Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Break

This is what spring break does to Jenna's room:

But don't worry, there's an "after" picture:

The last couple of years, we've been fans of not going anywhere for spring break. It's nice to actually take a break instead of packing up the family and exhausting ourselves on a long road trip. So we are staying close to home this year. Besides, I just really didn't have it in me to plan a trip this year.

But we did go to Wye Mountain, where daffodils are blooming by the thousands. We had to leave suddenly when Jenna needed to potty and didn't like the looks of the port-a-potties. I was so proud! A girl after my own heart.

And the girls and I spent yesterday afternoon hanging out in downtown Little Rock. Here are the girls on the trolley. (Jenna loved it. Julia, on the other hand, is getting too cool to think this kind of thing is fun. Don't know if you can tell from the picture.)

And last weekend, I threw a Twilight DVD release party at church. (It was in the teen room, but attendees were mostly made up of lovestruck moms like me.) We had refreshments (don't worry -- it was black cherry Kool-Aid):

And people like the Williams women had fun swooning over Edward:

So that's it. A peek into our boring spring break lives. Hopefully soon I can review one of the books I've been trying to get read.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spiritual Confession

No, not mine. Anne Rice's spiritual confession. Right now I'm reading her auto-biographical "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession." It chronicles her journey from growing up Catholic to completely losing her faith to finding it again. I'm about halfway through it and it's both fascinating and heart-wrenching, so far. I've never read anything by her before -- I never got into her vampire series. I'll probably post about the book when I finish it.

This book is the result of a trip to the library with the girls last week. I've finally ended my period of Twilight mourning. You know, when you're so sad you've finished the series that you don't want to read anything for a while. For me, this lasted for several months. Unless you count Maureen (Marcia Brady) McCormick's "Here's the Story," which was like every other child star's auto-bio you can imagine. ("I was a child star and as soon as the show ended, I got hooked on drugs." Blah, blah blah...) SO depressing. Eric Clapton's auto-bio was depressing, too, but it was at least interesting.

I also got "Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith" by Suzanne Strempek Shea. It's Shea's account of visiting a different church every Sunday for a year. And I got "Riding the Bus With My Sister" by Rachel Simon, which is the true-life story of the author's relationship with her mentally retarded sister. I know I'll have something to blog about after reading that one. One of my closest childhood friends was a mentally-retarded woman who went to my church. We played with my dollhouse, swam in her pool and had a great time together. Most of the time I forgot she was my mom's age and I was shocked when I got old enough to realize there was something "wrong" with her. I just thought she was a grown-up who lived with her parents and was a lot of fun.

Now I just need TIME to read all this stuff.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Shield Around Me

Psalm 3 has been in my head lately. I memorized it in 8th grade and it’s managed to stay in my head all these years.

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
"God will not deliver him."
Selah [a]
3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift [b] up my head.
4 To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.
7 Arise, O LORD!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

When I committed this Psalm to memory at age 13, I was trying to arm myself with scripture. Actually, I was just trying to get through each day. It was the worst year of my life. Take the typical 13-year-old issues, add some not-so-typical 13-year-old issues, and, just for fun, throw in a heapin’ helpin’ of physical awkwardness – and you’ve got one hell of an adolescent nightmare. I hated walking through the doors of my school every morning and I hated every second I was there. Church wasn’t much better. Most nights, I went to sleep praying I could wake up as someone else. Maybe as some Latina chick named Veronica in the Bronx. Or in an African hut on the other side of the globe. Anywhere but where I was would have been fine.

I tried to stay positive. Really, I did. I tried waking up to music with good, motivational messages like “Don’t Look Back” by Boston (a song that turns my stomach now). But whatever mood those songs put me in was shattered the second I walked into my school.

So I looked to scripture. I had read about POWs who had endured their ordeal with only the scripture they had memorized before being captured. They didn’t see a Bible for years and could only rely on the words in their memory. This inspired me to memorize more scripture, so I opened to the Psalms. My eyes fell on the third one, which looked short enough to remember. And its words spoke to me – sometimes in different ways, depending on what was going on. Some days I really liked the concept of God as a shield. Some days, verse five made it easier for me to get out of bed. And some days, I pictured God breaking the teeth of the wicked. Violent as it was, that image provided me with a lot of comfort. Just knowing he could do that.

And really, really wishing he would…

That year never got better. In fact, it got remarkably worse at the end of the year. But the words of Psalm 3 stayed in my head, and I like to think now that it kept me going. It kept me getting up, getting dressed and trudging into a school (ironically, a Christian school) in which I was grimly outnumbered by my foes.

I don’t really remember the words to that stupid Boston song. But I remember the words of Psalm 3.

Now I spend time regularly with teens, and some of them who may be hurting as much or more than I was at 13. Over the years, I’ve offered the words of the third Psalm to them with the promise “This Psalm will get you through ANYTHING.” I hope it helps them the way it helped me.

Sometimes we want answers from God that never come. We can hurt deeply for a long time without knowing why. But focusing on God’s presence, protection and power can make it bearable until deliverance comes at last.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


So who's tired of looking at my Wii-injured eye? I AM. Therefore, I'm updating my blog to push that photo down a little. Incidentally, my eye is much better now. I can use my eyebrow pencil without crying.

Some recent excitement (that doesn't involve bleeding or bruising... yet) is our lovely new toy. Some friends sent us a Target gift card a couple of weeks ago and I knew exactly what we needed. We needed to pulse. We needed to chop. We needed to blend, shred and liquefy. We needed an Oster 12-speed blender/food processor combo.


There is no end to the fun we can have with this new toy of ours. The first day, Julia and her friend Angel came home from school and we made Thin Mint milkshakes. Oh, YES. They were grand. The next day, the girls came home and we looked around the kitchen for stuff to make a milkshake with (since all the Thin Mints were consumed the day before.) We found bananas, chocolate ice cream and a Hershey bar. So we made Banana Chocolate-Chip milkshakes, which were even better than the Thin Mint ones.

But at this point, I started to get a little nervous. I got a gym membership a month or so ago, and I realized that daily milkshakes might undo everything I was getting accomplished at the gym. So I decided I should fire up the food processor attachment and make something healthy. My friend Katie gave me a recipe and, a quick trip to the store later, I was enjoying hummus on wheat pita bread with roasted red peppers. YUM. (OK, a different kind of "yum" than the milkshakes, but still yum.)

We're excited to see what all this thing can do. The other day, Julia pureed some fruit, poured it into a cup, froze it and later said it was the yummiest thing she had ever eaten. This appliance is life-changing, I'm telling you!

Just so you won't think I'm spending all my time blending things or getting socked in the head by the Wii remote, here's my latest article from Arkansas Life magazine. It was a lot of fun to research and write (I got to interview some Arkansas celebrities, including Jancey Sheats -- a Baytown girl) and it helped get me motivated to start working out regularly. Hey, if I can do it, ANYONE can.

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