Saturday, February 28, 2009

I did it!

I joined NaBloPoMo on February 1st and have posted a blog entry every day since then. Yea, me!

I thought it would be much harder than it was. I can remember times (before February) when I would sit at my computer and wonder what to blog about. But February was just eventful enough to keep me typing.

Let's see if I can get all the way through March as well. Wouldn't that be a hoot?!

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Oh-So-Productive Day!

I had lots planned today. And I got lots done today. I didn't get everything done that I wanted to. Nevertheless, I got lots done, so I'm stoked about my day.

First, I slept in. What perfect day wouldn't be complete without sleeping in?!

I got my hair cut while getting my oil changed. I am one of those people that just walks into a Great Clips or Wal-Mart and gets my hair cut on a whim. Today, I did it because I dropped my car off with their service department to get my oil changed. Two birds -- one stone. So, my car is happy; all fluids are filled. And my cute bob is evenly trimmed again. Happy hair!

I finally picked up the pictures that my family had taken during the July 4th weekend. Yeah, almost eight months ago. I'll scan one in tomorrow so you can see them. Each of my siblings and their families wore a different color. So, my parents wore yellow. Alan and his family wore blue. Jeff and I wore red. Jill and her family wore green. My sister Erin wore orange. And Ian and his wife Erin wore purple. Yeah, we looked like Skittles!

I ordered my new glasses. I was going to do this last month. But between my new job and the weather, I didn't really have the time off work. At any rate, my new eyes should be here in 7-10 days. Perhaps now I'll be able to read the sports ticker at the bottom of the screen while watching NCAA basketball.

I purchased my son's sectional tickets, so I gained 100 AWESOME MOM POINTS today.

I had dinner with my friend Karen. We were going to get together for her birthday...which was a month ago. But she was sick. So we put it off. We FINALLY got together for Mexican tonight. She picked me up at 5; I didn't get home until 9! We talked and talked and talked! Good times.

Now I'm watching a movie with the boy! Also a good time.

What a GREAT day! I LOVE my
RDO Fridays.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Moving Day!

I recently changed jobs and had to move with the new position. so, I put all of my things into several boxes and moved them from one building to another. That was right at eight weeks ago.

The building I moved into was old and falling apart. There's always a rumor going around that the people in that building were going to have to be moved out and the structure condemned once and for all. But heck, they were saying that when I working in that building four years ago and still no one moved. So, I moved in and sat where they told me to sit. For some reason, I didn't take the time to unpack all of my boxes. In fact, two of them stayed in the backseat of my car. I just wasn't sure how I wanted to decorate my cubicle or where I was going to store all of my stuff.

Well, here lately, with all the snow melting and the added rain, the roof has been leaking. BADLY. In fact, it was becoming the norm to walk into the offices in the morning only to find several ceiling tiles down, lying in a crumbled mess in a puddle of water on the floor. Don't even ASK me about all the things that came down WITH the ceiling tiles.

With all the damage, a few people have even been displaced from their offices. We went a whole day without half of the ladies room! In a building that houses a good 75+ women, that's not a good thing. Several people had also taken to covering everything in their offices with plastic before going home at night. How sad is that?! In addition to shutting down the PC and filing away anything that needed to be put away, folks were pulling out large pieces of black plastic to protect their furniture, file cabinets, personal items, and paperwork.

In addition to the inconvenience of being without four of the six stalls in the women's bathroom, people were complaining about headaches. Some were saying that their allergies were acting up, so they were coughing and hacking all the time. It was decided that with the falling of the ceiling tiles, most certainly dust and mold had probably invaded our work spaces more so than before.

At any rate, things kind of hit a head this week. Apparently there was a meeting at 3pm on Tuesday to discuss a proposal for moving some folks out of that building. We were officially informed at noon on Wednesday that we'd be moving starting at 9am today. So again, I boxed up everything in my cubicle (those things that I actually unpacked before plus the things I inherited with my new position) and moved again.

Here it is, before the end of the workday on Thursday and I am officially moved. My phone doesn't work yet, but my computer is up and running. Talk about making something come together quickly! There are still 8-10 people that will be moving between now and Tuesday. But my move is complete.

The first thing that I did when I walked in was to see if there were any water stains on the ceiling tiles. So far, I haven't seen even one!

