Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Unanswered Prayers

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him."  1 John 5: 14-15

WARNING: Today’s post will be decidedly female. It will talk about things that cause some men to run for the hills. If you are that man, please run for the hills and spare yourself the agony and gruesomeness of all things womanly. This concludes my public service announcement.

A teenage friend of mine is questioning whether or not God hears her prayers. Now I don’t know what she’s been praying about, or who, or why, but I’ve referred her to Garth Brooks’ words of wisdom.

Sing along now… “Some of God’s greatest gifts… are unanswered prayers.”

And I know this to be true because I, myself, prayed very hard about something for years and years, and my will was not to be.

It was about the time of fifth grade when they started showing us videos and such at school. We had to watch the boy version and then the girl version. Everyone got both sides of the story when it came to puberty.

I was aghast!

Yes, I knew about such things because I had a mother myself, but the thing she called Womanly Disease was not something I wanted any part of. I was already horrified that it had come into question at what age I should give up my tank tops for a full fledged BRA, and didn’t see that becoming a “woman” held anything good or interesting that I wanted to have a part in.

Plus, it appeared from the movies that the boys got the better end of the bargain.

I remember praying, and praying hard, each night that God had made me different. That I didn’t even have those parts they talked about in the movies shown at school. That I would never be able to have children. That the Womanly Disease would never visit me.

It began to look promising sometime around entering junior high. Most of my friends were wearing full-fledged boulder holders and mine still had the training wheels. Most of my friends had to start carrying a purse to hide the unmentionables necessary to take care of the dreaded Womanly Disease. It looked like I’d dodged the bullet. God had come through for me after all! I was different! I knew it!

But then, sometime in my seventh grade year, on the night of a lunar eclipse I remember standing out in the street to watch, I was made to realize I was just like everyone else.


No joyous celebration of womanhood here.

I kept up my opinion on the never having children for a decade more, but then changed my mind. I began to pray for children. I had come full circle.

So, in the end, I’m thankful that God’s will and my own didn’t line up when I was a teenager. My life would be quite different now. Maybe not worse, but definitely different. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to become someone’s mother and see the world through their eyes. I’m thankful for all the exploration, discovery, and satisfaction that has come with the title, and the two-way love that we share for each other. I’m thankful that two little people in this world think the world of me. I hope never to disappoint them with my character. I feel that I do so much more good because of them then I ever would have without them.

Thanks be to God for unanswered prayers, and for already knowing me later in life when I was but a teenager! And to all you teenagers out there, as hard as it might be to take, sometimes the answer is “No!”

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Good For Me, Right?

"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart."  Proverbs 21:2

Ok, I know you’re never supposed to ask a woman her weight, but I’m just going to lay it all out …

I am 5’9” tall and I weigh 160 pounds. Yes, I know, Amazon woman.

I’m never more painfully aware of my size than when I outweigh my husband. That is currently not the case (he has me by 3 pounds), but 160 is my limit. I don’t want to weigh anymore! I already weigh as much as a man! Plus, I have had some excess baggage that I blame on my second child. Ok, so it has been six years, but still…

Last week I joined the local YMCA. I did my first, maiden voyage into the land of “group exercise” precisely one week ago today. The class was called Body Sculpt. I had no idea what to expect, except that it was supposed to be a “total body workout”. About ten people showed up for the class, and I asked around to see what I was supposed to do. I had to pick out a couple of weights, a step, and an elastic band. I positioned myself in the back of the room so that it would be less noticeable if I dropped dead.

The instructor was a small, energetic woman who looked like she’d never had a Snickers bar in her life. Halfway through she was worried about what the humidity was doing to her curly hair. I was concerned that I might never use my legs again. The climactic moment in the class came when we hooked the handles of the elastic bands over our shoes, laid on our backs, and stuck our legs in the sky for some V-shaped repetition work. For one, the step was too short for me, and my head lolled back because by this time I was too weak to hold my own head up. And secondly, my legs should not be over my head… ever. Especially not tied to the bands of death.

