Friday, October 31, 2008

A Spooky Little Something

Since we generally don't celebrate Halloween except for letting Kiddo get dressed up to go to a few houses to get his yearly supply of sugar, I haven't posted ANYTHING about it on my blog. I have enjoyed looking at everyone else's decorations, though, and thought that if I did decorate for Halloween, I'd be sure to copy all these fabuloso decorators.

I did want to post something normally saved for Halloween, but with a twist. So, here's my contribution to the Spooky holiday...

Can you guess what it is yet?

How 'bout now?

Yep, it's a spider web, and this handsome (?) fellow was the one building it. A few weeks ago, before it got really chilly at night, there were two of these guys building webs just outside our back door. My Sweet Husband was the braver one of the two of us since I can't be within three feet of a spider without having apoplexy. I think I may have braved it outside for a minute or two before my fear got the best of me. But take a look at these pictures...

When our rambunctious 4 month old puppy galloped out the back door, he dislocated one of the web's anchors, making the rest of the web fly around haphazardly. The spider didn't panic, he just zipped back down (you can see the reflection of the flash in the tiny sliver of web close to the top) and anchored it back, then zipped back up to repair the damage. Problem solved.

This is probably my favorite picture. Aside from the fact that this web was HUGE (the spider in the middle is about the size of a quarter, maybe just a hair bigger), I thought this was one of the most beautiful creations I've ever seen. Look at the colors brought out by the flash of the camera. It's like a rainbow in a spider's web. Did you know spider silk has prisms on it? I didn't.

This looks like he's floating in mid-air, but I think this was one of the shots of him fixing his web. It's a really cool picture though, don't you think? As cool as spider pictures go.

What I want to convey to you is this...not a creepy, crawly, scary Halloween message...I wanted to show you that even in the things that we think are scary, ugly creatures, our Creator made beauty. Did you see the intricate design on that spider in the first picture of him? Or how about the beauty of the web? What if we lived life like that spider did, knowing that when disaster is knocking down our security, we don't panic but trust that our Creator gave us what we need to get through it?

So have fun tonight. Eat lots of candy. Take pictures of your Kiddos. But remember that God is in control, no matter how spooky life becomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Husband Rocks! (A little early)

I have been such a slacker. Almost a week since I've posted. I have lots of excuses reasons. Not the least of which is getting facebook a backache like I've never had before. But I had to jump on here and do an early My husband rocks! Katy Lin and the rest of the "My Husband Rocks!" crew will more than likely do theirs tomorrow, the normal day for our shout out about our husbands, but since it is Halloween I wanted to share something a little spooky with you. Well, not really, but you'll probably think so.

Anyway, today my husband rocks because with my back being out (not to mention the sinus infection I had last week) he has totally become blind to so many things around the house, not the least of which is my appearance. Okay, so I have been able to put make up on for a few days, but if I didn't have any place to be, no way was I going to stand in front of a mirror to slap makeup on when my back was hurting.

And he also has turned a blind eye to the state of our household. The kitchen, bathroom, living room, and our bedroom have become what looks like war zones and the neat freaks lost. I keep telling him over and over "Honey, I'm so, so, SO sorry the house looks like this!" and he just says to me in his soothing voice, "It's okay, baby, I'll help you with it tonight."

He also rocks because he is just so sweet to me. I got some really bad news Tuesday night. He was the one to tell me, and I just crumpled in his arms, weeping on his chest like I haven't done in a long time. I'm crying as I type this not only because of the news, but because he just was so precious to me. He knows exactly what I need in times like that. He just let me cry my eyes out until I was finished, made sure Kiddo didn't hear me, and made sure we had plenty of toilet paper on the table (we were out of Kleenex, wouldn't you know?).

I love him so much and as we were about to fall asleep last night with my mind still whirling and my back hurting I looked in his gorgeous green eyes and thought, "Why was I blessed with such a man?"

I truly thank my Father in heaven that He has given me this blessing I call my husband.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Husband Rocks!

I have a sinus infection. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad sinus infection. I woke up Sunday morning with a very sore throat and have not been able to get rid of it yet. I did go to the doctor Wednesday and got an antibiotic and some cough medicine that makes me feel so out of it. Yuck.

When I'm sick, I know that my sweet husband will take care of me. I don't expect it, but I know that he will. He always has. I don't think I take care of him nearly as much when he's sick. Today, my husband rocks because he is so kind to me when I don't feel good. Last night he told me to sit down while he finished up supper, then after supper he cleaned my entire kitchen! As I was lying on the couch, he made me a cup of coffee, then later popped my popcorn for me! I'm telling you he spoils me rotten!

