Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Pursuit of Trivia

We are a plethora of useless trivia at our house. I can't even describe the nonsensical stuff we know a lot about over here.  But, I'm gonna try to explain some of it. (this is barely scraping the surface, though)

Conversation the other night:

David:  Did you know FF #48 was the first appearance of Silver Surfer?

Me: Uh...yeah. But only because I'm the one that bought you that comic book.

David: Oh. Right. (total dejection on his face)

Me: (trying to remove the dejection)  But, you totally have other numbers on comic books I know nothing about. Most of them actually!

David:  (happy face and pulling out another handful of books from that cardboard thing he keeps the comics in for maximum protection)  Have you seen this one?

Me: ...blink...blink...  No.

David: You're not interested in this at all, are you?

Me: (dejection my be his only option with this line of conversation)  Well, I'd say it's right up there with your enthusiasm when I was reading Benazir Bhutto's autobiography. I mean Pakistan is interesting.

David:  (look of horror...then inspiration)  OMGosh!  That reminds me! I bought us a 90's trivial pursuit game!!!

Me: (look of equal happiness! Because it's about to be on like Donkey Kong around here!) I have no idea how Benazir reminded you of Trivial Pursuit but I'm in, babe.

And then we opened the box and y'all, 90's Trivial Pursuit is hard . And funny. At least it's funny when we play it.  Here's some of our cards for your viewing pleasure:

Because that last question, y'all.  There are so many answers that are completely inappropriate for that question. And the VWG category. Shaglantic Airways. The end. (Yeah, baby!)

The first question's answer is Friday the 13th. Who makes up those names?! I want that job, y'all.

That first question is too much. We didn't want to talk about Hasselhoff's boobs, so we skipped it. But then, we reached the TRD question.  The answer?  Teenie Beanies.  I'm kind of in love and I might want a Happy Meal with a Teenie Beanie in it now. (but not the burger because ewwwww...)

There were a LOT of beanie baby questions and I started to wonder if maybe I missed out on the whole Beanie Baby thing but then David reminded me that we both graduated high school in the 80's so I must have been too old for Beanie Baby mania by then, which kind of bummed me out so we went and got chocolate. It was a great night and my life was pretty complete that day.   

Friday, October 10, 2014

Temptation Triggers

Life is a pendulum. Our spiritual life is a pendulum, too. I have rough times when it feels like God is absent or maybe He's busy with other things and not that into me right now. If you know Christ, you know that's a lie. I KNOW that's a lie. 

Sometimes, I feel as barren as this picture and I can miss the beauty that is still there.

Lots of people blame "the enemy" for all their woes and ills and are often heard saying "They just don't feel close to God right now."  I can relate. I get that. But, God's also been calling me to pay attention. Look closely at what is going on my own life when I feel that way because God is ALWAYS close. He is ALWAYS available and His love, goodness, kindness and mercy don't alter or change or waver. 

If my relationship with Him is off, I'm the one that flipped the switch to that position. Period. As a matter of fact, the more attention I pay to these times in my life, the more God is teaching me about triggers that not only bring those feelings to the forefront but what I'm doing that exacerbates those feelings once they begin. (Note: Feelings are often lies. Everything you "feel" isn't truth and every truth doesn't have to produce a "feeling" to still be absolute truth.)

The last two months have been one of the times in my life that my faith didn't make me feel peaceful or draw me closer to the Lord.  I've been itchy and restless and, truthfully, a little scared about some decisions that my husband and I have made for our family. I didn't sleep well a few nights and I've been more flighty than usual. (that's bad, for y'all that don't know me personally) I prayed and heard nothing. I prayed about specific things, non-specific things and things that have nothing to do with why I feel yucky. Nothing.  Still itchy and restless. 

For me, that feeling is very much like those days when you're hungry for...something...so you eat a little of everything in the pantry. Your belly is totally full but you still want that particular something to eat and your pantry obviously does NOT have it and you have no idea what it is even if your pantry did happen to have it but you know it doesn't because you've sampled EVERYTHING available. Twice. And you STILL want...something.  Know what I mean? 

