were cardinals, robins, blue jays, finches and more. "C" stopped by on Wednesday (she spent Thanksgiving with her girlfriend's family in Del Rio), and we called "H" (who didn't have turkey or any sort of big meal, but did watch football with her boyfriend and his family).
We finished the first puzzle and started on another. This was the first.
And of course, dinner hit the table and we feasted. My loving hubby fixed us a healthy array of herb turkey stuffed with apples/oranges, turkey sausage and pear dressing, garlic string beans, cranberry/orange compote and pumpkin pie for dessert. Yum! I give thanks!!!
And what's Thanksgiving without advertisements for Black Friday? No, I didn't go shopping, but my son and I played a quick game of "slug bug".

What did you do for Thanksgiving? Anything special?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Baddest Mommy Award, and by "bad" we mean "good"

One day not too long ago, a young and funny mommy found my blog (linked from the NaBloPoMo). She promised to return, and she was true to her word. Although her first visit brought her a charming tale of the fish, her next visit came on a day when guilt was being spread like butter on warm toast. I was riding my angst with the throttle wide open.

Rather than run away frightened, she's honored me with:


And she means "bad" in a good way.

RULES FOR THIS AWARD:
1. Pass it on to 5 other bad mommy bloggers. Bad is the new good, didn’t you know?
2. Link back to the award creator. (Click on the award and you'll get to ExMi's site)
3. Tell the recipients of your award just why you’re rewarding their badness!

Here are my favorite "bad mommy bloggers":

1. Mama Bernard who writes on behalf of her princess. I love that you blog from your daughter's perspective.

2. The Bloggess who contributes to Good Mom/Bad Mom. You make me laugh, and cause me to fondly remember the "young years". Hang on to that spirit, girl!

3. TherExtras - not just a Mom to her own, but a Mom to many. She gives great advice.

4. And similarly, my friend with DownRightFaith who offers parenting tips, but even more importantly moral support for families with children who have special needs.

5. Maggie, Dammit! for keeping it real.

Honorable Mention. The Almost Royal who loves her niece as much as any mother could.

You have each lifted me up in many ways. Thank you!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sanctuary, with thanksgiving

Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and Holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving I'll be a living
Sanctuary for you


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where 2 or 3 meet in my name...

I shall be there with them. Matthew 18:20

I'm breaking free from some relationships that have become unhealthy. I knew when I shared (with the people who love me) some of the details of the unhealthy interactions, I had to be prepared for the feedback to "Run, don't walk, to the nearest exit."

So, as part of my moving-on, turning-over-a-new-leaf, reinventing-of-myself, I'm taking a fresh look at all of my relationships. I'm pruning my vine of branches that aren't productive, that are draining me of energy, leaving me malnourished. By trusting God, I am filled with joy and peace.

I haven't exactly figured out the words I'll use to disentangle myself. I'll choose my words carefully, prayerfully. Since I seek God's wisdom, I must obey. Above all, I must watch my tongue. I must NOT be tempted to validate my actions. I trust that I'm doing the right thing.

And, I put myself before you as a member of the body of Christ, and I ask you to meet me here, for where we are gathered, there He will be also. Although I'm walking away from relationships, I have found new relationships in the network of bloggers. Believers who nourish me and those who are hungry for the bread that satisfies. I pray for this community of faith.

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

Blessings,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A family that gunslings together, clings together?

To be precise, going to the firing range together may not qualify as gun slinging, and "clinging" is not necessarily the goal of a non-dysfunctional family, but...it's good to have activities that can be enjoyed with minimum bickering. Taking turns firing weapons at non-threatening paper targets is something we have come to appreciate as a family activity. Wearing ear-plugs greatly cuts down on the bickering.

I firmly believe that common experiences establish a foundation that will get us through "the tough times". Seeing Mom beaned by a discharged shell is certainly a tale to tell in the cafeteria. Son, I'm here for you.

Lesson learned during today's practice: Fire the small caliber pistol (little holes) 1st. Large caliber (which masks the little holes) 2nd. Otherwise you can't tell where the little holes ended up in the sea of big holes (technical terms: small caliber = .22, large caliber = .45)

Blessings,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Puzzles - reduce, reuse, recycle

Sometimes, like now, I'm faced with a situation that leaves me puzzled. Since "C" left home, "T" has wanted to maintain a relationship with her. Mostly she's ignored his efforts - not surprising given she's a freshman in college and he's a freshman in high school. My concern - I don't think she is a particularly good influence at this point in her life, but I think that is temporary. The current situation has been difficult enough, but now it seems he is being sneaky/cagey about his communication with her - to the point of deleting the entries from the call-log on his cell phone. Since her lying to us was the source of many conflicts, I consider his lying to us about talking to her more fodder for my concerns. :(

Speaking of puzzles.... it's puzzle-time! The winter holiday means it's time to break out the jigsaw puzzles. This year we've picked up a couple of puzzles from Walter Wick, Co-creator of the "I Spy" books. In the absence of sunshine, outdoor activities, and other distractions, there's nothing like zoning out and focusing in on the rhythm of finding and placing pieces together until the picture, no matter how random, is formed.

