Saturday, August 30, 2008

Because we are all wanna-be producers...

So, no posts this weekend because Starr and I are WAY too busy working on this:


So, Monday afternoon, ya'll. Same time. Same place. Be there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Shack - in review

I just finished "Loving on the I Am - Part 3" and posted it below. This was actually written a few days ago, but I decided not to post it until the "I AM" series was finished. So here goes...

Everybody's doing it, ya'll. And since I just finished reading the very book that incites so many diverse opinions, I decided to go ahead and throw in my 2 cents.

To begin with, here are the things that I really like about the book:

While I don't consider this book a life-changing eye-opener, I do love some of the pictures of God that are portrayed by the author. And these portrayals did provoke some interesting thoughts and questions in my mind:

I recognize, in The Shack, the Jesus that I know as my best friend. I love that he is portrayed as a man, that he discovers the wonders of creation through a man's eyes. I have never thought about Jesus, as a man, enjoying the wonders of a world that he had created for man.

I also love the picture of Papa God, leading us through difficult places in order to dig out the roots of bitterness and give us the gift of forgiveness. Like the God I know, the God in The Shack allows his children to crawl into his lap and bawl their little eyes out. I really love that picture.

Time and time again, I saw pictures - snapshots, if you will - of the God that I know and love and walk with.

I also think that, for those who are really hurting, this books offers a good shot at answering the question, "If God is so good, why is there so much pain in the world?" I can absolutely think of people in my own life who are struggling with this very question, and for them, I think this book could be a good move in the direction of understanding and, ultimately, healing.

But as much as I love those things about the book, here's the bottom line, ya'll: It's a good book. A good fictional book. It's not the Bible. It's not absolute truth. It's fiction.

And just as with any piece of religious literature that a Christian reads, we are called to weigh any written words against the written Word of God.

There is definitely some questionable theology, as Eric's Wife points out so very well. I won't go into all those details because, quite frankly, she said it all a lot better than I ever could.

So, read the book, and if you like the flavor of it, then take the meat and spit out the bones, ya'll.

Eat up the wonderful reminders of God's unconditional love, 'cause that part was quite tasty. But weigh it against the Bible, and if any of it causes some indigestion, I suggest you throw it out.

Just don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Ok, I think I've driven my over-cliche'd metaphors into the ground.

You get the point.

If you have read it, what do you think about it?

Loving on the I AM - Part 3

In those five words - "I AM who I AM" - Moses would find the faith to realize that, even if he could not see the goodness in what God was doing, he could believe in the goodness of who God is and know that, because God is good, what he does is good.

From our perspective here in the 21st century, we are able to look back and see exactly what God was doing during those 40 years.

In those 40 years of wandering, a transformation was happening in the people of Israel.

The taste of quail and manna for 40 years cleared their palates of the spices of Egypt so that, when they reached the Promise Land - with its milk, and honey, and giant grapes - they would not still desire the tastes of the foods they ate in the land of bondage.

When they left the land of Egypt, it is probable that they trusted more in the Egyptian gods than they trusted in the God of Abraham (Exodus 32), but after 40 years of relying on Him for food, water, clothing, and direction, they would know the I AM was the only God who had provided for them on their journey.

It took 40 years to raise a generation birthed in freedom. Those who were left to wander in the desert an addition 40 years were those whose roots were still in Egypt. Their mindset was that of bondage because it was all they had ever known... and all their parents had ever known... and all their grandparents had ever known. But the generation that entered into the Promise Land had been birthed in the desert, in freedom. They had never tasted the bitterness of slavery and had only known the freedom of the Lord. This was the generation the Lord would use to conquer the giants of Canaan.

And as for those giants, for the same 40 years, those giants had tilled the land and planted vineyards. They constructed fortified cities and infrastructure to sustain an entire population. They built houses and cultivated their gardens. All of these things were completed upon the Israelites' arrival. They would not walk into an undeveloped wilderness. (Would that have been much better than the desert?) But they would walk into booming societies and economies that were primed for the new rulers - God's chosen people.

In the midst of 40 years of wandering, God's people could not know what God was orchestrating "behind the scenes." And because their faith was in the actions of God instead of the being of God, their reaction was disappointment and (as a result) complaining, mumbling, grumbling, arguing, and (ultimately) complete doubt in the promises of God.

But Moses never lost faith during those 40 years of wandering*. Even as they approached the Promise Land, it was Moses' faith in a good God that saved the Israelites from total annihilation (Numbers 14).

So where are you today?

I think if we're honest, many of us can say that we have been in a place of disappointment with the Lord - a place where His ways don't make sense, where following Him feels more painful than giving up and going back to our old bondage, where what He is doing seems to be the opposite of what He said He would do.

But I believe the Lord is calling each of us to a new revelation - a new knowledge of Him as the "I AM." Because when we come to a place where we can say "I trust in who You are, regardless of what I see You doing," then our hearts will be in a place protected from disappointment in the Lord and (as a result) from complaining, mumbling, grumbling, arguing, and (ultimately) the complete doubt in the Promises of God.

So the questions pounding in my mind today, in the midst of a desert place, are these: Is God a good God? Is He a man, that He should lie? Do I believe that, regardless of how it feels right now, God is working all things together for my good?

In the revelation of the "I AM", I can answer these questions positively, without fear of disappointment.

What about you?

(*Of course we know that Moses was disobedient as they reached the Promise Lane and was therefore not allowed to enter... but that is a different story for a different day.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Loving on the I AM - Part 2

As soon as those words poured out of my mouth, I suddenly understood the significance of the exchange between God and man in Exodus 3.

