Thursday, August 31, 2006

In Which I Cannot Contain My Excitement

So it's taken me a little while to get a post done today because I don't know if you're aware of this or not but COLLEGE FOOTBALL STARTS TONIGHT with a 7:00 match-up between my beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Or, as we like to call them in Alabama: chickens.

I am beside myself with joy. Giddy, in fact.

This morning I hopped out of bed, made a pot of coffee, walked to the front closet and engaged in a bit of pre-game ceremony. I awakened our big M-State flag from hibernation and placed it in the flag holder on the front porch (is that what it's called? a flag holder? flag bracket? why am I struggling to remember this basic fact? am I so excited that basic vocabulary eludes me?).

I have also played the fight song several times, watched the Game Day Cam on the interweb (see that tree on the front right? I've eaten many a piece of fried chicken under that's where we used to park for games when I was a little girl), and wished with all my might that I could be there in person. Unfortunately, three year olds don't really enjoy having to sit still on their assigned twelve inches of bleacher space, and since I am a mama who wants to watch the game, NOT chase a toddler up and down section 204 of Davis Wade stadium, we'll be staying home for this one and counting on ESPN to make us feel like we're in the middle of the pigskin action.

I could bore y'all to tears with memories of Football Games Past, but suffice it to say that this is my favorite time of year. There's been a little bit of breeze outside today, and while it's still so humid that with every two steps you feel like you're walking into a wall-o-dampness, there's an undeniable hint of fall in the air. And when the Dogs run out of the tunnel in Starkville tonight - well, I'll know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the most glorious time of year is here. It makes me smile.

And whether we win or lose, there are a few non-negotiables that go hand-in-hand with football season:

1) My sister and I will talk at least 10 times tonight. Probably more. Pretty much all it takes to prompt one of us to pick up the phone is a decent run, a first down, a solid hit, a touchdown, or an annoying announcer. We give the announcers much grief, especially when they say stuff like, "What he's hoping to do here, Bill, is score."


2) Sister and I will also be doing a lot of vacuuming. We both like to clean while we watch the Bulldogs - it's a way to channel the energy. So when things get tense - 4th downs, drives that make it inside the 10 yard line, clocks getting too close to 0:00 for our comfort - we pull out our vacuums.

I never claimed we were normal, people.

3) We'll be eating rotel dip in our house. I went to the grocery store this afternoon, and it'll be Game Day Buffet in our living room tonight, even if there are only three people "tailgating."

4) I will at some point yell so loudly that I either scare our dogs or wake up our child. I know. I should be more quiet - and I try, y'all. I do. But it is impossible for me to watch State (or any SEC team, for that matter) without getting VERY vocal. Somehow I convince myself that the players can hear me, and it makes me feel better to cheer for them specifically ("Go, Brandon! GOOOOOOO!").

Now you're sort of worried about my mental state, aren't you?

Really, I'm fine. Promise. I'm just a Southern girl who loves me some football.

5) Win or lose, I'll go to bed happy. I mean, SEC football AND rotel dip? All in one night? I'm golden.

So if you'll excuse me, I need to fry some hot sausage for that rotel dip. I'm already wearing my State t-shirt, and D. has already programmed my phone to play "Hail State" when it rings, so I think all that's left is to dig out my cowbell and commence with the ringing.

Did I mention that I'm excited?

I'll see y'all tomorrow.

Happy Football, everybody.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What (Not) To Wear

So this whole 80's fashion comeback has had me in a bit of a dither, because in addition to the fact the the clothes were (and are!) ugly, I now have to re-think what I like to call my "mama uniform" - what I wear when I'm out running errands, when I take A. to birthday parties, when I want to convey the message that "I may be a mama, but I'M STILL SASSY!"

The sad part is that when I'm not intentional about being Sassy Mama, I tend to convey the message that "i am a mama, and i have given up completely." There's not much of a happy medium with me.

When I'm Sassy Mama, I have streaky highlights in my hair - with maybe a little red thrown in on top of the blonde. I have a fun haircut with what I like to call "lots of piece-y thingies." I (try to) coordinate my clothes so that I look a little funky - yet modest and age appropriate - and I put on make-up before I leave the house. MASCARA, even.

I know!

But when I'm i've-given-up mama, I have roots that are two inches long. I begin to use my sunglasses like a headband (on a good day - mostly I just surrender to the clippy). I throw on one of David's long sleeve shirts over a pair of stretchy capri pants, and nary a trace of make-up touches my face.

SO not sassy. But SO much easier.

And therein lies my dilemma.

Sassy Mama can usually put on a pair of boot cut pants, some fun shoes, a white t-shirt and a denim jacket and look presentable. My other favorite option is a knee-length skirt and some form of cotton shirt (don't all mamas have about 15 cotton shirts? isn't that some sort of requirement for motherhood? don't they, like, take your babies away if you can't produce evidence of your cotton shirt collection?) with some fun, chunky sandals. As I told Big Mama earlier this week, flats will never, ever do. I NEED a chunky sandal to balance out my calves.

(Why, you might ask? Well, I'll tell you: because my calves are enormous. I can do four calf extensions and my calf muscles will practically ricochet out of the back of my legs. It's so bad that I can't wear boots unless there's stretchy fabric involved, and even then the boots are so tight around my calves that I lose a great deal of the circulation in my feet. Which is a problem when, you know, walking. And please understand that the substantial calf muscles have absolutely nothing to do with actual physical effort and everything to do with genetics. My daddy is 74, and his calves are RIPPED. And now this sidenote has taken on a slightly disturbing tone and I will cease with the talk of the calves.)

So anyhoo.

I was talking about what, exactly?

Oh yes. Clothes. And my dilemma.

Now that the 80's stuff is in style again, what in the world will Sassy Mama wear?

Because I can guarantee you that it won't be skinny jeans. No ma'am.

LEGGINGS? I don't think so. I mean, if I'm going to have to wear leggings and flats again, I'd just as soon resign myself to i've-given-up mode and call it a fashion-challenged day.

I guess I could start working out so that I can run around in my workout clothes and do the whole Busy-Mama-Who-Just-Left-The-Gym look.

Or! Maybe I should just BUY the workout clothes and PRETEND I've just left the gym so that I don't have to deal with putting together an 80's ensemble (or, you know, actually exercising).

Which brings me to my question (and praise the Lord for that, you're thinking): what do you wear when you're running your errands? Do you sass it up? Or do you dress it down? Or do you have the whole Busy-Mama-Who-Just-Left-The-Gym thing down pat?

And if you tell me that you're running around town in a pair of skinny jeans, my calves and I are going to be very distressed indeed.

WFMW - Recipe Swap

Okay, I confess: I'm totally stealing this idea from my friend Traci.

She had a recipe swap at her house last week, and it was so much fun - and so simple. If you like to cook and would love a fun night with "the girls," this is perfect.

Here's what she did.

She invited 12 people, and each person brought five recipes (with copies of each for everyone). Some people copied their recipe cards, some people typed all five recipes on one sheet of paper, some people printed each recipe on a separate sheet of paper (in other words, the format of the recipe is up to you) - and then Traci provided us with folders so we'd have a way to keep all the recipes organized until we got home.

But before we swapped recipes, we had dinner. We each made one of our recipes beforehand, took it to Traci's, and shared it with the group - which means we had 12 wonderful dishes to sample. Traci set up three tables - with china and crystal and placemats and flowers and everything - and the 12 of us fixed our plates, sat down, ate wonderful food, and TALKED WITHOUT BEING INTERRUPTED BY CHILDREN.

Maybe you didn't catch that last part: WE TALKED WITHOUT BEING INTERRUPTED BY CHILDREN. That alone was a little slice of heaven.

And in addition to some relaxing time with friends, I came home with fifty-five new recipes. FIFTY-FIVE!

That most definitely works for me.

For more great WFMW ideas, go see Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mighty Fine Reading

Really interesting post at The Big Trade-Off about the tendency to get a little preoccupied with what the Joneses are doing. Loved it.

Link via Heth.

And while you're clicking around, check out another great post at Mississippi Girl's. Today is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and Jennifer, who lives on the MS Gulf Coast, has written a beautiful tribute to my beloved home state.

Link via Big Mama.

Enjoy the bloggity goodness.

Grumpy McCryerson

A. woke up from his nap yesterday in such a foul mood that eventually it just got comical.

Well, to me, at least.

And I felt it my duty to take pictures.

By the way, I believe that taking photos while your child is crying makes you a finalist for Mother of the Year.

Check the rules! It's true!

(Does anyone else think that his post-nap hair looks like the lead singer from A Flock of Seagulls? I think it's a striking resemblance.)

Anyway, since hugs and kisses couldn't soothe the sleepy beast, I figured I might as well capture the misery for posterity.

And in case you're keeping score at home? That last sentence? About capturing my child's misery?

TOTALLY sealed the Mother of the Year 2006 title. Totally.

I'll just be putting on my crown and sash now....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Then Sings My Soul

One day last week I was emailing with a friend who's on the worship staff at our church, and she mentioned, sort of off-handedly, that the praise team wouldn't be singing in church Sunday because we were having a "spoken word" service.

"Spoken word" service?

