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Liz's World

Updated: 2018-03-24T21:17:19.911-05:00


I am SO selfish.


I think we all know that deep down we are selfish, ugly creatures who want everyone to be at our beck & call every minute of the day.  We try to cover that, but I think, at heart, deep down, we all just really want the world to revolve around us. I try my best and really make an effort to be joyful & patient & grateful in all things.  And while I often succeed, there is definitely a deficit in my life, usually connected to my family and especially when I am inconvenienced or made to run late.  How dare they!  How quickly my gratefulness goes right out the window when my husband or kids make me have to go out of my way to serve them, wait on them or they make me more than 10 seconds late to something. (Don't I sound like a delight to be around?)  This morning, God used my husband to remind me of my less-than-patient, self-focused nature.  Here's how our morning went.Yesterday, Larry preached at a church in a neighboring town. We planned for me to hold off on grocery shopping for the week 'til after we cashed the paycheck from that. Last night, we discussed that the bank might or might not allow me to cash the check since it was written to him. Rather than risking them not letting me get the money, we decided that I'd follow him to the bank this morning and he could cash it and then hand off the cash to me & he'd head on to work.  (You need to know this info to follow the rest of the story.)So at about 8:15, we left the house.  I was in my PJs in my van and Larry was dressed to the nines in his crisp, starched shirt & ironed pants.  He was just ahead of me on the drive, in his truck.  We didn't reach the end of our neighborhood before my low tire warning light came on.  I grabbed my cell phone from the console & called Larry to ask him to follow me to the gas station so we could put some air in my tires.  But he didn't answer.  Grrrr.  We got to the next stop sign and I honked at him & held up my phone and gestured to it, waving perhaps a little more urgently than was required.  I was frustrated that he didn't immediately answer my call!  I mean, isn't that why we have cell phones?  ANSWER IT when I call you, dude!  After my honk & point moment, I re-dialed his number and he picked it up.  I told him my light had come on and he had me drive around him so he could look at the tires & see which one looked low.  He noted that one seemed a tiny bit lower than the others & told me which gas station to drive to.  He followed behind me making sure I was safe, didn't have a blow out or anything like that.  As I drove, I thought how sweet it was, how gentlemanly to follow slowly behind me and make sure I was okay.When we got to the gas station, he grabbed the (greasy) air hose & drug it around my van, adding air to the appropriate tire.  When that didn't turn off my warning light, he checked the other 3 tires & added a little air to all of them, just in case.  That still didn't shut off my light so we came to the conclusion that the (slight) drop in temperature overnight must've triggered it.  Sigh.  Technology.  My sweet husband now needed to wash his hands & wipe the sweat from his brow (good grief, the humidity!!) and he wanted to buy a drink before he could leave.  I told him I'd go ahead and leave and head to the bank & wait for him there, to which he nodded his approval.When I pulled into my parking spot to wait for him, I pulled out my phone & turned on my data.  I tapped my Facebook app icon and opened a status update screen to type out a brag on my sweet husband.  I wanted my friends & family to know how kind and caring he was, willing to get dirty & wait on his wife, handling a menial task I could've done myself later in the day.  I wanted to point out how thankful I am to have him and how blessed I feel to be his wife.  His tender generous care for me had touched me and I wanted to pay him a publi[...]

Here we go again!


You may remember that last spring (2016) I had a bit of a cancer scare after a mammogram.  (You can read that story HERE.)  When that was all over, the doctor told me in person, then again on the phone, and again in a letter that I was fine for a year.  No sooner follow up was needed.  Of course, this spring came and went and I lost track of time & dates and didn't get my annual mammogram scheduled until June.  Oops!

Once you have had a "suspicious finding" you have to get a diagnostic mammogram & ultrasound for a few years until the doctor declares you able to go back to just a regular mammogram.  (The difference is the number of images they take & awkward positions you must get into to take them.  ha ha!)  So last Monday (June 19) I went in for my tests.

Fortunately, my tumor that they found last year had not changed or grown.  It was still right where we left it with its little metal clip/marker attached.  So that was good.  But then they found a new issue.  The doctor said that it could be one of two things....and after a biopsy last Thursday (June 22) it was declared to be an intraductal papilloma.  While IPs are not typically cancerous, they do tend to turn into cancer if you leave them in the standard treatment is to have surgery & remove them.  {You know...unless you're a daredevil & like to live life on the edge & take a wait and see approach.....but I'm not comfortable with waiting to see if this thing will be cancerous in another 6 months.  NO thanks!}

So today, we went to the surgeon's office & scheduled surgery.  It's a fairly simple outpatient day surgery procedure and from those I have spoken to in the last week, the recovery is not too bad.  I've been told that recovery is only about a week and most of that is just because you have stitches and are sore---not really because you're in horrible pain or anything.

Surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday July 11.  I'm recording this info here so that in years to come I can look back & remember the timeline for all this.

I'm just hoping that this can be my last year to have to do any poking & jabbing & cutting in this area.  I'm kind of all done with that stuff. 

My statement about mental health:


I've thought through this post numerous times but haven't been able to figure out quite the right words or timing to post it. Tonight I'm just going to dive in & say what I'm thinking and I pray it comes out right. I pray that you read this and understand my heart.  I pray that you can really LISTEN and soak it in and absorb what I'm trying to say because it is so heavily, deeply, powerfully engraved on my heart.  This is something I am passionate about. For years now, 4 out of the 5 members of my household have struggled, in one way or another, with a mental health issue. I won't go into detail about which family member deals with which thing. That's personal & I will always strive to protect my family's dignity and safety.  If you know our family personally, you may know the details.  (And if so, please do not comment here with any specifics.  Join me in protecting our family!)  Or you may know us & have NO IDEA that we've been dealing with anything at all.  (If so, surprise!)For years, I've watched people's reactions when they find out the facts about my family.  Learning that this person sees a psychiatrist....or that this one sees a counselor... or this one takes meds every day...or that one has been hospitalized...   Some nod and smile, hug and encourage, understanding full well the depth of what it's like to live with or support someone who deals with a brain chemistry imbalance. (Those people make me want to hug them & invite them into my inner circle for s'mores and late night talks.)  Others ask rude questions or insinuate it's "all in your head".  Others have pointed fingers & asked which side of the family has these issues---were they passed down through genetics?  Others have made a point to talk about how those with faith in their lives shouldn't be dealing with these things, that if we prayed enough or believed strongly enough, we wouldn't have these issues.  And still others turn up their nose, gasp in shock or otherwise cut us from their lives because they believe that somehow having a mental health illness/disorder/issue is something to be ashamed of. As I type this tonight, I am looking back on the past 20 years of having one psychiatric drug or another in my medicine cabinet. Sometimes I've had a combination of several drugs in my medicine cabinet.  I have heard people compare mental health to other chronic illnesses-- diabetes or asthma, for example-- and they have talked about the similarities. Both require long-term medications, continual care by a doctor, potentially a hospitalization now & then to get back on track when things go awry, and taking care of oneself to prevent those "flare ups".  There is so much truth in all of that and I can appreciate the comparisons.But here's the kicker:  no one looks at you funny if you have diabetes.  No one judges you if you have asthma.  No one thinks a person with Crohn's disease is a monster or somehow dangerous.  No one assumes that a person with Cystic Fibrosis is apt to 'snap' and hurt someone. There is no stigma attached to most chronic illnesses.  But there IS to persons who deal with mental illness. Why is that?We all understand when a person has a heart problem that their heart is 'sick'. We all understand that diabetes means a person has a 'sick' pancreas.  We know that having asthma means having 'sick' lungs.  So why can't we accept that mentally ill people have a 'sick' brain?  Why can we understand that those conditions are medical in nature but we look at mental illness as some other sort of thing altogether. Why can't we as a society see that mental illness is just as much an illness, too? The definition of mental illness I most often relate to people is a condition where the chemistry of the brain gets out of whack.  I know it is much more complicated than that, including all sorts of genetic, environmental, and biological factors. [...]

The Sosh Meeds


I've been sucked into the abyss that is social media.

