Before the New Year rolls around with all its goal for the future, and my holiday decorations are all packed up in their 18 gal.bins and stashed against the garage wall, I thought I’d take a few moments to reminisce about Christmas and 2011.

Every Christmas brings with it a different combo of family with which to spend good time – eating, laughing, unwrapping, celebrating and relaxing. This year, 2011, it included

Christmas Eve-Eve ~ We welcomed Rick & Jan into town from Southern California. They made the long drive up to Portland just to see us kids and grand kids. It was pretty special! We all went in on a Greenberg turkey that Jamie thought of ordering way in advance and brought with her. Jan stopped by Thriftway for some extra ingredients to complete our dinner that turned out to be so yummy. Riley, 3, had fun running around the house with Bray and Angel, until his obsession with brownies got him in some trouble.  Bray absolutely loved his personalized ATM machine to help him save and Angel, her Barbie Beach House from Granny & Papa Rick (and! Tyler was here too, which made the evening extra special. Here’s a link to some more thoughts on this evening – as well as some more shots!

Christmas Eve ~ We slept in, our kiddos re-organized their gifts for the 3rd or 4th time, and we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” – well, the kids and I did. Rick who I am convinced has some kind of repressed horrid memory having to do with classic  movies and/or traditions in general, escaped the house for some last-minute shopping.  It was still a special time for me because it was B & A’s 1st time ever watching the Jimmy Stewart movie…forever a classic in my book – one that I remember watching (or at least having on TV, muted, during the festivities) while I was growing up.  Braylon especially, seemed to like it…which made my heart smile. Speaking of movies, Bray opened his present from Gamma and Papa Bob – and he cannot wait to purchase it when it comes out 1/17: the movie they saw in the theater together when Gamma was here visiting at Halloween: Courageous…+ some extra cash to save.  And Angel & I got to put her new Hello Kitty sheets, pillow cases & decorative pillow on her new full bed, with a giant smile. Thank you Pilands!! I, still with no make up on, opened up my gift from Rick – an iHome speaker system for my iPod touch, a personalized coffee mug written on by all 3 of them, and the unexpected.

He’d paid off the ring I have been paying on for the last year. A new, white-gold wedding ring with feminine sparkles and swirls. After 14 years, my original ring was pretty worn out, constantly losing little diamonds, snagging its prongs on clothing & the main diamond ring was was not even centered/secured right on the wrap. The silver-colored rhodium plating would also rub off so the gold would show through on the highest parts, every year or so. I was pretty patient if I do say so myself! And it totally paid off. I thought it’d be at least another year til I was able to finish paying on it with extra money, here & there. But it’s on order now…being made for me from scratch, and should be in by the 10th or so. I’m keeping the main diamond that was originally from Janis’s wedding ring… just using it in the new one now. So SpeCiAl!

That evening we piled our things into the car and headed to the Bebb’s for presents and a delicious Indian food feast – tenderly marinated chicken in an Indian sauce over rice, I brought Pita bread w/this home-made thick cucumber-mint-yogurt dip stuff – Raita? …and home made brownies w/real whipped cream. You can always count on Charity to bring good food to gatherings. Fresh veggies, a pretty sun-dried tomato & basil cream-cheese  and cracker plate, and lots more.

My mom & dad both broke the rule of not getting ea.other gifts – he got her a big canvas painting/photo of their favorite beach in Hawaii, and she got him a real ukulele – which he’s really gettin’ quite good at playin’!


Gramma Grace ~ a poem on Memories in Honor

Her hugs would envelope my tiny frame
Hydrangeas of purple white blue
Her slanted driveway gave us a game
Makeshift go-cart planks on wheels

Easter service bunny cake-pan
Jellybeans green-hued coconut
Lemon drop dishes, two in each hand
Makeshift roller skate rink in the back

Reader’s Digest, People’s Court
Whopner, dachshunds, motorized chair
Secret passage, hideout, fort
Eyes that sparkle, giggle fest

We were welcome, we were there
Road trips, parks, reunion fun
We were clueless to despair
Until she stole her life from us

1995 in Spring
When Easter boasts of Jesus’ blood
The day after her birthday’d bring
News of her blood, it left her still

We watched her Pastor lift and roll
Heavy carpet, dripping bed
What would become of Gramma’s soul?
Her wounded heart, is it now whole?

