Friday, November 28, 2008

Let's Shop!

As I write this, I must admit that I'm a little sleepy. For the first time since I walked away from a career in retail, I dared to take on Black Friday. And because it's been several years since I even attempted to leave my house on the day after Thanksgiving, I decided to do it big time! That's alarm sounded at 4:20am and I was out the door with my flyers, coupons, and plan of attack.

I fought traffic jams, scored a great parking spot, watched registers carefully as my deals rang up on the screen, and stood in a line so long that I really should have had a chance to ride Space Mountain at the end. It was GREAT!

I LOVE shopping and I LOVE a great deal. Which is why I love what I get to do today... I get to offer my very first GIVEAWAY today!


Before I tell you how it will work, I want to tell you a little about the person who made this giveaway possible.

It seems like everyone I know has "one of those" friends. The kind of person you've known forever. The type of friend who can pick right back up where your friendship left off, even if you haven't seen eachother in years. A girl who knows so much about your hopes/dreams/fears/secrets that you're quite grateful that she loves you so much. Someone who gets your inside jokes and still laughs even though you made those jokes up in middle school and they are decidely un-funny now.

Someone who inspires you when you're around her because of her optimism and her hope in humanity. Someone who isn't afraid to say what she thinks, even if her opinion isn't popular. But then again, she never seems anything BUT popular because people are drawn to her honesty and integrity. Someone who doesn't shy away from hardships. Someone who still laughs easily, though life hasn't always been easy.

Someone who is raising loving, respectful children and nurturing her husband.

And when she takes her cape and boots off at night, she pulls out her needle and thread, and weaves together amazing, whimsical little creations. Then, she opens up an Etsy shop so that others can enjoy the works of her hand. And she names it the Paper Sack. And ships it in the cutest packaging I've ever seen.

And allows her friend of more than 20 years(who until recently hadn't spoken with her in 3 years), to give away the most beautiful cornhusk angel away so I could celebrate my 100th blog post in style.

You know: THAT kind of friend.

So, here's what I want you to do. Leave a comment (you have a week). Tell me one thing you admire about THAT friend of yours. And then let her know, too. I'll randomly draw a winner on December 5.

(Ooh, and I'd love to hear about any good deals that YOU found today, too! You did get out there and shop, didn't you?)

Monday, November 24, 2008


Count Your Blessings
Name them One By One
Count Your Blessings
See What God Has Done:

I've started this post four times and deleted it four times. Because I cannot seem to even wrap my mind around where I should start counting my blessings??!!

My list is endless, and I suspect yours is, too! So, I just want to share 3 things that God has done to bless me beyond measure during 2008.

1. This blog. Several years ago, I started a blog and updated it only a handful of times. In February of this year, I was inspired to pick it back up for a variety of reasons. Over the past 10 months, God has made it abundantly clear that He wants me to step out in obedience and write more about my experiences with Him. This blog has provided me with a platform to practice and a sweet bit of encouragement! Through this channel, God has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. I'm so grateful for His guidance. And grateful for a new way to handle life's ups and downs. My friend at Surviving 4 and I agreed the other day that even when a day goes terribly, at least we'll have some good material...

2. My marriage. We celebrated a decade of wedded bliss this summer. OK, it hasn't all been bliss, but I think that's why I'm so grateful. As we celebrated my brother's wedding this summer (and welcomed my wonderful new sister-in-law to the family), I have been more thoughtful about my own relationship with my hubby. Things haven't always been easy, but in the difficult times, he proves again and again that our marriage is worth fighting for. I never doubt that God brought this man to me. And that He bestowed a temporary dose of wisdom into two 22 yr old kids when He guided us toward choosing our lifetime partner.

3. Guatemala. I haven't written much about our trip this summer to an orphanage in Guatemala. But I'm grateful that God allowed a group of 15 children to soften my heart in the most incredible way. I'm grateful for a desire to be a long-term part of their lives. I'm grateful for the ability to tell my son stories of the children who have so little wealth but know so much joy..

