Friday, February 26, 2010

Oh, Good Gracious!

When they say the third time’s a charm, I think they’re right. Or at least they are if they’re talking about my word for the year experiment.

This is now my third year participating, and I think I finally got it right. My first two years I chose the words maintain and devotion… and while I found lessons in both of them, the fact that they were both action words tended to defeat the purpose.

Because in my life, action is often impossible. And not being able to fulfill those actions reminded me of all I have lost – all that I can no longer do.

But this year, I chose a word about who I want to be instead of what I want to do. I chose a word that would define my reactions, a word that would keep me focused on the way I want to treat myself and others.

And boy, has it been good for me.

As I went through a major overhaul with my medical care, which included a lot of stress and the potential for a great deal of fear, I often heard a voice in my head saying, “Be gracious.”

[Don’t worry, it was totally my own voice. I don’t actually hear random voices… much. :)]

In dealing with the frustrations, I chose to be gracious in my words [most of the time]. And in the process, I realized that my reaction totally directed how much fear or how much joy I invited into my life. When I was panicking, when I was upset or frustrated, fear crept in. When I was gracious and accepting, even when I didn’t like it, I was more peaceful and made more room for joy.

And just today I had another wake up call about being gracious – this time with myself. It’s been a rough week pain-wise, and my nurse and I had a good conversation today about being gracious with myself. The doctor called in a new medication, and my nurse and I talked about changing my dosing and medication schedule. While I need the pain relief, my concern was that the meds would make me more tired in the afternoon and I would get even less done during the day than I do now.

Her response: “Well, yeah.”

Sometimes I forget that just being up and doing the simple things in life is a full time job for me. I forget that managing this disease is my primary responsibility. I forget that it’s ok for me to be gracious with myself. To not think myself lazy when I don’t meet the imaginary goals I set. To not be frustrated with myself when I’m behind on emails or put a blog post up late.


This canvas was part of a belated Christmas gift from my friend, Jessica. She had bought it months in advance but had to mail it late since their plans of visiting at Christmas changed at the last minute. When I opened the box, I smiled because the verse was so perfect. She had bought it not knowing what my word for the year would be… and it’s a reminder for me that His grace is a daily gift to me. One I have not earned, but one that He offers regardless.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.”             ~ Numbers 6:24-25

Yes, the word gracious has been very good for me this year. And it’s only February. I can only imagine how many more times this year something will pop up in my life to which I’ll be exasperated and respond, “Oh, good gracious!

Only to then be reminded that being gracious really is good.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flashback... Thursday?

This is one of my favorite little kid moments, and I figured since it’s Miss Bailey’s birthday today I’d pull up this old post to give you a peek at one of the cutest little girls on the planet. I should say “little girl who is turning into a big girl before my eyes…”

So, today will be a rare “Flashback Thursday” and I’ll hit you with a current post tomorrow. I figure it’s ok to break the rules since it’s my blog and all. :)

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You know, there are some things I just excel at. I don't mean to sound arrogant or anything, but when you're good, you're good.

And I just so happen to make the most beautiful godchildren on earth.

bailey my goddaughter Bailey

Yeah, I know... I have nothing to do with their creation, really. But I must have something to do with it considering how exceptional all my godchildren are. Even if it's just that I have the good sense to make friends with people who produce beautiful children. I should be able to get credit in there somewhere, don’t you think?

My sweet Bailey has been a joy to me since the day my friend Jenny called to tell me the ultrasound showed it was a girl and that I was going to be her godmother. I was in love with that fuzzy creature on the ultrasound picture, but then she was born and has had me wrapped around her finger ever since.

