Monday, January 26, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Monday, January 26, 2009...

Outside my window...dreary while cold drops of water slowly fall from the edge of the roof.

I am thinking...that I will really try to make this daybook brief. (If I fail, I'll just scroll up to this one and think of something else :)

I am thankful husband. He rocks.

From the learning rooms...Good, steady start to this week's lessons. The boys are finishing up "Incredible Journey" and "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy" while beginning "Rascal" and the biography of William Carey.

From the kitchen...A gallon of Gatorade and lots of leftover nacho cheese from yesterday's party. Nacho cheese sauce is like vanilla ice cream: there are few things that could not be slightly improved by its topping.

I am wearing...My pajamas. I don't have to go anywhere until 5:45. Don't rush me with the whole "get dressed" thing.

I am creating...a "mini-musical" slash praise concert for MP3 at the first of March. All other creative juices are steadily replenishing until next Monday when we're scheduled for a sonogram. If gender is clearly indicated, then creativity will be splashed into every bedroom we have! Yee haw!

I am take Ardyn to basketball practice. No one will really see me then, either, so I could roll with the PJ look ALL day long! Who am I kidding? I'm putting jeans on in case I have a wreck. You know that.

I am reading..."Can We Talk?" by Priscilla Shirer, my Holman Bible in a Year, and Jeanne Damoff's "Parting the Waters" - complete review/response coming soon.

I am THOROUGHLY enjoy my time away with Philip this coming weekend. We are SO excited about the great escape...and SO thankful for JW and the John/Jessica who will make it possible for us to leave 5 kiddos for 3 days.

I am hearing...Ardyn reading to Ash & Mari. The boys are silently devouring a late lunch since it took them a little longer to finish their math corrections. The bulb in my ceiling fan is rattling slightly and my cell phone is beeping intermittently from my purse on the ground.

Around the house...Some laundry, some lessons, some naps, and a blog. What more do we need?

One of my favorite toile fabric. Random, but true.

A few plans for the rest of the week...CWT? Bible Study on Wednesday morning, and we leave on Thursday!!! Woo-double-hoo! (You could ask JW, I've heard he's got a few things goin' this week:)

Here is picture thought I am sharing...My younger brothers and I are slightly addicted to creating personalized de-motivator posters on Tim made this one for me. Though vague political parallels could be formulated, it is basically a jab at my conflict management strategies. When there were crises growing up (i.e. someone puking or something breaking) I would involuntarily begin convincing myself and others of our ultimate well-being by verbally processing... "Everyone is fine. Nothing happened. We're good. etc." So now, decades later, there is a rotten, little poster created in my (dis)honor.

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Flashback Friday Foto

Happy 13th Birthday, Landen Paul!

This photo was taken a little over 11 years ago. I was pregnant with Luke and we were vacationing in Missouri. I remember we took him to Bass Pro Shop that trip and he looked up and screamed, "Momma! Look at all deez Hooge Fee-yush!" I think he wore brown suede hiking boots and this baseball hat the entirety of his next three years on earth. He was THE cutest little man cub I knew.

So, I'm typing this post late Thursday night. Thirteen years ago at this very hour, Philip was hanging up the phone with our friend, Bruce, saying, "Dude, I gotta go. I think Cari's fixin' to have the baby." We drove to the hospital and, by 9:10am, Landen had brightened our world forever.

When he was just a day old, I was sitting up in the hospital chair holding him. Philip had walked down the hall. The nurses were gone. The visitors had left. It was just he and I. He was crying and I couldn't really get him to stop. I felt so unprepared to parent this precious [slightly squealy] baby.

His crying continued as mine began. I was awestruck at this life that God had created, overwhelmed by my newly felt responsibility, and greatly saddened by my obvious ineffectiveness. I knew I would never be able to meet my child's needs without the Lord's help.

All I knew to do was praise Him and wait for His help. I tearfully whispered a song as I rocked and swayed with Landen. It was the song I had sung for months as I rubbed my swelling belly - praying for the life within. In broken phrases, my emotional voice uttered the fruit of my overwhelmed heart..."You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words. Too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen of heard. Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of Your love?"

