Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What a Good Day Looks Like

I was thinking about good days, and I thought about how my idea of a good day has changed over the years. So here is my list:

In Tyler: I don't recall much about Tyler except bits and pieces. (I left there when I was 4). But I do recall sitting on a neighbor's front porch, drinking some lemonade, and playing with the little doll she gave me (It cried when you squeezed her tummy.)

In California: A good day was either a day at the beach (Tunafish sandwiches, tortilla strips, walks on the peer, being out in the water ALL DAY!) or 4th of July (swimming all day at the house across the street then setting off fireworks, sitting in chairs on the lawn watching the rest of the neighbors set off their fireworks).

In Liberty Hill: A day with Glow Girl, my horse. Riding all day into town, tying her off at the store to get a Dr. Pepper and a Butterfinger, then riding her all the way back, letting her walk through streams.

In Springfield: Before I was married it would have to be a day off from school, laying out at a local lake or on a rooftop, hanging out with friends and listening to the Gaither Vocal Band. After I was married it had to be a snow day, off from work, sitting in a warm house, a walk to the store in a blizzard.

In Florida: A day with the kids, working around the house, usually outside (I hated the inside work!) or just letting them play "Walker Texas Ranger" on the trampoline, or swimming at Gramma's house, watching the kiddos learn how to swim and dive and jump in the water.

In Thailand: A good day was a trip to the mountains, watching the elephants, playing in the waterfall.

In China: A day with water, and electricity, and sunshine. It meant I could do laundry. :) Oh, and the day we had snow. Watching them hit the neighbors with snowballs was too funny.

In Weatherford: Hanging out with Bo and Vuji, walking around the "block" (which was 4 miles long)

In Taiwan: Typhoon days. Huddled in the house, listening to the wind howl, safe inside, playing games and entertaining each other.

In Texas and Florida: Just about every day, because we were with family!

Now: For me, it has to be seeing the kids playing with friends, thriving, enjoying the day. And a hazelnut latte from Starbucks.

I wonder what a good day will be like in 5, 10, 40 years from now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Before our son Timothy turned 2, I took him to the doctor for his regular check up. As I was waiting, I saw a sign for a pageant for children at the local mall. I wasn't sure if Timothy was pageant material. He was a boy's boy: started walking when he was 8 months old, had this sort of "hit and roll" thing he did when he fell, and he loved his firetrucks. He called them "911."

I decided I would do it. Besides, I thought it would be a fun day to meet other parents, a day out where Timothy would do his thing, then we would spend the rest of the time at the mall people watching, eating our typical cookie and coke snack, looking at toys, visiting the bookstore, etc. I couldn't have been more wrong.

First, if you are someone who does the baby pageant thing, I don't mean to offend. But it wasn't for me. I had dressed Timothy in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and little sweater vest (which I thought was so cute because, well, I'm mom!) and his little work boots. Everyone else was in little suits, black shoes, their hair was fixed just so. Worse was the little girls pageant. Women were walking around holding these frilly dresses, not wanting their little girls to get soiled. Personally, I'd like to see a soiled dress up there every now and then. Reality is good.

So we get to Timothy's age bracket, waited in line for him to do the walk in front of the judges, then it was our turn. He held my hand, walked to the judges table with a little firetruck in hand, looked up at them and said, "911." We walked back down the stairs and did our usual mall thing. We could. He was dressed like a little boy. It didn't matter if he got coke on his shorts or smeared chocolate chip cookie on his vest.

I decided to wait around for a little while, just for closure's sake. And you know what? He got 2nd place in his division. Not because he was the most handsome one out there, (which is a crazy thing to do...really. That's in the eye of the beholder.) but because he was a little boy doing what little boys do, and on that day, that's what stood out.

I've never been to another pageant. I'm sure there are some good things about them. I personally thought it would just be a fun day, and the trophy would end up going to the most behaved child up there. After all, they were 2. I was very disappointed in what I saw, and what it brought out in people. One woman was very upset that the 2nd place winners got to stand on the stage with the 1st place winners. To me, that was disgraceful. However, I was happy that Timothy received 2nd place for just being 2. He received a trophy. It's somewhere in storage, not sure where. I personally like his award from his classmates best. The one where they voted him most kind, most giving, most honest.... I'll hang those on my walls any day!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Home and Hearth

I decided to post this picture, even though it is a little blurry. This picture brings back some good memories, and causes me to reflect more on my thoughts about Dignity.

As I stated before, Dignity does not require status or nice things. It can be found in the most humble circumstances. This insight came to me when visiting villages, when dignity found it's way into the home in the most simple tasks: cooking, showing hospitality, doing a job and doing it well. We were strangers in these homes, but we were given a great meal, a solid mat to sleep on, and lots of great conversation. Daily life consisted of taking care of the livestock, making meals, and taking on those chores that were dictated by the season. But these people showed confidence in doing this job, and were happy to open their homes and share their wealth. I guess dignity goes hand in hand with contentment. And maybe some confidence thrown in for good measure.

