Jul 31, 2008


Lying in bed for days, intermittantly wondering why man can walk on the moon, invent an iPod (or plasma TV or micro-computer chip or artificial heart or, um, Spanx) and build a guided missile that can accurately land on a gnat's behind but yet not find a cure for the common cold, I realized the mind is a terrible thing to waste. However, since my mind was in fact wasted on cold medicine, I figured I'd just go with the flow and see where it took me. In my wanderings, I wondered about the other ways my mind gets wasted. (I can trash myself without any help from my friends, thankyouverymuch.)

I waste it worrying. I waste it being angry. I waste it being grumpy. I waste it focusing on things that don't matter. Waste it on TV (but not a plasma one 'cuz Casa de Castro is devoid of those). Waste it on music that isn't edifying. Waste it trying to figure out "six degrees of separation" and Area 51. (Oh, I kid.)

The point is my mind is so scattered and full and busy and tired. It needs to be reconditioned. Refreshed. Rejuvenated. Rested. Restored. Renewed. Renewed...

What does that mean? How do I renew it? Or do I

ReNu it?
ReKnew it?
ReNUE it?

ReNu, my very favorite contact lens solution, does wonderful things for my eyes and my contacts. It is soothing and refreshing. But my mind? Not so much.

ReKnew Energy Systems "offers renewable energy systems that offset or replace grid electricity and the burning of fossil fuels for house heating." Since it is important to be green these days, this ReKnew could save money and be better for our environment. But my mind? Not so much.

ReNUE projects for urban environments are most likely a good way to breathe new life into developments in urban areas. Another worthy cause. But my mind? Not so much.

Renew. Renew. That's the only thing left.

Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

-We're not to take other men’s opinions or conduct as a rule for life, but wholly renounce this world, and set before us as our mark the will of God as is manifested and revealed to us in his word. (Geneva Study Bible)

- Renewing by such an inward spiritual transformation as makes the whole life new--new in its motives and ends, even where the actions differ in nothing from those of the world--new, considered as a whole, and in such a sense as to be wholly unattainable save through the constraining power of the love of Christ. (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown)

- Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in glory. The great enemy to this renewal is conformity to this world. Take heed of forming plans for happiness, as though it lay in the things of this world, which soon pass away. Do not fall in with the customs of those who walk in the lusts of the flesh, and mind earthly things. (Matthew Henry)

It is my duty - my duty - to renew my mind. How I struggle with that when I'm not keeping myself in structured and disciplined study of God's Word! In a few weeks, Studly Man and I will be starting a ten week study of the first three chapters of Revelation (ten weeks on three chapters?!?!) through Precept Upon Precept.

I can hardly wait 'cuz my mind? She's awastin' and needs renewin'.

Jul 30, 2008

A Hometown Friend??

My site meter friend tells me someone from Roanoke, Virginia stopped by here today. Since I have a great love for that beautiful city - I was born there (third generation Roanoker) and lived there until I was 12 at which time I was transplanted to Texas - I would LOVE to "meet" whoever stopped by and hear about how things are in the Blue Ridge mountains these days. Please leave a comment or email me. I'd love to chat!

Jul 29, 2008

Coveting a Laptop

While lying in bed for three days and four nights with a horrible respiratory bug, I formulated my next post in mind, thinking I'd post it tonight. I made it to work today but came home pretty wiped out. Still, I figured I could manage enough energy to, you know, SIT at the computer and type out my post. Then... Studly Man got a phone call from a long-lost-somebody-or-other that lasted for TWO HOURS. (And this was two MEN talking!) Then Studly needed to call his sweet aunt who lives in L.A. to check on her after the earthquake. (She's fine, praise the Lord... as is all of his family who just came through Hurricane Dolly.)

Of course he handled these calls from the "command center" AKA the desk in the office where the computer sits.

Studly @ Command Center = no bloggy for Jenn.

I'll be back with a real post tomorrow   whenever he buys me a laptop sometime soon. Until then, happy Wednesday ya'll.

Jul 25, 2008

Awarding a Blessing

My sweet friend, Kim, over at Seasons of my Heart blessed me this award.

