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Friday, October 29, 2010

A Halloween Story

 Once upon a time there was a precocious little girl who loved a good party. As Halloween approached during her fifth year of life, there had been no mention of a good party, however. So this little girl simply took matters into her own hands.

She walked up and down the street--because that's what five-year-olds were able to do in the late 1960s (very late in the 1960s, by the way)--and knocked on each door asking for her playmates to come out. As Greg and Mark and Rodney and Sarah Jane and Phil (although I think it was still Philip at the time) came outside of their respective homes, this little girl told them about a magical Halloween party that would be thrown at her house that very weekend. She told them there would be bobbing for apples, hotdogs, games, prizes, and, of course, Halloween cupcakes. She invited each of her friends to come to her party and then told their parents about the festivities, because even though it was the late 1960s kids still had to have their parents' permission to walk down the street to a party at night.

By the time the little girl headed home, she had invited every child on her street (and a few others on the connecting streets) to attend her Halloween party. And their parents had agreed to let them come. Pleased with her accomplishment, the little girl found her mother and told her about the party. She thought she might need to get busy decorating with orange and black crepe paper, baking those cupcakes, and loading apples into a tub.

The mother, a little slow on the draw, just looked at the little girl.

"What do you mean you've invited the whole street to a Halloween party Saturday night? Did they actually say they were coming?" The mother seemed shocked, surprised, even appropriately frightened.

The little girl had not realized that you still needed your parents' permission to host a party. She assumed that at the ripe old age of 5 you could just schedule such things on your own and them "book them" with your parents.

Big mistake.

Still, loving mother that she was, the mom quickly got on the phone and confirmed with the neighborhood moms that she indeed would be hosting a party for their children that weekend. Then she bought apples and crepe paper and candy and Koolaide and prizes. Then she decorated and baked and cooked and planned. Then she threw the best Halloween party in the history of that whole neighborhood--they all showed up. Then she gave that little girl a talking to.

That little girl has never forgotten that magical Halloween party. It was the best ever. If she does say so herself.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I hope it was okay to do this. I'm not sure. But I do know that this is an article we simply all should read. We should read it and study it. I should read it and study it. And it will make my mother very happy.

So I've copied the following straight from the Reader's Digest web site. Read and study carefully. Then you too will undoubtedly "Sound Smarter."

How to Sound Smarter
By Melissa DeMeo and Paul Silverman

You almost never mean: Hopefully
You almost always mean: I hope
Why: Hopefully means "in a hopeful manner." "I hope the boss lets us out early" and "Hopefully, the boss lets us out early" aren't the same thing.

You almost never mean: More importantly
You almost always mean: More important
Why: More or most important is probably what you want. Only if you're a pompous blowhard do you say things importantly.

You never mean: Between you and I
You always mean: Between you and me
Why: Between you and I sounds fancy, and therefore right, but don't be so quick to belittle Cookie Monster ("Me want cookies!"). In this case, me is correct because it's the object of the preposition between.

You almost never mean: Assessable
You almost always mean: Accessible
Why: A library is wheelchair-accessible. Your house is assessable by the county that taxes it.

You almost never mean: I feel badly
You almost always mean: I feel bad
Why: Is your sense of touch physically impaired (almost never) or are you feeling some guilt after screwing up (almost always)?

You never mean: Equally as well (important, etc.)
You always mean: Equally well
Why: The as isn't necessary. "I speak Latin and pig Latin equally well."

You never mean: The reason is because
You always mean: The reason is that
Why: The reason is that the word reason implies because. Likewise, why say "the reason why" when you can say "the reason"?

You almost never mean: I need to lay down
You almost always mean: I need to lie down
Why: This is another case where people think (wrongly) that a particular word sounds more "educated." Lay and lie are not interchangeable. Lie doesn't require an object: "I need to lie down." But lay does: "I need to lay my head down." Confusion kicks in because of the past tense of both verbs—lie becomes lay; lay becomes laid—but the usage stays the same.

