Staple it

I had this youth pastor for a period of time. I must have been about 13 or 14 years old; I was a high school freshman. I went to a big church in Tulsa and this youth pastor and his wife were young and just starting out in the ministry. They have their own mongo-church in Oklahoma City now and they are big time. But back then, they were just a sweet, young couple struggling to manage a room full of rowdy, hormonal teenagers.

So we would sit there wearing our Guess jeans rolled up just right, our K-Swiss tennis shoes, and our ponytails held in place with colorful scrunchies. Mr. Youth Pastor would come in and preach to us. It was the Mrs. Youth Pastor’s job to lead us in worship, make announcements, and generally keep the peace until her husband would come rescue her and take over the wild things. Her favorite thing to say to get us quiet was, “Staple it!”

Naturally, that became our mantra. Poor Mrs. Youth Pastor; half the kids in there thought she was crazy. Personally, I remember thinking she was beautiful and mature and cool and married, and all the things I wanted to be.

Looking back, the woman was right on target. In my humble opinion, there is nothing more important a teenager can do than be quiet. Don’t you remember thinking we knew everything? And don’t you know now, more than ever, that we didn’t? And this doesn’t just apply to teenagers, but anyone. Sometimes the best thing we can do is “Staple it.”

The Bible talks about bridling our tongues in the book of James, and how an unbridled tongue makes one’s religion useless. Well, the Juli translation of that is, “Staple it.” James goes on to encourage us to be swift to hear but slow to speak. Would you look at that? He’s telling us to “Staple it.” That James was on to something. And he wasn’t the only one. There are hundreds of scriptures that talk about the power of our words; power to give life, power to give death, power to bless and power to curse, power to bring us trouble, and power to bring us peace.

Sometimes we really need to let God do the talking for us, and just “Staple it.”

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Seize the moment

It’s about 10AM on Thursday, the 5th day of our cruise. We are at sea today, and will be until we arrive back into Los Angeles on Saturday morning. I am sitting outside on our balcony watching the waves, hoping to catch a glimpse of a whale. Lynn is roughing up the boys in our cabin, burning off the sugar rush from the pancakes.

If you could see me now, you would really chuckle. I got up this morning, bright and cheery, slipped on a tank top and a khaki skirt and my favorite flips . . . hair in a pony tail, no makeup, sunglasses; the usual cruise breakfast attire. The moment I stepped onto the breezeway that opens into the restaurant, I realized the error of my ways. Overnight we had sailed out of balmy Puerto Vallarta and into the windy Pacific, the temperature dropping about twenty degrees and the wind speed increasing by about twenty miles per hour. (I know there’s a more ocean-centric way to say that, but my coffee was rather weak.)

Anyway, since my naïve foray out amongst the English, I have acquired some more clothing. I put my PJ’s back on over my clothes, stole a green hoodie and a pair of socks from Jaxon, and swiped the comforter off the bed. Now, I’m rather cozy, the heat from my computer keeping my lap warm.

The moral of this story is, SEIZE THE MOMENT! If you find yourself mismatched and funky, but warm, blog about it! If you find yourself freezing your tail off and your fingers aren’t working right, blog about that too. When the kids are doing homework and you need to stay near them for the inevitable questions, seize that moment and read a book, write a note, read your bible, slip your earbuds in and listen to something soothing. Don’t just sit there twiddling your thumbs and waiting until you can move on to the next event of your day. Do something with the moment that you’re in. Many are the sweet moments while you’re waiting.

Have a happy day!

I’m cheap, and I can’t dance

I am friends with technology. Not BFF’s, but friends. We say hi to each other in the hallways, but I would not let her borrow my lip gloss. I would let her copy off of my math homework, but I wouldn’t invite her to my slumber party.

Technology and I are fighting this week. I am on a boat right now. I was on an airplane yesterday. Each of these modes of transportation does offer internet service. But they make you jump through endless hoops and spend hundreds of dollars to get online. It just irks me. I have this great laptop; I have wi-fi enabled on it. I have extra long battery life, and of course I have power cords. I have a nifty carrying case for all my electronic doo-dads. I even brought my reading glasses for when I have to get down and dirty and do a final proof-read of a blog post. (Hey, I’m not 20 anymore!) But I can’t deal with the insane charge to hook up to the on-board wi-fi. I just can’t do it.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think if you pay for an airline ticket or a cruise fare, you should be able to access the on-board internet that is there for our use. They just want to squeeze a little more dough out of you. As if we haven’t already produced enough cookies for them. Double You Tee Heck?

