Thursday, February 25, 2010


my first ipod video!
Of course, now that I've figured out how to take the video and upload it to the computer, the ground is now covered and it's coming down nicely! I might have to post another one later today!

Monday, February 22, 2010

8 years ago...



Have we changed or what?

it's happening again!

For middle school I attended a Christian school where we had to wear a uniform every Wednesday for chapel. 1st -12th grade probably had 100 students total. Chapel was basically church. We song a few songs, then listened to a sermon. One year, we had three different preachers all preach the same sermon outline: I. Sin will take you farther than you want to go. II. Sin will cost you more than you want to pay. and I've never been able to remember point III. Each pastor had their own references and illustrations for the points, but all three had the exact same outline. Needless to say, there were numerous jokes about preachers selling sermons to other preachers so they didn't have to write their own. I made the mistake of repeating one of the jokes at home. My mother did not find this funny in the least, but instead informed me that if I had heard the same sermon outline three times then God was trying to get something through to me and I had better start listening.

Last week Jr. Church's lesson was on Sanctification, and its key verse was II Thessalonians 2:13b: "...God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." Last week the emphasis was on the Holy Spirit and the truth (Scriptures), and yesterday followed up with a lesson on prayer, how to pray (using the Lord's prayer), and its importance to sanctification. Then last night our small group study was on how the way we battle to live holy lives, and the main points were: knowing the Scriptures and prayer. Today I'm reading through Facebook and a dear friend of mine posted this: All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." God knows best how this life should work. Want to experience true "freedom and happiness"? Learn to say, "not my will; but thy will. If you don't recognize the last part of her quote, it's from the Lord's prayer, and was one of the main points of yesterday's lesson. I have no doubt that God is trying to get something through my thick skull.

If I had to choose one adjective to describe 2010, it would be convicting. I feel as if the Holy Spirit is sifting and sifting and yet I'm still so lumpy and rocky it's almost unreal. So today I'm putting my combat boots on. It's time for business.

Friday, February 19, 2010

value of a dollar, part 2

This morning we had a discussion about chickens.
In case you didn't know, egg production is dramatically linked to sunlight. The shorter the days, the less likely you are to get eggs. (It takes a chicken a day to a day and a half to create an egg.) Commercial chicken farms will install electric lights on timers during the fall and winter to keep the chickens laying. Most hobbyists don't do this because it decreases the lifespan of the hen. So now that you know some of the basic egg laying facts, you'll understand that we're getting next to no eggs out of our 7 hens. And obviously we're not getting ANY from Ugly (our rooster).
So that led me to ponder whether or not it was worth the cost in feed to keep the chickens if they're only putting out in the spring and summer. And again, like the last summer we had the Belarus kids, I was reminded that the value of a dollar is much more than 100 cents, and is actually relative to our personal values.
Watching our chickens was compared to watching a movie at the theater. If we replaced the cost of feed with going to the movies, we could both go to the movies once a month. Suddenly the chicken feed doesn't seem quite so expensive. Meanwhile, if you get bored and don't have money for a movie, you're welcome to come watch my chickens in the afternoon. I can guarantee it'll be a pecking plot.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

shows of the season

I've never been a big tv person. Growing up I watched The Cosby Show every Thursday night that we didn't have band practice. During the summer I'd watch Perry Mason at lunchtime with my Dad, but other than that, I don't really remember watching a whole lot of television. So I find it strange that there are a few shows I actually enjoy watching now.

Survivor - a friend of mine was an ardent Survivor fan. Our last conversation actually took place after church on the Sunday night of Survivor's first season's finale. He was ardently hoping a certain person wouldn't win. After his death, I watched the next season just to see what he had been so passionate about seeing. I found it to be a great quilting show (one you can not have to watch the screen every minute to know what is happening) and have seen most of the seasons since.

The Good Wife - I've missed quite a few in this series because it comes on after my bedtime. (Yeah, I know. That's sad.) I've contemplated not staying up and watching the show and simply buying the dvd set when it comes out. But why pay for something I can watch for free? I've also tried watching it online during the day, but they don't update the episodes until almost a month after it has shown.

