Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Improving Who You Are

"By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be." - Mark Victor Hansen.

I don't know about you, but I am not the person I want to be. I'm not a bad person. And I'm not a failure. But I'm not complete either. I'm not 'finished'.

I truly believe that I have it within me to effect change in my life. I know that I can choose to eat differently and workout more regularly to make positive changes in my health and well-being, not to mention my physical appearance. I know that I can choose to read my bible daily, attend mass more than once a week, and say my prayers more consistently to enrich my walk with Jesus. I know that I am physically able to take better care of my home and my 'things'. But I don't always do those (and other) things that would bring me more inline with the person that I want to be.

It's not that I don't know HOW to do those things. It's not that I can't AFFORD to do them. It's not even that I don't have the TIME to make them happen. I simply don't commit to them and increase the self-control in my life. Self-control is in fact, one of the fruits of the spirit. It's mine to enjoy, to use, to grow, if I so choose. I simply haven't CHOSEN to do it. Oh, I keep SAYING I'm going to. And maybe I really think I AM going to...for a few days. But really, I'm no closer now to being the real me, the me that God intended me to be, than I was a year ago.

I have grown in some areas. My relationship with my son is oh-so-much better than it was three years ago. And I've grown professionally to the point where I feel that work is my career and not just a job. And I've grown spiritually, though really just in baby steps compared to what's really out there for me.

But baby steps are still steps. And as long as those steps are in the right direction, it can't be all bad. I had a conversation with my son this weekend about eating an elephant. He missed several days of school last week and had mucho-grande school work to do in order to catch up and qualify to graduate. He was so overwhelmed by some of it that he was paralyzed into inaction. I told him it was like eating an elephant. You have no idea how many bites it's going to take until you get started. And it all starts with the first bite. One bite at a time. THAT'S how you eat an elephant...one.bite.at.a.time.

So, I'm going to take Mr. Mark Victor Hansen's advice and record my dreams and goals on paper. And I'm going to keep them with me so that I can read them often. Then I'm going to come up with small, easy, baby-step, one-bite-at-a-time things to do in my everyday life that will move me closer to that person.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kidney Stone Update

I intended to do this Wednesday night. But I was so darn tired, I went to bed early. And last night, after a Relay for Life meeting, I caught up with email and Facebook instead of blogging. So, today I'm finally updating you on the plight of the stone.

Well, I learned this. The average human can only pass a stone up to 4mm. Only SOME people can pass stones that get up to 5mm. So, there was NO WAY that Jeff was passing a stone that was 6.6mm by 8.2mm. The reason he had to wait until Wednesday to have his stone removed is because that was the first day that the urologist had surgery hours.

So, all of Monday, we kind of expected Jeff to pass this stone. He was so disappointed when they told him he needed to stay in the hospital until Wednesday morning. Tuesday, he was down-right miserable. I know this because he was on more medication than Monday and he was WAY meaner. Between the pain and the drugs, he was an absolute BEAR.

Twice, he kicked me out of his room. I was upset, of course, because I'm an emotional being. But on the positive side, it gave me the opportunity to go outside and enjoy the glorious day. At first I thought I was just going to take a walk so that I could blow off some steam and get a breath of fresh air. But it didn't take long, my friends, for me to truly appreciate being outdoors. By Tuesday evening, I was feeling a little better and Jeff was handling his pain a little better.

I rented a couple of movies and took my laptop to the hospital. After visiting with a couple of friends, Jeff and I had movie night. It was BY FAR the best part of the day. We watched "Taken" with Liam Neeson, where is daughter is taking a vacation in France and is abducted. It was really good. It made for a late night though.

After saying good night's and I love you's, I headed back to God's Country and Jeff was drugged back to sleep. When I got home, I packed some of Jeff's things and set my alarm for early.

I was back at the hospital again by about 6:15am. Jeff had to be at Jasper Memorial by 8am and the roads through Ireland are still closed due to high waters. So, we were going to have to travel through Loogootee. Jeff was NOT in a good mood, did NOT want to be out of bed, and felt EVERY pothole on HWYs 50 and 231. At the same time, I was thinking that I could have used a couple more hours of sleep myself, but I appreciated the fact that the potholes were keeping me awake.

We arrived at Jasper Memorial at 7:45am. The lady at the reception desk said that we were really early. I'm thinking, only like 15 minutes early. She then told us that Jeff's procedure wasn't scheduled until noon. I asked her why on earth the surgeon would want us there four hours early. She had no answer for that.

Nevertheless, we were ushered back to a pre-op room. Jeff was accustomed to getting toradol every six hours AND dilaudid (or nubane) every two hours. His last dose of the dilaudid was at 6am when we left Daviess County Hospital. So by 8am, he was ready for another dose. Well, that wasn't to be. It wasn't until about 9:30 that he even got his IV. At around 10, they gave him .5cc of dilaudid. That's 1/4 of the dose that he was getting every two hours in W'ton. He simply glared at the nurse administering the meds.

