Monday, April 30, 2007

quiet weekend


Sunday was an interesting mix of a day, but mostly it was relaxing...

I guess it really started Saturday night when we went out to Joe's Crab Shack in Bolingbrook, but when we got there it was out of business. Lesson learned under the "don't procrastinate going to restaurants you love". I heard there was one at Fox Valley...I hope so!! We haven't been to one since we went with Joy and Mike back in the dark ages!! We strolled through Joannes and Michael's looking for a scalloped punch, which we found, and texture plates, which we didn't. What good is it to win a cuttlebug if you can't find any thing to use in it??HMMMM????

Home to just hang out and listen to the birds before the sun set. Come to think of it, we should have had a fire pit, but neither of us thought of it I guess.

Then Sunday, Cassie came to church, much to my delight. It was so great to sit with her during service, but I didn't hear her sing at all. I miss hearing her voice!! Someday... I hope. She ran into a bunch of people who she knew from back when...so that was cool, I think. I went on to class and came home to yummy pancakes...

and Cassie telling me that she's decided not to go through with the wedding in August. I hope she sticks with it. I fear she won't. Based on our conversation today, I think she's backpedaling already, because Chris cried when she told him. Sigh.

Anyway, we had a nice lunch with us all laughing and teasing each other; then shopping for her to use her Target card from Alicia. She's a careful shopper but spend every cent on herself. YEAH!

Back for a chat and dinner (some freakin' hot guacamole too!!) and a conference call about Paul's dad coming home on Wed.

Now it's back to the mountain of laundry and putting away my spring clothes.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Moving right along...

went out with my shimmer sista's last night. We've been meeting on and off for a year, and seeing each other at MOPS, and praying for each other...what a great group of women!! We laugh, eat, talk about everything under the sun, and are still realizing how much we don't know each other!! It was great to get away from everything for an evening and just be...and the pie wasn't bad either!! Here's to double fork eating, circle journals, honesty, heart connection and all the forms of beauty and strength I was with last night!!
And big kudos to Eloisa who passed on the pie as most of us were eating not one but TWO half slices!!
I was blessed last night, and continue to be blessed by the women in my life.
And thanks Lana for your comments...that was pretty much my take on it.

How sad...

that people feel compelled to be rude behind anonymity. But in the nature of soul searching, I"m asking you guys who DO know me...is there any truth to what this person is saying? Please be honest...and sign your name!! LOL I really do listen for that nugget of truth in criticism, not matter how harsh, but I'm not feeling it on this one.
Check out March 9th's post and comment section...and let me know.

Friday, April 27, 2007

You raise me up

I love this song...have loved it since my niecie first popped in to play with her "Ohhhhh AG,, I loooooove Josh Groben" (and I was like who??) anyway...this song makes me think of my dad...at his best.

"You Raise Me Up"
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.
There is no life, no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But then you come, and I am filled with wonder;
Sometimes I think, I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

So here's the question:
Who raises you up?
and who do you raise up?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Well, now that the wall street journal has said it...

it must be true.
Scrapbooking is dowdy. DOWDY!! Isn't Queen Elizabeth dowdy? Hrmph. Read the article for yourself..and fyi...I color coded the particularly irritating points this guy made...as IF!! I have never been called dowdy...directly or indirectly!!

