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Monday, November 30, 2015

Rain, Freezing Rain, and Ice

That's been the weather since Thursday night. No sun, temps at the freezing mark, and every form of miserable precipitation no one would want on a four-day weekend of travel.

I have nothing to complain about. I was home from Thanksgiving dinner (with leftovers for the weekend) before the rain started, and haven't had to leave the house until this morning. I've watched the ice build up, and I've chipped it away under a gloomy sky. I'm fully stocked on vitamin D - the Sunshine Vitamin - and I'm taking it like my sanity depends on it. Which it does.

Everyone else I know and love weren't so lucky. Big Brother works holidays. Elder Brother and WGR were out and about for church. Mom and Second Dad needed a doctor visit and antibiotics during the worst of it.

I hate inclement weather. Tornadoes are my particular demon, but icy roads are a close second. I sing the same song everyone does. "I know how to drive; it's the other idiots who are the problem." Yeah, well, we're all idiots when it comes to ice on the roads. I'm grateful my commute is only 14 blocks.

I'm less grateful Solar Roadways don't exist yet.

I heard a rumor the rain ends today, and the sun comes out tomorrow. I'll believe it when I see it. At least it's above freezing.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I'm in one of those "every silver lining has a cloud" moods, but a true princess is a princess of herself regardless of her mood, and gratitude shouldn't be mood-dependent anyway.

I'm thankful that these moods pass.

I'm thankful I have a job I generally like, working with people I generally like, doing what I'm generally good at. I'm thankful I can come home at lunch to let Sweetie out and feed the cats, and that I've never had to learn that utility bills come in different colors. I'm thankful my van runs, and that Second Dad fixed the lift gate.

I'm thankful for nature. Trees, birds, insects, worms, clouds - the whole package. I'm thankful for The Swamp, even if it hates me. I'm thankful I finally figured out I like working in a garden.

I'm thankful for my family. Brothers I respect and love, sisters-in-law I like, nieces and a nephew who don't suck. Cousins who turned out really well, and all the rest. A Second Dad who does a great job with a Fourth Daughter. I'm glad we know each other. I'm thankful for Mom, but that should be obvious.

I'm thankful for God. Even when I'm so mad at Him I could spit, I can't imagine what my life would be like without Him, and I don't want to.

I'm thankful for my friends. We may not spend as much time together as we used to, or would like to, but you are all in my thoughts and prayers more often than you might think.

I'm thankful for Kerby Anderson, and Joe Christiano, and Gary Young, and Miranda Esmonde-White. They've all brought good into my life.

I'm thankful I have no human children.

I'm thankful for the books I have written. They're good, and I'm proud of them.

I'm thankful I gave up Farmville on my own.

I'm thankful I've never had to face a problem alone.

This isn't helping the mood as much as I would like, but I'm glad I did it. By tomorrow, this mood will have passed, but my thankfulness goes on.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. May all your dinners be exactly what you wanted, not what you expected.

Almost forgot. I'm thankful for The Librarians, which has become the TV equivalent of a bowl of fruit-shaped Trix for me. It just makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holy Spirit

We don't talk about Him much. He sort of gets slapped on at the end of a blessing, or honorable mention at the deity awards. Most Christian fantasy authors leave Him out altogether (kudos to Lioness for remembering Him in her Trinity). 

Who is this guy? Is He the third wheel of the Godhead? There's God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit the Uncle No One Talks About.

As far as I can tell, He's actually kind of important. From www.biblegateway.com:

John 16:6-14New American Standard Bible (NASB)But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the [a]Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 
I understand that to mean the Holy Spirit is who allows a Christian to know truth as God sees it.

When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, something supernatural happened. The Holy Spirit literally possessed me.

This is where non-believers and even a lot of Christians will roll their eyes, shuffle their feet, and either decry me as a kook and a holy-roller or try to change the topic. Sorry, guys, some things have to be said.

