Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Perfect Military Spouse Care Package

Last spring I attended a retreat sponsored by the Army Wife Network. Though I am an Air Force wife, the ladies at Ft. Sill welcomed me with open arms. One intriguing session covered creative care packages for our deployed service members. I considered the options: fiesta in a box complete with mini pinata, chocolate overload, or a birthday party including balloons.

My husband doesn't revel in celebration themes even when he is home. I could imagine his shock if I mailed him a complete Valentine's Day party - for one. But what I noticed was the ladies' excitement at the clever ideas. Women love decorating and color coordinating party favors. So what about care packages for military spouses? These women spare no expense and thought for their husbands yet neglect their own need for relaxation and pampering.

My answer is the Queen of the Homefront Care Package containing all the items a queen needs to revel in her role.

1. Wardrobe: Every Queen needs a sparkling tiara to serve as a reminder of who is in charge while daddy's away.
2. Tea Time: Beautiful tea cup and saucer, tea bags, shortbread cookies or scones add the perfect touch to a moment alone in the kitchen.
3. Royal Correspondence: Ornate stationary for those moments when email just won't do. (Especially when the royal subjects monopolize the computer.)
4. Quiet Moments alone: After an exhausting day meeting the needs of the royal subjects, the queen needs to get away. Lavender aromatherapy and a good Christian fiction novel help her to escape the stresses of managing the realm.

My husband believes that wives carry the more difficult burden in military life. See what other women are saying about Military Spouse Care Packages at Wives of Faith. You might be inspired to bless a military spouse this holiday season.

Blessings to you!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas: A Story of Sovereignty

Civilians see military life as a structured existence. Military wives in the midst of PCS or deployment will testify to the unpredictable, exhausting, randomness of it all. (Can I get a witness?)

In the past two months our family has encountered a happy homecoming from deployment, multiple delays in PCS orders, an emergency surgery, a minor traffic accident (does a bumper tap at 5 mph count?), a DITY move, and five children who think New Mexico is a barren land like Moses travelled during the Exodus. Each glitch forced us to revise our plans and eventually abandon plans altogether. Our new agenda was to begin tasks while on the alert for detours.

When I look at the Christmas story in light of the entire Word of God, so much seems random, yet the God of the universe had a plan. I delight in knowing that each step along the way, God was leading His people to a Bethlehem stable.

God revealed His sovereignty through the fulfillment of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies and foreshadowing of His Son. A garden. An Ark. Tablets of stone. A march across the desert. A big fish. A vision in a fiery furnace. A great wall. What once appeared random is now knitted together in a beautiful story of our redemption from Christ's birth to his death and resurrection.

Just before our PCS, someone asked me how I could be so calm with all of the chaotic circumstances in my life. My answer was simple. I know that God is sovereign. He takes the small pieces of my life and weaves them into the story of His love.

Take a step back this season and thank God for the random life of a military wife. You will see His sovereign hand guiding you.

Other ladies are sharing their thoughts about Christmas on the Wives of Faith Christmas Carnival. Check it out!

Blessings to you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mom's Christmas List

Thanks to Wives of Faith I have a perfect reason to post my Christmas list online!

1. Legos: My husband says the kids have too many already, but I am certain that we could build something amazing if we just had a few thousand more.

2. Books: I'm currently hooked on Jenny B. Jones (NOT Junie B Jones books for kids) but I'd take any Christian fiction titles.

3. Hills Brothers Double Mocha Cappuccino mix. They don't carry it in Clovis. I might die.

4. Pillowcases: I know this is a strange request. My friend Rachel Eggum Cinader takes pillowcase dresses to various missions around the world. Click here to Dress a Girl Around the World.

Thanks in advance, Santa!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Foods

Every December we make Candy Cane cookies. When my children were younger, they knew the season was in full swing when we spent the day making our own candy cane edibles.

We divide a regular sugar cookie recipe into two bowls and add red food coloring and peppermint extract to one bowl. Each child makes 6 inch ropes of dough. Then a red and white rope are twisted together to form a candy cane shape. Crushed candy cane pieces may be sprinkled over the surface before baking.

Looking for other great holiday recipes? My friends from Wives of Faith are sharing their favorite recipes today. Check out the Twelve Days of Christmas Carnival!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Little Town of Bethlehem

The world had been awaiting the arrival of the Messiah for decades. They speculated how He would reveal Himself. The day would bring celebration with a grand entrance of the Savior of God's people. Parades. A week of parties. Decorations. Can you see it?

