Friday, December 31, 2010

On the seventh day of Christmas...

My true love gave to me the magic of "I wonder..."

I wonder if a couple of teaspoons of sugar, heated in a small saucepan with a cup of fresh blueberries, will make a good topping for the cheesecake made from frozen cream cheese? Definitely.

"The cure for boredom is curiosity; there is no cure for curiosity."

Wonder what the new year will bring....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the sixth day of Christmas...

My true love gave to me glorious flowers.

My Christmas cactus, Chris, is blooming away. Over a dozen new vibrant pink blossoms. Absolutely gorgeous! With all the rain and more promised soon, we may have an incredible spring. Even if we don't, I'm enjoying the evergreens as well. And with all the wonderful photographers willing to share their gift, I delight in all the pictures!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the fifth day of Christmas...

My true love gave to me really fantastic food.

Coconut shrimp, baked potatoes with gravy or sour cream, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, hot coco with biscotti, pizza, pancakes with buttermilk syrup, chocolate chip cookies and milk, cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, chicken with veggies, cheesecake, sauteed zucchini with parmesan cheese, and baklava, and that's only some of this week's menus.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the fourth day of Christmas... Reading List #30

My true love gave to me BOOKS! You knew that was coming sooner or later. :-)

Books open the door to adventure, knowledge, escape, fun, new worlds, different ideas.

I know I've been neglectful of my reading list, so today is catch up day. Some of the books I've briefly mentioned in other posts, but not an official list. Of course, I'm only listing the ones I enjoyed. The Baby Agenda by Janice Kay Johnson, Rescued by his Christmas Angel by Cara Colter, Falling for the Teacher by Tracy Kelleher, Family Be Mine by Tracy Kelleher, The Host by Stephanie Meyer, Romancing the Teacher by Marie Ferrarella, Suspect Lover by Stephanie Doyle, Merry Christmas Babies by Tara Taylor Quinn, The Promise of Christmas by Tara Taylor Quinn, Cowboy Daddy, Jingle-Bell Baby by Linda Goodnight, Regency Christmas Courtship by Andrea Pickens, Barbara Metzger, Edith Layton, Gayle Buck, Nancy Butler, Mistletoe Kisses by Deborah Hale, Diane Gaston, Elizabeth Rolls, Jingle Bell Babies by Kathryn Springer, The 1st Wife, The 2nd Lie, The 3rd Secret, and The 4th Victim by Tara Taylor Quinn, Anna Meets Her Match by Arlene James, A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh, Christmas Wishes by Barbara Metzger, and a variety books that are being read a bit at a time. I'll list them when they're finished.

On the third day of Christmas...

Happy Boxing Day! The day when the those with servants gave them the day off and a box of gifts, bonuses, and/or left over food. It was also the day when the alms boxes of the church were opened and distributed to the poor.

My true love gave to me work I enjoy.

With Christmas Eve on Friday, I found myself doing the work, today. I truly do like what I do.

Made pancakes and buttermilk syrup, today. Spent time on a special project. And a bit of reading.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On the second day of Christmas...

December 26th is usually known as Boxing Day, except when it falls on Sunday, like this year, then it's celebrated on the 27th. The 26th is also known as St. Stephen's Day, a martyr. Unfortunately, I also checked some of the traditions and found that some of them were quite grizzly. Sometimes, change is good.

My true love gave to me change.

Christ is the greatest believer in change. He suffered Gathsemane and Calvary on the promise that if I accept Him, I will be changed, for ever. The opportunity to change what I do, how I think, what I know, what I believe.

Over the next few days, I will reflect on where I've been, where I am, and where I would like to be this time next year. I cannot change others about me, but neither can they change me, without my permission. What will I allow in my life this coming year? What will I expect of myself? Change is the gift I was given, and I will give myself by creating a plan to carry it through.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On the first day of Christmas...

Today is the first day of the twelve days of Christmas. The twelfth day of Christmas was believed to be when the Wise Men made their appearance. Whether that is true or not matters not to me. This year, I decided to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, to more fully appreciate the priceless gift given to the world.

My true love gave to me memories.

I woke to the account of the Christmas story found in Luke running through my head.

As I helped with wrapping presents last night, for my great niece and nephew, I shared stories of past Christmases spent with my dog.

Over this past week, I've enjoyed visiting with those who hold a place in my heart.

Looking back, I see how far I've come.

So many good memories.


