Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm B-a-a-a-ck

The car, the computer, the Bear, and I are home again. I guess you wondered what happened to me those days I was gone. What? You didn't even notice I was gone? Sigh

Anyway, I'm home now where there is no Internet police (long story which may be told in the future, but with a brief synopsis in the following sentence :) ) therefore I am catching up on reading all your blogs. Even though I had a new laptop for the trip and free Internet in my room I was told by the Motel Internet Police that I was no longer able to visit your blogs. So much for staying in touch with the world - or my world as the case may be - while I was away. That means my life really was consumed by basketball this week and little else. Sigh again.

More later once I've unpacked, recharged, and thought of something more to say. This may take awhile as I am no longer "Too Tired in TN" but "Out of Oomph in OH."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Too Tired to Think in TN

Tuesday is usually the day that I post my thoughts about understanding and combating depression. Not this week.

I have had a marathon day of traveling to Tennessee for the basketball tournament. I really don't want to think about "depression" right now. My car was part of a 5 vehicle caravan that made an excruciatingly long journey today. Did you know that it is no fun to follow a bus? Trust me. I finally had enough while maneuvering through rush hour in Knoxville and struck out on my own. (I had a co-pilot, so I wasn't totally on my own.) We all ended up in the same place, just not at the same time.

Being here in Dayton, TN has brought back many memories. I know that I usually save my Walk Down Memory Lane posts for Wednesday, but I won't be posting one tomorrow. Y'all can click the button on my left sidebar and visit Lynette Kraft's blog, Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground anyway just to read the memories linked there by others. I'll be back with my own next week when today's trip will be just a memory, too.

Did y'all notice how easily I've slipped back into southern-speak? It came back to me like I'd never left it.

Many things came back to me today. I remember two previous visits to this very city many years ago. Pastor Dad would probably remember the ferry ride across the TN river and the way it seemed to aggravate a very nasty stomach bug that he had acquired. The ferry is now gone. It was replaced by a bridge. I was saddened by that realization.

I also passed the courthouse where we brought a group of kids after Vacation Bible School one year. We were visiting where the Scopes trial took place. Memories...

I saw the sign stating that Fall Creek Falls is just a few miles up the road. I remember how the Bear used to call the place "Hiking the heights" in reference to both the hilly hike we took to the falls and the VBS theme that year. I didn't tell any of his basketball buddies about that today. I didn't want to embarrass him. I noticed the only time the Bear sidled up to me today was when he needed money for food. Then he wasn't embarrassed to be seen with his own private ATM (Ask The Mom).

I'll keep you up-to-date on my travels if I'm not too tuckered each evening. I must do something to make it worthwhile to have a new laptop and access to free Internet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!

'Twas the day before her birthday
And folks gathered with glee
To honor their loved one
Known as little Sweet Pea.

It seemed that the compliments
Were always on hand
For food, punch, and snacks,
Especially "Cake Candyland."

Would she like all her presents?
That was never an issue
As long as dear Sweet Pea
Could tear through the tissue.
Happy Birthday little Sweet Pea;
Can't believe that you're two!
No matter how old you grow
I'll always love you.

Love, Gram

Saturday, February 21, 2009

100 Things About Yours Truly

Hmph. The blog police have spoken. I didn't even know there were blog police when I started blogging. And I certainly didn't know that I knew them personally. But yet, somehow, I'm not surprised :))

So here is a list of 100 things about me to satisfy curiosity and to keep me out of trouble. Thanks to all of you for helping me celebrate my 100th post. (Where is the confetti? There ought to be confetti. And balloons.)

  1. I'm the mother of the blog police sheriff.

  2. I'm the pastor's wife to her deputy.

  3. One of my favorite television shows is "Monk."

  4. I don't have any known phobias.

  5. Except for a fear of heights, which I just looked up, and mine is not the true definition in that mine doesn't go as far as acrophobia.

  6. Airplanes and tall buildings are fine. Rooftops are not.

  7. Which might mean I'm more afraid of falling than of heights.

  8. Couldn't find the specific name for the definition of that one.

  9. The phobia list shows fears of falling, meaning while walking. While that should apply to me (think back to when I fell down the steps and broke bones in both feet) it doesn't.

  10. Falling off rooftops does apply.

  11. Because I'm a klutz and I don't like looking down.

  12. I collect pictures of dead people.

  13. They are of my ancestors.

  14. They were alive when their pictures were taken.

  15. I read the encyclopedia when I was a kid.

  16. I'm alone a great deal of the time these days.

  17. Even when I'm with the Bear.

  18. Usually I'm cool with that. I get a lot done.

  19. I used to want to be alone a bit more than I was.

  20. I've never won a trophy. For. Anything.

  21. My decorating style is kind of shabby. Not shabby chic. Just shabby. I blame the pets we've had through the years.

  22. Excepting the first year we were married and living in an apartment I've always had either a dog or a cat.

  23. Or both.

  24. I was my school's spelling bee champ in 6th grade. No trophy was awarded.

  25. I'm a visual/kinetic learner.

  26. I read the Bible through at least once every year.

  27. I'm preparing now for a "speaking gig" in March.

  28. It's at a breakfast for pastors' wives.

  29. I'll need to make sure I get up before breakfast on that day.

  30. I'm concerned about speaking to a group of women who know more about my subject than I do. Talk about preaching to the choir!

  31. I sing alto. I mean in the choir, not when I am guest speaking.

  32. I earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

  33. I earned a master's degree in religious education.

  34. I still feel uneducated most of the time.

  35. I had the chicken pox when I was almost 30 years old.

  36. I had the German measles about 4 times when I was a child. (I liked 'em so much I kept going back for more. Ha!)

  37. I've been vaccinated against German measles after each pregnancy except the first one. Immunity never seemed to take.

  38. I'm extremely shy but not in a phobic way.

  39. I have trouble making friends.

  40. Always have.

  41. Broccoli is my favorite vegetable.

  42. I usually make Sunday dinner for about 10 people.

  43. Dessert, too.

  44. I make lists for everything because it is the only way I can stay on track.

  45. I like to ride bikes.

  46. I had a fit when I logged on yesterday and found my blog was missing except for the template. No telling how long it looked that way before I got it fixed.
  47. Pastor Dad took me to see Michael Buble in concert last year for my birthday.

  48. My taste in music is pretty eclectic.

  49. I like Alison Krauss, too.

  50. I'm the registrar for my chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

  51. I've helped 42 women join in the past few years.

  52. I choose to keep my blog identity anonymous because my real one is plastered all over the Internet at genealogy websites.

  53. I don't use my mother's maiden name as the answer to security questions just because my name and genealogy are plastered all over the Internet. (The rest of you might want to take the hint. Public records are just that. And many of them are available online.)

  54. I wrote a book about my German ancestry. I hope to have it available this year. It won't be published using a pseudonym.

  55. During the warm weather months I dress up in historical garb and volunteer as a tour guide at a local historical site.

  56. I enjoy doing cross stitch, but only when I'm riding in a car or stuck in a hotel room. I don't sit down long enough at home to get anything accomplished.

  57. And I have to keep the needles away from Pepper.

  58. I get compliments when I wear the color red.

  59. I wear red a lot. :)

  60. Pastor Dad tells me I'm beautiful.

  61. Pastor Dad is prejudiced and I allow him to be.

  62. I like dressing up.

  63. But I get self-conscious if I see anyone looking at me.

  64. I don't understand the rules of basketball except the part about the ball going through the hoop.

  65. I'm a baseball fan.

  66. The Cincinnati Reds are my favorite team even when they do poorly, which is pretty much all the time.

  67. The Indianapolis Colts are my favorite football team. Go Peyton!

  68. I like to work Sudoku puzzles on paper and not any other way.

  69. I make notations when I work Sudoku and that is hard to do unless the puzzle is on paper.

  70. I like to work crossword puzzles, too, if they aren't too difficult.

  71. I like to work jigsaw puzzles, although most of the ones I've done recently were online instead of out of a box. See here for one such site.

  72. I like to read poetry.

  73. I've written a few poems also.

  74. I miss the big yard we had in TN.

  75. I'd like to have that yard with this house.

  76. I'd like to have the vegetable garden, too.

  77. I like to travel.

  78. We traveled all over the USA on our vacations when I was a child.

  79. I always wanted to take piano lessons when I was younger.

  80. I played clarinet instead.

  81. Not well.

  82. I'm a night owl married to an early bird.

  83. I used to require about 9 hours of sleep in order to function.

  84. Not anymore.

  85. I took roller skating lessons when I was a child.

  86. I've never been hospitalized for anything except childbirth.

  87. I can remember my grandma's phone number. She died when I was 16.

  88. After I gave birth to Lulu I weighed less than 100 lbs.

  89. On doctors orders I drank milk shakes every day to increase my weight.

  90. I wish I still had to drink a daily milk shake for my weight.

  91. Slim-Fast doesn't count.

  92. I like to lift weights.

  93. I don't like to do floor exercises.

  94. I like to take long walks.

  95. With Pastor Dad, not Pepper.

  96. I value sentimental things over valuable things.

  97. I smile and laugh a lot.

  98. I used to volunteer at a homeless shelter once a month when I was a teenager along with others in my youth group.

  99. I'm donating $100 to it, City Gospel Mission, in honor of this 100th post.

  100. I'll do a contest also once I find something appropriate to give away. (Heavily used basketball, anyone?)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Getting Ready For Road Trip # ??

