Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tampa FL Here We Come!

Tomorrow morning bright and early, I leave for Tampa FL with my two oldest children. We will drive for most of the day and arrive close to dinner time for a long weekend with my stepsister and her family, celebrating my niece's graduation and 18th birthday combined. This trip was supposed to include Curt, but some things came up and he is now going to have to stay home with the younger kids. I am bummed for lots of reasons-- a very important one being that now I have to do all the driving. I don't mind driving, but I don't love it either.

Tomorrow is also, incidentally, my birthday. I will be spending it in the car. With two teenagers. Doesn't that sound fun?

Actually, I am looking forward to it. I will enjoy the time connecting with my older two without the noise and distractions of the younger children. Not that I don't adore my younger ones-- but the older ones enjoy the time away, understandably so. They have been counting the days to this trip and are so excited! We will spend a fun, packed-full of special events weekend and then drive back home all day Sunday.

I know my posting has been spotty this week, but I figured that with my extra long entries from last week it would balance itself out somehow. The next few days may very well be spotty as well. I hope to have some fun and exciting posts set up for next week though-- so don't be a stranger!
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Need Some Inspiration In The Kitchen?

I found this site tonight and thought that perhaps some of you would like to try some of these easy and delicious sounding recipes!

I plan to try this very soon. (chicken soft tacos)

And I will be trying this as a side dish with maybe a rotisserie chicken and some steamed broccoli. (brown rice with cumin and green chiles)

That's all I have had time to scope out so far... happy hunting!
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What's For Dinner?

Last night, Domino's was what's for dinner. So tonight I sort of owe my family a better, more nutritious meal. Although I did pop open a can of pineapple to serve with the pizza-- just to make myself feel better. I know, I know, I go to such great lengths. So tonight we are having:

Italian Baked Chicken (this recipe is the closest I could find on the internet to what I make)

Red Potatoes and Thyme

Some sort of green vegetable

What's for dinner at your house?
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sung Over Me

Belief over misery
I've seen the enemy
And I won't go back
Back to how it was
I've got my heart set
On what happens next
I've got my eyes wide
It's not over yet
We are miracles
And we're not alone

From Switchfoot, This is Home (Narnia Soundtrack)
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Please Pray For The Chapman Family

I just heard about this devastating story from my friend Gwen Smith. Please pray, pray, and pray some more for this family. I am such a huge fan of Steven-- more for his dedication to his family than for his music. So, my heart just hurts as I think of them today. They will need our prayers for a long time to come.

ETA: If you would like to see a short video of Maria with her daddy, or leave a note of condolence, a special blog has been set up that you can visit.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Day In The Life

I haven't done a "day in the life" post in quite awhile, so I thought I would do one today. Yesterday would not have been a good day to do one, because yesterday was just awful. My kids drove me crazy. At one point I asked my oldest if perhaps they were coordinating their efforts to drive me crazy. As in, "Ok, I just bugged her about my cell phone, now you go make demands about wanting to eat junk food right before supper. With any luck she will be certifiable by nightfall." He looked at me blankly and I could tell he was thinking, "Why would we want to drive you crazy? Then who would cook dinner?" Sigh.

Suffice it to say that yesterday was just bad all the way around. I talked to my friend Gwen last night and she asked what was wrong. "You sound down," she said. "Down" was a much kinder, gentler word for what I was feeling. I let her believe it. I realize that I posted that nice, happy, faith-filled post about our house yesterday but you must understand-- that was written earlier, or else it most assuredly would not have been written yesterday. More likely I would have posted about how much I want to move to my own house without my family and included the lyrics to the old song, "All By Myself." So, I spared you from all that negativity and posted my happy thoughts instead.

But enough of all that. Today I am going to share my day as it unfolds. Enjoy!

6:30 am: My eyes pop open and I am awake. Curt is getting ready for work and I lay there and pretend to be asleep. He tells me goodbye and that he has made me coffee. This, I think, is a peace offering for how grumpy we were to each other the night before. I get up and break my own rule about not getting on the internet before I have had my quiet time because I simply must know whether my friend Dawn is having a boy or a girl and I remembered that she was going to post it on her blog. Congrats Dawn! (I am not telling you what she is having-- you have to go there to see-- and leave her a congrats comment while you are at it!) I make the huge mistake of going ahead and checking my email and of course thirty minutes go by and I have not had my quiet time. Hence the self-imposed rule about no internet before my quiet time.

7:00 am: I go upstairs and wake the children, something I hate to do and something they hate for me to do. So that is a daily bit of unpleasantness that can not, unfortunately, be avoided. At least not for 12 more days. The six year old, who does not go to school, gets up all on his own and comes downstairs. He and I have a conversation about why we cannot go to the garden today. I explain to him that it is too muddy to go mucking around out there and that I know he and his sister will simply get too covered in mud for me to deal with. He totally surprises me by saying, "I don't blame you." He is eating a Fruit Loops cereal straw-- something he talked me into in Walmart in a moment of weakness. Immediately after he eats, he runs to the bathroom to brush his teeth with his new Jack Sparrow spinning toothbrush we also got at Walmart yesterday. Yet another moment of weakness. He has brushed his teeth no less than five times since we bought it, though, so that was $6 well spent in my book.

7:30 am: I decide to go ahead and shower, as this is key to me feeling productive and ready to take on the day. I rarely shower in the morning if we have nowhere to be, but I am trying to make myself get up and do it right away. That way if we need to run out, I am ready and able to do so. Otherwise I wander the house in my pajamas all day and avoid answering the door. I have just enough time to shower before we have to leave to get everyone to school. I still have not had my quiet time. Shame on me!

7:50am: I get out of the shower, get dressed and go get the baby up so we can leave. I hand her a cereal straw and a glass of milk as we head out the door. Nutritious! As we are leaving I discover that my 11 yo son has lost one of his new shoes. How do you lose just one shoe? I lecture him (and everyone else by default as they are all trapped in the car with me) on the value of money and how hard we have to work to buy things like new shoes and how he will have to replace the shoes with his own money if he can't find them. About that time, the baby starts crying about how she wants her blankie in the car and she wants it right now. I tell her that I can't make the blankie-- which is back at home in her crib-- appear. "I am not a magician," I say. My six year old responds, "Yeah, she's a writer, not a magician." For some reason, this just cracks me up. Just as we are pulling into school, my son (the same one who has lost one shoe) suddenly remembers today was the deadline for his field trip money to be turned in. I resist the urge to lecture him and instead scribble out a check for $23 in the carpool line, hoping I don't hold everyone up while I do it. The kids get out of the car and I tell them goodbye and I love them and do good on the EOG's (end of grade testing the state requires).