PS. This move is supposed to be somewhat temporary. We will probably be moving again so that we can again be in the same building as the rest of our department. So, another moving day will be on the schedule...eventually. Hey, as long as I'm dry, I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that today is Ash Wednesday. This is the first day of lent and occurs 40 days before Good Friday. Also, it falls on a different day every year. It can occur as early as February 4th and as late as March 10th. And just so you know, Ash Wednesday doesn't actually dictate when Easter is; Easter dictates when Ash Wednesday is.

Ash Wednesday is really called the Day of Ashes, but it does always occur on a Wednesday. Hence the Ash Wednesday moniker.

There is a reason why we have our heads marked with a cross of ashes on this day. In the bible, a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person's ownership. By having our foreheads marked with the sign of the cross, it's a symbol that we belong to Jesus Christ, who died on a cross.

It is also an imitation of the spiritual mark that is put on a Christian at baptism.

The reason that ashes are used is because they are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance. They also symbolize death and remind us of our mortality. In fact, when the priest crosses our foreheads with ashes, he says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Four silly, insignificant things to share

After my last couple of posts, I thought a little levity was in order.

First of all, yesterday was my 200th post to this blog. I have five other blogs, so my cumulative number of posts is 403...including this one. I know you only see three blogs (Scripted Notions, Inspiration Emails, and This Morning's Dream). But I also have one for my Weight-Loss Journal. I don't publicize it. But by doing it in a blog, I can update it from anywhere at any time. I also have a Blog called The Commuters, where I was attempting to write a book via blog. I thought it would be a good idea because then I wouldn't have to worry about losing it if my PC crashed. But it's not the easiest way to organize my thoughts since the blog entries are in reverse order. I don't know...I may try it again sometime. And then I have my secret journal blog. It's where I really vent, mostly about me, things that might make others uncomfortable, like how I really feel when depressed or what my greatest fears are.

But I first silly, insignificant thing to share is that yesterday I hit 200 posts on this blog. WooHoo!

My second silly, insignificant thing to share is that I have a favorite pen. I do. I know it's silly. But every time I go into Wal-Mart, I go to the school and office supplies section and get a package of my favorite pens. While reading "Writing Down the Bones", the author suggested getting a good pen, one that moved smoothly over the paper. I found mine. It's inexpensive and comfortable in my hand. The Bic Atlantis, in black.

My third silly, insignificant thing is that not only do I consider my car my studio (if I'm driving, I'm probably singing), but my passenger seat is also a desk. My passenger seat desk never looks this good! My 'filing system' really frustrates my son when he tries to sit there. But I stack anything and everything in my passenger seat. Then when J gets in, he throws it all to the backseat. Today, my backseat is a disaster area. I still have a couple of boxes of things from when I packed up my previous office and never moved them into my new office. And I have a few (that's a polite was of saying, I have no clue how many) stacks of things (mail, notebooks, fliers, etc.) that Jeff relocated from my 'desk' to the back seat. And then of course my coat is back there. I rarely wear a coat. When folks ask me where it is when it's only 17 degrees, I inevitably say, "It's in the backseat of my car." Tonight, I am cleaning out my car, desk and all!

My fourth silly, insignificant thing to share is that I have an unnecessary indulgence (is that redundant?). And it used to be somewhat spontaneous. But after picking this up so many times, it can hardly be considered incidental; it's practically become part of my shopping list. For no reason at all, I check out the latest fingernail polish colors, choose one I don't have (or never considered wearing before), and buy it. Then pretty much as soon as I get home, I polish my nails. It's like playing with a new toy. I don't know why I so enjoy this little luxury so much. If it were more expensive, I'd refer to it as an extravagance. Lucky for me, my fix is relatively cheap and easy to find.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I really wish I wouldn't have gone.

But since I did, I wish I would have driven myself so that I could have left earlier.

But since I didn't, I should have just kept my mouth shut!

And I'll remember in the future to hug my friends only when no one else is.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I am SO not in the mood...

I don't know if it's because I've just been so busy this weekend and now I'm crashing.

Or maybe it's because my annoying teenager is getting on my last nerve.

Or maybe I'm PMSing and EVERYTHING is getting on my last nerve!

Or maybe I'm disappointed in myself for not accomplishing the ONE THING I needed to accomplish this weekend... MY TAXES... so that I could finally finish Jeff's FAFSA!