Today, I celebrate the day of my Savior's birthday. What joy to wake to thoughts of the story found in Luke (my favorite of the tellings). Because of my Savior, I need not for ever bear my follies. Through His Atonement, I may unburden myself by His blood, if only I will accept His gift. In choosing Christ, I choose to change my life. And each day, the choice is offered me anew. Today, I choose to be as I mean to go on. When I stumble and fall Christ is there to lift me and set me on my feet and help me on my way again. Though the choices are mine alone, God does not expect me walk alone. If I walk alone, it is because I turn my back on God. God never turns His back on His children. Ever. I may not understand why particular trials are mine, but God knows me and knows what will encourage me to stretch and grow. Will I allow myself to be placed in God's hands? I freely admit it's a frightening prospect sometimes, for like Mother Theresa, I frequently feel God has more faith in my abilities than I do. Then again, how am I to know how far I'm able to reach if sometimes I do not fall short? It's difficult sometimes to remember that God is there to comfort and lift me from the mud puddles, and all He truly asks is that I not give up.

The birth of Christ is about perfect love and hope. God loves me perfectly, and the hope I sometimes feel is so elusive and yet persistent isn't something that I create but a cherished gift from God. And like any gift, I may accept or reject it. Christ came to earth to save me from Hell, if I would but choose to follow Him. "Hell: Truth seen too late."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve... are you ready?

Yesterday, when I was driving to pick up my work, I was merging onto the freeway and found myself behind a low-rider truck. I was surprised by the amount of spray on my window. Yes, it had rained, but I didn't expect that much. So I moved over to the middle lane. Then the truck swerved, enough to scare me, and put ever sense on high alert. I slowed and moved over to the far lane just as the truck swerved again, right to where I would have been. I knew the truck's tire had shredded. It wasn't rain that had been spattering my windshield but bits of rubber. Fortunately, the driver was able to regain control of the truck and move over to the side of the road. It all happened in about two seconds. Fear was my friend in that moment. I offered a prayer that someone with the right skills would be able to help that driver.

The shopping is done. Everything that can be done has been done. I open presents on Christmas Ever, and then on Christmas Day, I reflect on the year, and make a list of the gifts I will be giving myself in the coming year. I started this tradition, last year, so this will be the first time I have a review. I'm looking forward to it. Christ, the reason for the season.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Carpe diem... and a quote on fear...

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgement that something else is more important than fear."

I finished the four-book series of the Kelly Chapman Files by Tara Taylor Quinn. Wow. Talk about a page-turner! It's more mystery suspense than romance. Tara Taylor Quinn is a champion of abuse survivors, most particularly domestic abuse, unfortunately with the background to understand, but also the courage to move past it.

Christmas carols are playing.

Did you know that cream cheese kept in the freezer, even for more than six years, is still yummy in cheesecake?

Another Christmas-related task was accomplished, much better than I expected.

And enjoyed a phone call from a friend wishing me a Happy Birthday, as well as cards from friends. Others have arrived but won't be opened until tomorrow, when it's official. :-) God has a sense of humor: I'm almost brainless for my birthday. Though there probably won't be snow, there should be rain, as close as this place manages to come to snow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #34...

I'm grateful for the right to take long-held "truths" and decide for myself that they are wrong. FDR said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Generalizations are so often incredibly shallow. A nice sound bite, but an esoteric idea that I think does more harm than good. It suggests that we must simply not be afraid. Actually, if you think about it, it's a pretty stupid thing to say. An abused child at the mercy of an abuser knows fear and it isn't just the fear they fear. I mean really. That's what the quote says. So does the person trapped by a rapist/mugger/thief/etc. The only thing they have to fear is fear. Really? What idiot would say that in such a situation? So does the soldier, who does what is required anyway. And I don't believe for a moment that FDR wasn't afraid of his paralysis. So all he had to fear was fear? Then there are things like cancer. Even the word strikes fear. In American Sign Language, one does not use the actual sign for cancer in a doctor's appointment but only the letter C, to keep from causing increased fear. What parent doesn't fear when they are told something is wrong with their child? What human being doesn't feel fear being told they have MS, leukemia, diabetes, heart disease, etc? Over and over, I've heard people speak of their fear and it often isn't for themselves but for their loved ones, and it isn't fear that their loved ones can't go on but simply knowing they want to be with them. The fear is of being separated from those they hold most dear. Fear is a part of the human experience. Pretending like it can be wiped out by simply not acknowledging it is the same as putting on blinders.

