Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thirty-five Years Later, I Still Shudder

When I was little, Halloween was full of innocence and fun. The year I was 13, the innocence and fun disappeared when this happened on the outskirts of Houston, and it was maybe less than 5 miles from my house.

It took several days for the police to track down all the clues and arrest the father, so for almost a week sheer terror filled the homes of anyone with a child. The candy gleaned that year immediately went into our trash. (As the article indicates, many folks took theirs straight to the Police Department.) Even after the father's arrest and conviction, the horror remained, and trick-or-treating virtually disappeared for several years. When a few began venturing out, they only went to houses where they knew the residents, and hospitals advertised free x-rays of candy windfalls.

Although I don't at all like the darker side of Halloween, I've been glad to see some of the fun and camaraderie for children return to neighborhoods in recent years.

But even after 35 years, it still makes me nervous to watch my girl (my boy's not big on candy) eat a Pixy Stix, even one that has come straight from a store. I never was able to let her eat one from her Halloween bucket. Some memories are just etched too deep.

One thing I'm curious about: this was years before the age of cable news networks and internet, yet it was apparently a very well-publicized case, even attracting reporters from Europe to cover the trial. So for those of you outside of Texas (or at least Houston) who old are enough to remember events of the mid-1970's: did you hear about this? Where did you live? Did it impact your family's activities on Halloween?

Newspaper picture: Austin American-Statesman article 10/31/09
Pixy Stix picture: Google Images


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TSMSS - A Blast from the Past!

Thirty years ago (yikes!) I graduated from high school. Contemporary Christian music was still relatively new, but there were some incredible songs and musicians in those early days. During that time, Russ Taff was the lead singer with The Imperials and they were fantastic. One of my all-time favorites was Praise the Lord. I still love it - such great truth in the words, and the conviction and passion as Russ sings it touches me. A song is great when sung by a 25-year-old, but when he's 50 and has been through some of life's trials, it takes on even more depth.

But I can't resist also posting the original from way back in 1979 - it has such a great piano accompaniment with it! Those first notes of the intro always just grab me!

Praise The Lord (Album) - The Imperials


When you're up against a struggle
That shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed
By Satan's manifested scheme
And you feel the urge within you
To submit to earthly fears
Don't let the faith your standing in
Seem to disappear

Praise the Lord
He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord
For our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord
For the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you
That they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

Now Satan is a liar
And he wants to make us think
That we are paupers
When he knows himself
We're children of the King
So lift up the mighty shield of faith
For the battle must be won
We know that Jesus Christ is risen
So the work's already done

WRITTEN BY: Brown Bannister & Mike Hudson

Visit Amy's for more music to bless your weekend!


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Friday, October 30, 2009

Pass the Tortillas. And the Biscuits, Cookies, Pizza, Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy. . .

....and anything else with flour in it! I am one relieved and happy woman.

Thank you for your prayers as I went to the doctor this morning. One of the things he tested me for was celiac disease, which would have required me to remove gluten from my diet. I've always had an irritable digestive system that I've just attributed to peaks of stress, but adding that fact to the correlation between osteoporosis and celiac disease (and even migraines and celiac disease) and the rapidity with which they scheduled my appointment upon receiving the lab results led me to conclude that was the news I would hear this morning.

The adage that A physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient (Sir William Osler) apparently applies to other members of the medical community as well. Sigh. (Do you know how nerve-wracking pregnancy was for me? Especially after we had a couple of nieces and nephews born with issues?! Being a nurse is a double-edged sword!)

So without boring you with the details, I will just say that the calcium that went into my body during that 24-hour collection period mostly landed in that nice little jug. And the Vitamin D doesn't seem to cling to my bloodstream very well either.

So I came out with a fistful of prescriptions to add to the pill bottles on my counter. As well as another jug to use in a few months to check progress. The fun just never ends!

But that's okay. I'd much rather pop pills than go the gluten-free route. A couple of friends who have family members with this issue told me that even toothpaste and communion wafers are an issue!

