Friday, August 30, 2013

Muscle Memory

Moving to a new house is a strange experience, and moving to a different city just increases the strangeness exponentially.  I look around and see our things, but it still doesn't feel like our home.  It's still too unfamiliar and alien to be called home, yet it is.  We're here so it's home.

When we repeat a task over and over again, we develop a muscle memory for it.  From playing a musical instrument to a habitual routine, our brain locks in those movements and we can perform them with little to no thought.  I seem to notice this most when we move to a new house.  My hand keeps reaching for the cabinet to the left of the stove to season my cooking even though the spices are now kept to the right.  I automatically turn to the right of the sink to load the dishwasher in spite of the fact that it's clearly on the left.

But more than my muscle memory is the feeling that I have one foot in Oklahoma and one foot in Cypress.  This morning as I came in from waiting at the bus stop with Gracie, I looked over at my keyboard and had the urge to sit down and play.  Tripping on the heels of that thought was that I could just run up to the church and practice on the grand piano there, with the quick realization that I couldn't do that anymore.

Yesterday as I was coming out of Target (which has a layout just like the one in Owasso), I forgot for a split second where I was.  I had a brief moment of confusion when I didn't see the Justice for Girls and Kirkland's as I left the building, then felt foolish as I walked to my car.

I keep seeing people from Oklahoma while I'm out running errands.  I suppose it's because I saw people that I knew so frequently back home and would stop and chat, that my brain still subconsciously tries to match what it sees with what it knows.  I've done so many double takes over the last two weeks that I'm surprised I don't have a mild case of whiplash!

I know it won't be long before I settle in completely and I develop new muscle memories, and I stop thinking of our new house as a really large hotel room.  But until then, don't be surprised to see me walking out of Target with a confused look on my face.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Beginnings

Anyone who has known me for any length of time is aware of my hatred of aversion to change. I've worn my hair in the same basic style for the last 15 years. I am VERY brand loyal when it comes to my food. I like my routine just the way it is. I'm a planner, because planning allows me to map out my future and avoid change.


For someone who is so opposed to change, I have been right in the middle of some major upheavals in the last few months. Trevor returned from a conference in Houston last April with murmurings of possible career opportunities. I just smiled and nodded, all the while thinking "There is no way on God's green earth that I am moving back to Houston." Over the next month or two, those murmurings turned into real offers which included interviews and trips back to Houston. By June, we knew that he could not pass on this opportunity for his career and begin the difficult task of saying goodbye to Oklahoma.

When we moved to Oklahoma in 2009, I never dreamed in a million years that we would settle in and fall so completely in love with it. The people were friendly, the climate was amazing and the culture made us want to stay. We quickly joined a church and made friends that we love and who loved us wholeheartedly in return. Saying goodbye to our life in Oklahoma was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and I still grieve over things that I am missing with our friends.

What I didn't expect was the welcome I've received since arriving in Houston. We moved in last Tuesday, and since then I've met two incredibly kind, friendly women in our neighborhood. Amanda arrived at our doorstep with cookies and a smile on Sunday, and stayed to chat for a bit. She lives just a few houses down from us, and has a son who is eight. She is on the PTO board at Gracie's school, so I have lots of opportunities to volunteer! I met Lanie on the first day of school as I waited for the bus with Gracie. She came walking up with a cheerful "Good morning" and her two girls who are in 3rd and 5th grade. We were soon joined by Amanda and her son, and the two of them made me feel as though I had lived there for years. 

These women have been answered prayer for me, and Gracie and the girls are becoming fast friends already. I am thankful for God's provision even when I resist the changes He has in store for me, and also for these sweet ladies who are slowly making me feel like maybe change isn't such a bad thing after all.

 First day of school in Cypress

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I've Moved!

I've moved! Please find me at: Heart of Service


Nevermind....I really hated WordPress.  Back to Blogger for good! 


Friday, March 1, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Her name was Zoe. She was 5 years and 9 months old to the day. She was a beautiful calico cat, and we loved her with all our hearts. She slept in Gracie's bed every night, and could be counted on for a soft meow each morning as I stood waiting for my coffee. It was her way of reminding me that she needed her morning treat.

She was, in short, the perfect cat. No biting, scratching or hissing even when a 4 year old Grace carried her around with both arms clenched around Zoe's neck until we could rescue her. She always snuggled up with me on the couch, stretched out along my side and purring gently. She cried when she accidentally found herself outside. She loved to be scratched under her chin and around her ears.

There could be ten kids running in and out of the house, and she would calmly sit in the middle of the floor without flinching. She knew she was safe because we loved her and protected her. She never resisted being held, even when you could tell that she really, really wanted to get down and would stay calmly in our arms until we were ready to let go.

Except today we had to let her go in spite of the fact that we weren't ready. She was sick and in pain, and the kindest thing we could do was to release her. So she trustingly snuggled in my arms one last time as the veterinarian gave the injection, and she peacefully slipped away as we cried. We wept for our loss and for the knowledge that we would never have another pet quite like her.

We brought her home and buried her in the corner of the yard, near the birdhouse. Nathan helped fill in the tiny grave, and Gracie left flowers on the dark mound of loose dirt. The house seems empty, and I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye. Gracie left the door open, and I had to catch myself from saying, "Close that door or Zoe will get out!"

