Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pay Attention

Those two words are very important. I am grateful that I get another chance to put them into practice.
It happened on Friday, the 23rd. My first day of vacation for Christmas.

I was listening to the radio and had a mini-celebration when I heard that all of the requests for help submitted to KSBJ had been met! Hundreds of families were getting food, necessities, and some toys for their kids from listeners of the radio station.

Realizing that I needed to fill my car's tank before getting any further in my trip, I pulled into a nearby gas station. Normally, I have a habit of cleaning my windshield and emptying my car of any trash while the gas is pumping. I busily began my routine, and ignored my surroundings. A bad idea when you're a lone female.

I didn't see the white van pull up next to my car. I didn't hear the doors open. I didn't notice the man approaching me. I don't own mace or a taser. My knife is in my other purse.

The gas had finished pumping and I decided to skip washing the windshield. With my back to the man slowly approaching me, I went through the routine of putting on the gas cap and saying "no" to the receipt option. It was while I was hitting that button that I heard him.

"Excuse me ma'am?" he drawled in an East Texas accent. Surprised at hearing a voice so close to me, the hair on the back of my neck shot up. I whirled around to face him.

Enjoying the look of shock on my face, he looked at me with ice blue eyes and a smirk and said, "Could you help me?" I couldn't see any proof of his need for help. Something about him made me want to shudder. Staying very still, I maintained eye contact. In that split second, I had several different escape scenarios race through my mind. As half of those included me flying, I felt a bit of despair.

Thankful that my car was between us, I heard myself calmly, but firmly state: "I'm sorry. No!" Then I opened my car door and hurriedly jumped into the seat, shutting the door and hitting the lock button. I couldn't believe how calm my voice sounded when I wanted to cower- believe me when I tell you, God spoke through me. He protected me- I'm not sure what from. Maybe the man really did need help?

I then noticed the other man by the van, watching me. In an adrenaline rush I tried to start my car only to find the keys missing. Before I got to the point of sheer panic, I reached into my pocket and found them. Starting the car, I pulled out of that gas station as fast as I could!

What is a lone female to do when strangers ask for help? Would you have asked the man what he wanted? I confess, I don't feel any guilt about getting out of that situation as fast as possible. My heart still races a bit when I think about it.

If I had found out what the man wanted, perhaps I could've directed him to KSBJ? They helped hundreds in only a couple of weeks! They wouldn't have minded another need or two to fill. Maybe I should carry around business cards with important phone numbers for people in need (shelters, lawyers, food banks, etc.)?

And where do you buy mace? Not that I'm positive I could use it correctly...I'd probably spray myself in the face instead of an attacker...

My advice ladies: PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings when you are doing something as ordinary as filling up your car. That gas station was one of the two I always I'm extremely nervous to ever go near it again. I got so used to the station that I didn't remember that while the building doesn't change, the people around it do.

I knew I should've taken Self Defense instead of Ultimate Frisbee as my kineseology class...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Great-Aunt Mary's Coffee Cake

This is a special family recipe that we've eaten every year for Christmas breakfast. :) Just thought I'd share!

Great-Aunt Mary's Coffee Cake

Serves 10


2 pkg dry yeast (1 pkg= 1 Tbsp)
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. scalded milk
1/4 c. warm water
1 tsp cardamom
1 egg
2/3 c. butter
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2- 4 c. flour


2/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon


1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water (or milk)


Soften the yeast in the warm water.
In a separate bowl mix butter, sugar, cardamom, salt and hot scalded milk. Cool to room temperature.
Add egg, yeast and beat thoroughly while slowly adding 2 1/2 c. of flour. (The rest of the flour is for powdering the surface and your hands while you knead the dough.)

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn to coat the whole ball of dough. Cover bowl with dishtowel and place in a warm, dry place until doubled in size.

When doubled, knead the dough and roll out into a 10x24 inch rectangle. Spread with melted butter and sprinkle with the filling mixture. Roll the dough lengthwise like a jelly roll and then form a ring. Place on a greased cookie sheet, spread with melted butter, and cover it again until it's doubled in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
Spread with the glaze.
Eat! :)

We sometimes make this without the cardamom, but it's great either way. I wish I had a picture of it...but we usually eat it too fast to remember pictures.

Enjoy! (And if you do make it, tell me what you think!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

6 Desktop Necessities

As I prepare to leave the office for 10 days, I realized that there are a few things on my desk that I consider highly important. I thought I'd share them with you:

1) My planner. Now, I have already been laughed at and teased about my Franklin Covey Monarch Planner (each day gets two whole letter-size pages!)...I might down-grade to a smaller size once I finish this one. For now, the planner is split into 6 month sections: Jul-Dec & Jan-Jun in two separate 2-inch binders! I admit it's rather bulky. BUT, I don't lack room to write anything. I really love having it! Plus, who could do without the daily inspirational quotes? Like today's: "I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that." -Lauren Bacall. Not sure who she is, and I don't really need to hear that quote, but it's nice, right?

2) Pencils. Yes. I know. Most adults use pens for everything, but I prefer pencils. Unless it's a legal document or my signature, I use pencils! They are easier to write with, and since I'm a lefty, I don't get ink smudges on my hand- just pencil dust.

3) Sticky notes. I am a HUGE fan. They stay put if I need to scribble a message while I'm on the phone. They stick to the edge of my computer screen so I can remember tasks, phone numbers, etc. They stick to paper when I need to mark certain pages with questions or thoughts- without marring the original paper! I could go on and on. In fact, they inspired this post- but I thought I would spare you (and not sound like a crazed addict) by mentioning other things on my desk, too.

4) Uniball Signo Pens. I know that I prefer pencils, but if I'm going to use a pen- this is it, THE pen! So smooth. They're a bit price-y, but since one of the other ladies in the office wanted some, I ordered two small packs (blue & black) and gave myself one of each color. I'm quite happy with them. I don't think the 300 regular pens we ordered for our banquet last month will ever see the light of day again...

5) Tissues. Can you believe that tissues were hard to come by in this office, when I started? No more. Let them eat a tissue box! (Ew, right? Reminds me of those cotton wads the orthodontist used. *shudder*) Ok, I'll quit kidding around, but seriously- tissues are pretty important. They are great make-shift napkins. Or sweat rags... The first time I got to go purchase supplies for the building, I got a pack of tissue boxes and distributed them in the offices. "Wow! I don't think I've ever gotten tissues before..." my boss stated when I handed him a box. I know he was genuinely grateful...

6) First Aid Kit. You can stop laughing now. Some of my friends seem to think I get hurt a lot. I don't know where they get these ideas... They didn't have a first aid kit when I started working here. We noticed the lack of first aid kit the day I needed a bandaid. :) I got one the next day and stocked up on extra bandaids, neosporin, and hydrogen peroxide- they never put enough of those 3 items in a first aid kit. Why do I know that?

There you have it. Those are my top 6 indispensible desk items. I might miss them over the Christmas break...especially the sticky notes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some Christmas Traditions

Well, here we are. Five days until Christmas!! I LOVE this time of year. Decorating, baking, parties with family and friends, the music, buying and wrapping gifts, sitting in front of the fireplace...yes, occasionally we need to use the fireplace in Texas...:)

I don't remember too much about Santa being a part of our family tradition. I have no idea when I stopped believing in him. I do remember staring out the window for signs of a sleigh, at the age of four, on Christmas Eve in Guam -long after I was supposed to be asleep. One thing's for sure, the year I was 15 and Mom wrote "From: Santa" on all the gifts...I really didn't buy it.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas traditions:
-Advent- we carefully light the candles (one new candle each Sunday before Christmas) and read through the prophecies of Jesus' coming, sing Christmas carols, and pray together. That I remember doing since I was very young.

-Putting up the tree- we have an artificial tree. It has traveled all over with us and was a tiny piece of consistency amidst the chaos of adjusting to new homes and bedrooms as we served in the military. Thankfully, we no longer fight over who gets to put the (sad-looking) vintage crocheted angel on the top of our tree. The top bristles on the tree are permanently smashed down due to that angel. Colored lights are the only kind used on the tree and we still have some old ornaments from when we were babies- though we act embarrassed and try to hid them on the least visible side of the tree.

One year, I remember we tried a live tree. The needles kept falling and getting tracked all over the house by my sisters and I- it drove our Mom, crazy. The thing that ended live trees for our family? It fell and just missed hitting my little sister. It could have killed her. So, our trusty, old artificial tree (still in the original box with about 3 inches of tape holding it together) gets to grace our house every December.

-Stockings- Several places we lived did NOT have fireplaces or mantles...bookshelves or pegs on the wall sufficed. My Mom handmade all of our stockings-except for Sally's. She was born at a busy time in my Mom's life (3 other young daughters to care for and my Dad constantly on aircraft carriers), so my Mom bought a beautiful white lace stocking. And years later, cross-stitched a pretty angel which was then safety-pinned onto the stocking. It remains that way today. The rule for stockings? They can be opened on Christmas morning without waking the parents. Though that has morphed some. When Sally and Becca were younger, they got the brilliant idea that midnight= Christmas morning. They would shove Abby and I out of our beds to join them in gloating over our plunder...after a year or two, they eventually gave up and let us sleep. Stockings usually contained candy and gum, along with whatever other cute small items my Mom and Dad found.

Do you hold advent with your family? Or did you ever? Are you a real or "fake" tree, person?
Did/ does your family have any special traditions? I want to know! Sometimes hearing other people's traditions gives me ideas!

