Thursday, April 30, 2009

In The Immortal Words of Jack Nicholson...


I’m B-a-a-a-a-a-a-ck….

Oh, peeps… I’ve never been so happy to get a FedEx delivery in my entire life! If I would have gone one more day without my own laptop I was going to so closely resemble Jack in that photo that someone would have insisted on doing a remake just to utilize the expression.

From here on out, anytime I let myself get a little down about being homebound I’m going to remember how much more confining it would really be if I didn’t have this amazing technology that lets me be a part of the world while not being out in the world.

I’m lucky to live in the age of technology, people.

And while I’m blessed with technology, I also happen to be the person that causes technology to self-destruct. There have been times I have actually wondered if I give off some sort of electrical vibe that wreaks havoc on appliances.

This time it was the computer… which I knew was dying a slow death, but I was trying to live in denial for as long as humanly possible. The cd/dvd burner had died off awhile ago, prompting me to get an external dvd drive. I had also been using an external hard drive for awhile [photos take up a lot of room] but even with that, the computer kept running slower and slower… sometimes taking up to 20 minutes to restart. Not a good sign. But when the monitor went black, I closed the curtain on this production and went in search of a better alternative.

The craziness happened when I borrowed a friend’s monitor to hook up to the laptop so I could make sure I saved all the important documents. I was working away when I heard a ‘POP!’ and then saw and smelled smoke coming out of the electrical cord. I grabbed the cord to unplug it and – dude – it was HOT. So even though I had already closed the curtain, I still got to see the death scene, and it definitely had my heart racing!

But even that excitement is nothing compared to the worst technology month in history I had a few years ago. It was May, my birthday month. A time when all should be sunshine and flowers, and it was instead full of swear words you’d rather not have me repeat here...

It all began with me being cooped up for months, dealing with pneumonia. I was finally starting to get up and around, and decided I was going to try leaving the house [this was back in the day when I was still driving]. I showered, put on makeup and cute clothes, and was ready to go… only to get to my garage and discover a car that wouldn’t start. A few winter months in the garage led to a dead battery and a seriously disappointed me. But I was determined… I got the car jumped the next day and went out for attempt number two.

Only to get to the end of the parking lot and realize that my tire was nearly flat. Which means my first fun outing in months was to sit in the waiting room at the tire place right after I paid to replace the tire. I was off to a great start…

Until I threw my comforter in the washing machine the next week, and it got caught in some mechanism that caused the rim of the tub to break. I was feeling like a winner at that point. So I had the repair man come fix it, only when he did the repair he failed to hook one of the hoses back on correctly. After he left I put in a load of laundry, went in the other room to work on the computer, and didn’t realize until the water had seeped through the walls and into the room I was in that my house was being flooded.

I’m not talking about a little bit of water here, people. I’m saying when my friend Meg and her son Ben came over to check it out he was having a ball because he could jump in the puddles on my carpet and watch the water splash all about. We waivered between panic and laughter about the ridiculousness of the situation… but mostly we panicked. So, I spent four days at a hotel [days which included my birthday, thankyouverymuch] while a cleaning service set up huge machines to dry out my walls and carpet.

You think that’s the end of it, right? If you do, then you haven’t known me long enough. :) No, after that I got back home, went to use the bathroom and the handle to flush literally broke off in my hands. That prompted me to send out an email to everyone I knew, stating: “My life is seriously going down the toilet. I just wish I had a handle so I could flush it.” 

And here’s where we come to the moral of the story… the good thing about having gone through such craziness is that a little computer meltdown suddenly seems like a day at the beach.
It’s good to be back, peeps.

***** ***** *****

You all didn’t think I forgot about the drawing, did you?!?!?!?

[make your own drum roll noise here...]

And the winner of yesterday's canvas, according to, is:

Breezy’s Mom!

The most recent kindness done to me was just last night at our small group potluck. One of the men held our 13 mo. old daughter while my husband & I ate.

Congratulations! Email me at with your mailing address and I'll get it shipped out to you!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

HDG: Be Church

"We must not only give what we have; we must give what we are."
                                                                     ~Cardinal Mercia

This phrase always reminds me of something that was often said at St. Stephen’s, where I used to attend church. The recurring theme was “Don’t Just Go to Church, BE Church.” I often thought of that saying as I would volunteer for different programs, help plan liturgies or take an active role in the Mass itself. The phrase really came to life, however, when random little moments to be church would present themselves on campus.

I attended a state college, so no one sent their kids there thinking they were going to be immersed in religious education by any means. And I think many adults assume that college kids have no interest in faith or religion or anything other than half priced drinks on The Hill on a Thursday night. And while half price drinks are no doubt a priority, they are underestimating the students on a college campus.

I was never one to go around spouting off about my faith in random situations. I wasn’t a bible beater and I honestly wasn’t comfortable just randomly approaching people about anything church related. But in truth, I never really had to. Nearly every time I would wear a sweatshirt to class that had the small St. Stephen’s emblem on it, someone would inquire. People I had barely spoken to would ask me if I went there, if I liked it, what it was like. They were curious, and it rarely took more than me mentioning it as a great place to study or talking about some of the programs that I helped with for them to be interested. All that was required of me was being open to the conversation.

Sometimes I would invite them to one of the free dinners, or would let them know when I was singing in order to give them an excuse to come. But it really never took much… the biggest hurdle was me having the good sense to not just tell them about it, but extend the invitation and let them know they were welcome.

One class in particular, my African American Literature course, presented a very unexpected [and uncomfortable] moment to share about my church. The professor was visiting that semester, and apparently had attended St. Stephen’s on a Sunday when I had cantored, and sang Amazing Grace a cappella. I showed up to class on Monday and he started his lecture by talking to us about how spiritual songs were often started by slaves. He began talking about Amazing Grace, and then told the class that I had sang it that weekend and that he thought it would be a great idea for me to sing it, right then and there, for the class.