I seem to live and breathe Facebook and Instagram. Every funny, serious, interesting, thought-provoking, deep, light & humorous thing that comes my direction in life appears in some form or fashion in the "sosh meeds."  {which is my silly, cheesy, faux-teenager word for social media when I'm talking to my teen daughter}

I have neglected this blog.
I have neglected time spent face to face with other actual human people.
and worst... I have neglected prayer time. And Bible reading.

I'm a mess, folks.

I know, I know.  Most of us are. And most of us are re-evaluating things in life this week.  It's almost time for a brand new year so everything is suspect and we all feel inclined to wipe out anything that might remotely take away from the beauty of the life we've been given.  Maybe that's what this is.

Sure.  I could throw out my smart phone and disable all my social media accounts.  Perhaps I could move my family into a cabin in the wilderness.  That would do the job.  But I have found that there are GREAT opportunities to connect, to minister, to love, to find (and give) compassion, to laugh, to share, to grieve alongside long-distance friends...all via social media.  So it's not all bad.  But I think, like most of us, I have to find a way to rein that in.  I'm not sure how I'll pull it off, but I'm open to suggestions.

How do you handle it?

Mother of the Year Award


Last weekend, I had a whole discussion on facebook with a number of friends about people being judgemental and nasty to moms.  (Mostly by other moms online, but in public as well.)  I wrote my weekly newspaper column about it and quoted several friends from the Facebook discussion.  We had chatted about all our own perceived 'failures' as a mother, what people say about us, how we all are doing the best we can and need to be able to parent our kids without worrying about anyone else's opinions.  I believed every word of what I said about how rude, mean & catty moms can be to one another. The ultimate "end" to the discussion was the decision among all of us to be kinder and extend grace to other moms, to be careful about being quick to judge and remember how we all feel when others look down their noses at us for whatever they perceive as bad mothering.And then today, I got a reminder of the whole thing.  Only this time, *I* was the judgey mom.  And it took several hours before it hit me square between the eyes.  Here's what happened.This afternoon, my daughter had a counseling appointment.  While waiting in the small waiting room, a mom and her two young children came in.  There is a small table with 2 little chairs, one of those wire frames with beads on the wires and a couple of old children's books & magazines.  (In other words there is hardly anything for a kid to do while they wait.)  The little boy, probably about 7 yr old, walked in, spotted the wire/bead toy and asked the mom if he could play.  She growled "NO!" at him.  That's when I looked up.  I hadn't really paid much attention when they came in, but upon hearing her growl at him, I noticed several things.  Mom's pants said "Wild Love" down the side and were paired with a too small tank top that was splattered with paint as if she'd just stepped down from the ladder where she was painting the bathroom.  Little boy was wearing a sweatshirt & jeans.  Little girl (about 5 yr old) was wearing a spaghetti-strapped sundress.  (It was in the upper 80s outside today.)  Mom checked him in at the window, then walked over & plopped down in a chair with her phone & started playing on it, taking selfies, watching videos, etc. And that's where she remained for the rest of her time in the waiting room.  She never looked up.  Not when her son was HURDLING chairs (I'm not kidding), not when he was using her lanyard and keys like a whip and swinging at his sister with them, not when he broke one of the small chairs, not when he said some mean things to his sister, not when little girl told the boy she'd slap him if he sat in the red chair. (of course he immediately went & sat in it and she walked over to slap him, but he slapped back.  Mom shouted "Stop hitting." from across the room & never looked up.)After brother was called back to talk to his counselor, the little girl, mom & I were the only ones left in the waiting room.  (Sarah had also been called back.)  In an effort to NOT talk to the mom and girl, I was playing a game on my phone.  Mom of course had been on her phone the whole time.  The little girl was in the floor, talking to herself & playing with the wire/bead frame.  She got bored, looked up and eyed her mom, then me, and asked "Why is it so quiet in here?"  I responded that her mom and I are phone addicts.  The mom giggled a bit, but never looked up.  So I put my phone down and talked to the little girl.  Her mom had earlier eyed my shirt & asked if I lived in the town mentioned on my shirt (I do) so I asked the little girl if that's where she lives, and which school she goes to. She briefly talked to me, then said "I don't want to tell you that." so I affirmed that it was a smart choice because I'm a stranger and she probably shouldn't tell me any information.&[...]

Product Review: Baby Foot Original Exfoliant Foot Peel


Warning:  If pictures of feet gross you out, you don't want to read this.  If pictures of gross feet transforming by means of a chemical peel would freak you out, you REALLY don't want to read this.  But if you're curious about how Baby Foot works or you're looking for a product that will REALLY do what it claims to help soften your feet, read on!**************************************************************A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted on Facebook about a product she'd bought online to help with her dry feet.  I am always on the look out for products like this, but have found that most of them fall into the same category.  That is, they are all creams/lotions/body butter type products & if you use them regularly (EVERY NIGHT) they will work.  That's where I lack in product success.  I have good intentions, but I forget to use them after the first few days.  And bam....crusty hooves.That's not just a funny name I just came up with.  It's what my husband has called my feet for the last couple decades.  Isn't that sweet?  Thank God he loves the rest of me!  Here's the thing.  I grew up in the country.  I live in the south.  I'm a barefoot girl.  I pretty much go barefoot 24/7 in the summertime.  I only put on shoes if I'm going somewhere.  And during the school year, I wear shoes all day but take them off the second I get home.  To this day, if anyone in my house has on shoes, they get asked where they're going.  It's like putting on shoes equates dressing up.  ha ha!  So years & years & years of barefoot walking means my entire foot is basically one big callous on top of an older callous.  Layer upon layer of hardened skin.  I know....lovely mental image, right?  {Hang in there....I'll show you the actual thing in a second.  Scary....}So when my friend posted about Baby Foot I had to look into it.  Anything that I've been told about personally by someone I know & trust is worth a look.  I googled it and was SHOCKED and WOWED by the pictures.Pause reading this for a second.  Take a minute and open another window.  I'm serious.  It'll blow your mind.  Do a quick google search for baby foot before and after photos.  It's really shocking.  And disgusting.  In the most satisfying way.Before I continue, I should scare you to death, errr...I mean, show you my "before" pictures.  I should apologize ahead of time.  It's frightening.  Make sure the kiddies aren't around.  They might cry.See what I mean?  I NEEDED this stuff!!So this is Baby Foot.  You can buy it from their own website for $25 plus shipping.  I found this one on amazon for about $23 including shipping.  It comes in a box like this.To use Baby Foot, you first have to soak your feet in warm, soapy water for 15-20 minutes.  Then dry thoroughly and get ready for the process!You slip on these lovely little plastic bag booties.  They're about the size of a gallon ziploc bag.  They come with little tape strips to fold over & tape down.  This will hold them in place on your feet.  They are filled with a lotion/gel stuff.  That's the magic stuff!!And here's the fun part.  Sit or lie down.  For an HOUR.  You really have to sit still & let the gel/lotion/goo inside the booties to work.After an hour, wash the remaining gel off your feet thoroughly & go back to life as normal.  For a few days, you'll feel like the stuff did not work, but then the wild part begins.  I read online that some people had a lag of as much as 5 days after use before the peeling began.  But for me, it started on about day 3.First it was just a little peel.Every day for the next 4-5 days, I peeled a little more.I know.GROSS.  Shudder!  Good grief!But...[...]

