Friday, September 29, 2006

Facing the Giants

Hey, all! I JUST got this info from a friend. I certainly think that as many people as possible should go see this movie...even if you're not into football, to show Hollywood that we, the American people, support movies with this type of message!


There is a new movie coming out the last weekend of September.

God is very up front in this sports movie. I am frankly surprised that Hollywood would even make a movie like this. But, they did and the reviews so far say that it is very inspiring, along the lines of Remember the Titans and Rudy, but with a much more spiritually-driven overtone.
Here's an opportunity to tell Hollywood once again that these types of spiritually inspirational movies are desired by a significant amount of people in America. Please do whatever you can to get the word out so people can take their entire family and friends to see it including forwarding this email to friends & family.


Sony Pictures has put this film in 400 theaters throughout the country.


They are only giving it ONE weekend to succeed or fail. This weekend is it.

Look and see for yourselves if you think it is worth our support. Check and see if it is playing in a theater near you.


Fall Reading Challenge: Part 2

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I and a multitude of people are taking the Fall into Reading Challenge by Katrina. It's not too late to join in on the reading extravaganza! And your list doesn't have to be long either. It just has to name a few of the books that you want to read.

Knowing that we are all reading so much, I only thought (okay, Susanne totally told me to do this) it would be helpful if we could write our opinions about the books we have read. I sure don't want to waste my time reading a book that isn't all that.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is really a lovely children's tale of overcoming a sorrow-filled past. Opal not only has to deal with the rejection from her mother, but she is also dealing with moving to a new town, making new friends and trying to find solace in a retreating father, the new preacher in town. Opal would have to say that Winn-Dixie was a helper through it all. It's comical, sweet and uplifting, not to mention very well-written (something that often gets thrown by the wayside in children's books). It is one that every child should read.

Jan Karon's Mitford series so far has been a delight. A Light In The Window was a great follow up to At Home in Mitford. It's sweet and inviting, full of lively characters that you can come to adore. I admit there were times that I wanted to smack Father Tim and Cynthia for their stubbornness, but they eventually come to see truth and hope in the end. One of my favorite things about the series (so far) is that it is well written without the need to interject circumstances that go against a Christian nature. It's a Christian book without the title. Such a refreshing experience since many books feel the need to throw in foul language and sex just to keep a story going. The reading is light and easy and the story (and sub-stories) are effortless to follow. If you want to just dip your toes into the realm of fiction without any philisophical or heavy words pulling you down, then I highly recommend this series.

Have you ever found an author that you enjoyed so much that you automatically pick up the next book out by that author? That's the way I feel about Geraldine Brooks. She is an exquisite storyteller, spinning great yarns that has me feeling as if I actually know the characters in the book. She made me care for the characters, crying when they hurt, laughing in their mirth and basically making me emote on behalf of the protagonists. She did this to me with Year of Wonders, a tender, entwining story about the black plague, told from an perceptive and compassionate woman's point of view. I couldn't put it down when I read it.

So when
March: a novel came out, I grabbed that book up quicker than a shopper who has eyed the last 10 year anniversary Tickle Me Elmo. And often, I like to read books without knowing a thing about them, especially if they are written by an author I love. When I picked up March, I opened to the first page of Chapter One and delved into the fray. Imagine my surprise when in Chapter 4, the protagonist, who is writing letters to home during the Civil War and recalling some of the gifts that the family sent to him, thinks about the erratic sewing done by Jo. My brain said, "Jo + bad sewing= Little Women. Does the author realize this connection? Hey, his name is March. Is this a book being written from the viewpoint of the March's father?" The very next paragraph confirmed it as she had written about Meg, Beth and Amy, not to mention to Marmee. I opened to the cover and began to read the synopsis. If I had done that in the first place, I would have known that this is the exact idea of the story.

Now I want to state that the book is well-written and beautiful in its description of situations and details. It is full and will make you have a bevy of emotions. It will make you think about the characterization of Marmee and the mostly non-existent father in Little Women. If these thing appeal to you, then I recommend this book.

But if like me, you wish for those beloved characters to remain wholesome and unmarred by the nature of the world, then I suggest you leave this book on the shelf. Mr. March, although modeled after Louisa May Alcott's father (as the Little Women are modeled after her family), is most unlikable in that he is weak and selfish and untruthful to his family. He is very self-serving and self-centered, which seems to run contrary to his role as a Calvinist chaplin in the army. And he is a bit unlikable as a man, making cowardly decisions and stupid blunders due to being self-centered. Marmee turns into an angry tempest at a moment's notice and is such a martyr in her role of "wife." She is not as wholesome and as strong a woman as pictured in Little Women. Although I liked the presentation and molding of the book and can find no fault in the storytelling, I did not care for it. And sometimes, authors should just leave a beloved family alone.

These are the books in progress, so if you want to know about any of these books, check in later for a quick review.

Affinity by Waters, Sarah
Say Good Night To Insomnia by Jacobs, Gregg D
A Rift in Time by Phillips, Michael
Financial Peace University by Ramsey, Dave
Captivating by Eldredge, John and Stasi
the remainder of the Bible - from Galatians on

You can check here to see what books I'll be reviewing all the way through December. Maybe you'll find some that you can't wait to get your hands on too.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Do You Get My Meanings?

Morning Glory seeded me with this sweet little word meaning meme for my blog, so I thought I would go ahead and plant it for you to enjoy as well.

It's a word meaning meme where I am to write what the words mean to me.

Piggy bank - This little piggy had none.

Yesterday - All my trouble seemed so far away... Yesterday I was going from before sun up to way after sun down, but I had the pleasure of talking with this little southern belle. She is a D.O.L.L. (And my favorite part? When she turned to tell her children who she was talking to, and her oldest daughter squealed in delight! That's right; I'm squeal-worthy to her. That totally just made my day! Well that and the actual conversation...)

Ronald - McDonald's? Nah, that's too easy... Ronald is a name of my brother and of my father-in-awe.

Rainbows - God's promise, just one of many that I lean on with full assurance.

Now I'm hoping to tag some untagged peeps.

Shannon, Chilihead, Stacey, Gibee and Kim: will you play along? If anyone else wants to play, consider yourself tagged and leave them in the comments or let me know and I'll come and see your meanings at your place!

Here are your words:


Happy playing!


WFMW - Cascade 2-in-1 Action Pacs

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I have found something that I absolutely love. Shannon has already given it a 5 rocks rating and now I know why.

It's Cascade 2-in-1 Action Pacs. These things are going to be a staple in my cleaning artillery!

First you need to understand that I'm usually not into gimicky products. I would never have tried them on my own, except with the endorsement of a fellow woman like Shannon. Imagine my delight when Cascade contacted me about a trial with their product as well! Woo hoo! Trying something for free definitely works for me.

When it arrived, it was a full package of the product, which is great because we go through lots of dishes. It also came with a product pamplet, detailing the benefits of the Action Pacs. They also sent a few pages of "celebrity" gossip about who was considered the cleanest Hollywood couple, a poll comparing other couples and gossip-y, trival info that basically went straight in the recycle bin. I thought it was foolish nonsense that had nothing to do with the product; besides, I don't care what Matthew Brodrick and Sarah Jessica Parker use to clean. They have a maid do it anyway, so it all was a moot point. So my suggestion to the Cascade Advertising firm is to ditch the "Hollywood Connection" and just advertise the product.

Now... to the Action Pacs! This product combines the dishwashing soap of Dawn (my favorite) with the power of Cascade (my favorite for the dishwasher). This is a detergient marriage made in heaven.

