Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Great Memory I Had Today - # 1

While perusing my bookshelf the other day, I came across an at-home Bible Study that I had done many years ago called "Becoming A Woman of Excellence" by Cynthia Heald. It was very interesting to look through it and read all of my notes - to see how I had answered certain questions, and to get a glimpse of where I was in my head and in my heart back then.

On page 15, I noticed a Scripture that I had underlined. It was 1 Samuel 16:7 - "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

I suddenly was transported back to the first time I ever saw this Scripture. I actually don't remember many of the details around my discovery of this Scripture, or how I even came across it. But I do remember how I felt the first time I read those words. It was actually many years before I did the Cynthia Heald study. Indeed, I know exactly when it was, because I marked it in my Bible: February 22nd, 1991.

I was a 21-year old college Senior, and like many women in America, I had spent a number of years battling body image issues, trying to live up to impossible beauty standards, and often struggling with the feeling that my value was directly and inexorably tied to how I looked.

So when I read these words in Holy Scripture - man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart - it was just one of those moments when I knew - I just knew - that I had encountered great Truth. Furthermore, it affirmed all of the things that I had theretofore come to know and understand about God's character - His goodness, His compassion, and His unfailing ability to fly in the face of all of the lies the world loves to tell us. Your only value is in your appearance? Nonsense, says God. You're only as good as you are beautiful? Rubbish, says God. You gotta look just like the girl on the cover of that magazine? A heaping, stinking pile of lies, says God.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm as much a girly-girl as the next girl. I've got big love for hair, makeup, shopping, clothes, shoes, jewelry, purses, pedi's, mani's - you name it. And I don't see anything wrong with any of that. It's all a blast, and for me, one of the most fun parts about being a woman. But in our aesthetically-obsessed culture, in which the impossible goal of physical perfection is the stated ideal, and qualities such as character, kindness, morality, and selflessness are often deemed unimportant, I rest in the knowledge that the Sovereign God says that what He cares about the most is our hearts.

Thanks be to God for His bold, life-changing, audacious words of Truth!

Funny Thing My Dad Said - # 4

I live with my 71-year old father, who is paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a massive stroke he had almost six years ago. Despite this, his mind is as sharp and clever and irreverent as ever, and his only limitations are physical. He has always been One Of The Funniest People I Know, and almost daily, he says something that practically makes me laugh up a lung.

I came home from the restaurant one afternoon and said, "Daddy, I got the nicest compliment from one of my customers today, a very sweet older lady." He replied, "Oh yeah? What did she say?" I said, "Well, I had just come up and greeted her, and she looked right at me and said, 'Well honey, you are so pretty!' Isn't that sweet?" Daddy replied, "Oh that is very sweet. Too bad she has cataracts though..."

Ok Ya'll, This Made Me Laugh - #1

I was driving to work last evening and was in a bit of a hurry. I wasn't running late, but I was running "on time", and because Saturday nights at the restaurant are so busy, being on time is critical.

I am generally a very good driver, and in particular, a very courteous driver. I have the name of "Jesus" in an ichthus on the back of my car, so the manner in which I treat people on the road really matters. I can't espouse the tenets of Jesus on my bumper and then go and act like Satan himself at the wheel. I'm ultra-conscientious about the way I drive.

Anyway, I was pulling out of my neighborhood and onto a highway frontage road. A few cars were coming down the hill, but I felt for sure I could beat them all. I began inching my car out, when I suddenly realized there was a minivan coming down at such a rate of speed that I simply was not going to be able to pull out. I mean, I could have, but I would have had to rudely peel out in front of her. So, I stopped, but I was already a couple of feet into her lane.

Right as she passed me, she slowed a bit, and I gave her a sheepish little wave, ya know, the universal sign for, "My bad, I messed up, I'm so sorry."

I expected a wave back. I mean, can't we all just get along? Honest mistake, let's move on from this, right? Well, it was not to be. Indeed, what happened next was astounding.

She wagged her finger at me. Let me repeat that: She wagged her finger at me. Three times, in fact. Wag. Wag. Wag.

Ok ya'll. No one has wagged their finger at me since Bill Clinton told me that he definitely did NOT have any kind of relations with "that woman." And let me just say for the record that I didn't like finger-wagging then, and I don't like it now.

I sorta couldn't believe it. I began to wonder if she had said anything aloud to me as well, ya know, like: "You better mind your p's and q's little missy!" Or perhaps, "Maybe you need to go to your room and think about what you did." I almost felt a lump in my throat, as if I was going to cry, just out of sheer humiliation. But had I done that, I felt certain she would have turned her car around, walked right over to my window, and told me that I'd better stop that crying or she'd give me something to really cry about.

As I continued driving to work, I started lightening up a bit, and realized that this had been a hilarious incident. I began HOWLING thinking about it. I had been admonished with a finger-wagging from a complete stranger in a minivan!

I lost my mother a few years ago, and I am always grateful for any little bits of mothering that I can get. But this was not exactly what I had in mind...

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Heart Robert Wagner

OK, ya'll. Yesterday I was watching "Good Morning America" and they were talking about the actor Robert Wagner's new autobiography, "Pieces of my Heart". They were showing several photos from his life, and as I was watching this, I suddenly remembered something that had slipped my mind:

Robert Wagner is the hottest guy to ever walk this earth.

Seriously people. Seriously.

How I could ever have forgotten this, I do not know.

On top of that - and really, more importantly - he is widely regarded as one of the nicest, most charming, and most gracious gentleman that Hollywood has ever known.

Out of the kindness of my heart, I am going to share with you a few photos of him.

People often ask me what my "type" is. Well...yer lookin' at it.

Early photo, probably from the 1950's:

So debonair in the 60's! I wanna play with his hair:

I absolutely LOVE this turtleneck and blazer look. If I were married to Robert Wagner, he would have to dress this way every day:

With the love of his life, Natalie Wood. The fact that he is wearing a gold chain is completely forgiven:

As super-suave Jonathan Hart from the "Hart to Hart" TV series:

And as a bonus, check out this smoldering photo from the cover of his new book:

You're welcome.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Funny Thing My Dad Said - #3

I live with my 71-year old father, who is paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a massive stroke he had almost six years ago. Despite this, his mind is as sharp and clever and irreverent as ever, and his only limitations are physical. He has always been One Of The Funniest People I Know, and almost daily, he says something that practically makes me laugh up a lung.

The first semester of my freshman year in high school, my Dad drove me to school every morning. My older sister would normally have driven me, but she had drill team practice early in the morning, and my mother was busy getting my three younger siblings off to their respective schools. So, throughout the Fall of 1983, Daddy and I carpooled.

Dad and I were recently watching "Best of the 80's Videos" on VH1, and a video by the Stray Cats came on. I said, "Oh my gosh! Daddy, I used to make you listen to my Stray Cats tape when you took me to school in the 9th grade! Do you remember that one year when you drove me to school every morning?"

To which he replied: "Yes, I remember very well because it was the year I started drinking."

Confessions of a Dork - #1

Yours truly is a four-star geek, and almost daily, I do or say something that raises my dorkiness to stratospheric levels. Case in point:

The other day, I went to my brother's house to go see my sister-in-law and my nephew. I have been over there many times and have always been made to feel very welcome and right at home. So, it was quite natural for me to walk into the kitchen to grab a drink. I filled my cup with ice, made my way to the sink, and turned the faucet on to get some water.

Before I even knew what hit me, my hair and my shirt were soaking wet. I thought for a moment that I might have been shot. Ya know, by a gun. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some water shooting projectile across the kitchen. It seemed as though gallons of water were flying through the air. Water hitting the kitchen island, water hitting the microwave, water hitting the cabinets. Water flippin' everywhere. What was going on?

Somehow I was able to fumble my way through the deluge and turn the faucet off. My sister-in-law Christy - she being possessed of a sweet and gentle spirit - calmly said, "Oh...that faucet is broken." She apologized profusely, somehow thinking it was her fault that I had just caused a major cataclysm her kitchen.