Our hearts and cries were lovingly quieted in one harmonious moment. Landen rested peacefully in my arms as I felt the loving arms of our Heavenly Father draw us both a little closer to Himself.

Today, I was resting on the couch after lunch. Landen came over, sat beside me, and took my hand. He smiled. With his other hand, he reached across his chest and began to rub his bicep through his shirt...just a habitual gesture when he's "talkin' grown". He soothingly said, "Mom, I know how much you've thought about this, but tomorrow IS happening. I AM going to be a teenager."

He offered a confident nod and a thin, straight smile - as if to say, "There, I said it." Then he was off to do "last day to be a kid" things.

Dear Father, thank You for holding me so close. I cannot parent in my own strength. You've seen me try. It's pitifully wretched. Thank You for Your promise to finish the good work You've begun in our family. Thank You for Your patience and for Your Presence. I feel it. I need it. I love it. Thank You for LP.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CWT? Week 1 recap

"The praises of God cannot fit in a mouth that is already filled with other things."

"Wisdom is having something to say...and not saying it."

Ephesians 5:33 "Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must SEE TO IT that she respects her husband."

I realize that I should respect Philip. And I do. But I've never thought of my responsibility to "see to it" that he is respected. That sounds way more deliberate and purposeful than my present course of action (or inaction).

Job 16:2-5 (Job's plea to his friends during his darkest hour)
"I have heard many things like these.
You are all miserable comforters.
Is there no end to your empty words?
What provokes you that you continue testifying?
If you were in my place I could also talk like you.
I could string words together against you and shake my head at you, but I wouldn't. I would encourage you with my mouth, and the consolation from my lips would bring relief."

Paraphrase: "Could I pay you fellas to shut off?? You stink at this!"

Life lesson: Even if a case CAN be made, doesn't mean it SHOULD be made. (ouch)

Hebrews 13:15-16 "Through Him [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

Paraphrase: Christ Jesus gave His life as the perfect sacrifice, His offering makes it possible for us to LIVE as sacrifices who CONTINUALLY offer praise with words.

Something to think about: Words are meant to be shared.

From CWT page 29 by Priscilla Shirer...

In what specific ways have you been challenged to yield your tongue to the Lord's control?

What steps can you take immediately to obey?

What has been the most meaningful day of conversation have you had this week?

What verse has stirred the deepest conversation?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Monday, January 19, 2009...

Outside my window...breezy and bright. All the dogs in our neighborhood are laying on their sides in the bright, warm sunshine. I'm not exaggerating. They're sunbathing in every yard. Looks like a plague.

I am thinking...that my kids are awesome. They have their issues and idiosyncrasies, but I would choose them again if I could.

I am thankful for...Godly friends who journey along with me. Friends who speak the truth in love. Sisters who help in times of need. Pals who laugh at & with me. Gals who will study scripture and spur me onward.

From the learning rooms...Johnson Academy observed Martin Luther King Day today. It wasn't on the calendar, but when so many of our publicly educated friends are on holiday, it's difficult to focus. It's also difficult to turn down invitations for a bit of social fun.

From the kitchen...CLEAN! So clean, that I couldn't bear to serve lunch. Dollar burgers on the patio. Pitiful. But my kitchen is rounding out five straight hours of total cleanliness! This too shall pass. Over the weekend, I made a new recipe for Chicken Enchiladas. Flour tortillas, cream cheese, green chilies, green enchilada sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Tortellini soup for tonight.

I am wearing...Navy pants & a SWEPCO tee shirt. shhhh, don't tell Philip. He strongly dislikes my borrowing from his side of the closet. Even when I tilt my cute little head to the side and smile sweetly, and whine:"It makes me feel close to you..." His response: Strong dislike. (oh well)

I am creating...ok, this is the several-th week in a row I have nothing to put on this one. I'm usually characterized by creativity. What's the deal? I think I'm learning what a mess "creativity" makes, and I'm having a baby in several months, and there might not be enough time to start and finish such a mess. Who knows?

