It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  I usually wait until I “feel a blog entry coming on.”  But I think I’ll take a page out of my buddy WFHMom‘s book and just write about some random stuff.  I’m not going to do the 40-day thing WFHMom is doing.  Just a today thing.

1.  I love my kids.  Not just they-are-my-kids-so-I-have-to-love-them love.  Not just I-am-their-mother-and-I-will-always-love-them love. I ENJOY them!  They are 14 and 16 now, both girls.  I keep hearing about how hard it is to raise teenagers, especially girls. They definitely have their moments of drama; they push each other’s  buttons regularly; I have to fuss at them sometimes.  But for the most part, I am having so much fun with them.  They are funny, smart and clever, and they make me laugh — like, belly-laugh — all the time. They are great kids, and I’m not the only one who thinks so!

2. I hate politics and politicians. I have absolutely no faith in any of them, on either side of the aisle.  Don’t know what to do about that.  Just putting it out there. (Oh, and please refrain from starting a flame war over this. That’s part of what I hate. Thanks.)

3. To quote one of my kids when she was little, “Sugar…is yummy.”

4. I enjoy piano music… pretty much any format: Elton John, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Jim Brickman, Doobie Brothers (see: China Grove), etc.  If it’s acoustic piano, I’m more than likely going to enjoy it.  My mom has played piano for as long as I can remember, and that may be why it’s pretty much my favorite instrument. Just recently saw this on youtube, well worth the time.

5. Seems like every time I get attached to a certain brand of something, it gets discontinued.  I mean, it happens a lot.  Lotion, bread, cheese, makeup, you name it.  It’s annoying.

6. I spilled Diet Coke on my keyboard AND mouse yesterday.  Both went berserk.  On my husband’s advice, I took them outside and hosed them down, letting them dry in the sun.  The mouse seems like it is going to be okay.  The keyboard is toast.  I plugged it back in this morning and it immediately started typing returns, for 12 pages, before I got it to unstick.  If you press the space bar, it types 8′s.  The backspace button types plus signs.  David said it needs to dry more.  I don’t have time for it to dry more.  Fortunately, I was able to replace it fairly cheaply. (Chapter 2 of that little saga is, I also spilled some water on my desk a few hours later. I have outlawed uncovered drinks at my desk. I am apparently like a toddler in this area.)

7. Okay, that reminds me of a story about my sister.  Near the end of her life, she was a bit of a spiller.  Her husband had extended the kids’ rule of “nothing but water outside the kitchen” to her.  So, one day, I was there with her, and someone had brought over some crazy big, crazy delicious chocolate chip cookies.  She wanted to eat one, and she wanted to eat it in the den on the couch.  So, I sat down with her and held a napkin under her chin while she munched with great satisfaction.  She had eaten about a third of it when I heard the garage door open.  I told her we were busted.  Without a single word, she carefully and completely crammed the whole rest of the cookie into her mouth. No evidence, no crime.  My sister, ladies and gentlemen!

8. Our kitty cat was so happy to see us when we got back from Memphis earlier this week that she decided to forego the usual punishing-us-for-leaving-her phase of the return and went straight to I LOVE YOU SO MUCH I’M SO GLAD TO BE HOME PURRRRRRRR.

9.  What is the past tense of “forego”?  Is it “forewent”?

10. I just looked it up, it IS “forewent.” That’s weird.

Have a lovely evening. Thanks for tuning in.

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Sisters – The Next Generation

I’ve talked a lot about my sister Mary, and what our relationship was like early on, then as adults.  She was an incredible person, and my relationship with her, and the way I lost her way too early, was a lesson to me in how important our siblings are.  Especially sisters.

Well, now I want to talk about my two daughters, sisters of the next generation.  My older daughter is named Mary, for my sister.  My younger daughter is Leah.  They are 16 and 14, respectively.

Yesterday, after a couple of days of serious pain, Mary was diagnosed with kidney stones. She’s going to be all right, but is facing a few tough days.

Yesterday morning, she was hurting badly and waiting for me to come home to take her to the doctor.  Leah was getting ready for school, and she had Mary come lie down in her, Leah’s, bed so Leah could keep her distracted.

Today, after a long day of waiting for doctors and pharmacies to get their acts together, Mary was lying on the couch, hurting badly.  I gave her a pain pill and sat with her for a while, telling stories to distract her.  Then I needed to go take care of some things (like letting the family know the latest news), and Leah came in and sat with her – without being asked – and talked and laughed with her, keeping her company and keeping her occupied while we waited for the pain to abate.

My two girls most definitely have their moments of being at each others’ throats.  They know how to push each others’ buttons, and do so regularly.  That IS what sisters do, especially teenage sisters (though they’ve been doing it since birth).  But those two girls love each other deeply, and know the value of having each other as sisters.

I especially want to give Leah a shout-out, because Mary is getting the lion’s share of attention right now, and Leah not only does not resent it, but is actively helping take care of Mary.  She is being so incredibly sweet, and I’m so incredibly proud of her.

