Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Top Ten Totally Tubular Thanksgiving Thoughts

With Thanksgiving just a few days away now and anxiety prescriptions being filled across the country, I thought it appropriate to take a few moments to mentally prepare ourselves for the real football game - holidays with the crazy people we have to call family.

In that spirit, the following is my Top Ten Totally Tubular Thanksgiving Thoughts:
**Warning: Do not mix with alcohol, great aunt Mildred's Friday leftover surprise or dad's football game. It's the holidays my friends...proceed with caution.

1. family. No matter how hairy things get this week while enjoying the presence of family you may spend the rest of the year trying to avoid, remember that they are your family and that they are trying to survive the holiday as much as you are. Who knows, they might think you're the crazy one! Irregardless, do as grandma taught you and mind your manners. Be respectful, gracious and grateful.

2. food. Look, I'm a woman. I was told in-utero that I needed to go on a diet and watch what I eat, so I get the struggle with these food based holidays. The bottom line is control. The holidays are not a time to just watch your mouth verbally, but otherwise. Know when enough is enough and know when to allow yourself that extra piece of pie. It matters not what you eat on one day, its what you do the rest of the year. The following is some information on emotional eating from MSNBC.com. I found it very interesting and maybe it will pop into your head during the stressful holidays. I will definitely be referring to these. I hope you find them helpful. For the full article, click here: ARTICLE

  1. What are the favorite mood foods? During emotional eating, we crave “comfort” foods that are often high-calorie, sweet, salty, or fatty. Women are more likely to reach for sugary foods, such as chocolate, candy and cookies, while men tend to crave pizza, pasta, steak, or casseroles. For women, the top three comfort foods are ice cream (74 percent), chocolate (69 percent), and cookies (66 percent). For men, they’re ice cream (77 percent), soup (73 percent), and pizza or pasta (72 percent).
  2. Six strategies to overcome emotional eating:
  • Learn to recognize your hunger. Before you automatically pop something into your mouth rate your hunger on a scale of one to five; one being ravenous and five being full. Make every effort to avoid eating when you’re a four or a five
  • Find alternatives to eating. Make a personal list of activities you can do instead of eating. Perhaps go for a walk, call a friend, listen to music, take a hot shower, or a bath, exercise, clean your house, polish your nails, surf the Internet, schedule outstanding appointments, watch something on TiVo, clean your purse, organize your closet, look through a photo album, etc.
  • Keep a food journal. Logging your food will help to identify your toughest time frames. It will also make you accountable. So perhaps you’ll be less apt to reach for unnecessary food.
  • Practice three-food interference. Make the commitment to first eat three specific healthy foods (for instance, an apple, a handful of baby carrots and a yogurt), before starting on comfort foods. If after that, you still want to continue with your comfort foods, give yourself permission. However, most of the time, the three foods are enough to stop you from moving on.
  • Exercise regularly. Daily exercise relieves stress and puts you in a positive mindset, which gives you greater strength to pass on the unhealthy fare.
  • Get enough sleep. Research shows that sleep deprivation can increase hunger by decreasing leptin levels, the appetite regulating hormone that signals fullness. Furthermore, with adequate sleep, you'll be less tired and have more resolve to fight off the urge to grab foods for comfort.

For more information on healthy eating, visit Joy Bauer’s Web site at www.joybauernutrition.com

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive

3. fun. It's so hard sometimes to have fun when you're completely out of your comfort zone and the holidays are a great example. You're only allowed to be bored and miserable if you choose to be. You can have a great time, even if others don't want to, and still remain respectful to those around you. See if anyone wants to play cards, board games, a rousing game of football in the backyard, go to a movie, go bowling...and the list goes on. Use your imagination and don't allow party poopers to ruin your holiday. If all else fails, find a nearby coffee shop, plug in the computer, buy yourself a well deserved cup of Joe and blog about it.

4. friends. So uncle Billy's jokes aren't exactly funny the 12th time you've heard them in the same day. Remember, your friends are probably doing the same thing you are. Give them a call. Wish them and their family a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy a few moments of real conversation. It doesn't matter where you are, your friends and support are just a phone call away.

5. fellowship. I know I've been talking a bit about the challenges of spending the holidays with those who make us want to get DNA testing, but not all of them are fodder for your next weeks session with the therapist. The holidays are about spending time with the ones you love and the ones who are not so easy to love but deserve your love anyway. Make sure your head is in the game and you have the right attitude. Make memories the best you can and truly savor every moment with the ones you love. Life is too short to do otherwise. And do yourself and others a favor...turn that cell phone off. The world can wait. You NEED that time...take it and do something for yourself...say THANKS for something. Plus, you'll be at work before you know it and if you're anything like a dear girlfriend of mine, you'll spend the next month crying from crazy overtime (SJ). Sometimes the bad jokes and leftovers can be worth it. It's all a matter of perspective.

6. charity. Charity brings clarity. If you're having a hard time finding something to be thankful for, get out and so some good for someone else. It's amazing how healing it can be to love someone else. Go to the local food bank, shelter or soup kitchen and volunteer some time. It won't take long for you to find something to be thankful for.

7. thanksgiving. Give thanks. And when you're done doing that, say thank you again. Don't just think of the holiday as a miserable time with those who don't really mesh with your personality so well. People can be cruel, challenging and difficult to communicate with, but that doesn't mean you have to let them invade on your opportunity for self-reflection and awareness. Take in the sights, the sounds, the smells, the touches...let your senses be overwhelmed and realize that God is present not just at your table, but in your life. Your alive. Be blessed by that and then go from there. And...if someone has something hurtful or snippy to say, just grin and say thank you. They won't know what to do with themselves.

8. shopping. There is always shopping. But if you're wanting to stick with your new found attitude of gratitude, you may want to stay at home. I find that shopping on Black Friday makes me a very ugly woman. The weirdo's come out to shop on that day and hit your children with their shopping bags, push your grandmother and you always wind up loosing your husband somewhere. I say this because I made the mistake of being a weirdo that went shopping on the day of Thanksgiving and I will NEVER do that again. It's like the running of the bulls. Who needs Spain? Just thank the Lord for online shopping or simply thank the Lord that you're not waiting three hours for a parking space and chasing your sucker covered toddler around Santa's workshop. Makes me dizzy just thinking about. Second thought, for your safety, I urge everyone to stay at home.