Hardly anyone spoke in this class and the mood was funeral-like when the class finally ended. We all shuffled to our cars, and, I suspect, collapsed into them.

As the day wore on, I began to notice aches and pains sneaking up on me. My legs were gearing up for their revenge. The next morning I was pretty sure I had overdone it. With every step, the little muscles on the sides of each thigh felt like my flesh was being torn from the bone. I thought I needed a walker. The muscles that were the worst were the ones you use going down stairs and standing from a seated position. This made using the restroom interesting to say the least. I considered tying a rope from the vanity to as an aid in standing.

After a day of dying, I decided that maybe I needed something to stretch me out, but with no-impact since I didn’t think I could take anymore. My two options were: Zumba (which my friends were going to), or Water Aerobics (which I suspected to be an old lady class).

I chose the Water Aerobics class, hoping they would just let me float. Yes, I was right about the class. Most everyone is at least 30 years older than I, but there are some younger people depending on the day of week. The people in this class talk and laugh and sing and have a good time. I’m pretty sure we only know what the instructor wants us to do about half of the time. We use pool noodles and Styrofoam weights. More my speed after the Body Sculpt experience.

So I decided that maybe it would be a good idea to do one “hard” exercise class a week and see how it goes. I survived the Body Sculpt class with about three days of soreness and hadn’t had any discomfort from three days of Water Aerobics, so I set my sights on Kickboxing.

Ok, so I’ve done taekwondo with my son for about a year, so I was kind of cheating, hoping at least a few of my muscles would have been retained in the month or so since we’d been. The biggest differences about this class was that I had shoes on, and there was music, and no waiting around for the other people to go, which meant I was going the entire hour. We kicked and punched the bag and did some skipping around, and the instructor was again a very petite lady who didn’t feel the same way about Oreo cookies that I feel. Or if she did, it didn’t show.

What was most distinct about this class was that it was the most sweating I have ever done in all of my life. Thank goodness my t-shirt was slightly absorbent. I wiped my brow with my sleeve and literally slung sweat onto the floor. My hair was wet in the back like I’d been in the pool. My gloves actually foamed as I punched the bag. It was disgusting! But I was amazed by my sweating skills nonetheless.

I’ve weighed myself every morning:

Thursday – 160.

Friday – 160.

Saturday – 160.

Sunday – 160.

Monday – 160.

Tuesday – 160.

Wednesday – 160.

I estimate that my activity level has increase 200% in the past week. I estimate that I’m consuming the same or fewer calories each day. I estimate that I don’t know if I’m losing inches because I’m getting really comfortable in my elastic band workout pants.

And so it was this morning, getting out of bed with an aching hiney from all the kicking yesterday, that I resolved to violently throw my bathroom scale out the window if that stupid number refused to move once again!

Thursday – 158.

So I went to Water Aerobics instead. Less impact than stomping on a scale until I break it into a hundred million pieces. Plus it might make me sweaty!

May your day be filled with minor victories and enjoyable challenges.

And perhaps an Oreo cookie or two.

Or at least a Dr. Pepper.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

El Diablo

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."  Galatians 6:1

Do you have an alter-ego? My dog does. His real name is Lucky. Most of the time he’s a big, sweet, lovable dog.

Lucky likes to just sit by me. He likes to lean on me if I’m not touching him. He lays his big slobbery head on my lap and leaves me looking like I’ve been slimed. He watches the kids and stays with them wherever they might be playing in the yard. He watches the neighbor cows and if they make one wrong move, he’s right up to the fence barking them back into order. When I try to catch Roany Pony, he corners him for me, and miraculously, Roany immediately gives up when Lucky is on the job.


Lucky has another side. One where the day-to-day business of being a good boy catches up with him, and he just can’t help himself. One that says, “It’s okay if I tear up the trash and steal the neighbor’s stuff.” One that has earned him the nickname El Diablo.

