Month: September 2008

The Lifebuilder’s Creed

Today is the most important day of my life.
Yesterday with its success and victories, struggles and failures
is gone forever.
The past is past.
I cannot relive it. I cannot go back and change it.
But I will learn from it and improve my Today.

Today. This moment. NOW.
It is God’s gift to me and it is all that I have.

Tomorrow with all its joys and sorrows, triumphs and
troubles isn’t here yet.
Indeed, tomorrow may never come.
Therefore, I will not worry about tomorrow.

Today is what God has entrusted to me.
It is all that I have. I will do my best in it.
I will demonstrate the best of me in it –
my character, giftedness, and abilities –
to my family and friends, clients and associates.
I will identify those things that are most important
to do Today,
and those things I will do until they are done.
And when this day is done
I will look back with satisfaction at that
which I have accomplished.

Then, and only then will I plan my tomorrow,
Looking to improve upon Today, with God’s help.

Then I shall go to sleep in peace…content.

I just loved this. This is an excerpt from John Maxwell’s book “Today Matters” and was written by Dale Witherington.

(This post was originally published in August of 2006 – thanks for putting up with my leftovers this week as I adjusted to being a homeschool mom of three! Mystery Photo tomorrow – be ready, because there’s another $5 Starbucks card on the line for this one!)

Life on the Farm…

I think I’m being assimilated.

I heard my mother’s voice come out of my mouth today.

I feel like I’m caught somewhere between the old 1956 movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and Star Trek’s “Enterprise”…where resistance is deemed futile. I turned my house upside down looking for any signs of an empty pod, but all I found were the following: 4 half-eaten very stale graham crackers, 32 lego blocks hidden in various and sundry places, one empty milk sippy cup strategically placed under the couch behind dad’s guitar so we wouldn’t find it in time to actually be able to make it useable again, and about half of my son’s socks that don’t have mates in the laundry basket. (At least that’s one mystery solved.)

Anyway…my mother’s voice? It said, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times…” (insert catchy phrase that you’ve actually repeated a hundred or more times here)…”stop running and yelling in the house! Go OUTSIDE!”. Okay, I have several problems with the beginning phrase, which is why I can’t believe I said it. First, if I’ve had to tell my kids something a hundred times, then I’m not doing my job as a parent – the limit should be a little lower, in my opinion. Secondly, if I’ve really told them a hundred times, why should I repeat myself? They should know by now. And if they know by now, it’s not that they forgot, it’s that they are willfully disobeying. And willfull disobedience is actually nothing more than sin. Which we all have…which goes back to #1 – I’m not doing my job as a parent. Sigh.

Things were so much simpler when I was a kid. If we got rambunctious in the house, my mom just told us to go outside. And we did. Ha. If only it were that simple with my kids. We lived on a farm that was about 363 acres. We had horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and peacocks. We ate everything but the horses and peacocks, by the way. Not all at once…but I learned not to fall in love with the cute little piglets. Not so much because we were going to eat them, but because they were mean suckers, excuse me, fellas when they grew up.

I miss living on a farm. There are life lessons you learn that just can’t be taught in the city. Washing the dishes and taking out the trash is NOT the same thing as getting up at 4 am to milk the cows and slop the hogs. You can see how those would be two totally different worlds, right? How do I teach my kids the importance of teamwork and responsibility the way I was taught? On the farm, if you didn’t do your job, that meant someone else had to do it. It meant no free time for that person because their free time was spent pitching the hay you were supposed to be pitching, but because you came down with pneumonia, you didn’t have to do it and they did. (did that sound a little snooty? Sorry…just remembering..ahem). Mom and Dad didn’t pick up after us. They didn’t allow us to watch tv or have snacks or anything else until after the chores had been done, we had washed up and supper had been eaten.

I was never bored on the farm. My mom’s friend Mickey once told me as a kid that “only boring people are bored”. It stuck with me. I always had things to do, places to go, animals to see. There were trees to climb, ponds to fish in, and if all else failed…there was the barn.

I loved our barn. It was about a quarter mile from our house and it was a great place to escape to. It was similar to the barn in the above picture, which I stole off a Park’s website (can’t give credit, because I don’t remember where it came from)….except it was flat Texas prairie in the background instead of mountains. Well, flat except for the rows of corn in the fields. I can still smell the scent of the freshly cut hay, stacked up against all the walls, 6 high and 6 deep on each side, spilling out into the aisles. Of course, that was on the top half. The bottom was where the horses and cows came to feed…there were milking stalls and a couple of extra oneswhere we would put the cows at calving time if there were problems. Against one wall, we kept all the tack for the horses. Once of my favorite things to do was to brush the horses down after riding them.

