Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

OK, so I promised I'd read a book this month and tell you all about it. Two things: first I'll confess I waited until the very last minute to complete the book. I finished it today. Secondly, I haven't reviewed a book in years, or perhaps ever, so extend me a little grace please.
The name of the book is what drew me in: "Same Kind of Different as Me." I'm intrigued with the way that God made us all so different, and yet so very much alike. I approached this book with the assumption that it's contents related to that truth. I was right... sort of.  I don't want to give away anything in this one, because I believe it is so worth the read. Through the stories of two of the most unlikely friends this book offers us a glimpse at what it really means to love, forgive, and truly serve. It raises  a few questions: What is wealth really? Do we really believe that every life matters?
Truth is stranger than fiction. This is a true story of wealth, poverty, and relationship. A wealthy white man, and homeless black man become brothers, what do they have in common? Want to find out? Read this one you won't regret it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I can hardly believe it's here. It seems Christmas crept up on me this year. Didn't we just celebrate Veteran's Day like yesterday? Actually, in mind I'm still stuck on September. Thankfully my little people have a way of inspiring the Christmas mood. After much stalling and denial, presents were bought, a meal planned, and I even managed to take a few Christmas pics. I'm no photographer, but since no one will be getting a card from me this year, I thought I'd share. 
It didn't start out so well. The dog wanted to be in every shot. I never realized she was such a diva...

 I did manage to get a few shots without the dog...

But she's very persistent. Eventually it paid off. She got her closeup...

 A very Merry Christmas from my family to yours...Sam, Elle, Buttercup (AKA Puberty, Tantrum and Diva).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The End

What do you do with death?
Last night I attended the memorial service of a very sweet lady. I watched her family stand before the church and receive condolences from those who felt so inclined. I listened as people described her acts of kindness and service. I wondered if she was aware of all the beautiful thoughts people had towards her while she was yet alive. At times during the service my thoughts turned inward. What if it was me? My husband? Am I really appreciating people while they are still here? Hard thoughts. I'm not going to give myself a speedy answer, but I'm thinking. Among my thoughts are:

  1. Death visits everyone.  Sounds simple enough, but how often do we plan for tomorrow, without thought for what today could bring? I'm not saying be paranoid, but live aware.
  2. Perhaps I'll leave a letter or something, but I want to speak at my own funeral.  
  3. I want there to be laughter at my funeral. It doesn't have to be fits of hysteria, but remember me with some smiles. If you really know me, you should have enough material :) 
  4. Please don't show up and act the fool. I'm not dead, my spirit simply relocated. 
  5. Don't mourn my death more than you celebrate my life. This seems a great excuse to have a party, with dancing!
  6. You're probably gonna hear about God at my service. Do me a favor? Listen. If you don't believe, or feel He's a crutch, that's fine. He IS a crutch for me and more. He holds me up. He holds me together. Consider your crutch. Who or what holds you up? Together?
  7. Leave my funeral knowing where YOU will spend eternity. 
I'll admit that this post disclosed more than I anticipated, and yet these are my thoughts. Death is a dominant topic lately. The shootings in Connecticut has left many of us confused and thinking about our own mortality. It's a topic worthy of our considerations. I'm asking a question in the same vein: Please consider the God of your mortality? He's taken the fear and sting out of death, and given us a very real, much needed,  hope.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mail Call

What do you do when you have too much?
Please don't assume I'm asking because I have the perfect answer. I no expert on this topic. I readily admit, I have a strong tendency to hoard papers. I keep letters, notes, and pretty much everything my kids have have ever written, drawn or touch! I also confess, that I hang on to mail (junk or not) way longer than necessary. I mean, so what Papa John's sent you a really good coupon! If you have no plans to use it, then what's the point in keeping it right?
For the past few years I've been working on simplifying and streamlining life. I started by cleaning out my closet.  Literally. I got rid of  my "fat clothes." I got rid of my "someday I'll lose the weight and they'll fit clothes." I even got rid of shoes, (that's a small miracle). I got rid of papers. I got rid of magazines and books. Now don't get the impression I have mastered organizing my home. Wrong. Instead, I've mostly organized my home. The biggest obstacle to overcome? The mail. It keeps coming, and coming. I keep collecting. I bring it in. I wait a few weeks, (months if I'm busy). Then, I'll get sick of it, sort it, and throw it out. I hate this pattern, but it's the one I'm stuck on. What prevents me from throwing it in the trash immediately? I don't know, but I so over it.  I'm in the market for creative ways to organize and deal with mail clutter. If you have any, do share. In the mean time here is what I found:

There were no shortage of ideas to be found. It appears I'm not alone in my mail clutter battle. These seemed easy enough to try. I'll decide on one and give it a try.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Knock Knock and P.S.

Yesterday I visited a beautiful home. It was large home, but it wasn't the size of the house that I found impressive. This home was just so inviting. I'm not easily impressed, especially by things, but there was something about the way things were used in this space. What was even more amazing was, no one at the home knew I was coming. 
Here is what happened: My daughter accepted an invitation to a Christmas party. I took her.  It had been a busy morning. I was running behind, but I packed the kids, and hauled them nearly 40 minutes across town. My daughter used the drive to decorate an ornament gift for the party. So I'm driving, she's painting an ornament, and yes I'm going a little over the speed limit, because we are late for this party, 30 minutes late. I found the home, and dismissed the fact that there were only two vehicles in the driveway. I reasoned that parents sometimes drop their kids off at parties and leave. I went to the door, rang the bell, and a familiar face answered. She's dressed in jogging pants, and a long sleeve shirt. She's clearly not ready for a party, nor is her pajama clad daughter standing behind her. One look at them and I knew I goofed up. Turns out I was actually early for the party, one week early! I showed up at that house on the wrong date! Yet, that sweet lady was gracious enough to let my kiddos have a play date with her daughter anyway. She invited us into her home, despite our impromptu visit. I was amazed. Everything looked so good, so tidy, so prepared. I didn't see the entire home, but I saw a lot of it, including the master bedroom. And FYI, it was stunning!
I couldn't help but think two things: First, my mental calender is subject to glitches, and I need to start writing appointments down. 
Secondly, if someone showed up at my house unannounced would I be able to show them around my home like that? Don't get me wrong, I no slob, but if you showed up at my house tomorrow, somehow I doubt I'll let you in my bedroom. This lady inspired me. She motivated me to always be prepared for strangers, to decorate, and to allow my plans to be interrupted. We had a beautiful, unplanned visit. Turns out it was just what I didn't know I needed. *smiles* 


