Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I've been MIA the past couple of days because the day after I made my frappachino, I thought I made myself sick by drinking it. Well, that wasn't all it was. I came home Monday night after work to plunk down on the couch, shiver almost to death with a fever for a few hours, and a vicious stomach bug. Is that TMI for a blog?

I hadn't felt too much like blogging (or anything else) for a couple of days. I do have a couple of books to review, some pictures to post and some PR to post next week. In the meantime, I need to finish some things online, then do my bills.

That, my friends, is how I am ringing in the new year. Because I stayed up until almost 2 last night reading because I really wanted to finish the book, I may very well go to bed before midnight tonight because that's just the kind of "take-that-New-Year's-Eve" kind of girl that I am.

I hope everyone is ringing in the New Year in the way that you most enjoy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finding Inner Peace Through Christ


Living in the Presence of God through Prayer and Meditation

Peace is perhaps the most elusive, miraculous phenomenon in the human experience. From the kindergarteners arguing on the playground to the world powers storing up technologically advanced weapons, we clearly struggle to coexist peacefully with each other. Yet for all our efforts to generate peace between people, we often overlook the importance of finding peace within ourselves. Though we long for this inner peace, our world full of war, famine, bank collapses, pandemics, and day-to-day struggles has discouraged us from even trying to find it.

In his new book, Finding Inner Peace During Troubled Times, author William Moss shows readers that inner peace is indeed attainable in the person and presence of Jesus. As a high-powered businessman and a key political decision-maker, Moss has faced his share of daily distractions. For over a decade, he has studied and practiced the lost art of Christian meditation. “I believe God wants us to find peace and will show us the way, if we are willing to accept it. But for many, the peace of God is elusive. They are not sure how to accept it or where to begin in their pursuit of it,” says Moss. “There are many difficulties, distractions, and hardships that stand in the way of our inner peace. Sometimes these are due to our circumstances. Other times it is our sin or the attitudes of our hearts that stand between us and the inner peace we crave. Through prayer and meditation we can transcend all the distractions and difficulties of our days if we live by the Spirit and put God’s love and presence first.”

Many believers are wary of any form of meditation because of its association with Eastern religions. These Christians might be surprised to learn that meditation was regarded as a key spiritual discipline throughout church history. Eastern meditation focuses on emptying the mind completely. Christians find inner peace by filling their minds—with scripture and with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Another fundamental difference is the motivation behind the meditation. Peace, like life, is a gift from God that is for His glory—and it is meant to be shared. For those who are in Christ, meditation is not about practicing the kind of self-focus that precludes people from being involved in the solutions of the many problems that confront them. It is communion with God through the Holy Spirit. It is letting go of anger, worry, and fear and taking on the loving, serving character of Christ instead.

Finding Inner Peace During Troubled Times uses key scriptures to demonstrate God’s gift of peace to every believer. This slender book encourages readers to be intentional about pursuing that peace, even including a simple, step-by-step example of Christian meditation. This is a perfect book to take anywhere you go, put in your purse, backpack or briefcase and refer to throughout the day.

“With the constant stream of media, noise, commitments, conflicts, and other distractions, you will not likely find times of quiet, stillness, and spiritual reflection unless you plan them, unless you pursue meditation as a discipline,” states Moss. “The key to inner peace and a fulfilled life is one that is grounded in Christian meditation.”

Finding Inner Peace During Troubled Times by William Moss
The Barnabas Agency December 2009
ISBN: 978-0-578-04244-2/64 pages/softcover/$5.99
http://www.williammoss.org/

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I just got accused of being a coffee drinker

Posting the picture of me and my cousins will just have to wait. Someone just accused me of being a coffee drinker on Facebook. OK, Leslie, I guess I have become one. I really thought it would never happen. You don't know how many frappachinos it took me after the age of 30 before I could drink one without having major coffee shock.

And I thought to be a coffee drinker, you had to drink it hot. I don't drink anything hot unless it's been setting out of the refrigerator for too long.

The first step is denial, isn't it. I guess so because Jenny got me a Starbucks card for Christmas, and the main thing I asked for was a Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe machine. I mean, without a Starbucks in Corsicana, and frappachinos being downright expensive, surely I can make them for cheaper. Julie commented when I opened it that I should save some money... unless I bought too much stuff to make them.

Excellent point, Julie. I had to go to Wal-Mart on a shopping expedition before I could make my first frappachino at home.

Mom got me the caramella flavored coffee, but I had to go get coffee filters (couldn't find the right size), caramel sauce, a can of whipped cream, some vanilla flavored creamer and more skim milk. Before you freak out saying, "CALORIES!", to my defense, it really wasn't that bad because I didn't use that much of any of said ingredients. Besides, even Bob lets the Biggest Losers use whip cream in a can on their 10 calorie Jello. (I bought some Jello too, but not for my frappachino, obviously.)

Believe me, my concoction was much lower calorie than the recipe that came with the machine. Each one called for 2-3 tablespoons of sugar along with ice cream and chocolate sauce. I got the creamer to add a little sweet, and added no sugar, and it was plenty sweet with the bit of caramel sauce mixed in, cuz you have to have caramel sauce just like Starbucks.

It probably took me 30 minutes to make it. I had to unpack the box, get all the plastic off and wash the thing before first use. (Then, I almost dropped the blades and the rubber ring out of the bottom down the garbage disposal in the sink. And I almost cut my finger on the blade to keep it from going down the disposal.) Then put it all back together, open the creamer, open the all this other stuff.

What you do is put your coffee and water in the top to brew and all your ice and good stuff in the bottom. You push the button, and it brews and blends all in 3 minutes.

Yahoo! Got the coffee brewing, then almost had myself a heart attack when the blending began. You know any blender is loud, especially when it's attacking ice cubes. I knew it would come on, but wasn't expecting it at that second with that intensity. I was reading some other instructions and jumped about a foot in the air.

Wonderful - it's all blended and ready. I got ready to poor it into a glass and it was stuck solid. I give it a little shake, it all comes loose and makes a mess, all over the cabinet, all over the floor.

I get it washed up. I shake, shake, shake the whipped cream and get ready to put it on top. Well, when I pushed the nozzle, it went everywhere. I probably need to look in the mirror and see if it is in my hair. Clean up that mess and finally have my frappachino.

It's pretty good, but it will take practice to get all the proportions really right. Practice makes perfect, and since I have my own machine, I'll have plenty of chances, I guess.

So, Angie come on over, we'll make a frappahcinos and catch up!

Friday, December 25, 2009

I survived Christmas

Call me Scrooge. Call me the Grinch. But, I have to say that I am so glad that in four hours Christmas will have officially come and gone.

All went well this Christmas, but the holiday season has lost its shiny luster that it had as a child. At least it has for me. I think I was not the only one this year judging by the number of houses that were lit up this year.

Lots of factors weigh in on that, but who really needs to get into all that?

On Wednesday night, Mom, Dad and I went to see our annual movie. We go once a year - at Christmas. We saw The Blind Side which really was an awesome movie. A feel good movie. A movie with a happy ending. A movie without a love story or a bunch of smut.

Yesterday, Brian, Julie, Paige, Peyton, Madison, Layton and I gathered with my parents for lunch and our gift opening extravaganza.

I have my own frappachino machine now! YEA!!!

This morning, I got up and ate breakfast with my parents, then Mom and I went by Eula Mae's to take her something before heading up to Grandmother's.

Everyone was at my Grandmother's with the exception of Dad (sort of long story) and all of Brian and Julie's kids for 10 minutes, before Brian and Julie had to head back home for another gathering in the other direction. They had to leave right after Kyle and Annie got there. All the grandchildren actually made it this year into the obligatory picture out in the front yard where we had to stare at the sun, obligatorily.