9. christmas. The turkey is beginning to digest and you are now given my humble permission to get to work on celebrating the Christmas season. Go get those lights out and turn them on. Rock out to some Christmas music. Make cookies, popcorn balls and plans. This is the most wonderful time of the year. Reach in deep, grab your inner seven year old, clean him/her off and have fun. Allow yourself to look forward to something with zeal and splendor. Happy Holidays!

10. happy holidays. It doesn't mean miserable Prozac coated holidays. Happy, ya'll! Happy! Do what you can to make it enjoyable. If you have an attitude of gratitude and spend your time being thankful, you won't have any time left to complain. Enjoy your family - even the crazy ones. Laugh. Love. Live. And if you're traveling, please be safe.

God Bless you all this Thanksgiving and always! Now...go Gobble till ya Wobble!!!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Assault by a Deadly Glue Gun

I'm a scrapbooker. I absolutely love it when I can find the time to sit down and dig into it. Aside from scrapbooking, I'm craft stunted. Though I sometimes wish I were, I'm not the mom who can make a craft out of anything and make it so well people want to buy it at the church bizarre. No, I'm the lady who scares children because her stick figures are so, well, unsticky.

The Advent Festival for our church is tonight and I was put in charge. A daunting task, but I love a challenge. So, like any crazy fool would do, I offered my services. Little did I know when I said "sure" that the event would involve a glue gun.

Any time there is a glue gun involved, paramedics must be standing by. In fact, the whole idea of a glue gun gives me heart palpitations. Me and the glue gun, well, we have a sorted past. It wasn't pretty and it didn't end well. I loved that glue gun. We did everything together. We put mugs back in one piece, attached wallpaper (don't ask), married pennies to the bottom of Hershey kisses (not a good idea once I realized the blazing hot glue would melt the chocolate), we ran through fields singing and swirling among daises. It was love and we knew it.

Then, one day, glue gun turned on me. I didn't know what was coming and I wasn't prepared for the betrayal. All these years of love and the glue gun lost it...really. It malfunctioned, as most relationships tend to do from time to time, and I, I was the victim. I thought it was meant to be, me and the glue gun. I was excited to plug it in, sit down beside it with over 500 Popsicle sticks and prepare to make star ornaments for the church children.

With gun in hand, we glued like a mad person at Wal-Mart on the day after Thanksgiving. Madness I say. We were making one ornament after another. Things were beautiful. But then, then the glue just kept coming out. I couldn't stop it. It was like molten lava. And I, like the beautiful moron I was, put my hand out to catch the glue. Look, I did say I was a moron. I don't know what I was thinking, but the results were tragic. Well, extremely painful none the less.

Ever had glue gun induced burns and blisters? Like I said, I was assaulted by my glue gun and it was so painful that I think this gun should come not just with warning labels, which I guess it does but one would have to read them or just have common sense. But, it should also come with like a "gluers safety course" before one can go to the local Hobby Lobby and purchase a license to use it. I would also not be opposed to background checks prior to the purchase of a glue gun. In the wrong hands, this little bugger could wipe out and obliterate moron mommas everywhere. We must protect ourselves from this vile tool of craft violence.

Wish me luck with the Advent Festival tonight. I'm hoping it all goes off well. We are making Advent Calendars, decorating the Popsicle ornaments I slaved over and much more. I can't wait to put my head against the pillow tonight and have this all behind me...successfully of course, sans the injuries. ;-) Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I KNOW my Redeemer Lives!!!

There is something I have to share with you. It is one of the most loving, inclusive and awe-inspiring things I have ever seen. Grab your tissues...you're going to need them. This, my friends, is what LOVE is. This is Christ's LOVE in action. This is the length a great father will go for his child. This is the length our Father has gone for us. May you be blessed by this and share it with others so that they too can see with their own eyes what LOVE really means.

Visit www.teamhoyt.com for more information and photos. The brief synopsis/lead below is from their website and written by David Tereshchuk.

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk.

For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.

Now watch the video:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Of Twilight and Tweens

About a month ago I stumbled into my hair salon. I was weak and vulnerable all due to some excessive root visibility and I was in desperate need of a coloring. I wasn't strong enough to know what was happening or to even stop it. She may have even anticipated and planned for my arrival. It was a simple day that morphed into the beginning of a very intoxicating relationship. It was the catalyst of long nights, early mornings and an overstock of recorded television shows just beckoning for my attention. I didn't see it coming and I was so paralyzed by bad hair that I was unable to resist it. It - was a book. I thick, black, 500 page, stylist recommended book.

You see, I went in for color and came out with much more. While my color was setting, I pulled an academic book from my handbag and began to read. My stylist had this book that she couldn't put down and she asked if it would be okay if she were rude and read while waiting. I told her it was perfectly fine. No sense in straining ourselves in small talk when we were both deeply rooted in our texts. As we reconvened for the styling, she began to tell me about her book. She asked if I had ever heard of the Twilight series and I told her no. I now know how odd that must have seemed because apparently I was the only person on planet earth (vast exaggeration) who hadn't. More over, I was probably one of very few people who hadn't read all four books that make up the series by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn).

She said it was a book about vampires and teen romance. STOP! Stop right there...I don't do vampires. It's not my thing. I prefer to be able to sleep at night and I have learned that you don't feed the beast that is my over active imagination unless you are prepared to suffer the consequences and when it comes to things to horrify me in the night...I was not prepared. She kept talking and I had kinda tuned her out after the "v" word. I mean really, me, a Jane Austin type of reader, waste my precious personal time which I rarely get any of anyway on a book on teenagers and vampires. NOT!