Numbers - Again, this is a show that comes on after my bedtime, but since it's a Friday night show, we get to watch it about half of the time.

And, a show that we don't get since we don't have cable (I discovered it on vacation) and Target had a DVD set for sale is: The Cake Boss! I must confess, I was bad and actually bought this, though I haven't watched it yet. And if you haven't seen it but you like creative things, you will have to come over and watch it with me. But I can't help but wonder how much those cakes cost. Such labors are very time intensive and can't be cheap. And I also think it would be cool to work in a family business. Then again, maybe not.

There's some parenting show coming on after the Olympics that have funny previews, but I seriously doubt we'll attempt to add anything else to our crazy life. After all, if I miss half of the shows from my "favorites", what makes me think I'll have time to watch anything else?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

when i retire

I know this will never happen. But in my dream world, when I retire, my life would look like this:

7-8am - get up & going
9am - read the paper & whatever else suited my fancy
10am-12noon - sew or quilt
12noon-1pm - lunch with friends
1pm-3pm - computer/art/garden
4pm-5pm - nap
5pm-7pm - cook, eat, clean
7pm-9pm - watch tv or projects
10pm-midnight - write or read

Would that not be an awesome life? There'd be no laundry or housework 'cause I'd job it out (now you KNOW I'm dreaming, especially since those things cost money AND are very private things for me!), so all my free time would be spent "playing"! How cool would that be?

Meanwhile, as reality sets in, the idea side of my brain has kicked into high gear. Every time I turn around I think of something else I'd like to be doing (and I can guarantee you ironing is NOT one of them!). It doesn't help that my Keepsake Quilting catalogue came in the mail today. I did turn down a gazillion pages, but I'm resisting the urge to order anything. I also shocked myself (and Bobby) by not signing up for a more detailed applique class. Not that I don't want to (the patterns are SO cool) and not that I won't in the future, but I really do need to tackle and finish a few of the projects I have going on at the moment.

Bobby's quilt is in the frame, though I must confess this 2 day applique class fueled a fire and I now have 220 6" squares cut and about 150 hearts for appliqueing onto them. (enough for a twin size quilt) They'll go into my sewing pile for when I have a little bit of time to work on something small. I won't tell you how many of those projects I currently have going.

My art room is 3/4 clean and somewhat organized. Who knows? Maybe by the end of February I'll not only have it ready but will actually be working inside!

And as for far I'm actually keeping up with my reading for the church's class! I'm a little behind on some other things, but so far so good.

Now if I can figure out a way to siphon the fish food flakes off the kitchen floor that I dropped yesterday without having to throw them all away, I'll have actually accomplished something today!

Monday, February 15, 2010


This past week I've thought a lot about packaging.

Outward appearance isn't everything, but it does make a big difference. As an idealist teen it always aggravated me that boys gravitated toward the pretty girls, whether they had brains or not. I could understand why they were interested in the girls who had a nice personality and were pretty, but the mean ones? By college I realized I was interested in outward appearance much more than I ever dreamed possible. One of my fellow first shift cafeteria workers would show up downstairs at 6:30am in clothes that had not been ironed (and mind you...they looked as if they had been wadded up wet and then stuffed in a drawer!), and her hair brushed but not fixed. Her mindset was that her clothes were clean, they matched, she was clean, her face was washed, so what else did she need to worry about? Mind you, she was very smart and very nice, but her appearance drove me crazy!!! I wanted her to at least look like she cared about herself. (and to be fair, the last time I saw her she had "grown up" and had on neat clothes and her hair was combed into place).

At a funeral I attended this past week, one of the family members showed up in blue jeans and a t-shirt. Most of the family was aghast. You know, that's just not the southern thing to do. If you don't have black or grey dress clothes, then you wear your Sunday best. It's one of those unwritten laws that are floating around out there. It was interesting to see the different reactions. Some people thought it was downright indecent. It's not like the person couldn't afford dress clothes even if they didn't own any. But I could also hear my great-uncle saying, "Why buy clothes I'm only going to be made to wear one time?" (He would wear a brand new pair of overalls to weddings and funerals.) A part of me thought the person was brave. You're emotionally miserable, so why be physically miserable as well? (Can you tell I'm not crazy about dress clothes?) Others wondered if he was trying to make a point, and if so, what it was. Meanwhile a small part of me was wondering what all the fuss was about. design they say how you package and market a product will determine how it sells in the beginning. After the initial purchase, then the product has to sell itself. You can have the most appealing design and packaging and an irresistible marketing campaign, but if the product itself isn't worth anything then people will never buy it again.

