Sunday, April 30, 2006

Day Two in Orange County

this is an audio post - click to play


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Day One in CA

this is an audio post - click to play


Friday, April 28, 2006

Ready or Not, Here I Come

It seems that there have been a few who are wondering why I’m going to California. If you will refer to this post, then you’ll have the low down. If you don’t go look at it, just know that it is a gift from God, one that I’m more than happy to be the recipient!

I am getting SO EXCITED! I’ve talked to the ladies I am going to meet for the first time and we are all like kids waiting for Christmas. Saturday cannot get here soon enough! We already have a wonderful dinner planned for that night, and I’m thrilled to be going to church with one of them on Sunday. I’ve no idea what church she attends, but I have a feeling I will feel comfortable and right at home.

Since these ladies work at my company’s home office, I get to see the real deal and to meet some others with whom I occasionally get to chat. I hear the campus is beautiful, so I see this as a real treat. Plus, I get to watch my friends in action on Monday and maybe learn a few things along the way.

The choir program is on Tuesday. Have I looked at the music? Ummm, yes. Am I prepared for it? Ummm, no. But in my defense, the director sent me about 20 songs. There is no way I could have them memorized or practiced well enough to be completely ready for the three programs. (I only got the last set of songs this morning.) It’s a good thing that I know how to use “watermelon” at appropriate times. (All the singers out there are probably smiling and nodding their heads.) I have faith that God will get me through it, especially as it will all be for His glory! (But I wouldn’t mind the prayers for it anyway…)

Okay, I did a lot of the stuff I had to do for preparing for the trip to Los Angeles. I was able to check off most of the TT to-do list. I’ve packed way too much, of course. I’m one of those “just-in-case” people. Knowing myself as well as I do, I want to have a couple of extra outfits for when I spill my drink on me or when I split a seam. (Think Gibee here.) I’ll go through tonight and wheedle a few things out. But for the most part, I think I’m done. (I didn't do the ziplock deal Shannon. I figured since it was just me, I could get myself dressed in the morning.) Except I forgot the camera… I’ve got to get that in my carry-on bag!

And except for the books… I went to Barnes & Noble with my handy-dandy gift card that I got for being a good assistant and a small list of recommendations from my wonderful blog friends. And they didn’t have one of them! (Sorry Susanne. I told you yesterday I would buy your recs, but it is out of my hands.) That’s what I get for leaving it to the last minute. It’s a good thing I had some books that I’ve been wanting to read. I’ll start with those and find a B&N in that area to peruse. So you still have time for those recommendations…

I think I have found a solution for my “lack of laptop for the express purpose of blogging” dilemma. I’m pretty sure I can get to a computer on Monday, but it’s the other days that make me wonder. But I forgot that I have Audio Blogger set up, so I may be experimenting with it next week. If I can figure it out, I will be calling in my blog comments for you to hear. If not, then it will be a bunch of garbled gobbledy-gook. So if you have any advice on using this program, I’m all ears.

Thank you for all the encouragement and enthusiasm for my trip. I can’t wait to share it with you, too.

Last note: Mr. Right held me last night and told me how much he is going to miss me. Not the dinner-maker, clothes-washer, bathroom-cleaner, caretaker part of me, but the person who is Shalee, who laughs at life and herself, who cries during movies (but not this week!), who kisses the sadness away. I cannot truly express to you how beautiful and loved that made me feel. Then he told me that he was happy that I had this opportunity and to enjoy it, but to remember that people who love her will be waiting for me to come home.

And that is the reason he is Mr. Right to me. As much as I am excited about going, I now cannot wait to come back.

Oh and the 5 lbs in 2 days trick? I took off the guilt of going without the family. It has made a world of difference and has lightened my load. Even if I can’t lose that fiver overnight, I feel great, and that is all that matters.


Thursday, April 27, 2006


Okay, I think that I’ve taken this “being like a child” too far.

Someone said to me this week, “So when do you go to California?” and I said, “At the end of the month.” And she said, “Oh, you this next weekend.”


Oh. My. Goodness. Like a child, I just assumed everything would be instantly done.

All the packing, all the washing, all the to-dos checked off the list. I guess I was expecting someone else to do it. Silly me. And I’m the MOM. Sheesh. I forgot that I’m the elected one to do most anything.

But unfortunately, I know for a fact that there is no fairy godmother to take care of these things.

So here is my Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen things Shalee will fret about until she finally gets off her duff and does them.

  1. Wash clothes to pack.
  2. Pack.
  3. Buy books for the trip.
  4. Look golden brown before going to CA. (They are so going to be able to pick me out as a tourist.)
  5. Pack some more stuff that I forgot to pack the first time through.
  6. Attend to all the details for the kids for the week I am gone.
  7. Get things ready for being gone a week from work.
  8. Pack.
  9. Lose 5 lbs in two days.
  10. Go grocery shopping so that I won’t feel like I’m leaving the family high and dry and hungry.
  11. Cook a couple of meals for Mr. Right to pull out of the freezer. (That’s just to be nice. The man knows how to cook.)
  12. Go through suitcase and take out all the stuff that I don’t need that I put in because I was freaking out about packing.
  13. Resolve myself to the fact that Mr. Right laughed at requested that I not take the laptop because a) we can’t replace it if I lose it, b) it’s the only computer on the net and to take it all week would mean that no one will be able to connect at home and c) how else would he be able to write me love letters to receive if I have the computer.

Okay, he didn’t say that one, but he’d better if I don’t get the computer. I will be on a college campus, so I am bound and determined to find one so that I can blog about the week and keep up with my friends.

But I have a feeling that pictures will wait until I return home.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Being a Child at Heart Works for Me

God must really want me to learn some things this week. I really feel pricked at my heart about truly being like a child. I’ve a few more insight about being a kid that I’ve been learning this week from my greatest instructors (after my Father, of course) – my kids. This being “present with my kids” thing that Pezmama talks about is really teaching me more than just slowing down and listening.

I’ve learned that to play brings joy. Monday night I jumped on the trampoline with the kids the first time they asked me to join them. Did you know that you can’t help but laugh and feel lighter when you play with no expectations? We were cracking ourselves up with all the games we were making up. We were all shiny eyes and full of energy and life before we had to go in for dinner. And often when you play, it is good to invite others to join in. Really, sometimes more really is merrier.

I’ve been reminded that being first is not my ultimate goal. It is playing the game that matters. Doesn't matter if I win or lose; it’s that I took the time to enjoy the fellowship of others and had fun in the meantime.

Everyday is a new day, despite what happened the day before. Our son had another bad day at school where he made some wrong choices when he felt frustrated. (We were consistent with his consequences!) But this morning when he awoke, he was as happy as a clam with no thoughts to what happened yesterday. The slate was clean. He was able to forget it and go on. What a joy to be able to learn from experience and then to leave the guilt/shame behind.

I’ve learned that when I play in the world, I will get dirty. And sometimes when I take a bath, it takes a bit more scrubbing to get clean. But boy, do I feel fresh coming out of that cleansing time! I’m like that with God. He cleans me often in the bath of His Grace. Sometimes He scrubs places that I don’t want to be cleaned or places that I didn’t even know were dirty – belly button or behind my ears. But I always feel better when He is done, making me feel fresh and shiny and ready to take on the world.

When you are a child, sometimes you crawl. Sometimes it is the only mode of movement that you can handle at times. But even when you crawl you are going somewhere. It won’t be long before you will be running again.