But honestly, Jeff was really pretty quiet in pre-op. Whereas Tuesday he was loud and angry and everyone was feeling his pain, Wednesday he was moaning and mumbling and kinda/sorta sleeping. I'm guessing that his mind and body were just so absolutely exhausted by this time.

At any rate, Jeff was pulled into surgery at noon. An hour and a half later, I was called into the consultation room with Dr. Foertsch (pronounced furch). He said that the stone was huge and hadn't moved a bit since the CT scan in the ER Sunday night. He also said that a ureter is normally the width of a pencil and Jeff's had the diameter of a nickel due to that stone. He said that the ultrasound shock-wave thing only proved to knock some of the edges from the stone, but did nothing to break it up. He then turned up the laser and 'cut' the stone into three pieces. So, they'll have plenty to test and analyze. Thank God!

All in all, the surgery went very well.

Tonight, at 6:15pm specifically, he has another appointment to have the stent removed. I am not looking forward to that and I KNOW Jeff isn't. He's been warned that it will be painful. He's been doing mostly okay since he got home from the hospital(s). But he's seeing a lot of blood and that concerns him. The doctor assures us that it's perfectly normal though. So, we'll know more tonight. Pray for Jeff. That he truly is on the mend and that everything he's feeling and seeing is perfectly normal. And that his appointment this evening goes quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Also pray for Jeff and his school work. He stopped by the high school today to find out everything that he has to accomplish in order to qualify to graduate. He has a lot to do. Normally he would have been given more time due to being in the hospital, but with graduation, there simply isn't time for that. There's a hard and fast deadline to meet in order to officially be a graduate. So, everything has to be done by the end of the school day on Wednesday. Thank God for the three-day weekend! I think we're going to need every bit of it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kidney Stones, AGAIN

Jeff is fighting a kidney stone again. All day Sunday, he was in pain. By the end of the day, he couldn't keep anything down for more than about 20 minutes. Ultimately, I took him to the ER.

Three hours later, with a 6mm stone confirmed, he was admitted. He was also put on a clear liquid diet and lots of meds, both for pain and for infection.

All day today, he was in miserable pain, was hungry, and was frustrated that his stone wasn't going anywhere fast.

This evening, around 8pm, the urologist stopped by. He said that he measured the stone in two different directions. Latitudinally, its 6.6mm; longitudinally, its 8.2mm. Apparently, that's pretty darn big for a 'passable' stone. In the picture above, that stone is considered to be 5mm wide. So, Jeff's is bigger than that. But the urologist wants to give Jeff one more day to pass it on his own. Then, he's going in after it...first thing Wednesday morning. Oooooh, Jeff was not happy to hear this.

One good thing is that Jeff was put back on a regular diet, as opposed to the liquid diet that kept him ravenous all day long.

Second good thing, after several different heavy-duty meds, they finally found something to take the edge off the pain and allow Jeff to sleep. Dilaudid. According to the nurse, it's five times as strong as morphine.

And even though both of those things were nearly enough to make Jeff actually smile this evening, they did NOTHING to comfort him after the doctor explained to him what was actually going to happen Wednesday morning. Thankfully, he'll be under general anesthesia. Unfortunately, the stint they're going to leave behind will be somewhat uncomfortable for a few days.

If you remember, Jeff suffered from kidney stone pain and the associated pain meds when school started. And the result was not pretty. Now he's finishing his senior year the same way. So, please say a prayer (or two, or ten!) that we can find a way to lessen the pain and discomfort enough so that Jeff can accomplish everything he needs to in order to graduate.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Armed Forces Day!

Today is Armed Forces Day. It is a day that was established so that citizens of the United States could come together to thank the service men and women of the armed forces for their dedication and commitment in supporting our country.

There are several websites that you can use to send a message to our troops, just to let them know that you think they're pretty great.

This site is Xerox's Let's Say Thanks website. The URL is http://www.letssaythanks.com/. 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!

I do it EVERY day.

Another site is the America Supports You site. The URL is http://www.ourmilitary.mil/message.aspx?SectionID=5. You enter your name, hometown, state, and a heartfelt message to a service member. Click submit and your message is on its way to a member of the armed forces.

Take the opportunity today to thank a soldier, an airman, a seaman, or a marine. And pray for them. All of them. And their families. And the people that they're trying to protect. It's the least we can do.