Sermon Notes


Nearly 2 years ago I got a new journal notebook for sermon notes. It has 200 pages in it and it is nearly full now.  As I flipped through the pages during church this morning I realized how much of a treasure this notebook is and how many things from it I want to share.  So much truth, beauty.  So, enjoy a brief scroll through some of the high points from the past 2 years of sermons in my life. The sermons have come from various preachers at various churches as well as some speakers at conferences.  This is in no way a compilation of everything written down, but just a sampling of some of the powerful things that have affected my soul.from sermons/lessons given by Robert Burkett & Tom Terry @ Grace Fellowship Church, Flint TX:*We should live as champions, but we may not always see victories. {Luke 9:58, There is no EARTHLY security. If you count on it, you will be disappointed.}*Faith sometimes requires waiting.*God always goes before us. He knows what you're facing. There is no where in the Bible where God retreated.*When God's at work, we often have to move out of our comfort zone. You will never experience victory in Christ until you step out.*When you walk in faith, do you expect something from God?  He will never ask you to do something that you can't do WITH HIM.*How often do we not see our Jericho walls fall because we quit trying on the 6th lap?*We cannot be defeated by Satan unless we throw up our hands in surrender.*Death is just a sign that there was LIFE.*Don't be in bondage to the past.*Faith will lead to works -- not the other way around.*You can't draw water from a dry well.  Fill it with the Word.*Let the mind of the Master master your mind. Then you'll know the mind does matter.*I find that doing the will of God leaves no time to dispute His plan.*Joy busters: unsatisfied expectations, unresolved conflict, unconfessed sinFrom Larry, when he filled the pulpit at a few different churches:*Weak faith is better than no faith. God can work with weak faith.*How God deals with another person & their sins is none of your business.*God's heart has always been in tune with those who are outsiders, less than, ones who can never repay grace extended.*If you want to be closer to God, go where the poor are. They can never repay.*God can handle things -- He does not need our help!From Kim Beckham & Dan Sala, Central Baptist Church, Tyler TX:*You influence your children more by the way you live than the words you use to teach them.*What you teach your children to love is more powerful than anything they learn in systemic education.*God has compassion for us in our frailty.*Forgiven people should be forgiving people.*Discontentment:  We will never run out of things to see that we want!*Society constantly changes what it values.*When hearts get hardened, doubts come.  You can ALWAYS go back to God.*When you see someone struggling:1.  pray--discernment & wisdom2.  talk to them about your own experience if you are done dealing with it emotionally, spiritually, etc.  Speak truth in LOVE.3.  physically walk the journey with them.*Make relationships when things are good so that you have an avenue & a voice to speak to people when things get rough.*Ministry means being willing to be interrupted.*1 John 4:20:  If you claim to love God but hate a fellow man, you are a liar.  You can't love God & hate sinners.  We can't choose who to extend grace & God's love to.*Submission:  love/service/honor given out of respect for another person, even when they don't deserve it.*It is hard to share the joy of Christ when you are in a hurry to grab everything the world has to offer you.*You guard what is of great value or importance.*To determine the status of your heart, examine what's coming out of your mouth.*No matter what we, Christians, are going through in the world, it[...]

Foundation Comparison & Review: Avon, Maybelline and Younique


This morning I was feeling ambitious and decided to do a little comparison of 3 varieties of foundation I had on hand.  I compared these three.First we have Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse in classic ivory.  It comes in a small glass jar & you apply it with your fingertips.  It's a mousse/cream foundation.  This is the foundation I've been wearing most recently.  I get it at my local CVS for about $7-9 depending on sales.  {Note:  there is also a Maybelline Dream Smooth compact/sponge version of this product that I actually liked much better for the coverage but it appears to have been discontinued, so I switched to this mousse version last fall.}Next we have Younique's Mineral Touch liquid foundation in Organza.  This color has been out of stock for months & months, so it's been a long time coming.  When it's in stock, it sells out rapidly so you have to know someone who sells to get the heads-up when it'll be available and buy quickly or you'll miss it.  Several friends of mine sell Younique and I've seen dozens of videos online that made me want to try it.  But more about those videos in a minute.  It is $39 (plus shipping, which makes it $48 total.)  You must use a foundation brush to apply this.  Younique sells one ($32) but I found one that I like at CVS for $15.  So the foundation itself is nearly $50 (with shipping) & the brush is around $15 (if you get a drug store version).And last we have Avon's Anew Age-Transforming 2-in-1 compact foundation.  It's got a wrinkle cream component built into the foundation so that's where the 'Age-Transforming 2 in 1' part comes in.  This one is in the Ivory shade.  It's in a compact and you apply it with a small sponge.  I paid about $8 for this one, but like the Maybelline one, the price varies slightly depending on sales.*********************************************************************************I need to make a couple disclaimers here.1.  I sell Avon, so I clearly went into this with the hopes of proving Avon to be the best product.  They have a good reputation.  They're affordable.  Plus anyone who buys their products earn me money!  Local ladies: let me know if you need an Avon lady!  Or visit my website:  I have tons of friends who sell Younique and I've seen a million videos like these that made me want to try their foundation.  and  I really figured it was a "too good to be true" sort of deal, so I bought it out of a cross between skepticism and curiosity.  After all, this girl is getting older every minute and my pores are widening. Younique claims to fix my pores and make me look 21 with their magic foundation.3.  Maybelline/Cover Girl/Loreal & other drug store brands are generally my go-to foundations because they are most readily available and I can look at them in the store to make sure they are the right shade for me without worries about having to return something if it's NOT the right shade.  So while I order a lot of Avon products from myself, foundation & powder are items that I typically buy in person for the color matching issue.  Plus, I suppose, if I get one that doesn't quite cut it for me, I don't feel bad about tossing a product that I spent under $10 on.And a little info about my needs for a foundation:I am generally a Classic Ivory shade in all foundations.  Pretty much a glowing white girl, but not quite pasty porcelain doll white. I have pink/blue undertones (not yellow).  I burn easily, peel and go back to glowing white.  I have combination skin.  I'm mostly dry but have times when I get oily, so I can't buy a product solel[...]

I don't have cancer!


I have walked through a breast cancer scare these past couple weeks.  All my friends and family already know this story, but I am hoping that, by documenting it here someone else will find it when they are frantically googling like I was a couple weeks ago. My hope is that they'll find a bit of comfort in knowing someone else has "been there, done that" before.  If you are that person, feel free to email me privately if you have questions beyond what I answer here.  My email address is at the top right of this page.My husband's mom and grandmother both had breast cancer years ago.  When I was about 25, he started asking me to get a mammogram to set his mind at ease. I had to explain that they don't do mammograms on 25 year olds unless there is a problem suspected.  So for the past 15 years, he's anxiously awaited a time when I was old enough to get it done. I, on the other hand, was a little less enthusiastic about the test.  But I went anyway because I'm a rule follower and you're supposed to start doing these lovely tests when you're 40.  I turned 40 back in November.  So on March 8, I went in for my first mammogram ever.I had been told ahead of time that it's not uncommon for first timers to be called back for additional images. Since the doctor who looks at your mammogram Xrays doesn't have a previous year's records to compare to, they have a tough time determining what's normal for you. So I went in knowing that was a possibility.  While doing the test, the tech showed me on the screen where one breast had an area of dense tissue -- a very common thing where you have spots in your tissue that are simply thicker than the rest.  It doesn't "mean" anything, but sometimes the radiologist will ask for more magnified pictures of that area to be sure there's nothing hidden in that thicker tissue. The tech told me not to panic if they called for more pictures in a few days.  She made sure to tell me that she didn't think there was anything wrong, but she wanted to give me a heads-up so I wouldn't be concerned.  But she said "If you get a letter, it's even better!"  So in my mind, that meant a phone call in a few days meant there was reason for concern (or more pictures) and a letter meant everything was okay.Almost a week passed without any word from them, so I assumed everything was fine. But then I got a letter in the mail.  I almost threw it away, thinking that a letter meant everything was normal. I almost threw it away because I felt like it was just going to say things were fine, but I went ahead and opened it.  I scanned down the page looking for the words "normal" or "everything is okay" but instead found that there was "reason for further evaluation" of my right breast. It instructed me to call ASAP to schedule a diagnostic mammogram.  I immediately called & scheduled it for Good Friday because I was off work that day. It was about a week and a half out, but it was a convenient time. While scheduling, the lady on the phone slipped & mentioned the "suspicious finding" on my chart. It worried me briefly but I convinced myself that's probably just what they call any need for more images. But in the days leading up to the diagnostic appointment, I couldn't help but get nervous that there was something more going on.Good Friday came and I went in for the tests. I had been told my husband could be there to hear the news with me, so he sat in the waiting room for 2 1/2 hours while I paraded around the back of the office among other half-dressed women, all wringing our hands and praying nothing was wrong.  I had the mammogram first.  I was positioned in several odd poses, compressed in all sorts of crazy ways while the tech circled me & adjusted the machine over and over. When she swung a screen around to se[...]