A cat shaped indention is still on the cushion of the couch, and her scratching post stands unused. I never imagined that losing a pet would affect us like this, and my emotions feel so raw. But I know that it will get just has to.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Owasso YMCA Hog Jog

Ten and a half weeks ago I decided that I wanted to get in shape.  Not just my standard I'm-going-to-diet-until-I-get-tired-of-not-eating-Cheetos decision, but a real effort to make a permanent lifestyle change.  The first thing I did was to evaluate my eating.  I've done Weight Watchers (with varying degrees of success) on and off for 11 years now, and although it gets me started I never seem to stick with it.  I found a great website called SparkPeople and I can track my food just like WW, but it also gives me daily ranges for calories, protein, carbs and fat.  I also bought a FitBit which I wear all day, every day to track my steps, calories burned and stairs climbed.

So I got so addicted to my FitBit and tracking how many steps I was taking each day, that I got a little more serious about my walking.  I found an app for my iPhone called RunKeeper (I am suddenly seeing a technology trend here) that allows me to input specific routes and then it tracks my speed, distance and time by GPS.  So every morning I wait for the bus with Gracie, and then take my walk.  Sometimes it's 2 miles, and sometimes it's 3 but the point is that I get out there and do something.

All this to say that with my weeks of exercising and eating well, I've lost 22 lbs and had the opportunity to participate in my first 5k today.  I walked in the Owasso YMCA Hog Jog this morning, and completed it in 48:03.  It's not a fabulous time, and it's not particularly fast but it's MY time and I'm proud of it!  Three months ago I would have laughed in your face if you had suggested that I would be walking in a 5k Thanksgiving morning, but I did, and it felt great.

The icing on the cake came when I turned a corner, and saw Trevor and the kids standing in the distance clapping and cheering me on.  It was completely unexpected and it reminded me once again of how gracious God has been to me.  He has blessed me in so many ways that cannot even be articulated, and continually shows His love for me through Trevor.

So today I am thankful.  Thankful for my husband and children.  Thankful for a body that is healthy enough to walk a 5k.  Thankful for the love of a sovereign God who holds me in the palm of His hand.  I am thankful.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stolen Idea

The creativity of other people never ceases to amaze me, especially when their ideas make my life easier.  Pinterest is one of those sites that has me constantly saying (sometimes out loud), "Why didn't I think of that??!!"  So many awesome ideas for crafts, decorating, cooking and every other genre under the sun.

I wish that I could take credit for the following pictures.  Sure, I took them, edited them, ordered the prints, bought the suckers and assembled them, but (sadly) the idea was not mine.  I will however take credit for the beautiful children, or at least half credit.  Here are the Valentine's Day cards they will be slipping into their classmate's boxes this year:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Tree 2011

This year I have a good camera, and have started to experiment with some of the settings.  I also discovered that I have Photoshop Elements 8 on my Mac, so I've been figuring out some really cool editing tools as well.  This photograph of our tree is unedited, but I thought it turned out well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Giving Thanks for Pinterest

Oh y'all.  I am so addicted to Pinterest.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then go check it out.  This is not a "only for the crafty people" website.  This is a place where the greatest ideas on earth live, and they are there for the taking pinning.  There are so many great ideas, hilarious sayings, delicious recipes, decorating tips, photography tutorials and book recommendations that it can be a little overwhelming at times, and that's just barely scratching the surface.  I can literally spend hours scanning boards and re-pinning things so that they will be at my fingertips when I need them.

The great thing about Pinterest is that you can collect ideas from all over the internet in one place, and share them with friends.  I have boards for things like Christmas, For the Kids, Books Worth Reading and Hilarity.  I have the Pinterest app on my iPhone and iPad so I can access all those recipes and ideas no matter where I am.  As you can see, I seem to have a bit of a problem here:  so many ideas, so little time.

So today I am thankful for Pinterest, a much more effective and productive way to waste time than Facebook. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm Giving Thanks for My Kitchen

Yes, I know.  I missed a few days of the challenge.  My OCD, people-pleasing instinct was screaming for me to go back and write posts for the last two days because my numbers on my side bar would not match the actual date for the love of all that is good!!  (Deep breath)  Not only write the posts, but then go back and change the post date for each one so that my blog would look perfectly neat  as though I had really written the posts on time.

But you know what?  As I sat here in my chair getting stressed about what I did and did not write, my mind wandered to what I was doing the past few days that caused such a lapse in blogging continuity.  What came to the forefront of my thoughts was all the cooking I did yesterday.  I made three complete meals:  chicken and sausage gumbo, chicken spaghetti and a pan of lasagna, and as I thought about that craziness I realized how thankful I am for my kitchen.  This is the first kitchen I've ever had that was big enough to cook fairly large quantities of food without covering every single spot on the counter with utensils, bowls and pots.  I have enough counter space and plenty of room to move around comfortably, even if several people are in there at once.

It's awesome.

