Aug 29, 2008

September 1, A Memorable Day...

It was Labor Day weekend on the edge of a warm Texas summer. The year was 2001.

He wanted to go shopping. She wanted to be anywhere he was.

He wanted to "see the latest trends" in menswear at Neiman Marcus. She feared he'd spend too much.

He wanted to meander around the pretentious North Dallas mall. She wanted to be anywhere he was.

He wanted to get an idea of the fall trends and then purchase elsewhere. She sighed with relief at his fiscal sensibilities.

He wanted to invite another friend to join them for dinner. She wanted to be anywhere he was.

He suggested dinner at Houston's, her favorite and a place they frequented together. Saturday night at Houston's certainly meant a wait. She didn't mind; the more time with him, the better. She secretly hoped their friend would not arrive. He knew he wouldn't.

At about 8:15, a quiet booth fortuitously opened in the bar, and they slipped into it. Over a plate of delicious guacamole salad accompanied by a wonderful pinot grigio, they talked of the significance of an upcoming date, October 6. She reminded him that not only would it include the blessing of the ministry's annual fund raiser, but it was also the anniversary of their first kiss!

He said, "Well, how'd I do?"

She smiled and said, "VERY well."

He said, "We've sure learned a lot about each other over the past year and that only leaves one question. Will you marry me? You don't have to answer right away. You can think about it."

"Do I HAVE to think about it? YES!!!!!!!!!!" she exclaimed.

After a sweet, celebratory kiss, they enjoyed dinner and discussed with excitement the plans for their future.

After leaving Houston's, he drove her to Celestial Park. In the center of the enormous sundial, the acoustics change in an amazing way as to drown out all other sound. He led her there, and under the starry sky, he sweetly whispered "I love you" in her ear, the only thing she could hear. Her heart melted... again.

As he drove her home that night, her heart was so full. She thanked the Lord for answering her prayers and bringing this precious man into her life to be her beloved forever.

I love you, Studly Man.

Ahhh.... September.

Aug 28, 2008

Dear Samson...

(Edited to add more at the bottom.)

I promise to never, EVER do this to you:
Or this:

You'll also never have one of these mink (yes, mink) day beds, 'cuz Momma ain't got $650.

And you can't have this 'cuz Momma doesn't have $1,400 either.
You lucked out on the hair thing. Deal with the bed thing.

Love, Mom

Aug 26, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Greatest Hangers EVER!

After a little summer vacation for WFMW, Shannon over at RocksInMyDryer is back at it with the new school year's first Works For Me Wednesday. Yay! I always love seeing the neat tips and ideas other bloggers post, some of which I've adopted immediately.

So without further ado (okay, well, maybe just a LITTLE ado), here's my WFMW tip.

About six months ago I stumbled upon the niftiest hangers I've ever seen. They're called Smart Dry Sweater and Pant Hangers and are made by Tide, the laundry detergent folks, so I was intrigued. 'Cuz who knows laundry better than Tide? They come in pairs and are packaged like this:

What's so great about them, you ask?

I have lots of sweaters and tops that require handwashsing and then being laid flat to dry. Sometimes I run out of room to spread things out, so I've cheated a time or two and hung a few pieces up. We all know what happens when you use a regular hanger to dry something that has been handwashed or even washed on the gentle cycle of the washing machine. The garment ends up with those funny little pooches where the fabric stretched over the hanger. These hangers keep your clothes crease and pooch free. I promise!

The design of the hanger includes extra wide shoulder "bars" to prevent your sweaters and shirts from puckering and loosing their shape. They also dry your clothes quicker because the hanger is perforated to allow more airflow through the garment. The center section works great for pants and leaves them crease free every time. I've tried them with polo shirts, golf shirt, sweaters, jeans, khackis, and even T-shirts with iron-on transfers that will melt in the dryer. They work so well, I went back and bought several more. Especially during the summer time, I'll use the plant hooks on my patio to suspend the hangers. Clothes dry REALLY fast outside in the Texas heat!