Spring Break 2016


Last weekend I made myself an extremely ambitious spring break to-do list. I always do better when I have a list to check off.There were 12 items on the list. There were cleaning items. There were organizing items. There were lying around & resting & reading items. As it turns out, I crossed off 6 items & part of 2 others. Of the things that I DIDN'T do:1. Bathrooms: organize inside the cabinets. {Who really looks inside those cabinets anyway? I'll deal with the mess this summer when I have more time to clean!}2. Clean off the kitchen table & sweep under it. {Really, it's never used for food these's a storage unit. Perpetual problem for us!}3. Mopping {I'm going to try to do this one tomorrow, actually.}4. Finish season 1 of Gilmore Girls {I watched and enjoyed the pilot episode, but haven't made it past that yet.}5. Read all of The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks. {I'm about 1/2 done. I've been too busy to read much this week. But I am enjoying it, so it will be finished!}6. Fold & put away all the laundry. {Umm...yeah. Nope. Hasn't happened. But there is plenty of it to do if anyone wants to come do it for me.}BUT I have accomplished some other things.  For example: 1.  Sam got in some behind the wheel driving time for his driver's ed course.2.  We fed a friend's dogs every day while they traveled. (Blogger says traveled only has 1 L in it, but it looks weird to me like that.  Seems like it should have 2 Ls.)3.  We watched several episodes of Friends.4.  Sarah slept at a friend's house 5 of the last 8 nights.  That means a lot of getting her to or from someone's house.5.  I had a lunch date with Sam, who ran some errands with me one day.6.  I had a lunch date with Sarah, who ran errands with me another day.7.  Sarah and I both got haircuts.8.  I washed & dried about 10 loads of clothes.  (But alas.... #6 from the first list.)9.  We cleaned both bathrooms.  Ya know...from the baseboards up anyway.  (Just don't look inside the cabinets.)10.  Cleaned & re-seasoned 3 cast iron skillets.11.  Changed all the sheets in the house.12.  Visited the new Goodwill store in town.13.  Did the dishes daily.14.  Handed out several Avon books to new people.15.  And last but not least, I slept a little later than usual EVERY day. I could keep going, but you get the idea.  I may not have accomplished all the cleaning & organizing that I'd hoped to, but by golly, I got some stuff done.  It might not have included a beach or sunshine.  (Heck, I'm in Texas...the land of a thousand floods this week!)  But it included a bit of rest, time with my kids and some downtime.Back to the grind Monday![...]

IF:Gathering 2016


A movement began a few years ago, led by a sweet lady named Jennie Allen in the Austin area.  I don't really have the whole history & background on what made them choose the name "IF" but it is basically a smaller version of Women of Faith.  It's a Christian women's ministry.  While there is an IF:Gathering every year in Austin, the ministry stretches beyond that.Local groups around the globe (called IF:Local) meet and watch the live stream version of IF:Gathering.  There is also IF:Equip which is a year-round, day to day Bible study you can sign up for via their website.  There are also IF:Tables where you have mini IF:Local get togethers with your local church group or ladies in your community where you eat dinner together & use the IF questions provided to you to create a Christ-centered conversation.  It's a whole big thing, basically.Last year a local church hosted an IF:Local event on the day of the IF:Gathering in Austin.  I planned to go but then came down with the flu, so I watched the live stream at home.  Fortunately my family wanted to stay far away from me that weekend so they left me alone to listen, pray, worship & digest all the speakers' messages and to sing (quietly, with a croaky voice) in the privacy of my bedroom.  So this year when that same local church began talking about hosting another IF:Local event, I quickly bought my ticket.  That event was last night & today.  I took lots of notes and wanted to share a few tidbits from different speakers throughout the weekend, but decided it was a little too much for a Facebook post.  Although I suppose it wouldn't shock any of my FB friends to see a 400-mile long post.  Let's just be honest.  I talk.  A lot.  So this blog post was born.  If you missed attending the conference or just don't know what IF is like, this are some of the high points that I took away from each of the speakers I heard.Jo SaxtonHere is her facebook page: you're looking for someone who can take a world of chaos & bring it into order, look at Jesus.He is the redeemer of your life.  When you think about the cross, take it personally.The word redemption means to buy back what was lost.He is the one who restores your purpose.Jennie AllenIF FounderHere is her facebook page: have to put your dirt out for Jesus to wash you.Eugene ChoHere is his page: tomb is still empty!Are you more in love with talking about & singing about Jesus than actually following and living for Him?5 fears in every human being:  success, power, $$, popularity, beautyThere are so many voices seeking to twist & distort the words of God -- you must regularly hear the voice of God (prayer, reading the Bible) to overcome all the other voices.The grass might be greener on the other side, but use that revelation as a sign to water the grass you're standing on more!Shelley GiglioHere's her twitter page:'s interesting that Mary Magdalene didn't immediately recognize Jesus when she first saw Him after the resurrection. How often does God do something in our lives and we don't even see Him?Your words and testimony are powerful because of what you have seen & experienced. People don't seek help, encouragement, friendship in people who are just speaking from words in a book or platitudes.Jen HatmakerIt's probably wrong to say, but she's my favorite.  I seriously feel like she & I could be sisters or best friends or separated at birth.  I want to go hang out on her porch and just talk.  Every day.Here's her website:[...]

Book Review: Hunger Games


I started reading this book a few weeks ago at school.  I had a sick child at home today and we were only a couple chapters from the end in class, so while he rested, I finished the book.****Spoiler alert:  There will be some details about the book in this review, so if you haven't previously read this book, be aware that you will learn some details of the story if you proceed.***Disclaimer #1:  I am not typically a fan of sci-fi, fantasy or dystopian style books/movies, so my keep that in mind.  That means I am not the biggest fan of movies/books like The Princess Bride, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight...and so on.  I have friends who have almost disowned me for this (ha ha), but it's just not my cup of tea.  Since discussing this with a few friends recently, I have really been introspective, trying to determine why these styles don't do anything for me and I think I have come to a conclusion about it.  {Note: this has nothing to do with the book, but I am explaining so you have an understanding of where I'm coming from.}When I was a little girl, there was plenty of pretend play. I dressed up.  I played house.  I built forts from sheets and blankets.  I mothered baby dolls.  I built elaborate doll houses from cardboard boxes.  I wrote stories.  I drew and colored.  I took dishes and toys outside for tea parties.  I wandered in the woods, floating Barbie dolls on boats (styrofoam meat trays) in the creek.  I played school with my sisters.  But the thing is, all of that was based on mimicking behaviors I had seen in real life.  All of my pretending and imaginative situations of my entire childhood were based in reality.  Having taught preschool for five years myself, I realize now that is very common for young children.  Many children base their pretend play off things they have seen in the world around them.  I had no context for princesses or dragons or fairies or monsters or other things of that nature. I never played pretend with situations I couldn't see replicated in real life.  It's just not how I was wired I guess.  Or maybe my parents were never interested in stories or movies like that, so I never saw it in their entertainment choices?  I don't know but that's how things were when I was little. So as an adult, it seems that has rolled over into my entertainment choices.  I don't mind fictional books and movies, but if it's so far-fetched that I know it'll never happen in real life, I have a VERY HARD TIME staying focused on it.  The second it goes into something that isn't potentially possible in life, I find my mind wandering, I get drowsy.  I have to constantly pinch myself to come back to the story. It's like there is such a disconnect for me that I have to force myself to stick it out.  And sometimes I do.  Other times I walk away.  There is nothing WRONG with these stories, they just don't hold my attention or entertain me.  When my family wanted to see the new Star Wars movie on Christmas Day, I went. It wasn't awful, but I would've been just as satisfied sleeping through it.  I would never have bothered to see it if it weren't for my family.  I hate to use the words "dumb" or "stupid" or "weird" because that sounds so judgmental and I know lots of perfectly wonderful, highly intelligent people who loved the movie.  But for me, it was really umm.... dumb, stupid, weird.  I left listening to my family cheer and laugh and talk about particular scenes.  I left thinking "Eh.  Whatever.  Now, can we talk about something real?"So, with that in mind, I just could not imagine enjoying anything about[...]

Mid-life crisis, anyone?