Thanks to Katy Lin for starting "My Husband Rocks! Fridays." She is the cutest thing and gushes as much about her husband of one year as I do about my husband of almost 14! I'm so glad God gave me the man He did. I can't imagine life without him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I love: October Sky

Have you ever noticed how blue the sky is in the month of October? I wait patiently for the fall skies to soften to the beautiful blue I love so much. Here are some pictures taken at sunset around my crepe myrtle. Oh, and by the way, I looked up the correct spelling of crepe myrtle and it turns out that you can spell it however you want according to this. I know...random.

I love how this shot is peeking through my crepe myrtle bush. All shadowy on the inside, glowy on the outside. Whatever. See how the blue is just It gets even blue-er. Er.I love the form of crepe myrtles after their gorgeous blooms have fallen off and litter the ground like shredded pieces of the paper they're named for. The seed heads are just as interesting to look at, and their leaves turn beautifully autumnal hues. The sky in the background seems to be just a bit blue-er. I totally know I'm making these words up.
I think this is my favorite shot. See the tee-niney spider web between the top seedhead and the one to it's left? I wonder how tee-niney the spider was that made that web. Oh, we have lots of webs around our house. You just wait 'til Halloween and I'll SHOW you a spider web. Anyway, back to my subject. This is also my favorite because the sun is casting such a beautiful glow on the upper branches of the myrtle. And look how blue the sky is!

Okay, so I totally messed up my shot of the myrtle in this picture, but the color of the sky was too periwinkle-y gorgeous not to post. It's just beautiful!

Not only do I love October for it's beautiful skies, I also love the fact that our windows have been open EVERY day for the past week. Probably the cause of my allergy-fed sinus infection that just cost me $40, but I love it anyway.

What do you like about October (besides Halloween!)?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Valley

Yesterday was a hard day. Several of my friends were hurting yesterday from various difficulties, but each time I heard of a new one, my heart hurt that much more. Relationships shattered, the death of a child, the last stages of cancer, a premature baby, a husband at my heart ached for each one. I cried so much yesterday my eyes hurt. I don't think it was coincidence that Bro. Rick's sermon yesterday was titled "The Valley."

One of the main points of his message yesterday was when he talked about Joshua. God had told Joshua to "be strong and courageous" no less than four times. God told him that He would be with him wherever He told him to go. Bro. Rick pointed out that the correct translation for the word "strong" used here was not the normal, muscle bound strength we usually think of. Here, God used "strong" meaning "fasten upon." How interesting that God would use that particular word.

What do you "fasten upon" when you are going through the valley? When life seems to be drowning you in sorrow? I clearly remember the numbing pain when I found out I might lose my sweet Kiddo when I was only 23 weeks pregnant. I left the doctor's office murmuring under my breath, "God knows about this, He has allowed this, and He has limited this!" Meaning that God was in control of the child I carried, and if He chose to take him home, it didn't mean He was no longer in control. For the next three months I fought with my emotions, wanting to argue that it wasn't supposed to be this way, but every time I came back to the same conclusion...God knew the big picture, and I didn't.

The times that Sweet Husband has lost a job, I again wanted to argue that life wasn't supposed to happen like that. God sweetly reminded me again and again that the same God that brought my precious baby safely into the world could handle a job loss. He wanted us to be faithful to Him. And He was faithful to us. Every. Single. Time.

If you are facing the valley, I pray that you draw strength from the One who loves you so much. Fasten your heart to Him. He will never leave your side.

Oh, and by the way...Joshua's valley? It was right after Moses's death that Joshua and the children of Israel followed God's instructions (after grieving for Moses for a time, mind you) and won the biggest battle they had ever fought...Jericho. The encouragement Bro. Rick gave us yesterday was to remind us that God can use that valley to draw us into a time where He wants to show us His glory. Like when I gave birth to a healthy, full term baby. Or when the job that we didn't think could happen actually happened.

He is a good God...we can trust Him!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Sad Day

Well, Wednesday was a sad day for all us University of Memphis Tigers fans. Their beloved mascot, Tom II, died Wednesday morning. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer. When my Kiddo saw the headline, he just shook his little head and murmured, "I just can't believe it..." He had his picture taken a few times next to this huge cat.

Tom (which stands for Tigers of Memphis) was the second Bengal tiger mascot, preceded by the original Tom who died in 1992. Tom II was 17 years old, and for those who may think that keeping a live mascot is cruel, fret not. This cat lived better than anyone I know.