And the most!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Graduation Invitation

Well, you may have heard rumors. Jeffrey Michael Underwood is graduating from high school. Loogootee High School, specifically. He thought long and hard before deciding if he was even going to attend his own Commencement. Being that LHS is the third high school he's attended, he's just not all that sentimental about it. But alas, the decision has been made... he is planning to walk... with cap and gown... and mandatory white shirt and tie.

But he flat out told me that if he had to send out invitations, he wasn't going. In an effort to keep our plans for that evening intact, I've decided to go with a much more informal announcement. But don't tell him I told you! I will deny even knowing who you are.

So, let it be known that on Friday, May 29th, 2009, at 7:00 PM at the Loogootee High School gymnasium, AKA Butcher Arena, Jeffrey Michael Underwood will wait with bated breath for his name to be called so that he can receive his diploma, proof that he's received all required credits for graduation from an Indiana high school. Even though he would NEVER say it himself, I'm sure Jeff would love to see you there.

Jeff specifically requested (made me promise, in fact) that I NOT host a party in his honor. In exchange, Jeff agreed to attend the graduation mass. That was a no-brainer for me, folks. So, you can also see Jeff in his cap and gown on Sunday, May 24th, 2009 at the 10:00 AM mass at St. John's Catholic Church in Loogootee.

Now, if you don't mind, say a quick prayer that none of these plans change. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I am so tired...

I've only been home from work for about 30 minutes. And I can hardly keep my eyes open. I think I'm going to bed... at 6:30 PM.

What are the chances that I'll be able to sleep until morning? I'll probably be up in like five hours. Oh, well, makes no difference. I am oh-so-very-tired. I'm going to bed.

Man, it would be LOVELY to sleep for 12 hours. Wish me luck.

Sleep well, my friends.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Parenting Is So Hard

Okay, so it started yesterday morning. I often times check out the local paper online when I'm slow at getting started in the mornings. And that happens EVERY Monday morning. There was an article about how a couple of local banks were held up on Friday. Strangely, I hadn't heard anything about it all weekend, so I read the article. It didn't mention any names, but described the two incidents which happened just minutes apart.
Well, the next article was about how they had a suspect in custody. He's a kid from our hometown, used to be in Jeff's class until he was expelled. I think he's been doing drugs for awhile, but I don't know anything for sure. I know him because I taught his 7th grade Religious Ed class. Not to mention, he and Jeff used to hang out and play basketball together.

This kid is 18 and is an only child. His parents are divorced. He has a lot of free time because his parents are busy. He's a bit spoiled and has a history of being somewhat defiant to the rules, acting like he's above them.

Sound familiar? Jeff has been/can be all of those things! Maybe not at the same time. Perhaps in varying degrees. But still, Jeff and this kid have LOTS in common...except that to my knowledge, Jeff has never gotten mixed up with drugs. (And we've drug tested him several times in the last four years. So, if he's tried drugs, he hasn't done them consistently enough to get caught.)

Anyway, all day yesterday, I just kept thinking about this kid and his parents and how Jeff and I were SO CLOSE to being in that exact same place. How one-too-many inconsistent or outright bad parenting decisions on my part could have pushed him the wrong direction. Or one day when I was too busy or too tired to notice Jeff pushing the barriers of out-of-control and I did nothing. And regularly prioritizing something else above my responsibility to Jeff.

If this kid's parents are to blame for his current situation, I am at least as guilty...of neglect or bad parenting or lack of common sense.

And don't get me wrong, I know that this kid is equally (if not more so) at fault for his current situation. Ignoring the rules and the laws, choosing to do drugs, putting his own selfish interests above those of others, not considering the ramifications of his actions, etc., etc., etc.

But still, it just cut too close for me. We are lucky...no, BLESSED that things didn't swing the other way for Jeff. I guess it just hit me...HARD...that one tiny thing could have made the difference between having a kid that enrolls in college and a kid that goes to jail. And honestly, I'm pulled between overwhelming relief and absolute guilt.

Thank you, Lord for EVERYTHING You do in my life. And thank you to all my friends and family who have prayed for me and for Jeff. Please pray for ALL teenagers and their families, especially this kid and his family having such a difficult time this week.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not what I intended to post...

I read something in the newspaper this morning that really got me thinking today. And I was going to post all about it tonight.

Then I got busy at work, learned that a friend's father passed away, stopped by the church for visitation (about 45 minutes out of my way), picked up Pizza-Pizza order forms from several Relay for Life team members, then watched House.

House ended with Dr. House entering a psychiatric hospital. The last few minutes of the episode were very emotional for me. Not that I've ever been a resident of a psychiatric hospital, but I fight depression. And it just hit me a little hard. Nearly brought me to tears even.

I'm sure it had a lot to do with my emotional day. Nevertheless, I'll write about my morning, tomorrow night. Tonight? I'm going to bed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers' Day!