Then something happened, she started raving even more. And this woman is well, not someone I would pick out as a vampire fan. I mean she's a mom of two little ones, owner of her own hair salon and always has her head in more mainstream romancie type of books. She tells me not to shoot it down. "Give it a try," she says. "Trust me," she continues, "you're going to love this." I'm horrified a bit as this woman has been doing my hair for over three years and she thinks I, of all people, will enjoy, not to mention, read, this book. Well, just to be polite, I ask her what the name of the book is and who the author is before I leave. I sweetly smile and wish her the best and I'm outta there.

The next thing I know I'm buying Twilight, the first book of the four. I make a covenant with myself that if things gets hairy and heads start spinning I'm putting it down and selling it on Ebay. Nice idea, but I couldn't put the stupid thing down. It possessed me. Let me just tell you...ADDICTED. I can't tell you exactly what drew me in the most: the great writing, the modern day Romeo and Julietish storyline, the image I had of vampires being totally wiped away or the suspense. It didn't matter, I'm hooked.

Then, oh dear Lord then...there is the movie. My sister-in-law is a huge fan of the darker side of books. I love murder mystery and suspense (my inner CSI and Law and Order girl must be entertained), but she takes it to another level and loves the spooky stuff too. So, I knew she was going to love these books. That and she's probably the only other person I know my age that reads as much as I do. Let me just tell you how much I cherish the fact that she reads.

Anyway, our husbands took us out on a date night last night. We had amazing German food and then went to the movies to see this book of ours come to life. I must tell you how many laughs we got at ourselves as I think we were the oldest people there by FAR. Teenagers and tweenagers were peppered everywhere and with that the loud, obnoxious screaming for this hunky vampire was inescapable. We felt like teenagers again. Here we were like giant dorks watching a teenager movie on a Friday night. SWEET! We are so cool.

Who cares!?!?!?! The movie was great. I mean, it wasn't the book, but it was great. It wasn't horror, gore, head spinning stuff which was fabulous for me because I just can't stomach it. But, it was a darker love story. It's a love story. Period. One forbidden love. Two star crossed lovers...who by the way, DON'T have sex. Yeah...a book about teen love that doesn't promote sex. Now, I'm only 60 pages into the 700 page book two, but so far...just the good old fashion kissing.

So, as this story of a brooding teenage vampire addictively draws me in, I will keep you updated. But I will tell you, this is good and I can see why it's not just a hit amongst the teen crowd. A lot of adults are reading these...apparently they just aren't brave enough to take on the movie scene. Here's a suggestion if you want to see the movie...um...rent it, or wait awhile. Late Friday night movies come with lots of screaming teenage girls Leonardo DiCaprio and Titanic style. Seriously...it should come with a tranquilizer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holiday Traditions from Turkey to Santa

For the next couple of weeks, Internet Devotions is hosting a holiday extravaganza of sorts where every Thursday there will be a new Holiday topic to write about and share. I've decided to take part in this as I love, love, love the holidays and it just sounds like fun. So, here goes.

Since Thanksgiving has not come and gone as of it yet, and we all know how I feel about celebrating Christmas early, I'm going to focus first on Thanksgiving. Our traditions for turkey day seem to vary a bit and have been ever evolving since the birth of Hambone. My husband and I have family in four main locations across the U.S.: Colorado, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee. Of course, we do our best to make our rounds, but a kiddo and a tight budget make travel a little, well, challenging. Never mind our hectic work and school schedules. Needless to say, we never really know where we will be for Thanksgiving until just about a week or two before hand.

Thanksgiving for us, like most Americans, is a day full of "F" words: family, food and football. We sleep in, watch the Macy's Parade (a big favorite of mine - I'm a marching band junkie), eat lunch, watch football and sleep. Aaaah. Then, OMG, then after nap time, WAAHOOO the Christmas lights are turned on, the Christmas music turned on and the "most wonderful time of the year" begins. During the noon meal, however, there is something that my parents started a couple years back that I have come to love for very special reasons. You see, we sit down to eat together, all hold hands to pray and then we go around the table and each person shares what they are thankful for. It's a beautiful thing hearing other's thanking God for their blessings. It warms your heart, really. Then we sing Johnny Appleseed and dig in.

Christmas is a whole different bag of goodies. Because we are usually out of state for the Turkey day, I like to hang my Christmas lights and do all my Christmas decorating the weekend before we leave. Let me take a moment to say something here. Though I may decorate and hang lights, I do NOT turn them on for more than a few moments but to check that they are working. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people hang their lights before Thanksgiving and then turn them on. Would you believe I have a number of neighbors who have put up their lights on their house already and are TURNING THEM ON!!! This is just annoying. If you do this, I still love you, but stop. It makes complete sense to put them up before the bad weather. But turning them on? Let me also say that if Santa is still on your roof in February and you are still lighting him up, I hope teenagers get him in the night. Well, maybe not. I don't promote violence or destroying other people's property...but...your plastic Santa needs not be showing his face in February. Wow that's annoying!

Christmas is a time of many, many traditions. We watch Christmas movies all month long, listen to so much Christmas music that we're turning it off before Christmas because it wearing us down, bake sweet treats. We attend our church's Advent Festival, go to the mall to visit Santa, lay under the Christmas tree and look up at the lights. One of my favorites is loading up the car with friends, family and fabulous Christmas music and heading out to the "spendy" part of town with some Starbucks Peppermint Mocha and touring the Christmas lights on the big houses. This takes a couple hours and is sooooo much fun! This is my tradition and I love it.

For years we've made homemade popcorn balls with my grandma and they are decorated in multi-colored candy coating. I love that too. I also enjoy writing my Christmas letter and getting the cards sent out the day before Thanksgiving so people get them right afterwards. I love getting Christmas cards early from people because then I can set them out and enjoy them all month long.

There are of course Christmas parties to attend for work and friends/family. On Christmas Eve is when my family does their big celebration. Usually we attend the Christmas Eve service at church, then head to the house for our annual spread of chili and Oyster stew. Then the kiddos spread out the gifts to all the family members. We all sit down in a circle then and go from youngest to oldest opening one gift at a time. This takes hours, but is a lot of fun and involves lots of laughter, pictures, conversations and memories. Also, when someone gets a toy, we all play with it. It's just a rare opportunity to sit down and 'play' together. Santa comes in the night and in the morning we run out to see what Santa brought. The little ones have gifts on the fireplace from the Big Guy. The rest of us have tiny stocking gifts. Then, we sit around like the night before, but open little stocking gifts from oldest to youngest.