I am take Ardyn to basketball practice, and do a reverse swap for the kids who swapped "wallago". We need to turn in some videos and grab some milk. I'm also going to paint the hallway. I KNOW. I said I would do it weeks ago. Don't give me that look!

I am reading..."A Woman God Can Use" by Alice Mathews, "Can We Talk?" by Priscilla Shirer, and my Holman Bible in a Year. (same as last week...locked in.)

I am have what it takes to parent a teenager. If I don't have "it" now, I have four days to gather "it" up. VERY open for wise counsel and advice. I am also HOPING that wherever I fall miserably short, the Lord will find other ways to provide for Landen --and all the other teenagers to follow in coming years -- despite my whole-hearted efforts.

I am hearing...girls. lots of little girls. JW took Landen to play flag football with some fellas. We swapped Luke for Emma and so there are four little girls playing "who-knows-what" down the hall. I am also hearing "I love You, Lord. You are mine. I love You forever! You're the One for me! You're the One for me!" over and over and over in my head. We learned it last night in MP3. I seriously woke up three times during the night because my mental music was playing too loudly.

Around the house...Only two more loads of laundry to do. Everything is neat and tidy. I have NO excuse not to change clothes and paint. Right now!

One of my favorite how strong the boys are growing. Physically, they can do all the little things I used to have to wait for Philip to do. Mentally, they are initiating and contributing to deep conversations and I love it! Spiritually, they know right and wrong; the Lord is leading them to make more and more righteous, selfless choices. Yay God!

A few plans for the rest of the week...lessons tomorrow, AWANA and choir Wed, Basketball practice on Friday, two games on Saturday, a "Big Buck" Banquet on Saturday night (what SHALL I wear???) and the third annual Johnson Bowl on Sunday afternoon. Every year the boys invite fathers and sons to play two hours of flag football to celebrate their birthdays. Always a huge time! I wondered last night if they would continue this completely fun tradition into their teen years. Uh-oh, sappy momma alert!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...Luke and Landen being best buds.

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Evening Post

Everyone was in town and in good health today so we attended corporate worship for the first time in over a month. What a blessing.

The sunday school lesson was from Genesis. So even though I had not studied the booklet, I HAD read my daily Bible readings for January which are all from Genesis. My buddy, the teacher, shut my rig down when I offered an insight that contradicted the "quarterly". Heavens to Myrtle! He (and the writers in Nashville) had some good ideas, but I still thought mine merited at least a mention. I obviously lacked the conventional backing needed to carry an SB SS lesson. No hard feelings.

My bowl of cereal consumed before 8am had run its metabolic course by the end of the sermon. By the time we were walking to the car, my blood sugar was bottoming out and my mood was not much better. Philip was jonesin' for any one of the several dips of tobacco he typically enjoys on weekday mornings. The ride home was just precious! The first several moments of mealtime were not much better, but we traversed through the various biological manifestations of our addictions, and finally found our way back to sweetness.

After a luncheon of leftovers, Philip was called to work. Mari napped, the girls went across the street to play, Landen toured the neighborhood on his four-wheeler, and Luke and I vegged out. I did a little planning for MP3 and then vegged some more.

I set the french loaf sloppy joes in the oven before I left and we were able to enjoy them the moment we returned from the church house. MP3 went great. I think I burned a couple hundred calories, but broke even thanks to snack time. Our songs for this semester come with lyrics on dvd, so it's like karaoke with a bunch of hyperactive emerging readers. We had a blast worshipping.

Now everyone is doin' their thang around the house. I can't tell if we're winding down, or gearing up. Transition mode, I suppose.

Thank You God for today. You are Good in every way!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Flashback Foto

Yesterday when I was looking for a wedding picture to post, I found this one and KNEW it had to be today's flashback.

This is my Philip with JW and "little Philip" Coleman...roughly 2pm, Saturday, January 15, 1994. Philip's best man was Paul Coleman. Paul discipled him as a youth, helped him choose ETBU, and ultimately hired him as Youth Intern for Mobberly the year before we married. Fifteen years later, Lil'Phil is a senior in the Mobberly youth ministry and guess who works as Paul's intern? JW.