In verse 13, Moses asks a very intriguing question: "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

God could have given Moses any number of names: Jehovah El Elohim (the Lord God of Gods), El-Shaddai (The God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People), Jehovah Shalom (The Lord our Peace), Jehovah-Shammah (The Lord is Present)... countless names by which the Lord has revealed Himself to His people through the ages.

But on this day, to this shepherd and former prince of Egypt, God chose to reveal Himself in five simple words:

"I AM who I AM"

Though I cannot point you to any scripture that would prove what I am about to say, I believe with all my heart that, with those five words, God imparted to Moses a revelation that would carry him through the plagues of Egypt, the miracle at the Red Sea, and the journey through the desert. I believe that it was this phrase - "I AM who I AM" - that caused Moses to stand strong in his faith when everyone else, including his brother and sister, doubted God's plan in those 40 years of wandering.

God could have given Moses any other name, but each of those names, while vitally important to our understanding of the Lord, only describes to us the characteristics of God and what He does.

But I believe God wanted to impart to Moses a truth that runs so much deeper than what God was doing, because over the next 40 years, what God was doing wouldn't make much sense to Moses and the Israelites.

Had Moses put his faith in the actions of God, here is what he and the Israelites would have seen:

What God said He was going to do is found in verse 8: "So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey."

What God DIDN'T say was:

I'm going to take you out of Egypt and into the Promised land, but in between here and there will be 40 years of desert wandering.

I will make sure your clothes will never wear out, and you will never outgrow them. But the clothes you have on your back when you leave Egypt will be the same clothes you wear everyday for the next 40 years.

And I will provide your food, but you will eat the same thing everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - 365 days a year, for 40 years.

Oh, and by the way, you won't have a map or any idea where you're going or when you will arrive. Because you'll have to wait on me every day for the next 40 years. You can only move when my cloud moves, and sometimes we will stay in one spot for days - long enough for you to build the temple and make your sacrifices.

Finally, when you get to the Promised Land, you can't just walk in and live there... because it is overrun with giants. These giants will have to be conquered, but you will not do it. You will have to send your children and grandchildren into battle against those giants, without you.

Had Moses walked into that situation putting all his faith in what God was doing, I believe he would have given up before the first Plague.

But I believe that on that day, at that burning bush, with those five words, God imparted to Moses this truth: Do not believe in what I am doing, because you may never understand what I do. My ways are above your ways and My understanding far above your understanding. But put your faith in who I AM: I AM good, and I AM holy, and I AM God. Put your faith the I AM, and you will never be disappointed.

More to come...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Loving on the I AM, Part 1

A couple Sunday nights ago, I preached a sermon on Exodus 3*, where Moses meets the Creator of the universe in a burning bush.

I absolutely love this story. I love the life of Moses - his birth, his trip down the river, his upbringing, his flight, his introduction to the God of his fathers, his fear, and (ultimately) his obedience.

But, until last year, my love for this story stopped there. I did not love the part about wandering in the desert for forty years. I did not love the fact that things had to be so hard on God's people, when Moses had been so obedient. I did not love that side of God - the side that would promise His people a home and then make them go through all that before they could "earn" it.

That's the way I thought until last year.

But last year, all that changed because (and this may seem counter-intuitive) last year was a year of disappointment for me. Sure, good things happened. I wasn't depressed or distraught, just... disappointed.

You see, the Lord has given me and hubby some promises, and soon after those promises were given, the opposite appeared to happen. When we had faith for a miracle, we watched our friends suffer as they mourned the death of their wife, daughter, friend, and mother-to-be. When we should have been able to put aside a little nest egg and pay off some debt... our car broke down beyond repair, an A/C unit went out in our home, the plumbing in the front yard had to be replaced - all costing us thousands of dollars that left us further in the hole than when the year began.

And through it all, through my anger, disillusionment, disappointment and, yes, bitterness with the Lord, He continually pointed me back to Exodus 3*.

And through it all, my response to this passage would be, "I don't understand why you keep sending me here. Why is this part of the story so significant?"

One day, in the midst of this year-long conversation, the Lord asked me one question: Why do you love your husband?

After thinking a minute, I decided to go with my gut...

"Well, Lord, I love him because he is funny. He makes me laugh and finds the humor in any situation."

But your brother is funny, and He makes you laugh. Still you don't love him in the same way you love your husband.

"Ok, Lord, I suppose I love him because he's so kind. He's the most tenderhearted person I know, and I love that he cares about other people."

But [so and so] and [so and so] are just as kind, just as tenderhearted. You still don't love them in the same way you love your husband.

And the list went on and on... I named characteristic after characteristic that all cause me to "love" my husband, but each time, my reasoning was found faulty.

Finally, I said, "Lord, I love him because he sacrifices for our family. He is a good provider, Lord, and he works so hard so I can stay home. He works really hard for me and Chloe."

But what if something happened to him and he were completely unable to do any of the things you have just described? What if he is completely debilitated and can no longer hold you or make you laugh or provide for you? Would you love him then?

"Of course, Lord. Of course I would still love him."


Completely flustered at this point (because I was obviously getting this answer wrong), I huffed:

"Because he is. I love him because he exists."

More to come...

*When I posted this entry earlier, I said that the story was found in Exodus 7. My mistake. It is, in fact, found in Exodus 3.

Tantrums of the Terrible Two's... and other life lessons

Recently, I feel like I have been floundering in the sea of parenting. It seems to me that just as I find my footing, another wave comes crashing in and takes my feet right out from under me.

I just have to keep telling myself that it's only a wave and that, if I can keep my head above water, I might actually be able to enjoy the ride. (Anybody got a float out there?)

As this little person, who was once so helpless and needy, begins to approach the third year of her life, she suddenly has an opinion... about everything.

"Mommy, I wanna eat pee-budder bed" (interpreted peanut butter and bread)

"No, sweetie, that's what you had for breakfast. You are going to have chicken and peas for lunch."