El Diablo only comes out when Lucky is without direct supervision. El Diablo knocks over the trash can and spreads a week’s worth of garbage on the lawn in search of a lone McNugget. El Diablo steals the neighbor’s cigarettes and spreads them on my lawn for no good reason. And last night El Diablo stole the neighbor’s solar lamp (see picture) and gave me a weird freak out moment when I saw something glowing on my lawn. The aliens have returned….

El Diablo - chronic kleptomaniac.

The funny thing about El Diablo is that he disappears immediately whenever he’s caught. Lucky is extremely remorseful for anything El Diablo might have done and hangs his head in shame. We go through the “leave it” routine taught to us at obedience class, and Lucky swears with his face that he’ll never touch it again. And that’s been the case with the newspaper he kept stealing from our newspaper holder thingy and chewing up on the driveway.

But even Lucky has his weaknesses. He can’t resist a good chicken on the foot. He can’t resist leftover ice cream or popsicles in the garage trash can. And he can’t be trusted not to drink out of the swimming pool even though the horse’s water would be more convenient, one would think.

It is with those things that the metamorphosis takes place and Lucky becomes El Diablo.

I’m a lot like Lucky. I have an alter-ego named The Napper. I should be more productive. I should do laundry and wash dishes while the kids are at school. I should be well ahead on the task to provide an evening meal for my family. But sometimes the call to Slumberland is just too strong. Sometimes I have to lie down. Sometimes I think it will only be for a minute…

The Napper – borderline narcoleptic.

So what’s your alter-ego? I’m guessing you have one. Might be The Meanie, The Procrastinator, The Whiner. I guess it all depends on what your weakness is. How we act without supervision is just as much a part of our personality as the face we put on for the public.

Now, my secret is out: I’m lazy… but at least I don’t steal!

I'm a good sinner!  Really, I am!! 

And to my neighbor: I’ll put the lamp in your mailbox. Sorry!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7

My 8YO started third grade last week. They had their first day of PE yesterday and it was a rousing game of dodge ball between his class and a neighboring class that has PE at the same time. His arch-nemesis, Billy*, is in the other class.

I’ve known about the contention between my son and Billy ever since Kindergarten. Billy is a cute, red-headed, athletic little boy who draws a crowd. My son tried initially to make friends with him, but something went sour. Contempt for him filled the spot where friendship might once have lain. My son really dislikes him, and this is the fourth year for these feelings, so I’m thinking the condition could be permanent without Divine intervention.

Anyway, this morning’s conversation about the dodge ball game went like this:

“Yesterday, during dodge ball, someone from the other class hit me in the leg with a ball and I fell down on my elbow and shoulder on the floor. It was just like concrete, and I had to get an ice pack from the nurse. And then, guess what?! Someone from MY class hit Billy on the leg with the ball, and the SAME thing happened to him! You know what that is? That’s PAYBACK!”

Payback. A new word in his vocabulary.

“That’s payback from last year when one of his guys tripped me and made me fall down.”

I remember.

I remember him coming home mad at Billy (again) because he’d tried once again to play with him on the playground. One of Billy’s cronies had decided not to let my son play for one reason or another and purposely tripped him. The other kid had gotten in trouble and had to sit on the bench. Billy was not directly involved, but my words of advice were the same, “Just stay away from him.”

I tried, once again, to explain to my son that there are some people with whom he will probably never get along. There are some kids who will never be nice to him. There are some people who will always be difficult to deal with. In my opinion, avoidance is better than fighting in a public school setting.

And so today, I tried to explain that even if something like that happens to someone he doesn’t particularly care for, he’s not to laugh or make fun of the person it happened to. I explained that he should treat people the way he wants to be treated, and even though Billy’s group doesn’t always emulate that, he should or else he’s just as bad as he thinks they are.