Bonded for life by a shnazzy hounds tooth tux vest.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Philip & I have been married for fifteen amazing years.

I remember someone asking me shortly before the wedding, "How do you know for sure he's the one?" I thought about it for a minute. Stalling, actually, because who can be SURE of anything. Then it occurred to me. I saw my future as a big drama production...stage, set, sound, etc. In my mind, I switched out every conceivable backdrop in terms of setting: city, country, jungle; poverty, wealth, insanity. I changed out all the imaginary costuming and props. I added and subtracted cast members like friends, family, and future children. I ran through all the possible story lines: thrilling or horrifying; blissful or boring; safe & secure or downright scary. In all cases, the one thing I could never get my brain to alter was the leading man. He was there, standing firm, looking lovingly handsome forever.

Thank You, Lord, for guiding and protecting each of us as we journey closer to You and to each other. Thank You for Your love that makes all of life a blessing. Thank You for Your perfect strength that carries us in times when we are weak. Thank You for Your wisdom and patience when the choices are difficult. Thank You for Your forgiveness and compassion. It's the only way to truly live.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Can We Talk?" Week 1: Day 1

"No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless [unsettled, undisciplined, unable to be restrained] evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?" James 3:8-11

REALLY? We gotta bust out with tamin' the tongue on DAY 1????

I've read this passage a hundred times, I think. But most of the time it was in a rushed scurry like bobbing through football two-a-day tires. I feared the deluge of conviction that might overcome me should I linger too long in such a direct passage.

This time I stayed. I got prayed up and stayed.

The phrase that caught my attention was "full of deadly poison". I've heard "sticks and stones might break bones..." and I've known "back-stabbing" comments. This paints a different picture. Those wounds can mend. They might scar, but they'll mend. Poison must be ingested, inhaled, or injected. It's target is the entire circulatory system.

My words have the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue...") This is not a small deal. My haphazard speech will leave not merely a flesh wound, but a tainting of the whole circulation of the other person.

On the positive side, my words also have the capacity to heal and revive. I CAN speak blessings into the lives of my family and friends. I can speak wisdom and strength to the lost and weary.

I LOVE to worship our Creator. But with similar ease, I find myself criticizing so much of His creation. The other night, I enjoyed an hour of "Praise Father, Son & Holy Ghost". Then, in the 3 minutes it took to get to my car, I complained about 5 or 6 humans, dogged the fact that there were ugly nails in the walls of our freshly painted church house, and ultimately griped about the weather.

"[Sist]ern, these things ought not be this way!" Hello?

Thank You, Father, for Your Word. It is alive and powerful. Thank You for even wanting to try to teach me ONE MORE TIME, the truths I should already know. Your patience is amazing. I DO love me demonstrate my love for You by loving Your creation too. Give me words to speak so that I might shine Your love and light into people's live. Guard my heart so that the words of my mouth will be pleasing.

Bless all my sisters who are studying this same passage. Speak to us. We want to hear You and respond.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Monday, January 12, 2009...

Outside my window...breezy and bright.

I am thinking...about all the changes a little baby will bring into our home. Happy, welcome, changes.

I am thankful for...restored health throughout the household. One stomach bug times eight persons equals thirty-seven loads of laundry, one hundred fourteen Clorox wipes, three sleeves of saltine crackers, four liters of diet sprite, one gallon of applesauce and a dozen bananas. I kept thinking, with all this laundry and cleaning, it's a good thing there are no meals...I haven't the time!

From the learning we "learned" how to rearrange furniture, dust baseboards, organize belongings, and be kind one to another. That's it. Week 20 begins tomorrow.

From the dinner prep...folks are still feeling wary about large spicy meals. I imagine we'll have grilled cheese or pancakes.

I am wearing...gray pants, white henley.

I am creating...several schedules and lots of lists. Not really creative, but fun any how!