You can be sure I was horrified. First of all, I had no idea he had been there when I sang, and second of all, the last thing I had intended on doing in my 8:00am class was opening my mouth to sing. I wasn’t even sure I had spoken to anyone yet that morning. So I made everyone shut their eyes so I could pretend I was anywhere other than the broken down Aud building… and I sang. And a good number of the class showed up the next weekend to Mass. I have no idea if any of them continued going, but they had a reason to go that weekend, and that was something.

I can't go to church anymore, but I'm given opportunities to be church all the time, if I'm open to the moments. I can't necessarily give something I have, but I can still give people who I am. I can help take some little tasks off the plate of a busy friend, I can provide a listening ear and words of encouragement.

You can take dinner to someone who is frazzled by their weekly commitments or watch a child for an afternoon to give a mom a break. Or you could risk the embarrassment of looking like an idiot by singing to a room full of college students.

You know, little things like that.

It’s all about listening to the little voice inside that thinks about a kindness, and actually following through to make it happen.

Sometimes the follow through is the biggest hurdle of all.

To win today's canvas, leave a comment about how someone showed you a kindness. It doesn't have to be anything big; just something that stuck with you. Leave your comment before midnight CST, and I'll announce the winner tomorrow! [Only one comment per person, please!]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We Will Return With Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Hey, Peeps... storms this weekend have given me the gift of migraines, and I only had Monday's post ready to go ahead of time. In order to save you from the ramblings of a woman who can't think straight, I'm going to spare you a real blog post today.

I did happen to plan ahead for a Hump Day Giveaway, however... so please come back tomorrow and you'll still have the chance to win!

In my place today, I'll leave you with this, just because he's cute:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Compassion: India

Happy Monday, Peeps!
We have some business to take care of this fine [stormy] Monday! So, without further ado, the winner of Friday's book giveaway is:
Kate Gal!!! 
I've felt that 'gut feeling' where I take that as God nudging me. Sometimes its a little nudge 'yes Kate, do that' other times its a pretty hard jab 'what are you thinking!?? STOP!!' I'm not sure I've heard His voice but I keep looking for His hand, His guiding, His help. I need it a lot. Will have to go out and get this book (if I don't win it)   
Congratulations!!! Email me your mailing address to and I'll get your book to you ASAP!
I feel like I should put a disclaimer here because so many of you commented about the concept of being more quiet to hear God's voice... and that part wasn't actually from the book. That was just me giving my opinion. :) The book is an easy read that is basically a compilation of short stories telling different people's experiences... it's especially nice for people who want to pick up a book and read snippets when you have time since it's not one continuous story that you feel you need to finish. Just wanted to make sure you understood what you were buying. :)
***** ***** *****
Remember awhile back when I told you that I won something amazing over at Pioneer Woman's blog? For those of you who missed it, I won the chance to be a part of a Compassion child's life. Ree [aka Pioneer Woman ] paid to sponsor a few older children who were a part of the program, but who are often overlooked for sponsorship because of their age. I offered, and I was chosen to correspond with one of them.

Recently, I received my packet of information and instructions on how to correspond with my sponsor child. Meet Tsegaye:

I opened my packet and instantly felt such a pull on my heart. I have nephews that are around Tsegaye's age. They are in school, play sports, go on dates and are planning for their futures. They are getting driver's licenses and thinking about college. And I want Tsegaye to have all those hopes and dreams, too. And then I read his profile.

He loves to play soccer, he is above average in his middle school studies, he attends church activities and helps his mother with the cleaning. He's really just like my nephews... a great kid. A great kid who just happened to be born into an HIV affected area of Ethiopia, who needs help and encouragement and people to believe in him. And I get to be that person.

I can't tell you how great that feels.

You might have noticed that I have had a link on my sidebar [over there on the left] to the Compassion website, in case any of you are interested in sponsoring a child. For the next week or so, there is another button right above it that says "Compassion Bloggers in India." Right now, a group of bloggers are traveling in Kolkata [which used to be Calcutta] visiting children in Compassion programs. You can click that button to go to a page that lists the bloggers on the trip and provides links to their sites. I've gotten to know both Angie [from Bring the Rain ] and Pete [from Without Wax ] and would encourage you to go to either of their blogs to read about their journey... they should be posting regularly while they're there with photos and accounts of their trip.

It's a pretty amazing opportunity to see first hand [well, second hand, really... but you know what I mean :)] what the needs are in these countries and how the children can be helped.

I'll keep you updated from time to time on how things are going with Tsegaye, and I'd love to hear about your experiences with programs like Compassion, too. It's overwhelming to think of how many kids in the world need us, but it's pretty amazing to be able to help at least one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two Giveaways in One Week?!?

Yep... you get to win again. :)

I was sent a copy of a new book, Nine Ways God Always Speaks, written by Mark Herringshaw and Jennifer Schuchmann ... and they were kind enough to include one to give away to a blog reader as well!

I was completely intrigued by the title, because I have always been a little in awe when people have told me that God spoke to them. It seems so casual when it is said in conversation. Someone will randomly comment, "God told me that was the right decision." or "God spoke to me and so I got up and took action." And I always have the same question.


Seriously. I have had people look at me like I'm nuts when I ask it, but really... if you say God spoke, I'm interested in hearing the details.

What they most often mean is that they had a thought, or a feeling, or an urge to do something out of the ordinary. And that I totally understand. I've had my moments of a thought coming out of the blue and realizing that, while it came from within me - it wasn't from me. I've had impulses that I have ignored, which have nagged at me endlessly until I've taken action on them. I've looked back on situations where I didn't feel God's presence in my actions, but later see His hand guiding all of it. I've never heard God's voice, but there are ways He definitely speaks.

And that's what this intriguing little book is all about. If I'm honest, I was hoping for definitive answers. I was hoping they were going to outline what to listen for, how to listen for it, and what it will sound like when you hear it. I kind of wanted a how-to guide for calling up God and hearing what He has to say.

What I got, instead, made a lot of sense. I got examples... this book tells story after story of ways God has touched people in their lives, spoken to them, guided them. It's broken up into sections, but each story is unique, just as we are unique and our relationship with God is one of a kind.

