Wednesday, December 24, 2008

That baby born 2K years ago?

On Google Reader I'm reading a ton of blogs with beautiful, devotional reflections on Christmas.

Additionally, some of my writer friends sent me Tweets and emails wishing me Merry Christmas and sharing Jesus-y thoughts.

Jesus.

Not dirty toilets, spontaneous-combustion stoves, poopy diapers, toddler wrangling (and wrestling), knitted snakes stretched across hallways or all the other compulsory tasks that remain undone.

Jesus.

I'm forcing myself away from aforementioned thingies to reflect on the evidences of Jesus today. In my life. In December.

Most of you know my family dwells in a pit of trials and strife of all kinds. Accidents, injuries, job-losses and chronic pain conditions have depleted us to the brink of nothing. More so now than ever. Our needs increase as the ability to access them decreases.

On our own steam.

A kindly stranger overheard a conversation I was having with a friend about the hardships and weariness that plague my life. Filled with Jesus in her heart, she got my information from my friend after I left and sent me a HUGE check. It arrived in time to lessen my medical debt as I face two more MRIs this coming Sunday. God knew I was going to be hit hard again with headaches and more tests. He provided. I can get my MRIs.

John took his car in for an $18.95 oil change. $1000 dollars later...

God provided by allowing John's boss to double his Christmas bonus this year. He was able to pay for his car and some other unexpected expenses and due payments.

Christmas shopping for us didn't happen. It couldn't. Jesus moved some dear friends to play Santa Clause to my family by showering us with gifts not only for Kyle but for John and I! Something to look forward to tomorrow morning!

Earlier this month, Denver Water sent notice they were going to shut off water to our house due to ONE MONTH's unpaid bill. We're in that place where we have to let some bills go unpaid in order to eat.

In the same batch of mail was an envelope from my parents. In it was a check for the EXACT amount of money owed to Denver Water. I called my parents in tears. How did they know?

Mom said that God impressed it on Dad's heart to send us some money for food and bills. So they did.

This past weekend, Psalm 42 went to the Adams County Detention Center prison. We gave three concerts to two groups of men and one group of women. With each concert, we pulled out a few songs and added personal testimonies. Several men from each group received Christ and the women found hope and encouragement.

Get this. The group elected me to share with the female prisoners. My nerves buzzed with electricity as I agonized over what to share. I've never been to prison... er, a brick and mortar prison...

One young girl sat curled in a ball on the front corner chair. The sadness in her amber eyes was unmistakable. She was at the end. Life offered her nothing but bars and stripes. Why go on.

So I talked about something none of them were able to relate to: depression. After my ironic intro, the floodgates opened. ALL of the women wept. I touched them where they hurt the most. In that moment, God told me to share with them my depression experience that hurt the most. It was as if He asked me to expose my dirty underwear and shake it all around for the world to see. I was trying to forget my darkest moment. Bury it. I'm practically an outsider among certain circles at my church. I've been deemed a threat. Rejected by some of my once best friends. Why bring it out?

When God says "Do." You do.

I felt like a ventriloquist's dummy. The Holy Spirit snaked his hand up my back and moved my mouth. His words fell from my mouth. I didn't spare any details of my darkest moment of wanting to die and trying to do so.

Why am I here today?

Well, there was this little baby boy born 2000 + years ago in Bethlehem. Born to die. Born to save.

In a way I've never experienced before, I shared the gospel. The hope of this Jesus we celebrate. Jesus nudged my husband to come downstairs as I tried to cram pills in my mouth. Jesus surrounded me with new friends from ACFW and WFTJ. Friends who didn't look at me like I was a rotting grape, rather friends who gazed on me with compassion and understanding. Friends who have been there.

These women related with my story. The hope on their faces was the best Christmas present ever. Having God use me, weird little me, to send out a nuclear shock wave in a prison, reinforced His reality.

The chaplain asked if I'd come talk to different pods of women about depression and suicide. It's an epidemic in that place amoung the women.

Is Jesus real?

Yeah.

I wouldn't be here blogging and smelling a poopy diaper if he weren't.

Merry Christmas. Dwell on his presence in your life NOW.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tis the season for a good scam

Oxygenated air-breathers beware. A scam will find you whether you want it to or not.

People are desperate. You need to be super-aware of strangers in parking lots, the street, in the mall lines snaking for miles...

Last night my husband and a co-worker got in their cars to leave. The back of John's work place is in an alley way. Both cars back out and a man approached John as he let his co-worker pull ahead. The guy wanted him to roll down the window.

John did. The guy started yelling, accusing John of running over his foot. He wanted John's personal information, SSN, insurance policy #'s etc. Skeptical, John and his co-worker (who saw the whole thing) told the man to prove his injury and take off his shoe and sock. Nothing. Not a scratch, not a bruise, not a sign of swelling. Co-worker said the man was no where near John's car.

Man was threatening and demanding the info. John said, "Okay, then why don't I call the police and we file a police report?" While he punched in the number for the Denver Police Department, the man took off running.

The police knew who the man was. He apparently was making the rounds of Denver, accusing people of hitting him with their cars in parking lots. Insurance fraud. Make false claims and sue in civil court.

Goes to show how desperate people are in these hard times. Make sure you are keenly aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't walk alone in dark parking lots if you can help it. Park in lighted areas. Have your keyes in your fingers. Don't trust people you don't know.

Don't fall for internet scams either. They work by selling your personal information to advertising companies from weight-loss electrodes to porn dating sites. You'll get spam like you never imagined! Trust me. I signed up for "paid survyes". What a freakin' joke.

Don't.

If the work-from-home business promises lots of cash for little effort yet fails to publish a clear business plan - flee. If you don't know what the "business" is, don't fall for it.

Have a Merry Christmas! Stay safe out there.

I'll have to post on the Psalm 42 concerts at the prison. God moved in huge ways.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So many choices...

I needed fabric softener and toothpaste. In and out. Right?

Nasally frustrated by never-ending poop, dog, cat and little boy stench, I'm easily lured by the dozens of "specialty" scents offered by every brand of softener. Is it really true that Snuggle released bursts of fresh scent every time you move? How nice that would be.

Fabric softeners occupy one side of an aisle in Wal-Mart. Slowing my Booger-laden cart to a stop in front of this wall of olfactory cheer, I pulled some "joyous jubilee" scented softer off the shelf. Does joy have a smell? Never knew jubilee could be captured in chemicals...

Ew.

Downy with Febreeze - the anti-stink spray. Will that obliterate the musty funk trapped in my towels? Booger and I sniffed them all. There was no way I'd subject John to smelling like a little old lady who bathes in Coco Channel. I can hear his office buddies now...

Eenie, meenie, minee, mo! Scent pearls. Ooooookaaaaay.

Snuggle's scent pears were on sale. Downy with Febreeze wasn't. I tossed the blue bottle into my empty cart.

Toothpaste.

Whitening Plus. Double Whitener. Super-Ultra Dazzle, Sensitive White. Great. More choices.

Which one truly works? I've been using whitening paste for a long time and my crooked teeth are still not movie-star horse-teeth white. Sigh.

Since when did whitening become more important than protection against cavities?

Twenty minutes and a cranky toddler later, I shuffled my way to the self check-out. Doubt over my purchases creep in. What if the fabric softener doesn't sooth my schnoze with "cool breeze" essences? What if the toothpaste tastes more like acid wash than fresh mint? Should I go back?

My conversation with myself garnered some puzzled looks from fellow shoppers whose carts were full of DVDs, candy and Santa-Clause pjs.

An hour wasted. It was supposed to only take five minutes. In and out. Why can't They go back to one or two choices? I bet fabric softener companies are part of a conspiracy to drive indecisive shoppers mad so we spend more moola.

Not buying gifts at all this year is actually a relief! Nothing to choose from equal zero indecisiveness. Whew!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Get Knitty with it!


Who would've thought? Me - the most un-domesticated woman on the planet, would love to knit?

Several years ago I taught myself to knit so I could make my friend Stinky, a scarf. My motivation for a handmade gift was to show her how much I cared. A lot of thought and time go into knitted pieces.

Despite it's tumerous shape and dropped stitches, Stinky loved it. I think she still wears it four years later!

I've come a long way since then.

My Latvian mittens, a very colorful complex fair-isle pattern are a far cry from that awkward 6ft length of knit rows.