People who know me are still giggling.  I shocked their socks off a few weeks ago when I posted a picture on Facebook of my new tattoo.  Most of them would never peg me as being the owner of inked skin.  I guess I just don't look the type.  But on November 14, a few days after my 40th birthday, I jumped into my "over the hill" years with my first (and likely only, ever) tattoo. If you've never had a tattoo done and you're curious about the process, or if you're interested in possibly having one, this post is for you. I wanted to journal the entire tattoo experience, so come along and join me! About 3 or 4 years ago, I started thinking about getting a tattoo.  I mentioned it on Facebook and all those same people who were shocked I did it all laughed.  They swore that I'd never go through with it.  My mom crossed her fingers that I'd change my mind, I think.  But once the hoopla died down, they started showering me with info and advice.I can't remember exactly where the desire started or what the impetus was, but once I got the tattoo itch, there was no turning back.  I started thinking about what sort of design I'd want and where I'd put it on my body.  I wanted somewhere that a) didn't hurt TOO much and b) would be a spot that would be covered by clothing 95% of the time, so that I could hide it at work or when I am around someone who might not be entirely comfortable with tattoos.  BUT I also wanted it in a place where I COULD show someone the tattoo if I wanted to -- without having to take off clothes or reveal too much skin.  AND, if I was going to do it, I wanted it to be meaningful and special -- not just some random image chosen from a wall of designs at some random hole in the wall tattoo shop.  That's a hefty burden for one little tattoo.  So for the next several years, I put it off, saying that I'd get the tattoo for my 40th birthday.I created a Pinterest board of possible tattoo ideas.  I looked at tattoo pain charts.  (and wondered WHY anyone would put one THERE!!)  I researched local tattoo shops.  I talked to people who had tattoos and looked at a million tattoo pictures online searching for inspiration.  It didn't take long for me to narrow down my search of designs to these three.  I knew I wanted this basic design, but with "Larry" in place of "Love".I loved the idea of the heart made with the curvy, swirly cursive L.  I loved that it was still girlie and dainty looking.  And I liked the idea of paying tribute to my 20+ year marriage by putting Larry's name in the heart.  The last picture (above) ended up being my final choice inspiration picture.Earlier this year, it dawned on me that THIS was the year I'd turn 40.  That meant I had to get serious about this if it was really going to happen.  I located an email address for the particular shop I planned to use and emailed a pic of the design to them, asking how pricey it would be, how long it would take to do the tattoo, etc.  I sat on that information for about six months.  In early October I mentioned the tattoo to Larry (for the millionth time) and he surprised me by saying he wanted to get a tattoo as well.  I think my reaction was "What??????????"  Until that time, he had never seemed overly interested in having one himself, so it was a surprise!  Plus, he is not a big fan of pain.  At all.  So I wondered how  he'd handle things.  We decided we'd do it together!  As the day drew near, it got a little scary & nerve-wracking that this was really happening.  But I was also very excited!Saturday, November 14 was the big day.  When we arrived at th[...]

A whole new world


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420"> Alright.  So this post is not about a Disney movie, but the song certainly fits. After years of recognizing that he has hearing issues, Larry finally admitted to his doctor at his last check up that he thought maybe he needed a hearing test.  As a little boy, he had lots of ear infections and there was some damage done to his hearing.  Over the years, it's been clear that he has some problems, but he's accommodated for it by turning his head to the "good side" or positioning himself on the right side of persons he's talking to.  But it's gotten gradually worse in the last few years.  In his job, he spends about 80% of his days interviewing people, talking on the phone, needing to hear he knew it was time to look into it.Yesterday, he went to the ENT who did Sam's ear surgeries when he was little and had a hearing test.  We teased that he'd go into the same little pediatric hearing test booth & get to watch the robotic monkey that squeals & claps its cymbals together when you prove that you've heard a sound for the audiologist.  I think his test was a little more mature in nature, but wouldn't it be fun if they did that for adults, too?When he left the appointment, he called me and stated that the doctor said he needs hearing aids.  Plural.  Both ears.  Today I went with him for the appointment where they fitted him for the aids.  (Can I just call them aids?  Is that politically correct?  I guess it's my husband so I can call them whatever I want!  It's a lot to type out if I have to write "hearing aids" every time.  Perhaps I'll just call them HA.  Or not.  It might look like I'm making light of things if I say he's getting his HAs.)When we arrived today, we were seated near 3 other couples.  All of them were in their 70s.  The receptionist who was calling to make appointments (likely for other 70 year olds) was having to speak REALLY loudly into the phone and we had fun giggling about that.  It's kind of a scary when you have to deal with something serious like hearing loss, but our warped senses of humor helped us.The first office we went to was a man who was sort of an educator about the different types of aids.  He explained how the cheaper end ones are mostly for "hermits"---people who are at home the vast majority of the time, have little social interaction, really only need to be able to hear the TV or maybe an occasional phone call.  They also work well for people with a very mild hearing loss.  Larry's hearing loss and lifestyle, however, don't fit that category.  His loss is in the moderate to severe level in his left ear & moderate in his right.  The educator explained a lot of things about hearing loss that I never knew.  Did you know the brain eventually quits trying to hear certain sounds/pitches if you have a loss that goes untreated for years?  So even if you get hearing aids at that point, you'll never be able to hear those pitches/tones.  There was a lot of interesting info!  Oh, and he mentioned the cost, too.  Ouch.Then we moved into the next room where he was actually fitted for his aids.  It was fun to watch him try on the aids for the first time.  The audiologist was talking and his eyes got big and he smiled, saying how surprising it was to hear everyone so clearly.  He said it was 100% different right away.  He was shocked that things sounded so much better immediately.  When she took them out to adjust something he said "Give it back!!"  [...]

Dear ex-foster child:


I saw you today.

We talked a bit. It was awkward and a little strained. We both wanted to talk, but words didn't come easily. We talked about the day, about school, about whatever we could.  I longed to squeeze your frame and tell you how much it hurt to let you go.  But I tried to be the adult and continue the conversation light-heartedly and smile.  I hope my eyes told you that I love you.

I loved you then.  I love you now.

It's been 8 years since you moved out and I guess I'm still not completely healed.  I mean, I think I am.  But I'm not.  My heart still aches.  I suppose it always will.  I still see you curled in my lap, tears running down your cheeks as we tried to distract ourselves with a Scooby-Doo movie.  Neither of us were really watching it, but we needed the background noise.  I sniffled & kissed the top of your head a hundred times and whispered "I love you.  I love you.  I love you." over and over.  I wasn't sure if I'd ever see you again and I wanted to make sure you knew.  And wouldn't ever forget.  It was as if I said it over and over it would somehow soak into your pores and stay locked inside you forever.

When you and your brother left, I didn't think I'd ever stop hurting.  I guess I haven't.  It's like a death, really.  You don't ever forget.  You just learn how to move on with your life.  I have.  I don't dwell on it all the time.  But now and then, it hurts just as fresh as it did then.  I know it hurt you far more to move again.  Being uprooted, switching schools, learning a new place, making new friends, getting comfortable in a new home.

It makes me so happy to know that you're nearly grown and you're doing so well.  I know it should make me happy that you barely remember us.  You were so little when you left.  I get it.  You've grown so much since then and you're really home now.  That's as it should be.  They've raised you and done a beautiful job of it.  You're healthy, smart, happy.  That makes me so richly, abundantly joyful.

There are still drawings hanging in my kitchen, right where you hung them 8 years ago.  I have never had the heart to take them down.  Maybe removing the magnets and putting them away means you weren't ever mine, even if for a little while.  And I don't want to give you up completely.  For a little while, you were my child.  One of your pictures made in preschool while you were here still hangs in a frame.  I'm proud of who you are and what you've become.  Preschool was ages ago and high school is your home now.  Hours away from here.  With your family and your friends.

I hope you know that you'll always be a part of my life, even if I'm not in yours.  And I hope, as you fall asleep tonight, you can still hear me whispering "I love you.  I love you.  I love you."

Some random thoughts and time to catch up!


