Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's So Easy to Give!

Every day, I hit two different websites that let me do something good. It's quick. It's easy. And it's worth it. Take the time to put these URLs in your Favorites and help make a difference.

The first site is Xerox's Let's Say Thanks website. The URL is The website gives us an opportunity to send a free printed postcard to US military personnel stationed overseas showing our support and appreciation for their service to our country.

Several homemade cards scroll by, made by students across the country. Once you select a card, enter your name, hometown, and state. Then you select one of the comments already typed up. Click Submit and you're done. That's all there is to it. You've just sent a card to a military member!

The second website is The Click to Give Site. You can 'click' daily and sponsors will cough up the money for various causes. In all, there are six tabs across the top of the screen that allow you to get sponsors to donate. You can get to all of the sites from any one of the following URLs. (I pulled the following verbiage from the site listed.)

The Hunger Site was founded to focus the power of the Internet on a specific humanitarian need: the eradication of word hunger. Since its launch in June 1999, the site has established itself as a leader in online activism, helping to feed the world's hungry. On average, over 220,000 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the yellow "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button. To date, more than 200 million visitors have given more than 300 million cups of staple food. The food funded by clicks at The Hunger Site is paid for by site sponsors and distributed to those in need by Mercy Corps and America's Second Harvest. 100% of sponsor advertising fees goes to our charitable partners. Funds are split between these organizations and go to the aid of hungry people in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and North America. The URL is

Your click on the pink "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button helps fund free mammograms for women in need — low-income, inner-city and minority women whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited. Your click is paid for by site sponsors, and mammogram funding is provided to clinics throughout the U.S. through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The URL is

The Child Health Site is dedicated to funding simple and very effective preventatives and treatments with the goal of robust child health around the globe. Your daily click funds the administration of Vitamin A to prevent life-threatening childhood illness and disease as well as one preventable cause of childhood blindness; the manufacture and fitting of children's prostheses so that a child injured by a landmine or other accident can still walk, run and play and still has a fighting chance to be a productive contributor in his or her society as an adult; eye surgeries that can reverse one kind of childhood blindness; and HIV testing that will alert medical personnel that a mother may pass the infection onto her child at birth so that she can be treated and the newborn spared of this terrible disease. When you click, once per day, every day, you are helping to get these types of treatments and services to the children who need them most. On average, over 70,000 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the blue "Click Here to Give - It's FREE" button. To date, more than 100 million visitors have helped more than 2,161,000 children. The URL is

The Literacy Site is dedicated to funding free books for children. On average, over 70,000 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the orange "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button. To date, more than 55 million visitors have helped provide more than a million books to children who need them most. Access to books is essential to reading development. Yet 61% of low-income families in the US have no books for children in their homes. Over 80% of childcare centers serving low-income children lack age-appropriate books and other print materials. By providing children from low-income families with books that they can take home and keep, together we target the only variable that correlates significantly with reading scores: the number of books in the home. Worldwide, there are more than 770 million illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds of whom are women and girls. In addition, there are over 100 million children not currently enrolled in primary school and millions of others not currently in secondary school. Education is a lifelong gift that empowers people to ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries, and future generations. Through the opportunities that only an education can provide, we can break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. The URL is

The Rainforest Site is dedicated to the preservation of rainforests around the world. Your daily click funds the purchase of rainforest land by The Nature Conservancy, The Rainforest Conservation Fund, The World Parks Endowment, and Rainforest2Reef. These organizations work to preserve rainforest land in Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, and other locations worldwide. On average, over 35,500 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the green "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button. To date, more than 150 million visitors have preserved more than 40,500 acres of land. The URL is

The Animal Rescue Site focuses the power of the Internet on a specific need: providing food for some of the 27 million unwanted animals given to shelters in the US every year. Over 10 million animals are put to death every year in the US alone because they are abandoned and unwanted. Each click on the purple "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button at The Animal Rescue Site provides food and care for a rescued animal living in a shelter or sanctuary. Funding for food and care is paid by site sponsors and distributed to animals in need at the Fund for Animals' renowned animal sanctuaries, pet shelters supported by the Petfinder Foundation, North Shore Animal League, and other worthy animal care facilities supported by the foundation. The URL is

Friday, December 28, 2007

How You Live

Last night I went to a candlelight memorial for Cheryl Biggs. It was on the square downtown. And it was beautiful. So many friends, both from our community and the Emmaus community. It was cold, but not cold enough to keep us away.

There were so many things about the evening that touched my heart, but as always my favorite was the music. Lauren sang a song by Mercy Me called 'Bring the Rain'. The premise of the song is that it doesn't matter what hardships and heartaches we go through in this life. What matters is that we have a God that is in control at all times. So why be afraid. Bring on the rain! I had never heard this song before and Lauren sang it beautifully.

