Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Never leave your partner behind, especially in a fire

My husband is always on the lookout for what's new and what's next. He's never been one to dwell in the past or celebrate the history of anything too much. He's always looking ahead. He has a spirit of adventure that keeps him on a quest for the next new thing. He's always looking for fun.

If he were a rich man with lots of free time there would be no stopping him. However, since his money and time are in limited supply, it really makes both of us a little giddy when he comes across something for free.

Last night we got to reap the benefits of his adventurous pursuits. We were able to see a preview screening of the movie Fireproof. For free. (Yay!) The movie will not be in theatres until Sept. 26.

Fireproof is made by the same people who made the movies Flywheel and Facing the Giants. If you don't know about those movies, they were made by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Incredible. Each of the three movies that they have produced is better than the one before. They just keep getting better and better.

The story in Fireproof is current. The setting is a situation that could be, and most likely is, happening in any one of our homes right now. It's about relationships. And how Jesus makes the difference.

Just go see it. You need to see it. Mark your calendar for Sept. 26.

Take your husband, your wife, your mom and dad. You'll be glad you did.


But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen Jude 1:20-25

Friday, July 25, 2008

You're not going out in THAT, are you?

We loved the Sears and JCPenney catalogs when we were little girls. We enjoyed the colorful pages all year long, not just at Christmas when the Wish Book came out.

My sister and I would play the game of “if you could pick only one item on this page, which one thing would it be.” We would take turns picking first because, of course, you couldn’t pick an item if the other one had already chosen it. We then would turn to the next double page spread and start over, all the way through the clothes, shoes, and jewelry sections.

I don’t remember that our mother ever actually ordered any apparel for us from those catalogs. The only time I ever remember getting something that came in the mail wrapped in plastic was a dress my Grandmama Martin ordered for me. I was in the second or third grade. It was a made of heavy, thick, synthetic fabric. It was gold with brown and rust colored trim. I wore it to have my school picture made that year. I was so proud of that mail-order dress.

Most of the other clothes my sisters and I wore, our mother made on her sewing machine. She made a lot of short sets, pant suits, and dresses for us to wear to school. And if ever there was a special occasion, it most definitely called for a dress handmade with that extra touch of love. We spent almost as much time looking at Butterick pattern books as we did the department store catalogs.

My two sisters and I still like to study fashion catalogs as if we’re preparing for the bar exam. We thumb slowly through the same 25 pages over and over again, memorizing colors and styles, turning down page corners, creating wish lists, and circling potential purchases.

But somewhere along the way, it all got lost in translation for me.

I have not been able to make the transition to shopping in real life.

The recent shopping trip with my sisters has confirmed that for me. If I ever had any fashion sense, I realize now that it has been lying dormant somewhere in the back of my closet full of clothes I never should have bought in the first place.

I do not own a single pair of capri pants. This is partly because I do not like to wear shoes without some kind of sock/hose. My feet get cold very easily without socks, and when they do I am miserable. The other reason I don’t own a pair of capris is because they do not look good on EVERY body type. Ahem.

I own only one sleeveless top. It is a white tank top that I wear underneath things, never by itself.

I have issues with flip flops. Flop rhymes with slop, and that’s what they make me think. Sloppy. And there’s that annoying slapping noise when you walk. I do own one pair. I bought them after some coaxing from my husband that I needed a “treat” (his word for something you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself). They are metallic and beaded, so they are not quite so sloppy, but they still slap. They are fun, but I don’t wear them that much.

And, I don’t see anything wrong with pantyhose. Except that no one else is wearing them.

See. I AM a fashion weirdo.

I know that the last 10 years living an hour away from a mall, and four hours away from a GOOD one has had something to do with it. And then there’s always the budget too. Ugh. Somewhere along the way my fashion confidence got left behind.

But I’m ready for a new do-over challenge, so, last night I took everything, yes everything, out of my closet. I loaded up yes-sir-yes-sir-three-bags-full of “what was I thinking?” shirts, skirts, pants, and shoes.

And of course, all the things that were two sizes too small got tossed as well. No sense keeping those things one minute longer.