I am truly humbled and honored. While I blog mostly as a creative outlet for myself and as a fun way to keep in touch with old friends and my family, I've been amazed at how many NEW and wonderful friends I've made through the fun that is blogging. What a blessing!

As instructed by Kim, I'm going to "go forth and share the love" and hopefully bless someone else today.

Sheryl, DidiLyn, Amy Beth, Paula and Donna (recipients of the award):

Your “official instructions” follow. Pick five blogs you consider deserving of this award, whether for creativity, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogging community, no matter what language. Name each nominee and link to his/her blog. Show the award and include the name (and link to his/her blog) of whoever presented you with this award. Link to the Arte y Pico blog so everyone knows the origin of this award. Post these rules.

Sheryl at The Perch

DidiLyn at Meyers on the Hood

Amy Beth at Ministry So Fabulous

Paula at His Ways... are not our ways

Donna at Quiet Life

Ladies, you entertain and inspire me, make me laugh, and just plain bless my socks off. Now YOU go forth and share the love!

Jul 22, 2008

I Can't Come To Work Today Because I'm... Afraid

Edited to add: (not a very delicate thing, but...) This morning I went to throw a tissue in the toilet. As I approached, the lid was closed, which is a bit unusual. (The BigDog has to have SOMEWHERE to drink from ya know!) Any way, when I lifted the lid, guess what I saw? Yep, another one of "those creatures" - it's that time of year in Texas I guess - floating in the bowl. I commented to Studly that I'd seen it, and he said, "Well, I TRIED to save you from it. I guess he's a good swimmer." Yes, Studly is my hero. He did TRY...

It isn't every day I find myself scared senseless... at work. Okay, it is, but not usually for the reason I was the other day.

The work day before had been interesting. The last patient of the day, a man who is "cute in a 'bad boy' sort of way" according to my deranged boss, apparently didn't think we had anything else to do after 5:00 except, you know, hang out at the office while he chatted up his buds on the cell (in spite of the fact that there is a sign on the door asking people to PUH-LEEEZE turn their cell phones off while in the office). Um, hello? We CLOSE at 5:00, and we'd like to GO HOME! Mr. BadBoy hadn't even started his new patient paperwork when the nurse went to check on him at 5:20. (His appointment was at 4:00.) He seemed a little startled by her offer to help him and responded by saying, "Oh, do you need this room?" Um, yeah. We NEED this room to be EMPTY! Hang up that phone and get busy, buddy.

After he made his way to the front desk to check out, he took two.more.calls.on.his.cell. Oh, yes he did. It never ceases to amaze me a) how selfish and entitled people can be these days; b) how awful some people's cell phone manners are; and c) how much I want to slap some sense into people from time to time. That was a big 'ole rabbit trail, but my, I feel better!

Anywho, I arrived at the office with the memories of the previous day still fresh. I went into my office and put down my purse and cell phone, got a ginormous cup of coffee (my coworkers call my coffee cup the "foot bath" because it is so big) and sat down at my desk, ready to dive in to the day's work. I opened the center drawer and reached in to get a pen.

And then it happened.

It happened so quickly. There was no time to prepare.

As I reached into the drawer







and scurried toward the back of the drawer.

I slammed the drawer shut (almost catching my fingers), squealed loud enough to be heard in Tibet, and ran screaming from the building to the front office. My boss was in surgery, and the nurse had gone over to the hospital to visit a postop patient, so I was all alone.

Just me and my lizard.

So I did what any brave girl would do. I called my husband.

He laughed at me. Oh, yes. Yes, he did.

He said (in words that sounded strangely like "what-do-you-want-ME-to-do-about-it") that it probably wasn't the end of the world and that he thought I'd be okay. I made a mental note to run him over with my car not count on him to bail me out since he was, you know, 15 miles away. Realizing he was far too busy with real issues to listen to my ranting, I mercifully cut him loose and decided to call someone who could actually come to my rescue.

