Saturday, June 28, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog...

For a moving experience!

Yes, as I type this, I am in the library near my home, taking advantage of their free internet access since we had to disconnect all our stuff that makes the internet possible in order to pack it all. So, that means that I am in the unique position of not having internet access for the next few days.

Y'all, it is hard to not have internet access. I feel positively prehistoric. You have no idea how much you run over and check things on the internet until it's not there anymore! Not only do I not have email, but I have no access to news or Craig's List or other important links to the world!

So what does all this mean? It means that my posting will be sparse. But I will be back just as soon as I can. Perhaps I will have some stories about our move to share-- and maybe some photos. Very soon this blog will be brought to you from a brand new location. A location that, we hope, will quickly come to feel like home.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Without Much Fanfare

This afternoon, I turned in my book.

I don't know what I expected. Fanfare, perhaps? Our high school band to come marching down our street, drum line beating out a rhythm and causing the neighbors to step outside wondering what was happening? At which point I would of course answer, "I just turned in my book!" And then of course, the neighbors would hoist me onto their shoulders and we would parade through the streets, while people waved and clapped and cheered?

Yeah, maybe. Maybe not quite that much. Although a teensy bit of fanfare would have felt more... symbolic or something.

Instead, I attached it and sent an email, just like lots of other emails with attachments I have sent in my life. My 11 yo son was in the room and I told him I had just submitted my book, so he slapped me a high five. And then I emailed my husband, who was out of town, to tell him that I had submitted it. And he emailed me back and said he was proud of me.

And then I was done. For now. I know there will be edits and marketing stuff ahead, but the actual work of finishing it up-- of looking it over and deciding there was nothing else I was going to do with it. That is done.

And it feels good. But just not as huge and monumental as I thought it would. And so, I figured I would share about it here, just to mark it in some small way:

I did it!! I finished my book!! (I'll just let you imagine the marching band and parade.)
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Thoughts While Running

I went running this morning, taking my 8.5 and 6 yo with me in order to get it in. Mercifully, the baby slept in-- the other two don't seem to know how to do that. And so, making the best of a dull moment and knowing I absolutely needed to tear myself away from the computer and them from the tv, I suggested they ride their bikes while I ran. (Just so you know, the baby was not left at home alone in her crib-- the 13 and 11 yo were here with her.) Some of you have asked me how I find time to exercise-- and this is just an example of how I do-- I fit it in anywhere I can.

Today my 6yo son asked me when I finished running, "Mom, doesn't that make your legs hurt?"

I nodded and added, "And my chest and my stomach and pretty much my whole body."

"So, why do you do it?" he asked.

"Well, because it is good for me and it helps keep me healthy. And hopefully it will keep me from being old before my time."

He thought about that. "Will it keep you from getting a heart attack?"

"It can," I said.

He gave me the thumbs up. "Good job, mom," he said, "Good job."

While I ran, I had some pretty deep thoughts run through my brain. (In the interest of full disclosure, please know that deep for me is not necessarily deep for others.) Running makes me think. It frees up my brain from the work it is usually doing and moves all the junk out of the aisles so thoughts can move freely about the cabin once again. I have found that when I have writer's block, a run will clear it right up-- try it sometime!

If you do decide to go out running in the summer, here are some ways I have learned that you can get over an imminent case of heatstroke:

1) walk around in circles in your house, panting loudly

2) turn on your ceiling fan and lie under it on your bed, panting loudly

3) gulp down glasses of water, panting loudly between sips

Ok, now that I have recovered from heatstroke sufficiently enough to type, here are my deep thoughts:

Deep thought #1:

The children, as I said, rode their bikes while I ran. This meant that I was behind them most of the way, watching them zip along ahead of me, out of my reach and sometimes out of my voice range-- though I can yell pretty loud, make no mistake about it! I called out helpful things like, "Get on the grass when a car goes by." And, "You need to stay where I can see you at all times." At one point we got to a big downhill part of our route. I warned them that they needed to know where their brakes were at all times, just in case they needed them. "Ride your brakes!" I would holler. And as I watched them flying down the hill-- far away from my ability to physically reach them-- their hair whipping in the wind and their excited squeals punctuating the air, I realized, This is a picture of parenting. You prepare them, you show them where the brakes are, and then you send them off-- out of your reach, but not out of God's. You do a lot of praying and you hope that, when the time comes, they will remember your warnings and ride those brakes if they need to. It reminded me of this song that is possibly cheesy but don't tell me-- I like it.

Deep thought #2:

As we passed a driveway, my daughter noticed a footprint in it, forever frozen in the cement. "How did that footprint get there?" she asked.

"Well," I said, "Someone stepped in it while it was still wet and it stayed when the cement dried." I looked at her and smiled. "That's what I am trying to do with you guys," I said, "Leave my footprint on your heart while you are young-- before your little hearts get harder and you get more set in your ways. Someday, I hope you will remember all the things I have said to you about loving Jesus and being a certain kind of person. And that will be like that footprint, frozen in your life forever, so you can't forget." She smiled back at me and did that "my mom's so weird" little shake of her head and rode on. What a moment.

Deep thought #3:

As I ran, this song came on. (What can I say? I love it when Mick sings, "What'll I do without ya?") It took me back to a time in my life when this song was popular, to a place in my life I would rather forget but is no less a part of who I am. This was a place where I looked to men (boys really) to define me, to validate me, to give me purpose. I wanted them to fill me up with what I lacked. How many times did I wonder where the one was, when THE ONE I searched for was right beside me, patiently waiting for me to notice Him. He never inserted Himself in my life, He just waited for me to stop searching for some sort of Holy Grail of relationships and turn to Him. As I thought about that time in my life, I felt bad for the people I hurt during that time-- the guys I was drawn to were no wholer or capable of dealing with my repressed anger, unresolved feelings and rampant insecurity than I was. And yes, that includes my poor, longsuffering husband-- who came in and put a stop to all the wondering and wandering but not to the "complete me, fulfill me, meet my every need" romance novel idea of love I still carried around.

But that's a post for another time. Possibly a book.

