Friday, August 04, 2006

Gotta give a little shout out

To my new favorite indulgence, philosophy's state of grace fragrance. I've seen philosophy on QVC for a few years and I've always been intrigued by it. Last night, after dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, DH and I wandered into the mall and I had to stop by my favorite girly-girl place, Sephora. I knew this wouldn't be a spree, so I had to narrow things down pretty quickly. I had philosophy on my mind after seeing it just a couple of nights ago on QVC, so I headed there. All the testimonials are true about their state of grace fragrances. They are something you can wear and you won't get, "What kind of perfume are you wearing?" And you can never tell if the asker means they like it or want to avoid it. This is more of a "wow, you smell great!" sort of a fragrance, not clingy, it's more like you're walking around in a little misty veil of cleanness. I'm going to have to get the other two, amazing grace and baby grace. I layered them in the store last night and they were just amazing. So, I'm feeling fresh and girly today. Not a bad way to start the day!

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. -- 2 Corinthians 2:15

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Some of you think you know me. I’m a Christian, a wife, a mom, a daughter, a southerner, a teacher, an American, a conservative. Like most people, there are any number of labels that very aptly describe my leanings, my tastes, my talents, my positions, my faults. But I have a secret. One that very few people know. One that I really don’t talk about much, because it’s the sort of thing that will cause people to stare at you blankly and sidle away from you trying to look, at the same time, both at you (to make sure you’re not about to sprout another head or grab them about the neck with a tentacle) and where they’re going (to avoid personal injury as they attempt to escape from your imminently evil clutches).

I am just about obsessed with Bigfoot. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago I developed and maintained a Bigfoot search results page for (Was getting paid for it, then they said they were abandoning this program and I wouldn’t get paid anymore. But, hmm. Guess what. It’s still there, still pops up in Google, still has ads on it. Somebody’s making money and it ain’t me…Time to check into this.)

I digress. I believe in Bigfoot. I have good reason to believe in Bigfoot. I have a close friend/relative (I try to specifically be very vague) who had a Bigfoot encounter (in the U.S.) several years ago. This is a person I know very well and have known for years, someone I would trust with my life. Someone who is educated, and who is a Christian and does not believe in alien abduction. So, I really have no choice but to believe in Bigfoot. This person’s encounter was verified and is presented in the many sightings reports of the Bigfoot Field Researcher’s Organization as a Class A report. (No, I will not tell you which one. I have pledged to maintain this person’s anonymity; only 3 other people have been told about this encounter by this particular person. Others were involved and, to the best knowledge, they have not discussed the matter outside their family. It’s not really coffee klatch conversation for those who have experienced it, apparently.)

Let me add that I also do not believe in aliens. God clearly states that he created heaven and earth; light; water and land; plants; animals; and, finally, His most beloved, blessed and special creation of all: man. Nowhere does God claim to have created any other sort of living being anywhere beyond the realm of our Earth, and certainly there is no mention of any living creation of His having reason and intellect other than man.

But Bigfoot? Is it really that wacky? There are dozens of field reports each year of scientists and researchers discovering animal species that have never before been reported, or re-discovering some that were thought to have been extinct. God spends quite a bit of time telling Job that God alone knows the total depths, wonders, and complexities of the world; after all, He created it. We will never know everything about this amazing planet that supports life in our solar system against all odds. I do not believe we are supposed to know everything. But don’t take my word for it. I’ve included some select charges to Job from God. Read Job 38-41 for “the rest of the story.”

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over earth? Who has put wisdom in the innermost being or given understanding to the mind? Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, stretching his wings toward the south? Behold now, Behemoth [which some take to be dinosaurs], which I made as well as you. He eats grass like an ox; His bones are tubes of bronze; He bends his tail like a cedar; His limbs are like bars of iron. Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his heat with fishing spears? Lay your hand on him; remember the battle; you will not do it again.”

