Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 2015 Year of Dates: Bookstore Treasure Hunt

Tonight we began a new year of dates.  If you're not familiar with what this is, a few years ago I heard of the idea from a friend & jumped on board. Apparently it's a thing.  I had no idea but if you google "year of dates" there are a zillion ideas out there.  Anyway, so about what it is.  At Christmas, I give Larry 12 pre-planned dates, one for each month of the coming year.  Without a plan in mind, we tend to TALK about going on date nights a lot, but never get around to it.  Or the date nights end up being the exact same thing over and over.  So when I heard of this Year of Dates thing, I loved the idea of coming up with 12 really fun, creative dates that we'd both enjoy!  So tonight begins the 3rd year.  You can scroll to the bottom of the page & click in the labels section on "A Year of Dates" or "Year of Dates 2014" to see what we've done in the past.  On with our date!

First of all, I had to turn THIS....


...into something date-able.  It was tough work, folks.  I mean, really...that's a scary sight.  Fortunately I'm an Avon lady so I have tons of products to employ and I believe in the curling iron.  See?


Whew.  All done.  I took this pre-date selfie & sent it to Larry's phone.  He was sitting in the living room waiting while I got ready.  I sent it with the message "Hey cutie.  Want to take me out?  I'm ready!"  {To be totally honest, I had to take a pic alone because I wasn't 100% sure if I could convince him to take a date night pic with me, so I wanted some documentation that I got dressed up!  But more on the date night picture later.}


The plan for tonight:


We went to Barnes & Noble tonight at 6:30.  We each set a timer on our phones and split up to see who could find the most weird books by 7:00.  It didn't take long to find some crazy ones.

Here are a glimpse of the treasures we found.


After all, if you're having some trouble, the best way to fix it is to never actually talk about it.


I'm really not sure what the 5 very good reasons are to punch a dolphin in the mouth, but I glanced through the book & enjoyed several of the ironic or sarcastic cartoons.


Clearly, Alan Alda's dog died & he had it stuffed and he wants to advise against that.  I wonder why.  Did it scare the neighbor kids?  Did it fall off the mantle & break something?  Weird.


This was in the cooking section of the store.  Maybe a guide for all the newlyweds & young singles out there?


Like that will ever actually happen!  There's just no way to make sense of people!


Beyond the word "adulting", which I didn't even know was a verb, I love that it says you can become an adult in only 468 steps.  Is that all?  Just 468?  I mean, if it had been 469 it would've been too many!


Clearly, there is a problem if you are dressing your child in this way.


I'm sure there are major theological issues with this book, but the title struck me as pretty funny.  Please don't hate me if the picture & title are horribly offensive to you.  And if you do, don't scroll down.  The book titles get worse.    Well...not this next one, but after that.


I didn't realize there was a book for this.  I guess someone needs it, but of all the "for dummies" books out there on big topics like accounting, passing your SAT, potty training (YES, that is a big topic for parents of toddlers!)....I just didn't know there was one for raising chickens.

And then we reached the umm....not as nice, but still very funny books.  Mind you, Larry and I both have a pretty warped, silly sense of humor.  While neither of us TALK LIKE THIS in real life, we both found great humor in these titles.  If you offend easily, just scroll to the bottom & read the part right above the final picture.  If you think you can handle it, scroll on.


Seriously...what ARE they thinking?  The women of the world will never 'get' them!


Well...somebody's got to marry them I guess.


Someone wrote a book about this?  Who reads this stuff?


All these women telling about the life of a woman...and they are deemed to be the B word for doing so?  That's so weird.


This was in the cooking section.  But it's about doing a cleanse I think?  But she's talking about beauty secrets.  I'm really not sure where nuts fit into all that.

And finally...a book that many a person should read.


I love how Dick & Jane are high-fiving on the cover.  Sorry, folks...bad humor cracks me up.

I won't get into which book won, but I will say that we ate dinner at Jason's deli.  Their California turkey club is to die for!  But Larry's asiago roast beef sandwich was nasty.  Apparently it had horseradish on it & he hates horseradish.  He took it back & swapped it for something & the guy at the counter told him that the roast sandwich is actually their most returned sandwich.  So there ya go, a little heads-up on the yuck factor of that sandwich.