You see, I don't like things that creep or crawl, except perhaps tiny humans who have not yet learned to walk in the full, upright position. I don't even like to see pictures of them. My other coworker (who wasn't working that day) asked me if I was going to post some witty photo link of my pet lizard. Um, no. 'Cuz that would mean having to actually LOOK AT PICTURES OF LIZARDS, and hello? I don't do that. So use your imagination if you really need a picture. I can't tell you exactly how big he was because I was so busy running away, but suffice it to say it was about 900 feet long and 52 feet wide. You get the idea.

After speaking to Mr. NoCanHelpYou Studly Man, I got the brilliant idea to call the building maintenance guys. I told Elaine, the very sympathetic woman who answered the phone and confirmed that I am NOT a wimp, that I'd just wait for the fellas to come down. They did. An hour later.

They were dressed like this. One of them had a contraption that resembled a canister vacuum strapped to his back. And the search began.

Unfortunately, no lizard was found.

He is at large.

In my office.


I can't come to work today because I'm... afraid.

Jul 20, 2008

What a NIGHT!

Edited to add: This blog post took me over three hours to write because I spent so much time on YouTube watching Ms. McBride sing. What.a.voice.

"So, was it hot?" you ask?

Um, yeah. It was hot.

"Did you almost faint from the heat?" you wonder.

Well, yes. Yes, we did.

"But was it fun?"

Y.E.S. Yes, it was fun.

That BFF of mine? She rocks. And so did Martina. And Jack Ingram. What a show!

Burlene (that's my BFF - I'll have to explain some day why I call her Burlene, especially since her name is really Matilda) and her daughters treated me to one heckuva fun time. We started out by puttin' on the feed bag here. I went with my old standby, a turkey melt and some sweeeeeet tea. De-licious! Thinly sliced deli turkey, some melted provolone cheese and just-made guacamole on wheat bread?? Heaven!

Sorry. Reminiscing there for a moment. Made myself hungry.

Then we motored on the down the highway to the furnace venue and parked our trusty ride. Burlene drives a gangsta car. I felt safe. No one would mess with four women in a gangsta car, especially if one of them is Annie Oakley.

After picking up our tickets at the Will Call window and securing some beverages, we found our seats... right down front. We thought they were on the second row. Turns out they were on the fourth row. Oh, darn. The fourth row was BETTER than the second row! Row two might have been a little too close, and our necks woulda been sore from tiltin' our heads back for three hours. But there we were. Front and center. Oh, yes ma'am. C.E.N.T.E.R. In a word, our seats were perfect. Hot, but perfect.

There were two warm up acts. We missed the first one. The second one, however, was great. Jack Ingram is a homegrown Texas boy. I hafta confess: I wasn't familiar with his music. I typically listen to Christian contemporary stuff and haven't always been a huge fan of country music. However, this guy and his band put on an energetic, entertaining show. Watching them sweat up there made us all feel guilty for even THINKING about how hot we were.

Now being the pragmatic girl I am, with wisdom and forethought decided to take along this little thing. Burlene made some snide comment about my "cute little fan." However, the day AFTER the concert when she had to go to an outdoor birthday party at 4:00 in the afternoon, she said she thought maybe she should borrow that nifty little fan of mine. Ha! It WAS a good idea. During Jack Ingram's set, I did at one point think I would literally melt and ooze right off the hard, blue metal chair I was sitting on and run right down onto the concrete floor only to be mixed with someone's spilt beer. But my trusty little $1.50 fan saved.my.life. Anyone who knows me also knows how much I dislike being hot. Studly Man thought I was plumb crazy to even agree to go to an outdoor concert in July in Texas. But with a fan... eh. I made it.

The panic started toward the end of Jack's set. I realized the batteries in my trusty little fan were overworked and underpaid and just might mount a protest or a labor strike or something equally as horrible. I knew what I had to do. I had to find more batteries.

At intermission, I set out on a quest for batteries and water. The water was easy to find. The batteries? Not so much. I asked 1,234 people if they knew where I might buy some batteries. Each time I was met with one of two expressions. This one or this one. Just as I was about to give up and return to my seat, I spotted a little booth where they sell those light-up-glow-in-the-dark necklaces. I walked over and said in a very weary and defeated tone, "I don't suppose you sell batteries, do you?" The very kind young woman working the booth asked what kind of batteries I needed and how many. I told her. She said, "Well, I don't SELL them, but I have some in my purse." I yelled, "SOLD!" I pulled out some cash, she pulled out some batteries, we exchanged our possessions, and all was right with the world. I wouldn't melt after all.