I am take Ardyn to basketball practice in just a sec. Tomorrow evening I have a children's council meeting and Wednesday (Lord willing) I will get to attend choir rehearsal for the first time in a month.

I am reading..."A Woman God Can Use" by Alice Mathews, "Can We Talk?" by Priscilla Shirer, and my Holman Bible in a Year.

I am take noticeable strides toward being "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry". Deliberate living is tough stuff!

I am playing outside, classical Christmas music playing in the girls' room (?), and clothes tumbling in the dryer.

Around the house...clean laundry fills one whole couch, but the whole house has been vacuumed and dusted. After the kids soak up the sunshine, we'll use our dark time to fold and deliver.

One of my favorite when all three girls play together in their room. It is rare that they find an activity that all three are interested in at a certain moment. Today it was a "party" in their freshly laid out room. They all dressed up, turned on the tunes, and welcomed each other with curtsies and cheek kisses.

A few plans for the rest of the week...lessons tomorrow, AWANA and choir Wed, our 15th anniversary on Thursday!!!! and Philip's parents are coming on Saturday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...sorry...gotta run. I'll try to post something fun later.

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Framing the Face

We had to cut Mari some bangs. Ashlin had done a tiny make-over during room time, and had taken a little off the top, and a little chunk out of the front. I combed down some bangs for Mari and trimmed them across her eyebrows. She looks more like my kid pictures than ever!

We let her try on my glasses, and it was crazy how much she looked like me. Then Ardyn wanted to try them on. With her dark hair and eyes, she favored my appearance as well. Finally, Ashlin wanted a turn with the eye wear. Using her 20/20 vision to peer through my heavily prescribed lenses was a bit of a trip for her.

She gazed around the room in groovy wonder. She looked back at me and said, "Mom, you have two noses!" I giggled, and told her she looked cute. Then in amazement she continued to call it exactly like she could see it from her pluralistic vantage, "Two noses...and two mouths...and four or five chins!"

Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Flashback Foto

Seven years ago...

In a home across town...

Two little boys asked, "How do you KNOW markers won't wash off our faces?"

And a slightly stir crazy Mom replied, "Well, let's see..."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Can We Talk?

Last week my cousin, Leslie, proposed an excellent idea. She invited her blog readers to participate in an online discussion relating to Priscilla Shirer's new Bible Study, "Can We Talk: Soul-Stirring Conversations with God". We had discussed the study prior to her post, so I had dutifully purchased the book and had begun to thumb through the sessions.

All weekend, I couldn't shake the notion that I might not be the only one "out there" who would thrive on the accountability that such a low maintenance set-up could afford. So I sent out an invitation to folks in my email account. As of this afternoon, 11 ladies have responded that they plan to simultaneously journey through this study. Five of the ones who live here in town have agreed to come join a Wednesday morning discussion. This is VERY exciting for me. I LOVE support...not just in undergarments, but in so many areas of life!

It's not too late, if you weren't in my contact list, feel free to grab a book. We begin the study Monday, January 12. You can complete 5 brief lessons a week and we'll be done by the end of February. For those who are "getting personal", we'll have our first meeting the next Wednesday on the 21st to make sure everyone has time to finish the week's questions.

I have no idea how the posting schedule will go. I'll follow Leslie's lead, post her permalink, and then readily accept input from other readers and bloggers.

Hope you can join us!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Monday, January 5, 2009...

Outside my window...quiet, cold and drizzly.

I am thinking...that time flies if you're not paying attention. I guess it does anyway, but I seem to be able to keep track of things if I pay attention. Duh. Today will apparently NOT be one bent toward profundity.

I am thankful for...all my little chickadees. They are blessings!

From the learning rooms...not one tiny peep. I offered to read after lunch and everyone looked at me like, "Perhaps, we've been unclear...this is Luke's birthday. So despite your troubling notion that getting ahead would make tomorrow better, school resumes Ma-nya-na!" I took the unanimous hint and came to blog and nap.

From the kitchen...Landen and the girls are cleaning up the rest of lunch. I gave them a big head start...they just need to finish the dishwasher. Luke asked for lemon poppy seed cake and brownies with chocolate chip cookie dough. I'm not sure who told him he could make two requests, but it's done.

