Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Arch Nemesis

Oh yes, I have enemies. And they are large in number. They wait silently, growing more and more vile each hour. When I finally think I have rid my life of them...they come back stronger and more numerous than before. They plot against me, looking for any weakness to exploit.

I hate dirty dishes. I'm talking HATE. And I hate washing them even more. When I worked full time, I could escape the crockery mockery for hours. Then when I came home, I could justify not washing them because spending time with my kids took priority. But now I'm home pretty much all the time minus church, pre-school, and errands to exotic and exciting places like Wal-Mart. So those dastardly dishes have been wearing me down slowly...methodically...

It didn't help that our dishwasher was probably the first one ever made. Sure, it matched the 1960's cabinets to perfection, but it certainly didn't wash dishes. So since it breathed it's last sputtering breath a couple months ago, it has been sitting forlorn and neglected. Not even Frank was willing to fix it. I wonder if there is a booming market for antique dishwashers?

So I have been washing dishes the old fashioned way. Some days were good. I would psych myself up and go at it with gusto, putting a good CD in to lessen the pain and suffering. Some days were bad. I would shun the crusty crocks altogether and dive into my stash of paper goods if things got desperate.

But there is hope, my friends. There is hope!! I have been saved from Palm Olive peril. My loving husband, recognizing my dire circumstances, found a "sweet deal" on a dishwasher and gave it to me on Christmas Eve. His co-workers warned him that buying a dishwasher for your wife for Christmas could have epic and disastrous consequences akin to being the captain of the Titanic...but Frank assured them that he knew me well and that it was a gift I would like.

He was right. While a dishwasher is not exactly the epitome of romance, it is something I secretly was wishing for. But I didn't ask. It was just too big. However, I am not ashamed to say that when it was revealed, I clapped my hands like a little kid on Christmas morning and I gave the dishwasher a small hug.

You're going DOWN putrid pans. And the filthy flatware is going with you. Mu ha ha!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

How Does One Write a Bio?

Hi everyone! It's good to be back home and blogging, although it's just for a couple days. On Wednesday we head to my parent's house in northern Indiana to ring in the new year and have a belated Christmas with my family on Thursday. Then the festivities will officially end and things will get back to "normal." (Normal being the regular insanity instead of holiday insanity.)

Anyway, Frank and I received an email from our church pal Larry the other day. He needs a bio from us to put on the church's new website. The rest of the site is up. It's as www.healingpointe.com, if you want to check it out. But our info is noticeably absent if you look at the church leadership link. Larry was kind enough to say we're fantastic and talented...but Amy and Eric have quotes and everything, and I've never even written a bio before. In fact, I'm still a little queasy about the fact that we're listed as "Worship Pastors." The "P" word makes me nervous....call me a leader, co-leader, teammate, worship dudette, that girl who sings and plays the piano thing, anything...anyway...

Here's what I have so far. I need help. Too long? Too generic? Too cheesy? What would you want to know if you were going to visit a church and wanted to make sure the "worship pastors" weren't completely clueless? Should I let people know what type of music we have? So many questions...

With that I give you the draft of THE BIO:

Frank and Beth Sabelhaus grew up in different parts of Indiana, but met each other as students at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. They got to know each other through the Campus Crusade for Christ worship band, and have been playing music together ever since. Shortly after they got married in 2001, Frank and Beth started serving at Crossroads Community Church in Sullivan, Indiana in the areas of youth and music. They led their own Christian band, Behind Four Walls, for a couple years and then were a part of a local worship band, Thirsty. Through these ministries, they found a passion and calling for leading others in worship through music.

Frank graduated from ISU in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. He currently works for the City of Terre Haute as a Systems Administrator and is working towards a Master's Degree in Personal Evangelism and Church Planting from Liberty University. Frank loves recording music, playing drums, and a good home repair challenge.

Beth graduated from ISU in 2001 and has worked for various non-profit organizations over the years. However, no job has ever compared to her current challenge of being a stay-at-home mom to their three children, Annabelle, Joey, and Jay! Beth loves volunteering at Ryves Youth Center, blogging, and kicking back with a good book.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

H-E Double Hockey Sticks May Be Freezing Over...

The weather here is nuts and we have freezing rain all over. I was going to go help at the youth center Christmas Party this evening, but I'm not sure I want to brave the roads. I hope I get to go! I miss those kiddos, even if the party is usually krazy with a capital K.

Anyway, while I'm waiting and deciding, I thought I would post a recipe. Yes, you read that correctly. A recipe. I'll wait a moment for you to close any jaws that may be hanging open....

Okay. Ready? Breathe.

This is a dessert cheeseball that my women's group makes around the holidays for a fundraiser. It's almost like a big ball of cheesecake goodness but it's a lot easier to make than cheesecake. Unless you buy the instant jell-o kind... ;)

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
graham cracker

Directions
1 Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
2 Gradually add the sugars, mixing just until combined.
3 Stir in the chocolate chips.
4 Cover in plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Chill for at least 3 hours.
5 Just before serving, roll the cheese ball in the chopped pecans.
6 Serve with graham crackers.

P.S. My kids really like it with animal crackers.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Then and Now





One of my very favorite things about the holidays is seeing family that I don't get to see nearly enough during the year. Here's a fun look at my sister, brother, and I around 1988 (20 years ago!?!) and us again this past Thanksgiving. Now that we're grown-ups (and I use that term loosely), we live in three different states(well, technically one lives in a district that's not a state) and it's rare that we're all in the same place at the same time. But when we do get together, I am always so proud to learn more about who my siblings are now and all that they are up to. My sister, Christy, lives in Michigan, teaches Spanish, and this past June she and her husband became parents for the first time to my cutie nephew Linus. My brother, David, is an economics grad student at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and has been married for over a year now. Both are internationally minded, articulate, smart, seek to serve their community, and are a part of dynamic churches in their respective cities. I will always be the big sister, I suppose, but I really admire them both. And I think God has some big stuff planned for their futures. I can't wait to see how it unfolds!

When we are together, it sometimes still amazes me that they are adults...because I grew up, but I forget they did, too. I still think they are kids...and I think I have to boss them around...or state the obvious for them...
But that is one of the things I like best about the three of us getting together. No matter how much time has past or how far apart we live, when we are together, we can still be the same little kids for a moment...sitting at the "kids" table stuffing our faces and rolling our eyes at our parents taking pictures of us.

Love you both!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hope

I was doing my everyday thing the other day. Trying to balance taking care of a house and taking care of my kids and feeling like I was losing the battle on both sides. I had plopped the baby in his bassinet upstairs to throw some laundry in the washer and he really did not appreciate it. After a few wails, I stopped a looked at him. Maybe a song would help. The Robbie Seay Band's Song of Hope was in my head, so I sang...

I will sing a song of hope
Sing along
God of heaven come down
Heaven come down
Just to know you and be loved is enough
God of heaven come down
Heaven come down

His chubby face just lit up so instantly it was almost comical. So I sang the whole song, complete with some dance moves. Annabelle joined me, as this is her favorite song and her singing was probably why it was stuck in my head to begin with. Who knows what Joey was getting into at that particular moment. Oh well. Two out of three ain't bad.

As we finished our impromptu concert and I continued with the laundry, the song stayed with me. What a fitting song for Christmas time, I thought. A time when we celebrate a God who really did come down to earth as a little baby named Jesus. A baby just like mine. A God who gave us a never failing source of hope. And in knowing His love we find everything we need. Why is it so easy to forget that? Why is it so easy to get lost in my circumstances on this earth, circumstances that seem to be pretty good and yet I still tend to focus on the negative?

Sometimes I catch myself comparing my life to others' lives and feel guilty. I have so much compared to so many in the world. My life looks pretty good on paper- a healthy family, loving family and friends, an awesome church, a roof over my head, food to eat, enough money to pay the bills... So why don't I jump for joy every morning as I get out of bed? Is there something wrong with me? With that little Song of Hope moment, God seemed to say, "Yes! And there will always be something wrong until you get to heaven and spend eternity with me! I made you to long for a perfection that you will never be able to achieve on your own. You were designed to need Me. When you feel this way, stop throwing pity parties for yourself, stop feeling sorry for others, and instead recognize that this ache is just a way to draw close to Me and remember the hope I promised you."

