18 December 2009

Money, Money, Money!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm addicted to saving money.

As one of my multiple ways of making small bits of pocket change while using the internet at home, I routinely take on-line surveys. One frequently asked question: "Is finding a good bargain a game to you?" Yes, yes it is . . . now give me my free money.

I love it!

And because I love it so much, I'm going to share, once again, my favorite ways to save money and/or get free money from people just giving it away on-line (yes, people do that and more people than I can count decide it's not worth their effort - I call these people silly - I love them, but they're silly, because, seriously, who really doesn't want free money?!).

1) Swagbucks.
I've told people about this - people have signed up, and then they don't use it! And it baffles me. Honestly baffles me. In the six months, or maybe a little more, since I've joined I have earned $45 in gift cards to amazon.com. I'm not sure if you're aware (but I'm sure you are), but amazon sells just about everything under the sun. So, $45 I didn't have before to spend on whatever I want? Sign me up, please. This year I even used some of that money for Christmas gifts. Nice. Now, this is really easy money to get because all I have to do is use their google-powered search engine whenever I search for anything on-line. And I search a LOT. To make it easier, you can change the search bar at the top of your browser to use swagbucks automatically - and it's not a download, so you don't have to worry about that if that kind of thing bothers you. Just search. That's all. And every time you search you get the chance to earn swagbucks. You then trade your SB for real B in the form of gift cards - as mentioned I opt for amazon because it's the best deal. I search a lot and, on average, I earn about 1sb/day for searching. They also have codes to earn you bucks, which is a big portion of my swagbucks, but let's start off easy - search, earn money. Sign up here.

2) Mypoints.com
Now, mypoints has taken me a little longer to earn money, but I have earned over $85 in gift cards to the Motherhood store, Old Navy and JCPenney - a nice excuse to pamper myself if there ever was any. Most of the ways to earn points through this website is to shop on-line through their site. I'm going to be honest, I always forget to go through their site, so I almost never earn points this way. Were I to actually remember, I would probably be earning a lot quicker. They also have "offers" to take advantage of. The majority of these are money-spending, shopping offers or signing up for credit cards or services you don't want. I don't do those. But, they do send e-mails, a lot of e-mails. All you have to do is open the e-mail, click on the offer, close the page that opens, delete the e-mail and you earn 5 points. If you get 5 of these e-mails in a day, that's 25 points/day. Not bad. If you check your e-mail often. If you don't, they'll stack up quickly and intimidate you. If you delete them w/o reading them, you don't get any points. So, if you can stay on top of your e-mail and you have a couple of seconds to click, close, delete, it's not a bad way to earn money slowly. E-mail me if you want an invite. Or you can join on your own, but then I don't get any points, and I'll be sad. :( See?

3)On-line Survey Sites.
Websites like surveyspot.com and toluna.com offer money in exchange for sharing your opinion - or, rather, your time. They routinely send e-mails inviting you to partake in a survey. Now, here's where I'm the greedy, selfish survey site member. Some surveys offer plain cash, others offer "an entry" into their sweepstakes. If I'm not getting a set amount of money, I don't bother with the survey. But some surveys do offer $3, $5 or even up to $25 for participation. Those I jump right on, if I have the time. Sometimes I just don't have 20-30 min to take a survey, so I just delete the e-mails. I choose when I take a survey and which surveys I want. It's pretty simple. Through surveyspot I've earned a $20 check about every other month or so. It's not a lot, but it's a date night!

4)Read blogs.
This doesn't really earn me money, but it does help me save money and get lots of free things I wouldn't have known about otherwise. There are women out there who devote their time and energy to keeping others on top of amazing sales or freebies. I appreciate them. My favorites are: http://dealwisemommy.blogspot.com/, http://www.forthemommas.com/, and http://freebies4mom.blogspot.com/. They have hooked me up a number of times.

5)Woot.com/kids.woot.com
If you haven't heard of these before, be warned, they're addictive. The woot family actually has a network of four sites, but these are the two I frequent most. The concept behind them is one deal, one day. Every day they have a different "deal" on a random item (usually VERY random). If you want one, you can buy up to three at the price given with a $5 flat shipping fee. If you don't like it, you wait for tomorrow (or if you're real hard-core, you stay up until midnight) to see what the next day's deal will be. The original, woot.com, typically offers electronics of some sort or other household items. kids.woot.com offers, what else?, kids items. Sometimes toys, sometimes other useful things, like carseats. The prices on these are phenomenol and we have purchased more than one Christmas gift via woot. And then there are woot-offs . . . but that's another story.

Ok, I think I'll stop there. I save money in real life, too, via searching sales ads and using coupons, but these are my favorite ways to save/earn money on-line. And as a stay-at-home mom, it's much easier for me to do a couple of things on the internet in the morning to save me money then hike out and hunt for deals on the shelf. I'm sure you understand!

So, those are my insider tips (ok, not so insider, they're hardly exclusive. In fact, I'm sure you've heard of one or more of these things long before today, but I continue to hope this blog was, in fact, insightful for you). Have a nice day ;)

09 December 2009

The Enemy

I had a dream last night - and it was intense!

I dreamed of a military camp. Now, here's where I'll have to beg pardon from all of my dear military friends and their wives - I know little about proper military terminology so you'll just have to overlook that part in my telling, please and thank you!

Now this troop was facing an unknown evil - a murderer had found its way into their midst and was killing off the men who were outside of the camp. In my dream, I had two perspectives, I was following the action of a group of soldiers who were making their way back to base camp, but also the thoughts of the killer himself - as though reading a book written from his perspective. The group of soldiers came upon a tiny encampment outside of the walls of the base camp. Every one of these camped outside the walls was dead. And the scene was meticulous and grisly (trust me, I saw it in my dream!). The most interesting thing, however, was that none of the men were in a defensive position of any kind - as though they had not expected whomever they saw to attempt to cause them any harm.

At this point, I had my first bit of narrative from the mind of the killer - "Of course they didn't expect me. I am a commanding officer! When they see me approach, there is nothing but respect and trust. No one will ever suspect me!" (insert maniacal laughter here).

The group of soldiers moves on (they don't have the privilege of hearing the voice over). As they continue along the trail, they find three more soldiers down, killed, and wrapped in some sort of cocoon (strange, I know).

Further voice over: "Those idiots, everyone of them, they suspect a cadet [I'm not sure what they're really called, I'm sorry], the lowest on the totem pole, of these atrocities. They insult my intelligence. How could they ever think such a peon could cause such destruction?"

Suddenly the soldiers see movement in the trees below - it's him! They see a man in some sort of Darth Vader ensemble (don't ask!), but rustic looking as though made from twigs and branches. They run for their lives. He gives chase. They get closer to the base camp, leaping over the barbed wire walls. The protectors of the camp witness the pursuer and aim. He is shot, only grazed, really, but tumbles to the ground as his mask falls off. As he rises and all present see his face, they laugh.

He has been right all along. There is no way anyone would suspect him of any serious crime. Everyone assumes his chasing the soldiers was merely a prank - to ease the tensions everyone is feeling about the true terror laying outside the walls. No one knows.

And then I woke up. A little scared. And then I realized what I'd just seen.

The Killer was Satan.

We, as soldiers of Christ, have safety inside the walls God has built for us - our hedge of protection. But we so like to wander outside those walls, and even set up our own little camps for awhile. And then the enemy comes.

We don't recognize him at first - he was once an angel, after all, and he is beautiful. And he knows what we want and knows just how to draw us in. We never see it coming.

And when we do realize the terror lurking outside the camp, we turn the blame on each other. Allowing bitterness and anger to build up against men, even against fellow Christians at times - suspecting they are the cause for the troubles in our lives - forgetting all along that our "enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

It's not a joke. He's not just teasing us. He's not just a big bully who wants to mess a few things up. Y'all, he wants to kill us! Nothing would make him happier than to see us dead.

And we don't think about it. Half the time we forget he's even there. But he doesn't forget about us. He's waiting for us to wander his way.

We need to be on the alert. When he plants the seeds of anger and bitterness, we need to call him on it and declare we will have none of it.

I've read the end of the story; I know who wins - and we need to call on our Protector to hedge us in.

It's not a game - we need to be ready to fight!

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

04 December 2009

Fear not!

As you may know (refer to previous post), I am with child for the second time in my life. And I am thrilled. But something unexpected has already happened with this pregnancy that I didn't experience the first time - fear.

