Shining through…

Archive for the ‘Random stuff’ Category

It’s All About Us

The 12th of March was the hubby’s and my anniversary.  We observed it with the usual Facebook tribute, a beautiful rose (he picks out the BEST flowers!), cards, and the umpteenth round of  the “tell me again why we chose a wedding date right in the middle of Spring Break” conversation*.  We didn’t make any plans to go out until the next night, when M would be sleeping over at his Honorary Grandma Lulu’s house.

So tonight was that next night, and we found ourselves with a dilemma (1) and a realization (2):

  1. We live in a city that neither one of us particularly likes, and because of that,
  2. We usually end up going to other places to celebrate our day.

Escaping our town wasn’t feasible this year for various reasons, so we had quite the discussion about finding things to do that were “us” in the vicinity.  And it was tough.  We’re not into most of the things our city is known for, and going the “fancy dinner and a movie” route seemed disingenuous (not to mention at odds with our dietary habits) since part of our issue with this area is that the food scene seems a bit pretentious.

[GASP!  Wait a minute!  What do you mean, you don’t like our fair city?  It’s the best city on the planet!  Everybody loves it here!  And why don’t you like the things our city is known for?  We’re so cool!  We have music and weirdness and hipsters and more music and festivals and a vibrant downtown scene and music!  And our food is awww-suhm!  You must be out of touch.  Or you’re old.  Or you just don’t get it.  Maybe you should move!]

Yeah, I know.  I heard the collective protests and sighs of dismay before I even started writing this.  Because truthfully, this city is full of people that feel exactly that way.  And it’s okay that they feel that way.  But it’s also okay that we don’t, which leads into the point I’m trying to make.

My husband and I were initially attracted to each other for a number of reasons, including the fact that we think quite a bit alike about many, many things.  Tonight we celebrated the fruits of that attraction: our marriage, our friendship, our very unique relationship that is unlike any other I’ve seen, the fact that we both LIKE how different it is.  We celebrated US…by not doing things we wouldn’t normally do, anyway.  This is not a moral or ethical, “there’s only one right way” issue.  Our marriage, as we see it, is about laughing joyously with God, acknowledging His crazy sense of humor in putting the two of us together, and just enjoying who we are individually and as a couple.  And honestly, that’s what I wish for everyone: Find the truth of whom you are, and enjoy BEING it, regardless of what anyone else thinks.  I firmly believe that every single person was made to reflect a facet of God that no one else does, and when you find the freedom in being whom He says you are, you shine.

I’m not going to tell you what all we ended up doing, but I will say that this Texas girl could eat those In-n-Out grilled onions by the spoonful…

[GASP!  Mighty Fine/P Terry’s/Elevation/Whataburger/Hopdoddy is sooooo much better!]

Shush.  Let us be.  And you go be. 🙂

*In case you decide to get married on a date that falls during the week of Spring Break, you might want to rethink it.  Destinations are  way more expensive – and crowded – around that time, so if you’re wanting a quiet, romantic little beach getaway, or a visit to Disney World, or a ski trip, well…good luck to ya.

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Cheese, Not-So-Glorious Cheese!

A corpse is meat gone bad. Well and what’s cheese?  Corpse of milk.
~James Joyce

Cheese is zombiefied milk. James Joyce pretty much says so, so it must be true.  Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself for the next 30 days because I’m about to embark on the Whole30 (http://whole9life.com/2010/12/whole30-2011/) program in an effort to (healthily) completely detox my body from foods that are irritants to it.  Since I eat a fairly primal diet already, this isn’t too much of a stretch…except for one small detail: dairy.

Wait, what?  What’s Whole30?  The basic idea is lots of protein and fresh veggies, and some fruit. No processed foods, whatsoever.  No grains.  No sugar.  No dairy, including milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese.  See the link above for a more in-depth explanation of the plan, as well as what I mean by irritants.

What’s primal?  Essentially, it’s eating the way people ate before the advent of agriculture.  So lots of proteins and fresh seasonal veggies plus some fruit.  No grains.  Sugar only from natural sources like honey or maple.  Limited dairy, but you CAN have it.