Her mom Jenny is a great mom [I mean, she's no godmother... but we'll give her credit anyway] and is conscientious about making good food and healthy choices for her family. One of their favorite channels is the Food Network and Bailey took a liking early on to Rachael Ray.

hp photosmart 720 (Me and Bailey back in her days of cooking like Rachael Ray)

One afternoon a few years ago Miss Bailey was at the dining room table with her play dough "cooking" up a storm. She was using her best Rachael Ray voice while instructing an imaginary audience on the art of cutting, chopping and all other things cooking-related. [Let's just say she surpassed her godmother in the cooking department even when she only had play dough to create with]. Bailey had gotten quiet and seemed to be done with her play cooking, but just as Jenny was about to get her attention and ask her a question, Bailey popped her head back up with a smile and said...

"And… we're back."

Apparently, even a chef dealing with play dough and an imaginary audience needs to take a commercial break.

[I take full credit for their creativity, too. Because, well, it's my blog and who's going to stop me?]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 7

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Sorry this is up so late today! We’ll go with the whole “Better late than never” theory. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010


Don’t even try to tell me I don’t have the cutest Valentines on the planet. Because I do. It’s just a fact.

Jonboy and Tyler showed up with their Grandma Linda when she brought me groceries, and gave me the sweetest photo of the two of them to put in my red room.

I might like them a little bit.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010


I know this will shock you, but I think this is the cutest pup on Earth. I had to take this picture over my shoulder, not looking at him, so he would stay in this position and not pose for the camera. He likes curling up on a pillow behind my back when I’m sitting up, or curled up right next to me when I’m laying down.

I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have a warm little ball of fluff next to me at all times. :)
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Sunday, February 14, 2010


Riley and I spoiled each other on Valentine’s Day. I gave him his favorite bone and he thought I deserved my favorite beverage.

It’s nice to have a Valentine who knows you so well. :)

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Monday, February 15, 2010


I went back on my Facebook page to take this picture because I didn’t want to forget this story. On the night of the Super Bowl, I was on the phone with my nephew, Cooper, and when we hung up I put this on my wall: “My nephew Cooper just called to talk some serious smack about my Colts. Can’t wait ‘til he loses the bet and literally has to kiss my feet. :)”

Well, his mom saw it and let him respond via her Facebook account… and we had a serious rivalry going on. Especially when the Colts were winning and he was trying to convince me that he didn’t say he’d kiss my FEET, he said he’d kiss my CHEEK.

Nice try, dude.

Well, obviously my Colts lost and Cooper’s request of me was to try to convince his mom to let him skip school the next day. As hard as I tried… even telling his mom that since I’m his godmother, having “God” in front of my title trumped hers as just “mom”… it was to no avail. The kid had to go to school. Patience and I played it up as best we could, but somewhere in his sixth grade brain, he truly believed I could make it happen.

At one point, I heard him in the background saying, “But mom, you HAVE to listen to her. We always say Aunt Sara rules!” At which point his mom had to explain that basically means Aunt Sara rocks, not that I actually rule over their decisions.

Man, I love that kid.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I looked out my window and felt like I was playing a game of “Which One of These Things is Not Like the Other?

Because I’m guessing the hummingbird feeder isn’t going to get much use in freezing weather and a few feet of snow.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It’s the little things in life that make me happy. When Jonboy and Tyler were here to give me my Valentine photo, they also brought me these giant Smarties.

Mmmm… their mama knows me so well. :) divider blue

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I’ve entered a whole new phase in time wasting. And it’s fun.

So, I’ve never really played video games. We had Pong when I was younger, but hitting a ball between two flat lines can only entertain a person for so long. In junior high, Kim Lickteig’s family had Atari and I loved going over there to play Pac Man or Donkey Kong.

And that has been the extent of my gaming. I’ve never even seen a Wii in person.

BUT… I downloaded the Tap Tap Revenge app onto the iPod Touch, and I got a 100% accuracy! [Let’s not discuss the fact that it was on the easy setting.] I’ve now downloaded the Rock Band app and am sure my thumbs will have it mastered in no time…

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Thanks for sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter S



Ok, total honesty here. I had an idea earlier to write about different songs that have meant something to me at different times in my life. Funny ones, sentimental ones, nonsense ones that are probably only funny to me.

