Monk, aka Kentucky Hunter Isaiah 40:31

I was trying to clean out the in-box of my email, and came across this video a friend sent a while back. His wife trains dogs who do quite well at shows, and she declares "obedience is a beautiful thing..."

Well, Monk, the dog in this video has sure figured out how to be beautiful.

And while he's at it, he helps his master pass on lessons of faith. I think maybe this fits in the "God moves in mysterious ways" category.

We Three In Tennessee

I guess it's been a little while since I've done an update on the crew here on the farm, so here goes...

Jess has been super busy at work lately. He worked Saturday, for instance, and he's in there working on the desktop computer right now and it's almost 10:30pm. This is okay every once in a while, but if it continues, he may need to say NO to a few jobs!

He's got a special music conference he's attending at church Thursday morning, so that will give him a little bit of a break anyway.

He's also got a ticket to fly out of Chattanooga in May so he can go see some of Ryan's graduation festivities. (We often split up our flying places so one or the other of us is staying in touch with family more often.)

This will be the first time he's flown since getting his bionic knees, and lots of people with knee replacements have been telling him horror stories about going through security at the airports. So what, do they really think these older folks have planted bombs in their knees or something?

We're also planning on a trip to West Virginia to visit my dad. We're going to take a little side trip with him, which is always a lot of fun. After going to Alaska with Dad a couple years ago, now it just wouldn't seem right to let a year pass without out some kind of little vacation.

AND I think this year we'll make a trip to Canada to visit. There are some tickets floating around that need redeemed with an airline that goes that direction. . .

As usual, our summer is shaping up to have a LOT of travel, what with visiting Dad and the kids.

As for Jonathan, he's doing fine with his pizza delivery job, and thrilled to be putting money in the bank and helping out here again. Who knows what the future holds, but for now he's got a job, and these days, that's more than a lot of people can say.

For my part, I'm trying to get back into taking the supplements for fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue and thinking about a trip to the Fibro Clinic near Atlanta again. (Why is it all our travel seems to involve family or doctors?) I want to be sure I can stay on the supplements before bothering to spend money on another visit though. AND I'm trying to get back one of the special diets, which is pretty restrictive. Oh boy. . .

Besides all that, I've got farm work and housework and I'm still plugging away with work on the computer. I've got two sites revamped and going, plus putting regular posts on a third, and no need to get into the technical stuff, just suffice it to say I'm staying busy!

And that pretty much sums it up - everybody's busy!

Have A Dream

It seems the older we get, the less we dare to dream. Many people hit 40 and have a "mid-life" crisis because they feel like life has passed them by, and they're never going to do the things they dreamed about.

But you just never know.

I saw the link to this video on a friend's blog. A lot of people have probably already watched the video or heard about it. If you haven't, it's worth the 7 minutes or so of your time to see 47-year old Susan Boyle sing "I Dream The Dream" on "Britian's Got Talent." (They're not allowing embeds, so you'll have to go to YouTube to see it.)

This totally ordinary looking woman comes out on stage and it's obvious no one thinks she's going to be worth a flip.

But then she starts singing and jaws drop. Incredible.

So there she is, past that 40ish mid-life crisis time, and she's on stage living her dream. Just goes to show... never give up on your dreams. They may change, as Chrystie notes with her blog "Revising The Dream", but you should NEVER give up dreaming.

I'm not going to. How about you?

Things That Make Me Smile

It’s been fairly quiet around here lately, and there’s a lot to be said for that. And even though it’s Monday, it’s a good one because the rain is over and the rain-pain is gone. It’s back to normal levels of pain, hooray!

So to celebrate, and because I can’t think of anything else earth-shattering to write about (not that this is all so particularly earth shattering), here’s a list of "10 Things That Make Me Smile" -- the first ten things that pop in my head.

1) Getting a good picture. I love to catch a nice, sharp picture of something interesting.

2) The crazy things my parrot says or does, like whistling to try to get me to come where she is.

3) The offbeat things Jess does because I think it’d be neat, like anchoring a log in the pond for our resident turtle to sun on. Good for the turtle, good for me to take pictures.

4) MANfood nights, when Jonathan does the cooking.

5) Looking at pictures of the grandkids. They all make my heart smile.

6) Taking pictures of Ellie because we get to play dress-up and she’s just so darn cute.

7) Getting letters, cards or emails from friends.