Now, after hearing God challenge the knowledge that Job thought he, himself, possessed, it is easy to see that we are not intended to have God’s knowledge about our world. There are many things that are unknown to us because our Creator has deemed them fit for His mind alone, at least for a time. But, now you know one of my deepest, most closely guarded secrets. I believe in Bigfoot. And I believe in God. Faith and mystery can, certainly, co-exist.

For a fascinating and easy read on dinosaurs and other “monsters” from a biblical perspective, check out Dinosaur Questions and Answers from Answers in Genesis.

Favorite Bigfoot Questions and Answers

I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. – Job 42:3

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Little Blessings...

The downstairs A/C unit quit working yesterday. Oh, yeah, during the August heat wave of 2006 in Georgia. (Please, no "global warming" rants; blame the misplaced jet stream.) It’s kind of important. I told DH maybe it tripped a breaker since it had been running so much lately. He groused, “Oh, no, it COULDN’T be anything THAT simple and cheap!” Grumble grumble grumble to the basement. And I’m behind him saying, “Well, it COULD be!” More grumbling about my rose-colored glasses. We get down there and somehow the cover has slipped and messed up the switch. Straighten the cover, A/C works. We were giving God some high fives on that!

Speaking of A/C…last week DH changed the air filters on the units (hmm, now I know maybe how the cover got messed up!). He went to the attic unit and started in…grousing, grumbling, muttering, blah blah blah. “We’ve got a bona fide MESS on our hands up here! Blah-blah house falling apart blah blah money blah blah….don’t have time blah blah.” The tubing leading from the condenser had gotten plugged and the tray that is there to catch any drips was full of water to the brim. Now, all he had to do was siphon out the pan and clear the tubing. Muttering the whole time about his horrible luck. Me? I was downstairs praising God that DH had actually gone up to change the filter! Imagine the mess we COULD have had if he hadn’t gone?! I was pretty happy. I try to be thankful.

My back pain, that has limited my activities for a year and a half despite various treatments and pharmacological remedies, has been about 90% better since I had needles stuck in my hands and feet two weeks ago. I am a believer in that acupuncture! Stick me, baby, one more time!

A couple from our Sunday school class is taking us to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner tonight, just to get to know us better since we’re so far from church and never get to go to any of the during-the-week stuff. Yum-O!

A co-worker from my previous school and her husband have been going through the process of adopting a baby from Thailand. The past year has been all about paperwork, visits, qualifying, etc. When school was out they were down to the money part and she was concerned and having us pray about that. They would have it but only by taking a home equity loan, which they would rather not do. I saw her yesterday and asked for an update. No baby yet, but a few weeks ago they went into their Sunday school class (about 15 couples) and were presented a check for $2800, all donations. That evening her grandmother called. She had inherited some money from a relative and was giving them $2000. Their agency called a few days later and said someone else from their church had donated $2000 anonymously. These blessings, combined with their savings, give them all the money they need. The next contact they get from the agency should be baby news! What a wonderful, loving, Christian home awaits some truly blessed little soul that God is preparing just for them. My prayers are with you, A & B!

Wow, I can’t think of a better way to end than that.

I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever. Psalm 86:12

It's the End of World as I Know It

Well, not REALLY, but the REM song is drifting in and out of my mind today. Nix that; I just looked at the lyrics and let me just say, the REFRAIN of the song is in my mind. Um, yeah, them's some interesting lyrics there...

Anyway, summer is officially over for me; I start back to school tomorrow. Two days of new teacher orientation (I'm new to the school, not to teaching) and then five full days of preplanning next week. The story of how daughter and I have come to be at this wonderful school is amazing; I'll have to relate it sometime. It's a covenant Christian school, meaning that at least one parent of the student has to professing saving faith in Christ. Our previous school, where she was for kindergarten and I taught science, had all Christian faculty and staff but accepted anyone. 70% of the student body was unchurched. Hubby and I had a heart to heart (with ourselves and with God) this past winter and knew that we needed to get her in a covenant school as soon as possible. And, yes: All things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23). God worked in a mighty way for us to make the move to this school; I'll have to relate that process
in another post.

