Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Farting Is An Unacceptable Way to Relate to People

Apparently, farting noises are in vogue.  At least, they are in high school.

So it shouldn't have shocked me when one of my students made a farting noise just as another student bent over to pick something up.  And I probably shouldn't have exploded, but I'm really tired of the sound effects and the constant need to belittle other people.

So I did.  I exploded.  I told the entire class that I NEVER want to hear any sound effects in my room again (of course, some of this goes back to my first semester here and a wiley group of young men who only spoke in sound effects...but I digress).  After my tirade, what did my little offender do?

"I didn't do it, Mrs. House."  The other kids in the room, EVERY KID, turned around and said, "Yes, you did.  The rest of us were talking."

Eventually he owned up, stayed after class and told me he hated being made fun of so he did it to "get back" at the other kid.

Now there's a lot more to this story, but I should first tell you that the student who was "getting back" at the other student constantly makes a spectacle of himself.  He invites students to laugh at him.  But, like most of us, he only wants people to laugh at him on his own terms.  He's constantly trying to be something else or compete with his classmates to be better at something, and the good majority of them don't really know how to respond.  If they laugh, he's upset because they are making fun of him.  If they don't laugh, he's upset because they don't like him because they don't find him funny.  If he's not better at something, they have no reason to like him.

Suffice it to say that the kid is an insecure mess.  Granted, that's likely what we expect out of a 14-year-old.  It's less appealing when it comes from an adult.

But it happens into adulthood.  People are mocked.  Sometimes they are left out.  Occasionally, they are targeted.  And sometimes they are paranoid.

I hate all of those things.  I do.  Personally, it's one of the reasons I don't do things with a lot of people (alright, alright.  I just don't go out at all, mostly.  I'm a house rat.  I won't lie).  Jealousy comes when you aren't even trying to make someone else jealous or possessive, and it's likely that I'm just as guilty as the next person.

But I'm more guilty of paranoia.  In an attempt to find a reason for all things, I've noted that I'm more paranoid in the days that surround my monthly visitor.  Ladies, some of you will likely understand this concept.  I tend to be more tired, more suspicious and down more during this time than any other time.  Some of it is due to hormones.  A lot of those hormone fluctuations are due to PCOS.

It's been difficult to understand, but most of the information I've read about PCOS indicates a lack of peaks and dips when it comes to hormones.  That would explain my supreme inability to deal with them when they come along.  But part of me is just a little joyful that I'm experiencing them now because it means my body *might* be functioning the way it's meant to.

Not that it feels good to be paranoid, ya'll.  Paranoia stinks.  However, it's definitely another marker in the lesson that my feelings are never quite reliable anyway.

So that's where I stand.  Maybe my 14-year-old boy also has hormone fluctuations?

On another note, I've decided I'm going to start collecting "hosting" dishes so I can throw a once-a-month party at my house.  Every woman wants a reason to have the girls over.  So if you want to be one of my girls, feel free to sign the list and make suggestions for serving dishes.  Chances are, they'll be sunflower colored, but I'd be glad to choose coordinating colors to spice up the offerings (like red.  I love red.  A lot.).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anticipation? Or Anticipation!

I love a little anticipation.  There's nothing like getting your hopes all wound around something that makes you lick your lips because you can almost taste the excitement.

But it's a little weird when you get anticipate...nothing?  Well, not nothing, exactly.  It's something.  But it's a something you can't put your finger on.

I'm excited for something.  I got home today and found myself oddly excited for...well, you get it.  For something that hasn't happened.  The feeling is so far beyond hope and I don't know how else to identify it.  Am I the only one camping out on this limb?


On another note, my orders from Target have started arriving.  Today I received the baskets for my entertainment center (YAY!).  They are super cute and look so organized in there.  Next, I have tables and something for my laundry room showing up.  I'm PUMPED.


If you read Wednesday Hodgepodge, you'll know that I once walked around Target with my dress tucked in the back of my pantyhose.  Generally, I say something that ends up being super embarrassing.  This was the time I managed to DO something.

A Target employee was kind enough to rectify the problem for me.  But not before I walked around the entire store.  And not before I thought I was going to be raped by the person who walked up behind me.

But this is one of the major reasons I no longer wear pantyhose.  Ever.

Wednesday Hodgepodge 3/30


1. April rolls in at the end of this week and in celebration of that infamous date (April 1) answer this question-what is something foolish you've done?

Foolishness follows me.  It might be easier to name something I've done that didn't fall in the foolish department.  But I certainly felt like a Mensa candidate when I backed into a guy at Target.  Or when I walked around Target with my dress tucked in the back of my pantyhose.  Or when I pantsed a kid at a party.  Or when I told this boy he looked like a girl I knew.

Right.  You see the pattern?

2. With April comes Easter and that classic edible treat known as tell me...what's your favorite way to eat/fix chicken? That's wasn't what you were expecting was it? I 'fooled' you. teehee

I'm not gonna lie here:  I like it in a pot pie.  I don't fix said pot pie often because, HELLO?  My hips?  Mostly, I end up cutting it up and using in various recipes.  Today I'll be eating Greek Pitas (recipe modified but courtesy of Our Front Door).
But mostly, I don't eat a lot of chicken.  I don't really eat a ton of meat.  I'm fun like that.

3. What's the best museum you've ever visited? Or your favorite? Or the one you'd most like to visit?

Don't make fun:  The City Museum in St. Louis.  It's mostly for kids, but there was all sorts of crazy interactive stuff--and stuff to climb on!  I may be 30 years old, but I still have to beat myself away from touching things I'm not supposed to.  And in museums, that attribute makes the guards all jumpy.  So they follow me around and then I have a miserable time.
But be honest with me--haven't you ever just wanted to run your fingers over a Monet?  FEEL the brush strokes?  Yeah.  Me, too.

4. You know what they say about April showers....what's your preference-a bath or a shower?

In my attempt to find a way to relax, I've been taking a bath every night and reading in the tub.  So far?  Mild success.

5. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"-fact or fiction? Why?

You know, I had a bad experience with absence and a boyfriend.  I'm gonna leave this question alone.

EXCEPT TO SAY that sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder of someone else.  So I guess it's fact either way you look at it.

6. What's your favorite product made/grown in your home state/province?

What do we produce in Illinois?  Corn?  I like corn.  Can I count that?

