Thursday, April 30, 2009

The cure to what ails ya

Today I went for the Venti Caramel Frappachino at Starbuck's to go along with an attitude adjustment. Normally, that does wonders for my overall state of mind, but today, it failed. I must have built up an immunity.

Speaking of immunities, just because I had insomnia last night does not mean that I have the swine flu. That's just a random point, but I would like to go ahead and point that out.

Since I'm on the topic of immunities, Coach, who follows me on Twitter (oh, I've already told ya'll that), got immunity tonight. BOO!

I think it snowed last night around Rapid City, SD. This might be my first chance to see real, true snow fall. Not Texas snow fall. Not snow on the top of the mountains snow. That might be interesting.

Get ready for lots of pictures and lots of stories when I get back. I do have a few posts planned for while I'm gone, so stop by and see what I have to share.

I'm leaving town at 5:05 after work tomorrow, so I'm off to go really, seriously pack.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oink? Is it the new boo?

You know what's insane? The swine flu.

I don't really know where to go from there. Maybe I should head on out of Texas now. South Dakota hasn't had any report cases yet, at least I don't think.

My dad has "vacationitis" this week. He says he's had a headache for a week and claims he has the flu. He does this before every trip. Mom and I just sit back and wait for him to get sick. And he's been really sick before some trips. This is truly a strange phenomena.

I must have stressed myself out today - I always do trying to check off a list before I head out of town. Always happens. I came home, slept an hour and a half on the chaise before getting up trying to figure out something to blog. (I figured I had to blog something since I wouldn't be able to access a computer to blog from the road next week.) I talked to much on the phone or something today. My throat feels a little off from talking, but I do not have the flu. I really need to go pack.

And pack warm, I might add. Mom just hopes that our pictures of Mt. Rushmore won't have snow on Abe Lincoln's nose.

We have no plans set for this trip, which is unusual for us. Dad wants to visit some cemetary up there - I think Calamity Jane is buried there. As well as some other famous western person. I've read so much trying to figure out what to do through Kansas and Nebraska on the way, that I don't know my Wild Bill from my anyone else.

What's odd is that we have become obsessed with cemeteries and Abe Lincoln on our last three vacations prior to this one.

Four years ago, we went to Chicago, stopping in Springfield to see Lincoln's house, his grave and all things the "Land of Lincoln" along the way.

Three years ago, we went to Washington DC. Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Monument.

Two years ago, we went to Savannah and Charleston. We stopped in Vicksburg on our way for the night, got up and went through the national park which ends up in the cemetery, and of course get our Civil War lessons there as well as Savannah and Charleston. Do you know who was the President during the Civil War? Lincoln.

We didn't take a big trip last year, but at least we didn't visit a cemetery.

I need to go pack. I usually save all that for the night before, but I think I need to go get the suitcases down.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

6 Degrees... I can beat that!

To add to the wackiness of yesterday morning, I checked Twitter and found that I had a new follower. I often wonder about the practicality and real purpose of Twitter, yet, I tweet. I'm beginning to second guess this now.

Last week, I commented in the idiocy of Coach from Survivor this season. Whether it is indeed the real Coach or not, Coach is following me on Twitter.

#1 the guy creeps me out
#2 that's sort of cyber-stalkish-y
#3 it's even more disturbing to me that he might comment on this blog
#4 I sure hope he gets voted off this week.

As soon as I find this information, I yell for Tracy McCarter to come see. (I name drop her full name just so that she can Google herself. Go for it Tracy!) She was quite amazed as was Rick. Vicki thought it was scary. (There - shout outs to the whole B&B staff that watches Survivor.)

So, here's my question of the day... actually my questions of the day are... Who is your most famous Twitter follower? Who is the most famous person you follow? Do you personally know the most famous person you follow?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A woman is always prepared

You could say that this was an exciting morning in Corsicana, TX. When I went into work earlier than usual this morning at 7:30, it was raining just a little bit. Before long though, it started raining harder. The skies were getting darker. By around 8:30 or so, the weather sirens started sounding.

My comment was, "well, that's not good."

I kept working though. My office is the only one in the building without outside windows on and on the ground floor. No need to panic.

Tina and Nancy head downstairs, as well they should. They migrate to my office trying to decide the most inside office. Christi and Tracy come on in from across the hall. I don't know the last time that many people were in my office at once.

I look around and start to notice... with the exception of Tina, everyone brought their purses with them. After all, a woman is always prepared.

Granted, that's where their cell phones were, and Tina brought her cell phone on into the office as well. Once she called her husband, got the latest weather report, found out the two tornados had passed, they all dispersed with their purses, and it was back to work yet again.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Travel advice

So, in just a few short days, I'll be on my way to South Dakota. Does anyone have any travel advice, must sees to share or stories about trips to Mt. Rushmore? If so, bring them on!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The good news is, there's nothing to report...

...the bad news is, there's nothing to report.

You will all be pleased to know there were no scenes made at last nights t-ball game to report. However, with nothing to report on that stage, there's nothing to report period.

Today was a pretty unproductive day other than picking up some things that I needed for vacation that I'm leaving for next week. Speaking of which, I'm leaving next Friday after work for a week. Anyone want to lend me a laptop so that I can blog from the road? I can guarantee some good stories...

My parents are going to be beat come tomorrow. Since it's our annual Friends Day at church tomorrow, Dad told Paige and Peyton that they could invite their friends Emalee and Macee to church and have a slumber party the night before. So, Paige, Peyton, Madison, Emalee and Macee are all over at their house tonight. I was over there for a while, played a heated game of Pictionary, and came on home. I can assure you that they have their hands quite full.

Here are a few t-ball and softball pictures that I'll share with you. Dad took the ones of Peyton and Madison (in the top picture) and I took the ones of Paige. I was doing the best I could while keeping score. I'll get better ones later on.




Thursday, April 23, 2009

Have you ever seen your momma go after someone?

Many people who have heard my real life stories about my family have said that it sounds like a soap opera. If Jerry Springer had been out at the softball fields tonight, it might have been an on location show.

I walked back up to the fields from the restroom before Paige's softball game and saw her mom aka "the psycho witch" speaking to my parents. I almost fainted from shock. I should have known it was not an amicable scene. As I approach, the ex-wife is yelling at the current wife or vice versa, and my two parents are sitting in between. I walk off with my fingers in my ears toward my brother, who asks, "WHAT?" I just shake my head.

A big scene with witnesses ensues because ex didn't know that any of the parents could order team t-shirts to match the kids. They didn't order for all of the parents - if they got them, they got them on their own. Now granted, I don't think anyone was real mature about the whole thing, and I'm glad that I was not around.

Somewhere along the way, after my dad asked her where his $20 was (the money my parents gave Paige for books that her mom ended up taking from her backpack), the ex makes some comment "and you call yourself Christians", my mom got up to start after her (and do what, I have no clue), but my dad had to pull her back. I don't know if that was before I walked up or after I walked off.

My mom tells me about this saying, "my dream almost came true - I wanted to choke her." My mom had a dream a few weeks ago that she choked the ex until she threw the $20 back at her. Mom has wanted to make some comment to her for two years. I kind of would find it funny to witness my mom tell her off. However, for everyone's sake, it would be best if the ex flies back off to wherever tomorrow (she's a flight attendant, not a witch on a broom). I really wonder what my mom would have done.

I was talking to Christi's brother today at the office, and he said that he didn't know that I was Brian's sister. I may not claim any of my family, other than Paige and Peyton, of course, by the second week of the softball season.