Getting started to school again is not all that bad, really. I am very excited! I actually love change, and the good thing about teaching is you start all over again with each new school year: new students, maybe a few new approaches, some new perspectives, new challenges and new rewards. I will teach four classes of 7th grade pre-algebra (my favorite) and one class of 7th grade science. There are four 7th grade teachers, and since the senior teacher for each grade teaches Bible (considered a core class here, held daily!), one subject is divided among the teachers; this year it's science, so all four of us have one class of science.

My room is just about set. It was the drama room, equipped with sofas, painted backdrops and props, racks of clothing -- it was wiped totally out in preparation for my arrival; I felt as though the
Grinch had stolen all my roastbeast; the only thing left was a clock on the wall. l mean, there wasn't even a pencil sharpener or trash can, let alone any crumbs for the Who's mouses. But, the physical aspect of the room is all done; I have some papers to organize and file (still waiting on those hanging and manila folders) and SEVEN DAYS WORTH OF MEETINGS. Oh,I guess it would help to have some lesson plans written up before August 14th? I've been asking for a copy of my math curriculum for, oh, about 4 weeks now. Note to self: never start a new job at a school the year they are undergoing review for accreditation. But I hope that daughter (going into first grade) and I will be there at least through her senior year (well, I do want HER out after that!).

So, woo-hoo for me. It's back to work but what a blessing and a privilege for daughter and me to be at this remarkable institution, and what a humbling challenge for me to guide and inspire and instruct these wonderful students first and foremost in the ways of God's kingdom; keeps me on my toes, as well -- a lot of potential for personal growth! We're all a work in progress, you know.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. -- Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Boil on the Gluteus Maximus of Society

At some point in my life, I said I would never:

  1. Need a personal computer in my home. Ha.
  2. Teach again -- here I am.
  3. Have a blog -- ditto #2.

Why do people feel the need to do this? Could it be attention surplus syndrome? (I don’t really think that, but I had to find an excuse to link to this article.) People used to keep honest-to-goodness journals, thoughts and tidbits recorded on tangible paper for all posterity. I will not say that anything done on a computer will be kept for all posterity -- unless, of course, it's something that could one day be potentially damaging to your reputation or horribly embarrassing. Then, yep, it will definitely be around long after the roaches die out.

Was thinking about people's life themes that sort of define them. For example, the caustic Dr. Gregory House approaches life from the standpoint that everybody lies. I wouldn't say this is a theme of mine, necessarily, because there are other things that define me that are much more important than this, but one of my approaches to life is that I tend to trust people until given a reason not to. I generally tend to LIKE people until given a reason not to. Usually the “reason” manifests itself as an unmitigated show of selfishness or laziness. Boy, does that look harsh in brown and beigee. But how else to explain:

  1. Litter. FIND A TRASH CAN. In the course of a day’s errands daughter and I can generate some trash in the car – straw wrappers, napkins, gum wrappers, empty cups,bags, receipts, etc. If it’s small, it goes in my purse to be thrown away that evening IN A TRASH CAN. If it’s big (hold on here, I know this is a novel concept for some) I keep it until I can put it IN A TRASH CAN. Honestly, what is so hard about that? Some people just seem to think they’re too good to ride around with an empty cup in their car (or a cigarette butt, don’t get me started on those), or they’re in such a hurry to get into the store that they can’t be troubled to walk 10 feet out of their way to the trash can on the sidewalk, so down goes the gum wrapper in the parking lot. You know, I don’t really know anyone who is so special that I would embrace their right to litter. And if I knew someone who WAS that special, whatever standing I had assigned to them in my mind would be immediately negated by throwing their trash on the ground. Along those lines, I came across an article today that describes yet another negative impact of Mexicans illegally crossing our borders. If they can’t even trouble to clean up after themselves on the way in, exactly how is it that they make good uninvited guests?
  2. Failing to signal for turns or lane changes. Hint: that car cost many thousands of dollars. It has several little neat compartments and cubbyholes. Open one of them, just in front of where the front passenger sits. You’ll find a manual that will tell you how to operate the turn signals. What? You didn’t know it was included with the Urban Commando Package? Guess what -- even the base model Yugo (that I swear had a passenger seat as an option) was equipped with turn signals.
  3. And WHAT is up with the parking spaces these days? It is as though everybody but me got a memo stating that the white lines in the parking lot are now only a suggestion and, like matters of morals these days, are to be constructed to mean whatever you want them to mean. Silly me, I’m still taking pains to make sure I’m parked evenly and straight between them. Last week I watched as an elderly gentleman in a mini-van pulled into the space beside me (ignoring the 486 other empty spaces) so tightly that he had to contort his body to wriggle out of the door that he was only able to open about 8 inches. I had to fold down his rear-view mirror to be able to walk between our cars. I have dozens of other incidents to relate but I guess we all do, unless one of the “we” happens to be the dim bulb that actually commits these egregious parking faux pas and will claim to have no clue. I guess I should at least give some folks credit for parking, more or less, in designated parking areas and not in a fire lane or wherever happens to be convenient for them, parking lot or not. Apparently it’s not a phenomenon that only I have noticed. In a Google image search for examples of bad parking, most of the results returned were part of someone’s blog.
  4. Bumper stickers, billboards, and t-shirts in public that are emblazoned with crude, vulgar, crass images or words. Yes, I know all about the First Amendment, thank you very much, and I will support anyone’s right to be able to say whatever they want. However, common decency and a good grandmother’s smack of common sense should dictate that you don’t put nasty words or pictures where they will easily be seen by children or offend the sensibilities of decent people. While we’re at it, girls (and women), bra straps are supposed to go UNDER the clothes, breasts are supposed to be contained INSIDE said bra and clothing, and no, I really don’t want to see your thong or your tattoo. Guess what…about 98% of the rest of the world doesn’t want to see them, either.
  5. Leaving the table at a fast food restaurant in a disgusting mess.
  6. Any kind of radio or CD noise played loudly enough that people four cars down can hear it. And I start seething when the offender is sitting in a parking lot with windows rolled down blaring whatever he loosely defines as "music." Most of the time it's nasty. And the driver has created a parking spot just for himself totally oblivious to the "parking suggestion" lines painted on the ground.
  7. And don't even get me started on the glut of cell phone rudeness that now permeates society.

Selfish, selfish, selfish. Courtesy to others, both known and unknown to us, is truly a lost art. People are all about themselves these days. I really don’t have a fancy or eloquent way to state it otherwise. Too many in our society are just boorish, selfish, and rude. It is a poor reflection on our culture and does not bode well for our future. History has validated, time and time again, the broken window theory. While the theory was intended to make a case for the relationship between small, seemingly petty vandalism and increased crime, it’s not much of a stretch to see that the same principle applies to the behaviors of a society. Little things that used to be commonplace surprise me now, as they have become increasingly rare: tossing up a hand in thanks when I let you pull out onto the highway from the side street; going in the right-hand door so as to not cause a confuzzelation with me, who actually is using the right-hand door coming out; a clerk truly looking me in the eye and giving a genuine greeting and thanks when I’m conducting business. As the little things go, they will be missed less and less and then bigger courtesies will slide, soon to be followed by common sense and decency. We seem to have forgotten the art of being gracious in both giving and receiving, and it is a major blow to the sense of order and goodness in our world.

Go do something nice for society. Let your actions show that you're aware this beautiful world does not revolve around you.