7. What is going on in the world today that affects you the most?

To be honest, most of it affects me because I have students who are affected by so many different aspects of the economical crisis.  It worries me that there are families who have lost jobs and insurance.  It concerns me that gas here has jumped $1 in six months.  I'm concerned that none of my students can find jobs because adults are hanging on to their full-time employment at McDonald's.
It's worrisome all around.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Greek Pitas rock.  I ate them last night.  Oh, and I forgot about Wednesday Hodgepodge until this morning so my answers probably aren't all that entertaining :(

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It Holds Happiness in that One Horn

I am looking forward to the random unicorns that will now be making appearances at my house based on your promises alone.  By my estimation, I will be the proud owner of 3 unicorns some time before I die.

Kidding.  Only kidding.

But it's nice that someone else sees the worth of a one-horned animal that isn't a rhino.

And truthfully, couldn't you use a little more magic in your life?  If unicorns are representative of magic and happiness, I'm pretty sure I found the new decor for our front room.

Don't tell Favorite.  He won't find out until I put it up because he doesn't read my blog.

Shame on him, though.  One of my love languages might be reading my blog and he's totally missing out.  Although, he did build my house...  Eh.  That's a poor excuse to avoid my marvelous word weaving.

Marvelous, I tell you.

And speaking of marvelous, I've heard good things about MoroccanOil.  Apparently, it makes thin hair thick, thick hair managable, curly hair beautiful, dull hair shiny, shiny hair more noticable and adds bounce to any head of hair in dire need.  This is totally a product we need to test out, no? 

Apparently it's going to give you a completely new head of hair.  You're totally welcome.

Other amazing products?  Origins skintone correcting serum.

I might be posting all of this information about really amazing products because I just don't want to talk about the non-amazing things in my life today.  But I thank you for that opportunity...and I want to ask for your prayers as I embark on a journey to see what I hope is a truly amazing doctor.  I'm apprehensive.

But MoroccanOil might make up for it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

If You're Reading This

To the three people who actually read my blog (and boost my ego to make my writing feel worthwhile):  Thanks.  It's been a crappy day for NO reason whatsoever.  I think maybe I'm overly emotional.

Some days I'm like that, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter if I were in Australia or not.  It's just where I am.  As promised, I want my writing to reflect the way my life actually works.  I don't want to get on here and spout platitudes and pretend my life is all sunshine, unicorns and rainbows.

I mean, there's lots of glitter.  But we're a little short on unicorns these days.

Sometimes I write things, rethink them and delete them. 

What I need is to involve more people in my life.  I don't need more obligations, but I need the opportunity to use this house to cultivate deeper relationships.  I have room to host and I want to learn how.

And I totally need to focus on something else...because too much time plus a not so great day plus emotions that are constantly awry leads to holes that are difficult to dig out of.

And Lord knows I don't need any more of those.

So here's to talking to, writing to myself.  Which might be worse than actually talking to myself?  At least when I speak there are no witnesses here.  And the sad part is that this is totally not even the reason I would be identified as crazy.

Lesson Plan: Modern Day Slavery

I don't often share things I'm doing in my classes, but I'm particularly excited about this project.  I've developed it over the course of a few years and I feel like I've finally gotten it in the place it's going to work.

You are welcome to copy this assignment and use it in your classes.

Before starting this project, my class reads an excerpt of Fredrick Douglass' slave narrative.  We discuss how things must have been perceived in that time period and then discuss whether or not slavery has existed since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.  Most of the student indicate that slavery still exists, but only in other 3rd world countries.  In other words, we in the United States don't have to concern ourselves with things like this.

Then I give them this prompt (entire prompt is in bold):

Modern Day Slavery—Advertisements in Action, 150 pts                                      

According to United Nations’ estimates, there are more than 27 million slaves living in the world today.  Many Americans would likely find that statistic shocking because we tend to think of slavery as something that existed in our distant past rather than as something that is part of our present or our future.  Slavery exists despite the fact that it is prohibited by the United Nations and has been legally banned in almost every country in which it is practiced.  It takes a variety of different forms and affects people of all ages, races and sexes.

As Frederick Douglass once said:

“All the slaveholder asks of me is silence.  He does not ask me to go abroad and preach in favor of slavery; he does not ask any one to do that.  He would not say that slavery is a good thing, but the best under the circumstances.  The slaveholders want total darkness on the subject.  I expose slavery because to expose it is to kill it.  Slavery is one of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is death.  Expose slavery [to this light] and it dies.”

We will spend the next few days researching the problem of modern slavery and creating a print advertisement that will educate your peers on the subject.  Each group will be required to:

  • Create a print ad about modern day slavery.  Each ad should:
    • Include a visual element (picture, drawing, etc.)
    • Include copy (writing that informs the reader)
    • Include the nonprofit information (contact info, etc.)

  • Write a rationale for the print ad.  The aspects of your rationale should be presented on PowerPoint and copies of each slide should be turned in to me before your group presentation.  Each rationale should:
    • Include a summary of modern day slavery.  Consider the following questions:
      • How do people become slaves?  What are they promised?
      • What types of slavery are practiced in which areas of the world?
      • How many people are involved in slavery all over the world?
      • What is the overall treatment of modern day slaves?
    • Include a specific target audience.
      • Age
      • Sex
      • Occupation, etc.
      • What do they know?
      • What do they need to know?
    • Include a consumer promise.
      • Why do they need this information?
      • What should they do with this information?
    • Include where you would place your advertisement and why.
      • What media does your target use?
        • Magazines
        • Television
        • Radio
        • Etc.

Websites to try:

·         Print Ad—50 pts
o   Picture is neat, visually appealing and adequately relates to the subject matter—15 pts
o   Copy is grammatically correct, free from spelling errors and adequately informs the reader about the subject matter—25 pts
o   Nonprofit information is included somewhere on the ad and shares the name of the organization and contact information for that organization—10 pts

·         Rationale—65 pts
o   Grammatically correct and free from spelling errors—5 pts
o   Summary of modern day slavery explains how people become slaves, the types of slavery practiced, the number of people involved in the modern slave trade and the overall treatment of modern day slaves—25 pts
o   Target audience is identified by age, sex, and occupation.  Target also adequately reflects what this audience knows and what they need to know—15 pts
o   The consumer promise explains why the target audience needs this information and explains what the audience should do with this information—10 pts
o   Rationale includes an explanation of placement (which magazines and why)—5 pts
o   PowerPoint is visually appealing and shows obvious thought in progression of slides.  It should be easy for the audience to understand without becoming overwhelming and should also clearly explain how the advertisement suits the target audience and consumer promise—15 pts.
·         Presentation—25 pts
o   Each group member participated in the presentation by speaking—10 pts
o   Group members did not simply read information off of the slides.  Instead, bulleted information was supplemented through presentation and through cited resources—10 pts
o   Group members were dressed in a professional manner—5 pts

Keep in mind I have to discuss the purpose of advertising and how it's meant to work.  We look at sample ads and discuss who might have been the target audience and then try to discuss a target audience they can use for this project.