Nevertheless, today’s conversation on paybacks was an eye-opener that my kid is growing up. Sad to think that building hostility and desire for revenge is my first notable sign of emotional growth, but that’s what it was. I wouldn’t have imagined yesterday that he had a jealous bone in his body; that he held a grudge; that he didn’t forgive. But today’s conversation was a window into the child I obviously don’t know; the one whose feelings on some things are private; the one that he’s growing into despite my best efforts to keep him small and innocent.

It made me painfully aware of my hand in the effort to mold him into a respectable, godly man. Me, with my own grudges, private revenge harborings, and forgiving and forgetting issues. Thankfully there is another hand, hopefully standing between my son and I on issues like these, who is Perfect and Unfailing. HIS hand will guide me. HIS hand will be my strength. And when I fail, hopefully HIS hand will be over my mouth in front of my son!

*Name changed to protect the innocent and to prevent incrimination just in case they eventually decide that they’re best friends.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Uninvited Guests

As I recently predicted, the neighbor goats have become a nuisance.  They are out nearly every day.  Most days they just hang out in their own front yard, but they've eaten all the flowers of an elderly neighbor, got penned up in the wrong pasture and had to be driven out by none other than yours truly, and have stopped at least a couple of cars trying to cross their path. 

Last night my goat deterrent system was in full force as they were trying to visit me. 

He's pretty fearless.  Well, until they lower their heads and act like they are going to butt him.  Then he runs away.  He waits a while and then tries again.  The goats are just as stubborn. 

They were determined to get into my pasture since we have a small dirt pile that is always fun for "kids" to climb.  My gate is a little low for them, so here's how baby maneuvered the gate. 

First it was lay down. 

Then it was fall over to slide under.  Mama goat just kind of got down and walked on her elbows, or stayed where she was on the other side of the fence, which is where she belonged in the first place!

Eventually they tired of my place and decided to dodge traffic on their way home.  They're pretty good at it since there isn't much traffic. 

Hey, wait a minute, is that little one sticking its tongue out at me?

Is this the equivalent of a obscene goat gesture? 

KIDS today!  Got to be diligent or they'll turn into juvenile delinquents. 

Let's hope my goat deterrent doesn't make friends with the wrong crowd! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dirty Fun

One of my favorite things to do in the summer when I was a kid was to dig out in the yard with my friend Keith and play GI Joes.  We built trenches and bunkers and had rivers when we could get the hose out.  We had them climb on the clothesline and maybe even parachuted them a few times out of the second story window of Keith's house. 

Now my kids have never really been into GI Joes, but my cousin, Jeremy, went to a garage sale a year or so ago and bought my boys a whole box of them for $1.00.  Several weeks ago, I suggested that they take a few toys outside and play with them there.  They took the GI Joe guys. 

Here's what the scene was today.

A terrible wreck and everyone inside fell out because they weren't wearing their seatbelts.

They all landed in the water, but then decided it could be fun because they could go swimming.

This guy was probably not having much fun.  Kind of looks like a reoccuring dream of mine.

Somebody fell in a hole. 

After swimming, there was a dogpile on the shore. 

Now they didn't quite have down the elaborate story lines that Keith and I mastered over the years.  They've not learned yet how to dig an underground tunnel, or that spoons can be used for more intricate digging. 

But I'd say they've got the getting dirty part down!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Egg-periment!

So last night I went out to gather the eggs and I ended up with three.  One was nice and "clean", and the other two were covered in dried, caked-on poop.  No amount of initial rinsing would free these eggs from their poopy encasement. 

I put them in the sink in a cup of water to soak and then I promptly forgot about them.  Always nice to surprise yourself with a cup full of poopy eggs in the morning! 

They were much cleaner, which is the good news.  The bad news is I'd left them out all night and now wouldn't be able to eat them. 

Well, maybe if I were a real farmer... 