Instead, hope came in a simple town much like the one you may live in today. It was a typical evening where families gathered, animals were fed, children sent to bed. (I wonder how many times they asked for drinks after being put to bed?)

The scene depicted in the Christmas carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, speaks volumes to my heart each holiday season. Over and over, the writer, Philips Brooks, describes the scene: "The town is dark and quiet... Mortal man sleeps... No ear hears His coming."

Then "silently the wondrous gift is given." Though a star and multitude of angels announced His arrival to the shepherds, many spent a normal evening at home unaware that the King of Kings was making His spectacular debut.

The ways of God amaze me. In the mundane tasks of my life, Jesus continues to give hope and love and joy. I pray that each day of this season, God reveals His hope to you and your family.

Want to read more inspiring stories for this Christmas season?
Wives of Faith is hosting the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Carnival.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Read It ~ Share It: The Noticer

Perspective allows us to step back and see the bigger picture.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from Andy Andrews book, The Noticer. What could a stranger notice that would be so life changing?

The man called Jones weaves in and out of the lives of normal people beginning with Andy. To the couple whose marriage is strained to the breaking point, Jones offers insight into how they give nad receive love. The sage offers advice to a businessman who fails to see his employees as real people with real needs. To a woman in utter despair, Jones shows how every life has purpose.

Eech of us has an opportunity to be a "noticer" in the lives of those we love. We plant seeds of encouragement in others. We see their purpose and success through the eyes of Christ instead of by lists of failings.

Andrews challenges readers with thought provoking questions as a followup to the story. How can we see others through God's eyes?

I especially enjoyed the chapter aimed at teens. The dialogue between Jones and the teenagers reveals the need for parents and wise mentors to speak up and encourage teens to make healthy decisions.

Don't read this book unless you are prepared to impact those around you with encouragement and perspective. Be a noticer!

Read It ~ Share It: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

provided to the Blogger Book Reviewers by Thomas Nelson Publishers

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christianizing My Yoga

When I mention to people that I attend yoga, they wonder if I’m dabbling in some mystical religion. Since my yoga instructor uses yoga poses minus the theology, I’ve used this exercise to increase my faith and scripture memory. Here are a few examples:

Focused Breathing: Breathing centers my thoughts on Jesus. I set aside the stress and busyness of life and prepare for prayer.

The “Son” Salutation: This opening stretch is my opportunity to testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1John 4:9) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

The Warrior poses: Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (Eph 6:11) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (2Cor 10:3)

The downward dog posed a challenge in my first few sessions. The few verses about canines in scripture are hardly edifying. (2 Sam 9:8; Judges 7:5) Instead I began to focus on the body being shaped like a mountain. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. (Psalm 36:6) Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. (Luke 3:5)

Try your own scripture and prayer when you exercise. It even works with WiiFit!

My yoga instructor closes her session with the standard greeting, Namaste, which literally means “I bow reverently to you.” I used to shy away from this foreign idea until I realized that it was the perfect closing to my time with my Lord.
Namaste, Jesus Christ, my Savior. I bow to You, and You alone.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Read it ~ Share it: The Power of Respect

Successful relationships are built on respect.

Deborah Norville, most well known for journalism and hosting of Inside Edition (CBS), now offers The Power of Respect. She addresses the effects of respect in homes, schools and businesses.

Data and stories support the premise that respect increases productivity. Norville explains that on the set of Inside Edition, mutual respect between staffers has made the program and enjoyable experience. Every employee is vital to success. She includes multiple testimonies of managers and business owners who invested in trust and respect of employees. Businesses such as Zappos and PartsSource, not only thrived financially, but people loved their jobs, too.

Medical and mental health professionals agree that mutual respect enhances relationships. I appreciated lists and sidebars offering practical suggestions from a variety of these sources. My favorite topic stemmed from finding out how someone else defines respect. I realized that my family may perceive respect differently, and therefore respond in a way I might not anticipate. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman contains similar ideas.

When it comes to personal relationships, I think Norville expresses unrealistic optimism. As in any relationship, business or personal, both parties involved must agree to the change in philosophy. This book will not replace needed traditional counseling or Biblical teaching. There are no guarantees that respecting your teens will make them less rebellious.