Here are a few pictures that show the detail. There's a quarter next to it for scale.

You can see how wide the ends of the hanger are, and they're gently curved so they won't leave pooches in the sleeves of the garment.

See how wide that center bar is? The sides of the pant section are also gently rounded, so no more creases!

LOVE these! They run around $3.99 for two hangers and can be found at Target or Walmart on the laundry accessories aisle, not the detergent aisle.

Get some!! They work for me!

Aug 24, 2008

How to Bathe a Little Dog

Step 1: Get a big sink.

Step 2: Set out all the necessary paraphernalia...

... including tearless puppy shampoo

... the most amazing dog treats EVER

... and the tiny syringe used to moisten the icky stuff in the corners of his eyes.

Step 3: Find crusty little dog, likely seeking refuge in Daddy's lap.

Step 4: Proceed with submersion of CrustyLittleDog into big sink now filled with water. Wash behind his ears...

... and under his chin

... and don't forget his beard.

Step 5: Remind mad little dog that Mama loves him.

Step 6: Find a strong Daddy to dry him off and fight off the evil Mommy.

Step 7: Laugh at the formerly crusty pup as he roots around to arrange his 'do.

Step 8: Kiss the cutest little face you ever did see.

Aug 22, 2008

The Harvest

I like to blog about funny things. Things like this or this.

Oh, how I wish this post could be fun and lighthearted. It isn't. It can't be.

Studly and I have been blessed beyond measure with the privilege of working with at risk and troubled youth. We've seen the hand of God at work in the lives of these precious kids who just need to be loved and shown the Truth. We've had a front row seat to witness miracles. We've rejoiced when lost kids have come to Christ.

Today, we weep.

Several months ago Studly and I led a team into the county juvenile detention center where we minister most frequently. In our team's briefing that morning, the superintendent mentioned one young girl who had been giving the staff absolute fits. They were perplexed. They were tired. They were out of ideas. This young girl came to them in desperate need. And now they were in desperate need, too. She was taxing their resources in ways they'd never imagined.

Taylor was on "suicide watch," which meant her clothing (and I use that term loosely) was different from the other girls in her pod. She was a wearing a "suicide gown" similar to this one, only shorter. It is very heavy and can't be fashioned into a noose, and no part of it can be turned into a weapon. In other words, she can't hurt herself. Since it fastens with Velcro, it is easy to just rip off at any moment. And she did. Frequently. Running around naked inside a jail where EVERYTHING is on camera? Bad idea.

She tore up a Bible. No one knows why. Then she asked for another one. Denied.

She engaged in some other activities as well, but I won't detail them here.

The guards were at wit's end trying to deal with her. And then they decided they'd try one last thing. They moved her from the "long term" pod to the "short term" pod.

It was as if the old Taylor had disappeared, and a new person appeared in her place. She was cooperative and kind and sweet. There was a light in her eyes again. She was wholly appropriate in her actions and words. She didn't cause any trouble at all.

Two days later, our team showed up to minister in the unit. We were informed of the events so we would understand what we were walking into. She was delightful. She laughed and giggled like any 15-year-old girl. She sat with her peers and listened intently to what we had to say. She asked intelligent questions, and she even thanked us for coming.

Later in the morning, two of our precious - and seasoned - volunteers moved off to the side in order to share with Taylor in a more personal way. Bobbie and Brenda laid out the plan of salvation and asked Taylor if she had ever given her heart to Jesus. She told them she had. They talked with her about reading the Bible and asked her if she had one, knowing from our earlier briefing that she didn't. She told them she was "on restriction" because she had destroyed a Bible, but she wanted another one. Bobbie and Brenda assured her they'd do everything they could to get her another one. And several days later, they did just that.

Eventually Taylor was released from custody and returned home.

Studly Man learned from the superintendent of the prison that earlier this week Taylor took a hunting rifle and shot herself. She did not survive.

She was 15.