Sometimes children fall. And sometimes it hurts... a lot. But a hug from your parent can make the pain disappear. And everything will be better from then on. God is always kissing our boo-boos away. He is always ready to hug and tell me that everything will be okay. And that makes me forget the pain and to go out again.

Lastly, I realized that my kids never doubt that I will be there to take care of them. They intuitively know that there will be food to eat, there will be a bed at night, there will be clothes for them in the morning. They never question these things. They trust that all these things (and more) will be there for them. I need that same trust in my Father, that He will provide all my needs and often my wants too. And He does it all with a generous and cheerful heart. That alone should make me sleep soundly through the night!

So my encouragement today is to live each day as a child. See how much happier your spirit is and how much more zest for life you will have.


Now for my Works for Me idea: (Per my wonderful mother-in-awe)

My son loves legos. He loves building and creating new monsters, vehicles, places, etc. But sometimes he is searching for just the right piece. Since we kept all the pieces in on big box, he would dig for lengths of times to find the right block.

So we bought a fishing tackle box. It has several trays and it comes with dividers for the tray. Now he has all of his pieces sorted by shape, color and sizes. Since it comes with a carrier, he can move it to all parts of the house, working beside me if I’m reading, build things outside in the sunshine or carry it when we are on the go.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Faith Like a Child

A boy was sitting on a park bench with one hand resting on an open Bible. He was loudly exclaiming his praise to God. "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God is great!" he yelled without worrying whether anyone heard him or not.

Along came a man who had recently completed some studies at a local university. Feeling himself very enlightened in the ways of truth and very eager to show this enlightenment, he asked the boy about the source of his joy.

The boy replied with a bright laugh, "Don't you have any idea what God is able to do? I just read that God opened up the waves of the Red Sea and led the whole nation of Israel right through the middle." The enlightened man laughed lightly, sat down next to the boy, and began to try to open his eyes to the "realities" behind the miracles of the Bible. "That can all be very easily explained. Modern scholarship has shown that the Red Sea in that area was only 10-inches deep at that time. It was no problem for the Israelites to wade across."

The boy was stumped. His eyes wandered from the man back to the Bible lying open in his lap. The man- content that he had enlightened a poor, naive young person to the finer points of scientific insight- turned to go. Scarcely had he taken two steps when the boy began to rejoice and praise louder than before. The man turned to ask the reason for this resumed jubilation.

"Wow!" Exclaimed the boy happily, "God is greater than I thought! Not only did He lead the whole nation of Israel through the Red Sea, He topped it off by drowning the whole Egyptian army in 10 inches of water!"

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the
disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He
said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for
the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone
who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter
it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and
blessed them. ~ Matthew 10:13-16

How often do we try to explain away, "enlighten" and minimize the joy of a child? How often have I stifled a child's enthusiasm for Christ? I've searched myself and found myself wanting in having faith like a child, joy like my son, love like my daughter.

Lord, let me remember to always be a child at heart, full of hope, being jubilant and having the imagination to see God as the Great I AM who is capable of more than my brain can comprehend. Teach me to long to be your child in every way.

This is one of my favorite songs- Like a Child by Jars of Clay.

It reminds me that as I grow older, I am not to grow independent and to rely on myself, but rather to remember that I am God's child - forever- a child who shares His home, who gets to talk with Him about anything and everything (and He will never give me the look that says "I'm busy" or make me feel like I am a bother to Him) and who gets to snuggle up to Him for some good old fashion love. I may grow up, but I'll never be pushed out of his house. My room will always be mine. Amd My Daddy is better than the world's daddy,and He can definitely beat the world's daddy up!

Dear God, surround me as I speak,
the bridges that I walk across are weak
Frustrations fill the void that I can't solely bear.

Dear God, don't let me fall apart
you've held me close to you
I have turned away and searched
for answers I can't understand

Chorus: They say that I can move the mountains
And send them falling to the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
with Faith Like a Child

Sometimes, when I feel miles away
and my eyes can't see your face
I wonder if I've grown to lose
the recklessness I walked in light of you

Chorus: They say that I can move the mountains
And send them falling to the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
with Faith Like a Child

They say that I can move the mountains
And send them crashing to the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
with Faith Like a Child

(I've got joy like a fountain)

May you bask in the arms of our Father's love. May you be as jubilant as a child who know that he/she is safe without a care in the world. May you be as excited as a kid on Christmas morning when it comes to talking about God.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Just Say No

This week is one of my favorite weeks.

It’s “Turn Your TV Off” Week. I think it would be great to change the name to “Turn Off the TV, Find Out There Is More To Life Than Staring At Some Box, Enjoy Your Family and See How Beautiful This World That God Gave Us Truely Is.” But that’s just me.

I’ve mentioned before here that we don’t have TV. I mean, we have a TV, but we don’t have any cable connection, so all we get on it are a few of the stations and whatever movies we play on our DVD. Our TV has been relegated to the basement, out of sight – out of mind. And that is just the way we like it.

The main reason for this determined dismissal of television is because (let the truth be known) I am addicted to it. If a TV is on, I will watch it. I cannot help but be attracted to the sights and sounds displayed on it, no matter what show is playing. It matters not if it is something that I despise – wrestling, golf, Desperate Housewives. (Yes I am completely aware that I made a few enemies with that comment.) If we are in a restaurant and there is a TV in the background, I am constantly battling myself to pay attention to the people with whom I am conversing. I have this unhealthy draw that pulls me in and refuses to let me go.

I hate this aspect of myself. I cannot explain why the attraction is there, why it is such a conflict in my mind. I feel like the mosquito attracted to the Bug Light. "It's so beautiful to look at.... I can't help it...." So I feel that the best thing to do for myself is to remove myself from it. I will not let TV control me. And I am so much happier for it.

The second reason is that I feel that there is not much on TV that is worth watching. I can’t find many shows that are uplifting to faith and beliefs. Please don’t hear that I am saying that all TV is evil. Extreme Home Makeover, cooking shows/how to shows, even a few sitcoms that I’ve tried out recently (some episodes Life With Bonnie and Everybody Loves Raymond)… I am saying that there is not a whole lot that I deem for myself or my children as worthwhile. God gave specific instructions to flee from sexual immorality and to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. We have found that for the most part, Hollywood does not support me in these thoughts, so we stay away.

The third reason that TV is not a big deal in our house is the fact that we believe that there is more to life than sitting on our rumps doing nothing and letting someone do the thinking for us. Did you know that, statistically, people who watch a lot of television experience proportionally more obesity, depression, consumerism, and debt? Children who watch a lot of television are also more violent, don’t do as well in school and beg their parents for more toys and clothes. That last one alone is enough reason for me not to let my kids be glued to the TV. I don’t hear “I want, buy me or can I have” all the time.

Another reason for no TV is it is expensive, outrageously so. We could feed a small country with the amount that people spend to have those channels every month. I’ve got more important things on which to spend that money… like toilet paper, jeans for my kids and Bible camp this summer. TV’s just too expensive for my thrifty nature.