So I am writing this blog in a plain old Word document and when I can find some free wi-fi, I will post it on my blog. OK, maybe just when I find some really cheap wi-fi.

I am an enigma. I paid $5 this morning for a grande non-fat latte with an extra shot, and very willingly, mind you, but I’m whining about paying for internet. I don’t even get me. I can imagine why my husband just rolls his eyes and says, “That’s Juli.”

I’m cheap, and I can’t dance. That’s me in a nutshell. I just wanted to share this little bit of myself with you. Goodnight.

The baby grand

So I have this friend. This friend had a big beautiful grand piano in her living room. She loved pianos all her life and hoped and prayed to have one in her home some day.

This friend always gave freely of herself. She was a blessing wherever she went. She gave and gave and helped people. Recently, God blessed her with a second piano. He’s cool like that. But my friend didn’t have room for two pianos.

So my friend asked her friend, me, if I liked pianos.

Did I have one?

Did I have room for one?

Did I know how to play one

What kind of piano would I like if I got to choose the perfect piano?

My answers were yes, no, yes, no, and dark brown baby grand.

What do you know? That’s exactly the kind of piano that she didn’t have room for. So Friday morning, I am having a dark brown baby grand piano delivered to my house to be featured beautifully and prominently in my living room. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

Now, for the sake of accuracy in reporting, I must tell you that this is not an outright gift, but it will be “stored” at my house . . . indefinitely.

I have always wanted a baby grand piano, always. I had them through my childhood in nearly all my houses (we moved a lot), and they just meant to me that I was home. I remember going to sleep many nights to the sound of my mother playing the piano. I remember hours of lying on my back underneath it, contemplating life. I remember the alternating hollow and muffled sounds it made when I pressed the foot pedals. I remember how it smelled. Mmm, it was a happy smell.

This friend of mine couldn’t know what a sweet blessing this piano is to me. She didn’t know me through my childhood, she doesn’t know anything about my feelings about baby grand pianos. But God does. He knows our deepest thoughts, He knows what will bring us joy. He knows what will fill that little empty spot in our hearts. He knows US. That’s just one of the many things I love about the Lord.

He knows you that same way.

Do what you have to do

Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, even if people don’t understand it and think you’re crazy. Even if people don’t like your style, or they perceive what you do or don’t do as “getting away with something,” you just have to do it. You can’t please people, you couldn’t please them all if you wanted to, but you must please God.

My job is taking care of my husband and my son, and loving those around me, and being a blessing where I can. My job is to do my job, and do it well. My job is to serve God and fulfill my calling. I want God to be pleased with me. It’s nice if other people are too, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.

I needed to stay with a friend while both our husband’s were out-of-town and we were hit with a major snow storm. She doesn’t like to be by herself, so I did what I had to do and we had fun. We cooked, we laughed, we watched kids play in the snow, we stayed warm. I helped her out and she was a blessing to me, as she always is. You do what you have to do.

I was sitting at the kitchen table helping Jax with homework while he was literally standing on his head for me to let him go sledding. He had been out of school for a week for Pete’s sake, but he thought I was torturing him by making him to homework. Needless to say it was 7 degrees outside. 7! Nobody needs to be outside when it’s 7 degrees. Nobody. I wouldn’t make a dog be outside in that. But it was what I had to do. So I did what I had to do.

I braved a two-hour-round-trip to Wal-Mart in insane traffic because for the first time in two weeks, Tulsans had a nice day and they had been cooped up to the point of delusion, and so they hit the road, en masse. I did it because I needed milk and eggs and dog food and coffee. Forget traffic, I needed Keurig coffee K-Cups and they sell them at Wal-Mart, praise God. I did what I had to do.

Get up, get dressed, go do what you have to do. It shouldn’t be a hard choice. Love your family, love the Lord, do your job well, put a smile on your face, go get the job done!