Last week, at the Words For the Journey Christmas party, we exchanged gifts with our secret prayer partners. Many folks recieved journals, ornaments and yummy food stuffs. My prayer partner knitted me a prayer shawl.

I've noticed her working on it for weeks. Knitting was new for her. Something she wanted to get into so her mind can rest from writing and momming. While she knitted, she prayed for me. This precious swath of yarn is a reminder that I am "covered" in prayer.

She explained to the whole group what the knitting was about. My eyes leaked. The shawl is also a reminder that even though we have a few lumps and dropped stitches, God still loves us and can use our messy selves and writing for His Glory.

The prayer shawl is draped on the back of my office chair so it can fulfill its yarny calling.

Almost everything I've knitted has gone to people whom I love.

Now, I'm more addicted to this hobby than ever. I love taking a ball of yarn and forming it into something useful and pretty. It also gives me time to mull over plots and characters and literature in general.

I enjoy it so much that I'm thinking of getting an Etsy account and selling some simple things to help pay for my writing work. (Conferences, reference materials, association memberships, trade mag subscriptions...)

Yeah, knitting a sweater takes a while, but it's exciting to see it forming. I'm in the middle of knitting my first adult sweater - a hoodie pull-over for myself (the guinea pig of my projects), along with really cool handwarmers (see picture) to keep my hands warm while I type.

Knitting Daily pops into my in-box every day. I'm finding it to be one of the most valuable resources for knitters ready to move beyond scarves, hats and pot holders.

The past few posts feature a variety of knitted sweaters by Interweave, modeled on members of the writing staff. All in an effort to let knitters see how a sweater may look on their body type and the modifications are given!

Finding tops that fit me is like trying to freeze water in a blazing furnace. BOUS. Boobs of unusual size.

Knitting Daily shows me I can make sweaters and tops that fit. I'm toying with designing some of my own. For some reason, I have way more fun making things than buying them off the rack.

Pardon my yarning over knitting. I'm enjoying it so much!

If you want to start out, got to www.knittinghelp.com - there are videos showing how different stiches and basic skills work. I use it all the time!

Knitting Daily is a blog about knitting and creativity. Oddly the inspiration I find perusing patterns and yarns fires my imagination in regards to my writing. Hmmmm. Creative process...

That will make for a fun post topic!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Signs of Christmas


Ambiance goes a lot farther than gifts. I love the way my house glows during the Christmas season!

I'd take a picture of the outside of my house, but I need a tripod for that. The "glowing" pictures are shot w/o flash. Any jiggling will make the shot fuzzier than The Blob's (cat under the tree) behind!

And yeah, we have two decorated trees. One in the family room, one in my office room.
The white light tree isn't leaning, I am. I tried to prop my camera on its side on a table while taking the shot. Cameras need a leveling feature :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ever wonder what REALLY happens at a writer's group?

www.wftj.blogspot.com

Check out this video!

War on shame

As I'm getting ready to head out to the first of many Christmas parties, I'm struck with an overwhelming buzz of anxiety.

The party is at a restaurant. I'm loading myself and Kyle up with food because we can't afford to eat out. I'm trying to explain to Kyle why we won't be eating. I don't think he gets it. And I'm feeling a bit of shame over the fact we can't afford it.

Should I have declined to go?

Faced with other gift exchanges, my anxiety level is spiking even more. It was hard enough for us to squeeze out one. I think I'm gonna have to politely decline the others.

Again, how embarassing.

But why am I feeling shame at not being able to afford Christmas stuff?

I have a house - today. My husband has a job - today. Booger is healthy - today. I have clothes to wear - today. I have lots of friends - today.

I have more than people in Russia and Latvia. I'm filthy stinkin' rich compared to most people in third world countries.

I have Jesus.

Oh? What's that?

Jesus.

Shame isn't from God. It's from Satan himself. I'm falling prey to it, allowing myself to be distracted from the reason we celebrate this holiday in the first place.

So - it's okay not to buy gifts or go out to eat and attend fancy parties. Really. I say so. Someone has to say so.

I'm going to focus on being content with what I have. Focus on the birth of Christ since I don't have to rush around buying gifts.

Hard... yeah.

Impossible?

No.

Anyone else with me?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some evidence of productivity?

Any of you who write know how dinosaurial the publishing industry is. We write, write, write for years then wait some more for a final product.

Last night I over heard my husband's mom asking if there was any news about my book. Exasperated, John told her, "No. Mom, this book stuff can take anywhere from a few months to a few years! I'll just let you know when something happens."

Ugh.

Convincing people you really are a writer is difficult when you have nothing to show. Amazon doesn't know who you are. People start to wonder if you're making things up. Like, is my claiming to write just a cover for my addiction to Discovery Channel and National Geographic?

So, I'm posting a few photos of projects I recently completed. Projects that were daunting at the beginning. Projects I'm gloating over because of the tangible evidence.


Three hours of brushing and de-matting yields more hair than Caleb is big! How the heck does he do that?

My Latvian mittens finished in early October in time for those chilly nights at band competitions. They are 100% wool and VERY warm. My mom has a pair and loves them. Found the pattern on the internet and used double-pointed needles. Fair Isle isn't that hard. If I can do it...

Since then I completed a ribbed scarf and cable-rimmed hat set and started working on a sweater for myself using some nasty old yarn I bought several years ago before I knew what I was doing. Can I say I hate acrylic yarn? Natural fibers are way easier to work with!

Oh, and I read ten YA books in the past month as part of my "unlocking the secrets of the teenage reader psyche" project.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is it too much to ask for some of the white stuff?

When I watch the weather channel and see snow is falling where snow shouldn't be falling, I get mad. Like, Atlanta? The Carolinas?

Granted, yesterday was chilly here in Denver, but THERE WAS NO SNOW.

Lake effect, lake effect, lake effect - would someone blow a big hole to the west of Colorado, create a great lake then usher cold air over it?

But that'd take out Utah. There are nice people in Utah. Moab is in Utah which has Arches National Park.

Nah. That wouldn't work. Whatever snow comes this way gets sucked up by the mountains leaving Denver sunny and dry.

The snow-making lake would have to take out half the Rockies, and I like the mountains. They are fun to hike and camp in.


Colorado touts itself as ski country. It was 78 two days ago. I think we need to clarity by adding the word, water. Water skiing is what you have when the temps go up in the mountains at the ski resorts.

Rats.

If I want to see snow, I need to buy myself a snow globe and shake it in front of my face all day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Have you checked out TitleTrakk.com yet?

My Pennsylvania buddies at TitleTrakk.com are promoting their website with some prizes. If you love books, music and movies, TitleTrakk is the best site to read reviews, interviews and first chapters of books from your favorite authors.

I've been writing reviews for TT since it was born, and the Darlington sisters are family to me. This is a super-high quality site, built out of passion for Christian art rather than profit.

Read on and send your friends to my blog. TitleTrakk is a great joy in my litterbox!


Welcome to the 1st ever
TitleTrakk.com Blog Tour!


This week we're chatting about:



The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!


Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!

Sponsored by our friends at:


The Grand Prize Winner will receive:

BOOKS:

Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz

CDS:

Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One

MOVIES:

Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!


During this blog tour (November 10th - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to win an additional free book or cd!

Visit the TitleTrakk.com Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

About TitleTrakk.com:
Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, TitleTrakk.com is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more: http://www.titletrakk.com/about.htm

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Elmo underwear...


I can lead colorguard units to state championships, teach kids how to do some pretty crazy things with flags, rifles and sabers but do you think I can teach a toddler how to use the potty?

Oy.

If I had a bathtub that my body could fit in and could afford Calgon, I'd be screaming, "Calgon, take me away!"

One thing about motherhood that I've never come to appreciate or tolerate is poop. The more I have to look at it and smell it, the more I despise it.

Different pull-up diaper brands boast guaranteed success towards potty training if you use them. Cool Alert is supposed to tingle the tinkler so the toddler can trot to the pot. Not my kid. Doesn't seem to feel it or care.

We've watched videos on how "big boy" it is to do you business in the toilet. Videos that hold real underwear in high regard.

When I opened Booger's door this morning, the smell hit me like a tsunami. Gagging, I chased him around his room, over trains, through a tee pee and into a pile of stuffed animals. My fingers latched in his arm pitts and I hoised him on the changing table (which is duct-taped together b/c he's pulled it apart and destroyed it).