I'm sorry?


Because I know I've only mentioned it, like, 74 times, but I'm a person who totally worships through music. It gets to me, way down deep, in the places that words alone have a hard time reaching.

So while I should probably be embarrassed to tell you this, I'll just go ahead and confess: I wasn't looking forward to church yesterday. I was dreading not being able to sing. I was concerned that our time in "big church," which typically runs about an hour and a half, was going to creeeeeeep by. That I would look down at my watch, convinced that we'd been there for two hours, and find that it had been more like fifteen minutes.

I was apprehensive, is what I'm sayin'.

When church started at nine, there was a bit of instrumental music. No singing. I'm pretty sure that I was jiggling my leg out of sheer discomfort. Two people walked out on the stage, and they took turns reciting - from memory - a passage from Pslams. They were followed by three more people. Who were followed by three more people. The Speakers ranged in age from about eight to about eighty - and while it took me a little while to get past being nervous for them as they recited Scripture and occasionally struggled with a word or phrase, I eventually started to soak up the Message instead of being worried for the messengers.

But I was still a little squirmy - couldn't we sing, you know, just a little bit? Just a smidge?

About that time, eight people walked down the steps at the front of the stage, and they began to recite a passage from Proverbs - only not in English. We heard part of the passage in Spanish, part in German, then Russian, French, Filipino, Swahili, Hebrew and Thai. And while I would love to be able to explain what happened in my heart during those three or four minutes - I just can't do it. Words fail me. It was an unbelievably moving reminder of the power of God's Word.

Color me surprised. :-)

Because here's the deal. I do a pretty good job of keeping God's Word hidden in my heart. I think, over the last six or seven years, I've developed an understanding of why that's so essential. I believe Him, I trust Him, I love Him, and I need His Word - all the time.

But sometimes, in worship, I get it backwards. Sometimes, in worship, I get it all wrong. Maybe it's because I find myself more interested in what we're singing than what God's saying. Maybe it's because I respond more to my emotion than I do to His Truth. Maybe it's because, in a way, I worship a god I've created instead of The God who created the universe, The God who created me.

But I'll tell you: listening to God's Word for an hour and a half has a way of snapping all that stuff right back into perspective.

So while my mouth didn't get to do any singing yesterday, my spirit did. And next week, when we sing again, I pray my focus won't be on how we worship - I pray it'll be on Who we worship. I pray that when I start to fall back into my "OH I LOVE THIS SONG" tendency, that the Holy Spirit would prick my heart and remind me that without the One who first loved us, there would be no song to sing.

And I missed the music yesterday. I really did.

But, in this particular instance, taking away the music enabled me to hear the message - and The Message - loud and clear.

Just Because It's My Church And I Like It

Two quick things going on at my church that might interest some of you who work in ministry, or some of you whose husbands work in ministry, or some of you who just like to read about ministry (and well, since as believers we're ALL in ministry, I guess this is for everyone): :-)

1) Yesterday's sermon - click on the MP3 file for 8/27/06. It is a bold proclamation - especially in our current culture - about why God's Word should always be the center of our worship. It'll make you squirm a little bit - at least it did me - because it's STRONG, and that's a good thing (another post to follow on the fact that we had NO MUSIC ON PURPOSE yesterday, and OH MY SWEET GOODNESS I was a nervous wreck for the first 10 minutes). :-)

2) I think this is one of the coolest ideas evah - and nothing comfortable about it. Click around and look at all the links - who said a 28 year old senior pastor at a megachurch can't bring it on? :-)

And y'all really don't have to comment on this post...I'm just providing the links because some of you might be interested. Y'all are so sweet that you comment even if I say "corn" and nothing else - but don't feel obligated. Really. Just enjoy the links.

I'll be back in a little while with another post because I don't know if I mentioned it or not but WE DIDN'T HAVE MUSIC AT CHURCH YESTERDAY!*

See y'all in a bit.

*And much to my surprise, it was a good thing.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Body

This post of Toni's sent me straight into the ugly cry.

It's a reminder of the beauty in sacrifice and surrender.

It's The Great Commission in action.

And now I'm going to go read it again.

See you there.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

First, Some Questions

Did I ever tell y'all the story about the time I ran into Kevin, one of the ministers at my church, at the park?

And how we'd never met before, but the previous weekend he'd preached a sermon that blew David and me away?

And how, when we met at the park, we talked for about an hour while our kids played?

And how I thought The Meeting In The Park was a total God thing because I had been praying about starting a food ministry at our church, and I told Kevin all about it that morning?

And how Kevin and David became great friends?

And how his wife Traci and I became great friends?

And how their son and Alex squeal with glee when they're together?

And how they're some of our favorite people in the whole wide world?

And how the food ministry has been great and all, but God was actually setting the wheels in motion for something else that morning? Something way bigger?

And how, about a year and a half after I met Kevin in the park, Emma Kate and Brad, along with some folks from their small group that had been praying about a church plant in Tupelo, visited our church to meet with some of the founding members (see item number four on this post) because they felt like they needed to seek some wise counsel?

And how Kevin - whom EK had never met though she had heard me talk about him a bunch since he and Traci are our, you know, friends - said a prayer at the end of the service that touched EK so deeply that when she told me about it, she cried?

And how EK and Brad and company went home and could not get Kevin off of their hearts?

And how, when I wrote this post, Kevin and Traci were the "other friends" who were coming to supper because EK and Brad were TOTALLY convicted that they were supposed to talk to them about the burden God had put on their hearts for a new church in their town?

And how, back in May, I wrote this?
"[EK and Brad] truly believe that for this [church plant] to come to fruition, they must first have God's man. They have the resources to attract someone of the highest caliber, but obviously God has to turn that man's heart toward Tupelo."
And how God has in fact given them His man?

And how Kevin and Traci and their children are moving to Tupelo?

Because Kevin is going to be the pastor for The Church at Trace Crossing, which is the church that God had just begun to birth in EK's and Brad's hearts that Saturday when Kevin and I just "happened" to run into each other at the park?


That's a good story.

And there's a whole lot more of it to tell.


Friday, August 25, 2006

A Puzzling Post If Ever There Was One

Today I was on the phone with Emma Kate while A. and I were running some errands (two-for-one big foil pans at Party City! FIFTY CENTS A PIECE! I will sleep the sleep of angels tonight.), and suddenly she said, "OH! MISSY! I checked your blog earlier. And you're falling behind! There's no post for Friday!"

So apparently I have deadlines now. Per my editor Emma Kate. :-)

But the truth is that it's just been one of those days where I started writing posts 2 or 3 times and sort of lost the will. I've had a hard time finding my bloggity flow, which is in fact an Official Blogging Term. You can find it in BooMama's Blogging Dictionary.

Or at least you could if BooMama's Blogging Dictionary actually, you know, existed.


I have a story to tell.

But you know how when God does something really big, it's almost intimidating to tell what He's done because you don't think you can do it justice?

I actually started writing a post about it all on June 28 - before there was any clear ending in sight - and here I sit, two months later, astonished by how everything has played out, but I still can't GIT IT LIKE I LIKE IT. :-)

So I'm going to bed. And hopefully sleeping late. Because I'm tired. And tomorrow, I will start afresh.

Because the story? It's a good 'un. :-) And it really has nothing to do with me...I've just been privileged to watch from the sidelines.

And speaking of sidelines, only one week until college football.

Which is totally unrelated.

But important to me nonetheless.

See? I told you I was tired. :-)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things That Have Brightened My Week

1. Alex waking up from his nap, looking at me, grabbing my face with both of his little hands and saying, “HEY SWEET THING. I MISSED YOU.”

2. "Project Runway" - it’s the fastest moving 60 minutes on television, and watching creative people in action makes me happy.

3. Keeping secrets. I love keeping secrets. However, there is one VERY exciting secret that I won’t have to keep for much longer. Well, actually, I don't have to keep it a secret right now, or else I wouldn't have given you that hint, but I DO want to have just the right words for it when I finally tell the tale(and don’t even ask me if I’m pregnant. I couldn’t be less pregnant if I tried).

4. This post of Lori’s – which made me laugh out loud.

5. This post of Big Mama’s – which also made me laugh out loud.

6. Tonight I’m going to a recipe swap. With a bunch of girls. And we’ll get to eat samples of the recipes. And talk a whole bunch with no kids around. Can you tell I’m excited?

7. The new camera came in today...and I am like a kid at Christmas. I didn't get the SLR - it just seemed like more than I could handle. So here's the winner.

8. Emails from Sarah. Always late at night, always funny, and always encouraging.

9. Alex was coming up the basement stairs a few nights ago, and he fell and busted his lip. Once we got all the blood cleaned up and he calmed down, he looked at me with those big blue eyes and said, “Mama. I ate my lip.” And then he threw his head on my shoulder and cried while my heart exploded into millions of tiny pieces.

10. A friend of ours started a blog. It has something to do with #3. Soon – very soon – there will be much linkage for you to enjoy.

11. In the mornings, if you tilt your head just right, you can sense a hint of fall in the air. Just a hint. And only for a second. But it’s there.