Whether you are looking for an opportunity to boost morale in your company or your own backyard, The Power of Respect (Thomas Nelson Publishers) offers helpful suggestions to point you in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Read it ~ Share it

In 2008, more than 2 million brides walked down the aisle leaving fathers and mothers behind. Maybe one of those beautiful girls moved out of your house.

She Still Calls Me Daddy by Robert Wolgemuth offers advice for fathers using the analogy of remodeling a house. A father releases his daughter physically, emotionally, and spiritually when she cleaves to her husband. This relational remodeling project requires communication and acceptance.

The concept of a “new normal” provides the book’s foundation. As young ladies date, they explore the family dynamics and habits of other households. Newlyweds then meld their ideas into a new normal.

Robert Wolgemuth takes this premise to the next level and asks fathers to facilitate healthy new relationships with their grown daughters. I especially appreciate his honest disclosure of his own experiences. He gives the reader the opportunity to laugh at his mistakes and cry over his disappointments.

Practical suggestions are scattered throughout each chapter. Readers who prefer a structured format will like the “Remodeler’s Checklist” summarizing each chapter in a lighthearted, sincere tone.

She Still Calls Me Daddy will be on our parent resource shelf for years to come. As our daughters grow up, it will continue to provide encouragement and insight.

She Still Calls Me Daddy by Robert Wolgemuth (Thomas Nelson)

Read it ~ Share it

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Hills are Alive!

Hello from Colorado! Land of mountains, trees, and wildlife.
My dear friend Lori and I are attending the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference this week. We arrived two days early to get acclimated to the altitude and the excitement level. Tuesday we drove into Rocky Mountain National Park and took pictures. What fun!
We enjoyed a beautiful drive and stopped often to tromp through the rocks for the perfect photos. Upon arriving back at lodging, we discovered a hitchhiker - the insect kind. There's nothing like "Tick Checks" to bond people together for life. (No picture available)
We wrote almost 5000 words in the past 24 hours. Then as conferees began arriving, we mingled with old friends and greeted newcomers.
The evening opening session included worship with Tom Ewing and a message from Sandy Cathcart about writing God's answer. Bonnie Calhoun blessed our socks off with the well-known song, His Eye is on the Sparrow. What an amazing way to get focused on why we write!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

No Free Puppies

Most mornings I make a pot of decaf. It still has some caffeine despite its claims. (My daughter's science fair project proved it.) Today, however, I'm on a robust high octane version. I sure need it!

My youngest child, Quin, offers moments of exasperation on a daily basis. This week I was pushed over the edge. You see, he wants everything... every toy on TV, every item on sale 30% off (this week only), every free pet.

His impulsiveness leads to some parental trials. This week's temper tantrum topics included:
  • Wanting to sign up for online gaming so he could win money
  • Deep desire to play tennis, or soccer, or be a cheerleader
  • Craving for papaya since they were on sale at the grocery store. (Mom, what's a papaya?)
  • Passion for learning how to use crutches
  • Urgent need to own a puppy. (Mom, I've never had anything to take care of except that hermit crab that died after two days.)
Frankly, I'm exhausted. Two months ago he randomly emailed people online trying to buy an exotic monkey to have as a pet. He lost his Internet privileges indefinitely.

You might think to offer all kinds of parenting advice. Maybe he's not getting enough attention being the youngest of five children. He could suffer from deep emotional disorder. Some of you might say he just needs a good spanking, while others assume I had spanked him which caused this entire problem.

A few of you have a Quin of your own. A child who leaves your jaw dropped. You ask yourself, "How did this happen?"

I don't know. But what I DO know, I will share with you. God has it all worked out. Every challenging day comes with His promise to be with me always. Discipline, counseling, and other man-made tactics will help me through the struggle, but ultimately GOD will be the cure. Today, with java and my Jesus, I will pray and pursue His holiness.

Do you have a challenging child? How is God showing you His grace through the struggle? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One Thing at a Time

Did you miss me?

Here I am back at my desk with a warm cup of coffee on a very rainy day. Many of you will be shocked to discover that I spent time weeding my garden this week. You probably didn't even know I had a garden. To be honest, it came with the house.

