Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Say Cheese!

Today is Church Directory Picture Day. Well, not nationally, I don't think. But here at our church it is. This is our first "official" picture as the new pastor and his family, so--no pressure.

What with setting things up for the photographer, and getting ready to check people in, not to mention trying to get my own family presentable for pictures (no small fete if you remember), I thought I'd take a few moments to procrastinate and list here all the things that are par for the course on such a monumental occasion.

1.  It is raining. Naturally. A drenching, everything's going to get wet no matter what you do or how you hold the umbrella rain.

2.  It's humid and cool outside.

3.  Our church is in an old building, and the furnaces have all been lit and the thermostats set for winter. So it's rather warm inside.

4.  My hair. Not good on the best days, but the combination of #1-3 means that my picture will resemble a portrait of Carrot Top without the red.

5.  Nick has a cold sore. I've been slathering him with Carmex for three days. I've threatened to break out the makeup if necessary.

6. I ordered new suits for the boys. Great deals on $400 wool suits that I got for $62 a piece.

7. They came in time.

8.  None of them fit.

9.  Nick has five white shirts. They are all dingy and ill-fitting.

10. I broke into Christmas presents I had set aside to get him a decent shirt for the pictures.

11. I realized two days ago that the boys all looked rather scruffy.

12. They're getting their hair cut today.

13. I'm sensing that today will be the day they get the Mad Stylist at Great Clips who will brandish the scissors with glee and they'll come back looking--you know.

14. I hate taking pictures. I always have.

15. The first photographer got here and she's very young and very pretty.

16. It will take forever for my boys to quit showing off and settle down to pictures.

I know I didn't end with some nice round number, but I don't usually have a list of 10 or 20 when I'm doing a list, so why start now?

I have decided that I will embrace this adventure with the following thoughts in mind:

1.  Presenting a perfect picture of us would be false and misleading.

2.  These people have known us for a year now. They ought to know that what you see is what you get.

3.  I've lowered my standards from "perfect" to "mediocre". I think we can hit that reasonably well.

4.  I've reminded myself that, once we're done, I never have to look at the picture if I don't want to.

5.  Lastly, I've realized that it's only natural to say "cheese" with all the hams we have in our family.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blowing the Dust Away

Spring cleaning may be a rite in some places, but I've always been more of a fall-cleaning kind of girl. My reasons are simple--and shallow. I like to set out fall decorations, and it's embarrassing to set them out on the piles of dust that have accumulated over the summer months. (and spring and winter months, too.) okay so maybe I haven't dusted since last fall. At any rate, I enjoy looking at bright fall colors all over my house, and dust tends to dull those colors, so I end up cleaning.

It's always kind of neat to take out something that hasn't been used in awhile, blow the dust off and see how it brightens up a room, so that's what I'm doing with my blog. I'm blowing the dust off. My daughter has nagged gently nudged me for some time to start blogging again. She doesn't seem to understand that I have valid reasons for not blogging, so I thought I'd list them in a post for her. The rest of you can feel free to read along as well.

1. I've waited so long to blog that my decor was out of date. My background and header picture worked perfectly through the spring and summer (although I didn't actually write any posts then), but they didn't look right with the new fall weather. So not only did I have to take the time to write a post, but I had to redesign my blog site as well. Who has time for that?

2. I write great posts in my head. I mean killer posts. Roll-on-the-floor-and-laugh-until-the-tears-run-down-your-face posts. But when I look at the blogger new post screen, my mind goes blank. I can't think of a thing to write to save my life. Why else would I be blogging about why I don't blog?

3. What if I write something and people don't comment? My identity as a writer could be damaged. Of course, since I'm not writing at all, I don't know what that's doing to my writing identity either.

4. What if I write something and people do comment? Courtesy says I have to read their posts and make comments too. What if I can't think of anything to say? And I can't just comment "I agree" or "pretty pictures". I have a reputation for wittiness and occasional sarcasm.  It's hard enough to come up with snark for my own blogposts. I can't expect to be brilliant for everyone else's comments. Who needs that kind of pressure?

