Sunday, January 31, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 31

Well, I made it! Thirty-one posts in thirty-one days. The topic sounded easy at first, but proved to be more difficult than I expected. Some days I had to rack my brain to come up with something. The only other time I've taken on the NaBloPoMo challenge was back in November of 2008. Then, the topic was "Thankfulness". It was relatively easy to think of something for which I was thankful each day. But BEST. BEST means not just good or even great, but the BEST. That's a pretty strong descriptive when you think about it. Its also a relative term. I guess that turned out to be a good thing, because I was able to award the title based on my own opinion. This reminds me of the scene from Elf when Buddy sees the sign in the diner window that says, "New York's Best Cup of Coffee". He runs in and shouts "Congratulations! You did it!"; but then when he actually takes a sip, its not at all what he expected. Obviously, BEST is subjective at best.

So what exactly have I gained from this exercise? (Besides the cool NaBloPoMo badge over to the side there and the satisfaction of knowing that I proved troybradfordphotos wrong since he didn't think I would make it to the end.) Well, basically I confirmed what I already knew~I have absolutely the BEST life. I have the BEST friends, the BEST family, the BEST kids and the BEST adventures. In all these "BESTS" I am exceedingly, abundantly BLESSED.

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 30

I tease BigJoel about a lot of things~like when he does "math" inside his head, or watches all 30 hours of the Barrett-Jackson car auction on TV, or that he's such a softy when it comes to our girls. But in reality, he is the BEST husband, the BEST father, and my BEST friend. I was reminded of that again tonight, for reasons I'd rather not share (except to say that I'm an idiot~just because you can put on your wedding rings that you haven't worn in two years due to "retaining water", doesn't mean that you can get them off again). The man's a saint, I tell you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 29

Our church is reading through the Bible in chronological order this year. The BEST tool I've discovered online is It is a resource offered by It shows me just what to read each day and tracks my progress. The thing I like the BEST is the parallel option. I can pull up the readings in two versions at the same time side-by-side. I personally enjoy the ESV (or Educated Standard Version as Joel calls it) and The Message. I read the assignments in both versions each day. I'm trying to decide if I can claim that I'm reading the Bible through twice this year.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 28

The BEST thing today? I got new tires on my Jeep. Seriously. The tread on my tires had worn so thin, that the last time we had the oil changed, the dealership wouldn't renew our roadside assistance plan until we got new ones. It didn't seem like the tires I had were all that old, but they were out of alignment/balance so badly that it took both hands just to keep the car going straight down the road and not shimmy off into the ditch. Evidently, this is a problem and diminishes the life of the tire. A lot.
So we took the Jeep in yesterday and had new tires put on and a front-end alignment done. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes! No more shimmy. No more shake. Just smooth sailing down the open road. Even at high rates of speed (of course, no higher than the law allows).
I had no idea I would be this excited about new tires. This might mean I'm old and boring; but then again, maybe I'm just appreciative that I have a husband who cares enough for us to sell his motorcycle in order to buy new tires and keep us safe on the road. That's a pretty good deal~he traded in two old tires and got four brand new ones! He's the BEST. I just love that guy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 27

Happy Birthday to the BEST 10 year old ever!
We love you Hallie Beth!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 26

I've mentioned before that we don't have a lot of traditions that stick in our family. I'm just not creative enough or disciplined enough to really establish any long lasting rituals. However, this year we've revived one of our BEST traditions.
After Christmas, we save all of the cards we received from family and friends in a basket by the kitchen table. Each night when we sit down as a family to eat, someone picks a card from the basket and we pray for that family. Now, I can't take credit for the idea. We adopted it from a former pastor. I must admit we're not always faithful to choose a card at every meal, but I love the idea of praying for our friends throughout the year. So to all my friends out there, please don't take offense that you did not receive a Christmas card from us (because I just cannot, for the life of me, get my act together to send them out). But know that one night, at some point during the next year, you will be thought of and prayed for by our family. I think that might just be the next BEST thing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 25

Our little friend Emma has become quite the showgirl. She's the BEST entertainment and really keeps us laughing. As Hallie would say, "She's better than cable TV". Unfortunately, I'm not the BEST videographer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 24

