Monday, January 31, 2011

Haggis, Anyone???

Saturday night, my husband and I attended a fancy dinner that benefited our local shelter for women and children who have been affected by domestic violence.  The Robert Burns Supper and Show is a tradition up on our mountain, and the folks who put it on pull out all of the stops!

Robert Burns was considered to be the "National Poet of Scotland".  His first work was a song about his first love "Handsome Nell" written in 1774.... therefore, the song is NOT about me.

The Supper celebrates the old Scottish tradition of commemorating the birthday of Robert Burns with many Scottish traditions thrown in the mix.  It was not your average party, but it was definitely a night to remember.

The Evening started off  with the presentation of the American Flag, and the most beautiful rendition of "America the Beautiful" that I've ever heard on the bag pipes.  It was quite moving.  Below are the musicians getting ready to enter the room:

These guys are some of our local firefighting heroes.  They're member's of the fire department's "Pipes and Drums". 

This particular guy happens to be a great friend of our family, and he's got massive skillz on the pipes!  His Kilt is gorgeous, too!

After the opening ceremonies, we had a divine meal that consisted of the following Scottish fare:

Appetizers: many types of fancy cheeses and a variety of crackers
First Course: Leek Soup and Tossed Garden Salad
Dinner: Prime Rib, Mashed Garlic Potatoes, and Mixed Vegetables with Rolls

After dinner, they had a silent cake auction with cakes made from local businesses and restaurants all over the mountain.  The winners shared their cakes with their entire table.  There were some real works of art:

Then a great Scottish band played some fabulous music to dance to, and the dance floor was hoppin'.

Next came the best part: the Parade of the Haggis.

Traditionally, Scotch Whiskey and Haggis go together hand-in-hand, linking our generation to the Scottish Forefathers. 

Haggis is quite the culinary experience... to put it mildly. It's made out of the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep.  They are cooked and minced, and then mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasonings.  Then the mixture is encased in the sheep's stomach, or the bung of an ox.  After the bung is stitched up, it's boiled for up to 3 hours.  Talk about some tasty stuff....or not.

I would highly recommend that you click on the link below, to see step by step pictures of how this is made.  It's wildly entertaining!!!

Before partaking of the Haggis, there is an entire ceremony that takes place.

First, there is the official, "Parade of the Haggis".

The Bag Pipes and drummer lead the way around the ball room, as a woman carries the tray of Haggis behind them.  As the Haggis passes by the tables, you are supposed to take in its fine aroma. 

Here is the lovely lady escorting the Haggis while the bagpipes accompany her.

Here is her husband, guarding the Haggis with his sword as he walks through the ball room.

After the Parade, Robert Burn's Poem, Address to a Haggis, is read.   Then it's time to partake of the Scotch and Haggis.

I did not partake of the Scotch Whiskey because, first, the smell alone was strong enough to burn my nose hairs, and secondly, I try to make it a point not to drink anything that resembles a urine sample.

But I DID eat some Haggis.  Here's the proof:

Alright, after trying some, I feel that a shot of whiskey might be a prudent move to kill the taste of the Haggis.  By the looks on the faces of the people around the room, I'd say that the Haggis was bad, but the Scotch was worse.  It might burn the hair off a man's chest.  I'm not sure.

We had a great evening, and it was a unique and fun experience for a great cause!

On our way out, I spotted this elk in the lobby of the hotel.

By the look on his face, it's evident that he tried the Haggis too! 

The End.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A "Twisted" Fate

Saturday morning, my husband and my son woke up early to go paintballing in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of their buddies.  I have a theory on this whole paintballing thing.  I think that the men secretly just love to act like Rambo, and shoot at each other like a bunch of soldiers in combat, but they bring along all of their sons so that it seems more legitmate.  Goofing around is more acceptable if  "it's for the sake of the children".