I'm not saying I had convulsions or spoke in Tongues or let poisonous snakes bite me. I am saying something more happened than me just making a decision and choosing to act on it the rest of my life, although that happened, too.

When I accepted Christ, I accepted the whole package. That includes God as my Father, Jesus as my Master, Savior, Redeemer, brother (this list goes on a while, so I'll stop there), and the Holy Spirit as my personal God-interpreter. The Holy Spirit sits inside me and whispers stuff, 'cause He's not a shouter. When a nasty thought comes into my mind, the Spirit nudges me. When I behave badly, the Spirit points it out (and I've found "badly" changes meaning the longer I'm in this marriage).

This interpretation works the other way, too.
Romans 8:26-27New American Standard Bible (NASB)26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [a]saints according to the will of God. 
The Spirit talks to God for us, filtering our childish ramblings into something God can understand.

I have more to say, but there's stuffing to be made this morning.

Keep the faith.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Red Pumpkin Chili

Most of the ingredients are orange, but the beets turn everything red, so I went with easy nomenclature. All amounts are approximate, 'cause I never measure anything.

2-3 cups beets, chopped
2-3 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup chicken broth (I used homemade bone broth but this could be left out)
1 can pure pumpkin
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
enough water to cover the vegetables
salt to taste - I start with 1/4 teaspoon and add as it cooks because I over-salted once. Never again.
2 cloves of garlic, minced - jar or fresh. Could go more on this if you like garlic.
2 tablespoons chili seasoning
1 tablespoon wing sauce (that's what the label says. I'm thinking "buffalo wing sauce"?)
1 drop oregano oil
1 drop thyme oil
Shredded or diced chicken

The beets and carrots take a while to cook, so next time I'll use a crockpot for 4 hours instead of my NuWave at 180 for 3 hours. It will be thick and a little blurpy when it's done, and the carrots and beets should be tender with no crunch.

The beets and carrots are also very sweet, so the chili powder and wing sauce are for balance. Thinking it still needs a bit more on the savory side, so maybe up the ratio on those ingredients. Or find something else to add and let me know.

The diced chicken is a nice touch if you have it, which I did since I just made bone broth, but it would eat fine as a vegetarian dish. Use as a main dish, or as a side dish to something of a more savory nature. Yes, you could add cheese. Something sour, like Parmesan.

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on how much you like it.

The bone broth doesn't add anything tastewise to the chili, but 'tis the season I step up my bone broth intake (for immune boosting), so I tend to put it in everything short of my Lucky Charms.


Breaking Legs and Burning Cars

Focus on the Family aired a chapel service given by Jay Carty last Friday, and again this morning. It was the same program, so I don't know if it was a mistake or a God-reminder, 'cause I wanted to blog about it at the time.

Carty's talk was about how nice people will go to Hell, and how we who call ourselves Christians are more concerned with people's lives than their souls. I can't find a link for it, but if you want to listen, I'm sure it's on the Focus website somewhere.

He illustrated his "life vs. soul" thesis with the idea that we will inflict multiple cuts and a broken leg to get a trapped person out of a burning car because those injuries are nothing compared to being burned alive, but we won't go out of our way to save a soul on its way to Hell.

I hear you, Jay, but I have to point out that it's far easier to pull a body out of a car than to stop a sinner intent on continuing in sin. In fact, it's not possible for me to stop another human from going to Hell, no matter how many legs I break.

I should pause and say that "sin" has been defined in a lot of ways. When I use it, I mean any action or thought that falls short of the absolute holiness of God and results in me being separated from Him for eternity. That pretty much covers being alive and conscious. I'm not holy, and I can't attain holiness on my own, and that's why the Jesus part of God came as a human, managed not to sin (still don't know how He pulled that off), and died in my place. The whole New Testament is about how and why that worked, so I won't go into it right now.