Remember I told you I was going to start reading again? Well, selecting a book actually took some thought. There are so many that I want to read. The biggest question was, do I want to read something for pleasure, or for knowledge, or both? I decided on this one: 

I'll let you know what I think...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Few Words

You know those commercials where the kid knocks over something and mom is all sweet and smiling and cleans it up with a Brawny paper towel or something? Yeah those. We'll that's not me! I'm that mom that is all snarling, and growling and junk. In fact, if they made a commercial about what happens when one of my kids is in timeout, escapes, and spills a red drink all over the counters and floor, I'd probably be investigated by social services. Despite myself, impatience and all, I've been doing my mommy job the best I know how. It seems my "know how" often falls a bit short. My biggest problem, my mouth! I really trying to change that. Words are powerful, and I'm very sarcastic, VERY sarcastic. Sarcasm is often condescending.  It can communicate thoughts, and ideas that I and do not believe, and wouldn't dream of verbalizing. It might send the message that my kids are inferior, or not intelligent, and worst.
Most parents are wildly protective of their kids. If our children are overtly offended, we'd fight to the death to protect them. Yet we use our words often to send them subtle, and destructive messages. I believe this is the design of our enemy, Satan. He uses their love for us, and our brokenness as humans to communicate lies to our children via our words, and actions. It's not a direct attack by him, it's an inadvertent attack through us. It more damaging, and I believe it to be among the more hurtful things we can do to them. 
There are no perfect parents. I'm not trying to be overly critical of myself or anyone else, just wise with the words I use to my kids. Whether it be a criticism, or sarcasm, the end result should not be a defeated child. Our words should serve. They should edify. I've been challenged this week to use mine wisely. I just thought I'd share what I'm learning with you. I know this won't be easy, in fact that's what I said when I began having this conversation with myself. This is the verse that came to me:
 Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Little by Little

                                                      How do you eat an elephant? 
I have such good intentions. I even made a few lists about them. Turns out I'm an excellent list writer. List follower...that's another topic. Recently, I've been thinking of two list in particular, my bucket/ amen list, and my "nice to do" list. The "nice to do" list is more like a list of good habits I'd like to put in practice. Sadly, both list have been suffering their fair share of neglect. The closing of yet another year has brought them to to forefront of my thoughts. Perhaps it's a good time to edit them.  I don't see myself learning to speak the 5 romance languages any time soon. On the other hand, I did wear a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. Even if it was for a very short time, it has been done. I can cross it out.  I'm not sure what other goals I'll let go, and which ones I'll add. I do know that I have changed since the list was made, so I'm sure the new list will reflect that. Also, more important than writing a list of all the things I want to do, it would be nice to make a list of all the things God has already allowed me to do. It might serve to encourage me, and change my focus a bit. 
I'm the type that tries to do everything, or I do nothing. This will sound silly, but it takes a REAL EFFORT on my part to go slowly. That attitude can be death to an accomplishment. When I'm overwhelmed I respond with either a frenzy of activity, or not at all.  Where the lists are concerned, it's been mostly nothing at all. It's time to change that. I might not be able to do everything, but I can do something. I decided I'll start with my "nice to do list." "Read one book week is a bit ambitious, but once a month I can handle. Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to recommend a book or two by doing so. God willing, I''ll have more on this in a few weeks.
OK, I'm off to eat my elephant, "one bite at a time."  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

Needs are many.
Wants are endless.
Lusts are plenty,
Soul restless.

Distracted by desires,
heart be content.
Absent the ideal,
Life is blessed.

God is my riches.
What could be more?
I'm living Thanksgiving,
Like never before.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day on the couch. I wasn't sick. I didn't lack things to do. I just couldn't motivate myself to get started. Sometime after 3 o'clock, with the day almost done, and the hubby due home any moment, I finally got up and got started. I'm not sure if I was embarrassed by all that needed to be done, or all that I didn't do. Whatever  it was, I had had enough and got started. I'd like to tell you I got everything I wanted to accomplished, that would be a lie. There are consequences to wasting time. What I can tell you is, even though the day began contrary to plans, it ended well. Life is a lot like yesterday. You may not have started out great, or in the way you wanted, but it's not to late to change all of that.  Each new day brings it's own challenges, but it also brings abundant opportunities. I'm not sure how this day will end, or any of the tomorrows God shall give. But it's important to me that I learn from all my yesterdays, make the most of all of my todays, and approach each tomorrow with hope. Life is a good, not because of our circumstances, but because as long as we are here we have the luxury of time. Yesterday was just a reminder to use time wisely. Lesson learned. On it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Challenge

Yesterday I did NOT want to go to church, which is precisely why I went. I've found that on the days     I don't feel like going, it does me the most good to go. I was not wrong. The message was interesting. I haven't been able to get it out of my head. It was about the power of complaining. We were challenged to go one month-no complaints! I have to admit my first thought was, "this is no challenge for me." I tend to be more internal with my junk, so the whining/complaining thing didn't phase me, well not until later. I got to thinking more about it and realized, I'm more of a baby than I acknowledge. Maybe I don't whine, but I do critique, correct and....ahem...nag. Apparently my family knows it well. Too well. The hubby and kiddo were smiling, giggling and throwing knowing glances my way. After NOT much thought, I concluded that they were absolutely right. 
I'm going to do this. Challenge on! In the month when we celebrate being grateful, this seems a fitting undertaking. The preacher's point: "it's hard be thankful one day of the year, when you spend the whole year complaining." He wasn't talking solely about imposing self control on the tongue. He was encouraging a change of focus. It was a call to turn from self, and all the ways I'm offended (not getting my way) to the only one great enough to put me in my place, God. Yesterday I barely made it out of church before I noticed that I was doing it again, complaining.  Hmmm... one month huh? This is gonna be a long, rough one.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Burpee Update