8:20 am: We arrive home and the 6 and 2 yo immediately run back to the bathroom to brush their teeth with their new toothbrushes. Who knew teeth brushing could be so much fun? I jump online while they are occupied to write this post. After they are finished, they turn on the tv to cartoons. I decide to use the time to do my quiet time-- though it is not very quiet in the house I must admit. My quiet time lasts exactly one minute. The 6yo marches in demanding Ritz cheese crackers shaped like soccer balls that we also bought yesterday at Walmart. (Again with the weakness.) I tell him it is too early for snacks and he must wait. He begins to stomp his feet and just generally act unlovable but then realizes there is a puzzle on the back of the box he can do and that distracts him long enough for me to read one more page in my Beth Moore book before the 2yo marches in and informs me she has stinkies. I put the book down and chastise myself for not getting my quiet time done earlier, as it is apparently not going to happen until naptime.

8:50 am: I dry and style my hair-- something I didn't have time to do before we left. The 2yo occupies herself by looking through the books we got at the library yesterday. I call my mom to tell her we are not going to attempt the garden today, as she was going to meet me out there. I swap the laundry from the washer to the dryer and put some chicken out to thaw for dinner. We are having chicken that I will marinate in Italian dressing and then broil, baked potatoes and baby peas.

9:00 am: The 6yo is still bugging me for food, so I make him some cinnamon raisin toast. Those cereal straws are a novelty but they certainly aren't filling! Of course, then the two yo wants some toast too. Luckily I foresaw that issue and made extra. I start a load of dishes in the dishwasher and tell the kids I will read some stories to them in a minute. I put on Super Why for them and sneak back to my room to write this and try to finish one chapter in my Beth Moore book. I also send an email to my husband telling him that our realtor is coming by tonight to go over our repair requests for the new house based on the inspection that was done Monday. Things are moving right along!

9:30 am: I finish my chapter in the Beth Moore book. Now that CBS is over for the year, I am doing my own personal wrap up by going through To Live Is Christ, about the life of Paul for my quiet time. (I am also still doing Streams In The Desert, but those are so short I felt I needed to do something more.) Today was about his friendship with Barnabas and how we should encourage each other. This chapter brought out some conflicting emotions. I want a friend like Barnabas and I want to be a friend like Barnabas. I will mull this over for the whole day most likely. Barnabas and Paul eventually parted ways over a simple difference of opinion. (To read this account, go to Acts 15:36-40.) It didn't make either of them any less godly-- it was just that they could not see eye to eye. Oddly, this fact comforted me that even our Biblical heroes struggled with relationships just like we do. They were not exempt any more than we are. While that is comforting, it is also sad. I want the ideal that a perfect, stress-free relationship is possible. To know that Paul-- who was a passionate follower of Christ-- struggled in his relationships too makes me want to just throw in the towel at times!

10:00 am: I help the 2yo dress her baby and make her a bed using a pillow and blanket on the floor. She then decides she would like to try using the potty. This is always an ordeal but a necessary one. I am glad to see her showing some interest as a few weeks ago she had none. I debate leaving the house to go mail some cd's out and stop by the grocery store. Curt and I are leaving tomorrow for a few days and I need to make sure the house is stocked with plenty of food before we leave the kids with the sitter.

10:15 am: My mom calls to say she will come by our house since we aren't going to the garden. She is bringing back a ring of mine she borrowed and is afraid she will lose it if she waits to give it back to me. I tell her I will just hang out at home and wait for her. I make myself get up from reading emails and surfing the internet to read out loud to my children. We can't go to the garden today, so we will read about gardens! We read The Sunflower House by Eve Bunting and The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.

10:45 am: We are through reading and the 2yo informs me that her baby is awake and needs to get dressed to go to church. We dress her in a dress that is far too large for her and then she puts her baby in the Pampers box and pushes her while babbling about "going to church." I use the time that she is occupied with pushing the box around the house to update this post and answer a few emails. The 6yo asks for what seems like the hundredth time to eat. I tell him that we will have lunch in a few minutes. We seem to eat lunch at 11:00 a lot. That's early but that's when they want to eat!

11:15 am: My friend Shari calls and we chit chat for a bit. The kids are eating the Ritz Bits cheese crackers they wanted for lunch. I let them but make a mental note to convince them to eat a banana with it.

11:30 am: My stomach is growling so I take it that I need to eat! I make a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with sliced strawberries on top. Of course, my presence in the kitchen prompts the kids to say they are still hungry and need more to eat. I make them tortillas with melted cheese on top with taco sauce to dip. This is a favorite lunch. I peel a banana but no one eats it. The six year old turns over almost an entire cup of juice. I send him to change his clothes while I clean up the mess. Then I unload the dishwasher.

11:45 am: My mom drops by and we talk for a bit. The kids take turns chasing each other through the house and screaming while we try to hear each other talk. I think the noise gets to her, as she very quickly mumbles something about other errands and bolts. Can't say as I blame her. I tell the kids that very soon we are headed to bed. They continue chasing each other through the house with a sheet on their heads, trying to scare each other. Good times.

12:30 pm: Naptime! Glorious naptime! God's gift to mothers everywhere! Good night! Good night! Good night! I get the six yo set up with his schoolwork-- math, phonics and handwriting. We are doing bare bones schooling as we wrap up the year. He can whiz through it in thirty minutes if he has a good attitude-- longer if he is fighting me every step of the way. Tears and whining take much longer.

12:45 pm: I make a note on my to-do list to clean the kids' room this afternoon after nap. It is a pit. With the sitter coming, I feel compelled not to leave her with that mess. I use the moments of peace to sort through the pile of papers that seems to stack up overnight. I have been avoiding it for several days, which means it has grown exponentially.

1:20 pm: I am done with the pile of papers. Some got filed, lots got thrown out, and some got dealt with. As in, I had quite a few permission slips I had to fill out. Lots of end of the year events going on at the kids' school! I spend some time updating this post and debate trying to get a little writing done while she is napping and the six yo is glued to Suite Life of Zach and Cody-- a show that grates on my nerves. Just being honest. Of course, my kids love it!

1:25 pm: I should be ironing. Or folding clothes.

1:30 pm: I put the thawed chicken in Italian dressing to marinate. The 6yo and I work on a bit of his school together. Once I am satisfied that he has done everything, I let him turn on the tv again. This time he chooses Spongebob, yet another show that absolutely grates on my nerves. The afternoons are his time to watch tv quietly while she naps. I read a few pages from a book I am working my way through. (Ie, not a fun fiction novel!)

2:15 pm: I fold the clothes and then write down a schedule and some notes for the sitter for tomorrow. I also jot down some personal reminders of things I need to get done this evening before I leave. It is good to think through all of these things ahead of time. In addition to leaving for a getaway with my husband for the weekend, I am also meeting with my agent tomorrow for lunch and speaking at a women's group tomorrow night before we leave town. So, there is a lot to remember and think through! Most importantly of course: what in the world am I going to wear?

2:30 pm: I wash, prick and wrap the potatoes so that I can just stick them in the oven after we get home from school pickup. I will bake the chicken for one hour at 350 and the potatoes in the lower rack for two hours. Then all I have left to do is heat up the peas and dinner is served! In the morning, I am going to cut up some chicken into strips, cook them in some olive oil for a few minutes, put them in the crockpot, and then pour a couple of bottles of pasta sauce over top of them and cook the whole thing all day. I will have the sitter make spaghetti noodles to serve it over and call that dinner! I have no idea if it will be good-- but I hope it will be. It actually sounds pretty good. I am calling it Chicken Spaghetti for lack of a better word for this concoction!