There may have been a few other people that wondered what on earth the deal was with Paige's friend Chloe. When she walked up, and when we left, she called me BaqBaq. Paige was explaining to her when I took pizza to school a few weeks ago that I was a BaqBaq (a chicken noise - Paige's first name for me). Her family probably thought, "what on earth is Chloe saying to this woman?" I think it's funny. Anyone who wants to call be BaqBaq can. Of course, at the softball fields, the Jennings family may be the strange people to stay away from.

Did I mention - the next tball game is tomorrow night?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Savannah Comes Undone

Tonight I bring you a quick review of the book that I just finished reading - Savannah Comes Undone, the sequel to a book I reviewed a earlier this year. I decided to finish the book last night, but was so tired, I almost dozed off several times while I finished it. (#1 I wanted to accomplish something and #2 I wanted to start the book that I'm supposed to post on the week I'm out of town so that I might have a review done on time.) I ended up staying up too late and was really tired at work this morning.

Here's the back cover copy:

Seeing my mother as the lead story on the six o'clock news was no great cause for alarm...until the camera revealed her chained to a downtown monument!

I thought I knew my mother-but right now I'm not sure I even know myself. I'm currently a journalist for the Savannah Chronicle. And I don't need drama. Really, I can create my own. Who needs extra? But in spite of the mind-boggling events in Savannah this week, the truth is going to be revealed by one of its very own. I am Savannah...from Savannah.

Savannah Phillips is embarrassed by her mother Victoria pretty frequently since her mother is such a personality. Savannah doesn't quite know what to do with herself, or her mother, when Victoria chains herself to a monument of the Ten Commandments on the courthouse square.

The book follows a very hectic week for Savannah as she struggles with her next article, deals with everyone talking about her mom down on the square, tries not to be attracted to her co-worker, and deals with a week without her mother's awesome cooking. (The girl might just starve!)

Savannah also learns a lot about really becoming an adult and moving out on her own. Oh, and what her mom is really trying to prove with her time chained to the monument. (An ex-beauty queen, control-freak spending a week sleeping on a sidewalk in the same clothes! For shame!)

With lots of lively characters, Savannah Comes Undone was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to being entertained by the last book in the series, Savannah by the Sea. I just have a couple of books ahead of it on the list.

Visit author Denise Hildreth's website for more about the book and her writing process.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Preview to the coming week

T-ball, Coach pitch, T-ball. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I shall be at the softball fields because not only am I campaigning for the World's Best Aunt, I am the scorekeeper.

I do believe that Paige has introduced me as that before. "This is Audra. She has to be at our softball games because she is the scorekeeper."

Paige, Peyton and Madison were all on the same team last year, but this year, Paige moves up. I shall be one busy scorekeeper. They've changed leagues, so I hope someone informs me of the rule differences before I start tomorrow night. That would be nice. And practical.

I'll try to remember my camera and post some pictures.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A trip to La-La Land

OK, so it was not actually La-La Land, but it was not without its similarities.

Jenny asked if I wanted to go up to Dallas to church with her today. I said sure... sometimes you need to mix things up a bit, get out of town, and worship can be fresh and renewing in a different place from time to time.

Our destination was Prestoncrest in Dallas, where her brother Doug attends. Prestoncrest has long been the mecca of singles in the metroplex. In college, I knew a couple of girls that didn't have enough guys to choose from within the campus center group, so went on down to Dallas from Denton to see if they could find them a man before graduation.

After graduation, I knew of people that went there because that is where you met members of the opposite sex, even if you just visited. I've visited a few times over the years, though I did not go for the hook-up. A friend or two tried to convince me that we all needed to go up there to scout for mates, but going to church for the hook-up just didn't seem like the right thing to do. I do know a couple of people from the Church of Christ singles website (a whole other blog entry, I assure you) that do still attend there, though not married yet.

(Side story - Jenny once went up there and ran into the one guy I ever went out with while in college. Very strange run in there, so I did avoid visiting for a while at the risk of running into him. Jenny asked this morning if I was worried about running into him. I assured her I was not.)

Well, even though "the program" has not worked for several people I know, it has indeed been successful for a number of people, evidently.

The place was teeming with young couples, pregnant couples and couples with babies. Many, many babies. They were everywhere. Congregated in an area for a quick bottle break before second service. Baskets set out to collect gifts for upcoming baby showers. A list a mile long of upcoming baby (as well as wedding) showers. I heard one woman holding a child about 18 months talking to a man in the hall. The man commented that the little girl sure was growing up, to which she replied, "she has to grow up because she's going to be a big sister."

There were two couples with babies on the pew in front of us alone. One was dressed in the most insane layered tutu I've ever seen. It had layers upon layers of different colored tutu. I itched just looking at it. Then, they put this huge, wide, headband with tulle roses on top on her poor little head. I don't know what the thing was made out of but it cut the circulation of blood to my head off just looking at it. There is no sense in torturing a child like that.

And I at 32 and Jenny at 31 next month were probably older than many of the couples. We talked about what was an overwhelming atmosphere of marriage and family life. We asked Doug if you had to sign a contract agreeing to grow the church by procreation when you placed membership there. All of the happy couple-ness is just not the lives that Jenny and I have.

Last night, Jenny's friend Amy fixed her up on a blind date with a 41 year old divorced guy with kids. I haven't been on a date in the past 10 years - then with the guy mentioned above who had a very strange attachment to his mother.

Neither of us really see the family life in our futures, although I know Jenny would like to have a family. And I don't mean that in a "poor, pitiful me" kind of way. I think God does not mean for the same thing for everyone. I'm OK with that. Sometimes, I just feel like maybe I just live in La-La Land. Maybe going to Prestoncrest wasn't La-La Land, because La-La Land is supposed to be the weird place. Marriage and family is the norm.

I'm in a funky place right now. The Wednesday night adult class at church is focused on a family series. The thought of sitting through lessons on marriage and family makes me want to pound my head against pew in front of me. Except for the fact that a large percentage of the people in the class are grandparents and beyond, I get that it's an important series for the church membership. I, however, wish there were alternatives.

Do you ever have moments that you just feel in La-La Land - that life's somehow moved on around you, and you are stuck in the Twilight Zone?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Battered, bruised and sleep deprived?

I'm tired. The first 24 hours of my weekend did not go as I had planned, not that I had any plans. When I left the office yesterday, I headed towards my parents house, but before I could get there, Mom called me to do her a favor and pick up Paige and Peyton from Julie's grandma's house.

When I drove up, Paige had headed out the door and jumped in my car, telling me that she was the only one coming. This didn't sound right to me, so I walked up to the door, and sure enough, Peyton was supposed to be coming along, but hadn't seen me drive up. Paige is not a convincing liar, and I'm not sure how long she would have strung me a long, but she had me for a time.

She was obnoxious on the ride home. Peyton was quiet and tells me at one point in a whisper from the back seat, "just don't talk to her."

Where Paige was nuts, Peyton was a bit clingy. I said something to Mom about not knowing what was up with Paige, and she answered, "They've been at their mom's for a couple of days." Mystery solved.

So last night, Peyton and I got a chance to play the Wii to ourselves. With a passionate golf swing, she sent the remote into the wall. I haven't really checked it out closely to see if there was a dent. There is a reason you are supposed to wear the wrist strap.

She decided instead of sleeping in the purple room by herself, she wanted in my bed with the TV. I warned her that in middle of the night, I was going to take out her earring. (She will not let anyone touch her ear. Last summer, she wanted her ears pierced so bad, and I took her. She was quite the trooper, but then someone told her it hurt to take them in and out. So, she has had one in and one out for months now.) She tells me she will stay up all night so that I can't do it.