"NO! Mommy! I wanna eat pee-budder bed! PEE BUDDER BEEEEEDDD!"

"No, Chloe! Chicken and peeeeeas! CHICKEN AND PEEEEEEEEEEEES!"

(Ok, maybe I don't really respond like that. But maybe, hypothetically speaking, I feel like it on the inside.)

All summer, this struggle has turned into a never-ending battle of wills. And finally - FINALLY! - a couple weeks ago, everything fell into place.

"Ok, Chloe, bath time." (Picture me wincing, waiting for the ensuing battle to begin.)

"Yes ma'am, mommy."

*double take*

What was THAT? Did my little girl just say "Yes Ma'am" without being told?!?!

Now those of you up North might not get the significance of those two little words, but down here in the Peach State, every polite child says "Yes ma'am" "No ma'am" "Yes sir" and "No sir" to parents, family, teachers, and strangers. It's just good manners ya'll, and from the time Chloe could put two words together, I have reminded her that "yes ma'am" is the proper response when I ask her to do something.

And here, after months and months of struggling, it was like angelic music to my ears.

Over the coming days, as she was becoming more and more regular in her polite responses and instant obedience, I was becoming more and more aware of the fact that she has so few choices in her life. She's doesn't get to choose what she eats or when she drinks. She doesn't get to decide what time she goes to bed or wakes up. When I leave the house, she leaves the house. When I say bath time, she takes a bath. She can voice her requests, but I ultimately make her every decision.

And I was feeling a bit like, perhaps, I'm not preparing her to make decisions herself. Maybe she needs to make some choices on her own. So I began to ask her, instead of tell her.

"Chloe, would you like oatmeal or grits for breakfast?"

"Do you want a snack before you go night-night?"

"Would you like to put your shoes on or go bare foot?"

In the beginning, it was going ok, perhaps because she didn't understand that it was a choice.

But then, the chaos began. It started at the store (you know, because all ear-piercing-scream-lay-in-the-floor-kicking-make-everyone-look fights with toddlers happen in the most public place you can find). I asked her if she wanted to wear her "monkey" (read: leash), or if she wanted to ride in the buggy. She said she wanted to wear the monkey. But the moments that followed were nothing short of terrible.

She would say, "'Dis way, mommy, 'DIS WAY!"

I would say, "Wait a minute. Mommy needs to look at this item."


Thus began the biggest toddler battle we have had so far. For the finishing touches, she was so angry as I put her in the car that she actually BIT my ARM. My sweet, angel, darling baby girl sunk those newly-formed teeth right into the very arm that was TRYING to buckle her in, to keep her safe from harm.

This behavior continued over the following week, with increasing frequency.

She would want juice. I would hand her juice. She would push juice away and say "NO!"

She would cry and whine and rub her eyes, but when I asked her if she wanted to go night-night... "NOOOOO!"

"No" - a new favorite word, I suppose.

The sweet requests and lively conversations had been replaced by strong-willed demands and incessant whining.

What had I done to my child?!

I really was at a complete loss, drowning in the waves of high-pitched screams and crocodile tears. I looked it up online. I scoured my baby books. Nothing I had ever read had prepared me for this.

This went on until last Friday evening, when I left the house (on my own) to shop for party supplies. That evening, I spent a large portion of my time outside of the house talking with the Lord about the changes that were happening in Chloe. That is when I heard one line that has changed my entire perspective:

You are giving her too many choices.

I suddenly got it. She was not ready to handle even the smallest choice: oatmeal or grits? She didn't know what she wanted. It was my job, as her mommy, to tell her what was best for her and give her only that.

That doesn't mean she can't have requests. That doesn't mean I ignore her requests. It simply means, when I say bedtime, and she asks to read a book... Ok. One. Then night-night.

It's that simple.

I also realize that, at any point, she can choose to go against my decision. But, in the last couple days, I have slowly seen the return of my sweet little girl. She seems to have dropped "Yes, ma'am" altogether so that everyone is "Yes, sir." Hehe. And I'm ok with that.

Because of this re-transformation, I have come to realize something: she needs those boundaries. She needs me to say "no" and to tell her what her next move should be. Otherwise, she is overwhelmed by all the choices. Bedtime? Snack time? Bath time? Book time? She is, frankly, freaked out by the lack of guidance. But inside the boundaries her father and I set, she is at peace, knowing that we will always have her best in mind.

And it is in the midst of this parenting pendulum that I recognize a truth about the Lord.

Perhaps the Lord is allowing me to see this truth in response to another lesson I have learned recently. Perhaps the reason the Lord does not always give us what we ask for is because, like Chloe, we don't really know what we want.

But the Holy Spirit knows us so deeply, so intimately, so closely, that He knows our heart's desires even better than we know them ourselves. He sees us rubbing our eyes and yawning, and He knows what our bodies want and need. And even if we kick and scream and cry and bite along the way, He knows that in the end (if we choose to walk in His will), He is actually giving us what our hearts desire.

And that is where I take comfort this afternoon - in the knowledge that, even if I don't understand or don't agree with what the Lord is doing in my life - He has my best in mind, and He knows (better than I do) how to fulfill the desires of my heart.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Recipe of the week, in 5 minutes or less...

3.5oz Pre-cooked frozen shrimp.
3.5oz Fresh asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
(You may also use fresh green beans)
2-3 Garlic cloves
Sea Salt
Ground Pepper
1/4 Lemon (optional)
1 ZipLock Steamer Bag

Throw frozen shrimp and fresh asparagus into the Steamer Bag. Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic with the flat side of a large knife and add to bag. Salt and pepper to taste.

Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let cool for one minute and empty contents of bag onto a small plate. Serve with chopsticks.