When we learned I was pregnant with our first child, all the typical emotions rolled on through that all first parents go through upon learning about this little addition to our lives - I was so excited at first, and then it hit me. No matter how much you were looking forward to it or "planning" for it, that first pregnancy is a shock - that, "wait a minute" moment. What are we doing?! Are we really ready for this? And does that matter? Because, ready or not, there's going to be a baby in our house in less than a year and someone is going to expect us to take care of it. All the time!

And then we calm down, breathe, and realize we know plenty of parents who have tried their hardest to screw up their kids and somehow we all turn out relatively okay. Alright. We can do this.

And then life was peachy. I didn't know anything about having a baby and, other than reading 2/3 of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" on the day we found out, I did little in preparation to figure out what was actually going to happen. I was in awe that my body knew exactly what to do and was busy as a bee bringing this baby into being and all I had to do was take it slow. This was nice. I could do this.

The day came, she was born, happy and healthy - as I always expected she would be - and life was great.

So we decided we were ready.

A new life, again.

I was excited. I was trusting God to grow our family and less than a year after we handed that desire over to him, Baby #2 (fondly known as Bug) is on the way.

And then it hit me. An overwhelming fear. Fear I hadn't known before.

See, something happened between my last pregnancy and this one - I had been reading stories, hearing prayer requests and had begun to accept that tragedy really is a common occurrence. Every day, parents are losing their children. And no one is immune. What if that happened to us?

I was no longer an innocent mother living in a peachy world - there was a child in my womb and quick as that something could happen to it.

It was difficult to rejoice. I lived in that fear, deciding this time maybe we would wait until the end of the first trimester to let everyone know "just in case." In case of the worst. Because how could I go back and tell everyone that it wasn't going to happen? It would just be easier if we kept it quiet.

After a time of living in this crippling fear, God spoke to me. What was I afraid of? I may not know tomorrow, but I know today. And today I have a baby. Today I am blessed. Today is one more day of growing a tiny one inside of me. And no matter what happens to him or her, that life is a blessing - today!

And what if something did happen? Would I rather go through that pain alone? Letting the bitterness and sorrow tear me apart from the inside while the world went on as normal? Would I not want my brothers and sisters in Christ to join me in the grieving process and be with me through such a time?

And more so, as we learned in church, our pain is God's megaphone to the world. Even if God chose to take this baby earlier than we expected, we would glorify Him so much better in allowing the world to see our pain and witness Him working in our lives through that pain.

We are not to keep quiet - in sorrow or in joy!

So, we screamed it from the rooftops (and/or facebook). We're having a baby!

The Lord has done great things for us. And we are glad!

16 November 2009

Just in case you missed it . . .

I doubt there are many people left in the world who don't know, but just in case you didn't, my beautiful daughter would like to let you in on the secret. She is going to be a . . .


So now you know . . .

29 October 2009

I will trust Him

From my morning Bible Study:

"Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." (1 Peter 4:19, NASB, emphasis added)

"So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you." (1 Peter 4:19, NLT, emphasis added)

While this verse's primary focus is on those who suffer in the name of Christ, I believe the character of God revealed here never changes and applies to our relationship with Him always. He is my Creator, faithful in doing what is right (I can have faith that He will always do what is right!). I should put my trust in Him for He will never fail me!

I can trust because His cause is always right. There is no need to fear - for my future, for my family, for safety in storms (both figuratively and literally - the tornado watch this morning sparked just a little anxiety). God is not only my Creator, but my Protector and Redeemer. He knows what He is doing. Who is like our God? Who else is worthy of my ultimate trust? Who else never fails? Who else is faithful in doing what is right?

There is no one like our God.

15 October 2009

His Marvelous Light

Highlight from today's Bible Study journal entry:

"It is no Plan B that salvation was opened to the Gentiles, it was foretold by the angel in Luke 2:32, Christ was to be 'a light of revelation to the Gentiles'- we were planned for! We, ourselves, formed by God, for God [Isaiah 43:21], as His special treasure [Deuteronomy 7:6], have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light [1 Peter 2:9]! . . . No circumstance could ever overshadow this remarkable truth!"

04 October 2009

There's Gotta Be More to Life

I have been shocked recently to discover how young I truly am. More often than not, I think about the fact that I am 25 - a quarter of a century old - and think about how old I am getting. Not that 25 is old, but it is older than I've ever been before ;)

I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a home-owner. I feel settled. As though the rest of my life is laid out before me. Sure, there will be adventures - I'll have more kids (God-willing), my kids will start school, my kids will graduate, my kids will get married, my kids will have their own tiny blessings. Are you seeing a trend here?

It seems that from the moment a child was brought into my life, the unpredictability and potential for my own was stunted while I began to live for her and her future.

What I have begun to realize is: God is not done with me! My life has only just begun!

I have come to this wisdom by listening to various Godly women whom I admire and adore talk about their own pasts and the silly things they thought when they were in their twenties and how God has grown them since then. It hit me: I'm in my twenties! I'm where these women were when they were only just beginning to grasp what God had in store for them.

I am, right now in the "remember when?" stage. I'm not done yet! I still have so much more life to live and God is still working on me and in me.

I am in the middle, right now, of a period of my life that I know I will look back on as a turning point. Everything is changing and God is moving powerfully through it all. He is growing me. He is growing my husband. He is pointing us where He wants us to go.

I still have so much more to accomplish than simply being Micaiah's mother (a title I am so proud to claim!). I have a future and I can't wait to see what it holds!

27 September 2009

Come and Meet with Him

God woke me up early yesterday morning. That's right. 7:30am on a Saturday morning. Baby was still asleep, hubby snoozing next to me and my eyes drift open to the tune of a well-loved worship song playing in my head, "I'm here to meet with you, Come and meet with me." Something stirred inside to tell me this wasn't coincidence. We had a full day scheduled and I had some Bible studies I was behind on. If I wanted to get caught up and have some solid studying time, God was letting me know this was the time to do it.
"Oh but sleep sounds nice, too. Can't I just sleep a little longer?"
"I'm here to find you, reveal yourself to me."
I know the song is typically presented to God, but this time it was coming straight from His lips.
I resigned.
Pulled my feet over the edge and stumbled into the office. I began my first study. There were questions. I had to answer questions this early? It's a Saturday! Sigh. I want to have my heart in this, but I just don't even know where to begin with answering this question. What is the author looking for? I don't see it. And this pen - this stupid pen just won't work! Maybe another pen. Get up, go to the other room, find a pen I know works. Yes, that's bett- oh blasted pens!!!
"Stop, child. Stop trying to write."
"But I have to answer the questions, remember? This is my homework."
Ooooh. Ouch. That was the point. God should never be my homework! Bible Study is work, yes. It's done at home, yes. Calling it homework isn't bad in and of itself, but regarding it as such with the drudging attitude one sets aside for syllabi-induced reading or papers put off to the last minute. That's not what God wants from us. Oh, yes, he can still speak to us in spite of our attitudes. Case in point. I was sitting in His presence, but I didn't long to be there the way I really should have.
I've had more than one busy friend in my lifetime. Wonderful girls with whom I adore spending time, but girls who may not be the best at prioritizing. Everything and everyone is number one on the list. So time is divided between everything and everyone and while I so looked forward to the time I was allotted, I also felt a little gipped, really. As though I was allowed so much time but no more because then they were off to the next pressing engagement. I needed to make the most of my time because it was limited. In the end I always began to feel boxed and just wanting to say, "If this is the best I can get from you, nevermind." Was it too much to ask to be someone's priority? To have someone say, you're worth my time - however much time you need.
And that's what God wants from us. He wants our time. It's not good enough to just give him the first time slot in my day. Because in the end it's just that - a time slot - a limit on God and what he can speak to me that day. A - "here, God, you can have this much time but no more, I have things to do." Not something I looked forward to eagerly or was willing to shove other things aside for, but something else on the list.
God doesn't want that. He'll take what we give Him, that's for sure, and He'll use it, no doubt about it, but He wants so much more. He wants us to long to be in His presence. To lose track of time because we are so in love with Him nothing else matters. He wants to be our passion. Day in, day out. Our every breath. So that when I'm not curled up on the couch with His Word He's still forefront in my mind. I'm still spending time with Him even as I leave the Bible Study in the office and head out my front door. That's what He wants.
His desire is to be our desire.
Forgive me, Lord, for my failures. Thank you, Lord, for the grace of a second chance. Every day.

