Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Freestyle Haiku

Jenn at You Know . . . That Blog? graciously hosts this haiku meme each Wednesday. If you've forgotten everything you learned in third grade about it, you can still do haiku. Face it, you're probably better at counting syllables now anyway. It's three lines. The first line gets 5 syllables, second line 7 syllables, third line 5 syllables again.  Haiku (that's the plural as well) do not necessarily have to be deep and meaningful. Some are though.

This week, the topic is Freestyle.  I think that means we can write about whatever occurs to us. If, instead, it is referring to a particular kind of skiing or sports activity, I apologize. I'm stickin' with my interpretation. :-)

Empty tomb. Meaning?
Sin equals death no more, but
it's your freewill choice

Random Dozen Easter

If you don't know the drill: copy the questions, write your answers, publish on your blog on Wednesday, and link to Linda at 2nd Cup.  Then visit other players, write nice comments, and celebrate what unites us and marvel at where we're diverse! Thank you again, Linda, for hosting each week. I now know how much work it entails!

1. How do you feel about the marshmallow Easter Peeps?  Ick.
2. Chickens are notoriously nervous creatures. When you are nervous, what is the best way to calm down? Go read a book. If the situation makes that impossible, I just breathe deeply.
3. People say, "April showers bring May flowers." Do you enjoy Spring rains?  I LOVE a good thunderstorm with crashing noises and gorgeous lightning splitting the sky.  The drizzle all day German kind of weather -- not so much.
4. When I was randomly flipping through TV channels this week, I saw a show in which tattoo parlor employees received tattoos of a co-worker's face on their bodies. I can't imagine having a portrait of a colleague tattooed on me. But if someone forced you to receive a portrait tattoo (face only) of anyone, who would it be? Why?  Well, at first I was going to say Jesus, but we don't really know what He looked like . . . so . . . if I HAD to do this, I guess I'd choose Groucho Marx.  At least it would be funny when I got older and saggy.
5. Would you rather have a tattoo (any kind) or a nose ring?  Ick, neither.  But if HAD to have one, the tattoo.
6. Do you have any special plans for Easter?  I'm trying to convince my family that this is the PERFECT year to go to the Easter Sunrise service on the National Mall in DC.  Then we'll come back for our church service.  Then the "FAMILY" is coming over for dinner at 6 when my b-in-law gets off work.  Prayer would be appreciated for this event.
7. Cadbury Eggs or Reese Eggs?  Cadbury
8. What was the last thing/person you took a picture of?  Mini-daffodils.
9. What book are you reading now, or what was the last one?  Just finished: The Color of Water by James McBride (awesome book, highly recommend). Still working on: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Death & The Walking Stick by Linda Berry.  Oh yes, I'm working on an old Gerald Durrell too, The Drunken Forest.  I rarely read just one book at a time!
10. What do you think is the most difficult task when it comes to Spring cleaning? Windows.  Even with my new 'easy clean' windows, it has been a L-O-N-G winter and they're really grubby. I'm missing the power washer (died during the fall).
11. How many pairs of flip-flops do you own? None
12. Which color makes you happiest? Yellow

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Break Cookies

The kids are on break this week.  They seem to think that means I'm available to take them wherever they want to go.  But they also want me to bake cookies.  Hmm...only in the Star Trek universe can I be in two places at once -- and as long as I don't see myself there's a chance I'll remain intact.  At any rate, I do a lot of driving around during school days but all of my activities are on break too so I'm staying!  And I baked cookies.

This is my friend, Karon's, recipe.  I can't use vanilla chips due to nut warnings on the packaging so I bought some non-nut warning white chocolate bark and broke it up.  Oooo--wee! I don't recommend that.  They are way too sweet and it made them less dough-y!  (My teen son loves them though)

Orange Vanilla Cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 - 3 Tbsp fresh finely grated orange peel
1-2 tsp. fresh orange juice
3/4 -1 12-oz package vanilla chips

Combine dry ingredients.  Set aside.  Beat butter, sugars in large mixing bowl.  Add egg, beat well.  Add fresh orange juice and grated orange peel.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in vanilla morsels.  Allow dough to rest and chill in refrigerator for two hours.  Preheat oven to 325 deg.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown around the edges.  Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

NOTE: Be smarter than I am.  FIRST, grate the orange peel off the orange.  THEN squeeze it for the juice. Trust me, it's better in this order!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Microfiction Monday

I love Microfiction Monday!  It shows how writers go all different directions with the same photo.  It's also brief, so we can 'get in and get out' quickly and move on to other things that demand our attention!  Thanks Susan at Stony River, again for hosting!

Remember when we lads guarded this bridge against Jerry?

You didn’t let girls go either.

You wouldn’t give us a kiss.

You were four years old!

Like Susan, I am acutely aware of the passage of time -- especially for the 'greatest generation' -- those who stood up to tyranny and evil.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Old Cassette Tapes

I have an old cassette tape of a farewell concert from a church we attended years ago.  One of the very talented vocalists was a military member and was being reassigned. His was the kind of voice that could turn the most mundane lyrics into chilling reminders of how important the Gospel is.

This morning on the way to the gym I popped the tape in and listened to "He's Alive."  Despite the age of the tape and the quality of the recording, I sat in my car to listen to the finish and found tears rolling down my cheeks.

