Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ten Things I Know Will Not Help Me Be A Better Person

10. Ironing

9. Telling someone I like something that I really don't like at all. Just smile and change the subject.

8. Listening to talk show hosts who talk expertly about subjects they have no expertise on and then promote the idea to millions of others. Regardless of how much money they give away.

7. Having a spotless house if all I do is get crazy about keeping it spotless.

6. Collecting anything that someone else says is or may one day be worth a lot of money if you just hold on to them long enough and sell when the time is right.

5. Living in a part of the country that must participate in winter weather.

4. Being in style.

3. Driving a brand-new car, van, or SUV.

2. Keeping my laundry done and put away.

1. Starbucks. But it's sooo gooooooood.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Life With Others

It may not seem so, but this photo is indicative of a very important aspect of our life as a family. It is representative of the close relationship we have with our neighbors and good friends, the Zipps.
The snow brings forth an image of something that is present all year long, just not visable to the naked eye - and that is the worn path between these two homes. It is a visual reminder of something that I take for granted - and that is the fact that they are there for us no matter what. They are family.
If it were possible, you would also see footprints from my doorstep to my parents' house, from my heart to my Bible; you might see a cable attaching my boys to my person, and a string of hearts from my soul to my husband's.
Sometimes it takes something as tangible as this to remind us that relationships rooted in love are the foundation of our time here on earth.
And this is not limited to the love you feel for someone close to you. Genuine love for others extends (or should extend) to those you simply interact with.
A love for others should make us treat the cashier at Walmart just as genuinely as we would treat them were we to brush up next to them at church. A love for others should be what makes us hug and listen to a friend whom we may not exactly agree with at the moment. A love for others should make us simply want to make other people's days better, and not worse, after interacting with you - even for just a few moments.
Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Much Needed. Much Appreciated.

Tonight I have girls' night. Thank goodness.

These are girlfriends who I grew up with - friends who have known me since we were little. Two of them were my partners in crime clear back in elementary school, sunday school, and church camp. One of them has been my friend since the month we were born 11 days apart.

We meet a lot of people over the course of our lives - people who know us from the season of life we are in at that time. A very few of them see us through many seasons. Then there are those who have seen every inch of our personalities, every dumb mistake we have made, every victory we have seen. And they are still here.

They knew me when I had State Fair Hair, wore my jeans tucked into my socks, and sported blue mascara. And they are still here.

We all do very different things with our days, live very different lives, have very different children at very different ages, have different views on faith. But they still listen to me, I still listen to them; we laugh and vent, have fun and care.

And they are still here.

(Photo courtesy of my niece, Katie.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Finally, I can wake up with purpose again.

Check It Out!

I just installed a Chatter Box (to the left)! It's like an instant message that you can leave without going into the comments section.

I love hearing from my friends - take advantage! It's also a great way for me to respond back; that's my favorite part.

So let's talk!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Power of Prayer. Really?

Much of my life is built around prayer, but it took some time to arrive at the place I am now, which is not the destination, but merely a point along the journey.

My prayer life is ever-evolving, something like a winding path through time. There is urgent prayer, when you or someone you love has an acute need that sends you to your knees. There is distant prayer, where you are talking to the Father about daily life, but without much deep thought toward what you are praying about. There is fundamental prayer, gratuitous prayer, prayers of angst, prayers of solitude, and what I call "list prayers" - where you write down things to pray for. By the way, these are all merely Holly definitions of types of prayers that I personally have been known to partake in.

I spent quite a bit of time in polite prayer. We're talking a few years. This time was spent in earnest, belief-filled prayer; but I wouldn't go past some invisible, ambiguous self-imposed point of what I really thought I deserved to have answered. My prayers were filled with all kinds of ways of saying what boils down to "if you think this is best . . . whatever you decide . . . whatever is your will . . ." etc.
These are all fine sentiments, but don't you think God would like for his children to sometimes be a bit less wishy-washy? I mean, how annoying is it sometimes when you and a friend are trying to figure out a place to meet for lunch and she just keeps saying, "Oh, whatever you want is fine ..."

I finally matured in my relationship with Christ enough to come to the conclusion that it is absolutely ridiculous not to expect that my prayers will be answered; but how can that be if I am not specific in what I am saying? If I absolutely believe that I am conversing with God (which I do), then why would I not then be expecting an answer?

The other side of that coin is that you have to know God well enough to know that He indeed will answer you, but that does not mean He will answer how you have asked Him to - or even in a way that you like at all.

In the same way that we cannot, as wives, dictate how our husbands respond to every sentence that comes out of our mouths, we cannot expect that God will answer us in a way that we have predetermined. It is, after all, a conversation, not a script written by us. Your relationship with Christ must evolve to the point that your eyes can see not only what you have asked to happen, but the hand of God working in your life in ways that you never imagined.

