Na, na, na, na, na – You say it’s your birthday!

Okay, so here’s the deal…

I have met some amazing people over the past year via this blog and others. However, there is a group of gals that have gone above and beyond the casual relationships ordinarily established on my blog and others. These women are my friends and my prayer warriors. As I sit and write this post, emails are flying fast and furious as we join to lift up another friend in prayer. I will unabashedly say that there’s not much I wouldn’t do for them, and I love them dearly. One of those women happens to be celebrating a birthday today. For a bit more background on this little posse, you can check out Annie’s post here.

Several months ago, I embarked on a ridiculously overambitious project of assigning fictional characters to blogger friends of mine. I really should update that…(But I digress…) Here’s what I wrote about Candy:

Candace (Candy) from Steele the Day as Phoebe Bouffet from “Friends”

So it seems that Candy is a bit of a health nut — kind of a granola girl. (Just like me, only completely different.) The only reason I know that she is older than I am is that she tells me that I remind her of her daughter and, she said she didn’t know who Heart was but was down with Sonny and Cher. I gotta tell you, that always throws me when she says stuff like that because she just seems really young at heart (must be the green tea). She’s not quite as nutty as Phoebe, but she has her moments!

UPDATE: I wrote that was when I was first getting to know Candy. She’s every bit as nutty as Phoebe! She is also hilarious, kind, compassionate and just wonderful all the way around. I hear she also makes some mean Chex mix in obscene quantities.

Happy Birthday Candy! I love ya, gal! Even if your husband still refuses to follow me on the twitter…

Runaway Imagination (by Brian C. Russell)

It’s Wednesday. Guest blogger day here at HLAC. I love a good short story. And I really love Brian’s short stories. So here ya go:

Imagine you’re a thirteen year old boy. Now imagine you’re running away from home. You’re packing your backpack with all the necessities. Toothbrush, your favorite pair of shorts, an extra shirt.

Imagine your parents screaming in the other room. She’s lazy, he’s never home, yelling that never ceases. You wonder if they’ve forgotten you.
You drop your best hat in your pack.

You’ll show them. They don’t need you. They don’t love you. You’re leaving for good. They probably won’t even miss you.

Imagine you slam the front door on your way out.

Imagine you hear them stop fighting. That’s not possible though. They don’t care if you leave. You’ll see. You’ll be at your friend’s house in no time. Everything will be okay. You can pretend it’s a sleepover so his mom doesn’t call your house.

You knock on the door, but no one’s home. No one cares about you. You don’t have anywhere to go.

Imagine you find a tree house. Now imagine that’s your new house. You climb up the ladder and set out your stuff. With no one around you won’t need to brush your teeth. No one will come to find you anyway.

Imagine balling up your backpack and laying your head on it. You curl up trying to keep warm. You feel splinters digging through your shirt and mosquitoes biting your ankles.

You toss and turn, but can’t sleep.
You’re full of questions and don’t know what to do. Where will you go? No one wants you.

Imagine you hear your name. Now imagine you hear it again. You look out the window of the tree house and see your dad’s car. Imagine both mom and dad are in the car. You feel a smile on your face.

Imagine you jump out of the tree house. You run towards the car waving your arms. Your parents get out and run to you. The hug you and kiss your forehead. They love you. They’re sorry. They didn’t realize. They were so worried. They never want to lose you.

You know you’re loved. You believe your parents. You go home and sleep in your own bed. You wake up to both parents awake. Mom’s making breakfast and dad doesn’t look like he’s ready for work.

Imagine he’s staying home today. Now imagine your parents are going to get help.

Imagine they love you.

You’ll never run away again.

Check out more of Brian’s writings here: Brian C. Russell


From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: re·lent·less

Function: adjective

Date: circa 1592

: showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace : unrelenting

Funny thing about having kids. You think you will spend their formative years teaching them what they need to know to become responsible, God-honoring adults, and you do, but if you’re paying attention, they teach you as much as you teach them — especially about yourself. Before I had kids, I was one of those obnoxious people without kids who considered herself a bit of an expert on how not to raise a child. I would watch with disdain when a child had a meltdown at the grocery store. “That child needs discipline!”, or “The reason that child pulls that crap is because he is allowed to get away with it.”

Parenting is nothing if not humbling. If words had a caloric value, I would be a pretty sizable woman by now. I’ve eaten my share of them. What I failed to realize before I had children of my own is they are not little robots to be programmed by their well meaning parents. They have their own set of characteristics –either nature or nurture –that makes each child unique; each person unique. And while the physical characteristics my husband and I passed down to our children are glaringly obvious, it has taken a few years to fully grasp some of the less tangible characteristics. You know, the ones where you turn to your spouse and say, “He/she got that from you!”