I feel like this project reaches so many different standards--it requires a group effort, research, presentation skills, thinking of how to appeal to others, etc.  Generally, I make this activity a campaign competition.  The team with the winning campaign receives a prize for every member (movie passes, etc.).

Feel free to modify to suit your purposes--oh, and feel free to comment so I can tweak the assignment or ask questions in the comments.  There's nothing I love more than comments :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Prayer Monday 3/28

Prayer Monday is not a closed group.  If you wish, you are more than welcome to join and link up to my blog.  Please do not feel obligated but feel welcome to join us :)

Ya'll, I don't want this to become a forum about me and my circumstances, but I do want to tell you that God has given me such a deep sense of freedom since I was willing to share what happened to Favorite and me.  I find it so bizarre that things you believe are meant to be "private" can sometimes become an overwhelming burden to carry.  Of course I realize that some things remain private.  I would never share everything about our circumstances with you because that would dishonor Favorite, but I don't feel "hunched over" by the situation any more.  I don't have to carry it alone.

But I hate that there are women out there who are in a deep cycle of shame over something they cannot help and are not meant to carry on their own.  Girls, if I can do anything to help bring them out of that horrific place, I would share my story to the ends of the earth and back.  I'm so glad to know many of you would, too.

I was blessed to learn during study tonight that we are meant to rest in God AS we live life.  To quote from our workbook:  "Trust in God is not a place of refuge to which the believer can retreat from the turmoil and the disappointments of the world in order to find there his satisfaction and rest.  Trust in God is a cell of organic life, a power-centre which does not remain in isolation, but cannot help bearing frust because it feels inwardly constrained to prove its living reality through acts of faith" (Artur Weiser as quoted in David:  Seeking a Heart Like His, Video Sesson Three).

*  God is working on my heart.
*  Freedom to share without feeling guilty over my circumstances.

Prayer Requests
*  That God would heal my body so it would work the way it's meant to
*  My Favorite
*  Our women's Bible study group--they are an incredible group of women, ya'll.  Incredible.
*  I am seeing a new doctor soon and I'm a bit apprehensive but hopeful
*  Personal request

I am so grateful for your presence in our lives.  I'm thankful you became the bread to feed hungry souls.  I'm thankful you do not leave us in our depravity.  I'm thankful you lift burdens and give us friends who lift us up.  I am so thankful for these women who pray with me on a regular basis--for Armanda, Sheena, Kate, Casey and Tara.  I just pray you bless their lives.  I pray you would give them a reason to seek you.  Drive us to our knees in prayer.  Give us a deep desire to seek you out in your word.  Don't quit on us even when we want to quit on you.  Meet us where we are--no matter where that might be.


Link Up.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Word Wisely Spoken

Today, I moved things from the trailer.  By myself.  With no help.  Completely solo.

I'm a little proud.  Unfortunately, I learned today that there will be no way I can refinish my white desk.  So back to the drawing board there.  I think I'll probably just put it in a yard sale.

Next week, I'm hoping to talk Favorite into moving my hope chest.  It takes a couple of grown men to carry it because it's really heavy, but I hate that it's in the trailer where the mice are taking over EVERY room--even rooms without food.  How gross is that?

But it's reminded me how necessary it is that we get down there are get things out of that trailer as soon as we possibly can.  And it's reminded me how thankful I am for this house.  So.  Very.  Thankful.

And I'm also thankful for a timely word.  I attended a women's conference today with several women from church and received so much encouragement--first from a lady I know well who paid me such high compliments I wondered if she really knew me and the second from a keynote speaker who probably had no idea she had words for me.

So tonight I revel in God's message for my heart, a warm bath and some relaxation.  It means I'm still a little behind on grading, but sanity is worth it, right?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Updates for the Masses

There probably won't be a longer post tonight because Favorite and I are on the back end of closing on our house.  By the back end, I do indeed mean the ass-end as there are a couple of papers we haven't had signed that must be finished before closing tomorrow.  It wouldn't be a big deal, but Favorite has quiet a few demands on his time, and since I'm working, I'm pretty well unavailable.  Pray that we can finish this mess before 4 pm tomorrow.

In other news...
I've added a couple of buttons to the sidebar.  First of all, if you want to follow my blog but don't have a google account, you can now follow my through email.  Just enter your email address in the box and press the button.

Secondly, I added my email address on the sidebar for anyone who wants to contact me without posting a comment.  Previously, I had put it under my "About Me" section, but that's not nearly as accessible as the sidebar.

Last, click on the picket fence icon to vote for me on their lifestyle blogs...just because it makes me happy.

And that's about it for today...

Thanks for the kind comments on previous posts.  So many women have dealt with the same thing, but it's still such an isolating experience.  Pray for those women whose hearts don't know Christ.  Pray for their families as they deal with losses that may impact their personal well-being.

Peace-Out (Bah ha.  Nothing like a throwback to the early 90s to finish a post).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge 3/23

1. Sunday was the first day of spring. So they say. Ahem.  What is your favorite outdoor springtime activity?
     --I like walking through the woods with Favorite and I love to be out on the water--swimming, boating, floating, whatever.  I LOVE the water.

2. Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?
     --Locally, Casey can just come and cook away.  Celebrity?  I'm not really sure.  Sara Snow, maybe?  I'm pretty enamored with her clean, organic food philosophy.

3. When did you last fly a kite?
     --In the literal or figurative sense?  Literally, it's been a while.  Figuratively, 5 minutes ago ;)

4. What topic puts you to sleep faster than anything?
     --This is a little bit of a loaded question for me.  I have a really short attention span and what I call "Sparkly Syndrome."  So if you're talking and I lose interest or I see something sparkly, I'm gone.  I don't do it on purpose and I'm really working on giving others the individual attention they deserve when we're together. 

Wait...what question am I supposed to be answering?

5. Which flowers do you associate with specific people, places, or events?
     --Old fashioned flags make me think of the ditch right across from my mom and dad's house.  In the spring, they bloom in all their purpley goodness.  I also love the orange flags that I always call Tiger Lilies (even though they aren't).  Those and the pink flags make me think of my hometown...not for any particular reason.  It's just because those are the things I associate with the warm seasons.