Even though Jesus did all this, I have to accept it for it to work. I have to accept that 1) I'm not acceptable to God on my own, 2) Jesus wants to be in relationship with me, 3) Jesus' sacrifice was enough to heal our relationship, and 4) I will spend the rest of my life becoming better friends with Him and God.

I can't make those choices for another person, which is why we have the phrase "God has no grandchildren." He's either your dad or your judge.

I have the responsibility to tell people about Jesus, to live the best life I can in His name, and to pray for people's hearts to change, but ultimately, it's up to them. The hardest part of being a Christian for me is knowing that people are trapped in Hell-bound cars and won't let me help them get out, because they can't see the danger.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Angry Moods

Do you ever wake up angry? I can't be the only person that suffers from this.

Sometimes, I wake up yelling. The smallest things set me off. The "FEED ME!" yowls I hear every morning are intolerable on these mornings. The scrabble "to eat everyone else's food and ignore my own" is too much, even though it happens every day. The "I want to sit in your lap and I will fight with anyone who is already there" cannot be born.

And I run around screaming like a banshee, and cursing them and everything else as Spawn of Satan determined to destroy me. Of course, they ignore me, because they're spawn of Satan and determined to destroy me.

On these days, my tea turns out wrong, my clothes don't fit, and more often than not, some part of me hurts like a big dog in a wheelbarrow. But I have days where all of that is true and I manage with grace and patience and silence.

Is this static buildup of tiny evils that explodes into big evil? Is it too much TV, or computer time rotting my brain and destroying my self-control? Maybe. Maybe this is why I need to stop playing computer games, even solitaire. Or, maybe, like Bad Hair Days, this is the inevitable cost of living in a fallen world. Some days are just bad days.

I pray. I eat chocolate. I close my mouth so hard it hurts, but for the most part, the mood has to dissipate on its own, like hiccups, usually hours later. The only thing I can control is the screaming, so I try to control that, with varying degrees of success. I suppose I should be grateful I'm only screaming at cats and the dog (who really never deserves to be yelled at, she's such a good girl) instead of humans who will hold it against me, but I actually feel more guilty. It's not like they can help who they are, and I'm the pinhead who chose to live this way. It's not their fault I can't take it some days.

I don't have a trick to help, or advice to give. I'm not even looking for advice. It's just one of those mornings, so I decided to write about it.

Hope your day starts well and keeps going.

Push button; receive bacon.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Money Musings III

This year has seen a noticeable uptick in my pain levels. I think it was two Augusts ago that my neck pain reached proportions that made me willing to try physical therapy. Expensive physical therapy. That did nothing to alleviate the pain. I was told I am too rigid and should learn to relax (my paraphrase of more tactful, technical jargon).

Thanks. I'll get right on that after I pay you out of pocket.

I learned at my last splint check I have worn that mouthpiece for six years - the first four relatively pain free, the last two, not so much. I was warned I might get another one to two years more years of wear until I need to shell out $650 for another one, coincidentally about the same amount I paid for the non-helpful therapy.

Well, that crown I am one week away from getting and paying for? Is on an upper tooth, and my mouthpiece conforms to my upper teeth. Meaning, my mouthpiece doesn't fit anymore, and I haven't worn it in 13 days. My "one to two more years of wear" just vanished. I'm going to call and ask if there's a chance this mouthpiece can be salvaged, but I'm guessing the answer will be "no." I could be wrong.

I am surprised I haven't yet awakened in the night from the pain of biting too hard on my temporary crown. Maybe my back pain is preventing me from sleeping that deeply. However, as the days creep by, my left jaw and neck pain are increasing. Is this because I'm wearing a temporary crown, because I'm not wearing my mouthpiece, or because I'm stressed out with all the money my body is costing me? I don't know. The jaw pain has always been on the left. Maybe it's from carrying my purse.

I do know my mouthpiece seemed to decrease in efficacy the longer I wore it, and the cost to tweak it increases every two years. I know I have more fillings in my upper teeth that may need crowns in the next six years, or even more expensive root canals. and it will only take one to make my equally expensive mouthpiece utterly useless.

