Friday, January 31, 2014

500 Words of Thankfulness

500 words a day challenge for January is over today.  I have written at least 500 words everyday this month whether it was on my blog or in my journal.  It was a fun challenge because I love to write, whether it is interesting or not,  or if it is edifying or has purpose and of course many blog posts are just a little something about a lot of little events or insights that don't make a hint of sense.  500 words. 

I have been reading several Madeleine L'Engle nonfiction books and several times the theme of approaching life with a sense of wonder and with childlike enthusiasm, has enlightened my way of thinking through challenges or issues.  As adults we reason too much and talk ourselves out of things.  I know I often say to myself, you can’t do that!  Whereas, a child doesn’t know to think or reason themselves out and approaches a piece of paper, word and colors with an unclouded approach.    When I had lunch with my friend Bev yesterday, she encouraged me to approach some of my journaling with childlike excitement.  She had no idea what I had been reading and then thinking through.  Some might be thinking uh Nancy; you don’t need any encouragement with the childlike thing.  No, please don’t confuse childish for childlike.  At lunch Bev showed me some of her work in her mixed media book, she is a gifted artist.  Her words about my blog and writing were so welcomed and such a gift to me.  I can get discouraged.  Then today, Stevie, hairstylist extraordinaire, gave my spirit a lift as she talked to me about my writing.  Both instances, such appreciated gifts of encouragement and words, divine gifts as it were from the Lord.  For this I am thankful.

This morning as the gray sky turned into ashen daybreak, my reading was interrupted by sirens, lots and lots of sirens.  Out here in Rancho De Five, seldom is heard the wail of a siren like in the city.  For almost thirty minutes the steely color of the day was enhanced with the siren alarm and the flashing lights of the fire trucks.  Something had to be happening, but couldn’t find anything on Twitter or Facebook.  The water feature was beginning to fog in and that is when it dawned upon me, that there must be a fire.  The aroma of burnt was infused in the air.  A house across Rancho De Five Blvd was on fire.  A house in the gated section of million dollar homes but happily found out later that the family was able to get out and no injuries.  Well, no physical injuries. 

Roy and I met at Luby’s for lunch and then he did early registration for Costco at their kiosk in Katy Mills Mall.  He had our old cards.  When we moved, we no longer saw any reason to keep our membership.  Now with Costco opening this next week, we await the grand opening and once again access to their delicious roasted chicken. 

Today, now in over 500 words, I once again find myself thankful.  Thankful for so much!  We are blessed!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shhh! Library Time

I am at the Rancho De Five library taking in the quiet.  A table was vacated so I moved from the comfy chair to the table.  This is a happening place in a quiet sort of way.  Downstairs excited children are looking through the shelves searching for a new read.  Upstairs serious students and those like me seeking asylum from stores and busy restaurants and from Chris who is at our home cleaning.  I will probably go back early to check in with her but I am going to miss these days when she finishes before it gets dark.  In the spring and summer she tends to stay later.  I have the casita bedroom I can take refuge in.

Well, it is Thursday morning.  As much as I tried to blog at the library, my ADD kicked in big time.  I was so tempted to walk through the stacks of nonfiction and actually did an online search.  I had my journal with me and I needed to get a few thoughts down while my reflecting brain was in gear.  I also brought a couple of books.  There was a squirrel to watch, wow, really ADD yesterday.  Its nest was in the top most branches of the tree and watching it climb and maneuver on the branches of the tree was attention grabbing.  Several times an announcement about craft time for all ages tempted me for a second to go check it out but I didn't think being out crafted by some five year olds would make me feel very good. 

I am so glad I came home early because Chris is changing our time to Thursday morning.  I am so thrilled with that news!  Wednesdays are not the most convenient but dang, she is so good, I was willing to deal with that inconvenience. 

Made a Target run for a few things we needed and a few things we didn't.  With all this dental work being done, dental products have my attention.  When Roy and I were on vacay in September at the Biltmore, is when I noticed that I clenched my mouth while sleeping.  Consciously I would try to relax my mouth and jaws but would wake up clenching.  So, I'm probably grinding my teeth too.  Then I noticed how much I clench my mouth during the day and in stressful moments I really put a lot of pressure on my teeth.  Here I thought I was dealing with things that make me angry in such a godly way since there has not been those outbursts, but I am compensating with that pressure.  No wonder I have little fractures in my teeth now.  Ugh!  Another bit of news from the dentist appointment on Monday, my immune system, which hasn't been that great since 2008, is playing havoc with me and has attacked some of my teeth.  She has a plan to diminish the attacks and for this I am so thankful.  Now I see why I went through several words to finally come to my One Word which is persevere or as Beth Moore says, persa-dang-vere.  I am not going to lie, this has been very painful and this being said by a person who has a very high threshold of pain.  I know there is more pain to come with the remedy.  At Target yesterday I bought a mouth guard to wear at night.  Oh that Roy, what a lucky, lucky man. 

Today I am meeting a friend for lunch.  Then I plan to get back into reading.  A perfect day for it, overcast. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Post Vortex

Life in Rancho De Five should go back to the natural and normal rhythms of daily life.  Kids in school and surely the grocery stores have restocked from panic buying.  On the news last night one reporter was at a bakery that was doing wild and busy business.  Seems that when it is cold or rainy bakery goods are the food of choice in the genre of comfort.  By the end of the week it will be in the 70's and this cold artic blast will soon be forgotten.  These cold, overcast days are quickly coming to an end.  For most, that is welcomed news but for me I am a bit saddened because I love this weather. 

Being funny, Roy sent me an email he had received from Starwood Group of Hotels, advertising a reasonably priced stay in Hawaii.  I know he sent this to tease me because I must be the only person in the world NOT remotely interested in going to Hawaii. 

Having an open day yesterday did not produce productivity in any way around here.  I think partly due to the hangover from the pain pill I took before going to bed.  But, I forget that taking in the silence and quiet of a day is be-ing productive for my spirit.  I didn't even read that much but I did get the new piece of furniture unpacked and into the living room.  It looks rather nice.  And I remembered to do a roast in the crock pot. 

Monday evening after eating a smashed up dinner after all the dental work, I was camped out on the couch and Roy was in the study working on a few things when the doorbell rang.  So, the study is close by the front door and Roy yells, it's some couple standing at our door.  I am so sure they heard him and he opens the door and then steps outside to talk with them.  We mainly do this because of Buddy but I figured it was someone from the church we visited on Sunday.  I take some dishes to the kitchen before going to join Roy at the door.  I am sure I looked quite the sight...think I had my Einstein hair going on.  They had brought us a gift from the church, I invited them in but they declined.  We stood out in the courtyard freezing and they wrapped up their visit with us.  Thankfully, they didn't ask if they could pray with and for us before they left.  They looked like long pray-er types.  We went back inside and we both said together, they should have called before dropping in.  So, we had pretty much drawn a line through that church on the list and the pop in visit sealed the deal.   The couple was very nice but still, a call beforehand would have been nice and I would have probably discouraged the visit since we aren't interested.  Oh well.

I just returned home from a fun brunch with friends.  Great food and a wonderful time to catch up with those whose lives are on a different road right now.  You also get the skinny on new projects coming up out here on the prairie since several ladies are politically connected.  Very fun. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another Day of Polar Vortex or Something....

Once again we find ourselves in the middle of the worst ice, sleet, snow, light rain shower of the century.  There are a few liquid drops of potential winter precip on some of the windows.  Word on Facebook and Twitter, the grocery stores have been picked clean of provisions for two of the worst hours of below freezing temps. Fortunately, I had the foresight yesterday to stop in at The Fresh Market after my appointment at the oral surgeon.  Truthfully, it was my plan to stop there no matter what the weather forecast.  You know how it is when you have a remaining balance on a gift card.  I picked up dinner and some banana pudding.  Probably the unnecessary trip to Barnes and Noble would count as my panic buying.  Lord knows, I don't have any to be read books around here. 