They put on multiple layers of clothing under their camouflage to lessen the sting of the blows, and then they pelt each other with paintballs while hiding behind trees, rocks, and bushes.  They pick teams like friends playing ball in the sandlot, and then they choose the game they'll play.  Boys from ages 4 to 64 play together side-by-side, strategizing and executing their game plan.  It makes for great father/son bonding, and tight camaraderie between the men.  My guys come home and recount the blow-by-blow details to us girls every time they go.  They get that far away look in their eye as they reveal their paintball battle scar welts, and tell the heroic tales of how they got ambushed in a firefight with one man against ten.  It brings out the true grit  in the males when they go head to head in paintball combat, and they strut a little taller the next day.  I've even heard them all relive their glory days over cinnamon rolls and coffee at church on Sunday morning.  It makes me giggle every time.  Boys NEVER grow up....and that's OK with me!

Yesterday during paintballing, I received an unexpected call from my husband, telling me a wild story that was almost unbelievable.

  It was the end of the last battle.  The game was Capture the Flag.  My heroic husband was sacrificing his body to make a run for the flag without cover.  He was getting pelted in the hiney at point blank range, but he managed a death defying maneuver to snatch up the flag.  He then made a beeline for the base like a gazelle being pursued by a lion.  "Chariots of Fire" was playing in the background as he sprinted like the wind.  He zigged.  He zagged. Then, just as he was winning... he did a valiant tuck and roll for the victory, but he went down for the count with a twisted ankle.  His teammates yelled, "Man down, Man down!!!" but it was too late.  The damage was done.  The game.....was over. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his men.  His ankle was the size of a softball, and he lay there in agony.  He gave all he had to give. 

At least that's the way my husband tells the story.  I added in a few details for dramatic purposes, but absolutely nothing to detract from the truth. ;)

Anyway, after they all sat around staring at it for a few minutes, they put their heads together to determine what to do with the ankle. Between their Boy Scout experience, First Responder Training, and high level of problem solving skills, you would think they would have used some twigs, the ointment of a rare medicinal plant, and the leaves from a riparian area to splint the ankle and administer first aid to the patient, but alas, they did not.  They did the next best thing.  One of the guys phoned a lifeline.... his wife.... who happens to be an excellent nurse.  She calmly took control of the situation over the phone, and gave detailed instructions on how to handle the "incident".

Here's what the doctored ankle looked like when he got home.  Not pretty, but it did the job. I'm certain the nurse would have done it better, but she can't be everywhere at once to rescue men in distress.

I was frustrated because later that night, we were going to go on a date to a fancy benefit dinner with a band and real "dancing".  So much for a twirl around the dance floor.

To add insult to injury, my husband played up the sprain to avoid his regular household responsibilities...namely, letting the cat out at 3:15 am when she scratches at the carpet in our bedroom. 

(Before I continue, you need some background information that will be pertinent to the story in a minute.)
 Hank the Cowdog has a trusty sidekick named Drover.  Drover is a sweet little chicken hearted dog with a stub tail that hates confrontation. Every single time Hank has a plan to go into battle, Drover starts dragging one of his back legs and says, "Oh Hank! My leg! I don't think I'm going to be able to go on this mission with you because this darned ole' leg is giving me fits."  Then Hank has to go solo to save the day, while Drover takes a nap on his gunny sack bed.

Back to the story:

We get home late from the big benefit dinner.

It's 3:19 am when the cat starts to scratch.  Naturally, I ignore it. 

She scratches more. 

Feeling  "not so much" Proverbs 31 womanish, and "very much" like a grizzly bear in hibernation, I nudge my husband, and whine, "Can you let the cat out?"

After all, I really needed my beauty sleep.  I was in deep R.E.M.  when the cat scratched.

Then out of the darkness of the room, I hear the following words:

"Oh Hank! My leg! My leg!"

I couldn't believe he was pulling a "Drover" on me at 3:23am.  I was forced to go out into the cold dark world and let the cat out.  It was an all-time low.

He was really milking this injury for all it's worth!


In all seriousness, it DOES look ugly, and I've been doing my best to pamper him until he's back to normal.

This little injury will just be one more battle scar to talk about  with his buddies for weeks to come.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

7 Random Things

 1.To the untrained eye, it appears that moths have invaded my husband's side of the closet.  In fact, nearly every work shirt and undershirt he owns has tiny little holes in it like the shirt below. 

