Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday Thoughts

I was asked the other day if it is difficult to work and worship at the same church. Sometimes it is. There are times when the two are so intertwined and yet there are times I can totally immerse myself in the community of believers and completely forget I have an office on the second floor.

Yesterday I received a call from a member who probably considers herself a friend to me. In my world she is a casual acquaintance. She called to inquire about changing rooms for a particular class she is involved with. That request in itself is not bad, but she is one of those people who will try to work you and wear you down until she gets what she called about. She is also one of those type of people who doesn't have anything positive to say...ever...about anything...unless it is about her. I once told her I would probably be a more sympathetic ear if she ever just once said something was being done right at church. She began her pitch, I listened and then told her I really didn't have anything to do with what she was requesting, that there are procedures and org charts and she was completely out of my branch of the chart. Didn't daunt her one bit, she just kept on over and over saying the same thing just a little bit different. HELLO! How many personality or spiritual gifts test does one have to take before realizing the questions are almost all the same...just slightly different wording. I was like the tree standing by the water, I shall not be moved. So, that line didn't change anything, so she proceeded to tell me that doing other people's work got her continually promoted at her job. Rest assured I told her, I am not looking for a promotion. I just read you should dress for the job you would like to have. The fact that I have been buying lots of pajamas, casual workout clothes and tennis shoes should tell you that maybe the job I am looking for is NO JOB! I finally convinced her that she needed to talk to the staff person who could hear her cry and maybe do something about it. She was not happy and to tell you the truth I felt bad making her call the staff person cause he is a friend of mine.

CourtneyS and I were able to beverate and grab a tasty beverage in the Garden Cafe. We had a nice visit. I miss CourtneyS being full time.

Yesterday, CM came up to church one last time to pack up the last of his things. We had a short but good visit. It is so eerily quiet in the halls...no CM laughing. The Kingdom Kids staff is at camp. Pastor on sabbatical...well, he is kind of quiet...the music suite pianissimo.

Lisa P came by and we went to lunch at The Ashland House. The last time we were there I think the convention of the halt and lame were there. I have never seen so many walkers, slow walkers, wheelchairs and the infirmed at one place outside of a hospital. There were so many Lincolns Town cars in the parking lot, that it looked like a Lincoln Mercury dealership. It was not that way today...nice mix of old and young. We were also to the side of the place and not in the direct vision of the front door. The halt and lame could have been there but we were too busy laughing and being friends. I had the vegetable plate and I don't think I left a veggie there to tell a tale.

I think Peggy is running a bed and breakfast this summer. Every time I talk with her a new group has arrived and she is the cruise director of fun. Carolyn told me that Peggy looked really tired on Sunday morning. I told her you would too if you had entertained guests all summer long. Now Peggy enjoys that but I think she needs a nap. No napping until after Sunday though. We will be in Birmingham doing M&G.

Dena is in Orlando but I don't know if she is getting to spend anytime with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. It is a "work" conference. She could see the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom from her room last night. What a totally great bonus.

I am tired of being given slogans to live my life. When I played softball I began to notice when we would yell out encouragement to the batter the encouragement was three words or less;
hit yours, now you're ready, make em work, you're due... When I played softball as a grown woman we were encouraged to do cheers. I have never seen anyone make Little Leaguers much less minor leaguers in the men's game ever do a cheer. I cannot see men yelling, " Our team is red hot, once we start we cannot stop!" I thought it was silly and my least favorite cheer was, "you got to want it to win it and we want it more!" But I digress.... When we are asked to live our lives by slogans, we have stopped living life to the fullest. I once heard some kids interviewed on a radio show. The host talked to them about school and education. It was if these kids have been programed to answer every question with this answer, "I just want a good education." If the host went too much deeper in how they could have a good education, the kids responded a little more empathetically, "I want to get a good education." Then the sponsor of the group told the host they were having a parade about getting a good education. The host took that info and tried to tie the parade with good education. The sponsors got mad and replied we told you the answer...we are having a parade to support getting a good education. Roy and I heard the interview and could not believe it. Now when we think someone is fibbing to us or giving us a line of bull, we say they are just having a parade. Not that any of this is going to make sense, but when we are asked to parrot slogans and there is not a depth of understanding, we are just having a parade because sometimes we get confused and think by having a parade about good education, that is all we have to do to get a good education. Just some stuff I am thinking about.

I felt like I have been so serious in my last few posts, but we all need to know that everybody doesn't have the fairy tale life. That life and relationship can be difficult. We shouldn't cut people off and say, I'm done! I also don't want to give the impression that Roy and I have been unhappy for years...not the case, the stories I have told you came in our first few years of married life.

Well, this is all. I better go check on the Astros....what am I saying , I need to keep going over lines for this weekend.

Let Us Give Thanks for His Wonderful Deeds

OK, I admit it, I am a pack rat...keeping letters, cards and journals, but that is my love language. I love to send cards almost to the obsessive side and have to police myself on this and I love to receive cards and letters. Those mean more to me than most gifts when someone has taken the time to write their thoughts and feelings...so at times, when I am down, I can pull out a few cards and encourage myself. I know it should be the Word and I get to that, but you know there is nothing like a sweet card from someone to soften the heart before taking in the Word.

With this in mind, I got a card from the Lord this morning, a little encouraging love note. I cannot be faithful to one devotional and on top of that I think I am being put in a box when I HAVE to read the devotion for the day. So, I skip around. This morning, I used Praying Through the Psalms by Eugene Peterson and I read and prayed a devotion for September. The verses were in Psalm 107...which is one of my all time very favorite Psalms. The verses in study were the repetitive verses of, "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men." The prayer this morning was, may we be aware when we stumble upon the wonders of God. May our eyes be open to the presents of God and then immediately give thanks for the wonder we have stumbled upon. After reading and praying this, I went about my morning getting ready for work. I loaded up my junk and headed out to my car. In the parking lot in the middle of the driveway something caught my eye, but I walked on. I stopped and returned to look at the object that caught my eye, it was an amber colored rock...shaped like a heart.

Now that is kind of special and a wonder but wait, there is still more to the story. Yesterday I wrote about a continuing happy and love filled marriage, but how it started out on very shaky ground. I think it was so cool of the Lord to have Roy and I work together when we were working through some of the most difficult times. If we hadn't, it would have been so easy to keep doing our separate things...his work, my softball and volleyball leagues. We met at Pennzoil and after several years we began working together for a consulting service. We were oil and gas auditors and we traveled together, worked together, stayed in the same hotel room together and yes even through the difficulties we were sharing a bed together. Now I am a very social person, love to be with people, but I need no I HAVE to have alone time and it just wasn't happening. God was forcing us to be together. It was on a trip to Westport, Conn that we finally had the serious talk. We had never mentioned divorce and thought it was wrong, but we were beginning to think we didn't need to punish one another with our presence and maybe it would be better to put an end to our shared misery. We were walking along a beach there in Westport and Yankee beaches don't have beautiful sand or even ugly Galveston sand, the beach is rocks. Oh what a metaphor...we were on rocky ground in our marriage and we were having the most serious discussion of our then young lives on rocky ground. We stopped cause we didn't know what else to say and decided to pray. We asked God to lead us, we wanted to do what was right, we desired to stop arguing and fighting and asked God for a sign. When we finished praying there was a rock at our feet in the shape of a heart. We picked up the rock and said OK, if we do decide to divorce, we have to come back together to this beach and bring back this rock. I know that doesn't make sense now, but it did at the time. This was a turning point for us, instead of despair, we had hope. It wasn't a magical rock because the journey from that point was still difficult and hard at times, but we began praying together more often and arguing less frequently. We decided the best place to learn about loving and serving one another could be found in the Word. It is totally a testimony to God's great patience and love. I used to say that Roy was a good husband, but he wasn't friend material. He is a great husband and my best friend.

Fast forward to this morning. Now you see why this little heart shaped rock was a card or love letter from God this morning. His mercies are new every morning! It was such a wonder that I stumbled upon. If you don't think I had a little praise and dance moment right then and there...well, you don't know me very well. All my neighbors were leaving about the same time as I was doing my little praise dance.

Note to self- As much as I wanted to call Roy and tell him about all the happenings of this morning, I didn't. It is a crunch week for him, he didn't get home until 9:00 last night. If I was to tell him about the little rock right now, his reaction would be from his work mode and then I would probably get my feelings hurt. That's is what I would have done back in the day. Hopefully I am a little smarter now...I will tell him about this little rock when he gets home tonight. He'll be in a much better mood and in a better place to hear the story and celebrate our little milestone.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Just Some Monday Stuff

I bought this shoe at The Nord Anniversary Sale. I just wanted to share that with you.

