Sunday, April 30, 2006

An Important Question

We just finished watching "Wedding Crashers."

It was cute, but whatever.

Here's what I can't quit thinking about.

WHAT IS UP with Owen Wilson's hair?

I mean, you'd think there would be people who could tell him, "Hey, man - you know the perm thing? LET IT GO."

It drove me crazy during the whole movie. I wanted to get a flat-iron or something.

As always, I'm addressing the really serious issues here.

I live to serve others through my thought-provoking questions.

I'm BAAA-ack!

I have safely returned to the land of DSL.

Alex is still at my parents' house.

Which leads me to two words:


Since D. is heading to my hometown tomorrow anyway, it seemed silly to subject the toddler to traveling back here only to get in the car again tomorrow for a return trip.

By the way, this is the first time in over three years that it's been just the two of us in our house.

I definitely miss the little man, but I have just spent the last two hours on the computer, catching up on blogs, and I realize that I have forgotten what it's like to do anything without being interrupted.

And it's nice to know that A. is happy as a clam at his grandparents' house, where the Coke is plentiful, the ice cream is cold, and the Cheetos come in bottomless bags.

But I do miss that sweet little laugh.

And tomorrow? My first day alone since 2003.

More about that later...because right now, my hubby awaits. :-)

Friday, April 28, 2006

LBY - Week Five - Peace

This week our LBY study was on peace. When I discovered that, I wanted to crawl into a corner and throw a blanket over my head, because I knew that God would be dealing. with. me. (now snap three times in a “z” formation.)

He did not disappoint. I have in fact been "dealt with."

Over the last five or six years, I have struggled – no, I’ve WRESTLED – with peace. There are several reasons why, but the biggest one is that I “took on” battles that had nothing to do with me and tried to make them my own. Because I am impatient, I seemed to get the idea that I could speed along the process with my constant questioning, inquiring, checking up, monitoring, etc. And if I could give you any advice as a result of what I’ve experienced, it would be this: Be Ye Not So Foolish.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sat awake at night trying to figure out why something is the way it is, why such and such happened, what would you do if you were faced with so and so…but it is misery. It’s no way to live, because it forces you into “half life” mode where you go through the motions but are constantly aware of the hollow feeling in your stomach, the racing of your heart, and the uncertainty and doubt in your mind.

And the devil LOVES it, by the way.

Beth says that because peace and joy are so inextricably linked, the devil “will most certainly steal our joy if he can undermine our peace. Striving, churning, tossing, turning, bitter, burning, never learning….”

A couple of years ago I did the Beth Moore Believing God study, and it was the first step toward some serious progress in this area of my life. One of the very first things we learned in that study is that “God is Who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do.” Those two simple sentences have done so much for me in terms of reminding me that when God promises me something in Scripture, I can bank on it…and that includes His promises that I can have peace. And not just regular ole peace – HIS peace.

Beth uses the example of the loaves and the fishes to illustrate what it means to rest in God’s peace. She points out that when Jesus was faced with a crowd of thousands of hungry people and some mighty limited resources, “[He] had perfect peace in provision. He did not fret. He did not form a committee to plan a covered-dish dinner.” (Can I get an "amen"?) What He DID do was this:

"He made them aware of their need.
He took what little they had.
He placed them in a posture to rest.
He gave them 'immeasurably more' than they
could 'ask or imagine.'"
(Eph. 3:20)

Beth goes on to say, “Christ was perfectly at peace with the needs of His followers because He had perfect confidence in His Father’s provision.” [emphasis mine]

Just so you know, when I read that quote the first time, out in my margins I wrote, “Oh, that’s GOOD.”

Wouldn’t our lives be overflowing with joy if we rested in God’s perfect peace because we trusted His perfect provision? If we realized that we can’t fight everyone's battles, and that's okay - because He's already won the war? If we truly trusted that God is in control, and that He will do as He promises and “graciously give us all things”? (Romans 8:32)

For me, trusting God's provision is the key to experiencing peace. That may be so basic, so simple to most of y'all - but to me, it's a revelation. I even wrote in my notes this week, "I have known this all along in my head - but I'm just now getting it my heart."

Understanding this truth in my heart doesn't mean that I won't have troubles; in fact, Beth remarks that "peace means the absence of fear and turmoil, not the absence of pain and grief." And I do think I "get" that. Finally.

For so long I thought that peace was something that had to "happen" and that it could only exist if all my problems were resolved and out of the picture. But peace has nothing to do with circumstances, because "he himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14a). He doesn't change - even when my circumstances do.

Y'all know that music speaks to me in ways that words alone cannot - and all week long I've been so aware of the message of God's peace in different songs I've been listening to. This morning I thought it would be neat if I could find a video online of Avalon's "You Were There," because that song in particular has been my anthem this week. And I did find a video, but it was followed by a lengthy sermon from a church with which I'm not familiar. So, you know, probably not a great idea.

But as I was clicking around, I ran across this Hillsong video - and the song is just a perfect summation of what we've been learning this week. If you're distracted by people moving their hands during worship, then just shrink the window on your computer and listen to the lyrics.

I've thought a lot this week about the words "trust," "peace" and "joy" - and I finally realized today that without the power of the Holy Spirit, they don't mean anything at all.

"Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Knowing He is God
In quietness and trust
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father, you are King over the flood
I will be still, knowing you are God."

JannaFlipflop Robin
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.

Ye Olden Weekend With Technology Of Yore

So my daddy is notoriously frugal. And I say frugal, but what I really mean is cheap, though it's not considered polite to call one's father cheap, so I'm using the word frugal, but please don't doubt for one second what I really mean. And it's not an insult at all, because I would tell Daddy that he's cheap if he were standing here right now, and he would grin, because it would make him sort of proud.

Daddy has always been able to stretch a nickel eighteen ways to Sunday. He has lived by the mantra that you control your money - your money doesn't control you - and as a result, he retired at 55, got all three young'uns in and out of college without borrowing a single dime, and as far as I know, aside from a mortgage, has never paid interest on anything in his life.

But Daddy has surprised us all since he and Mama sold our childhood home and downsized last summer. He has coughed up the funds for all manner of custom draperies and new furniture and beautiful doors and fancy refrigerators. He and Mama are getting ready to re-do their kitchen countertops, and Daddy is in complete agreement with all the changes and costs and whathaveyou - as far as I know, he hasn't even blinked. Hasn't even thought about blinking, and on top of that, hasn't had that pulsing vein in his forehead that I knew so well when I was younger. It's fun to see Mama and Daddy finally - FINALLY - enjoying their hard-earned money (well, to see Daddy enjoy it - Mama has NEVER had a problem with enjoying money).

However, the internet is very much The Last Frontier in terms of Daddy's frugality. He has always been ahead of the computer curve in terms of recognizing the conveniences computers offer, and he jumped on the PC bandwagon pretty early on. But he will not - WILL not - will NOT - let go of dial-up. It's almost like he thinks he's not deserving of such a luxurious expenditure, like everyone who has cable or DSL is just Mr. or Miss Fancy McBritches and would do just as well to take that $40 each month and throw it out of the window.

I say all of that so you know that I will be in the Technological Desert, aka my parents' house, this weekend. Dial up. No DirecTV. No TiVo. Now I'll hardly be "roughing it," but I want to be very clear that this is as close to camping as I'll ever get. You need to understand that about me.

There are a couple of reasons for our trip, but one of them is something I haven't mentioned on the blog because, well, I just haven't. Last Friday night my uncle, who lives in the same town as my parents, had a stroke, and Monday the doctors had to put him on a ventilator. It's been an exhausting week for my aunt and my cousins, to say the least. Joe (or, as Alex says, "JOE!") seems to have rebounded pretty well from the stroke, but right now his heart is the doctors' major concern. At this point I could get very sentimental about Joe - he has always been "the fun uncle" for Sister, Stacy and me - but instead I'm just going to ask y'all to please pray for him and his family.

Because I will be stranded in the land of dial-up, I may post my LBY stuff a little early today...I'm going to try to get it done this morning. If I don't finish it before we leave, I'll get D. to post it tonight, since he'll be remaining here in the land of DSL to prepare for all the Businessman Business-y Business that's coming up next week.

