Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday Fix: It's Christmas!

What on earth are you doing reading Friday Fix today? It's Christmas! The only fixin' you should be concered with today are the turkey fixins and whether or not to have a third helping.

Get off the computer and go spend time with your family celebrating Christ, eating, opening presents, eating, gabbing, and eating some more. (Even I'm not on the computer because I set this for automatic post on Wednesday, thank you very much.) Play with your gifts and if you didn't get any that can be played with, elbow your way into the pack of kids and help them play with theirs. Fellowship. Goodwill. Kay?


But be sure to come back next week because New Year's Day is ALL about fixing things for the new year. Right? And in the spirit of giving, I'm taking topic requests! Leave a comment if you'd like me to address anything specific.

Merriest of Christmases to all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fix: Definitely

To spare you a long read during this busy season, I'll keep today's fix brief:

"Definately" is hereby banned, punishable by torture of constant Christmas music from the Chipmunks! Don't spell it that way.

It's definitely spelled d-e-f-i-n-I-t-e-l-y. Kay? Definitely.

(Hey, why did I just suddenly think of Rainman?)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Fix: Use Regardless

I had planned to simply post the following:

Irregardless is not a word, regardless of what you hear. Don't use it.

Short, sweet, and to the point, right? But then I began to worry that "irregardless" has been misused so frequently that maybe it's now considered okay. (You know, like girls calling their friends "wifey"--if enough people do it, everyone thinks it's alright. I know I'm gettin' old, but there's just something not right about that.)

So you know me. I checked. And what I found is that most sources that acknowledge "irregardless" as a word (and there are many that do not) provide a caveat something to the tune of "improper usage" or "use regardless instead." Hooray!

And I also found out why. Wrap your mind around this brilliant reasoning: "Since the prefix ir- means 'not' (as it does with irrespective), and the suffix -less means 'without,' irregardless is a double negative" (Wikipedia). And everyone knows two negatives make a positive, which means that when people say "irregardless" they are actually saying the opposite of what they mean. Tee hee. I LOVE that.

So, irregardless of what you've heard (c'mon, you know I HAD to do that) use "regardless". It's the single negative choice of experts everywhere. (Thumbs up and big cheesy grin.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Fix: Ellipses

One of my friends and writing buddies (Hi Marsh!) suggested today's topic: ellipses. You know, those three little dots that are used to show that you . . . words. Hmm . . .why do I feel like I left something out?

Alas, I am no expert on today's topic. In fact, I suspect that I'm one of those who overuse it as illustrated after the "Hmm" in the above sentence. In addition to using ellipses for their original purpose (to show where words in a quote are omitted), I also use them to indicate pauses and a continuation of thinking, especially in informal writing. A lot.

So I decided to do a little digging and here's where I dug:

And if for whatever reason you choose not to soil your shovel there, I'll just share a few gold nuggets I unearthed:

1. It's acceptable in informal writing to use ellipses to show pausing and a continuation of thought! Woo Hoo! ('Scuse me while I cabbage patch a bit). BUT, (what is it with big BUTS?) don't over-do it. Apparently, it grates on some readers' nerves when ellipses are used excessively. You know, everything in moderation, blah, blah, blah.

2. You're actually supposed to put a space between the dots! I did NOT know that! And I've been doing it wrong all these years. (*Note, if you're a former student of mine, you're either loving that and doing your own cabbage patch dance OR you're considering seeking reimbursement for your education. Ahem...sorry! I mean, Ahem . . . sorry!)

3. If you're writing formally, you should just check the preferred style manual of your boss, teacher, publisher, or whomever is making you write. Know if it's MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, or the current manual de jour.

If you're a hard-core addict like myself, you really might want to go back (seriously!) and check out the article because it contains more interesting points. If not . . . well, be sure to dot your i's and eye your dots! ;-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fix: Adapting to Environment

Effective communicators always note their environment and adapt accordingly. That's why we whisper in church, yell at ballgames, and speak with our "goofy voices" only around those we know love us unconditionally (you know, like when you talk to your baby, your love, or your dog...Duzza wovey dovey wanna nice boney woney?).