Sisters have a special bond that is difficult to explain to men.  Sometimes there is simply no one else who will do.  There are exceptions, of course, and that is sad.  But I was blessed to have that special bond with my sister Mary.  Knowing that my two girls have it, too, gives me a lot of joy.

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Christmas Music 2.0

I wrote a blog entry a year or two ago (I would check exactly, but am too lazy) about my thoughts on Christmas music.

Here are some new thoughts.

First, I figured out that I like some Christmas music a lot.  I like some Christmas music well enough to tolerate it.  And some Christmas music I positively can’t stand.

Guess what?  I feel that way about MOST music!  That epiphany has helped me a lot  this Christmas season, because it means I can listen to Christmas music on the radio the way I usually listen to the radio.  When it’s something I like, I turn it up.  When it’s something I like well enough, I leave it be.  If I hate it, I change the station.  Simple.  Just like always!

New favorites:

Let it Snow by Chicago
Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix (In fact, I discovered I like this song, period.  I love the end where it says, “Then he smiled at me!”  What a wonderful picture!)

Old favorites:

All I Want for Christmas Is You – Vince Vance & the Valiants
All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Sleigh Ride – instrumental version by Boston Pops Orchestra
Traditional versions of Silent Night, O Holy Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World.
Mary, Did You Know? (Kenny Rogers & Wynona Judd)
A Baby Changes Everything – Faith Hill
Charlie Brown Christmas

Songs I tolerate:

Holly Jolly Christmas
Blue Christmas
White Christmas
Please Come Home for Christmas (Don Henley) (do you sense a theme here?)

Songs that impel me to change the station:
Feliz Navidad
Any version of Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Santa Baby, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, or Frosty the Snowman.
Anything by Amy Grant

In other good news this year, I am doing pretty well this Christmas.  If you’ve followed my blog, you know that this is usually a difficult time of year for me.  I won’t say I’m doing as well as last Christmas, but I’m not in any kind of deep funk, either.  On balance, things are good.  It’s been a stressful couple of months around here, for many reasons, but we’ve also had more than our share of blessing, too.

So, Merry Christmas, everyone!  Thanks for following me, and thanks for being so awesome.

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The Songs She CAN Sing

My mother and I both learned sign language about 40 years ago, helping interpret church services. My mother advanced far ahead of me in skill, and could still interpret an entire church service now, were she strong enough.  I can get through a rudimentary conversation, enough to get by.  My daughter Mary is taking ASL (American Sign Language) in school as her foreign language, and she is outstripping me, too, in her skills.

Recently, a deaf woman my mother and I knew in Waco, Patsy Hoffman, passed away.  My mother (a multi-talented, multi-faceted woman) also wrote (and still writes, occasionally) for the Waco Tribune Herald.  Many years ago, Mom wrote a column about the deaf during “Deaf Awareness Week.”  Here is an excerpt:

The deaf I know give and receive comfort and reassurance with a most touching simplicity.  My husband and I visited our deaf friend Patsy Hoffman and prayed with her one day shortly before she was to have surgery.  In her Demerol haze, she sat up and held out her arms to be hugged, like a child.

Patsy reciprocated with a visit to me sometime later when I was recovering from surgery…. “I act pretty good,” I confessed, “but inside I feel like a big baby.”  She kissed my cheek, quietly signed “I love you,” and left….

The deaf sign for "I love you"   Staff Graphic - Phil Atteberry, Waco Tribune Herald, 9-28-85

The deaf sign for “I love you” Staff Graphic – Phil Atteberry, Waco Tribune Herald, 9-28-85

In worship services, I sometimes sense that Patsy would love to sing – really sing with her voice.  When conditions are just right – the songs are slow enough, or possibly familiar enough – she will follow not only my signs but also will form the words with her own lips as I do with mine.

Once as I was practicing at home I was smitten with the relevance of one song:

“There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus, listening, can hear
The songs I cannot sing.”

Privately, I fantasize that Jesus, listening, can hear the songs that Patsy cannot sing.

- Jeanie Mercer, Waco Tribune Herald, 9-28-85

As I was trying to tell my kids about Patsy this week, after hearing that she had passed away, I was struck with my own memories of how she would sometimes strain with the effort and desire to sing the songs she was signing.

Now she can.

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Singing to Fight Depression

This time of year is traditionally when my depression becomes more difficult to handle.  I usually have a tougher battle with depression from August to the end of the year.  Last year was a blessed aberration: I didn’t do anything special to fight it; it just didn’t show up.  For which I was intensely grateful.

I don’t know which way the wind will blow this year, but I have found myself fighting the beginnings of melancholy this month.

So I’m trying an experiment.  I noticed several years ago that, for me, singing has a way of mitigating depression.  But not just any singing.  This is a little embarrassing, but here’s what I do:  I sing in the shower.  Loudly.  With loud, head-banging favorite music playing on my MP3 player.

