Fiction Friday: Another excerpt

Fiction Friday: Another excerpt

Meanwhile, back on his home planet, Forno, in the town of Ziti, Biff’s best friend Neal Parmesan sat in his comfortable recliner, watching the news. His phone began to vibrate, the first notes of the popular song “Lasagna” sounding tinnily through the room. Grabbing the device, he wiped the screen and grumbled, “Hello?”

“Hello!” piped Pizelle’s lilting voice. “I just got a message from Biff! He’s landed on Marinara!”

Neal sat up straighter, interest filling his face. “Oh? And what did he find?”

“Well….” she trailed off, then continued, “I don’t, actually, know yet. I don’t know what sort of delay there is in the messages, but I sent a reply and he hasn’t answered, yet.”

“Hopefully, he’ll get back to you pretty soon. Maybe he’ll send pictures!”

Pizelle laughed. “Probably not. I imagine the roaming charges are exorbitant!”

Help for a Heartache

Help for a Heartache

My mother-in-law, as a pastor’s wife, hosts ladies’ Bible studies regularly. She is currently working through a book called “Help! I’m a Woman!” This month’s lesson was on heartache, but she did most of it herself, using the book as a jumping-off place. Some sources for the material include Janet Treadway’s “Father, Please Heal My Broken Heart” and gotQuestions?org “How can I recover from a broken heart” and Beverly Mattox’s “Help! I’m a Woman!” This is what she presented to us (student version below):

I HAVE A HEARTACHE!

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.Proverbs 15:13

The dictionary defines heartbreak as “crushing grief, anguish, or distress.” While there are many causes, we know that the pain of a broken heart can be enormous.

There are many Biblical examples of those with a broken heart.

Nehemiah had been taken in the captivity of Jerusalem and was the cupbearer of the king. He asked concerning the condition of his homeland.

What was he told? Nehemiah 1:3

What was his reaction? Nehemiah 1:4

Nehemiah had never been sad in the presence of the king. (It is said that the cupbearer was not allowed to be sad in the king’s presence, and there could be a serious consequence.) What did the king say to him? Nehemiah 2:2

When our heart is broken, others know it as did the king.


In one day, Job lost his children, almost all worldly possessions, his health, and his means of livelihood. Through all his heartache, Job learned what all believers can learn – God is faithful and good and trustworthy.


David, a man after God’s own heart, suffered many heartbreaking circumstances. Each time, he recovered and was an even stronger man of God. Psalm 34 gives examples of how David overcame heartbreak by calling on the Lord.

What was his first step? Psalm 34:4

What assurance did David have? Psalm 34:18

What confidence did he have in the love of God? Psalm 34:19

Above all else, the one thing that gets you past all the pain that you are experiencing from a broken heart is prayer. Jesus is always there. Jesus IS your family and He IS your friend. He is your comfort in times of trouble and he is always there for you no matter what. Continual prayer to Him to guide you through this time of need will definitely strengthen you, not only emotionally, but spiritually. With continual prayer for strength and hope, you also strengthen your relationship with God. And, in turn, with a stronger relationship with God comes a more peaceful frame of mind. The heartache will soon wither away into a glorious new day of hope and endless possibilities.

As we turn to the Lord, we know:

The Lord is Strong; Do not Fear…

Psalm 73:26
2 Corinthians 12:9

We Can Trust the Lord for Deliverance and Healing…

Psalm 55:22
Psalm 147:3
Proverbs 3:5-6

We Are to Look Forward and Believe…

Romans 8:28
2 Corinthians 5:7

We realize our strength is in the Lord. Without Him there is no hope… with Him all things are possible. But how can we possibly heal our broken heart?

1. Recognize the pain and understand it is OK to hurt.

Sometimes we seek to cover the pain by ignoring it, but we cannot ignore it and think it will go away.

Understand it is OK to hurt. We try to push the hurt away, but we can’t. The hurt isn’t outside us – it’s inside. So, in our attempt to push the hurt away, we actually push the hurt deeper inside. We then can spend the rest of our life running from this suppressed hurt.

It is during this time that we need a lot of love, encouragement, and hope restored. We realize how frail we are and see our great need for God. We cannot heal without Him.

2. Seek the Healer.

Seek God as our healer! Just like we tell a doctor our symptoms, we should tell God how much we were wounded and need His healing touch. He will hear the cries of the broken. God the Father wants to reach down, take our hand, and walk us through our pain. It may take weeks, or years, or even a lifetime to close the wounds of our hearts completely. God will spend as much time and as many years as necessary to help us through it.

3. Reach out to others.

As God has reached out to us, so we should be an instrument of God to reach out and help others who are in pain. 2 Corinthians 1:4. Because of our own pain, we are able to understand and help in a far greater way.