The culprit...slag burns from welding.  This is discouraging to a wife doing the laundry because as a rule, anything with holes in it becomes a dusting cloth or grease rag.  But this would leave my husband's side of the closet virtually void of anything but church clothes. He comes home with new "air conditioned" shirts every other day, despite wearing his leathers. I'm at my wits end. Don't blame me for the holes. I give up.  

2.  My kids are participating in the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge during Co-op, and it is kicking their butts.  My son has the body shape of a string bean, and he's currently all arms and legs.  He's extremely tall for his age,  and whenever he plays sports, we have to keep his birth certificate handy to prove he's only nine. Lately, he's hit an awkward phase where he needs to grow into his feet.  In order to meet the goals of the challenge, he's got to be able to sit and stretch 3" past his toes.  Unless we have a genuine miracle, it doesn't appear that he's going to make it.  He also needs to be able to do 5 pull ups, so every night he dangles off of his loft bed to practice.  I've seriously never heard more complaints about leg soreness, and sore tummy muscles than I have from my three kids this semester.  It's great.  I think it's the best physical challenge they've had in a while!  I think that I'm going to have to join them in their endeavour to shape up.  Here's my boy working out during P.E. at our homeschool co-op.

3.  I'm having trouble letting go of my favorite shoes.  I've worn them for nine years, and we're good friends, like Linus and his blanket.  I've sewn them back up, glued them, and reconditioned the leather many times.  Sadly, they are now beyond repair.  I was ecstatic when I discovered that Ariat still made the same shoe, after all of these years, and I bought a pair.  But they're just not the same.  They look way too new, and stiff, and boring.  They have no character.  They just can't replace my old faithfuls.

Nothing compares to my trusty old work shoes.

It's going to take a lot of miles before I make friends with this new pair.  We currently have nothing in common.  I hope we can form a good relationship in the future, but for now, I'm still in mourning over my old faithfuls.

4. I have 14 chickens, and I'm currently getting 2 eggs a day. The girls aren't meeting their quota.  I've resorted to threatening them with the soup pot, but they don't take me seriously.

5. Our kids take an art class as part of their homeschool co-op, and they are taught by a retired art teacher who attends our church.  I've never taken an art class, so I decided to sit in on it as a student, myself.  I'm telling you, that woman is a miracle worker! In one week I've transformed from a stick figure artist to a gal that can draw a picture that slightly resembles the real thing!  I mean, I'm certainly no Picasso, but for having only two sessions under my belt, I think she's transformed me! The secret is in the shading! It's what makes everything come to life! I can't believe it took over 30 years to realize this.  I'm a little slow on the up-take.
Here's my first weeks progress:  (Don't laugh too hard.  I'm putting it on here in the interest of "keepin' it real".  You've got to see the progress each week.)

6. I got "Photoshop Elements 9" for Christmas this year, and I currently know how to use .03% of it. 

"Hello, my name is Nell, and I'm computer illiterate."

This program has made me want to shout curse words at the computer screen, and I'm a reformed cusser.  It's bringing out deep feelings of frustration, and computer anxiety. I don't care though.  I will CONQUER photoshop....even if it takes years! I will buy "Photoshop for Dummies", take a class at the community college, or spend hours tinkering with it. 

Just imagine how cool it would be to have photoshopped pictures on here.  It would take my blogging to a whole new level! I will prevail, photoshop.  You will not get the best of me.

7. I love Dr. Pepper.

The End.

(Okay, that last one wasn't really important, but I didn't want to end the list with only 6 things because I don't like that number.  Come to think of it, none of the things on my list were important, but strangely, I feel much better now that I've shared them with you.)

The (real) End.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Going to the Neighbors' House

We have some dear older neighbors down the road, who don't get out much during the winter months due to illness, and snow. Last week we brought them a pan of fresh homemade cinnamon rolls, hot from our oven.  In return, they grabbed the candy bowl from their coffee table that was halfway full of M&M's, and gave it to my husband, despite his protests.  They're from that generation of folks that always wants to give something in return for kindness.  It's tough to bless them, because no matter whether it's shoveling their driveway, raking pine needles, or mowing their yard, they find something from their house for us to take home. It can be pretty awkward.