5. Successful blogposts have to have pictures. I'm terrible with pictures. I never have the right ones, or they're blurry. Or five years old. Then I feel guilt because I'm not doing a good job of recording my children's lives in photos, and really, who needs unnecessary guilt?

Now that I think about it, it's probably guilt that is making me go back to blogging anyway. I finally asked Stephanie why she wanted me to blog again. She said it was because she enjoyed reading my posts, and she hasn't had anything good to read since January. okay, so no pressure there.

So what happens when you dust after a season (or three)? You get a little dirty. You sneeze a couple of times because of the stuff you stirred up. And then you step back and admire how bright the colors look again.

At least, that's what I'm hoping.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

No Fooling with the Hodgepodge

1. Since these questions are posting on the first day of April it seems only right to ask-when was the last time you did something foolish? If you can't answer that one, try this one-when was the last time someone fooled you?

I accidentally exploded some hotdogs I was cooking for our church fellowship. I don't want to talk about it.

2. What's the last biography or non-fiction book you've read? Was it any good?

The non-fiction book I'm reading now is the Bible. It's pretty good. I know the Author.

3. Garlic-friend or foe? What's your favorite dish made with garlic?

If I say that garlic is a foe, does that make me a vampire?

4. Several Spring flower festivals happen in the US during the month of April. Of those listed, which would you most like to see in person...The Skagit Tulip Festival in Skagit Washington, The Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville Tennessee, The North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington North Carolina or the Daffodil Festival Weekend on Nantucket Island, Massachussets?

I don't care about the festivals. I want to see spring in my own back yard.

5. How do you choose which blogs to read?  What is something that will make you stop and read every time? Something that makes you say, 'eh, think I'll skip this one and move on to the next'?

We're supposed to read other blogs?!?!?

6. April is National Mathematics Education Month so tell us, when did you last use math? 

I measured some material and some windows for curtains we were making in the Sunday School rooms. All the measurements ended up wrong which should not be surprising, considering I was combining arithmetic and home economics--areas where I have absolutely no ability at all.

And What did April do to deserve being named National Mathematics Education Month? Shouldn't that title be reserved for a more boring month ... like February or November?

7. In honor of the A-Z challenge kicking off on April 1...choose one word beginning with the letter A to describe your yesterday.

Yesterday I was awakened way too early by texts from three of my children and a phone call from a fourth. Following that I did a full day of non-compensated work at the church office, and a realization that I did not have all of the paperwork I needed to complete a job with a rapidly approaching deadline. Then I went home and was halfway through cooking dinner when I discovered I didn't have important ingredients and I needed to run to the store. Then I endured a lame attempt from the guys in my family to pull an April Fool's prank on me. So a word to describe my day yesterday?


8. Insert your own random thought here.

Joel's birthday is today. Sixteen years ago the doctor offered to induce, but I stayed pregnant for an extra day so Joel's birthday would not be April Fool's Day. The love of a mother.

He so owes me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hodgepodge on a Stick

1. What is something you'll never forget about the age you are right now?
The most important thing about my current age is the fact that I'm not fifty yet, and I've got a few years to go before I am.

2. What's a household chore you've never done? How have you managed that???
Are you kidding me? Why would I do any chores? That's why I went through 107 collective hours of labor so that I could guilt my kids into doing them.

3. Does nature shape our personalities more than nurture? Explain? 
Do you mean enduring a long harsh winter makes us crabby, and a beautiful spring day makes us happy? 'Cause if you don't, then I don't get the question.

4. Friday (February 28th) is 'Something on a Stick Day'...funny because Zoanna over atA Penchant for Pens recently sent me an idea for a question relating to this topic. What's your favorite food eaten on a stick? 
Uganda's version of fast food is chicken on a stick. There's a long line of grills off the side of the highway; you pull off the highway and they come running with the food. But with this drive through you'll want to keep your windows up because the vendors don't know personal space. I've actually gotten hit in the face with a chicken on a stick thrust through the window. And don't pick the vendors at the head of the pack. They tend to rub their chicken up against your closed car windows in order for you to get a good look at their wares.

5. Which of your five senses do you treasure most, and why?
I'm not sure which one I treasure the most, but living with this many guys in the house means I could do without my sense of smell.