And I think that's how God works. He meets us where we're at, He speaks our language and waits for us to listen. As the authors put it, "The burden of discerning God's communication isn't on the speaker; it's on the listener." Sometimes He's very subtle. It's up to us to pay attention.

I was just talking to my friend Jenny the other day about the fact that if we want to be good listeners, we actually have to shut up every once in awhile. [Literally, we're definitely talkers.] But even if we're not saying a word, if we want to hear what God has to say it might be a good idea to give Him the room to sneak in between the radio and the television and the Wii playing in the background. We've decided it might be the courteous thing to give Him some wiggle room.

I don't think that's because He can't get His message across through all the noise. He can. He can do anything. It's that the noise makes it harder for me to listen... and that part of the relationship is all up to me.

So, this book didn't give me instructions. It didn't give me answers. But it certainly gave me a lot to think about. It gave me examples that I saw myself and my life reflected within. It also gave examples that seemed way out there to me, but it opened my eyes to the possibility that those instances exist for people.

That's the beauty of being unique. We all get to figure out how He works in us as we go along.

If you're interested in winning a copy of the book, just leave me a comment by midnight CST on Sunday, and I'll announce the winner on Monday!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blog Peep Questions: Round 3

It's time for a little question and answer session here on the blog!!! But first, we have the all important giveaway announcement... [I so wish I could put a drum roll sound effect in here]
The winner of yesterday's canvas, according to, is:  
Samantha: My miracle is having identical twins. It is such a rare thing. There were some complications with one of my sons at birth, but he pulled through and is completely healthy. They are such a gift from God and I thank Him daily for them.
Congratulations! Email me your mailing address to and I'll get your canvas shipped off to you!
Do you decorate any of your ambulatory aids?
Good God No. When you're pushing around a contraption like George, the situation doesn't exactly require glitter and streamers to attract attention to yourself. :) I remember my friend Kelly laughing at me a few years ago when we were going out for her birthday... they had picked me up and I was so disgusted because I had on really cute clothes, but I thought the crutches ruined my outfit. Yeah, there's just really no way to make them a fashion accessory, but I don't find it necessary to make them any more obvious than they already are.
Have you ever had an "I've fallen and I can't get up" moment?
Well, I didn't fall... but I definitely couldn't get up. Up until a few years ago, any swelling in my joints had been in places that were handleable for me... like my shoulder or my fingers. It's a pain not to be able to move your hands correctly or lift your arm very high, but I could still get around and function. But one morning I woke up and my ankle had swelled with fluid during the night, and I literally couldn't move without wanting to cry. Just the sheet rubbing against it or the pressure of pulling it along the bed so I could sit up was more than I could deal with first thing in the morning. 
It took me about 20 minutes to get in a sitting position and reach the phone, and I called my friend Meg to come over and help me [this was before the days of crutches, so I had no aids to help me get around]. She and her little boy Ben took me to my doctor's office and then to the hospital where I stayed for a few days... by the time they did the MRI on my ankle I had also developed some fluid in my opposite knee, and with all of my other mobility/joint problems they wanted to make sure I could get around safely on my own before I went back home. It's funny how that seemed so bad back then, and now it's just something I would deal with at home and call in meds for. And, of course, I now have more [undecorated] ambulatory aids laying around should the need arise.
After all that excitement, poor Ben thought every time they came to my house they were there to help me with my sore foot. I just know I'm going to be paying for these kids' therapy bills someday. 
But the one who really benefited from the whole "I can't get up" scenario was Riley. He was only a few months old and had been sleeping in his kennel at night. I felt SO horrible about not being able to get up and let him out of his kennel that morning, so I let him sleep in bed with me after that... just in case it happened again. 
I'm such a sucker.
Does your camera have a video feature?
Well, the new one doesn't, but my old one does! I've actually been trying for some time to get the blog mascot [aka Riley] on camera doing something cute, but the little stinker is so predisposed to posing for the camera that he stops doing anything fun the moment he sees it.
This first video shows you what I'm up against. The dog that normally can't sit still is doing a perfect impersonation of a statue. I do my best to talk to him and help him realize I'm not taking a photo, but in the end he's pulling a camera-shy act and rebuffing the camera altogether. 
[disclaimer: my mother has asked me to stop calling myself an idiot on the blog, so I am instead going to tell you that I sound like an absolute idiot dork when I'm talking to my dog. I promise that if we ever speak in real life, I won't talk to you like this.]
In the following video he had been tearing from the room we were in, through the rest of the condo and back... about a million times. The pillows are disheveled because he had been playing hide and seek under them and being all sorts of crazy. But as you'll see, he notices the camera and then comes closer to lay down and pose. And then all the fun and games are over!

Riley Running from gitzengirl on Vimeo.

Don't worry, I'll keep working on him... if I catch him doing something worthwhile, I promise to put it up straight away!
What is your favorite ice cream?
Yes, I know, this one has been asked and answered before... but there's a problem. My favorite ice cream was Blue Bunny Goo Goo Cluster, which was a fantastic mix of chocolate ice cream with a marshmallow ribbon, chocolate covered peanuts and caramel revel. I mean seriously, people, it was delicious. I hadn't had it in years [blame it on my diligence trying to lose the steroid weight], and after I posted my love for it on the blog I was sadly informed that IT NO LONGER EXISTS!!!!
What has this world come to? 
My sister Laura and her husband Jeff brought me some little individual samples of ice cream the last time they came to visit, since I am now going to have to find a new favorite [my waistline is going to hate me for this]. But I need YOUR help. Anyone have any suggestions of flavors for me to try? I love chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, candy bar toppings, etc. ... I don't like mint, coffee flavors or any nuts other than peanuts. If you have a favorite ice cream that I need to know about, post it in the comments. I'm thinking I'll try some new ones and let you all know [after diligent taste testing] what my new favorite is...
[Wow. I think it's now safe to say that the blog has taken over every part of my life. I can't even eat ice cream without your input!]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

HDG: Miracles Abound

"There are two ways to look at life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is."                                                                                                 ~Albert Einstein

I used this quote for our very first Hump Day Giveaway [before it had an official name and everything], but I thought it was the perfect one for today as well.