Dowdy Craft Business GetsMartha Stewart Makeover
As Media Outlook Cools,She Tries Scrapbooks;Wooing 'Elite' Dealers
By BROOKS BARNESApril 25, 2007; Page A1
On a recent episode of her daytime television show, Martha Stewart set out to make a decorative songbird out of wool and felt. It didn't go smoothly. She struggled to wind the wool into a head and strained to insert wire legs. "This is a tough little bird," she told viewers, frowning.
Now Ms. Stewart hopes a high-stakes crafts project for her company will be less exasperating. On May 1, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. will roll out a line of more than 650 products aimed at the legions of hobbyists who assemble elaborate scrapbooks. It's the company's biggest merchandising initiative since it teamed up with Kmart stores in 1997, and it represents a strategic shift toward licensing its brand and selling via the Internet.
What does the domestic-arts maven see in a dowdy industry where merchandise is sold in cluttered stores stacked floor to ceiling with pipe cleaners, Styrofoam balls, glue sticks, beads and fake flowers? (has he ever BEEN to a scrapbook store??? or did he just stop at the Walmart craft department and call it a day???)
"Paper crafts may sound like a quaint pursuit," says Chief Executive Officer Susan Lyne. "But it's actually a rapidly growing business." Preserving photographs and memorabilia in decorated albums -- enthusiasts call it scrapbooking -- has grown into a nearly $3 billion industry, according to the Craft & Hobby Association. Martha Stewart Living hopes to ring up enough sales of $1.69 colored markers, $4.99 bottles of glitter and other merchandise to generate $100 million of annual sales within three years.
The rollout of Martha Stewart Crafts is part one of a planned merchandising blitz that the company hopes will return it to profitability and deliver long-term growth. Although Martha Stewart Living posted revenue of $288 million in 2006, up 36% from a year earlier, it had a loss of $17 million. It hasn't turned a profit since 2002, the year Ms. Stewart became entangled in a securities-fraud investigation that resulted in her five-month imprisonment on an obstruction-of-justice charge.
Ms. Stewart's high-profile media businesses have traditionally been the company's engine. But both magazines and television face serious long-term challenges, including the migration of advertisers to the Internet and a declining audience for daytime television.
Ms. Lyne's strategy: steer Martha Stewart Living into low-cost, high-margin licensing deals. Ms. Lyne hired Robin Marino, former president of Kate Spade Inc. and a veteran of Burberry Group PLC and Federated Department Stores Inc., as the company's first president of merchandising. Ms. Marino already has lined up deals to sell Martha Stewart dinnerware and furniture at Macy's, premium Martha Stewart house paint at Lowe's and even Martha Stewart-branded homes.
But it's Ms. Stewart's bet on crafts that investors and competitors are watching most closely. The company sees the sector as a promising new revenue stream, one perfectly suited for the Internet. Its entire scrapbooking line will be offered for sale on the newly redesigned MarthaStewart.com, the company's first major retailing attempt via its own Web site.
To succeed, Ms. Stewart will have to connect with a far-flung world of customers, including legions of Middle Americans who may never have used her tips on home decor or holiday cooking. (Because Lord KNOWS we ar far to busy checking out the dowdy fashions and trying to stave off the attack of styrofoam balls to make our homes...welll HOMES.)She put her designers to work coming up with new twists on such mundane products as scrapbooks, ribbon, and cardboard boxes (this guy is ticking me off!!). Her executives went looking for a retail partner whose stores didn't look like a mess. (Didn't stop at our Michaels...what a mess...all mess all the time...that's their motto)And Ms. Stewart herself hit the road to try to woo some hard-core crafters.
Martha Stewart Living has always stood out as a rare business built around a single person's taste and sensibility. The partnership that put its products into Kmart stores has been rocky, with sales lower than expected. That convinced the company of the importance of tightly controlling product design, marketing and even store layouts. Otherwise, the brand will suffer, it concluded.
Eccentric Business
The crafts business, in some ways, is eccentric. Even outlets operated by big craft chains often resemble Main Street hardware stores from a bygone era, with oddball items stacked inefficiently in a dusty jumble (again...where the heck does he SHOP???). Suppliers are a hodgepodge, ranging from the office supply giant 3M Co. to a two-person company that sells a single item, Baby Tooth Album Inc.
Scrapbooking draws a diverse crowd, crossing age groups and ethnicity, and is particularly popular in smaller communities. It's possible that crafts and scrapbooking enthusiasts will view Ms. Stewart's glitzy Manhattan media company, along with her exacting recommendations for doing things, with a measure of suspicion.
"I'm not sure people want to bring a brand into their scrapbook," says Shelly Izen, the owner of Scrapbook Fever, a crafts store in Salem, Ore. "Martha's stuff looks pretty, but crafters are strong-willed and don't want to be told what to do. Martha's stuff seems very 'do it this way or no way.' "
The U.S. craft and hobby industry recorded $29.5 billion dollars in sales in 2006.
Ms. Stewart, in an interview, predicted crafters will ultimately embrace the line. "We have some high-quality, wonderful products that I'm sure people are going to love," she said.
Scrapbooking dates back to the 1800s. Mark Twain helped popularize the practice by patenting, in 1872, a "self-pasting" book that had thin strips of glue on each page. It wasn't until the late 1970s, when interest in genealogy spiked following Alex Haley's "Roots" book and TV miniseries, that a cottage industry sprouted to cater to scrapbook fans, who often fill their books with pieces of family history.
Between 1998 and 2006, scrapbooking grew from a $350 million hobby fueled by mom-and-pop stores to a $2.6 billion business, according to the Craft & Hobby Association. Big retailers began stocking items for enthusiasts, such as specialty scissors, stickers and sparkling paper. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in February said it would stop selling fabric by the yard in certain stores and begin offering crafts supplies.
"It's not a very sexy business," says David Abelman, senior vice president of marketing for Michael's Stores Inc., a big operator of arts-and-crafts outlets in the U.S. and Canada. "But a lot of people have realized it's a good one."
Ms. Lyne hopes he's right. Worries about the future of Martha Stewart Living's media holdings have contributed to a 21% drop in the company's stock since Dec. 20. The CEO is eager for licensing deals to kick in. "The year ahead is an important one for us," she told investors in a conference call in February.
Martha Stewart Living's stable of magazines -- Living, Everyday Food, Body & Soul, and the newly launched Blueprint -- are growing, Ms. Lyne notes. Ad pages for its flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living, totaled 1,287 in 2006, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, up 95% from 2004, when advertisers fled following Ms. Stewart's conviction.
Slow Gains
But the magazine has yet to regain its 2002 peak of 1,887 pages, and the gains are slowing. That troubles some investors and analysts. In this year's first quarter, ad pages in Living increased 11%, compared with an 80% increase in the same period last year. By comparison, Time Warner Inc.'s Real Simple magazine, which gobbled up market share during Ms. Stewart's legal troubles, saw ad pages rise by 32% in the first quarter.
Ms. Stewart's chief financial officer, Howard Hochhauser, says the company expects advertising revenue to grow by about 25% in 2007, due largely to a recent price increase. He says the company views publishing as a "vibrant" business.
Ms. Stewart's syndicated television program, "Martha: The Martha Stewart Show," has won awards and attracted strong advertiser interest, but hasn't met ratings expectations. The program attracts about 1.5 million viewers each day, according to Nielsen Media Research, about 40% fewer than stations anticipated when it launched at the beginning of the 2005-06 season.
Shows with similar ratings typically face cancellation. But General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, which distributes the program, has agreed to give "Martha" another year before deciding its fate. Ms. Stewart recently fired the show's executive producer as part of an overhaul effort. "We are bringing back more of what Martha is known for, teaching and how-to inspiration," says Ms. Lyne, who notes that much of daytime television has been struggling. The company cautioned investors in February that it expects TV revenue to drop in 2007 because of a failed DVD effort.
The merchandising relationship with Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings Co., has also been disappointing. In recent years, sales have been lower than anticipated, partly because higher-end consumers interested in Martha Stewart products were unenthusiastic about her Kmart line, retail analysts say. To make matters worse, Kmart has shuttered dozens of stores. A Kmart spokesman declined to comment. Ms. Lyne says the company plans to "refresh" its Kmart product assortment later this year. The current agreement between Ms. Stewart and Kmart is set to expire in 2010.
Despite the Kmart problems, the company believes that merchandising and licensing deals can deliver growth opportunities and high profit margins, while requiring little upfront investment.
Ms. Lyne says the crafts push will lend itself to Internet promotion and merchandising. Scrapbooks are often assembled communally, with aficionados hosting "cropping parties." MarthaStewart.com aims to both sell scrapbook supplies and serve as an online forum for crafters. Users will be able to post videos and photos of their projects, view craft-related video clips from Ms. Stewart's show, and download instructions. The company says crafts is already the second most visited section of the site, after food and cooking.
Exclusive Partnership
To protect its brand, Ms. Marino sought an exclusive partnership with a specialty retailer. The company decided that two national chains -- Jo-Ann Stores Inc. and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. -- were too downscale, according to two executives involved in the matter. Representatives of those companies didn't return calls seeking comment.
Martha Stewart Living executives opened negotiations with Michael's Stores, which has 920 stores in the U.S. and Canada. The typical Michael's store stocks 44,000 different items, says Harvey Kanter, the chain's executive vice president and chief merchant. In exchange for a commitment from Michael's to reduce clutter by reorganizing its shelves, Martha Stewart Living named the retailer the exclusive bricks-and-mortar outlet for its merchandise, at least until the fall.
Mr. Kanter say the changes were helpful but not extensive. "We just needed to think a little bit harder about our customer's needs," he says.
For their product line, Ms. Stewart and Hannah Milman, editorial director of crafts for Martha Stewart Living, tried to come up with new twists on old products. Ms. Milman says innovations include adhesive-backed ribbon and "collector boxes" in which crafters, instead of pasting keepsakes into scrapbooks (what??? I can't remember the last time I used paste...anyone else??), can create displays for wall-mounted dioramas.
Senior licensing manager Alex Perruzzi says the design flourishes will allow the company to market and price the merchandise, which also includes some paper products unrelated to scrapbooks, as premium and "aspirational." A white cardboard box for holding cupcakes -- think school bake sales or housewarming presents -- is based on one from Ms. Stewart's favorite bakery in Paris. Sheets of colored paper aren't described as brown, but as "Norwegian chocolate."
In January, the company dispatched Ms. Stewart and a dozen executives to Anaheim, Calif., to give a group of "elite" private craft dealers a sneak preview of the line.
As the invited dealers sipped wine and munched on gourmet Asian appetizers, Ms. Stewart and her team talked up products ranging from stickers of daisies ($4.99 a sheet) to an ergonomically designed paper punch ($9.99). When Ms. Stewart held up one of the blank scrapbooks from the line, the crowd responded with a chorus of oohs and aahs.
The dealers, who had started lining up for Ms. Stewart's demonstration two hours in advance, reacted positively to most of the products. But some references to Ms. Stewart's deluxe lifestyle didn't play as well. When Ms. Stewart described how she converted an entire floor of her "winter house," located on her Bedford, N.Y., compound, into a craft-making studio, several dealers rolled their eyes.
"This is just a little preview, but we are devoted crafters, as I hope you can tell, and this is just the beginning," Ms. Stewart said.
Write to Brooks Barnes at brooks.barnes@wsj.com

A tale of loss and redemption






Ok, so I have a teamaker, that my dear dear friend Dori demanded that I get. I think her exact words were "time to get into the 21st century Ger!!" It's not a fancy shmancy thing, but I love it. I use it daily, or even twice daily. It's a part of my daily happy dance. Really, only tea lovers know what a fabulous thing this might be.

After months of use, it's glugged up. It's steeping badly...making 16 oz of tea with 28 oz of water. The rest just disappears...sad but true. It's dripping...not brewing. Literally. drip.drip. drip. That poor baby is working so hard, but so inefficiently. All for me...my happiness...my little cup of sunshine. Yep. There's mutual loyalty here.

So, off to MOPS I go, inquiring of the all knowing coffee women how to clean a brewer; it's gotta be the same as a coffemaker, right? Essentially? The answer comes from on high, from the ladies hovered near the coffee table. Clean it with vinegar and then run water through it a few more times to clean out the vinegar smell.

So, I do it. I use my last vinegar to clean it. No use. Run water through...maybe the vinegar needs to be rinsed out...well, 6 pots of steaming water later, all of my cupboards are steam cleaned on that side of the kitchen, but still no efficiency regained. Sigh. Waiting for the Calvary to come home, sporting a blue mechanic uniform.

I'm totally sick to my stomach from what I'm sure is my last trip to Shanghai Bistro. My body just isn't used to high fat food anymore. It is revolting against my beloved Portillo's, Shanghai and even Burrito king. Sigh...now you are probably thinking I'm off point, but OH NO SISTA!! I am not.. It's all on point...here's why!!

As Paul was leaving for P. Rick's class (doggone it!! Another goodie I missed!!), he says "is there anything I can do?" and my response is: either fix my tea maker or get me a new one by morning.

Well, that's all it takes for him...He comes home, tears into it: takes it apart in ways I never imagined. He blows out the tubes. He checks the connection inside. He cleans out each filter. After each step, he rebrews water. Now my entire kitchen has been steam cleaned. But still, not more than a drip at a time is coughed forth from the beloved machine. I'm thinking...this is it. It's death is imminent.

Then Paul finds a pull out 2nd filter. It's DISGUSTINGLY CLOGGED UP....uh, Houston I think I found the problem...and so he scrapes it out (I TOLD you it was disgusting) and blows it out and rinses it.