In truth, it can be incredibly healthy to feel fear, though it is not healthy to live in constant fear. I do believe that's where faith comes in. I've often heard it interpreted that if you fear then you lack faith. I hold that fear and faith reside side by side. Fear is not always a bad thing. How often have I been protected because my fear, healthy fear, steered me away from a dangerous situation? And what need of faith would I have if I had no fear? I've always liked the idea that if you're prepared, then you don't need to fear. But some things cannot be prepared for, and that is where our faith is tested. Faith needs to be exercised in order to grow and strengthen, just like any skill. One can deny one's fear, which doesn't actually make it go away. It only buries it under a pile of denial. Or, one can live in fear, making one useless to one's self and to others because fear is limiting. Or one can choose to acknowledge the fear and exercise faith by learning what one must do to move forward. I'm well acquainted with fear, and sometimes it's my friend, and I am learning to embrace faith. It isn't easy, but then nothing worthwhile in life is.

Variation: Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that a coincident is an event in which God chooses to remain anonymous. Recently I heard something similar that I like better. I did some quick homework, and the first mention of it is back in 2008. I heard it first from Glenn Beck, during his First American Christmas: Not a coincident but a God incident.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ten days to Christmas...

Christmas has always been a struggle for me. My birthday is so close, it was often forgotten or I could have one less gift on Christmas and have it for my birthday. In the last eight years, God blessed me with amazing friends. Friends I discovered because of LOTR. We met on a LOTR-related board, online. They celebrated my birthday all month long, year after year. Now, I'm content to simply be remembered on the day of my birth or close to it. They've shown me in so many ways that they cherish me. To them, I made a difference because I was born. I think, it's all most of us want: To know we matter, to know that the world is a little better because we existed on this little planet.

Over the years, I planned so much for Christmas, but all of them revolved around a family of my own. Every year, I hoped that this year would be the year I would have someone with whom to share this important reminder of our Savior's birth, the birth that changed the whole World and all of Time and Eternity. But God had other plans.

Finally, last year, I began creating traditions for myself. These aren't anything like the traditions I planned before, but they are perhaps more centered in the true reason for the season, Jesus Christ, my Savior. He who taught about love and hope and how to live life, by example. I'm not the best of students, but I am tenacious.

This year, I'm clearly not settled into my traditions, but I'm re-thinking and trying a few new things. I have followed almost every tradition I put on my list last year, and added quite a few things this year. Yes, it's all so new I find myself double checking the list I created, largely because it's practically nothing like I always imagined it would be. Re-inventing yourself is a challenge. God never said it would be easy; He only promised it would be worth it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Food... warning, rant ahead...

Writing about it, so it's out of my head. I'm watching the banning of foods, the crying over food deserts, the "concern" for overweight individuals, and the idiocy that is stemming from those who think they have the power to fix others, especially when they are still imperfect themselves. They think that if they limit food choices, the problem will be solved. They think that if everyone would simply listen to them, all the problems would be solved. The arrogance in such thinking is appalling. News Flash: There is no one thing that will solve obesity, except maybe the return of Christ to the earth. Really. Being overweight is a myriad of problems. Weight, either over or under, is a symptom not a problem in and of itself. They drone on and on about eating healthy. Everyone should eat healthy, but by whose standards? I've complained before that every diet book I've ever read starts with eat only whole grains. I'm allergic to bran. Whole grains are out. I've lost count of the number of times the "official food pyramid" has changed in my lifetime. Of course, they also add in that moving helps. Of course it does.

Now, here's the real problem. Being overweight is a symptom, and I'm not talking about a symptom of unhealthy eating or not exercising. The eating and moving are tools. You would have to live under a rock not to know that eating healthy and exercising regularly is good for you. Recently, I was told that my back problem would improve if I lost weight, to which I replied, "Thank you so much for telling me because I'm clearly too stupid to figure it out on my own." Sarcastic? Definitely. Also, incredibly angry. I have been starved to the point of eating dog food. I have been forced to eat food that made me sick. I have been told that I'm too active: hold still! I've been told that men don't marry girls that weigh as much as I do. This to a woman who is an abuse survivor. I promptly put on twenty pounds. Eating and exercising are not the problem or the issue or the answer. I freely admit I hide behind my weight.

So to all those who say that all you have to do is eat right and exercise, I respectfully request that you keep your shallow opinions to yourself. Try looking a little deeper than the surface. You look at someone who is overweight and ask why they don't eat better and exercise. You see them eating at a fast food restaurant and nod sagely that if they'd stop, they'd be healthy. I hope you never find yourself struggling with a health issue that others consider easy to solve if you only *fill in the blank*.

