Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 12

Here we go… Project Tuesday on a Wednesday… cuz that’s how I roll. ;) I’m breathing much better tonight, the cheese has been thrown away and Riley is happily taking his meds in a glob of peanut butter.

So all’s well that ends well! :)


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Friday, March 19, 2010


It’s Spring, people. And what says Spring more than gorgeous, yummy, bright red strawberries?!?!?

Mmm… tasty. I have so been craving fruit lately.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010


Thanks to Gitz Bits, I get to brag on the Panthers just a little while longer [next week’s game night photo won’t be quite so enthusiastically happy]. But man all the UNI alumni were fired up when we beat #1 Kansas! Seriously, I could hardly type my hands were shaking so much, but I managed a good Facebook post regardless. :)

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


Did I mention that we beat the #1 seed, Kansas? In case you missed it, you could have read it on the front page of the New York Times online edition.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

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Ok, so you’re about to see three photos for one day. Which is kind of against the rules, but so is posting Project Tuesday on a Wednesday… so we’ll just go with it. When Susie and I get together, we usually try to schedule it on Sunday nights so we can watch Brothers and Sisters, but since it wasn’t on this past week and she was crazy busy, we had some wine and cookies on Monday night instead.

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What I love about Suz is that she’s as comfortable in my home as she is in her own. They had been out of town the week of Spring Break, so she brought over all her mail to sort through. It was great because the more she could get accomplished at my house, the longer she could stay.

And I hate it when she leaves.

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Apparently, so does Riley!!!

Ok, I can’t believe I’m posting this photo, but we laughed so stinking hard when this happened… and Susie wanted me to tell you all that she loves me so much she was willing to let this be on the blog. Because she knows nothing ever happens around here and I struggle to find photos for Gitz Bits.

I think the real truth of this photo isn’t how much Susie loves me, though. I think it’s how much Riley loves Susie. Just sayin.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


This was an exciting moment. Last week I showed you pictures of it snowing outside, and this week it was finally nice enough weather that Dawn washed the outside of the window when she came to clean.

Have I mentioned how much I love Spring?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010


This may be the reason I’m not losing any weight. When Dawn comes on Tuesdays she brings me little food discoveries that don’t contain whey. This time, she brought me a serving of Ore-Ida Zesty french fries.

Do you all know how long it’s been since I had a french fry? And do you have any idea how good these are? I’m currently having an intense debate with myself about whether or not to put these on my grocery list vs. how much I want to lose 50 pounds.

The debate, sadly, is ongoing. Y.U.M.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010


Do I have the sweetest online friends, or what? My friend Grace sent me a card in the mail. For no reason. She’s just that kind of nice. I may not have a big readership, but I sure do have the nicest readership out there. [That includes you, reading this, right now.]

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Thanks for once again 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:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Riley's Bad Hair Day...

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I’ve gotta find a new way to give Riley his meds, because folding them into cheese is no longer an option. This silly [so not the word I’d like to use] little whey allergy is going to require me to be a bit more careful since a smudge of leftover cheese instinctively licked off my thumb sent me into a full on allergy attack.

Won’t be making that mistake again. Because, as my mother likes to tell me, breathing is not overrated.

Anyway, the Benadryl is taking precedence over editing the photos from the past week, so you can just look at this cute one of Riley until tomorrow. Yes, I do Gitz Bits for something called Project Tuesday… but I’m going to post them on a Wednesday instead. Because I’m a rebel like that.

I’ll be back tomorrow… try not to miss me until then. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter W


Ok, before we start in on the [W] word for this week… let’s all acknowledge the fact that it won’t be WIN. :) But I’m so proud of my Panthers and love that we had such a winning season! Thanks for rooting with me, peeps… I loved all the messages on Twitter!!!

Now… onto today’s word:


There is nothing better than that moment, right before the spring of the year officially hits, when sunshine suddenly begins peeking through the clouds. It begins to rain more than it snows and, like magic, green grass appears from under the layers of frozen ice. The brown, wilted grass that was first covered in white flakes springs forth in a subtle green after so many months of being frozen, and then hydrated by the melting drifts.

