Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dark meat and turkey carcass

Aah, here we are, once again, on the eve of  Thanksgiving, aka National Pig Out Day.  I can't think of another holiday that glories and celebrates the wonder of gluttony, except maybe Mardi Gras, but that's not really a national  holiday. But I digress.

I'm not sure which grocery store I will hit up on the way home today.  I am supposed to make a dessert for the feast I am attending.  Creamy, smooth, peanut butter pie?  No, that's my sister's.  (More on territorial foods at family gatherings in my post-gluttony blog.)  I think I will scour the internet for a low-cal dessert that four people will eat, right before they have "just a tiny piece" of peanut butter pie, chocolate layer cake, pumpkin pie, and chocolate chess pie.  All with whipped cream on top. 

I kind of checked out on the whole cooking thing after I got divorced with the rationale that hey, I don't have to be Betty Crocker anymore.  Phew.  Load off.  For the record, I did cook quite a bit when I was married.  I even tried to cook a turkey one year, but it took a really long time to cook because I kept opening the oven door to baste it, hoping to get that crackly skin but moist turkey underneath.  I have since learned that my local BBQ establishment will graciously provide a smoked turkey in exchange for money, and all I have to do is "warm" it.  My kind of cooking!

I am going to try to follow the recommendation of a trainer I know and eat white meat and a few spoonfuls of carbs and non-creamyfied vegetables (think anything with cream of mushroom soup).  Yes, it will take willpower; yes, it will take lots of self-talk that involves thoughts of me in a bathing suit next summer; yes, it will take positioning myself away from the food area and not grazing.  And the key word here is try. 

So, much like Mardi Gras beads, if you see me with dark meat on my plate, chawing away at a turkey carcass, you will know I have completely, totally, and splendiferously embraced the holiday.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Motorcycles, Hondas, and convertibles

Chances are, you are going to go somewhere this week.  Maybe you'll walk, ride a bike, or drive a car to your destination.  I have a Honda Accord that I am pretty much in a committed relationship with -- it's dependable and looks good.  But if someone drove up in a cool convertible or a big motorcycle, I would pass up the Honda.  Not that I don't love my little car, but how fun to feel the wind in your hair and feel like you are in a commercial for "cool."

Riding on a motorcycle or in a convertible would make the ride more fun and adventurous, kind of like you are in a action flick.  You'd still get to the same destination eventually, but the way you get there would be much more enjoyable.

In the same way, raising children, helping out with elderly parents, having a financial difficulty, waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right, working for that next big promotion -- you could discount each of those experiences for how difficult it is, what the disadvantages are, how you are inconvenienced by it, and you could also let it change your view of who God is and what His character is like. 

God's character is true, holy, outstanding, all-knowing, healing, loving, and good.  He watches out for us in such a whole and complete way that we need never worry about how events and people are going to work out for His good.  Of course, with our finite minds and selfish hearts, it may take some due diligence in prayer and reading the Bible to become content with what is taking precedence in our lives.

But what kind of "ride" are you going to take?  Some choose to drive a '89 Corolla with carburetor problems and sketchy brakes, taking back roads and not stopping along the way because it will stall out at each stop light.  These are the people that complain, whine, and doubt the character of God.  Not a fun ride. 

I'd like to think that I choose to take the super-charged Audi convertible with buttery leather seats and a sound system that is unmatched in ALL of vehicle history.  But then that means that I would have to trust God completely and take such joy in the way my life is unfolding that I constantly have an amazing attitude, fueled by my prayer life and my meditating and reading God's Word.

What ride will you take today? 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

8 Reasons to Follow Your Passion

I like cheesecake.  And I, on occasion, make cheesecake from scratch.  It's a laborious process, and I always freak out a little towards the end, wondering if I have cooled it slowly enough for the center not to crack.  But it's not my passion. 

I am a sucker for a romantic comedy.  Sign me up and stick a fork in me, because I am done.  I always cry at the end of Love Affair, which is a modern remake of An Affair to Remember.  I can practically recite every line from You've Got Mail.  Mr. Darcy (if you have to ask who?, don't worry about it) is in the back of my mind most days.  But it's not my passion.

It's taken me a long time, but I have finally figured out that I HAVE to write.  It's what I do.  Sometimes it's funny, sometimes vewwy, vewwy serious (read that in your Elmer Fudd voice) and sometimes I have no idea how something will turn out until it's done.  But it's my passion, and it's what I do. 

So over the span of my passion-following, I have inadvertently built a list of reasons to do what I do.  They are:
1.  It's how God made me.
2.  It's what I like.
3.  It's better than doing something for which I do not have the skills. (Gardening, math, needlepoint)
4.  Writing makes me feel like I have a purpose.
5.  I take pride and confidence in my writing.
6.  The other parts of me, like the funny and the quirky and the emotional, support my writing.
7.  I can encourage other people with my writing.
8.  It's something I can mentor and pass on to the next generation.

Ask yourself these same questions:  How am I hard-wired?  I work with all IT guys, and the warm, fuzzy stuff does not naturally come to them.  What do you like to do?  What do you like so much that you would do it for free? Do you have other parts of  your personality that support your passion?  Can you pass this on ?  Would someone else benefit from doing this as well?

So what's your passion?  There's a line from the 1990 movie Pretty Woman I like: a random street guy yells out, "Welcome to Hollywood...what's your dream?" 

Well, welcome to the rest of your life.  What's your dream?  Find your passion -- follow it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Like It

If you know anything about me at all, you probably know that I am on Facebook.  I started out being a "protective parent" to see what my then-young teen children were doing, but now my Facebook presence has evolved into me interacting with friends who are my age.  Yeah, I'll comment or like something on one of my daughter's or son's friends' pages, but just because it's cute or funny or pithy.  