Once Mom and I got back home, I helped her take down the Christmas tree (once the festivities are over, we are a family that takes the decorations on down).

I do have to say that the thing I am most thankful for this year is that I didn't put up any decorations, so now, I don't have to take any down and put them away. That's a huge pain.

Tomorrow, I'll have to post a picture of the grandkids and a funny story to go along with it. Maybe I can find a picture from about 10 years back to post with it. Not sure where it might be. Anyway, that's your tease.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Texans no longer have to dream of a white Christmas

Amazingly, many Texans are no longer having to dream of a white Christmas. They have one. We don't have it here in our exact "neck of the woods", but I have seen some flurries. According to Pete Delkus of Channel 8, that has not happened since 1975 in the Dallas area - a year before my time.

I'll share more about my Christmas Eve day with you in the next couple of days, but tonight, I share with you a few paragraphs from the book that I am currently reading, The Soul Hunter by Melanie Wells.

It is very ironic that the weather situation of the day matches what I was just reading. If you aren't from Texas, this describes what we experience as far as "winter weather". If you are from Texas, I think you will get a laugh out of this description.

Once or twice a year maybe, during what Texans call a "hard freeze," which means anything below twenty-five degrees, we get freezing rain or snow or a mixture of the two. Every exposed surface ends up coated with a glassy sheet of ice.

Since Dallas has no winter storm equipment--snowplows, sanding trucks, and road salt are not urgent budget items in a city south of the Red River--roads are essentially impassable until the ice melts. The city simply shuts down to wait it out.

This sort of event in Dallas excites a uniformly childish sense of glee. Meteorologists, suddenly thrust blinking into the spotlight and flushed with self-importance, chart the impending storm with morbid enthusiasm. A gossipy string of warnings is passed along by everyone you met the day before. And after the ice storm has arrived, everyone pops out of bed at 5:00 a.m. and flips on TVs and radios to see if schools and businesses have been shut down for a longed-for snow day. If our luck is good, we get to go back to bed, sleep late, and then start a pot of chili sometime that afternoon.

Now, I'm not sure if we will be able to make it over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house tomorrow or not. That is still to be decided based on the weather. If it's icy and such between here and Kaufman, I may be just sitting in the comfort of my own home with a bunch of blankets in the living room. I'm still lacking the weather stripping that I asked my dad for 2-3 weeks ago. Well, I have it, but it's not on the door frame.

For now, I bid you go and get nestled all snug in your beds, get your visions of sugar-plums (whatever those really are) dancing in your heads, and get ready for Santa if he hasn't already visited you like he has me. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giving it her all

This isn't the world's funniest video or anything, but it's the only one I got updated last night. My dear Peypey is quite intense during this song. She's the one on the end of the top row next to the boy in blue. She was very serious about singing her heart out with all she had.

I have to run for now. Going to see our annual Christmas movie in Waxahachie. My parents go one time a year - at Christmas. Hoping to see The Blindside.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

But you promised...

I know that I promised some video from the Christmas program, but my computer is not wanting to cooperate. Meanwhile, I'm getting frustrated with computer problems and am ready to call it a night. Now, the video is uploaded to Vimeo, but has to be processed, so it's going to be a while before I can embed it.

But since I'm off for several days, I'll have more time to blog. Don't abandon my poor little blog.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Did she just say Cheez-Wiz?

In the spirit of trying to blog consistently, here's a quick run down of the past few days. I promise some video footage as soon as I get a chance to load it to Vimeo or something.

Thursday night was the annual Mildred Elementary Christmas program. I'm a terrible person, but I went there out of obligation because I'm really not sure that I was entertained. OK, I probably was while Peyton was singing with gusto. Very narrow plastic seats made my bum quite numb and we were in pain by the time we got to stand up.

Last night, I went to a Christmas party hosted by some out of town friends. I thankfully avoided traffic, had a great time and spent the night in Lewisville at my Aunt Lois' so that I didn't have to drive all the way home late last night.

This morning, I took her to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, witnessed her feed 19 feral neighborhood cats in her backyard and headed on home.

I missed a phone call from Mom's cell phone by 9 minutes, right before I left Lewisville, and tried about every 10 minutes all the way home to call her back, but it went straight to voicemail every single time. (I found out later her battery died.)

I spent an hour and a half over at Mom's Aunt Eula Mae's house after running an errand for her. Dad said, "good grief, you've done your good deeds this weekend." That was kind of rude, just because I spent time with two family members over the age of 80 does not mean that I did a good deed.

I went to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials and found a jar of Cheez-Whiz. Haven't seen that in forever, but just the other day I was wanting to make nachos. Is that random or what?

And now, I'm really, really sleepy and procrastinating in doing something I really need to be doing. I'll get it done tomorrow.

Between getting in late, and then not being able to sleep well (I never do in that bed at Lois' house for whatever reason, and I got hot, and can't sleep hot), I am so thankful I get to sleep in my own bed tonight, and sleep well, I will. --- That would be the world's longest run-on sentence with too many commas and ().

For now, me and my ADD self am turning off the computer and probably taking a nap before I can find the energy to take a shower and go to bed.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve to all, and to all, a good night!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Three Days of Christmas

I've not had time to blog the past couple of days, and the next couple are going to be busy too. So, for now, I simply present two hilarious videos for you, courtesy of Jesse Rice.



Monday, December 14, 2009

The Christmas Secret

Did you happen to catch the Christmas trilogy on Lifetime yesterday? The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Blessing, and The Christmas Hope all aired straight through (twice actually, I think) on TV yesterday. All three are New York Times best-selling books by Donna VanLiere.

I did actually work on The Christmas Blessing when it released and remember pitching that the movie was going to be made and aired on TV the next year. Since that book release, I've bought each of Donna's Christmas releases as they have come out. Christmas stories of people with struggles, but with happy endings, just in time for Christmas.

Here's the cover copy:

When a struggling young single mother saves the life of an elderly woman, she sets into motion a series of events that will test her strength, loyalty, and determination, all the while setting her on the path to finding true love.

Life isn't easy or simple for Christine Eisley, the hardworking mother of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley. Her ex-husband provides little, if any, child support and makes life difficult for Christine by using the children as pawns. She works long hours as a waitress to make ends meet, but her job is in jeopardy because she’s often late to work due to the unreliable teenaged sitters she’s forced to use. When Christine saves the life of a woman who works in Wilson’s department store, the owner of Wilson’s wants to find her, to thank her, but Christine has disappeared, losing another job once again. He sets his grandson, Jason, to the task of finding the mysterious “Christy.” Jason, an accountant by trade who has lost his job to downsizing, thinks he is “above” working at Wilson’s. Soon, he discovers that this new task gives him more than he bargains for.

The Christmas Secret is a novel for anyone who wants to see how love is a gift that keeps giving back; that hope is a treasure that never runs dry, and that faith is a miracle that is reborn with each new day.

Audra talking again:

You can read this one if you haven't read any of the other books in the series, but many of the characters from the past four books are included in this one. I found myself wishing I'd started back at the first book to remember their stories as they wandered in and out of this book. Of course, having Lifetime on yesterday reminded me of a lot of what happened in the other books (except knowing they changed part of one of the stories for TV).

Anyway, get your Christmas read on!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good to go... I hope

So after I took Mom's car on my expedition on Tuesday, I was even more glad I did so on Wednesday.

After I tried to get Dad to assist me in shopping for tires last week, he decided to do so this week and ordered them on Wednesday. Well, Wednesday night after church, I came home, U-turned in front of my house at the mailbox and turned off the car to get my key out for the mailbox. I get back in and the car WILL NOT start.

