NEW SITE ANNOUNCEMENT: Same content, new location:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Not Who Am I, But Where's My Place In This World?

When someone's struggling to figure out "who they are" - it isn't that they don't know themselves, but their purpose has become a question rather than a known answer.

A midlife crisis is one of those seasons, as is an empty nest, an involuntary career change, a chronic illness, a divorce, widowhood. When my girls left home, I filled my time with hobbies - not because that was my purpose, but it distracted me from the unfocused and uncomfortable feeling of being lost, a little boat cut loose from its anchor. 

Who am I?  Not exactly, more accurately - What's my purpose now?  What's my direction?  I spent many years focused on those people who now feel like bugs under a microscope, so I have to take responsibility for redirecting myself.

A season of discovery.  A short season of naval gazing, perhaps, to figure out what I had to offer and making a decision of where and how to make the offer. My most developed skill set revolved around motherhood and family. But beneath that skill set is the desire that influenced me to be the mother I am/was.

That desire needed to be discovered and understood.  It was the natural expression of what became important to me as I navigated my own life.

Are you in a season of wondering "Is this all there is?"  If so, I can tell you - the answer is no.  I don't need to know where you are, to know that if you feel that way - there is more for you.  Have hope and keep reaching out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yep, I Finished the Pies Off Yesterday at Breakfast!

So... here I am, the Post Thanksgiving Me, a couple pounds heavier and happier for it.  Throughout the year I spend a lot of time NOT eating what I like.  This usually results in eating too much of stuff that's "ok".  The scale doesn't seem to move very much in response.

The other day, as I pulled a little lump of cold stuffing from a ziplock bag, my husband said, "Can't stay away from it?"

"It's sooo good. I haven't had good food in a long while. I'm so tired of eating crap all the time."  I really need to find a different word to replace "crap" in my vocabulary options.

I've increased my walking, or I'd probably be 10 pounds heavier, because I've finished 1/2 of a Pumpkin/cheesecake pie, and 1/3 of a pumpkin pie by myself over the weekend.  I also finished the homemade noodles, peas, corn and am working my way through the mashed potatoes.

RECIPE IDEA                    Cheesecake/Pumpkin pie

I use the recipe on the back of the Libby's Pumpkin can.  I use all the individual spices, not the easier (cheaper) version where you replace 3 spices with one.  I'm not near my kitchen right now, so I'll just trust that when you see the recipe you'll understand that reference.

THEN, I mix one 6 oz. pkg. of Cream Cheese with 1/3 cup of sugar and an egg.  I pour that into the bottom of my unbaked pie crust before topping off with the pumpkin mixture and bake as directed on the Libby's can. (I love Libby's.) This will result in at least 1/2 of your pie being cheesecake with a pumpkin pie layer on top.  You can split it between 2 pies if you like.  It usually leaves some mixture that won't fit in the pies. I put that into little custard cups and bake along with the pies until it tests "done" with the holiday "knife mark in the middle of the pie" tradition.

Food is such a significant part of tradition.  The last few years my husband has skimped on holiday dinners to lose weight.  This year he had a normal dinner.  I can't tell you the difference it made for ME.  Fixing the Thanksgiving dinner, with my Granny's recipe for stuffing, Libby's pumpkin pie recipe - mixed with the cheesecake recipe from my late mother-in-law, and my husband's recipe for mashed potatoes (saute 1/2 a large onion in a stick of butter and blend into potatoes after you've fnished them with the mixer) is a gift.  When someone chooses to diet, it feels like you've given a very special gift and it was promptly stuffed in the back corner of their attic.

I'm bored with eating meals of "sustenance" as my husband calls those uninspiring foods.  I'm also disgusted that with eating all that "sustenance" the bottom of my stomach still touches my leg when I curl up on the couch. I've decided good food is worth working for - I'm going to enjoy my meals without going into gluttony, and increase my exercise.

For some reason, yoga - which is not at all cardiovascular activity - makes a significant impact on my poundage.  So, I'll add at least 15 minutes of yoga into my day (which makes me feel taller, also) and get a good long aggressive walk in each day. This week I'm listening to The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit on my iPod as I walk.  It's a lovely story, and is free on

Deer hunting season started on Monday here, so I'm sporting a sexy super-sized orange vest that belonged to my late father-in-law as I walk the trails around our house.