I am fleece 'loungers' and a warm, woolly sweatshirt.

I am creating...several schedules and lots of lists. Not really creative, but fun any how!

I am take Luke to his friend's house later so they can watch the football game. Other than that, I'm stickin' put until Wednesday's choir practice.

I am reading..."A Woman God Can Use" by Alice Mathews. My mom gave it to me for Christmas and I'm halfway finished. I'm also still on schedule with my "read the Bible through" plan. 5 WHOLE days of consistency...woo hoo.

I am hoping...this baby will continue to grow and have a healthy birth. I heard the heart beat this morning...amid lots of shuffling and whooshes on the ultrasound. [He?] is quite a mover and a shaker--oh gosh, Ardyn's sibling??? I think I can almost feel him. We'll have a sonogram in 4 weeks to see [him?] move and shake for ourselves. I'm also [apparently] hoping for a boy baby:)

I am hearing...keyboard clicks and motor hums. That's it. Everyone thinks I'm napping. Sh-sh-sh! Don't blow my cover.

Around the house...Luke is lounging for his birthday. The others are catering to his every need. Mari & Oscar-dog are napping.

One of my favorite when Mari calls out in the mornings and comes to get in my bed. She always snuggles up really close and if I'm really lucky, she scratches my back for a few seconds before speaking her morning greeting: "I hungry, Momma. Let's get down and go see 'bout some cer-ul."

A few plans for the rest of the week...Lessons, MP3 prep, tidy/clean, & reading.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...Happy 11th Birthday, Brendan Luke!

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fellowship to Follow

Just before we were to pack up all the Christmas decorations and store them away, I walked down the hall toward the girls' room. The lights were low, but sounds of the season scaled surprising heights of praise.

From the doorway, I could see all three girls facing the small, overly adorned, prelit tree on the dresser. They had assembled all their pretty ponies from Christmas around the manger scene. My daughters joined the imaginary equestrian chorale in a passionate arrangement of "O Come Let Us Adore Him".

I smiled and quietly worshipped from afar. As the song ended, Ardyn raised her voice (and one fist)and proclaimed triumphantly, "HE IS THE MIGHTY KING OF KINGS AND HE WILL REIGN FOREVER ON HIS THRONE!!!" Then in a jolt of stylistic transition, she added, "Now, let's get ready to shake it and bake it!"

I have no idea...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday Flashback Foto

Landen & Luke in 1998 in Uncle Don's recliner. They will turn 13 and 11 this month. Yikes! Thank You, God, for my handsome sons!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY January 1, 2009...

Outside my window...chilly and bright. Weather forecast calls for a warm afternoon, so I turned the heater down this morning despite the low 40's temperature. Climate control in Texas...never dull.

I am thinking...that I am ready for a fresh start. It has been so nice to spend so much time with Philip and the kids over the holidays. I feel like we're ready to face the new year as a energetic, unified, well-fed team.

I am thankful much! God has done great things. It's almost overwhelming to think about. I'm thankful for the opportunity to raise another Johnson. I said the sentence to Philip last week, "We have five more years to parent Landen in our home." I think I had a panic attack as the words came out. How did time fly by so quickly? I'm in that weird phase of pregnancy, where I'm no longer feeling ill, I'm not feeling the baby's movements yet, so I just feel like I've gained 10 pounds. Very strange. Mari and I talk about the baby almost every day. She will be a very good big sister. She's had some great role models.

From the learning rooms...What a nice break the last couple weeks have been! I've shaken the role of teacher and have embraced the privilege of just plain ol' mom. I do look forward to next week. It's been slightly unnerving to approach each day without a plan or routine....ultimately fun, but not initially comfortable.

From the kitchen...Half a load of dishes wait patiently in the left sink. They didn't make the 2008 cut last night. I've been sick since last week, but I gathered myself enough to help Luke prepare one last culinary expression of love for our family. Last night's menu included venison queso, taco salad, chipotle rice, refried beans with melty cheese, warm tortilla chips sprinkled with chili powder, and homemade salsa. Together, all eight of us enjoyed a warm, tasty dinner with cool, creamy Bluebell to wrap up 2008.