NO CHEESE?  Are you nuts?  No, but I can eat those on the Whole30 plan!  🙂

Sigh.  The thing is, I really, really want to do this.  But I really, really don’t want to give up the cream in my coffee.  Or cheese.  So…in an effort to up the accountability factor, I’m going public with my plan.  (AND imagining festering wheels of rotted cheese rolling after me shrieking, “BRAAAAAAAAINS!” too.)  It’s only 30 days, and I know I’ll feel so much better at the end…and it’s a great exercise in self-discipline, which I freely admit I could use more of.  So.  If you’ve made it through this whole post, hold me accountable.  Ask me from time to time how I’m doing.  Ask me how I’m feeling.  Ask me if I’ve bitten any zombies…

On Favor, the Socratic Method, and Tire Shops

Two things about this past month:

1) It has been even more insanely busy than “normal” and

2) I have been asking the Lord to speak to me in myriad ways – it is my goal to learn EVERY language He speaks (c’mon, I’ve got eternity to do this.  It’s not an unreasonable goal!)  And boy, has he been obliging me.

It actually started at the end of September.  I was given several words concerning the increase of favor, both God’s and man’s, in my life.  Of course, I said, “Bring it on!!!”  And when I went to Indianapolis on October 7 for the wedding of a friend I hadn’t seen in 23 years, favor showered me with full force (this, of course, is one of the ways He communicates).  I wrote down every single occurrence, and within a 2-day period, I had 11 things on my list.  These included a rental car upgrade and meals being bought for me, for starters.  But then there was also the very sweet rental car place manager who lived 6 houses from the wedding venue.  He drew me a map, wrote out directions, and gave me his cell phone number in case I got lost – all unasked for.  And there was also the cashier at the Chinese restaurant I went to with my friend.  I was dubious, to be honest, about Chinese food in Indiana, especially considering the place was called the Side Wok Cafe or some such.  I asked for jasmine or green tea, whatever they had, and the cashier informed me they only had “regular” tea.  But the man manning the wok ( 🙂 ) started speaking to him in rapid-fire Chinese and gesturing at the shelf above him, and the next thing I knew, the cashier was bringing me a steaming cup of the not-for-sale  tea they, themselves, drank.  (And the food was actually pretty good, too.)  There were other things, too, but perhaps the most significant occurrence of favor was my hotel room upgrade.  Not only was I given a suite with a Jacuzzi, but I also learned a very important lesson.  Because, see, the suite was not really all that.  It was an older hotel, for one thing, and the room must have been a smoking room at one time or another because it still smelled pretty strongly of smoke.  The toilet ran alllll night until I finally shut the water valve off, and the a/c made a very loud clunking noise every time it cycled off, so solid sleep was minimal.  BUT. (And it’s a big one, haha).  The Lord told me clearly that sometimes it’s less about what’s being offered and more about the fact that it IS being offered.  I was offered the suite because it took over an hour to check in to the hotel, and the clerk on duty had disappeared from the front desk for about 20 minutes of that hour.  So the night clerk wanted to make amends for the poor service and offered me the suite.  Here is what I wrote in my journal that night:

And the offer of favor and honor should be accepted with graciousness.  This is what makes the difference between arrogance and understanding/inhabiting my position.  You have placed me where I am placed; You have lifted me up.  I receive favor and honor because of Your pleasure in me, and I desire to honor You with my reception of it.  What a fun notion that I benefit by making it all about You.  Because when I accept what You give me, when I accept what You say about me, I accept You anew.

There was more to that Indiana trip, too, including some healing that I literally felt break open over me as my old friend shared an opinion – she has no idea about this, but what she said brought me freedom in a sensitive area.  I went back to Texas profoundly grateful for the seemingly out-of-the-blue wedding invitation that positioned me for a major God-encounter.

The Lord spoke to me again about a week later.  This wasn’t nearly as profound, but it tickled me immensely.  I was sitting in my Wednesday night class listening to a presentation on Socrates, and  I was already kind of amused because whenever I hear the word “Socrates,” I hear it in Bill and/or Ted’s excellent voice.  So I was smiling to myself and listening to my classmate tell us about the Socratic method (which, in its basic form, is a series of questions formulated as tests of logic and fact intended to help a person or group discover their beliefs about some topic), when I saw the Lord (who was sitting next to me as I perched on a tabletop) lean over and punch me lightly on the shoulder.  He grinned and wiggled his eyebrows and said, “You know, Peg, I use this method with you all the time.  It’s not really Socrates’.”

I very nearly burst out laughing.  I think I might have actually clapped a hand over my mouth.  Because it’s true.  The Lord is ALWAYS posing questions to me and not giving me the answers.  He knows I’m going to go after them, and he knows I love rabbit trails…so if I ask HIM questions, he answers me with questions.  And he’s smiling the whole time, which aggravates me and makes me smile, too.  He’s so much fun – if anyone ever tells you the Lord doesn’t have a great sense of humor, pray that he/she would get a revelation because God is the funniest person I know.