What are the foods that have special traditional meaning for your family?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Be Careful, That Thing's Sharp!

To be quiet.... ARGH!  It's one of the hardest things to do.  It's hard to listen to people getting it wrong, mischaracterizing you or even out and out lying. I wonder how Jesus did it.  Knowing he held the keys to the kingdom of heaven, how did he bear the slander and lies without putting on a lightning show the world would never forget and saying, "Do you get it NOW?"

I know I'd do that. I remember a few years ago someone was driving me crazy. He was looking for a fight. Well, not really a fight, as that would involve talking to me about the misunderstanding.  He wanted to talk to other people about it. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to set it straight in a bitter manner and demand "Do you get it NOW?" I kept it no secret. I ranted and whined and practiced what I wanted to say until I'm sure my husband wanted a good piece of duct tape to stop the madness.

But from God I was hearing things like, "God is my champion, my defender, my deliverer, my help, my biographer. God knows the truth and sometimes that has to be enough." It was terrible in its wonderfulness.  I didn't know if I were spiritually mature enough to make it through this with dignity.

Sometimes a tongue is best used at rest. Otherwise it behaves like this:

James 3:9-12 "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

My tongue is the hardest thing for me to control and keep still. When I studied James last year, these verses were sort of like those you read past to get to something really meant for you. Today, it's importance astounds me.  'Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?' had to have been born from these verses.

I'm called to do good works that glorify God.  We're all called to bear that fruit. When I talk about God, I want to be believed. I wouldn't lie about God. I wouldn't insult you then try to talk to you about God - or would I?

Do you believe every news story from Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN? Why not? Yellow journalism isn't an oddity - it's the norm. Ever watch a report where they backpedal on everything they told you an hour earlier, because they jumped the gun? Or watch an anchor talk about someone's marital infidelity or divorce as though it's important for you to know? It isn't. It's trash and gossip, which used to be an embarrassing habit.

I was burned on a story about Taiwan a few years ago, and I'll never again share a big news story without doing a little research of my own first. Until it has a second source, I still consider it a rumor. News outlets have allowed their reputation to undermine their fundamental purpose.  To know what is newsworthy and to tell it truthfully.

Romans 1:18 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."

I thought this meant to purposefully cover up the truth; doesn't it sound that way? Not allow Bible ownership, or religious worship.  Persecute those that convert to Christianity or participate in Bible study. Or, in our free country - forbid kids to wear Jesus T-shirts, start a battle against wishing people Merry Christmas, or change Christmas to "Sparkle Season."

But this week, it was brought home to me that these verses have everything to do with one another for ME. My unrighteousness suppresses the truth when I destroy the reputation of my tongue. If I've used it to gossip, humiliate, judge, or return hurtful remarks in an argument -  I've revealed a heart of cruelty, not compassion. Compassion is to have sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Who would glorify God in response to my tongue telling a sweet testimony of God's work, after it's spewed so much bitterness? Who would believe me?

Just as Fox News & MSNBC reveal their true character with the stories they cover, my tongue reveals the true condition of my heart with the things I allow it to say. Even the things I only desire to say are powerful warning lights on my spiritual dashboard. My tongue tells me so much more than it tells anyone else. Perhaps I shouldn't get so upset when I realize someone isn't listening to what I'm saying, if I'm not willing to listen to myself.

Oh, this growing thing is hard........

Thursday, November 15, 2012

God, Could you just tell me the whole plan now?

Perhaps because I'm starting a second career, (or second life even) my first was my family, (Both directions - first my birth family, then the family I gave birth to) I feel a little hesitant at crossroads.  Sometimes in the middle of a path, with no forks in sight, I stop and wonder if I'm going the right way.  Should I go back?  Should this path be wider, perhaps zigzag a little more, or even be more like an obstacle course than a finely pebbled trail? Did I miss a sign back there?  Am I lost? It's terribly quiet here all by myself.  Family is a group activity.

Oh, wait! This is a group activity as well.  Only the group contains just a couple of us.  There's me, of course... and God.  And our project is me.  It's changing me, growing me, stretching me, teaching me, equipping me, pointing me in the right direction to ... well, to be fruitful. To be a good daughter and help Dad with whatever his assignment is.  It could be writing a presentation.  It could be picking up supplies for his kids at the homeless shelter.  It could be giving His Word to someone who needs to hear it.