Lastly, the reason we don’t watch TV is because I want to enjoy the time I have with those I love. My greatest memories have nothing to do with watching some television show. They do, however, involve time playing outside or with friends, playing a game with my family, or chasing my kids around the house. I can recall times when I’ve bowled, played a game of volleyball, or visited a museum. I remember some great times talking with friends, sharing a pie and coffee, and playing card games. I’ve had some of the best conversations about books, opinions and theories. I wouldn’t have had those opportunities if all I did was watch TV…

So there you have it. This is my encouragement to you to turn the “nothing” box off and spend just one week doing things with your family or for yourself. If you are like most people and think “What am I going to do with them for a whole week?” here are a few suggestions:

  1. Go to the library and check out some books to read. (But no movies!) You can read to your kids or just sit around together and spend time increasing your own mental development.
  2. Pull out some jigsaw puzzles and work on them throughout the week. You don’t have to finish it in one night. There is something really neat about developing the patience to complete the task over time.
  3. Play hide and seek with your kids.
  4. Go back to some “old fashioned” games. Go buy some jacks or marbles and enjoy the carefree games. Pull out Clue, Yatzee or some dominoes and play some games.
  5. Read the Bible out loud to your family.
  6. Make a pie together. After it is done, eat together and sit around the table and talk about things that seem to get lost in the daily shuffle. Share a favorite story with your children.
  7. Take a walk together. Look at the new flowers, find “things” in the clouds, say hello to your neighbors.
  8. Write a letter to a friend or to a family member. A real letter… on paper, in an envelope, with a stamp. This is becoming a lost art in this email society. Think about how you feel when you receive a letter in the mail that is not computer printed, that is not a bill, that is personal and intimate. If you don’t get those, perhaps you could start the trend and make someone else’s day. (I do this one with my kids. They love getting mail and it is worth the few minutes of time it took to write it out and the 37¢ it took to send it. My daughter has kept the letters she has received. The smile alone is worth it all.)
  9. Invite friends over and sit on the back porch and talk.
  10. Pray for each member of your family, naming them one by one. Notice the differences or the blessings that come from bringing them before the Lord. Notice how much better you will feel towards them.

If you have a suggestion for things to do, please post them in the comments. This is one post that I would love to see full of suggestions for each of us to try.

And try the no TV thing for a week. You don’t have to decide to quit forever, just decide to quit for a week and see what happens. You may find that you really like life without cable.


Friday, April 21, 2006

See the Art in Me

Before you read my post, let me thank you all for your generous support, advice and prayers with our son. Sometimes you just need reassurance or a different point of view when training up a child in the way he should go.

Now so that you will know (again) that God hears the prayers of faith: The boy had a great day yesterday. As I was going to pick him up from Y-care, I was praying that I wasn't going to hear any bad reports. When I walked in, I must have had a look of "Oh please, oh please, oh please" on my face because the head of the afterschool care, looked up at me, smiled and gave a little nod to say everything was A-OK for the day. She then specifically praised his good behavior. I did too. When asked about kindergarten that day, he said that he was good at school and his teacher didn't need to write his name on the board at all! At that we had a little dance for him!

This is too cute: At prayer time I asked about what he wanted to talk with God. He said he wanted to pray about being good and to make good choices and for God to help him learn how to read and say "really big words." Yep, he's already on to bigger worries.

Anyway, I just wanted to put the heartfelt thanks and hugs out to each and everyone of you. I know God is on my side, it's just nice to know that you are too.

Now for the real post....

Just look at the pictures.

How do they take something so seemingly useless and ugly...

and turn it into such beautiful objects to behold?

Now there’s a God lesson if I ever heard one…

The artist is Heather Jansch.


Thursday, April 20, 2006


First things first…

Thank you so much for all the great advice on what to do with my son. I must admit that I have been feeling a bit down about the entire situation, especially when I went to pick him up from Y-care and they informed me of disobedient behavior… again. I just cannot fathom why he doesn't get it. But we were firm and consistent with the established rules. And we will do it again tonight if need be…
I received so many words of wisdom and words of encouragement. You have no idea how much I needed it right now. It is so uplifting to know that others have been there and are willing to share their experiences and to pray for us. God is very good to make us a part of His extended family!

I will be checking out Addie’s book recommendation. The yucky juice has some merit since taste is a big deal for him… I don’t spank all the time, only for serious infractions like what has happened this week. It would be wonderful if I could find other triggers that would help him learn joy in obedience… fast.

F-stop, your idea is brilliant. And it is just my style. I have a feeling that it will work wonders with my nine year old too. I’ll save it for when she needs some serious parental guidance…

Jeana first mentioned that his behavior may be stemming from not enough time with him, building a relationship with him as a part of the family. Looking back, I can see that our time has been very rushed and not as family-oriented as it has been in the past. So Mr. Right and I are definitely going to implement more fun family time, trying to weed out some of the stuff that is slowly creeping into our lives. I have a feeling that it will be a win-win situation for everybody in the family.

So without further adieu, I am sharing my Thursday Thirteen for the week.

Thirteen Things Shalee's Family Will Do Together For Fun In The Coming Weeks
  1. Make a pizza and everyone gets to help
  2. Go on a picnic
  3. Walk through the arboretum just 2 miles from our house
  4. Play boardgames
  5. Have a family movie night and watch "National Treasure"
  6. Read Charlotte's Web
  7. Make a pie together
  8. Artwork (coloring, drawing, lego designs - whatever tickles our fancy at the time)
  9. Let everyone pick the menu for their designated night
  10. Play tag together
  11. Jump on the trampoline
  12. Laugh, laugh, laugh!
  13. Dance, dance dance!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Work for Me and Works for Me Wednesday

I have a plethora of things to discuss today.

First of all I want everyone to stop, go to Melissa M’s site, Free in Christ and put the biggest praise you can think of in her comments. She give me the information I needed to fix my profile problem. (You won't believe how long Mr. Right searched my template to find the problem to no avail... I owe him big time just for trying!)

You went to Melissa’s site and you came back? Whew. I’m glad I didn’t lose you.

Now, I need some good help here because I am at my wit’s end. Literally. I can see the end of it and it is not a pretty sight.

See this boy? Do you want to see his handsome face again? Here is your chance to do something good in life. All you have to do is pass on your words of wisdom. It will cost you nothing, but it may keep him breathing and allow him to see the ripe age of 7.

Mr. Right and I are having major problems with our son. In the past week, he has been in trouble three times at after school care for not listening to the staff and not obeying their requests. On top of this last report, there was a message on the answering machine from his teacher, discussing his poor behavior during school that day. As I was listening to the message, I stared at my son, who looked horror-stricken that his teacher called. When he started to give excuses, I cut him off and sent him to his room until I had a chance to discuss the situation with his father. It was either that or kill him. Since I don't relish the thought of jail time, I controlled my desire to throttle him; I did, however, leave him with the impression that his life was over as he knew it.

Here’s what we came up with: (We spank, so if that is a problem for you, just skip the next sentence.) To impress upon him the seriousness of the situation, he received spankings for each incident. He lost privileges to his gameboy; he will not be allowed to play it until we decide that he is behaving properly. (I do not foresee him having it back anytime in the near future.) He will have some sort of chore to do everyday outside of what he normally must do. He will write a letter of apology to each teacher/staff, stating what he will do differently. We have been working on first-time obedience, but we will push it all the harder from here on out. To teach respect, we have gone back to answering every request with either a yes ma’am/sir or a no ma’am/sir. (We had been slacking a bit with this one, so we are picking it up again.) Lastly (not as in last resort, but in last to be defined), we will use scripture to support his obeying, being respectful and basically how to live his life in the footsteps of Jesus.

If you have any suggestions that might aid us with teaching him, I am all ears. I would love to hear other ways that may help to teach him to obey. I need to find some way to get through his head, so perhaps you all can help me out.