Optional: spritz some lemon juice over the entire dish for some added flavor.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hey shawty, it's your birthday...

All right, mommies, I need some opinions here.

I'm planning Chloe's 2nd birthday party. We're talkin' a small shindig with a few cousins (that are close to her age), their parents, and Chloe's grandparents. We're all going to the local park, which has a specially designated "Tot Lot" for kids their age, and we're just gonna have cake and play on the playground. Simple enough, yes?


I'm already going against the flow, I suppose, by doing a Curious George theme. Apparently, this is a boys-only theme, as was so clearly pointed out to me by the "BOY'S PARTY THEME" sign at Party City. Still, my little girl LOVES her some "Monkey Gerge," (pronounced jurj); so I am happy to oblige her.

But I am getting hung up on the cake issue, ya'll. Is Red Velvet Cake too grown up for a 2-year-old party?

I feel like the adults will enjoy it more, and the kids won't know the difference. It's also kind of cool that the cake is red, like her party decorations. So what do you think? To help my case, I am getting the cake from a local bakery that perhaps makes the most scrumptrulescent Red Velvet Cake that ever existed on this earth. (What? I said perhaps.)

Finally, do you have any suggestions for some not-so-organized party games for this age? I'm already giving each of the kids a balloon and a little bottle of Curious George Bubbles that I think could potentially entertain them for the entire party. But just in case, any other thoughts?

I love plannin' some parties, ya'll. It's great fun.

Friday, August 22, 2008

As difficult as it is for me to understand, I'm still glad God uses us broken vessels...

Check this out at debbie c.'s blog.

This song has been my anthem over the past couple weeks, and regardless of the motive behind it, I'm so glad that the lyrics are still true. God is still God, and He is good.

What does 600 calories look like?

While it is not my intention to turn this bloggy site into a play-by-play of my diet woes, several people have asked me what, exactly, does a person eat on a diet like this.

I personally don't know why this would interest anyone, but I am here to oblige my faithful readers (all four of them).

Thankfully, Dr.Z has made the plan very simple (if boring) so that I have only a few foods to choose from.

I eat:

Two servings of these fruits, 6 hours apart (for me that means one for breakfast, and one in between lunch and dinner): apple, orange, strawberries (about six large ones), and 1/2 grapefruit.

For Lunch: 3.5oz of green veggies (or cauliflower), and 3.5oz of lean meat (chicken or light fish)

For Dinner: same as lunch

No oil. No butter. No condiments (except certain hot sauces).

I am allowed salt and pepper and a few spices.

PLUS, all the sugar-free, calorie-free drinks I would like (which includes, but is not limited to: tea, coffee, diet drinks, crystal light, and water.)

I can also have 1 tablespoon of fat-free milk (which I put in my coffee, of course).

I am on day 2, and today has been immeasurably better than yesterday. I'm not quite as hungry, and I already feel like I have more energy than normal.

Good things are happening, people. Good Things.

How to make 600 calories feel like enough:

1. Use a small plate. A mound of food on a small plate seems like a lot more than food that is spread out over a large plate.

2. Take small bites. If you have to, pre-cut the bites into really small pieces and only eat one at a time.

3. Eat with Chopsticks. Unless you're from Asia, it will take you longer to eat with wooden sticks than with a fork.

4. Use lots of pepper/hot sauce. I promise you will feel full faster and stay full longer; though I'm not sure why.

5. When taking each bite, try to describe the food in your mind without using standard food words. Example: This orange tastes bright and boisterous. (Thanks to Starr for this tip.)

6. Drink lots of water and calorie-free drinks. If you're really hungry, chug as much water as you can without taking a breath. You'll have so much liquid sloshing around inside, you won't even want to think about food.

7. Coffee with splenda is a calorie-free drink. (woo hoo!)

8. Think of it as a spiritual fast, even if your primary goals are physical. Each time your stomach complains, pray that, just as your stomach hungers for food, your spirit will hunger for the Lord. (This won't make you less hungry, but it will give your hunger a purpose!)

9. Think about how great you will feel in three months when you're healthy and energized.

10. Think about how great you will feel in three months when you finally get to eat a brownie! (Ok... this is actually NOT such a great idea in helping to curb hunger and cravings. It's more something that just naturally happens when you're munching on raw broccoli.)

More to come...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Grass is Greener... but full of pesticides...

Well, ya'll, the spit test results are in.

Went to the good ol' doctor yesterday and listened for about an hour as he explained what's wrong with me. (I know what you're thinking... only an hour? tee hee) My cortisol levels are very irregular, as well as other hormone levels. I won't go into all the medical details, but suffice it to say I rarely (if ever) enter into a true REM cycle during sleep because my adrenaline is so high. Hence, the exhaustion and fatigue. =)

So what is the solution? Thank you for asking.

1. Start pregnancy hormone HCG circulating through my body (not sure why).
2. Take 53.2 ka-jillion vitamin supplements.
3. Eat AS MUCH FAT AS POSSIBLE over the next 48 hours.
4. Then eat only 600 calories a DAY for 3 months.

You read that correctly. 600 calories.

Because he can reset my hormone levels as much as I like, but without the weight loss, they will only go back to the high-stress levels.

Still, I cannot lose weight as long as that cortisol is coursing through my body at lightning speed.

So, the good ol' doc has decided that I need to do both at once. Lose weight and get the hormone treatment.

It's going to be an interesting three months, ya'll.

But you may have noticed that I mentioned the next 48 hours. Yes, my friends, over the next 48 hours (while the hormones are making their way through my body) I am supposed to eat as many fattening foods as I can without getting sick.

Pop Corn.

Lots of fat.