Romans 8:22-25 says it like this:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

I have come to love blogging and those I have met in our little blogging community so very much. It seems that each day I walk away encouraged and I am reminded of the hope I need to hold close. Thank you all for that! And if you're reading this post and my talk of Jesus and Christianity and all this stuff about hope doesn't make sense to you, I would love to tell you more. (Just send me an email.) I can't promise to know all the answers to your questions, but I can tell you why a little baby Jesus born over 2000 years ago means so much to me.

Merry Christmas! Sing a song of hope!




P.S. I found an accoustic version of Song of Hope here. I think I like it more than the original, although the video distracts me a bit...if pretty pictures cause you to have an inner dialogue that is louder than the message of the song...just push play and scroll up so you don't see the video. Maybe that's just me...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twilight Zone




Have you ever had a really strange coincidence happen in your life that makes you feel like the Twilight Zone music should start playing in the background? Seems like everyone has a story like this, but I wanted to share it anyway...

A couple weeks ago, I was getting ready for my women's group December meeting (aka, pig out at the Mexican restaurant), and Frank came home from work. His first words were,

"Don't be mad. I did NOT order that guitar on the porch."

WHAT?! I didn't even know there WAS a guitar on the porch. Upon further inspection, the UPS man(or woman) had delivered a very nice brand new Gibson Les Paul guitar to our doorstep. Unfortunately, it was supposed to go a house in town with the same address but on the NORTH side of the street versus the SOUTH. Someone would be missing their guitar...probably a Christmas present. So I loaded up the big box in the van and decided to play Santa/UPS girl on my way to the restaurant.

When I found the house, I was a little nervous. I am walking up to a stranger's door unannounced in the dark, I thought. Hopefully I could shield my body from the bullets with the guitar box, should the occupant be trigger happy. Then I shook my head. I have GOT to stop watching crime dramas, I told myself.

I didn't even make it to the door before it opened and a nice looking guy about my own age stepped out. He looked relieved. He must have been waiting all day for his "baby" to arrive and instantly I felt the bond of musicianship.

"Uh, they delivered this our house by mistake today. Thought you might miss it. It's a nice guitar!" I said.

"Thanks! I was worried it wasn't going to come today!" he said.

"Well, my husband plays, and might have thought about keeping it for a second," I said, revealing way too much information while talking to a stranger. (Also, Frank was the one who WANTED me to take it to the correct house. Maybe I was the one with guitar envy...hmmm)

"Tell him he has good taste!" he said.

And on I went to my meeting. I was a little late and told my guitar story/excuse. We had a good time pigging out. At the close of the meeting, we headed to Wal-Mart to pick names off of the tree of some children to help for Christmas out of our cheeseball sale profits. I gave my friend Stacy a ride, since her husband Josh dropped her off and was playing guitar with a friend of his that he met at work. She said he was pretty cool, was new to Sullivan and was getting a new guitar he wanted to try out. When we got ready to leave Wal-Mart, I asked Stacy if she needed a ride to Josh's friend's house. It would work out well, she thought, because he lived on the same street I did. Wait a minute. Do I hear music?

Doo doo doo doo. Twilight Zone.

You guessed it. Josh's new friend was the guy I took the guitar to! Not the biggest coincidence in the world since there's not THAT many people in Sullivan, Indiana. But I still think it's funny that Josh has two guitar playing friends who have the same address (except for the North and South thing). So I ended up taking Stacy back to the very same house I had just been to a couple hours before.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stop the Presses!! There's a Generic Slanket!!

Ok, so ever since my friend Kathy did a post on the hilariously insane stuff in the Skymall magazine (you know, the one you find in airplanes), I have been really wanting a Slanket. I would use this thing constantly. Reading, holding the baby, blogging, driving around in my car when I leave my coat at my in-laws, you name it.

But I feel a little guilty asking for a gift that's a glorified blanket costing over $40 that was featured in Skymall AND QVC. That's like a double warning to me screaming that no one actually needs this product. Plus it's SOLD OUT until after Christmas. I was devastated. Until I found...the Snuggie! A Slanket knock-off! Christmas could be saved! Only $14.95!

Be sure to watch for a dog that looks exactly like Phoebe at the minute mark.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Being Pulled




Some days things just don't go the way I planned. I had a good plan yesterday, I thought. I would order a pizza as a treat for the kids and my hubby, pick it up before he got home from work, and go off to my preschool staff Christmas party. Sounds simple, right? As Joey says, "Nooope."

I started to bundle up the kids to get the pizza and I realized....my coat was nowhere to be found. My coat containing my wallet in which resides the debit card I use to pay for 99.6% of all my purchases. Look in car. No coat. Look in house. No coat. Ug. I must have forgotten to put my coat in the car when we left Frank's parents on Sunday evening. Mind you, I checked 87 times to make sure I put the kids' coats, hats, gloves, and other winter paraphernalia in the car. But my own coat? Nooope. So I had no way to pay for the pizza I had just ordered. I never have cash. I was out of checks. Oops.

So when Frank got home, he valiantly offered to go get the pizza with the kids, so I wouldn't be late to my party. All three kids and car seats do not fit in his truck, which meant he got to take the BIG UGLY GREY VAN. In it's former life, the BIG UGLY GREY VAN (BUGV) was a church van that was later used to haul stuff for a business and finally ended up in our possession as a means to haul junk to the junkyard as we work on our house. We really want to drive the BUGV to our pastor's house sometime and tell him we found a sweet deal on a van for the church just to see his reaction.... Anyway, the point is that BUGV is not the most reliable vehicle, but then again, neither are the other vehicles we own. It makes every day an adventure.

So off I went to my party, where I enjoyed a delish meal at the Olive Garden sans kids and got to appreciate the wonderment of preschool teacher holiday sweaters. I also picked up a couple of groceries and found an awesome sale on sleepers (3 for $10!!) and had fun picking out matching sleepers for my crew to wear Christmas morning. (Awwwww....)

When I finally returned home, Frank casually mentioned that we needed to go pick up the van because it died. Ummmm...so how did they get home? They walked. In the cold. Frank lugging Baby Jay in his car seat and two other kids in tow. Fortunately it wasn't that far and there is a grocery store on the way home where they took a "warm break." So where was my phone so that he could have gotten a hold of me? Tada! In my coat pocket, of course! Amazing how one spacey moment can affect so many things.

So you'd think Frank would be pretty angry with me and the world in general at this point. Nooope. He bought cookie dough at the store and when they got home he baked cookies with the kids and was wrapping Christmas presents when I got home. If the van breakdown had happened to me, I'd probably be found hiding in bed snarling at my kids and eating my weight in chocolate.

Then came the question...do you want to be the puller or the pullee? Needless to say, we've done this before. I hate being either...both make me very, very nervous. But since it was my fault, I inhaled deeply and accepted my responsibility in this mess. I would be the pullee. We made a quick call to our emergency babysitter, Haley, to see if she could come over and keep watch over our sleeping children for a few minutes so we could get the van without putting the kids through more torture than they could handle in one day. Being the extremely super awesome person she is, she said she'd be over in a few minutes. Then we got a call back. Haley's dad, hearing our situation, was on his way instead to help Frank pull the van. "You don't need to be out in that cold," Haley's mom said.

So there I was. I had made the day very inconvenient for everyone concerned, yet I had been shown a lot of grace. Haley's dad helped pull the van home, but I somehow felt like I was still the pullee. Sometimes I don't deserve help from other people. Sometimes it's hard to put away pride and even ask for help when I need it. But God is gracious and has surrounded me with people who love me, faults and all. They pull me home when I'm broken and patch me up and get me running again. And God does the same thing, for that matter! He never junks an old make or model no matter what the repair cost is. God does not make junk. So I thank God for that, and pray that I can pull and patch when it's my turn. Ha! Who would ever imagine me as a tow trucker or a mechanic!

P.S. I just heard about this fabulous thing known as "pizza delivery" where teenagers in funny hats will bring a pizza to your doorstep. Some pizza places will even let you pay for pizza online or over the phone...no actual card needed if you have the card number and expiration date...this could be revolutionary for scatterbrained and cashless people such as myself, albeit a little scary...jumping into the 21st century can be intimidating like that...

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Fabled Christmas Program

I should have expected it. I totally should have.

In first grade I secretly gloated the fact that I was picked to be Mrs. Claus. I had 22 lines in our class Christmas play, second only to Santa himself, with 33 lines. I remember counting them to make sure I was the most important girl part. Sure, the prettiest girl was picked to be the snow queen, but I had WAY MORE LINES.