Finally. to join in Shannon’s “Works for Me Wednesday,” a wonderful way to show shortcuts and helpful hints in daily life, my helpful hint for today is this:

Keep filled water bottles in the fridge for your kids. Whenever the kids have been out playing and need a quick drink, they come in get their water containers. I don’t have to stop what I am doing to help them with this task and they feel good knowing that they did it on their own.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Know Something You Don't Know... (But Not For Long)

First of all, I don’t know what is going on with my sight. Somehow, like the rest of me, my profile has settled to the bottom. This foreshadowing does not bode well for me, I think…

If anyone knows how to fix it, I am all ears. But please speak slowly and plainly as I do not understand computer-ese. (As a great philosopher once said, “I am a bear of very little brains and long words bother me.” – Pooh. I actually have this one on a coffee cup to remind others where I am at, especially before I’ve had coffee.)

Now to my big announcement: (No, I’m NOT pregnant. Sorry Avon and Lynnette – in-awes… they are ever so hopeful.)

No, I didn’t win the lottery, either. Don’t bother asking for money.

No, I did not accept the Nobel Peace Prize this year. I have too much on my plate already.

Quit guessing and let me finish!

I am going out to California… without the family… for an entire week… for very little money… and it is not for work. (Gasp!)

Here’s what happened: A friend of mine at church, Mel – who by all accounts is an all-around beautiful person and a fabulous singer – came up to me and filled me in on a situation. Her sister’s church choir in New Mexico is going to Pepperdine University Lectureship at the beginning of May to perform, but Mel’s sister cannot attend this year. She told her choir director that she has a twin sister – Mel- who sings beautifully and can easily fit into the choir. He called Mel and asked her to attend, and oh, do you know of another soprano who would help them out?

Long story short: Mel asked me, Mr. Right gave the A-OK, and I am on my way to the Golden State. And the added bonus is that the choir in New Mexico took up a collection and most of my ticket is now paid and I will be staying with Mel in one of the university dorm rooms with at least half of my meal provided. We were going to attempt to swing it ourselves, but God has provided for me more than I thought possible. That is what I get for thinking on such a small scale! (God is so good!)

As an added highlight to the entire trip, I am finally going to meet some of the ladies with whom I converse and email on a regular basis at work. They are fellow believers with gorgeous spirits and faith in God’s control in their lives. I am more excited about this part of the trip than anything else. It will be like family reunion where you are seeing each other for the first time. (With it comes the slight fears of will Barb like me in person, will they find they can only stand me in small doses, will Hussy really toss me in the ocean after dinner and am I able to seek revenge without her getting mad at me! You know the usual first time meeting jitters.)

Oh, and I get to have this trip over my birthday - May 3rd, so it’s like an extra special time for me to turn 35. 35!?! I feel like a 21 year old inside… Where has all the time gone? It’s a good thing I still have people tell me I look young. (My favorite compliment? You don't look old enough to have a nine year old. Sigh, some people are so kind.) It makes this getting older thing much easier.

So now you know all about my surprise. I hope to take lots of pictures and if I can convince Mr. Right to let me take the laptop, I’ll post while I’m away. If not, I’ll send a full report when I return. Either way you will know all about it!

Now all I have to do is to figure out what to pack and a few good books to read over the week. Any suggestions?

Monday, April 17, 2006

What a Crazy Weekend! (I thought Monday would never get here...)

So late in posting, but this Monday is just a runover from the weekend. It's been non-stop go, go, go!

This past weekend was the LTC (Leadership Training for Christ) Convention. LTC is a way to get children involved in Bible studies; scripture reading; speech; sermons; song leading; art of all medias; dramas; chorus; prayer journaling; puppet shows; service projects; and signing. It is a program that introduces children to various act of service and teaches them that anyone can be useful to God in different ways, these being just a few. (This year’s theme was “Take the Lead” and the books they studied were Joshua, Judges and Ruth.) Being that this was the first year that our daughter participated in LTC, it was our first time to enter this arena of fun, fellowship and chaos (meant in a good way.)

Fortunately, the convention was in Kansas City this year, so traveling far was not an issue for us. Figuring out downtown was but that was because we rarely make it downtown so our knowledge on it is very limited. I will admit that is somewhat embarrassing to ask for directions from an out-of-town convention attendee. They didn’t make fun of us, too much anyway…

Friday started off with a bang. We arrived at the hotel early enough to hit the pool before everyone else did. The kids had a blast swimming and playing with some other pool-goers. Mr. Right is such a good daddy. He was in the pool playing Marco Polo and shark and all sorts of fun games. (I’m the fuddy-duddy – I like to play “Let’s sit in the hot tub and relax” game. They never want to play what I want to play…

After showering and dressing for the evening events, we grabbed some dinner and checked into the convention. While gathering our information for the events, one of the convention organizers looked at me and said, “They still need a judge for female Bible reading… Would you be interested in helping?”

My first time there and I’m being sucked into the running of things already? Of course I said yes. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I could help out. It was during the Bible Bowl, a two hour session where the kids are asked 100 different questions from their studies. I didn’t think I would miss out too much if I didn’t sit through that one! It was an event that was easy to judge and worthwhile to see young woman get into the Word.

Since we had so many out of town acquaintances, we decided to forgo going to bed early and kept our kids up entirely too late. We met some friends for coffee and a late snack and some good fellowship. I got called into duty again at 10:30 - that night. “Hey, I know that they need a signing judge for tomorrow and I know that you sign, so I gave them your name... Will you do it?”

Now here is where you need to understand that although I am learning sign language, I in no way feel as if I am advance enough to judge anyone else, not even a 3rd grader. But after talking to the coordinator and being assured that even I could do a good job at it, I consented.

The next day when I showed up to find out what I needed to do, they wanted me to judge the advance classes. I firmly stated a good “No way, José,” but said I would do the beginners. It was fun and really encouraging to see so many kids learning to sign, especially boys! (Did you know that a deaf person has an average of three good friends their entire life, and two of those are usually their parents?! That is just so sad and narrow minded of us who have the capability of hearing.)

They did a great job signing the songs; you would not believe how much courage it took for them to participate. Most everyone was extremely nervous, but they didn’t give up. All I wanted to do was give everyone a gold medal for even trying! But I did the right thing and judged/critiqued the way that was requested. It was funny how everyone ended up with a silver or higher though. I walked away saying I wouldn't mind judging again next year; they LOVED hearing that little bit of info...

The rest of the day was spent following my daughter to each of her events. My shy, sweet girl participated in the puppet show and she did great. Next she played a part in the drama; it turned out that she loved being on stage. Lastly she sang with the chorus. I’m such a proud mama to watch her participate in some events from which she normally would shy away – all on her own accord. (No I didn't talk her into a single event; she made all these decisions on her own!) Seeing her smile after each performance was worth the lack of sleep and running around involved with this weekend.

We had made plans with some of our visiting friends to go see the Wizards’ game. Let me just say now that I loved the soccer game. It was beautiful weather, great friends and we got to see up close the only score of the game. (Wizards won!) All the kids (6 in all) had fun with their hot dogs, cotton candy and time with each other.

We all finally made it to our house about 10 PM that night. We were exhausted! And Easter was the next day... Another long day from the get-go… I was hoping for a little breather today, but no such luck. Maybe Tuesday will calm down for me.

Next year I know to plan a vacation to recover from this kind of weekend…


Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday and a Meme

Oh what a Good Friday this is!

I am humbled at the thought of being alive, having a God who loves me enough to sacrifice His Son, His having a Son willing to obey.