My youngest daughter joined me in the quest to rid our flower bed of miscellaneous weeds and wild grasses. At first she thought it would be easy to grab a handful of the green stuff and pull. Of course she only ended up with wisps of leaves in her fists. The root and some of the plant taunted her from the mulch.

"That's just going to grow again tomorrow isn't it?" she said.

"You are right," I answered. "Each one needs to be plucked out individually."

"But that takes a long time."

"Yes, but if we take care of one at a time, we will have a beautiful garden. Those weeds will stay away much longer." I answered.

I've been telling myself the same thing for two months. On thing at a time.

Stress has hit our family like a hurricane. When we have two urgent priorities, something else happens and we must add another. Car repairs, crashing computers, water leaks, hurt feelings, financial debacles all demand my attention. If I try to grasp the whole list in my fists, I end up with strands of success, but the roots remain to pull out tomorrow.

Don't misunderstand me. I know that God has everything under control. I am certain that His plan is perfect even when I feel like I'm drowning. (Psalm 69: Lord save me. The waters are up to my neck) I've never doubted God's faithfulness, but I can still fail to have enough hours in the day to get everything done. There are some thing you just can't delegate to others.

So here I am. A long list of weeds to pull. Instead I am drinking coffee and blogging... and praying. I am praying for YOU.

Are you overwhelmed? Maybe your To Do list has grown over night. Maybe you are single parent trying to keep half an acre cleared by yourself. Maybe you have guilt or anger that is suffocating your joy.

Take a deep breath and pray. Then as God leads you, take hold of each weed one by one.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I had to warm up leftover coffee from yesterday. I made a choice to procrastinate on buying a new bag of coffee. Now I'm suffering the consequences.

We all have choices to make. This weekend I chose to take my kids to a special worship program at another church instead of attending our regular service. Today I'm choosing to have lunch with my son at school instead of going to yoga. You chose to read this blog instead of doing your dishes. Bravo!

Sometimes the consequences of our choices leave us with a bad taste in our mouths - like this stale coffee. Do you ever feel guilty for making one decision over another? A friend of mine spent the afternoon with her daughter selling Girl Scout cookies outside a local grocery store. Later that day, she felt bad that she had missed a church event. Which choice was the right one for that day?

I'm inclined to believe that it is a good choice to invest in relationships with our kids. On the other hand, we need to allow them to have space and be self-reliant. Ultimately God is "judging the thoughts and attitude of our hearts" as well as our actions.

Today when I skip yoga, I am making a sacrifice to be with my son who needs a little extra time with mom today. But on Wednesday, I'll go to yoga with the assurance that I also need to care for this temple that God has given me. They are both good choices.

And even though sometimes I make the wrong choice, I am thankful for grace. Just like the sweet smell of fresh coffee brewing, God's mercies will be new tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Medicine for my Mood

Spring Break is supposed to be a wonderful family time. Not this house - not this year. Not only were we plagued with a stomach virus, another much more serious strain of sickness hit us with a vengence.

These were not your ordinary sassy comments. My children made criticism and hatefulness a real sport this week. It starts quietly. Siblings are really good at this strategy. It involves mumbling under your breath and paying close attention to what direction mom is looking. A casual "bumping into someone" which no one can prove was done on purpose.

Then it escalates to complete infestation. It was raging out of control before I knew what happened. There's a huge correlation between those pesky bugs that cause tummy troubles and the ones that infiltrate our spirits.

Now we don't use official foul language in our house, but words like jerk, dumb head and big baby were heard often. I tried all the standard methods of discipline with the exception of spanking. (They're all a bit old for that, but I was tempted!) I was horrified. It was a viral bullying that was running its course.

By the time I went to bed last night, I was completely exhausted in every sense. My body and my spirit were worn out from the battle. But today after my coffee and prayer time, I read something that God used to speak to me. Billy Coffey (love the name) posted a wonderful article about prunes. Prunes are not a good thing when you're suffering from the stomach flu, but this object lesson shows how something small can affect the big picture.

Lisa Whelchel has a great book called Creative Correction that uses object lessons like Billy's prune story to teach kids important lessons. Lessons like these aren't just for kids. They aren't just for Sunday School. They remind all of us about the truth.

And the truth is.... I need more coffee.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Defense of the Good Old Fashioned Book

The coffee pot is making its final gurgling sounds as I type. I know. How can I possibly blog without my mocha in hand? Well, let's just say I got a late start.