I got back to my fourth-row-front-and-center seat about three minutes before Martina (we're on a first name basis now) took the stage. I settled in for what turned out to be an incredible distraction from the heat! Can I just say... that girl can S.I.N.G.

She's cute as a button and tiny as a church mouse, and how that big 'ole voice comes out of her, I'll never know. That's a picture from the paper this morning, taken during the concert. What it DOESN'T show is the gorgeous pair of five-inch Christian Louboutin ankle strap shoes she o.w.n.e.d. How she walked on them is a puzzlement to me, but how she danced on them and ran all over that stage in them left my mind plumb boggled.

She did most of her hits. But in addition to those, she covered Bill Withers' "Lean On Me" (that link is actually from the performance I saw two nights ago - video isn't great, but sound is okay), Aretha Franklin's "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman," Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Ya'll... she can sing.

She sang "Anyway." I've heard it a zillion times, but I'm ashamed to say I never knew it was Martina singing it. It has become a great crossover hit on the Christian stations. Awesome song!

And she sang "Concrete Angel" with the video playing behind her. I watched as people all around us wiped the tears that had silently slipped down their cheeks. At the end of the song, the jumbotron screens gave contact information for the child abuse hot line. Martina has done a lot to raise awareness of this horrendous plague that so many children face.

She's gorgeous. She can sing. She has a heart for kids. And she has a new fan.

After the concert we made our way back to the gangsta car and talked about what an amazing show we'd just witnessed. We were entertained and moved, and it was just a perfect evening.


Once we went through the drive-thru at Taco Bell and got crunchy tacos and Strawberry Fruitista Freezes, it was a perfect evening.

Oh, yeah. And she can sing.

Jul 18, 2008

Tonight, Tonight

Tonight I'm going here to see her - - outside. The weather will be like this. I know two songs she sings. My BFF had good seats and invited me to go.


Jul 15, 2008

Medical Information at Your Fingertips

It's "hump day," so that means it's Works-For-Me Wednesday over at Rocks In My Dryer.

Years ago, my mom called me and asked me to meet her in the emergency room where my dad was being taken. At the intake desk, many questions were asked of her about my dad's medications, allergies, surgical history, etc. She was understandably shaken by the very fact she was IN the ER with her beloved, and those details needed by the medical staff did not come easily to her memory.

After that, I decided to make a medical history form for every member of the family. I made it up in Microsoft Word so it could be easily updated as necessary. The form includes the demographic info (name, address, phone, date of birth, etc.), current insurance information, name and phone number of the individuals' various doctors, all medications AND dosages being taken, allergies (SO important for health care providers to know), surgical history and even some pertinant family history. Several copies of each person's history were printed.

Then I went to the office supply and bought red file folders and marked them "MEDICAL HISTORY" on the front. The medical histories were put inside the folders. The red folders (one per household) were placed near the telephone that is used most frequently. That way it is handy if a 9-1-1 call is necessary or to grab on the way out the door in case of emergency. (When I was seeing a doctor for the first time recently, I included one of these with my new patient paperwork. The doctor commented that he "wished all of his patients were that prepared!" He's referred to that page several times on subsequent visits.)

Now ALL of the important information is in one place, and no one has to face an emotionally charged situation while counting on his/her memory to relay potentially life-saving info to caregivers. Every time I change the batteries in the smoke detectors ("spring forward" and "fall back" daylight savings times), I also review the files for any needed updates.

Here's a sample form:


The power of music.

Its ability to stir a heart.

Its capacity to elevate to another level.

Its skillful art of propelling one into worship.

THIS song:

Jul 13, 2008

The Real Thing(s)

When I was little, I had a stuffed doggie that I adored. It was a little pink poodle, and his name was, um, Pink Poodle. (Ya can't take off too many points for lack of creativity - I was three or four!) Pink Poodle frequently accompanied me to imaginary destinations and sometimes even to real ones. The ONE place he ALWAYS had to be at night was in bed, right.next.to.me. Couldn't go to sleep without him. Wouldn't even try.

