blogging madness, Humility is important, Uncategorized

Honestly Inconsistent.

Show me a person who is sure, certain and comfortable with everything they ever think or do and you’ll show me someone I am not particularly interested in spending very much time with.

Honesty and inconsistency are actually not strange bedfellows.

I can read two posts here on any given day and find thoughts or ideas which seem to conflict with each other. I used to be slightly alarmed by this, particularly when there was a hit to a link that seemed to clash with an idea I just posted; almost as if someone was looking for it.

Once I took the time to think about it, however, the concern dissipated. It dissipated because anyone who is honestly striving, working, and occasionally stumbling on the journey of life will sometimes fall short of their ideals. The spirit is always warring against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit. Toss in the natural *stuff* that goes on in my very feminine psyche, and if I didn’t know me, left to judge based only on posts on my own blog, I might think I was a little bonkers.

Or I would, if I hadn’t figured out that best behavior Elspeth and not-so-best behavior Elspeth are both still Elspeth. The me who is full of myself one day is the same me who is humbled the next by the love of God or my husband, or the difficulty of trying to properly educate two children with very different personalities.

I once heard this from a mostly forgettable preacher, except he said one thing was pretty unforgettable. He talked about what he called “The Four You’s”, even though he followed it by rattling off five categories. They are:

  • The you that you think you are
  • The you that others think you are
  • The you that you want to be
  • The you that others want you to be
  • The you that you really are (and whom only God really knows)

Every one of us, whether we realize or acknowledge it, are navigating our lives through the prisms of these versions of ourselves. As we grow and mature, their intersections should be frequent and the tensions should gradually fade into one another. To those in our inner circles, these are almost seamless. The farther you pan out, however, the more the distinctions emerge; sometimes out of a necessity that is good and healthy, and sometimes without us even noticing.

The things we do, the way we speak to others, the decisions we make about what we will and will not do? These behaviors should be externally consistent, and for most ethical, moral, honest people, they are. None of that however, diminishes the internal tension, the struggles, the questions, the *stuff* that we all wrestle with on the inside.

When I look back over the things I’ve written, I am at ease, for example, with the contradictions between my internal feelings of mundaneness and the oft-stated expression of others that I might be in some way extraordinary. The “me that others think I am” or the “me that others want me to be” don’t cancel out the “me that I think I am”, or the “me I want to be”.

All of those Elspeths are reflected here. These words are an outpouring of the ambiguity that is the struggle between being, doing, and finding the balance. Maturity, I am learning, requires a fairly high tolerance for ambiguity.

Despite my many imperfections, there are some things about me that others have found commendable. These are simply two parallel truths[1]. One of the great regrets of my tenure writing this way in this forum is my naivete regarding the ability of people (including me at times), to appreciate nuances and unspoken realities that I assumed went without saying. I now know, and shall never forget, that nothing does.

There is only One Good, Perfect Being who has all His spit together, and I’m fine admitting that it ain’t me.

“…if you haven’t stood before God and been confused, you’re probably not standing before the real God”~ Steve Brown

[1] My favorite theologcal quote concerning the realty of truth in parallel lines can be found here.

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Video killed the radio star

So much to say, so little time. This is worth every second of your 5-6 minutes. Trust me. Read, be blessed, go live.

Outside the boxes.

Hearth's Rose Garden

One of the questions that always bugs the modern is, “when did we stop dressing properly?”  My dad had the answer for this one, he said it started when TV came along.  At that point, our fellow humans were no longer our entertainment source, the box in our living room was.   He says he can remember the change, and how quickly it began.

I’m not on a rant about entertainment and socialization, because I use my glowing boxes as much as the next person.  But it’s interesting…. and what interests me is the division in our society between the Viewer and the Viewed, and how it’s crept into so many parts of our lives.

One of the things that I get when I go out in a long, full skirt is someone coming up to my shyly to compliment me on my “dress”.  That’s nice, of course… but when I…

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How we can enjoy what we do, no matter what it is.

This was originally published in 2009. Our youngest was still an infant at the time. It has not been edited to account for life changes or time lapsed.

This morning, as I was on the elliptical machine for the first time in over two months, praying that I could get through the intense workout without experiencing cardiac arrest, I was thinking about a conversation I recently shared with a friend. We talked about how hard our husbands work to take of our families, sometimes doing work that they wouldn’t choose if making enough money to provide for growing families wasn’t their primary consideration. I started to contemplate this rather modern way of thinking: that one has to love his or her job in order to be happy doing it.