For those of you out there who think cooking is a dirty word, then this makes no sense to you at all, but those of you who love to cook are nodding your heads in agreement.  Our old kitchen in Texas had plenty of counter space, but it was galley style, and only one person could be in there at a time.  The refrigerator door would almost hit the front of the stove when opened, and effectively trapped anyone standing at the sink from leaving the room.  Not so bad for making dinner, but a real pain when I was trying to prepare a holiday dinner with my mom and sister.

Our last house had more room to move around, but severely limited counter space.  I could only do one thing at a time, and cooking often requires so much more than that!

But this kitchen has both counter space and floor space, and I revel in it every time I cook.  Is it the professional kitchen of my dreams, with a hot water spout over the stove and wood burning oven?  Nope.  But it is roomy, with beautiful granite counter tops and lots of cabinets in which to store all my cooking/baking paraphernalia.  There's a place at the counter for people to sit and visit while I'm working, and a pass through to the living room so I don't miss out on conversations when we have guests.  It has big windows that offer lots of light as well as ventilation when it starts to get hot.

So today I'm thankful for my big kitchen.  I'm thankful that I have a great place to prepare all the foods I love to cook, and to have a place to entertain.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Giving Thanks for Knitting

Last October, a friend of mine at work taught me how to crochet and knit.  I crocheted afghans for Nathan, Grace and both of my grandmothers for Christmas, and really enjoyed creating something practical with my own hands.  At the same time, I was beginning to knit and made lots and lots of scarves, and then I made more. 

Over the last six months I've been expanding my knitting repertoire to include knitting in the round on circular needles and double pointed needles, as well as learning how to follow patterns and make up my own.  It's been so much fun trying out new things and improving on my skills.  I knit all the time:  while watching television, during my lunch hour, spare moments at work and while riding in the car.  If there is an opportunity to sit down, I usually have my knitting in hand.  It feels good to be productive even while I'm doing something as mindless as watching tv.

So today I am thankful for knitting and for the person who opened up a whole new world for me.  Thank you Mary Ann!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm Giving Thanks for Cooler Weather

I love cold weather.  I love the feel of a fire in the fireplace, a mug of hot chocolate warming my hands and cozy sweaters with sleeves that go down to my fingertips.  I love the snow, and the crisp feel of the air when it's cold outside.  I enjoy shoveling snow in the same way that I enjoy mowing the grass...there's an element of instant gratification that I love.  I love wet cold days and the dry ones.  I love wearing scarves and gloves, and sleeping with the windows open when it's freezing.

Cool weather seems to finally be making it's way to us in Oklahoma, and I think it's here to stay.  This evening has been cold and drizzly, which is perfect weather for snuggling up with a good book and a hot beverage.  You'll very seldom hear me complaining about cold temperatures, even when it feels like spring will never come.  Summer is just a season that I have to get through so I can have cooler weather again.

So today I am thankful that summer is over and the cooler weather is here to stay.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm Giving Thanks for Elijah Thomas

The call came this morning at 6:37am.   "She started having contractions at 1:00am, and they are at the hospital now," my mother said. My sister Amber was in labor, despite not being due to give birth until November 14th. I was so excited as I dressed for work, and couldn't help checking my phone every few minutes to make sure I had not missed any important calls or texts. I was also unduly excited by the fact that he would be born on 11-1-11!

My entire morning was spent running upstairs out of the basement so that I could get cell phone service and check for messages, anxiously awaiting word of my nephew's birth. I called my mom at 1:30, and when she answered I heard the sweet sound of newborn cries from her arms. She was holding Elijah Thomas, and as I heard him for the first time I cried tears of joy. I would have given almost anything to be there in that moment with them, holding him in my arms and cuddling him close but those things will have to wait until Thanksgiving when I finally get home to see them.

I spoke briefly with Amber, and she sounded amazing. Her voice was strong and if I didn't know better, I would never have guessed that she just went through hours of labor! I was so proud of her and so thankful for my brother-in-law David for being the kind of husband and father that he is.

So today I am thankful for new life, but especially for my new nephew, Eli. He bears the names of two men that I loved dearly (my grandfather and great-grandfather), and I'm thankful that he was delivered safely and that Amber is doing well. I am thankful that God has seen fit to bless our family with another baby to raise and nurture in the admonition of the Lord. I am thankful.

(I can't post pictures or stats yet, because Amber will might kill me if I steal her thunder!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Creator of Darkness and Light

Like everyone else in America, it was a day like any other for me. I was working at MD Anderson and still making the hour and a half commute from my home in Dayton. I got to work just before 8:00am CST, and went directly to the break room to fill my water cup and to put my lunch the refrigerator. I glanced up at the television in the corner, and saw a smoking building but had no idea where it was or the implications as of yet. Another employee told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and to be perfectly honest I wasn't too concerned. I assumed it was a fluke and that someone flying a small plane had lost control in a terrible accident.

It became clear in the following hours that it was no mistake, no fluke. It was a deliberate, planned attack on America. It was intended to strike fear in our hearts and to create panic. When I heard that the Pentagon had been hit, it suddenly became very personal to me. My brother Patrick works at a law firm in Washington, DC that is very close to the Capitol, and my anxiety ratcheted up when I couldn't reach him by phone. It seems a little silly now, but at the time we had no idea how many attacks had been planned. I had family in Denver, DC, Louisiana and Texas, and in my panic I was able to rationalize why these places might be targeted next. The mint in Denver. DC was an obvious target and the Pentagon had already been hit. The Gulf Coast was full of refineries and ports. In the pandemonium that followed, speculation abounded and all I could think of was getting to my family. My relief was palpable when we finally heard from Patrick and that he was safe, as was the rest of my family.