Memphis is only one of two Universities who have a live tiger mascot. The other school is some little school in Louisiana. Who can't seem to spell the word "Go" correctly. Kudos to the first person to tell me what in the world I'm talking about. Susie? : )

While we'll miss Tom II, we will wait patiently to see when Tom III will take the stage. Plans are already being made for his (maybe her?) arrival. My Husband works with someone very close to the operations with the Tigers, so maybe he'll get the inside scoop really soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Award!

It never ceases to amaze me that I get to "hang out" with so many cool, cool people here in Blogland. I never knew that I could have friendships with people I had never even talked to before. Now, I realize that these relationships are different than my "real" friendships, but I treasure these "cyber" friendships as well. Even my husband understands. When he read Brandi's blog a couple of weeks ago and saw that she was going to have to slow down blogging for a while, he wanted me to email her and make sure she was okay. I thought it was so sweet. The fact that her husband and my husband have emailed each other back and forth a bit had a lot to do with that, I'm sure. But still, he cares.

This post is to celebrate those friendships and to thank one of those cyber-buddies for an award she gave me Friday. Thank you Sarah Mae! She gave me this sweet award...she said she liked it because it had coffee cups filled with Creme Brulee creamed mug would be full of Vanilla Caramel creamed coffee...MMMMmmmmMMMM! Oh, and I see a little tea bag, perfect for when I'm reminiscing about my time in Australia.

Okay, with the award, I have to answer some questions. So here you go:

1. Do you have the same friends since childhood? I have not kept up with many of my friends from childhood, but the ones from high school still keep in touch. In fact, I just got an email yesterday from a friend I hadn't heard from in YEARS. Hey, Cassie!

My best friends since I was a young teenager were my cousins Ruth and Scotty. Ruth and I still email quite often, but I am a horrible cousin/friend when it comes to keeping up with Scott. Ugh. And his birthday was last Sunday!

2. What do you value most about your friends? Definitely a sense of humor. There's not much I like more than laughing with my friends. (It's why Kat is my best girlfriend...she laughs at my jokes. That's not the real reason, but I like saying that.) And every Sunday morning I get to be in a room with some of my closest friends, usually starting our rehearsal time laughing about just the stupidest stuff. Good times.

I also value those friends who speak truth in my life. They are not afraid of hurting my feelings (although they are very kind and careful with my fragile self), yet they tell me like it is when I need it most.

I also value those friends who challenge me to stretch my limits. I have one who is doing that right now. Scary, but what I hope to gain from it will mean so much I don't even think I can grasp it yet.

3. Are your friends your sounding boards? I have to agree with Sarah, my husband (my best friend as well) listens to me when I'm happy, sad, mad, crabby, hysterical, (enter any other emotion here__________). He is definitely my constant sounding board, but I don't know what I'd do without being able to vent to my girlfriends every once in while!

4. What is your favorite activity to share with your friends? Road trips! I think I laugh the hardest on road trips. Two come to mind immediately. I mean, when one of your friends ends up in the floorboard after sitting backwards watching the cranky woman behind us in traffic, or when another of your friends has an infection on his uvula and has to put medicine on it without using a mirror, you laugh reeeeeally hard. I'm laughing hysterically as I'm typing this just remembering...

Okay, now I get to pass this sweet award on to four of my bloggy friends! Even if you've received this award before, I still wanted to pass it on to you girls! Here you go!

Brandi at Shack on the Rocks

Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Suzy at Wild Rose Cottage

Susie Harris at Bienveune...

I hope you visit each of these amazing women. The things they share on their blogs are such an inspiration to me. Thanks again, Sarah!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Things I love: Music Part II

Here is the continuation of my post about one of my favorite things: Christian music. There is so much to say and I know I'll leave stuff out. But I'll try my best. Please click on the links to hear from the various groups and artists if you'd like to hear them.

As far as groups go, my old stand-by is Hillsong Australia, and my new favorite is Gateway Worship. Kari Jobe is simply amazing. She has recorded a solo CD independent of Gateway, and if you haven't heard her, please take a moment to go to her site.

Now, my absolute favorite is Chris Tomlin. This whole post was going to be about him, but I decided that might be a little too stalker-ish. Plus my husband might get a complex if I spend more time talking about CT than I do about him. If you've never heard of Chris Tomlin, here you go:

He does such a good job with this beautiful old hymn, adding his own style and chorus to it. So, so beautiful. I'll probably do a post about him anyway, eventually. Hee hee.