One year, some people told my parents that they made their kids do a puzzle before they were allowed to wake the parents tried it. I'm pretty sure they got to sleep in and found us toiling over that puzzle on the floor near the tree that Christmas. We veto-ed that tradition. But it was worth a shot! I might even try it someday if I ever have my own kids (and need sleep!) :)

I hope that you are treasuring this week and getting to spend it with loved ones!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Week in the Life of a Shopaholic

I confess: I LOVE to buy things for people. Don't get me wrong, I buy myself plenty of stuff too, (proof below!)...but I can't help loving to give gifts. It's one of my spiritual gifts.

Hang on there...I'm not about to buy all my readers Christmas gifts or anything...though that'd be nice, wouldn't it? What would I even get you?

My family decided not to give gifts this year...but I found myself on the phone with the Kalifano jewelers in California on Tuesday...buying some gifts for my Mom, Dad, 3 sisters, Grandad, and 3 of my girl cousins...sigh* oh and one for myself too... (Once you look at that website you might think I'm made of money...I'm not. I just happened to know that one of those items was priced at $7 & it is so close to a necklace my Granny C used to wear! That memory alone had me racing for the phone. Originally I was going to buy just 5, but the company needed my money, you know? And, Tiffany had the most cheerful voice over the phone, so my order went from 5 to 10 items in 2 minutes flat.

Then I dropped by my neighbor's bookstore on my way home from work and left with $85 worth of gifts...and 3 books for me. Some of the items were completely practical!

Wednesday, Amazon sent me a special e-mail. They knew I'd been checking out those Kitchenaid Mixers...scary how marketing works these days, huh? I use my Mom's all the time, but I'm moving out soon and NEED one. (Well, not really. Ok. Fine. I don't NEED one. I just want one. Very, very badly.) Well there was this special sale on Amazon- complete with free shipping AND an additional $30 rebate after purchase...

They shipped mine out today. Should get here on Tuesday. :) But you'd be proud of me. I saved $210 by not buying the color I really wanted: brushed nickel. (I've been drooling over that color since I saw it at Macy's last Christmas...) Instead I went with gray. Simple. Elegant. I'm going to gain 10 more pounds baking with that thing next year, I can feel it starting already! Good thing I rescued that exercise bike from the dumpster this Fall...

And then, yesterday there was the special from'd never even heard of them before, but I have a ring shipping to my place this next week after a $20 off coupon and free shipping...I tell ya, the coupons and "free shipping" just scream for attention.

And this weekend? Well, wouldn't you know? We're having a special small Grace staff holiday party and meeting on Monday- complete with a $10-20 White Elephant exchange. I don't know what to get yet, but don't you worry! I won't have any problems buying something.

When I picked up the mail for the office today, there's a small magazine from James Avery jewelers...I have it leaning next to my computer screen, silently calling my name...

NOTE: Just because I've been on a spree this paycheck, I would like to point out that it is December. And this week's spending is only possible because I didn't shop last week. That's right. I'm justifying myself. Or is it denial?

I think I'll go buy a goat now from the World Vision Gift Catalog ( for a family overseas...

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Do you like my new blog design? It's highly simplistic and is most likely temporary- consider it seasonal if you will.

I've been wanting to update my blog since summer started, but my new job has kept me busy. Now that it is waning down (for 2 days maybe...before all the end of the year financial receipts begin!) I thought I'd steal this quick moment and re-design my blog. So, please tell me: does it look ok?

I've added a Pinterest button to my account! I wanted to share what sparks my imagination, but I'm trying to be uber-picky and not flood the pinboards. To date, I have only 85 pins. I think that's a modest number, considering I've been a member for several months.

Also, I've linked my top 10 blogs to the left! :) Of course, that's submitting competition...why should I give you another amazing blogger to follow? I already follow about 50-60 blogs myself. Sporadically, I confess- there's not enough time to read everybody's amazing posts!

I have a love-hate relationship with my Google Reader right now: LOVE- that I can read so many posts by simply scrolling down, HATE that I get lazy and don't visit each blog to see their beautiful styles (the thing that drew me to many of them in the first place.)

I think I'll go catch up on some more blogs now. Only...454 unread posts left on my reader...(it was 791 on Monday!)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bubbles to Kodiak

My Mom grew up in Brazil with all these amazing pets: parrots, monkeys, dogs, cats, chickens, an ocelot, even a sloth!, but for some reason she didn't appreciate them.

My Dad grew up in Mississippi and Arkansas on farms and in small towns. He had dogs, cats, a raccoon, a rabbit (this is up for debate), and even a fawn!

So, what was your first pet, Hannah? A goldfish named Bubbles. You know what? I found out a couple weeks ago that they didn't even buy Bubbles...he was a giveaway from another military family that moved away. Somehow my Dad talked my Mom into keeping it.

I remember Bubbles. I was about 3 years old and I liked watching that fish. I got to help feed him. Once, I decided to do it on my own and fed him a special breakfast- so he'd grow up to be big and strong like my Daddy. I poured a whole box of Wheaties cereal into that bowl... Somehow, my Dad saved Bubbles (who could barely wiggle in all those flakes)!

When I was 7, my Dad told me that I could get a fish if I followed a careful regime of chores, homework, and going to bed on time. I did it and we headed to the pet store. I chose a beautiful calico fish (I now know it was a Koi- one of those giant pond fish). This Koi was small, and we placed it in the fish bowl that had belonged to Bubbles (4 years and two moves ago).* I named it Penny.

Again, I earned another fish and we went back to the store, this time I picked a betta. Did we put it in the same bowl with poor Penny? Yes we did. Penny sat at the bottom of the bowl, right in the middle, and rarely ever moved. Jewel, my teal-colored betta danced and waltzed around her for the rest of her short life. I think she lasted a couple of months.**

After that, I became obsessed with the idea of a tank with more than just one fish. I'd visit friends who'd have them and envy them their tiny boxes of water-worlds. I checked out every book in the library that had anything to do with fish tanks, just to see the pictures -this is pre-Google image searches.

My first ever research paper? About fish tanks and their maintenance.

On my 11th birthday I had a present that was shaped like one of those 5 gal cylinder fish tanks. It was wrapped in newspaper. I couldn't focus on my schoolwork that day, all I could think about was that present. Finally, that night I tore into wasn't a fish tank. It was a sleeping bag- you know, that thing on every young girl's birthday wish list? sigh.

I got my first official tank at age 18. Some people I used to babysit for decided they didn't want it anymore (they were going to get a dog), and gave it to my family. My parents wouldn't let me set it up at home, but I had a plan. I got a job at a tiny dry cleaners outlet. I worked there a few hours every weekday and all day Saturday...they let me set it up to decorate the shop. Every Saturday I'd clean it. I was thrilled! I got the other manager involved- we went to the pet shop together and chose the fish- this time I had years of research and knew just what we should get. :) When I left the job, the manager bought her own tank and kept the fish.

My neighbor, a fish hobbyist had over 160 tanks! When I would come home during the summer I'd work for him, cleaning the tanks, watching the house and plants when they'd go on kayaking trips, and carefully separating tiny babies from the parents who might eat them. Have you ever seen an angel fish smaller than a dime? Or a killifish freshly hatched- so small you almost need a magnifying glass to see it? It's a miraculous thing- and very cute!

Lately, I have only been keeping bettas. One or two...sometimes none.
I had two this summer. Bombay and Herman. About 3 weeks ago, Herman died and so I went to the pet store the next day to replace him...and left with 3 bettas and a new 2.5 gal betta desk tank. Indecision is just tough, isn't it?

That day got harder when I noticed that the divider in the betta tank allowed my bettas to lock jaws...and even their beautiful fins would slip through so that the other could rip at them. This was bad! On my lunch break I went back to the store for some sort of short-term solution...and ended up buying another tank...which meant I needed fish for the 2.5 I bought two tiny angels and a pleco.

Problem solved? No. The angels were miserable- they're just so delicate! So I had to go back and get gouramis...they're my favorite fish anyway.

Now we were settled. Bombay and Kodiak (a stunning white/clear betta) stayed home, and Yul*** and Tide were at the office. All went well the first weekend.

However, on the 2nd weekend, I was horrified to find both of my bettas on the same side of the tank...and they looked dead. I was upset. My boss and coworker held a sudden meeting in my office that afternoon and commented on the "corpses" and how at least they were now "swimming with the fishes..." It's funny now...

Later in the day, Yul mysteriously came to life, but Tide was gone. Furious with Yul, I re-named him Killer. He was only $4...Tide had been $14! I took Tide's body to the pet store and explained how the one betta had somehow jumped the divider. The employees were shocked but thankfully believed me. They returned my money and asked if I wanted a new one.

No. No I did not. Killer wasn't going to get another shot at a new, helpless betta! Besides, I was leaving town in two days...I'd replace him after Thanksgiving...maybe...

Killer was dead when we returned from our Thanksgiving trip, and Bombay who has been looking sickly for the last couple of weeks died this afternoon.

I'm down to just Kodiak and the tank with my gouramis. Good thing the betta shipment arrives at the pet store in the morning!

*For those of you who are fish fanatics, I'm sorry! My Dad didn't know it was inhumane to stuff a koi in a fishbowl.

** I claim exemption from judgement here- especially since I was 7. I didn't know bettas liked to be alone! Obviously, my Dad didn't ask the pet store employees...

***Named for Yul Brennar- we watched The King And I that evening...inspiration, how randomly you come to me...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It was very rainy this morning. I listened to the beautiful sound, reset my alarm clock for another hour and went back to sleep.

A few hours later I was at the office going through e-mails and getting ready to deliver some packages and pick up the mail. I had a lunch date with my sister, Abby, at noon and when I saw a missed call from her around 11am I sighed. I hoped she wasn't canceling, because I was looking forward to trying out the Italian restaurant and the rare opportunity of lunch with her on a weekday.

Picking up my cell I called her back. "Hey, you called?"