Now I'm with Shannon. I have this gene in me that dictates that I prewash my dishes before loading the dishwasher. But with the help of prayer and a reminding husband, I was able to forgo the prewash and just scraped and loaded. I've tried this for over a week while auditioning the Cascade 2-in-1 Action Pacs. I just popped the small pac into the detergient dispenser, closed the compartment and start the wash. And I loved the results.

The dishes were really clean! I have found only three dishes that had to be rewashed and that was because the food on them were really sticky - Malt-o-Meal. That stuff barely comes off when I prewash, so it really didn't surprise me. Everything else was ready to be put away as soon as the dishes were dry.

Not only am I not wasting water with prewashing the dishes, I am saving on dishwashing soap, too. However, in my book, the most important thing that was saved was time. It really did cut the kitchen time down by two-thirds. My 30 minutes clean-up became 10 minutes, and most of that was putting the leftovers away and cleaning the kitchen. That meant more time for the family before bed and less energy exerted on the mundane.

The only thing you must do is keep the pacs from getting wet. It has a moisture releasing packaging around the pacs, so for them to get wet would ruin them. Use dry hands when putting a pac into the dishwasher and store the resealable bag in a dry place. Other than that, I have no qualms with this product.

So I highly recommend the Cascade 2-in-1 Action Pacs. This is a product that lives up to its advertising, and often that is a hard thing to find.

If you want to get out of the kitchen quicker and save money at the same time, I recommend that you put this little winner on you list.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

A message every adult should read because children are watching you and doing as you do, not as you say.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, "Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking."

What else do they see and learn when we think they aren't looking?

For me, the first one would be not such a good thing: When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned to snap a reply before peppering my words with patience and love.

But it follows quickly with: When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned to apologize when I treated someone poorly.

What would you add to this "Watch" list?


Monday, September 25, 2006

What My Daughter Says

About three weeks ago, Susanne tagged me for this meme. Well, not me per se, but for my daughter. I finally had a chance to ask her the questions. She was excited to do something on my blog. Now for a rare interview with Shalee's girl, age 10.
  1. Something I do well: Drawing, but not animals.

  2. Something I'd like to improve on: Science. I love it, but I want to do better.

  3. My favorite food: It would be easier to say what I don't like (because I like almost everything, except cold pasta.)

  4. Three words that best describe me: generous, loving and creative

  5. My happiest moment: When my brother was born. Now? (Here she looked at me with a straight face and slowly sliced her hand in the air.) Not so much.

  6. The most important thing in my life now: Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.

  7. Then to the moms: Where you surprised by any of the answers? The only one that really surprised me was #5. Never in a million years would I imagine that she would pick that out of all the happy times she has had. And to be honest, my heart melted to a gooey consistency with that answer. Now the back end of her question made me laugh out loud. And as to #6, I was hoping that she would pick it, but I didn't encourage her in that area. I just sat there and waited for to her to decide. My heart and face smiled when she looked up after writing her answer.
Now I need to tag a few others, so I touch PasterMac's Ann's sweetanlo, Susan the lurker's daughter (email it to me and I'll post if you want to do that), Lori's Lainee, my sister-in-law's (who is really like my sister) second daughter (again I'll post it if you want it on the blog) and Jeana's Dawson. There is no telling what that boy will say, but it will probably be hilarious...

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Truth In Advertising...

Disclaimer: Mr. Right (ever the worry wart) wants me to emphasize greatly that abstinance and that you should NOT have sex prior to being married.

Is that clear now? Okay, with that said, this is just stinkin' funny!

Additional disclaimer: I left this in the comment section when a couple of readers thought that the commercial seemed anti-children. I just wanted everyone to know that that was not the intended point: Please don't read into this commercial as my saying that kids should not be. I know that they are gifts to be cherished, loved and protected. They aren't to be avoided, but it is best to have them when you are ready - that is when you are married and there are two of you to raise the child to be a blessing to you and others.

The sad thing about the commercial is that while the child has his fit, the father does nothing to stop or to modify the uncontrolled fury of the child. He was not ready to be a parent. The sad thing is that it is the child who will suffer the most in the end.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not So Big Of A Challenge (for me)

I've had a couple of people ask why I, avid reader extraordinaire - okay, so I'm not so extraordinary, but I am the avid reader - haven't participated in the Fall Into Reading Challenge from Katrina. I thought the intent of it was to encourage those who are not reading to begin reading now. Since I read while waiting for a light to turn green, I didn't think it applied to me.

But Susanne corrected my way of thinking (in this matter anyway) and talked me into participating. (I think she just wants to know what is on my list, to be honest. What a nosy friend!) It really won't take any more of my time since it is something I would normally do anyway. Only now I am pre-planning my books rather than grabbing and going.

So here's my list that I will complete between now (Sept. 21st) until December 21st. Lord willing.
  • March : a novel by Brooks, Geraldine
  • A Dirty Job : a novel by Moore, Christopher
  • Affinity by Waters, Sarah
  • The Doctor's Daughter : a novel by Wolitzer, Hilma
  • The Tale of Despereaux : being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread by DiCamillo, Kate
  • Broken for You by Kallos, Stephanie
  • The Bookwoman's Last Fling : a Cliff Janeway novel by Dunning, John
  • Say Good Night To Insomnia by Jacobs, Gregg D
  • A Light In The Window by Karon, Jan
  • Captivating by Eldredge, John and Stasi
  • Financial Peace University by Ramsey, Dave
  • A Rift in Time by Phillips, Michael
  • Sheet Music by Leman, Kevin
  • the rest of the Narnia Series (I've read the first 2)
  • the remainder of the Bible - from Galatians on.

And if I run out of books before the 21st, then I would to re-read the Anne of Green Gables series. They are delightful! Plus there is always the chance that I find something new to add to the collection.

Mind you, all of these are contingient on whether or not I can get them from the library. I won't be reading these in order, but if I can get them, I'll read them.

So join us; tell us what is on your night stand just waiting to be read. I just might put that on my list too...


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Scanner Saga Continues...

Do you remember when I submitted this ticket for my scanner?

And I received
this reaction from the our head IT support?

When he was in our office this week, we discovered that the scanner will work for me but not my coworker. When she said she would submit the ticket, the IT guy stopped her and said, "No, no, no. I want Shalee to submit it. I can't wait to get a call from my boss to tell me about it."

Who could refuse that kind of request? But now, oh! The pressure! I find it harder to be witty when someone expects it of me.

So here is what I submitted.

Although the scanner has been put on hormone therapy and has been responding well to its treatment, it has suddenly developed an attitude of snobbery quicker than a New York socialite who is asked to wear anything from Wal-Mart. The scanner has taken a liking to me, but continually chooses to disregard Leisa's attempt to conjole it into work. I have seen it turn its back on her and ignore her repeatedly, despite her kind requests to submission. Now, I can understand why it would like me more, but its partiality is doing nothing to foster sisterly kindness and team building in the office.

Please send a conselor here to change the scanner's favortism and to establish peace in this office once again. Truly, I cannot take Leisa's tears any longer. They're down right depressing.

What can I say? Deep down, okay WAY deep down, I'm a people-pleaser. Sometimes.

And yes - Leisa laughed.

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What's In A Name?

Chilihead posted this great little quiz, so I thought I would try it too. I mean how hard should it be to define me?

Shalee --

A person who has the ability to be invisible

'How" will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Ummm... No.

Shalee --


A hermit living in the big city

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

I don't think I fit the hermit role...

Shalee --


A beat poet working the streets

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

I think it forgot the fact that I'M NOT VERY CREATIVE!

Shalee --


A deadly strain of projectiile vomit

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

No, that would be applicable to my daughter when she was a babe.

Shalee --


A person who likes to steal tins of tuna

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Steal the limelight maybe, but tuna cans?