But here’s something I’m finally figuring out after all this time. I’m a fairly laid back person. (No, really — I am). But when I set my mind to something, I am not easily dissuaded from seeing it through. Call it stubbornness if you will. That’s how I read it when this trait reared its ugly head in BOTH my children. I’m telling you, THEY WILL WEAR YOU DOWN if they want something. Not necessarily by whining (Praise Jesus they are past that stage for now), but by pleading and negotiation in any and all forms. I have to smile because I was exactly like that as a child. My mom’s favorite line was, “Just give it to her. She’s never going to shut up until you do.” Annoying? Yes. Did I get my share of poundings from my sisters and brother? Definitely. But you know what? They didn’t beat one of my defining qualities out of me.


Catching Happiness (by Billy Coffey)

Around here the fun doesn’t start until after the sun gives way to other, more exotic forms of light. Evening, some call it. Other words also apply: sunset, dusk, nightfall. I’ve never cared for any of those words. To me, they fall short of their intended mark.

Despite the reference to shiny vampires, I’ve always preferred the term “twilight.” That seems to effectively sum up that middle part of the day when night advances and daylight retreats. It’s an almost magical word, twilight. And as that struggle between night and day is both brief and seamless, magic seems a perfect definition.

Here in the Virginia foothills, twilight magic can be found in the nearest field just after the deer have left and just before the whippoorwills begin to sing. There is a serene stillness that eases itself over the landscape, quieting the air. And then, flittering among the tips of the grass, will come a dash of light as fleeting as twilight itself.

Then another.

And then another.

Lampyridea to the smart people. Fireflies to the normal ones. Summer’s version of winter’s Christmas.

My wife and I sat on the back deck this past Fourth of July and watched as fireworks boomed over our neighborhood in starbursts and whorls. A wonderful sight. Also one largely ignored by our children, who were instead chasing fireflies around the backyard.

It seemed to me both fairly ridiculous and utterly right. Ridiculous that the red, white, and blue explosions overhead were no match for the tiny yellow flickers right in front of us. Utterly right because we could only ooh and aah at the painted sky, but we could catch the fireflies.

My kids think the purpose of the firefly’s twinkle is so they may be caught by seeking hands. It’s a bioluminescent dare, a challenge to come out and play. And it works. For all of us. Any adult worth his salt, no matter how jaded, will lurch for a firefly when it shimmers near.

What sparks this reaction has always eluded me. But when my son managed to snag a firefly just before it flew out of his tiny reach, he offered me an answer.

“I caught the happy, Daddy!” he yelled over the neighbor’s latest volley.

“You did what?” I asked.

“I caught the happy,” he repeated. “Don’t the lightning bugs make you happy?”

“They do.”

He stared at the bug and smiled. “Can I keep it in a jar, Daddy?” he asked.

“Better not. It needs to fly around. If you put it in a jar, it’ll die.”

He sighed in surrender and opened his cupped hand. Fingers wide, he then released it back into the night.

Scientifically speaking, the firefly’s glow is the result of the luciferase enzyme acting on luciferin, ATP (adenosene triphosphate), and oxygen. The reason for this miniature fireworks show is much simpler than coaxing children to play a game, though. It’s to find a mate. To search through the darkness for something that makes the darkness worthwhile. Metaphorically speaking, the firefly is after what my children were that night. What we are all after every day.


That’s a tough thing to find in this world. Like the sputter of a firefly’s abdomen, happiness is a fleeting thing, too. And often elusive. It shimmers and sparkles in the darkness of our lives, coaxing us to reach out and grasp.

My eyes wandered from the fireworks on the ground to those in the air. Rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air is enough to make a guy like me think. We light the darkness every Fourth of July in celebration of more than a country, but an idea. One that says all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. The right of love, for instance. And liberty.

And the pursuit of happiness.

That last one was what caught my attention that night. It was a powerful suggestion, one worth going to war. To our forefathers, God had given us the right to pursue our happiness. He had built the desire for happiness into the human heart. Placed it there on purpose. And He expected us to go looking for it. But that was where it ended. We had the right to pursue our happiness, but not to find it.

Those were wise men. They knew the true state of humanity.

Because we all are running around in the darkness chasing those fleeting shimmers. We’re all grasping for our happiness. Many times we’re a little too late or a little too off, and all we take hold of is more darkness.

And sometimes that magic sneaks in and we take hold of that brilliance, cradling it in our hands and marveling at the sight.

But like the firefly my son held, we need to know that the happiness we catch in life isn’t ours to keep. Do that, and it’ll die. No, better is to do what he did.

To open both hand and heart. To give back what we’ve been given.


This is a perfect time for you to do just that. To give back.