And then, the very next song that came on my Ipod (because I am eclectic in my music tastes and so this is pretty normal) was Mighty To Save. As I listened to the words about this Savior who moves mountains, I thought about the emotional mountains He has moved in my life. From angry and insecure and emotionally unstable college girl to less angry, less insecure and less emotionally unstable woman. (Hey, I am a work in progress.) From despair to joy. From hopeless to hopeful. And as I ran, I raised my arms in worship, praising Him for bringing me this far. Thanking Him for His promise to take me the rest of the way.

So take me as you find me
All my fears and failures
And fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
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The Surreal Life

God led me to write this because one of you needs to read it after reading all the different She Speaks recaps posted all around the internet. I don't know who you are, and it doesn't matter. It may be more than one of you. Whoever you are, this is for you:

Sometimes it's fun to experience grown-up life. To put on big people clothes and wear things like makeup and shoes-that-are-not-my-scratched-up-flip-flops-from-Target. To be around people who tell you that your hair looks good or they like your outfit or other forms of compliments.

Because, as I was quick to tell folks this weekend, that's not real life for me. Real life for me is short people who boss me around and make unrealistic demands and then cry loudly if I don't comply immediately. Real life involves hardly ever being told my hair looks good or my shirt is cute. Usually, if anything, real life involves "helpful" comments from my teens who are just trying to keep me from embarrassing them around their friends. And my real life wardrobe? Think stretchy, soft fabrics-- in a myriad of colors. Think clothes you can wear all day and then climb into bed still wearing. Real life means getting unwittingly sucked into arguments with these same short people who, while small in stature, have negotiation powers to rival the most accomplished business person you could think of. They should be writing books on success in the business world.

So, She Speaks was a nice temporary departure from real life. While I am honored and proud to be a part of the P31 team, I am on the fringe-- hovering on the outer edges while I take care of all this real life stuff at home. I contribute as best I can (and I am so grateful for their patience and understanding in that area)-- but I am also very tethered to the needs and demands of my family. So being at She Speaks is sort of surreal. (After reading about my real life, you might see how that could be.)

But the thing is, I like it that way. By Saturday night this past weekend, I was aching to scoop up my two year old in my arms, longing to have one of our rambling conversations with my husband, needing to see my children's faces. I wouldn't trade my real life for my surreal one. As Curt reminds me, in ten years there will be lots of things I can do that I can't do now. And in the meantime, I am treasuring real life. A very full, very busy, very loud real life. (I said to my kids on Sunday, "I just spent the weekend with 550 women and I don't think all those women put together were as loud as you people!") But I wouldn't trade the noise, the ruckus... the joy I derive from my life with these people.

I just felt led to write all that after posting several times about She Speaks. I know how Satan can take things like She Speaks and make a mom feel like she is not doing anything important or valid or worthwhile "just being a mom." Like she is missing out because she is at home. Especially if you weren't there because finances or time or life prevented you from coming. So I wanted to wrap up all my She Speaks talk by driving that point home-- don't take your eyes off the value of what you have right in front of you. Focus today on letting Jesus give you His perspective of what you are doing in your home, with your family. Let Him fill you with purpose and joy as He points out the flowers along the way.

"Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it." Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Changing Your Perspective on Parenting

I rarely do this, but today I wanted to direct you to read a post my husband wrote about raising kids. While we are still in the midst of this journey (and will be for, oh about the next 16 years-- not that I'm counting) there are some hard-won lessons we have learned and are trying to walk out in our daily life. Not that we do it perfectly now-- but we at least have a better perspective than we once did and can re-direct ourselves to it when we get off track.

Curt eloquently expressed his thoughts about changing our perspective on parenting in his post. This was huge in our lives, and could be something someone is struggling with out there-- so I felt led to share it.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We Won! We Won!!

Last night was our last swim meet of the regular season. For the third season in a row, our neighborhood swim team went undefeated to become the league regular season champions-- a record that has not occurred in our league in either 20 or 30 years, depending on who you ask. As my husband said, "Either way, it's a long dadgum time."

(And for those of you who were at She Speaks, you now know we really do say words like "dadgum" and "fixin to" and "y'all."-- even in the 21st century. Some things in the south just will not die-- like eating grits and drinking sweet tea and southern accents. No matter how many people from up north move down here, the accent just won't die out. In fact, I know plenty of northerners who moved down south and now find themselves saying, "y'all" with some regularity. We wear you down over time.)

Anyway back to the subject at hand, there was much celebrating going on around these here parts as we have now become a record-setting, championship team. And I am reminded why we aren't leaving this little small-town neighborhood when we move next week.

This morning Curt went to fill up my car with gas and some guy saw his tee shirt from our neighborhood. (Yes. We have tee shirts for our neighborhood. Because we're fancy that way.) He hollered at Curt across the parking lot, "Hey, did they win last night?"

It did Curt's heart good that that happened. We live in Mayberry.

And we like it that way.
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She Chokes

Ok, I am going to attempt to recap my time at She Speaks. The title of this post will explain itself as you read on...

We got to the hotel for some preliminary meetings on Wednesday. So that means by the time all the attendees got there on Friday afternoon, we were already dazed and confused by lack of sleep and lots of good girlfriend time. People would ask me a question and I would have to blink at them a few times, dumbfounded, while I attempted to process what it was they asked me. If you talked to me at She Speaks and I seemed a bit on the slow side, well, there ya go. Hopefully, that explains it somewhat. Surviving on day after day of a few mere hours of nightly sleep is bound to take its toll on one's mental capacity. I blame it on my roomies-- Shari and my daughter-- who kept me up til one am or after every night, with wake up times of six am, usually. I, of course, had no part in ALL THE TALKING that went on at night in our room.

The meetings were good and it is always good to have some team time to catch up, giggle and just generally get called down for bad behavior during meetings. (Not that I did, mind you, but I know some people who did. I was, as always, sitting far away from those folks shining my halo.) We received some wonderful training that, at some point, will translate to lots of work for me in changing some things I have been doing... later.

Can't. Think. About. That. Now. Must. Move. First.