I am awestruck at such a divine plan for me, for us, for salvation. I am grateful more than my soul can express how much I needed that rescuing, how overwhelming and incomprehesible that love seems to me, how thankful that I am to be on the receiving end, despite my ignorance and muddled thinking and continual lapse in faithfulness.

Why God puts up with me I cannot fathom, but then I remember that He is God and He is good and I don't have to have the answers. He's got them and that is sufficient for me.

Please take a moment to praise Him for his designs and thank Him for His ceaseless love, for his love endures forever.


Now on a much more secular note: Peach tagged me, and I love playing tag . . . anything that will remind me that I don't have to be boring to be an adult.

Since I did a meme just a little bit ago, I will change the questions just a bit, but remain faithful to the gist of the originals. If you know me, I'd rather play a game of Calvinball anyway...

Here goes:

4 Jobs I've wish I could have
  1. Backup singer to Sting (I've really loved his recent music - last 10 years at least- Check out All This Time to hear some wonderfully passionate poetry put to music)
  2. Improve actress - Really if you go and watch improv, you may wind up with your drink coming out your nose. I like the idea of making others laugh and feel good.
  3. House sitter for people in other countries, especially Ireland, Italy, France (countryside) and Tahiti. I would see those places and not have to lay out the money to pay for a hotel!
  4. A gift giver to those in need - How often they get to watch hope be restored in others' eyes!

4 Movies I Have Watched Over and Over and try to get others to watch over and over too

  1. Pride and Prejudice (A & E version - the only really good one in my humble opinion)
  2. Anne of Green Gables
  3. Sense and Sensibilities
  4. Return to Me (I am stopping, but there are others that I watched many times.)

4 Websites I Visit Regularly when I should be doing something else

  1. I'm just going to say that there are more than 4 blogs I visit almost daily. It's like checking on my extended family members.
  2. Google
  3. my business' home page

4 Favorite Foods that I would travel great distances to get

  1. Chik-fil-A sandwiches (When traveling to Florida to visit my folks, we will always pull over to get some no matter the time of day, or we will spend an extra hour hungry, knowing that there is one "up ahead".
  2. Good BBQ - Think southern pulled pork sandwich - Memphis style
  3. Mom's food - well the dishes I liked anyway
  4. Fabulous chinese food

4 Places I Would Rather Be Right Now

  1. Getting a massage
  2. Outside in the sun (beautiful day today!) reading a good book
  3. Getting that aforementioned raise
  4. With Mr. Right

4 Books I Have Read Over and Over (other than the Bible)

  1. Time Traveler's Wife
  2. Odd Thomas
  3. Lightning
  4. Grasshopper (Really, this list could go on forever...)

4 Musical Artists that I will never tire of hearing

  1. Nora Jones
  2. Lifehouse
  3. U2
  4. WOW! cds

4 Reasons Why I Blog (actively and passively) and why I hope others will read mine

  1. To create a outlet to express my opinions, my thoughts, my feelings. I get to put to screen what I sometimes cannot put verbally. To obtain therapy without having to pay for it. To be thankful for my family and to not take this time for granted.
  2. To find that I am not alone in this vast world. There are several other people who, like me, struggle with their faith, their place in this world, parenthood and just want to be heard. I blog to find encouragement and open candor in so many areas.
  3. To laugh and to commiserate together, to support each other across the wires in prayer, in comments and in virtual hugs. To be real.
  4. To keep in touch with new friends. That one has really surprised me. I find that as much as I like to publish, often it is the reading of your blogs that which I really look forward. And it makes me want to pack a bag and go visit you. I've got lots of kindred spirits who I long to meet!

Okay, I'm tagging Kate, Addie, Suzi and Susanne. I'll meet you on the field and feel free to change the rules when you want. It is Calvinball meme, after all.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006


Shalee's Favorite Foods
  1. Fresh McDonald's french fries (and if they're not fresh, I'll take 'em back and ask for some good ones!)
  2. Mr. Right's salmon (delish!!!)
  3. Chicken Fetticcini Alfredo or Chicken with Linguini and Vegetables... couldn't decide
  4. Mongolian Beef and all the sides (rice, hot and sour soup, crab rangoons and hot tea)
  5. Our homemade apple pie (lots of cinnamon and sugar on the pastry)
  6. My mom's scalloped potatoes and ham
  7. Chicken Pot Pie (not the frozen stuff either!)
  8. Grilled Steak with sauted onions and a loaded baked potato
  9. Pizza topped with roasted garlic
  10. Somerset salad from O'Neill's... I've actually wanted to lick the plate clean it's so good.
  11. Our homemade strawberry pie
  12. Jack Stack's baked beans and grilled Texas toast
  13. (Almost any) food shared with good friends (Brussels sprouts still not included though)

Check out other TT!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Shoe Fit

Yesterday in my comments Pezmama told of an instance where her husband actually made one of her dream getaways come true. How cool is that?! Everyone needs to have some dreams completely fulfilled sometimes.

As it happens, I do have a memory to share about surprises.

Three years ago Mr. Right wanted to do something really spectacular for my birthday. He decided that since we hadn’t had a trip alone in some time, he would whisk me away for a four day getaway to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Plus, he knew that I loved surprises.

Now some strategic planning was involved because at the time I worked at Barnes & Noble as a Lead. What this meant was that I worked all sorts of hours on any day of a given week. Usually weekends off were a rarity. But he did not let that daunt him.

He called one of the managers to explain his plight. He wanted to get some of my days off and use some of my vacation days to pull it off, but he wanted them to leave me on the work calendar so that I wouldn’t have a clue as to what was happening. God had something to do with the scheduling because not only did they grant his request, they gave me the weekend off so that most of my vacation days would stay intact. And no one said a word about it to me.

Next he called his parents to request their babysitting skills. The babysitting at our place (4 hours away from them) meant that they would have to take time off too. From what I gather, they didn’t even bat an eye at it. They cleared their schedule to make room for us. Now that’s love, I tell you.

He scrimped and saved so that we could have a fun time on our trip. He set money from our tax return aside to help pay for the trip too. If he could go without something, he did and then put the savings into the mad money fund. This was a great case of the right hand not knowing what the left was doing, really remarkable when I was the one doing the bills and in charge of our finances.

On the Thursday before my birthday (which was on a Monday), he pulled out a suitcase and started packing things. Of course this piqued my curiosity. He then told me that I would not be going to work for the next several days and that I needed to pack for a place that was expected to be beautiful. His only instructions were that I needed to pack shorts, at two dress-up dresses and accessories and a bathing suit. He didn’t have to ask twice!

His parents arrived the next day at noon and shooed us out the door. We kissed the kids and took off. When we were on our way, Mr. Right pulled out some crossword/acrostics/logic puzzle books that he had purchased for the drive. We worked some of them together, some separately. We talked and talked over the 5 hour drive, filling many of the moments with laughter and singing and stories.

When we arrived, I discovered that he had booked us into a beautiful, serene and quite charming bed and breakfast. He had talked with the owners several times, so it felt like we were being welcomed into some old friends’ house. He had reserved the “honeymoon” suite, complete with jacuzzi tub, huge bay windows and the most gorgeous furniture and spread. It was so pretty, I was afraid to mess it up (but I got over that quickly!)

For dinner that night we went to the most stunningly-situated restaurant, a place nestled into the cliffs over the lake. When the sun set, the sky was full of an array of colors straight from God’s paint palate. Pinks, blues, oranges, purples
and grays were spread across the sky, making the open view to the lake breath-taking.