The things I put back in my closet were things that have a glimmer of hope. I still have plenty of clothes, but I also have some work to do. I think it has more to do with my attitude - - learning to believe that it is OK to step outside the narrow safety zone. Don’t worry so much about it. Take some risks.

I don’t think I’ll ever make it to the fast lane, but hopefully I will at least find my way into the current traffic/fashion pattern.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:24-25

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Say what?

OK, so I'm still having a hard time getting back into the swing of things since my little mini-vacation to visit my sisters. Usually I can stay pretty focused. That is, if I've got something to focus on. But the past few days I've found that I'd rather think about laughing with my sisters and all my pretty, new clothes. Never mind the pile of work on my desk.

My distraction has also spilled over into my blog time.

Most people update their blogs every day. Imagine that (maybe one day I'll get there!). And, I usually read them every day. In trying to catch up on some of the posts I missed while I was away playing, I read this All Access post.

In my state of distraction, I was intrigued by the picture at the bottom of the post there.

Here it is:

You can click on the image and it will open a larger version so you can get a good look.

It was created at Wordle. Again, being so easily led astray lately, I just had to go there myself and create my own.

I typed the the URL of my blog. It takes the top 150 words in the blog and the more often a word is used, the larger it shows up in the picture. Here's what my blog is saying about me today:

I had no idea I could be summed up like that. Hmmm.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. Ecclesiastes 5: 1-3

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The empowered's new clothes

I am really having a hard time getting back into the swing of things since I returned from my little mini vacation. Yesterday Scott called me at work. He asked how things were going. I think Scott was having difficulty too. His father had just left after a 2 week visit here (he came before I left on my sisters trip, so it was just the two of them here for a while). Scott was trying to get back into his own routine, one that didn't include his father and did include me.

I answered his question by grumping about it being a true Monday and about how much work I had to do. However, I told him I was wearing a brand new outfit so everything was going to be ok.

Y'all. Let me tell you about my new clothes.

Before I do that, let me remind you of two things. One, just in case you didn't know this about me, anything that costs over $25 is considered a major purchase and involves trauma (you can read the details of that idiosyncrasy HERE ). Two, I mentioned in my previous post that my sisters know how to shop. I knew Sister #2 was quite adept, but I really didn't know Sister #1 was so skilled at it too. With both of them together, it was quite an adventure for me. I guess I hadn't realized how much I just don't shop for clothes any more, (all the reasons why are a story for another day).

Anyway, Sister#1 took us to a mall and introduced me (thank you, thank you!) to Christopher & Banks. All the pretty colors drew me in and I spent $100. On clothes. Oh my. I can't remember the last time I did that. But the kicker is, I got three jackets and two pair of pants. That's five items for $100. The way I overcame my major purchase trauma was to average it out in my head - $100 for 5 items made each piece $20. Of course, all 5 pieces were marked down so none of it was regular price. That's under my $25 mental limit. I was on vacation. Whoo hooo.

Wearing my new clothes yesterday made me feel all fresh and new. I felt younger and thinner. I felt smarter. I felt empowered to accomplish more. It helped change my attitude about what I faced that day.

I felt different on the inside because of what I wore on the outside. I don't know if anyone else noticed.

It's made me think about another way I'm covered outwardly and affected inwardly. My heart is changed because my sins have been covered. I hope and pray others notice. Thank you, Jesus.

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

3 Little Pigs and a Birthday Party

I’ve been on a little vacation the last few days.

Last Thursday I traveled one state over and spent one night with my Mom and Dad.

The next day after that, Sister #2 (who lives nearby Mom & Dad) and I drove another state over to Sister #1’s house where we spent 3 nights. The three of us sisters got together to celebrate a milestone birthday for #2. (That makes me Sister #3, and yes, that’s the birth order).

Monday Sister #2 and I drove back to Mom & Dad’s where I spent another night.

I finally made it back to my home yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.