Shalee --


A poltergeist sent back in time to change the course of history forever

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Now we're talking!

Shalee --


Similar to butter in texture and appearance

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

No comment.

Shalee --


A lewd street performer

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

I think it's getting closer to the "real" me.

Shalee --


Tastes like fried chicken

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

How did they determine that?! I know I'm good, but not that good...

Shalee --


Benevolent to a fault

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Finally... The description that fits me to the "T".

I knew they'd get it right eventually.


WFMW - Hanging Pants

I have to confess, yet again. I didn't come up with this tip. A friend who wishes to remain anonymous sent it to me and said I could claim it as my own. I figure I'll just give her anonymous glory and save myself the trouble of rewriting it.

I'm either a great task manager or entirely lazy. You choose.

You know those little plastic baby hangers that you buy at Walmart for $1 for 10 or something like that (cheap!)?? I've ripped off all of my son's and I use them to hang my pants in my closet. They are perfect for long pants and they hang oh so neat and tidy in the closet. (Further, I group all my jeans, black pants, khaki, white, etc. pants together with makes it more organized and look nicer.) If you hang your pants on the regular sized adult hangers they tip and get all messy.

Aside: I also hang all my shirts by color together too. Looks just like a store. A cheap tacky store, but a store nonetheless.

My goal is to rid the world of wire hangers and then I'll work on hunger and world peace.

My reply: Please send me a picture of it. Maybe I can fool the others into thinking that I have style...

Good luck on the world peace. I can't even keep peace in my house for one night. The hunger I've got covered (she says as she eats her dark chocolate kisses.)


Monday, September 18, 2006

When I Think That No One Notices

I don't know about you, but sometimes I wonder if my posts ever matter. I know it is a great to share with others and to have some communication time and to learn more about the uses of vinegar, but in the whole scheme of things, does it matter to anyone at all?

We comment and communicate, agree and disagree, roll our eyes and cheer. But do any of my words really cut deep or touch the heart of another soul in this blogging world?

And just as I ponder this quandry, God answers an emphatic yes. If I were to quit posting today, I would say that it served its purpose. And I would be completely satisfied, especially as I recall a very special email from an unknown woman halfway around the world. How often do you get to hear that what you said meant something - I mean really meant something - to another soul?

I do believe that we ought to say thanks to those who are brave enough, committed enough and valiant enough to protect us from the force of others and to ensure our daily freedoms. It is a duty and an honor that should never be taken for granted. Back in July, I paid tribute to two of our fallen heros - Private 1st Class Brian J. Bradbury and Staff Sgt. Heathe N. Craig, each who perished in the same instant in Afghanistan. Imagine my surprise when I received word from Judy Craig, the wife of Heathe Craig, thanking me for remembering her husband.

Thank you sooo much for this post. My name is Judith and I am SSG Heathe Craig's wife. I stumbled over your page today and I am happy to find pages like yours, to show my children when they get older. So they can see what a great guy their Dad was. Thank you for that! Judy

I have to tell you - I had tears in my eyes about that small remark. What got me was the part about her children. It really brought it home as to what all of them will be missing as the years roll by.

I responded to her email and asked her if she could give us a clearer picture of who Heathe was, what made him tick, what kind of person he was to those around him. She, with great enthusiasm, quickly responded and exclaimed that she would love to talk about Heathe. So without further ado, I turn this post over to Judy, the woman who loved the man behind the hero...

All right here I go.....

Heathe and I met in Vilseck, Germany. He was stationed here. We used to go to the same cafe on the weekends. I knew him for only 3 weeks when he was suppoce to take me out on our first date. It was on the last night before he was to leave for Kosovo for the first time. I drove 1 hour to pick him up from post, and he never showed up. So time passed, and after 6 months, I went back to the cafe and the first thing I saw there was Heathe again. It was his birthday and the day he just arrived back after the deployment. June 11th, 2000. After that we where inseparable...

We got married on June 15th 2001. It was one of the best days that had ever happened to me. Not just because I got married, but also I was pregnant with our first son, Jonas. I am German, so we had a German-American wedding. It was wonderful. I could have never pictured our day better than that.

On December 5th 2001, Jonas was born. That's when Heathe decided he didn't want to be an Infantry Medic anymore. All he ever got to do was deploy and not really help patients. So he signed up for a three-month class two hours away from where we lived, and he was selected two weeks after Jonas was born. So he went to Wuerzburg for three months. He learned how to give birth, how to do casts and a whole lot of other things.

Shortly after he got back, he got deployed to Kosovo again. After that, we got stationed in Ft. Leavenworth, KS. He thought it might be better and safer now, because he got to work in the USDB (Prison). He was never so unhappy. All he got to do was sit in an Aid Station and give shots. That's when he decided he wanted to get back out there and help fellow soldiers.

So he signed up for Flight Medic school. They took him right in. So he went to school, and after a couple of weeks of training, he passed the class. That's when we got back to Germany. He really liked working with the 159th Med EVAC. He would sign up for training flights, just so he could fly. He really loved the job. He had to go away for weeks at a time, but he was really happy.

We got pregnant with Leona our daughter one year before he had to leave for Afghanistan. I have never seen him so scared (about having a girl). It was cute. All the patients he's seen and all the places he's been, he was never as scared as having a little Baby Girl. So on July 2nd, 2006, Leona was born.

Leona was 7 month old when Heathe left for Afghanistan. It was February 4th 2006 - the hardest day for all of us, especially Jonas. He was sooo sad. When Heathe got to Afghanistan, we stayed in touch via phone, emails and web cam. It was working okay. The kids got to see him, and I think that made it a little easier.

Heathe told me how he liked working with all the pilots, and then on the side, he mentioned how he put in the paperwork to become a warrant officer. He could never get enough, always wanted to do bigger things. That's what made him who he was....

The day before he passed, he was playing peek-a-boo with the kids on the webcam. They had so much fun. I talked to him one more time the afternoon of the day he died, and that was the last time we've ever heard of him again.

Heathe was the best dad I could have pictured for my kids. The day he got released from the hospital (because he had to have back surgery), the first thing he wanted to do -against doctors advice ;-) - was wrestle with Jonas. He used to wrestle at high school and was always looking around for options where he could wrestle again. There were many times he wrestled his colleagues or even his boss. I hate to sound arrogant, but Heathe always won.

He never left out a chance to play football, soccer, baseball, to wrestle, to run, to excersice or to clean his car. As I think back mowing the lawn, washing his car and his kids must have been the most important things to him.

He left nothing but great memories. Even when he died, he made that special too. Some people might think that's wrong to say, but Heathe couldn't have died a more appropriate way than doing what he loved - being a Medic!

I am happy to have been his wife and to have two gorgeous kids with him... Thank you, Heathe!!!

(Hey Shalee,

I hope that this is what you've been hoping for. I tried to keep it as short as possible, but there is soooo much I want to tell about him. It almost feels like its never enough.)

So tell me what you think......

Judy, from your words it's evident that you loved Heathe and respected him for the man he was. All I can say is thank you for sharing the side of Heathe that we could never know, for letting us see the man inside the uniform. And I'm sure that you're right. There will probably not be enough chances/times to tell what Heathe meant to you, nor will there be enough thanks for his service and efforts for freedom.


Bright Spot in the Black Hole Called Laundry

In July I did a review on the Clorox Anywhere! Sanitizing Spray. Imagine my surprise when I received another request from Clorox, asking if I would review their new Clorox Ultimate Care Bleach. I felt quite honored that they would ask me to do it again.

All I can say is that I LOVE this stuff!