Yesterday, little Stellan had an ablation on his heart. It was one of those days when I could hardly think of anything else as we all waited, once again, to see how he would do. I was grateful that he made it through surgery ok, disappointed that everything couldn't be fixed, relieved that enough was done to still give hope.

I won't go into too much technical mumbo-jumbo... I wouldn't be able to do it all justice. In a nutshell, some of the electrical pathway that was causing his heart to beat dangerously fast was able to be destroyed. Because of where the pathway was located, they couldn't finish the job without causing too much damage to the heart, but they did get about 65% of the job done. And now we wait. Either it was enough to keep him out of SVT [high heart rate] or it wasn't. If it wasn't, the hope is that it was enough to make it so meds will work until he's older and can have a pacemaker put in. If that's not the case, he may need another surgery sooner rather than later.

So, again, we wait and see. And trust. And believe in miracles for the little man.

Hence, the quote for today's canvas... the doctors technically call his surgery a failure because only 65% of the ablation was done. I call it a miracle. Every last little bit of it.

They didn't think he would live in utero. He did. = Miracle.
They didn't think he'd be healthy when he was born. He was. = Miracle.
They thought he was too young to do surgery. He lives. = Miracle.

People from all over the globe are praying for this little boy. When so many are preoccupied with their own hardships, they are laying down their own worries to rally behind a child. Some have criticized Jennifer, Stellan's mom, for accepting donations and help... I think, on the contrary, that it's a beautiful testament to the human condition that people are moved to support a family they've never met, simply because they need it. One little boy, who has no idea what is going on in his own body let alone the impact he has on the world, made it through a surgery so he can live another day.


I know people are going through their own struggles, but when your life seems overwhelming today, stop for a minute and realize that you aren't even aware of your own heart beating. It's of no concern to you... because it's doing its job without being asked. That's a miracle. Everything is. We just have to remember to appreciate it.

To win today's canvas, leave a comment telling me a small miracle in your own life that you're going to appreciate today. Leave your comment before midnight CST, and I'll let you know the winner tomorrow [one comment per person, please!].

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Gaggle of Children

You know how, when a little kid is so tired and they don't know what to do with themselves, they'll start wandering in circles to stay awake?

Sometimes they want a blanket, then a cup of milk, then a story, then a snack... circles and circles and circles.

That was totally me this entire past weekend. It was rainy and icky and the weather just couldn't figure out what it wanted to do, which leaves me fighting exhaustion and not being able to decide what to do either. So on Sunday I gave up completely, laid on the couch, turned on the tv and got sucked into a pop culture phenomenon that had alluded me up to this point.

I spent an entire day watching back-to-back episodes of Jon and Kate plus 8. I had NO IDEA what I'd been missing.

My friend Meg had just been telling me that her daughter Taylor loves the show and can tell all the little sextuplets apart, so I paused on the station just to see what all the hoopla was about. And apparently I wasn't the only one wandering in circles not knowing what to do... Jon and Kate had eight kids doing that non-stop! As was Jon, Kate's husband... that woman has definite ideas of how life should go, and running in circles seemed to be Jon's best past time.

They are crazy, organized and yet in total disarray, seem to really love each other and yet drive each other nuts all at the same time. In other words, it's the only reality show I've ever watched where I think I'm actually watching reality. And now I think I'm hooked.

And I suddenly feel the need to say thank you to my mother for raising six kids ages eight and under, and congratulate her for having made it through. Because she dealt with this on a daily basis:

And there are days I can barely keep this under control:


Monday, April 20, 2009

Never Say Never

I'm starting to think that life mainly consists of learning to accept things we say will never happen to us. I'm sure you have your own examples - I have friends who swore they would always work, who now love being stay-at-home moms. I have friends who were sure they'd want to stay at home with their kids who would go crazy if they didn't have a job outside of the home to challenge them. A good friend of my family got married, and both he and his wife are successful doctors who never wanted kids. They are now captivated by their three beautiful boys. Life takes us by surprise, and we learn to embrace what is meant to be, rather than what we meant to create.

I had all sorts of plans. I was sure I would work as a writer, I would get married and have kids and I would love cheering them on through their lives. I would be busy and active - involved in my church and my community. I would have dinner parties and card clubs and fill up life.

The day I had to quit working I remember telling a friend that even harder than letting go of the dream was knowing I wouldn't be a productive member of society. I had to learn to let go of the picture of my life that was in my mind... the husband, the kids, the home with the parties. And I went from saying what I would do to declaring what I would never do.

I wouldn't stop pushing to do freelance work. I did.
I wouldn't let pain stop me from pushing through physical therapy. I did.
I wouldn't rely on a cane. I did.
I wouldn't go on disability. I did.
I wouldn't ... well, it doesn't matter all the examples I give because determination only takes a person as far as their body and situation will allow.

My latest thing to embrace... my most emphatic declaration for a few years now... I would NOT get a walker.