Scripture tells us that Jesus suffered heartbreak after heartbreak. Isaiah 53:3-5.

He reached out to us by giving His life so that we can be healed! Can we lay our burden at His feet? Can we let Him carry our load? Can we let go and let God take care of it?

GOD CAN HEAL A BROKEN HEART, BUT WE HAVE TO GIVE HIM ALL THE PIECES.

Jesus Cares

There is never a day so dreary
But God can make it bright,
And unto the soul that trusts Him,
He giveth songs in the night.

There is never a path so hidden,
But God can lead the way,
If we seek for the Spirit’s guidance
And patiently wait and pray.

There is never a cross so heavy
But the nail-scarred hands are there
Outstretched in tender compassion
The burden to help us bear.

There is never a heart so broken,
But the loving Lord can heal,
The heart that was pierced on Calvary
Doth still for His loved ones feel.

There is never a life so darkened,
So hopeless and unblessed,
But may be filled with the light of God
And enter His promised rest.

There is never a sin or sorrow,
There is never a care or loss,
But that we may bring to Jesus
And leave at the foot of the cross.

–Lilla M. Alexander

The Potato Hack

The Potato Hack

I assume you’ve heard the names “Penn & Teller” at some point in your life. If you are interested in weight loss, you probably are aware that Penn Jillette lost around 100 pounds. He began his weight loss journey with this method – The Potato Hack.

We read about it and decided it was worth a try. The information we found indicated that there is usually weight loss between half a pound and a pound daily while using the hack, and continued loss for several days afterward. The recommendation was for 3-5 days of potato hack, then resuming healthy varied meals.

Penn says that it doesn’t matter WHAT single food is used, but because potatoes are nutritionally a good choice, the potato hack has become quite popular. One reviewer – who is not all for the hack, himself, but who reviewed it – stated that:

benefits of the hack is that it is carbohydrate-based, is low enough in polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) to expel a lot of those metabolically-suppressive fats out of the tissues, contains no inflammatory arachidonic acid (AA) whatsoever, contains low levels of the inflammatory amino acids like methionine, cysteine, and tryptophan, can lower uric acid, and can otherwise reverse a lot of the cumulative problems one can incur on a diet too heavy in meat and fat

(from 180-degree Health).

potatoes

So, how does it work?

It’s pretty simple, really. Eat potatoes.

The recommendation is up to 5 pounds of potatoes a day, cooked (sometimes cooled), plain. Personally, I feel that a dash of salt is beneficial, as I noticed signs of sodium deficiency around the third day. The main reason to eat only plain potatoes – without even salt, the first day – is that it sort of “resets” your taste buds and brain. Americans are so used to added flavors that the basic goodness of food has become “lacking” to them, but the simplicity of real food is amazing.

Also, once you go back to eating other foods, the tastes are brighter and practically *new* because of the “reset” that just took place.

What kind of potatoes?

Any kind! There are a lot of varieties, so be adventurous! We tried Yukon Gold on the recommendation of several sites. While their flavor is different from Russetts, they were not my favorite. They have a faint “sweet potato” taste to them. That was NOT why I didn’t care for them, but it was a factor for one of my children, who dislikes sweet potatoes with a passion.

My favorite is red potatoes, small, boiled with plenty of salt, followed closely by Russetts, baked.

How do you cook them?

You can bake them or boil them – either one results in a cooked potato. I prefer them baked, for texture, unless I’m eating them immediately. To me, boiled potatoes get slimy once cooled. My husband didn’t agree, though, so you might try it before deciding against it.

Cooling them does more than just keep them for later, too. The quantity of resistant starch changes based on cooling. I haven’t done a LOT of research on this, but some varieties increase in RS while others decrease.

I did the potato hack, eating only potatoes – no salt or seasonings whatsoever – for 3 days, followed by two days with salt and a dash of oil. In the first week (7 days), I had a 13-pound loss. In the following week, I saw two more pounds go. Following that, my weight stayed steady for three full weeks, despite eating pretty much whatever I wanted (though, to be fair, “what I wanted” changed a little, due to the hack, too).

It is about six weeks later now. In the last two weeks, I have gained back a little over half of that, because I stopped paying attention to what I ate. Because of this, I recommend paying attention and, if weight starts creeping back on, notice what you’re eating and re-do the potato hack to get back on track. 3-5 days every 4-6 weeks seems quite doable, for lasting weight loss, don’t you think?

Update Letter – August 2016

Update Letter – August 2016
Dear Friends and Family,August 2016



It’s been much too long (over a year!) since I last wrote an update letter! For this, I apologize.
Let’s see—what’s happened since June 2015? My inlaws got a new puppy (who is now pretty much full grown, of course, but still relatively small, as he’s a Yorkie) which they named Max.
max-nate(Max when they got him – he’s full grown now!)