12. HolyMama! posted a link to this video a couple of weeks ago – and it cracks me up so much that I can’t quit watching it. I’ve tried, but I can’t. Intervention, anyone?

13. Philippians 2:1-7 and Philippians 3:7-11 - seems like I can't read these two verses enough lately. As our pastor likes to say: "The Word is gooood." :-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Proof That Skinny Isn't Always A Good Thing

Yesterday I mentioned a “long and pointless” dream about my friend Elise that I shared via email with a couple of my college friends. Without going into all the details, I’ll just point out that Elise, in my dream, was dressed in some for-real 80’s finery, all the way down to a spiffy pair of red Connie flats. Oh yes ma’am she was.

My friend Melanie immediately responded to my email and said, “You do know that the 80's ARE BACK. This might not have been a dream but a premonition of things to come. If we are supposed to do skinny jeans and leggings (which I'm not happy about) then why not cuffed walking shorts and red flats. I bet I could find some red plastic earrings to match.”

I thought long and hard about Melanie's email. Then I pondered Big Mama's post that she wrote a few weeks ago about this very issue. And my conclusion?

We have a problem, y’all.

I feel that I can speak with a certain degree of authority on this topic because I am a child of the 80's. I watched the premiere of "Thriller" on MTV, I saw every movie that Molly Ringwald ever made, and I used so much Paul Mitchell Freeze N Shine on my bangs in 1988 that a specific portion of the ozone layer boasts a plaque bearing my name. In addition, I memorized the entire sountrack of "St. Elmo's Fire," I recorded every single episode of "Moonlighting," and I arrived at college wearing a pair of acid washed jeans.

Oh yes I did.

So I feel pretty qualified to say that this whole resurgence of 80’s fashion? It makes no sense at all. Because DID NOBODY NOTICE HOW UGLY THE CLOTHES WERE THE FIRST TIME AROUND?

I mean, I know we thought we were all cute and girls-just-wanna-have-fun-ish at the time, what with our leggings under our short skirts and our oversized v-neck sweaters from The Limited (oh, ‘fess up. you know you wore one with your neon stirrup pants back in 1989. you know you did). But in retrospect? We were all guilty parties in what can only be described as a fashion tragedy.

And wearing skinny jeans was a first degree offense.

Because while I can see the humor in lots of my 80's antics, I just can't, under any circumstances, find the humor (or value) in a pair of skinny jeans. They're the most hateful of all the 80’s trends, in my opinion. The only thing worse is acid washed skinny jeans, which as far as I'm concerned is proof that the devil is real and at work and intent on stealing our joy.

(WHICH REMINDS ME. Some of my male college buddies who regularly read this blog-o-mine under the cover of secret SO used to tightroll their jeans. Out of respect for the offenders' wives and children, as well as for the sake of their careers within your various and sundry Corridors of Power, I will not disclose their identities. But they know who they are.)

So I am resolved: I will cling to the boot cut jean with everything in me. I will stand firm against the possibility of denim hugging my admittedly substantial calves and then TAPERING DOWN toward my ankles. I will rebuke anything that even remotely resembles “tightrolling."

And in conclusion, I'm not wearing red Connie flats and you can't make me.

Because if the 80's are in, I guess I'll have to be out. I just can't walk down the acid washed road again.

WFMW - Quick, Delicious Appetizer

Since several people enjoyed the recipes for the shrimp casserole and the salad, here's my favorite appetizer.

Be forewarned that this dish contains the Southern Triumverate of butter, mayonnaise, and sharp cheddar cheese, and also be forewarned that if you're going to try to make it less of a threat to your arteries by using low-fat mayonnaise and whatnot, the result will most likely be, as my mama would say, "not fittin' to eat."

Go big or go home. That's all I'm sayin'. :-)

Vidalia Onion Dip
modified from Come On In

3 or 4 large Vidalia onions (any sweet onion will do)
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce or 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Saute' onions in butter until they cry uncle (in other words, until they're completely soft). Add Tabasco and garlic powder as onions are cooking. Once the onions are transparent, combine them with remaining ingredients and bake in a buttered casserole dish at 375 for 25 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

And here's another tip: salt and pepper your favorite fresh fish filet. Put about 3 tablespoons of this dip on top of each piece of fish. Squeeze lemon juice over all. Bake as you normally would - and the dip will make the fish so moist and tender that you won't believe it. The dip will also rob the fish of any redeeming nutritional value, so it's a win / win for all!

Enjoy, everybody.

And for more great Works For Me Wednesday ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer. She's a good Southern girl, and I bet she likes mayonnaise, too. :-)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Heart Of The Matter

So I haven’t written much about Elise the last couple of weeks because since a lot of y’all know what happened, I almost feel like if I mention her at all on the blawg I have to be all solemn-like and refer to her as Elise-one-of-my-best-friends-whose-husband-just-died.

Which practically rolls off of the tongue. And CERTAINLY is what she prefers to be called.

But the truth of the matter is that this morning I had a delightful exchange of emails with Elise-one-of-my-best-friends-whose-husband-just-died and several other friends. The whole thing started because Melanie wanted to know if anyone was planning to be in Baton Rouge for the MSU / LSU game in September, and well, yes I am, but as Melanie pointed out, the game is at 11 in the morning in THE HOTTEST PLACE ON EARTH, and quite frankly I’m not sure my delicate constitution (ahem) can handle that kind of heat, not to mention the scorching power of a thousand fiery suns.

Long story long, I ended up emailing the girls a tale of a long and pointless - though somewhat entertaining - dream I had about Elise last night, and suffice it to say that the dream reveals a great deal about the state of my (admittedly disturbed) mind, the history of our friendship, not to mention the deep and lasting emotional scars that are, I feel, a direct result of prolonged exposure to and experimentation with the fashions of the late 1980's.

And the dream made E. laugh. That's a mighty good thing.

So anyway. Our email exchange was a great way to start the day, and right before lunchtime I got another email from E., one I assumed had something to do with All The Wackiness of the morning. But instead, it was a story that will get forwarded and FW: and Fwd: until it’s just worn out, bless its heart. But because it came from Elise-one-of-my-best-friends-whose-husband-just-died, and because she hasn’t been emailing very much lately, I paid attention. I read the story.

And after I finished it, I knew exactly why she sent it:

"Tomorrow morning," the surgeon began, "I'll open up your heart..."

"You'll find Jesus there," the boy interrupted.

The surgeon looked up, annoyed. "I'll cut your heart open," he continued, "to see how much damage has been done..."

"But when you open up my heart, you'll find Jesus in there," said the boy.

The surgeon looked to the parents, who sat quietly. "When I see how much damage has been done, I'll sew your heart and chest back up, and I'll plan what to do next."

"But you'll find Jesus in my heart. The Bible says He lives there. The hymns all say He lives there. You'll find Him in my heart."

The surgeon had had enough. "I'll tell you what I'll find in your heart. I'll find damaged muscle, low blood supply, and weakened vessels. And I'll find out if I can make you well."

"You'll find Jesus there too. He lives there."

The surgeon left.

The surgeon sat in his office, recording his notes from the surgery: "...damaged aorta, damaged pulmonary vein, widespread muscle degeneration. No hope for transplant, no hope for cure. Therapy: painkillers and bed rest. Prognosis…” – and here he paused – “…death within one year.”

He stopped the recorder, but there was more to be said.

"Why?" he asked aloud. "Why did You do this? You've put him here; You've put him in this pain; and You've cursed him to an early death. Why?"

The Lord answered and said, "The boy, My lamb, was not meant for your flock for long, for he is a part of My flock, and will forever be. Here, in My flock, he will feel no pain, and will be comforted as you cannot imagine. His parents will one day join him here, and they will know peace, and My flock will continue to grow."

The surgeon's tears were hot, but his anger was hotter. "You created that boy. He’ll be dead in months. Why?"

The Lord answered, "The boy, My lamb, shall return to My flock, for He has done his duty: I did not put My lamb with your flock to lose him, but to retrieve another lost lamb."

The surgeon wept.

Later, the surgeon sat beside the boy's bed; the boy's parents sat across from him. The boy awoke and whispered, "Did you cut open my heart?"

"Yes," said the surgeon.

"What did you find?" asked the boy.

"I found Jesus there," said the surgeon.
I cried a whole bunch when I read that.

I think it's one of the sweetest things I've ever read.

And E., I love you very much.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Help Me, Internets!

Okay. I'm trying to pick out a digital camera.

I know nothing - NOTHING - about fstops or apertures or whatnot. In fact, I'm only somewhat certain that those are actual photography terms, in which case the usage of those possibly pretend terms would be an enormous step out on my part.


I need to be able to point and shoot, but I want enough megapixels so that I can print 8 x 10's or bigger and they'll still look crystal clear and not all pixellated-y. Which I believe is an official photography term. (Faith, back me up.) :-)

And no need to tell me that I can't live without some form of EOS blah de blah blah, because you know all those little things on a lens you have to move around in order to make good pictures? I don't have any idea what they're for. All they enable me to do, really, is to look like I know what I'm doing when I take pictures. But then I see the actual pictures and remember oh yeah, I'm not really a photographer after all, or else I wouldn't have all these blurry shots of people's feet.