One of my most despised chores is doing the whites. Oh, I cannot tell you the number of shirts that are spotted due to the splashing of bleach into the bleach dispenser! I always managed to get bleach on me somehow, even when I think that I've foiled the bleach demons.

But with this new product from Clorox, I don't have to worry about it anymore. Thank you, God! I really mean that; this product is heavenly.

This new bleach is wonderful in so many ways. Not only is it thick, so I don't have to deal with any splashing, it is gentle enough to put directly into the wash. I just fill the lid and pour it into the tub. No dispenser needed. No measuring cup dirtied. No worrying about getting it directly on the clothes because it is gentle enough to pretreat directly onto a stain. It's laundry paradise as far as I'm concerned...

And it works wonders. I've had some stubborn stains that I could not remove, but one pre-treatment took the stains away. One was a rust stain and one was just an old food stain; they both came out in one wash. Plus, the entire load of whites looked brighter. All this, and I used less than I would if I used regular bleach.

I haven't even mentioned that this bleach smells really good nor that it doesn't harden the whites. I didn't put a fabric softner sheet and the clothes still came out soft and fresh. I've tried it several times with the same results.

Clorox Ultimate Care is easy to use. Just add it into the wash with your detergent, using its premarked 6 oz line on the lid and let it do its thing. It really is that simple.

So I am looking at the benefits here:
  • using less bleach
  • not needing fabric softner
  • saving stained whites
  • not replacing ruined shirts
  • finding a way to do a chore so that I don't mind to do as much
I love this product, and not because it was a free sample. Even if Clorox Ultimate Care costs a little more, it will definitely be a product is on my "necessary" cleaning supply list.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask or you can check out Clorox and check it out for yourself.

Me? I'm giving it two very white thumbs up!


Friday, September 15, 2006

The Day My World Turned (Mr.) Right

Barb at A Chelsea Morning asked, but she may be sorry she did after reading my blovel. How I met Mr. Right is a bit of a novel, not because it's all that glamorous, but because I can't seem to tell it without adding all these details, but I'll try to do so here, but please don't hold me to it.

It was my sophomore year of college and I was at a Harding University, a Christian school in Arkansas. I was recovering from a sharp break-up with a guy that I could see being "the one", but he wanted to date another girl while he was dating me. I, having enough confidence in myself to not put up with that kind of nonsense, told him no and moved on, albeit heartbroken. But I didn't wait around for the guy to realize what a stupid mistake he just made.

But if you know anything about me by now, you can't keep me down for long. I ached, but I chose to live my life without looking back.

One spring day, I finally decided to play hooky from school with my friends. We went to Heber Springs to picnic and to play. While we were hitting the softball, I totally biffed a catch and wound up hurting my hand. Although it smarted, I didn't do anything about it until later that night. By that time, I thought that I had done more than bruise it, but I didn't want anyone to find out about it because I did it while skipping school. But since I didn't have a car, I had to go to a friend who did so she could take me to the ER. I went to Karen's room with strict instructions to NOT tell anyone, and as we were walking out the lobby, Karen yelled out to our friend Janie what we were doing and why we were going in the first place. And it just so happened that Mr. Right was talking with Janie at the time. I was so mad at Karen, but I yanked her out the door and headed to the ER. How embarrassing for everyone in the lobby to know that I was such a klutzy dork.

(Now, mind you, I didn't know Mr. Right very well at the time. What I did know about was that Janie really liked Mr. Right, a fellow art major and that he was very handsome. And that if Janie liked him, he had to be a nice guy. I also didn't know that Mr. Right didn't like Janie except as a friend. And that the first time he saw me, he turned to his friend who just happened to be the "big man on campus" who knew everybody and asked "Who is that?" Darren said, "I don't know, but I'll find out." Ever since then, Mr. Right had wanted to date me, but knowing that I was going out with someone else, (Darren was very thorough with his investigation), he never approached me.

He had talked with me a few times and once, at a club event, there was a time when I was on a team for a lip synching contest and a couple of us ran out into the audience and grabbed a guy with whom we danced. I picked Mr. Right out of everyone. I remember that... vaguely. Well, I remember dancing with someone, just not him exactly.

But God in His funny way, got word to Mr. Right that I was available - actually Mr. Right was standing in line at the student center when the guy in front of him turned around and said out of the blue, "Did you know that Shalee and ___ aren't dating anymore?" Now, you have to understand that Mr. Right hates gossip. But this time he totally perked up and said, "Really?" And he started looking for a way to ask me out since that news. )

Back to the story~

When I arrived at the ER, they put me in a back room by myself. After 40 minutes, no one had been in to see me. This struck me as funny, and I kept thinking, "Poor Karen. She has to sit out in the waiting room by herself." So I did what anyone who was bored would should do. I went to visit my friend in the waiting room. Imagine my surprise when I walk out and see Mr. Right sitting with Karen just talking away. I thought, "Isn't that nice that he would come and keep company Karen. What a nice guy." (Ummm, did I ever tell you that I'm not the first to figure things out?)

I started talking and cutting up, mainly because my hand hurt. Nothing like a little humor to take the pain away. Eventually the doctor came to find me and took me back (bruised wrist). When I made my way out to the lobby and he was still there with Karen. I thought, "They must be good friends." We walked out to the cars and said our goodbyes, and I thought nothing of anything.

The next day, I received a card in the mail from Mr. Right, telling me that he hoped that my wrist was better and that he was praying about it for me. I thought that he was nice to think of me and went on my merry way to class. (No. I'm not as bright as you think I am. Don't comment on that last sentence, please.) When I got back from chorus, I had a few minutes to change and go to work in the student center. My roommate told me that Mr. Right had called to see if I would like to go eat lunch with him. I, again, thought "How nice that he would ask. He doesn't even know me." I instructed her that if he called back, tell him thanks, but I had to run to work.

She did.

Later at work, I noticed that for some reason it was dead, which was really weird because when it rained at school, everyone ended up there playing spades or chatting. I asked my manager if I could leave early since they clearly didn't need me. She said for me to fill up the condiment area and then I could go. So I went out to do the mindless job, and I started thinking about how nice it was that Mr. Right had inquired about me and asked me to lunch. Suddenly I turned my head and there was Mr. Right sitting in a booth, smiling at me. I broke out in to a grin and said, "I was just thinking about you."

He brightened up and said, "Really?" (I don't think I've seen a brighter smile... ever.)

I told him that I thought it was sweet that he invited me to lunch. I also told him that I was about to get off work since no one but he was at the student center. He invited me to talk with him for a while. So I did. We talked easily and readily. Eventually some others came and joined us, and being the social butterfly that I was, I didn't mind. Later, I noticed a downpour and remarked that it was a perfect day to play in the rain. So I got up to do it. Mr. Right was the only one to join me. We were getting soaked and laughing. With his one foot he completely drenched me. I just took off my shoes and filled them from the puddles and tossed them at him.

I asked for the time, and he indicated that it was 5 PM. All the sudden I said, "I've got to go. I've got a date!" (It was a church date for Wednesday night. Someone had asked me to his club banquet, and I was getting to know him better.) Mr. Right asked to take me to my dorm and I said no because I didn't want to mess up his car. (You do remember that I said I wasn't too bright when it came to a guy liking me, right?) Mr. Right, ever so persistent, asked to take me to lunch the next day. I said sure, and then I ran back to the dorm, feeling all happy about the fun time we had and quickly readied myself for the evening.

We ate at Pizza Inn the next day. We talked a lot, but then I had to go to class. It was a great time, but again, I didn't think anything about it.

