Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pretty Wrong

This morning my sweet daughter proudly announced, "Look, Mommy, I did a beautiful a. Aren't my letters beautiful?" I looked, and sure enough, her handwriting was excellent. Except for one problem: she was supposed to write the word branch. She wrote brach instead. Her answer was pretty, but it was wrong.

I praised her for her handwriting, then asked what she'd written. She realized her mistake and erased part of the word to correct it.

My little girl's mistake was innocent, and she readily accepted the correction. But how often do we get so caught up in the appearances of things that we miss the essential ingredients that add true value to our work? How often are we pretty wrong? And how willing are we to accept correction when we miss it completely?

We can make everything look perfect, but if it's wrong, it's still wrong. That's our life without Jesus. He's the missing letter. Are we putting Him in His proper place in each aspect of our lives? In writing and work? Parenting? Socializing? Life?

It's hard to get away from performance, but Jesus calls us to do just that, to take our eyes off our pride and seek Him for our approval, not man.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grace Walks By

There's a powerful song by the artist eLi, called Grace Walks By. It's about that universal choice we are each faced with, many on a daily basis: forgiveness. The Lord brings me back to that song during different seasons of my life, and each time it's appropriate. I wanted to provide a link to the song itself, but it has, sadly, escaped notice and never been placed on youtube. If you're inclined, the song is worth purchasing. The entire album is profound, and the music is simple and gentle.

Here are the lyrics. They so eloquently capture the sentiment I'd like to express, that it would be silly for me to write them any other way. Perhaps they will bless you as they have me.

Grace Walks By
from the album "Second Hand Clothing"
by eLi

She was so beautiful
Lightning in her hair
She was in his sight
But the flashing lights
Of resentment filled his eyes
Left him scared and blind

Life is cold now
He wishes he could see

Forgiveness walks right by him
But he can't see her face
It's bitterness that blinds him
Oh, she walks up to him
He would look her in the eyes
If he still believed in grace
Still believed in grace

He used to dance with her
This old man in a chair
Now he don't walk no more
They used to dance like the wind
Until a storm blew him down
Left him broken on the floor

Life is slow now
He wishes he could reach

Forgiveness dances by him
But he can't join her
Cuz bitterness leads instead
Oh, she reaches for him
And he would take her hand
If she could raise the dead
Oh, she could raise the dead

Looking back now
At what others have missed
I am pleading
For redemption's kiss

Forgiveness walks up to me
And i will join her
Cuz bitterness leads to death
Oh, she reaches for me
And i will take her hand
Together we will dance
Oh, together we will dance

Friday, January 21, 2011

Their Goodbyes

“I’m getting tired of this,” she said with a sigh.

“Of what? Of dying?” he asked.


"You ready to go?"


He nodded, the recognition reflecting in his own weary eyes. “I’m okay with that. Just remember where you’re going. And I’ll meet you on the other side. Real soon.”

My Grandma Nina, my stepmom's mother, passed away yesterday after a battle with lung cancer. Folks often refer to a person as "losing" their battle with cancer when they die. But Grandma Nina didn't lose anything. You see, she knew the Person who created her body, and she trusted Him to the very last breath.

That's why she and Grandpa Preston were able to have that conversation just a couple weeks ago. Because they both know Him and trust Him. They know He is good, and they know that He keeps His promises.

Nina was a beautiful woman inside and out. The peace that radiated from her throughout her walk through the Valley of the Shadow proved what most don't realize, that even death is not our battle. It's His. And the good news: He's already won.

My dad put it best when he said that while watching Grandma Nina, "you really get what the Bible means when it says Jesus takes the sting out of death."

Grandma Nina, Thank you for blessing your family, even us extended members, with unconditional love, kindness, joy and acceptance. Thank you for showing your family how to live—and die—by faith. We were blessed to have you. We're going to miss you deeply. But our hearts rejoice that you are now in our Creator's presence, and He's offered us the same hope and promise you so beautifully enjoyed in Him.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Just Like This

I made a chicken pot pie. From scratch. Even the pie crust was made by yours truly.

Okay, so it's not the prettiest pot pie in the world, but hey, it was from scratch. And it was delicious.

But don't take my word for it. The dear husband and I were discussing this dish's caloric content over dinner last night (don't don't want to know), and I suggested using milk instead of heavy cream, or better yet, leaving out the cream entirely. I personally like broth-based fillings better than cream-based anyway.

About this time, the official Pickiest Eater on Earth, aka my daughter, piped up and said, "No, Mommy. The next time you make it, you have to make it just like this."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Manicure (also known as The Alternate Third Level of Hell)

A few weeks ago my awesome husband came home after visiting the parts store and announced that he wanted to take our son to the monster truck rally. I decided this would be a great opportunity for a mother-daughter date as well, so I scheduled for my six-year-old daughter and I to visit the local kids' spa for manicures/pedicures.

Fast forward to yesterday and our big mommy/daughter date. We started off with dinner at Moe's, because, well, we were both in the mood for chain southwestern cuisine.

Then we went to a local salon and spa for kids that some friends had recommended (local friends, contact me if you want the name), which uses organic products. A party of probably eight prepubescent girls was already there for a birthday party, getting the works: manicures, pedicures, facials and up-dos as the birthday girl's mother (very nice lady, I later found out) looked on. We were a little early, so we browsed through the very small retail section of the spa while we waited for our turn. A woman called us back and started us off by getting us to choose nail colors then soaking our hands in cool, soapy water. This was okay. My daughter and I chatted for a few minutes about the nail colors we'd selected as our hands soaked. Then the woman patted our hands dry and applied lotion. She walked away because one of the birthday party attendants was removing her mudmask prematurely. In the interim, my daughter said, "Mommy, my hands itch. Really bad. They won't stop."