In short, I want a digital camera that will enable me to take pictures real purty-like and then make real purty-like prints. In the past I've enjoyed a brand that rhymes with SHANNON, but I'm not terribly brand loyal.

Suggestions? Do you have a camera you love? Or one that you DON'T love so that I know what to avoid?

What I Did On My Summer Blogcation

Hello, how are you, I bought you a blouse.*

First of all I should probably come clean and tell you that I didn't TOTALLY unplug. I read some things. Some blogs. Several blogs. Okay, I read many, many blogs. But I didn't comment. Except on Jeana's. Because NOT commenting on this post of Jeana's would have been like hearing a preacher totally get after it and then leaving him hanging without a single "amen." So I commented. ONCE.

(By the way, one day I'm going to grow up and be all smart like Jeana. And I will offer my opinions convincingly and intelligently and y'all will be all "oooooh" and "SNAP." But until that happens, I'll just keep talking about catfish and bacon and poo. Every blogger has her niche, you know.)

So, other than my brief comment at Jeana's, I didn't put any pressure on myself to "interact" with people - I just enjoyed what I was reading. And, as a result, I was able to read a whole bunch of stuff over the course of about 45 minutes, which I think is a pretty, you know, normal amount of time to spend on the computer every evening. Because the interweb hours that I've been logging lately? A little bit more than 45 minutes a night.

And then! You won't believe it!

I actually TURNED OFF the computer when I watched television, and I didn't write anything at all for 24 hours. That might not seem like much to you, but for me it's a record as of late - if I don't write SOMETHING every day I start to feel all fuzzy in the head. I even talked on the phone (Robin, are you proud?) and cleaned like crazy and washed clothes and made many, many PlayDoh creations with the little man. And I got the house back to the point where it feels like a home for our family instead of a repository for wayward toys.

So the break, it was good.

I even made up with the voicemail.

Leave me messages! Leave me many messages! And I will listen!

More later today....

*Do you know the movie? If you're family or Todd, I KNOW you do - so let the other bloggy friends guess. :-)

Friday, August 18, 2006


Every once in awhile I rebel against technology. That doesn't mean that I boycott it totally, because HOW WOULD I LIVE if I did, so instead I direct all my techy frustration toward one particular thing. I'll decide for awhile that I'm not interested in checking email, or I'm not going to carry my cell phone, or I'm not going to surf the internet. Or, in the case of the last couple of weeks, that I'm not going to check my voicemail.

Voicemail is really, really on my nerves.

Because I feel pulled in about 65 different directions right now, voicemail is something that I feel like I can control. I can look at the blinking red light on our phone at home - AND IGNORE IT. I can pull out my cell phone, see the words "New voice mail" - AND IGNORE IT. I'm not saying that it's a practical solution. I'm not even saying that it makes sense. But it makes me feel better.

Now please don't misunderstand - I don't know many people who love techy things more than I do. I can spend hours tweaking my blog template, answering emails, writing blog posts, talking on my cell phone, clicking through the TiVo. I like things that beep. I love pushing buttons (literally - not so much figuratively). But every once in awhile I start to feel so "connected" that I have to pull the plug on something. And for the last couple of weeks, that something has been voicemail. (I am returning people's calls, though, because thanks to caller ID, I know who called even when I don't listen to messages. Lesson: there's no escaping the phone.)

David and I had a little, um, discussion (read: argument) this morning because he feels like it's irresponsible of me to not listen to messages. He says that there could be a message that someone died and we wouldn't know - and while I think that's probably a little extreme, I see his point.. And maybe it IS irresponsible of me. However, I think we can pretty conclusively deduce that, whether it's a result of irresponsibility or, you know, STRESS, I'm feeling a little overloaded right now. OTHERWISE I WOULDN'T BE IGNORING THE VOICEMAIL.

All that to say: I'm going to unplug for a few days. From everything. Except for my family.

And in the irony department, this morning I pulled my cell phone out of my purse - and I had six (!) missed calls and three new messages. One message was from Bubba, with whom I've been engaged in a record-setting round of phone tag, and two messages were from Emma Kate, who was concerned that 1) I hadn't answered her email from earlier in the afternoon and 2) she hadn't talked to me all day and was wondering if everything was okay. I couldn't help but laugh.

So yes, I'm okay. And yes, I'm unplugging. I'm sure I'll make some phone calls; I'm sure I'll do some writing; but I'm taking the fact that my husband and I had AN ARGUMENT ABOUT VOICEMAIL to mean that things may be a little too tech-heavy in our house right now. I'm thinking that maybe voicemail won't stress me out so much if I take care of some of the things in my house that do not beep and ring. Like furniture that needs to be dusted and magazines that need to be read and food that needs to be cooked. You know, Ye Olden Hobbies.

And in the meantime, if you're looking for something to do around here, the archives over there in the sidebar are chock-full-o-posts. I'll even recommend a few:

The One That Reflects My Current State Of Mind
The One That I Need To Read Right Now
The One That Reminds Me That Blog-Wise, I'm Fit As A Fiddle
The One That Reminds Me What Really Matters
...and, finally, the one that has changed how I feel about the word "Vlasic" forever...
The One With The Misunderstanding

See y'all in a few.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Banner by Kelly

Thirteen Posts I've Enjoyed A Whole Bunch Lately

This list could've gone on...and on...and on...

1) Toni's post about a trip with friends

2) BigMama's post about her friend Gulley's grandmother

3) Barb's post about her addiction

4) Kelli's post about some challenges that she's facing

5) Diane's post about how and why she blogs

6) Antique Mommy's post about a trip to Tuna

7) Mary at Owlhaven's post about sending her oldest to college (grab a tissue. or two.)

8) Robin's post about why caller ID alone just isn't enough

9) Lauren's post about blogging breaks

10) Shalee's post about forming community via blogging

11) Melanie's post that is the essence of All Things Southern

12) Addie's post that contains the funniest line I've ever read in my whole life ever (see the meme)

13) And of course I could link to Sarah and Shannon, but I think every single person who reads here also reads them. So you're probably all caught up with them, but if you're not - GO.

Seriously, I could have listed 20 more posts - I rattled this list off the top of my head (I HAVE AN ADDICTION, SIR) - so look for part 2 next Thursday...for real. :-)

Publish Or Perish?

Lately I've had a few email conversations about The Whole Blogging Thing. And inevitably, the question of books comes up - not what book we're reading, mind you, but if we want to write a book of our own.

It's an interesting topic to me for several reasons.

But before I get into why it's so interesting to me, I want to be very clear: I have no intention of writing a book. I am not a book writer. It's hard for me to even describe myself as a writer, period, because I still have that very graduate school-esque notion of how a writer spends her day: sitting in a coffee shop, typing like a madwoman, sipping on a no-fat soy vanilla latte, wearing lots of flowing (hand-knit) scarves while trying to contain her long, naturally curly hair with a clip that can't possibly hold all the lustrous auburn ringlets, constantly pushing hair off her forehead, trying to finish chapter 9, eagerly anticipating that in two hours her musician boyfriend will pick her up on his motorcycle so that they can go drink wine and admire the sunset from her spacious but cozy beachhouse that she's in the process of remodeling.

Not that I've created a stereotype in my head. Or anything.

Now I realize that it's not an accurate perception on my part...I know that there are lots of women who work on their writing while simultaneously taking care of their families and shuttling their kids around and holding down a full-time job outside of the home. And I would most definitely consider those women - who have ambition and purpose connected to their writing - as writers. I just don't consider myself as one. Remember, I am annoyingly literal, yet I realize that the sentence before this one is probably fodder for an entire day of therapy, because obviously I DO write, and obviously I DO put what I write "out there," yet I would never, ever, ever ever ever describe myself as a "writer." Ever.

Okay. Anyway. Here's the part that fascinates me (she says, diverting attention from her strange curious psychological make-up).

I know there are a lot of bloggers who are hoping to get published. Who are working on novels. Who are in the process of editing novels. Who go to writers' workshops. Who stay in contact with publishers. I think all those things are wonderful - and I have great admiration for women who can juggle all that they do and still make time for Serious Writing Business.

And I wonder: is blogging, for you, a means to an end? Is it a way to get exposure as a "for real" writer and ultimately get published? Can you be a "for real" writer if blogging is all that you do? In other words: is blogging in and of itself enough for you? Would you be disappointed if, say, three or four years down the road, your blog is functioning just as it is right now?

Keep in mind that I'm asking myself these questions, too - because the truth of the matter is that if I didn't like for people to read what I've written, I could very easily keep all my silly little essay-things in a Microsoft Word file, store them on my hard drive, and call it a day.

But I don't.

I write stuff (BUT I'M NOT A "WRITER" OH SWEET MERCY NO). And I put it on the INTERNET. Where people read it. Which makes me think that I'm kidding myself, just a little bit, if I try to claim that this blawg is just something I do for family and friends. I think it's gone a little past that with me.

Does anyone else wonder about this stuff?

And if you think I'm crazy, please don't tell me. The whole "writer" label has me in enough of a tizzy as it is.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Shoot, I Score!

While Alex seems to have mastered the, um, liquid aspect of potty training, the, um, other aspect is proving a bit more challenging. And of course by "challenging" I mean "I could pull out every single increasingly gray hair in my head from frustration."