That Friday was such a gorgeous day that tons of people brought blankets out on the lawn to bask in the lawn, "studying" with good friends. Of course I was one of those people. Some of my friends joined me, one of which was a guy from my hometown. I looked up to see Mr. Right walking into the Library, so I ran into the building, thinking it would be nice for him to join us. When I finally found him at a computer, I told him that I was searching all over for him. I took him to the window and said, "Do you see that guy on the blanket by that tree? That's my blanket. Come join us there." I noticed his face fell a tiny bit. Then it struck me that Mr. Right liked me. I quickly followed with, "He's just a friend from my town. You'll like him." (Smooth, aren't I?) He joined us and all the others who were goofing off that day. Mr. Right asked if I would like to eat dinner with him and I said yes. Then my friend Cheri asked to come along.

How do you get rid of a third wheel? I didn't know how. Both Mr. Right and I said sure. We had a great time, despite there being one too many of us. When Mr. Right dropped us off at the dorm, he asked if he could call on me later that night. First he needed to go take a nap. (On a Friday night. Who does that?) I said I'd be waiting for the call later, even if he was an old man who couldn't stay awake past 7 PM. He smiled and took off.

When he picked me up and we walked around for a while and then we went to the cliffs. It was there that he told me that he thought we should go on a date-date.

And then I laughed.

And he did not.

I rapidly asked if he saw the comedian who was on campus last week who said that girls always change the meaning of things by repeating the word. Like: Do you like him or do you like-like him? or Did you kiss him or kiss-kiss him or Was it a date or a date-date? I'm pretty sure it was said in one breath.

He stared at me. I took it as a no. I apologized to him for my laughter and suddenly realized and related to him that I couldn't date him for I remembered that Janie liked him... a lot.

He calmly replied that he did not feel that way towards her, and he had told her so. He wanted just to be friends. I said that I'd still have to talk with her about it because she was a friend and you just don't treat friends badly. He understood what I was saying, but he didn't agree. He asked that he still be able to spend time with me the next couple of days and I could talk to Janie when she returned back to town on Sunday. Of course I said yes. I liked him. We spent the weekend playing, picnicing and reading together; all the while I was praying that Janie wouldn't be too mad at me. I knew by then that I needed to talk to her - and soon.

When I talked with her on Monday, she was hurt, but she said that she would not let it come between us. She said, "My saying no wouldn't make him like me more." (That is a good friend, I'm telling you.) She cried but gave her blessing which I needed.

I told Mr. Right that I would go on a date-date with him. It occured the next night, which happened to be $1 night at the movie theatre. (We watched Silence of the Lamb.) There was also this uncomfortable moment when break-up guy tried to figure out why I was out and about and enjoying myself, giving great indications that he wanted to retract his earlier decision. I think he thought I should have waited for him to "make up his mind." I smiled and asked how he was doing and then wished him a good evening with his date. (Oh, wasn't I all nicey nice? I did have an opportunity to talk with him later, but that's another story all together.)

Mr. Right and I left the theatre and wanted to talk, so we pulled into the BRIGHTLY LIT church parking lot. We didn't want to go to any of the "parking" places and I only had a few minutes until curfew. There we had our first kiss. It was wonderful and perfect and breathtaking. It left me speechless. (I'm serious! Quit laughing!)

As he dropped me off at the dorm, he said, "Well, when you know, you know." He smiled and took off.

Which stopped me dead in my tracks. Know what? What did he know? I don't know so how could he know anything? What exactly did that man mean? What kind of guy says that as he's leaving? He must be demented to make such a comment. It's a first date for goodness sake! I went into the dorm telling my suitemate Dawn that I was not going out with him again.

The next day I received a card from him that began and ended with the words, "I met one of God's creations today." All the words inbetween were about me. I really loved the card, but how do you go out with someone who makes such odd statements? I showed it to Dawn and she said, "Shalee, if you don't go out with him, I will!" She knew just what to say because, even though I knew she was teasing, I turned slightly jealous and said, "No one is going out with him but me!"

And that's just what I did. I may not be quick on the uptake, but I'll get there eventually.

We were engaged in 10 months and married in July 1992, 15 months after our first kiss. I'd love to say that we've had the storybook "happily ever after", but we've had our ups and downs, our ins and outs, our tugs and pulls. That will happen when two opposites marry, by the way. But I will tell you that I would not miss this marriage for anything or anyone in the world. He has always been Mr. Right-for-me, even during the times that I thought he wasn't. And there were a few, I'm sorry to say. I don't think so now. I've matured and seen his true worth since then.

God most certainly knew what He was doing when He made brought our hearts together. And with that, we have our version of happily ever after that I would not alter a bit.

Taken last spring BEFORE Mr. Right turned 40. Isn't he a handsome man! (Not that he isn't now. Oh, you know what I mean.)


It's Here! It's Finally Here!

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Yesterday, we did the insane.

As you may know from Addie's post, Chick-fil-A is finally in town with a free-standing restaurant. Well, not in a part of town that is extremely close to us, but in my mind, 20 minutes is a whole lot closer than hours. The point is this: IT WAS IN EASY DRIVING DISTANCE!

So when Mr. Right came home from work, we decided to brave the craziness of opening day. Hey. It's Chick-fil-A. Anyone who has had their sandwich will understand this way of thinking. Trust me.

We turn the corner to find that there is a car line that is at least a quarter mile long, plus the parking lot to the stores of the mall that are near Chick-fil-A are full. Mr. Right looked at me and stated, "I told you it would be mayhem." Fortunately, he gets the Chick-fil-A thing with me. After waiting 15 minutes without moving much, I give up and figure that we'll have to hit Chick-fil-A when it's not so busy. As if there is ever a time like that... Whenever I've been to one, it's always busy.

We tried to eat a Johnny Carino's but we realized that we didn't have our gift card with us. So we decided on Taco Bell, which happened to be beside Chick-fil-A. At least we could look at the restaurant and smell the good aromas from it.

Did I tell you that a car line was wrapped around Chick-fil-A? Oh, and it was blocking off the entrance to any other business around it. Yeah, we're that serious about it here. Fortunately, after some time, a nice person let us cross into the TB parking lot, and when we pulled around, we noticed that the two businesses had conjoining parking lots, and the parking lot around Chick-fil-A was practically empty. Most of the people in the car line were going through the drive thru, so being the finicky food people we are with the desire for their delicious breaded chicken sandwich and knowing a good thing when we see it, we drove straight through to Chick-fil-A, parked the car and stood in line for about 20 minutes to get some of their yummy food.

And here is the good part. Our kids were so with us on this deal, they didn't complain one bit. They stood and joked with us, wore the hats they gave out and asked to go play in the play place. Of course, we said yes and wound up wearing the hats. We made our way to the counters with a festive mood around us. The customers were friendly and the employees were helpful and very talkative. Whenever we commented about how happy we were that there was a restaurant finally here, they would rejoice with us and then talked about the others that were coming to town too. (Addie, did you know that they are building a Chick-fil-A around the Ward Parkway mall and a Chick-fil-A near 135th and Metcalf? Praise God and pass the waffle fries!)

One thing that we noticed was that they brought in a "Grand Opening" team from Chick-fil-As all over. Mostly we saw team members from Texas, but there were others too. And they worked well with tthose who were hired from our area, teaching them how to do things right. Even though it seemed like mass chaos, it was organized chaos done with a smile and great customer service. And they were helpful with refilling drinks and cleaning up quickly and making it enjoyable for everyone.

We placed our orders, and the manager there turned and said with a big smile, "Thanks for getting into the spirit of things."

I turned to Mr. Right and saw that he had a hat on his head and then remembered that I had one on too. I just quipped, "Anything for Chick-fil-A!" That brought a small shout out for us. We got our food and even found a free booth in the middle of the eating area. The kids had a blast, we had our fix (for the moment) and the festivities of the evening stayed with us all the way home.