Man does not live on bread alone. . . .but it's nice to have some occasionally!


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Finally Friday

Ah, it's one of my favorite weekends of the year. Not because of Halloween. Not because of a football game. But because we get to move the clocks back and get that extra hour of sleep Saturday night!

That flippant little remark I made in this week's Random Dozen that the sure sign I'm getting older is the array of pill bottles on my counter is coming back to haunt me. About 10 days ago I saw an endocrinologist to try to figure out why such young (ahem!) bones have already have such advanced osteoporosis (If you've been around awhile you might remember I broke my foot a year ago just walking across the church foyer.) and what can be done about it. So he ordered some labwork and also sent me home with one of these delightful 24-hour containers. (It does help being a nurse at times!) Anyway, as a friend says, to make a short story long, they called yesterday with those lovely words: "The doctor would like you to come in for an appointment to discuss your lab results." It doesn't take a rocket scientist nurse to figure out the results are not normal! At least they had an appointment available first thing this morning so I don't have to stew about it over the weekend. Because of course I know what he was screening for. (This is when it is not helpful being a nurse!) And while it is not life-threatening, it will be life-altering and take some major adjustment. But we'll see what he says. I'd appreciate any prayers you'd care to lift up on my behalf!

Going to the doctor lately makes me feel like this:

I started out with nothing ... I still have most of it.

When did my wild oats turn to prunes and All Bran?

I finally got my head together, now my body is falling apart.

Funny, I don't remember being absent minded.

All reports are in. Life is now officially unfair.

If all is not lost, where is it?

It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.

The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging.

I went to school to become a wit, only got halfway through.

It was all so different before everything changed.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

I wish the buck stopped here. I could use a few ...

It's not the pace of life that concerns me, it's the sudden stop at the end.

It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.

The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you're in the bathroom.

If God wanted me to touch my toes, He would have put them on my knees.

When you're finally holding all the cards, why does everyone else decide to play chess?

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

It's not hard to meet expenses ... they're everywhere.

My girl survived her projects last week. I didn't get a picture of her scrapbook, but here is her cell for Biology. She worked really hard and was creative in the things she figured out to use to recreate the "organelles." (I just call them the innards!) Not that I'm biased or anything! But her teacher apparently thought so, too, and my girl got 100.

I don't know how my boy escaped that project when he was in Pre-AP Biology, but he is counting his blessings after watching her. He's not so much into crafty things. Go figure!

Saturday my girl has auditions for All-State orchestra. Although she won't find out the results for a while, she would be thrilled for it to be a treat rather than a trick!

Finally, although I don't condone intoxication, I kinda hope these guys were drunk and not as desperately short of brain cells as it would appear when they chose their criminal disguises. I love how the last sentence says so much in so few words: Attorneys for the men declined comment.


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hole-y Humbled

I had a helping of humility yesterday, served with several dozen doughnut holes.

And of course, what's a little humility without sharing it on my blog for the whole wide world 3 of you to read?!

We wrapped up our six-week study of Vicki Courtney's 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter yesterday morning with a brunch. I know lots of churches are enjoying this study and moms are being greatly encouraged to have keep those lines of communications open and talk, talk, talk with their daughters.

And we had a little extra bonus at our brunch that other churches don't get to have: Vicki came for a Q&A time.

Not that I would brag or anything. Ahem.

(For those who don't know, Vicki goes to my church. Or I guess I should say, I go to hers!)

Oh yeah, I was talking about humility. That definitely wasn't it!

Anyway, as brunches typically are organized, we all signed up to bring something. I was in the Muffins/Bread/Coffeecake category and had several options in mind, among them my Chocolate Muffins or Apple-Walnut Bundt Cake, as well as a couple of newer recipes I've been wanting to try.

As it turned out though, Tuesday I was essentially gone all day, picked up kids from school, made dinner, went to piano, and by the time the running around was done about 8:00 I was wiped out.