But safe became a relative term after 9/11.

I called my mom and she left work to go get Nathan who was six months old, and at the home of our babysitter Jo. I wanted desperately to hold him and feel his comforting weight in my arms, but knew that I could not leave work and that he would be safe with Mama.

Safe. We thought we were safe from all threats, foreign and domestic. We were complacent and self-satisfied with our own strength and reputation. We were wrong.

It seemed to me that our life as a nation began anew after 9/11. So many sentences began with "After 9/11" or "In the post 9/11 world", and we all felt it. People lined up to give blood, cars were adorned with American flags and patriotic bumper stickers, and we all rose up in righteous indignation at the atrocity perpetrated on our native soil. Airports now had a military presence and a whole new set of rules emerged for how we would travel. Many stashed bags full of necessities like batteries, water, tennis shoes and a gas mask in their offices, backseats and underneath the stairs in case it was needed on short notice. The ranks of our military swelled with new recruits and our churches filled to overflowing with people looking for answers and comfort. This was our new reality. This was our life.

It's still hard for me to believe that it has been ten years since that beautiful, clear September morning when four airplanes hijacked by misguided zealots changed our lives forever. But the one thing that still brings me comfort, just as it did all those years ago is that God is sovereign. Our ways are not His ways, and He creates calamity and makes peace. Every single thing that happens to every soul on this planet is orchestrated by the One who created us all. Do we understand why? Not always. Sometimes it's not until years later that we can look back and see the why, and other times we are never permitted to understand. But whether or not we understand is not as important as our faith in the One who does. We take comfort in that and are able to move forward and continue to live our lives in the knowledge that He is not just watching, but actively involved in our lives.

I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

Ten years later I still mourn the lives and innocence lost.  I grieve for the families that lost loved ones in those towers, in the Pentagon and in that field in Pennsylvania.  But I have hope for the future, and a faith that can never be shaken by the poisonous darts thrown by Satan because every dart has been allowed by the One who holds me in His hand.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Steak and Gravy

When I want something delicious and comforting, steak and gravy is one of my go to recipes.  I've been eating this dish since I was a child, prepared by both my grandmother and mother.  It's simple food at it's best.  It doesn't pretend to be something it's not and the result is a savory, unpretentious plate of pure heaven served over rice.

First, you trim several pounds of round steak to your taste.  I prefer very little fat on my meat, so I trim heavily, but my mother would gasp and point out that cutting off the fat takes away some of the flavor.  I'm no health nut, but I don't mind sacrificing slimy fat even if it does add flavor!

Once the meat has been trimmed to your satisfaction, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a heavy pot or large cast iron skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil and add meat to brown.

While the meat is browning, chop a yellow onion and set aside.

Continue to brown the meat until it's really brown.  This is what gives the gravy a nice, dark color and flavor.  When the meat is good and brown, and there are lots of little bits on the bottom of the pot, remove the meat.

Now add the chopped onion to the pot and stir until they are almost clear.  Add a few cloves of minced garlic about halfway through sauteing the onions.

Once the onions and garlic are cooked, add the round steak back the pot and stir for a few minutes.

Add enough water to just cover the meat.

Let the meat simmer for about an hour or until the meat is tender.  Keep checking because if you overcook the steak it will be dry.  I forgot to take pictures of the next part, but mix 1/4 cup of flour with 3/4 cup of water.  Remove the meat from the pot, and bring the broth to a boil.  Using a mesh strainer, pour the flour mixture through the strainer into the pot and whisk together quickly.  Allow the gravy to boil for a minute or two while stirring, then add the meat back to the pot.  Taste the gravy to make sure the seasonings are okay.  (I like to add a little cayenne pepper here)  If the gravy tastes "weak", you can add a teaspoon or so of beef bouillon.

And there you have steak and gravy.  I don't have picture of the final dish served over rice because I am serving it tomorrow as Sunday lunch, so I haven't made the rice yet.

I hope this will be a dish that you try and fall in love with.  It is one of the staple dishes in my kitchen, and I generally serve it over rice, with green beans and homemade biscuits.

Steak and Gravy

2-3 lbs round steak, trimmed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Water to cover steak
1/4 c flour
3/4 c water

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I have this weight around my neck.  It has 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, one awesome fireplace and a backyard with two big pecan trees.  The house we left behind in Texas has been just one trial after another for us.  First we had no luck selling it for a variety of reasons.  Then we found a renter who, over the course of the last 10 months, has paid her rent on time exactly once.  We tried so hard to be understanding, because we knew she was newly divorced and on her own again for the first time in many years.  We waived late fees, and accepted excuse after excuse but then discovered that she had lied to us on several occasions.