I come on in the front door and call Dad who was not too pleased to come tend to my problem at the time. After doing the manly "get in and start it" along with the "are you giving it gas?", he finally got it started and around to the back. He had some real problems trying to start it again. So, he took my car, and I ended up with his truck for the next day. Musical cars, you see.

On Thursday, my tires came in, so we went to put those on, and decided to work on my other problem by cleaning the battery connections. Once they were clean, WOULD NOT start at all. He had to go for a battery. Luckily it was just the battery. I was almost convinced it was something more so because of its contrariness.

So on one day, I ended up with four new tires and a new battery. Just what I wanted for Christmas. Actually, I'll end up paying for tires and my Dad took pity on my situation in regards for the battery. Hopefully, now, my car will be running as usual on tires with tread and a battery with juice.

Sorry guys! That's the sum of excitement for second half of the week.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What are you listening to?

Today was the last vacation day that I had to take before the end of the year. I had something I had to do up around Arlington today, so I was going to try to accomplish my Christmas shopping today (another story).

So, I was about to head out when I looked and noticed one of my tires had lost some air again. I was going to put more air in it at the gas station at Brookshire's. Someone was already there airing up all of their tires at the free air pump. OK, fine, I'll go to the Shell station, it's on the way out of town. I get there and didn't four quarters to buy air. Best not to worry with it anyway, so I call Mom to borrow her car. Then I had to find a parking spot at the courthouse to get her car - a pain in the butt. Play musical keys with her because she needed to get into her house at lunch because the garage opener was in her car, yada, yada, yada.

I had to drive back over to my car to get some stuff out that I was taking with me. I thought at this rate I was never going to make my way out of town.

I've driven her car enough that I'm used to it. BUT... driving someone else's car is never the same as driving your own.

When I drive a distance especially, I am a chronic radio changer. Don't like that song, flip it over. I hate that singer, flip it over. Massive station changer, I tell you. And I'm used to my radio controls being on my steering wheel, even though one button isn't going through my presets just right.

And of course, Mom isn't going to have the same stations on her buttons that I do. I have no problem with that. At least they would be something to flip through. She has XM radio on her car, and listens to it alot. That's all good except I'm not used to the stations on there and scanning through is a pain. I can deal with listening to FM radio, and was trying to listen to FM radio. Except on 11 out of 12 of her presets on her FM stations are one station.

That one station was 99.1 FM in Dallas. A Spanish station. That's 11 of the 12 FM presets with Spanish music and the only word my mom knows in Spanish is "no."

That almost drove me nuts. So not only was I having to scan through, I was having to reach over to the radio itself and flip through. Which was a little bit of a stretch at times. Annoying more than anything.

After trying to get my dad to get my tires looked at last week, trading cars with my mom led him to decide to go get tire prices... what I tried to get him to do last week. *sigh*

Although I'd rather spend money on something besides tires right now, I hope I get them on before next Friday night. I have a Christmas party out of town to go to and don't need to go on my tires. If I have to take Mom's car again, I need to figure out how to program her radio.

On another note, I had a friend once who was absolutely convinced that every song in Spanish had the word "corazon" in it. If it means heart or love, I guess he was correct, but I can't hear a song in Spanish without thinking about that.

In high school Spanish class, we sang this stupid song about the colors. My classmates knew I hated it (it just got on my nerves), so they would sing it to me all the time just to be mean to me.

Azul,
Blanco,
Rojo,
Violeta.

Amarillo,
Anaranjado,
Verde y
Rosa.

Of course, one of the other songs was, "quiero, quiero, quiero el bistec." I thought it was dumb too because I never wanted a steak.

The one phrase I can really still remember after two years of high school Spanish and four semesters in college is "me duele la cabeza" or "I have a headache".

"La cabeza, me duele la cabeza. La cabeza, llamarle el doctor."

OK, that's your Spanish lesson for the day. That's all I've got.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I would just like to add, it was my idea!

Have you ever noticed that God gives some people a better sense of direction than He does others?

I'm not talking spiritual direction of purpose and right vs. wrong (though I think He does that too). I'm talking about right vs. left and north, south, east and west.

My dad has said that I have a better sense of direction than most anyone he knows. I've even had co-workers that had to take a detour on the way back to their metroplex homes call me to figure out where they have gone off course. Why? I'm not really sure. It really could have just been because I was at my desk and could have pulled up MapQuest.

My father's other child was not so fortunate. Let's put a positive spin on this. Brian has seen much more than he would have ever seen had he not gotten lost as frequently as he has.

I'm never really surprised when he calls me while wandering around the DFW area asking how to get back home. A couple of years ago, Paige was on a competitive cheer squad that had meets up in the Dallas area. One particular Sunday morning, I was at a convention in Philadelphia. My phone rings and it is my brother. Hmmm... what's up with that? I don't think he realized I was in Philly, but he would have set my phone off in church had I not been up there.

"Uh, I'm in Garland, and I can't find my way back to the road to get back home. I'm headed towards Rockwall or something."

"Well, I'm not exactly sure where you are, but you are definitely headed the wrong way. Do you know what road you are on?"

A couple of weeks later, he had gone to Denton or somewhere and got lost around Texas Stadium on the way home.

I'm always willing to try to help, but when the person on the other end doesn't really know where he is or what road he is on, it's kind of, sort of, really hard to tell them where they need to go.

That all happened in November. Every year my parents struggle to figure out what they are going to get Brian for Christmas. I suggested, "you know, Brian is always getting lost. Why don't you buy him a GPS?"

Oh, they might have looked around, but didn't seriously do so.

Move forward a year. Brian relays a couple of other stories about getting lost. Christmas comes. TomTom, Magellan and Garmin all vie for shoppers attention. My parents and I go to Radio Shack in Corsicana. We go to Wal-Mart. We look at Radio Shack in Lewisville. We almost have a throw down in middle of Radio Shack in Lewisville because they just won't make up their minds. I say that one might not have all the features, but it does the main job it needs to do since they were out of the model that was Dad's first choice.

Buy the poor guy a GPS already. But, no...

Fast forward to this year. Last month, Brian and Julie were going to take the kids up to "Ice" at the Gaylord Texan. Brian makes the comment, "I hope I don't get lost."

Later that day, I say, "did you hear Brian comment that he hoped he wouldn't get lost. I really think you should get him that GPS." My parents both agreed that they heard him. They briefly looked last weekend they said, but evidently weren't too serious about buying.

So, my parents took Paige and Peyton to Granbury for a Christmas show. For some reason, Brian was in Ft. Worth this morning. Mom calls Brian to let him know they were on their way back. Brian was lost in Ft. Worth.

On their way home, they stopped in Waxahachie and finally bought Brian a GPS.

I kind of predict this to be the way opening Christmas presents will go down...

Brian opens up his GPS. "I've been wanting one of these for three years. Can't you people take a hint every time I say that I hope I don't get lost?"

I chime in, "I've been telling them to get you one for three years, but no one ever listens to me!"

Now granted, I might be getting the calls, "how do I work this thing?"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Who do I Talk to?

What does Audra buy with her birthday gift card from Barnes & Noble? Well, this was number one on my list. Who do I Talk to? by Neta Jackson, one of my author friends. (I really need to come back up and see you Neta - will you go to the Sears Tower sky deck with me?) This is the second book in the Yada Yada House of Hope series which "spun off" of her best-selling Yada Yada Prayer Group Series. (I worked with Neta on PR for the first three YYPG books.)

I actually finished Who do I Talk to? last Saturday, but am just now writing the review because I'm somewhat lazy. I was determined to finish reading the book once I started between cooking last Wednesday. I snuck moments reading on Thanksgiving, read before heading to Ft. Worth on Friday. And I finished it instead of dusting and cleaning the house last Saturday just because I could.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the last place she ever imagined she'd be,
Gabby will discover what she's made of--and for.