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment at the dentist for a new buildup and fitting for a new crown, for a tooth, not my head.  It was an ancient of days crown and there was a lot of work to do.   I am so glad I decided to go see Dr. Geer, but I call her Carol since I have known her since high school, because she is very good at what she does. Thank you Allison for reminding me she is a dentist.  They had told me I would probably have some pain from the procedure and they were so right.  Glad I have some leftover pain pills from surgery a couple of weeks ago.  She thinks we caught this in time before having to have a root canal.  Ugh!  I'm still a little sore this morning but an improvement from last night. 

Since Katy ISD closed schools today, the decision was made not to have leadership council for CBS today.  Which in turn means, we will not meet Thursday.  I will miss seeing everyone but thankful for an additional ease into the day morning, make that two days of easing. 

This morning I read where at classmate from high school had passed away yesterday from early onset Alzheimer's.  Wow, she and I went to school together and we also went to the same church when we were children.  It makes one stop and reflect especially since she had been afflicted with this for several years according to her sister. 

If the roads aren't iced over we should be getting a UPS delivery today.  It is a chest/table going into the family room.  Once it gets here that should keep me occupied for a while but for now the books are calling out to me.  I will also keep an eye on the bird bath and if the water freezes.  Nothing like a good bird landing on a sheet of ice. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014


With temperatures in the 70's, it is a beautiful, sunshiny day.  There is a breeze steady and constant and the chimes outside the front door play a rapid beat.  The doves are relaxing on the fence but they don't have their feathers puffed out for warmth.  Neighbors are walking around the water feature with their small ones on trikes, in strollers or doing the flat footed toddler run a few steps ahead.  We stayed on the prairie this morning and visited a neighborhood church.  Another one can be marked off the list.  Roy and I went to brunch afterwards at Las Alamada's.  Very well done with a varied menu to chose from.  What's not to like about having pancakes and eggs with chips and salsa as an appetizer and afterwards a chaser to get the sweet taste out.  Roy wanted to make a quick stop at Home Depot to pick up one more insulated tube for a pipe outside.  We marveled at the fact we were arriving home at 12:15 and had a very full morning. 

Yesterday, our church tweeted;  "Generosity creates gratitude! Thank the Lord for all He has given you, for your life, and for how blessed you are."  I think this is a very true statement but I also think it can be reversed, gratitude creates generosity.  In my story, I think the latter has been true.   I think gratitude creates generosity.  Being grateful and thankful is central to how we live out this life of forgiveness with gratitude.  I have written this so many times on this blog and on Facebook and on Twitter; one of my favorite quotes by Erwin McManus.  "A life of gratitude makes us WHOLE, overwhelms us with LOVE, and moves us to LIVE generous lives."  This is my testimony, going from being bitter and feeling so much was owed to me, to experiencing gratitude and the divine work it did to make me whole.  Pre-gratitude life involved seeing everything in a negative and cynical way.  I was trapped by my bitterness.  Erwin McManus continues in the book Stand Against the Wind, that bitterness destroys relationships. impairs our judgment, skews our perspective and distorts our memories.  Gratitude of God's grace changes our perspective of life and I began to experience life rather differently. 

Ask  God to open your eyes and lead you where He gets the glory and lives are changed by living out a life of gratitude and generosity.  Generosity to people who work in service industries could be life changing.  So many times Christians have that rep of leaving a tract instead of 20%.  Roy and I often go to the same places to eat, not because we are stuck in a rut, but we are looking for opportunities to get to know the wait staff and look for ways to serve them.

 Every Sunday in church we sit by people who are struggling and losing hope whether it be financially, emotionally or spiritually.   I know that feeling because many, many years ago, we were there.  We were doing everything we knew to do after a job reversal, relevant term that means job loss.  Our income decreased significantly as we tried to stay current on our mortgage and buy groceries.  We were both looking for jobs.   Praise God, we never defaulted or were late on that house payment, but we were discouraged. Life was so hard.   But then, jobs...turn around...our outlook and attitude changed.  I once told Roy, I love the corporate life because his CPA and Law dues were not being paid by us and we weren't footing the bill for continuing education hours for both licenses.  It did change the way we give and Roy has a soft place for young men who struggle with job loss. 

A good way to keep a grateful heart is to remember how other's generosity changed your life for the good, God way.  I am thankful for Sunday School teachers who were generous with their time.  I am thankful for friends who have and still do walk through life's difficult roads giving generously of their time and words.  I think of timely gifts that have been given and the person giving had no idea the need it was meeting.  I'm thankful for those who have been generous with their written words and have been a strong help with those cards and letters.  I'm even thankful for those who I have watched be less than generous with their lives, done the least, given the cheapest and justified their actions and they have been a great reminder, I do not want to walk in their path.  I'm grateful for those who don't pigeon hole me and extend generosity in praying for my growth, change and transformation. 

I found this quote in my journal and I have no idea where I read this, but it is good. 

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger to a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."  Melody Beattie

Generosity is a lifestyle, it is our life hidden in Christ.  Generosity speaks volumes, louder and better  with that overflow of love.    It is Colossians 3:3- our real life.  Yep, either way generosity creates gratitude or gratitude creates's true. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Labels and Names

We survived Sleetaggedon yesterday.  As the temperatures warmed up, all the melting ice from our roof came down like a gentle rain or the ice crashed to the ground like when a glacier calves.  I spent the morning reading and working on my journal.  Roy spent most of the day working from home.  He gets cabin fever before I do, so by the late afternoon he was ready to get out of the house for a bit and he chose to go workout.  I remained ensconced with books and a bit of dove watching.  At one time we must have had thirty doves sitting on the fence and around the bird feeder.  I took some time to look through the three editions of Boys and Girls Bookshelf  I found on Thursday.  Because I always want to learn, I practiced drawing a cat using squares and triangles that I found in the Wonder and Play edition.  These books are rather entertaining with poems, stories and knowledge, mixed with a bit of wisdom. 

Roy returned from working out, tired and cold.  Dena, Roy and I had been discussing dinner plans throughout the day but once he came home, he was ensconced and begged off of going to dinner with us.  It might have also been due to the fact that he is not a fan of Las Alamedas.  The original owners are back and the menu choices are more varied and reasonable.  They had their Sunday Brunch in the menu and it looks really good.  We had a courtly older gentleman as our waiter.  After a week of mainly texting with one another, sitting around a table and having face to face conversation was welcoming and refreshing.  Dena and I visited over delicious Mexican food and when we were finished, we decided to make a quick run through of Home Goods.  Neither one of us left Home Good disappointed.  I was just going to drop Dena off at her home but I hadn't properly welcomed Mr. B aka Bandit to Rancho De Five.  He was there on the couch waiting for Dena to get home.  He is a beautiful street wise cat who is a big softy. 

All the ice, snow and sleet videos I watched yesterday were so entertaining and full of spontaneous creativity.  The students at Sam Houston State were having an adventure filled time of sledding down hills on campus on creatively constructed "sleds."  My freshman year at Texas State formally known at Southwest Texas State, had a snow day.  A bunch of us knew of the cafeteria window that didn't lock, so we procured our "sleds" whose pedestrian daily use is better known as cafeteria trays.  We had great fun cause SWTSU is full of hills perfect for impromptu sledding.  And being good Christians, we returned our trays to the cafeteria after all our rides. 