6. What's the best music, theatre, or sporting venue you've been to? What made it great?
Wrigley Field is the best because hope springs eternal there.

7. It's the last week of the month...in five words or less bid adieu to your February.
I'd really like to know why Joyce picks the numbers that she does. "Five words or less", "Seven words" … 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Last night Joel and Paul cooked. Supper consisted of macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whitewashing the Hodgepodge

1. What's the biggest change since your childhood in the way people think or act?
People think less and act more. It's not a good change.

2. The Olympic Biathlon involves cross country skiing broken up with either two or four rounds of target shooting. Which part of that would stress you out more? Or would you love them both equally?
I'll take the shooting, but I want to pick the target.

3. February is National Canned Food Month...what is your most often purchased canned food item?  What was in the last can you opened?
What does it mean that canned food has a month? Are we supposed to celebrate canned foods? Can more foods this month? Resolve to use less canned foods in this month? I appreciate canned foods as much as the next person, but I'm not sure they deserve a whole month.

4. What river (anywhere in the world) would you most like to cruise?
No cruises! Don't you ever watch the news? Seems like every other week a cruise ship is being towed back to port with problems after everyone on board has been sitting without food or water or basic necessities for almost a week. Roughing it is not my idea of a vacation.

5. It's the middle of the night and you can't sleep...what do you do? Count sheep? Toss and turn? Watch television? Or do you get up and do something productive?
I take melatonin before I go to bed so I don't have this problem.

6. How important is keeping your cool?
It's not a big deal in Michigan in February. Ask me again in July.

7. I've got white stuff on the brain so why not run with it? White lie, wave the white flag, white knuckle it, white wash a situation, or white as a sheet...which phrase could most recently apply to your own life in some way?
I'm not sure, but this question did remind me that I need to wash the sheets.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm not tired of the snow yet, but I won't be sorry when spring shows up either.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Loving the Penny and the Hodgepodge

Love, Steaks, Pennies and Lincoln. This Hodgepodge has got it all, so put down the heart-shaped box of candy (or just push it over and nibble) as you join in the Hodgepodge this week.

1.What makes love last?
Being lovable helps.

2. The Beatles made their US debut fifty years ago this week. Are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite Beatles tune?
The Beatles made their debut before I was even born. Just thought I'd mention it.

3. Valentine's Day-your thoughts? Do you celebrate in any way? Do anything special for the people you love? Expect anything special from the people who love you? 
I never turn down chocolates … or flowers … or dinner out. Although I will say, if you wait until Valentine's Day and then buy your roses at Walmart, they're probably already half dead, and why would you give that kind of bouquet to the one you love?

Not that it's ever happened to me … ahem!

4. Steak or burger...you have to choose. Now that that's settled, how do you like it? 
I'll take a steak, but I'd like it at a steak restaurant. I don't know why you'd order a steak at a seafood place or an Italian place or--you get the idea. I figure whatever restaurant you're in, they're expertise is where you'll get the best taste.

Oh, medium, please. I don't want it mooing, but I don't mind a little red.

5. The Hodgepodge lands on the birthdate (February 12th) of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America. Lincoln is quoted as saying, 'Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test his character give him power.'  Do you agree? Why or why not?
Men may be able to stand adversity, but not all males are men. And with regard to power,

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  --Lord Acton, British Historian

6. Honest Abe's image is featured on the US penny (1 cent coin) so I'm wondering...what do you do with your pennies (or your country's equivalent)?  It's been suggested the US stop making the penny, and two bills have been introduced proposing just that, but neither were approved. What say you?
My pennies sit with the rest of my change in the bottom of my purse. And I'm not sure why our legislators have time to worry about pennies when they can dispense with billions without batting an eye.

7.  Do you think pop culture deserves serious study?
Not by serious people.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I don't feel like cooking dinner.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reckoning with the Hodgepodge

The Hodgepodge is always a force to be reckoned with! So join up. What are you waiting for?

1.  Are you a force to be reckoned with? In what way?
Ask my boys whenever they're getting into trouble.

2. What are two things you love about the wintertime? Or, if love feels like too strong a word, what are two things you 'like' about winter? 
I like my fireplace.