They gave us a call this week to thank us for the dessert and ask for the recipe.  They LOVE my children, so I decided to send them on an errand down the road to return the candy bowl, and give them a copy of the cinnamon roll recipe.  Before the kids left, I combed their hair, made sure that their clothes matched, and gave them no less than 20 directions and orders.  My instructions included, but were not limited to the following things:

"Look both ways before you cross the road."
"Hold hands with your sister."
"Don't crinkle the recipe."
"Hold the glass bowl with TWO hands!"
"Say, "Thank you" for the M & M's."
"Speak loud enough for them to hear you because they don't hear well."
"Look them in the eyes."
"Say, 'Hello Mr. and Mrs. ________'."
"Say 'please' and 'thank you' if they offer you a drink."
"Don't run down their driveway."
"Stay out of their yard."
"Be polite."

That's when it suddenly hit me like a rock.  I've turned into my mother!!! I remember when I was a kid, my mom would have us deliver Christmas gifts to all of the neighbors.  In addition to safety rules, she had my brother and I ring the doorbell and when the neighbors answered the door, we were to say the following thing in unison: "Merry Christmas from the __________'s."  You can imagine how excited my little brother was to do this. Not.  I carried the baked goods, and he carried the small potted pine tree saplings, and we trudged down the driveway to start our deliveries. 


[They answer the door] "Why hello little ones!"

We choke out the rehearsed greeting completely out of unison, "Merry Christmas from the ________'s."

Then we hand over the goods, turn and sprint through their yard until we reach home.

I don't know why I've always remembered this, but now that I have kids of my own, it terrifies me to think that they may be the same way that I was.

So I watched them walk down the road from the front window of my living room.  I was checking to see if they followed my instructions. So far, so good.

  After they were out of sight, I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  They were gone over ten minutes.  I started to worry, but then I saw them sprinting down the road towards home.

When they walked in the front door, I started peppering them with questions:

"Were you kind?"
"Did you say thank you?"
"Did you speak loud enough for them to hear?"

Then I asked them to tell me the EXACT conversation they had with them.


Because, after Wednesday night's embarrassing moment with my youngest, I'm acutely aware of the fact that my children's mouths are loaded cannons, ready to spew out random facts and information that may cause me grief, and, or further explanation.  Don't you just love kids? 

In the end, everything went very well and I considered it to be just one more successful mission under their learning belts.  I'm a firm believer that older folks and younger ones really need each other.  My kids love doing things for our older neighbors, and my neighbors just adore having a good chat with my kids.  I think it's a win-win situation for all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Part II

My friend Gina is our youth pastor's wife.  Over the years, I've come to understand that being a pastor's wife is a full time job with absolutely no least not monetary payment.  I'm pretty sure she's going to have a crown loaded with jewels to give to Jesus some day, though.  She loves her teens as if they were her own children.

The first time I saw her, we were in an evangelism class at church, and we were both pregnant.  All I remember was that I was standing next to her, and we were singing a beautiful hymn, and I was thinking the following things:

1. This girl can SING!
2. She can harmonize too!
3. She can play the piano.

I realized right then and there that she did, indeed, have all of the qualifications needed for being the perfect pastor's wife!

Shortly thereafter, several of us young moms decided to get together to have a time of fellowship for mothers, and a play date for our kids.  Deep friendships were formed during those years, and somehow our group became known as the "Fab 7".   All of us remain close friends to this very day, and I praise God that our circle of friends has multiplied extensively since that time into a large network of treasured sisters in Christ who we love and adore.

When we found out that Gina was moving, we knew that we had to get together for one last evening of fun and fellowship with the "original" group of ladies whose friendships started all those years ago.  We wanted to gather together one last time to share a good laugh and reflect on how much we've all grown from those early years of nursing babies, changing diapers, and potty training kids.

We were so fortunate to be able to go to a gorgeous Country Club nestled high up in our mountains for the evening.  The Clubhouse overlooked the frozen lake outside, but inside it was warm with the sights and sounds of laughter and memories.