(I know that the big question around here is whether or not this Chick-fil-A would have sweet tea. I can calm your fears and tell you that YES! They had sweet tea! How do I know? They accidently gave my daughter sweet tea. You should have seen her face when she took that first drink! But they quickly remedied it and again with a "It's my pleasure" attitude. I think everyone will be most satisfied with this Chick-fil-A!)


Roasted Garlic and Bean Dip

I dedicate this post to GiBee, a fellow garlic lover extraordinaire. She asked for the recipe from yesterday's post. (But you all can try it, too, if it sounds like something you would like.)

  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 1 16 oz can of navy beans
  • 2 Tsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bread/breadsticks

Wrap the garlic in an aluminum envelope and put in oven to roast, about 30 minutes. Garlic should be soft when done. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut bottom off bulbs and squeeze all the garlic into a bowl.

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with bread(sticks).

Can be made up 2 days before event.

Sometimes easiest is the best.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pasta, Passions and Pistols

First of all, I want to personally thank everyone who wished Mr. Right a happy birthday. He was so surprised and he definitely felt the blog love. And you all helped it reach 40 comments… well, you and Susanne’s family and pets. That’s an all time high for this little diner, thank you very much. I’m just thrilled it was for him.

Now I know you’re all dying to know how he celebrated his 40th year. Well, Susanne asked. I'm just going to assume the rest of you want to know too.

Mr. Right... still all right with the surprise.

To start: my boss let me scoot out of work a little early so that I could prepare for the surprise shindig that was coming Mr. Right’s way. I was able to do a lot in those few hours, without giving anything away before hand. I did the last minute shopping, baked some phyllo dough cups, apple pie with which to fill them, made some boss roasted garlic and bean dip, prepare the setting and got myself decked out too. Did you know that you can get a ton of stuff done if no one is there to disturb you? You did? Well, I forgot, but it was great to have the reminder.

Around 6 PM, Mr. Right walked into the house from work, noticed me right away and said, “Hey, you look really nice. What’s going on?” The confusion came from the fact that although I was dressed to the nines (for me anyway), I was obviously cooking. (I had on the apron and had a spoon in my hand and we were staying in. Normally dressed up means going out.)

This man does NOT look 40!

I'd love him even if he did!

I gave him a great kiss, started to speak to him in my limited amount of French that I could remember from high school and then escorted him to the dining room. There displayed was our china and goblets (you know how often those get used…), candles, flowers and the booklets for each character for a murder mystery party. His eyes lit up when I told him that he had about 15 minutes to look French because others would be joining us soon. He looked like a kid at Christmas who just got his greatest wish. He dashed upstairs to “look his part,” saying, “Don’t tell me who’s coming… I want it to be a surprise!”

Let the accusing begin!

(For the record, I chose an Italian-themed murder mystery game which featured Italian food, especially since it was set in a family-owned Italian restaurant in New York City. The box for the party came with all sorts of meal suggestions and recipes if you wanted the fancy dinner, character booklets, scripts and clues. It was easy to prepare this night of fun.)

The other guests began to arrive. Todd and Jenni made it first, and they brought along the most fabuloso tomato and mozzarella dish that he soaked in balsamic vinegar and served with bruschetta and a great Shiraz. Deee-vinah, I tella you.

The master of the side dish

Susan walked in soon after and brought her famous “Store-Bought Garlic Caesar Salad Kits.” (It’s her signature dish that I hope she never forgets.)

Susan being Mama

John came bearing a bottle of Chianti. The boy knows how to pick a great wine!

Don't ask. Please.
I'm not sure I know myself.

And not too much later, Jeremy and Lisa brought bread, drinks and their sweet newborn, Miah. (She was a doll throughout the meal!)

The menu for that night was as such:

Tomato and mozzarella with bruschetta
Caesar salad
Roasted garlic and bean dip
Olive oil with balsamic vinegar and dried roasted garlic
Homemade Spaghetti with angel hair pasta
Apple Teasers
Walnut Brownies
Wine, Tea, Soda and Coffee

We sat down to start the script and the dinner. It was so much fun! Some were “talkina Etalian”, fingers were pointed here and there,

You do the dishes!

No you! It's my birthday!

voices were raised and parts were played. All the while we were laughing and enjoying the festiveness of it all. (And the great part is that, unbeknownst to me, each of the character selections was perfect for each of the players. One character was supposed to be pregnant and the one pregnant person played that part. One of the characters was a Frenchman and Mr. Right looked the part very well. One person was the psychic and she looked the part to the “T”. And the priest? Well his wife called it the "interpretive priest" which means that he interpretted it in a much different way than she did, but it was hilarious!)

The priest... I think.

The priest and his psychic... I don't think she forsaw this get up!

She did forsee the laughs...

By the time coffee and dessert were distributed, we were ready to reveal the murderer. And no, I’m not telling because you may actually want to play this some time. It’s best if you don’t know because then it is a lot more exciting for you.

We all celebrated Mr. Right’s birthday, and we all had a lot of enjoyment out of it. Those are the kinds of birthdays are the best to me. Not only will Mr. Right remember it, but we all can savor it in the years to come. Well that and the fact that each of us will be looking forward to when we will do it again… with or without a birthday as an excuse.

So help me! How did that get in there? Ummm, that's not me.
It's photoshopped, I assure you. I'd never do something like that...


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Because I'm So Into Blogging...

I asked Kathryn, to flip me the bird.

And she, being the nice woman that she is, sent me the bird tattoo. She may actually have wanted to flip me "the bird", but her hands were probably full with Laylee and Magoo. Yeah, I'm going with the nice one. I think it will actually fly.

As you can tell, I'm one of those "closet tattoo" people. I like to keep mine hidden, only to reveal it when the tattoo will have the most impact. I'm all about surprises, baby. I'm not even going to tell you about the one I've got on my... Ahhh, nevermind.

So in case you were wondering how committed I am to this blogging deal, now you know. I'm in it for the long haul.
Or at least until it comes off.
Watch over at the Canadian Daredevil's place, better known as Daring Young Mom, for some other bloggers who need to be committed are just as committed as I am to this wonderful world of spilling our guts about anything and everything to the blogging world... because we know that you are just dying to know.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On This Day

This day 40 years ago, some memorable things happened.
The Supremes with You Can't Hurry Love topped the Billboards chart.
Ray Charles Show The Scene performed in Milwaukee, WI. Admission was $3.
The Monkees, premiered on NBC, with its first episode entitled "The Royal Flush," which won an Emmy for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy. The show itself also won for Outstanding Comedy Series. (The show only lasted for 58 shows.)
Family Affair premiered on CBS. The first show was titled "Buffy". (It lasted for 138 shows.)
NASA's Gemini XI launched for 71-hour flight. The capsule orbited almost three days with astronauts Charles Conrad and Richard Gordon at the controls. During a spacewalk Gordon strung a 30-meter tether between the Gemini 11 spacecraft and an Agena target vehicle.
The Vietnam war was being waged with a fury. Five hundred US Air Force planes bomb targets in North Vietnamin the heaviest air raid of the war.
In Grenada, MS, "Freedom of Choice" for the court-ordered school desegregation was set to begin. A mob of whites attack and beat several of the Negroes (word from article), scaring half of them from entering school. (Over the following weeks and months, the Grenada County Freedom Movement digs in for the long haul, making Grenada have more Negroes attending formerly white schools than any other rural Mississippi county.)
In baseball, Baltimore Orioles were first in the American League while the Los Angeles Dodgers
topped the National League.
An earthquake of magnitude 6.0 to 6.5 occurred about near Truckee, California.
And in Los Angeles, California God graced the world with my (future) Mr. Right.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Right!!!