So when certain communication behavior violates the accepted context of an environment, all KINDS of interesting things can happen. (Imagine if football players, for example, patted other men on the butt OFF the football field!) People around you become uncomfortable and their desire to communicate dwindles. If folks adapted in consideration of others, we wouldn't hear of such craziness as Toys R Us shutting down TWICE on Black Friday due to people fighting. Adapt, people!

Consider this scenario. It's 5:45 a.m. on Black Friday at the local Walmart. One check-out line has filled two perpendicular aisles and I take my place on the end not realizing that hubby found a much shorter line on the other side of the store.

As I whip out my phone to call and see where he is, the woman in front of me turns my direction, glares infrared to a male a few yards behind me and barks,"Just grab the f'ing thing!" (Expletive modified because, you know, I'm adapting to my environment and all and we don't use that language on here, now do we?)

Mr. Unfortunate did indeed grab the thing and took his place beside his lady in front of me. I stood there feeling a little emptier upon witnessing the whole scene. Along with at least 50 other people within earshot.

SHE, my friends, communicated in a way that did not fit the environment. If she talks to him that way at home and he takes it, I guess that's their business (but will you join me in praying for them?). But to taint the air of everyone else in the vicinity? Well, how many of us do you think wanted to engage in joyful chit-chat with her. Um, that would be none.

Glory be. My hubby picked up my call and rescued me by telling me to meet him at his prime check-out real estate location. And do you know there were ALL KINDS of friendly, environment-adapting people to chit-chat with when I got there?

Courteous environment-adapting folks in the short line, loud curse-word spewing non-environment-adapting folks (or at least one) in the looooong line.

NOT a coincidence, I'm sure! ;-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fix: A Lot

"A lot" is two words.

It's not "alot" ever.

Even though you see it wrong a lot.

'Nuff said. (And herein lies another lesson: Brevity is a virtue.) ;-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fix: Hypen or Dash?

Truth #1: A hyphen separates parts of words. You can even connect words with them to function adjectively. Teddy wants to re-think his career choice. He's in couldn't-care-less mode.

Truth #2: A dash separates parts of sentences, usually for emphasis. Baby, that chili is delicious--I'm talking, the best ever!

Truth #3: You usually have to key in two hyphens to make a dash. Most word processing programs then join them to make one longer line, but on blogger this is a hyphen -, and this is a dash --.

Truth #4: Yes, I'm being totally serious.

It can be kind of confusing for the reader if the wrong one is used-see what I mean? It may bamboozle the reader in a gee--that--doesn't--seem--right sort of way. Mm hmm...

So I hope my in-your-face approach makes sense and that you've come to appreciate the unique distinctions between the humble--yet powerful!--hyphen and dash.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fix: The Power of Parallelism

Today's Friday Fix is not so much a "fix" as it is a suggestion for improved writing. It also works great in verbal communication situations. And "it" is...


Oh yeah, baby, this little gem is used for emphasis, making your audience sit up and take notice. It provides sort of a cadence of familiarity while driving home a point.

So I'm sure you're saying to yourself by now oh, Friday Fix Lady, please share how to use parallelism so that I, too, can emphasize my insights and drive my points home to my readers and listeners.

But of course.

Parallelism is simply using parallel structure. It can occur within a single sentence, among several sentences, or even throughout paragraphs. "We came; we saw; we conquered" is more memorable than "We showed up and saw what was going on and then we kicked some butt." Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech makes beautiful use of parallelism throughout, giving each "I have a dream that one day..." segment progressively more power with each repetition as he builds momentum for new, vivid ideas.

Consider this excerpt from the most recent post on the Olive Branch:

If anger is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us deal with that because we’ll be a lot happier if we’re not honked off all the time.

If being offended is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that because we’ll be a lot happier if our feelings aren’t hurt all the time.

If fear is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that because we’ll have a happier life if we learn to trust God instead of living in a state of worry all the time. (Thanks for your permission to use this, Missy!)