I did.
Of course, I had no intention of relying on the walker... I find I always have to come at things with baby steps. I was simply going to get something that had a platform of some sort so I could get my laptop from one room to another. Walking with crutches makes carrying anything obviously difficult. I was able, for a long time, to walk with one crutch and carry a drink or a plate from one room to another, but it was getting harder to keep my balance doing that... and with the sudden nerve pains it was easy to get unstable. So there I was with wireless internet, and no way to use it because I couldn't move the laptop to a comfortable chair.
And then I found the "rollator." Which, by the way, I really need to find another name for. Because while I like the fact that I don't have to call it a walker, I think rollator sounds like something that old Saturday Night Live character would call it. You know, the dude who changed everyone's names... like instead of calling me Sara he'd say, "The Sara-nator!" Quite frankly, I'd rather call it George.
But, as usual, I digress. :) I had gotten to the point where I realized I needed it for a carrying function, but I was still resistant. I even called my friend Susie to see if she would talk me out of it. She's usually all about saving money so I told her what I was thinking, assuming she'd think of another way to get a laptop from point A to point B without spending a dime on a contraption. I called the wrong girl. Apparently she was rooting for a walker for awhile, but was afraid to bring it up because she thought I'd get mad. Which is only funny because I don't remember the last time I got mad at her... but she was right, I really didn't want it.
But I bought it. And now I seriously don't know how I managed before I got it.
Oh sure, it helps me get my computer into different rooms [ahh... functioning laptop... how I miss thee] but I had no idea how much more secure I would be walking around my place. Being able to set things on the seat and always have two handles to stabalize me, being able to sit down regardless of where I'm at if the nerve pain hits or I get dizzy... it's literally taken away my fear of falling. And the handy feature of the basket underneath the seat is priceless. Of course, the first thing I thought to keep in the basket was my camera [it's now always at my fingertips], but mom's suggestion was to put my Lifeline button in the basket since I never think to wear it. Good to know both of our priorities are met. :)
When Avery was here, I had just gotten the rollator - I mean, George - the day before so I didn't get a chance to prep her for it. And it really does look like quite the contraption. We talked a lot about why I was walking with it and how helpful it would be. To be honest, I think I talked myself into it being ok as I was reassuring her about it. And when she left that night she said that it kind of scared her at first, but now she thinks it will be pretty handy, always being able to sit down when I need to and not worrying about falling. She decided it was a good thing.
And I have to admit [stop smirking, Susie... I know how you love being right] that I'm finding it pretty darn handy, too. George and I should get along just fine.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Soul Desire

Earlier in the week, Tam made this ever-so-subtle comment about what I could do for you all while we're waiting for the computer that still has not been shipped from the Dell warehouse [not that I'm bitter or anything]:
i know what you can do while you're waiting...find some more of those awesome songs of yours. and. you know. share them :)
That Tam, she's always thinking.
And since she asked so nicely I thought I'd better do as I'm told. [She's really good at talking me into things... like Twitter. And Facebook. And oreo cravings.]

Tonight I had the girls over for our faith sharing night, and this paragraph from Max Lucado's Traveling Light struck me in a big way:
God hates arrogance. He hates arrogance because we haven't done anything to be arrogant about. Do art critics give awards to the canvas? Is there a Pulitzer for ink? Can you imagine a scalpel growing smug after a successful heart transplant? Of course not. They are only tools, so they get no credit for the accomplishments.
Now, at some point in the discussion I think Susie called me a tool, and didn't mean it in the nicest way, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. :) In every part of the 23rd Psalm, which this book is based on, it talks about all God does for us:
"He makes me..."
"He leads me..."
"He restores my soul..."
And once again I am reminded that I need to be mindful of having a servant's heart. I have to be intentional in all the actions I take, knowing that all I do needs to point back to Him... the One who gets the praise for writing the story of our lives. The story for which I am blessed enough to be the ink.
And I just happen to have recorded a song back in the day that reminds me of that. So, thanks to Tam, here's my recording of My Soul Desire:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's All About The Hair

And the Hump Day Giveaway canvas winner, according to, is...

Juliet! I REALLY need to read this today -- I have been in this huffy mood all week and maybe longer, I love that quote. Thanks for this post!

Congratulations!!! Email me at with your mailing address and I'll get your canvas shipped off to you!

***** ***** *****

I really should have seen this coming. Over the years, as I‘d get to points in my life when I felt like something needed to change, one thing was always inevitable.

I’d change my hair.

It’s got to be a control thing. Or a boredom thing. But there are moments I just need things to be shook up, and since I can’t go shopping or redecorate or workout or, well, anything… I cut or color my hair into a new style. And trust me, people, I’ve had some doozies. In high school, if everyone had braids and big bangs, mine would be short with flat bangs. In college I had long hair, super short hair, long in the front and short in the back hair. Thankfully it was never short in the front and long in the back… I was saved from the party-time mullet. But oh, did I rock the flip.

Note to self: burn years worth of photos to save accidental humiliation.

So, when Susie called at 11:00 on Saturday night as she was getting things ready for Easter morning, I’m sure it didn’t shock her that I was just about to take a scissors to my hair. I just don’t think she was prepared for how much I was going to cut off. And in all honesty, 10 minutes earlier was the first time I even thought about cutting it shorter. I sort of go on impulse with this kind of thing.

When I said I was about to cut my long hair above my shoulders her first question was, “How much medication have you taken?”

You’d think that was a joke, but in my world it’s a legitimate question. I don’t think any of us want a repeat of my hair cutting while in an Ambien haze.

I reminded her that the doctor and I are trying other meds to knock me out since the Ambien never did help me sleep, but instead kept me from remembering what I did when I was awake. So now, even if I am up until all hours of the night, the next morning I am able to remember what I kept myself busy doing! Good timing, I suppose, as it will keep me from doodling on the lid of my new laptop. :)

Anyway, I told Suz that I was going to chop off my hair, but I was a little concerned because I didn’t have a certain style in mind… I was just going to start cutting and see what happened. Susie reassuringly reminded me that even if it turned out badly, it wasn’t like I was going anywhere people would see me. And with that, I chopped off four inches.

Peeps, do you remember those photos I would take of Riley’s piles of hair that were left after his haircuts? Mine was very similar, only brown and curly. But quantity-wise… holy cow. I cut, I layered, I chopped and I somehow ended up with a bit of an unintentional shag. But I think I kind of dig it. It’s definitely a change, and a change is definitely something I’ve been needing.

Now, before you all start complaining that you want to see a photo… I can’t do anything about that without the right computer software for my camera. *shrugs* Shucks. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

When Susie walked into my condo on Easter to drop off some food [she’s nice like that] one of the first things out of her mouth was, “You have got to get a computer … fast.”