Gabrielle Fairbanks knew her husband was upset with her. But she never expected him to change the locks on their Chicago penthouse, cancel her credit cards, and disappear with their two boys. Now she's literally on the streets with her elderly mother, her mom's dog...and $220 to her name.

Thank goodness she has somewhere to go--Manna House, the women's shelter where she works. But even in the bustling shelter--surrounded by residents and the Yada Yada Prayer Group--Gabby feels more alone than ever. She longs for someone she can really talk to, someone to help mend together the pieces of her broken life. Her warm-hearted lawyer seems ready to offer more than legal counsel...but is he the answer to prayer or just a pleasant distraction?

As her fragile plans fall apart, Gabby hits on a possibility so wild and wonderful it has to be one of those "God things." Something she's only seen happen to other Christians. Until now.

For everyone who loves the best-selling Yada Yada Prayer Group novels...The Yada Yada House of Hope series features familiar faces and places, with a fresh new life all its own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the first book, Gabby kind of got to me because she had some characteristics of a human doormat. As Neta promised me back at the time, Gabby did grow in this book. She becomes a stronger person through all of her struggles and finally stands up for herself. Gabby has a pretty tough go of it, but if I tell you what, I'd mess it up for you.

BUT... don't pick up this book without reading the first in the series, Where do I Go?. I think you might get lost. Actually, I would tell you to start with The Yada Yada Prayer Group book one, then 2-7, then start this series to really be in the loop. Having read them all leading up to this one, I knew all of the characters that were in the first series. You could probably just start with this series and be OK because you didn't know what you were missing and Neta fills you in on who everyone is.

I can't wait to see how things turn out for her in Who do I Lean on? next summer.

And reading the book made me want to go Chicago again. But, as cold as it is here right now, I can imagine what it's like in Chicago and think it would be better to wait for summer.

Find out more about Neta Jackson and her books at www.daveneta.com.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Will it snow?

It's cold in Texas. Imagine that!

Three of my co-workers that live further north of here were all admiring snowflakes yesterday. The rest of us witnessed rain. BUT, some people saw snowflakes before Christmas!

And the weather people are calling for more snow by the weekend. And snow in Houston at that! To me, this seems very strange for December. The last time we saw real snow, it was in April a few years ago because Texas weather is just that wacky. Normally, if we are going to get sleet, snow, slain, sneet or anything like that, it's in February or maybe March.

Just for the history buffs or weather geeks that may be reading this rather pointless blog tonight, 33 years ago, it snowed within the first half of November - a good bit I am told. One of my uncles had to volunteer to have tire chains ready in case my mom went into labor with me.

An author I work with wrote a children's fantasy book focusing on the weather. In a Q&A, he basically said that while people usually think that chatting about the weather is a minor deal, it's actually a much bigger conversation. In the context of what he was talking about, this is true.

However, on my blog tonight, it's just pointless ramblings so that I won't go three days without a blog entry.

So... will it snow, will it snow, will it snow?

Monday, November 30, 2009

John Blase's Touching Wonder

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas

David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of the The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




John Blase’s work includes Living the Questions and Living the Letters Bible-study series, the Worldviews reference book (TH1NK), Real Life Stuff for Couples, and The Message Children’s Bible. A former pastor, John currently edits by day and writes by night. He and his wife, Meredith, have three children and make their home in Colorado.


Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764656
ISBN-13: 978-1434764652

AND NOW...an excerpt:


Three

Angelic Visitor


Luke 1.26–38


In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:


Good morning!

You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,

Beautiful inside and out!

God be with you.


She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.


He will be great,

be called ‘Son of the Highest.’

The Lord God will give him

the throne of his father David;

He will rule Jacob’s house forever—

no end, ever, to his kingdom.”


Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”


The angel answered,


The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

the power of the Highest hover over you;

Therefore, the child you bring to birth

will be called Holy, Son of God.


“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”


And Mary said,


Yes, I see it all now:

I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.

Let it be with me

just as you say.


Then the angel left her.


Gabriel


The theologians have rendered us mindless God-slaves, wisps of cloudy wings, doing nothing but the bidding of the Mighty One. Theologians. There is so much they do not know.


I found her just as He said she would be found: sitting on her bedding, barefooted, knees pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped tightly around them, chin resting on her knee-tops. I saw why she had gained the favor of the Mighty One. I liked this daughter-of-Eve-to-bethe-mother-of-God.


“But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”


I expected this. But unlike that old priest’s, hers was not the doubting of a skeptic but rather the wondering of a child.


“But how? I can’t see it.”


“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you. Mary, you have nothing to fear.” The Mighty One had expressly said, “Herald the news, Gabriel. Don’t report it.” I would have liked to elaborate further, but Mary would have to live out the details of my news in days to come. Truths unlived are not truths.


Then she paused and looked away. I have spoken to many of God’s children, and their eyes are always transfixed on me. They should be. I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God. But Mary’s gaze wandered for a moment. But what I initially took for a distracted mind was rather a devoted heart.


Her eyes returned to me. “Let it be with me.” Ah, the Mighty One had chosen well. Her words were not

resigned, but faith-full. The faith of a child. Of such is the Mighty One’s kingdom.


“Cousin Elizabeth? Really? Old Elizabeth? But how?”


I laughed.


“Nothing, you see, is impossible with God. Mary, you have nothing to fear. I have told you all you need to know for now. You are more ready than you realize, stronger than you know. God is with you. Now I must go.”


But I did not want to go. Faith is rare, at least true faith. Yes, the word is often used, but the reality is hard

to find. Yet here I found it, in an earthen vessel surrounded by an earthen room. I liked Mary.


I left her just as He said I would: barefooted, sitting on her bedding, knees pulled up to her chest, arms

wrapped tightly around them, chin resting on her kneetops. She looked older now. Human eyes would not

recognize this, but mine have seen much.


The Mighty One had revealed glimpses to me, what days ahead would hold for this glorious girl. Her cousin’s leaping womb. Joseph’s broad shoulders. The back of a borrowed burro. Herod’s jealous-red face. The cries of the innocent. The breath of stable animals. The agony of pushing the Mighty One out into this world.


I found myself praying for the favored one. Mary had so much to carry.


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Touching Wonder by John Blase. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Petunia the Pig Caller

At Cracker Barrel on Friday night, I found something that I wanted to get for Paige, but Dad said if I got it, she'd never speak to me again. I'll have to back up the story before I tell you what it was.

On Wednesday, Brian had called Paige about showing an animal this coming spring in the youth expo. Paige's friend Emalee had already gotten her pig. Brian talked to Paige about getting her a pig too. So, Paige had been talking about getting her a pig.

Paige now has this spacer/expander contraption in her mouth so that she can get braces in a couple of weeks. She also had some sinus issues so when she started making this noise she started making, I don't think she realized what sound she was making. I asked her, "what is this noise you are making?"

Dad said, "she's working on calling her pig."

I said, "that's it! It does sound like a pig call!"

She did not like that we decided this, yet she kept making this stupid little noise that annoyed the heck out of us.

Paige also didn't like my idea that she should name her pig "Petunia" if it happens to be a female pig. She said that was the worst name in the world. Granted, I hated it when Dad went through a phase of calling me Petunia, but in my defense, Petunia was Porky Pig's girlfriend. We had been making random pig jokes on through the day along with her pig call.

So later, Dad told Peyton not to eat or drink something after Paige because of germs they had. Dad made some reference to the Swine flu. I laughed and said, "I think Paige already has it. Oh, she doesn't get the joke Dad..."

"Yes, I did and you are mean."

Mom says, "you better go apologize."

"Dad started it," I proclaimed as he and I continued laughing.