So, with the somewhat disappointing results of my outdoor egg frying yesterday, I decided to do another science induced egg-periment with these two eggs. 

I'd heard you could cook fish in the dishwasher, so I decided to try eggs. 

I put each one in a baggie so that if they didn't survive the experiment intact, no harm, no foul for the dishwasher.  The hub said he thought the baggies would melt.  Did they?  Read on.

I put this guy in the silverware rack on the bottom of the dishwasher.

And this guy ended up on the top rack eventually covered by my over sized frying pan that is a pain to position in the dishwasher.

Then I poured in the detergent, set the cycle, and walked away.

I left the whole mess alone until the dishes had cooled completely.  Several hours had passed.  My dishwasher has one of those "sanitize" modes where the temperature gets up to 165 degrees or so. 

And the result was...

The baggies did not melt and the silverware rack egg looked like this inside:

Much more cooking than I achieved outside yesterday, but still a nasty, slimy mess.  Not exactly over-easy, for sure. 

But, surprisingly, the top rack egg looked like this:

Enough cooking occurred on the top rack that the yolk held its shape.  I thought that was pretty impressive and a bit surprising since I would have guessed the bottom rack to have been the hot spot. 

Don't get me wrong, I still wouldn't eat it.  But if you've ever wondered what would happen if you stuck an egg in the dishwasher, now you know. 

Do I not have better things to do?  Not really. 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frying Eggs

"...The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day."  Joshua 4:13

It is no secret that it has been HOT here for several weeks.  The newsman was so excited that today we quite possibly had a chance to break the all-time hottest ever record in the state of Oklahoma of 115 degrees.  I think we may have hit 111 or 112 officially, so there goes the record, but nevertheless it was one HOT day. 

And so, lacking anything else truly exciting to do, I decided to try to fry an egg outside. 

One of my friends on Facebook tried it yesterday when it was 112 on brand new asphalt and got nothing, so I was thinking I had to change my strategy rather than try it on the bare sidewalk.  My best idea was pre-heating...

Notice:  black, non-stick, all metal.  I'm no dummy.  I know what gets hot.  I've also strategically placed it on the roof of my well house, tipped toward the sun.  I left it for 30 minutes to pre-heat. 

Then I took the kids out to witness what I was sure would be an ever so spectacular example of just how hot it truly was.

I had the egg.

I had a potholder so my delicate fingers wouldn't be burned by what appeared to be quite the red-hot pan.

I took my pre-heated pan over to a patch of concrete that is fairly level and would have more exposure to the rest of the afternoon sun. 

I cracked the egg.

Poured it into the pan. 



Not the fabulous egg frying experience the kids and I were hoping for! 

Maybe it takes time, I thought.

Maybe I should leave it out here in the sun for a little longer.

So I put it back on the concrete and decided to check on it later.  Then I went back to my friend the air conditioner and read myself into a nap. 

On my way out to pick up pizza, (it's too hot to cook, you know) I remembered to check on the egg. 

And guess what?

The neighbor dog had eaten it! 

But in all fairness, it does not appear to have shown any signs of cooking before it was consumed. 

I guess the old cliche is false.  It is NOT hot enough to fry an egg. 

I guess I'll quit complaining now. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quiet Time

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

It is oddly quiet in my house.

I chose today to be the day that I attempted to set an alarm clock for myself so that I could condition myself for the onset of school drop-offs next week.

It worked and I was promptly up at 7:00 am.

The hub left for work. I’ve read some, read some email, and had a phone call from a friend who was calling me from TIMES SQUARE!! on her fabulous vacation, and still… silence.

I’m sure it won’t last much longer.

I’ve already had over an hour of it.

And just think, come next week, every morning will be like this after I drop the kids off at school.

Makes me happy, and sad, and a little too aware of how my life lacks direction.

“A sailboat without a breeze.”

That’s what someone said last week.

And he’ll never live it down!

Oh wait, here come my breezes now…