Friday, November 30, 2012

Being a resounding gong

Number 910

Blogging is hard.

Now some of you are thinking, "Duh!" And others are thinking, "You're kidding right?"

Let me expand on that statement to let you know just exactly what I mean.

Earlier this week, I wrote about bloggers who have made a real difference in my life. That is amazing! They have words that they share and it makes a difference in the way I live my life. That is my goal in blogging. However sometimes I forget that is my goal.

I want more readers, more page views, and more comments. I look back at the posts that have been the most popular and they tend to be when I have said something controversial. I have strong opinions about a lot of things, but I don't normally share them on here because I don't think sharing them on here is going to encourage people to be different. I think it will just make them mad or alternatively make them say, "She's right." and move on. But those get me high page views, so maybe I could share an opinion or two to get people reading. Then people could follow me and I could influence more people become a famous blogger. And when I'm a famous blogger, I'll.....

So you see the train of thought breaks down there. Why would I want to be a famous blogger? To what end? I don't plan on quitting my job to be a full time blogger. So why do I want to be famous? Honestly, to be acclaimed by people. I want people to be amazed at the awesome things I say and not just one or two, but like hundreds.

Where is God in those dreams? Where is God's plan for my blog and my words? If I'm seeking acclaim and numbers, where is the heart of a person?


So I need to focus not on numbers and acclaim, but on heart and truth. When I tell the truth that God has taught me, then I have the possibility of sharing that truth with someone else and their life might be changed. That is what I really want. That is what makes my heart soar and my spirit sing.

In the end, controversial opinions aren't real. They don't last and they don't change anything. If I'm not changing anything, why am I blogging? To be a resounding gong and that is rather useless.  I want to be useful and share my struggles and my victories, so that others can see this Christian life isn't easy, but we can do it.

However, I am at an impasse. How do I share my real struggles with co-workers or family and not hurt the people involved. So much of what I want to share is my internal struggle before I am ready to talk to the person. So many of my thoughts are selfish and self-involved. I have to get over myself before I would confront someone about an issue I have. That getting over myself could be and helpful to others, but not at the expense of a relationship in my life. How do I share deep seated heart issues that involve other people, but avoid hurting them?

I don't know. I could create a private blog and just invite certain people, but then it would seem like I was talking about people and how would I know who would benefit from what I have to say when people couldn't discover it. So I don't think there is a way to do that. So I don't blog about that. I want to blog about it and share it with people to encourage them that some struggles aren't easy and don't have a nice easy conclusion. But those struggles aren't made easier by hurting others. So I don't share that. I search for real stories of personal success or failure that are just mine and can be used for encouragement or caution.

Thanks for being with me on this journey.

Do you have a blog? What do you struggle with?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

3 Encouraging Ladies and 1 Funny Man

The other day when I was standing in the kitchen making breakfast and I was thinking about some friends of mine. I was thinking about how thankful I am for them. So I thought I would put that on here.

Thanks to Michelle for pushing me. You are my NaNoWriMo hero and you always know what to say to convince me to keep working. I have only finished one novel in my life. I started it at like 14 and finished it at like 30. You have finished one for NaNoWriMo for more years than I remember. I find that amazing and inspiring. Thank you for pushing me to believe in myself.

Thanks to Julie for keeping me working out. You are so encouraging without being demanding. You are honest and therefore making the whole process of working out regularly less intimidating. When I am up at 6 am to work out, I think Julie is up doing this too. Thank you for pushing me past my resistance.

Thanks to Judy for keeping me eating better. I find myself choosing better foods. I find myself eating less because I don't want all the extra. I find myself looking at the ingredient lists more often. You are informative, but not realistic. You don't demand a diet overhaul immediately in order to be a 'good' person. You just share what you know and encourage. Thank you for making me look harder to choose better.

Thanks to Bryan Allain for writing a funny book. I got a copy of his book for an honest review.

This is my honest review.

I must say that when I read books I rarely laugh out loud. I might sigh or harrumph, but not laugh. This one made me laugh out loud several times because it is that funny. You will want to go back and read it more than once because there is so much humor you just can't take it in all at once.

Although it won't teach you where the sayings come from, it will help you understand a little more about how difficult the English language can be for some people. As a foreign language teacher, I get tired of hearing that English is an easy language. An example from this book can show my students that is not true and provide a little humor. I am not advocating this as a book to teach children. It is simply a good example of why many English phrases can not be taken literally and how funny it is when they are taken literally.

If you are looking for something funny to read, buy this and read it.
If you are looking for something funny to read about the English language, buy this and read it several times.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Patience is a virtue

Busy! Photo Credit: Nick J. Webb

Let me start by saying somewhere in my head there is a wonderful post. However, I have written 8000 words this weekend for NaNoWriMo, so making this a wonderful post probably won't happen. Sorry.

Last week I had to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a thing or two. Not for Thanksgiving, just for dinner and the dog, regular living stuff. Most normal people avoid Wal-Mart like the plague this time of year. This was last Monday before Thanksgiving. I figured it would be okay. I was wrong. There were people everywhere!