On Saturday night I continued my closet organization and filled another storage deal from The Container Store. Found more pictures but I took time that evening to read some of the letters I have saved. I read journals from our early married days. I knew that we struggled to get along when we were first married but reading the journals Saturday night, I began to remember just how hard those first years of marriage were for us. I almost wrote at the end of one journal:

2007- we are still married and love each other more than when we first met. If it had not been for the Lord on our side...where would we be? I wrote often in my journals after writing out all my frustrations and anger, this verse, I would have despaired if I had not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Roy and I were complete opposites when we married, now over time we are more alike and more like Jesus, when we don't let our flesh get in the way. Traveling for Roy was huge when we first married. His job took him all over the United States and Canada. Roy is all goals and at that time a workaholic. Some of you may be saying, well that hasn't changed, but it has. He used to stay at the office to hide from marriage and responsibilities. Now he is at the office because his job demands such from him. I read through these journals and remembered the heartache and pain, never thinking that the story would turn out so good. We both give glory to God because He softened and tendered the hearts of two stubborn, obstinate people. We keep falling in love with each other day after day. Does he still get on my nerves, yes at times. Do my sanguine ways sometimes frustrate the dickens out of Roy...you bet. Now we have committed to walk in God's love with each other and put the other first. Roy says, what blesses me is going to bless him. He is right. What blesses Roy is going to bless me. It is spiritual warfare to walk in love cause the enemy is always attacking trying to get you to take a step out of God's love. Oh another thing we agreed on and this helped tremendously, it doesn't matter who is right or wrong...just doesn't. That takes the competitive edge out. Do we still fight...not too much over the little things (well there are some days), but it seems like we have one big fight a year just to blow out the pipes. Of course that isn't biblical but it does seem to help.

I loved reading the letters from my crazy friend Debbie. I laughed out loud cause she is stinkin' funny, yet reading them now I can see they were more than funny: she was crying out for help in a marriage that was dying even in their first year. She and her husband divorced long ago and Debbie pops into my life about every 10 years. I miss her. We had some fun adventures together and a lot of laughs. She lived in Tulsa and Albuquerque and a few little towns in between. She married a minister and they moved from church to church. One particular story that I re-read was when they were on staff at a church in Albuquerque. The teaching pastor was going over spiritual gifts with the staff. He and his wife would invite staff and spouses over to their house. The first time this happened they had a little "exercise" to show how giftings worked together in the Body of Christ. The staff and spouses built a patio for them at that meeting. The next meeting they painted the house and after that built a fence. She told them that after all this work she knew what her spiritual gifts were, lying and deception. That got a rise out of the staff. Debbie, who wasn't afraid to speak the truth, told them at the 4th invitation to their house, she was tired of all the remodeling work being done in the name of teaching and that she and Bill would not be attending unless the staff and spouses were coming to their house to hang guttering. Brave soul...not long on the staff for Bill.

I came across some of the first Bible studies I ever did at First. True to being me, I didn't do much of the homework. These Bible studies were some of Beth's first ones and still in the notebooks because this was pre Lifeway. You would take your homework to the homework table and get a sticker for completing it. One day Beth said to me, you don't have very many homework stickers in your book. I told her I could go buy my own stickers... I was so wrong in saying that. This is when she went over the homework with you in class. I remember telling her that she gave us the answers in the next question, so I never looked anything up...I was so wrong in saying that. I enjoyed that trip down memory lane, although it was a short one... see the above reference to not doing very much of the homework.

There was my scrapbook of my drawings from elementary school and scrapbooks from high school. I found my notebook of poetry I had written and a directory from Jr. High school. I need to go back and arrange everything in some kind of order...but I will have to do that when there is more time.

Oh, I saw a lot of pictures from when I tanned...all the time...my goodness I had a dark and lovely tan. I hope I don't pay the price for that gorgeous tan.

I told my parents last night that I don't want the convection oven and they should take it back. I just don't see me using it. On that note, I am off to the play grocery store and I will buy dinner for the next few nights.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Travels Around the Globe, in One Afternoon

I have been to Israel, Italy, Jordon, Austria, Germany, Canada, Washington State, Tennessee, Colorado (several times), Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, New Mexico, Illinois and Texas this afternoon. I've been hiking, playing softball, volleyball, camping, at Camp Houston, Pageanting, and at the Bain farm. I went on our honeymoon, travels while auditing, went to my brother's wedding, other people's weddings, and spent some Christmas time with my grandparents. Guess you know by now I have been cleaning out my closet and getting it better organized. I was on task until I hit the big box of pictures that I still intend to put in albums someday. It's a goal, granted an unreachable goal. I saw pictures of people whose name I cannot recall and I also have some pictures of present day friends and acquaintances that I could use for blackmail. The only thing, I am in most of them and dang, the 80's hair style was not a good look on me. I saw pictures of Roy with brown hair. I had almost forgotten what color his hair used to be. We look like such young ones in those pictures. There are pictures of when it snowed in 1989 in Houston. Pictures of our dog Tiff who was named for Peggy. When Peggy and I first became friends, it was friendship at first sight, but we said we were temporary friends. We wanted to see how it worked out. So we called each other T.F. and thus the name Tiff.

I just finished filling up the first large storage container and struggled to get it up on the shelve. I kept saying, I used to be able to lift this much...and then I remember I am the least athletic I have ever been in my life.

I would still be going through all the stuff if I had taken time to read letters I have saved from the years. I didn't feel like crying this afternoon. But I did a quick peek at some of them...letters from my Grandma Brownlow, letters from friends, postcards from travels, and notes from Roy written to me when he traveled so much.

Just had to stop and write for a moment. LMS, I have a couple of really good ones of you.

God has been so good to me with the people He has brought across my path who have loved, aggravated, encouraged and mentored me. For this I am so grateful. This week, Ben the new Adult Minister on staff said, he is where he is today because of people who stop and took some time in his life. I am so thankful for those people of the past and I am thankful for those people of the present. My prayer is to remember to take the time for others along the journey. We never know what little word, laugh, prayer or advice will make a difference. God is in the details.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fridays, I Love Em!

I can hardly believe it, I was able to run all my errands and do my work at Mrs. Baker's without being rained on. I got my hair cut and then ran over to The Container Store. I bought some things that hopefully will help me be more organized. Since DSW was right next door, I had to do a drop in and see if there was anything I couldn't live without. Didn't see anything, so I went to Mrs. Baker's and then to Memorial City.

Michelle brought up all our meetings on core values at HFBC. Those were some tedious and boring meetings. Since I am not directly involved with one particular ministry I didn't have to come up with anything of my own, but we had to help one another define and redefine their ministry core values. Michelle and I sat there bored to tears with our pencils ready to cross off core values on our agendas. We usually sat by each other and kept one another awake. Today at the Container Store they had an agenda book called the crossitoff.list book. Michelle, I thought of you cause you taught me the core value and fun of crossing things off as they are discussed. Now if at anytime in our Ministries meeting if we had discussed fun as a core value, I would have been all over that. Too many times we do not give ourselves permission to have fun. We are so over scheduled and overbooked so that our lives model the overwhelmed look. I think Jesus had fun on this earth and took some play time although it might not be defined as such in the Bible. We need to celebrate the small victories. We need to celebrate the little steps we take on this pilgrimage. Our celebrations don't have to be big, but they need to be meaningful to us and to those we celebrate with. I don't want to be the older brother of Luke 15. We never learn if he joined in the celebration of his brother's return or not, but I kind of think he pouted and sulked a long time over the celebration. As time went on and the wound wasn't as fresh, the older brother could have brought up the "slight" with sarcasm or having to tell the story of his hurt over and over and over to people who already know the story and the ending is always the same, it never changes. I have an elder brother type of person in my life and although I don't have to be around them very often, you can bet they are going to rehearse a real or imagined hurt. They have no words of encouragement for most and they give out of what they don't want anymore, very rarely from joy overflowing from their heart. An elder brother type person can name every hurt and slight they've ever experienced and can jump into playing the victim without any notice. They tear others down, make fun of people, and make off the cuff remarks only to give value to their own lives. Why should anyone or anything be celebrated at the cost of me would be their mantra. At least seeing this person live their life in this way has visually given me a picture in knowing how I don't want to live life. In the presence of God there is joy and even in the tough times I want His joy and peace to lead me through.