I had a wonderful Mothers' Day. I went to mass last night, so I got to sleep in a bit this morning. That's how I start most Sunday's. And today was no different in that respect.

Then my friend Helen invited me over for brunch with some of her favorite moms. It was wonderful. We had goldenrod eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits with apple butter, and fruit with cream. There were other things on the menu, but I was SO FULL. And the company was so nice. Great stories. Lots of laughs. And her cute little dog!

I came home and walked two miles...WITH JEFF. I was really surprised when he took me up on the invitation. But we enjoyed the quality time.

Then I worked on thank-you cards for all those generous people who donated money to Relay for Life. More than 40! I know some very cool people.

Then Jeff and I did an early dinner. Now he's bowling and I'm catching up on computer time. What a lovely, lovely day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Silent Tears by Kay Bratt

I got a book in the mail today. I knew it was coming. Not that I knew much of anything about the book OR the writer. But it's my very first book every where the author signed it!

I visit a site called the
Secret Is in the Sauce every day. They are committed to lifting up women in many different ways. The easiest way that allows us all to get involved is by visiting and commenting on each other's blogs, offering encouragement or advice. They also share prayer requests and promote women's businesses...among other things.

Well, a few weeks ago, they had an online auction in support of a fundraiser at
Mom It Forward. This amazing website's motto is "changing the world one mom at a time". Isn't that great?!

Mom It Forward was raising money for
Yehu. Yehu is a micro-finance organization in the rural coastal region of Kenya for the poor, run by the poor. It provides financial and other support services for small businesses owned by very poor people.

So, several SITS followers donated items to have included in an online auction to support Yehu. One of the items was
Kay Bratt's book, Silent Tears. I bid on it. For several reasons. One, I wanted to donate SOMETHING. Two, I want to BE a writer, so I want to SUPPORT writers. And three, I would finally have a book that was signed by the author!

I didn't even know what the book was about when I bid on it. But I looked it up online...gotta love the Internet. I found that this book is about one woman's emotional journey in a third world country with the children who fill the orphanages there. It's about their lives and how they touched her. And it's about her undying love and never-ending advocacy for them, not only to make their lives in the orphanages better, but also to facilitate adoption efforts.

How inspiring. I'm looking forward to every page.

Friday, May 8, 2009

7 Points of Prayer / 7 Days a Week

...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

From the National Day of Prayer 2009 website...

Are you willing to commit to pray for our country seven days a week? Are you able to set aside time in your car, during your coffee break, or before bedtime? We want to challenge you make this prayer commitment.

7x7 involves praying for seven centers of power seven days a week: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family.

By remembering these specific prayer points, we can cover all Americans with God's power. Together, we will see positive change!

Pray for our leaders, as well as the judges in our courts. Ask God to grant them wisdom to act with integrity.

  • I Kings 3:28
  • I Timothy 2:1-2
  • Exodus 18:21
  • Proverbs 11:3
  • Romans 13:1-2

Our Founding Fathers established a nearly foolproof system of government; its checks and balances are among the most noteworthy aspects of our republic. Our executive, legislative and judicial branches ­ when functioning as they were designed ­ champion our liberties and prevent our government from becoming tyrannical and oppressive. By and large, however, the American people are sadly uninformed about democratic principles and their role in safeguarding our freedoms. What's more, the clearly defined lines between the three branches of government are becoming blurred, and United States citizens are paying the price.

We must continue to pray that God protects our way of life, asking that He would install in office men and women who are committed to serving their constituents with integrity. And we must remain in prayer for our elections, beseeching God to prompt our fellow citizens to become involved in this process. Voting is both a duty and a privilege, and the outcomes of our political races are critical in determining the future course of our nation.

May God's hand of wisdom and guidance remain upon each segment of our society, and through His Spirit, may believers be inspired to "pray continually" (I Thessalonians 5:17). We are assured that the Almighty hears our petitions. As people from coast to coast lift their voices in prayer, repentance and humility, we simply cannot underestimate how the Lord will respond. Let us together come before His throne with these words on our lips and in our hearts, "God bless America!"

Pray for divine protection and guidance for our armed forces. Intercede for military chaplains and loved ones at home.

  • II Chronicles 32:6-8
  • Psalm 57:1
  • Psalm 59:1
  • Proverbs 2:8
  • Psalm 5:11

In the wake of the September 11 attacks on our own soil, the American people have realized that the face of war is forever changed. No longer can we think of combat being fought solely on faraway shores. We must acknowledge that many of the United States' enemies are among us, even as others plot against us from afar.

With this sobering reality in mind, pray for the courageous troops who are actively serving our country each day ­ not only at bases around the world, but also here within our borders. Our soldiers daily place themselves in harm's way in order to defend the way of life we hold dear, and they desperately need our prayer support. Their families should be remembered as well. These individuals often make significant sacrifices as they endure long separations, frequent moves and other challenges inherent to military service.