Chris Sullivan is a friend of my tiny blogging world, and he’s about to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. He’s a fantastic guy with a fantastic heart for God, and I’d like nothing better if you could pop OVER HERE and offer anything you can. Maybe a few dollars, maybe a little time, and surely many, many prayers. You’ll like him. I promise. Any guy who has sponsoring baseball players as part of his mission trip is tops in my book.

Did you believe that I loved you?

I know I’ve posted this before, but it bears repeating. I know I need to hear it:

Brennan Manning said:

The Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one question: Do you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?

The real believers there will answer, “Yes, Jesus. I believed in your love and I tried to shape my life as a response to it. But many of us who are so faithful in our ministry, in our practice, in our church going are going to have to reply, “Well frankly, no sir. I mean, I never really believed it. I mean, I heard alot of wonderful sermons and teachings about it. In fact I gave quite a few myself. But I always knew that that was just a way of speaking; a kindly lie, some Christian’s pious pat on the back to cheer me on. And there’s the difference between the real believers and the nominal Christians that are found in our churches across the land. No one can measure like a believer the depth and the intensity of God’s love. But at the same time, no one can measure like a believer the effectiveness of our gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred and despair that block God’s way to us. Do you see why it is so important to lay hold of this basic truth of our faith? Because you’re only going to be as big as your own concept of God.

Do you remember the famous line of the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal? “God made man in his own image, and man returned the compliment”? We often make God in our own image, and He winds up to be as fussy, rude, narrow minded, legalistic, judgemental, unforgiving, unloving as we are.

In the past couple of three years I have preached the gospel to the financial community in Wallstreet, New York City, the airmen and women of the air force academy in Colorado Springs, a thousand positions in Nairobi. I’ve been in churches in Bangor, Maine, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, San Diego. And honest, the god of so many Christians I meet is a god who is too small for me. Because he is not the God of the Word, he is not the God revealed by it in Jesus Christ who this moment comes right to your seat and says, “I have a word for you. I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship. And my word is this: I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be. Because you’re never going to be as you should be.”

Do you believe that He loves you?

NOTE: You many have noticed that I when I post a song video here, I will also provide the lyrics to the video. The reason I do this is because not everyone who reads my blog is able to view videos on their computers. It’s ususally an easy matter of cutting and pasting the lyrics from another source – no big deal. As far as I could find, there is no transcript of this particular speech by Manning. I typed what he said as I heard it, so if I misheard anything, I apologize. I think I got it right, though, and I’m so glad I typed it out, because sometimes I’m a little thick, and the exercise helped me soak in every single word.

A Random Look at my Morning (Repost)

Okay, so…many of you have already read this post, but since I have a few new readers thanks to the twitter and my fabulous corral of guest bloggers, I thought I would start reposting some of my more ridiculous posts on Saturdays. Let’s face it, traffic is down on the weekend, and I actually have a life beyond the internet. I wrote this post on my way to Georgia to attend a Catalyst One Day and “Off the Blogs” later that night. Here’s me being random:

I typed this on the airplane. There’s more to my day, but it’s late and I gotta get some sleep. I need to have my sarcasm “A” game on tomorrow. So, here ya go:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

12:50 pm – Sitting in seat 8F on CO airlines flight destined for Atlanta. The captain announces that we will be delayed from taxiing to the runway because something just blew into the eyes of a member of the ground crew and they need to find a replacement. Wut?! (The crew member, not his eyes.) Begin reading “Under the Overpass” by Mike Yankoski. Thanks for the recommendation, Marni!

1:20 pm- The flight that was supposed to take off at 12:45 is now in route to the runway. I am frantically attempting to type birthday wishes to Frank, husband of Beth, who still hasn’t posted a Snuggie video. Mission accomplished. Still waiting on said video. Wuzzup with dat? Feeling rather gangsta at the moment, fo shizzle. (Editor’s Note: Stil waiting on video.)

1:30 pm- Hear the flight attendant shoving that stupid cart up the aisle and smashing a couple of unsuspecting elbows in the process. Grateful to have a window seat with an empty seat between the woman sitting on the aisle seat. I’m not anti-woman sitting one seat over, it’s just nice to have some elbow room. She is a well dressed, attractive woman reading a book (WDAWRAB). Hold on, I’ll try to see what it’s called (gotta be on the lowdown – shhh!) It’s called “I Feel bad about my Neck”. No, I am NOT making that up!

1:40 pm- I order a diet coke and a bag-o-pretzels. The bag contains approximately 5-1/2 pretzels. I couldn’t eat another bite! Meanwhile, WDAWRAB breaks out a deli sandwich chock full of deliciousness. It pays to plan ahead! Well, at least I guess it pays to plan ahead, I wouldn’t know.

1:45 pm- Oh snap! I am not making this up! WDAWRAB just pulled out a giant bag of Skittles! This, I am confident, is a sign from God declaring the awesomeness of the adventure that awaits me! Kewl.