So I had to come home and find it on YouTube.  Here it is, by the original musician/performer, Don Francisco. Hope it gives you shivers.

Flashback Friday

Linda, at Mocha with Linda, hosts Flashback Friday. This week the theme is Easter.

What was Easter like when you were little? For example, did you receive a basket with toys and candy? Was the Easter Bunny part of your family's celebration? Did your family integrate both secular and spiritual aspects of the day? Did you dye Easter eggs. . . .and did your family eat them afterwards? Did you usually get a new outfit? (Post a picture if you have one!) Does any Easter stand out particularly? You might also share how your Easter today is similar or different to your childhood.

Easter was a big deal when we were little.  My 'fancy' grandmother always sent matching outfits for my older sister and me. 

We received baskets with candy and toys.

We always dyed eggs and were always dismayed that they looked nothing like the packaging!

We went to church where my mom usually sang in the choir.

We often went to my grandparents' house in Arkansas.  I don't remember this but my mom tells the story that when I was about 3 or 4 they pulled up to my grandparents' house and as they rolled into the driveway a rabbit took off across the driveway and yard. I screamed, bouncing up and down, yelling, "there goes the Easter bunny! There goes the Easter bunny!"

So yeah, I guess we did the Easter bunny thing too.

Another Census Question

This is the 1910 Census for Ft. Smith Arkansas. If you biggie the photo you can see the top person is George W. Dexter.  If you look at the last family on this snippet you see Roy Harrison. It shows Roy and his wife Bessie have a son, Frank.  Well, Bessie was George W. Dexter's daughter. Her son Frank was my maternal grandfather -- a wonderful man and a most excellent grandpa who went to heaven in 2000.

It's fascinating to compare the census forms over time -- how the questions reflected what was important to us.  I just looked at our 2010 form.  Does it make sense to ask about marriage anymore? Does the government really care whether people are married any more?

Back to my question from yesterday.  The whole population count = dollars for particular communities issue bugs me. That isn't what the original idea of the census was.  Of course, more densely populated areas have higher representation rates in Congress, and those people can use the power of the purse to benefit their district -- but for a particular ethnic group only?

On the 2010 form in the area indicating "race" there's a place you can put "other" and fill it in.  What if everyone put "American"...would that tell them something about how many of us prefer to be known?

It reminds me of my husband's story about when he first entered the military.  He had to have dog tags. They wanted him to identify his religion for his dog tags.  He said, "Christian."  They said, "no, what denomination?" He said, "Christian." They said, "no, you have to be Catholic or Protestant."  Oh yes, he agreed to be a protest-ant!

I'm really in prayer about this. I don't want it to come across as insensitive ranting. I'm really trying to understand how I perpetuate these attitudes in my own life. I'm open to ideas from you all!

By the way, the Census has a cool map that shows you which counties have the highest compliance in sending in the forms.  If you're the competitive type, you can look at the neighborhood level and find out which neighborhood is more compliant to government directives...or less.  Right now Montana and the Dakotas have the highest mail in rate.  Guess there's nothing much else to do if the snow is still on the ground.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something I don't understand

I've been reading and listening to a lot of stories about the census lately. Most of them focus on the undercount estimates from the 2000 census and the communities that ended up underrepresented.

I know that the census was established in the Constitution of the United States.  I know it was established so that as the population grew, there would be an attempt at proportional representation for states in the House of Representatives.

What I don't understand is why it is so important to count a person's ethnicity. If we can put a bi-racial man in the White House and say we don't care about race, why do we count it on the census forms?  The answer is obviously that huge pots of money are tied to different ethnic communities based on their population. In what way is that color blind?

The Bible says in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  And in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus crossed cultural boundaries by speaking with and extending grace and mercy to a woman who was from a 'corrupted' branch of Judaism. That's exactly what He does for us.

So why do we continue to separate from each other? Money? Power?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Answers

Thank you for everyone who has been so kind about my hosting.  Clearly, Lidna is the queen on this, but I do have a new appreciation for how much she does for us each week! No wonder she gets tired sometimes!  And trust me, this is harder than it appears!

1.  What is your favorite sign of Spring? This past weekend I could hear the kids in the neighborhood laughing and playing outside and I could actually hear the bicycle tires . . . and the dads who were out trying to get the youngest ones up on two wheels.  That was a great sign of spring.

2.  Did you remember to spring forward on March 14?  If not, how did it impact your day?  We did remember, but we were still really tired.

3.  If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what vegetable would you plant in a garden this year? My daughter is going through a colored bell pepper phase, so every color of bell pepper!

4.  If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what fruit would you plant? Mango

5.  What is your least favorite insect? One that is in the house.

6.  March 22 was World Water Day. To celebrate, here are some water questions. Do you drink bottled water? If so, what brand? I only grab bottled water if I've left my water bottle behind. So, then it is whatever is cheapest. At home we have filtered water.

7.  Have you ever been somewhere that it was not safe to drink the local water? If so, how did you handle that? When Hurricane Isabel came through here a couple of years ago we were boiling water for a couple of days just to be on the safe side.  My brother-in-law, the former Marine, has some pills you can add to water to make it safe, but I wonder whether the cure is worse than the pathogens.  My husband took them to Kenya with him though.