One tragic evening, that all changed forever. Mom tucked us in (P.P. and me) and off we went to dreamland. At some point during the night, I got sick. Really sick. Almost THIS sick. Please pardon my lack of fragile flower-ness here, but I threw up all over Pink Poodle and myself.

My momma pulled me out of bed, peeled my pajamas off, and gave me a warm bath. I cried through the whole thing. I remember it like it happened yesterday. Of course the bedding had been changed by the time she put me back in bed, and of course, Pink Poodle had been removed from the scene. His poor little body had been placed in a paper bag and put out with the trash.

When I realized he was missing, I had a meltdown. Not the poor-little-sick-child-doesn't-feel-well meltdown. The YOU-BETTER-GET-MY-PINK-POODLE-BACK-OR-I'LL-MAKE-THE-REST-OF-YOUR-NATURAL-LIFE-A-LIVING-HELL meltdown. I'm dainty that way.

Out of great compassion Because she knew her child very well (and thus knew that threat was R.E.A.L.), my momma retrieved P.P. from the trash and attempted to clean him up. Although she gave it a valiant effort, there was no way to clean him up except to put him...





Note to moms everywhere: Do NOT put your child's most favorite stuffed animal in the washing machine. It will not survive.

Alas, Pink Poodle's demise was sure.

And I was inconsolable.

I needed Pink Poodle back. A massive man dog hunt ensued for a new Pink Poodle. (Now I know that I am not the only little girl ever to lose her pink doggie, and I also know each victim finds the loss unfathomable, which sends every adult she knows scrambling for another pink dog just like the lost one.) I digress.

Pink Poodle's twin was not to be found. I had to settle for this little guy.
I was NOT happy as one might imagine, but apparently, from the looks of this pup, I overcame my prejudice and learned to love him, too.

I hadn't seen him in years and years. I found him in the foot locker. He appears to have been well loved at some point. However, I don't remember that I ever named him. He's NOT a poodle, but he is was pink. Perhaps I didn't name him because I figured it would be easier to lose him if he didn't have a name. You know... like farmers never name their pigs or cows because it makes it too hard come slaughter time. Any way, this pink dog served his purpose. He was my friend and companion for a long time.

Now that I'm all grown up, I don't need a little stuffed pink dog any more.

'Cuz I have THIS dog:He's the real thing.

And I don't need some lame guy to play Mr. RightNow, because I have THIS guy:
He's the real thing.

And I don't need to place my trust in chariots or horses because I have Him:
And He's the Real Thing.

Jul 9, 2008

Slicing Pretty Strawberries

Over at Rocks In My Dryer, it's Works For Me
Wednesday! I always love finding great new ideas and ways of making life simpler. It's also fun to check out other blogs through the links. Learn sumthin' new ever' day!

Ever notice how restaurants always have those beautiful thinly and evenly sliced strawberries? They look so much prettier as garnishes on desserts or just on a buffet than the chunky, uneven slices I end up with when using my knife. I finally learned how to get pretty and EASY strawberry slices at home.

Once the berries have been washed and the stem and leaves removed, they are ready to go. Using an egg slicer, place a strawberry in the slicer, and close the "lid." Voila! Perfectly sliced strawberries every.single.time. (Do make sure the egg slicer is the heavier duty type; some of the inexpensive plastic ones will break doing this.)

I've wowed guests with my "professional looking" slices. So quick! So easy!

P.S. "Foot locker" post below. Keep readin'!

Jul 8, 2008

Foot Locker Findings

My mom and dad have been doing some "spring cleaning."

Since Christmas.

Let me explain.

On Christmas morning, Ma and Pa were to come by our house (they only live a mile away) and pick us up so we could all motor over to my sister's house for the day. Sister lives a half hour to 45 minutes away, so it makes sense to ride together and save.some.gas.