As I nearly did yesterday afternoon.

And since A. generally gets terribly upset when he has an accident - resulting in your basic teeth-gnashing and garden-variety wailing - I usually have to calm him down a bit before I can inspect the, well, severity of the accident "site," as it were.

Which I will not be describing in detail. Because I care about you.

So after yesterday's sobbing subsided, I told A. to stand right. where. he. was. I was fearful that if he started to walk, the contents would, er, dislodge, and I'd have an entirely different kind of mess on my hands (not to mention my floors). I managed to move A. over to a towel I'd spread out while I gently - gently! - pulled off his underwear.

Underwear safely removed, I gently - gently! - made my way toward the bathroom. To, you know, dispose of some stuff. I was cradling those underoos like I was carrying fine china on a silver tray, and I can say in all honesty that I've never been so intent on not touching "china" in my life.

But it probably won't surprise you, given my long history of grace and poise, that I tripped about two feet away the commode.

It never ceases to amaze me that, in times of duress, seconds seem to stretch on for hours, and the human brain can process several - lo, many - pieces of information in a very short span of time.

My brain, as it turned out, honed in on three critical facts:

1) Oh sweet lordy, I tripped.
2) Oh sweet lordy, I'm carrying poo.

And in a moment that would certainly be featured on SportsCenter if cameras had been in place and if I hadn't been juggling, you know, DOO-DOO, I recovered in such a way that I in fact propelled the substance in question straight into the commode.

Like a lay-up. Or something.

You would probably feel really sorry for me if I told you that the flushing sounded like wild applause, so I won't tell you that part. But I think you would've clapped if you had seen my mad skillz in action.

By the way, as I was "taking it to the hoop," the underwear never left my hands and protected me from the poo like a shield, which probably had something to do with the fact that Batman's picture was all over them. Poo-repelling is one of Batman's lesser-known powers, apparently.

And thus concludes Episode #3,293 of Things I Never Experienced Before Motherhood.

The joy, it would seem, is unending.

WFMW - 5-Minute Salad

Since several people mentioned that they liked the recipe for the easiest casserole in the free world last week, I thought that this week I'd share a salad recipe that I use a lot. It takes about 5 minutes to put together, and it looks really, really pretty when you serve it.

2 hearts of romaine, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup diced red onion (cut off a quarter of the onion, run it through your vegetable chopper, throw it on the lettuce)
1 cup broccoli florets (buy them in a bag if you're in a pinch time-wise)
2 cans mandarin oranges, chilled and drained (I keep my mandarin oranges in the refrigerator so they're always at the ready)
1 1/2 cups chow mein noodles (I use LaChoy)

(This apparently is the post of Many Parentheses.)

(You don't have to use the parentheses when you make the salad.)


Anyway, the colors are beautiful next to each other, and if I'm taking the salad somewhere I'll arrange the oranges and chow mein noodles all pretty-like. :-)

Best of all, this salad is great with any dressing - Ranch, vinaigrette, Italian, etc. - you can use whatever you have on hand.

Works for me!

For more great WFMW ideas, go see Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

For Your Bloggy Information

Jeana is asking some really interesting questions about people's perceptions of and reactions to homeschooling (with some strong observations about people's reactions to large families, too). The discussion starts here and continues here.

Great bloggy food for thought over there. I love how Jeana takes on topics that don't have easy answers, and she does so with grace and sensitivity and humor.

Go look. You'll like. I surely do.

The Child, He Just Keeps Teaching Me

The little man has developed a new trick!


I'm so not ready for it.

I've only noticed it in the last week or so, though he may have been arguing long before that, but it's been so hot that I have struggled being, you know, observant. Because, I mean, if it's a matter of staying cool or paying attention to my child's behavioral trends, I don't think it's a big shock to any of us that I'll just be nudging that thermostat down a little bit if you don't mind 'cause it's getting a little stuffy in here.

So yes, back to the arguing. Basically (and seriously, now), here's the drill: about six times out of ten, if I say, "no," - to anything, really - his reply is, "But I say 'yes'!"

And then my head spins on its axis four times before the fury of middle earth erupts and I hiss dementedly that as inconvenient as a trip to time out might be, it's far better than remaining in the room with me. Who's about to lose it.

I'll explain.

You know how there are some people who can't take the sound of a crying baby? For whatever reason, that never bothered me. I have some strange ability to block out the crying, to not even notice it, really, unless it's 3 in the morning. Because if it's 3 in the morning, a feather could fall from one of Alex's pillows and hit the carpet in his bedroom ever-so-gently and I'd pop out of the bed like a cannon. It's a funny thing, the sensory experience of motherhood.

But just like some people can't handle repetitive high-pitched wailing, I can't handle sass. CANNOT. So this whole Talking Back Adventure - it makes me crazy. It shoots my blood pressure into the stratosphere, and I suddenly find that those people who suggest that you count to 10 before correcting your child's behavior - well, they're pretty much genius smarty pants people. Or something. Because if I DIDN'T count? If I just jumped straight into the disciplinary waters? It wouldn't be pretty, my friends. What it would be is Meltdown Central, ALL DAY LONG.

For me. Not the child.

But wait! There's a lesson!

A couple of days ago, after Time Out #14, after I was up to my ears in frustration because the child, he would not listen, it occurred to me, in a Big Gigantor Moment-O-Humility, that I'm really no different. That while I may have gotten to an age where I don't talk back to my parents, necessarily, I do talk back to God all the time.

All the time.

Only with me, it's not so much rebellious words - it's rebellious actions. It's selfishness. It's my arrogant belief that even though God is clearly moving me in a certain direction, even though I know and trust that He has my best interest at heart, even though I'm 36 years old and totally get the concept that obedience brings blessing - I (figuratively) stomp my foot, put my hands on my hips, and say, "NO! I'll do it this way! THIS WAY!"

And I wonder if maybe that's one reason why A.'s behavior of late bothers me so much, if maybe that's one reason why his defiance shoots my pulse rate up to 492. Because really, when I see him acting like that, it's sort of like looking in the mirror. And not liking what I see.

There's probably more truth in those last two sentences than I care to admit.

But you know what? There's a little hope in that analogy, at least for me. Because I know in my heart of hearts that God's grace and mercy know no limits. They're boundless. Free for the asking. And knowing that truth convicts me of the fact that I need to be on my knees, every single day, asking God for the strength and the wisdom to parent with intention, so that when Alex looks at his daddy and me, he sees the same picture: two people who want for his heart to be obedient, for his will to be lined up with ours, and for him to see - so clearly - that we love him deeply, endlessly, unconditionally. For A. to see two people who have grace and mercy to spare - and who extend it, liberally, to him.

That's not to say that Alex's behavior won't require discipline. Of course it will. Sometimes consequences are our greatest teachers. But I need to remember - so I'm reminding myself right now - that there is absolutely no reason that those consequences can't be administered with grace and mercy and patience and love. Because, quite honestly, I can't think of a single instance in my life when God has handled me any differently - stubborn though I may be.

And the trip down the long road to humility, it continues....

Monday, August 14, 2006

Just Because I Think It's Funny

It's long, granted - but oh, Sweeneys - how I miss thee.

p.s. Sorry if y'all subscribe via a feedreader and got a "missing post" error - I was trying to post another video, but ultimately decided it might not be "family friendly" enough. :-) Just FYI.

Some Unfinished Business

Here in the South we're pretty big on manners. You can call us old-fashioned, and that's okay - because we are. And we like it that way.

When I was growing up, there were, as far as my mama was concerned, some hard and fast etiquette non-negotiables: saying "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am," greeting people - especially elders - with a smile and a "how are you," and writing thank you notes that not only mentioned the specific gift but also enumerated all possible uses of it. You know, something like this:
"Dear Mrs. Vandingham -

Thank you so much for the beautiful Eternal salad plate that you gave David and me for our wedding. I cannot wait to use it to serve my mama's great broccoli salad, and who knows? I may even get daring and try a homemade Caesar. And with all the baking I do, I know your gift will be used to serve countless pieces of homemade lemon pound cake. We are so grateful for your thoughtfulness, and we appreciate you sharing in our joy during this most memorable time.

Love, S.
Side note: when D. and I got married, I actually got a thank you note for a thank you note I'd written. I don't think David's mother has ever been more proud. :-)

Over the last four or five weeks I've had a lot of people ask me if I have been "freaked out" by the increase in readers here at my blawg. And initially, yeah, I was. If you can imagine having a certain amount of people stop by for six or seven months, and then suddenly, over the course of a couple of days, you have that traffic times ten - and it doesn't go away - it's a little overwhelming. It's one thing to put your life and your family's life "out there" when you have a pretty good idea of who all is reading. It feels different somehow when you don't necessarily know everybody and - here's the strangest but nicest part for me - those people you don't know start saying really kind things about what you're writing. I'd gotten pretty used to the notion that no one would ever find my blog unless I was the one to tell them about it - so the very idea that you're sitting there right now, reading this - well, it blows my mind just a little bit.

Because did nobody bother to tell you that I'm a GOOB?