Some were impatient. Some were determined. A few were patient. Normally, I am one of the focused ones. I don't notice other people enough and probably come off as kind of rude.  Somehow when I walked it a strange feeling came over me. I was patient. I was not in any hurry. I looked out for others a little.

For instance, there was one aisle I had to go down. What I needed was in the middle of the aisle. I even walked down an aisle I didn't need to get to the other side and try from that end. It was a little better on that end. So I entered the aisle and slowly made my way to what I needed. As I neared an open area, the lady right on my tail zoomed around me. Knowing she was in a hurry, I went slower and let her around me. No hard feelings or bad thoughts. She went on and I got what I needed. As I exited the aisle, I walked by a cart with a couple young guys. One guy had just put his coat on the side of the cart and it fell to the ground. I stopped in my heels and my dress and picked it up and put it back in the cart. They were so genuinely thankful.

Of course, I was just repaying the favor. Earlier I was in another aisle and needing something. They were standing in the way. They saw my need and politely excused themselves. That may not seem like much, but in a busy Wal-Mart it is a big deal.

Also as I was checking out, there was a gentleman that was looking for a line. He only had two items. I was going to let him in front of me, but I was a couple people back in line. In the line next to me, another gentleman let him go in front. When I did get to the front, I chatted politely with the cashier. Not just the regular chat because you have to, but actual human to human chatting.

Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference. A little bit of patience allowed me to see some needs around me that I don't normally see. I was able to react in a more Christlike way because I was willing to put myself aside and let Christ work through me.

Maybe I should be patient more often.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 11-24

Not many articles this week. I have been working hard on my NaNoWriMo novel. So I have not been reading closely. I do have a few good things, so enjoy them. (And since there are fewer, I don't see any reason you shouldn't go read them all!)

Red Letter Believers - What to do When You Feel like You Are in a Losing Battle - Do you think that your identity is being sucked away by the culture? Do you hurt for a world that is set up to fail, and you don't see any answers? Then read on...

Estonia is an country in the Baltic region that for much of it's history has actually been part of someone else. The list of occupiers is a long one, as they were pawns in power struggles between Vikings, Swedes, Normans, Germanics, and a host of others. 
The Church of No People - Post Culture War America  - If you ask me, (and I don’t know if you are), we have been tricked into dying on a lot of hills that just don’t matter.  We are fighting, battling, bloodying each other on issues that are tertiary.  A hill always seems big when you are standing on it.  But not when you see it from a birds-eye view.
Prohibition looked like a big enough hill to die on in the 20s.  That turned out to be a disaster.  (And it proves my second point.  If people want something, they will get it.)
Take any sacred cow you want in the culture war.  It is probably an idol that is just a distraction.  And that goes for the biggest sacred cows. You know the one I’m talking about (I’ll let you guess.)
A Deeper Family - Crying in our Mashed Potatoes  - I see you there. And God sees you, too. And there are many chapters to your story like there are many chapters in mine. But I want to say that it’s okay if this week, you cry into the mashed potatoes. You won’t be the only one.

The Sound of Hope - Our Kids in India Need Your Help  - In case you missed it, we posted a new fundraiser last weekChristmas is coming in India, but WINTER is already there! With each passing day, the temperatures continue to drop. We have 86 little boys and girls who desperately need blankets and winter clothes to make it through the cold weather. And we need YOUR help to get them all "sponsored" for Christmas!

No SuperHeroes - Community Development  - An illustration of this is in Deuteronomy 20:!9-20. God tells them that when they attack a city, not to cut down the fruit trees! Why? Does God really care that much about fruit trees? He is helping them plan for the future. It would be easier to go straight in and take the city, but by keeping the food source it helps them with city planning in the future! If these fruit trees remain they will serve them for many years.

Life as Experienced - You Can Stop Being Thankful on Friday  - But then Friday we celebrate the holiday of dissatisfaction.  We stand in line for hours to get a new bigger tv, or to buy our kids even more stuff.  The turkey hangover turns into a coffee buzz as thankfulness takes a backseat to materialism.

Friday, November 23, 2012

NaNoWriMo Friday

I had some thoughts to share about being thankful, but I'm really getting into my novel. (Yeah, I totally just said novel!) So I'm going to keep writing about Miss Emily and where she is going.

So as not to waste this post, I thought I would share a little bit of what I have written tonight.