In July 2015, I finally cut bangs back into my hair after three years of growing them out. I definitely prefer how I look with bangs, I discovered!

Mid-July 2015, Bobby, Timmy, Nate and I went to a Doctor Who convention (fans of the science fiction series Doctor Who) in Madison, AL, and enjoyed that experience.

I got to visit with my friend Nicole, who moved to the area from Washington State around 2012 and moved back this year, a few times last summer.

In August 2015, Timmy started his first year and Bobby started his last year at Northeast Alabama Community College. Timmy took general classes last fall because he had not yet decided what he wanted to study.
firstdayofschool

In September 2015, Robby turned 49. We went and watched War Room, and it is an EXCELLENT movie. (We later purchased the DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital.) Also, Nate and I entered the Jackson County Fair (I entered a baby blanket I crocheted and he entered two of his sculptures) and all three won blue ribbons!

We also traveled to South Carolina to celebrate Rachel’s 21st birthday. We went a couple weeks early, because she had plans with her friends for the actual day, and we had time/money available at that time. We had a really good time with her and my parents and my brother’s family.

HarveysOShaughnessys20150912

Later in the month, I bought bricks to make a new fire pit in the back yard, and also a few paving stones for an area at the house-end of the driveway where it drops off into grass. Also, Robby’s dad began a small outbuilding near the back of the house for use and storage. The boys helped him quite a bit.

In October 2015, Timmy turned 19, and also got his official driver’s license. It’s been very nice to have another independent driver in the family, even if he rarely goes anywhere alone.

In November 2015, we discovered that our oven element had given up the ghost – right before Thanksgiving, no less. So, we ordered a new one from Amazon, and (thanks to Prime) had it the next day (Tuesday of Thanksgiving week!) and were able to cook dinner!

Also in November 2015, John Luke turned 10!

December was our usual busy holiday season, and I can’t remember anything in particular that stands out.

In January, Nate turned 16! That still seems a little surreal. We got him a cell phone. (He also got his driving permit!)
natepermit20160119

Also, Robby’s shed was finished, and we started putting stuff in it. It’s very nice and matches the house.

Bobby officially received his AAS in Computer Science in the mail.

In February, I turned 45!

In March, I got my remaining three top teeth pulled and added to my partial, resulting in, essentially, a full denture without the palate piece. I prefer it that way, for now, but will likely need to get a “real” denture sometime in the future. I’m not in any rush!

Also in March, Sarah turned 7!

In April, Bobby turned 23—I can hardly believe my oldest is “mid-20s” already! Time sure does keep moving. In May, he participated in the college graduation ceremony—the first graduation for him in which he dressed in cap and gown and walked across a stage.
bobgradpro

In May, I got some contact paper and covered up my kitchen wall between the cabinet and the countertop. Instead of dirty white, it is now black floral pattern on a white background. I like it a lot better!

kitchenwall

In June, we took a trip to Ocean Springs, MS. It was a “working vacation” – Robby did some work for a pharmacy there and we visited the beach and some other neighborhood locations, including a laundromat to rewash some clothes that had been brought that hadn’t had time to dry before packing and had soured. At the laundromat, Nate struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was also doing laundry, and it turned out that he had participated in the Spartan Race (a popular obstacle course race that is televised). Nate expressed interest and the man gave Nate his participation bracelet “to keep you inspired.” It was very neat! We were in Ocean Springs Monday through Wednesday.

On Thursday and Friday, Timmy & I took John Luke and Sarah to VBS at Madison Baptist Church.

Saturday of that same week, we once again attended Con Kasterborous, the Doctor Who fan’s convention. This year, we took our friends’ boys with us, as well. We met Frazer Hines & Colin Baker, and also talked to Caitlyn Blackwood—all of whom were part of the Doctor Who TV Show. It was pretty fun. We saw people we see every year, and met a few new people, too!

That was a very busy week!

In July, Timmy buzzed off his fluffy almost-afro and ended up looking like a totally different person!
20160630Timmy-After

Also in July, my inlaws found a pogo stick somewhere and bought it for John Luke & Sarah. They love it! And it’s good exercise!

We also had a very nice visit the weekend before Independence Day with my parents, Rachel, and her friend Laura. They didn’t get to stay long, but we enjoyed having them here!
20160702RaeSarah

Mid-July, I tried my hand at homemade cream puffs, from choux pastry and a filling recipe from the internet. They turned out delicious!

We noticed a plant had sprung up in our “garden planter” (which we set up for strawberries, but none of the plants we put in survived) that appeared to be some sort of squash. Interested, we kept watering and watching, and got a nice sized pumpkin from it! We are hoping for more, but even if we only get the one, it is a great blessing!

My sister-in-law Cathy and her family came to visit toward the end of July, and we very much enjoyed spending time with them. The kids loved being with their cousins for a few days, and we hope we can get together again sooner next time!