Sister #1 lives in a different time zone. Even though it’s only an hour earlier there, the entire 3 days we were there, I never could figure out what time it was. I realize part of it was simply not using an alarm clock or having to be anywhere at a certain time. That and the one-hour-earlier made me ready for lunch at 10:30 AM. Good thing about it, though, was that it really felt like I was away longer than I really was. Bad thing was, it was REALLY hard to get up and get ready for work this morning!

I didn’t watch one minute of TV the entire time I was gone until the last night at Mom & Dad’s. Not even the news. They were watching the Food Network show that was documenting the making Cheez-Its and I was intrigued by that. I did not miss TV. At all. I also stayed away from the computer, with the exception of downloading the pictures I’d been snapping of our adventure onto my sister’s computer and Mom & Dad’s computer. I DO feel a little bit behind with all the blogs and sites I usually read every day. I’ve got some catching up to do.

My sisters and I are alike in many ways. I think we’re all decision makers who also know the benefits of being submissive and how to balance the two to work in our favor.

We are also different in many ways. Both of my sisters know how and where to shop. I mean SHOP. I have so much to learn!

Sisters #1 and #2 share the same kind of education, training, and vocation. They both have young adult children. And although they currently do not, they have lived in the same town together before. All of those things have bonded the two of them together in a special way.

I followed Sister #2 through school, trying to do pretty much everything she would do. She was and is always pretty good at figuring out what she wanted to do and then actually doing it. I was always more fearful to follow through. Anyway, she’s the kind of person that inspires you to just do it.

Sister #1 and I are the farthest apart in age. Our common ground is being married to a man in ministry. And, it is probably a good thing that we don’t live closer together because we would most likely show up at family gatherings wearing the same outfit because we like the same colors and styles (she’s much better at knowing where to find them!). She seems to have found the key to maintaining true freedom in her life and in all its responsibilities.

Being the third and youngest, I am prone to let them be in charge and make decisions. They’re both pretty smart and very resourceful. I want to be like them when I grow up.

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. Job 42:10-12

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mmm, mmm good

My most favorite comfort food meal is tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. A can of Campbell’s tomato soup is the best. As for the grilled cheese, I like to spread mustard on both inside pieces of the bread so it touches the Kraft cheese slice. Put the bread pieces together, spray the warm skillet with Pam, and keep flipping the sandwich until the cheese is gooey and the bread has crispy edges.

Serve it with a side of Goldfish crackers and Publix dill pickles (they are the BEST). Mmmmm. The whole meal is just not the same without the mustard on the sandwich. Without the mustard, it is missing its little kick.

I learned something about mustard this week.

Last Sunday afternoon the ringing phone woke us from our nap on the couch. We woke up but didn’t get up, turned on the TV and began the channel surf.

We stopped on a broadcast of a well known TV preacher. He said something that Scott and I both agreed we had never thought of in such a way before.

We missed the first part of the sermon so I think the main focus on his sermon was about something else, but in the process of presenting his message he mentioned the scriptures about faith and mustard seeds. He said most of the sermons he has heard others preach on it usually miss the mark on this one.

He said they miss it because the emphasis wrongly placed on the size or amount of one’s faith.
He said, however, that the scripture is not about the size of your faith. It’ not how much faith you have. Having more faith is not going to make you more likely to move a mountain.

It’s more about the power and potency of the little faith that you do have.

He went on to say how one tiny mustard seed would change the flavor of anything it was mixed with. What your faith is in and where it comes from - that’s the real power.

I think he’s right.

That’s one scripture I’ll always think differently about now. And, one I’ll always remember every time I eat a grilled cheese sandwich.

Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches." Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." Luke 13:18-21

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

OK, OK, I’m listening now!

For several months now I’ve been grieving and agonizing over a certain cluster of related painful circumstances and situations. The reason it has been so heartbreaking for me is because I have no earthly idea what to do to help the situation or any of the people involved.

So, for a while now I’ve been praying for a miracle. A specific one, sort of. Specific not in the WHAT or the HOW, but specific in WHO the miracle will touch. And I include myself in the WHO. I have figured out that if I want to ask God to change someone else’s life, I need to be willing to include myself in that request too.

Well, God’s been speaking to me in the last 24 hours. He’s been using the voices of men and women who live around me.

