Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eat Pray Love and Give Thanks

As I prepared my gluten-free Thanksgiving feast tonight, I watched the movie "Eat Pray Love."  I did just that.  I ate approximately two M&M cookies from each batch I prepared, prayed for God to forgive my gluttony, and unfortunately loved every last morsel of them.  Sigh.  I am sure you are absolutely dying to know what I will be eating tomorrow, so I will keep you in suspense no longer. The usual: turkey, gluten-free dressing, gluten-free macaroni, gluten-free sausage balls, gluten-free gravy, and cheezy soup (my kids request).  Oh, and assuredly some additional, sinful, gluten-free M&M cookies.  Just like the movie, I've found my way on the gluten-free path to eating.  Just like the character in the movie, I will probably be lying on the floor trying to button my jeans by the end of the day.  See, that is the thing about gluten-free; you can actually eat just as bad as the traditional American diet (especially with a little effort).  Once you get over the shock of your new lifestyle, you find yourself finding ways to eat bad.  I still have to watch myself.  Sometimes, I watch myself eat cookie, after cookie, after cookie.  Then, I pay for it, and start a New Year's resolution early.  All that gluten-free talk aside, here are some things I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving:
1.  A husband that is a good friend, good dad, and likes to spend time with his family (despite having to give up a little hunting every now and then).
2.  My children.  I'd just like to say that my life would be so boring without them.  They really do light up each day.  I'm glad to be around to watch them giggle and grow.
3. Good friends.  I used to be a friend junkie.  I always felt like I needed "more friends" to be happy.  Yet, over time I've realized that a few life-long friends are more than most people see in a lifetime.  Friends are important- my life would be empty without mine.  Happy Thanksgiving to the best friends a girl could ever ask for: Joy, Megan, Penni, Jennifer, and Georgie!
4. God's truth.  I am thankful that when life gets confusing and I lose my way, that I can always look to the truth of God's word to bring me to what matters.
5.  Gluten-free cookies. I am thankful for gluten-free cookies. Really. Really. Thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 12, 2010

10 Things I learned from Nutcracker Market

Every year during the month of November, thousands of women (and some men as well) converge on Reliant Arena for The Houston Ballet's annual Nutcracker Market.  Crazed women, like myself, rush the arena with only one thing on the brain: shopping!  Here's 10 things I learned this year:

1.  The Doily is back.

doily (or doilie) is an ornamental mat, originally the name of a fabric made by Doiley, a 17th-centuryLondon draper.[1] Doily earlier meant "genteel, affordable woolens", "evidently from the same source"[2]


 Yes, the kind that my grandmother used to use as a drink coaster.  The doily can now be spotted on women's clothing.  You can hot glue a doily on just about any type of material and call it "vintage."  A sassy, vintage doily outfit goes for around $70.

2.  Shopping in heels is apparently okay.  I saw more platform heels today in one place than the entire Dillard's shoe department has in stock.  I've got three words for you: why, why, why?  No sane woman shops in high heels?!?! The walk from the car to the front door alone is enough to rub any civil big toe the wrong way.  Next year, I think I will have a designer Bandaid booth on aisle one so all the platform heel gals can buy some for their aching feet on the way out.

3.  Puff paint and plastic tubs go a long way.  I guess I am not clever enough to combine plastic with paint.  A plastic tub from Wal-Mart with some football's painted on it was selling for $25+ dollars.  Plastic? Puff paint?  Seriously?  However, they were quite cute and I must admit I loitered in the booth for quite some time.

4.  Baked Potatoes are hot.  Baked potatoes were all the rage in the food court.  They adorned every plate and table.  Hot ones, loaded ones, chopped beef ones.  Those spuds rocked the dining area.

5.  Don't sit directly in front of anyone's booth.  Yes, we were asked to move.  Yes, I got embarrassed.  There was a "check your bags" booth in the midst of the food court.  Mind you there were people sitting all around this booth (to the left, right, and front and center).  The tables were full, the standing room only tables were full, and behold there was but one clear spot.  Just as my jeans hit the floor I heard:  "Ladies, please don't sit there, that is the front of our booth!"  Hmmm... I guess we were the straw that broke the booth's back.  Yes, we relocated.

6.  The Marshmallow gun has evolved.  Last year, my mom's cousin, gave us some gifts from her friend that was the creator of "The Marshmallow Gun."  We've been shooting marshmallows across the house for a good year now.  Apparently, their weaponry has gotten more sophisticated. This year, we can launch marshmallows with a high powered cross bow, regular bow and arrow, and a more sophisticated gun.  Go Marshmallow gun, go!

7.  The beanie has gone banded.  Clever little girls.  Such great marketing ingenuity makes me smile for them!  Ladies, the beanie is out, the knit headband is in.  Still covers the ears.  Still fashionable.  Doesn't tossle the hair like a full covering beanie.  Pricing was very reasonable as well.