There was no stone that rolled away
Her Depression held a permanence
Can suicide be void of blame?
I’ll never point to man, nor self

Two years later, down the isle
Eight and Braylon grew inside
Twelve my Angel flashed her smile
Nineteen now, I miss her still

Field Day Fun

Today was filled with relay races, water hoses, baseball tosses, sponges & a lot more outdoor adventuring.It was the 2nd year I’ve been able to attend Braylon’s Field Day. While I was there, taking pictures with my phone,  memories came flooding back from all my Field Days at Community Christian School.

See, my dad wasn’t just my dad – he was my school Principal. Continue reading

Turn off your cell phones and…pagers?

I read this request from time to time on movie screens, or hear it before a church service or performance. And every time, I’m like, “why do they still say ‘pagers’?” …unless they’re addressing all the doctors in the house (?!) It always brings me back to the days before cell phones – when I had a pager of my own.

It wasn’t mine, though. Ricky & I were 19 – he was madly in love with me, in ’96, and as a token of that love, he gave me a pager- so that he could page me – or page messages to me from his pager. I know we weren’t the only ones to do this back in the day, but that was some fine, primitive texting, right there…with a bonus feature ~ unravelling the mysterious code.

See, the typical message we’d send to each other was of course, in all numbers. So whenever I got a message from my boyfriend, I’d stop what I was doin’, pull over, or go somewhere semi-private (which i recall many times being “The Donut King” by Papa Murphy’s on Boones Ferry Rd. in Tualatin, OR), then pull out my little cheat-sheet for decoding, and finally, read his message with a sense of satisfaction & a giddy smile.

What was the code? Well, pure genius; the numbers would correspond to the numbers on a phone pad (1 was never used, 2 was A, B or C, 3 was D, E or F…) so with each number … came 3-4 letters to choose from.

I’d skillfully line up my 3-4 ltr choices, one under the other, so that each word would be solvable vertically – kinda like a word-search, but…well, this is getting to hard to explain. I think I’ll just get him to manually demonstrate! He just sent me the following message:

588 8 69 382426

And I had to figure it out on paper, so here it is!


(and a close-up…)


Awwwe! That’s been his name for me since way back then – it’s short for: “Dubian Princess”. I don’t think that’s a real word. I think he coined it – but I’m pretty sure he got it from the similar term, “Nubian Princess” which after looking it up in the Urban Dictionary, I just realized means: “A luscious A-town chick who gets more booty than a toilet seat.”

Um…well, that’s cool…cuz I’m not his Nubian. I’m his Dubian. And I just IM’d him to ask what that means to him, & he said “Precious Princess”.    ; )

Also, a little coding side-note: our patented sign-off was 143 – betcha couldn’t guess that one – OK, I’ll help you out. These correspond to how many letters are in ea. word:

1  = I

4 = love

3 = you

…and to that, the other would always reply, “1432” (2 = “too”), & usually end the message with: 4L (4L = “for life”). So that was our archaic secret messaging system. (Again, ours as well as thousands of other couples, I’m sure). But I think I’d rather stay in my dreamy romantic denial…so don’t tell me if you did it too.



Four Weddings or a Funeral?

I might seem a little morbid or strange, but if were given the choice, (assuming the food was great at both) I’d rather go to a funeral than a wedding, any day. A service that’s dedicated to remembering & honoring someone loved has a lot more potential impact than a service dedicated to uniting two people in marriage (which stats say, over half don’t make it anyway, Christian or not). You rarely drive away from a memorial service without really considering your own life…without reevaluating…without being reminded of how little time we have on this earth, and with our loved ones. I was reminded by my friend, Marlena, that even our time here with our spouse is temporary. We may think or act like we’ll be with them forever, even in heaven, but the Bible’s clear there is no marriage in heaven. Our lives are vapors. As Master Oogway said in the classic, Kung Fu Panda, “Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the “present.” 