Walking on Water, Reflections of Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle is rocking my world.  Granted, much of what she writes is so over my head and several passages have been re-read until I finally have just a hint of understanding but there are many pages full of my notes in the margins and truths underlined and noted.  One of the chapters, Names and Labels has my attention and most of the ink from my pen.  She is vehemently opposed to pigeon holing people with labels and rigid boundaries.  Who wants to be assigned to a category or class that limits growth and change and dare say, transformation.  By way of comparison, Madeleine writes about the world in general that labels and in labeling we depersonalize.  She hints of the Christian world's same tendency to label and classify.  In my opinion the Christian world of pigeon holing  is meaner and done with more clarity of thought.  As we read scriptures and search for the answers to our doubts experience tells us to keep it to ourselves.  Just look at Thomas, he did great, sacrificial things for the Gospel, yet we have labeled him 'Doubting Thomas.'  That is his labeled legacy for the ages.  Honestly, as I search the scriptures and desire God, I am less apt to share because I know I will grow past any label assigned to me by others, but there are those others who will keep me there at that place, in their words and minds, never letting me grow.  It would be fine to stay that way in their minds, but it becomes a bother when they express those thoughts and views of you to others.  I remember a conversation I had with my dad a few years ago and to make his point he reminded me what I said in the 3rd grade about this subject and there I have remained in his mind all these years, my statement as a 9 year old.  Really?  Trying to pigeon hole me as a fifty year old something into a third grade boundary is ridiculous.  The word picture that comes to mind is an older lady Roy and I saw at breakfast one Sunday morning.  Clearly, she had been to church but what she wore and the color of her hair was age inappropriate.  When she looked in the mirror she probably saw herself from her best or glory days but to others she had labeled herself trying to look 25 when she was 75.  It happens, all the time.  I am reminding myself to remember and to be thankful for those who have let me grow and be transformed in my walk with the Lord and in my thoughts and views of life because they are certainly in the majority rather than think of those who continue to try and put me in a box with complete with a label.    Lisa P and I can sing the chorus of, 'don't fence me in.'  Neither one of us like to be put in a box. 

This morning it looks like the doves have returned to Capistrano.  The bird feeder is empty and they have pooped into their bird bath.  Ah, my work as bird curator is never done.  Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Brave Survival of Sleet-Our Story

Another hour goes by, the temps are still under 32 degrees.  The local stations have spread their reporters far and wide across the viewing area keeping regular programing off the air.  Schools have closed or delayed their start to the day.  Pictures being uploaded slowly to social media sites because with so many ensconced in their homes the internet is slowed considerably.  I am forced to post from my iPad because Roy is working from home today.  I've been awake off and on since early, like 4:30,  this morning because of the necessary reports on roads.  Roy is going through his tea bag supply rather quickly and we can only hope we're able to hold out until noon with the supplies we have on hand.  We had stocked up with Diet Cokes and coffee earlier this week not knowing of the impending doom of sleet, ice, and snow, often referred to as winter precip.   Looks like we have enough bananas, cookies, apples, grapes and popcorn to see us through the morning.  I so hope we can last these final few hours of the winter storm warning.  Looking out our windows we see few cars on the road and we wonder if we are the only survivors in Rancho De Five.  None of the news reports or reporters seem to be from our area.  Has everything west of the beltway been obliterated off the face of the earth by this sleet?  It is heartwarming to know the garbage men went by very early this morning, this gives us hope there are other survivors.  We wonder, did our friends get enough donuts and kolaches to make it?  Surely our friends know that in times of rain or snow, donuts are the food of choice.  Alas, we did not stock up on the unnecessary fried foods this time and our hope is that buttered toast and a bowl of oatmeal will see us through these last horrendous hours.  We are only managing with heat from our heater as the fireplace has stopped working again.  Last night around 11:00 I heard a horrible noise and this morning as morning lit the sky, we found our grill had been blown about five feet from its original moorings.  We can now cook from our back door if things truly get desperate before 11:00.  My strength is ebbing and I hope our story of brave survival makes it out to the world. If not, tell our story.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Cold Thursday Report

This morning I awakened to the news that the winter storm watch has now been changed to winter storm warning.  The expectations of the duration of this warning, around 12 hours.  I might have to wander into a grocery store after Bible study to see if the stores are as crowded like we were in the impending doom of a hurricane.  Even though our snack supplies are running low I think we will make it. 

I never made it to the grocery store but I drove past a few and it looked like ice storm zero panic buying was in full force.  I had a much more fun afternoon.  Geni came out to Bible study today and afterwards we went to lunch at Kay's Tea Parlor and then looked at a couple of stores.  One of which was KT Antiques.  I had gone back in to see if a ceiling tin was still there and sadly it had been bought.  But I did find some cute lambs and a couple more of the Boys and Girls Bookshelf books. 

Roy barely caught a bus and stood all the way home tonight.  He stopped and picked up pizza for dinner.  He has gone outside to inspect all the plants and pipes and he is keeping an eye on emails to see if the office is closed tomorrow.  That decision probably won't be made until early in the morning. 

There is a group I belong to on Facebook; I Remember Southwest Houston When.....  There is a broad range of ages and people in the group.  I rarely comment but enjoy reading the remember whens and the responding comments.  Westbury Square is a favorite topic of a project ahead of its time and the demise and destruction of the remnants that remain.  I loved Westbury Square.  My friends and I would walk a mile or so to get there, then we'd shop at Cargo Houston, The Candle Shop, The Chemist Shop and have ice cream and a Coke at Rumppleheimer's and then hope one of our moms would come pick us up or we would begin our walk home.  I remember when Roy and I ordered personalized Christmas cards from the stationery store maybe the third or fourth year we were married and I felt like I had arrived being about to afford such a luxury.  Meyerland Plaza has been the other shopping discussion and as I read through other's memories, wave after wave of my own memories has taken me back to the long ago and I began to realize that Meyerland Plaza has played a huge role in my growing up and young adult life.  School clothes came from Penney's.  My parents grocery shopped at the Henke & Pilot.  Christmas gifts were purchased at Woolworth for my family and a few times my mom, brother and I sat at the lunch counter there and had lunch.  There was a Wyatt's Cafeteria and they served partially frozen peaches that was always one of my choices.  I worked at Penney's when I was in high school and when I was in college I worked at Graham's Men and Boys Clothing Store and then at ABC Baby Furniture.  Our rehearsal dinner was at the Houston Oil Company restaurant and at that time they had the best salad bar around.   Meyerland is a thriving shopping center again but it doesn't hold that quaint feeling like the original one for me and for others growing up in southwest Houston. 

I started a new book today, authors talking about their favorite bookstores.  It is going to be a fun read.  Stay warm, stay off the ice in the wicked weather and terrifying traffic.  Got to love the news and their love of alliteration. 

A Whole Lot Of Waking Going On

I am thrilled to have found out this morning that one of my favorite authors has a book released in April.  Ellen Gilchrist has not written, well, she has probably written, but has not published any stories in eight years.  I discovered Ellen Gilchrist in the 80's.  Barbara Brown Taylor also has a book being released in April.  April reading is looking good!

As many know from reading Monablog, we have had some of our funniest and most poignant moments in the middle of the night.  It has been a while.  Last night, I awakened around 3:00 am and I thought I heard something that we rarely hear out here, the bass tones maxed out on speakers, in cars passing by.  We have a natural buffer from street noise with the casita bedroom and the courtyard.  I was a bit unnerved by this noise.  In the grogginess of the early morning, I concluded it must be noise from the street behind us.  Yet, I couldn't resolve that as the answer either.  So stealth person that I am without glasses, I got up to check out the source of those bass tone beats.  After nearly killing myself tripping over an ottoman and stubbing my toe on a chair, I might add I was not quiet about these run ins with the furniture, the sound diminished and by the time I reached the front door, hobbling and in pain, the noise was gone.  Buddy left the coziness, the warmth and softness of her blanket to scout out what I was doing.  I would like to think she was concerned but the reality is, she saw a perfect opportunity to score some treats.  She had worn herself out before bedtime chasing her newest toy filled with organic cat nip and overcome with drug induced tired, she forgot to remind me of her bedtime treat before conking out on the couch.  My return to our bedroom was uneventful and safe, so I got back in bed and settled in for returning to sleep.  I was almost asleep when I once again heard the bone rattling noise of that bass.  Sometimes I leave the radio on during the night but I was rather confident that there wasn't anything on KHCB with that kind of beat or tone.  Dang, who is up this late on a school night, driving around, with their music blasting so that the only thing to be heard is the bass maxed out?  Oooh, didn't that sound old lady-ish?   It was then, in that moment of blue haired madness, that I realized the annoying sound was coming from the slumbering and snoring hubby.  This was not his usual snore.  His snore forte is loud. And he is tone deaf, so he doesn't hear anything with a beat, but his snoring was a perfectly timed four, four beat and on pitch too.  I didn't have the heart to wake him up to turn over on his side.  I need to stop watching the news before going to sleep.  Home invasions and break-ins can be the leading story or BREAKING NEWS!  When Roy got up this morning he was none the wiser of my nightcap misadventures.  I am sore from the fall but didn't break my toe on the stub.  You have to look and search and be alive for the positive in the midst of late night adventure. 