25 September 2009

Take Me Back

It is said that our sense of smell is the strongest tie to emotions. It is true when I spritz on a certain bottle of perfume I recall the college years, Sunday mornings driving to the tiniest town in Oklahoma to attend a down-home solid service in a tiny white church. Another bottle takes me to my first year of marriage, in our tiny bathroom, sprucing up before my husband comes home from work.

But music does the same thing for me. I can put in a CD (yes, I still live in the stone ages with my CD's!) and be instantly transported. Yesterday I played my first Kutless CD - not my typical song style of choice these days, although still well-appreciated. In a moment I remembered the week I first listened to the CD - summer break, at home alone for an entire week! Blaring the music from my parents' DVD player - dancing in the living room, working on a photo project. I recalled a semester in Russia, a dear Russian friend who would listen to any American rock, no matter the subject, wondering if he ever took to heart what the words meant. Did the music I let him borrow plant a seed? Will I ever know? Images came to mind of driving to that same tiny church conjured in my perfumed memories, singing along with another dear friend by my side, joining in the concert.

Amazing.

It was almost to the point of danger in my driving - I felt as though I was barely present in mind as I drove along gliding from one memory to the next. Who needs photo albums when music can carry all of my memories on one disc?

18 September 2009

Life Comes at Me

"Sometimes I feel like this world is just one big gigantic merry-go-round
You gotta hold on tight or you get hurled through the air" - Michael W. Smith

Welcome to my life! It's crazy-go-nuts around here lately. I truly thought that my summer was filled to the brim and that, surely, with the implementation of some semblance of a schedule come fall things would slow back into their normal routine. Oh how naive a girl can be. It is only now I realize the brim my summer reached was that of a 6oz. juice glass. And now? Now my life is a Route 44 from Sonic and it's still overflowing! But don't get me wrong, it's overflowing in the best possible ways. I feel stretched and pulled from every angle but every angle is a good one.

I started college classes again (when I say "classes" I mean it in the singular sense, really, but it sounds better when said as a plural - trust me). I honestly did not foresee this being an issue. I thought - heck, it's free (loves it!), I liked doing homework (shut up, I'm a freak), being the student, not the teacher, discussing literature with others, what could go wrong? And all those points are true. I DO love it for ALL those things - what I forgot to factor in was two out of my three free days of the week being tied up, needing a baby-sitter for a certain beautiful baby girl (I have a friend who is wonderful, by the way!), said baby girl's lack of napping skills when in the presence of others, thus wreaking havoc on her schedule and beyond that, let's review - it's now been three years since I left school. Not too long you might say? I laugh in your face! The first paper came around and I realized I was WAY out of practice. The only thing that kept me sane was remembering this class is for "fun" - I have nothing hinged on this grade. Breathe.

And homework - seriously, who doesn't stop to think that a literature class would require the reading of, I don't know, literature! Oh . . . right! I love to read, truly, I do, but at this point in my life, due to time constraints and my love of spending time with my husband and child, 100 pages a day doesn't exactly make it into my repertoire . . . until now. And I would remind myself of the point learned in writing the paper, except that I really do want to read it. Sigh. So I do.

I have gotten to the point where I literally sit down on Sunday nights, mind spinning with all the things I need to get done for the week and I make a spreadsheet. Seriously. An excel spreadsheet to schedule my life. I didn't think I'd be at this point for a couple of years when I had tiny tikes whose schedules of dance classes, Awanas, and sleepovers would begin to trump mine. But no. I have purple cells for naptimes (hers, not mine, sadly), in which I need to perform those tasks (like dishes, showers, you know) that don't work with an awake child. I have scheduled time for e-mail, Bible studies, homework, dinner (and, no, this blog wasn't on the schedule, call me a rebel). Oh, life. (and oh, life as a semi-anal-retentive nerd.)

All the while I keep promising myself, "It's just for this week! Next week will be better . . ."

01 September 2009

Dig in!

In a weekly Women's Bible Study we are currently reading through "A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study" by Jen Hatmaker (recommended, in case you're curious) in an attempt to encourage us all to work toward a daily meaningful encounter with God's Word. I will confess, I am one of the prideful ones. The ones who read this book thinking, "[Wo]man! Have I got this thing figured out!" The ones who read with a little smirk at the cute anecdotes of those who have failed in this struggle. And then I get daily knocked to my rear, remembering, "You're not perfect, either, sweetie. Who was the one who just last week couldn't be bothered to pick up her Bible again because she just didn't 'feel like it.'?" Oh, whoops.

But on to my point. Today Jen (I speak as if she and I have a daily intimate conversation, as if she would just call me up and say, "Hey, Ang, how's it goin'?" When we both know that's not happening) asked us to look at Hebrews 5:12-14, "12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."

The wording there in verse thirteen, of those who are "not accustomed to the word of righteousness" left me with a mental image not of an infant dining on liquids, but of a scavenger hungrily searching for tiny morsels to fill his belly. He crawls around skittishly on the floor, seeking out any crumb or particle which may have fallen, entirely unaware of the incredible feast laid out on the table above. He is more than happy to ignore the fact that these crumbs are falling from the mouths of those who have chosen to partake of the gastronomic riches above and that he, too, should he choose to stand and join the adults at the table, could have more than enough to satisfy his hunger. That's what those of us are who choose, rather than imbibing in the deliciousness of God's word daily, to attend only weekly Bible Studies or church services. We sit in our pews (or chairs for the more modern), graciously lapping up the tiny bits dropped for us, assuming that's the best we're ever going to get. While there in our laps lay the divine feast God has laid out for us, which we choose to ignore on a daily basis. Sad.

"All of You is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need. You satisfy me with Your love and all that I have in You is more than enough."

27 August 2009

You're not ok, I'm not ok

I don't know if you've noticed. Our culture, the sandy environment in which we dwell, is constantly shifting. Most currently I have witnessed the change in wind from the aura of perfectionism to flaw-ism.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, everyone tried to be perfect. They strove to put on the happy face and wear the facade that their life was, in fact, everything they'd ever dreamed of. They did this in an effort to fit in because, truth be told, everyone around them was wearing the same mask and so they were absolutely certain they were the only ones on the block who were, indeed, not perfect.
Lately, however, I have noticed the trend to not be perfect. That is, in this age of social networks and blogging, we have decided to take the masks off (or at least pretend to do so), to wave our freak flags proudly. We're not perfect, we know it, we own it, in fact, we're darn proud of it. We laugh off our flaws and try in vain to identify with each other in our imperfections. In fact, now it's the perfect ones who are looked down upon - they're hiding something, we know it! It was like a breath of fresh air, a sigh of relief: everyone knows I'm not perfect and, guess what, they're not either! Woohoo!
While it seems all well and good to revel in our messy lives - not trying to hide who we really are, we fall into a trap. In not trying to hide our flaws we have also mistakenly come to the conclusion that flaws are okay. Not to say they some aren't. It's okay if I don't clean up my house every day - if I have a basket of unfolded clothes sitting in my kitchen or messy bibs strewn on my kitchen table. That's not a problem. The danger lies in priding ourselves on our internal imperfections.
I gossip. I'm lazy. I'd rather spend time on Facebook than in God's Word.
Those are sins. Slandering God's children, wasting God's time instead of seeking how to put this life He has given me to good use, these do not honor my God. And I should not allow myself to be lulled into the sense of false security sung to the tune of, "That's ok, I do it, too."
It's not ok! We've heard it before - if everyone else was jumping off a bridge . . .
Here's the deal - we who have called on the Lord are called children of God. We are not perfect, no not one (Romans 3:10). And we know that. And it's good to recognize our imperfections, but we need to be spurring one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), not letting each other off the hook just to make ourselves feel better. Our feeling better is not the goal. We should constantly be sloughing off our imperfections in a never-ending goal of Christ-likeness. We should be sharpening one another as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Don't laugh off my fatal flaws - call me on them! We'll both be the better for it - or so promises the Word of God.
Be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

14 August 2009

Phantom Lip

I had a wisdom tooth removed this afternoon (yes, a tooth, and as my wonderful board game from the 70's purchased for a $1 at Good Will calls it: I had a tooth excavated - seriously? It's not like my mouth is an actual cave!). Anyway, my mouth, or at least one side of it, remains entirely numb. I had my husband pinch my lip as hard as he could earlier (I practically forced him to, he didn't want to cause repercussions such as a fat lip, but I thought it would be fun) just because I couldn't feel it. And now? Now my chin itches. The question is: how to scratch an itchy chin that feels nothing? I suddenly feel bad for amputees (not that I didn't feel bad before, but I now feel a new sort of empathy). Hubby tried to convince me to watch myself scratch it in the mirror, as apparently that's how the amputees solve the problem. I hope it works better for them than it did for me.