Our children or “soul-mate” may be taken away from us.  And what would we have left? Will we find comfort in happy hour? Or count seconds until we’re able to sleep every night? Will we revel in the peace that at least we still have equity in our big homes or seat warmers in our lexus (is the plurrel of that Lexi)? Will I say, “at least there will always be my 401K” or even “my friends”?

What I’m left with in a funeral’s last moments, are thoughts of what I’m left in the last moments of life…that when all is said & done, bought, drunk & eaten, the only thing left, worth anything on this earth, is actually eternal. Jesus & His Word.

Tomorrow, my friend Rachel is singing & playing the guitar (“When the Tears Fall” by Tim Hughes) @ her uncle’s memorial service.  He died a tragic, unexpected death. Please pray for the entire Strom family today & tomorrow, especially her father, as his brother’s service is prepared and carried out…pray for peace & comfort & that every life represented in that place would be impacted for the glory of God.

Thank you so much.

Me, on Stage, @ Austin City Limits?!

One of my family’s favorite shows is Austin City Limits.  And today my mom & dad joined Angel and I (finally after 16 mo.s living in Austin), as we carved out some time to stop by the KLRU studio and “grace”  that stage, just like so many talents…artists I would love to see live, like  Susan Tedeschi, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, B.B. King, Joss StoneCorrine Bailey Rae, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt & Alison Krauss.

I was sure to have my black guitar in tow so I could do a lil ditty jus’ for fun! The only songs I could think of at the time were part of “Lie to Me”  (Jonny Lang) and my ol’ stand-by, “America the Beautiful“. On the way home I was thinkin’ “Dang it! Why didn’t I sing the song I just wrote?! At ACL, they never do cover songs! Just like the moments after a bad argument, my mind kept comin’ up with “shoulda’s”.

As Angel cheered us on from her stroller, my mom played the piano and then my dad took the stage with a guitar solo before we all headed to the hall of framed photos…about 40 great shots of musicians in action – hanging on the hallway walls. It was soooo fun.

Today was my day to dream. Not really dream BIG…but to dream, nonetheless.


     singing    into-it   dancing   cmon  

Maybe one day I’ll go back to that studio, and it won’t be for pretend. I’ll get to sing that original song (“A Psalm for Today”)…and I’ll be in my element ~ sharin’ with others some weighty words, a soulful melody and a voice God has been so good to give to me.


romance is…pizza, coffee, music, conversation & memories

can i just say in response to ms. mandy’s post a while back about romance in marriage…that yeah, it’s possible! not convenient a lot of times, but possible! we’re in our 14th yr. of bein’ together and we’re still comin’ up w/new things. course $ helps, but it’s sure not nec. ~ if you have a way to swap kids w/a friend and walk around downtown together holding a coffee in one hand and each other with the other, it’s all good…like ethan hawke says to winona ryder in “reality bites” :

Troy:: See Lainy, this is all we need. A couple of smokes, a cup of coffee, and a little bit of conversation. You and me and five bucks.
Lelaina:: You got it!

case-in-point: my hubs got tickets to a concert (one of our fave artists, marc broussard), but the guy who bought them couldn’t go, so ricky asked me! the night was ours to own. we were just ourselves together. we talked. we got starbucks & new jersey style pizza, we got front row (thanks baby, for being so anal about getting there so dang early!), we got our groove on, we made fools of ourselves, we met cool people, we sang, we shot videos of the concert, we got home late, stayed up even later and slept in til 10.

we got to know each other better that night…and we got some kick-*@%! memories (& a guitar pick) to show for it.

now, c’mon. ain’t that what it’s all about?!


let’s hear some more examples (PG-13) of a romantic night in married life!