The truth is that I've done eating healthy and the exercise. I lost a little, slowly. Then, someone I do not trust commented on how good I was looking, and I promptly regained the weight I'd lost and then some. I have discovered that I am not a stress eater. In fact, when I'm stressed, I stop eating. However, I do eat to stuff emotions. I do eat to stop thinking. I do eat when my hormones are out of whack. Food is always there when I want it. Food always gives exactly what I expect. Food doesn't care if I'm fat or plain or unsuccessful or slow or awkward or scatterbrained or clumsy. People wonder why I accumulated food storage: I needed to know it was there. I will never allow anyone to dictate to me again what I may or may not eat. No one is allowed to force me to eat what makes me sick. No one is allowed to decide how much or how little I eat.

Everyday, I endeavor to be aware of what I eat. I endeavor to do some form of exercise. I am endeavoring to teach myself how to be healthy, but it starts on the inside. That place those perfectionists cannot see. So, if you see me eating something that's less than healthy try stopping a minute and first asking yourself, "Do I know if this is an occasional treat or a habit?" Then ask, "If it's a habit, do I know what need is being filled?" Then ask yourself, "If it's a need, am I in any position to fill that need?" If the answer is "No" any of those questions, then I would appreciate it if you would simply live your life and allow me to live mine. I do recognize a good example when I see one, and it does help. I will never learn healthy behaviors if I am forced. Been there, done that, and clearly it doesn't work.

All that being said, this comes down to one thing: I want the right to choose for myself. God gave me free will, and no one has the right to take it away unless it infringes on basic moral principles, and I have yet to have anyone point out in the Bible where is says Thou shalt not be fat. However, there are plenty of criminals wandering the street who have lied, cheated, committed adultery, murdered... So, when you've cleaned up the streets of those lawbreakers, then you can come after me about what I eat.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Carpe diem... breathing a little easier... sort of...

My internet is working as it should. Why it surprises that I'm feeling this huge relief, I don't know. I know how stressed out I become when my internet doesn't work. It had been giving me trouble for quite a while, though I hadn't realized until it started going out last week. I was totally discombobulated. (great word) So, today, I enjoyed a well-working internet. I read (no surprise there), did laundry, caught up online, and generally tried to catch up with myself. I'm still working on that last one. I had sorted through my room, culling things to let go, and re-arranging my room with the new space. I'm not used to it yet. It's completely thrown off my routine. I don't do well without a routine. I don't dispute that change is good. I know that. I still have a difficult time wrapping my mind around it. I wish I understood that better... maybe I shouldn't say that. Knowing God, He'll arrange it so I have plenty of practice until I get the hang of it... probably too late, already. Shoot darn. "Buckle up, Buttercup; it's gonna be a bumpy ride."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #33...

~Good friends, gifts from God, who journey with me. They bless me with peace and joy in turmoil and uncertainty.
~Techs who know their job and do their job.
~Books! (No surprise there.)
~Finding a way to do my work that seems to suit me better. Old dogs are capable of learning new tricks.
~Having enough to be able to share.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mystery solved...

After six and a half years of faithful service, my modem was dying, slowly. New modem, no problem. Why did I not recognize the symptoms? My last modem was fried by lightening. Instant death. For future reference, mine had a good lifespan. Computers change, the internet changes, and modems need to be periodically replaced (5-6 years) to keep pace. Fascinating. The tech was great, answered all my questions, listened, and never made me feel silly.

I noticed that the cable between my computer and the modem was the one I've been using and the new one was still in the box. I called my sister and asked if I should trade out the old one for the new one, keeping the new with the new, and saving the old for "just in case." She agreed with me, but then I probably learned it from her. :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weirdness, no matter how you look at it...

The internet went out, again. What is God trying to tell me? My internet is my connection to the world, and so many friends I never would have met without it. The tech guy is coming, tomorrow, and I'm letting him because maybe he'll understand what I clearly don't. Be that as it may, God's hand is in it. You see, the connection was sporadic, read up for a few seconds than gone for several minutes. I was working. I had two medications and two conditions I needed to find for spelling and/or verification. All four times, my connection would be long enough to accomplish the search, even if it meant pulling up the internet (then it would go down) typing in the word or words (then it would go down), and finally doing a quick enter, and having exactly what I needed popup, and then it would go down. Work is done, despite feeling frazzled. Since it was down this afternoon, I needed a way to relieve some of the stress, so I gathered up things I plan on giving away, books, VHS tapes, a few LOTR things, clothes, and other odd bits. My room is far less crowded, and I like it. Now, clearly the internet is running fine. It afforded me the opportunity to watch Glenn Beck, thanks to Thank you! Jon Huntsman was the guest. What a remarkable man. And I finished the day feeling inspired and grateful for all my rich blessings.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

God works in mysterious ways...