How do I know it came from God?

Because they all said the same thing.

Before Sunday School yesterday, my friend Pat and I shared a personal conversation about something that is near and dear to both of us. Her last words as she walked away were, “I’m praying for a miracle.”

I walked on to my class where Colleen came in and sat next to me. I don’t know her very well, but what I do know is that we have a few very important things in common even though our lives are very different. We had a brief heart-felt conversation that ended with her saying she too was praying for a miracle. Hmmmm.

Later when Scott and I went out for lunch we ran into John who said he had been wanting to talk to us about something important to him. After we spent 45 minutes or so listening and sharing, can you guess? He’s praying for a miracle too.

A senior adult grandmother, a young adult mother, and a middle aged father. Three different situations and perspectives. That day, one common denominator in all of those lives was me.

It’s not my definitive answer for a miracle yet, but I think it wildly affirms that the Holy Spirit is working all around me. It sounds like He agrees about the need for a miracle around here. His answer is Yes.

Scary part is, as one common denominator, what does that mean for me? How does He want me involved? What will I have to do? What will it cost me? Those aren’t really yes or no questions.

Still, my answer will be Yes.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Thursday, July 3, 2008

IS there a balm??

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the effort it takes just to maintain myself.

Right now it is my skin that’s getting under my skin.

I have very dry skin. The intensity of the dryness depends on the seasonal weather and the location of the skin on my body.

My feet are embarrassingly scaly and therefore require a major moisturizer. As a cold-natured person, I don’t wear sandals much because if any part of my body gets cold first, it’s my feet and if my feet get cold then EVERYTHING is cold. Plus, I have a hang-up about flip-flops (another topic for another day). Because it’s the middle of summer and people stare when you wear wool socks and combat boots, I will sometimes expose my toes, but only when the sun is shining.

Anyway, it takes a heavy duty moisturizer to get my feet anywhere close to being presentable for public viewing. Trouble is, the lotion I use on my feet is really too heavy duty for any other body part, except maybe my elbows.

I have the fair, freckly skin of a redhead. That includes my legs which can be scaly and starkly scary if seen in the light of day without sunshades. I have found a moisturizer that helps with the scaly flakes and also touts the added benefits of providing a gentle, natural glow if used over time. It does kind of take the scary out of my whiteness without looking like too much of a fake tan.

However, I can’t use that moisturizer on my feet or else the crusty edges of my heels and toes look like I’ve been walking on Cheetos or some other orange powdery cheese snack because the 'natural glow' cakes up in the creases and crevasses.

So, I’m just up to my thighs and it already takes two different lotions.

My face is no exception to the dry skin and it needs tending at least twice a day. This is a tricky spot because if the moisturizer I use on my face doesn’t have just the right balance, my skin breaks out even though my skin is dry. The ‘natural glow’ leg lotion doesn’t work here either because it really highlights and darkens the freckles and those other lovely brown spots some people call age spots. And truly, I need a different moisturizing strength at night than I do in the morning. Welcome lotion bottles number three and four.

And my eyes. More accurately, under my eyes. I have those fine lines under and around my eyes that all those commercials talk about. There are lots of serums out there to help, but they usually cost over $20 so I also have to deal with the trauma of a making major purchase, which causes more wrinkles. Lotion number five.

And my hands. I have to have some kind of lotion with me at all times for my hands. Bottles number six (on my desk at work) and seven (in my purse).

And we won’t even talk about my neck.

Or any other epidermic surface.

Except my dry, cracked lips. I keep a tube of ChapStick in my purse, one in my desk drawer at work, one in my car, one in my husband’s car, and several tubes in my bathroom vanity drawer. I don’t go anywhere without it. My favorite flavor is the vanilla mint, but peppermint and the medicated version are good too.

Which brings up another issue….all the different scents for all these lotions.

So, my skin is itchy and dry and I’m covered from head to toe in some kind of gooey lotion or another and I smell like a vanilla mint grapefruit eucalyptus petroleum plant.

Some days it is just too much to deal with.

Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed. Jeremiah 51:8