She should have had the world by the tail and been full of excitement and anticipation of what the future would bring. She should've been thinking about getting her driver's license and the first day of the new school year. She should've had her iPod playing her favorites songs while she texted her best friend. She should've known how deeply her parents love her. She should've been secure in the knowledge that God's plan for her life was full of good and NOT evil.

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Matthew 9:36-38

Taylor heard the truth. We told her the truth. We believe she knew Jesus. But what if we hadn't gone?

They're out there. They're everywhere. They're right next to you... people who need to be harvested for the Lord. People you know. People who may never see any other representation of Jesus than what they see in you.

The timing is critical. We MUST get to the harvest. A storm is coming...

Aug 18, 2008

Milk and Swimming

Studly and I went to our local ice cream and dairy store on Saturday night to get some milk. (Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a happy girl if the milk inventory in the house gets low.) Mike, a young checker at the store whom we see frequently, asked if we didn't want to go over to the other counter and get some ice cream. We told him our plan was to hurry home to watch Michael Phelps go for his eighth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics.

He stared in stunned silence.

Wondering if he'd been living under a rock for the last nine days, I said, "Michael Phelps... the swimmer?"

MikeTheChecker furrowed his brow and shook his head in disapproval.

"You're not gonna watch the Cowboys play?"

Me: "Nah. They'll still be around in a few weeks and even in a few years. We wanna watch Phelps do something no person in history has ever done."

MikeTheChecker: (silence)

Me: "Even though we're watching in time delay, it will be cool to watch history being made."

Studly: "Yeah. Nobody's EVER won eight gold medals in one Olympics before."

MikeTheChecker: (silence)

Me: (silence)

Studly: (silence)

MikeTheChecker: (more silence)

Me (hating the awkwardness of the moment): "But I do want to check in and see how Tony's looking this year. We could flip channels back and forth and..." my voice trailed off as I looked at Studly for approval.

MikeTheChecker: (silence)

Me: "Hopefully they'll be playoff contenders this season."

MikeTheChecker: (silence)

Studly: "Well, have a great night."

MikeTheChecker: (silence)

We left.

MikeTheChecker a) doesn't have a TV; b) has never seen a swimming pool; c) is completely un-American; d) REALLY loves his Cowboys; e) really does live under a rock.

You be the judge.

Aug 14, 2008

I'm Going for the Gold

... in coughing.

I have an EXCELLENT chance of winning.

I've been training rigorously for weeks now, and everyone around me is convinced I'll win. Short of a lung flying out of my chest, there shouldn't be a problem. I've got this down pat. I'm GOOD at it.

My family has bought up all available stock in these.

My boss ordered one of these.

My husband just purchased these.

Bob Costas and Matt Lauer have contacted my agent to schedule an interview.

Stayed tuned for the most exciting Olympic event E.V.E.R. I'll make America proud.

Aug 12, 2008

The Body of Christ... in Prison

Ever wondered if God can use you?

On Saturday, Studly and I will be leading a team into the juvenile prison about 20 miles north of here. It fascinates me to consider the individuals who make up our team. They're of all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds, backgrounds and industries. Of course each event has a slightly different make up of teammates depending on who is able to go each time. It is always fun to see who God brings together.

On Saturday, our team will include:

  • a single, working grandmother of four and mother of eight
  • a tax accountant
  • an electrician
  • a 30-year-old personal trainer and his wife who are the proud new parents of a 10-month-old daughter
  • a career air force pilot who now works in the financial industry
  • an out-of-work mortgage broker who is currently going through a family crisis
  • a mechanic who has only a third grade education
  • a former "1%-er" outlaw motorcycle gang member who was diagnosed with liver cancer last week
  • a federal agent who is elbow-deep in preparation for the trial of corrupt government officials
  • a 36-year-old single elementary school teacher who will drive over three hours one way to join us. She usually brings her 81-year-old grandmother who is a mighty woman of God, but Grandma recently broke her hip in three places and can't make it this time.
  • a couple in their 70s whose son spent years in and out of prison and recently died from a drug overdose
  • a 26-year-old US Navy recruiter
  • a commercial aircraft mechanic
  • a graphic artist and print shop manager

Studly makes a fine leader and head of ministry, but his bullet point on that list would say:

  • a 54-year-old entrepreneur who allowed God to use his broken heart and his dog to tell others about Jesus.