The very last song that we heard was a tribute to the life that Cheryl led. I've decided I need to go out and buy this song. I loved it. The only thing it's missing is a beat that would make me get up and dance. But the words definitely make up for that.

How You Live
Point Of Grace

Wake up to the sunlight with your windows open
Don't hold in your anger or leave things unspoken
Wear your red dress
Use your good dishes
Make a big mess and make lots of wishes
Have what you want but want what you have
And don't spend your life looking back

Turn up the music

Turn it up loud
Take a few chances
Let it all out
You won't regret it
Looking back from where you have been
Because it's not who you knew
And it's not what you did
It's how you live

So go to the ballgames and go to the ballet
And go see your folks more than just on the holidays
Kiss all your children
Dance with your wife
Tell your husband you love him every night
Don't run from the truth because you can't get away
Just face it and you'll be okay


Oh wherever you are and wherever you've been
Now is the time to begin

So give to the needy and pray for the grieving
Even when you don't think that you can
Because all that you do is bound to come back to you
So think of your fellow man
Make peace with God and make peace with yourself
Because in the end there's nobody else


Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Have a Cat

His name is Linus. I love his name.

I got him 'free to a good home'. But within a week or so, he had a cold in his eye, so I had to take him to the vet. It cost me like $85 or something ridiculous. I mean, he was this tiny, little thing. I couldn't believe he was already costing me money. So, he quickly inherited a middle name... PITA, which is short for Pain In The A$$.

All of my cats get my son's last name. So, this one was now Linus PITA-bread Underwoo. I added the 'bread' just because it rolled off the tongue better. As for the last name, the first D is silent and the second D is invisible. So, it's more like Unnerwoo. Linus PITA-bread Unnerwoo.

Before Linus, we had Peek-a-Boo and Lily. Again, I played with their names a bit. That's what I do. Peek-a-Boo became Peek-a-Durn-Boo Underwoo. And Lily... well, Lily had a really long name. It went with her really long tail. She was also a total tomboy, not afraid of anything. So, she became Lily Monster Moe With a Long Tail. Monster was pronounced more like Monser. Moe, just because it made the name roll better. And 'With a' was more like Wissuh. (She knew I was talking to her!) Peek-a-Durn-Boo Unnerwoo and Lily Monser Moe Wissuh Long Tail.

I actually have several nicknames for he needed another nickname. I often call him Little Man Linus... pronounced L'il Man Linus. Of course, it made more sense when he was a kitten and well, little. Now, because he insists on living outdoors, he's fat and fuzzy. I assume he's fat because he's kind of in hibernation mode, what with winter coming on. He's fuzzy because his coat is coming in really thick. He'll thin down again as the weather warms up. But right now, he's fat and fuzzy...totally NOT a L'il Man Linus.

I also call him Linus-Felinus. It sounds very Latin and distinguished. I don't know if Linus can be described as either Latin OR distinguished. But it's cute. And Linus is cute. He's a cuddler and gives me a kiss before his dinner every night. He's definitely a cutie. So, I'm sure he'll hear that one again and again.

L'il Man Linus-Felinus PITA-bread Unnerwoo. My cat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas. Then again, who doesn't? I went to midnight mass last night... which was actually at 10 PM. I guess that happens when you have one priest for four parishes. But it was beautiful. And it was a gorgeous night. Full moon. Clear skies. Not too cold. Just gorgeous. Perfect night to welcome Christmas.

Today, I spent time with family. Opened presents, watched a movie with my niece. Played with the cats. Had a wonderful meal prepared by my parents. Nice conversation. And then topped it all off by taking a nap.

Sure beats last week when I had no heat and no hot water. I thought I had a gas problem. I mean really, what are the chances that I was having problems with both my furnace AND my hot water heater on the same day? Well in this instance, 100%. But thankfully, my dad was able to repair the possible leak in the roof that caused the problem. My furnace was repairable... for a mere $269. And my hot water heater just needed a bit of tightening to stop the leak and a bit of drying out in order to relight the pilot light. Of course, it is a 1978 model, so I really need to replace it soon. Just not four days before Christmas. At any rate, it's all fixed now. My home is toasty as I type. Merry Christmas to me!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I had a dream last night that I played football. I was a wide-receiver. And I was pretty good. I was only playing because one of the starters was out. But I was doing pretty well. I don't remember the whole dream, but I do remember scoring a touchdown. I remember thinking that there was nothing that felt better than scoring a touchdown!

After the game, I was interviewed. I sounded like a stupid jock! And it wasn't because I was stupid. Please, I'm not stupid. But I was so excited that I couldn't form a coherent sentence. I was just giddy. Then they interviewed the coach and he was so eloquent. Of course, most of what he said was just fluff, expected words that all coaches come up with in the same circumstance. But I remember thinking that I needed to put some time into practicing what I would say next time I got the opportunity to be interviewed.