I did go and apologize even though she knew we were joking.

Well, at Cracker Barrel, they had this little stuffed pig that snorted out the tune of "Jingle Bells". I picked it up, took it over to Dad and said, "does this sound like anyone you know?"

Dad started laughing and some woman working there said, "be nice!" Dad told me that Paige would never speak to me again if I got that for her. Mom agreed it would not go over too well.

I think little "Petunia the Pig Caller" would have to love it because I gave it to her.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Home for the Holidays at Bass Hall

My mom received an offer for some tickets to Bass Hall and had a certain number of vouchers to exchange for certain shows. So, last night, we went to the "Home for the Holidays" show featuring the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

All the "Black Friday" shopping I did yesterday is late in the afternoon in Waxahachie on the way up (where my dad had to return something to Belk that he and mom got the week before) to Ft. Worth. Oh, and we stopped at Home Goods in Midlothian. We were there around 4-5 PM, a good 12 hours after the masses were in stores.

We decided to do the Friday night show, but didn't realize that the Ft. Worth downtown lighting and Christmas parade were taking place last night. We got stuck in traffic and could not get to our parking garage for Bass Hall. We were driving around block, and block, and waiting for police direction and so forth and so on. I was driving at the time, but my eyeballs started floating from too much Diet Coke at Cracker Barrel where my mom purchased sock monkey salt and pepper shakers for the Christmas season. (I admit they were quite cute.) I had enough of what could be a long time of sitting in traffic. I called for a Chinese fire drill and made Dad get out and drive.

I ran on up the block to Bass Hall where they asked if I had my ticket. Normally, they don't make you show a ticket until you are going in the doors to the concert hall to be seated. I told the usher that the people I was with had my ticket and were stuck in the traffic. I was just heading down to the restrooms. Heck, I wasn't going to argue with the guy. I probably would have pushed him down. I know, I know, TMI.

Anyway, it was a great show with the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Southwestern Seminary Master Chorale and the Dorothy Shaw Bell Choir. I don't think I had ever actually seen a bell choir before. At the end when they had an audience sing-along, Santa Claus made an appearance and fake snow floated down from the ceiling.

Great show, but I'm no closer to being in the Christmas state of mind than I was before. Unfortunately. No, I don't think I am a trying too hard. I'm trying to be open about it. And the fact that Mom had a lot of her Christmas decorations out and her tree up didn't make me want to put mine up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Decision time?

The leftovers are in the fridge. The misery from eating too much has settled in. The football games are over. Thanksgiving has almost completely come to a close.

Normally "Black Friday" means I'm missing out on all the "must buys" because I'm sleeping late. Nothing is worth being at the doors to any store at 4 AM, and I find it ridiculous that anyone else would think it is worth it.

It usually means it's the day to put up the Christmas tree. I'm thinking I may just skip all the deckin' of my halls this year. Oh, I think it's a combination of several things, but I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to put up any decorations this year. And that's really strange for me because I normally put up three trees--a big one in the living room and a smaller one in each bedroom along with lights in all the windows.

I've broken my personal rule of not listening to the station that starts playing Christmas music all day every day starting early in November--even suggested Christi tuning into it since we were tired of the same 10 songs that a local Christian station was playing. So, it's not like I'm not doing something to try to stir up jolly-ness.

I don't think I'm the only person struggling with not really a dread, but a bah-humbugish approach to the holiday season. It's way too much trouble to put any of it up if you don't have it up a month ahead of Christmas, so let's see if I make a final decision this weekend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I will be sleeping GOOD tonight

Without a doubt, I will sleep well tonight.

Peyton, bless her little heart, has been wanting to spend the night over at my house for months. Every time I have seen her, just about, she's stated, "I want to spend the night at your house. Tonight." It's always been a school/work night, so that hasn't worked. Last night she had her chance.

I love she and her sister more than they will ever know. However, I hate to sleep in the same bed with either one of them. You wake up battered and bruised normally from having a foot to the head or elbow to the chin. (Peyton has been known to sleep perpendicular to anyone else in the bed with her.) Not only that, they make noises. Lots of noises. (Talking, mumbling, snoring...) They also have the uncanny ability and amazing tendency to be able to find the exact middle of the bed. I've witnessed this numerous times.

Before we even got to sleep, while watching a movie, I told Peyton she was going to have to move towards the other side - I would move with her, but she had to start off on the other side of center. She did, but she ends up laying her head in my lap and that's how she fell asleep. Once we got situated so that I could lay down, every time I moved all night, she moved with me to be in contact at all times.

And oh, my word. I thought the last time I heard Paige grit and grind her teeth it was bad. Peyton sounded like she was trying to crunch gravel with her teeth. My teeth have started hurting from clinching my jaws at night. I can only imagine what it feels like to wake up after crunching gravel all night.

So, I've wasted enough time goofing off on the computer. I am about to go to bed where I guarantee a good night's sleep. I might be awake in time to finish putting together the dressing for Thanksgiving lunch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon

And here's some comments on the latest book that I finished reading this morning -- Debbie Fuller Thomas' Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. This is one of the books I found for $1 at Mardel's a couple of weeks ago. I was looking for books that looked interesting and this one caught my attention.

The back cover sounded interesting:

Switched at birth -- and then switched back
When Marty Winslow's thirteen-year-old daughter dies of a devastating genetic disease, she discovers the truth--her precious middle child had been switched at birth. After learning that her actual biological daughter was recently orphaned, she decides to fight for custody. Winning the court case was the easy part.
This still-grieving, single mom is torn between memories and realities. And wants desperately for god to heal her family.
For Andie, tall and blonde like Marty, being forced to live with strangers is just one more reason not to trust anyone. Her soul is as beat up as the rundown Blue Moon Drive-In the family owns. But Tuesday night is family night at the Blue Moon. And as Andie's hopes fade, healing comes from the last place she wanted or expected--the hurting family and loving God she fought so hard to resist.
It wasn't until I was looking for the book cover to post that I realized it was a finalist for the 2009 Christy Award in the Contemporary Stand Alone category and for the ACFW Book of the Year. Now that I see that, I do remember the book being a Christy nominee. (Strangely enough, I've just started reading another $1 book that was one of the three Christy nominees in the same category, Lisa Samson's Embrace Me. The category winner, Dogwood by Chris Fabry is on my Amazon wish list.) I can understand why it was nominated for the award.
Though I can understand why it was nominated, I have to be honest. I didn't like it. To me, it was a real downer. Of course, being 13 and finding out your parents weren't your real parents or the daughter you lost to a horrifying disease wasn't your real daughter isn't going to be a theme that's really happy. I get that. It's what Lifetime movies are made of.
I just didn't expect it to be so discouraging for 95% of the book. The chapters alternate between Andie, the daughter, and Marty, the mother, telling the story. Some events overlap to see what happened from both perspectives. You would think in a span of 7 or 8 months that they might possibly have a real conversation to clarify some things.
Marty is too scared of doing anything that will push Andie away. Andie doesn't want to get to close because she's bound and determined she's going back to her grandparents once they sell the mobile home in the retirement community.
The younger and older sisters are on the extremes of trying to get Andie to fit in. And everyone in the family, Andie included, is walking on egg shells all the time. (Relatives on both sides are estranged in a strangely similar way.)
I'm glad I got the book off the $1 shelf. I just wouldn't recommend it myself.
That makes back to back books that I wasn't really crazy about. I have an order coming from Amazon and one from Barnes and Noble. I know that I will like one book in particular, so I'm ready for it to get here. You'll just have to wait to find out which one it is.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

In case you were wondering if I had anything special planned for my birthday today, the answer is no.

Jenny took me to lunch at OMI, and my parents got me pizza for dinner (which actually is a special occurrence), and that was it. ...other than getting the new sheets I wanted and a Barnes & Noble gift card that I've already used.