2:45 pm: While fixing the potatoes, I become painfully aware that the area of the kitchen where the kids fix their lunches is very, very dirty. There is an assortment of crumbs and stray chips on the floor. I get the small vacuum out and suck it all up. Then I move to under the table, which is equally as awful. I put the vacuum up and answer a few emails and write some more of this post. My oldest comes home from school and goes to take a shower. I hear the baby waking up and go get her so we can get her a snack and then leave to get the kids from school. We are entering the hardest two hours of my day-- from four to six pm.

3:15 pm: We leave for school. The ride is pretty uneventful except when the two year old pinches the six year old. Then much screaming ensues.

3:50 pm: We arrive back home and everyone eats snacks. The two boys head outside to play and the girls talk to me. The 8yo has a play on Friday afternoon that she has colored an invitation to. I will be out of town so of course I feel like The Worst Mom In The World. I reason that the whole reason we are going is for the homeschool conference-- an investment in her. So then I feel better-- and liberated from guilt.

4:00 pm: I spend this time packing and ironing for my trip. Then I start the peas and put the chicken in the oven. I spend a lot of time going in and out of the house, checking on the baby, who is playing outside with her older sister and brother who are supposedly watching her-- but you can never be too sure. Somewhere in there, my father in law stops by and he and I talk for a bit. He is having a heart procedure on Friday and so we talk about that.

5:30 pm: I dish out everyone's dinner and eat some dinner myself. We talk around the table for a bit and enjoy time together even though all of us are not together. We have to eat early now that swim team has started so daddy arrives home after dinner is over these days.

6:00 pm: Dinner is over and I am scraping plates and beginning clean up when Curt comes in. Boy am I glad to see him! He helps me clean up the extensive mess the kids made with the peas. I am thankful for that.

6:15 pm: Our realtor arrives to go over the inspection on our new house and make recommendations of what we need to ask for. Things are so loud and crazy as the kids are all getting ready for swim team and play practice that we end up deciding she will just leave the paperwork with us and we will talk after we have had time to go over everything. Curt leaves to take kids to swim team, play practice, and run to the grocery store for me. He even takes the baby. I agree to pick up the kids from swim so he doesn't have to rush back, as he has a pair of pants he needs to return while he is out.

6:45 pm: The house is blissfully silent. I have about forty minutes before I have to go get the kids from practice. Ahhhh. I use the time to clean up from dinner, which never got done with the realtor here. She is a good sport to deal with us and all our craziness the way she does! Then I fold some clothes. I live a glamorous life, no doubt about it.

7:20 pm: I leave to get kids from swim team, then it will be home again for showers, jammies and the American Idol finale. We have not watched it this season, but they all want to watch the finale. That's like not watching football all season but watching the Superbowl. The rest of the night will be spent watching that and getting as much ready for tomorrow's busy day ahead of time as I can.

And so I will close another (long) day in my life. For those of you who are still reading, you made it further than I might have. Thanks for sticking with it!
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

House Stuff

Several of you have written to ask me how the house stuff is going-- which is so nice of you! Whoever thinks that blogging doesn't build real relationships should read my email! I appreciate your concern and prayers for our guidance as we have been in the selling/buying process. I told you I would share the story of the sale of our house and let you know when we bought a new one. And so, today, I am. Warning: this may be another long, rambling post similar to yesterday's!

As many of you already know, we listed our house last year on the first of May. We were very excited and anxious for the house to sell and sell quickly! I just knew God was going to send a buyer within a few weeks. When that didn't happen, I became very discouraged and naturally went through all the "Is this not what you want for us?" "Are we out of your will?" kinds of questions in my conversations with God. We left the house up with our first realtor for the entire length of her contract-- which we had signed for six months. She was a nice lady, but just wasn't the person for the job. When the contract expired, we took the house off the market and did what Curt had been saying we should do the whole time-- we added a new deck, put in new carpet, and re-tiled and updated our master bath. We had a goal of relisting the house once spring hit with the hope of the house selling this time with a different realtor.

In the midst of this, the realtor we were going to list with decided to go into full time minstry with a church in Miami, FL and moved away! We had to scramble to find another realtor and ended up going with one we barely knew but had a good feeling about. Let me tell you, we could not have been more pleased with her. She has been so good-- and I think she and her family might even come to our church, which is a whole 'nother story I hope to share with you someday! Because it is a very cool story in itself.

So we listed the house in March and started the waiting process all over again. I don't mean to complain. My friend Karen has a house in Michigan that has been on the market for going on three years!! She reminds me often that I have nothing to complain about. (Please join with me in praying for Karen's house to sell if you feel led to do so.) But nevertheless, I did have lapses where I would whine and throw myself a pity party. Typically the only guests at these parties were me and God-- and even He tended to make excuses about needing to be somewhere else where people had real needs, pat me on the head and make a hasty exit.

At one of these pity parties, He let me finish my tirade before answering in a way that most certainly put me in my place. He said, "Foolish girl, your house not selling has very little to do with you and everything to do with the couple who is going to buy it. They are not ready and until they are, your house will be on the market. Instead of complaining about it, you should pray for them." I will tell you that, in that moment, I got the strongest sense that we were going to know the people who bought our house, even though that didn't make sense at all. No one we knew was in the market for a house!

Weeks went by after that and I waffled between acceptance and begging. Curt and I had even started seriously discussing adding on and just taking it off the market. We were nearing the one year mark and just wanted to be done with it. And then one day out of the blue, I got an email from my friend Carissa who had been in Momtourage with me last fall. One day when I was whining to them about my house not selling, she said, "I wish we could buy your house but we aren't ready to do that yet." I made some lame joke about us being ready when they were and promptly forgot all about it. Well, Carissa was emailing me to let me know that she and her husband had just sold their house and would like to come see ours! That night as Curt and I were talking about it, he said, "They are going to buy our house, Marybeth. I just know they are."

Though they didn't give us an offer right away-- and at one point it even looked like they were going to go with another house-- they did make us an offer and they did buy our house. We close with them on June 30th. The timing, of course, was perfect as it gave our kids enough time to finish the swim season with our neighborhood swim team. We were amazed again by the way God had worked it out so perfectly! I don't know why He still surprises me the way He does, but He does. I am blown away by all of it-- but especially the lesson He taught me that when things aren't going right, I need to take the focus off my plight and realize that my waiting might be for someone else's good. I need to stop making it all about ME.

After we got their offer, it was time to start looking at houses-- which was the part I thought was going to be "fun." I had looked forward to it for so long-- yet it wasn't nearly as fun as I had anticipated. It was stressful. We saw a bunch of houses and even made an offer on one that was turned down because the seller basically wanted asking price. While he might have deserved asking price, it was just too much for us to pay. There was a house in our neighborhood for sale that actually met everything we said we wanted-- five bedrooms, a large yard, proximity to the kids' schools and the same size as many of the ones in other neighborhoods that we had gone to look at. This one even had double ovens and a bonus room! Both of us were hesitant, though, as we wondered if we wanted to stay in the exact same neighborhood or if we should branch out.