Finally, I want to share one of my weekend goals with you. My plan is to take copious mental notes of a conversation with my mother-in-law, transcribe it, and post it upon my return, because I know that you people don't believe me when I tell you about her. If I only knew how to put an audio file on this blog, I really would record her (with her consent, of course - it's probably not a very good idea to make secret recordings of one's mother-in-law and then post them on the interweb).

As a teaser, I will tell you what my mother-in-law said a couple of nights ago when she called to see if my uncle was doing any better. I gave Martha all the information I knew, and she said, "Oh, well, sugar, I know that Choxie [my aunt] is exhausted, she must be simply exhausted, and I know she's worn out and probably just wants to sit down, don't you think she just needs to sit down and rest for awhile and she probably just wants to sit down and have a cup of coffee or a glass of tea or some ice water or a Coca-Cola!"

And that is my mother-in-law. She not only empathizes - she lists all of the hypothetical beverage options.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

At Least I Didn't Call It "Giggles, Grins, and Unicorns"

Jennifer asked in a comment the other day if my blog is named "BooMama" because I call my little boy "Boo."

Yes. That is correct, your honor.

I wonder if people maybe think that it's my nickname, if they think that my friends call me on the phone and say, "Hey, BooMama, what's going on?"

But that is not the case. Praise the Lord, that is not the case.

And "Peaches" is my nickname, in case you were wondering. At least in my family (though come to think of it, Bubba calls me that, too). And somehow a blog called "Peaches" just seemed wrong, all wrong, though I'm sure that whoever has a blog called "Peaches" is doing an absolutely lovely job with it.

So here's how "BooMama" came to pass.

David and I lived in Baton Rouge when we were first married. We loved our time there - wonderful people, colorful culture, and the food...oh, the food. Divine, the food is.

But the grammar? From time to time? Not so great.

I realize that I must throw these regional grammatical stones very gently because I am a native of Mississippi who now lives in Alabama, and therefore I have little if any wiggling room in the area of proper English usage. I mean, if you could hear my Southern accent? Wow. It's bad. Or I should say, "Baaa-yad," because that's what the word sounds like when I say it. Saaaaaay it. :-)

But here's the deal. Some south Louisianians - some, not most - do not see any need for an apostrophe. Or a possessive pronoun. They simply form a possessive phrase by putting one noun in front of another (and if you live down there, you know exactly what I'm talking about).

Allow me to illustrate:

"All right - I'll be at Mamaw house if you need me."

"I may be running a little late because I have to stop by Daddy office."

"Y'all be careful since y'all drivin' Suzy car."

It used to entertain David and me to no end. That part of the world is fun and unique for many reasons, and the language tics are the icing on the proverbial king cake.

Somehow, after Alex was born and David started calling him "Boo," every possessive phrase regarding Alex took on a south Louisiana flavor: "Did you wash Boo pajamas? Did you put Boo in he bed? Did you remember Boo diaper?" And on. And on. And on.

It only stands to reason that I would become "BooMama." It was a matter of consistency, really.

We did have to ease up on our Boo slang once Alex started talking, because we didn't want him to walk in his kindergarten class saying, "This is Alex lunch. I need to give you my mama note, because after school I'm goin' to Charlie house!"

It's bad enough that he'll be saddled with this whole "BooMama" deal for the rest of his life. I can only hope that Boo will understand he mama sense of humor.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bless Him

Tonight on the way home from church I called my friend Daphne. She left me a very serious-sounding message about, oh, SIX HOURS before I returned her call, but unbeknownst to me my phone was on silent. Anyhoo.

So I called her from the car and didn't even think about the fact that I was interrupting the American Idol results show (I know! The irony!). Alex HAD to talk to her because he HAS to talk to EVERYONE I call (or who calls me, for that matter). Here's what Alex's conversation sounded like from my end:

"Hey Daffy. I go to church and to Walgreens and now I goin' home. Okay! Bye bye!"

[hands phone back to me, then starts screaming]

"Wait, Mama! Wait! Wanna say 'I love you' to Daffy!"

[I give him the phone again.]

"Daffy, I love you."

Then Daffy - er, Daphne's older son, Davis, wanted to talk to me. I mean, it was only fair.

Knowing that Davis, who's five, has had a tremendous crush on AI's Kellie Pickler, I started our conversation by saying, "Davis, how do you feel about Kellie Pickler?"

"I love her."

"So do you like her a bunch?"

"I love her."

With Davis' undying love and devotion established, his mama and I talked long enough to agree to talk later - once the AI festivities were over.

About an hour later, my phone rang at home. I hadn't watched the results show yet, so I told Daph to go ahead and give me the news. She said, "Lemme put it this way. My son bawled his eyes out. He sobbed. Even heaved a little."

Kellie Pickler, you see, was eliminated.

And I just thought that was the sweetest thing ever - that a five year old little boy, totally infatuated with a cute little blonde singer from North Carolina, was grieved to the point of tears when his truest of true loves was eliminated from a reality television program.

Hopefully that sweet little broken heart will be all mended in the morning.

I've Been Working On The Blogroll

(all the livelong day)

Oh, that's punny.

Seriously (because I am so very, ahem, serious), I have been working on a blogroll to put in the sidebar, and initially I thought I'd just list all the blogs I read on a regular basis.

And then I thought, well, no.

And then I thought, well, maybe.

And then I thought, well, okay.

I've been very definitive about this whole process, as you can tell.

So here's what I'm doing. I'm listing all the blogs I subscribe to via Bloglines. But I can't get the silly Bloglines blogroll to work (at some point I will in fact use every variation of the word "blog," and then my computer will explode from sheer relief that the whole "bloggy" saga is over).

As a result, I'm MANUALLY typing in my Bloglines stuff at Blogrolling (attention, Bloglines: YOU HAVE SOME PRODUCT MALFUNCTION ISSUES TO ADDRESS, and as a result of that I am TOILING in the typing trenches). Hopefully I'll get it all up and running sometime later today.

BUT (coordinating conjuction #8, for those of you keeping score at home), if I accidentally leave you off of my blogroll and you know for a fact that I've been reading in your corner of the blogosphere ("blog" variation #7 in this post alone), please remind me in the comments and I will happily fix my mistake.

If you would just get a kick out of seeing your blog's name in the sidebar (remember: TENS of people read this blog every single day - it's a heady level of attention, I'll tell you that much), let me know that, too, and I'll add you. If you would in turn link back to me in your blogroll, that would be mighty bloggity of you.

Finally, if you link to me but I may not know it, leave me a note so that I can reciprocate.

This entire linking deal is null and void if you worship the devil or harm animals. Or children. Or people, actually. In those cases I would prefer that you not link to me. Nor will I be linking to you.

A girl has to have standards, you know. ;-)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Idol Re-Cap: Finals, Week Seven

Tonight's theme is great love songs. I can't fathom that this style of music bodes well for Miss Pickler - but stranger things have happened. I am terribly encouraged by David Foster's presence, however, because he understands the beauty of a power ballad (see Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Whitney before she lost her dang mind, etc.).

Katharine McPhee - "I Have Nothing" - It's hard for me to hear this song without seeing the word "Rachel" flashing on a huge marquee (if you saw "The Bodyguard," you know what I'm talking about). This song makes me a little sad, too, because it really does remind me of Whitney in her heyday. As for Katharine's version, I don't know. I like her so much, but it felt like she was trying too hard. I love the subtlety of Katharine's performances, the fact that she usually doesn't oversing, and tonight felt forced to me. Still, her "off" night is most people's singing dream come true.
Elliott Yamin - "A Song For You" - I mean, did it all come together for Elliott this week or what? Every part of that performance was awesome for me - I had chillbumps for most of it, and at one point I thought I was gonna have to stand up and have some music church in my living room. :-) I just loved it. Even David said, "you know, that was really, really, reallllly good." I'm very proud for Mr. Yamin tonight. Far and away his best performance yet.

[Y'all should know that I'm very nervous for Pickler and what in the world David Foster will say to her, because shhhh, don't tell anyone, but she can't sing.]