I wish I could methodically put together the pieces to clarify the picture of our family dynamics and to identify the hidden items.

While I ponder the meaning of life and other imponderables, I'll rest assured that we're being environmentally friendly. Our new puzzle claims to Reduce (contains 90% recycled materials and vegetable-based inks) Reuse (share this puzzle with a friend or donate to a local charity) Recycle (puzzle is 100% biodegradable - leave for curbside pickup).

Peace,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fireproof

We (hubby, "T" and I) saw Fireproof this weekend. I'm not going to tout it as a candidate for an Academy award, but it deserves honorable mention.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Desperate Fishwives (Formerly: Another fish story)


There is no shortage of drama in the fishtank.

We've tried to establish ourselves in a nice neighborhood, free from gangsta's and druggies. The environment is relatively nice, but things tend to be overgrown. A dose of chemicals put the algae at bay and life was good. A week ago, Mama Guppy went into the maternity ward and while Papa danced proudly, darting here and there and asking the other fishies "Are you seeing this? Isn't it great? Don't they look like me?" Mama did what Mama's do and 15 guppies were born.

To the Tetras, all of the guppies look alike anyway, so they were unimpressed with the brood. The other guppy couple was jealous. They hovered anxiously, hoping to snack on the fry, and only occasionally swimming away for a little nookie-action. The guppies are like the PWT of the neighborhood - their morals are deplorable. When Mama quit producing babies and started dining on her progeny, she was returned to the general population. Both male guppies chased her round and round, up and down, not giving her a minute's peace. The other female guppy was completely neglected, and heartbroken by her cheatin' partner. She died within a few days of the birthing drama.

A few days after that, the glorious peacock Daddy Guppy was lying on the floor the tank, from an apparent gunshot wound unknown causes. Did he procreate to death? Is that possible in a guppy? Finally, the local sheriff checked the pH in the tank and discovered a tragic chemical imbalance. In a panic, additional chemicals were added to restore harmony between acid and alkaline. The chemicals have to be added SLOWLY so the panic took a day and a half. Miraculously, the dying peacock Daddy Guppy was soon discovered swimming around the tank, only slightly nibbled on. Meanwhile, the lesser male guppy, widowed at an early age, has completely and holistically entered into a relationship with the whoring Mama Guppy.

And while all of this drama has been playing out in the general population, the baby guppies have been croaking, one right after the other. During the 1st 5 days of their existence, all but one died. That's right, there is only one survivor. Out of 15. The doctor is at a loss as to the cause of these Sudden Guppy Deaths (SGDs). Nor can the doctor explain why one has lived. It is suspected this last fry is a mutant. Or, the nursing staff has finally figured out how to care for baby guppies. It seems the fry were born without a manual, just like human babies.

So, as this episode comes to a close, the pH is in balance - which may promote algae, but apparently also allows the tank dwellers to live. Mama Guppy is alive and well. The wounded peacock Daddy Guppy seems to be on track for a full recovery. The Mama Guppy, who didn't wait to see if Daddy was actually dead before moving on to the next one, is still messing around with the widowed neighbor. And of all things....the Tetras have suddenly been struck amorous. It's amazing what pH balance does for the libido. Are there more babies in our future? Stay tuned....

(Thanks to Barbara for the new title suggestion!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Subtle?


I've never been accused of being subtle, but as part of my evolution I'm occasionally making the effort to be less overt. In yesterday's blog image, the snow was not too obvious, the slug bug was not too obvious, and the fact that my birthday was triggering the introspection and reflection was not too obvious.

I had a fabulous day yesterday. I appreciate that I received girly-girl earrings, a super-bright lamp to replace my crappy expensive Ott-lite lamp that didn't last a year (so I can crochet without eye-strain) and a .45 caliber 1911 style pistol. There's something liberating about being able to crochet and fire a weapon (although not at the same time) while looking stylish.

I received lots of well-wishes from friends and family. It's been a great year and I'm looking forward to another great one.

Blessings!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A new leaf

Last month we visited PA and I snapped this photo. The significance for me is multi-fold: 1) it's snowing, 2) "wedding-bell silver slug bug", 3) the leaves. The image captures trees with green leaves, yellow/gold/red leaves, and no leaves.