8) Thinking wishful thoughts of a camera with 20X optical zoom and image stabilizers, or a laptop that works faster than molasses flowing down a iceberg.

9) Our wacky dog trying to jump after a stream of water with a huge stick still in his mouth.

10) Books and movies with happy endings.

And there you have it, the first 10 things I could think of that make me smile.

More Monday Madness

Monday will soon be over, and it seems I've been on the move, physically or mentally, all day. Let me see if I can remember most of what I've done today:

  • The usual morning chores of feeding and letting critters out, plus emptying and refilling all the water buckets.
  • Got Monday's humor mailing out, plus set up the framework for the rest of the week's mailings.
  • Got a new post up on the farm blog.
  • Did some research trying to see if I could find any information to shed some light on why Dad's Printer Mailbox isn't working.
  • FINALLY finished revamping all the posts and pages on the health food blog and ready to move forward with NEW stuff now.
  • Spent some time in the basement AGAIN because Jonathan called from work to tell me there was a tornado spotted in our immediate area.
  • Did evening chores by myself in-between rain storms.
  • Talked to the Canadian Crew via Skype. Ellie still isn't quite sure what to make of a talking picture of Southern Mama on her dad's computer. :-)
  • Got supper fixed.
  • Watched "Dancing With The Stars"!
  • Had a training session/teleseminar - not our usual day, but making up for last week's. It was canceled because our Thursday night was noonish on their Good Friday. Also not as long, being only about 90 minutes instead of the usual 2 - 2 1/2 hours.
  • Cleaned the kitchen.
  • Plus all kinds of other piddling stuff that needs done every day!

And now here I am, and I'm sure I missed some stuff, and that's just bare bones of what I did anyway. Briefly stated, long in doing!

For instance, take the humor mailings. That means I did one totally from scratch this morning, and got 4 more set up, which takes looking at about 3 different sites and doing Google searches to check the daily holidays, checking wikipedia and a couple other sites for history and birthdays, checking The Farmer's Almanac and the Naval Observatory site for sunrises, sunsets, and day lengths -- and that's just the top part.

Jokes and trivia come from several different sources - you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find any NEW jokes! Then choosing a picture and whatever the source, it almost always needs a size adjustment for emailing. It all takes time.

Then there's revamping the health food blog that has taken me 3 weeks. Yes, THREE WEEKS! I went back through all the posts and, well, never mind. If you're not "into" this stuff, you wouldn't understand what I was talking about with SEO optimization, affiliate marketing, keywords, and on and on. Suffice it to say it was labor intensive, gave my brain a work-out, and obviously took a lot of time. But the site already had decent traffic, and I haven't even started working on that yet, so I have high hopes for this particular site!

Oh, and I also totally upgraded the "guts" of the site - all the background stuff a person doesn't see but makes the site work well. Like upgrading my version of Wordpress, and installing a professional theme that works more like software with all the options and stuff you can do with it. Add a new header, new theme colors, new widgets.... you get the idea. LOTS of stuff and LOTS of time. Which is why it took 3 weeks!

Anyway, like I said, I've been on the move, physically or mentally, all day. And now I've finished yet another blog post, and after I check some stats, I may even get to bed before midnight.

A woman's work is never done.

Let Me Off This Roller Coaster!

It's been a roller coaster of a week.

Last Saturday I went to a party. Then came the pain payback.

Wednesday I went to a funeral home to stand in line for two hours for visitation. Then came the pain payback.

Yesterday was crazy with thunderstorms, hail, and wind - never mind the tornadoes dancing around us. (At one point they said the sheriff spotted a tornado on Lincoln Road - which isn't very far from us, like about 2 miles at the closest point.)

Today's the payback. But it may not be all the activity and stress from yesterday causing the pain. It could be a coming weather change. It could be a combination of things.

To complicate matters even more, different things affect the different causes of pain. Physical activity, especially when doing a lot of back and forth motion like sweeping, really aggravates the nerve pain. Weather changes affect the fibromyalgia. Some things affect both.

There are just so many different things that can cause pain - the weather changing, stress, not enough sleep, not eating well, doing too much physical activity - that sometimes it's difficult to tell what's caused the pain problem.

I'm ready for some nice quiet time, a nothing-much-happening kind of week. And while I'm at it, I'll wish for fewer pain payback days!

Do You Know Bailey's Jesus?

I recently read this and thought it would be a good story for Good Friday...