You never mean: Chaise lounge
You always mean: Chaise longue
Why: People have been getting this wrong for at least a century. The proper phrase is French and translates as "long chair."

You never mean: ATM machine, PIN number
You always mean: ATM, PIN
Why: Redundancy ("automated teller machine machine," "personal identification number number").

You almost never mean: Historical
You almost always mean: Historic
Why: In short, historic means "significant" ("a historic election"). But if you intend "occurring in or relating to history," go with historical (think "historical data" or "a historical link between the two world wars"). By the way, it's never "an historic/historical event." The vowel sound "a" should precede a consonant sound (like the hard "h" in historic).

You never mean: The person that
You always mean: The person who
Why: A human is a "who." Anything else (yes, including animals) is a "that."

You never mean: Could of
You always mean: Could have
Why: This error pops up because of the similar pronunciations. But remember, every sentence needs a verb: "I could have written a better cover letter."

You never mean: Most everyone
You always mean: Everyone
Why: Make up your mind: If you truly mean "every person," use just everyone. If not, say most people.

You never mean: I feel nauseous
You always mean: I feel nauseated
Why: In strict terms, nauseous means "to cause nausea" (as in "a hateful, nauseous person"); nauseated means "afflicted with nausea" (as in "I'm nauseated").

You never mean: Very unique
You always mean: Unique
Why: Unique things and people are one of a kind, absolute.

You never mean: For all intensive purposes
You always mean: For all intents and purposes
Why: Even if you do get it right, you don't need this expression. It's just filler.

You almost never mean: I literally laughed my head off
You almost always mean: I laughed my head off
Why: Literally means "actually" and is best reserved for real events.

You never mean: Merge together
You always mean: Merge
Why: The phrase is redundant (as are combinations like absolute necessity, free gift, and a pair of twins—unless you mean two sets of twins, that is).

You almost never mean: Orientate
You almost always mean: Orient
Why: Orientate is a word, but it means "to face east." "The tour was designed to orient new students."

You almost never mean: Impact
You almost always mean: Affect
Why: Impact shouldn't be forced into service as a verb. No: "The decision impacts everyone." Yes: "The decision affects everyone."

You never mean: Off of
You always mean: Off
Why: Some words are perfectly fine on their own. "May I bounce an idea off you?"

You almost never mean: In order to
You almost always mean: To
Why: See above.

You never mean: Comprised of
You always mean: Comprises
Why: Comprises equals includes.You'd never say "My grocery list includes of milk, eggs, and kiwis." Same goes for comprises. (Use of with compose: "The sculpture is composed of wire hangers.")

You never mean: Everyone has their grammar hang-ups
You always mean: Everyone has his or her grammar hang-ups
Why: Everyone, everybody, and close cousin each are singular, so words that refer to them should also be singular. Or, since we all have our grammar hang-ups, you could just rephrase the sentence.

And, in homage to my mother, I must add one more:

You never mean: Irregardless..
You always mean: Regardless..
Why: I'm appalled that "irregardless" did not send my spell check into spasms. In fact, a quick perusal of the Webster online dictionary proves that there is such a word as irregardless.  Regardless, if you want to sound smarter don't use it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Letting You Know

This isn't a new regular or weekly post category or anything, but today I just need to let you know a few things:
  1. They appear to show different commercials on the television during the day--ones that are dumbed down for the stay-at-home crowd. I paused for a bite to eat and a quick TV break around noon and I saw the most dumbfounding commercials I had ever seen. Presumably they assume that anyone who is home during the day and watching television is either a kid skipping school, an unemployed bum, or a sleep-deprived mommy. Thus, the different level of Madison Avenue propaganda...
  2. Putting candy corn in a big glass pumpkin and putting it on your sofa table with the rest of your fall decorations may seem like a good idea. But if you're the only one who likes candy corn it may not be. I am the only one to blame as the yellow and orange mound shrinks!
  3. My blogging friend Beth is having a great give-away at her blog: a couple of Starbucks gift cards in honor of her 300th post. But if you hurry on over there you'll not only have the opportunity to enter, but you'll get a taste of her brand of "sweet humor" too with her most current post. She's a delight and you really need to go meet her. If you enter the contest, let her know I sent you. I like to earn as many brownie points in the cosmic scheme of things as possible!
  4. No, I'm not really into the "cosmic scheme of things." I just like how that sounded.
And that's all I needed to let you know. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