After that, I remember looking for articles about the game in the papers online so that I could see if my name was mentioned. Most of the time, it wasn't. But I found one that mentioned that I scored a touchdown. So, I emailed it to everyone that I knew. Then I started getting playing tips from my friends. I tried to commit them all to memory, thinking they could help my game AND they would be fodder for my next interview.

The only other thing I remember was that our next game was against Navy... which is strange, since I think I was playing for the NFL. Oh, well, who I was playing for and in what league is not important compared to the fact that I SCORED A TOUCHDOWN!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Word to My Date

I want you to know… I truly wanted to take you to the Christmas party tonight because I thought it might be helpful in your quest to find another job. But if I’m being honest, I have to admit that I was really looking forward to spending time with you, regardless of the initial reason for extending the invitation. I was impressed with you before I ever really knew you. And I base that on the simple fact that I LOVE it that I see you at mass with your parents while I’m at mass with mine.

But in talking with you on the way to Bloomington and especially on the way home, I learned so much more about who you are. And I know that I can only work at being as good a Christian. I am SO impressed with the man you are. I find myself wanting to spend more time with you to learn more about how devout and true a man can be. But I feel like I’d be the only one benefiting from the encounter. (I imagine that's how people felt about Jesus.) I don’t ever want you to know all of my shortcomings. I don’t ever want to disappoint you. I just want to reflect your goodness...which of course comes from the light of Christ in your heart.

Maybe it’s because it’s late and I’m tired, but I am so emotionally overwhelmed by how much I fall short, how much I fail… even you… and you’re just a guy. (No offense.) It makes me wonder what GOD must think of me. You are the first person that has ever made me realize how much I must disappoint Him for not living up to my potential, His will for me. Whether you intended to or not, you spoke God's words to my heart tonight. And... I am ashamed. I thought I had come a long way on my spiritual journey. But God used you to help me realize that I still have a long way to go. I will begin that climb today.

And I thought I was doing YOU a favor. I love how God finds ways to speak to us. Thank you for the gift.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Great Day for a Parade?

It's the first Sunday of December. And that means it's the day of our home-town parade. I'm not a big parade fan. But folks around here seem to enjoy them. Either they are part of the crowd that lines the streets to catch candy and watch for people they know. Or they are actually on one of the many floats, in one of the many vehicles, or walking the route with their group.

According to the National Weather Service, it's 57 degrees out there. But you'd hardly know it. The wind is blowing at about 14mph. And then there's the cold, constant drizzle. It's gray and dreary and just wet out there. Has been all day.

I don't know if they were planning for fewer entries in the parade today or if the floats that entered simply backed out due to weather. But it was pretty sparse. The band was there, in uniform, playing in the rain. (That can't possibly be good for an instrument.) Several churches were there; their poster board signs no longer readable. The Summer Fest and County Fair queens were there, in their crowns and convertibles. (That's definitely not good for the interior of a convertible!) There were a couple of men running for office, looking for votes or simply visibility amongst their potential constituents. And then it was mostly just big trucks or sexy cars doing their advertising. Oh, yeah, and every vehicle in the county with a siren... can't forget them. Boy, are they loud!

Personally, I stood on my porch where it was dry. I could keep one eye on the parade and one eye on the Colts game. The Colts are winning, but the Jags are doing everything they can to make it interesting. I had a couple of invites to join the parade already in progress, but I adamantly declined.

My house is very, VERY close to the beginning of the parade route. The parade only lasted about 20 minutes. And within a few minutes of coming inside after the tail-end passed my driveway, there was rolling thunder and much harder rain. Those unfortunate parade participants.

Yeah, I'm just not a big parade fan. And this year's event didn't do much to sway my opinion.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Christmas Epiphany

While listening to the Christmas song “Welcome to our World” by Michael W. Smith, I was touched by the line

hope that you don’t mind our manger
how I wish we would have known
but long awaited holy stranger
make yourself at home

Even though it’s not stated specifically, it crossed my mind that our hearts are much like the manger all those many years ago. The manger was filthy and cold, unworthy of a King by any standard. It was offered to the Holy Family because there was no room at the Inn; there was no ‘decent’ place for Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but my heart is much like that manger. Sometimes cold. Sometimes filthy. Definitely no place for a King. Often I don’t make room for Him, keeping way too busy with other, less important things. Though I welcome Jesus in my heart, I really only think about Him when I need Him. I can definitely say that my heart is not always a ‘decent’ place for Him to dwell.

Thank God for Christmas, so I can refresh my heart and soul to welcome the Christ Child every year. Spring cleaning, if you will, for my spiritual home.