See how each sentence is structured the same way? By the time we read the beginning of the second point, we sense the repeated cadence and tune in a little closer. By the end of the third sentence we feel a sense of completion as all the ideas are unified through parallelism.

Do ya get it? Don't ya love it? Won't ya use it?

A lot of great quotes ranging from historical to pop culture are memorable because of parallelism. I'd love to see you leave a comment of any that come to mind! Let's have a parallelism party; post below! Whoot Whoot!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween '09

Halloween '09 saw some pretty great characters!

Here's poodle skirt girl, otherwise known as Rizzo (cleaned up and innocent of course with nary a cigarette or Kenicki in sight).

And here's Indiana Jones. I know I'm a little biased but I think he could replace Harrison Ford.

And here's miss zombie cheerleader. If you remember last year's post, Mais has a knack for changing her mind at the last minute. And this is what she decided to be at the last minute using stuff we already had at home instead of the vampiress costume she BOUGHT a month and a half ago. Maybe she'll wear it next year? You know, when she plans to be Big Bird.

Indy crackin' his rad whip.

Lex, Mais, and Olivia, our trick-or-treating buddy and famous Wabash Valley's Got Talent top 12 finalist!

Here's my crew heading to the first house of the night. We always hit the neighbor's before heading into town. The kids passed out 100 Jesus Loves You slips with pixie stix. It was a great night!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fix: Literal vs. Figurative

Overheard: "I was so sick! I literally puked out my guts!"

Ew. Hope not.'s definition of literal:
"adjective 1. in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word."

Now, contrast that with the definition figurative:
"adjective 1. of the nature of or involving a figure of speech, esp. a metaphor; metaphorical; not literal: a figurative expression."

Let's have a literal round of applause for! Er, wait. That means we'd be clapping our hands in a circular pattern. You know what I mean!

What the word violator--whose guts are no doubt still firmly intact-- meant was, "I was so sick that I figuratively puked out my guts!" Or "I was so sick that I felt like I was puking out my entire guts!" Or even, "I was like a fly, dizzy from spinning through the air, only to land on a potential morsel on which to expel my innards." Or not.

Okay. So now we see why most people (incorrectly) go with the first option, eh? Even though we speak figuratively all the time, we don't throw that word around like we do the word literally. It just doesn't hit the ear the same way. (Did you catch all that figurative language? Literally, did you?)

So it's okay to say that you were so sick you felt like you puked out your guts, but if you describe the action as literal, don't clean it up yet. I'll be right over to see for myself.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fix: An Everyday Problem?

This Friday Fix is brief but necessary.

Every day should be two words when you mean that something occurs on a daily basis: Please take your vitamins every day.

The one-word version, everyday, is an adjective: I'm going to change from my church clothes into my everyday clothes. Aaahhh, that's better.

('s a bonus tip you won't find in text books. Just a lil summ summ from me to you. If the word "stinkin'" makes sense between the every part and the day part, take the two-word form. As in, I make my bed every stinkin' day. --Shyeah! Like, who does that?)

Quiz time:
Which are correct?
1. We'll have to meet everyday this week to get ready for the event.
2. I'll be glad to get back to my everyday routine.
3. I've told you every day for the past year that your everyday shoes are the brown ones!
4. Leave the good china in the hutch! We'll use the every day dishes.

If you said 2 and 3 you are correct! Muchos kudos!

Don't you wish Friday Fix was an everyday post? Or would it just be another thing to read every stinkin' day? :-) Peace out, Wordlovers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Exiting Moment!


I was just over at Office Max getting office supplies and on a whim thought I'd go into Books A Million to see if they carry the devotionals. Guess what? Not only were they carrying them, but the books were actually facing cover out, side by side, four deep.

I got a little nervous twitter in my tummy. It was a thing of true beauty.

That was so cool. :-)

(They're retailing for $12.99 not including tax--or shipping if you order online. I can get them for you for an even $12 per book if you're interested. Just let me know by Oct. 28)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fix: I or Me?