I've been in the process of "turning over a new leaf" for a while now. First the seed was planted: two years ago I was asked to name my dream. I realized I wanted to be writing full-time, and eventually accepted that no-one was stopping me except myself. Then I sprouted: the first piece I wrote is being published next month. And I grew: a year ago I began writing for my church's monthly newsletter. I've contributed regularly. Then, I became a tree all covered in healthy green foliage: in September I began to blog, and I mean BLOG! This is my 97th post (counting both sites). I'm 10 days away from finishing my 2nd month of daily blogs. I'm sensing the end of a season approaching. Now that I've established the daily habit of writing, and I embrace and relish the time spent expressing myself, I'm ready to take it to the next level. Although the outward appearance may be dormancy, within is a vitality that will produce results in the spring.

Blessings,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Mother's Angst

All it is is my perspective.

Mother n - something or someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else; origin or source.

Angst n - a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.

Vent v - to relieve by giving expression to something.

Usually I save my venting for my prayers. God hears me and I trust Him. My children and my grandchildren are His. Yesterday I was called to share some thoughts that someone, somewhere needed to hear. Maybe it was you. Maybe it was me.

We are blessed and adopted children of God. Sometimes our trust is tested - how else can we demonstrate obedience? In faith, we must do what we are called to do.

Peace,

Monday, November 17, 2008

One care package with a side of guilt....

Sometimes thoughts pile up and push me in a certain direction. I have to admit, blogging about purses on my parenting site is a bit of a stretch. Maybe I'm just avoiding the things that are really pressing on me. This morning The Almost Royal's post tugged at my heart. Exmi is thinking of moving (happens to be away from parental units) and it's good for me to consider her perspective. I haven't spent much blog-time bemoaning my children's decisions - especially the decisions that led to my grandchildren all being out-of-state/out-of-reach...away from my hugs and kisses. It makes my heart ache.

Grandson #1 is in New York. This weekend I made video recordings of myself and my husband each reading children's books for him. I adjusted lighting and angles. I did retakes. I zoomed in for close-ups. I played around with Movie Maker and spliced all of the bits together, including opening/closing credits. It's a nice production and I'm hoping our #1 grandson will enjoy it. I'm also hoping he doesn't forget us. We're working on plane tickets for a trip in December. I would trade a million minutes of hobbies and a million tears for unlimited access to our little guy. Sometimes, it's all I can do to hold onto my forgiveness and my love of our daughter and not let my sadness & angst spill out when we talk to her. She's in Houston these days....

Grandson #2 is 5 months old and *fortunately* in a nuclear family. I'm pretty sure that's what you call it when Mom and Dad are married and raising their children. This is our daughter in PA that we visited last month. She calls 2-4 times/week and WE LOVE IT!!! She called tonight to get tips on a recipe from her dad. Some day I'll devote an entire blog to the teen angst and parental heartache of two years ago. Cutting and attempted suicide are distant memories, although it's only been two years.... It seems like a lifetime ago.

Our granddaughter is out of reach, location irrelevant. We were recently rocked by the news that her adopted parents thought it best we not be part of her life. We missed her b-day (combo of life circumstances and emotional roller coaster. Who wants to be told they can't come visit their beloved grandchild?), but will try to do better in the future. This is a new role for us. There is no precedent that we can follow. One of our 4 children is adopted but the terms/conditions were so different there are no applicable lessons. I plan to document the story of our blessed granddaughter, and the heartache. Someday I may start an advocacy group for grandparents.

We have no current pictures of Grandson #1. The last we received were from the Spring. We sent a disposable camera and SASE, but haven't gotten the roll back yet. We sent a cable to connect her digital camera to her PC, but .... I know she's busy raising 2 boys of her own, plus her nephew (our G-son). We have been in ~regular contact. The book video is the 2nd one we've sent. These videos definitely help our grandson maintain some bearing on us as a factor in his world. I don't want to be a stranger to him when we finally get to hold him again. At 3 1/2 years old, time is fleeting. We've talked to him on the phone a few times (a fraction relative to the number of messages we've left) and I'm really looking forward to seeing him again. I miss him so much. It's been almost a year and it hurts as much as it did then. I wish I had words of encouragement for TAR, but I have faith that our love for Gs#1 is enough, and the best we can do. That's all I can say to anyone who is not the "custody parent", but who still loves without measure. "Have faith that your love is enough."

We have a few hundred pictures of Grandson #2. The disposable camera/SASE system is working well. We have no way of knowing what the future holds, but it's nice to dream that the PA team will be back in TX come summer. He's 5 months old now, and he'll be 1 year in June. I can only hope they're in town with us to celebrate that milestone. And that we've seen him more than once between now and then.