Best moment of Thursday night was when Connor, the sound guy Doug's teenage son, asked at dinner, "Why does everyone here have such great hair?" To which Shari, sweet Shari, quickly replied, "It's because of me! When I got on this team you should have seen their hair!" And then she did this sort of grimace/shudder/stick out her tongue move that just communicated in volumes what absolute dogs we were before she came along to save us all from hair (and fashion) homicide. But it didn't matter-- because Connor had just said we all had great hair and I will take a compliment like that any day of the week. Even though he might not have been including me, we are operating under the theory that he totally was.

Thursday night after dinner we practiced coming in to the opening session where we run in clapping and just generally acting crazy. We were supposed to come in to "I'm Coming Out" until someone graciously pointed out that this is the national gay and lesbian anthem. Somehow we had crawled under a rock and not been privy to this fact before now. We just thought it sounded "fun." Not wanting to send out some sort of strange message to the attendees, we quickly decided that we should come up with a different song. So there was much listening and dancing to various songs before we decided ultimately to go back to our old standby, Shania Twain. This year we attempted to choreograph a dance to the song, of all things. Aimy Steele quickly dubbed us as "the white women who just can't dance (bless our hearts)." I really couldn't because I could not do the pivot turn on the ball of my (still technically broken) foot. I was afraid I would mess it up bad and had visions of me on crutches the rest of She Speaks. So, this meant that, while everyone else turned, I stood still. It was purty, let me tell you.

(And those of you who were at She Speaks now know we actually do talk that way, right?)

The official start of She Speaks on Friday was kicked off for me with some publisher appointments, a women's ministry luncheon where I hostessed a table-- meaning I was responsible for leading the discussion, can you imagine?-- and the blogger reception. It was all lots of fun and I smiled so much that my face hurt. Then it was time to run into the opening session and get the party started!!

The rest of my time there was a blur of smiling faces, answering questions as best I could, laughing, enjoying time with my girlfriends, and hugging people left and right. I joked that next year I am going to have a tee shirt made that says either, "I Know Nothing" (think Hogan's Heroes for those of you old enough to remember that) or "I Am Not In Charge." Because those were the two best responses I could give when I was asked a question. I got really good at pointing people to the information desk and assuring them someone could help them there. Just because I had on one of them there beaded lanyards does not automatically mean I was helpful. But I wanted to be, so that should count for something... right?

My first meeting on Friday night with my speaker evaluation group was special from the get-go. We quickly determined that we had a very unique group! There were so many amazing stories and so much passion for Jesus crammed into that one hotel room! I know that each of these women is going to be used by God and I am excited to see where and when.

On Saturday afternoon, I got to lead a workshop entitled "Bringing Passion To Your Platform" which was billed as a Next Generation (the youth part of the conference), Writing, Speaking and Women's Ministry track event. They were all there. So, basically I felt like a schizophrenic as I presented: "Girls, this is what you should be thinking about!" "Speakers, here's something for you!" "Writers, this might help you!" I was having an internal conversation with myself that went something like this: "Seriously, why in the world did you agree to speak to all the different groups?? How can they possibly get anything out of this? You are all over the map!"

And then the coughing began. It began as an innocent little tickle in my throat so I drank some water as nonchalantly as I could. The tickle didn't go away. It began to get bigger, closing off my throat and taking my voice hostage. In desperation, I asked them to write down some question I had asked, and swallowed the whole glass of water I had at the podium. Nope. Still there. I finally just stopped and asked for prayer. Blessedly, some sweet sister brought me a piece of hard candy to suck on. Only the candy was long and thin, taking up the entire side of my mouth-- so while I was no longer coughing, now I sounded like I had a big wad of chewing gum in my mouth while I talked. That should sound great to those poor souls who purchase the cd! Somehow, I got through the whole thing without melting into a puddle of embarrassment on the floor.

You know how usually after something like that happens and you mention it to someone else, you find that you were making a bigger deal of it than it really was? You say something about it and they respond, "Oh, I didn't notice, really." And then that just makes you feel better and you laugh it off? Well, not so with this. For the rest of the weekend whenever I would mention it to those people who were in there, they would say, "Oh, I felt so sorry for you." Niiice. And so, She Speaks turned into She Chokes. I gave new meaning to a speaker getting choked up while speaking! I had a hard time being positive and upbeat for the rest of Saturday after that. Satan had himself a field day with that one, let me tell you. I tried not to listen but he is pretty assertive.

I finished off Saturday night with some great time with Dawn, my blog designer who I have never met in person but have talked with via email numerous times. We hit it off and could have talked all night-- and would have, had it not dawned (get it?) on me that I had to get back to my room and write out evaluations for my group's talk. Talking with Dawn lifted my spirits a lot, which was needed. When I got back to my room, dear, sweet, hilarious Zoe was in there-- so some time with her also helped me laugh it off and forget my pity party about all the coughing.

Somehow (we know how) on Sunday, I woke up refreshed and positive and ready to finish our time at She Speaks. Micca Campbell brought it on Sunday morning as she closed us out with the final general session. Her message was entitled "What Do They Got That I Haven't Got?" Which of course, my answer to that was clearly, a throat that doesn't get seized by a coughing attack.

All too soon it was over and we were saying our goodbyes. That's the worst part of all. I will miss all those girls and tried my best to talk them all into moving to NC!! I promised them plenty of sweet tea and humidity to go around.

In case they don't take me up on it, there's always next year... I hope to see you all back there... I'll be wearing my "I Know Nothing" tee shirt and sucking my candy... just in case.
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Greetings to all of you who are visiting today from the P31 devotions! I hope the idea of a goodie bag that assures others of God's love for them inspires you to make one for someone in your life!

We at P31 are still in "recovery mode" from an exciting weekend at our annual She Speaks Conference. Scroll down to checkout some photos of our time together. I will also be posting more later today about my time there, so check back.

To take a peek at what others are saying about She Speaks, visit this link for a list of other bloggers who attended this weekend. Over 550 women joined us for a life-transforming, God-encountering, ministry-defining time. Why don't you start praying today about joining us next year?? :) Mark your calendars for July 31-August 2nd, 2009!
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Monday, June 23, 2008

She Speaks Hangover

Is anyone still here??