When we first moved into our home I ordered a few pieces of furniture from Grandin Road.  I have been so pleased with everything.  One of the smaller chests that is in the family room is on sale and most probably being discontinued.  Today, there is free shipping so I have been contemplating all morning whether to pull the trigger on this.  I just did.  The price is too good and it's a great piece.  Now I will have matching tables by the chairs.  Also more storage for books and such wonderful things. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Things That Are Biblical and Things That Are Dysfunctional

We had great discussion this morning in leadership council.  I love serving with these women.  I ran a couple of errands afterwards and now I am back home, ready to settle in.  I should probably be going to Bible study tonight but alas the call of home beckons louder than going in fighting traffic and that would just be in the parking lot.  I am not even thinking about the freeway. 

I cannot stop thinking about the book, Mrs. Astor Regrets.  In the big picture there seemed to have always been animosity between Mrs. Astor and her son. He was her only child from a marriage she despised and regretted.  She demeaned him publicly yet "bought" positions for him in the government.  The author thinks that everything that began the downward spiral consisted of several little things that gathered steam and started down a path that most regret to this day.  Mrs. Astor decided if her son died before she did, his third wife would not receive any inheritance, she became closer to one of her grandsons and his family and two nurses concerned for the health of Mrs. Astor confiding in this same grandson brought down the house of Astor or should that be hotel of Astor?  Insecurity and greed were the begats of these three incidents.  Fear caused the son to fire long time employees who were getting small, well small in the millionaires view, monetary rewards in her will, if they were still in her employ when she died and the son and wife took treasures out of his mother's penthouse and placed them in their own home.  They desired to be in the social whirl of things and with his mother's money and stuff, their dream was coming true...except for those two nurses who genuinely cared for Mrs. Astor.  I couldn't help but think about Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob as I finished up the book last night and then thought of the Astors in our discussion of Isaac and his crew.   In our discussion today, my eyes were opened to a biblical truth,

Genesis 25:34

The Voice (VOICE)
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and drank. When he was satisfied, Esau went his way as if nothing had happened. Esau treated his valuable birthright contemptuously.
 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils, and he ate and drank and rose up and went his way. Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.
This is why I don't like to cook.  You work hard preparing everything, you sit down at the table, they eat and drink and go on their way.  My friend Eileen was sitting beside me yesterday and she leaned in and said, when people say the OT isn't relevant for today....they're wrong.  Another point of observation is the Esau life, especially directed at men, make a quick decisive decision, be the alpha male and I thought yeah, sometimes men's ministry is saying the same thing to men.  Roy and I were talking about that last night and he said he quit going to a men's study because they kept directing the men that they were the king of the castle and Roy struggled with that, because he couldn't resolve it biblically.  Don't get me wrong, Roy is the leader in our home and I love the way he prays and also asks me my thoughts on what he's been praying about and then we do what we feel the Lord is directing, together in submission to the Lord.  I love that Roy doesn't have to remind me all the time that he is the leader.  I don't get that either because your actions should define leadership not the fact you have to remind everyone by telling them.  

This is totally unrelated but kind of, maybe...there is a big movement in some parts of Christendom for biblical spanking of wives.  WHAT?????  In the Sam Hill?  I thought that only happened on I Love Lucy.   

I've returned back to Walking on's a book.  I am underlining and writing like crazy on almost every page.  I found a bunch of quotes that goes hand in hand with the book and I have written all of those on every available blank page.  I love a reading season when every book you read is gold. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Continuation of Thought

So I was making the bed the other day and this thought came to me, yes, idols are predictable and controllable but when we are serving those idols or functional gods, we become predictable and controllable.  If you are trying to please someone to get ahead and that has become the center of your thoughts, yep, that would make one predictable.  Same if you are trying to have the best whatever, make the most money, be the most beautiful or smart or musically gifted or funny...PRE-DIC-TA-BLE.  But saying yes to the messy and unpredictable life of faith, well there will be adventure even in the most ordinary or ordinary days. 

I began following this guy who is big in the leadership genre of blogs, Twitter and Facebook.  In the past few days I have had more people start following me because I followed him....follow him wherever he may go  I love him! I love him! I love him! and where he goes I follow...Oops, song.  These people are going to be so disappointed who have started following me because I am not a leader.  Roy says everyone is a leader because we all have people who watch us and might follow our lead.  No, by nature, I am not a leader.  I am more the follower type and no I am not going to sing that song again.  I am gifted to be a second banana and I kind of like that.  Now, I am also a follower who isn't quiet about things when saying or noticing something amuses me but nonetheless, I am a follower.  I like being on a team and believe I have definite gifts to offer.  Who wants adult type responsibilities?  Lately this leadership type guy has been writing about doing the new thing or something fresh and how easy it is to do the same thing over and over and use the same people over and over.  He has good quotes too that I have been putting into my journal. 

Just a couple more chapters in Mrs. Astor Regrets.  Oh my, what an interesting mess the end of her life and after her death has become for her friends and family.  An interesting observation that only 900 people came to her funeral when they were expecting maybe 1400.  Many of her friends had already passed away, many were out of the city in August giving it over to tourists and many did not attend because they didn't want to get caught up in wrangling between the two sides.  But the sentence, there were those who did not come because they didn't have to hold court for Mrs. Astor anymore.  They were bidden to show or come because whatever they wanted from her, held no sway for them now.  I am reminded only when we want or need something from someone who is in the position to grant that something is the only way someone can have control over you.  When you don't want what they are offering, their influence is nil.  What a sad mess.  In the long run the winners here were New York Museums and charities.  I Googled a few things to see how everything played out because the book ends before the trial concludes.  In September 2012 her possessions from two of her homes were auctioned off.  My next fiction read needs to be a little more uplifting but I'm glad I read this book. 

I reviewed my homework last night and I had taken some extra time thinking about what I had learned from studying Abraham.  Another question asked us to cite the verse and give an example of Abraham and when he messed up, God's response.  I could not help but think that when Abraham wavered a little about the promise of an heir and being a father of a great nation, that God gave such a gift to Abraham when He asked Abraham to look at the stars, you can't number them, this will be like your descendants.  I wonder if back then is like today because night time is when we think and worry the most and God gave Abraham a visual to calm his anxieties and worry.  Look at the night sky filled and lit by millions and millions of stars.  The discussion in our core group has been lively and interesting.  I love the insights of the ladies I get to serve. We are a group of young mothers, every stage in between and grandmothers.  I also love that our group knows how to do brunch right.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Little Sunday Catch Up

With 99 open to 290 we headed over to Houston's First Baptist Church Cypress campus for church.  It was nice having extra time on Sunday morning and not leaving so early.  We loved it!  Roy saw tons of friends, well we both did.  We saw Jason right off the bat and loved getting caught up with my former boss but still good friend.  Even got to see Paige too.  It's not bad going to TV church, in fact we might have liked it better than in person at the loop.  The screen is closer.  With the extra time before leaving, I was able to work on my 500 words for the day.  I am enjoying this exercise in writing but truthfully most days when I sit down to write, I do more than 500 words.  It is a good habit to further develop. 