I stayed up late reading in bed last night. I've been looking for some Christian Chick Lit to read and finally found one I could dive in to. So there I was at 1:00am still turning pages and I began to wonder about ebooks. Many of you know that the world of publishing has turned to things like ebooks and kindle. (If you didn't know that, you should spend some time searching the web.)

In some ways, the world of e-publishing is wonderful. It's a green industry, saving trees and landfills. Accessing ebooks is very convenient. No need to leave your house to run to the library or bookstore. Publishing time can be reduced.

But as I turned the crisp pages of my new book, I realized that I will never be a total ebook convert. You see, I love browsing the aisles of the library. I love wandering the shelves of the local bookstore, pulling out the titles one at a time and perusing their pages. And when I've made my selection, I can cuddle up with my new book. I love to stare at the covers and soak in the details. I love to see my progress from a full stack of pages in my right hand to an ever growing pile in my left.

Not only that, I have collected these treasures over the years. We have shelves of multicolored memories. As a homeschool family, we've read some of them aloud and enjoyed the experiences at home and on long trips. My friends and I have shared the discovery of a new author and then raced to collect his works. A few of our books, novels and non fiction alike, have marginalia in them. (Marginalia (mar jin a' lya) - notes we write in the margins of books)

And then, on a rainy day I can skim the shelves in my house and find the perfect selection. Oh sure, I've read it before. But there's comfort in the familiar, comfort in holding the paper and print in my hands.

You can call me old fashioned. I won't mind a bit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Homeschool Physics Fun

I'm an eclectic homeschooler at heart. I've tried Classical education, Textbooks and other methods. Seriously, I just want to load my kids in the van and take a field trip whenever I feel like it.

My kids complained recently that we just don't go anywhere like we used to. One of my teens said, "Remember the time we drove to Grandma's and had to stop at a thrift shop because we didn't pack anything?" Honestly it was loads of fun! We woke up at 7am and left the house at 8. Those were the good old days.

Now that I'm old (my kids keep reminding me), I have to PLAN times to be spontaneous. Next month we are going to go to Six Flags "on a whim."Six Flags in Arlington (Dallas/FtWorth area) is hosting Physics day on April 17th. We are going to make a science lesson out of riding roller coasters. Now that's my kind of homeschooling!

Download this free workbook appropriate for high school kids. It includes schematics of different rides, problems to solve and more! Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Writing Cave

In the fog of early morning - the kind that comes from lack of caffeine - a signal shines on the ceiling. The silhouette of a writing quill beckons from the darkness. Who will rescue the people from passive voice verbs?

To the bat cave! Er... I mean... To the writing cave!

If only it actually worked this way for writers. Our goals of writing 2000 words a day never seem like a matter of national emergency. Instead loads of laundry and a list of errands interrupt productivity.

So what's a writer to do?

First, call yourself a writer. Say it aloud with me - "I am a writer." When I fill out forms at medical offices, I no longer write "homemaker" in as my occupation. Once I started calling myself a writer, I defined my daily purpose. My keyboard is priority number one.

Rachelle Gardener, literary agent, describes the life of a writer with a book contract. "What are you doing to prepare for the reality of being a contracted author?" Gardener asks. She offers suggestions for streamlining household duties and using your time and resources for your career as a writer.

Once you call yourself a writer, it's time to act like one! When Batman is wearing those ridiculous tight pants, his entire persona shouts superhero. I'm not suggesting that you waste time creating a costume and fake name. But what if your "writing cave" housed tools of the trade like a cool filing system, books of secret tricks, and a password.

Batman knows that his mission is important. Do you act like your mission is valuable? Today when you sit down to tackle that article or devotion or 90,000 word novel, compose your thoughts as if the world depends on it.

Holy Word Count, Batman! It's time to write!

(Hmm... I think extra espresso is a creativity enhancer. Or it just makes you have flashbacks to your childhood.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Writing is Yoga for the Mind

After two cups of coffee this morning, I headed off to the gym for yoga class. Our group doesn't get caught up in the mystical aspects of the exercise. As a matter of fact, I pray through scriptures that seem to correspond with different poses. I can center my thoughts on the Lord and ignore the fact that my ankle is over my head.

As I stared at my toes from the downward dog pose, I realized that yoga and writing have a lot in common. (I couldn't come up with a verse besides "A dog returns to its vomit." Not very inpsiring.)