"Oh good! Yes. We are almost here at Memorial Hermann." Abby has two modes during stressful times, 1) Panic, most common 2) over-the-top calm. She had on the fake calm voice- I knew she was trying to prepare me for something. That's the kind of voice she used a few years ago when we were told our dog was dying...thankfully the vet was wrong that time. :)

Wondering what she was talking about and who could be at the hospital I prodded her. "Why are you at the hospital? What's going on?"

"Well, Mom has been checked into the hospital..." her voice faded out as my mind kicked into gear.
Mom and Sally were supposed to have gone to the community college to register for courses at 8am. This meant that maybe something had happened- a car wreck?

"What happened?" I asked, unsure if she had said or not.
"Well, Mom is having heart pain and the doctors have been doing blood-work. They've got her hooked up to an EKG and in a room..." again I missed what she was saying.

"We're here, I'll let you know what room she's in in a minute, ok?" Abby's calm adult voice irritated me. I didn't want to be an adult today. I feel like we're playing pretend when we act like adults, if that makes any sense. Perhaps because I spent my whole life once she was born playing house, mermaids, sharks, foxes, safari hunters, Steve Irwin, etc, etc, etc. We had very active imaginations. :)

My boss had walked into my office and sat in my spare chair as I wrapped up my conversation with Abby. Once I hung up I blurted: "My Mom's in the hospital I need to go, is there anything you need me to do before I leave?" "Um, no." he said. "No, I don't need anything." "Ok" I said.

I looked at the packages that needed to be delivered and thought about the mail that needed to be picked up. As I type this, I realize that I forgot to give the ladies my mail key...drat! Bonnie was able to take care of the high priority tasks for me and so I ducked out of the office and drove the 5 minute drive to the hospital- probably the closest I'll ever be to a hospital during an emergency. Thank you, God, for the short drive!

I got lost in the hospital and eventually reached my Dad by phone- he gave me the room number and told me to ask the front desk where the right elevators were. I did and eventually appeared on the 3rd floor where my sister found me and took me to the room. Mom looked exhausted but otherwise well. She was in a hospital bed and I had that feeling that it wasn't real. It couldn't be. My Mom, in the hospital?

It was a long day. Longest for my Mom.
Around 3:30pm I left the hospital with my youngest sister to pick up some stuff from the office that I needed before Thanksgiving. We were able to thank the ladies in the office for their help and prayers and then rushed home. At 4:30pm my Mom finally walked in the door. She'd been in the hospital since about 3am- 13 hours.

I know what you're thinking: "How did you not know your Mom was in the hospital for 8 hours?!"
It does sound bad.

Well, all of that and the rest of the story are explained my my e-mail to my co-workers, posted here:

Dear Grace Team,

Thank you for your patience with me as I disappeared this morning. I cannot tell you enough how humbly grateful I am to get to work with you all! It is such a blessing to me!

My Mom spent 13 hours in the hospital so they could monitor her heart and blood pressure. She's had a swollen foot since March and because of that, a pain management doctor has been trying different meds to see which one will take away the swelling, etc.  They still don't know what's wrong with her foot.

One of her meds ran out 12 days ago and the doctor hasn't been available to answer his phone or anything. At 3am she was unable to sleep because of sharp chest pain and woke up my Dad to let him know she'd be heading to the ER. My poor Dad was so out of it that after asking if she needed him to take her and her refusal, he dropped back to sleep. He slept in today and around 8am headed out the door. Abby and I thought he was headed to work- he didn't tell us what was happening. Mom and Sally were supposed to be gone by 7:30am to register Sally for Spring classes at Lonestar and since that car was also missing (and we didn't see Sally- who slept in) we assumed all was well.

At 10am my Dad came home and got Abby and Sally because things looked serious and she was checked into a room. They were planning much more blood-work and tests. Her blood pressure levels were very bad 3 different times during the day. They called me around 10:50 and within 10 minutes I had given Bonnie and Tameka the high priority tasks and run out the door. We spent most of the afternoon waiting on a doctor. Apparently the one who was supposed to be there didn't let his back-up know that he wouldn't be able to make it and so we heard "just a few more minutes" for hours. My poor Mom had been not allowed to even drink water in all this time because they were waiting to run the tests so at 2pm I went and asked what the news was. The nurse told me she'd try to reach the doctor again and would know everything "in a few minutes". I knew it wasn't her fault so I went back to the room. At 3pm I went back again, she called and then told me she'd call them back in 10 minutes. By this time I was ready to have her hand me that phone, my Mom was uncomfortable and where was the doctor? I went quietly back to the room though. Amazingly, 10 minutes later the nurse came into the room with a shocked look on her face: "I told them that I needed the doctor's cell phone number immediately and they gave it to me!" She sounded shocked and pleased and told us the doctor would be in soon. 15 minutes later he was there- extremely apologetic since he didn't know that he was supposed to be in. He went through the charts and, on my Mom's begging to be allowed to head to Arkansas for Thanksgiving tomorrow, he agreed that she could- if she took the new meds he prescribed her. Hooray for quiet persistence and prayers!

She came home around 4:30pm and crashed. Now she's up packing and we're taking turns babysitting her and begging her to take it easy- it's not my turn so I'm typing this.

Her funny moment of the day: Before my Dad got back with my sisters, my Mom grew impatient and decided she'd get up and ask the nurses in the hall if they knew when the doctor would be in. The nurses told her soon and slapped a neon yellow "Fall Risk" bracelet on her arm before steering her back to the hospital bed. After getting over the frustration my Mom cracked up and acted sarcastically proud of the thing when we arrived. :)

We're headed up tomorrow to Arkansas and coming back Saturday. Please pray that we'll travel safely and God will protect us!

Thank you again for all of your graciousness and empathy today. I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and will see you all on Monday!



  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Early Thanks

I know that it's not Thanksgiving yet...but with everybody already decorating for Christmas and the lack of time I may have later perhaps you'll indulge me...:)

Today I am grateful for so many things:

1) The GSOT Fundraising Banquet went well and I had my CityLife Team and most of my family there for moral support (even though I barely got to say anything to them and never was able to eat the salad...another story, another day...)

2) My sweet friend, Casey Bell. She and I were up until 2am baking, doing Bible study, and watching an old Esther Williams movie while knitting.*

3) My CityLife Team...we have spent the last 7 months sporadically exploring Houston, studying what life is supposed to look like after college, doing Bible study, paintball, kayaking, black & white movies in the park, etc. I love them.

4) My job. I visited both of the nurseries (garden centers) downtown today after my CityLife meeting where I spent my first year after college. I have to admit, I was missing some of the aspects of that job: being outdoors all day, talking with different people all the time, doing light garden design...and of course my coworkers and bosses. I spent an hour at each place visiting, listening, getting hugged to death, and came close to tears. However, the gossip they wanted to share poured forth and I remembered that I LOVE working at the seminary and avoiding all of that. It was a good reminder for me to be especially thankful for where God has placed me.

* I'm a terrible knitter...and actually I'm crocheting a scarf right now which may be done by the time I have gray hair...though I think the color would clash with gray hair...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Getting Back in the Game of Life

I stared at the tiny pink game piece: a little woman from the game of Life. How had it gotten here on the floor of my room?

My thoughts were distracted. I was feeling sad and lonely. Stupid facebook showed so many of my friends enjoying only served to rub-in the loneliness I was feeling. I felt unneeded and unwanted. Life after college was completely different from what I had expected. I wanted friends...friends to pursue me. To choose me. To send the first text message, e-mail, post on facebook, or make the first phone call.

Some of this loneliness can be applied to the fact that I don't have a church family at the moment. I don't feel like I fit in at my parent's church and while I have tried some new churches, it's nerve-racking to venture into a new building where I know no one. But you know, it is when I reach these moments of utter despair that God reminds me, He's there.

Sometimes, for the greater good, He allows people to forget that I exist in order to leave me no options but Himself.
Does this work? Not always right away. Sometimes I ignore Him with a frustrated sigh. There are other times when I feel like I've been smacked with the "Obvious" stick and apologize to Him, remind myself of my life's purpose and move on.

The tiny woman from the game of Life reminded me of myself. Detached from the reality of Life...alone, forgotten. How did she get on my floor? How did I get where I am? Why can't I be the "perfect Christian" that I want to be? Jesus never promised easy street, that's for sure. It has been recommended to me that I create a "life statement" or "goal" about why I'm here and what I should be focused on each day. Here goes: (this is subject to editing as I continue to grow in Christ)

'I, Hannah, a dim reflection of Christ, do solemnly swear to love those that God places in my life through: excellent work, pursuing friendships, engaging in ministry opportunities and investing in a deep love-relationship with my Savior on a daily, hourly, even minutely basis. All of this so that I may be ready in season and out to share with others the wonderful news of Christ and His great passion for every single person.'

Still needs some work, but I'll start there. I probably should go place that little pink woman back in the box of Life so she too can continue to fulfill her purpose...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite...

I spent most of my college career living in the dorms. It was cheaper, simpler, and a pre-furnished living space. One year though, I decided to get an apartment with one of my best friends. We lived in this place just north of the campus and most of our neighbors were grad students from India.

We were pretty excited about decorating our place and had friends over every week- especially on the weekends for game night. We were so serious about offering teas and coffee that I had bought a 30-pack of silver spoons from Sam's Club just so we wouldn't have to fill the world with plastic. :)

We noticed one night that Sallie was getting bit by something. After a few days we realized it must be coming from somewhere in the apartment because, I too had a couple of bites. We couldn't hear or see any mosquitos...that was the only thing that could be causing this problem, right?

One night, as I was reading on my bed, I noticed something small race across my pillow towards me!!!

Flying off the bed, I landed facing it and peered at the tiny, brown speck on my pillow. Grabbing my frisbee and entomology textbook (how ironic...) I swept the thing onto the underside of the frisbee. Not having any Raid handy, I grabbed the Lysol can and sprayed the unidentified speck dead.