My relationship with Him is at the very edge of that arena, as I have moved from polite prayer to expectant prayer. When I pray for my best friend's day, I expect that His hand will be felt in her world in some way. Her daughter may end up having an absolutely terrific afternoon with little whining; her son may be a delight for the dinner hour; she may find herself with 10 extra minutes of quiet time just before it's time to start bath and bedtime.

I believe it - and I look for it.

Sometimes my focus is a little fuzzy, and often I'm looking in completely the wrong direction and I get discouraged. That is just life in this world. Sometimes it just stinks. That's where friends, family, God's word, and another good ol' expectant prayer comes in.

I can't imagine living without faith. Sometimes when I fall into bed exhausted from my life, it's all I have to hang on to.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wow. The blog's been a little photo-heavy lately. I'm going to go with some words today.

Here's my Top Ten Favorite things to eat that I shouldn't:

10. Fried Pickles. Sonic sometimes has these on their menu and it's hard to resist the quick drive-in for a fix. Dip 'em in ranch dressing and none of your problems seem to matter anymore.

9. Tiramisu. This traditional Italian dessert isn't too rich, has the slightest taste of coffee, the slightest taste of chocolate, and the grand taste of cream. YUM!

8. Gravy. Anything tastes better covered in gravy. When I was little I would eat bread smothered in gravy. I. LOVE. GRAVY. Gravy on chicken, gravy on mashed potatoes, gravy on gravy.

7. Lesa's Toffee. My friend, Lesa, makes the best toffee in the world. I'm not a big chocolate or sweet eater, but this stuff is amazing. Double-decked with Ghiradelli chocolate and almonds on the top and the bottom, it is pure velvety butterific love.

6. Homemade ranch dressing. There is absolutely no substitute. We are ranch snobs in our family, and you will never find bottled ranch in this house. But, of course, it has full-fat mayonnaise in it; and making it with light mayo is like taking a lukewarm, 5-minute bath. What's the point? I'd rather go without.

5. Bacon. Need I say more? Jim Gaffigan says it best:

4. Bacon-wrapped smokies. Speaking of bacon; take a fattening piece of bacon, wrap it around an even more fattening smoky link. Sprinkle it with brown sugar and bake it. Oh. My. Heaven. On. A. Cookie. Sheet.

3. Shrimp Scampi. Take a perfectly healthy food like shrimp and completely drown it in butter, oil, and garlic; and then take it to the edge of reason by serving it over pasta. Wahoo! Now that's what I call gratification.

2. Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies. It's Girl Scout cookie time again! My favorite time of year because the delivery of the cookies often coincides with the week of my birthday making the fact that I'm aging a completely fun and acceptable fact of life. If I have to get older, I'm goin' down with a fist full of Thin Mints! Keep 'em in the freezer hidden from the kids and pop a few in after a long, hard day.

1. Full-leaded Starbucks Cafe Mocha. I'm not talking the wimpy mocha that I order each time I'm there (non-fat with half the chocolate and half the whipped cream). I'm saying go for the gusto just once. Grande Cafe Mocha with whip. You'll be almost tripling your Weight Watchers points, but your pleasure quotient will soooaaaar.

What are some of your bad favorites? Maybe I'll adopt some new ones.

This entire post is so hypocritical since I'm on a weight-loss challenge and have lost 16 pounds so far.

It's fun to dream.

Monday, January 12, 2009

He Can Now Be Tried As An Adult

We began Alexx's birthday celebration at 6:15 this morning by sneaking into his room and silly-stringing him. That was fun!

And what did I say he would do? Yep - he washed off his van before leaving for school! What a stick in the mud. But I believe he was loving it just the same ...

Nana and Papa (my parents) came down for the night to celebrate with us, and we had a fun evening.

There are always plenty of hugs for Nana:

Alexx picked up his love for rock music from his parents, and he has evolved from there. He is now extremely knowledgeable about the entire genre and taught himself how to play drums after Sean gave him his old drum set and showed him a few things. He now has his own band - based very noisily in our basement, of course:

For his birthday, we are spending next weekend in Cleveland to visit the Rock Hall of Fame - which is a place he's wanted to visit for a long time. It was a surprise, so for his gift, we bought him a Beatles t-shirt and I wrote this and put them together in a gift bag:

Johnny Cash was called the Man in Black
James Brown was the Godfather of Soul;
Eric Clapton is sometimes called Slowhand,
Elvis was the King of Rock and Roll.