All that to say: I'm okay with the numbers now. I really am. It doesn't even freak me out anymore. And if people stop reading, that'll be okay, too. Because, really, the blogging thing has been good at every single stage - even back when I was begging people to comment.

And also to say that, given my Southern tradition, I've been a little remiss with something:

Dear Stranger Friend - (hey. that's you.)

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to stop by my little corner of the interweb. I should probably apologize in advance for my excessive use of coordinating conjunctions, my dependency on sentence fragments for effect, and the inexact nature of my diction (see "stuff," "a lot," "things," etc.). Which reminds me: I can't promise that you'll always read the most finely crafted sentences when you visit here, but you will always see my heart.

It's sort of a work-in-progress, the BLAWG, and there's probably way too much talk of pickles and catfish for anyone's taste, but, well, it's home. Virtually, of course. So put your feet up. Have a diet Coke. Sit a spell. And know that you're welcome anytime.

I pray Philippians 2:1-11 will always be the order of the day 'round here. And I'm grateful - SO grateful - for the privilege of sharing in just a little bitty part of your life. You know, the bloggy part. :-)

Love, S.

Happy Monday, everybody!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Afternoon Announcements

1) GiBee at Kisses of Sunshine has started a great new way for all of us to recognize excellence in blogging. If you've ever read a post and thought, "Gosh, that was dead on," or "Oh. I fear I just wet my pants," or "Hmmmm...that was flat-out excellent," then you need to let GiBee know about it. She will periodically be handing out Awards of Excellence, and I think it's a wonderful idea because 1) it's encouraging, just as GiBee is and 2) it can spotlight some lesser-known blogs that have great content.

So the next time you run across an outstanding post or a great blog in general, let GiBee know about it. The guidelines for the awards are on her blog.

And even if you don't have a nomination, stop by GiBee's anyway - she's a hoot. :-)

2) Because it's never too early to start planning for Christmas, and because it's so burning up hot that it does me some good to think about cold weather, I want to let y'all know that the BooMama Holiday Tour of Homes will be Friday, December 15, 2006. I still have to do a sidebar button (I don't think that it's necessary to have one yet since it's, you know, AUGUST and all), but I know that we women like to plan ahead and get things penciled in on our calendars and allot plenty of time for the task at hand. So you have a little over four months to get ready. I think that should be fair warning. :-)

Also, if you have any suggestions for what pictures we can feature this time, please let me know...I think the tree is pretty much a given, but I'm open to whatever suggestions you might have.

And I'll go ahead and put this bit-o-information out there: please pretty please don't use my humble little blog to generate traffic to yours unless you're a person who sincerely wants to participate by sharing your home with us.

3) It occurred to me today that we are getting very, very close to football season. And that I've never blogged during football season before. And that I may drive you crazy with all my talk of football because I. LOVE. IT. Are any of you college football fans, perchance? And if you are, what's your favorite team?

Me? My favorite team?

Go 'Dogs. :-)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Next Up: Tie-Dying!

Now I'm sure that based on some of my previous posts about food, y'all probably think that I get up every morning and immediately begin the process of deep frying biscuits for my family.

That assumption really couldn't be farther from the truth, because deep frying is a labor-intensive process, and what I really do is saute' the biscuit dough in a stick of butter and then roll it around in some cheese before I begin the actual frying. I find that the fat content of cheese remains completely intact when it's surrounded by a layer of butter and then sealed with peanut oil.

Try it and see! And tell your cardiologist that BooMama sent you!

Seriously, despite the fact that my cooking does have a strong Southern bent (potatoes with cream cheese, cheddar cheese AND sour cream, anyone?), I do enjoy some foods that are, you know, healthy. Like berries. And vegetables. And, in the surprising-for-a-Southern-girl category, granola.

I know! Can you believe it? And I don't even put it in a cobbler or anything!

Anyway, last night I was clicking through some recipes, trying to find something breakfast-y to make because tomorrow is my Sunday to cook for our praise team and band (use the words "chancel choir" and "orchestra" if the thought of DRUMS IN CHURCH makes you twitch), and I always like to do something on the lighter side for them. Since they have to sing in front of the congregation, I try to fix foods that will result in the least amount of, um, gastric disturbance possible, because there's nothing quite like a monster belch straight into a microphone to bring the worship party to a screeching halt, now is there?

Can I get an amen?*

And much to my surprise, on my quest for light but hearty breakfast foods, I found a recipe for granola, which I had no idea you could make at home. No idea.

I don't know why it never occurred to me that I could combine oats and fruit and nuts and seeds and bind them together with honey and wheat germ in the confines of my own kitchen, but it didn't. Somehow I always pictured little hippie elves harvesting the granola from some magical granola tree (in California, of course), and in my limited imagination the elves would be wearing Birkenstocks and saying things like "DUDE. These dried cranberries are righteous!" and then they'd load their Volkswagen van with their granola goodness and make deliveries to grocery stores (albeit small mom and pop ones - and most definitely the ones with an organic bent) nationwide while the "Hair" soundtrack played in the background.

Because that's practical. And realistic. And all.

So today I'm venturing into unchartered food territory. I'm making granola. This event may not be noteworthy to most of y'all, but I have lived in the South all of my life, and we typically don't fool with grains unless we first boil the life out of them and then slather them with butter or sugar. That's our heritage, y'all.

By the way, when I get to the grocery store in a few minutes, I plan to announce to any passersby in my aisle that I'M BUYING WHEAT GERM. I'll let you know how it goes.


* That was for you, Addie. :-)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Because I Love Knowledge - In Fact I Yearn For It

Here is what you would see me do if the activity on my computer screen was broadcast to people in the US (and parts of Canada) and you could view my internet surfing habits while sitting in the comfort of your living room:
Check email

Check Site Meter

Check blog for comments

Check Bloglines and read what's been posted

Make comments on posts




Repeat, ad nauseum
I mean, y'all. I know we're creatures of habit, and heaven knows I like me a routine - but I am in a rut. An interrut, if you will. There's a whole "wide world interweb" (as my friend Buddy calls it) out there, and I've reduced it to five steps. With an occasional viewing of thrown in.

And it occurred to me, as I was going through my internet routine for the fifth time the other night after A. went to bed, that I don't even surf the 'net anymore. I just surf blogs. I don't even know what's "out there."

So, I'm curious. Am I alone in this tendency? Do you find that your time on the internet is primarily dedicated to blog reading and blog writing these days? Or are you still surfing with abandon?

And if you ARE surfing, what in the world are you reading? What one site (family friendly, of course) would you recommend? What are the rest of us missing?

Just trying to broaden my webby horizons. In the interest of personal growth and development, of course. :-)

Friday Follow-Up - UPDATED

Given y'all's response to my post about a thought-provoking conversation I had a few weeks ago, I thought you might be interested in clicking over and taking part in a couple of discussions at other blogs.

Leslie at Into Australia has a great post about whether or not God is in control, and Linda at Middle-Years, a fairly new blog, asks some questions about prayer that are natural off-shoots of your comments here earlier in the week.

Grace and peace, y'all.

Update - 1:11 pm: Lori weighs in with her own questions here - y'all have fun!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Errand Boy

Because I'm a list-maker, I'm also a person who typically stays caught up on errands. I try to get to one or two places a day, and doing that over the course of a week means that I rarely find myself out of anything. I would go so far to say that I even ANTICIPATE being out of something like baby wash or shampoo or dishwasher detergent four or five days away from actual "outage," so we're usually pretty well-stocked with the daily necessities.

But this last month? Eh. Not so much.

So today I found myself with a mighty big to-do list - stuff that couldn't wait one more day. We enjoy having things like, you know, coffee filters and soap to make our life easier, and I also enjoy an up-to-date cosmetics supply so that I don't scare small children. Because wearing make-up is, for me, more of a public service than anything else.

With our list in hand, A. and I left the house this morning, and our first stop on the Tour of Errands was Family Christian. While I was picking out what I needed, A. was making a point to sort through every single Veggie Tales DVD in the history of all time ever, and he became SO consumed with his video sorting that he neglected to heed nature's call and as a result tee tee'd all over himself while standing on a small chair he had pulled over to the movie shelves.

I was prepared, however - I was armed with an extra pair of underwear and shorts - but A. had to change clothes in Family Christian's restroom. All I can say about that experience is that I do not feel that Jesus would be pleased with the cleanliness and / or orderliness of their women's facilities. Oh I can't even type about it anymore because, well, EWWWWWW.

Next stop: we went to Jason's Deli to meet my friend NK and her children for lunch. It was fairly uneventful unless you consider that A. tried to swat away anyone who even made eye contact with me and that you don't really get to talk to a grown-up much when there are two three year olds and a six month old at the table. What you DO get to do is FETCH lots of things - lids for drinks, straws, napkins, ice cream, muffins, dropped bottles, etc.

So I guess instead of saying that I met NK for lunch, I should actually say that we met to fetch some stuff. It's what all the cool mamas are doing these days.

And then, the mall.