Kellie Pickler - "Unchained Melody" - I mean no disrespect to the Righteous Brothers, but I cannot stand this song. And lands alive, Kellie didn't do it any favors. She just seems BORED TO TEARS when she's singing, and guess what? I'm bored to tears, too! I think she got into the competition with a really good LeeAnn Rimes imitation, and she IS cute as a bug, but at this point, she is woefully out of her league. (And HEY! There's Sela in the audience, y'all! Sorry to veer off topic, but, you know, hometown girl...and even Sela looked like "Oh, honey, you're adorable. You can't sing a lick, but you're adorable.") Anyway, Kellie is proof positive that looking good in a tank top can take a person very far in America - all the way to the top six in AI.
Paris Bennett - "The Way We Were" - Andrea Boccelli and David Foster were impressed by her. I wish I liked this song more - but it's one of those that I burned out on around the age of 7. I did like that she sang this song in a lower key, so her voice sounded really rich - but as a performer, she just doesn't move me. I don't know - just "aight" for me, yo.
Taylor Hicks - "Just Once" - Now this song happens to be one of my FAVORITES. And I think it's a good song for Taylor. I think I just don't like it as much when Taylor does the sensitive thing. I like it when Taylor is upbeat and playful and soulful. So I don't think it was his best - and certainly not as good as Elliott - but I'm pulling for my Alabama boy.
Chris Daughtry - "Have You Really Ever Lived A Woman" - I despise this song. Despise it. But I totally buy his version. I loved the acoustic arrangement, and it even made me forget about that Kevin Costner "Robin Hood" movie (isn't that what this song was written for?). And once again, I applaud CD for stepping outside his comfort zone and trying something a little different. But will his fans buy it and keep him out of the bottom three?

Best of the night: Elliott
Should go: Pickler
Will go: Pickler - please?

Very Quickly, Some Interweb Follow-Up

Remember when I talked about my ongoing frustration with "mama small talk" the other day? You can refresh your memory here if you need to.

Well, I'm not alone. Check out the comments on this post at HolyMama! (please remember - the exclamation point is very important, because she's not just HolyMama, she's HolyMama!). And I like her. No. I like her! :-)

Also, one day last week I mentioned to Diane that she should do a whole post on her mama's colorful expressions, because they always crack me up when Diane throws one into a post. Well, lo and behold, she did, and I have laughed until I cried. Sister emailed me and said that she had "rurnt" her eye make-up from laughing so hard. Please pay special attention to #7, #8 and #9.

I have no doubt in my mind that Elise will need some form of protective undergarment when she reads Diane's list (wasn't that a polite way of saying that she's going to wet her pants?). And Laura, you must show your mama.

Enjoy, internets.

I Have The Most Exciting News

No, I'm not pregnant.

But it's just as good! Okay, not quite as good. But still, REALLY good!

I had just started a post asking if one of you would please do something funny so that I could write about it, because I was so desperate for writing material that I needed your help.

But my husband rescued me.

You see, he has a meeting next Tuesday in Mississippi. And since we're from Mississippi, he's going to take Alex with him so that they can go see all the grandparents for a couple of days.

And you're thinking, "oh, yay, good for you, your little boy is getting to see his grandparents. yay."

And I'm thinking, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?"


I will be by myself. For a whole night. In my house. Without anyone else here.

For the record, I have not been alone in my house since 2003. Since TWO THOUSAND AND THREE.

I feel somewhat guilty about the level of joy (volume of joy? what in fact is the official unit of joy measurement?) that is stirring deep down in my soul. And it's not that I don't love living with David and Alex. It's not that at all. It's just that I haven't been by myself in, you know, three years.

(For those of you who don't know, my husband works out of our house, so he is almost always here, and even when he's not, Alex is, because he's just three and, well, he can't drive yet.)

So if you were me - home alone for the first time in three years - what would you do? I don't even know where to begin with my plans, but I feel plans are of the essence because if I'm not careful, I will do nothing but sit on the edge of the couch for 24 hours, murmuring to myself, "I am all alone. I am all alone. I am all alone." And the murmuring would of course be interrupted by squeals of delight.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Who Are Those People, Anyway?

I've been thinking for a couple of weeks about how I have several links in the "Higher Calling" section of my sidebar, and I've never bothered to give you any background information on those folks. I mean, for all you know, I've provided you with links to a secret network of undercover government operatives, all of whom are monitoring your interweb activity.

But of course that's not the case at all.

So here's a Who's Who in BooMama Land. Sort of like in your high school yearbook. But with none of the behind-the-scenes drama. :-)

Favorite Church - Brook Hills - This is our church. So that explains that. :-)

Favorite Pastor - Rick Ousley of Quixotic Ministries - Rick is our former senior pastor, and he is without a doubt one of the finest preachers I've ever had the privilege to hear. He stepped down at our church last September because of health concerns (two brain surgeries within one year can take a toll), and he launched Quixotic Ministries shortly thereafter. You can hear some of his sermons here...and if your church is looking for someone to lead a revival or to do a special series, you will not be disappointed by the man or the message. We miss him. A lot.

Favorite Musician - George Vinson of Project 150 - George is the former technical director at our church, and he founded Project 150 several years ago to do missions work through music. About a year ago George felt led to make P150 a full-time venture, and he packed up the family, moved to Tennessee, and got to work. He's talented, and kind, and one of the most tenderhearted people you'll ever meet. Check out his site to get a better idea of what's going on with his ministry.

Favorite Singer - Wes Hampton - Wes is a former worship minister at our church (are you starting to see a pattern?), and I could listen to him sing for hours on end. In fact, when I get to heaven, I am confident that Wes singing "Oh, Happy Day" will be the sound that greets me as I enter the pearly gates. Wes has an incredible voice, and he left BH to be the new tenor for the Gaither Vocal Band. David and I even TiVo'd a Gaither Homecoming Special so that we could see Wes sing with the group...I don't know if the TiVo knew what was happening, what with being asked to record a Southern Gospel program and all. :-) But the boy? He can sing.

Favorite Teacher - Fran Sciacca of Hands of Hur - I met Fran when David and I moved to Birmingham (Fran and I worked together). Can I please tell you how smart he is? And how funny? And if your church has any need for a speaker who will lay it on the line in terms of what's happening in our culture and what that means for Christians, then you need to contact him ASAP. For four years I saw Fran almost every day, and when I had the opportunity, I would just sit and listen to him...I soaked up as much wisdom as I possibly could. He addresses topics like postmodernism and Christian consumerism and the 21st century church with an approach that's so easy to understand - but at the same time so profound and so Biblical. Over and over again I've heard teenagers say that of all the teachers they ever had, Fran impacted their lives for Christ more than anyone else.

And I'll tell you something else...if David and I had known Fran and his wife Jill before we married, we would've wanted them to do our premarital counseling. We respect them as individuals and as a married couple, and if you met their children, you'd know that they totally have it going on in the parenting department, too. My favorite bit-o-Fran-trivia is that he's responsible for one of Focus on the Family's Top 10 broadcasts. He's also written a "few" books. You know. In his "spare" time.

By the way, my favorite bit-o-Fran-advice is that when I was pregnant with Alex and holding a copy of Dr. Dobson's Dare to Discipline, Fran said, "S., read it if you want, but remember that there are two things you can do for your child above all else: 1) have a great marriage and 2) stay in God's Word." David and I are honored to call him friend.

Favorite Church Plant - Randy, Tom and John of Clermont Fellowship Church - Randy Hemphill was the first staff person we really bonded with at Brook Hills, and David and I both love him to pieces. All three of these guys were on staff at our church and felt called to do a plant in Clermont (you can read the story on their website). They're still very much connected to Brook Hills because we're helping them with the plant, but OH can I just tell you how much we miss them? Anyway, if you live in the Orlando area and you're looking for a church, these guys are the real deal. Completely humble, completely compassionate, and completely faithful to their calling.

Now I'm going to skip explaining who Beth Moore is, because I think y'all have had plenty of exposure to her over the last few weeks (and 6 more weeks to go!).

And seriously - I know a lot of you who read this blog plan events for your church, but you may not have known about the people I've mentioned. So check out their them (or even me) if you have questions...and click on the links from time to time to see what they're up to.

They're good people doing God's work - no doubt about it.

"Rain On Your Wedding Day...

...Sunshine For The Rest Of Your Lives."

Or so the old saying goes.

But does anyone know the proper adage when a stabbing taints one's nuptial bliss?

Link courtesy of my brother, who seems to have radar for finding stories like this one.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

More Than "Just" Mama Talk?