My list could seriously go on and on. I want to tell you all about an incredible group of friends.. a ladies Bible study... a quick healing...but I'm pretty sure that you might question my sincerity if I told you that I'm honestly thankful to God for the pumpkins, heavy whipping cream and various spices that are essential to the brewing of my favorite beverage.

So, I'll ask you. What are you thanking God for this year?

Yelling at the T.V.

My hubby seems to be under the delusion that the television is an interactive appliance. It's the only explanation I have come up with for all the conversations he has with the big box in our living room.

In the morning, he holds witty debates with the news anchors over at NBC, imploring them to present a more fair and balanced view of politics. In the evenings, he cheers on his favorite (insert appropriate sport/season here) teams on to victory.

And should his beloved Auburn Tigers show up for a Saturday game now and then, we wear earplugs and give him a ten foot radius to yell, cheer, jump, and challenge the calls made by the refs. He doesn't seem too disappointed when no one from the other side of the screen responds, so I've learned to live with it.

But over time (we've been married more than ten years), I have apparently learned how to do a little more than "live with it". Because last week I caught myself having a conversation with Moose A. Moose.

For those of you who don't know Mr. Moose, he's the host of NOGGIN, a channel of shows for preschoolers. Between each show, Moose A. Moose comes out with his little friends to star in educational segues for the regular programming (kinda like commercials, but not exactly).

Each month is a different theme, complete with puzzles, songs, games and short stories. Well, November is the month to Give Thanks! That's great. I appreciate that NOGGIN wants to foster a spirit of gratitude in my child. But I question their motivations after learning last month that we should all "Wrap our arms around Mother Earth" and give her a big squeeze for giving us air, water, and animals. Hmmm...

I happened to stroll through the living room during a Moose A. Moose segment last week. He was singing a cute song, extolling the virtues of giving thanks for mom and dad, for food, for water, for our pets, the list went on. And I suddenly found myself engaged in an intense "debate" with my yellow cartoon friend.

"To WHO? Thankful to WHO?" I asked.

Unlike my hubby, I'm still an amateur at this "talking-to-the-t.v." thing, because I kind of expected an answer. Which is why I went on to clarify myself. "I appreciate that you want to teach my child to be thankful. But doesn't it seem a little vague to remind them of their blessings but forget to mention Who they should be thanking for all those blessings."

The moose had no response.

And while I was a little disappointed in myself for yelling at the T.V., I have been reminded of that question over and over again this week.

"To Who?" Who is the recipient of my gratitude? Do I make enough effort to credit my God for being the source of my blessings? Or do I settle for just being generally thankful?

Tomorrow, I want to share some of the reasons I'm thankful this year. But today, if you have found your way here, I want to tell you WHO deserves every word of thanks that spills off of these lips.

My Creator, my Healer, my Sustainer and Provider, my Comfort and Shelter, my Rock, my Father, my Savior, my Counselor, the Giver of all good things. God! He's the One I'm thanking today!

(And unlike my T.V., He's always up for a great conversation...)

Psalm 110: 4-5
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


f.e.m.a. - (fish emergency management association) the Maternal Parental Household Agency tasked with all tank-related Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, Recovery...and Funeral Services (when necessary).

Breaking News
A f.e.m.a. official arrived on the scene only seconds after the unfortunate series of events that led to yesterday's toxic spill of an entire container of fish food into the tank.

Bystanders were hesitant to comment on what they witnessed, but two particular preschoolers were being held by authorities for questioning.

First responder "mom2drew" gave a compelling account of the rescue efforts, many of which are still underway. "It was quite a mess when we got here. It was hard to get a clear picture of what we were dealing with - the water was so contaminated, kinda murky and orange... and we knew we just needed to get these residents into safer living conditions. That was our first priority."

But rescue efforts proved to be slow-going as the residents of the ten-gallon tank seemed less than eager to leave their homes and belongings. "I was able to air-lift two to safety within the first few minutes, but the others were harder to secure. There were obstacles like rocks and seaweed. After a while, the smell and the poor visibility made the job very difficult."

