Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How Dare They!

Not to sound like a country song, but somebody done did me wrong recently.

And I was steaming inside.

I tried my best to stay calm and look unconcerned during the event, although I think I failed. I’m a personally confessed EEP, and I’m afraid I can’t hide my feelings well.

After the event was over, I regaled my husband for an hour about how mad I was. It went a little like this:

“How dare they touch MY stuff!”

“How dare they SHOVE my personal belongings aside!”

“Do I grab THEIR stuff without asking?”

“How dare they order ME around!”

“Who do they think THEY are?”

“They’re not the boss of ME! We’re CO-workers!”

“They better keep their HANDS OFF!

“I’m NOT some peon who’ll meekly do whatever I’m told.”

“They’ve got another THINK coming.”

“What am I? Chopped liver?!”

As you might have guessed, God’s not finished with me yet. And (more obviously) you can see exactly how well I’d do on the mission field.

As my anger smoldered inside, I fanned the flames by recounting (again) to my husband how angry I was. God bless him, he chanced my wrath (and it WAS wrath at that point) by offering another view of the encounter. Incensed, I stormed off.

Later, I told my story to Mom. Although she smiled and nodded along at my frustration, I could see she thought I was a little…off.

After I was done, I took a breath and began to count out my options.

I could talk to the person and make it clear I was not some doormat to be stomped on.

I could say, “Please don’t order me around like that. You’re not in charge of me.”

I could go to the person’s supervisor and make an anonymous complaint.

Mom nodded, and then said, “You know, that would just create more work for that person, and you’ve said before how he doesn’t have time to spare. You could…”


“You could just let it go. You know, forgive him, and move on.”

What?! Why had I just wasted all my time telling my story if she was going to offer a SPIRITUAL solution? I mean, really.

I thought about it for a minute. Mom’s pretty smart and eons more spiritually advanced than yours truly. Plus, I’d (just that morning, in fact) asked the Holy Spirit to convict me when I screwed up.

And it was sounding like I was about to.

I made some noises about going to the person’s supervisor. But by the time I drove home and got ready for bed, I realized the Holy Spirit was working.

Again, I don’t physically HEAR the Holy Spirit’s voice, but the conversation went a little like this:

“Didn’t you just the other day post about how amazing forgiveness made you feel?”

“Well, yeah, but that was for ME.”

“Right, but not for other people?”

“Well, I guess. It’s just - he was rude to me, Holy Spirit. Rude! He told me what to do; he flung my belongings to the side. What if I’d had something breakable in my bag, Holy Spirit? What then?!”

Silence from the Holy Spirit for me to realize how stupid that previous comment sounded.


The realization dawned on me. I had been forgiven my 10,000 talent debt and then turned around to demand my 1 talent from someone else.

I was my own sermon illustration.

I was embarrassed. “Will I ever learn, Lord?” I muttered.

This morning, I tentatively asked the Holy Spirit again to convict me when I begin to give in to sin.

He’s doing a great job. I can’t turn around without being faced with the implications of what I say or do or even with what I don’t say or do.

The other thing I’ve been praying for recently is that I will be made aware of how much my forgiveness cost. I’ve been pleading that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ would be made real to me.

I found myself humbled when I thought of the many “How dare THEY!” statements Christ could have righteously made during His years on earth. And yet…He went humbly to a cross to die for me and my selfish sin.

My prayer has been answered for today. I found myself crying at the thought of Christ dying for me and my “How dare THEY!” attitude.

How dare I! How dare I! After all Christ has done for me. Another reminder of how I am indeed, a flawed person.

Flawed, but amazingly…forgiven. Yet again.

Your Chance to Help!

A family from our church is traveling to Liberia to adopt two sisters (ages around 5 and 7) from the Acres of Hope Orphanage. Instead of having a “shower” for the girls when they get back, the family is collecting much-needed supplies for the orphanage. The family will deliver the donated supplies to the orphanage when they pick up their daughters in February.

If you’d like to help, I’ve posted the wish list of needed items below. All items should be new.

My thought was that many of us have these things around our house and could part with one or another to make life easier for children in a third-world orphanage.

If you are able to donate anything, please comment, call, or e-mail me! Donations are needed by Sunday, February 3!

Acres of Hope Orphanage

Pedialite packets (little individual serving pouches you add to water)

We need a LOT of these to help battle dehydration caused by malaria and diarrhea.
Cloth diapers
Crib sheets
Twin sheets
Pierced earrings for girls

not dangling type
Light weight baby carrier
Bottle nipples

stages 1 to 3
2 or more collapsible infant seats
Infant and children's clothes, size preemie to 12.

Boy and girl items needed. Sundresses preferred for girls, shorts and T's for boys (plus socks and underwear for both)
Shoes in all sizes
All items needed for size 2 and under

(in special need of socks now due to the rainy season.)

Things we can always use:
Regular baby bottles

(not the kind you put the plastic liner in)
Bulb syringes

(large & small)

(various kinds)
Hand towels
Bath towels
Infant and children's vitamins
Misc. over the counter medicines and ointments

(Tylenol, liquid and tablets, Motrin, Naproxen, Benadryl, anti fungal oint, antibiotic oint, anti itch cream, etc.)
Sandals and other footwear

sizes newborn to 3 adult
Hair accessories/earrings for the girls
Safety pins

Things we do not need:

Receiving blankets
Burp clothes

During Rainy Season Needs: May-Oct.
Rainy season makes it so we need about twice as many diapers and sheets as usual. Also, the clothes and the diapers do suffer a lot of wear and tear with the constant hand washing. A lot of the diapers are falling apart. And the big kids especially go through their clothes very fast (since there are so many kids there).

Guest House Needs:

Immediate Needs:
Barbeque lighter

(for lighting gas stove)
DVD Player
Heavy Duty hand can opener
Rice cooker 15-20 cup
10 flat mattress bed covers

plastic (not fitted) Twin, Double, Queen, and King
5 Queen Size sheet sets

Drawing paper for kids
Coloring books
DVD’s children and adult (Christian)
Christian CD’s - various music
Chocolate chips (regular & white)
8-10 Plastic-glass looking glasses
10 person plastic plate (large & small size) like Corning wear
Tupperware with lids of all sizes (gently used in great condition is ok)
Coffee - any kind (medium blend)
Coffee РVarious kinds (French vanilla)(Lynda loves Millstone Kalua-Vanilla Cr̬me from Safeway.)
Crystal Light – various flavors
Dry Sauce mixes (mushroom, veggie, onion, chicken, beef, etc. any)
20-30 plastic or wire coated hangers
No stick metal baking dishes (cookie sheet, bread pans, and various sizes, (used in nice condition OK)
Dried –apple, bananas, etc. fruit & nuts.
C-D Batteries
Liquid and waterless hand soap, may be in large bottle (we have dispensers)
Instant oatmeal packets, various kinds
Extra pull-ups in various sizes (incase of lost luggage)
Hot chocolate packets
Vegetable seeds- melons, cucumbers-burpless, corn, tomatoes
Miracle Gro fertilizer
Hair gel for platting kids’ hair

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Inconvenient Sunday, Part II

Forgiveness! What a feeling!

You just don’t know what you’re missing until the Lord gets a hold of your heart and SHOWS you His grace is all sufficient for you.

Everything changes.

My old feelings of vanity, selfishness, and inconvenience changed into gratefulness. And not just for God’s great forgiveness.

I was grateful the Holy Spirit convicted me BEFORE I opened my mouth and spread seeds of ungratefulness. I was grateful we had a place to meet with the body of believers. Thankful we could meet freely in a free country. Joyful I had the physical ability TO walk, to get from place to place.

Forgiveness bombarded me with fresh perspectives.

Perspectives that sent my old nature - which had been consumed with ME - scurrying back into the dark to die a supernatural death.