And it makes me wonder how people perceive me. Do I come across as friendly or stuck-up? Are people willing to give me a try? Is there any substance past my outward appearance to make me interesting?

As a child I used to worry about being given robes of white to wear in heaven. I am a very messy person, and anything I own that is white inevitably winds up stained. Can't you just see me standing before Jesus with a fruit stain from the Tree of Life on my robe?

Wrappers...wouldn't it be cool if we didn't have any in heaven at all?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the little things of life

I made my trip to Sam's Club this afternoon to get all the stuff for the kid's activity on Saturday, only to discover that Sam's Club does not sell condiment packets (the small packages of mayonnaise or mustard). They have the HUGE containers of these items, but that won't help us in assembling lunch bags. A small part of me says obey instructions and leave the sandwiches plain, and don't worry about whether or not there's a mayonnaise/mustard packet for the sandwich. The other part of thinks about how this may be the only meal these people get for the entire day. Shouldn't they at least have a somewhat decent sandwich? If I have time tomorrow I might stop by Chik-fil-A and see if they'll sell me 70 packets. That's all we need. If we do this next year I'll know to order them in advance.

Birthday Mom didn't have any for Dad's cake on Sunday, and my five year old niece was quite concerned about it. She wanted to improvise and take toothpicks, paint them, and set them on fire. Both my parents adamantly said no. I mean, after all, what's a birthday cake without candles?

Haiti - a grandmother in our church was bringing breakfast to her daughter and grandchild, and told them to go ahead and ask the blessing while she was coming. When she got there, she asked her four year old granddaughter what they prayed for. The girl's eyes got very wide, and she pointed to the ground and said "The people down there." The grandmother questioned her, and she replied, "You know, the people with the devil." The mother started laughing and said, "No! Haiti is a country where there was an earthquake! We weren't praying for the people of Hades!" I'm not sure if the little girl ever understood the difference, but I thought it was way too funny.

And so it goes. It's the little things of life that make us laugh, sigh, and sometimes even cry.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

vapors, projects, and food

Yesterday morning I had the first of a two-part class in applique (a type of quilting where you sew the material onto another piece of fabric instead of sewing two pieces two together). It went well, I had a great time, was excited to come home and show Bobby (who was working from home) everything, only to set lunch on the table and be told: "I've got bad news."
Uncle Jimmy died. Like his brothers (Bobby's Dad, Uncle Wade, and Uncle PL) it was a quick heart attack. He took a few steps away from his truck to greet a friend and then was that. And while he was old, it still shocks me to think that the man who I worked with in the garden for four years and cut up with every time I saw him is no longer on this earth. I thought about it again this morning, wondering if today was my last day on earth what would I want to do with it? And the reality is, none of us ever know whether or not our next breath is our last one.
And since I'm trying to refrain myself from crawling back into bed even though I'm tired and sleepy, I did what I do best: I started another project. :)
Those six little squares I needed for more class...they've multiplied like rabbits. I now have 72 purple and 142 yellow. If I ever finish appliqueing all of them, that's enough for a twin size quilt. IF.
And I somewhat sabotaged my "eat healthy even though I'm sick and don't feel good" diet. We had an unhealthy lunch yesterday, and my recipe I was using for a meal to take to Aunt Doan's made WAY too much food, so we had spaghetti and chocolate eclair for supper last night. You know, pasta and not healthy. I doubt Monday's weigh-in will be that great. But should I die today, you can laugh and say, "At least she had her chocolate."

Monday, February 8, 2010


When I was in the third grade, my mother informed me I needed to work on my handwriting. I remember telling her it was pointless, for not only did I look like my Dad, I had inherited his handwriting skills as well. (This was pre-preacher days when Dad was a pharmacist. Let's just say not only do pharmacists know how to read a dr's messy handwriting, they can write that messy as well.) I don't remember all of Mom's response, but I do remember her back arching and me spending some time practicing writing that day. And that night after supper Dad spent some time with me at the table working on cursive letters. It seemed to me his handwriting radically improved after that.