It’s so hopeful.

And I was a bit surprised by myself that this year, it’s made me a little wistful.

I’m so used to being inside all of the time these past few years… it honestly doesn’t bother me that much anymore. I no longer catch myself thinking that I should open the windows and get some fresh air in the house. I don’t randomly wonder if I should go out to start the car [that’s no longer in the garage] to make sure the battery hasn’t died. I don’t even catch myself thinking I should walk down the hall to fetch the mail.

I’m totally used to life existing in these four walls.

But now that the sunshine is peeking out and I see people in the parking lot with just a sweatshirt or a spring jacket, I feel a bit wistful. I close my eyes and imagine myself stepping out onto my patio for just a moment to feel that sunshine… to see the glow of orange on the inside of my eyelids that only happens when my face is turned upward toward the sunlight. Suddenly the memory of it seems a little weak compared to what the reality would bring me.

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I kept thinking all winter that I couldn’t wait for the grey skies to fade away and reveal that brilliant blue… for the snow drifts to melt and my hasta to grow so I’d have a good reason to open the curtains. But I find myself keeping my bamboo shades drawn, allowing me to see outside, but with a barrier in between. Some part of me knows that if I open them wide and take in the view, I’m going to go from wistful to wanting.


Riley understands the feeling.

I thought I was past all of that, but then realized that last summer wasn’t so much about acceptance as it was inability. I was too sick to keep my eyes open. I was in too much pain to move, let alone walk into this room and open the shades. I kind of missed the existence of summer altogether, and by the time I could move the snow had already fallen. So, I find myself a bit wistful for walks with the pup and long afternoons of reading on my patio.

But before long, I am sure, I will be opening the shade and trying to keep Riley from disrupting the entire building as he barks at the birds and tries to leap through the window at the passersby. We will adjust as we always do and the sunshine will just be that thing beyond the window.

For now… we’ll keep our wistful barrier up and wait for the day I open the shade without thinking of stepping out onto the other side of the door. Riley, on the other hand, will always believe he will someday make it beyond the boundary of his window.

I do admire his spunk. :)

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a to z

People, we are almost done with the alphabet! How crazy is that?!?! Leave me an [X] suggestion for next week’s post in the comment section… and also let me know if you’d like to start the alphabet over again or if I should try to come up with a new way of you all suggesting topics.

I’m always open to ideas! :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

UNI Fight!

I hated to put up a post today because I wanted to keep the focus on Thrive Africa, so after you stop by here and pledge your undying support for my UNI Panthers beating Michigan State tonight, head over to yesterday’s post if you haven’t already.

But, for now, check out the Sports Illustrated cover!!!! I have every confidence that our players will laugh in the face of any Sports Illustrated cover curse, and Michigan State [like so many others] will get Farokhmanesh’ed by Ali.


Sing the fight song with me, people. You know you want to!

Hail our Panthers, we are ever loyal,
Showing our strength and unity.
As we rise, we firmly stand behind you,
Urge you on to victory.
Rah! Rah! Rah!
As you lead us on to fame and honor,
Fight! Fight! Fight! will be our cry.
So, give us a yell, Ho! the purple and the gold,
Victory for UNI!

UNI Fight! UNI Fight!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Mission: Thrive Africa

A few months ago, I was reading one of the posts on Pete Wilson’s blog, Without Wax, and he was asking us where our passion lies. People knew their answers without hesitation: human trafficking, feeding the poor, supporting mission work, church plants, youth groups.

People knew their heart’s passion and what they were willing to fight for.

I didn’t. I mean, I believe in all of those causes and have a heart for all of them. I have empathy and a desire to help. But as Pete pointed out, sometimes when we blindly go through life thinking all things are equally important to us, we can miss what God is really calling us to do.

Where is my passion? How do I want my voice to be used?

I’ve been trying to really pay attention, and one cause has stood out every single time.

I believe in Thrive Africa. And more than anything, I want to see this mission succeed.