And over the years I loved each and every chance to take the stage at Christmas. I sang solos at church in pretty dresses. I performed yearly in our church Christmas cantatas. I was in every Christmas play, program, and concert for school. Once I read a self-penned poem at the local radio station. A sixth grade nerd's star never shone so bright! Too bad the boy I had to sing a duet with that year was tone deaf and caused me much mortification. Star extinguished. Oh the drama!

I loved singing and acting. And I truly loved telling the Christmas story in a million ways even as a child. So many of my fond Christmas memories are wrapped up in songs and lines once memorized and forgotten until they re-appear each year like the ornaments at the bottom of the Christmas decorations box...

My hunky husband also has a history of Christmas stage and song. Just last night we shared a good laugh about the moving performance he gave in his 9th grade band concert via the "Christmas Rap ." (Or is it "Christmas Wrap?" Anyway, I will pay good money to anyone who will give me a copy of this concert on videotape...)

So, I hoped for the best but feared the worst as Annabelle and Joey prepared for their very first Christmas program this year. Would they mumble and look scared? That would be slightly disappointing, but I would learn to cope. Would they be perfect angels and sing each word and perform each dance move with reverence to honor the birth of Jesus? One can only dream. Would they do something totally embarrassing or have a melt-down mid program? Probably. But what EXACTLY would they do?

From the get-go Saturday night, it was clear that Joey would have no part in standing on stage with the other kids. He was a lot younger than the other kids and the director, a saintly college student, mostly just wanted to include him for the cute factor. So through the program he sat on the director's lap and wandered the church a little bit, but was surprisingly a very good two year old boy! He was even "better" than his baby brother, who proceeded to poo and pee through his diaper on to his daddy's pants during the program.

Then there's Annabelle.

Annabelle at 4 1/2 is probably more of a drama queen than I ever was, even at the height of my Mrs. Claus glory. But she is also pretty sensitive, and I feared that an audience might make her scared or cry if she forgot something and then we'd have to pay for major counseling later in life. Nope. Annabelle exuded all the joy and excitement of Christmas in one little blond and wiggly package. She sang the words as loud as she could and did all the actions with extra wiggles and jumps for affect. I tried to look at the other kids during the program...I really did...but my eyes just kept coming back to her. Especially since she was front and center, of course. Then came her "solo" with her best bud Nathan, who just turned 5, and who was also entertaining to watch in his own right. They were supposed to hold hands and sing about how baby Jesus being born would bring redemption for all. Very sweet, right? And in practice it was rumored to be very sweet....Here's reality play by play:

Music swells as solo begins.

Annabelle grabs Nathan's hand and jerks him over to where she is standing.

Annabelle and Nathan do their best to sing the big words and big tune they've been given, and do so with gusto for such little kiddos.

As soon as their solo ends, Annabelle shoves Nathan as hard as she can to his spot again and yells, "And don't touch me AGAIN!"

The whole church erupts in laughter, including kids on stage and Nathan himself. Annabelle just grins and EATS. IT. UP.

I look at Frank who's practically crying from laughing so hard and is trying desperately to compose himself.

I put my head on the table in front of me. Sigh. So much for redemption for all. It was a strange mix of embarrassment and pride that I'm sure will be a part of many Christmases to come.

I do have to say, though, my favorite part of the night was when our pastor got up after the program to thank everyone for coming, invited them to stay and eat, and said something that will stay with me....he reminded us of how Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children such as these. Little children who are as God made them to be without apology or embarrassment, I thought. Who love to praise their maker even if they look silly. And at that moment, as if on cue, my wandering Joey ran to my pastor wanting to be held. I am so very thankful to have a pastor and church that loves my kids and places importance on children. I also was reminded that on the days I don't have it altogether, how very good it is to run to my God like a little child and trust Him to take care of the things I can't.

So....any fond memories of Christmas programs of yore to share? C'mon, I know you have some good ones!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Writer's Block

Usually I find myself with too many words to write and have to figure out a way to keep myself from writing and writing and spending hours and hours doing it. And somehow make it make sense. I've got some stuff simmering in my brain, but nothing is quite coming together yet. My brain is kind of mushy and I think I'll spend the day finally putting the Christmas tree up and prepping for the kids' Christmas musical tonight. I'm not really in charge of anything, but just getting the kids bathed and dressed takes a good part of the day... Anyway, Annabelle and Joey's stage debut will probably be cause for awesome blog material for next week in case I'm still stuck.

Thank goodness Stacy from Louisville saved me and posted a way to use the U.S. Postal Service for annoying others. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to bug the guy who brought a lot of us bloggers together? Stacy is hilarious, by the way. Check out some of her other posts while you're there!

P.S. In case you live in a sad, joyless world and haven't checked out Jon Acuff's blog Stuff Christians Like, he is "the guy who brought a lot of us bloggers together." Yeah, I just quoted myself from a paragraph ago. Like I said. Brain=mush. I'm just excited I got two hyperlinks to work in one post. Later taters!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayer Request

Hey all.

I was going to write something mildly funny today, but I just got a call from my mother-in-law that Frank's dad is in the hospital and is possibly having a heart attack. Pray for him, please, (I know you all will, anyway.) and when I know more I'll give you an update.

Thank you so much!

Update: Frank is on his way to see his dad and after that I will know more. He is listed in critical condition, but is stable for now.

Update 2: Frank said that his dad continues to be stable and is going to spend the night to see how things go. Hopefully if all is well, Frank will come home tomorrow.

Update 3: No news since yesterday evening, but I take that as good news I guess.

Update 4: I talked to Frank and his dad is doing much better today and got a good rest last night. I'm so relieved!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Having a Bad Hair Day?




I share this information with you with the hopes that it will:
A. Make you feel just a little more normal.
B. Make you feel like there's someone out there that might be as crazy as you.

And I will add a disclaimer: I usually am not obsessed with my physical appearance. I'm a pretty low maintenance type of gal. There are a lot of things that are more important to me than how I look. But this hairy adventure is just too funny not to share...

Let's just say I have some hair issues lately. For the past two years I have had a dry, itchy, scaly scalp. I don't know why it developed or what it is and I keep hoping it will go away as suddenly as it appeared. But no luck. Lately it's been worse that usual. I also have been losing my hair in massive quantities. After every baby, this has happened at about the four month mark. I knew it was coming. It will grow back. But it is still disturbing to see wads of hair each time I turn around...when I brush my hair, when I bathe, when I think really, really hard...embarrassing. It's to the point that you could see the dry scalp through my thinning hair and I need to wear a hair net when I cook. Very sexy.

Last week I got fed up and decided to take some action. Did I go see my doctor for a dermatologist referral? Did I consult a stylist about a new product to try? No. That would be easy and make sense. And it would possibly cost more than three dollars.

Instead, I tried an idea my loving and wonderful husband had. When babies have scalp issues (cradle cap), you can put a little Vaseline or baby oil on their scalp and comb the nasties out. Presto! Instant healthy scalp. I have done this with my kids. What works on babies HAS to work on adults, right? So Friday night I coated my head in Vaseline to let it soften for a night. What's the worst that could happen, I thought. If it doesn't work, I'll simply wash it out in the morning and try something else.

Overnight, the Vaseline worked it's way through my longish hair and was a pretty ewwy gooey greasy mess. When I combed through it, the plan seemed to work okay except for the comb removed a lot of hair along with the unwanted scalp crust. It will grow back, I told myself. It will be worth it. Healthy scalp, here I come!! I started to wet down my hair to wash everything clean...but my hair wouldn't get wet. The Vaseline totally repelled the water. Like...uh...water off a duck's back. Hmmm.... Well, maybe shampoo would help. I tried two different kinds. With each shampoo, more hair fell out. But my remaining hair stayed a greasy mess. So I went to church last night with my hair back in a bun, looking like I had put a whole can of pomade on it.

Today it was go time. I WOULD find something to remove the grease from my hair. Dish soap was first. I washed my hair twice. Each time more hair came out. Each time the hair stayed greasy. I tried the de-greaser my husband used to wash his hands after working on cars. It smells like orange cleaner and looks like cloudy grey jell-o. It has warnings about what to do if it comes in contact with your eyes. That worked a little bit. And you guessed it. I lost more hair. After that I called a truce. If I washed it any more, there wouldn't be any left to wash.