Interestingly enough, there is a medical reason for doing this, but I won't go into all that. Suffice it to say, I was THRILLED when I could text my husband yesterday and say, "Pick up some ice cream and brownies on your way home. Doctor's orders. Seriously."

But it is in this 2-day binge that I have come to an interesting hypothesis: My desire to eat fattening foods and make unhealthy choices is purely psychological. Interpretation: I want them more when I know I'm not supposed to have them.

Here is what I mean. In the past, I have forced myself to eat a salad for dinner when everyone else is eating yummy home cookin'. I have barely been able to swallow a fruit smoothie for breakfast instead of a bowl of cereal or grits.

But suddenly, doctor's orders are for me to eat LOTS of home cookin' and sausage biscuits. And with these new instructions, I now desire the healthy stuff. While making Spaghetti and meatballs for dinner last night, I bemoaned to myself, "I am really in the mood for a salad tonight. Why do I HAVE to eat spaghetti?"

Seriously, ya'll.

And while I had no complaints about eating ice cream and brownies after dinner, when I woke up this morning and HAD to eat a chick-fil-a biscuit with sweet tea, I had to fight the urge to complain about the fact that I COULDN'T eat a grapefruit.

Once again, I'm serious.

What is wrong with this picture?

This whole experience has exposed me to a new truth - a revelation, if you will. I always desire what I cannot have.

And I think this applies to areas other than food too.

Why can't my home look more like that one?
Why can't my body look more like that one?
Why can't my hair be curly?
Or blond?
Why can't I have that job?
Why can't I have that accent (seriously, I've thought this)?

Waaa Waaa Waaa.... POOOOR POOOOOR ME...

When the fact is that, perhaps what I am eating now is exactly I would be desiring were I eating that instead.

Did that make sense?

Because if a doctor came to me and said, "You can eat anything that you want for two days"... honestly, my diet probably wouldn't change much. I might eat more sweets than are good for me, but that would be countered with lots of yummy fruits and veggies that I love.

I think the same is true about my life. While I might tend to complain about where I'm at, what I look like, what I'm doing... the fact is that, if the Lord put me in front of a smorgasbord of life and said, "Pick whatever you want, and I will give it to you," honestly, there might not be too much I would change.

And so this is the revelation that all this junk food has brought about... God really knows what is best. He not only gives me what I need, but He also gives me what I don't even know I want.

And so my goal for the week... and for the next three months... is to complain less, even with the Lord.

I am going to eat what I have been instructed to eat. I am going to work where I have been instructed to work. I am going to live where I have been instructed to live. And I am going to Move where I have been instructed to Move.

And I'm going to do it all without complaint.

Because, in the end, I know it's the results I want... even if the process isn't.

Well, ya'll... I'm off to get a double cheeseburger from McD's... Doctor's orders, ya know.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's been one Sell of a weekend....

It was yard sale weekend around these here parts.

That's right ya'll. Family, junk, customers and mosquitoes all gathered together in the Pecan Grove for this Trash-to-Treasure spectaculAR (Read: Speck-tah-cue-lAAAAAAAAR).

In preparation for The Big Move (which shall be described in greater detail in a later post), we have emptied no less than two of our closets. You read correctly, friends. We now have a grand total of TWO empty closets.

The creation of the emptiness (which is a bit of an oxymoron) has caused me to look at myself in a new, less flattering light.

Hi, my name is Yard Sale Diva, and I am - deep trembly breath - a Pack Rat.

You see, I have had empty closets before. Sure I have. And just like now, their emptiness could be attributed to a move. But here's the difference...

When my closets have been empty in the past, it was because all of my "stuff" was tucked safely away in carefully labeled cardboard boxes that would go with us as we moved.

But this time, we have made the decision to start with a clean slate. Tabula Rasa. Which sounds fabulous in theory. But when I am forced to sell (to a perfect stranger, I might add) that pair of shoes that went out of style five years ago but that, I'm sure, will return to style NEXT WEEK, it becomes unbearable.

All seriousness aside, when all was said and done, and I walked back into my room to peer across my conquered closet land... when I should have felt a sense of pride and accomplishment... I suddenly couldn't breathe.

Where was all my STUFF?!?! What had I DONE?!?! Someday I might NEED that hot pink belt! There was nothing wrong with those sweaters and I'm SURE that, even though they've been too small for 4 years, I'll be able to fit into them this time next year!

It was a strange revelation. And so for the past couple of days, as I have fought the waves of nausea and panic while watching box after box leave my home in search of higher ground... I have done some serious soul-searching.

And I realized this: it's a trust issue.

Because the root of my fear is simply that I don't think things will be provided when I need them.

When I say...
Someday I might need that $2 pair of booger green flip flops because somebody might give me a shirt that will match them and I won't have anything to wear with it.

I really mean...
I am afraid that someday I might not be able to afford a wardrobe that suits me; so I will have to wear a booger green shirt that somebody gives me. And then I won't be able to afford a pair of $2 booger green flip flops to match it and I'll have to run around barefoot!

It's silly. Because my Daddy God has always provided for my needs... which leads me to a conversation I had with Him a few nights ago....

Preface: A few months ago, a friend of ours who has the hookup blessed us with a really good discount on a used car. We were planning to sell said car before The Big Move for what it is actually worth, and thereby providing a way to pay off Other Car with the profit. At last, we would be without car payment (and just in time for The Move). But, this week, we were told that discounted car needs a new transmission - effectively making it a not-so-discounted car that we are now stuck making payments on because, seriously, who wants to buy a broken car?

Me: I'm not happy with You.

Him: Because I broke your car?

Me: I know you didn't do it. But you certainly didn't prevent it. And it's not just that. These things keep happening. We get ready to pay off one bill and another one pops up. Remember the busted A/C unit? The plumber visit that cost us $6,000? The cracked engine? Do you remember that all of those things happened RIGHT BEFORE we were supposed to finally get a break? REMEMBER?!?!