Confession time ya'll; the burpees workout was torture! First of all, who came up with burpees anyway? Must have been some kind of twisted. I goggled it. Ha ha. Turns out he was an engineer by trade, and discovered it while picking plumbs. Come again? Anyway thanks to Mr Burpee (and a certain brother) I spent Monday evening torturing myself. 
I normally wake up early in the morning, and get a workout in, really early. Instead I woke up late, and stalled the whole day. I finally caved, and decided to face the music right before I needed to take my daughter to her extra curricula activities.  With only 30 minutes to spare, I comforted myself with the thought that at least the session wouldn't be a long one. Believe me when I tell you, it was long enough. I didn't do plain burpees. I did a challenging version, a burpee with a pushup. Turns out I couldn't do more 15-17 burpees at a time. I didn't like doing them modified, but I tried that. I concluded that I rather do less of them all the way, than more of them modified. I did a bunch of sets, ranging from 10-15 per set. I probably did about 12-15 sets. I did NOT do much in between sets. I rested as needed. It took about 20-25 minutes to complete. By the end, my heart felt like it was going to leave my chest. 
Yesterday morning much to my surprise my upper body was not sore, but my lower body was a little sore. That surprised me because, my lower body has always been stronger than the upper. I also found that the burpee workout fatigued me more than anticipated, and I struggled through my routine Tuesday morning. I did the burpee workout again this morning. It was the same. I tried to do 150 of them. It took me longer than I care to admit. I threw in a few sets of pushups, and ended with a short set of interval jumping jacks. I'll see how I feel by the end of the day. I'm humbled by how far I have to go, and super motivated. See you on the ripped side :)

Monday, October 29, 2012


Over the past decade I've invested a lot of time in working out. Too much time. My life now is such, that I cannot invest that same amount of time , and frankly, it's hard to find the energy. To counter this I've been doing smaller, more intense blocks of training. I wouldn't call myself a fitness fanatic, but I'd be lying if I pretended, I could take it or leave it. I must have it. Before you begin to think, "wow she's so disciplined" let me just say it has little to do with discipline, and more to do with the way I feel after the workout. I can tell you now that "runners high" (workout high for that matter) is OH so real. Endorphins are amazing. Plus, it is a sure fire way to relieve stress. My body craves it.  It's to the point where if I'm having a cranky day, the husband says "why don't you go for a run, or go workout?" My practice has been to take a week off a few times a year, but usually by the end of that week (if I make it the whole week) I'm chomping at the bits, and ready to get back in a routine. I think it's such a blessing to be in good health and strength. It would be a shame not to use it. 
Healthy habits does not extend to all areas of my life. I eat like a horse! I love food. Good and bad. I was raised working very hard. People ate fish fried in lard with a huge plate of peas and rice. They had no thought of carbs or fat. And before you get to thinking "what an unhealthy lifestyle," my grandma is well in her 90's.  She rode a bike till she was in her 80's, and she ate that way all the while. I still have much of that island mindset.  There is no thought for what you eat, as long as you work hard. But my life doesn't afford me the opportunity to work that hard, instead I WORKOUT hard, and try to watch what I eat.

I've been doing better. I'm trying to make it more of a practice, in addition to working out, eating healthy.  I want to be fit when I'm older, God willing. I don't want to be struggling with nutrition and weight issues later in life. The time to act on those goals is now. 
I think it's safe to say I've got the workout thing licked, but I'm always up for a new challenge. I recently got one. It came from my youngest brother. Let me just say it here: He's a fitness freak! He enjoys the torture of it. So it comes as no surprise that when I mentioned shaking up my workouts a bit, he'd have a handbook of suggestions. And he threw at me the one I hate the most. Burpees.  Effective? Yes. Torture? Absolutely! His suggestion: I add a set workout to my routine a few times a week. That that routine should include (get this) " afew sets" of burpees. And just so you know, a set by his definition is 50!!!!
OK first, as much as love to workout, I HATE burpees!!!!! Secondly I can't do 50 of them. My heart  feels ready to explode at 15-20. If I could make it through 50 of them, I certainly wouldn't be able to include sets of jumping jacks, or jump squats and the other crazy stuff he suggested ( I forgot what all he suggested. I tuned him out after he said the "b"word). And "I certainly wouldn't be able to repeat that cycle more than ONCE!!!!!!!!!!!" Do you know what he said when I mentioned that. He said, very matter-of-factly " well you'll probably feel like you're gonna puke, or you will puke, but it's effective." After mulling it over for a week. I decided to accept his burpee challenge. I had previously challenged myself to do 100 pushups, so I think the two routines will support each other nicely  And that is why I'm sitting here typing such a long post. I'm kinda scared, and I'm stalling....I usually keep the workout talk to myself. I've learned that people get the impression you're a fanatic, if you are exerting energy into any exercise that's more strenuous than walking.  But I had to share this with somebody. I'll let you know how it goes. 
If I can make it through this I'll be pumped, figuratively and literally. And I'll tell you this, if I'm gonna work this hard no way I'm I going to be eating everything in site.  There's gonna have to be more healthy eating going on around these parts.
OK, no more stalling.....wish me luck!
Just so you know what a burpee is, see below. Yes I'm still stalling....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Be Cool

Recently I've been thinking, I would love to have a bit more "manittude." I would like the ability to dismiss the non essentials like a lot of men do. My husband is such a dude in that way. He decides what's a problem for him. No one else does. I find that I'm much more reactive. Someone does something offensive, and naturally I'm offended. My husband's reaction; someone does something offensive, and he's not moved one way or the other, UNLESS he deems it a worthy cause. I've been watching him for years, and those "worthy causes" are few and far between.  It's not that he doesn't care, but more that he's intentional about what's worth his time, and energy. He seems almost immune to dramatic episodes. He does have a weak spot though, traffic. Crazy drivers have the ability to set him off like nothing else. Sill I find myself admiring his calm...
I'd like to think his levelheadedness rubbing off on me a bit, but today I find myself recovering from yet another episode of "the sweating of the small stuff." I'll tell you what, growing up female is hard to do. I think someone should make a movie called, "When Estrogen Attacks." Good look balancing the tragedy and the comedy of it all!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Muppet Show - Mahna Mahna...m HD 720p bacco... Original!