Here is what I looked like after said incident:

Here is a picture of the faucet.

Clearly missing a major piece. Why I did not notice that this was an obvious aberration from the norm, I do not know, nor do I want to discuss.

It merely confirms my status as a Dork.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Remembering My Mom

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my mother's death. She died at age 62 from a pulmonary embolism, after battling illness for many hard-fought years. I have written about her a number of times, but for anyone who does not know...she was one of the greatest ladies who ever lived: A devoted wife, a wonderful mother, a dear friend, and a gracious hostess. Her life was one marked by kindness, compassion, selflessness, intelligence, and humor. She is missed so dearly, but who she was and how she lived continues to impact and influence each of us every day.

It is always important to us to mark this anniversary in a significant way, and this year was no exception. My sister is in town with her kids Rachel and Christopher (they are Hurricane Ike evacuees) and my nephew Camden lives here in Austin. So, we decided that we wanted the grandkids to participate in remembering her. Although only Rachel remembers my Mom (Christopher was only 20 months old when she died and Camden was born the day of her funeral), they are very familiar with her because we so often share with them stories and pictures of her.

The family met at mine and Dad's house in the evening, and we decided to have the kids release balloons to the heavens in memory of Mom. They were so enthusiastic, and it was so very sweet! We followed the balloon release with dinner from Mr. Gatti's Pizza, which was always one of Mom's favorites. That was followed by watching the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, which Mom also loved, being the huge sports fan that she was. (One of the legendary stories about Mom is that she actually cried after the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the 1979 Super Bowl. I can still see her crying in the kitchen like it was yesterday. Hers were tears of outrage over some bad calls that the Cowboys had gotten. Don't get anyone in my family started on this. We are still mad about it, some 29 years later).

Anyway, it was a great evening overall, one that Mom would have loved. And once again, we found ourseleves, even in the midst of our grief, feeling very blessed.

Here is a picture of the kids with their balloons (from left to right, that's Rachel, Christopher, and Camden).

And here is a video of the kids releasing the balloons. The grandkids always called her "Mum." (You'll have to forgive some of the laughter on the video. We Werners don't do anything without humor, and yes, that includes grief):

And, for true comic relief, here is a video of Rachel and Christopher releasing the final balloon, but only after arguing about it first:

Finally, here's a picture of my Mom holding me when I was a month old (she is on the right, in red). Is she 60's cool, or what?

Thanks be to God for the life of this woman.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Return of an Unfortunate Trend


Shutter shades are back.

I wanna know who's responsible, and I wanna know now.

Can the return of parachute pants be far behind?

Or worse yet...the return of tight-rolled pants?

Stop the madness.

End the lunacy.

Just say no to shutter shades.

Back From The Beach!

Howdy All!

I have returned from my trip to South Padre Island, and am thrilled to report that it was a perfect week! I spent a ton of time praying and writing, and once again, have returned from this vacation feeling both spiritually and physically rejuvenated. Praise God! We had beautiful weather (amazing, considering all of the storms that were brewing in the Gulf), wonderful meals (lovingly prepared by the trips' matriarch, Carol), LOTS of laughter (of the pee-in-your-pants variety), spirited political discussions (what with the Republican Convention being on and all), and just lots of good rest and relaxation (with the possible exception of my friend Tammi, who had her 3- and 8-year old sons in tow. Bless her). The gals I was with also did a lot of shopping, and have very likely single-handedly helped the Island recoup any and all revenue losses caused by Hurricane Dolly.

Speaking of which, many of you have asked what kind of condition the Island is in since Dolly made landfall there on July 23rd. For the most part, the Island has recovered well. There are a few major hotels (including the Radisson and the Sheraton) that have completely closed their doors until Fall in order to do major repairs, and it was weird to see those usually busy and bustling places so quiet. Some businesses have closed permanently, or at least for the rest of the season, but for the most part, everyone is back in business and seem to have not missed a beat!