Take advantage of the Advent season so that your Christmas is filled with joy and peace.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Make My Own Greeting Cards

I don't remember when I first started making my own greeting cards...a few years ago anyway. I make all of my own greeting cards. I couldn't tell you the last time I bought a card. I've been tempted to purchase one of those cards that sings. But I never have. I enjoy making them and I think people enjoy receiving them.

Today, as I was making a list of things that I had to do this evening, I included a list of cards I needed to make. All of them were sympathy cards or thinking of you cards for friends and family affected by cancer. Three deaths in the last ten days and another friend in the hospital with a very poor prognosis. It's not going to stop me from making the cards, but I quickly realized that there is NOTHING that a homemade greeting card can do to repair the damage of cancer on a family.

My favorite place for sending online greeting cards...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Today is Veterans' Day

Today is Veterans' Day. And I'm going to take the opportunity to recognize and thank the veterans in my family.

Grandpa Tim Strange, US Army
Uncle Tim Strange, US Army
Uncle David Strange, US Army
Uncle Tom Strange, US Air Force
Uncle Mickey Strange, US Navy
Uncle Ed Strange, US Air Force
Uncle Jim Norris, US Army
Uncle Jim Love, US Army
Uncle Leo Haag, US Navy
Cousin, Gary Love, US Army National Guard
Cousin, Patrick Todd, US Army National Guard
Uncle George Doyle, US Marines
Uncle Joe Doyle, US Army National Guard
Cousin, John Volz, US Army
Brother, Alan Doyle, US Air Force
Myself, Leslie Doyle, US Air Force
Sister, Jill Wheeley, US Air Force
Ex-husband, Mike Underwood, US Air Force
Brother-in-law, Troy Wheeley, US Air Force
Brother-in-law, Rich Opdenhoff, US Air Force

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 9

I have been taking an antibiotic for nine days. I have faithfully taken my Augmentin twice a day every day for nine days in a row. Only one more day to go. And STILL, everything on my left side sounds like it's under water and I wake up every day with a sore throat. Not only have I been taking my antibiotic, but I've taken NyQuil nearly every night, DayQuil at least twice a day, and Sudafed three times a day. I don't feel as bad as I did the first day that I went in to the doctor. I don't even feel as bad as I did the SECOND time I went to the doctor this week. But I truly am tired of being sick. Literally and figuratively tired. I want to be able to hear again and sing again and wake up in the morning without slobbering all over myself because it hurts too much to swallow.

I started out the day running errands. I first stopped by the License Branch to renew my driver's license...which expired on my birthday last Saturday. The License Branch is closed due to the holiday. Funny...everyone else is closed Monday for the holiday. Why does the License Branch get to take off Saturday as well? So that working people have an even BIGGER challenge getting an expired license renewed? THEN I went to the local T-shirt shop to pick up an EVENT STAFF T-shirt. Another place that's only open when I'm at work. So today was my first opportunity to pick it up. The store opened 45 minutes before I needed to have the shirt on and be at the high school. I pre-ordered the shirt and was told that it would be ready for me to pick up. When I got there, the lady behind the counter said that they didn't have my size. I explained that I pre-ordered it and asked if it was possible that it was already made and stored behind the counter or something. She gave me a lecture about how they'd made like 900 T-shirts for this event and she KNOWS that mine isn't made AND again told me they didn't have my size. Great! Then she told me to hold tight and wait for the store's owner who would be there shortly. Finally, about ten minutes before I was supposed to be at the high school, the owner shows up, makes me a shirt in a size bigger than I wanted, charged me more for it because it was an extra large size, but I got to the school on time.

The event was the Indiana Association of Student Councils convention. Our high school only has a student body of about 350 students, yet over 1000 were invited to the convention. In order to house them all, some stayed in nearby towns. My role was to 'babysit' for one of the classrooms where sessions were held. Four sessions. The first and third sessions were conducted by two students that were warm and welcoming and did a wonderful job relating to their students. The second and fourth sessions were conducted by two students that were rude and unhelpful and just mean. I picture one of them 20 years down the road as a really arrogant boss that everyone hates. All in all, I had a good time though. I got to spend time with several of our Junior High students. We really have some good kids here. I enjoyed their company.

This evening, I went to an Emmaus After Glow. It's a reunion for everyone that went on one of the fall Walks to Emmaus. Good food. Good company. Good music. An absolutely beautiful night! We walked down to the pond to see the three crosses in the reflection. They weren't lighted so it was difficult to see them. While I was describing it to someone, the lights came on. It was BEAUTIFUL! And it was so amazing that it happened just as I was talking about it. Ask and you shall receive. God is so good!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. I'm 37 years old. I've said it before and it's still true... I never feel old on my birthday; I feel old on my son's birthday. And he'll be 17 in less than three months! Holy cow! I'm old enough to have a 17-year-old! Worse...I don't have the experience necessary to raise a 17-year-old. But then again, who does?