I realized the other day that I "like" a LOT of things on Facebook.  To me, it's kind of an affirmation that a person has posted something worthwhile and not just letters taking up space.  Then there is the ubiquitous posting about something sad, like a death or illness.  It's always weird to "like" that, because I wonder if my friend gets the idea that I am commiserating with them in their time of need, not that I find something great about something bad.  

I like that there's NOT a "don't like" button to choose on Facebook.  I love that people have to choose to be positive and there is no room to be negative, except if you actually take the time to write a comment, in which case I think you are licensed to express your opinion, even if you are stupid or thoughtless or just plain mean.

But what if there was never an opportunity to be negative?  What if you always had to either express your like or zip your lip?  This kind of makes me think about Philippians 2:3, "Don't act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves."  

Why not use your words today to "like" people?  You may not like everyone.  I don't like everyone.  But something positive can be said about everyone.  For example, my ex-husband is an excellent trip planner and a great money manager. 

So go out and like somebody.  Give 'em the thumbs up.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What's Your Vote?

Some days I think I totally get the small-town charm thing. I voted recently, and my voting place is at a church near my house. You would have to know it was there to find it, even though it's been there probably 40 years. 

What I like about it is that it is the epitome of a "sleepy little place." We don't have picketers on voting days, nor does anyone seek us out for exit polls. You come, you go, and in between , you see that the people in our voting district are pretty much the same, that is, middle ageish regular people that probably have a dog or a cat and kids and cook out on holidays. There's a few young 20's thrown in here and there for a little spice. And I like that.

Conversely, my aunt and uncle live on about 20 acres in Dasher, GA, surrounded by a 100-acre swamp. It is super quiet and a nice place to get away for a night or two. You can hear yourself think.  Really.  Like the actual neurons firing.  And you may not see anyone on the road when you drive somewhere.  In exchange for this very quiet and slow way of life, however, there is a tradeoff. Sure, Jacksonville closes down by 10, but there are places and things TO close down. I do have to tell you that I talked to her the other night and they were so bored that they went to the Wendy's parking lot to watch it rain.

Maybe I'll stay in the city after all.  What's your vote? City or country?

Friday, July 6, 2012

How to keep white tennis shoes white

Contrary to movie usage, Defcon 1 is
much worse than Defcon 5.

Aaahhh, summertime-- there’s nothing like the cool of an ocean breeze, the gentle sway of palm trees, and the slight fragrance of sunscreen.  Life is idyllic, before it comes to a crashing halt, say, oh, about August 15th, when those who have not completed their summer reading go into crazy reading mode to get it finished.  But somewhere in that frenetic reading time, most find the opportunity to go buy some new clothes and especially new shoes.  White new shoes.
Very white shoes.  Just waiting to be stepped on.
Not just white.  It’s almost a fluorescent white, kind of whiter-than-white, and the wearer is put on a shoe wear -Defcon 1 to keep those pristine white shoes as white as they were the day they came out of the box.  Oh, the care!  The new shoe wearer avoids puddles, dirt, and threatens bodily harm to friends who would like to “break in” a new pair of shoes by stepping on them, scuffing them, etc. 
These new shoes kind of remind me of marriage and the movie “Magic Mike.” A marriage relationship is a rewarding one, but has to be firmly guarded and protected, much like a brand spankin’ new pair of white shoes.  For either a man or a woman to seek out romantic feelings (that’s as generic as I can make it!) outside of his or her marriage is ultimately going to result in discontent, cruel comparison, and jealousy. 
This is why women don’t need to see Magic Mike.  Sure, I will be the first one to admit that Channing Tatum is a very handsome man.  However, for me to ogle and admire his body past a first glance is wrong!  I think I can reasonably assume that he and I will NOT be getting married.  Thus, I need to respect what he will share with his wife as a married couple and I want to save my romantic feelings for the man I may (or may not) marry someday. 
I know FOR SURE that I do not want to be compared to a Victoria’s Secret model.  I don’t want any future husband to compare me to one either!  I pray for him now, that he will purpose to keep his mind and eyes focused on things that are kind of Philippians 4:8ish, that is, “In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”
Protect your marriage at the very least like you would those white shoes!  Or let me put it to you this way, if you still think that “Hey, it’s only a movie”:  Would you hire a male stripper, like is seen in Magic Mike, to come to your house and perform?  Would you want your husband to hire a female stripper to do the same?  No?  Unfortunately, the only difference is where it’s seen.
Pray Psalm 19:14 with me today: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.  (And a prayer for white shoes would be okay too.) 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


So what?

This is the question I ask myself as I prepare to teach and speak to a room full of 7th and 8th grade girls every Sunday morning.  Another question is, "Why should I care?"  or more importantly, "Why should middle school girls care about what I have to say?"  I tend to be a little (or a lot) ADD, so as I prepare to teach, I want everything to be interesting and compelling and something to care about.

I follow a blog written by a guy I think is pretty astute, Jon Acuff.  If you are not reading his funny blog, Stuff Christians Like, then  you are missing out.  But he also writes a leadership blog and the current series is on social platforms, or as I like to irreverently refer to the whole idea because I am kind of a rebel that will eventually conform, "social platformin'." His point today was that you have to have content, the "what" of the who-what-why-where-when model of journalism.

So  I asked myself, what is this whole blog thing about? What is my content in this blog?  If I had to put it into six words, give or take ten words, I would say that this whole crazy "Flying Pants" blog thing is just to encourage people to greatness.  I want people to see that their stuff is like other people's stuff and that they can make it through and come out on the other side a little bit closer to the Holy Father that made us and loves us.

