Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Revolution - Climbing Out of Your New Year Box

Photo by emdees.














I love welcoming the New Year.


All the craziness of my birthday, holiday shopping and traveling, Christmas, my husband's birthday, and getting the Christmas cards out on time is finished.

Then there's this week of hopeful expectancy. What will the New Year bring? It's like pausing at the top of the world's largest Ferris wheel as the bottom empties and a new group climbs on. The air is clear, the bright lights of the distant city sparkle against the black night sky. You can see for miles and miles. The view is amazing.

As 2007 ended, I struggled to start my New Year's Resolutions List. It seemed that my yearly resolution of losing weight had resulted in a steady weight gain since fourth grade! I knew that most New Year's resolutions revolve around the same ten things. I wanted my New Year to be different, but I didn't know what to do.

I shared my thoughts with my DH (dear husband), Dennis, over coffee one morning.

"What do you think?" I asked.
"I've been thinking about this," Dennis said. "I think we should have more fun in 2008."
I gasped. "But what about my goal of losing weight?"
"Was it on your list last year?" he asked.
"Of course." He knew it was on my list every year since fourth grade.
"Well, did you lose weight?"
I answered with my very best Evil Eye Stare.
"I'll take that as a No," he said with a grin. (Did I mention that my husband is very brave?)
"But I hate to give up my goal," I whined.
"You wouldn't be giving up your goal. You'll just make Having Fun more of a priority."

I finally agreed, and after talking it over, Dennis and I decided that our New Year's Resolution for 2008 would be to Eat at One New Restaurant Every Month. The results? I didn't lose a single pound, but I did have tons of fun, got to know my city better, tried lots of great food (The Blue Koi, Jazz - a Louisiana Kitchen, McCormick & Schmick's, A Touch of Asia Indian Cuisine, BD's Mongolian Bargeque, Spin Pizza, Granite City Food and Brewery, O'Dowd's Little Dublin, Mr. Gyros, Zarda's BBQ, Waldo Pizza, Bristol Seafood Grill, and the Webster House), and got to know my husband better as well.

As this New Year approaches, what will you do? Most people do one of two things:
  1. They choose the lazy way out by planning to do nothing. I mean, it's just another string of 365 days, right?
  2. They dust off last year's resolutions and determine, "OK, this year I really will do all the stuff on my list!" (You know the list I mean. It's the one that says Lose weight, exercise more, be nicer, quit smoking, yada yada yada.)
This year, I propose you trade in your resolutions for a revolution. What will it be for you? Dennis and I plan to find more of those restaurants in our city. I'm thinking about teaching my twelve-year old daughter one new thing every month. (How to Tie a Tie, How to Bake Sourdough Bread, How to Do Laundry, for example.)

What are your New Year's REVolutions? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Experiment in Asking

I heard a story about a man who needed a ridiculously (at least to me) large amount of money for a business venture or project he was working on. He had a chance to meet the billionaire Ross Pierot. On the day he met the billionaire, the man cinched up his courage, explained his project to Mr. Pierot, and boldly asked for half the amount he needed, which was a huge sum in itself. Mr. Pierot looked the man in the eyes, paused for a minute, took out his checkbook, and wrote a check for the full amount the man asked for. The man was stunned. Elated. Flabbergasted. He reached for the check, thanking Mr. Pierot profusely. As Mr. Pierot tucked his checkbook away in his coat pocket, he said, "If you'd asked for the full amount, I would have given it." Sometimes I get tunnel vision and asking for help never even occurs to me. In 2009, I want to pull my head out of the sand and ask for what I need. I'm going to:
  • remember that I can't have everything I want when I want it because it's not always my turn;
  • be pleasant so people are glad I asked - even when they can't fill my request;
  • say yes more often when people ask me for help. Because it's not all about me and what I need to get done. It's also about you and what you need to get done. (By they way, if you ask me for help and I can't help you myself, maybe I know someone who can. So ask!)
  • remember to ask God, too. He knows what I need even before I ask Him!
Have you been spinning your wheels all by your lonesome, when you could have been asking for help? Run an experiment in asking. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Psalm 23 for Travelers


Photo by Maryam S.

My friend Isabel leaves in the morning for her flight home to Australia for the holidays. Then it's on to Taiwan, Thailand, South Africa, and who-knows-where-and-not-necessarily-in-that-order before she comes back here.