One of my recently new traditions is with my brother where we share gag gifts. I get him a real gift, but I also get him something super funny too. A couple of years ago I was in a sportsman's store and by the check-out I saw a container with a monkey on it. It was called "Anti-Monkey Butt Powder". I about died laughing in the store and I knew I had to get that for him. It's for several uses but my brother has a motorcycle and this is supposed to be used to avoid chaffing from sitting on the bike for so long. Anyway...great gift. Then another year I got him "Crack Spackle" from Duluth Trading Company. It's a Spackle like bucket that has a long (in length) t-shirt to help cover up "plumber's crack"...if you catch my drift. Another priceless gift. I have a couple of ideas for this year and I just can't wait. I get more of a kick out of this tradition than my brother for sure and probably anybody else for that matter, but I get a great laugh out if.

Well...these are my holiday traditions in a nutshell. I hope you share yours. Shalom to all of you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Uber Amazing Blog!

Oh happy day!!!! I just got a blog award from a bloggie friend and awesome blogger, Francois. Thank you, thank you, Francois. I'm honored and totally thrilled! So, in the spirit of giving awards, I have 5 blogs I'd like to further award as Uber Amazing!

1. Francois - for sure, even though he already has one.
2. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
3. beloved Mama
4. Diary of a Domestic Goddess
5. Learning Life's Lessons
6. Learning at His Feet

I love all of my readers and the blogs I follow, so please check them out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What to Wear for the Holidays

A must read post...from Words to Go.
Title: What to Wear for the Holidays

As for me, I've been slammed with seminary work the last couple of days. I will get back to all of your comments and a new post soon. Keep checking back...I have one in the works.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blue Box Blues Meets Mommas New Friend

I have a new obsession!

Hubs, Hambone and I went to the house of some church friends of ours on Friday night for dinner. The Mrs. had made a dessert from her recently received Kraft Foods magazine. It was delicious. Let me just show you a picture.

White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake Bars - In other words, Holy Lord these are Heavenly Bars.

Mrs. showed me the magazine and I was hooked. She said I could go to www.kraftfoods.com and sign up for free and they will send me a magazine five times a year. So, I went online and did just that. Then I realized that by signing up I got a free online recipe box. Now when I find a recipe I like, I can just click 'save to my recipe box' and there it will stay.

I'm thrilled about this and have spent way too much time dorking around the site picking out all kinds of recipes. I'm in love...really...its sad. Go forth, dear friends, and check it out. And PLEASE...if you know of any other awesome sites like these...do share!!!!


PS. If you click on the magazine cover at the top, it will take you directly to the online version of the Kraft Magazine I was looking at while at my friends house. You're going to love this.

The Old Wooden Cross and Me

The moment you've all been waiting for. The results are in and after a week of major stressing out, too much coffee (is there such thing as too much coffee?) and mild to moderate levels of no sleep, my mission has been completed. As of yesterday at noon, I had officially given my first sermon and...it went incredibly well.

I enjoy being the writer, you know? The invisible face behind the words. I love to write, it's the getting in front of a room of people that stirs my anxiety levels to the moon. I could be asked to do something as simple as say a prayer in front of people and my heart will start to race, my hands shake...seriously folks, attack of the nerves.

But yesterday, yesterday was different. Yesterday was a day that the Lord had made and God sure made a good one for me. So many things happened to come together to make yesterday simply divine.

For the past week I've had an old song in my head. One that was sung at my grandfather's funeral. In fact, it was one of his favorites and has been priceless to me since I lost him. I can't hear it or sing it or think about it without feeling like he's right there with me. So...this song has been in my head this week as I was writing my sermon on Being of a Thankful Heart. Gee...I wonder if I talked about thankfulness since that seems to be my kick these days...I sure did.

I prayed and prayed and focused my attention on God and let him fill me with peace and harmony of mind and spirit. I wasn't nervous yesterday. To be honest, I don't know when the anxiety thing started. I've always had a bit of it, yet I've been able to do a lot of stage work acting and it's never bothered me much. But the last couple of years I've just been mad with anxiety and I can't seem to get it under wraps. Yesterday though...it was completely gone. Not even a glimmer of it existed. I just stepped out in authority, welcomed by the love and grace of those who were there to listen to me speak and I delivered my first sermon. Then, once the sermon had completed, the gentleman in charge of music started playing a song that I thought, no, that I KNOW came from God and possibly my grandpa too.

You see, I sent the music man, as I'll call him here, the scriptures and the sermon title. I didn't give him any music suggestions just told him to go with what he was lead to sing. That was all. Nothing more, not even a hint of what I was thinking. I really wanted to see what would come with the music. So would you imagine my complete and utter surprise when I heard him start to sing The Old Wooden Cross? How could he have known? I didn't tell anyone, not a soul, not even my hubs. Not one person. I didn't mention to anyone even that I had been listening to that song when writing the sermon.

At that moment, I knew a completely different level of peace. I felt a warmth in my heart and around my shoulders. You see, my audience yesterday was made up of beautiful Alzheimer's patients. Men and women who love the Lord, sing his praises in old hymns. My grandfather died with Alzheimer's. Ever since, I've devoted time to helping the Alzheimer's Association find a cure. He died in 1999 and for the past 9 years I've done the memory walk and raised money, volunteered to help family care givers and visit and play cards with Alzheimer's patients. They have a special place in my heart. And yesterday, it all came full circle. From the people I preached to, to the song delivered. What a beautiful, perfect day and oh how I love that Old Wooden Cross.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mucho, Mucho THANKS!

All this talk about being thankful, the season of thanksgiving and having a spirit of thankfulness has really made me think that I should say, well, you know, uh-ehm...THANK YOU!