Or maybe I just don't have anything else to blog about but I refuse to miss Day 22 of my NaBloPoMo challenge after blogging 21 days in a row this month.

Whatever it is, I am SO not in the mood to blog tonight.

So...that's the end of that. Hopefully I'm in a better mood and have something much more interesting to say tomorrow. But I have a long day at work planned, starting with two hours of training AND I agreed to go to a prayer service in the evening which will probably have me home long after I've lost my patience for being around people.

So I ask you to say a prayer. I am SO not in the mood!

roy's progress!: Finally...St. Patrick's Day Giveaway!

roy's progress!: Finally...St. Patrick's Day Giveaway!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Benefits and Banquets

According to, a benefit is "a theatrical performance or other public entertainment to raise money for a charitable organization or cause."

I don't know that I've ever been to a benefit that was a theatrical performance or even entertainment. They usually involve a great meal and the opportunity to bid on, buy, or win by way of a raffle any number of items.

I love to go to benefits. I know that the whole reason for the benefit isn't always a positive thing...someone has cancer or has been in a horrible accident. But I try not to dwell on that. I focus on the fact that GOOD people plan and organize a huge event. And a whole crowd of GOOD people come together to drop a nickel or a dime to help support the cause. And as a reward for being GOOD, you too can "benefit".

You usually get a great meal. You may have the opportunity to win or purchase various items. And most importantly, you can enjoy fellowship and camaraderie, and even advocacy and education about the reason for the benefit. Learning more about cancer, for example, helps us all to be a little more aware of how we can better take care of ourselves to potentially avoid the necessity of a future benefit.

Last night, I went to a benefit for a co-worker's husband who has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. They lost a child to cancer several years ago. It's just a sad story. But it wasn't sad last night. It was inspiring. So many people, so much love and support. I was blessed to be part of it.

According to, a banquet is "a lavish meal, a feast, a ceremonious public dinner often benefiting a charity."

Tonight, I was again blessed. This was the night for the annual ACCTS banquet. ACCTS stands for Area Christian Churches Together in Service. The Christian churches in Loogootee (maybe Martin County) come together to make a meal, serve the meal, provide prizes for EVERY family that attends, and then send EVERY family home with two bags of groceries. I LOVE this event. This year was the 7th annual. SEVENTH! How amazing is that?! I'm already looking forward to the 8th.

God is good!

Friday, February 20, 2009

40 X 40 - #22 Paint a picture and hang it in my home.

I haven't defined any of my 40 X 40 goals in awhile. So, I read through the list again. One, to see if there was something I could tackle today/this week/this month. And two, to see what I could write a post about.

I know that God gives me talents. I can sing. I have a great memory. I can parallel park. And I give great hugs. But I have always wanted to draw or paint.

So, one of my 40 X 40 goals is to paint a picture and hang it in my home. I'm not sure what kind of painting I'll do. Maybe oils, maybe watercolor, maybe acrylic. (Like I know what any of that REALLY means!) I should really get some instruction from my cousin, Cassie. SHE'S AN AMAZING ARTIST!

But one thing is for sure. My painting won't be of a 'thing', because I can't draw a 'thing'. You wouldn't recognize it if I tried anyway. So, it'll have to be an abstract painting.

I could actually do this one now, I suppose. Decide on the colors, buy the supplies, and cover everything in the room with a drop-cloth before beginning. But I'd like to wait until I've redecorated my living room, since that's where I'd like to hang the picture... unless of course it's really ugly. Then it'll be hanging in the bathroom linen closet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Priority Ring

I'm not much of a jewelry person. I like it okay. I just don't wear much of it. I've had my ears pierced for 25 years and rarely wear earrings. I don't usually wear a necklace. And until I got my current ring, the last time I wore one regularly was when I graduated from college and wore my college ring.

If given the option, I prefer silver colored jewelry. And honestly, the simpler - the better.

A friend of mine sells
Premier Designs Jewelry. At one of her parties, I looked through the entire catalog. My very favorite item was the Priority ring. Most of the jewelry has women's names. Collette, Melissa, Savanah, etc. But not this one. This one is just called the Priority ring. It's a simple silver band with a cut-out cross. I love it!

I purchased it and have worn it nearly every day since then. Normally, I don't take it off.