The weekend after they left, my sister-in-law Renee and her husband came into town. She spoke at our church’s Mother/Daughter Banquet and he preached Sunday and Wednesday for our “Homecoming” celebration. It was a nice visit, but seemed a lot too short!

We also added another pet—an adorable female kitten who Nate named Juliet. It took her and Scout about a week to get used to each other, but now they play together and get along wonderfully! She is cuddly and purry and we are loving having her!

At the beginning of August, Timmy bought a car! It’s a 1991 Pontiac Bonneville that needs some work, but runs and should get him to college and back. He’s pretty excited about having his own wheels!
20160802Tim-Car

Robby & I celebrated our 25th Anniversary this year! The church had a little party for us with cake and ice cream on Sunday after church, and on Tuesday (our anniversary), we took a little trip to Chattanooga and had a nice time.

This week, Robby & I decided to try something called “The Potato Hack” – in which one eats only potatoes and drinks only coffee, tea, or water for 3-5 days. We heard about it originally in an interview with Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, who lost a lot of weight, and started with two weeks of this. From Monday until Wednesday, I followed it strictly, but today (Thursday) I ate a slice of turkey on my potato at lunch (still lean meat—and no butter, sour cream, or cheese). I hope it will kickstart some weight loss!

Also, sometime recently, Shakalaka (an indoor trampoline park about an hour away) was replacing the foam in their foam pits and offered the old pieces to anyone who wanted to pick them up, so we went and got a carload of them. The kids have them in the boys’ room and they build with them and spread them out and jump in them and just generally have a great time!

Huntsville also recently got an indoor go-kart place, which Bobby and Timmy have both tried out (and Bobby has already been a second time). We plan to use it as incentive to encourage Nate and John Luke to get their schoolwork done in a timely manner this year. Hopefully it will be effective!

Well, this has gotten pretty long, so I’d better quit. Hope you are doing well!

Abomination

Abomination

The word abomination appears in 142 verses in the King James Bible. Of these, six are in the New Testament. Two speak of the abomination of desolation (in Matthew & Mark), three are in Revelation in descriptions about John’s vision, and the remaining one appears in Luke, which states in chapter 16, verse 15:

“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

That brings us to the Old Testament. The rest of the verses – 136 – are found here.

Genesis and Exodus have three instances, all of which refer to abominations to the Egyptians.

Leviticus has 14. Many of these are in the Levitical law, and discuss things that the Israelites were not to do. These things were an abomination to the soul of those who participated. These include things that should not be eaten (the peace offering on the third day; any seafood without fins and scales; scavenger birds; flying things with four legs; creeping things) as well as actions (lying with mankind as with womankind; bestiality; offering children to Molech; profaning the name of God; lying with both a woman and her mother).

These are likely the most well-known of the things listed as abominations in the Bible, if only because of the ones that pertain to homosexual actions. However, as we will see, homosexual activity is far from the only abomination according to God’s Word.

Deuteronomy has 16 verses containing the word. The vast majority of these deal with the idolatry of nations that surround Israel – those they are in the process of conquering. God warns them not to bring the idolatrous activities and items into their households. One of the verses also refers to cross-dressing (Deuteronomy 22:5). Also, in the case of divorce, a man remarrying his first wife after her second husband dies is also called abomination (Deuteronomy 24:4). Improper measurements, presumably for the purpose of cheating people, also falls under this umbrella – followed by a very important verse. Deuteronomy 25:16 states:

For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.

We see here that ALL SIN is abomination to God. This really only makes sense, if you think about it. What SIN could possibly NOT be an abomination to God?

1 Samuel has one verse, which mentions that Israel was an abomination to the Philistines.

1 & 2 Kings have 8 verses between the two. These all speak of abominations of the heathen nations – mostly idolatry.

2 Chronicles has 5 verses about abomination. These also all speak of the abominations of the heathen nations around Israel.

Ezra contains 3 instances, also all referring to heathen nations.

Psalms contains the word abomination exactly once: in chapter 88, the Psalmist is grieving about the loss of his acquaintances, stating that he was “made an abomination to them.”

Proverbs uses the word the second-most often, with 20 verses containing it. Most, if not all, of these discuss things that are an abomination to God.

  • The froward (3:32, 11:20)
  • Pride, lying, murder, devising evil, mischief, lying, sowing discord (6:16-19)
  • A false balance (11:1)
  • Lying (12:22)
  • The sacrifice of the wicked (15:8, 21:27)
  • The way of the wicked (15:9)
  • The thoughts of the wicked (15:26)
  • Pride (16:5)
  • Justifying the wicked and condemning the just (17:15)
  • Diverse weights & measures (20:10, 20:23)
  • He who refuses to hear the law (28:9)

Three or four of the verses speak of things that are abomination to certain people – such as an unjust man being an abomination to the just, and vice versa (29:27).