So I, the one who loves to bake and who brags about insists on making everything from scratch, took doughnut holes. And even worse, they were from the grocery store because our famous and irresistible doughnut shop was the wrong direction and I didn't have time to go by there after taking my kids to school.

Amazingly, they didn't kick me out of the study, and the world hasn't fallen off of its axis. Yet. But I'm thinking I need to get out the mixer just to make amends lest it feel jilted.

It was a hole new experience!


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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Random Dozen

1. Tell me something about your favorite teacher.

I'm sure it will be no surprise to those of you who hang around this blog to find out that my favorite teacher taught English. High school, 11th grade. She was challenging but made it so much fun. We focused on literature and also vocabulary (to prep for the SAT and those dreaded analogies!). I still exchange Christmas cards with her.

2. Tell me about one pivotal moment in your life.

Just before the end of my sophomore year in high school, we moved 17 miles across Houston. Before we moved, we were in a deteriorating neighborhood, we went to an old church where 85% of the members were over 60 years old and there were about 4 kids in the youth group, I was introverted and fearful and shy. We moved to an area with two high schools within 2 miles of each other - that's how many teenagers there were - and joined a church that ran around 60 in the youth group. It made an incredible difference in my life and my personality.

3. About favorite colors--a lot of people will ask you what it is, but I want to know why it is. What feeling or memory does it evoke?

Growing up, my favorite color was always yellow - bright, sunshiny, happy yellow. I don't know if I have one single favorite color because it depends on what it's for. I do still tend to like bright cheery colors - dark purple, fuschia, royal blue. They give me energy and make me happy. I have the opposite reaction to colors like rust, puke sage or olive green, gold (except jewelry!) or brown.

4. What's a sure sign that you're getting older?

The pill bottles in my bathroom.

5. Please don't sermonize, but Halloween--is it a yes or no for you?

In theory, yes. In reality, no. Halloween costumes are a nightmare for a creatively impaired mom like me. And we don't live in a young "fun" neighborhood. I'm glad the kids are older and past that stage.

6. What's your favorite musical?

I can't believe Lidna, the Anti-Musical, asked this question! Thirty years ago I would have said The Sound of Music. Now I think it may be Mary Poppins. And I absolutely love Fiddler on the Roof. And seeing Wicked live this summer was incredible. I even like High School Musical! Musicals are just fun and make me smile!

7. Are you more of a city mouse or country mouse?

City suburb, through and through. Too many animals in the country. And noises. And it's waaaay too scary-dark.

8. Did you know that it is possible, for a small fee, to name a real star after someone? (It's true! Google it!) If someone were to name a star for you, would you appreciate it for its whimsy and romance, or would you say, "Are you kidding me? For $19.95 we could have gone to the movie and actually bought popcorn."

That would not make me at all starry-eyed! I'd much rather have something tangible.

This question comes from Paula at His Ways Are Not Our Ways.
9. What's the craziest thing you've ever been doing and texted during it? I only thought of this b/c I was about to try to text during my walking video but I didn't.
(Paula, you do know that this blog is rated G, right?)

I don't text much. I think I tried to text once while I was drying my hair. Neither worked very well.

10. "It's not a party unless _______."

My friends are there! And chocolate, of course!

11. When you're stuck in traffic or a waiting room, what do you do to pass the time? PS: There are no magazines available.

Well, I usually take a book with me. Otherwise, I love to watch people. People fascinate me.

12. If you weren't yourself, would you be friends with you?

Yes. I'm loyal, caring, and love to do things for friends.

Find out more random info about folks by visiting our lovely hostess, Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee!


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CFBA - A Little Help From My Friends

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Little Help from My Friends

FaithWords (October 15, 2009)


Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt


ANNE DAYTON graduated from Princeton University and is earning her master's degree in English literature at New York University. She works for a New York publishing company and lives in Brooklyn.

MAY VANDERBILT graduated from Baylor University and went on to earn a master's degree in fiction from Johns Hopkins University. She lives in San Francisco, where she writes about food, fashion, and nightlife in the Bay Area.

