Black Friday

We’ve never been Black Friday shoppers. Well, my husband did convince me to go one year—for a $20 DVD player. He woke me up, drove us to the store, saw the crowd in the store, and stayed outside while I waited in line to pay. Then we went home. Haven’t attempted it since.

But this year my kids decided they needed to experience Black Friday in its truest form. “More power to you,” we said as we went to bed. They went to Walmart.

They arrived at 11:30 in search of the $3 appliances for daughter’s upcoming move to a campus apartment. Not one in sight. What they did see were women stacking their carts with movies (heedless of titles), crockpots, and anything else they could find on sale. Apparently right before they arrived there was even a brawl over Wii games that resulted in police and ambulance presence.

So after bombing out at Walmart, you’d think they’d have learned their lesson and come home to their warm beds. (Did I mention it was in the 30s that night?) But no. Instead, they came home for blankets and chairs and got in line at the sporting goods store. After all, the first 85 people would receive a gift card valued anywhere from $10-$500. As you can imagine, visions of sporting goods danced in their heads. Five hours later they finally arrived home and dropped into bed, having spent their $10 gift cards. (The $500 one went to the person four behind them.)

My daughter loved the rush of it all. My older son (who is very much like his father) hated it but laughed and refused to admit that (after all, he got free headphones out of the deal). But my younger son didn’t mince words. When we asked if it was worth it—the cold and the waiting and the up-all-night—he promptly answered “I’m not doing that again.”


A Sunday Psalm

Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, for He his good;
His love endures forever.
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord
or fully declare His praise?
      --Psalm 106:1-2


A Very Different Day

I can’t remember ever spending a holiday without our extended family. I know I’m fortunate in that. But circumstances shifted this year and we found ourselves alone at the last minute. Just my husband and I and our three teenagers.

It wasn’t only the lack of numbers that made it a strange day. It was the quiet. Usually the holiday house is filled with the chaos of children, lots of women in the kitchen cooking and talking, and the occasional murmur from the men in front of the football games that lets us know they are still alive. Once we’ve cleaned up—together—there’s cheering for the Cowboys and the traditional halftime coffee and pies. At the end of the day, we divvy up the leftovers and head into the night, satisfied in both body and soul.

This Thanksgiving, I stressed over doing the whole meal myself, which led to tension that took a while to dissipate. We sat fairly docile as the Cowboys faltered, though we perked up a bit as they almost pulled off a great comeback. The upside: we had LOTS of leftovers, which was good since my husband and boys always complain that we don’t bring home enough of whatever they deem “the good stuff.”

In the end, it was a peaceful day, but not a normal one.

I think I prefer normal.


Thanksgiving Week

I love the week of Thanksgiving. It’s more than just that day of turkey and dressing and family and thankfulness. It’s a week off of school for my kids, time for us as a family. It’s meeting with friends and shopping and sleeping in. It’s movies and football and laughter and more food. It’s hauling out the Christmas decorations at the end of the week and transitioning from football to basketball. Thanksgiving, for me, is so much more than just the fourth Thursday in November. It’s a week I look forward to year after year.


The Child That Challenges

This is the child that challenges me—in a good way:

After a hard fought football playoff game, the last game of his high school career, we arrive at the restaurant. The boys had to line up at one register so I could pay their whole bill at once. The seniors took their rights of seniority to get closer to (or right at) the front of the line. Except my son. The senior. One of the team captains. He stood at the back. At the end. Making sure all the younger guys knew what they were doing, keeping them in line. Not complaining or huffing and puffing, no false humility or “please notice my sacrifice,” but truly exhibiting servant leadership.

I love that kid. He very often brings tears to my eyes. When I grow up, I want to be like him.


A Sunday Psalm

For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my ways perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He enables me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You give me Your shield of victory,
and Your right hand sustains me;
You stoop down to make me great.
         --Psalm 18:31-35


Changing My Thinking

I found myself in our home office yesterday, staring at the papers strewn across the L-shaped desk. Noticing the overflow of the trash can spilling into the floor. The abandoned cups and bowls and silverware and headphones and cds. This office is not my own. I share it with teenagers doing homework and checking their email and surfing facebook. I pushed aside a bit of clutter and found myself thinking I can’t wait for the day when I have the office all to myself.

