Things I am Grateful For Today

1. The man at the park who rides on old school roller skates with a boom box carried in front of him and sometimes raised over his head.

2. The fact that:
a) my favorite public garden in denver was being planted this morning
b) the men doing the work were listening to "Can't Touch This"

3. My roller blades still work. And I didn't fall once on my half hour ride. Four miles!

4. A man at the park yesterday was laying out wearing:
a) a turqiose speedo
b) a moustache . . . no beard

5. An arguement this morning was quickly transformed into a laugh-fest about herb trying to move my gas tank from the passenger side to the driver side of my car.

6. The sun is shining

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Cheap Cigarettes and Holiness

Something about these sweet simple words by rosie thomas stir a deep place inside of me:

so much for love
guess i've been wrong
but it's all right
cuz i'm moving on
i've got my car all packed with cassette tapes
and sweaters and loose change and cheap cigarettes
i'm gonna drive through the hills
with my hand out the window
and sing 'til i run out of words
i'm gonna stop at every truck stop
make small talk with waiters and truck driving men
i'm gonna fall asleep in the back seat
with no one around but me and my friends

it's gonna be so grand
it's gonna be just like my wedding day

i've had enough of love
it feels good to give up
so good to be good to myself
i'm gonna get on the highway with no destination
and plenty of vision in mind
and i'm gonna drive to the ocean
go skinny dipping
blow kisses to venus and mars
i'm gonna stop at every bar
and flirt with the cowboys in front their girlfriends

it's gonna be so grand
it's gonna be just like my wedding day

so much for love
i guess i've been wrong
but it's all right cuz i'm moving on
i'm gonna drive over hills
over mountains and canyons
and boys that keep bringin me down
i'm gonna drive under skyline and sunshine
drink good wine in vineyards
and get asked to dance
i'm gonna be carefree and let nothing pass me by
never ever again

it's gonna be so grand
it's gonna be so grand
just like my wedding day

These words stir a place inside . . .
A place that knows more about life and God and love than I do.
A place that is longing for real things and recognizes them when they are found.
What is so spiritual or real about drinking good wine and packing up loose change & cozy sweaters?
Surly there is nothing holy about a sweater. Unless you don't keep moth balls in your closet.
But this idea of packing up your favorite sweaters to keep you warm and mend your heart . . . there is something very spiritual about this.
I like this image.
I get it.
It has to do with healing and growth and hope.
And I do think God is in that sweater. Somehow. Not in a "everything is God and God is everything" sort of a way . . . there is a word for that which I learned in Seminary, but my mind does not hold non-intuitive, non-experiential information. So, you'll just have to figure it out yourself. But I think God is in that interaction between me and my sweater. When we seek comfort, whether we are seeking him as the source of comfort or not . . . we are seeking comfort . . . and when we seek comfort, I think he shows up too . . . just in case we choose to call on him. Because he so wants to comfort us.

He wants us to find joy in the simple things. In dancing with strangers. And when we blow kisses to the heavens, i think he catches them and puts them in the pocket of his beautiful patch work robe. Right next to the grizzley bear.

If God is an ocean, there is nothing more he wants than for us to skinny dip in him. Naked. Free.

He wants us to get in our cars, on our bikes, on our pogo sticks and drive, ride, or hop away from anger and sin and drive and drive until we see new life on the horizon. heartache and pain can come along for the ride. he will take care of us.
And somehow, maybe somehow, these sweet pleasures bring us joy not just like our worldly wedding days . . . but also like our wedding banquet we will share with the lamb.

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Irreverant Mother's Day

And I thought my sister and I knew how to make my mom blush . . .

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Plan B: Rescue Anne Lamott from My Husband

Last month Anne Lamott came to Denver. I was so excited to hear her speak that I urged my small group to go on a field trip to the Tattered Cover in lieu of our regular meeting that night. Weeks before the evening of Anne, I made a very important decision. To not take a copy of her book to the reading for her to sign afterwards. In the same parts of my mind that were convinced as a ten year old girl that if i sang in the grocery store i might get discovered by a talent scout, I am somewhat convinced that somehow, somewhere Anne and I will tour together. She will be my mentor. My Yoda. And I knew that if I asked her to sign my book, I would spend the entire day before the reading preparing something clever to say that would engage and endear her to me. Something that would make her say, "Well, you are quite the interesting young lady. Can I finish up with these books here real quick and meet you upstairs for a cup of coffee to talk more about your heart, mind, writing, and God?" And because my mom refused to shop at the grocery stores where all the talent scouts hunt down the child stars, I new that the same would be true now. And I decided I didn't have the energy to get my hopes up. Hence, no book at the signing.