The Healing of Emily Jones

            She had been working as the second shift custodian for a week. She didn’t have to come in until 1, but she always came in an hour early. She could find a quiet spot and read or journal. It gave her a sense of accomplishment and peace to have a quiet and solitary routine. Some people walked in and out of the break room to get something from the vending machine or to use the copier. It was never the same person twice and most didn’t even say anything to her. That is until David walked in. She had been in her routine for a couple months and only been home from Chicago for three and half months. She put her back to the door in an effort to keep people away form her. Some days she brought in her headphones just to ensure that the rest of the world would be drown out for that hour.
That fateful day in March she had forgotten her headphones at home and the window blinds were open in the break room. She tried her normal spot, but the sun was in her face and it was distracting. She moved to the other side of the table and continued reading. She heard the door open and didn’t look up. She continued reading her novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. She heard the coins drop into the machine. She heard the click of the buttons. She heard the food drop to the floor of the vending machine. She expected to hear the door open. She tried not to notice the silence in the room. She began to get nervous. She tried to keep reading her book, but the words were swimming. She couldn’t focus. She didn’t want to look up. She told herself no matter what to keep staring at the page. As the silence extended, she was screaming inside her head. She was begging herself not to look up. Whoever it is will go. Don’t look at them. They are just looking for something else in the machine. They might be looking for exact change. You don’t need to know who it is. It is better for you to not know. Despite all the excuses and assurances, she looked up. She looked into beautiful amber colored eyes. The heavy lashes only accentuated the unique color she found. The man was well dressed in a corporate suit. The gray suit somehow accentuated his beautiful black hair. It was perfectly coifed into a business pompadour. The cut was just long enough to be stylish and short enough to be acceptable for business. She wanted to look away, but he spoke. His deep velvety voice with only a hint of a southern drawl spoke to her. There was no looking away after that. In fact, she hasn’t looked away from him since that day.
“What are you reading?” He asked simply.
She struggled for breath. Words seemed impossible. Her heart was beginning to flutter and her brain was failing for the strings to tie it back down. She knew she should have spoken by now. She knew it was becoming awkward, but the words weren’t at the surface yet. She expected him to say something, to ask again, or to excuse himself. Still nothing. He waited. He waited for her to find the words. He didn’t wait impatiently. He waited as someone who has no other place to go. He waited as a friend would for the words to come. He waited for her. Her brain won the battle and tied her heart back down.
The Count of Monte Cristo. He faced many hardships in life, but he still found a way to live. I admire that.” Maybe if you sound like you have a hard life, he’ll go away. No one wants to hear someone else’s problems.
He looked at her for a few moments and she started to believe she had succeeded in scaring him off. “Hardships can define us, but they don’t have to confine us.”
Crap. Act like you have nothing else to contribute. “I suppose that is true.”
“Is it true in your life?” He asked sitting in front of her gazing into her eyes.
Who is this man? He hasn’t looked anywhere, but my eyes. Why isn’t he looking me over? Now what do I say. Lie. Don’t tell him who you really are. “Yes. I don’t let anything confine me. Past disappointments are just that, past. No need to keep focusing on them.”
“You have had disappointments though.” He said with an eerie assurance.
Why is he still talking? He doesn’t know me! Don’t let him see you sweat or get angry. He’ll want to apologize and make it better. Act detached. You don’t care about him or his opinions. “We all do. I’m no different.”
“That my Scandinavian beauty is a lie.” What the hell is he talking about? “You are very different. There are not many women that would come into their minimum wage job an hour early to read The Count of Monte Cristo. That makes you decidedly different in every way that matters.”
Now what? I need to know what that means. I need to know what he thinks. You don’t need to know anything about him. You needed to know plenty about other people and that didn’t turn out so well. Don’t give in. Stay strong and stay distant. “It’s just a quiet space.”
“Quiet spaces are not always so popular. Many women I know wouldn’t be interested in quiet or in canonical literature.”
“I suppose you don’t know me that well.” Ah crap! You’re inviting him to get to know you. This is not what we talked about.
“No I don’t and that is currently disappointing me. I’d like to do something about that.” See I told you so! “Can I meet you back here tomorrow and talk some more?” What? He asked what? Uh. I’m out of ideas now.
“Um. I suppose so. Won’t you get in trouble missing work?”
“Some more differences.” He said smiling. “No. I’ll take my lunch break later. You don’t mind me interrupting your reading time? I would hate to disrupt a beautiful mind at work.”
Don’t react. Don’t blush. Don’t look at him like that. Despite her best efforts, she did blush and she did look at him with a look of wonder and delight. “I think talking to you would be nice.”
“Wonderful. I will see you tomorrow at this time. Emily.” As he spoke her voice, all reason was lost again. Her heart soared as her brain scrambled to reach for the strings. Her words were lost and the screaming was blocked out.
How does he know your name? Ask him! Don’t let him get away with that! Ask him! Call him on it! You don’t even know his name! Why are you letting him get away with this? Ask him damn it! She shook her head ever so slightly. “Um. How do you know so much about me, Mr…?”
“Mr. Jones. David Jones, assistant director of Human Resources.” He reached across the table to shake her hand. His polite response went virtually unnoticed as she shook his hand. His smooth skin and long fingers had her heart in the clouds and the strings out of reach for her brain. She had nothing left to protect her, but the voice of the walls inside her. “I was just reviewing your file today to finalize the tax paperwork.”
Don’t say anything. Just look satisfied with the explanation. Don’t look like you are falling in love with him. Just look like you want to get back to your book. Don’t say anything. She didn’t say anything. She just sighed. Not that either!! Look like you are in control! She gazed back down at her book.
            “I will see you tomorrow, Emily. In the meantime enjoy your novel. It is a good one.” He said knowingly.
             She said nothing. She looked back down at her novel and began to read again. Hallelujah! He is leaving and we have made no commitments. We made it through today.