Isaiah refers to idolatry and wickedness five times as abominations, in a prophetic manner.

Jeremiah‘s 10 references have to do with Israel’s failings and the coming judgment for them – as well as the promise that if they will put away the abominations, they will be restored.

The prophet Ezekiel uses the word most often – 44 times. There is much discussion of Israel’s sin and that of the surrounding heathens – especially as it relates to Israel’s absorption of the surrounding nations’ habits and sins.

Here is an interesting tidbit. Do you know what the iniquity was that Sodom committed that resulted in her destruction? According to Ezekiel 16:48-50, God speaking to Jerusalem:

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

Throughout the book, God makes it clear that sin is abomination and will be judged.

Of the remaining prophets, Daniel, Hosea, Zechariah, and Malachi are the only ones that use the word abomination, and all of them once except Daniel, which has it 3 times. These are all references either to Israel’s current sins, or to future events.

The reason for going through these verses (which you can look up with any good concordance, if you wish to view all 142 verses yourself) is because so many people choose one sin – that they themselves find reprehensible – and say that God calls it abomination. While they are correct about that, they often fail to realize – or admit – that every sin is equally abomination, and is called abomination in the Bible.

Again, it makes no sense to try to single out one single sin as abomination, because there is no possible way that ANY sin could NOT be abomination to God.

Megamaxx Console Game

Megamaxx Console Game

So we gave Nate a phone for his 16th birthday. However, we didn’t want it to be too obvious, so we got a “prank box” to put it in. The one we got was for a “Megamaxx console game” (console not included) for doing chores.

extremechoresbox

It has a link “for more information” on the box – http://www.gamemasterfuntimestorespot.com/store/gaming/electronic/consoles/recreation/brands/megamaxx/2009models/extremechores/itemnumber4314B –
which doesn’t actually go anywhere. (That’s part of why I’m blogging this — so a Google search might actually find something about it 😀 )

Inside that, I had a box (also wrapped) that contained a bag of chips covering another wrapped item – the phone.

I put a Minions birthday background on it and set it up with a “Happy Birthday” ringtone. We called it after he got it out of the box.

I also took him to the Department of Motor Vehicles to try for his driver’s permit this afternoon, after lunch at Subway.

He passed. 🙂

natepermit20160119

3-Column Baby Blanket

3-Column Baby Blanket

Dawn’s 3-Column Baby Blanket

Blue-Ribbon Winner at the Jackson County Fair!

3colbb

This is the first pattern I’ve ever created. There are some places where I adjusted when crocheting, but I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t follow my own pattern, or if I just messed up… if the instructions don’t appear to line up, just add or subtract a stitch as needed 😉 There are three ‘columns’ vertically, which should line up. I used a size J crochet hook and some ordinary pink yarn. The label was already off when I got it, so I have no idea what brand. Additionally, it was partly used when I got it, so I have no idea how much it actually used, but I’m guessing an average skein would be pretty close. The finished project measures approximately 24″ x 24″.

The Pattern

Chain 75.

  1. Ch 3 (first time only), [sk 1 ch, dc next ch] 12 times, ch 1, [sc, ch 2, sk 1, tc, ch 2] 6 times, ch 2, sc, ch 1, [sk 1, dc] to end (12 dc), ch 3, turn.
  2. [dc in ch sp, 3 dc next ch sp] 5 times, dc next ch sp, ch 1, sc, [ch 1, tc in sc, ch 1, sc in tc] 6 times, ch 1, tc in last sc, ch 1, sc top of next dc, ch 1, [dc in ch sp, 3 dc next ch sp] 5 times, dc again in last sp, ch 3, turn.
  3. [tc top of single dc, ch 2, sc top of middle dc in set of three, ch 2] 5 times, tc top of next dc, ch 2, [dc next ch sp, ch 1] 16 times, dc top of sc, ch 1, dc in next dc, ch 2, [sc top of middle dc in set of three, ch 2, tc top of single dc, ch 2] 5 times, ch 1, dc in last ch sp, ch 3, turn.
  4. [sc top of tc, ch 2, tc top of sc, ch 2] 5 times, sk 1 ch sp, [dc ch sp, 3dc next ch sp] 8 times, dc next ch sp, ch 2, [tc top of sc, ch 2, sc top of tc, ch 2] 5 times, dc last ch sp, ch 3, turn.

Repeat rows 1-4 11 more times, for 12 sets.

Repeat row 1.

(The border pattern is snitched from here.)

Without tying off, sc as evenly as possible around the edges, working 3 sc in each corner. When you get back to the corner where you began the sc, sl st, then [ch 3, dc in same st, sk 2 st, sl st] around, adjusting as needed at the corners. Finish off.

I made a headband to match using My Merry Messy Life’s pattern.

3colbb-hairband

June 2015 Update Letter

June 2015 Update Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Since it is already the sixth month, and I’m horribly behind on update letters, I’ll just cover this year so far.

In January, Nate turned 15. He is currently about 6’2” – which is the same as his paternal grandfather. Everyone in our house has to look UP at him!

In February, I turned 44 – love the symmetry of that! Also, we got 10” of snow! The kids were very excited about it, and it lasted a couple days, so they got to really enjoy it! The nice thing about the south is that it didn’t stay on the roads at all, really; by 10am they were easy to drive on, if not completely clear.

In March, Sarah Ruth turned six, making her old enough to sit in a regular car seat, which made her very happy! She still uses the built-in car seat in my car, but isn’t legally required to. It’s hard to believe it’s been six years already! She’s a little princess.

sarahthenandnow2015

And with that birthday, for the first time in almost 22 years, we have nobody under 6 in the house. It’s different!

Also in March, we discovered Khan Academy – an internet-based learning system that teaches math, primarily, and has courses also in art, science, and history. I decided that it might be fun to learn Geometry (I never took it in high school) and signed up. When I got to where it was confusing me more often than not, I got the idea to start at the very beginning and see how fast I could get through the elementary math. I got through the K-2 in an hour, the 3rd grade in another hour, 4th grade took a couple days, 5th grade took about a week, 6th grade another week or so, 7th grade took about a month, and I’m still working on 8th grade – I didn’t realize how much math I’d forgotten (or never bothered to learn, as my focus in school was more on words). I’m really enjoying learning, though!

In April, Bobby turned 22. He also was awarded a scholarship to the University of Alabama, Huntsville, which he will be using Fall 2016. He finished his second consecutive semester at Northeast Alabama Community College with a 4.0, making his cumulative GPA 3.813 so far. He’s taking summer classes in order to be where he wants to be before transferring to UAH.

In May, Timmy graduated from high school! He’s the third to graduate from our homeschool, and we have three to go. He intends to take some classes at NACC in the fall. We were delighted to have Rachel and my parents in attendance for Timmy’s graduation, and took the opportunity to get a family picture.

familypic-20150516

Speaking of classes, Rachel has decided she would like to become a Deaf Interpreter, and is looking into taking classes this fall, as well. 🙂

Also, in May, I won a gift card at a local branch of our bank. I rarely win things, so that was fun! And, Robby’s parents invested in a new-to-them vehicle, and agreed to sell us their ‘old’ one. I put old in quotes because it is newer than any of our other vehicles! We are very thankful they were willing to do that.

On Memorial Day, our church held a cookout, and it was a lot of fun! The kids did big bubbles, the adults (and some of the bigger kids) played horseshoes, and there were a couple balls for the kids to kick around or play catch with, too. There was a lot of good food, and we had a great turnout! It started at 10:00AM, but we were a bit late. On the way there, we passed an RV by the side of the road. We stopped to see if they needed help. Turned out, they had a flat tire. Robby called around and found that nobody was open – it was Memorial Day, after all! So he, Bobby, and Nate stayed to help the guy change his tire while I took the younger kids on to church (Timmy was already there).

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We went to two other graduation celebrations this last month. A lot of my friends’ children are getting into graduating age now! Funny how that happens, isn’t it? One of them was held at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. We had never been, except at Christmas to drive through and see the lights, so we had no idea how neat a place it really is! I was able to purchase a membership using money I got for some writing I do online, and we fully intend to make good use of it while it lasts!

Also, Nate has a sort of summer job, taking care of the weed-eating of the lawn of a friend at church who is unable to tend to it himself. We take him over there every other week so he can trim the edges and corners. He enjoys the work, and likes getting a little pocket money occasionally. He is using some of it to maintain a prepaid cell phone, which he enjoys using mainly to text Rachel.

We were given a little rectangular pool (the 4-foot by 6-foot, 18” deep kind) that is set up in the driveway, and the kids enjoy playing in it when it’s hot out.

John Luke is the only one I haven’t really mentioned. He has mostly finished 3rd grade (he’s just finishing up the math). He’s a good helper around the house and likes to cook.

Sam – the redbone coonhound – is now about eight years old. He’s a very good dog, and is starting to get white around the muzzle. He gets annoyed at the cat (oh, in case you hadn’t heard, we got a cat late last year) when he tries to play with him. We got the cat (Scout) when he was about five months old, and he is just over a year now. We have really enjoyed having a cat again, even though he isn’t the hunter we’d hoped he’d be.

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Robby’s sister, who is a graphic designer by trade, created an ad for us this week that we plan to put up in the store windows of some of our customers. Hopefully, this will help to increase our business and allow us to pay off debt and get our bills ahead a little.