Janna's comment about whether or not mamas like to talk about topics other than kids reminded me of this article, which I'm pretty sure I forwarded to some of y'all last year when I first read it. (By the way, the article is a little "worldly" in terms of its description of marriage and all that goes along with marriage, so consider yourself warned.) :-)

But I think it raises an excellent question on top of Janna's question, which is this: do we live in a society where people put their children before their marriages?

I think we do. And is that why we find ourselves talking about our kids so much? Because we give so much to that part of our lives that it supercedes everything else?

Now I totally get why people would say that the kids should come first. I get why people say that I should sacrifice myself and my identity for the sake of my child. And I do believe that God expects me to take my job as Alex's mother very, very seriously, because 1) He called me to do it and 2) it's a job that has eternal consequences.

But I think my first priority within my family - with God at the tiptop of the heap being a given - has to be my husband. And I think that for several reasons.

First, I think we do Alex a disservice if we put him at the center of our universe. If we sacrifice our relationship for his convenience, then I'm not sure how anyone comes out ahead in that deal.

Second, we want our child to see a loving, committed relationship between two people who genuinely enjoy one another. That kind of relationship doesn't happen unless you put some work into it.

Third, if we put everything into Alex right now and nothing into our relationship with each other, what in the world will we be left with when the chick (or chicks, if that ever happens) leaves the roost?

And I recognize that all of those reasons are so much easier said than done.

Sometimes it's so tempting for women to say, "You know what? I give everything I have to my children. And they touch me all day and pull on me all day and need me all day, and I don't want for one more person - even my husband - to need me." I have been there. I have no doubt looked at David like he had horns growing out of his head when he has snuggled up next to me after a particularly challenging childrearing day.

But just because I feel that way doesn't make it right. Someway, somehow, I have to save room for him. I have to save a little room for me, too.

Last year when I emailed my friend NK the article that I linked to at the beginning of this post, she and I had a lengthy conversation about the author's comment that she's not "in love" with her children. I think that's one area where we either disagree with her or have a serious semantics issue. Because I am in love with Alex. Most people I know are in love with their children. I don't know how you could NOT be. Granted, it's a different kind of love than what I feel for my husband. It's like apples and oranges...both are fruits, both are good for you, both are delicious - but they're just not the same thing (now is when I definitely wish I was better at analogies).

NK said that the reason her love for her children and her love for her husband are so different is because she relates to them differently, and I like how she explained herself. She said, "I have so many hopes and dreams for my children. But most of MY hopes and dreams are with my husband. The love is just as strong on each side...but it's not the same thing at all."

It's a crazy balancing act, it is.

So to answer Janna's question: yes, most women do like to talk about more than just their kids. Personally, I love to talk about my husband, and family, and friends, and books, and churches, and television, and music, and blogs. :-)

But it just occurred to me, as I finished that last sentence, that by the time I take care of David, and take care of Alex, and take care of me, I don't have as much time as I'd like for the rest of items on my "favorite topics" list, and I should probably go a little easier on my sisters who are also in the parenting trenches, especially in regard to what they talk about at birthday parties.

It's probably not a wise idea to hold other women to a conversational standard that I can't even achieve myself.

It's Hard To Post When You Have Nothing To Say

For the first time in a sweet forever, I skipped a day of posting. Permit me to explain.

It's been a festival of birthday parties around here this weekend. Friday afternoon we had a party for a little boy in Alex's Sunday School class, and yesterday we had a party for an adorable little girl in his Mother's Day Out class. Our child obviously inherited a socialization gene from one of his uncles, because he doesn't want to miss ANYONE'S party. He did NOT get that trait from his daddy or from me.

I've written before about why kids' birthday parties are no fun to me, and there's really no need to beat that horse again because, as I have said, the parties are not in fact for my enjoyment. And this weekend's parties were actually very laid-back and casual - really sweet parents, very sweet children.

Yesterday's party was at a park in a huge "golf community" about 15 minutes away, and I realized about five minutes into the festivities that everybody at the party, except us, actually lived in that very neighborhood, which meant there was much talk of cul-de-sacs and bus routes and contractors and new street names to which we could not even begin to relate. Over the last couple of years David and I have actually bandied about the idea moving there, but the property taxes are outrageous, and since Alex will be at a Christian school and not using the school district that this neighborhood helps fund, it just seems silly for us to pour a ton of money into a district we'll never use. Plus, houses there are a little, um, high, and we do enjoy, you know, sleeping at night, free from the financial fear that we're not going to be able to pay our house note.

In other words, we're not moving there.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that yesterday we were tied up with Alex's stuff until early afternoon, and I watched two Tivo'd episodes of "24" while Alex took his nap, and then A. "helped" me with supper ("Mama! I want some more shakey-shake-shake!" - which means more of some form of seasoning), and then I did much reading on the computer but never finished a blog post. I even looked for some funny video or something to entertain you, but the proverbial writing well was dry as a bone.

By the way, my husband CRACKED ME UP yesterday when we climbed in the car after the birthday party and were discussing the booming real estate market on this side of Birmingham. David and I live in a nice neighborhood, but it's about 10 minutes off of the beaten path, which inevitably leads to people coming to our house for the first time and saying, "How in the world did you ever FIND this place?" And of course there's nothing fancy about our is what I like to call "Suburban House Product." Anyway, David said that at the party it was all he could do to not interrupt all the talk of wrought-iron gates and countertop upgrades and property values and say, "Hey. So do y'all like to BURN things in this neighborhood? Because where we live we have an empty lot beside us, and I really like to BURN things down there. Shoot, one time I took an old sofa, and stuck some newspaper up in it, and lit it, and it burned in about 5 minutes. It did! Everything 'cept the SPRINGS, of course."

Think that would have caused a slight lull in the conversation? :-)

I'm going to try to straighten up the house a little before A. wakes up from his nap - but I'll be back later tonight. Promise.

Friday, April 21, 2006

LBY - Week Four - Joy

This past week Beth talked about five catalysts to true joy, and the fifth one - the idea that we as believers are catalysts of joy for each other, specifically in the context of the church - is HUGE to me, because it's a part of my Christian life that was missing for a long time.

For a significant chunk of my 20's I tried to rationalize why I didn't "need" church. I never turned away from my faith completely, but I definitely went through a period where the last item on my list was being one more face in the church crowd. I was pretty hung up on my perception that the church was hypocritical, that I didn't fit in with the holier-than-thou types, and that if the church I grew up in was indicative of what the Christian community had to offer, then thankyouverymuch - not interested.

I'm not exactly sure what my "baggage" was in regard to my home church. I think it was probably a combination of the fact that I knew too much of the behind-the-scenes info, I saw firsthand how hurtful people can be (the "critical spirit" that Beth mentioned last week), and more than anything, I had a ton of questions and no one I felt like I could go to for answers. On top of all that, I didn't have enough spiritual maturity to see that in the grand scheme of things, I shouldn't let all that junk get in between me and my relationship with God. So I just withdrew - gradually pulled away - and for about four years, I rarely, if ever, went to church. Was I still a Christian? Yes. Was I growing? No. And was "the joy of the Lord" my strength? Absolutely not.

Without going into the tale of the long and winding road that took me back to church, I will tell you that the latter part of my 20's was a time of great spiritual growth for me, mainly because of a Christian school where I worked in Baton Rouge and the church that David and I joined shortly after we married. In those two places I started to rediscover the 'core' of my joy - the part of me that had disappeared during those previous years when I had little, if any, fellowship with a church family.

But then we moved. And we realllly struggled finding a church here in Birmingham. In fact, if you had given us a list of all the churches in our area, I think our church - The Church at Brook Hills - would have been close to dead last in terms of being a place we thought we would join. Keep in mind that we're from hearty Methodist / Episcopalian stock, and prior to Brook Hills, David had never even attended a contemporary worship service. (Quick aside: I'll never forget that after the first time we visited BH with our friend Benji, I looked at D. and said, "So, what did you think?" His reply: "Well, they didn't bring out the snakes, so I guess THAT was good.") :-)

It gradually grew on us, though - because we really started to grow.