Having the advantage of knowing how the story ends, we can easily forget the cost of our redemption and the love of our Savior, but God recently allowed me to see Jesus through the eyes of someone seeing Him for the first time.

Every year we attend a local church pageant at Christmas time, which tells the story of Jesus from His birth through His resurrection. It is a spectacular event, with live animals and hundreds of cast members in realistic costumes. The magi enter the huge auditorium on llamas from the rear, descending the steps in pomp and majesty. Roman soldiers look huge and menacing in their costumes and makeup.

Of all the years we have attended, one stands out indelibly in my heart. It was the year we took our then three-year-old granddaughter, Bailey, who loves Jesus. She was mesmerized throughout the entire play, not just watching, but involved as if she were a player. She watches as Joseph and Mary travel to the Inn and is thrilled when she sees the baby Jesus in His mother's arms.

When Jesus, on a young donkey, descends the steps from the back of the auditorium, depicting His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Bailey was ecstatic. As he neared our aisle, Bailey began jumping up and down, screaming, "Jesus, Jesus! There's Jesus!" Not just saying the words but exclaiming them with every fiber of her being.

She alternated between screaming his name and hugging us. "It's Jesus. Look!" I thought she might actually pass out. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at Jesus through the eyes of a child in love with Him, seeing Him for the first time. How like the blind beggar screaming out in reckless abandon, "Jesus, Jesus!", afraid he might miss Him, not caring what others thought. (Mark 10:46-52) This was so much fun.

Then came the arrest scene. On stage, the soldiers shoved and slapped Jesus as they moved Him from the Garden of Gethsemane to Pilate. Bailey responded as if she were in the crowd of women, with terror and anger. "Stop it!" she screamed. "Bad soldiers, stop it!" As I watched her reaction, I wished we had talked to her before the play.

"Bailey, it's ok. They are just pretending."

"They are hurting Jesus! Stop it!" She stood in her seat reacting to each and every move. People around us at first smiled at her reaction, thinking "How cute!". Then they quit smiling and began watching her watch Him.

In a most powerful scene, the soldiers lead Jesus carrying the cross down the steps of the auditorium from the back. They were yelling, whipping, and cursing at Jesus, who was bloodied and beaten. Bailey was now hysterical. "Stop it! Soldiers! Stop it," she screamed. She must have been wondering why all these people did nothing. She then began to cry instead of scream. "Jesus, Oh, Jesus!"

People all around us began to weep as we all watch this devoted little disciple see her Jesus beaten and killed as those first century disciples had. Going back and forth between her mother's lap and mine for comfort, she was distraught. I kept saying, "Bailey, it's ok. Jesus is going to be ok. These are just people pretending to be soldiers. She looked at me like I was crazy. In my lap, we talked through the cross and burial. "Watch, Bailey, watch for Jesus!"

The tomb began to tremble and lightening flashed as the stone rolled away. A superbowl touchdown cheer couldn't come close to matching this little one's reaction to the resurrection. "Jesus! He's ok. Mommy, it's Jesus!"

I prayed that she wasn't going to be traumatized by this event, but that she would remember it. I shall never forget it. I shall never forget seeing Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection through the eyes of an innocent child.

Following the pageant the actors all assembled in the foyer to be greeted by the audience. As we passed by some of the soldiers Bailey screamed out, "Bad soldier, don't you hurt Jesus."

The actor who portrayed Jesus was some distance away surrounded by well-wishers and friends. Bailey broke away from us and ran toward him, wrapping herself around his legs, holding on for dear life. He hugged her and said, "Jesus loves you." He patted her to go away. She wouldn't let go. She kept clinging to Him, laughing and calling His name. She wasn't about to let go of her Jesus.

I think God in heaven stopped whatever was going on that day and made all the angels watch Bailey. "Now, look there! You see what I meant when I said, 'Of such is the kingdom of heaven?'" Bailey's reaction should be our reaction every day. When we think of Him, who He is, what He did for us, and what He offers us, we have to say how can we do anything less than worship Him?
~author unknown~

Stand By Me

I'm feeling rather sad today. Someone who was once a good friend passed away yesterday, at far too young an age. A link this video happened to land in my email box. I'm not sure if it made me feel better or worse, but it's good music.

It's from the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music," and comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently.

I'll confess, I'd never heard about this and have never seen the documentary, so I have no idea how good it is. But at The Playing For Change website, they say, "Playing for change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect and bring peace."