Creative Commons License
The Healing of Emily Jones by Andrea Ward is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Things for which I am thankful






1.  I am thankful for a mother in law who helps me keep my yard looking decent, not to mention how often she keeps Ben!
2. I am so thankful that we could make a home made costume for Halloween.
3. I am thankful for my tattoo because it reminds me to live a better story and tell a better story.
4. I am thankful for my coffee maker that delivers me fantastic coffee that is also fair trade.
5. I am thankful that my professional shoes are cute and I can wear them all day and be on my feet most of that time. They are pretty amazing.
6.  I am thankful that I have won several books from several blogs over the last year or so. I am so blessed by these books and these bloggers.
7. I am thankful for this book that my husband got me for Mother's Day. He knows what will make me happy AND he picks some of the best books. This one has pieces that I am thinking about months later.
8. I am thankful for brightly colored flowers in my hair. They add something special to it without a lot of effort on my part.
9. I am thankful for my Miir water bottle and REBBL drink. They help the world and give me good healthy things to drink.
10. I am thankful that the first fundraiser Ben has is for Butter Braids. They are good, so I don't have an issue trying to sell them.
11. I am thankful for my new textbook. I love them and my students are really learning to read in a second language.
12. I am thankful for the pretty little things I can put in my purse to organize it.
13. I am thankful for my Live FasionABLE scarf because it is pretty, it helps people, it is stylish, and it keeps me warm.
14. I am thankful for letters form my sponsor children. I love that they share their lives and concerns with me. They are very special girls.
15. I am thankful for my Kindle that makes it easier for me to go run on the treadmill in the mornings.
16. I am thankful for broken cakes because they remind me that looking perfect isn't what it is all about.
17. I am thankful for food coloring that made Ben interested in using the potty.
18. I am thankful for finger paints that allow me to see my child be creative and spend time with him.
19. I am thankful for my new car that I love.
20. I am thankful for this cute/funny picture of Ben.
21. I am thankful for my treadmill that allows me to work out every morning and still keep up with my reading.
22. I am thankful for the random cell phone photos and videos that Ben takes because it gives me a little bit of insight into his world.

I am also very thankful for you my faithful readers. I hope that my stories and posts can help you in some way. Have a very happy Thanksgiving! Be safe and love well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Family Teams

White ducks Photo Credit: Citrus.Sunshine

Last Friday, I mentioned that we have decided on family baseball teams, Cardinals and Yankees. Maybe to some who read my blog that seems like a small issue. In my family, it's actually a pretty huge issue. Before Ben was born, we decided that Ben would be a Cardinals fan and Drew got all the other sports. However, Ben now has a Mets story book and a Mr. Met doll. So if someone were to ask him, "Mets or Cardinals?" He says Mets. I was pretty upset about that. So last Sunday, Drew said we could compromise. Yankees and Cardinals. I happily agreed. Drew redecorated the living room to reflect our new teams. Ben was still carrying around his Mr. Met doll, but he was also carrying a Yankees Snoopy and a Fredbird doll.

Finally we seemed to be coming together.

Then on Saturday, Drew was on the computer and made a face about something. After a little prodding, he said that some of his friends who were Mets fans were disappointed that he was a Yankees and Cardinals fan. Something you may not know about my husband is the amount of time he spends online talking and reading about his teams. He is pretty much an expert about his teams, what is going on with them, and what will go on with them. He is a huge contributing member of the online presence for his teams. So by switching teams that leaves a gaping hole in the community. So they were understandably disappointed. And that bothered me.

But probably not for the reason that you are thinking.

I don't ever want him to give up who he is for me. I know how important sports teams are to him and who he is. So we chatted and came to a new compromise. The Cardinals have to be on his radar and he has to help me support them with Ben. As long as the Cardinals are on Ben's radar, then I will be happy. I told him that I would help him support the Jets, Rangers, and Knicks with Ben to make sure those teams are on Ben's radar. And even though those are our family teams, there is no reason that our personal teams need to change.

So I can be a Cardinals, Blues, and Rams fan. He can be a Mets, Jets, Rangers, and Knicks fan. He will still follow the Chicago teams. And as a family we will follow the Yankees because there are some very good friends who are Yankees fans. That will provide us with fellowship opportunities with these important people.  Sports really are that important to us and our families. Our memories are filled with times we spent watching sports with family and friends. It really is important to us that our son shares some of these memories, that he hears the stories of the previous 4 generations of Cardinals fans, that he hears about how Daddy bonded with his Grandpa over the Mets, and how Daddy's family watched the 1981 World Series cheering for the Yankees. These are important parts of who we are and we want to share that with Ben. It isn't easy and we are still trying to figure out what that will look like. What I do know is this, Drew understands how important the Cardinals are to me and I understand how important his teams are to him. We love each other enough to make sure we live this out with our son as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 11-17

Famous People

ESPN - Special Team - So she tried a whole new path -- the starting quarterback of the undefeated football team. After all, senior Carson Jones had once escorted Chy to the Special Olympics.
"Just keep your ear to the ground," Liz wrote to Carson on his Facebook page. "Maybe get me some names?"
But Carson Jones did something better than that. Instead of ratting other kids out, he decided to take one in -- Chy.