Then I stopped. I spend way too much time thinking “I can’t wait for the day when ________,” a day I have no guarantee will ever arrive.

That’s when it struck me that my problem wasn’t wishing for some future day—it was which day I was longing for! I should spend time thinking I can’t wait for the day when the Lord will wipe every tear from our eyes, when we will have no need of moon or sun for the Lord will be our illumination, when we worship before the Lamb that was slain. That isn’t futile wishing. That is longing for what the One who cannot lie has promised.

So it isn’t really my thought process that needs to change, just its focus. I can’t wait for the day when that won’t be such a problem for me—the day I will be like Him because I will see Him as He is.


The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog

I just got a new book in the mail. Nothing astonishing about that. But what is amazing is that I haven’t had time to pick it up and start reading yet! That’s how crazy my life has been lately.

But I wanted to tell you about this book now anyway. The Master’s Wall by Sandi Rog released earlier this month—on the same day that Sandi received the news of the tumor in her brain. A few days later, she learned it was an aggressive cancer. The writing community—including Sandi’s publisher—has rallied around Sandi and her family with prayer as well as physical support. To read a message from her publisher about the fund they’ve set up on Sandi’s behalf, click here.

But back to the book. You know I love historical fiction. Any era. Doesn’t matter. The Master’s Wall is set in 1st century Rome and is the story of a Hebrew slave torn between his desire for freedom and his need to protect his master’s granddaughter. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to get started!

Click here to read a more in-depth synopsis and some reviews. If it sounds good, why don’t you get your own copy? And even if you don’t buy a copy, will you say a prayer for Sandi and her husband and their four children as they walk this difficult road?



Fill a Shoebox!

I love, love, love the Operation Christmas Child program run by Samaritan’s Purse. Our family has participated for many years and you may have read here before that during my daughter’s first mission trip to Ghana she was so blessed to help pass out these shoebox packages to the village children. When she came home she told us we needed to fill more boxes, even if with less things, because there were never enough for all the children. So we do. We save our shoeboxes all through the year and fill as many as we can. (This works very well during the years of kids with quickly growing feet!) Last year Samaritan’s Purse even implemented a tracking system where if you pay the shipping cost of each box online, you can print the label for it and they will email you later and let you know what country received your shoeboxes.

This is the official shoebox collection week and we are busy getting ours done. So how about you? Are you participating this year? Even one shoebox helps and is so appreciated by the child that receives it.


A Sunday Psalm

Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me through Your law.
I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on Your laws.
I hold fast to Your statutes, O Lord;
do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of Your commands,
for You have set my heart free.
       --Psalm 119:29-32


I Love the Early NIghts!

I know most people hate the most recent time change. I hear it all the time. But I want to go on record and say: I love it!

I know you are gasping and shaking your head, but let me explain. When it gets dark earlier, a couple of different things happen.

First, there is something about dark that discourages people from contacting you with immediate needs for information or action. Dark tends to be like pulling the curtains in around your family. While you still might get the phone call or email, something about it being dark outside seems give you a bit of space. It feels like night. Night is family time. And there is still something people respect about that.

The second reason I love this time change is that I’ve always worked better in the middle of the night. But working at night is not a good option for me these days. My eyes rebel at too many hours in contacts—and I need my contacts to function through the day. And my husband prefers it when I don’t climb in and out of bed, disturbing his sleep. Besides that, my days are full and I’m usually exhausted!

So when it gets dark earlier, my life slows down a bit and my body adjusts to its more natural body clock—and I actually become quite productive!

I know I probably still haven’t convinced you, but I don’t mind. I’ll just enjoy my long evenings doing the things I need to do—at least until basketball season kicks in and steals my peaceful nighttime hours!


Teacher Gets a Failing Grade

Usually it turns out the other way around. Usually the youngest child gets things or gets to do things way earlier than the older ones did. Maybe I’ve become a slacker mom. Or maybe God is using my overstuffed life to work patience in my child. I don’t know. But either way, I feel bad.

My youngest son won’t get his drivers license on his 16th birthday next week. His brother and sister each got theirs on the day. He will have to wait. He hasn’t complained. Or pitched a fit. Or blamed me. But that almost makes me feel worse! If I hadn’t insisted he get his permit a year before his license, like the other two did, we could have done the driving school in town. But there wasn’t time to take the class last fall. I should have just let him do it in early summer and forgone those five extra months of practice time rather than “homeschooling” him for drivers ed, a course we are frantically trying to completely finish, though he has been driving in bits and pieces for the past year.