(Yes, I realize I had reverted to the toddler-stage argument, and no I did not stick my tongue out at Him, even if I was tempted.)

Him: I'm listening.

Me: What am I supposed to DO to make this better? Should we TITHE? PRAY? Dedicate our FIRST BORN? We have already done all those things!! What am I missing? What am I NOT doing that I SHOULD be doing? Or what SHOULD I be doing that I'm NOT doing?

Him: You know better than that.

Me: I thought I did. But I just don't understand, Lord.

Him: Have you ever lived in want?

Me: Wha...?

Him: Were you ever hungry and without food? Have you ever slept even one night without a roof over your head? Do your clothes fit and keep you covered?

*sigh and nod* But Lord, if all of those things had not happened, we wouldn't be living paycheck-to-paycheck. We could have a little nest egg and less debt. We wouldn't be so stressed about money all the time.

Him: Well, that is your choice.

Me: Wha...?

Him: You can choose to trust me and live at peace, and I will provide all your needs. OR, you can choose not to trust me and live in stress, yet still I will provide all your needs.

*light bulb*

And that's just it. I held on to all that stuff... shoes, pants, dishes, baby clothes, bow ties, head bands - and stress - because of a lack of trust.

Matthew 6:25-34
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.... Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?...

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?

You of little faith!

Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' ...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

What are you holding on to today?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday To You...

In a day-early tribute to Fetus Friday.

Dear Chloe Jane,

I have been thinking a lot recently about your upcoming birthday. You will be two soon, and though it seems the time has flown by, I still feel as if you have been a part of my entire life.

I have been thinking about where I was, this time two years ago. I was gearing up to go on a trip to the beach with Aunt Starr and Auntie Heather. I was also very VERY pregnant. When daddy saw me in my swimsuit, he sang the Veggie Tales song, "Barbara manatee, manatee, manatee, you're the one for me, one for me, one for me...." I was not amused.

I decided to take that little trip because I knew I would need a vacation before all the excitement would begin. You see, my darling little girl, in the weeks following this trip, I would be attending showers filled with people who loved you even back then, before they knew you. I would be removing all the items from their bags, boxes, and cellophane rappers. I would wash them and dry them and lovingly place and re-place each and every item until it was in the exact spot that I wanted it to be for your arrival.

I washed all of your clothes in a special baby detergent (a smell that will forever remind me of your soft little body) and, in the evening, I sat on the couch and folded each and every item. I handled the clothes gently and tenderly - as if you were already inside of them - because, in my heart, you were just that real. You were already there with me.

During those weeks leading up to your birth, you moved around so much that daddy could see my belly move from across the room. I loved those little (and big) movements, and as much as I wanted to meet you face-to-face, the thought of taking you away from that place - where I knew you were safe and warm and without need - broke my heart.

But out you came; though it took more than a little convincing. Thirty seven hours in labor, my love, thirty seven. This was the first time in my life I understood the phrase "labor of love."

It was a slow and relatively uneventful labor.

But as we approached the 36-hour mark, things suddenly took a turn. Alarm bells started going off from machines above my head. Nurses were rushing in and out of the room and talking in low whispers. Whispers. They seemed louder than the alarms.

"What's wrong?" I asked one nurse.

"You're fine. The baby's fine, but she's getting short on oxygen. You need to get ready to push."

She. You were so real to me in that moment. A little person - my little person - in trouble.

After that moment, everything was a haze. More nurses rushed in, and our doctor declared that you needed to come out RIGHT THEN.

All I can say about the next thirty minutes is that - in that thirty minutes - your daddy was my hero. He held me and encouraged me and, because he was so strong, I found strength in him.

The minutes following the delivery are among the scariest minutes in my life. The room was completely quiet, except for more whispers. They took you straight to the table, about 10 feet away from my bed. Their backs were to me, and though I couldn't see you, I could see your daddy's face. He was scared too.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

No response.

"Is she okay?"

More whispers.

I closed my eyes and began to pray.

And when I opened them, you were there, and you were beautifully healthy. Your daddy was holding you like a precious, priceless, fragile gift, and he was bringing you to me.

Though my memories of the next few moments are etched into my heart for eternity, there are two things that I will forever think of when I think of my newborn Chloe:

Your eyes. Although they would eventually turn chocolate brown, on that day they were dark, dark blue. And they were open - looking at me. I was told that newborns rarely (if ever) open their eyes. But yours were open - big, beautiful, open eyes.

Your lips. You had the most perfect lips. Everyone said so. They were pink and full and absolutely perfect.

I could go on with snapshot after snapshot in my memory - the perfect shape of your head, your tiny little fingers, the look on your daddy's face, the tear in Grandpa's eye, the song your great-granddaddy sang to you.

You had finally arrived, and I was completely and utterly amazed.

But here you are, almost two years later, and your existence has rocked my world. You have brought me more joy - and more worries - than anybody else on earth. As someone once said, I feel as if you are my heart walking around outside my body. Every day I struggle to balance your need to explore life and my need to protect you from it.

I find myself instinctually waking up in the morning just minutes before you do. I watch your every expression and movement as you try new foods, meet new people, and explore new places. You are my most perfect gift.

But, oh! my sweet one! As much as I love you. As much as I watch you and worry over you and desire nothing but the best for you, there is One who loves you even more. He has watched you, and watched over you, even before I knew you. You have been a dream in His heart since the beginning of time. And you, my beautiful little girl, are His heart, walking around outside His body.

While my ways are trial-and-error or the-best-I-can; His ways are perfect, always. While my ability to watch over you and protect you are limited; He is forever watchful. And though I wish with all my heart that my love could be enough for you; His love is more than enough for both of us.