8.  How many glasses of water do you drink per day? 3-4

9.  March 24 is the birthday of Harry Houdini.  Have you ever watched a professional magic show? Share.  Yes, we saw Lance Burton in Las Vegas in 1989. He was amazing. 

10.  Have you ever been a participant in a professional magic show (up on stage!)? No.

11. March 24 is also the birthday of Steve McQueen and Clyde Barrow. Do you like Westerns or gangster movies?  If so, what is your favorite?  I like Westerns, but mostly for the music.  We watched Stagecoach as a family recently. I remembered having to watch it as part of a Film Appreciation class in college. It was still good.

12. (Really random)  What U.S. state that you've never visited would you like to visit someday?  

Washington State

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Random Dozen Goes On the Road

I am privileged to have the Random Dozen in my neck of the woods this week. Thank you to Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee for trusting me with her 'baby'. I had twelve brilliant questions ready to post and then my husband asked if he could close my document when he was on the computer and . . . so these are the twelve that I've either remembered, reconstructed, or made up new!

You know the rules -- copy and paste the questions onto your blog. Answer them TOMORROW (WEDNESDAY) on your blog. Link back with Mr. Linky to this blog, and then go visit at least one dozen random players and make nice comments about their answers!  Simple...if you don't have a blog, you can cut and paste your answers into the comments below.

The theme is Spring . . . and any other random questions that crept in.

1.  What is your favorite sign of Spring?

2.  Did you remember to spring forward on March 14?  If not, how did it impact your day?

3.  If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what vegetable would you plant in a garden this year?

4.  If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what fruit would you plant?

5.  What is your least favorite insect?

6.  March 22 was World Water Day. To celebrate, here are some water questions. Do you drink bottled water? If so, what brand?

7.  Have you ever been somewhere that it was not safe to drink the local water? If so, how did you handle that?

8.  How many glasses of water do you drink per day?

9.  March 24 is the birthday of Harry Houdini.  Have you ever watched a professional magic show? Share.

10.  Have you ever been a participant in a professional magic show (up on stage!)?

11. March 24 is also the birthday of Steve McQueen and Clyde Barrow. Do you like Westerns or gangster movies?  If so, what is your favorite?

12. (Really random)  What U.S. state that you've never visited would you like to visit someday?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Sprung

We had the most glorious weather this weekend. I've had the windows open because even with the pollen on the breeze, I'd rather have the breeze!  Achoo and love it!

It was a VERY busy weekend though. Friday evening was our Home Builders meeting. Friday afternoon was also gorgeous so I baked some goodies for that evening. It was a good meeting before we break for Easter.

Saturday morning started very early for Boy Scout Troop 1577 for Mulch Delivery Day.  Dad and son worked from 6:30 am until 7:30 pm (son) 9:00 pm (dad). The girls had a different mission. Mom took daughter to Annandale for her SAT prep course. This Saturday they had a double session so I could leave her until 2:30. So I dashed back to the house, picked up the BBQ in the crockpot for the "Mulch Cafe", dropped it off at the church where the troop meets, and then went to the Library to work the Children's Sale. How odd it is to just work the sale and not purchase anything! I think it means my children have moved to a very different stage in life!  How liberating to be able to just help and not keep any eye out for "treasures" for our own household!

I have noticed something about the booklovers who frequent our sale. They're more than just book-lovers. They're book hoarders! One family was picking up a set of the Chronicles of Narnia books. One of the children told me that with this set they'd have five...I guess you need a set for each kid?

At 2 I left to go get the girl from her class and back to our house. Then I took her to a birthday BBQ for a friend, then back to get her at 5:30. The guys finally straggled in much later.

Sunday was church and then out to Annandale for class for the girls. While she was in the class (since it was only 2 hours this time), I ran to the base commissary and bought food for the week. While we were in that direction, the guys were helping finish returning the trucks and cleaning up from Mulch Day.

We finally sat down as a family for home made spaghetti dinner and everyone enjoyed being back together again.

Awoke this morning to bird song and fresh breezes with a little moisture in them. Rain and a thunderstorm are promised tonight! I'm so glad I'm not out where they've received another 8 inches of snow this weekend!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Opening and Closing

God has such a great sense of humor.

On Tuesday the senior leadership in our Bible Study treated the rest of us to a day of being spoiled. No manicures or pedicures, but breakfast before our leadership session and a lovely luncheon afterwards. After the luncheon we divided into small groups and discussed having a Mary heart in a Martha world. (If you're unfamiliar with this, these were two sisters who were friends of Jesus. Mary's desire was to sit at His feet and learn from Him. Martha's was to make sure she had the hospitality elements under control. Unfortunately, she made the error of mentioning her annoyance with her sister to Jesus. He was not sympathetic to her need to have matching towels and home-made smell good soaps that color coordinated with the towels)

I was still musing over what God was calling me to do to help these people in our church. In our small group time I was frustrated and I expressed it as, "how do you know whether God is calling you to do something or whether it's your own great idea or whether you're just getting sucked in?"  The ladies had helpful comments but I still was not satisfied.

When I got home that afternoon I talked to the lady I'm trying to help and asked how the day was going. She said she was feeling 'accomplished'. This was NOT what I had expected to hear!  I was very encouraged. We confirmed that I would go with her to the doctor's office on Thursday to see what was up. On Wednesday morning she left me a  message saying she'd heard from the doctor that the appointment would be that day, that she knew my Wednesdays were very busy, and that she'd go by herself and be fine.