We gathered together at this table to have one last conversation before Gina goes off to make new buddies in a new state.  I feel blessed to have friends that are so genuine and honest that we can talk about anything. Our conversation can freely flow from dialogue about stretch marks to discussing the deep truths of the Bible.  We rejoice over every small blessing, and cry together over tragedy.  We've clung to one another during diagnoses of cancer, and rejoiced over new life.  We've held each other accountable in tremendously difficult times, and cheered each other on through weight loss attempts and hairstyle changes.  Our friendships have remained solid through hormones and mood swings, and seasons of discontentment.  We have a true love for one another that chooses not to be offended.  We choose to look past the imperfections in one another, and see each other the way Christ sees new creations.  That's the mark of true friendship!

After appetizers, we exchanged gifts and I was so excited for Gina to open her new apron that I could hardly contain myself!

Here she is with her apron on....and no, she's not doing the hula dance.  Gina ALWAYS talks with her hands.  It's one of the things I love about her.  If you chopped her arms off, you'd only get half the meaning of what she's saying because the other half would be lost without her hand gestures.  :)

More hand gestures.

We also gathered several pictures from throughout the years, and one of our friends put them all in a lovely frame made from an old window pane.

Here was the picture I contributed:

That's me with Gina and Dawn.

Here's a picture of her taking a picture of me.  She's a great photographer, and takes beautifully artistic pictures.

 After one last group picture, we had a delicious homemade Italian dinner, topped off with a decadent dessert.

The evening passed far too quickly, but I savored every moment of it. I love making new friends, but I really treasure the old friendships that have stood the test of time.

We're all going to miss Gina, and it's going to feel like something's missing when we get together, but I'm thankful that God allowed her to be a part of our lives for a season. She's been a true blessing to each and every one of us.

Crafting Therapy

One of my really good friends is moving far, far away.  I'm a little bit sad for me, but she's moving to Texas, so I can't help but be excited for her.  I wanted to make her a going-away gift and couldn't wait to get started on it.  I knew instantly that I had to make her an apron.  She loves to cook, and she's a very retro 50's housewife gal.  What better gift to make a classy friend, than a tool for her homemaking trade.

Can I tell you all a secret?  When I made this apron for her, it was really just therapy for me.  By focusing on sewing her an apron, I was able to take a walk down memory lane, remembering our friendship, and I was able to reconcile her move with the hours spent cutting and sewing the fabric.  By the time I was finished, I was ready to let her go to Texas with a glad heart, instead of sadness.

First, I went to the fabric store, and scoured the place looking for that special fabric that just screamed her personality.  It's my favorite part of sewing for my friends.  I LOVE fabric!

When I got home, I started cutting out the pieces.  I decided to use one of my favorite apron patterns: McCall's  M5055.  It's darling.

Anyway, as I was sewing away on the apron, thinking about my friend, I started to bust out in spontaneous singing of "Friends are Friends Forever" by Michael W. Smith.  When I realized it, I stopped singing immediately, and started cracking up! That was so completely out of character for me!

That song is like "totally" Jr. High summer camp! You know, on the last night where you have a big sappy group hug with your friends and say, "I wish we could stay at camp forever because you're like the bestest friends a girl could ask for, and we'll never share this moment again! I'll never forget you all, EVER!"

It's like the Christian version of a sad country song, and that's when I realized that her moving was affecting me more than I was allowing myself to admit.  I hate feeling sappy and sentimental.  I had to knock that off quick! But since no one was around, I just let my thoughts wonder to all of the fun memories all of us girls shared together with our friend.

By the end of my trip down memory lane, I had created this for her:

When it was finished, I used the scrap material to embellish a gift sack, and make her a card.

I haphazardly cut out a heart, quilted it to the accent fabric with some batting sandwiched in between, and glued it on a plain gift sack.

Then, I took some scraps, and tied them on the handles to "cutsie" them up a bit.

Next, I made another heart and sewed it directly on to a card.  I love to sew on paper!  It's totally cool.

As you can see, I was not going for perfection here...I just followed my bliss!

The end result: A fun apron to give to a cherished friend, and a good walk down memory lane...even though I had a brief moment of cheesy sappiness. That's how I roll.

Crafting is therapeutic!

Stay tuned for part II...The Good Bye.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Extremely Rare Feline Moment

What you are about to witness is the extremely rare gesture of affection from the species: Felis Sylvestris Catus.  This unusual manifestation of love towards a human is, indeed, a moment that is hardly ever captured by the lens of the camera.
Isn't it exquisite?

