Thursday, November 29, 2012

character flaws

There's no such thing as perfect people.
There's no such thing as a perfect life.
So come as you are:
Broken and scarred,
Lift up your heart and be amazed,
and be changed,
By a perfect God.
Natalie Grant, Perfect People
Having five family units in one household over Thanksgiving brought about some interesting dynamics and interactions. Some still make me laugh. Others left me wondering if I were a parent, what kind of parent would I be?
The last two weeks as I've acted and interacted with people, I've been very aware of the shortcomings of both myself and others. I've had to go back and read I Corinthians 13 once or twice this week (thanks for that recommendation Sara Mincy!) to be reminded of just how radical God's love is (and how we're supposed to be emulating that love to others!).
As long as I live on this earth, I will always fight fears and disbelief. I will also struggle with certain issues. Some personality types will always clash with mine. I will mess up.
And that's okay.
Because at the end of each day, the one who made me, who knows my deepest thoughts, every time I sit down and every time I get up, still loves me with His perfect love. And for me, that fills in life's potholes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This weekend I was talking with my 8 year old niece. I don't remember the exact conversation, I just know that my response was "I'm blessed."
She tilted her head, looking at me with a skeptical look.
"I am. I am truly blessed."
She shrugged and gave me a wrueful grin.
"In a weird way," was her response.
"It may be weirdly blessed, but I'm still blessed." was all I was willing to concede.

And there are days (okay, sometimes HOURS and MINUTES) when I have to constantly remind myself of that.

So here's my weird blessing list for today:
  • Charleston "Charlie" James Blake, great-nephew #8 (he's actually the 5th nephew, but number 8 in line of the greats) arrived this morning. Both mother and baby are doing well.
  • My friend Jen Beatty was sent home from the hospital and contractions have ceased. All is well. (She's not due until the end of January, and has had some complications in the past.)
  • The kids' Christmas play at church is NOT this Sunday, as I had thought up until a week ago, so I have this week to peacefully prepare.
  • While it's not perfect, we do have access to good medical care in our country.
  • Mom has hopes of wearing a normal shoe within two months.
  • My husband loves me for who I am.
  • Bobby's upcoming retirement.
  • The gift of laughter.
  • The luxury of owning a sewing machine and the time to sew on it.
  • Friends who can discuss more than just their kids.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

just in case

Since my older sister and I both live far away from the rest of the family, we rotate which holidays we make the long trek home. For example, last year we did Christmas in AL, so this year it'll be Thanksgiving. So this next week my family will unite and celebrate the following events in the space of three days:
My Mom's 70th birthday (Nov 25)
My parents' 50th anniversary (which is Dec 27)
and the Iron Bowl (the Alabama/Auburn game, for my non-Bama readers)

One of the many crazy things I'm assembling to take with us: cookie cutters and decorating supplies.

the state of Alabama
a football helmet

The last year we were all together for Thanksgiving and the game, I brought these in (along with an elephant...ROLL TIDE!, a tiger paw, and a star).  As if these weren't enough, my nephew and middle niece decide to create scoreboards, along with their predicted scores for the outcome of the game. This year I'm cheating though, and am taking packaged sugar cookie mixes instead of us spending hours making them from scratch.

I already have two suitcases packed, as well as two small boxes, and am working on a third suitcase. The lingering question: will it all fit in the van along with all the stuff Bobby requires? Hopefully the answer to that tonight will be a resounding yes! While I like the thought of not having as far to travel this year (we're all meeting in the mountains as a gift to our parents for their 50th), it seems like we're having to pack and think through twice as much in order to "celebrate" every thing.

And with that, I need to get back to my checklists.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Psalm 103
emphasis and commentary mine

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The Lord (the Almighty, Creator God...all caps!)
performs righteous deedsAnd judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,So far has He removed our transgressions from us.(and as the Chinese say, "East is East and West is West and never the two shall meet." Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;He is mindful that we are but dust.
  As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the Lord, all you works of His,In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


On Wednesday nights our church has been doing a study on the names of God and their meanings in the original Hebrew writings. I've missed a few weeks, but last night was very interesting (not to mention timely!)

Adonai - Lord and Master, plural form. Translated as Lord in English. In the Hebrew, this is the word used when referring to deity.
Adon - Lord and Master, singular form. Also translated as Lord in English. In the Hebrew, this is the word used when referring to humans.