We stopped at Burgers and More after church and picked up BBQ.  Now Roy has gone out to ride his Trek while I have worked on Genesis homework.  I am fighting off taking a nap but I might be going down for the count.  This week it is mainly a review of Abraham's life because we are moving right on and have begun looking at Isaac and Rebekah with Esau and Jacob.  One of our for deeper thought questions asked what we have learned about Abraham.  Much more than I ever knew. 

Yesterday, was laid back. Roy went to Bible study and then took his car into the dealership for service.  He was there longer than anticipated.  He made a few stops on the way home and by that time we were ready for some Mexican food.  I think I might have found the menu item I will be ordering at least for the next few times.  Once we got home, I settled in with a book and Roy went to work out.  I started reading Mrs. Astor Regrets and it certainly has my interest. Yes, I am out of the south on this one but she did grow up in the south and would have been a belle but her mom was worried that all her schooling would make her less suitable for marriage, pulled her out of school and placed her smack dab in a very unhappy marriage.  Third marriage, she became Mrs. Astor. 

I am looking forward to having a bit more of a laid back week because beginning the week afterwards will be the long, long dental journey.  I know I have several dental surgeries in the coming months.  But I will persevere and know that this is just part of the process of getting back. 

As usual with Sunday posts, I complete them on Monday.  David and Emily called and we met them at the Luby's.  Yes, I think this is the hot spot to be seen in Rancho De Five.  The recent years have been almost Luby's free for us, even when we lived close to the one on Post Oak by the Galleria which we affectionately called the Hobble and Gobble.   The wait staff is good but it kind of bugs me.  One guy is a hover-er and if you put your fork on your plate for any reason, he is wanting to whisk it away.  Last night's guy...I think he was a guy, was attentive but not quick on the action part.  Oh well, I am willing to endure this first world problem to have a Luby's in the neighborhood. 

Buddy is purring and seems content her on my lap.  I hate to get up to get a cup of coffee.  I love these mornings where she settles down on me and makes herself comfortable.  Oops, she has stopped purring so this portion of her day is probably coming to an end.  Sitting on my lap is cutting into her first nap of the morning and.....there she goes. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Predicatable and Controllable

I am almost finished with the book Journaling, Catalyzing Spiritual Growth Through Reflection by Adam L Feldman.  I have mentioned that I have kept a diary/journal since the age of 9.  When I was going through things several times before we moved, I would skim over what had my attention as a child and then as a teenager in my journals.  Sadly, I must confess that the same things that bothered me as a child still bother me as an adult.  Instead of thinking myself foolish, I will choose to believe I was older and wiser than my years.   Once I hit college is when my journaling began to take some shape and direction.  With the reading of the book Journaling, 2014 will be a bit more organized and useful in writing and reflection.  At the end of the book, Adam helps by instructing how to set up a journal.  To chronicle life and to reflect is a commitment to time and a discipline.  I love how the author has taken a favorite verse of his and it just happens to be one of my all-time favs as well, Jeremiah 6:16 and breaks it down for understanding and then puts it together again with the result being more knowledgeable and wise by The Way of Journaling, Chapter 7.  We take a journey through the verse of standing, looking, asking, walking and resting.  Now THIS blew me away, a quote in the book; M. Robert Mulholland, Jr rejects the idea that life along the Way can be reduced to formulas, mantras and techniques.  He cites Judah in the OT.  They made the mistake when they rejected the messy, unpredictable faith in the living God for the predictable and controllable worship of idols.  Predictable and controllable idols jumped out at me.  I have never thought of idols being that, but stopping and thinking about it even for a few minutes reveals the huge truth.  I pulled out my copy of No Other Gods by Kelly Minter and did a quick review on her take which is idols are false gods and functional gods.  A functional god is who or what operates as our god.  I get a charge out of reading Isaiah 44 because the same remaining block of wood that has kept the craftsman warm and roasted his bread, now becomes the piece he fashions and carves into an idol.  You read that and think, gee that guy is stupid but I began thinking of things and people I have fashioned into an idol out of the leftovers of life and I make the same stupid mistake as the craftsman in Isaiah.  The messy and unpredictable faith in the living God is the much better choice.  It should be my first choice. That means I have to give up my desire for the safe and proven walk and tune my heart to the rocking and rolling of the faith journey.  To be honest I guess my vision is tuned between two extremes between safety and frenzy.  In many churches on Sunday mornings or Saturday nights or Sunday nights…whenever a group gathers corporately to worship God, the timing of the service is mapped out to the minute.  No room for surprises and if anyone takes too long in announcements or music, something gets cut.  Funny, it’s not usually the sermon.  I kind of get tickled thinking about the church I attend.  A couple of years ago it was determined that the 9:30 service needed to be started at 9:15.  There was a little bit of grumbling amongst the 9:30 crowd but we were told it was for more parking spaces.  We are land locked and I wouldn’t be surprised if a parking garage is not built in the near future.  That didn’t make sense because of various factors.  Then the spin became so the Holy Spirit could move and by giving Him another 15 minutes something could happen.  Well, bring the Holy Spirit into the thing to spiritualize the whole reason for the time change; partly for staging to be reset for 11:00 service and crowd control…  The first Sunday there was a remarkable “demonstration” of what the Holy Spirit could do with that extra 15 minutes.  Funny, the Holy Spirit has never gotten that 15 minutes back since then because the time is filled with announcements, videos, music and preaching. The other extreme would be churches that are open to the Holy Spirit moving and taking over the service but many a time that reasoning is used when one has not properly prepared a sermon and from the pulpit comes this sentiment, you can’t put a clock on the Holy Ghost.  No, but sometimes it is a safe way to see how things go and then the unprepared preacher can go with the direction he sees in all the unrestrained exuberance. 

Well, I have totally gotten off my thought of messy and unpredictable.  Tennis used to be my idol and functional god.  I sacrificed to make it to the open championship level.  Weekends were totally different if I had a HLTA match on Monday.  I took extra lessons and worked with a personal trainer.  The desire to make it to the top overtook too much of life, but I couldn’t see that.  Now, when I read those journals from that time of life I can see how tennis was my false god.  Then the predictable and controllable set in once making it to the top.  I had to keep my tennis skills sharp to remain at the there.  It all became empty and boring and predictable.  It wasn’t fun.  It was politics not talent.  That’s what happens when something or someone becomes bigger than your love of God.  Tennis in itself was not bad, but what I made it personally was the bad of tennis. 

It doesn’t have to be bad things that become an idol.  One Christmas Eve we went to St Martin’s Episcopal Church, correction we didn’t just go once, and the pastor, priest, rector whatever guy is called, he talked about no room in the Inn for Mary and Joseph.  The Inn was full because of an occasion, taxing which wasn’t great, but the side benefits for the Inn being filled, people seeing families and spending time with one another.  SO many times there isn’t room in our heart for Jesus because it is filled with good things; family, friends, hobbies…and yes all those things if not kept in perspective can go the way of the predictable and the controllable and the functional false god (s). 

Friday, January 17, 2014

An Evening At Downton Abbey...I Mean at Second Baptist

Oh most blessed day of Friday.  No appointments, no errands, just a morning to ease into the day.  It has been quite some time since I have had this much time to myself and it is filling up the reservoir of time alone in me.  In a bit I will fix some eggs and reheat some of the Biltmore grits I fixed yesterday for CBS brunch and by then I will be on my second cup of coffee. 

I was out late on a school night because Laurie M and I went to Second Baptist for the Downton Abbey themed evening.  Who says the Lord is not in the details of our life?  She drove in from Cypress and I drove in from Katy and we parked right next to each other.  Everything was done so well last night!  We met in the Sanctuary which is the original worship center.  The front circular driveway had a car from that age with ladies and gentlemen in their fineries.  The steps up into the narthex or whatever they call the lobby, each church is different, was lined with footmen dressed in their formal black and white. 