"No! No diapers! I don't want diapers!"

"I'm gonna put on your almost-underwear to help you get ready for real underwear."

"Real underwear, I want real underwear." Kyle wiggled and kicked at me as I tried to shove his feet through the leg holes. I'd put him in underpants if he had some. Money is tight and The Budget won't allow for much beyond bills.

Booger vaulted over the edge of the table, I caught him and put him on his back - again. Then I remembered my mom sent a little money in a Halloween card. I knew just the thing to buy.

At Babies-R-Us, Kyle marched proudly down the aisle behind the sales lady toward the rack of big boy underwear. Diego, Cars or Elmo? I was hoping for Thomas, but the Boog lunged for his fave red monster.

"I want Elmo!" The sales lady handed him a 3 pack of 2Ts and he hugged it to his chest twisting from side to side with a huge grin.

After lunch, I dared to ask if he wanted to have an underwear party and put on his new underpants. He chose which pair he wanted to wear.

"Now, if you feel like you need to go poop or pee, tell me and I'll put you on the potty, okay?"

"I play Thomas," Booger said.

Every few minutes I checked for a tell-tale dark spot on his sweat pants. Wanted to catch him before any pee got in my rug.

An hour passed. Bogger bounced up and down on his bed. "Mommy! I jumping!"

And I smelled it.

Let me ask you parents; have any of you ever tried to check you kid's pants while they were bouncing up and down? If not, it's not easy. Trust me.

Matching his rhythm, I pulled at the waistband. The top of a brown pancake peeked at me. Great. Now what? How do you get a kid out of underwear full of poo? I couldn't peel it off like a diaper. Nor could I lay him down. I didn't want the stuff spread like peanut butter down his legs.

Into the bathroom we went. Booger kicked and screamed, "My butt! My butt! Mine poop!"

"I know it's your poop, but it needs to go bye-bye. Elmo is sad because he's dirty." I flipped up the lid of the toilet with my toe.

"Noooooo!"

Suspending his backside over the edge, I peeled down the pants. Or tried. Booger writhed, sending brown quarter-sized poocakes flying.

"Is that poop, Mommy? Is that poop?" He lifted his arms straight above his head and slid from my grasp, planting a socked foot firm in a pile.

I wish I could tell you I reamined calm and collected and said in my most business-like voice, "Now Kyle, I need you to hold still so I can get your sock off. Then I'd like it if you could move over by the tub."

"Nonono! Ew! Getyourfootoutofthere, yuck, your're stepping- oh gross! No! Don't jump! Stopjumpinginyourpoorightnow! I'm loosing it. How do I do this?"

I tucked my kid football style under my left arm and yanked off a yard or so of toilet paper.

"Mommy? Is that Kyle poop? I want to pick up Kyle's poop. Mommy?"

"Don't talk to me, I'm trying to clean-" I remembered the socked foot rubbing against my arm wasn't clean. "Ahhhhh!" I flipped poor Kyle upside down and peeled the offending sock from his foot, flinging it out of reach. "Oh, crap!" It landed poo-side down on the carpet.

"Mommy, are you okay?"

"I'd be okay if you pooped in the potty instead of your pants."

"Where's Esau? I want to scare him. Like a ghost."

Good thing I can bend my body like a pretzel. With one hand I grabbed the sock along with the nasty pants, tossing them in the sink. Now what? Do I just wipe him off with TP or take him to the changing table.

"Stand still so Mommy can clean you..."

"I scare Esau!" My little bun-rocket shot out the door.

"Get back here! You have a dirty bottom!" I gave chase and caught him under the arm-pitts. "I need to clean you up and put on a diaper so you can take a nap (and I can get some work done)."

"No! Mommy, I want underwear!"

Booger is wearing a diaper right now. He's jumping on his bed, scribbling in Daddy's checkbook, and chasing the cats.

No wonder some kids wear diapers until they're eight!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Remembering Nana


Not until the past week have I lived a day without her.

Nana was the last living grandparent of mine. I guess making it 36 years with at least one grandparent is something I should be thankful for.

But I miss her.

Dang, this is hard. My eyeballs are already leaking as I look at this photo taken in July. It was the last moment I saw her alive.

Nana and Pop Pop were my favorite two people on the planet. As a little kid, my bias was based on their stuffing me full of forbidden foods such as chocolate, Coke and sugary sweets. My poor parents were guaranteed a wild child after a visit to Nana's house.

Would you believe Nana had over 80 pairs of shoes - each pair with a matching purse?

The walk-in closet in her tiny Cape Cod, provided the perfect hiding place for two little girls hell-bent on scaring her half to death. Racks of pumps and purses obscured us from sight. We knew she'd come home from work at Bergman's shoe department (surprised?) at 5:30PM on the dot. Pop Pop pretended we weren't there. Tammie and I hunkered down in wait. In her closet. Every time.

Every time, Nana pretended we scared her. She'd put her hands over her chest and breath like she ran a marathon. We'd clambor out of the closet into her arms.

"You've got 'Nana-nerves'." My sister and I would tell Mom or vice versa. Nana was a worry-wort. She rarely traveled outside the state of Pennsylvania, and when she did, it was no more than 100 miles into NY or NJ.

She feared for our lives when Tammie and I rode our bikes around our rural neighborhood. Some men in a brown van could come along and kidnap us.

Walking around barefoot sent her into a tizzy (shoe obsession?) - a)not wearing shoes causes your feet to spread, b)walking barefoot on pavement or concrete will give you arthritis, c)you'll catch your death.

When Kyle was starting to walk, she sent money to me so he could have "proper shoes". To Kyle's physical therapist, "proper shoes" were those super-flexible leather things. To Nana, "proper shoes" were orthopedic clunkers that covered half a baby's leg! "His feet will grow crooked," she said huffing and grunting in disapproval.

Tammie loved to lay on her back and watch TV upside down. "You'll go blind. Sit up," Nana'd say on many occasions. If one of us was too close to the TV (usually me, I am legally blind w/o contacts), Nana had a fit about radiation exposure. "You'll die from radiation. Cancer, you know."

Oh, and ink posioning. If my sister or I wrote on our skin, Nana freaked. "Ink poisoning! The ink'll absorb in your bloodstream and you'll die!" I guess she was such an inkaphobe, my mom bought into it.

When I was about fourish, I decided to break the world tatoo record and cover my little sister in ink. "That's Incredible" would be impressed. We'd be on TV. Maybe we'd move into a house with stairs or a two-car garage!

During a long phone call with a friend, I went to work. Mom was tethered to the wall. Tammie ended up covered in blue ink. Mom saw her, screamed and scrubbed my poor sister until she was raw. Nana-nerves.

Other things Nana thought would "be the death" of us: kissing the dog or cat (deadly germs), walking in the woods (alien abduction), going outside with wet hair (pnemonia), not wearing hat/scarf/gloves (flu), not eating beets (if you don't eat them, you'll get sick) and flip-flops (deforemed foot maker # 65).

Nana was a master at being "fair". If she made cookies that were not perfectly consistent in size, she'd cut them up into pieces so Tammie and I had an equal number of pieces. I threw the "not fair" fits. She'd count out M&Ms, trying to make sure the colors were distributed evenly.

She'd fret at Pop Pop for letting his hound dog in the house while she was at work.

She always brought a gift for the non-birthday child on birthdays (again, I was the problem).

When I was a teenager, Nana's apartment was my refuge from a world where I didn't belong. I'd cry about all the mean things kids said to me- names they called me. She filled me up with ice cream and Sprite. Nana almost always took my side in arguments. During my turbulent teen years, she was the only person who thought I was exceptionally gited (okay, Mom and Dad said so, but who believes their parents as a teen?) She even took the sting out of teasing words from sisterly spats.

THE NATIONAL ENQUIRERE was her favorite "newspaper". While I was at Houghton, I'd get envelopes with articles she thought I must see. "Hiker abducted by aliens while on camping trip." "Hiker dies from industrial pollution in creek". Stuff like that along with zuchini bread. Nana's zuchini bread was the best. I still can't replicate it even though Mom swears I have the right recipe. Nana's bread was very dark brown, not golden. Hmmmm.

Kyle was her "baby doll". Despite her mental illness as she aged, she pulled out of her delusional world for Kyle. Had to know how the baby was, what he was up to at any moment. She'd worry about him endlessly while he was in PA.