1:50 pm- Captain has turned on the seatbelt sign as we are expected to experience some mild turbulence. I am lamenting the fact that I didn’t pee before I boarded the airplane. My husband told me to leave the house no later than 10:15 am for a 12:45 flight. Shea, right! Turns out he was annoyingly right yet again. Because I left a tad bit later than that (11ish) and by the time I got to the “Tacky Texas Crap Gift Shop” just before Gate C-29 (which is the very last gate at the end of the concourse), the final boarding call was being made and I had to throw my bag-o-tacky into by purse and make a run for it. Obviously, I made it. So there.

2:00 pm- I seriously gotta pee. Proceed with kegal exercises.

2:01 pm- This isn’t happening right now, I just forgot to tell you this: The pilot said earlier that it is 45 degrees in Atlanta. Forty freaking five degrees? It’s 78 in Houston! I did not bring a jacket. Oh well, it’s a good thing sunshine follows me wherever I go. Still have to pee. Now I’m doing the jiggy leg.

2:10 pm – I just asked the flight attendant when we’re supposed to land in Atlanta. She said 3:45. And I’m thinking, “How suck is that?” She must have sensed my alarm, because she informed me that they are an hour ahead of us. Good thing, cuz I really gotta pee. You know, like Forrest Gump after he drank all those Dr. Peppers at the White House?

2:15 pm- I wonder if anyone would pay money to have me write a book where I simply ramble on incessantly with an occasional prosperity gospel rant. That would be awesome. Angela got mad at me because I tagged her on Facebook for “25 Random things about me”. Which is strange, because I could spout off about 325 random things about me right outta the gate. Seriously, turbulence or not. I’m gonna go find the bathroom…

2:20 pm- Okay. I’m back. Could they make the aisles of these airplanes any narrower? I’m not exactly petite, but it’s not like I’m big like Fat Oprah (who I like way better than Thin Oprah). I just touched at least eleven shoulders with my butt. That’s ridiculous. Then, when I get back to my seat, WDAWRAB, who is listening to some time management CD on a portable disc player with some sweet Bose headphones, stands up to let me in and the dang CD player fell on the floor and under another seat. Katdish: Annoying people at 10,000 feet and beyond.

2:25 pm- There is a little yellow triangle with an exclamation point on my computer battery thingy, so I guess that means “Your time is up”. Also, the trash Nazis are coming down the aisle and they look like they mean business. Now the triangle just turned to a red “x”, so I suppose that would indicate that my battery means business as well. Bummer. Oh! We’re descending, and it’s 64 degrees. I don’t need no stinking jacket! Now, go about your business. I won’t be back until I am safely in Alpharetta with my laptop plugged into the wall!

The Power of Shameless Self Promotion

Okay, YES! My primary reason for being on the twitter is that it is tons of fun, a great way to keep with with my bloggy pals and meet new ones. I joke around about shamelessly self promoting myself (which I do), but Twitter is also a powerful media tool that can be used as a means to get noticed by some very influential people.

Case in point:

When I asked Billy Coffey to write a guest post for me on a weekly basis, I did so in an attempt to gain him a wider audience. Why did I do this? Because I’m a heck of a nice person that’s why. Okay — I may be a nice person, but seriously? When I found out via a few email conversations that he was trying to get a book published, I wanted to help him any way I could. How could you in good conscience NOT want to help a writer of his caliber? That’s about the time I told him he should get a twitter account. “Really? Twitter?”, he said. “Yes. Do it. Trust me.” I said.

I won’t go into great detail about what has transpired over the past 2 months but it is my honest opinion that Twitter played no small role. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Earlier this week, I read this tweet by literary agent superstar Rachelle Gardner:

Made The Call to terrific author who said YES! Honored to have new client @BillyCoffey. from mobile web

For a writer struggling to get a book published, this is a big deal. A VERY big deal. So, congratulations, Billy. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Because I had some inside information via my guest blogger that this might happen this week, much of my time on twitter was spent building up to this. It’s almost as though I know what I’m doing….hmmm…..

Now on with the countdown:

1. If you pretend that @CHRIS_Daughtry is secretly following you like @candysteele, #youmightbeatwitterho

2. @Helenatrandom I’m just impressed you used the word “juxtaposition” in a tweet.

3. If you laugh uncontrollably at your own tweets, #youmightbeatwitterho

4. You dirty hamster! #firstdraftmovielines

5. I coulda been a marginally successful boxer! #1stdraftmovielines

6. Show me some money! #1stdraftmovielines

7. @HerbieGookins I’m availabe to play tambourine. They won’t let me play it here.

