Don't set foot on the path of the wicked; don't proceed in the way of evil ones. -- Proverbs 4:14

It is no secret that I dislike cockroaches. (biggest. understatement. ever.)

Actually, it's more like a big ugly phobia. When I am confronted with a-- Okay, first of all, I refer to them as Evil Hell Beasts, or EHBs for short. Just saying (or thinking) the 'c' word is enough to make me shudder and squirm.

Anyway, when I am confronted with an EHB, there is usually a lot of jumping and screaming... and today was no exception. I don't know what has gotten into the little bastards, but they keep finding their way into our house and that is not okay.

This evening, just before I started cooking dinner, I looked up and saw one in the living room. Cue the jumping and screaming. My daughter, 8 years old and maddeningly level-headed (AT TIMES), calmly took my arm and ushered me out of the room, saying, "Don't look at it. Just go cook dinner."

I took this to mean that she was going to deal with The Issue, but she just sat down and started playing her video game again. With a definite note of panic in my voice, I told her to "Kill it!" I have no shame, folks.

She said, "I will not kill it! I'll catch it and let it go in the grass."

This sounded like the stupidest thing I'd ever heard, but I couldn't argue with her. It's not like I was going to kill the thing myself and I couldn't have it running around the house. She grabbed a tissue and tried to catch it, but she only succeeded in chasing it under a living room speaker. So, she went back to her video game. Come on!

I thought I'd be safe in the kitchen, but the next thing I know, the EHB is cruising around the bar and into the kitchen WITH me! Again, there was jumping and screaming. We're not talking about little fake screams here. Before this was over, my throat hurt from the screaming.

Then began this awful dance of Lila trying to catch the EHB. The EHB hiding until she gave up. And then the EHB chasing me around the kitchen so that I jumped and screamed. A lot.

I think the worst part was when Lila tried to catch the thing and it accelerated and she giggled and said, as though this were somehow endearing, "They are fast little suckers!" I almost vomited.

I finally declared to anyone who would listen that I was not going back into the kitchen until it was gone. I even texted Doug and told him that I hoped he wasn't very hungry because I couldn't cook dinner while that thing was trying to kill me-- er, I mean 'touch' me. I even thought about going to a neighbor's house and asking him to come and rescue me (they weren't home).

At one point, Lila said to me, with a great deal of exasperation, "You're afraid of a little bug! . . . Well, it's medium, but it's NOT going to hurt you!"

Clearly, she doesn't understand the irrational aspect of phobias. By the time Doug got home from work, I was standing in the front yard (increased heart rate and sweating - no joke). The first words I said to him were, "I'm not going back into the house until it's dead."

Praise God, Doug finds this little "quirk" of mine endearing. He dealt with The Issue and I was able to come back inside and cook dinner. It took about half an hour before I stopped periodically whimpering and shuddering.



Not a bad boy. (Yet.)
A bad boy has woe. -- McGuffey Primer

Doug and I like to use real stories from our lives as examples when explaining things to the kids. The other night, we were totally selling our brothers out by telling stories of the stupid things they did when they were young. It started off as a discussion of peer pressure (don't remember how we got to that topic in the first place).

And then it devolved into a sort of Oh-yeah-well-listen-to-what-my-brother-did!-fest. I'm not sure we conveyed quite the message we were going for, however. I think that all the giggling we did probably diluted the impact of the stories.


After band practice one night, Unnamed Brother #1 went joy-riding with some of his band mates. They were feeling feisty and decided to run over a trash-can with their car. (only a teenage boy would think THAT sounds like fun.) They were spotted by a person who got their license plate number and called the police. This resulted in arrested teenagers, a shocked and awed sibling, a very angry father, and a frighteningly silent ride home from the police station.

Unnamed Sibling #2 decided to sneak out of the house one night and steal his sibling's car to drive around town. (again with the joy-riding!) Unfortunately, this brother was not old enough to drive and he got pulled over by a cop who noticed that his headlights were not turned on. This also resulted in an arrested teenager, a shocked and awed sibling, a very angry father, and a frighteningly silent ride home from the police station.

I fully expect one of the kids to bring these things up at the next family gathering. Under the right circumstances, that could result in an Oh-yeah-well-listen-to-what-your-mom/dad-did!-fest. What hath we wrought!