My spiritual hunger is the same way. Sometimes, I want some fullness in my spirit that I can't find. I'm empty and restless and edgy, but no matter what devotional I do or how much I pray or how much quiet time I have in the morning, I'm still a little (or a lot) empty. Often, I find myself trying to fill that space with other things. Most of the time, it's not bad things or even things that I "shouldn't" be doing as a follower of Christ.  But sometimes, they're things that give me immediate pleasure, but no long term joy or satisfaction.  I call these my temptation triggers. 

Some of my temptation triggers are just basic things that elongate that feeling of emptiness (why do we do that?!). What they REALLY do is make sure that I absolutely do NOT have to wait for the Lord or have my spirit be quiet and let Him come, in HIS time, to bring me quiet and peace and assurance. These triggers make sure I do NOT have to wait for Him to come (and He WILL come) and fill me up.  

Here's a few of my temptation triggers that I've noticed the last few months:

1.  Questionable music.  I LOVE to dance. (and y'all I can bust a move, too)  But, I can dance to LaCrae and TobyMac in these times just like I can listen to other tunes.  Now, I'm not saying ALL secular music is bad (some of it is, but NOT all of it.). I'm saying that when I'm feeling funky, that is NOT a good time to pull out some dance music and go at it. It often leads me to other music that makes my feet move but that also makes my head full of junk that doesn't need to be there. 

2.  Questionable reading material.  I love to read. If it's in writing, I'll read it. You ready? One time, I was out of books and it was too late to go to the library, so I read the dictionary.  I read it and read it and read it and I was happy.  But, when I'm in a spiritual funk, and my devotionals aren't cutting it, why not pick up a good Dean Koontz book?  Here again, don't get me wrong. When I'm in peaceful place, I don't think there's a thing wrong with Dean Koontz and I like his work, especially his later work.  BUT, when I'm in a place where I KNOW something is going on spiritually, it's a bad time to move from the Word, even if I'm being too stubborn to let it sink into my heart. I've learned that it's better to find some quiet time and do the writing MYSELF than pick up a book that causes me to drown out that still small voice (I'm not saying that's EVER good, but I tend to actively do this when I'm restless). It's easier to escape with a sensational brain dead book, but it's not easier to find my peace with that book in my hand and my spirit tends to be in turmoil longer if I do this.

3.  Pinterest   Yes, THAT Pinterest.  Here again, there's zero wrong with Pinterest. I love it. I love scrapbooking and a virtual scrapbook that I can just click on is fabulous, people. BUT! When I'm spiritually restless, something about Pinterest in particular prolongs that feeling and makes it last and last and last.  I know one reason for that, but not all of them.  That one reason is this:  I look at all those photoshopped homes and rooms and professionally shot clothing pins and I WANT THAT.  I want that RIGHT NOW.  And then...my little inside voice who is not all that nice to begin with says to me (say this in a voice like nails on a chalkboard if you want to know what my inside voice sounds like): "And your house will look like that sometime around the year 2486 A.D....if you're lucky. And you aren't lucky. Ever. You're the opposite of lucky."

 And when my spirit is in an upheaval, I believe that mean, inner voice that says those things.  And you guessed it:  It prolongs the spiritual dryness that I'm feeling. It makes me feel less than and like I may not be worthy of God's love and affection and that IS A LIE.  Christ made sure that's a lie. Christ covered all that unworthiness and made me worthy. Jesus is enough. Period. (take THAT you screechy, inside voice!!!)

4.  My house   This one is the hardest for me to admit because frankly, it just sounds pathetic. I have a great house. I like my house. It's older and it's not perfect, but it's a wonderful home and I'm blessed to call it mine. But, when I'm feeling spiritually bereft, I walk through my home and every bump, scrape and nick is a massive catastrophe and it's a wonder the place isn't falling down around us (in my head, not for real). This leads me to think about money: How little we have or how much we have or how much we can spend to fix this catastrophic sticks and bricks we live in because for real, that doorjamb with all the pieces of wood missing could be a direct reflection on my soul and IT. MUST. BE. FIXED. Today. Now.  And guess what happens?  I am diverted from having to wait and sit quietly in the loving presence of God because my attention is fully engaged in the very 1st world problem of having a nicked up doorjamb in my 4 bedroom home. (Told you it was pathetic, y'all)  

God is teaching me about my temptation triggers. I think He is very intentionally teaching me about the triggers that I tend to downplay as being unimportant, too. Here's the deal:  ANYTHING that causes you to ignore your spirit and your relationship with the Lord is important. It's not a little thing. It's the things that keep us from pushing through and finding our way through the valley and up the mountain to stand in his presence and feel peaceful and loved and I'm beginning to believe that the "little" things are the ones we excuse and ignore most often, even though those are the ones doing the most long term damage as we wait on the Lord. 