And I wear it on my wedding ring finger. It's not that I want to appear to be married. It's just that it's THAT important to me. People notice that I'm wearing a band, not a diamond. But when they look a little closer, they see the symbol of our faith. The cross.

It's my priority and I want everyone to know it.

Hmmm... I'm not sure which finger I'll put my wedding ring on when/if I ever get married.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Captain Crunch Time

Speaking of Relay for Life, I happen to be our team's captain. Everyone should try it at least once. That's what I always say. And honestly, I'd love to start another team or two, but I haven't been able to drum up enough interest. For instance, I think there are PLENTY of SAIC employees in Martin County and we should have our own team. And I'm pretty sure that SAIC would support the team if we did. But I didn't get ANY takers last year. I also think it would be a hoot to have a team with my family members. But many of them no longer live in this area and it would be a bit of an inconvenience for them. So, I've not pushed that either. Still, if you're reading this, I think you should consider it.

All you have to do is...

1. Invite 7-14 people to join you. Teams can only have 8-15 members. Once you hit 16, you're TWO TEAMS!! And that's not a bad thing.

2. Raise an average of $100 per team member. You only get a T-shirt for each $100 you raise up to the number of people signed up for your team. Last year, we had 11 people on our team. We raised more around $2000. Still, only 11 T-shirts. BUT not everyone raised $100. Still, 11 T-shirts. See where I'm going with this?

3. Come up with fundraising ideas.

  • Well, I told you all about my donation request letter yesterday. I also make a letter for everyone else on my team. Theirs don't say 100 letters though; they say 25 letters...whether they send out that many or not! I write the letter, sign it, make copies, fold the letters, put my address on a letter size envelope, stuff both the letter size envelope and the letter into a business size envelope, and address the business size envelope. Then I get them...all 110+ of one of our Relay committee members. They deliver them to the American Cancer Society, who pays all postage and gets them in the mail. A couple of weeks later, the money starts rolling in. Quick and easy!

  • But there's also the old stand-by's: bake sales, yard sales, soup supper, raffles, etc.

  • Then there are more unique ways to raise money. We have a restaurant in town where all the teenagers hang out. And they have carhops that take your order. Well, during prom weekend, the owner gave the girls off so they could get all dolled up for their prom and he'd let our Relay team work in their place. All of our wages and tips go to Relay for Life. (That restaurant has changed ownership this year, so I'm not sure if that's still going to be an option for us.)

  • Also, there is an auction during the Relay weekend where money is raised. Each team can submit up to five items for auction. Whatever is pulled in for our five items, gets counted towards our team's total dollars raised.

4. Decorate the campsite. There is always a theme and this year it's Relayville... a play on Margaritaville. So, think beaches and flamingos and shades and Hawaiian shirts. Jimmy Buffet music! It'll be a lot of fun. So, we usually put up a large tent/canopy and decorate it according to the theme. That's usually pretty fun.

5. Make a banner. Every team has a banner. The rules for the banner are pretty easy. You have to be able to carry the darn thing around the track once. It has to have your team number and team name on it. And...well, that's about it. I usually make the banner the day before the event. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. But in the grand scheme of priorities, it's one of the less important ones.

6. Schedule. There's a schedule. Actually, there are two.

  • One is a schedule of events. It includes a Survivor Dinner sometime during the week. That's when we invite all cancer survivors and their care-givers to a meal where they are catered to. Then of course, we have the Opening Ceremony (where the survivors make the first lap and the sponsors are thanked), Closing Ceremonies (where we learn how much money we raised), and the Luminaria Ceremony (where we light candles for cancer victims and survivors...literally HUNDREDS OF THEM!!! It's absolutely inspiring! Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.)

  • The other schedule is for the walkers. Yes folks, it is a Relay for Life and that means that we walk. The plan is that (except for during the ceremonies) there is a member of each team on the track at all times. So, each person on the team walks 2-3 half-hour shifts.

My plan is to have a chairperson for fundraising, campsite setup, the banner, and the walk schedule. Then I just have to keep everyone informed. Should make Captain Crunch Time SO MUCH easier. And since I'm also on my 20-year Class Reunion Committee, I can use all the help I can get!