Prodigal Magazine - I take all the blame - How can I expect people to talk about The Church in a positive manner if I’ve failed to be The Church myself?
  • I’ve judged others because they were different from me.
  • I’ve ignored the the cries of those in need because I was busy.
  • I’ve gotten caught up in gossip because everyone else was doing it.
  • I’ve pretended that everything was okay when I was a complete mess.
Not very “Jesusy” at all.

Bryan Allain - So about that Tweet  - In case you missed it yesterday, I somehow found myself on a Time Magazine list with Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Lady Gaga, and Alec Baldwin. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) Here’s how it all transpired:

The Church of No People - I Don't Have a Relationship, I Have Rules  - That relationships and rules are not opposites, or are somehow mutually exclusive.
Relationships, by their very nature, are predicated upon rules.  When rules are broken, so is the relationship.  Right now, Petraus is fighting for his life by trying to cling to the fact that his affair did not start until after he was out of the military (which hands down significant punishments for adultery.) But the point is that a rule (fidelity) was broken and so a relationship (his marriage) has been damaged, just like every marriage which has endured infidelity.

 The Isle of Man - Friday Funhouse: November 16, 2012 - SpongeBob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thor, and Shrek. These are good!

Top of the Page - When it Feels Hard to Hold on to God - But I start to think that's what it's all about. Like a spiritual Hokey Pokey. You do this, and you do that, and you shake it all about. That's how it works. I try really hard, therefore God and I get closer. 

Church this past weekend had us evaluating where in our lives we need to be "relentless." Is it taking in God's word? Is it prayer? In other words, where in your life do you need to try harder? 

The Isle of Man - The Dark Place  - It's in the dark place that I allow myself to embrace the anger and the bitterness.

Why did God let me lose my job? Why has God not provided a new and real source of income? Why do I tuck my tail and hang my head in shame, taking handouts and "God bless yous," while evil men are made to look like heroes in newspaper articles?

Where is the justice? Why have I gone unavenged?

New to Good Stuff Saturday People

NCCS Curriculum Department - The Power of a Handwritten Note  -  Periodically I take the time to transcribe a handwritten note to a colleague, my wife or a friend. Sometimes it’s just to say “thank you” for work well done. Other times it’s just a note of encouragement or a message to let them know I have them on my mind. I can’t count the number of times, sometimes months later, that I’ve seen those same handwritten notes taped to that person’s computer screen or thumbtacked to a corkboard in their office. 

Katie Axelson: Living a story worth telling - Becoming a Writer  - They didn’t just wake up one day and write a book. They had each been blogging for several years and writing for even longer. They had put in the hard work to get to the place where they were ready when the opportunity came.
With the emerging publishing options, it is fairly easy to publish your work, but there are no short-cuts to a successful career as a writer (or any other career, for that matter).
Life as experienced - 10 Years from Today -

Many don’t realize it, but the commitments you select will shape who you are.

Talk to someone who has volunteered to serve homeless men breakfast for the last 5 years, and you’ll find someone who is passionate about loving the homeless.  Talk to someone who has been teaching third grade Sunday school for a few years, and you’ll find someone who loves kids.

Unchained Faith - True (Gross) Confessions of a Coffee Drinker  - Last Friday, I was out doing the weekly shopping.  We were planning on having family over for dinner on Sunday, and most of the people coming enjoy coffee.  We had purchased our Giant Box of Coffee online, which will last us until sometime in the next decade.  To go with that, I decided to try a new kind of coffee creamer.
That was a monumentally stupid idea.

Pen to Paper - Talkin' Fiction Friday: My Beef with the Romance Genre  - And sadly, since there are so many of these books, some non-romance reading people think that’s what all romances are about. But thankfully, not all romances are like that.
What I consider a great romance novel is a story dealing with the hearts of two people with great chemistry where you do NOT need a sleazy sex scene to prove the love between two characters.  I want to watch the characters get to know each other, get past their quarrels and differences, and fall in love. The story needs to emotionally drive you all the way through to the end, the characters emotions become yours.  The stories are genuine and heartfelt. 
Life as Experienced - Parenting the Facebook Generation  - This current generation of parents is the first to have to deal with this, no other generation of parents have had to teach their kids what a virus on Facebook looks like, or teach them the difference between an @-reply and a Direct Message on Twitter.