So here I sit tonight. With greasy hair. That smells like bitter orange peel with a hint of Dawn. There are big wads of hair in the bathroom trash. I told Frank it looks like I killed a small animal. He said it looked like I killed a large animal. I guess that's what I get for trying to buck the system and spare myself the embarrassment of sharing my hair/scalp issues with a professional and spending a few bucks. But my scalp does look and feel better, by golly. And it's easily seen through my very thin hair...

So, how was your weekend?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Peace

Last February, I surprised my husband by taking him to a concert for his birthday along with a night without the kiddos in beautiful, exotic, Champaign, IL. We went to see Sanctus Real at a big church there. At the concert, I heard this song for the first time. Since then, it has received quite a bit of air play on the Christian radio station around here. My friend gave me a copy of the CD. You know when you have those songs that follow you around? This is mine for 2008. Quite possibly the best lyric ever: "Whatever you're doing inside of me, it feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace."
Chaos of life + Getting to know Jesus = Peace that passes all logical or emotional understanding.

Kudos to the Sanctus Real guy for not caving into his bandmates' love of "guy in a band" hair. Although it still looks like he just got out of bed. (Really, Beth? Are you back on that hair thing AGAIN?? You may have a problem that needs counseling...or at least a better stylist)




Whatever You're Doing (Something Heavenly)

It's time for healing, time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
But I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Re-evaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything, I surrender...
To...

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
But I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Give

Comin' atcha with some Relient K today. At the risk of sounding like a 15 year old punk, Relient K rulz! I still have a long way to go when it comes to giving my all to God and giving my all to others, but this song inspires me. It makes me want to go past the point of comfortable-warm-fuzzy kind of giving and reach into the sacrificial-it-hurts kind of giving. Sometimes God practically has to pry precious time, money, and talents from my clutches. So I'm trying to work on that. Especially during Christmas. 'Tis the season to give, right?

For the record, I don't think I had to figure things out totally on my own like the song hints at. I've had many good teachers who taught me what giving looks like. And those people are gifts from God to me. But I am ultimately responsible for making decisions about how and what I give. Good thing God's always with me in that. Nope. Nothing should be done totally on my own!

Also for the record, the "guy in a band" hair distracted me a little bit in the video, but other than that, I love it. Why do they always have to have the hair? Do record companies require that? "We'd really like to offer you a fantastic multi-million dollar contract, but first you have to look like you just rolled out of bed in the year 1976." That's right Jonas Brothers, I'm talking to YOU. I am really glad that my husband spends less than 2 minutes on his hair each morning, even if he insists on cutting it himself....

Sorry. Got off track. With the mental picture of Frank using the clippers and 3 mirrors to cut his own hair, I present to you:

Give

No one told me
The right way
The right way to go about this
So I'll figure it out for myself

Cuz how much
Is too much
To give you
Well I may never know
So I'll just give until there's nothing else

Yeah I'll give give give (until there's nothing else)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give (and I'll have no regrets)
I'll give until there's nothing left
I'll give

No one told me
How bad I need you
But I somehow arrived
To that conclusion all by myself

And I want
All you have to offer
So I offer myself and I'll just give until there's nothing else
And I'll give give give (until there's nothing else)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give (and I'll have no regrets)
I'll give until there's nothing left

Sometimes I think
Like all I ever do
Is ask for things
Until I ask too much of you
But that's not the way
I wanna live
I need to change
But something's got to give
Yeah something's got to
Give give give (until there's nothing left)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give (and I'll have no regrets)
I'll give until there's nothing left to give
Give give give (until there's nothing left)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give
Give until there's nothing left
I'll give

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Soundtrack In My Head

I'm back, I'm behind in housework again, and I am blogging. I also found the time to bake some brownies this afternoon. But you have to have priorities, people. Say it with me: priorities.

Anywho, I think the next series of posts are going to be songs that have been speaking to me in some form. If I can find them on YouTube or free Napster, you'd better believe I'll get the music to go with them. I really like themes, so go with me on this. I'm sure I'll tire of it eventually. :)

Today's song is called I Am. It is by a band called The Waiting. It's an obscure flashback to the 90's Christian music scene. They had some awesome songs that never got too much recognition. Back in the day, I liked the sound of the music. More than ten years later, I more fully appreciate the lyrics as well. But this song pretty much solves the identity crisis I have some days. It strips me of pride but doesn't leave me worthless. All my worth comes from the One who created me. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:13 NIV). I used to think that verse was like a super power that allowed me to do feats beyond what I'm normally capable of. In a sense, that's true. But when I see that verse now, I read it more as anything and everything I do is only because God put me on this earth and gave me the abilities to live and breath and think. I am because He is.

I Am

Walking out alone
The night fits like a stone inside a boot heel
Hot and cold winds blow
And no one is here to know the way I feel
The corner I once knew brings me in to view again
So I could stay out late, find new bones to break
But then I'd be dragging home admitting

I am because You are
I am
I recognize clearly I see
I am because You are
I am
I am in You and You are in me

Spent too many days devising many
ways trying to escape you
Played too many roles
Dug too many holes just big enough to fall into
And I could linger here
hoping to disappear in excuses
Come morning's shining face
I'd be crawling to the place
I call home
where first you cut me loose

The places that I've carried You, I wouldn't take a dog
Stop and calmly think of that

Tear this church down to its cornerstone
And build it up again, build me up again.

I am because You are
I am
I recognize clearly I see
I am because You are
I am
I am in You and You are in me

I Am ()

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!




This is pretty much me in the kitchen. You think I'm joking, but I pretty much did exactly this to a pot roast last week. At least I turned it into a good beef and vegetable soup the next day, so my cooking skills are improving a little. Needless to say, I will be enjoying the cooking of others this week.

I probably won't be posting much in the next few days as I prep for travel and drive around the state a couple times, but I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving and that we all have a chance to slow down and thank God for the amazing ways he blesses us!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Meet Phoebe and Uno

I didn't have any "real" pets growing up. We begged and begged for a dog and got....a hamster. Well, a series of several hamsters. None of them lasted too long, but we had a lot of fun putting them in my mom's china tea pot and making them drive around in Barbie cars. I also had a fish that my cousin won at the fair and was forced to give to me because I, of course, did NOT win a fish and threw a fit. I loved it so much that when it got sick and accidentally went down the drain while my mom was cleaning the poor sickly fish's bowl...I didn't notice it was gone for about a month. There was also the time that my sister bought a mouse without telling my parents. Yes, we had a stellar record as pet owners.

So what was the first thing I did when I graduated from college and was officially on my own? Why, I got two kittens, of course! In fact, I got them a little early and had to hide them in my dorm room for three days before I could move into my apartment. And ever since then, we have had a strange assortment of dogs and cats(mostly cats) who think I am their mother. For awhile, I got in a little over my head with cats. But right now, we are down to being a modest one dog, one cat family.

Our dog, Phoebe, came to us somewhat as an orphan. She first belonged to my husband's grandmother who got her as a companion when she was in remission from breast cancer. Very sadly, grandma passed away from other complications just a few months later. Phoebe next resided with Frank's uncle for awhile. Then when he went on vacation, Frank's mom took Phoebe in, and ended up keeping her. She finally made her home with us after a dog trade. We traded our big, not-so-child friendly dog for Phoebe who digs kids and couldn't hurt anyone even if she wanted to.

Ahhh Phoebe. She's a cutie of a doggie. She's a full blooded Maltese, although we don't have any papers for her. She's little and white and makes you want to do silly things like put rhinestone collars and doggie sweaters on her. She also has a very little brain. She ran away from home last summer while I had the door open to put away groceries. We looked all around the neighborhood, but no sign of a little lost doggie. I had pretty much given up finding her after a week or so, but I ran a lost dog ad in our town newspaper and the very first day they printed it, I had a phone call. It ends up she was across the street and three houses down. And couldn't find her way home. Poor doggie. Maybe she'll end up on David Letterman doing stupid pet tricks. With the emphasis on the stupid pet instead of the stupid trick. Her only trick is that she can stand on her hind legs and beg for food. And she can scratch the door for hours if she wants to come in. But will she scratch at the door when she needs to go OUT? Absolutely not. I still love her, though. She keeps my feet warm at night. She gets in happy crazy moods and starts running frantic circles around the house and makes the kids laugh. She burps like a grown man. She prefers cat food to dog food. The little click click click of her toenails follow me wherever I go. Ahhh Phoebe. My fourth child.