I'm so glad that God made you.

Now as a huge request for comments, please leave a little birthday love for this great man. Please leave a message for him. If you're a lurker, just this once leave a birthday comment. I promise I won't come and stalk you later... unless you want that, but you'll have to let me know.
Thanks everyone!


Monday, September 11, 2006

God Moves In Mysterious Ways

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I don’t understand the mind of God. He is able to create the most precious thing: life. He gives us strength to suffer the consequences of our actions or, even harder, the consequences of the actions of others. He allows us to suffer death, sometimes quickly – sometimes long and excruciating. Never was this more present in my mind five years ago, the day our world came crashing down.

That dreadful day did not begin as a horror. I had just dropped my daughter off for kindergarten and was starting to play with my baby boy when the phone rang. Both my parents were on the line. This call, you need to understand, was something that stands out in and of itself. My parents did not live near me and we usually only talked once a month, if that. Not for lack of love or anything; it’s just the way our family has always worked.

When I answered the phone, my dad started talking about something immediately. “How are you doing? What do you think about it? I can’t imagine that being in that accident. How are they going to put it out so high up in the sky? Have you ever seen so much smoke?”

“Dad, what are you talking about?!” was my question as my mind was reeling and coming up with a complete blank. My parents ask strange things sometimes, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out to what my dad was referring.

“Don, she doesn't know…” was my mom’s interjection. “She doesn't have TV. I forgot.”

“Don’t know what?” I asked a little jokingly because in my family I’m the last to figure anything out or hear the news. I would have been the last to figure out that I was prego if it weren’t for all the morning sickness.

“Sha, a plane full of passengers just crashed into the World Trade Center. Everyone on board died and they don’t know how many are hurt or dead inside,” my mom revealed.

“What? Where’s the World Trade Center?” I asked, trying to put it all together. (I never said that historical land marks were my forte.)

“New York City. I can’t believe you haven’t heard about this yet.” Then they explained all that they knew. During the call, my mom exclaimed, “Don, look there’s another one! It’s going to hit again! Oh, it’s going to happen again!”

I signed off quickly, grabbed my son and ran clubhouse to see for myself all the news reports. I arrived to witness the replay of the plane hitting the south tower. These were not accidents. It couldn’t be. This was my first realization that I was witnessing evil firsthand.

Never have I been so confused, angry, struck, astonished and sick. Outraged and full of sorrow for everyone on the planes, in the buildings, on the ground, the families of everyone involved, I rocked and prayed to God for all those people… all those people. I wept bitter tears and tasted bile as I sat and watched the gruesomeness unfold. My son, as he watched with confusion at my sudden emotions, leaned his head over onto my lap and just looked up at me with a smile. I picked him up and held him close, thanking God for the bit of goodness in my lap.

As I watched the people fall from the stories (later to find out that they were jumping with no hope of life), as shots of people covered in fear and sometimes blood were shown fleeing from the buildings, as reports about the Pentagon attack came streaming in, there was a sad note about a crashed plane in the fields of Pennsylvania. This time the reporters hailed the bravery of the passengers since word went out quickly that those on board had called loved ones to say goodbye and to stop the terrorists from causing more chaos and mass destruction. That glimpse of true heroism was just the tip of valor that was about to be displayed.

And then the towers collapsed. Fear was evident as cameras captured the flight of those who made it out alive. Dust and debris exploded, steel bars and cement flew through the air and the realization that thousands of people were still inside brought men to their knees. A silence covered the city and the dust and smoke darkened the sun. It did seem that God was removed from it all.

And then, as the powder cleared and settled, we saw people were streaming away of the wreckage, firemen were making their way to those who needed help. Policemen, EMT’s, common ordinary folks came to the aid others. Men carried men, women carried men. Those left dumbstruck were led through the settling dirt by those who could see more clearly. No separation of religion, race or political views were valued as someone capable lent a hand to someone who needed it. People were suddenly equalized and all that mattered was helping the people around them.

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God was not removed after all. He was stirring the heart of men to join together, whether they were at Ground Zero or in a store 2,000 miles away or sitting on the couch in front of the TV. People started to rally. Blood donations were set up quickly and people waited in line for HOURS without a grumble or complaint. Food banks received donations by the tons. Salvation Army was flooded with calls for contributions so that someone could help SOMEONE involved in this monstrous event. Parents picked up their children, took them home and held them close, telling them that they were so loved… so loved and valued, as I did with my daughter. Churches opened their doors and invited anyone to come in as a place of sanctuary, a place to sit with friends and strangers alike to talk, to pray, to sing, to cry, to find peace in that ugly, chaotic day.

President Bush, after being in office not even a year, was running through the necessary evasion tactics since they thought that part of the plot was to remove him, was briefed and had sifted through reports and had made a most eloquent speech that included the proper reaction to this act of terror: “The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” Later he asked the American people to join him in saying thanks to all the folks who had been fighting hard to rescue our fellow citizens and to join him in saying a prayer for the victims and their families. Later he spoke about how the resolve of our great nation was being tested. “But make no mistake,” President Bush declared. “We will show the world that we will pass this test. God bless.”

And bless us He did. The goodness of humanity was evident to all. Thousands of people toiled night and day for long periods of time for the hope of discovering survivors among the wreckage of any of the wreckage sights. Strangers spoke more kindly one to another. Families became more solid. Congressmen, religious and non-religious alike, who normally bicker and nitpick over the smallest of items, stood on the steps of one of the great institutions and prayed together and sang a prayer too: God Bless America. Together. No one shouted, “Separation of church and state!” “You can’t do that!” “You are stepping on my right to not listen to that!” or any other excuse that you may hear today from a small faction of non-believers. That group of “foes” sang together in unity, in agreement, in the belief that America, all of us, needed God right then and there.

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As the days passed, I noticed a sense of patriotism that I had never really seen before – that I have never seen since. Flags waved proudly on poles, on houses, on cars. Soldiers carried themselves with a sense of proud purpose, and we honored them for their protection and service. We talked about America – the land of the free, the home of the brave, the people who will not cower to any other hand. We sang the old patriotic songs and actually understood the meaning behind the words... and we liked them. The new recordings that came out were a little sweeter. Movies that were horror films tanked. There was too much reality of horror in the aftermath that came.

Years passed; people forgot the time when we all drew together with a common purpose. The bickering on the Hill began again. People pushed the blame on everyone else. Even our newly elected president was painted as the perpetrator and the mastermind behind this horrific event, despite it all being at the hands of another group. Fingers pointed every direction just for the need to have someone to blame because if blame were placed somewhere, everyone was sure to feel better. The suing ensued, with the blame going most erroneously our government. Now everyone had to pay for the lives of those who happen to be in a places that were attacked. Most people have just gotten caught up into the peripherals of life, rather than remembering what we had found five years ago: unity, hope, a sense of comraderie with our fellow man.

I guess this post goes along with my Thursday post. Most of the time we can’t see the big picture; but no matter the situation, the pain, the shock, the confusion, God is God: the I AM who was before the marking of time, He who will be after the end of all ages. He is present in all things good or ugly. Although we may not see His hand, that does not mean that He is not guiding, pulling or carrying us along the way.

I’ll never know the reason that God allowed such a catastrophe to occur. Maybe that is the point. I don’t need to know why; what I need to do is to cling to the truth that He was with us then and He is with us now, still wanting me to rely on Him in any event. And, just as importantly, I need to pass such a life lessons on to my children: to hold onto God through all times of joy or sorrow and to trust that He was, is and always will be.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Back To School Tradition

Crazy Hip Blogging Mommas is at it again with the writing collaboration. This time one of the members asked, “What is your back to school tradition?”

