Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End

I've been reading many year-in-review posts this week, but I am too exhausted to even think of writing my own comprehensive reflection. This past month has not treated my family and friends kindly, so the end of my relationship with 2011 is more of a bad break-up than a sweet parting. 

However, please do not think I am ungrateful for the gifts I have been given this year. God has blessed me richly with the rekindling of some old friendships and the sweet surprise of some new friendships. The online community has been incredibly welcoming to me and my little blog. I was blessed to meet some of my blogging friends in person this year. 

I have also have received an incredible amount of support from my dear, near friends and from loved ones far away. I would not have made it through 2011 without the outpouring of love that has come my way. My hope is to spread that love around because it is too precious a gift not to share. 

Let me just say a quiet goodbye to 2011 and a welcome to 2012. May this new year see you all richly blessed.



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Friday, December 30, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Open

On Fridays around these parts we link up with Lisa-Jo and we stop, drop, and write.

For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.

Won’t you join us?   


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:


Open...




GO!

Ah, it seems that I am having another "opposite day" with the Gypsy Mama. She wants us to write about "open" when I feel closed off. Would that I could wave a wand and make it different.

I need to be open. I need to be very open - to change, to new ideas, to the path God is leading me down. I need to be open to receiving what He needs to give me for this next leg of the journey. It will not be easy, I know, so being open to His wisdom is going to be paramount.

I need to be open to trying new things - new foods, new social situations, new ways of thinking about my life. I am trying to surround myself with people who can teach me about these things and people who can just love and support me while it is happening. 

I need to open up my heart to the people around me and share the love that God has given me for all of them. It sounds easier than it is sometimes. But that is what I want - for the people around me to FEEL the love I have for them - not just know about it in their minds. What amazing things could happen if I opened up my heart.

God, open me up. I am Your vessel. Open me to whatever You need me to do for Your work. And bless those around me who are trying to be open to You as well. May the journey be smooth for them. 

In Jesus name, Amen.

Stop

As always, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo, the Gypsy Mama, and the rest of the gang for Five Minute Friday. Definitely go check out what other people are saying over there!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Salvation Across The Border



Muddy Jesus by Ian Moore

Jesus lived in a ramshackle shack
with a fat New Orleans junkie
A charismatic cholo soul
Some say was born plain lucky
He'd cruise the streets of Juarez
In his low cut El Dorado
Divine command and oil slick hands 
A brash and bold bravado
Mother Mary said your time has come
The river's wide but can be fought and won
For the very love of God and man
Jesus cross the Rio Grande

Jesus fell in step with a group
of high-powered Federales
Who set him down and formed their plan
through a haze of cold Tecates
Judas said now Jeez I know
you're prone to walk on water
But if you swim downstream
there's a better chance
that you'll make it across the border
Mother Mary said your time has come
The river's wide but can be fought and won
For the very love of God and man 
Jesus cross the Rio Grande

Jesus made his run on a hot
and humid Friday night
But his vision was blinded
by the bright El Paso lights
He never saw the shot
That left him short of freedom's land
But the faithful they're still waiting
for the coming of their man 
Mother Mary said your time has come
The river's wide but can be fought and won
For the very love of God and man 
Jesus cross the Rio Grande

Ian Moore is a memory from my short drinking history. I used to see him play at the Continental Club down on South Congress Avenue in Austin. I would see him standing there before the show, just hanging out. Nobody around him and almost close enough to touch. I could have walked up to him and started a conversation, but I was a 'fraidy-cat. (I also missed out on meeting Lenny Kravitz once just because I was in my PJs. What is wrong with me?) I just admired him from afar and danced like a wild thing when he was singing.

A couple of years later when the song "Muddy Jesus" came out, I remember the little fundamentalist that still ran around in my head saying that Ian should be whipped with a Bible belt for being blasphemous, irreverent, sacrilegious, and five other bad things. The music lover in me was feeling the rhythm of the song move through my body. I think the music lover won. (I did not really want to mess up Ian's good looks by whipping him anyway.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Desde el Monte... Christmas Break

Over the course of my short time in Uruguay, I was introduced to many experiences that were different from my life in Texas. Also, since Uruguay is south of the Equator, Uruguay was having cold weather just as Texas was really heating up. The seasons we associated with certain holidays were exactly opposite for them. It was all just very different.