In times past, when life wasn’t as convenient, and working the land was an integral part of survival, I wondered how often anyone stopped to consider whether or not they enjoyed their work. If they spent long hours agonizing over their wasted talents or if they were simply thankful for the health and strength to do what needed to be done. We live in a media savvy, technologically advanced society, constantly bombarded with images of everything we don’t have, haven’t done, or might accomplish. A world where the idea of NOT doing something that we love is almost tantamount to being oppressed. I should rephrase that. I should have said we live in a world where not getting PAID for doing what we love is tantamount to being oppressed.

But what if life really is all about doing what we need to, even if it isn’t glamorous? Can we experience joy in the common, daily doings of our lives? Much of my life is characterized by doing the same thing day after day, several days a week. I woke up this morning, read my Bible, prayed, started the coffee maker, exercised, showered, dropped off the big kids, greeted the husband, made and served breakfast, dressed the kids, kissed the husband goodbye, cleaned the kitchen, made the bed (which the littles promptly jumped up and down on), read to the kids, looked at elephant photos and colored elephant pictures (E is the letter of the week), went outside to play, came back in, cleaned up toys, prepared and served lunch, cleaned up the mess, put the littles down for nap, etc. You get the picture. Barring some unforeseen event, the first half of my day will be exactly the same tomorrow, with a few slight variations. To feel the joy in the dailyness of life is a necessity for me, wouldn’t you agree?

I am grateful to be at home serving my family and raising my children. I believe it’s what I’ve been called to. I love it- most of the time. But some days, it’s hard. An introverted book lover with a houseful of kids can feel overwhelmed from time to time. Many of the things that interested me when I was younger have been pushed aside as I am in the trenches of wife and motherhood, where most of my time and attention are directed, and rightly so. Should I feel like life is passing me by?

I wonder how many of us have embraced dreams, desires, and aspirations, telling ourselves that they are no less than the will of God for our life. God wants us to be happy. He wouldn’t want us to neglect our talents and sacrifice our dreams on something as common as duty. We are supposed to be living our best, purpose driven lives now. In my case, and this is probably the case with most believers today, we have clung to our personal dreams, desires and aspirations for so long that we aren’t open to the possibility that they may not be what God destined for us at all. We have taken our demands to God in prayer and said, “This is what I want to do God, work with it, please.” The clay is telling the Potter what it is and is not willing to become.

I am a dreamer. I still dream of writing a book someday. I have dreams for my children, my family, and my future. I am not discounting the power of having a passionate vision. If it seems that I am saying we should kill our dreams, I’m not. That isn’t my intent. Dreams are wonderful, when they spring from the right heart.

Psalm 37 is a fascinating passage of Scripture. In a world where everyone is trying to sell us something to make our lives better, where the mantra of dissatisfaction screams at us from every billboard, magazine cover, and TV and radio advertisement, this passage offers the antidote to the problem of chronic discontentment. The morale of the passage is not to be fooled by the prosperity of those who rail against the truth. The key to finding peace of mind is to corral our thoughts. In the midst of all the admonishments is encouragement concerning the desires of our hearts, and how to receive them:

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

In recent years I have come to view this Scripture very differently from the way it has been traditionally been recited and preached. Most times the verse is ripped out of context and applied to any and every earthly, material vision we have for our lives: When we delight ourselves in Him, God will give us the desires of our hearts. I think it might just as easily or more accurately mean that God will literally give our hearts the desires they should have. He will give us the desires of our hearts. When our desires are given to us by God, and we delight ourselves in Him, we can be happy doing anything.

I believe that God is glorified when we do even the mundane things as unto Him. And certainly He is glorified when we use our gifts and talents in service to Him, whether we get paid for them or not. If we can get paid for them, so much the better. The most important thing is the motivation of our hearts.

Common sense, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, Uncategorized

Monday!!! – or – the week, on purpose

This is a good reminder and strategy for moving forward after the holiday madness ends. So I’m reblogging it.

BAY boxwood

Happy Monday!  I hope you’re well and off to a great start this week!

We had an active weekend – I use “active” on purpose, because we weren’t merely busy, we were doing fun things, running kids to different activities, hanging out at the house, discussing Thanksgiving plans, cooking a slow Sunday supper.  It was good – loosely planned,  edited as necessary.  Way better than busy – in fact, I detest being busy.  I enjoy active, though.