We had it drilled into our heads so much as students that we revert to it when in doubt: Always place another person before yourself in sentences! For example, “Daisy and I are sick of English lessons.” (At least Daisy and the speaker are grammatically correct in their utterance, so maybe they’re just bored.)

The use of “I” above is correct because it’s part of the subject of the sentence. Just as it’s correct to say “I love hugging trees,” it’s correct to compound the subject and say “Bill and I love hugging trees.” (I'll bet they also love hugging each other out in the trees, but I digress.) That’s why teachers harped and harped on it—to get hillbillies like me to stop saying, “Me and Bill love huggin’ trees.”

Where things get problematic is when the compound is not the subject, but the object. After being hit on the hand with a ruler—or even just kept inside from recess enough times—we decided it was just easier and less painful to automatically spout out “Barthalomew and I” regardless of where it occurs in a sentence. In fact, people do it so often (I remember hearing both presidential candidates do it while campaigning last year!) that it almost doesn’t sound wrong anymore. Almost.

Quiz time. Which is correct?

Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for Shane and I.

Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for Shane and me.

(Think subliminally—Christmas isn’t far off!)

If you chose the second one, you are CORRECT, my friend! The test you can always use until you become comfortable saying it, is to remove the other part of the compound and see how it sounds. I wouldn’t say, “Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for I.” But I would DEFINITELY say, “Be sure to buy Illini sweatshirts for me.”

And that’s a great thought to close this thing out…

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Dear Blog,

I know I've neglected you. Yes, I DO realize that I post something weekly on the Olive Branch and that you're lucky to get one post a month. What can I say? I committed to posting every Friday there--whether I write the devotion or not--since God entrusted me with managing it.

No, you're NOT chopped liver! I guess I just have a harder time being as committed to you because I can write about anything here. The purpose isn't so focused, ya know? And you know my struggle with keeping focused. Maybe I need to define it a little better, you know... work on me.

And yes, I know I've brought someone else into the mix with the whole Examiner thing, but honestly, I've treated it about as badly as I've treated you. No need for jealousy there unless I get my patootie in gear.

Wha...what? Facebook? see, it's like this. Um, you may have a valid point there. It's just so much easier to post a one-liner than to commit to lengthier fodder on you, okay?! Sheesh! And I get to see what my friends are up to. Yes, they are TOO real friends!

Maybe you should just back off and quit being so demanding!

I'm sorry. I didn't mean that.

You're always here whenever I feel like posting and I do appreciate that. You know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to commit to a once a week post here too. Maybe that will even motivate me to to post more frequently than once a week; who knows? But here's what I'll commit to that I should be able to continue, given that words are kind of a hobby of mine: Friday's Fix.

Each Friday I will blog about a way to "fix" a common mistake in writing or communication in general. It might be a word that is often misused, mispronounced, or misspelled. It might center on punctuation (I KNOW--that's TOO exciting!). It might deal with more effective ways to communicate. Regardless, it will be a short little lesson geared towards improvement.

Sound okay, Blog 'o mine? So I'll see you Friday, if not before. ;-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine...Food for Thought

I saw this headline today:

Obama urges Americans to get swine flu shot.

Hmm...I don't like to get "political" but this really bothers me for some reason. He's pusing an agenda for government involved healthcare reform while also pushing for a vaccine that may do more damage than the very illness it's supposed to prevent.

See this link for problems related to the swine flu vaccine and decide for yourself.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top 10 Things About She Speaks, 2009

***This top ten list is really in no particular order as that would require WAY more mental energy than I can churn out right now. All I can say for sure is that number 1 truly is number 1. :-)

10. The introduction of the "Just Hangin' Out" track. Melissa Milbourn executed perfect role modeling for aspiring chillaxer-encouragers.

9. Riding through the rain in a certain someone's (very P31 high profile...think presidential, even) Chick-fil-A-mobile with my homey. Holly GOOD lives up to her name--what a sweet, dear woman.

