Friday, December 10, 2010

Awhile vs. A While

This Friday Fix is dedicated to Nicole, to whom I give thanks for catapulting me from blog-neglect to mixin' it up again on the Fix. At least for this week. :-)

The conundrum? Whether to use "awhile" or "a while." And they really are two different beasts.

The oracle at explains beautifully:

A while is a noun meaning “a length of time”
•“I slept for a while.”
- (compare with “I slept for a bit” and “I slept for three hours”)
“I was away from my desk for a while.”
- (compare with “I was away from my desk for two minutes”)

Awhile is an adverb, meaning “for a time,” or literally, “for a while”.
•“I slept awhile before dinner.”
(compare with “I slept deeply before dinner” and “I slept badly before dinner”.)

As you can see, the words can be used almost interchangeably in some cases – but a while needs to be accompanied by a preposition, such as “for” (“I slept for a while”) or “ago” (“I left work a while ago”). Awhile always means “for a while”.

Dig? So let's practice; which are correct?

A. I had to stop studying awhile because my eyes were crossing.

B. Let's walk for a while and see where we end up.

C. Ugh, that Tobasco sauce had me worried there for awhile.

D. I'd love to spend a while soaking up your awesome presence.

If you chose A & B you are a winner!!! There's no prize, but you are definitely a WINNER! Soak that up for awhile, er. . . a while. :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010


Two new devotionals! I was blessed to be able to contribute to two more devotionals this past year. And they've just recently been released by Zondervan in time for Christmas. Both are one-year books so if you've heard someone say anything like "In 2011, I resolve to begin every morning with God" these books would make great gifts to help that person develop a discipline in the best relationship they'll ever have.

The first, Take My Heart, Oh God builds each daily devotion around nuggets of wisdom from some of the most widely known Christian women scholars, teachers, and encouragers of our time. Passages by Beth Moore, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Joyce Meyer--among many others--are plumbed for deeper reflection and drawing closer to the Lord.

Click here to read more about it or take a peek inside.

The second, Heaven Calling, holds a very special place in my heart. As soon as this assignment came in I felt my spirit quicken because it differed from all the others I've had. The devotions are written from God's perspective--His words to His beloved, spanning the books of the Bible. I knew that to undertake such a privilege and do it justice, I would need to listen especially closely to what the Lord wanted me to write on His behalf. It was one of those seasons of special closeness that I cherish because of the chaos going on in my life at the time.
The Lord knew I'd need that special closeness...
You see, the VERY same day that I submitted my devotionals was the day that my dad fell and sustained brain trauma that took his life four days later. That morning I'd gotten up in the wee, dark hours to meet God and meet my deadline. It was time with God that brought me to tears because I realized that the Holy, Righteous Lord of All uses broken, dirty, imperfect people like me. I felt the power and rejoicing mentioned in Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT). And then that afternoon I got the phone call that God had been preparing me for.

How like Him to implant His words in my heart so firmly that I'd be sustained and tuned into Him during that difficult time. And any time.

Click here to see more of Heaven Calling.

You can also order at the above links, but if you're local I can save you a few bucks. I'll be placing my order by November 29, so let me know if you're interested and I'll order yours along with mine! :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

F.D.O.S. '10

Wait, what's the date again?

Oh. October 1st?

Well, then according to KST (Kathy Standard Time) it's time I post the first day of school pictures. Yes, silly, they ARE 2010--I know! Not bad, right?
Illustrious academics, roaring to get ta tha learnin' and stuff.

Lexi busted out her cute headband for the first day of Jr. High. Skylar, now in 4th grade, was waving the yes-we-read-and-signed-bus-rules sheet he was getting ready to hand to the driver. Maisie was sporting her rad sling and not TOO jazzed to be starting Jr. High with it. And Penny? Well, maybe she heard the bus coming. She never wants to miss the opportunity to escort her friends to the big yellow box that picks them up.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Fix: Cyclists Aren't Necessarily Peddlers

A flower has PETALS.

A person hocking wares (or peddling) PEDDLES.

And a cyclist PEDALS.