Writing and yoga slowly stretch me beyond what I thought was possible. With the right encouragement and determination, I go a little deeper. Writing demands that I ask myself hard questions and come up with creative answers. The only way to limber up the writing muscle is to push a little farther tomorrow. What will I write tomorrow? A novel? An obituary? A love letter?

Writing and yoga gradually strengthen me. I condition myself by toning my muscles with good exercises. Yoga-goers know that poses are more than just aesthetically pleasing. They burn those quads and make them strong. Crafting phrases into stories works much the same way. Can I revise objectively? Accept criticism? Will I be able to burn away the "fat" and trim down to a well-toned piece?

Writing is yoga for the mind. Tomorrow as I raise my arms up in the "Son" Salutation pose, I'll imagine I'm in the throne room of my King. Then who knows? I may write a song.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Positive Influence

My oldest daughter is applying for a variety of college scholarships. (Yes, it makes me feel old.) Each scholarship requires typical information about family background, income and insight into the student's goals for the future.

One particular essay she is writing is about someone who has influenced her life. The picture above shows all three of my girls and their dance teacher, Reggie, following a theatre production of Seussical Jr. I am so grateful for the positive influence that she has been for my kids - encouraging, challenging, mentoring.

Not only that, but I am blessed to know that my daughter considers me to be one of the people who has most influenced her in a positive way. We strive to be an encouragers and mentors to those around us, but often we do not know if our actions really affect people. Are YOU seeking to influence young people?

I have worked with teens in small groups and it is interesting to hear what they say about adults who have that positive influence.

"Kari never overreacts when I've done something stupid. She listens and know that I already feel bad enough about it."

"Dad leads me to solve my own problems instead of just dictating an answer."

"Elizabeth's mom is so cool. She knows that what I'm feeling is normal. I never feel like she's laughing at me behind my back."

"I can tell my mom anything. She's my best friend."

"I'm more willing to do the right thing because I know my youth pastor really cares. He really believes in me."

What amazing gifts we have to share with young people - wisdom, truth, hope. What will you offer to them?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Creative Thinking

One of the greatest classes I took toward my Master's degree was a study of creativity. I was in my element! We took the Torrence Creativity Test, created games and learning centers for kids, and practiced creative problem solving techniques.

One of my favorites is a strategy called "In What Ways Might We..." or IWWMW for short. We would be given a situation (such as a cat stuck in a tree) and asked "in what ways might we" get the cat down from the tree?

Standard answers include: call the fire department, coax the cat with treats, and get a ladder. But when you run out of the normal ideas, what do you do? You get creative! You might go purchase a cat suit and sing a love song to encourage the cat to jump into your arms. Or what about renting a hot air balloon to lower yourself close enough to grab the cat. Of course neither of these are logical or the most efficient - but they encourage you to think outside the box.

Kids are great at the IWWMW game. As adults, we tend to shy away from the "silly" answers. Today I'm working on a fiction story that takes place in a fantasy world. I have a problem to solve, so I'm using this strategy to find a creative solution. You could use this method, too.

In What Ways Might We...

...get our kids to eat their vegetables?
...pay our credit card bills?
...exercise and enjoy it?!?
...make a decedent dessert for Valentines Day?
...remember to take our daily meds? (That one's for me.)

So, refill that coffee bowl, and get thinking!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Online Book Club

This morning's coffee (a German roast with a bit of real heavy whipping cream) was a real delight with my email. Each weekday I receive an email from Suzanne who shares an inspirational book with me.

Ok. Honestly I don't really know her personally, but after a year of daily "conversation" about good books, I feel like shes a kindred spirit. She's a fellow author and promoter of reading for enjoyment.

You can be friends with Suzanne, too! Each day she will share an excerpt from her book selection of the week. Readers from all over the country have enjoyed her amazing recipes and clever anecdotes about life in general.

As for me, I love all kinds of literature. Exploring new authors and relishing in well known selections just adds to a wonderful morning.

Click on Suzanne's link above to read with her this week!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Life Happens After Grapefruit?

This was a strange morning. My sweet husband got our public school kids out the door while I stayed in slumberland. By the time I woke up, there was no coffee and much to do. I found myself staring at a cold, juicy grapefruit instead of creamy mocha goodness.