A while back I mentioned "Cracker Jacks." To my surprise, the eldest kid responded with a "what's that?" Seriously! I'ts bad enough, that she has to listen to subpar music, but subpar snacks too? I draw the line! We've been reliving old shows, music and food. She's experiencing some of the same junk I ate growing up. She enjoyed Ramen Noodles, and wanted to know "how long have you known about this?"
Cracker Jacks were a bit of a let down. She thought the prize was lame, and felt sorry for me. I'll grant her that. The prizes were not the best, but at the time, they sure seemed like it.
This week I introduced more music from childhood. Here we found common ground. We've been singing this tune all week. All of us, even the hubby and the baby (she says "numa num num") but we know what she means. Super cute!
If you watched the presidential debate last night I thought you might find that this tune especially meaningful. I happen to think it sums it all up our political climate perfectly. Don't be surprised if the next time you see a certain governor or president on TV, you start thinking about this one. Enjoy :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On my  Mind and out my Mouth

This evening finds me exhausted. Last week was very busy. The weekend (which was supposed to be a time to unwind) was also busy.  I'm beginning to hate the word busy. I decided that instead of a predetermined topic, or trying to catch you up on all that's been going on in my life, I'll just tell you whatever came to mind. Sounds simple enough, but my mind at the moment is a jumbled mess. At this very moment in my head, I'm  throwing around schedules, to do lists, chores, and teaching responsibilities. I'm replaying awkward conversations, evaluating discussions, an a relationship. I'm also trying to decide whether I'm really hungry, or if I've had enough food for the day. What's the next step in life is a question that hardly takes a break, and I'm I seriously getting cold? I'm wondering why God don't just speak audibly, and LOUDLY on every single issue, EVER! That way, all can hear it simultaneously, and there be no need for religious divisions, and oh yeah, did I mention I'm thinking about food? What's on your mind?
I think I'll go grab a bite to eat.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Question For ya...

What's the one thing you cannot live without?  For years now I keep coming back to the same answer.  It's the inspiration behind this one:


It's that beat of the heart.
It's that twinkle in the eye.
It's that thread of confidence.
It's that reassuring still, small voice that says:
Be at ease, all is well, though reality screams otherwise.
It is that conviction that your desires, and dreams are not merely possible, but inevitable.
It's that force that makes you try, and try, though experience has taught you cruel and contrary lessons,
Hope is the jewel of the soul.

Friday, September 28, 2012

In Some Countries Posting This Could Get me Killed

I woke up this morning thinking about life's little messes. I opened my inbox and found the Voice of the Martyrs update. We'd like to think that martyrdom is a thing of the past. Sadly, it's not. In 2012, despite our ignorance of it, there are still people who are beaten imprisoned, and killed daily for their beliefs. I'm grateful that I live in a country where I can worship in the religion of my  choice. Today is a good day to pray for those who do not. 
My problems are SO small compared to this:

Uzbe-k Pastor Facing Extradition
Sources: VOM Canada, Forum 18 News

Revelation 2:10

An Uzbek pastor who fled Uzbekistan in 2007 has been arrested in Kazakhstan and faces extradition to his home country on charges of illegally teaching religion and distributing literature. Makset Djabbarbergenov, whose wife is expecting their fifth child, was arrested after police held his sister-in-law for two weeks in an effort to discover his whereabouts. The 32-year-old pastor faces up to three years in prison on each charge. A court in Kazakhstan has ordered that Makset be detained until the General Prosecutor’s Office decides whether to extradite him to Uzbekistan. Please pray that Makset will not be turned over to Uzbek authorities. Pray that his growing family will not be fearful but will continue to trust God.

Laos--Five Christian Leaders Arrested
Source: VOM Contacts

Psalm 69:33

On Sept. 11, three Laotian pastors and two other Christian leaders were arrested by district police. The three pastors were bound with chains and sent to the Phin distric prison, while the two others were turned over to provincial leaders and released two days later. The three pastors are enduring harsh conditions in prison -- all remain in handcuffs and one is in stocks, bound by the ankles. District police have visited the pastors’ homes and churches, asking members where their churches obtain funds, why they became Christians and whom the pastors have led to Christ. All three pastors remain in prison, and two are seriously ill. Pray that God will grant these pastors strength and endurance. Pray that authorities will provide them with needed medical treatment.

North Africa
VOM Project

Pray for a team of teachers working in a "Mobile Bible School." The teachers travel across the country in a van, 

teaching in underground Bible schools.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

    36 Birthdays

    Ever notice how easy it is to say that God can do whatever He wants, that is until he decides to do whatever He wants with you? At that point we become a little less thrilled with the idea. I'm majorly guilty of this one. I'd like to believe I'm a woman of faith, but truth is, I have a plan, and faith is usually in opposition to that plan whatever it may be. Oh, I want God to work in my life, but there are times I wish He'd seek my opinion/ approval first. Yes I said that. It's the truth. I've been trying to resign as my commander and chief and place that leadership into more capable hands, but the words come easy, and at times the action seems nearly impossible. *Sigh*
What's a girl to do? God will except no less than total surrender, and in certain areas I'm guilty of offering no more than partial. Isn't "partial surrender" an oxymoron? Anyway, it's the age old battle of a man (woman) versus pride. Truth is, we like being gods of our own little world. We have the power there (or so we think) and it feels safe to control something. To place all things in hands not your own, is the epitome of submission. It's uncertain, it feels unsafe, and it is downright scary.
    On Monday I had a birthday. Of all the birthdays I've looked forward to, eighteen was the most anticipated. This week I celebrated my 36th birthday. It occurred to my that my 18th birthday was 18 years ago. Legally, I've been an adult, longer than I've been a child. It's the kind of weird realization that leaves you looking over, and examining you life's work. What have you done with your 18 years of freedom? I wish I could say that I started a charity, wrote a book, learned a few languages, the kind of stuff on my bucket list. Instead, I've lived a very quiet life. Outside of God, my family, and a few friends (not the Facebook kind) hardly anyone knows I'm here. If I died today there probably won't be a long line of mourners. I'm not trying to be critical of my life, just honest. I'm not looking back with regrets either. There are quite a few things in my life that I could have done differently. But for the most part I tried. I feel OK with that. The one thing I regret most, is not being completely surrendered to the God I claim I believe in. I look back and I see that my history with Him is inconsistent. Sometimes I walking with Him, at other times I'm skipping off in a totally different direction. For however much more time God gives me, I'd like to spend it in obedience to Him. That means I'm dethroning myself. I'm no longer god in my own little world. I'd really like to look back 18 years years from now, and see what He does with a totally surrendered life. 
I guess if you want to find out what He does, you'll have to follow me for the next 18 years God willing. I look forward to talking to you more about this then... :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine

So it's not the music of my generation, but I love "the blues." It almost seems impossible to pick a favorite artist in that category. I don't know who inspired this song, but I'd like to take a moment to thank her: Whoever you are, I don't know what ya did to this man, or why ya did it, but girl thank you because he is singing from the gut right there! I love this song :) Wonder if I can get the hubby to sing like that...Nahh..