So, do I buy a new mouthpiece for $650, and hope for the best, even though I'm not sure it will work anymore? Or do I go without and let my teeth just grind against each other until none of them are left?

Because "relaxing" isn't going to happen. Turtles are rigid, from base of neck to base of tail, and that ain't never going to change. Coincidentally, that's exactly where the pain originates. Lot of coincidences in this story.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Money Musings II, or Why I Should Get Rid of Cable TV

To paraphrase those famous words from Airplane!, looks like I picked the wrong week to quit Farmville.

Not really, but last night was the first night this week I didn't have something to do as soon as I came home. This will be the case for most of Winter. I have no Swamp to play in physically, and my brain is tired after eight hours at work. The TV goes on, and the desire to start mindlessly clicking emerges. I played solitaire for an hour before I made myself stop, turn off the TV, and read.

I have watched too much TV my entire adult life. I picked up the habit of having it on in the background from mom, who has tinnitus and uses the noise to distract herself. I don't have tinnitus, and I'm opposed to noise in general, so it makes no real sense for me to do it. I'm increasingly annoyed by the change in volume from show to commercial.

I finally bought cable when the government forced everyone into digital TV. I can't get digital reception on an antenna in a storm, and as a lilapsophobic (yes, I finally looked up the official term for fear of tornadoes), I have to have access to weather information. This incredibly stressful weather year has seen most weather information move online, so I am seriously considering doing away with cable TV altogether. That would save me a bit of money every month that I could use to replenish my emergency fund, remove one of the Farmville triggers, and remove one of the impediments to writing. Should cable prices go up again this year, and I can't imagine they won't, I will say goodbye to TV.

I hope the more I say that to myself, the more likely I am to follow through.

Since I have found a morning routine that, for the most part, fills my time with non-Farmville activities, I am sure I can find some evening routines for Winter. At the very least, I can add a second Classical Stretch program.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Money Musings

Two weeks ago, my dentist said that magic word "crown." This will be crown #2. I have slightly better dental insurance than I did for crown #1, but the bottom line is a large sum of money will be leaving me in a bit more than a week, and it was money I didn't plan to spend.

That's what emergency funds are for, Dave Ramsey would say, and I agree with him. That's why I have one. I even use it for actual emergencies - things I couldn't have known about and planned for - like a filling giving out and requiring a crown to replace it.

OK, I suppose I could have anticipated that someday I would need another crown, but, come on. Do I really need one more thing to over-control in my OCD life?

Anyway, money keeps coming out of my emergency fund, and it is very hard to put back. I have made a concerted effort this year to put money in, and I've done fairly well, but Murphy keeps showing up - in alien van invasions and crowns and sewer stack replacements. It's tiresome.

Does anyone else have trouble reconciling the Proverbial ant vs. grasshopper with Jesus' "do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear?" I mean, Old Testament teaching is "plan for the future." New Testament teaching is "God will take care of you." No offense, Jesus, but you were a bum. You had no job, no house, no dependents, and you lived off the generosity of various women, like Joanna and Martha and Mary. Yes, all Your needs were met, but I don't want to be a bum.

I guess that would make me one of the various women.

Just a few thoughts as I balance my checkbook.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Of course, once I decide to avoid Facebook for a while, I start thinking up catchy one-liners to post. Homeostasis is a powerful force. One to five hours a day mindlessly clicking on things is a lot of training to undo. That's just weekdays. Yes, I have a problem. I'm working on it. And, no, I haven't posted anything. I don't think...

I'll apply the 80/20 rule: do beneficial things 80% of the time, and save the 20% for messing up. As far as I can tell, I'm not jonesing for Farmville. It's more "what can I do with all this free time that doesn't involve thinking?"