6. What significant historical events took place during your elementary school days?
     --The challenger exploded just before I started school.
     --We watched news updates on the Gulf War.
     --There was supposed to be some horrible earthquake on Dec. 3 (when I was in 5th grade).  Thanks to my mother's no-nonsense attitude, I was one of only 6 students who showed up to my class that day.
     --The Berlin Wall came down at some point.  All I remember is Hasselhoff and his awesome light-up jacket.  Anyone else have that memory?
     --I'm pretty sure the OJ Simpson trial started when I was in 8th grade and continued  Lord.  Who knows.
     --That's all I can really remember.  When I was in high school, there were a ton of school shootings--Columbine, Heath, etc.  And then 9/11 took place when I was in college.

7. Do you swear? Do you pseudo-swear? (You know crap, shoot, friggin'?)
     --Ya'll.  My mouth is my biggest downfall, but I'm trying to shut my mouth when I feel that stuff coming on.  It's a slow process so you'll have to be patient.  But I suppose the correct answer here is yes.  Yes, I do swear.  No, I am not proud of it.  Yes, I am in rehab.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I am not really a do-it-yourself-er and I'm trying to figure out how to apply a cherry stain over my white desk.  I don't think I can sand it because I'm pretty sure it's veneered, but I'm trying to figure it out.  It's a piece of furniture I want in my front room.  Oh, and I am SO ready to buy tables and and decorative baskets and finish out this living room.  It looks so good and I'm so proud of it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Are there titles that suit this sort of thing?

No one ever wants to be one of THOSE people, but I fear I've reached that status in a lot of respects.

First of all, I hate to make people feel badly.  Even though I come across with an I-Don't-Care attitude, I am truly bothered if I think I've insulted someone or put them in an awkward position.  An even more *awkward turtle* situation is to put them in an awkward position just by virtue of what you are. 

There are few people who can swing through the monkey bars of understanding on one side while remaining unapologetic for their current life situations.  I'm not one of those people.  I feel guilty for things over which I have no control.  So when you announce you are pregnant and I cry, I feel like a douchebag.  And that's totally not your fault.

On the flip side, it's not my fault either.  I didn't choose to cry.  It has become a spontaneous reaction to an announcement I've come to anticipate from any other breeding human being on the face of the planet.  I've even practiced my I'm-happy-for-you face in the mirror (it's scary).  But the funny thing, and the thing I have the most difficulty understanding myself, is that I'm generally VERY happy for those announcements.  I LOVE babies.  I'm excited that people get the opportunity to move into this stage of life and I understand it's scary, exhilerating and wonderful all at the same time.  I'm just sad for me. 

I haven't shared this information, but I feel like it's practically starting to ooze out of my pores so it's easier to lay my feelings out on the table instead of trying to bottle them in so they explode when I least expect it.  That gets a little too messy...especially in public...and it never happens when a restroom is available.

A year ago today I had one of those moments.  There were angels singing, shining spotlights and dozens of rainbows.  I was wearing a gorgeous sparkly gown and my husband danced into the house in a beautiful tuxedo and dipped me just before...Ok.  Wait.  It didn't really go down like that.  But there was a stick.  And that stick said "Pregnant."  So there might as well have been spotlights, rainbows and singing.

I've always wanted to be a mom.  I naturally believed it would come not long after Favorite and I married.  But it took more than five years for us to get that stick to show in our favor.

We had our first ultrasound at 7 weeks and heard a perfect little heartbeat.  Our twitterpated brains believed the baby to be a boy so we anticipated baby boy names and primary colored nurseries.

Our next ultrasound, at 10 weeks, showed a perfect baby head and arms, but no heartbeat. 

I'm not sharing this story on my blog for sympathy or dozens of comments that indicate love and support.  I'm sharing it because I don't feel like it's something I should be ashamed of enduring.  I've felt guilty because I want children.  I've felt guilty because I cry even though I'm happy for my friends.  I've felt guilty because I'm terrified of pregnancy announcements and excited for them at the same time.  And, sometimes, I feel guilty for hoping that this would happen to me, too.

I've complained about it quite a bit in the past.  Obviously, little of that has made it on here.  But I don't want this post to be about complaining or whining or anything of the sort. 

I read some old journal entries the other day and I was shocked to see how far God has brought us in this journey.  We haven't just survived.  Favorite and I have thrived together.  We've learned to function as a team and support one another.  Of course we cry.  Of course we get frustrated.  There are even months when I feel completely forgotten by God.

Recently, that's how I felt--forgotten.  That's when I found those entries.  That's when God showed me how far we've come.  Waves of gratitude, ya'll.  Waves.

Sometimes I travel down the "What If I Would've Carried Him" road.  The newest roadside sign there is that my son would be three months old this month.  It doesn't make me angry as often as it used to.  It mostly makes me sad.  But there are also road signs on the "What If I Didn't Have God" path.  They are much more grim than my current circumstances.

I hope I won't have to do this for six more years.  Favorite and I know our limits and I'm not sure if that will affect our overall outcome.  Actually, there are a ton of things I don't know.  And I'm not coming through this experience with some sort of weird serene expression on my face.  I'm scarred.  I'm generally tear-stained.  Sometimes I scream just because I have no words for my frustration (But I'm thinking of taking up boxing.  Anyone want to join?).

I think I've just realized that this is life--you know, what happens while you're busy trying to overcome loss and infertility (a sort-of quote from John Lennon with my apologies).  Mostly, I want to live that life as honestly as possible so others can see Christ in the here and now.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
                     --Isaiah 43:2

Monday, March 21, 2011

Finishing Touches

Tonight, I made a decision every woman agonizes over.

I bought lamps.

They really are gorgeous and a perfect fit for this area in my living room (at least, that's my opinion.  See below to form your own).  See, there are a couple of things people forget to tell you about building a house:
     1.  You will end up with dark spots even when you carefully plan your lighting.
     2.  You will be in need of light switches in places you never anticipated.

We solved both of these problems by purchasing twin lamps to put on either side of the credenza.  We have plugged one lamp (and when we get an extension cord, we'll add the other lamp) into a sensor that is connected to a lightswitch we screwed into the wall.  Problems?  Solved.  Plus, I think it's pretty cute.

At first I thought they should be taller, but if they get much taller, they'll hit the surround sound speakers.  Also, the lampshades are the same size.  The second one just looks smaller because it isn't plugged in.