And then there's me... a scared, broken little girl whose paralyzing panic attacks are incongruent with flourishing in a ministry inside prison walls, but by God's grace can testify of His power to transform.

On Saturday, 150 incarcerated kids will hear about Jesus for the first time or will be encouraged toward getting to know Him personally. They'll hear how Jesus changed the lives of all those folks in that list above. They'll hear that God loves them and has a plan for their lives. They'll be told that God doesn't make junk and that they are precious to Him. They'll hear the words "I love you" possibly for the first time in their lives. And they'll get to pet a big dog who is undoubtedly directed by angels.

If God can use all of these for His purpose, can't He use you, too? Wounded, broken, hurting, failing but still trying, and never forgetting His grace... those are who He can use.

Get off the bench. Get into the game. Wherever you are. However you're called. Don't miss the blessing of being part of the body of Christ.

Aug 9, 2008


Wow. You folks are curious! ;)

The last line of the previous post was for Studly. But I guess you figured that out.

I was looking for the Spanish equivalent of "what goes around, comes around," because I think turnabout is fair play. My research assistant, aka my sister-in-law (thanks, Jo!) who is of course bilingual, said "we're much more direct" when I asked her for a translation. She gave me several "sayings" that were along the lines of what I was looking for, and I chose my favorite.

'Cuz paybacks are... well, you know.

"Se te va a secar la lengua" means "your tongue is going to dry up."

That would teach Studly to think TWO times (okay, twice) before "tutoring" me inappropriately in the future.

So there.

Aug 7, 2008

Twos (or Dos-es)

Studly Man has citizenship in TWO countries (USA and Peru).

He is one of his father's TWO sons.

He is one of my parents' TWO sons-in-law.

He has TWO college degrees.

He has TWO eyes and TWO ears and TWO nostrils.

And he speaks TWO languages.

A few months after we married, we visited Studly's family in deep South Texas. His dad and stepmother have had a live-in housekeeper (Tonia) for the last 30+ years. She works very hard and is always so gracious to us when we visit. If one of us leaves a dirty sock on the floor accidentally, we'll come back from an outing to find she's done ALL of our laundry. She makes our bed within 14 seconds of our vacating it, and she makes breakfast to order for each person every morning. And she doesn't speak English. That's not a problem for anyone else in the family, but for me, it poses a bit of a challenge sometimes.

One morning on that particular visit, I slept late following a bad migraine the night before. When I finally stumbled out of bed, everyone was gone... except for Tonia. My mother-in-law had gone to a closing (she's a realtor), and Studly and his dad had ventured across the border for a meeting with the guys who built their product in Matamoros. When Tonia heard me stirring around in the kitchen, she came in to take my breakfast order. Although she understands some English, she isn't confident speaking it. The same holds true for my Spanish. We gestured to each other and pointed to things until we'd had a complete "conversation," and she understood my simple order: toast and coffee.

Later that day, I told Studly I felt badly because Tonia is always so gracious to me, and yet I can't communicate with her well like everyone else does. I wanted to thank her for her hospitality and maybe be able to order my breakfast... you know... in Spanish. He asked me what I wanted to say to her, and I told him. He graciously offered to teach me how to say what I wanted to convey in Spanish.

For hours that evening and the next morning, I rehearsed. There were some tricky words I hadn't heard before, and I was having trouble rolling my 'r' properly. Studly gently coached me as we got ready that morning until I had my speech down perfectly. Feeling very bold, I was ready to march into the kitchen and speak to Tonia. I opened the bedroom door and took a step out into the hall.

And then he grabbed me.

By the shoulders.

Laughing so hard he couldn't talk.