The reasons are many, not the least of which is that I believe in Alece, the founder of this mission. She is my friend who will be coming here to visit next month, and I’m hoping to twist her arm to write something directly from her heart to all of you while she’s here. I know her. I know her heart. I know how much she loves the people of Africa and feels called to, as her mission’s name reflects, help Africa Thrive.

My faith in Alece is key, because I know that any money given to this mission is being spent for the good of the people she lives with and supports. But more than that, I respect the way they are going about helping the country. You can learn more through their mission statement:

Thrive Africa’s vision is to disciple Believers, equip leaders, and strengthen the Church in Southern Africa. We accomplish this through AIDS prevention, pastoral development, discipleship classes, youth camps, mission trips, and more.

The key word, to me, is that they equip the people in the country. They don’t want to change Africa, they want to empower Africans. Currently, Thrive employs [pay salaries to] 52 nationals… each one a young local leader who they’ve trained and eventually hired. They are equipping the people of Africa with respect and love and hope.

And their way of helping is working.

Currently, 1 in 4 South Africans are HIV positive. Thrive Africa teaches AIDS prevention and leadership development at 10 schools in the poorest area of South Africa. There is an 88% unemployment rate, and 75% of the people are chronically hungry. They have been hungry for food, but also for the tools that can make a difference in their lives.

Thrive Africa is feeding their needs. Before they began this program, one school averaged 40 pregnancies a year among 7th, 8th and 9th graders. In the four years Thrive’s program has been taught, there has not been one single pregnancy.

Not one.

They are currently teaching 4000 students. 4000 lives that are being changed for the better. Knowledge is key. Equipping leaders is key. Spreading the Word has made a difference in lives that have been hungry in so many ways.

Why am I starting to talk about this now? One, because I feel passionately about it. Two, because Thrive Africa is in dire need of help.  According to their newsletter:

They have scaled down costs as much as they are able, and have started an online store to help promote their mission and raise funds. You can check out their store from the graphic on my left sidebar… they have some great products and [from what I hear] amazing coffee. :)

If you want to learn more about Thrive’s programs, you can visit Impact South Africa and discover how you can help make a difference. They are changing lives. And those lives will help create a difference in their country.

I’m so proud to be a part of it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blog Peep Questions: Comment Section Style

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Last week on my friend Mandy Thompson’s blog, she asked us if we thought physical or emotional pain was worse. I, of course, had an opinion on that. Partially because it was about pain, and partially because I have an opinion about almost everything. :)

The comment section started to feel like a bit of a “Blog Peep Question” post, since every time I answered a question, another one was posed. And to be honest, that’s my favorite kind of conversation. I love being asked questions that make me think about things in ways I maybe haven’t before.

Since my (in)courage guest post last week, I’ve had so so so many emails asking me some of the same questions we covered over in Mandy’s comment section, so I’m totally stealing from those comments/questions today to tell you all some of the answers I gave. I thought they may answer some of your questions as well.

[After you’re done reading, you should totally check out Mandy’s blog and her music. She’s an amazing song writer and completed a challenge she gave herself to write 100 songs last year. I’m am, quite literally, president of her fan club. If you’re on Facebook, you can join here:]

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This is a summary of what I answered to the original question of which was worse, physical or emotional pain:

I have to say, despite being able to empathize with the physical, I probably feel more strongly drawn to empathize with those in emotional pain because emotions often leave us with less ability to choose our reactions than physical pain does.

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Then a question about if that answer is true even when the physical pain never fades away:

Even when physical pain doesn’t fade, I’d still choose it over the emotional pain. The big ones: betrayal, judgment, intense loss… they can immobilize the spirit, which is more limiting than physical immobility. That being said, both types of pain are inevitable. And both types of pain are ones that can make us grow stronger if we keep ourselves focused on the One who knows all, sees all and loves us through it all.

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In response to a comment about physical pain being worse when it’s chronic, because emotional pain always has a chance to heal:

I agree and disagree. I haven’t had a break from pain in years. Mine fluctuates between really awful and wanting to beat my head against the wall until I’m unconscious. In other words, I have chronic pain. :) It is torture and exhausting… but the emotions that come with it are what makes it harder.