The evening began with a welcome from "Lord Grantham" and beautiful door prizes perfectly themed for the night.  Lot of tea and biscuits and the like.  We were entertained with a selection from Puccini which made me think of what happened on Sunday night while listening to the selection.  Focus Nancy....on the beauty of the music.   The speaker, Pam Thompson was delightful and refreshing.  I believe she has a weekly Bible study on Tuesday morning at the Woodway Campus.  She spoke out of Colossians 3 about the joys of being an upstairs girl and contrasting why we don't ever want to revisit who we were before Christ came into our life.  I learned a lot and laughed a lot.  Her sense of humor drew you in.  After her talk, we were invited to go to the reception that had been prepared and we were to follow the lamp lighted path.  No it wasn't Bibles on fire...i.e. your Word is a lamp unto my feet... and we entered into the world of the early 20th century.  Very well done and as Laurie and I sat to the side noshing on cheese, fruit and crackers, waiters came by with delectable treats of lemon and fruit tarts and chocolate covered cherries.  We heard there were cream puffs, but we were more than satisfied with our desserts.  Laurie and I had a chance for a much needed catch up on life.  Now that we are connected with 99, it will be much easier to make our luncheon dates.  We saw several friends from First Baptist and we were most happy to see Lisa T because somehow Laurie and I got lost in the maze of Second and couldn't find our way to the west parking lot.  Lisa got us in the right direction.  I thought it would be so easy to find our way back because Roy and I were once members at Second.  Guess a lot of change has happened since we were members in the late 70's. 
  We made it safely to our cars but passing by the prayer garden there at Second brought back good memories.  My friend Mary Madeline and I went there many a night to pray and seek the Lord.  It was back when two or three girls felt safe to go at night  and talk to the Lord.  I earnestly beseeched the Lord there in that prayer garden.  The design and scenery has evolved through the years but I could still see that garden in my mind's eye when I first came to know Christ.  If we hadn't been on such a search for the parking lot, I would have stopped and taken a picture but now I am glad I didn't.  I did take a picture of the stained glass because, we were parked right there and because I love stained glass. 
Yesterday afternoon, after Bible study, brunch, Target and CVS, I returned home fatigued.  Fatigue for me is different than tired because fatigue tells me something is amiss or I have overdone.  I considered staying home but I took a little nap and felt refreshed and ready to head into town.  Even though traffic was horrible. 
After such a fine evening one would think that this morning I would be drinking my coffee out of my finest cup and saucer.  That I would be dressed for breakfast and considering my sched...ule for the day.  Guess the familiar saying is true, you can take the girl out of the prairie but you can't take the prairie out of the girl. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts

Well, little did I know there is this little thing called an off and on switch on the little fireplace thingy that came yesterday.  Gee, who knew?  I even read the instructions before trying it out.  Oh yes, there is plenty of info on the settings and which knob to turn and the like but nothing is ever said about an on or off switch.  Granted, I think if I had put this on the island in the kitchen to get a closer look I would have seen it UNDERNEATH, like on the bottom of it.  Things on the floor + me looking at it from above because I can't get to floor level=no worky.  Roy got out a flashlight and found the switch and he is giving me 'what for' because we have reversed roles on this one.  It is a small little stove like thing but I like it.  The flickering light seems to be bigger than what one would think.  It was a lovely few minutes, because I had other things to take care of last night, of sitting there in my reading room, surrounded by books I love and the cat I love curled up upon my lap.  Pictures of people and places I love and with a stack of freshly acquired notebooks that I love.  And there stood the man I love, watching me dwell those few fleeting minutes in an atmosphere that restores my soul, laughing at me because I didn't look for an on and off switch.  Well, it can't be too ideal because that wouldn't be real life.  Besides, tucked inside me I know this, it won't be long until Roy has one of these moments....bah ha ha ha ha!  I'll be gracious, I know...well, maybe not too gracious. 

Yesterday, Dena and I saw a most unusual sight as I was taking her back to her home for roadside assistance, a woman jogging.  There are tons of joggers and walkers and bikers out here, so that is not an unusual sight but what made this particular jogger stand out was her running togs, her top tog barely covered her, uh...let's see....ah yes, her essentials.  Dena was the first to express her surprise of seeing this essentially endowed woman. Really, you couldn't miss her.  We both agreed she knew what she was doing when she decided to get half dressed that morning.  With my spiritual gift of depth I said, maybe she is just being like Rebekah who carried her jugs on her shoulders...studying Genesis has paid off spiritually and funnily. 

Roy has a conference that he attends every year and it happens to be in Washington DC.  The past few years he has gone up early to take in the sights.  I have never been able to go due to health concerns.  This would be the year...but no it's not.  He has made his conference hotel reservations at The Mayflower Hotel and we had hoped to get a room at the same hotel so as not to have to pack, unpack, pack, unpack and pack till we got home and unpacked.  The only rooms they had left were suites and the price wasn't bad but we would have to change rooms on Sunday.  Since it seemed to be more hassle than it's worth, Roy is still going to his conference but neither one of us will be going up early.  We are both pleased with the decision.   

I have lots of paperwork to fill out for upcoming appointments.  There seems to be a whole lot of laundry.  I can hardly concentrate on this or the others I have mentioned because I have two really good books going.  I cannot get enough of them. 

I began the new system of journaling I have been reading about.  The name of the book is Journaling, Catalyzing Spiritual Growth Through Reflection by Adam L. Feldman.  This book introduces the discipline of journaling and introduces a lifestyle of contemplative reflection through Biblical, anecdotal, and practical teaching.  It helps deepen community with the Lord, discover contentment in life and develop confidence in decision making.   The chapter on Season, the When of Journaling has my attention.    The author gives deep insight into how we live in our current season of life.  Do we let circumstances, people, and the like invite discontentment  that in various ways will suck the joy, peace, contentment, love and fruitfulness out of life and if not careful these life suckers will detrimentally affect your love for God and for others.  Now, you wouldn’t think the three things he named would really be the ‘trend’ terms that are thrown about.  The first life sucker is Entitlement, second life sucker, entitlement that turns into bitterness and the third life sucker, nostalgia. 
I am also reading Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle.   She is blowing me away!  I never read any of her books geared toward children and I hadn’t read anything else she has done.  I have been made a fan in one day.  Walking on Water is one of those types of books that first read through I am using a black marker and other read throughs will be in other colors because I believe this is a book I will come back  to many, many times.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13- A Lovely Day

The early morning with fog and overcast skies made my heart and mind retreat into smokey layered thoughts of Biltmore mornings.  I knew well enough, I was not in North Carolina, nor was my morning going to be spent reading in front of a grand fireplace.  I knew my breakfast would not be containing grits nor would anyone be refilling my cup of coffee, well except for me.  Monday mornings are not early ones for the most part.  I like to take Mondays to relax and take care of everything going into the new week.  There is homework to finish up, laundry, sometimes errands, but I try to keep Mondays free.  That’s not going to be likely in the next few months as there are periodic trips to the oral surgeon.  Today is one of those days.  I had almost taken too long reading and had to hasten a bit in my morning grooming.  I was working on my hair, which I wish I had known that the winds were blowing 20 mph because I wouldn’t have taken that much time with the hair, when the phone rang.  Dena never calls me at 7:45 am and as I walked toward the phone, I was praying.  In that split second of rehearsing all the scenarios that reasonably could be for the call, but her call was none of those I imagined.  Phew….  Her car wouldn’t start.  She knew I had a 9:00 appointment with the dentist, but could I drop her off at the office?  Not a problem….  I picked her up and she came to the car complete with purse, lunch, briefcase, phone, and garage door opener in hand.  For a minute she lost track of the opener but finally found it on the floor of the car.  We laughed because we had spent the majority of the day together on Sunday; church, lunch, Nord, The Fresh Market and back to our respective homes.  In my nonprofessional opinion, I believed she had battery problems.  I dropped her off at the office and made my way to the dentist office.  The parking garage at the dentist’s professional building is not a fav.  This is where my former cardiologist offices and I had spent a lot of my time circling in search of a precious parking space and trying to keep my pulse and heart rate down when going for heart related appointments.  Really, you cannot have a heart attack in that garage because the cars would be lined up outside and onto the street if you happened to block one of those lanes.  In order to keep good health, I have opted for early morning traffic on the freeway.  If I hadn’t went willy nilly in the parking garage…don’t ask…I would have been five minutes early for my appointment, but I skidded into the office at 9:00 am and was out of there by 9:04.  In no time I was at the Target across the street and giddy in finding two more of the journals that I love.  Dena found three of them in Baytown, so it was a five journal haul this weekend.  I stopped by her office on the way home and picked her up.  Roadside service would come start her car.  I stopped at Whole Foods and returned home.  I had done more than most Monday mornings.  My little fireplace came today but I can’t get it to work.  Maybe Roy can figure it out for me.  The Sugarboo stuff came from the Nord today.  I am in paper heaven. 