I am pants and a red tee shirt.

I am creating...some purposeful approaches to the new year. God has blessed us, and to whom much is given, much is required. I also hope to come up with a healthy rendition of bacon mushroom swiss burger melts for the guys when they return from hunting.

I am going...on a date tomorrow night. I have the sweetest, most handsome husband in the world, and he thinks I'm a fun girl. What more could I wish for?

I am new Holman translation. It's laid out to read the Bible through in a year. I love the story of Adam and Eve. The tough lesson I learn each time I visit their story is the importance of getting the Truth straight from God. When the serpent questions Eve's knowledge of the tree, she is limited to hearsay from Adam. (Chapter 1 says that the Lord told the man not to eat of the tree. By Chapter 2, Eve has expanded her once removed version to include 'no touching the tree'.) I want to stay in the Word. Read it for myself. Receive teaching and admonition, but go back and test it according to the Word. I don't want to add to Scripture or only read what I believe. I want the faith to believe what I read.

I am hoping...God will prompt and lead our family to live boldly for Him. Jesus' earthy parents were asked to ignore public opinion even before His birth. As Joseph tried to spare Mary public humiliation, the angel commanded him to do otherwise...and ultimately allow the Lord to handle their reputation. May He give us the courage to be obedient.

I am hearing..."Between the Lions" on PBS. The girls ate a late breakfast with their Daddy, so they are holding out for a comparably late luncheon when I finish this post.

Around the house...Christmas decorations need to be gathered and stored away. Always a slightly sad event. JW, Philip, and the boys are hunting and the girls are hanging out in my room. Oscar is napping somewhere.

One of my favorite my new NetiPot. It is a terribly invasive apparatus that forcibly, yet mercifully cleanses all sinus cavities and passages of "all that plagues me". It's a little tea pot that you fill with a "patented portion" of warm saline solution. As you lean over the sink, and cock your head to one side, you insert the spout into one of your nostrils and tilt the teapot until the saline has traveled through your passages and is draining out the other nostril (if not eyes and mouth) into the sink. Hello?

After five days of debilitating congestion, I succumbed to the peer pressure --"Leaf Lan Ree!" and yielded to my apprehensions concerning my overactive gag reflex. Except for good tasting food and drink, I consider myself an "exit only" kind of girl. I see no pressing need to insert needles or tubes, ingest gigantic pills, snort medicinal mists, inhale foul smelling vapor, or swallow non-nutritive fluids -- simply for the sake of potential improvement to overall good health. However, five days in the recliner can change your perspective.

Philip and James walked in the house discussing the odds of my willful participation. JW: "She'll never do it." PJ: "Oh, yeah, she can do it, but she's totally gonna puke." Then the discussion turned toward me concerning their eager involvement. JW: "You gonna do it now? I gotta see this!" CDJ: "IF I do this, I'm doing it in private." PJ: "Bull. You're gonna do it, and we're gonna watch."

I did it. My whole family did it. We had a bit of a NetiPot Party. I must say that Mari is slightly addicted. "Do NetiPot 'gin, Momma?" The fellas thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of my giggly, tearful spewing and slobbery spatting over the bathroom sink. It was not my finest moment, and they found great joy in my humiliation. But I DO feel MUCH better today. I actually felt better immediately after the "administering", but my physical relief was clouded by the emotional jeering and snickering that continued for hours as the menfolk would retell of the "hilarity". Seriously, if you're stuffy, buy a NetiPot, you'll be glad you did.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Keep reading, straighten & clean the house. Write out the next few weeks' lesson plans, and get a jump on ironing for the next couple weeks. And don't forget Datenite! Basketball games on Saturday and then back to the church house on Sunday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...My darling brother, JW gave this little morsel of framed encouragement to me for Christmas. Precious. In case you can't make out the fine print, it says, "Blogging: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few."

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