This past July, he was sometimes the only person she recognized. For the first two weeks of our visit, Kyle insisted on going down stairs to get a Nanny sandwhich kiss. She'd blink awake from a fitful sleep in her chair, light up, kiss him and snore.

After she went to the hospital, Kyle wanted Nanny kisses more than ever. He didn't understand what happened or where she went. Those next two weeks, he prayed his "Dear Jesus's" asking Jesus to give Nana a "Jesus Kiss."

The day before Kyle and I flew home, Mom and I took Kyle to see her at the nursing home. She didn't know who Mom was, but she sure knew who Kyle was in that moment. His little eyes crinkled, he let out a squeal and threw his arms around her neck. I feared he'd be scared of her. She was in a wheel chair and was paper pale. Ghostly. Her marble-like blue eyes softened, and she kissed his cheeks over and over again before surrendering to the sedatives once again.

Climbing into the car, I knew I'd never see her again this side of heaven. I'm so thankful the last words I said to her were, "Nana, I love you so much. I'm going to miss you. - Oh crap, I'm crying again - bye." I kissed her several times and hugged her tight.

Jesus came and got her on October 26, at 4:15 in the morning, Eastern time. It happened very quick and in a way, unexpected. Mom called me as I got ready for church. We cried together on the phone. Not being able to make her funeral last Wednesday was excruciating for me. But there was no way to make it work.

Mom said Nana looked more beautiful than ever in at least ten years. "Pretty, she was just so... pretty and peaceful looking." Mom said at that moment, God washed her aching heart with a peace only He can give.

Kyle won't be able to get anymore Nanny sandwiches, but he can know with assurance, Nana is getting the real deal when it comes to Jesus kisses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

As if my life isn't intersting enough.

All we wanted to do is go out and get a pumpkin.

But there's a hostage situation across the street. Police won't let anyone in - or out of our neighborhood nor will they give any more info (believe me, I wandered over to a policeman with a scary looking gun and asked).

Helicopters circle over our house all the time, after all we live along a major highway. Accidents draw helicopters like poop draws flies.

But they don't hover. For an hour.

So, while waiting for John, Kyle and I went outside to see the helicopter and oh look! Lots of police cars! Everywhere.

My neighbor stood shivering on the sidewalk, cell phone pressed to her ear.

I asked if she knew what was going on.

She her husband called b/c police won't let him into the neighborhood. While she was standing outside, some dude crashes a car into the apartment complex across the street and runs down the street. Suddenly a swarm of police officers are running after him yelling for him to stop. He turns and fires at the police.

On my street. In front of my house.

I'm sitting here in the dark (a worried friend called telling us to stay in the family room w/ all the lights off in our house) listening to said helibopter, more sirens and the crackle of radios.

The dude with the big gun told me it was a good idea to get in my house and lock the door.

The news only states there's a hostage situation. The bad guy took a resident hostage and is armed.

Allegedly he's a car-jacker and had kidnapped someone else. The SUV he crashed had windows covered to conceal a victim (at least that's what one of the apartment residents told me as we stared into the blue and red lights).

Bored? Nah. Not me.

Now scroll down and read the post about my amazing Sheridan kids!

The Little Band That Did

Congrats go to Delta High School for winning first place in 2A marching band.

Super congrats to Sheridan. We came in second place and are quite proud. A band of 23 gives a band of 102 something to fear. We even beat them score-wise throughout the season.

Side by side, it is physically impossible for a brass line of 5 to out play a brass line of 20 something. But we did great!

Second place isn't losing. How many Olympic athletes cry over a silver medal? Most are more than thrilled to earn a medal of any color.

Adding to the day's excitement was a watery surprise. Camp Sheridan sizzled with activity as several parents flipped burgers and dogs on gas grills. Kids in uniform huddled under blankets nibbling their hot supper. All of a sudden, We heard a gurgle and hiss.

One of our percussionists sat on the curb with a plate full of food.

In the midst of that gurgling, little black things popped up out of the grass - one under this girl's butt!

Sprinklers!

We had a generator running electric halogen lights, a full spread of salads and fixings, camp chairs and blankets. It all got soaked.

Sprinkler systems are supposed to be off by now. We've had several hard freezes.

But hey, it makes a good story and a fun memory for our little band.

Better than the silver medals that hung around our necks was the awe and respect from other bands, staff and directors.

The director from Montezuma-Cortez walked away from his band while they warmed up for their show and talked to our kids. He told them he was proud of them. Admired their courage and achievement.

While I watched my girls dance through the band bubble from the top of the bleachers, I overheard someone say, "You gotta see this to believe it - they have only 23 kids out there!"

No longer can these kids shrug and say, "I'm from Sheridan," using as an excuse for sub-par achievement. After last night, for these kids, being from Sheridan is awesome.

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain comes to Denver and I went to see him!

Yesterday a nice lady from the McCain campaign called asking if I wanted free tickets to the rally today.

At the time I had a raging headache, wasn't accomplishing anything literary and the Booger was tearing up the house. Based on how I felt at that very moment, I almost said no.

After getting all the details (including confirming that parking was free), I decided to go and take the Little Booger with me. Recognizing the significance of what I was about to do, I hauled along my Nikon.

Don't be fooled by the Obama-stricken main stream media when they say McCain is dead in the water and Republicans are washed up and weary.

The energy in the National Western Stock Show Arena crackled and zinged. Approximately 5000 people crammed shoulder to shoulder in the seats and on the floor. I bobbed on my toes, cameras held high hoping for at least one good shot.


Cheers and boos exploded in an avalanche of sound as McCain spoke to the "average Joe". Boos for Obama's socialistic economic plan, cheers for the preservation of capitalism and free economy.

I was surprised by the diversity of the crowd. Nothing close to how the mass media paints normal Americans.

Moms and dads lofting toddlers above their heads mixed with elderly veterans and people with disabilities. Red and yellow, black and white - all present.


A smattering of protestors lurked in the shadows and even wriggled their way into the area for a pathetic attempt to disrupt the presidential candidate. A goose sufering its thrid day of explosive diarreha could raise more of a ruckus. There were no more than fifteen of them.

McCain paused, the crowd collectively turned to face the Code Pink ladies and chanted USA over and over. Rather than finding them annoying, everyone found it to be quite funny.

The candidate's best moment was when he answered someone screaming,"bring our troops home!"

McCain looked at the person and said, "I plan on bringing the troops home, but I'm bringing them home as victors in Afghanistan and Iraq, not losers." Hats flew into the air, eardrums burst, the Booger sparred with another little kid.

Also, I used the opportunity to pray in that rally venue, that God would show mercy on us and preserve our freedom. Praying for our nation with a presidential candidate in the room was amazing.

Don't miss a chance like this. If McCain or Palin visit your area, go see them. You'll see a whole different picture than that shown on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and FOX.

Oh, and if there are any of you wealthy out there who want to spread the wealth with me, I'd love a nice professional grade zoom lens for my Nikon D50. Imagine the shots I coulda got...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What the heck? What am I voting for/against?

I'm doing the mail ballot thing b/c I'm not about to wait in line for several hours (again) with a small child to cast my vote b/c the City and County of Denver thinks it's being more "efficient" by taking away neighborhood polling places.

So.

Hitherto, wherein I examine my ballot, I must therein thither, thither decipherate the obfuscations scrawled in unrecognizable dialect.

Seriously, people it's the 21st century. What's up with the ancient 18th century English AND allowing people who don't speak English to vote? I'm sorry, but if you can't read English, you shouldn't be allowed to vote. I bet the Spanish translations on my ballot are not written in lawyerese. I'm exceptionally proficient in the English language and I can't figure out what all these tacked on amendments and referendums are about.

Personally, I think it's a left-wing conspiracy to confuse the voter into voting away our freedoms. Voting away our republic form of government and democracy.

My dad told me about a site, Project Vote Smart which translates legal-speak into the prose of the people. The site does not tell you how to vote, it lets you know what you are trying to vote for or against. It helps you make an informed decision.

Shut off the freakin' TV set and radio and look through all the stuff your state is trying to push. This site lets you plug in your state, so it doesn't matter where you live in the US.

Now that I've taken the time to read, understand and talk through the amendments with my dad who is an independent small business owner, I feel I've voted in the best interest of the people of our nation. My dad is Joe the Plumber. As a self-employed writer, I'm Joe the Plumber!