Lo and behold, there my little teamaker that could can once again!! Sometimes it's the littlest things that clog up the machine. This piece was about an inch square. But it stopped the whole darn thing. So keep that in mind...do not let little things clog up your happymaking machines. Don't let a little sludge slow you to a drip when you could be steaming and producing yummy things!! Keep your mind and your filter clean...and come over for a cuppa tea!!

Good new Meliss...I was thinking I"d have to take back my teavana thing...but UP saved the day again...as he put it: It's the thrill of the fix. He for doing it and me for getting me TEA!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lessons I've learned

The other day, I realized I lost a year somewhere...I"m not turning 43; I'm turning 44. I have thought about how the last ten years have changed me. There's a thing or two I have learned and I feel have most shaped my life during that time . . .
The past does not equal the future.
New beginnings arrive every day.
Over the past few years, many people have given me excuses why they can't achieve their dreams. When they do this, they usually say something like "you have so much going for you", "you are so smart", or some other comment as to why I am moving forward and they are not. I'd like to tell you a bit about the person I was ten years ago and perhaps you will change your mind.
In 1997, I was the mom of a 9 year old and a 6 year old, newly homeschooling and overwhelmed. I was lonely. I was short on energy and long on criticism. I spent way too much money and then way too much effort trying to hide my spending. I was lonely. I did not know what made me happy or what challenged me or where I needed to grow as a person. I was lonely. I was insecure. I was in over my head in a world I didn't know and I didn't feel like I belonged. I felt judged and found inferior. I was questioned and usually not nicely about our decision to homeschool. I was a disorganized mess. I was floundering with what I wanted to do with my life. I also did not view myself as being special or especially smart. Mostly I was living with no real purpose. Because I didn't have much that was fulfilling in my life, I shopped. That's it. I shopped. I think that somehow having new, pretty things made me feel more valuable because the more depressed I got, the more I shopped.
We changed churches; my old friends drifted away as we embarked on homeschooling. They were all friends from the kids' school, for the most part. Those that weren't were church friends. So here I was in a church I knew no one. No one had a glimmer of an idea that I loved working with 8th graders. The announcement at church that day was basically begging to teach the confirmation class. I'd done that before...and I offered to do it at this church. I honestly believed they'd turn me down; we were brand new and I never put two and two together that if they were begging, they'd take ANYONE!! LOL. I came alive that year...
I thrived. I LOVED every minute of it. I felt challenged and to my absolute shock other parents seemed to think I was smart. I had never thought of myself as smart before. I never thought I was creative either, but the kids couldn't do the typical book approach, so I had to come up with something else. Thus began the walk out of the box I lived in. I quit boxing myself in. I quit boxing God in. I quit boxing other people in with labels and suppositions. Trust me when I say some of the kids I love the most and learned the most from and my heart is tender to this DAY, you would cross the street to avoid. They were seriously tough inner city kids...thugs to some. Sweethearts to me. Adored them. Still do. They changed my life. Suddenly it wasn't about being accepted or respected or fitting in. It was about THEM. It was about what God was showing me through them. It was about being real because anyone who knows teens knows they see right through that fakey adult thing.
And homeschooling...well...back then it was soooo not socially acceptable. I had to walk my own path...and find it. I knew two families who homeschooled and I sure wasn't THEM, so off I went.
The past does not equal the future. The person I am today does not in any way resemble the person I was in 1997. I learned to follow my own path; not someone else's path for me. I learned I'd rather be alone than with someone who tore apart other's for sport. I learned that sarcasm isn't funny...it's like a knife in the heart of another. I learned my grandma was right: you DO attract more bees with honey than vinegar. I learned to be true to what I knew God was speaking into my life. Life is a journey. If I had not had that church or homeschooled, or any other of the small stepping-stones - my life would be different. What is important to realize is that they are small steps. Sometimes people take big leaps in life, but it is often the small, seemingly inconsequential moments that change your life forever.
Occasionally I will run into someone from high school and they cannot believe I'm a stay at home mom and love it. Even when I'm a stay at home mom without kids, I think I'll still love it!! That leads me to the second lesson . . .
If you allow yourself to be limited by what others think of you, you will never fulfill your true potential because no one but you really knows what you are capable of.
In 1997, many of my friends told me that I was CRAZY to think that I could homeschool or stay home. Guess how many of those people are still in my life? Deep in my heart I KNEW that I could be more than I was at that time. I knew I was smarter than people thought I was. I knew that I was put on this earth to do more than to shop. I just didn't know how to do it. I found myself because I was willing to test myself.
What sets a successful person apart from others is that they keep trying when others would give up. They look for another path, another chance, and a different perspective. They learn from their mistakes and move on.
Homeschooling was the most difficult thing I had ever done. My social life came to a screeching halt. I did school with the kids for 3 - 4 hours a day and then put another 3 -4 hours of reading and preparing every night. It was a major life shift for me that I was absolutely determined to do...after I begged Paul to let me put them in school and he said no, I didn't have much choice anyway!!
Unfortunately, my friends did not want me to do this. I would come home to enticing messages on the answering machine. My homeschooling was inconvenient to them.
If you want to achieve your goals, you are going to have to make some tough decisions at times. You are going to have to go without sleep when necessary, miss lunches and parties, give up the fun shopping excursions or bible studies . . . whatever it is that is important to you - at some point those things will be tested.
You will also hit roadblocks. People won't understand you. You will be tired, worn out sometimes, you will question yourself. Others will question both your direction and your passion. Some will tell you that you are wrong. Some will distance themselves from you or talk about you. As you get stronger in your vision, they will feel more attacked and thus attack more. Subtly. Overtly. Painfully.
Why did I put up with it? Simple. I had a "burning desire" and passion to accomplish my goal. I wanted to homeschool my kids. I wanted to do youth ministry. I KNEW it was a calling on my life greater than my selfish or lazy concerns; greater than my disorganization; greater than my fear. That was all that mattered to me during that time in my life. I was so clear on where I was going that what would normally have been an intolerable situation was easier for me to handle because every time it got really bad, I would remind myself that I needed to focus on my goal - and get my eyes off the small stuff.
Fear and doubt is a slippery slope. Once you give into it, it becomes harder and harder to climb back up to the top.
Have you ever tried NOT to think about the theme song from "The Brady Bunch"? Nope, don't think about it. DO NOT think about that song. Well, of course in order to NOT think about something, you have to continue to keep what you are supposed to not think about in your head.
Doubts are like that. If someone says to you that you are not very good at color, for example - every time you have to work with color that comment will come charging back into your head. It is an unfortunate aspect of the way our brains work. Like Pavlov's dogs and ringing bells, doubts are conditioned responses.
In the same way, fear can become a habit. I have said this before - and please know that it is something that I struggle with myself - WORRYING ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. I often tell people that I think guilt is the biggest indulgence a person can have. Guilt is punishing yourself with thoughts so that you don't actually have to go out and DO something to make the situation better. Well, worry is the same. If you are afraid and you are worrying, do something. The antidote to fear is to learn as much about the situation and your options as possible.
Never defend your actions against unjust accusations. Your actions speak for themselves. The truth comes out. And you are modelling for others how to act/what to be when they are faced with that situation. And do NOT ever doubt that others are watching, absorbing, learning...even when you are not aware. Trust me on this...
Among the most difficult lessons I learned was that some people always want to believe the worst of others. The first time I was confronted with accusations over events that had been twisted and turned until I looked like the "bad guy", I was upset and hurt. I defended myself, I explained, I argued. Then I was really, truly SHOCKED when some of the people I talked to still didn't believe me. I was telling the truth, explaining the situation, and they still believed the worst of me!
After one particularly difficult situation, someone gave me great advice. "Never defend yourself. Your friends don't need to hear it and your enemies won't believe you anyway." That may seem quite cynical, but the truth is that some people will want to believe the worst of others. That is their problem unless you make it yours.
You must live your life each day with integrity and honesty. You will make occasional mistakes, and you must face them with dignity and humility. However, if you are accused of something, you should not defend yourself. Actions are what they are. Talking will not change them. If someone wants to believe the worst of you, they will regardless of your defense. People who are seeking the truth will not accuse, they will ask. They will look at your track record and judge you by what you have done, not the word of others. Go back and re-read this paragraph. Read it again. And again.
Never listen to or spread gossip.
I really never had an appreciation for how damaging gossip was until it was pointed in my direction. Until then, it always seemed like harmless banter. It may seem incredibly naïve but I did not consider that what I was hearing might not be true - and that others might believe the gossip and act on it.
At one point, our marriage was almost ruined because of gossip spread by someone. Although nothing about the story spread about us was true - and the majority of people did not believe the gossip, it was a devastating way to have to learn a very valuable lesson.
Another aspect of this is something that many people don't realize - if the person telling you the gossip is willing to spread unfounded information, what makes you think you won't be their next victim? If they lie for you or talk to you about others, they will most certainly lie about you/to you and/or talk about you to others. Don't think you are the exception to this universal rule. You are not. Stay clear of people that gossip and your life will be a lot happier!
At the end of the day, what you are is your word and your actions.
I know that I harp on the importance of integrity ad nauseum, but if you think about it anyone can boast and claim to do anything. What you are - what people think of you, and what you think of yourself - is based upon whether you keep your word, and what you do with your life. If you think of others first, your life will reflect that. If something is true about a person, they don't need to talk about it because they are living it. They keep their promises and they make a difference. Let your life tell the tale, not your words....live a life worth emulating.
Jealousy is among the most dangerous and powerful of human emotions. It can tell you what is missing in your life; it can drive others to try to destroy you. In the Artist's Way, Julia Cameron explains the importance of Jealousy. Jealousy can be used as an indicator of what is missing in your life. If you hear that someone got a contract for a book, for example, and you feel jealous - that may tell you that what you really need is to be writing. Listen to your jealousy and be grateful for it because it is a way that your subconscious communicates dissatisfaction to you.When Jealousy is destructive is when it is misdirected. Instead of understanding that jealousy is an indicator of what is missing in our own lives and what we should be working on, some people see another person's success as taking away from their own. These people view the world as one pie - and if you have a slice it is a slice that they cannot have. To them, it is a dog eat dog world and you must either eat or be eaten.
These people take their jealousy and let it fester. Rather than taking positive action to move forward in their own life, they make plans to undermine the work of those they are jealous of. This is doubly dangerous - not only is it harmful to the person that they are attacking, but it is harmful to the attacker as they feel like they are "doing" something. This feeling of action makes it easy to fool themselves that they are actually taking positive steps towards their goal.
The blessing is that the old adage of "sticks and stones" is true if we can keep our eyes on our goals. If someone attacks you, don't defend because if you do you have to take your eyes off your goal and concentrate on your defense. The danger in this is that you do what the attacker wants; you stop your work.
What you will look back on is not the work you did, but the time you spent with others. When I look back on my life; I don't remember the lectures - I remember the recess. I don't remember the homework; I remember the vacations. While work is important, it is important to incorporate people into what you do. To make a difference in other people's lives is the greatest honor you can give with your gifts. This I learned at the feet of all those teens...and with my kids in our homeschool years. Doing work is not enough. To succeed, you must use your talent in a way that makes the world a better place. And sometimes that means being willing to go off course, to take a bunny trail, to allow the "distraction".
Love is the greatest adventure, the greatest challenge, and the biggest risk you'll ever take.
I fell in love with a boy; he grew into a man I didn't know while we embarked on the greatest ride of our lives. There is great risk in loving someone else. You *will* get hurt. You will be frustrated, challenged, frightened, and made angry. You will also get the joy of loving someone else. You learn how to forgive, to begin again. You learn what it is to love unconditionally; to be the beauty that softens their beast (and the reverse too). You learn grace and kindness softens the hardest heart. But only if you are willing to live out those values...those challenges.
When you love, YOU are the one affected.
This is really important - and something so many people don't understand. When you love, YOU are the one affected. You could fall in love with someone and they would never know it. Yet your life is forever changed. When you see that person, you feel better. The only thing that your love for someone else does is to change the way you treat another person, and your willingness to let them close to you.
When someone says they don't feel love - they aren't giving love. Someone loving you only affects the way they treat you, and how much time they spend with you. No one can make you feel anything.
If you don't feel loved by a person that loves you, perhaps you have rules that don't let you feel loved. For example, one of my friends recently told me that if her husband really loved her, he would buy her diamonds because they could afford it. I asked her if she had ever told her husband that she wanted diamonds. She said, if he really loved me, he would notice. Because we are the kind of friends that are very frank with one another, I commented that perhaps it was unfair to expect him to be psychic as well as loving. It isn't that her husband didn't love her, it was that she had set up a mark that had to be reached in order for her to feel loved - and that mark wasn't fair or a part of reality.
Love, and let yourself be loved. Jesus, long before he changed all of time and eternity by hanging on a cross for us and conquering death for our sins, long before that, he transformed his world by loving and allowing himself to be loved. He didn't check for pedigrees before he reached out to someone. He didn't walk away forever when hurt by someone. He simply loved. He was kind. He was honest, sometimes brutally so. He allowed others to love him in THEIR way...fiery and with tempers...with expensive oil...with questions. He left us a legacy, not only with his death and resurrection...with the way He lived.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

