Monday, March 30, 2009

Barbie is 50!

Could Barbie really be fifty years old? I keep seeing headlines & articles saying it is true but she certainly is holding up well! Maybe a bit of plastic surgery along the way, that's what I'm thinking. So I did some research & yes, she was invented in 1959 & changed the doll industry forever. Before her birth most dolls for little girls were baby dolls. She changed our way of playing & a few days ago I stepped back in time for a while in the privacy of my bedroom while my hubs watched men beating each other up on TV.

I'd like to introduce you to my Barbie, isn't she gorgeous? She was given to me in 1962 when I was 7 years old. I love her bubble hair cut & recently learned that it was designed to honor then presidential wife, Jackie Kennedy! Last week I retrieved her & her Barbie Case from the garage & sat down on the floor of my room & had her give me a little fashion show of the few pieces of clothing she still owns.

The wonderful memories of my afternoons with Barbie came flooding back as she patiently tried on her swimsuit & then her dressy coat for me. I remember riding my bike down to the opposite end of Arlington Drive to my friend, Ginger's house. I would carefully balance the black case & the handle bar in one hand & hanging onto her Dream House & handle bar in the other hand! OH, the dream house was amazing, I loved it so much! It was cardboard & folded out to a pretty good size house with separate rooms & little cardboard stand up furniture & stuff inside.

We would set up our houses so her Barbie & mine were best friends & neighbors, just like us! Of course we explained the absence of husbands by talking about how they were doing in Viet Nam. Wow, that tells you my era doesn't it?

Speaking of a husband for Barbie, I never wanted a Ken doll for her, he was not very good looking to me. Not much personality, at least not enough to be worthy of Barbie! She was, in my imagination anyway, a strong, sassy but gentle woman who was always laughing & humble about her beautiful looks. I mean just take a look here at Ken, he looks like he could be her little brother or a pesky neighbor or something. Compare him to G.I Joe who arrived on the scene in 1964. Which would you choose? Joe has some character & personality, where did that mysterious scar come from, for instance? And those heavy-lidded eyes!

Looking at these G.I Joe pictures reminds me of my own son's action figures of super heroes & Star Wars characters. They hated it when I called them "dolls" or compared them to my childhood Barbies. I was supposed to call them "action figures" or just "guys"! I never bought them the G.I Joe figures because I really hated the idea of giving my boys military stuff in those days (remember I grew up amidst the Vietnam controversy!).

Barbie created some controversy of her own in later years. People have blamed her for causing eating disorders by showing little girls such a beyond-perfect body shape that is not realistic or achievable. I don't recall feeling that way, but that would be pretty hard to detect in yourself wouldn't it? I was a late bloomer in getting any shape at all, so comparing myself to her could have been a problem I suppose. In fact, it may be what's bugging me now as I am trying so hard to get in shape. Her waistline is pretty amazing & I am still wearing the same size bra as a pre-teen so really the only thing Barbie & I have in common is our dark hair!

My fun afternoon of playing with Barbie came to an end as she let me know she'd had enough & waved me away, guess she was ready to be alone again in her shiny black case tucked away in the garage. Up there on the second shelf seems like a pretty dismal place for such a glamorous & important lady, but maybe she knows what an honor it is to be sharing the space with my husband's beautiful Shadow motorcycle!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Don't Like.....

I am working on a fabulous Barbie post to celebrate her 50th birthday but company is arriving any time now & I hate to get interrupted in the middle of something so important! In the meantime I want to say that I do not like the change that Blogger made to the "Followers" section. I used to be able to click on a followers face/icon to see what they are doing in their blog or whatever but now it does not go to their blog at all! Very frustrating! Why'd they change it?

I am doing the 30 x 5 Challenge & I'm doing ok so far. Today I worked out for 40 minutes! Tomorrow, Sunday will be tricky for me cause I love to just veg after getting home from church & lunch about 3 or 4pm. Yah, our lunches are long due to all the talking, laughing & what-not that our friends do together on Sundays. Besides that is probably when I will be in the mood to give you my Barbie post!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do You Validate?

I had an interesting “aha!” moment last week that I want to tell you about because it kind of woke me up a bit. And that’s always a good thing! It changed something inside of me & so far I really like the change.

The background is that I have had a few tough weeks at my job, which is weird to call a “job” because I love it so much that I would do it for free (and have). My hubs & I, along with a team of others are overseers of a ministry school that is really more about getting your inner life transformed than becoming a preacher. In fact we kind of shudder at the thought of creating more preachers & pastors in a world that really needs more passionately caring surgeons, bankers, teachers, carpenters etc.

I love what I get to do every day but……..there are always a few students who complain & criticize the school, even though they chose to come & are paying to be there…….& those negative words about what we do were kinda getting to me. It happens every year & I have been learning not to take it personally but it’s amazing how 2 negative words can so outweigh 10 positive words! Why is that?

So my “aha!” moment was last week as I listened to some of our former students come back & talk to the current students about their lives & how impacting their school time was for them & how thankful they are for our school. Two of our students from Denmark graduated last June & are now married & leading a church there using the things they learned in our school. Two others talked about their recent move to the Philippines to start a school like ours. They described the practical ways they are changing the lives of the people who live in the slum areas & providing college scholarships to the children there. Another young lady is working as a mentor to at-risk teen-agers in her town; they are referred to her by the local Juvenal hall. Another student described praying for a guy in a motorcycle accident on the freeway even though the EMT had given him up for dead, no pulse. The student said his mind was blank & he tried to recall all he had learned about praying for the sick & remembered that the words & formulas are not important. So he just found a clean spot to touch the guy & said ‘God, don’t let this guy die.” The guy coughed sat up & said, “Hey I think I was in an accident!” Ha!

As I sat there listening to this stuff my eyes filled & I felt overwhelmed to be a part of their lives. I also thought, “I wish the rest of the church staff could hear this.” (The school is connected to our church.)

A few days later other former students shared similar stories at the church staff meeting & again my thought was, “Wow, I sure wish the current class could hear these stories.” Immediately I “heard” God ask me a one word question…."Why?” Oh man, He is good at those tiny little one word questions that carry some huge meaning!

Now I could easily have said that my reason for wanting others to hear the stories was because I wanted to uplift them & encourage them….but nope that was not my motivation at all. So, my honest answer (what other kind of answer can you give Him? Ha!) was, “Umm validation?” I wanted others to see what we have done in the school & that it was a worthy & valid thing we were giving our lives to. I want some credit, some kudos. God then said one more thing to me, “The only ones who need to know the true value of what you do, are you & your husband.”

And those last words I heard made a huge difference inside me. That difference has also affected the outside of me now as I am walking straighter, looking my co-workers & students in the eye with a new authority & confidence. I know where my validation comes from & that assurance has given me a new strength & joy in what I do & in who I am. Last night as I changed the status on my Face Book page I hesitated before pushing the button to post it. Can I really say this about myself? Yep! My new status line says, “Brenda is changing the world one handful of students at a time!” Woo-hoo!
(Here are a few of our gang telling a special couple on our staff who were moving away, what God had to say about them. They wrote, drew & sang His words to them! )

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Last Makeover

I subscribe to a great women's magazine for women over 40 called MORE. It is one of the few women's mags that is not full of recipes & decorating tips, been there, done that. I don't cook & don't really need to see tons of ideas that I don't have time to do, what with all the blogging that must be done around here. Anyway, in said magazine I came across this shocking news blurb. If you are unable to read it I will quote it for you:

TREND ALERT: Boomers pre-planning their funerals have begun asking morticians
to smooth lines, plump lips & even perk up
their breasts before laying
them out in the box.

I am a boomer & my only request is to keep the casket tightly closed at all times. I have also thought about cremation, then no one will have to worry about my make up or perk-less breasts!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Week to Live