Another thing my Dad and I have in common is our middle initial "R". While our middle names are totally different, as a child I loved to write my name Monica R. White because Dad always wrote his Jerry R. White. To me it seemed like this special bond we had. After I got married, it surprised Bobby a little that I kept my middle name and dropped my maiden name. In hindsight I understand some of his reasoning. Keeping the maiden name does make it a little easier on filling out forms, but all my nicknames from my family stem around my middle name, and just as Dad has always been Jerry R, I've always been Monica R. Giving up my middle name and initial felt like throwing away my identity even more than giving up my maiden name did. So I became Monica R. Bryan. A few years after we were married, it somehow came up that unlike my sisters, I hadn't kept my maiden name. While my reasoning surprised my parents, I think they also liked it. I am my father's child, after all.

Besides the dark eyes, short squat stature, straight dark hair and overall pudginess, Dad and I share, he also instilled in all four of us a love for nature. Sunday mornings before he became a preacher were my favorite times. While Mom cleaned up the kitchen, we would snuggle on, around, and on top of him by the porch window and watch squirrels and chipmunks harvest nuts.

But more than anything else, he lived out his life in front of us applying Scripture to his life. It wasn't just a book he read from and made us squirmingly sit through after breakfast. For him it was/is a way of life. When he became a preacher and they lost his business, they could have filed for bankruptcy. Instead my parents claimed "A good name is better to be chosen than great riches." The next 20+ years of their life were financially difficult, but I wouldn't trade those life lessons for anything in the world. When I came home complaining about kids in my new school saying untrue things about me, his response was to apply the principles of Matthew 18. And when we had to pray for a new vehicle because ours was literally dead and the money wasn't there, we took Dad's joke to pray for a Cadillac seriously. When his nephew whom we hadn't heard from in several years called a few weeks later, Dad shockingly told us he was in retail for the Cadillac company, had bought a used car at wholesale a few years earlier, and for some reason we kept coming to mind when he thought about selling it. We were dirt poor, but we had a very nice car to drive. I think that one still boggles Dad's mind. Our response was, "That's what you told us to pray for!" And the one of the many things I loved about my Dad as a teenager was that he was never afraid to admit he was wrong or didn't have all the answers. I don't think he'll ever realize how much of an impact he made on me during my teen years.

And while he probably won't read this blog, Happy Birthday Dad!