Now I'm moving toward tables in the living room.  I liked the idea of these:

And I thought they would look nice beside my couch (on both sides).  It would provide a place to put glasses as well as plants or whatever decorative items I think might look nice.

And, since I promised they were coming, here's a picture of our weekend getaway to hold you until I get time to talk about it in detail.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Prayer Monday--3/21

I hate to feel vulnerable.  Hate.  It.

There's nothing worse than to find yourself feeling self-conscious over things you can't help but feel and realize that you don't want the people you're with to know how you feel at all.

Catch that?

But here I am.  In a season of vulnerable.  In a season of can't-get-my-breath-because-of-the-panic-attacks-because-I-have-no-idea-what's-going-on-and-there's-nothing-I-can-do-but-wait-and-that's-not-really-my-strong-suit.

I'm anxious.  And what I really want is peace.  I'm tired of feeling anxious.  I'm tired of worrying and praying and thinking and freaking out.  I just want quiet.  And I'm trying to figure out where God is in all of this when I know the correct answer is this:

X  <------Right here.

Right in the middle of it.  Consciously aware.  Patient with my anxiety.  But pushing me to vulnerability anyway.  So I'm trying to embrace the vulnerable.  Current Status:  A little gripe-y.  There's got to be a reason for the push to vulnerable, though, right?

If we all told the truth, I think we would all agree that we want to matter.  We want our lives to make a difference in some way.  Sometimes we're successful.  Sometimes we're desperate to know what difference we make.  Beth Moore calls that "eternity set in our hearts" because we were made for eternity.  Unfortunately, that knowledge doesn't make us any less desperate to know that our lives matter.

I guess that's where some of my vulnerable is coming from. 

Prayer Requests
1.  I'm praying that God will heal my body so it will work the way it's meant to work.

2.  I'm praying for the future of Women's Bible Study.  I have no idea where it's going, but I know that God has placed me here.  I don't want to be an ineffective leader.  I'm praying that God will use me.

3.  My Favorite

4.  Peace in my heart

Father, I commit the women who pray weekly to You.  You know their hearts; we learned in Bible Study that You are the knower of our hearts.  I pray that we would just be honest before You.  I pray that we would pour out our desperations, hurts, concerns, joys and lives before You.  Help us to understand that there's no concealing anything from You.  I pray that would be the catalyst that would help us deepen our relationships with You. 


Link Up.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You Want HOW Much?

I know I've been blog-absent for a couple of days.  Favorite and I took a mini-vacation to celebrate his birthday.  I took my laptop, but the hotel, which previously offered free wi-fi, now CHARGES $10 for one gig for 24 hours.  So I decided that blogging could wait.

BUT, I have lots of pictures to share and a couple of fun stories.  I'll try to get those up at some point in time next week, but it's likely that Prayer Monday will come first.

Bible study tomorrow :)  I'm pretty excited.

Tonight, though, my bed is calling me.  Oh, how I've missed it.  Funny how a hotel room goes from exquisite to slightly above trashy when your dwelling situation changes.  Since we aren't living in the trailer and we have a really nice bed, the hotel doesn't seem nearly as nice as it used to.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday HodgePodge

Today is my first time ever participating in the Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Not sure if it will become a habit, but it sounds like fun right now :)

1. What would you do if you found a pot of gold? Let's pretend that pot of gold is worth exactly $1500 (which would actually be more like a cup of gold at current values). Anyway, let's also pretend you have to spend it as opposed to making a donation somewhere. Now, tell me what you would do with that cup pot of gold?

OOh.  So much to consider.  But I have to be honest:  Favorite and I just built a house and as I live in it, I see things I'd like to do to the inside.  There are a couple of lamps I'd like to buy and some tables (in particular, end tables a smaller console-type table and a console table).  If that didn't take everything, I'd like to get a new kitchen table that was a little closer to my color pallette.

Does it make me boring that I only want to spend on house stuff?
2. Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in any way, shape, or form?

The Favorite is turning 31 this year.  Typically, his birthday and this holiday fall around my spring break and we take a quick get-away to a nearby city.  Then we do whatever we want for a couple of days but just hang out.

This year, I'm really pumped about his birthday present.  He's going to be pretty excited.
3. Have you been bitten by the Spring Cleaning bug? What spring cleaning job most needs doing at your house? What spring cleaning job are you most dreading?

I love clean, and I love organization, but I am totally dreading the big "CLEANING OUT OF THE TRAILER" that looms in the distance.  Since we recently moved (our bodies, not all of our stuff, obviously) there is so much junk from down there I just don't want.  But there is also a lot of stuff I need to move and just haven't had the chance.  Then there is the inevitable joy of figuring how how those pieces fit into the new house, etc.  I have some ideas but I get a little overwhelmed.
4. lime-shamrock-sage-forest....your favorite shade of green?

Like most other colors, I prefer really saturated version of green.  If the color isn't rich, I tend to think it's blah.
5. Thomas Jefferson once said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." So... do you believe in luck or do you believe we make our own luck?

Actually, I really avoid the word 'luck' because I think it implies fortune or chance (which, if I'm not mistaken is homage to a greek god of a similar name?).  But I feel weird saying "Blessings" instead of "Good luck."  So I've been trying to come up with alternatives.

I guess I believe I work as hard as I can do what what I am capable of doing and then I (try) to leave the rest to God.

6. Monday (3/14) was Pi Day. Get it? Pi =3.14. Those math types are so clever aren't they? Since I'm not one of them tell me what's your favorite piE (the edible kind).

Chess Pie, IceBox Pie, Buttermilk Pie--it goes by a hundred different names, but it's really the same sugary deliciousness.

By the way, why doesn't anyone recognize the Ides of March?  Hm...I guess that would spark some pretty weird questions.  Forget I asked.
7. That same date (3/14) was also the birth date of the late physicist, Albert Einstein. I bet he knew the value of pi. What do you think is more important and/or valuable in life...intelligence or common sense?

Common sense, hands down.  Even my students with learning disabilities learn to cope if they have common sense.  I think intelligence is also nice to have, but I don't think it has the same impact that common sense does (outside of higher education...and government--where common sense has taken a permanent vacation).

8. One random thought?  In my head, there's no such thing.

I love this house.  LOVE IT.  But I plan on living in it and that sometimes means puppy prints on the hardwood and laundry in the living room. 