In the middle of the night, I thought I saw Buddy on top of my desk. There was a reflective light that looked like cat eyes. I leaned over my desk and told Buddy to get off, come on, jump off, don't make me go get the water bottle to squirt you. How obstinate could this cat be? So, I went to get the water bottle and nearly tripped over Buddy... guess the reflective light was my iPod speakers and the big shadow on my desk was a box. I cannot believe how blind I am without my glasses.

This week I was asked the question if I was affected by people's expectations of me to always be in a good mood. How did I take it since people depend on me to make them laugh and lighten a situation. It has been a while since anyone has asked. Seems to me that God has given me this gift and I love to use it for His glory. This week I have prayed and reminded the Lord, when I am weak, then He is strong. It has been one of those weeks. I am walking with a friend through a really tough season and I've had several bring me into their confidence this week. Couple this with helping Roy as he in inundated with work and office politics. Mostly, I do fine with what I am called to do. It only becomes unbearable when family issues complicate the delicate balance. So, if you are one of those people that God has gifted with the gift of laughter and lightening loads, do so in God's strength, but when those times become a weight that besets you, give yourself permission to pull back and rest...

Peggy and I are getting ready to do our first Mildred and Gertrude outside the state of Texas. We are going to Birmingham next weekend to FBC Trussvile. Lisa is in NYC and Dena leaves for Orlando...and Roy gets to go to the OKC. Oklahoma City is not one of my favorites, it ranks right up there with Amarillo. That Roy, he gets all the fun trips.

Thanks for taking the time to read and thanks to those who comment. Even if you are a lurker, I love ya anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Newbies at The Nord confirmed as Nordites

Blogging has taken a back seat this week as I have been busy making converts or as I call them new Nordites, in the evening and work has been tremendously busy all day, not that I blog at work...

Tuesday evening Roy and I met OEG at The Nord and found him shopping.
After Roy bought some much needed socks, we were off the the Bistro on the 3rd floor. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and delightful conversation. I think OEG might come back on his own to pursue all his shopping options. Today, OEG called in sick, but somehow I think he was not home with a sore throat, but was back at the Nord. He was probably at the eBar with a good book.
Always being diligent about my flock I went back to the Nord on Wednesday evening to meet Laurie. She, unlike OEG, had made a pilgrimage to the Nord before, but had not eaten in the Bistro. Again, a wonderful evening, wonderful conversation and some good laughs. I feel that Laurie will return to the Nord.
I had the opportunity to have dinner again at the Nord this evening with a full fledged card carrying Nordite, but even the Rev cannot do the Bistro three times in a row, but definitely I could eat there 3 times a week and have done so.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fun, Frustrations and Other Assorted Things

This good news welcomed me today in the mail...Fun is now a core value in the business world. Can you imagine my delight and happiness in seeing this headline. I have skimmed the article and seriously thinking about getting my resume updated and going to work for a company that has...can you believe it, NAP ROOMS! There is cubicle volleyball, all types of fun to help the work day go by quickly. My great hope is that fun will soon come to the church work world. Churches are notorious for taking the business strategy and transforming it into the church world, well they don't take everything just the stuff that fits into the church world's mindset. My pet peeve as most of you know is the mission statement and everyone jumped on that one, not unlike the prayer of Jabez that was the hot thing before Joel Osteen's, "Your Best Life Now!" or "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. It is sad that as Christians we are always waiting for the next big thing when we have the best thing, The Bible in our hands.

My mom called me today. She asked me if I had a convection oven... Nope, don't have one. I have an oven that came with the stove that we use maybe twice a year and a microwave which is used daily. Seems that my parents have bought a new convection oven and after getting it home decided they liked their old one better. So here is the great news, their not wanted new convection oven has now become my birthday gift. Oh boy... usually they get me a Nord gift card, no not this year, an oven...that will collect dust and we probably will never use. They are not even re-gifting...they are giving out of what they don't want or maybe they bought it from a store with a strict return policy. All I know is this, I got an oven! Happy Birthday. I might feel differently if I had received an Easy Bake Oven when I was little. Maybe that is why I don't cook today. This kind of gift is nothing new to me, I have received these kind of gifts before from them, but it has been a while.

I have to go back to Eddie Bauers. They left a security tag on my $9.00 sweater. Dang it!

Sometimes at lunch we sit at the tables in front of the bookstore window that has Pastor Gregg, Eulalia King and Beth Moore posters on the window. So, we always feel like we have been joined by three of the best at lunch. Today, we sadly noted that Beth is no longer there reminding us to Get Out of the Pit. Guess, she has made other lunch plans. We are not too sure of the new poster that has replaced her.

After the 12 hour mall marathon on Friday, I am happy to report I didn't go back to The Galleria for the rest of the weekend. Roy and I went out to dinner on Saturday evening and ran a few errands of his. I took the time on Saturday to read and I really enjoyed that time.

Sunday was church and a long nap on Sunday afternoon. In the class I attend right now, the teacher is teaching on the I Am statements of Jesus in the book of John. We did some cross referencing and looked at Gideon and how God told him, He is the God of Shalom, peace. I re-read Judges 6 yesterday and love how God was so personal with Gideon, in his calling and patient in helping him become that mighty man of valor. When it came time to sneak into the Midionites camp, God told Gideon he would hear something that would give him great courage, but if he didn't want to go to the camp alone, he could take his friend. I love how God validates us and gives us friends to walk in some of the toughest situations of life. God knows we need friends to walk in our calling and He generously gives them to us to help bear the load or when we struggle with being brave.

We were talking about our love languages today. I think one of the funniest comments I have read is, sarcasm is my love language. Thank you Laurie for that funny. With personality traits, spiritual gifts, natural talents, the combination to my locker (just kidding, but there was a day that struck fear in me. Still does in my dreams...you know you are in high school, you can't find your class and don't remember your locker combination. I wonder why I don't dream about college?) and any and all spiritual things I am supposed to remember, I never can remember my love language. I think mine has to do with words, affirmations or something. Guess that means I love to get cards in the mail. My other one is quality time or gifts... Guess I should re-read the book.

Well, Roy just called. He is on his way home. Since I am eating out Tuesday and Wednesday I didn't do my usual Rice Epicurean prepared food run. Looks like a scrambled eggs kind of night. Oh darn, if I only had that convection oven...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 20 The Anniversary Sale at Nordstrom's

This morning I think I woke up with a hang over, not the usual kind from drinking, but from mall marathoning. I hate to even admit this, but I was at The Galleria for 12 hours yesterday. I cannot remember ever spending that much time in one mall for any reason at all. So, let me tell you all about the day, but I have to begin the story on the night before.

It was the night before the Anniversary Sale... The Nord was opening at 8:am. I didn't have plans to be there until 9:00ish. Lisa and I talked late Thursday night and somehow filtering through my tiredness I had concluded she would not be there early and I said, you know I had to be half asleep, that I was getting to the Nord around 8:15 when I meant 9:15. Dang, if she wasn't there early to pick up her pre-sale items and I was still at home. She called me a couple times that morning, but I wasn't able to return the calls until I was enroute to The Nord.

When I hit the parking garage I scored a primo parking place on the first floor and upon entering the store I was welcomed with coffee, donuts and bottled water with labels especially for the sale...Anniversary Half Pints. Ya have to love The Nord. First on the list, go pick up Spanx I ordered and my Laura Mercier stuff. Met up with CourtneyS and made our plans, she was sans cell phone, for lunch. Then I ventured into the shoe dept. Suzi welcomed me and we began a wonderful adventure in shoe land. I had bought 3 pairs of shoes already at the pre-sale and this is rare for The Nord, but the experience wasn't great, heck it wasn't even good. The clerk, which I refer to as Island Guy, was horrible and not helpful at all. Suzi, she is totally all Nord with the customer service. So, I bought 4 pairs of shoes from her...pictures coming soon and returned two of the pairs I bought from Island Guy. Went to my primo parking place and unloaded bags and back into the store. I hit jewelry next and found some great deals. Then I did what I hardly ever do, went to the men's dept and bought Roy 4 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Then CourtneyS and I had the most marvelous lunch...the best conversation and of course phenomenal food. She had the Risotto and I had the crab cake dinner. We completed the meal with White Chocolate Bread Pudding. Oh and 23 cent coffee.