See, that's hard for me.  I want a detailed plan of action, a flow chart of necessary steps.  Please tell me what I'm doing today and why.  Then lay out the next 10 years, highlighting the important steps that the rest of the plan depends on, so I'm sure I do exactly the right thing. If you're only revealing the next step, the next 30 inches of tightrope, I might get nervous that there isn't any tightrope beyond that step. Am I stepping foolishly or faithfully. (Yes, I've changed my wooded pebble path to a tightrope, because that's the way my mind works.)

"Keep looking at me."  He says.  His eyes warm and inviting.  His hands are stretched out around me in case I teeter off balance.

"I don't want to mess up.  I don't want to waste time.  What if I die before I get this right?" I tend to worry.  Do you see that?

"I'll show you more, as you step forward more.  Come toward me."

This blog is the documentation of the trip of my life.  It will contain fear, suspense, exhilaration, tears, many Aha! moments, revelations, and I write it only because I have to.

Whether I write it simply because
  • I process by writing and he wants me to really "get it," 
  • Someone else out there feels a little crazy when they second guess, third guess, fourteenth guess God's whispered direction on that quiet path (or trembling tightrope) and gains a little bit of... "Ok, I'm not the only one that finds this a bit uncomfortable.  See her over there on the other side of the circus tent? (where else would you find a tightrope?)  Sure, she's on a different rope, but it feels the same for her.  If God can use this screwy woman, well... he surely can use ME! 
  • Whoa - did you see what God taught her today?  I needed to learn that too.  What a fantastic NONcoincidence!

I don't know the end of the story.  I only know now.  I can't be obedient tomorrow. I can only be obedient now.  I don't know where God wants me in 5 years.  I only know that if I go where he wants me to go each day... I'll be where he wants me to be in 5 years. And he does want me to be somewhereHe wants us to bring light to the world, to do good works that glorify him, to be evidence of his incredible supernatural provision and love.
My favorite Christmas movie always comes to mind when I think of this.  God is represented as the Moon and you are Mary Hatch. Jesus is represented as George Bailey  (You HAVE seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," haven't you?)  George was going to lasso the moon for Mary and bring it to her.  And she'd swallow it and it would dissolve within her and the moonbeams would shoot out of her fingers and her toes and the ends of her hair. No one could contain God's light and not be transformed by it. No one could behold such a spectacular miracle and not desire it for themselves. 

I want to be a part of that. I have to trust Him to provide the safe spot for my foot to step, to teach me what I need to know. To practice humility in seeking to move closer to God every day.

I have to crawl up into his lap and be willing to look at the things He shows me through HIS eyes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's Wrong With Me, Part B

Continued from yesterday.

I took my “time out” on the patio. It was the wonderful week when Indian Summer sets in, so it was pleasant, but in truth... with enough layers, you can be comfortable outside almost every day.

Here are my steps to finding out the cause of my restlessness and agitation:

ONE:  No Tech Time – No TV, telephone, texts, email, internet, or video game. Most of the time no music, either.  These are easiest to avoid outside.
As I sat there, I felt antsy. My mind is quite a worker and she kicks in when I get quiet. I think of the book I haven't yet opened, the pans sitting in the sink to wash, my Bible study - which I'm 3 days behind in, letting the dogs out, doing laundry. Then my mouth kicks in – I want a snack or a drink. I start holding my stomach in, engaging my bandhas. Yoga is a demanding wench, reminding me to multitask... and yes, I know this means I'm doing it wrong. (My understanding of yoga is less than rudimentary, but I feel taller and less soft after a practice.)
And then... I hear the breeze washing through the leaves and sounding like ocean waves. A chipmunk chides me because he's afraid to run past me to the bird feeder. An airplane buzzes out of my view, and I take and release a deep breath. I begin to feel refreshed. And, it always happens... if I wait 10 minutes past the moment when I think, “This isn't working! I need to get something done!”
Then I reach for my pen and books.