Healthy - you betcha! Invigorating? Warm? Caffeinated? Well...no.

So what is life like after grapefruit?

I felt deeply inspired to go to yoga class after a three month absence. Unfortunately I only lasted about 20 minutes. I've had trouble with my back, and without a heavy dose of coffee, I wasn't going to make it far anyway.

After grapefruit, I ran typical errands - the bank, post office, library. All the while, I had this nagging feeling that I was forgetting something. You know that feeling. The one where you can't remember if you turned off the stove or forgot an important medical appointment.

It's almost 3:30pm. I'm feeling a bit desperate for the chocolatey aroma of my favorite blend with a dab of fresh whipping cream on top. A small amount of grated dark chocolate sprinkled over the... Sorry, I got a little sidetracked. (No doubt a lack of concentration due to coffee withdrawl)

It seems that even random people have some sense of order in their lives. Maybe it's how you organize your coffee mugs or the route you take to the coffee shop. You might be the most creative, unpredictable person, but I would bet that you have some treasured routines that keep you afloat.

As for me? I can smell the hazelnut brewing. It's almost time to start my day...again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mysterious Incident

So my kids were bored today. Our three who attend public school were home due to the ice, and our homeschoolers were having a moment of creativity.
They've made up crazy news releases to explain the incident: Dancer Attacked While Snacking. Several pieces of evidence were tagged at the scene including a half eaten bar of chocolate, one pointe shoe. and a nerf gun.

As you can see by the photo, the victim appears to have moved during the investigation. No suspects have been named. Witnesses and others with information should comment below.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ask Me Anything?

Our Air Force base was blessed with opportunity to host Dan Clark, world renowned speaker, for a weekend of encouragement. I was particularly intrigued my one of the principles he addressed - Are we asking the right questions?

As I sip my reheated coffee this morning (Yes, I reheat. Why waste a good thing?) I pondered the premise of asking questions that lead others down a positive path . Clark comments that the media is often trying to "solicit negative answers" and this dominates our cultures and attitude.

It's much more than "looking on the bright side." Clark boldly challenges every one of us to talk about things that really matter instead of focusing on negativism and what people have done wrong. He gives the example of the first free elections in Iraq which he personally witnessed. The media was swamped with stories of bombings at the polling places. The reality of the situation was out of 5,578 polling stations - 11 were targeted by explosives. What happened to the success story? 5,567 election sites were NOT bombed. Why didn't someone ask the question - "What did people have to say at the other polling places?"

So what kind of questions can we ask to change the tenor of conversation in our home, our school, our city? Instead of asking our kids: How was your day at school? We could ask: Who helped you the most today? Don't give them the opportunity to whine about it. Or what about asking "What is one thing I can do to make your job easier?" or "What are some positive things that customers said about our service today?"

I understand that we need to fix problems and make changes to improve upon past mistakes, but let's start the conversation without the barrier of negativism.

What questions are YOU going to ask today? Grab a cup of caffeine and leave me a comment. I want to hear YOUR ideas.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who Loves Free Books?

I am magnetically attracted to words like "sale" and "free." But that offer becomes an unavoidable temptation when it is related to books. Christian Publishing Tips is giving away some of their new titles to avid readers like YOU!

Those of you who may be involved in Beth Moore's study may want to check out the newest title by Jennifer Spivey - Esther: Reflections of an Unexpected Life. Or perhaps you have an interest in the Isaiah. Songs from the Vineyard reflects on the restoration of believers through devotions written by Russell Lambert.

One fun title that I'm interested in reading is called Time Out for Tired Moms. "Have you ever sent your kids to their rooms for a Time-Out and wondered…When is it MY TURN?! Well, Today it is finally Your Turn to GO TO YOUR ROOM!"

Entering the drawing for free books is easy. Just leave a comment on their site and tell others about this great offer!

Grab a Cappuccino and get ready to READ!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry

I never tire of Bible study, but occasionally I am looking for something new to make the lesson fresh. I want yummy treats and a cute devotional that I've never heard. I love skits that make me laugh. My eyes light up when I notice creative table decorations. That's why Julia Bettencourt is my new favorite resource.

Today's Mocha Java tasted even better after reading one of her devotions about COFFEE! (A woman after my own heart!) Her most recent post appeals to the homeschooler in me, applying botany terms to our faith. Who knew that the Holy Spirit was working in my xylem? I'm feeling energized already. Although, I think the caffeine could be helping.