Then we have Uno. Frank has always loved cats. He was my co-conspirator in hiding the kittens in my dorm room. Uno filled a cat void for us when our beloved cat Yoda met an untimely end on our busy street. We thought about being kitty free for awhile, but after a couple weeks Frank came home and said he had seen a cat that needed to be rescued from PetSmart. So we adopted Uno, who was the only kitty left in his litter of Uno, Dos, and Tres. The name was so cute we decided to keep it. Uno is a fairly affectionate kitty even though he has the trademark independent cat spirit. The best and worst thing about Uno is that you never know where you'll find him next. I have found him in the baby bassinet(sans baby, fortunately!), in my closet, in the corner of the shower, and in the clothes dryer. You think he would be snuggled in some clothes I had forgotten, but no. Just him. In the dryer. Giving me a sleepy glare because I had the audacity to wake him up.

Phoebe and Uno are best appreciated together. They are about the same size. One white and curly. One dark and striped. One ditsy and cute. One crafty and sly. They are family to each other. Sometimes they play, sometimes they fight. But in the end they will curl up next to each other on the couch, a picture of peace amidst a world of dog and cat wars. If fact, both are curled up next to me now.


Click Here to see Phoebe.

Meet Baby Jay


Name: Jakob Franklin (Yeah, we spelled it differently on purpose. Yeah, I know he will have to spell it for everyone his whole life.)

AKA: Baby Jay, or Jay Jay by his siblings

Age: 4 months!

Future occupation: sumo wrestler or linebacker

How we met: When he was born, I was amazed how much he resembled his sister! With two exceptions. One, he was a boy. Two, he was MUCH bigger! From the start we got along famously. I can't decide if that's because he's more laid back or because I am more laid back. Probably a little of both.

Personality: He is a super snugly little big guy. And big he is. I haven't weighed him recently, but at Halloween he was over 17 pounds and he's just gotten chubbier since! He tries very hard to communicate with us. You can just see his little brain working and thinking, "If only I could get my voice and body to do what I want it to do!" He clearly lets us know when he is happy, and when he is not. He is not happy when he is alone. He likes company and lots of it!

Talents: He recently accomplished turning from his tummy to his back. He also is perfecting the arts of blowing raspberries and chewing on his fingers. He likes to poo for the nursery worker at church. Good baby!

Likes: To eat most of all! He likes hanging with Mommy when she's on the computer. He likes hanging with Mommy while she watches football. He likes pretty much anything that has to do with being held by Mommy. He is also a big fan of his bouncy seat, watching his sister and brother play, and being tickled by daddy. Bright lights and the ceiling fan rank pretty high on the list, too.

Dislikes: Being alone, being hungry, taking baths

What I admire most about him: The ability to sleep anywhere at anytime. Wouldn't that be great if you could do that as an adult?

*Disclaimer* By the way, the "professional looking" photos of my kids were NOT taken by me. Most of my picture taking ends up with me yelling nasty words at the camera. They were taken by my very talented friend Jan who has a home photography business. She is fabulous! If you ever need pictures for a special occasion and you're in the Terre Haute area, I will hook you up!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meet Joey



Name: Joseph Zavier

AKA: Joe Bug

Age: getting close to 3

Future Occupation: He wants "to plant watermelons, carrots, and plants!"

How We Met: Joey was due on January 3. Since his sister came early, I had high hopes that he would be the first baby born on New Year's Day and I would get a bunch of free stuff! Nope. He was a little late. He was born January 8, 2006. We went to the hospital in the middle of the night and by the time Joey arrived Frank had drunk about a gallon of coffee and Mountain Dew. I remember pain. I remember the doctor saying it would only be a couple more pushes. I remember the doctor looking and Frank and asking, "Do you need to sit down?" I remember Frank rushing to the bathroom. I remember the cries of my beautiful new baby boy. I remember Frank coming back into the room and saying....
"Did I miss anything?"

Personality: Joey is a one of a kind little boy. He is full of imagination. Most of his days are filled with magical creatures and games and stories that only he can see. Joey is independent. While Annabelle is star of the show at the playground, Joey is perfectly happy to play on his own, usually with rocks and dirt. Joey is a sponge. He drinks in anything he can when it comes to songs and letters and numbers and pictures and words. I am constantly surprised by the things he already knows. Joey does not want to miss a thing. No WAY will he be content going to sleep if there is something interesting going on. Joey is fascinated with organization. There is nothing he likes better than having a bunch of things he can arrange into a big straight line. Video tapes, pull-ups, blocks, cars, crayons, pillows, potatoes, walnuts, rocks- you name it. I come across "Joey sculptures" on a regular basis. Everything perfectly placed exactly how he wants it. I think I need to start taking pictures of them and selling them online as highly sophisticated post-modern art.

Talents: He can make the biggest mess out of the smallest amount of food. He is fabulous at making up voices for the different characters he's in imagination land with. He also sings perfectly on key. Will he do it if he knows anyone is watching? Nope.

Likes: spaghetti, sticks, dirt, candy canes, Dora the Explorer, playing outside, Blue Blankey, jumping on furniture, cooking pretend meals for his family, knock knock jokes, blue berries

Dislikes: wearing socks, using the potty, taking naps, eating meat(with the exception of hot dogs), scary monsters

What I admire most about him: He marches to the beat of his own imaginary drum and doesn't care a bit what others are doing and saying around him. Sometimes I wish I had this kind of confidence in pursuing the things that give me joy without worrying so much about what others might think of me.

Intermission: I Have Picture Capabilities, People!



Okay. Meet Frank II.

Now that I borrowed my husband's laptop and actually read the help files at blogger...I can do pictures!!! So here's Frank at work yesterday. Every time Travis, his co-worker and pal, sends me a picture, I know I will laugh uncontrollably and then save the picture in a secret file for future blackmail use. Just kidding. I would never do that. Or would I....?

The other picture is our wedding day. *GASP!* I know, a picture with me in it. Keep in mind that this was over 7 years ago. I prefer everyone to see me in a beautiful dress with makeup on at 22 on pretty much a perfect day where I got lots of presents. Instead of in my baby puke-stained pajamas without makeup on at 29 on pretty much a normal day in November...so far no presents, but here's to hoping!! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Meet Annabelle






Name: Annabelle Kate

AKA: Anna (by me), Annie (by Frank)

Age: Just turned 4 1/2, which is so much better than "regular 4"

Future Occupation: Firefighter. When I asked her why, she said that some girls are firefighters. Then she said she thinks it would be hard but fun.

How we met: Annabelle was born on my sister's birthday in 2004. She came a week early! I was nervous about being a parent because I liked kids, but I had not spent a whole lot of time with tiny babies before. She wasn't what you call an "easy" baby and I was pretty overwhelmed at first...but we eventually figured each other out.

Personality: Annabelle is FULL of personality. She's quite the entertainer and drama queen. She is living for the Christmas musical at church this year where she gets to perform songs and dances ON STAGE with the big kids. Annabelle has a dry sense of humor like her father. It's so funny to hear sarcastic remarks coming from a little girl voice! Annabelle is inquisitive. She asks at least 834 questions a day. There is a new show on PBS called Sid the Science Kid. In the intro he says, "Did you hear the one about the kid who wanted to know everything about everything?" Every day I answer, "Yes, and I live with her!" Annabelle is super social. If we go to the playground, she will learn the names of every kid there in the first 10 minutes and then proceed to introduce herself and her entire family to the children and their caretakers. Annabelle is caring and very sensitive to others. Frank's mom works with women who are severely mentally handicapped and we went to visit her at work once. I explained to Annabelle that the women have bodies like adults but their minds were kind of like a baby's. Annabelle wasn't scared or timid around these women at all. She chose to talk to them and eat dinner with them instead of play outside!

Talents: Annabelle makes up some pretty awesome songs. They tend to be epic, have catchy rhythms and have big finishes. Annabelle is good at creatively naming her toys. My favorite is the little horse she named Santabua. She's good at skipping and hopping on one leg. She's also very good at bossing around her little brothers.

Likes: Old Disney movies, playing games on the computer, drawing and coloring, reading books, talking, riding in daddy's truck, Silky (her security slip...yeah, a slip and not a blanket) and corn bread

Dislikes: Waking up early, mushrooms, brushing her hair

What I Admire Most About Her: Sometimes her questions drive me a little batty. But I do love that she is always sincere in wanting to know the hows and whys of life, and I hope she never stops questioning. Her questions about God and Jesus sometimes teach ME. See my post Deep Thoughts By Annabelle for an example.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meet Frank


Name: Franklin Neil

AKA: Frank or Frankie

Age: 29 (almost 30! Tee hee!)

