31 July 2012

Rainy day

Ah, the rainy day nap. Nothing beats it. :-)

Spoiled pigsies.

27 July 2012

Community BBQ Get-Together

I'm getting really excited! We're having our (now) annual Community BBQ at our house tomorrow. :) I know I mentioned in another post that it was originally scheduled for the weekend after Independence Day, but that changed. My darling husband has been working his tushy off getting our yard ready for all the festivities, and I'm closing up the office to get going on the inside of the house. The vast majority of things will happen outdoors, so the only reason people will be inside at all will be for potty breaks. This takes a lot of the stress off making sure the house is perfect and hospitable, but we do want everything to be nice for the 50-ish people we expect to attend. (Last year it was just over 30, and this year a lot more were invited.)

I only have one office project that didn't get finished for the week (due to my printer breaking down and having to wait for a part to be delivered), so I feel as though things are in pretty good shape here. Next week I hope to have pictures and lots of fun anecdotes to share.

Happy weekend to all!
Much love,

Book Report: Jasper Fforde's Dragonslayer Series... Sorta

Dragonslayer series covers. (Source)

Yes, I've read the first two books of this series. Book 3 isn't out in the US, yet. It will be out in the UK this year, but not here until 2014, per Jasper Fforde's website. No, I haven't gotten around to writing my book report for them, despite having told you I would. I've finished 8 books and read parts of 15 books since then, and the longer I put it off, the harder it is to remember what I intended to say. Sigh. I've decided it doesn't much matter.

The main point of this is that Jasper Fforde is pretty much brilliant. I am consistently amazed at how his brain works. How does he come up with this stuff, time after time after time?? I'm a big fan of his Thursday Next series, and the Dragonslayer series is no less wonderful.

The man, the myth, the legend, Jasper Fforde. (Source)
I actually got to meet him once. He did a book signing, reading, and Q&A at a little book store in Washington, DC, when I was still living up there. I got several copies of his then-new Thursday Next: First Among Sequels autographed, along with a couple of pictures (which I really need to locate and post here). He's just as fascinating and funny in person as his writing. I was delighted. :)

One of the things he talked about was dealing with his loose ends. He writes loose ends into his books that he doesn't know how or when they'll be tied up. He said that sometimes it just works out to tie a loose end from a previous book into a sequel, or into another series, but that he doesn't always necessarily intend for one to work out that way. He said that sometimes he's just as surprised at how things turn out as any reader is while reading it. I love that!

So the Dragonslayer series is about a group of misfit magicians who live in a world where magic exists in daily life, and a time in which it is heavily regulated by governmental bureaucracy. Incidentally, in this version of reality, there is a whole class of people entirely consisting of "foundlings" (unwanted babies that are orphaned or abandoned) who essentially become the slave race. There are vast wars with a race of giant trolls who think of humans as vermin and leave many human widows and orphans as a result. There are invented creatures, as well as mythical ones (dragons, et al), such as the quarkbeast. I know, I know. This description makes it seem really depressing, but it's not! Fforde is one of the funniest writers I've ever read!

Side note: he creates these parallel universes for each of his series that intersect with ours and with his other universes by turns. I keep thinking "delightful" and can't quite come up with any better description, so I'll just keep saying it.

The Last Dragonslayer (first book of the series) is about a young foundling who is the last dragonslayer and what happens when she has to slay the last dragon.

The Song of the Quarkbeast (second book) continues to follow the former dragonslayer, and the group of magicians she runs, into a new adventure.

In the interests of not spoiling this ingeniously delightful and astoundingly creative work, I'm not going to tell you all about these books. I changed my mind. You can't make me tell you. Go read them. Seriously. They're really enjoyable.

Much love,

26 July 2012

An Unpleasant Internal Discovery

Keys, phone, purse, shoes, drink...
What am I forgetting?
I feel like I need to put this up here as a means of accountability. I have discovered that I get tense and anxious when I'm preparing to leave the house, and any interruption, no matter how innocuous can send me into irritation mode. I don't like that about me, and since it has come to my attention, I feel it's something on which I need to work. However, I don't really know how to go about working on that.

I'm not normally prone to anxiety, so this is something that seems really out of character for me, and I'm somewhat confounded by it. If you have a suggestion, please put it in the comments. I'd love some input on how to keep my attitude right under those circumstances.

I know that as we start having children and moving into other, more complex phases of life, this isn't going to get easier. Being responsible for more people will only be more difficult, unless I get this figured out and can have my preparations and the attitude that goes with them in submission to the God of love Who lives in me. Let's face it, irritation and anxiety don't make me very loving or kind.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
~Ephesians 4:32 (KJV, as I memorized it when I was a little girl)~

I suppose the knowledge of this has been gradually increasing in my mind for some time. Our last weekend trip (two weekends ago), I became conscious of my souring thoughts as I was developing a tension headache while packing.