Now...about that date night picture.  I always try to convince Larry to take a picture with me and he does all he can to refuse.  If I guilt him enough, he'll usually go along with it, but he isn't thrilled about it.   Tonight on the way home, I reminded him that we hadn't taken our date night pic yet, so we had to take one when we got home.  He whined and said no.  I reminded him that one day when we were dead, the kids would need pictures for our funeral services and they wouldn't have any if he didn't take a picture.  He told me not to be so morbid.  So I tried again.  I told him that one day when we're in the nursing home & the kids are having to come change our diapers, they'd want to have pictures to put up on the walls to remind us of our younger days when we were so in love and doing fun things together.  And I told him if he never took pictures with me, the kids would go through the pictures and say "Wow.  Mom went out a lot.  This time in 2014, she went to the book store and took a bunch of pictures of funny books.  I wonder where dad was."  Eventually he agreed to take a picture with me.  ha ha!  YAY!  It's a little blurry, but it's a picture.  And I'll take it.  I even edited and added a sepia filter so the kids could hang up one for us at Shaky Acres that looks a little fancier.  Ha!




Thursday, January 22, 2015

You Can Never Go Home



There is an old saying that states “You can never go home.” The meaning behind that phrase is that, no matter how much you try, going back to whatever felt like ‘home’ in your past is never be the same. Similar to the phrase “You can never step in the same river twice”, with time comes change. Going ‘back home’ may bring mourning and sadness because things are always different after a passage of time.

This past weekend, I made a trip back ‘home’. I was raised at a Baptist church just north of town. My husband jokes that I cut my teeth on the pews there. As a child, we were there every Sunday morning and evening, every Wednesday night and usually many days in between for various programs and events. All of my childhood friends were members there. To this day, I still have a T-shirt that I sleep in that I got on a summer mission trip when I was in the youth group. (Yes, it’s old and worn and it is sort of amazing that I can still wear it!) I grew up there. All of my faith-based foundations happened there. Regardless of the number of years since I married and moved away, it will always be home. 

On Sunday, my niece was baptized at that church and I went to be a part of her special day.
Upon pulling into the parking lot and situating my family in a visitor’s parking spot, my husband laughed and said “I don’t know if we can park here. After all, your name is carved in the back of at least a few of those pews.” He was right. It felt less like visiting and more like going to a family reunion. Even after twenty years of living elsewhere or attending church in another building, there were familiar faces that greeted me and asked where I had been. It was as if I had just been out sick a week or two and they were concerned about my well-being. 

It was such a sweet experience to sit through the service and look around. My childhood best friend's parents still sit in the same seats. The baptistery where my niece was submerged is the same one I was baptized in. I noticed the perch where I once sat to play the part of Josephus in a childhood choir program. My high school algebra teacher still sang and played piano. My all-time favorite childhood Sunday school teacher was there to hug my neck. A good friend's husband still mans the sound booth. The youth group still sat just to the right of the pulpit near the front. It was a sweet treat to share an hour with so many voices and memories from my past.

But like the saying goes, you can never go home. There were a lot of things that were different as well. The choir loft is gone. The organist I grew up with wasn't there. The crowd was a little smaller. It wasn’t exactly the same church it once was, but that’s how it goes. Time marches on. People change. Churches do, too. It was not a bad difference, but it wasn’t exactly the church of my youth.

 However, as we sang a song that said “Our God saves.” I glanced down the pew and saw my still-wet niece raising her voice while holding hands with her sister. Indeed, it is a different church now but the same message still echoes through the rafters.

Maybe you can’t ever go home, but sometimes it’s worth a trip just to see what home looks like now. Have you been home lately? Maybe it’s time for a trip.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech


In mid-May 2013, a friend "liked" a video on Facebook that I clicked to see what it was about.  The video was 20-ish minutes long, but I got so sucked into it that I lost track of time.  The video was from the Youtube Channel called Soul Pancake.  The video was titled "My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech".  You can watch it HERE.  I promise you won't regret spending the 20 minutes it takes to fall absolutely in love with this endearing family, their ambitious and generous, tender-hearted son Zach and all his friends.

When Zach was 14, he complained of a pain in his hip to his mom.  Like most mothers of teen boys, she tucked it away in her mind but sort of felt like it would get better or go away on its own.  When his hip was still bothering him a couple weeks later, they went to the doctor to check it out.  It was bone cancer.  Osteosarcoma.  Soon after they found it in his lungs as well.  Off and on for 3 years, he fought recurrences of the cancer, but by the time he was a senior in high school, the family knew his cancer was terminal and they were looking at a number of months rather than years.

Zach's mother wrote this book shortly after Zach's death in May 2013.  He died just days after I watched his Last Days video.  Apparently I was not the only one who watched that video.  You see, Zach was a musician and a year or more before his death he wrote a song called Clouds that eventually hit #1 on the Billboard list as well as iTunes.  It was his personal 'good-bye' to his family, his girlfriend, his friends.  That song sort of made him a superstar.  He & his life-long friend wrote a number of other songs that they recorded as well, but Clouds was the biggie.