Once upon a time, I loved blogging.  Writing was therapy to me.  It still is, but I don't attend my sessions much anymore.I wrote this blog and read about 100 others.  Literally nearly a hundred.  Check the list of blogs on the right side of this page that I read.  Maybe it's not 100, but it's a LONG list.  But look at that list & see if you notice anything similar.  See the date marked under each of those blog names?  It tells how long it's been since their last post.  Apparently those once avid bloggers have fallen into the same trap I have.  Social media.  It takes blogging & smashes it into short, much quicker little bites.  You get blurbs about their lives there, snapshots of their kids, but not much depth.  (Usually anyway.)While I love social media & use it EVERY SINGLE DAY I wonder if like so many other things in life these days, we're all living too fast.  We need smart phones so we can be connected ALL THE TIME.  We take pictures & post them of everything we do.  We need drive-thru restaurants to be FAST.  We need the microwave because we don't have the patience to cook anything that takes more than 2 minutes.  Everything, every day, all day long, has to go fast fast fast fast.  In fact, I wonder how many of you opened this post, saw a lot of words & sighed because it would take more than 30 seconds to read.  Or how many clicked out of the page altogether & missed reading this?So I'm going to make a step toward trying to do better on this myself.  I am going to set a reminder in my phone (yeah, I see the irony!) to post here at least once a week.  {And yes, I just spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how to set that on my phone, which led to me reading a couple of texts, googling something and checking facebook.  Yikes.  Have to start right here at home for sure!}  So here's the latest on us! School resumed about 4 weeks ago.  The kids are getting settled into their new classes & routines.  I'm getting set in mine.  Time for an update on us.  I'll start at the top of our family & work down the ranks. Larry and I are doing great!  Not much changes day to day for Larry since his schedule and routine don't alter with the change of the school year or the start/end of the summer.  So for now, he is just plugging along as usual.  His job keeps him busy.  Today we went on our September date, which is where the picture above was taken.  He got to choose a movie and a place to eat for his birthday month, so we went to the local Studio Movie Grill.  It's a little pricey, but it's a fun experience.My school year began August 17th.  After a REALLY FUN week of in-service with an incredible staff at my school, we began our year and it's been a great one so far.  Of course there are always bumps along the way when you work with junior high kids, but all in all, it's been great.  We are all gearing up for October.  Lots of fun things coming up!  And October always seems to pass so quickly.  When it's over, we'll be knocking on the door of November and December and all the holidays...and before you know it, half the school year is over already.  I know...maybe I'm rushing things a bit, but time passes so quickly!  I've read a couple of books since school began that were really good and have enjoyed my Saturday mornings to sleep late.Savannah began her 2nd year of college in August.  She is enjoying her classes and working at a local vet's office.  She really is suited to w[...]

Summer 2015 in Review


For years now, I have ended every summer feeling frazzled and irritated, unrested and not ready to give up the break from work & school.  I've perpetually over-scheduled myself for years during the summer which means when the summer ends, I don't feel like I've had a summer at all. 

So this year, when summer began I made a specific point to NOT SCHEDULE ANYTHING for the entire summer.  I didn't want to plan on any day trips or museum visits or well...anything.  I wanted to finally find out what summer looks like when you don't have something written on every single day of the calendar.

Don't worry.  We didn't just sit in the house every day all summer long and never did ANYTHING.  We went swimming.  And ran errands.  And shopped a little.  And ate at restaurants.  And visited friends.  And watched movies.  But it was all done spontaneously whenever we felt like doing it.  And THAT, my friends, made all the difference in the world!  I couldn't do this year-round because I really thrive on having a schedule and a routine with structure.  But from now on this is what my summers will look like if I can pull it off!

The summer of 2015 looked like this for us:

The kids and I have watched 8 seasons of Friends.  (Season 9 is in the mail on its way now.  Yes I know it's on Netflix but I prefer to watch it on DVD because I have been collecting the seasons for years & want to be able to go back & re-watch or loan them to friends occasionally.)

Larry and I took a weekend trip away for our anniversary.

Sarah spent the night with friends several times and went on a weekend trip with a friend's family.

Sam has fished more times than I can count and has been to my parents' house to help kill and slaughter hogs several times.  {Yes, we're THAT country.}

I went to Dallas one weekend to see Kari Jobe and Christine Caine.

I've been to lunch with a couple girlfriends just because we could.

I did three days of in-service at my school in late July.

I've slept late and taken naps.  (Well, not LATE really, but later than I sleep during the school year.)

Sam went to athletic training camp 4 days a week for most of June & July, then began 2-a-day football practices last week.

Sarah started band 2-a-days the first week of August.

Savannah got a new job at a veterinarian clinic in June and loves it.  She has also done lots of sitting:  baby, dog and house.  She is working on applications for NEXT Fall's college choices.

Larry filled in for a pastor at a church in his hometown several times.

I subbed at the preschool where I used to work twice.

I got a new (to me) mini-van that I love.  In fact, I'm going to pick up the license plates for it tomorrow.

I've read several books.

It's been a lazy, fabulous, wonderful summer.  I will miss the leisure of sleeping later and having a lot of down time, but this summer of fabulousness is drawing to a close.  It's been a great one!  Until next year..........

Stag Leap Country Inn -- Deer Haven cabin


Last year for our 20th anniversary, Larry and I went back to our first home: Nacogdoches, TX.  That is the small college town in east Texas where we lived when we got married.  You can read about that trip HERE.  We try to make an effort to take a short overnight or weekend trip every year for our anniversary, but after twenty years of the same basic trip over & over, we wanted to do something different.  {Usually, we go somewhere, stay in a hotel--almost always a Holiday Inn Express, visit 1-2 local sights & then come home.}  So this year, I asked around on Facebook to see if anyone could suggest a semi-local place to go that was a little different.  After lots of suggestions, I settled on a place that looked really neat.  Ironically, it was back in Nacogdoches, but the place we stayed couldn't have been more different than a Holiday Inn Express.Friday, we left home about lunchtime and after a short stop for lunch on the way, arrived at Stag Leap in Nacogdoches.  It's about five miles out of town.  This sweet little sign greets you at the main house driveway.The owners met us at the door of the main house to welcome us and gave us directions to our cabin, which was about 2 1/2 miles down the road, totally secluded from the rest of the world.  Seriously, friends, my troubles melted away when we turned down this driveway.......and pulled up in front of this sweet little cabin.This front porch.  Oh my soul.  That rocking chair was just about my favorite place to be all weekend, right beside my sweet husband who was fond of that swing.  On the side of the cabin, there was this little patio area with a grill, table and chairs, and a wonderful, deep jacuzzi.  Oh the time spent there, staring at the stars, relaxing!The front yard area was spacious, tree lined and SO quiet.The side and back yards were equally wide-open & peaceful.The driveway leading to the property (which was closed by a gate at the end) is wayyyy over there.Backyard views:And later in the evening, the front yard & front of the cabin:The interior did not fail to wow us, either!  The owners had come over a few hours prior & turned on the ceiling fans and A/C, which was so very welcome since it was 100+ degrees outside.  Everything inside looked just like (or even better!) than what we saw on the website.The living room area:This little book was by the phone.  It included brochures for all sorts of tourist attractions in town, maps to restaurants, schools, churches and just about anything else you could imagine needing during your stay.There was a full-sized pull-out Murphy bed in this pretty cabinet.  (We didn't use it, but it was neat to see that it was available for guests if they had children with them.)The TV came equipped with satellite TV, which was charmingly set to an easy-listening station when we arrived.  There was a loveseat, recliner and gas fireplace as well.Also in the living room area, there was a chest full of board games.And the TV cabinet was full of movies and books to enjoy during your stay.The kitchen was awesome!  A fridge full of breakfast foods, cabinets full of dishes, towels, utensils, a sweet little dining set.  You could almost get away with never leaving the cabin all weekend!As you can see in the pic above, the bathroom was right off the main living area.  Let's just pretend that the seat to the toilet is down.  :)The bedroom was also right off the main living area, through a door to the right of the bathroom.  (There was also a door tha[...]