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Ya'll Want This Party Started ....Right"

OK, it's Friday night, and I have nothing on my agenda. Nada. I intend to watch a movie (from the comfort of my couch) and sleep in tomorrow God willing. You' d think I'd be embarrassed to admit how boring my Friday night plans are. So NOT embarrassed. I'm smiling like a Cheshire cat right now. I'm so in love with my low key night, I decided to tell you all about. I don't know where you are, what you are doing, or what you have planned, but I sure hope you have as much fun as I intend to tonight. Happy Friday Ya'll :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Keep It Simple

Life has been coming at me really fast. There is so much I need to do. There is little time for me. I decided an earlier wake up call might help. I started waking up before the rooster. It has only helped a little. I took it a step further, and began scheduling most aspects of my day. That has helped even more. I have to confess though, keeping up with the schedule has been a chore in itself. I can't win. I have so much I need to do, the things that I want to do, appear to be a luxury. It's overwhelming.  That's exactly how I felt, overwhelmed.
And then it happened, a break. On Tuesday, around lunchtime, I stumbled (more like tripped and fell) upon some much needed free time. I sat down, and had lunch. Alone. It wasn't a grab and go,shove it in your face,when you are on the run, kinda of lunch. It was a, prepare it, sit down, and eat with both hands (a fork if you choose) kind of lunch. In case you are curious, it was black bean burritos, and they were delicious. Did I mention I did this alone? I was so thrilled with anticipation over having a quiet mommy meal, I got all excited, and kept interrupting myself! Yep, it can be done. I made lunch, I sat at the table, I realized I forgot my drink. I get up, get drink. I sat down, and realized I forgot a fork.  I get up, get fork. I sat down,and  realized I forgot napkins (who eats burritos without napkins right). I got up, get napkins, sat down, and thought, "what a great time to do something you enjoy, like skim through a magazine." I got up, and got a magazine.  Repeat this cycle, and so went my quiet lunch. Somewhere in the middle of the trips to and from the dinner table,  there were a few moments to just be still. During one of those moments, I had this thought: "The best things in life are better than free. THEY ARE SIMPLE." I was enjoying one of them at that moment. I experienced a few of them this week, a giggling baby, a spouse that is truly a partner, and best friend, a "mommy you're the best" comment, a few hours with friends, a weird flower you've never seen before, people that love you enough to be honest with you, and so much more. Yes, I had a busy week, but it was a beautiful week. It was made so by all the simple things that one can easily take for granted. I'm grateful that this week, I didn't. I was literally reminded to stop and "smell the roses" well flowers, and that simple things can be treasures.

Friday, September 7, 2012

One Thing Remains - Jesus Culture (lyric video)

I have to confess; being a christian used to be a bit rough on me. I'm a music junkie. A while back it seemed  like a lot of religious music was...let's just say it wasn't quite doing it for me. I'm not throwing stones at the christian music industry, but the islander in me need something with a, beat, heat, an edge, an attitude. That was what Christian music was years ago. This is what it is now, it is praise with a passion. It is powerful. It's a reason to fall  in love with the stereo system in my car...again.  I enjoy my drive to anywhere. I get in my car and my radio is on blast! I'm sure someone looking from the outside can't imagine that, so much head banging, and movement could be induced by worship, but I assure you, it is. There is so much happening in the world of worship music, and I am so happy to share it, and to hear it, literally.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Good Fight

I took a stand today
Guilt no more for me.
I fought pity today,
I like this feeling, free.
I'm stronger than I know,
God dismissed all doubt.
I opened a door of grace,
And let old grudges out.
Worry has no home here.
Confidence take your throne.
There goes my frustration,
Anger leave me alone!
I said goodbye to flawed expectations.
I traded pain for peace.
I acknowledged my weaknesses,
And found I was released.
Humility tamed pride.
Contentment replaced lust.
I lept of the ledge of secrecy,
And took a chance on trust.
Bitterness bowed to forgiveness.
Hurt welcomed healing.
I accepted love, I gave it.
Excuses no longer justification,
I am a soldier, obsessed with my mission,
Search and destroy whatever threatens my joy.
I fight. I battle. I war,
Sometimes afraid, always relentless.
I've engaged the emeny without,
And prevailed to a degree,
Using all courage to confront,
My greatest adversary, me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The American Decision: Part Two


Thursday came an went without much fanfare. The location of the swearing in ceremony was a little more than an hour from our home. On the drive there I threw myself a private anxiety party. We arrived to a packed federal building. I was not thrilled about our position as one of the last ones in a  ridiculously long line. It took about thirty minutes before I was processed, and to able to grab a seat. Somewhere between the line to be searched, and the line to be processed, and seated most of the angst left. Oddly what replaced it was humor, more like sheer hilarity. Unfortunately, that humor came during the most somber part of what was supposed to be a very solemn ceremony. We were seated in a predetermined order. That order meant that I'd have an Hispanic (don't remember his country of origin) gentleman on my left, and a Chinese gentleman to my right. These two guys (not purposely) kept me suppressing a belly laugh and in an excellent mood the majority of the time. At the commencement of the ceremony, the moderator explained the process of the one hour or less occasion. It included a roll call of countries. The individuals who represented each country would stand as their nation was announced. Turns out, the Bahamas was the first country to be called. I stood first. Shortly after followed the singing of the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, and the actual oath that makes you an American. The giggles, and Cheshire cat like smiles started at the National anthem, and never stopped. The Chinese gentlemen's version of The Star Spangled Banner sounded exactly like the musical styling of William Hung from American Idol. The Hispanic gentleman had a very heavy accent, and was exactly one line behind everyone else during the entire reading of Oath of Allegiance. You're probably thinking, shame on me for finding these things funny, but until you've survive the singing of "Proud to be an American" by 65 non Americans, in various accents, don't judge! I would love to tell you some deep thing I learned that day. If I did it would be a lie. The ceremony was quick, and respectful. When it was over we chatted with a few former Bahamians, and left for home. We stopped at a restaurant, ate a great meal, and enjoyed some time together as a family. In the end that's why I made this decision, as much as I love my homeland, my life is here, with my family. I'm sure someday I'll wax philosophical about how it feels to be caught between to countries.  But for now, I'm smiling at a life changing day which included, a William Hung inspired national anthem, meeting a few countrymen, and great food and FAMILY. The icing on cake? Eliana, (my one year old) ran to me afterwards, and gave me the biggest tightest hug. It's as if she knew, something important just happened, mommy is now one of us.