It’s the dread of having to wake up the next day, if sleep is even possible. It’s the grief over a life that was dreamed of and lost. It’s the anger over stupid decisions to do things I know I am incapable of, and trying anyway. It’s the sadness of being isolated and alone. It’s the emotional pain that is derived from the physical that can be more paralyzing than the fact I can’t move from the couch.

I’m not diminishing the physical. It can literally make me feeling like I’m losing my grip on reality at times. But the physical causes the emotional… and that takes an exhausting toll. It’s when my mind is able to align with my heart so I can make the choice to smile that I start coping. It’s in faith that my emotions are in check… and only then can I deal with the physical hurdles in front of me.

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This was in response to a very good point, that my emotional pain wouldn’t be there without the physical pain:

You’re right… some of the emotional wouldn’t be here if the physical didn’t exist.

I think the point we’re maybe all missing in this discussion [me included, until right now] is that both types of pain bring growth. And that growth, in the end, is the thing we often wouldn’t trade.

When people tell me they couldn’t do what I do, my response is often, “You just haven’t had to prove it yet.” After writing that post for (in)courage yesterday, what I wish I could go back and add as an answer to many questions is that WE DON’T HAVE TO KNOW THE WHY. So many commenters are saying that they can’t see the good coming from the pain. My answer is that it’s not our job to know. It’s God’s. It’s just our job to trust, whether we see it or not, that He brings beauty from the ashes. Maybe it’s not supposed to be beauty in my life. Maybe it will bring beauty to someone I’ll never meet. My job is simply to trust Him. To go through the physical and emotional pain and embrace the peace of knowing that He is taking care of it.

It requires surrender, and that’s hard. But surrender isn’t giving up. I haven’t given up on healing. I haven’t given up on the idea that I might get worse. I’ve simply given up on the idea that I have any control over it… and the idea that I WANT any control.

It’s not about how bad the pain is. It’s about how good our God is.

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Then we started in on more direct questions for me:
Why don’t you want control anymore?

  1. Because I never had it in the first place. I had an illusion of it that made me feel like I had some sort of power. I couldn’t see it then, but I see it very clearly now.
  2. Because I don’t have His wisdom… I don’t have His all-seeing eye that knows how the world works as one great entity. Which means I don’t know what is best for the greater good. I’d love to be healed, but not if it means that some other life will be worse off because of it. Only He knows the answer to that.
  3. Because my life is more peaceful. Because I don’t have angst over MY choices anymore. I still have choices to make, but I place them in His hands. And I know that if I go with what I truly believe He wants from me, then I’ll get through. Even if it’s a stormy path… He’s got it under control. He’s in the center of the storm. I’m safe. Difficulties in life are nothing compared to the peace of knowing He has it all taken care of.
  4. Because I trust Him.
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How do you trust Him, if He could’ve stopped this from happening to you?

You know, that question makes me think of Job every time. Everyone talks about Job like God did something horrible to him. God didn’t do it… He just didn’t stop it. I don’t think God did this horrible thing to me… He just hasn’t stopped it. But He loves me, He comforts me, He brings me goodness in the midst of the trouble.

How many times has a parent let a child make their own mistakes? And still provided the love and comfort and goodness to walk the road with them? It’s what a loving parent does.

The thing is, we screwed up the whole perfect-world-garden-of-Eden thing because He gave us the gift of free will to choose for ourselves. He could have made us want nothing else but to serve Him, but that lacks love. Because love is a choice. He loves us, and all He wanted in return is for us to choose to love Him back by being faithful to Him.

Free will put my life in this position. And still, all He wants from me is to choose to love Him and be faithful to Him. Some see that as too much… to give up control in order to love Him. What they don’t realize is the freedom that comes from loving and trusting Him enough to give Him that control.

I trust Him, because long before the choice was before Him to take away this disease, he earned my trust by hanging on a cross. Enduring pain I can never imagine because He loves me beyond condition. It’s not about keeping score of what could be done for whom… it’s simply about love.