Now, four years later, I can't even describe the joy that I feel when I walk into our church...when I see Miss Margie sitting at the welcome desk...when I see Staci waiting for Alex at the children's check-in as he makes a total bee-line for her and throws his arms around her neck...when I see Kathy singing down on the front row, swaying to the point that her ponytail practically spins in circles on the back of her head...when I see Kevin, at age 29, speak with more intelligence and God-centered wisdom than many men twice his age...when I sit in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, and look around, and realize that we are in a church of 5,000 people, and we are totally, and completely, and utterly at home. That's some serious joy, my friends, and I know many of you experience that same joy in your own churches. Isn't it a blessing? Isn't it HUGE? For the longest time I was missing it - and I had no idea.

Over the last few weeks I've watched one of my closest friends rediscover church. My friend never abandoned the faith, but much like I did in my 20's, got burned out on religion and worn down by division in the body. However, God has really been at work in this person's heart, and to see the reconciliation and restoration that's taking place in my friend's life right now has been, well, joyful. Joy-filled, in fact. This past Monday, my friend emailed me to share some details about the Easter service they attended. As I read the description of how deeply the music touched my friend's heart, I was so encouraged and so grateful for God's faithfulness. Going back to church - back to the habit and heart of worship, back to an environment of fellowship - has absolutely multiplied my friend's joy, and let me tell you - it's contagious.

Hebrews 10:24-25 pretty much sums it up: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as others are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the day approaching."

Bottom line: I don't think we can overestimate or overstate the importance of community in terms of living the joyful Christian life...the importance of finding a church where we experience genuine fellowship and encouragement with other believers. You can have all the head knowledge in the world, but until you truly open your heart to God's people, you'll never fully experience one of the greatest blessings the Christian walk can offer: deep, abiding, and sustaining joy.

I don't know about y'all, but I want that. And I want for others to have it, too.

JannaFlipflop Robin
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.

Clearing The Air

I have long been fascinated by people who are cold all the time. You know who I'm talking about...usually it's women who constantly hold their warm coffee mug up against their faces, who grab the sides of the mug as if their continued existence depends on soaking every bit of heat away from the coffee itself and into their permanently chilled bodies. These women are often seen donning scarves indoors and visibly shivering in office buildings where more often than not the thermostat is being controlled by a computer somewhere in India.

For the record, I am not one of those women.

And if you’re wondering why I’m even thinking about all of this, I have a very simple answer: because, well, it's hot.

Now I know some of y'all enjoy balmy breezes and love to open your windows and let the fresh air pour into your homes. Some of y'all probably even enjoy sleeping outside, regardless of the fact there is no THERMOSTAT in the out of doors to enable you to CONTROL the TEMPERATURE. Some of you probably don't even run your air conditioners, and you should know right now that the thought of someone having access to an air conditioner and opting out of using it creates a swirling vortex of confusion in my brain. Why? Why would you do that? Why?

Keep in mind that we've had our air conditioner on since the first of March, and we will turn it off in November.


The fact of the matter is that I don’t like to be hot. I’m okay with it when I know to expect it, like if I’m chasing Alex outside in the middle of July or if I go walking at noon when it's 101 outside with 98% humidity. But I do not feel that it is God’s will for my life to ever, EVER be hot when I’m indoors. In fact, I do not feel that it is God’s will for my life to ever exist in an environment with a temperature above approximately 72 degrees, because He loves me and wants for me to be happy so that I can glorify Him. I can do no glorifying when the thermostat reads 73 or higher.

I feel that God understands that.

Eight or nine months ago David replaced our downstairs thermostat with one of those fancy digital thingamajigs that enables you to program the temperature of your home at all points in the day. He bought the silly gadget because he thought it would take the ambiguity out of our temperature interpretations (I read the old one by the top of the red line; he read it by the bottom; I imagine we were supposed to use the middle, but oh well). Anyway, it’s hard to argue temperature when you see “71” on an LCD screen.

The problem, however, is that we’ve never figured out how to work it. It has a mind of its own and decides that in the early mornings our house should be 75 degrees, then 73 degrees around noon, and then back up to 75 degrees around 3:00.

75 degrees at 3 o’clock in the afternoon?!?! INDOORS?!?! That is the craziest crazy talk of all the crazy talking I’ve ever heard.

It stresses me out because I feel that the very essence of comfort in my own home has been compromised, and as such I am waging war on the thermostat beast. My project for this weekend is to convince the stubborn thing that our house will be 70 degrees. Period. Unless I decide to override the system while I’m cleaning the house and take ‘er down to a comfy 68.

My friends Elise and Daphne are my total soul sisters on this issue. Elise keeps her thermostat on 68 in the summertime, and when I asked her one time how she afforded the summertime power bills with three boys constantly going in and out of the house, she said, “It's a matter of priorities. We may not have the fanciest cars or the fanciest house, but we’re always going to do two things in our home: 1) eat and 2) be cool.”

It almost brought tears to my eyes, so beautiful were those words, so close to my heart were her sentiments.

I WILL conquer the thermostat. I WILL find a way to create an uncompromsing level of air conditioned comfort in my house. And when I figure it out, y'all are welcome to visit and experience our comfortably cool indoor environment.

But if you're one of those women I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you might want to bring a sweater along for the ride.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Southern Exposure

I've seen several items in the news over the last week or so that explore why American Idol contestants from the South seem to fare better than their competitors from other regions of the country. Birmingham alone has ties to four finalists: Ruben Studdard, Diana DeGarmo (born here; raised in Georgia), Bo Bice, and now Taylor Hicks.

Some people speculate that it's because we throw our kids in church choir early on and "make" them sing...some people say it's because the South enjoys such a rich musical history in terms of blues, gospel, jazz and country...some think it's because we're more "rural" than the rest of the US and have nothing better to do than sit around and watch reality television shows.

I don't really have a problem with any of those theories, though I'm surprised that last one didn't also say, "watch reality television shows while they bite their toenails in their run-down trailers as they simultaneously sip moonshine, play the banjo, and smooch on their cousins." I have some issues with the way the media portray the South, if you can't tell. (Total aside: Daph, do you remember how Anne Harris always stressed in our comm. classes that "media" is the plural of the singular "medium" and therefore takes the plural verb? I've never forgotten that. Riveting information for the rest of you, I know.)

I've only seen one person mention what I think is the real reason Southern contestants do so well on American Idol: we enthusiastically support our own in this part of the world. Being Southern is such a huge chunk of our identity that we tend to rally around fellow Southerners. We love a "small town boy / girl does good" story, and since the normal six degrees of separation are whittled down to around three for us, we feel like we know the people who are competing. And since we feel like we know them, we vote for them, because they're practically one of the family. I don't know if those of you who have never lived in the South can fully understand it, but we are fiercely loyal to our place and to our people in this (red)neck of the woods.

Someone - I think on - mentioned that one factor in Southerners' AI success is that we can be charming, as evidenced by the fact that it's much easier for a Southern presidential candidate to win over Northern voters than vice versa. Of course I find Southerners to be charming, but I've never lived anywhere besides Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, so I see the world through deep fried glasses. I assume that all people in all parts of the country are charming and warm and hospitable, just as we are down here.

I'd love to hear if y'all have any theories about the Idol deal. If you live in another part of the US (or a completely different country, for that matter), what's the hospitality temperature of your area? Warm, lukewarm, or frigid? Do you feel "rallied around" where you live? If you were on American Idol, for example, would you feel like you had the support of not just your town but your entire REGION behind you?

Meanwhile, I'll be on the front porch practicin' my hog callin' if anyone needs to find me. ;-)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Now We're Cookin'

In the late afternoons when I get ready to start supper, I inevitably have to find some way to keep Alex occupied, mainly for fear that he'll make his way upstairs and try to flush Rescue Heroes down the toilet or slip out the back door and befriend our neighbors two streets over. So I usually pull a chair up close to wherever I'm chopping or stirring, fix him a sippy cup filled with the delicious beverage of his choice, and let him play with various and sundry kitchen utensils. But not knives. We have a strict no knives policy due to the "cutting" and "stabbing" that can occur.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've given Alex "tasks" while I'm cooking, like dicing onions or slicing potatoes. Oh I'm kidding - did you people not read about our strict "no knives for toddlers" policy? Seriously, I let him push the button on the food processor, or I ask him to get the cheese out of the refrigerator, and this past weekend I even showed him how to crack an egg. He is game for whatever - just as long as I don't try to keep him out of the kitchen.