This trip is a biggie. And I've lost track of how many Road Trips I've enumerated so far therefore the question mark must do. There have been several of them and many more that I didn't write about. So many in fact that I'm starting to feel like Dorothy Lamour to the Bear's and Pastor Dad's Bob Hope and Bing Crosby except next week Bing won't be going with us. Bob and I, er, Bear and I will be striking out on our own.

We're heading to Dayton, TN where our basketball teams will be competing in the NACA tournament. Returning to the state of his nativity to worship at the altar of his favorite team sport has become an annual pilgrimage for the Bear. I'm kidding! At least about the worship part. The "C" stands for "Christian" and this event is as much a revival meeting as it is a sporting event. The rest of my statement is on the mark though. And this year I get to tag along whether the Bear wants me to go or not. Perhaps especially because the Bear isn't real keen on me tagging along. Hmm.

The games will be live-streamed on the Internet. I'm guessing that's just for the varsity games, which the Bear won't be playing, but if you are interested in where we are and what we're doing you might want to check it out. Or if you just get to the point where you really, really miss me you can take a peak in real time at what this Hillbilly is seeing at that exact moment.

I'm not sure if I'll be blogging during my absence. It depends. Rumor has it that a laptop is in my future. If so, then it will all depend upon what's available in WiFi and whether or not I have the time or energy to mess with figuring it all out. I suspect I'll be pretty tired after long days of basketball and I won't even be one of the players. And I'm still fooling with that cell phone that I got when I "traded up" a couple of weeks ago. That stupid thing has a mind of its own and I'm about to go back to the Stone Age one I had before. If a phone can confound me one can only imagine what will happen when I get my hands on a new computer.

In other news, yes, I am aware that this marks my 99th post, meaning that I need to do something special to mark my [Drum roll] 100th post. I've noticed that lists seem to be popular to mark such an event. Um, has anyone noticed that I've spent a lot of time in the past week making lists? Somehow, the thought just doesn't appeal to me right now. And is there really anything that you don't already know about me? Besides my real name, I mean, and most of my readers know that, too. You know that I lose my temper sometimes and I feed squirrels when I'm trying to feed birds - those two facts are often related - and that I have participated in memes of the list-making variety such as the one here and here and even here. Those don't even cover the personality quizzes I took which should just seal the deal right here and now. See how well you know me? Why do I need to make more lists?

If you've got some suggestions about what you'd like me to do to mark this momentous occasion (okay, momentous to me) drop me a comment. Perhaps some of the lurkers can take this opportunity to tell me what you're thinking. I see where you come from, I just don't know who you are. And "Anonymous" is fine for commenting. I don't use my real name and it won't offend me if you don't use yours. Just comment. It really would encourage me. I tease about talking to myself by blogging. I don't want to do it in reality.

Act quickly! I need to get that 100th post up before I hit the road just so it doesn't mistakenly end up being about basketball! Although, I can't think of any topic more appropriate to commemorate how we've spent the last few months together.

You want to know why I call this trip a biggie? It marks the end of the basketball season for another school year. =D>

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Greek Geek Speak

I had the honor earlier this week of watching the Princess being honored when she was inducted into Alpha Chi. This is the second college to award her for academic excellence. The state university that she attended her freshman year made her part of an honor sorority which I think was Lambda Pi Eta. She can correct me if I'm wrong. As the saying goes, "It's all Greek to me!"

(Correction: She is a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda. It seems that the "Lambda" was the only thing I had right. Sorry, Princess. And thanks for the correction.) :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Letting Go


When I was speaking with my daughter, Lulu, by phone the other day she reminded me of something that happened several years ago when she was engaged to Dan. It is not a pleasant anniversary but one that serves as a reminder of a valuable lesson God taught me.

On that Saturday in February, Lulu and one of her bridesmaids were going to a bridal show downtown. Pastor Dad and I had gone to church to meet with others who were going out to invite people to attend church.

Most everyone else had just left to make their visits when the church phone rang. I answered it. What I heard chilled my heart. Lulu and her friend had been in a wreck about 30 minutes earlier. Lulu was the passenger in the car driven by her friend. Their car had been hit head-on by a speeding passenger truck when its young driver had crossed the center line while passing cars on a curve. The policeman could not tell me anything about Lulu's condition. All he knew was that she was still alive when the ambulance left the scene.

Pastor Dad and I practically flew to that hospital but even as fast as we were going I don't ever remember a drive taking so long. When we arrived they would not give us any information because she was over the age of 18. We told them that if she was dead we were the next of kin to be notified so they better find someone to talk to us quickly. Pastor Dad also had his hospital clergy badge that allows him access to church members but he didn't want to use it before knowing what he would find. It is one thing to be a pastor making a consolation call and quite another to need one yourself.

After awhile, a doctor came out to talk to us. He said they were checking her for internal and head injuries and that she had some nasty cuts on her legs and feet that were going to need to be repaired. We were to wait for further updates and to stand ready to sign surgical release forms.

Her friend's parents were in the waiting room with us. Every so often the nurses would tell them that they could go back to be with their daughter because she was asking for them. No one came for us. When we asked if Lulu knew we were there they just shrugged in a noncommittal way. Our patience wore thin that afternoon while we waited to see our daughter.

After several more hours, (yes, hours) a nurse told us that Lulu had no internal bleeding and that all of her injuries were the type that would be fixed through stitches and plastic surgery. We finally were able to go back to see her about 4 hours after the wreck.

Of the three young people in the wreck she was the one with the least serious injuries but hers were serious enough. As it turned out, she was able to go home with us that night. She spent the next weeks using crutches and wheelchairs. We were so thankful for God's mercies.

God taught me a tremendous lesson that day. I had been fretting about Lulu's upcoming marriage. At that time Dan was completing USAF tech school and thought he might be receiving orders to go to South Korea. That meant Lulu would be moving halfway across the world. How would she cope? How would we cope? I could hardly bear the thought. Such a distance would mean that we would probably only see her every couple of years or so. What if she needed us? Besides the fact that I would miss her terribly I was concerned for her safety.

That day God spoke to my heart and said, "Don't you think you can completely turn her over to me now? There isn't anywhere in this world where she can go that I won't be there protecting her. You, on the other hand, couldn't even keep her safe less than ten miles from home. Trust Me."

Whenever I start feeling fretful I remember this wreck and what a poor protector I am. Then I turn my children back over to the One who holds them safely in His hands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Futility

This is the second lesson in a series on battling depression. The first is found here. I hope this lesson encourages someone today.



Have you ever been required to do something that you knew was doomed before you began? Or something seemed like a good idea at the time but later it became obvious that it was going to fail? Or perhaps through circumstances beyond your control you found yourself on the sidelines watching the game of life instead of participating in it?

This feeling of futility can cause depression and is one that I have often observed. You have probably encountered it, too; perhaps even suffered from it yourself occasionally.

It can often be identified when a person throws up his hands in exasperation and says, “What’s the use?” This question signals that the person believes failure is imminent and concludes that further effort is a complete waste of time.

Futility often either strikes those who are having a hard time recovering from illness, the elderly who have been confined to hospitals and nursing homes, or preachers who pour their hearts into their ministries only to feel that no lives are being changed. There might be other circumstances that cause it to surface as well.

It is not uncommon for those whose health was once vigorous to reach the point of depression when they become so ill that their recovery, if indeed recovery comes at all, takes longer than anticipated. Perhaps the rapid advances in the field of medicine have tempted us to believe that almost anything can be cured instantaneously. This is not so, even though we are blessed to have excellent medical care available.

When I visit nursing homes I hear over and over again the following complaint, “Why has God left me here? He should just take me home. I cannot do anything anymore.”

I had an elderly aunt who lived in a nursing facility. She was once a vibrant, untiring worker for the Lord. Ruby was my grandma’s youngest sister and the sole survivor of her generation. She had no children of her own and her beloved husband of many years had died several years before. She would open her heart to me in frustration whenever I visited and I am sure she did likewise to any who walked through her door. Her mind was as sharp as ever but her body had failed her miserably.

One day I told her, “Aunt Ruby, God left you here because your job is not finished. If it were, He would take you home. I think I know one reason why you are still here with us on earth. You’ve seen a lot in your 95 years and you’ve ministered to many people. You know better than anyone the obstacles a minister and his wife encounter. Your new assignment is to be a retired soldier who prays for those who are on the front lines. Your job is to pray for us.”