Finally, a few nights ago, driving home from class, I was thinking about the recent Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year that took place at the end of September.  I was thinking that I really need to learn more about the Jewish calendar and the connections between it and what’s happening in the Christian world, when I passed a tire shop that advertised Goodyear tires.  Except that one of the “O’s” was burned out, so the sign read “G odyear.”  I saw that and IMMEDIATELY heard the Lord tell me that this new year was going to be full of Him and His purposes, that He had it covered, and I felt such a sweet sense of both peace and anticipation.  I can’t wait to see what He does.

I’m sharing all of this to encourage you and tell you that God is rarely silent.  It’s just that sometimes He speaks languages that you may not yet have learned.  But if you pay attention, He’s definitely speaking and He wants you to understand.  Ask Him to teach you a new language this week – and then open your eyes and ears and get ready to receive some fun stuff!

The Garden of Eden/Turdburger Rant

Sigh…today I read an article about a Japanese scientist who has figured out a way to make a meat substitute from “sewage mud,” which is the polite Japanese way of saying “human poop.”  (If you really want to read about this, here’s a link: http://www.naturalnews.com/032715_turd_steaks_human_waste.html?refid=0 ).  Upon reading said article, I quickly cycled through the “That is rePULsive!” and “Who in his right mind would even think to do this?” and “Who in his right mind would actually EAT this?” stages and landed with a decisive THUD on the “Why do human beings think they can improve on every single thing God ever made?” stage.  And there I have stayed.

Quite frankly, this trait of ours irritates me.  In regard to this latest “scientific” discovery, it’s bad enough that we now raise most of our meat in gigantic, unethical, unsanitary feedlots. (In fact, I only buy grass-fed, organically-raised meat from a local farmer to feed my family because of how gross feedlots are.)  But at least it’s actual meat and not POOP!  I mean, really.  Why have we taken a perfect source of protein, made for us by a very smart Creator, and decided to “improve” on it by making a fake version of it out of caca????  Do you think the Lord is up there shaking his head in unbelief at our stupidity?  Or maybe even questioning his decision never to flood the earth again?  I would, if I were in charge.  It’s probably good that I’m not…

We do this kind of stupid stuff a lot, us humans, and we’ve done it from the very beginning.  We thought we needed to eat from the one verboten tree in the Garden, to “improve” ourselves – and look where it got us.  We built a giant tower in homage to ourselves, to “make a name for ourselves,” and yeah, that worked out well, too (reference Genesis 11:1-9).  In modern-day society, we’ve added antibiotics and hormones to food animals and genetically modified food plants in the name of making them “better.”  We’ve got a pill for every ill, real or imagined, to fix the issues created by our “better” diet.  We’ve set up unrighteous laws and regulations because we are convinced we can govern ourselves “better” with them than with the original Law (and its fulfillment).  We’ve bastardized the covenant of marriage – because it’s “better” for us if we give it a trial run before committing.  We’ve made “gods” out of all kinds of things because the idea of a sovereign, holy God is outdated, uneducated/unenlightened, inconvenient to our self-serving lifestyle.   And on and on.  Very few things have remained “unimproved,” much to our detriment…

The question of why we do this was completely hypothetical, by the way.  I know why we do it.   It’s pride, pride that has gone way past healthy and into sinful territory.  And it bugs the daylights out of me that we are so stubborn and locked on to this desire to elevate ourselves above all else.  God created us to be creative beings, and that is an amazing thing.  But for some of us, it’s not enough.  We must be the best or the only creator.  We must make all things “better” than their original design.  The saddest part about it is what a counterfeit of freedom this results in, and how many people accept it as the real thing.  Kind of like turdburgers.  They will never, ever come close to being as good as real burgers made from ground-up cow.  Ever.  But the scientist who developed the product feels that with the right kind of marketing, people will buy his poop meat happily.  If that doesn’t sound like the marketing tactics employed by the enemy, I don’t know what does.

I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, “HEY, WORLD!  STOP SETTLING FOR POOP MEAT!  STOP BELIEVING THE LIES!  TRY THE REAL THING FOR ONCE AND SEE IF IT ISN’T TOTALLY AWESOME!!!”  I wonder if anyone will listen.