unfinished sentences

I am afraid of...someone I love dying a horrible death
I wish I would have...never told Cassie to go to the Unland's for the weekend
I wish I would not have...blown my gasket as much as I have
I indulge myself by...eating dark chocolate, ghiradelli mint squares to be exact
My biggest vice is...shopping
My best characteristic is...not sure
I have a secret crush on...not so secret: Denzel Washington, safe crush!! LOL
I have no qualms about...telling the truth
My nickname is...Ger
If my house were on fire, I would save...my scrapbooks and pix and blankie
I've lied about...how much money I've spent but it's been a looooong time
I'd lie again about...nothing
If I were sitting on Santa's lap, and stilled believed that he existed, I'd ask for...my family to be restored to health and unity
I wish I were more...outgoing when I first meet people.
I wish I was less...expectant of people having my standards on things.I think I'm getting better but still...
I hate having to...do laundry, scrub toilets
I love getting to...hang out with my friends and family
One way I could indulge myself over the holidays would be to...go on a cruise!!
If my family would never find out, I would...nah...I"m a pretty open book. Sometimes too much
I think sex is...fabulous when applied correctly!! LOL. Amazing, tender, passionate, unifying
I think men are...wired differently to the point of mystery
I think women are...strong and emotional and fun to be with
The color yellow represents to me / reminds me of: spring
The scent I most associate with the holidays is: my favorite candle Hollyberry by Yankee candle
I am am looking forward to 44 because...I think I"m getting better each year and more comfortable in my own skin...and honestly I have to keep figuring out how old I am...I forget
I think the most beautiful color is lilac purple
I think the most beautiful sight in nature is flowers poking through the earth or a newborn baby (OK, cindi???) ;)
I wish I had spent more time really plugged in to my kids
Next year I plan to be debt free. That's all. Get that monkey off my back
One way I'm going to avoid the chaos of the holidays is to plan ahead
The one gift I plan to give myself this year is paying off our bills. Have one left after this month!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

someone sat in



Judy's spot today at church. Her choir seat. Hers. The one I looked at for I don't know how many weeks and her face was there, sometimes smiling, sometimes singing, but there. It ripped that scab away that I allowed to form around my heart missing her. There is no lonelier place for me than at church, sometimes. I love the music, and how I plug into God through it. I love the messages (most of the time) and remind myself that scripture is scripture, regardless of what's going on in our church. It's where I see people who I genuinely enjoy and respect and love. It's where I take classes I'd never be exposed to otherwise. And it's lonely. Paul is singing, Joseph is elsewhere, Cassie is gone. I don't hear her sing anymore. We don't talk about the message or who we saw or how big some little one is getting.


But more than that, sometimes it's just a huge reminder that Dori and Judy are gone. Dori and I sat together for as long as I could remember; she with her bracelets jangling and sliding down her arm as she raised her hand in praise...she moved. We still keep in touch. But going to church with someone adds a depth and intimacy to a relationship. Sitting next to someone and seeing them nod to a point or tear up at a song, well, it just is bigger than your av-er-age friendship. It's a privilege to share a friend's spiritual walk...at least to me it is.


Judy, man...seeing her sing and stand there and witness the growth in her life. Turning around to hug her or sit with her and Scott, with the kids slumping down in their seats (trying to be invisible??)...well, it was a blessing. And seeing someone in her seat, which is no longer hers, made me cry. Not the pretty cute cry either. Oh no...the wambulance cry. The self pity, I miss my friend cry. The hot tears that wouldn't stop, like a broken faucet, just coming and coming no matter how hard I tried to turn my emotional faucet to the off position. Nope. Just missed her profoundly, deeply, with a broken heart. I miss SEEING my friends...


I know I have all these great friends, and I do. I KNOW I am blessed. But in my zippered, side by side heart, there is gratitude for the friends I have and there is sadness for those I don't see.


Sigh.