She knows how I get when I’m antsy. I think she’s scared if it doesn’t come soon I’ll be rocking a mohawk.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

HDG: It’s All In The Tone

Before we get started on the giveaway, you blog peeps should know that two of my siblings read the blog every single day. And they both happen to be celebrating their birthdays TODAY! My sister Laura and my brother Steve [aka Hoody] were born four years apart [how Mom managed that is beyond me], and they have both been great cheerleaders for me in my life. 
I love you both beyond measure and hope you have an abundantly blessed day!!!!
***** ***** *****

hump day
“The greater part of our happiness depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.”                       
                                                              ~Martha Washington

I find as my friends’ kids get older, their moms all start to lament about the same thing… the tone. It’s such a challenge to teach a child that, while it’s important to say you’re sorry, it’s even more important to sound like you mean it.

A curt and begrudging “I’m sorry” while stomping up the stairs and huffing dramatically just doesn’t have the same effect as sitting across from someone, looking them in the eye, and sincerely speaking from your heart. The same is true when faced with an undesirable situation… we can either handle what’s in front of us by huffing and puffing while we go through the motions, or we can take a deep breath and move forward in faith. Move forward with a grateful heart, because we move forward with trust.

When I realized that outside was no longer an easily accessible place for me, as you all know, I felt like huffing and puffing. I fought the urge and, rather than throw a tantrum, I just kept moving forward. But for the first week or so, I really didn’t have the right tone. I don’t feel bad about that… we all need to take our moments in order to adjust to new realities.

But at some point the thought occurred to me that to God, in the role as Father, I must have looked like a spoiled brat. You know, the kind that does what they’re told but only begrudgingly… making sure He realized that, while I was fulfilling my role, I really wasn’t happy about it. The sun was shining outside, people were walking around in short sleeves and sandals, and I couldn’t bring myself to open up the curtains. I could accept never going outside or opening windows if I just didn’t have it shoved in my face everyday that it was out there. That it existed. That it was all still going on without me.

And that’s not who I want to be.

I want to accept His gifts with a grateful spirit. And while being homebound doesn’t appear to be a gift, I know I will receive gifts and blessings in my situation. I always do. So when this weird weather decides to be spring-like again [I know what April showers bring, but I don’t know what comes after April snows…] my patio will be decorated. My chairs will stay empty but they will be sitting there representing the inviting home beyond the patio door. My hasta will bloom and the wrens will still take up residence, and I’ll enjoy them from my perch inside my walls.

And I will enjoy it… just because I can’t feel the sunshine doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it’s warmth.

To win today's canvas, leave me a comment before midnight CST... I'll announce the winner tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What You've Got...

[I still can't get to my newer photos... but figured out how to get to photos I already processed with this loaner laptop. YEA!!!]

You know that lyric, “You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...”? I've been so fortunate that sentiment hasn't seemed to apply to my life. I usually know how blessed I am to have what's right in front of me.

Like the fact that I knew how much I relied on all of you out here in the blog universe. I was aware of exactly how much it helped me to wake up in the morning when I could look forward to reading what all of you had written in the comment section. And I was right. Really right. Because I missed the heck out of all of you, and getting out of bed in the morning took a little bit longer without the motivation.

And then there were the years my brother's family lived here in town. Hoody, his wife Patience and my little Cooper lived here when I was in college, and later when I was working at the magazine. They had a house close by and we would have Sunday dinners, watch movies, go for walks and enjoy holidays together.

I knew exactly how good I had it when this little man was available to play or snuggle or go for a stroller ride. Shortly after they moved Miss Avery [aka Tootsie] came into their lives, and the blessing of this little chickadee running around on tip toes was never lost on me either. 
What does take me by surprise regularly, however, is how quickly they are growing up on me. Patience and the kids came to visit a few weeks ago when they had an afternoon off from school, and I soaked up every last moment with them. And they most certainly didn't disappoint. They are never short on stories or ideas, and kept me thoroughly entertained.
I love it when they take interest in the hobbies I love so much. While I got a couple of shots with my new camera, Tootsie took command of my old point and shoot, taking many an artistic photo.
[me on the computer as Riley posed so nicely for her]

[yes, that's still my Christmas tree... don't judge.]

Coop, after doing some drawing in his notebook, also got in on the photography action and wanted to make sure I showed my bloggers some of his great new comic book storylines...
[In case you can't read it, it's titled "The Poor City of Good Ol' People"]

[His name is Temptation the Cyborg]

[I have to tell you, it cracked me up that they requested air time on the blog.]

We played another mean game of Clue, since they wanted a rematch from Christmas... [the following Clue photos are taken by Coop]

[I won again this time... I think I read too many murder mysteries]

...and we couldn't have an evening together without baking the crazy volcano cake.

[Sadly... these photos weren't processed and you're just going to have to use your imagination. I'll post them when the new computer comes, just so you can salivate over the chocolate yumminess...]

I love that I have little traditions with the kids, and while it was great to have Sunday dinners and stroller rides in years past, I savor the stolen moments and excitement of getting to have them visit now. I know exactly what I've got. And I love every minute of it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Going With The Flow

I'm finding it strangely difficult to get blog posts written and scheduled without my own computer and programs. I have a couple posts that would be ready to go... if I could get access to the photos I need. Photos that are still in their RAW format and can't be processed into a .jpg format without the proper software. I am so relieved to borrow a laptop, and yet feel like half of my limbs are still cut off until a computer of my own can be ready to go.

And as of right now, I'm totally in the dark as to when that will be. They had given assurances of a quick turnaround time, only now to say there are no assurances at all. I'm hoping they are just being unrealistically pessimistic in saying it could be as late as May 4th for me to get my own computer. I'm hoping they are being cautious and that I will be pleasantly surprised when it shows up at my door tomorrow, because I have literally convinced myself each and every day that the UPS man is going to knock on my door and hand me a package from Dell.

I've been learning to go with the flow, while at the same time trying to will the flow to go in my direction.

Ironically, this process of going with the flow is a recurring topic in my everyday life. As much as I've learned to adapt to what life is handing me at any given moment, I am also constantly trying to figure out the rhyme and reason of it all. If I hit a wall of exhaustion, I'm trying to figure out if it's the weather or something I've done differently that day. If my pain is greater I go over my medications in my head to make sure I didn't miss something, and then retrace my steps to figure out when I could have overdone it.