Refreshed and recharged we both head back to shopping and wrapping up time at the sale. I picked up the clothes I had pre-bought and I actually changed my mind on two jackets and opted with a couple more blouses and some fall capris. All in all it was good! It was now nearing one o'clock. So I made a call to Dena to see what time she would get to the Nord. We had dinner plans and she said 5:00-5:30. Now you know, good parking place, already here, traffic bad around The Galleria helped me decided to just stay instead of coming home then fighting traffic to return. So I checked in my bags at the Concierge in the Nord and headed down the mall. I only made one bad decision the whole afternoon, going to the Rug Rat Macy's there. I HATE that store and yet, I find myself oddly drawn to it. But no more, really, I will go to Memorial City from now on.

I went into stores I don't ever take the time to visit and spent time in the mall "conversation seating areas." It was mostly me and some men, but I enjoyed the people watching. I went through my text messages and cleaned out my in and out box. Moved on down the mall to Eddie Bauers where I found a great sale with an extra 30% off. Went to the next seating area, people watched and then went to the Papyrus card store. Had a blast in there and moved on over to Borders. Bought an ice tea and sat there catching up on my correspondence. Dang, I wish I had my laptop. I always see myself as one of those cool people who sets up shop in a Starbucks or a coffee shop. That is the main reason I wanted a lap top, so I would be free to take it places and write. I have yet to do that. Note to self... After a while, I began to make my way back to The Nord but first put more bags in the trunk. I had planned to go to the eBar and get another tea or something and continue my letter to my friend Beth in Seattle. But, I stopped by the SPA first to see what was on sale in there. Julia saw me. She does my pedicures and helped me with some things and I asked her by chance do you have an opening for a pedicure. She did, so I did. Oh my, what a relief after mall walking. About that time Dena called and we met up in the SPA. After she picked up the shoes she had bought in the pre-sale and can I say her shoes are some drop dead gorgous, kick butt shoes. I am prediciting that by wearing these shoes, she will be married by the end of the year. She is not even a shoe person, but she is becoming one and her life has been changed.

We headed to the Bistro and Lisa texted that she and Kamri were on their way. We sat in the same booth that CourtneyS and I had, only I sat on the opposite side this time. Loretta was working a long shift so she was our server again. Ya gots to love Loretta, she is the best. She had found us some Anniversary pins that are worn by employees. Oh what a great thing! So they met us for dinner. Then Malcolm met us and finished up Lisa's pizza. I had told Roy as soon as Dena and I ate dinner, I would be home. But you know that all changed after a pedicure and dinner. OH, we found out yesterday The Nord serves breakfast all day long. so I had an omelet for dinner. Awesome!!! While Malcolm and Kamri headed for BP, we headed for shoes and jewelry. Once we finally said our goodbye's and I picked up my bags, and left it was 9:15 pm.

CourtneyS and I talked on the way home, she had just had another strange happening, second in two days and knew I would appreciate the story. I did. Then I called Roy and he help me in with oh, I don't know around 8 shopping bags. He didn't even freak, he was so happy I had a good time and a good day with friends. I was able to stay awake to hear about his very eventful day and when I headed for the bed, even Buddy must have sensed I was worn out. She didn't push for fun and games before going to sleep.

What an absolutely fun day. It was great! But other than going to the grocery store today, I think I am ensconced at home for the rest of the day.

I will post some pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

There She Was Former Miss America

I don't even know if I should post this...but what the hey, I think I will. Today, Vision America is using the facilities of our church. I'm all for America and I am for Christian Citizenship, but I question the choice of the speaker for the Vision America Ladies Luncheon. Normally, this is not anything I would have attended, not even with the offer of free lunch for staff members. I tried to beg out because my days of attending an event with the offer of a free lunch have long gone by when it is related to my lunch hour at the office. Let's face it, we need the break and free lunch on my hour is very easy for me to turn down. I reluctantly said yes because other friends were going to attend and I love spending time with friends.

Let's just say those who attended the luncheon put me in the category of "young person." It was an older well heeled audience with the exception of my young office friends who were so sweet to save me a place at their table. First off, I was not shocked because I see this behavior more often than not, but Christian women can be down right rude at luncheons. There were only two servers for about 120 women and if refills weren't done fast enough rude looks and comments were aplenty. I am willing to bet a dime there were at least 50 Martha's in that group that could have served and de-plated faster than a 1000 men. I don't know if de-plated is a real term, but it we can deplane, tables can be de-plated. Women talked LOUDLY through the music mainly because it wasn't their cup of tea or it could have been since it was an older audience they are hard of hearing. Maybe they didn't realize people two tables away could hear them asking someone to pass the rolls. Now usually, if you have attended very many women's events, very few women eat bread in public or eat it if there are more than 70 women in attendance. Today was an exception. Even my friends on Weight Watchers weren't satisfied. We were desperate because lunch was a few spinach leaves, mandarin oranges, and almond slivers with three grilled shrimp on a stick. There wasn't a lady like way to de-shrimp the stick and I saw a few shrimp fly across the table into other peoples salad. If that had happened at our table, finders keepers, losers weepers, those shrimp would have been mine.

After some introductions, there she was, Miss America, to speak to conservative Christian women on how to mobilize their church to vote their Christian values. Now I am sure Miss America 1975 who has her PHD in Education has much to say and is probably quite good at subject matter that she regularly speaks on to women...but Christan Citizenship was not her strongest suite and is not listed as one of her topics on her website. While she talked we were amazed by her picture perfect Miss America moves...still going strong after 34years her hand motions and the same sing song voice from all the ghosts of Pageants past. I was waiting with baited breath to hear "world peace" but she never said that. If she had spoken in her swimsuit and high heels I would have listened closer to her message and respecting her even more to have the guts to do that. But as I sit here and think about it, the swimsuit and high heels sounds more suited for a men's prayer breakfast.

I am glad she is active and wants to speak on this subject of taking back America, but in 2007 she is probably not the most relevant voice. Her references were dated and more 1985. She looked visibly uncomfortable speaking to us, the subject was out of her natural comfort zone. It would be as if I were asked to speak on hedge funds, I could read the words, but my voice inflections would be all wrong. I guess some men got together and planned this whole luncheon for the women except for the food, because we would have had chicken fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and banana pudding for dessert if they had planned it. We women would have complained about the heavy meal as we sopped up the gravy with a biscuit and maybe if we were a tad brave ask for a to go box. I am sad that whoever planned this event thought women want to hear from a former Miss America. There is not one time in my whole life I have ever thought, 'what would Miss America do?' 'What does Miss America have to say to me?' If you are thinking well, you don't look like no Miss America that is true now, but if you could have seen me back in the day when I was 6' and weighed a 120 pounds and my hair touched my 18 inch waist, if I wanted to, maybe I could have had a chance. I could have maybe won Miss Sharpstown Mall or something. Actually, when I was in Jr high we made fun of those type of girls and they were too good to be concerned with the likes of us wobbly, unsure and gangly girls who hadn't developed the proper 'frontage matter' like them. Now as a grown up the only thing I might like to hear from a former Miss America is how to use duct tape to enhance those parts of me that gravity has waged war on and has now conquered and occupies with a sagging vengeance.

I can't get back that hour and 15 minutes,but it wasn't a total waste. We decided to order pizza and have it delivered to finish out our lunch. Then at 3:00 there was wedding shower cake to finish off our progressive lunch. We had some Pageant fun in the office and we practiced our turns and hand motions. I didn't tell the girls but it reminded me of my friend Earlene LaFleur from Alexandria, Louisiana. She has been participating in the Miss Louisiana Pageants for years and she is slowly coming to realize her pageant days are nearly ended. She did win Miss Caddo Parrish and won a few Miss Crawdad contests here and there. She was one of the 10 finalists to be a Breck Shampoo girl, but then Breck went out of business and now can only be found in some of the finest Hampton Inns I think she would have done better if beauty school finals had not gotten in her way a couple of times. That girl can highlight some hair. She even had the famous Myrtis Jenkins from Porter designing her pageant dresses and talent costumes. All in all she has had a good time, but Dewayne, her patient long time boyfriend is ready to settle down and get married. He has even told her he will start working in the refinery and give up the life of an offshore roustabout. When she is done walking the stage in an evening gown and swimsuit and singing and twirling fire batons to Midnight Train to Georgia (do not laugh, it is a great performance) Dewayne will be waiting to whisk her off to his mortgage and storm free (for 5 years) double wide.