Save the Drama for Yo’ Daddy…or Not

We had some minor drama go down at the casa tonight.  It started after the hubby and M finished reading their nightly chapter together and Hubby promised M a bonus chapter after he took a shower and got into his pj’s.  Unfortunately, my exhausted husband, who rarely gets a solid night of sleep because of his job, fell asleep on the couch while M was showering, and I sent him upstairs to bed at 7:30.  My normally unflappable six-year-old fell to pieces when he discovered this.  In an attempt to divert his attention, I suggested we take a couple of chairs outside and enjoy the beautiful evening before he went to bed.  It seemed to work…for a few minutes.

So there we were on the back porch, talking about finches and herb gardens and the like, and everything was fine until M said, “I wish Dad was out here with us.”  Aaaaand, round 2.

M:  It’s not faiiiiiiir.  Dad prooooomised.  Waaaaahh!

Me:  Dad was super-tired.  You know he works very hard for us, and he just needed to sleep.

M:  I’m so disapoiiiiiiinted!  Waaaaahhhh!

Me:  You’re really upset, aren’t you?  I’m sorry this has disappointed you so much.  Dad didn’t do it on purpose.  His body was just very tired, and he couldn’t stay awake.

M:  This has ruined my life!

Me (dubiously):  It has?

M:  Well, a little.

At this point, I had turned my face away because I couldn’t keep the smile off it.  But M saw it and said, “MOM!  DON’T LAUGH AT ME!  THIS IS SERIOUS!”  [If anyone on the planet can offer me hints on how not to burst into laughter upon hearing something like this, please share.  It’s too late this time, but at least I’ll know for the future.]  I did actually manage not to laugh until M started giggling.  He climbed in my lap and said, “I knew your ninja powers would make me laugh!”

Well, thank the Lord for small miracles, and for Mama ninja powers.   We went upstairs, and as M said his goodnight prayers, I was concerned we were going to have round 3.  I suggested that we say prayers for Dad to get good rest and blessings for taking such good care of us, and M, back to his normal self, did so gallantly and without another meltdown.  One of the things I love best about my kid is that he’s never been prone to temper tantrums.  Even when he was two and three years old, I found that if I gave him the freedom to express his feelings and then explained what was going on in a way he could understand, he would respond in a thoughtful, intelligent way.  I can honestly say that he never once threw a fit in the grocery store or in a restaurant, etc.  So this little episode tonight caught me a bit off guard, and it got me to thinking.

How many times have we overreacted to a situation because we didn’t truly understand what was going on?  I’m not discounting M’s disappointment, which I think went beyond the fact that he didn’t get his way and actually had more to do with the fact that he adores his daddy and cherishes their reading time together.  But M does not have the understanding of how taxing J’s job truly is and how tired it makes him because M doesn’t have to work for anything yet.  M doesn’t know how it feels not to get enough sleep because his world is such that he always does – his mom and dad make sure of it.  M can’t comprehend his father’s heart towards him, which is never, ever to hurt or disappoint him if possible, because he is not yet in a position to have paternal feelings of his own.  Like M, sometimes we find ourselves in situations we can’t comprehend, and we act out according to our lack of knowledge.

I wonder how often we do that with God.  How often do we try to process His big, gigantic plans through our teeny-tiny understanding?  How often do we whine, “It’s not faaaaaaaaiiiir,” or “You haven’t done what you said you’d do,” never realizing that there is so much more going on behind the scenes than what we know?  If you’re anything like me, you’ve caught Him trying to hide His laughter more than once.  And if you’re like me, you realized how silly you sounded and started laughing, too.

I’m glad my ninja powers made my son giggle and feel better.  And I’m even more glad that my Daddy has way more than ninja powers to set my world right.  I just need to trust that He knows what He’s doing, even when the situation makes no sense to me.  If you’ve got one of those situations right now, ask Him about it.  He’ll explain it to you in a way you can understand, if you just listen.  Or maybe He’ll just hold you in His lap, if that’s what you need more than information.  Either way, He’ll ask you to trust Him.  And it’ll be okay.

Shivering @#!% Balls, Batman!

DISCLAIMER:  This post is COMPLETELY the hubby’s fault!

I had thought I wasn’t going to write on the weekends, you know, save my time for the family and such.  But I was sitting here laughing at a friend’s blog, and it stirred the urge to create.  Unfortunately, the urge and the actual creating just weren’t cooperating, and I refuse to phone it in.  I looked at the hubby and said, “I got nothin’.”  To which he replied, “You got bupkis.”

Me: “What?”

Hubby: “Bupkis.  You got bupkis.  Google it.”

I commenced Googling, and Oh, Em, Gee.  The hubby began to get slightly alarmed, as I started laughing to the point of tears.  While he was correct in believing it’s a way to say “absolutely nothing,” the word bupkis comes from the Yiddish for “large beans or goat droppings” and is often translated as meaning small round fecal pellets, referring to the shape of  said goat droppings.  A colorful, though more emphatic expression (in Yiddish more so than in English) is “Bupkis mit Kuduchas”, translating roughly to “shivering @#!% balls.”

Maybe I’m just sort of immature, but you’d be laughing, too, if you could see the visual I got upon reading this.  I’m not even sure I can explain…

At any rate, there IS a lesson to be learned here (and it’s not “don’t listen to your husband.”) 🙂 🙂 🙂  What I got from it was this:  Make sure you know REALLY well what you’re talking about before you open your mouth.  You never know who’s in your audience, whom you might offend inadvertently, or how easily you can make yourself look like a blithering idiot. (See Proverbs 13:16)

Happy rest of the weekend, y’all!

Evasive Maneuvers, or How to Escape the Tamale Fiends

I spend a lot of time in HEB. For those of you not in Texas, it’s Howard Edward Butt’s eponymous grocery store chain, based out of San Antonio. It’s decent, as grocery chains go, and each store seems to have its own “flavor.” Here in the tiny burg I currently call home, we have what’s known as an HEB Plus, which sells non-food items like small electronics and so forth, as well as groceries. The flavor of this particular store is along the lines of “country folks tryin’ to appear sophisticated-like.” In other words, they sell Brie and a few imported olive mixes but look askance at me when I ask for wild-caught red snapper:

[Fish counter gentleman: “Ma’am, that’ll run ya $25 a pound and you’ll need to order it special. No one in these here parts’ll pay that much for fish, so we don’t stock it.”
Me: “But your sign says you have it.”
FCG: “Uh, yeah. That’s an old sign, there. Guess I best take it down.”
Me: “Sigh…you know, your corporate slogan is, ‘Here, Everything’s Better.’ This isn’t better.”
FCG: “Uh…”]

So I’ve had to come to terms with my store’s limitations: I go into Austin when I need expensive fish or turbinado sugar, and I just get the basics here. Which is what I was doing this afternoon when the tamale fiends came out to play. (Now, I need to preface this by saying that I live in a HIGHLY Caucasian-populated area. Having lived on the southeast side of Austin for the last six years, it’s a bit disconcerting, to the point that I actually notice when people are of other ethnicities.) M and I walked in the door and were instantly accosted by a VERY cheerful Caucasian lady trying to foist “tamollys” on us. I said no thank you and we continued on our way. She followed us a few steps, calling, “But we have chicken and beeeeeeeeef!”  M and I giggled and headed for the cheese aisle. A few minutes later, on the bread isle, we were almost run over by an elderly white gentleman pushing a tamale cart. This man has a very distinctive voice – he gets on the PA system regularly and admonishes us to “remember what your grandmaw says: You’re gonna get a lickin’ if you don’t buy an HEB Rotisserie Chicken!”  Today, he was wandering the aisles singing a very loud, twangy song about tamales. He saw us, got a gleam in his eye, and pushed his cart full throttle (way faster than I would have thought possible for a man of his age) towards us. I looked at M and said, “Quick! Turn around and walk really fast!” We escaped for the moment, but he was relentless. It seemed he must have figured out how to fold space and time because that man showed up on almost every aisle we walked down.

Finally, I started getting annoyed. My thinking was (quite honestly): “Why are they getting a bunch of white people with hick accents to sell tamales?? Oh, wait. Because that’s all there is up here.”  They’re NICE white people with hick accents; let me hasten to say. But still…there’s something missing in the translation. I decided to face Mr Tamale Hick head on. He was behind us, telling another customer that HEB had hired him to “walk down the aisles bein’ crazy and entertainin’ the shoppers.” As he started toward me, I stood my ground. He began to sing his song again, and when he wound down, I merely asked him, “Sir, did your vieja add enough manteca to her masa? Por que if not, your tamales will be reseco.”

Ahhhh, the golden sound of silence.  Behind me, a tiny Hispanic lady smiled and applauded noiselessly as the man stood there with a puzzled expression. M and I turned and headed for the milk.

*

Postlude:  What, no spiritual truth or life lesson today?  Well, there is this:  Many times, the enemy is relentless in his pursuit of us, trying to entice us with things we don’t need or want, counterfeits of what is best.  We just need to know the Word to say to stop him in his tracks.  With apologies to Matthew 4:4, man does not live on tamales alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

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