This morning I did something I knew I should do. No, I did not compromise on my earlier post called "Don't Should On Me". But I made a difficult phone call that I knew needed to be made. I know myself well enough after 54 years, that I would regret it later if I did not make the call. Last Friday in the middle of moving the reception I had planned for 40 people to a different venue due to an unexpected sign-up of 72 people (!!), I received a call telling me that my aunt was going home from the hospital to die at home within the next week.
Believe it or not I hung up the phone after that message & got right back into my table & chair & food moving without much more thought about my 80 year old aunt. The last time I saw her was more than 15 years ago. We really have no relationship other than the reports my mom (her sister) gives me over the years. What could I say to her? The typical "Hi, how are you?" certainly would not be appropriate. What in the world do you say to someone who has just days to live? What is she thinking, what would she want to hear from me?
But I woke up this morning knowing that I needed to make the call. Maybe it would make a difference to her. Can't imagine why or how, but still I knew it had to be done even if it was terribly uncomfortable for me. It's not about me, it's about her. But it IS actually a bit about me, because I know I would be disappointed in myself if I did not do it. Sometimes the hard, awkward or difficult thing needs to be done & cannot be put on someone else.
So I gathered myself up & punched the numbers into my phone. Her daughter, my cousin, answered & told me that she was still alert & handed the phone to my aunt. Her words were weak & slurred but she was pleased to hear from me. She told me that all her kids were with her & she was ready to go. I asked if there was any certain thing that I could pray for her about & she said that her skin itched terribly. That surprised me! She has days to live & her only prayer request is about itchy skin. I prayed for her to feel comfortable, peaceful & itch free with moisture coming back to her skin so she could rest better. I also told her some things that I felt God wanted her to know about His love for her & His pleasure in the life she has led.
My aunt has lived a life of hardship in many ways. Years of sickness, trials in relationships & never enough money. But she also is surrounded by her very closeknit children & grandkids. None of them have moved far from her & they are the joy of her life. The end of a life is an awesome thing to ponder. I'm sure everyone has things they may regret as they come near the end of their life, but I am convinced that God is not as hard on us as we are. My aunt is nearing the end of her pain. She knows that the best is yet to come & even though she may be a bit fearful about it, the peace that I heard in her voice was a beautiful thing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The People In My Life!

Here are a few of the beautiful people in my life.
Our students helped the church get ready for a conference that
hosted 800 people.
Our students sold some of their art to help
fund their mission trips to the Philippines.
I'm really too exhausted after 3 days of this conference to say much more at this point,
but I love my life & the wonderful people I get to spend it with!
More about them in future blogs!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rachel's Tears

Book Review for RACHEL'S TEARS
Rachel Scott was one of the victims that died in the horrendous school shooting 10 years ago at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. The small book is largely made up of this young girls' personal journals, doodles & letters to friends & family. It is a hard read for parents with kids in school but it does not leave the reader without hope. The authors are Rachel's parents & they share the writings of their daughter to show the world that she was a person of great faith & convictions.
There are a few hints that she may have been one of the targeted students due to her clear professions of faith.
"I am not going to apologize for speaking
name of Jesus, I am not going to justify my
to them, and I am not going to hide the
light that
God has put in me. If I have to sacrifice
I will."
It was, and is, not easy to be a Christian in a public High School. Columbine had the normal groups that students fall into but she managed to not get stuck in the"good kids" group & defiantly tried to be friends with all the groups in the school, including the goths & the loners. Friends told of her earlier attempts even to befriend Harris & Klebold the two shooters.

Her love for people & for God gave her great strength & confidence. She was very involved in many areas of school life, including the drama club. She loved the ethnic variety of her school & once wrote about how she suddenly looked around her one day at the lunch table & realized that she was the only white person in her group of laughing friends.

My only disagreement with this beautiful little book is the idea that one parent gives that this may have happened to Rachel so that God would get the glory as her story was told all over the world. I believe that God does turn things that were meant for evil around & make good out of them, but He had nothing to do with causing this tragedy to occur. But this book is not meant to be a document of theology & it is still an uplifting read as a memoir of a short but beautiful life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Unfair To The Lady!

I love the old musicals! Easter Parade, White Christmas, so many are fun & entertaining to me. I enjoy the clothes & the old manners & the beautiful way of speaking so many of the older films show us. Last night I brought a video of My Fair Lady (1964 adaptation of a play written in 1913) home from the library remembering that I used to sort of like but could not recall what it was that bothered me about it. Rex Harrison plays a language professor (Henry Higgins) who comes across a crass & dirty flower-selling girl (Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle) & boasts that he could teach her how to speak properly & pass her off as a wealthy high-born lady of society.

Loved Audrey Hepburn as the cockney accented waif of a girl with spirit & aggressive personality. I totally enjoyed the whole movie, laughing & singing along with them as she morphs into this gorgeous & gracious creature right before my eyes. Hilarious & sweet, it held me to the very end.