If you are-- thank you for patiently waiting on me in my absence.

I don't know why I took my laptop to She Speaks and had the crazy idea that I would live blog from the event. Ha! Ha again! Last night I sat down in MY bed in MY house (at least for one more week it is) and all of a sudden pain set into my entire body. My legs, hips and shoulders were aching with relief as I was completely, totally, finally still after several days of running. I was, I realized, more tired and overextended than I had even admitted to myself.

What is it about coming home that allows you to just let everything out, to see things from the perspective of who you are and not who you feel like you should be? I love that. I love that there's a place in this world where I can just fall apart. We should all be thanking God for that today.

Today I am planning to nurse my She Speaks hangover completely. I doubt I will leave the house. I am going to pour into my children and possibly take a nap. There are things I need to be doing-- but I doubt many of them will get done today. I am giving myself permission to take a day or two to recoup before I dive headlong into packing and moving just one week from today. I promise to write about She Speaks ad nauseum-- because God was so good and there is so, so much to say. Thank you for your prayers and thank you for waiting on me to get my act together and POST SOMETHING ALREADY-- those of you who care about such things just bless my heart.

I shall return... with pictures no less!
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

This week includes She Speaks for me, which means-- to quote the magician in Frosty, "Busy, busy, busy." And so, in my absence I am trying to plan easy meals that my husband can make without having to take our large crew out every night. I started off strong, but as you can see my creative juices ran a bit dry and I caved in the end:

Monday) taco salad, sliced watermelon (we had this for lunch as our main meal since there is a swim meet tonight)

Tuesday) baked chicken, green beans, pasta salad (I am home to make this)

Wednesday) spaghetti, baby carrots dipped in Ranch dressing, Texas toast (I will start this before I leave in the morning)

Thursday) frozen chicken strips, chicken broccoli rice, frozen broccoli, canned peaches (Curt can make this when he gets home or I might have the sitter start it)

Friday) our church is having a movie night in the park so I am going to tell Curt to pick up burgers or Chick fil a and take it out there

Saturday) frozen pizza or order it

Today I am going to spend time baking fresh blueberry muffins and banana bread for snacks, breakfast or dessert. I know they will enjoy having some homemade goodies around and it makes me feel like a better mom since I am leaving... but this isn't a post about mommy guilt, now, is it? :)
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Father's Day

Welcome to all of you who stop by today after reading the P31 devo! Glad you're here! Today I am sharing how we spent Father's Day. How did you spend Father's Day? Leave a comment and let me know--

Yesterday, as you undoubtedly know, was Father's Day. We had a great Father's Day-- even though I must say that Curt didn't get to sit around with his feet propped up very much! He wanted to cook his own breakfast, so I didn't try to talk him out of it. We started off the day by giving him his gifts-- a book he had mentioned wanting to read and Starbucks gift cards plural! Then we had a big breakfast (cooked by him) of eggs, cinnamon rolls, and sausage links. Then it was off to church. We got a nice surprise when our realtor-- whom we have grown to love and consider part of the family-- came to church with us! (If you ever need a realtor recommendation for Charlotte, email me!) Church was great as we are participating in a worldwide series called "One Prayer." Pastor Craig Groeschel preached on church unity-- something that is so, so needed.

After we got home, Curt and two of the kids went to the pool, I headed to the grocery store to get dinner, and the other kids hung out at home and napped. While I was out, I stopped at my favorite stores-- Steinmart and Marshall's. Without these two stores, I would not have a wardrobe!! I am in the final throes of trying to get my wardrobe pulled together for She Speaks-- which I think the entire speaker team is also trying to do, as was evidenced by the myriad of emails that were flying back and forth yesterday on the topic of SHOES! Ah, women-- you gotta love 'em!

When I got home, I had just enough time to unload the groceries and welcome the sitter. Curt and I headed out to Kohl's (another wardrobe staple) to get him a pair of pants for work and then on to an early dinner/late lunch at our favorite little Japanese place. We have developed a serious love for this rice bowl topped with Katsu fried chicken and steamed broccoli. Yum! Then we headed to the least exciting but most necessary phase of our date-- to Barnes and Noble to hunker down and finish this book! I am happy to report that, after working for four hours yesterday, I just have to do one final pass-through edit and the footnotes and this baby is done!!

(Pause for applause.)

It is such a great feeling to know we are so close to turning in this book. With God's help (so much better than saying, "With any luck"), I hope to submit it before I go into She Speaks, as that will be one less thing weighing on me.

As I read through the book yesterday, I was so overcome with the sense that this book is actually going to help people who are struggling with money, which is why we did it of course. But you wonder at times if that will come through. If you desire to write a book, I would encourage you to take the focus off writing it just for the sake of "getting published." Instead focus on the people your message will reach. It makes such a difference in the writing and in your enthusiasm. Every time I would pick it up while we were writing it, I would get excited all over again just in realizing the potential this book has to offer hope to those who are struggling with money-- especially in today's hurting economy. (Seen the gas prices lately? Bought any groceries lately? It's tough out there!)

Please know I say this in true awe-- because I know it was God supplying the words and the ideas. It was certainly not us. If it had been me and Curt on our own, the book would have read like Charlie Brown's teacher talks.

I won't tell you how our date ended-- as it was not exactly what you want to come home to. Let's just say that Curt was vying for Father of the Year as he cleaned up a most unfortunate mess in our bathroom that had occurred in our absence. I walked in to see him on his knees, scrubbing unmentionable substances, and whispered, "Happy Father's Day." He laughed in spite of himself and I did too. Parenting: it's not for the faint of heart... or stomach.
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Saturday, June 14, 2008


Last night I put the baby in bed early-- while it was still light outside-- because she had not had a nap and was just short of evil to be around. My oldest son was at the play he is in. Two others were camping out in our backyard and were occupied out there. Then my husband announced he was going to take the younger two to the pool, which left me sitting in an empty house-- oh, the decadence!

