Book Review: The Complete Guide to Getting…. *Winner announced*

Title:  The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized
Subtitle: *Manage Your Time *Eliminate Clutter and Experience Order *Keep Your Family First
Author: Karen Ehman
Publisher’s Synopsis: The key to good organization is not a one–size–fits–all method. It is a unique plan that considers personality type, lifestyle, income level, and family schedule. Author and speaker, Karen Ehman believes that with her simple step by step process moms can recognize their own personal style of managing their households successfully and develop a unique plan that gives them the freedom to:

  • manage their time wisely
  • de–clutter and organize their homes
  • plan menus, shop more efficiently, and become more comfortable and creative in the kitchen
  • get children involved in pursuing an ordered life and home
  • avoid the trap of overcommitment
  • use practical tools to assist in organization

Getting and staying organized means more time for the important things in family life—concentrating on cultivating a close, personal relationship with the Creator, drawing His word into every aspect of living, and ultimately tying their children’s heartstrings to God.

Every December (that I remember anyway), I go over to LibraryThing.com and sign up for their SantaThing.  This is just a fun gift exchange thing that involves books.   This year, they used Bookdepository.com and due to snowy conditions, the big pond, extra screening in the US thanks to an irritating little pipsqueak of a terrorist, and US weather, I didn’t get mine until almost February!  (or was it after?  I don’t remember.  It’s a blur.)  This was one of the books I received (along with Stephen King’s On Writing and a Kathy Herman novel that, unfortunately, I own).

Ok, now I’ve read more organization books than anyone should be allowed to read.  Let’s face it, most of them say the same things.  Get rid of clutter, put like things together, and put it back when you’re done with it.  My favorite advice I’ve ever read was, “If you have to choose between easy to get out or easy to put away, always choose easy to put away.”  YES!  So, I wasn’t sure what I’d find with this book.

First, the book is a casual fun read.  There aren’t a lot of lofty ideals that people with real lives couldn’t make work.  She has worksheets to help work through the ideas she presents.  She’s honest.  The book isn’t going to do the work for you, and she doesn’t pretend that it will.  A fun addition are the little notes from her daughter about helping kids organize and getting the kid’s perspective on it all.

There are room by room lists of things to consider when organizing, and even little blurbs by others giving little hints of what works for them in certain areas.  I enjoyed the personal anecdotes and related stories throughout the book.  It is always fun to get a glimpse of life in someone else’s family.

She moved from room by room organization to things like commitments, time wasters, conquering paper, and the always obnoxious meal planning and shopping.  And of course, she ends with a chapter on how to maintain now that your home is in order again.

Did I like it?  Sure!  I love books on organization.  Was there anything in there that I’ve never heard of?  Not really.  However, the relaxed way she writes, the encouragement she gives to “get in there and get it done,” and the way the book is laid out as a step-by-step process makes it a great choice if you’re ready to tackle your home.  Frankly, I think Kaye from my Confessions of a Decluttering Junkie needed this book.  She could have followed step-by-step, saved a lot of money, and she might have learned a lesson or three about not exasperating your family in the process.  My biggest recommendation for this book would be for people who know they need to do it but feel overwhelmed with where to start.  This book will walk you, without shoving you head first, through the steps to getting your home back under control.

So, as proof that I do learn from all these crazy books I read, I’m going to pass this book onto a reader.  Just post a comment and let me know what area in your home makes you most desperate for change. Congratulations, Vanessa!


Just Sayin’…

I’ve read it a million times in various books.  Someone says something like, “Well, things are just going downhill.  In my day…”  Invariably, the impression is clear.  Only “old” people are bothered by the relaxing of standards once considered important.  Well, I think I’m old.  Call me a hypocrite, but I’ve never been bothered by words like darn and heck.  For one thing, they’d been around for several generations before me and were far removed from the original words.  I get that language is fluid.  I get that things change.  I just don’t agree that all change is good.