Christian music has evolved so much over the years that anything you listen to in the secular realm, you can find the same sound (with better lyrics) in Christian music. Do you like Rascal Flatts? 33 Miles is for you. Do you like Southern rock (think "Sweet Home Alabama")? Then Third Day is right up your alley. Or if you are hooked on American Idol, there's Chris Sligh and Mandisa. I could go on and on. Each of these bands and artists, while being influenced by others, have their own unique sound.

There are so many other artists I could list here as my favorites, including our worship pastor Brent's band, Altered. Not to mention my good friend, Jennifer Begrin. I was even in a band called Driven for several years with my friends Sherry and Billy. We are still each other's favorites to sing with...with the addition now of Brent. You put the four of us together in a room with no intention of singing, and eventually the guys will drag out the guitars and we'll start singing four part harmony like nobody's business. And laughing till we cry. There's even a line about that in a Newsboys song...

Listening to this kind of music makes me excited to go to church and be able to, with our worship team, lead our congregation to worship the God who loves us so much. This is the kind of stuff we sing on Sunday mornings. Relevant, alive songs that fit today's generation. Yes, we also sing the hymns of yesterday, because some of those old songs never get old, but we do them with updated music so that the average person who hasn't lived in church like I have all my life can listen to them and know that they still apply to their lives.

I'm not sure if this conveys how much I have loved and will forever love Christian music, but I hope it does give you a glimpse into the genre. You can always head over to K-LOVE to find out if they broadcast in your area, or you can listen online.

So, those of you who listen to Christian music, who are you favorites? David Crowder? Natalie Grant? Jars of Clay? I'd love to find out!

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Husband Rocks! Friday

This week, since I haven't blathered on and on since last Monday about how wonderful my husband is, I figured I'd better get a My Husband Rocks! post up or my husband will think I don't love him anymore.

We've had a rough week this week. I don't know why...we've just argued more than normal this week. And our arguments are never over big stuff. Just the little petty stuff that gets annoying in life.

But even when we're argu...uh, discussing things, my husband never brings up stuff from the past. He never drags stuff into the discussion that is not pertinent to the matter at hand. So many other couples let arguments get out of hand becuase they start arguing about stuff that happened 6 months ago.

I'm so thankful for my husband. Not only does he fight fair, he also gave all three of my dogs a bath last night. Think this isn't a feat? Yeah, um, we have TWO Shetland Sheepdogs. Have you SEEN how furry they are? And it's not just their top coat. They have an undercoat that you just can't get through unless you brush them every day, which I don't.

I love this picture. It's a VERY rare moment captured. Not only because Jonathan is rarely this still (you can see the picture of him is blurry because he would NOT be still while I was taking his picture), but also because Windi and Shadow NEVER let Jonathan get this close to them. Sigh...poor baby. He doesn't act like it bothers him, though.

Okay, I digressed a little. Shocker, I know. My point is, my man ROCKS because he gave each hairy, wiggly, nervous pooch a bath in one night. Of course, I did "groom" the Shelties (meaning I attempted to brush them...I did an okay job), but he had the back-breaking task of bathing them all.

Side note Kiddo rocks, too, since he cleaned ALL their kennels by himself. You go, boy!

Thank you, Sweetheart, for fighting fair, and for making our stinky dogs smell sweet again. I love you!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Things I love: Music

Man, a week since I posted last! I hope you don't think I fell off the face of the earth. I've just been thinking a lot about this post. It's really too much to put into just one post. Hmmm, I might split it up. Well, here's the first part:

In thinking about things, people, animals, etc. that I love naturally brought me to music. I love music. I love songs, I love instrumentals, I love movie scores, I love Broadway tunes, I love classical pieces...I love music. I laughed a few weeks ago when I read some of my journal entries I wrote when I was in Australia. In one of them I mentioned that I was just then realizing how much I loved music. How a song could just move me like nothing else could. I had no idea how much music would become part of my life. If I had known then that I would be in a studio working on a CD project, I would have died from shock.

Now, let me say here that I don't love ALL music., not so much. And I can only take head-banging so long (like, half of one song) before the screaming just gets to me. And there are certain genres of music I like more than others. While I don't mind a pop song here and there, and Country Music makes me smile more often than not, you can probably guess by my whole blog that I love Christian music. Love it. Breathe it. Sing it in my sleep. No kidding.