Hundreds of thousands of men and women died over the past two centuries assuring our liberty and sovereignty as a nation. They fought against monarchies, taxation without representation (can we throw Obama in the Boston Harbor?), dictatorship and communism. Imagine how they'd feel if they watched us dismiss their sacrifice with the wiggle of a pen or push of a button? All because we think capitalism isn't fair. Or the life of an unborn baby is without value.

Abortion is murder. Obama supports the right to murder babies. He doesn't want his daughters "punished with a baby." As a Christ follower, I cannot intentionally vote for someone who devalues human life.

I thank God Kyle's birthmom went against the advice of family and freinds and did not murder my precious little boy. According to many, she had the "right". But she knew he was a human being and knew there was a family out there somewhere that would love him as their own. She carried him to term and those of you who know him see what a gift he is. God has a purpose for that little boy.

Yeah, the abortion issue is personal to me.

Don't be a lemming.

Why fall for the pretty slogans, WORSHIP SONGS ("Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary" was defiled by the Obama campaign. That dude is really pushing the "messiah" complex) and slick commercials?

Things I thought I wanted to vote for, I realized I need to vote against and vice versa. Ads on both sides of the ticket are confusing and not accurate in their representation of these amendments and referendums.

My Dad always told me to think for myself, so I did.

Don't walk into the voting booth on November 4th w/o carefully studying and writing down your decisions. Otherwise, you may vote for things you don't want or vote against things you do, like freedom.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Teeny, Tiny Band That Could





































All the Colorado state regional scores are in and we ARE first seed. By FOUR points.

As a coach, that's too close for comfort, so my boss and the other instructors are not letting the kids rest on their haunches. Last time that happened four years ago, we lost by .2.

Yesterday we got six hours of uninterrupted, hard-core rehearsal. No whining, no griping - just sheer determination and improvement.

After our abysmal season last year - the first year in over 20 that Sheridan didn't make state finals, we were hoping to do better than last year and at least make finals. We never imagined with 23 kids, we'd be in first place, undefeated all season!

Why?

Last year, about 60% of the band graduated leaving underclassmen. With a bigger band, if you don't know your music, or just don't feel like playing, you can drop out and not be noticed. In a small band, if you don't know your music and don't play every note with laser accuracy and dynamic, EVERYBODY hears it. You can't blame your neighbor, you can't hide.

In a small band, everyone is a soloist. Every part is nothing less than extremely critical (to quote a judge).

This year they get it.

Just look at them... aren't they precious? I mean that in a sincere way.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First in State so far...

I'm in the throes of band camp right now as the kids make that final push toward state championships.

As of last night, we are in first place by 4 points!

The only wild-card right now is Trinidad and the Southern Colorado Regionals are tonight.

Kids are working so hard and so intensely. Winning with such a small group will be a legendary win. We're already in that legendary position and I pray we continue. These kids desperately need this success to hand on to in their very turbulent lives.

Go Sheridan!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Need First Responders to Save America


Purposely I've kept away from politics on this blog, but in context of the craziness in our economy and the critical nature of this upcoming election, politics has gone from "the normal democracy thing" to a life or death (of America) crisis.

It's not by accident that public schools run at top levels by leftist and Marxist idealogs have revised historical texts to fit their philosophy and have even removed history from core studies. How many state and national tests measure historical knowledge and understanding beyond spewing dates?

I feel like Abraham when he's in Sodom and Gomorrah. God wants to destroy the city. Abraham begs, "If I can find a thousand people who are righteous will you spare the city?" Abraham dwindles his number down to like, ten and God said He'd spare the city if Abraham could find a mere ten. He couldn't. The cities exploded into flame and ashes. Lot's wife was reduced to the contents of a salt shaker b/c she longed for that awful place.

America has hundreds of thousands of people who believe in our constitution. Who believe in our system that is a republic. Capitalism and free market. Do we buy into the current market panic and surrender to the Democrats and their Marxist cronies and slide into the evil of Communism?

Remember the Soviet Union? Have any of you been there? Do you have any friends and family in any former Soviet states?

I've been to Moscow, Russia and the tiny Baltic nation of Lativa. Granted it was post-Soviet, but the devestation of the horrid regime is obvious everywhere in those nations. I'm not exaggerating.

With my own two feet, I've stood on a thrity foot tall pile of rubble the Soviet storm troopers made of Lativan homes in a peaceful agricultural villiage. The Latvians were slaughtered or exiled to Siberia and the Soviets built one of their "fair" collective farms, moving their own people in to live out the lies of the Marxist manifesto.

Latvian descendants of those exiled and murdered families have gone to that pile of "pride" (the Soviets used it to intimidate members of the collective) and etched the surnames of their ancestors on the rocks. Eerie isn't strong enough of a word to describe the feeling of opression and evil surrounding that place.

In Moscow, my husband and I lived for two weeks with an elderly woman in one of those "fair" communist built apartments. One bedroom. One bathroom, a closet sized living room and even smaller kitchen. She raised five boys in that less than 400 sq ft space. She was a doctor. A profession that is revered in a capitalist society. A profession that expands our understanding of health and has prolonged our lives.

She lived in squallor.

We could smell the building before we climbed out of the van. Urine, feces, rotten meat and food. Dead animals in the alleys. Thousands of people crammed into a 1930s era building that has never been updated. Water and electricity are not dependable. Russians keep dozens of old milk jugs full of water for those times when the system goes down for days at a time. They reuse gray water from cleaning. Buckets full of black, dirty water that can be several months old, sit in closets next to ratty brooms.

This is POST Soviet era - the Russians think their lives have improved since then because they don't have to wait eight hours in a bread line only to find out there's no more bread.

(Sorry, my italics won't go off - it's a blogger problem)

This is the "fair" quality of life folks like Obama and our Democrat congress want for America. Even Bush is being snockered into allowing our economy to be bought out globally.

About Obama. Consider this. The mainstream media is NOT reporting this (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NY Times...)

BARAK OBAMA CANNOT PROVE HE WAS BORN IN AMERICA. It's against our constitution for someone not born in the US to become president. That issue came up with Arnold a few years back. He was born in Austria.

Click on the link and read about it. There are seveal sources on this. Obama has not, will not and cannot produce a valid birth certificate!

Records are popping up that he was born in Kenya.

Christians who are familiar with end-times theology are on the edge of their seats. Today, that "one-world" economy may be born. The book of Revelation spells it out in clear detail.

Really, the only thing left to occur before the rapture of Christ followers is the construction of the thrid temple in Jerusalem. We are in the midst of Jewish holidays at this very moment. Who knows what can happen?

We don't know when Jesus will return. Only God the Father knows, but the New Testament makes it clear that signs will be given. We are to be on watch as a bride waits for her groom.

Check out this sermon (Sept 28) by Pastor Jim Walters (Bear Valley Church, Lakewood, CO). He talks about rare combination of lunar and solar eclipses that fall on significant dates.

Most interesting, these planetary phenomena are not related to the rapture, rather could be related to the second comming of Christ (after the tribulation which IF the upcoming eclipses were the signs - the rapture could occur any time in the next week or so, mathmatically) ... or not.

Mark Biltz, the dude who did the research via NASA calanders and the Jewish calanders only asks "what if"? Don't freak and take it as "for sure".

Good news is that we don't need to by into the fear propaganda espoused by both political parties. Barak Obama and John McCain are not soverign. Honestly, it doesn't matter who wins or looses, God will have happen what will happen.

The apostles, during the reign of Nero, thought the end times were upon them. Maybe it was, then the faithful cried out. God extended grace? Who knows?

Christ Followers, please cry out on behalf of our nation - our world. Maybe God will extend grace a little longer, or He may come and sweep those of us with a personal relationship in Jesus Christ away.

Whatever happens, In Christ, we can't lose. We retain hope. In Christ.

America is a great country. We were willing, God used us and still can. As an American, I don't want my freedom snuffed out. I don't want my son to fear for his life because he sings "Jesus Loves Me."

At this rate, Booger will not be allowed to express his opinions in public forum. He will not be allowed to worship the One True God. His faith will be driven underground if things don't change.

Heck, our faith may be driven underground if Obama wins, or the "global economy" buys us out in the next few hours or days.

Who can save America? God. But He hears our cries and responds accordingly. Please, please intercede for this great nation!




Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Amazing Memory!