Well, I reached over at one point, and should have just done it, but the back is so crooked, I don't know that I could. Anyway, I left her alone. On the other hand, I did not get left alone all night. Kick to the ribs. Foot to my head. Legs over my body (while she is perpendicular - her favorite position evidently). At one point in middle of the night, "Audra..." "Yes, Peyton?" "I can't reach the cover." I pull it up for her, and try to roll over to get a little room. At this point, she snuggles up behind me, and puts her arm around my neck. I was sharing my pillow on my side of the queen-size bed. Oh, my neck hurt from not being able to arrange my pillow and my body in a comfortable position. I shall enjoy the whole bed to myself tonight. I'm just spoiled living by myself.

I haven't yet examined the bruises that I am sure that I have.

Peyton wakes up this morning and says, "Audra... you didn't take out my earring."

"Peyton, you told me you didn't want me to - that you would stay awake all night so that I wouldn't do it."

"I wouldn't have done that because I was too tired."

"Yeah, I didn't think you would have."

"I wish you had taken out my earring."

Great googly moogly!

Paige called us to come over to Mom & Dad's. She wanted to play this Clue VCR game that we had put out for the garage sale. We had gotten it at a garage sale who knows 20-how many years ago, and we never actually played it. The instructions on the video were insane, and I convinced Paige it was too hard (she didn't like that).

We decided to come back over to my house to play the Wii. After two more wild swings from Peyton, slamming the remote into furniture, and the fact that I told Paige to quit tossing the remote to us, the button on the remote evidently got stuck because we could only swing at full power. We tried to shoot pool, but we couldn't get it to work right on THE main Wii remote. Did I mention there was a reason there was a warning to wearing the wrist strap?

Both were cranky, in need of a nap, and I thought (incorrectly) that someone was going to pick them up to take them home. We went back to my parents to get something they needed to take home. It was not time for them to go home yet, evidently.

Then, I had to play three rounds of Chinese Checkers, five games of the Clue board game and then I finally said I needed a break.

I love those girls to death, but they could run anyone ragged. I love spending time with them, but I wasn't expecting all of the quality time when I left the office yesterday. I had planned to get some things done around the house, but that didn't happen. I do need to go check my dryer and see if my sheets are dry. Then, I'll have to make up my bed. Maybe I'll just go sleep in the purple bed tonight.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Short on insanity

I was going to post something (I'm not sure what) last night, but after I turned my computer on, I had to turn it off because there was a thunderstorm and thought it was the responsible thing to do.

Tonight, I'm trying not to take too much time because Peyton decided to make tonight her "BY MY-SELL-F" night. We played mini-golf on the Wii (her Wii that's been over here for quite a while now), and she's had her bubble bath. She's yawning, and wants to play Cars on the computer. Once she starts yawning, she'll be out soon, so I don't want her to just have to sit and wait on me. I'll feel bad if she falls out asleep.

The main reason she came over here, I think, is because Paige went insane today. I don't know what got into her, but she was "a lying pants." She jumped in my car when I went to pick her up, and said Peyton wasn't coming. It's not like her to try to pull something like that. She's over at my parents house and will have to get up early to work the garage sale over there tomorrow. Better her than me.

My traffic report from yesterday on I-45 is that the police were out again. Here's my advice for whatever it is worth. DO NOT SPEED THROUGH THE GARRETT JURISDICTION if you Corsicana people decide to head north tomorrow.

I know this is uninspirational, but it's all I have time for. Peyton has asked me three times "are you almost done."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A question to other bloggers

Do you ever want to blog about something, but just can't because there is a chance someone that you don't want to see it might happen upon your post? After all, whatever you post is available for all the world to see.

I have something that I could certainly make into a hilarious post tonight, but there is a long story as to why I can't post about it at this time. Perhaps down the road I can the story.

It's really a shame though, because I'm coming up empty right now on things to post. I can verbally share with my co-workers tomorrow at the office, so remind me, and I'll tell you about it.

I guess I'll just share some absolute randomness now... Just some things I found funny, but not worth sharing on their own.

Paige spells phonetically, just like her dad did. Her version of pantyhose was painehous. (She has an accent to add to her phonetics too.) Instead of writing "Grandma", she writes "Granmal." A couple of weeks ago, she asks me, "does Grandma really not have an L on the end?" "No, I'm sorry Paige, it really doesn't." "Oh, well it does when I spell it." There you go.

The Rangers are currently up 12-3 at the end of four innings. They might actually break their 5-game losing streak tongiht. I was ranting again last night after I posted. Be glad you didn't get another piece of that last night. (Anyone else think Josh Lewin is a moron? The whole "Walker" "Texas Ranger" split screen last night was really, really stupid. I need Ranger fans on my blog to talk about such idoicracy.)

This story is for Tracy - today, she and I were in Jack 'n the Box, when an older, toothless man walks up to her and asks if she speaks Spanish. Then French. Then German. So, he asks her if she knows what this word in German means that is said 90% more of the time by women than men. (Yes, I realize that stat doesn't read correctly, but you have to realize who was stating the fact. Tracy said she noticed he reaked of alcohol.) I was trying not to pay attention, so he repeats the question to me, and also adds that this word is often accompanied by a certain hand gesture sort of like a wave, and I don't mean what you think I mean. I answer "whatever" which was the correct answer. So then, he goes on to say another word which I will not attempt to spell, but I happen to know is the word for "goodbye" thanks to having watched "The Sound of Music." I just answerd him so he would quit talking to me and tell me to keep guessing.

So, when he leaves, he walks by the table that Tracy and I were at and says it again, to which Tracy and I simultaneously say, "GOODBYE!" Tracy says she always attracts the wierodos. I told her it was because she was from Alabama.

More randomness... WARNING to anyone driving down I-45. Watch your speed. Good grief the Highway Patrol, Dallas County, Dallas PD were out enmasse yesterday in addition to all the other speed trap patrols. You know with the economy, their quota has increased. On Friday, I was passing someone around Rice, when a big Dodge truck (you know the guys that drive Dodge trucks are cocky enough to think they own the road) comes right up on my tail, and once I get past the car next to me going 76 MPH to get out his way, he speeds on past me. Thankfully, I was able to slow down before getting up to the Rice police car ahead. Oh, so many times I have wished the cops would catch the guy riding my tail then wrecklessly going ahead. I took great joy when the Rice police pulled him over up ahead. Mom and I waved as we went past. I wouldn't have wished the Rice police on anyone but this one guy. Reminder to self for tomorrow - put on the cruise control.

OK, I've typed enough for tonight just to be able to post something for today. Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Uh, some guy answered your phone

Nothing really exciting happened today, so I'm telling this story and will just let Michele shoot me later. I'm going to take the blame for this, so maybe I'll survive.

About 8:50 this morning, Tina called down to my desk. "Would it freak you out if I asked you to go get Michele at the airport?"

"No, not at all. What time does she come in?"

"10:00."

"Oh, I guess I better go then."

Usually, it takes a while to get a gate at DFW, so I figured if Michele was waiting on me, she wouldn't be waiting long.

By the time I got up to 183, nature was calling, but there wasn't a good non-ghetto place to exit off, and I missed the Starbucks. I was really hoping to find a place because I hate driving around the airport in circles looking for the signs when my eyeballs are floating.

I don't mind it, but anyone who has ever driven around DFW airport knows the place is pretty insane to get around when you have to figure out which terminal, followed by which of the exits that split off without well labeled signage, followed by which set of gates, followed by arrival vs. departure, etc., etc. etc.