Mrs. Sobiech's writing is phenomenal.  Through watching the video (and the one year later follow-up video that is also on youtube now) and reading this book, I feel like I lived next door to the family and walked their cancer journey with them.  In a lot of ways, I wish I had lived next door.  This sweet family exemplify what it means to face a cancer battle with faith and hope, and then to face death and heartache with profound dignity & trust in God.

I highly recommend the book!  Very sweet.  Brutally honest.  Tender.  So good!

Friday, January 2, 2015

In 2015, I will....

As a teen, a girlfriend of mine spent the night with me a couple years in a row on New Year's Eve.  We would sleep on the fold-out couch in my living room, giggling until midnight.  The first year, we wrote out resolutions & then went over to my fireplace & burned them, "sending them up to God".  It was one of my cheesy moments as a teen.  Trust me there were PLENTY of cheesy moments, but that one is a sweet memory.  Especially since that girlfriend is still one of my very best friends.


As an adult, I realize that making lists of ridiculous things I'll never keep up with is just silly.  I used to write them down every year, tuck them into a drawer or something and then promptly forget all about them until I found the list 8 or 9 months later & wondered "What is this dusty paper in my sock drawer for?"


So I've quit making resolutions.  Or at least I tell myself that.  I don't actually sit down & write out a list anymore.  But I think we all have moments late in December that make us look toward January 1st for a fresh start.  Maybe all those holiday treats tempted you & you thought to yourself "Oh well.  I'll start over on that diet January 1."  Or maybe you read an article about exercise and overall health and you pondered whether your gym membership had expired or not, reminding yourself that January would be a good time to start fresh.


I've done all the above.  But on Thursday, January 1st, we were out of town working on my father in law's property so breakfast came from the donut shop on the way there.  And dinner was Taco Bell on the way home.  Then today, January 2nd, we were back there working some more.  Meals were a little better today but I drank a soda mid-morning.  So I've already mentally decided that the 'diet' starts back on Monday when I go back to work and the kids go back to school.  How funny that only 2 days into the new year, those good plans have already been pushed back.

But here's the thing.  There are important things beyond diet and exercise that I've fallen short of in the past couple of years.  Those things are things I really strive to do better at, but I have let things get in the way.

One of those things is this blog.  In some ways, blogs are almost a thing of the past.  I used to read a million blogs on an almost daily basis.  (See the right side of this page.  That blogroll is LONG.)  But many of those authors have done like me, falling into the trap of social media.  Facebook, twitter, instagram...all those things that take a few seconds of time to update.  It's funny how I used to find myself mentally writing blog posts every day, but in the past couple years I find myself pulling out my phone & posting those same things to Facebook in a few minutes time vs. sitting down to type out a post here.


Another of those things is reading.  I've always loved to read, but a lot of things (including the aforementioned social media) have become a roadblock to that this past year as well.  I'm excited to have a whole stack of books I am going to read this year.  {And I'm sure I will add more to the stack along the way.}  I've already started this one and I am loving it so far.


Another thing I've gotten behind on is my personal devotional time.  I am getting started in a Bible study at church in a couple weeks and have a new daily devotional book that I'm enjoying.  Plus I have a daily Bible verse being emailed to me.  Between all of that, plus regular church services and time of reading my Bible on my own.  I am going to try to work out a way for Larry and I both, separately, to take a night away at some point this year to go somewhere & spend some time alone with God and our Bibles.  Privacy, quiet, peace and prayer time sounds like bliss!


Something else I intend to improve upon this year is the time I spend praying.  For my husband.  For my kids.  For my family.  For my friends.  For the community.  For the country.  You get the idea.


And last but definitely not least, I am looking forward to finding new ways for our family to give more.  To serve more.  To help more.  That will go on the prayer list --- for God to reveal ways for us to do those things!


Is there something you're trying to improve upon this year?  (It's okay.  We don't have to call them resolutions.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: A Year in Review

What a year it's been! I would love to type up a longer post, but honestly I'm just trying to wrap my brain around the fact that 2014 is over. It has flown by. And we're hitting a whole new level of insanity (hover cars and robot butlers?) when I say that 2015 is right around the corner. So since I'm trying to digest this turn of the calendar page, here's a brief review of what we did this year. If you don't have time to go back & re-read the whole year's worth of posts, here are the highlights.