AH HA! Suddenly I saw what bugged me about this story! Awful, horrible, anger-inducing conclusion to a fun adventure with Audrey & Rex! Argh! She chooses to stay with Henry Higgins the bully instead of sweet Freddy who loved her like she was! And the final scene.....he realizes that she has come back to him & instead of embracing her, he leans back in his chair, puts his hat over his eyes & asks for his slippers! Sure the movie showed a scene of him alone actually admitting that he needed her, singing that he'd grown accustomed to her face! But that song convinced me not. It was probably meant to be ironic but still......come on away, run away now!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Between The Sun & The Moon

I have a bit of a headache tonight

so will not be posting anything that requires
much thinking.
I took these two pictures
on the way to work this week.
They were both taken at the same minute
on either side of my car!
One is out the passenger window
& one out the driver window.
I loved the idea of catching the
sun & the moon
during a shift change!
Blessings to you & pray for
our friend Braja, who was in a serious car accident
this last week in India. More info here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


It is 5:45pm & I just got home from work & woo-hoo, the new charger cord I have been waiting for has finally arrived & I am back on MY laptop!! I came in & immediately checked the mail & then literally did a little joy jig right there in the living room. Good thing no one else was around cause this is the girl that only danced the hokey-pokey before turning 30ish!! And as you can see I still do not know where to get some good FREE graphics! It took me about 20 minutes to find that gem up there.........and this one which also describes my dance pretty well!.....................

Sunday, March 8, 2009


The other night I was watching the Nightly News with Brian Williams & he announced that immediately after the commercial break they would reveal a new study that has found Facebook to be dangerous to your health.

Guess what the "study" found........"8 to 10 hours a day of Facebook useage could be harmful to your health." Umm......8 to 10 hours a day of eating vegetables & fruit could ALSO be dangerous to your health!! Doing ANYTHING besides breathing for 8 to 10 hours a day would be harmful, right??

Don't you get tired of these so-called studies that give awful consequences of everything from chocolate to eggs to aspirin? I don't believe any of them anymore because it feels like they are just trying to get a headline. That one about facebook cracked me up. While I can certainly see how a person COULD possibly spend that many hours on the computer, hehem, no no not me!! ha! I doubt that it is a rampant epidemic that warrents such a sensational announcement.
On another note: I'm still on hubby's computer so I'm not blabbering as much as usual. "Come on mailman, hurry up with my new cord ok? "
I have a blogging question for you. Where do you all get the pictures of celebrities or tv shows for free? I always see the copywrite warning when I google someone & don't want to get in trouble. How are you guys doing it?
I have another book review to do, so that will be coming up in a few days.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Hi Gang,

I'm on my hubby's computer & don't like to post without a this is what is on his computer. Files & files of motorcycle pics! Smile!

Well, umm......after my last post..............the silence out there is kinda deafening. Thank you Lisa & Grey Like Snuffie for your comments, I appreciate them.

So I am wondering what has caused the silence. It could be so many things:

  • The post was too long & you didn't want to read the whole thing. I sometimes skip the long ones too.

  • I got too bizarre by saying that God talks to me. Also very understandable. :0

  • It may have sounded a bit sacrilegious. God doing impressions?

  • You hate The Flintstones.

  • It was too heavy. I would rather read light stuff most days too.

  • It's hard to imagine Christianity without guilt.

  • You all have real lives that limited your commenting time. How dare you feed your kids instead of making me feel good about myself!

  • Nothing I said was news to you, been there, done that, whatever.

  • You hate Val Kilmer.

  • I need to tone down the churchy stuff.

I expected a bit of controversy, agreement , disagreement, curiosity, but did not expect silence. Not really sure how to proceed from here. I guess my outlook could very well make me appear a bit crazy,but well, I'm happy this way & I was not happy the other I choose the weird lady who hears voices & jokes in her head. Ha! I like you guys & believe that you like me too, so I will continue on my merry way, thinking up fun stuff to write about & reading all your interesting & humorous stories about your lives out there in this huge world of ours that actually feels kinds small in blogworld!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Don't Should On Me!

I was raised in the church, my family attended services twice on Sundays, every Wednesday night & any other time that stuff was happening. Our church was like a wonderful extended family & I loved the way it became a warm & comfortable social circle for me.

The center of that circle was the shared desire to serve God in all areas of our lives. We were taught to read our Bibles everyday, attend church as much as possible & pray everyday. As a teen I can remember starting one Bible-reading system after another, marking my calendar with my self-assigned Bible passage to read that day. I would open my high-lighted pink Bible & some days it seemed alive as the words on the page fit exactly what I needed that day. But I also had many days when the words meant nothing to me & made no sense or were just so boring I had to literally force myself to finish so I could mark the section off on my calendar. This manner of “serving God” came with me into my adult life.

Though this training was well-intentioned, it planted the idea that I needed to earn my way into God’s heart. If I missed a day of reading or praying I felt guilty & was constantly feeling that I did not, could not measure up as a real Christian. An illustration often used, compared our relationship with God to a lover’s relationship & asked us why we can’t wait to spend time with or read letters from our lover yet we put off spending time with God. The inference was that if we really, truly loved God it would be easy & natural to read our Bibles & pray everyday. That thought brings heavy-ness to me even now as I write this.