OK. Frontier Airlines. Terminal E. Gotcha. Around the crazy curve, watching the yield signs, whoops, they didn't yield, is this two lanes or one? OK. Gates E1-E9, I'll whip around arrivals. Nope, that's all Continental. Follow the signs for airport exit, but don't exit airport. OK back around, nope, I want E Terminal. Gates E10-18. Let's try this. Nope, Alaska, Air Tran, Delta. Airport exit without the exit. OK, Gates E19-38. This has to be it, yeah, Frontier, duck in the departure garage instead of arrival because I really need to park. (God bless my bladder!) Crap, nothing on ground level to park, and I didn't turn to at the beginning to go up a level.

Exit garage, oh, that's a do not enter. There's the exit airport sign. OK, back around to Gates E19-38. There's the departure exit for the garage again, screeching tires as I turn to park, dad gum it, why is everyone at the airport filling the parking garage? OK, this parking spot will have to do. There's the stairs towards the terminal. Up or down? Down looks closer.

Grab my cell phone, "Hey, Michele! I'm here, are you out of the terminal?"

"Yeah, I'm up here waiting at arrivals."

"Well, I'm down at departures, going up to the terminal because I have to have a potty break. I'll have to come around and meet you."

Have you ever noticed and few and far between the restrooms are on the baggage claim side of the terminals at DFW. Sheesh.

So, anyway, I come out and meet Michele. I offer to go get my car, but she says her suitcase isn't heavy so we can just walk through the garage to my car. So we have to go down two short sets of steps in the garage. Bump, bump, bump - Michele's suitcase struggles down the first set of steps. She thought she heard something drop, but looked around and didn't see anything.

We pack up the car, head out, have to stop and back up because of the bad signage that marks exit vs. park arrows, but finally manage to get out of the parking garage (there was one night I left the airport and thought I was going to die of old age figuring out how to get out of the place). Airport exit. Watch out for that set of cars! Construction people need to move. South exit, not north exit. Finally clear. Pick a toll booth, pay our $1, yes we want a receipt for our business expenses, and we're on the road.

We get a few miles, and Michele looks for her phone. Here, I'll call your number with Michele. We listen, Michele thinks she's going to have to crawl over the seats to check the suitcase. I don't have the phone glued to my ear because I'm trying to hear for her phone, but all of a sudden, I hear a man saying something, but I'm not sure if it is a recording or what.

I'm now exiting, so we can look in the back or turn around on Beltline in Irving. Thank goodness we weren't but a few miles away. I say, "Michele, here, you call your phone back. A man just answered."

Sure enough, she calls back, "are you answering a phone that is not yours? Well where are you?" Her phone was at lost and found at Terminal E, Gate 35.

Back to the airport. Back to Terminal E. The right exit of the two that fork off of the left exit. Good grief those people didn't yield! Past E1-9, past E10-18. Watch out construction people! There's E19-38. "I know who has it, and where to find him," Michele says. "I said, was it that guy in that funny frontier hat?" I ask. "Yep, that's him." Michele runs in and quickly retrieves her phone (someone found it on the stairs in the garage).

I didn't realize I was stressed, but while I am waiting in the car, I start the hair twirl thing with the hair on top of my head in the spot near the back. I can't fight the urge to do the twisty thing.

OK, back on the road. South exit, not North exit... We get to the toll booths. "Michele, which one did we go through last time because I don't want to go to the same woman." She laughs and hands me another dollar. Knowing we will have two receipts now, I tell her she'll just have to claim one of them as a stupidity tax on her expense form, and she can claim it to be my stupidity. Michele was quite excited when their was an Asian woman in the booth rather than the African-American one that took our money the first time. (Maybe no one noticed.)

So, this was my adventurous morning. Michele was quite apologetic, but it wasn't her fault. If I hadn't been in such desperate need of a pit stop, I would have just pulled up at the curb and would have been on our merry way.

But then, if it weren't for all of that, what would I have blogged about tonight?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cautiously optimistic? Not so much.

My computer has been on awhile, during which time I've debated what tonight's blog would be about. Once I finally decided, I closed my eyes again and went back to my nap. (For some reason, on Monday evenings I get really sleepy and tend to doze off while watching TV.) I have to say though, I'm more optimistic at this point than I was when I decided what I was going to blog about.

"So get on with Audra!" I hear ya, I hear ya! So, off I go. Not sure how this is going to end because we are in the 9th inning of tonight's Ranger game.

When the Rangers started their season last Monday, the sports world (OK, just Texas fans) were full of hope. They kicked the Indians butt to open the year. The radio hosts and the fans calling in were sure this was a sign of great things to come. However, there was the gentle warning, "it is too early in the season to make a lot of predictions." Yes, I agree, the season was just 1/162nd through the season.

After two games, it was pointed out that the Rangers had not started off 2-0 for eight years. The radio announcers started to question their listeners, "What is more likely? The Mavericks win a playoff series or the Rangers going to the playoffs." Time has made me a cynic not only about life in general, but about the Rangers specifically. Are you seriously asking this question?

Three games. Three wins. The Rangers had not started off a season with three wins since 1996 - their first ever playoff season. Woooowwwhooo!!!

On Facebook, a radio host that I am friends with was lamenting the terrible start his Detroit Tigers were off too. I tell him that hopefully this boded well for my Rangers. He was also a Rangers fan, having lived in the area for several years. He assures me, the Rangers will do well this weekend.

In case you don't keep up, they lost three in a row in Detroit. Yesterday, they were up by 4 to lose by 2 after giving up 6 runs in one inning.

OK. I have to pause now. The Rangers were up 4-2 in this game to get down 10-4. Not good for us - thus my decision to blog about this. Now, we have John Blake pecked away to 10-9. I have to watch the bottom of the ninth. Be right back....




A leadoff double by Kinsler.

An almost home run by Michael Young (just a few more feet...).

Paige's Hammy trying to hard for another fly ball out.

Andruw Jones walks. (Put in Murphy to pinch run.)

Double steal - we'll take it, but I don't believe that Murphy was safe.

C'mon Marlon Byrd... save the day... strikeout.

While I congratulate you on the excitement and the accomplishment of starting off the season 3-0, I have to point out dear ol' dear Texas Rangers, you have now lost four in a row. No bueno!

I'm already annoyed 7/162nds into the season. Sigh!

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Audra's Day"

Last Saturday, I sort of threw myself a pity party complete with a blended caramel macchiato because I was really kind of annoyed at my mom for not wanting to go to the Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens with me. She knew I really wanted to go and get out of the house, but she wasn't into it last Saturday. She did end up agreeing that she would go with me today though.

I sort of got a late start this morning, just not real motivated to get going, I guess. Before I could get over to my parents house to pick Mom up, Paige called to see what I was doing. She was at Mom's house at the time. I wondered how well this boded for our trip to FW. Mom gets on the phone and said that Paige was hanging out with Pops while Peyton had to go shopping for an Easter outfit with Julie and Madison. I think Peyton was annoyed because she wanted to stay with Paige or go with us, but here's where Mom gets her points back. Mom said that the girls would have to hang out with us some other time because it was "Audra's Day." Yay!

We didn't leave town until sometime around 10 or so. Mom has been wanting to get something to go on the walls in her bedroom. She asked me last night if there was Kirkland's near where we were going. I told her I wasn't sure, but I did know where we would have to pass a Garden Ridge. I don't hate going to Kirkland's or Garden Ridge as such, but going with my Mom is time that I will never get back.

I didn't object to taking her to Garden Ridge, and did in fact take her to Garden Ridge. When we went in, there was a 12 year old boy sacked out in a lawn chair on a rolling cart full of merchandise that his mother was either returning or exchanging or purchasing (it was the return line, so who knows for sure). Mom mentioned something about the boy, and said, "I can identify. There's nothing like going to Garden Ridge with your Mom."