So, we listened to her read. Fabulous. She is fabulously fucked up. I appreciate that in a follower of Christ. And afterwards, while people got their books signed and one girl I knew shyly slid Anne a handmade card (i bet she sang in the grocery store too), I sat contently in a rocking chair at the back of the store watching people. Not worried about saying something perfect to Anne.

Until . . . until. Until I saw a crowd gathering around Herb across the room (we ended up knowing about 25 people at the reading). Shouts and hollers rose up from the crowd and floated over to my rocking chair. I recognized the stench of a dare. Just like a bunch of eight grade boys planning to do something gross with the remains of their school lunches, I heard the roar of the crowd around Herb . . . with a virtual "CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!" rising from the crowd. Herb pivoted and began walking towards Anne. Anne Lamott. I had no idea what he was going to say, but I knew it wouldn't be good. He hasn't even read Traveling Mercies yet!

I raced across the store just in time to hear my sweet husband ask Anne . . . Anne Lamott . . . to sign his arm. My response, "You do NOT have to sign his arm!" Gee, brilliant. This is exactly what I wanted to say to Anne the first time we met! I am so sure she needed my permission to decline Herb's request! Later, Herb told me that he started the conversation by asking her about her personal policy on signing body parts. I was horrified. He told me that Anne could not have been offended, "just look at her books". I tried to explain, that like me, she will say anything, but is likely embarrassed and put off by outrageous things that are said to her.

Yesterday, I sat at my wacky alternative medicine doctors office receiving an IV that is supposed to help with my back pain and fatigue. I am not so sure about that, but I figured it would give me an hour to read. Plus, the nurse brings me blankets and juice boxes if I ask nicely. It is a good incentive to practive being nice. While an IV bag full of what might possibly be nothing more than Mountain Dew dripped into my vein, I read Anne's newest book. The nurse asked me what I was reading.

"Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith" by Anne Lamott.
"Oh, what kind of book is it?"
"Well, technically it is a Christian book. But she has this incredible sense of humor that I really appreciate."

Somehow, this sent the nurse and the other patient into an excited dialogue about the Left Behind series and the accuracy of the books when paralelled with Scripture. It was as if I said, "Mother Teresa is my hero and they replied, 'Oh, we LOVE Paris Hilton!'" If I had the energy and the brain functioning to think, I would have said something. Shouted something. Done something. But I don't have that kind of energy or brain functioning . . . hence the IV bag full of Mountain Dew. Instead, I just sat there and giggled to myself.

Herb is pretty sure that if I had told Anne Lamott that the mention of her book spurred a conversation about the Left Behind Series that she would have signed his arm.

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Growing Up Is Hard to Do

Six years ago, a (former) roommate who works for a mentoring ministry asked if I would be interested in going through the training program to become a mentor for an at risk teenager. My response: "I know your program is focused on teens . . . but unfortunately, I don't do teens. I didn't understand them when I was one and they certainly didn't understand me! If by some chance you found a child for me to mentor, I would talk about that with you."

Six months later she stood in the doorway of my room, "Well, I met your child today. She is your twin - totally how I picture you when you were a child - looks, personality - everything!" And it was true, this child and I were meant for each other. Even the way we got connected was phenomenal. When I was a counseling student, I randomly ran into the seminary's on-site cousneling center to say hi to somebody. I bumped into a woman who asked if I knew of any mentoring programs in town. She had a young clinet that needed a friend more than she needed thearpy. I directed her to Becky. And a few months later, Becky stood in my doorway - "I found your child!"

From her creativity, to her sensitivity, to her family dynamics, and her questionable sense of style/structure/and time management - we are so similar! Over the years, we have grown together, traveled together, and eaten our weight in ice cream together (I got two scoops for every one she had). It has been a serendipitous experience.