Okay. So...perhaps God just wanted me to say, "yes, Lord, here I am.  Send me."

I feel like I need one of those signs that says "under construction. God isn't done with me yet." I still need to call her tomorrow to see what's next, but isn't it amazing how God is showing me I am NOT indispensible after all?  It reminds me of the scene in Camelot when Guinevere says to Lancelot, "OOO-MI-LI-TY, or isn't that fashionable in France this year?"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Pat's Day Green

We had a coffee fellowship at Community Bible Study this morning.  I wanted to make something different to take and as I had a little extra time, I made these. This is a recipe from my neighbor. I love everything about it except the name. I think the name is false advertising. I'd love to hear your suggestion for re-naming!

I think the next time I make it I'll use less butter, and I'll add some heat (cayenne).  Otherwise, to quote the teen daughter who just had one, "Oh, YUM!"  Oh - and the St. Pat's touch -- the spinach is GREEN.

Spinach Brownies
·         1 10-ounce package spinach, rinsed and chopped
·         1 onion, chopped fine
·         1 tsp. oil
·        1 cup all-purpose flour
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        1 teaspoon baking powder
·        2 eggs
·        1 cup milk
·        1/2 cup butter, melted
·        1 8-ounce package shredded mozzarella cheese
1.    Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
2.    Place spinach in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook until spinach is limp, about 3 minutes. Drain, squeeze water out.  Set aside.
3.         Sauté the onions in the tsp oil – just until they’re soft. Set aside.
4.    In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir in eggs, milk, and butter. Mix in spinach, onion, and mozzarella cheese. Mix thoroughly.
5.    Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before cutting.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Craving Approval

I have to admit I get a warm fuzzy each time one of you comments on what I've written -- just because you cared enough to visit here and do so. I so appreciate every comment and the supportive ones REALLY feed my ego!

Alas, time is becoming shorter these days. No, it's not due to Daylight Savings Time (although that did wreck a perfectly good hot-rod dream this morning). But I'm going on a sabbatical from the memes and web-crawling.

I have the privilege of helping some friends who are really going through a rough time. It doesn't look to be temporary, and it doesn't look to be an easy fix-em-up and off they go. I think the time investment is going to be a big one. But I do feel this is a special gift the Lord is giving me to help in any way that I can, so rather than lament that I won't have the time/energy to continue engaging in the memes I've come to love, I'll just say, I'll see you when I can see you, and I'll understand if you spend your time elsewhere!

Here are some absolutes though:

Susan, when you land at Dulles this summer, I simply MUST see you. So I'll be checking in to monitor your trip plans.

Thom, you make me laugh, especially on the days that drain my energy. So I'll be checking in to laugh, even when I don't have any energy to make an intelligent (or otherwise) comment.

Quilly, you make me think and you help me grow, so I'll be by on occasion to see what the Lord is doing in Friday Harbor!

Lidna, you help me see the lighter side of life so I'll stop by occasionally to be YOUR cheerleader.

All of you who have been so gracious, generous, and encouraging, I covet your prayers for this journey.  (Susan, this is a youtube video of Satchmo singing What a Wonderful World. Don't feel bad that you're on dial up.  It would make you cry.)

In the Company of Thomas

The Doubting Tongue is one that comes from our tendency to rely on our own strength rather than the Lord's. If He gives us a task to do, He will also equip us with the resources to do it. Period.

The Doubting Tongue often tears churches apart, especially when they begin a building program or a new outreach. The energy of those who are committed can only carry the project forward for a certain time. If the Lord isn't in it, the project will start to lose its momentum. Then all the 'bad' tongues we've seen during this study will surface, eager to put their spin on what "should have been."

Yesterday our Pastor preached on the passage in Ephesians about the mystery of the Gospel being extended to the Gentiles. The mystery wasn't the extension of the salvation message to the non-Jews. That had been evident from early times. The mystery was that they would be equal heirs to the Kingdom of God. There would be no waiting rooms, inner sanctums or special places reserved for anyone else. We are all equal before God - male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free. So, my thoughts were going, "why on earth do we continue to engage in perpetuating denominations?" I really struggle with this because we attend a church that is a particular denomination, but have not joined, largely because we don't consider ourselves a member of any denomination, but rather Servants of Christ. We have all the privileges of members except that we can't vote at congregation meetings, which is fine with us. It forces us to instead PRAY for the direction the church is going instead of lending our voices to an already abundant chorus.

I do believe in the Truth of the Word of God. When I hear any Christian 'authority' quoted, I go back to what I know to be true.  If it isn't consistent with what the Lord is showing me in the Scriptures, I try to withhold comment, but instead pray. I don't want to doubt the Lord, but I have no problem doubting those who claim to speak for Him.

Lord, I believe it is a mystery as to why you chose me to be one of your servants. Please forgive my flaws, and help me to be your willing, albeit cracked vessel, pouring out your love to others.

Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River  hosts this delightful, short meme. It's simple - use the illustration she provides, and write a story. In 140 characters or fewer (which includes all spaces and punctuation). Post it on your blog, link it to Susan's and visit others to read theirs and comment nicely! Very low time investment and very low cal...Try it!