I don’t do particularly well with a rigid list of to-do’s, particularly since I’m a recovering over-scheduler (read: busy work maker) and even after 20+ years in Houston, I do not have a grasp on the reality of the relentless traffic.  Every hour is rush hour, here, and somewhere between errands 3 and 4 things go off the rails, timing wise.  Still, an outline is necessary, because I have goals, and people who…

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el's rabbit trails, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, real living in a virtual world, things that make me go hmm...., Uncategorized

Parting Shots…

I’m going to take a holiday centered break from here beginning November 1st until after the Thanksgiving break. I fervently hope to be able to enter the Advent season with a relaxed mind and a focus on commemorating Christ’s advent into the earth. That means a lot of planning and shopping need to get done now so that I have the freedom to do that.

This is similar to a Frivolous Friday post, but in a more stream of consciousness vein.

~ Growing up:  This past Saturday SAM and I attended the homegoing celebration for the widow of a man from his childhood neighborhood. This man, an electrician, noticed when he was a little boy that SAM had a unique sense of how things worked, and a mechanically inclined mind. He would take him with him to electrical jobs and show him the ropes. Incidentally, we have lived in this house for a long time, have never called an electrician, and not because we’ve never had an electrical problem. The man’s door was always open to SAM and his brothers, and they came and went in his house, and this woman’s refrigerator just as if they were her kids. Her children had the same freedom at SAM’s parents’ house.

The interesting thing about occasions like that one is how strange it is to see people you haven’t laid eyes on in 20 or more years. Many of them I knew from the days pulling my beat up powder blue ’89 Ford Escort up to SAM’s parents’ house at the beginning of our relationship. It’s funny how people you think you’ll be connected to forever sort gradually fade from view as you build a family and grow into a separate person than the one you were when they knew you when. It has a surreal quality to it even as you are so happy to know that they are all alive and well. I can remember when I used to wonder how I lost touch with so and so. Now I know it’s just the way life is.

~ More surreality: I am not a person who hears from God directly as some do, but I had an eery experience recetnly.

I have tiered friendships. There are the couple of women I speak to on an ongoing basis. The ones I immediately pick up the phone to call or shoot a quick text to ask for prayer. There are others I see weekly (and have for years) as a result of our kid connections.

Then there are the friends I connect with maybe a few times a year: holidays, birthdays, etc. I can literally go months without speaking to them and out of the blue one of us will call or text the other and say, “Just thinking of you, friend. Love ya.” I woke up Saturday after having a dream about such a friend and her family. I hadn’t connected with her with since March. I didn’t call her right away, but I did pray for her. I was pretty busy so I shot her a text Sunday, to which she replied, “Oh my gosh…this was right on time!”, and preceded to tell me what challenging blow her family was dealt just last week.

It was definitely one of those things that made me sit up and take notice.

~ Brazen: I shared a story with Hearth (and another friend) the other day which sent us off on a very funny text conversation about a subject that isn’t particularly funny. Namely, the realtively shameless way many women comport themselves for the attentions of married men.

It’s not particularly shocking to me, since I don’t live under a rock, but it certainly puts to death this notion of the so-called sisterhood that feminists and masculinists try to put forth as a real thing. What sisterhood there are between women are not about being of the same sex. If it was, certain things wouldn’t be a thing at all.

I have a much greater respect for the woman who said to my husband a couple of weeks ago: “I know you’re off the market, but if you have a brother -or even a friend- who is available, set something up for me. I know your circle must some good men in it.” His circle does have some good men in it. Most of those old enough for her are already taken, though.

~Another day, another diet: So I’ve been flirting with the idea of the keto diet off and on for months. I haven’t been able to bring myself to bite the bullet on it, though, mainly because it’s the kind of thing for which there are no margins. I like margins. There is such a thing as too wide margins, and I know something about those as well. But NO margins? That’s daunting.

Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a go. I, as usual, could certainly stand to lose a few pounds. I’m always wrestling with the same 25. Up and down, up and down. But one of my overwhelming reasons for considering this is the pain I have been battling since I injured myself in late summer trying to impress the man with the heavy duty work I could get accomplished. He was impressed, but unhappy with my lack of priortizing my health.

Apparently something about keto affects the body in a way that relieves pain. I’ll let you know next month how I do with it. My bullet proof coffee this morning was delicious.