Make a mark where you live

I’m blogging in the sky today. This is a new one for me. No, I’m not cool enough to hook up my laptop to in-flight internet and post a blog; I’m just a simple gal. This one was written long-hand on a legal pad. I find the whole in-flight internet thing way too complicated . . . not to mention expensive. The bottom line is, I’m cheap. There. I said it. The battle is now half won. Admitting it was the hardest part.

I just took off from Chattanooga, headed home from our blow-out celebration weekend for my sweet Christi’s birthday. I’m really glad I have another year to prepare for my own 40th celebration because it may take me that long to recover from hers. That girl can par-tay! But don’t worry, I did issue her a stern warning regarding any photographic evidence of my dancing skills, or lack thereof. There is a chicken somewhere laughing at me and saying, “That’s the worst impersonation I’ve ever seen; chickens don’t even have fingers!”

So, while we’re talking about nonsense, here’s a tidbit for you. The city of Chattanooga has roughly 180,000 people, Tulsa has approximately 400,000 people. Tulsa has a Cheesecake Factory, and Chattanooga doesn’t, but Chattanooga has a J. Alexanders, my favorite southern chain restaurant, and Tulsa doesn’t. Chattanooga also has the shopping chops to boast two T.J. Maxx’s. Two! These are the things I ponder when I’m flying. I know, my intellect is astounding.

Tulsa is brown, Chattanooga is green. Both are hilly, Chattanooga a bit more as it borders the Appalachian mountain range. But when you compare our towns, the bottom line is, they both have good points and bad points . . . kind of like people. I’ve made a life in Tulsa, Christi has made one in Chattanooga. We both decided to grow where we were planted. Or maybe grow where we landed. Either way, we have a home, we have roots, we have friends, we have fun places we like to go. We both know how quickly we can scoot down to the mall, and where to park for easy access to the shoe department. Priorities, man!

I’m happy where I am, she’s happy where she is. We are using our skills and our gifts and we are doing our best to make a mark where we live. Are you making a mark where you live? Remember, you really matter. You matter to your family and your friends. Your circle of influence has eternal ramifications. I encourage you to check yourself. Stepping back for a few days helped me do this. I’m ready to start my week making a mark where I live. How about you?

Christine Michelle

I have to fly out tomorrow, or more accurately, I get to fly out tomorrow to the balmy climate of Tennessee, where the temperature is freezing, but 30 degrees warmer than here. I am so excited to go celebrate my sweet sissy’s birthday. And as I have mentioned, I am so glad she’s turning 40 before me. I can watch her go through it and I just know I will feel better about the whole thing.

I love my sister, I love all of my sisters. We all have very different but very special relationships. Christi is a treasure. She knows everything there is to know about me; the good, the bad, and the ugly. She’s been there through all my achievements, all my failures, all my hurts, and all my joys. And I have been there through hers. She is a gift from God and I’m grateful for her. Even though she had so much cuter hair than me when we were little.

See what I mean?

So all you Facebook friends of mine, please wish her a Happy Birthday on Saturday, February 5th. I will be with her, celebrating like crazy. I love you, Cwithy!

One cold Oklahoma puppy

I love living in Oklahoma; the weather here is never boring. And we have the uncanny ability to come up with witty weather words like gustnado and thundersnow, like somehow because we live here, we can invent words out of thin air.

I love how people get all twisted up about the weather. And I love how people get all twisted up about people getting all twisted up about the weather.

I love how the grocery stores run out of milk and hamburger meat and toilet paper. Like we are spending our snow days eating hamburgers, locked in the bathroom.

I love how the kids use the embankments beside the highways for sledding, and long lines of SUV’s line the shoulder with parents inside sipping Starbuck’s and talking on their iPhones.

I love watching dogs run through the snow like their tails are on fire.

I love how life just stops during a big snowstorm and we can just sit back and enjoy it. How boring would it be to live in a place where blizzards happen all winter long and they don’t get to skip work or skip school or make up words?

I love watching the local weather reporters bundle up and go outside and do a live feed. Don’t they know we really don’t need them to do that? We can see the snow right out of front doors.

I love having absolutely nowhere to go so I don’t feel any guilt about staying in my PJ’s all day.

So, for many of you, it’s just a regular Tuesday. But for Oklahoman’s, it’s Snowmageddon!

Stay warm today, my friends!