I am so grateful for every single person who stumbles across my blog and stops for a moment or two just to read something that little ol' me wrote. I am thankful for those of you who take time out of your busy days to leave a comment and even better, come back the next day to read and leave a comment.

I am also incredibly thankful to those of you who have chosen to follow my blog. That is no little thing you've done, and I'm truly honored. Now when I sit down to write, I write with you in mind. Of course, I'm going to write whatever is on my mind, but I like to think that what I write is 'right' for my awesome readers.

Yesterday, I talked about Kung Fu Panda. In the very beginning of the movie, Po the Panda says something HIL-arious! He's talking about his 'awesome-ness' and says, 'there is no charge for awesomeness...or attractiveness.'

Well...I'm so glad that my readers don't charge me for their awesomeness.

Thanks again to all of you. You like, so totally rock! By the way, if you're new to Coffee, God and Me, take a look at my followers and the blogs I follow. These are some great writers and people with great thoughts and words. I wouldn't have chosen them as my bloggie-friends if they weren't.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not Just A Bunch of Kung Fu-ey

Kung Fu Panda

Last night, my little family went to the grocery store to grab up some grubbage when my little Hambone decided that he must have the "Pana" movie. Well, he behaved incredibly well during the hideously boring task of grocery shopping, so mommy gave in. We had seen it together when it came out in the theatre, but, well, you know, movies are always different the second go around.

The first time you see a movie you see whats on the surface. The second time you start to get the 'real' message being portrayed. The third time, you start to find all of the movie production "fu-paws." (Sorry, I had to).

Once we got home and put everything away, we ate dinner and then watched "Pana" together. And this time, I mean I REALLY watched it. There is a scene between the two masters where the wise turtle tells his counter part something very profound. He tells his counter part that his mind is like the water. When it's agitated, it becomes hard to see. But when there is peace, one can see clearly.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this since. Before I met my husband and son at the store, I had some church work I was attending to. Something happened there that really set me off. I mean, I was angry, disappointed, frustrated, hurt...did I mention angry. And then the fact that I was angry made me angrier because I know I'm not supposed to be angry but I can't help but be angry so now my anger is going into warp speed and frankly, it's one big angry mess. So then, when I sit down and watch this 'childrens' movie, I get this message about peace.

Look, its not that I don't want peace, I love peace...look for it every day. It's just that the situation was raw and, well, I'm human. I didn't act out on the anger I was just trying to work through it and this jolly ol' Pana movie made it make sense. God really does work in mysterious ways and certainly meets you right where your at...even in a Pana movie.

The lesson I got from this is that sometimes life takes us by surprise and not always in a good way. It's when the winds of chaos start to blow that the waters of our minds get agitated and when agitated, no one can see clearly. I'm not the only one who has had this problem. I seem to recall a situation between a certain guy named Jesus, a boat with some 'dudes' in it and a stormy sea. When the waters became agitated, the men cried out for Jesus's help and there was that little thing Jesus said. Oh yeah, "ye of little faith."

When I let my mind get agitated, I need to reach for Jesus in hopes of peace. My faith must be in that it will all be okay. I will not sink, even, as in the song below, the flood starts rising. I need to come before God with a spirit of peace, and a mind of calm waters. When I let the anger and agitation go so I can see clearly in peace, I will find my answers. They are always there. God is always there. My savior is always there. It's what I do with my free will, my mind, my waters, that's paramount.

Amazing what one can learn from a little Pana movie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Washed by the Water

I recently stumbled upon this song on another blog. I had never heard of it before or the group. Ever since, I have been addicted to this song. There are so many things here I can connect with, but there is one powerful lyric that strikes a cord right where my heart is. So often, we are hurt by 'friendly fire'...meaning, the ones we love often cause the most damage. That seems to certainly be the case as I have found things. But realizing that you are washed by the water, the blood of Christ, makes all things new. And that, as the song says, even when the flood starts rising. We need to gain perspective and where we're at and make sure that even when things hurt, even when we're struggling to keep our head above water in a flood we didn't create, that we have our eyes on God. We need to make sure that the things we do are what God would want and not be irrationally responsive with knee jerk reactions when we move to panic mode. Trust, have faith and believe in the power of the blood that has washed you clean.

Lyrics of Washed by the Water by Needtobreathe.

Daddy was a preacher
She was his wife
Just tryin to make the world a little better
You know, shine a light
People started talking
Trying to hear their own voice
Those people tried to accuse my father
Said he made the wrong choice
Though it might be painful
You know that time will always tell
Those people have long since gone
My father never failed

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Even if the Earth crumbles under my feet
Even if the ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won’t never ever let you down
I won’t fall
I won’t fall
I won’t fall as long as you’re around me
Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Do You See What I See?

How do you know when you see God that it's actually God and not a figment of your imagination? I look forward to your answers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Of the Least of These

Photo by Derek Langley

"Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"
- Matthew 25.34 - 40, NRSV

It's very important to me that we understand the words that Christ gave us. Christ is telling us to help the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the imprisoned, the orphan, the widow, the sick, the homeless; and in doing so, we are being an offering for Christ. For he tells us that whatever we do to and for these people, we do to and for him. Those are powerful words. Let's use this as a time for brief meditation and reflection.

Close your eyes and picture yourself sitting with Jesus. In a park, at a coffee shop...where ever you are or need him to meet you. It's just you and him. No words. No judgment. No world to separate you. Look up at him. Look in his eyes. Can you see yourself in his eyes? Can you see how much he loves you? Can you see the pain he endured to set you free? Can you see the tears he cried for you? Look deep within those tears and look for yourself within the pain to see what pain you have relieved. Do you see the faces of those you have touched? Those you've helped? Who were the least of these that you loved like you love Jesus?