I was deeply ashamed of my previous attitude, and yet so appreciative the Holy Spirit convicted me and forgiveness was forthcoming.

As we drove back to the morning service, my attitude was uplifted. I felt refreshed, having experienced a work of God in my heart.

I talked to my brothers and sisters in Christ and rejoiced in those moments. Again, I found myself thanking the Holy Spirit for taking a hold of me BEFORE I made (an even deeper) fool of myself.

We sang the morning hymns, and I asked the Lord to prepare my heart to listen to Mr. Dunford’s message.

It was easy to drift back into my old way of “not listening to the missionary” however, and I had to force myself to pay attention.

That is, however, until Mr. Dunford said, “I know how you feel about missions.”

I thought, “Yeah, I don’t really think so. See, I’ve never been all that passionate about missions, and you obviously are all gung-ho.”

Then he said, “Missions are inconvenient!”

I thought, “Huh?” I had never heard that sentiment from the pulpit before.

He said it with force and passion.

I found myself drawn into the message, wondering what kind of follow-up statement he could use.

“Missions are inconvenient,” he insisted. “Because when we hear about missions, we HAVE to DO something about it.

“We are so happy in our little word, consumed with what we are doing. When we hear about the plight of the unreached people in the 10/40 window, we have to put that little world aside, and actually DO something. It’s inconvenient.”

I was blown away. I’d never heard a missionary describe what I had been subconsciously thinking all these years.

Missionaries were supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows about missions.

Not this guy. He DID know how I felt about missions, after all.

He continued to preach, and I was treated to one of the best sermons on missions I’ve heard so far.

He talked about his family’s chosen field of China, statistics on the unreached people groups of the world, and how American churches – any church, I guess – should view the changing mission field.

I believe the Lord worked in my heart earlier to especially prepare me to receive this message. I saw my previous selfishness displayed alongside the way I, as a believer, was supposed to live – with others in view, not myself.

I was convicted by the message, and when the missionary beseeched us to think self-sacrificially. I found myself identifying. I was immediately challenged to find a way to help support missions.

At the close of the service, I could barely sit still. When God moves, there is a rich joy, a fulfillment that just defies words.

I spent the afternoon repenting of my selfish ways, rejoicing in God’s forgiveness, and asking for help and guidance in the weeks ahead so that I wouldn’t fall into the selfish sin trap again.

In the evening message, Pastor preached about backsliding and falling away from the things of the Lord. I found my heart tender to his entreaties.

It’s so interesting to me that God had been working my heart, so I would be receptive to the messages He wanted me to truly hear on this one Sunday.

I mean, it’s not exactly NEWS to most Christians, since God can work any way He wants, and I didn’t exactly receive fire from heaven.

But it still amazes me that He KNOWS the inner workings of my sinful, selfish heart. That the Holy Spirit cares enough to bring conviction. That it even matters to God that I – this wretched, wicked soul – am in the place to properly commune with Him and serve Him.

Me. A tiny, insignificant piece of dust. And He loves me, cares for me, sent His Son to die for me.

It’s…impossible to put into words.

But I’m grateful. Unbelievably, beyond thoughts and words, grateful. It seems too small a word to hold to the meaning.

So, it was an inconvenient Sunday. I didn’t get out of it what my selfish soul had hoped.

Instead, God blessed me beyond measure. When God works in your heart, it’s rarely convenient. But it’s needed, and in my case, especially this case, it’s shout-to-the-heavens appreciated.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

An Inconvenient Sunday, Part 1

Siberian Sunday School

My cute black shoes with the razor-thin bow – the shoes I bought explicitly for Sunday wear - are dirty.

The hem of my expen$ive, black velvet Sunday skirt from Coldwater Creek has been decimated by slush.

My Big Hair was Limp Hair before Sunday School even began.

Our Sunday was not off to a great start.

We arrived at our brand new beautiful church building for a scant minute or two, before learning the children were having Sunday School in the aforementioned beautiful new church building and the adults – the adults! – were going to have Sunday School in the grange hall down the street.

The grange hall. I thought we just bought a brand new beautiful building so we didn’t have to meet in a grange hall anymore!

So we schlepped back out into the ice-capped parking lot with our rapidly cooling cups of previously-hot beverages and headed to the grange hall.

The grange hall is fine. If you’re a grange.

The truth of the matter is I was more than a little peeved we were doing this all over again.

My beautiful church shoes were not meant to be death-marched through added layers of corrosive Illinois slush.

The added time in the harsh, below-zero-wind had reduced my fluffy, voluminous hair down to a mousy half-flip.

And the cold had forced us all to bundle up, so my pretty meant-to-be-seen skirt was completely obscured by boring black overcoat.

And the worst news of all…the missionary was back.

Our pastor had been so impressed with Brad Dunford, a missionary to China on deputation, last Sunday that he invited him to speak again this Sunday.

If we had known this, I believe we might have skipped church today. As it was, we skipped Sunday evening church last week because we knew “the missionary” was speaking.

Since I was a small child, I’ve believed missionaries to be a little strange. The expression “cooked in the head” comes to mind.

I could never understand what would compel someone to go halfway around the world to win unsaved people to the Lord, when they could walk five feet down the street and win their neighbor.

So, every time a missionary speaks in church, I take a commercial break. Most often to the tune of Gilligan’s Island.

My thoughts usually run like this: They’re going THERE. To help THOSE PEOPLE. They need MONEY. To go THERE. For THOSE PEOPLE. Uh, huh. Uh, huh. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! A three hour service.

Anyhoo, during last week’s Siberian march to Grange Hall Church, we had been subjected to Mr. Dunford’s multi-media presentation on missions and the most recent statistics on same.

This week, after the cold march, shoe and skirt tragedy, and hair that could have qualified as peat moss, I was already in quite a mood when I sat down on the cold metal folding chair inside the grange hall.

Upon learning of Mr. Dunford’s return, I was mightily ticked off.

“Didn’t we JUST hear this guy?” I whined to Brett. “Geez, we could have TiVo’d this.”

“What’s wrong, baby? Are you cold?” My husband didn’t realize I was shivering from irritation, not the frigid wind.

“I’m fine.” I snapped. “I don’t like this. Stupid grange hall.”

Like it was the grange hall’s fault.

I resigned myself to a half-hour of more mission stats. I shuffled my feet, popped a piece of gum, and checked my lipstick. Twice.

Geez, I was bored.

I looked around the room, searching for another face like mine. I know misery loves company. Misery also likes to complain, and I was hoping to find a sister Christian with whom I could share my horrible travails.

Or at least exchange exaggerated eye rolls.

As I searched the faces, I couldn’t find one person who looked as bored as I felt. People were listening intently, their faces schooled in concentration.

“Great. Nobody is even as ticked off as I am.” I thought furiously. “I can’t even have THAT in common with anyone.”

I chewed my gum vigorously and finally gave in to listening to the missionary. That lasted all about five minutes, before I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me about my attitude.

Obviously, I didn’t HEAR the Holy Spirit ACTUALLY talking to me. But the inward conversation went a little like this:

Holy Spirit:
“Not only are you having a rotten attitude about church - an attitude, by the way, that has nothing to do with others but only with you, you, you – but you are actually looking to SHARE that attitude with fellow believers?

You are TRYING to make friends and influence people with a NEGATIVE attitude. Do you realize what you’re trying to do?”

“What’s so wrong about sharing a few, minor hardships?”

Holy Spirit:
You know nothing of hardship! You are trying to spread dissent and plant seeds of ungratefulness. Just so you can have someone to complain with. Life, my dear, is not all about you. It’s all about Him.”

Me (with dawning realization):
“Oh, right. Sorry. Um, so I guess I’d probably better listen to the missionary, huh? Put myself in the right frame of mind?”

Then, I remembered something my mother once said.

When the deacons of her previous church refused to allow her and Gary to get married in their church, due to Gary’s divorced status, Mom was devastated.

She and my dad had spent over ten years in that church. They had given dedicated Christian service, doing over and above all that was asked of them.

Across town at First Baptist, Gary had done the same. He had proven himself to be a dedicated servant of the Lord, despite his ex-wife leaving him BECAUSE he came to Christ.

Now, Mom’s church was not going to allow these two humble servants of Christ to be married in their facility.

Mom was crushed and extremely sad. When she called me crying, I was enraged. “How dare they!” I rallied. “We are going to tell people about this!” I promised Mom.

But she made me promise not to.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Gary and I don’t want to do anything that would detract from the spirit of unity in the church. We don’t want to be detriments to the cause of Christ.”

I felt my anger melt away. Mom was right. Her heart was hurting. Her church – those brothers and sisters who should have cared for her - had wronged her, and still she saw the end goal – that God would be glorified in her actions.

She and Gary didn’t want Satan to gain a foothold in the church with a few well-placed words of anger or wrong reaction.

And so, until today, the recounting of those events has not seen the light of day. I tell them now only to reinforce what the Holy Spirit was convicting in me.

Nothing I would have shared in my present state of mind would have been for the good of the church body or my fellow believers. It would only have been a reflection of my own selfishness.

I bit the bullet. Felt the cold acid of shame wash down my throat. And I asked forgiveness. Shoes, skirt, hair, and attitude were all forgotten as I felt the Lord work in my heart. He granted me forgiveness in that instant and answered my prayer to turn back to the things of the Lord.

Unfortunately for Mr. Dunford, the mini-revival taking place in my seat took place at the expense of his Sunday School lesson.

But he had nothing to worry about. The Holy Spirit wasn’t about to let me off the hook.

I was about to get my comeuppance in the morning service.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Big, Blue Birthday!

My Smurfette Big Wheel was one of my favorite toys. When I was very little, I rode it into a chain link fence, resulting in a chipped tooth which I proudly displayed as a war wound until my baby teeth fell out.

So, it is with fond childhood memories, I wish the Smurfs a Happy 50th Birthday.

You go, girl-Smurfette!

Frankly Friday

I’m a busy bee today, so just some quick thoughts.

“MEN!” Huff.

I’m outta money for the pop machine, so I’m going to have to drink water all day. Yuck.

The chocolate crumb pastry at Panera’s promotes truth in advertising in one way – the pastry IS crumby.

Here’s to a better day, and the weekend ahead.

I am nothing if not an optimist.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Booby Trap

VERY female post ahead, readers. Men, the weak stomached, or those easily offended take note.

Okay, I’m going to preface this post by saying I don’t care about breastfeeding.

I really, really don’t.

I don’t care if a mother breastfeeds her baby, gives it formula, or hands it over to a Brazilian wet nurse. I. Don’t. Care.

I also don’t care if a woman breastfeeds in public. If a woman wants to whip out her breasts - discreetly or not - it’s fine. I have the same equipment. I have seen breasts before.

Most people I know, even if they’re not women, have seen breasts at some time in their lives. It should not be a traumatic event.

I understand it’s mostly about choice when it comes to a baby’s feeding, blah, blah, blah. Feeding in public, blah, blah, blah.

The truth is that I don’t want to think about it. Despite the fact I don’t care and am not opinionated on the matter, does not mean I want to think about it. It makes me kind of queasy, and I’m perfectly happy to be in that time of my life when I don’t have to think about it.

I was, however, taken by surprise when I was driving home the other night and saw a giant billboard proclaiming “Babies were born to be breastfed.”

At first, I was like, “Oh, well. Yuck. Thanks for making me think about that.” I naturally assumed the board was sponsored by the La Leche League of Women Voters or whoever those people are.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the board was sponsored by the Ad Council.

The Ad Council?

The Ad Council is an award-winning, well-known advertising agency that does a great deal of excellent non-profit work. Usually for social causes, such as AIDS prevention, NAACP promotion, or violence prevention against women.

It seemed strange to me the Ad Council would do an ad for breastfeeding. I just didn’t get it.

And the ad itself seemed awkward.

I mean, I’m not even a mother, and I thought, “Don’t tell me how to feed my baby.”

An ad that makes people get defensive, even people with faulty reproductive organs, is not doing all that great of a job.

And the ad isn’t even accurate. Not all babies ARE born to be breastfed. How many of us were unable to take our mother’s milk at birth? And what about abandoned or adopted babies? THANK GOD for formula, alternative methods, and emerging technology.

Now, often times, I know it’s a woman’s choice of whether or not to breastfeed her baby. I’ve no doubt there are HUGE health benefits to be reaped by such a positive choice.

The Ad Council would have done better to post those benefits, such as “Babies who are breastfed….” Ending with some sort of healthy statistic.

As an ad consumer, I probably would have still thought “Yuck!” But it would have been followed by “Hmm…I didn’t know that.” And perhaps in the gazillion-to-never years it takes us to actually have a baby I might have been more persuaded to join the ranks of the naturalists.

My opinion is also a reflection of my outrage that nothing is private anymore. No topic is sacred.

Another billboard nearby claims “Grow with Hydroponics,” and features a well endowed woman in a bikini. For the longest time, I thought hydroponics were breast enhancement supplements.

I was surprised to learn it was actually a technology used to grow large plants, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. What it had to do with a well endowed woman in a bikini was - a little too sexual, in my opinion.

I get tired of all the cheesy Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis ads on TV. The lack of any body part and any external or internal function remaining even slightly private seems to be wishful thinking.

So, when I saw the breastfeeding ad, I thought, “Here we go again. Now I have to think about other women’s boobs secreting milk. Thanks SO much.”

It might as well have read “Vaginas were meant to be yeast-free!”

In my opinion, the Ad Council needs to stick to more solid social topics that most of us can get behind.

And avoid ones that make some of us go “Yuck!”

Although…this post is a little on the yucky side.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


(When I typed the title for this post, which isn’t a real word, spell check recommended “Document Aryan.” I guess a "Document Aryan" would want only white paper?)

It is always 1944 in our house.

Planes are droning overhead, bombs are being dropped, and soldiers are landing on Normandy Beach.

I do dishes while gunfire rings in my ears. I fold laundry to speeches by FDR. I serve dinner while Allied troops parachute out of rickety planes.

My name is Ann-Marie, and my husband is addicted to World War II documentaries.

It’s an honest addiction, as far as addictions go. Brett’s fascination with World War II stems from many factors. His uncle was in the war, and his father (also an addict) raised him watching WW II retrospectives on the History Channel.

War also involves various types of firearms and ammunition which ties firmly into Brett’s other hobby.

Since we are too poor to afford even the cheapest cable package, Brett went into History Channel withdrawal shortly after we were married. Then he started saving up and buying one WW II DVD set after another.

Now, he’s amassed quite the collection. It takes up two large shelves of our DVD holder. And every time there is “nothing” on TV (this is regardless of whether I think there is “something” on TV or not) he whips out a new WW II DVD and settles in to relive the darkest days of 1944.

So, there you go. He’s a bona fide documentarian.

At first, I was okay with my husband’s hobby. I always think, “There are worse things he could be interested in…like taking me camping.”

But, I have to tell you, after seven years of constant gunfire, plane engines, and FDR speeches, it’s getting a little old.

Every time I hear, “My name is Roger Mudd! Welco
me to the History Channel!” I want to SCREAM!

The other day Brett popped in yet another DVD. This one promised us a first-hand look at the Normandy Beach invasion. Let me tell you, I’ve seen Normandy Beach so many times, I feel like I own a second home there. Which is constantly under attack.

I finally had enough. I asked Brett if he could please put another DVD in. “No more documentaries, please! Just a movie,” I pleaded. “Any movie!”

“No problem, babe.” He turned off the beginning of the Normandy Invasion, and I was treated to the sounds of silence as he chose another movie.

I put on my comfy pajamas and cheerfully popped some popcorn.
Then, I headed into the living room and settled down to watch a movie with my husband.

He put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a big hug as we settled in to watch…Saving Private Ryan.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Co-lean

Happy Birthday to my cousin Colleen (see pronunciation guide above)!

I’ve always said - if they really want to bring peace to the Middle East, they should send Colleen!

She is one of the most accomplished peacemakers I have ever met. Perhaps it comes from being the middle sister or even a middle child, Colleen seems to know when the situation calls for her to step in and when to duck and cover.

I was so happy when the Boehm’s moved from Texas to Rockford. They brought with them three sisters and a brother, and I was excited to have new cousin-playmates.

Colleen and I connected, almost immediately. We played Little House on the Prairie together and spent countless nights at each other’s houses.

It became clear we were quite different, even from the beginning.

When I asked Colleen what she wanted to “play,” she said “missionaries!”

When she asked me, I said, “Let’s be blood sisters!”

Thankfully, both of escaped serious injury, when Colleen assured me she did want to be my sister but thought the sight of blood might make her pass out.

Over the years, Colleen grew up into the sweet, Christian girl you read about in books. Full of virtue.

I, on the other hand, went though phases of feminism (what do you mean, “went through?”), sarcasm, and not-conservative-Christian-approved humor.

Through all of this, Colleen still loved me, liked me even. We played volleyball together and shared some of the same high school friends. I felt profoundly fortunate to be her friend.

I put Colleen through the wringer almost every time I saw her post high school. Either I teased her about her conservative views, or I threatened to hug her. This may not seem like a threat, but the Boehms DO NOT LIKE TO BE TOUCHED.

They shrink from hugs like the hugger has been dipped in toxic mud.

Colleen is often the easiest one to tease, mostly because she just smiles in her innate good-nature and loves you anyway.

I probably don’t say this enough. But every time I see Colleen, I see Christ in her.

It’s in the way she gives up her time or resources to help others. It’s in the way she doesn’t react in anger, but in love. It’s her character I admire.

And, would it be possible, I’d like to be more like her.

I know. Good luck to me, right?

So, anyway, happy birthday to Colleen. My cousin. My friend.

My “Mary”

From “Laura”

Can I Have Some More, Please?

Did your mom ever tell you that YOU could be President one day?

Did your dad ever say if you put your mind to it, YOU could do ANYTHING you wanted to do?

My dad did.

And, Lord knows I loved that man, I have to say that after all these years, I wonder if that is indeed the case.

Passionate Kisses is a wonderful, absolutely un-Christian song, by Mary Chapin Carpenter (lyrics at the bottom of this post). I say it’s un-Christian because it’s all about being selfish, focused on what she wants, and what she feels like she deserves.

And, I’d say that’s pretty much everything Christianity is NOT supposed to be.

Regardless, my love for country music overcomes my conscience occasionally, and I give in to the urge to belt out Passionate Kisses at the top of my lungs.

Because I DO think about what I want. Purely materialistically. Purely selfishly. But I do think about it.

Welcome to my little world.

What I really want to do is…
Be independently wealthy.
Go to Disney World.
See every movie as soon as it’s released.
Hire a personal trainer, a personal chef, and cleaning crew.
Rescue more rabbits.
Buy clothes in any store.
Get a manicure and pedicure.
Own the entire Harry Potter and Die Hard DVD collection.
Go to a concert – any concert – I’ve never been to a concert.
Eat out whenever I want.
Hire an interior designer.
Take a trip to Prince Edward Island with Mom.
Visit my aunt in France.
Never have to worry about my husband doing the finances wrong.
Spend more time with my friends.
Freedom from my calendar.
Stay up late.
Sleep in.
Get updated technology in my house.
Buy a phone that takes photos.
Get an iPod and a digital camera.
Put a four season’s room on the house.
Finish the deck.
Get a real Jacuzzi and a swimming pool.
Write a best-selling novel.
Be influential in my own community.
Donate to worthy causes.
Have a baby girl I can name after her two grandmothers.
Play volleyball again.
Buy art that appreciates in value.


I could go on forever (I know you’re thinking I already have).

Hard to believe this little burst of selfishness was brought on by simply visiting a few links on my friend Alice’s blog. As I clicked though her links, I saw blogs just like mine where there were 34 comments, 56 comments, and 112 comments.

These people weren’t famous. Just regular folks. And I thought, “I want more comments!"

That spiraled into “You know what else I want?” And you read the above post. Well, maybe four of you did.

I know. I know. It’s not being Christ-like to be selfish or self-focused, and I’m well aware of my own short-comings. And truly, I am happy. God had blessed me beyond measure.


But sometimes, I get like this. And whether it’s comments or money. I just want MORE!!!

Thanks for letting me share my human frailty.

Passionate Kisses
Is it too much to ask?

I want a comfortable bed that won't hurt my back
Food to fill me up
And warm clothes and all that stuff

Shouldn't I have this,
Shouldn't I have this?
Shouldn't I have all of this, and

Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses from you

Is it too much to demand
I want a full house and a rock and roll band
Pens that won't run out of ink
And cool quiet and time to think

Shouldn't I have this,
Shouldn't I have this?
Shouldn't I have all of this, and

Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses,
Passionate kisses from you

Do I want too much?
Am I going overboard to want that touch?
I shouted out to the night:

Shouldn't I have this,

Shouldn't I have this?
Shouldn't I have all of this, and

Passionate kisses
Passionate kisses,
Passionate kisses from you

Please Pray

Couple of prayers requests today:

First of all, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey’s newborn son, Michael, passed away on January 10. Michael had been born with a heart defect causing immediate hospitalization after his birth and eventually death.

I cannot imagine what it must be to have a baby, let alone lose one.

Please pray for Mayor Morrissey, his wife, loved ones, family, and friends. This must be a difficult time for them, and I encourage you to lift up this government leader in your prayers.

Secondly, Nancy, one of my dearest co-workers, received some bad news yesterday.

About a week ago, she was curling her hair (Nancy and I are Big Hair sisters), and she had a horrible pain in her back. She put up with it for a couple days until we convinced her to see a doctor.

After the initial appointment, she was told she might have internal bleeding in her back and possibly some nerve damage. Nance took the rest of the week off and was supposed to be back at work on Monday.

When she came in on Monday, after seeing another doctor, she told us she has been diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy. In short, her spine is being crushed by 2 renegade vertebrae. She needs to have surgery to remove these vertebrae before any further nerve damage occurs.

It’s pretty scary – had she fallen or even mildly injured herself, she could likely have found herself paralyzed or dead!

Of course, now the problem is that she won’t be able to come back to work until after she’s had and recovered from surgery. We don’t know how long it will take them to schedule the surgery and the earliest possible recovery time STARTS at 6 weeks.

That’s a lot of time off, and Nancy’s not sure how she’s going to manage financially, since not all of it can be covered by sick and vacation time.

Not to mention, surgery is scary, no matter what!

Nancy is a dear soul – quite possibly one of the sweetest women I know. I know she will appreciate your prayers for her surgery, recovery, and financial needs.

Lastly, my friend Alice asks for our prayers for a little baby named Lucy whose life currently hangs in the balance.

It’s amazing to think I can post this, and my blogging friends – some of whom I’ve never met face-to-face – will join me in prayer from all over the world!

Thank you all so much!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


The other day my friend Heidi was giving me directions. She said when I got to a five way stop, I should turn on the street perpendicular to my stop sign.

I just looked at her.


“Perpendicular,” she repeated.

She might as well have been speaking Latin. It was like I had heard the word before but had no comprehension of its meaning.

Sweet Heidi must have felt like she was talking to a child.

“Just turn here,” she said, not looking at all like someone who has just reevaluated her college-educated friend’s education.

Yeesh. I hope I’m just getting stupider as I get older. Not that I’ve been stupid the whole time.

The kicker? Yeah. You guessed it. I still don’t know what perpendicular means. I mean, I’ve heard it before but apparently never filed it in my own lexicon.

(See, I know lexicon. Whoo, look at me.)

Definitions, derision, and sympathy all welcomed.

P.S. – Mom, maybe Berean will give you some of your money back.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sleepover Shame

There has been quite the discussion over at my friend Wendy’s blog.

Wendy posed the question of whether parents (who read her blog) allow their children to have or go to sleepovers. She and her own husband are against them, and she wanted to know what other parents thought.

Now, I am a Non-Mom and probably should have kept my mouth shut (but when have you known me to do that?).

I waded right in. Several parents had already commented and the across-the-board answer was “no sleepovers.”

I was mystified. Now, I know I don’t HAVE kids, but I WAS a kid. More to the point, I was a kid who lived for sleepovers. So, I asked the question WHY so many parents were against any kind of sleepovers.

Wendy, who reminds me in shades of my dearest friend October, pointed out it was a protection thing. Actually, she called it “Mama Lion,” which I found not only descriptive but charming. Wendy, you have the soul of a writer!

First, she explained her and her husband’s no-sleepovers-decision was based mostly on family issues. Some people in their family want their kids to spend the night, and they just aren’t comfortable with it.

Then, she went on to explain the nature of danger that can arise at a sleepover. The house in question could store guns. An older brother or sister might be into drugs. An uncle could drop by and wander into the kids’ rooms. You don’t know what other parents might think is acceptable entertainment for your kids.

The list went on, and I started to get a little horrified.

“How awful,” I thought. “Being unable to trust anyone else with your children for a single night. Just think what might happen to them!”

I posted a second comment and thanked Wendy for explaining it to me.

On the drive home, I contemplated that maybe I don’t want kids after all. What a weighted responsibility! And I was ashamed I’d never thought of those things happening at a sleepover.

Later that night, as Brett and I sat in the Jacuzzi, I asked him if he’d ever had sleepovers as a little boy.

“Sometimes,” he said. “I remember at a couple of friends’ houses and my cousins’ once or twice.”

“That’s it?” I was surprised.

My experience was apparently rare. I practically lived at sleepovers growing up.

The common practice in my school/church was the whispered “You ask your mom if I can spend the night at your house. If she says no, we’ll ask my mom if you can spend the night at my house.”

This happened (I kid you not) once a week. At least. The only rule was NOT to ask any moms in FRONT of the kid you were asking over, since moms hate being put on the spot!

Sleepovers were usually on Friday nights, but I remember lots of sleepovers on Saturday night with the parent exchange on Sunday at church.

I spent the night with church friends, neighbor kids, my classmates, and sometimes some girl I’d just met at a birthday party.

I don’t ever remember my parents being opposed to it.

Except for one time, I guess, when my friend Ady’s dad (her parents were divorced) came to pick her up. My parents had already given me permission to spend the night at Ady’s dad’s house, but when he rode up on a Harley – all bets were off.

Ady was disappointed, but my Dad talked to her dad, and just explained he wasn’t comfortable with me riding on a motorcycle. Especially not with two other people.

Other than that, I don’t recall it ever being a big deal.

I have such fond memories of those sleepovers! As an only child, I loved spending the night with others – getting to see how their nighttime routine was different than mine.

I also remember being shipped off to sleepovers when Mom and Dad needed to have a “sleepover.” If you know what I mean. Eww. That’s what I thought then, and that’s what I think now.

I never once thought about the fact that Amy’s parents let us watch The Facts of Life. Since we didn’t have a TV, I was just happy to be entertained. Although, we spent most of the night in her room playing Barbies.

I remember sharing under-the-sheets secrets, whispered through the rosy glow of a Strawberry Shortcake flashlight.

My best friend Tania still came for sleepovers in high school. Since she was deaf, we never watched TV, but played games, baked cookies, and ate frosting out of the can. YUM!

I also LIVED at my cousins’ house. With their three girls to my one, it was a natural sleepover waiting to happen. And the times we had!

I recounted my stories to Brett last night, along with the discussion on Wendy’s blog.

“Do you think that parents today are overly protective, or that they have to be overly protective because the world today sucks?” I asked.

Now, I don’t know why I expected a straight answer. Brett is, after all, a Soderstrom. And Soderstroms are notorious for being unable to GIVE a straight answer.

“I think it’s a little bit of both. They become the former because of the latter.”

Note: If you ever give Brett a choice, and one choice includes the words “because the world sucks” THAT is most definitely the answer he will choose.

He went on to explain that the “world today” is different than the world we grew up in.

“But I rode my bike to Ben Franklin and the library. I played in the neighborhood all day, and Mom had no idea where I was until it was dinnertime!”

“Me, too!” He agreed. “But it’s different now.”

His response gave me pause. Is it really different now?

I thought of my friend Jill who wouldn’t let her son play in the front yard of their very safe neighborhood. She lived in constant fear of someone snatching him out of her yard if she looked away for a second.

I thought of my friend Julie who moved out of her urban neighborhood because people drove their cars too fast for the residential speed limit. She worried her sons would wander into the street and get hit.

I thought of my friend Angie who wonders what her kids are “watching” while at their friends’ houses. She aims to be THE neighborhood house where kids come to see her kids, so her kids won’t feel the need to wander to other homes.

I thought of my friend Wendy, and her parent friends, who won’t let their kids go to sleepovers. To protect them. To guard them. To keep them safe.

And I pondered again the questions of “Is it really a different world?”

You know, I don’t think it is.

I believe there are the same number of child molesters now as there was then. The same number of kids on drugs. The same houses with guns. The same creepy uncles.

The difference is –we didn’t know about it then.

The expose culture that exists today can scare us to death. Anything can go wrong. And it can. But it won’t always. Anything can happen. And it can. But it won’t always.

I’m not judging any of the parents above. I love and respect these people. I hold them in high regard as people and especially as parents who see it as their duty to protect the young charges God has given them.

Perhaps, what I feel is the loss of community. The loss of the safeness I felt as a child.

It is very possible I could have been molested at any of my hundreds of sleepovers. I could have been exposed to drugs, accidentally shot, or seen a movie that traumatized my young mind.

I could have. But I didn’t.

Later, in Junior High, when I WAS approached to start smoking and drinking – at a sleepover, no less – I had the strength to say no. Because my church friends and I had practiced how we would say “No” to drugs and alcohol – at another sleepover.

I don’t defend the sleepover, here, you see. It was good parenting and godly friends that helped me resist the siren song of addictives.

And perhaps the sleepover is gone. Poofed. Vanished in the shroud of the might happen, could happen, and To Catch a Predator.

And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s just sad.

I feel for all those lonely little girls out there who will never experience secrets shared under the covers, the “lights out” bellowed by sleepy parents, and the nighttime smiles, giggles, and laughter illuminated by the rosy glow of a Strawberry Shortcake flashlight.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Frankly Friday

You probably won’t agree with me, and that’s fine. But here are the thoughts that go through my head (literally) whenever I hear about politics, the upcoming election, and sports as part of the news. Please don’t hold it against me. I’m just being honest.

You know what? I think politics, as a subject, is boring.

I think the same thing about sports. And yet people continue to blather on about them AS THOUGH THEY MATTER.

Now, you might say, politics DO matter. The country couldn’t blah, blah, blah without politics. You know what I say? WHATEVER! That’s right, whatever!

The country runs itself, and I don’t need anything else to worry about. I vote and all that, but the whole thing smacks of hypocrisy. Because if I could vote for who I really wanted to be President, it would be my Mom.

And it doesn’t really matter. All these blue suits in Congress and the Senate run around like little hamsters and nothing gets done anyway.

And frankly the politicians aren’t in charge, God is, and He’s already the highest power in the land.

So there. I wish people would just shut up about primaries, candidates, and debates.

Blah, blah, blah.

Sports. Now there’s something that really gets on my nerves.

I love listening to WGN out of Chicago for talk radio, but I hate it when the sports come on.

Blah State bleat Blah University by a made-up-word of 16 to 47. Halfback Blah ran a made-up-word play from behind Quarterhind Blah for the fifth three-fifths reverse down EVER in Blah history.

Unbelievably boring. And yet you know sports freaks everywhere are recording everything in a teeny, tiny record book.

I didn’t realize how nonsensical sports were until I started listening to the five minute sports report sandwiched in between real news, masquerading AS real news.

And these announcer guys are BORING! And people treat them like demigods.

“Tell me, George, how long has it been since Wide-Retriever Blah scored a touchback while having on incredibly tight pants and a dubious shirt that looks like it shrunk in the wash.”

“Well, Bob, WR Blah is looking at a world record for being the first man to weld his shin guards to his body while running in that position.”

And people lap this up.


You know what I vote? I vote people should shut up about sports and stop including it in news reports when IT’S NOT NEWS!



There are times when having a writer’s brain and a vivid imagination pay off. In dreams.

I have some of the best dreams. Often, they are completely mixed up and crazy, but everything is so vivid, so colorful, and etched on my brain upon awaking.

I had another very real dream last night, and it’s so funky I just had to post it.

When I woke up, I told Brett, “I had the craziest dream.” Then, I thought for a second, “How come you’re never in my dreams?’ I accused him (like he had something to do with it).

“I don’t know,” he said, mid-yawn, “You’re in my dreams.”

That’s true enough. Every six months or so, Brett has a nightmare that I up and decide to leave him. Apparently, it’s very real, since he always wakes me up and makes me declare my love, before he (or I) can go back to sleep.

He had this dream about six months before we got married and called me at my dorm room at 3:00 a.m. in the morning to make sure I wasn’t going to break off our engagement.

About two weeks after that, I had a vivid dream about him marrying someone else on our wedding day and taking THAT WOMAN on OUR honeymoon. It was awful. This time, I called him at 2:00 a.m. to yell at him, before realizing it was a dream.

Since then, I’ve rarely dreamed about him. I don’t know why. I dream about my family, co-workers, and acquaintances, but not my husband.

Anyway, on to my crazy dream:

I dreamed that whole bunch of my female family members – me, Mom, Charity, Colleen, Aunt Laurie, and Aunt Laurie’s gaggle of girls – went on vacation.

Except that we were still in Rockford, and all of us were staying in this tiny, white clapboard house.

The house happened to belong to my high school home room teacher, Mr. H and his wife. Who were also still living there and sharing their tiny house with all of us.

We decided to ride our bikes to the theater and watch a movie. I frantically searched for my tennis shoes and by the time I found them, I went outside, and everyone was gone. I couldn’t believe they hadn’t waited for me. I couldn’t believe MOM hadn’t made them wait for me.

Aunt Laurie had stayed back, and so had Mrs. H. They were both like, “Well they just wanted to get going and didn’t want to wait.”

I was furious. Mostly at Mom. I stomped all over the house complaining. Mrs. H tried to calm me down by asking all these questions like, Where did we go to church? How did we like it? How many people were in our church?

I answered all her questions, but I was getting madder by the moment. Finally, the group got back from the movies and parked their bikes across the street.

(I know I said earlier I was mad at Mom, but at this point in the dream, I was very mad at Colleen.)

As Colleen came up the driveway, I yelled at her, “Why didn’t you wait for me?”

She looked really confused and hurt and said, “You’ve never talked to me like this before.” Then, she walked right past me into the living room. Everyone gave me a dirty look and went in the living room to comfort her.

Their sympathy made me even madder, so I decided to take a bike ride of my own. I spent time searching for my iPod, which wasn’t an iPod at all, but a giant boom-box style tape recorder thingy. I finally found it and headed outside.

As I was heading towards the street, my boyfriend (my boyfriend!) was coming up the driveway carrying a 13” x 9” glass Pyrex dish filled with soapy water (why, I don’t know).

Oh, and did I mention, he was COLIN FARRELL! He didn’t have a shirt on, just black karate pants, and was seriously buff and barefoot.

There was a heart tattoo on his bicep with my name in the middle. Seriously.

Anyway, I was still very mad, so I splashed the water in the pan onto his face as I passed him, on the way to the bikes. He just stood there, soaking wet and sputtering, as I went towards the bikes.

There was an across-the-street neighbor out in his yard raking leaves. He was also shirtless and had a tattoo across his ripped abs (this is what comes from watching so many episodes of Prison Break – muscles and tattoos) that said “Toner” in a blue banner inside a red heart.

I ignored him as I got on Colleen’s bike, and then I saw Colin at the end of the driveway.

He had put the soapy dish on the porch and was looking at me like, “Don’t make me come out there and get you.” I could tell he was totally mad. (And who wouldn’t be after getting soapy water splashed in your face for no good reason!)

He started to come into the street to talk to me, and the across-the-street neighbor stepped in and said, “Are you okay, ma’am? Is this guy bothering you?”

And just as I turned back to answer him, I woke up!

Thankfully, I woke up before Colin could cross the street and beat me up. In the dream, I knew he was a “bad boy” and would probably give me a black eye for splashing water on him.

So, I’m glad I woke up when I did.

So, was that a crazy dream, or what?! I told Brett that my dreams are starting to feel like graphic novels (probably thanks to Heroes).

Brett got a kick out of the whole thing – especially me looking for a giant iPod!

So, there you go, I’ll be sure to let you know if Chapter 2 unfurls tonight in my deep, dark slumber!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Runs in the Family

When my second cousin Megan was born, it looked like we might lose her right away.

She was born pre-mature, so tiny she could fit in the palm of a hand. I remember standing next to my mom, looking through the glass of the NICU, and wondering if she would make it. We heard whispered comments of how it didn’t look good for Megan or her parents.

Defying all odds and in testament to God’s amazing grace, Megan survived her early birth ordeal to grow into a healthy, beautiful young lady. As a member of her family, I can tell you we are all thankful God blessed us by bringing Megan into our lives.

Megan has become a wonderful young woman. She is well-spoken, polite (not sure if she’s a Rehfeldt in THAT respect), and very kind-hearted. She also has a wonderful flair for the dramatic which, het-hem, runs in the family.

This February, she will be performing in a production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory put on by the Christian Youth Theater. Of course we, as her family, are exceedingly proud she has pursued and accomplished this goal at such a young age.

I’m sure we’ll see her succeed in many other ways, as well. Perhaps one day, the Oscar will go to…Megan!

The Christian Youth Theatre has an admirable mission, and my talks with Megan’s mom (my cousin Tammy) assured me Megan had to actively pursue a part while learning the nuts and bolts of behind-the-scene theater business.

I hope you’ll join me in wishing Megan “Good Lu…” oops, I mean “Break a Leg” in her upcoming performances!

Those of us in the Rockford area also have the opportunity to support Christian Youth Theater AND see a live performance of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!

You and your family will be able to support a worthy cause for children, and enjoy a CLEAN live play performance at a great price for a night's entertainment - $8 for children and Seniors; only $10 for adults!

When you are filling out your ticket request, be sure you put “Megan Erickson” as the cast member name, so she will receive credit for the tickets.

Simply click here to purchase tickets.

Break a leg, Megan!

Bats & Bugs

There I was, innocently driving to Ladies Bible Study, when a giant vampire bat suddenly flung itself against my window!

It beat its wings rapidly across my entire window shield, going side to side along with my window wipers. I screamed out loud for a full minute before realizing it was NOT a bat.

Instead, my wiper blade had become entangled in a branch, unsnapped, and went all bat-like crazy on the windshield.

Eventually, I stopped screaming long enough to pull in to a Road Ranger. It was raining pretty hard, so I knew I couldn’t drive home without my window wipers. So, I did the only thing a helpless female could do…called my big, strong husband.

My big, strong husband was in the process of taking a fizzy bubble bath in the Jacuzzi when he got my call.

After ten futile minutes of trying to talk me through how to fix it, the result being me rapping the wiper against the window and saying, “It’s not fixed yet,” he finally decided to climb out of the hot tub and come to my rescue.

After getting re-dressed and driving the 15 miles into Rockford, he simply snapped the wiper back on and looked at me.

I have to say I expected a certain amount of derision. Sort of, “You called me all the way down here for THAT?” or “Seriously, was that SO hard?”

Instead, he got this little smirk on his face.

“What?” I asked him as the rain soaked though our clothes and showered our hair.

“I like coming to your rescue,” he said simply. Then he kissed me.

I mean, he didn’t just kiss me. He KISSED me. You know - that passionate-take-your-breath-away kissing. In the middle of a rainy gas station parking lot. While we were soaked to the bone.

Whew! Took me by complete surprise.

I guess sometimes guys just like feeling like GUYS. Being the big man, the white knight riding in to save the day.

While I usually eschew the antiquated idea that women need to be saved from anything (i.e. we can save ourselves just fine, thank you), I have to say that it was nice (in this case, anyway) to be rescued. Throw a little romance in there, and wowser! I’m sort of thinking of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere and seeing where that leads.

Of course, even big, strong husbands have their flaws.

For instance, my 6’4” husband is afraid of spiders.

I don’t mean he runs away from spiders shrieking and screaming like a little girl.

Instead, he tries to get me to kill the spider by making comments like, “Oh, look! There’s a spider.” Hon, did you see that spider?” or my favorite, “Spider! Spider! Honey! There’s a spider.”

If I refuse to kill the spider (I don’t particularly care for them myself), and he’s feeling brave, he will attempt to kill the spider.

Now, I might ask the women out there – how do you kill a spider?

Take a tissue.
Blot the spider to death.
Crumple the tissue.
Place it in the trash.

My husband’s version runs more like:

Study spider for a full minute (as though spider is begging for its life).
Tell wife about spider.
Hope wife will kill spider.
Express disappointment wife doesn’t want to kill spider.
Pick up wife’s devotional book.
Fling book (from a safe distance) in general direction of spider.
Half-kill spider.
Use Size 16 flip-flops to whack spider to full-death.
Ignore wife’s complaints about spider guts on her book.
Feel like a real man now that spider is dead with fragments spattered all over the wall.

The man will ride through rain, snow, and sleet to come to my rescue – but just ask him to kill a spider!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Musical Message

One advantage to marrying a man nine years my senior is the ability to mess with his (practically middle-aged) head.

Is it wrong to admit that I LIKE occasionally messing with my husband’s head?

If it is…I don’t want to be right!

Lately, I’ve been having fun with the “Humming Game.”

I will sing a familiar song from church and wait for ten or twelve seconds until I hear the corresponding humming coming from the living room.

Eventually, he wanders in the kitchen trying to remember the words to “that” song. At which time, I play dumb with, ”Hmm, no, I don’t believe I know that song.” Leading him to shake his head and mumble, “I know this! I know I do. It’s something…”

The best part being, of course, that he has NO idea I was singing the song earlier and therefore planting the seed in his poor 38-year-old-head.

I’m an evil genius.

Speaking of church music, I have recently been Gettyized.

Over the past year, the music leader at our church has been introducing several new songs by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Now, these are very lovely songs, don’t get me wrong. But for the longest time, I hated not knowing any words to any of the songs we were singing in church.

I’m a Baptist. Baptist kids grow up MEMORIZING the old-fashioned hymn book.

You show me a Baptist-From-Birth, and I’ll show you someone who can sing Just As I Am backwards. (This comes from singing Just As I Am, all eighty–four verses, during countless invitationals, while slowly losing all feeling in your legs.)

Just thinking about Just As I am makes my legs go all pins-and-needles.

We Baptists take great pride in knowing our church hymns. The hallmark of a true Baptist is the Fourth-Verse-Hymn-Book-Snap. This is where you snap your hymn book closed during the fourth verse of a hymn (pre-chorus!) just to prove that you KNOW this song.

This was all pre-PowerPoint and the giant screen sing-a-longs favored by churches today. The FVHBS will die a natural death if all hymn books are withered from non-use.

I do not discount the value of the Big Screen movement, but there’s my Baptist heritage that starts to twitch when people change anything.

After numerous services of not knowing the words (or tunes) to these new songs, I was fed up with mumbling and desperately hoping the music leader would decide to lead the congregation in a backwards version of Just As I Am.

Finally, I decided to break down and ask for the Getty’s latest CD for Christmas.

Mom came though for me, and I’ve been listening exclusively to the Getty’s in my car for the past 15 days.

I have to say I’ve been humbled. I still mumble along occasionally, but I’m starting to get all the words now. And I love it.

I’m not a fan of church music. I never have been. Music issues – style, instruments, people - have caused more division in churches I’ve been in than any other issue.

Frankly, I believe a lot of people lift music to a place of idolatry in the church – glorifying those gifted with musical talents before the God they are purportedly trying to worship.

People also become so enamored with music they forget there are other ways to worship God – through art, writing, public readings, and more. Music is not the be-all end-all.

It’s just music.

That said, it makes sense I would gravitate to church-music-done-Morning-Star-style. Our song leader encourages everyone to sing out – no matter if you read music, know parts, or can even carry a tune.

“Make a joyful noise,” has been heard around my pew more than once. Especially around my pew.

This is not to say there isn’t beautiful, professional-quality music at our church. Our music director is exceptionally gifted and humble - as are our pianists, other instrumentalists, and choir members.

It’s the spirit of the music-sharing that I appreciate. The music underscores the message every week. Every song is planned out to accentuate the message and compliment the overall tone of the service.

It isn’t “how can we knock this song out of the park?” It’s “what song will bring us to the point where we can best receive what God has prepared for us?”

And that’s what it’s all about anyway.

So, I guess now I am a fan of church music.

When it’s done in the right spirit. And not the sole, exclusive escort to the message. I’d like to hear more poems and reading, but perhaps that will just take more time to evolve.

Maybe if we could get Keith and Kristyn Getty to write some poems?

P.S. – If you’ve never heard of the Getty’s (heaven knows, I hadn’t), I totally recommend their site and their CD. My favorite songs are The Power of the Cross and See, What A Morning.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sky Seven Addition

I’m currently working on a new twist to my previous Sky Seven take-offs.

The “old” Sky Seven (it feels weird calling it old when I haven’t even gotten past Chapter 1 yet) revolves around intrepid Judge Investigators Parke and Aria.

This newest idea is for a young adult version, and I have to say I feel positively energized by the new character names.

Sometimes I struggle mightily with my character names. I’ve been around and around – what IS a cruel man’s name?! – with several characters in my beloved Bruised manuscript and still can’t nail down all the names (other than the twins - Harry and Sam - who I cannot imagine being named anything else now).

Sky Seven is set in the distant future, after the almost total destruction of earth by a cyber virus. All of earth’s remaining population now resides in seven Sky Towers. The people who reside in the towers were all reanimated from portions of their DNA recovered by the mysterious “Commission” who now oversees day-to-day running of the towers.

I’ve spent a good amount of time in Parke and Aria’s apartment working out personalities, dialogue, and logistics. Then I got to wondering how children would be raised in these unique circumstances, and inspiration struck.

My new cast of characters includes Delta (17), Chase (15), Orson (13), Kari (11), Erix (8), and Yellow (4). They chose these names for themselves during their reanimation process.

I have to say I’m particularly smitten with Orson, a once roly-poly smart kid who was horribly abused in the past. He reanimated into himself again, only not roly-poly, and has trouble adjusting to being “normal.” Sometimes, he even leans toward being a bit vain.