I sat there for a few minutes, mentally running over the things I could do at that moment but was too tired to do. To be honest, had there been a Law and Order on any channel, I would have found my entertainment-- but it was not to be. So, I sat there and watched a few minutes of Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and thought, "This is a big fat waste of time." And then suddenly, an idea seized me. I could go for a walk! I had not been on a walk since I broke my foot in March. As I thought about it, I realized that my foot had not been hurting me at all and I could give it a try.

And so, I asked my oldest daughter and her friend to come in from the yard and watch Cheaper by The Dozen 2 (and yes, I did call it "Cheaper By The Half Dozen" by mistake, which made my daughter and her friend laugh at me) and listen out for the baby. I got all suited up, put on my Ipod and headed out the door in the falling light. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed doing this. I walked half of my normal route and realized that my foot wasn't giving me the least bit of trouble, so I decided to try running on it. I ran a good long stretch and only quit because I ran out of steam-- not because my foot hurt. This was quite a victory! About halfway through my run I realized the date: June 13. Exactly three months after I broke my foot I was running on it. The doctor had told me four to six months before I could run. I thanked God for giving me this gift back as I ran, treasuring something I used to take for granted and even complain about.

As I was cooling down, walking in front of our house, Curt and the kids pulled up from swimming. He rolled the window down and asked me suspiciously, "What are you doing?"
I grinned back at him, triumphant. "I ran!" I said. He shook his head and smiled. He knew what a huge moment that was for me.
"And you're okay?" he countered. I assured him my foot had not hurt at all. My doctor had told me in regards to running-- only do what your foot tells you you can. If you feel pain, stop. I felt no pain at all!

So, I just wanted to share this little victory and challenge those of you who experience the blessing of being able to walk-- and even run-- to thank God for that ability today. I hope I never take it for granted again.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Brian's Song

A friend of my son's died in a car wreck yesterday. He didn't find out about it until late in the day because he was working when it happened and didn't find out until he got home. After he found out, he kept saying the things you say:
"I just saw him not long ago."
"He just sat across from me at a table."
"He was the nicest guy."

His name was Brian. I told him that I, too, had a friend named Bryan who died when I was about his age. This Bryan was also killed in a car accident. This Bryan was also the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. Like my son, I also thought a lot about the last time I saw him. And how I would never see him again.

My son said, "Mom, you don't have to tell me that just to make me feel better. It's not going to work." The truth is, I wasn't telling him that to make him feel better. I was telling him that because I wanted him to know that losing someone is traumatic. That just because they died when you were young doesn't mean you forget them when you are older. While I don't think of Bryan every day, there are certain songs, certain sights, that trigger my memory of him, and what we all lost when he died.

Here is what I remember about Bryan: he could not wait to drive. We rode the bus together and every day he would get on the bus and tell me how many days until he got his driver's license. He always rubbed it in that he would have his before me. What neither of us knew then is that he would ultimately cause me to delay getting my driver's license until I was over 17 years old. Bryan's zeal to drive ultimately ended his life-- a fact that wasn't lost on me. I couldn't get over how something he wanted to do so badly was the thing that killed him.

The irony in Bryan's death is that his car accident occurred in front of my old house. We had just moved from there a few months before the accident and I was so thankful that I wasn't around for that. I know God protected me from seeing that as his loss was traumatic enough. My friend Ann called me late that night to tell me about the accident in front of my old house and said for me to pray for Bryan, that he was in surgery for massive internal bleeding. Because I had changed schools when we moved, I had no way of hearing what was going on the next day. So, I prayed all day for Bryan-- never knowing he had not made it out of surgery. (This was in the days before cell phones and text messaging kept us all connected.) Ann called when I got home, letting me know that he was gone. I cried and cried-- not just for the loss of my friend, but also for the grief of being so disconnected from the other people who knew him. No one at my new school even knew who he was.

During that time, I listened to this song a lot. The opening lines, "Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone," really spoke to me. I understood the sadness that ran like a vein through James Taylor's song. It helped me heal and made me feel somehow connected to Bryan and to the friends from my old school who were able to grieve together.

This morning, as we were pulling out of our neighborhood, that song came on the radio, like a gift. I resisted the urge to tell my son about why that song was important to me and how it will always remind me of Bryan. Instead I let the song speak to both of us-- me remembering an old loss and him dealing with a new one. When the song was over, I told him I would take him to the funeral or the visitation if he wanted to go. I told him that my mom took me to Bryan's funeral, and how that always meant a lot to me. He said he would think about it and looked out the window. I hope that from now on, when he hears that song, he will remember his friend. And that both Bryans will live on in our hearts, a common bond we never wanted to share.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Bible Study At Home

I posted earlier about plans for making our summer fun and asked for your suggestions. Many of you offered great suggestions and I thank you for it! Did any of you make the "Super Goop" yet? We haven't, but I plan to soon. Today we have big plans to go to the library. Air conditioning! Books! My kind of place!

As I have been figuring out our summer plans, one of the ideas that God gave me was to start every day with my older kids having a time of Bible study on their own. I gathered them together and explained that we were going to honor God by committing first thing each day to spend time studying His Word. I told them that before they go play with friends, before they venture off to our neighborhood pool, before they turn on the tv... you get the picture... they are going to make God their first priority. I explained that it takes 21 days to form a habit and I hope that, in requiring this from them, I will help them create-- not just a habit-- but a lifelong passion for spending time with God before they do anything else.

I went to the store and bought each of them a 5X7, 80 page notebook to serve as their Bible journal. They cost $.99 each! Then I explained that every day I will write down a passage I would like them to read, with a verse I would like them to copy into their notebook. (This takes just seconds of my time to do.) Simple! After floundering a bit about what exactly to have them read and write, what has emerged this week is a system that is working well:
  • The seven year old is reading Psalm 23 each day, and copying down a successive verse until she has copied down the whole Psalm. Then we will move to another short passage and do the same thing. I am hoping the repeated daily readings will add up to a familiarity of some key passages in the Bible.
  • The eleven year old is reading through the gospel of Matthew, one chapter a day, and is writing down a verse from that chapter, which I choose for him.
  • The thirteen year old is choosing a Psalm and writing down a verse that speaks to her personally every day. I am giving her more flexibility and letting her make it personal because of her age and maturity.