Trips to the mall always make me feel like we're The Clampetts Come To Town, because A.'s reaction to escalators is similar in scope of emotion and duration of enthusiasm to Jethro in "The Beverly Hillbillies" when he first spies his brand new CE-ment pond. A. reacts normally as we go up the escalator, but as soon as he "disembarks," he starts to jump and then SCREAMS (I don't mean "says" - I mean "screams"), "HEY! EVERYBODY! WE DID IT! WE DID IT! ALL RIGHT! GOOD JOB!"

I guess I should be grateful that he doesn't say "WOO, DOGGIE! THEM THAR METAL STAIRS GOT A MOTOR IN 'EM, MOMMA!"

So when we got off of the escalator in front of Macy's (I had to go. free gift time at the Lancome counter. you understand.), A. started proclaiming his escalatory accomplishments (one good thing about having your own blog? you get to make up words like "escalatory") to everyone around us, and while they were very polite and they smiled and they nodded, I wanted to explain that I did not in fact hook the boy up to a Mountain Dew and coffee IV earlier in the day, and we have in fact ventured into public several - lo, many - times in his life.

I won't even go into the part where he climbed up shelves stocked with make-up while I was paying for my purchases and then fell and cut his knee and created an entirely different sort of scene.

So finally, Walmart.

And you're thinking, "A bookstore and a restaurant and a mall and a Walmart? All in the same day? WOMAN? ARE YOU INSANE?"

To which I answer: why yes! I am! Nice to meet you!

It really wasn't so bad, because at that point A. was so tired that he sort of lazily chewed on a donut and whined, but I was in their restrooms twice, and while they are much, much nicer than Family Christian's, someone really needs to get down at a three year old's eye-level and check out the toilets when they're cleaning. Because, well, EWWWWWW.

And just for the record? The temperature in the Walmart parking lot this afternoon? 492 degrees. An egg would have fried before it ever made contact with the pavement. And when it did make contact with the pavement, it would have exploded into a fiery mass of protein. With smoke.

But you know what? All in all? It was oddly fun. Really.

So what did you do today? :-)

Thursday Thirteen

Banner by Kelly

Thirteen Vacation Experiences I Don't Necessarily Have To Repeat

1. Camping on a beach during a torrential downpour. OH SWEET MERCY, the sand. OH SWEET MERCY, the sticky, wet sand.

2. Camping at a state park. Okay, technically that was a cabin and not a tent. But, you know, there was lots of nature there, and while I may not have told you this before, nature makes me itch.

3. A pesky little case of sun poisoning (remember, I have no melanin to speak of - the sun is not my friend) that caused me to throw up FOURTEEN TIMES on the van ride back home from the beach, and my youth group leader wouldn't pull over, so I had to get sick in Ziploc bags and paper cups. Which my friend Beverly then threw out the window as we traveled down the interstate at a high rate of speed.

OH YEAH. Put THAT in a brochure and watch the people flock to your advertised destination.

4. Seven college girls in a car designed to seat five (four comfortably). In New Orleans. In August. It was the hottest (and as a direct result, angriest) I've ever been in my life.

5. Sleeping two girls to a TWIN bed on that same trip. We were in college, had no money, and got the cheapest rooms possible. I slept for approximately 44 minutes that night (in all fairness, we still had fun - but my grown-up self doesn't know how my younger self did it).

6. Sleeping on a pull-out couch with a wafer-thin mattress and springs that were constructed from, as best I could determine, barbed wire.

7. A fourteen hour van ride with an unreliable air conditioner, an AM radio and a gaggle of junior high students.

8. A hotel room that was apparently rented by tobacco companies to test how many cigarettes it might take to make the smell of smoke linger FOREVER.

9. Y'all aren't going to believe this, but one time I got really sick from sun poisoning in Panama City, and my youth group leader would not stop the van for me to throw up! Have you ever heard of such?

10. Being spanked by my daddy on the front steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Don't worry - it wasn't recently. I was three. And we actually have pictures of me pouting afterwards.

11. Staying in a hotel room in Chattanooga with my parents and having to SLEEP IN THE TUB because Daddy was snoring so loudly that the tub was the only possible place to escape. And I still had to put a pillow over my ear. And shut the bathroom door.

Good times.

12. A sleepless night in a hotel in NYC with Sister and Paige. We had some foul-mouthed revelers next door - and in addition to screaming every cuss word known to man (as well as some original constructions that, while nonsensical, were equally as offensive), they seemed to believe that alternately beating on the wall and slamming the door were excellent outlets for drunken expression.

13. Did I mention the time my youth group leader wouldn't stop the van when I had sun poisoning and was throwing up many times consecutively in a row back-to-back without stopping?

By the way, fun side note: in betwixt my episodes of violent wretching, I could hear this guy in the back of the van say stuff like, "THAT IT SO GROSS" and "CAN'T SOMEBODY MAKE HER STOP?"

You will be delighted to know that Mr. Sensitivity is now my husband. Oh, the stories we'll have for our grandchildren.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Grace Like Rain

Yesterday morning, as I was reading through all the comments on this post, I ran across some words that just broke my heart:

"Within the last few weeks I have even picked out the church I want to visit and now ya'll are telling me God knew this [abuse] was going to happen to me as a child??? That it was God's plan for it to happen?? That God allowed it to happen?? How do I not get mad at God all over again?? Sorry if this is too long. But please someone explain to me how not to hate God. I mean if God allowed this to happen to your kid would you just praise God and say he had a reason for it?"
I spent the better part of the morning thinking and praying about the person who wrote those words, wishing there was something I could say or do to demonstrate the grace and love of Christ. Words seemed terribly inadequate in light of so much pain.

Then I read Clemntine's reply, one of the most touching, eloquent posts I've read in awhile.

Please know in advance, especially given the very personal nature of this topic, that I asked permission to put up this link. Clemntine graciously fact, in an email today she said this: "If somehow my being transparent about where I've been encourages someone else to seek a relationship with Christ - truly, it is a small price to pay."

I hope you'll read her post.

It's God's grace in action.

No doubt about it.

WFMW - Easiest Casserole Ever

Okay. This recipe is seriously the easiest thing in the world, and it's versatile, too. I know some men can be "iffy" about a casserole, but my husband - and all of my friends' husbands - love this one.

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

2 boxes Uncle Ben's Original Long Grain and Wild Rice, cooked according to package directions
1 1/2 pounds small or medium shrimp - you can use fresh (peeled, deveined) or frozen (thawed)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese - I usually buy the blocks and run them through the grater in the food processor, but pre-shredded will work fine
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
dash of hot sauce

Mix it all together - put it in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish - and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

It makes a ton - and it works as a side dish (great with beef), a main dish, or - my favorite - reheated in a skillet and used for quesadillas the next day. Our three year old likes it - and it doesn't even have Cheetos in it! Or peanut butter! :-)

A casserole that's fast, easy and even better the 2nd day? That most definitely works for me.

For more great WFMW ideas, go see Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Be Sure To Invite Me The Next Time You Go Camping!

Late yesterday afternoon I was minding my own business, cooking a little supper, thinking about your comments from this post, and the phone rang. I looked at caller ID - not that I'm, you know, a SCREENER or anything (ahem) - and I saw the words "IMP. MESSAGE" and a number.

No way I was answering. I figured the "IMP. MESSAGE" was a candidate who wanted our votes or a telemarketer who had an AMAZING OFFER regarding a home water filtration system. But a few minutes later, to my surprise, I saw the message light blinking on our phone, so I checked our voicemail.

As it turned out, it was SUCH an important message. I can't even tell you.

Alabama Power wanted us to know that they needed to do some "emergency line maintenance" in our area, and oh, by the way (by the way? BY THE WAY!), we would be losing power at midnight.

Now a lot of y'all know that I do not enjoy the heat. As a result, I do everything I possibly can to avoid the outdoors in the months of July and August unless there is a body of water involved. And I don't know if you've been following the weather here in Alabama, but the temperature has been averaging somewhere around 192 degrees a day with infinity percent humidity. More or less. Our air conditioner runs all day long, and I can honestly say that, if our finances demanded it, I would rather not eat than go without air conditioning. IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME.

So you no doubt understand that being cool is serious business around our house (though only in the literal the figurative sense, we are the antithesis of cool, the place where cool goes to die). And when I heard the message from the power company, I went into Serious Planning Mode. If the power was going off at midnight, then clearly I would need to immerse myself in a tub of ice cubes by 11 o'clock, at least, in order to significantly lower my body temperature. Because you must trust me when I tell you that even though the temperature in our house might have remained 72 degrees for the duration of the outage, the psychological impact of knowing THERE IS NO AIR would certainly convince me that I was sweltering from the heat of a thousand fiery suns. In fact, when D. came upstairs for supper and I told him of Alabama Power's "IMP. MESSAGE," he did a bit of a double-take and said, "WE'LL BURN UP!"

Which is reason #1,784 why we're married.

Anyway, after supper and bathtime and playtime and email time and comment reading time, I found myself staring 11 o'clock straight in the face, and I hadn't even had my ice cube bath. So I panicked. Just a little bitty bit. There was so much to be done - not to mention a core body temperature to be lowered. Time was of the essence.

Over the next 60 gloriously air conditioned minutes, I cleaned the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher, took a bath (no ice cubes - just cooler water than usual), dried my hair, wrote a comment and published it. Almost as soon as I finished on the computer, the house went black. And the air conditioner stopped. I think I started to sweat instantly.