07 August 2009

Suckers 'R Us

I don't think I have ever felt the ooze of materialism and wasteful spending any more than I did this past week. I had never before been in a building which was designed with the sole purpose in mind to play on the emotions of expecting mothers and the well-meaning loved ones who plan to dote on this tiny new being.
I'm talking about Babies 'R Us.
It is true, I registered at this spending mecca in the past, before I knew the lions' den into which I was pulling those I love. However, I had never actually set foot in the building before this week. And my eyes have seen the light, or shall I say darkness, that is the baby super-store.
From the moment I entered the parking lot, my over-spending sensors began to weaken. The sight of slightly pregnant women who had just finished filling their registry or new babies being pushed in strollers after their mothers had pampered them began to cause me to swell inside with joy.
Ah . . . babies!
What could be more simple and pleasurable than a tiny human being?
As I crossed the threshold, my senses were overwhelmed with baby . . . calm music playing overhead which made me want to rock a baby to sleep (in a brand new glider sold on aisle twelve), soft baby pinks and blues decorated the racks of tiny sweaters and leggings (on sale!), I could smell the baby powder (aisle 2, next to the baby wash) and my fingers longed to reach for the soft plushness of the yellow baby blankets (which would fit perfectly into that beautiful new crib!). I saw complete matching sets of bouncers, play-yards, strollers, high chairs, car seats - everything in a young life that must coordinate because, heaven forbid the Pack-n-Play not match the baby carrier!
The registry section, an entire corner of the store, was outfitted with helpful sales associates and plush chairs for the expectant mother (so as to not exacerbate the swelled ankles, I'm sure). All angled precisely so as to allow an ample view of the necessary goods the store is there to provide.
As I shopped for a needed booster seat (purchased with a gift card which was nearly a year old, much like my little cutie), I was nearly poisoned by the toxic un-necessities of portable placemats, designer wipes covers, decorative potty training seats and tiny sandals which perfectly matched the design I had been searching for for myself.
Never did it become more real to me, though, the dangerous nature of this place, than when I began to check out. This is when I discovered that no one is actually expected to purchase anything for themselves in this wonderland. No. The sole purpose of this establishment is to suck dry the wallets of those who would only spend exorbitant amounts of money when they can justify the spending for someone else and to convince mothers-to-be that this "stuff" is necessary and will be an appropriate display of affection from those they love best, but who, also, would never dream of owning something so over-priced unless it were a gift, which somehow makes the process of spending way too much for something the child won't even remember owning (or sleeping in or riding in or playing with) all okay. Normal, in fact.
And, thus, I watched the older woman in front of me in line pay $50 for a diaper bag (for her new grandchild, most likely). Which, while cute, was a bag. A bag to hold diapers (and other necessities, it's true). An amount which, were it to be spent on any other bag, would seem a waste, but because it's for the baby somehow seems just fine.
Then, when it was my turn, I was asked (a question required to be asked or I would receive a free drink . . . from where, I wondered? The decaffeinated coffee bar in the back that I must have missed?) if I was purchasing from a registry. No. Did I want to take advantage of the free gift-wrapping service. No, thank you. Oh, and here's my receipt, gift receipt included, have a nice day. As if it's completely absurd to believe that I was actually purchasing a product for my child that would, that very afternoon, be covered in cheerios and uneaten vegetables, rather than re-gifted or returned for the purposes of buying the cheaper model at Wal-Mart and pocketing the difference.
At this point, I ran for my life from the jaws of the monster, vowing never to return or register there again. Until, you know, my next child comes along and this store happens to be the only one carrying the print for those crib sheets I just have to have . . . even if they are a little more expensive than the ones elsewhere. Someone else will buy them for me, right?

30 July 2009

Nerves of . . . steel?

It's ridiculous how nervous a person can get. It's 8:45am, the agreement was to play my "featured listener" interview on-air at 9:20am. Ok, not to burst the bubble, but this is a pre-recorded interview, which means, I already did it and yet, I'm sitting here, stomach in knots over listening to myself on the radio. How lame is that? My hands should not be shaking right now (especially not when attempting to type!). This is ridiculous.

It probably doesn't help that I psyched myself out yesterday by reading, by chance (not in preparation, I'm lame, not OCD), an article detailing dumb things said in job interviews. You know it's bad when you read those and half of them you ask yourself, that's not that bad, is it? But, now, in hindset, or I suppose it's foresight at the moment, as the interview is, of yet, still un-aired, I wonder . . . does one mention they haven't done anything but check e-mail all morning and are still, in fact, in their pj's when doing a 10am radio interview? Or is that something social convention says to keep quiet about? Or a former love for J.C. of N*SYNC fame (or infamy) - is that something a mature adult (or one who likes to feign maturity) actually discusses in public? Or should I be hiding that fact in shame?

I suppose only time (3o min) will tell . . .

28 July 2009

Help!

"You shall not see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them." (Deuteronomy 22:1-3, emphasis added)

This passage in my reading this morning hit me right between the eyes. While it may be true that a stray ox or sheep are not anything I encounter in my daily jaunt to the mailbox or my local Wal-Mart, it is also true that I do tend to take more of the innocent bystander's role in various situations rather than the action-person or solution-finder. Most times when I come across an unfortunate situation (such as one described in the next verse: Deut. 22:4) I often think to myself, "Aw, that's too bad . . . I would help, but . . ."

And the "but" takes on various forms: ". . . I really don't have the time," "I don't have any knowledge in that area; I wouldn't be of any help," "I'm sure help is already on the way."
The real truth, however, is that I am scared. I live in my happy bubble filled with happy people that I know and with whom I am comfortable. I would give them anything they needed (except only the shirt off my back in extreme situations as that leaves a girl in a rather awkward/inappropriate state). If I found the ox of a friend, for sure I would return him. But the ox of a stranger? Even with a phone number on the tag, I'm not sure what I would do. I do hate to make phone calls.

What I'm saying is, like many people in our world, I am afraid of the unknown and while I want to help people, I usually find it easier to just look the other way than "butt in" someone else's problems. They can find their own way, I figure.

And yet, the Bible does not so quickly let us off the hook. Not only does it advise us to help our neighbor in need, but we are "not allowed" to ignore it! Yikes! Thus, in walking/driving right on by, I am no longer an innocent bystander, but I have very quickly taken on the role of disobedient child of God. And that is not a role I cherish.

The Word of God is clear, the heart of God dwells in me, I should not deprive his hand of help to any in need. Lord, work through me.

23 July 2009

Deals, deals, deals!

I just spent $19.53 at Big Lots - quite a splurge for a couple who will make a special trip to McAlister's for free tea so that one of us doesn't have to pay to try the rumored amazing-ness of said tea. What, then, would cause us to throw our well-planned budget to the wind?
I'm glad you asked.
On a tip from my big sis, we made a little jaunt over to Big Lots (between the free tea and picking up some free road trip listening material from the public library) to check out their DVD deals, and color us excited to find Seasons 1-3 of "The Flintstones" as well as Seasons 1-3 of "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (which even the store clerk was stunned to see in our hands when we were checking out - guarantee you he spent part of his paycheck tonight!) for only $3 each! $3! Can't beat that with a stick (especially considering TV on DVD is round 'bout the only TV we do in this here residence)!

To add to the excitement I performed the sick ritual I always undertake when I believe I did well with a certain purchase, I looked it up on-line and sho' 'nuf we gots ourselves a DEAL, ladies and gentlemen! The Amazon prices on our new TV specials ranged from $30-$40 for EACH season we procured. Score one for the team!

Thanks for sharing in my excitement - I get a little proud sometimes. All that to say, check out your local Big Lots if you're looking for some good, low-cost entertainment. Now excuse me while I take part in a little Yabba Dabba D-action (I couldn't resist).

22 July 2009

On parenthood . . .

