Friday, November 28, 2008
I am Snoopy dancing! Why? I finished my book. Yay!!!!
After a long while of thinking, planning, mapping, outlining, researching, writing and rewriting, I am finished! Woo Hoo!
Please pray that it sells. In this market and with a first time author like me, it is a longshot! But God is the God of my words and He knows if it is just for me and my loved ones (heirloom for Noah) or if it is for the general public. We'll see. Plus, if I do sell it I will need to rewrite parts and edit it more. Editors' suggestions will make it better.
So it's a long uncertain road.
But today, I celebrate! I thank God for the creativity and joy He gives me when I sit down at my laptop. I thank Him for the process of following my dreams - what an adventure!
If you ever prayed for me or my writing, THANK YOU! Don't stop. Who knows? Well, God does, but He's not telling! :0)
Next week, I will be back to posting on my blog Tuesdays and Thursdays!
I have joined Facebook - if you are on, please befriend me!
I am already mapping out my next book! Yay!
I am booked for 8 speaking events the next four months!
In January I am starting a once a week "Joy-votion" called Steps of Joy. If you want to receive it, you need to be added to my mailing list, so email me.
But today? Parte'!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
As kids, my siblings and I would fight over the turkey wishbone. It was a treat to offer one end to my sister while I pulled on the other. The wishbone would break and whoever got the biggest portion got to make a wish that was sure to come true.
Tomorrow is another wishbone day. But this year, I won't dive across the table and fight my son or my nephew for it. I'm much too grown up for that...sort of.
This year I have dreams as always, but I am putting the wishes aside to such say THANKS. Thanks, Jesus, for all You've given me.
I ran across a great quote:
Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest, and simple graces as especial favors. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the Most High God.
Thomas a' Kempis 1380-1471
I am thankful for John and Noah. I am so blessed by my family and friends.
But right now I want to take a moment and be thankful for the simple graces, the little gifts in my life that add to my existence.
A huge bathtub
Coffee in the morning
Blueberry Blossom tea at Starbucks
The Colorado Sky
Books, books, books
An author I just discovered that cracks me up - David Sedaris
The Sunday New York Times Crossword
New Appliances that work - Yay!
A cell phone I still haven't lost
Pillows that are not too soft or too hard - Yep Goldilocks pillows!
Good conversations - the ones that make me think or feel
The absolute joy of creativity and writing
That thing that holds drinks in cars
Candles that smell good but don't overpower
Dancing with the Stars
The Academy Awards
AMC weekend matinees that only cost $5
Barnes and Noble
Pain that grows me (um...yea...I am thankful)
Thank you Jesus!
Do you have any you want to add that you are thankful for? I'd love to hear them.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Here's what happened:
My friend Loretta came over and wrote with me today. Appliances were going to be delivered so she was going to be with me when a strange man came in with a washer/dryer and stove.
I couldn't sleep last night and so today I was cranky. Then I got a call that the stove we ordered was incorrectly entered into a computer so they were going to deliver two washer and dryers. "They" fixed that. However when washer/dryer came it didn't work.
Cranky, almost in tears, surrounded by bad appliances, undercooked food and stinky laundry.
This is when my friend Loretta said, "Hey, can I read you my blog I am going to post?"
It's as if Jesus himself came into my house, saw my bad appliances and cranky heart and gave me good comfort and fresh perspective. Loretta's words offered truth.
So if you have any sense and especially if you are at all cranky, go to Loretta's blog called Complementary Thoughts at www.lorettaoakes.blogspot.com
I get a brand new stove and washer/dryer next Tuesday...oh well!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Martha Stewart is not from this planet!
Well, she’s not. I don’t ever watch Martha Stewart’s TV show. I don’t ever read her magazine. I pretty much ignore her. I mean, why read an alien’s how-to book?
But this time of year, every year, I feel the need to buy her Christmas issue. Something in me, and it ain’t the Christmas Spirit, my friend, possesses me with this insane hope. This fantasy that this year, yes this year, I will transform my simple condo into a holiday spa, complete with Jesus Jingle Bells made from sea shells, ribbon and walnuts to a simple centerpiece made of twine, cranberries, candles, garland and a glue gun.
The fantasy is intricate. I see myself opening my front door greeting guests wearing the dress Rosemary Clooney wore in the final scene of "White Christmas". It is a floor length velvet red dress with white fur trimmings. I look spectacular and seasonal. My teeth are extra white just from the glow of Christmas joy, ready and waiting with a smile that brings good tidings to even the grumpiest of souls. Guests may enter glumly or stressed, but one moment in my Christmas kingdom brings sighs of relief and happiness.