It started with a so-called mild form of excrement.  Not as offensive as the “S” word, this word I’ve heard spoken glibly by nearly everyone.  I hate it, but I tried to keep my opinion to myself.  After all, just because I don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong.  Then there came the spin-offs of the vulgar “F” word.  I hate them.  Cannot stand them.  However, I have to say, they are still preferable to the more modern “F-ing” or “WTF.”  I hesitated typing those out.  I feel like I just used nasty language.  You know why?  Because I did.  I’m sorry, but it’s quite obvious what words are meant there.  The mind fills them in for you.  I have actually heard people say both aloud. Text-speak has invaded modern speech in new ways.  People actually vocalize “LOL” or “OMG” as if they are words.  I’m sorry, exclaiming “OMG” is frankly no different than saying “Oh, my God!”  Let’s hope that is a prayer on your lips.

I know that a lot of people say, “So what?  It’s just a matter of taste.  You’re just judging/putting your standards on others/etc.”  Um, actually, I’m quite certain that Scripture is clear on this kind of thing.

I know, I have a love-affair with the book of James.  People who know me well could have guessed I’d start there.  James 3: 5-10

5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.

8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;

10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

When I think of these verses, the first thing that comes to mind is how easily our tongue controls us rather than the other way around.  When you take Luke 6:45 and read it with James in mind, it becomes quite sobering.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Gulp.  When we’re throwing out words that refer to irreverent usage of God’s name, excrement, and the most vulgar words in our language, what does that say about our hearts?  Can we truthfully stand before the Lord and say, “I knew You’d use that language, so I was good with it?”  If Jesus wouldn’t use our choice of “phraseology,” then what makes those of us who call ourselves “Christ Ones” (Christians) think that it is acceptable for us?

I’ve actually heard Christians defend the use by saying that the Bible doesn’t forbid it.  Seriously?  We have movie and even TV show ratings that both signify and warn about “Profane speech” in their choices.  You can expect to possibly hear a few “mild” profanities in PG, possibly quite a bit with PG-13, and if you get to R, well it could be like the time we went to see the movie Phone Booth, expecting to have to overlook a few obscenities and left after just a few minutes and about 50 F-words.  It was ridiculous.  If the world can see that certain words are “profane” why are we so quick to dismiss it.  Ephesians 5:3-5 has something to say about that.

Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Um… no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk which is out of place…

What about the ESV?  I thought it was interesting to compare the NAB to the ESV on verse 4.

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

What the NAB calls obscenity, the ESV calls filthiness.  What the NAB calls silly, the ESV calls foolish talk.  What the NAB calls suggestive talk, the ESV calls crude joking.  OUCH.

Ok, I’m going to be horribly transparent here.  Occasionally someone will say something that sounds “just wrong.”  You know what I mean.  Thank the French for the concept of the “double entendre.”  Usually, I wish I could truthfully say always, I don’t comment.  I mean, really.  Just because one person’s words sounded suggestive when I knew it wasn’t meant to does not mean that I have to send everyone else’s minds around me into the same “obscene/crude” place that mine went.  And, I’ve noticed that the less often I let my mind stay in that place, the less often it goes there.  It’s as if crudeness begets crudeness.  Imagine that.

Look, I know we have what we call “free speech” in America, and I believe it is a wonderful right that the citizens should protect to the best of their ability.  However, as CHRISTIANS, we do not have that right.  As Christians we are specifically called not to be “of the world.”  We are told to keep our thoughts and speech pure.  I’m sorry, but even text-speak abbreviations for things that are impure don’t sanitize them.  Your spouting “WTF” when something goes wrong or astounds you puts the actual words in my mind.  As a Christian, you are defrauding your sister.  You are being offensive.  You are making it next to impossible for me to keep the impurity of such words out of my mind.  If you cannot see the need to restrain yourself for your own benefit, can you not show Christian charity to your sister in Christ?

When you tell a sexually implicit or explicit joke, turn everything into a double meaning, or use words that send others’ minds in those directions, you’re causing brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble.  Would you really do that if Jesus was right there taking part in the conversation?  I know you can’t “help” what jumps into your mind before you’ve had a chance to dissect it, but you can help putting those same inappropriate images and thoughts into the minds of those around you.