The Prompt:

Emma fiercely concentrated on the water, listening to a tiny voice from within. “Mum,” she said, “I must go outside.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Accusing and Discouraging

It is difficult to ask "who left the wet towel on the floor?" without it sounding like accusing. Similarly, it is difficult to be encouraging when the child asks "what do you think" about the clean room and you still see all the clothes on the floor where they were before.

So, no, I'm not doing so well on the 30 Days to Taming my Tongue today. I guess I'm supposed to just pick up the wet towel and hang it up and not care who left it, but just be loving enough to pick it up. The only problem with that is when my children leave home, I'm not going with them to pick up their wet towels.

This has been a rough 24 hours of this tongue taming business!  Paraphrasing the apostle Paul, I know what I should be doing, but I keep doing what I'm good at instead!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Shoes

Not me, the daughter. We got to go shopping today. I love that this kid has her own money now...and wants to spend it on her own clothes and shoes. I took her to DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) where she bought two pair of Converse sneakers. I told her that people wore Cons in her grandmother's day for goodness sakes but she insisted. Okay, I don't care. They're better than her wearing flip-flops to school. (I don't allow it. Supposedly it's against the school dress code but I see kids in all grades do so.  Not. My. Kid.)

Other than her almost getting hit by two different people in two different cars in the parking lot, we had a great time. BOTH drivers had the arrogance to glare at HER. So, I hear you wondering, just what was she doing? Only trying to get out (1st time) of the car and then back into (2nd time) the car. They were each so INTENT on screaming into the parking place next to us that any human bodies that might be nearby were completely invisible. Seriously, it wasn't as if she was in the middle of the empty parking space!

Oh well, she's happy with the shoes and I'm happy with the time spent with her.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Kid on the Block

Linda at Mocha with Linda is starting a brand new meme today!  Flashback Friday will ask a specific question about "back then" and you can answer on your own blog and then link to hers. Be sure to visit the other players! Here we go!  Thanks, Linda!

How and when did you learn to drive? Do you have any particular memories associated with getting your driver license? How old were you when you got your first car and what was it? Who paid for it?

I lived in Virginia when I became eligible to drive, but did not have a permit. My mom had a brand new yellow Camaro that we all loved. It was her first EVER new car. Every so often, she would let me drive, with her in the passenger seat, down a very slow street. Then my dad retired from the military and decided we were moving to Texas. That interrupted the progression of driver's ed for me since I was between 10th and 11th grade. I don't remember how I ended up getting my license in Texas, but I did, and I've been driving ever since.

My first car was when I was a junior in college. My mom got it for me. It was a Dodge Maverick. I was grateful, but I still had my eye on that (now no longer brand new) yellow Camaro! The Maverick lasted long enough until I was able to purchase my first vehicle that was my own, a Toyota Pick-up Truck.  It was bright red and we named it "Flash." I held onto it until I graduated from law school and left for Germany for to be an Air Force JAG.

Ready, Fire, Aim

Did you read that correctly? Yep. Today is the Retaliating Tongue.

First Peter 3:9 says, "Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it."

In other words, retaliating is NOT Godly. A truly "victorious" response would be humility, compassion, and glory to God.

The author of 30 Days to Taming the Tongue says she has really struggled with this one and writes, "I suspect I will not always bat a thousand in this area in every situation; however, I know that if I strike out, it will be because I have ignored the urging of the Holy Spirit and made a conscious decision to take God's job by returning the punishment." (emphasis mine)

My son is in 7th grade. Because he is very tall, he has a physical presence that protects him from older students who want to be obnoxious to the younger ones. Yet, there are students who will push the envelope with him just to see what he'll do. His middle school is very racially diverse but not very successfully integrated between the groups of students.  A while back he was chuckling when he told me about a kid who is very 'tough' who purposely shouldered him out of the way in the hall one day, looked at him, and snarled, "move, white boy!" I raised my eyebrows and my son said, "so I held my ground and said, 'no, you move, Shorty." I was so relieved he had been smarter than to return the color insult I didn't think much about it at that moment.  But because we were going somewhere in the car (and so he was trapped) I revisited the issue and asked, "how could you have handled that differently in a way that glorified the Lord?"

He proceeded to explain to me (you know all moms are stupid, right?) the hierarchy of power in middle school and how you can't just let people roll over you because they just ratchet up the pressure.  I asked, "kind of like what his enemies did to Jesus?"  Big sigh and slump into his seat.

So that was a pretty easy conversation to have because it only involved him. But what about the other day when, during an assembly, a kid behind him was poking him with a pencil. He asked the kid to stop a couple of times and then finally turned around, grabbed the kid's hand and took the pencil away. When I told him to keep his hands off other kids, he said, "mom, he was doing it to (my son's friend) first. And he's a lot smaller than me." This friend is smaller and has some special needs that make him very emotionally sensitive. He also doesn't have my son's advantage of height and confidence. So, when I asked the mom question, "how could you have handled that differently in a way that glorified the Lord?" his reply was that there was no other way and outrage that I would let him leave his friends undefended. I tried to point out that he didn't take the pencil away until it was being done to him, but his outrage button was on "HIGH" so there was no enlightenment. For every "but mom," I got, I replied, "keep your hands off other students." We both finally ran out of energy - but it still wasn't resolved. I just know I'm going to get a call someday from the office that he's been suspended for something like this that escalates.