Together, the two women are the authors of Miracle Girls series

Zoe is used to being overlooked. As the youngest and shyest Miracle Girl, she was happy to fade into the background last year. But when she sheds her baby fat and shoots up four inches the summer before her junior year, everything changes. Now she's turning heads at school, and this new attention is beginning to strain her relationship with her sweet, serious boyfriend, Marcus.

Pressure builds when Zoe's assigned partner for history class is Dean Marchese--a handsome New York transplant who isn't afraid to show her how he feels.
Just when she needs her three best friends the most, the Miracle Girls are suffering from boy troubles of their own.

Even Zoe's rock-solid home life begins to shake underneath her when her parents' relationship frays in the face of serious financial burdens. As this uncertain year of growing pains comes to a frenetic head, the quietest Miracle Girl must find her voice at long last and take control of her own destiny . . . with more than a little help from her friends.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Little Help from My Friends, go HERE

This is the first Miracle Girls book I have read, and I enjoyed it. I appreciate books that show realistic Christian kids navigating through believable circumstances, sometimes stumbling along the way, but learning how to walk with God in their lives. I'll be passing this one on to my girl.


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Into Flavor - Chocolate Muffins

Fall brings cooler temperatures and sends us into the kitchen to warm our homes and our senses with the aromas and tastes of good food. Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee is hosting Fall Into Flavor to give us an opportunity to share some of our favorite healthy decadent comfort foods.

I got this recipe shortly after I married from a woman at my church who brought these to an event. They were a staple at any ladies tea or brunch, and I think of her whenever I make them. Fair warning though: it is impossible to eat just one, and since they are bite-size, it's easy to lose track of how many you've popped in your mouth!

Chocolate Muffins

Melt and set aside:
1/2 c. margarine
1/3 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
2 eggs
Add to melted chocolate, mixing well.
3/4 c. pecans
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Grease & flour miniature muffin tins. Using small cookie scoop, spoon batter into pans. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Immediately remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 2 dozen miniature muffins.

Head on over to 2nd Cup of Coffee to find more recipes!


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Praying Life

Why do so many of us find it easy to pour out our hearts to our spouses and our friends, talking about anything and everything with them and listening to their thoughts as well, yet when it comes to prayer, we find ourselves tongue-tied? Why do we so often exhaust all other options, finally resignedly saying "All that I can do now is pray"? Why does it sometimes seem as if prayer is just another thing on our To Do List of spiritual activities?

In A Praying Life (NavPress), Paul E. Miller has written an honest, down-to-earth, and extremely practical book. Right at the beginning, he identifies that the focus of the book is not prayer, but getting to know God. We have no problem communicating with someone we know and love! The tone of this book is one of encouragement. Prayer is not some ethereal concept or Olympic-level activity attainable only to professional pastors and theologians. God longs to hear the prayers of each of His children. There is no caveat of "Don't Try This At Home" attached to prayer.

The book opens with the section Learning to Pray Like a Child. This may be one of the most crucial aspects we need to learn and re-learn. I love how he says,
Jesus does not say, "Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest." No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:38, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. (pp. 51-52)
He wants us as we are.

The book's subsequent sessions are Learning to Trust Again, Learning to Ask Your Father, Living in Your Father's Story, and Learning to Pray in Real Life. Illustrations from the life of his own family, including transparent sharing of difficult lessons he's learned, are scattered throughout and make this an authentic book rather than a dry theological tome. While I think most of the time we need to quit reading books ABOUT prayer and just pray, I recommend this book!

LET'S FACE IT! PRAYER IS HARD! In fact, prayer is so hard that most of us simply do not pray unless an illness or a public setting, such as saying grace at a meal, demands it. Prayerlessness is rooted in a core unbelief that can shape our lives, even as Christians. Because of prayerlessness, our lives are often marked by fear, anxiety, joylessness, and spiritual lethargy.

If prayerlessness marks your life more often than not, then this book is for you. Basing the text on the popular PrayerLife seminar, which has encouraged thousands of Christians to a vibrant prayer life, Paul Miller writes to the heart of the matter. This is, indeed, the book for any Christian who wants to know the joy and power of a vibrant prayer life.