Hey, I’m talking to myself on that one.  Even my (truly) shocked, “Aaak” can do it.  I remember watching a movie once.  All the innuendo (or most anyway) went straight over my head.  It usually does.  However, when we went back to see it with friends and my kids, one person with us caught every single one– and made bothered noises to that effect.  Hey, I don’t blame her.  When you “get it” it’s hard not to be offended by it.  However, every single one of those “ugh” type sounds alerted me to the ugliness I’d missed.  On the one hand, since I’d brought  my older girls, I was glad of it.  On the other hand, I wonder how much of the ugliness they’d have ignored if they weren’t being alerted to its presence every few minutes.  My guess is that most of them would have been like me.  Clueless.  And that’s how I’d have preferred it. I do it often without realizing it until it’s too late.  As a mom, there’s a fine line between not drawing attention to crudeness or obscenity and pointing out what we avoid.  However, between friends, there’s just no excuse for sending one anothers’ minds into the gutter.

Or, in the words of one of those Disney cartoon characters.  “If you don’t have something nice to say…”

Just sayin’.

“… and discover I had not lived.”

Ok, so I have this thing about beauty.  I’ve been obnoxious about my postings on making life more beautiful.  I admit it.  Forgive me.  However, that’s not all Thoreau was talking about.  He was primarily talking about actually living the life we have– not merely existing, living!

This is the point of my book, Past Forward(Blog opera really…).  Willow Finley and her mother spent twenty-three years living the life they chose.  It’s hard to merely exist when you have so many interests, so much work to do just to survive!  One thing that Chad (and others) ask often is, “Why don’t you do it this other way.  Think of all the time you’d save.”  Willow says at least once, “What would I do with all that saved time?”

She’s happy– content.  She loves her life and her work.  She enjoys making her own soap, dipping and pouring her own candles, and embellishing every piece of paper she can.  She values things not because they’re new, stylish, or make her life easier.  She values things that have a history with her.  The journals her mother wrote, a vase she made as a child, and the ruana her mother made on a loom that is now broken.  She loves these things because she knows the love, work, and time put into them.  She values time not as something to be hoarded, saved, or wasted, but as something to be lived.

That’s what I want from my days.  It’s been my “theme,” if you will, for this year.  I can’t say it’s been a complete success, but it has been much more successful than in past years.  I’m learning to stop what I’m doing, look around me, and determine if I’m living or if I’m merely letting the day take me along for a ride.  That’s a wonderful thing!  I’m also discovering something else; things are getting done that usually I forget to do.  Right now, the tops of the cabinets are cleared (thank you for your help, Kevin), the counters are almost all oiled, the kitchen is clean, and meals are getting done without Kevin having to do as much.

I’m eating salads.  I LOVE salads, but I usually don’t take the time to make them.  I decided that it’d be cheaper, healthier, and a better use of my time to make a salad that I love than to avoid eating (because nothing appeals to me), eat at a fast food place (because I’m out and about and it’s more appealing than what is at home), and as a result, I’m really enjoying meals.  Yeah, I might get tired of them.  That’s completely possible.  But, what’s to say I don’t switch that salad making time with squash sauteing or chicken grilling.  That’ll work!

School is picking up around here.  I’m much happier with how our educational process is going.  It’s not perfect, but we’re getting there.  We’re getting there, because I’m making a concentrated effort to do it.  I’m even considering writing my own curriculum for Lorna.  Why not?  I can and maybe I’d enjoy teaching more if I had the fun of writing it first.  Maybe not, but maybe.