Look closely at the location of the paw. The gesture clearly says, "I love you."

Considering the fickle nature of the feline, and her conceited, independent ways, this may be the  one and only occurrence of affection shown by this domestic cat.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Squeeze Chute Blessing

 Newsflash! God DOES indeed answer prayer!  Just last week my husband and I were bemoaning the fact that one of our pastures lacks an adequate corral...specifically one with a squeeze chute.  This means that every time we have to perform the simplest of tasks like ear tagging or doctoring an animal, things get a little "western".  Just last week we had to load up a cow in the stock trailer and create a make-shift Q-tip to doctor her with.  We used a broom handle, some cotton balls, a paper towel, and a rubber band.  We then applied a generous dose of antibiotic ointment to the broom handle Q-tip, and doctored the cow inside the trailer  from the wheel well with the precision of a surgeon playing pool.  That's cowboy ingenuity, right there.  That's also what we are trying to retire from.  With a squeeze chute in the corral, that would have been a simple 2 minute procedure instead of a rodeo. We really don't have the money to buy a new squeeze chute right now...they are several thousand dollars!  But, after praying for a few days, God literally led my husband right to one that hadn't been used in over 20 years, and we bought it for next to nothing! All it needs is a little T.L.C. and some paint, and it will work like new! Thanks be to God!  Here it is before it's makeover:

Here's my hubby working his magic on it. Doesn't he look cute in his welding gear?

He's so serious when he's working.

Below is Dad's little apprentice, watching his every move with the grinder.

When we're all finished, I'll post the before and after pictures.  I can't wait to see the transformation!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carne Asada Fries

Once every week or two, my husband and I try to make time to have a casual dinner date.  It usually costs under $20.00, and it usually involves going to Aliberto's to eat these:

Hello, Lover.
What you are looking at is something that my husband and I refer to as "Heart Attack on a Plate".  The proper title is "Carne Asada Fries".  It consists of a bed of hot french fries topped with grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and a whole lotta carne asada meat.  They're out of this world! Our good pal bought us a plate of these late one night after a hard day's work, and we were instantly addicted to them.  The problem is that they have approximately 2 trillion calories in them.  You can't eat carne asada fries on a regular basis or you would clog all of your arteries, grow a set of cankles, and take years off of your life.  But in moderation, they are a treat that we really look forward to. In fact, sometimes they are the highlight of the day!

Whenever we eat these fries together on a date, we also have a good "State of the Union" meeting about our goals.  We've got BIG plans. OUTLANDISH plans.  Plans that take a whole lot of steps to accomplish.  Some of our goals are short term, and we map out how to get from point A to point B. We discuss squeeze chutes, and buying bulls, and what we should use to fertilize the pastures this spring.

But we reserve most of our dinner date to discuss the "BIG" plans.  Goals that are so far off in the distance that we've got to start planning for them now. Goals that we may not accomplish until we have grand kids.  For instance, some day, I'd like to host a Cowboy Christmas Ball in my barn.  But to accomplish this goal, there are approximately 47 smaller steps that must be completed actually building a "real" barn that we could hold a dance in.  We even know who we'd have cater it, and what we'd serve.  When I have my Cowboy Christmas Ball, (Notice I did not say if, I said when) you will all be invited to it!

You see, I think it's really important for couples to dream together.  I love sharing a vision of the future with my husband, and imagining what it would be like to see those dreams fulfilled.  We  take those BIG ideas, and decide what tangible steps we can take to make them become a reality.  We don't mind thinking large scale, because even if we never accomplish all of our goals, we'll still be further ahead  than if we'd never dreamed at all. 

My husband always tells me, "The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan."

So I consider our little date nights to be more like planning sessions. I think that having the same goals helps strengthen our goals, and the Carne Asada Fries.  Eating Carne Asada Fries together is guaranteed to strengthen your marriage. Just trust me on this one.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Embarrassing Moment #43563475

Ahhhhhhhhh, out of the mouth of babes.

This precious one, to be exact.

This moment is so embarrassing that I'm almost at a loss for words.  This moment is one of those times where a child says something so far out of context, that you must tell a large background story to redeem any dignity that you once had. It's one of those moments where Ricky Ricardo would say,

"Lucy, you have some 'splainin' to do!"