Incredible Hulk Pancake: Don't make
him angry. You wouldn't like him when
he's angry!
I cannot, nor I will not, hold me still. My tongue, though not my heart, shall have his will. -- Shakespeare

I am a very sarcastic person. Try as I might to be sweet and soft-spoken, the sarcasm fairly oozes from my being. A large portion of my family is this way, which is where I learned a lot of it. I have a caustic sense of humor.

Over the years, I have gotten better at holding my tongue - in certain situations. I do my best not to level smart-assed barbs at my children, for example. And I don't tell strangers when I think they are doing something stupid. But there are definite weaknesses in my Sarcasm Retaining Wall.

There are some people, in particular, who are able to get under my skin with very little effort. Unfortunately, I rarely hold my tongue in response. (Or rather, it must seem that way. Truly, you can't imagine the number of things that go through my head, but don't make it past my lips.) I have become a master of saying unloving things and labeling it as Brutally Honest, but No Offense.

At least one person has noticed, and today she was loving enough to bring it to my attention. I rapidly went through my typical responses: DEFENSIVE, ANGRY, SELF-RIGHTEOUS. What surprised me is that, just as rapidly, I settled into an unexpected response. It went something like this: "That's true. I recognize it. I own it. I need to change it."

Is that a new defense? Pretending not to be upset, so that the other person doesn't think I care what they have to say? Or is it a sign of growth? Humility? I guess the real test will come with time. Am I repentant; ready to change my path? Or do I go on with life as always, brushing off the advice that was given?

I've already mentioned that I try to be kind and hold my tongue, but I think I see the real problem here. Instead of trying to hold back the burning words, I should be praying that God would remove them altogether. If the corrosion is removed from my heart, then it cannot come out of my mouth.

Old prayer: "Lord, please help me to be loving toward _____. Help me speak to them kindly."

New prayer: "Lord, please change my heart. Fill it with words that build up, rather than words that destroy."



Disclaimer: This post was composed by a woman with a headache. She cannot promise high quality writing.

This is one of the people who
makes my life freaking awesome!
All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full. -- Ecclesiastes 1:7

Life can be very much like running on a treadmill at times. Get up, eat breakfast, answer questions, feed the children and animals, do dishes, answer questions, eat lunch, clean the house, do laundry, answer questions, cook dinner, clean up after dinner, bathe the kids, put them to bed, stare stupidly into space, go to bed, get up tomorrow and do it all over again. I love life, but in the dark moments it can seem so pointless.

It is God's love for me that gives me purpose. A desire to please Him and know him better gives me drive and direction. For the longest time, I thought that I was who I was and there was no escaping or changing it. It's been a rough road getting here, but I now believe that I am who I am and God can change my heart while I change my habits. I mean really, I'm barely recognizable as the same person who moved to Austin in 1996!

The richness in daily life comes from relationship with others. Since I have made drastic cut-backs in my media time, I am finding (NOT surprisingly) that I crave more human interaction. Since I'm not constantly texting people and checking Facebook, I want to see people in person (or at least talk to them on the phone). And what a better conversation can be had in person than in brief bursts of noncontextualized information!

You'd better sit down for this one... I've actually started answering my phone when it rings because I want to talk to people!

With my TV viewing limited, I'm going to bed earlier and waking up more easily. Since I'm not allowing myself to do three things at once while watching TV, I'm finding it much easier to fall asleep when I do go to bed! Now that I've (mostly) tamed that damned Candy Crush beast, I have more time to read books, which is something that I dearly love. Already, I feel my ability to focus increasing and my mind sharpening!

I don't know if they have noticed, but I am giving my children much more undivided attention. That is priceless!

I still look longingly at my phone sometimes (thinking of Candy Crush) and wonder how many comments and 'Like's I've got on Facebook, but I am SO glad that God opened my eyes to the ways that I've been handicapping myself! When I look at what I was spending most of my time doing, it's no wonder that life was starting to seem pointless.



My bed is like a little boat. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

At approximately 5:45 this morning, my little boat became so full that someone had to be thrown overboard. I woke to find that Eli had taken over most of my pillow and my side of the bed. He learned a long time ago that he should come to my side of the bed because he can crawl right across me and I'll never know it. If he comes to Doug's side of the bed, he finds himself lovingly returned to his own room.

So, I woke to find that my head was tucked onto the smallest corner of pillow and my body was straddling the uneven space where our mattresses meet. (After several years of trying to find a mattress that worked well for both of us, we gave up. I have mine and Doug has his and the difference in height is not typically a problem. It also provides a hard line to reference when quibbling about who is encroaching on whose side of the bed!)

Anyway, three in a bed is tolerable, if not comfortable. But 5:45 a.m. is when Lila showed up on Doug's side of the bed with bad dream issues. He thought he was going to tell her to squeeze in behind me ('cause i'll never know the difference, right?) until he discovered that Eli was already there. Four in a bed was not going to work for anyone, unless we had Lila lay horizontally below our feet, like a puppy.

He ended up grabbing his pillows and taking Lila back into her own room, where he finished the night on Eli's bed. What began as everyone in their own bed, ended with Eli on my side of the bed, me in the middle (refusing to give up on my beloved pillow), Lila in her own bed, and Doug in Eli's bed.

I wonder what would happen if we locked our bedroom door tonight...



My children take every opportunity to be silly, but they cut me no slack when I try to do the same. I tend to get That Look, along with an impressive-sounding, "Mo-om!" Aren't they a bit young to find my humor dorky? I thought that didn't start until they made it into the double-digit ages, but Lila has been giving me her patented Not Amused look since infancy!

This morning, we had to scale an all-hands-on-deck search party for Lila's school shoes. I couldn't restrain the urge to remind her that we would always know where her shoes were if she put them straight into her shoe basket after taking them off (like she's supposed to).

Aside from that, however, I kept my sense of humor about things. When we had been searching for 10 minutes (seriously), I started talking out loud in my best Announcer Voice.

"Will they find Lila's school shoes? Will she make it to class on time? Will she have to wear NON. UNIFORM. SHOES?!?"

Lila said, very matter-of-factly, "Mom! You can stop talking that way. You are not a person from a to-be-continued TV show from the '70s."

Where does she come up with this stuff? And how is she so good at making me feel like I'm the kid and she's the grown-up?



The one who walks with the wise will become wise... -- Proverbs 13:20

Do you have a wise person (or people) to walk through life with? I know some wise people, but it can't be said that I'm walking with them. Now and then, I think about asking another woman to be my mentor, but that is such an intimidating thing to ask a person. If someone came up to me and asked the same thing, I'm not sure whether I would run from her or just laugh. I don't think of myself as foolish, but neither do I think of myself as wise.

Doug and I are doing our part to offer what wisdom we do have by starting a small group/Bible study. We have led groups (both individually and as a couple) and been members of groups for most of the past 15 (me) to 20 (doug) years. The relationships that can come from regular meetings with a group of people who are pursuing God together can last a lifetime. And, as I think about it, it's a good reminder that we all have some wisdom to share!

I think I should do three things:

1. Make it a priority to hang out with the people I already know who can speak wisdom into my life. (I'm looking at you, Ellen and Renee!)

2. Look and pray for an opportunity to develop a relationship with another woman who is several years ahead of me in her parenting and marriage.

3. Begin now to pray for the people who will be in our small group, that God will prepare our hearts to love Him and love one another with wisdom.



Do not withhold good. -- Proverbs 3:27

I'm having sort of an ugly battle with my flesh this evening. I am aware of a person who is in need of help for a while. It's not the sort of help that can be given with a polite smile and a nod. It's the sort of help that takes work. It will encroach on my tidy schedule and set pattern of life, if only for a day or two. I typically love to help people. It gives me great satisfaction. So why the struggle this time? What is it about this request that I find myself fighting against?

Perhaps because it touches a part of my life that I feel I only have tenuous control over? It's not my job to be in control anyway! Because it requires using a "muscle" that I'm not particularly gifted in? Jesus never said that serving others would be comfortable! You know what else is not comfortable? Growth. This is looking to me like a huge opportunity for growth. I will offer my help to this person because it is what I know I should do.

The question is: Will I approach this opportunity with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?



Sitting in a chair? You're doin' it wrong.
God is with me at all times. -- McGuffey Primer

For those who aren't aware, we took Eli to see an endocrinologist today. He's always been a tiny guy, hovering around the 3rd percentile for height (on the growth charts). His pediatrician has never been concerned about it, so I haven't been either.