Our belts are tightening right now as we pay for things like dental implants, crowns, deep cleanings for periodontal disease etc.  However, I’m working hard to find ways to make and save money in order to do one of the things I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I want to go on a Dinner Mystery Train Ride.  I’m eager to join the Bugle Boy Murders of Company C one.  That gives me until either May 14 (daughter’s birthday… probably not going then) or September 10.  I’m thinking September is enough time to save for the ride and a hotel room so we don’t have to ride back home.  We’ll call it an early anniversary trip.  Two months later, we celebrate 23 years of marriage!  I know it sounds nuts, but it is just one way I’m making changes to LIVE this life I’ve been given.

You know, if I wasn’t paying attention to how I live my life, the decisions I make, and the decisions others make that affect me, a lot of this wouldn’t be happening.  I wouldn’t be taking the time to make cards, write books, or save for train rides.  I wouldn’t be finding ways to enjoy what I eat, enjoy my home, and enjoy my family the way I am.  I wouldn’t be focusing on recording memories as they happen, or vamping up the kids’ education.  I’d be moseying along as I have been for most of my life.  I like this.  I really like this.

Hungry

That’s what the sign said.  We don’t see those often here in our town.  This one was held by a woman, probably my age, standing into a nook at the corner of the parking lot.  It was easy to miss her.  I got the impression she hated being there and really didn’t want to be seen.

I’ve tried to give food to people with “hungry signs” in the past.  Usually, if they even accept the food, it’s grudgingly at best.  I’ve actually had them refuse it, insisting on cash or nothing.  That seems to be the norm in some places.  So, I’ll confess, even as rare as it is to see, I usually don’t stop.

I’m not sure why I did this time.  Maybe it’s because she was so inconspicuous.  Perhaps it was the discomfort that seemed to exude from her when you did look.  However, while I was in the store, I grabbed a roast beef sandwich and as I left, I tore a banana from the bunch I bought and stuck them in a bag.  Just as I pulled out of my parking space, someone stopped near her and gave her what looked like money.  She seemed grateful.

When I pulled up, she’d just picked up her sign again.  The stunned look on her face was sad.   She looked just like a dear friend of mine.  I handed her the bag and the gratitude was genuine.  “Thank you.  God bless you.”

Yeah.  That’s what she said.  She sounded like she meant it.

When I arrived home, I had one regret.  I grabbed a bag full of bottles of VitaminWater.  Why didn’t I put one in the bag?

You know, it was five dollars.  The average American spends that every day on coffee.  I had just spent six on wrapping paper.  WRAPPING PAPER.  It’d be tossed in minutes.   I won’t do it every time.  Maybe not even often, but I’m glad I did this time.  It was nice to offer non-cash help (as measly as it was) and have it accepted.  I hope she’s on her feet again soon.  I hope I never see her there again– for her sake.  Meanwhile, I’m thankful for the chance to help, even if just for this once.  it was a blessing.  God did bless me.  He surely did.

GREAT Giveaway!

My friend Lisa over at The Domestic Diva is giving away a GREAT Silhouette electronic cutting machine package.  We’re talking GREAT stuff here.  The contest rules are simple.  You don’t have to do ALL of them, but definitely do the first.

1) Leave a comment on this post telling Lisa what you’d make if you won this Silhouette machine bundle.

2) Share a link to this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter (see SHARE button at the bottom of her post).

2) Become a follower or email subscriber to The Domestic Diva’s Disasters Blog.

3) Comment that you follow the Silhouette Blog (tell them The Diva sent you).

5) Blog about this giveaway with a link back to this post.

Be sure leave your email address in your comment, if necessary.  This giveaway is only open to US residents.

Giveaway ends Sunday 2/27/11 at 11:59pm (Eastern Standard Time).  Winner to be announced first thing Monday morning (2/28/11).  Winner will be picked using Random.Org.

And if you just can’t wait or don’t win this giveaway, you can use the code, DIVA, and get the same Silhouette SD Electronic Cutting Machine Bundle as above for only $225!!!  That’s a $395 value!