Trevor received a text from her this past week informing us that she had moved out last weekend (3 months before her lease was up) because she just couldn't afford the rent.  We kind of figured that out since she hasn't paid her rent for the last two months.  Two months that we still had to pay the mortgage and the rent for our current home.  Two months of sending emails and texts with no replies.  Two months of eagerly checking the mail only to be disappointed.


Trevor sent her an email indicating what she owes us, and politely told her that we didn't appreciate the fact that she had sneaked out of the property and broken her lease.  She replied with a snippy email that basically said that she had a big orange U-Haul truck outside the house all weekend, so she hadn't sneaked out of the house since her moving activities were in full view of our in-law's house.

Really?  Unless I'm wrong (and I'm not), she did not sign a contract with my brother-in-law.  She signed a rental agreement with us, and even if Trevor's family was standing at the end of the driveway handing out cold water and sandwiches to them as they moved, she owed us the courtesy of a move-out notice.  In case she hadn't noticed, we live in Oklahoma and can't see her driveway from here.

A person who needs to get out of a lease, customarily submits at least a 30 day notice to the owners, not a text to say that they are already gone.  A person who isn't sneaky leaves a forwarding address to the owners of the property they vacated.  A person who is acting in a aboveboard, honest way would never move out and then disappear.

Needless to say, it's been a frustrating week for us and we would love nothing more than to sell the house and be done with it.  We're really tired of dealing with it long distance.  Trevor drove down to Dayton today so that he could make sure the house is clean and ready to either sell or rent.  He found a property manager that he is meeting with, and with any luck we can resolve this soon.

When Trevor told me what happened, I just felt sick to my stomach.  All I could think about was our savings and how much we would have to use to straighten this out, and how this means that I won't be able to go part time or even think about quitting my job in the foreseeable future.  I was angry at our renter and I  felt the burden of that house pressing in on me.

After allowing myself a few hours of self-pity, I began to feel a little ashamed of myself.  We are living in a beautiful home, my children are healthy and happy, I have a wonderful marriage to a man I adore.  We have friends and family who love us, and a God who holds us in the palm of His hand.  Despite our seemingly insurmountable problems, He has orchestrated it all from the beginning and knows how it's going to end.  All we have to do is trust that He is in control and that no matter what happens He is working for our good and His glory.

I find so much comfort in his sovereignty over my life.  It's not my inner strength or my "can do" attitude that will get me through this.  It's my complete and utter trust in Him.  I have to guard my heart and mind against worrying and fretting, because that time would be better spent in prayer and thanksgiving to the living God who commands my destiny.  Does this mean that we just shrug our shoulders and hope that everything just works out in the end?  Absolutely not!  We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our finances and property, so we clean up the mess that has been left for us.  But we don't do it with a defeatist attitude and a frown.

We are able to do it with joy, because we have peace.  It doesn't matter if our saving dwindles to nothing, and we have to give up some of our comforts until the house situation is resolved.  We have peace, and there is nothing in the world that compares.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Father's Bargain

Paul Washer preached the gospel this morning at our church.  He was in town because of our youth camp, where he will be the keynote speaker.  I had never heard of him before the announcement that he would be preaching, but now that I have heard him I will be seeking more from him.

He preached on one verse this morning:  II Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  If you are interested in his sermon, you can watch it here.  I spent 80 minutes in complete captivation as he presented that one verse of scripture in such a way as to make me rejoice, weep, praise God,  feel the love of God as well as understand His wrath all at the same time.  It was an emotionally and spiritually grueling hour and 20 minutes, but I wouldn't take back one single second of it.

In his sermon, he quoted Puritan preacher John Flavel several times, but it was this excerpt that really brought me to my knees.  Paul conveyed it in such a powerful way and you can see it at around 1:03 on the video.  I would encourage you to watch at the very least that small part of his sermon, because it is absolutely amazing.  Here is the text from "The Father's Bargain".

Here you may suppose the Father to say when driving His bargain with Christ for you:

The Father speaks. 

My Son, here is a company of poor, miserable souls that have utterly undone themselves and now lay open to my justice. Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them.

The Son responds. 

O my Father. Such is my love to and pity for them, that rather then they shall perish eternally I will be responsible for them as their guarantee. Bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee. Bring them all in, that there be no after-reckonings with them. At my hands shall thou require it. I would rather choose to suffer the wrath that is theirs then they should suffer it. Upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

The Father responds. 

But my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite. Expect no abatement. Son, if I spare them... I will not spare you.

The Son responds. 

Content Father. Let it be so. Charge it all upon me. I am able to discharge it. And though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures... I am content to take it."

Excerpt from "The Father's Bargain"
John Flavel

Friday, July 8, 2011

High Flight

In honor of the last space shuttle flight....

High Flight

 Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
 I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air....

 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
 And, while with silent lifting mind I have trod
 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
 - Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

--John Magee

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Character Assassination in the Media

The media circus surrounding the Casey Anthony trial this week has been crazy.  First a verdict of not guilty was returned for the murder of Caylee, but then she was found guilty of lying to law enforcement officers.  Public outrage was immediate and fierce, including my own.  But as I've read and listened to many of the comments about Ms. Anthony, it has made me stop and think about what really happened in that court room.