This isn't an easy exercise to do. It often reveals that even in our own hearts, we know we are lacking. Life gets so busy, so hectic and then it gets away from us. Before we know it, our lives are passing us by as we desperately cling to the things of this world that don't matter rather than the least of these. We put our prayer life aside, our fellowship aside by sleeping in on Sunday mornings. We excuse ourselves, sometimes not politely, from service and mission work. We turn on our tunnel vision and move right past those around us who need us. We look ahead at the stoplight when a homeless child is right next to the car asking for money...we pretend they are not there. We don't stop to help the mother in the store whose arms are full and whose toddler is throwing things out of the cart. We don't open doors for people. We don't give up our seat for the elderly person who struggles to stand. We don't tithe like we are asked. And to think...these are just a few of the least of the things Jesus asked us to do. Where would we be if Jesus had turned on his tunnel vision and pretended that we weren't there?

Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me. Powerful words. So, if I ignore that man on the corner...I ignore Jesus. If I focus on me and not the girl in Ghana who needs fresh water, I'm not focusing on Jesus. See where I'm going? It starts to hurt when you take time to be self reflective and think on the areas you're weakest. How could I, a good and faithful Christian, be so cruel to Jesus? How is this true? It's painful and uncomfortable, but Jesus said it anyway. He knew we would become complacent. He knew we would forget. And more over, what really moves me here, is that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, but love our neighbors as we love Christ. God created us all inherently good. We were not created evil...evil just snuck in. That goes for teenagers, politicians, co-workers, spouses, family, friends, pastors...you name it. We are all broken, but all loved by the same God no matter what we do.

So, how are we doing? If you were to grade yourself on your performance, what would you get? It's a tough one for me too because I'm impossibly flawed. But I know that God loves me because why else would Jesus have died for me? Thus, its important that we die to ourselves, our selfishness, our complacency so that we may live.

Today and everyday, remember the least of these and remember that one day, a man died so that you, one of the least of these, could be saved. Pay it forward.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hark the Harold Statistics Sing...

In the spirit of the Advent Conspiracy (see below), I have a few stats to give you as things to think about.

- Americans spend $17 Billion a year on MAKEUP
- Another $15 Billion is s pent in America on PERFUME
*** We spend $32 Billion dollars a year to be pretty and smell good. Hmmm.

1970 vs. 2000
1. In 1970, 20% of people felt a second car was important. By 2000, 59% felt it was important.
2. In 1970, 3% of people thought it was important to have a second TV. 2000 - 45%.
3. In 1970, 2% of people thought it was important to have more than 1 phone. 2000 - 78%.
4. In 1970, 11% of people thought car AC was important. 2000 - 65%.
5. In 1970, 8% felt dishwasher's were important. 2000 - 44%.

In today's world, our needs seem to be based not on actual need, but by what our neighbor has. We NEED what our neighbor has. Something my pastor said today was "we sell what nobody needs and need what nobody sells."

And think about this. This made so much sense to me when I let it set in. Each year we look at our Christmas trees and we see what's under the tree. Our families can look under our trees and tell from what's under it if we had a good year or a bad year. Christmas has, in a way, become about how much we made during the year. If we earned a lot of money this year and there are lots of presents under the tree, then it's a good year and a good Christmas. If we lost a job or suffered an illness and very few if any presents reside under our tree, then its a bad year and a bad Christmas. We base our years and our Christmas's on how much money we've earned and then we do it in Christ's name.

We don't really need what's under there, do we? What we need cannot be found under the Christmas tree. What we need can be found in the meaning of Christmas. What we need is found in the savior who came to us on this night so that we could be set free. Jesus was not born so we could live as slaves; in bondage to mounting debt. Jesus died for us so that we could be free. This isn't going to be a season for more, more, more. It's going to be a season for so much more!

Spend Less money and gain so much more. Find the meaning of Christmas in you. Start a new tradition in your family. Make Christmas about something besides what is under the tree. Remember, even Jesus only got three presents at Christmas. Give PRESENCE, not presents. If you ask, I bet those on your list would much rather have time with you than money from you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Advent Conspiracy

A Woman That Took Me Off Gaurd

Have you ever had one of those moments when someone approaches you and says something that alters your entire day? I experienced this today and it was raw.

Today I went with a classmate of mine to a nearby senior living center where she preaches on Saturdays. She has invited me to be a guest preacher next Saturday so I wanted to come by and check out the facilities and meet the people and just be familiar with the way the program is laid out. The message was great, the music was great and the morning was well spent. There were several times when I felt the Holy Spirit alive and moving within that small space. To hear the words of seniors, to watch their hands raise up to the Lord and their mouths sing in praise...that is very powerful. Needless to say, it was a good morning.

After the service, I meet with my classmate to talk a little bit about next Saturday. Though I'm a minister in training and theory, I must admit, I have never given a formal sermon - EVER. It terrifies me really. I'm a bit of an introvert when it comes to that. I'd rather be the invisible face behind the written word. I have known that it would be coming; that eventually I would have to rip off this band-aid of fear and actually get up and speak a sermon. What's funny is that I'm not really a soft spoken person. In fact, I'm pretty unafraid of speaking my mind. I've done theater and debate. This isn't the first time I will have put myself out there. Maybe I'm just afraid of it because it means so much to me that if someone doesn't like my sermon and they say so, it would be a very painful rejection and it would really hurt. Long story short, I don't want to do this but I do. That's why my classmate is presenting this opportunity for me. Its a great way to start small so that when I'm asked to do much bigger, it won't be quite so terrifying to me.

As I'm talking to my classmate after the service, I notice in my peripheral vision, a nurse standing nearby looking at us. I had noticed her earlier sitting towards the back of the room during the service. She interrupted us and asked if she could speak with me for a moment. We had never met before. I didn't even know her name. She told me that God had spoken to her this morning. She said that God didn't reveal to her what was going on, but that she was to give me a message. She said that God told her to tell me that it will all be okay. That what is going on inside of me will receive peace. She then embraced me as if we had been old friends and her parting words were to have faith in God and that everything will work out.

I wasn't sure at first what was going on. In fact, I was initially a little concerned because I thought, gosh, do I just have this face on today that says stuff is a muck in my life? Then, while watching Madagascar with my son, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Oh my God. God sent me a message. I have been asking God for a burning bush like Moses had so I knew that everything I was doing was in God's will. Was this my burning bush? Was God really speaking through this woman? Is that why I wasn't able to make it to the service last Saturday but made it today?