Wait! It's my birthday! It's all about me today! We'll talk about what it takes to raise a 17-year-old some other day.

So, here's the deal. Lucky for me, my birthday happened on a Saturday this year. I didn't have to work on my birthday. That's pretty nice. Unfortunately, I've had this killer sore throat and ear infection since sometime Halloween night. I guess I got the Trick instead of the Treat. My throat is feeling much better, as I finally ate a meal today. But I still can't hear anything out of my left ear except this constant ringing sound. And everything is draining into my throat, giving me this nagging cough. Happy Birthday to me!

The best part of my day actually came first thing this morning. My son called to wish me a happy birthday. It was great to hear from him. He caught me up with everything going on in his neck of the woods. He also told me that he hoped I got to feeling better. Best birthday present I've had in years.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Songs That Touch My Heart

Music really touches my heart. I know a lot of people feel that way. Poetry with a beautiful melody. It only makes sense that music would speak directly to the heart and soul of so many.

While driving for three hours last night, I was playing a recently purchased Nichole Nordeman CD. I had heard many of the songs before at various Christian retreats. But one in particular was new to me. "Why?"

That's not a question; that's the title of the song. The first verse is the mindset of a young girl speaking to her father. The second verse comes from the aspect of Jesus speaking to His Father. The third verse is God answering Jesus. Each verse drew me more and more into the song, into the story. By the end, I was sobbing.

This is not the first song that has had such an effect on me. "When God Ran" by Phillips, Craig and Dean is another song that completely moves me. It starts off with a few of the many names of God:

Almighty God, the great I AM, immovable Rock, omnipotent, powerful, awesome Lord, victorious Warrior, commanding King of Kings, mighty Conqueror.

And the only time – the only time I ever saw Him run…

Was when He ran to me!

The rest of the song talks about how we separate ourselves from God, but He always welcomes us back because He loves us so much. It's just beautiful.

Another song that does that for me is "I Can Only Imagine". The first time I heard it, it wasn't a Mercy Me song; it was an Amy Grant song. Because her version was the first for me, it's my favorite. Of course, I'd thought about getting to heaven before and I'd imagined what heaven must look like. But until I'd heard this song, I never actually thought about what I would do when standing face to face with God.

For each of these songs, when I first heard them, when they first got my attention, I played them over and over and over again. I wanted to learn the words and be able to sing them. I wanted to sing them in my heart whenever I needed them. But I found that I was moved not only by the words and the melody, but also by my inability to sing them because the meaning touched my heart so deeply. What an amazing gift!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Once Every Dozen Years

I did something yesterday I hadn't done in 12 years. I went to the dentist. When I told the dentist that I hadn't been to a dentist office since '95, he asked what happened in '95. I told him I was still active duty Air Force and it's required to go to the dentist every year. Once I got out of the service and no one was making me go, I didn't go back.

Some people go to the dentist once a year. Some people go twice a year. I was on the once every dozen years plan. Apparently, a lot of us choose that plan.

I have several excuses (yes, excuses) why I didn't go back. First of all, I went to the dentist once a month EVERY month when I was growing up. I had braces three times. And when I didn't have braces, I had this thing called an appliance in my mouth. No, not a refrigerator or stove. An appliance is a retainer that pushes your teeth OUT instead of IN. On top of that, I had a root canal when I was only 12 because my sister did a front walk-over while standing in front of me and killed one of my two front teeth.

When I joined the service, they had to redo my root canal because there were air pockets or something in there. GREAT. Another root canal. On my front tooth. Lovely. But to sweeten the deal, they covered it with a veneer so it no longer looked gray. The AF dentist also told me that I had the shortest roots of anyone he'd ever seen before. In fact, at one point there were half a dozen dentists looking at my x-rays. Being that they were all officers and I was just an airman, I was too chicken to ask them what they were gawking about. But after it was just me and my dentist, I finally got up the nerve. He then told me that the roots on my teeth were so short he wouldn't be surprised if they started falling out of my head by the time I was 30. Lovely.

So, the dentist office is definitely NOT my favorite place to visit.

But it wasn't only that. Once I got out of the Air Force, it was a financial issue. I didn't know if I could afford to go to the dentist. I had a dental plan at work, but that's no indication as to what my costs would be for a visit. So, I avoided it. My son got cleanings, but not even annually. Shame on me. And I didn't go at all...until yesterday.