I think we could learn a lot from folks like these. The west has lost it's sense of dignity in many respects. It is a world that enjoys confrontation and find any excuse to do so, and I'm sure there are those who become wealthy from this type of thinking. But I'm learning to value those who possess this quality, and who encourage it in me and those I love. I find I have always enjoyed having these people in my life, and I am enjoying coming in contact with new friends who possess it.

Here's to dignity.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Book Review:


(NASHVILLE, TN) DiAnn Mills concludes her Texas Legacy series with Lightning and Lace, a gritty novel that is part thriller and part romance. The year is 1898 when Travis Whitworth steps onto the train platform in Kahlerville, Texas. As he has a good look at the small dusty town, he is determined to face life again and return to preaching. Having lost his last church because of a scandal involving a brothel, he is equally determined to avoid women altogether. But within an hour of his arrival, he finds himself caught in the affairs of Bonnie Kahler, an attractive, young widow whose unruly son is headed for a future of crime unless someone can reach him.

Like Travis, Bonnie also intends to face life again by rising from her grief and returning to her responsibilities. Staring over is proving hard though. Her oldest son has already been arrested once and is now living with the new preacher, and the married banker who supplied her with wine during her mourning "to help her sleep at night," is now threatening to reveal that she's been drinking if she crosses him. When she refuses the banker's advances, she ignites a storm of wrath that engulfs her and her family in rumors that threaten to destroy them. Her strongest ally becomes the new preacher who is hiding secrets of his own.

"DiAnn Mills has done it again-only better!" -Diane Noble, author of The Butterfly Farm, a Harriet MacIver Mystery

Author Bio: DiAnn Mills has sold over a million copies of her combined seventeen novels, fourteen novellas, and non-fiction book. Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Romance Writers 2003 and 2004. She is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella category. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Chi Libris, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


There's something I've noticed over the past year or so in people, and it's been so refreshing. I'm sure you know it when you see it. Have you ever been around someone and come away feeling comfortable and centered? Not in how you were treated, but rather in just having been exposed to someone who is genuine. I have been lucky this year in particular to be around people who are genuine, and it's been a long time coming. No pretenses, no manipulation, no agendas or ambitions to deal with, just the person sitting before me, spending time, talking, thinking out loud, praying together. Being real. Sharing testimonies without there being some sort of competition as to who is more spiritual. I think this element of friendship is a real rarity today. People wear so many masks: who they are and how they deal with others in public and private, public images. But if we are to truly live out who God wants us to be, then that would mean warts and all, wouldn't it? Because how can others know what God has truly done in our lives if we are not the person that God created and has since worked and molded in us His nature and His will for our lives? How can we truly live out our testimonies of all that God has done for us if we are busy wearing masks to our different social gatherings?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Eyes of a Child

That is T crossing the Yangze on a cornstalk raft. One of his cool stories.

T in a village. He always made sure he had lots of candy. :)

We've had many adventures through the years, but T takes the cake in that realm. He has traveled to many places and has done some really cool things. He is a major backpacker, and has this stamina that always amazes me. So when he would come home from his trips, he would put his things down in the doorway and immediately the smells in the house would transform our home to a house in a village, with the smell of campfires, backpacking stuff laying all over... it was a good time. Then we would all sit around the living room, no matter the time of day or night, and listen to his stories. He has some great stories.

I have never realized the effect these stories would have on our youngest son, San (short for's a long story). I've listened to him talk about his dad lately, and it seems that in his eyes, there is nothing his dad can't do. We tend to watch the Adventure Chanel on Saturdays, and any time there is a skydiver, iditarod racer, scuba diver or any other adventurer, San asks, "Dad, have you done that?" I guess he figures it's easier to eliminate what he hasn't done than to list the things he has done. Police officer, car fixer, furniture builder, backpacker, fisherman, hunter, microbiologist, mountain climber, mischievious child.... the list goes on.

Such is the view from the eyes of a child. And the neat thing is that we get our first views of what God is like through our Fathers. I'm sure for San, God is an adventurer, lover of nature, and a great story teller. I think that's a good place to start.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dignity vs. Pride

I’ve had a dialogue going on in my head for quite some time. It involves the comparison of two qualities. Both qualities are represented in people I have known through the years, and both have provided opportunities for growth and improvement. This is why I believe it is not necessarily a bad thing to have negative people in our lives. While it is important to note when to stop allowing influence, it is also important to learn from them.

So the dialogue that has been taking place has been about the qualities of dignity versus the quality of pride. Both are similar, in that they involve a place of elevation. Where they differ, though, is in who gives them that elevation. With dignity, there is a strong sense of self respect which doesn’t come from a position, or place in life. It comes from the knowledge of
“who's I am and how I got here.” Of course Christ is central to that equation. The one with dignity possesses a sense of calm and contentment that goes beyond their circumstances or lot in life. I have seen dignity in villages under the poorest conditions, as well as in the vilest of times in someone’s life. It speaks volumes.

Pride, on the other hand, is content only when it stands on the shoulders of others. It has to put someone else down so that it can lift itself up. Pride is not content, and is dependent on others for it’s elevation. Pride needs position in order survive. It cannot exist outside of position. It doesn’t speak volumes, but works to squelch those who threaten it.

Dignity. It should be honored in others, developed in ourselves, and modeled for those who don’t possess it.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things I miss in the states:

1. Clean, dogpoop-free sidewalks
2. Clouds. The clouds just seem 3D in the states.
3. Thunderstorms. I love a good, summer thunderstorm
4. Dunkin Doughnuts. I don't like them often, but I do miss them.
5. Family, of course.
6. Station surfing on the car radio.
7. Traffic in the US. Everyone keeping their safe distance.
8. Ordering fast food in English.
9. Water Parks.
10. Baseball games. Any kind.
11. Magazines.
12. Being able to eat any kind of ethnic food.
13. Shopping.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

OK, Here it is, my first book review:

Friday Afternoon Club is hip deep in Crime & Clutter

(NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE) Friday Afternoon Club member Mary Alice keeps a perfect house, cooks perfect meals, and documents everything about her perfect world in her coordinated scrapbooks. Therefore, everyone is astounded to learn that she's hiding a decrepit 1963 Volkswagen mini-bus that she refuses to talk about. It doesn't take long before M-A's secret is out. She's a flower child, born on a commune to hippie parents. The van is all M-A has left of her father. But as the gang helps her sift through the junk, they stumble upon a deeper mystery. Set in both the present day and the turbulent 1960's, Cyndy Salzmann takes her readers along on a journey filled with as many twists and surprises as there are recipes and household tips. The novel is full of hints such as how to create a sweet-smelling house using vinegar, baking soda, and soaked cotton balls. It even has recipes ranging from Vegetarian Lentil Stew to Pesto Cheesecake. And, of course, the chocolate recipes enjoyed by the FAC girls.

Author Bio: Cyndy Salzmann is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and the author of three nonfiction books on home management, one of which focuses on getting rid of clutter. She speaks nationally on the topic of home management and has a weekly radio spot airing on Moody station WDLM. Her novels celebrate life while making her readers laugh at the dilemmas faced by millions of modern women.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blog tour coming soon...

I've begun reviewing new books from a Christian publisher. Stay tuned for book reviews, author interviews, and possibly even book give aways! This is so exciting to be able to give my two cents on new Christian novels coming out. What a great way to encourage Christian writers and the industry that publishes them as well.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 11, 2007


One of my favorite programs in the states was a little spot every Saturday morning called "Everybody Has a Story." It is still around, I think, but I've missed out on a lot of the stories from that show. The premise is this: the reporter was blindfolded and threw a dart at a map of the U.S. and went to that location, no matter where it landed. Then picked up a phone book when he went in that town, randomly picked a page, closed his eyes and picked a number. He called the number, and the first person who answered the phone would be who the story was about. And you know what? It was ALWAYS interesting. Sometimes the stories were uplifting and encouraging. Other times they were cautionary tales.

The fact of the matter is that we all have little tidbits and interesting things about ourselves, and as we become friends with people, we slowly share those stories, allowing our new friends to view new facets of ourselves. Sometimes friendships are shallow. Either there is no chemistry there, or there is no reciprocation. Those friendships only seem to share enough to present a certain view. They usually fizzle or don't go very far. But other times, there are those friends who are just as interested in sharing their life experiences, good and bad, and reciprocate by doing likewise. It's those friendships that last through the years. They are the friends that you can go for 5, 10 years without seeing, then all of the sudden meet and pick up where you left off. It's rare, but when it happens it is truly a Godsend.

The little tidbits can be so fun, and work to endear us to each other. Sheila, for instance, had a crazy cat that literally climbed walls. She also had a St. Bernard named Bear that was in a LoneStar Beer commercial. She could run three miles during track meets and not pass out, which is why she's a marathon runner now. She also got to tour Europe with Phil Collins. How cool is that?

Kim has some amazing TP'ing stories. She also is great at talking herself out of all kinds of tickets. It's her natural charm. I really envied that in her, because I couldn't talk myself out of a paper sack. She was also great at talking me into some of her escapades. (We'll just make it seem like it was all her...if she takes the fall, she can talk herself out of it. ha!)