TWO:  Thinking time. This is when I study with my pen and notebook nearby, and here's what I get from that.
  • Topics for studying or writing.
  • Edification – I'm able to make decisions on the basis of what is truly in line with my values and priorities. When I starve that part of me, or tap it out through the decisions and situations I face, I begin to react out of emotion or exhaustion. Rather than confidently resting in my decisions, I second guess them.
  • Clarity. There are aspects that my week will need and this time brings those into perfect clarity. No, I don't plan my entire week in 15 minute blocks, as I used to, trying to get every little thing scheduled in. Instead, I clearly see the handful of activities that need to be part of my week, and in doing them, I find a perpetual source of energy. Completion of those activities provide more energy than they consume.

THREE: I let it set.

My friend Robyn said her husband gave her those 3 words when she'd get anxious about a situation. “Let it sit.” Soak it in, let it set, add another day of this private time, soak it in, let it set. I find clarity not only in handling the 5 big things I need to do this week, but in who I am and what's important to God in my life is clearly revealed to me. Perhaps not His plan for my next 5 years, but for today. For this week. For the next step. I have a tendency to "run with it," so this requires some discipline and, yes - patience, on my part.

I develop an inner source of energy, with stamina for a long run. God's power is revealed in my life as I discover the tasks before me aren't as difficult or confusing when I let him direct me and provide what I need to complete them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What's Wrong With Me, Part A

Sometimes there's this tension inside me so tightly coiled I'm driven to respond to it. It's uncomfortable and I'm sure of one thing... I will act on it.

I know you've felt the same way. I've made some rash decisions in response to that tension. Some of those decisions soothed me – eased my tension the way a glass of wine eases the end of a bad day, while others distracted me for weeks, months, even years. When the tension returned, I changed something else.

And then there were books. Ah, my ever present lovers. There were many times I didn't make rash decisions, but instead dived into a new book. Self Help, Time Management, Life Management, Spiritual, Psychology, Al Anon – they were my wiser selections. I learned a lot about my fragile mental, emotional and spiritual composition there. I also learned many tips, tricks and motivational techniques – and in all sincerity... who doesn't like tips, tricks and motivation?

The concept of being still or quiet, submitting to doing what I knew was right when I didn't feel like it was foreign to me. Still can be uncomfortable at times. It's knowing you'd feel better if you exercised but since you don't feel like exercising you find something else to do. Knowing you'd feel better if you didn't have pasta and instead had a beautiful salad... and forked that spaghetti in anyways.

Like last week. My bible study lesson seemed pedantic and uninspiring, I'd gotten behind on my blog commitment. I hadn't taken a good cardio walk in over a week. My inner self was agitated and impatient. I was very uncomfortable. Something was eating at me. There's a restless discontentment, stirring, or rather churning. I wanted to DO something.

Doing something was my go to coping mechanism in the past. I'd find an activity, craft project, start a new hobby or get a pet. I've changed jobs, joined a new group, went away for a weekend, signed up for a class, went to a movie or spent an hour on the phone. I've also said, “Let's move!” (I lived in an embarrassing number of apartments in my late teens and early twenties.) Any of those things would lead to something else and I'd be off chasing that for awhile.

Instead, I carved out a piece of time and secluded myself for a bit. I went outside and found some clarity.

What have you used to distract you from that uncomfortable tension?

Tomorrow, I'll share what I learned in those moments of seclusion.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Love Books... Really!

“When I realized it was a book, I knew it was from Mom.” Heard at the family Christmas party a couple years ago after my daughter opened her Grab Bag gift.

Books, to me, are the closest thing to sacred that any possession could be.

As a little girl, I remember a set of books from Disney that I read over and over – except for the boy stories, like Jungle Story and Robinson Crusoe, which just never appealed to me. Old Yeller was one of the stories I read only once. It was horrifying.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

I ate up the Beverly Cleary books. I read the Bobsey Twins books that my aunt had left behind at my Grandmother's, the Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Trixie Belden series (wouldn't it be cool to be named Honey, like Trixie's best friend?) I also loved horses, so The Black Stallion series I scooped up in junior high. Standing in front of that book shelf that covered the south wall of our school library... the sense of pure pleasure is something I can recall 36 years later. I can picture the spines, recall the smell, and remember worlds impacted by none of my reality.

Then there was my high school library, and the public library of every town I've ever lived in. I always had a card. I love to sit at the tables surrounded by all that wealth. Some girls may feel that way in a jewelry store, or in the presence of designer clothes and bags. Some men may feel that way at a car show.