I know this isn't going to win me any popularity contests, but a jury of her peers heard all the evidence and were unable to convict Ms. Anthony because the prosecution could not clearly show cause of death. Let me pose a question. If you were on trial, had lied about very important issues, but were still very much innocent of murder, wouldn't YOU want a jury that was careful in it's deliberation of the facts? Or would you prefer that they be swayed by the public's opinion of you, no matter how skewed it might be?  Only God knows exactly what happened to that little girl, and if it was Casey she will get her due and it will be far worse than our justice system can mete out.

I don't really know what I believe about the case.  I actually only have the information that the media gives me so I don't think that I have enough facts to form an informed, intelligent opinion.  I understand the outrage that a small child is dead, possibly at the hands of a family member, but there is also the possibility that her death really was accidental.  It saddens me to see people picketing outside the courthouse, screaming that Ms. Anthony is a baby murderer and that she deserves to die.  This is not an election where we can pout after the candidate we supported lost, and sometimes make disparaging comments about the winner.  This wasn't a majority wins situation.  The twelve people who represent the rest of us heard the evidence and returned a verdict based on facts to which we are not necessarily privy, although many have used the limited information in the media to make uninformed opinions about her guilt.

I don't think that I am defending Casey Anthony here, at least that is not my intent.  But you cannot even argue that she's a celebrity (have you seen the pictures of her and OJ side by side yet?).  She is a person who was plucked out of obscurity and became front page news because a child was involved, and we are always more outraged when children are involved.  If I can't believe that the twelve people who returned a not guilty verdict did so with the utmost deliberation and consideration, then I have no hope for myself or anyone else who might find themselves accused of a crime they did not commit finding justice.  It would have disturbed me more had they convicted her based on the public outcry that she was guilty, instead of really looking at the evidence and facts of the case.

It's so easy to get caught up in the anger and incredulousness that a case like this invariably causes, but much harder to look beyond how we feel so we can see what really might have happened.  It's tragic enough that one life was ended and destroyed, but compounding that by destroying another one who might be innocent will not bring her back.  The old adage that two wrongs don't make a right is absolutely true here.  

Did Casey Anthony kill her daughter?  I don't have the answer to that question, but if I believe in our system of justice then I have to believe that insofar as they were able, our imperfect version of justice was served this week.  

Monday, July 4, 2011


It started with a text inviting us to watch fireworks with friends, and grew into an entire weekend of fun and fellowship.  The plans to organize my linen closet, and rearrange the shelves in the utility room, were replaced with swimming, friends around the kitchen table and a picnic on the church lawn.

We set out Friday evening with our friends Curtis and Jyl to watch the fireworks with the rest of our city.  We went early to find a good, grassy spot to set up camp and found a great place just across the street from the launch zone.  With the help of seven kids, we soon had the chairs and coolers unpacked and placed in the growing patch of shade as the sun began to set.  Although our little area was small, the kids still found a way to run around and play.  The adults sat together and visited to the sound of our children laughing (and occasionally crying) as we waited for the sun to finish her descent in the sky.

The Griffins have become such good friends to our family, in no small part because Trevor and I have found good friends in Curtis and Jyl separately.  If you are married for any length of time, you will develop friendships with couples based on the friendship of the wives or husbands.  Sometimes these relationships are brought into a marriage at the beginning, and even though you might not click with the wife of his best friend, you can still hang out and have a good time.  She's not someone to whom you would tell your innermost thoughts, but she's fun to have over with her husband for a movie night.

Then there are some couple friends that don't really work because you might love noshing about scrapbooking, cooking and how fun it would be to decorate a little girls' room with her, but the husbands have absolutely nothing in common.  There is no animosity, but they really have nothing to say beyond the initial pleasantries.  You really want the "married couple friends" thing to work, but you find that it's just uncomfortable to be together in that capacity.

So when you find a married couple where both husband and wife are good friends individually, and we all have fun collectively you feel like the stars have aligned and all is right with the world.  Our children are friends and play well together (even fighting at times like siblings), and we have a genuine love for this family.  God blessed us with many dear friendships since we've moved to Oklahoma, and we've been grateful for each one because we needed that support without any family here.  Our friends have become our family, and it's simply God's hand of providence that we have been cared for so lovingly.

So as we sat in the balmy July air watching the fireworks burst in the sky above us, I looked around at Trevor, Curtis, Jyl and all the kids and said a prayer of thanksgiving for our life here.  Thankfulness for living in this great country and for having friends with whom we can share these celebrations.  Most importantly, thankfulness for these friends who are of an eternal variety and although miles and circumstances might separate us in this life, death never will.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We're Over Half-Way There

One decade
Ten years
520 weeks
3640 days
87,364 hours
5,241,600 minutes

According to current life expectancies for males in the United States, Nathan has already lived 13% of his life.  He's officially reached the point where his time under our roof is shorter than what has been spent.  He has reached the double digits in terms of age, and he is beginning his slow climb to manhood. He stands just a foot shorter than me, and I see the years sliding through my grasping fingers although I try my very best to slow them down.