I really don't know how to advise him other than to keep reminding him that He is a living testimony and to behave that way.  I'm interested in what you all think. He doesn't feel particularly inclined to reach out to the other community in his school. By the time they're in high school those lines will be firmly drawn. How should the adults be doing things differently in order to integrate these communities?

Lord, help us as parents to guide these young people your way. Give us tools and perseverance to help them love the unlovely. Make me sensitive today to my tendency to retaliate, even if it's only in my head.

**The link to the book above is just for convenience. It is not linked in any way that will produce benefit or remuneration for me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just Bein' Honest

Happy Smile: the daughter read my blog today.

Consequence: she found my thanks, not cranks bracelet for me.

Oh THANK YOU sweetheart! I can't TELL YOU how MUCH I was missing it!

On the other hand, the photo on my header was taken in my VERY OWN YARD today! Spring is definitely coming!

And despite spending most of the last three days in the car, I managed to set a new high for success for me. I was making a dinner for a friend and was able to use up remaining sour cream, turkey, the last little bit of flour from a bag, a can of chicken broth, and some mozzarella cheese that was hanging around. Add a few more ingredients that I bought -- what do you think I made?

And since now you're wondering kitchen things, if you need a good recipe for asparagus, we tried a new one tonight (courtesy of America's Test Kitchen) and it is a keeper!

Pan Roasted Asparagus w/Red Onion & Bacon

Pan Roasted Asparagus

1 T olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
2 lbs thick asparagus spears, ends trimmed or snapped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Red Onion & Bacon
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
1 large red onion, halved and sliced thin
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T maple syrup

1.  Cook bacon in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate; set aside.  Pour off and discard all but 1 T fat from pan.
2.  Return skillet to medium high heat and add onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until edges darken and onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add vinegar and maple syrup and cook until liquids reduce and cling to onions, about 2 minutes.  Transfer onions to bowl and cover with foil.  Rinse skillet with water and dry with paper towels.
3.  Heat oil and butter in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat.  When butter has melted, add half of asparagus to skillet with tips pointed in one direction.  Add remaining asparagus with tips pointed the other direction.  Distribute spears evenly; cover and cook until asparagus is a bright green and still crisp, about 5 minutes.
4.  Uncover and increase heat to high; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until spears are tender and well browned along one side, using tongs to occasionally move spears from center of pan to edge, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer asparagus to serving dish, adjust seasoning.  Top with onion, sprinkle with bacon.

Now I'm going to tell you how I messed this up and made it 'my own' recipe.

First, I didn't have any bacon.  I only had a little bit of left over prosciutto. I threw that in the pan, but of course it didn't take 8 to 10 minutes and there wasn't a whole tablespoon of fat left. So I put in a little olive oil and then added the red onion. Oh, that's the other thing.  I didn't take the prosciutto out, and I only had about HALF a red onion, but it was plenty!  From there I followed the recipe except for one more thing.  I went ahead and cut the asparagus spears in half. Some people in my family like tops and some like bottoms, so this way, nothing gets wasted left on a plate.

My husband had multiple portions, and I used up the last of the prosciutto, half a red onion that was left from the other night and a pat of butter that was begging for attention.  To quote Hannibal Smith:

Be Part of the Solution

Being around someone who complains all the time is spiritually and emotionally draining. The sad thing is that often these people are unaware of how much they complain. It has become a habit to them - a normal way of engaging in conversation. We all know chronic complainers and swear that we would NEVER be one of those!

But . . .

  • in a group of people talking about weather, do you fight the urge to join in commiserating?
  • in a group of women talking about husbands/boyfriends, do you fight the urge to document something 'man-stupid' your significant other has done?
  • when people are talking about traffic . . . 
  • when people are talking about schools . . .
  • when people are talking about the government, the budget, the DMV...
  • when the cashier at a store asks, "how are you doing today?" do you say, "I'm blessed thank you and how are you?" or do you give her/him something with which to commiserate?
I know a couple of women for whom this is such a 'mode of communication' that it is said about them that "if they aren't complaining, they have nothing to say." What a terrible reputation to have - especially someone who claims to live in the joy of the Lord! When I have to be around them I find myself trying to counter everything they say with something positive. That in itself becomes a battle of attitudes and not very glorifying to the Lord. It is easier just to move away from them. But aren't they ones that God calls me to love just as much as people who have optimistic easy personalities?

And, I confess I jump into this habit very easily. I think part of it is filling a void of silence and part of it is lack of imagination. But mostly it is thoughtless speech, reflecting that I have momentarily forgotten that I should be grateful every day for life itself. I need to find my "thanks, not cranks" wristband and put it back on. I took it off one day to cook and lost it in a kitchen drawer, I think.

It is true there are situations in which complaint is appropriate -- but constructive complaint, wrapped in the Ephesians verse of "speaking the truth in love" should be the goal.  We've all heard the adage, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." If there is an issue that concerns me, and it is a Godly concern, then the Lord will give me the talent, time and strength to address it in a way that glorifies Him. If I do not believe I have been given that direction by the Lord then I should keep my mouth SHUT! 

Lord, make me especially mindful today of any words I say that indicate a complaint. I am so grateful for the many blessings you have showered upon me. Let me sing of those instead.