How ProBio5 has helped my IBS


NOTE 1:  This post contains the word poop quite a few times.  It is necessary for the explanation of the product I am talking about & is handled in a mature, medical sort of fashion.  If that makes you squeamish or grosses you out, you may want to skip this post.NOTE 2:  I am NOT selling this product.  I am not affiliated with Plexus in any way other than being a buyer of their products.  This review is simply because I have been very impressed with the way Probio5 has worked for me and I wanted to share my experience. I know a lot of people who deal with tummy issues that it might help as well!Those of us who battle tummy troubles often don't want to discuss it because quite honestly, it makes people uncomfortable and therefore makes us feel more so like we have a dread disease.  It's embarrassing enough to have to deal with issues that give us gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc. without having to talk about it & watch people squirm.  So most of us DON'T talk about it.  It's weird so we avoid it at all costs.  Sometimes, even with our doctors.  Tests & procedures relating to intestinal problems are not pleasant so we suffer in silence to avoid it all.Or at least that's the case for me!  So, here we go:  the first time I've talked publicly about a very private, not-so-nice topic.  But I'm putting myself on the line in hopes that other people who suffer will eventually find this blog post and get help from their doctors or the right supplements & products.  For me, that magic product is ProBio5 from Plexus.  It has changed so much for me!For most of my adult life, I have battled IBS.  I know I had symptoms and issues off an on as a child & into my teen years but it became a bigger problem in my 20s and 30s.  From what I've read, that's pretty common among IBS patients.  I remember my dad talking about his "nervous stomach" when I was a kid and I guess I just assumed I inherited that from him.  IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is the umbrella term that GI doctors give to a wide variety of symptoms that affect sufferers in different ways.  Generally, once they rule out big, major, life-threatening stuff, they call the rest of us with GI issues IBS patients.  IBS means that your GI tract is very sensitive and will respond to diet and stress in a yucky way.  It could mean constipation, gas, bloating, explosive diarrhea, frequent potty trips or a host of other symptoms.For me, IBS means that I poop at least 10-12 times a day.  (Yes, I'm totally serious about that number.) Some of those times are the very urgent, goosebumps raising on my arms, sweating & running to the potty NOW type of poops.  That usually happens if I'm under a lot of stress or have eaten a food that has flared up my gut.  But even without these "no-no" foods or major stress, going to the bathroom a million times a day is just part of my life. I have a list of foods that I know I CANNOT eat at all because I will be in the bathroom before I finish what's on my plate.  Other foods also cause trouble, but not quite as violently.  Stress can cause symptoms.  Medicines can cause trouble for some people.  For me, ANY food/drink with fake sweeteners cause symptoms. In general, IBS makes me go to the potty a LOT & can be triggered by a number of things.For most people, pooping happens once in the morning upon waking and maybe once more later in the day.  Their poops are typically consistent both in [...]

What's Going on in Liz's World?


Today was the kids' last day of school, so I wanted to do a quick update on what their lives look like these days.SAVANNAH's last day of her first year of college was actually a couple of weeks ago.  She is at our local junior college on a full ride academic scholarship.  She has done very well this year.  She ended the year with a 4.0 GPA.  She thought she had her eye set on the school she would transfer to a year from now when she's done with junior college but her sights have changed a bit.  She would still love to go to that school (in Ohio) but she's opened her options up a little bit.  She is looking into some other schools that offer similar programs but are perhaps a little closer to home or cheaper.  Right now, she's got about 5 or 6 schools all over the country with strong animation programs that she's considering.  Unfortunately, none of them are in Texas and this mama is already struggling with that separation.  Sigh.A few days before school got out, she found out that her incredible, flexible, well-paying, wonderful part time doctor's office job is ending on June 5th.  She was devastated.  {I should note:  She was not fired.  They just need to hire someone full-time to do her job, so they're laying her off.}  Since that time, she's been looking for another part-time job.  She can work full-time this summer and would really love doing so, but needs a place that understands she will have to drop back on hours in the fall when school starts back up.  But she needs this place to also understand that she will still need enough hours to pay her bills (car, insurance, cell phone.)  At this point, she's a week away from unemployment and has not found a new job.  She is actually considering living off her savings (she has plenty, really) for the summer and just doing a lot of babysitting to fill in the gaps.  Then in the fall, she plans to go back to the work-study office on campus and will try to get a campus job.  The joys of adulthood & responsibility!SAMUEL finished 9th grade today.  This year he was in Pre-AP (honors) English.  I think he took the class to prove to himself that he could do it.  And while it was hard sometimes, he made it through the year with passing grades!  Of course, he decided by this spring that while it was nice, he didn't think he wanted to do that again next year.  ha ha!  He also did a bit of clawing his way to the finish line with Algebra, but again, finished the year with passing grades, so we'll take it!Sam has had a fun year.  He played football in the fall, ran track in the spring and then did spring football after track season was over.  Last summer, he went to a training camp with the athletics department 4 days a week all summer & he plans to do the same this summer as well.  When he was in between sports at school, he stayed after school 2-3 days/week to work out in the weight room.  He has LOVED the year.  Larry & I, however, can't figure out where this fitness-crazed kid came from.  Heaven knows neither of us are gym rats.  (But maybe we could take some lessons from him!)SARAH finished 8th grade today.  Yikes.  This fall I'll have my BABY going to high school.  Her 8th grade year has been good.  She's stretched her wings and made a lot of new friends this year that she is really close to.  I'll give her about two weeks of summer relaxing before she starts telling me ho[...]



Blaise Pascal once said "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."As hokey as it may sound, I am finding that more and more true lately.Don't get me wrong.  I've always known I need Jesus.  I've never given in to the idea that anything else in life -- money, jobs, relationships, etc -- can fill that thirst.  At least not intellectually anyway.  I can recognize the need for Christ and my deficiency without His presence daily in my mind. I can see how only He can fill the gaps & satisfy my soul.  But having been adrift without a steady church home for the last 3/4 of a year, I see it more & more every day. Don't be mistaken.  I am not saying that finding a church would fill the God-sized hole in my heart.  I am not mixing up the two.  Church does not equal God. Going to a place where I hang out with people who believe similarly to myself, being taught, singing songs....that is not the same thing as my personal relationship with God.  It does not equate to personal study of Scripture or daily prayer or filling my mind with music that uplifts me and points me toward Him.But it sure does help.Long ago, a wise friend told me "We are not meant to live a Lone Ranger life as Christians." meaning that we are not meant to do things alone.  We need community.  We need relationships.  We need counsel and accountability.  While I am totally an introvert, I can't agree more that we DO need Godly people in our lives.  We need people who love us and care about us in the good stuff and the hard, yucky parts of life.  We need to belong and feel like we're a part of something.But lately, I am not feeling like I'm a part of much.  I have felt a big, gaping, painful hole where I feel lost and tossed by the wind.  And I suppose on some level I've recognized that and have begun filling that part of me with other stuff.  With events.  With people.  With social issues, social media, books, movies, TV shows.  I see people living their lives with all this "stuff" crammed into their lives all the time and they seem happy enough.  Some are Christians, some are not.  But I'm realizing more and more that I simply can't live this way.  And it's my own fault that I've packed my heart full of other stuff.  This is not who I am.  I miss being in Bible study and having talks with friends about faith and how it impacts daily life.  I miss ministry and serving.  I miss feeling like I am surrounded by family every Sunday while I close my eyes & feel the presence of the Holy Spirit envelop me.  I miss worship on such a deep level I can't even put it into words.  I am aching for His closeness every day. And while the lack of a church home has certainly impacted all of this, my own depravity and tendency to wander has not helped my case.I was listening to Hillsong today on youtube (THIS video to be specific) and I was overcome with His presence in my bedroom while I was folding laundry.  Click the the lyrics in the video's description.  Desperate for you...drench my soul....I hunger and thirst....Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within...Like a mighty storm, stir my soul.  Oh sweet Jesus, I needed these words today.  I need them every day.Oh Father, help me to see when I am filling up this God-sized hole with anything e[...]