So, my little girl, as this second year comes to an end, and as we both prepare for the great adventure of your life, I just want you to know that you are loved. You are loved and you are wanted. You were not an afterthought or an accident - you were perfectly planned by our Creator. And how blessed am I! that He chose me to hold you and kiss your forehead and caress your babysoft hair and sing you songs and bask in your smile.

You are my treasure, and I pray that you will someday know your worth.

I love you,


In the final moment of labor, Chloe's umbilical cord was not only wrapped around her neck, but also wedged between the back of her head and my pelvic bone, causing each contraction to temporarily cut off her oxygen supply. As soon as she was delivered, the cord was unwrapped and the color returned to her body. Praise the Lord for His ever-present care!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Honestly, ya'll

I've been thinking recently about honesty.

I don't mean the black-and-white kind of honesty we talk about in Kid's Church... where lying is sin and telling the truth is right.

I mean that Gray Honesty. The one some people use when a friend asks if that much-too-tight pair of jeans would be good to wear on tonight's date. You ladies know what I mean. This Gray Honesty permeates our conversations with BFF's. It goes something like this:

Do you like my new hair cut?
The color is fabulous.

Do you like these jeans?
Sure, but I love your khakis too.

Isn't my new boyfriend the best?
He sure has nice hair.

You know what I'm talking about. It's the walk-around, the slip-by, the not-really-an-answer answer.

I'm certainly guilty of this at times.

But, being HONEST, ya'll, it's not really a problem for me - at least, when referring to dishonesty.

My closest friends are the ones that know only to come to me for advice if they want my Honest opinion. No gray area there. I don't mean to say that I'm rude, most of the time. Because I believe that with every word of "honesty" there must be a lot of love and a lot of tact. A spoonful of sugar, and all that....

Still, I also believe there are times when a friend needs a swift kick in the tail:

No, that boyfriend is NOT great; he is borderline abusive.
Yes, you DO talk about sex too much, and it makes people uncomfortable.
Yes, God loves you, and at some point you're going to have to believe it.

My problem is not in the honesty. I have no problem saying what needs to be said.

My problem is balance. This is what has been on my mind over the past few days. Because...

Sometimes a friend just needs to rant and rave and vent, without "honest" responses. Sometimes she just needs to feel like someone is on her side.

Sometimes, in anger, honesty becomes less about tact and more about hurting the other person... even if it is "the truth."

Sometimes, my honest opinion is wrong.

Sometimes, honesty is asked for... and sometimes, it's unwanted advice.

These are the things I struggle with. Tell me to be honest, and I'll put that gray area to shame. But that's just it, I need someone to tell me when to be honest. And I need someone to tell me when to shut my mouth.

My friend Starr is excellent at both. She comes to me with problems, and then she says, "I'm not looking for answers, I just need to vent." or she says, "What do you think?" That's my cue. Then I know how to respond.

But she's the only one I know who gives those cues.

So what about the other 5.9 billion people on the planet (or at least the hundred or so that I know)? How do I respond to them? And how do I learn when to respond?

So that's what I have been praying about recently. I pray that the Lord will give me wisdom and timing and tact. I pray that my words will be used for healing and refreshing, not pain and judgment. I want my words to be like this....

The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend's timely reprimand
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
Proverbs 25:11 (The Message)

What about you? Do you and your BFF's have "honesty" cues?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Forget Nemo, bring it ON!

I realize I just posted, like, five minutes ago. But I have to tell ya'll about one of life's small joys here in the South. In particular, a small joy that I and my family are about to experience.

Those of you up North (and some of you down South) may not know this joy. If that statement pertains to you, you are ALL invited to go with me the next time you are in these here parts.

Ya'll, tonight, we're goin' to the Fish House.

For you Northerners, no, it is not (usually) an actual house. And no, fish do not live there.

The Fish House in any restaurant (metal shack, hole in the wall, log cabin, etc.) where families go to eat food. But not just ANY food. Oh, no. We're talkin'...

Fried Catfish.
French Fries.
Fried Hush Puppies.
Fried Shrimp.
Fried Ham.
Fried Chicken.
(Getting the picture here?)

And it's all topped of with warm homemade biscuits, peach cobbler with ice cream, and ice-cold SWEET tea (picture pancake syrup with a straw).

For reasons I'm sure you can imagine, this is NOT a regular treat for our family and we tend to eat nothing but salad for the week after the engorgement... err, um... feast.

Still, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. (Wish I had a spit tube now!)

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?

The Boys are Back in Town... The Boys are Back in Town...

I mentioned earlier that "the students" have begun their arrival.

(And by "the students," I meant the University of Georgia college crowd.)

Having grown up in a college town, I have come to appreciate the summers 'round these parts. As much as I love the changes in seasons - particularly the cool-weather seasons - I somehow LOATHE the month of August, because when students get to town...

1. The wait at the local restaurant goes from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

2. I have to leave my house a good 20 minutes earlier to get anywhere because there are 50 ka-jillion more cars on the road.

3. Instead of enjoying a Friday night stroll downtown with my hubby, I avoid it like the plague because, ya'll, it stinks like B.O. and beer! (And, seriously, I don't want my husband around the short skirts and halter tops who are waiting for a seat in the bars.)

4. Going grocery shopping at midnight (the time I love because I'm the ONLY one in the store) is suddenly just as difficult as at 5:15pm. And finally...

5. The line at Starbucks. 'nough said.

However, with this arrival of the masses, there come a few, more positive, changes...

1. There's ALWAYS something to do. UGA provides lots of art festivals, concerts, plays, inter mural sports... all of which are completely halted during the summer.