I am excited about making this time a daily priority. If you have older children who are capable of reading and writing, I highly recommend starting this as a summer project-- not in a mean, dictator way, but in a passionate, "this is so important and I want you to experience it" kind of way. Better yet, do it with them, making your own journal and copying down verses that speak to you. (If you don't know what to read, subscribe to the P31 devotions and just read the devotion for that day and then copy down the verse for that day into your notebook, then write down a few prayer requests if you want.)

After you are done, talk about what you read. Share something cool with them that God showed you. Then ask them questions and let them narrate (a fancy word for tell) what they read. I am doing this with my eleven year old, just to make sure he grasped it. I just ask, "Did you read your chapter?" Then I say, "Tell me about what happened." It's pretty cool to hear him tell it in his own words. If I know anything about what he read that day, I add to it not in a teachery sort of way, but in a "if you think that's cool, let me tell you about this." Today we talked about Herod and his legacy-- how his son and grandson were also bad men and that his grandson died after being eaten from the inside out by worms. Ewwww, gross. We also talked about how Nazareth was not a place that people expected greatness to come from, and how it was significant that the prophecy that the king of the Jews would come out of Nazareth was fulfilled just as it was written in the Old Testament. This is all stuff I have learned from my years in CBS. Nothing earth shattering, just good info that, I think, helps make the Bible come alive.

As I explained about this summer plan to my kids earlier this week, my eleven year old son said to me, "Mom, you really love the Lord, don't you?" I don't think he has ever paid me a nicer compliment. And I can't think of a better legacy to hand him, a passion to ignite, and a habit to start now.

ETA: I found a great article about planning for summer fun here. You might want to check it out, as it had some great suggestions for moms who are trying to make the best summer ever without breaking the budget!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And We're Back

I was experiencing some technical difficulties with posting. As in, I would hit "publish" and it would go to the screen that said something about posting to the ftp site with a circle that went round and round.... and round and round... and round and round. It would never go to my favorite screen, the one that says, "Your blog published successfully." I always like anything that tells me I did something successfully!

So, I emailed my wonderful blog designer, Dawn, to ask her if she knew what was up. And then I tried about ten other things that I thought it could be, to no avail. I am so not the techno-savvy type.

Then I closed my computer and went to the garden for weeding Wednesday, got hot and sweaty outside, laughed and talked with the other moms, and dug my fingers in the dirt. I listened to the sound of the chickens and the laughter and squeals of happy children. I smelled the fresh basil and took pride in spotting the first bell peppers, squash and tiny little tomatoes that I had a part in planting. I thanked the little girls who sat outside and diligently made all us moms a flower bouquet from fresh cut flowers arranged in washed out tin cans with a piece of raffia tied around them. So, so cute! And the perfect pick-me-up! I forgot all about my stupid blogging problems while I was at the garden. It was refreshing.

When I got home, somehow, my blog had decided to publish all by its little self! I was so happy to see the post I had tried to publish magically make its way to the blogosphere. I have no idea how it happened except to say that Lysa had posted on her blog this morning asking people to pray for all of us on the team at P31 as we prepare to go into She Speaks. Because the weirdest, most bizarre stuff has been happening and we are all just weary. I mean, y'all just wouldn't believe the weird stuff! So, I chalked the whole "now it publishes/now it doesn't" thing to just another weird problem being overcome by the power of prayer.

Thanks to all of you who have left us all comments-- your supportive notes and prayers on our behalf mean so, so much to all of us. Keep on praying! We will need it in the week ahead as we prepare for and go through She Speaks!
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Cute! Funny! And True!

I rarely post these forward type things-- but this one was good enough to share with you all about the differences between men and women!


* If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.
* If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.

* When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
* When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

* A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
* A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.

* A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel .
* The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

* A woman has the last word in any argument.
* Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

* A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
* A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

* A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
* A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

* A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
* A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

* A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
* A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

* Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
* Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

* Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
* A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!
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Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer's Here!

Now what are we going to do about it?

We spent the morning outside-- and it was already nearly 90 degrees at 9:00 am. The kids wanted to spend some time outside, so I knew first thing in the morning was our best bet. They stayed out for about an hour riding bikes, climbing trees, shooting baskets and finding bugs. You know, normal kid stuff. I sat outside with them on my laptop, working away in the midst of shouts of, "Mom, look at me!"

My son said to me last night, "Mom, can we have a fun summer this year? Not a boring summer like last year where we just did the same thing day after day."

Hmmm, I guess I need to get creative!

My friend Valerie posted an interesting idea on her blog of making a poster for her kids of all the things they could do for fun summer activities. When I get some time (??), I think I am going to do something similar. I have pulled out several craft activity books to help me-- but I thought I would also ask here. You guys are experts-- so please post a comment with an idea for something fun, cool, and relatively inexpensive you do with your kids in the summertime. I think this could be a fun exchange of great ideas for beating the summer heat and keeping our kids from checking out with electronic entertainment.

I will start the ball rolling with this recipe for "Super Goop," taken from "The Preschooler's Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner. (A book chock full of great ideas which I highly recommend. I ordered it used from Amazon for a song!) My kids ask to make this all the time and it keeps them occupied for longer than most activities. (I won't say how long, though, because it will depress you.) I will warn you: it is messy to make. But worth it and you can always make the kids clean up-- which will occupy them for even longer!

Super Goop
2 cups water
1/2 cup cornstarch
food coloring
mixing spoon

Boil water in saucepan. Add cornstarch and stir until smooth. Add food coloring and stir-- play with the food coloring to get the color you want. Remove from heat and cool. Let kids squish away on the tabletop!

(While this idea came from a preschool book, it entertains almost all my kids!)

Can't wait to hear your ideas!
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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Homeschooling Post

For all of you experienced, beginning, or just-thinking-about-it homeschoolers out there, this post by my friend (and I am proud to call her my friend) Ann Voskamp was a good one to linger over. She has included a ton of links-- so many you could spend all day just investigating her recommendations. On a quiet Sunday such as this one (we are home from church because my 8yo daughter has a terrible cough and my husband is playing guitar for a church that needed him to fill in, so it's just me and the kids), I just might do exactly that!