Part of this has been part of my packing process for some time. For one thing, until we got married, the vast majority of my travel was solo, and I was responsible for every portion of the trip. When you know that the degree to which you can rely on others, either in transit or while at your destination, is minimal, if you're like me, the greater degree of responsibility you take upon yourself. Responsibility = control freak. Think of everything, then check twice to make sure you've covered every potential possibility. Control = stress.

The other part of that is new. I'm not packing just for me, anymore. Now, I pack for us. Since my husband packs light, and since the luggage is going to carry more of my stuff than his, he gives me what he needs to pack, and I include it in my packing. Oh, whee.* Since I'm the nerd, I get to do all of the list-type activity. What do we need? Where will we be? Did we remember that we'll need this? Did I pack it in a way that makes sense? Can we get to things in order of how we'll need them? There's no throwing stuff in the suitcase and going. A decade-plus of single-hood has drummed any spontaneity out of me, when it comes to travel. Sigh.

Packing is only part of the issue, though, because I have become more and more aware of this building tension when I leave the house for other reasons, too. If any measure of preparation is required (i.e. putting on makeup, dressing up, fixing hair, etc.), or if an appointment is set and I have to be somewhere at a certain time, I find myself growing more and more tense, especially if both of those criteria are in effect. If I'm behind my self-imposed schedule for an on-time departure, you can just up the exponent on my internal tension by a notch or two.

The door I have to get through...
On the other hand, I've gotten much more relaxed about leaving my house for things like errand running that don't have a set time frame or level of expectation. I've gotten to the point that I don't worry about putting on makeup or even taking my purse (gasp!). I grab my wallet, phone, keys, shoes, and go! (I used to never go a day without makeup, but now I have fewer days with it than without. Odd, how that has changed with my spiritual development. I don't feel like I need my mask, anymore.)

This realization about my anxiety level hit me full in the face yesterday. I had a dentist appointment. Several things weren't going as planned in the pre-prep time of the morning. I was in a fairly neutral mood, though.

I left my desk a little later than planned, so I was rushing to put on my makeup and fix my hair to look appropriately put-together for a professional environment. In that last 10 minutes, my desk phone rang, emails came in (cue the computer ding), three text messages came in on my cell phone (cue the Star Trek Communicator bleep), and then my cell phone rang (my favorite, and my husband's exclusive ringtone -- Josh Turner's "Soulmate")-- all of which I forced myself to ignore in favor of finishing the process of getting out the door. With each noise, my level of tension, irritation, and anxiety shot up.

Is it just me, or
does my attitude stink?
As I was running out the door to get in the car, I called my husband back, in what had become an officially bad mood. My attitude stank. I had lost my grip on it, and by the time I realized it and apologized to him, I was really mystified. How did I get from neutral to bad mood in such a short time, without noticing? How did I lose my grip to the point that I was unkind to my amazingly caring husband whom I love and who deserves only my very best?

The thought sank in that I was being unreasonable, that my level of anxiety was way too high and entirely unnecessary. As I was snapping at him, I recognized it and still couldn't grab it back and shove that attitude away. Simultaneously, I realized how thankful I am for him and how much I love him. No control, though. I was past the point of being able to stop and breathe and be kind, and I still don't know how I got to that point. To make it even worse, he hadn't received my "good morning" text message, so he was just calling to check on me and make sure I was alright. I was repaying his kindness and concern with an outpouring of stinky attitude. Great.

So, how do I prevent this kind of bad attitude from sneaking up on me? I don't know how I got there to begin with, so how do I keep from getting there again?? Is there an area of your conduct that has you mystified and more than a little embarrassed? What do you intend to do about it?

Much love,

*I don't actually mind packing for both of us. In fact, it gives me an opportunity to be thankful for the husband God has given me. It just is one more thing to feel responsible for doing well, and my tension increases, along with my gratitude. I'd like to make that relationship inverse-- have the tension decrease with the increase of gratitude.

23 July 2012

The Reason Why

(I have this poster/metal sign.) 
In my early twenties, I decided to pursue Navy Officer Candidate School. I devoted several years to this pursuit. I lost weight, got in the best shape of my life, studied hard, passed the entrance exam with the highest score ever recorded for a female applicant in that tri-state region, went through the medical exam, and was promptly rejected. And rejected. And rejected. I had letters of recommendation from 4 Flag Officers and letters of recommendation from officers in 3 different branches of the military. I had a letter of recommendation from the Deputy Surgeon General of the United States. I was told time and again by a mystified recruiter that there was absolutely no reason he could find that I wouldn't have been accepted. "Just keep trying."