A Praying Life is an honest look at the difficulties of prayer, unanswered prayers, and successes in prayer. Readers will appreciate Paul Miller's down-to-earth approach and practical nature. Parents will find his family-life experiences especially helpful.

Paul spent his childhood in California and Oregon, moving east when his father, Dr. Jack Miller, began teaching at Westminster Seminary. After graduating from college, Paul taught at inner-city Christian schools in Philadelphia for ten years. With a group of parents, he started Spruce Hill Christian School (K-8), an inner-city, multiracial school where he was principal and teacher.

In 1983, he helped his father found World Harvest Mission, where he served as the associate director from 1983 until 1996. In 1999, he completed a master of divinity at Biblical Seminary and founded, a mission that helps Christians and non-Christians alike “see Jesus” through inductive Bible studies.

During his time as associate director, Paul wrote several discipling courses, including a course on grace called Sonship. In the early '90s, Paul also wrote The Love Course, a course that studies the personality of Jesus as a way of learning to love. In 2001, Paul wrote Love Walked Among Us (NavPress). Paul weaves stories of his own struggles to love with stories of how Jesus loves. The book is based on The Person of Jesus study, an in-depth, inductive Bible study of what Jesus is like as a person. Both the book and the study are written to include non-Christians who have no background in Christianity. In 2005, the PrayerLife study was released, which is an eleven-week course on prayer for “badly praying Christians."

Paul is married to Jill, who is known for her sense of humor and faith. They have six children, seven grandchildren, three goats, two donkeys, and two dogs.

You can purchase A Praying Life at Amazon or your favorite Christian bookseller.

Thanks to NavPress for providing a copy of this book for me to review.


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Saturday, October 24, 2009

TSMSS - Choosing Faith in Spite of Feelings

When the world says. . .

All roads lead to God.
If it feels good, do it.
Look out for #1.
You deserve to be happy.
Have it your way.
Because you're worth it.
A loving God wouldn't do that.
Seeing is believing.

The Bible says. . .
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Mark 9:24


". . .this is how we set our hearts at rest
in His presence
whenever our hearts condemn us"

1 John 3:19-20

Even church can sometimes be a source of frustration and even guilt as worship music and sermons often generate emotional responses from others that we don't always experience ourselves. Yet faith is not based on feeling but on Truth.

I just love this song. It's simple but has such powerful lyrics.


I believe
Help thou my unbelief
I take the finite risk of trusting like a child
I believe
Help Thou my unbelief
I walk into the unknown, trusting all the while

I long so much
To feel the warmth
That others seem to know
Should I never feel a thing
I claim Him, even so.

I believe
Help Thou my unbelief
I walk into the unknown, trusting all the while.

Words & Music by Bill & Gloria Gaither

Visit Amy's for more songs to bless your weekend!


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Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fun

Eventually you can do whatever you want:

A reporter interviewed a 104-year-old woman.
"And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" the reporter asked.
She simply replied, "No peer pressure."

And I couldn't resist passing this along. . .

A hungry traveller stops at a monastery and is taken to the kitchens. A brother is frying chips.
"Are you the friar?" he asks.
"No. I'm the chip monk," he replies.


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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Redefining { beau-ti-ful }

It is easy to be discouraged by the messages constantly bombarded at girls by today's society. It seems as if every ad, every magazine, every clothing store is promoting an unrealistic and ungodly image of beauty, one which is impossible to attain. At the same time, I am so encouraged by the efforts of numerous Christian musicians and speakers to counter this attack with solid Biblical truth. I posted Jonny Diaz's song More Beautiful You last Saturday, and now I have a great book for you to share with your daughters and the girls in your youth group.

Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado is aimed at doing just that: helping girls to see themselves from God's perspective rather than through the world's distorted lens. In chapters as fresh and down-to-earth as if she were chatting at a sleepover, Jenna addresses these matters of the heart in the style of a makeover, with interactive questions and short quizzes to help girls evaluate their friendships, their relationships with their dad, and how they relate to God. Sprinkled throughout the book are Beauty Tips ranging from the practical (such as get plenty of sleep, wear sunscreen, and dress modestly) to the personal (such as meditate on God's word, know your worth). Snippets of encouragement -- and anecdotes from Jenna's growing-up years! -- are provided throughout the book by Jenna's dad, Max Lucado. This is an excellent book for any girl in middle school and high school, and would also be great as a small group study.

Not feeling very beautiful? Learn what beauty is from God's perspective.

Revolve speaker Jenna Lucado has teamed up with her dad, Max Lucado, to bring girls a fresh perspective on what they need to live a life of peace, joy, and confidence. What does God see when He looks at them? And how does a girl catch that vision?

Jenna reveals life accessories that are essential, and which single accessory is a real must-have to give teens a look they love—a look that says they are comfortable with who they are and secure and confident. What’s the all-important accessory? Love from a father. But what happens when there is no loving father in sight, no daddy to tell them they are beautiful?

Through conversational “girl time” Jenna reveals that when we look to God as our Father, He can change our focus, our look, and our lives. With affirmation from Max, Redefining Beautiful will change the way girls look at God, themselves, and the people around them.

If Jenna Lucado is sure of anything, she is sure of this, “I have a deep calling on my life to give hope to teenage girls.” What started out as a heart to encourage teen girls has now blossomed into a ministry. Daughter of best-selling Christian author Max Lucado, Jenna has realized that she has inherited a passion for writing and speaking just like her dad. She is currently a part of the Revolve Tour, an event for teen girls that includes a line-up of Christian artists like Natalie Grant, as well as speaker and author, Chad Eastham and many more. In September 2009 the release of her debut book, Redefining Beautiful, hit bookstore shelves. Jenna has also narrated part of Thomas Nelson’s Word of Promise: Next Generation. Through all the piling projects, Jenna is driven by the thought of one more girl hearing about the love of Jesus.

You can purchase Redefining Beautiful directly from Thomas Nelson Publishers or from Amazon and other booksellers.

Thanks to the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger Program for providing a review copy of this book!


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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Random Dozen

1. Candy corn: Your thoughts?

In a word: Ick!

2. Briefly, what was the first conversation you ever had with your spouse? (or best friend, if you're not married.) (Or someone significant, like your librarian.)

I have no idea. We were part of a group of friends before we ever started dating. And that was almost 25 years ago.

3. Could you ever become a vegetarian?

No way, no how. This Texas gal loves her steak and burgers!

4. Have you ever dressed up your pet in a costume?

I've tried to disguise my pet peeve, but it doesn't work very well. And I don't have any of the real pets. (Isn't this cheery?! I'm going to run everyone off - every question has been a negative so far!)

5. Name something about childhood that you miss (like Clark Bars, Teaberry Gum, Malibu Barbie, cracking fake eggs on people's heads with your fist and "It's the Great Pumpkin" airing only once a year).

Slushy Dr. Pepper out of bottle that's been in the freezer for a few hours. Reading in the big tree in our front yard. Being skinny and trying to gain weight. Wooden swing sets and seesaws and not getting dizzy on them!

6. Have you ever won a trophy? If not, what do you deserve a trophy for?

I remember having a trophy on my bookshelf in high school, but I have no clue what it was for. Something academic, I suspect. Or a journalism award. It certainly wasn't anything remotely related to sports!

7. When do you think is the appropriate time to begin playing Christmas music each year?

A smattering in mid-November and then full-blast beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

8. What's your favorite board game?


9. How do you feel about surprises (receiving, not giving)?

Assuming they are good surprises, I love them. It's hard to surprise me, though. I usually happen to see something or pick up on it somehow beforehand.

10. Is it easy for you to say, "I'm sorry?"

Yes. In fact, sometimes it's way too easy. Ever since I was a kid and my best friend always pulled the "I'm never going to talk to you again" card, I've always tended to apologize. The good side of that is that relationships are more important to me than issues. The downside is that I sometimes take on too much responsibility and give in too easily.