She smiled at me and told me that I was right. She prayed for me and for all of her large group of nieces and nephews, all 4 generations of us, daily. Whenever I visited after that I would ask her if she was remembering to pray. The gentle reminder of our previous conversation would cheer her a little. A few times she told me of some opportunities that she encountered to witness for the Lord there in the nursing home. When she died some of my cousins said they couldn’t grieve because she wanted to go home. I didn’t grieve for her but I grieved terribly for myself. I lost an intercessory prayer warrior.

In my position as pastor’s wife I have met many families going to and returning from the mission fields. Those going are excited and challenged by their future. Those returning often show signs of depression caused by futility. The worst case I ever encountered was of a missionary family who had spent years in Norway without making a single convert. They did not question that God had called them to that field but they did question why He did not give them a harvest for their years of faithful sowing. After another unsuccessful attempt they returned home to seek further direction from the Lord.

Such despondency is not reserved just for those who minister in foreign countries. Many domestic pastors reach the same level of frustration when they prepare spiritual food each week only to see their congregations reject nutrition for worldly junk food.

Noah was just such a preacher. Like us, he was only a sinner saved by grace. He believed God and obeyed Him by building the ark to save mankind and the animal kingdom from extinction. According to II Peter 2:5, Noah was preaching as he was building. It is evident that none heeded as the only ones who entered the ark were Noah and his family. In Noah’s case, preaching to the masses was futile.

But obeying God was not futile. Noah and his family did not suffer the same fate that the rest of mankind did. They were spared certain destruction.

After Noah and his family disembarked from the ark he became a vineyard keeper. I do not pretend to understand all that happened in the next event that the Bible reveals, but whatever it was, it was sinful. I wonder if those years of futile preaching had anything to do with Noah’s drunkenness.

We rejoice in the story of Noah’s triumphant salvation from the flood but do we consider what his life was like after it? Perhaps all those years of preaching without having even one convert tore at this heart. Perhaps the faces of people he knew who perished in the flood haunted him at night in his dreams. His neighbors all died. Not only did they die a physical death but they died a spiritual one as well. That realization alone would be hard to bear.

Perhaps the loneliness of having no one beside family with whom to converse caused Noah to escape reality through alcohol. This is all speculation. Only God and Noah know what went on in Noah’s heart during those years when the earth’s population was sparse. I can only surmise that the memory of its former population lived on in his mind.

Unlike Adam and Eve who lived alone in the world with just their own family and knew no differently, Noah and his family could possibly have longed for the people they knew previously. Perhaps their own impotence to make others believe the message depressed them. The Bible doesn’t say if it did but what it does say in the gospels is that things are not so different today than they were in the days of Noah. I think it is reasonable to conclude that the feeling of futility existed then as well.

What is the remedy to futility?

First, read the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the saints, including us, while imprisoned. Yet it is full of encouragement. Paul used the words “joy” and “rejoicing” often. He spoke of consolation, otherwise defined as comfort. He said to look to Christ if we want an example of how the Messiah handled being taken from a lofty position to a humiliating one. Paul told us that he himself learned to be content no matter in what condition he found himself. Evidently there is no excuse for not experiencing joy.

Second, realize that you still have a ministry. It may not be the one you had or wanted to have, but you still have one. Time and circumstances change what we do and the way we do it but it does not change the commission.

Third, think on the proper things (Philippians 4:8, 9). That might mean not watching depressing television shows or listening to depressing radio programs. It might mean rejoicing in small victories like being able to get dressed for the day or filling your mind with inspiring stories.

Fourth, remember who you are serving. Pastors and Christian workers often need to be reminded that it isn’t a matter of notching conversions on their Bible. It is a matter of doing exactly what Noah did by warning everyone to flee from the wrath to come. Let God take care of the results, if any. Remain faithful in spite of the results or lack thereof.

Fifth, if ministering in one field proves to be futile, try ministering elsewhere. Jesus told his disciples not to waste time on cities where the people did not welcome the good news. He said to shake the dust of that city off their clothes and go to another. Shouldn’t we do likewise?

Sixth, know that there is an answer to the question, “What’s the use?” The answer is that you are influencing someone whether you know it or not. Time is ticking by. Someday your children, grandchildren, friend, neighbor, or total stranger might be in the same predicament that you are in now. The way you handle yours will teach them negatively or positively. It is your choice. You are to be a testimony of God’s grace no matter what comes your way.

Seventh, do not quit. Nowhere in the Bible does God allow us to resign. What you are doing is not futile if God put you in that situation. Only He knows the day of our death and until that time He expects us to be doing His work. This means that we should not give up when it comes to striving for better health, or telling others about the salvation from sin that God offers.

Eighth, encourage others. Ask God to show you someone who needs your encouragement and then obey when He answers. Even people in nursing homes can encourage their visitors. I know. I’ve been encouraged many times by residents I’ve gone to encourage. It is all a matter of their attitude.

It was God’s message in Noah’s day and it is still God’s message today. We are just the messengers. Go spread that message. There is a plan and a purpose even if only God knows what it is.

Don’t quit!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Equal Time, Valentine

*Late note: the comments only serve to prove several points: 1. They did feel slighted. The vote was unanimous. 2. They really are as much family as the women they married. :) Love ya guys!

This is the addendum to my lists of reasons why I love my husband and children. It seems the sons-in-law (or two of them, anyway) felt slighted. Or so the Sunday dinner table discussion would lead me to believe. So without further ado I will now submit 10 reasons why I love each one of my sons-in-law.

Anyone read Ephesians 1:6 lately? Well, yes, if you go to our church you did. Anyway, it wasn't until boys started asking permission to marry my girls that I received a greater understanding of what it means to be "accepted in the beloved." With that in mind, let's begin.



Ten Reasons Why I Love Prince Charming
  1. He has been around my family for so long that I sometimes forget that I am not the one that gave birth to him. However, I know his mother well and am not trying to steal her thunder or labor pain stories. But I have known this kid well for 24 of his 32 years.
  2. He picked Pastor Dad to be his mentor. If that doesn't show good judgment I don't know what does.
  3. He picked Karen to be his wife. Ditto.
  4. He is a great daddy to my granddaughters. He has a lot of patience. (He needs it now, and the need is only going to get greater as time goes on. Trust me.)
  5. He has a heart for children. Not many could do the kind of ministry to children that he does.
  6. He doesn't mind being teased by his in-laws.
  7. He has been a great example for the Bear to follow. He began courting Karen when the Bear was less than 2 years old so the fact that they are not related by blood hasn't occurred to either of them, I don't think.
  8. He's good at board games. Too good. I've grown weary of trying to win. sigh
  9. Hugging him works the knots out of my back. He's a good foot taller than I am.
  10. He has this endearing way of saying my name. (Family joke. I don't think he's ever said my name except one time when Pastor Dad asked him to pray before I cut my birthday cake and he spluttered and stuttered a bit. Most of the time his conversations with me begin, "Hey, would it be okay if...." :)

Ten Reasons Why I Love Staff Sergeant Dan

  1. I've only known Dan for 10 years and 5 of those he has been my son-in-law so I haven't had as much time with him, but like Prince Charming, SSgt. Dan is like a son to me. I love him for letting me write newsy letters from home while he was going through boot camp 6 years ago.
  2. He has the endurance to be married to the Energizer Bunny. Which he is.
  3. He enjoys the things we do when we take vacations together. Being out somewhere with Dan and seeing things through his eyes is like seeing something the first time again yourself.
  4. He has the ability to sleep through anything. Even loud ceramic tile-cutting saws that sound like they are killing cats on his driveway right outside his bedroom window when he's trying to sleep after night shift duty.
  5. He's willing to serve our country. And he volunteered to go overseas. And he was willing to come back home to Lulu. Thanks Dan!
  6. He's an athlete who doesn't mind sharing his knowledge with his young brother-in-law.
  7. In Pastor Dad's words, "He's so patient with all of us." 'Nuff said.
  8. He has the same "likes" as Lulu. He seems to like dogs, home remodeling, and traveling.
  9. He loves the Lord and his wife. (Perhaps that should have been #1 but I'm not renumbering now.) That means he's keeping the promises that he made to us when he asked for her hand in marriage. Keep it up!
  10. He doesn't talk badly about his mother-in-law coming to visit, at least not in front of her. :)

Ten Reasons Why I Love Prince Valiant*

  1. Even though this young man has been my son-in-law only since last year he has been "a regular" around the house since he was 11, either with his now-wife, the Princess, or hanging around with teens who came in and out when Lulu, Dan, he, and the Princess were teenagers.
  2. He's a hard worker who knows it is his job to provide for his little growing family.
  3. He has the ability to comfort the Princess when she is upset, which can happen easily in her current pregnant state.
  4. He is a great uncle. Karen's girls don't remember a time when he wasn't part of their lives. Marrying the Princess just made the relationship with the girls official. (Much like the Bear can't remember life before Prince Charming being "official.")
  5. He has a very tender heart that not many people see. (I saw you affectionately patting your father-in-law on the back at church a few weeks ago. Nice touch!)
  6. Hugging him straightens my posture. I think he might be even taller than Prince Charming. (Hugging those two is cheaper than paying a chiropractor. I shouldn't tell them that. They'll start sending me bills.)
  7. He made me some promises when he married the Princess last year. I expect he'll keep those promises.
  8. He's an honor student working full time at completing his college degree.
  9. He's really talented at making Wii Mii characters to look like "the real thing." Even Fergie. Or so I've been told. (Pepper is jealous.)
  10. He's the daddy of our Little Beanie Baby. I can't wait!