And as I stumbled around in the dark, the wheels started to come off my un-air conditioned train of thought. What if it wasn't Alabama Power who called us after all? What if it was a DEN OF THIEVES who left the message as some sort of clever ruse so that they could cut the lines and then burgle and pilfer without arousing suspicion during the "planned" outage? What if I fell asleep and didn't hear the thieves (clad in black catsuits, skicaps and gloves, no doubt) when they came in the house? And OH MY WORD why didn't I order one of those little solar fan thingies off of that infomercial? Was it 102 in the house? How was D. even under the covers? Isn't it possible to smother when there's absolutely no air circulating?

It was a late night carnival-o-smokin'-hot-fun. That's what it was.

The power did come back on around 2:30, so I was grateful for that...but air conditioning, how I missed thee. Verily.

Needless to say, tonight I'll be cranking down that thermostat to the point that my teeth chatter and hopefully getting some, you know, rest.

See y'all tomorrow. :-)

Before We Return To The Mildly Amusing Programming...

Your comments? On the last post?

Grace in action, my friends.

I told D., as we read through everyone's remarks last night, that of all the corners of the blogosphere, I think I found the very best one with the very smartest readers. Your comments were intelligent, heartfelt and the epitome of Colossians 4:6: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

You blessed me.

Also, your song suggestions on the post before that? I may be on iTunes for a solid day. :-)

So, to sum up: thank y'all.

I am grateful.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Unexpected

So a couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with someone who happens to be an educated leader in a major denomination (not mine, but one with which I'm more than a little familiar), and much to my surprise, our discussion got a little, um, lively. It wasn't tense; it wasn't hostile; but it was most definitely lively. And I can't quit thinking about it.

Initially I wasn't going to post about it because I think the Body is divided enough as it is. In my opinion we do a pretty good job of majoring on the minors, and I'm not really interested in some sort of bloggity showdown about when in the service we should take up the offering or if there should be drums in church or if there should be an altar call every week or every 6th Sunday or not at all. At some point, at least to my simplistic line of thinking, a person has to determine if he or she trusts the leadership in his or her church, and if the answer is yes, well, then, zip it. Last time I checked there were a whole lot of lost people in the world, and participating in or listening to conversations about important theological matters like the cold green beans at Family Night Supper and how if Mrs. So-And-So can't serve the food HOT, then she need not serve it at all - well, that really doesn't accomplish very much in terms of furthering the Kingdom.

Maybe I'm wrong. Call me crazy.

I'm not going to re-hash the whole conversation in question because I think it's unfair to the person on the other side of it. I don't want to misrepresent anything he said; I don't want to put words in his mouth; and I don't want to paint him in a theological corner where he never meant to stand. We only talked for about an hour, and it very well may be that if we had been able to hash out our viewpoints for longer, I would've come to a clearer understanding about what he meant. I wish that had been the case, because, honestly, I'm still shaking my head about it all.

D. has been my sounding board for the last week, especially, and I don't think there's any angle we haven't covered. I've talked to a couple of friends about it - though not for nearly as long as I have with D. - and we've been in agreement. I think that MAY be because we've all grown up around pretty similar teachings, and that's why I'm opening up the discussion here. I guess I'm in need of a little extra iron to sharpen my own.

Anyway, here's the statement - my statement - that started it all (it's one that I've also written here on the blog in recent weeks):

"God is Sovereign. He knew this would happen and that He would allow it."

The person I was talking to disagreed with me, essentially saying that there's a realm of stuff that God just doesn't mess with. God is present, he said, but accidents happen. If you go stand in the middle of an interstate, odds are you'll get hit by a car. God gives us free will and we suffer the consequences (and I agree that we have free will, by the way, though I think my take on it is a bit different).

What do you think? And please know - I am NOT trying to create division. I'm just trying to make sense of it all. Is the viewpoint of the person I was talking to commonplace? Am I the odd (wo)man out on this one? I mean, I'm used to being a little more liberal on some issues than many of my denominational counterparts, but I don't think I've ever felt more Southern Baptist than I did in the middle of that particular conversation. :-)

And please, go easy on me - and others - in the comments. Grace and mercy should be the order of the day. As always.

I will return to my normal, mildly amusing topics in the next post. I promise. :-)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Who Makes The Woeful Heart To Sing"

Last night David and I were driving home, enjoying the quiet (read: absence of squawking toddler) while listening to a contemporary arrangement of "Fairest Lord Jesus" on the CD player.

I decided right then and there that it is my favorite hymn ever.

Followed closely by "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "Holy, Holy, Holy." Sang that one at church today, as a matter of fact.

Oh! And "It Is Well With My Soul." I mean, I like all kinds of music - but those old hymns just make me, well, weep. I'm so grateful that I grew up singing them.

And since I'm on the subject of church music, I'll go ahead and share this: my favorite contemporary Christian song ever is "How Great Is Our God" by Chris Tomlin (Addie is SHOCKED by that - SHOCKED, I tell you). :-) I also think "Untitled Hymn" ("Come To Jesus") by Chris Rice is gorgeous.

What are your favorites? Old and new? What are the songs that touch you way down deep in your soul?

I can't wait to read your answers...mainly because I'm curious, but partly because I can make a list of all the stuff I want to download after I see your comments. :-)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Let's Blog And Then Think About Blogging Some More

Every once in awhile I find myself having very "meta" conversations - usually with D. or Sister - about blogging. The analytical side of me can't help but wonder what all this bloggy business means. How it's all going to play out down the road. If it's a fad or a phenomenon. If we'll all stick with it, or if one day we'll look at our computers and think, "Nah. I'm done."

Honestly, it's something I think about a good bit, because when I started this blog late last year, I knew that it would enable me to document what was going on with the little man as well as provide me with an outlet for exercising the write-y side of my brain (and I believe that is the official scientific term: "the write-y side"). But what I didn't know is that the discipline of writing every day (more or less) would change my life. And that I would, you know, make friends. And that people would read what I write. And stuff.

Anyway, last night I had an "anablog" (oh. punny. so very punny.) conversation with my sister, and we got on the subject of Blogher '06, the big blogger conclave that wrapped up last week. There were around 750 bloggers in attendance - mostly women - and apparently they had panel discussions and got all sorts of freebies and spent a good amount of time meeting and talking with other bloggers. It sounds like it was quite the blogtacular.

But I have to tell you. My initial reaction to something like that? Well, it makes me twitch a little bit. Not so much that you would notice - you might just think I was blinking at irregular intervals - but trust me. It's a twitch.

Now from what I've read, the women who were there had a wonderful time. And when I think about the big fun I had in Savannah with Addie, Lori, Robin and Theresa, I really do "get" why the Blogher convention is successful. It's nice to put a name with a face, you know? I mean, even though Sarah and I have emailed a bunch and talked on the phone, it would be great to actually see her in person, to do that Universal Girly Greeting where you squeal just a little bit and then completely wrap your arms around someone while simultaneously swaying back and forth. I would totally do that to Sarah if I saw her in person.

And then she would run from me, frightened.

But here's my fear about big bloggy gatherings - and keep in mind that I'm just thinking out loud, having had no experience at all with Blogher or any other super-organized gathering of Women Who Blog (unless you count supper at my house a couple of weeks ago, when Robin, Theresa and I had QUITE the "panel discussion" while eating chicken and wild rice casserole):

I wonder, once you got above 100 or so participants, if it wouldn't turn out to be a little like high school. You know what I mean? Like there would be some sort of unspoken hierarchy that would make people a smidge resentful. If it would be clique-ish. If there would be some perceived "popular" crowd.

Because I can't help but think that if I did in fact travel somewhere to "fellowship" with a huge group of bloggers, I would want the whole thing to be just a hair shy of a lovefest. Happiness all around. Sunshine and rainbows. No dissent amongst the masses. No drama.

This is one area where I'm a bit of an idealist, if you can't tell.

So here's what I want to know.

Let's pretend that there was going to be a gigantor gathering primarily made up of Christian bloggers (I know that not everyone who reads my blog is a Christian - but since I am, that's what we're going with for the hypothetical). If time and money were no object, would you want to go? Why?

And if you did go, what in the world would you be hoping to get out of it? Do you think there's value in rounding up 500 or 600 of your closest Christian bloggy buddies?

Because the optimist in me wants to to think that a gathering of hundreds of bloggers is a way for people to deepen relationships and enhance their mad bloggin' skillz (and I'm sure that, for many of the women who attended Blogher, it was all that and more)...but the more skeptical side of me thinks I might be a little disillusioned if I saw people being snarky. Or if that whole high school mentality prevailed. Or if it seemed like people were just trying to generate more traffic for their sites.

What do y'all think? Would you go?

And just to be clear: I'm not planning anything. :-) OH SWEET MERCY no. But it does seem like I'm reading more and more about people meeting in real life - in groups of 5, 10, 25, etc. So it seems almost inevitable that Women Bloggers for Jesus '08 - or something with a name that's, you know, clever - will happen. Somebody will organize something - sooner as opposed to later, I think.