8. Our front desk man Shawn ensuring our hotel guest needs were not only met, but exceeded expectations.

7. The hotel room! Why, oh why, did we not take pictures. It was SUCH the bomb.

6. Missy's late night concert via computer. I heard some amazing songs from this friend I never knew existed. The prayer meetin' rocked too. ;-)

5. Lunch with Wendy Pope as I watched her become indoctrinated into the "just hangin' out" track. She's now its biggest fan and promoter.

4. Getting to speak with four publishing professionals about my book and series idea! Three of them expressed that there is a definite need for this work. Nobody sugar-coated anything or made pie-in-the-sky promises, but they all left doors open for submission when I get it to that point. (And in this publishing season of NO unsolicited submissions, that is huge.) I was also able to introduce myself to the acquisitions editor at Revell and tell her I have devotions in two of their books coming out this fall. We chatted and she was so excited about the finished products--that was way cool and I really can't wait to see them now!

3. Reconnecting with buddies! There was Lisa Morrone, who blessed me by praying over me right before a meeting with a publisher. I met Lisa at my very first She Speaks in '06 and we've been friends ever since. And there was Sanya who was in my speaker evaluation group two years ago. Sanya, it was truly a blessing having dinner with you. You ministered to me as we broke bread together.

2. Seeing Mary DeMuth every time I turned around and helping her distribute her book Daisy Chain to all the lucky ladies in her session, AND receiving a copy myself! WOO HOO! Utterly stoked about reading it.

And the Number One thing about She Speaks, 2009 is...

1. Being continually amazed by God in about 1001 different ways as He showed me gift after gift. The main sessions were stellar and humbling. The breakout sessions were informative and practical, while tapping into heart matters. Lord, this simple little two word phrase can't being to capture the humongous feeling in my heart, but please accept it as a sacrifice and act of worship: THANK YOU. Thank you. Soooo grateful...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Wish I Had a Devotional Book That...

A book packager is looking for some ideas with regard to theme for a devotional series. The demographic is women, ages 30 to 50 (ish). So if you've ever found yourself saying, "Man! I wish I could find a good devotion book that focuses on _______" now's your chance to say it with the possibility that it could actually materialize!

How would YOU fill in the blank?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Talk at Bella Rosa

Hi All! Some of you were interested in seeing the video from the banquet on Saturday. It runs about 20 minutes, so grab a cup o' joe and put your feet up. :-)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pretty Cool

Exciting news! Below are listings for two devotional books that will be coming out in October. I was blessed to be able to contribute ten devotions to the first one and four devotions to the second one. If you click on the title of each one you'll be able to see what the cover looks like and read a description.

I hear the photography throughout them will be really beautiful. When I was working on this project, writers were asked to provide a description of what they "saw" as a fitting visual for each devotion submitted. It'll be neat to see the finished products! Just wanted to share--I'm pretty stoked! :-)

Coming Soon
Quiet Reflections of Hope
120 Devotions to Start Your Day
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1928-9
Price: $12.99
Format: Hardcover
Publication date: Oct. 09 Division: Revell

Coming Soon
Quiet Reflections of Peace
120 Devotions to End Your Day
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1929-6
Price: $12.99
Format: Hardcover
Publication date: Oct. 09 Division: Revell

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Farewell to the Vine

Bad news! The Vine is no more. (sniff, sniff)

Those of you who've been out to the Lay house in the past year or so have no doubt heard of the vine and have probably even been invited to swing on it. An endless source of entertainment for our kids, the vine was perfectly located. It hung from a high tree on the top of a pretty steep hill in the woods by our house.

When it was first discovered by our three junior explorers, it was rooted in the ground AND secured somewhere at the top of the tree. So they'd make a run and swing out in a wide circle over the drop off and back. Good times!

But the bottom attachment broke pretty early on, which opened up a whole new the kids could grab on, make a run for it, and swing clear out over the little "valley" below where there'd be about a 20 foot drop if they fell before making it back to the top of the hill. Even better times! (Cuz ya know riskier is more fun!)