There was this song played Sunday:
My One Desire


and the chorus goes like this:


My one desire is to be with You


Sitting at Your feet crying...You are holy


Our one desire is to worship You


Gathered 'round Your throne...You are holy.





I couldn't help (as in, sledgehammer to my head) but think:


but that's not true. Our one desire is not to worship YOU. It's to be right. It's to displace one or the other leader in our church. It's NOT to be in worship. It's to be on the "winning" side. It's to be vindicated and answered to and resolved. And I cried more. I cried for our church being crushed under the weight of pride and self-righteousness.


I think if it was about our one desire in the right place, we wouldn't have all the broken people. I wouldn't have sat with a friend Sunday as we cried for what is going on in our church and the idea they she may leave...we just GETTING to be better friends; real-er friends. And for the price of pride and political wrangling, she may leave. It breaks my heart even more. Like what can we say to each other? I"m so sorry you're going through this? True, but that doesn't seem like enough. I'll be praying...as if we aren't already. And so, in the end, all I can do is be a friend and walk along side. To laugh with her and cry with her...and mostly walk with her. Sigh. Seems like so little when what I want to do is reach in her heart and fix it, but then I"d be God and I am so NOT. And the irony is, to me, that she is so checking her heart's motives and condition. and then seems burdened by what she sees. I wonder if everyone is doing this...doesn't seem like they can be and having the results we are having. Shouldn't we ALL be broken before God? Sorry for our part in this??; My heart hurts for our church...if we just DID have our one desire to be with God, sitting at His feet... well, then I think we could make our way through. But that requires humility and a willingness to look at the ugly and sit in the uncomfortableness of conviction and sorrow and to be able to say "I'm wrong and I"m sorry" Don't see that happening. It seems so much easier for people to choose sides and build walls to hide behind. I think God's heart is saddened by all of this. My heart is saddened by this...but I will NOT give up hope. If God can break through to Paul, he can break through to anyone...and I see the work He is doing in Paul and in us...


Blech. I feel ugly now...I don't like wading through these thoughts and feelings; and yet, I can't deny them either. So, if you are reading this, would you say a prayer for our church? We need heart surgery. We need healing. We need an eternal view on this. We need patience. We need to forgive and seek grace. I guess, in the end, we all need that regardless of what church we are going to...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

So I"m driving down the road

with my sunroof open and my music at far louder than I'd ever have it with someone else in the car...it's that kind of day here. The sun is shining and the trees are budding; the breeze is perfect. And I"min a ton of traffic. Rte 59 is no fun...but I"m listening to Casting Crowns and singing along, letting people in and all that nice stuff. I've listened to this CD 1,000 times. It's what carried me through those first days after Paul was outed by God.
I love it...every single song but one (which I wont' bother talking about because it isn't important!!)
This song comes on...
You are holy in this place
You are worthy of my praise and we worship You
Jesus we worship You
You're the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
You're the Master of the Universe
You're the Ruler of all Nations
And we sing to You, sing to You
When You call my name, I'll run to You
I'll do anything You ask me to
Falling on my knees I worship You, my Lord
We give You GLORY

And the part "I'll do anything you ask me to" comes on...heard it 1,000 times..but this time, I hear this thought:
anything but touch Paul...hug him...snuggle up next to him...
WHAT???
Where did THAT come from? So I guess all those thoughts that I've had of snuggling up next to him at night like I used to, well, I guess they weren't just ideas. I'm thinking that is the next right thing to do in this healing process of our marriage. Sigh. It shouldn't be this hard. I wish I didn't fight it so much. But I do, so I guess it's time to start acting on these ideas...

Friday, April 20, 2007

coming alive

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. the world needs people who have come alive."~~Harold Whitman

Great quote, huh? So what makes you come alive?
For me...
birds chirping in the morning and sunshine streaming in the window
great worship music, especially if I'm in the car with the sunroof open
laughter, giggling, smirks, visible marks and noises of joy in life
a great book
getting together with friends
new magazines in the mail
the smell of laundry DONE, not waiting to be done (ewwwwww!!)
the phone ringing and seeing on caller ID a name I miss
a great hug
touchdown of a flight to someone I love
things that just aren't right (I come alive not always in happy ways, ya know)
injustice, especially aimed at the marginalized (think Katrina, sexism, racism)
scrapbooking
counting my blessings
great conversations
an invitation to Portillo's
Kimberlee's raucous response to stuff
lifting weights...really!!
Pastor Rick's passion
counting down the days till I see the girls
Cassie being able to visit
planning vacation
a really great sermon
the thought of working in youth ministry again...I'd love that!!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I took some advice

last night...I'm pretty sure I've said this about 100 times int he last 2-3 weeks since P Rick said it in class..."The question isn't Is this a sin and can I do it/get away with it. The question is: Is this edifying for me? Is it helping me grow as a person and in my faith?" I love that spin on decision making...it's not that watching 3 hours of TV or spending 3 hours on the computer is inherently bad...it's just that there are better things to do.
So I decided not to watch any more of the VA Tech coverage. Not that my heart doesn't go out to the victims, family and friends. Soooooo does. Just that I don't need that heaviness on my heart over and over again. It's heavy enough without adding to it. There isn't any more news or breaking stories or just uncovered facts that will explain these deaths. And I don't want to add to the voyeuristic news cycle. Can't call them all and say "stop!! Let these people grieve in private." But I can stop watching.

Heard this song last night:
You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin'
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway
You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might never come your way
Dream it anyway
God is great
But sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray
It doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway
This world's gone crazy
It's hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
In a moment they can choose to walk away
Love 'em anyway
God is great
But sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray
It doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway
You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yea - sing it anyway
I sing
I dream
I love
Anyway

'nuff said....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We were blessed last night

with the opportunity to be with friends. Nothing big...popcorn and Idol, making fun of Sanjaya (does he THINK he's willie nelson with that hair do??) and playing cards. I love those guys...glad they are in our life.
I haven't laughed that long in a while...but then even as I write that,I realize I laugh alot. I hope they were as blessed as we were, a time set apart to just be. To not theorize or philosophize or solve the world's, nation's or church's problems. Great few hours...and then a phone rang and broke the spell, beckoning us back to the real world...
and I went to bed last night and had bad dreams...nightmares that others are really living. Oh my heart just aches for the parents who will have to bury their beloved children, or are still waiting to hear. Can YOU imagine? Still waiting...the agony of that.
I was telling Paul on Sunday how I still miss Cassie so much, that it's palpable. Not the curled up in a ball on the couch sobbing way, but I miss her face at the table daily. I miss her smile, her smirk,the tone her voice has. I miss the music she brought to our house. Miss how we'd be talking about this Va Tech thing and giving her one more hug. But I'll see her later this week, or over the weekend. I didn't hug her goodbye and never see her alive again...that was one of my dreams...being on the other side of glass and watching her die. Running all over looking for Meliss in a devastated wasteland and not able to find her. Theresa being stabbed with the scythe and bleeding and I can't stop it. Like that. Haunting, horrible, dreams that I can still see when I close my eyes.
My friend says to sit with my dreams...they are trying to tell me something about what's going on in my subconscious. Well, I don't think I need to sit long...there is a part of me that is fearful, terrified and anxious that I will lose someone I love to violence. But I will not surrender to that fear. I will not let it dominate my day or my plans or my happiness for people's adventures. I will sit with it, and then tell it who is boss...and it's not my scared self. It's my trusting self...trusting that God has a plan we cant' see...trusting that the great Physician will heal these wounds of the VA area...because he loves each and every one of them...and knows them...and created them...will give them grace and strength and mercy...
Joseph came in last night and told me that some kid was comparing a xbox game result with the Va Tech massacre. And then went on to tell me how that kid got "schooled" by the others playing about how not cool it was to joke about that and how that kid should have more respect. So to those who think that every child who ever played xbox shooting games is lining up to be the next psycho, I offer this. Some kids just play games like we played what we played (in my case, torture the little brother till he cries and then deny I did it), just a technological version of their game. It's not a game alone that makes a broken soul pick up a gun and start shooting. And as far as I know, the kid who did Va Tech wasn't even into games. Broken people do crazy things. Not every kid who plays video games is broken. Some of them are funny ,sensitive, kind and in Joseph's case, a strong Christian kid. So let's not rush to "it's the violence in movies or games" or "it's the gun laws". NONE of those reasons are what made that kid pick up guns. His soul and psyche and mind did. What if we spent the time we spent analyzing the situations helping those kids who need a good adult influence? What if we skipped "what is the problem" and went straight to "how can I be part of the solution in MY sphere of influence??" That's my plan. Not sure how yet, but for today, I can listen to my son and daughter and nieces. Today I can point out to them what I love and admire in them. Today I can talk to them about MY faith and how it affects my life. Today I can give them a hug and a heart that cares...so that's what I"m off to do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

48 hours...

seems like such a short amount of time, doesn't it? I mean, there's tv shows that wrap up 30 years worth of a story in that amount of time.