So when I write about my road rage, or having a run-in with a guy's girlfriend, or how I get lost in cities not Jacksonville, FL, or how Kate Gosselin should not go to Alaska in heels, it is my humble attempt to be transparent and show people that we really are the same, despite being shorter or taller or richer or older or stupider (is that a word?) or smarter.  God made us in His image to glorify Him, and if you ever get any encouragement to be closer to God because of something you read on the Pants, then to God be the glory.

So go out and have Dunkin' Donuts, which I have previously disavowed because of the crazy people that drive in there.  I won't look.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oh Summertime, how I love thee

I have to think that summer is my favorite time of year.  Of course, living in the Sunshine State (aka Mosquito state)  like I do, it is easy to come across a sunny day between May and October.  You're never too far from the beach in the state of Florida, and it's a likely chance that some body of water is nearby.  It's not considered abnormal to wear a beach coverup inside a fast-food, or in the case of Christian Chicken, a quick-service restaurant.  I also like that there are certain rules that we Floridians are just, well, exempt from. 
Aren't these cute?  Love.

Like, white shoes are really a year-round choice, depending on what the weather is.  I mean, really -- if it is 80 degrees at Christmas, it's hard to NOT take a picture of yourself by the pool in a Santa hat. So wearing white shoes is really not a hard stretch of the ol' imagination.  Likewise, I know that it gets cold after Labor Day in some places, but everyone in Florida knows that September is just when hurricanes are starting to get active and it won't get cold (i.e., 60 degrees) until November, maybe.

And then there's socks.  If there was a more out-of-place fashion choice in Florida, I DON'T want to know what it is.  (Let me pause for all the athletes to talk about how they're so necessary for sports.  Additional pause.) I mean, why do you think that the consummate "funny Florida tourist" costume includes white socks and sandals?  They're just so wrong.  I believe it is a state-of Florida constitutional right to not wear socks.  Now, if my feet are legitmately cold, then I would wear them.  If I chose to. 
WRONG shoe fashion choice anywhere you are.

State beverage of Florida
Kudos to the 7-11 people for coming out with a low-cal slurpee.  All you other slurpee/Icee/etc. people need to follow suit and get with the program.  What is better on a really hot day than a drink that is actually ice?  Yum.  Just in case you wondered, I like to mix banana and blue.  It's a taste celebration.

Another rule for everyone north of Florida that we don't follow is snow days.  We DO have "weather days" which can cover any of the following: a foot of rain that floods the streets OR wind/tornados OR actual hurricanes.  I mean, all it really takes is one downed tree across a major traffic artery and it's all over.  No one's going anywhere (without a lot of traffic.)   

Ahh, summer.  No shoes, no shirt, no problems.  Give me a bathing suit and a pair of flip flops and I'm golden.  Dawn patrols, days at the beach, floating around the pool with some friends and some food on the grill.  There's really not anything much better.  And when it is 4000 degrees, or feels like it, all it takes to feel better is to remember it will be 70 degrees in January.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I'm not a cool mom

Okay.  I like to think that I actually AM a relatively cool mom, as moms go.  I can't remember a time when I have been so completely embarrassing to my children that news of my weirdness went viral.  But I have to tell you that I am now officially inclined to bust out a tear or two or three.

I don't know where or how it started, but one day I just realized that I am a big boohooey mess.  In fact, I no longer listen to country songs that describe any kind of loss, regardless of its dog/truck/red solo cup story.  Nor do I watch "there are starving children around the world and if you were a decent human being you would help"  infomercials.  I hear about a tearful homecoming of one of our country's proud and brave military and it is ALLLLL over--break out the barrel of Kleenex. 

So what in the world  happened that made me such a weepy woman?  All I can attribute it to is a "tenderized heart." 

Not too long ago I was witness to a friend's walk of faith, and seeing God's goodness just made love so real to me-- love that puts on shoes and walks around caring about people. 

Because I had just been witness to seeing God work in such a huge way, I prayed that a hurt in my life would be productive and benefit another believer some day down the road.  But because I tend to pray big, I prayed, "God, if I am going to hurt, I want to hurt in such a huge way that you can use it in a huge way."  (Note:  I do not advise praying in this manner unless you realllllllly super mean it.)  Some days my heart has been so heavy that I just don't know what to do.  All I can do is pray, because so many of my situations are not under my control and far out of my grasp.  I can say without reservation that my heart has hurt more in the last 4 months it ever has. 

But there's an up side to all of this --

God has moved. Because I have moved closer to Him, sought Him out in fervent prayer, and have had to cry through a lot of stuff that I don't really want to deal with, I have seen Him so evidently move that I can only step back and know in my heart and mind that God has worked.  My dad is miraculously mostly healed; I have peace over a school decision that I was certain was the wrong one; I am comforted by a sweet couple that has gone not just out of their way, but CRAZY out of their lives to minister to me. 

So now as I consider my prayer to hurt so much that I could minister to those that hurt, God used it to open up my life to be ministered to.  This makes me think that these fake faces and fake realities that people, in general, put up and hide behind are not of God, but of Satan.  When Adam and Eve had eaten of the apple, they hid in the garden so that God couldn't find them.  But God knew exactly where they were in his omnipotent power and knowledge.  When we put up what we think is a wall between us and God, because of hurt, or unmet expectations, or anger and bitterness, it's like that old adage about walls -- you are protecting what's on the inside, but you are also keeping something on the outside!  In this case, keeping God on the outside is never good and wrecks our relationship with Him.  But He knows exactly where you are and exactly what your hurt is. Go big and let it out!