By the way, our Relay is June 5th and 6th. If you happen to be in Martin County, Indiana, during that weekend, we'd love to see you. If you'd like to make a donation, just leave a comment and I'll get back with you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Donation Request Letter

For the last six years, I have been on a Relay for Life team in my home town. For the last three years (maybe four), I have sent a donation request letter to my friends and relatives. My intention is to simply let them know that I'm raising money and I'm asking for their support. If they choose not to give at this time through me, they don't even have to respond. And if they do opt to make a donation, they can give in even the smallest amount. This is the letter that I send.

From the Desk of Leslie Doyle
[my address] [my phone] [my email address]

Friends and Family,

Once again, I am writing this letter to request your support for Relay for Life, which supports cancer research. I have friends that have beaten cancer and are survivors, but I’ve also lost friends to cancer. Last year, with your help, I raised almost $1,000 for my team! I want to continue to do my part to do that again. Cancer is a horrible disease that can attack anyone… anywhere. And we just never know who the next victim is going to be.

I believe that most donations are never realized because the question is never asked. So, I’m asking. I’m asking you to support me and my team and the Martin County Relay for Life by making a donation. It’s going to take more than one person to knock out cancer. It takes a team. We have a team of coordinators organizing the event. We have several teams that are coming out to walk and showing their support by gathering donations. And I need a team of friends and family to help me do the same thing.

I am sending out more than 100 of these letters. If everyone that receives it donates only $10, I will have raised well over $1,000 for Relay for Life. If we all work together, we can help to stop cancer before it stops another person that we love.

Will you help me? If you’d like to help, use the return envelope and send a check made out to American Cancer Society by March 31st. If you would like a receipt for tax purposes, let me know and I’ll mail one to you right away. I want to thank you in advance for all your support, whether in time, money, or prayer. I believe that together we can make a difference. God bless you and yours.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Cardboard Testimony

I went to the Chrysalis Journey last night to help serve dinner, attend a prayer service, and stay for the candlelight ceremony. It was good for me. Just after dinner, we had Cardboard Testimonies. If you've never heard of that, check out the video.

My Cardboard Testimony was...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Boy and Illness

The boy is sick. Again.

Sometimes I think he's a hypochondriac. Sometimes I think he gets sick more than any three people I know.

When he was little, really little, he was such an easy sick baby. He had his little stuffed seal that I named Shakespeare...and he called Bakes-beer. He had one of his little baby blankets. And he had either his bottle or his sippy cup, depending on his age. He didn't whine or cry; he just wanted to be left alone. I'd put in his favorite Disney movie and he'd fall asleep.

Today, holy wow! He gripes and complains about every little pain. He's had kidney stones four times in the last nine months. And I know they're painful; I've endured that pain as well. He's had a handful of migraines in the last year. Again, I know they're painful; I've had them too. And every time he has a headache or a cold or a sore muscle, he's a HORRIBLE sick baby.

I kind of miss that two-year-old that was so darn easy to placate.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines' Day!

I'm sure that is probably the most popular title for blogs today. If not, at least the most popular topic.

I know my friend Lauren is the quintessential Valentines' Day fan. She thinks that it reminds folks to treat their loved ones the way they should be treating them all year round. She's all pink and red and heart-shaped on this day.

But I have to admit, I don't really subscribe to that philosophy.

First of all, I put the apostrophe AFTER the s, not before...assuming that it's more than okay, even expected, that folks have more than one Valentine. My son disagrees with that. And that's because we have two different definitions of what a Valentine is. He thinks it has to be his one and only, his reason for being, his 'girl'. And if he doesn't happen to have one of those, then he'll hang with someone who will at least fill that role for the day. Me on the other hand, if I love you, you can be my Valentine. Just like in the second grade, I sent out dozens of Valentines last night (via FaceBook...not much effort, really). Men, women, relatives. I'm not that particular.

Second, I think that having a day like Valentines' Day, makes those without Valentines feel less than worthy, unimportant, even forgotten. Just try doing ANYTHING on this day without a significant other. Go to a movie and you're likely to feel like a loser. Go to dinner and wait and wait and wait on a table for one? Uhhh, no. And why? So you can sit with your bowl o' pasta and your lonely glass of wine, while being surrounded by couples being all lovey-dovey. I don't think so. I mean, feel free, but I don't think you'd enjoy it. I don't think I would anyway.

You might as well stay home. And that's not such a bad thing. In fact, my suggestion for those of us that don't have a love is to pick up Chinese takeout, rent a couple of movies...something funny or thought-provoking, NOT a romantic comedy (why punish yourself?)...and put on the flannel PJs to enjoy your Saturday night.