But as the day has gone on, I’ve decided I’m either feeling a weather front coming through or I was up and around too much this weekend. Because my body is saying ouch and my head is saying “impending migraine.”

Lucky for me, I have one song that I recorded back in the day that I haven’t shared with you yet. You remember how I went in the studio and had enough money to record one song after another, without any breaks or being able to go back and fix what I didn’t like?

This is the song I wanted to go back and fix something on.

The thing that sucks is that it was my FAVORITE song to sing, and anyone from St. Stephen’s who is reading this will already know what song I’m talking about.

So, for your listening pleasure, here is my recording of On Holy Ground… the part that will not be your listening pleasure are the two flat notes that make me cringe. Please just ignore them and enjoy the rest. :)

03 Holy Ground by gitzengirl

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Don’t forget to leave ideas for a [T] topic in the comments! [and no wisecracks about the flat notes :)]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lucky Number Seven!!!

We have a winner for my friend Matthew’s book: Hear No Evil

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And it is…

#7 LISA: I wanna win! I wanna win! Course, I'll read the book even if I don’t.

I think this is one of the first times someone from my own town has won something! I’ll send it to St. Stephen’s for you ASAP. :)



If you haven’t purchased this book yet, you can find it at any of these stores:


Friday, February 19, 2010

Hear No Evil

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I don’t even know where to begin, because there are so many things I want to say about Hear No Evil. It’s like when you watch a really good movie and you want to tell your friends all about it, but you know if you tell them every detail that moved you, you’ll ruin the experience for them.

That’s how much I loved this book.

Here’s what I will tell you: When you read Hear No Evil, you’ll know exactly what it’s like to have a conversation with my friend Matthew. He tells the stories in his life with such great detail and emotion that you can’t help but feel like you were with him when they happened. And because he’s a natural with satire, you sometimes have no idea where he’s really going with something until you find yourself laughing out loud and scaring your dog.

Seriously, I made Riley jump off the couch and bark.

And just when you think you’re reading the craziest story you’ve ever heard and are preparing yourself to laugh, he takes you on a different journey. And you have to set down the book and let his words hit you for a moment. When you finish reading this book you will know Matthew, his humor and his heart. And you will be better for it.

The thing that probably amazes me the most, just like it did in his last book, Churched, is that he can write about things I’m not all that familiar with and make me feel like I get the inside joke. I’ve mentioned before that my family was pretty darn straight and narrow… we honestly made the Brady Bunch look scandalous. But the environment in which Matthew was raised as an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist makes my family seem like crime lords. The insight that gives him, and the journey he traveled to be who he is today, gives him a voice that is uniquely qualified to write this book.

It’s full of short chapters that tell of a time in his life, framed around his love for music [and his ambition to be the Christian Michael Jackson… I’m so not kidding]. They are chapters that stand alone so the book can be read bits at a time, but if you’re anything like me you’ll absorb the book in one sitting. Whether you know about the Christian music industry and its artists or not, you will enjoy every page. Because it’s about more than music. It’s about life and it’s lessons and the journey we all take to get where we are. And become who we are.

I highly recommend this book.

And the fact that he writes about having lunch at Amy Grant’s house increased his cool points with me exponentially. :)

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Now, since it’s not fair for me to tell you all about this great book and not give you a chance to read it, too… I’m giving away one FREE copy!!! All you have to do is leave a comment below, and I’ll use to choose a winner on Sunday! You’ll have until noon Sunday [CST] to leave a comment and I’ll post the winner that afternoon.

If you’re not the lucky winner, go to one of these stores and get this book. I promise you’ll laugh out loud. More than once.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hands and Feet

Things have changed quite a bit for me in the last year.

[Feel free to call me Captain Obvious.]

Losing abilities is nothing new to me; I’ve sat by and watched parts of my life and talents slip away for the last fifteen years. Some of them faded gradually, others left in the blink of an eye never to return. I had become accustomed to walking slower, pacing myself with activities around the house, limiting any repetitive movements and accepting the flow of my body on any given day.