Eventually, all of the fish were moved to temporary housing as crews arrived to begin the arduous task of decontaminating the area. Within a few minutes, the flakes of food had turned to mush, making any cleanup efforts a challenge.

After several hours, the majority of the work was completed, and the tank was re-opened for residents to return home.

"We are grateful that so many did survive this ordeal," said mom2drew. "But we are saddened by the staggering loss of 40% of the community. We never feel good about the loss of lives, but with an incident of this magnitude - we're just grateful for what we were able to accomplish."

No doubt the remaining residents of the tank will feel both sobered and grateful this morning as they awake in their newly cleaned, less-populated environment.

Authorities have vowed to tighten security around the tank, making parental supervision a requirement for future feeding times.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Great Expectations

Do you remember what your expectations of parenthood were before you had children?

When I found out I was pregnant, I expected a nine-month journey of bliss. I'd have glowing skin and silky hair, and my baby "bump" would be accentuated by the latest styles in maternity wear. Of course, all my shoes were going to fit until the delivery day.

I would arrive at the hospital with full make-up, hair done and would lounge in a chenille bathrobe and matching slippers until the big arrival.

I would deliver a tiny little boy and dress him in soft shades of greens and cream colors (blue was too cliche').

He would sleep well, nurse like a champ, and gaze contently up toward his momma as I sang "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor and "Lullaby" by Billy Joel.

As he grew into his toddler years, my "Look" would be all it would take to restore order if his behavior got out of control.

He would talk early and love sports. And he wouldn't watch T.V., except for the occasional educational program (for culture, you know!)


The reality of my pregnancy included round-the-clock morning sickness for at least seven of the nine months. Dehydration does nothing for the skin or hair, and my gray roots dominated my stringy tresses once I decided that hair coloring might harm my unborn child.

Because I didn't win the lottery during my pregnancy, my maternity wardrobe consisted of one pair of black pants that I wore almost every day paired with whatever top covered all the curves and looked somewhat professional. My Payless tennis shoes were 2 1/2 sizes larger than my normal footwear, and did nothing to impress my boss or clients.

I arrived at the hospital in sweats and a ponytail. My hair hadn't been washed since the last time I'd slept... it had been days.

My "tiny" little newborn boy tipped the scales at 9 lbs and nursed for only 2 weeks.

When he finally learned to talk (very late), he asked me to "Please stop singing" lullabies.

My "Look" - it did nothing. Except prompt him to either laugh or give me his "Look".

He loves T.V. and it's a great babysitter (I know, I KNOW!). And he just looks so good in blue!

Last week, I told Drew's grandparents that he might really like a watch for Christmas. Today, he announced that he preferred a bow & arrow. A few hours later, he professed a deep enjoyment for the act of spitting (he actually used the word "Passion"). I responded with the "Look".

Perhaps someday I'll share my expectations of what I believe his teenage years will be like. (I mean, not every teenage boy shows such respect to his momma and enjoys hanging around his house so much when he's not at football practice or rehearsing with the youth group's worship team at church...)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Surprise Packages

A friend recently sent me a package filled with all sorts of goodies. As a treat, she included a few ziploc bags of frankincense and myrrh. I guess she'd found them at a cool little boutique and thought Drew might get a kick out of seeing the spices that were such significant gifts from the wise men to the baby Jesus.

Things have been a little busy for me this week, so I forgot to touch base with her to acknowledge that I got the package in the mail. A few days went by and the thought occurred to her that she may be in for a big surprise by way of several burly federal agents beating down her door.

You see, apparently frankincense looks quite a lot like an illicit and very illegal drug. Granted, she wrote "Frankincense" on the baggie to avoid any kind of confusion with aforementioned drug, but she considered that the U.S. Postal Service may or may not just take her word for it.

So..., she was glad when I finally confirmed that I received the package - all labeled baggies of "spices" included.

While I was still laughing over the potential debacle we avoided, I remembered another incident that involved me, the postal service and a pretty big misunderstanding.