In case some of you haven't seen or heard him, watch William Hung his do his "thang"...


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I want you to meet brown sugar meatloaf, gnocchi in fontina sauce, baked sweet potatoes with ginger and honey, apple pie by grandma Ople,  and white chocolate cherry pecan cheesecake. There is more, 467 more recipes that I've tried, or saved at one of my favorite sites.



YET??? is the best thing to happen to my kitchen in years. If you are tired of chowing on the same old, same old checkout this site. I credit it with inspiring me to revive the Sunday meal tradition in our home. The site is thorough, with tons of recipes, step by step instructions, photos, videos, even reviews, and tips from fellow foodies. There something there for everyone. I love it. 
Take a minute to stop by plan, and a special meal for a few or your favorite people.
Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The American Decision : Part One

I love being a citizen of the Bahamas. I feel privileged to have grown up there. It's refreshing. The history is amazing. The culture is rich. The people are extraordinary. They are colorful. They are confident. It's been an absolute honor to be numbered among them. For 35 years when asked, "what's your nationality?" I've derived great pride, and pleasure in the response: "I'm Bahamian." The decision I made earlier this year, began a process that will forever change the way I answer that question.
In April I finally decided to apply for United States citizenship. In the past four, and a half months I've had several appointments with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) concerning this decision. The most recent occurred on Thursday. It was step three in a minimum, four step process. At this appointment, you are interviewed, and tested on American history, government, and civics. There is also a reading/writing portion to the exam. In advance of this appointment you are given a booklet containing a hundred possible questions, and the answers. Of those hundred questions you'll be asked ten questions, of the examiners choosing. You must answer six of them correctly to pass. The reading section turned out to be easy as reading a single, simple sentence. By simple I do mean simple, a subject, a verb, and an adjective. The writing portion was more of the same. It consisted of writing a single elementary school sentence, five words in all.
The interview portion is only tricky, if you are a criminal. They pretty much ask the same questions, repeatedly. They change the wording each time, in hopes you'd divulge something incriminating. If you were exhausted, or super nervous you could get tripped up, but if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.  Really by the time you've made it to this stage in the naturalization process, it's all downhill. They've done all the background checks etc, They know who you are. HA! They probably know your DNA structure by then.
 On Thursday I walked into that office, and took the test. I sat through the interview amazed by the ease of it all. My interviewer was very gracious. As it turns out, he and his wife have six kids. They homeschool them all.  This homeschooling mommy felt an instant conection. I would have loved the appointment to last longer. I wanted to hear more of his experiences with homeschooling. But alas, my interview was done. "Cool immigration dude" had to go back to work. More immigrants awaited their interviews. I was informed that I passed, and was ushered back to the waiting room, to await further instructions. I stepped back into waiting, area, and looked over the crowd.  It occured to me that this is the last time I would be numbered among them, the immigrants, the foreigners in this land. USCIS is the one place you can go (besides the airport) to get a cultural fill. There are people from every continent, and corner of the globe represented there. It's a surprise every time. You never know what countries will be reflected there on a given day. As frustrating as the process can be, this was a highlight to me. I can't define why it's so easy to interact with people there. Perhaps it's a mutual appreciation for a shared experience. Whatever the reason, you feel oddly at home in the one place designed to address the fact that you are not at home. As I closed the door behind me, from across the room came a question, this time in an African accent.  I had heard it asked to those before me, "Did you pass?" I paused to respond, "yes." As though rehearsed cheers went up all over the room. Congratulations in all accents, nods, and genuine smiles of support everywhere. I felt strangely at home among this foreign family. I found a seat, and passed the time chatting to a Liberian couple. Shortly, an immigration officer came out. She called my name, and gave me a letter with information concerning my final appointment. This is the last step in this process. Turns out it was scheduled a week later, this coming Thursday.  God willing, on that day I'll be a sworn citizen of the United States of America. As the time approaches so does the realization, of the magnitude, of my decision. I don't know what the future holds for me as an American.  This I do know: I will FOREVER be grateful for the nearly 36 years I've spent being a Bahamian. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Don't Give Up The Fight"