Yet in spite of his growth and the passage of time, he is still my little boy.  He sits near me with a companionable arm slung around my shoulders, or stays in my arms for a long good night hug.  He leans into my hand as I touch his head in passing, and gives me that special smile that he's had since he was a toddler.  Yes, he's still a boy but I see glimpses of the man he will become.  I see it when he is concentrating on a project or struggling to hold back tears when he feels they are not appropriate.

The years are slipping away, so I must use the time I have left to teach him all the things he needs to know before he leaves home.  Trevor and I work diligently to show him what it means to be a man and a husband, in charge of a household and family.  He's only ten, but these lessons are learned in small steps over time.  We teach him to respect and cherish women, not because they are somehow inferior or weak-minded but because that is how God created us to be.  We try to model kindness, generosity and good stewardship, but above all we try to model the love of Christ.

This can be a terribly slippery slope if we insist on being legalistic and rigid, but such a teaching opportunity if we allow ourselves to remember that we can only love like Christ because of the grace we have been given.  We fail over and over again to show that love in a million different ways, but letting our children see that we are not perfect is important.   I think our children see our sin more clearly than anyone else because they live with us and watch our behavior so closely.  It's impossible to model perfection for them since we are imperfect, but it's in our imperfection that Christ is seen more clearly.  We can show them that we are fallen, but forgiven by His blood.  We can model lives that delight in God and glorify Him by the million other ways that we are able to show His love because He first loved us.

So today I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift that was given to us ten years ago.  A prayer for his salvation and a prayer for a long life spent serving and glorifying the One who made him.  A prayer of protection and a prayer that he will not always be happy, but that he will always have joy.

Happy Birthday Nathan.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Blues Primer

I was going through my email folders, and came across this gem that my uncle sent me several years ago.  It is just as funny today as it was then and so I wanted to share.

Blues Primer
1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning..." 
2."I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you
stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with
the meanest face in town." 
3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it.
Then find something that rhymes...sort of: "Got a good woman with the
meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in
town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound." 
4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a
ditch-ain't no way out. 
5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues
don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues
transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft
an' state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin'
plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die. 
6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults
sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the
electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis. 
7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place
in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just
clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the
best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place
that don't get rain. 
8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male
pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cause you skiing is not the
blues. Breaking your leg 'cause an alligator be chomping on it is. 
9. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting
is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster. 
10. Good places for the Blues: 
   a. highway 
   b. jailhouse 
   c. empty bed 
   d. bottom of a whiskey glass 
 Bad places: 
   a. Dillard's 
   b. gallery openings 
   c. Ivy League institutions 
   d. golf courses 
11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you
happen to be an old black person, and you slept in it. 
12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?

Yes, if: 
   a. you older than dirt 
   b. you blind 
   c. you shot a man in Memphis 
   d. you can't be satisfied 
  No, if: 
   a. you have all your teeth 
   b. you were once blind but now can see 
   c. the man in Memphis lived 
   d. you have a 401K or trust fund 
13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger
Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also
got a leg up on the blues. 
14. If you ask for water and your darlin' gives you gasoline, it's the
Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are: 
   a. cheap wine 
   b. whiskey or bourbon 
   c. muddy water 
   d. nasty black coffee 
 The following are NOT Blues beverages: 
   a. Perrier 
   b. Chardonnay 
   c. Snapple 
   d. Slim Fast 
15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues
death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to
die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a
broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a
tennis match or getting liposuction. 
16. Some Blues names for women: 
   a. Sadie 
   b. Big Mama 
   c. Bessie 
   d. Fat River Dumpling 
17 Some Blues names for men: 
   a. Joe 
   b. Willie 
   c. Little Willie 
   d. Big Willie 
18. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Debbie, and Heather can't
sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis. 
19. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit: 
   a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.) 
   b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi,etc.) 
   c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.) 
For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple
Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.") 
20. I don't care how tragic your life: if you own a computer, you
cannot sing the blues.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Almost Time!

Was it really just Thanksgiving?  It doesn't seem like it's been over three months since my last blog entry, but the calendar doesn't lie.  It's already Mardi Gras I didn't even finish the Giving Thanks Challenge from last year, which makes me feel a little ashamed and a lot guilty.  I had such good intentions when I started that challenge, not the least of which was to commit to blogging more regularly.

Yes.  Well.  (sigh)

So a quick recap.  Thanksgiving in Louisiana was wonderful, Christmas in Oklahoma was fabulous and we saw the New Year in with good friends.  January and February brought several feet of snow and our first experience with sledding.  Now we are coasting into spring, and with it comes Spring break!!!!  I don't recall the last time I took an entire week off from work, but that is exactly what I am doing next week.  Amber, David and my nephew Travis are flying up from Louisiana to see us and I am stoked to have the entire week to hang out and just have fun.  We don't have any concrete plans and nothing but time.

Travis turned one last month, and I can't wait to see him again!  He has grown so much in the past few months, and I can't wait to hold him and play with him to my heart's content.  Nathan and Grace are excited about seeing him too, and Gracie wants to feed him.  I keep explaining to her that he is a big boy now and can eat with his hands, but she keeps insisting that he will need help with his spoon!