8. RT @marni71: Oooh I wanna play! If u tweet at a funeral #youmightbeatwitterho

9. If you secretly wonder if @ofmercy is reading your tweets and taking notes for further study, #youmightbeatwitterho

10. RT @redclaydiaries: Tweeting from my new iPhone 3gs. Woot! (If you tweet from your new iPhone 3g, #youmightbeatwitterho)

11. If you send DMs to @weightwhat & @helenatrandom because you’re secretly stalking the twitter, #youmightbeatwitterho

12. Gotta get off the twitter for a bit…That’s what…oh, nevermind

13. @PeterPollock “You may be German, but I don’t want to smell your B.O.?” Oh, that is RICH! @weightwhat South Carolina too! Also? I’m refined and classy! (VURP!, scuse me…)

14. I just took “What U.S. state do you belong in?” and got: South Carolina! Try it:

15. RT @weightwhat: My dad gets his scan in about 15 minutes. Prayers anyone? (Praying)

16. @CandySteele @pwilson ‘s man card has been in seriously jeopardy for some time now, but I still dig him the most.

17. If you don’t have something nice to say, come sit next to me #outdatedphrases (that my mom says)

18. @pwilson You’re just begging me to make fun of you, aren’t you?

19. I crack myself up #outdatedphrases. (Oh, who am I kidding? That NEVER gets old!)

20. Question: Do you find it encouraging or horrifying to discover that your kids are just like you?

21. @marni71 It’s really all about priorities, huh?

22. @billycoffey Dude. You don’t tweet enough for people to get sick of you.

23. @llbarkat What works for you? I don’t do subtle…

24. @CHRISVOSS Thanks. But I like to build my following the old fashioned way: One annoying tweet at a time!

25. Good morning. Need coffee. That is all…

26. @chrissulli Thanks, Chris. Saw your comment. I’ll do that. Appreciate your encouragement.

27. STILL going through stuff in my daughter’s room. Or as I like to call it, “Crapatopia”.

28. @HerbieGookins In your bra, or just in general?

29. RT @weightwhat: I had another bra snack the other day. I was wondering why I kept smelling popcorn.

30. (On a Wednesday)

31. I’ve never shot a man just to watch him die #ivenever

32. Soon to be rock star famous #followwednesday: @billycoffey

33. @bryanallain Oh-em-gee. Definitely TMI, T M freaking I Bryan!

34. @marni71 Whoa. Your 2nd tweet took the words right out of my mouth. Twitter ho telepathy…

35. @funnyoneliners I went to see my optometrist, fell into the lens grinder and made a spectacle of myself

36. @marni71 Okay, what are you wearing?

37. @BabySnooks If you wear longjohns to the golf course, #youmightbecanadian

38. @buzzbyannies BUT I JUST GOT HERE! Bummer…

39. @ofmercy Good night Jon boy! You’re fairly awesome, you know that?

40. @weightwhat Oh I am TOTALLY awesome cat. (Couldn’t just let that one go.)

41. @billycoffey @ofmercy @weightwhat @Helenatrandom What the???I can’t leave the twitter for a second! Now I’m too tired to care. Night!

42. @ofmercy Here, here! I’ll drink to that. I used to drink to anything, but I’m better now.

43. @PuriChristos Well now you know how I feel when someone talks about math.

44. @PuriChristos @rachellegardner is a big time literary agent who just signed @billycoffey. It’s a big deal, trust me.

45. And the much lesser know @katdish

46. Okay, @billycoffey. AHEM! @redclaydiaries, @buzzbyannies et al: Billy Coffey is now being represented by the one and only @rachellegarnder

47. @billycoffey Would you like to tell @redclaydiaries and @buzzbyannies the big news?

48. @ofmercy Why? Do you detect a dark side lurking under my adorableness? I’m starting to freak me out

49. @shrinkingcamel Thanks, Bradley. I mostly try to use my powers for good and not evil.

50. @LSOFang I know, right?

51. @faydra_deon Again, it matters not. Some of us have bigger hurdles, nature or nurture, but the ground at the cross is level.

52. @faydra_deon Our ability to be broken and surrender our lives to Christ is the biggest determining factor.

53. @billycoffey Super hero is a stretch, but okay – I’ll take it. Congrats! You deserve it!

54. Is VERY grateful for answered prayer! Thank you friends. Thank you Jesus!

55. Praying….Will you join me?

56. @annalisa2 Are you mocking me? Me thinks, yes.

57. @annalisa2 Aw, why ya gotta be a shiny vampire hater? I meant some stupid celebrity book.
58. @annalisa2 Writer’s block? Read something horridly written. That will boost your confidence.

59. @PeterPollock LONDON BABY

60. @lizzyarmentrout I know. I can be annoying without any practice at all.

61. @muchl8r About the same. I wrote a cranky ho post and thought of you.