JANUARY: Read about Savannah's college decisions (or at least the start of that decision-making process) here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/01/college-decisions.html

FEBRUARY: Read about my trip to Houston with some ladies from church for the Unwrap the Bible conference here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/02/women-of-faith-unwrap-bible-conference.html 

MARCH: Read about the funny day I cleaned Samuel's room for him here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/03/today-i-cleaned-my-sons-room.html

APRIL: Read about my gout diagnosis here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/04/what-weekend.html 

MAY: I just cried (again) when I read this one, a reminder of those final days of Savannah's high school career just before she graduated. Grab your tissues & see the post here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/05/nearing-finish-line.html 

And then read about the quiet spaces of life that I found after our greatest loss of the year here: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/05/quiet-spaces.html 

JUNE: The way our summer began: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/06/lets-catch-up.html 

JULY: Savannah had a wreck in July. http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/07/savannah-had-wreck.html 

And then Larry & I took a short trip to celebrate our 20th anniversary: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/07/early-20th-anniversary-weekend-get-away.html 

AUGUST: We began searching for a new church late this summer. This post tells a little more about that: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/08/changes-ahead.html 

SEPTEMBER: I had a really sweet, memorable day in September with Jesus, Beth Moore and Katie: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-day-with-jesus-beth-and-katie.html 

Nothing real exciting happened in OCTOBER (that I blogged about anyway!), so I moved on to NOVEMBER when I celebrated my 39th birthday with this post: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/11/39-truths.html 

DECEMBER: I'm leaving you with two posts. One is a little funny: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/12/i-embarrass-myself-regularly.html

...and the other is serious: http://liz-ourblessedfamily.blogspot.com/2014/12/overwhelmed.html 

I hope you enjoy them both.

God bless!  Thank you for being part of my crazy world this year here on the blog!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Facebook vs. Blogging

I've fallen into a social-media-only thing.  Well it's almost solely social media that I get online for these days.  And it bugs me.  I like to write.  No, actually, I really love to write.  But somehow, over the last few years I've moved from blogging to social media-ing.  I really enjoy Facebook, but I find that I've made a mental shift somehow.

I used to mentally write blog posts throughout the day when I saw things or did things that might be blog-worthy.  Now, without giving much more thought to those moments of the day, I can pull out my phone, shoot a quick status update to Facebook, and then put it away & go on about my day.  So, all the stuff that used to spark really lengthy, thought-provoking blog posts is now being crammed into a short facebook post.  I think there are certainly things that I blogged about over the years that could have been summed up in a facebook post.  But on the flipside of that, there are tons of things I post to facebook that could make fabulous, longer blog posts.

So this coming year, that's a goal of mine.  I've got to learn to sit on those things I want to post for a short time & see if I don't come up with a blog post rather than zipping them out to facebook.

Can we call this resolution #1?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book review: Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline



A year or two ago, I borrowed a friend's copy of Lisa Scottoline's book "Look Again" and was hooked by the end of the first chapter. It was the story of an adoptive mom who got one of those "Have you seen me?" missing child postcards in the mail. She had seen the child.  It was her son!  The story digs into the moral question of what you would do if you were in her shoes.  Would you seek out the biological parents and try to return your adopted child?  Would you pretend you never saw the card?  The story was a MAJOR page-turner and had several twists that I never saw coming.  What a great book!

When another friend offered some books she had finished on facebook a couple months ago, I saw this one in her list of books & knew I had to get it.  If it was anything like the intensity of the first Lisa Scottoline book I read, I knew it would be good!  And you know what?  It didn't disappoint!

Don't Go is the story of Dr. Mike Scanlon, a military doctor who is called away from his young wife and baby daughter to serve in Afghanistan.  He doesn't want to leave, but goes to serve his country.  While he is gone, his wife dies in a household accident.  He is called home to deal with the aftermath of her death, to bury her and take care of the details of the estate and his daughter.  Fortunately his sister and brother in law live nearby and they offer to care for his baby until he can get home.

Upon his return home, he realizes that he barely knows his child, that there are secrets about his wife's death, that there were giant issues at home while he was gone.  After the initial visit to bury his wife, he must go back to complete his deployment.  Shortly after arriving back at his duty station, he is basically ordered to extend his deployment by 1 year.  He fights against the system to get out of this, but ends up having to agree to do it.  He is very worried about how this will affect his daughter who already seems like a stranger to him.

Some things happen (I don't want to give away too much!) but he ends up being able to go home early.  Sorting through the rubble of his life and trying to learn how to live as a civilian again is a very hard process.  He suffers with PTSD, flashbacks, physical/emotional pain and that's just what is going on inside of Dr. Scanlon.  The outside world is throwing some serious darts at him as well.

This book is such a great depiction of what happens in so many soldiers' lives both in the war and back home afterward.  Perhaps the details of the story are a little different for each soldier, but the message is powerful.

I highly recommend the book!