The day before we went to see this house, we went to what I can only call "the dream house." This house was in one of our most favorite neighborhoods. It was gorgeous inside and out with a huge brick patio with firepit and screened in porch. It even had a separate building outside that had AC and electricity that housed a full gym!! I was drooling and fantasizing about living there. I could just imagine myself walking downstairs in the morning thinking, "I actually live here." The trouble was, the house was at the TOP END of what we could afford. We would really have to finagle to get it. We decided not to make a decision right away.

The very next day Curt came to me with a concerned look on his face. "Yesterday when I was looking over the numbers to get us into that house," he said, "I found that the only way to do it was to quit tithing." We both knew that if we did that we were venturing down a dangerous path-- a path we had naively gone down in the past-- and one we never wanted to go down again. I knew as soon as he said that that that house was not for us. As much as I wanted it to be, I had to surrender that desire and do the wise thing. At that point I suggested we go look at the house in our neighborhood that was much more affordable. We went the next day, made an offer on it a few days later and it was accepted that night.

And so we are moving to a house just a few streets over from where we live now. My friend Amy emailed me and said, "You do know there are other neighborhoods in our town, right?" But the thing is, every time we went to look we kept going over the things we liked about our neighborhood and how much we didn't want to leave it. We have realized that, while we might have been slow to figure it out, God wasn't. He knew that this was the house for us and He knew that we would be able to get it for a price that just makes a whole lot more sense for us longterm. This house has the same square footage as the house we loved and almost the same size lot. It just needs a lot of updating. But we will work on it and slowly get it to where we want, as time and money allows. We feel very blessed to have gotten this house and we know that God was watching over every bit of it. We may not have liked the timing, but it was all in God's hands. I think even the fact that we had the accountability of writing a financial book while we were shopping for a house was no accident. We were convicted by our own words and were challenged to live what we preach! God knew that as well. He provided our friends with a great house for their family and He provided us with a great house for ours. We can't ask for anymore than that!
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Ramblings On Writing And Writers

I spent an hour this morning watching this. Why? Because it was absolutely fascinating to me. And funny. And it made me like Donald Miller even more than I already did, which I thought was impossible. I met Donald very briefly at ICRS years ago, in Denver, CO. I was hugely pregnant with my sixth child and went all the way out there because my book, For The Write Reason was coming out and at the time it was a very big deal-- enough of a very big deal for me to go traipsing cross country very, very pregnant. I remember I spent most of that trip enjoying the comfort of the Westin Heavenly Bed and contemplating the panoramic view of the expanse of mountains from the hotel window, trying to ignore the fact of how far from home and family I was. But I did go out long enough to see Donald, who was signing copies of Blue Like Jazz, which still ranks up there in the top favorite books I have ever read.

I may have told this story on the blog before, so if I did and this bores you, I apologize. But when I met Donald, I made a total fool of myself. He was signing books and there was, of course, a line to get his book signed. And the idea at ICRS is that when you meet these folks you don't make a big deal of them and you just generally act like you meet writers and musicians all the time. And for the most part I do that when I am at ICRS. Because they are all just people-- people who are especially gifted and brilliant-- but people who also have insecurities and relationship issues and put their pants on one leg at a time, to borrow a cliche.

But when I met Donald Miller, I threw all that rationale to the wind and just gushed. I told him how much I loved his book and how much it meant to me and spoke to me and how much I identified with what he wrote and how I read it in the car while we were driving back from the beach and how I kept laughing out loud over certain parts and my husband was so intrigued he read it as soon as we got home and I just COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN and how I was going to read everything he has written, past and future, and how honored I was to meet him and how I was now certifiably his biggest fan.

I said all that in one sentence without taking a breath, and I am quite certain I looked like a teeny bop who was meeting Hannah Montana or something. Donald was so gracious as I gushed. He just smiled and nodded and it dawned on me that he is used to this now, the gushing. I could tell it happens a lot and my declared love of all things he writes made me not very unique actually. While Donald was very kind, the guy sitting next to him (who was perhaps his PR person or bodyguard) looked at me with a face that said basically, "Move it along, little missie." He was over me and my declaration. I walked away chastising myself for losing it. Where was my cool? My aloofness? I had had my one shot with Donald Miller and had acted like a total starstruck crazy pregnant lady. Not the image I was going for.

But that did not diminish my love for anything he writes. Because I just think he is brilliant.

As I watched him discuss the genre of memoir in this video, I thought about how much I love memoirists. Especially Christian memoirists who tell the truth. Who reveal their humanity and not just their perfections, their struggle between flesh and spirit. Anne Lamott is one of my favorites of all times in this area. I have had other Christians tell me I should not read her because she can be coarse and her language is not the cleanest. I disagree. Anne Lamott makes me want to be a better writer. And she challenges me to tell the truth. And, like Donald Miller, she makes me laugh.

Want to know what's really cool? She was interviewed for this same event the following year and you can watch it here. (I haven't watched it yet. I'm saving it for later as a treat to myself.)

I have an Anne Lamott story too. Again, if you have already heard this story, forgive me. I read Operating Instructions when my son was just a few months old. I loved it so much I couldn't believe it. When the book was over, I felt empty. Like she had left the building and I missed her presence already. So I used my super sleuthing skills and somehow figured out where she lived, and called information and got her number. (Why her number wasn't unlisted, I could not tell you.) I dialed the phone, not believing that I was doing it, and yet still my fingers kept on dialing the number. I had no idea what I was going to say and half suspected I would just hang up if she answered. Or maybe I would gush about how much I loved her book and how much I identified with her feelings about being a mother and how I had a son too just like her and he was also born in August. What are the odds?

Instead I got her machine. And there was her voice saying that she and Sam weren't there and I could leave a message. Which of course, I didn't. But I felt connected to her in a way and I carried her phone number around with me for awhile because I just liked the idea that I could call her if I wanted. If you know Anne, or if Anne, you google yourself and find this, please don't have me put on some watch list. I no longer carry your number around, nor do I know it. I am quite sure that by this point she would have it unlisted anyway. So, no worries. My writer stalking days are behind me. I think. I also sort of stalked writer Lee Smith, who was a professor at my college. But we don't need to go into that too. You know enough.

I listened to a Jodi Picoult podcast in which she talked about how writers aren't celebrities in America like they are in other countries. Well, they are celebrities to me. There are certain writers I would much rather meet than the best and brightest film stars. I would just like to sit and ask "Why?" and "How?" and soak up their writerly brilliance, hoping that some of it will rub off on me. I guess now would be a good time to admit that I have emailed back and forth with Jodi Picoult a few times. I am planning to email Jennifer Weiner soon to tell her how much I loved her newest book and how much I see her growth as a writer from her first book to this one. Not that she needs to hear that from me by any stretch, but I want to let her know because I think it's good to tell people good things about themselves. They just might need to hear it.