Also, I have an article appearing over at Heart Of The Matter Online's magazine for my regular monthly column, "Because Life Happens." This article is called, "Making The School Year Easier On The Teacher" and in it I share some little things that I have found make life much easier. As you're planning your upcoming homeschooling year, these might be some things you want to try!
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

I Only Wish I Had Something Interesting To Say

The past two days have been a blur of activity for our family, which is the reason it's been pretty quiet over here on the old blog. Even in the midst of all that activity, I have not come up with anything insightful, humorous or even interesting to say about it all. But in the interest of keeping up with my posting on a semi-regular basis, I will try.

Thursday was my daughter's 8th grade graduation. She has only been at that school for one year, so it was not near the emotional experience it was for some. The only time I teared up was when one of the boys that was making a speech looked out at his mom and publicly thanked her for all the things she has done for him over the years-- and then got so choked up he couldn't finish his speech. (I will add that my son made a speech there last year at his eighth grade graduation and my name was not even mentioned. But I'm not bitter.) There was not a dry eye in the house! Most all the moms were crying. Why? Because we were witnessing a child rising up and calling his mom blessed-- the reason we all run this race every day. For every day that boy took what she had to offer and seemed not to notice, I imagine it all melted away in that moment. Not that we do it to be thanked, but what a gift that was-- not just for his mom but for every mom in the room who needed that dose of hope that they do notice.

At the end of the graduation, they played the country song, "You're Gonna Miss This." And while the song was touching and definitely true, I had to disagree with them playing that song for a middle school graduation. Because there are a lot of things in life that I look back and miss and realize I didn't appreciate at the time. But middle school was not one of them. Not even a little bit. Middle school is something, in my opinion, that is to be survived and escaped. Not looked back on with fondness. Your middle school experience may have been all wonderful and fun. But I lay odds on the fact that most of you do not have sweet, happy middle school experiences. Mine involved lots of standing around at dances wishing someone would ask me to dance to All Night Long or Total Eclipse of the Heart, worrying about zits, dealing with catty girls, trying to figure out how to act older than I felt, and never seeming to have the right clothes.

Nope. Not an ounce of missing that in my whole body. Now high school... that was a different story.

Moving on.

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year-- the annual used curriculum sale in the park. There is no charge to sell at this thing, so people come from everywhere to lay their books out on a blanket and see what happens. I have sold there for several years, but this year I just went to scoop up some deals. I found a few good deals and, though it was seriously about 100 degrees outside, it was a fun way to spend a morning. Of course, it would have helped if I had not had two children following my every step whining about how hot it was, how thirsty they were, and how much they wanted to go home. (I paid my 13 yo to watch the 2yo so she wasn't with me.) But we made it and I rewarded them with lunch at Subway. We cooled off in the air conditioned restaurant and had a nice time, just the three of us-- a rare treat.

The rest of our life right now is taken up with swim practices, swim meets and rehearsals for the play my son is going to be in starting next weekend. If you live in the Charlotte area, be sure to check out Footloose at Matthews Playhouse. The first weekend it opens they are offering buy one/get one free tickets. So take your kids or your hubby and reminisce about the greatest decade ever-- the 80's!! (And yes, I was in middle school in the 80's, so see? It wasn't all bad. At least the music was good.) I know I plan to see the play several times. It would be embarrassing for me to admit how many times I have seen that movie. Like, totally.
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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Garden Goodness

"Our" garden

These flowers were just too pretty not to get a photo in front of them!

She loves the hammock swing

Here's where the kids spend their time on "weeding Wednesdays"

playing with friends


playing with the chickens, bunnies and other critters

And here's where the moms spend their time-- actually weeding

Moms hard at work in the hot sun

Celebrating the first fruit of our labor-- a radish! This was a definite Kodak moment!

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Giveaway Time!

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a huge fan of the David Crowder Band. But I'll bet you didn't know that it was my husband who introduced me to his music. Why is this significant? Well, because usually our tastes differ where music is concerned. He likes really slow, acoustic songs typically. I like faster songs that are more lively. So, when I found some David Crowder on his Ipod, I was pleasantly surprised. I went to Itunes and downloaded a bunch of his songs.

When his new cd came out, I didn't think there was any way that I would like it as much as I liked his other stuff. I just didn't think he could top it. Well, he did. This new cd is solid, through and through. There is not one song that is bad or not worth listening to. My favorites are Never Let Go, Everything Glorious, and Neverending. One thing I love about DCB is that he takes old hymns and includes them in his music. On this cd he includes O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing.

And so, in honor of Father's Day-- because my husband introduced me to DCB-- I am going to be doing a giveaway of Remedy, his new cd. You could give one to your husband for Father's Day if you win! To hear some of these songs, just go to this link. Or this one. Or this one. And finally this one, which is a fun one!

Leave me a comment to win. Can't wait to see who wins!
Ok, and just to make it fun, you can enter multiple times-- but keep it within reason!

ETA: The contest is now closed. Rebecca over at Fearfully and Wonderfully Made is the winner. I asked my esteemed scientific panel (my kids) to choose a number between 0 and 30. My daughter (who shares a name with Rebecca), snuggled up beside me to see who she had picked. As soon as she saw her name on the list she screamed, "Oooooh, I want Rebecca to win! Rebecca! She's the winner!" Who can argue with conviction like that? So, Rebecca, it pays to have the right name sometimes. Enjoy the great cd-- and if you didn't win-- pick up a copy. It's great to listen to!
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Photos From Our Weekend

We got down to Florida on Thursday afternoon and went out to dinner. Since it was my birthday, they sang happy birthday to me and surprised me with a mint chocolate crepe which was delicious! On Friday, we went out to lunch with my parents, then had the afternoon to hang out for a bit before we had to leave for the graduation. After the graduation, it was time to party! We headed to a huge yacht and embarked on a three hour cruise. And yes, I did find myself humming the theme to Gilligan's Island: "a three hour tour." Thankfully, we did not get shipwrecked, but made it safely back to Tampa Bay. The next day all the guys played golf while my mom, daughter and I went shopping a bit and had lunch. Then it was time to get ready for the next party-- a huge shindig at my stepsister's house. We got up and left bright and early Sunday morning. Below are some highlights of our weekend:
The view from the deck of the yacht. It was gorgeous-- a perfect evening.