As the heroic men and women in our armed services secure our liberty both at home and abroad, pray the Lord's protection will go before them. In addition, lift up the chaplains stationed around the world, along with the Christian servicemen who unofficially fulfill a role of spiritual leadership. Ask that these believers would faithfully represent Christ among their comrades-in-arms.

Please don't forget to pray also for those who have lost a loved one in battle. These grieving families have paid the ultimate price, and we must ask that God's comfort would be upon them in a special way.

Finally, pray that our media's accounts of U.S. military actions are relayed fairly and impartially. Our troops are deserving of their fellow Americans' gratitude and respect, and accurate reporting can play an important role in rallying the American people around our brave servicemen.

Pray for truth and morality to be presented.

  • Proverbs 12:9-22
  • Ephesians 4:29
  • Philippians 4:8
  • Matthew 12:36-37

The media is unquestionably one of the most powerful and influential voices in our culture. Journalism used to be a simple matter of reporting the facts and, where there was controversy, presenting both sides of the story. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. From the top national networks to local newspapers, we are faced with the challenge of sorting through commentary and conjecture in order to get to the truth.

Meanwhile, throughout the entertainment industry, the heroes of pop culture model vices such as materialism, promiscuity, substance abuse, and violence. Professional athletes, once some of our nation's most revered and reliable role models, now watch many of their fellow players regularly fall into public disgrace.

Those of us determined to be discerning are constantly faced with the task of wading through the media's often biased and immoral offerings to find wholesome and acceptable alternatives for ourselves and our families. Specifically, we need to recognize and reject the errant messages of popular culture that run counter to the Judeo-Christian system of values.

We encourage you to make our nation's journalists a subject of prayer. Ask the Lord to provide the television, radio and print mediums with staff members and executives who are committed to accuracy and integrity.

We must also remember to intercede on behalf of the actors, musicians and athletes our young people seek to emulate. Pray that more of Hollywood's celebrities will be worthy of our respect and admiration. And as you watch your favorite sport, ask the Lord to strengthen and embolden any Christians on the team or coaching staff. Nothing is too difficult for God ­ and though the industry often seems unprincipled, we know the Lord is able to use the media to accomplish His purposes.

Pray that God will raise up His ambassadors in the workplace.

  • Matthew 5:14-16
  • Galatians 6:9
  • Proverbs 29:2
  • Exodus 31:3-5

Today's business leaders hold a great deal of sway in our society. America has long celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who have launched innovative and successful companies. In generations past, honest and generous CEOs were rewarded with loyal employees, customers and clients. In recent years, however, greater numbers of large corporations are becoming characterized by deception, greed, and even fraudulent activity.

In this climate, executives with strong ethics are especially deserving of our recognition and patronage. A great way to encourage such business leaders is to support Marketplace Chaplains USA, a group that positions chaplains in companies across the country. Also, continue praying that God will provide corporate America with business leaders who are committed to conducting themselves honorably.

Pray for safety, morally sound instruction and wholesome environments.

  • Deuteronomy 11:18-19
  • Psalm 34:7
  • Matthew 19:14
  • Psalm 90:16-17

The goals, content and approach of modern-day education have changed dramatically from the schooling children received when our nation was first conceived. Formal, public education was just taking shape at that time as the newly formed government took responsibility for helping parents with this aspect of their children's upbringing. With the 1635 founding of America's first public school, the Boston Latin School, biblical faith was unapologetically woven into classroom teaching. Many teachers were local pastors, and a reverence for the Almighty and His precepts was viewed as an integral part of true knowledge.

Today's schools are a far cry from those early classrooms. The influence of postmodern thought has left its mark on twenty-first-century education, introducing concepts such as pluralism, "tolerance," and the rejection of absolute truth. While the textbooks used in colonial days promoted a faith-based worldview, today's curricula are replete with materials that accept ­ and, in some cases, even condone ­ immoral activities and lifestyles. Meanwhile, revisionist teachings about our country's founding remove any reference to the Christian underpinnings that have long set our nation apart and helped it thrive.

With this type of atmosphere pervading our classrooms, it's especially critical that we pray for our nation's public school teachers, administrators and students. Ask the Lord to raise up a new generation of dedicated educators who will commit themselves not only to an honest, accurate presentation of all subject matter, but who will also serve as positive role models for their students. In addition, let's not forget to uphold our local school boards in prayer as they make decisions about the various curricula that are used across the country.

Pray for unity and boldness in proclaiming God's Word.