Servanthood and slavery as so taboo and villified in our culture that I don't think we fully grasp the implications of this term people used in prayer to God. It certainly made the texts of Abram, Daniel, and others as they spoke to God take on a slightly different meaning. They had a recognition of their place in God's order that I think we Americans sometimes miss.

Last year for Christmas I gave Bobby a PBS DVD series called "Manor House".  Characters in Britain applied for the opportunity to train and live for 6 weeks in a historical British setting. In one of the episodes, the servant girls are struggling with their "station".  When any of the "masters" walked through, say the stairwell or hallway where they were working, they were to immediately stop, stand, turn their back and lower their head. In other words, attempt to become invisible. No one recognized their presence, commended them on their work, or acknowledged their existence in any way. The modern British girls struggled with such attitudes and pious authority. The theory of the time was that they had a job to do, no one should be praised for just doing their job, and the master was above his servants and therefore didn't have to talk to them. I know I would have struggled with that.

I couldn't help but think back to that scene during our lesson last night. I'm thankful that even though God is our Master, he both wants and encourages us to talk to him. But it also made me realize just how disrespectful our prayers can be when we only ply God with out childish requests and demands. We don't give him half the respect he truly deserves.

And my second favorite thing from last night? Adonai is plural. Their prayer (or the name called out to God) recognized all three parts of the Godhead. I'd be very curious to know whether or not this same word was also used to refer to other deities such as Baal or Dagan, or if its use was limited to Jehovah.

Creator, Almighty, Master. I'm looking forward to see what word we learn next!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Dongxi (pronounced dong - she) is the Chinese Mandarin word for "stuff".  I think it's one of my top five favorite Chinese words.

Sometimes I think I have entirely WAY too much.
As in, I'm prepping for a trip and am thinking I might not ever fit it all in the van.
Or I need to clean off the kitchen table and I'm wondering where everything came from.

But yet, we're also blessed with it as well.

A friend called me this morning. He was excited because his five hour chemo treatment (according to the receptionist) is actually a 2-3 hour treatment (according to the nurse who gives it). So after we got off the phone and I shot up a quick prayer, I immediately started thinking through all the things I would take to a long appointment like that. My ipad, a book, a sketch book, quilting squares a magazine, some water and gum. And the reality is, I'd be doing good if I used one of them. I guess I over-prepare, or overpack my dongxi. Always have.

Last night at the funeral home for Bobby's uncle, they had a table out of things the family associated with him: Bojangles, Snickers, the teddybear postman (he was a retired postal worker), a Duke cap, his Navy medals, along with a few other things. I asked Bobby on the way home what we would put out for him and he just shrugged. I thought of a few things, but probably not as many as he immediately listed for me.

Is that his way of politely saying I have and can be associated with too many things?

It's nice to be blessed. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


WHOHOOO! Yes. That was me. My underarm and chest are officially scab-covered, meaning I can leave the house! :)
On my errand list for today:
  • Food Lion
  • bank
  • dry cleaners
  • Agri-Supply
  • Target
then rush home and tackle housework and projects before starting supper so we can head to the funeral home later tonight.

And one really cool crazy thing? I can see orange leaves from the window by the front door. Yes, it is time for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

decisions, decisions

Next week we leave for Gatlinburg to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Iron Bowl, and my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. I'm not even sure how to begin packing for all of this. Here's what I do have:

  • food items for a turkey craft
  • puzzles
  • anniversary gift for my parents
  • and a growing list of food items to take with us/purchase when we get there
Holidays, here we come!

Friday, November 9, 2012

a funny wedding cake

We went to the State Fair last month, and this wedding cake just made me laugh. This is one of those things that I love but would make my mother shake her head and say, "Now, Monica..."
I love that God created us all with different viewpoints. :)

I can't find the close-up photo I took of the bride & groom, but they're to the right of the cake. Love the bananas, the monkeys playing patty-cake up front and the traditional see, speak, hear no evil monkeys. It's just a hoot!

colors of fall

 I didn't have time to grab my good camera as the sun was starting to set and I knew it get it quick or don't get it at all.  First time I've noticed the colors in the pond.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

be still...