All in all, it’s been a very nice year so far. God is good, and we are blessed!

I hope that you are blessed, as well.

Think it Through

Think it Through

Like a bushel of acid-dipped feathers released into the wind, so are thoughtless words: never to be fully retrieved and each causing damage to the surface on which it lands. This damage may be irreparable; one might never know the final result of some of the strewn pieces.

One would think after 43 years of life (most of that with the ability to talk), I would have figured this out. Unfortunately, with the speed of the internet, I still have (too many) times when my fingers start typing without my brain in gear and I say/post something and don’t realize until later just how it sounds – “later” usually being when the person to whom I sent it (or someone else in the thread, if it’s public) says something about it.

I have, however, discovered that attempting to explain myself generally only makes things worse, especially if I do so while still feeling deeply embarrassed at my faux pas. Unfortunately, simply apologizing is also usually ineffective, as the other person often feels (or, maybe, it appears to me, in my admittedly oversensitive state at that moment, that he or she feels) that my apology is insufficient to atone for my error.

Perhaps it would be wise to step back from technology and go back to pen and paper – where it takes more time to put into words one’s thoughts.

I think part of my problem, personally, is that I try to follow the saying on the “rules of men” that I saw on the internet several times – the one that says, “If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.” If someone says something to me (in text, which has no vocal cues) that appears it could be snarky or sarcastic, I generally choose to take it at face value instead, whenever possible. Perhaps that means I miss some genuinely snarky or sarcastic moments that would be indicators that I had done something to offend, and missing that could mean I also miss my opportunity to make it right.

I tend to be rather gullible and face-value in most cases. If you have a problem with me, I’d really rather you just say so, because if I haven’t apologized for whatever I did to offend you, chances are that I don’t even realize I offended you and you are not helping either of us by not telling me. If you tell me, I can do my best to make it right with you, AND it may help me to stop myself from offending someone else in the same manner.

Back to School

Back to School

We started back to school this morning. It doesn’t look the same for us as it does for some, as we homeschool. Sarah did a lesson in reading and worked some math problems. The boys had curriculum to work with. We also took time to visit with friends. No, not everything got done that I’d hoped; but we made a start, and that’s what counts, right?

First Fiction Friday of 2015

First Fiction Friday of 2015

I asked my kids for words… they gave me the following:
word, chivalrous, peanut butter, Yoshi, pony
So what follows is what I came up with from those words.

The light brown pony, who was just about the same color as peanut butter, stood chewing calmly by the fence as he watched the other ponies play in the corral. He wasn’t in with them because his leg was still healing. He had broken it attempting to jump a cliff like Yoshi, and, like Yoshi, he missed while his rider managed to leap off and land on the other side. It was surprising that he only had a simple break that was easy to set.

His attention was drawn to his primary rider, who had just dismounted and stepped out of the corral. He joined his sweetheart, who had been awaiting him near the gate. In a characteristic chivalrous act, he opened the barn door and allowed her to precede him into the dim interior. As the door swung shut behind them, the word “beautiful” floated out to tickle the pony’s ears.

Running, Running

Running, Running

Along the path I daily tread
From morning until time for bed,
Step by step, a couple rungs,
A burst of speed, refill my lungs,
I watch the path as it goes by.
The end will get here, if I try…
Keep pressing on, yard by yard,
Some steps easy, some steps hard.
It seems a mile, or maybe two,
I draw along th’entire crew,
‘Til at long last, I stop to rest,
Lift up my head from off my chest.
I look around – to my chagrin,
I see the hamster-wheel I’m in.

-Dawn Harvey, 9/29/2014

“Just Kidding”

“Just Kidding”

Proverbs 26:18-19 KJV: As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

Or, to put it in today’s language:

As a psycho who throws molotov cocktails, shoots bullets, and causes death, so is the one who tells a lie and then says, “Just kidding!”

When I was a kid, I was an exceptionally trusting type (still am, to a large degree, but not as much as I was then). This made me a target for the type of person the verses above describe. I can’t tell you how many times people told me things then laughed at how gullible I was.

To those of you who do this, let me give you the perspective of the other side.

See, people like me believe you, and trust you, the first time you tell us something that isn’t true. You then proceed to laugh and ridicule us for believing you. While slightly more wary, we will often trust you a second time, since we have a hard time believing people aren’t trustworthy at first. But once you’ve ridiculed us for TRUSTING you twice, most of us will then stop believing you.

Completely.

Since you made it quite clear that we were stupid to believe your lies, we are taught BY YOU that you are not trustworthy, and we should assume anything you say is a lie that is meant to bring us to further ridicule.

At this point, you start getting annoyed with us for NOT believing you, when you are telling the truth. But, think about it – how would we KNOW? You acted like you were telling the truth the other times, too, only to say “just kidding” and laugh at us for believing you.