Tonight I made beef stroganoff, and since it's not a recipe that depends on exact measurements, I asked Alex if he wanted to season the flour I would be using to dredge the meat.

"OKAY, MAMA! Want dinosaur?"

"Dinosaur" is Alex's little apron (featuring, oddly enough, a dinosaur decal on the front) that Publix sent him on his third birthday (join their Kids Club if you haven't...they send great gifts for kids, all in the name of suck-them-in-while-they're-young marketing).

So I tied "dinosaur" around his neck and waist, and then I started handing him seasonings: paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Greek seasoning, etc. Based on his reaction, I may be creating a bit of a culinary monster.

He poured and he stirred and he poured some more. I had to take out a little of the garlic powder (he got a little heavy-handed with it), but I must say that by and large his seasoning instincts were outstanding. :-) I also let him season the meat with salt and pepper, but that big bowl of flour held his attention...he wanted to put "more, Mama! More!" into the mix.

Everything actually turned out great taste-wise, and as we ate our supper tonight, Alex told his daddy all about the "pepper-ika" and how he "stirred the bowl" and how "yeah, yessir, I help Mama with supper."

I just wanted to freeze time at that very second and savor the moment where a three year old would have the world's sweetest smile on his face because he got to spend a little time standing on a chair, wearing a promotional item from a grocery store, mixing not even 50 cents worth of ingredients together, and loving every single second of it all.

It's the little things, as y'all know.

I DO Have A Laid-Back Side. I Promise.

Heather tagged everyone in our LBY study group to do a list of 10 simple pleasures in our lives. Making this list is surprisingly easy for me, because remember: WE ARE ALWAYS HOME. So our entire existence is essentially a combination of simple pleasures peppered by my weirdness...a veritable carnival-o-fun for all involved. But with no clowns. There are never, ever clowns at my carnivals-o-fun.

That being said, I give you "10 Simple Things I Enjoy."

(Alternate title: "'Cause I'm Chill Like That")

1. Hearing Alex laugh. When he gets really tickled at something and goes into the belly laugh, my heart explodes just a little bit.

2. Driving in the car by myself, with the music of my choosing playing loudly as I sing along.

3. Taking a long, hot shower after a hard day's work in the house or in the yard. David's laughing at the "in the yard" part, because I've worked in the yard approximately twice since Alex was born. But I do work in the house a lot.

4. Praying with Alex, especially when he has "add-ons" after we say, "Amen." It usually goes like this: "Oh, wait! Thank you for blueberries. In Jesus' Name! Amen! Oh, wait! Thank you for friends. In Jesus' Name! Amen! Oh, hold on, Mama. Thank you for..."

5. Laughing at the most random line in a TV show or movie, and realizing that David is laughing, too, and knowing that we're probably the only two people in the world who think that particular thing is funny, and that is why we're married.


7. Reading a book that I can't put down, and when I have to put it down, all I can think about is picking it up again.

8. Singing in church. I'm SO not a singer, y'all, but I love to make a joyful noise. It's not always joyful to those around me, however, because as I mentioned, I'm not a very strong singer.

9. Taking naps with Alex in the afternoons.

10. Having a rare night or weekend alone with David. The toddler is awesome and all, but I crave and need those times when it's just the two of us.

Are you surprised by the almost complete absence of sarcasm?

I am. :-)

Let me know some of your favorite simple things in the comments. And if you have a blog, consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Idol Re-Cap: Finals, Week Six

Tonight is "American Songbook" night, and after the agonies that were Queen night and country night, please, for the love of pete, SING SOMETHING, people! I have such high hopes for tonight because the songs themselves are so memorable...and I don't think I have another week of Idol disappointment in me. So fingers crossed, and away we go.

Chris Daughtry - "What A Wonderful World" - Could it be that Mr. Daughtry is actually going to sing AND NOT SCREAM? And with only the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar? It's EXACTLY the performance that he needed. It was subtle, classic, and he shined. He could record this song as a single tomorrow and have a hit. Awesome. I've been tough on him the last couple of weeks, but he had A Definite Moment tonight. Here's how much I liked it: I didn't type at all while he was singing. Not a single letter. David just said that we could actually hear the depth to CD's voice tonight because I don't know if I mentioned it, but he wasn't screaming. Loved it.
Paris Bennett - "Foolish Things" - See, I think Paris does best when she keeps it simple. The last month or so she's been all over the place, trying to show us how "versatile" she is. But tonight, she stood on stage in her simple suit, toned down make-up, with nary a hint of jewelry, and she flat nailed her song. This performance reminded me of why I liked her to begin with - and of what she SHOULD HAVE been doing all along. Good for her.
Taylor Hicks - "You Send Me" - OH MY WORD I adored it. It was so controlled at the beginning - but not boring at all - and the arrangement at the end of the song was PERFECT for Taylor. I had a smile the size of Texas on my face at the end of his performance. Simon said it was "magic" - and I agree with him. I had chillbumps almost the entire way through the song. WHOO, Taylor! Soul Patrol! :-)
Elliott Yamin - "It Had To Be You" - I love this song, for what it's worth. And Elliott's voice is ideal for this genre of music. As I'm watching him, I'm thinking that he would have fit right in with the Rat Pack - and he reminds me a lot with Harry Connick, Jr. Once again, the arrangement was great for him, because it gave him a chance to show off a little bit at the end. Simon's right, though - Elliott doesn't have as much "likeability" as the other contestants, so a great performance may not be enough.
Kellie Pickler - "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" - There is absolutely no way that Kellie won't make it through to the next round, because I have contended for several weeks that she could get on stage and sing "Blah blah blah blah blah" and receive more votes than anyone. It was just so obvious, though, that vocally she's out of her league compared to the other contestants. And somehow she got about two measures ahead the music and forgot her lyrics. I do appreciate that she knew that she "butchered" the song and didn't make excuses...which is kind of refreshing in this era of "performers" who think they're all that and a bag of chips.
Ace Cannon, er, Young - "That's All" - Is the ponytail his way of trying to pull off "suave"? I don't understand. I do appreciate that he stepped outside his normal "earthy" look, and I will say that this performance was his best in several weeks. BUT, like Kellie, he's not vocally at the same level as the other contestants. But he didn't seem to do the whole wide-eyed / deer caught in headlights routine as much, so that's, um, positive. I guess.
Katharine McPhee - "Someone To Watch Over Me" - This song is one of David's favorites, so we may have to replay it later and do a little dancin' in the living room. :-) And young girls of America, TAKE NOTE OF HER MODEST ATTIRE and the fact that she looks STUNNING. She did a beautiful job with the fact, I don't think anyone could sing it any better. Best performance in a night of great performances.

Here's the thing. Tonight was far and away the best of the season, because the SONGS were far and away the best of the season. David made the point that when these songs were written, melody was so important because the songs were heard on radio and records - "performance" and "image" didn't factor into the entertainment equation the way that they do now. The lesson, I think, is that good songs make good singers great - and that was so apparent tonight. Plus, the contestants had more TIME, so they didn't have to do such cut up versions of their songs. It was an enjoyable night indeed.

Should go: Pickler
Will go: Elliott, I'm afraid - though I wish it would be Ace Cannon.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ya Down With OCD? (Yeah, You Know Me)

I've mentioned a couple of times that I am slightly - slightly - obsessive compulsive. It's not that I check our locks 15 consecutive times before I'm able to sleep at night - not that there's anything wrong with that - but I'm quirky. Control-freaky. I actually prefer the term "eccentric," but you'll probably use the term "weird." And that too would apply.

As it turns out, Lauren just tagged me to do a post where I list six weird things about me. Since I have had absolutely no writing inspiration today, I am going to take her up on her kind offer. Plus, I now have to think of six other people to tag, and that'll give me something to do tonight besides just watching "24." So Lauren's actually done me a huge favor. :-)

And I'll just go ahead and warn you that six things aren't nearly enough, so vast is the prairieland of my weirdness.

With that stunning preface, I now give you a list: "BooMama's 11 Weird Things About Me."

(Alternate title: "Why I May Frighten You.")

1. I will only wash towels with towels. I do not believe that towels should be mixed in with clothes or - heaven forbid - sheets. Occasionally, in cases of extreme laundry emergency, I will wash socks with towels, but I don't like it, and I won't pretend that I do.