Sandy is not only a great volleyball player now, but she was an awesome softball player as well. Pitcher at that. I hear I wouldn't want to be at the plate when she was throwing. She's also as obsessed with reality TV as I am.

Colleen makes an AWESOME spinach dip. And she's great at entertaining a lot of people for one night, or a niece and nephews for a bunch of nights. I used to tease her about making salads (we both hate doing it), but she's the Queen of Entertaining at this point.

*Edit* (I was leading up to Kay, then forgot to add her! Such is life in my house...)

Then there's Kay. She was an awesome athlete when she was younger (and probably still!). Softball and basketball were the sports she was especially good at, and she took some of her skill and coaxed me along for a year. (Remember my ONE basket in basketball? We won by two points that game. Of course you guys let me think it was my points that won the game. ha!) She used to get nosebleeds, and once when I went to her house for two weeks straight, she got one every night. What does that say? Oh, and it's a lot of fun riding by bus to Oklahoma with her. Oh yeah, and beware when she dreams of snakes.

As we all get to know each other, we share a bit more of ourselves, learn each other's stories. It's what makes friendship fun, interesting and sustains our friendships over time. Makes you wonder about the stories these guys have probably shared, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Ever wonder what Santa looks like in Taiwan? Here he is via the Taichung Science Museum:

I just thought this might be a good desktop picture or background for something in the future. We'll see.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bound Feet

I watched a program on TV years ago that documented an artist. She knew that a generation of women who were enslaved in the South were dying away, and she wanted to document their lives. She did so in an unusual way. She made clay replicas of their hands and feet. She didn't need to tell their story. The years of toil and struggle had left their mark, and their wordless stories were told in the viewing of her art. Beside each piece she had a picture of the women, their age, and where they had lived.

I always remember that program when I think of the bound feet women in China. They are a dying breed of woman. Small feet were desired those many years ago, and the best foot binders could achieve a size of a two inch shoe. Their shoes were beautiful. The women would hand-make their shoes, and they were elaborately decorated with gorgeous stitchery and delicate designs. But underneath that beauty was a twisted, distorted and disfigured foot that effectively left these women crippled. It was all done in the name of beauty, and was forced on girls at a very young age. But it made them observers, and as a result, these women are a wonderful resource of information about life in China in the early 1900's.

I wish I could be an artist for just a few months, and shape the feet of these ladies out of clay. With their hand-made shoes sitting alongside. Of course there should be a picture, and a small amount of information about where they lived. But just like the feet of those slaves years ago, these feet tell a story. One that is passing into the history books as I write. I hope someone is writing them down.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Country Road

I saw this picture on the blog of a new blogger friend: Carmi. He’s a person of many talents, as you should see for yourself when you visit him at I like to go there just to see what else he’s been up to. He’s given me permission to use this picture for this story. Thanks Carmi!

This picture brought back so many memories for me. One memory is of music. I can just hear my brother’s 8 track playing John Denver’s “Country road, take me home.” It played over and over again, so that song is permanently etched in my memory. I’ll probably be in an old folk’s home some day, staring blankly at the tv set in front of me, telling invisible people to shut up so I can sing along with that song.

The best memory, though, is of the road leading to Mamaw’s house. We lived in Southern California and Mamaw and Papa lived in East Texas. Needless to say, it was a long two day’s drive away. We would go to church on Sunday night with the car already packed, then leave as soon as the services were over. Dad would drive all night and into the next day, stopping to get coffee along the way which was strange in itself because he called it “liquid sin” any other time. This was before seatbelt laws, and during those hot evenings driving through the desert, I would sleep underneath the back window in order to feel the cool glass against my arms and face.

We would stop at a hotel in El Paso, swim in the pool until we were exhausted, wake up and eat breakfast at Denny’s or Howard Johnson’s, then head out again. CB’s were big in those days, and dad’s “Handle” was “Country Parson.” We would join a convoy with other truckers, always on the lookout for “Smokies” because we were not going the speed limit any longer. Occasionally we would be graced with a beautiful lightening storm, and I again would take advantage of lying under the back window. I watched nature’s fireworks create a brilliant light show, with electricity shooting through the night sky, creating tree branches of light.

At the end of the second day, though, we were exhausted. We bombarded my dad with “Are we there yet’s” and “how much longer’s.” Finally, though, we hit the country road: tree lined with bright yellow stripes leading the way. We forgot about being tired. We knew what was at the end of that road: hugs (lot’s of them), family, crawdad fishing, lawn-mower and go-cart rides, dominoes, catfish and hush puppies, swimming in the lake…

Funny the memories that can come from a picture.