  • Matthew 16:18-19
  • Ephesians 4:3-6
  • II Thessalonians 1:4
  • Acts 16:15

While we often associate the word "church" with our locale of worship, Scripture takes a much broader view. The Church, ultimately, refers to the body of Christian believers around the world. The Lord is passionate for His Church, His bride. From the dawn of time, God's purposes have centered around revealing His glory through His people ­ and securing our eternity with Him.

As those who guide and disciple the Church, today's pastors and other Christian leaders face a vast and unprecedented array of pressures. While God has blessed His people with many godly ministers, these shepherds need our prayer support. As they strive to remain obedient to Christ, ask the Lord to provide them with strength and avenues of accountability so that they may maintain steadfastness in their vital callings. Down through the ages Christians have grieved over the tragedy of pastors who have succumbed to moral failure. Such circumstances seem all too frequent in our day and age. Pastoral families experience many unique stresses, too, and they can be overlooked even though their support role is crucial. Intercede for them, also, as they seek to faithfully come alongside their loved ones.

Meanwhile, the Christian community as a whole must struggle to be faithful amidst an "unbelieving and perverse generation" (Matthew 17:17). Our culture is rife with ideologies and activities that run contrary to biblical precepts, and believers must be increasingly "counter-cultural" in order to stay faithful to their convictions. Clearly, the Body of Christ needs intercession as never before.

Pray for the Lord to spark a revival throughout our nation, protect the witness of our pastors, and continue to sanctify and purify Christians around the world. We know that the spiritual condition of homes, communities and countries often points back to the believers within those regions. That being the case, it's all the more important that we strive after righteousness, corporately as well as individually.

Pray that families will follow godly principles.

  • Joshua 24:15
  • Psalm 127:3-5
  • Ephesians 5:21
  • Mark 3:25
  • Proverbs 22:6

No institution in the culture is facing more intense persecution than the family. Not only are the incidences of divorce, infidelity and abuse on the rise, but social engineers are relentless in their efforts to dismantle the traditional family.

It's crucial that we pray for this vital and foundational unit of society. God's Word makes it clear that families play a central role in disseminating the tenets of our faith to the next generation. Loving homes model virtues such as sacrifice, patience and unconditional love to a watching world, and committed marriages exemplify Christ's devotion to His Church. Indeed, the family holds a special place in God's heart.

Please pray for the family to be preserved as the Lord intended ­ the marital union of one man and one woman devoted to each other and to raising the children in their home to be responsible, caring adults. Also keep in mind our elected leaders and the members of our judicial system as they consider proposed legislation and various court cases related to marriage and the family. This is one of the most crucial matters facing our nation, and it's imperative that God's people remain diligent in intercession for these concerns.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

One of my Best Days

I slept well. I got up early. I finished the Carryover report in record time (and before anyone started asking for it). I finished a desk procedure for the Quality program. I gave blood, approximately one pint, plus five test tubes full. I went to the local service for the National Day of Prayer...and sang alto. And I drank diet green tea all day... well, and a little orange juice after the blood donation.

Tonight at the National Day of Prayer service, we all recited the same prayer. I thought it was really good, so I'm going to share it here. (We also received a flyer on the 7X7 praying. But I'll share that on another day.)


Lord, I pray for an outpouring of Your Spirit upon our nation. Bring revival into every city and town in every part of our country and into every church. I pray for unity in the Body of Christ so that each denomination would respect the others. Help us to proclaim the Gospel as revealed in Your Word so that the eyes of the blind will be opened to see who You really are. Bring millions of people into Your kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ. Let this revival be so powerful that it affects every part of our nation and touches every part of the world.

Raise up Christian leaders and pastors in this country who will not compromise their integrity and who will resist the temptation to be immoral or disobedient to Your laws. Help them to point people in the right direction so they can lift the standard of morality far higher than it has been. Enable them to lead people into a closer relationship with the living God so that this country will become once again a God-fearing nation.

We confess that as a nation we have been a rebellious people who have doubted You and made light of Your laws. Forgive us for shutting You out of our lives. We confess as the Body of Christ that we have not always maintained consistent commitment in prayer. Our prayers have been powerless because we have not always lived and prayed Your way.

Lord, I pray that You would remove the veil of doubt that has blinded the minds of the people who don't know You. Reveal Yourself to them. Send believers into their lives to speak to them about You in a way that opens their eyes to Your goodness.

On behalf of our nation, I repent of pornography, racism, prostitution, abortion, robbery, greed, idolatry, murder, sexual sins, lust, covetousness, adultery, and faithlessness. Deliver us from the consequences of them. Convict the hearts of people who engage in these things. Bring them to their knees in repentance before You.

Lord, I know Your heart is moved with compassion for Your people who are weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Send out laborers into the harvest, Lord. Remind us as Your people to pray with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Help us to open our mouths and speak boldly about the wonders of You.