You know, I feel like my faith is strong but I can't stop shaking. Me. God spoke to me through this woman. God told me everything was and is going to be okay. I can hardly keep my thoughts straight with this. I'm on the verge of tears and just trying to breath. A lot has been going on but I don't want to draw attention to it. I give it to God...and this is God telling me not to worry. I'm not sure if this will make my anxiety go away next Saturday before I tell my first public sermon, but it has definitely brought home that I'm with God and God is with me and everything is going to be okay.

Fabulous Fall Fotos

I love fall and as its quickly moving into winter and the Christmas decor' will be coming out in just a few weeks, I wanted to share with you a little of the Fall Splendor that is at my house these days.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Crazy 8's

I've been tagged with the favorites list...so here goes.

8 Favorite TV Shows:
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Army Wives
3. Saving Grace
4. Law and Order: SVU
5. Ugly Betty
6. Regular Law and Order
7. The Family Feud
8. Fox News

8 Fav Restaurants
1. Mushasi's
2. Jutta's Kellar
3. Mimi's Cafe
4. Ted's
5. Cheesecake Factory
6. Papa Deaux
7. Trail Dust
8. The Broker

8 Things That Happened Yesterday
1. I woke up
2. I tickled my son
3. I had way too much coffee
4. My teeth hurt
5. I conducted interviews
6. I researched for an upcoming trip
7. I read a book for school
8. I blogged

8 Things to Look Forward To
1. Thanksgiving
2. Christmas
3. Hawaii
4. Cozumel and Belize City
5. End of the semester
6. Snow
7. Becoming a certified candidate
8. Starting a New Book

8 Things I love about fall
1. The leaves changing colors
3. Hockey
4. Cooler temperatures
5. Scarfs and 'warm woolen mittens'
6. Hot coffee on a cold brisk morning
7. A hard run on a cold morning
8. Pumpkin patches

8 things on my wish list
1. Books
2. A trip to Italy
3. A book shelf
4. A fireplace
5. New clothes
6. To end Human Trafficking
7. To cure cancer, AIDS, malaria, poverty, heart disease, domestic violence, war, Autism, Alzheimer's and much, much more.
8. To write a book

I tag anyone who feels they need a tag...

No Decaf for My Cellulite - Top 10 Uses for Coffee Grounds

Praise God there is a monumental discovery afoot! Coffee can cure your unsightly hail damage. You know, the lovely black diamond mogul covered ski slope on the back of your legs, bum...well, everywhere?

So, from the research I found, about 80% of women have cellulite. GASP! HORROR! 80% would include a lot more ladies than just those of us who are a bit more squishy. Anyway, so I LOVE ME SOME COFFEE! What I also love is being able to use and reuse things for several purposes. And to my sheer delight, coffee grounds is a natural remedy for curing cellulite. Note: I'm not a doctor, I just read the article.

Apparently supermodels use this as well as high end spas. An article from iVillage, stated the way to do it is to spread newspaper on your bathroom floor, and take warm coffee grounds and massage them into your cellulite. Most of the coffee grounds will fall to the ground, but there is something in the "high octane" residue that wakes up your fat cells. CRAZY! I don't know if this actually works or not, but it makes for an interesting thought. Can you just imagine if someone walked in on me rubbing coffee grounds on my legs and my response was, "Hey. I'll be right out, I'm just caffeinating my fat." Too funny! I'm not knocking it though. If it works, then we're in for one heck of an affordable fat treatment.

I'm thinking though that I might want to up the ante on my coffee and go from decaf. to regular. No unleaded for my fat. I go first class all the way. I wonder if the cellulite goes away faster depending on how expensive the coffee is. Like, Starbucks for example, their coffee grounds are strong enough to eliminate my cellulite and make me ready for the prom. Tee, hee! I am getting such a kick out of this.

Hey, it puts a whole new meaning to "the best part of waking up, is Folgers on your trunk."


1. Flea Dip Alternative - after bathing your lovable pooch, massage used coffee grounds into his/her coat. This is said to keep those pesky little fleas away. "I ain't got no bugs on me, I ain't got no bugs on me. There may be bugs on some of you mugs, but there ain't no bugs on me"...just coffee.

2. Kitty Begone - tired of the neighborhood cats or even your adorable feline using your garden as a litter box? Put used coffee grounds and orange peels in garden soil and supposedly, you'll no longer have a kitty problem.

3. Gardening Goddess - aside from repelling snails and slugs, adding coffee grounds to your garden soil and even the soil of indoor plants, will boost nutrients. Coffee grounds serve as a great fertilizer as it give nutrients, namely a nitrogen supplement, for plants that live in acidic soil.

4. Crafty Coffee - use coffee grounds in a great craft with the special kiddos in your life. You can make your own fossils. Here's a link all about it:

5. Dust Away - toss wet grounds on fireplace ash to keep from dust getting out of control when you're cleaning.

6. Smell No More - rub coffee grounds into hands to take away strong food odors like onions.

7. Shine On - add shine and soften hair. When washing, rub used grounds through wet hair and then rinse.

8. Dye It - use to dye fabrics, paper and Easter Eggs.

9. Who Needs Arm & Hammer - place dried coffee grounds in a bowl, add a few drops of vanilla and place in the freezer to remove unwanted odors.

10. Skin Treatment - and the topic of this post, skin treatment. Use coffee grounds to remove cellulite and to exfoliate skin.

** I haven't tried any of these, so if you have, let me know if any of them work.

Here's a link to the iVilliage article, but do a Google search for coffee grounds and cellulite and enjoy the reading material.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Here's a Little Note I Wrote

Prepare to Be Thankful!

Art by Paige Pooler

With Halloween over and the harvest season well under way, it's the time of the year when we realize the holidays are here. This is one of my favorite times for so many reasons, like I simply love the warmth of the season. I love the warmth of familiar hugs and blessings.