We have a few pictures of our Granddaughter, but I wish we had more. I want to be an advocate for adoption, but I am in such pain when I think about the sacrifice in letting our granddaughter go to a home that we KNOW is better for her....my heart and my mind are in conflict. It's been awkward (to put it mildy) from the beginning. We don't want to deny her existence, ever. But it definitely makes for some interesting conversations when people (mostly casual acquaintences) ask about our grandchildren. I try to be open from the beginning. "We have 3. One's in NY being raised by his aunt. One's in XXXX being raised by the lovely couple who adopted her. One's in PA with our daughter and her husband." Is it any wonder why we're so proud of M??? We trust God's guidance. We trust our granddaughter's parents. We may not understand the decision to exclude us from her life, but we can't renege now. We must keep our faith.

Meanwhile, this morning I filled out a card & paid for a care package (basket of goodies) to be sent to C (our 3rd daughter) for support during upcoming finals. C has declared herself a lesbian and is roommates with her SO. My response? "Thank you! No grandbabies!" She has declared her religion as Pagan - Goddess Spirituality ... whatever that means. My response? I'm sad, but patient. We raised her to know God. She's 18. This weekend she invited herself over to my parents, who live near the college she's attending. She went with her g-friend and another friend. I've refrained from elaborating on the situation so I won't go there now. It's easy to say "I wish things were different." I'm not who my daughters have rejected. One has already admitted as much. One is coming around. I have hope for the 3rd. {NOTE: Our youngest is still at home, in 9th grade, and has not rejected us....yet.} I remain steadfast in my love. Their rejection doesn't deter me.

I haven't heard from C in over a month. I don't expect or receive any response to the cards I send (she did send an e-mail after the card from Malaysia). I've tried to give her room, but I'm not sure how much space is the right amount. I know if I push, she'll run. If I don't push, she'll resent. I accept that I'm walking a thin line. Maintaining a difficult balance.

But ... I have to admit ... I kinda hope the care package comes with a side of guilt.

And on that note, I think I'll go give my youngest a hug.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I confess! I need a purse handbag.

I am finally ready to admit it. I need a purse handbag. Years ago I went through a bad purse period. Before that, life had been relatively simple. During baby-toting years, purse = diaper bag. Then I was an undergraduate so purse = backpack. Then I worked in Corporate America and purse = brief case. I evolved into a system where I carried cash in my pocket and everything else in whatever I was using to carry my notebook, laptop and wallet (id). The bad purse period was the end of any effort to carry a purse with normal girl-stuff. My last purse was stolen about 6 years ago. I never bothered to replace it. Now, I have to admit, I'm struggling. I'm not sure why, maybe I've let too much complexity creep back into my world. Here's today's system: I carry a simple bag with me to church/Bible Study, I carry a computer bag/carrying case to work, and I have an uber-bag for travel.


Bag for church (I carry a USB storage drive, papers, hand lotion, maybe some lipstick, checkbook, notebook):


Bag for work (laptop, notebook, chapstick, wallet, a few sundries, camera):

This is my travel bag: It has been to Asia and back 4-5 times, plus many local trips, by land and by air. I'm amazed at how much it holds and how well it holds up. My computer and my crocheting, fiction, and all essentials, including food. When I took it to the Deeper Still conference, it carried my Bible and lunch for 2.

Problems with my current system: I keep finding myself without wallet or camera or sundries because I failed to switch things around.

The wallet and the camera are my main concerns:





So if these two little items are all I really need to keep up with, but I have sundries, and the weekday need to sport a computer, what do I do? In case you think you have the answer already, I should mention that my stylish sister is horrified that I wear my cell phone in a holster. Does it belong in the purse handbag? Also note, the real catalyst for the crisis is a pair of outrageously expensive sunglasses. I have a need to keep up with the eyeglass case (which contains my new Rx glasses when I'm sporting the stylish shades).

Any/all style suggestions are welcome. I seem to lack the gene that allows me to shop for a purse handbag.

Meanwhile, I'm searching for scriptural guidance. Luke is the most helpful. In Chapter 10 Jesus sent out 72 as lambs among wolves, without purse or bag or sandals. And in Chapter 12: "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Finally, in Chapter 22: "Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered.
He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. " The time had come for the disciples to be prepared to wend their own way. They could no longer rely on the generousity of others. Similarly, I must be prepared. Of my current options, if I must pick one, my traveling bag is looking to be the best. I'm keeping my eyes open for a better solution...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Guppy Maternity Ward

Last month we did a fishtank-makeover. We had a very sad, lonely, aggressive shark who ate all of his fellow tankmates. The tank had become dark and neglected. We traded the shark in for a handful of community fish (tetras) and quickly added more and more until we had a healthy, thriving community tank. We replaced the hood and took a stab at cleaning up the algae. All in all, it became a tank to admire. I am once again enamored.

