In my Lenten Bible Study I saw a quote from this author. In researching Francis Frangipane, I found these words which I felt merited reposting.
In my Lenten Bible Study I saw a quote from this author. In researching Francis Frangipane, I found these words which I felt merited reposting.
Topo Chico (Spanish for Top Boy) is a delicious mineral water which is extremely popular in Texas. Topo Chico is even available in vending machines at Texas Tech. The bubbly kick from a beautiful glass bottle seems special and is reminiscent of drinking a real Coke. It seems fancy but at $7.88 for a case of 12, it serves as a reasonable splurge.
For my friends avoiding sugar or who will be giving the vice up for Lent, I have a sweet little recipe that came together after my radical decision to buy groceries today. I had to go to the “Pajama Brookshire’s” for obvious reasons. Best morning ever snuggling dogs and catching up with friends.
Alas, was born from my incredible bounty of actual food inside my house: the simple-to-make Topo-Keto Dreamsicle. If you want a sweet treat this is a low-carb dream.
1 Topo Chico Mineral Water (my fave)
1 shot Orange Tangerine Mio
I shot Nestlé Sugar Free Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer (15 calories/ 2 carbs)
1 Tbsp Whipping Cream (50 calories 0 carbs)
Combine all ingredients in a separate, larger glass to prevent a volcano. Let me know what you think!
This nine-year-old photo which today appeared in my Facebook memory feed both warms and breaks my heart simultaneously. It touches me because I see such complete love and concern for me in the eyes of my eleven-year-old son. Conversely, is a gut punch that he ever had to wear such a weighty mantle on his tiny little shoulders.
I do believe you can teach and encourage a child to have empathy but reflected there in his little green eyes are a love from an entirely different place. From an eternal place. I have no doubt that he would have moved heaven and earth to bring joy and laughter into my life.
So often in our first year of life without ML, I prayed for strength not to cry around Jack. Often God blew upon me with fresh deliverance and helped me to keep a stiff upper lip. Not that he would think I was some pillar of strength but that he could believe that his life would still be good.
At other times the tears would fall. He would stare at me with that kindness and ask me if I was ok. He would tell me I could tell him what was wrong. And through those teaming tears I would tell him that I loved him for asking but that it wasn’t his job to take care of me, that I was his mom and it was my job to take care of him.
I did concede this,
“When I’m 90, though, you can change my Pull Ups.” That never failed to send him to another room.
I feel so honored that God granted me such an amazing daughter for a short twelve years. And unbelievably blessed that The Lord has given me such an incredible son for these twenty-plus years. It is no mystery why I love him so.
*Jack is a sophomore at Texas Tech University, 9 hours from home. I am so proud. He is studying Natural Resource Management / Ranch Management, playing intra-murals, writing songs on his guitar, dating a sweet & beautiful girl and sharing a dude house with 2 fellas and his dog. And going to church. No, really. He sends me proof. (Not that I ask or anything)
My part time job in employee engagement has grown into a position with perks. Like huge perks. I now am the ecstatic occupant of a closet-turned-office. It is exactly 4’10” by 5’3″ and it is amazing.
What began as prime real estate for marketing posters, brooms and folding chairs has transitioned into a beautiful cloffice. My cloffice is perfect for deep work like writing and apparently fashion design.
Like most fabulous things that happen my Project Runway moment was brought on by necessity. The way my blouse hung when I first dressed in the morning had me totally irritated by 10am. It seems I am still reaping repercussions from Holiday Pie Month as my jeans screamed for mercy at the waistline.
With ill-fitting top and gut-sprung bottom, something had to give. An employee T-shirt would fix it but I didn’t have cash and corporate has some obscure bias towards not stealing or whatever.
Suddenly I remembered the 2 yards of stretchy fabric in my cloffice storage area (behind the mirror) I rarely purchase fabric but my amazing tufted sofa from Weir’s had been victimized by a protracted 11 months of use and began farting tufted button covers. So I had to replace the buttons with a craft kit and fabric. It worked like a charm and I had fabric left over.
I fashioned the leftover stretchy fabric into a scarf two weeks ago which I shucked at work. Now in need I searched every inch for the fabric. Once in hand my historical brain thumbed through clothing periods, reminding my creative brain that in ancient times they mainly had large swatches of clothing tied in brilliant ways.
So I halved the remnant, held it square and cut a slit for my neck hole. Way smaller than I wanted to cut but you cannot go back. I stuffed my epically large head through and bam! Poncho city, sweetheart. Holding my left arm out, I cut the two layers into 3 strips and tied them. Repeating the cut and tie method for the right armhole, I now held arms up and was happy to be covered and comfortable.
Emerging from the cocoon of constraining couture I was free to move about Garden Park until halted in my tracks. By compliments. Apparently I was accidentally stylish. How fun is fun?
So I bring you the cloffice couture. Who knows what a day may hold?
I first saw her from afar in front of the Baylor Library (was it Moody? The big one with a Starbucks now?) The occasion was a fraternity event on a sunny February afternoon my freshman year.