Let me know if you find a useful Bible Study resource online. I'm always eager to pass along info for women's ministries.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To Tell the Truth

In a recent article, Beth Henderson calls fiction writing the "business of telling lies for a living." Maybe that's my trouble. I enjoy real life too much.

My friend Lori Poppinga and I encourage one another in the writing process. We attend conferences together, blog, tweet and even use a real telephone to keep up with the latest writing endeavors.

Through the process I've discovered that I really love writing about real life. Frankly this scares many of my family members and good friends. Inevitably their names will end up in print, for better or for worse. But whether its humorous or devotional, informative or editorial, I get a kick out of living every moment.

Sure, I play the "what if..." game like most people. This leads to most of my humorous posts or emails. But most of the time, I observe the world in living color and tell what I see.

Maybe I should consider the occasional fiction story. As Beth explains, it gives us permission to imagine all the possibilities and then "prepare to tell lies." What an awesome world we live in!

Check out Beth's article HERE.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just Like Mom Used to Make

I've been making excuses. Last week while we hauled furniture to a new house, I hurt my neck. The pain started as just an uncomfortable "catch" and then progressed to burning pain in my shoulder.

"No problem," I thought. "I'll just take some ibuprofen, and it will get better." By Friday, I experienced pain into my head and jaw, down my back and in my arm. Later, my arm went numb.

"No problem," I thought. "I really don't have time for this. It will go away on it's own." I finally submitted to my husband's offer to massage my neck and back.

Saturday was a bit better. I could turn my head in one direction and pretend like there was nothing wrong. Sunday morning I attended Base Chapel without too much difficulty. On the way home I texted my daughter to find out "whassup?"

"I'm just trying to control the pain."

WHAT? What did that mean? I offered to take her to the urgent care clinic.

"No problem," she texted. "I'm fine"

What a legacy I have left for my children. Excuses: just like mom used to make.

I read MamaArcher's blog about legacies this week. What if I replicate myself into a bunch of kids who neglect their own needs? I'd rather let them imitate me in other ways - prayer, trust, generosity, self control. You get the idea.

Today I've set two goals.
  1. Go to the chiropractor.
  2. Give my kids something of value to imitate.
It's time for another cup of decaf. Blessings to you!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions create quite a stir this time of year. Television news programs dedicate time to offer strategies for being successful. Pastors prepare sermons about how to be more Christ-like in 2009.

Health concerns seem to top the list of resolutions. Last night at a party, a friend of mine shared that she had started a new diet so was unable to enjoy the hors d'ourves. Too bad. They were really good!

Something happen when we take time to reflect on the past. We evaluate our progress. We examine our strengths and weaknesses. When the people of Israel contemplated on their journey, they acknowledged God's acts of mercy and compassion. Have you considered evaluating the past year by God's faithfulness rather than your own successes or failures?

When we take into account the hand of God in our past, it is easier to look forward with the same eyes. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God knows the plans He has for us to give us a future and a hope. When I think about what I will resolve to do (or not do) in 2009, I submit myself to the plans that God for me.

This could still mean that eating healthy food and exercise are part of God's plan for me. I might give up a bad habit, or be a safer driver. But more importantly, how will I be focused on being conformed to the image of Christ?

Casey's New Year's Resolutions:
  • I will spend more time encouraging others.
  • I will seek God's will in my daily schedule with willingness to say "no" to some events that God wants me to step back from.
  • I will communicate my faith to my children, friends, and family instead of simply "thinking about it."

Friday, January 9, 2009

I'm Back!!!

"When it rains, it pours."

The past two weeks have been a flood of challenge for the Pitts family. We shared a "special" family trip before my husband deploys. The day we returned from our trip we signed a lease on a new house and moved our belongings less than half a mile. We love our new home! It has carpet!

As many of you military wives know, moving even a short distance presents unexpected challenges. I had to wear the same shoes for three days because I couldn't find the box that contained alternate choices. When our phone company explained that they weren't certain that we could have Internet service, I said, "I might die."

To complicate matters, I was helping my husband develop advertising for an upcoming event and my laptop crashed.

So after more than a week without "contact from the outside world" - I'm BACK!!!

I missed you all! Let's get together for coffee in the morning!