And I like that I can wear boots and scarves all the time. I'm sure that will get old, but since I only got to wear them once or twice a year in Florida, I'm enjoying it for now. We no longer have our Christmas tree up, by the way, but this is the only picture I have of our fireplace.

3. Pomegranate, kumquat, persimmon, kiwi, and guava are all fruits said to have health benefits, particularly during the winter months. Do you have a favorite on the list? Are there any on the list you haven't tried? 
I believe I've mentioned before that I like kumquat because I like saying kumquat. I've never actually tasted one; I just like the word. I also like rutabaga.

Rutabaga is not a fruit, by the way, but since I was talking about food words that I liked, I mentioned it.

And now my boys have ruined the word kumquat for me because they're calling it "kumsquat" which is not nearly as pleasant to say. Or picture.

4. I passed a local church yesterday and noticed they had this on their outdoor sign- 'When all else fails, do the right thing.' Your thoughts?
If you do the right thing in the first place, perhaps all else would not fail. 

5. Do you ski? According to one list I've seen, the top 5 ski destinations for 2014 are-St. Anton Austria, Whistler Canada, Cortina Italy, Tahoe USA, and Zermatt Switzerland.  Of the five listed, which would you most like to visit? We can make skiing optional if that helps the non-skiers with their answer. 
If those are the top destinations they'd probably be more crowded than I'd care for, and since I've never done any skiing, and since I would feel obligated to ski if I traveled to a ski destination, I would not care to ski down a hill on my face in front of that many people, so I'm not going.

6.  What's the last thing you looked for online? (Besides my blog!)
My blog.

7. What saying, slogan, quote, or motto have you seen lately that inspires you for the new year?
A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice. --Bill Cosby 

I'm not sure it inspired me, but it made me smile and nod.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I don't always wear matching socks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The One Where We Moved

So how did we move from the land of sunshine to cold and snowy Michigan? I'm glad you asked. Everyone here in Michigan is asking. Usually with that tone reserved for people that aren't very bright.

After all, who moves up north at the very beginning of winter? Actually, people who moved to Florida in June, probably. And that's how we qualify.

For sometime we sensed that God was almost through with what He wanted us to accomplish in Florida. But knowing you're moving and knowing where you're moving are two different things. Normally, when you are looking for a new job, you send out a whole slew of resumes, but my husband didn't feel comfortable doing that. As a pastor, he said that when God wanted to move him, He knew where we were and He would let us know where to go. He'd been asked to fill in a few times at different places when they needed a speaker on Sunday, but nothing that we really thought God wanted us to move to.

Then one day I heard about a church in Michigan that needed a pastor. Terry's from Michigan, but he doesn't have the best of memories growing up there and had no desire to move back. I didn't want to move either. Although I'm also from the Midwest, we've lived in the south for almost twenty years, and I considered myself a transplanted southerner.

The interesting thing about this church was that they were one of our supporting churches when we were missionaries in Uganda. Still wasn't interested, so I decided not to tell Terry about this church. However, I didn't want to be responsible for turning down something that was God's will for us either, so I asked God to let me know if He wanted me to tell Terry about the church. (Aren't I spiritual?)

Apparently God didn't trust me to pass on the message because He got it to Terry through someone else. Terry mentioned to me that this church was looking for a pastor. "Just because a church is looking for a pastor doesn't mean you're supposed to be the one they call," was my observation. He agreed and said he really didn't want to move to Michigan.

A couple of days later, he told me to send a resume. He had called the church, and the head of the pulpit committee was the guy we had stayed with when we were there for a missions conference fifteen years ago. He remembered us, and was excited to hear from us. "Just because we visit doesn't mean they'll call me as pastor," Terry told me. "And even if they vote for me, I don't have to accept it."


We went up there in September and stayed in their little old-fashioned mission house. One chair leg kept falling off every time we sat in it, and the other chair had a broken back that made you sit way forward. The church was a hodgepodge of add-ons with contrasting architectural styles, so you knew which decade each part of the building had been added.