So yesterday the kids had been begging me to video tape them swinging on the vine. I was finishing up a few things so I told them to go ahead and start playing on it and I'd be there shortly. Videographer Maisie of course took the cam with her and just happened to catch the vine's final swing on film...

(**Video is supposed to go here--apparently this computer is too slow to upload a 30-second video as it keeps timing out! I'll try to get it up somehow!)

You really can't judge the height of the hill from the video, but I PRAISE GOD that the vine broke before Lexi and Skylar had gotten out very far. Though we'll miss the vine, better a broken vine than broken bones, AMEN?!

Monday, March 16, 2009

We Are Marshall

In case you missed it on the news...

Thanks, Marshall Lions! It's been an AWESOME ride! ;-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cue John Mellencamp's "Small Town"

Okay, so I'm sitting here working away at work (seriously) and out of my second floor window I hear squealing brakes followed by a crash. I fly to the window to see a white car stopped in the middle of the intersection. There's some denting on the front passenger side, but nothing major. A man gets out and I see him talking to someone I can't see because the gazebo is obstructing my view. I move to another window and see another car. This one is in worse shape as the whole front hood is buckled up into an "A" shape.

As I was considering who to call or whether I even should (both drivers had cell phones), I watch a police car pull up. (It's not often you see what goes down in an accident unless you're directly involved!) I see an officer--who happens to play bass guitar in a certain praise band--step into the situation and take control of things with a smile on his face.

Seems like a weird train of thought, but that little scene made me think, "Man, I LOVE livin' in this small town." Crazy, huh?

But I love that the officer who was there to help is not only a praise band bass player, but also an elder at church and a coach and role model to many.

I love that his wife will teach my girls next year. And that one of their sons used to go to the same baby-sitter my kids did.

I love that I see my daughter's teacher out running every evening and setting a great example of being fit to all the kids she influences (and their families!)

I love that my son's teacher has been a dear friend for years, that her older son is the same age as my girls, and that we'll be attending the same sporting events until they graduate.

I love that another dear friend is a co-worker who I've looked up to and loved since I first met her. My whole family loves KK and Marty and given the choice to play anyone at UNO, they'd choose Marty first. ;-)

I love that we see our dentist at 4-H functions, our chiropractor at church, and our doctor's nurse at basketball games.

In fact, I love that I can walk from my desk at work and BE at my chiropractor's in less than 120 steps.

I love that our youth minister is also a coach and that our bank teller gives the kids piano lessons. And the list could go on an on.

I guess that's what it means to be part of a community. And I'm so grateful to be a part of this one. (And Officer Sisson? Where in the Sam Hill was your coat?! It's 14 degrees out there!) ;-)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Here ya go, Gretchen! I think I posted one like this awhile back, but it might've been a different one? Anywho...
1.What is your occupation right now? Administrative Assistant to the Chief Judge
2.What color are your socks right now? Blue
3. What are you listening to right now? The clock ticking out the seconds until 4:00!
4. What was the last thing that you ate? string cheese
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes and I kinda miss it!
6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Secrectary at an attorney's office.
7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? YES!
8. How old are you today? 39 (won't be able to say THAT truthfully for much longer!)
9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Illinois Basketball
10.What is your favorite drink? cappuccino (iced when it's hot)
11.Have you ever dyed your hair? Yeah, and I think I'm starting to regret it because of maintenance.
12.Favorite food? My current favorite food is Ichiban sushi, but who knows when I'll have it again! $$
13. last movie you watched? Madagascar at home for family movie night
14.Favorite day of the year? Any holiday that I'm off work!
15.How do you vent anger? Cry
16.What was your favorite toy as a child? Weebles and inchworm
17.What is your favorite season? I'm always ready for each new one.
18.Cherries or Blueberries? Both
19. Do you want your friends to e-mail or blog you back? If they want to
20.Who is the most likely to respond? I think they already have!
21. Who is least likely to respond?
22. Living arrangements? Live with Hubby, three kids, one chocolate lab, one hermit crab, a minnow, and there might even be a few creatures in Maisie's room I'm unaware of.
23. When was the last time you cried? at church
24.What is on the floor of your closet? shoes, a special neck pillow, and a few bags
25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to?
26. What did you do last night? laundry
27.What are you most afraid of? missing the call
28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? Cheese (and some spice doesn't hurt)
29.Favorite dog breed? Labrador retrievers
30. Favorite day of the week? Saturday
31. How many states have you lived in? two (Illinois, Texas--for a summer)
32.Diamonds or pearls? Both?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rick Warren' Inauguration Prayer