I mean, I was a Christian music addict by the tender age of 13. Yeah, that would be in 1983. Not a very hip time in the realm of Christian music. However, that was the year that one of my all-time favorite artists, Michael W. Smith came out with this HUGE hit:

This is the oldest clip I could find of it. I'm thinking he did this particular one in the early 90's. Knowing that helps me forgive that jacket/overshirt thing. Appearance aside, this is how the song is meant to be heard. Simply piano. How many of us had this song played at our graduations or baccalaureates? I know I did. Of course, back then, the song was still "new." But the thing is, IT'S STILL BEING SUNG! I wonder if MWS ever gets sick of singing this song. I think I would. I mean, I don't even sing professionally and I get sick of singing some of the same songs over and over ("Sing to the King," anyone?).

But I digress (I wonder how many times I've said that since this blog's inception?). The thing is, I was listening to Christian music when Christian music wasn't that cool. Now, the music I listened to was cooler than this:

I...just...don' I wish someone had told the tall dude in the back that white-man dancing on television is just not pretty, no matter how groovy your beard is. Then again, the other dude in the back isn't moving AT ALL, so maybe beard dude was making up for that. No, wait, the guitar player is doing his part, too. ZAP!

Whoa. I totally got off subject. That point of that video was to say that back in its infancy, Christian music was sort of um...blah. It has come so far since "Friends" (and I don't mean the T.V. show). Here are a couple more of my past and current favorites...

When I started college, Steven Curtis Chapman became a favorite, and still is. He just gets better with age. Having followed him for so many years and watched his family grow, it absolutely broke my heart when Maria, his youngest daughter, was in a fatal accident at home. My heart still hurts for this family.

As far as groups go, my old stand-by is Hillsong Australia, and my new favorite is Gateway Worship. Kari Jobe is simply amazing. She has recorded a solo CD independent of Gateway. If you haven't heard her, please take a moment to go to her site.

I think I'll stop here and pick up later. It IS turning into a looooong post! I hope you will bear with me while I continue talking about a great passion of mine. Thanks for "listening."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Recipes I love: Taco Soup

We left our windows open last night for the first time since spring, and waking up this morning to the chilly room was heavenly. Well, it was for me, anyway. I got to stay snuggled under the covers while my Sweet Husband had to get up and get ready for work. Hey, he had coffee waiting on him, so don't feel too sorry for him. Except for the fact that I didn't make the coffee; he had set it last night.

Fall is now officially here. I, for one, am so glad, because all of you wonderful decorating chick bloggers have made me dream of fall for the past month and a half! Now that it's here, I'll be pulling out all my soup recipes. Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup, Shrimp Chowder, Canadian Cheese Soup (my favorite), Chili, and several others that I have in my recipe binder that we haven't tried yet.

One of my favorites is Taco Soup. My bestest bud, Kat, called last night to compare my recipe with one she had found online. They were very similar, with the exception that mine doesn't have a ranch dressing packet in it. Mine is the only one I've ever found without ranch dressing. Oh, and hers had hominy in it. I have to ask you, who in the world eats hominy? Neither Kat nor I do, but if you do, please tell me because I'd like to meet you. I don't necessarily have anything against hominy (blech), but I don't seek it out and buy it like I do regular corn. I love me some corn. Corn on the cob, cut off the cob, corn pudding, popcorn, fried corn, creamed corn, cornbread...I'm starting to sound like Bubba in Forest Gump. But I digress.

So, in celebration of the official start of fall here in Mississippi (meaning the temperature last night got down to the mid 50's and today's temp won't get above 75, woo hoo!), we have had Taco Soup for the past two nights. Oh, yeah, I love me some leftovers. I guess you'd like me to shut up and give you the recipe, huh? Okey doke.

Taco Soup
1 to 2 lbs. ground beef (or deer, or turkey, whatever)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large can tomato juice (not sure the oz. on this...probably something like 64, but it may be more)
2 cans corn, drained
1 can Rotel, undrained
1 can stewed tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes), undrained
2 cans red beans, drained and rinsed
2 pkg. taco seasoning mix

Brown beef with onion and garlic until no longer pink. Drain off grease. Add all other ingredients and simmer 30 minutes or longer.

How easy-peasy is that? Takes no time at all to prep, and if you put it in the crock pot three or so hours before dinner, you don't even have to stir it to keep it from sticking. We love it with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar, and a little dollop of sour cream. Yummmmmm.

Oh, and it makes a ton. The three of us have eaten more than plenty for two nights and there is still enough for Kiddo and me to have it for lunch. However, I think that after two nights of it, he's probably done with it for a while. I, on the other hand, will be sad when this soup bowl is empty.