Archive for September, 2010

That’s My Boys!!

It’s Time.

It took ‘em eleven long years, but it finally happened.  And now…it’s time!  Time for the AL West Division Champions flag to wave over Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Time for the Texas Rangers to continue their season beyond 162 games.  Time for Rangers fans to take the paper bags off our heads, shake the dust off our rally towels, and prepare for a Red October.  Time to become a full-fledged, unapologetic, card-carrying member of the “Claw and Antlers Club”.  Time for Dallas sports fans to have real choices about what to watch in the month of October.

In the words of a former Dallas sports icon, it’s time to “get your popcorn ready.” (wrong sport, but whatever.)

Because the Rangers did it.  They squeezed the very breath out of our lungs in the process, but they did it.  In a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum, the Rangers clinched the division.  The magic number is now ZERO.  The remaining three teams in the division all have big E’s under the “Games Back” column, and the Texas Rangers have a little “y” next to their name.

The Rangers are post-season bound, baby!!  It’s time.

And I think it’s time, too, for a look back at this magical season.  Congratulations, Rangers!!

Remembering

September 23, 1997…the day I buried my father.

So I guess it’s fitting, then, that today was our annual “Day of Remembering.”  As usual, we met at Restland for the traditional placing of the flowers and taking of the photos:

9-23-10 Dad's flowers (r)

9-23-10 Mom looking at the flowers (r)

9-23-10 Mom with the flowers (r0

We tried something new with our joint picture this time…one at the gravesite.  We’ve never done this before, and it definitely has its challenges, but we managed to get a pretty decent shot.

9-23-10 At the gravesite (r)

I’m never sure whether I should smile in these pictures or not.  I’m not totally sure what’s appropriate.  I don’t know what people will think.  But I like to think that Dad would smile at us having joy in the midst of our sorrow, still having fun without him, laughing through the heartache of missing him.  So I smile.  If for no other reason than to honor him.

And – as has become custom – Mom asks her usual hard question.  This year, her question was “If he could come back for ONE day, what would you do?”

After she assured me that she’d get her own day to spend with him, I gave my answer:

  • meet in Boston, with Matt and the kids with me
  • introduce my children to their grandfather
  • take a train to the Boston Children’s Museum, for some true “Grampa” time
  • enjoy a picnic lunch at the Boston Public Gardens, reading “Make Way for Ducklings”, taking pictures with the Mallard statues, and riding on a swan boat
  • hop a train to Fenway to watch the Red Sox win!

I couldn’t imagine a more perfect day.  But I know he can…and someday I’ll get to experience it with him.

South Beach Update: Hungering and Thirsting on the Beach

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

One of the most difficult aspects of moving to a South Beach lifestyle has been changing the way I think about food: carbs and fats in particular.  I know the Bible says “man shall not live by bread alone” but I’ve always said (albeit a bit tongue-in-cheek), “yeah, but woman can…especially THIS woman.”  Those first two weeks, when we removed ALL carbs – including the so-called “good” ones – from our diet, to detoxify and break the insulin-dependency cycle, were probably the most difficult two weeks I’ve ever experienced.  The amount of self-control and self-discipline it took each day to make the conscious choice not to break the diet, not to give in to those cravings was surprisingly staggering.  And so was the hunger.

Sure, I was eating all the time.  I was enjoying 3 squares PLUS 2 healthy snacks and a late “dessert” each day.  For those in-between times, I crunched sugar free lifesavers, downed sugar-free fudgesicles, or slurped sugar-free jello cups (not all at once, mind you).  But still, there was a little corner of my tummy that never quite felt full.  And it let me know by gnawing and rumbling and grumbling several times a day.  That little piece of me was never truly satisfied.

The hunger I experienced pales in comparison with what I witnessed in Africa.  The effects of starvation and malnutrition on little bodies are difficult to take in, even in person.  Seeing children with distended bellies, ribs and backbones outlined against their taut skin is never something you grow accustomed to.  And to see what meager amounts of food they have learned to be “satisfied” with is humbling…and shaming.

And yet, in a greater cosmic sense, even that constant, painful hunger pales in comparison to what God desires for us as His followers.  When Jesus spoke those words, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled, I’m sure there were those listening who understood the depths of hunger.  Who knew the raw pain of rationing food.  Who had faced starvation.  Jesus Himself, after enduring 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, knew what it meant to be hungry and thirsty.  And being fully God, He also knew what it meant to be satisfied.

This type of hunger and thirsting is more than just a casual snacking.  It’s more than just standing over a heavenly buffet table of scripture and grazing on those verses or passages we enjoy, those that make us feel good or that make us happy.  This type of hunger and thirsting is borne out of desperation, out of a poverty of soul and spirit, out of the desire for mere survival.  It is raw and unfettered, grasping and reaching for whatever it can get to quell the constant dissatisfaction inside.  It is a consuming pursuit, a full-out effort to satiate the emptiness within.  It is a daily struggle, a constant fight.  But the end result is sweet: satisfaction. Not a smug, told-you-so attitude.  But a filling in the empty places. A sense of enough, quieting the groaning and settling the rumbling.  That’s not just a dream.  That’s our hope.  Better yet, that’s our PROMISE.  We can count on it.

So forget the carbs.  Today, I’m hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  And you can bet I’m counting on being satisfied.