When It Finally Happens

Have you ever anticipated something with such excitement and hope that you knew if it actually happened you would jump up and down, spin around, and possibly die of exhilaration right there on the spot? And then when that thing actually happened (praise God from whom all blessings flow!) you didn't jump up and down but sat very still, you didn't spin around but simply breathed in and out, and you didn't die at all?

Yesterday I got some very good news. A very exciting thing happened to me... the kind of thing that if you'd told me even six months ago that it would happen, I'd have said, "Absolutely no way, spare an act of God." And that of course is exactly what it was...an act of God. A thing so huge and so inconceivable that I still haven't really wrapped my brain around it. And it might turn out to be even huger than it presently appears to be.

And yet, I'm sitting pretty calmly today. I'm not overcome with glee, but simply pleasantly at peace. In all it's grandeur it doesn't hold the glitz and glamor that I would have thought it did. It simply feels right, affirming, and good. Instead of strutting it like a new mink coat, I'm just wearing it like a comfortable new sundress. It feels right, but it doesn't feel like I thought it would.

And I'm so glad. I'm glad that such good news, such a good turn of events, such a neat assignment doesn't turn my head like it used to. After all, even when it's not raining roses, God is good every day, not just on the days when rainbows are shining in the distance.

I'm satisfied with my God every day. Today is an especially good day, but my God is especially good every day. That's a good feeling.

Unfortunately I'd better not let the cat out of the bag quite yet. Just pray for God to guide. Something good and amazing is in the works, but I'm not quite able to publicize it yet.

Indeed, God is good, very good.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Are You Looking Like Betty White Out There?



Some days just require more of us than others.

The day you take your kindergartner to school for the first time.

The day you find out the dishwasher isn't cleaning dishes, the car isn't running, and the shampoo isn't leaving your hair bouncy and full.

The day you stand by your mother's hospital bed and assure your dad she's going to be okay.

The day your teenager comes home with a broken heart.

The day your teenager breaks your heart.

The day your best friend has a mild heart attack and you want to be by her side but you need to feed and bathe her children instead.

The day your child is diagnosed with a learning disability.

The day your husband tells you he got a transfer... to another state.

Need I go on? No, you probably had one such day in the recent weeks. You know what I'm talking about. Sometimes we just have to struggle to stay on our feet, push hard to make any progress, watch our backs a little more carefully, and defend our team mates with a little more vigilance.

If we are operating on empty on those days...we'd better watch out.

We'll say things we later regret, fall on our face, tackle the wrong guy, head the wrong direction with the ball, end up with mud on our face or just wimp out. We'll look like Betty White on the field alright. And that's putting it nicely. After all, Betty's doing pretty well lately.

It's times like these that we really need to make sure we're operating with full souls.

But how can we do that when we're having to pour out so much?

Isaiah 58:10-11 says:

and if you offer yourself to the hungry,
    and satisfy the afflicted one,
    then your light will shine in the darkness,
    and your night will be like noonday.   
The LORD will always lead you,
    satisfy you in a parched land,
    and strengthen your bones.
    You will be like a watered garden
    and like a spring whose waters never run dry.

Did you catch that? If we're drinking from the living water, we'll never run dry, even in the times when we are pouring out the most. In fact, we'll continue to function like a well watered garden.

That's good news for a lot of us today. We don't have to look like Betty White on the playing field and we don't have to look like dried up tumbleweeds in the desert. And while I'm all for having a Snickers bar every now and again, they can just make you all the thirstier. Let's stick with the fountain of living water today. 