It was a few years ago. Drew was an infant, and it was late October. My hubby was away on business, and I came home to find a very small package sitting by the front door. With arms full of baby, diaper bag, groceries and keys, I stepped over the envelope and entered the house. Several minutes later, I stepped back out onto the porch to retrieve the mail. Upon close examination, the package (addressed to me) was dirty and hand-addressed. The return address gave me no clue as to the sender, and I certainly didn't recognize the handwriting. A bad feeling sat in my stomach... but I tore a small edge off of the envelope in spite of my hesitation.

Upon peering through the tear, I determined that the envelope I was holding contained nuts, nails, bolts, etc. Hmmm... My next few thoughts included warnings of white powder and images of a guy with a hooded sweatshirt and glasses.

I dropped the little package and herded my family to the opposite end of the house. With trembling fingers, I dialed the police. Well, I dialed my brother who IS a police officer.

"You have to come over right now. Someone has mailed me a suspicious package!"

In an impressive display of patience (maybe he just knew he'd be able to tell a good story), he actually came right over to take a look at the offending parcel. I shouted directions and observations from the corner of a bedroom.

"See that handwriting! I don't recognize it!"
OK, he mumbled.
"Did you open it yet!? Do you see what's inside?! Is it really nails, did someone really send nails in the mail to me!!!!!!"
Yes, someone sent you nails. Just hold on. Let me see if I can open it.
"BE CAREFUL! Are you done yet?"
Yep. There's a packing slip here. It's from Haverty's. Did you order something from them?

I HAD ordered something from that fine furniture retailer a few weeks prior. And even though the nice young men who delivered the trundle bed also put it together for me, the nice people at the manufacturing facility decided to just go ahead and send me the "kit" to build the bed myself. No note, no invoice, no directions. Just a "kit" full of nails, bolts, and other small hardware necessary for bed-building.

The whole incident lasted about an hour - start to finish. It took another 2 days and one angry phone call to customer service for my heart to regain it's regular rhythm.

I haven't always been so dramatic (and I will block all comments to the contrary). Perhaps my mother-bear instincts drove me to the point of paranoia that night. Perhaps I was just a little on edge with my hubby/protector out of town. Maybe I would have handled it independently if I didn't have my local law enforcement on speed dial.

But, it's a crazy world out there, and I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'm just glad that my sweet, considerate friend labeled her "goods" when she sent them. I'd hate to disturb my brother on his day off just for a bag of frankincense...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tying Up Loose Ends...and some other stuff

Sometimes, when I don't feel like cleaning my house...
(Hmm...In an effort to be more transparent, I need to start over.)

I NEVER EVER feel like cleaning my house. But when the need for order becomes necessary, I have been known to grab a big bucket and run through the house collecting all the "stuff" that needs to be put back in it's place. Sometimes the "stuff" finds it's way back to it's proper home. On most days, it just stays put in the bucket - but that's better than scattered in 27 different locations, so I count it as progress.

Today, I feel like I need to run through my blog with my big bucket and gather a few loose ends.

First, we only have a few weeks left until our 100th blog post party. I'm excited to share that I have a giveaway!!!!!!!! You see, if I've learned anything since starting this blogging adventure, it's that people LOVE free stuff!!! And the BEST part about the giveaway is that it will give me an opportunity to introduce you to someone who's been an amazing friend to me for more than 20 years. But more on that later...

Second, I want to thank you all for thinking about and praying for Drew. Several of you shared your concerns and thoughts since my post about his headaches. We're so grateful that he has not experienced another headache since the doctor's visit - yey! Since migraines are common among several of our family members, we're hopeful that his little bout was related instead to sinuses or perhaps an allergy.

Next, a wonderful friend pointed out something that I know you won't want to miss being a part of. If you don't read the "Bring the Rain" blog, I encourage you to clear your calendar for a few days, head over to her site, and start from the beginning. If you are a fan, you have already seen Angie's awesome 7-prayers format for praying for your kids. Well, I'm so glad she made a button - which I'm putting up on my blog today.
(Click on it to link directly to Angie's post)

Finally, I am headed to my mom's house today to search for the "Punk/Pop" Halloween costume picture that you are not going to want to miss! (UPDATE - I found it.. scroll down or clink on the above link to check it out!)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Every Morning

I'm currently working through a Bible study by Beth Moore called "Living Beyond Yourself". We're exploring the fruit of the Spirit, and I am trying to let every single word of it speak to me. So, when Beth challenged me during week 6 (about Patience) to wake up one day before dawn, go outside, and "lift up the day's needs as the light begins to dawn and the sun rises", I was ready for this wonderful and refreshing new way to spend time with the Lord.