Occupation: Network Administrator for the City of Terre Haute (I think that's his title. I tried to look it up on the city website, but it's not working. That's ironic. It means a bad day at work for Frank...)

Unofficial Occupations: Worship Leader and elder at HealingPointe Community Church, part time online seminary student at Liberty University

How we met: Frank transferred to Indiana State University(ISU) in the fall of 1999. I was studying in Spain the fall of 1999. When I got back to ISU in January 2000, there was this new cute guy at our Campus Crusade meeting. Our mutual friend Amy introduced us. It went something like this.
Amy: "Beth, this is Frank."
Beth (not hearing the name right): "Hi Craig, nice to meet you!"
Frank: "No. It's FRANK."
Beth: "Oh. Frank?"
Frank: "Yes. Frank. Like your 40 year old uncle. FRANK."
Beth (thinks this guy will never speak to her again): "Oh."
We didn't start dating until 4 months later. That's another fun story for another time. But I still remember what he wore that day and what I wore. Odd how the mind works.

Personality: He's got an extremely dry sense of humor. Most people cannot tell when he is joking until they know him for awhile and he comes off looking very serious or just odd. But once you get to know him, you find he is very funny, fun, caring, adventurous, creative, a hard worker, and smart. He's pretty laid back about things, which helps tone down a hyper-sensitive person such as myself. Well, he's laid back until it comes to game of backyard wiffle ball or croquet. Then he's out for blood.

Talents: He can play almost any musical instrument. And if he can't, he'll at least learn how to play a scale or two if you give him a couple hours. He leads with a guitar at church, but drums are his bigger passion. He can also sing. He majored in voice at ISU and can sing opera quite well. But that's not the style he prefers. He can fix almost anything and do it for less money than anyone else. Some of our friends call him McGyver. No challenge is too big or small. Cars? Furnaces? Computers? Leaky faucets? He'll get them working. He is a good cook. He makes a mean apple pie from scratch. He is an excellent father. He is the best bedtime book reader. He does projects with the kids like making puppets and making bird houses and such. He changes diapers with the best of them!

Likes: He likes learning! About everything! He likes finding "sweet deals." Sweet deals are basically finding the most unique thing that will fit his particular need at low low prices. Why get the car that everyone else drives when you can get a "sweet deal" on a Mazda RX-7 rotary engine car he found on Ebay that's 2 states away? He likes Campbell's chicken noodle soup with lots of crackers. He likes R.E.M. He likes being with family and good friends.

Dislikes: Reading fiction. Black olives. Being in big crowds of people. He probably dislikes his wife dedicating an entire post about him, but he will continue to love me anyway.

What I admire and respect most about him: He has a very strong faith in Jesus. He is a very authentic person and lives out his faith in all contexts of life.

I recieved this picture from Frank's co-worker one day. During their lunch break, they went on a junkyard adventure to find a part to fix my minivan. You really can't get more "Frank" than this:

Frank at the junkyard.

I promise to put the actual photo here as soon as I figure out how to do it...bleh. I don't know if those without a facebook account will be able to go to this link. This is why Frank does the computing around here.

A Series of Posts: Meet My Family

Since all 7 of you who read my blog may not know me in person, I thought I would write a little in the next week about my family. Even those of you who DO know me may live far away or haven't had the chance to get to know us as much as you'd like to across the miles. Plus, it's always nice to remind myself of what a blessing my little family is and how they have a big part in who I am. It puts things into perspective, and I'm sure when I look back at what I wrote ten years from now, I will get all blubbery about how little the kids were... Yeah, I enjoy being sentimental like that. Hope you don't mind!

I think this is how it will go:

Meet Frank- my husband
Meet Annabelle- my daughter, the oldest
Meet Joey- my first son, the middle kid
Meet Baby Jay- the baby boy
Meet Phoebe and Uno- the dog and cat, respectively

I think the order is heaviest to lightest. I didn't mean to do that, but it works.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Love Me Some Raisins

These lovely songs were a part of a Christmas special in 1987. I don't know quite why I loved them so much. Now they are a little creepy. Have fun!




Procrastination Post or I'd Rather Blog Than Clean

I generally don't like surveys. But I like these questions. And I like Katdish who sent it my way. Plus, if I don't comply I might be picked up by the Scrooge Police and we can't have that happening now, can we?

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just Copy this entire blogpost and paste into a new blogpost that you can post to your own blog. Change all the answers so that they apply to you.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I love to use wrapping paper. I have more fun wrapping than shopping. But sometimes time dictates an occasional use of the gift bag.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Artificial. Bought at Wal-Mart the first year we were married for $13.97. I've come to have a lot of sentimental attachment to this little ugly fake tree. Somehow it seems to defy the torture we put it through each year and we still have all the pieces. If you knew how unorganized I am, you would be impressed by this. I hope to have a real tree sometime soon. We had a real tree every year growing up and I miss them!

3. When do you put up the tree?
Whenever I get to it.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Whenever I get to it.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Not really. Kinda makes me gaggy. I would much rather have hot chocolate, hot cider, hot tea, or a good cup of "holiday flavored" coffee to celebrate the season. Cold weather equals hot beverages.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I was seventeen, but I think that counts as a child. I got a guitar. My dad picked it out for me. I named it Gunther. I still have him.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
My dad.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
My sister. But I get to shop for a nephew and a niece this year, and that will be lots of fun!


9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. A little glass one my mom got for me in college. And a fabric finger puppet one for the kids!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
It's one of those things I'd LIKE to do...but never seems to happen...I'm going to go hide now...

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
One year the fan in the furnace broke. Our pipes froze and burst. We bought parts to fix everything. Merry Christmas to us.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
White Christmas. Love it.

13. When do you start shopping?
Whenever I get to it.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Yup. But I'm not telling which ones.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Anything I didn't cook.

16. Lights on the tree?
Would it be a Christmas tree without them? I think not!


17. Favorite Christmas song?
I can't pick just one!! O Come All Ye Faithful, We Three Kings, O Come O Come Emanuel, Mary Did You Know, Breath of Heaven, Welcome to Our World and more top the list. Least favorite Christmas song: Christmas Shoes.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Travel most of the time. I call it the Tour of Indiana.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
A star made of styrofoam and aluminum foil my husband made one year because he was mad we didn't have one. It's perfect atop the $13.97 tree. :)


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning! No cheating!!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The time with my family always seems to go way too fast.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
One year we got weird and put old high school senior pictures of everyone on our tree. I don't even remember how it started. But it made me laugh almost every day they were on there. Everyone in their 90's high school glory peering at me from a Christmas tree. I hope we didn't have many visitors to the house that year...

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
My mother-in-law is a turkey cooking genius. It's so good. But my mom started making this sweet potato cassarole stuff that also to die for. And then there's the homemade bread. And my grandma always brings pies...HELP!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
I never know the answer to that question. I wouldn't be surprised if I am the person who is hard to buy for on other people's lists.


26. Who is most likely to respond to this?
Kathy already named them on hers, but Lisa or Amy might respond!

27. Who is least likely to respond to this?
Um, Barak Obama?


28. What was your most memorable magical memory from your adulthood?
The year my mom's whole family got together in Oregon for Christmas and my grandparents' 50th anniversary. We were staying in a perfectly victorian bed and breakfast and it snowed. Better than a Thomas Kinkade painting.

29. Have you ever been involved in a Christmas gift prank?
Don't think so.

30. Favorite Christmas Cartoon?
Garfield! "It's a good old fashioned Christmas, down on the farm..."
Followed closely by the California Raisins Christmas Special where they rock out to We Three Kings. But it was clay-mation, so I'm not sure that counts anyway.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If You Love Reading for a Long Time, You'll Love This Post

I came to the conclusion today that I am NOT normal. Yeah, I know, it probably shouldn't have taken me almost 30 years to realize this, but there it is. I said it, and I'm not taking it back. So there. Nanny nanny boo boo.