The building may have been odd, but the people were really nice. We had dinner with the pulpit committee and their wives the first night there, with a question and answer time. Terry preached Sunday morning and Sunday night, we sang a duet in both services, and they had a fellowship afterward. We kept reassuring each other privately that it was just a weekend, and we weren't likely to be back, although after we got back to the mission house Sunday night, I told him he had preached himself right into a return visit, thank you very much.

And then they dropped us off at the airport and that was it. We heard from the references Terry had listed that they were checking on him, but nothing came of it for almost a month. Then they asked him to come back. They wanted him to preach both Sunday services again, and they would vote on whether or not to call him as their pastor after the evening service.

We kept asking each other if we were really going to do this, but it was clear to both of us where God was leading.

And that's why we're okay with moving to Michigan at the beginning of winter.

Here's the view from our front porch. You know, the boys prayed for snow every winter while we lived in Florida. I just wish God wasn't answering all those prayers in our first winter here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Hodgepodge of the Queen's English

You know you've been waiting all week for this! Join in!
1. Every January 1st since 1976 Lake Superior University has published a list of words they'd like to see banished from the Queen's English.  Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse or just general uselessness (go here to read more about how the words were chosen).  Here are the words/phrases they'd like to see banished in 2014:
selfie, twerk/twerking, hashtag, Twittersphere, Mr. Mom, T-bone, ____on steroids, the suffixes-ageddon, and -pocalypse added to anything and everything, from the world of politics the words-intellectually/morally bankrupt and Obamacare, and from the world of sports the words-adversity and fan base

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?
I'm fine with banishing the words, but could we also banish the actual existence of these 
things? I think the whole world would be better off.

And by the way, if you banish adversity and your fan base from the world of sports, is it really a sport anymore?

2. What one unfinished project nags at you begging to be completed in this new year?
Unpacking and settling into our new house. I would like that completed this month, not this year. In fact, this week would be good.
And since I cleaned out a whole bunch of stuff before we moved, where did all this junk come from that I'm unpacking now?!?

3. When did you last have a bowl of soup? What kind? Homemade or from a can? What's your favorite soup?
Now that we actually live in a state that has winter ... and cold ... and snow, we've enjoyed a lot of soup in the last two months. We like both homemade and canned, especially if it comes with grilled cheese.

4. Snowed in, snowed under, snow job...which one most applies to your life in recent days, figuratively speaking.
Maybe a little snowed under. After all, we moved into our house five days before Christmas. We still put up the stockings and the tree, but we had to be a little creative with the picture taking to avoid all the boxes stacked everywhere.

5. What's the funniest movie you've ever seen, or at least one of the funniest?
I would say any movie with witty dialogue. The rest of the people in my house (all guys) would say any movie that has jokes about flatulence and burping.

6.  In general, would you say you're clumsy?
Yes, and so would anyone else that knows me.

7. Elvis Presley was born on Hodgepodge Day (January 8th) back in 1935.  Are you an Elvis fan?  What's your favorite Elvis tune? If that's too hard, which Elvis tune do you dislike the least?  Click here for a list of his songs.
Elvis has left the building. Let the poor man rest in peace.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I made a big announcement on the first that I was back to blogging. Then I didn't post anything for a week. That's not the kind of blogging I was planning on getting back to, but internet issues and something else ... oh yes, THE STORM kept me from blogging. But all is as back to normal as it can get, so you'll be hearing from me more often.

Lucky you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I'm Back, Baby!

Yes, after a four month hiatus I'm back to blogging. A lot's happened in the past four months, which is part of the reason I haven't blogged, but if I were to tell you about it all now, you'd be reading this post for the next four months.

So instead, we'll just go with the news that we've relocated from Florida to the great Midwest where I've enjoyed more snow than I've seen in twenty plus years. We're still unpacking and I'm afraid I'll never find enough socks to keep my feet from freezing. I'm also resigned to the fact that I won't truly be warm until spring.

Be that as it may, we're right where God wants us and that makes everything else all right. I'll be blogging more about all the changes in our lives over the next few weeks. For now I'll just say have a Happy New Year.

I plan to!

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