My godfather, a retired Army officer, thought my path could be helped by having a security clearance, so I moved to Washington, DC and got a security clearance, and applied again. Letter of rejection.

My story eventually moved in a different direction. God took me where He wanted me to be, but I couldn't ever figure out why I didn't make it into the Navy's officer program. I came to the conclusion that God had closed that door so that He could provide me with a different future. I speculated that perhaps He had orchestrated things to save me from some death or injury on foreign shores, but I was still puzzled by it. Hadn't He directed my steps to that process? What was He going to accomplish by directing me to this repeated failure?

I knew that His hand was at work in my life. I could see Him moving me. I could see Him opening and closing doors. My life wasn't random. I wasn't without guidance or purpose. I wasn't bitter about this, though I was somewhat disappointed for a time. It just seemed odd. Why would God bring me to this, then not see it through?

Truth be told, I could see that it was a maneuvering sequence of events in my life, and it brought me to a place where He could work on other areas in me, especially spiritually. I was fine with His sovereignty in this matter, but I didn't really get it.

The other night my husband and I were watching "Black Hawk Down" together. The thought was suddenly clear in my mind.

The reason I didn't get into the Navy was that it would have made me harder than I already was. The work God has done in recent years to soften me and make me more feminine, more able to bear His image as a woman of God has been extensive. He took me down to my foundation and rebuilt me. To have allowed me to enter the armed forces would have required an even greater, more painful process to redeem my heart and renew my mind. He has plans for me that require me to be soft of heart and spirit. He used this foray toward a military career as an opportunity to bring me to a place where He could work with me, then He protected me from a very real spiritual danger that I was never meant to encounter.

See, this is one of the reasons I love my God. He has a greater good in store for us than we can even imagine, and all it requires of us is our trust, which He gives us. He doesn't need to explain Himself to us. He doesn't owe us anything, but He loves us so much that He invites us to come close to His heart. And what we find there is the answer to our questions-- perhaps not the answer we expect, but the answer nonetheless. He's all about creating beauty from ashes, and I'm so glad that He's the God I serve. Can you imagine a holy God that didn't love? How ferocious that would be! How horrendous our lives would be!

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.                     ~Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NKJV)~

Have you thanked God lately for the conundrums in your life? Have you thanked Him for doing the works you don't understand? Maybe you should... You never know what His purposes may be, and they may, someday, become clear to you. Then again, they may not. Trust Him anyway. It's worth it. :)

Much love,

10 July 2012

Sharing Five - 7/10/12

Hi, there. I feel like it's been a really long time since I last posted, but it's just been a week. Today is the birthday of one of my dear friends, who happens to own my Curves franchise. Happy Birthday, again, my dear!

I'm sitting in the office, despite the fact that my work day is over, listening to my "Josh Turner Radio" station on Pandora, and thinking of what to share. In the interests of getting something up, and not having completed the multiple drafts I currently have saved...

Here're my 5 links. Enjoy!

  1. Biblical Reasons to be Organized, from The Organized Wife. My creative-type brain struggles with keeping things orderly, but my type-A task-oriented self wants everything perfectly squared away. Sigh. Let's just say I'm making an effort in this area, but have some growing still to do. 
  2. Pursuing a Large Family Mentality, When You're a Small Family, from Large Families on Purpose. I really enjoy this blog. I recently shared her post on keeping up with laundry in the large family/small home environment with my mom, because I knew she'd appreciate it. It fascinates me so!
  3. Civilized, Not Feminized, from Raising Homemakers. This blog is very good, and it has quite a few contributors. This particular post is about raising boys to be boys, not girls. Letting them be rambunctious and exuberant and all of those other lovely little boy traits, while having self-control and civility. Love it. I hope I get to have boys. 
  4. A recipe: My Take on Nam Prik Ong, from my best girlfriend The Full Time Wife. This has become one of our favorite recipes, and I quite enjoy cooking it for my darling husband. It has a couple of ingredients you can only get at an Asian grocery store, and it gets pretty stinky while it cooks, but it is so very good when it's prepared.. I don't do cilantro, though, so mine always skips that part. 
  5. This. It's missing a verse, but I love it. I love the Muppets. I love the Muppet Show. I love this song with all my stinky little heart. Sigh. Love. 

Much love, and high hopes for regular posting...

03 July 2012

Happy Independence Day!

To any who may read this:


Have a lovely Independence Day!

We pray for our nation during this holiday, and we thank God for His blessings on us, and ask that God would continue to discipline us and draw us to Him, as a nation, and make us holy. 

Much love and poppy fireworks,