What preceded this realization was the dreaded talk of Christmas (or if you're PC, "holiday") parties. I don't dread the parties. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy getting together with people and eating waaaaay too many calories. What I dread are the gift exchanges. The first mention was at my monthly women's group. We're 20 and 30 somethings that belong to various churches in the area. We officially gather together to find ways to raise a little moolah, and we give it to those in need in our relatively poor and rural county. With a lack of resources and overwhelming needs in our neck of the woods, we figure every little bit helps. So we do yard sales and sell cheeseballs and do other odd things we deem worthy. I'll have to dedicate a post to the time we did concessions at the gun show.... Anyway, it's a super fun group and we all share the ups and downs of life in the process. And of course, where 2 or more women are gathered, there must be a Christmas party. So we're headed to the Mexican restaurant on the second Monday in December. And there's a gift exchange. Bring a gift that is valued at $20 or so. You don't HAVE to participate. But usually everyone does. Gift exchange decision number one. I am on the fence at the moment, but I don't have to decide until the day of the party.

Then I get to the preschool office this morning. The HOLIDAY PARTY SIGN UP SHEET is posted next to the mailboxes. "Please respond whether this date and time works for you and whether or not you will be participating in the gift exchange." You mean I have to make the decision NOW? Well, I only know these women from seeing them one morning a week for a little over a year, so it was a little easier this time. Gift exchange decision number two. Even though EVERY single person had put "YES" under gift exchange, I scrawled a little "NO." What an outcast I am. I used to get the same feelings when I worked for Girl Scouts and the staff Holiday Gift Exchange reared its ugly head. Gifts stress me out.

Do I hate gift giving for some theological reason? Do I hate other women? Do I have some undiagnosed disorder that renders me unable to wrap presents? No. No. And no. I like giving gifts. I like other women. I like picking out things that will make somebody say "Awwwwww," or "How did you KNOW?" And I REALLY like wrapping presents. It's an art form to me. A lot of the time, I'm not particularly great at giving gifts, but not horrible either. My husband is very sweet about putting up with my average gifts. My repugnance of the Gift Exchange comes from something deeper....

The real reason I don't like them is because 99% of the time I don't have the extra cash to spend on people who aren't nearest and dearest to my heart of hearts. It upsets me a lot that I would end up spending more on a co-worker than I would my dad or mom. I feel like each year we scrape together as much as we can, and we offer silly little gifts to family and friends who deserve so much more. (This is hugely embarrassing and I try not to talk about it much, but I'm going somewhere, so stick with me.) I wish I could buy the figurine or candle that's all the rage for that gift exchange, but I can't. I wish I could buy my mom and dad an island in the tropics for that matter, but I can't. Instead I pout on the inside and try not to feel like I'm wearing a giant sign that says "I'M BROKE, SO NO GIFT FOR YOU!" at parties when everyone else exchanges gifts.

When this happens every year, a part of me really wishes that I had more money. LOTS more money. Then I wouldn't have to be embarrassed so often. Things would be so much easier. I wouldn't be embarrassed about the house I live in. I wouldn't be embarrassed about the rusty van I drive. I could just blend in and be normal.

Part of this angst probably stems from guilt over bad decisions with money. If we had just done x, y, and z, we would be so much better off. Think and rethink. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. But you can only beat yourself up so many times over a mistake made. You can't go back and change things. You just have to sigh and admit that you made a dumb mistake and do the best you can with the circumstances at hand. Ask God for forgiveness and wisdom and move on I say! So, moving on!

The other chunk o' angst comes from the lifestyle I have chosen. I could have gone after a career path with bigger paychecks I suppose. Non-profit jobs don't exactly lead to big tanks of gold coins a la Scrooge McDuck. I could have put off having a husband or a family for awhile. I could have kept working a full time job after Baby Jay was born. And none of those things are wrong. Financial security is not wrong. But those things were wrong for ME. That is not the path that God had for ME. God specifically put me into jobs where I could use my gifts to help others and at the same time learn the things He wanted me to learn. He's done the same for Frank. I am very grateful for that. We have never been hungry. We have never had a financial disaster of epic proportions despite our dumb decisions, although some seasons have been tougher than others. And I now I choose to stay home and try my hand at instilling God's truth into my own children before they jump into the wide, wide world...which has been my hardest (and least paying!)job to date by far. I'm trying to live out God's will for my life, and many times that's amounted to having less material wealth compared to those around me.

I am reminded of Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." If I'm following God's will for me, will I be normal? Uh....no. I might stick out like a goth at a Kenny Chesney concert. Or like salt in a bland meal. Or like a light on a hill. Wait...two of those similes sound familiar. The other one is just weird.

If I'm a little embarrassed about my economic status at a gift exchange, that's a small price to pay for learning my ultimate worth comes from who I am in Christ, not from my bank account. That's the bigger picture that God has to remind me of pretty much every day. So I am trying to have a better attitude this year. I proclaim 2008 the Christmas of Contentment and Thankfulness! Besides, Jesus coming to this earth was the best gift ever. There's no way I'm going to try and compete with that!

P.S. I just realized why I love Thanksgiving so much. All of the family, friends, and calories. None of the gift exchanges! :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Coffee, Anyone?



This is a test of putting a video on my blog. This is only a test. If this would have been an actual emergency, I wouldn't be blogging right now.

I think it works! A funny video for those of you who follow SCL. What if Starbucks marketed like the church? It makes me a little uneasy to think about "marketing" Jesus. He is so much more than a "culturally relevent" product! But it is very good to remember how those unfamiliar with the church may see us...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Where's the Easy Button?

Flesh.

When I hear that word, it kind of grosses me out. I think of rotting deer carcasses. I don't know why, I just do. If I think too long, I start feeling a little wobbly in the knees and the blood drains from my head and I get a little dizzy.... My husband makes fun of me for things like this. If people near me are talking about anything remotely gross or gory, I have to leave the premises or politely remind them that they will soon need to find the smelling salts. And when they ignore me and keep talking about whatever was leaking from Aunt June's cyst, I implore, "Please! I am not joking! Can we change the subject?" At this point they notice I am a nice shade of grey green and they listen. Usually. Now give me a real life drama filled with blood or vomit or other bodily nasties, and I'm better at handling it. I may yell, "Ack! Bleh, bleh, BLEHHHHHH!" the whole time, but chances are I'll get through it with flying colors.

So when the Bible talks about being in the flesh, I am physically repulsed. My pastor (Shout out to Eric! Woot!) uses this term a lot, so I hope he knows that when I make squinchy faces while he's talking, it's directly proportional to the number of times he uses the word "flesh" while teaching. Because of my aversion to "flesh," I try not to think about it too much. But today Romans chapter 8 felt like it was leaping from the screen this morning (www.bible.com) when I read it, so I am forced deal with the icky-ness.

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."
-Romans 8:12-17 English Standard Version

Wow. There's just so much here. Have you ever read the Bible time and time again, but it's just words? And then BOOM! You read the same thing later and it feels like every single word was meant just for you. It's so ironic, because when that happens I understand why it's called the LIVING Word. Living things change and grow. Spiritually, I must grow and change or I become...dead. I must constantly be fed by the living Word and the Holy Spirit or I spiritually starve and die. When I start living under my own power and living just for me, me, me, I am living according to the flesh, and being in the flesh equals DEATH. I wasn't too far off about the rotting deer...

Notice God doesn't promise us that living by the Spirit leads to easy circumstances, though. It may include times that we will suffer and need to cry, "Abba! Father!" Paul knew this first hand. No one else had been a missionary before for Christ. No one around him got thrown out of cities, beaten, and put in prison more than he did. He had companions on his journeys, but no one who went on every single journey with him. And he certainly didn't die old, warm and comfy in his bed.

What God does promise is peace. "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6) So many times we Christians think that God provides this big red Easy Button or a get-out-of-jail free card. Go to God, and instantly everything will be flowers and rainbows and care bears! Not always so. When I think about it, the common denominator among those I've met who are Christ-like is peace. Peace when they are healthy. Peace when they are sick. Peace when they are rich. Peace when they are poor. Peace when they are surrounded by those who love them. Peace when they are alone.

So here I am, many times filled instead with fear or pride. Sometimes I'm full of both! I'm terrified of the things I think I might called to because I know I don't have the ability to accomplish them under my own power. Yet at the same time, I pretend that I can handle everything! When people compliment me on a song, a good deed or whatever, I still think, "Yeah....look how cool I am," instead of giving God credit. Then I worry that the next time I won't measure up and I'll fail. So today I pray God breaks the cycle of fear and pride I am prone to. I pray that I learn to submit to his Word and His Spirit and live within his will for my life. I pray that peace will be the norm instead of the exception. When I lose peace, it is a red flag signaling that I again need to turn to God and seek his will for me. When I follow that will, I will not say, "That was easy." Nope. I will say, "That was God."