I was a bit frantic before the election started trying to get life lined up and organized as I knew things weren't going to slow down anytime soon.

Or so I thought.

Last week during Early Voting I developed a sore under my arm. I thought it was from pulling ballots all day at the ballot table, so I put cream on it that night, and shrugged it off. Then I woke up during the night with the most horrible burning and itching imaginable. The next morning I had quite a bad rash. We thought it was an allergic reaction to something, and so the rest of the week I smothered it with antiobiotic ointment and anti-itch medicine and dealt with it. When I had twinges of pain, I thought it was just sore muscles.

Monday evening my arm was slightly swollen and very red in the lymph node area, and I knew that meant an infection. So Wednesday when the elections were over and it hadn't cleared up, I called the dr to make an appointment. I fully expected to get a steroid cream and be told it was either an infected mosquito bite or an allergic reaction.

I have shingles.


As in, the child who never ever ever got chicken pox and grew up before there was such a thing as vaccines for that, has shingles.

As in, quarrantine from kids, elderly, and pregnant ladies for 10-14 days or until this rash clears up. Did I mention I'm supposed to be in charge of the kid's play at church, and that is the first Sunday in December? So 2 of the next 3 weeks I'm not supposed to be around children (and the next Sunday we're in TN celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary).

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

And the saddest thing? I'm stuck at home but don't feel like quilting.

I guess when God said to "be still" he meant it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


After getting Bobby out the door this morning, I went back to bed and slept and slept and slept. If I didn't have an appointment soon, I think I could easily sleep the day and night away.

But I did want to quickly post some things I'm thankful for:

1) the election is over.
2) As a poll worker, I was VERY excited about the turnout and attitude at the polls on election day. Despite the huge turnout for early voting, election day was still very busy.
3) All but one of my precincts had a great day.
4) No "get to x precicnt immediately and if you can't diffuse the situation with an irate voter we're sending the police" phone calls this time.
5) Laughter.
6) Poll workers who don't get angry or pouty when you correct them, and who are correctly following procedures on follow up visits.
7) Sleep.
8) I'm not much of a fashion fan, but I've always appreciated how Michelle Obama dresses her girls in appropriate attire. I don't know whether or not they are designer duds, but they always look nice and normal, yet pretty. Unlike some previous first kids, they're not hiding behind the secret service holding up their garment bags because they're not appropriately dressed or washed for the day. Could be the age difference, but the girls dress like normal kids, except modestly. And that is refreshing.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Saturday evening at 5:45pm there was whooping and shouting and cheering and clapping at Wake Tech's Main Campus. What? You didn't hear us? It was the sound of relief and rejoicing as poll workers closed the door behind the last voter and took a few minutes to pause and laugh before starting the task of take-down and clean-up. There were many jokes of "we deserve a t-shirt that reads 'I survived the2012 Election' and I was very pleasantly surprised to look up at 6pm (I was on my knees pulling wrapped, unopened ballot packages from the cabinet) to find almost ALL of my fellow poll workers pitching in and helping the ballot table workers clean-up. And I think it's safe to say that TEAM was an accurate description for our site's pollworkers. For eleven days straight, strangers (or slight acquaintances) of different political parties and walks of life worked diligently to process the voters and ensure the process operated both accurately and quickly. It wasn't always easy. We had more than a few disgruntled voters and two irate political observers. During one of those rougher times, I sat down at lunch beside another worker. She was working the application (registration) table, and that morning they had encountered more than a few vocal voters (people who forget we're normal civilians and don't make the laws about voter id) and even had quite a few get a little ugly. She sighed, shook her head and said "Lord, let everything out of my mouth be pleasing to you" and then began to eat. It was so good to hear refreshing words in the midst of an emotionally charged situation.

I was reminded again this week of how perceptions aren't always truth, and how there can be more than one side to a story. I was energized by the smiles, enthusiasm and nervousness of first-time voters. You could recognize them right away. And I was thankful for the ones who waited in line for an hour just to stand in yet another line for the ballot table, and still approached us with a smile.

Democracy and freedom are precious. I would rather see someone vote the opposite way from me than not vote at all. It's a freedom no American should take lightly.

So if you haven't voted already, MAKE time to go vote tomorrow. Our democracy depends on it.