I told the dental hygienist, who is also a dear friend of mine, that coming back to the dentist after so long was like going to confession in the Catholic church. I was totally ashamed. I mean, I guess no one looks forward to it. But I was even more concerned that my teeth would look really bad and I'd have a dozen cavities. But no, one broken tooth (the only reason I made the appointment in the first place) and one cavity. She told me that it was amazing how good my teeth looked considering no one had looked at them in a dozen years.

So, I felt pretty good after that. And I made an appointment for six months down the road. I decided I'd rather not be on the 12 year plan again.

By the way, I'll be 37 in two weeks and none of my teeth have fallen out yet.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's All About the Love

They say that time heals all wounds.

Uh-uh. No way. I have way too good a memory to forget things, especially things that hurt me to the core, simply because a few years have gone by. The words, the actions, the feelings are etched on my brain and in my heart. Time doesn't do anything to alleviate that...especially for those of us that have the memory of an elephant.

I think that the ability to accept the wrong-doing as just another experience that shapes who we are is the first step to healing. But that's all but insignificant compared to the forgiveness that hopefully follows. Releasing the person that injured you also releases you. Then and only then can one engage a healthy life.

All of that takes love. Love of a higher purpose. Love of oneself. Love of your fellow man. Love of peace. Love.

Love heals all wounds. God's love for us that we learn in order to know how to love others.

"Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not jealous. It is not boastful or conceited. It is never rude and never seeks its own advantage. It does not take offense or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice in wrong-doing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Lord, help me to be patient and kind. Show me when I am being jealous, boastful, or conceited. Soften my heart so as not to be rude or to take advantage of others. Teach me not to take offense or hold a grudge. Allow me to find joy in the truth and avoid rejoicing in wrong-doing. Help me to make allowances to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Help me to demonstrate Your love. Amen.

Unreasonable Superstitions

I can't believe I haven't posted anything in a week. It's not that I haven't had anything to say. I ALWAYS have something to say. I've just been busy. Mostly at work. By the time I get home, I just don't care to take the time to be productive. Really bad habit to get into. But it's the truth.

Yesterday, I went to my very first Colts game in person. What a great time! And the Colts won! WooHoo!! I swore if they lost I was never going to another game in person again. But now I'm safe to go see them again any time. : )

I know it doesn't make any sense to be superstitious. But with my sports, I am. My son and I are pretty serious about it. If he's watching a game and his team is winning and then I walk in and the team starts losing, our deal is that I have to leave. It doesn't matter how much I want to watch the game with him. It's more important that his team win. Even if they don't, I definitely do NOT want to be the reason they LOSE. So, it's an agreement we have. And like I said, we're pretty serious about it.

Speaking of my son, he'll be in town this weekend. He and I are HUGE Colts fans. Unfortunately for him, he lives in Bengals country now. So he rarely gets to see the Colts. Even more unfortunate, this weekend happens to be the Colts bye weekend. So, he doesn't get to see the Colts AGAIN. He wasn't very happy about that. He'll be home again for Thanksgiving. And the Colts have the Thursday night game...on the NFL network. Our cable company doesn't have the NFL network. So, two visits to Indiana during football season and no Colts football for the boy. Sorry, kiddo. If it were up to me, we'd be able to watch Colts football on demand...ALL YEAR ROUND!

Monday, October 1, 2007

It's Time for a Nap

I find that I am tired all the time. I know that I often don’t get enough sleep. I’m really a night owl and enjoy watching television late or reading until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. And as I get older, I find myself waking up more often during the night. But at least I don’t struggle to get back to sleep like I have in the past. So, I usually blame my tiredness on that. But sometimes I wonder if it’s something more.

I’m sitting at my desk with plenty to do. It’s 10:30am on a Monday. I’ve been here for nearly 2 hours. Yet I feel I could curl up into a ball on the floor of my cubicle and sleep. Every time I close my eyes to think, to concentrate, I find myself wanting to nod off. I’m REALLY tired.

And it’s not like I ran and ran all weekend. In fact, I didn’t get nearly as much done as I wanted to/needed to. I slept in Saturday; I slept in Sunday. I even napped during the Colts game. And I LOVE to watch the Colts games. I just always feel like I’m trying to catch up on my sleep.

I read an article in a women’s magazine years ago about how you can never actually catch up on missed hours of sleep. The article suggested that any damage done to your mind, body, and soul by lack of sleep is already done. You can try to heal from that damage by sleeping more. But it’s a futile effort. It probably doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t reverse the damage. I don’t know how true any of that is. But frankly, today it just affirms my desire to take a nap right now.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Year's Eve!

Another fiscal year bites the dust.

I've decided that I don't like the last two days of the fiscal year being during the weekend. My blackberry buzzed off the hook. I spent much of the weekend answering email and trying to connect to the server at work in order to fix issues for our customers. It was such a distraction to my football viewing.