2. Classes start back. And as much as I complain about the homework, reading, papers, etc. I do LOVE being a part of that campus.

3. Friends. While the Massive Student Exodus at the end of May allows us Native Athenians to breathe a collective sigh of relief, it also means saying goodbye to any college buds who go home for the summer. Welcome back, ya'll, welcome back!

4. Stimulating conversation becomes an every-day activity. And while I love the whole "This color is BWUE" conversation that I have with my almost-2-year-old all summer, I have come to appreciate the coffee shop discussions on the Middle East, the environment, the elections, and (of course) the best kind of coffee.

5. Game Day!!! (Goooo DAWG, sic'em! woo hooo hoo hooo.) This point should (and probably will) allow for an entire entry unto itself. Because, even though Game Day traffic is H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, there is an electricity in the air as I drive down the road and see EV.ER.Y.ONE in the city wearing their Red 'n' Black. The entire town smells of hamburgers and Bar-B-Q (traditional tailgating foods), and the voice of Larry Munson (the native Bulldogs sportscaster) carries on the breeze.

And so, as the summer comes to an end (even if the heat continues) and the students start getting settled into their respective dorms and apartments, I find this change a little bittersweet.

I'm sure some of you moms out there feel the same way... though it may be for very different reasons.

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the fall (and about the beginning of school)?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The students are back in town, ya'll....

Strange things are goin' on in these here parts.

I stopped by my local Jittery Joe's today to order me a 16oz coffee Java Joe, and here's how it went down...

Man (over intercom speaking in strange high-pitched southern female voice): "Welcome to JJ's, PLEEEEEASE allow me to serve you."

Me (wondering if I should laugh): Ok. I'll have a 16ozcoffeeJavaJoe.

Man (in high-pitched voice): What a FABULOUS decision. That's one of my FAVORITE drinks here at JJ's. Would you like whipped cream on that?

Me: Umm... sure.

Man: Oh! How exciting! That's as good as a sugar dumplin' with a cherry on top. Just one o' the SWEETEST treats we've got. I just don't understand these people who don't get whipped cream. I mean, tell me, what IS the point of a super sweet treat if you can't whip it, don't you agree, ma'aaaaaam?

Me (doing the body-shaking but totally silent laugh): Yes.

Man: Well, you just come on 'round here and I'll wait for you while I stuff my face with these SCRUMPtious rice crispy treats. Would you like for me to have one here waitin' for you when you get here?

Me: No, thank you. The drink is just fine.

Man: Suit yourself! That's just more for me and my voluptuous figure.

Me: Drive around to window at super-slow speed, trying to compose myself before I get there.

Man (in deep, manly sexy voice): That'll be $4.25.


Man: *blank stare*

Me (handing over the money) tee hee hee hee....

Man(continuing with blank stare): Here's your drink

Me (embarrassed grin upon realizing that this may not have been the person taking my order): thank you.

Man (in high-pitched southern female voice): Now you have a FABULOUS day!

Me (driving away): BWAAAA HAHAH HAHAHA HAHA!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Hello friends, foes, and other folks. Behold, I have returned.

It has been an eventful month in which many changes have taken place and still more changes were prepared for. Announcements and entertainment shall soon pour forth onto this here page and tickle your senses.

But tonight, my dear bloggerpals, I'm spitting mad. Well, more spitting and less mad. Unless, that is, a person can actually be madly spitting. Yes, that's the perfect description.

Tonight, I am madly spitting. Into a teeny tiny little jar with a blue plastic lid.

No, I have not taken up "dipping," and no, there are no watermelon seeds involved.

I am in fact, taking a medical test.

Apparently, all that juicy saliva that floats around in our mouths holds boo-koos of hormones - testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, adrenaline... the list goes on.

Want to know the story?

Well, it AALLLL started around the time I got engaged (almost 5 years ago). With no change in diet or exercise, I gained 15 lbs. in 8 months.

To make a REALLY long story short... the weight gain hasn't stopped since then. And along with it has come even more problems. Fatigue. Nausea. Shaking spells. Arthritis-type symptoms. Female issues. And the list goes on....

After much poking and prodding from friends, family, and my general practitioner... I finally saw a specialist.

His theory goes back to the caveman days. You see, back in the day of the caveman when a traumatic event happened - a death in the "clan," a broken bone, a natural disaster - the body would begin to overproduce a hormone called Cortisol - the "stress hormone." This hormone causes the body to store up excess fat and water in preparation for starvation that may come as a result of this change.

Our bodies react in a similar way today when any traumatic event happens.

For me, the "trauma" occurred about a month before I got engaged. It was the near death of my step-dad, whom I love dearly and who helped raise me. His illness struck quickly and sent him into a full-blown coma in a matter of days. My mom (being a wonderful wife) stayed by his side 24/7, while I (at 18 years old) was responsible for making all other arrangements - including notifying family members and flying them in to "say their goodbyes."

Most bodies, once the traumatic event has subsided, will reset themselves.

Mine never did. So this stress hormone has been coursing through my body (and in my saliva, apparently) ever since. It triggers adrenaline (hence, the shakes) and causes my body to store more weight than necessary (effectively shutting down my metabolism). Basically, my body has been in high-stress mode for five years, regardless of how peaceful (or stressful) my surroundings are.

So, before we decide on a treatment option, he wants me to spit. Every three hours. For 24 hours. Into tiny little tubes that somehow morph into 1-Gallon Mason Jars that are impossible to fill.

Ok. Maybe they don't morph. But, sitting here at 11:30pm, after a long day of "pool and drool," this last tube looks like an Olympic size swimming pool... of drool. Heh.

So, test results and treatment decision will be discussed around the middle of this month.

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I am off to dream of cave men spitting into swimming pools... fabulous.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood