Saturday, January 29, 2011

Whataburger and the Texan way

I have not posted an entry related to my observations of Texas in awhile, so I thought today might be appropriate. Despite the fact that I could be napping right now, and actually wish I were.

We made a rare visit to the Whataburger drive-thru on Friday, and here is what we saw. How many comical things can you identify in this picture?

A. The American flag flying above the restaurant underscores this testament to the American way. Actually, I am surprised not to see a companion Texas flag next to it. Usually a Texas establishment such as this goes out of its way to accentuate its Texas-sized roots. After all, we all need to remember that Texas retains the right to secede from the Union should they ever so desire.

Sometimes I wonder, is there an unspoken agreement anywhere in which, should Texas ever really secede, all Texas-owned companies would draw back their business to only serve the home country?

And then I am also reminded that Dairy Queen would like us to believe they are one of those companies. They do call themselves, "The Texas Stop Sign." But did you know that DQ headquarters is located in Minneapolis? I bet most Texans don't know that either. Nor do I think they care, as long as DQ would continue to serve us after a secession. Failure to do so might constitute an act of aggression...

But about Whataburger:

B. The status-symbolic King Ranch edition F-350 pickup truck at the main pickup window probably constitutes the least notable thing about this scene. The plumber's truck behind it, also perfectly expected. The Cadillac in front of us? A little more interesting. Because it shows that in Texas, even rich old men visit Whataburger.

Anyone in the Whataburger advertising radius would recognize the voice that speaks their TV and radio spots. He sounds like one of the good old boys if I ever heard one. 

Last year I was startled to recognize that same voice speaking a radio spot for the local congressman's policial campaign. Apparently Chet Edwards attempted to appeal to the Whataburger demographic. Unfortunately, it did not win him reelection, but this was a tough year for all Democrats in strong Republican districts. I do not blame the Whataburger voiceover guy for lacking influence.

Funny fact, I have actually never heard a local refer to this place as "What-a-burger". For the first year I lived here, however, I did wonder about the "Waterburr" I kept hearing them mention. Made it a little challenging to meet anyone there for lunch, so I would politely decline invitations.

I have the Whataburger voice on the TV spot to thank, for finally helping me work out that the two are actually the same thing.  

Oh, right, I'm discussing the picture:

C. This Whataburger has an 'A' and a 'B' drive-thru lane, to accomodate the large numbers of customers we encountered at 1:45 on a Friday afternoon. I don't think that's exactly rush hour, yet here we are, three cars deep in Lane B as we wait for our order. A worker walks down the lane, collecting debit cards, then returning a few minutes later with food.

--Huh. Wonder if there's any relationship between this and the fact that the Captain's debit card was used fraudulently this morning at another local fast food restaurant. Surely not...

Not to worry, we have already addressed the charge and have a new card coming. But one remains curious as to where such a theft occurred.

D. I have time for one more random fact, then I must get back to my regularly scheduled weekend:

It's hard to tell in this picture, but the front stripe on the trademark corrugated roof of this Aggieland location is maroon, not orange. From what I hear, they appealed to corporate offices to paint the entire roof in A&M maroon stripes, especially because orange represents team colors of the school's biggest rival, UT Austin. The restaurant lost the appeal, but won this one concession.

And now you know.

Have a nice weekend, ya'll.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

God in the Yard :: Contemplation

I expected to be willingly led through the set of spiritual exercises outlined in this book, and instead I find myself challenging what I read.

Today the author suggests we look for God everywhere: in open sky and soaring bird; in barking dog and rusting fence. That perhaps it's okay if sometimes we don't start our search with Scripture and prayer. I believe this week's exercise directs me to stop, to wait on the Lord, to be still and see what happens. But I receive this with suspicion.

It's too easy.

At first blush, this sounds to me like an excuse for those who call themselves too busy, due to their pursuit of the American way. For the more I have buried myself in the Bible over the past four months, the more urgently I have sensed a need to pursue God--even to the point of excluding everyday life. If I were to just sit, with no agenda, how would that move me forward in my knowledge of God? Might I be wasting time?

My strong negative reaction startles me into realizing this is either a point on which I disagree, or a chance for me to listen to exactly what God does want to show me through the exercise of contemplation. After all, that is the goal of this experience.

I think, for me, putting God's word in my heart rises above all other priorities, because I believe it will change me and move me to the proper action.

Prayer, the presenting of my petitions before my advocate, follows closely behind.

But what about listening? Where does that fit in to the refining of my soul? What if I spend all my time reading the Bible and congratulating myself on my progress through the story? How about my sessions of throwing words at the throne, filling all the available space until I run out of time?

It's too easy to lose sight of the true goal.

When I spend all my time on me, do-ing, much of the transformative power of Scripture and prayer gets lost. Similar to not "setting" the hook when a fish nibbles at the bait. Or carefully preparing the soil of my garden, then neglecting to water it.

Which may or may not be something I do in real, physical, actual life, with my real-life backyard garden, after my husband builds me a greenhouse to protect the plants through the Texas winter. Shh.

Contemplation, then, must be as important a spiritual practice as reading God's word and prayer. Grudgingly I acknowledge this might complete a trinity of most-essential practices.

The Apostle James (who I may or may not avoid reading regularly due to the challenging nature of his words) addresses the importance of listening, and being changed by it:

If you just listen [to God's message] and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law--the law that sets you free--and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. James 1:23-25 NLT

More than anything, I want to be changed by looking steadily into God's law. I don't know about you, but I remember best by taking notes, then going back and considering.

After wrestling with this idea and realizing its importance, I eagerly reach for more time to be alone and contemplate. To allow my Maker to water the garden of my heart.

And I sense small shoots beginning to emerge from the formerly dry, cracked soil. And it feels good.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Habit Forming

January 21, 2011.

Today marks the end of the third week of this still-new year. I heard once that a new habit forms after 21 days of repetition. Have you developed any new habits yet this year? Are you still putting one foot in front of the other?

Today probably already marks the end of new year resolutions for some. Exercise? Perhaps new gym members are already beginning to decline in their workout regimen. Diets? Well, let's be honest: did yours last even until the second week?

I wonder if breaking a bad habit takes the same effort as creating a new habit. I have been trying to break the habit of biting my lip for years, and have only rarely gotten past day 1. Started again this week, and can't make it more than six hours. That's discouraging, but I will prevail sooner or later.

Are you wondering about my new "clean counter" habit? I knew you were. I did not start that on the first day of the year, but today does mark two weeks of success. I sense success with this, and it motivates me to continue my efforts. Here, a quick photo of how it looks right now:

This uncluttered state singlehandedly contributes VOLUMES to my well of peacefulness at any given time throughout the day. I so want this to be a new normal.

How do you fare with your resolutions, your goals for 2011? Did you set a One Word? How has it spoken to to you in the past three weeks?

My Word is Drink. I have determined to drink deeply from God's well this year.

In the past three weeks I have finished my goal of reading through the Bible in 90 days. What a sense of accomplishment that has given me! Even more, though, it has affected the way I view the world. It has upended my priorities, challenged me to see beyond the mundane of the life I currently lead. The habit of reading 12 chapters a day became enjoyable, something after which I thirst. So I started over in Genesis the next day.

In the past three weeks, I have set a new goal of memorizing the book of Colossians this year. Tomorrow is recitation day for week three. I have found myself reaching for my memory book first thing in the morning, perusing it over my coffee, making sure I have it when I travel out of the house. So far, this new habit has stuck.

With a clean kitchen counter and God's word running through my mind, I gradually find I have time again for my default pursuit, writing.

Today I begin again with a long-term writing goal. I have set myself a goal of presenting a book proposal at a conference in July. I am a little nervous to share this with you, as you might hold me to it! But transparency and accountability are two of my highest values. I hope to follow through on this goal, and will be using habit-forming techniques to get there.

Will keep you up to date with my progress.

How are you doing with your habit forming, this January 21?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

God in the Yard :: The Way

Three months ago, I began to read God in the Yard. As I realized the commitment requested of me in reading it, I realized I could not fully commit until January.

Chapter 1 had invited me to find a small space and commit to visiting it regularly while considering the topic of spiritual discipline. In the intervening three months, I have found my thoughts returning to the idea of that small space. It's an important concept, because a small space would allow me to become mentally free of the mundane for a few moments at a time.

Eventually I realize, I just enjoy sitting on my couch with a favorite mug of coffee and my bag containing Bible, journal, pen, current book, and a few assorted odds and ends. The bag makes the space my Small Space, in whatever corner of the house, or the world, I find myself with a few quiet moments.

On the first day of this year, I sat down with my Small Space, pulled out God in the Yard, and began reading Chapter 2: The Way. I have approached this chapter more slowly than the last, over the course of 13 days instead of a single afternoon.

I confess this is partly because I am still in a hurry, impatient because I still don't get where the author is trying to lead me. And I don't want to progress further until I feel I have fully experienced . . . whatever it is I am supposed to experience. After all, my One Word for this year is Drink. I want to drink deeply of whatever will help me draw near to God. So I persist, trying to find my own way, my own rhythm.

January 1
What quiet space? I do not have quiet spaces in my day, to let myself simply drift, to allow God to come alongside me. I wish I had the willpower, the self discipline to wake early and meet God in the beginning of my day.

Can I change? I think people don't tend to change dramatically, unless God does it from the inside. I suppose if I worked harder at preserving my quiet spaces, I could have more of them. Can God work to preserve my soul, if I don't make time for quiet space to hear him leading me? I don't know.

January 10
I believe failure to fly can be dangerous, because it indicates failure to develop properly. Paul addresses believers with this problem, saying they should be ready for meat by now, but they are still only mature enough for spiritual milk. And I suspect this may be true of me.
Can God change me? This is the one thing I seek right now. I drink from the well, almost desperately, desiring real change after decades of following him and sensing I could have done so much more of eternal significance by now.

Of the spiritual practices outlined in Scripture, I think the most obvious and all-encompassing is love. After that, I believe I am called to know God's message thoroughly. Bible study, memorization, teaching. Other important ones may stand behind those, but for now I am happy to dedicate myself primarily to the pursuit of these two.

January 13
I persevere into the next section, still a bit unclear about the direction this book attempts to lead. Then a quote rises off the page as if waiting there just for me:
"My job is not so much to practice a rigid set of disciplines as to pay attention."
Perhaps the way leads me here: to my goal of developing the discipline, the habit, of attending to what God would show me. Perhaps that is the point of spiritual discipline.

If spiritual discipline leads to being attentive to God's leading, then bring it on.

What do I really want in the way of personal transformation?
I hope God leads me to a more attentive frame of mind that includes being self-disciplined in my personal habits. I feel like I am failing (and flailing) at life. I want to feel in control of my family life. To have peace, a haven for my family to come to.

Peace; Patience; Self-Control. Those are the fruits struggling to grow in the garden of my soul, that I so desire to cultivate.

After accepting the Invitation, I begin to understand that The Way to pursue this journey toward God specifically involves learning to pay attention.

As it happens, the author is reading through this book and interacting with it, at the same time I am. She shares her journey on her blog here:

love notes button
l.l. barkat
I begin to feel encouraged that God may honor my attempt at pursuing him with my whole heart. My Small Space; my One Word; my Bible Memory project; all are my way of Paying Attention.

Speak, Lord.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Priorities, Part 1

Saturday, my firstborn turned nine years old. I declare, I do not know where the time has gone, because I remember the early days and years with her, feeling like she was at-home and preschool age for EVER. And those years have been over for more than three years already.

Sunday, our pastor spoke about priorities. How our top priority has to be pursuing Jesus, and how we have to seize every moment for him: "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" Psalm 90:12. His words resounded strongly in my heart, and I will post more about it soon.

After church, we drove home in a rainstorm.  I drove cautiously, remarking how unsafe the road felt.

Monday, I learned that another family from my church was involved in a terrible weather-related traffic accident after church, resulting in the death of their nine year old son. The injuries of the parents were so severe that they were not even told of the loss of their only child until Monday morning.

I know death reaches for us all sooner or later. I understand that disease and accidents and even more terrible things are part of the world around me. I do not know this family personally, although my daughter knew their son casually.

Yet. Regardless of my further connection, they are part of my church family. The news has shaken me and broken my heart.
  • We were in church together, listening to the same message about making every day count. 
  • We left church in the same rainstorm.
  • Their son was the same age as my daughter. 
  • And my family made it home.
Just as I marvel at the gift of three healthy pregnancies, today I marvel at the gift of a safe ride home from church on a rainy Sunday.

I do not understand how God's heart does not break at the pain these parents will experience today and onward. Perhaps it does. But I cast myself on God's grace, that he is sufficient for even this circumstance.

I stake my hope on the bigger story, in which this little boy's death was not an end, but a crossing into eternity.

Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Be with this family as they begin to make sense of their lives today. Show me how to make every day count for you, because none of us knows how much time we have to be an influence in this life.

Mega Memory Month :: Colossians 1:1-5

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To God's holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people-

Because I am crazy, and because I earnestly desire to drink deeply from God's well of living water, I have committed to memorize the book of Colossians in 2011.

The idea is, "Committing hearts to him and his words to heart."

In an auspicious beginning, I have memorized four verses so far.

Those of you participating in Mega Memory Month with Ann Kroeker are probably way ahead of me. But I am running a marathon, so I concede the sprint to you.

So far, I have not needed any special memory tricks. I have also not received any special epiphanies. But it will happen. I also expect to start needing memory aids by next week, if not in the next two days.

In related news, two days ago I finished reading my way through the Bible, cover to cover. It took me 106 days instead of the goal of 90, but was my best finish ever. It impacted me so much I started again yesterday, on a 350 day pace.

What other job exists for the follower of Jesus, than to drink deeply of Scripture and be changed by it?

All I can do is encourage those journeying through life alongside me to pick up the challenge. Drink God's Living Water.

It will change your life.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

God in the Yard :: Invitation

I finally joined the club. More accurately, I believe there is a club somewhere and I will find myself drawn into the current of it as I read and journal my way through this book.

This book has quietly haunted the to-be-read pile for three months, but the time now arrives to add it to the much smaller in-progress pile. New year, new goal of drinking from the well, both a good fit for this new beginning.

God in the Yard
l.l. barkat

As I understand it, God in the Yard gently leads the reader through a 12 week course in pursuing spiritual discipline, with the desired end result of growing closer to God. I could use that.

Three months ago, I began chapter 1 with a sense of anticipation and mystery, not really knowing where this road would lead. I discovered that each chapter contains interactive questions placed after each thought, giving the reader the opportunity to read and reflect before continuing.

Although the breaks allow one to slowly digest a chapter over the course of several days, I ended up drinking in that first chapter in a single afternoon. My initial journal response to the Invitation mostly just answered the questions, as I was still gathering my bearings:
October 23
I actually have a chance to sit outside today, in relative quiet. On this balmy, late October afternoon, wind rustles trees with promise of a change in the weather; nearby pool provides a pleasant sound of running water; children and dogs play in the distance. I open a new book, put pen to a new journal.

When I was a child, I lived in the world of books: of fiction, far-off fairytales, fascinating adventures. Today I live a fulfilling real world life, full of adventure and even a fair amount of fairytale. But the mundane sometimes threatens to suffocate me.

If I could, I would return to my late 20's, the time of my greatest independence, before kids. In order to grow, I feel like I need more time to be quiet. If I could, I would go away for the weekend. Every weekend.

If I commit to finding and going to a small space, I am afraid I will just become discouraged over another failure to follow through on something. It's hard enough to keep up with the housework, I don't feel like I can justify committing to something that takes me away from the work.

I should not bother with committing to a small space for 12 weeks right now, because the next 12 weeks are the busiest of the year.

I believe my soul is bigger and wiser than I, because I constantly crave something more than the everyday.
Wistfully, I set the book aside and turned my thoughts toward the present, and the upcoming events of the final 12 weeks of the year. I tucked the book into my bag, silently promising it, "I will return for you."

The invitation had been received. I made my RSVP. And on January 1 (only ten weeks later), I opened my book to chapter 2. My pursuit of spiritual discipline is back on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hard Frost

Gardening in January
Tonight's forecast predicts the coldest night of this winter, with a low of 22 degrees.

This afternoon Boo helped me harvest a gallon size ziplock bag of mixed lettuce greens, as well as a handful of plump carrots. I love my greenhouse.

The greenhouse, a labor of love on the part of my hubby, has stood rather neglected for a few weeks. Out of sight, I forget to water my plants regularly. The heat-loving melons, tomatoes and peppers have long since shriveled. Partly from cold, and partly from neglect.

Yet some of the the remaining produce has quietly grown even without my attention. The artichokes stand an obnoxious four feet wide and tall, but without flowers. The peas gave a few pods but mostly seem to just thrive on putting out edible stalks. By all appearances, lettuce and cauliflower plants enjoy this time of year very much.

I wonder, can the plants in my mostly neglected greenhouse withstand tonight's hard frost?

Well-watered plants survive frost better than dry ones.  Had I watered my garden before the first frost six weeks ago, I might still have tomatoes and peppers. Had I tended and nurtured the remaining plants a little more carefully, I imagine they would not be merely surviving, but thriving through this cold season.

My Heart's Garden
I see some connections between this greenhouse and the garden of my heart. Jesus shared a gardening story in Mark 4, about a farmer who went out to sow some seed:

4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.

Jesus later explains the elements of this parable. God is the farmer. The seed is God's truth, and the types of soil are the various responses people have to God's truth.

I once thought that each type of soil referred to a different type of person, and that my response was of the "good" soil variety.

Later I realized that if my heart is a garden, I allow a lot of thorns to grow up and choke out what productivity God might desire from my life. Let's face it, life constantly throws distractions at us, and I allow myself to be distracted a lot.

As I garden in my backyard, I realize more and more the importance of pulling weeds, removing pests, and providing the right amount of sunlight and water, in order to have a good crop. Soil quality is important, yes, but so are those other elements--and they require constant attention!

The greenhouse garden will probably survive tonight's hard frost.

If my heart's garden were to experience a hard frost, could it survive? It may not be tonight, but the seasonal nature of life indicates a frost will come, sooner or later.

This year I have committed to memorize the book of Colossians. I am about to finish my first successful attempt at reading straight through the Bible. Both are part of my 2011 goal of Drinking from the Well of Living Water. I believe that these recent efforts at tending my heart's garden are exactly the kind of preparations the Master Gardener wants to make so my heart garden can not only survive, but produce a thriving crop of whatever he has planted there.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

First layer success

I have accomplished the first part of my goal, which is to display my open Bible on the otherwise empty kitchen counter. Yahoo!

Okay, it's a smidge premature. I cannot show you the kitchen table. But this sight truly brings lightness to my heart.

This project consumed my day yesterday, because it also involved putting away a few Christmas decorations. Not many so far, but more to come in the next couple hours.

My day also involved creating a Bible memory booklet for Colossians. Since I know my goal for the year is to drink from the well, it's natural to see that memorizing Scripture fits with that goal as surely as my Kitchen Counter Bible reading plan. 

More about this memory plan next week, but if the idea of memorizing a book of Scripture in 2011 appeals to you, you are welcome to join the community on Facebook. Just two verses a week, it's not to late to join up!

Read the genesis of the idea on Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience.

I must return to the Christmas decorations and the kitchen table. To be honest (as I always am, right?), the kids and the carpets need some attention as well.

But I wanted to share these things with you. Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A little transparency

I think the time has come to 'fess up. Here sits the monkey on my back, the besetting sin that will not quit.

I am a messy.

I could elaborate, but Neil Diamond knew the truth that a picture paints a thousand words:

Yes, you also see the Christmas tree in the background.
I will get to putting that away when I get to it.
Would you like to watch me try to break my messy habit, while juggling 3 kids and the accompanying 15 meals a day, 10 loads a week tidal wave?

I can not promise satisfaction. But I am tired of living with myself, so I have developed a personal challenge for the rest of this month. Maybe even (ack!) this year. And maybe, if I know you are watching, I will meet the challenge. At the very least I will have reached for it.

I am going to clear off this counter ... permanently. Starting with every day for the rest of January, I will fight to keep it free of clutter, by attending to it every day.

To make room for my open Bible.

You see, I have been waiting all week to get that counter clear so I could present my Kitchen Counter Bible reading plan, as mentioned earlier this week. What better way to implement my One Word than to keep the well of Living Water open on my kitchen counter, day in and day out?

My progress so far has been . . . less than stellar. I hate details SO much.

So I am showing it to you NOT clear in the hope that within 24 hours, I can show you the "after" photo, and begin my weekend with a lighter heart.

Here's my detailed plan.

Step 1: Just do it.
Step 2: When faced with a stall, pick up one item and put it away, every time I walk past the counter.
Step 3: Next time, don't put it down there in the first place.

It's foolproof, right?

Maybe after I succeed at this task, I'll keep going and edit all the cupboards and drawers in my kitchen. That sounds like a nice project while the Captain attends his business training in Chicago next week.

But I lose focus.

Will post again when I have that "after" ready to show off, and my victory dance prepared.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One Word for 2011: Drink

I did not know at first. But when it came to me, I recognized it instantly, as familiar as my favorite hoodie.

This year I have set goals for writing, for time management, for exploring my creative side, for reading through the Bible again.

But to focus those goals, to distill them down to One Word, could I do that? After reading an inspiring post from Alece, the idea camped on a background processor in my brain and set to work without my really intending it.

A few years back I purchased a new Bible for myself; a New Living Translation, slimline, full metal jacket edition marketed to young adults. It is even hinged. The cover features the embossed outline of the lid of a soda can, with the question, "Thirsty?"

I have never cared one way or the other about the image on the front. I just loved the idea of a shiny silver hardcover on my book. That way if I happened to get shot while reading it, and happened to be carrying it in a chest pocket, it could protect my heart by catching the bullet.

What? It could happen.

Seriously, I love metaphor; and although it is a bit cheesy, I always appreciate the metaphor of drinking from God's Word.

God uses water in many redemptive ways throughout the Bible, from the Great Flood to the parting of the Red Sea, from the buckets of water drenching Elijah's sacrifice to the symbolic medium of John the Baptizer. But my favorite of all is found in John 4, when Jesus straight-up tells the Woman at the Well that he has water she can drink, after which she will never thirst again.

Drink Deeply
Late last year, I began to seek God's Word more intensely as the source of life water for my soul. Of course, right? September found me buried in Judges, writing a Bible study; in October I embarked on reading through the Bible in 90 Days; in November I began a series on teaching others to Unlock the Bible. The more I got into Scripture, the more I craved it. And through it all this thought crystallized,

before I can share God's wisdom,
I need to drink deeply  from his well.

The crave continues. This newfound "addiction" leads me closer to God. His words spring to mind more frequently while engaged in conversation. His thoughts flavor my perspective of life. And when I find myself off-balance, the well is the thing I turn to for reassurance.

So last night, when my word came to me, I recognized it immediately. I would love to spend an entire year focused on this one thing. I believe it will continue to influence me in growing measure, and will direct my personal goals into exactly the reality they are meant to have.


(Ha, ha. No, not that. Although sometimes . . . no. Not that. You know what I mean.)

Drink from the well.
Drink, and quench the thirst.
Drink, and share. Share life.

What is your One Word for 2011?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Living the Vicarious Life

This morning, we jumped back into our routine with both feet. And very little of the routine:
  • After dropping the kids at school, I shuttled the Captain up to the county courthouse for jury duty. Now that we have one car, we have to finesse car usage just a bit.
  • I called the pediatrician to make an appointment for Rooster, who told me last night after weeks of coughing, "Mama, I can't breathe. No, not in my nose; I can't take a full breath from down here."
  • I returned to the school to shuttle Rooster to the pediatrician, where he received a breathing treatment, a laundry list of prescriptions, and a diagnosis of bronchitis.
  • I dropped the prescriptions off at Walgreens, and Lulu off at her Mothers' Day Out program.
  • Rooster and I dropped in on Grammy to say hi and tidy up a bit after our weekend out there. We also watched parts of Fantasia.
  • I returned to Walgreens for medications, and was about to pick up Lulu before our final return home when the Captain phoned in on his lunch break with a jury duty report.

Apparently this is a bigger trial than any I have sat on, as the selection process itself was only halfway completed. He has been told that if he is impaneled with this jury, he should expect to be committed to it until the end of next week. Next week!

This could be very interesting. Nighttime work deployments this week, Burdine boys flying in this weekend for family Christmas, a random business trip scheduled next week. Is it okay to admit I've got my fingers crossed for him that he will be finished with his civic duty by the end of this day?

Did you know an Albuterol chamber dispenser looks just like a gun?
Neither did I, until his chubby hands reached out, "I want to touch it!"

In the car with the whole family on the way to school, conversation centered around what each of us was up to today. Daddy was going someplace else today (a novelty when you work from home); the kids had school and a potential appointment. Then...

"What's Mommy doing today?" Rooster wondered. 
Boo responded with, "Mom is doing everything else." 
To which Roo countered, "No, she is just spending her entire day taking us to the everythings we are doing."

Thank you for noticing! At least it is interesting to see what everyone else in the family has going on today.

So much for a quiet reboot to my year. Truth be told, I wouldn't have it any other way, or I might get bored. But right now, I am going to stare at a wall for an hour before the bus brings Boo home and we await the Captain's call to drive back to the courthouse and pick him up.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ready to Find the Kitchen Counter

I locked myself in the bathroom this morning. On purpose.

And I stayed there longer than I needed to, despite the urging of Wee Willie Winkie here, cragging at the locks and otherwise trying every trick at her disposal to lure me back onto the chaotic scene of the Last Day of Christmas Vacation.

I would describe my status today as READY to resume normal life, with two kids in school and the third with occasional morning parole.

While locked in the bathroom, I reached Day 79 of my Bible in 90 Days reading plan. I was supposed to have finished it on January 1, but the holiday season hit me like a big splashy tidal wave, and I missed a few weeks. Instead of being two days post-Revelation, I have just reached Acts.

I briefly considered allowing myself to feel overwhelmed and depressed about not finishing on time.

But you are likely thinking something more generous, and I have chosen to see the positives here as cause for celebration:
  • I have come further than ever before in a Thru-the-Bible reading plan. 
  • I finished the Old Testament before pausing. 
  • I already know I am going to finish this time. 
  • And I have already decided to do it again (a little slower) in 2011.

Reading through the Bible in the last few months, in this full-immersion way, has been life-changing. I cannot believe I have allowed so many periods of my life slip away without daily pouring its life-giving words on my dry soul. At all costs, I know this habit must continue.

This morning I stumbled across a fabulous idea to encourage me in my Bible reading: Just open the Bible and leave it out on the kitchen counter. Read a page or two here and there as time permits, just have that be the thing lying around to be read.

At the end of the excellent article proposing the Kitchen Counter method, was an alternate Bible reading method, for Shirkers and Slackers. Because it's usually the guilt of feeling like a slacker that keeps us from finishing what we have started, isn't it?

Or perhaps I just revealed a personal secret...

No. I do not believe I am alone in this. So for all my friends who fail often in their attempts to read the Bible, I present the Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers.

Someday, I may try that plan. You may have noticed that it only requires a week-long commitment. However, during this season in my life, that's just not realistic.

Now, it's time to clear off the kitchen counter, to make room for my open Bible. Join me?

On In Around button

This post is linked up with On, In, and Around Mondays, as a chance to describe the place from which I see the world today. I suppose that place is the solitude of a tiny bathroom, in which certain truths achieve clarity.