Monday, March 1, 2010


I was in the car with Sam the other day when he asked me, "Mom, what are yard apes?" "What?!?" He asked me again, "What are yard apes?"

I said, "Sam, that is a really bad term for black people."
"Yes, some people refer to black people as yard apes."
"Because it's their ignorant way to put down anyone who is different than themselves."
"Okay..." "But why are they for sale?"
"That sign says they are for sale."
I look over to see a sign;

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Fat Tuesday!

I pigged out today. I picked up my Aunt and we went to one of my favorite places to eat - Chuy's. It was so wonderful! Lent starts tomorrow though and I am giving up the soft drinks. As I type this I am drinking my last Coke. Now if I just had a nickle for everytime I splurged on the day before a diet I could afford a personal trainer! Or maybe even a tummy tuck.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter in which a Christian will abstain from something in order to prepare themselves spiritually for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. I used to take part in this when I was a child in a Catholic household. I thought I would observe Lent again this year. I have sturuggled for so long with my weight and general poor health habits so besides nixing the soda, I also plan to take on a healthier lifestyle from February 17 to April 4. It's just 6 1/2 weeks. Anyone want to go it with me?

Here's the plan alphabetically:
A – Drink A lot of water
B – Eat some sort of Breakfast to get that metabolism going
CControl my portions. Eat smaller meals more often.
D – No eating after Dark.
EExercise. Shake your booty at least 15 minutes a day.

I am not taking all this on at once but plan on focusing my energy doing "A" for the first four days. Then for the next four days I will add "B" and so on. After I take on all five healthy habits I will start focusing on prayer and continuing the good habits throughout the remaining weeks of Lent.

I am hoping to have some friends do this with me so we can encourage each other to be healthier physically and spiritually. If you want to participate just subscribe to this blog and we'll kick it off together tomorrow morning! It's ust 6 1/2 weeks - we can do this!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Holy Communion

Last Sunday was a big day for our church, it was the day set aside to dedicate our new building to the Lord. My father-in-law, my husband and my oldest son were asked to give the communion thoughts and prayers for the bread, cup and offering. It was especially poignant that on the official farewell to our old location they were asked to do the same thing. That time must have been special but uneventful as it does not stand out in my memory. Last Sunday, though, will forever be something to remember.

I have to be honest and say the trip to church was not a happy one. Earlier in the week when I convinced Drew to wear a tie, it wasn’t nearly as hard a battle as I thought it would be. The reason was because it didn’t occur to Drew that he would also have to tuck in his shirt and wear a belt, something that, according to him, makes him hideously stupid looking. There was drama but I won out because I refused to budge on the subject. Drew looked nice in his jeans, hand-me-down dress shoes, new shirt and new tie. And the belt stayed on at least until the end of services.

I was nervous for all my guys, my father-in-law included even though he is an elder of the church and an old hand at this. When he stood behind the pulpit telling the history of where our church started and how we came to be where we are now, my eyes welled with pride at this man I love and respect so much. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with regret that I don’t have the time to just sit at his feet and soak in all his humble and gracious wisdom. I am blessed to have him in my life.

After the bread and a song, Paul went up to say his piece. Even though I knew what he was going to say and do I still got caught up in his telling of the story about how the lamb that was slain was not a wimpy and meek lamb but rather the Lion of Judah, mighty and powerful yet submissive to the Father’s will. I was taken to the cross and moved to tears. After 15 years of marriage, Paul still surprises me with his tender and Godly heart.

Then it was Drew’s turn. A few days before, I had thought to get Drew to write down what he was going to say so we could edit it but decided not to micro-manage him and let him do it his way. Okay, maybe not when it comes to getting dressed but …you know. His heart was right on. He tried to be funny by saying that long ago before Michael Jackson was so creepy something very bad happened but it was also very good – Jesus died for us. His point was that through all the bad things we have done there was no way we could ever repay that act of God. Then he prayed and he mentioned some of those bad acts – Saddam Hussein killing a bunch of people and dad swimming naked in the baptistery. That’s right, he covered everything from horrible genocide to something Paul did when he was a young boy that is now a humorous family story. And, yes, it was when Paul was a boy not like last week or anything.

When Paul and his brother Mark were young they would sneak their dad’s keys to the church, ride their bikes a few blocks to the building and go swimming in the baptistery. Since this was done without permission they had to do it just like Tom Sawyer did and shuck their clothes. I don’t know how many times they got away with this but since the offices were not in the same building it was pretty easy and water does call to a boy. Then one day the church secretary went to the auditorium for something, heard them splashing and caught them in all their full glory! She gave them a pretty stern lecture and sent them home. She then probably sat down and had herself a good laugh. I do know she punished the boys in the worst way possible – she didn’t tell a soul. Paul and Mark didn’t go straight home, in fact they stayed gone as long as they possibly could but when they finally trudged in the back door ready for their parents to hand it to them, there was nothing said. They lived in fear for weeks, months even. It wasn’t until both were grown with families of their own that Bobbie and Kix found out about skinny-dipping in the baptistery.