So perhaps my writer stalking days aren't as far behind me as I thought. At least I have now switched to emails, which are easily ignored and not as directly invasive as the phone.

But getting back to Don and Anne and my ongoing fascination with them. I can't explain exactly why I love their work so much or why I am a devoted fan except to say that, contrary to some of the books I read, their words resonate with me as real. They strike me as people who write because, to quote Jodi Picoult, they can't not write. (Donald even says something to this effect in this interview.) They think like writers and are passionate about writing. They tell their stories and encourage others to do the same. They make us all realize the power of story and experience. I may not agree with every single thing they say, but I respect their opinion and their ability to make me think. To require me to take things apart. While their lives look totally different from mine, our hearts are somehow similar. Quite simply, we love words. And we acknowledge that without the Word made flesh, we would be nothing. If I asked them, I think they would say that their backgrounds, while totally different than mine, are similar in that they have loved writing since... always.

I know I have. I always kept a notebook in which I would construct elaborate stories complete with entire casts of characters. I always started the newest story with a handwritten page of all the characters full names and ages (I bought a book of baby names just so I could pick the best names possible.) and a description of them and their relationships to each other. Looking back, this was character development when I didn't even know the terminology! I have written here before that my favorite book as a child was Harriet the Spy. I loved how she spied on people and wrote about what she saw. (The stalking. The spying. I am making myself sound very creepy in this post.) I connected with this concept and took to carrying my own notebook around like she did. Though I never wrote anything unkind because of what happened to Harriet. I can remember sitting in the car, waiting on my mother to run errands inside a store, while scribbling furiously into my notebook. (Who else remembers being left in the car? Those were the days!) My younger brother would complain of boredom, but I never was. As long as I had paper and pen, I was entertained. I am still that way.

In short, I love writing and writers. (I think we have established that.) I would rather watch this YouTube video of Donald Miller than go to a movie or watch the latest episode of Lost. I am so happy when I can read another writer's blog and get a glimpse of their life being lived. I sit in awe when I read really good writing. It makes me want to try harder. It makes me proud of my kind. While I may not ever be of their caliber, they let me wear the jersey and be in the team picture. That in itself is enough.
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The New 'Do

Per the request of several of you, I am posting this photo of my new haircut. I had at least three-- if not more-- inches cut off it for this chin length bob. I used a photo of Katie Holmes' hair for the lady that cuts my hair to go by. Not that I look like Katie or hope to, but the cut was what I was after. My friend Shari (fashion adviser extraordinaire) told me that cut would look great on me-- so I took her advice and went for it! I did not, however, cut bangs into my hair as Curt has forbid me to ever have bangs again for as long as I live.
I had meant for it to be a bit longer, but this is what I ended up with. I like it and it is SO much easier to style. My kids all told me my hair looks better longer, but I can't make my styling decisions based on them, right? For now I am happy with it and it feels lighter and "funner" for the coming summer months. Go here for a great interview with a stylist that Shari did. It might just inspire you to try a new 'do!
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cheaper By The Half Dozen... The Weekend Edition

Today I spoke at Freedom Temple in Rock Hill, SC at their women's luncheon. This was my second time getting to do this, and I enjoyed it this time even more than last time! I love the ladies at Freedom Temple-- they are such sweethearts and make me feel so loved on and welcome. They give big, gracious hugs and all just have the sweetest smiles and spirits. I was so honored that they wanted me back. Today I shared with them on balance. As women today, we all seem to struggle with balance-- no matter what season of life we are in. I could see as many older woman nodding and agreeing while I spoke as the younger ones. There doesn't seem to be one of us who isn't affected by busyness and stress, it seems!

I took my 8yo daughter with me, as we had a day of shopping that I had promised her and just felt like it made the most sense to bring her along and stay out afterwards. She was more than glad to come with me and sat there perfectly while I spoke. She even made two little friends to sit with while she was there! The biggest blessing of my day came as we were riding home afterwards. She told me, "You did good today mom. You even got me to pray about something at the end." I asked her what she meant by that. "Well," she said, "You know how you were talking about things we need to let go of and let God take care of?" I nodded. "I realized when you were talking that I have been trying really hard to make these certain friends like me and I don't need to do that. I need to let God take care of it. So that's what I prayed about at the end."

I don't think I will ever forget that moment.

You see, I love ministering to women. I count it one of my greatest blessings and greatest shocks that I get to do what I do. I can't believe people let me get up in front of them and share-- and even listen, and respond, and share their stories with me. I feel so privileged to be a part of their lives for whatever time I get to have with them.

But all of that doesn't hold a candle to knowing that today, in that audience, my little girl sat and listened and God spoke to her through me. She prayed about something that was personal for her, taking my message and making it part of her spiritual life. I can only imagine how precious to the Father's ears that must be-- to hear that sweet little voice asking Him to take her worries about her friends. To know that even at a young age she is learning to lay her worries at His feet. To come before the throne and pour out her heart to Him. And the fact that I got to have a part in leading her there today was so emotional and so powerful. When I decided to take her with me today, I had no idea how significant having her there would be. Not for her, but for me. Ministering to others is wonderful-- a great blessing I do not deserve. But ministering to my daughter was priceless. Truly. I find it hard to express the depth of my feeling about it in words. There is simply nothing greater that we can do as mothers than to lead our children to God. It is an awesome, awesome honor.

We did end up going shopping together afterwards. We stopped at my favorite TJ Maxx I have ever been in (which is located in Rock Hill) and intended to start there. But she found so many cute things there that we never got any further! She is very proud of her cute, hip new clothes and I am glad we were able to find them for good prices! My favorite shirt she got out of all of them is one we found on the clearance rack for $7! After TJ Maxx we had to hit Target because really, a day of shopping just isn't complete unless you hit Target or Walmart. We picked up a cute pair of flip flops for me because I needed brown flip flops that weren't boring looking. These fit the bill and I am sure I will be wearing them a lot this summer. So, if you know me IRL and get tired of seeing them, I am sorry.

By the time we were all finished shopping, my broken foot was hurting. (It hardly ever hurts me now but boy it did today.) I knew it was time to head home and get off my feet. My daughter was so tired from our day of excitement that she fell asleep as we drove-- something that rarely happens as none of mine tend to sleep in cars. I envied her nap as I drove, but cranked up my Ipod to keep me awake!

I arrived home to this in the crockpot and the sweet potatoes almost finished cooking in the oven, thanks to my wonderful, supportive husband who remembered to start them on time! I heated up several cans of corn and in no time we were ready to all sit down and eat together. (Just as an aside, the pork tenderloin was a huge hit. Curt said it was the best pork tenderloin I have ever made! It has such a great flavor and was so easy to throw together. I highly recommend giving it a try.) Anyway, with swim team practices every night, all of us eating together is a rare treat these days. I looked at my three boys all lined up down one side of the table and my three girls all lined up down the other side. I felt incredibly blessed in so many ways. As one of the ladies at the church said today simply, "God is good." Indeed He is.
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

You Don't Just Get The Strawberries

My 2.5 year old's favorite cereal is, believe it or not, Special K with strawberries. She loves it. The trouble is, she really just loves the strawberries and not so much the cereal part. She eats all the strawberries and leaves the cereal in the bowl, soggy and forgotten. Then she points to her bowl and says, "I want more stawbewies, mommy."