Everything we did was my choice. What shops we visited, where we ate for lunch, where we went for an evening dessert, what sights we saw. And to top it off, Mr. Right had some little present for each day, something to remind us why we were there and how dearly he loved me. Sigh, what did I ever do to deserve such a loving, divine man?

One of the unexpected gifts from God occurred on the second night of our trip. I decided that we should eat at a small, but well-known Italian restaurant that came highly recommended. It was so popular that we had an hour wait, but that was nothing since we didn’t have the kids in tow. Plus, the restaurant was set on the first floor in an old Victorian house, with the entire upstairs as a waiting room/bar.

We had settled in when three couples came into the waiting area. One of the ladies looked very familiar, but I could not place where. They sat near us and eventually we all began talking. “Have you tried this restaurant before?” “How long are you here?” “Where are you from?”

It turned out that we were all from Kansas City. (Sing with me now... It’s a small world after all.) I asked what they all did. When it was my turn, I said that I worked at Barnes & Noble. The girl that looked familiar pointed at me and exclaimed to her two friends, “This is the lady I was telling you about on the way down here! I knew I recognized you!”

What? She was talking about me? “Ummm, is that a good thing or a bad thing?” I asked. If it was bad, I was out of there.

With a very animated gestures and a smiling face, she proceeded to tell me and her friends how she came into B&N looking for a gift for her mother. I had shown her several choice selections that I personally loved and she wound up buying three of them. Her mother loved every single book; she had gone back in to thank me personally for my kindness, attention, deep knowledge about so many genres and personal recommendations, but I wasn’t there at that time and she couldn’t remember my name. Then she turned to me and asked that I give them several more names of great books. Being a book lover and voracious reader who usually wanted to seek a willing audience, I was only too happy to oblige. For 40 minutes – until we were seated, I had the opportunity to talk books, to give recommendations and to hear bits of praise around my name.

Mr. Right specifically stated that he had nothing to do with that gift…

On the day before we left, my sweet husband set up massages for us. I had a wonderfully relaxing hour and a half. Basically the lady had to use a spatula to get me off the table. After I figured out that my legs still worked, we walked back to the B &B and the afternoon remained lazy and carefree.

Everything about that trip was perfect. I wouldn’t have changed a single moment.

The ride back was just as interesting and lively as the one down. I came home to a kept house and squeaky clean kids who had many utterances of “Happy Birthday Mommy!” They made cards for me and gave me lots of hugs and kisses. Feeling loved is the best gift of all.

So I did have my Cinderella moment, without all the mice and the devil of a cat. I never minded that the ball ended. I know that there may be others in my future with my Prince Charming.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Weekend All By Myself?

Crazy Hip Blog Mamas poses this question: If you had a weekend all to yourself, what would you do?

What is that? I can barely find one minute in the bathroom by myself…

If, in the miraculous and inconceivable event, I did find myself unpeopled with the ones I love, I would get up whenever I wanted to leave the bed, not eat breakfast, make myself a cup of joe and read, read, read.

I would then look around at all the stuff I needed to do and not do it. Well, maybe the dishes. But definitely I would ignore the bathrooms!

On this perfect, warm, slightly spring-time day, I would get into a bikini and lay out, all day long, going in when I need a break and going out again when my white skin longed to drink in more ultraviolet rays. I would look good in the bikini, bulging where I want to bulge and being flat in the areas that need to be flat. (Hey, if I am going to have a fantasy, I might as well make it a good one!) And there would be nary a squirrel in sight.

When I tired of the luxury of the written word and sipping of the bright and shiny nectar of warmth – turning a beautiful golden brown goddess, I would go eat some food at my favorite Chinese restaurant, ordering the soup and the crab rangoons along with my meal. The time would be pleasant and fulfilling, in ways more than food alone could satisfy.

Afterwards, I would go and see a GOOD movie (remember this is a fantasy), procuring the best seat and a parking spot relatively close to the door. When the highly uplifting and praise-worthy film ended, I would treat myself to a Baskin & Robbins Chocolate Fudge ice cream scone, just one scoop. I would be offered a free ½ gallon to take home.

I would sleep fully and completely all night, having the most pleasant dreams and waking refreshed and renewed.

On Sunday I would go to church and lunch with a friend at an adult-friendly restaurant, one with tablecloths, real napkins and silverware. After that I would get the massage that was scheduled just for me, enjoying the kneading and pulling - down to my inner being.

I would take an uninterrupted nap, followed by a rousing, fun-filled football game. Afterwards, I would laze around in a bubble filled tub, surrounded by candles and jazz.

Oh... and I would go to the bathroom often, just to savor the fact that no one is banging on the door, asking a question or tattle-telling.


Monday, April 10, 2006

V is for Veracity

This Saturday, a couple of friends of our family showed up and took our kids. They were planning on having a fun time, sans parents. As a matter of fact, these “friends” of ours plainly told us that we flat out weren’t invited to join them in the dinner and a movie deal.


So here we were on a Saturday night, alone, trying to figure out what to do.

It was hard, but we managed…

We looked up movies since we haven’t seen one in FOREVER! (It is just too expensive to go out nowadays. We usually just wait until the movies come out on DVD and watch them then.) But since this free time called for something special, and we just happened to have a gift card to the movies, we thought we would go for it.

We were choosing between The Inside Man and V is for Vendetta. We viewed a trailer for each and found that our picks were basically two terrorist-type movies, not our normal fare, but really there isn’t much out there to watch right now. We basically flipped a coin.

V won out. Mr. Right wanted to go out somewhere nice to eat. I wanted to be with him without spending too much. Frugality took the lead. It’s amazing how wonderful Taco Bell can be when you don’t have two kids in tow. Plus the conversation was just as pleasant and interesting had we chosen a $15 per person place.

We had 20 minutes to spare so we went to Mardel’s (Christian bookstore). Bonus, they had some t-shirts on sale. Since we went so cheap at dinner, we could afford to get a couple, one for me and one for our daughter. (She loves the Sheryl Crow song “Soak up the Sun” and we found a shirt that said “Soak up the Son” for 50¢. Maybe it will guide her thinking a bit…)

We hurried to make our movie on time. Good thing we bought our tickets early. I love modern technology. (I’m one of those people who loves to watch the previews as much as the movie. I rarely find anything that I really want to see, but that is beside the point.) We watched the movie, enjoying some of the special effects and Portman’s performance. I don’t get why any woman would shave their head for a movie; she had better have been paid nicely for that act of courage, but that is just my humble opinion.)

Let me just say that I remember why I don’t go out to movies anymore. (Know that from here on out, I am writing as to why I suggest that you avoid this movie.)

Trying to prove its reason for being, “V for Vendetta” had a vendetta against modern conservative politics. It was a blatant insult and criticism to anything religious, conservative or Godly. In the middle, things turned out to be more about the oppression of homosexuals (a blindingly obvious dig at the recent gay marriage issues that have gone down in flames) than about politics.

Had I known up front that the movie would have been about justifying and validating the gay movement or condemn anything of God, I would have chosen Ice Age 2, even without the kids…
V, the main character, was painted as a freedom fighter, but he’s really an anarchist terrorist. He’s a figurehead trying to lead a revolution, but there’s no organization. Cutting the head off of a totalitarian state and leaving no one to pick up the pieces was how new dictators were to be established. And really, the reason for V bombing and murdering everyone who made him into the monster became was more for vengeance than for any needed change in that society. I think that had the leaders not been responsible for his demise, he would have been content to let life go on as it had been.