It's true, "You're not you when you're hungry."


Thursday, October 21, 2010

THEY Need to Get Themselves Over Here!

I don't know if it is communicated in the timbre of the above title, but I just wrote a very snippy, whiny, negative blog post. It was not pretty.

Then I deleted it. Consider yourself spared.

I don't often "hold my tongue." Not nearly as often as I need to. In fact, I did already zip off one fairly snippy e-mail this week in response to a snippy one that I received. That night I lay in bed and wished there was a way to retrieve it. Alas, there wasn't. The damage was done.

Hopefully the pitifully repentive telephone call I made the next morning at least made a dent in restoring my relationship with the recipient of that e-mail.

But this time I'm holding my tongue. Besides, I wasn't spewing my venom at anyone particular this time, just "them" or more specifically "they." But "you" don't need to hear what I had to say to or about "they." Trust me, it wasn't pretty.

And so, I've highlighted and deleted.

Colossians 4:6 says,

Your speech should always be gracious, 
seasoned with salt, so that you may 
know how you should answer each person.

Funny how just typing that scripture has calmed my spirit, removed some of the poisonous venom. 
Grace. It's a powerful thing. It's very similar to highlighting and deleting. But instead of leaving a vacuum, it fills in the empty space with love and joy and peace and patience...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Afraid? Just Climb In!


She's all smiles now, but it wasn't always so. 
Once upon a time there was a little girl who was deathly afraid of characters. You read that right. She was afraid of any large, fluffy, walking character such as Chuck E. Cheeze,



Mickey Mouse, Ronald McDonald, or even Snow White.
My little girl would cry and pitch a whopper of a fit if any such "live" cartoon character even came into her viewing range, much less walked up to her and tried to touch or wave at her. She simply would have none of that.

For years, we would have to make sure Chuck E. didn't bother her while she ate her pizza, that Ronald didn't try to give her a smile while she dipped her chicken nuggets in sauce, and that Snow White didn't come within ten feet of her at her own home: Disney World. Speaking of Disney World, can you imagine taking such a child there? But we did. That was interesting...

Recently I asked Abby if she remembered being afraid of "characters." Remember? According to her, she still is afraid of them!

And I suppose that's why she dresses up like one each Friday night...


They say that courage is not the lack of fear, but the stepping up despite the fear. It is moving on out even though you do not know what is ahead. It is saying yes even though you're not sure of the results. And it's getting up each morning and getting dressed even though you feel unsettled about what lies ahead.
And maybe it's putting on a fluffy horse's head even though you are squeamish around a big, friendly mouse.


"Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, 
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9

By the way, I asked Abby if she was afraid of Bucky, her co-mascot, and she said yes. But I guess she just plows on through her fears in the name of team spirit.


 Psalm 118:6a, 7a, and 8 say:

The Lord is for me; I will not fear...
The Lord is for me among those who help me...
It is better to take refuge in the Lord 
Than to trust in man.

I don't know why I felt compelled to write on this topic today, but chances are there is someone reading who is fearful of something. That's ok. We all fear some things, some of the time. My daughter fears people in animal costumes for pete's sake. 

But don't let your fear keep you from doing what God has called you to do. He is able to protect and guide you. He will go before you and walk with you and bring up the rear, too. 

Now if I could just get Abby to sit still for shots and blood tests. We're still working on that one.

Monday, October 18, 2010

While Others Let You Down...

Jesus never does.

He never lets you down. When you're satisfied through and through with Him, you can always have the consistency of having One in your life who will never let you down.

I've hinged my hopes on other people before. Some of them were and still are very loving, dependable, good-willed, good-intentioned, and good-hearted people. I hitched my satisfaction to my parents, my husband, my children, my friends... all wonderful people. But they've all, to a person, disappointed me at some point in my life.

I don't think that is earth shattering news to them or to anyone else. I've disappointed them, too. Probably two or three times to every one that they've disappointed me. That's just the nature of human relationships.