Friday, February 5, 2010

our broken moral compass

I am old.
I grew up in the Bible belt, where even people who did not go to church knew the Ten Commandments, the Creation story, some of the Beatitudes, a few parables, and at least 2 verses of Amazing Grace.
And yet, two of my four years in a public high school were 2 of the 3 loneliest years of my life. (My last year of middle school in a Christian school ranked third.) As one of my high school friends told me one day after overhearing classmates discussing weekend plans, "It's not that we don't like you, but we don't invite you to our parties because we know you don't drink. We don't won't to offend you by inviting you to something we know you can't come to." I actually appreciated her comments, and to this day that girl holds a very soft spot in my heart.
Then I went off to a Christian college, and the remainder of my life has been somewhat isolated within Christian communities EXCEPT for 2.5 years at Wake Tech and one summer at UAB. It was the teachers at UAB that shocked me. It was everything about Wake Tech that did.
One particular incident has come back to mind quite a bit this past week. I had an 18 year old classmate who was absolutely dumbfounded to find one of his four "teammates" (we were assigned to creative teams for the class) was a Christian. But not just a Christian, but in his terms, "the 7 day creation, there was a flood, the Bible is true, every word of it, kind of Christian". It floored him. He even moved his chair away from me a little and briefly debated whether or not he could even be on my creative team. He was a very talented artist, a bit disrespectful in his attitude toward his parents, but what dumbfounded me the most was his ability to lie without batting an eye. He could share something with you one day, and then the next week deny ever saying it. It almost made me wonder if he had split personalities. But as time progressed, I realized he simply had no moral compass.
David Aiken addresses this issue in his biography of George Bush "A Man of Faith" where he deals with the fact that in his earlier years Bush read the Bible because it was a good moral book to read. Over half of Americans today are Biblically illiterate. The items listed above that I remember non-Christians knowing growing up are now a thing of the past. And I find it interesting that before Bush personally met Jesus, he considered reading the Bible every day important because it provided a moral framework for the world.
My WTCC classmate didn't have that framework. And quite honestly, if one has never been taught the importance of the Christian worldview, why should anyone be honest? Think about it. The world revolves around you. All that matters is you. If everything is relative to you, your wants, your needs, your desires, then what motivation or reasoning is there for you to be honest about anything? All that matters is that you get what you want. (Remind you of a passage in Isaiah?)
The recollections of my classmate's lack of moral compass and the words from Bush's biography collided today as I finished up Palin's Going Rogue. Her last chapter details differences in how people who have been brought up on American (godly) principles and people who have been brought up on liberal (it's all about me) principles deal with life, specifically in the area of politics. And it's shattering and mind-boggling. But sadly it's true.
Our nation will never be able to solve its economic, political, and financial woes until we can return the basic tenants of Christianity. Honesty, caring for your neighbor, living for something besides your self are all by-products of the Christian life.
Our God is a God of hope. That means there's still a fighting chance for our country. But until we as a whole willingly return our broken compass to Him for repair, I fear all of our band-aid fixes will only slow the bleeding and not heal the wound.
As I age each day I'm understanding more why the Christian faith is a lifestyle, and why we are called to be a "peculiar" people.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


One of the things I miss the most about childhood is having someone to look after me when I'm sick. You don't truly appreciate Mom fixing you things to drink or rubbing your back or just holding you until you feel bad, but you still have to fix your own meals or drink or figure out what medicine to take. And for all my Mom friends out there who've not only been sick themselves but also had to look after a little one (or multiples) at the same time, my hat is off to you.

One of the nice things I don't miss about childhood and sickness, is as an adult I don't have to go to the doctor unless I think it's necessary. (I'm reminded of a few scenes were I'm rasping out my rationale for NOT going to the doctor while gasping for breath and my Dad standing there staring at me as if I'm from another planet and then laughingly saying, "Get your jacket and get in the car.") Some kids had normal diseases like chicken pox, strep, or tonsillitis; I had bronchial pneumonia and 5th disease.

And I am excited (as much as a tired person can be) this morning. Bobby informed me last night if I wasn't better this morning I had to go to the doctor. I woke up this morning and after five days of a sore throat so bad I couldn't stand to talk, I can talk this morning without hurting! WHOOHOOO!

Now if this cold will only be a 1week run instead of a 3 week, we'll be in business!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Do you ever wonder why God created our noses? I mean, the nose is basically an angled, tunneled entrance into our sinus passages. I suppose noses are more aesthetically pleasing. Can you imagine what our faces would look like if we just had two big holes where our nose is? On the more practical side, I know they play an important role in filtering the dust and dirt from the air we breath and such (reckon that's where the idea for a vacuum cleaner came from?), but really...a two-tunneled slanted entrance?

As a kid I used to ponder why adults were so adamantly opposed to nose picking. To my five year old brain, it made perfect sense. If you looked at people's nasal openings and their index fingers, they almost always seemed the same size. It was as if God measured them to fit perfectly. I also couldn't understand why girls who would make mud pies or swim in Smith Lake (which is very dirty) would think picking your nose was so gross. It is just dried up dirt after all. And lest some of you are becoming very concerned about me at this point, yes I do recognize as an adult why nose picking is not a safe nor wise thing to do.

And I also have a question for you: do you find it more painful to have a cold as an adult than you did as a kid? I remember being miserable with colds as a child, but I don't ever remember hurting like I do now as an adult. I guess that means I'm just falling apart.

Monday, February 1, 2010


front tire tractor tracks

Monica tracks

rear tire tractor tracks
(my brother-in-laws cleared our driveway)

Lucy & Linus tracks

bird tracks
(they made quite a pattern around the chicken pen eating the corn I dropped)

Bobby braving the elements and scaring me half to death.
He had fun.