They laughed when I didn't make lists for my grandchildren because it was "obvious" but felt the need to do so for my children. Well, duh! They are my grandchildren!

1-10.They are perfect! Either that, or I don't have to raise them. Same thing.

Any one else feel like I need to make a list of why I love you?


Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Is In The Air

Happy Valentine's Day

Of course I've noticed that it is almost Valentine's Day! I'm not totally oblivious. But if it is true that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach (and I don't have any intention of debating that little saying) just remember that I've got a hubby and son with stomachs that need filling. Feeding them is just one of the ways I can show them I love them, hence all the recent posts about shopping.

I knew I'd find a way to segue if I just thought about it awhile.

Keeping with the theme of love I thought I'd give you 10 reasons why I love the immediate members of my family. That would be my husband and 4 children. I love my grandchildren, too, but my reasons are so obvious, why should I list them? I love my in-laws, too, some of whom read this blog so I'll just say, "Hi!" and "I love you! Have a great weekend!" I love my parents but the last time I sent them Valentines I was, oh, perhaps in first grade. I don't want to shock them. I love my 3 sons-in-law but everyone, especially they, would think it ultra-weird to list 10 reason why. Plus, they are covered under the above in-law clause. :)

Ten Reasons Why I Love "Pastor Dad"
  1. He loves the Lord. And me.
  2. He is willing to work hard for the sake of the ministry.
  3. I've never had to worry about whether or not he would take care of our family financially. Like the Apostle Paul he "makes tents" whenever necessary.
  4. He remembers birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. Forgetting our 4th anniversary taught him a valuable lesson.
  5. He is my favorite male vocalist. Ever. Take that Michael Buble.
  6. He's a wonderful dad. We were always on the same page when it came to how big the family should be and on how they should be raised. No fights about whether to home-school or not. No fights about types of punishment, etc. The kids have always respected their dad.
  7. He's very, very intelligent. Pure genius.
  8. He keeps his temper under control. Usually. Basketball refs are the exception. :)
  9. He likes to take walks, ride bikes, shoot baskets at the driveway hoop, and toss a baseball. I'll let you figure out which activities are with me and which are with the Bear.
  10. He's always available to me. If I call him he'll drop whatever he's doing to help me.

Ten Reasons Why I Love Karen

  1. I didn't understand parental love until I looked into her little blue eyes on the day of her birth. Being the firstborn, she taught me that.
  2. She was a very dependable babysitter for her siblings as she was growing up which enabled me to drop everything and run if Pastor Dad called and said we needed to make a visit together. Or have lunch together. Whatever.
  3. She is very intelligent - genius even - like her daddy.
  4. She is a faithful wife and mother.
  5. She is my favorite piano player in the whole world.
  6. She chose to follow in our steps in the ministry as a pastor's wife. Lots of p.k.s run away fast and furiously. Her love of the Lord led her to follow His leading and surrender her life to His will.
  7. She is a wizard of finance.
  8. She has a witty sense of humor.
  9. She doesn't hold grudges. Or does she? I don't think so...
  10. She bends but she doesn't break. Very important.

Ten Reasons Why I Love Lulu

  1. Being an only child, I didn't understand that a parent could love their second child as much as their first. She taught me that love multiplies, not divides, when the family grows larger.
  2. She is extremely intelligent, also a genius. Her areas of expertise are different than her sisters' but she is brilliant in her field.
  3. She is our tall, dark, statuesque beauty. She seems comfortable in her skin and I admire that.
  4. She is willing to go wherever SSgt. Dan and the USAF take them. No small accomplishment for Lulu.
  5. She is my favorite female singer in the whole world.
  6. She has a tender heart for animals. All sorts. All numbers. She's good with their owners, too, and that's why her pet sitting business has been so successful.
  7. She is a wizard at home improvement. I'm so-o-o looking forward to putting her to work, er, I mean, having her here. :)
  8. She has a witty sense of humor.
  9. Even after she grew up and left a pastor's home she remained faithful to the Lord.
  10. She is a good friend to many. Everybody loves Lulu.


Ten Reasons Why I Love The Princess

  1. She was the baby God almost took from us a couple of times in her first 2 years of life. I feel blessed that we have her here with us 20+ years later.
  2. She is very intelligent, a genius really, and her confidence in this area has grown tremendously during her college years. (Congratulations on the honor society induction!)
  3. She doesn't hold grudges. Many of us are thankful for this. And many should be.
  4. She's a good worker. Her bosses wonder how they ever got along without her.
  5. She's never met a stranger. Ask our pastor emeritus about the first time he met her. :)
  6. She desires to raise her Little Beanie Baby for Christ. She left her childhood home recently but not her childhood faith.
  7. She repents quickly when she sins. Evidence of the Holy Spirit at work.
  8. She's my favorite blond of all time. The prettiest, too. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe didn't have anything on our petite little blond. And the Princess' hair color is natural.
  9. She has a lot of spunk. Dynamite comes in small packages.
  10. She is so good to her sisters and her brother. The bond of love between all of them is a wonder to behold (and a joy to this mama's heart).

Ten Reasons Why I Love The Bear

  1. He loves the Lord and reads his Bible. He isn't afraid for others to know that. That makes him an unusual teen-aged boy.
  2. He has a very tender heart underneath that tough exterior.
  3. He respects womanhood. One mother told me that her daughter had this to say about him, "He's the nicest boy I've ever met." Nice to hear.
  4. He loves his country. Patriotism and all that it means courses through his veins. Someday I'll watch him leave to join the military. The few. The proud. The Moms of the Marines.
  5. He likes animals. Dogs and cats, especially.
  6. He's an exceptional athlete (golf, taekwondo, and basketball) but you'd never know it to hear him talk. He's humble that way.
  7. He's very protective of his sisters. NOBODY better bother them. He's their baby brother but soon he'll also be their big brother (in height).
  8. He is a lot of fun to have around. The number of friends that hang around our house are testimony to that.
  9. He's one of those "afterthoughts" that turned out really well. :)
  10. He's my favorite boy in the whole world.

Happy Valentine's Day, Family!

I love you!

Good Deal at Biggs

Okay, yes, I am on a shopping kick right now. That's because we've slowly been replenishing the freezer that had to be emptied when the power was off in September due to Hurricane Ike. We're getting there slowly but surely. Last night I came across a deal at my local Biggs - besides the Pump Perks, which is coming along nicely, I might add - and I felt I should alert some of you just in case you are interested.

I stopped at Biggs to buy their skinless, boneless chicken breast for $5.99 because that purchase alone allowed us to get $0.15 off per gallon of gas at a nearby gas station. One of the workers alerted me to the big meat sale they had going on. Since the cases were absolutely stocked with meat I know that this sale has to include today, and maybe tomorrow, too. Call your local Biggs if you want to make sure.

Here's how it works:
  • Buy 5 packages of meat specially marked with the tag "Pick-5 for $19.99." Hint: the regularly marked price is on the package. Hunt through the freezers until you find the largest priced items in the case.
  • At check out your items will all reprice so that it is like paying $4.00 per item.
I stocked up on packages of chicken and a few of beef. When I got home I divided the portions into Ziploc freezer bags (found on sale elsewhere) and added any desired marinades. Then I froze the portions. I made sure to take into account that Lulu is going to be living with us. It isn't that she is a big eater. It is that I want her to be able to eat! Bear takes his meals seriously.
After I got done figuring I found that I could get 10 chicken meals from 5 packages. This would feed our family (of 4 counting Lulu when she gets here). I put at least 5 pieces of chicken in each bag so that the Bear and Pastor Dad could have an extra piece to wrestle over at the dinner table. :)
Let's see. That comes to $2 a meal, not including the drinks and veggies. Nice.

Caveat Emptor

I've been following the coupon and savings blogs regularly and have found some incredible bargains for which I thank you, savvy blogging mommies, for alerting me to deals. My pantries, refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards have been stocked with enough toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and personal care items to last my family for several months. The food staples are now sufficient to hold the normal family through another visit of a hurricane like Ike, or in our case, enough to feed the Bear for another week or so. And I stayed well within my budget.