The only “real” truth in the movie came from these lines:

Evey Hammond: You're getting back at them for what they did to you?
V: What they did to me was monstrous. Evey Hammond: And they created a monster.

Everything about him was monstrous. Well, that wasn’t a fair statement. He just chose to behave as selfishly as the other “villains,” so I can’t say he was entirely horrible. But most every decision he made came from an evil, sinful, self-centered intent, despite the “humane” characterization the writers gave him – a love of music and art and all things “beautiful.” No matter the “justification” for his actions, he was still killing in the name of justice and humanity. I don’t care how they dressed the packaging, his ideas were just wrong.

The one good thing that came from the movie was the discussion that ensued afterwards between Mr. Right and me. We analyzed with Jesus as our clarifier, commented with God as our foundation and justified through scriptures each questionable/offending point. We went for dessert afterwards and still we were critiquing the movie, pulling in the Christian perspective. When we went to bed, we were still observing different Godly references that supported our opinion about the movie.

It felt really good to us that our first thoughts were to see it through God’s view. Maybe I am maturing after all… It’s only taken an extra 20 years.

But next time I get free time with Mr. Right, I’m taking him bowling.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Random Happenings

Just to throw Susanne off again, I am going to post this early. I’ve got to keep that girl on her toes!

A few more laughs from our life:

I had earned a gift card to one of the restaurants in town. Last night I so didn’t want to cook so I called Mr. Right to have him meet us at the restaurant. He really liked the idea of going out and not having to pay for it.

We sat down and ate, enjoying our time together as a family. The bill came and I reached for the gift card. Mr. Right looked up at me with this look of “oh-no” in his eyes. He paid for it on the bank card, the one that made the meal NOT free.

It just goes to show that you can’t win for winning sometimes…

Last Friday, Mr. Right was getting everyone ready for school. (He drops the boy off at Y-care and I pick him up. It works for us.) He got everything ready and went to the school to drop the boy off. When he got back in the car to go to work, he kept thinking that he was glad it was casual day at work. He looked down to realize he still had his slippers on. His place isn’t that casual… Next thing you know, he will trying to go to work in his pajama pants and robe.

Yesterday, my son wanted to show me what he did on the playground, a playground full of soft rubber bits like mulch. It feels as if you are walking on down pillows, it is so soft.
But he decides to show me at school, in the hall, on the not so soft floor.

Before I could question him about what he was going to do, he ran, did this head-first somersault and landed on his bottom. As he is splayed on the ground, I ask him if it felt better to do that on the soft playground. He said yes, but then he had this odd look on his face, as if he were savoring something. Then he looked up at me and said, “I like the blinking pain.”

Wha? What is that? He reached up, put his hand on top of his head and proceeded to open and close it. “You know, blinking pain. It’s there, not there. There. Not there. It feels good.” (Blood pulsing through veins) Never thought of that way…

(I posted this next one in Shannon’s comment section today, so if you’ve read it already you can skip it.)

When I was a new mother (2-3 weeks of motherhood under my belt) my husband and I decided to go to Subway for lunch. When we pulled up to it, we debated on whether to eat it there or to take it home; home won.

We went in, ordered, and returned to the car. When we shut the door, we heard a soft, sleepy sigh. My husband and I looked at each other with surprise and horror as we realized that we BOTH forgot that we had our daughter to take into the store.
I'm so thankful that we didn't decide to eat in...

We laugh a nervous laugh about it now, glad that she was okay and safe. How could anyone forget they had a baby? We were that tired. I don’t think I’ve ever caught up since then…

My kids have memorized a lot of scripture the past few months. (They did this with the church basketball league.) We want to keep this good habit going so one of the ones that we have been saying every morning to the kids is “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Lately we’ve begun the sentence and let the kids finish it.

One morning, I began the scripture: “This is the day the Lord has made…” My son finished it with: “Let us rejoice… in our sufferings!” When I looked at him, he was grinning ear to ear. He was so proud of himself for remembering. Too bad it was the wrong verse! I couldn’t help but laugh. Oh that I would have that attitude!

So what are some of the funnies that happen to you? Come on, fess up. It is good to know that we aren’t alone in being human!


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

All right, I'm moving up in the world. I've decided to join in on the Thursday Thirteen, with the help of Addie. (Thank you!)

Someone may have to walk me through the linking later. None the less, I am excited about viewing everyone's thirteens today.

Thirteen Favorite Places Shalee Would Rather Be

1. With Antique Mommy, stepping over the toys and drinking our cuppa
2. With f-stop, drinking the first round
3. With Addie, eating fresh chocolate-covered donuts
4. With Susanne, drinking a Mocha Breve
5. With Gibee, throwing erasers at her
6. With Shannon, scraping A&D off her floor
7. With Kate, watching the thunderstorms
8. With Kelsey, hiding with her on top of the laundry cabinets
9. With Mel, eating her favorite pizza and her eggrolls
10. With Jeana, watching Pride & Prejudice (A&E version of course)
11. With Liz, laughing at the comedy of parenthood
12. With the anonymous commentor who said that Mr. Right should take me out to dinner. That person so gets me!
13. With Mr. Right, at that dinner... in Tahiti

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Undercover Angel
2. Addie
3. Chaotic Home

4. Heather

5. Sheri


Susanne mentioned that I don't have anything on the list about my boss. (Yeah, I'm a full-time working mom.)

14. With my boss, eating at Bristols and getting a raise

Thank you so much for pointing out that missing thought, Susanne!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Power of Prayer

All right already! Gibee has already chewed me out for not getting this post up first thing this morning. I basically am piggy backing on her post from yesterday (go to April 4th), so if you want to start with hers (highly recommended) and get back to me, you will see why I am writing about prayer…

You’re back already? Good.

First let me state that I do not have my stuff together. After reviewing this post, it looks like I am a holier-than-thou type lady who trusts God without question. I am further from that than you can imagine. I am human and have weaknesses, too many to name. My faith is a rollercoaster ride, with highs and lows and a few loop-d-loops thrown in for fun. But I’ve found that it’s the loop-d-loops that makes me stronger.

I see that I am not alone in this department of prayer; I mean praying for the big stuff and the little stuff.

Big Stuff (to name a few)

When I was in college and I broke up with the guy I thought I would be with, I prayed and prayed that he would come to his senses and we would work out. A few months later, after same prayer, a friend (true friend indeed) out of the blue asked what I prayed for. I told her and she took my hand and said, “Shalee, you are praying for the wrong thing. You need to pray that God will send the right man to you. Not the one you have picked.” She prayed with me then and there. I continued the prayer with more and more emphasis on God handling it and my letting it go, and less than two months later, Mr. Right came into my life.

When Mr. Right was looking for a job, which has basically been the last 5 years Read this for one discussion on it. There were lots of “praying without ceasing” occasions during those times. But I know God was striving for me to learn dependence on Him. I found it easier and easier to trust that He would provide during those jobless times. My stress levels were basically trivial things like what am I going to make for dinner and will the laundry ever cease?

Not even a month after we bought our house, Mr. Right lost his job. We hadn’t even made our first payment! We prayed about it, a lot, and decided God would take care of it. We didn’t think He would let us have the house after so long of a wait and then pull it out from under us. And if He did decide to do so, we would still praise His name. That week, we got a call from our closer – we went to church with her- and she said that someone from church had called to pay our mortgage. She was basically apologizing for making that decision without asking us first. The anonymous donor did it again the next month. Isn’t that what being a Christian and being part of the Family is all about? Doing service for God without letting the right hand know what the left is doing? We were humbled by such generosity and outpouring of love.