Early that morning, the phone rang. Caller ID said (and yes, I mean SAID 'cuz our CID talks) the call was coming from the home of my parental units. I answered with a cheerful "Merry Christmas!" only to hear my dad say, "Hello there. It's Paw." (That's what his grandkids call him.) I could hear the frustration in his voice. He said, "We're going to be a little late. We've had a little problem."

Problem? On Christmas morning?

The bottom of the hot water heater had given way some time during the night, and a gazillion gallons of water had poured onto the floor... for several hours. Water was everywhere. I asked him if they needed us to help, and he said no. I told Studly Man what had happened. We looked at each other and knew what we had to do. We got dressed and went over any way.

Water was e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

The water heater resides in a closet in a hallway that is situated between the formal dining room and a fourth bedroom that had become the "warehouse" for all kinds of junk stuff. Some of it was mine. Okay, a lot of it was mine. Some was my sister's. (Yes, we've both been gone from home for years, but hey, why hurry?) A lot of it was Mom and Dad's.

The dining room furniture was sitting in water. The sunken living room that flows (Oooo... sorry) from the formal dining room had literally become a pool that splashed when you walked in it. The fourth bedroom and its closet were soaked.

In a word, it was wet overwhelming.

After unloading all the china and all the crystal from the hutch onto the dining room table that had been relocated to the middle of the kitchen floor, we started moving the other furniture out. And then we started moving boxes out of the fourth bedroom. And moving boxes out of the fourth bedroom. And moving boxes out of the fourth bedroom. And.... you get the point. Everything was wet.

After calling the insurance people (the whole family is in Good Hands, doncha know) and figuring out the next move, we finally got cleaned up and went over to Sister's to salvage something of our day of celebration. We did decide that even though we'd spent the morning sloshing around and moving furniture, that was a GREAT way to spend Christmas day as compared to the one we'd had three years before when we spent it in a hospital room with Daddy after he'd had a series of TIAs (mini-strokes). That was seven weeks after he'd had quintuple bypass surgery. Yeah. We'll take moving soggy furniture over that ANY day!

To make a long story longer, in the weeks that followed, it was discovered that the water heater problem was perhaps a blessing in disguise. Isn't God funny that way? What seemed like a disaster (and it did seem like it at the time) turned out to be the very thing that exposed some other problems that needed attention.

Several months later, wall board has been repaired and replaced, fresh painting has been done, new carpet has been installed throughout the house, brick planters in front of the house have been replaced with beautifully landscaped beds, and even the garage has been cleaned out and organized. Oh, and there's a new hot water heater, too.

After a ton of work getting the house reassembled, Ma and Pa decided to go through years of accumulated stuff - theirs, both of their mothers', my sister's and mine. Now one can imagine this process would take a while. What most can't imagine is how my little ole' daddy would go through it. If it didn't go straight to a dumpster somewhere, it got scanned, cataloged, repacked, or all of the above. Clearly having a photographic record of such things is imperative.

One of the things unearthed was an old foot locker of Dad's that had been adopted by me when I was in junior high. It became my treasure chest. I hadn't see it or its contents in at least two decades.

Dad scanned most of the pictures and scrapbook type stuff that was in there. I haven't stopped laughing at what I saw. The stuff I saved!!

Well... look...

Here's a felt horse glued on some wallpaper that was glued on a piece of cardboard. I'm guessing I glued this together, no doubt with the guidance of some talented and/or artsy adult.
My hand prints with the requisite poem. I was probably four or five.
A half-eaten picture of my sister and me in front of a birch tree in our front yard in Virginia. (I'm the one on the right, and I think I'm probably about five.) I'm positive my momma made our little outfits. She's quite the seamstress.

While there are many more "treasures" to explore in future blog posts, these were some of the few that made me giggle. And while it was fun to stroll down Memory Lane, there were actually very few things in the foot locker that I'll keep. Oh, sure I'll keep the photos and certificates. But the greeting cards from my first love? The program of a play another beau starred in? Newspaper clippings about people I barely remember? Nah. Those are going to the great garbage can in the sky.