If you are the type who likes to do this sort of “joking,” may I strongly recommend that you think twice before the next time you are about to lie to someone, and then ridicule their trust in you?

Books and Movies

Books and Movies

tvI love books. I’ve loved books ever since I began reading at 2-and-a-half years old. There is a recent trend in which famous books are being made into movies. (Case in point: The Hobbit, which is currently playing in my living room.)

What I can’t figure out is why they bother naming the movie the same as the book, when it is obviously “loosely based” (at best) on the book, and not an actual depiction of the actual events and characters in the book. The Hobbit and its predecessors, The Lord of the Rings movies, are the closest to the book of many, but even these are more their own stories than they are J.R.R. Tolkien’s. Much is left out (obviously, it would be impossible to include EVERYTHING or it would be a six- or seven-movie series rather than one movie) and, more unfortunately, things are added.

Most of these books are SO GOOD in their own right, that adding things is really not necessary to make a good movie. We don’t NEED extra violence, or extra stupidity, or extra humor. What is already there is fine!

Of course, there is also the fact that there is no way that a movie can compete with the human imagination. Sometimes I wonder if the movie makers have ever even READ the book. The layouts are often incorrect, characters have the wrong hair color or style, the wrong eye color, maybe even the wrong skin color!

This is not to say I dislike movies, nor that I think they should stop making movies of books. I just think they should either try to match the book better, or stop saying that the movie is the story in the book, when it so obviously is not.

Reverse

Reverse

You hear it everywhere these days. “It’s reverse discrimination!” “That’s reverse racism.”

No.

Discrimination, according to dictionary.com, is “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.”

Racism, from the same source, is “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.”

Note that neither is specific regarding which thing or ‘race’ is affected. This is because it applies regardless of who or what is affected. If a Mexican person is trying to put down a Chinese person, that’s racism. If an olive-skinned person treats a person badly simply because they have reddish skin, then that’s discrimination.

There is no such thing as “reverse” of either of these. If it’s discrimination, it’s discrimination, plain and simple. And if it’s racism, then it’s racism, plain and simple.

July Update Letter 2013

July Update Letter 2013

Dear Friends & Family, July 15, 2013

It’s been four and a half months since my last update letter (sorry!). A lot has happened in that time!

MARCH

In March, my oldest daughter became my second graduate. We had a full ceremony followed by a reception for her. She gave a speech, which she also did in American Sign Language for our Deaf friends that attended. We are very proud of her, as she overcame a lot of difficulties to reach this milestone.

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At the end of March, Sarah turned 4! She was very excited about it, too. She loves to tell people she’s four.

APRIL

April began with Bobby’s birthday – he is now 20! Our first to be out of his teens.

Me, counted to 20 with Sarah: “That’s how old Bobby is today.”
Bobby: “I’m old.”
Sarah: “REALLY old!”

MAY

For Mother’s Day, Bobby spent several hours deep-cleaning in the living room and kitchen. That boy knows what his mom likes!

At the end of May, my mom & Dusty came to visit and to pick up Rachel, who was going to stay with her and help in her church’s VBS. My mom & Dusty went out of town on vacation with her brother for two weeks, so Rae was there to feed the pets and watch the house. She decided she likes it there and plans to stay indefinitely. We miss her!

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JUNE

In June, we got the delightful news that Rachel accepted Christ as her Saviour! We were thrilled to hear it! There is no greater joy to a parent’s heart than to know that the children will be spending eternity in Heaven.

The first weekend in June, Bobby & I attended a science-fiction show convention in Huntsville (primarily Doctor Who, if you have heard of it). He dressed as one of the characters. It was a lot of fun! We got to meet one of the actresses for the show.

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Also in June, Timmy began taking piano lessons. He is doing very well so far.

JULY

We were able to take a trip to South Carolina over Independence Day weekend, and were able to spend a couple of days there with Rachel. It was very nice! We got to visit with my brother & his family while we were there. We also stopped by our campsite in Dahlonega, briefly, but it rained all week, so we chose not to try to camp.

We switched our cell phones to Verizon from AT&T, but kept the same numbers, so if you have our numbers, don’t worry! They’re the same.

Robby’s sister & her husband are here visiting (here in Scottsboro, not here at my house) as I type this. It is great to get to see them and spend some time with Renee & Joey. He is preaching at our church while they’re here, and they have also done some special music and Renee taught in children’s church.

Speaking of special music, Bobby surprised everyone Sunday night. Timmy arranged to sing a special (“Sweet Beulah Land“), and was joined on stage by Bobby and the violin he has been teaching himself to play for the last few months.

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Summer here has been quite mild so far, only getting into the 90s rather than the hundreds being suffered in other areas, and we are thankful for that! I hope that you are doing well. God bless you!

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