Come to think of it, that's what I'M doing tonight.

Don't get me wrong. This is NOT a woe is me post. Much like Halloween and New Year's Eve, I just don't get all that excited about this one. I don't feel like I'm missing out. I don't feel lonely. I don't feel like I need a date. I don't feel unloved or unlovable. Really, it's just a Saturday.

OH! And I HATE listening to those people who think they DO need someone. Another reason I don't like Valentines' day. People who were somewhat okay with being single two days ago are completely depressed about it on a day like Valentines' Day.

On top of that, it's just not right that men feel so much pressure to do something 'nice' for their ladies. And even worse that we women totally expect them to, regardless of whether or not it's in their personality to do so. I know those are HUGE generalities. But I think it's pretty accurate.

If you can have a wonderfully romantic Valentines' Day, more power to you. But I hate it that so many people are simply depressed because they feel that they're missing out.

Many years ago, when I was active duty, one of my co-workers told me that he and his wife had a date night every Friday night. They had three boys: 4, 8, and 12. But except for the last one's birth date, they NEVER missed a Friday night. They dressed up for each other. They made dinner together (or went out). They put on nice music and lit the candles. And the kids would stay with a neighbor or relative until they were old enough to stay in the basement and entertain themselves. Now THAT'S romance.

Then they balance that with having family night every Saturday night. Make dinner with the boys, family-friendly favorites like tacos or pizza. They'd play board games or go putt-putting. They'd invite friends over for sleep-overs. Pretty much, whatever the family could do together.

Bottom line for me, it's all about the love. And if Valentines' Day reminds you to show love, then enjoy your day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Asking for your help...

It's time for the Body of Christ to come together for people just like Fran and Craig. I know it's a long post for me. But please take a few minutes to read this one. Thanks!

I received an email from a friend about a couple needing assistance. I've never met these people, but the email touched my heart and I felt compelled to help. After making a monetary donation, I decided that I could do more by spreading the word to my email and blog friends. If you'd like to help make a difference for this family, let me know. I'll tell you how. Every little bit helps. Thank you so much in advance.

In His Name,

Email from my friend, Tracy.

Hi! This is Tracy... Fran and Craig are dear friends of mine from California. Fran helped me immensely when Mom died and many times since then. Her beloved father recently died. Last year, the State of California cut out payments to Craig for being the stay-at-home caregiver for their severely handicapped son Joseph. It was one half of their income. Now, they are both out of work temporarily. I am asking you to please read her urgent message (below). If there is any way you can help, I am asking in all humility, please do. Your Christian charity will be rewarded one hundred fold! I know that Paul and I will help. What wowed me is that Renee heard us talking about this situation and guess what she did? She went to her purse and gave us $50 of the money she received at her 11th birthday party and from family last week. She did it willingly and joyfully...I'm so proud of her! I don't mean to embarrass anyone. If you choose not to give or simply cannot do so at this time, I understand. I don't get involved in causes, people or activities that I am not 100% committed to and believe in. I can assure you Fran and Craig are genuinely special in God's eyes and in mine. If you can and want to help, remember that the "widow's mite" was very acceptable to Our Lord. Any amount can help. It all adds up! Let me know what you think. I can send you their address. Or, if you prefer, I can send them any gifts we receive for them all at once. Thank you. Ave Maria! Tracy

Email from Tracy's friend, Fran.
Hi Tracy. Hope you and yours are doing wonderful. We are doing OK but hurting in areas that are very difficult to talk about. Since I consider you one of my confidantes who understands our situation and ministry, I am going to be very candid with you. I do not expect you to have answers or help readily available but perhaps you know of someone who can help this financially strapped family. This is so draining and so humiliating that I weep as I write this to you.

As you know, Craig was out of work for quite some time. He has several health issues but falls through the cracks as far as qualifying for disability. He obtained a simple security job which he was thrilled with. However, because of the flailing economy, he is now only "on call"....this month he received all of 4 hours of work! Praise God, he has 8 hours this week. At least it's "something" for now. I am currently out of work. My health has been in question from all the current stress I have been under: extreme financial crisis, physical problems, demonic supervisor on the job, and my mom's disabled condition... plus her grieving my dad (who died a few months ago)....I had to take an emergency FAMILY LEAVE which is a law in the state of California. Praise God again my job immediately recognized my situation as grave and gave me the time but I am WITHOUT PAY for 3 months.