I had had a kinda busy day, what with my life being oh so important in the getting things done arena; my house was clean and I felt like I had a bonus day. I was waiting for a few people to call me back, not the least of which was Melissa, college student and beloved -niece. Right? Just another day...but the thing is...
all of a sudden it wasn't. All because some broken and bruised soul couldn't find words to convey what he needed, or his pain (don't you think he's GOT to have been in some deep pain??). And so he took two guns and fired on his peers. His fellow almost-to the-beginning of their adult life peers...and something changed.
I expect horror when attached to war; that's why I keep my nephew (you know the one who was so bored one night he read my blog!!) in my prayers. We EXPECT awful things to happen when boys-turned-men go to war. Pray that it doesn't, count the days till they come home. We have come to accept seeing inert, limp bodies being carried in camouflage. But not in college sweatshirts.
I can't imagine, nor do I want to, what the parents and friends are feeling...what the siblings of those victims are thinking, wondering, weeping, maybe raging about tonight. I can't put myself in that mindframe...I can barely comprehend,not sure that I have, that this has happened.
I have known fear in my life: when my dad was kidnapped, my brother at war; when my babies almost died at birth; the tornado that we were all caught in. But I have not known terror. I thought I had. I have not. I have not known the sorrow of seeing my friends and classmates dying in front of me, or having to decide to stay with a wounded friend or save myself.
I have lived a tough life, but still am so grateful for each and every day. But these last 48 hours, it's a little close to home. Melissa walks across campus every day; Meesh will next year. Cassie is on her own...and they are such adults, right? But to me, they are still the babies with chubby fingers and curly hair (or no hair at all). They are still those sweet little voices asking a thousand questions and wanting another freezepop...they just are so on THIS side of their lives. I can't imagine, nor do I want to, if this had been them... and so, I just want to remember...the power of life, of love and dreams, of who we were created to be (reflections of our creator) and what we were created to do (love those around us in a dim reflection of how much God loves us). So how am I doing? I don't know...but I know I am grateful, and honestly, very very sad...and feeling a little selfish for being so glad that my girlies were and are safe...and that Joseph will be home another year. Life is short...maybe. Or long...but still...hug the ones you love today...and tomorrow...and the next day. Take the opportunity to get to know someone who intrigues you or who you admire. Give thanks for the moment...and remember the families who lost their light, their beloved ones, but hopefully, not their hope. Our hope has GOT to go beyond what we experience here on earth...beyond what we see and hear. I pray for these families...that they have someone to speak healing words to their broken hearts..to cry with them even when the cameras stop rolling...someone to walk with them through their grief and questions...some of which will probably never be answered)
I love this quote...it reminds me of who I am...and who you are...and the call on my life...and your life...
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. ”
"There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
I pray that we are liberated from our fears, that we trust God through this tragedy, and the next, and the next. Whether it's a personal one or a national one or an international one...perfect love casts out fear...and there's only one source of perfect love. Tonight, I"m going to rest in that perfect love...and that's my prayer for you too.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My first tulip!!



Big news...happy things happenin here!!


1) My first tulip is up and in a vase on my desk. YEAH!!!


2) Small group...what a great bunch of people...and laughs and comfortable conversation...and honesty...and encouragement.


3) Paul's dad is talking normally...till he gets tired but HEY!! God is good


4) My Meliss, my little honey who is 6 inches taller than me, my summer buddy, well....She GOT HER FIRST BIG GIRL JOB!!! So excited for her...benefits, flexibility, they love her, probably tuition reimbursement. WOOHOO!! And, wahh. Our last summer's fling, which was fabuloso, is our last summer fling. Sigh. Tear. But soooo excited for her!! Great job with a fab salary...


5) Had great breakfast chat with Dana. Talking to her is like snuggling in an old (not that she is!!) comfortable (she definitely is) quilt. We just ramble all over the place. I told Paul I need to make talking points when I talk to her because I always walk away thinking "drat, forgot to talk to her about that!!) She's so encouraging too...


6) I had this great dream last night...Paul and I were laughing and happy. Not for the moment, but really, truly, happy. I woke up with a smile on my face. We've worked so hard on our relationship and sometimes it's so difficult to not run away, and it sure was nice to have a vision of where we could end up.


7) I found Dori's beloved socks...I've been looking for 18 months. GOT "EM!! At Walmart of all places...I always underestimate that place because I hate going there so much.


8) My house is totally clean...that means my Monday bless your house list is short and sweet!! yippEE!!


9) Good hair day


10) Minimal muffies

11) The steam burns from my RICE (not ice) maker aren't killing me...in a typical dorky move, I burned 3 fingers really, really bad (looking for sympathy here!!). Red and deformed and puffy and painful!! But they feel better today

12) and last, but certainly not least, I got rid of my acrylic nail!! (did I say that yesterday???)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

100 things that make me happy

1. Smell of fresh cut grass
2. Music
3. Wearing jeans, especially with lycra
4. Telling jokes with my kids
5 Sitting on the Deck in the summer
6. When a friend/family calls out of the blue
7. Traveling
8. Drinking tea, especially the first cup in the morning
9. Great hair days
10. Fresh flowers
11. Being pampered
12. Watching people
13. Sitting next to a body of water and listening to it move
14. Smell of fresh popped popcorn
15. Watching a movie again that I loved
16. Ghiradelli chocolate and ice cream
17. Random acts of kindness
18. Fluffy clouds
19. Dreams that are so good I don’t want to wake up
20. Blowing bubbles
21.Compliments
22. Cooking with a crock pot
23. Feeling like I belong
24. Spending time with family.
25Haircuts that I can recreate at home
26. Getting off the plane
27. When I feel like I can impact the world
28. Chocolate martinis
29. Making lists
30. Crossing things off my list
31.Paydays that exceed the budget
32.Finding an awesome sale
33 Connecting instantly with new people
34. Dried flowers from special occasions
35. The smell of wood fires
36. Driving when there isn’t anybody else on the road
37. The library,
38. Helping others/making other people happy
39. The end of a migraine
40. Warm towels on a winter day
41. Windy days in summer
42. When friends trust me enought to share their secrets with me
43. Sitting in piano bars and chatting over cheesecake
44. Air conditioning
44. Hot showers
45. Sitting in empty movie theaters and talking outloud before the movie starts!!
46. Ladybugs and butterflies
47. Going to the zoo and getting dippin dots
48. Iced tea
49. Clear nights when you can see tons of stars (usually out at the farm)
50. Bright yellow full moons
51. Floppy hats.
52. My house
53. The way babies smile
54. The sound of a rain on a window
55. Candles that smell nice(Ikeas tea lights are great!!)
56. Walking on the beach
57. Having a cosmo with Judy
58. The smell of laundry dried on the line
59. Roller coasters
60. My nieces and my nephew
61. Texting with them or google chatting
62. Listening to music really really loud in my car with the sunroof open
63. Long chats
64. Sunsets
65. Eating Shanghai Bistro and Portillos
66. Autumn
67. Purring cats
68. Hot chocolate on a cold day
69. Shopping downtown
70. The smell of vanilla
71. Getting a letter or card in the mail
72. Fresh Baked cookies
73. Strolling at the oceanfront
74. Collecting my angels
75. Paul's pancakes
76. Hearing a song I love on the radio
77. Laughing so hard that my stomach hurts
78. Old photographs of relatives in their youth...and grandma's magnetic albums
79. Sunshine on my face
80. Daydreaming and planning things out
81. Smiles from strangers
82. Catching up with Dori and having a long talk
83. Carnations
84. South Carolina
85. T shirt skirts
86. sandals
87. pedicures
88. The smell of the downtown library
89. British accents
90. Coming home from vacation
91. Counting my blessings
92. Long productive talks with Paul
93. Chick flicks
94. Getting happy emails
95. A magazine with my name on it
96. The Pew-P-S man
97. Playing cards and games with my nieces
98. Staying close with them
99. Cassie's smile and giggle
100. Knowing how much God loves me

Saturday, April 14, 2007

woohoo!!