For the past ten months I have been changing diapers, washing baby parts, waking earlier than desired to provide nourishment to a tiny body and clapping with joy at each sign of a new development, such as crawling, which brings this diminutive person closer to being a self-sufficient adult, while at the same time not considering that terrifying future wherein my daughter won't actually be this giggly bundle of cliched joy. And, yet, it is only just beginning to sink in the severity of this new role in my life.
I am a parent.
And as such, my responsibility is not solely to provide for the physical needs of this precious child of mine, but to foster her spiritual and moral development as well. And that's a whole lot more than I ever allowed myself to consider before.
Frankly, it gets tiring. The task of training a little person what is acceptable and what is not is not for the lazy, which, I'll admit, is a category in which I could oft place myself. It would be much easier to simply "let that one go," but this is when I remember, her choices aren't the only ones with consequences. If I "love" my daughter too much to discipline her, or I'm too tired to tell her "no" this one time, where will I find her in sixteen years?
Sigh. Life was much easier before I had to worry about this kind of foresight. But then, it was a little more boring, too. And I know, as the days go by, a couple of well-timed swats and stern "no"s will be quite a fair trade in exchange for a disciplined, respectful and cherished daughter who will one day be able to make choices on her own - and not just any choices, but the right, God-honoring choices necessary to live a purpose-filled life.
What an honor to guide her toward this goal!

09 July 2009

Addicted to Free

Yes, it's true. My name is Angela and I'm a free-aholic, in case you couldn't tell from my FREE Birthday Extravaganza post. As a stay-at-home mom, I don't find I have much expendable income, and even if I did, free beats cheap any day. Thus, I spend parts of my days signing up for free samples (that's free stuff, plus something in the mailbox other than bills, what could be better?), taking surveys for money (surveyspot.com, check it out if you have free time to take surveys), and generally signing up for free programs to earn, you got it, free stuff.

My new faves:
swagbucks.com (if you sign up following this link, you help me out, but don't feel obligated, please!) - a search engine powered by Google and Yahoo which gives you the opportunity to earn points (called swagbucks, hence the website) for free things, most excitingly, amazon.com gift cards (plus if you get friends to sign up, you get a buck for every buck they earn) - if you want to be even more swag savvy, you can download their swidget, which I check obsessively for codes to get more bucks. Also, you can download their toolbar, or if you use firefox, designate swagbucks as your search engine of choice in your upper right search bar, and you'll use it automatically any time you need to find something - free money, people, can't be beat!

mypoints.com - ok, so it's not new to me, really, but they send e-mails (about 2 or 3 a day) for junk I don't usually want, or offer points for buying things at their partner sites, which I don't usually do, BUT what I DO do is click on the links in the e-mails. Each clicked e-mail gives an automatic 5 points, and does NOT cause more spam to you or your computer. I simply click, close the tab that opens, because I honestly don't care about the site, usually, then delete the e-mail. Takes 3 seconds, 5 points. BAM! I've earned much money in free clothes (I think my total is up to $70 to date - now that's over two years, but $70 is $70). If you're interested and want to help me out, let me know and I'll e-mail you a referral link. Or if you're impatient you can sign up without my link, just don't tell me, or I'll cry.

Finally, Disney Movie Rewards, which gives you points with each code you enter from qualified titles on Disney DVD. Also, you can get 50 points right away by entering the code "GOOFY" and another 100 points by taking a one-time survey. From that and going through my own collection of Disney movies, which always had the codes and I always ignored them, I already have 850 points, which means I already do qualify for some rewards (most of them, to be sure, are pretty lame, unless you like mini-posters or High School Musical, but as can be imagined, there are some things worth saving up for).

So, yep, those are some of my recent free faves. Hope I was able to welcome at least a few into the wonderful world of free (since I referenced Disney earlier, you think they'd let me borrow their phrase just this once? I sure hope so - I can't afford a lawsuit - unless I can pay for it with my Movie Rewards).

And as my Wal-Mart cashier said last night when I bought Hairspray on DVD for $3.26 after tax, "You can't beat that with a stick!"

08 July 2009

Come again?

Our credit card company called us today. Turns out they were concerned because we had not been using our card. How sweet. When I informed the polite woman on the phone that they had not done anything wrong, rather, we had just made the choice not to use credit cards anymore, she, in turn, out of the concern from her heart, I'm sure, replied:

"Well, in light of the economic downturn, we are encouraging our customers to use their cards for everyday items so they can avoid going into debt."

Now, I know I'm no financial guru, but last time I checked with Dave Ramsey (and my common sense) using a credit card was not the most efficient way to avoid going into debt. Call me crazy, but I do think there's a reason it's called credit card debt.

Rather than invite logic into the conversation, I simply stated, "We're fine, thanks." They are so thoughtful.

27 June 2009

The Best Things in Life are . . .

Here I thought I was too old for themed birthdays - I presumed such coordinated celebration went out with my coincidentally themed Little Mermaid Birthday when I turned nine - but alas, I have re-discovered the concept of categorically similar birthday activities. The theme for this year = FREE!!!

Yes, everyone likes free, especially when it comes to organizing one's own birthday activities, being that the day of live-in party planners (ie, Mom and Dad) are long gone (and, let's be honest, I never really had any party planning of any sort - you can feel sorry for me later, right now I'm relishing in my frugality). Free is the 25 year-old's Elmo.

Technically, you're right, my birthday isn't until tomorrow - still nearly a long hour and a half away - and yet, the majority of my FREE birthday extravaganza is well behind me - placed in my store of very good memories.

It all started with my gift to me: maid service for a day. Unfortunately, the only maid I know is me, but goody for me: I happen to like myself very much, so I gave myself a good deal (FREE!). And now my house is beautiful, clean, and shiny. A clean it hasn't seen in many a moon. Not perfect (please don't check my closet), but vacuumed, which is a big step, with clean counters, an empty(ish) fridge and a spotless, well-stocked pantry. (Taking a big sigh of relief as I picture it now.)

Today was a glorious continuation of the FREE theme. As no one has provided us with any, no hats were involved, but there was ice cream (yes, FREE ice cream!). Thanks to the oh-so-generous birthday clubs of Red Robin and Cold Stone Creamery, Philip and I enjoyed a wonderfully FREE dinner and dessert (ok, we did buy beverages and tip our waiter, we're cheap, not heartless). Yes, we BOTH enjoyed free meals because, in case you were unaware, our birthdays are separated by a mere three days - thus we both reveled in (okay, I reveled, Philip accompanied and ate his bacon cheeseburger and ice cream, declaring it was, in fact, good) the FREEness of checking another year into our past.

The one treat we enjoyed that wasn't quite free was Philip's arcade adventure - but you'd be surprised how far $5 can go in the land of shoot-em-up entertainment.

Wow. I'm still giddy. Yes, I'm a cheapskate. I know it, I own it.

22 May 2009

Where's my certificate, report card, anything?!

I'm disappointed in today's educational system. I was led to believe that if I worked hard, put in the effort, wrote the papers, took the tests and, all around, spilled my brains out on paper, I would be rewarded and all around me would have no doubt of my overwhelming intelligence. I was duped.

I have now been out of college for three years, out of the work force for two - and in that time I have yet to receive one report card, a certificate of achievement, a cord to wear around my neck at graduation, heck, I haven't even heard about a graduation - near as I can tell this stage of life just keeps going and going with no kind of accolades at all. What the heck was I working toward for the past twenty-five(ish) years?!

In fact, these days are now spent washing clothes that get dirty again, emptying the dishwasher that gets filled before I can turn around, cleaning floors that are perpetually dirty, changing diapers that always seem to be wet and grasping, in vain, for some way to prove to somebody, anybody, usually myself, that once upon a time I was regarded as a highly intelligent human being, complete with straight A's, a high ACT score and a title following my name at graduation. If only that mattered now.

Now I'm relegated to the knowledge that even though I'm spreading out a bedspread that I dried, against my better judgment, in our non-industrial-sized dryer, thus breaking said dryer and semi-melting said comforter, there really was once a time that I could kick the mean tail out of a calculus equation or two - heck, I could even write one smokin' book report.

Take that, world.



"And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 'Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.'" - Revelation 4:9-11

04 May 2009

Oh So Glamorous

"I feel oh so glamorous, looking super fabulous"

If you don't recognize the above lyrics, it probably means you're not a thirteen year-old girl - so that's a good thing. I will have to admit, I have suffered every once in awhile from the guilty pleasure of imbibing in the toxic tonic that is tween pop - Ashley Tisdale, Miley Cyrus - I'm a closet Disney pop-star fan. Yes, I've DVR'd Hannah Montana, even repeats I've seen before. Yes, I've watched High School Musical . . . by choice . . . more than once.