Can I pray for you?
Jesus, you are truly exactly what we need.  Please open our eyes to how much you love us and how much you really do care.  As you break down our walls, help us to be open to hurting and open to your love.  Please provide friends to care for us and to walk with us.  We seek  your holiness as the answer, and please draw us to you.
In your blessed and holy, righteous name, Amen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kleenex-y dreams

This is the season that older daughter will graduate from high school. This is my first child to do so, so I am walking in uncharted territory. I have no idea what to expect, except that a lot of Kleenex will be involved.
I remember little about my own high school graduation, but I do succinctly remember a picture I took with the six girls I counted as my closest friends during those years. I liked the picture well enough to have it framed, but I haven't seen it in years.
That day, as we cut up and smiled and laughed, we could never have nor would we have wanted to know what would happen in the years to follow. We learned what bad choices were, what infertility felt like, what spousal abuse was, and how to mourn a spouse gone too soon. But we also saw that the bonds that friendship had already formed over our high school years loved beyond bad choices, cried in unison on the tough days, and fiercely hung together to protect our friends.
The other night, at my daughter's graduation rehearsal, her group of giggly, graduating friends reminded me so much of myself and my friends 26 years ago. So here's a few helpful hints for this year's graduates and their best friends:
1. Love each other unconditionally, even if you have to tell each other some harsh truths. Girlfriends are forever, boyfriends are "whatever."
2. Accept that you all will change as you continue to mature and grow. You don't all have to love the exact same stuff your whole life.
3. Seek out your interests and your career goals, even if they are different than your friends'. If your friends really are your friends, they will appreciate your differences and support what you want.
So go wholeheartedly in the direction of your dreams, because we've got your back!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Top 14 ways to eat a Butterfinger

Just a small sample of Lori's insanely large supply of candy
I'm lying.  There are actually not 14 ways to eat a Butterfinger.  I mean, there may be, but I know of just a few.

My partner in crime at work, Lori, keeps a ridiculously large jar of "bite-size" chocolates near her desk.  This is right next to the leadership poster that makes seagull noises to provide a soundtrack for the eagle pictured on the poster.  (Seriously, with stuff like this, my blog writes itself..... :)) Anyhoo, as I ate a bite-size Butterfinger in two bites rather than the self-prescribed one bite, cohorts Lori AND Charlene filled me in on the correct way to eat a bite-size Butterfinger, which is apparently to let the chocolate melt off in your mouth and then to daintily use your bicuspids to shave off parts of the candy until it's gone. 

This is in direct violation of my candy manifesto, which clearly states than any candy worth having can be eaten immediately without any required preparatory action, i.e., letting the chocolate melt off.  But this brought to mind a thought:  How many unique ways are there to do things?  For example, I do carefully remove the candy shell from plain M&M's before eating the chocolate center.  (This is the one proviso to my candy manifesto.)

How things should be
Ex-Boyfriend and I learned early on that we had a major, yet insignificant, difference:  I am a lid person, he is not.  In fact, at one of our first lunches together, he REMOVED the lid from my disposable cup while we were eating.  Now, as a person who has raised three children that were very close in age, I was immediately taken aback that a person would drink from a cup without a lid, because, as any mother knows, all small children must have lids.  Unless she enjoys cleaning up after said small children.  But E-B, never having had children and lived a normal adult life, did not feel the need to protect the table from a spill, which apparently is a normal assumption to make as a child-free adult. 

So how does a person develop this strong belief in what he does?  Is it over time?  Is it a result of a freak cup-without-lid accident?  Hmm. How many things are there quirky about me that I don't even realize? How many things about you are quirky that  you may or may not realize?  I also think that raisins that look like chocolate chips in cookies are a gyp, that meat mixed with sweet stuff is WRONG, and anything more than a micron-depth application of mayonnaise is gross. 

So what about you, out there in the blogosphere?  What is your quirky weird food thing?  Leave me a comment.  And I might just send you a Butterfinger.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Was the Other Woman. Kind of.

Without sounding too Hester Prynne, I was the other woman. Kind of.

My friend Kenn (whose name has been changed to protect the innocent) has been playing his bagpipes (name of instrument changed to protect a beautiful instrument) and singing at several local live music venues. Because I am an awesome friend, I have been promising to come see him for about a year.  And had yet to go.  So when I had a free evening and I knew he was playing, I ambled my way over to this restaurant and proceeded to order some black bean flautas. Yum!

At the break between sets, he walked over to a table with two women and talked to them and then made his way over to my table .  Kenn invited me to join these other ladies, who were also there in support of him.  I am always up for making new friends, so me and my flautas picked up and moved.
Yummy flautas.  
 Kenn introduced me to his girlfriend Berry and her mom. (Note: previously, I had learned that although a nice person , Berry could become territorial and not-so-nice if I was perceived as a threat to her girlfriend status.)  during the course of our conversation, her sardonic jabs and indifferent  conversation made me slowly realize one thing: I AM THE OTHER WOMAN.

Because I have never been the other woman, I was a little uncertain on how to handle it all. Should I flaunt what she thinks is true ( I am a threat to her relationship) or take the 10-foot pole approach, dropping subtle hints to indicate that I have absolutely no romantic interest in her boyfriend? Because I normally take the high road (curses, my do-gooder-ness) I took several opportunities to say that we only knew each other as a friend of my then-boyfriend, how we did not have any communication between 1991 and 2011, and that I had recently broken off a relationship and was thus a current member of the she-woman manhaters club.

This seemed to retract her claws and I felt safe-ish. Fortunately, my young son texted me and needed some motherly assistance in the form of cash, so I had an excuse to draw short this otherwise "fun" evening. I made my way out and "phew"-ed under my breath.  