Late breaking news....

we are the US entry for the Olympics...and the WIesbrooks have a guest room available for early bidding!! Well, by then we should have 2 guest rooms...but I"m not giving up my scrapbook room...no way...no how. And I'll be 52. GoodNESS!!

Intimacy as a



mosaic. That was my big insight this week. We define intimacy in a variety of ways, right? My husband defines it as telling me what is going on with him.

The definition on answers.com is:
The condition of being intimate. An instance of being intimate.


How stupid is that???


Another definition:

intimacy n
Definition: closeness between people


Here's my definition and since it's my blog you are reading, I assume you care!! BWAHAHAHA!!


Intimacy is allowing others to see you, but also seeking to see into them. It is being honest when you don't have to. It's being real, knowing that showing who you really are is more important than impressing the person across from you.


It's sitting close enough to touch, or even touch, without feeling awkward. Hugging just for the heck of it...


It's sitting in silence and knowing it's ok...that it doesn't have to be a constant dialogue.


It's shopping with a friend on her cell phone because she wants your opinion..and remembering why that shopping trip is hard to do. And reminding her that it's ok to have it be hard.


It's reaching across a table and wiping away a tear. Or waiting for the emotion to get under control so the conversation can continue...or just crying together.


It's knowing where someone's wounds are and not lobbing emotional missiles at it just because you COULD.


It's knowing what game someone loves (and hates) and playing it, what their favorite food is and making it. It's being a student of those you love...and passing those pop quizzes.


It's sharing our faith stories, struggles and convictions. It's shared prayer.


It's being comfortable enough with friends to put your feet (not shoes)on their table and squirt whipped cream straight into your mouth.


It's brushing gnarled hair gently, using a half bottle of conditioner so it doesn't hurt so much.


It's staying up late talking...laughing...martini-ing...or not. It's honoring someone else's positions even if you don't agree.


It's knowing you can flop down anywhere, any time.


It's texting pix of no double chin...or a new size of clothes...just because you know they'd celebrate with you. It's texting good morning or knowing you can call before 10 (really!!)


Intimacy, to me, is the greatest honor given and the greatest reflection of growth in a relationship.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th

brings a homeschool formal here. Joseph is wearing a bright pink shirt and black paisley tie. His hair is cut short to show off his hot pink earring. It's like big boy time...formal, then spend the night with the guys, then off tomorrow to points yet to be determined. What happened to my little ones and why did they have to grow up so darn fast?
I had a dream last night that Cassie was little again...sometimes I wonder if she gets how much I love her...or if she still thinks she needs to "earn" it. Is that a message I sent alot when she was growing up? I tell myself it's not...but I guess I'd have to ask the kids that question...not answer it for myself.
Supposed to be scrapping right now, but my scrapping mojo seems to be on Spring break. It's hard for me to scrap when I'm uber tired and unfocused...and that, thanks to my asthma, is how I feel pretty much daily!
I need a prayer and accountability partner..all applications will be considered!! The candidate need be: honest, but kind. Willing to speak difficult truths with grace. A mature Christian who loves to laugh too...and someone who is married with kids will probably get a greater understanding of what I struggle with, since that always seems to be the center of my "issues".
Praying for my church especially this weekend...I read this scripture today about living, as much as we can, in peace with others and not having a contentious spirit. Sigh. How nice that would be to see that lived out.. but I"m going on I can only do my part...so that is what I will do!!

A quick count-down list for today!
10 things I think about these days: (in no particular order0
Dori--wondering how she is
Summer vacation
Our trip out to SC
Cassie's wedding
American Idol (darn them for booting Gina!!)
Our church's challenges (usually followed by a prayer)
Getting highlights
My dad...missing him lots
New love seat or chairs for living room
My behated acrylic nail

Nine things I need to do soon:
Call my mom
Make a a box for M&M...it's been awhile
Dejunk the basement
Purge some more scrapbook stuff
Write my nephew onboard USS Carter Hall
Laundry... always.... laundry (really, isn't that nuts)
Dust
Buy or check out The Upstairs Room
Finish planning April's Girls night out


Eight things I have read lately:
Old class notes from Wed night
My Heart is at Home
The nail instructions/notes from Nailtek
More magazine
Every Woman's Marriage
The obituaries (didn't do that till dad died)
Joseph's term paper
Lynda Bishop's blog

Seven things that I do really well:
Make tea (thank you brewer!)
Listen to other's concerns
Keep a clean house (ok, picked up and ready for drop ins)
Enjoy life
Blog
Scrapbook
Love my family (hope THEY know that!! LOL)

Six thoughts about American Idol:
How does Sanjaya’s mother feel about of his celebrity?
Does Melinda realize how good she is?
Who went to Gina Glockson's parade yesterday?
Why doesn’t FOX change the voting system to just put an instant stop to the destructive voting website?
Will IDOL be able to continue if they don’t?
How much more rude will Sanjaya get and is it me or does it just seem like he gets more arrogant with every passing week? His "Welcome to the world of Sanjaya!"comment just kills me..and he's a church boy. Sigh.

Five things I love about this time of year:
Opening the windows!
Flowers coming up in my front yard...they sure are working hard this year with the cold!!
Counting down until the last day of school...just one year left
Fire pits and eating outside on the deck!
Yummy fresh fruits and veggies

Four things I buy immediately:
batteries...always batteries
a card that says exactly what I want
great scrapbook idea books (not like I need another)
stamps (darn you Kimberlee Patton, for awakening my slumbering addiction!!)


Three things that I love to do every day:
Crawl into bed with my fave blankie
Talk with my favorite peeps, either by phone email or IM. I'm not picky
Drink hot tea in the morning while I do my bible study and prayer

Two things that I want really bad:
Cassie to find her way home...or at least back to an intimate relationship with Christ.
a round trip ticket each month to see those I love

One quote to leave you thinking..
Where is home? Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. Home is where the heart's tears can dry at their own pace. (Vernon Baker)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'm tired...

These are Joseph's attempts at getting a good picture of me doing eggs...there are about 8 more where these came from. When he showed me the tongue out one, I looked at him over my glasses...well, he has a knack...just don't know if anyone would hire him for pictures!! None of us could recreate one shot with a ginormous belly protrusion, so we're calling it a freaky film thing. No doubt Melissa will be horrified that I posted it, but hey!! It's my life...and y'all gotta know how hard it is for me to get someone to take a decent picture...hence the self portraits left right and center.!!
the weather is dreary and sun is MIA again...was pelted with sleet as I went to MOPS this morning...
I'm amazed at how many memories are stirred in me as Phil recovers from his stroke. And I am so thankful for the technology that has been brought to fruition in the last five years. What would have happened with my dad's stroke if that stroke medicine was available? Or the anti brain swelling medicine. I'm not complaining, just missing my dad I guess...they (Phil and dad) had the same kind of stroke with such different results. I'm so thankful for Phil's recovery...and hope and pray that he doesn't need a feeding tube...and...


Easter kinda got lost in the midst of Phil's recovery...so I"m doing a late review. It was really fun till the last hour. A few things I noted:

Cassie kept turning her back to eat her Easter candy, like she had to sneak it or didn't want us to know she was eating it. Not sure what that was about.

Food was great and made a yummmmmmmo relish to serve with the ham:
1/2 of a 5 oz. jar of cream horseradish
20 oz crushed pineapple, drained
16 oz whole cranberry sauce
Mix and let flavors blend for at least an hour. It was good and I don't like cranberries AT all!! Try it and let me know what you think.

My mom was nice...really nice. Seemed to enjoy the gathering. She did get snippy with Lindsay once, but for her that's an astronomical improvement.
Tarzan boy lives!!


Don does play games...he says he doesn't like them, but we've taught him 4 different games at the last two gatherings and he's had fun and laughed. I think we've figured out how to relate to my family well...Thank you Lord!!



I haven't talked to my brother Joe since Thanksgiving...and haven't seen him since last summer. I am so sad to realize that. I call; text; email. He says he'll call and he doesn't. Now he doesn't even return texts. His heart must be so broken and his relationships are paying the price for his solitude and workaholic response to whatever he's struggling with. We used to talk 3 times a week...I never thought it would get to three times a year. So sad...I miss him....but I"m so sad for his life being in this state...and that it's self imposed.



The first set of "losers" in the game...Theresa stuck it out most of the game, as I recall!! So there could be about 10 copies of the same picture, but this one tells it all!!