However, this embarrassing self-revelation has nothing to do with the what I came here to tell you, except for the fact that due to my recent cosmetic enhancements I find myself belting lyrics to Ashley Tisdale tunes in my head (if you're singing in your head anyway, might as well sing it loud and sing it proud). What have I done to cause such a reveling in pre-teen glamour? I have painted my fingernails. Yes, for the first time since dressing as a rock star in third grade with red tips or participating in blue and silver spirit days in high school, I have a color on my nails other than clear (or French tips - which haven't even appeared on my nails in a good five years).

Now, it's not just having a hue on my fingertips that is so impressive, it's the particular shade that I'm sporting this morning that has added this extra zest of peppiness. You see, it's amazing how glamourous simple tasks, such as changing a diaper while wearing an oversized "I Heart New York" t-shirt and American flag boxers, can feel when decorated in jazzy pink. Yes, pink. For those who don't know me, pink is not exactly my signature color. I absolutely refused to wear it during my high school years and only recently have begun to branch out. In dressing my daughter in varying tints of the girly pigment, I have begun to open up a little more.

Thus, when I had to paint my nails to keep one from peeling painfully mid-nail, I allowed my dearest husband to select a shade. Pink, interestingly enough, was his color of choice. So, I embraced the dare, and here I sit, happily clacking away with nails that are much more bubbly than I (which, if they could talk, would probably interject a high-pitched squeal every now and again) and I, suprisingly, maybe, kind of, like it. Shh. Don't tell.

And, at least until the shade wears off, I will enjoy reaching to tickle my tiny bundle of joy with fingertips that match her p.j.'s - at least they're shiny.

21 April 2009

Life Gets Interesting: A Day in the Life, Then and Now Edition.

Then:

Decide to go grocery shopping on Tuesday mornings, so as to avoid the crowds.

Tuesday, 7:35 am: Wake up. Choose outfit, get dressed, pull back hair, head to living room.

7:40 am: Eat Breakfast with hubby, fill out grocery list, sort coupons, etc.

7:50 am: Gather purse, cell phone, keys; drive hubby to work.

8:00 am: Arrive at Wal-Mart, find closest parking spot to the door (which is pretty close at 8am on a weekday). Go into Wal-Mart, grab cart, meander through grocery aisles, pick up food on the list, check out, unload groceries in car, put cart away, get gas.

8:30 am: Run various other errands – make car payment, run to pharmacy, etc.

9:00 am: Arrive home, unload groceries, unwind until noon when hubby needs to be picked up for lunch.

Now:

Decide to go grocery shopping on Tuesday mornings in an attempt to fit the activity in between Baby Girl’s eating and nap times.

Tuesday, 7:05 am: Wake up. Realize I’m running late, hurry to throw on clothes, pull hair back, get breakfast for myself, fill out grocery list.

7:20 am: Get Baby Girl up. Feed Baby Girl.

7:50 am: Baby Girl finishes eating, change diaper, pick out clothes for Baby, get baby dressed (with help from hubby).

7:55 am: Hubby puts Baby Girl in the car while I gather diaper bag (checking to make sure it has wallet, diapers, etc.), sweater, cell phone, keys; drive hubby to work.

8:00 am: Realize I forgot grocery list at home. Not wanting to turn around to get it (as hubby is already running late for work), dictate new grocery list to hubby as I drive.

8:04 am: Hubby is late for work. Head to Wal-Mart.

8:09 am: Arrive at Wal-Mart, choose parking spot relatively close to the front door, but, more importantly, also close to cart return, hoping a cart is ready and waiting. Grab cart, steer back to the car, put cart cover in cart (not necessary, but Baby Girl likes it), fish Baby Girl out of the car, put her in the cart, hoping today she sits up straight and doesn’t keep falling over to the sides like she did last time. Put diaper bag in the cart, head into Wal-Mart. Meander through aisles, gather necessary groceries, while keeping new, improvised grocery list away from baby hands, as it has, at this point, now been ripped in two by rogue baby fingers. Smile as Baby Girl waves to random old woman who fawns over how precious babies are. Feel warm fuzzies inside because others like my baby :)

8:35 am: Check out. Realize Baby Girl is only wearing one blue sock, wonder what happened to other blue sock. Put grocery bags in cart, meticulously re-trace steps through Wal-Mart twice, asking store clerks, find no blue sock. Sigh. Decide lonely blue sock must now be saved for mis-match days. Head to car.

8:45 am: Load baby and diaper bag into backseat, unload groceries into trunk, take cart cover off, put in trunk, return cart to cart return, get gas. Head to library.

9:05 am: Arrive at library. Gather seven books into one arm, noting that children’s books are relatively awkward to carry in a stack with adult books in one arm, gather baby into other arm, head to get diaper bag, realize the something slimy on Baby Girl’s leg isn’t something we want to be touching. See smallish pool of poo in car seat, have inner debate over whether to change diaper in parking lot or in bathroom inside the library (with no changing station), opt for bathroom. Re-arrange arm loads so as to lessen poo impact on my own clothes, re-gather baby, re-gather awkward stack of books, put awkward stack of books down, put diaper bag on the shoulder, re-re-gather awkward stack of books.

9:10 am: Drop awkward stack of books off at check-in counter, head back out to bathroom, place baby on her changing pad on bathroom counter, with awkward smiles to woman washing her hands at bathroom counter. Clean up mess. Wash hands, one at a time, while keeping one hand on baby so she does not wriggle off of counter.

9:15 am: Go back into library, gather new library books and videos (including Baby Einstein for the little one – she’s never seen one, sounds like fun). Check out, request plastic bag for books, so as to avoid awkward book stack on the way back to the car.

9:25 am: Put diaper bag and book bag in driver’s seat, set Baby Girl in back seat (not car seat), gratify her with singing Leap Frog toy while cleaning poo from car seat. Place Baby Girl in car seat. Move diaper bag and book bag back to back seat.

9:40 am: Arrive home. Lay Baby Girl down for nap. Unload groceries from the car onto cluttered kitchen counters (with dishes still from Sunday). Put milk and frozen pizza away. Take car seat out of car. Figure out how to remove car seat cover from car seat, hoping I will remember reverse process later. Spray car seat cover with Shout, put in washing machine.

9:50 am: Unpack groceries. Sit. Grab computer. Blog about how interesting life is post-baby, while waiting for car seat cover to finish washing so it may drip dry while baby clothes get washed and for Baby Girl to wake up from nap to eat.

10:00 am: Smile to myself knowing life is good.

15 April 2009

My Way, Right Away

While completing the last day of study for my Wednesday morning women's Bible Study focused on Shaunti Feldhahn's "For Women Only," I had an epiphany. So I chose to reveal this to you. Congratulations. You're SO lucky!

First, let me start with a story. While baby-sitting last week, my young, five-year-old charge decided she wanted to do an Easter Egg hunt. So, I hid the eggs and we both (aka, she) found them. Then, she hid the eggs and we both (aka, she) found them. Then, after quite a few turns of this, she started getting more creative in her hiding places: in the bathroom, under her pillow, in the high chair. And, again, she was quite the little detective in finding these eggs she hid herself as I followed her with my own basket, marveling at her skills of observation. But then came the surprise: as I hid the eggs this time, I was to hide them in the same places she hid them. I clarified, "Do you mean the same rooms or the exact same places?"
"The exact same places."
Uh oh.
See, I hadn't exactly seen where half the eggs were hidden, as she was the one to collect them from their hideouts. So, I improvised. I put the ones I remembered in the correct places, but with some of them, I opted to mix it up a bit. Instead of under her pillow, I hid one about a foot away, under her blanket, just for a little bit of a challenge. As it turns out, a challenge was not what she was looking for. As soon as her eyes popped opened, the first place she headed her tiny toes was toward her bedroom, right for the pillow - prepared with her "surprise" face for when she found the prize. But there was no egg. The surprise face turned to anger. Fury I didn't know could exist in a little five-year-old body.
"Why isn't the egg there?! I hid the egg under the pillow! I told you to hide it in the same spot!"
I tried to be game and apologize and point her best I could to the real location. She bristled and moved on to the next one. There was one under the couch. She didn't hide one under the couch. There was one in the highchair - finally the right place! But wait -
"Why isn't this the same color as the one I put there?! Why didn't you do exactly what I did?!"
"I tried, sweetie, but I couldn't remember every place."
"Well, next time you need to pay attention!"
Needless to say, that was the end of that game. I refused to continue playing someone else's game if they weren't even going to appreciate the effort. We moved on to a less demanding activity, instead - but my frustration was not quite over and I did not have the same enthusiasm for anything else the rest of the day. I was exhausted.