I am certain that Berry is super sweet and to be perfectly honest, she is extremely accomplished in several professional areas.  I have no idea why she would be threatened by a 40's ish mom in her fifth career and writing a blog read by roughly 20 people.  But I guess it's because I had the potential to become.... the other woman. (If, by some weird freak occurrence of nature that "Berry" happens to read this, I'm also not Kenn's type.  He seems to prefer leggy blondes.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Three Reasons To Say I Love You

You may already think you are in charge of this blog just by reading the title.  You already know why.  But as is the par for Flying Pants, we’re going somewhere else with this. 
“I love you” are possibly the three greatest words you can say.  The three worst words? “There’s no Frostys.”  Seriously, though, expressing the sentiment of love is a wonderful, encouraging thing.  I am a big fan of saying it because you mean it, not because it’s three words that fill up dead air space.  So, with that in mind, I humbly present three reasons for saying THE WORDS:
1) You have children. 
When children are young, telling them that you love them not only lets them know they are loved, but saying kind words in a loving tone teaches them to use soft voices and loving tones.  Children’s behaviors are often “caught” more than they are “taught.”  Your actions as a parent teach volumes.
When children are tweens/teens, saying “I love you” can be what shores up their day when they are battling issues like self-esteem, peer pressure, and doubt.  Regardless of how old they are, and how much they think they know, they still need to be told that they are loved.  And I would also add “You are special” and “I’m praying for you.”  Anyone that has ever gotten the word “fine” as an answer to “How was your day?” knows that a lot more went on than is being told.  Reminding your teen of your love and your care may not be immediately embraced with open arms, big hugs, and “Yes, Loving Parent, thank you so much,” but anything that gets said enough STICKS.
2) You have a spouse.
Ooey-gooey love in dating and the first years of marriage is sure to elicit many affirmations of love.  And I say, go for it, say it a million times a day if you want.  This is the easy part.  But when you’re up for the third night (and I mean from 11 pm to 6 am or later with NO sleep) in a row with a colicky baby, saying “I love you,” caring for your spouse, and meeting his or her needs is the kind of cement that holds a marriage together.  Or when one partner is facing a difficult challenge, like illness, a loved one’s death, or financial woes, saying the words is like saying “I’ll be here for you, even when it’s tough. We’re in this together.”
3) You have friends.
Having a friend that you love makes life great.  Letting them know you appreciate and love them goes a long way.  Check out this video that my friend Brenda, who I love, shared with me:
So go show some love already.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who Needs a GPS?

REally.  Seriously.  Who needs a GPS?  If you have been a place a gazillion times, do you really need a voice in a box to tell you where to go?

I didn't think so.  I was taking Young Son and Youngest Daughter to Busch Gardens for Spring Break.  We have been there countless times and have never gotten lost.  We took off south, cruised through Orlando, and set off even further south to the Land of Reasonably Priced Theme Park Food.  It wasn't until we were seeing signs for towns south of Tampa that I started to wonder if we had gone the wrong way.  (Yeah, not much gets past me.)  After Young Son determined that we were indeed further south than we needed to be, we turned on the GPS and I put in the address.  After taking a tour not only through a construction zone and school for crack dealers, we ended up on the other end of Busch Blvd., effectively placing us in the "still hopelessly lost" category.

One legal U-turn later, we were FINALLY headed towards Busch Gardens. We ended up having a great time once we got there. But getting there was a task of beastly proportion.  The GPS got us there, kind of, after taking a crazy route.

It's kind of like being the middle child or an artsy kid or a kid that walks his own wiggle.  Everyone can read a map and know how to get through high school, go to college, get a job, get married or want to, and do their own thing.  But when you have your own bent and want to do things the way that makes sense to you and sometimes just because it's not the way everyone else would do it, getting "lost" and taking a crazy route is not so crazy.

My friend Steve Raye, "Satchel" to most, was the most popular guy in our senior class and everyone loved him. After graduation, he made pizza and floated around the country, makin' friends and takin' names wherever he went.  He made Gainesville his home and got himself a wife, kids, and an awesome 
restaurant/art gallery that is famous. Satchel's Pizza is an innately cool place, even without awesome pizza and Lightning Salvage, an eclectic art gallery that gives a local artist a chance. Check it out at He followed his own GPS and is successful by the standards he measures success by (and, by the sales figures, successful by any means).

Finding your way may mean you get a four-year degree.  Or it may mean you follow your dream to art school.  Or maybe you have a four-year degree and want to go to art school  Whatever it is, GO. Find  your way, whether it's khaki-Dockers-and-polo-bound or if you have absolutely no idea where you're going next.  And leave the GPS at home.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sweet Smells

Ask anyone in my family about the watermelon incident of 1986.  After they stop chuckling, he or she will explain that we left a watermelon in our car in the middle of July in Daytona Beach, FL.  It was a mistake, really, because only a foolhardy individual would do such a thing.  Imagine our surprise and dismay when we came back to the car a day later to find the watermelon had exploded all over the interior of the car.  Just for fun, one day, leave a sliced watermelon in your car on a hot day.  Actually, don't, because it STINKS.  Although we cleaned the car with the vengeance of a scorned woman, on really hot days for years to come it would reek slightly of watermelon.  

Conversely, because we have a variety of citrus trees at our place, for a short time every spring I can take in a huge,deep breath and take in the scent of beautiful, delicate citrus blossoms.  I don't know what it is about this smell, but I will purposely sit outside, be still, and just enjoy breathing in.  (And out.)  It is a far cry from the nose-wrinkling stench of bad watermelon.