2. I do not like to cross-pollinate brands. So I would never, ever use Tide detergent and then Downy fabric softener and then Bounce fabric sheets. I shudder just thinking about it. In order for all of our laundry products to be in perfect accord, I use Gain detergent, Gain fabric softener, and Bounce - WITH GAIN - fabric sheets. This makes perfect sense to me.

3. I have to drink diet Coke over ice.

4. However, I prefer diet Mountain Dew out of a 20 oz. bottle. Not a can. And certainly not a 2-liter because that would require, you know, ice. Which completely goes against my diet Mountain Dew drinking principles, though it would be completely in accord with my diet Coke drinking principles.

5. When I get in the bed, I must be covered by at least a sheet and a comforter. I cannot sleep with just a sheet. Nor can I sleep with no cover at all. I prefer a sheet and a medium to heavy weight comforter. A bedspread doesn't count. That's just a second sheet, in my opinion.

6. When I check email, I must read all new messages at once. I cannot read a message, do something else, and then come back to the rest of the unread messages. That makes no sense to me. And if a message comes in while I'm sitting at the computer, I read it right away. I can't "ignore" it until I finish what I'm doing.

7. My lips are moisturized at all points in the day except when sleeping. But I hit 'em good before I go to sleep so that they're not too dry in the morning. And those of you who have known me for a long time know that I am terribly brand-loyal in my lip-moisturizing pursuits.

8. I always have lamps on. Always. But I can't stand overhead lights. There are SEVEN lamps in my den. They're evenly spaced so that I can turn on all the lamps and have every possible reading place illuminated.

9. I do not like bar soap, because it seems to me that after you use it once, it's dirty forever. Therefore, if you visit me, you will have a large array of liquid soap options from which to choose.

10. I've mentioned this to Diane, but it bears repeating. All bills in my wallet must be facing forward (and no upside down bills, either), ordered by denomination from greatest to least. And I cannot leave a store until I've turned all bills in the proper direction and put my money away. I've held up MANY a checkout line trying to get my wallet in order, believe you me. By the same token (pardon the pun), change must immediately go into the change compartment. I believe that I would twitch incessantly if I just tossed the change into my purse, all willy nilly and devil may care-like.

11. I am fundamentally opposed to two products: salad in a bag and pre-grated cheese.

Now I'm sure those of you who went to college with me are thinking, "Oh, you left one off the list! What about you and your magazines?" Because I had this thing in college that no one could touch my magazines or newspapers until I'd read them first. It was so bad that when I'd check out at Walmart and a clerk would casually THUMB THROUGH MY MAGAZINE as she rang up my merchandise, I would take the used magazine and swap it out for a fresh one.

However, for whatever reason, sharing periodicals no longer bothers me. I'll buy a magazine and VOLUNTARILY let you read it first, in fact.

Because I'm so much more laid-back now, as you can clearly tell.

p.s. I'm tagging Addie, Karin, Janna, Jennifer, Janice, Rachel and Faith. I've upped my list to seven because I figure at least one person has already been tagged. And of course all you non-bloggers can put your own lists in the comments. Or just make fun of my list. :-)

Finally, if any of you get my blog via a feed reader, I apologize - I have edited this post about 15 times. My brain's not cooperating with me tonight.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sounds Like A Bunch Of Crazy Talk To Me

Is the whole Katie Holmes silent birth / scientology thing bothering anyone besides me?

Heather got me thinking about it...and after doing a little reading today, I can't help but think that Katie's parents must be, at the very least, horrified.

Or am I overreacting? It's not like I'm, you know, friends with Tom and Katie or anything, but since they've put this information "out there," I think it's fair game for discussion.

By the by, you should probably know that, as a general rule, scientology FREAKS ME OUT.

Anybody else care?

The Smoking Gun

Earlier this afternoon, I realized that Alex had been out of sight - and quiet - for about ten minutes.

So I investigated.

And this is what I found.

Looks like Easter candy and a three year old are fast friends indeed.

Happy Easter

"Broken" - Chris Rice

Saturday, April 15, 2006

No Rhyme, No Reason

First, if you're a LBY blogger looking for today's post, it's down the page just a little bit.

Second, I have been in the kitchen all morning getting food ready for a breakfast at church tomorrow morning. I made two huge sausage and egg casseroles, two gigantor batches of cheese grits (I'm about to post the recipe over on my recipe "website"), :-) and I need to get back in there in a second to slice all of my fruit. But after putting the SECOND load of dishes in the dishwasher, I had to take a few minutes to sit down and enjoy the fact that the kitchen is clean again, even if I'll be making a mess again within the hour.

Plus, I had to share this very important news: Alex went next door to play, and David is outside working in the yard. Do you know what that means? I AM INSIDE MY HOUSE BY MYSELF.

Perhaps you didn't hear me. I AM INSIDE MY HOUSE BY MYSELF. That has happened approximately three times in the last three years.

Since David works out of our house, he is home all the time. It's a wonderful advantage in terms of taking care of Alex, because we have flexibility that most people don't. And I really do enjoy that we get to see each other much more than most couples. But as someone who needs her "space" from time to time, I can get a little frustrated if I focus on the fact that I am NEVER ALONE.

It's shaping up to be a lovely afternoon as a result of the solitude, so I wanted to update you on a few things. I know - another "list" post - which is sort of a cop out, but you can't really expect for me to come up with a coherent narrative when I AM BY MYSELF...though oddly enough, I still have "Sesame Street" playing on the television. I don't even notice it anymore.

1. David has been picking up the picture of his mama, putting it in front of his face, and then imitating her voice. Which is kind of creepy. But very funny, especially when he says, "OH, you don't MEAN. You don't MEAN!" four or five times in a row.

2. Yesterday morning Alex was being pretty bossy when I was helping him get dressed, and he started saying, "No, Mama! You go OVER THERE!" I said, "Buddy, you cannot talk to me like that. I'm not going anywhere other than where I am."

And I looked up at David, who was fighting so hard not to laugh, and he said, "Yeah. You tell him, Mama. Because you are. Right where you are."

Then got a little tickled. So I followed up my previous kernel of wisdom with, "That's right. Because where I am is exactly where I'm going to be. If you're looking. Because I'm here."

It is fun to be such an excellent, insightful, articulate parent. I am obviously terribly gifted at providing pertinent on-the-spot instruction to my child.

3. Please keep Emma Kate in your prayers. She has had some persitent health problems for the last year and a half, and after a visit with her doctor earlier in the week, she learned that he wants to do something a little bit more invasive to try to determine what's going on with her. Emma Kate has unshakeable faith, and I know that she and her sweet hubby would appreciate your prayers as they seek God's guidance to help them make the very best decision for EK and their family. Pray for her doctors' wisdom, her family's peace, and for total healing, if that would be God's will.

4. Guess what Oprah talked about yesterday? HEALTH CARE! She actually talked about it indirectly...the focus of the show was how difficult it is to live in America on a minimum wage salary. I felt completely ignorant because I just assumed that at this point in time, minimum wage must be at least $7 or $8 a hour. But it's STILL $5.15. I had no idea. And a side effect of people working for minimum wage is that they can't afford health care. Needless to say, I was FIRED UP as I was cooking this morning. There is absolutely no way for people to get ahead when they have rent to pay, food to buy, and a trip to the doctor could set them back as much as $700 THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO BEGIN WITH. AAAAAAAARGH.

However, I won't post anything about this particular issue right away - I actually want to do a little research to make sure I'm not just being reactive (as opposed to responsive). And I'm sure you're all breathing a collective sigh of relief as a result.

But I guess this means that Sister better get out her parasol and Bubba better book his flight...because my march on Washington can't be far behind. :-)

5. if you're an SEC football fan, this story will grab your attention. Logan Young is a household name in this part of the world because of his (oftentimes scandalous) ties to the University of Alabama football program, so the story of his unexpected death has been all over the news. There's something strange about the circumstances...I can't quite put my finger on it...but I have a feeling that Sister will be ON THE CASE after she reads a few news stories.

Hope y'all have a wonderful, restful Saturday...I'll check in later.