I only realized today how often I am that five-year-old when it comes to my husband.
I want romance, and I want it my way.
I want flowers. He never gets me flowers.
And then I complain.
He has cleaned my car, he cooks dinner, he changes diapers and he reads bed-time stories to our Baby Girl - but I want flowers.
I've told him this - why doesn't he pay attention?!
I've hinted at other things I want to do and, yet, he's never done them.
Why isn't he paying attention?!
Meanwhile I wonder why he seems to be giving up on playing my game. Wow. How immature can I be?It's time for me to grow up.
My husband is awesome. He tries, and does an amazing job - just because he's not following my orders doesn't mean he's doing a bad job at the game. And, besides, what fun is getting a "surprise" when I've planned every detail myself? I can be pretty lame.

08 April 2009

I Walk the Road

I was in Bible Study this morning, studying the passage about the two friends on the road to Emmaus when Jesus appears to them post-resurrection and I feel like there was a torrential downpour of revelations flowing into me that I hope I can somehow put together into words that make sense outside of my own head.

The passage we were referring to was in Luke, Luke 24:13-35 to be exact. Here we find a familiar story of two friends traveling to Emmaus after the crucifixion of their dear friend and leader, Jesus. They are discussing the events when a stranger approaches them. We, as the omniscient readers, know this stranger to be Jesus and too often we dwell on that and forget to see this story from the point of view of the two men. This man was a stranger to them. They did not know from whence he came or why he was at all interested in traveling with them. On top of this, he has the audacity to ask them why they are sad – to which one replies, “Are you the only one who has no idea what’s going on?!” Our friend, Jesus, asks them to enlighten him.

This is where the story begins to be something we can relate to, only I’ve never noticed this before. They begin to detail for him the events that have recently unfolded – there was a man who they believed to be the redeemer of Israel who had walked with them and taught them and they had placed all their hope in him as the true Messiah – and then he died! Just like that. He never put up a fight; he didn’t rain down fire on the Romans; he didn’t start this glorious uprising – he just died! And NOW, women are claiming to have seen him arisen and they don’t know what to do about that.

Just imagine! These men, and almost anyone who truly believed Jesus was the Messiah, spent the whole time they were with Him just waiting. Waiting for that magnificent moment when Jesus would rescue them all from the lives they’d been living. Isn’t that what the Messiah was going to do? So they waited. He was arrested by the guards and they waited. He went through the trial and they waited. He endured humiliation and torture and they waited. He was nailed to the cross and they waited. And then He breathed his last.

And it was like losing that breath they’d been holding for the last three years, waiting. And then they remembered – He had predicted this! He was going to die and then be risen again! Surely, that’s when they would see His awesome power and He would show the world who He was. Surely. And then these women come and claim to have seen Him alive?! Surely not! Surely when He arises it will be powerful and without question the most amazing thing anyone has seen. He would surely not simply come to life and talk to a couple of women without grandly announcing His victory.

But that wasn’t His style.

Jesus was never flashy and did not feel the need to overtly express His strength. He was a gentle spirit who had come to seek and save the lost.

How often are we those two men on the road – just waiting. Waiting for God to come into our miserable circumstances and sweep us away to victory. Yes, we may be in the valley but we just know God will bring His chariots of fire to rescue us. Surely He does not intend for us to stay in this valley and endure it to the end. Surely not.

God never promised we wouldn’t have to walk the road of sorrow – He only promised He would walk with us, whether we recognize Him or not.

- - -

Remembering this, then, that Jesus was not the mighty sword-wielding crusader they were expecting, I thought back to the stories we know of Jesus, especially in dealing with the lost. How often do we see Jesus telling the lost they're doing everything wrong? Explaining to them they are the most despicable creatures on earth, but if they turn around, then He'll associate with them - then He'll show them love? I'm pretty sure I missed that Bible story. Do we see Him outside the brothels with signs, picketing? Do we see Him boycotting because the tax collectors are greedy liars? Pretty sure we don't. In fact, when do we see Jesus angry? Stop. Think about it. When do we see Jesus throwing a fit over the way others are acting? I'm pretty sure it's not with unbelievers.

The accounts we have of Jesus ready to spit fire, throwing over tables, and calling people out is only when He is dealing with those in the church - the ones who are crushing down those who are already oppressed. The ones who are blatantly disrespecting His Father and the lost sheep He has come to find.

How often do we act as less of a representation of Christ and more a representation of Peter, pulling out our swords to cut off the ears of anyone who acts against God - rather than allowing God to take care of it? We were not called to be God's rabble-rousers. Read the Old Testament - God rained down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, His power tore down the walls of Jericho. I'm pretty positive He needs no help from us if He sees immoral disbelievers that need to be taken care of.

What He does call us to do is to be Jesus to others. Be the relational extension of His hands and feet. Feed the hungry, embrace the unclean, the untouched. Show them love.

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 2:5

10 March 2009

Over the Hill

My munchkin is over the hill!!! As of 7:36 this morning, she is officially more than halfway through her first year of life. Six months! How did we get this far?! Life is insane.

Six months ago, this tiny thing entered the world helpless. Her itty bitty head, hardly supported by her wobbly neck, was so fragile (and huge compared to the rest of her!). Her spindly arms and legs did almost nothing. The best way to comfort her was to hold her against our chests so she could hear our heartbeats and feel close to us - she wasn't used to NOT being close to me! While she was quite an alert newborn, she still spent more hours sleeping than doing anything else. We were excited just to see those gorgeous eyes open up, we could hardly expect anything more from this tiny creature.

Today, six months later, she lays on her back next to me, pulling at her feet (it's a struggle to keep her timely Shamrock socks in place on those spry little feet). She grasps a rattle she pulled from the blanket on which she rests (well, maybe "rests" is not the appropriate word for her current state of being - "wriggles and squirms" would be much more accurate). She waves said rattle through the air, to the beat of Mandy Moore (her momma might be influencing her musical taste slightly toward the girl pop of the late 90's - sorry). When I look at her I earn myself a beautiful, toothless smile and, if I'm lucky, a giggle. She's trying as hard as she can to figure out how to roll onto her tummy, having already triumphed the task of getting to her back. As I finish this paragraph, neither of her tiny tootsies are any longer Shamrock-clad. She is one active, exciting and attention-hungry bundle of wiggles. I love it!

And it's only been six months!

September

October

November

December

January

February

March

They say time slows down from here . . . right? ;)

24 February 2009

No such thing as a free lunch?

Because of the havoc wreaked on our local Quizno's this afternoon, due to a printing error on our part (darn that hanging-by-a-thread ink cartridge!), I feel the need to do a little advertising for them. Okay - really, I'm going to give you your own chance to wreak havoc at your own local Quizno's (dying ink cartridge sold separately).

Quizno's apparently has the goal to give away a million free subs in 2009. Who am I to argue? I'm all about helping others to achieve their dreams. I call this my contribution. So if you want a free sandwich, go for it!

As for Philip and I, after we ruined the day of our local Quizno's cashier, we took our free sandwiches, contraband drinks from Philip's wonderful place of employment, and self-provided Chex Mix and Pringles (look, we actually paid for something!) and ran . . . to a nearby park for our own tiny picnic and Baby Girl's first slide experience. Good times were had by all (except the poor woman at Quizno's - we do feel pretty bad for her.)

(Oh, and if you're stuck for what to order, I highly recommend the Turkey, Bacon, Guacamole wondrousness. Really, can you go wrong with bacon? I didn't think so.)

20 February 2009

Fire Starter

Philip and I have been married nearly three years and in that time I have started as many fires. Now, we could argue, and I do, that one of those fires was hardly my fault. Honestly, who expects that plugging a flash drive into the USB port will cause their computer to internally combust? Not many, I tell you, not many. And we could argue, and I do, that the other two "fires" did not actually involve flames - merely burning embers and a lot of smoke.

Tonight's "fire" casualty was a Pyrex bowl which suffered the wrath of chocolate that was not so much chocolate by the time the microwave was done with it, as much as ashes and glowing embers - the bowl fought as hard as it could, but within five minutes of being rescued from the heat and smoke, the glass could no longer take the pressure and at 6:45 this evening (give or take a half hour - honestly the clock was the least of my worries at the time) it passed - very loudly and explosively. It took with it a nice pile of baking soda.