Ike and Tina got in the year you were born,
the new millennium brought in James Taylor;
There’s been the Eagles, the Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, and Bowie,
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

From Allman Brothers to ZZ Top,
from ‘86 to 2009;
there have been over 200 honored so far,
this could be Metallica’s year to shine.

Do you wanna check out the best of the best,
and imagine what it would be like to be ‘em?
Pack your bags, pack a smile, clear your schedule for next weekend,
‘Cause we’re going to the Rock Hall of Fame and Museum!

So we have an 18-year-old son! He is a great kid, and we're so grateful for his faith in God and time and energy he spends as a member of our church family. Right now he is doing an internship with the junior and senior high pastors as part of his senior year and is hoping to coordinate a concert of local bands for a small charity benefit for his senior institute project.
I feel like my time with him is dwindling; and I just hope and pray that I've done enough of the right things in parenting him.
Happy Birthday, dude!

How Did This Happen?

Wow. This is a hard one to write and I'm not sure why. My first son turns 18 today. There are so many emotions wrapped up in that sentence, I don't think there are words to adequately describe what I'm feeling. I at once feel both older than I really am and not nearly at the point in my life that I should be able to say I have an adult son.

We were less than two years older than Alexx is now when we had him, and it really doesn't seem like that long ago. Alexx says he enjoys having young parents. We'll see if he still feels that way when he goes out to leave for school in the morning:

He hates anything that calls attention to him, so I wouldn't be surprised if he opted to be late for school in order to try and wash it off. We just couldn't resist. We have a few other things in store for him, as well. We're so wicked!

Hey - this is what you get when you've got parents who aren't much more mature than you are.

Happy Birthday, my son!

To be continued ...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Itch To Work . . . For PAY.

Next month will mark 10 years since I got up every morning to commute my job as an ad agency account executive. I did freelance work for two years following that - but on my own terms.

Every so often, I feel the urge to get back to work, but something always blocks my way - not wanting my boys in childcare, an autism diagnosis, a mood disorder diagnosis, homeschooling for a year ... And so far no one has offered to pay me to do what I do everyday anyway.

So I'm itching again. However, after this many years out of mainstream employment, I've become quite fickle about what I'm willing to put up with in pursuit of a paycheck. My previous career in the world of advertising was exciting at first, stressful all the time, then finally quite a moral fight. Turns out it doesn't make me happy or fulfilled to take advantage of clients in the name of money to please my bosses. And did you know that translates to me not being a "team player"?

I love to write, of course, but I'm not sure that translates to others liking to actually read what I have to say enough to pay for it in one form or another. Enter here the confidence issue that has plagued me my entire life.

So what to do? I'm not sure what I have to offer that will matter, though I know I'm qualified to do a heck of a lot of things - if that makes any sense. I think I need to dust off my journalism degree and hang it back up to remind me of where I came from and what I once knew I had in me.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Time Is On My Side. Yes It Is!

It's a new year. Again. Broken down by months, years, even decades; time seems to fly by, and at the same time stand still.

So many events and memories we attach to timelines tucked away in our minds to be called up again like files on a hard drive. Exactly one year ago the windshield on my van cracked all the way across in a single instant on a frigid morning trip to Walmart. It's coming up on a year since our beloved 12-year-old golden retriever died soundly in his sleep after a freak January thunderstorm.

Eighteen years ago I was days away from the birth of my first son - at the same time excited and terrified of my own life. At 19 years old, we had no idea what we were in for.

Nine years ago we had just moved 1,200 miles away from family and friends and were making a new life for ourselves in Houston, Texas; and three years ago we were trying to make heads or tails of what it meant to have a son with autism.

Could it just have been six years ago that I was pregnant with our third son in Texas, Sean was doing consulting work in Milwaukee, and we didn't know where we would be living shortly after this baby was born? Is it even possible that in February it will be 10 years since the days where I got up every morning and commuted downtown to be an account executive at an ad agency?

And could it really have been just over 10 years since I watched my oldest son fight for his life at Riley Children's Hospital?

Time is a funny thing. We use it to mark events, measure age, cope with situations. We hang on to yesterday, dream about tomorrow - and sometimes just pray to get through today.

This year I would like to put more emphasis on today. What can I do today that matters? Today is the exact same number of minutes that yesterday was and that tomorrow will be. So why do we spend so much time focusing on those minutes that we either cannot change or can't yet do anything with? Today's waking hours are what matters.

How is your today going?

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Know, I Know.

I know I have woefully neglected my blog (and have heard about it!) I have had a constant stream of family here and have been thoroughly enjoying them, so you'll just have to wait a bit longer to hear from me!

In the meantime, enjoy:

Belated Merry Christmas, my friends.

(A little background - Brad Avery, guitarist for Third Day until last spring, wrote this song while waiting to bring their daughter home from China.)