But then I spent many months completely immobile this past year. And like a wave crashes on the beach and throws the sand out into the abyss of the ocean, that immobility hit me hard. The changes I had become accustomed to were flung out into that vast unknown. So, I’m relearning my new normal.

But I never want the physical changes of what I can no longer do change who I strive to be.

I’ve accepted that my mobility is more limited, my stamina and energy has decreased, my feet are more tender and my hands are less useful. But what I’ve noticed lately is that, while my life and mobility stopped this summer, my sense of time stopped as well.

Months seem to run together. Days absolutely run together. I have no idea when I wake in the morning if it’s the beginning of the week or the end of it, until I look at my pill dispenser and realize what day I’m on. And that’s ok. I’m no longer as concerned with what is supposed to happen each day as much as I’m concerned with being open to the day. Being open to accomplishing what I can when I’m able… being open to resting when my body demands it… being open to remaining present in my moments so I can take advantage of whatever is in front of me.

But just because my hands and feet no longer serve me well physically, I don’t want that to be an excuse to not be the hands and feet of God.

Along with losing track of the days, I’ve also lost track of important dates. Important birthdays have gone by unnoticed and unacknowledged. I have so many thank you notes left unwritten that I’m not sure who I’ve sent them to and who has been neglected. Little people who always receive Valentine’s from me didn’t this year because I forgot the day existed until I got something in the mail.

I know I have an excuse. My pain and exhaustion has my brain flying at half mast on a good day. There are many things I have let go of out of necessity, but if there is one thing I should hold onto for dear life, it’s my focus on others.

Today is Ash Wednesday. It’s a day I normally would have been singing at our Lenten service and receiving the ashes on my forehead. It’s a day I would have been walking around with an outward sign of acknowledgement that I believe in Jesus, and that I honor the sacrifice He made for all of us.

For Lent this year, every time I try to use my hands and they fail me, every time I walk on my feet and feel the deep ache it causes, it’s going to be my reminder that while my physical hands and feet are weak, they are not limiting me from being the hands and feet of Christ.

Most days, if I accomplish one thing [typically writing the blog] I feel accomplished. Everything else I can do for myself is just icing on the cake. But for the next forty days, that extra energy is going to be put to good use. For His use. I know I’m not able to do grand things for great numbers of people, but I am going to consciously choose to stay focused on others. To be His hands and feet in the little ways that matter to people. I’m going to remember why I am here, even if I’m not sure what day it is. :)

What are you going to do for the next forty days?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 6

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Friday, February 5, 2010


This photo is courtesy of Susie, because while we were Skyping on Friday night she got waylaid… just like when we’re on the phone together. While she was off helping the boys with whatever they needed at the moment, Miss Sadie hopped up on the chair and started Skyping with me instead.

Seriously. She never gets up on their dining chairs, but she hopped up on her own and cocked her head at me as if to say, “What’s happening? I’m still cute as ever, aren’t I?”

Yes, Sadie. Yes you are, good girl.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010


Every other week I put a pork roast in the crock pot and stand back for eight hours while I watch Riley’s head slowly explode. He lays on the rug in the kitchen, whining while guarding the MEAT!!!!

He also periodically sniffs the floor like he’s doing in this photo, just in case the good smelling MEAT magically drops out of the crock pot and onto the floor.

Never let it be said there is not an abundance of unrealistic hope in this house.divider blue

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I know most people’s highlight of Sunday was the Super Bowl, and I thoroughly enjoyed it myself… but a Tokbox meet up with friends far outweighed the big game in terms of the joy factor. Alece randomly started tweeting some of us on Saturday to check availability, and before we knew it the group was hanging out on my computer screen on Sunday.

It’s clear I love these people, because I’m all chubby with my thin hair falling out, and I showed up anyway. But let’s face it, Riley was the life of the party.