When Mr. Right was diagnosed with malignant cancer moles, endless prayers were uttered. I had no surprise whatsoever when a month later the doctors called to say that the retesting of the moles showed no cancer in them. Yes, I do believe in miracles and in the power of prayer.

When we knew that we were not going to make our bills, we prayed for God to take care of it. We would get an unexpected refund or a large tax return. The money would just appear.

One Christmas (three years ago), we knew we had no money for presents for the kids. We were going to make the best of the situation, but it really bites when you know your seven and three year olds won’t have a big gift under the tree. (Tree was a freebie from a state park.) We came home from church one Sunday morning and someone had snuck into the apartment –really there was no sneaking, we left our door unlocked all the time- and there was a $200 gift certificate in the middle of the floor. No name, no explanation. Boy, did I cry then! I am right now just thinking about that gift.

I prayed hard for my marriage when I wanted to call it quits. (Mr. Right probably prayed even harder because he was the one wanting to make it change for the better and to work it out. Stupid, kind, loving man… He really went through hell to get me to change my mind because I can be very stupid and stubborn. NOT a good combination.) I learned to pray for wisdom, to open my eyes to the truth and to remove all obstacles in the way of my making good decisions. God was so faithful and quick to answer. It was a long process of finding love and acceptance again, but it was so worth the time, pain and effort. I know now what true love is. And God knew what He was doing all those years ago when I prayed for Him to find the right man for me.

Little stuff

I've prayed for me to find lost items, for me to remember my train of thought, for me to not lose it with the kids, to find a babysitter, to find the right words at the right time. I pray to make it through the long lights when late for work; I pray to make it safely home at night.

I pray for sleep almost every night. I am such a lousy sleeper. But when I do wake, I pray that God will tell me what He wants me to know so that time will be used wisely. I also pray that I will not be so jealous of my husband who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat and sleep through nuclear war.

I've pray for my daughter to find a good Christian friend and for her to like herself the way she is. I pray that she will still want to be by me in the years to come.

I've prayed that my son will learn to obey the first time and that he will pick up on reading. I really pray that I will not beat him senseless and that I will have patience when he makes a mess in the bathroom… again. Read this to see why.

I pray about work, my boss and his life, my computer when it does strange and unusual things. I pray about reports, about finding a location for impromptu meetings and about my reputation when said meetings don’t go the way they should, like this one.

I pray that I’ll find the one missing item needed when making something (because you know, I am not smart enough to pull everything out first.) I pray that dinner turns out when trying something new. I thank God for giving me food in the first place and to change my attitude when I know I am going to have to eat something I do not like.

I prayed to like vegetables when I found out that my cholesterol was high. It worked. I like all sorts of veggies now, but still a big no on the Brussels sprouts.

I pray for firemen, EMTs and policemen when I hear a siren, to keep them safe. I pray for the victims or those in need of their services. I pray that others will get out of the way so that they can do their jobs.

I find that I pray about anything and everything, and it is not just things of today. Since I know God is faithful, I pray about the things that I cannot see will not come into fruition for a long time – like my children’s spouses and their families, retirement, my marriage as empty nesters, friends I still have yet to make and people that God will put before me so that I will learn something yet again. I pray to be a tool for God and to not be frightened by that thought.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will intercede for me and use the right words when I know my words don’t fully express what is in my heart. I pray that my heart will not be my own, especially when I find that I don’t want to give it to Him.

Long blog I know, but I’ll wrap it up by sharing my favorite saying:

"When you pray for potatoes, have a hoe in your hand."

I love that quote because not only are we to pray without ceasing, we are to expect an answer. And sometimes work and time will be involved in your answer. And more often than not, the potatoes you prayed for, turns out to be a big container of chocolate fudge ice cream instead.

My lesson for today? God is always faithful to His children, more so than we can ever imagine.

Oh, and never make a promise to Gibee – she’ll hold you to it.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Food for Thought… Or For Dinner

Well, I made reference to one of our dinners, and a few of you have asked for the recipe. I am more than happy to oblige. Being a regular Julia Childs, well without the weight, training or tv show, I am thrilled to instruct you in the making of this meal.

But I have to warn you: only read on if you like an easy, cheap recipe to make for your dinner.

You’re still here?

Well, then, let’s get cookin’.

Mandarin Orange Broccoli Chicken

4 uncooked boneless chicken breast – cut into pieces
2 Tsp olive oil
2 cans Campbell’s cream of broccoli soup
1 large can (or two small cans) mandarin oranges – drained, reserve juice
½ c milk
¼ tsp pepper

Over medium heat, place oil into hot pan. Place chicken into oil. Brown chicken.

In bowl, mix soup, juice from oranges, milk and pepper.

Pour over browned chicken. Reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes. Add oranges. Stir.

Serve over rice. (Please cook it. I don't want you coming back saying, "I liked it, but man it was murder on my teeth.")

Unlike my son, I think the rice and gravy tastes really good. We usually eat this meal with peas and brown-n-serve rolls, but hey, go wild. It’s your meal. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can adjust it to feed as many or as few people as you want. (When it was just Mr. Right and me, I used one or two chicken breast and cut everything in half. When we had company, I just doubled it to the meal you see today.)

If you like this easy meal, I’ve got many more where that came from.

All right, I shared mine. You share one of your favorite things to eat. (That way when we get together, I’ll be sure at least to cook something that you’ll eat at the table.)

Bon appétit! (Oh, and let me know if your family liked it too!)


Monday, April 03, 2006

Kids Are Brilliant! (At least mine are)

I forget that kids don’t know everything that we do. This world is one big playground, full of new sensory defining moments. Sights, sound, touches that I have experienced a million times no longer hold me in such awe. But they do hold my children.

For example, my son, with a lightbulb moment- you know, the ones where you can see the light going off on top of their heads- asked his dad this question as he was getting out of the bath.

“Dad! Did you know that I can breathe out of my nose?”

His father looked at him, sniffed through his nose, and with the same wonderment said, “You’re right! I can breathe through it.”

Or when we are singing our nigh-night song, “Doxology” (Good idea Shannon!) and my son asked, “What is the Holy Ghost?” Or when we follow up with the “I love you” song and my children try to hold the last note longer than I can. (Not yet, but it won’t be long until they can beat me. My daughter almost bested me!)

Or when they tell me that they love me as much as God does. Or when they tell me that they want to live with me forever and ever.

Or when a stuffed animal gets blamed for doing something my son shouldn’t do. My son has learned that he can be guilty just by associating with those rebellious teddy bears… He seems to have taken matters into his own hands, though. The other night I overheard him grounding one of them from gameboy because the animal chose not to listen the first time.

And my children love to make up new recipes. Usually this is done when eating, although if I let them, they will create and ask to cook “something new.” On Friday, I made Mandarin Orange Broccoli Chicken. Typically, this meal is served with Le Seur baby peas and rice. Yum!

My son, so as not to be rude as I was talking with my friend Debbie, went over to his father and whispered, “Dad, I’ve found a new recipe!”

“Really what is it?” his father asked.

“You eat the rice with the gravy! Try it!” my son replied.

His father did so and responded with joy. “Oh, I like that. It’s really good.”

Then my son leaned over and whispered with a cupped hand to his father’s ear, “I don’t like it, though.”

Okay, maybe not so brilliant… but really adventurous instead.

I hope I grow up to be just like them.