I love so much about this season that its hard to talk about something that I don't like, but I will because, well, I like to stir the pot a bit. You see, I cannot express, in an eloquent manner, my frustration and annoyance with how Christmas has become so consumer driven. Christmas is and always will be a religious holiday, but for many, it has become a season of spending. This spending morphs into larger volumes of debt. I read an article the other day that talked about how most families over spend at Christmas, putting all purchases on their credit cards that are very rarely paid off by the next Christmas. This is insanity to me and I can honestly admit, I've been there, done that. I had a hard time sleeping at night in August realizing I was struggling to make payments to a credit card that were in existence because of Christmas presents I purchased 3 YEARS AGO! It's awful, I know. I'm no better than anyone else.

This year, my church is holding a sermon series called the Advent Conspiracy. This is going on this month and started last Sunday. The series is taking a hard look at the advent season and what it really means. Think about it, Christmas is a celebration honoring the birth of Christ. Thus, Christmas is Jesus's birthday party. So why is it that no one ever asks Jesus what he wants? I think its because if we did, we wouldn't like the answer. Jesus wouldn't tell us to go into debt to buy things for others that they probably won't like anyway. Jesus wouldn't tell us to buy more toys for children whose rooms look like Toys R Us threw up in them. Jesus wouldn't tell us to by that new TV, car, Coach purse, shoes...when the ones we have are working just fine and still serve there purpose. So, what would Jesus ask for his birthday? Hmmm. Well, maybe that we stop spending mindlessly. Maybe that we actually listen to him and love our neighbor. Maybe that we invest in something that will last, like a prayer life. Maybe that we stay home with our families rather than working overtime to afford gifts that will be in a garage sale a year from now. Maybe that we give food to those who won't be eating on Christmas, let alone receive gifts. Maybe to share the real meaning of Christmas with our children. Maybe to help end poverty, hunger, AIDS, human trafficking, malaria...there is only a few things to pick from after all. And maybe, Jesus would tell us to stop skipping over Thanksgiving.

Christmas is such an important holiday, especially for Christians. It's a time when we can celebrate the coming of Christ, of light and of hope. But it is also a time that comes after another important holiday. I can't stand going shopping this time of year. Why? Because all the Halloween decorations are down and now there are Christmas trees. If you can believe it, I actually went into a Walmart recently that had Halloween decorations up right next to the Christmas trees. WHAT?!?!?!?! What happened to Thanksgiving? Are you one of those people who has asked that question too? Lawd knows I have!

This is the time we can all stop being turkey's and start being thankful. These next few weeks hold a beautiful opportunity for all of us to think about and prepare for Thanksgiving. We can prepare to be thankful. Of course, I think we should do this everyday, but whatever. So...let's not forget Thanksgiving. Let's go on a crusade, not to bring sexy back, but to bring turkey back. Let's bring back a season of thanking before a season of asking. Funny isn't it? It's sort of like prayer. We should go first to the Lord with words of praise and thankfulness. Then, we can spend some time praying for that which we need. Listen, God knows what we need whether we tell Him or not. What God wants to hear is the thank yous for the blessings already bestowed upon you. This is not a time to keep asking for more, when more has driven us further in debt. This is a time to prepare our thanks before the Lord for the many blessings we have all received.

So I urge you...on behalf of all humanity...do not decorate for Christmas yet. And if you have to hang your lights because the weather is kinda nice and you won't run the risk of killing yourself in snow and ice, fine, but I'm begging you, don't turn the lights on until at least the turkey or tofu if you don't eat turkey, has digested!!! PLEASE!!!

I also urge you to enter this time as a season of prayerful thanks to the Lord and those around you who rarely hear those powerful words, "Thank You." Let's be thankful together so that when Christmas comes, we can truly appreciate the depth of giving God has placed in all of us.

Can I hear an Amen?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Little Heartache and A Little Hope

I'm exhausted this morning. Though it wasn't as late a night as I had predicted it was going to be, I couldn't seem to sleep just the same. There is no doubt that last night was historic and I'm excited to live in a country that has moved passed race issues enough to elect a black man to the U.S. presidency. I'm honored to have been a part of this and to be able to share the stories of this time with my children and grand-children.

That being said, I must admit that I'm a bit heart broken this morning. I, like many Americans, voted for the other guy. I didn't vote against Obama's color, that was never an issue for me. I just felt more confident and secure with McCain. So, like many Americans, I awake this morning trying to fight the concern I have for my future and the future of this country. I do not know for sure that Obama will not do a wonderful job as president, nor do I know for sure he'll do a terrible job. What I do know, is that he is headed into one of the worst economic situations imaginable and his is a job I wouldn't want. What I do know is that no matter what anyone thinks, this man is going to have a rough four years. There is a lot of mess to clean up and this country needs a good deal of healing. What I do know is that Obama and the rest of our elected officials are going to need our prayers. We need to prayer for their leadership, guidance and wisdom. We need to pray that they lead with a spirit of shalom and that they truly strive for what is right for all and not just a few.

I must also admit that as a woman, I'm a bit heart broken that yet again, a woman will not make it to high elected office. I guess I always figured that our country would open her arms to many different possibilities for president (race, culture) before it opened it's mind enough to a female president or vice president. However, in the process of all of this, I can look at the positive side and take a glimmer of hope that we as a country have at least evolved to the point that we are realizing that anything can happen and Obama being elected is helping to pave the way for someday the door being opened to a woman. I will continue to long for that day and I'm sure when it comes I will be as emotionally overcome as many African Americans were last night. To feel embraced, accepted and to realize you've just done something people have told you you'd never do. The women in Seneca Falls all those years ago dreamed of a day when women could vote and dreamed harder for a day, someday when a woman could lead. Never would they have thought we'd have gotten this far so quickly. If we look back in our history books or life (for some of you old folks, ha), the 60s gave us hope for unity but the idea that in this short amount of time, someone of an oppressed people, could rise up, that is historic and beautiful whether you like Obama or not.

I still have my worries and I'm still concerned about the future of this country and I still think my candidate would have been better. That's just honesty. However, none of that matters now. I cannot change the vote. What I can do is be a leader in myself and to join my country in the fight to make it better. I can continue to care enough for her to fight for what's right, to lead with grace and to pray for her.

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