Lately, the hurdle has been a nerve problem in my leg. I know in reality that the pain in my leg comes from a nerve that has pressure on it from the inflammation in my spine. I know in my head that there is no rhyme or reason to the inflammation or the pain. The nerve pain is constant in a certain part of my leg... it's either tingling or itching or deadened or filled with little stabbing needles. I'm used to all of those. The part I'm never sure of is when the lightening will strike. When a bolt of hot, fiery, electrical lightening will shoot into my thigh and drop me to my knees in pain. It can happen when I'm perfectly still or when I'm moving. It can happen multiple times an hour or just once a day. It can happen when my body is in its normal state or when my pain is elevated. It's an equal opportunity annoyance, and there's only one thing I can do about it.

I can go with the flow. I can accept it for the inconvenience that it is, deal with it when it arrives and move on from it when it goes. There's no use anticipating its return... it's on its own schedule. So I've decided not to worry about it when it's gone and just enjoy a lightening-free moment when I can get it.

My body has given me no choice but to accept that, so I do. But I am realizing that's how I should be handling most things in my life. Because, like it or not, most things we have no control over. Most things are going to happen whether we worry about them or not. Most things can't be handled ahead of time, but are only able to be dealt with in the moment. Most of our free time is wasted trying to make something happen that can't, or trying to avoid something happening that's inevitable.

That's been one of the benefits of being sick for me. I've learned to take life as it comes, when it comes... rather than anticipating life's next move and wasting precious time worrying about a future I have no control over.

Don't get me wrong... if I could drive myself to the mysterious Dell warehouse and breathe down their necks until they put my spring green laptop into my outstretched hands, I would. Patience is not always my greatest virtue. But since I'm not leaving the house [or driving for that matter] I'm going to do my best to go with the flow... accept the inevitable... and spend the extra free time catering to the whims of the pup.

Oh, that's right, I do that even when I don't have free time... Silly me. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Unrealistic Optimist

So, this whole internet fasting thing was not what I was planning on doing for Lent this year, but apparently the universe had other plans for me! I have a laptop on order that was supposed to be here by the end of this week, but as of yesterday it hadn't shipped out yet... so I called in the reinforcements. :) My friend Meg is loaning me her laptop so I can sneak in and say hi to all of you blog peeps ... and make no mistake people, I HAVE MISSED YOU! You seriously have no idea.

I have learned something about myself with this little ordeal... I've learned that I am an unrealistic optimist. "Hi, my name is Sara, and I'm an unrealistic optimist." Whew. Feels good to get that off my chest.

I guess I shouldn't say it's something new that I've learned, really, but it's one of those things that I seem to keep forgetting. As an example, here's how my thought process went this week:
  1. My computer dies. But it's ok... I'll figure out a way to get another one. And I think that realistically I'll be without one for a week, maximum.
  2. I begin to think that maybe this will be a good thing for me. It is Holy Week after all; I can stand a little sacrifice. Besides, I have lots of other things on my mental to-do list that I'd like to get done or caught up on.
  3. Reality sets in, and I begin to lose my mind because of the total disconnect from all of you.
  4. The clarity that having free time doesn't mean I'll magically have more energy to do other things is suddenly found.
  5. I begin to understand that the computer and internet weren't keeping me from getting things done on my mental to-do list... my physical disability was keeping me from getting those things done. The computer is just a fantastic and wonderful distraction from the frustration of not being able to do most anything else.
  6. I realize that a week for a computer to be ordered and delivered is an unrealistically optimistic expectation and the subject of this blog post is found.
But the benefit of being unrealistically optimistic is that almost every situation starts out handleable, even if the plan does eventually fall apart. :)

Most importantly, I wanted a chance to get online today so I could tell you all Happy Easter. I hope you are all able to spend time with people you love this weekend and get to truly celebrate the hope that was given to all of us in Christ's resurrection. The unselfish love He has for us... to die for sins we had yet to commit because He knew who we would be and how much we would need His grace... it's the most overwhelming and humbling realization for me. Good Friday service was the one time every year I knew I couldn't enter church and leave the same person. Some Sundays I admit to just existing through the Mass, but on Good Friday when the altar was stripped bare and the sound of echoing hammers filled the chapel, I could not be unmoved and unchanged. That same emotion will be with me here in my home... no altar or cross or hammers are needed for me to know that He lived for me, died for me and loves me.

And I know that He, too, looks at me with unrealistic optimism. Because although He has given me everything I need, I often fail miserably at the tasks He puts in front of me. But just like I forget and face the next hurdle with optimism that is oftentimes unwarranted, He wipes my slate clean and does the same for me.

How very blessed I am.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I’m Trying Not to Panic, BUT…

… my laptop has bit the dust. Like smoking, almost starting a fire kind of bit the dust.

[cue moment of silence for internal screaming…]

Good ol’ Susie has lent me her system for the afternoon so I can get a post up for all of you and take care of some other online business, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to go radio-silent for a few days until I can get a new system in place.

[I’m still screaming internally, in case you’re wondering…]

I’m not freaking out about the laptop; it’s just a thing and I’ll figure that out. But I will be away from YOU … my blog peeps …

No email, no Twitter, no Facebook, no blog surfing ….

It’s like I’m Laura freaking Ingalls during a blizzard in the Big Woods. [We are actually having a blizzard right now, ironically.] Only I'm stuck without Mr. Edwards to entertain me on the harmonica while Pa plays the fiddle. *sigh*

So, you just have to promise you won’t forget about me, and I’ll be back the moment a new laptop hits my hot little hands. In the meantime, you can go back to the beginning and read all those older blog posts you may have missed!

As for me, I have a book I need to read that I’ll be reviewing and giving away on the blog ~ and I have canvases to get shipped out ~ and I have other canvases to make ~ and apparently I’ll now have hours on end to think of new posts for the blog!  :)

Until next time, [soon, God, please let it be soon] I’ll leave you with this sad, pitiful face:


[Riley is screaming internally, too…]

Friday, April 3, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Custom Cruiser

custom satellite

This is the only photo I could find of what I “affectionately” called the Custom Cruiser. It’s that old heap of a car, covered in snow, that dad had obviously backed into with his pickup.