(Side note: Now why is that each time I think "Back to School", I hear the "Back to School" song from Grease 2 running through my head. "I gotta go back, back, back to school agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain. Whooooa -o. I gotta go. Back to schooooooooooooooooooooooooool again." It's not even the song from the original Grease. I'm such a sorry and disturbed woman.)

Well, normally our back to school time consists of much crying, yelling and bribery. But you didn't really want to hear about me and what I do to get the kids to go to bed earlier, did you?

Really, our preparing to head back to school probably isn't that much different from others. We get the supplies (or rather this year Grandma and Grandpa totally lifted that financial burden by doing it with the kids this year - THANK YOU!!!), label everything the old-fashioned way (yep we use the original label maker - our hand and a sharpie) and then we all start to prepare mentally for the torture school days that the kids will endure love. (Seriously, my kids love school still so it really is a joy in their minds to go back to school.)

The mental preparation calls for an earlier bedtime at least a week before school starts (two would be better), getting the kids up at the normal school time and talking about all the things they think they will do over the next year. Old friends are remembered and new ones are imagined. Teachers are discussed and lunch choices are laid before them. Field trips and class activities are supposed and they talk about what they really hope will happen over the year.

Physical preps are just as important. All clothes are measured to see what needs to be given to others, trashed or replaced. Bikes are checked to see if they are in good working order. Snacks are purchased so that after school hungers will be quickly abated. Before and after school activities are scheduled, along with the after school chores.

But my favorite part of the "Back to School" tradition? It's the savoring of those last days before the routine begins again. The long walks. The last trips to the pool. The picnics on the weekend. The last movie before the no TV rule is applied. The bedtime snuggles and the first-day-of-school eve's bath. The last whispers of what the next day will hold before the bedroom doors are closed to be reopened on the first day of school.

Those last few days make the entire week possible. All the what-ifs and what-might-be and the let's-enjoy-what's-left-of-summer mentality. The time of year when the kids get to start anew, a blank page of their future just waiting to be scribbled, sometimes outside the lines.

Well... that and the celebratory toasts of champaing that Mr. Right and I have after the kids go to bed. Oh yes, we all love it when school begins again.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Do You Ever Wonder?

Sometimes I wonder, "What did I do to deserve this?", "Why did God have to do this to me?", "Why would God allow this terrible thing to happen?" or "What shall I do with this unexpected blessing?" Or my favorite: "What good can possibly come from this mess I've made?"

Here is a wonderful explanation to these and other questions you may have about God's choices in our lives.

A daughter is telling her Mother how everything is going wrong: she's failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away.

Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the daughter says, "Absolutely Mom, I love your cake."

"Here, have some cooking oil," her Mother offers.

"Yuck" says her daughter.

"How about a couple raw eggs?"

"Gross, Mom!"

"Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?"

"Mom, those are all yucky!"

To which the mother replies, "Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful."

Too often we are looking at the ingredients instead of the end results.

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?

I don't know about you, but I'm going to hold my thoughts and start holding out for the "cake"... and I know it's going to be topped with something sweeter than the cake itself.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I've noticed over time that several of the WFMW links begin with a "I'm scrambling to find an idea that works for me", "I've thought long and hard about WFMW and I'd drawing a blank" or "I'm tapped out, but let me just look around here because there's got to be something I can share...".

Do you see the struggle going on? Some ladies are fretting over something that is supposed to make life easier. That's not the purpose of this little Wednesday event!

So my suggestion is this: If you are frantically trying to come up with an idea and you are just pulling something out of the air, take the hard road and don't post an idea that week. Just use your time to mill through the suggestions of others and relax. You may be inspired with a humdinger of a tip for the next week.

This also applies to Thursday Thirteens, Photo Fridays, Menu Mondays or any other linky-type posting. There are no hard fast rules that say you MUST post on these things. Sometimes the best thing to do is to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

For some other truly helpful tips, head over to Shannon's and get inspired.


Monday, September 04, 2006

I Can Do All Things Through Christ

Sometimes I forget that. I forget that there is nothing that can beat the power of trusting in Him who overcomes - that if you pray for endurance, for strength, for distraction, God will give you it in abundance, so much so that you may wind up thinking that whatever you prayed to get through was very easier done than said.

I have a confession to make: I gave up coffee for the entire month of August. That's right. The. Entire. Month. And nary a time did I cheat. I did not have one sip, one slip up, one "fudging" moment when I conveniently "forgot" that I wasn't supposed to have any. For 31 days I forewent my daily dose of caffeine addiction, my small amount of "me time", my little "coffee - take me away!" respites, my one true love of life... well right after God, Mr. Right and the kids. (Coffee is actually in a tie with reading, but I think you get what I'm saying.)

The only time I tasted coffee was when Mr. Right pulled me in for a really great kiss before walking out the door for work, and it was a nice shock to my senses to get a bonus with the kiss.


I can hear you crying out from bloggetyville (thanks for the great term, Addie), "For the love of all that is good and right in the world, why, oh why my friend, did you torture yourself and give up such a precious, delicious, essential staple in your life - the liquid that runs through your veins were you to be cut, the lifeline that you cling to each morning to ease you out of bed?"

Well, there's your answer. It was because I held that sweet substance so close to my heart that I gave it back to God. Was it a barrier to my faith? Did I put it before God? No and no. But it was something that I want so deeply that to give it up actually meant something to me.

Typically in the past, our church has held August as the "month of prayer" for all sorts of things: the war, the church family, missions, community outreach, our children, those who are in ill-health, etc. The list is long and worthy of bringing before the Lord. But this time we had an extra request for our Father.

As you know from this post, our church is on the hunt for a new senior minister. Along with prayer, the church elders and ministers asked that we to abstain from something - a thing/time/activity that really means a lot to each of us as individuals - and to pray to our Father about the minister hunt whenever we thought about that thing. Kind of like lent, except we still get meat on Fridays - unless you gave that up, of course.

I truly believe that God will be faithful to my prayers. He will bring the right person to the job, someone who is a man after God's own heart, someone who is blessed with wisdom and knowledge from God, someone who wants to encourage us in our daily walks with God and who wants to continue to promote the view that no person in our area should ever say that he/she did not hear the name of Christ in our community. He will not give us a perfect man to hold this role as senior minister, but God will provide for us a preacher who knows that he is made perfect in the blood of Christ.

How do I know confidently that we will employ such a man with these characters? Because these are the requests I brought before God every time I thought about coffee. As you can probably deduce, these prayers were offered up many times in the course of last month.

And one thing that God reminded to me (again) over the last month is that He will bless you if you honor Him. I can honestly say that He gave me the strength to not suffer from my coffee withdrawal. He blessed me with the confidence that I didn't need that liquid when I have the power of His right hand to hold on to as I walked throught the month coffee-free. He actually guided me in such a way that I forgot that I was on this "fast" and gave me all the energy that I needed.

When I grabbed my coffee this morning, I set it in the cup holder in the car and prayed again about the minister hunt and then praised my heavenly Father for opening my eyes yet again to the goodness of becoming reliant on Him for all things, especially the things that I think I cannot endure. Thankfully, God is greater than my mind can comprehend.

If you feel comfortable enough to share, then share how God has given you the strength to endure. This can be a new post or an old one where you've shared this answer before. Come back and link to it in Mr. Linky so that we can all be encouraged and witness God's glory made real in you. (I've even added another one of my own so that you can see why I said "again" when I was reminded of God's blessings when we honor Him. I'm so embarrassed and frustrated that I let that one fact slip from the forefront of my mind.)