Now, I’ve done a LOT of research on these cutting machines.  I was almost sold on the Cricut, but I didn’t like the whole cartridge thing.  I mean, what’s the point of a cartridge of 50 images when you’d only use 4?  That’s what I discovered when I was looking at them.  I found that I only liked/would use a few of each cartridge.  There is the “Share-a-Lot” thing, but it is another thing AND it’s still limiting.  When I found the Silhouette, I nearly screamed for joy.  One machine, LOTS of free images all over the internet, and if you want to buy one… you can.  buy JUST ONE.  JUST. ONE.  A couple of dollars later, you’re set for life buying JUST the ones you’ll use.  No need to have a rack of cartridges and stuff.  For a person with space as a premium, this is huge!

I’m excited.  If we weren’t tightening our belts to pay for dental work, I’d be buying the special package deal TODAY.  As it is, I’ll have to settle for praying that I win.  ENTER!  Maybe you’ll win!  And then I’ll send you a list of things I’d like cut please…

Spring Clean~

I can feel it.  It’s coming.  Right around the corner.  Open the window.  Can you smell it?  Can you feel the breezes that are going to erupt into gale-force (or nearly so) winds in March?  Yeah.  That’s it!  SPRING!

Ok, that’s not what makes me feel like spring.  It’s that deep need to clean.  I feel it in my fingers.  Some women get the gardening itch.  They imagine planting seeds, seedlings, and full-sized plants.  They can’t wait to dig, weed, and nurture plants.  They want to remove all remnants of winter and welcome spring with open arms… and mulch, fertilizer, and water– lots of water if you live in the desert like I do!

In a way, spring house cleaning is a lot like gardening.  You pull up the weeds (stuff that doesn’t belong where it is), dig out the beds (remove stuff that you don’t need anymore, i.e. dejunk), plant seeds (begin new habits), sweep the walks (clean up), sharpen tools (make sure everything is in good working order), and basically make the inside shine and flourish as much as the outside.

Yesterday, I did a little of this in our kitchen.  It’s time to oil the counters again, so I decided to start in there.  Ok, so maybe I was procrastinating on the whole grocery shopping thing, but it worked for me. There’s something energizing about clean cabinets.  Once I got started, I kind of went overboard.  Kevin came in and pulled the windows out for me so I could clean the outsides.  He also went outside and cleaned the outside of the fixed portion of the window.  It felt a little like the time my in-laws were here cleaning the back window.  I’m sure they spent two hours, each on the opposite side of the window, picking out every single spot.  No, we weren’t that diligent.  We went for the whole, “Now you can see out the window” look.  Yeah.

It’s amazing how beautiful a clean kitchen is.  Once I got started, I felt a little like Kaye from my Confessions of a Decluttering Junkie.  I didn’t want to stop.  However, the counters were dirty, the sink was full, and I got to the point where I couldn’t do anything more until the kids did their jobs.  Now, I could have done the jobs for them (and we did do some), but really, they have jobs fore more reasons than me not having to do all the work around here.  It’s important for them to practice consistency, responsibility, and diligence.  So, I waited for them to get it done, and in the meantime, I went to Home Depot for steel wool and cheap disposable paint brushes.  Time to oil the counters, remember?

We also went to the store and bought some groceries.  Lettuce, tomato, apples, pork chops, the works.  Yum.  Cleaned out a little of the fridge, cleared the “hutch” counter and then oiled the first coat.  YAY!.  The kitchen is getting clean!  I love it.

I’m doing some dejunking too.  That big candle… don’t need it anymore.  The candles I got for a Christmas present?   They can go in the Christmas box.  The Christmas centerpiece box can go in the garage.  Don’t need it in the kitchen anymore.  We also don’t need the second air popper and DVD player in the kitchen.  Oh, and the box for the heater?  Not necessary to decorate the top of the cupboards.  Oh, and the cornflakes?  I have a nice plastic container to store them.  Don’t need them up there with the empty post office box.  Yeah, my husband has a unique style of cleaning.  It’s called, “Stash it high.  She’s short.  It shouldn’t bug her up high.  He doesn’t realize that I can see it all from my “spot” on the couch.  Say bye bye to the stuff!”

The real question is, how long is it gonna last?