It was a brown Plymouth Custom Satellite [I have no idea the year, although I think it’s safe to say OLD] that my dad had bought for $100 for my sister to go back and forth to college her freshman year. The following year I turned 14, she got a better car and I was able to drive with a school permit… which means the Custom Cruiser was mine-all-mine…

People, trust me when I tell you that if such a thing as regulations for a car exist, this one didn’t meet any of them. The first day the car became '”mine” dad gave me a lesson in how to check the oil, and then we took it to town so he could show me how to properly power wash the car.

We put in our tokens and dad provided a few pointers like, “Now honey, if a guy would just hold the sprayer like so, you’re going to get the best angle for cleaning underneath…” But sadly, I never got to hear the rest of dad’s power washing wisdom because the car literally started falling apart.

Yep. The old Custom Cruiser appeared to be held together by the rust and dirt that had been accumulating over its many years of use. Instead of learning the finer points of a good wash, my dad’s advice turned into, “Don’t ever wash this car.”

Trust me, I didn’t. But I did check the oil every single time I filled the gas tank. Apparently that is my dad’s number one rule of car ownership, and it stuck with me.

Of course, being 14, I wasn’t truly all that concerned with washing it anyway… what I was concerned with was the fact that it only had an 8-track player. [If you don’t know what an 8-track player is, feel free to come to my house so I can slap you for making me feel old.] After a short time of having nothing to listen to other than the Carpenters and Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” I figured out a way to rig a cassette player into the stereo. It was quite the system, trust me.

The best part of the beater car was that I could go all sorts of places in it and put all sorts of dings in it, and no one would ever be the wiser. My friends and I could go places were weren’t allowed [remember… it was just a school permit] by taking gravel roads, and no one noticed we had done it because my car was always filthy. In reality, we were probably helping to hold the thing together by adding the extra dirt. We would have to wait for the fog to clear inside the car, however, as the dust from the gravel roads would billow in through the rust holes on the floor in the back.

I may have just discovered the cause of my asthma.

The funniest mishap, to me, was when my best friend Katie wanted to drive. She didn’t have a car yet and had no driving experience, which at 14 didn’t sound like that big of deal to us. So she hopped into my car and went to back it out of the garage… and promptly scraped it across the side of the garage door frame, putting a huge dent into the side of the car.

We were FREAKING OUT. I was so afraid of getting in trouble, and Katie didn’t want her parents to know she was driving… so we did the only logical thing we could think of. We put the car in the garage and pretended it never happened.

Funny thing is, that solution totally worked. The car was such a junker that dad never noticed an extra dent, and about a year later when he did notice a scrape on the garage door frame he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hmm… wonder how that got there.” Since it didn’t seem to be a direct question to me I didn’t think it required a direct answer from me.

But now that the truth is out there… Katie, you might be getting a call from my dad.


katie me[This is Katie and me; I would show you a photo of us at 14, but either my hair would be scary short (I was bucking the trends) or it was long and we both had wings on the side of our heads that made us look like we were about to take flight. This was by far the safest option.]

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Adrift in Chaos?

Oh, people, even if you were lying to me about being duped… it was so much fun thinking I finally had an April Fool’s prank work!!!!!

And it was even more fun when picked the number of a commenter who has shown up here every day since practically the beginning of this blog…

MISS ROBIN!!!!  And it's no surprise that you "got" me. As we established when I fell for Vicky's joke, that NO ONE else fell for, I believe ANYTHING!!!! You little Dickens, but at least I can say that I someone got me with an April Fools joke!!!  Organizing...yep that's my girl, I love the closets they look perfect! Your work space just screams "I'm CREATIVE"!  Love this canvas! My eyes about bugged out of my it!

Congratulations, Robin! I’ll get your canvas in the mail! Now… onto today’s blog post…

***** ***** *****

Either we are adrift in chaos or we are individuals, created, loved, upheld and placed purposefully, exactly where we are. Can you believe that? Can you trust God for that?  
                                                                    ~ Elisabeth Elliot

I love a good quote that hits squarely between the eyes, don’t you?

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about what it means to really have a servant’s heart. It could mean being accessible to others in a variety of ways… volunteering at a food pantry, giving your time to mentor a child, simply being available to friends in need or dropping a card in the mail to someone who needs a bright spot in their day.

It could mean going to your job and finding ways to make sure the work you do benefits others, or being the stay-at-home mom who does the little things to make sure her family feels loved and secure and special.

But that quote up there, the one that talks about believing we are placed purposefully, that is what defines having a servant’s heart for me. Why? Because it makes my life not about me. The only part of that statement I have any control over is my choice to trust that I am not adrift in chaos… that being exactly where I am, with all of my abilities and lack thereof, is exactly where I’m supposed to be. That puts me in a place to fulfill His mission, not mine.

It’s taken me years to understand that. When I was perfectly healthy I was always striving to be of purpose. I was always looking for ways to do better, to be better, to find the mission I was supposed to fulfill. But as years passed, and abilities I once thought made me who I was gradually began to disappear one by one, I started to realize that all the searching in the world couldn’t provide as much insight as simply standing still and embracing the purpose of the moment.

The more abilities that were taken from me, the more I realized they were just externals. Singing was a joy, but it wasn’t who I was. The right job or the right apartment didn’t create lasting happiness. It was what I did at that job, what I gave to the people who heard me sing, what comfort I provided to those who entered my home… those were the things that best served.

Now I find that the less I have, the less I need. The less I am able to do, the more I am able to see what is right in front of me. Instead of trying to succeed at things I think are important or searching to discover a purpose, I’m working at being still… at having a servant’s heart and trusting that I am an individual, created, loved, upheld and placed purposefully, exactly where I am.

While my life feels crazy sometimes [trust me, it does] it no longer feels like chaos. That doesn’t make my physical reality any easier, or less painful, but it does bring contentment and a joyful heart. Those I wouldn’t trade for all the success in the world.