Even if your temptation triggers don't look a thing like mine, don't ignore them. They keep us from the peace and grace that God longs to give.  Without the love, grace and peace that are ours as children of God, we're often unable to pour into others and love them in a way that pleases God.  Without the peace and assurance of love that feeling close to God brings, we're unable to show kindness and love to others in the way that the world so desperately needs. We're unable to share Christ with others when we ignore these triggers because we're focused on covering up OUR dryness so we miss how many around us are lost in a world of hurt. That's not who I want to be.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:2

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What is a Friend?

Over the last year, God has brought friendship into my life. 

In my youth, friendship had no real impact on my life and no true depth. Friends were those people I hung out with, gossiped with and those that allowed me to be part of their pack. There was a kind of gratefulness in me that I wasn't alone in my shenanigans but no connection that touched the places I kept the most secret, the most hidden. There was no real reciprocation of love, of sharing, of knowing. In fact, I worked pretty hard to make sure that the truest parts of me were hidden from those that I called friend. (I mean, what if they didn't want to be my friend if they REALLY knew me!  I was messed up, OK?)

In my young adulthood and into my 30's (yep, I am THAT old) I had one friend that I connected with, but to be frank I was never welcomed fully into her life for one reason or another.

I went through an intense year of therapy a few years back and I learned that I often pick people to befriend or hang around with who take from me gratefully but rarely pour into me with equal gratefulness. That's how I made sure I never fully connected and made fulfilling friendships, which, incidentally, meant they were always just a little unfulfilling, even if both of us in the friendship were doing the best we could do at the time.

But, I desperately wanted friendship. So, my therapist challenged me to stop calling everyone, stop taking lunch over "to visit" with people, stop inviting everyone. Stop accepting that they're "busy" and their lives are so much fuller than mine that they couldn't make an hour to connect with me. Just stop. 

My therapist encouraged me to take a five week break from connecting with others and note those that called me, brought lunch over to visit with me, sought me out, asked about me, openly wondered where I'd gone. This was NOT an exercise in seeing who would chase me down. This was an exercise for me to see if what I felt aligned with reality. (How we feel isn't always the truth, in case you didn't know. That was a therapy lesson for me, too.)  That lesson was HARD, but eye-opening. It was a time of deep reflection on what I'd been willing to accept relationally. This was a learning lesson about ME. I learned fully that love is not a feeling. It is an action.

My sweet cousin, who I consider as much a sister as a friend, called within 3 days to find what the heck was wrong with me and let me know she missed me.  She wanted to get together that weekend.  That wasn't really a surprise as she already reciprocated my affection and friendship. What was surprising is that all the other people I called friend were absent for more than four of those five weeks and when I did hear back from them it was a text asking a question or needing advice. That was their choice and that's OK.  No one is required to include me (or you) in their lives. Consequently, I (you, too!) am not required to include them in mine. That was a moment of freedom and sadness, in equal measure. I still care for those people, but they are not the kind of friends that I need and what I need matters, too. (That's a deep lesson right there, in case you missed it.) 

I went through a period of time where Loneliness took up residence beside me and hugged me like an old pal. I prayed for God to send me friends who love me without apologizing for me and my quirks. I prayed for friends I could love, respect and admire. I prayed for friends who weren't afraid to tell me when I was being a jerk but loved me right through my jerkiness.  Friends who not only know my fears and my flaws and my heartaches, but friends who celebrate my joy and my successes and my abilities.  Friends who encourage me to grow and pursue whatever God has in front of me with all the drive and ambition I can muster. Friends who rejoice with me and cry with me for no other reason than because they love me. Friends who want to visit with me and expect me to visit with them in return.