Our youngest is at a youth-group camp this weekend (Yes!). Prior to his departure I pointed out that at least one of the females was "expecting". When I realized we were about to have guppettes before the weekend was out, I decided I'd better invest in a guppy nursery. We introduced the nursery just in time - there were guppettes swimming around within minutes of trapping the mama putting the mama in the maternity ward. It is important to use a breeder (aka nursery, aka guppy maternity ward) because GUPPIES EAT THEIR YOUNG. I admire this trait, but we're not going to talk about that right now.

As much as I have fretted over my teens/young adults, maybe it is a temporary condition that leaves me fascinated by these little creatures whose sole ambition seems to be procreation and cannibalizing their young. Generally I let nature take its course (guppy babies are cheap fish food), but I promised my youngest ... so these fry were spared. As soon as mama quit birthin' her babies and started trying to eat them, I returned her to the general population. Here's a picture of the 2 guppy pairs in our tank. You can see that both males have their noses in their partners' "business":


Here's a video I put together of today's fun & games. If you watch the guppies that are outside of the floating breeder, you'll see that they are either hovering (waiting for a snack) or the males are in hot pursuit of the females.
Such entertainment. I could watch for hours.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Keepin' it humble, part ii

Like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. The connection. The peace piece I was missing. The obvious....

"Aim for perfection" (2 Corinthians 13:11). God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Christ is perfect (Hebrews 5:8-9). You and I - we're not perfect. The greatest characters of the Bible, listed in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith, are not perfect. We are made perfect as a body. As the body. The body of Christ. Our perfection is found in Christ.

Like Paul, "if I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness...so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say." God's power is made perfect in our weakness. Therefore we should boast all the more gladly about our weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on us. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 11, 12)

We cannot attain perfection on our own. We must seek a relationship with God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. We must rejoice in our faults since they make such a relationship compelling. We attain perfection with Him, by Him, through Him.

And when I'm trapped behind a slow-poke in the fast lane, I will offer up a prayer for them. I will celebrate my impatience by offering up a prayer for myself. Lord, help me to be patient. Help me to love this brother/sister in front of me enough to let them have their space, their tempo, their imperfect use of the left lane.

Praise God!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keepin' it humble

We had a funny conversation in our Bible study group last night. Not funny "ha ha" but funny "huh?" And it wasn't really a conversation, it was me trying to make a point and realizing I went in a circle and didn't have an obvious conclusion. I'd like to take another stab at it.

1. God created us in His image.
2. No one is perfect except God/Jesus Christ.
3. We are not perfect.
4. We are perfect creations of God.

If God is perfect, and what he creates is perfect, we are perfect. But we are not perfect.

From James 3:2 "We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." It doesn't say this is achievable, but it is certainly a noble goal.

And from James 3:7-9 "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness." (We are so irritating to one another!)

When Jesus began to preach, he challenged us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He pointed out that it's easy to love the people we like. The challenge is to love the people who are "difficult". He summarized with "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

Although we are not perfect, we have to strive for perfection. Perfection is modeled for us in the form of Jesus, the one who is without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:19).

I've been enjoying a period of great blessing, clearly uplifted and carried by the Holy Spirit. And yet, I am left wondering why the guy in front of me insists on traveling in the fast lane if he's not even going the speed limit!!!

Lord, thank you for reminding me that I am not perfect.

Peace,

P.S. For many years I practiced spiritual/emotional self-flagellation of the "I'm not worthy" variety. One of the many blessings of this life is to know that we are all worthy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Money well spent - pass it on


For the price, and the 3 minutes of shower-time, you can't go wrong with the Clean & Clear Soft In-Shower Facial "Steam". The recommendation is to use this product 2-3 times per week. At some point during your shower (I wait until it's all steamy) apply the product liberally, avoiding the eyes. Leave on for 1 minute, then gently massage/scrub and rinse away. Pat dry. Apply moisturizer. That's it.

The product contains alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) so you must remain diligent in your use of sunscreen.
I am loving what this is doing for my complexion. I was already suffering from dry, winter skin and now I'm all soft and scale-free. Although no one has commented, I'm convinced I look younger and fresher. I definitely feel sassier. Maybe because this product is geared toward teens....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

God-given gifts

Happy Veteran's Day! I'm grateful for all who have served and/or are currently serving our country. No matter how you feel about our recent election, I hope you voted. As much hooplah as I heard about setting records, in the end I think only ~1% more voters turned out and celebrated their freedom.

Not everyone is called to the military. In 1 Corinthians 12 we are presented with the analogy that we are all members of one body, each with our own special function. This is so true. It doesn't make sense for us to all be good at the same thing. Item #116 in 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home (Or Else They'll Come Back) is "They should know what they're capable of doing for a living. Not just what they'd like to do."