So help me, we were in there a solid hour. I pointed out one picture that I really liked and thought she should get. We skipped it for the time being. She picked up a picture and put it in the buggy for several aisles. Then decided on another one, so I put #1 up. Then she saw something else, so put the second one she put in the buggy against the wall with some others. I went off to the restroom and came back, but she was still staring at them. Then decided against #2 and all of those other ones too.

At this point, I almost threatened her life if we left the store without something to hang on her walls. We went back to the first picture that I liked, and she decided she would get it, and if she didn't like it over her bed, she'd send it home with me. I tell her she does not have to buy anything she does not want.

Then, she goes looking for plates to hang on the wall, which we debate over for a while. She decides after picking out three that we had enough for now because she's used enough of my time.

We finally get the heck out of Garden Ridge, and head back out on the road. Then, we get stuck in traffic on 360 because of a wreck. FINALLY, finally we get to FW. By now, it's like 1:00 and we're hungry. We take the exit for the botanical gardens, but pass some restaurants from the exit before and decide we can just take the back way to get to them. We end up taking a turn that sends us through Trinity Park at 20 miles an hour, towards downtown, and I finally snake my way back to Pappa's Burgers. It was a long detour for a burger, but at least the burger was good.

It was 2:00 before we get to the gardens, the primary purpose of this trip. Paige calls us about this time to see where we are, and she can't believe we haven't even got to our destination yet.

The first thing that we did was go through the Japanese Garden. Here, my mom decides that everything in this section is growing in her backyard. We've decided the woman that owned the house for many, many years, and planted a majority of the plants, had purposefully planted a Japanese garden. (Knowing the woman, that is actually likely.) All Mom needs is some giant Koi and some bamboo and she can charge admission. (Oh, and call her arbor a pagoda.)

We were there for a couple of hours and had a nice time. Our trip home was much quicker than the trip up there even if we did have to wait in line for BBQ at a gas station on our way back to take home for supper.

I'll have to post pictures tomorrow. I have to install some software to get some of the pictures off of my camera since they are stored on internal memory rather than the memory chip.

The camera I got for Christmas is an entire entry within itself. I thought the battery enclosed was rechargeable and could only be charged if I had an easy share dock. But, since I didn't have a charger for this battery pack, I've used rechargeable batteries in it every time I've tried to use it. Except, the camera wouldn't work for longer than 5 pictures (which ticked me off and drove me crazy). I tried to troubleshoot online the other night and was told that I was using the wrong kind of batteries. So, last night I bought a pair of lithium batteries for $5 a pair. I double checked the manual regarding batteries, looked at the battery pack and realized the battery that came with it was not rechargeable - I could have been using this fancy battery that came with my camera, and it would have been functioning correctly the whole time.

So, finally the battery was working, but I forgot to put the memory chip back in the camera after I upload my Rangers pictures the other day. Thankfully, when I got an "internal memory full" message after 10 pictures, I had my other camera as back-up and could use that chip to take more pictures. I don't have the software installed because I've not had to take anything off the internal memory before. Now that I typed all this stupid story about the camera that has contributed to my insanity, I'm too tired to fix it tonight. You'll get pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tom Doyle's Breakthrough

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:


Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East

Authentic (February 15, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tom Doyle pastored churches in Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico for a total of twenty years before becoming a missionary in the Middle East. His passion for Israel was fed through guiding tours there, eventually becoming a tour guide for the State of Israel. Tom also serves as the Middle East director for e3 Partners, a global church planting ministry. He is author of Two Nations Under God. He and his wife, JoAnn, have six children and two grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Authentic (February 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068632
ISBN-13: 978-1934068632

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Can Anything Good Come Out of the Middle East?


The Middle East is the place where history, religion, and politics collide head-on. The lead news story of the day often emanates from this volatile region—and rightfully so, because of its instability. By watching the news on television, it would be easy to form an opinion about the people who live there. It would also be easy to form an opinion about the future of the region, and my guess is that your opinion would not be optimistic. How could it be? Is there ever any good news from the Middle East?


Yes, there is good news from the Middle East! In fact, there is great news from the Middle East! That is why this book was written. It is time for Christians to find out what is really going on in the Middle East. God is moving in this region in which Jesus was born, ministered, died, and rose again. This book will give you the news that the mainstream media won’t give you. Rather than viewing this part of the world with a sense of hopelessness, as we’re prone to do, we can celebrate the return of hope.


I’m involved in ministry throughout the Middle East. For the last ten years now I’ve heard people say, “Tom, you should write a book about all that God is doing in the Middle East.”


It’s rather ironic that I ended up ministering in this region. The story started with a trip to Israel. In 1995, professors Charlie Dyer and Doug Cecil invited me to join them on a biblical tour of the Holy Land. My initial reaction was that I was too busy, considering that our church was young and growing and I was the senior pastor. But my wife, JoAnn, convinced me that the church could survive without me for ten days. So off I went.


My life was changed. The Bible came alive, and my understanding of Scripture was transformed. Some people in our church even said that my preaching got better when I returned. (I think that’s why they were so happy for me to go back each year!)


I not only fell in love with Jesus again while in Israel, but I fell in love with the people there. Both Jews and Arabs found a place in my heart. And I was thrilled to discover that there was a vibrant, growing church in the Middle East. It was also refreshing to see Jews and Arabs who loved each other and had come together in the body of Christ. After four thousand years of strife between Isaac and Ishmael, peace between their descendants seemed too good to be true.


Of course there could be peace between them! I just had never been exposed to the Prince of Peace in action with Jews and Arabs. I didn’t even know one Jew or Arab where I lived. But isn’t that what the gospel is all about? Christ came to tear down the wall between Jew and Gentile and to bring peace to both. And I was seeing it! While leading a trip to Israel each year, my love for my Savior and the people of the Middle East grew. I didn’t realize it; but after leading a trip to Israel in 2001, my life was about to change dramatically.


Let me back up about a quarter of a century. In 1974, God called me to attend Bible college and then seminary to prepare to be a pastor. It was a dramatic experience as God clearly began to speak to me through important spiritual leaders in my life about going into ministry. Even though I resisted this for a while, God gave me great peace about serving him this way.


I loved being a pastor! How privileged I am to have served Christ in that capacity for over twenty years. I believe there are two things that pastors, as shepherds of God’s flock, are responsible to do: feed the flock and lead the flock. I was passionate about fulfilling, through the power of the Spirit of God, both of these responsibilities. For two decades I enjoyed giving maximum effort to these two assignments.


A sense of joy and excitement arrives on Sunday morning when a pastor is ready to teach the Word of God and feed the flock. But there is pressure too. Do I understand the true meaning of this passage of Scripture? Will I be able to convey God’s heart to his followers? Will my application of the biblical text bring hope to those who are hurting today?


Feeding the flock consistently is not an easy job, to say the least. I can liken preaching a sermon to having a baby. You’re excited about the birth, but you don’t know what the baby is going to look like. That’s how it is with every sermon! Preaching the Bible week in and week out is tough. Each week the pastor’s sermon is analyzed and critiqued. But more important for the preacher is answering the question, Did I faithfully bring God’s Word to his people today? Being called to teach the Bible and make it relevant to God’s people is a high honor and privilege.


Leading the flock is also an honor, though it will drain a pastor of every ounce of energy. There are highs and lows. One week you may experience the joy of performing a wedding; the next week you may be called upon to perform a funeral. Like feeding the flock, leading the flock is not an easy job. People have problems. They die. Their marriages fail. Their children walk away from God. Then the pastor is called in to help God’s followers get through the crisis. How awesome to bring God’s love and compassion to his people in time of need. Only God can heal the hurts and give his people the strength to make it through the difficult trials of life. The pastor gets to see this up close and often. This too is a privilege.