When his first year of school began to get closer, I did start to worry a little bit. In Pre-K, no one is going to notice if you're the shortest kid. The older you get, the more people will notice. Now, if he's going to be a short dude, that's fine.

There are plenty of short dudes in our families. There are plenty of average and tall dudes, as well. I just wanted to make sure that this was a normal short stature and not the result of a medical problem. So, his doctor ordered a bone age test. It's quite simple; they take an x-ray of his wrist and send the film to a specialist, who determines his bone age. That test came back showing that his bone age was only 3.5 years (his physical age being 5 years).

That was enough of a discrepancy to warrant some blood work and a trip to the endocrinologist, to make sure he didn't have a hormone problem. The blood tests were all normal. It took forever to get in to see the specialist (apparently there's only one office of pediatric endocrinologists in the whole city), but today was the day. The visit could not have gone better, really. I was worried that we were going to be entering a battle with a pill-pushing know-it-all (not that I have issues with doctors, or anything...), but nothing could be further from the truth.

The doctor said that the pediatrician had already run all the appropriate blood work and, as we know, it was all normal. The most reassuring thing she said was that the delayed bone growth was actually a GOOD sign. That means that he will probably just enter puberty a little later than his peers and continue growing for a couple of years after they are all done. Is he going to hate that when he gets older? Probably, but it's still great news!

We are supposed to go back to the endocrinologist in 4 months and have another bone age test in June 2014, both to make sure that his growth isn't slipping farther behind. I'll keep you updated, but I really don't anticipate any problems. Hooray!



The naughty sleeping place here: Lila's pillow
A cat can eat a rat. -- Webster's Bluebacked Speller

. . . unless it is the cat in this photo. This cat is broken. She lays on her back for most of the day, pitifully reaching one paw out toward any person who walks by her. She would have you believe that she is horribly neglected, but she's not.

The only time she feels it is appropriate to get off her back is when it's time to eat or she has spotted what she perceives to be a naughty place to lay. One of her favorite right-side-up pastimes is laying on the back of the couch, behind my head, and smacking me in the side of the face with her tail.

If this cat ever saw a rat, she'd probably just ask it to scratch her belly.



"Christ is all, and in all." -- Colossians 3:11

I've been pretty vague about this medication change that I'm going through and I suppose it's because I fear being judged. To heck with that! I much prefer transparency and freedom. The short version is that I'm trying to reduce my dose of antidepressant. The much longer version is as follows...

Depression has been always for me. Shortly before Doug and I got married, it started getting much worse. I won't go into all the details of the depression itself or the hundreds of hours of therapy that I've been through. That's not what this story is about. This is about the medication side of things. What you do need to know is that, about one month after the wedding, I got about as low as I could get. The only step further down would have been suicide.

One aspect of my problem was a big battle with obsessive thoughts. Some poisonous thought would find its way into my head and I could not stop thinking about it, no matter how hard I tried. Therapy was not helping with this, so I finally decided to try medication. I went to my first psychiatrist (he asked to be called Dr. J and passed out hugs as freely as drugs. i kid you not.) and got a prescription for a low dose of Paxil CR. 12.5 mg, if you're interested.

That worked wonders for me. I still remember the day that I was driving down the road and one of these awful thoughts popped into my head and I just decided not to think about it. And it WORKED. It was such a big deal that I almost had to pull over! And it continued to work well for me as I pursued therapy and began healing.

Fast forward a few years to the birth of my first child. I knew that post-partum depression was a possibility, but I had no idea what was coming.

It hit me hard and I found myself right back at rock bottom, almost overnight. That was when my psychiatrist increased my dose to 25 mg. The idea was that I'd take that dose until I stabilized and then go back down. It worked very well, again. In fact, once I was feeling better, I was feeling so much better that it seemed foolish to decrease my dose. So there I stayed.

Fast forward a few more years, to the birth of my second child.

I prayed that I would not have the same problems as before. I had worked SO hard and gone through SO much therapy that I figured I was safe. Wrong. Baby is born and I'm back at rock bottom. At this point, you can probably guess what came next. My psychiatrist increased my medication (to 50 mg) and it worked so well that we all agreed I should stay at that dose. And that is where I have been since Eli was born.