About four years ago, maybe more, Elizabeth came up with the BEST idea to start a book club. (She's always full of good ideas, that one.) My memory is fuzzy, but I believe our first official book might have been Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. The club consisted of Elizabeth, myself, and Nancy our wise, cultured friend. We've read some of the BEST books. Books of all different kinds~fiction, non-fiction, deep theological works, and light fluffy fluff. I have to say, I'm the weakest link. I'm often the slacker and two of my reading selections were so ambitious that we had to wave the white flag of surrender: The Source by James Michener and Heaven by Randy Alcorn. (For the record, I think Nancy finished both of those books but just got tired of waiting for me to catch up.) Somewhere along the way, we dubbed ourselves "The Finer Things Book Club" (fans of The Office will get the reference).
However, the time has come to expand the scope of our club. We've added new members and gone international. Elizabeth has created a private blog for discussing the selections and we are about to begin our first assignment with the "Texas y Peru Club de Libros." We'll be reading A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper. I can't wait.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 23

I mentioned that one of the BEST things about BigJoel's job is when I get to travel with him. I've gotten to go California, New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Washington D.C., the Bahamas and many other places. I've enjoyed them all and I'm so grateful for the opportunities. But by far, the BEST place we've gone is Hawaii. Of course its beautiful, but there's more to it than that. We've gone twice in the past 6 years. I've noticed the same thing both times: I feel so good while I'm there. Seriously. No headaches, no fatigue, no aches or pains, no stress. I just feel good...and that's the BEST!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 22

Some of the BEST memories I have growing up are the slumber parties I'd have each year for my birthday. My dad always said they should be called "slumber-less parties" because there wasn't a lot of sleep going on. Tonight, Hallie has four of her BEST little buddies over to celebrate her 10th birthday. We've eaten pizza, opened presents, had cake, done two art projects, painted nails and sang karaoke. And its only 10:30. I'm about done. Now they are going to make their beds in tents upstairs and turn on a movie. Hopefully, this means they are about done, too. I doubt it, but they are just 10. I think we have another year or two before we have to start worrying about bras in the freezer or toothpaste on the face of the first one asleep.

On second thought, I better go hide my bras.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 21

Over a year ago, Elizabeth came up with the BEST idea--Monday Night Supper Club. Last week, we had a MNSC send-off for our founder who has now moved to Peru. We'll try to continue the tradition, but it just won't be the same for a while. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 20

There are some drawbacks to BigJoel's job--such as being gone for days, even weeks at a time. But there are advantages as well--such as being home for days, even weeks at a time. However, the BEST perk is when I get to go with him. Like in a few weeks when we'll board this:
And go here:

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 19

The BEST reality TV show:

I have to be honest and say that I'm looking forward to this season without Paula. I may regret that statement in a few weeks, but right now I think Ellen's quick-witted humor will be a huge improvement over Ms. Abdul's dim-witted antics.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 18

Back in November, we went to a surprise birthday costume party. The theme was "Famous Couples". Here is our interpretation of one of the BEST love/hate relationships of all time: Charlie Brown and Lucy. And the funny thing is...we had to stop at Wal-Mart on the way to the party. We walked in, dressed as Charlie Brown and Lucy, two days after Halloween, and no one even batted an eye. The only thing anyone even said to us was, "Hi! Welcome to Wal-Mart!" Good grief.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 17

Man! This is getting tough! Let me about the BEST thing about today? I love Sundays, especially Sundays when BigJoel is home. Its the BEST feeling when we get to ride to church together, in one car.
And the second BEST thing about Sunday...a nap, of course!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 16

Today I discovered the wonder that is Skype. I realize I'm probably a bit slow jumping on the bandwagon, but until now I really hadn't had much use for it...or so I thought. Since the time had come for Elizabeth's departure, I finally downloaded the application this week. It was worth it (even though its free) when I got to talk to Elizabeth this morning all the way from Trujillo, Peru. It sounded like she was in the same room with me! I didn't enable to the video feature this morning because I was still in my flamingo pjs with wicked morning hair. Not a pretty sight.
But later today, Joel, HannahKate and I took some time to goof around, experiment and figure out all the various features. We "messaged" each other, tried out the video and learned how to do conference calls. Its amazing, I tell you. HanK was upstairs, Joel in the living room and me in the bedroom~yet it was as if we were all in the same room together.
So across the world or across the house, Mr. Skype, you bring folks together. You're the BEST!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 15

Home pants, movies on the new TV and time with BigJoel~the BEST way to spend a Friday evening.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Compassion in Catastrophe