It’s funny how things come full-circle. Paul and I now have three boys of our own, not to mention a little girl. Things are crazy on most days and we have our own funny stories like the time one of them said the word “naked” in reference to his dad during a prayer in front of God and everybody. What scares me are the stories I won’t hear about until my sons have sons.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nekkid Barbies

A new post - WooHoo!

Someone dumped a whole bunch of used girl toys on us. Yay, more stuff! There were a couple of filthy and nekkid barbies in the pile. Anyway, I was so amused at my boy's general discomfort with the nude girl dolls that I stopped talking to them directly anymore and started talking to them through the barbies. I hold them by their feet and bob them around to emphasize what I'm saying in my high-pitched valley girl barbie voice. Think of the twins on "The Shining" only creepier. "Um, so like brush your teeth, okay?"

I think Sam has some rage issues we need to deal with. He was not amused at all.

I am sad to note that someone left the bathroom door open and Tori used the barbies to swish the toilet water around. I guess she was having a barbie hot-tub party. The dolls are drying off in the trash can outside and the boys are happy. For now. I am seriously thinking of collecting a bunch of barbies and hang them from the ceiling of their room. While they are sleeping.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


(Leafwood Publishers, October 2008)

A wonderful new gift book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, is available in October for Christmas giving. Today, I’ve invited the six coauthors to share their unique story of how they came together to publish this exciting book full of stories, recipes, tips for simplifying the holidays and so much more (click on bookcover to see the trailer!).

First, let me introduce Cathy Messecar, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen and Karen Robbins. Thank you for being here today, ladies.

Karen: Thank you for the invitation.

You are from three different areas of the country—Texas, California, and Ohio. How did you all meet?

Terra: We all six joined The Writers View, an online group for professional Christian writers. Trish and Brenda met in person in 2004 for lunch, I understand, and on 9/18/04, after reading a post Brenda sent to TWV, I sent an email to Brenda, asking if she would like to join with me and walk alongside each other, as a Barnabas group. Brenda said yes that same day, and suggested Trish too. Very quickly Cathy, Leslie and Karen joined in and our stalwart band of six was formed. Living in California, I was so happy to find 5 Barnabas writers in other states so we could bring together a wealth of different viewpoints and expertise

Brenda: Actually, We haven’t met. We’re all great colleagues and friends via the internet. Four years ago Terra and I formed a dyad to support each other as Christians who write in the secular markets. Along came Trish, Cathy, Karen, and Leslie (not necessarily in that order) and we formed a close knit bond of support, creative energy, and professional accountability.

Karen: I met Trish through an online forum called The Writers View and she invited me to join the group.

Trish: Although we belong to the same Yahoo writing group, we met one by one online. Eventually, the six of us decided that since we all write as Christians for a secular market through magazine articles and newspaper columns, we could support and encourage one another.

Leslie: Though we met virtually through The Writers View, I have been blessed to give and get hugs from Trish (at a MOPS conference), Cathy (in the area on business) and Karen (in town for a writers' conference). I can’t wait to meet Terra and Brenda face-to-face, though I feel as though I already know them!

How did you come up with the idea to do a book together?

Brenda: The book is Cathy’s brainchild. She mentioned the concept of telling stories of events that happened for the first time at Christmas and sharing holiday historical tidbits and recipes and each said, “If you need any help, let me know.” That offer morphed into each of us equally contributing and co-authoring A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Trish: Yep, Cathy came up with the idea and the title, and asked us if we wanted to join her on this project. Of course, we said Yes!

Terra: Cathy mentioned the idea for a Christmas book to the group, and someone (I think it was Leslie) suggested that maybe our group could all write the book together. Cathy agreed to lead the way on the project. The earliest email I have on this is from 9/7/05, which shows that this has been a three year collaboration from idea to publication.

Karen: (Chuckling) Terra is a librarian and keeps our historical records by saving our e-mails.

Leslie: Actually, Terra, I wrote that comment (in a group e-mail) kind of tongue-in-cheek. Cathy, the ultra-sweet person she is, took my joking at face value and here we are. However, I believe God prompted the passion and ideas we all bring to the project and that He will do mighty things as a result of our collaboration!