I'm going to treasure my real treasures - my sweet momma and daddy who hung on to all my stuff, waded through deep waters (literally and figuratively) with me and taught me how to place value on what really matters most, the loving home they raised us in, and the spiritual heritage and legacy they've given me.

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21

That right there? That's pure gold.

Jul 4, 2008

"I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free. "

Can't you just hear Lee Greenwood singing?

I am proud to be an American. Our country is not perfect. Far from it. But it IS the greatest country on this planet. No other country recognizes the freedoms we so often take for granted. And few countries were founded on Judao-Christian principles.

I love the Fourth of July. I love the pomp and circumstance and the fireworks and the playing of our National Anthem. I love the whole process of what it means to be patriotic. And I really love it when someone else's expression of patriotism sends chills down my spine.

Like this:

If you are grateful for the blessing and privilege of living in the most amazing country on earth, take the time to find a veteran who fought for her freedom and personally thank him or her. Then pause and thank our great God for all that we enjoy.

Happy Fourth, ya'll.

Jul 2, 2008

From Grumbling to Grateful

I've been grumbling. A lot.

I don't like to grumble.

I don't like to be around people who grumble.

God tells us not to grumble, and especially not to grumble against Him.

Why am I am grumbling? Why can't I be content?

Philippians 1:14-15 says, "Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world."

1 Timothy 6:6 says, "But godliness is actually a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment."

Why am I grumbling?

My life is full. I sat down to create a compare/contrast list of things I've grumbled about over the last few months. Astonshing.

My doctor hasn't yet been able to regulate my thyroid medication, and I'm really, really tired all.the.time. which makes me a tired, grouchy grumbler. I live in a day and age where simple daily medication is available and can, in fact, take care of the problem. My current medical challenge is extrememly minor in the grand scheme of things, and it certainly pales in comparison to the struggles of others I know and pray for regularly.

My office sees a whole lot of folks who have a "sense of entitlement" and treat others rudely and presumptuously. This gets really old, ya'll. I have a job that is keeping a roof over our heads, AND I have an opportunity to influence others in a positive manner.

I don't always choose to try to influence others in a positive manner, and I know I should, which makes me feel guilty. I'm doing better, and I do have the power because Jesus lives in me.

My housekeeper keeps breaking things in my house. I have the wherewithall to HAVE a housekeeper, and the things she has broken are just... THINGS.

There are some difficult issues being dealt with among my family. I have a family that loves me and loves each other and works together to build and maintain wonderful relationships, something many people I know cannot say.

It is h.o.t. in Texas. I don't like to be hot. Seriously. My home, my office, and my car have air conditioning. I'm thankful for air conditioning.

Studly Man hasn't been employed in 15+ months. My job has paid the bills.

Studly Man hasn't been employed in 15+ months. He has an exciting new project that we believe is about to be incoming producing AND puts him in front of even more prison wardens who may issue new invitations for us to minister to incarcerated youth.

Studly Man hasn't been employed in 15+ months. My husband is at home - with me - and not given to defeat.

The budget has been tight, and we've had to forego things we want and tighten our proverbial belts. Our needs are met, and then some.

The political climate in America is beyond scary because America turns her back on God a little more each day. Daniel 2 says that GOD is the One Who establishes kings AND the One Who removes kings. (No person will come to power anywhere except that God permits it.) God is still in control no matter who ends up in Washington.

Satan won't leave us alone. God is at work in our lives, and that poses a great threat to the enemy.

Satan is waging war against the Church. We belong to a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church that refuses to compromise, stands on the Truth, and does what is right instead of what is popular.

The list is a lot longer, but I'll stop with that. My conclusions were simple.

How dare my attitude be one of grumbling? Have I learned NOTHING from studying about the children of Israel and their grumbling against God?

Zig Ziglar and Dale Carnegie got it right. Positive thinking yields positive results. As a child of God, I have hope which is the epitome of a positive attitude. I'm instructed in Philippians 4 to dwell on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, whatever has any excellence and whatever is worthy of praise. If I actually DO that, there's no room for grumbling. Only gratefulness. I am grateful, but am I grateful enough?

I'm working on it.

What struggles are causing you to grumble? How can you focus on being more grateful? How can I encourage you?