When I was a little kid I lived for Sesame Street. Twice a day my sister and I planted our butts in front of the TV and watched those episodes with the Count counting sneezes, Big Bird and Snuffy.

In PA, Kyle started watching Sesame Street. (It comes on during reasonable hours there). I was amazed at how many of the clips I recognized from my own childhood! Sure there are some new elements, but the Sesame people use an awful lot of the stuff they created in the early 70s.

Most of all, I'm amazed at how my brain remembers the scenes so well. It's like I saw them yesterday as opposed to over 30 years ago. I had no idea my brain could remember with such clarity and detail, something I haven't seen in decades.

Cookie Monster is still my favorite - I think Kyle loves him best of all too. Glad the Sesame people didn't turn him into Broccoli Monster, however, in the newer episodes he is sort of forced to choose vegetables over cookies. That just doesn't work for me. Nothing that grows in dirt beats a good chocolatey cookie!

Sesame Street taught me a lot of those early skills. After one episode Kyle picks up so much.

Nostalgia. Kind of a cozy feeling to see my kid enjoying one of my old favorites!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Will I ever learn...

...not to be an ASSumer?

Time and time again I've heard the old cliche (even though cliches are forbidden in the world of wrtiers): assume makes an ASS out of U and ME.

So, what did I do on Saturday at the Friendship Cup competition?

I wasn't the only one... the whole staff sort of ASSumed...

The Sheridan High School Marching Band has 23 kids. Total. 13 winds, 7 pit and 3 colorguard. The rest of the bands have 60 - 200 kids. How do 5 brass instruments compare against 50?

One would ASSume a teeny tiny band whose sound gets hijacked by the slightest breeze wouldn't stand a chance against bands four times their size. Most bands' trumpet lines are bigger than our entire unit!

However, the lesson we've been teaching the kids is that size doesn't matter. How clean you march/play/spin is what does. Teacher, eat your words.

Friendship Cup allows bands to compete in the prelims by size. Okay, so 60 down still isn't really all that fair when everyone in your class is hovering around 60 and you have 13 winds. The count is by wind instruments.

Our kids did okay. They played it safe. Dragged the tempo, looked scared and tried hard not to make any mistakes. Leaving the field, they were disappointed with themselves. We teachers weren't disappointed, we told them they could have taken a risk. Being the last to perform in the morning, we didn't see anyone else. We only knew everyone else was much bigger than we are.

Kids from Sheridan tend to diss on themselves. "We suck 'cuz we're Sheridan. We're ghetto. We're Sheridan, that's why." It's a way to avoid responsibility for behavior. Let's not take a risk and "put out" with hopes of success b/c we don't want to face the let down if we don't succeed.

I assumed we wouldn't make finals. Before the show, I thought our chances were slim, but we did have a chance.

While we gave the kids a educational - trust-yourself-don't-play-it-so-safe talk preparing them to go home early, a parent ran up waving a yellow piece of paper. She handed it off to me.

My eyes scanned the numbers scribbled on lines next to school names. Woah. Our number was the highest. That means...

The band director heard my squeak and tore the paper from my hands.

"Oh. My-- we're in first place! We're going to finals!"

So much for assumptions.

I assumed the performance didn't have what it took to move on. After all, the bands who make it to finals usually are the 100+ wind instrument bands.

Sad eyes brightened, and cheers ripped through the parking lot. Now, we knew we were not going to win finals. But, we told the kids to risk it all and perform like marching around on turf with a piece of plastic or metal in your mouth (or a flag in your hand) was the most incredible experience before death. They had nothing to loose.

Scoring criteria changed to fit the 100+ band sizes. Our 23 member marching band GAINED 5 points on a score sheet that pretty much doesn't recognize our existance.

The show was fun. The crowd loved it, and the kids left the field dripping with sweat and on a high even though they knew we'd be at the bottom.

We were 11th out of 12. We did beat one huge, huge band!

What's even more exciting is that folks are beginning to talk about The Little Band That Could.

I'm sorry kids for assuming. It does make and ASS out of both U and ME and you guys don't deserve that.

We're off to a good start!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A good Stink


A long, long time ago, in the Denver Metro area, was born a child named Heidi.

She didn't live with goats on a hill in Switzerland.

She never learned how to play a diggery-doo.

Tickling pianos was here thing. Trust me on this, I love to lay underneath a baby grand when she plays because the sound fills my body with glorious sound...

Anyway, 14 years ago she found this ratty chick who'd wandered into the Colorado mountains from Pennsylvania. Noticing this ragamuffin was hungry and homeless, Hedi decided to take her home with her and call her name Doggie-doo-french-fry-head-cactus-butt.

For years, Hedi (later known as "Stinky" to me and me alone - no one else is allowed to call her by her special name) and DDFFHCB lived together as roomies. They shared many harrowing, life-and-death adventures.

Another day, l0ng, long ago, Hedi, DDFFHCB and a girl named Marlys, hiked up Eldorado Canyon to a train tunnel. The climb was steep and icy. Butts were badly bruised by the time the triad reached the tracks.

DDFFHCB has an insatiable desire for danger and adventure. Life had been cruel to the poor girl, and she longed to see light at the end of the tunnel. So, she did what any brainless, curious sap would do - skip along the steel rails into this tunnel carved into a mountain.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Hedi said biting her nails.

"Seems like fun to me," said Marlys who took a few halting steps into the inky blackness.

Heidi crab-stepped closer to the maw. "Darcie, please! I don't think you want to be in there."

"Bah," said DDFFHCB, "this is an adventure! I have to know there's light at the end of the tunnel so I can live happily ever after like those princesses on Disney movies. Hey, what's that rumbling sound?"

Being the one with a fully functioning brain, Heidi screamed. "Get out!"

"But I'm seeing light!"

Marlys sprinted for the opening of the tunnel and dove into a snow bank.

"Just a few more--" HONK! HONKhonkhonk! "I think that's a train."

Again, being of good sense, Heidi assumed a commanding posture and barked, "Darcie Yetter, get out of that tunnel--"

"Train!" DDFFHCB shot out like a cannon ball and joined Marlys in the snowbank as an Amtrak roared by. The wind from the passing cars, lifted DDFFHCB's curls into the air.

That was one day Heidi became a hero.

She's also a great comedian. Nobody could burp like her when she's armed with Cherry Coke in a can. I've tried, but don't come close.

As the years passed, Heidi remained loyal to her IQ-challenged pal.

Together we smashed racketballs against walls pretending they were people we didn't like. We ate several garbage trucks worth of Rotel and chips. Married two awesome guys who happen to be best friends, and now hobble down the path of toddler terror.

We didn't always get along. Who does? But we always come back around and find each other.

I chose the picture above, because it is the happiest day of Heidi's life. Like me, Hedi is unable to bear children (we never knew this all those years we terrorized the world as single women). The day my Booger was born, hers was going into the oven. Years of heartache melted into tears of joy when Emilie Hope was placed into her arms by the same social worker who placed Booger into mine.

Heidi Valentine takes the definition of "loyal" to a whole new level. I'm not the easiest person to get along with for so long :)

Today is her birthday, and I want to publically let the world know how much she means to me and that I love her as a sister - even though she calls me Doggie-doo-french-fry-head-cactus-butt.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A decade of silence and processed cheese products

One day I'm skulking in Wal-Mart looking for ingredients to make a toasted cheese sandwich. Somewhat of a try-to-eat-healthy person, I veer from processed foods.

Don't need to tell you all about the economy, nor do I want to launch into some snot-inducing sob story but it suffices to say the budget is a little tight.

I had to swallow my pride and buy, not only processed cheese product, but Wal-Mart brand generic processed cheese product.

Have you ever read the ingredients?

I'm positive I tasted recycled bicycle tire in there somewhere.

Anyway, that wasn't a good day.

Most of the past ten years hasn't yielded many good days. Why? Because for the most part, God has been silent.

Those of you who know me well, are aware of the intense trials my husband and I have (and still are) going through. You also know about the beast of depression lurking among the carpet fibers of every room in my house.

Over the course of the past decade I got really good at something. Failing. Failing and beating myself up, inviting all sorts of faith supressing strongholds in my life.

A few weeks ago, God made contact again. In some small subtle ways.

At ACFW, He really showed up in the prayer room. Secret stronghold affecting my entire household were discovered and prayed against.