A Day to Remember

September 11.  A day that is forever etched in my consciousness.  A day that brings with it a myriad of emotions.  A day for which I am both humbled in gratitude and somber in reflection.   A day that has provoked strong responses on both ends of the emotional spectrum.  A day I remember with grief…and celebrate with joy.

September 11, 2001.  The day our peace was shattered.  A day that rocked our national consciousness.  A day that offered the ultimate wake-up call, at the cost of thousands of lives lost.  A day that galvanized our country’s resolve and stirred our patriotism from sea to shining sea.  A day we watched in horror as our countrymen – innocent people just like us, people who went to work and took early morning flights back to their families after business trips – were unwittingly targeted for the single greatest act of terrorism on our nation’s shores.  A day when we saw true heroes – from first responders to New York’s finest to courageous men and women providing aid to fallen coworkers to airline passengers who refused face certain death without a fight – literally rise from the ashes.  A day when the landscape of our country changed forever: a skyline without its signature towers, a Pennsylvania field strewn with charred wreckage, our country’s fortress of security pierced with a gaping hole.

September 11, 1964.  A day that brings me tremendous joy.  A day on which a very special life began.  A day that forever changed mine.  A day that welcomed the baby who became the boy who grew to be the man I fell in love with, married…and who eventually became the father of two precious children of his own.  A day God chose to breathe life and purpose into His child.  A day I celebrate each year as I have the privilege of sharing life with this wonderful human being.

I love you, Matt!

Thank you for sharing the gift of your life with me.

Happy birthday…and I look forward to the next “40-something” together!

Who Built the Ark?

I know the song says Brother Noah did, but after the past two days of hard rain we’ve had, I’m tempted to.

When we moved to Dallas from Miami, there were certain things I was excited to leave behind.  For example, I was glad to leave behind the days of super-high humidity and move to a more arid climate.  I looked forward to having hair days where my hair wouldn’t frizz unless I wanted it to.  I was excited to leave behind hurricane season and all the trouble of boarding up the house and taking down the awnings and securing all the equipment only to endure countless hours spent cooped up indoors, unable to see outside, playing board games and listening to the sound of rain pelt our metal window covers.

After living here for a couple decades, I’ve only got this to say:  so much for that idea.

This week, we’ve been blessed by the visiting Tropical Storm Hermine.  She’s blessed us with enough rain to fill our entire year’s quota in the 48 hours she’s been upon us.  Okay, so I exaggerate.  A little.  But not much.

Here’s the proof:  We’ve lived here for coming up on 6 years now.  And never in all that time have we seen this:

Yeah, that’s the pond across the street from our house.  This is what it looked like from our garage door:

Overflowing the banks, covering the sidewalk, flooding the street.  The spillway across the main road through our neighborhood was up over the road – a good 8 feet or more up from creek level.  And shortly after I returned home from teaching my homeschoolers, the entrance to our subdivision was blocked off by police for high water.

The question remains if the rain will stop in time for the kids to get home from school this afternoon.  Guess I better get hammering.  I’ve got an ark to build.

South Beach Update: Fried!

Howdy, Folks!  And welcome to the great State Fair of Texas!

Okay, so the State Fair doesn’t start for another 3 weeks but that doesn’t mean my taste buds aren’t already a-waterin’ with a hankerin’ for some good ol’ down-home Southern-fried treats.  And the best place to enjoy those artery-cloggin’ deep fried goodies is – you guessed it – at the State Fair.

If this transplanted Yankee has learned nothing else in the years I’ve called myself “Texan”, I can claim to fully understand this: Southerners can fry ANYTHING.  And I do mean ANYTHING.  If it grows, sows, or blows, they can fry it.  If it breathes, bleeds, or has teeths, they can fry it.  If it hops, drops, or flops, they can fry it.

Oh, and they can pickle anything, too.  But that’s a different blog post.

See, Northerners don’t FRY stuff.  They BOIL it.  They STEW it.  They ROAST it.  Have you ever heard of New England FRIED dinner?  How about a traditional New England Open-Faced FRIED Beef Sandwich?  Or better yet, how about New England Lobster FRY?  Those sound like someting on the menu at Hardee’s that should come with a large sweet tea and hash browns and pickled fried okra on the side.

But even in the South, we have our own chicken-fried heaven.  A beacon of bacon grease shining forth it’s golden light for all to see: the State Fair of Texas.  THE place to go for anything fried.

Don’t believe me?  Just check out this year’s winner of this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards: for best taste we have FRIED Frito Pie (because Frito’s are apparently not fried enough), and for most creative we have FRIED Beer.  Yes, you heard me right:  fried BEER.

Just in case you still need further proof, you can check out this post from a couple years ago, listing all the fried delicacies that were available in Big Tex’s backyard.

More than a Carpenter

It’s Labor Day weekend, which means an extra day to enjoy family time together.  So what do you do when you’re unemployed and can’t afford a weekend getaway?  You find FREE fun around town!

We took advantage of the FREE Home Depot Kids’ Club this Saturday.  The kids have done these before, but it has been awhile, so we dusted off the old orange kid-sized Home Depot aprons and headed out to our nearest Men’s Toy Store.

This month’s project was making a display shelf shaped like a football.  Both kids did a great job!

Unfortunately, my camera battery died, so I don’t have pictures of the finished project, but the kids had a blast and were so proud of their creations.  And did I mention, it was FREE?!?

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