Ephesians 5: 2 reads like this:
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
I often think about this verse whenever the citrus blossoms are in because I wonder if my sacrifice is a sweet smell to God, or if I am the bad watermelon.  I wonder if I am living too much for myself and not sacrificing enough for the sake of Jesus, because my default sins are pride and shallowness.  Whenever I am not in God's Word enough, I can tell because I become critical and prideful and elevate myself above other people, thinking I'm all that.  Just ask Oldest Daughter, because I will make conversation about people that is not edifying and she is the first to yank me up and convict me of being shallow and prideful.

I read in a commentary that the sweet smell of this biblical sacrifice comes after the sacrifice has been burned.  So what I take away from that is the idea that I have to present my sacrifice and wholly lay it on the altar before God.  I have to not only think about making a sacrifice, not only blog/fb/twitter about sacrifice, but follow through with doing what God has called me to do and get it done already.  That's when that sweet smell pleases God.  

It's not always so easy.  I have to put myself in the backseat and diligently, purposefully seek God out and NOT be the watermelon.  I have to clean my life up like we tried to clean the car from the watermelon, and discard pride and shallowness.  Although the citrus blossoms only smell great for awhile, it's nice to know that whenever I get real and get serious about my walk with God, that I am a sweet smell to Jesus.  And not a stinky, rotten watermelon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Driving Problem

I live in Jacksonville, FL, the largest city in the continental United States.  It is roughly 840 square miles wide.  It just seems much bigger when you drive it.   For example, for me to drive to work each day is 22 miles.  I take a suburban route because I don't like highway traffic.  However, I have a commute nemesis that I secretly dislike.

It's Dunkin Donuts.

I don't have an actual problem with the donuts themselves, although I do think they have a funky aftertaste and I prefer Krispy Kreme a whole bunch more.  It's more the people that go there.  And not actually the people, just their entitled sense of right of way to get in and out of the Dunkin Donuts parking lot.

Whenever traffic is moving and there is no cause to stop, it befuddles and maddens me to see perfectly good cars stop perfectly good motion to let people cross traffic to get to Dunkin Donuts.  Huh??? Is the need for baked goods so overwhelming and such a universal desire that there is psychic communication between drivers to stop the flow of traffic?  I apparently am not as spiritual as I thought, because I do not get that vibe in the vicinity of Dunkin Donuts.

And then there's the people who, once in possession of the Promised Land manna (aka donuts), have to zip out of the parking lot to deliver their little piece of heaven to whoever.  It's as if they think they are transporting organs for transplant. Edging their sedans and their SUVs out into traffic, as if suggesting that if I were really a nice person I would let them in. After all, they have VIDs (very important donuts) to deliver.

I happen to have a Christian-type decal on my car, so I have to show the love of Christ and let people in. Arrggh.  I don't do it with a happy heart.

So, if you happen to be driving in Jacksonville, which is highly conceivable for all 9 of my followers, go ahead, stop at Dunkin Donuts.  I will be at Krispy Kreme, having made a right turn into the parking lot without inconveniencing any other drivers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hi. My Name's Terri, and I'm a Notification Junkie.

When I was at Cumberland College,  the College of the Kentucky Mountains, (now known as University of the Cumberlands) I was fortunate enough to serve on the Campus Activity Board, which planned all kinds of fun events for students.  (Shout out to Kime and Jeff Harris and Charlie and Kim Higgins, who were also on the board as freewheelin' single folks and eventually married.... aww) But, as usual, I digress.  One year we planned a series of games for Spring Fling and one of the activities was the twirly whirl, which, for you uneducated folks, is taking a baseball bat, standing it up straight, putting your nose on the end, and running around the bat like a crazy person at least ten times.  I'm not sure how it messes with your equilibrium, but try it and then try to walk normally.  Im-possible.  Really.  Try it.  It's kind of fun.  Or at least have your kids do it and laugh at them.  (evil mommy moment)

I love facebook and it is a great way to keep in touch with people.  I really enjoy being a part of people's lives and seeing their kids grow and all the neat stuff that happens in their lives.  With that said, however, I have to admit that I am a notification junkie.  I can't let a notification go by without looking at it.  And then get distracted by something else or someone else and then I wonder what my kids are posting and have to check out their pages and all of their friends are so cute and sweet  I enjoy their pics.  If you are familiar with the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, then imagine that adapted to facebook.  It never ends.

So, with a great majority of my time spent on keeping up with facebook, I neglect to actually call people or go see them.  I see people at church, out and about, and at work, and we talk about facebook.  It turns into a dizzying, uneven existence, kind of like the twirly whirl.  Instead, I want to have real, deep relationships with people and I want to know all about them, not just what their statuses say.  I want to talk to them, not text them or get a notification that they liked my status.  So I am taking a break from Facebook.  Just to step back and enjoy this time in my family's life, to enjoy the friendships I have, and to appreciate all that is around me.

Last night I facetimed one of my dearest friends who lives  hours away and we had a nice, long talk about everything and nothing.  I talked to my dad about an upcoming decision he has to make.  I invested my time into people, not Facebook.

So will I ever go back to Facebook?  It's hard to say.  I am kind of enjoying being facebook-free.  If you do see me on there, please say hi.  And then I'll probably call you to say hi back.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The List

I feel as if I am a reasonably intelligent person, and I read on a number of topics that I am not actually super concerned about just because I want to be well-versed on a number of subjects,but mostly so I can remain family Jeopardy champion. A little Car and Driver magazine here, a little ESPN web page there. I'll even gladly admit to my lack of skill in the accounting world. But there's one thing I will broadcast from the tallest cell tower - Man Things I Don't Understand.