And those don't have to be huge disappointments, either, to qualify as stumbling blocks in my life. Maybe someone was late, unavailable when I needed them, short-handed, inattentive, distracted, in a bad mood or a dollar short. Maybe they didn't stroke my ego when I craved their words of affirmation. Maybe they didn't remember my birthday. Maybe they didn't speak to me immediately upon entering my presence.

It doesn't take much to disappoint most of us, does it?

And when we depend on people to feed our souls - to provide constant and unconditional love, to pay attention to us, to affirm us, to give us significance and worth, to be our constant companions - then we're just setting them up for failure and ourselves up for disappointment. Eventually, everyone will disappoint us.

But Jesus never does.

I've learned it's much smarter, wiser to depend on Jesus - the One who never lets us down - and give others grace. Sometimes people will tickle us pink with their attention and love and affirmation. Other times, not so much. But if we're not hinging our happiness on them, then they actually seem to exceed our expectations more often than they disappoint.

Just a little something to think about...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

But How Do You Get on Your Feet?

Have you ever felt like you were set free from something, but still not able to get up on your feet and walk on? Have you found yourself knowing the truth about a daunting situation, but still not able to operate with any degree of victory because you just can't seem to move on?

I think that's where a lot of people, even Christians, live - in a place where they're caught between the despair of immobilization and the exhilaration of victory.

The Bible says,

You will know the truth, 
and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32

I've known for years that the Word of God indeed is truth and that it has the power to set us free from all sorts of things
  • wrong thinking
  • unforgiveness
  • sin
  • bitterness
  • selfishness
  • cults
  • repetitive issues in our lives
  • etc.
And in fact the Word of God, the truth, has set me free on many occasion. But, there have been times when the truth has set me free only for me to fall down again, ending up right where I started. It's almost as though the chains that bound me (wrong thinking, habitual sins, worldly ideas, unforgiveness, you name it) kept me shackled so long that while I sat imprisoned on the floor of that dank and dark dungeon my muscles atrophied and weakened. So when the chains were removed by the truth of God's Word, I still couldn't get up and move on out into a victorious place.


Yesterday I started listening to a CD series by June Hunt of Hope for the Heart ministries called "Hope: the Anchor of the Soul." June is one wise lady and I have been amazed at how much I've learned from the few CDs I've listened to in the past two days.

But here's the bottom line that I wanted to share with you. June suggests that while the truth may set us free (and she wholeheartedly believes it does) some of us can't move into victory because we have no hope. We believe the truth, but we can't apply it to our lives, we can't walk in it, we can't see how it's going to work for us. Why not? Because somewhere along the way we lost hope. We began to believe that our situation was somehow hopeless.

But that's just not true. We are not without hope who have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the anchor of our hope. In Christ, we have hope. Apart from Him we have positive thinking, well wishes, and luck. But with Him, we have hope.

The truth sets you free, but hope sets you on your feet.

Hold onto hope, sweet friend. Hold onto Jesus, the anchor of your hope.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This is What Hungry Looks Like



This is what hungry looks like on Heidi Montag. But we're all hungry. So lest we get on our high horse and tromp all over Heidi, let's admit that most of us have taken a wrong turn or two in our attempts to feed our hungry souls.

I'm with George Stephanopoulos on this one (we agree so rarely, it's worth noting when we're thinking alike!). It's sad. It's disturbing.

But here's the bigger tragedy.

There are hungry people all around us who are going to similar extremes to feed those empty spaces. There's nothing wrong with being hungry. But there's everything wrong with the ways some of us, perhaps most of us, have tried to feed those hungers in the past.

Whether you know someone who is craving to feel beautiful (like Heidi) or hungry to be appreciated or starving for affection or thirsty for significance or aching for a little love or clamoring for success or begging for purpose, you may be able to help them out a little. Tell them about the One who satisfies like no other. Show them what satisfaction looks like. Brag on the Lord who has satisfied your cravings. And give them a taste of hope.

No one should go hungry.