The murder overwith, I studied the little bug. I'd never seen anything like it before. Hmm...what in the world could it be?? I opened my textbook and began flipping through the pictures and drawings of different insects and then IT HIT ME.

This thing came from my bed! What if there really were such things as bed bugs??? I'd heard of those mythical creatures before, but had no idea what they looked like and had doubted their existence. I mean, someone just made up a cute saying: "Good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed bugs bite!", right? It was just a saying!

With an ominous feeling I turned back to the glossary and searched under the "B". There it was: Bed Bugs. Frantically, I flipped to the page but it was just words. I read...about three different types of bed bugs. Then I turned the page...There, the largest of the three pencil drawings, was the exact same bug as the dead one on my frisbee!!! The world ended.

I quickly hollered to, Sallie: We have a problem!!

Did we ever have a problem. Google was our best friend. We poured over articles about how to get rid of bed bugs and looked at each other in dismay! Cups of a special oil placed under the "feet" of our beds, special mattress and pillow covers, washing everything in hot water and vacuuming what couldn't be washed...

***Did you know a bed bug can live 90 days in a sealed container??? That's how they get takes FOREVER for them to die!

After a trip to Walmart (in which we bought most of the giant black trash bags they carried and each got a different colored duct tape to seal them: purple for Sallie, teal for me...we made a pit stop at Starbucks. It was now 11:30pm. It was the only all nighter my friend Sallie pulled in college. (I took a nap...)

My mom was kind enough to come for a day-trip and sit in the Washateria with me while we washed every piece of fabric we owned and cleaned the apartment from head to toe.

***Did you know that bed bugs make three bites at a time? If you have itching bites and they are in groupings of afraid.

Turns out, someone in the apartment on our right (a bachelor pad of four Indian guys) had brought the bed bugs back over the break. The apartment owner paid to spray their apartment, but did they warn the apartments on either side about what had happened or spray them just in case? NO. So the bugs had migrated through the wall into our place. We warned the neighbor on our left and heard the vacuum cleaner going for hours...

That said, I was the ONLY one in my ento lab that semester to have bed bugs in my bug collection! I even caught a couple of the babies-which are practically invisible because they are a mix between white and clear!

So, sleep tight my friends and don't EVER let bed bugs bite...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grasshopper Girl

Entomology 201.
I'd looked forward to this class and expected an A before I even began.

You see, I've been catching and identifying bugs since before I could walk...example for proof? Ok, here:

Me- one year old, crawling around on the kitchen floor.
Mom- on the telephone.
Me- I find a cricket on the floor.
Mom- still on the phone.
Me- I use my highly tuned sense of taste to identify the bug.
Mom- mid-sentence spots me inserting cricket into my mouth and shrieks! Her baby is being contaminated!!! Phone call is ended.
Me- I experience my first "washing the mouth out with soap" routine.

There. Proof. -Though I don't use the "tasting" method to identify bugs anymore...I still chase down things that move to get a better look. My top two favorite bugs? 1) Praying Mantis & 2) Mole Crickets.

So, there I was my junior year of college, enrolled in Ento 201. My favorite part? The lab. We watched this incredible BBC series on insects and I didn't care that the first two labs went overtime...I was fascinated. Other girls were squirming in their seats, guys were trying to make it worse with their comments- but I had tuned them all out.

Naturally I was very excited about the following week's lab. If the last two were so spectacular who knew what the next week would hold? Sure the cases of pinned bugs that adorned the walls gave me the creeps- I didn't enjoy looking at dead things on display. And the smell? Well it wasn't pleasant- hundreds of dead bugs soaked in chemicals that had both killed them and continued to preserve them... *still makes me shudder to think about it.*

The following week, as I talked with the people sitting around me in lab and we waited for our instructor, I noticed a screen carrier with some beautiful, live, orange and white grasshoppers. I'd never seen any so colorful before. In walked our TA (teacher's assistant/ aide) and he began handing out sheets of paper with diagrams of the insides of grasshoppers on them. No big deal- pencil drawings and labeling the insects- child's play.

Then he said what our project was going to be for the day: dissecting a grasshopper. The same beautiful ones I'd been admiring minutes earlier. They were destined to die. I felt sick. I'd never dissected anything before and had realized early on that I had no desire to partake of that practice (otherwise I would've been a vet).

I didn't feel very well and was terrified about this whole idea...the group around me began to notice.
"You look really pale." the girl next to me commented.
"Aw, she'll be fine." the guy behind me pronounced.
"Sure! All you need to do is breathe, ok? Count between breaths it'll help." the guy in front of me coached.

Is it hot in here? Why can't I breathe? Will he just stop talking about breathing?! -my mind was beginning to race.

The "breathing" guy continued, "Look, breathe in....breathe out. You can do this! Are you breathing?"

No! No I'm not breathing. My throat is closing up! -But I couldn't say anything.

"Ok lets divide into groups of 6." said the TA. I had the three who'd been talking to me plus another guy and girl. "Now, send one of your members to catch a grasshopper from the bucket."
The tall guy who'd insisted I'd be fine, caught one of the lovely creatures and brought it back to the table.

I stared at it with a mixture of sorrow and horror. Thoughts of grabbing the bucket of grasshoppers and running from the building to set them free crossed my mind...

"Haha, look at the little guy." "You're about to die, buddy!" "Ew, don't hold that thing close to me!" and other such comments flew around my head. I really couldn't breathe well at all and suddenly was blind. Why was the world blurry?

"Now, I want one of you to pull the grasshopper's head off quickly and cleanly so we can study it's insides..." the TA's voice began to fade.

Pull off it's head?!?! I thought. Of course I could barely see, but the idea was enough to make me sick.

"Whoa, are you ok?" my entire group was focused on me. The grasshopper, was peeking over the one guy's thumb at me- I could just see it's cute head and antennae. I suddenly realized a wet sensation on my face and realized I could see between blinks. I'd never hyperventilated like this before- I realize that's what it was now. At the moment, the fact that I couldn't breathe or see was causing me to panic.

"Go!" my group urged me. "Hurry before we kill it." "The TA won't mind! Hurry!" "Leave NOW" the guy holding the grasshopper told me.

After 15 seconds of deliberation, I bolted across the lab room, through the hall, down the stairs, along the huge corridor, and outside. I paused for a moment to try and catch my breath before slipping around the corner of the building where I collapsed behind some shrubs and sobbed. For the grasshopper. For the thought of killing something by pulling it's head off. Because I was too tenderhearted for my own good. Because it was hard to breathe. Because I had to.

I called my mom and spoke with her and my sister for awhile in between sobs. Finally, after composing myself, I sent a text message to some friends- I don't remember if I was just sharing the moment or asked for prayer.

At last I headed back into the building and checked my face in the bathroom mirror to make sure I didn't look like I'd been crying. It was no use. My nose and eyes were red. Embarrassed I walked back up the stairs and waited in the hallway for the rest of my class to finish. I still needed to gather my things and was debating apologizing to the TA.

The class finished and began leaving. The looks of pity and curiosity I received made me shrink into the wall. My TA never commented on my "skipping" lab when I made my way back in to grab my stuff, so I didn't bring it up.

One of my lab partners called me "Grasshopper Girl" the following week and that nickname stuck until I graduated from A&M.

I did have to see grasshopper guts during the lab final and almost lost it, but I managed to finish that exam and haven't squished a bug since. Ok ok, I'll squish a mosquito with a tissue...but I have huge feelings of guilt to overcome each time. Cockroaches get flushed down the toilet and if they live, I'm come and kill them!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Choosing Joy- Gitzen Girl

This will be short.

Saw a post in my twitter feed about this- the funeral is currently happening. I was curious. Who was
Gitzen Girl?
Why were so many people sharing information about this woman from Cedar Falls, IA?
The fact that she had just died was news- how? What caused her to die?

I followed the link in that tweet. I found this page and from that page I clicked on another link that lead me to this page and by now I was hooked.

So I pulled up her blog and started back in May 2008 where she began to tell her story. To be honest I've only read the first 5 posts or so, but they've brought tears to my eyes- to read about someone who is no longer here...but was only days, even hours ago! It is interesting to me to read about a person's life- especially from their own viewpoint. She has a strong testimony.

Sara chose joy even though she lived in constant pain!
Choose joy as Sara did! (I say this to myself, as well.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shopping...with Men

I have no brothers and growing up, my dad usually had uniforms to wear so shopping for men's clothing is something I just really haven't done. Once I drove a friend to the mall to find a shirt and tie for a special program he was in, but I wasn't really any help and left him to his own devices while I looked at leather luggage across the way.

This weekend I had a fun experience and while I will not share names (to protect the innocent) I can't NOT share...

There were 7 of us: 2 couples, 2 men and me. We had just finished a light dinner and some great discussion at Panara's and headed next door into the mall. One of the couples had mentioned wanting to ice skate and the rest of us agreed to come watch and continue the conversation. However, I quickly realized that I was designated bag holder because the girls left me with their bags and both couples headed to the rink.

Oh well, I thought, I've got a comfy place to sit and two friends to talk with...

"Yes," one of the guys said. "Now I can go shopping and get some pants for work!"
"All right." the other guy said.
"Oh, sorry, Hannah..."

That did it. I was not going to stay alone with the bags and if the guy wanted to shop for pants, well then ok! I had an idea...I later learned from my sisters that they would NEVER have asked any guy to do this...I won't either after Friday night...

"If y'all help carry these bags we can go." I said.
*Short awkward moment of silence.*

"Oh come on, it'll be fine! Most of the stores are closed anyway." I said- truly I assumed they'd say no. (It was 9pm and most of the stores were closed.)