In my quest for bargains I came across a disturbing trend. It matters where you shop. I mean, specifically it matter which store location of a certain chain you shop. I have been cheated at the same store twice in a week. I'm sure that it is a managerial problem as I have not seen this type of thing company-wide. And I have shopped in 3 different locations of this chain in my metropolitan area within the last month.

I believe my daughter, Karen, had this happen to her at a certain drug store sometime last year. I am not going to take the time to find the link but I'm sure she'll enlighten you if you want to know which W.a.l.g.r.e.e.n to avoid in the Cincinnati area.

Well, I now know which store that promotes itself as having "higher standards, lower prices" to avoid. I suspected foul play last Thursday when I took advantage of a long day of basketball tournaments to do some shopping at the store nearest the tournament, not the one closest to where I live.

Last Thursday I had several coupons worth $1 each and some that should double to $1 automatically. Since I do a lot of printing from the Internet I usually have multiples of the same coupon and buy several of the desired item. I saw the cashier shuffling through my coupons while she was scanning them. I wondered at the time why she didn't scan one, then lay it down. If she had, there would've been a pile of coupons laying in front of her. There wasn't. That was my first clue. She gave me the total and I paid for the purchases. It wasn't until I got home several hours later that I looked at my receipt. There were no coupons taken off worth $1 anywhere. She didn't ring them. Either she was going to keep them for her own personal use (now there's a novel way for getting free coupons!) or the store pocketed the money when they turned them in to the issuing company for reimbursement.

Yesterday I was in the same neighborhood for a different reason and decided to stop at that store again since the one closet to my home is really not that close anyway. The company provided within their sale fliers a coupon for $3 to used for general merchandise purchases over a certain amount. I bought items that the Bear needed that were well over the cost mentioned on the coupon. The coupon was the only reason I bought these items there and not somewhere else like JCPenney or Sears.

This time I watched to see how this cashier worked with the coupons. Even with me watching carefully she managed to cheat me. It seems that there were a few times when the coupons didn't double automatically and if I didn't catch this immediately she would not push the keys to make them do so. Consequently, I had a 60 cent coupon that didn't become worth $1 as store policy advertises.

The real insult didn't hit me until I got home. Although I'd watched her scan the $3 coupon it didn't deduct. The reason? Nothing showed as General Merchandise. I guess everything in the store this week came under the heading of grocery items. How convenient.

Fool me once: shame on you! Fool me twice: shame on me! There will not be a third time. Some of you, my dear family, live near this store. Be forewarned.

"Higher standards," indeed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Distant Valentine



Eighteen years ago our country was at war with Iraq. It was a time of uncertainty not unlike today, actually. Before that war people could walk back to the gates and waiting areas in an airport as their loved ones either departed or arrived. That all changed about the time Pastor Dad and I were making arrangements to leave the country.

It was Valentine's Day 2001 when we flew to Belize to spend almost two weeks with missionary friends. Immediately after some people hear that we traveled to Belize they say things like, "Oh! I've been there!" I seriously doubt it. I'm not disputing that they landed at the Belize Airport but most of the time when someone says they've "been to Belize" they mean that they waited at the airport until they could board their charter flight to the Cayes where they vacationed at the resorts. We, on the other hand, experienced the non-touristy parts of the country.

When we left Nashville early that morning the city was experiencing a nasty cold snap. When we flew into Belize the temperature was almost 80 degrees higher than it had been in Nashville earlier that day. The people there had sweaters and knit caps on all of the babies because they were also experiencing a cold snap. It was only 100 degrees. :D

Our church in TN sponsored a mission work in the interior that was ready to become independent to the point that our missionary could move elsewhere and start another preaching point. Pastor Dad and I went to help them celebrate the occasion.

Our youngest daughter, the Princess, was less than 3 years old at the time. All she understood was that there were policemen all over the airports all of a sudden. In typical childish fashion she heard what she heard and not what was really said. We found out after we returned that she had told anyone who asked that her parents had gone to the airport with the police. This was what the 32 month old girl understood from our explanation that we had to go to the airport to fly to Belize. Understandable misinterpretation. :)

I enjoyed the trip tremendously. I had an opportunity to teach the ladies of the church and to fellowship with our missionaries. They drove us around the country to see the beautiful scenery, meet their Mennonite friends in a nearby community, visit Mayan ruins, and to shop in a nearby Guatemalan village. We also drove up to Mexico for a few days of civilization. We had some scary moments in the no-man's-land between the Guatemalan and Belizian borders as the Belizian border patrol considered whether to let us back in. Guatemala didn't want us back either! That was not a nice feeling as our brains quickly started calculating what our options would be if we were stuck for long in that area between the two countries.

When we returned to the USA we landed first in New Orleans. We had been told all sorts of stories about how hard it could be to get through customs and I'm sure that this might be true for some. In my case the lady at the desk went calmly through the handmade basket I was carrying then looked at me and said warmly, "Welcome home." I wanted to hug her. Words had never sounded so wonderful. I was home! We exchanged smiles before I left to find the first aid station so that a real doctor could look at the grapefruit-sized mosquito bite on my leg. That was a little souvenir I picked up in Mexico.

Perfectionism

I aspire to be Super Mom, the woman who can juggle the needs of husband, children, the ministry, home-schooling, housework, extra curricular activities, and extended family; I expect to do this without breaking into a sweat thereby ruining hair and make-up. The problem with aspiring to be a superhero is that as wonderful as this appears in comic books one does not exist outside the realm of imagination.

If my aspiration seems ridiculous then consider the women that you admire. Most likely you also are either envious of someone who seems to be Super Mom or you have taken a composite of several women and designed your own prototype. Her house and yard are always tidy, her children clean and immaculately dressed in clothing she tailor-made, and she herself is always beautiful, smiling, and happy. The meals she fixes are nutritious and economical, yet appealing. If this is your ideal woman, then you really must read in Genesis 3 about the one woman in the Bible who did experience perfection, however briefly.

Eve was the first woman and was specially created by God to be the wife of the first man, Adam. She did not face some of the challenges that her daughters would such as who to marry, where to live, what to fix for dinner, or what to wear. God arranged all those details before she ever arrived on the scene.

Eve’s abode was within the self-watering, non-weed producing, immaculately-kept Garden of Eden. She, her husband, and their children were to have no wardrobe problems. Their food was readily available and consisted of an ever abundant supply. Her offspring were always going to be obedient to the point of not experiencing sibling rivalry, and their pets would never scratch or bite. Eve was designed by God to be Super Mom and the ancestress of many more like herself.

So what happened?

Satan began to speak to her. He made her question whether or not she had the best of what God had to offer. It would appear that the perfect woman was convinced by Satan that she was not quite perfect enough. There was one more thing that she needed. If she took just one bite she would be a god herself! The thought appealed to her and she succumbed to the temptation. The Bible does not say what the serpent said to her after she had eaten but it doesn’t take much to surmise mockery was involved.

I’ve often listened to the demonic voices whispering in my ear, too. I’ve given into temptation more times than I can count. First the voices tell me that I can be better if I just take one more thing to juggle. After awhile it becomes obvious that I've been deceived as the voices progress to the taunting stage: “You’ve ruined everything again! Every time you fail your family is ashamed of you. You might as well stop trying to serve God and your family. You have no talents or abilities. You are just wasting your time and everyone else’s. You should just give up. You are so defective that it was wrong for you to even have children and pass on your genes to further generations.” When I listen to these voices I have the desire to stop everything and go sit in a corner until I rot. After all, what’s the use? Depression takes up residence in my heart.

Am I the only person on earth who has ever felt – or who now sometimes feels – that way? Do these voices only taunt me? I seriously doubt it. As far as I can tell from scripture and from discussions with others, the little voices constantly spark us on to unobtainable desires only to progress to the place of pointing out our imperfections and capitalizing upon known weaknesses. They delight in making us put on our Super Mom costume and then laughing in derision when our powers fail and we fall flat on our faces.

There is no discounting that what the demonic voices say have some merit in truth. I do have certain obligations and responsibilities. And I am not a perfect wife and mother. I also have caused shame at times, whether for myself or others. I have passed on the defective genetic makeup that I inherited from my parents, who inherited it from their parents, and so on until traced back to this same Eve. But it is not true that I should throw up my hands and quit. It is not an all or nothing proposition.

In my dark moments the demonic voices point out that I cannot reconcile the public persona of the Super Mom pastor’s wife with the private person that my husband and children sometimes encounter. The cries of, “Hypocrite!” ring in my ear loudly. What if my children tell anyone what I am like when I am depressed or angry? What will people think of me? What happens to my image? And if the voices really have talked me into reaching the point of despair they get me thinking that God is unfair. Why did He make me this way in the first place? Doesn’t He want me to better myself? What is God withholding from me?