Now: a little note about dates. I started this as a Lent devotion, thinking it would be 30 days. However, I'm on Day 23 and Easter is still three weeks away, so obviously I missed something in translation. You all are so kind to not point out to me how "off" I am -- so I'll finish the 30 days in the book and on the blog and then revisit the ones that God has really been highlighting for me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Cursing Tongue - Day 22 of Lent

This is the classic scene from Christmas Story where the boy gets the old "wash out the mouth with soap" treatment for cussing. While we laugh when we see it, there was some wisdom to what moms used to do in yesteryear! A direct application of discipline to the offending part!

Today's passage is about profanity. I have to confess that in my mid-20's I was a bit of a potty-mouth. I loved  nothing more than a dirty joke and if it had some salty words in, so much the better. Ever the legalist, I had certain words I would NOT say out loud and somehow thought that avoiding those made my sin less.  WRONG!

When I placed my entire trust in Christ in November 1993, it stopped.  Just like a cork went into it. Oh, I still know those words, but they're not my first thought when I'm frustrated. As my children have switched to public school and started hearing those words on a regular basis from other students, they have occasionally incorporated one or another into their vocabulary. I've always told them that using curse words shows a tremendous lack of imagination, and both of them have great imaginations and vocabularies, so it isn't necessary to use those words.

But this all masks the deeper issue, which is expressed in James 3:8-9, But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

The author of Taming the Tongue writes, "understanding that profanity resides in the heart helps us to reject the idea that a curse word 'slipped' out of our mouth. The reality is that it slipped out of our heart." Wise words.  The Lord looks at what is in our hearts. Ouch.

Lord, my desire today is to produce words from my heart and out of my mouth that glorify and honor you.

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Sensational Haiku Wednesday is hosted by Jenn at Haiku is pretty easy to do if you just focus on the 5-7-5 pattern.  Try it!  Thanks, Jenn!

The theme this week is Metamorphosis. I was thinking about it as I went to sleep last night, and this was my last thought. Not what I or anyone else expected, I'm sure!

Change to a big bug
Creepy Kafka masterpiece
Tenth grade English - ugh!

Random Dozen

Go see Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee to grab the questions, post them with your answers on your blog, and then link back to her.  Make sure you visit at least ONE DOZEN other players and leave nice comments. Thank you Linda for hosting this!

1. How old is the oldest pair of shoes in your closet? 10 years - my beloved hiking boots

2. Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year? If so, what variety? Yes - thin mints. They're the only ones that are nut-free.

3. Do you know how to ballroom dance? If not, would you like to? I took a class in college. It's not really my thing.

4. Were you a responsible child/teenager? Mostly.

5. How many of this year's Oscar-nominated movies did you see? One, UP.

6. If you're going to have a medical procedure done, such as having blood drawn, is it easier for you to watch someone else having the procedure done or have it done yourself? Depends on who it is. I hate to see my kids get stuff done that hurts.

7. What is your favorite day of the week and why? Thursday because it's my 'me' day that I catch up on things I can't get to on Tuesday and Wednesday.

8. Do you miss anyone right now? At this moment, no. But I often miss my Grandpa who went to be with the Lord in 2000.  I especially miss him when we sing an "old favorite" from the hymn book.

9. Do hospitals make you queasy? Yes. They smell.

10. At which store would you like to max-out your credit card. Not that you ever would, you responsible person, you. Microcenter.

11. Are you true to the brand names of products/items? Some things, yes. Others, I go with what's cheap.

12. Which is more difficult: looking into someone’s eyes when you are telling someone how you feel, or looking into someone’s eyes when he/she is telling you how he/she feels?  Looking into someone’s eyes when he/she is telling you how he/she feels.  If I'm having to have that conversation I've probably hurt that person's feelings so I don't want to look into their eyes and feel ashamed.  Just being honest here.

Now go be random!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Wikipedia says that in Greek mythology, Narcissus (Greek Ναρκισσος) spurned the love of both boys and girls. A rejected lover prayed to Nemesis that Narcissus would one day know the pain of unreturned love, and this curse was fulfilled when Narcissus became entranced by the image of a boy he later discovered only to be his own reflection in a pool. A nymph, Echo, loved this beautiful boy, but she could never get his attention. He remained by the water's edge, and she eventually pined away waiting for him...until nothing was left of Echo but her sad, pleading voice, and Narcissus turned into the flower that bears his name (see Narcissi). Yep, the ubiquitous and many-variant daffodil is the narcissus.

I bring this up because today's reading is about the Self-Absorbed tongue. This is the person who talks about herself all the time. No matter what situation you bring up, she turns it back to herself.

This is another one that I've struggled with, but have done better as I've matured. For one thing, I've met so many interesting people on my life's journey that I've realized I'm not always the most entertaining person in the room! And I've also realized that when I am broadcasting, I can't hear what others are saying about their joys, their pains, their struggles, and their celebrations. Someone told me a long time ago that the smartest person you'll ever meet is the person with whom you have a conversation and never learn a thing about them. Think about it. 

Self-absorption is centered in insecurity. What a surprise - so many of these less desirable tongue-traits are rooted there.