Why did you decide on a Christmas theme?

Brenda: It was Cathy’s concept to write a book centering on Christmas.

Cathy: For several years, I’d been thinking about Christmas as a threshold to introduce Jesus to folks who aren’t familiar with him, and I love a simpler Christmas with the emphasis on family, friends and doing for others. I knew of some families who had experienced “firsts” at Christmas—reunions, losses, special surprises—and I wanted to collect those stories.

Terra: Cathy’s idea immediately resonated with me because Christmas books are “a way past watchful dragons,” as C. S. Lewis wrote. Many people won’t buy a book about being a Christian, but will buy a holiday and family fun book, thus the “past watchful dragons.” People who want to grow in their faith, and people who have no faith but celebrate Christmas will buy our book and hopefully be led to put the focus back on Christ for the holiday, and for their lives.

Leslie: Though Cathy birthed the idea, the rest of us quickly hopped on board. Not only is Christmas special to me—especially now that I have a family of my own—but also that particular holiday cries out to be simplified, to return to the meaningful aspects of celebration, and to lose some of the hype and commercialism.

Tell me a little about what is in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts? What is your favorite part?

Cathy: I like that you can read one chapter in about 15 minutes and, with all the different suggestions, it feels like Christmas Eve. Makes you want to set up the nativity! Many of the suggestions for family activities can be adapted for any family get-together.

Karen: There are heartwarming stories about things that happened for the first time at Christmas. For instance, one of my stories is about the first Christmas with our adopted children. And the book is pretty. When I first saw the colorful pages and drawings, I fell in love with the illustrator’s work.

Brenda: I don’t have a favorite part – I love it all!

Terra: I like the way the parts are woven into a seamless whole, like a patchwork quilt, that is stronger and more beautiful than the parts.

Trish: It’s like everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas, all the best tips and recipes, and neat stories all wrapped up in this perfect little package.

Leslie: I love reading the special stories, hints, recipes—whatever—and imagining the precious family time that precipitated each moment. Plus, the book is gorgeous, beautifully printed, truly something to be proud of. And we are.

I’ve heard that the book is really a nice gift book; can you tell me a little about the format?

Cathy: Yes, it’s a hardbound book, full color interior. The layout makes it easy to read. It has a definite scrapbooky look on the interior. Different logos identify sections, such as an oilcloth-look Christmas stocking appears beside the “Stocking Stuffer Tradition” (help for connecting family members), and the “Cookie Canister” recipes are on a recipe card, and the back ground of “A Gift For You” is a gift box with bow. It’s a classy gift that they can be placed on a coffee table or in a guest bedroom during the holiday season.

Brenda: I like to describe it as a Starbuck’s sorta gift book. It’s high quality, crisp, and practical.

With six different personalities and areas of ministry, how did you manage to put this all together and still remain friends?

Karen: We pray a lot for each other and it helps that none of us have an over-inflated ego.

Cathy: There were no squabbles. Surely, we had differing opinions, but we knew that any of us could suggest an idea for this book and that each idea would get fair reviews from others. We actually voted on some aspects—everyone in favor say, “Aye.” If you’ve ever watched women at a Dutch treat luncheon when they divide up a meal ticket, it can be intense as they split the ticket down to the penny. As the project came together, I was in awe of my gracious coauthors, unselfish women who respect each other.
For some decisions, we did a round robin—things like book title and chapter titles and what categories to put into the book. Then, as compiler, I’d send out a list of needs to The Word Quilters, that’s what we call ourselves. For instance in a section we call “Peppermints for Little Ones” (hints for children’s activities), I’d put out a call, and the WQs sent in their hints, and then I put them into appropriate chapters.

Brenda: (Smiling) Are we still friends? Seriously, we each have our own platform, ministry, and family life, and those interests kept this project in perspective – it was important but not the only thing on our plates. No one was so enmeshed in this project that she campaigned for her own way. We never had a bitter disagreement or insistence to be “right.”

Terra: We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.We offer support and ideas for our separate writing projects and for personal prayer requests. I love these ladies, and I have only met one of them in person. So far, Karen is the only one who has met each of us, and one day we hope to meet in person, in a circle of friendship and love.

Trish: I think we are all very flexible and forgiving. We do have a variety of personalities here, but God has worked amazing things through our little group.

Leslie: Though I have seven non-fiction projects in various stages of completion, I could not be more thankful that this is the one to reach publication first. I am truly blessed to have worked with these women, learned from them, watched as they’ve poured heart and soul into crafting a product that will impact lives for the Lord.

Where can my readers get a copy of SOCF?