So in Isabel's honor and for all of you who'll travel this season or who travel on a regular basis, I've written Psalm 23 for Travelers. (Don't get too excited, though. It doesn't count as Scripture yet.)
* * * *

Because the Lord is my Travel Agent,
I have everything I need.
He makes me sit in vinyl airport chairs.
He leads me to the quietest spot in the airport coffee shop.
He helps me catch my breath and shake off my stress.
You're so good to me, Lord --
You help me find my departure gate,
and
You get me to my destination -
eventually.
You comfort me when I'm tired, stressed, or cranky.
Even though I must take the red-eye and show up for work the next day anyway,
I fear no jet lag because You are my
Constant Companion.
The pillow and blanket You provide keep me snug and warm.
You provide peanuts and soft drinks to sustain me -
right in front of my snoring travel companion.
(I'm thankful for the earplugs You provide.)
You are good,
and
I know that You love me,
therefore
I embrace the travel schedule You arrange for me,
and
I look forward to being with You in Your Home
forever.




Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm just wondering......

Photo by mannequin.




For those of you who celebrate Christmas, the world (especially me) wants to know your answer to the all-important question:


Do you open presents on

  1. Christmas Eve
  2. Christmas Day
  3. One on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day
  4. Other - and what is your "other"?
When my Mom was a kid, they opened one on Christmas Eve and the others on Christmas morning. My Dad opened all his on Christmas Day. When I was growing up, I couldn't sleep past 3 AM, so we opened at about 3:07 AM and went back to bed at 6 AM. Now as a Mom with my own family, we open one on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day, which is what my husband did when he was growing up.

Your turn!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Telling Your Feet Only Half the Story

Photo by aussiegall.


I'm taking a class called Write a Children's Book through the South Africa Writer's College. It's taught by award-winning author, Helen Brain, and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to be part of it. One of the things Helen wisely forces her students to do is to read a bunch of books for kids in the age range for which the student wants to write. For me, this has meant lots of books in the 9-12 year old range.

One of the books I chose was A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park. Set in twelfth-century Korea, twelve-year old Tree-ear is an orphan boy who works for master potter Min. At one point, Tree-ear must make a long and difficult journey on behalf of his aging master and deliver two exquisite vases to the royal court in a city far away.

A few days before he leaves, Tree-ear confesses his worries to his old friend, Crane-man. What if I lose my way? What if robbers attack me? How can I possibly make such a long journey alone?

"It is so far away," he tells Crane-man.

"No, my friend," Crane-man tells him. "It is only as far as the next village. Your mind knows that you are going to Songdo. But you must not tell your body. It must think one hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that way, your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk." (A Single Shard, p. 93)

Are you weak and weary? Are you freaking out about the upcoming holidays? Or maybe you're worried about your health or that of a loved one? Try telling your feet only half the story. And may I suggest that you tell the other half to Jesus? Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message version of the Bible is a great reminder of what waits for you when you do.

* * * * *

Friday, November 28, 2008

In Celebration of my First Blog Post


It's my first blog post, and what's a celebration without some cake? Sorry I can't host you all in my home, but I'm happy to share a great recipe with you. It's easy, you will thank me, and I will quickly become one of your favorite people.

So let the party begin!

For this
Incredibly Easy and Luscious Banana Tres Leches Cake: First, say a prayer of thanks to the Lord for my dear friend Meredith, who tweaked a recipe into the one I will share with you here. (Thanks, God! and Thanks, Mer!)

1 box French vanilla cake mix,
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)
6 oz. coconut milk (I used half of the 13.5 oz. can)
6 oz. sweetened condensed milk (I used half of the 14 oz. can)
6 oz. heavy cream (I measured 6 oz. in a liquid measuring cup)
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
Splash vanilla
Strawberries (optional)

Mix cake according to package directions (except stir in mashed banana) and bake in 9x13” pan. Cool and poke all over with a skewer. Mix the 3 milks and pour over cake. Cover and chill several hours or overnight. Whip the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla with a hand mixer. Spread on top of cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries or serve on the side. Also delicious with chocolate sauce. But then again, what isn't?

Thanks for joining me today! Why not give yourself the gift of subscribing to my feed? Look at the left of my blog. See the "Subscribe to Me!" heading? Click on "posts" and add me to your homepage. Whenever I post a new blog, it'll pop up on your homepage. And how cool is that?

I'm just saying......