My parents came to see us the kids this past weekend, and we had a great time.  We didn't tell Nathan and Grace that they were coming, and so Trevor played a trick on them.  My mom called right before they arrived, so Trevor called the kids into the living room in a stern voice and made them sit on the couch.  They were sitting there wondering what they had done, when Nannie and Papa walked through the door.  I wasn't there, but apparently the joy was palpable and their relief was great!  I couldn't get Grace to let go of Nannie's hand all weekend, and I was starting to feel a little shunned by the time they left Monday morning!

So now I am almost halfway through the week, and I am having a hard time concentrating at work since in my mind Spring break is already here!  I'll do my best to post some pictures and anecdotes next week, and to be better about blogging in general.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Hair Dye

I have been dyeing my hair for over a third of my life, trying in vain to keep the silver from peeking out through the dark brown strands.  I don't remember my exact age the first time I perused the aisle in the drugstore that I thought was reserved for grandmothers and employees of the world's oldest profession, but  I know it was before I was married.  For those of you who are trying to figure out the math, I was in my early twenties.

At first I could go months between colorings, because the grey was not really widespread.  It was mostly an effort to keep it under control.  I remember my dad going silver at a pretty early age, and then lamenting how much older it made him look.  My mom always told him that if he had started coloring it when it first began, no one would have ever known and I took that to heart.

But it wasn't long before I was more salt than pepper in between colorings, and I just wasn't ready to have silver hair in my thirties.  So I kept coloring my hair, but finding that the color was not lasting as long between times as it used to.  So I started doing root touch-ups between colorings, and while thankful for the means to cover the silver I was not happy with all of the maintenance I was forced to provide.  I am a comb my hair straight or throw it up in a pony tail kind of girl.  I am a step below low maintenance when it comes to hair and makeup.

So while I am thankful for all of the years hair color has covered up my age increasing, youth decreasing silver, I think the time is approaching when I just leave it all behind and let my hair look the way God intended.  Until someone asks me if I'm Trevor's mother....then all bets are off!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for a Helping Hand

Life has not exactly turned out the way I expected in terms of my role as a wife and mother. I'm still working full-time, and spend more time away from my house than I do in it. Evenings are rushed with cooking, basic cleaning, and getting everything ready for the kids for school the next day.

Weekends are spent catching up on the pile of laundry, housework and school projects that didn't get completed during the week. I also spend much of my time on Saturday and Sunday fulfilling obligations that I have made for myself to friends, church and family. Whether it's trying to get costumes planned and sewn for a program, or making food for church or a friend, it feels like my weekends are cram-packed with so many things that I don't really find the time to relax.

I wish that I didn't have to always rush around to get things done.  I wish I had the luxury of running errands during the week and not fighting the grocery store crowds on Saturday. I wish I had more time to spend with my children. I wish I could volunteer as a class mom and organize their parties. I wish, I wish, I wish.

But one wish was fulfilled by my sweet husband several months ago when he budgeted out enough money to have a maid service come in every other week to do the heavy cleaning for us. No longer do I A) spend all day Saturday scrubbing the house or B) spend all weekend feeling guilty for being too tired to scrub the house. Every other Thursday I come home to the smell of furniture polish and the clean look of freshly mopped floors. The crumbs are gone from the corners of the kitchen,and the bathrooms sparkle.

So even though my weekends are still hectic (even more so, now with the particularly crazy brand of hectic the holiday season brings), I have more time to enjoy my family. Time to let Gracie help me cook, and time to help Nathan paint his Awana Grand Prix car. Time to slow down and crochet for a little while without looking around the living room telling myself that I should get up and dust first. So today I am thankful for the maid service that gives me a helping hand and back a little bit of my time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Evenings With My Husband

As I pull into the driveway after a full day of work, I am already thinking ahead to all the things that need to be done once I walk through the back door.  I shift the Tahoe in park, and take a deep breath as I turn the key and grab my purse.  I love my children and my home, but sometimes I wish for a little more time alone and a little less to do.

I open the door and call out for Nathan and Grace, and they come running from the back of the house to say hello as I drop my purse and keys on the stool by the back door.   After the usual rounds of hugs and kisses, they go back to what they were doing and I begin the evening checklist of things to do.  First I go through their backpacks for notes, homework and grades and sign all pertinent papers for the next day.  I make sure that all the junk is removed and that their jackets are hung up on the coat rack.

Once the backpacks are emptied, I begin the daily torture of trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Sometimes this just turns into an internet order to Dominos or a box of macaroni and cheese, but on the nights that I do cook this is when I get it started.  After dinner is cooking, I pick up the living room and/or put on a load of laundry.  All of this activity is of course punctuated with questions from, conflict resolution for and repeating myself 326 times to the kids.  By the time Trevor gets home at six, I am exhausted.

We eat dinner together and then we all sort of do our own thing for a little while.  But all too soon, arguments ensue regarding who took their bath first last night, and who has to do it first tonight.  Once the logistics are finally worked out, baths are taken and the kids are ready for bed it's time for Trevor and I to wind down.  We receive our goodnight hugs and sugar from Nathan and Grace, and then we have a few hours to just be together, talk and hang out.  Usually we watch television together, but we frequently pause it as we think of things to discuss.

It's my favorite part of the day.  So today I am giving thanks for evenings alone with my husband.