My good friends who have good words

Reaching Out - Defining Cults: Part 5 - Imagine your birthday.  You have all these presents ready to be unwrapped.  Inside one box is an item you’ve wanted for several months now.  Every time you’ve seen it in the store you’ve pointed out to your mother that you want it for your birthday.  Every time your father comes home from work you let him know how many days away your birthday is.  Your parents, on the other hand, are horrible secret keepers and they have let it slip on more than one occasion your choice gift will be unwrapped on your birthday.  You quickly blow out the candles, you smile for all the pictures, and then, right as you are about to tear into the first box which you know holds this thing your heart has desired so greatly for so long, your father takes it away and says, “Not now, you have to go mow the yard first.”
You’re in shock.  ”But, its my birthday.”

and Part 4 - Christians hold Jesus Christ to be the center of their religion.  He is equal with God.  We believe he proved his deity and performed divine works.  We believe He is the Creator (Also see Hebrews 1:8-10), He is able to forgive sin, and He will judge us at the Final Judgment.  I could go on, but suffice it to say the Christian believes Christ to be the central figure of their religion.

Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - Explain me this: Eating and Shopping  - It makes more sense to my American mind to have the server hovering around me and than a shop assistant when I’m trying to look around and think.

The Grocery Run - Friday's Ingredient: Guar Gum - According to Wise Geek, “many ice creams, puddings, and canned sauces would be fairly inedible without [it].”
. . . unless you made those things from scratch (my observation).
So, is it good for you or not?

This Time Around - A Coffee and Some Great Storytelling Friday  - The man not only knows how to tell stories and subsequently edit them once in video format, but he seems to really enjoy telling them as well. (Because what funny story does not exponentially increase in hilarity with the laughter of the narrator?)

This Time Around - Hard Times Don't Necessarily Mean You Should Quit - Because dream chasing shouldn’t be hard, should it? When I find God’s will for my life in various areas, it should all slide into place easey-peasey, right? Doesn’t “experiencing hard times while pursuing God’s will” mean “you’re actually so far out of God’s will you’re in another galaxy” in at least one translation of the Bible?

The Grocery Run - Rules that Break the Rules - Last night, I was with a group of friends, enjoying an early Thanksgiving dinner. The food was awesome, but my new diet restrictions didn’t allow many choices to pick from. Instead, I chose to fall back on my “rules” of eating when “the rules” might get in the way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

10 Guilty Confessions

I am totally stealing Julie's idea here. Every Friday is her 10 things. They are way better than mine, but the only thing running through my mind is a random list of things. So joining Julie in a 10 things list seems like a good idea.

10 Guilty Confessions

1. I'm a pretty big fan of John Cena.

2. I trust my sister-in-law's mother to know a good book more than any website.

3. I don't really enjoy any of the sitcoms on network TV right now.

4. I don't always mind it when Drew and Ben go to bed way before me.

5. I made a deal with Drew to make the Yankees and Cardinals our family teams.

6. I made a promise to write for 10 minutes before I go to bed, except sometimes those 10 minutes turn into an hour because I can't focus.

7. I often do my housework in one night instead of keeping it clean as we go along.

8. Along those lines, most of the time our dining room table is too full for us to sit down and eat.

9. I am on the Tech Team for our school district and I just put together my first Symbaloo mix today.

10. I've been drinking my coffee out of a tumbler with a straw.

I know I said 10, but I thought of another one, so you get an extra!

11. I still have Halloween decorations up.

Thanks for sticking with me this week. I know it hasn't been the most awesome blog week, but I will work very hard to make next week better. (Every time I hear the word awesome, I think of this. Now you will too. Congrats!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Encouragement to keep going

Today is Wednesday. I almost forgot that. So since it is Wednesday, you all are expecting me to say something here. I will. It just won't be awesome.

I am over 12,000 words in my novel for NaNoWriMo. I have had SOOO many encouraging conversations about it this week. I really feel like I could do this. I have friends and other writers behind me in this. I don't ever remember being encouraged this much. Thank you all!

Also Drew is still hacking and coughing and sick. He will be going to the doctor hopefully today. Say a prayer for him to get better.

It has been 3 weeks that I have been eating better. I'm really loving it. It is becoming second nature.

I am on week 3 of my work out plan. I have picked working out over my laziness. And I feel like I am accomplishing something. And I have.

I have lost 3 pounds in a couple weeks and my blood pressure has gone down. So I'm getting healthier.

Yesterday I participated in a chat via Twitter about writing. I met a few great writers and I'm looking forward to see where this is going. As a result of that I have committed 10 minutes a day to writing on my novel. I am also excited to see how this is going to work out.

So I don't have many words here today, but I have heard many and taken them in. Thank you to all the people out there rooting for me. It does make a difference.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thank You

Yesterday was Veteran's Day and I've thought for days about what I want to write. As I put my son Ben to bed last night, I figured out what to say. 

Thank you.

Veterans Day Photo Credit: Vox Efx

In 1943 and 1944, Lowell Mauck, a man from a small town in Illinois flew supplies over 'The Hump' into mainland China. He was the radio operator as they flew over the Himalayan Mountains. He was their eyes when they couldn't see the ground or possible enemies on the ground. He came home and had a wonderful family. Thank you Grandpa Lowell.