It was summer break. My middle sister and I had been fighting. She always been a feisty one. We had a summer war going. My sister was little, under five feet  tall. She's been that size since she was about ten, and she's still just so at nearly forty. Anyhow, growing up she had a huge Napoleon complex. She'd pick a fight with anyone, age, size, sex, didn't matter. My eldest siblings survived her somehow, but by the time she got to me, it was out of control. She was relentless.  I'm guessing me being younger, and she being older, she assumed that entitled her to kick my behind at will. I disagreed with that theory. I was about her size (at three yrs younger) but I was much stronger. That summer we had several physical fights before my grandmother  intervened, island style.  She warned us both, "I don't care who starts it. The next time I catch you two fighting, I'm going to fetch, and give you both a switch, and you can both wail (she used an island term) on each other. The first person who cries, will have to face me, and a switch of my own. Remember, I don't care who started it, but I'm gonna finish it."  By "wail on" she meant beat the snot out of. I wanted no part of that. Now you'd think that warning was enough to scare my sister. She'd never won a fight against me, or anyone else for that matter. Picking a fight with a sibling that's sure to pummel you, is insane! What's worst is, having to face my grandmother after the fact. She's was no joke! But, true to form, and hardly a day later, here comes my sister ready to fight. I don't remember the exact action that started it, what I do remember is, before I knew it we were throwing blows for the "upteenth" time that summer. Grammy, true to her word, saw the fight, and quickly produced two tamarind switches. For the sake of this story, I will tell you  that a tamarind switch is from tamarind tree. They don't break. Ever. She gave us each one, and just as though she was beginning a race,  she said "go!" I remember thinking, "I don't care how much this hurts, I WILL NOT cry."  At the time, that thought was a departure from strategy. I had figured out early on that crying, got me out of, or significantly lessen impending trouble. Crying quickly became a part of my play book, but not this time. I knew that this time if I cried, I'd put myself in a worst position.  I was taking swats that hurt like the dickens, but I was determined to give ones that hurt even more. Remember how I said I was stronger than my sis? It sure didn't feel like it, but whatever strength had I used. I put every bit of power I possessed into the whacks I was delivering. I wanted to cry, but she actually DID cry. As soon as she did, it was over. Grammy grabbed her, and I was free to go. Lets just say she got dealt with. 
I wish I could tell you that we never fought after that, that would be a lie. My sister being who she is, and me being who I am, have fought of since. I will tell you this, our fights have been few, and far between, but to date, they have never been in the presence of Grammy.
Today I was reminded  of the best fights, and friends you'll ever have, siblings, family. They've taught me the art of love, and conflict. It's a vital, and invaluable lesson. I'm grateful. Perhaps some will find this story a bit cruel. I'll admit that the Bahamas we do things differently. It's a different place, and that was a different time. To me it wasn't cruel it was guided instruction. That day I learned, there are times when you should fight like your life depends on it. I learned that present pain isn't always the whole story. I learned that you can endure more think, and I learned that Sarah Knowles is a woman of her word!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Say it Ain't So!

One of the hardest things I've learned as an adult is, to allow people to leave, with the same opinion, I met them with. A verbal argument does not always change minds. Often, it's a waste of time. A person has to be in a position to receive what you are saying, or your words are pointless. I cannot tell you that I am an expert on this one, but I've come a "mighty long way."

Several years ago, a friend told me that I was "girly and feminine."  There is nothing wrong with being girly or feminine, but at the time, I assure you, I was neither. In fact that comment proved to be a REALLY good laugh for my husband. At the time, one of my favorite pass times was an insane "dude type" workout (still is). I wore nothing frilly, or laced. The only thing I owned in pink was my tongue, which I held rather nicely, because back then (for a host of reasons) those were fighting words. I easily brushed off her comment, reasoning that perhaps, I was showing her something, I wasn't showing to anyone else.
 Another friend, implied I was competitive. This comment wasn't so easily brushed off. I mostly dislike competition. A competitive nature, left unchecked, gives root to some pretty ugly things, including jealously. The perception, I was competitive was unflattering. I was curious where she got it. I never competed against her, in ANYTHING! Outside of my family, I don't even play board games with others. I'll compete with the hubby, because with Ken, it's all trash talk, fun, games, and no hard feelings. It's a safe place. Outside of that, my greatest competition has always been me. I've literally, played games, and tried to beat myself. Perhaps that is where she got that idea. Sometimes striving to do your best, could be interpreted as competition, not directly, but indirectly. Those watching cannot tell, that in my mind, for better or worse, my only real opponent has always been, me. I believe, to compete with someone, would mean I acknowledge them as some sort of standard for me. No such human exist. I've learned, that the only motivation worth having, is an honest one. To desire to excel solely because someone is, is to be controlled. On the flip-side, not to excel, or to deny an interest/  ability in something, because someone else likes, or dislikes a thing, is also to be controlled. I try to evaluate my motivation in all things. It's my idea "an honest living." The thought that I could be perceived as otherwise motivated, did not sit well with me. 
Now while I'm not competitive, it's absolutely fair to say I am defensive. I was very capable of explaining to her how, and why she's wrong. For whatever reason, I didn't. She formulated that opinion. It was her's to keep. It's enough that I know, who I am. Besides, even though the two are not the same, it's hard to be defensive, and not be perceived as competitive. I think they might be cousins or something. An argument would have served only, to bolster her point. Times like that, has led me to where I am now. There is no need to bicker. If ever placed in a position, where you have to defend yourself, or a belief, first define the argument. What's the contention really about? Do you have a God given, honest opinion? What is it?  Is it worth sharing, or is it a waste of time?  State plainly what you believe, and move on. 
  For many, this is an easy practice. It took me years to learn. I'm wired with the desire to correct. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I just needed to learn how to use it. There is a time, and a place. Outside of the proper environment, it's a waste of time, and can even be harmful. It's God responsibility to teach everyone, not mine. He'll get the message He wants, to the person He wants, at the proper time. I can relax and leave the impartation of all truth to Him. I gotta tell ya, I've had a lot less work to do in the last few years. I like it  :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

That is the Question : Part Two

So I thought I'd update you after my last post. Questions are still swirling around in my head. There are still NO definite answers. I think these are Spirit led inquiries, and when God ask a question, He's not doing it to get an answer. He knows all the answers already. I believe His questions are self-checks, an assessment really. It calls us to search, and explore our own lives. It shines a direct light on what we believe, or think we believe, and draws attention to the truth, or lie of it. I have been slow to answer God's questions. I'm mostly tempted to ask Him to give me the answer He wants to hear.  In fact a couple days ago I did that, in a round about way. I asked Him a question of my own: "God are the things that I'm doing worth it, do they really matter? So far He hasn't answered with a yes or no, but this morning I woke up to sort of an answer... I was reading a passage that talked about "a double minded man being unstable in all his ways." You can find it in James 1:8. It hit me hard. Truth is, I am double minded. I would never have described myself that way, but the evidence suggest otherwise. How can you live for God and be double minded? You can't. 
You want to loose weight, but you want to eat whatever, and not workout. Double minded.
You want to achieve all you've dreamed of, but you don't want to risk all you have. Double minded.
You want to be a good parent, but dismiss the interests of your children. Double minded.
You want to be financially able, but you spend more than you save. Double minded.
You want to walk with God, but retain control. Double minded.
In whatever area you want, but you do not FULLY commit, you are double minded. 
In whatever area you are double minded you are unstable. In whatever area you are unstable there will be failure. You will suffer a loss. A lot of us have jobs. Why? We can relate to the importance of being stable financially, but do we grasp the magnitude of stability in other areas? You'd think it unwise to buy a house, but only clean, and maintain the kitchen, or a bathroom. Why then, do we leave some areas of lives to pan out how it will?  Has instability in any area ever produce reliable, or desired results?  Reminds me of the a song we sung as children. It was about a foolish man who built a house upon the sand, and wise man who built his house upon a rock. The results being a continuation, and stability for the wise, but instability, and total destruction for the fool. It's a great example of integrity in a decision.      
Back to me: I've taken pride in being a woman of my word. Perhaps that's the first problem, pride. I seem to remember reading somewhere that "pride goeth before a fall." I'd so like to believe that I always do the things I say, but God knows the truth. I say a lot. I intend a lot. I purpose to do a lot, in my life, and in relationship to Him, that doesn't get done. It happens in small decisions, and big ones. I might even start out great, but eventually I'm pulled away. I'm double minded. 
What does all of this mean? I HAVE NO IDEA!!! I only know what He's been showing me: Without Him I can do nothing. Sure, I can say a lot. I can intend a lot. I can purpose a lot, but I can achieve NOTHING! He's been reminding me to "commit my ways to Him (all of them) and to trust in Him. He will place in me desires. He will fill my "to do list", and He will bring those things to pass.
The journey continues...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"THAT, is the Question"