One of the jobs I shared with my brother Don was to pitch hay to the cows out of the 2nd story barn doors every afternoon close to supper time. We would pass the time trying to scare the poo out of one another with ghost stories and alien abduction stories. It wasn’t uncommon to have the call of nature happen while we were out there and walking to the house was just out of the question. There was hay to be pitched and no time to waste, people! So we’d hang it out the barn doors and go. I know what you are thinking…”Ewww…how disGUSTING!”….or maybe “how uncivilized”….all true. But look, we were 7 and 12. Not exactly known for having the best manners. (Which is probably why our mom was always shushing us outside).

One afternoon Don told me to turn around because he had to go, so I went as usual to the opposite end of the barn and pitched some hay out that way. I had no sooner gotten to my end of the barn when I heard the barn doors make a funny creaking sound, followed by a whoosh! of air and then a loud thump. I had a sinking feeling in my gut. I had seen enough late night movies and heard enough of Don’s stories to know what had happened. Some sort of strange being had taken my brother!

I was terrified to turn around. I heard a low moan. Was that him? I stood, motionless, listening. It was only after hearing him whimper again that I was able to summon the courage to turn and face the monster that had dared to take my brother. I saw nothing. No alien. No Don. I walked tentatively to the end where he had been standing and looked out over the edge of the barn floor. There he was. Lying on the ground 20 feet below, motionless. Dead! I started screaming hysterically…then he said, “Karen, shut up and get down here.” It was only then that I was able to fully comprehend what had happened. He was not “peeing”…he was well…you get the idea. He had been holding the barn doors for balance (you should never hold onto 100 year old barn doors…they have rusty and faulty handles!) and had fallen 20 feet into his own poo.

Not to mention, he fell on his right arm and broke it. He was covered in poo and I wasn’t about to clean him up. I ran 1/4 mile faster than you can say “Marion Jones” and got my mom.
Man, I miss life on the farm…

(This post was originally written before I had three kids in homeschool and subsequently published January 18, 2007. Thanks so much for putting up with my leftovers this week while I am adjusting to being a homeschooling mom of three again!)

WFMW – Backwards

I’m in a blogging rut – I haven’t had time to find any new blogs lately because I’m working too much and homeschooling, thank you very much.

So I could use your help. I love to read in my spare time (when I have it) and would like to know who’s your favorite blogger and what’s his/her url? I need some fresh new reads.

Head on over to Shannon’s – maybe you can answer her question. 🙂

Look on the bright side! Subscribe via my RSS feed.

If my husband asks, you never saw me here…

Melanie (aka Chilihead – I just LOVE calling her that) and I had a great time yesterday on Behind the Blog – we had Rick Calvert (the founder of Blog World Expo) on – and I’ll be darned if he isn’t just the nicest and most personable man. (and I’m not just saying that because I want to score a sponsored trip to the BWE in Vegas, either…although that would be nice!)

We also had Kelly Curtis from Pass the Torch on to talk about going from Blog to Book. She recently published her first book and you can find it on her website – she’s a very engaging speaker and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her series on her blog about “Becoming an Author“. If you have any interest in writing, she’s got a great story.

I’ve updated the player on the sidebar – so you can listen to it. Or, you can download it and listen later. Either way works for me. I just want you to listen to my nasally, tin can voice. That’s all. I need to feel the loooove. (I have NO idea where that just came from…could it be the glass of tea and huge piece of fudge I ate?)

In other news, I’ve been working on those blog designs in between homeschooling and trying to keep up with the laundry. Everything’s coming along swimmingly except for the laundry. Any ideas for me on that front?

Here’s a couple I’ve done, along with a revision of one making it a three column from a two column that I originally designed:

Trust Teachers, a site designed for empowering teachers and contracted by a the woman who was my very FIRST paying client when I started my business(Thanks NN!):

Taking on the World (in 4-inch heels), a site devoted to the female entrepreneur – and whose photo is that on the front page, anyway?

The Miss Elaine-ous Life, also one of my first clients – she wanted a third column added to her layout.

I’ll be adding them over on my design site, along with the client profiles, but I haven’t had the time to do it yet, so I thought I’d show y’all here. You don’t mind, do you? 🙂 I’m still working out some crazy IE/FF issues on the 4-inch heels one, so you don’t have to email me and tell me it’s wonky, I know. On second thought, email me…I haven’t had much this week…

So if you’re waiting on a blog design, it’s coming. I’m a little inundated by the laundry situation around here. As soon as I dig my way out, I’ll be back. I hope.

I have missed seeing y’all in my inbox! What gives? Does no one visit any more? Don’t read leftovers? 🙂

Look on the bright side! Subscribe via my RSS feed.