I am happy for the differences that exist between men and women . I love that women are soft and pretty and smell good. It's a great way to be. But there is an inherent difference between the two sexes that CANNOT be reconciled! Knowing the stats of a baseball player for his entire career? Umm, okay. Grunting monosyllabic responses to questions phrased as a question? Hmm. Having the ability to actually be thinking about nothing? That defies Girl World at a cellular level! Spitting for distance? Ice fishing ? Debating the virtue of the Hail Mary at the two minute warning? And I hate to go here, but the inopportune scratch?

I know there's much, much more that we, as women, don't get about men. ( If only men were as simple as women. ) what would be on your list?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Walking with Friends

Honestly, this is something I should do at lunch every day.  I "accidentally" forgot my shoes last week, and I sincerely forgot my shoes this morning.  But this is not what this post is about.

In the teaching-high-school-English portion of my life, I was one of several chaperones for a trip to a national park in our city.  It was a very nature-y setting and the students loved just being able to run and roam.  Another teacher and I decided to take a walk down one particular trail, just because it looked like "fun."  In retrospect, it was not the kind of fun that actually FEELS like fun.  It's the kind of fun that you hope will be fun because it resembles an opportunity that could possibly be fun if the planets aligned properly and you were wearing the right kind of shoes.  So off we went down this trail that seemed to be fairly worn and had some signage to direct fun-seekers.

To make a long story a little shorter, it started out great.  However, when the trail narrowed and then dead-ended at a swamp, a little back-tracking was in order.  Then going back the way we came worked but then didn't, because we couldn't find the signage.  We eventually, after two hours of "fun," worked our way back to the bus just in time to leave with the students.  All was well, minus a few scrapes and a random alligator sighting.

I have a very good friend who was on the same kind of trail.  Her son had become addicted to drugs and finding the trail back was a two-year journey.  I walked with her at what became the end of her journey, and I will never be the same. God allowed me to be a part of the "fun," and I mean real fun, because I saw first hand how He worked to bring His glory to a sinner who needed a Savior and needed to be saved from his own life.  There were so many loose ends that seemed totally unrelated but ended up being tied all together and her son is now part of the family of God.  I feel so honored and privileged to have been a witness to it all.

It seems like there are so many "trails" in my life and I am not sure where they are going and there is no signage.  I have doubts and I am worried about how I will pay for college, raise children, pay the bills, use my time to do what matters. However, Psalm 27:1 says that "the Lord is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid?"  Can God provide the "signage" that my heart needs?  Yes.  Will God be faithful to show the way?  Yes.  Look for God in His Word and He'll be there.  Take a friend with you -- share your life and invest into the life of a friend.  Your walk together will be truly fun, even without good shoes.

And no alligators.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Fun

I have decided that I am occasionally going to dig out a "blog" from my journals every now and then, and today seems like a good day to start.  I do have to mention that the idea for this came from my good friend and partner in crime, Jamie Vaughn. 

The Way of the Mother
Mothering is the proudest profession.  And the oldest, too, despite what some may say.  I have some friends who are having babies, and they are so wide-eyed and eager and well, "fresh."  I guess that's why it's "refreshing"  in a way to see them and all their young mother friends talk as they hover over their strollers.

However, at this stage of the mothering game that I (and many of my friends) are in, having teenagers and older, there are very few things that are "fresh."  I have been excited over report cards approximately 116 times, we have sung "Happy Birthday" at least 47 times, and have put out cookies and milk for Santa about 13 times, when you consider that Oldest Daughter had to put on a show for Youngest Daughter until she learned the truth.   Now, these were wonderful, sweet, endearing memories that made for great photo ops that make you want to say "aww."  And as much as these fresh, sweet, young moms look forward to all of that, there is something that they don't know and can't realize.  These same moms will, one day, after being asked 22 questions in 6 miles of driving, turn to their children and say, "If you do not stop talking, Mommy will (and gentle readers, just pick your favorite here) 1) run away to Mexico, 2) put duct tape over your mouth, or 3) lapse into a Mom coma that she cannot be resurrected from until a whole lotta chocolate has been consumed." 

So enjoy these beautiful days of ear infections, diaper rash, and open-mouth kisses from 14-month olds.  Enjoy the freshness of it while it lasts.  And, when you come out of your first Mom coma, think back on this blog post, and eat some chocolate.  And smile.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Givin' Up

Giving up has such a negative connotation.  I'm giving up, throwing in the towel, that's all she wrote, the fat lady has sung.  I hate giving up.  I am thankful that I have an indomitable spirit of hope.  No matter how bad things are, I firmly believe that they are going to get better -- for other people.  I was ready to throw in the towel the other day with this whole blog thing.  But let me start with the beginning of the story, rather than starting in the middle like most of us ADD adults do.

I follow a lovely writer named Mary de Muth that is a published writer with a great web site and this incredible ministry.  I saw that another esteemed person that I follow, Micheal Hyatt, had asked the Tweetdom for names of people with great social platforms.  Mary responded with a few names, and because I like to see what other people are doing with their blogs, I clickety-clicked my way on over to one.  And it was this whole website with blog, speaking calendar, store, resources page, you name it.  And the next name had pretty much the same thing, except she is also in a network of speakers that address women's conferences.  And the next, and pretty much the same for the next. 

After viewing all of this, my big bloggin' balloon was completely deflated.  I thought, "Of all the blogs in all the world, why in the world should I continue mine?"  I don't have a speaking calendar (or speaking engagements) or any books or anything.  So yeah.  Failure with an upsized F.  I facebooked Mary and told her that with all these great writers, I really feel like a ginormous nothing.  But she wrote one statement that made me rethink the whole giving up, throwing in the towel, waiting-for-the-fat-lady-to-quit-singing thing.  She wrote that I am the only one that has my voice.  I am the only one that can say what is in my head.  (Some might consider this a good thing.)  So it's been a few days, but I'm back.  I'm not sure I will ever have this great website with professional photography and an actual webperson, but I will be content to do my thing, say my piece, be my quirky yet lovable self.