I'm really enjoying the current Bible study.  And, while it's not part of this particular study, I'm learning what the Psalm meant when it said to trust in the Lord and lean NOT on your own understanding.  Sometimes I just want so badly to rely on what I know or what I understand.  But with God, all things are possible--even when they are outside our understanding.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just Another Normal Tuesday

I rarely struggle for conversation material.  But this?  Isn't really a conversation.  It's me spouting random things from my life to you (and silently hoping you laugh because you understand and not because you think I'm weird).  I'm not profound when in conversation.  I'm loud.  And without the filter necessary for friendly living.  But on here I wish to be profound, impressive and a compelling writer.

Like all great things in my life:  EPIC FAIL.

But I'm funny sometimes, right?  Right?  RIGHT?

Today was a pretty awesome day, but it wasn't epic.  I spent the day hanging out with Big Bro.  We went to get Favorite's birthday present (which I hope he likes) and then just talked and drove around the city a bit.

Nothing crazy to share, but those are the best kinds of days, aren't they?  The ones where you just get the opportunity to enjoy?  It was one of those days for me.

We finished off by getting bagels from Panera (for tomorrow) and greeting the appraiser for the final appraisal of the house.  Wish I had pictures to show you, but I keep forgetting to get a second battery and I can't seem to remember to charge my first battery.  You don't have to tell me.  I know how awesome I am.

Now, if I can figure out how to even out my dishwasher a bit, it'll be perfect.

PS.  I'm going to leave off with Fat Tuesday for a while.  I did lose weight, and I am proud of myself but I have to be careful about how much of my life I give to it.  Because of PCOS, weight loss is weird for me.  I may lose 5 lbs, gain 4 lbs, lose 1/4 lb and then not lose again for quite some time (while never changing the eating habits).  Not surprisingly, that's frustrating for me.  And I don't want this to be an issue of frustration.  I'll keep my eye on it and you can keep praying for me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Beginning of Spring Break

7 loads of laundry
Floors swept and mopped
Cleaning up front room
Cleaning bathroom
Sweeping Laundry Room
Preparing for lunch tomorrow
Staining our last bit of wood
Preparing for the appraiser tomorrow
First Real Day of Spring Break

For Tomorrow:

Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac (for lunch)
Buying Favorite's Birthday Present

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prayer Monday--3/14

I used to be the Captain of the TMI Brigade.  In college, thinking I was living authentically, I would share all sorts of things with people I felt close to in the name of trying to deepen my relationship with God.

Yeah, yeah.  I know it sounds stupid.  But at the time, it was the only way I knew how to live.

As an adult, I've probably strayed to the opposite end of the spectrum.  As a result, I come off as almost obtuse--uncaring.  Guarded.  In a lot of ways, I suppose I am.  But I'm afraid that exterior keeps others from understanding the depth of my relationship with God.

He saved me.  Not just delivering me from sin.  God saved me from some pretty grim alternative outcomes.  A person who shall remain nameless asked me how I could reconcile my relationship with God given some circumstances I lived through.  My answer has been the same:  He didn't let me drown.  He doesn't let me drown.

Tonight, as people were testifying to things that they were thankful for, I silently thanked God for not leaving me in the flood.  Left to my own devices, I would've checked out--not suicidal, ya'll.  But there are worse ways of checking out that don't include death.  Like when people become unreachable.  Like when they don't respond.  Like when you look at them and you know they aren't there.

That's what God saved me from.

There's no talking about my God without that deep draw in my heart to thankfulness.  I'm not far enough away that I can't remember how I close I was to that particular cavern.  So obtuse or not, my heart resonates with the Spirit of a Loving God. 

And I pray that much of your week is spent in thankfulness.

Prayer Requests
1.  Please pray that God would heal my body so it would work the way it's meant to work.

2.  My Favorite

3.  Women's Bible Study--oh, girls.  Oh, girls.  I can't even tell you where I believe God is going to take us here.  But I'm believing Him to show up.  Just you wait.

4.  A private request.

5.  My friend, Morgan, who is expecting her first child.  Please pray for a healthy, uneventful pregnancy.

I'm overwhelmed tonight with your graciousness.  I can never forget where I was.  And, as a result, I hope I can never forget Your Hand drawing me in that situation.  This week, remind everything that things come by Your Hand alone.  Help us to live this week in gratitude.  Draw us to our knees in prayer.  Push us to study Your Word and faithfully lead us to the things You want to teach us in this season of life.  Touch those who are participating.  I pray they would find encouragement in this group and Your Word.


PS.  Mr. Linky would NOT work tonight.  So we're going to try LinkyTools.  Link up!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Colleagues, Long Nights and Parent/Teacher Conferences


You'll notice I didn't post last night.  Actually, my arrogant self is only hoping you noticed I didn't post last night because I need to know that someone reads my extremely random thoughts even though they don't, in any way, make any one's life better. 

Can you say neurotic?  And I have I mentioned I work with children? 

Well, last night was parent/teacher conferences and freshman orientation.  It's a LONG night for the faculty at my school, but it's also this weird bonding experience.  Since we're stuck in the building for so long and not even the most dedicated teacher can grade that entire time, we talk.  We joke.  We hang out.  And it reminds me how much I really enjoy the people I'm working with when we aren't stressing over the latest government attempt to make our job harder better.

I only had five conferences, but I felt like they were all worthwhile.  Typically, I have underlying anxiety about some parents, but this time I felt fairly confident that I had suggestions and praise for each student.  I had my last conference with a set of parents I've been meeting since their child entered high school and that's a little bittersweet.  He'll be a senior next year, and I do not teach senior English.

But instead of running out the door because I was SO thankful to be done for a week (and believe me, in a lot of ways I am--grading, anyone?), I was also a little sad to realize that the school year is moving so quickly.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

If It's Trial By Fire, I Think I've Been Dealt Several Pyromaniacs

Most parts of my life seem to be revolving around this, currently:  "To inoculate me from the praise of man, He baptised me in the criticism of man, until I died to control of man." Francis Frangipane

Do you remember that quote from earlier this week?  Well, it landed on my head and now it's currently beating me in the face.


And it hurts.

Me no likey.

But it's just a ridiculous reminder that I want, too much, people to like me.  I do.  I want to be so awesome people just can't help wanting to be around me.  I want them to form circles and chant my name.  I want them to nominate me for awards.  I want them to write books about how great I am and sing songs and make up dances with moves that could only describe...

Right.  You get the point.