Well, I have totally digressed and I have to admit it, I've calmed down a little. Earlier in the day I was incensed and a bit angry over the whole deal. What I learned today is, if you want to be Miss America, live in Denton, TX. That is where she is from and I think the great Phyllis George was from that area too. Must be something in the water up there.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Tree Grows on Post Oak and Other Thoughts

This is my little oak tree that hasn't given up and as much as I can love a tree, I love this little tree. Every day when I pull out or in my parking space, I am checking for the tree to return. On Tuesday night I got home around 11:00 pm and I saw it then. I had to keep my joy to myself because I came in and found Roy sound asleep. The next morning I checked on it before leaving for work. I have also been watching a little pine
tree that is growing very near to this one.

As I have mentioned before I love that trees are used as a metaphor in the Bible. We can be trees planted by the water with our roots going deep or we can be shrubs and bushes. Our growth begins as a tiny seed. Both of these trees have a lot of potential but where they have chosen to grow, even if they were left to grow, the roots are not going to be able to go down deep enough to sustain growth. They are in the wrong "container." These trees will never reach their full potential.

You and I have a choice. We can thrive in good soil, with the proper watering of the Word. We can reach our full potential. One of the ways we grow to our full potential is community and relationship with one another. I think that is one of the biggest reasons I love Blogging. What a wonderful way to keep up with friends and family. I love reading the thoughts that friends are working through. I am praying as I read about the journeys that are being taken and about all the change or the continual ruts that are static. The laughter and funny view of life is refreshing and invigorating. Of course I still journal, but a lot of what I put in my blog takes the place of journaling and I find that it is satisfying a creative need in me.

Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. Psalm 92:13.

At times I probably identify too much with these little trees. I mean I am pulling for them and I need to find them good homes. I pulled some weeds today that were growing near by, I didn't want them to get choked out of what little sunlight that comes through the bushes and the carport.

Laurie Johnson has a great blog and has this link to see Napoleon Dynamite as told by bunnies. It is stinkin funny!

Tomorrow is CM and Faylinn's last Sunday at HFBC. He carries a composition book with him all the time and I have been trying to find different colors and kinds to give him. Tomorrow morning I need to bring him some more to the reception for them in The Hub. I cannot tell you how much I am going to miss CM on staff, but I am exceedingly more happy for them as they are walking in God's will and get to be on the ground floor of ministry. I used one of CourtneyS favorite words in that sentence. Never again will they have to hear, well, this is how we've always done it.

Last week, I stopped at Potbellies to get a veggie sandwich. Next door to them is a little boutique and I found something to hang in my office. It is a quote, "Excellence is doing the common in an uncommon way." I LOVED that definition. Since May I have been struggling, no more like wrestling with, what is excellence? A definite definition has never really been given to me in our staff meetings. Some have said that what is excellent for one might not be excellence for another. Between you, me and the above little tree, I think that is a cop out. There is a lot of faux excellence out there, the kind generated out of what is expected not what is from the heart. As I have prayed and asked the Lord to show me what is excellent, He has reminded me of verses that tell me how excellent His Name is in all of the Earth. Of course His Name is above everything that is named. Paul wrote he wanted to show us the more excellent way...and that would be the way of God's agape love. In the book Buck Naked Faith, A Brutally Honest Look at Stunted Christianity, Eric Sandras writes about those Christians that choose to live a stunted life. What happens? Why? He says the decision to live this stunted kind of life comes about from a lifestyle that encourages the appearance of being God's friend without the inner passion and tough choices. Then he gives simple principles that produce successful stunted growth.
  • start with potential
  • pick an attractive pot and prepare the soil
  • limit the water supply and aim for predictability
  • prune excess growth and protect from hardship

Ouch! So then he gives some opposite principles to a (and these are his words) "butt kicking, growing, life-giving friendship with Jesus

  • wake up our potential
  • embrace the power of community and enrich the soil of our lives
  • feel the full reign of God and unleash our God given DNA
  • call forth life and growth in ourselves and in others
  • learn to embrace pain

I have spent the better part of the evening downloading music into iTunes and into my iPod. I was rocking out with Earth, Wind and Fire, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, lots of instrumental music and ended out with Billy Joel, oh yea and some classical music.

As mentioned before CourtneyS has blogged about words. I am working on words I don't like, but I would like to add to words I like. She has already told you I like the word duplicitous. I also like behoove, penurious, specious, participatory, pontificate, and counterintuitive. So far words I dislike, squat and wax. Not too fond of gynecological, but that could be more of a word association. Oh, don't like the word bosom cause most people make it sound like boooooosum.

Well, it is getting late and I guess I should go to bed so I can get up for church in the morning.

Thanks for reading all my randomness.

Once Upon a Time, a Long Time Ago

Once upon at time, a long time ago my dad and mom bought a stereo consul system. It was huge and was actually a piece of furniture. One side pulled out for the radio and the other side slid out for the record player. On the bottom of the cabinet there was a place to store albums and the other side was the speaker. We still lived in the burbs of Chicago when I received this album. I remember when my dad brought home three albums, this one for me, The Four Aces for my mom and an album of jazz for him. Along with my mom's 78 rpm records I entertained myself. When I was finally old enough to get my own record player, I probably felt I was too old to listen to this album full of nursery rhymes, but I have hung onto this all these years. So when I was taking in the Church of the Redeemer albums to convert to CD's I took this one along as well. I have enjoyed listening to these old songs and am amazed at the amount of orchestration and singers that went into these songs. You can hear the harmony in the modulations. I told CourtneyS I would give her the other copy I received. I will let her do a review and if there are any other moms out there, that I know personally, I would be happy to burn a CD for you and yours. It could just be I am nostalgic over this and it really isn't all that good. The TOPS recordings were a $1.49 when all other albums sold for $1.99. I found that out when I googled the title. In fact, I am getting ready to send some pictures of the album to a man that has all the TOPS recordings in a discography and he lacked the picture of this particular album.

Thanks for letting me take a little journey down memory lane. I am off to sing Do You Know the Muffin Man and Chicken-Licken.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Blasts from the Past

This has been an especially busy week. At times it has been an extremely stressful week and yet in the midst of busy and stress I experienced great joy. A beaming and radiant joy and these two albums are the source of the joy in the midst of life this week and in years past. These two album covers and the records in them are so meaningful to me. The music from these albums made an extremely difficult season of life more manageable. The albums are from The Church of The Redeemer here in Houston. God's People Give Thanks is music from the "contemporary" service of back in the day of 1972 and Hallelujah Jesus is King was folk music from their Friday night services. I really don't remember who introduced me to Church of the Redeemer, but I think it was my friend Mary Madeline. It was the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year at Southwest Texas State University...now known as Texas State University. I was searching. I had become a Christian at 16 and by 17 knew there had to be more than what I was experiencing at my Baptist Church. I was very involved in Campus Crusade and that had helped me develop good habits of Bible study and quiet time, but my spirit knew there had to be so much more freedom and worship. My generation introduced "youth musicals" and the freedom to sing peppy songs and wear pants suits that matched wasn't enough for me. I hungered to know God. So one Friday night, my friend Mary Madeline and I went to Redeemer. We had heard of the awesome worship and the painting at the front of the church had to be seen to be experienced. When we walked into the sanctuary, the Spirit of the Living God was so palatable...that feeling went to the very core of my being. To tell you the truth I don't remember one sermon or teaching from the church, but I remember the music...the dancing...the sincere and open worship. Mary Madeline and I would go on Friday nights and when we could, go on Sunday mornings. Looking back, if my parents really had known what part of town the church was in, I don't know if they would have let me gone. But the fact that I wanted to be in church on a Friday night probably held a lot of sway. It was such a magical time...the Spirit of God was being poured out in churches like this all over the country. When I came home on the weekends, I wanted to go to Redeemer. I never became involved in their communities or in the life of the church, I really didn't want to. The church was a place for renewal and filling for me. Once I moved back to Houston to finish out college, I really didn't go back except for once or twice when Mary Madeline was home from Baylor. Even now I have no desire to go back and see if I would experience the same thing. I think God had that for me for that time. When I was at SWTSU I had these albums to keep the memory and the music alive. I must have played the albums every day. I could turn on the music and be right in the midst of God's presence. My first year at college was one of the toughest I have ever experienced yet it was one of the best times of my life. My roommate and I knew each other from high school and church. We had picked out Noah's Ark to decorate our room and we were going to be a beacon light to this perverse generation holding forth the Word of truth...only something happened. About three weeks into the semester, Sherry told me she had been "good" all her life and if she was ever going to experience life it would be at college. She had decided not to walk in the faith but try everything there was out there to try. Needless to say the first semester was full of strife. To make matters worse, I am a night owl, she is a morning person. The second semester she moved out and the girl that moved in spent one whole night in our room. The rest of the time she lived with her boyfriend. What a blessing to have a room of my own. Sherry was telling lies about me and causing me all kinds of grief... I had my albums, my friend Mary Madeline wrote me a note almost every day to encourage me in the Lord, and I had the Lord's friendship and presence that I knew like no other time before.