Church hunting


I grew up in church.  Every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, every Wednesday night.  I married a man who went to another denomination but he was just as actively involved.  Our kids have been raised going to church every week, too.  My relationship with Christ is very important to me.  I thrive in good worship, good teaching, sweet friendships and opportunities to serve in ministry.Eight months ago our family began searching for a new church home.  We hated to leave our old church, but our season there had come to an end.We first visited a Methodist church that was great but it was the very first place we visited, so we hated to make a snap decision based on one visit.  Our son wasn't 'sold' on it either, so we just kept moving on.Then we visited a very packed large Baptist church.  It was too big, too crowded....and my husband wasn't sold on the atmosphere of it.  So we kept looking.We visited a charismatic non-denominational church that was a nice size, but that was about the only good thing we could say for it.  No one was rude or mean or was just way too much...everything...for us.We visited a lovely, sweet little congregation at a community church (non-denominational) which endeared themselves to us really quickly, but after 2-3 weeks of visits, we knew it wasn't a good fit for us long-term.  There were maybe 10 kids total (birth through 18) and the vast majority of the 65 people who were there were over 60.  It just didn't seem like the right place for a family who has kids that need a youth group.We visited a local Church of Christ that didn't suit us as well.  We're not really connected to the traditions involved at a Church of Christ, so it really wasn't a good fit for us.  But I must say, there were a thousand super-sweet white haired men & ladies who were very friendly.  I think we talked to each one of them individually for 15 minutes before we left the building at 3:00 PM.  The service was over at 11.  (big grin--just kidding!)We visited a non-denominational church about 15 minutes from home for several months and fell in love.  We thought we'd finally found our home, but then discovered that our daughter, who very much needs relationships & activity & the social side of a youth group was not really getting that at this church.  The only youth involvement she had was on Sunday morning (because the Wed night group freaked her out & was not a good fit for her) and it just wasn't cutting it.  Our son refused to go to any of the youth stuff because there were no boys his age & it felt very uncomfortable to him.  So after about four months of feeling 'at home' in every other way, we left with our tails between our legs.  We had already fallen in love with the pastor, the worship time, the small-town country feel....but it just wasn't the right place.  {I'm positive that if we didn't have kids that we needed to find a place for, Larry & I would've joined & stayed forever.}After leaving, we went back to the Methodist church we had visited first just to have a place to go for a couple weeks while we decided what to do next.  I am thankful for so many connections around town so it is simple to slip in the doors of so many churches & sit in on a service.  We live in a the smallest big town I know of.  Lots of connections at dozens of churches, so there are plenty of places w[...]

As least I'm not as bad as.....


Recently I found myself looking at a woman I know, thinking about how heavy she has gotten.  Chubby thighs, a round behind, flabby arms, a big belly.  All I could see when I looked at her was her size.  I know.  SO rude.  Especially since I am clearly no skinny Barbie doll, I have NO room to talk.  But that's what I was doing.  I kept thinking " least I'm not as big as HER."  {As if that somehow gives me permission to eat another cupcake.}

And then it happened.  I saw a picture of myself.  She was in the background.  And we looked to be about the same size.


This morning I was thinking about that on my drive to work and something hit me.  How often do we look at someone else's sin and think "Well at least I don't do XYZ like that person."  We think that our sins are not 'as bad' as those of others, but really, a sin is a sin is a sin.  Every one of them creates a disconnect between us and God.  Every sin breaks His heart.  When God looks at our lives & sees our sins, He sees the ugliness and pain.  When he looks at our picture, He sees that other person in the background.  And our sins look the same size.

Product Review: Plexus Slim Drink


  I have hesitated to post anything about this product for fear of upsetting people or hurting feelings.  That is not my intent.  I hate to cause conflict.  I don't like to argue.  So if this post makes you feel that way, I apologize in advance. I also hesitate to post anything because I dread the comments I will get from those hardcore Plexus ambassadors and users who will want to know details of my life so that they can advise me on how I should try it again and do this or that differently.I truly believe that Plexus Slim is a gem of a product for some people.  After all, if you do a google search of product reviews and before/after pictures of users, you will find TONS of positive images and reviews.  But when I first began hearing about it, I searched the internet for both positive and negative reviews.  I could only seem to find positive reviews.  And it seems like EVERY one of them was written or filmed (some were videos) by someone who sells the product.  Maybe they tried it, fell in love and decided to sell it and then wanted to tell about it!  And that's great.  I admire their ambition and I'm glad it worked so well for them.  But I didn't have those results.  I wanted to post my review here for those who might be searching or a Plexus Slim drink review before they start the product.  I wanted them to be able to find one by someone who does NOT sell the product and who isn't 100% satisfied with the results.  (Sorry, Plexus friends!)So let me back up and start from the beginning.  Over a year ago, my sweet friend Jessica started posting to facebook about this wonderful new health drink she was using.  She got a sample from someone and used it and fell in love.  It has changed her world so much.  It helped her lose weight, sleep better and have more energy.  She said that she actually felt better/different on the VERY FIRST DAY that she drank it.  She ended up signing up to sell it that first day because she was so impressed (and she wanted the discount--and income!--signing up to sell would provide.)  For nearly a year I saw her posts about Plexus a couple times a week on Facebook.  I read testimonials over and over that she shared.  I really liked what I was hearing/reading, but I couldn't afford the products.  Their Slim drink (pictured at the very top of this post) is their big seller but they have a lot of other products as well.  Just the drink alone costs about $80 per month.  With very tight finances, we just could not spare $80 a month.  I talked to her several times over the year, checking back to see if the price had dropped.  Each time I left the conversation saying "Maybe one day I'll be able to afford it and I'll try it."  She was never pushy or insistent like other people who have sold me other things in the past.  No guilt or shaming me into buying it by saying things like "Well, yes, it's pricey but you just can't put a price on good health."  {Eye roll.}  Trust me.  Yes, you can.  If you can't afford to buy a gallon of milk, you can't afford to pay $80 a month for a weight loss product so guilting me about it is just going to make me mad!  But I digress....  Last summer, Larry's blood pressure and cholesterol levels were through the roof.  After losing his dad in late May, his health real[...]

January 2015 Year of Dates: Bookstore Treasure Hunt


Tonight we began a new year of dates.  If you're not familiar with what this is, a few years ago I heard of the idea from a friend & jumped on board. Apparently it's a thing.  I had no idea but if you google "year of dates" there are a zillion ideas out there.  Anyway, so about what it is.  At Christmas, I give Larry 12 pre-planned dates, one for each month of the coming year.  Without a plan in mind, we tend to TALK about going on date nights a lot, but never get around to it.  Or the date nights end up being the exact same thing over and over.  So when I heard of this Year of Dates thing, I loved the idea of coming up with 12 really fun, creative dates that we'd both enjoy!  So tonight begins the 3rd year.  You can scroll to the bottom of the page & click in the labels section on "A Year of Dates" or "Year of Dates 2014" to see what we've done in the past.  On with our date!First of all, I had to turn THIS.......into something date-able.  It was tough work, folks.  I mean, really...that's a scary sight.  Fortunately I'm an Avon lady so I have tons of products to employ and I believe in the curling iron.  See?Whew.  All done.  I took this pre-date selfie & sent it to Larry's phone.  He was sitting in the living room waiting while I got ready.  I sent it with the message "Hey cutie.  Want to take me out?  I'm ready!"  {To be totally honest, I had to take a pic alone because I wasn't 100% sure if I could convince him to take a date night pic with me, so I wanted some documentation that I got dressed up!  But more on the date night picture later.}The plan for tonight:We went to Barnes & Noble tonight at 6:30.  We each set a timer on our phones and split up to see who could find the most weird books by 7:00.  It didn't take long to find some crazy ones.Here are a glimpse of the treasures we found.After all, if you're having some trouble, the best way to fix it is to never actually talk about it.I'm really not sure what the 5 very good reasons are to punch a dolphin in the mouth, but I glanced through the book & enjoyed several of the ironic or sarcastic cartoons.Clearly, Alan Alda's dog died & he had it stuffed and he wants to advise against that.  I wonder why.  Did it scare the neighbor kids?  Did it fall off the mantle & break something?  Weird.This was in the cooking section of the store.  Maybe a guide for all the newlyweds & young singles out there?Like that will ever actually happen!  There's just no way to make sense of people!Beyond the word "adulting", which I didn't even know was a verb, I love that it says you can become an adult in only 468 steps.  Is that all?  Just 468?  I mean, if it had been 469 it would've been too many!Clearly, there is a problem if you are dressing your child in this way.I'm sure there are major theological issues with this book, but the title struck me as pretty funny.  Please don't hate me if the picture & title are horribly offensive to you.  And if you do, don't scroll down.  The book titles get worse.    Well...not this next one, but after that.I didn't realize there was a book for this.  I guess someone needs it, but of all the "for dummies" books out there on big topics like accounting, passing your SAT, potty [...]