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Monday, February 8, 2010


I am getting soooo close to having my condo back to it’s original state after the Great Flood of ‘09. Larry and the construction guy came on Monday and fixed the two areas of my ceiling that were damaged, and now I’m just waiting to see about replacing the air purifier [it’s not working at 100% since the water damage]. Before you know it, this will all be but a distant memory…

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Hey… remember back when I was the most well-groomed dog on the internet? Remember when being blog mascot meant I had haircuts every other month and was brushed every night?

What ever happened to that?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I thought it was time George made his own special appearance in Gitz Bits. You all thought he was just a handy walking machine, didn’t you? No, I can lift the seat and put my most essential items inside. The first thing that went in: my camera, of course. It’s always at my fingertips. :) Since I’m using the camera, you can see the case, as well as the “puffer” that I use when taking flash photos to diffuse the light. Love that thing.

Of next importance: drugs. Lots of drugs. I have my four “days of the week” dispensers for my morning, noon, evening and night doses, as well as a few essentials like migraine meds, inhalers, Benadryl and pain meds. I never leave home without them. Ok, I never leave home, but I never go anywhere within my home without them.

You can see Riley’s collar in the zipper pocket for when company comes, and my handy-dandy Lifeline “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” bracelet always within reach. See, Mom? I totally keep it nearby. :)

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Thursday, February 11, 2010


And, of course, I couldn’t take all those meds without this lovely cup holder attachment! I really debated about spending money on this, but it turned out to be the best $20 I ever spent. Do you have any idea how hard it is to walk with a walker while holding onto a drink? It’s not easy, people. And if you set a drink on the seat, no matter how careful you are while walking, it will inevitably fall over onto the ground, causing you to have to clean up the carpet.

Not that I’ve ever done that. Multiple times. In one day.

And I just noticed another benefit of taking photos of random objects every day to put on the blog… anyone else see that crack going down the middle of the glass? I didn’t either until I took the picture…

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Thanks for sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter R


Road Trip

I’ve learned to savor anticipation. The good kind, of course. The bad kind of anticipation I’m learning to let go of, but the good kind… the moments of anticipating the excitement and joy and newness of life… I’m learning to live in those moments. Even if what I’m anticipating never comes to fruition.

Because, as they say, the joy is in the journey.

To say that everything in my world has to line up in perfect order for plans to materialize is a grand understatement. Like the road trip the Turner’s were going to make to visit me at Christmas… we needed perfect weather, perfect health, perfect timing. What we got was a country-wide blizzard, the flu for Matthew and a bad cold that stuck with Jessica for weeks. We didn’t get to meet in person and talk ourselves hoarse, but I got an amazing gift out of their not-to-be road trip.

I was the recipient of their love, kind hearts, amazing intentions and weeks of giddy anticipation waiting for their arrival. That means I had weeks of waking up smiling at the thought of people caring enough about me to go hours out of their way just to say hi. Not to mention that they were exposing themselves to the ear-piercing squeals of a dog whose head explodes when company walks through the door.

Now, I have TWO road trips planned for this spring. While I’m obviously not going anywhere, I have people planning to hit the road to see me. In April, my dear friend Alece is going to be knocking on my door. This lovely soul who I met online is a missionary in Africa… which meant I was pretty sure we’d never meet face to face. But not only is she now on a respite here in the States, she happens to have a wedding to go to … IN IOWA. Two of her interns in Africa are getting married in a town only a few hours from me, and while I’m totally letting them borrow her for the wedding, I am then claiming the rest of her Iowa experience.