To which I reply, as always, "You have to eat the cereal too. Not just the strawberries."

And I realized today that this was a great analogy for life. You don't just get the good parts-- your favorite parts. You get the soggy, yucky stuff that lacks flavor. That comes in the box too. It's part of the deal. Because, let's face it, without the cereal, the strawberries would lose their uniqueness, their impact, their reward. It's getting to the strawberries that makes eating the cereal worthwhile. Some of us, like my little daughter, want to gobble up the strawberries and leave the cereal in the bowl, pointing at it and demanding that God restock our bowl with strawberries. And some of us have learned to take the good with the bad-- the desirable with the not so desirable, the extraordinary with the ordinary. This, we know from experience, is life. We have learned to savor every bite of strawberries, thanking God especially for the hidden ones, the ones we didn't realize were waiting at the bottom of the bowl like little treasures placed there just for us-- the promise of blessings when we least expect it.

Note: Feel free to use this analogy for Lucky Charms or any other cereal that works for you.
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May, The Midpoint

Welcome to all of you who stop by today from the P31 devotions. I hope you will come back to visit often!

I knew May was going to be a busy month for me, so I nearly shuddered as I turned the calendar page over from April. I wondered if I would be able to handle all I had committed to-- and if I would be able to actually do all I had committed to. I determined that, with God's help and strength, I could do exactly what He wanted me to do, no more and no less. And I set forth to do exactly that. I also determined not to get ahead of myself by looking at the big picture and instead to focus on each day as it came-- asking myself simply, "What do I need to do today?" And letting that calm me and keep me focused, lest I get overwhelmed and quit before I even start.

Here is what my month looked like: six speaking engagements, one book to finish, two proposals to write, a house to sell and a house to find, a second opinion with an orthodontist for my son, weekly weeding for the garden, a hair appointment (I cut it ALL off yesterday-- yes indeed I did!), a meeting about a co-op I want to do next year for homeschooling, swim team practices starting for four of our kids, rehearsals for a play starting for our oldest, a used curriculum sale to go to on the other side of town, a trip to our state homeschool conference with my husband, and a trip to FL for my niece's graduation/18th birthday party with my husband and two oldest children. All in one month. For someone who usually shies away from overcommitment and busyness, this was exceptional.

Needless to say, it was A LOT. And I doubted my own sanity for committing to it all. And yet, I had a strange peace about it running just under the surface. I knew that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do and somehow it would just all work out. I didn't count on getting sick and losing basically a week of productivity. But I did count on making it to the other side of May-- some way, some how. As I pause to reflect on how the month of May has gone so far, I am satisified. One of my speaking engagements got deferred to my husband because I was too sick to do it. I couldn't have foreseen that. One of my speaking engagements got cancelled. I was relieved to have that off my plate at a time that I was craving a break. And my proposals have now been reduced to one sheets with my agent's blessing and encouragement to just do what I can.

In the midst of my busyness and unforeseen changes, moment by moment adjustments have been made. And, amazingly, it has all worked out. Like I said, with God's help and His strength. No more, no less. I knew that my job was to not hold onto the agenda or the goals too tightly-- to merely offer them up to Him daily and say, "Here's what I think You have called me to. What do You really want?" And then surrendering any designs or plans that might be solely mine and not His. Holding on loosely, but not letting go, in the words of the great philosophers, 38 Special.

And now I am through the most intense part and-- except for the book still needing to be finished-- the rest of the month is the fun stuff. The reward waiting at the end of the perseverance. A friend taught me long ago that having something to look forward to-- a beacon to focus on when you are in the tougher parts of life-- is so important. She taught me that deliberately putting something on the calendar you can look forward to will keep you moving ahead on the days when you wonder if you can. It might be just a small reward like a few hours blissfully alone at the local bookstore with a stack of great books and a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Or a big reward, like a much anticipated trip alone with your husband to the state homeschool conference. Either way, you are motivated to move forward, getting through the not-so-fun so you can get to the so-much-fun.

Do you need to schedule some fun in your life? Do you need to get out your calendar and pick a date to look forward to? I urge you to do this especially if you are in a place in life where just getting through each day is challenging-- this includes any mom who is home with small children day after day! I have found that giving myself permission to schedule fun into my life was a huge mindshift for me. I needed to do it, as it improved my outlook and my perspective. Perhaps you do, too? What is something fun you are looking forward to right now? Leave me a comment and let me know. And if you can't answer, get out your calendar and make something up! Ask your husband if he minds (this is important!), write it down in big RED letters and savor the anticipation. After all, sometimes the anticipation is the best part.

Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Bonus Meal

While shopping yesterday for my meal plan ingredients, I discovered pork tenderloins were on sale, so I decided to switch my menu plan around a bit and serve that as an additional meal. So, now, to tack onto the meal plan I posted on Monday, I am adding:

Pork Tenderloin In The Slow Cooker (My links aren't working, so here is the link, all typed out for you:

Baked Sweet Potatoes topped with butter and cinnamon sugar


Thought this might inspire some of you to try this meal with your family! I plan to serve it on Saturday night-- I have to speak on Saturday afternoon, so I will start this before I leave, then I will only have to pop the potatoes in the oven when I get home and -- voila! A yummy dinner is served! Excuse me while I go off to sing a rousing chorus of, "I can bring home the bacon, de dun de dun, fry it up in a pan, de dun de dun..." while my family rolls their eyes.
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So, I'm Like A Gardener Now

I spent the morning weeding y'all. Weeding what, you may ask? And the answer to that would be, my garden.

Well, I mean it isn't all my garden. It is a whole bunch of people's garden. A bunch of homeschool moms who all traipse out to this sweet woman's property to work together on a community garden. Thank you Alicia for opening your home and property to us all week after week. And for watering when we aren't there. And for sharing your various animals with my poor, citified children who wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy such critters without your generous open arms policy. (Or should I say open cages?) Yes, Alicia and her darling children have introduced my children to the country life-- complete with bunnies, and chickens, and pet rats, and guinea pigs. They walk around the entire time with some sort of critter perched on their shoulder or cradled in their arms. And if my camera wasn't presently broken, I would share the photos to prove it.

We planted the garden two weeks ago on a Wednesday-- and it was just a lovely day. We soaked up the sunshine and got dirt in our fingernails and muddied our knees and learned how to plant tomatoes and various other veggies and herbs. But don't get me wrong-- I am just in it for the tomatoes. I learned about planting techniques and types of soil and square foot gardening and all kinds of things as I stretch my horizons a bit by finally learning how to be a gardener. Because I come from a long line of gardeners and figured that it was time I pick that baton up and run with it. And because I knew the experience would be good for my children. Which of course it has-- even if my six year old did take one look at the weeds today, wrinkle his nose and announce he was going to play with his friends. So basically we moms work on the garden and share stories and get to know each other while the kids play with Alicia's animals and just generally frolic about. A good time is had by all, each Wednesday weeding day, in our garden.