And I knew.

I knew he had taught me to say something slightly different from what I thought I was saying.

After much prodding, he finally gave in and confessed through the tears that were running down his cheeks while he held his sides as he laughed. He had taught me how to say, "My husband has three testicles." (Yes, it was in 2002, very shortly after "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" came out.)

Somewhere between my anger and my laughter, we finally managed to get to the kitchen. He composed himself well, and we sat down at the breakfast table. His dad was sitting there drinking his coffee and reading the paper. As we sat quietly, the silence grew deafening. I could stand it no longer.

I looked at my dear father-in-law and said, "Do you know what your son just did to his new bride?" A sad look came over his face. "No. What happened?" he asked with great concern. I told him the whole sordid story, and he patted my shoulder and said, "He's terrible, that son of mine. I'm sorry."

And then he winked at Studly.

And I knew I was doomed for the rest of my life. Studly had been an excellent student at the Practical Joke School of South Texas, and his father was the teacher. They'd spent a lifetime playing jokes on each other, and now I had been inaugurated into the family.

Within a few weeks of that experience, we had a crew of Brazilians laying a new flagstone patio in our backyard. It was the heat of the summer, like it is right now, and it was dangerously hot for anyone working outdoors. Dehydration and heat stroke were real threats. Studly had a meeting away from the house, and I thought the right thing to do would be to take these men who were working so very hard for us some nice cold ice water. I got my biggest pitcher and six 32 oz plastic cups. I filled the pitcher with ice water and placed everything on a tray. Following my previous foray into "speaking Spanish," I was a bit nervous. However, I mustered some courage and stepped out onto the back porch. The crew's foreman saw me.

"Agua?" I said tentatively.

A huge smile came across his face as he came over to me to take the tray.

"Oh, yes ma'am. We'd love some water. Thank you VERY much," he said in p.e.r.f.e.c.t. English. He took the tray and said in Portuguese (the native tongue of Brazilians and very similar to Spanish) to his crew that break time had come. They all came over into the shade and got a drink of water. I smiled as I turned to go back into the house, and as I did, something caught the corner of my eye.

There it was. A huge, industrial Igloo water dispenser and accompanying cups the crew had brought. They HAD water. They didn't NEED water. They were being gracious to accept my kindness. And I felt a little silly.

When Studly arrived home, I told him what had transpired. He laughed and recalled our most recent Spanish lesson, one in which he was more forthright about what he was teaching me to say.

When the crew finished their work and it was time for them to leave, Studly and I went out to see our new patio. Knowing the foreman and crew would appreciate my attempt to learn and communicate in another language, Studly told them I'd been learning some Spanish. He looked at me with great pride and said, "Go ahead, honey. Tell them what you've learned."

I lowered my head and cleared my throat.

"Mi esposo es muy guapo," I said with confidence.

They fell out laughing. The foreman asked Studly if I knew what I'd just said. He assured them I did. I looked at the foreman and said, "Well he IS very handsome, don't you think?" More laughter... because, yes, Studly had taught me to say "my husband is very handsome."

At least I was wise to the antics now.

TWO times. Twice he's had fun teaching me silliness in Spanish.

Se te va a secar la lengua.

Aug 5, 2008

Blog Block Blues

I have three posts half written, but can't bring myself to finish any of them. They're either of heavy subject matter or of the "walk-down-memory-lane" ilk. I'm not in a "heavy" mood, and I really don't feel nostalgic.

I also have the REALLY-don't-want-to-heat-up-the-kitchen blues, also known as "what ARE we going to have for dinner?" Something fast. Something easy. Something tasty. Something healthy. Maybe even something cold. It IS 327 degrees in the shade here, ya know.

That all got me to wondering if I'm the only one feeling like that. (I know I'm not. I inherited the gene, so there are at least a couple other people on the planet like that.)

What are some of your favorite quick 'n' easy summer meals?

Help a girl out. Send me some lovin'... and some ideas/recipes.

Love ya'll.