I'm doing a 20 day "school" on relating to women (especially me!!) for Paul. Last night was lesson #1...cultivate intimacy by turning your body toward someone when you talk to them. Paul says I should teach a class at church...that it would be full of men. And then Joseph walks i the room and that's the end of that!! LOL So much for that going anywhere conversationally!! LOL



We did mirrors for MOPS today...my latest layout is one of the sample ones I did. And at MOPS, I'm always struck by the masks women wear, not daring to acknowledge a less than perfect life, like that somehow reflects on them as a woman instead of the world as fallen. I'm blessed with so many real people in my life, and it hurts my heart to know there's got to be a chink in the armor of these ladies but they go it alone. Not me sista!! I'm all for getting the help I need!!



Melissa interviewed for a job...I think it sounds promising. She's amazingly articulate and funny and talented, with great ideas and a wonderful grasp on what needs to be done in areas that she works. They will be lucky to have her...and maybe she'll move to Chi-town so we can watch Grey's together!! They do have offices here, ya know!!

Off for a wee bit of a nap before Tony comes over.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I believe . . . that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
I believe . . . that no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
I believe . . . that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.
I believe . . . that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.
I believe . . . that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
I believe . . . that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.
I believe . . . that you can keep going long after you can't.
I believe . . . that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
I believe . . . that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I believe . . . that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.
I believe . . . that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
I believe . . . that money is a lousy way of keeping score.
I believe . . . that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.
I believe . . . that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down, will be the ones to help you get back up.
I believe . . . that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
I believe . . . that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.
I believe . . . that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
I believe . . . that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I believe . . . That no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief. I believe . . . that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I believe . . . that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.
I believe . . . That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever. I believe . . . that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
I believe . . . That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.
I believe . . . That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.
I believe . . . that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.
I believe . . . that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

I really can't add to this little gem that a friend of mine passed on...and it's been a long few days. My father in law is doing better, slowly but surely. Hopefully, he'll only have a feeding tube for a few days...and he's sitting up more and more each day. He's been moved to intermediate care. And again I"m surprised at those who voiced concern, and those who didn't. Thank God for the ones who did...it has carried us these last 5 days...

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The last two days

have been so long, and exhausting, and I have a new appreciation for people who stay home in the crises and hold down the fort. That's just as hard and more lonely, I think. Phil seems to be stabilizing, and although he'll be in CCU for a few more days, the staff is very happy with his progress and we are trusting them. Poor Paul...just learning to VOICE his emotions and not very well most of the time, and then he's dealing with this. I'm sure God's got a great plan to grow him through this, and I just want to be a supportive wife through it all. Knowing first hand what strokes can do and how it feels as a child of a stroke survivor, I am reminded of Rich's comment "there's a reason God healed you first". I hope I can be faithful to that reason in the coming days.
Easter is tomorrow...and this season when everyone is all about spring and flowers and jelly beans, I am remember MY dad. In the Catholic church, it is a 3 day holy day of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter morning. I loved those celebrations/remembrances ...especially at St. Johns. Everything seems to have more meaning there...but that's probably more on me than the particular church, although it was a great church. Anyway, it was my dad's favorite time of the church year, and mine too. A perfect little encapsulation of Christ's life here on earth...service and communion on Thursday, suffering and death for our sins on Friday, silence in the dark, waiting...and then bursts forth our resurrected Lord...conquering death and darkness...and bringing with Him new life...Saturday service starts in the dark, with everyone holding candles, as the scripture is read: Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Micah, etc. It changes each year, but the same story is told: creation, man's fall, Israel's coming to be and some details of that (depending on the year), John the Baptist, Jesus and His teaching, death and resurrection. It's very moving for me and I usually bawl all the way through it...just overcome with the love that God has poured over, and continues to pour over us. And then the people who have been studying to enter the church are baptised, given first communion and confirmation...
My dad loved it, and so do I. It's about the only thing I really miss about the Catholic church... but mostly I miss my dad...his voice and his Old Spice after shave, his silly half "shit eating" grin, his books piled by the chair and his hair which never seemed to know where to lay. I know he is celebrating Easter in heaven with his parents and brother, and what a celebration that must be. But for today, I miss him...and pray that Paul doesn't have to miss his dad for years to come!!

Friday, April 6, 2007

life's unexpected turns

yesterday morning I was going to post a little rant about Gina Glockson getting kicked off American Idol...in fact, I sat down to do it when the phone rang. It was Paul calling from work ,which was weird since he literally had just left from lunch...his dad had a stroke and they were airlifting him to Peoria. He had no function on his left side, but was alert and coherent. Suddenly, nothing of what was on my plate for the day had any relevance at all. It's hard to concentrate, even on praying, when someone you love to death is in critical condition. Today brings good news...he has movement in his leg and arm, and is talking. His speech is like he has Novocaine, but most of the time it's intelligible. God is so good...and amazing. You know there's a drug they can give you within 6 hours of a stroke that reverses its affect? They couldn't get to the clot in his brain, but it's pretty far out in his brain, which is a good thing. Please pray for my in laws, Mary and Phil, and their kids, grandkids and the doctors that will be caring for him. Phil is a big ole' guy...way bigger than Paul. He's active and funny and kind..and loves to eat. My prayer for today is that he will pass the swallow test that will show that he won't need a feeding tube...been there done that with my dad...don't want that for Phil...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

there is nothing better...



than an old friend, even when she has to leave again...sigh.


Judy left yesterday and honestly, I was just too sad to even say it outloud (or out-monitor). We grabbed a quick cuppa...at STARBUCKS of all places. They have the coolest cups and mugs!! But still...they mostly serve coffee...and I guessed by the name "macchiato" that Judy would like it and it's her fave drink!! Who knew???


Then trying to get a good picture, in the land of "big heads" as she put it..well, that was a bit challenging!!!


And where did spring go? I'm back to a cold neck and drinking tea all day to stay warm...well, really, I crawled into bed and took a little nappy-poo under my blanket...Cassie's not the only one who loves a nice, soft blanket! Blanket lovers of the world UNITE!!!


And...what is it with us/we women who have a need to compare ourselves unfavorably to every other estrogen totin' person on the planet? Her kids are more well behaved, helpful; her house is cleaner, bigger, more organized; Her stomach is flatter, hair shinier, blah blah.


What if we just celebrated the good we have? And quit dismantling the very things that God blessed us with, at the altar of comparison shopping?? So, girlfriends of mine who are reading this, let me tell you something: lean in close, so no one overhears us, closer,


closer...


I am blessed that you are in my life...flabby tummy or not (you probably earned that bearing children who you wouldn't trade for a flat stomach, right)...big house or not (I love my little house but get insecure when having people over)...organized or not. Let's not waste precious time making excuses for not having people into our lives for fear that they will find out our toilets aren't perfectly cleaned, or amazingly decorated, or big. Chances are, whoever you have in your life (me included) really isn't a toilet inspector incognito...Chances are they are funny, honest, remarkable women who want to bask in the shadow of your amazing self, if only for a moment...at least that's why I'd say yes if you invited me over to your less than perfect house to share a moment in time.




Judy and me...in our usual poses...her smirking her "isn't life great smile" and me laughing at something she said...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I watched the Oprah show today...

which I do alot of the time. It makes me think; challenges my worldview sometimes; and often makes me cry. Today was a crying day. She had on 3 people: one woman who started a pajama drive for foster kids; one man who started collecting books for 3rd world countries; and another woman who uses coupons to fund a food pantry. This is s super-simplified version of the show...so watch it tonight at 11 if you can.
Anyway, the kids that she was giving pajamas to didn't even know what pajamas were. It reminded me of her first Christmas show in Africa where the kids cried when they realized the new, clean underwear was for them. Oh man. We are soooo blessed here. Our kids (literally MY kids) complained when they got new underwear or socks in their stockings, unless they were FUN socks. And Joseph couldn't care less either way.
Not to get on a soap box...but I think I'm going to start to challenge the women at Girls Night Out to pay it forward each month.

Each month will be a pay it forward for a local charity...
starting with potted plants for a nursing home in April,
Mothers Day cards for kids to give them moms (for a local shelter) in May,
Beach toys for kids in June,
Sparklers and bubbles for batter women's shelter in July,
back to school items for a very poor school district in August

I think it's the least we can do, as we gather to celebrate the blessing of friendship and strength in each of us...and I'm thinking I'll take paypal donations for people who want to help and can't run over to Joliet to make it happen. We can change the world one month and one smile at a time. And what if all the scrappers we know made little cardstock frames for kids to have picture of their family at shelters and in foster care? Our little .19 prints would be such a comfort...so...I think I found that seed that the preacher was talking about on Sunday...

I double dog dare ya to join me...