8.  Pregnant women get golf cart rides- wild ones.  Thank you Jennifer for being pregnant.  Thank you Valerie for having the nerve to ask the cop about helping our dear, delicate, pregnant Jennifer to the car.  Thank you cop for volunteering to take all of us and our packages speedily to our car (which was practically parked downtown it was so far away).  We almost got hit by a tram full of passengers and clipped a cone or two on the way back, but it was nice hitching the "wild" ride to the car.

9. Traffic jams do occur indoors.  I am not quite sure which was worse: the traffic jam of crazed women inside Reliant or the bumper to bumper traffic on 288 coming home.  I have never walked so slow indoors in my life.  I think my legs actually hurt from cutting my stride in half all day.

10.  Mommy's are tough cookies.  Not many things shock me.  I left NM with one sack in hand and my purse.  My back was absolutely killing me after 1/2 day of shopping.  Yet, I witnessed mommy after mommy with children strapped to their body (in some very fashionable slings mind you).  I know those times. Desperate times.  You just want to shop! You get so stir crazy in your home that you are willing to strap large, heavy toddlers to your back just to have some fun! Desperate times call for desperate measures. Oh...my heart went out to these ladies- the absolute pain they must have endured towing those children on their backs.  Yes, you are correct - no strollers allowed at Nutcracker Market

Monday, November 1, 2010

Elephants in the Room

 There is an elephant in the room.

You will find this post located under the Dirty Laundry header on my site --that is if I can ever remember to tag it there.  It is 3 am.  One might say that I am up because of the spicy meal from Chili's that I consumed ravenously.  It was pretty tasty. However, that is only part of the reason I bare my soul to a glowing computer screen in the wee hours of the night. One also might say that I am up at 3 am because the first shift of children has moved to our bed --I think it's time for a King's size bed for our sake.  However, that is not the entire reason either.  The real reason I am up at 3 am is because I had a bad dream.

Sometimes dreams can be random - a virtual picture of what you watched the night before on television.  Tonight, however, my dream is rooted in something I struggle with from time to time: bitterness.  This elephant is ugly.

He's got dry, crackling skin, he's beastly in size, and he stinks.  When bitterness is in the room, everybody knows it.  One of my favorite childhood books is the Hungry Little Caterpillar. Great book.  Bitterness reminds me a bit of a hungry caterpillar.  It looks harmless enough- little, green, lots of legs, inching too and fro - but boy can it eat!

It takes up residence in your heart and starts eating away at your joy, your emotions, and more than anything --it eats up time. Precious time that belongs to the Lord and His kingdom work. Bitterness becomes a consumer to anyone willing to take that first bite.

In my dream tonight, I chewed someone out.  I cried. I yelled.  I screamed.  I rattled.  Matter of fact, I rattled off all the reasons to them why I was hurt in regards to our friendship.  It was loaded.

I layed out every offense in true court-room-style public debate. See, in real life, I justify everything.  The way I feel is usually based on facts.  Yet, this does not always serve me well. It can be beneficial, but it can send me into "justify it" mode.  "If you are mad at me, justify your feelings."  "For what reason?"  "Did I offend you one day?"  "Is there an instance that you can recall that justifies that?"  I am Newton's Third Law wrapped up into human skin.  'For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.'  As an adult, the relational struggles that have flattened me the most are the ones that are "feeling" based and not "fact" based.   I know my tendency - the need to lay out every instance of hurt on the table.  You know, clear the air, and remove Mr. Elephant. The problem with justification my way is it makes a complete mockery of what I believe spiritually.  You know why?  Because Christ died for sinners.  The Bible says that because I have made Jesus Lord of my life - He physically blots out my sin for His own sake.  If I had a running tab in Heaven that listed my sin -- Jesus would be there crossing each offense out one by one with the blood He spilled on the cross.  See, the way I view the world and relationships, it's not the way I want my God to even view me.  Seems twisted doesn't it?  God's word says that he is "slow to anger" and "abounding in love" not wanting "anyone" to perish.  

 I struggle with the intersection of needing to simply forgive and needing to unload the "why" of how we got to where we are today.  

The truth is the problem lies within me.  Forgiveness is not always justified on man's end, but it is always necessary on God's.   I have had to forgive people that never apologize for anything.  The proverbial perfect storm of apology is obviously when two people both realize their error and mutually agree to forgive and move forward.  I'm finding in adulthood that that perfect scenario is rare. Talking things out is often very uncomfortable, but the alternative is to live with an ugly, stinky, elephant named Bitterness.  I have a hard time ignoring an elephant like that! I do not think that every offense committed needs a confrontation. I do believe that every relationship is different and what works for some people does not work for others. Uncomfortable or not, sometimes talking it out is the appropriate first step. In this case, despite my desire to run away from the conflict, my dream shows the condition of my heart towards this person.  If it weren't true, I would not give it so much merit.  Yet, I know the truth and more importantly I know the Lord.  He is never content to leave my heart in this condition.  God is never in favor of bitter roots and elephants in rooms.  He is the God of peace - Jehovah Shalom.  What about you?  Is there an elephant in the room with you?  Pray today and see how God leads you to resolve the issue peacefully.