I’m reading several good books, I continue to love the study of Genesis in CBS, and I’m content.  I have a thoughtful and kind husband and I have the best friends.  Those who I don’t truly understand or those who genuinely kind of aggravate me are at a distance right now and the rest is oh so very welcomed.  This has been a good Monday and for this I am sincerely grateful.   

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Checking In and Completing My Word Count

The sky is a nice grayish, pinkish color tonight.  It was an absolutely beautiful day.  Warm temps and sunshine.  Where else but Texas; last week freezing and today people dining al fresco at the restaurants.  I was able to sleep in a tad and ease into Saturday.  Roy had Bible study and then errands.  He even made a stop at HEB to pick up a few things.  We made lunch at home and afterwards we went to Office Max to make some copies and buy a few items because we had the 20% off bag that expires today.  I was able to look into several notebooks that I thought might be as good as the ones I love at Target, but the paper isn't as think and the lines are not as thin.  Love a thin line journal.  Roy had planned to ride his Trek but even with warm temps, the wind was too powerful.  So he went with plan B, go to Lifetime.  I worked on Genesis homework.  We are working on Chapter 24 and so many new things jumped out at me.  I know I say it all the time, but this has been the best study.  Since it is such a splendid day to be out and about, I went to downtown Katy to have a look around the KT Antique Mall.  Found a couple of interesting books.  Then made a quick stop at Mimosa Rose and found several items marked down so I got out of there only spending $20.00. 

We just finished up our delicious dinner of sloppy Joes.  Now, we are trying to get things back in order and finish up the little things we started working on this morning.  It has been a good day.  Texting with the girls and Nancy, shopping, getting things done around here, like...finally taking the red tablecloth off the table.  Guess I could have left it on for Valentine's.  I will probably put out Valentine related decorations toward the end of this next week. 

I worked on my 500 words earlier today and this blog post should put me over my goal.  Some days I do blogging for the 500 and other days I journal.  I am leaning toward journaling more because of two very good books I have been reading.  Seems these days if we are going to do anything it should be done with purpose or passion or something.  I'd like to think that some of the silent times are in preparation for purpose times.  I have once again changed my One Word.  After this past week and with a few fatigue times thrown in, which I have not had many of, but persevere might be my final choice or as Beth Moore says it Persa-dang-vere!  I'm leaning toward the Beth Moore version of the word. 

We did make it to Luby's yesterday.  It is so nice to have them in the neighborhood.  I have missed being able to just get veggies for dinner. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ode to the Winter Pedicure

Ode to the winter pedicure; need you, will be happy to have fresh polish and soft feet but oh winter pedicure, what to wear?  Fortunately, it is a warmer type day out here on the prairie, so I can wear flip flops and a pair of boot cut jeans that will easily roll up over my knees. I don’t get too many off season pedicures but I have let these feet go too long without one.  I would take the time this fall to have an appointment scheduled but a change in schedule or an unexpected happening transpired and the appointment was cancelled.  I had even thought of getting a pedi at the Biltmore Spa but once I sunk into those comfortable couches in front of the fireplace and cozy chairs by the window, the thought of a pedicure went right out of my mind.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I also think I just wasn’t willing to be fastidious in leg shaving.  Today is the beginning of the next few weeks of reckoning with dentists and doctors and now nail technician.  I will be embarrassed that Lisa will have to work so hard on my nails but keeping lotion on my feet has been a constant for me this winter.  There won’t be a mini snowstorm of dead skin when she uses the paddle on my heels and the bottom of my feet.  As I crawled into bed last night, actually I kind of Fosberry Flop into bed at night because our bed is rather high, I thought of what color I might like to get.   Of late I have favored the turquoise and blue shades but maybe it is time to shake these nails up. 

On Wednesday evening we had pot roast that cooked in the crock pot all day.  It was delicious and combing two recipes on the internet helped me perfect a flavorful roast.  I added in the carrots a little later than usual, so they were not soft and pliable like usual.  This is a great experience for the person who is mashing up food; everything is looking like baby food, to eat.  Last night, leftovers, so I took the gravy and carrots and heated them on the stove, which made the carrots much easier to eat. 

It was disappointing to learn that the warm house retro floor standing electric fireplace delivery has been delayed.  It’s not really a fireplace but looks more like an old black stove for the reading room.  Bear with me; it’s going to be cute.  The delay is due to polar vortex of last week.  Now that it is summer here in Rancho De Five…I hope to get some use of it.  This purchase is more for atmosphere than heating.  It’s hard to have that reading nook feeling when Roy has Castle or sports on the TV in the family room. 

I did not shake things up with color this morning.  I was immediately drawn to turquoise.  There is good people watching at nail salons.  You have people like me who want minimal conversation and I have a book or magazine in hand.  There are others who desperately need an audience and if one gives eye contact, you will be ensconced in their spider web of gab for the duration of your treatment.  I watched from a distance as a poorly placed young woman fought valiantly to regain her cone of silence.  She did not regain it.  The lady next to me was a whiner.  After getting a mani/pedi she told the tech who had worked on her feet, here is $5.00, you and the other girl split it.  Well Happy New Year and La Te Da!  That is a pet peeve, women who under tip at the nail salon.  It ain’t right.  The nail salon I go to doesn’t rush you in and out and when they are working on your hands or feet you are the focus, not other ladies coming in the door. 
My next task on the list is to clean out my desk, so I better head that way.  This is how exciting things are for Roy and me; we are going to the new Luby’s that opened yesterday.  When he gets home, we are heading over that way.  Yes, life in the fast lane is way too exciting and for that cause I will not continue this post because the waves of jealousy coming from my readers are palatable

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sugarboo, CBS and Cynthia Clawson

While casually scrolling through the Nordstrom website, I saw something that brought me great joy.  September, while in Blowing Rock NC at a little store that I have fallen in love with, I was formally introduced to Sugarboo Designs.  Actually in May Dena had bought me one of their writing tablets, but I didn't know it was Sugarboo until later.  Sugarboo has all kinds of designs but I love their paper products.  An email to the company let me know they had a retail site that I could order from since stores around here didn't carry their products.  Amazon carries their art and signs but not paper products.  So, while on the Nordstrom site I saw Sugarboo Designs.....paper products!  Since I had several Nord Notes to use, I ordered up a couple of their products and they should be here the first of next week.  Happy am I!.

CBS began again today.  I have missed my friends over the break.  Since I am still recovering from dental surgery and was not there Tuesday, our teaching director led our core group.  We had a lively discussion, with good points and well thought out questions.  We are wrapping up our study of Abraham and getting ready to keep on moving through Genesis.  If you have a CBS study near you or not too near you, I urge you to go.  Hint, hint, Geni.  We have such a fun group and we are going to do another theme brunch for next week, breakfast food.  I am making Biltmore grits and maybe, just maybe Peggy will make her delicious pancakes like she did for the welcome to the ranch breakfast for Dena, Dana and Emily.  That would be delish. 