The needs resulting from the recent catastrophic earthquake in Haiti are staggering. As we watch from the comfort of our homes, we do not have to feel helpless. If you would like to give and be assured your money is well spent, here is what your dollars can do through Compassion:
*$35 helps provide a relief pack filled with enough food and water to sustain a family for one week.
* $70 gift helps care for their needs for two weeks.
* $105 helps provide relief packs filled with enough food and water to sustain two families for two weeks.
* $210 gift helps care for two families' needs.
* $525 helps provide relief packs filled with enough food and water to sustain 10 families for two weeks.
* $1,050 gift helps care for 10 families' needs.
* $1,500 helps rebuild a home.
* $2,100 helps supply 20 families with the basics for three weeks.
Thirty five dollars? That is less than it costs for my family to eat one meal out at a restaurant. That's a pretty small sacrifice...even taking into account my poor cooking skills.
Thinking about the impact that we as Christians could have during this crisis, this song by David Crowder came to mind:
Surely We Can Change

...Where there is pain, let there be grace
Where there is suffering, bring serenity
For those afraid, help them be brave
Where there is misery, bring expectancy
And surely we can change
Surely we can change

And the problem it seems
Is with you and me
Not the Love who came
To repair everything

Where there is pain, let us bring grace
Where there is suffering, bring serenity
For those afraid, let us be brave
Where there is misery, let us bring them relief
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Oh surely we can change

Oh, the world's about to change
The whole world's about to change

Think about it...that's change we can all live with.

Simply the Best--Day 14

Today's BEST reaches back to one of those days that I had every intention of blogging about when it first happened, but time got away from me and I never got around to it.
In September, Mrs. Cheryl, Elizabeth and I packed up and headed to Colorado to meet up with Paige and celebrate Elizabeth's big birthday. Big as in, the BIG 30. On our first day of travel, we drove to Amarillo. The highlight of the day was dinner at The Big Texan. I love that place!
The next morning, we woke up and started off on what has to be one of the BEST adventures I've ever had. First we drove out to Palo Duro Canyon, one of the most beautiful places on earth~in a rustic sort of way. Every time I see it, I stand in awe of our Creator.
Next we set out to find "The Huge Pair of Legs". We had some sketchy directions, but we figured, "How hard can it be to find a pair of huge legs in the middle of the West Texas plains?" However, the legs turned out to be more elusive than we anticipated. At one point we found ourselves in the middle of a small neighborhood where we pulled over to ask a road crew for directions. (Now she'll tell this next part differently, but its my blog so its my story.) Elizabeth rolled down the driver's window, looked at the road workers, and in her very sweetest southern drawl said, "Excuse me! We're looking for a huge pair of legs. Can you help us?" I just wish I'd had my camera ready to capture the look on those men's faces. They weren't sure if we were asking for directions or making a "proposition". Once we clarified, they pointed us in the right direction. And sure enough at the corner of I27 and Sundown Lane, there were the huge pair of legs, right in the middle of a cow pasture. In order to get a closer picture, it required hopping the fence~trespassing~but you only turn 30 once, so we figured we might as well live a little. Besides, the cows didn't seem to mind. I think they were used to intruders.
From The Huge Pair of Legs, we headed on to Amarillo's other, more well-known roadside monument~The Cadillac Ranch. There, Elizabeth found a can of spray paint and immortalized the occasion by graffiti-ing a huge "30" on one of the submerged cars. Now we've added vandalism to our growing criminal history.
We were having so much fun that we almost forgot our real destination~Colorado. So finally, about 2:00 p.m., we headed north. When we left Amarillo, it was 78 degrees. By the time we reached Clayton, New Mexico the temperature had dropped to 35 degrees and snow began to fall. Seriously. Snow. In September.
I kept saying, "Oh, it won't stick because it was so warm this morning." Boy, was I wrong! This was the scene by the time we reached Raton.
We finally made it through the inclement weather and rolled into Denver late that night. Elizabeth had booked us into The Curtis~ a super-cute boutique hotel where each floor has a different theme. So after our long, adventurous day of hitting on road crews, trespassing, vandalizing public property, and braving a snowstorm, we stepped off the elevator to be greeted by this~
"Heeeere's Johnny!"
I cannot remember a day in my life where I laughed so much, so hard and so often. That's why it qualifies as one of the BEST days on record.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 13

The BEST meal that I had this past year~outside the U.S.~was Avocado stuffed with Chicken Salad at Oviedo's in Trujillo. Its amazing how big avocados grow in Peru!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 12

The BEST concert I went to last year was, of course, U2. The production was amazing. And the band was pretty awesome, too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 11