I looked at my daughter's hands. Both were red and splotchy. Allergic reaction. To the lotion, I figured. I alerted the staff, who immediately said this was the first time anything like that had happened. The mother of the birthday girl was nearby, and she said it also looked like an allergic reaction to her. The staff led me to a sink, where I washed the lotion off her hands. Then I fished some Aveeno (has oatmeal, excellent for allergic and sensitive skin) out of my purse and slathered her hands well. This soothed them, and she seemed to be fine--a fluke, really, especially since she's never had an allergic reaction before--so we held out our hands, and the employee painted our nails for us.

A moment or two into our nail polish application, the birthday party mom got the attendant's attention. All four of the girls who'd just received mud masks were breaking out in large hives all over their faces.


The birthday mom and I looked at each other, and though we'd never met, we were of the same mind, both wondering if we should bail on this place for health and safety's sake, or press through so as not to disappoint our respective child(ren). The attendants discussed the situation before us. They couldn't figure out what had happened. They'd used an organic facial product. Every ingredient was 100% organic, according to the product information. As the attendant led the hive-inflicted girls to the back of the store to wash their faces, I eyed my daughter, whose hands were starting to turn back to their normal color under the calming balm of the Aveeno. She was enjoying herself despite the skin reaction, so I decided to proceed with caution.

Another attendant finished up our manicures, then passed us back to the first attendant for our pedis. No lotion this time, I said. The attendant agreed. She brought out cool soapy water to soak our feet, and my daughter and I snapped a few pictures of ourselves with my camera phone. Had to capture our girl's night out, right?

The attendant returned after getting all of the party girls settled down with cupcakes and dried our feet, then stepped away with our soaking bowls, and my daughter said, "Mommy, my ankles hurt. Ohh, they really hurt!"

I looked down, and her ankles were swelling!

The birthday mom, who was standing nearby, looked at me and shook her head. The attendants scrambled. One went to a Mexican market a few doors down and bought a sample packet of Benadryl while another carried her to the sink so I could wash her feet. "I didn't use lotion," the attendant said. "It must have been the soap." So we get her feet and ankles washed, and I slather Aveeno on her poor little feet and large, egg-like ankles.

The other attendant returned with a sample packet of Benadryl. My daughter, who has never swallowed a pill before, couldn't get it down. She spit it out after trying unsuccessfully to swallow it. I normally have liquid Benadryl on-hand because of my son's food allergy, but if you'll remember, he was at a monster truck rally with his daddy. So...

I watched her. She was breathing fine. Nothing else was swelling. She didn't want to leave without getting her toenails painted. So I pulled out my camera phone and snapped a few pics of her poor ankles. And we stayed. The swelling was almost completely gone within twenty minutes, and she selected a head band and a stretchy, sparkly bracelet from the little retail kiosks at the front of the salon.

But all the while I wondered if the other mom and I had made the right decision in staying. Either way, I doubt I'll ever return to that salon. I'm not quite sure I feel comfortable paying $60 for two allergic reactions again.

When we left the salon, we went to Walmart, where we bought some more Benadryl and some nail polish. We both decided a home manicure and pedicure would be just as much fun, without all the drama. Plus, I'd get to hold her hand as I painted her nails myself. I can't get much better than that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Soul Excavation and Book Therapy

I'm beginning a Bible study/soul excavation/book therapy/study group of sorts with three other awesome women, using the fantastic book Strong Women Soft Hearts (SWSH) by Paula Rinehart. We're reading a chapter a week and going through the study questions in the back of the book. I've read sections of this book over and over again, and now I'm excited to read it all the way through with an accountability group of sorts.

I already can tell SWSH is going to be amazing because of five things that have impressed me so far. Granted, none of these factors taken alone would necessarily make a book outstanding, but put them all together, and you've got a least, for me:

1) Relevant. Seriously. I've gotten something deep out of every section I've read in the book so far. The author is engaging, and the topics are surprisingly relevant.

2) Honest. SWSH takes you right to the heart of the matter, elegantly cutting through all the bull.

3) Challenging. Rinehart gently challenges you to get honest too, to take a good look at the things and places that hurt, which brings me to my third point...

4) Biblically based. This author isn't just another self-appointed self-help guru. She grounds the points in scripture and brings you to a place of opportunity without a great deal of pressure. Will you let God excavate those hurt places with you as you self-examine, so that you can finally experience healing and freedom through Him?

5) Emotionally mature. SWSH doesn't shy away from emotion, yet it avoids emotional manipulation.

Enough said.

If you've read this book, I'd love your comments. Feel free to share.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Drivers

What is it about white flakes falling from the sky that makes normally sane individuals drive like morons? Coasting through red lights, cutting people off, ignoring stop signs. It's like snow short-circuits their synapses. Or perhaps they think wintry precipitation negates all state traffic laws. And this is before there's any accumulation. At the first sign of snow crystals drifting from on high, all common sense vanishes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Delightful quote I saw on someone's facebook profile:
G.K. Chesterton once quipped that before you remove any fence always first ask why it was put there in the first place. You see, every boundary set by God points to something worth protecting, and if you are to protect the wonder of existence, God's instruction book is the place to turn. Anyone who thinks that he or she can place the boundaries arbitrarily will either destroy the enchantment of life or wear himself into exhaustion. God's commands are there to protect what life is truly about, not the other way around. Implementing that truth in our lives keeps us from losing the wonder. ~Ravi Zacharias