LBY - Week Three

When I looked back over my notes from this week, I realized that the biggest day-o-impact for me was Monday, when I watched the first few segments of the video. Now the rest of the week was great, of course - I had several "ah-ha" moments about what it means to give and receive true agape love - but Beth said something in the video that I keep going back to, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head all week. She said, "we have to understand that things [in life] are not as concrete as things we see in Scripture," and the infiltrating power of the Holy Spirit helps us "to deal with the gray." [emphasis mine]

You should know that I am not, in general, a big fan of "the gray."

Because, you see, one of the ongoing struggles in my life is discernment. For a long time I thought my discernment struggles were because of my personality...I tend to see the good in everyone, tend to like people right away, tend to be very trusting right off the bat. So I figured that because I didn't expect the worst in a situation (quite the opposite, in fact), discernment wasn't really even necessary for me because I assumed that, one way or another, things would turn out just fine. In other words, I'm going to go ahead and jump in that icy cold river, because I'm certain that I'll find a way out. Really! Nothing bad will happen! Everything always turns out fine!

For a long time I confused discernment with my "gut feeling," not recognizing that a gut feeling is based on emotion, while discernment is based on wisdom that can only come from the Holy Spirit (see? I had no discernment about discernment itself. I was in a bad way). :-) But over the last eight or nine years God has taught me so much about discernment, and He has done almost all of that teaching through "the gray." That fact never occurred to me until I watched the video this past Monday.

Here's an example to illustrate my point. I'll only bore you with one example. Promise. And I'll try to stop overusing the word "discernment." It's starting to look funny when I type it.

About five years ago, D. and I went through what you might call "a rough patch." I felt like I didn't understand him, he felt like I was overly emotional about some stuff we were dealing with, and because he was just starting his business, we saw each other for approximately 7 minutes a day. That may be a slight exaggeration on my part. But the combination of no time together plus tension when we were together felt a little overwhelming. And if you've ever been at that place in your own marriage, you know that when you start to question the state of your relationship, you inevitably start to question if you'll be able to really and truly work through your problems or if you're stuck in one of those hollow marriages like you see in made-for-tv-movies (with titles like, "Close Together, Worlds Apart" or "One House, Two Lives," starring Valerie Bertinelli or Meredith Baxter-Birney).

So one night, when I got in the bed and David was still in his office working, I started to pray. It was one of the few times when I can remember feeling like I was right on the verge of screaming at God, but I felt lonely and confused and I just POURED IT ALL OUT. Every single concern...every single thing that was bothering me...every single fear that I had. And about 15 minutes into my "therapy session," I felt something deep down in my heart as one single, sustaining phrase echoed in my mind: "A marriage doesn't have to be perfect. Just pleasing to Me."

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had given me clear instruction about how to move forward. Because here's the thing. Since David and I weren't living up to my self-imposed standard of perfection (that's the key to the trouble right was my standard, not God's standard), I was letting discouragement overtake me, certain that the "failure" to be perfect meant we would never, ever make it. But in that one moment, God cut straight through "the gray" and totally shifted my perspective of what my marriage should - and could - be.

It would tie up all the loose ends real pretty-like if I could say that David and I worked everything out that night and haven't had a moment's struggle since. But that's not real life. The working it out part took a little while...and God was faithful, as He always is. We learned, slowly but surely, that if we focused on pleasing Him in our marriage, the day-to-day strains sort of melted away. It's an ongoing process, and we're committed to it. We've learned to speak the truth in love, not in anger. Accepting and trusting that one prompting from the Holy Spirit - that my marriage should be pleasing to God but didn't have to be perfect - changed my life. And it changed my marriage. Only God could do that.

I love this passage from I Corinthians 2:10-13: "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words."

Because of that assurance, we can do more that just get through "the gray." We can move past it, beyond it, with full confidence that God is the One guiding us every step of the way.

Happy Easter, everybody.

JannaFlipflop Robin
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I Told You She's Festive!

So it's pretty much a perfect morning for Alex, what with a large "happy" from Sister and Barry waiting on him after breakfast.

He naturally went to the flashcards first because we're all math-y like that in our house. Ahem.

Then he discovered the card, which could not, COULD NOT be opened without singing the "We just got a letter" song from Blue's Clues.

Do you think he liked his new bunny ears?

See that watch? It's on his wrist now - and forever, it seems, so strong is his affection for the Bugs Bunny timepiece.

I took a picture of the basket before Alex opened it to show you all the COLOR-COORDINATED RIBBON, but there was too much of a glare on the plastic wrap. It all looked adorable, of course. I couldn't help but think that if I were the one sending out the festive Easter greetings, everything would all be crammed down into a box with a hastily written Post-It note on top. Sister, you see, is really good at the details.

Thanks, Easter Bunny Sister! The little man loves it all.

I Can't Sleep, But That's A Good Thing...

...because I'm inspired.

Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star, put his money where his heart is and created a school district that addresses what he calls "the moral issue" of failing American schools. If parents aren't committed to helping their kids, then the kids can't enroll. It's that simple.

Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin decided they could create a better public school system. Guess what? They have.

To see and read more, go here.

Thank goodness I watched Part II of "America: Schools In Crisis," because all this stuff doesn't seem quite as overwhelming and insurmountable.

And Liz, I think reading about these people and their schools will make you feel better, too. :-)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy, Um, Easter!?

I think I've mentioned it before, but just in case I haven't, Sister is legendary in our family for her holiday happy boxes. You can just about bet on the fact that, sometime just before a holiday, a package will arrive with all manner of Valentine's / St. Patrick's Day / 4th of July goodies. Because she's festive like that.

So today, when I saw that David put a box on our kitchen table with the rest of our mail, my first thought was, "Oh, I bet that's from Sister." But then I noticed that the box was open, and that David had displayed a little something on the pass-through between the kitchen and the den.

And I looked at him, and back at the pass-through, then at him, then back at the pass-through, and finally I managed to say, "Uh. What's this for?"

You see, most people, when they send Easter happies, they send candy, or decorative Easter eggs, or stuffed bunnies, or maybe, if they're thinking outside the box, an Easter coloring book or even a Veggie Tales DVD. I think all those gifts are pretty standard, right? Right?

But David's mother is not "most people." I think I established that here.

That being clear, I would now like to take this opportunity to show you what my mother-in-law sent us:

That would be a picture of my mother-in-law.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm grateful. It's a lovely picture and a thoughtful gesture. Alex will love having the picture in his bedroom and will, I'm sure, talk to it before he goes to sleep at night. Those of you who know Martha know that she put this gift together with great care and no doubt told at least 4 members of the local postal service what she was doing ("You see, my son and his wife live in Birmingham, they live in Birmingham! Well, technically they're a little outside of Birmingham, but they do everything in the city, just everything, because that's where their church is and where Alex's Mother's Day Out is, and they just love it there, love it! So I had this picture made because my friend Mary Ann? Well, her daughter married Sela Ward's brother, and Mary Ann's daughter, you know, the one who I mentioned just a second ago was married to Sela's brother, had this faaaabulous luncheon out on Sela's farm and there was a photographer there and anyway...").

Truthfully, I couldn't help but get just a wee bit tickled by Martha commemorating the death and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior by sending us a picture of herself. Is it just me? Aren't y'all a little tickled by that, too?

It reminds me of the time the Dentons, who lived down the road from my friend Laura, ordered a cake for Easter. Mrs. Helen was VERY specific with the baker...she wanted a cake with a cross in the center and Easter-appropriate text below. The baker verified the order and said, "So you want an Easter cake?" Mrs. Helen replied that yes, that was exactly what she wanted.

Mrs. Helen picked up her cake right before Easter and didn't take time to check it before she left. She paid, took the cake home, and was understandably alarmed by what she saw when she opened the box.

There was a cake, all right...a cake with a big ole bunny rabbit in the center and the words "HE IS RISEN!" underneath.

Mrs. Helen was none too pleased with the assumption that she celebrated the resurrection of a dead bunny on Easter morning.

So when Alex wakes up from his nap, I'm sure he'll be delighted to see Martie's picture, and we'll make a big fuss over it indeed, just as Martie would want for us to do. She looks mighty good at seventy-something, doesn't she?

But to avoid any bunny / He Is Risen confusion, I don't think I'll tell Alex that she sent it for Easter. That might blur the reason for the season a bit.

And I have to say...I have struggled all day with writing a post, but once I saw our new picture, I lost any and every trace of writer's block. It's proof positive, I reckon, that you can always count on family to pull you through when you're in desperate need of material.