Here's the deal.  On Monday, we celebrated Martin Luther King Day.  As a responsible homeschooling mother, I felt that this was a great opportunity to study the many reasons why this holiday is important.  First, we read all about the life of Martin Luther King Jr.  We talked about the word "prejudice"...what it means, and what it looked like during the 1950's and today.  We talked about segregation and the horrible way people were treated because of the color of their skin. We talked about the important work that Mr. King did to help ensure that all people were treated equally.

After our historic reading, we watched Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and emphasized the line "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."  We watched a documentary on his ground breaking work to end segregation in this country.

Later that evening, we had a lengthy discussion at the dinner table about how God made us all equal, and how he made us all unique and special.  We asked the kids to imagine how horrible it would have felt to have to drink from a different fountain, sit on the back of the bus, eat at the back of the restaurant, and go to a different school...just because of the color of their skin. 

I felt like the kids had a pretty good grasp of the significance of the holiday....that is, until tonight.

My 8 year old and my 5 year old daughters go to the same church class on Wednesday nights, and on our way home tonight, my 8 year old recounted the evening's events to us, and I nearly choked on my Dr. Pepper.

Imagine a room with 40 kids inside, and about 8 adults helping out.  During the Bible story, the teacher was talking about how the children could go anywhere around the world to tell people about Jesus.  Then, according to my 8 year old, my baby precious little 5 year old baby girl, raised her hand, and blurted out, "White people didn't like black people."

(Crickets chirping.)

I gasped! "What did she say?" I asked my 8 year old.

"She said, "white people didn't like black people"."

I said, "That's it? She didn't say anything else? She didn't explain her comment further?  She didn't talk about Martin Luther King or ANYTHING?????"

"Nope."  Then she said, " Mom, it was really embarrassing."

I didn't know what to to respond. 

The first thing that came to mind was that we were going to have to some major damage control before many prominent members of our church thought we were some type of racists.  Then we would have to sit our kindergartner down and tell her that she needed to be more clear about what she was trying to say in AWANA.  I know her heart was in the right place.  I know she was just trying to share with the class what she had learned this week, but she' really got to use a few more words to give the full meaning of her thoughts.

But for now, my husband and I just want to hide under a rock for a day or two.

I keep telling myself, "This too shall pass."

Has anyone else's child said anything embarrassing like this??? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

God's "Keepin' it Real"

This week, my Bible reading has played out more like a scene from a soap opera, than a few pages from the Word of God.  It's been so entertaining and lively, that I've laughed, gasped out loud, and asked myself over and over, "Why did God include this in his Word?"

Take for instance a few little juicy tidbits I've read from 2 Samuel:

In chapter 6, David and the house of Israel were "making merry before the Lord", having a good time with songs and musical instruments when this guy named Uzzah commits a bit of a party foul by accidentally touching the Ark of the Covenant when one of the oxen stumbles, and God flat out struck him dead because of his error.  Then David was so horrified and afraid of the Lord that he doesn't want the Ark of the Lord anywhere near him. They decide it should go to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite, instead.  The Lord blesses that entire house, and everyone who lives inside, and when David hears about it, he totally changes his mind and decides that he may want the ark of the Lord to be in his city after all so he can have some blessings too.I love it!

In chapter 10, David sends some of his servants on an ambassador mission to the new king of the Ammonites to console him over the loss of his dad.  But the Ammonites think David's men are spys so they do the craziest thing!  They shave 1/2 of each man's beard off, and cut off their clothing in the middle, at their hips, and then send them back home this way!  How humiliating to have half of your beard shaved off, and to be exposing your lower half as you make your way home.  David ends up totally pummeling the Ammonites and their allys for breaking off their diplomatic relations.  Take that, you Ammonite beard shavers!

(For the record, I would not want to be forever etched into history as one of the men who got half of their beard shaved off and the bottom half of their garments cut off. Yikes!)

And don't even get me started on David and Bathsheba.  It's a drama you'll have to read on your own!

But why did God put all of these scandalous details into the Bible?  Why did he expose people's imperfections, and permanently cement them in history for all to read about?

I'll tell you why.  Because God keeps it real.  He wants us to know that he uses EVERYTHING for his purposes.