They intend to:
  • Build and connect music schools around the world,
  • Empower students to create/share their music (student performances will be recorded, filmed and shared with members), and
  • Enable collaboration between students of our new schools and students from established schools in the U.S. and abroad.

Lofty goals! I wish them well. Everyone needs some music in their life.

Monday Madness

Fortunately, I felt better today. The weather was nasty, often spitting rain. I suspect I got a double whammy yesterday with nerve pain from partying Saturday, and fibromyalgia pain from the coming rain.

Today I tried to make up for lost time. Besides the usual chores, I had some little trees to plant. Dad likes to donate to the Arbor Day Foundation, but doesn't need the trees, so he has them sent them to me. I'd put them in water to soak the roots, and needed to get them in pots today.

In the midst of working with that, Jonathan was trying to get ready for work. There was no hot water. Cold showers in cold weather aren't the best.

Fortunately, it was a quick to fix, and he had breakfast while waiting for the water to heat up. I correctly surmised that one of the breakers didn't get flipped back after our mad flipping of switches Saturday, trying to figure out what was wrong with the washing machine.

Oh yes, the washing machine. It's broke. I discovered this Saturday, after sorting out two weeks worth of laundry and ready to "get 'er done!" Wouldn't you know it!?!

At first I thought it wasn't working at all, and that's when we went crazy flipping the breakers trying to find the one for the washing machine. Then I figured out it wasn't the lack of electricity, that the washing machine just wouldn't spin out. It would come back on if I moved the dial to a part of the cycle it "agitated" then go off again when it got to the spin cycle.

Mr. Fix-It can fix a lot of things, but washing machines aren't on his list, so I had to wait until today to call the repair man. Of course, he was busy and said he probably wouldn't make it until tomorrow. As it turns out, he got done on one job a little sooner than he expected, and about noon he stopped by here.

He fixed the no spin-out problem. There was a switch that went bad. Unfortunately, he found there were a couple of other major things that went bad. Like the pump had a leak. And the agitator wasn't really agitating. It was moving back and forth, but not really moving the clothes around in the tub properly ("not ratcheting" was his term). sigh....

I said, "Are you trying to tell me I have a dead washing machine?"
"Noooooooo... fix this stuff and it'll be good to go."
"How much?"

Well, never mind how much. Let's just say enough to make me seriously consider getting a new washing machine, but not quite enough to tip the scales and actually do it. The next washing machine I get I'm holding out for one of the nicer kinds that are sort of up on a pedestal, and you don't have to bend over so much and drag stuff up and out of the washing machine. That would be sooooo much easier on my nerve pain!

Anyway, the repair guy left with the pump to do some work in his shop and is supposed to come back tomorrow morning and hopefully get the washing machine in working order.

While he had it apart, I cleaned the mess under the rim and the sides.

I also needed to cook some ground beef. I buy big packages of it, cook it and freeze it to use it as needed. I used part of it first to make a salsa meat loaf for supper tonight.

Then of course, the kitchen needed cleaned, and... well, as I told Jess, if I don't hurt tomorrow after shoveling dirt, bailing water, scrubbing washing machine parts and so on... it won't be because I didn't exert myself!

Parties Are A Pain

I'm really not much of a party animal these days. but one of the older guys in Jess's Sunday School class just turned 90, and the family had a big birthday party for him yesterday. Now, this is a BIG family and well known in these parts. Also long time friends, so this was pretty much a command performance. Several family members asked if I was going to be there, so there I went.

I knew I'd pay for it before I went. That kind of activity always aggravates my pain levels. But other people don't understand this, so have hurt feelings if you don't live up to their expectations.

We didn't spend more than an hour at the actual party, but it was long enough to see several people I know. Being friendly folk, I got a lot of hugs. Along with hugs there are generally several pats on the back.

And that's where the problem starts.

I knew before we got home I was in trouble. I didn't feel too great yesterday evening. Then I woke up at 4am this morning with tears and moaning, and looked for more pain pills and finally got back to sleep after an hour or so.

I'm used to pain. It has to be REALLY bad to make me cry. The "I feel like beating my head against the wall just so I'll feel something else" kind of pain.

So today I am forcibly reminded why I do NOT go to church or any other gatherings if I can avoid it. It hurts. I knew I'd pay for going, but this is a much worse payback than even I expected.

Parties are a pain.