...His wonders to perform... Still having problems with my internet. AUGH! It really makes me cranky to feel so disconnected. Once again, internet was out from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Sigh. I was wondering if I needed to call Cox to see if there was something they could do, and decided to wait until after finals... maybe. Then it was out around 2:30 p.m., and my SIL needed a phone number. I called Cox. The computerized troubleshooter talked me through. WOW! I liked that if I didn't catch everything "she" said, she'd repeat it. After a bit of this and that, Shazam! I have a solid connection again. I never imagined being comfortable with the computer helper. All good things come from God.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The value of good friends...

Monday night, I lost my internet connection for an hour. Then it was back; no problem. Tuesday morning, my internet connection went out for an hour, then all was well again. Wednesday night, again my internet went out. Blessedly, I was on the phone with one of my best friends, who let me complain, empathized, then said, "It's the middle of December. Projects are due." Oh. She had had the same problem where she lives, every year, during exam time. I live less than a mile from a university. Whew. It isn't me. Whoohoo!! Always good to know it isn't me, and it will not last more than another week; it is only occasionally, and lasts only an hour at a time. Doable. Thank God for smart friends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Murphy and O'Toole

Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, at the worst possible moment.

O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Law: Murphy was an optimist.

I had a complete meltdown almost a week ago. My counselor was offered his dream job. He wisely took it. However, I wasn't ready! Life happens. He assured me that I had learned to be emotionally independent, but I still needed to learn to be financially independent. I restrained myself from rolling my eyes and saying, "Duh!"

That being said, I've been putting in extra effort on my food storage. There's so much I can't do, but this I could, so I did. My dad quipped, "You're going to need a warehouse."

What I heard: "Why are you wasting your money on this?"

What I felt: Lazy and stupid because if I were industrious and smart, I would have figured out how to be financially independent long ago.

What was really going on: A lot of things.

So went the horrible, awful, really bad day, and brings us to today. God reminded me that He is aware of me. Picking up work, the traffic was horrendous, road work, drivers not paying attention, but God brought me home safely. Then my internet connection was interrupted. My connection to the world. I called Cox, and the techs were great. The first one helped me set up an appointment for someone to come to the house. Then, moments later, the God breeze: I remembered that a few days ago I'd accidentally kicked the cable, knocking the modem. It seemed the connection had come loose, and I hadn't realized. I set it to rights, and whoohoo! Internet connection. Called Cox back, and the tech was again great, canceling the appointment. What could they tell me? It works. Can't fix what isn't broke. Add to that, the mouse scrolling isn't working.

Be that as it may, work was accomplished. I had my connection. Whew! Did I question what I'd done wrong to have all this dumped on me? Oh, yea. Definitely. Then I reminded myself that Life Happens. I came to earth to learn and grow, and learning and growing isn't easy. I did not come for a vacation or to take it easy. I came to see if I would work to remember God and His teachings, to exercise faith because all was forgotten. Would I choose God's plan without the sure knowledge of being with Him? Or would I find Lucifer's plan more appealing that everyone be saved by being forced to do what's right? It's hard to choose to do good sometimes. Have I not, in the past, wailed for someone to tell me what to do? But now that I'm learning the value of free agency, I hope it isn't too late...

We had a saying in the mission field: If you wonder whether or not your mission is over? If you're still here, it isn't. The same is true of life: If you're still here, it isn't over.

On this day, the anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, my thoughts and prayers are with our military personnel, all over the world, our warriors. May God bless them, and hold them in the palm of His hand.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Do you know who you are?

Arizona Shooter posted an article, today, that hit home with me. I'm not a sheep. I'm not a wolf. I'm not a full-fledge sheepdog, but I'm closer to that than anything else. I needed the reminder.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank Goodness it's Sunday #32...

~Visit from the sister-in-law, had a ball chatting PBS programs!
~Chris, my Christmas cactus, is blooming!
~My Christmas book list.
~Lawn ornaments, i.e., the feral cats that romp in the yard.
~Eclipse, released on DVD!

Psalms 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High...

Friday, December 3, 2010

One of my favorite writers...

Tara Tyler Quinn is at Deena's Place Deena is also a writer, and while TTQ is working for domestic abuse awareness, Deena is helping with human trafficking awareness. Remarkable women, with huge hearts. God bless them and their efforts. I'm currently reading TTQ's Merry Christmas Babies, one of my Christmas traditions. I have a whole pile of Christmas books that I re-read every year, a couple of which are TTQ's.