The concept is an echo of Romans 12. I love the exhortation: Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought.

It is up to each of us to take stock of our strengths & weaknesses, identify where we can improve (no matter what, there is always room for improvement) and embrace who we are, "eagerly desiring the greater gifts."

We should not look to worldly confirmation of our value. My employer traded me off to a supplier. So what? Am I still a blessed child of God? You bet! I think my stock has increased. I trust God to provide. I will do my part to make the most of the talents He has given me. Whether I'm helping my team get set up in our new lab or whether I'm finding something meaningful to blog about, hopefully I'm demonstrating my faith - my love of God and my love of you. You are my brethren, and members of a shared body.

And again, I'm grateful for the members of the body who offer themselves up to protect us as a whole. Happy Veteran's Day!

Peace,

Monday, November 10, 2008

M called

M called tonight. I missed the "why" - it didn't matter. I was glad to hear from her again and I had some new parenting advice, shared by a young mother at our church. When your infant has a cold or stuffy sinuses, express breast milk up their nose. She (young mother) had just tried this for the first time after receiving the advice from her pediatrician, and she said it worked. Let me know if you have ever heard of such a thing. I guess the closest reference I'm aware of would be the Netti pot. {shudder} Apparently the salinity and antibodies from mother's milk help clear infant stuffy noses. Who knew?

M also sent a very sweet, very touching thank you note (for our visit and associated boons).
We are blessed to be able to fulfill our role as parent to a grown (almost 20!) daughter and her family.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm a winner! Proximidade!

Thank you, Jeanette!

"This blog invests and believes, in proximity":

As a proud recipient, I post the following message regarding my "Pay it Forward" nominees:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.

Please give more attention to these writers!

And the nominees are:

My lovely and charming sister, E: A Dallas Diva's Life

And her best friend, MB: 4 Vaughns

Alison and Abigail, my new friends (I'm hoping to coerce Mama into helping me with my French): The Bernard Bunch

And my newest new friend, Cha Cha, who could use the distraction: noodleroux

I cherish Flutter (blazing self-awareness trails), Maggie, Dammit (finding her voice as an advocate for victims of domestic violence) and The Bloggess (random, but always funny) - even more so for their recent (and vastly appreciated) reality-checks. Very connected ladies, and deserving recognition for connectivity in this community. OK, the Bloggess may have gotten wrapped up in Technorati's ranking, but we won't go there. I *think* she was kidding about having to "eliminate" the thousands of bloggers between her and the top position.

Finally, I'm linking to Craftastrophe - doesn't actually meet any criteria other than "not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement" but this site (only 3 days old) made me laugh so hard my sides hurt.

And, because I can't lose sight of the purpose for this site: a shout out to my 14-year-old who doesn't blog, but who otherwise meets the criteria. Somehow our discussion about this nomination led to him begging me not to request his friends be my friends on FaceBook.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My curiousity got the better of me...

...and my geek-within stepped up to the plate. I've figured out the 'link police' tracking system (or at least one of them) which alerts bloggers to the links I've included in my posts. How awesome is that?!? E- let me know when you're ready and I'll pimp out your site.

Peace,

Discipline: If it was easy, everyone would do it

dis·ci·pline n. - activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.

It's not easy. It takes conscious, deliberate effort.

From Wikipedia: In its most general sense, discipline refers to systematic instruction given to a disciple. Self-discipline refers to the training that one gives one's self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behaviour, even though one would really rather be doing something else.

This week I joined the Facebook family. It is crazy! I already have 38 friends. It seems like a good way to get in touch/stay in touch. I'm killing time establishing networks. I'm sure this is productive and rewarding. Oh wait! I'm supposed to be writing! So...time to do my daily post for NaBloPoMo. Hmmm. What to write about? Yesterday I responded to my sister's comment - poking me about my bible-thumpin' ways. I decided to embrace who I am, realizing that what I have to say may render me less popular amongst the fickle blogger crowd, but also realizing that I'm not blogging for the sake of popularity. I'm blogging to share a message. I'm blogging to establish myself as a writer...to develop my voice and style. But it sure does take discipline.

A friend of my sister's posted on her computer monitor "Discipline eliminates regret." I like that. I try to live life without regrets (not just wreckless abandon).
I am on my 45th post in 43 days. On this site, that is. On my non-parenting site I've posted 25 times in the last 43 days. That's a total of 70 posts or 1.63 posts per day (Sorry! I'm an Engineer). Not all of them are tied to scripture, but increasingly I feel compelled to do more than just blah-blah-blah-blog. Maybe the job change shifted my perspective. Perhaps because it seems the right thing to do. Here it is for today:

2 Timothy 1:6-8 "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God.... For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord."