In January 2010, Jaime Lowe, a young Marine, was on a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan. He and two others died that day. Jaime had wanted to be a Marine since at least high school. He and a good friend often traveled 45 minutes one way to a Young Marines unit. The Marines were their goal. I didn't see their bravery and selflessness as their high school teacher. For that I am deeply regretful. Thank you Jaime.

In June 1944, Ben Olds, a man from another small town in Illinois flew a bombing raid over Romania. The lead aircraft was shot out of the air and they took the lead spot. They were shot. The nose was on fire. The plane began to fall. Engines 2 and 3 were on fire. Engines 2, 3, and 4 stopped. The left wing tore off. The right wing tore off. And the plane burst into flames. Lt. Lawrence Rose's foot was shot off. He bailed out. Rumanian citizens found him and took him to the hospital. He died later of dysentery and blood loss. Nose Gunner William Humphrey fell out of the plane and drowned in the Danube. Bombadier David Coleck jumped, but did not make it. Lt. William Hardin and Lt. Louis Falvo jumped and became POWs. Tail Gunner Raymond Kennedy, Ball Gunner Victor B. Laucella, Radio Operator James W. Hartgrove and Engineer U/G Ben G. Olds did not jump. They are buried (I believe) together in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. Thank you Little Ben.

You will be remembered.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Good Stuff Satruday 11-10

Pictures of Poverty - On a scale of 1 to 10, how contagious is this guy's smile

Society and God
The Isle of Man - When an ecard is more than just an ecard  -  With that said, I've always been very self-reliant. I'm completely capable of doing laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming, picking out clothes that match, and making sandwiches.

I love my wife very much, but I survived very comfortably before I met her.

I don't believe I'm alone in this regard. Sure, I know guys who are immature and fairly hopeless without their wives, but I'm not willing to believe that is the rule and not the exception.
Jaime the Very Worst Missionary - Jesus in Cougar Town  - The object of her peri-menopausal desires made a hasty exit, and then a little girl, just 11 or 12 years old, walked up to the dejected temptress. “MOM! That was SO embarrassing!

And suddenly it wasn't really funny anymore.

It was sad.

The Grocery Run - What's your motive? - I blew it. My heart sank. The rest of the visit went fine, but on the way home, I thought about my intention, my motive, why I felt so compelled to tell my new friend that we don’t eat the REAL Oreo’s, we eat the HEALTHY kind.
I didn’t want her to think bad about me. 

Relationships are not easy

Compassion - Relationship: An Art of Awesome Worship - Imagine! There is a big donor conference to raise millions of dollars to further God’s kingdom. Jesus has been invited to chair this conference. A donor announces a donation of 100 million dollars, but the Master is not impressed.
The people around wonder why He is not cheering up! The Master says to the donor, “Go with your money till you restore your relationship with your business partner; then I can receive this gift.”

Courtesy of Compassion International:

A Deeper Story - I don't know how to let people love me  - Last week I visited a friend in Austin. We spent some time with her older brother. He talked about the difference between transparency and vulnerability, noting, “transparency is admitting weakness, vulnerability is admitting need.”
I am transparent but vulnerability has long been my struggle. It comes down to this: I rarely know what I need and I don’t want to be an imposition on my friends.

God and the Church
The Church of No People - Why relevance is completely irrelevant  - I have seen churches featured on blogs that many of you go to.  They are massive, sexy churches.  They look like they are trying to win a high school popularity contest.  They are all trying to be relevant.  Some of them do it by trying to tie secular music into their worship set.  Some of them try to make quippy church signs.  Some pastors try to give eyebrow-raising sermons.
And if this is how they are trying to achieve cultural relevance, then they are all missing the point.
Drip Jesus - Are you with me?  -

I’m tired.

I’m tired of mediocre Christianity.
I’m tired of half-hazard Christianity.
I’m tired of selfish Christianity.
I’m tired of powerless Christianity.

Faith in Albania

Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - But as for me  - God has called each of us to share his truth, his light, his hope, his life. For me, I find it’s often easier said than done. Sometimes, stuff happens and I get behind.

Life of a Christ Follower in Albania - Mission Jericho  - They along with members from our team committed to walking every morning for six days and on the seventh day, seven times around the Kenet. Rain or shine, we committed to circle the Kenet in prayer.

Other life stuff

The Jacksons' Journey - Confession::I've been accusing God  - But I was convicted - heavily - last week, when I realized my "What ifs" weren't just questions. They were accusations. When I stress out about the worst case scenario, what I'm really saying is, "I don't trust you God."

Writer's Space - Beginnings  -  had just fulfilled one of my childhood dreams of building my own house and Van Gogh’s painting of the night sky as it danced across the canvas with so much power, seemed to welcome me to a new beginning in my life.

Friday, November 9, 2012

To my dear departed coffee thermos

spilt coffee Photo Credit: Kreative Eye - Dean McCoy

Yesterday was a very sad day for me.

It started out so positive. I had read my blogs, had my breakfast, got my lunch ready, got my coffee, and got to school early! How awesome is that. I have duty on Thursday mornings. I had a few papers in my hand and headed to my duty station. I was standing on the second floor landing looking at the 2 flights down to the first floor. I am there to make sure that students don't run or go the wrong way on the stairs. It was going well until that fateful second just minutes before my duty was done.