In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Caged Animal

Okay, it's not like I have anywhere to go. But the fact that Jeff has my car and is out of town with it for the entire evening, I feel like I'm stuck at home. A caged animal.

How sad is that?!

I'm not sure if I feel like I've lost a bit of freedom. You know, I can't just jump in my car and go wherever I want to go whenever I want to go there like I did before there was a second driver in my home. OR maybe I'm jealous of the boy for actually having plans tonight? Or perhaps I don't like giving up my still-not-paid-for car to my not-so-reliable 18-year-old?

Jeff has only had his license since the middle of October, about seven months. And for 3-4 months of that, he couldn't drive due to issues with insurance and that reckless driving ticket that ultimately never materialized. So, this sharing MY car thing is still fairly new for us. Hey, that's gotta be it... I'm just not that good at sharing.

But I'm the one who puts gas in it. I'm the one who washes it. I'm the one who pays for it. But HE'S the one who rides around with the loud music and the windows down and looks cool in front of all of his friends.

Ahhh, maybe I'm just feeling old.

Motherhood is a fairly selfless role in life. And though I don't always feel like I'm successfully pulling off 'selfless', my halo is definitely slipping.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

It's Cinco de Mayo and you know what I'm having for lunch? A baked potato with light butter and pepper. (No salt today because the doctor says my blood pressure is creeping up and she doesn't like that one little bit.)

But I have to admit, it's perfect. I'm really enjoying it. Probably not as much as I'd enjoy tacos and refried beans with tortilla chips. But the baked potato is really easy and convenient... and probably much better for me.

I have a handful of individually wrapped potatoes on the shelf above my desk. That's where I keep the sea salt and black peppercorn grinders too. And I have a small tub of Country Crock Light spread (with 50% less calories and fat than butter...says so right on the lid...must be true) in the refrigerator in the break room. Seven minutes in the microwave and I have a happy belly for a few hours.

Okay, I've had a 'come to Jesus' kind of moment yesterday. Jeff and I were walking into the house and he asked me if I needed to be on the computer. He's been putting songs on his girlfriend's i-Pod and wanted to continue his efforts. I told him that I didn't need to be on the computer long, but that I had to write a blog entry. He immediately came back with, "You don't HAVE to. You WANT to." Gee, where have I heard that before?

I went on to tell him that I've posted a blog entry every day since February 1st and I wasn't going to skip a day so he could play with his girl's i-Pod. Ultimately, I wrote my blog entry, got off the computer, and Jeff went back to what he was doing.

But I've thought about it a lot in the last 16-18 hours. If I put the time, effort, and discipline into other things like I did this silly blog, there's no telling what things in my life could (WOULD) be different.
Let's just say it takes me 30 minutes to write a blog entry. Sometimes it takes longer; sometimes it's not so long. But let's just say on average, 30 minutes a day posting to my blog...let's not even talk about the time I spend reading my friends' blogs!
If I spent 30 minutes every day cleaning my house, my house would be much more organized, cleaner, AND it would free up some of my Saturday for other things.

If I read my bible for 30 minutes every day, I wouldn't be concerned with reading it cover-to-cover just ONCE. I'd have it read cover-to-cover once a year or more!

If I walked or exercised 30 minutes every day, I'd be in much better shape. I'd be wearing a smaller size. I'd be sleeping better. My doctor would be happy with me. I wouldn't have blood-pressure issues. And I'd get more fresh air and sunshine.

If I spent 30 minutes every day doing any ONE of the above items, I'd likely be spending less time in front of the television... And that's GOT to be better for me.

I'd love to say that tomorrow, I'm taking off from posting a blog entry. But I'm kind of anal-retentive when it comes to things like that. Why kill a streak when I don't have too? But there are PLENTY of other 30 minute blocks in my day. I am going to start filling them up with things that are much more beneficial to me.

Sure, (Jeff) I don't HAVE to do any of it. But I WANT to. And maybe I do NEED to. At any rate, look out world, I'm committing to another 'daily' task. I think I'm going to start with walking; my doctor is really yelling at me. And the whole idea of looking better, feeling better, sleeping better, being smaller, and being outside more just sounds so very nice right now.

Monday, May 4, 2009

40 X 40 Status Update

Another quarterly 40 X 40 status update.

1. Lose 70 pounds.
- Backsliding bad! Must focus. Watch what you eat. Walk every day.

9. Read 40 books I've never read before.
- I've done lots of reading lately. I even read a couple of books that I'd read previously... but they're not on the list.
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
  14. Ten Big Ones - Janet Evanovich
  15. Twelve Sharp - Janet Evanovich
  16. Fearless Fourteen - Janet Evanovich
  17. To the Nines - Janet Evanovich
  18. 8th Confession - James Patterson

21. Get a passport...
- Okay, I still haven't done anything with the paperwork for this one. But I'm motivated now. I'm going on a cruise to the Bahamas in February with my cousin and a couple of her co-workers/friends. WooHoo!