So what is it that you want to give up?  What makes you want to give up?  You are an individual and there is no one like you.  I once said this to Oldest Daughter and she quizzically looked at me and said, "Isn't that a song?"  which led to yes, that is a song, FROM BARNEY, but that's not why I said it.  Everyone has a special gift and talent and God will use that to take you to the place of amazing.  So keep on doing what you do, because you are the only person who can do it just like you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Case of Mistaken Identity

It's amazing what you can learn from someone's email.  In fact, I am a little envious of another Terri Brown that I can only assume has a similar email to mine,  I have been receiving emails meant for her for years now.  From these misdirected emails, I know that she regularly visits the dentist, drives a Mini Cooper, and is a medical coder by profession. She also lives in sunny Van Nuys, California, which in my mind kind of makes her a little cooler than me, since I can only reason that tan, skinny, beautiful, Mini Cooper-driving women with beautiful teeth live in Van Nuys, CA. 

So now what if someone decided what kind of person I was based on my emails?  Or my facebook posts?  Or my tweets?  Would they decide I was a person that loves God and really does try to follow Him, regardless of my weaknesses and shortcomings?  Or would the shallow, selfish part of me that I try to fight come out and show its ugliness? 

I heard a song this morning that has inspired me to greatness and I hope you'll listen to it and let it inspire you too.  So this one's for you, Terri Brown of Van Nuys, CA, from Terri Brown, of Jacksonville, FL.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MEdia Choices

One of my favorite things to do is go to camp.  It's right up there with going to the beach for a week.  I really, really love it.  Now, you may think that I go for the proliferation of bugs that invade my life for 5 days, but that's only a side benefit.  The DEET-scented "body spray" is also a big plus.  (Or, in the case of Norman Park, GA, the Badger Balm.  Nothin' like it.)

I love being with the girls that I normally minister to on Wednesdays and Sundays.  We get to spend a whole week together and I get to be a part of their lives for that short period of time.  This last summer I talked to these beautiful girls about media choices and different media in their lives.  From that, I developed a list of questions to gauge their media choices and help them learn to make choices that honor God and their parents.  I run quickly away from legalism, because I want these girls to think and learn and apply God's principles for life on their own.  Students that go to a school, whether public or private, spend more time away from home than they do at home.  Thus, they need to be prepared and equipped with the knowledge to make choices on things that come into their lives.

If I went shopping for a car, I would have some definite ideas in mind for what I wanted this car to be like.  For me, gas mileage is important, safety is important, and of course having an auxiliary port would be super nice.  When I consider what goes in my head, I also need to have some definite ideas about what's going in there.  The first of five questions that I posed to my youth group was this:  Does the activity seen or described in this song, movie, TV show, magazine, website, etc. honor and glorify God?

Consider this when you listen to music, watch TV or movies, or look at something on the Internet.  One song that I used as an example last summer was Kesha's "Your Love is My Drug."  You can read the lyrics for yourself here: We read the lyrics and the girls decided that it did not honor and glorify God.  The interesting thing to me was that it was a unanimous decision -- there was no question in these girls' minds that these were lyrics that would distract their hearts and minds from a sincere desire to follow Christ.  God tells us in the Bible to love Him with all of our hearts, minds, and souls.  Knowing that this is true, since it comes from God's Word, keeping things out that take us away from loving God needs to be a number one priority.

We also looked at a country song, "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)."  It was the unanimous opinion of every girl that this song did not honor and glorify God and it definitely did not honor the girl that is spoken of in the song.  It's also one of my goals that young girls will learn that true worth and value comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ, not from relationships with boys.

Comments?  Questions?  Leave 'em here or facebook me, Terri Brown.  Or tweet at terri_mcg_brown.

More tomorrow... question #2.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Putting Things Off

If there were a prize or a competition for putting things off, I am fairly certain that I would be the winner, or at least in the top 5.  If there were a Procrastination Pageant, I can imagine that the top 5 contestants (if they made it on time) would be subject to questions from the judges (who would inevitably be non-procrastinators) such as:  "A turtle is, by reputation, one of the slowest animals in nature.  How do you think a turtle procrastinates and becomes even slower?"  But I digress. 

This post is really about the opposite of procrastination, which I think is planning.  I have seen, on a few occasions, how planning ahead can make a day go by oh-so-much better and more smoothly.  I decided that I would write down a list of things I would like to finish this year, and thus far this list has pretty much sat on my desk and I look at it on a fairly daily basis.  But looking at a list doesn't make things happen.  A list is an inanimate object that exists to record what you think should happen.  I was sitting with The Boyfriend the other day and thinking about fun things to do.  He, in his organized way, asked what kind of budget we were working with and I said, "Hey, it's a list.  You can put anything on a list."

So, in an effort to do more than write a list, I am going to go ahead and put my MEdia Choices here in blog form.  I did this for a youth camp, but it has turned out to be pretty valuable to a few people, and so I want to share it with the blogosphere.   Another item on my list is to wrangle two speaking engagements for MEdia Choices, so if you or someone you know works with youth and would like to have an awesome, FREE speaker come to your youth group or conference, give me a holla. 

What else is on the list?  Walk two 5K races with Youngest Daughter, read through the Bible, and keep praying about financial aid for Oldest Daughter and Only Son.  I am looking for God to do some huge things!!! 

Do you have a list that you keep putting off?  Why not write it down?  It's the first of twelve steps for us procrastinators.