Go East, Young Man!


This was the world in which I lived. This was my calling, and I thought that I would be feeding and leading the flock for the rest of my life. But on the first Sunday in June 2001, God called again. I had just preached a sermon at my church, Tri-Lakes Chapel in Monument, Colorado; and while we were worshiping near the end of the service, God began to speak to my heart. The message was clear: This is the last sermon you will preach at Tri-Lakes Chapel.


This impression came across so clearly that I responded, Lord, is that you? Or am I imagining this? I was in a state of shock. The people sitting nearby must have thought, Is the pastor having some kind of meltdown? He’s just staring straight ahead!


I left the service shaken and immediately headed for my wife, JoAnn. JoAnn and I have been married for twenty-eight years. She is an amazing wife, mother of our six children, and now grandmother. She also has an insight into people and situations of which I am often clueless. I said, “JoAnn, the strangest thing just happened. I think God told me that we are going to leave the church. I don’t understand this, do you?”


“Yes, I do!” she replied immediately. “Over the last few months I have felt that God was beginning to release us from Tri-Lakes into another ministry field altogether. Let me ask you a question. If you weren’t a pastor, how would you want to serve God?”


I thought for a moment and then said, “I think it would be in missions.”


JoAnn then asked, “And where do you think that would be?”


That was an easy one. “In Israel and the Middle East.”


“So do I!” JoAnn replied. “Tom, I believe that God is calling us to leave local church ministry and to serve him on the frontlines in missions.”


We didn’t waste any time. The next day I went to the elders and told them what was on our hearts. Wanting to make sure this wasn’t just a whim, they graciously counseled me to take three weeks off and seek the Lord. That was great advice, and I will always thank the Lord for their godly direction. Those three weeks were pivotal in our spiritual journey. Both JoAnn and I began to sense God’s calling so strongly that it erased any doubts that we might have had previously.


Making the jump from pastor to missionary sounded like some sort of midlife crisis to some of our friends, and not all of them were as enthusiastic as we were. But God was burning into our hearts a call to go to the mission field. We lived in the Colorado Springs area, where well over a hundred ministry organizations are located. Many staff members of those organizations went to our church. With so many great ministries in existence, how were we to know which one to join? We needed direction from God—and that direction would come quickly.


A longtime friend, Curtis Hail, called and said that he was going to be in our area and wanted to drop by for a visit. Curtis had served in missions for about fifteen years, and I had been on mission trips with him to the Soviet Union and Argentina. Curtis and Nathan Sheets had just formed a new ministry called EvangeCube. Curtis stunned us when he said, “We’re looking for a Middle East director—someone who will work with pastors.”


JoAnn and I broke into laughter. “Are you serious? That is exactly what we believe God is calling us to do!” When God is in something, he sure knocks down the barriers. We have found that those barriers often are not real but only in our minds. After some concentrated prayer, we knew that God had opened the door for us at EvangeCube, which later changed its name to e3 Partners.


At the end of June, we said goodbye to our church after nine wonderful years of ministry. I was supposed to preach a farewell sermon, but in both services I broke down and began crying. I couldn’t get any words out. I felt so badly that I wasn’t able to preach one last message to these people I dearly loved. But JoAnn reminded me that God had clearly impressed on my heart on that first Sunday in June: This is the last sermon you will preach at Tri-Lakes Chapel.


My days as a pastor were now over. It was on to the mission field!


The next few months were dedicated to raising support for our new ministry. The thought of raising support was intimidating and funny at the same time. As a senior pastor, I loved missions; and missions became a major part of our church life. But I had often said, “I don’t know how our missionaries do it. I could never raise support. With six kids, that would be insane!” Ironically, that is exactly what God called us to do. And we soon found out that his ability to provide is more than we can imagine. He has been so faithful.


Middle Eastern Terrorism Goes Global


Within a couple of months, something happened that changed everything in our new ministry.


As I was driving home after dropping off our daughter at school, ABC News interrupted the radio station I was listening to with this: “An airplane has gotten off course and has just slammed into the World Trade Center.” Since I had led tours to Israel and Jordan, I was tuned into the terrorism threats that emanated continually from the region. My first thought was There are no flight patterns through Manhattan—this is a terrorist attack!


When I got home and turned on the TV, JoAnn and I saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center. America was under attack.


After the four coordinated strikes, the country was in shock. The stories of those who had lost their lives were devastating. This tragedy woke us up to the fact that we had enemies who were calling for our nation’s destruction. I remember being glued to the television and watching Fox News go live to the Gaza Strip where crowds cheered in the streets over al-Qaeda’s attack on us. As the drama unfolded over the next several days, I wondered more than a few times how we could ever go to the very places that were the hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism.


I wasn’t the only one who had questions. Here are a few of the questions we were asked after 9/11: “Won’t you be killed if you go to the Middle East?” “They hate Americans in all the Muslim countries. Can’t you go somewhere else?” “Are you sure that God didn’t say the Far East instead of the Middle East?!” “How can you even think of going there with your wife and six children?” (That last one really hurt.)


And these were the comments just from our relatives!


As the days went by, however, JoAnn and I came to the realization that this was indeed the time to be involved in missions in the Middle East. We realized that it is normal for us Americans to typecast people. “We’re the good guys and they’re the bad guys. We wear the white hats and they wear the black hats.” It would be easy to conclude from the news that all Muslims are terrorists (and watch out if you ever see them—because they probably have bombs strapped to their bodies). But the Muslims we met in Israel and in Jordan were far from that. They were just normal people. We had friends who practiced Islam, and they didn’t hate us or the West.


More important than that was the fact that people in the Middle East are created in the image of God, just like everyone else in the world. They need and deserve to be reached with the good news of Jesus Christ, who died for their sins as well as for ours. JoAnn and I weren’t naive. There was no question in our minds that Islamic fundamentalism is a threat to global security. And if we wanted to share Christ in the Middle East, of course there would be dangers. But that certainly didn’t erase the Great Commission of Matthew 28, in which Jesus commanded us as his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Notice that Jesus didn’t say to “go and make disciples of the nations that like you and are relatively friendly.”


The Door Is Open


A good friend of mine in Jerusalem recently said, “As believers, we often hear people say, ‘These people are open to the claims of Christ,’ or ‘The door is wide open in this country for the gospel.’ But I don’t see that as a biblical concept. The question is: Are we open to sharing the gospel?”


I agree. After all, Jesus promised, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). In other words, with Jesus all doors are open. He has sent the church to all nations, no matter what the current trends appear to be. I believe that we can get into any nation with the good news of Jesus Christ. And there is a new generation of Christians in the Middle East today who believe, deep in their hearts, that with Jesus all doors are open. In reality, if you don’t have that attitude, it would be easy to give up and quit.


So, in 2001 we joined a group of believers in various ministries who are passionate about sharing the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in the Middle East. I have personally seen that Muslims in the Middle East, and throughout the rest of the Muslim world, are eager to hear about Jesus.


Since I began traveling extensively in the Middle East, I have also learned that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and not into jihad. They just want to feed their children, send them to good schools, see them get married, and enjoy a houseful of grandchildren running around their home when they break the fast each evening during Ramadan. From Egypt to Iran, the Muslims we talk to are sick of the Islamic fundamentalism that isolates them from the world and makes them all out to be bloodthirsty killers. We must reach out and love these people with the love of Jesus.


Arthur Blessitt has carried a large wooden cross in every country of the world. That amazes me, and it also makes me proud that someone would have the nerve to do such a thing. Showing up with a cross in some places on the globe could get you killed. Arthur has been in such danger many times. I am honored to call Arthur a friend. When I am with him, he always reminds me: “Tom, just keep it about Jesus! That is our message, and it’s a simple one. Once we get off of that, we lose people.”