I know in the scheme of things it really isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not like I need him to drive—not like I needed his older brother to because their sister was leaving for college. And I know it puts off the inevitable spike in the car insurance, too. I’m trying to find the positives, see the good, but in the back of my mind the only thing I can hear is “Teacher, you failed.”

At least it was only his driver’s license, not his entire education!


The Angst Over Names

I’ve been angsting over changing my main character’s name. I’d chosen one I liked. One that fit my spunky but kind of offbeat girl. An old-fashioned name (of course), with an unusual spelling. I knew it the moment I saw it. I wrote the synopsis. I wrote the first draft. Then I got my CBD catalog in the mail and read my main characters name—the exact spelling, too!—in a blurb for book releasing next month.


Now you may be like my husband and think what’s the big deal? Change it. Don’t change it. He actually said to me, “It’s a character, not a real person.”

That’s what you think! To me, this is a friend. And changing her name is harder than it was to change my own. And yet, like a mother with a new baby, you don’t want to copycat the unusual name of another baby within your circle of friends. You want yours to be unique.

So I’ve pondered. And searched. And talked. And pondered. And prayed. I think I’ve come up with a new name, one that I hope fits my girl just as well as the other. Maybe when the story is edited and polished I’ll discover that should have been her name all along. At least I hope so!


A Sunday Psalm

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all, He has compassion
on all He has made.
All You have made will praise You, O Lord;
Your saints will extol You.
They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom
and speak of Your might,
so that all men may know of Your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom.
    --Psalm 145:8-12


I Hate Grocery Shopping

I went grocery shopping the other day. I know that doesn’t sound remarkable, but I hate grocery shopping. Absolutely hate it. So for the past several months I’ve been trying to spend less time at the grocery store. No, I haven’t been forcing my family to fast, I’ve simply come up with a way to streamline my time. But it about kills me to do it.

You see, I’ve taken to shopping once a month. Kind of. I do the major monthly grocery shopping in one day. That involves a trip to Costco and to Walmart, with a master list of not only groceries but toiletries, too. I spend several hours combing through kitchen and bathroom cabinets in order to make my list. Then, armed with said list and with coupons (the only time in the month I make an effort to use them!), I’m off.

It takes hours of time to shop and load and unload and put away. And at the end, I’m exhausted. (I have to bring my groceries up a flight of stairs from the garage, so it’s an extra workout!) But it’s a good exhaustion because I know that except for a few quick trips to the grocery store that is two minutes from my house (more expensive, but I’m in and out in five minutes!), I’m through shopping for the month. And it only cost me one day instead of three or four.

So I’m done for November—except, of course that I’ll have to do another decent sized trip when I figure out what I’m responsible for at Thanksgiving. Then again, the kids are off school that week. Maybe I will send one of them!


Too Much in My Head

I’ve written this post about twenty times—on twenty different subjects. And I’ve deleted every one of them. It seems there is too much in my head to say anything worthwhile about anything. So instead of blabbering nonsense, I’ll send you on your way for today!


That Persistent Weed

I generally think of myself as a generous and sacrificial person most of the time. I don’t have a real problem giving money and doing without for myself, whether that takes the form of giving to ministries and charities or paring down my lifestyle for my husband to take his dream job with a non-profit or to give my kids those “little” things (truly—they rarely get the “big” ones!) in life. But as always happens, pride wells up before I fall.

This week reminded me once again that while I might be generous and sacrificial when it comes to money and possessions, I am stingier than Mr. Scrooge when it comes to my time. Why is that? As if I think my time is “mine.” I am not the maker of time. And if my attitude is that of a servant of the Lord, I am not a master of my time, either. I am to do the Lord’s bidding, whatever that entails. And sometimes it entails sacrificing my time to others.

It’s not a pretty side of me, not something I reveal without cringing. But it is the truth. I’ve seen it over and over and over again. And whenever I convince myself I’m doing better, than another situation shows me this is still an issue. I’m tired of pulling this same dandelion out of the garden of my heart. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to sacrifice my time without complaint. And one day maybe I’ll be able to do it with joy.

Do you have an issue that keeps cropping up like a persistent weed? Care to share?