You can blame the following post on me being in my thirties, specifically being my late thirties. It has brought way more self reflection, and examination than I'm normally comfortable with. I tend to take introspection in small doses. I've equated it with work, and frankly I'm doing enough as it is! This question came to mind lately: What is life about? If you are expecting me to attempt an answer, you'd be wrong. Greater minds than mine have covered this one, yet the conversation continues. It seems an endless, generational discussion. No one answer will do. For some the answer is family, relationships, enjoyment, following your heart, whatever. I will confess that none of those answers completely satisfies me either. Just as I began to work on defining this question for myself, another popped up. Lucky me. I'll admit that this one required my immediate attention. What is MY life about? More importantly, is it evident?  Again I'm not giving answers here, I'm searching for a few myself.
I just thought it might be interesting to ask you; what your life was about, and are you sure that you are living in accordance to the answer of that question?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Random Thoughts

1. I've been up for the last four hours. I've been watching the recent shootings at the movie theater in Aurora CO. Sad. I feel for the family of the victims. This is life changing. I wonder about the kind of world I leaving my kids to face. 

2. I was NOT feeling my workout program at all this week! Sure, I made a few attempts at it, but all I could seem to bring to it was old lady energy.

3. A few years ago I bought my eldest a large collection of Nancy Drew books. After years of having them, she's out grown the books, but I noticed that she hadn't read them. I asked why? "Mom, those books are so feminine, and so girly, that after I got done reading one, I felt like I needed a shower to wash the girliness of me! They're super dorky too!" I confess, when I was a kid, I never got into Nancy Drew. Not my thing.  I will admit though, this did give me an idea of what to use to punish her *cue evil laugh* 

4. Contact paper, shelf paper, blackberry bushes, Virginia Creeper,
Poison Ivy, and infomercials joined a growing list of thing that I hate!

5. My husband cracks me up. He is truly perplexed by men who would dare shave their chest hair. To him, body hair equals manliness.

6. Back to the workout thing:  If workout were more like sex, a bit more instantly gratifying, maybe people would (no pun intended) "do it" more. Oh don't be such a prude! You know, you'd probably workout more too!

7. I decided to complete my first novel. I'm only putting that out there, because there is less of a chance of me weaseling out if, I confess it to someone. Usually, I keep my writing to myself, but then usually, I don't do anything with it either, so maybe telling you guys will add a little added pressure.

8. Elle has been doing something very interesting lately. On her adventures around the house and yard, she'll pick up two items. Both of them I object to. One of which, I object to more vehemently than the other. When caught, and before I can yell "no!" She'll present me with the most objectionable item, but keep the other. If I'm not careful, the relief of immediate danger, dispelled by the surrendered item causes me to forget, that she has another dangerous item. At first I thought this was a sheer coincidence. She's too young to know what she's doing. But she's done the same thing about 3/4  times now, so I'm not so sure...

9. I'm thinking about inexpensive, but meaningful gift ideas in advance of Christmas. Ideas welcomed

10. Confession: I'm nearly 36yrs old, and I still daydream. Nope. I'm not gonna tell you what about, only that I still do it, and I like it. Yep, I try to keep it Philippians 4:8ish

 My blessings outweigh my burdens. I will focus on them, and I will have a great day! I hope that you determine, despite all your "whatevers" you will have a great day too. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Matt Redman - 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) +Lyrics

"Sing like Never Before"

I sometimes think, if you want to get a message to me, sing it. Music moves me, and in more than one way. Whether, it's been laughter, or tears, or dance, or even anger, there has always been a piece of music that captured my mood. It's almost as if I can express my life in songs. It would certainly be an interseting project to write a sound track for my life. Despite all the tunes in my head, the ones that move me most, are the ones that lead me to worship. Worship is the motivation of my entire existence. I want every action to bring God praise. The following song does just that, it drives me to praise. It's been playing in my head for months, just thought I'd share it with you. I hope as you listen, it refocuses you, and leaves you with heart, and hands lifted high...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The First Fruits Vegetables of My Labor: This Year's Garden.

Island life spoiled me rotten! It made a gardener out of me. When you grow up, as I did, literally surrounded by hundreds of fruit trees, nut trees, vegetable plants, and herbs, it leaves a lasting impression. To this day, I associate summer with mangoes, and genips. I knew, very early, that no matter where life took me, I'd be gardening in some form. I'm determined that my kids, on some level, experience, the treat of eating of the land they occupy. Much of what we've planted this season is not ready yet, but  this is, this years garden:

 FYI: vegetable baskets make great gifts, and goody bags too!
 This zucchini was nearly a foot long. I had to get a shot. 

 I'm terrible about spacing. I always plant to close,
 but thankfully, it's hard to mess this up. No expertise needed.

My husband recently reminded me that, "we're blessed to live in a country where you can just drop stuff in the ground, and it grows." There are places in the world where you can't do that. I chose to honor that blessing by planting my own produce, but you don't have to. If you support local farmers, same thing.
Gardening is rewarding in many ways. If you are looking to live healthier, it's great exercise too. Get the whole family involved. You're not out to grow a thirty pound carrot, so just relax, and enjoy the experience. Happy planting.