Thursday, December 31, 2009
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
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
Sunday, December 27, 2009
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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'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
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.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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?