I shouldn't complain; the folks that actually work with the money and the contracts had to be in the office long hours all weekend long. I just support the application that the customers use to do their jobs. So, my role was minimal really. I've just never felt so tied to my 'leash' in the past.

That's what I call my blackberry --- a leash. But I get paid well to be available like that. So, I'll stop whining now. Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Half a Million Dollars Worth of Equipment

What a GREAT day! I finally called someone about taking the dying tree down, the one that lost a huge branch (or limb, whatever) just Tuesday. They came out this afternoon to do an estimate which was A LOT cheaper than I expected. And they even took the trees with them when they left! I can't believe it took one phone call and just a few hours.

I left work early in order to pay them for their services. I got home early enough to watch a lot of the work. Amazing how fast it goes when they know what they're doing. Amazing! A couple of guys were in a cherry-picker trimming the tall branches on the big dying tree. Another one was grinding the stump of the dead trees that used to be next to the driveway. And another two guys were shoving the refuse into a chipper/chopper thing that had THE INTIMIDATOR painted on the side of it. When I told the the man in charge that I thought the whole process was efficient and impressive, he said I was looking at half a million dollars worth of equipment.

I just stood back and watched it all. Not only was the process impressive, but I took the time to appreciate the fact that I would no longer have to worry about these darn trees landing on my house or the neighbor's house. Not to mention, from now on I'd have far less kindling to gather prior to mowing my lawn. Victory all around. At least a half a million dollars worth!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Welcome Back

I finally went back to work yesterday. I didn't want to, of course. I could have stayed home and slept another few hours, read for awhile, played with the cat. But no, I went in to the office.

My computer took forever to boot up. Apparently I wasn't the only one stuck in vacation mode. I think NMCI pushed something that affected the performance of my PC. That should make for a productive week. When I finally got into my email, I had 128 messages. Gave me an excuse to ease into my day. It took me hours to read, reply, and file all of them. I actually enjoyed it...a built in list that I could attack one item at a time

Yeah, I'm a list girl. I get that from my dad. He's always making lists too. But he's much more accomplished at marking things off. That's the list-maker's favorite thing in the world, marking items off the list. The ultimate fate of the list is to be completely wiped out. I suppose it's sad if you're the list.

But let's be serious. The list is NEVER completely done. There are always new things to add to the list. And depending on my mood and my need to feel productive, my list often becomes more granular. 'Clean the living room' becomes 'vacuum, dust, fluff pillows, clear coffee table, clean windows, Febreze, etc.' I know, it's shameful. Then I get to spend more time making my list and marking things off the list and less time actually performing the items ON the list.

Well, the only thing on my list right now is 'go to bed'. I'll start a new list tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Day Off

I took another day off. I probably should have gone to work. But I just couldn't do it.

First of all, I didn't feel all that great. Just a minor cold, scratchy throat and such. But more accurately, I'm still on a high from my weekend and I'm afraid that I won't be able to maintain this feeling if I go into the office. So, I've been avoiding it.

Still, I NEED to go back to work tomorrow. So tonight, I'm turning in early. I NEVER go to bed early. My plan is to read several chapters of the Karen Kingsbury book that I'm reading, "Even Now". That will relax me and help me to fall asleep.

I accomplished more today than yesterday. I saved the flag at the high school. We had a huge storm this afternoon. While sitting in my living room watching the strong winds and heavy rains, I noticed that the American flag at the high school fell to the ground. It was still hanging onto he lanyard, but the knot came loose and the flag was touching the ground. I immediately got into my car, drove across the street, freed the flag, and returned it to the school. I was soaked! But it felt good. Just the veteran in me, I guess.

I also lost a HUGE branch from the tree that sits between my house and my neighbor's home. I can never remember which is bigger, a branch or a limb. At any rate, it's HUGE. I'm lucky that it didn't hit my house OR my neighbor's. That would have been horrible. I keep putting off having that tree taken down because it's so expensive. But I don't think I can put it off any more.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What an Experience!

I had the most wonderful weekend. I attended the Walk to Emmaus, a Christian retreat. It started Thursday night and lasted 72 hours. And it was amazing! What an incredible way to spend a weekend. I strongly suggest it to anyone looking to renew their faith. Wow! Just...WOW!

As I mentioned in my most recent post, James 1:2-3 is my favorite bible verse. "Consider it all joy, my friends, when you encounter various trials. For it is the testing of your faith that produces perseverance." With my recent challenges, it seemed appropriate. For the last couple of years, it's pretty much been my mantra.

Well, I'm looking for a new bible verse to replace that mantra. I'm thinking about Philippians 1:6 which states, "I am quite confident that the One who began a good work in you will go on completing it until the day Jesus Christ comes." He has a plan for me. And he's already working on me, but He's not done. And He won't stop working on me until He comes again. Thank God!