We'll call these guys: Tim and Bob just to make this story telling easier...those are NOT their real names though...

Tim inched toward the large bag...probably because it looked more like a bag than a purse- despite it's hot pink color.
Bob shrugged the denim purse onto his shoulder, and I grabbed my own leather bag. (Probably should've traded with one of them...)

We began walking the length of the mall looking at all the closing or closed stores and swapping "mall" stories.

At last we reached a large department store. Upon discovering they were open until 10pm the guys headed straight towards the back of the store with all the man stuff. Realizing that this was not my favorite situation I loitered in the main aisle and watched them discuss pants.

Bob spotted a 70% off display and began sorting through the hangers looking for something worthy.
Tim instructed Bob in the "no white pants after Labor Day" rule and I realized that even though I know that rule, I'd almost worn white jeans that night anyway...good thing I didn't.

Still sporting the denim purse on his shoulder, Bob caught a passing saleswomen: "Excuse me, where are the men's dressing rooms?" Eyeing the purse on his shoulder she pointed around the corner: "They're painted blue." she said and walked away with a funny expression.

It was all I could do to keep a straight face. I was standing off to the side a bit and managed to hide my smirk. Bob was very excited about two pairs of pants he'd found- one a blue pair of pajama pants that he repeatedly remarked: "are really soft! This is great!"
"And they're only $10" Tim piped in, "that's a good deal!"
"Great" I said.

Bob disappeared to go try them on, Tim continued browsing pants, and I moved into the tie section- I really like the colors and patterns they put into ties. Poor men. They make ties look so attractive to women, yet men hate wearing them...

Bob reappeared with Tim and seemed to be a tiny bit upset about something. Tim was obviously torn between cracking up and soothing ruffled man-feathers. My obvious look of curiousity somehow broke their reserve and Bob admitted that the pajama pants had been women's. I confess: I laughed. Hard.

"Aw man." Bob said "I've never worn women's clothing before!"

We returned from our shopping excursion to the ice skating rink and were shortly greeted by the couples. "Did y'all take the bags with you?!" they asked.

Instantly the two guys from the couples (we'll call them Mark and Dave) wanted to know: "How did you carry them?"
"Um, like this" Tim said and held the pink bag in his hand so that it was hanging over his shoulder and down his back."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk" remarked Dave. "Here," he reached for the pink bag, "this is how you should carry a purse," and he held the bag straight out from his side as if it were contaminated.
Mark felt obligated to pipe in: "OR, you should just not carry it at all. You know, carrying the bags is probably what made y'all want to go shopping in the first place."

Dave picked the purse back up and illustrated the "worst" way a guy could carry a purse: on the shoulder, like women do...just like Bob had.

Tim and I looked at each other and then at Bob who said, "Aw man!" and blushed a bit. The couples didn't notice- we three weren't going to say anything- why embarrass Bob more?

"If you start carrying bags like that," Mark said "you might even end up wearing women's clothes!"

This time it was much harder not to crack up. I looked at Bob who said, "Aw man!" smirked at Tim, and kept my mouth shut. Poor Bob.

I waited until I got home and then laughed with my sisters as I shared the story. :) It was an interesting experience...and I don't think I'll suggest any more of my men friends go shopping while carrying a purse- unless they have a lady with them and are obviously holding it for her.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lessons from Lucy

I love "I Love Lucy." She's just such a clown- an elegant clown.

The first time I remember seeing the show (re-runs, obviously...) I was seven. The tirading Cuban husband and her hilarious faces coupled with the outrageous situations she found herself in kept me entertained. Even now, I love to just sit and watch her sneak into Ricky's show, hide a new outfit, or gape at the movie stars in Hollywood (as if she wasn't one of them!)

However, watching Lucy can mess with the mind. Suddenly things seem possible that probably aren't.
My biggest memory of Lucy and how she got me into trouble goes something like this:

It was "move-in" week at A&M and I was a senior. I had gone "potluck" and met my new freshman roommate, Kristin, that afternoon. I was invited to a movie night in the next dorm and took her with me. Several people were new to me, but I knew a couple of the guys from Bible study. We watched an awful "classic": Robinhood, Men in Tights...waste of your life...

Anyway, we had just left the movie night and returned to our dorm room. As we were getting ready for bed I had a mini-project that I wanted to get done: fixing my purse.
I had bought this purse in Branson, MO at a dollar store and was quite fond of it. One of the metal chain links kept coming undone so I had purchased some super-glue that promised to hold metal together. Having to cheat and use scissors to get the little bottle open I managed to get the glue onto the chain. After applying some pressure I let go with a satisfied smile. Only it was hard to let go. I managed. Quickly running to the sink I began to rub my fingers under the running water...only all of a sudden they wouldn't rub...they were stuck!!

What did I think of in that moment? Lucy with Fred's fake beard stuck to her face. They had to go to Conneticut to get the glue remover! ACK! I was suddenly in a panic.

Trying to be brave in front of my freshman roommate I searched for my phone. My thumb and first two fingers were firmly glued together. Pinning the phone to the bed with one knee, I used my good hand to search through my contacts. It was nearing midnight...

Thankfully I knew that one of the guys from my Bible study might still be at the other dorm and he had a car! Also, he was studying chemical engineering and glue is a chemical, right??
Dialing his number I held the phone to my ear, silently mouthing: "pick up, pick up, please!"

"Hey Hannah," he said. Relief!
"Um, Serge," I didn't know how to sugarcoat it, "I glued my fingers together and they won't come apart!"
"I can't get my fingers unstuck! They're glued together!" Here the panic was escalating and I happened to turn and see Kristin sitting on her bed staring at me with HUGE blue eyes. Her face would've cracked me up if I hadn't been so close to crying!
"Um, Hannah I can't hear you, can you say that again?" His voice was a bit muffled (laughter...sigh*)
By this point I was almost hysterical: "I glued my fingers together with super-glue! They won't come apart! Help! What do I do?!"
It was then I heard peals of laughter. Serge had put me on speaker phone... I was too panicked at the moment to care.
He told me I needed 100% acetone (that's REALLY strong nail polish remover,'ll take the varnish off of linoleom...*ahem* yes I have accidentally done that...)

I suppose my panic finally triggered the "hero" in Serge because he came to give me a ride to Walmart for the acetone. I asked Kristin to come along and, her blue eyes still the size of saucers, she curiously followed along. Half an hour later I was getting settled with burning fingers...but they were fingers again and not a blob of glued flesh!

The purse? The stupid super glue didn't even last a week!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Schwinn 250p- hunting!

Dumpster diving is a unique sport...actually it's a lifestyle in 3rd world countries...
Really it can be considered strange, disgusting or even degrading or on the other hand: life-giving, necessary and essential. 

All I need to know about dumpster diving I learned from my dad. It's a gift, my friends. I was the first born...usually people go all out on sterilized NEW furniture for their precious first baby...but not my parents! My dad hunted the streets for pieces of wood and old furniture. (Granted he did pay for some secondhand pieces too.) My nursery would have caused some moms to was clean and neat though...which is all that mattered. I didn't have a crib, instead I had a rocking cradle bed that my dad I grew up it became a bed for stuffed animals and one day we dumped it during a military move. A part of me regrets that we did.

Today we have some stools, a rocking chair and a couple of hutches that my dad collected from the side of the road and refurbished. It's amazing what a new weave will do for a rocking chair...or paint for a stool...or a new block-counter my dad created and installed on one of the hutches. My parents are frugal...I'm working on it...

There were many other items dad brought home that left when we would move (that's military life for you...can't take it all to Hawaii...) the rest we outgrew. Most notable was the paddle- not one for boats- this was for spanking. I can't BELIEVE my dad jumped into a dumpster to bring home that awful piece of trash. Who would want a paddle?! I bet it was thrown away for a reason by the previous owner...probably by the kid who was spanked with it. My sisters and I were NOT pleased and I do remember trying to hide it on several occasions.

All of this is to explain how life is today. When I see something on the side of the road on "trash night" I get excited. I have to get a closer look. So naturally, this past Tuesday as I was cruising home and spotted something it was a sure bet I was coming back for it. First I needed some muscle.

"Dad, guess what I saw on the side of road just now?!" I exclaimed as I entered the house. "What?" he asked. "An exercise bike!" I stated with a smile and watched as his eyes sparked with interest.
"Will you come and look at it with me?" I asked...pretty sure it'd be a yes. "Lets get a flashlight." he said. It was on. Dumpster diving...doesn't necessarily have to be inside a dumpster you know...

My dad is a teacher at heart. He loves to explain the back-story of everything and share knowledge. He got excited when we parked the car and got the flashlight on the label of the bike: Schwinn. "Oh these are made to last!" he said. Trying it out he turned the knob that controls the amount of pressure you need to turn the wheel. It still worked. However, he was a little disappointed about the small computer part not turning on. "We should leave it, Sweetie." he said. After a little bit of pleading I gave up and we headed home.

Once there I began to describe it to my sister and mom. "It's FREE and I could use a pedometer to track myself on it!" I stated. "But where would you put it?" my mom asked. Then my sister had the brilliant thought: "You could put it in one of your alcoves in your room." she said. I have two small alcoves with windows that are only about 3.5 feet wide. They are VERY hard to decorate and I was still trying to figure out what to put in my 2nd one. This solved the problem! "Come get it with me!" I said- as dad had already gone to bed. "WHAT?! We'll look like criminals!" she exclaimed. Obviously only a few of us get the genetic urge to hunt for things and take what's cast aside... "Oh it will be fine!" I said. "It's dark and it doesn't weigh that much. Let's hurry." Muttering and thinking of outrageous ways that this could go wrong she slid into the car.