Miraculously, a friend of ours gave us a gift to cover our rent for the 1st month. Catholic Charities is covering the 2nd month (we think so far) but we need help with the rent for the 3rd month. I will be back to work on April 1st or May 1st depending on health and circumstances at that time. It's BEEN MORE THAN A NIGHTMARE and I try very hard to give a happy face to the world. There are very few who know what we struggle with or suffer. You told me to let you know whenever we needed anything. Well, my dear Tracy, now that the time has arrived I need to tell you: WE ARE IN DIRE STRAITS.... We are just a paycheck away from homelessness and by the grace of God have survived all this time. However, the time has come that we must humble ourselves more and ask for assistance during these 3 months. I totally UNDERSTAND if you cannot help at this time but what I am asking is this: DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO CAN HELP PEOPLE WHO ARE POOR AND STRUGGLING? Are there any charities or individuals you know who assist folks like us? I know the need is EVERYWHERE in the USA today and charities hardly have enough to give anymore.

If anyone asks, please tell them this: our rent is $1,400 a month and we do not have enough to cover it for 2 more months. If we could only have some help, perhaps my health will improve with rest (my blood pressure has been dangerously high), hopefully Craig's work will get more hours and I will return to my job after my mom is on her feet again. She needs so much help! Please mention that there is a severely handicapped young man involved in all of this (my son Joe) who is retarded and cannot work. He needs 24-7 care and I cannot work full time because of it. I know it is why Craig has been home so much. God has always taken great care of Joseph even though we are called to suffer as a family. The struggles are surely difficult in all areas. Whenever I get down about all of this, I remember what our Lady told St. Bernadette, "I CAN'T MAKE YOU HAPPY IN THIS WORLD.....ONLY IN THE NEXT"

Tracy, this has just about killed me to write. I guess this is what its like to be truly POOR. I never thought I would be in this category, but I am, WE ARE....there are no holds barred with our problems tonight. If you write back with words of encouragement and nothing else I will be more than thankful and happy. It feels good to just have a sounding board.... I just thought since you told me to let you know if things ever needed a hand or we needed help, THIS WAS THE TIME TO CRY OUT. If you can think of nothing in assistance, just pray for us PLEASE.....I know your prayers are very powerful!!!! God will show the way even though it seems real dark right now. Thank you again for listening and caring so much.

Your Sister In Christ, Fran +JMJ+

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss

Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss: A 50 Day Renewal of Body, Mind, and Spirit
by Kara Davis, MD

The easy-to-use 50-day format of "Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss" emphasizes both the physical and spiritual aspects of weight loss and encourages positive health habits and long-term lifestyle changes. The secrets to permanent weight loss lie in understanding the power of God.

My mom loaned me this book. I LOVE the title. And so far, I'm loving the book! Every day, there is a bible verse to motivate me. I was surprised to see how many times the bible tells us that mind, body, and spirit are intertwined and that lacking in one can easily make us less than effective in the others. This book is also a great reminder that I can rely on God's strength for anything, even something like losing weight.

The fact is, food is somewhat of an addiction for me. I eat all the time. I have always eaten whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without considering the consequences of my decisions with regard to my health or my spirituality. I've used every excuse to eat: to celebrate, to commiserate, to fill time when I'm bored, etc.

Well from now on, I want to eat because my body requires the fuel. I'm sure there will be times when I eat for other reasons, like a birthday party or the super bowl...or because I'm temporarily back-sliding! But for the most part, I'll do what I can to eat healthier foods in appropriate portions because it's time to refuel my body. Not because I don't have anything better to do.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

40 X 40 Status Update

Another quarterly 40 X 40 status update.

1. Lose 70 pounds.
- I don't have a scale at home, so I don't weigh myself very often. But as of my doctor's appointment on the 6th, I'm down ten pounds! I'm pretty excited. Also, my mom loaned me a book called Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss by Kara Davis, MD. I'm supposed to read a chapter every day. But I don't. I get so into it, I read 2-3 days at a time. But I'm okay with that. Anyway, I'm going to do a whole post on the book, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail today. Just know, it's GREAT!