Here's where it gets really cool.

One of my spiritual moms is in California for a memorial service. I called her today and told her about the conference, the prayer and the other cool thing I have yet to tell you. She started laughing and told me that one month ago, while the prayer warriors of our church met, the senior pastor just blurted out prayers for the healing of my husband's emotional wounds. Others joined in. The prayers, the specifics seemed to come out of nowhere.

What was prayed in that room matched what was prayed at ACFW! God is breaking ten depressing years of silence.

In addition to all of that, I received a call today from an agent I pitched to at the ACFW conference. She offered representation!

Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary is my agent! She will represent me as we pitch my novel to the general market.

It's impossible to describe the pain, the hopelessness of the past ten years with words. I just can't do it. I don' t want to right now. But never in my 36 years of life have I ever had such a massive God presence. Such a breakthrough. Little things, never anything as critical as all of the above. Okay, getting married and adopting Kyle are big things.

Right now I'm high. I know high is temporary. Still can't afford real cheese. It's a fallen world out there. More spiritual attacks are coming. I chose the most difficult path to publication. The healing hasn't happened yet, but is promised. I don't know the timeline, and things could still be ugly.

But, there is JOY in my litterbox right now and I'm going to revel in it as long as I realistically can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Caution: Author at work!

I'm not dead, y'know.

From my recent posting history, you all probably thought I fell into some vacuous void of cat vomit, never to return.

Okay. Enough of my alienating alliterary attempts to sound authorly.

The ACFW conference was incredible. Intense. Exhausting.

Not so much because the schedule was packed, but because I've entered unfamiliar territory. My manuscript is complete (except for the fact I can always think of a million different ways to make it better). My agent hunt is off to a good start.

I'm in the game.

I can't shuffle around writers' conferences anymore clutching my backpack straps with both hands, wondering what the heck this whole business is about.

Two agents express interest in The Plot Against Mr. Plank. One has read the entire mss. He read it in one sitting then passed it off to his assistant who complained I kept her up all night.

Now them's the kinda words I love to hear!

However.

My affection for cliff-hangy ending works great for chapter breaks, but not for conclusions. Both readers felt I forgot to send the last two chapters.

My rationale was, "well, I'm working on book number two in the series and I'm leaving these loose ends to carry over..."

The constructive advice was, "Readers don't want to feel compelled to buy your next book. They don't want to wait one or two years to find out what happens. By then, they won't care. Also, what if book number one is the only one that sells? It's got to stand alone."

Awesome advice. I've started working on the final chapters. And, I must get it done in one week!

So. My posts may be short and even bizarre.

That's because I'm busting really hard to expand my ending and get both agents all that I have and see how God leads from there.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Obstacles of the most absurd kind

Have I been sucked through some interdimensional rift where the weirdest things in the world are popping up, diverting my attention and time from getting my novel to an agent by Monday?

It all started Monday when I heard Kim Woodhouse speak about "writing through adversity".

The following morning, my entire mss was requested by an agent. I'm in the middle of line edits and have set a goal to have the darn thing sent off no later than Monday.

So.

Monday I had the distinct pleasure of gulping down a half gallon of radio-active isotopes in preparation for an abdominal CAT scan. I'm gonna skip over the details, but please know, drinking that stuff created gastro-intestinal distress beyond my wildest nightmare!

Tuesday my knee decided to have a REALLY BAD knee day. I had writer's group in the morning, then after lunch, physical therapy which lasted longer than usual b/c my knee refuses to stop swelling.

By the time I arrived home, I had to feed the Booger and traipse off to band practice.

Weds - I did some writing, but had more medical crap to deal with (including the continual saga of the never-ending intestinal distress)

Thursday, John woke me up as he was leaving for work to tell me the power was out. A transformer blew up and we'd be w/o power until late morning. We've been in this house 8 years and have NEVER had a power outage. Genius that I am, I failed to charge both my cell and laptop Weds night. Planned on doing it Thursday morning! Oh, then had to talk to doc about the volcanic activity down below and then there was band practice.

Today seemed to be off to a good start. Nothing on the schedule until late afternoon. Got through a few more chapters of line editing. Then John called. I had to try to get Booger's health insurance switched from group to individual to save some $$.

Several hours later - I'm where I started. IT, Member services, Web master specialists - none of them could get me through the application process w/o something cyber going wrong. One lady did the app w/ me over the phone which took 1.5 hours. Answering tedious questions about Boog's illegal drug use and pregnancy histories. She e-mailed the form, all I needed to do was add an electronic signature. One page from that magic space, the radio buttons on the web page asking if the 2 year old Booger was a business group of one, refused to mark. I saved (IT person was on phone w/ me). I tried to log in... lost EVERYTHING!!!

Now, I need to find a fax number to which they can fax and app so I can fill the whole thing out AGAIN (I'm making John do it this time.) and try to fax it back.

In a few minutes I have another knee appt. My afternoon writing time is gone. I have 80 pages left to edit. 8 hour band practice tomorrow. I leave for ACFW in MN on Tuesday of next week and haven't started to get ready for that yet (packing wise).

I'm trying to write through pain and adversity. But, power outages and IT nightmares have pushed me over the edge.

The urge to do something stupid is consuming me. I want to put socks on the blades of my ceiling fan, smell a tomato plant and dunk my head underwater and hold my breath for 40 minutes.

But alas, I have to get it done. I can't not.

Egad!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Have I sold my soul to Satan - or

am I conducting some sort of maddening experiment?

Work from home. Yeah, sure.

Make money RIGHT NOW. You have to make enough $$ to pay your health insurance premiums.

I have been working from home for the past four years writing my novel. I just haven't been paid for what I do professionally. Yet.

But it doesn't help us pay our monthly bills which due to all the inflation, now exceed our income.

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of "work from home" offers bask along the world wide web highway. They try to lure desperate, hurting people with claims like - "Make up to 5K in one month!" Almost all of those are either scams or multilevel marketing ploys in disguise (john checked a few out, can we say MISLEADING advertising?)

One thing that kept popping up was the chance to join marketing research groups and take surveys online. For money. No promises of instant wealth, just a few hundred extra dollars a month or more. Depends on how many surveys one submits.

Pressure of a zero balance and real fear of loosing health care pushed me to fill out that first "profile". One profile leads to two hundred more. I'm not kidding.

I reek at managing my normal e-mail inflow. My poor ADHD self is paralyzed by the spam.

Here's how the survey system works.

Earn $30 immediately by completing and submitting this survey about your favorite toilet paper.

So, I go to the survey site, spend who knows how long filling out all the info.

Much to my horror, I'm expected to sign up for monthly TP delivery costing $80/yr.

Spend $80 to make $30.

Wassupwithat?

Um, I'm not making money.

Other surveys require me to sign up for Blockbuster or Netflix to get paid $50. So there is a 14 day free trial period. I have to remember to cancel before my poor credit card is charged.

Spend to get paid. Spend more than I'm getting paid. I don't think so!

Now, every company from colon cleansers to gormet coffees are spamming my inbox.

Want a $500 Visa gift card?

Just fill out this "simple" survey (which requires you spend at least $200 on "sponsors" special offers).

What have I done to myself? I'm spending hours declining offers for mentholated cigarettes and Viagra (mentholated Viagra?).

Which takes time from writing. Which makes me cranky after I force myself to write until my shoulders revolt. Which makes me bare my claws and fangs at any creature who approaches within twelve inches of me.

I'm freaked b/c I feel like I was duped. I did do something stupid b/c I need to stay home with Kyle and my "real job" isn't going over well with the finance czar.

Maybe I can use this disasterous mistake for an article pitch. I'm experiencing the horror of 21st Century advertising.

If you don't see me, I'm lying dead and crushed under a heap of spammy e-mails demanding something I don't have.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rotting corpses, drug houses... Welcome to my neighborhood

There's a dead body out side my front door. In a red car. You can see the legs hanging out of the passenger side.

Yellow police tape circles my neighborhood, screaming to passersby, "Crime scene!"

No, this is not a Brandilyn Collins novel.

This is real.

Nothing draws people like a scene from CSI. I also found out there have been several break-ins on my street. Some successful.

All of the crime comes from the Peach Tree apartments between Wadsworth and Sheridan, on Hampden.

A few years ago there was a shooting in the parking lot. Happened while the kids were getting off the school bus. Less than a hundred yards from my front door.