Just don't go peddling petals while pedaling or you could end up hurt! ;-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anyone Know Anything About Rabbits?

Okay, it's Friday, but instead of a Fix I want to share a picture of the newest member of the Lay family.

Meet Gracie...

Now, getting a rabbit hadn't even appeared as a blip on the radar screen. We simply went in to Shane's mom's house for a visit and ended up coming home with another pet.

Apparently, a 4-H kid was tired of caring for this little cutie and her family was just going to turn it loose. A kind gal overheard and wouldn't stand for it. So she took the rabbit along with two other ones, vowing to find them good homes. This kind gal happens to be a neighbor of my mother-in-law and thought our kiddos might enjoy a new pet.

She was right.

And how has Penny-Poo adapted?

All signs indicate that if we can keep her from playing "too hard" things should work out just fine!

Now, can anyone tell me anything I should know about rabbit-keeping? For starters, what kind of rabbit is this?

Thanks for any help!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fix: Packaging Your Message

This Friday's Fix centers around the packaging with which you deliver your messages.

You may have noticed the new blog template. It's an attempt to jazz up the ol' blah-g.

But just because the presentation--the package, if you will--has changed, doesn't mean the blog itself has changed. Same writer, same types of posts, same pretty much everything else.

But it needed an updated look, if not for readers, then at least for me. It was like I actually looked at the old colors one day and thought, "Yuck-o! Time for a change." And to me, this new look compliments my goals for what's posted here. It's cheerier, no? And a bit wistful?

So enough about that. What does this have to do with you packaging your messages? Simply this: consider the best, most complimentary method to deliver your message.

Case in point. Kids are playing loudly inside and you're trying to get some work done. Goal: get them to continue playing, but outside.

So you say, "Why don't you guys go outside and play?" Right? I mean, you can't convey your message any clearer than that.

But kids aren't stupid. Imbedded in this particular message is, "You're annoying me and I can't work with you in here." And they get that. Do they take it outside? Sure. But they carry a little extra chip with them when they do. Which is NOT the goal.

So then what about this? "Hey, you guys haven't been in the tree house for a few weeks. Why don't you take your game out there and also double-check to see if any critters have moved in?"

The original goal will be met, because, come ON... what kid isn't gonna rush right out, secretly hoping critters DID move in?! But more importantly, the goal was met without injury. It even provides the listeners with a goal of their own. (Adventure!)

If it helps, think of literal packaging, especially if the message you're sharing is important. Would this person like bright, frilly bows or an organic-looking brown bag with pine cones or stalks of wheat sticking out? In other words, and I've said this before, consider your audience.

We Christians talk a lot about meeting people where they are. Our message never changes. But our methods should never be one-size-fits-all. Jesus reponded differently to different people, according to their needs. Paul followed suit. Let's carry that over into our communication choices for maximum impact.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Fix: Life in Defiance

Okay, this week's Friday Fix is geared toward fixing summer boredom. And you just might get the added bonus of more insight and reflection into your own relationship with Jesus. Following is a book review for a new release--the final installment in a powerful trilogy. Read on for a summertime fix!

Book Review: Life in Defiance by Mary E. DeMuth

Secrets. Ouisie Pepper has her share of them: there's the bottle of alcohol tucked away in a vase, the paintings she hides, the baptism that wasn't, the violence in her home, and the still-at-large killer of her son's best friend that she's reluctant to expose. And Ouisie's greatest longing--freedom.

Mary DeMuth has done it again with her final installment of the Defiance, Texas trilogy.

In Daisy Chain, the first in the series, the disappearance of 13-year-old Daisy Chance torments her best friend, Jed, and haunts her mother, Emory. In the second title of the trilogy, A Slow Burn, Emory comes to terms with her daughter's murder and her own regret at not being a better mother.

The third book, Life in Defiance, finds Ouisie, Jed's mother, battling her own mothering issues, as well as trying to become the perfect wife to tame her pastor-husband's rage. With each humiliating act he inflicts on her, Ouisie questions what she's doing wrong and determines to win his love again. Out of desperation she turns to a spiritual "how to" book on becoming the woman God wants her to be.