Almost every single establishment on the Island has some damage to their signage, and that was the biggest indication of the destruction that Dolly brought. I very much appreciated this t-shirt shop's sense of humor:

I wish I had more pictures to share with you from the trip, but unfortunately, I had camera issues all week! The first few days, all of my pictures were turning out dark. Then my batteries ran out, so I bought some more, but they did not work. Grrrr! I finally did get some working batteries, but the next day I dropped the camera and the battery cover came loose, so the batteries would not stay in the camera. Gah! Can I be any more of a spazz? Drama!

If any of you would like to come and see how savagely tan I am, just call me and we'll schedule a viewing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tales of a Restricted Budget - #1

Herein you will find anecdotes about how my life has changed since going from a high five-figure corporate salary to a waitress's/musician's wage.

Because I was saving money up for my vaca, I could not afford to get a pedicure before I left. See disgraceful picture below:

This is shameful. This is scandalous. This is a sin against all womanhood. Maybe even against all mankind.

And no, I'm not gonna show you the other foot because it is even worse.

And no, I cannot do my toenails myself because for some reason, when I try to do it, my motor skills degenerate to that of a two-year old.

Funny Thing My Dad Said - #2

I live with my 71-year old father, who is paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a massive stroke he had almost six years ago. Despite this, his mind is as sharp and clever and irreverent as ever, and his only limitations are physical. He has always been One Of The Funniest People I Know, and almost daily, he says something that practically makes me laugh up a lung.

Last week I went to the dentist and had to go straight to work afterwards. I came home that night and was relating to Daddy how goofy I looked when I got to work. I said, "Daddy, I was still completely numb from the novacaine and my face looked all distorted and contorted!" He replied, "Your face has looked distorted and contorted since 1969."

Note: 1969 is the year I was born.

A Good Sign...


When we got to the beach house Saturday evening, one of the kiddos turned on the TV. I hardly even noticed that he had done so, but then...I heard it. What did I hear, you ask? The unmistakable sounds of the greatest musical of all time, "The Sound of Music." Could it really be that in the very same moment that I was arriving at my island paradise, my favorite movie was on as well? The first movie that moved my heart to song, that set me on a course toward a lifetime love and passion for music?

I turned to look at the TV, and there it was, all of it - the majestic Austrian alps, the chirping birds, the magnificent lakes, the opening strains of Rodger's and Hammerstein's masterful score. And within minutes, the sight of Julie Andrews spinning atop the Untersberg, her four-octave voice reminding me once again that the hills are indeed alive with the sound of music.

Never mind that I own this movie and its soundtrack in virtually every media format. Never mind that I have seen it roughly one thousand seven hundred and forty two times. Never mind that, thanks to the DVD world we live in, watching "The Sound of Music" on TV is no longer the treasured once-a-year-only ritual that it once was.

The point was a good sign my friends. A good sign! A good sign that the week ahead would be a blessed one - one filled with goodness and music and love and laughter and friendship. How could it not be so?

One final note: I had to laugh when I saw that they were showing the movie in closed-caption, ya know, with the words provided at the bottom of the screen.

Um, yeah, like I really need the words...

Greetings From South Padre Island!

Howdy All!

We arrived safely in South Padre on Saturday evening, and all is going wonderfully! I am down here with a group of lifelong girlfriends and two of their kiddos, and we are here for the 12th year in a row! In the past, we have always stayed at the Saida Towers Condominiums, but this week, we decided to rent a house, and I am pleased to report that it is ab fab! It is beautifully decorated, a stone's throw from the beach, loaded with all the fine amenities, and big enough to accommodate us all very comfortably. It has tile throughout, so the sound just bounces all over the place. Consequently, it is a cacophony of noise, clamor, laughter, and racket. Which come to think of it, is perfectly fine with me. I was raised on such noise, you know...

I have been assigned to what is clearly a kids' room. It has two twin beds, and, hilariously, is decorated with a pirate's theme. These are the images that I am falling asleep to every night:

Ok, that Pirate's Cove one is a little creepy, is it not? It cracks me up, because the last image that I typically see before I go to bed each night is this picture of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gesthemane:

Clearly, I am away from home.
Ok, more to come! Stay tuned. Or I'll make ya walk the plank. ARRRRRR!