62. @nicholasdr Guitar hero is not the same as playing a real guitar. Or so my guitar playing friends tell me after they lose

63. @mandythompson Get out of the house and go people watching. Write the lyrics to somebody else’s life

64. @buzzbyannies Well yee-haw Annie! Sounds good.

65. @mdemuth A buck a book? Craptastic!

66. @RachelleGardner as to @weightwhat? Sorry/you’re welcome.

67. @weightwhat It’s almost as though I know what I’m talking about, huh?

68. @weightwhat @billycoffey needs to maintain an image that is inoffensive to his reader base, but compelling enough to expand his audience

69. @weightwhat No. No beer references. I’m speaking as his nasty pimp now.

70. @weightwhat Yeah. The kind of career that publishers frown upon

71. @weightwhat I’m trying to help build his career as a writer. When he gets famous, then I’ll wear him down.

72. @weightwhat Like I said, @billycoffey thinks you actually have to have something worth reading to post there. He’s stubborn like that.

73. @ryanmer I don’t get it. Is @borgdrone a creepy pillow or a national monument? I can’t keep up

74. @weightwhat Oh come on! I’m not bad. I just tweet that way

75. By the way, twitter…If you’re not following @weightwhat, you’re missing out on half of the ridiculous conversations I have here nightly.

76. @weightwhat I know! The non-virtual world can be such a distraction!

77. Dear twitter rockstar: You automatically generated thanks for following video is so very touching…Unfollow.

78. @br8kthru You and Peter think alike. Thanks.

79. @PuriChristos “Frunched” meaning not having enough of something via @jeremywright (who you should be following if you’re not already)

80. @jeremywright “Frunched” I like it! That word is frigintastic, huh @purichristos?

81. If screaming LONDON BABY! into the twitter makes you feel cultured, #youmightbeamerican

82. @marni71 Well I hope you didn’t have to fill your time waiting with any of that pesky “work” business.

83. @PeterPollock I just laid down some wisdom on the comments section of your blog. You’re welcome.

84. If you’ve ever referred to Guatemala, Costa Rica or Panama as “one of those Mexican countries”, #youmightbeamerican

85. If you’ve ever traveled south of the border just to purchase a paper flower bigger than your head, #youmightbeamerican

86. @BunBunRabbit You’re asking me a math question? You don’t know me at all…

87. @muchl8r Did you get moved in? You should have the skank fairies sprinkle some pixie dust on it.

88. If it bothers you when you go to a foreign country and people don’t have the courtesy to speak English, #youmightbeamerican

89. @PuriChristos Wow. Must suck being you. We can’t shoot fireworks because of the burn ban. Bummer.

90. @WinLiannefield Oh, okay. Then lighting bugs. What does Joni Mitchell know anyway?

91. @WinLiannefield Fireflies. Like the Joni Mitchell song.

92. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll unfollow me by the masses. It’s the Friday Twitter Update:

93. @MichaelHyatt Don’t you have people for that kind of stuff? My image of you is shattered, much like your glasses.

94. @ryanmer Just “kind of” offensive? How disappointing

95. @billycoffey I know. Just seeing if you were paying attention.

96. Soon to be famous and forget all that I’ve done for him #FF: @billycoffey

97. RT @br8kthru: @chrissulli Hmmmm, give it a few days… But it will always be a part of you now (that sounds a little creepy, scratch that)

Finding your Muse

Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King:

How to Draw a Picture (Part 5)

Don’t be afraid to experiment; find your muse and let her lead you. As her talent grew stronger, Elizabeth’s muse became Noveen, the marvelous talking doll. Or so she thought. And by the time she discovered here mistake — by the time Noveen’s voice changed — it was too late. But at first it must have been wonderful. Finding one’s muse always is.

Must your muse be a person? Well, it certainly can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

Your muse can be the questions you need answered or pain you want to make sense of. It can be the parts of your life you’ve just glanced over but never really delved into. Your children’s future can be your muse; your own peace of mind.

In short, your muse is what inspires you to create when you’re not feeling particularly creative; to work when you’d rather sleep, to promote yourself when you’d rather just find a quiet place to hide away from the world.

So, what drives me to create? Different things in different circumstances. But if I’m being honest (and I usually am), what drives me is the something my dad told me over and over as a child. Before I get into this, I need to tell you that my dad and I have a very good relationship now, and I don’t hold any ill will towards him. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. But I digress…

His philosophy was anything worth doing is worth doing well. Which I believe is a true and noble directive. His paraphrasing of that expression is what has caused me to struggle with overcoming some obstacles, the biggest of which was self doubt. I still struggle with that. I think we all do to a certain extent. So, what were my dad’s exact words? These:

“If you going to do something half-ass, don’t do it at all!”