Then there's the matter of the murderer still on the loose. Daisy's killer is identified once and for all in a juicy twist that brings a surprising revelation, culmination--and strangely--liberation, for Ouisie Pepper.

DeMuth's ability to create powerful images propels the provocative story into a movie lover's dream. I was pulled so strongly into some scenes that even when life forced me to put the book down, I would carry them in my mind, reliving Ouisie's vivid and sordid reality and feeling empathy for her self-berating. Doesn't every mom feel like she falls short? I found myself relating to her constant thirst for something more.

And found myself rejoicing with her when she finds it.

Life in Defiance was released on May 11, 2010, and is available locally at The Open Door or online. If you're looking to beef up your summer reading list, I highly recommend the entire Defiance, Texas Trilogy. You'll mourn loss, root for love and forgiveness, and discover that secrets can be gloriously freeing when unveiled and given to Christ.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Fix: -ly vs. -ally

1) Incidently or incidentally?

2) Accidently or accidentally?

This Friday Fix is brought to you by my own uncertainty. I have actually avoided using either of these words before because I didn't know the correct spelling and I was too lazy to look them up at the time.

The time has come, my friend.

According to (my fave!), incidentally is the correct form. Interestingly enough, though, both accidently and accidentally are acceptable. Who knew?

Incidentally, the -ally suffix makes perfect sense when you consider that incidental and accidental are adjectives. Slapping on the -ly suffix turns them into adverbs, making the -ally form "most" correct.

Yanno, in case you need a reason. ;-)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fix: Problem Fixed!

You all, the only fix I can think about today is something that was literally fixed that I'm praising God for! So today's fix won't be the typical "improved communication" fare, but rather a sharing of God's goodness.

What was broken, you ask?

Not exactly broken, but definitely damaged. My computer at work!

I was paralyzed yesterday without it! I couldn't even access my printer to do a mailing. No email! No nothing that I take for granted a hundred times a day--all on my virus-ridden computer. Ugh!

And here's the kicker, a glaring piece of irony if I ever saw one: the cause of the virus was my anti-virus program! Double Ugh! (If you care to read more, here's an article about the actual virus.)

Talk about stress. Our computer guy came to get it and work on it, but he wasn't really optimistic. As I'm prone to do, I started imagining worst-case scenarios about what would happen if it couldn't be restored. Panic had hit full-force.

But I prayed to God to allow the issue to be addressed completely. I claimed in Jesus' Name that I'd have it back today running as well as ever with no permanent damage.

And it was. God is so good! So faithful! And if you think He doesn't care about stuff like that I can assure you He not only does, but He uses "the little things" to wake us up.

I needed woken up as far as taking things for granted. My work station. My health. My relationships. My relationship with Him and thinking for even a little while that I was self-sufficient. HA! I can do nothing but for the grace of God.

Even peck away at my computer.

Thank you, Lord, for fixing my computer. Thank you, Lord, for fixing me. Again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fix: Overexposure

Spring has definitely sprung! Not only are leaves and blooms bursting forth, but so are body parts. Everywhere.


You read right and you know you’ve noticed it too. It’s the annual breaking out of all things trampy, I mean, skimpy. . . er, that provide less coverage. Which leads me to the “fix” of this Friday’s Fix.

Modesty. That’s the fix.

But Ms. Friday-Fix-Holier-Than-Thou-Snooty-Pants, I’ve worked darn hard to get this body and by golly I’m gonna show it off! And furthermore, a ‘fix’ implies something is wrong, thus requiring fixing. (DUH!) So just what exactly is the problem to begin with? Humph!

In a word, Distraction. In a lot more words, stumbling block, leading into sin, etc., but we’ll just go with distraction right now, as it applies to any communication, interaction, or generally public situation.

My heart welled up with empathy the other day as I read a comment from a pastor’s wife expressing how hard it was for her to pray with her husband and a woman seeking prayer at the alter, when mere inches away from her face this woman’s bosom was threatening to spill forth in front of God and everyone—including her husband.

The communication situation? Prayer—the purest form of communication there is. The distraction? Um, have you been paying attention AT ALL?

Result of communication? Static-y, at best. Imagine the psychological noise. From the oblivious woman, “Oh Lord, thank you for these people lifting up my petitions before your throne…” From the Pastor: “Oh Lord, shield me from the vision before me. I’ve tried so hard to be an overcomer of the flesh and yet here’s more splayed out before your throne…” From the Pastors’ wife: “Oh Lord, convict her to cover up before I further splay out her flesh before your throne…”

I’m not entirely placing blame—some folks really have no clue they’ve crossed the line of appropriateness. (Wow. Good thing for Friday Fix educatin’ n’ stuff.)

But you know what? Many do and do it anyway. Or do it because it crosses the line of appropriateness. If you want to be respected and taken seriously in your interactions—by men AND women—don’t be one of those.

Before you leave the house, check the mirror. Bend over facing front. Everything stay covered? If not, how ‘bout a nice tank top underneath? Now, bend over with a rear view. Everything stay covered with many inches to spare? If not, change. And boldly file the removed item in the trash or recycled dust cloth box.

But only if you want to be respected and taken seriously. You don’t want your attire (or lack of) to distract people from who you really are or want to be or want to convey. (And really, who ever says, “Man, I aspire to be trampy, I mean skimpy, er. . . less covered!”)

And you SURE don’t want it to be a hindrance for others in their relationships with other people or with God. If you do, then that’s way more of an issue than I can handle here on the Fix.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fix: Voila'!

I saw a friend use the word Voila' recently and gave her kudos for it. More often than not, you see people simply spell it the way it sounds: Wallah. Or something like that. Which is way incorrect.

Nope, it's not "wallah," ma petite. It's French! Break it down for us,

voi·là (vwä-lä')
interj. Used to call attention to or express satisfaction with a thing shown or accomplished: Mix the ingredients, chill, and—voilà!—a light, tasty dessert.

[French : voi, second person sing. imperative of voir, to see (from Old French; see voyeur) + là, there (from Old French la, lai, probably from Latin illāc, by that way : illā, ablative sing. feminine of ille, that; see al-1 in Indo-European roots + -ce, deictic particle).]

Okay, now if you're like most people you probably skipped that whole second paragraph (didn't you?!) so I want to point out the origin because it's kind of interesting. Voi means "to see" and la' means "there."

So when you say Voila'! you're literally saying, in French, "See there!" Kind of like "Ta-DA!"

Yay! So be sure you spell it the fancy French way and pronounce it with the "V" sound at the beginning. You want to be sure to get the full effect, ma cherie. *kees, kees* Ciao!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Fix: 2010

This is no cut and dried Friday Fix because I don't know what the correct way to do it is. In fact, I'm pretty sure either way is fine. But I'm curious; which have you been saying?


Or two thousand ten?

If you're saying Oh ten, though, you're definitely wrong. LOL! ;-)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Fix: Breakin' the Rules

You know how Mariah Carey and Beyonce'--and actually, most singers now--do a lot of vocal gymnastics all up and down the octaves instead of just holding a straight note for very long?

They do it for effect. They do it because they oh-so-long ago were gifted and able to carry a single note clearly for eternity. They were then able to build on and add to that skill, all for variety and effect. They do it because they can and they know how to do it artfully for a certain result. But it all started with mastering the basics.

Now, shift that same principle to writing. Grammar school teachers (actually, even on up into college) drilled us on the basics. Ad nauseum. It's where we heard, "Never begin a sentence with a conjunction" (remember when you tried to start a sentence with "because"? Have mercy!) and where red marks bled all over our fragments.

They were trying to help us master the basics, I guess kind of like I do here on the Friday Fix. Like Mariah and Beyonce' though, once you've mastered the rules they're kind of fun to start breaking--at least in informal writing.

In fact, all over my blog you'll find sentence fragments because I find they convey my personality better (C'mon, you always knew I was a little fragmented, right?). That's how I talk. And I like to spell words the way I want my audience to "hear them". Yanno?

So if you know HOW to break the rules and do it intentionally FOR EFFECT and WITHOUT COMPROMISING CLARITY, well then, you've arrived, Mariah! (And really, that's the rub. If you break rules willy-nilly and your readers have no idea what you're conveying, it's all for naught. You'd have been better off following those doggone rules.)

From time to time here on the Fix, then, I'll focus on rules you can break for effect. Won't that be fun, rebels? ;-)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Friendly Helper

This post is one of those "hey, I'm way proud of my kid" posts, so please indulge me. ;-)

Lexi is a friendly helper at North and as such, was involved in collecting coins last week for the Red Cross in their efforts to help in Haiti.

She spent hours making this announcement poster.

I know! Gorgeous right?! Congratulations on a job well done, Lex!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fix: Comma Splices

See if you can identify what's wrong with this sentence: Larry slammed the refrigerator door, he vowed never to buy Roquefort cheese again.

Okay, other than Larry's deep-seated aversion to Roquefort--which may suggest psychological issues--we've got another problem. Duh duh DUUUUHHHH . . . a comma splice.

See, the problem with a comma splice is that it's used between independent clauses. If they're independent they should be standing alone. As in their own sentence. Or at least joined together by a nice coordinating conjunction. Comma splices can confuse the reader who no doubt innately knows that commas only belong with dependent clauses. (Yep.)

Four ways to "fix" a comma splice:

1) Substitute that sucka for a period and capitalize the next word. Larry slammed the refrigerator door. He vowed never to buy Roquefort cheese again.

2) Substitute that sucka for the under-utilized but highly practical semicolon! (Semicolons join independent clauses! Whoot Whoot!) Larry slammed the refrigerator door; he vowed never to buy Roquefort cheese again.

3) Keep the comma, but add a conjunction to the beginning of the second independent clause. Larry slammed the refrigerator door, and he vowed never to buy Roquefort cheese again.

4) Keep the comma, but make one of the independent clauses dependent (meaning it NEEDS another thought to make it complete--don'tcha just hate when people and clauses are so stinkin' needy?!). Slamming the refrigerator door, Larry vowed he would never buy Roquefort cheese again. OR Larry slammed the refrigerator door, vowing he would never buy Roquefort cheese again.

So see? With so many correct ways to convey the same idea, there's really no good excuse for a comma splice.

AND after typing this Friday Fix, I can now spell "Roquefort" in my sleep! YAY! I love it when there are multiple perks! :-)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fix: Effect vs. Affect

Get ready to be effected, er. . . I mean, affected.


If you find yourself in a quandry, pickle, or other such dilemma about whether to use effect or affect, remember this:

The vast majority of the time use the e when the word is a noun, and a when it's a verb.

There are a few exceptions but let's not clutter things up right now when the above little pearl of wisdom will serve you well about 95% of the time.

1. You have no idea how horseradish and sauerkraut (affect/effect) me.
2. You cannot believe the (affect/effect) horseradish and sauerkraut have on me.

1. affect
2. effect

How'd ya do?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fix: Hodge Podge of "Unwords"

Supposably, there are some words that take on completely different identities, though they're just simular enough that we reckanize them.

See what I mean?

Supposably? That should be supposedly.

Simular? That would be similar.

Reckanize? Um, that should be recognize.

...cracks me UP!

What are some words that you hear mispronounced?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Fix: Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

If you caught my post from Christmas Day, you may remember that I told you to be sure and come back the next week (New Year's Day), tantalizing you with the possibility of a Friday Fix that would start 2010 out with a BANG! (Because, yanno, what's more tantalizing than a Friday Fix?)

Scroll down and check. . . is there a post for January 1st? Um, that would be "no," she typed sheepishly.

I knew in the back of my mind that it would be tough to post during the holidays, but I figured I'd also have a little free time to think and come up with something. Wrong-O.

The result? I'm experiencing loser-like feelings of inadequacy, and any readers--I think there are still one or two of you out there--are wondering wassup. I hate not following through, but I guess not enough to make sure I do at any cost.

So learn from my mistake and if you're not 100% sure you can live up to the promise, don't make it. And I vow to do the same.