"Can they see us??" she asked. "No and the lights are out. Come on, we're already here." I replied. Opening the trunk we examined the bike a moment and then lifted it...or attempted to. I had the "light" end. "Oh it's not that heavy!" I said. Unfortunately, she had the end with the wheel. "Ooof!" she strained to lift it. "It is too heavy!" she exclaimed...and then looked over her shoulder should anyone be watching us. "Switch with me" I said- I was determined to have that bike. And I'm pretty stubborn.

Hoisting the bike into the trunk we realized that a part of it was sticking out. "It'll just have to stay like that. Hurry!" my sister said. We jumped into the car and drove home. Lugging the thing up the stairs we set it near my room. Amazingly the computer had turned on! Thrilled I pushed every button figuring out how to navigate from calorie counting to distance and speed! I have decided that it is probably one of the best trophies I've ever had while dumpster least so far.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ultimate Frisbee- The last trip to the College Station...

Actually, technically that isn't quite true...
A) I think my last post about the ER (which also involved ultimate frisbee) came after this one...
B) My last semester I spent over an hour in the waiting room of the ER...but that was for a classmate.

Spring 2009

Frisbee, one of the highlights of my week, was in session...and maybe it shouldn't have been.
It was chilly, we were in between rain storms, and the field was MUDDY.
Deterrent to college students who've been in the library all day? Of course not! (Not that I was in the library all day, mind you...but some diligent students had been, I'm sure...)
Mud and cold were only inspiration to keep moving, play harder...and NOT fall.

Unfortunately, several falls and splashes occurred but that game was wonderful!
The cold/wet was so intense that my numb foot couldn't feel the pain.

That night, I knew I'd done something to my hurt REALLY bad. But hoping it would go away, I ignored the pain and went through the weekend. On Sunday I had a hard time finding comfortable shoes...but I solved the problem by only wearing them from the car to a seat in the church and then kicked them off during the service (something I do normally anyway...but it was necessary that day, I assure you!)

Once Monday hit and classes resumed, I realized that this pain was pretty annoying. Hoping it would get better I developed a knack for riding the A&M bus system and found more opportunities to park as close as possible to my classrooms. I admit- I also *ahem* skipped some classes that I just didn't have the energy to walk to.

Adapting to the pain I made it to Thursday night. After the weekly meeting with The Navigators, called affectionately "NavNite," there was an opportunity to play volleyball at our "Rec" (school gym). Unable to turn down this chance to be with people and play a sport I opted to go. Why not? Sure my foot was killing me, but in volleyball you can stand mostly still...

Two hours later I barely had the willpower to drive myself back to my apartment off campus. I crawled up the stairs unable to put any weight on my foot. It hated me, that much was obvious.

The next morning I considered going to class...
As I crawled down the stairs my roommate said "You should go to the emergency room, Hannah. If you can't walk on it, it's probably broken."
By this time I was in so much pain I had no arguments. I managed to crawl into my truck and drive to the Scott & White Clinic. Slowly hobbling from my car to the front desk I asked the ladies:
"I think I broke my foot. Where is the emergency room?"
Why I said it like that, I don't know! You should've seen the doubt in their faces as they pointed in the right direction.
Unfortunately it was almost 100 yards away. I wanted to cry thinking about how many steps that would be, but I was a big girl. I winced all the way.

When I was finally called back to have my vitals checked I barely made it from my chair to the back room. Thankfully, it was pronounced necessary for me to be placed in a wheelchair. I was immediately wheeled back through the ER and down the long hallway, past the gaping front desk ladies (I think they believed me now), and to the other end of the large clinic.

Once the X-rays were taken, I was wheeled back to the other end of the clinic and left in the middle of the ER with my foot up and wrapped. I had the honor of being the only one with a "visible" injury and thus was the object of speculation and some whispering.

At last I was wheeled in to see a doctor. He pointed out the broken area in my foot. I was torn between yelling "I knew it!" and crying.

My FAVORITE part of our conversation:

Sure he gave me a boot to wear for the broken foot and told me how long to wear it, etc. But he was REALLY focused on something else.
I apparently have extra bones in my feet, near my ankles.
He pointed that out several times:
"You know, that's unusual!" He claimed, "I could remove them for you if you like!"

"Um...that's ok."
"Seriously, we could fix that." he said.
"If I've had 'em my whole life, I don't see the point. I can't afford to be off my feet right now."
"Ok, well if you change your's my card." Boy did he ever sound disappointed.

I showed up to frisbee that afternoon...but I was in a boot (I wanted to shock most of my friends. :) Why not?
I became a devoted frisbee cheerleader for the next several weeks!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Elevated Thinking

Driving to work this afternoon (on my way back from a lunch break), I had the radio playing.
I wasn't paying attention to the music- mostly I was focused on the traffic on the road and the fender-bender to one side with no fewer than 7 tow trucks waiting to "flip the coin" and see who got to take the cars.

As I rounded the underpass I noticed a white truck in front of me. It was some sort of utility vehicle and on the back stenciled in black letters were the words "Elevated Thinking."

Just then I heard the lyrics to the song on the radio:
"And I'm always thinking of you, take a look around you, I'm spelling it out one by one..." More- Matthew West

Those are supposed to be God's words to us in that song. Coincidence that I spotted words telling me to think upwards and heard words at the same time that God thinks about me? I think not.
God sure knows how to get my attention and make me smile! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Plum Enchiladas

"It is beyond my imagination." (More than I could have imagined, unbelieveable, etc.) This came from the newest addition to our house (expected stay uncertain- I'll explain in a moment). I watched doubtfully as he used chopsticks to eat his bowl of ice cream...piled high with pork salt!
Encouraging him to eat some leftovers had been unsuccessful and if I didn't cook something, he would. I made a batch of pancakes for him, a sister and myself.

Meet Jimmy, a computer science student from China...who has introduced my sisters to the x-box, loves to win any boardgame we play and is addicted to cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. He recently lost his passport and took a bus from Arkansas to Houston to visit the Chinese embassy about the problem. Our cousin in AR had learned he'd be coming to Houston and asked my family to meet him at the bus stop (at 6am) and take him to the embassy which didn't open until 8 or 9am. There was also the hint that he'd probably need to spend the night.

No big deal. We've helped people out before, hospitality is just a part of life.

However, it became apparent that it would not be one night. The embassy mentioned that it needed even more paperwork than Jimmy had brought and that this whole process could take up to 2 or even 3 months!!! Jimmy was given one of my sister's bedrooms and is still with us.

When I walked into the house for lunch on Friday (my Aunt was leaving town and I wanted a last meal with her!) I found the tv on with an aerobic kick-boxing video and Jimmy and one of my sisters were kicking along to the video. Poor Jimmy- he is surrounded by women- even the people in the video were ALL women.

Yesterday, we had a wedding to attend for a family friend. Jimmy had accompanied us to church and we invited him to come to the wedding ceremony (one of us would skip the reception since it was an rsvp dinner-style wedding, and take Jimmy home). He declined going to the wedding and I skipped the reception so that he would not be alone. However, as he was asleep, I hid in my room with a book. I was still shy around him and didn't know what to talk about- plus, I wouldn't have normally had much interaction in a house alone with any of my other guy seemed a little improper and very awkward.

Soon, after I became really interested in my book, there was a knock at my door.
"Come in" I called before thinking.
The door opened and Jimmy poked his head in the room, "Do you want to eat something?" he asked.

"Oh, I am not very hungry, but you go ahead! There are plenty of leftovers in the fridge!"

He nodded and left and after a moment of wondering if he was going to be ok, I went back to my book.
I could hear his x-box music down in the living room and relaxed.
But 30 minutes later he was back at my door, "Don't you want to eat?"

I realized that it was about 6pm and my stomach had been talking ever since his last knock on my door.

"Sure I'll come and eat something!" And I followed him to the kitchen.
It was unavoidable, he was going to cook for me. Jimmy had cooked my entire family dinner on Friday, but I had had a meeting and missed it. I was extremely nervous about what he would make (my sisters had had to keep him from buying fish with the heads still on and other things that NEVER entered our house when they took him to Chinatown on Friday afternoon.)

"What are you going to eat?" he asked me.
"Well it's Sunday, and usually my family eats leftovers for dinner. I think I'd like an enchilada."

I pulled out several containers of food and offered them to him. "There's plenty to eat!"

He told me that he didn't know how to fix up an enchilada and I showed them to him and explained "You just re-heat and add salsa or more cheese."

Frustrated he said "No, I want to cook for you...I will take the enchilada and cook it here (he indicated the wok pan we happen to own) and add spicey to it!"

(The concept of leftovers seems to be something he doesn't understand. The beauty of them is the mess-free meal they give: "re-heat and eat!")

"Oh. I don't like very spicey food, hurts my mouth." I said.
"Not spicey food- I want to add spice (and here he indicated our spice rack) to give it flavor and add vegetables."

"Oh!" (I was perfectly satisfied with my Mom's chicken enchilada...but I didn't want to be rude and snub his gift of cooking for me. Obviously it was important to him since he had waited 30 minutes to get me down here and hadn't really eaten himself. And vegetables are fine...I mean anything will go with chicken.)

"Sure, go ahead!" I paced the kitchen for a bit as he dragged out all sorts of foods and turned on the stove-top.
Nixing the parsley he had lain on the counter, I went outside to water my flowers.
Hearing the phone ring, I ignored it- I don't like to answer the home phone. However, suddenly Jimmy was bursting out the back door mumbling something and handing me the phone (which had answered itself when he picked it up).

"Hi Hannah!" my Aunt's voice came over the phone. (She had been visiting us the past week and had been the one (along with a sister) to pick Jimmy up from the bus stop.) "I was going to ask if Jimmy's still there but I guess so!" and she laughed.
"Yes, he is. He's inside cooking for me." We laughed at my unenthusiastic tone- I eat a lot of things and try not to be too picky- but eating "mystery dishes" can put me in a panic.