How true that is. As we soon found out in our ministry in the Middle East, Muslims were ready to talk about Jesus. We also found out that they weren’t all calling for the destruction of America.


I remember walking through the streets of the Gaza Strip a few months after 9/11 when a woman in an abaya approached me.


“You’re from America, aren’t you?” she asked. “I can tell by your blue eyes.”


“Yes, I am.”


She continued: “Did you see on the news the people in Gaza celebrating in the streets when the buildings collapsed in New York City?”


“I am afraid I did,” I replied sadly.


“Well, I wasn’t cheering. I was crying for all of those families who lost their loved ones. That was a tragedy, and many of the Muslim people were grieving with you.”


With that, the woman walked away. She obviously needed to get this off her mind, and I was glad to be the one to hear it. I believe that God prearranged this conversation for my sake and for the sake of the small group with me. Here was this woman reaching out to me, which would have been considered out of bounds since she was a practicing Muslim. But she did it anyway.


I thought to myself, We can work with these people! This woman’s message showed that she cared and that not all Muslims want to wipe out the West. Her heart came through, and I could see her grief as she recounted the tragedy that America had just endured.


Why Breakthrough?


I have been privileged, over the years, to minister in Israel—including the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—Iran, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Afghanistan. Some of the books I have read recently about the Middle East were written by people who don’t spend much time there but were merely reacting to the news that they hear on television or on the Internet. But there is so much more—a story that is not being told, in my opinion. Since I work in the Middle East, I am privileged to see this story unfold time after time. The story is this: Jesus is reaching out to the people of the Middle East in a powerful way, and the people are responding in record numbers. Millions have given their lives to Jesus Christ in the last ten years1. That’s right—millions!


This story is more important than the latest suicide bombing, the latest threat of war, or the latest prophecy about Jesus’ return. Of course I believe all of those things are important; but often lost in all of that is the fact that Jesus is building his church in the Middle East and that it is filled with former Muslims.


Maybe Jesus will return in our lifetime. How humbling it is to ponder that we could be the chosen generation that welcomes his arrival. But if biblical prophecies point to that, then we, as Jesus’ church, need to be making the greatest effort to reach the world with his message. Once Jesus returns, it will be too late.


One of the most important regions of the world is the Middle East. After all, this is where the church was birthed. For centuries the church has been small and almost unnoticed. We can no longer say that, however. Jesus is not being ignored in the Middle East today. The new generation of believers who serve Christ is willing to give their lives to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to hear of Jesus’ offer of grace and forgiveness. They are willing to risk everything to make sure that new believers have a Bible and can grow in their new life in Christ. They put themselves in harm’s way daily as they start new churches in places that have had no Christian presence for centuries.


In our work in the Middle East we have met some of the most godly, loving, and committed believers we have encountered any place in the world. They are constantly watched and often persecuted. They have a special calling as they live with the understanding that today might be their last day. Yet they often state, “We pray for you believers in the West every day.”


Many of the leaders we work with were at one time terrorists. In the following chapters you will be introduced to many of them. God miraculously transformed them, and they will never be the same. Their testimonies remind us of two things:

1. No one is unreachable . . . not even a terrorist.

2. The worst place to be a believer is really the best place to be a believer.



1. Joel C. Rosenberg, Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle

East Will Change Your Future (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2006), 211.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Delirious?

Tonight's blog is going to be short for several reasons:

1. I'm tired

2. I have a headache.

3. I need to take my contacts out because they are dry, but I can't read the computer screen with my glasses on if I get up to take them off now.

4. I don't have much to say unless you want to read what I have to say about the commentators on the Ranger game. (Side note: poor Saltalamacchia's name is so long with the new shadowed letters on the back, that his name is almost tucked in his pants. Saltalamacchia is Peyton's favorite player, by the way, and now they have the same number - 21.)

And seriously? They have to talk about 10 cent beer night every time they play Cleveland.

Oh, sorry, back to blogging. I have two new blog followers - WELCOME TO SERIOUSLY?! I'm not sure who one of you is, but the other is Angie (Shout out time! - I do that from time to time, Angie.) Angie and I went to jr. high together and she asked me via Facebook what my blog was when I commented on finishing my blog and going to sleep.

Speaking of followers, some of my commenters are back. Thanks for commenting. (Thanks for your encouragement Kalea!) It's good to know that someone is reading. (Misha, are you still there?) The most popular thing to comment about recently is my commentary on Toddlers and Tiaras. I may have to break down and watch another episode just so that I can get everyone wound up again.

And, I will share a new blog that I have started following as of today - The Journey of Danica Favorite. Danica requested a book that I am working on for an upcoming tour, so I checked out her blog. I think that she blogs a lot like me, so I like her. Of course, if she reads this tonight, she's going to think I just insulted her. That was not my intention at all.

It may be some weird case of delirium today, I'm not really sure what the deal is.

My last recommendation of the night. There's a story that leads up to this that I'll skip, but I heard someone say "peanut butter" today, so this afternoon I had a craving for peanut butter cookies. I went down to the Tiger Tote and bought Lance's peanut butter cookies with peanut butter chips. OK, people, those were some good gas station cookies.

Good night for now and more of Audra's Insanity tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Fear?

Did you know that the most common command in the Bible is "fear not" or "do not fear"? I happen to know this is a fact because last year I worked on a book entitled Running Scared - Fear, Worry and the God of Rest by Ed Welch (New Growth Press).

Along with fear goes worry and anxiety. I'd have to say this would be my most frequently broken command lately. My worries and anxieties have run the gamut.

There is a very real possibility that I may have to give up my home and move out. There's a number of things that go along with that which would not be the best situation, including more family tension than already exists. (You know since my brother is still not back in a home of his own and all.) My parents will tell you that moving is a very stressful ordeal.

I'm worried about my dad. He's had some dizziness lately and is getting around like an 80 year old right now, and I don't know why. At one point, I seriously wondered if he was going to make it from the concession stand back to our seats yesterday. Mom and I are concerned about how he will make it on vacation especially.

We've had a lot projects starting at work lately, and I've been stressed out and high strung trying to get everything done that I need to get done. I'm worried about how being able to get everything done on time.

I heard a rumor last week that a friend of mine has cancer. I've neither been able to confirm or deny that, even though I know something is going on. I'm concerned about a very real situation.

A couple of people today had me really worried about something that I don't think is as big of a deal now as I thought it had the potential to be. Scared about things I can't control.

These are just a few of my worries as of late. I've really not been sleeping well either. I'm overdue for an attitude adjustment.

I've been praying about about all of these things, but I haven't really found rest yet. I'm searching for it, and I think that may be the biggest frustration. Knowing that I need to give it up, trying to give over to God, but not really being able to let it go. God has His own timing and His own answers. It kind of feels like He is speaking to me in Russian, and I'm just not getting it.

It didn't help that the other day I was really needing to do something to get away, and my mom was not cooperating. She was not recognizing how much I was struggling. She tends to play the one-up game. Not helpful. I really need to connect with a couple of my go-to people I haven't talked to in a couple of weeks, but in person, not by phone.

I need some distractions, so if anyone has something funny to share, or an idea for a funny blog, let me know.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rangers Opening Day 2009

Every year, my dad and I go to the Texas Rangers Home Opener. (I've been to all but one of the past eleven.) It's always an exciting atmosphere and everyone is geared up for a new season and there is hope for a successful season.

The pre-game activities are always the highlight of the day. Especially the fly over with the military planes. It gives me goosebumps every time. You can hear the roar on approach, and they fly so low that it's so just awesome.