And that's the point. I've been training myself not to think in my "off" hours. It is far easier after eight hours of applying energy to other people's agendas to play a game. But I am convinced life isn't supposed to be easy. Not under the Curse.

Walking with Jesus is hard. It demands that I go against every natural instinct in my selfish self and follow the Holy Spirit's guidance into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control. -I'm missing one... Faithfulness. That's embarrassing.- Those fruits don't come naturally to the Turtle, although I'm pretty good at kindness, and I used to rock patience to sleep at night. For a disciple, ALL the fruits are required, and all of them should be practiced daily.

Baby chicks have to break out of their shells, or they're not strong enough to survive once they're out. Butterflies have to struggle out of cocoons to pump juice into their wings or the wings never work. Bones and muscles have to be used and pushed to remain strong, as Miranda Esmonde-White, 64!, reminded me this morning. Life is struggle.

There were times when my catchy one-liners could have been blog posts, but it was too hard to come up with a title, and extra words. Resuming blogging is one way I'm pushing back against Facebook/ Farmville-playing homeostasis. While I do love my one-liners, that's not the kind of books I used to write. And if I'm ever going to write another one, I have to wake up my brain.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Facebook Hiatus

I'm on Facebook for two reasons: Farmville, and funny posts. I prefer playing Farmville with Friends, and many of my Friends are funny, so I consider this social.

However, in the past few months, I've noticed some changes in Facebook.

One, my Friends don't really play Farmville anymore, and I can't find the feeds of the ones that do. That means I can't play with my Friends. It must be a problem for other people, because Farmville started this "make Neighbors who aren't Friends" thing earlier this year, but that has all kinds of bugs with it and basically doesn't work.

Two, I'm not finding funny posts anymore. I'm finding rants, and articles about social issues, and inappropriate video shares, and outrage over everything from animal abuse to red cups, but nothing funny. I don't watch communist TV (some people call it Mainstream News) because I don't agree with the communist worldview, and I don't want it spouted in my living room until Big Brother truly does own everything. I also don't want it plastered on my Wall. But that's what I'm getting, no matter how many Cats Sleeping in Awkward Positions pics I "like." I used to scroll past them, but I can't seem to get "past" anymore. They just keep going, like a red Energizer bunny, without a single Farmville post to break the monotony.

Every day. No Farmville. No funny. Just communism. Or socialism, which is communist-lite. Or social justice, which is a lie of Satan - that's it's possible to undo the Curse through government intervention. Only Jesus can do that, and He doesn't do it with Other People's Money. He does it through you, His slave, doing His will, one person at a time.

I'm entering my Dark Time, aka Winter. I don't need to be angered or grieved every time I get on my computer. I don't need it, and it's what I'm getting.

You might see me occasionally, testing the waters, but I don't plan to be on that much. I'm going to spend a little time reprogramming my brain manually. My love to you all.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Classical Stretch Continues

If my math is right - and let's face it, that's a 50/20 chance - this is my seventh week of working out with Miranda every workday and most weekends. I've even had a couple days when I wasn't going to get up but I did anyway because I didn't want to risk breaking the habit.

With the change in weather, morning workouts are getting a bit chilly. Also, I prefer "lengthening" workouts to "strengthening" first thing, so I bought season 10 on DVD. Now I control the vertical and the horizontal, and am not confined to whatever PBS is airing.

After 7 weeks, I am noticing a change. My limbs - including my toes, of all things - are skinnier. My potbelly is shrinking. Charlie horse and foot spasm incidents are way down. My shoulder-rounding is reversing, which has been the best benefit so far. I still have back pain attacks, two of them more severe than I've ever had, and I haven't yet found the magic formula for complete neck pain relief, but overall, I'm more fit and flexible than I have been in years. Every week, I keep up with Miranda a little better than the week before. She remains upbeat and non-judgmental.

In short, I'm glad I found her, and I'm glad I'm sticking with her.

Applaud the jellyfish.