Adults often make the mistake of assuming children think the way they do. When I heard that statement, my first thought was, “Okay. I won’t do it at all.” So things that were difficult for me I simply avoided. I convinced myself that I wasn’t really good at anything. But God knew better. I suppose I’m a bit of a later bloomer. I didn’t really know what I was good at creatively until my thirties. I spent a whole lot of years simply existing, not living. But somewhere along the line a passion for art in many forms was ignited. It’s scary, and difficult at times, but living is so much more fulfilling than existing, don’t you think?

So…find your muse yet?

Snake River Dam (by Travis Inman)

You know what I’ve figured out lately? Good writers attract other good writers. So, it should come as no surprise to that I first found Travis Inman through Billy Coffey’s blog. Lots of good writers over there. You should really link back to some of their blogs if you get a chance to do so.

Travis and I have a couple of things in common. We share the same birthday (August 5, in case you’re wondering) and we’ve both spent a good part of our lives in Texas. We’ve also both read the Harry Potter’s series. (Don’t judge us – they were GOOD!) He also hails from around where my husband grew up. He doesn’t currently reside in Texas, but I’m sure he’ll get back here as soon as he can. Here’s a great short story from him:

Two members of the Snake River Water District cautiously approached an old log cabin, knocked on the door, and waited patiently for the noise of movement within. A dubious old man opened the door and demanded to know their business. In his hands was a shotgun.

“Excuse me sir, my name is Reynolds and this is Joe Shaw. We are with the Water District. May we have a moment of your time?”

The shotgun edged toward them. “Are you folks from the government? I don’t cotton to G-Men.”

Reynolds shook his head, “No sir, not really. You see, we are dam inspectors.” As he spoke, he pointed at the enormous dam stretching across the horizon.

“Sounds like government men to me. I don’t rightly care if you are dam inspectors or not. I get government men back here all the time, harassing me for all manner of business.”

Reynolds was a patient man, he had dealt with backwoods people most of his life and he could appreciate their skepticism. In fact, he truly admired country folk for their wit and sensibility. He decided to humor the old man for a moment. “What types of government men have come to see you?”

The old man rolled tobacco in his jaw and spat into a spittoon next to a rocking chair, narrowly missing Shaw’s fancy hiking boots. “Well, some ten or twenty years ago, the Census Bureau showed up asking questions.”

“What kind of questions?” Reynolds liked the old man and enjoyed chatting with him.

“You see, he starts off by saying, ‘the US Government has sent me all the way back here to find out how many people live in the United States.’ I told him that I was sorry that he came all the way back here, ‘cause I didn’t know how many people live in the United States. Then I helped him find his way back to the highway when he kept on badgerin’ at me.” He cocked his head over at Shaw and inadvertently tilted the shotgun towards him. Shaw swallowed hard. “You ain’t from these parts, are you, Fancy Boots?”

Shaw looked down at the old man, “Heck no! I live in…”

Reynolds jumped in, stealing a sour glance at Shaw, “We both work for the Water District.” Reynolds turned his attention back to the old man. “I’m sorry that folks have been pestering you for nonsense like that, but we aren’t with the government. Like I said, we are dam inspectors.”

“Is that so?” He lowered the shotgun and demanded, “So what’s your business with me?”

“I’m glad you asked. We’ve been looking the dam over and believe that it will bust loose, and soon, I might add.” He pointed over at the center of the dam, “See that bulge there in the middle?”

He peered past them, “It’s been there for more than three years.” They turned and looked at it as if he were presenting new evidence to consider.

“Yes, sir, and I believe that the dam will break any day now.”

“Well, what about it?”

“Your cabin lies in the flood plain.”

“Flood plain?” the old man repeated.

Joe Shaw decided to wade into the conversation. “The flood plain is where the water will go when the dam bursts.” (His accent caused him to say, boists.) “Your house will be washed away.”

The shotgun lifted at him. “Listen here, Sonny. I ain’t as stupid as you look. It just so happens that I have an engineering degree from Harvard. So don’t speak unless you are spoken to, understand?” Shaw swallowed again and nodded in approval. “Now then, where were we? Oh yeah, my house was about to be washed away into parts unknown.”

Reynolds continued after a repeated dirty look at Shaw. “Correct. I believe that the dam is very weak and will lose its integrity in a matter of days. The bulge has been growing daily for the last week and we are organizing an evacuation as we speak.”

“Is that a fact? Well, it just so happens that I don’t believe you.”

“You don’t?” Reynolds was surprised.

“Why not?” Shaw was met with the shotgun again and he backed up a few steps to a better position. This time the old man missed when he spit at the cuspidor and splattered Shaw’s boot.

“No sir, if you really believed your own story, you wouldn’t be here talking to me. You would be running to safety.”

“You have a good point, but you missed one fact.”