MB - Let me know if you don't want to be linked. I won't be offended. Love you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Hi! My name is Fran, and I'm a Bible thumper"**

**I do not wish to remain anonymous. I boldly declare my party affiliation.

I've been thinking a lot about motivation and discipline. What drives us? What makes our habits compelling? I have an addictive nature. Bad habits come easily. I've quit most of my bad habits. I'm trying to start some good ones. The daily blogging is a habit...is it good or bad?

First came 31 for 21: Get It Down; 31 for 21

Then came November NaBloPoMo.

I had just begun blogging when I stepped onto the treadmill of the daily writing exercise. The first habit I had to break was double-spacing between sentences. With great effort, I've crossed the line - I rarely have to backtrack and eliminate spaces. I've been a trained typist since high school (yes, I took this blow-off class my senior year) and was a professional for 2 years (transcribing legal decisions at over 100 words per minute). Don't imagine that it was trivial to overcome the double-space habit.

In my "alternative writing" (non-blogging) I am learning to single-return/tab between paragraphs (vs. double-return/no-tab). Microsoft eased the pain of that one, but still...it took conscious effort.

Around the end of January I bought (and began using) a journal that inspired me. It's called "The Writer's Desk" and it features occasional photos/quotes from authors. I try to end each day by jotting a few notes about notable events/activities. Since late September, "blog" has appeared daily in my journal entries. I also track whatever I happen to be reading. The "played World of Warcraft" entries are long gone. I've had 2 trips overseas and 2 vacations. Life is recorded. It is now a habit to note what is happening in my world.

Some time ago (I'd have to get off my butt and go check my diary to see when) I started exercising again. Richard and I have had an on/off love affair that started after my first pregnancy. I was given the "Reach" album as a baby shower gift from a friend who loved me enough to care. I weighed in at ~200lb when I left the hospital after my first-born was delivered. When she was about 7 months old I realized the "baby weight" wasn't going away. After two people mistook me for a pregnant lady I considered the jail-time-for-manslaughter vs. diet-&-exercise options and chose the latter. I dusted off the "Reach" album and quit eating cheetos. I remained a lean, mean fighting machine for years. 2nd pregnancy I was "an olive on a toothpick". Afterwards, the undergraduate starvation plan kept the pounds off. Stress at work and the occasional Richard-fling have helped maintain a reasonable balance. I'm a stress-non-eater: I tend to lose my appetite when I'm stressed. With the number of teens in the house dwindling, and a few other factors (I turned 40, had health issues, quit worrying about work), I've had to accept the need to renew the relationship with Richard and we're spending time together just about every morning.

"So what?" you might say. So - I've been doing a 15-20 minute work-out every morning for months and I have not lost a pound! I mean months and months and months. I feel better, I jiggle less, I can climb 4 flights of stairs without having a stroke. I weigh the same. My tools for measuring who I am are inadequate for measuring how I'm changing. I continue to exercise because I'm not looking for reward on the scale by which I measure my weight.

Similarly, I'm blogging every day. Why? To develop my writing skills. To develop the "writing habit". To do something other than develop notebook computers. To share my thoughts on parenting and other twists of life. I've visited a couple of sites where the author is struggling with the self-awareness created by blogging. There is a tendency to seek popularity. To write for the masses. There are writers taking a break from blogging because of the identity-crisis caused by blogging (and the cursed sitemeter). So I started to ask myself, "Why am I blogging?"

THUMP!!

Although 1 Corinthians 9 talks about adjusting our style to win over the folks we're dealing with, I ask myself: "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (1 Galatians 1:10)

I accept that I am not destined to be as popular as Mrs. G, The Bloggess, Maggie, Dammit, Flutter, and others. Maybe there is only one person who will read my blog and be moved. Or maybe no one. I'm not looking for reward on the scale by which I can measure my popularity (sitemeter). I trust that my faith will be rewarded. I know that my skills are improving. I feel better. I jiggle less. Call me a Bible Thumper, a Jesus Freak, even a Holy Roller. There are worse things to be.
Peace,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's not whether you win or lose

Family night. We played Sorry! T won the first round. Darling hubby won the 2nd round.


and Uno Stacko... 3 rounds of hubby tipping the tower.
Good times!

The guys tend to get competitive, but I try to remember that earthly competitions are not about winning or losing. There is no prize on earth worth losing sight of the "crown".

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Powder Blue Slug Bug, no tag back!

If you don't play, you're missing out. My sister and I play. My son and I play. Lots of people play!

I live in (or near) Austin, Texas - not just the live music capital but maybe even the slug bug capital (US, not even touch European claims). Lots of hippies in this neck of the woods.

