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.


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.


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?


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.


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...


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.


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 - 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?

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?


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.



Anyone else with me?