9. Read 40 books I've never read before.

- I've been writing more than I'm reading. And I've been reading my bible more. But still, I have gotten a few more books under my belt.

I've read the following books since I started my 40 X 40 challenge (books listed in previous updates are in blue):
  1. G Is for Gumshoe - Sue Grafton
  2. H Is for Homicide - Sue Grafton
  3. Through the Labyrinth of Writing Your Book - Anne Wayman
  4. One for the Money - Janet Evanovich
  5. Sundays at Tiffany's - James Patterson
  6. Plum Lucky - Janet Evanovich
  7. Lean Mean Thirteen - Janet Evanovich
  8. Shattering Glass - Gail Giles (Jeff's library book)
  9. Five Alive - Janet Evanovich
  10. Visions of Sugar Plums - Janet Evanovich
  11. Double Cross - James Patterson
  12. Hooked - Les Edgerton
  13. Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss - Kara Davis, MD (what I'm currently reading)
12. Go one whole week without turning on the television.

- Okay, I haven't actually done this one yet. But now that football season is over, it's much more likely to happen. I probably can't convince Jeff to not watch television, so I'll likely be spending a lot of time in my room...or outside. Both of those would be good for me. Outside, I can be walking. In my room, I can be reading and riding my exercise bike. So, surely there will be a whole week somewhere between McDreamy proposing to Meredith and March Madness.

17. Debt-free, except for the house.

- I already think this one might be more than I can pull off. I've agreed to pay for half of Jeff's college experience as long as he's passing. So, I'll be picking up a fairly big expense here in about six months. But still, I'm going to give it the old college pun intended. Also a friend introduced me to an interesting website,, helping debtors become savers. It teaches you how to pay off debt faster by making power payments. You can also try a couple of different options for paying off your debt (highest interest rates first or smallest balances first, etc). If you're seriously interested in reducing debt, you should check it out.

21. Go white-water rafting in Colorado.

- Okay, again, I haven't accomplished this one yet. Holy wow, it's much too cold to be white-water rafting in Colorado yet. But I've already recruited a friend to go with me. My goal is to convince a couple more of our friends to go too. Talk about a great time. I still think this year is going to be too busy though, with Jeff's graduation in May, Relay for Life in June, 20 year class reunion sometime this summer, Jeff off to college in August, plus work and life. So it may be way too early to be blogging about this one.

23. Get a passport...

- I downloaded the paperwork to apply for a passport. I even filled it out. But I can't find my Social Security Card. I can't even remember the last time I had it; I don't have a need for it all that often. So, I think my passport application is on hold until I finish my SSN replacement card application.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ironic Conversation of the Day

***names have been kinda-sorta changed to protect the not-so-innocent***

It's not that I was actively eavesdropping. But I work in a room full of cubicles. There's simply no way to avoid hearing each other's conversations. Even when folks are whispering so as not to be disruptive, they're heard by their immediate neighbors. That is the case in this very ironic conversation I just heard.

Two of my co-workers also go to school in the evening. They are discussing their current classes. I didn't hear what Betsy said she was taking. But in response.

Jenn: Oh, yeah, I had to take Old and New Testament. Ugh!

Betsy: Thank GOD I didn't have to take anything like that!

I said a little prayer for both of them and decided it would make a good blog post.

Just smile and say a prayer for anyone who has to begrudgingly take a religious course (and obviously get nothing out of it) and for those people who don't and consider themselves lucky. Amen.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Silly Groundhog

I could have posted this a couple of days ago, but I had other things to say. : )
On Jan 28th, we had so much snow and cold weather that our workplace was closed. Schools were out of session for DAYS! And several hundred (maybe thousand) homes were without power.

As of Sunday, Feb 8th, just a week and a half later, we have NO snow and 50-60 degree temperatures. Actually, that's an inaccurate assessment. There IS snow.the piles that were created/assembled in several parking lots across town. But even those are dwindling, melting before our eyes.

So Linus Felinus is back to living outdoors again. His house. And my car has his signature prints all over it as proof.

It's been so nice for the last few days that I'm convinced that winter is over in southern Indiana. What are the chances? That silly little groundhog says no. But we even have thunderstorms in the forecast for tomorrow night. I LOVE thunderstorms! (Then again, I loved the snow... reminded me of Colorado.) Of course, with all this melting snow, we don't really need the precipitation. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

Bring on the rain!