Book Review: The Shape of Mercy *Winner Announced!*

Title: The Shape of Mercy
Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher’s Synopsis“We understand what we want to understand.”

Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention and her family’s expectations by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job from 83-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.

Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped in the worldview of the day, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstition, and Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.

The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

After reading Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner, I chose this book eagerly.  If she did half as well with this story as she did with Lady Jane Grey, I knew it would be wonderful.  The book arrived, and I was in the throes of bridesmaids’ dresses.  Couldn’t read them.  Saturday night after one dress was definitely done, I decided to reward myself.  I immediately grabbed for this book and read it in a couple of hours.

I have a confession to make.  I nearly shut it and ignored it for another week or two.  No kidding.  The book opens with a similar scene to the One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Not only is there the whole birth story thing going on, but Mrs. Meissner actually lapses into first person present tense for a very short while.  I was so disappointed and frustrated.

I turned the page.  Boy, am I glad I did.  As I said, I was really hoping this book would be at least half as well done as the last.  It wasn’t.  It was twice as good.  Lady in Waiting was the appetizer.  This book is the full meal.

There are so many facets to this book that I am having trouble organizing them into a coherent review.  Unlike the last book, I was primarily drawn to the historical character– at least at first.  Mercy Hayworth was an incredible young girl.  Like Lauren, you can’t help become captivated by this young Puritan girl who truly loves the Lord and aches for the pain Salem is enduring– even as she endures her own pain at home.  She questions the validity of the accusations, and yet, she also manages to find ways to think the best of the accusers.  She’s certain that they’ve become convinced of their own stories.  The horrors of so many trials and executions weigh on her, until Mercy avoids anything public when she can.

There are many interwoven plots in this book– more than meets the eye at first.  Lauren’s father seems quite open and shut at first, but layers of his personality unfold that explain many things.  Her cousins also, in their own subtle ways, show so much of who Lauren is and how she became the young woman we meet in the story.  Raul is a bit of a mystery and, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the story.  I love how he refuses to be pigeonholed and yet not overtly.  Abigail Boyles has several of her own subplots that carry the story along brilliantly.

One of the most brilliant aspects of this book is Lauren coming to terms with her reverse snobbery.  She learned, through interaction with her roommate, Raul, her father, Abigail, and others just how she weighed everything in her life by wealth or lack of it.  There is a line near the end of the book, one we’ve all heard often, but it stands out in a fresh new way in the setting in which Mrs. Meissner has placed it.  “It’s not all about you.”

One of the beautiful things that Susan Meissner does in her writing is show pain for what it truly is without leaving us to writhe in it.  This story, like the last I read, has a very sad tale woven through the pages, but it has such deep beauty to that tale.  In addition, with it woven from past into present, she manages to leave the entire book on a much lighter, happier, and more hopeful note.  She may have made me a convert to historical fiction interwoven with contemporary fiction– well, at least if she is writing it.

If you liked Lady in Waiting, I cannot imagine that you wouldn’t love this story.  In my opinion it is even better– richer.  I tend not to give books five stars in my ratings, but I’m doing it on this one.  Perhaps it just happened to resonate with me in a way it normally wouldn’t.  That’s possible, I suppose.  I doubt it.  I really do think that this book is just that good.

Water Brook generously provided this book for review.  The opinions are mine.  If you’d like a chance to see if you enjoy the book as much as I did, leave a comment and let me know.

CONGRATULATIONS CHRISTY!  ENJOY!

Oh, and if you’d be so kind as to rate my review at Water Brook/Multnomah, I’d appreciate it.  I do have a much broader selection these days.  I think your ratings are helping!  There’s a new book by Josh Harris that I’m dying to get my hands on.  Hope it’s there this time!