My coffee was sitting on the stair railing. It was close at hand when I wanted a drink of my delicious blueberry coffee with pumpkin pie creamer. I moved my hand down and my fingers brushed the cup. I felt it falling over the wrong way. It was falling toward the first floor. I couldn't stop it. I did the only thing I could.

"NOOOOOOOOO!" I wailed like a toddler losing his ice cream.

The students on the stairway stopped. They stared at me and looked at the coffee on the floor. I couldn't look. The damage was too tragic and horrific. My almost full cup of wonderful fair trade blueberry coffee with pumpkin pie creamer was laying splattered all over the new terazzo tile floors. I was devastated and distraught. I went to the office and radioed the custodian. I finally went back to look at that damage. There was my beautiful thermos laying beside an uneven pool of wonderfully smelling coffee. Several students stopped to ask me what happened. I told them I spilled my coffee over the edge. They asked how it happened.

I answered, "Because I'm an idiot."

I went down the two flights of stairs to wait on the custodian. When I got there, I noticed my lid which was in 3 pieces. I also noticed the precision with which it avoided the stairs. That could have caused a really hard to  clean mess. I also noticed the area it landed was a currently unused storage area. And thankfully there was no one on the stairs or near the area. God is good to cover my mistakes!

In conclusion, I repeated my "I am an idiot" line a few more times. A student attempted to console me by observing the good smell emanating from the puddle on the floor. I pushed them on to class. The custodian showed up and wiped away my mess in no time. Coffee gone. Coffee thermos gone. All hope for savory and safely stored coffee gone. Thankfully our fantabulous custodial staff took it all in stride and didn't even give me the slightest indication of perturbance with my tragedy. And that was a blessing! I already felt ridiculous enough for dropping my coffee 2 floors.

With the evidence wiped away, I walked up 4 flights and went on about my day without my dearly departed coffee thermos.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The week I didn't listen to God

Slow Down Photo Credit: russelljsmith

So October was a VERY stressful month around our house! We were busy every weekend and several weeknights. Being youth leaders raising a several thousand dollars for two different and very important projects requires a lot of time. The more time I spend with people the less down time I get. The less down time I get the more stressed I get. So I was glad to see October go.

Then November got here with the NaNoWriMo challenge and my personal work out and eat better challenge. And I have this blog, the church blog, the church Facebook, and the church Twitter. Also I'm on several committees at work. So I realized that I'm still very busy.

Sunday all the to do's filled my thoughts. I tried to pay attention, but I just kept thinking about the to do's. Even through my lack of focus I heard God say, "Slow down. Do what you can." I was comforted for the day. I caught up on NaNoWriMo with plans for how to keep up my progress.

Monday I had a meeting after school until 5 and then a party to go to at 6:30. NaNoWriMo plans went out the window. I only got about 700 words, which is lacking 1000 words. Tuesday morning I got to write a few. I got home and caught up on the church blog which was 2 days behind. We did 3 loads of laundry and one load of dishes. Then I was done. I was exhausted! I was ready for bed by 7, but waited until 9 or so when Ben went to sleep. I got some family time in while relaxing. One more day with only a few hundred words.

Now it is Wednesday and this blog post is behind. I have tweets and facebook posts to be scheduled for the church and a meeting after school. Now we have 4 loads of clothes to fold and put away. I have church tonight and don't anticipate time for NaNoWriMo. 

I do however have a plan for where Emily will end up. I also have a more realistic goal in mind, the end of the year, for my 50,000 words. I am slowly accepting what I can do and doing only that much.

God told me on Sunday to slow down and do what I can. It only took me 4 days and lots of frustration to start listening. Maybe next time I will try listening to him the first time and avoiding the frustration, stress, and bad mood.

Are you really listening today?

Monday, November 5, 2012


I first of this like maybe 5 to 7 years ago. I thought it was a cool concept, but I was out of the writing business. So I set it aside. Then two years ago I had a student who kept pestering me about writing. NaNoWriMo is something he lives for. I also had a blog friend that talked about it. She even completed it... more than once. I was in awe and I had to try it. I failed miserably. Last year, I licked my wounds and did not participate. This year thanks to the Writers Unite challenge I had something to start working on, something I was excited about. So I have spent quite a bit of time this weekend working on the story of Emily Jones. I don't have a title yet. For now it is The Healing of Emily Jones. Not sure if I like it or hate it yet.

Since I have been writing so much about her, I have not had time to write a proper blog post. Also since the story is now pushing past 10 pages, I am not going to post it on here. Maybe when I am done I will publish some of it. I will tell you this though. Emily has quite a few skeletons in her closet, but she has a hard praying friend to help her exorcise some of the skeletons that are still hanging around. I have many characters and possible plot twists floating around in my head. None of them seem certain to be in the story or out of the story. So I will keep writing and we will see what happens to Ms. Emily.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. I do plan on having a better post on Wed.