Daylight Savings Time had just ended (or begun, I have no idea except that I got an extra hour of sleep), so the timing was pretty good. At 5:22 a.m., I woke up (without even an alarm) and shuffled into the living room to find my Bible. The dog was eager to have an early-morning companion, and I realized that I would get no peace until he'd been fed. So, I fed the dog.

Then I pondered my instructions. My Bible study had suggested that I go out into the backyard and face east ('cause that's where the sun makes it's grand entrance). After pondering my east from my west, I determined that I could not, in fact, see the sun from my backyard. I had no choice but to go out front.

I shuffled back to my closet for a bathrobe and socks. The dog was finished with his breakfast, so I invited him out front to roam around while I prepared to spend some quality morning time praising God for a new day.

In order to find the perfect lawn chair, I had to move a ladder and several riding toys. Once my lawn chair was set, and I had Bible, pen (and coffee, did I mention the pot of coffee that I brewed?) in hand, I turned to a few scripture verses that had been given as a starting point to consider this new day.

By the light of the garage, I read Genesis 8:22 - "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." I was quietly reminded of God's perfect control over the balance of the world around me. Day and night, sun and moon, in perfect rhythm. "Lord, thank you for a new day!" I began... before I thought of a question...

"Lord, what time exactly is the sun going to rise today?"

I hadn't really considered it before, but I suddently wondered if this whole Daylight Savings time change meant that the sun now rose around 8am. Because I wanted to be totally o.k. with it but I also kinda wanted to know if I needed a more comfortable lawn chair. After all, it was just shy of 6 a.m.

I will honestly tell you that I considered getting up from my chair and checking the internet for the approximate "Sunrise Time". And I will also share that I thought better of it and sat myself back down.

Lamentations 3:22-23 said, "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."

As I pondered this passage, I prayed for my family. For a fresh dose of His mercy for my day. For many things that were already threatening to weigh me down and control my thoughts before the day had barely begun.

But - I feel compelled to be honest - I was having a hard time getting to a place of stillness, of quiet, maybe like I was just getting in the way. The prayers I lifted up became more dutiful than genuine and I spent only a few more minutes in the chilly breeze.

Having almost convinced myself that the sunrise was hours away, I snuck back into the house and opened the blinds of three big windows in the front room. Settling comfortably into the sofa cushions, I re-opened my Bible.

Seconds later, a sweet morning voice called out, "Mommy! Hi Mommy! What are you doing in there? Why is it still dark outside?"

I pulled my sleepy son up into my lap and we faced the windows. "The sun hasn't come up yet" I explained. But it will, I thought, as I recalled the words found in Genesis. "Let's watch it come up together!" "OK... let's do that!"

So, I sat on the couch that morning with my child and talked to him about our Great Big God. About how He makes the sun come up in the morning and the moon rise at night. How each morning is a brand new day. We thought of all the songs we knew that mentioned the sun or the morning or a new day. I managed to croak out one verse of "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!" He wanted to sing a song he learned on Noggin.

In those precious morning moments, I marveled at God's PATIENCE with me - driven by his unfailing mercy. I took the words of Lamentations personally. The faithful love of the Lord (for me!) never ends! His mercies (for me!) never cease. He loves me enough to challenge me to spend time with Him in new ways. And then He mercifully gives me the most beautiful options when I just can't get my "go-outside-for-quiet-time" act together. His mercies for me are new every half-hour!