To God Be the Glory!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

My daughter and I were having a conversation the other day. She told me about a sermon she’d heard that discussed how quick we are to believe things that are bad and accept them as a part of life, but when something good happens, when someone says, “The Lord did such and such for me,” we grow skeptical and are wary. The conversation is still swirling in my mind. Why do we do that? Why are we so quick to accept the bad, the negative, the ugly? Why can we so easily see Satan’s hand in the evil of this world, but when something lovely, encouraging, or good happens, we don’t expect it to last, we hesitate to see the Lord’s hand, or we see it as a curse in blessing’s clothing.

Philippians tells us we’re not supposed to do this. We think on what is true. If something good just happened, it’s TRUE. No amount of skepticism will change the truth that the good occurred. Commendable, excellent… praiseworthy… who do we think we are to spit on the blessings of God? Who do we think we are to pull the, “The devil made me do it” when bad things happen because of our own sinfulness, but when a blessing occurs, the Lord doesn’t get the credit? He’s God Almighty. ALMIGHTY. How can we have the audacity not to give Him the glory?

Don’t get me wrong. I know we don’t always do this, but I think Braelyn was right. It happens enough though, that a preacher had to write a sermon about it and the facts of it resonated with us. I’m a pretty positive person. I tend to assume the best of people, tend to think things will work out in the end, and while I love to tease about Murphy, his “law,” and its effect on people today, the fact is, I really do expect things to go pretty well most of the time.

So, why then am I so slow to give God the glory He deserves?

*now THERE is a case where I can say deserves and not cringe!*

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Twenty-two years ago at this time, I was getting ready for my wedding.  Mrs. Sherman was probably putting on someone’s makeup, Sara was likely fixing her hair, Noemi was most certainly cracking a joke, and I was probably ruining a pair of nylons.  It was a beautiful wedding.  It really was.  Sometimes I get caught up in memories of how things were not to my preference, but I really shouldn’t.  The people we love were there, we had a wonderful celebration and have pictures to “prove” it.  Family and friends drove from Iowa, in winter, so they could join us.  That was very special to us.  Local church friends worked hard to help decorate and make the ceremony a wonderful occasion.  Despite the ridiculous drama surrounding it, I really do have wonderful memories of the day.

Who knew that day that twenty-two years later, we’d be grandparents?  Who knew that baby girl my father carried on his arm as he walked me down the aisle would be a mother with a little girl and boy of her own?  We certainly didn’t imagine having nine children!  I did assume we’d still live in our house, and we do.  I did not assume my husband might be spending the day having dental surgery to give him implant(s).  We’ll see.  It depends upon what the periodontist says about his bone, the cost of the blasted things, and minor details like those.

We drove down to Victorville last night.  We like the Comfort Suites across the freeway from the mall.  They have nice large clean rooms with comfortable beds and cable channels we’re too cheap to pay for at home.  In the shopping center next to the mall is Outback.  Yeah, we enjoyed that last night.  Mmm.

I suppose not many people take a trip to a place like Victorville on their anniversary.  I seriously doubt surgery is on the lists of best ideas for anniversary celebrations.  Costco is on the agenda if he feels up to it or if I need to leave while they attack his mouth.  I’ll likely have a fish taco from Rubios on the way home.  Kevin doesn’t “do” fish tacos, but since he probably will be eating canned ravioli and vegetable beef soup for a week or so, I’m guessing he won’t mind if I do.

I’ll drive us home and keep him hopped up on pain killers for the long weekend.

Wildly romantic eh?  Yeah.  I suppose not, but it’s us.   It’s always BEEN us.  We’ve never been the rose petals and champagne types.  We’re more of coke, popcorn, and a good old musical types.  And that’s ok.  What probably seems inadequate to so many, is perfect for us.  To us, it’s beautiful.  And, since it’s our anniversary, isn’t that what counts?

Happy Anniversary, Kevin.  They’ve been the best twenty-two years of my life.  God blessed me greatly when He introduced you to me.  Oh, and do you want some ice cream?