Three cousins on the yacht-- my son, my nephew and my daughter

My niece and I. She is a very special girl, as she was born the day Curt and I met! We have always had a special place for her in our hearts since then.

Sybil (Chuck's mom) and I share a birthday (May 29th)-- so we celebrated with a beautiful cake on the yacht. Everyone sang happy birthday to us-- fun!

Cousins-- my daughter and my niece

My niece is a huge fan of all things Pirates of The Caribbean-- particularly Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow. So, her mom surprised her by hiring his double from Disney to come down to Tampa and make a surprise appearance at her party. I volunteered to be the one to sit across from her and catch her face when she saw him. These photos perfectly capture how surprised she was!

He was totally in character all night as he milled around with the guests and posed for photos with everyone. Here he is talking to her-- she still can not get over that he is there!

Here he is with my son and daughter. They thought he was so cool. He was the hit of the party!

Here he is with our "hosts" for the evening, my stepsister, Becky and her husband, Chuck.
This was a weekend my kids and I will never forget. Though it took awhile to get over the traveling/driving part of it, it was worth it to get to be a part of my niece's special weekend. Thanks to Becky and Chuck for throwing a couple of great parties and for including us in your plans! We had a blast!

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What I'm Doing

I am trying to wrap my brain around the whole Twitter thing. Do I really want to add that element to my life? Would it stress me out? Do I really want to think that much about letting people know what I am constantly up to? And furthermore, why would anyone really care???

So, just as a test run, here is what I am doing today:

Going through a proposal that my agent gently critiqued for me last night and seeing what I need to do to get it ready for She Speaks.

Going through and making final edits on our book-- that's right folks, it's mostly finished! (You can bet I will post when it's done and actually sent.)

Going to the garden with the kiddos to do our weekly weeding, and taking the camera this time.

Making a simple dinner of rotisserie chicken I picked up at the grocery, the fiesta rice I posted about last week, and steamed broccoli.

Trying to finish an article I need to write for The Old Schoolhouse. Note to self: never take freelance work that has a deadline right around when you have a book due and a huge conference coming up!

Hopefully writing a blog post about the giveaway I am doing and posting the photos from our weekend in FL.

Folding laundry, sorting a huge pile of papers that reproduced while I was in FL, making a few phone calls about plans for the kids next year, and maybe getting a shower.

ETA: A mid-afternoon update:
I did get not one, but two, showers! I had to after the garden-- I was filthy! We spent 2.5 hours at the garden, which ate up most of our day-- but boy did we have fun-- I hope to post pictures later of my younger two at the garden.

I did correspond with the the interviewee for my article for TOS. I wrote the two blog posts I wanted to get done and had an unexpected conversation with an old friend who called to tell me she had visited my church. I folded the laundry and the kids put it away. Dinner has turned into hot dogs which my daughter will make while I am at an orthodontist appointment I forgot all about for my son this afternoon. Thank goodness he reminded me in plenty of time to get there! So, there was no way I was going to get dinner made for them to eat in time for swim practice. So, hot dogs it is. Nutritious!

I did not sort the papers or get any ironing done, which I had hoped to do. I also remembered that I have to have a breakfast casserole baked by tomorrow morning for my daughter's special 8th grade graduation breakfast. Which means a trip to the grocery sometime this evening to get all the ingredients and a late night assembly! I begged my poor unsuspecting husband to fry the sausage-- one of my least favorite things to do.

Why oh why wasn't I one of the people who got assigned a box of donuts I ask you??

I did not work on the edits for the book or the proposals I am supposed to be preparing. And don't even talk to me about the talk I am supposed to be getting ready for She Speaks or the devotions I owe P31 by mid June!

All in all, just another normal day of chaos!
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An Antidote For Anger

I have discovered an antidote for anger recently-- quite by accident, I will admit. (You can probably guess how I discovered it after you read my idea.)

Here's what you do:

Write an email to the person who hurt you. Get all your feelings for them out. Tell them exactly what you think and how you feel. Tell them everything. Don't hold back.

Then put the email in your "to be sent" file. (DO NOT make the mistake of sending it-- and if you do that by accident, well, it is not my fault-- so don't send me angry emails about it!!)

Then get up, walk away, and go on with your life. You can have that sense of "Humph, I told her (or him)!" Even though technically, you never did.

Finally, wait a few days or a few weeks, then go back and read what you wrote. Be glad you didn't send it. Be glad that you didn't say those angry words that were in your heart to say. Press "Discard draft" and then get up and walk away, going on with your life, this time with a spring in your step. Praise God that you didn't tell him or her off. Praise God that, because of His unfailing love for us, we can learn to forgive each other, extending the grace that we so desperately need for ourselves.
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Monday, June 02, 2008


If you are standing near me when my cell phone rings now, this is what you hear. My daughter knows it is my all-time favorite song ever, so she surprised me by downloading it for me while we were on the road. When my cell phone goes off, people look at me kind of strange and I just smile back at them, all the while thinking:

Hey, if the shoe fits...
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Home Again

I am home from our whirlwind trip to Tampa, safe and sound. Twenty hours of driving (all total) can take its toll on a person so I am still in recovery mode. Instead of posting this afternoon, I opted for a nap. In a few minutes, I am going back to bed just to try to catch up on my sleep. Several late nights combined with all the travel has me in a fog.

But I shall return very soon with photos of our trip, and stories too. And later this week I have a cd to give away as a Father's Day gift. And I plan to post a bit about the curriculum I have selected for next year. And I also hope to post a list of the books I am trying to read this summer-- a collection of nonfiction and fiction, Christian and secular titles that I have either bought or put on hold at the library.

So, in other words, keep checking back. I'll see you back here very soon! Just as soon as I get some sleep, that is...
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