That brings us to today. Last month I went to Grace Methodist for their day of prayer. Lisa P led the worship and Susan Kirby taught one of the break out sessions. Several of us were talking with Susan after she taught and Church of the Redeemer came up. Susan and I had both gone there and had similar experiences. She brought up the albums and I told her I thought I still had mine and from that time forward we began to research and find someone who could convert albums into CD's. This week Susan found a place that would convert the albums...Sound Works. I took these albums and a kiddie album I have had since the age of 3 to have them done. Yesterday afternoon after one of the busiest and stressful days at work I went to Sound Works and got the CD's. I waited till I got home and began to play and import them into my iTunes. It was if time had never gone by, I was filled with overflowing joy and praise. I remembered the words to the songs although I had not heard them in over 30 years. I listened to them until Roy came home and then I played them for him. This is how much this meant to me, I was going to stay home and not go to the presale at The Nord for the Anniversary Sale. Now you know how serious I am! I left a cryptic message for Susan with the music playing in the background. And this morning, I waited for the call. It came. It came at 8:24 am. Since I knew how happy I was, I knew the same thing would happen for her. So, I took the CD's out to her office at Living Proof. Let me tell you, there was joy on her face as she heard the first strum of the guitar... we had such a nice visit. I looked at my watch and realized she probably needed to get back to work and she asked me if I would like to stay and have lunch with she, Evangeline and Kimberly. So, I went shopping with Evangeline and picked up a couple of things I had wanted to buy and like Kimberly said, time flies at LP. It does. We went for Barbecue that was totally awesome, but it was the fun, laughter and visiting at the table that blessed me beyond measure. I love God and how He knits hearts together and there is joy in the midst. That was something I didn't expect but it was pure delight to spend lunch with such fine and fun sistas in the Lord. Although for a moment in the backseat of Susan's car, I thought Kimberly might pinch Evangeline cause she had never shared with them 92.1 and the Yolanda Adams with Brother Larry Jones show. If you know Yo...you'll be blessed...for those of you who don't that is the name of one of her songs.

I headed back toward home after lunch, over to Mrs. Baker's and to church to take care of a few odds and ends before Sunday. This week in between one of the Admins quitting and taking care of her unfinished work there was good news from Becky, she and Chris are engaged. There was a lot of happy screaming in the Ministries office Tuesday morning. Some of us found out on Wednesday that Courtney Synott is pregnant with twins...more happy screaming. That kind of screaming is so much better than the silent scream when we are pulling our hair out instead of trusting the one who calmed the storm. It was a week when I had what I call a 5000 mile check up with my therapist Cheryl. It was a great visit and we are going to meet once a month as she now becomes a coach to help me map out a future and a dream. Although, I guess when I need a visit back to the past she is there with the tools to help me navigate that journey. I did get to The Nord and pre bought some suede red Steve Madden shoes...I tried to buy some red boots, but they didn't have them yet. I bought some fall and winter clothes and fall makeup. OK, this is just getting sad when you have to change make up with the seasons... more blog on that at a later time. It was a week when Peggy and I got our plans made for our trip to Alabama at First Baptist Trussville and had fun conversation in between. What fun to text with Lisa while I was trying on shoes to get her savvy fashion opinion. My friend Beth who lives in Seattle wrote me a long letter that I plan to read a thousand more times before I begin to write her back. Laurie Johnson asked if we could meet for coffee or dinner sometime soon and we are making plans towards that. OEG will get his first Nord experience next Thursday evening when he meets Roy and I for dinner. Dena let me come over with my albums on Monday night when it wasn't a convienent time for her to see if the albums would play or if they were warped before taking them to Sound Works. I got a raise and got to see that on my check today. Bible study was Tuesday night and we had great sharing and double desserts. My little friend Caroline was in the office this week and made the hours go by quickly as we made sentences together with my word blocks and told each other funny things. Roy didn't have to work quite as late this week and we went out for Mexican food on Wednesday night, something we don't usually get to do. Courtney Schis came by and sang the wishing song for Jason and me. Then CourtneyS and I wrote a comment to Amanda that just cracked us up. Although, I believe some of her commenters must think we were serious and not nice. I got to meet on blog Amber who shared in our sense of humor. I got my music and I heard my 24 Kiddie Favorites for the first time since childhood. Well, I heard it at Dena's on Monday night...but you know what I mean.

You see, if I thought of it off the top of my head, I might have said what a bad week it was. I didn't get a chance to blog, I was busy beyond measure and I was busy holding worlds together that were seeming to colliade at will and with a vengance. God is here in the center of it all. He brought delight and surprise to my life this week. For this I am thankful. And to top it all off, when I got home late Tuesday night, I thought my eyes were deceiving me... I had to get out and investigate further. There it was in the dark of night and it was still there in the light of Wednesday morning, the little oak tree has begun growing again. A Little Tree Grows

Monday, July 9, 2007

It Came Today!!!

After a long, busy day at work, what I had been waiting for was in the mail when I got home...the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Catalogue. I have a quick perusal and will devote some study time to it later.
It was tough getting up at 6:00 am to go to work. For the most part my time off was relaxing and fun. I came back to the office and although there was a ton of stuff to do, I was very entertained all day. Let me give you a pictorial of my day.

First I needed to show you how busy I am. OK, I posed for the picture, but I look like this many days.

Lunch was fun but became more entertaining when Steven W. Murray sat with us complete with hairnet. He knows the Lord knows the number of hairs on his head, but wanted them held together so that the count would be correct. The fun ended when he placed his hairnet on top of my Lime Diet Coke and of course that is where the fun ended for me.

Not to be outdone was OEG and his tisket a tasket he was wearing a basket. Now don't make fun of OEG, he is Episcopalian and he can't help it. He is confused and thought it is Easter and he is wearing his Easter bonnet or he thinks he is Moses and is hiding in a basket in the bulrushes waiting for an Egyptian Princess to find him. Oh OEG...from the West siiiii eeeeeed.

This Jenel and this is who I see when I look out my window that looks into the office suite. Not a bad view. Although, I could have used some other pictures that would have made you think otherwise. It is not Jenel's fault, I am not that great of picture taker. She is fun and she is great in Excel. I need all the Excel help I can get.

This is my friend Caroline. Her mom is the Children's Camp Coordinator and is in the office this week. We had a great time this afternoon. Look you can see Jenel in the background.
Welcome to my work world on this particular Monday. Although we work hard, we have fun together. Please do not think this is a waste of tithe dollars...cause this is your tithe dollars hard at work...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

New Mercies,New Mercies, New Mercies!!!!

I was in the middle of a post yesterday and I realized, it can't be posted, but sitting here working out my feelings in print was a catharsis. I worked through issues and conversation that periodically crops up in life. It was a phone call that put me over the line for a little bit of time yesterday. I should have seen it coming, but the week had been so relaxing and so fun, the call caught me off guard. There was a day when one of these phone calls would have knocked me out for a couple of weeks. Conversation with this person is like a field full of land mines and fortunately I let the call go to voice mail before making the return call. I stopped and prayed and asked the Lord for wisdom. I have been watching some DVD's from Wising Up that Beth did last semester. The review was so timely.

The reason for the call was specious and by the end of the conversation duplicity had run its full course. Like I said, conversation with this person is like walking through a field of land mines and you never know which emotional bomb will be set off, the victim mentality or pure meanness and anger. Both of them were set off because I kept the conversation in the now and present. This person wanted to bring up the past and talk of a future that might not even happen. As frustrating as the conversation was, on the inside I was kind of laughing. I had asked God for wisdom and He was fulfilling His end very nicely and I also was laughing cause I was using the tools that my therapist has given me for dealing with this person, and I was getting my monies worth. Believe me I have a lot of money invested in how to exist with and respond to this person.

When I was finally able to get off the phone I wanted to cry and be angry. Just at that moment my phone rang with Lisa P's ring. She was coming home from the hairdresser and had heard something stinkin funny on 92.1. I got to laugh and laugh so hard tears of relief came. So, I didn't have to shed tears of hurt. I told her about the conversation and how God was using her at that moment. As I was telling her this, I looked straight ahead into one of our bookcases. My eye caught the title of a book I read after my surgery two years ago this week, "New Mercies." This work of secular fiction had opened my eyes to the new mercies of God two years ago. This morning while getting my stuff together for church I couldn't find my notebook, but found one I had used a couple of years ago and read a quote from "New Mercies" that I had written in it.