There is one thing that was not different, though. It was not different then and it is not different today. Jesus chose to become a man through a lowly birth so the He could redeem every one of us. His blood was shed for me, for the citizens of Uruguay, for Kimenyi (the little boy in Rwanda that we sponsor), for the homeless guy we gave a dollar last night, for Casey Anthony, for Kim Jong Il, for our "enemies", and for every human who has drawn breath. He wants all of us. Jesus was desperate enough for a relationship with each of us that He went to the most extreme lengths possible.

I think that is the most important thing that I can remember today, and therefore it is the most important thought I could convey to you at this moment. The God of Love sent His Son to beat a gruesome death so that EVERYONE could have hope in Him. 

So Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one. 

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Everybody's Happy


My precious Mama was a gentle soul. She was the quiet complement to my Dad's gregariousness. She rarely ever said a harsh word, even when we deserved it. She loved Jesus, read her Bible regularly, and prayed for her family and many others. She loved people by cooking for them. She also shared her talents by sewing, quilting, and painting for us. She nursed us when we were sick and when we were just whiny. She was good at adjusting to most any situation just to make it easier on those around her. She still wrote out and mailed letters to loved ones, because she liked communicating that way and because she knew how special it made people feel when they got a piece of mail that was not a bill. 

Something else that Mama was good at was being my Mama. She understood my strengths and weaknesses. She appreciated my quirks. She knew to just smile and nod when I said, "Guess what, Mama?". She did not begrudge me the emotional fragility that came with my genetic personality. She never gave up on me even though I fell on my face quite often. She knew that even as an adult, I still was thrilled when she made me a heart-shaped bologna sandwich for Valentine's Day. She knew how to get rollers (hot or wet) to stay in my wavy-only-in-places hair. She welcomed my friends into our home with a hug even if she was meeting them for the first time. She forgave me over and over and over again for transgressions great and small. She treated my husband as her own son and loved on his kids and grandkids whenever she had the chance. She rocked my baby puppies to sleep. She answered my phone calls in the middle of the night when I was crying so hard that I could not breathe and was not able to tell her what was wrong. She constantly went without so that I could have what I needed and what I wanted. She paid for me to have my hair dyed purple, then pink, and then burgundy. She laughed at my stupid jokes. She went with me to movies that she did not enjoy just so she could spend time with me. She loved being my Mama.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 15

Welcome back to Second Chance Wednesdays! It is once again time to turn to the People of the Second Chance's poster series, Never Beyond. If you are new to this campaign, you can read more about it and find links to all of my Never Beyond posts here.

***

Look at this face:


Grinch was a mean one, for sure. He also took his second chance before anyone really offered it to him. That takes guts. Could you do that? Could you be atrociously evil and do whatever was possible to ruin someone else's holiday and then turn around and say, "I get it now! Merry Christmas!". Would you be afraid of how that someone would respond to you? Would you let everything fester so that you did not have to apologize or make the first move?

I'm pretty sure that I have been on both sides of this one. I have gotten better at apologizing, forgiving, and reaching out, but there is much more work to do on my shriveled little heart. It might still be at least one size too small.

What about you? Do you need to reach out to someone this Christmas? Do you need to give or get a second chance?

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Desde el Monte... The Violin

Previous installations of Desde el Monte...

***

God graciously gave me many little gifts during my short stay in Uruguay. I probably do not even remember them all, because I did not write any of it down while it was happening. However, there are a few of these gifts that I remember clearly and want to share them with you.

Today, I want to tell you about three men who made a huge impact on me - Hugo, the Violinist, and Mr. Ramirez.

Meet my friend Hugo (pronounced Oo-go):


Hugo is originally from the South American country of Colombia, but back in 1999 he was a student at Abilene Christian University, which is how he heard about this particular mission trip. Hugo was blessed with the spiritual gift of long-suffering, which he showed by how he indulged my many requests. My requests were most often for translating services, which means that Hugo was often involved in my conversations rather than conversations of his own. As I said, long-suffering. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Untitled

If I stand all alone, will the shadow hide the color of my heart;
Blue for the tears, black for the nights fears...
The star in the sky don't mean nothin' to you, they're a mirror.
I don't want to talk about it, how you broke my heart.
If I stay here just a little bit longer,
If I stay here, wont you listen to my heart, whoa, heart? 
I don't want to talk about it, how you broke this ol' heart.
(Danny Whitten)


***

I am known for being talkative. I am known for being a wordy writer. I am known for always have something to say - always having a story to tell. I am known for telling people that it is okay for them to ask me personal questions. Ninety-nine percent of the time I give an answer, with plenty of detail at that.

Taking all of those things into consideration, I find my current situation uncomfortable because I just don't want to talk about it. I cannot even remember the last time I did not want to talk about something.