Cathy: The coauthors will all have a supply, plus our publisher, Leafwood Publishers, will have plenty of copies and discounts for buying five or more. Or they can be ordered at most online stores or by your local bookstore.

Karen: And anyone who leaves a comment here can be entered in a drawing for a free book and a gift basket worth $200! For a list of its contents, check our blog, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. And while you're there, leave another comment and increase your chances of winning!

Tell me more about your blog.

Karen: We started our blog in July and it is accumulating a wealth of information about Christmas. Each of us posts one day a week following the theme for that week. Watch for new recipes, tips, ways to simplify, stories, etc., similar to what is in our book.

Leslie: Ooh, ooh, let me answer this one. I’m probably the newest to blogging among the group, but I LOVE it. I’ve enjoyed posting and receiving comments back from readers. What an amazing adventure having an online voice can be! This blog will focus on a different theme each week—anything from tips to avoid overeating during the holidays to how to give a guest room special touches—and expand on the material in the book. I think readers will get to know the authors’ individual personalities and connect on a more personal level. Plus, they get that many more ideas, information, inspiration (!) at no additional cost.

WQs: As an added bonus for inviting us to your blog, we’d like to pass along this Christmas tidbit to you and your readers:

Enjoy a blessed Christmas this year! And thanks for inviting us to share our book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, with you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sweet Laughter

My sister-in-law, Janet, is at home recovering from a single mastectomy due to breast cancer. These last few weeks of testing, diagnosis and surgery were packed with fear and anxiety. Through it all, however, one thing was constant—the laughter that kept breaking through the tears of her friends and family, those that love her and weathered this emotional hurricane with her.

When I talked to Janet the day she received the bad news there were tears but as impossible as it seems, Janet laughed too. One of her biggest comforts was her friend, Jonesa, who had already gone through having breast cancer and a mastectomy. Jonesa’s husband was a source of comfort too who sagely put it all into perspective by saying, “It’s just a tittie.” That funny and crude way of putting things became the rallying cry of Janet and her quirky group of friends and family.

When I arrived at the hospital on the day of the surgery I wasn’t sure where to go but I followed the laughter echoing through the halls to a waiting room. Sure enough, there were Janet’s prayer warriors making jokes and keeping it light. “It’s just a tittie.” was said over and over to everyone’s amusement if someone dropped a pen or tripped on a rug. It summed up the attitude in the waiting room perfectly. We were not there to agonize over the insignificant while we are so blessed with the things that matter—friends, family, and love. Janet soared through surgery and reconstruction no doubt due to the love and prayers that encircled her.

I know some people were confused by the hilarity that thrived during such a serious time but I am convinced the sweetest laughter is that which rises up from among tears and anxiety. It is born from the joy of the heart and brings with it the beginning of hope. To possess this kind of laughter and to be surrounded by people who can impart this kind of joy is a gift and a real blessing from the Lord. He is the One we know is with us in our tears but He is also with us in our laughter.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Magic in the Morning

Because we were late getting in from the Houston Rodeo last Thursday night, I let the boys sleep in on Friday morning and was going to take them to school late. They are early birds, though, and got up just a little later than usual - too late to ride the bus but early enough for me to get them to school just before the tardy bell. It was cold morning with a steady drizzle falling on my windshield. Sam asked a funny question, “Mom, why does the rain go upward before it hits the car?” I had to look hard for a moment before I could see what he was talking about. As we drove down the road the rain would sometimes turn into snowflakes that would bounce off the cushion of air around the car before hitting the window and instantly melting.

Snowflakes in southeast Texas! What a sight! My kiddos were so excited because they have never experienced snow before. It was like the morning had been sprinkled with a little magic. We made a game out of looking hard for the elusive snowflakes. The closer we got to the schools, however, luck was on our side and there were very visible flurries right over the two campuses. The boys each got to get out and stand in the snowfall.

Their excitement at such a small amount of snow made me long to take them back in time to my childhood and let them experience actual snowfall. Ah, the memories of going to bed with high hopes after smelling snow on the night air and waking up to a difference in the light, rushing to the window to see our mundane yard transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland, pulling plastic sandwich bags over three pair of socks and stuffing it all into boots so we could go out to play. I want my kids to experience snowmen, snowball fights, snow-forts, snow-angels and the sweet comfort of hot chocolate while thawing their feet by the fire.

I guess it’s not to be since we live in Texas which is for the best, I think, since my memories of snow have only to do with sleds and snowmen and not with snow shovels and ice-scrapers. The best we can hope for here is the occasional appearance of the mysterious white stuff. It’s funny how something so small could change a cold miserable morning into something exciting for my kids but the morning was magical and we will always remember it.