“Oh?” The shotgun lowered.


“Duty? What in tar-nation does duty have to do with anything?”

“As a fellow American, it is my duty to point out any dangers to our citizens and issue them a fair warning of an impending disaster. I wouldn’t have any honor if I simply ran away without sounding the alarm.”

The shotgun was almost pointing at the floor now. “Nope, you ain’t with the government, that’s for sure. All right, you’ve said your piece, now move on.”

“But sir, I’m here to help you evacuate. What good is it for me to warn you about danger without offering you a solution to your problems? I want to save you, if I can.”

The old man shook his head, “Won’t be necessary. I ain’t leaving.”

“Do you mind if I ask why not?”

“Yes!” He shouted, then he sighed, “Look, I’ve lived right here in this spot for my entire life. I’m too old to change now. Heck, it’s probably too late for me anyway. I live too far away from safety; I’m too close to the dam. It’s too late.”

“It’s never too late to be saved from destruction.”

“Maybe so, but if I leave, I will loose everything I have.”

“Ah, but there’s good news!” Reynolds was excited, “because of the danger and the liability, the Snake River Water District will move you to a brand new house, at no cost to you.”

“Brand new…” he mulled it over for a moment, “Nope. I ain’t in the habit of accepting charity.”

“But sir, it’s not charity. And, there are no strings attached. You can pick up your old life here and turn it into a brand new one, just over there.” He pointed up river behind the dam, beyond the impending danger.

The old man shook his head, “Thanks, but no.”

“Please sir! I’m begging you! Don’t be a fool!”

The shotgun lifted again. “It’s my choice as to whether or not I want to be a fool. Besides, that old dam has held up for years. It will probably last to the end of my life.”

Dejected, Reynolds and Shaw turned and started walking away. “Well, you tried, we aren’t accountable for him anymore,” Shaw mused.

“Maybe so, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about my mission. Come on, there are more people who live down by the dam.”

“We need to get out of here. That dam will blow any minute.”

Reynolds nodded. “And we have a lot of people to save before it’s too late.”

On the front porch, sitting in his rocker, the old man studied the dam. A large bulge protruded from it near the center. “It will probably hold. It always has.”

To read more from Travis, visit him at his website, Travis Winman

Pardon Me while I Rant incessantly…

I don’t believe in karma, feng shui, ying and yang or any of that other tree hugging, crystal gripping hippie crap. But sometimes when a series of unfortunate events seem to get all bunched together, I feel the need to get my cranky ho on and gripe a little.

Do you see where this is going? I think you do…

Sunday afternoon, we drove our daughter to her very first girl scout camping adventure: horse camp. She was a bit teary eyed the night before, but once we arrived at camp and she realized that she would be bunking with most of her brownie troop, she relaxed and gave us all (including her older brother whom she had just informed she would not miss) a smile, kiss and big hug goodbye.

Anyone who has any experience with Girl Scouts understands that the key to any enjoyable camping trip is copious amounts of paperwork filled out by the girls’ parents before said trip. Presidential pardons have been granted with less paperwork. Can I get a witness, Beth? (Editor’s note: I should point out that the “Beth” I am referring to is geeky church planter Beth. As it seems there is a plethora of Beths that read this blog. But I digress…)

I spent the better part of 2 days searching for the necessary documentation to assure the Girl Scout Gestapo that my 7 year old daughter did not pose a threat to herself or others at horse camp. I even brought all the paperwork on a clipboard, just in case I filled out something wrong. (I did, but it was a minor infraction.) The only thing I did not complete, BECAUSE SOMEONE FORGOT TO PUT IT IN MY PACKET was the camp physical release form to be signed by our family physician.

Again, do you see where this is going? Uh, huh. Thought so…

The camp director was kind enough to allow our daughter to stay at the camp overnight, provided we have our doctor’s office fill out the form and fax it to the camp the following morning.

Early yesterday morning, I drove the 20 miles from my house to our GP and presented the form to the receptionist, who in turn informed me that my daughter had not had a physical in two years, and the doctor would not sign the form. Sucktacular.

Guess who drove 70 miles to pick up her daughter at camp, drove 70 miles back to the doctor’s office, waited impatiently for the doctor (whose time is apparently WAY more valuable than mine), got the stupid form signed, then drove another 70 miles, dropped off her daughter at camp AGAIN, filled up her gas guzzling non-environmental friendly SUV with gas, then drove (you guessed it – 70 miles) back home?

That would be yours truly. All I want to know is, WHO FORGOT TO PUT THAT STUPID FORM IN MY PACKET?!?

I promise, I forgive you. But I want to punch you in the neck!

In Christian love, of course…always in love.

P.S. – Driving on Interstate 45 at 5:00 pm on a Monday? Don’t EVEN get me started….