11. What is your favorite candle scent?

Aromatique's The Smell of Christmas. It "combines the delightful aroma of citrus and spice with naturally festive botanicals. . .red berries, evergreen sprigs, nuts, pinecones and cinnamon sticks."

12. October is traditionally "open house" time in public schools. If you had a literal open house in your home (like a reception) what light snacks would you serve visitors and what would you show them (as in art projects, graded papers) that would uniquely represent you?

Why do they have to be light snacks?! Cooking/baking is what uniquely represents me, so that's what I would have. Raw veggies served with some delicious dip in a carved out loaf of round bread, some decadent chocolate desserts, something with nuts. My girl would be playing the viola and/or the piano in the background. And I'd be making sure folks were comfortable and well-fed. Oh, and probably making them groan with a few puns as the opportunity arose! There would be no art projects. And absolutely no scrapbooks!

Grab a 2nd Cup of Coffee at Lid's and see some other random answers!


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Into Flavor

It's baaaack! Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee has brought back one of my favorite memes from last year. We're starting today, but then moving to Mondays for a total of 5 weeks to share some of our favorite recipes for this time of year. Lidna's only requirement is that they be full of flavor and not skimp on the butter, cream, or other rich ingredients!

I ran out of time to get mine posted this morning, but I promise it's worth the weight wait! I've only made these once or twice because whew! They are wicked-good. They make a ton, which either gives you plenty to hoard or makes them ideal for a party or a cookie swap. I think I originally got this recipe from a Southern Living magazine years ago.

Dipped Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Nut Cookies

1 1/2 c. regular oats
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (12 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet morsels
3 (1.5 oz.) bars milk chocolate, grated
1 1/2 c. chopped pecans
12 oz. chocolate candy coating

Finely grind oats. (I use my little food processor.) Set aside. Beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs & vanilla; mix well. Combine ground oats, flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in chocolate morsels, grated chocolate, and pecans. Drop by teaspoons onto greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool.

Melt chocolate candy coating. Dip 1/2 of each cookie in melted chocolate and place on wax paper until set. Makes 9 dozen.

Come join us at Lidna's and share your own recipes!


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CFBA - Watch Over Me

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Watch Over Me

(Bethany House October 1, 2009)


Christa Parrish

Christa Parrish graduated high school at 16, with every intention of becoming a surgeon. After college, however, her love of all things creative led her in another direction, and she worked in both theatre and journalism.

A winner of Associated Press awards for her reporting, Christa gave up her career after the birth of her son, Jacob. She continued to write from home, doing pro bono work for the New York Family Policy Council, where her articles appeared in Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine. She was also a finalist in World magazine’s WORLDview short story contest, sponsored by WestBow press. She now teaches literature and writing to high school students, is a homeschool mom, and lives with her husband, author Chris Coppernoll, and son in upstate New York, where she is at work on her third novel.

Her Rescue Might Be the Miracle They Needed
Things like this don't happen in Beck County. Deputy Benjamin Patil is the one to find the infant girl, hours old, abandoned in a field. As police work to identify the mother, Ben and his wife, Abbi, seem like the obvious couple to serve as foster parents. But the newborn's arrival opens old wounds for Abbi and shines a harsh light on how much Ben has changed since a devastating military tour. Their marriage teeters on the brink and now they must choose to reclaim what they once had or lose each other forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Watch Over Me, go HERE

Benjamin, a husband dealing with tormented by the memory of his time in Afghanistan and survivor's guilt. Abbi, a wife who hates war, struggles with an eating disorder, and avoids vulnerability while at the same time desperately wishing someone would see the train wreck of their life and marriage and offer help. Matthew, a deaf teenage boy, abandoned by his mother, juggling school and too many adult responsibilities heaped on him by his aunt, all while dealing with dialysis and the prospect of a kidney transplant for a potentially fatal disease. And Silvia, the baby girl found abandoned in a field shortly after her birth. The portrayal of these broken, worn-down and weary individuals is haunting and, to be honest, painful to read. But the importance of choosing to follow God and the hope that begins to surface as a result is a message that is well-illustrated in this multi-layered novel.