Haven’t we all heard Christians around us talking about how they don’t read the Bible enough & they know they really should be spending more time in prayer?
But what would we call a lovers relationship if the partner kept track of all your days of not spending time with him & held it against you? If you walked around with guilt & fear due to your lack of reading his letters or calling him on the phone often enough? Wouldn’t we call that an abusive relationship?

Playing golf on Sunday, going fishing or staying home to watch the game on TV were all evidence of falling away from God or “backsliding”. Can’t you just picture God up there checking the Sunday morning roll sheet? I am intentionally not mentioning the specific denomination because I believe this mindset of earning God’s love is seen in a general way in almost all types of organized religion.

For the last few years God has been showing me a brand new way of looking at him & the relationship between the two of us. For me the “Good News” is not just about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. The Good News is that when He said “It is finished” it was FINISHED! Any kind of striving or working to dutifully “serve” Him because I owe it to Him is not a love relationship. Striving & working fall under the “should” category & God does not “should” on me.

To make myself read the Bible everyday to gain points with Him is silly because He has already awarded me all the points available. It is finished! I don’t need to grovel or do penance for my mess-ups, I am forgiven. All I do is get up, brush myself off & bask in how much He already loves me. This new picture of God is more fun & freeing in everything I do. He loves creativity & adventure & exploration & variety. Can you imagine how a God like that must get pretty bored in some of our church services? Do you ever get bored there? Be honest now. The God-relationship I have now includes us doing chores together, driving together & watching movies in one another’s company. He even did a Val Kilmer impression for me once! Really! We had a guest teacher in our Ministry School who told everyone to close their eyes & ask God for a picture of who he is for them in that moment. I immediately worried that I wouldn’t “see” anything & dreaded the time when all would talk about what they saw. From past experience I knew it would be pictures of beautiful fields & bowing at His throne & other scenes like that.

I closed my eyes & did not see anything, but I did very distinctly & clearly hear Him say, “You’re my chuckleberry.” Exactly how Val Kilmer in Tombstone as Doc Holiday always says, “I’m your huckleberry.” My goal in this blog is to be as honest as I know how to be & I am not making this up. What would you do if you heard that & you knew it was God? Yah, I laughed out loud & couldn’t wait to tell the others what I had heard!

There are many stories like this but the first one that comes to mind right now happened to someone I know who was enjoying a peanut butter & jelly sandwich while watching the Flintstones on TV. He suddenly felt the presence of God in the living room with Him so he leaned forward to turn off the show so he could give God his full attention. But before he touched the off button he heard God say to him, “Don’t turn it off, I like peanut butter & jelly & the Flintstones too.”

This is not the same god who “shoulds” on people! Whenever I hear myself saying the “should” word to myself or others it becomes high-lighted like the spell-check on my laptop. I stop & re-examine what I am saying or thinking. Am I agreeing to be on that committee because I want to or because I should? God may not be impressed with or even affected by my service to Him that is done dutifully because “someone” had to do it. I have been surprised at how the world did not come to a sudden halt when I “failed” to do what I “should”. What freedom that brings!

I believe the church leaders of the past had good intentions. They insisted we do our Christian disciplines because that’s how they were trained & how they lived. But that is also why so many Christians in the past looked & sounded burnt out & angry when they preached. That is not the life I live. Mine is joyful, surprised & full of pleasure & delight most of the time. This blog post has become much longer than I expected & I could tell many more stories about the goodness & kindness of God. I can also tell tons of stories about both giving & receiving “shoulds” after being in vocational ministry for over 20 years! But I will end with this: Should happens, but not to me if I can help it!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Never Thought it Could happen to Me!

I'm sure everyone thinks it can never happen to them.
We hear the awfulness is possible but
cannot fathom it hitting home.
I am borrowing my hubs computer as I write this because
I am laptopless!
Hubs gave me a lecherous grin when I
said that to him.
I do not like being on someone else's computer,
it kinda feels like driving a strangers car or
A new part for my laptop is due to arrive by mail in 7 to 10 days.
You may not hear from me as often as usual
& I have a long & thoughtful blog post all ready to go!
But don't forget me & thanks for the new comments I got yesterday even though
I did not post anything new!
Pretty good timing actually because my parents
are staying with us for the next 5 days
& that just changes the rhythm of things anyway.
I can still read you on my sweet Blackberry though!!