" A friend long days ago told me about God's unending mercies. I didn't believe him at the time, but then I met Billy. I've learned that the Lord never abandons us. Like the Bible says, His mercies are new every morning." P.159 New Mercies, by Sandra Dallas

"The Lord give us love like a new mercy every and each morning. He got all kind of love to give us. Maybe it ain't what you want, but the Lord got His reasons. God don't want us to be left lonesome on this green earth. Any love's a gift of God. Honey baby, maybe the Lord give you this place as your new mercy, to stop the hurting." p.295 "New Mercies," by Sandra Dallas

Now I ain't going to lie to you and tell you that from that moment on, the rest of the day was all sunshine and happiness...it's Houston for gosh sakes, we had a thunderstorm! No really, even this morning I felt the effect of the conversation. Roy and I even had a little spat before he left to go pray for the 9:10 service and nearing 30 years of marriage, we desire to walk in God's love with each other so we don't have these spats and I stepped out of that love for a time, thus the spat. Spat is a funny looking word... Sorry, I got off task there... Anyway, I found him after the 9:10 service and apologized in person, I had already left a message on his phone for him as well.

I once read that God calls us to be faithful in the little opportunities that present themselves every day. If we are faithful in today, that set us up for what God desires for tomorrow. If we put together days well lived we will have a decade of divine direction. Put several decades together and you have a calling fulfilled, all by living faithfully day by day. In that conversation I was faithful to honor this person cause it is commanded in the Bible and even a desire in my life. God was faithful to provide the way out of anger, seculsion, pity and dislike. And more so the way for me not go out and put this all on someone else. Now that is huge to me...I love Him so!!!

Thanks for reading through these thoughts. I love that God brings the same message back to me this week, His new mercies are new every morning. His compassions don't fail. I'm in a different place in life than two years ago, but His Word is Alive. It is active and sharper than any two edged sword. His Word is a light to my path and His Word is hidden in my heart.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Note to Self

Note to Self- Next time buy more than one sweet potato quesadilla at Rice Epicurean. I just came home from the store and bought ONE for my lunch. I may need to make a return trip to get some more, of course for Roy to try. Y'all the are freakin awesome!!! (note to self within note to self, I am watching too much of the Sopranos on A&E) Recipe looks to be sweet potato, a little bit of onion, a bit of pico de gallo and some other sauce that makes it tres delicious...perfect combo of sweet and spicy.


Good Morning. For those of you who don't live in Houston we are experiencing sunshine. We are beside ourselves not knowing what to do. In a little bit I need to get out and run errands, but I have been trained well, I will bring my umbrella with me.
Today is considered a lucky day to get married. I was just talking with Lisa P and we both agreed it has nothing to do with a lucky date, cause that isn't going to help anything when you get into the marriage and you actually begin acting like yourself. But honey, we were married on the luckiest day of the year that is why I am asking you once again to throw your socks and underwear into the hamper. That is what that large wicker deal is in the bathroom. It is not to hang towels on.

I am kind of sad this morning. I have been off from work since Wednesday and this was my last day to sleep in. I am going to miss easing into the morning and actually starting the day after noon. Wonder if I can talk Jason into this schedule, but I would still want to leave at 4:30.

Yesterday was a totally fun day. Spending time with the nieces is always fun. Erin is Nancy Mon Jr. Megan is stinkin' funny with her dry sense of humor. When they first began visiting us we always made a trip to Barnes and Noble for books. As they grew a trip to Sweet Tomatoes was always the plan. Such sweet memories of teaching the girls Tommy Tomato and other fun with vegetables. It is an Aunt's duty to teach such things. Now we share the love of all things Nord.

While Erin was trying on shoes, Dena found a pair that she loved. It is the very same pair that I blogged about in May. He Wasn't Elsie the Borden Cow This post includes a picture of the shoe I saw online and LOVED and even put them in my shopping basket knowing I would never buy them because of the 3 inch heel. But, Dena tried them on and she bought them.
Those are some fine looking shoes and even though I am a tab bit jealous, I am glad a friend bought them.
I got a call on Thursday from The Nord and I wish I had let it go to my voicemail. The call was to let us know that Roy's suit was ready. When I answered the phone they said may I speak to Reverend Monarch? Can I tell you what great joy I had in responding, this is her?
Roy has not had a fun fourth week. He is in the throes of quarter close and it is taking up a great deal of his time. Since he knew he would not get home until after 7:00 yesterday, I asked Dena if she would like to grab a quick dinner last night. We went to Los Cucos and treated ourselves to the guacamole they make for you at your table. It was muy bueno! And after a delicious Mexican meal what can be better than a stop at Sonic for some ice cream. The thing I love about Sonic besides their ice, ice cream and drinks is the fact of the interesting characters you encounter at The Sonic Drive In. Maria who takes the orders mumbles and can hardly be understood...welcome back to Sonmmmicc and when she repeats back the order it sounds like she has responded back in an unknown tongue and you find yourself looking around for an interpreter to know the meaning of the mangled words. But the guy who delivered the cherry coke, vanilla diet coke, and the sundaes enunciated his words so distinctly and well so loudly. Dena and I got so tickled cause we could hear the orders of everyone around us when he delivered it. I think they need to switch these two. We even had to do a call back cause I brought Roy home a chicken sandwich. You had to love this guy cause we gave him a tip and he brought it back as change... Dena and I were so entertained by the whole Sonic experience that we could not quit laughing. Add to this that we both had to wee wee like wild women. When she dropped me off I told her she should come in but the home was a wreck. She thought she could make it home. So of course I am trying to get out of her car with all my stuff without stepping into the water and it was a comedy of errors, taking much longer than it should have. Later that evening she called talking like the Sonic guy and we started it up again. It is so much better when one can laugh relieved of the pressure.
So that is the randimondiums of yesterday. I am going to run some errands, go to the Play Grocery store for beverage, berries and beef day and then read all afternoon, maybe with a nap thrown in for good measure.
This just in, I have a Fern sighting. She hasn't been able to get out to the pool and tan because of the overcast days. I am happy to report her toes are wiggling out there in the sun. She must be reading a very racy book this morning.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

These are my nieces Megan and Erin. Megan is on the right and Erin is on the left...that is Aunt Foo Foo in the middle. They are in Houston for a quick visit before they go on a cruise with their mom, aunt and grandmother. We were able to grab a little time with them last night at my parents. This morning we all met up at...you all know what I am going to write...The Nord, with side trips to Urban Outfitters and Dylan's Candy Store. It was a very productive shopping outing. We met Nancy and Dena for lunch at the Bistro. Then at 1:00 we were at the SPA for pedi's.

Every girl has to have great looking toes when you are going to Jamacia, the Caribbean, and Cozumel. I have discipled Megan and Erin in the ways of The Nord. They love The Nord and there is a rumor The Nord is going to open in Nashville. That is where they live. What a great way to spend a soggy, wet Friday in Houston shopping, lunch, pedi's, laughter and fun all at The Nord. My sister in law reminded me she was an early convert to the ways of The Nord. When The Nord opened in Dallas, she was there on the opening day. She was waiting in the Clinque line. Megan was little and Erin a toddler. Erin had asthma and needed her breathing treatment. The line was about 45 people deep. Someone held her place in line while she took Erin to the restroom to do the treatment and came back to the line. That story just warms my heart. She raised those girls right.

You might be thinking hmm...I thought you were the Rev of the Nord, but referred to yourself as Aunt Foo Foo. Well, that is what the girls call me sometimes. When Megan was little I called to her, " Hey, Foo Foo, come here." Megan's feelings were hurt that I didn't say her name and I told her sometimes when I can't remember someones name...I call them Foo Foo. From that day on I had my new Aunt name. Megan is Foo, Erin is Foo Two and there are others that we have given Foo names over the years, but never their mom. Nancy still wants a Foo name and we say No Foo name for you. Really, she has a Foo name...No Foo.

This is Uncle Fancy Pants and the girls last night. He also has another name given by the girls, Uncle Fartlando...but I don't think any explanation is needed for that name. Truth be told he never "earned" that name, they just gave it to him.