I entitled this thread "Simply the Best" intending the emphasis to be on "the Best" for the NaBloPoMo theme. Instead the emphasis seems to be on the "simple" part. It is a difficult thing to come up with material each day, so I'm afraid some of the posts (most of them, actually) are really plain, dull and even a little boring. But I'm one-third of the way through now, so I'm not ready to give up yet.
We went to some friends' house last night for a little get together. Of course, there was tons of food and every bit of it was delicious; however, the BEST discovery of the evening was Albert's Hot Sauce. It was finely chopped (smooth, not chunky) and tasted just like fresh homemade salsa. I had never heard of it, but this morning I was able to find some for myself at the grocery store. I was so excited that I couldn't wait to get home. I had Fritos and Albert's for breakfast. Turns out, its made right here in Texas~not too far from Hometown. So, I don't know who "Albert" is, but he makes the BEST hot sauce! Yummmmmm!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 10

My BEST purchase last year was most definitely a MacBook. I've always been a PCer, but Joel made the switch to Mac a few years ago and finally convinced me. I saved my pennies from making jewelry so I could buy it all by myself. Apple was running a deal that included a free iPod Touch with the purchase of a MacBook. I must admit, I was almost more excited about the Touch. I absolutely love it.
At first I wasn't so sure about the Mac, which I call Kevin. (Joel said I needed to "name the computer" during setup. I thought Kevin sounded nice and I've never met a Kevin I didn't like. I didn't realize that most people name their computers "Mom's laptop" or "Home computer".) I'm no technology genius, but I knew just enough to figure out ways to "trick" my PC into doing what I wanted. Not that I outsmarted the machine by any means; but if I didn't know the right way to do something, I could usually figure out another way around that still accomplished my goal. Not so much with Kevin. Its either his way, or not at all. He is smarter than me...way smarter. We got off to a rocky start, but now I believe we have a mutual respect for each other. I'm a Steve Jobs convert. Yep, Kevin's the BEST!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 9

The BEST gift I received this Christmas was a new blanket for my bed. Seriously. In the 18 years that we've been married, we've had three other blankets. A mauve rose one, a powder blue one and a plain vanilla cream. They were all exactly the same kind~that slick, synthetic stuff. But this one is red and red is always good. And it's one of those fuzzy, soft, micro-fleece jobs. It is so snuggly! I love it. I even think it helps me sleep better. Honestly. Its better than Ambien. Who would've thought that a blanket would make such a difference!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 8

The BEST movie I saw last year, hands down, was The Blindside. There aren't too many movies I enjoy enough to own, but I will be watching for this one's release on DVD. Loved it!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 7

I will get around to the theme sooner or later, but it might take a while.
Disgusted with myself for the slovenly sloth I'd become before the holidays, I set out to make some changes. Seriously, you have. no. idea. how much time I wasted in my pajamas, goofing off on Facebook and letting my household crumble around my ears. Anyway, I've determined that I will do better. And I have. I go to bed each night with a clean kitchen. I shower and dress before I take the girls to school. We make up the bed every morning. I wash one or two loads of clothes each day so I can stay on top of the laundry~not buried underneath it. And I've been enjoying some really special time with God each morning as I read through the Bible in chronological order. Now, I realize most people probably already do those things; but as I mentioned before, I was in a bad, bad way.
My job for today was to clean off the kitchen counter tops. I worked my way around the kitchen removing everything in small sections, dusting, cleaning and then putting it back before moving on to the next section. I ended at the point where all the "To Be Filed Later" things land. That is the stack of bills, receipts, documents etc, that never make it to the file cabinet in my bedroom. It was about 11 inches tall. Seriously. I dreaded that pile because the detailed filing system that I use took too much time. That and the fact that the pile was located in the kitchen, while the files were located in the bedroom. Can you say "procrastination"?
So I decided it was finally time to sort the pile. I sat down in the living room where I'd have plenty of room to spread out. My plan was to do a "preliminary sort" forming smaller piles of similarly related documents and then sort each smaller pile into individual files. But then it dawned on my that in this day of computers and online transactions, do I really need every single hard copy of every single bill to be filed in order by month? So I freed myself from the bondage of my intricate filing system. I wound up with "Category" folders. With this method, I was able to divide all of 2009's bills into about 7 files. For example, "Insurance". Everything that has to do with insurance is in one place~health insurance, home insurance, car insurance and life insurance. Granted, it is not in any sort of order; but in the event I needed to find a document, it will be much easier to sift through the Insurance folder than to rifle through an 11" stack. In the "Credit Cards" file, I put MasterCard, Visa, Old Navy and the gas card. I did the same for "Phones", "Retirement", "House-financial", "Banks", and "Miscellaneous".
Now there are two types of people reading this. The first type's eye is twitching and they are about to have a panic attack because I've cross-contaminated all my documents. The second type is thinking, "Duh! Isn't that how everyone does it?" So for the first group, I was once one of you. But my need for perfection in filing meant that it just didn't get done at all and instead loomed like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in my kitchen invoking tremendous guilt in me everytime I passed by. To the second group, I'm not claiming to be Columbus. But I'm so glad I "discovered" this easier, less stressful way of keeping up with paperwork.
So now, not only is my counter top clear of clutter; but my conscience is also free from guilt. The BEST thing is that I've already made new Category folders for 2010 and placed them in an inconspicuous spot near where the old pile once stood. This way, I'll be able to keep up with/file things as they come in instead of letting them accumulate.
And that is the BEST feeling!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 6