Mom called me and left me message this morning, Dad emailed me, I received a couple of birthday cards, I got a couple of other emails and lots of Facebook birthday wishes. That was it.

That was intentional on my part though. Long story. Though it's not an age thing, I was really trying to ignore my birthday and make it a non-event. I think I achieved that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Unfaithful by Gary and Mona Shriver

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:


Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity

David C. Cook; Revised edition (November 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORs:


After going through therapy to save their marriage from a devastating affair, Gary and Mona Shriver searched in vain for another couple who could offer them tangible hope that they could heal. Responding to this need in their community, the Shrivers cofounded Hope & Healing Ministries, Inc., an adultery recovery peer support ministry. They are members of the Association of Marriage and Family Ministries (AMFM) and participants of the AMFM ministry team for Reconciling Troubled Marriages. The Shrivers are also members of the Stanislaus County Healthy Marriage Coalition in California.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; Revised edition (November 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765334
ISBN-13: 978-1434765338

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Revelation


He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light. Job 12:22


Gary’s Story


It must have been about 9:30 p.m. as I pulled into the driveway. Everything looked dark and settled down for the evening. As I stopped the car, my heart pounded in my chest like never before. For a moment I wondered if I might be having a heart attack. I took a deep breath, got out of the car, and headed for the back door. I unlocked it and walked onto the back porch. The house was quiet. The three boys were in bed. The only light was a dim glow from the master bedroom at the end of the hall.


Our bedroom. I wondered if that would be the case in the aftermath of the bomb I was about to drop. I stopped and asked myself, Should I really go through with this? This could be the end of everything I know as my life: my family, my church, my business, my friends. Not one area of my life would be unaffected by the event about to occur. Should I tell her or just keep living the lie?


No, I couldn’t continue deceiving her. I had just spent the last two hours in my senior pastor’s office confessing my sin. I confessed the double life I had been living for the last few years. I couldn’t believe his first response. “Are you serious?” he asked. “I can never tell when you’re kidding me. Are you really serious?” I sat in his office with tears streaming down my face, and he asked if I was serious.


He also didn’t want it to be true.


I just nodded, and he let it sink in. We talked and prayed, and he kept looking at me. I knew what was going through his mind. He was saying great words of spiritual wisdom and offering encouragement, but behind his words, shock and disbelief were apparent. He referred to spiritual leaders who had fallen. He said, “This is happening all around us.”


At that point, I could only think, That doesn’t make this any less ugly. I knew he was trying to encourage and comfort me in my darkest hour, but the darkness that enveloped me was beyond penetration. He and I both knew that everything was not all right and that it wasn’t going to be.


He asked if Mona knew. I shook my head no. He looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Do you intend to tell her?”


I nodded.


“When?”


“Right now,” I said. “I need to go right now.”


It had taken all I could muster to meet my pastor and confess my dark and horrible behavior. I had to complete my confession. And I had to do it now. On my way home I thought of other men I knew who had committed adultery and who hadn’t said a thing to their wives. They seemed to have gotten away with it. But a Bible verse kept ringing in my ears: “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).


And that it had. Earlier that afternoon the recording studio engineer at my production company had confronted me with this “problem” he thought I had. He came quoting Matthew 18:15–17, saying that if I didn’t come clean, he would go to my pastor with the affair he believed I was having.


Affair. What a fluffy word. It sounds so cheery and acceptable. Let’s call it what it really is: adultery. Black-hearted, not caring anything about anybody else, completely self-centered, the absolute epitome of selfishness. Adultery. And I was an adulterer. Finally after years of my wrestling with Him, God had brought me to a point of brokenness. I just couldn’t go on like this anymore. I had to tell Mona. The only way I could ever hope to save my marriage was to be totally honest. God was chasing me. I had to deal with it now!


I walked into the bedroom. The lamp on her bedside table glowed. There she lay, leaning back on her pillow propped up against the wall, reading. She looked up and said, “How was your meeting?” Just about then our eyes met. “Honey? What’s wrong?”


I hadn’t rehearsed anything. I didn’t know what to say. I sat down on the bed next to her and looked in her eyes.


“You’re scaring me,” she said.


I started to cry.


“Now you’re really scaring me.”


“I’ve betrayed you,” I whispered.


Her eyes glazed over. She seemed to stare through me. “What?”


“I’ve been unfaithful to you,” I repeated.


She went limp. I thought for a second she was going to pass out. Her stare went from distant to direct and cold.


“Who?” she demanded.


I said the name.


“I knew it,” she said.


But I knew she hadn’t known. I tried to hold her. She started to hold me but then pushed me away. She was shell-shocked.


“How long?” she asked.


I whispered, “A long time.”


“How long?”


“A couple of years.”


“Years? Ever since you started working with her?”


“Almost.”


Her lip quivered.


As her world crumbled around her feet, my heart raced again. This time I could feel it in my temples. How could I say more? How can I, Lord? I can’t tell her everything. Yet God was insistent: Tell her!


I felt like Moses must have. I can’t, Lord. I can’t!


Tell her now! God demanded.


I had to tell her everything. God burned into my heart that if our marriage were to have any chance at all, it had to be with a clean slate. No more lies. No more secrets. I had to tell her everything.


“There’s more.”


“More? What do you mean more?”


“There was a one-night stand with another woman.”


I honestly did think she was going to pass out at that point. Her eyes rolled back into her head, and then things got eerie.


I knew at that moment our lives had changed forever, and I didn’t know what to expect in the aftermath of my horrible revelation. After we sat for what seemed to be an eternity, her blank stare suddenly focused, and the flurry of questions began. “Do you love her?”


“No, I love you.”


“Do you want a divorce?”


“No, I want to stay with you. Do you want a divorce?”


“I don’t know what I want. Why did you do this?”


I didn’t know how to answer that question. I didn’t know how I’d gotten where I was. I explained there had been no pursuit. I said that it was a friendship that had gotten out of control, and that I had felt trapped. I had never stopped loving Mona.


The blank stare was back. I kept trying to explain. She didn’t want to hear—or couldn’t hear—anything more. After a while she started asking me about the second woman.


“It was a one-night thing. Honestly, she threw herself at me. She made up her mind to have me. She set her sights, and she was going to have her way.”


What was I saying? It was all the truth, but what was I trying to do here? Justify my adultery? My second incidence of adultery at that!


I shut my mouth and started to cry again. I didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She didn’t want anything from me. I was dying inside. I needed to know what she was thinking. She was in shock. Was she thinking of leaving? Was she going to ask me to leave? What was going on in her head?


It seemed there was nothing more to say. I offered to sleep on the couch, but she declined my offer. She explained that if we were going to try to work this through, she saw no sense in my sleeping on the couch.


If. Such a small word to hold one’s whole future.


It was quiet and still, but I knew the explosion was yet to come. She stared blankly into the corner of the ceiling. I lay there, knowing her mind was whirling. I was sure her thoughts were bouncing from one horrific scenario to another, and all I could do was lie next to her and watch as her entire foundation cracked, crumbled, and fell away. Every now and then I could hear a sob escape her throat.


My God, what have I done? In a matter of seconds I have ripped the heart from the woman I love. The bride of my youth. Will she ever forgive me? Can she ever forgive me? I had no idea how much pain this would cause. If we make it through this, one thing is certain: We will never be the same again.


God, please forgive me.


Mona, if you can find it in your heart, please try to forgive me.



Mona’s Story


I don’t remember what book I was reading, but I do remember I never finished it. I threw it away. It would always remind me of that night.


I heard the back door open and thought, Gary’s home a little early—must have been a short meeting.