It shall be missed.

The Lost Tapes


Every day Philip and I send instant messages back and forth while he's at work. The following are real excerpts from real conversations in this past week alone. It's a wonder he gets any work done at all with the deep issues I ask him to ponder.


me
: I have ideas - lots of them
Philip: ok
me: and they're all floating around
everywhere
I need a pensieve

-------

me: how bad is it for the cats, do you think, if their food is laced with Nesquik?

-------

me: this candy I made for tonight - so bad for the teeth - but so yummy on the tongue

------
me: Have I mentioned before that I'm a big fan of butt ruffles?
Philip: ;)
I think so
me: ok

-------
me:I'm using a free sample of Crest Whitestrips that we got in the mail and I'm not sure how I feel about them
I keep tasting the bleach and feeling like that's not good - but if it wasn't good it wouldn't be marketed to be left in someone's mouth for a half hour . . . right?

me: um, I think it's slipping off, which I don't think it's supposed to do
especially not since it's the "Advanced Seal" strip

me: btw, I kept the strips on 5 min longer than I was supposed to
Philip: ok
me: so if my teeth fall out, we have to blame it on my losing track of time
:(

-------
me: http://balletoklahoma.com/performances.html
They'll be performing The Wizard of Oz at the end of March
sigh
I want to go to a ballet

-------
me: I forgot to ask what cereal you wanted this week, and I forgot my cell, so I just guessed - but I'm glad I got what I did because while unloading the groceries I realized . . .
you get a free racecar in your cinnamon toast crunch!

-------
me: you know the woman in the guiness book with the longest fingernails?
(I remember seeing her in a special on TLC or something like that)
Philip: Yes... she and I have tea every second thursday
:P
me: shut up
Philip: What about her ;)
me: she lost her fingernails in a car crash
they hadn't been cut since 1979
Philip: Wow
I'd be sad, but seriously... that's just gross
me: it's really gross, but if you think about it from her perspective, that has to be pretty devastating
it's her claim to fame, she's lived with those nails for THIRTY years
it's like losing a friend
I would imagine


Yes, we're quite profound. I'll bet some of you are sad I don't keep you entertained while you're at work. I'll bet.

08 February 2009

Whachyou Talkin' 'Bout, Willis? (Or more correctly, Who?)

Here we go again, learning from Numbers. Who reads Numbers? I tell you what, I wouldn't if it wasn't part of the daily plan I've been following for the past two years. Today it's Miriam and Aaron - did you ever notice (I didn't until I sat down to write this) that God seems to most severely punish those sins that are commited by more than one person together? We have the example of Nadab and Abihu - struck dead, Ananias and Sapphira (we remember them, don't we? Refer to Acts 5 for a refresher) - struck dead, and now it's Miriam and Aaron - one of whom is struck leprous. Interesting, isn't it? Notice how we tend to be more eager to do wrong if we have company. Because obviously if someone else willing to spiral down with you, it can't be that bad, right? I think maybe God chooses to nip corporate sin in the bud before the cancer of those willing to pull others with them eats the church alive. Maybe. That's just my interpretation.

But that's not our point for today.

In today's example we find the nation of Israel still wandering the desert (always wandering the desert) and Moses has apparently married a Cushite woman. Well, you can read it for yourself,

"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman) [Am I the only one who laughs at that parenthetical statement? I love the need to clarify that they're not speaking against Moses for marrying the Cushite woman that he had not, in fact, married. But I digress. Let's read on, shall we?]; and then they said, 'Has He not spoken through us as well?'" (Numbers 12:1-2).

I will summarize the rest as being that God was obviously not pleased with Miriam and Aaron grumbling against the one He had chosen (their very own brother, by blood, no less), so he called them all for a pow-wow (and you thought being called into the principal's office was scary?!), He tells them He will speak to whom He sees fit to speak and if He should see fit to speak to Moses, then how can they not be afraid to speak against him? In the end, Miriam is a leprous mess, Moses tries to plea for his sister, but she has to sit it out for a week before God will lift the disease. Definitely a much milder punishment than Nad and Ab, but definitely not a happy reaction from God.

Now, let's backtrack - what was their sin? They spoke against the one God had chosen. In their speaking against him they a)were complaining about something specific he'd done that they didn't think he should be doing (I'm not going to pretend I have any idea what the deal is with Moses specifically marrying a Cushite woman is, but I know they didn't like it) and b)they cut Moses down by saying, in effect, "Who does he think he is? He's no better than either of us."

Seriously, people, as Tim Hawkins would say, do you even need a punchline? I know I cannot be the only one who reads this conversation and thinks, "Hmmm. That sounds familiar." And only half of the examples in my head are my own - because aren't we just as quick to say, even if only to ourselves, "That sounds just like so-and-so!" and in doing so, aren't we doing the same thing we're condemning them of? Seriously! I know I am not the only one guilty. But I am also not fool enough to assume that this comraderie of sin makes mine any more excusable.

People, God hates it when we speak against other members of his body. When we see the work someone is doing for the church and we bash on it, saying we could totally do that better. And, yet, are we willing to actually do the work ourselves? And even if we are willing, have we been appointed to do so? In addition, we see something another member is doing and put that in the category of, "Things I Would Never Do", thereby giving ourselves the right to discuss it openly and, might I add, not exactly lovingly, with fellow believers.

We are pulling each other down into our own pits of mire and then wondering why we're covered in mud. Funny how when we're the ones slinging it, it sticks mostly to ourselves, doesn't it?

So, here's the lesson I'm taking from this - I need to keep my mouth shut. I don't care what the situation is, who is in it, or how it affects me - I have no right to speak against another member of God's body unless I am going to speak to them about the issue first. And if I'm going to talk to them about my problems, I better be praying and having my heart right first.

God puts certain people in certain places and I trust Him to do so. I'm sure He's glad He has my permission now. Right.


23 January 2009

The Year of the Scarf?

Alright, I will confess. I have recently become quite addicted to keeping up with the lives of complete strangers for no other reason than the fact that I have little else to do (or I like to pretend I have little else to do, such as putting away the laundry that is currently resting, serenely folded - at least I got that far - on the couch) than read the blogs of other women who also happen to live completely imperfect lives and are having a great time with it!

On said blogs there has been somewhat of a recurring theme of scarf-wearing as one of these has deemed it the Year of the Scarf on the fashion zodiac (You can catch up on these intriguing threads here, here, and here). I initially read these posts (or more accurately watched these posts as those in question were introduced in the form of video blogs - would those be vlogs?) with a grain of salt because I understand that while I love to cozy up with a nice scarf when the weather calls for it, or should call for it even when it's 75 in January, I rarely wear one apart from my coat, meaning it is far from a fashion accessory for me. In fact, almost all things fall out of the category of my fashion accessory of choice - if it's not covering something vital or instrumental in keeping something that's covering something vital in place (ie, a belt), then I don't wear it. It's just one more step for me to avoid in the morning and one less thing for my money to be poured into. (Let me take this moment to clarify - I do admire the way other woman accessorize so well, I'm just not that gifted in that area, that's all.)

However . . . a thought did occur to me that I happened to have a nice black scarf gifted to me by a very generous mother-in-law, purchased in some South American country (the scarf, not the mother-in-law), that has been napping very nicely along with my sweaters which has yet to be worn because, as mentioned above, I am not the fashion maven I play on T.V. (or anywhere).

So, today was the day! In a last-ditch effort to avoid packing (as in, I was in the room, I had a stack of clothes to choose from for the weekend and then I thought of the scarf - yes! Diversion created!), I decided this was my moment. I propped my fashion consultant (ie, my 4-month-old daughter) on a couple of pillows in the middle of the bed so she could better aid me in my fashion foray. I pulled out the scarf, I tugged on a white T-shirt and I tried out the combo.

My first effort yielded a raised eyebrow from the critic that said, "Mom, what are you doing? Just put the scarf away. You know you are not that cool." But I was not to be easily deterred - I tried once more, adjusted, re-adjusted, and turned around to show the new finished product.

A big grin, arms flapping wildly. I took that to mean, "Bravo, Mom! You're on your way to being a fashion diva, yet."



PS Here is a really bad self-portrait of my efforts (and my gorgeous critic - who, as you'll notice, may have had an ulterior motive in supporting my choice - she's just excited about a new toy around mama's neck):