To make things more complicated, I want God to like me, too.  Yeah, yeah, I know He loves me.  But I want to follow His Will.  I want to do what He's called me to do...just, I want to do it and make other people happy.

This is where Emril would yell "BAM!"

Because this is where the explosion takes place.  Sometimes God's Will makes people happy.  Sometimes it makes people stabby.  Sometimes they pretend to be happy, but they are actually a little stabby.  Sometimes it makes some people happy and makes other people stabby.  The bad news?  Stabby people are louder.  Much louder.  And harder to ignore.

The other bad news?  Even though I want people to like me, I have this inordinate need to defend myself.  When those things collide, I'd like to tell you that I gravitate toward holding my tongue and seeking God and remembering what Paul said about the troubles of this earth.  But it's more likely I gravitate toward making sure the troubles of this earth know my feelings on the matter.  Oh, and that "we don't fight flesh and blood stuff?"  Right.  That goes out the door, too.

This is obviously something God is trying to impress on me during this season of my life, though.  And I'm trying to figure out how to muddle through it.  Too often, it feels like a personal assault on my character and that, to be simple, hurts my feelings.

Hey.  That's the first time I've really identified that.  IT HURTS MY FEELINGS. 

But Ronnie pointed something out to me today.  Even if this is taken out of my hands, my ministry will continue.  Out of defiance?  Hardly.  Out of obedience.

Because God doesn't release us from callings because other people form opinions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday

It's Fat Tuesday (literally and figuratively) and I have no gains or losses to give you.

Why?  Geez.  Nosy much?

Haha.  Just kidding.  I know that's the purpose of this post, and I know many of you hold on to the edge of your chairs as I share my weight loss journey with reckless abandon.

Or maybe I just gripe about shaving my legs and the pounds lost in that activity.

Clearly compelling stuff.

But I won't be sharing any gains or losses today because I forgot to weigh this morning.  If I were to guess, I'd say that I gained back some of the weight I lost last week.  I think I'm probably still down, but it frustrates me that I purposely sabotage success.

You read me right.  Purposeful sabotage.  I've been reading this book Made to Crave and it hits my weight loss journey right on the tip of the nose.

Food is an emotional comfort for me.  When I've had a bad day, when I don't understand what's going on, when I'm stressed out or nervous, I eat.  I eat food that I like. 

Of course, that's when I'm not just absent mindedly picking at food because it's there (like today in the teacher's lounge.  UGH.).

I did that this week.  I ate because I was emotional.  And who am I kidding?  I'm emotional like 5 days out of 7 if it's a good week.  Since I'm already on this journey to pray continually and work on meeting God every day, I'm trying to hand this over to Him.

It's hard.  Really hard.  I want him to just shield me from all emotional situations so I have no reason to eat all that stuff that makes me feel better.  Unfortunately, He doesn't do things like that.  But I TOTALLY think that would be the easier route.  And let's all be honest:  I'm always about the easier route.

I'm working on finding vegetables I like.  So far, I eat bell peppers a lot and I occasionally buy steam-in-the-bag butternut squash.  Let's hope I continue to love that stuff.  Oh, and my oatmeal from McDonald's.

Back on the wagon tomorrow...hoping to weigh every day since that keeps me on track.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Baptism By Fire

To inoculate me from the praise of man, He baptised me in the criticism of man,
until I died to control of man." Francis Frangipane

I like this quote.  I see it often.  When I think about it, the process, in my mind, is very happy-go-lucky.  God allows you to be criticized and then *poof* all things are better.

There must've been another paragraph.  I think it was left out for the sake of brevity.  That next paragraph had to include the words grueling, painful and aching.  It must've covered the topics guilt, friendship and shock.  Otherwise, I'm not sure Frank there every really dealt with the criticism of man.

The best part of these situations is that you won't ask for them.  Nope.  If you give them a reason to criticize you, you can't claim this quote.  It has to come completely out of the blue.  You have to have no real guilt associated with the situation.  Instead, there will be phantom guilt because you are the last man standing in a game you never asked to play.

You have to wonder how people feel about you.  You'll have good friends who will make their opinions known.  In fact, in your worst moments, they will yell something about how great you are and how stupid this is.  You'll be thankful for them, because you'll be so self-conscious about everyone else, you won't know how to carry yourself.

They'll also be people on the opposite side of the spectrum.  Hopefully, you'll be able to give them two lines and leave it at that.

And there will be people in the middle.  They will worry you the most, because they'll never share how they really feel.  If you're confident in your ability, you'll know their opinions don't matter.  But on the days you aren't so confident, or when you're caught off-guard, you'll wonder.

Frank also didn't mention that the baptism isn't a one-time affair.  Oh, no.  Instead, it will be a random merry-go-round that occasionally stops on your lucky number.

But I'm told the end result is amazing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Prayer Monday: March 7, 2011

I am always nervous before Bible study begins.  Those who know me might be surprised to find out that I'm still a little uncomfortable being in front of a group (particularly a group with high expectations) and I'm really nervous to be in charge of something.  Simply put, I don't want to screw it up.  And screwing up?  Totally my spiritual gift.

I'm not even laughing as I'm writing this because it bothers me so much.  I talk too much; I say the wrong things.  They are pretty well guarantees in my day.  Remember what I said about encouraging others?  I'm really bad at it.  Like, really, really bad.  I'm honestly telling you that I'm often terrified that I'm going damage something I do beyond repair and I so desperately don't want that to happen--particularly in study.

I wonder if that's why God put David into our laps at this time in our lives.  I wonder if there aren't women who feel the same way I do.  I wonder how many of us spend the day thinking something is so broken it can't be fixed.  It's my worst fear.

But my reassurance that this was the right study?  Even though it's a study about David, Beth began by talking about Samuel.  We read 1Samuel 1--Hannah's prayer.  I've read the first two chapters of 1 Samuel so many times now, they should probably fall out of my Bible.  But my heart was overwhelmed to have a simple reassurance from God.

Ya'll.  There are things I want so badly from Him that I can taste it.  Some of them aren't for myself.  But I deeply want to be a woman after His own heart.  And I'm deathly afraid that what I've cultivated in myself would keep that from happening--despite what I know about His ability to clean and save the worst of sinners.

But the best part?  Tim's girlfriend, NutMeg, has joined study.  She seems really excited about it--so much so, she invited another girl and that girl is likely going to attend.  If that's not evidence that God is already beginning to move in lives, I'm not really sure what is.