I'm reading a good book on journaling.  The insights are new and refreshing and this book has a spiritual bent to it, so the subject is presented in the reflective style of spiritual formation.  There are examples of taking your journaling to a new level and I like that.  Since I am participating in the 500 Words a Day in January, this book helps tackle a subject I am very familiar with and have too many unused journals, for those just in case times, to prove it.  This is when I wish I had the artistic bent to really liven up the presentation and they say you should go with your strengths, so stick people it is. 

I find myself thinking about Vicky, Catha and Crista several times daily.  When they come to mind, they are lifted in prayer.  Louie's service was well thought out and planned, God honoring.  Those who have been close to him and have walked in life with him were there on the stage honoring Louie and his legacy, Beth Moore, Curtis Jones, Bill Heston, Steve Seelig, Micah Dene and Cynthia Clawson.  As Bill Heston put it, a bunch of First Baptist has-beens.  The words were just right, the laughter just right, the tears, just right.  Cynthia Clawson can take a hymn that almost across all denominations is familiar with, Softly and Tenderly and make it dance. Not a upbeat dance, but a dance done privately when we sing to the King.  She sang it accapella, she did all her hand gestures that makes it uniquely Cynthia but mostly, the song was alive.  She didn't sing it like she was leading others in worship, she didn't sing it like this is a song she has sung a thousand times, she didn't explain to us what the song was saying and for this I thank you Cynthia, she sang it as an offering to the Lord and as a comfort for the family and the rest of us were drawn in.  Then when the song was over, she simply walked away.  No head nodding, no fist pumping...just a simple song with words so powerful, many have come to Christ walking to the resonance of those notes and words.

I wish I could find a version without accompaniment.  Beautiful hymn sung for a beautiful servant and life, Louie Duck.  (this version is from You Tube)

Stop, Rinse and Spit

On Monday I heard all kinds of instructions from the nurse at the oral surgeons.  All those instructions came after the procedure and after being knocked out with propofal.  Funny, I came to singing Thriller.  So much of what she said sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, wah, wah, wah, wah.  I’m so glad Roy was there and heard all the instructions with his orderly mind.  I do remember two instructions, don’t use a straw today and don’t spit.  As someone who rarely spits except in the case of brushing my teeth, all of the sudden I had this great desire to spit.  Guys spit all the time but girls rarely do.  I thought this instruction was unnecessary.  Remember boys and girls back in the day when you had to rinse and spit in the little white porcelain bowl next to you at the dentist office.  I hated having to spit cause then your strings of saliva would kind of hang onto your chin and lips.  So thankful for the little vacuum thing they use these days. 

This has not been my fastest recovery.  My mouth hurts and it really hurts to talk.  Please, no comments about that.  Having both sides of my mouth worked on feels odd and mainly it is the dental work in the front of my mouth that hurts the most.  I remember I came to just a little while he was working on it and they quickly put me back under.  That’s good because I couldn’t feel anything but I heard the sound.  I didn’t like it.  Give me the sound of silence. 

The whole dental surgery thing was so unexpected.  I knew I needed to schedule an appointment to have a checkup because I had finally been cleared to get this done in October.  But the past few months of the year felt particularly busy and so my thoughts turned toward the New Year of taking care of things, only to have a tooth fracture on Sunday afternoon.  The tooth shattered as well as my plans to leisurely get these things taken care of. The tooth never hurt, never had any pain or any clue, it just went pop.   Now as I recover I am making all the appointments I need to be making for checkups, physical and dental.  I have been so focused and rightly so with heart issues and heart events.  I had to let other areas slide because at one point my risk of stroke was highly elevated.  I’ve been blowing and going for all the right things but in the midst of that entire heart journey, I forgot to stop at warning lights, red lights and stop signs.  It almost felt as if I had carte blanch to disregard signs and unwisely thought I had a ‘siren’ and authority to blow through everything else.  Uh, no, I don’t. 

Last week while sitting at a stop sign, we all who had come to the intersection together, were frightened by a driver who boldly blew through the stop sign.  It looked like she knew what she was doing and confident in all of us having a slow start through the intersection.  She could beat us.  Roy and I were talking about this later and he said something to the effect that so many times that is how we go through our days, ignoring the stopping points or even just slowing down.  We just blow through them expecting slowness on the start and our remiss or errors finally catching up with us.  Sometimes I find myself thinking; oh I’ve done the heart problem thing, like it was mumps or chicken pox or measles.  It doesn’t work that way, yet I am blowing and going.  Spiritual lessons or applications…yea, I’ve been through that before, not going to come around again.  Uh…no, it doesn’t work that way.  Even thinking that once I get through a certain time or a difficult reality, that I’ll have time then to stop, rest and reflect.  Lies, all lies…because something else draws our attention. 

This has been a welcomed day.  The first in many days of totally having all day to myself and I’ve stopped to listen in the silence from the One who knows my name and days.  Even in the beauty of nature at Biltmore, the concerns of the day kept me from hearing and knowing from the One, the Lord.  Arriving home to details and involvements kept me from the long visit of silence and prayer and thinking and creating and dreaming.  It is good to have a day.  I need more of them. 

I would also like to report, I didn’t feel the urge or the compulsion to spit one time today. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Marty!

I can remember junior high school, some of it good, some of it bad and some of it not even remember worthy.  Still to this day I can sing the school song, but I have no idea why I can remember it. I like many, when asked would you like to ever relive junior high school , answer back with a resounding NO!  I wanted to be popular, but I wasn’t.  I wanted to be rebellious but not wild.  My mom made me wear longer skirts and socks with my shoes.  I wanted to wear miniskirts and fishnets, but I rolled my skirt up and took off my socks on the way to school and reversed the process on the way home.  My friend Leah and I were supposed to walk the long way to school and cross over the footbridge but many a morning we had taken too long with the previously mentioned clothes adjustment to be oh so cool and ended up having to cut across the football field.  Doing that ruined oh so many pairs of shoes because of that pesky morning dew.  Junior High was PE wearing one piece gym suits.  It was lunch with aluminum wrapped Hi-C drinks that had been packed frozen for a refreshing beverage at lunch instead of buying lukewarm milk in the cafeteria.  One of the best things though about junior high school was meeting Marty Z.  We were in the same history class and I remember her Amelia Earhart oral report, not for the dynamic presentation but for the fact she dropped her notecards in the trash can while giving her report. 

We went to the same high school, she was a Rebelette which back in the day would have been the dance squad but schools back then had drum and bugle corps…oh Rebelettes also played fifes.  I played volleyball.  Our lives didn’t intersect again until our junior year.  In January 1971 I asked Christ into my life at a James Robinson revival.  At the time he was known as God’s angry young man.  My friend Beth who was so instrumental in me coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord was a good friend of Marty.  And Marty became my good friend as well.  Both Beth and Marty helped me in early discipleship and growth in the Lord.  I was in Marty’s Action Group, which was the relevant term back then for Bible study.  See, trendy terms have always been around.  My New Testament was called Blueprint for Revolution.  It was the 70’s man!  J  One day today’s relevant will be charming memories.  That’s the way life is supposed to happen.  Through the years Marty and I have remained friends, picking up where we left off the last time we saw each other.  We have been doing that for over forty years.  Some of my favorite memories are the days I would go to Boerne and spend a couple of days with her and Bobby and the girls, Tricia and Megan.  Tricia always called me by my full name, Nancy Monarch and Megan made me a friendship bracelet, which I still have packed deep within our storage unit.  As you can tell, we have walked through a lot of life together, together but in different cities most of the time. 

Today is my friend’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Marty!  She’s a blessing and a joy.  She’s compassionate and a good listener.  She knows the Word but more importantly walks it out in daily living.  And something new that I learned about her yesterday, she carries both blue and green gum for her grandsons.  Now that is love!