I cannot think of a more vivid and depressing picture of what can happen when a woman discovers that an idyllic life is unattainable than the story we encountered several years ago of one who listened to the voices. She and her two sons lived in our community. One son was grown and in the military. The other was in high school. The woman was divorced and her ex-husband lived in another state.

The older son went to visit his mother during his leave. While he was home she drugged and killed him. When the younger son arrived she killed him, too, and then herself also. The news of the double-murder suicide rocked our small town.

My husband was often asked by a local funeral director to conduct the services of those who had no church affiliation and he was asked to preach the funeral of these three. As he prepared for this event correspondence that the woman had written was released. She stated that she wanted to end her life, but she did not want her genes to pass on to other generations. Therefore she took the lives of her sons as well. If you don’t think that those whispers are real then you better think again. This is just one example of how powerful the lies of Satan can be.

How different this story would be if the woman had listened to scriptures instead of to the antithesis. It was too late for her and her sons. Only the living heard the hope found in the gospel in that packed chapel. But even on that day Satan had someone present to snatch the scripture seeds planted in grieving hearts. A cult leader appeared at the graveside demanding to consecrate the graves. Everything he said or did contradicted the gospel that had just been preached.

What if Eve’s response to her sin had been the same as this mother’s? Unlike her, Eve did not destroy her children in order to prevent corruption from spreading. Instead, one of her sons almost did. It is never easy to see one’s own sinfulness displayed in offspring, but to have one rise up and kill another was a graphic lesson of the wages of sin that came due the day she ignored God and listened to the serpent.

Where is the hope? Everything mentioned so far has only served to highlight the depressing circumstances of life.

The hope is found within Eve’s own story. In Genesis 3:15 God promised her that through her own descendants would come redemption. God promised to send a Son who would ultimately defeat the wicked one.

We know that Eve believed God because the naming of her firstborn “Cain” seems to indicate that she knew that obtaining a man from the LORD was the desired objective. She said as much. When it became obvious that neither Cain, nor Abel, were the promised Seed she named the son born after the murderous event “Seth” which means “appointed.” If Eve had destroyed her children to prevent the continuation of the sin nature her own Redeemer could never have been born. Only by bearing children and allowing the human race to perpetuate could she have any hope of salvation. I do not pretend to understand all that I Timothy 2:13-15 means but I know that childbearing is what enabled Eve to experience redemption because it ultimately led to the birth of her own Savior and descendant, Jesus Christ.

What is the remedy to perfectionism?

It is time to hang up the Super Mom costume – no, destroy it completely – and find something more suitable. Unlike the one-size-too-small dress that hangs in your closet waiting for you to lose those extra pounds, the Super Mom costume will never fit no matter what you do.

It is time to put away the fear of what others will think once they know we are mere mortals. Do we really think that anyone believes our self-aggrandized press releases? Are you worried about who will know? Everyone knows of Eve’s failure. God inspired hers to be documented through His Word and intended everyone to read it. Failure doesn’t get any more public than that!

What can we do practically?

First, realize perfection no longer exists in the human realm. Its only hope died when sin came into the world. Even Eve, the perfect woman, was convinced by Satan that there was more perfection that she could achieve. Is it any wonder that we succumb so easily?

Second, realize that those voices enticing you first to perfectionism then later to shame are just as demonic as the serpent who spoke with Eve. They are not your conscience or even the Holy Spirit within you. They are evil. Know your enemy.

Third, realize that the voices are telling you half-truths at best. Yes, there are enough facts included to confuse you. That’s the point. Search the scriptures to see if everything you are hearing is true. More than likely, it isn’t.

Fourth, spend time with God in prayer. The two-way conversation found by reading scripture and talking back to God will help quiet the anti-God voices. It is hard to listen to the voices that feed depression if God is talking to you and you are talking to Him. No one can get a word in edgewise.

Fifth, realize that life goes on even in its sinful condition. Focus upon the beauty found within your redeemed self and in the world around you.

Sixth, sing! Sing praises to God whether you feel like it or not. The voices don't like songs that praise Jesus.

Seventh, if you truly think some other woman is Super Mom you need to pray for her. She isn’t. Either you’ve placed her upon a pedestal or she is working feverishly to try to stay upon one of her own making. Satan will do his best to bring her down just to discourage all who buy into the myth. Pray for her. If you happen to discover her weaknesses, don’t exploit them. Tearing others down to make yourself look better only serves to make the opposite happen.

Eighth, pray for me and I’ll pray for you. Pray for all of our daughters. The tendency to achieve Super Mom status seems to grow with each succeeding generation. Our culture demands it.

Lastly, realize that the superhuman expectations that you put upon yourself are unrealistic because you do not have the power to sustain them. Any superhuman expectations God puts upon you are realistic because He will provide the power to perform them. Ultimately, God expects us to be perfect, but He provides the means for achieving it through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Be perfect in Christ. Do not be a perfectionist.

Practical Theology

I mentioned yesterday that I awoke early and passed the morning before I remembered to eat because I was feasting upon something much better. The idea for a series of devotions came to me the other day as I was pondering something that traps me from time to time. That sin is depression. It seems like such a dirty word. In fact it is, and it should be. Let's not sugarcoat it, okay? It is sin. I am not talking about the type of depression that has its root in chemical imbalance or other physical causes. I'm talking about the spiritual depression that comes from outside the realm of medicine.

I asked the Lord to help me to understand. Why am I vulnerable to it? What can I do to combat it? Mine is not something that strikes that often, but when it does it can be debilitating.

The Lord spoke to me as though He were sitting in the room with me, which He was, through His Word and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What He told me is that this is not a unique thing and that it has many causes. I sat down and made a list of the "hot buttons" that are pushed to get me spiraling downward. And then I thought of others who suffer also. Their hot buttons are not necessarily the same as mine. The Lord told me that Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. If that is so, then there must be incidents of depression-causing "hot buttons" in the Bible.

This, people, is where the rubber meets the road. It is okay to hold theological views, but if they don't help you face your day-to-day life then your views are not practical. They are worthless.

I got up yesterday morning with the anticipation of putting together a devotional study of depression. I made a list of over 20 "hot buttons" that I could document from scripture. Wow! I was so excited! I wrote my first devotion yesterday.

I'm not sure how to ultimately present these. I think I will post my first essay here and get your opinion on whether or not to display them for public consumption or whether to just keep my devotions between the Lord and me.

Please understand what I am asking:
  1. I do not want my writing to be critiqued. The writing is not professional. It is personal.
  2. I do not want to debate theology. You have yours and I have mine. I am trying to put mine to work in my life.
  3. I am asking you whether this is something that you'd like me to post more of as I write them. That's it in a nutshell. If you find this example to be helpful I will include more as I get them written. If you are not interested in this type of writing from me, just say so. I won't be offended by the votes of "yea" or "nay." I just want to share if you find it helpful.
My first submission will be posted this evening. I thought I'd let you digest this announcement first.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Feast Day

I woke up this morning about 6 a.m. No, I am not launching into that old stream of consciousness song by "Jewel" that tells about her whole day. I really did get up that early with something on my mind.

To wake up so early and to actually get out of bed is almost an unheard of thing for me, especially on a Monday morning. I don't know how other pastors' families cope on Monday but ours usually tries to get a bit of a later start since Sunday is anything but a day of rest for us. So it was quite unusual for me to be clothed and in my right mind (well, that's debatable) on any day at that hour but particularly so on a Monday morning. I even watched the moon set.

Soon after I got out of bed I began to feast and I wasn't eating breakfast. I actually forgot to eat today. I noticed my stomach growling in an ever rising crescendo around 11 a.m. By that time the Bear had been out of bed for a couple of hours and had eaten breakfast, a couple of mid morning snacks, and was loudly demanding, "What's for lunch?" That's when I realized I had not even eaten breakfast.

The Bear was incredulous! How is it possible to be out of bed for 5 hours and not eat?! For someone who consumes large quantities of cereal all day every day, broken intermittently by snacks of nuts, fruit, milk, juice, some junk food, and anything else that pops into sight the thought of going that long without nourishment being swallowed is inconceivable.

Now I know what Jesus meant when he said he had meat to eat that the disciples didn't know about. Remember how they all stood around asking each other who could possibly have brought him something to eat while they were in the village trying to buy bread?

Yes, my feast was very tasty. It filled me more than any bowl of oatmeal ever could. I hope I have opportunity to avail myself of this delightful smorgasbord again sometime soon. I might even share a bite or two with you in the future.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Imagine Abbot & Costello With Cell Phones

What a day! No, to be more accurate: What a year!

Synopsis:

Christmas 2007 - The Bear receives his first cell phone as a gift.

February 2008 - While I am visiting Lulu in NC I receive a call from Pastor Dad who states that Pepper has chewed up the Bear's cell phone. What should he do? Replacement phone acquired.

March 2008 - I catch Pepper running through the house carrying new phone in her mouth. I rescue phone. Some teeth marks and a crack on the screen, otherwise the phone is usable and will do.