In the last year or two, we have seen less and less of each other. I have been busy and she doesn't call. We get together once every two or three months and go to a movie or something. I try talking to her. Sometimes she talks back. She handed out programs at our wedding. That's about it.

I got an email from her mother this week. My sweet little girl friend is now 14 years old and *gasp* kissing boys. She isn't supposed to be kissing boys. No, really, she isn't. It is against the rules at her house. But her little sister told on her. Oops. So, now, her mom wants me to start meeting with her again on a regular basis. It is a good idea. Teenagers need adults beside their parents to support them. But remember, I don't do teenagers.

Now, since the time that I originally declined working with a teen mentee, I have worked professionally with many teenagers. But most of them were boys - and we all know that drug and porn addicted teenage boys are much more reasonable and kind than any 14 year old girl.

But despite my fear of teenage girls, Herb and God have been talking to me about it and they both feel it is a good idea - for my friend and for me. So, next week, I will eat ice cream with the cute nine year old girl who has grown up into an adolescent who signs her emails "Vampire Freak". I guess I will wear a necklace of garlic bulbs around my neck.

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Insignificant Dribble that Must be Said

Last night I used RAW dough (found in the freezer section of your organic grocers) to make a pizza for my baby. When Herb is cranky or even just a little fragile, his response to my question "What do you feel like for dinner?" is always a resounding "PIZZA but I can't have it!!!" So, yesterday I convinced him to let me make him a pizza to indulge himself and hopefully get over his pizza craving which had been hanging on all weekend. There is nothing more gratifying than finding a way to give the person you love what they want and what they need. This RAW dough is only 19 carbs per serving. It is organic and made with whole wheat flour. I am still all aglow from my pizza success. I promised him the "best damn pizza ever" - and the best damn pizza it was!

In other irrelevant and useless news, Rose from 7th Heaven wore my wedding gown last night in the final episode ever! Only, something funky was going on with her train when it was bustled. Mine looked much cooler than hers!

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Cinco De Harji

Before I finally committed to our dating relationship, when Herb would ask me if I wanted to go on a date with him, I would reply, "Well, it depends if we are still together. I can commit to either one more week or 70 years. I haven't decided which one yet."
He is a patient, patient man.

On Friday, Herb and I recognized six months of marriage.
Here's to 69 and 1/2 more years!

1. I flood the bathroom when I take a shower.
2. Laundry is not the bane of my existence when done twice a week instead of once every three weeks.
3. Simple gestures speak louder than a million eloquent words.
4. I have a deep place inside that needs to be kissed by the Living God.
5. Scrubs, The Office, and yes, even Anchorman are funny after all.
6. Having somebody to go through the highs and lows with is as gratifying as I had hoped it would be.



Irony, Stellar Store Planning, and the Cycle of Life

Last night, after my counseling appointment, I decided to engage in some continued therapy. So, I went where any gal would go when seeking to enlighten, grow, and heal . . . Target. In addition to finding hilarious, cheap puppy and lion costumes for Levi and Ali's third birthdays and snagging some sassy beaded shoes, I found myself duly entertained by the set up of the store. Completely tailored to the female customer, ages 18-35, your journey begins smack dab in women's clothing and accessories. Next, we move into lingerie . . . which gently and subtly flows into the Maternity section. From there, it is all smoooooth sailing right into baby clothes.

So apparently life is like this:
If you look hot.
You take your clothes off.
Then you look hotter.
Then things get hotter.
Then you're just hot because your body temperature is unregulated for 9 months.
And finally, you breastfeed a small child for the next year of your life, in which you will be covered with baby throw-up and diaper rash cream.
During this time, you will not be hot or feel hot.
You will do nothing hot.
Once baby turns about 18 months, you will begin to regain your senses.
You will still not look hot.
But the mere sight of your husband's hands no longer repluses you and you will want to feel hot again.
So you will journey back to the front of the store.
And the cycle starts all over again.

This, friends is the real reason why we see so many mothers with one toddler and one infant, buying bulk supplies of diapers in the grocery section of Target (which, coincidentally, is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from baby clothes).
Damn marketing strategists!

So, ladies, next time you put on a sparkly tank top or a pair of hoop earrings, think about where this might all be leading you!