I was very happy to read that Rick Warren was chosen by Barack Obama to deliver the inaugural invocation on January 20th. The article focused on what reactions the prayer will have if Warren "offers up the prayer in the name of Jesus." Apparently, Franklin Graham and others who have prayed at past inaugurations have drawn criticism for "invoking Christ."

The article says, "Warren did not answer directly when asked whether he would dedicate his prayer to Jesus. In a statement Tuesday to the Associated Press, Warren would say only that, 'I'm a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray. Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements nor political posturing. They are humble, personal appeals to God.'"

I love his answer because I think it basically assures Christians (have you ever heard him pray?!) that the Lord will be given authority in the prayer. But I think it's interesting and heartbreaking that there are people ready to lash out in negativity if the name of Jesus is mentioned.

I see it like Franklin Graham, who had this to say: "For a Christian, especially for an evangelical pastor, the Bible teaches us that we are to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. How can a minister pray any other way? If you don't want someone to pray in Jesus' name, don't invite an evangelical minister."


Friday, January 9, 2009

Pray for My Friend?

You might remember my Minnesota email friend, Tammy, from my Oct. 7th post. (I tried to put the link here but I guess with no title it doesn't work?) Anyway, this sweet young mom and 3rd grade teacher--who was being checked for something else--was told she has some blood on her brain. She will see a neurosurgeon to get more details, but I can tell you her faith is an inspiration. Please intercede and pray that God will render it all harmless. Thanks, guys.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

You Might Be a Redneck If...

You might be a redneck if... drive a muddy Ford F150 with deer remains in the back to work because the Mercedes is in the shop. (The Benzo is just a cover anyway.)'re belting out country songs with the radio while you and your daughter grind the meat of two deer that have been hanging in your garage for too many days now. (Thank goodness it's been cold!

Seriously. That's how Maisie and I spent this evening. Basketball Coach Dad had a 4:00 and a 6:00 practice with each of the other two kids, so it was up to Mais and me to get the venison in freezer-friendly form. Shane had gotten everything set up for us so our system was practically up and running for us. We just added the elbow grease. :-) Now that's country, y'all!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas '08

Just a few pix from this Christmas season. We really didn't take very many!

Here's Skylar on the night of his chorus concert.

And with Lexi and Maisie after the concert.

A family shot in front of the tree. I liked it better when our tree was in front of the window, but we did something different this year.
Penny the uncooperative reindeer didn't want to look at the camera!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fess Up

I was thinking about this the other day: in our family, nicknames, and even just some words in general, don't remain in their original form. They always evolve. Sometimes into something really stupid. Shane and I will be in goofy moods talking in "Lay"-man's terms (get it?!) and then we'll just be like, "Do you think other people do this or are we the only nuts?"

Today, Missy posted about weird things her family does, so I thought I'd go ahead and share a little more about this strange thing our family does.

Take the name of our dog, Penny. That quickly became Penny-Poo. Which somehow became Penny-pooberly. Which was sometimes shortened to Pooh-bear. Which became Pooh-berry. Then out of the blue came Penelope (which I sometimes pronounce Penny-lope). Shane one day came up with Poobulon. Any combo of the aforementioned could also be used, such as Penny Penny Pooberry. Add a stupid "itsy boo" voice to that along with some serious belly rubbing and you pretty much have the picture! Poor dog answers to about 25 different name combinations.