I even admired the text books I received the first day of school for history or English, not so much Science. As a teenager, I could never fall asleep at my bedtime. I would open my curtains and read book after book after book by the light of a street lamp 100 feet from my bedroom window. I can safely say that if this hurt my eyes, it didn't present symptoms for 30 years.

My family has its share of dysfunction, which I've come to understand in the Self Help section of my local book store. I had (have) the Pisces quality of struggling to finish what I start, until I read books on how people ALMOST succeed at almost everything but stop a step short. (This has caused an entirely different set of issues ,because I'm not always sure when to give up. Not everything I've “stuck with” has been a success story.)

So, when I say I love books... I mean it. When everyone in my family got Kindles, I felt personally responsible for saving books. Tangible paper with the occasional ink dot in the wrong place, fresh spines, beautifully soft paper that feel as soft as bedsheets or cheaper, coarse paper of paperbacks. The horror of waking to a world without books really scares me... and if the power goes out.. so do our Kindle “books.”

I have a collection of books that teach survival skills... and though I may never need them – I'll keep them, in case someone else needs them someday.

Books took me everywhere I've never gone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Free Kindle Books - Christmas WHAT?!

Yesterday, I was at the store and I heard my first public Christmas song. My heart thrilled a little bit. I happened to be project shopping for a special gift for one of my daughters. On top of it all... I saw about 10 snowflakes yesterday morning. So, we'll just get this out of the way. Here are some free Christmas themed Kindle books. Many of the ones I browsed this morning were shorter length.

For your PREholiday reading pleasure..

The Father Christmas Confessions: A Christmas Comedy 
by Emily Ann Benedict

146 pages

What if Santa Claus isn’t one man? What if he is a secret organization?

Jeremy Ogden has 25 day to accomplish his mission and a list of people whose lives can be changed forever if he makes it to them in time. He just has one big problem…And her name is Virginia.

Virginia Kipyard is the last girl Jeremy wants holding his family’s ancient secret, no matter how many times his mother suggests she’s “the right girl.” But if he wants to save the life of the next man on his list, he might just need her help.

The “season of miracles” is about to take on a whole new meaning, even for Father Christmas.

Christmas in the House of O'Byrne (Druantia's Children) by L. S. Fayne
246 pages

The House of O’Byrne, governed by Haley's line, has become one of the most magically powerful branches of the O’Byrne dynasty. Adell, who is the new Matron, has opened its doors for the winter celebrations. Over a hundred people will be attending. These aren’t strangers. They are the people Adell has known all her life, and magic literally dances on their fingertips.

Things start off right with the love of family, and the magical shenanigans of those happily carrying on. Then start going terribly wrong. There is a traitor from within whose jealous spite wants to crush them all.

Unaware of the threat, the teenage girls fool around with magic and inadvertently open a portal into Faerie. This initiates a whole mess of complications.

Trapped within the magical house, deep love and silent hate are constant companions until the truth is exposed.

Christmas Chaos by Jennifer Conner
25 Pages

Christmas chaos hits Josiane. All she want to do is get to her family's Christmas Eve dinner for once on time. Instead, she gets stuck in her office's elevator with a tall, stranger in the dark.

Christmas Beyond the Box by Josh Langston
63 Pages

The holidays mean many things to many people. "Christmas Beyond the Box" takes that notion a little farther, and provides some enchanting looks at the season from some very interesting perspectives. Suitable for all ages, there's sure to be a tale worth re-telling in this collection for many Christmases to come.

Beginning with a race of holiday sprites who can't stand the limelight and ending with an eccentric billionaire who only sees his family the day *after* Christmas, this collection provides enough laughs, sighs, and insights to satisfy the most discriminating tastes.

Checking It Twice by Melissa L. Webb   Christmas HORROR???!!! 
Yep, that's what it says!
23 Pages

Public Domain Selections.


Winner of the October Drawing! was my friend for this drawing. I plugged in the total number of comments and it eventually generated the number 13. The first number it picked was 61, but when I went to my list of comments... that would have been one of my own replies. So, when I counted through the list, the winner - with a lucky 13 - is Ms. A. It was her comment on THIS post that won the prize. Ms. A has won a $25.00 Gift Card! 13 is my lucky number and today it's Ms. A's also. Ms. A, I've emailed you to make arrangements to get your prize to you! You're a winner! How often do you get to hear that? Not often enough, I'll guess!