The Scrap Bowl

On my kitchen counter sits an old scrap bowl. It’s not much to look at — there are exactly 3 chips around the rim and you’ll even find a few hairline cracks in the glaze if you study it long enough. I have always loved that bowl – it’s a testimony to the fact that many small hands have had their turns stirring cookie dough or making banana pudding in it.

When a meal is finished, I place the scraps in it so our eldest daughter can feed its contents to our two Basset Hounds. Sometimes, when I am feeling ambitious, I might even clean out the refrigerator and anything not petrified is tossed into the old bowl as a special treat to add to the regular dry food our dogs receive.

My daughter knows that each morning she is supposed to empty the contents of the bowl into the dog’s dish outside. She has dutifully fed those dogs for the last 5 years, yet she is quick to “forget” the scrap bowl. It is inconvenient for her. She has to carry it to the back yard. She has to be careful not to drop it. She has to carry a spoon to scrape the contents out. Simply put, it is too much work. So it sits, full of scraps.

A day goes by. Two. On the third day, I call her to the kitchen and tell her that she must take the scraps out or else. Her countenance falls as she realizes just how long it has been…the scrap bowl is now full of food and she knows that it is going to smell bad and suddenly, she balks at the thought of dealing with it. I angrily tell her to “just do it” and give her a typical mom speech about responsibility and accountability and go on about how “if she’d have just done it when she was supposed to…” it would have never gotten this bad.

Then it happens. A light switches on somewhere in the dim regions of my brain and I realize that the bowl is like my heart and the scraps in it are the “little” sins I throw in there and hide under the paper towel so no one else can see them. Sins of ommission — like the times I was supposed to pray and didn’t, or not being diligent to read my Bible daily, even disobedience to God’s Word. If I go long enough, my heart is full and I have a very unpleasant odor, much like that scrap bowl. And like my daughter, I am ever so happy to ignore it (it will go away, won’t it?) until I am rendered useless. My bowl is full. I have no room for patience with my children, courtesy to my husband, or anything else that might further the cause of Christ.

I have become completely unprofitable and it’s only when I empty myself before the Lord that He is able to use me again. He gently picks me up, cleanses me from the inside out, and places me back on solid ground. When my daughter comes back in, I am no longer angry. I take the scrap bowl from her and wash it out myself, thankful for a Savior who is willing to love me in spite of my chips and cracks.

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” -2 Timothy 2:21

(Originally published Feb 2008 as a piece that was submitted to Scribbit’s February Write-Away Contest – thanks for putting up with my leftovers while I’m adjusting to homeschooling)

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Ten Things I El-Oh-Vee-Eee About my Hometown…

Homer, Alaska.

The only town I claim as my “hometown.” Even though I was born in Texas and lived here for the first 11 years of my life (as well as the last 9) – I will always call Homer my home. Don’t get me wrong, I love Texas. But look at that picture – who could resist calling that home if they had a choice?

Ten things I love about Homer, Alaska:

1. It has a Spit. See that little jutty thing in the picture? It’s called, appropriately, “the Homer Spit.” Many a summer night of my youth was spent on the beaches of the Spit around a campfire bundled up in blankets.

2. It’s where the land ends and the sea begins in Alaska. It’s the farthest south you can drive in the entire state without taking a ferry or a plane.

3. Its population almost doubles in the summer. There are as many visitors in the summer at any given time as there are residents of the town!

4. It has a sign ordinance. The city doesn’t allow those really tall roadside the McDonald’s arches. Instead, businesses are forced to put them on their buildings or have them at a certain height. Not good for the business owners, but great for aesthetics. bulletin boards anywhere in Alaska.

5. It has more churches than bars. Okay, you may not think this is a big deal, but when I graduated high school, there were 27 churches and only 24 bars for a town of 5000! Tell me why a town of 5000 needs 27 churches and 24 bars?

6. It is a true melting pot of cultural diversity. Well, maybe not as diverse as New York City, where you can find practically every language in the world spoken…but it IS diverse.

7. The Arts reign supreme – theatre, music, dance, and art appreciation. My substitute Music teacher in High School was Atz Kilcher, but we called him “the Yodeling Man” because he was always yodeling. Now, he’s known as Jewel’s dad.

8. You can fish anywhere and anytime as long as you’ve got a license. Well, that is not entirely true..but there ARE numerous places to fish and you can always find a boat going out…as long as you’re willing to fork over $250 a day per person for the charter.

9. The people are so friendly. This is a true statement…I kid you not. Everyone is so friendly and outgoing – I thought Texans were friendly until I met Homerites – they make Texans look like introverts!

10. Just look at those mountains. Surrounded by mountains on three sides…it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth to live.

{This post originally ran 11/2/06 – thanks for putting up with my leftovers while I’m adjusting to homeschooling!)

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