Today I stood up and just watched my kids, soaking in the moment and the sounds of laughter, the feel of the breeze and the warm spring sunshine. I watched my two year old strolling her baby doll across the yard and the six year old letting the rat with pink eyes crawl down his shirt. ("Wanna pet him, mom?" "No, no thank you honey.") I memorized their faces-- the way her blonde ponytail bobbed along in the breeze, the way his brow furrowed as he studied the rat. I wanted to stop time, but of course I couldn't. So instead I stopped myself long enough to really see, to really appreciate the precious moment I was allowed to have with my kids today, while gardening. There was mud caked under my fingernails and my pants were covered in mud. My back hurt from bending over the rows, digging in the mud to root out the weeds. And yet, I could think of no better place to be except there, in the garden, with my kids on a warm spring day. Grateful for the chance to participate in this community of moms and kids, all working together in an activity as old as time.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Below is my menu plan for this week. I will warn you, it is not very exciting. I could do better, but I am still dealing with the last of this cold and a very busy schedule including trying to find a house to live in! So, this is the best I can do, I am afraid--

Monday) Chef Boyardee pizza (my car is in the shop being inspected and getting a windshield wiper fixed, so I had to go with a stand-by in the pantry because I couldn't get to the grocery store)

Tuesday) sloppy joes, tater tots, baby carrots dipped with ranch dressing for dipping

Wednesday) popcorn chicken (the Tyson bag of frozen ones) served over a salad

Thursday) beef tips over rice, green beans

Friday) barbecue chicken, wild rice, leftover salad from Wednesday

Saturday) chicken tacos

Note: to make the barbecue chicken, I just lay thawed chicken breasts in a greased 9X13 pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and garlic salt, and pour a bottle of barbecue sauce over the chicken. Bake at 350 for one hour. Make some five minute wild rice and serve with a salad or just warm up some frozen corn or a couple of cans of baby peas and you have a delicious meal. This is a good one to start your daughter out with and she can say she knows how to make a whole meal. I will be including my daughter in the preparations for this meal this week!

To make the chicken tacos, just lay 1 pound thawed chicken breasts in your crockpot, mix a packet of taco seasoning with a can of chicken broth and pour over chicken. (I double this recipe for my crowd.) Cook all day and just before serving, shred chicken with two forks. Makes a delicious filling with soft or hard taco shells. Top with shredded cheese, taco sauce, shredded lettuce (I buy it already shredded), chopped tomatoes-- whatever you like. This makes a fun and easy weekend meal!
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I wanted to wish you all a happy mother's day! Most of you who read this blog are moms, so I don't want to miss the opportunity to wish you a wonderful, memorable day. And, for those of you whose families let you down in the "Hallmark memories" department today, may I direct you to this article, which is one I actually wrote years ago, but dug out for the May edition of Heart of The Matter online magazine for my column called, "Because Life Happens." This is an example of how life happens-- and not always the way we want it to! So, if your mother's day is a bit of a letdown, let this article minister to you.

My mother's day has been wonderful! I think my family has learned. That and a strategically timed reminder email to my husband earlier this week. Oh, and the helpful hint that whatever he does or doesn't do for mother's day will set the precedent for father's day. I know, I know, I am shameless-- but crafty. You must admit.

Last night he took me to dinner at the sushi place, where we dined on rice bowls with Katsu fried chicken and broccoli on top-- yummy! Then we saw Ironman, which, frankly, was disappointing. I had built it up to so much more in my mind. This morning I woke up at 10 am-- I can't remember the last time I slept that late!! Awaiting me was the morning paper, a hot cup of coffee and a Krispy Kreme chocolate donut. In my card were gift cards to Steinmart and to Barnes and Noble. Then we went to church which was great-- they even treated each mom to her own boxed gourmet chocolate chip cookie. This afternoon, I am taking it easy. Tonight we are meeting my mom and stepdad for dinner at their favorite pizza place. All in all, a nice, relaxing day. Nothing super exciting-- but I don't want super exciting. Relaxation and low key days are where it's at. Maybe I am getting old-- or maybe I am finally discovering the secrets to enjoying life.

"To want what I have, to take what I'm given with grace," Don Henley.
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Winner of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

As promised, the winner of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is... Frugal 20!

(Sorry, I don't know your name-- couldn't find it on your blog page! So, Frugal 20 it is.)

Enjoy the book and all of you who didn't win, thanks for trying and do go buy a copy of this worthwhile read. You will enjoy it!
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

More On Mommy Blogs

Maria Bailey, who helped pull together our Disney trip and hung out with us the whole weekend, was on the Today show being interviewed about the power of mommy blogs. Very cool! They messed up and didn't have her name below her interview, but she is the one who says, "We call it word of mom." She is a very cool chick and is one of the people I wish I had had more time with during that whirlwind weekend.

Want to watch the clip? Go here.

And just for the record, I don't have any ads on my blog (as you can see), nor do I profit from it in any way-- other than the occasional trip to Disney, of course! Well, and the pleasure of getting to know so many of you and experience the camaraderie of sharing our lives with each other. (Insert a great big giant studio audience "Awwww" right here.) Anyway, we are not planning to have Curt come home from his job so he can help me run this blog. But I will admit that does sound pretty cool. At times.

Other times that sounds like a whole lot of togetherness.

Ok, off to take some cold medicine, eat some Chick fil a chicken soup, and go back into hibernation mode. I leave tomorrow to head to Durham, NC to speak at a mother/daughter luncheon on modesty on Saturday. For those of you who "knew me when," you can attest that this is something only God could do. To have me speak to women about modesty. Of course, that's exactly how I am going to start off my talk-- just sharing how immodest I used to be-- and what was going through my head during that time in my life. Ie, college. Ie, before the six babies. Now being modest isn't just a choice, it's a public service.
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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

MIA... Again

I wanted to let you all know that I have come down with a very bad cold/flu/allergy thing that has left me whimpering and muling around in a downright pitiful state. I haven't been this sick in a very long time. And, just for the record, moms shouldn't get sick. It doesn't work for the rest of the family to have the team co-captain on the injured list.

Today I was supposed to speak for a local moms' group on finances (which is what our book is on) and late last night I realized that, barring a miracle straight from Heaven, I was not going to be able to pull it off. I barely have a voice. So, I prevailed upon my co-author (aka my husband) to speak in my place. And he did it! He used parts of this post to illustrate how God wants us to trust Him with our finances. I have gotten terrific feedback from the moms that were there and it is safe to say they didn't even miss me! So, that was quite a blessing for me and great speaking practice for him as we get ready to launch this book.

And so, I'm just letting you know that it might be spotty posting at best around here while I try to get well. I have too much to do to be sick!! Prayers appreciated.
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Greetings to all of you who stop by today for the first time or for the first time in a long time! I have a devotion up today at Proverbs 31, which usually means I have some new folks popping by to get to know me and read some of my ramblings. If you are a regular, thanks for faithfully visiting me and if you are new, I hope you will keep coming back.