(*** i get the same chuckle every time i walk by my favorite lingerie store, Sirens on Third . . . which is appropriately placed right next door to the cutest maternity shop - Belly! ***)

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The Promises We Keep

During this part of our ceremony Herb whispered: "Wow, that's a lot of salt." To which I replied (either audibly or in my mind. I don't remember - I was the bride so I don't have to remember!), "Well, it's a big commitment!"

The final part of Herb's wedding vows to me:
"I vow to laugh with you, sing off-key with you, boogie with you, cry with you, celebrate with you, make babies with you, walk in the park with you, nap with you, make decisions with you, tickle you, travel with you, and share my entire life with you until death do us part!"

It is so easy to get caught up in looking for big indicators of his love for me. But as I re-read these vows today, I realize that he shows me that he loves me all the time. Just the other night, we laid on our bed, and sang (off-key of course!) through the script of the musical RENT. It was so sweet, so simple, so unplanned. . . but so romantic and so saturated with Herb's vows. Saturated with Herb's heart.

So we laid there, on our regular bed in our regular house, after a night at church, after onion rings at Spanky's and before Grey's Anatomy. In the middle of our normal life, we lived our vows, singing:

"There is no future. There is not past. I live this moment. As my last. There's only us. There's only this. Forget regret. Or life is yours to miss. No other road. No other way. No day but today."

And as a sidenote: regarding the lame date you went on a few weeks ago, Kelly - straight men DO like musical theatre! You go girl! That man was not worth your while! But you already knew that! And that is reason 238 why I love you.

And as another sidenote: The blue behind us in this picture is not stained glass . . . it is Colorado's autumn indigo night sky. How lovely!

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Recipies are Mere Suggestions for Your Own Artwork

***EDIT*** I forgot to add that 1/2 cup (approximately . . . I don't actually measure much when cooking) of canned pumpkin makes the Bannana Bread so much more moist and lovely!

Once a week I (try to) make a low-carb cheesecake for my desert lovin', atkins diet adhearing man. he loves desert but he also loves being not fat. so i make him high protien, low sugar cheesecake. he loves it. i don't think it is the best thing i have ever eaten, but when dieting, one must adjust their standards of tastey delights.
i make the cheesecake because i love him.
and today, i make banana bread because i love me.

i have used this recipie before. i recommend using whole wheat flour for at least half of the white flour. i have also mixed in frozen blackberries . . . that was a tastey treat. I am also posting the yummy dish we had last night. I added chicken, artichoke hearts, and toasted pine nuts. Higher in fat but also higher in protien. Portabella mushrooms would be good in this too, i bet. mmmmmm. I served it to herb w/o the pasta. and for me, whole wheat pasta. herb loved it, so i am passing it along to you!

Classic Banana Bread

From Cooking Light

We love this bread's moist texture and simple flavor. Banana bread should form a crack down the center as it bakes--a sign the baking soda is doing its job.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 1 loaf, 14 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

CALORIES 187(21% from fat); FAT 4.3g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 3.3g; CHOLESTEROL 40mg; CALCIUM 20mg; SODIUM 198mg; FIBER 1.1g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.4g

Roasted Red Pepper and Cream Sauce

From Cooking Light

Bottled red peppers at the base of this rich sauce deliver ample flavor and save the effort of roasting your own. Balsamic vinegar helps balance the natural sweetness of the peppers. It's also good with chicken.

1 pound uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 (12-ounce) bottle roasted red bell peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
Thinly sliced fresh basil (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add bell peppers; cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes.

Place bell pepper mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Return bell pepper mixture to pan; cook over low heat until warm. Combine half-and-half and tomato paste in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir tomato mixture into bell pepper mixture, stirring with a whisk until well combined. Stir in ground red pepper.

Combine pasta and bell pepper mixture in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup cheese, tossing to coat. Spoon 1 1/3 cups pasta into each of 6 bowls; top each with about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese. Garnish with basil, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

CALORIES 424(23% from fat); FAT 10.7g (sat 5.6g,mono 3.7g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 17.6g; CHOLESTEROL 32mg; CALCIUM 222mg; SODIUM 383mg; FIBER 3g; IRON 2.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 62.9g