Speechless

Ever have one of those days where you just don’t have anything to say?  Not one of those, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” kinds of days… just really don’t have anything to share?  Yeah.  I’m having one of those days.  I’ve been thinking about it and really, I could write about dinner tonight (Outback here we come!) or what I’m leaving for the kids to eat  (PIZZA!), but that’s nothing to write home or blog about.  I could write about our anniversary tomorrow… but then what would I write about tomorrow?  I could come up with a diatribe against the political climate in this country, the erosion of our freedoms, the abandoning of our Constitution, but honestly, don’t we all know it?  Is there really anyone who would read such a post and say, “Gee, I hadn’t heard that before!”?  I didn’t think so.

You know, it’s not like me not to have anything to say.  I’m a talker.  I talk.  A lot.  All the time.  Ok, not that much.  I used to though.  I’m also a writer, so I often talk with my fingers.  Some people speak “ASL” with theirs… I just speak silent English with letters.  I just don’t really have anything to say.  I could talk about the weather, but I think I’d be stoned from most of the country.  I’ve had my windows open for most of the week.  I could ramble on about the state of the roads, but do you really care that the section of Norma between Church and Upjohn streets is finally seeing real pavement after weeks of gravel?  I didn’t think so.

There really isn’t any temptation to gossip.  I don’t know of anything to share that anyone would care about.  Thankfully, that doesn’t leave me with any kind of dilemma as to whether what I’d want to write is gossip or not.  I simply don’t have anything like that to share.  Well, unless you wanted to know the super deep secrets of Lorna’s dolls or Ethan’s Lego knights.  Is it a sin to share those secrets?  Well, on the off-chance that it is, I won’t.

So, as you can see, I have nothing to say.  In the words of Miss Bates from Miramax’s Emma, I’m “speechless, absolutely speechless, and [I] haven’t stopped talking of it since!”

Time to Think about Christmas…

Yeah, I know.  I’m nuts.  I get that.  You see, I used to buy gifts throughout the year.  By October, I’d be three-quarters to all done shopping.  Between my kids getting older AND my “year of the chair,” that habit went by the wayside.  Well, I need to revise it.  I used to find great gifts at excellent prices, and spent a lot less on Christmas than I do these days, but to do it, I need to start NOW.  Actually, last month would have been best, but this is better than waiting until October, right?

There’s a problem, though.  You see, when kids are six, it’s easy to think about what they might enjoy in a year’s time.  If they’re new readers, in a year, they can handle games that require more reading later, if they’re eight, they can enjoy Legos with more complicated directions than the previous year.  However, when they get to be sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one… and have their own incomes, they buy what they want and when they want it.  Buying early is next to impossible, but I’m trying to find a way to do it.

Why do we think that a year is a LONG time?  Every year, almost everyone I know says, “Man, this year flew by!” or “Is it Christmas already?”  I know it technically is long, but practically speaking, there are only 312 days.  If you divide that 312 by the fourteen people in my local family… just them… that’s 22 days each to find, purchase, wrap, and be done with their gifts and stocking stuffers.  ONLY 22 days!  Since I buy two gifts per person, that is only 11 days per gift!!!  That’s less than every payday!

So, I have to get going.  I am going to work backwards.  It’s easiest to buy for the Bestekids, Lorna, Ethan, and Andra, so I’m starting there.  I know what I want to do, but it means work for some of them.  I can’t work on the bestekids’ gifts until I finish some bridesmaid’s dresses and a baby quilt.  So, I need to take advantage of the trips out of town to really see what’s available for Lorna, Ethan, and Andra– things they wouldn’t find here in Ridgecrest.  Outdoor toys?  Craft options?  Building sets?

Another problem is space.  We don’t have a lot of room here.  I can’t buy things like huge huge Knex sets or playhouses.  There’s nowhere to put them.  It makes me want to buy jewelry for the older girls.  No space!  YAY!  Ok, ok.  That’s not the best idea, but I can dream.  After twenty-two years of gift buying, creativity is waning– particularly with our space issues.

So, while the world is recovering from Valentine’s Day sugar overload (of all kinds), I’m imagining packages under a tree with favorite ornaments, popcorn strings, and shining lights.  I’ve always been a little odd…