22. ...and use it.
- See #21 above! Did I mention, a cruise... to the Bahamas! My first one! WooHoo!

25. Touch an ocean.
- See #21 and #22 above! Surely I'll get the opportunity to touch an ocean during one of our two port calls, Nassau and Freeport.

35. Attend all local book signings.
- I haven't read about any local book signings. But I took part in an online auction where I bid on a book directly from the author. She's going to sign it and send it to me. So far, that's the closest I've come to a local book signing. I'm excited to read the book too.

40. Go sailing for a day.
- uhhh, see #21, #22, and #25 above! It's not exactly what I meant by sailing. But hey, just might fit the bill.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Practically perfect in every way!

First, I survived my one-day-of-the-year car-hopping stint. And it actually went pretty well. The restaurant purchased a new computer/cash register. So, I didn't have to copy prices off the menu board and figure up my own tax. That was GREAT! And we had someone behind the counter all day entering things into the computer/cash register, making drinks, AND ice cream. THAT was GREAT! AND it didn't rain! There was supposedly a 70% chance of thundershowers. I thought for sure I'd be soaking wet in the first hour. But nope! Not a drop. It was a gorgeous day! THAT was great too!

I'm not sure how much we made. We left all of our tips at the restaurant. They're going into the pot with the night shift and then we're just splitting everything 50/50. So, I'll know after 10pm. I think we did pretty well though. And Jeff? He was SUCH a God-send. He wasn't all that excited when we first got started. But he warmed up to the idea and was a HUGE help. Thank God for Jeff!

After car-hopping for six hours, I sang at mass. That went well. I'm glad for that too. I never want to be a distraction while singing at mass.

Then I went to Grand March. I really wish Jeff would have gone to prom. Of course, he probably wouldn't have helped me today if he had planned to go to prom. But still. He's never been. And I think he would have enjoyed the experience. But the girl he wanted to take wasn't allowed to go. Too young. He didn't want to go with anyone else. So, he didn't. He didn't even go to Grand March to see his friends. He took a nap after car-hopping all day. He plans to go to Post Prom though.

But my point is, already once this evening, he's mentioned that he wishes he would have gone. I'm like, "no kidding, me too." I just feel like I'm missing out on so many experiences with Jeff because he chooses not to take part... like his going back and forth between walking at graduation or not. OF COURSE YOU SHOULD, if I had my way. But he's not going to do it for me. He has to want to do it for him. And honestly, there's no telling until about an hour before the event. Ugh! This kid, I swear!

Anyway, back to prom. I saw lots of shiny, shiny dresses and shoes. I saw animal prints! I saw several girls who appeared to be wearing high heels for the first time in their lives. (What were THEY thinking?!) I saw LOTS of curls! I saw LOTS of guys wearing shades. I saw some GORGEOUS dresses and some not-so-attractive dresses. And I saw one of Jeff's close friends crowned King. Congrats, Gage!

Now my day is all but done. I'm going to read a couple of hours out on the front porch with Linus Felinus. It's absolutely gorgeous outside and I'm looking forward to it...except that all those kids are across the street. Hopefully that's not a huge distraction. THEN I'm going to bed WITHOUT setting an alarm clock.

What a day! As Mary Poppins would say, "Practically perfect in every way!"

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's May Day!

It's 11:24pm and I just realized that I haven't written a blog entry today. So, here I am. Typing my little fingers to the bone in a frenzy to get something published before midnight.

Okay, that's a big ole exaggeration. Not the forgetting part, but the stressing over getting something published part. My blog doesn't stress me out. Writing (and typing) are therapeutic for me.

I can sit and type for quite some time. I've typed random thoughts in my head. I've tried keeping up with dialog on television. I'm not fast enough for that. Normally, I'd rather type what I 'see' or what I 'feel' from the scene, as if I was writing it myself instead of simply interpretting it.

And anyone who knows me at all, knows that I'm never at a loss for words. So, I can pretty much come up with something or nothing and go on and on about it as long as I want. It's a gift.

Today is May Day. In a few other countries, that means more than it does in this one. But there's a huge May Day parade in Minneapolis that draws like 35,000 people. That's pretty impressive.

I read somewhere that one May Day tradition is to put together a basket of flowers and treats, leave it on someone's doorstep, knock or ring the bell, and then run away. The person on the other side of the door, the one you left the basket for, will then attempt to chase you down. If they catch you, you get to (have to) exchange a kiss.

I think I'd be pretty picky about whose door I dropped a basket in front of.