Lord, help me today to find others interesting, and to hold my tongue no matter how interesting I think my story is. Show me something new about one of my friends that I never knew before because I wasn't listening.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Snow is Mostly Melted

Hooray! When I look out the window I see more brown and green than white! And it's near 60 today so a beautiful afternoon.  I wore shorts to the gym and I've stayed in them all day because I didn't get cold!

Remember that holly tree that was bent over with snow?  Here's the photo to remind you.

I knew it was broken, but until the snow melted we couldn't get out there to see how bad the break was.

Here it is, first the branch end. Next the stub up in the tree.

The rest of the back yard looks like a wasteland as well. But we know that plants are resilient and the strong survive. And as if to reward me for coming out to see, look what else I found.

Sorry for the blurriness -- I have a really inadequate camera. In that same spot we used to get a row of Lenten Roses, but I don't think they can make it up through the matted leaf layer. The heaviness of the snow really packed a lot of things down.

I have seen lots of buds on trees, big fat robins and handsome cardinals, the kids are both starting to sniffle with allergies...I even noticed that the chipmunk holes out in the front suddenly look as if they're "active."

On Saturday my husband was working in the back of the house to reattach the grate the covers the dryer vent. As he put the screws in with the power screwdriver it made that rat-a-tat-tat noise that says, "DONE!" This morning while I was working I heard the noise again, but he's at work and there were no power tools currently being employed. Yep, a woodpecker was trying to embellish our external decor. How is it that a 5-inch bird can make a sound like a miniature pile driver?

I even opened up the windows and turned off the heat today to get the cooking smells out of the house.  Ahhhh....spring. Can we say happy dance?

Matthew 7:1

When you saw the title,did you immediately know what Bible verse it referenced? Perhaps not by the citation, but studies say this is the #1 verse best known by NON-Christians. And they frequently quote it to people who claim to be Christians.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

I confess I've had a lot of trouble with the "judgmental tongue" in my life. Purely from a position of insecurity, I have often evaluated others' actions, inactions, words, accomplishments, etc. from my own selfish perspective. Again though, God's sense of humor has helped me start to curb this.

He gave me children. It is SO, SO tempting when you have children to measure them against their peers. But as soon as they start talking, they start repeating things they've heard at home and in the car. They usually do this at the most embarrassing time and place possible. I can't tell you how many times I've been convicted by my children saying something judgmental and ugly - and me knowing that I set that poor example.

We all want our child to be the one the teacher likes best, or thinks is smartest. My daughter had a teacher a few years back who was terrible. Children whose parents attended the 'right' church and professed the 'correct' theology were favored. Children who asked a lot of searching questions (like mine) were troublemakers. It was an excruciatingly difficult year. We tried talking to the teacher one on one, and speaking with the administration, but nothing changed. When the time came for our second child to move up into this teacher's class, I told my husband I didn't think I could take another year with that teacher. He, very gently but very truthfully said, "no, and neither can our son. The way you've spoken about her here at home has destroyed any hope that he would have respect enough for her to do well in her class."  OUCH! I HATED TO HEAR THAT! And I was really angry because I knew he felt the same way about this woman's teaching. But after I thought about it, I remembered that throughout it all, he had never agreed with me about her in front of the kids and had never joined in the indictment.

So, now when we don't care for a teacher's approach we discuss it privately, behind closed doors. And we pray. And if absolutely necessary, we go to the administration. (An easier thing to do now that they're in public school and there's more than one teacher per grade.)

Matthew 7:3-5 says, "why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Why do non-Christians accuse us with the "judge not" phrase? Because it is very easy to do. We are humans, struggling with our sin nature just like anyone else. The difference though is that we are FORGIVEN and we have a hope of moving towards being more Christ-like and less judgmental. As we mature in our relationship with the Lord and start to care more about HIS reputation than our insecurities, perhaps we will allow his gentle hand over our mouths to stay there.

Lord, help me see those annoying people you place in my path as people that you love just as much as you love me. Give me your glasses today to see with compassion. Help me to not judge, but just love.

Added on later:  I love this song.  To look into my judge's face and see a Savior there...

Microfiction Monday

Susan, at Stony River, gives a challenge each Monday. We view the illustration she provides and then write a pithy response, 140 characters or less. The 140 count includes all punctuation and spacing. This is a really great challenge for those of us who tend to wordiness. Try it!

Usually I go funny, but today I felt like going "DARK" instead. 
The illustration:

The illusion of intimacy fooled people. Few could see the love of money which led them to pretend as if they cared for one another.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Making me Smile

I started to write this when I was at the George Mason Public Library today.  My daughter was in a class nearby so the library was a good place to wait.  Unfortunately, I couldn't post to my blog from my iTouch.

Anyway, so what made me smile?  Lots of things.  Here are some of them, not in order of importance.

  1. A huge mystery section at the library.
  2. Lots of parents in the library with their children.
  3. Lots of children of different hues, all excited about being in the library.  Now mind you, this was the first really nice weather day we've had in weeks. The temp got up to the 60's.
  4. As I listened to music on my iPod I was reminded that my daughter had borrowed it recently and 'accidentally' copied her music onto it. Normally that would irritate me, but then a tune came on that was so irrepressibly her that I had to smile. It was "Mr. Mistoffelees" from the musical, CATS.
And then, the drive home was not too harrowing, and the BBQ in the crockpot smells divine.

A good day.