~App-oholic update:  So the man got me a new phone, because he just figured I needed one. The old one wasn’t broken. It just had a crappy camera and was always notifying me that I was about to run out of space.

The space problem was more about music, un-deleted text streams, and the myriad pictures and random kid videos that I never bother to transfer, but compared to his phone with years of information and 5 times as much music, mine was a relic. So he replaced it.

About a year ago, I went on right here about my increasing dependence on apps for things I would have found ridiculous a couple of years ago. Ahem. Since I got this phone, my app usage has gone up, not down.  Not only do I have the apps I mentioned before, but I’ve added even more: a HIIT trainer, parallel Bible app, and a put my WordPress app back on there. Oh yes, my Target Cartwheel app. I get a perverse pleasure out of that little cha-ching sound they text me when I combine a cartwheel discount with my red card savings. My husband added Spotify and Letgo because I need a classified app on my phone, I guess?

In other words, I’m wading in apps again. I figured I should confess it since I feel a little wormy about it. And I don’t even have Facebook!

So…this is the view from the rock bottom of app-oholic mountain.

I’ll be around a bit because wordpress app, but I don’t anticipate posting anymore before December. If you’re already well underway with your holiday preparations, do share!

 

 

 

el's rabbit trails, healthy living, Kitchen tips, Uncategorized

Breakfast of champions

20171025_072917
You have to try this!

I thoroughly enjoyed our quick and delicious breakfast this morning so I thought I’d lighten things up by sharing it here.

I visited with my sister this weekend and when I arrived there was a show on the Food network where the hosts were sharing new, different, and delectable things to mix into your morning oatmeal.  One of the ideas was titled “Carrot Cake Oatmeal”, and I was inspired to try it. I didn’t use the recipe of the television chef, which you can find here, but it was my inspiration. This recipe served 8.

I prepared 3 cups of old-fashioned oats using the standard 2:1 water to oats cooking method, with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the water. To the oats I added:

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 large carrots, peeled and shredded

3/4 cups chopped pecans

chopped candied bacon (optional)

vanilla yogurt (optional)

I cooked the oatmeal with the carrots maple, and spices in it, then topped it with more carrots, the pecans, chopped candied bacon, and a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Not everyone in our house eats bacon, or wanted the pecans or yogurt, so I did what we generally do here, and lined all the toppings up on the counter for each person to top their yogurt the way they liked. A couple of people added butter and brown sugar as well since I made the recipe to suit my husband’s preference for “not too sweet”.

There are lots of ways to spice up your oatmeal, and since the temperatures are dropping, there’s no time like now to liven up your oats.

 

American identity, cultural absurdity, Uncategorized

Exaggerations

One of the wonderful things about interacting with lots of different people -alongside the juxtaposition of virtual interactions- is that you get a sense of reality that is refreshingly distant from the narratives of media and online memes. Our daughter shared something with me last night that she heard somewhere else. Namely this:

‘The Internet is an exaggeration.”

I would add to this that the media is also a bastion of exaggeration. I often say this, and it’s true: There is no money to be made from happy, anxiety-free people.

That occurred to me this morning as I scanned the articles in my reader. It’s not as if I didn’t already know this, but there is clearly an antagonism and earnestness online over minutiae that one rarely encounters in the flesh. That is of course, unless the minutiae at hand is in important to someone.  In which case, it isn’t really minutiae, but you get my meaning.

This is where the media gets in on it, by finding the one child in 10,000 who died from some rare disorder and producing a 10-minute feature segment on it which tugs at the heart strings. To raise awareness. And anxiety, based on an exaggerated fear.

Another daughter noted that Richard Spencer will be in our neck of the woods very soon and that the governor has declared a state of emergency in the city where he will be speaking. This news gave me a sense of how easy it is for the self-proclaimed awake among us to usher the exaggerations from the airwaves and digital superhighway into stark reality.

Thankfully, for all the consternation from those on both the left and the right about the ignorant masses (I’ve been guilty of this myself), I couldn’t help but be somewhat thankful that the majority of Americans are too occupied with Facebook, Game of Thrones and daily life to really care much about these things. The reason American news is so filled with fluff and infotainment is precisely because most Americans have pretty much tuned them out.  They are trying desperately and unsuccessfully to draw the people back in but the people are occupied with other amusements and their own daily existence.