This morning, one of those friends invited the group God has placed in my life for this season (please, Lord, I'm asking that this season be a long, long, long one) to breakfast at her house.  That sweet friend cooked for us, wrote sweet, individual notes for every person present and served us with joy and compassion. She decorated the table for us and used beautiful china that made me feel beautiful, too.  She is everything I admire in a person and epitomizes Christ with skin on, to me.  She inspires me and encourages me to be a better person without judging me when I'm not.  She loves people in a way I have only EVER seen in her and I am praying that God shows me how to love people in that way, using my own personal talents and skills. I love her.

Two of the other ladies who were present know me.  Really, really know me. I went to high school with one of them, so we have a long history that makes us comfortable in a way that's kind of more awesome than chocolate but we weren't true friends until the last 6 months or so.  I'm so grateful for her. She is honest and funny and quirky and lovely and she makes me feel happy and safe and like I can be exactly what I am with no apologies. She is a fabulous example of what someone with a forgiving heart looks like and a walking example of the restorative love that only Christ can bring. I love her. 

One of the other ladies who shared breakfast with us is someone I've known for a long time. In true hurting hearts form, we circled each other for a while before we decided we might like each other. (she kind of didn't like me at first and I don't remember if I liked her or not when we first met because I don't remember exactly first meeting her...that's how I roll, y'all. Captain Oblivious.)  But then, at some point, we talked. Then we laughed. Then, we stopped circling and started seeing. Then we loved each other. And then we trusted each other and that's the real stuff right there, folks. We are a lot alike, even though most people would miss that about us. She calls me on my crap and trusts me to call her out on hers, too. She is hard-working, funny, honest and real. I love her. 

All three of these women inspire me to be a better mother, a better wife and, most importantly, a better version of myself.  They don't want to change or fix or crowd.  They just love and I get to love them in return.

So for all that rambling, what is a friend?  It's hard to define, isn't it? I suspect it's different for each of us, but we all have a few parts that look the same. It's not just a companion. My dog is a companion. We NEED real relationships with real people. We NEED people. We NEED people who see us and know us and love us, anyway.  We need the opportunity to love the people in our lives with our whole hearts and trust that they love us back and they take the time to SHOW us that love without judgment or harm.  We need to be able to share with the people in our lives and know that they honor the sharing. A friend is someone who sees all of you and loves you like what they see is wonderful and fabulous and good. That's a friend and I have them. I am giddy with that knowledge, people.

 I pray that every single person reading this knows the truest Friend and that He sends you a few precious, beloved friends who love you in the way you need to be loved.

"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart."  1 Peter 1:22

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Search Results Y'all

Every once in a while, I'll check out how people found my blog since it's basically a rambling bunch of nonsensical stuff that I think is important.  It's amazeballs how people get here.  So, here's what people have looked for in the last few months that brought them to my little spot.

1. Life lesson from movie happy feets  (Hey, they spelled it that way, don't blame me. It's eating my grammar Nazi up, too.)

2. Rob Reich  (That's it. I don't know if they needed economics help from the Berkeley one or if they were stalking the Stanford one that spends a LOT of time talking about equalizing everything. To those of you that know there are TWO Rob Reich's of renown, well done. For those of you that didn't, name your next kid that, it seems to be working.)

3. Snackopoly (I've got nothing. It was just a game we picked up at the thrift store because it was a dollar.)

4. How to use a meth needle  (Seriously?  My brother died from his dope use so I'm probably not the place to learn that info, dude, but thanks for stopping by. I guess. You should probably Google how to stop my meth habit next, though.)

5. Verjiner  (I have no idea if they are looking for vinegar or a vagina and, so far as I know, that's the first time I've ever used either of those words in a blog post. Good luck, either way.)

6. What happens to homeschoolers?  (The same thing that happens to all of us, my friend. We're messed up, we grow up, try to figure it out and do the best we can.)

7.  And last....  I burnt the f'ing coconut.  (You're probably not alone, but why are you trying to cook coconuts? Can you eat those like that?!)