This picture is from Bryan, Texas where I was bored out of my mind last weekend.

If you read the rules of engagement for "slug bug" (aka "Punch Buggy") you will note that you have to call out the color of the vehicle. My sis and I have upped this by adding adjectives to spice things up. Puce, gun-metal, pond-scum, porcelain, chartreuse .... break out your thesaurus if you want to play with us! I should mention that since she lives 200 miles from here we have to text each other with sightings. Unless we happen to be on the phone, which is often the case - with only one of us actually on the road at the time.

I enjoy playing with my son and it is a great way to break the tension. My loving hubby contributes occasionally, but only since we added adjectives.

Lesson for today: It is important to play games, have fun, and keep things in perspective. And keep your eyes open! You never know when you might spot a slug bug!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Reality Check

An update from the home front:

1) T did his chores this weekend without being prompted, and without complaint.

2) T is not passing all of this classes. We had a rough morning - high conflict. He's put off a project which is due tomorrow. He wanted a ride to school so he could be there by 8 to work on the project with a classmate. Snotty Bad attitude soured parental responses. Today was my 1st day at the new job so I wasn't up for the last minute diversion.

**I'd like to note that he was in a fine mood when I got home and we had a lovely conversation. He really is a good sport.

This weekend, I didn't realize he wasn't passing Band (and is marginal in Geo) or he would have lost Computer/TV privileges. The worst is, I'm ready to book tickets to see Precious Grandson #1 but the deal was he had to passing .... so now we're not going to buy his ticket. I pray that he doesn't go into the "why bother" mode, but I also trust that he will learn the lesson and we can stop this cycle. He is so smart. It is tragic to watch our children target mediocrity.

It is our obligation to our creator to make the most of the gifts He has given us. How do I instill this in my children? How do you? Is it "the generation"?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Young adults of God

This is Part II of "Children of God." The subject has been on my mind, and after much distilling and finally producing yesterday's cup-0-blog, I'm left with some stiffer stuff. I thought I would limit heavy-duty entries, but I have to go with the flow....

One of my very first posts on this site was a tribute to The Prodigal Son. It is easy for me to relate to the father who must have spent hours toiling in the field wondering "where did I go wrong?" There's no mention of his wife, but she was surely in the kitchen kvetching. Raised in a multi-generational family of Episcopalians, we joke about the Jewish mother in all of us. If we are true to our Old Testament roots, we are not far from our Jewish genes.

In today's Sunday School Adult Education Class we strayed from the subject (Ecclesiastes 4:9-16) and got to talking about parent/child relationships. I was hit by the realization that just as I'm most affected by M's turning to us by choice, God has deliberately given us the freedom to choose. He wants a relationship with us because we choose to seek Him. Independence does not require us to neglect the relationship. In independence we can choose dependence. We can, and should, seek a relationship with our Father.

M likes to think we kicked her out, but what we told her was that if she wanted to remain at home she had to follow the rules. Similarly, God has told us that if we want to remain in relationship with him, he has certain expectations. Love Him, and love each other.

I love the blogging community. I have a kajillion things I want to post about. I have another site for non-parenting stuff. In my NoNaBloPoMo (November National Blog Posters Month) commitment for this site, I find myself interwoven with a commitment I made to the Almighty. I will be here daily, but what I post is subject to my daily prayers.

What I thought I'd post today was "Pass It On". If you want Zinnia seeds, click this link.

Peace,

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Children of God

1John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

I have come to see the Old and New Testaments as the ultimate testimonial of parent/child relationships. In the Old Testament, mankind is wayward to say the least. Willful, disobedient, prone to mischief, guilty of every kind of sin and wrongdoing imaginable.

We surely tried God's patience, occasionally warranting a spanking or other stern discipline. In reading through the OT laws, I am reminded of the time that my husband & I explicitly spelled out every expectation and consequence for transgressions. In reading through some of the stories, I can easily imagine God's frustration with us. I can picture my own frustration as a parent. It seems that no matter how much we love our children, or how much we desperately want to protect them from their imprudence, eventually we have to stand back and watch them screw up.

In between the Old and New Testaments there is a long period of silence. God had apparently left us to our own devices. Or maybe just to our vices.

The New Testament establishes a new relationship, with simplified rules. Love God, love each other. If we can master this, the rest will follow. With these guidelines we enter into Christian adulthood. As young adults, we are offered the freedom of choice. There are still consequences for our actions, but our loving Father will stand back and let us screw up. He will patiently wait for us to turn to him. Should we wander away, He will always be there waiting for our return.

Similarly, I remain steadfast in my love for my own children. I remind myself to wait patiently and have faith. I trust our Father to hear my prayers of intercession.

Blessings,