I guess another way of saying it is this: I trust you. You’ve done nothing specific to earn that trust… I simply do because I love you. It’s part of the deal. I’m quite sure I will make a decision you will disagree with someday. Perhaps you will make one I disagree with. But you will have your reasons, and so will I. And because I love you, I will continue to trust your heart.

I don’t know His reasons. But I love Him. And I trust His heart.

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There you go, peeps… some answers to some questions I’ve been getting emails about. [Thanks, Mandy, for letting me borrow my comment answers to put over here.] How about you all? Any opinions? Answers of your own?

How about any questions you’ve been dying to ask?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 11

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Friday, March 12, 2010

3.12.10I am so enamored by the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s one I keep in the DVD player for those moments when I need to get lost in something. I’ve seen it so many times it doesn’t really matter if I pay attention or not… I can glance up at any moment of the movie and be completely engrossed.

Because I love to pretend that someday, by some crazy miracle, I’m going to relax on the couch in my Tuscan villa while writing my great novel.

The second best thing, of course, is to read a novel on my couch here in the condo and pretend Tuscany is right outside my window. :) Awhile back I won a book giveaway on my friend Liz’s blog, but she knows me so well that rather than send me the Danielle Steel book I’d actually won, she sent me Bella Tuscany, written by the same author as Under the Tuscan Sun.

If you don’t see me for a few days on the blog, blame Liz. I’ll probably be lost in my Tuscan fantasy…

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

3.13.10Since I showed you my niece Avery’s beautiful dish she made me for Christmas in last week’s Gitz Bits, I thought today I’d show off my nephew Cooper’s ornament creation. Aren’t they so unique and lovely? Even though it’s meant for a Christmas tree, I bucked the trend and hung it in my Doodle Wall alcove. Just looking at it makes me smile.

Because a cool kid made it.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

3.14.10I was telling Jessica awhile back that I think I may have bit off more than I can chew with this whole Project 365 thing. I mean, it’s only March and I’m thinking I’ve about maxed out the creativity for photos in the condo. I had decided that I would still put up Gitz Bits every Tuesday… I just might not have a photo for every. single. day.

She was having none of it. Seriously. I totally thought she’d let me off the hook, but the girl’s a stickler. She literally told me to take a photo of my socks.

So, here’s a photo of my socks. Aren’t they cute? My friend Robin sends a few of us girls fuzzy socks every now and again, and when I’m having “one of those days” I put on my warm and cozy socks, think of my girls and all seems a little more right with the world.  divider blue

Monday, March 15, 2010

3.15.10Unbeknownst to me when I took the photo of my socks on Sunday, I opened a package from Robin in the mail on Monday to discover… SOCKS! How funny is that?

This time they were fun stripey socks that made me laugh. I immediately thought of Pippi Longstocking, which is the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I don’t remember much of the movie, but I do remember the popcorn and the fact that I was shocked that it was still daylight when we left the theater. I think I was so transfixed in that darkened room that I was sure it would be nighttime and just as dark outside when we left.

Crazy the little things that stick with you.

[In case you’re keeping track, Riley still needs a haircut. Really. Really. Bad.]

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

3.16.10Now, just so you all know, I don’t get surprise presents in the mail on a regular basis… but this week I got just a wee bit spoiled. :) My friend Shannon and her girls sent me a belated Valentine that arrived on Tuesday, and it included this fantastic new book. I love that both books arrived at a time when I’m finally back in a reading mood. Now I just have to decide which one I’m going to dive into first!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

3.17.10Do you see that? It’s called sunshine.

It had been so long since I’d seen it, I almost didn’t recognize it. I was afraid to startle it for fear it would retreat into hiding, but I went ahead and took a photo just to ensure I would remember what it looked like should it decide to leave again.

Sunshine, green grass, no snow… I thought I might be living a dream.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

3.18.10 And the next night my fears were proven correct.

Welcome to Iowa, people.

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Thanks for once again 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: