Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Party's Over

Well, the New Year's Party hasn't even begun but the Christmas party is definitely over. We women are strange creatures, I'm afraid. We love us some celebrations! And if those celebrations involve all the people we love most in the world then we're pretty much guaranteed to throw ourselves head long into trying to make sure everything is perfect. We get a vision of what the perfect celebration will be like and then set about to making it happen no matter what the emotional, mental or financial cost.

This year's Christmas celebration held a lot of meaning for me. We welcomed a new son-in-law, Jackson, into the family this year. And though he spent Christmas with us last year when he and Jill were engaged, the permanence of his place in our family gave it a little different flavor. I can truly say I now have two favorite son-in-laws and enjoy them both so much. I've waited a long time for "boys" and these two have been worth the wait.

This year's family time was underwritten with the caveat that this would be our last Christmas together with just two generations of Langmades. Sometime early summer we will welcome the first of a new generation to our family as Lori and Ethan have their first baby. That baby - who is yet generic to us - has thrown us all into a frenzy of excitement and anticipation. BTW - an ultrasound next week will reveal pink or blue and I am beside myself to the point of not sleeping. Stay tuned for the announcement!!

Prior to Christmas my wish list would have looked something like this:
  • All eight of us under one roof - healthy and happy
  • Our Colorado girl home safe and sound
  • Lots of laughter and interaction
  • Meaningful church service on Christmas Eve
  • Perfect yummy meals that everyone would oooo and ahhh over
  • PEPPERMINT PIE in abundance
  • All gifts appropriate and appreciated
  • Multiple gatherings with plenty of time to just "hang"
  • Reflection and celebration of where we've been, where we are and where we're headed as a family
  • A constant realization that our God is truly Emmanuel - God With Us
It's with a smile and tear I can say that all of this happened and more. Added bonuses involved two dogs in addition to the eight of us under one roof; a true White Christmas; the newlyweds staying over night on Christmas eve; our youngest spending the whole weekend - well, I could go on and on. All this to say - it was a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS for me. And I'm so grateful to God for his many blessings.

Twas five days after Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. This momma is resting and taking some time, next Christmas will be here before I finish this rhyme :):)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stand By

I wanted to let my blog friends know that my life has been crazy for the past month - hence the absence of much content here. I have a favorite saying that I gleaned from a friend years ago that carries me through a moment when it's crazy or I'm getting my thoughts together on something or trying to remember something important. I simply say "stand by". It's amazing how different folks react to that statement as opposed to "hold on" or "wait a minute". I'm not sure why but their positive feedback has encouraged my using it.

So I'm telling you, my friends. I have not lost interest in writing just brain space - temporarily.

So please "stand by". My plan is to be back on track soon with a couple of posts a week.

Thanks so much!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

Every so often our brains just need a little kick in the pants. I thoughtful diversion from the mindless drone of what runs through our brains in the course of the day. My Bite Size Brain Snacks are meant to do just that. Someday I'll share where the term came from.

A bite size brain snack is a little something to capture your attention and make you think - kind of like the old "thought for the day".

"Prepare and prevent OR repair and repent. " Lou Holtz

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Brain Snack

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Friday, November 19, 2010

Write Your Own Epitaph?

William H Hahn Jr. - I told you I was sick

A friend of mine recently mentioned in passing that she had a health issue that made her and her sister joke about how her obituary should read. What’s next is a couple funny ones I found :

Here lies the body

Of Margaret Bent

She kicked up her heels

And away she went.

Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up
And no place to go.


After a death in our family recently it made me start thinking about obituaries and epitaphs. I know it’s a bit morbid but just go with me here. I read an obituary this week written about someone I knew well. I read it twice. I wondered who wrote it because nothing that was mentioned resembled the person I knew the deceased to be. It’s so often the case that we perceive ourselves much differently than others do. Sometimes we conjure up a much more complimentary or glamorous view of how we believe others see us. At other times, we are sure that others view us as insignificant or worse, invisible in value. Either is an extreme and the truth truly falls somewhere in the middle of those two.



 [ep-i-taf, -tahf]


1.a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument about the person buried at that site.

2.a brief poem or other writing in praise of a deceased person.



So what if we could write our own epitaph?

You gotta think about what would go in the “dash” you see above. Because that dash represents your breathing years.

It represents a lot of activity.

A lot of sleep.

A lot of joy

A lot of struggle

A lot of accomplishment

A lot of failure

A lot of love

A lot of frustration

A lot of time spent doing things you deemed important at least for the moment.

And all of what in the dash basically adds up to the content of your epitaph.

So, my thought for today – for this week – for this lifetime, however long it is….

Is to decide daily what I want the dash to represent. It’s about choices and making them toward something valuable in the long haul.

Oh my! A lot of thinking to do about priorities, adjustments, PEOPLE.

So, we are writing our own epitaph after all. Only the remaining time in the dash in unknown.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Between The Lines

Have you heard the saying, "Just keep it between the lines." It might come in response to asking someone how they are, or they may use it to describe their philosophy of life. Here are some words that could describe how that's lived out -
Many of us find those words to be positive ones. In fact, it's one of the first things they taught us in school - color inside the lines. These words normally fit in my box of Good.

I'm wondering how different our personal worlds would different the whole world would be if we chose to NOT live between the lines. What if we started living outside the lines. I'm not suggesting abandoning all of the above words completely, going crazy and living some sort of lawless existence. But, what if we just pushed out the boundaries a bit and stepped over onto the other side of the lines.

What if we got -
And these are just the ones that start with a vowel :)

Here are some words that describe the realms in which we might practice this:
visualizing...(not in a weird way)

Here's what I'm thinking....
What if we looked at something - a person, an animal, nature, a piece of art and really tried to see it, in detail, in context - noticing it's uniqueness and contemplating it's purpose.

What if we put something in a place it didn't belong, discovering a new use or beauty in placing it there.

What if we set aside some time to think about something that's not on our everyday radar. To think creatively about a challenge we have that needs a solution.

What if we picked up a paper or book that we would never want to read if we were still "between the lines". Maybe it would stir an idea or thought to share or savor.

What if we did something that would cause people to say, "that's so unlike you". All of a sudden you partake of a new experience and feel something about it - "I like it!" or "I wouldn't do that again".

What if we closed our eyes and visualized ourselves or our surroundings in a completely different color. Perhaps the shirt we would normally purchase in black, we decide to purchase in red. Or we buy new throw pillows in some indulgent color that transforms the room and our mood.

What if we outrageously gave some stuff away. Like the kind of stuff that people would say, "What!!?? Why are you doing that?" And you said, "because I'm outside the lines today".

How 'bout it? Dare to live outside the lines for just one day? One week?

I'd love to hear from you on this one...anybody wanna give it a try??

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Former Life

Well, today (last Sunday) something happened that changed me forever. When I say that I'm not sure what you might be thinking. Was there some catastrophe? Some epiphany? Some destiny? that came my way?

No, it was none of those things. It was a small framed picture with a smudgy image in the center of the photo. Yes, it's the moment I've been waiting for that changes absolutely everything.

A BABY!!! I'm no longer just Betsy, Elizabeth, wife, mother, sister, friend.....I am now Granny, Nanny, Mimi or whatever this little peanut decides to name me. Baby Greer is only the size of an olive (I LOVE olives) but has managed to turn my day, my week, my year, my life upsidedown. I'm changed. It's that simple.

WARNING!!!!! I will be bonkers crazy in love with this child and don't plan to contain, manage, or care what anyone thinks about how I act.

Come quickly June 2nd. Really quickly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

Every so often our brains just need a little kick in the pants. I thoughtful diversion from the mindless drone of what runs through our brains in the course of the day. My Bite Size Brain Snacks are meant to do just that. Someday I'll share where the term came from.

A bite size brain snack is a little something to capture your attention and make you think - kind of like the old "thought for the day".

There are three most important things to learn in life - to teach to your children - and to practice.

1. To be kind

2. To be kind

3. To be kind

Life is not as complicated as we've made it to be.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hymn Hum

Are you hungry today for healing and grace??
The hymn below is one of my favorites! The words are so rich and full of encouragement and affirmation about who God is and what He wants to do in your life. If you don't have this on your ipod...get Let it enrich your soul. The version I have is from Phillips, Craig and Dean..beautiful harmonies and orchestration.


Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we hopelessly lost the way

You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we're falling before Your throne

You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Monday, October 18, 2010


I love u-turns. It's the whole idea of options and a complete change of perspective. It's alot about correcting your course when you've headed in a direction you didn't intend. It happened to me today in Chicago. I was flustered and hurried with my mind abuzz with a million details. I missed my turn. The little blue dot on my gps confirmed it. I immediately began to look for a turn around place. Most people look for a left turn onto a side street but I always look first for a place I can just whip around and be headed back in the right direction. People who ride with me tell that's dangerous. So is going farther in the wrong direction. My motto in driving is the same as my motto for life. If you are headed in the wrong direction, as soon as you know it, whip around and get back on the right path. It's not rocket science. It just makes good sense.

Do you find yourself in a place today that you never intended to be? Most people find that they don't even know exactly how it happened. They just kept making choices and then one day they look around and are disappointed with what they see. Sometimes they're really desperate.

My suggestion is a course correction. Use the internal GPS of your spirit and allow it to speak to you. "You are approaching a U-turn. Take the U-turn". If you are a Christ-follower, your GPS is the Holy Spirit. If you are not, the Bible is a "true north" guide to deep peace and satisfaction.

It's always good to do a little internal evaluation. Take stock of the landscape of your life. You can change. Really. People do it every day. Set your heart on courage, draw from the strength God has given you and then move in the direction you want to go. You can do it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Back Of Your Hair

I have a confession to make. I'm quite concerned about the back of my hair. When I get ready each morning I get in a "zone" when it's time to do my hair. Unfortunately, a good hair day can make or break my day. And trust me - I don't have a lot going for me in the raw materials for making that happen. My hair is thin, limp, fragile, color - treated and getting drier with each passing month. As result, I infuse a lot - yes, a lot - of product into trying to guarantee I have a good day.

As a result of that, I have to shampoo every day. My wonderful hairdresser, Julie, keeps trying to convince me to try "second-day" hair. Really? Try to redo the mess I wake up with into something even resembling a good hair day seems ludicrous to me. I don't like the feel or the look of "second day" hair. Even more convincing is when I look at other people with "second day" hair and know it immediately. Okay, now that you are calling me vain and obsessed, let me share what's really on my mind about the back of your hair.

When I'm in the "zone" of my hairstyling routine it MUST involve a mirror where I can see the back of my hair as I make progress. Just blowing it around or using a brush or my fingers does not guarantee that strands will fall into place. They need guidance and direction. They need purposeful strokes to get them to behave in just the right way for just the right result. On a good day, they will land in the place of my choosing.

"Why is the back so important?", you may be thinking. Well, consider this. In most of every day life, the back of your hair is seen as much or more than
the front. While the front is important too, since it frames your face, the back has just as much visibility. Plus, if it looks good, people may not notice what's not so good below your shoulders. :):)

I have a place in the back of my hair that drives me crazy. It doesn't matter what style I have at the moment - and that's a constant moving target - a
flavor of the week, if you will. It's a place on the "crown of my head which is not, well, a crown at all. It's a small cluster of hairs that refuse to be tamed. They are so completely annoying. Every day they require more than 80% of my hair attention. They are dry and unruly. I apply product, brushes, blow dryer and sometimes a straightener. Even with all that effort when the final "fluffing" is taking place - they do their own thing. They split into a perfect part, or frizz up to a fuzz ball, or lay there flat and disobedient. UGH!!! Leaving them to alone is even worse!

So as I was applying my discipline to them the other morning I thought about the "back of my hair" of my character. There is at least one place in my character that refuses to be tamed. You probably have one too. It's that piece of you that refuses to change it's natural bend in favor of a better one. You need it to behave in order to have a "good life day". So you beat it, ignore it, address it, direct it - only on some days to find that it has, once again, taken you down. It has refused to change.

Why is that one character flaw so important? Because people see it just as much or more than the ones up front, the ones that show. It's true that good character qualities like compassion, kindness, loyalty, honesty, you name it, are evident to the people around us. But it's also true that many times we are defined by the one we are lacking. People notice and remember it. We would hope that the good would outweigh the bad in people's perceptions of us and that they wouldn't define us by our worst quality. It's not always true. The "back of our hair" shows just as much as the front. Even though the front frames the "face" people see, the "back" is still there for the noticing. And unfortunately, the closer the relationship, the more evident it is. The people we love the most and most desire acceptance from are often the most aware of our flaw.

As I wrapped up yet another session with the unruly strands, I decided that it's still worth the fight. I can't give up on them for three reasons.
1. Because left to themselves, they are ugly and embarrassing
2. I want more for myself than to ignore what's ugly about them
3. The people around me deserve my best effort to change them

The same three apply to my "back of the hair" character flaw(s). I'll keep my mirror handy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

"You'll never get anywhere you're not headed."

Think about this's true to almost every area of life you can apply it to. Work, relationships, you name it.

Thanks, JJ, for sharing this with me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Transforming Green Beans

Well, a green bean is just that. There are some ways to dress them up, casserole them, pudge them but in the end they're still just - a green bean. Last night, however, I stumbled upon a really good enhancement. Like most of my cooking, it was easy and something I did on a whim.

Yummy Green Beans
Pour a bag of frozen whole green beans (Pictsweet) into a shallow baking dish. Add a few pats of butter on top. Place two beef bouillon cubes on top and a little salt and pepper. If I had had some almonds on hand I would have thrown them in. Cover with foil and bake on 350 for about an hour. They're going to be smooshy not crisp.

It doesn't sound like much but they got rave reviews. I would definitely make them this way again. I'm actually posting this for you so I can remember what I did.

Freestyle cooking - you gotta love it!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hymn Hum

Knowing God's faithfulness will carry you through anything in life. If you don't KNOW it, you can receive that knowing through the pages of the Bible. Start by reading the Psalms and His words will teach you the knowing.

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall into Chilly/Chili

Well, it was in the 50's this morning in Nashville. Fall is in the air. YEAH!! With a record number of 90 plus days this year I don't know anyone who is not ready for some cooler weather. Yesterday I planned to make a crockpot full of chili. The plan was to have it for lunch/dinner during the afternoon and evening of football that I knew would be streaming through our flats screen. A pleasant surprise influx of daughters, son-in-laws and granddog handily polished off the chili, leaving a mere cup container for leftovers. It was wonderful and fun to have everyone in the house and my heart was overflowing.

I had a little moment as I pulled a blank recipe card from the cupboard. My mom had given them to me umpteen years ago and somehow there are still blank ones floating around my recipe box. My mom is gone now and I miss her. I handed the card to Jill, who wanted my Chili recipe, letting her know that she was getting a bonus in having the card that came from her Grandma.
and the recipe that is mine. She smiled.

So here it is....enjoy.
Betsy's Chili - A big crockpot full!!

2 lbs. ground beef, browned with onion to taste
2 large cans tomato sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can each, undrained; kidney beans, black beans, great northern beans
2 packets Chili Seasoning mix
Hot sauce to taste or omit if you're a wimp

The secret is to cook on high for several hours, stirring to keep it from sticking to bottom, then reduce to low/warm and cook UNCOVERED to let it thicken and the flavors meld together.
Simple and delicious!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scripture Chirp

What is a Scripture chirp? It's a little capsule of truth from the Bible - simplified but true. Please take the time to read in entirety. It will bless you. Especially if you KNOW you are His.

Psalms 121
The LORD is your help and your Protector who is always present for you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

Yeah, I just saw the movie, spent 2:15 hours soaking up some pretty empty philosophy on God, relationships and meaning of life. The company was sweet - thanks to Lori - the movie was free - thanks to NCG theatre - the experience was limp - thanks to the writers ( I don't know or care who they are).

No, I didn't read the book and don't tell me "Oh, the book is so much better". I won't read it. I got enough of the core meaning in the movie and didn't "buy" it. No time for that - literally and figuratively.

I'm sticking to the Truth. I know it. I believe it. It lives with me and guides me true north.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Word About Vampires

People in the know about blogs say that occasionally you should create a bit of tension through your content. Apparently it's good to stir up the pot from time to time. So here goes.

Let me start out by saying that this is not meant to be judgmental in any way. You're going to have to trust me on that because what I am about to say may feel like I'm stepping on some toes.

But I think we will agree on the fact that we're all entitled to our opinions. So, since this is my blog, I want to express mine here. Thanks for hanging with me with an open mind.

Vampires are all the rage - bestselling books and blockbuster movies abound. Apparel and other branded crap are readily available. Girls from pre-teen to menopause are putting down the bucks to ride the wave of vampire admiration. I hear about it just about every day.

I have two things I want to say about all that. First, it seems to me that there is plenty of evil in this world. I've seen it first hand, even recently. So my logic tells me that since there is so much of it that I can't control being put in front of me, I should at least use the brains and discernment God gave me to steer clear of it when I have the choice.

It's simple to me - vampires represent an evil, dark side of the human realm of thinking. Are they real? Isn't this all just fiction? Is it, really??!! Whether it is or isn't, I know based on the Bible that there is a very really enemy whose purpose is set on evil. He is alive and well in our world whether we choose to believe in it or not. That said, the next point is what rings true in my spirit as I consider the whole vampire mania.

It's important to know that "blood" is serious business to God. In His economy it is life-giving in both the physical and spiritual sense. It is of such premium value to Him that He required His precious Son's own blood to purchase our relationship with Him. What sacrifice! He exists to give LIFE in every way you might think about it. Our next breath, tomorrow sunrise, the balance of nature rely on His life-giving nature.

The vampire craze reduces blood to something that snuffs out life and leaves the victim lifeless - physically and spiritually. It takes away life. It kills. That is it's purpose.

I ask myself what positive influence could come from this life-killing story line. Does it honor the God of Life in any way. More importantly, does it cause the average reader to discount or diminish the value of LIFE? This series is a not so subtle scheme of the enemy to wrap his warped lies in a psuedo-love story. I wonder how many $$ they have captured from the innocent minds they have poisoned? It's staggering.

We live in turbulent times, physically and spiritually. We would do well to listen and walk carefully when it comes to opening our minds to darkness.

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Italian Hoop-de-doo Recipe

The reasons are endless but just look at them. There wild and wonderful and

One of the great things about daughters is all the things you can share. From closets to secrets to health and beauty ideas. And certainly recipes!

Here's one I made for my Monday night Bible study group this week. I got it from Julie (far right) who lives in Colorado. A good recipe exchange is only a phone call or email away between the two of us.

Not only did it smell fabulous and look beautiful - it tasted GREAT!! The best part is I made it the night before and then put it in the oven from the fridge. So easy!!

Here's what you need:
2 cans petite diced tomatoes (you can use the flavored kind if you want)
1 bag of chopped frozen spinach in the bag not the box
1 bag of frozen ravioli - meat or cheese; colored or not
2 cups of fresh grated parmesan cheese (grate your own or buy the tub, DON'T use the canned kind)
Fresh or dried basil, S&P, fresh or jar minced garlic, oregano

Here's what you do:
Pour first can of tomatoes in the bottom of a cake pan. Add garlic. Sprinkle chopped spinach over that. Salt and pepper generously. Lay the ravioli over that. Take 1/2 the parm cheese that you have mixed with basil and oregano. Spread it on top of the frozen ravioli. Then just repeat the layers. Tomatoes/garlic/s&p/spinach/ravioli/cheese. Put some diced fresh tomatoes on top if you have some. Drizzle a lot of olive oil over the whole thing. Either bake immediately or refrigerate and then bake.

We served it with a nice soft loaf of French bread and dipping oil.

There was not a spec left. Delicious and I'm thinking pretty healthy too!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hymn Hum

  1. Thinking this week about all the ways we try to gain God's approval and a relationship with him. Going to church, giving $$, praying a certain prayer, being "good", serving - while all these should flow out of our relationship with God - not one or all of them can establish it.
  2. These deep lyrics remind us that there is only one way to a relationship with God. I hope you can hear the melody as you read them.

  3. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee;
    Let the water and the blood,
    From Thy wounded side which flowed,
    Be of sin the double cure,
    Save from wrath and make me pure.
  4. Not the labor of my hands
    Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
    Could my zeal no respite know,
    Could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone;
    Thou must save, and Thou alone.
  5. Nothing in my hand I bring,
    Simply to Thy cross I cling;
    Naked, come to Thee for dress;
    Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
    Foul, I to the fountain fly;
    Wash me, Savior, or I die.
  6. While I draw this fleeting breath,
    When my eyes shall close in death,
    When I rise to worlds unknown,
    And behold Thee on Thy throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Change is a'comin'

Change - what a word. How does it strike you? What visceral response do you have to just seeing the word. Some women I've met break out in hives at just the thought of it. Others squirm in their chairs. Still others are grabbing for their seat belts in readiness for the adventure.

"One thing that will never change is that things will always change." There's a bite size brain snack for you. (ck out others on my blog) Everything in this life is subject to change on a moments notice.

My daughter, Lori, not only likes change but invites it. She not only invites it, she's an agent of it. She's a bright young woman with a quick mind that will always find a way to be occupied. When she sees something, it comes naturally for her to view it not as it is but how it should or could be. Now this attribute can have a few downsides but we're not talking about those.
The great outcome of this attitude is that her world is alway in motion. Things are ever changing and becoming something different and better than what they used to be.

If a room is in neutral, Lori sees it in color. If a relationship is stagnant, she infuses energy into it. If an activity is boring, she conjures up fun. I just love that about her. People like Lori are the folks in your life that you gravitate to when your looking for ideas, for out of the box thinking and just plain good times.

Whether you welcome change or detest it - it's coming. Here are some things you may be able to do to "deal".

1) BE OPEN - take the lid off the box you live in
2) SEE NEW OPPORTUNITIES - stick your head out of the box and take a peek
3) MAKE A DECISION TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT - put one leg up over the side of the box
5) ONCE YOU'VE DONE, DECIDE WHETHER YOU LIKED IT OR NOT - pick up the lid to your box
6) IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, TRY SOMETHING ELSE - put the old lid on the old box with super glue

See, that wasn't hard. Your now LIVING outside your boring box. Enjoy!!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cooking Surprise

I'm making it my motto to think differently in the kitchen. I'm so bored with the same old meals, made the same old way. Even the simple meals can use a little refreshing. Tonight I decided to make quesadillas. A good idea came to me as I perused what was available in my kitchen. Here's the outcome.

Brown 1 pound of ground beef on med.high heat. While its cooking sprinkle a packet of taco mix over the meat. Add frozen pepper/onion mix to taste. Add a tablespoon or two of salsa as it cooks. Let it cook on med. high until pink is gone from the meat. It will be "saucy".

Get out your Pizza Pizazz. If you don't have this counter top appliance, go to Wal Mart and buy one. It's about $50 but worth every penny. You'll use it over and over for everything from pizza to tuna melts to heating leftovers that need to be crispy. Maybe put it on your Christmas list. I've given all my girls one from year to year.

Spray oil on the first tortilla and place it oil side down on the pizazz. Spread the tortilla with a small amount of sour cream. Then layer grated cheese, seasoned meat, cheese and the second tortilla. Spray the top of the tortilla so it will get crispy. The great thing about the pizazz is that it cooks from the top and bottom at the same time.

When the quesadilla is browned and crisp, slide it onto a plate with a spatula. Let sit for a minute or so and then cut with a pizza cutter. Serve with salsa and sour cream. DELICIOUSO!!!

Add frozen chopped onion, frozen onion/pepper mix,taco seasoning and salsa to your list of things to keep stocked in your kitchen.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Ministry of Availability

My best friend Kaye is a master at "the ministry of availability". She "positions" herself in all kinds of settings to just be available - for listening, for fun, for reaching out....whatever the situation calls for.

I recently had the opportunity to observe her in action. Kaye stood alone outside a room filled with hundreds of women who were standing and singing. In a matter of seconds the lady in the blue joined her and just stood beside her. Kaye smiled at her and after a few seconds of silence the woman glanced at Kaye and said something. Leaning against the doorway they had an intermittent conversation that involved compassionate eyes, whispers and a few tears. They both stood there with a comfort as if they were long time friends.

I stood there and marveled at Kaye’s heart. I snapped these pics on my phone as I watched her look at, listen, lean in and love this complete stranger. When the encounter was over, I knew from watching first hand that this woman felt that she had been seen, heard and understood. What an incredible gift Kaye had given her.

Since then I’ve begun to process what I saw and take note of how I might incorporate even a smidgeon (is that a real word, and if so, how do you spell it?) of "the ministry of availability" in my life.

I am always busy. I've had times in my life where circumstances demanded a fiercer level of busyness but I've never had a season where I would have said I was not busy.

Where does all this busyness come from? That's a good question. Finding an answer could be key to finding freedom in this area of our lives.

If we tell the truth we would have to say that some busyness is pressed on us by others needs, some of it is demanded in order to live life and some of it is just plain self-inflicted. There are always enough things to say yes to. And many times our culture continues to scream at us about the necessity of all kinds of activities from exercising to shopping.

Where does the madness stop? Unless we consciously make a new choice it probably won't. We will remain intoxicated on the drug of busyness.

That's the first thing I’ve learned by watching Kaye. She never seems in a hurry. It's not because she doesn't have things to do. She's got a lot of things to do. It seems she just makes deliberate choices. It's relaxing to be around people who don't seem hurried. Well, to be honest it drives me a little crazy on an average day. I keep the pace of a clipper and slow people get run over in my path. But once I ratchet it back a bit - it's kind of refreshing. And even rejuvenating.

To be honest, I'm learning it's possible to be very, very busy but not necessarily appear to be in hurry. It's an art. It can be done. It creates an environment around you that is inviting to people. It makes you appear available – the first step to being truly available.

Here are some other things I've thought about in my quest to choose to be available to people. I have to translate ideas into practical or they seem pretty useless. Let me suggest them to you.

First, evaluate your current level of busyness. For you, is it normal, excessive, manageable, out of control? You have to decide what's doable and appropriate for this season of your life. You have to decide what stays and what goes. Sometimes some hard decisions have big pay offs.

Second, learn to build in margin by the day. Not the year, not the month - but by the day. You have your schedule and to do list but consider ahead of time that it is highly likely something will have to go in order to be available. Start each day with a mental asterisk by the activity(s) that could wait if it had to. Guard against over-scheduling by being realistic and reasonable about what can be accomplished in a day's time. Most of us overshoot both of those things.

Third, be okay with a revolving to do list. Most of you are probably way past this but it's worth a strong reminder to keep your sanity. You have two options. Be grateful you have a to-do list and the physical and mental capabilities to manage it. Or, let it eat you alive by constantly being frustrated at the size, content, or endlessness of it.

Fourth, learn to give what you want. You have heard before that, as humans, we almost always give to others what we want or need from people. We all have a need to feel that we are valued and we most often feel that supremely when someone gives us their time. It's a precious commodity - limited and scarce. Be available to give time when you don't have it, want to, or feel like it. It's important.

Lastly, let your motto be PEOPLE before projects. If you are a type A individual, like me, this is going to require your constant attention. Like a car that leaks oil or it will blow up – let this point be your leaking oil. Check it regularly. I’m learning to.

Okay, so here’s a little reality check for all of us. We all have demands on our lives. Families, work, ministry, friends, health, personal needs – we could go on and on.

As women, some of us in leadership, we don’t have the luxury of being too busy for people. We can endure it or we can turn it into an art. My choice is the latter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

"We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turn back soonest is the most progressive man."
CS Lewis


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Your Cooking Will Love You Back

Here's my list of staple items to always have on hand if you want explore free style cooking. I'm going to skip normal things like Ketchup. Mustard etc. You can get all of the following items at the grocery store.

WARNING: They are not all healthy but they are all tasty. You can apply your own good choices to how to use them.

Balsamic Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
Olive oil
Sesame oil
Minced Garlic (in the jar)
Cocktail sauce
Chili Sauce
Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce (Publix)
Cooking Wines - White, Marsala, Sherry etc.
Worcestershire Sauce
Lemon Juice
Lime Juice
Taco Season Packets
Meat Marinade Packets
Brown Gravy Mix
Parmesan Cheese
Sunflower Seed nuts
Parsley Flakes
Slivered or slices almonds
Mr. Pepper (Publix)
Montreal Steak - use it on chicken too and lots more
Lemon Pepper
Old Bay Seasoning
Garlic powder/salt
Chicken and beef bouillon
Cream of Chicken soup
Cream of Mushroom Soup

You've probably already thought of this tip - Sauté onions in a couple tbs. of butter on Med heat. As they are cooking, sprinkle some season salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce in as they cook. They'll get a tasty glaze on them. Put them over the top of chicken or beef.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Faces, New Friends

Well, this week has been a definite turning point for me. I just had the great privilege of spending 3 days with some amazing women. Some of them I work with every day. But I saw them fresh as they led and served and used every ounce of their hearts to welcome 25+ women to our extended team for 2011.

We laughed, trained, ate, cried, played silly games, ate, laughed, cried, dodged raindrops, heat and humidity(really bad hair day
for me), ate, shared, laughed, get the picture. It was a crash course in doing life together.

These women will pour countless hours of effort and heart investment into planning, preparing, and praying for a ministry that I dearly love. They will each walk along side us for an event that will come to their city. What do they receive in return? Well, I wish it could be a million dollars or more! But I'm not sure that would surpass what I am praying that it will be. It will be HUGE in God's economy.

Why was it a turning point for me? Because in the environment we work in - these women, all of them, change my life forever. Their stories, their hearts, their words of instruction, inspiration and encouragement. They are somethin' else!!

Being the closet introvert I am - I am wiped out on this Saturday morning. But I couldn't be more full and joyful as I replay every precious moment of the last few days and hope they know they are LOVED and APPRECIATED!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hymn Hum

I pray this blesses you today.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.
Thou my soul's shelter, Thou my high tower.
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bite Size Brain Snack

One of my favorites

"You only truly believe that which activates you."

I'm interested in your thoughts on this. Agree? Why or why not?
To what beliefs do you think it applies? And why?
What is a specific belief that has activated you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wellness Turning Point

In my initial post (see Turning Point - A Life Renovation) I mentioned that I have been on a journey this summer to figure out what wellness looks like for me in my 50's. Unlike some of my friends who are concerned about hiding their age from people - I'm actually happy to report that I just turned 54 last month. It's okay if I look like I'm 54. The wrinkles I've gained have been earned.

A dear friend asked me once if I would ever have cosmetic surgery for wrinkles. I said, "no, I don't think so.". Then she asked, "is there a reason for that?". Without really thinking I mused, "I think wrinkles are meant to be God's reminder to us that we aren't created to live here forever." I still believe that.

Thanks to my fantastic wellness coach, Janis, I have discovered and rediscoverd several things about myself in the few weeks I've been working with her by Skype.

1. I like food.
2. I dislike diets.
3. I'm not crazy about organized exercise.
4. I prefer to exercise alone.
5. The only exception to that is Zumba.
6. I don't have any hobbies.
7. I'm exploring some hobbies.
8. I don't know what I think is fun these days.
9. I'd like to have more fun.
10. The pool is my happy place.

That's just a few. There are so many more. And Janis, my coach, has not told me any of this. She has, on the other hand, provoked me to think about it.

Coaching is about provoking and not about being perscriptive. Thoughts that are provoked on any given aspect of wellness seem to allow you to look at all your options, assess their value and then decide for yourself which ones you want to embrace.

I've learned alot about parenting adult children in this coaching process. The above principle applies well. It seems more beneficial to choose to provoke some thoughts in someone than to tell them what they should or shouldn't do.

What I love about what Janis has been doing with me is that she has given me my own tools, put them in my hands, and encouraged me to make my own decisions about when and how to use them. That's a huge gift because it changed my thinking about so many things.

It definitely has gotten me off the miserable, self-inflicted guilt trip I was on. So much wasted energy and brain space indulging in defeating thoughts of not being who I wanted to be physically, relationally, spiritually or emotionally. It felt like I was on a hamster wheel I would never get off of. Watch your self-talk - it reveals alot about your outlook.

But now I see that I have the freedom to think through my choices in each of those areas, make turning point decisions, plot a course for change and then be patient with myself along the way.
After all, 54 years is a long time to have thought the same way. Making a U-Turn is going to take time.

I've got the time and so much more mental energy and brain space. Thank you, Janis. And thank you, God, for putting us together for this season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Favorite Snack Bites Back

Cheez-its are my favorite snack of all time. It started years ago when my older brother used to bring them home, along with some Pepsi. Since they had been bought with his own money, and my parents couldn't afford to keep such extravagant snacks on hand, they became a highly prized treat to me. Every so often he would be generous enough to share them with me. If I was being an annoying little sister (hardly ever!), he would withhold the prize.

Snack Promised Prizes - Disappoints in a Big Way!!
On a recent road trip my daughter was kind enough to pick up my favorite snack for the car ride. I held off for as long as I could since these little wonders are not on the approved list of my current food plan. Finally, I gave in and grabbed the box. I couldn't wait to open it just for the sheer pleasure of the their taste. Then, right before my eyes, I saw that my beloved little Cheez-its promised me a PRIZE!! Oh my! It was just about more fun than I could stand. All I had to do was look inside to see what kind of wonderful prize awaited me.

I flipped open the first half of the box top....and then the second....and there it was. As fast as my hopes were launched skyward they were dashed to the ground. " are not a winner", it said.

Really? Seriously? Did you not understand, little snack, what you have meant to me all these years? Part of me said to just give up on the little bite size joy-stealers but then I read the line below...."please try again - you could win a prize". Well, okay then. I'll just have to live with being a winner on another day. I can do that.

It must be good for us to wait for a "win" - for the "prize". Anticipation is a wonderful feeling. It's like waiting for Christmas and planning in the waiting time for the whole big experience. It's also like waiting for Heaven. Anticipating and preparing for the whole big experience of a lifetime. God gives us some great direction in His Word for that. Just open it and read it. Philippians 3:14.

Some fun Cheez-it facts for you-

Cheez-It is an American snack food cracker manufactured by the Kellogg Company. They are roughly 26 by 24 mm (1.0 by 0.95 inch) square-shaped crackers made with wheat flour, vegetable oil, sharp yellow cheese, salt, and spices. There are a variety of related Cheez-It products, including white Cheddar, Parmesan, garlic, Cheddar jack, Pepper Jack, Italian Four Cheese, reduced fat, Snack Mix (formerly called Party Mix), Snack Mix Double Cheese, Hot & Spicy (made with Tabasco), Cheez-It Duoz Sharp Cheddar & Parmesan and Duoz Smoked Cheddar & Monterey Jack, and lastly the Cheez-It Big which is a larger cracker more suitable for garnishing or dipping.[1] They are similar to Kraft Cheese Nips.

A Cheez-It cracker, shown near actual size on a 100 ppi monitor

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office trademark records, the first "Cheez-It" Cheese Crackers were sold by Green & Green Company of Dayton, Ohio in May 1921. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, The Green & Green Company was acquired by The Sunshine Biscuit Company, founded in 1902 as the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company. The Keebler Company acquired Sunshine in 1996, and Keebler was in turn acquired by Kellogg in 2001. Cheez-It crackers are still sold under the Sunshine label.[2]

A former advertising slogan was "Get your own box" which was found on the backs of most boxes. One side also contained the so-called "Anatomy of a Cheez-It." In mid 2007, the boxes were changed to show a picture of a large wedge of cheese labeled "Actual Taste," while a Cheez-It is shown propping it up, labeled "Actual Size." The new slogan in place of "Get Your Own Box" is "The Big Cheese", with Jim Cummings as the spokesperson of the television commercials for it.[3] (This source is from a user review)




File:DSCF3525 cheezit macro sm.jpg