I've heard the following saying many times, but it's worth sharing again:

Remember God can use Anybody!
The Next time you feel like God can't use you, just remember...

Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson had Long hair and was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Naomi was a widow, Job went bankrupt, Peter denied Christ, the Disciples fell asleep while praying, Martha worried about everything, Mary Magdalene was..., the Samaritan woman was divorced more than once, Zaccheus was too small, Paul was too religious, Timothy had an ulcer...AND Lazarus was dead!

This is GREAT news, my friends.  It's big....HUGE!  It means that God can use a sinner like me to accomplish his work.  He can weave all the junk in my life, and make something beautiful out of it! He can trade my ashes in for beauty!

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."- Roman 8:28

Notice that it does NOT say that  some things work together for good, but He says ALL things work together for good.  Amen!

That's the best thing I've heard all day!

For your Enjoyment

My favorite puppy picture of Boone.  You didn't think I could share a picture of one dog, without giving equal time to the other, did you? My dad pulled this one out of the archives so you could see my little Boone with his milk gut.

Don't you just want to sniff his little nose, and kiss the top of his head?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chigger Lou Who

Every good dog needs a sidekick. Someone to pal around with and sniff things out together. Someone to assist him in breaches of ranch security, and so forth.

Boone is, and always has been, an amazing dog.  He's well bred, well trained, and well mannered. He's a top notch cow dog.

Then one cold October evening, we brought home something that was slightly larger than a rat, and it changed Boone's world forever.

My husband took Chigger out of his coat pocket, and Boone wasn't sure what to think of him.

Chigger had been left abandoned in a box on the Indian reservation. When he came into our lives, he weighed two pounds, had just been treated for mange and ticks, and  he had the sweetest disposition of any dog around.

After a few weeks of TLC and expensive dog food, he started thriving, and he melted our hearts.  But most importantly, Boone found a soft spot in his heart for the little guy too. And for the last ten years, they've been inseparable.

They're like Bert and Ernie.

Bo and Luke Duke.

Peas and Carrots.

Barney Fife and Andy Griffith.

Lucy and Ethel.

They are the best of friends.

Chigger is the polar opposite of Boone in every way.

He doesn't know any tricks, doesn't have any manners, and can't herd a cow to save his life.  He's absolutely worthless to have around, but we love him all the more for it.

Boone has a little stub tail nubbin, but Chigger has a long slender tail.  He flaunts it around Boone, and I think he considers himself to be superior because of it. In fact, I'm sure of it.

Chigger also has a diva mentality.  Boone has slept on the cold, hard floor since he was a pup.  The tough life suits him just fine.  He's a manly dog. But not Chigger.  Chigger demands plush bedding.  He used to burrow down under the covers until we kicked him off the bed for good.  Now he attempts to nest into whatever's laying on the ground.  A pile of clothes, a fallen pillow, a towel....he'll sleep on anything.....except the floor.  Don't even get me started about the Lazy Boy Recliner that is nothing but an expensive dog bed now.

He's such a hooligan. 

Chigger has no loyalty.  He's an equal opportunity lover. He adores everyone the same, and he'll let you know it with a lick...or five licks.  In the summer time he loves to come up behind me while I'm cooking, and lick me behind the knees.  Talk about giving me the willies!  He also licks Boone, and it annoys him to no end.

With years of experience following me on horseback, Boone  sticks close by, and comes to me when I whistle for him.  Chigger doesn't know a thing about coming when called, but he'll follow Boone to the ends of the earth and back, so we've never had to worry about losing him in the forest or pasture.  He just runs right beside Boone.  However, Boone is now facing some new challenges in his senior years.  He's completely deaf, and going blind, so he can no longer come to a whistle, a call, or anything else.  Therefore, he and Chigger now run amok in the fields, completely oblivious to our commands.  Boone has no idea what's going on, but Chigger hears it all, and just refuses to listen.

What I'm trying to say is, Chigger doesn't pull any weight around here.  He lies around getting his belly scratched all day, eats dog food, and annoys Boone.  He has no skills, no manners, and no devotion.

But we sure love him.  We couldn't imagine life without him. He's our Chigger.

And he's Boone's best friend.