Fresh from sorority rush in our pledge jerseys, we stood glommed together by house waiting for the chance to pour ourselves into a VW Bug. The house with the most girls fitting in a vehicle won. This archaic challenge required the combination of flexibility, small stature and mainly being OK with a banana clip full of frosted spiral perm in the mouth.
A friend pointed her out to me,
“There she is! That’s the one who asked Rick to the pledge dance.”
She was Gina Rhodes. A radiant, bright-faced beauty from Arkansas. The worst part? She was as sweet as she was gorgeous. AND had the audacity to ask my Freshman Formal date to her dance.
Remember that guy? The one I made a mix tape for probably before ever meeting him and did not deliver only because Betsy tackled me as I was marching out of our Collins dorm room to foist upon him. The line between stalker and crush, so razor-thin at 19. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.
I admired Gina from afar and once Rick failed to fall madly in love with her either I suddenly found her far more palatable. I mean, come ON. Clearly that was on HIM. I would never imagine that those bright blue smiling eyes and the heart just South of them would impact my life for decades to come.
Through sheer grace, I wound up having this sweet one as a suite mate sophomore year in Memorial Dorm. A group of us with parents who strongly preferred another year on campus for their baby girls got a block of rooms to make it fun. It was there that the initial admiration for this person so unlike myself grew.
One evening returning from popping the nightly bag of ACT popcorn I was startled by the figure I saw through our Jack and Jill bathroom. Sweet Gina was dressed in a high-neck, floor-length white cotton gown. All we needed was a Nutcracker. Shutting the bathroom door, I drew within whisper distance to Maureen and mouthed, “What is that?” “Honey, I know. I don’t know.” she replied.
Like anyone who lives in close proximity to an oddity, I was routinely pulled aside in hushed hallways and asked “Seriously, Jinny, what is Gina like? Is she really that sweet?” Sub context question: “How is anyone that sweet?” The answer to their verbalized as well as hidden queries was “Yes. And I know, right? As the year progressed I saw not a saccharine actress but rather an authentic and loving soul.
While most of us knew we should treat people as God would and probably talked a fairly good game, the outcast of the outcast was her actual squad. Overlooked people were her wheelhouse. In the hidden and private moments away from any audience or ethics professor, Gina spent valuable study time simply sharing life with other people. Many of us operated from excellent intentions while she overflowed with indiscriminate kindness.
From 1991 to 1994 this surreal saint Gina was my room mate. She studied Marriage and Family Counseling while I hacked away at a Masters of Communication. The tears we cried over adulting and academic anxiety were only surpassed by those flowing from uproarious laughter. The disarray of our tiny bathroom, grosser than that of any dudes, was never rivaled. Each night as I would come in from my Uncle Julio’s job and she from McKay’s Steakhouse next door, our 600-square feet apartment was a safe place to fall.
When John and I began dating and he spoke of me people would correct him,
“Not Jinny. You mean you’re dating Gina? Not the comic. The sweet one?”
God knew I would need a good listener. My skill in that area improved and as iron sharpens iron, how Gina sharpened me. This counselor got me and got me through so much in 30 years. As different as we are we share an unshakable similarity in absent mindedness.
We got lost en route to DFW (which would be my engagement trip) sharing a dance party in her Impala, we performed a funeral for a McKay’s customer whose brother was a famous preacher, we cluelessly attempted to divide itemized phone bills and caught Restless Heart at Billy Bobs at least once.
It simply matters who you choose to let in your life. It is unexplainable how profoundly a sister of my own choosing has made me better in every way. Thank you, God, for Gina.
Raise your hand if the thought of New Year’s Resolutions gives you cramps. Ok, you can put your hand down. They make me feel like the chunky girl at Baylor whose bestie taught aerobics. You know who you are, Colleen Gibbs.
Resolutions fill me with dread because what if I fail? What if I do not have the discipline to keep my car clean and the inside looks like overflow housing for Chimp Haven? What if I commit to more sleep but Netflix? What if my intentions toward the manna of morning prayer are edged out by the emotional sugar-rush of social media? Twinkie-over-oatmeal-style?
If we are honest, and the human bent toward self-defense keeps this from happening at all costs, there is clutter holding us back. Clutter like the content of literal storage sheds we need to shed or the energy-suck of anxiety over what we cannot control. Honesty is the assassin of our false selves* and the open door to change.
Can’t you just feel the terror of your secrets? There is dog hair in your fridge, people you love to judge. There are entire days spent mentally crucifying those who have done you wrong. Real Dr. Pepper cans in your trash. Like a LOT. Drugs under your bed. Degrading photographs on your lap top. Overdue library books to name just a few. This clutter must be named before we can change.
“We’re only as sick as our secrets” Stephen King has said. Maybe a resolution is not what you need, perhaps just a decision that before February you will get honest with yourself about one thing clogging your life which needs to go. Perhaps if today you name your clutter and write it down it will not be so terrifying.
Shawn Achor asserts that we can rewire our brains to be happy. There is a mountain of evidence to support this.
His book has been around since 2010. I am a little slow to the party but his Ted Talk has blown me away! Some members of our work family are undertaking the Happiness Challenge of recording three new things a day for which to be thankful. Beginning January 1 and lasting 21 days, we are hoping to personally increase our positive outlook by looking for the good things.
Monica Grant shared her moving life story which further inspired me to life change. So incredible!
Count your blessings. Name them one by one.
#gardenpark #happiness #lifehacks #shawnachor #happinessadvantage #changethelenschangeyourlife #monicagrant
(Stocking cap creds: John Craig Henson, Sr.)
New York is magical at Christmastime. The most iconic image for me is The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
If you pilgrimage there, beware of flying selfie sticks (yes, there are still a few in existence) and just know that your head/face/hat will play a supporting role in a at least a few Christmas cards. I even saw a woman on the steps of 30 Rock applying makeup for her selfie while her spouse held the mirror. Which was so completely obnoxious that it made me angry…that I had not thought of it.
The sheer size of this year’s Spruce is staggering; the tree is 74′ high and 50′ in diameter. Amazingly, there is no bad side to the tree. Believe me, I looked. Nowhere will you find a bare patch with no lights. There is no wall to hide the bent limbs or squirrel-damage. The 75-year-old tree at Rockefeller is huge, symmetrical and beautifully decorated. On every side.
When I was a high school and college student, I worked at Neiman Marcus in Houston on Christmas break. Most times I was at the candy counter front and center but occasionally I would be pulled into epicure and holiday decor. My Dad being men’s suit manager is the only reason a clumsy girl like me would ever have that assignment. I will never forget the manager’s instruction: pull the tree away from the wall and make sure the lights and ornaments are evenly-spaced around the entire tree. Do not neglect the less-visible half which faces the corner.
“How stupid,” I thought. The level of unnecessary attention to detail was striking. Why waste good ornaments on the hidden half of the tree when you could make the front completely amazing? I wondered quietly why we worked on the half of this Christmas Tree that shoppers will NEVER see? Confused yet respectful, I did as I was instructed. She was beautiful from every angle even if no one would ever appreciate the hidden side.
I am reminded of this tree when I put all my good stuff in the front window and cram the junk under the rug. I proudly display the leg lamp of my highlight reel front and center while ignoring the things which God wants to touch and change in me with the light of His love. This illumination can only happen when I take honest inventory.
The secret of the tree has unfolded before me; character is the fruit of a soul which we assume we can hide or display at will when actually it is expressed continuously in all we do. If we are to desire that God’s will be done on earth as it is heaven we must connect with that God to even know how to breathe.
What escaped me was the fact that the stand for this display tree actually rotated. All the Christopher Radko Ornaments would actually be seen by everybody. My effort so grudgingly expended was not for naught as I assumed.
The interior life of our souls is worth all the time we can sink into it and so much more. Our openness to God’s Spirit before we open our social media accounts is the best work we can accomplish all day. The deep work of silently listening to God’s Word saves us from the humiliation of a revolving tree stand revealing the appearance of goodness while lacking goodness indeed.
The image to project today is Jesus. If all the effort we invest is merely in how we look then perhaps we need a second look at our souls.
Two decades ago you were born. You spent the first night in the NICU because your lungs were a little damp from your quick entrance into the world. I think that is the last time you hurried.
Andrea sent me Kenny Loggins Return to Pooh Corner and when sister napped we would dance around the house. I mean I did most of the leading since you weighed about as much as a rotisserie chicken.
You mainly were a great audience to our shenanigans and when you finally walked, you came up with your own. Like the time Pop replaced the broken 10.5 x 13 window pane in our French door and you took the opportunity to squeeze through the opening and explore the back yard.
Your heroes have always been cowboys even when you insisted on wearing your hat backwards at the XIT Rodeo in the Panhandle. How you have grown into the cowboy hat connoisseur placing yours perfectly upside down to protect the brim when not in use.
A happy little fellow you were and still are. I could speak of all the ways you were ridiculously easy to raise or your hustle in the classroom or your incredible wit or writing. But I will leave it with just how grateful I am that God entrusted me with the unmerited gift of you twenty years ago.
Despite my myriad of maternal imperfections, I truly could not love you any more than I do John Craig Henson, Jr. Happy Birthday to you.
I am inspired by those serving the least of these who really just have no business doing so; expending their limited energies on others. So often it is not the ones with unlimited resources of time, talent and treasure who are the helpers in this life.
I received a Maggie Lee for Good Project email from a retired teacher named Mary Ann. She and son, Alan, have been on an exhausting caregiver roller coaster this year. Husband and Father Ken has been hospitalized four times this year, the last time he actually coded in the E.R. and revived. If anyone deserves a pass on this year’s sowing, it is this family.
Each October 29th The Stowes have opened their home for a Halloween Party. There is always a movie shown in the backyard and plenty of food. Their non profit emphasis is The Star of Hope Mission which serves a cross-section of very poor Houstonians. Items like towels and toiletries are requested when Mary Ann issues invitations.
This year there will not be a party but yet there was still a request for donations and a commitment of this family to look out for others despite their drained resources, sleepless nights and medical anxiety.
May we all live with hands open when tempted to clinch them tight, eyes focused on God and not our burdens, spirits alive with kindness while it’s still called today.
No other crop will do. Let other fools sow hatred and foment disdain. For the sake of your own soul plant love.