I talk about any number of things here on my blog-- mostly my family, my struggles, and what it's like to love the Lord and live for Him in this broken, fallen world. Oh, and I occasionally post recipes and menu plans, too! Because eating is a big part of living-- at least for me and my family it seems to be. It is ridiculous the amount of time I spend dealing with F-O-O-D. Shopping, planning, buying, cooking... Can anyone relate?

I am so happy you stopped by and I hope you will keep coming back to visit! Be sure to leave a comment in the entry below this one for your chance to win a great book!
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Monday, May 05, 2008

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

As soon as I saw the title for Trish Ryan's new book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope and Happily Ever After, I knew this was a book I had to read! I quickly emailed her and begged her to let me review it here on my blog and do a giveaway. I was thrilled when she agreed to do it! This book was so, so good. I didn't just read it-- I devoured it. I couldn't put it down. I love reading memoirs. (Perhaps because I am nosy, but then that just sounds negative.) And this memoir certainly didn't disappoint. Trish's journey through New Age philosophies and searching for God in all the wrong places is written in such a way that you can't wait to see what happens next. Her life has taken many twists and turns-- and yet, God clearly had His hand on her the whole time.
I would especially recommend reading this book if you know someone who is into different schools of thought or is "exploring alternatives" to God. Trish's writing offers great insight into what people that search for God through other alternatives might really be thinking and feeling. She puts a human, real face on who these people are that believe in crystals and feng shui and horoscopes. And she made me realize that they are a lot like me-- wanting to be loved, wanting to connect with others, and wanting something more out of life. I felt like this book equipped me to better love those people and to have compassion for them instead of criticizing them for what I tend to dismiss as just crazy beliefs. I know that God wants us to love them and reach out to them. And I see what happened to Trish when people began to do just that.
Check out her book-- I think you will love it as much as I did!
And now, here is her interview-- you can see what a delight she is and get to know her a bit. If you would like to try to win the book, please leave me a comment. I will draw a winner on Mother's Day.
Hi Trish, thanks for joining us! How long have you been writing? Do you speak as well?

I’ve loved writing since high school, when I realized that an A in English could balance out an algebra grade that came from a different part of the alphabet. I always hoped writing would be part of whatever profession I landed in, but I never thought I’d get to write books for a living—it’s such an incredible honor, and such fun. I’ve had so many other jobs where I was just putting in time, and this is entirely different.

My speaking career started in high school also (sort of a formative time for me, now that I think of it!) I love connecting with an audience—seeing the reaction in real time. It’s a great counterpart to all the solitude of writing.

How do balance your relationship with your husband and your passion for writing (and speaking)?

We’re still on the front end of figuring that out! When we were first married, we heard a wise piece of advice about prioritizing: put God first, then your spouse, then your family. Work comes after that, because you need to support all those people you love! And then your service to the church or community. It’s tough sometimes when I’m on a deadline or our schedule gets hectic, but it really helps to have a pre-made decision about putting our relationship ahead of all the other things competing for our attention.

What advice would you give a writer who is seeking publication?

Read widely.
Seek wise counsel and listen to what trusted people tell you—especially if it’s not flattering.
Ask God how you should move forward. I wrote for months and never submitted anything to anyone because I couldn’t get a clear sense when I prayed about whom to send it to. There were thousands of agents, and I needed help to figure out where to start.

How did this book come about? How did you choose the memoir format (which totally works for this!) versus a standard women's trade nonfiction book?

I wanted to share my experience of finding faith without the suggestion that I was an “expert,” or that there was any pressure on readers to come to similar conclusions. I hadn’t seen a story like mine when I was combing bookstores for spiritual options, and this seemed the best format to describe the unique path I took to happily ever after.

What project are you working on currently?

My next book picks up where HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT leaves off, describing how our happily ever after has gone so far—both in terms of figuring out what it means to be a wife, and what it looks like for us to follow Jesus here in New England, where that’s not a very common thing.

Thanks, Marybeth for having me!!!
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Good For Nothin'

I need to do laundry.

I need to empty and reload the dishes.

I need to unpack.

I need to thaw chicken for dinner.

I need to go to the P31 offices and take back the few books that didn't sell this weekend, plus place my order for what I will be taking this coming weekend.

I need to take some books to the library that are due, pay a fine, and pick up some holds.

I need to go buy goggles at Target for the kids' first swim practice tonight. And I need to pick up a few other things while I am at it.

I need to make some appointments to see some houses since we now need to find a home to live in. Wow.

I need to do some school with the six year old and not try to pass of "Go, Diego, Go" as school. See? Animals. That's educational.

But instead, I am avoiding it all. Because I am good for nothin'. I am tired, tired, tired. This weekend was so, so good. So rich and full of blessings. A sweet time of fellowship and sharing our stories with each other. I will admit that by the time the weekend was over, I was tired of the sound of my own voice. That is saying a lot! The weekend itself wasn't tiring, the traveling was. I left the hotel at 11:30am and arrived home at 8:00pm last night. Traveling exhausts me! It always has and no matter how much I do it, that never seems to change. Anyone else find that to be true? I am developing a serious dislike for airports-- where once I used to think they were exciting places. Once upon a time, I used to see planes up in the sky and envy the people on them, the exciting places I was sure they were going. Not so, now. Now home is a pretty exciting and, depending on the day, exotic place to be!

And so, today, I have decided to take it slow. To put anything I can off til tomorrow and use today to rest and get re-acclimated to life at home. To hang out and love on my kids. To take a nap if I can. To just rejoice in being home with my family, the place I love best in the world. Nothing like leaving to make you appreciate returning.

And to the ladies I just had the privilege of spending the weekend with: you guys were awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting each one of you. I only wish I had had time to hear all your stories and get to know each of you better! You guys are special and you have a great thing going in your women's ministry-- but I suspect you already know that. Take care of each other and keep hold of the Father's hand! Please keep in touch-- and I am not just saying that!
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Friday, May 02, 2008

So, No Review But...

What do you think this means???
Yep!! This photo was taken yesterday just after my realtor slipped the cover over top of the "for sale" sign that has stood in our yard for exactly one year. To the day.
Now, who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? Only He could work something like that out!
Sooooo, that's where I have been this week. In a frenzy of negotiations and signing papers and searching for new houses and... well, it's just all too much to even write about right now. But I will. I can't wait to share with you all the story of selling our house. Cause it's quite a story.
But for now, I have to shower, finish packing and get on a plane for Long Island, NY to lead a weekend women's retreat. I am looking forward to it and can't wait to see what God does in the lives of the women who are attending. If you think of it, please pray for me as I lead and for the women who will be there as they meet with God in a very personal way. I am in a tired and overwhelmed place right now after the week I have had and I just know that God is going to have to work through me, in spite of me. Just like He always does-- only perhaps a bit more.
I appreciate your prayers and I will update you all soon. And I am going to post a review, interview and another giveaway of Trish Ryan's book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. It is such a fabulous book-- I can't wait to tell you all about it!!
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