I have since shared two more precious mornings of watching the sun rise with Drew as we sit snuggled into the couch cushions - staring toward the east - in awe of our Creator who puts on a spectacular display every morning (at 6:46 a.m. EST, by the way!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Writing Prompts

In an effort to glean inspiration, I recently visited some writing websites. One site had a small section labeled "Writing Prompts". I curiously clicked, and my screen displayed a list of hundreds of questions. Simple, one-sentence questions that were designed to "prompt" writers to think creatively...then with fingers to keyboard, respond with brilliant and inspired prose.

Because we just went through a fun holiday, I was drawn to a question that asked me to consider my favorite Halloween costume of all time. And maybe that question appealed to me because I just needed a reason to post THIS picture of Buzz Lightyear and Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl from last Friday night.

It's surely my favorite "recent" costume because Drew loved seeing his mommy as "that cowgirl from the movie!!!!!!"

But thinking back on ALL my Halloween ensembles from years past, I recalled with great delight one of my favorites from childhood.

It was 1983 and I was a PUNK ROCKER. Granted, I had no idea what it meant to be a true PUNK ROCKER because I was seven years old and my parents were responsible adults. To this day, I could not tell you the name of a single "Punk" group past or present. But I knew that they had colorful, crazy hairdos, and that was all the inspiration I needed.

So, my best friend and I wore cut-off jeans, jelly shoes, and t-shirts that we ripped open a little at the neck so they would hang rebelliously off of one shoulder. We tipped our heads to the side and spray-painted our hair with various shades of pink, green and blue. The side-do's were held in place with massive quantities of AquaNet. And because it was 1983 and it only seemed right, we each polished off our look with one white glove.

The overall effect was more "Pop" than "Punk", but I thought my costume was totally tubular!

I may just have to dig a picture out of the dusty old albums to show Drew. I just hope he doesn't ask me what a punk rocker is... because I'm still clueless.

UPDATE - Well, it might have been even better than I remembered. I'll give you a clue as to which punk rocker was "Yours Truly". Hint: A familiar wave of jealousy resurfaced when I pulled out this picture and saw that awesome "Thriller" shirt my friend had. I begged and begged my mom for one just like it. She took an old brown shirt from her closet and splatter-painted it for me. Close. So close.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Last Straw...

She was having a bad day.

Or, at least I assume that she had been inconvenienced in some way LONG before she approached the self-serve soda fountain.

As I filled my cup with raspberry-flavored ice tea (Drew's choice, and I don't recommend it), she squeezed in next to me and loaded her cup with ice.

All was well until she noticed the sign.

"The Pepsi.... is BROKEN!?
Of COURSE it is.

She paused and took three steps back so that her body was now positioned in the midst of the dining area. She squinted and leaned forward.

"Now what am I supposed to do?"

And she just continued to stand there, staring at the Pepsi button. Not even like she was WILLING it to work. No, she had already given up hope. She just stood there in defeat for what seemed like an eternity.

Then she wandered back toward the register, I assume, to change her order.

Don't get me wrong, if anyone needs a soda-soaked shoulder to cry on, I'm your sympathetic girl (read more here). But I just have to wonder if something else brought her to the brink of hopelessness that day.

Because if all that stands between your good day and bad day is a spout that dispenses fizzy syrup, you're asking for some disappointment in your life.

So, what was your latest "Last Straw?"

(Mine occurred somewhere between the 15th "are we there yet?" and the 57th plea for more candy...)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Just when things get predictable...

Just when I thought I had my son figured out:

He braved an inflatable bounce house at our church "Trunk or Treat" event last night.

He sat still long enough to have his face painted at a fall festival today.

He asked for his Daddy to come sit with him for a few minutes at bedtime tonight.

I was recently reading an article that advised parents to avoid putting labels on their preschoolers. Phrases like: "Suzy isn't very athletic, she prefers to read." or "Billy is very shy in social situations."

While these attributes may define children for a time, kids often outgrow some behaviors or develop their natural temperaments in ways that defy parental expectations.

So, I suppose that my "Scared-to-try-new-things-because-he'd-rather-be-with-mommy-than-anyone-else-in-the-world-(especially-at-bedtime)-little-man-who-can't-sit-still-for-five-minutes" is not quite willing to be defined by my labels either.

(look at that smirk...)