The oohs and aahs begin.
“Oh, Robbie, how did you ever make that?”
“Is that your homemade plum pudding I smell?”
“How did you manage to cut down such a tall and perfectly symmetrical tree?”
The flattery pours forth soon after.
“Robbie, your decorations…well…they aren’t gaudy or too simplistic…they’re exquisite.”
“I have never smelled such a perfect blend of potpourri in my life.”
“Robbie, I need to get saved again right now. Just because of your home.”
Like a reoccurring nightmare, the same scene unfolds in my mind every year.
And every year, the reality is a just a teensy bit different.
I open the door wearing whatever will fit me after the Thanksgiving season. Usually a baggy sweater and pants with an elastic band.
My teeth are accented not by their brightness, but my ever present gap, a gift from dear old Mom. Guests who enter my home glum or stressed are encouraged with “Lighten up. You’re having free food.”
“Robbie, is there any room to put my coat down?”
“Have you tried Resolve Carpet Cleaner?”
“Can you make your dog stop humping my leg?”
And the comments follow:
“Robbie, I love the dollar store, too.”
“Your home makes me grateful to God for mine.”
“I think something is burning.”
Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But it sure isn’t like the fantasy. So every January as I pack up the decorations and breathe in the peaceful air, sadness and a little depression gets mixed in.
I know why, too. It’s Martha. And all the other Marthas of the world who offer up 5 Ways to make your House smell like a Good Memory and 8 Simple Dessert Recipes and 7 Easy to do Christmas Crafts.
Maybe not for everyone. My sister Karen is an exception. Give her a bobby pin, some scrap cloth, a couple of pecans and some dried cherries and she comes up with a three-foot beautiful wreath everyone thinks was bought from Michaels. She is the MacGyver of crafts.
But not me. Give me the same materials and ask me to make something and I will brainstorm for five minutes and then run away screaming.
So, what to do?
This is the year, my friends. This is the year I claim my independence from that part of society that lies to me and tells me I must make my home a holiday retreat in order to enjoy celebrating my Saviour's birth. I am now independent of Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, (30 minute meals? Yeah, if you have a sous chef in your refrigerator!) Good Housekeeping and all the rest of them that tells me I can do it.
To twist an Obama phrase, “No I Can’t!”
And I am fine with that! I think I can still say Happy Birthday to Jesus without firing up my own manger scene at a ceramic store. I can still give gifts that say I love you without learning to knit in two weeks or creating a fabulous scrapbook in a month (each night staying up until 3 a.m.) I can still entertain my friends and let them know they are special to me. In fact, my party plan this year does not involve homemade centerpieces and three course meals.
My plan? Enjoy the people I love and serve whatever is on sale at King Soopers!
Aaahhh…I feel good.
And may God bless us, everyone.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
On Tuesday, I went to my nine-year-old’s parent-teacher conference. He is in fourth grade and his teacher is a young woman – just adorable. I graced the classroom for nineteen years and I know that a conference is a time to encourage parents first and then hit them with the truth about their dear little ones.
So, she told me everything wonderful about Noah. And there’s a lot. Yes, I’m biased. And then she said, “But there is something I would like Noah to work on.”
Okay, I thought. Here it comes.
“First of all, I want you to know that I appreciate that Noah is an advocate for his education.”
What? When I was a teacher, we went to parent-teacher conferences armed with euphemisms to soften the blow of truth. For example, I would tell the parents that Johnny was very social. What I meant was Johnny won’t shut up in class. If I told the parents that Johnny uses creative problem solving techniques, I meant that he often punches or pushes when he disagreed with anyone.
But I had never heard “advocate for education.”
Then Miss Adorable explained to me that my dear son likes to ask questions. Many, many, many questions. I started giggling, knowing exactly what she meant. Yep, my boy is an advocate for his education all right. He hounds his teacher about details.
When I told John, we had a good laugh. We talked to Noah about it and he said he would work on it. I hope he knew we were serious, but I couldn’t help giggle as we talked.
The next day as I prayed for my little advocate, God brought something to my mind. About me. Am I an advocate for my education? Do I ask questions? When I pondered what this meant, it occurred to me that God was leading me to a time of self-examination. It totally disappoints. :0)
But how can I learn if not by asking the tough questions about myself? Complacency is death to growth. I want to become the woman I am meant to be. I want to get better. In order to do that, I can’t ignore the dusty corners of my heart full of bad habits and patterns of sin. So I must ask God to help me. He takes my hand over to the corners and we start the examination. Questions are asked. Hard answers are given.