Intervening months - Bear "copes."

Christmas 2008 - Bear receives a brand spanking new trez chic cell phone. All is right with the world once more. Lectures are given. Promises are made. No one listens.

About 2 weeks ago - The Bear is doing two things that he does a lot except on this day he decides to do both simultaneously: eat and text. Somehow the phone ends up in his bowl of chicken noodle soup. End of phone. Bear is back to the one with teeth marks.

Today - Pastor Dad and I each get a text from our wireless company telling us that if we add a user to our plan we will receive free wireless for 3 months and free phone. Who would we add? We have 3 people in this house and each has a phone already. Perhaps Pepper? She seems determined to possess one even if only as a temporary chew toy.

I go to the wireless store to ask about getting the Bear's soup-immersed phone fixed. Let's just say that the price was far from "Free!" so odd as it may seem, I came away from there with a fourth number added to our plan just to get the free phone.

That's when the fun really started. If cell phones were Ford automobiles mine would be a Model A. I got rid of the one with the big antenna just a few years ago so never mind me with one of those new-fangled flip models!

But somehow in my mind I formed this beautiful plan to keep Bear and me both happy. If we took the SIM card out of the new phone and put it in my phone we could take the SIM card out of Bear's chewed phone and put it in the new one, and take the SIM card out of my old one and put it in the chewed phone. Think quick: Who's on first? I don't know. No, I don't know is . . .

It was about that confusing. But what made it more so was that I was the one who was supposed to be making the switcharoo. It just made sense for only one person to be handling the cards. For some reason the Bear didn't see it that way. He decided that what I was doing looked like so much fun that he'd begin taking out cards, too, and laying them on the counter. When I looked down there were more cards than what I had laid there so I had no idea which was which. I started putting cards in phones and calling numbers just to see which one would ring.

When we finally got it right the Bear had the new phone, I had his old one (which is still tons nicer than my old one even if it is adorned with Pepper's handiwork), and my old Model A now has the card for the new phone number - which will never be used unless Lulu wants to have access to a local number while she's living with us this summer. Otherwise, it will sit idle until I can cancel it in 3 months.

I'm a little worried about what's going to happen when one of these phones rings until I get used to the exchange. "That's your phone ringing."

"No, it's yours. You've got mine, remember?"

"HOW DO I ANSWER IT?"

"Just flip it open!"

I never thought I'd think of the times of pay phones and quarters as the good old days.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Picture Tag!

I was tagged twice this week for this and once before when I went to someone's blog that said, "If you see this, consider yourself tagged." Or something like that. Anyway, I totally ignored it back then so now it becomes obvious that I can run but I cannot hide. Ahem. I will do it now. Thanks Karen and Amy. And sorry, Karin, that I didn't play fair when I opened your post last month, or whenever it was.

It wasn't easy determining which was my 6th folder. We have several computer cubbyholes holding pictures. I finally picked a location, picked the 6th folder, and lo!-and-behold!, there were only 4 pictures in it! So I had to start all over again. And I prayed that the next location wasn't one containing the pictures of family gravestones. I am a family historian, you know.

Well, after a few more missteps I found a folder that could be considered the 6th one and opened the 6th picture. Voila!




Some of you know who this is because you run in the same circle we do, otherwise known as a gerbil cage, er, the pastorate. Some of you don't know who this is so I'll tell you just a bit about him.

  • He's one of Pastor Dad's best friends and he happens to be a pastor himself.
  • He's the husband of the woman who is the big Winnie the Pooh fan. That means he's the one who determined that Pastor Dad is Owl and I am Rabbit. (See here if you need a reminder.) I'm getting mad just typing. Just kidding.
  • He might sue me if he ever finds out I've posted his picture on the Internet without his permission. Just kidding again. I hope.
Now it is my turn. I found out yesterday that there is no blogger police department, and certainly not one with a "tags and meme division" - except for my daughter, Karen. I'm kidding! - therefore, I am not naming anyone of my own. I've been assured that this is not a chain letter and that if I break it nothing bad will happen to me. Now, let me rub my lucky rabbit's foot just in case. I'm kidding again. Evidently, only my daughter Karen has one. I'm kidding yet again, one last time. :)

Gushing About This Deal

I have become a frequent visitor to blogs that show me where the coupons are to save grocery money. I've always been a coupon-clippin' gal, but several moms have blogs that point out coupons on the web and tell where to spend them to get free - or nearly free - grocery items. Today I am going to do the same thing. I have no intention of taking over their territory, so don't anyone roll their eyes, but it won't hurt if I chime in occasionally with a deal I've found.

Kroger is having Daytona Days in our area and if you purchase 10 participating items you will automatically receive $3 off of your grocery total. This equates to a $0.30 savings on each item. One of the participating brands is Betty Crocker fruit snacks (Gushers, Fruit by the Foot, etc.). I had coupons found from previous Sunday papers and from websites like Coupons.com to make the savings even sweeter.

First, the fruit snacks are priced at $1.79 a box.

Second, the automatic discount of $0.30 is taken off at the checkout to reduce the price to $1.49.

Third, if you have any coupons - which I did - you should get at least another $0.50 off each box to bring the price down to $0.99.

Fourth, and here's the step I didn't realize until the cashier handed me the printout coupons with my receipt, is that if you purchase 4 boxes you will automatically get a coupon worth $2.50 off your next grocery trip. If you purchase 5 boxes your voucher is for $3.50. $3.50 over the cost of the 5 boxes essentially equals $0.70 more off the price of each box you just bought making your final total per box: $0.29! I don't know if it would print the coupon twice if 10 boxes were bought. Probably not. I didn't have enough coupons to make all 10 of my items fruit snacks so I have no way of knowing.

What kind of woman wants to buy 5 boxes or more of Betty Crocker fruit snacks? If you need to ask you must not be a regular reader.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Too Close to the Edge



This week's walk goes w-a-a-ay back in my childhood, all the way to the time before I was allowed out of the yard. Yes, back before I turned 30. Just kidding. Sort of. You must understand that as an only child I had overly protective parents. When I was about 7 they removed the restriction because they realized it was a contradiction to allow their child to make her way to the bus stop alone but not to one of the other five houses on the street to play with neighborhood children. All I remember is that it was a hard-fought battle and I bore one of the scars on my backside. I'm talking figuratively, not literally. My parents were overprotective, not abusive.

We moved into the house where my parents still live soon after my second birthday. At the time, the neighborhood was considered out in the country, which isn't the case now since a major interstate passes nearby, but back when the house was new the scenario was similar to that found in the first few pages of Virginia Lee Burton's book, The Little House.

The stay-in-my-own yard rule was not popular with me once I reached the "mature" age of say, 6 years old, since I was totally dependent upon children who were allowed to roam to come over to play. I wasn't permitted to go over and knock on their doors. There were 4-year-old twin girls who lived on the street and we played sometimes. I was jealous of their freedom. And I hated waiting for them to take pity on me. If they got a better offer they would leave, but I was not allowed to go along.

At this time the road was unpaved and the gravel would get thrown into the yard. I remember that the boundary between yard and road was sometimes blurred into a really, truly "gray area" like we theorize so much about. But there was a boundary of sorts and a rule that went with it: cross it and pay the consequences.

One day I was sitting close to the road tossing gravel and feeling sorry for myself. This led to the only spanking I ever remember receiving, not the only spanking I ever received, but the only one I remember.

Evidently I was sitting too close to the road and my defiant attitude was showing whether or not I was actually across the boundary. I'm not sure now of all the details. All I know is that one minute I was sitting there and the next thing I knew my dad had come outside, swooped me up, and taken me inside for a spanking.

I wasn't old enough then to know that rules are designed for protection. I also wasn't old enough to figure out the lesson, but later it came to me what was being taught. As I matured I was often tempted by things that were not really wrong, but were like the gravel in the gray area. The thought would then occur to me that playing around the edge might not be such a good idea because my FATHER was watching me and He might be judging the intent of my heart even if I wasn't breaking any hard and fast rules.

I must remind myself often: My FATHER is watching. He wants me to be safe. Get back from the edge.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Adversary Returns

"Which adversary?" you're probably thinking.

The mall keystone cops? The kid at Panera? The dog who started the fight? Pepper, who gets loose occasionally, and therefore "returns?" The persistent Christian organization telemarketer who wouldn't take "no" for an answer? The woman who made the snide comment about homeschooling being an experiment? The genealogist of a certain lineage society who refuses to see the obvious? The person who gave my cell phone number as theirs which therefore got some credit agency calling me? The . . . Wow! I've encountered a lot of antagonists in these few short months I've been blogging. And I didn't even tell you about my day yesterday. Ask the Bear if you're really that nosy interested. I don't even like remembering days I slide off The High Hill and down into the valley of despair, when I was probably my own worst enemy, let alone tell all of you about it.