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Stereo on the Radio

Christian Radio. Christian Music. Worship Music. Do you like it? Do you hate it? There are a lot of opinions floating around out there, most of them very strong in nature.

Here are some of my personal thoughts, whatever they are worth. Being a worship leader (although I prefer the term lead worshipper) and a musician of some sort, I have a LOT of thoughts here. Of course they are shaped by my past, so I should fill you in a little on my Personal Music History. Cool. I like that term. When Beth and Frank's School of Worship Music comes into existence, that's one of the classes I'll teach.

I grew up listening to CCM (Christian Contemporary Music). While my friends were jammin' to Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, I liked Amy Grant. No NKOTB for me, please, I loved Michael W. Smith. I appreciated the bible stories sung by Michael Card and deep spiritual essence of Rich Mullins. My parents never put a hard and fast ban on "secular" radio stations or music. I listened to some of it while at friend's houses. How else would I secretly come to love Poison? But I genuinely liked CCM as a kid. Even as a teenager, I gravitated to Christian bands like DC Talk, Guardian, PFR, All Star United, The Waiting and the like. I usually felt a little ignorant when my friends knew all the words to MC Hammer songs at dances, but other than that, I was OK and knew enough of the stuff on the radio(and liked it) to keep from being a total social outcast. I have always liked a wide variety of music. Even Country.

On the worship music side of things, our church sang hymns and worship choruses from the good ol' 70's and 80's. I really liked it. I loved music and to sing in general, so any chance to sing to God was a good thing. I sang solos to "trax" for special music, played piano for the offering, and sang in the choir. My mom led the choir and was the "Worship Coordinator" for a good chunk of my childhood/teenagehood, and she did awesome things in the context of the traditional music the church wanted to do. But I felt like I truly worshipped through music for the first time at a Jr. High winter retreat with my youth group. There was this guy with a guitar...I had never sung to God to a GUITAR before! This pretty much blew my little 7th grade mind. I still vividly remember singing "Step By Step" by Rich Mullins and realizing for the first time how much God loved ME, how he wanted to lead ME, and that I desperately wanted to follow Him. Especially if it meant I could sing to a guitar.

So through the bumps and painful bruises of being an older teenager and college student, where you hate everything you ever loved, I went through periods of disliking CCM for it's "uncoolness" in sound, it's "overproduced fluff," and developed a slight disdain for the Christian music "industry." Yada yada. My sister, who has incredible taste in music, also introduced me to some really great obscure bands inside and outside Christian music, and I did the usual young adult thing of exploring music that I'd previously never had heard much of. I went to concerts and festivals like Cornerstone that made me realize how broad Christian culture was outside of small town Indiana.

I also got the chance to be in worship "bands" for the first time in college. One summer I decided to learn to play guitar because the guy who led worship in one college ministry graduated, and no one else knew how. So for a year, this group of students had to endure my first forays into leading worship accompanied by bad guitar strumming. Never mind that I had years and years of piano under my belt. I HAD to lead with guitar. Most everything was in the key of G, which is an easy key to play guitar in, but a horrible key for me to sing in. I sincerely apologize to anyone in that group. I also started playing with the Campus Crusade band. We were a campus without full time Crusade staff, so we were left to our own devices on how to do worship. We ended up with a mix of some pretty cool new choruses and favorite hymns accompanied by three badly strummed guitars and a couple singers. After a couple years some new and better talent emerged, and we had a real band-like experience. I went back to playing keyboard after realizing I would not be the next great gift to guitar. God gave us BJ, who was an international student from Korea who had a hipper sense of music than the rest of us combined. He brought us all kinds of great new worship music. He had the heart of a true worship leader. I learned so much from him about having an attitude of worship. God also gave us my future husband, Frank. He was an actual music student who had played in actual bands before. He could fill in where ever there was a need-drums, bass, guitar, keys, vocals, clarinet, kazoo- and do it with humility and pretty much kick the rest of our butts musically.

So where was I going with this post? I got way too into Beth's Personal Music History. Anyway, fast forward time. Frank and Beth get married. They enter the real world of work. They enter Crossroads Community Church in Sullivan, Indiana. They realize instantly this is the church for them because they've never been to a church where they have screaming guitar solos in worship. They start playing for Crossroads. They learn a LOT about the limitlessness of worship music- worship can pretty much come in any style and any tempo. They learn a lot about being the best you can as a part of a whole band and dying to self. Frank and Beth form their own Christian band of sorts, Behind Four Walls. They have a lot of fun playing at gigs attended by less than 40 people. They record some of their own music and still have delusions of "making it big" someday. They open for Barlow Girl once. They have a kid and disband. They join the worship band Thirsty. They have a lot of fun playing at gigs with less than 100 people. They play on the same stage on the same day as Sonic Flood. They have another kid and have to leave Thirsty. They think maybe they're supposed to be worship leaders and not rock stars but never seem to find the right position at the right church. Then this couple from Louisiana comes to visit Crossroads and tells them about how they want to plant a church in Terre Haute...

So all of these experiences came to prepare us to be the leaders in worship at HealingPointe Community Church. And to begin with, we were pretty good at doing cool God songs and worship songs. We had the stage act down pat. I would say we were decent entertainers and sometimes pretty good at worship, too. But that's just it. The production of it all still was held above the worship aspect. I would care more about getting the notes and the words right rather than making sure I worshipped. But as we've gone through the ups and downs of starting this church, and as we've grown a lot as Christians, I think both Frank and I have discovered that worshipping God comes first. We both did some extensive study in the Bible about it. We both had to put the entertainer persona on the back burner and realize that no one in our church was going to worship unless we did. And sometimes that means doing uncomfortable things for me like raising my hands when the Holy Spirit prompts me to. I will look goofy in front of others if that's what God wants. I'm there to please Him, not others or myself, and that usually means getting out of my comfort zone. It means not showing off all the time and being simple so that others can sing along with us. Yeah...things like that.

So with all that in mind, when Christian people go bashing Christian music and Christian radio and how worship music all sounds the same and is so trite and horrible, I don't quite understand it. I love a lot of it, but not all of it. With any music, some of it is good, some of it is not, but that's only my opinion. But I figure even the songs I can't stand and the songs I hear played again and again and again and get sick of...those songs may speak to someone about God and draw them closer to Him in some way. So why be a hater? Who am I to say that God's not going to use something just because I don't happen to like the sound or the radio station it's played on? God can use a song or an artist whose intentions are far from Godly. God can use a song with the cheesiest of lyrics and three chords if the heart of the person is to worship Him. God can use a song even if the artist is faking Christianity, cheated on his wife and did drugs the day he wrote it, and makes a billion dollars off of the song anyway. I'm not going to limit God. It all has to do with attitude of the listener. If your intention is to worship and draw close to God, the style of song has absolutely nothing to do with worship. That is still a hard thing to get through MY head, but it's true. If the lyrics honor God and hold fast to what's presented in the Bible, I say, bring it on! Let's worship!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bloggity Fun

I am new to the bloggerific world of bloggerdom. As you may notice, I have one of the canned layouts and no pictures, not even of myself. I am one part technically challenged and one part technically resistant. I will finally get the gumption to learn all the advanced ways to trick out my blog in about 2 years. That will be exactly 2 days before some new awesome system of electric journaling becomes all the rage, leaving me antiquated once again. But that's just me. If you start talking about podcasts and texting, chances are I'll nod and smile and lead you to believe that I know about these things. In reality, my brain has gone into "log cabin" mode where I pretend I'm a pioneer visiting the future. So where are the flying cars? I know they promised flying cars...

So the other day I was goofing off online instead of doing something productive and I noticed that when you click on the interests in your profile on here, it will list all the other people who have listed that same interest. Neat! Like an instant community of people who just "get" you. Maybe. So click, click, click I did, and I found out:

1. 5,200 people are interested in my husband. I had no idea he was that popular.

2. Exactly 3,000 people are interested in social justice. So why don't things seem to be changing?

3. 342 people are interested in pancakes.

4. 189 people are interested in alpacas.

5. 21 people are interested in bocci ball.

6. 5 people are interested in "reading...in no particular order." What are the odds of that??

7. No one except myself is interested in how to get small children to nap. That disappoints me greatly.

Play the Interest Game with me! How many people share your passions? 350 of us are interested in church planting, so you know I'll be making some friends there. Have fun, kids! I wonder how many people listed flying cars as an interest...