It’s tough and painful and messy. But it is my next step in my dangerous and fulfilling journey with Jesus.
Psalm 139: 23-24 says
“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
Then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (The Message)
Join me. Let’s be advocates for our growth.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I met him years ago when I was a kid. He seemed kind and fun and we became friends. For a long time, I only saw him every once in a while, usually on Sundays at church. We sat near each other. In the pews of my Baptist church with their mustard yellow cushions, I thought about him. I watched him.
In high school, we attended the same youth camp. It was in that West Texas camp that I really started talking to him. I found him so funny and adventurous. My crush bloomed and I started hanging out with him all I could. My friends saw a difference in me. When I returned to the hallways of my school, I talked about him. A lot.
In college, I decided I wanted to not only be around him every day, but I wanted to spend my life helping him with his cause. He wanted to save the world. An idealist for sure. But his fire, his passion ignited something in me. I joined the movement.
In my early twenties, I decided to marry. He wanted to be a part of the decision, but I didn't think it was really his concern. I mean, I told him about the guy, but he wanted to offer his advice. No thank you. Tragically I faced rejection and not marriage. My world collapsed. I blamed him. I don't know why. I decided to go my own way and leave the movement.
Even though I didn't want him to, he followed me. I told him to stop stalking me but at the same time I wanted him to be with me. I needed him.
For years, our relationship looked like two friends who say hello once a day and have dinner twice a week. But our meals consisted of me talking. He listened and occaisionally tried to give me his own take on life. I ignored him. I interrupted him. I treated him badly. He didn't leave. Once I asked him why he stayed my friend when I treated him so badly. He just smiled. I melted.
He introduced me to John. He was the first to visit at the hospital when I gave birth to Noah. He started calling every day asking me to hang out with him more.
I told him our occasional get togethers were enough.
But they weren't. Not really. But it would take such effort to put him into my busy schedule. So I didn't.
My marriage fell apart. The woman I thought I was, the woman I thought I was supposed to be, disappeared.
In my despair, I remembered that he always said he would come if I needed him. I called. He showed up immediately.
For the first time in my life I experienced something I'd never felt. Complete desperation. I knew He possessed the strength, the wisdom, the joy I needed. He would guide me if I let Him.
My desperation led me to a new kind of relationship with God.
I gave up control. I told Him to lead.
We started getting together every day. At first our times together were short, but more meaningful than ever. As my marraige healed, the three of us made a point of hanging out together. Then Noah joined us. John and I asked our friend to became a part of the family. A central part.
Today I cannot imagine life without Him. I cannot imagine experiencing the pain of life without Him to hold me and guide me and give me joy. I cannot imagine enjoying the incredible marriage I do without Him being the glue that keeps us committed and passionate. I cannot imagine raising a son without His wisdom and principles to guide how we teach and love our boy.
I cannot imagine.
I look back at the years and I see that His consistent love and presence has poured lavish grace on my life. And since I choose to live in His presence daily, moment by moment, that lavish grace runs deep in my life. It grows my faith and gives me laughter. It spurs me on to keep writing and follow the adventures He has for me.
The times we have alone are so precious to me. Our relationship has grown into a joyful and dangerous love. It is worth the choices I must make each day. He never forces Himself into my life. I must invite Him.
So I do. Every day.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Last night after church, my husband, son and I engaged in our weekly "Where should we eat?" discussion. This week it was my turn to list three places and then John and Noah could pick.
My list was not acceptable, so we continued our "discussion" as we drove around. John came to a busy intersection to turn left, but just missed the last of the yellow arrow, so stopped completely.
Noah, from the backseat commented on this traffic occurence, "That sucks."
"What?" I said.
"That sucks that we have to wait."
"Noah, when did we say it was okay for you to use the term "sucks?"
John concurred. "It is not okay to use that word."
"I'm sorry." Noah added.
"Use another word, like disappoints." I offered.
"That disappoints." He tried it out.
We still couldn't agree on a collective taste bud decision, so when John saw a Mexican Food restaurant, he pulled in.
"We haven't been here before." He suggested.
"Sounds good." I added. "It's fun to try something new."
From the backseat Noah commented, "Mexican Food? That totally disappoints."
Thursday, November 06, 2008
One of those days. You know the kind. We all have them.
You wake up startled but believing that everything will be okay. Then you sit at your computer right before sundown. Terrified.
Mine started this morning at 5:45 a.m.
I was in the sort of deep sleep that only happens every once in a while. The kind that must be interrupted by loud children. I think there is a law.
"Huh? What? What is it?" Sensing the gifts of Mr. Sandman, I blinked my eyes steadily.