I don’t always feel like doing this.  But this year, as I said, I’m going to experiment with the phenomenon.  I am committing to myself that every night when I take my shower, I’m going to turn on my favorites and sing along loudly, whether I feel like it or not.

Now, it’s important to make sure no one in the house is trying to sleep.  I’m telling you… it has to be loud.  So if circumstances prevent me from doing this because it’s too late and others are sleeping, I get a pass for that night.

But for the majority of the time, it is my plan.

Now, I’ve also noticed the type of music is important.  Slow, sad ballads will not do.  And I’m sorry, but religious music will not do either.  It has to be strong, upbeat and raucous.

Here is a sample list of the music I’m talking about:

Boogie Fever – The Sylvers
China Grove – Doobie Brothers
Come Sail Away – Styx
Don’t Bring Me Down – ELO
Cowboy Casanova – Carrie Underwood
Heartbreaker – Pat Benatar
Mony Mony – Billy Idol
Lady – Lenny Kravitz
Mockingbird – James Taylor and Carly Simon
The Other Side – Aerosmith
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting – Elton John
Mercy – Duffy
Her Strut – Bob Seger
Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
Waterloo – Abba
Rock of Ages – Def Leppard

As you can see, it’s an eclectic list.  There are more, but you get the idea (I hope).

I’ll let you know how it goes.





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Who wants to hear a God-has-a-sense-of-humor story?

Things have been a little tight for us financially.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re fine.  But we’ve had to use up a lot of our cushion the last couple of months – braces for one kid and a new air conditioner for the in-laws’ house.  And business is slow for my home business right now, so nothing much is coming in on that front.

So, anyway, I was praying about it.  Mainly just, you know, could I please get some work in?  I completely trust God to take care of us, he always has.  But my mind would rest a little easier if I had some work.

Later on, I was cleaning out my purse (an embarrassingly big job).  And, as you know if you follow my Facebook posts, I ran across a couple of Wal-Mart gift cards in my wallet.  Figuring they probably had, like, 16 cents on them, I nearly threw them away.  But at the last minute I thought I would go ahead and get online and check their balances.  One of them had $70 on it, and the other had $6 on it.  What??  No idea where they came from.  One of them had “Happy Birthday” on it, with an original balance of $20.  This is the one that had $70.  What??

So, here’s the conversation:

Me: God, I trust you, but would you please send me some work so I won’t worry so much?
God: Quit worrying, I got this.  Go clean out your purse or something.

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We just buried my little great-nephew, Rocky.

Strictly technically speaking, I don’t have any blood claim to Rocky.  Let me back up a little to give you some perspective.

My sister Mary, who died many years ago, left behind her wonderful husband Roger, and their two lovely daughters Jeannie and Emily (who are like my own).  Roger remarried a few years later, and his wife is Marcia.  To quote Marcia, she and I are “sisters-in-law by choice”.  Marcia has two kids from her first marriage, Vanessa and Derek.  Vanessa and her sweet, strong husband Billy have 3 kids, plus Rocky.  I am “Aunt Amy” to all of them.

When Vanessa was 6 months pregnant with Rocky, she went into premature labor, and Rocky was born 3 months premature, at 1 lb. and 6 oz.  He spent 3 months in NICU, fighting valiantly to survive.  He was finally able to go home (here on earth) 3 months later, on November 9th, which, coincidentally, is the same day we buried my sister in 1994.  Last Monday, he lost his battle and went home to his Heavenly Father.

I was not able to get to know Rocky myself personally.  My sadness in this particular situation is for Vanessa and Billy and Marcia, and the rest of the family, and just for the fact that this sweet little one fought so hard and could not, in the end, overcome all the problems associated with his early birth.

I’ve never before been to a funeral for one so little.  It is heartbreaking.  The tiny little casket was pulled on a little wagon by his father as they left the auditorium.  The cemetery has a corner dedicated to babies, and THAT is heartbreaking, too.

As sad as it is and was, there was laughter today.  You get to see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a while in this situation.  In my case, I got to see a bunch of Roger’s family – whom I have known since I was 5 years old and consider as much family as my blood kin.  You can’t get together with that family and not laugh.

Rocky is being buried at the same cemetery where my sister is buried.  After the graveside service, Roger and his brothers and parents, and his brothers’ wives, followed me over to my sister’s gravesite.  There we stood in a little semi-circle and cried together, for Mary, for Rocky, for each other, for everyone who is sad over death.

Isaiah 25:8 says that God will “swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away all tears from all faces…”

“And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
‘Even so’ – it is well with my soul.”
(H.G. Spafford)

I long for that day, more and more as time goes on and I get older and experience more losses. The day when God himself will dry our tears and bring us all home to him. In the meantime, we lean on each other, and on our faith in anticipating that day.

The family solicits and appreciates your prayers.

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