This is not without its drawbacks, but it’s not without its virtues either. Not being consumed with or even attentive to all of this fear baiting means taking the people that they encounter from day to day at face value, embracing or dismissing them on the merits of their interactions, and individual knowledge of their characters. It isn’t so much that we don’t know we’re divided, what divides us, or that trust levels are at an all-time low.

It’s just that the extroversion which characterizes the majority of human personalities -making Facebook, It, and the latest NFL kerfuffle more worthy of attention- also inherently appreciates the commonality of the human experience.

They’re leaving the debates, paranoia and arguing over minutiae to us introverts in the minority, who fancy ourselves awake, standing guard on the walls of Western Civilization as if we can save it from its just desserts, so that it escapes the fate of every other decadent and perverse empire in history. The 50 or so people who read here are pretty sharp, but for those who don’t know it: God is not mocked.

So be aware, but also look for, enjoy, and embrace the beauty in life; in all the ways and people through whom God expresses it.

 

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My most Frivolous Friday yet…

I am, to put it mildly, a lover of love songs. Yeah, it’s girly, and corny, and all that. I know, but I love love songs. Every once in a while during the day I even send my husband one and when he gets around to actually listening to it -a few hours after I send it- it makes for a cool conversation or moment later.

I figured I’d make a list of my favorites this Frivolous Friday. I’m not going to embed videos of all of them. Most will be linked, and only my favorites will be embedded.

My Top 10 favorites love songs, (in no particular order).

!0. Unchained Melody, by the Righteous Brothers. I know Elvis did one as well, but I really prefer controlled singing, and this is exactly that. I wasn’t even alive when this was recorded.

9. Forever Mine, by the O’Jays. I think I embedded the video to this one in a comment section once before.

8. Trouble Sleeping, by Corine Bailey Rae. This one is a little more upbeat, but I still like it. It reminds me of the time I was coming to terms with the fact that I was falling for my guy.

7. I believe in you and me, by Whitney Houston. I listen to a lot of songs and think, “Yeah, well all of it but THAT part.” There isn’t much here that makes me think that. Gonna embed this one:

6. Charlene, by Anthony Hamilton. Just as blue pill as it gets, but I like it and the R &B lover in me thinks the music is just the right amount of senual.

5. The Way I Am, by Ingrid Michaelson. Don’t know why I like this one so much, but I do.

4. Thinking Out Loud, by Ed Sheeran. If you have even one romantic bone in your body, then you know why I like this song. But, for informational purposes, the song that is one of the most heavily requested first dance wedding songs of 2017:

3. Crazy Love, by Brian McKnight. This one was released the year we got married. It was sweet then, and it’s sweet now.

2. Inseparable, by Natalie Cole. This short song is sweet and well, I just like it. I think actually remember hearing it when I was little. I was 4 years old when this was released.

1.Loving You, by Minnie Riperton. This is that perfect combination of sexy and romantic innocence. Not to mention her range. Makes me question if I really can even sing at all. I should put a content advisory. Eh, whatever. Who hasn’t heard this song before already? I was 3 years old when this one was released.

 

 

 

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Public Service Announcement

Hearth's Rose Garden

You can wear whatever you want.

Somewhere, right now, there is a man wearing a dress and five pounds of makeup reading books to small children in a public library.

You think you’re “too fancy”?  You think you’re “too girly”?  You think your outfit is a little “too out-there”?   Compared to whom, exactly?  Are there any conventions left?  No?  Then let’s take the cards we were dealt and win the game.

You’re a woman.  Get dressed.

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Date the frog, not the prince?

I just ran across this and thought it was a curious article. I guess I’ll put a poll at the bottom. No commentary to add as of yet.

Date the frog, not the prince begins:

The secret to long-lasting love could be as simple as dating a frog instead of a prince.

Relationships are more likely to be successful when the woman is paired up with a less attractive man, according to a new study.

After listing the criteria for the study, they offered this analysis:

The study had “Beauty and the Beast” results — women were happier with less genetically blessed hubbies, who compensated in the relationship with acts of kindness, including giving gifts, sexual favors or completing extra housework, according to Esquire UK.

“The husbands seemed to be basically more committed, more invested in pleasing their wives when they felt that they were getting a pretty good deal,” the study said.

Meanwhile, women who had hot husbands were found to more likely obsess over exercising and dieting in an effort to be slim.

“The results reveal that having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive,” said Tania Reynolds, an FSU psychology doctoral student.

I should probably just add a category tag titled, “things that make me go hmmm…”