"Mom? Are you awake?"
"What?" I wake up ignorant of any relationships I might have, including my one and only son. I stared at the boy in question, wondering who he was and how he got into my home.
"Mom, I can't sleep."
"What's wrong, Noah?"
"I can't sleep because of the water."
"One of my Star Wars posters is dripping and the noise is keeping me awake."
My eyes opened completely. He didn't look like he was sleep walking. In fact, his eyes communicated he was alert, cognizant, and full of clarity.
That made one of us.
"Did you say your Star Wars poster?"
After inspecting the scene, I concluded that Noah's Star Wars poster was, in fact, dripping. Uh-oh. I woke John and we deduced that our upstairs neighbor must have some kind of plumbling problem. We woke her up and she discovered that her hot water heater had busted.
I distributed towels and pans and decided to call a flood damage guy later in the day.
Later in the day I thought I would put a load in the dryer before calling the flood damage guy.
We inherited our dryer when we moved in. From day one I have understood that this particular dryer is either a)charming and quaint b)incredibly old or c)possessed by an appliance demon.
He (yes I feel he is male, and not female - let's not have that discussion)
doesn't just dry clothes like any old dryer. He must be cajoled and soothed and talked through the process. His door must be taped shut, (he only likes packaging tape - duct tape and masking tape result in the silent treatment with no drying) and his button must be pushed firmly but not too firmly. Said button must remain pushed for a few seconds. If I let go too soon, the dryer becomes mute again and gives me dirty looks.
We've lived here almost two years. Just in the past three months have my dryer and I come to terms with one another.
Today, the dryer rebelled. I let the button go too soon and it stopped. But this time he decided to whine about it. A low hum emanated. This has happened before and I knew that it was time to caress my charming, old and possessed friend. I reached in and turned the walls of the dryer while pushing the button. Voila'! The dryer started up and all was well.
But then, it stopped again. Suddenly, with a whimper one might make stubbing a toe or running into the corner of a table. This sound was new and I turned sharply and startled toward the dryer. (I've seen that Stephen King movie about the car that kills people.)
Silence. Then a smell wafted toward me. Burning. Not the delicious kind like at a BBQ joint or a movie theatre. This was violent burning. Carnage.
I opened the door tentatively. Smoke greeted me as if I'd walked into a 1940s Humphrey Bogart bar. The kind where all the men wear dark hats and all the women speak in low raspy voices.
I opened our back door and began fanning the smoke out.
Eventually, it stopped. No sparks. No fire.
After a couple of hours rest, I tried the dryer again. Apparently, he felt better and was ready to do his job once more.
Now I sit wondering what will happen next. And it will happen. These things always occur in threes. Somehow I've entered one of those horror movies and know that a masked appliance will do me harm after the sun goes down.
If only I could hear the audience yell to me later "Robbie, for the love of God, don't open that microwave!"
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Yesterday morning, my husband started our day with, "Well, it's 8:00 a.m. on the East Coast. Should we turn on the TV and see if they've called it?"
I laughed. His comment symbolizes the cynicsm we both share for politics.
But this year, being a divided couple - one Democrat and one Republican, we have shared some serious discussions about our country and its future. We have always agreed on the bottom line. No matter who wins, God is in control of our family and our lives.
Last night, as Obama won, I felt hopeful yet skeptical. My cynicism runs deep. But while watching and listening to his acceptance speech, it occured to me that hope is a good thing. (Remember that line from "The Shawshank Redemption?") Hope calls us to a positive outlook on the future. Hope lines our paths with blossoming flowers, not withering weeds. Hope fills faces with the possibility of success. Hope filled the screen last night as I saw African Americans crying for joy and Americans of all backgrounds shouting in happiness.
Hope is good.
But misplaced hope crumbles and never satisfies over the long run. So although I feel hopeful in our new phase of government, I season that hope with my heart felt cynicism. The mixture creates realistic optimism. My ultimate hope cannot be in Barack Obama. If it is, disappointment is inevitable. My hope lies securely in God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son Jesus.
Because of my hope in THE ultimate rulers, peace is mine.
Today I begin praying regularly for the presidency of Barack Obama. I pray that he will submit to God as he leads.
This morning on Twitter, Max Lucado cited Proverbs 21:1 -
"The Lord can control a king's mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases."
I hope for change that is beneficial and fruitful for our country. I hope for a time when we won't be at war. I hope for an upturn in the financial woes so many are facing.
Most of all, I hope that God will be merciful to our country and that we, as individuals and as a nation, will bow our knees to the authority of Him.
Hope is a good thing.