I finished my conversation with her and went back to watering the plants, filling the dog's water bowl, and giving the turtles' bucket a cleaning. (We relocated some turtles for a dear family friend who took them in when they were the size of they were the size of my hand.) I was going to take them to the pond that evening and decided that would be my next chore if my food wasn't ready yet. The waiting was killing me! :)

As I was finishing up, out popped Jimmy with two gallon plastic bags- one with purple cabbage, the other with eggplant. I nixed the eggplant.
"You breaka mah heart" Jimmy said, but I did not change my mind.
Shaking his head, he hurried back inside to his creations...

Unable to stand it any longer I caught the turtles (who were exploring the back porch), placed them in their bucket and headed through the house.
"I'm going to run see my neighbors, I'll be back soon!" I told Jimmy.
Stopping me he asked where the 'floor' was. Eventually we understood one another and I showed him the flour container.

Stepping outside I breathed deeply in the 90+ degree Texas heat. I stopped at my neighbors' house and showed them the turtles- pictures were snapped (the turtles were very clean and had beautiful markings on their skin and shells)- then it was off to the pond.
I ignored the scolding ducks and found a shallow "cove" on the edge of the pond. The grasses had the reflections of sunlit water skidding across them and a group of fish watched me as I gently set the turtles in the pond. The green one (having once been a wild turtle for the first week of it's life) had great instincts and immediately hid herself by the edge. The little black one had been bred in captivity. It had chased and eaten live fish, plants, and bugs before- but never overnight. She was happy with the warm water and drifted in it for about 10 minutes before copying her friend the green turtle. Their names were Yoshi and Donatello (my favorite ninja turtle)...we didn't know they were girls until they were much older.

Content I poured the water out of the bucket, turned it over, and sat on it- watching the turtles, fish, and enjoying the sounds of kids at the pool nearby. How peaceful! A duck with her five ducklings watched me curiously and brought her little brood within a couple feet of me to see if I had brought them a snack. Our neighborhood spoils our ducks and turtles...they get fed several times a week.

Realizing that the sunlight was moving across the water and it was now blinding me, I suddenly remembered Jimmy!
Oh no! He's going to think I can't stand his cooking and I haven't even tried it yet!
Grabbing the bucket I scared the ducks in my dash for home.

Jimmy was not happy I'd been gone so long- 40 minutes! He told me so.
The food had to be reheated.
"I added one of these" he stated and pointed to the plate of plums!
"You put a plum in the enchilada?" I asked, shocked and tickled at the same time.
"Yes, I mean, it will be ok." he said nonchalantly.

I washed up, took my enchilada out of the toaster oven, and sat at the table.
Knowing that he was a little nervous about what I would say and hoping that it would taste good, I dug in.

I was very pleasantly surprised! It tasted delicious! The plum added a sweetness, the cabbage added a nice color and texture, and I don't know what all of the spices he used were but I think he used one of our Lipton tea bags...

So all of this is to let you know that plum enchiladas are divine and I am learning a lot about how to interact with guys when you live with them (never had a brother before...) and how to translate "axe" into eggs and "floor" into flour. If you think of us, pray that Jimmy will be able to find a way to get home to China soon!

Life is NEVER dull.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jury Duty

Oh the fateful summons.
People complain so much about jury duty...present company not excluded. It seems like such a waste of time and NEVER comes at a "good time". :) I've been summoned twice before but never been selected.

This year I was not "picked" they instead call it "not being marked off the list". Joy. Make me feel even better about it.

On Monday I wanted to drive myself down instead of riding the city Metro bus (as I had the previous two times I'd been summoned), but in a quick change of mind I swung through the Park n' Ride. However, as no buses were in sight and no schedule was posted...I drove.
In doing so, I did not notice the speeding motorcycle cop. As I turned on my signal and pulled to the right to avoid construction there was a sudden blaring of sirens...right next to me. Shaken I whipped my car back into the other lane and watched as the motorcycle cop sped on his way disappearing in a minute! I have decided that policemen might not have horns...only sirens.

I made it to the downtown parking garage and hurried to the court building. Settling down into a chair in one of the large waiting rooms (they separate you with juror numbers) I opened my book and relaxed. Waiting was just going to become a normal part of life for the next several hours and I knew it. At last they made us watch the obligatory video about what an honor it is to serve on a jury and I facetiously paid attention...really I would have loved to comment on the droll voice of the narrator or the obviously staged photos with someone...but I didn't want to show any disrespect.
After some technical difficulties with the film (the sound stopped working for a couple of slides) and an obnoxious man who played dumb about parking and complained that he wasn't dressed properly for duty (um, you are told what is proper on the handout they mail you with your summons...) we finally got down to business.

I realized as I listened to that complainer and several people around me how selfish they sounded...and how selfish I was feeling. It IS a good thing to have an honest jury- I would want one if I ever got dragged to court for something! And really, along with voting, it's my duty as an American to serve in that isn't as awful as it seems. After these realizations my attitude was adjusted properly and I went back to my book.

They began to put numbers up on the screen and send groups of jurors with police officers to their various courts for the "de-selection" process. I am not sure how I missed my number being called...I think that maybe (even though I printed my summons out fresh that morning) my number was changed. As I was reading I heard a lady suddenly ask:
"Is there a Hannah (I omit the rest of my name in case you don't know it :) in here?"
I whipped my head up and timidly raised my hand. I HATE being the center of attention in a large crowd and there were a couple hundred people in that room.
To make matters worse, when she saw my hand she said:
"Ah, you belong to this gentleman."
And standing behind her was an enormous policeman.
I wanted to die on the spot. What a way to phrase it!
"I wish I belonged to someone" a person near me muttered loud enough for several people to overhear and laugh.
I did the walk of shame out the door to my group of 24 other potential jurors.
Head held high I slid into the middle of the group hoping to pretend nothing had happened. We went through the underground tunnels (I love that about Houston) and up to the 9th floor of another building in the city.

We were then filed into a freezing courtroom and given an hour lecture on what it meant to be a juror and the type of case we would be hearing about- possession of marijuana. (I am so excited that I can FINALLY talk about it! Keeping the secret for 24 hours was VERY difficult. :)
After another hour of listening to the attorneys discuss some key points with us they began the questions (so they would know who they wanted to cut.) As I was juror number 6, I knew that my chances of not being picked were slim. They start with numbers 1-6 and if they don't eliminate any of them, those are the selected jury members...unless I got eliminated I was a shoo-in. Internally I wrestled with curiosity over actually serving as a jury member and dread at having to listen to a dull case and miss work another day or two...or horrors! several more days!

I listened to more selfish people make up reasons on why they shouldn't be selected and prayed for patience and peace. Because I was in the front row and center I couldn't see the faces of those around me. I kept up a good poker face and just waited. Finally they selected 6 of us: 5 women and 1 man. We were ushered up to the juror's stand and sworn in then marched to a back room for some additional information.

We put on badges that said "Juror" in huge letters and had the judge's name listed underneath and were told we must wear these the next day. Our judge stated that the case should only take one day, and court was adjourned since it was nearing 5pm.

Freed we hurried home.

This morning, on my way to the court from the parking garage (I decided to just drive again since we didn't know how long it would take to finish the case) I watched a policeman on horseback deal with a man who was loitering and slipped by some men in handcuffs and dozens of people waiting outside of the large skyscraper where my courtroom was. I went through the detection process (shoes off and placed along with my bag on the conveyor belt to check for weapons). I normally keep a large pocket knife in my purse (I'm not really sure why or if I would ever use it) but I had had the presence of mind to remove it the day before.

All day we were treated like royalty. Everyone must rise any time the six of us jurors entered or exited the courtroom (which happened SEVERAL times). We are not to ask or answer any questions of the witnesses, lawyers or the defendant (there was no plaintiff) during the trial. We are simply observers and ONLY information heard from the witnesses while on the stand or evidence approved by the judge can be considered during our final judgement. We also were not allowed to talk to each other about the case ALL day (other than comments about how loud the judge was or how much we (I) began to hate the word "objection!")

We were treated to lunch and walked downtown a few blocks to a place called Treebeard's...all gumbo and similar spicy mouth hated me after lunch. We listened to arguments back and forth and truthfully I wanted to just be allowed to make my decision right away.

The facts:
Policeman out doing his duty as a "Traffic Violations" officer passes a car with a crack that runs vertically almost the entire length of the windshield.
Deciding to check out that crack and let the driver know that it is a hazard he pulls him over - this is NOT uncommon. Daily routine.
Officer approaches car to talk to the driver and is hit with the scent of marijuana from the open window.
Naturally all thought of a cracked windshield is put on a back burner.
Officer asks driver to step out of the car and asks him if he is in possession of marijuana (he can see stems and seeds that look like it on the driver's side.)
Driver admits "yes in the middle console".
Driver is cuffed and taken to jail- this should be settled out of court, he already owned to having the marijuana.

But NO.

Someone (him, his mother, who knows) decided that they could question the policeman's motive in pulling him over. Saying it was illegal and could put our freedom and liberty at stake.

So I and 5 other people missed work today to listen to the defensive attorney bicker at a poor policeman who was only doing his job. He didn't go to work that day intending to arrest's not his fault the young man decided to have marijuana in his car.

We had to view pictures of the windshield as the defense attorney tried to keep us from ever hearing the part about the marijuana. (I am sick of looking at cars' windshields.) All day we listened to arguments, were told to recess so the lawyers could have private arguments with the judge, re-entered for 10-15 minutes, only to be told to recess again. (You know, recess was a LOT more fun when I was 8...)