But, no. None of those. I was thinking specifically of the squirrel who insists upon breaking my bird feeders and also eating all the birdseed put out for, you know, birds. If you recall, I mentioned here that there are times when I could reach out my kitchen window and tickle a little squirrel tummy if I was so inclined, which I'm not. Now I've got proof:



Checking to see if the coast is clear. It obvious-
ly isn't as I am standing right there with a camera. Duh!




Prepar-
ing to
"recline
and dine."




Ah! Don't you wish you could just reach out there and go coochie-coochie-coo?



Me neither.


*These photos were taken last week before "the big snow," which still hasn't melted. I just got around to using them.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My January Reading List

Following my daughter, Karen's, lead (click here) I decided to list the books I read during the last month. What prompted me to do so was that she mentioned a book that she thought I might like, so in reply, I felt I should tell her what I thought.


You'll notice that my list is so much shorter than Karen's. That is because I like to read, actually do read constantly, but not always books. I read a lot on the computer, which includes official documents found in the pursuit of genealogy. I also read magazine articles. I just don't read books very often.

When I do read books I tend to read non-fiction offerings in bits and spurts. I might read a section or chapter then put the book down for awhile. I rarely read straight through a non-fiction book whether it is a "how-to" or a biography. I also don't read just one book at a time. I usually have 2 or 3 going at the same time. Just more of my quirks, I guess.

When I read fiction I want it to be something that you can't put down, sort of like it's a hot fudge sundae. I want it to be almost entirely for entertainment. If I learn something along the way, fine. If I don't, that's fine, too. I feel the same way about the few t.v. programs I watch. I don't read a lot of non-fiction or watch much television for that very reason. I consider both to be like the aforementioned dessert: there might be a little nutrition found among the empty calories, but a little goes a long way. It isn't why I choose a specific book, t.v. show, or dessert. And like dessert, I only consume one fiction at a time. I'm watching my "waste" line.

Without further ado here are the books I read this month:



In The Shadow of the Sun King. This is the book by Golden Keyes Parsons that Karen suggested I read. It is historical fiction written in the time of Huguenot persecution in France. I enjoyed the book, but it took me several weeks to read it. Having crises after crises last month on top of the usual (and unusual) basketball schedule probably didn't help. I didn't have the energy to sit and get engrossed and that isn't the author's fault. This is a book worth reading.

I thought the book was well-written, and there was nothing objectionable in its presentation. Being of French Huguenot extraction myself (you just knew that a genealogist would have a link somewhere) I enjoyed gaining a historical prospective into the lives of one branch on my family tree. I would need to check more closely to see when my ancestors left France to see if it was during this period and for this reason. Being Baptist by profession, and being descended from Baptists during the time of colonial America when such a thing was a crime in some colonies, along with my Jewish, Puritan, and German Protestant religious roots, it became apparent to me that the type of fleeing for one's life in the name of religious persecution that was described in the book was probably played out many times in my heritage.



Back to Life. This book by Kristin Billerbeck seemed familiar to me and I think it was because it is another that Karen read and critiqued. This is purely coincidental because I did not choose it for that reason. I picked it up at the library on the same day that I got the one above. Like it, this book was on the new acquisitions shelf and I thought it looked interesting. At the risk of sounding like an airhead, I'm going to tell you that I liked this book. The reason is because it was entertaining and a pure escape from reality on the day that I read it. It is also one of those Christian chick-lit books, which I didn't realize when I picked it. This made it even better because I wasn't confronted with objectionable language or sexual content.

On the other hand, what makes me think this is a book that Karen critiqued is something that stuck in my mind. The first few chapters were absolutely littered with typos, words that were supposed to be deleted when the author changed word order or verb tenses, and other things that a good editor should catch. This was distracting and annoying. Once I got past them, I was hooked on the humor found in the story. The author writes her books like I write my blog posts. I guess that's why I connected.

The target audience is probably quite a bit younger than I am but I still enjoyed it.




Aunt Morgan knows me personally. Her mother and I stay in touch which includes sharing recipes and swapping child and grandchild stories. It's what we do. Recently Morgan's mother introduced me to Gooseberry Patch so that I could get ideas to relieve the stagnation of my usual recipe plans. I liked what I saw so much that I used a bookstore gift card to purchase this book called Gooseberry Patch Family Favorite Recipes.

What I like about it is that the recipes are real. They don't require strange ingredients or a culinary degree in order to make good things to eat. That's pretty important to me either when trying to get dinner on the table for the three of us each evening or putting out a spread for my whole family on Sunday.

And yes, just in case you're wondering, I do read cookbooks. Odd, I know, but I consider it part of my job as the home economist.



Yes, the anti-fudge book was read this month as well. It didn't stop me from eating the rest of the fudge, but I did read it.

I read this book as a reaction to all the weight loss ads touting the Glycemic Index. I wanted to know about the GI and its usefulness concerning keeping blood sugar steady and not so much for the benefit of weight loss. Although, if such a thing happened as an unintended benefit I certainly wouldn't complain.

Since I had already made some changes to my diet in 2008 this was more to reinforce some of the things I am already doing and to find more clues to help in the battle to stay healthy. This is a library book but if I find it online at a cheap enough price I might purchase one for my cookbook collection.


That's it for this month. I have 3 other books that I had hoped to have done by the end of the month, but I got so caught up in some much-needed house cleaning and organizing projects that I didn't use as much of my snow days hibernation to read as I thought I would. That just means that I should have a head start on the February reading list.


P.S.

HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY!
(Only 6 more weeks until spring. Hooray!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Expelled from the Mall

Pastor Dad asked Karen and Prince Charming at dinner today what they thought of this story, Since they hadn't heard it they couldn't comment. I guess my hubby thinks I run home immediately and convert everything into a blog post. Not quite. Sometimes it takes me awhile to put things into words. And the fact that today is Sunday could have something to do with it, too. Karen and her Prince have already heard this story. The rest of you are getting it now.


The Bear had an activity to attend last night so Pastor Dad and I dropped him off then decided to spend the intervening hours eating and shopping. We went to the same mall where I had my "missing-wallet-induced panic attack" in December. Last night's outing didn't end much better. I think I'm going to need to find another place to shop because this mall is becoming associated with too many panicky moments.

All was well until we went into one of the department stores to shop for some dress shirts for Pastor Dad. It was getting near closing time but we had several minutes until the official end of the business day. I, in the meantime, needed to visit the Little Girls' Room to take care of some business of my own. Normally, this would not take as long as it did last night. But while I was in there I developed a nose bleed. It seemed to me to make good sense to stay in that lounge until the bleeding stopped because of the supply of tissue, water, etc.

What I didn't know was that it was taking more time to get my nose bleed under control than what store policy allows. A security guard found Pastor Dad standing in the hallway outside the restroom and told him that the store was closed and that he needed to vacate the premises. According to Pastor Dad the guard said, "You need to be out of here in 20 minutes because that's when we release the security dogs." Whether he was joking or not is a matter of debate. Either way, it was clear that they wanted him outta there!

I was totally unaware of this conversation taking place right outside the door and Pastor Dad didn't alert me to it until about 10 minutes later when he was trying to rush me down an escalator. I asked him why he didn't knock on the door to get my attention. I could just as easily have bled all over their floor as opposed to their bathroom sink if they were in such a hurry to get rid of us.

Now, I've been a mother for almost 28 years. I have 4 children and have even been known to babysit my grandchildren on occasion. It really would not have been the first time I've been in a bathroom and heard persistent knocking accompanied by insistent yelling from someone on the other side of the door. Do you follow me?

But that's not the worst of it. Our car was parked outside another entrance at the far end of the mall. And the department store had already put down the barrier bars into the mall corridor. That meant we would need to go outside and walk around the mall in the cold.

But even that's not the worst of it. Some Barney Fife decided to lock all of the doors. Yes, even those leading to the outside. Several of us late shoppers were trapped inside until Pastor Dad reached around an upset mom with a baby asleep in a stroller who was standing there like some caged animal blocking the doors. Alarm or no alarm, we were getting out that door! (There was no alarm, but at this point anything was possible.)

Once out in the free air we started the hike to the car. I was beginning to wish I'd brought a backpack and provisions for the journey. If I'd known this I would've agreed to that doggy bag the waitress tried to get me to take earlier. Or a cup of coffee in a carry-out mug would've been even better.

Part way around we found streams of others vacating through one of the main mall doors. We held the door open for them and then hastily made our way back inside before any of the security guards saw us. We walked the rest of the way within the confines of the mall and exited the premises near our car just as the mall security began shining bright spotlights on the remaining cars in the lot. I'm beginning to suspect that this mall is not in the best part of town or something. Just maybe. And that part about the dogs doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.

Never let it be said that Pastor Dad doesn't know how to show his girl an exciting time on a date. After 31 years he still knows how to get my heart a-pumpin'!