I heard him walk down the hallway. He opened the bedroom door and just stood there, staring at me.


I said something like, “How’d your meeting go?” I watched as my husband of more than nineteen years began to crumble. His body sagged as if under a heavy weight.


His eyes filled with tears and he said, “We have to talk.”


I knew something was terribly wrong and remember thinking someone had died. I wonder if it’s our pastor. He must have found out something horrible at the church meeting. Compassion overwhelmed

my heart, and I reached out my arms, inviting him in. “Oh, honey, what’s wrong?”


He came to the bed, sat down by me, and allowed me to hold him while sobs racked his body. I had never seen him like this. Through his muffled tears I heard, “I have betrayed you.”


I felt my body stiffen. A tragedy had happened, not to someone else, but to me. My mind refused to process his words. “What?”


“I have been having an affair.”


These words penetrated, and I felt my own tears rise. I heard the word come from my mouth before I realized I had even thought it:

“Who?”


Why was there no surprise when he said her name? I remember even then knowing there was really only one true possibility. I also remember other names going through my head, almost hoping he’d say one of

those instead. I had never suspected. I trusted them both implicitly. He was my husband, whom I loved and who I thought loved me. She was his coworker, a fellow church member, and the woman I had considered my best Christian friend for the past three or four years.


“How long?” I asked.


“Awhile,” he mumbled.


I began to feel the first stirring of rage. “How long?”


“A couple of years maybe.”


Not just once or even twice. Not a few weeks or even a few months! Was I a complete idiot? How could something like this go on for so long and I not even have a clue? They must have thought I was so stupid! How many times had they laughed at my naïveté?


I pulled away from him, unable to touch him, unable to do much more than breathe.


Then I heard these words: “There’s more.”


More? More than the destruction of my life, my family, my church, my home? More?


“I also had a one-night stand with another woman.” Then he named her, a twenty-year-old single mother and non-Christian with whom we’d had business dealings.


“She came over one night uninvited when you were gone.”


Here? In my house? Nothing was sacred. Every aspect of my life was involved. My home. The church where I always sat with my best friend. Gary’s production business where I worked part-time. Even the hospital where I worked as a nurse was filled with people who crossed over into these aspects of my life.


I was nauseous. Repulsed. This was something horrible men did. Not my Gary! Not the man I had always jokingly said I’d have to catch in bed naked before I’d ever believe he’d be unfaithful. The man couldn’t lie for beans.


Gary was not the man I had thought he was, but I was no longer sure who I was either. For that matter, who were we as a couple? Were we a couple?


I looked at him and froze. This was the man I’d been married to for almost twenty years. He’d been my lover, my best friend, and my confidant. My family loved him because he was so wonderful. All my friends thought he was wonderful—he did dishes, laundry, and changed diapers. I had lost count of how many times I’d been told how lucky I was.


My body was numb, wooden, overwhelmed. The weight Gary had walked into our bedroom wearing was now being shared.


“Do you love her?”


“No.”


“Do you want a divorce?”


“No.”


“Does her husband know?”


“I think she’s waiting to see if I really tell you first.”


“You have to let her go.”


“I know.”


The particulars of our conversation blur in retrospect. He told me he had gone to the church to confess to our pastor. The pastor had called in another pastor, they had all prayed, and then they sent Gary home to tell me.


He told me that the recording studio engineer had confronted him that day. He had suspected what was going on and had gone to his pastor, who advised him to confront Gary. What strength that must have taken for such a young man!


Gary said God had been preparing him for this revelation for a long time. Promise Keepers, meetings, sermons, his conscience. He had felt trapped in the relationship with his coworker for quite a while. If he broke it off, he knew the ramifications and the possibility of losing his family, his business, and his church. They had broken it off many times in the past and yet would find themselves back together. He couldn’t remember when it started, but the last time they’d been together was just three days earlier. I remembered trying to reach him that day. They had gone out of town to see a client and I’d wondered why they were so late getting back.


As I tried to pin down the time period of the affair, it became clear that it had been going on for about three years. It began shortly after she started working with us. Her marriage was in trouble and had been for a very long time. She and I had talked about it often together. I felt like such a fool. Gary and I had even discussed her vulnerability and her attractiveness before they started working together. I knew she envied our relationship, but I hadn’t realized that she had actually been wishing for Gary himself. She, as it turned out, knew better than I what my marriage was really like.


That night my life took on a new timetable: before the affair, during the affair, and after the affair. Everything during was now marred and distorted: our family trip to Disneyland, Gary and I going to

Hawaii. I recalled snippets of conversation with both Gary and my friend and suddenly heard and saw completely different things. He asked me that night if I would come to work for him fulltime at our production company and we’d rebuild our lives and the business. I was furious. How dare he! I told him I wasn’t going to give up any more of me than he’d already ripped away. I was a nurse. I was

a good nurse. I couldn’t lose that, too.


He asked me if I wanted a divorce, and I said no. What would that do to our boys? Where would I go? What would I do? We talked about counseling. To what end? I was so overwhelmed that even counseling seemed senseless. I wanted it never to have happened and a counselor couldn’t do that.


Gary told me about the night the young woman had come over and seduced him. He said it was very intentional on her part. I said that did not exonerate him. He knew that. The story of that one night stand sounded like a despicable movie.


Soon it seemed there was nothing left to talk about. Or maybe it was just that we were incapable of talking anymore. Gary reassured me that he loved me and wished he could take it all away. He asked for my forgiveness and told me he’d do anything I asked. I knew that adultery was biblical grounds for divorce, but I didn’t know if that still applied when the offender repents and asks for forgiveness.


My mind, soul, and body were exhausted by the events of the night. I knew I wanted to follow God in this, no matter where that led. I knew I needed a godly friend and felt again the pain of loss. Who would I call now that my two best friends had betrayed me?


When we went to bed, Gary asked if I wanted him to sleep somewhere else. I said no. I figured he’d been in my bed during the last three years, so what difference would it make now?


And so I clung to my edge of the bed and listened to my husband fall into a deep and restful sleep. Sleep would evade me. I would spend most of what was left of that night in the family room crying.


Gary’s weight had begun to lift. Mine had only just begun to press heavily upon me.


The Story on Revelation


That night happened in 1993. We can now say with absolute sincerity that we have fully healed from the adultery. Our marriage is strong and mutually satisfying. We have love and trust.


We refuse, however, to say that our marriage is better. We had heard “now they have a better marriage” in reference to couples who had gone through serious problems, and it only caused us more pain. We’d thought our marriage was good before the adultery. We loved each other; we were best friends. Certainly we had issues; all couples do. But our marriage prior to the adultery had value and was good. What happened to us happened to a good marriage. Most people have a hard time believing that because if they do, it makes every marriage vulnerable—including their own. Certainly there are those instances when the whys and wherefores are clear, but often all the answers we seek cannot be found. So instead we say we are wiser than we were then. We make better choices now. And we no longer believe we are invulnerable to attack. Our marriage is better only because the two people in it are now better people.


If you have picked up this book, you are probably going through, or love someone going through, the aftermath of finding out about a spouse’s adultery. Our hearts break for you, and we want you to know there is hope. Marriages can heal. We know because ours did. We know because we’ve been able to support other couples facing this anguish. We also know it will be one of the hardest things you will ever go through. We believe it would have been far easier at the time for us to split up. And we would not have been condemned for doing so. That same thing is true for many others.


We know these words seem hard to believe. When you go through this crisis, you feel as if the weight of the world is pressing down on you. Then the fiery darts from hell come faster and faster, and your shield of faith seems to offer little protection. You are fighting for your marriage with every ounce of strength you can muster until you begin to fear you’re going to lose the battle. This is where Satan wants you, and he will be faithful to keep the burners on high. Why? He wants nothing more than to see your marriage fail. He wants you to become another statistic. So let us repeat ourselves: You don’t have to give up! You can make it!