At last, we finally had reached the time where we were allowed to go and talk to each other about the case and make our decision. Yes! I thought. It's easy. They proved that the police officer had "probable cause" and was justified in pulling the car over and the possession of marijuana is undeniable- they passed the actual evidence bag through our 6 pairs of hands. No doubt in my mind, the young man was guilty- end of discussion.

4 of the other jurors were right there with me...BUT it was down to one girl. She refused to believe the officer had "probable cause". Frustrated we spent over an hour debating, arguing and reasoning with her.

This Norman Rockwell painting: The Jury Holdout is a good depiction (only ignore the smoke and make only one of the members a man...)

She finally was persuaded about the probable cause, we all agreed on the possession issue, and I got to push the special button! (They have a small button that you push 1 time if you have a question (ex. need to reread part of the testimony to refresh a memory or want to read a law being discussed, etc.) OR you push it 2 times if you have made your final decision.) The button sticks a bit so after my first push there were a couple of seconds before the second push and I'm sure sitting inside the courtroom the defendant must have been in a turmoil. I had avoided looking at him most of the case because I didn't want to show pity or have any emotions about the case. The only person I truly felt sorry for was his mother.

The judge decided we would stay to hear the punishment (much to the dismay of his lawyer who made a small scene about of many scenes she'd made that day) and we listened in astonishment as they read aloud that the same young man had been a part of a major crime not two years ago. He was told that he would be going straight to jail and I couldn't bring myself to look at his mother.

We were then told to recess a final time and waited behind the scenes for the judge. He was a very jolly Texan man (who cracked several jokes throughout our two days) and made it fun...I almost wanted to ask him to autograph my summons, ha! :)

He told us we could stay and answer questions from the lawyers and witnesses if we wanted and the six of us practically stampeded for the elevators!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Emergency Room Saga- College Part 1

If you have ever met me -especially if our acquaintance occurred at Texas A&M University- then you know where I spent most of my Friday evenings during my college years: Simpson Drill Field chasing a frisbee. (No, not playing fetch!)

Ultimate frisbee was introduced to me in college. Having been a major fan of soccer and having grown up on beaches where frisbee is a required sport, I LOVED that someone had combined the two! I was usually one of the first to show up and the last to leave- on several occasions I even played in the dark with a light-up or glow-in-the-dark frisbee...I was a huge fan.
One of my best friends, after my second trip to the ER due to a frisbee injury said, "Hannah, you have an addiction and it's killing you!"

Today I will discuss the first one: Good Friday, April 2008.
Classes were canceled for the day and students were heading home to enjoy their 3-day weekend.
I had gone and picked my sister up from her college (SHSU) the night before so that we could take just the one car home after an hour or so of frisbee and a lunch with our friends. The game was going team was winning, always proof of the "going well" statement. It was a bit warm and we were going to stop soon- just a few more points!

That is a dangerous word: ALMOST. Almost done with the game. Almost caught the frisbee. Almost made it. Almost.

Now, because I was not conscious for part of this next part of the story, I am going to be switching between my sister's version and my own.
"Here came the frisbee- Hannah was so focused on it that she didn't notice her teammate. Both were coming from opposite sides of the field and were aiming for the same spot -without realizing it. My best description: imagine a car wrapping around a telephone pole- Hannah and the guy collided...only he managed to stay standing and she crumpled to the ground."

I remember colliding with the guy and not being able to breathe. I was suddenly on the ground and I didn't know how I'd gotten there- unable to get any oxygen I passed out. I remember the sound of panicked voices and was concerned because I subconsciously knew something was wrong and wanted to help. I remember feeling someone holding my hand and saying my name. It was black, I couldn't see. Then I remember waking suddenly to friends standing around me with the thought "What are they doing in my room? What day is it? Why are they looking at me? What happened?"
Some of the guys were standing to one side cracking jokes, a girl was on her phone looking desperate and talking about someone "...she's awake now, I don't know..." It didn't occur to me that she might be talking about me.

I felt so sick, as if I wanted to throw up. I thought that I had just had the wind knocked out of me and my desire to keep playing frisbee was so strong that I stood up with my sister's help. That was a mistake because I felt very dizzy and weak. I made it over to the brick steps on the field and just sat down staring at the brick. My friends were very busy talking to each other and occasionally they glanced my way. "She just needs to eat something!" one of my friends drawled in his East Texas accent. "No" I thought, "I don't want any food right now. Sleep. That sounds good. Why did they wake me up? Why am I here?"
My sister was on the phone with my mom...she wouldn't talk to her within earshot of me.

Now, I love my friends- but I wish someone had told me to just go straight to the hospital!
Frisbee was kind of canceled a group of friends decided upon Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. We waited two hours for their food (I had declined eating anything- to this day I don't care for BW's, simply because they had poor service). I just remember one guy watching me intently and not letting me sleep, the one who'd collided with me looking very worried, and a third teasing my sister (who was furious because she was trying to text my mom).

At last my sister's food came and the check so that we could begin our drive home.
I didn't put up a fight when my sister declared that she was driving. Thankfully we had packed the car before the frisbee game and could leave directly from the restaurant. It wasn't until we were on the highway that I asked her, "What happened?"
As she told me, I began to cry- stress, exhaustion, and pain were eating me up.

You wrapped around the guy like a car would a telephone pole! Then when you sat up, you suddenly fell limp. As we came over to check on you, you had a seizure! Your eyes opened and rolled was really scary, Hannah! The guys told me not to let you fall asleep because you probably have a concussion and I didn't make you go to the hospital because I know how much you hate them! But we are going to the Memorial Hermann hospital right now and mom will meet us there!

Truthfully, I DON'T like going to the doctor- but I would have gladly gone. I called my mom -who was very upset that we were taking so long to get to the doctor- and her irritated tone only made me cry some more!
At last we reached the ER and I was admitted. After a couple of hours it was determined that I had enough internal damage to equal that of a very bad car wreck (it made sense- I felt like I was going to implode every time my mom or sister hit the brakes for the next week!). I had a CTscan and was hooked up to a heart monitor, was given pain killer, etc. I cannot remember if I had a broken rib or not. A neurologist had to see me as well as my regular doctor...I pretty much missed classes for the first half of that next week due to doctors appointments and tests. I wasn't allowed to drive for a couple of weeks either. It was a mess!

That was my first ER trip do to ultimate frisbee. :) The second will be featured another time.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Romanced by a Flower

All right, I want you to stop and think about the last time you genuinely gasped or stopped what you were doing to savor a moment! Something was said or spotted that just absolutely took your breath away...

This happened to me yesterday, twice. And both items are totally unrelated...or maybe they are?

First, I had my car radio on (I admit I'm a channel surfer- classical, pop, oldies, a bit of country, and KSBJ -the local Christian radio station- are on my quick buttons). KSBJ was my station of the moment and just then Liz Jordan spoke about some stuff she'd been learning. God had perfect timing in what she said.

She talked about how she was about to have her baby girl (she's officially on maternity leave after yesterday evening, exciting!). Anyway, she spoke about how she had been frantically trying to make herself a better person and erase all her faults before her baby girl is born. She didn't realize that that was what she'd been doing until recently and it occurred to her that it was impossible. No matter what, she would not be a perfect person by the time her little girl was born- even by the time she dies she still will not be perfect.
However, she compared this struggle for perfection to our attitudes about meeting with Christ and it was dead-on with me.

Sometimes we try so hard to be perfect BEFORE we meet with God. We try to clean up our act, wait a certain amount of time since our last sin, etc. But that is ridiculous! Christ already paid for our sins- they are forgiven and NOTHING can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39). I was astounded! I had been feeling uncomfortable about meeting with God (Satan was celebrating big time) this week and to get called out and hear truth in the middle of my drive filled me with such relief and incredible longing to read God's Word and spend time with Him! However I couldn't at that moment...I was headed downtown to meet with the lady whose wedding flowers I'll be doing in October.

During our meeting we visited Central Market and the Fannin flower markets! I LOVE flowers- the colors, smells, and the fun of mixing and matching them. I found some beautiful unique blooms at Central Market and bought $40 worth- hey it's still cheaper than a florist...and I haven't bought cut flowers in a while.

When we got to Fannin markets my first thought was "this is kind of slummy, I wonder if they'll have anything besides carnations and roses..." Upon walking into the cooler of flowers I almost jumped up and down with happiness! Right in the front, a flower that I have only found for sale in store one other time in my life- my FAVORITE- the PEONY. A few buckets of them. I gasped with pleasure and picking up a bundle of them asked the man running the store "How much?" $2.95 each. Smitten with their perfect petals and stunning smell I gazed at them as if they were long lost friends. I had to choose- 3 I decided would be a good number. Carefully I checked them over and selected three white buds leaving the others in the bucket. How hard! You may laugh, but I hope that you are able to find some things in life that give you as much pleasure as those flowers have given me the last 24 hours! I put a picture of them on my phone, carefully arranged them with my other flowers last night, and rearranged them again this evening. Everytime I walk by I stop to breathe deeply- sigh*

How does this flower and my earlier story about sins not keeping me from God relate...let me think on it.

In my life:
God reminded me through the radio that He was waiting for me to meet with Him- despite my human-ness and sin. I am His, molded after Him, created in His image, precious in His sight- and so are you, dear reader!
Secondly, while I was still chewing on that idea in my mind, he provided me with the opportunity to be dazzled by His creativity and passion- through a peony (or 3).

When I look at my flowers I smile- not only because they are flowers and one of my favorite things, they remind me of my Creator and Savior and God, Who is constantly drawing me to Himself despite my mistakes and imperfection. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming love! This is love beyond comprehension- humans are meer reflections (and blurry ones at that) of God's perfect love. Do you know Him?

One last thing...that same night (last night) my quiet time was in Isaiah 33- which talks about sins being forgiven!
And my peony flowers...they are whiter than snow!
Such amazing detail God has!