Did you know that if you read six chapters of your bible every day, you'll have it completed in six months? Six chapters a day doesn't sound all that demanding. So, that's what I'm going to do. Since I'm starting today, I'll be done by March 23rd. I've read a lot of my bible, but I've never read it from cover to cover. And I'm much more familiar with the New Testament. I've found that it's easier to read and has more "good news". But I'm not going to let that stop me. Six chapters every day to finish the bible in six months.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's All Good

My favorite bible verse is James 1:2-3. In my bible, it reads, "Consider it all joy, my friends, when you encounter various trials, for it is the testing of your faith that produces perseverance."

My translation: It's all good.

Things happen to us. Some things are absolutely amazing; some things are horribly tragic. Sometimes we bring them on ourselves with the decisions that we make. Sometimes they're brought on by circumstances out of our control. Things happen.

The Good News is that our happiness depends on how we deal with those things. We can choose to be injured or we can choose to grow. If we think of everything, good or bad, as a blessing from God, our cross to bear, or a necessary step in our ultimate salvation, it's all good. Every event molds us. We just need to remind ourselves to focus on the grace gained from accepting ALL of God's gifts to us.

Personally, I usually start out injured or overwhelmed or angry, but I eventually get to the blessing. I know that I wouldn't be the person I am today without the experiences I've endured. I'm thankful for the blessings that allow me to live the life I do. But I'm also thankful for the hard knocks that have built my character and enriched my faith.

Just remember, it's all good. It's ALL good! It may not always feel good. But it'll get good.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Thought It Was Wednesday

Walking into the office this morning, I ran into a co-worker who always makes me smile. He asked how I was doing. I replied that I was glad it was Wednesday, half way there. He stopped walking, looked at me funny, and replied, "Huh...sure doesn't FEEL like a Wednesday." It took me a few steps, but I finally realized it was only TUESDAY. I was completely dejected!

I stopped walking. I let my chin fall to my chest. I even groaned out loud. Bob just laughed at me. That was how my day started.

Then it got crazy! So much to do. Busy, busy, busy. CRAZY busy! But enough about work...

My day ended with a night out with the girls. I love the girls! I love that we can talk about anything, laugh about everything, and accomplish a whole heck of a lot of nothing. A perfect girls' night out. We try to get together every month; I hope we never give it up.

Time to cut this short. After daiquiris and guacamole, I need to get some sleep. I have another Wednesday morning to endure!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

They're Mama's Boys Until Junior High

My sister-in-law and I were having a conversation about our boys this evening. Actually, we weren't discussing them specifically; we were just talking...when her son, my nephew, mentioned that he looked like a Mama's Boy in one of his old pictures. She replied, "You were!"

He was completely offended by this statement.

He wouldn't have been years ago. Probably not even last year. But now, he's in Junior High. We decided that Junior High is the beginning of the end of the Mama's Boy.

Not because they're too macho to admit that they have a close relationship with their mothers, but because they turn into these rude, crude, disrespectful, know-it-all sons-of-satan. They are no longer ours; they belong to Junior High. Gone are the Please and Thank You’s we used to hear. They speak only in short, snide sentences and rolling eyes. "Yeah right, whatever." (I swear, I'm going to write a book one day called "Yeah Right, Whatever: the teen’s response to EVERY statement".)

My nephew is not my first experience with this conversion. My son is now a Junior in High School and has totally MASTERED the Junior High mentality. Oh, he's gotten more sophisticated about it. His arguments are more like interrogations by a defense attorney. But it's obviously still the same situation… our sons creating separation from their mothers and their childhood in an effort to assert their independence.

It has to happen. But it’s painful for the mom’s. And even though we truly want our boys to grow up strong and independent, we’re still going to blame it on Junior High.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Beautiful Day in God's Country

I don't know when it started, but I refer to my home town, the county that I live in, the whole of southern Indiana really, as God's Country. So does my mom. I got it from her actually. She's lived here her entire life. I couldn't wait to move back.

We have four distinct seasons, each one with it's marvel and beauty. We have fresh air and blue skies, tall trees and rolling hills, and sunsets that grow more and more beautiful until they have no choice but to disappear. We also have white snow, rolling thunder, and enough lightning to put a fireworks display to shame.

No other artist could create such a masterpiece. Only One.

Today, the high was 79 degrees. There was a nice breeze and just enough clouds to make the sky look oh-so-blue. Every time I passed a window and saw the leaves wave with the wind, I wanted to run outside with my face to the sun, my eyes closed, spinning around in circles like Maria in 'The Sound of Music'.

But there was work to do. So, I smiled, added a bounce to my step, thanked God for the gift, and went back into my windowless cubicle. But I got a lot done. A very productive day. And if one has to work, there's nothing better than that.

Another beautiful day in God's Country.