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies;…You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten and waste your compliments. – Proverbs 23:6,8

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bad Spellers of the World….Unite

Unite, that is, to make a commitment to check a dictionary (remember those?) when you don’t know how a word is spelled. Yes, I know what the funny t-shirt says but I have a different approach: "Hello, my name is Lydia, and I am a spelling snob." When you are not seeing or meeting a person face to face (or even by telephone) but are, rather, reading something they have written (as an e-mail, web post, blog entry, or something work related), that all-important first impression is based on the only thing you have before you: word choice, grammar, syntax, and spelling. As I recently commented to a friend and fellow wordsmith, bad spelling is, to me, the first-impression equivalent of spinach in the teeth, BO, and an unzipped fly all rolled into one. Oh, toss in there a limp handshake for good measure. (Lest you think I may have it out for children and those who are not particularly nimble of finger, rest assured that I bear no ill will for misspellings by youngsters and for the occasional tpyo.)

I’m even willing to make concessions for the fact that not everyone was even mildly interested in school, maybe was not as much of a geek as I was. But that was THEN. If you know you didn’t do so well in school THEN, I would think that NOW that you’re all, like, grown up and, you know, all, you would decide that maybe, just maybe, you need to take a few extra precautions to ensure that you present yourself well. If you read at all (cereal boxes, advertisements, weblogs) might you not notice that some people spell things differently than you? And, might that not cause a little niggling something in the back of your mind to think,“Hmm. That’s odd…wonder why they spell that differently. Let me look it up in the dictionary and see who’s right.” If you know you used to get lots of red circles on your term papers, just humble yourself now and realize that, yes, it is difficult to determine whether a word ends in "-ent" or "-ant" just by saying it. So go ahead, grab that big book!

My dictionary of choice is Noah Webster's First Edition of an American Dictionary of the English Language, but seriously, any reasonable dictionary--even the one on your computer or at suffice for most.

Thought for the day: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." -- Proverbs 1:7.

Rats Amoré (or, Sam is So Skinny)

My daughter (7 this October) has, for some reason, fallen in love with America’s “A Horse with No Name.” Beats me how this even came to find its way onto my iPod, but she adores it. (Hippie music, I call it – drug-inspired, it must be, to boast such lyrics as “the heat was hot.” Wow, guys, you dug deep for that one!) Anyway, on the trip to my uncle’s birthday party this past Saturday (where I was looking right when my turn was on the left, and I went 9 miles past my turn to end up at Tallulah Gorge which I had, incidentally, seen Karl Wallenda cross on a wire when I was 4) we had the iPod rocking and she wanted to hear “A Horse with No Name.” I just set it to play the America songs and after her song came America’s “Muskrat Love.” Daughter had, by this time, turned her attention back to her Junie B. Jones book. At first I was kind of humming along and singing the song. I played it again, and thought it was kind of cute. I played it again, and started chuckling out loud and finally just giggling while daughter, with all the aplomb of a 13-year-old, rolled her eyes and tried to ignore me. Mind you, please, that I already had my own flip-face clock radio radio when The Captain and Tennille had a hit with their version of “Muskrat Love." What I mean to say is, that song is no stranger to me. Phooey, I had the album. So why this song struck me as so funny at age 40 I have no clue. But in true stream-of-consciousness thinking, where one thing leads to another and to yet another, I decisively resolved that it must truly have been a low point in American radio when a Top 40 slot (heck, a Top 5, at that) was held for 12 weeks by a song about water rodents whirling, twirling, and tangling in a blissful expression of love. Which got me thinking…what a dark period in television, indeed, for Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille—replete with long, flowing tunics—to be broadcast weekly. I loved them and thought The Captain was terribly cute and mysterious, what with his nickname, his cap, and his apparent vow of silence. But…what was ABC thinking? What was I thinking when I commandeered the technologically advanced, 13-channel RCA ColorTrak from my parents every week?