Dena, Megan and Erin posed for pictures in the shoe dept. I will have to write a separate post about Dena's new shoes. Let's just say they are drop dead gorgeous and I am going to live vicariously through Dena when she is wearing them. I am just jealous over those shoes. Anyway, Dena has been a good friend to Megan and Erin through the years. I need to scan in pictures from a few years ago when the girls were much younger and they gave Dena a new Do.

Well, it has been a fun day, well mostly a fun day. Getting home from The Nord was a feat in itself. I dodged most of the high water and only hit one patch that was a little higher than I like. Since June 1st Houston has had only 3 days without rain. I was happy to make it home safe and sound.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thank God I Don't Have Amnesia

In Houston, you know it is not a good sign when you wake up to the sound of multiple helicopters. You're not too sure whether it is an accident or an incident for that kind of news coverage. This morning the West Loop South bound going toward the Galleria was closed at Memorial to Westheimer. A truck had accidentally dumped gravel all over the freeway. This meant our little street would be backed up with traffic cutting through. So, when I left this morning a very kind lady let me out of our driveway, right off, I didn't have to wait for several cars for compassion. While sitting in traffic I was listening to Praise 92.1. KSBJ is too boring and too repetitive, anyway the song on the radio got my attention. The words were, "thank God I don't have amnesia, thank God I'm not deaf." Strange lyrics, but then I began to really listen to the song and what the woman was singing about was, she didn't have amnesia because she remembered all the times God was faithful and good to her and not deaf because she could hear Him speak to her. I immediately loved that song and thought how appropriate to what I was thinking about this morning and thanking God for during my prayer time.

Two years ago in June I was like the woman in the Bible with an issue of blood. I had gone to several DR.'s and received no help...more like just wait and see how this plays out and scheduling tests so distant in the future, I wasn't sure I could make that. I called another DR and went to see him. He was compassionate to my needs and after several tests told me, we will do surgery for your quality of life. I drove home, called Roy to let him know surgery was scheduled for the end of June and I was happy that my condition was going to be taken care of. By the time I got home, I had several calls from my Dr asking me to call him when I heard the message. What had gone from quality of life had turned into, we found a suspicious tumor and we won't know until we get in and test it if it is cancer or not. I felt so alone in that moment because I could not get a hold of Roy and I couldn't find a friend except one and asked if we could meet cause I had news that disturbed me and she wasn't able to do that. Stunned, I sat there on our bed and cried...cause I think that is the first emotion...not that I didn't have faith, but at that moment I felt all alone and in shock at this news. After some bit of time Roy was finally out of his meeting and I told him. Great man of faith that he is, he prayed for me right then and there. It was going to be a while before he could get home, so I just sat here in stunned silence trying to get my emotions and thoughts together. I went back to the Dr for all the pre-op stuff and he told me since I had been on anti-inflamatories since 1983 I needed to be off of them for several weeks before surgery, so that moved it to July 5th. Those weeks were some long ones for me, but God was so faithful. Although I felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath my feet, He gave me strength, because I was hobbling around with knee pain and tired as all get out from...loss of...oops, let me put it this way, anemia. In this same time there were several emotionally draining situations going on and I like the woman in the Bible was crawling physically, spiritually and emotionally to just touch the hem of His garment. I was praying and friends were praying...people I didn't know were praying that the tumor would not be cancer.

Finally July 5th came and I had successful surgery...the tumor was benign. A couple of days later when my Dr was doing his rounds, he sat there on the edge of the bed waiting for me to wake up. When I did we had a wonderful conversation. All through the visits I had with him, I was sharing Christ because he is not saved. He told me the real reason he had waited till July for surgery was because the oncologist he likes to work with was not available until the 5th and everything he saw pointed to this tumor being cancer. He was amazed it wasn't. I was able to share with him again God's faithfulness and even while I was home recovering he called and asked if I would talk to a patient of his who was having the same surgery, with the same kind of suspicious tumor... He said he thought of me because I had something in common with this patient. When I talked with her I knew why, she was a new believer and she had been witnessing to him as well. The weeks I had off to recover were some of the best weeks I have ever spent with the Lord. He showed me that His mercies are truly New every morning. My cry become new mercies, new mercies, new mercies and my thanksgiving to Him resounded thank you for the new mercies, new mercies, new mercies. He did new things in me and brought new people in my life. It was a joyous wonderful time of refreshing and I felt like God Himself sat here in the living room with me walking me through each step of the journey. He used the Admin's at First tremendously in my life during that time, He cemented my friendship with Lisa P, Peggy was my back up for rides and my faithful friend during those days and weeks. All those who came and took me to lunch and dinner at the Nord once I was able to get out and about were plentiful. Mary Helen came over and took me to lunch and brought me boxes of goodies from Three Brothers Bakery...Sue, Barbara and Nell brought us meals. My heart was touched that the first meal we received was from Betsey, a married young adult in our church, who had lost a toddler who had drowned in their pool a year or so before...she ministered to us that day.

Thank God I don't have amnesia, thank God I am not deaf. Thank God for the incredible gift of His presence during my recovery. Thank God, I came out on the other side of this healthy. Thank God that during this time my emotional health grew stronger. I will always be thankful for His new mercies that are new every morning and as much as possible when it depends on me, I want to give the grace of new mercies to others.

I began this post several days ago and find myself still so thankful today on July 5th. This morning as I thought about all of the events, moments and happenings during that season, there are still some unanswered questions. I don't have the answer of why to some of the stuff that happened. Some of the pain and hurt from that time has healed, some hurts are scabs and some pain is still unvoiced...but it doesn't matter. The mercies of God are new. Hebrews tells us come to the throne of Him who loves us to receive mercy and grace, that discipline seems hard at the time, but He knows it all and He has our "certain good" in mind for us. I have experienced His certain good.

July 5th After a Fabulous 4th

Here is Peggy and her granddaughter Allie on the 4th of July. On Monday Peggy has some of her veins stripped so that is why she is wearing the one leg of panty hose.

The day started off rainy and overcast but turned into a partly sunny afternoon which evolved into a cool evening to sit and watch fireworks. I headed out to the Bains in the late afternoon to celebrate the 4th. It was great fun celebrating the day with their family and friends. Roy was stuck at the office with the quarter close from______. We were going to make a doggy bag to bring him of brisket, potato salad, my salad, sausage, beans, fruit salad and banana pudding, but we ate just about everything. From the vantage of their front porch we could see the fireworks at Katy Mills Mall and fireworks from the surrounding neighborhoods. The show we were waiting for was their neighbors across the way. He puts on a spectacular show that rivals professional shows. We were not disappointed. As I drove home along the Westpark Toll Road, I was treated to fireworks almost all the way into Houston. What an enjoyable ride home.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Little Housekeeping

I think I saw some of this sun this afternoon as I left work. It was welcomed, maybe fleeting, but oh so happy to see sun. And I believe I did see it smiling just like this one.
To those who need to be discipled in the way of The Nord, my response would be in the form of a song
"Strength will rise as we go into The Nord, we will go into The Nord, we will go into The Nord." Laurie we should meet for lunch or even dinner one day so that you can walk in the way of the Nord. No turning back...no turning back. As for the "IF" of a massage, there is nothing to fear. The first time I got one I asked tons of questions and let them know I was a rookie. If you decided to have victory over the "IF" and go you go to the Nord...ask for Stacy...she is the best and assuages any fear you may have.
Oh, this is blog housekeeping not real housekeeping although I should be doing some of that.
On Saturday I was talking to Courtneys and she was telling me the funniest story about camp and how the girls would take out the middle slats on the beds. You had to have help to get out of the bed when you sat down on it. They would slowly sink into the middle. We were laughing so hard at her memory of that time. She has laughed at many of my stories. I wish writing them would do them justice, but many stories need the voice accents to fully get the story across. I have a friend who says this all the time, "sometimes it is good to laugh." Well duh, of course it is. I think she has a guilt complex over having a good time and letting loose a big ol belly laugh. Laughing through tears or laughing so hard as you try to talk...love that kind of laughter. May I remind you Proverbs says it is good medicine. I have written how Peggy and I laughed so hard on stage we wet our pants, sitting in the car in San Antonio and laughing with Lisa P and I am sure people probably thought we were drunk, but we weren't. Dena and I can just start talking and say a key word from some past laughfest and we are doubled over. So, in the spirit of good laughter and being set free for a holiday, please share some of your favorite laughter moments. Again, many of these really need to be voiced...so maybe we should all meet at the Bistro in the Nord...now that I am the Rev, I believe I shall start calling it the Fellowship Center or the Connection Center... Anyway, if you care to share...send some laughter my way. I love a good story.