AND... the Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 9-1 today. YEA!!!

It was in the 50s today with the wind chill pushing the temperature on down. It was down right COLD in the concourse area. If you were in the shade or up high where the wind hit, you were freezing. Thankfully, we were in the sun (just see my face and my hands that were sticking out of my sweatshirt), so it was really nice.

Here are some pictures.

Somehow, the balloons were set loose too soon. Because of the wind, they blew around a while before they floated off.

Members of the military that recently returned from Iraq were a part of the pre-game festivities, including bringing out the huge flag.

The fly over is always my favorite part.

That would be former President George W. Bush in the red jacket. He threw out the first pitch which by the way was a strike.


Due to the wind - and lots of it - there were some problmes getting the flag rolled back up. See how small the people are down on the field compared to how high the flag is blown up.


The Rangers win! Except this is in the bottom of the 7th, not the end of the game.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Last Mango in Texas


Last month, I did the blog tour for Ray Blackston's Last Mango in Texas with a promise to post a review as soon as I finished the book.

I jumped on the chance to pick this book up on the blog tour because I've read all except one of the author's books (A Pagan's Nightmare just didn't compel me to buy it even though I've thought about it), so I was going to eventually buy this one at some point if it didn't come up on tour.

I'll start off by giving you the book description:

Texas Tech student Kyle Mango is attending a fraternity party when he meets Gretchen, an artsy animal lover whose independent spirit immediately sparks his attention. But after a month of bliss, they suddenly find themselves in rough waters. When Kyle inherits four oil wells from his uncle, he sees his affluence as an opportunity to impress Gretchen. But just before he makes his move, Gretchen hears news of an oil tanker spilling its load near the coast of Alaska. Leaving Kyle behind in Texas, she joins a group of campus activists in Alaska for the summer to clean oil from suffering birds.

Kyle is torn between managing his business--and being left lonely in the Lone Star state--and risking everything to fly to Alaska to pursue Gretchen. The young oil man soon discovers that oil slicks are nothing compared to relational slicks. The early bird may get the worm, but the oily bird can ruin romance! Through it all, Kyle explores faith in God and His power to change lives.

It was definitely the lighthearted read that I needed. I was certainly entertained by the book. All of the author's books are great reads for singles in their 20s especially.

However, I think that his book endings are getting a predictable. There were a lot of parallels between Kyle Mango in this book and Jay Jarvis in the Flabbergasted series along with a lot of similarities between Kyle's girlfriend Gretchen and Jay's girlfriend Allie. It's a book with a happy ending that I had figured out ahead of time.

Overall, though, I would recommend Last Mango in Texas to all my readers, whether you have read any of Ray Blackston's other books or not. If any of my local readers would like to borrow this one or any of the others from my library, just let me know!

Now, I have to decide what my next for fun read will be. I have some books I bought back in January with my Christmas giftcard that I haven't gotten to yet, then have a stack of CBE books from my friends at "WaterNomah" as well. Speaking of WaterBrook Multnomah, I signed up for a May tour of Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace, so I need to read it as soon as it arrives. Hmmm... I guess I'll keep everyone, including myself guessing.
Note to self... save the big thick book for the trip to South Dakota. You'll need it...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It'd be funny, if it weren't so creepy

Monday night, there wasn't anything on TV late, and I was watching a repeat of something on TLC. I think I was watching 101 Kids and Counting (sorry, got my Duggars and Dalmatians confused). Anyway, as one show rolled into another, I ended up watching Toddlers and Tiaras for the first time ever.

I always knew pageant people were peculiar and a bit obsessive, but, oh my...

This particular episode featured the Chittlin' Strut, an annual tradition in a small town in South Carolina. The director of said pageant introduced the event by explaining what a Chittlin' was. In case you weren't aware of the exact definition, a chittlin' is a three foot piece of pig intestine. However, it is not a requirement to eat chittlins if you win, but it would be really good if you did.

OK. Here's my first question. Why name a beauty pageant, and one that was stated several times to be a GLAMOUR pageant, after a piece of pig intestine?

But, even though it was a glamour pageant, they were looking for inward and outward beauty. They never did anything to show their inward beauty, so that seemed like a pretty dumb statement. And how do you judge inward beauty in the 0-12 month category anyway?

The commentary was just plain stupid. "This is Madison. She is eighteen months old and wants to be the center of attention when she grows up. Her favorite foods are bananas and chicken."

"This is Sarah. Sarah is five years old and enjoys chicken nuggets." Seriously, one of the lines was, "she enjoys chicken nuggets."

The preparation is insane. I'm really quite surprised that the 7 year old that was missing a front tooth didn't have a fake one to plug in.

They showed one girl in the 10-12 year old bracket that had her stylist (who would be styled by her, I have no idea) come over to spray tan her and to her eyebrows. Her mom was making her use teeth whitening strips and kept telling her, "you're a big girl, you can handle it." She also had a coach (a totally blonde airhead) that showed her this most ridiculous walk for sportswear. RIDICULOUS, I tell you. That girl one the photogenic, best hair, best eyes and Miss Chittlin' Strut in her age group. I think there was one more award in her group that she swept. There were only 4 or 5 girls, but she won everything.

One of the other girls in her group was not very pretty, and her parents were quite pushy. However, her dad gave up some of his golf games to pay for the pagents. She didn't have a coach, but her mom thinks she's going to have to have one now. Her mom did a bad job styling her because her sequined knit shirt that she wore over leggings was quite a strange choice for the "sportswear" portion of the competition.

Sportswear was a very strange description for all of these outfits. I don't know what these people were thinking. Way too much big hair and sequins. And hats. No one would ever wear these outfits anywhere. They actually looked like clothes that 45 year old women would wear in their Glamour Shots from 1989. No joke.

A mother of one of the girls, it was one of the ones above that were in the 10-12 year old group, had to practice walking in her heels by vaccuuming the floor. Evidently, as you move up in age group, your heels must increase in direct proportion. I think she was just making her daughter do housework, but supposedly, you don't really learn how to walk in higher heels unless you do so by vaccuuming (I don't think that is spelled right, but spellcheck didn't catch it).

The creepiest part of all of this insanity, and there was plenty of insanity, was they interviewed one of the girls uncles. He says, "When she is up on stage she is just gorgeous. She looks older than she's supposed to, but she's GORGEOUS." Uh, creepy uncle.

I did find myself laughing, but I don't think I will be watching the show again. It was just too much.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The wrong kind of attention

I had planned to do a lighthearted post tonight. I'll either do it later tonight, or I'll save it for tomorrow (sorry, Penny, I know I already gave you a tease).

Something is just really on my mind right this minute, and I want to get it out of my system.

I have certain people in my life that only call me when they want something. And they ALWAYS want something. They are the kind of people that most certainly receive, but never give. I have a hard time saying "no", so I usually give, knowing I shall never receive anything in return.

While I do understand 'tis better to give than to receive as a general rule, there becomes a point when enough is enough. I've come to that point with some people lately.

Then, there are some people that you hate to ask, but you know that they would do anything in the world for you. They are your "person" - kind of like Meredith and Christina on Grey's Anatomy. They put up with you regardless. Seriously!

If you have been watching Grey's lately, one of my friends has pulled an Izzy on me. NOT that serious, but not without its similarities.

She doesn't want anyone to give to her. She doesn't want any attention drawn to herself in contrast to many people I know. I don't take it personally, because I'm not the only person unaware of what's going on. Had it not been for the grapevine, I would have not be aware of it.

I just wish she was willing to receive.

Now, if she starts reading my blog, she's going to give me something, if you know what I mean...