I won't even get into our names for each other because, well, I'd punch anybody who wasn't blood who called me what I get called in this house. ;-) But you get the picture, right?

So the question is...are we just odd (I prefer to think of it as "fun in a quirky way"--after all, WE enjoy it!) or does anyone else out there do it too? Come on now, fess up.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Oui Wii!

Over Christmas break, the kiddos got used to staying up way too late at night (MAN! Who parents these kids, anyway?!) and sleeping way too late in the morning. So when Sunday night rolled around and the kids faced the first early morning they'd had in weeks, I knew I'd need to play hardball to get them into bed at a decent hour.

Enter Wii...

At 8:00 I said, "Kids, we have a new rule in our house. Whoever does not have their teeth brushed, shower taken, PJ's on, clothes for the next day laid out, and is not in their own bed by 8:30, will not get to play Wii the next day."

They scattered like cockroaches when the light's turned on.

It worked! All three bodies were in their respective beds by the designated time.

And tonight it worked again! I don't know how much I can milk this before the novelty wears off and one of them decides he or she doesn't mind skipping a day. But for now, it sure is good!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Gauntlet

Uh oh. Denn-I done went and threw down the gauntlet. Read his comment on yesterday's post. He didn't just DARE me to post every day this year, he TRIPLE DOG dared me! That's pretty hard to turn down. But it would make it more interesting if a family dinner were on the line. ;-)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Three for Three

It just dawned on me yesterday as I clicked on "publish post" that so far in '09, I had posted every single day! (Sure, it was only Jan. 2, but hey, it starts where it starts!) Having a perfect average so far inspired me to see how far I can take it. I'm not setting the unrealistic goal of posting every day of 2009. That would be setting myself up for failure and maybe guilt and who needs that?

But it did take me back to a thought I keep coming back to time and time again: I need to be more disciplined in my writing. Big time. If you want to become a great basketball player, you practice and at least mess around with the ball and the hoop. A lot. If you want to become a great chef, you experiment and readjust and get creative. A lot. Not every shot will go in for the b-ball player, and not every dish will be a hit for the chef. But the odds of a swisher and a five-star gourmet meal increase with each attempt.

It's the same with writing. So even though most of my posts will fall into the category of "random" and will likely fade into oblivion, some of them may turn into devotions. Or articles. Or who knows? Every great work began with a random thought. And even random thoughts--if God-inspired--are great.

Isaiah 50:10-11, "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon lie down in great torment."

Lord, I really want to develop a discipline for this area you've entrusted to me. I ask for your spirit of diligence and self-control so that I can better ready myself for you to work. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Perfect Gift

My bro turns 47 today. I knew exactly what to get him...

If you knew him you'd agree this is the perfect gift.

Good times. They are a'comin'! ;-)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Lay-style New Year

As the final minutes of 2008 ticked away into history, the four people that I love the most were gathered with me in the family room playing Wii. (Thanks, Santa! We LOVE it!) Though we'd indulged in Ichiban earlier in the day, and were now full of cheesy garlic biscuits, we were still trying to improve our fitness ages and raise our scores to the professional level. Congrats to Lexi who is now a tennis pro!

At 11:59, we began the sixty second countdown. Then...Happy New Year!

We wanted to sleep in the glow of the Christmas lights one last time, all of us together in the living room. (Okay, FOUR of us did.) As we talked about some of our favorite memories from 2008, it was clear our vacation ranked high for everyone. But you know what else did? And this was from the kids..."Really, all the times were great except when someone was hurt or we argued." Amen. Lord, You've been so good to us.

As the first rays of light of a brand new year slipped over the horizon, this is what 2009 found... A dad and a mom who were in their bed (how'd that happen?), three precious kids slumbering in a nest of pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals on the living room floor, and the peace of knowing that God's presence is infinite, awe-spiring, sometimes confusing and uncomfortable, but always trustworthy.

And what's this? One little cherub face had been marked up with lipstick as she slept blissfully unaware.

Yeah, I'd say that's about right in this house!

Thank You, Jesus.

Happy 2009!