What were THEY thinking when they relinquished control of the dial? Now that I think about it, they disappeared during that time. Maybe they were nibbling on bacon and chewing on cheese…

Side notes: Funny, I always thought it was Neil Young singing on "A Horse with No Name." Apparently a lot of people did but it actually wasn’t him. And, according to Wikipedia: This song has also been ridiculed for the banal lyric, "The heat was hot". Randy Newman once described it as a song "about a kid who thinks he's taken acid". Ow, that’s gotta hurt!

Thought for today: “Sustain me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick.” – Song of Solomon 2:5

Sunday, July 30, 2006

You can't go home again

Such a simple quote, really. It's hard to believe that a string of five very common words could become so commonplace a statement, so powerful a truth, as to be attributed to someone. Home. For most of us, the concept refers not to just one's present domicile but also one's home of the past, one's place of growing up, of developing, of seeking and finding, of reaching the age of (accountability, reckoning, Aquarius -- pick one). It's a place for which we hold unanswered yearnings, often hidden deep in our core until triggered by a memory or emotion. Then there is me, for whom the idea of home is connected only with the house in which I now live with my husband and daughter. Home is a foreign concept, an alien land, an imaginary realm that exists somewhere between the covers of the books that hold the chapters of other people's lives, not my own. It is (mostly) no fault of mine that I do not have a place called home, nestling deep within my past, to which my mind can run when I am tired, sad, frustrated, sick, or when I am asked that question that threatens to demolish the foundations of my mental faculties and turns me -- typically wordy and of careful elocution -- into a stuttering, stammering mound of d’oh: “Where are you from?”

My family (mom, dad, me) was quite mobile when I was growing up. I moved with my family when I was 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 11 (yes, twice), 14, and 14 (see note for 11). Talk about always being the outsider at school… I moved on my own (more or less, counting to/from various colleges) at ages 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24 (to get married), 27, 32 and 33. These moves were between two different states (three, if you count a short stint at UNC at age 17-18) and several different towns within the northern regions of those states. I would hope, therefore, that one could see why the otherwise-innocuous inquiry of, “Where are you from?” strikes fear in my heart.

Which leads me to…Yesterday. I had the pleasure and privilege of attending a birthday celebration for my very favoritest uncle in the whole world, who is turning 70 on July 31. This was held at his church, which is in an area near where we lived during some of those tumultuous moving years of my youth. His wife is a teacher and had some friends from school there helping out. One lady, in particular, kept catching my eye and I figured out that I had gone to school with her in 4th through 7th grades. We were not really great friends at the time. This was a very tiny school in the country – there was one 4th, one 5th, and one 6th grade, so we were all together for 3 whole years. M. and I both liked the same boy all those years (yes, he was one of THOSE Adonis-like males who, even at 10 years old, could turn a roomful of 5th-grade girls into a snarling, sniveling, taunting heap of hair pullers). I was really happy to see this lady, M., and re-introduced myself to her. I was ready for a “How exciting, imagine seeing you for the first time since 1978, let’s sit down, catch up on things, how are you, what are you doing, my your daughter is beautiful” (yes, she really is) sort of exchange. What I got was…cool. ???? Cordial, yes, but cool. I am not in touch with very many people (one hand’s worth of fingers) from my growing-up years at six different schools in two states, so I relish the few random opportunities I get to connect with those “lost” years. This was a blow to me and yet another reminder… you can’t go home again.

One thing I can do, though, is put on my rose-colored glasses as well as the next girl, thank you very much, so I decided that M. still harbors some ill will against me that could only result from her thinking, then AND now, that I was a more likely recipient of the affections of Adonis than she was (he did, after all, kiss ME at that party, not her that I’m aware of). So, how do you like THEM apples? Turns out, Adonis doesn’t like apples at all. I saw him a few years ago at an Elton John concert…with a guy.

My hope for today:

“God makes a home for the lonely.” – Psalm 68:6

“In My Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you.” – John 14:2