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Monday, October 19, 2009

Deliver Us From Evil Scrapbooks!

I can feel the hives coming on.

Forget bailouts, healthcare, and other political issues. The biggest threat to our national security sanity?

Scrapbooks in Schools.

Gone are the days of turning in neatly copied sentences on crisp notebook paper or typed/computer-printed reports, bound together in a bradded folder or a clear presentation cover with the slide-on bar for the spine.

Now they want scrapbooks.

Oh, some of them pretend otherwise. In one class, they called it a Foldable Flip Book, where each page stuck out a little farther than the previous one. But the samples the teacher showed the class at Parent Night? A scrapbook by any other name would smell as stinky is still a scrapbook. And this was Biology class, not Art! (Fortunately, there was a brochure option, which my girl chose.)

But now it's back, this time in Espanol!

I really don't see how cute paper and ribbons and scalloped scissor-edges and stickers are going to help my girl learn the twelve or so vocabulary words that go in this book. It just seems like busy work for a high school freshman that is already spending almost all of her time on homework, in addition to two fall concerts this week and furiously practicing for All-State Orchestra auditions. (Yes, Sara, she made Region on Saturday! Thanks for your prayers!) Oh, and constructing one of these 3D cells for Biology!

(My girl said the Spanish teacher -- a long-term sub for the one on maternity leave -- showed the class a scrapbook that "my son and I did for his class". Ahem. My kids do their own projects, lady! This is high school, after all!)

(Except for cutting the solid foam ball for the aforementioned cell project. That took my man about 30 minutes, and I lost count how many times he sharpened the knife!)

Could we at least give kids a choice? Not everyone got the glue-gun-gene.

It's a vast craft-aisle conspiracy.

Either that, or some teachers don't have a scrap of sense!


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Jewel of His Heart

The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan transports the reader to the Big Sky country of Montana in the late 1890's. Weary and grief-stricken, Juliana Brady finds herself alone after her mother's sudden death. Taken in by her friend, Marion, whose father owns the town's hotel, she is determined to find a way to support herself and not be dependent on others. And she certainly doesn't need a man! She learned how undependable they were when her father left to strike it rich and never returned. She's doubts God even cares about her, since her track record with a faithful father leaves much to be desired.

Josh McBride's goal is to build his own ranch one day. In the meantime, he is busy herding sheep, a somewhat disdained profession. When he discovers some precious blue sapphires on his land, he is sorely tempted to enter the world of mining. Yet what price is he willing to pay for fortune?

As Josh and Juliana become friends, Josh longs to make Juliana his jewel. But between his contemplation of mining and Marion's obvious cap-setting, Juliana is resolved to keep her distance to protect her heart. When a mysterious fire, an attack, and a bank robbery bring trouble to the community, will it draw them together or drive them further apart?

This second novel in Maggie Brendan's Heart of the West series beautifully portrays the many human emotions and attitudes that are as old as time itself. . . greed and snobbery, class distinctions and girl politics, resentment and mistrust, love and forgiveness, and faithfulness and friendship. Enjoy this heartwarming story!

Maggie Brendan is a member of American Christian Writers and the American Fiction Writ Writers Association. She is the author of No Place for a Lady and lives in Georgia.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Many thanks to Revell/Baker for providing me with a copy of this book for review.


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

TSMSS - More Beautiful You

I just love this song by Jonny Diaz (pronounced Die-az, not Dee-az). If you know a girl between the ages of -- oh, let's say, birth and 94 years old, she needs to hear this message!


Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake
And she’s always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you’ve already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is true
And he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

So turn around you’re not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It’s not too late you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the One Who’s strong can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl

He talks briefly about the song here:

Be sure to join others at Amy's for more songs!


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