This wasn't in my search results, but a LOT of people from the Ukraine are reading my blog, so...Hey Y'all.  I know you're going through some crap over there and maybe this post will give you a laugh. I'm not super funny but I am seriously messed up most days so maybe we can have that in common even though mine is all self-induced and yours really isn't.  ...and now I feel all awkward, but that's the best I've got...  Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Coconut Whipped Cream

This is GOOD y'all!

First, get a can of this stuff and stick it in the fridge for 24 hrs.  I always use this brand because it's Non-GMO and it tastes fab. You can NOT skip the fridge part, by the way. It causes the coconut fat in the milk to solidify and you need that.

Then, the next day take it out of the fridge, flip it upside down and open it.  You'll see the remaining milk at the bottom and just dump it in a bowl to save for something else. (Like smoothies!!)  See how the milk is all there?  The fat is at the top for our yummy whipped cream.

 After you dump out the milk, the fat will be waiting for you.  It looks like this:

I put it in that small bowl so you could see it. You'll want to actually put it in a bigger bowl so you can whip it.  (that's kind of kinky, but it's not that kind of whipping, OK? Unless that's your thing.)  Next, add at least one teaspoon of vanilla (REAL vanilla extract. Not faux-nilla), 1 cup of powered sugar and the tiniest pinch of sea salt and cinnamon. I use a tablespoon of cinnamon, but you use whatever floats your boat)  It looks like this now:

Then whip it all together!

I stick mine back in the fridge for a few hours.  Finally, add it to everything in the place of whipped topping made from who knows what.  This stuff is good for you, people!!  Awesome.

Om Nom Nom

How easy was that?! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Elvis and Batman (you know you see the link there!)

Hey y'all,

I thought I'd share how conversations at our house happen:

David:  So, I'd be Batman if I wasn't me.

Me:  You saw that on a shirt.

David: I did, but I'd still be Batman.

Me: I'd be Elvis.

David:  What?!  He's a dude. And he's not Batman.

Me:  Yeah. The whole dude thing throws me off a little, but I'd still totally be Elvis.  And I like him better than Batman. Who wears capes?

David:  Elvis.  Elvis wore capes.

Me:  Oh my god.  Elvis could totally have been Batman.

David: ...gives me that look...  You're going to make my brain hurt, aren't you?

Me:  Think about it!

David:  See, brain hurting.

Me:  I mean, when have you EVER seen Elvis and Batman together?

David:  I've never actually seen either of them in person and since Elvis is dead and all...

Me:  Please. Those Elvis sightings make total sense now.  Even Batman needs a break.

David:  Elvis isn't Batman.

Me:  I win. I get to be Elvis AND Batman. I'm ditching the cape, though.

David:  Goodnight. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Last Weekend of Summer...A Pictorial

I ran in Sam's Club the other day to pick up some headphones my little girl wants for her birthday and as I'm perusing the aisles jam packed with things I absolutely do not need, there, on the last two rows, were Christmas decorations. Just no.  It's September and I refuse to skip Fall so retail stores can commercialize the snot out of Christmas. So, I'm celebrating that summer is still here and ushering in a fabulous Autumn season with a tribute to my equally fabulous summer. God willing, I'll see you next year Summer. I'll miss you...

The backyard swing and picnic table that we use for eating watermelon.

How my husband says I love you...he builds fairy doors on trees for me.

This fella came to visit me while I was playing in the garden one blistering hot August afternoon. And yes, sometimes I lug my camera in the garden with me. Don't judge.

I don't even know what's happening with my hair, but this is Oldest girl and me at my niece's college graduation this past June.

A fabulous strawberry drink we enjoyed in Cozumel this summer. I say "we" because it took three of us to drink it and we still left some in the bottom.  We sort of suck at being alcoholics.

Playa Palancar in Mexico...I miss you. 

My girls snorkeling in Cozumel. This picture does not do the water color justice. It's off the charts gorgeous and clear and fabulous. I kind of wondered what the heck happened to the beaches where I live. They're mostly gray sludge where your toes disappear the minute your feet hits the tip of the surf. 

Three of my girlfriends swinging on a porch when we were invited over for a summer BBQ.  Great times...

I hope your summer was spectacular!  PS...don't skip Fall! Everything pumpkin is coming...  :)