It has always been my goal to eventually wean off of the medication. Even though I recognize the essential role that it has played in my life, it still bothers me greatly that I am putting manufactured chemicals into my body every day. In recent months, I began to realize that I am in better mental, emotional, and physical shape than I have ever been in my life. It seemed (still does) like the perfect time to take that first step and reduce my medication.

I did not do this on my own, of course. I talked to my doctor about it and he was willing to work with me to achieve my goal. (I'd like to see him stop me, really.) I plan on taking this very slowly. I've been taking this medication for over 10 years and my brain will need lots of time to adjust. The agreed-upon first step was to go from 50 mg back down to 25 mg. I don't remember if the 50% reduction was my idea or his, but it was a bad one.

I've been doing research this week and it seems that the suggested method of weaning is to reduce your dose by 10% every 3-6 weeks. It also turns out that Paxil is a very difficult medication to get off of. As I am discovering firsthand. Some of the side effects have been expected and others have been a total surprise. In the two weeks since I decreased my dose, I've experienced: dizziness, vivid dreams, intense emotions, anger and frustration, depression, nausea and diarrhea, headaches, poor concentration, and short term memory problems.

Doesn't that sound like fun?!? [BIG eye roll]

I'm sticking with it though. Quitting does not sit well with me, so it would take a lot to convince me to go back to the higher dose of medication. For now, I've learned a very effective coping technique. It's called Jesus. I look directly at whatever crazy emotion I'm feeling and I tell it that I know what it really is. Then I turn my eyes away from it and onto Jesus and I trust that it will pass soon. He's never let me down before and I know He won't let me down now.

God doesn't ask us to do anything without also giving us the strength to do it. The problems begin when we begin trying to do his Will (or our own) by our own power. Not gonna work. Every single one of us is weak and broken. And praise God for that because I wouldn't want to have to do this on my own!



I watched a documentary today that was very convicting. It's called Captivated and it's about finding help for our media-captivated culture. I was squirming in my seat as I watched because it forced me to face my own media addictions: cable tv, Facebook, texting, media multi-tasking, computer and phone games. I looked at myself and I didn't like what I saw. I'm not the type of person who sees an unsatisfactory thing in themselves and just keeps going.

I am committing to the following changes...

1. I am going to talk to Doug about cancelling our AT&T U-verse service. Just thinking about not having access to all the shows that I typically watch makes me kind of panicky, which is a good indicator that I need to cut the cord. I think Doug will be up for this because he has thrown the idea out himself in the past (and received a rather hostile and defensive response from his loving wife). I have no intention of cutting us off entirely though.

We'll be keeping Netflix and I can always watch network shows on their websites.

2. Facebook and I are ending our affair. I will check it only once per day. The instant gratification I received from frequent Facebook updates is the reason I have let my blog go (despite multiple attempts to revive it). No more. I am going to try to give up Instagram as well. I will carry the camera with me or email photos from my phone to myself so that I can use them in my blog. The practice of putting my thoughts together into a coherent blog update in the evenings will benefit me far more than having my friends 'Like' every random thought that I have during the day.

[sigh] I used to be a pretty good writer. Now I have a hard time keeping my thoughts in one place long enough to type out a whole story. I don't like that.

3. I will not text, play phone games, or play computer games when there is another human in the room with me. Anything that needs to be said urgently can be said in a phone call. Games only serve to distract me from something far more important - relationships.

4. I will use only one type of media at a time. This might actually help me cut down on my tv viewing because I really don't like to sit and stare at the screen for very long. That is why I tend to have the tv on, my phone next to me, and my computer in my lap. Disgusting. If I can't sit still to watch the show, then it must not be that good. If my hands really need something to keep them busy, then maybe I'll take up crocheting again.

I'll have to ponder that one though. Not sure crocheting (or other crafty-type things) would be any better because I'd still be multi-tasking. And here's the plain truth: You cannot give your full attention to more than one thing at a time. Think about it.

Let's see, is that all?

Oh, I might also give up my subscription to the digital version of the newspaper and start getting a physical one. It's more expensive and less environmentally friendly, but it's better for my eyes and brain.

Please keep me accountable to these commitments. Ask me how it's going. If you see me updating Facebook during the day, then call me on it! Some of these changes will be gradual and they might take time. I'll try to avoid perfectionism and keep my eye on trajectory.