Another pleasure has been writing for Erix, a musical wunderkind at only eight years old. I like the idea of him being a smart-mouth, but also horribly talented and branded by his own abilities. Can you imagine being only eight years old and lauded as the best musician ever? What would you do for an encore? And you’re not even in double digits yet.

I’m just getting to know the others.

Delta is truly lovely. Dark hair, ruler straight bans. Exotic, almond-shaped green eyes. She’s a definite follower.

Chase is the charismatic leader of the POD (the children share the same Place of Development aka POD…so, yes they’re podmates). He’s blessed (or shall I say re-animated with) olive skin and kinky brown curls that spring out from his head like wayward Slinky toys.

I’m still working on Kari. I know she loves animals and wants to be a vet someday.

Yellow is only four, but I’m tempted to give her an artistic bent. The opposite of Grandma Moses, you know?

I’m wondering if working on both stories at the same time will be helpful or more difficult. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. If I manage to squeeze out any time to work on them at all!


I sent the Rockford Woman article link to the National House Rabbit Society, and they posted it on their website. Yea!

Also, I heard from the amazing Joan Irwin of Chicago-area HRS, and she believes a bunny adoption in Wheaton – by a Rockford woman – was prompted by the article.

Isn’t that the BEST?!

General Housekeeping

I have a full slate today.

Not only am I brimming over in the career department during this hectic season, creative blog post topics keep popping in my head. Unfortunately for me, blogging doesn’t pay, while my real life job does, so one comes before the other with stunning regularity.

However, before any creative posts, I did want to get everyone caught up on some details in the Soderstrom household.

First, please pray for Brett. He has a NASTY case of the flu.

It started last Thursday and continued through the weekend. He got some meds from the doctor on Friday and was feeling marginally better Sunday night. He left for work this morning, only to return a half hour later, looking like death warmed over. He said he got lightheaded on his way to work and felt like he was going to pass out.

“And you kept driving?” I demanded.

Apparently, it didn’t occur to him to pull over and call me to come pick him up. That’s my Macho Man.

Either way, Macho Man is currently tucked in bed and sleeping. He’s very pale, and that’s a serious “sick” sign with him.

I always know when Brett’s “really” sick. He doesn’t settle in the couch to “rest” (by which I mean “watch TV”), but goes upstairs and straight to bed. And this time…there were no detours.

Please pray for his speedy recovery, and that he doesn’t give it to ME. I’m SO busy this time of year at work; sickness would not be welcome (not that it ever is, of course.)

Secondly, I’m back on the South Beach Diet wagon. I’m exceedingly glad I ran a practice session in early December to see if I could hack the diet. It helped to experiment and have a few good recipes on hand, before I went off the diet for the holidays.

Last night, I made chili for my lunches and prepared a couple snacks to have on hand today. Nothing like being prepared.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress and try to pass on any recipes that equal success.

One recipe I definitely plan to post is the Turkey and White Bean Chili. This is the BEST chili I’ve ever had – spicy and HOT! Brett loves it, and I never realized chili could taste this good. It’s great to make ahead and take for work lunches, as I feel very satisfied, and my taste buds get a work out.

In the practice session, we also enjoyed a recipe that called for chicken stuffed with goat cheese and spinach. I’ll try to get that one posted for any interested parties as well.

This morning I rode the exercise bike for 30 minutes while I listened to the commentary on the Pilot episode of Prison Break. I got Season 1 for Christmas from Mom. Brett and I watched the whole season through – again – 24 episodes in one sitting – over the holidays.

Now, I plan to listen to the commentaries when I ride the bike each morning. I love commentaries! On movies. On TV series. On anything – I love hearing what the director or actors were thinking. It’s like the ultimate insider’s pass.

One of my favorite commentaries is on the Mr. and Mrs. Smith DVD. The director constantly refers to Angelina Jolie as “Angie” which I found hilarious. He also talks about the on-set animosity between Vince Vaughn and Angelina Jolie. Apparently, Vince was ticked off with both Brad and Angie since they were…you know…while Brad was still married.

Now, I’m NOT a Vince Vaughn fan by any means, but I think it’s encouraging he was upset by adultery. IMHO.

Anyhoo, sort of a jumbled train of thought here, but I am the conductor, so that makes sense. I’ll try to get to those creative posts soon.

In the meantime, buy some Girl Scout Cookies and help keep us afloat!

Friday, January 04, 2008


Last night was a wonderful reminder of how I have been blessed!

I spent the evening with two of my former co-workers, Carleen and Julie, who also happen to be two of my dear friends. Our friendship developed when we all worked for the same company.

I don’t know if it was because we were all at the same point in our professional careers, roughly the same age, or just that we clicked on so many levels – but we became fast friends and still keep in touch today.

We celebrated Carleen’s birthday at Alavarez Mexican Restaurant, the BEST place to get Mexican in the Rockford area. We had such a good time noshing and getting caught up on each others’ lives.

Afterwards, we decided (actually, Carleen and I decided – we hijacked Julie, since she rode with Carleen) to see the new indie movie – Juno – about a teenage girl who gives her baby up for adoption.

It was a charming little flick. Very offbeat, but the sarcastic person in me enjoyed the script, and Ellen Page (Juno) rocks the part of a smart-mouth, yet intricately complex, teenager.

Afterwards, the three of us talked about the movie. We all liked it, but Carleen pointed out that (as a mom) she wouldn’t want her teenage daughter (her daughter is currently 2) to see the movie, since it glossed over some of the most difficult parts of teenage pregnancy.

Juno is quite possibly the kind of kid I would have been, if I hadn’t weighed 300 pounds in high school. I’m not saying I would have necessarily been sexually active or gotten pregnant– but I would have been a smart mouth about it.

In the movie, Juno gets pregnant by her (guy) best friend when they both get bored one night and decide to have sex. There is a short scene where sex is implied, but nothing overt.

After she discovers she’s pregnant, she visits a women’s clinic to get an abortion. She runs into one of her classmates protesting in front of the clinic. As Juno brushes past her to enter the clinic, her friend blurts out that Juno’s baby already has fingernails.

“Fingernails?” Juno asks.

As she sits in the waiting room, she notices all the people…and their fingernails. She can’t go though with it and rushes out of the clinic.

After that, she and her (girl) friend (who has a pet bunny – bonus points!) scour the Penny Saver Newspaper looking for adoptive parents. They find a nice, wealthy couple – Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner.

Juno breaks the pregnancy news to her parents, who take it pretty well, and support her decision to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

The rest of the movie deals with Juno getting to know the adoptive parents, going through the various stages of pregnancy – including how her classmates and teachers deal with her pregnancy, and her relationship with her (guy) best friend – who is in love with her.

There are several plot twists, several we didn’t see coming, and the movie is better for them. And, if you don’t cry when the baby is born, you’re not human.

The whole theater (including lots of teenage guys) sniffled.

I’d give it a high rating – the script is exceptional, the actors are well-cast and give outstanding performances. I would definitely recommend this as an adult film only – even though the rating is lower – due to the slight glamorization of teenage pregnancy that might not be the best information for young girls (or boys) to receive.

I just had the best time with Julie and Carleen! I’m so grateful for their friendship, and the fact that they accept me (and all my crazy flaws) for who I am!

Desk Demonstration

It may not be a big deal, but I feel the need to scream from the housetops that


My desk at home had become a Mecca for clutter. I seem to have picked up my husband’s penchant for pack-rat-ing in the seven years we’ve been married. I decided as part of my NYR that I would CLEAN the top of that darn desk, and this morning NYR #1 was accomplished!

Frankly, it’s a tiny thing, but I feel so greatly relieved I simply had to tell someone. So there you go!

Whooppee! Or is it Whoopee? Either way – YEA!