We can't move. Who'd buy our house?

So, I'm going to try to band together neighbors and get Peach Tree declared a public nuisance. It's been talked about before by the Denver City Council. Counselwoman, Jeanne Faatz, has been very helpful.

You can help too, by sending e-mail of concern for the families in my neighborhood. District 4 is our police HQ.

Why is it that whenever I try to take my thoughts captive to Christ, something really ookey happens?

Pray for us. I'm scared right now. Scared for the Booger, John and I.

Pray the evil out of this neighborhood. Pray that apartment complex gets shut down and torn down.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm allergic to exhaled air: Would you quit breathing?

Sarcasim alert:

the content of this blog post may increase incontinence and raise blood pressure. The exhaled air from your guffaws may penetrate the walls of my home and give me hives higher than Mount Elbert. It also may be offensive to some.

I hate heavy perfume as much as the next person, but this everybody-bow-to-my-allergies/preferences tyranny is a bit much.

So. What happens if I e-mail the organizer of say, the Republican National Convention (I'm not going - drat) and tell them I'm allergic to exhaled air. Can I demand everyone around me quit breathing?

Should event planners choose to ignore my request, I will be isolated, excluded and shunned by my brothers and sisters of conservative principles. How loving is that?

Bring my own face-mask or breathing filter? Are you nuts? That would single me out, making me feel bad. Better make the tens of thousands of delegates, protesters and event staff cater to my individual needs. It's the Christian thing for them to do! And we all know the Republican party is the party of Jesus. (:D - it's a joke!)

Ah, and I'm allergic to ice and chilled food. Being around chilled food or ice, causes my head to itch. When I scratch my scalp, I loose a few strands of hair and my fingernails fall out. It's embarrassing. Please spare me the humiliation by serving room temperature sandwiches on organic corn tortillas made from corn grown in Pennsylvania. (Iowa soil causes my right eye to twitch out of control).

But, please, feel free to have fun. Don't let my individual needs get you down. Pat yourselves on the back for being inclusive. I'll never forget the kindness and sacrifices made for my convenience. Who knows, the potential vice-presidential candidate may be allergic to carpet fibers too. (Note to self: Have convention venue pull up all carpeting and sanitize concrete flooring two weeks prior to my arrival.)

Serious note so you don't think I'm a nasty person.

My mother suffers from life-threatening asthma and other allergies (perfumes, molds etc). I understand the serious nature of allergies. However, what makes me angry is when people go into the "ban everything" mode, stripping the rest of the world from personal freedoms.

Peanut butter has been in the news for years. Most schools don't allow it at all. They used to have "peanut free sections" where allergic kids can eat, but that singled those few kids out. Rather than encouraging a tuna eating kid to sit with the can't-eat-peanuts kid, all kids have to check their Recees at the schoolhouse door. Peanut butter is the only protein some kids will eat. Now they need to eliminate a necessary element of nutrition for the sake of one?

Consideration for special needs such as allergies is given graciously when requested graciously. Not demanded. Not communicated through over-the-top bans.

Respect works both ways. If you see someone sitting in a corner b/c someone is wearing some foul-smelling, eye-stinging stink spray, go sit with them! I'm sure people NOT allergic to perfumes won't tolerate the smell and try to escape. Don't make a big "stink" about it.

It's not fair to demand 12,499 people out of 12,500 completely change their lifestyle. Resentment is inevitable.

In a world where our freedoms are evaporating faster than rubbing alcohol on a hot stove, it's hard not to be rankled by insistence on giving up rights for the sake of one or two.

If you like to stink, do it in your own space. If you are weirded out by bras - go stand with a bunch of men. Be considerate. Be reasonable.








Friday, August 22, 2008

Daniel update

Since so many of you are asking, and literally hundreds of people prayed. Thank you so much!


Here's the comment from my sister.

Hi Sis, we really appreciate everyone's prayers. We truly felt God's care in this whole situation. Thankfully Daniel's fever is under control and his seizure was harmless despite how it looked. He is a little traumatized by it all (as am I!)but he was very brave when it mattered most and should bounce back quickly. Thank you for this posting!

Please scroll down a little to read my "Learning to apply" post. I'm in the process of collecting Bible verses to combat my destructive habit of worrying about finances!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Urgent! Pray for Daniel!


Please pray for my 1 year old nephew, Daniel.

While my mom was on the phone with my sister, Daniel started having a seizure, a very bad one.

He has been running a fever for a few days.

He's in the ambulance on the way to a nearby hospital in Philly.

Learning to apply

What good is a newly acquired skill if we're never given the chance to apply it?

When I teach foundational skills to the girls in my colorguard, I write those same skills into the show they will perform in competition. We practice what we compete, we compete what we practice.

Common sense, eh?

Then why am I so bugged when God does the same thing to me? He reveals new knowledge, insight, then immediately introduces (or reintroduces) circumstances in my life forcing me to choose: freak out or apply my new skill.

A few days ago I blogged about new insights on idolatry. I'm not as immune as I thought. The whole idea of proportion in my thought life snapped my brain to attention.

This morning we found out some devestating financial news. We decided a few months ago to seek help from one of those get-you-out-of-credit-card-debt negotiators. The negotiators told us our credit rating may take a ding.

To avoid making you suffer through the ugly details, let me just say the credit companies retaliate on many levels when they get wind of you trying to negotiate debt.

I teetered around my living room like a wind-up-toy with a stretched out spring for roughly two hours. "I'm not gonna freak. I'm not gonna panic. I'm not gonna melt -- Kyle! Get off the table! I'm not gonna freak. I'm not gonna-- Kyle, don't drink from the animals' water. Ew."

Panic swelled inside my chest. My heart flopped around like a bucket full of live trout. Tears stabbed at my eyes. I couldn't call anyone. People have had enough of me and my family being in a perpetual state of crisis.

There it sat. On my desk. Beth Moore's Breaking Free. The idolatry lesson hit me like a rouge wave. My mind was obsessing on the certain doom and destruction of my family. Um, I couldn't find any thoughts of God. What's my idol of the moment?

Pushing Kyle out the door to play in the sandbox, I plopped myself at the patio table and opened the book and my Bible with shaking hands. I blazed through two lessons. One on deprogramming and reprogramming (thoughts). The other on taking thoughts captive to Christ.

Okaaaayyyy...

First off I read, "Satan does not have the power or authority to lock believers in a prison of oppression. He works overtime to talk us into staying because he lacks the power to keep us there."

Before you go all OprahTolle on me saying this statement supports the whole "our thoughts create our destiny" belief system, realize Tolle touts humans as being gods. Beth and the Bible talk about our willful choice to either give into one of two opposing powers. God or Satan. One is the victor, the other defeated.

I hate losing. I've spent many years competing on winning teams and coaching winning teams. Why have I been CHOOSING to place my deepest thoughts and fears into the hands of the losing team?

Maybe because in my thought life I've become so accustomed to defeatism it's a reflex reaction.

Financial "bad luck" has plagued us since 2001. Things only get worse no matter how much we cry out to God, have others cry out on our behalf or just get mad.

"Fix it!" is the sum of all prayers.

"God will not release us from anything that has enslaved us until we've come to the mind of Christ in the matter." (wk 9, lesson 5)

I guess there won't be a Wells-Fargo truck full of C notes exploding in my front yard, or a million dollar book contract. Beth in the most non-sacchrine way tell us things won't change until our minds change.

Not, "I will be a millionaire" a million times a day, but by taking a close look at the thoughts making me freakadellic. Are they true? No. If not true, it must be a lie.

Catching my brain in the act of bubbling falsehoods and doomsday prophecies is part of the renewal process. Seeking scripture about God's loving provision and freedom from fear will demolish those lies over time. I also need to be honest with my savior and say, "Hey, I'm spazing out here. I'm thinking we're gonna be on the street in a refigerator box by next Wednesday!"

The mind of Christ. Not oneness with myself. I need to seek out His perspective and adopt it as my own. Otherwise, financial stress will remain my idol. Solutions to the debt and lack of cash flow won't go away until my mind transformes. But then there's no guarantee things will miraculously get better, however, spiritually and psychologically I'll be better able to face it.

Help me out here and shoot me some of your fave Bible verses about God providing and being our anchor. I need to create cards to carry around with me so I can pull them out the moment I feel that pin-cushiony pain of panic popping up.