How? We want to share with you what made the difference. We were Christians when the adultery happened. We are still Christians. What we will share with you is definitely from a Christian perspective, but it is also from a practical, real-life perspective.


Is our marriage now perfect? No. We still have issues, and we’ve learned that some will remain until we get to heaven. Perhaps we’ve learned to pick our battles with more grace and wisdom. We have also learned that some battles were due to our own selfish desires and were far removed from the marriage

partnership.


We are not, nor do we claim to be, experts in anything. We have no educational or professional background to validate us. Those people are out there, and their resources are available to you. You’ll need them, too. But if you seek two ordinary believers to share their extraordinary experience, then here we are. We do not undertake this task lightly. This is not our idea of fun. In the early stages of writing, our emotions often overwhelmed us, and there were times we would leave our desks sobbing. We found ourselves crying over things we hadn’t cried over in years. Our God, however, is a great God and gracious to His people. In time we felt that we were merely observing a sad story, rather than reliving the awful past.


Getting the Most from the Rest of This Book


Terminology


Before we start sharing with you our own story and healing process, we need to establish a common language. Many have different ways of identifying people and moments in time when talking about adultery. Some are terms we wouldn’t be allowed to print here. So, to get us on the same page, we’ll define some terms and provide you with information that can help you walk through your recovery. Nothing about infidelity recovery is simple or easily explained, but there are definitely areas where, if both of you have the same understanding, you can avoid some common pitfalls.


First, the terminology for the cast of characters will be borrowed from the very practical book Torn Asunder: Recovering from an Extramarital Affair by Dave Carder:


Infidel: the one who strays and gets involved in an illicit relationship—it simply means unfaithful.


Spouse: the one married to the infidel.


Partner: the person with whom the infidel was involved.


A term we use often is revelation. This refers to the event where the infidel admits to the spouse that an illicit relationship has occurred. Sometimes the word is plural, revelations, because the full story takes more than one admission, as parts are revealed over time. Revelation is used throughout the book as a reference point.


Finally, the adulterous relationship will be referred to as an affair with the disclaimer that the word sounds much too playful for the seriousness of this offense.


We also need to agree on what adultery is. That might sound pretty silly to a lot of you, but differing on what comprises adultery can cause some serious problems. In fact, former President Clinton provided us with a classic example of what constituted “sex” when he denied having sex with another woman, yet later admitted to sexual intimacies with that woman. We can only imagine the private conversations he had with his wife when the truth was revealed.


We’ve heard some infidels deny adultery because they didn’t have sexual intercourse even while admitting there was sexual contact. They admit what they did was wrong but do not call it adultery.


As a matter of fact, the dictionary definition of adultery states it just that way: “Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse.” Infidelity is defined as a

lack of loyalty to one’s spouse. By the adultery definition, President Clinton was correct. By the infidelity definition, any number of things could fall into that category—anything a spouse would consider disloyal.

Looking exclusively at either dictionary definition allows one to go to opposing ends of the spectrum of possibilities.


While the dictionary may disagree, for our purposes adultery and infidelity will be equivalent terms. The truth is that there is no one clear and concise definition of infidelity or adultery that everyone agrees on.


We’ll define adultery as unfaithfulness to the covenant (i.e., marriage) vows you made to your spouse. Vows are the promises we make to one another when we stand before God and whomever else to become legally wed. We promise (vow) to love, honor, and cherish the person we are marrying. We promise this person that they are now the number one person in our life, even if our health and wealth and other circumstances change.


We also vow to forsake all others. That means we have reserved the intimacy space of the marriage relationship exclusively for the person we married. Anytime we put another person in that relational space promised to our partner—be it sexual or emotional or both—we have committed adultery. We have violated the intimacy of marriage, we have broken our promise, and we have had an illicit relationship.


We love the description Dr. Shirley Glass gives in Not “Just Friends”:


In a committed relationship [marriage], a couple constructs a wall that shields them from any outside forces that have the power to split them. They look at the world outside their relationship through a

shared window of openness and honesty. The couple is a unit, and they have a united front to deal with children, in-laws, and friends. An affair erodes their carefully constructed security system. It erects an

interior wall of secrecy between the marriage partners, at the same time it opens a window of intimacy between the affair partners. The couple is no longer a unit. The affair partner is on the inside, and the

marital partner is on the outside.


And here is the true acid test. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s three words: Ask your spouse. Explain everything about your other relationship. Be 100 percent honest about every detail, thought, and touch. Then ask your spouse. They’ll be able to tell you if it fits the definition of adultery in a heartbeat.


Time Frame of Chapters


What we are sharing with you is not chronological. Quite frankly, healing isn’t that neat. And often many of us wander in and out of these areas throughout the recovery process. So rather, we have chosen to share with you by topics: those areas we needed to explore and deal with as we healed. We hope all of you will deal with each principle area, but the truth is that none of you will do it at the same time. When you encounter each principle area will be determined by who you are, what type of affair you’re dealing with, and the journey our Lord has you on.


We do, however, believe the first two principle areas, commitment and faith, are foundational. So if you need to camp out there for a while, that is okay. These two areas will provide the sure footing you’ll need to walk through the rest.


We can relate only our experience and a glimpse at others we have known. Yours will be entirely different, but we are certain that you, like the couples in our groups, will find some value in the sharing.

Seek other godly counsel and ask God Himself to help you filter through and apply what is right for your situation.


When we were in the deepest pit of our crisis, we wanted to sit across from a couple whose marriage had survived this horror and who now had a marriage they both cherished. Someone who could look us straight in the eye and tell us we could make it because they had. Someone who could help us understand we weren’t crazy but rather experiencing a horrendous crisis—validating what was normal for the abnormal situation in which we found ourselves. This is what we’ll offer you.


Now, come with us and we’ll take you along through snapshots of our journey of healing. We’ll give you some ideas and concrete suggestions as to how some of these things we’ve talked about can look. We pray you’ll see truth, reality, and hope, and that God will use what we share to help you on your journey.


We have seen the Lord do marvelous things, and we will pray those same marvelous things for you.


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so

also through Christ our comfort overflows. —2 Corinthians 1:3–5


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Unfaithful by Gary and Mona Shriver. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Flies on the Butter

In honor of upcoming holidays and time with family, I present to you the latest book I finished, Flies on the Butter by Denise Hildreth. The author will be happy to know that I paid more than 49 cents for this book (that's what I paid for the first book of hers that I read, and she happened by and replied to the post). In fact, I believe I paid full price for this one.

Back cover:

Rose Fletcher's come a long way from her South Carolina up-bringing of Sunday church and Mamaw's fried chicken. As a high-powered child advocate in Washington, DC, Rose has put her Southern upbringing behind her. But the peace and happiness she sought has eluded her. With her marriage on the brink of disaster, her mind races with the chaos her life has become.

But now Rose must head South for home-a place where the mother she headed north to escape still resides.

She'll face her demons, relive her coming-of-age, and confront the issues that kept her away all these years. It'll take the intervention of strangers and a painful miracle of grace to help her find that place called "home" once again.

Audra again:

No matter how you might try, you can never outrun your family. As whacked up, crazy and overbearing that they may be, they are still your family. In Flies on the Butter, Rose must return home for a family get together she is not excited about attending.

What's supposed to be something like a 14 hour drive back home ends up a bigger adventure than she ever could have expected and makes Rose relive a number of often funny, sometimes heart-breaking memories.

While it does include Denise's trademark humor, Flies on the Butter is not all warm and fuzzy. That said, it is a good read. If you would like to get a preview, you can download chapter 1 on the author's website: www.denisehildreth.com.