I knew I'd have to stretch to keep up the topic of "BEST" for January's NaBloPoMO theme. I just didn't really think I'd have to do it six days in...only 25 more posts to go. Anyway, today's "BEST" is combined with a Weekly Pic, since I haven't done one of those in a while, I'll just kill two birds with one post.
Back in November, we went with a group of friends to a remote cabin in Arkansas for Thanksgiving weekend. (Hopefully I'll get around to sharing more about it eventually.) One night we took a trip into "town" for dinner and some window shopping. We'd had several days of outdoor fun and late nights, so Hallie was exhausted. She found the BEST place to stop and rest for a moment. Our little friend Ben agreed it was the BEST place and joined her.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 5

Yesterday I talked about the bands I liked BEST last year, so today I'm going to share the BEST song that touched and challenged me the most.
How He Loves was originally written by John Mark MacMillan quite some time ago. Last year the David Crowder Band recorded it on their Church Music album. Such a powerful reminder of how our Savior loves us...
How He Loves
[Emphasis mine]
He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us oh,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us,

Oh how He loves us...
Oh how He loves.

You can listen and watch the video here. I highly recommend it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 4

The BEST new (to me) band--Needtobreathe. I love, love, love their sound!
Coming in at a close second, would be Remedy Drive. And I'm so excited because rumor has it that they will be the "lights up" band for on this years Rock and Worship Roadshow!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 3

I didn't read as much this year for some reason (um, probably Facebook), but the BEST book I read in 2009 was Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall. I bought it to take on a trip in May, thinking it would be a "light, fluffy read". I could not have been further from the truth. I was completely unprepared for the way it would move and challenge me. I think the snooty business man sitting next to me in first class was also unprepared for the way it moved me~I was literally sobbing and could not regain my composure. He put his headphones in and pretended I wasn't there. Anyway, if you haven't read it, beg, borrow or buy it ASAP. (Just keep plenty of tissues on hand and don't sit next to a stranger on a plane while reading it.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Simply the Best--Day 2

As I've contemplated how I might possibly blog every day for a month on the topic of "Best" for NaBloPoMo, I've decided to interpret the writing assignment very loosely. Some posts will be about doing my best. Some will chronicle the "best of" from 2009. And in some posts, I'll just share the best part of my day. Like now...
Joel has been gone for a week. Its the first time since he started traveling~actually now that I think, it might be the first time in 24 years that we've been apart on New Year's Eve. The girls and I had a great time with friends, but it just wasn't the same without BigJoel. So when he rolled into town Friday evening, it was definitely the BEST thing that's happened all year! I just love that guy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The "Best" Beginning

The topic for this month's NaBloPoMo is "Best". The premise is to blog every day for a month about the theme. That's pretty ambitious for a slacker such as myself. I'm not sure I can post every day, much less, stick to the topic. But here goes...
I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions, because I don't deal well with failure. But there are a few habits I'd like to form and a few changes I'd like to implement this year. More on that later...maybe. Anyway, our pastor has challenged our church to read the Bible through in chronological order this year. It won't be the first time I've aspired to do this, but maybe I'll at least make it through Leviticus. I've completed Day 1--Genesis 1-3. Only 364 days to go.
Now I've read the Creation and Fall stories a hundred times or more, but the thing that stuck out to me this morning was this verse:
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. --Genesis 1:31
Here's the thought that came to mind~God did His best. When He created the heavens and earth, He wasn't haphazard or lazy. When He created man, He didn't wait until the last minute before the assignment was due. As He laid out the universe, He didn't say, "I'll throw this together now because I can always come back and fix it later." No, He did His that at the end of each day, He was able to look around as say, "This is good. This is very good."
So in facing this new year, my prayer is that I will give/do my best to honor Him so that at the end of each day I can say, "This is good." ~And maybe even hear Him say in response, "This is very good."