That means her Iowa experience will be limited to my condo, but she doesn’t seem to mind. :)

In just the last week or so, ANOTHER Iowa road trip has been planned for May. Mandy [from Texas] and Amie [from Louisiana] are friends I’ve met through blogs and twitter… and while Mandy has many times mentioned road tripping it to see me, I never dreamed of holding her to it. But now they’re coming!!! How insane is that? She and Amie, and possibly a few others, are hopping in a car and driving 12 hours to spend a weekend here with me and the pup. Since the condo is not that exciting of a place, I’m thinking of renaming it something like “Gitzapalooza” just so it at least sounds more impressive when they tell their friends where they’re going. :)

I used to love a good road trip. Whether I was getting ridiculously lost with friends on our way back from Notre Dame, or heading to Lilith Fair with the girls for a day of amazing music, or simply heading across the state to watch a piano recital for my niece… it was always an adventure that produced memories, and resulted in hugs and laughter and breaks from the every day chaos. Now, I savor the planning instead of the journey, and I’m grateful to be the destination instead of the starting point. I’m no longer hopping in the car to make things happen. I’m sitting at home, overwhelmed by the notion that people want to hop in a car to see me. I’m savoring the emails and the twitter conversations as we plan and plot and anticipate what’s coming.

I’m enjoying the trip of growing and cementing relationships with people as we plan to meet… before they even hit the road. Because whether the road part happens or not, the trip has already begun. And I’m savoring every moment.

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Have any good [S] topics for me to write about next week? Leave your suggestion in the comments and I’ll see what I can come up with!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: Special Dishes

When I was little, one of the things that always made occasions stand out to me was special dishes. Sometimes Mom would use them for no reason at all, like when we’d get home off the school bus to find homemade pudding in fancy glass-stemmed dishes waiting for us to snack on. Or on a random evening when we’d eat dinner off of Mom and Dad’s wedding china that had a green leafy pattern around the outside, accompanied by their crystal glasses and good silver. Sometimes it was just because we felt like being fancy. And that was reason enough.

We weren’t a family that threw a bag of bread on the table or passed around a bag of chips. We put the bread on it’s own plate, or rolls in a basket. We had side dishes in lovely bowls or pottery, and passed all the bowls of food to the left until everyone was served. We sat in our assigned places and said grace, and then proceeded to talk over each other, because eight people around a table could create a lot of noise.

But we sat down together, prayed together, ate together, and sometimes used the good dishes just because being together was reason enough for it to be special.

And then there were the really special dishes.

I brought this up to Mom before Christmas this year, and she was a little shocked that I remembered this because I was so young. But my favorite part of Christmas was always the pretty Christmas plates we used on Christmas Eve. I remember them being the old, more fragile china with an antique-looking Christmas tree in the center. I was wondering if she still had them, [I figured she didn’t… she’s definitely not a hoarder] but I wondered about them nonetheless.

Mom said she remembered feeling like they were heaven sent. We didn’t have much money, being a young family with six kids living on the farm. But one day she was at the used clothing store when she saw these fancy Christmas dishes. The set wasn’t complete, there weren’t the same number of plates or bowls or cups, but there were 8 dinner plates and some lovely serving dishes. Just enough for our family. I don’t know what she thought about when she stood in the store that day. Perhaps she was just happy to have found something fun she could afford. But I do wonder if she paused for a moment to think, “I hope my kids remember this someday.”

Because one kid, for sure, remembers.

So this Christmas, I was all ready to surprise them when they came for lunch on Christmas day with our own set of dishes. They weren’t delicate or fancy. They weren’t a rare find in a used clothing store. But they were definitely purchased with a heart for love and tradition… and for making the simple events special.


While they didn’t make it at Christmas due to the weather, I decided that their visit a few weekends ago would still be our Christmas lunch.


Because I had special dishes. And I learned from my mother that any occasion can be made special. Just because.


Dad brought the appetizers, and I’m happy to report that even when I realized they weren’t little smokies wrapped in bacon, but instead turned out to be dates wrapped in bacon, I still found them delicious.


Dad liked them, too.


And Mom couldn’t help but indulge.


And even though we didn’t need eight place settings, and no one needed to talk over each other to be heard, we’ve found that the peace and quiet of watching a movie while the good food settled in our bellies is just the kind of tradition we like. Most importantly, Riley seems to like it, too. :)