But on to the purpose of this post:

Prayer Requests
1.  My Favorite

2.  Pray that God heals my body so it works the way it's meant to.

3.  Pray for the hearts of the women involved in this study--that God would draw us closer to each other and closer to Him.  Pray that we would be open enough to conduct a small group that would speak to each of us individually.  Pray that God would guide me so that I can facilitate discussion and ask questions that would really bring us face-to-face with the things God is asking of us for this season.

4.  My friend, Morgan, is pregnant.  Please pray for a healthy pregnancy.

5.  My friend, Casey, who has been off the grid this week.  (Where have you been?!  Seriously.  I worry.)

6.  My mouth

1.  Women's Bible study.  I'm so thankful for it.  Those women, for the most part, have no idea how much I need very much I'm encouraged by them...but mosty, how much I need them.

3.  God has begun works at my house.  I won't go into a lot of detail, but I know that he who begins a good work will continue it until the day of completion (Phil 1:6).


Draw our hearts.  That's truly my prayer right now.  Draw them to You.  Give us wisdom to speak Your words.  Push us to our knees in prayer.  Drive us to seek You in Your Word.  This week, as we commit to prayer and study, don't leave us empty handed.  Meet us where we are--so many of us are in different stages of life, but all of those stages seem to come down to one thing:  Need.  We need You, God.  We all need so many things.  We need You to be savior and deliverer.  We need You to provide and heal.  We need You to meet us and be real.  We need You to mend hearts and minds, bodies and relationships.  Help us to meet that need in You.

Teach us to seek You.  Remind us it's all about You.


Link Up.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Am What I Am But I'm Pushed to Something More

You'll probably be completely stunned to hear this, but I'm not really all that great with people.  Apparently, I don't seem to offer much emotion so they can't really interpret what I'm thinking (even when I'm pleased), and I'm really horrible in situations where someone else needs comfort.  Generally, I end up blubbering right along with them, which is helpful in some situations and not-so-much in others.  Of course, there's the traditional you-just-come-across-as-a-complete-and-total-jerk thing, too.

So, with those things in mind, you're going to think it's odd that I feel like God has called me to be an encourager.  I mean, it's the last thing you would call someone like me to do.  When I think of encouragers, I think of this lady who went to my church.  Her name was Evelyn (So pretty.  I want to name a daughter after her.  Isn't Evie the cutest name you've ever heard?!), and she was an encourager from the moment I met her.  Granted, by the time I was 10, she was almost 80 so she had a lot of time to practice.

But I learned something from Evelyn:  letters go a long way, and some people just need to be reminded that someone is thinking of them.

It's true.  We're not supposed to seek the approval of men, but let's face it.  It's hard to continue taking on tasks when we're constantly met with thanklessness, or worse yet, disapproval.  And I think most of us would admit that we really don't want anything more than a simple "Thank you."  Honestly, I think a lot of us would admit we just want someone to remember we're there.

That's my goal.  I just want to spend some time each week reminding other people that I see them...that they matter...

Maybe in the process I won't come across as such a jerk.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Show Us Your Family

I'm not sure how to start when it comes to my family.  We're that fun mix of crazy and logical, sweet and sour...but dinner at my parent's house is always an event.

This is my dad.  Other people call him Tom Selleck, Wade Boggs or Dale Earnhardt.

Occupation:  Disabled Iron Worker

Special Gifts:  Getting ridiculous discounts during shopping adventures.

Loves:  Shoes, Watches, Coats, Clothes, his dogs, his family and Jesus.

Hates:  Jeff Gordon, spaghetti and people who can't match their own clothing.

Interests:  NASCAR, aggravating people he likes and helping finish my house (ha!)

This is my mom.  We don't have nicknames for her.

Occupation: Social Worker

Special Gifts: My mom has what we refer to as a split personality.  You have "regular mom" and "insurance mom."  She can make insurance representatives tremble in their shoes.  I don't know anyone who knows how insurance works better than she does.  And I include the people who write the policy in that statement.  Seriously.  Insurance problems?  Call her.  She's a beast.

Loves: Her family, Jesus, her dogs, her swimming pool and piano.

Hates: People who get mad when she cleans their house (even when she's just a visitor) and dirty houses.

Interests: Scrapbooking, piano and reading

This is my older bro.  When we were little, I called him big brother.  Now, I just call him by his name.

Occupation: Master's Degree student, occasional substitute, student worker

Special Gifts: Compassion for people who annoy me, amazing knowledge about a variety of random subjects, impressive Biblical knowledge and the ability to clear the room in a short period of time ;)

Loves: Jesus, Reading, American Apparel,  car engines, charitable giving, his fiancee, his family and his Sunday School class.

Hates: People who are messy or who try to do his laundry or a wet toothbrust before he puts toothpaste on it
Interests: Books (just not ones I suggest), cars, Sheena, engineering and whatever you seem to be interested in (because he's cool like that).

Relationship Status:  Engaged to Sheena (check out her blog)

This is my lil bro.  I call him by his name.

Occupation: Secretary for an officer in the United States Airforce; Veteran

Special Gifts: Karaoke, Public Relations (or BS with the general public...or people in general)

Loves: Xbox, free food, reading and chewing.

Hates: People who tell him what to do.

Interests: Fantasy football, Xbox games, the Airforce, How I Met Your Mother

Relationship Status:  Seriously dating NutMeg.

This is Favorite and we've been married since May of 2003.

Occupation: Correctional Officer (former social's that for a change of pace?)

Special Gifts: Laughing at basically anything and aggravating me.

Loves: Farming, Xbox, his huge television and his family.

Hates: His job, lazy people, stupid people and other people.

Interests: Finishing the house, growing a beard, enjoying our new bed, and reading.

This is Archimedes or Barky.

Occupation: Resident Guard and Protector

Special Gifts: Barking at the most inopportune moments to scare the bejesus out of anyone within hearing distance.

Loves: Biscuits, his "baby," sleeping on the bed, outside and his mommy

Hates: Most people, but especially the dog groomer.

Interests: Anything that allows him to be outside, finding ways to get outside and looking sad so someone will pet him.

My brothers and I are never allowed to play Trivial Pursuit on the same team and I've never managed to get Favorite to sing karaoke.  We spend a lot of time sitting around the dinner table (not always with food), laughing and occasionally filling out crossword puzzles together.  All of us love coffee and we are a loud group when we're all together.  We love movies and (mostly) care deeply about the welfare of the others.

I'm blessed to know them.  I'm especially blessed to call them mine.  And one of these days I hope to add to the brood.