I know that God has asked me to write about my life for His glory, but tonight I just do not want to. I've been sitting here for hours trying to find reasons that I should be allowed to tell Him "no". It is now the wee hours of the morning and all I can think of is that I just do not want to write about things that are so raw and fresh. I do not want to admit that people have hurt me and I certainly do not want to admit that my emotional and mental responses to those hurts have been sick, sad, and dangerous to my well-being.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Connected

On Fridays around these parts we link up with Lisa-Jo and we stop, drop, and write.


For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.

Won’t you join us?

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:
Connected…


Go


Connected? I don't feel connected at all. And that is the saddest thing. There are so many people who love me and want me to know/feel that. They want to be connected to me. Amazing that they do, but thankful for that. 

I know why I am disconnected and it scares me and pisses me off a little bit. My eating disorder is in full swing right now. I have deprived my brain of so much nutrition that it is not making sense anymore. It scares me and yet I feel powerless to stop it. Charles - dear husband of mine - has found a way for me to get help. I guess other people helped find the place, but Charles is the one who negotiated and finagled to make it happen.

I will start treatment for me eating disorder on Monday. I won't be inpatient, but I will be there 10 hours a day and it is about a 30 minute trip each way. So I won't be here - connected to all of you - as much. But we can stay connected if we pray for each other, right? I hope so. I surely hope so.

That's all I've got. Hope it was 5 minutes.

Stop


As always, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo, the Gypsy Mama, and the rest of the gang for Five Minute Friday. Definitely go check out what other people are saying over there!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Long-Lasting Label

"You are the problem."

I've heard it before. I have heard it all of my life. I heard it again Sunday night. I am not A problem. I am The Problem. That has been my identity since infancy. Being The Problem has great power, if you think about it. I've been able to cause hurt and strife since before I knew those words existed. Who knew children could rule people like that and the adults would be powerless to stop it?

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. I've had to try to keep up with all of the issues that I've caused and who was hurt by them. The list is extensive. Some of the issues came up without me even being present. Those are the ones that are really hard to keep track of. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting The Point

Even at my "middle" age, there are age-old traditions that are new to me. God's people are still fascinating to me personally and to the little sociologist who lives inside me and takes notes on the many ways people do things. 

This year, the age-old tradition that I have been introduced to is Advent. Yes, I have been going to church all of my life, but the Christian tradition I come from does not celebrate Holy days or seasons. I think the tagline is, "every day should be Holy". I had heard the word "advent" used for Advent calendars (which I saw sold at the dime store and in Avon catalogs and thought were merely a count-down to presents) and Seventh Day Adventists.  It never occurred to me to look for more of an explanation for the word or event.

This year is different, though. I started blogging and in doing so, I made many bloggy friends who are opening my eyes to all kinds of new (to me) traditions and ways of thinking. Quite a few of these bloggy friends have been writing about Advent and how they are celebrating this year. I mentioned this to Hubby and he said that he really enjoyed celebrating Advent as a child. Why had he not mentioned this before? He had liked that Mama and I already had a set tradition for the Christmas season and he didn't want to horn in on that. With Mama gone now, he felt that he could say more about what he would really like to do for our Christmas season celebrations in the future. It makes me sad that he never said anything before, but I think he treasures the way he spent the past five Christmases with Mama. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

After These Messages...

We interrupt our usual Sunday series, Desde el Monte... (Uruguay mission trip), for these tedious messages:

Hubby and I are under the weather. I think we caught something that is going around (and is unfortunately being shared). Also, one of the doggies seems to be feeling poorly too. (Keeping a sharp eye on him.) Therefore, I have not been able to finish a decent post for my regular Sunday series. However, I offer for your viewing pleasure this:


Yes, those are aardvarks wearing sweaters. No, I have not been able to find an explanation. I would assume that they were cold. Wikipedia says that aardvarks typically live in "savannas, grasslands, woodlands, and bushland" in Africa, so I am unclear as to how these two creatures ended up in someone's utility room. If you look on the wall behind them, you will see a stereo mounted there, so maybe they were having a dance party. If that is not it, I got nothing...

The Counterman household should be on the mend soon. I hope to bring you a worthwhile post about Uruguay next Sunday. If not, I'll have to cull the internet for more weird photos.

This concludes our commercial break. Please enjoy your Sunday.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Please Turn In Your Hymnals...

...to page 533


This song is going through my head this morning. You can hear it sung here. You can read one person's take on the significance of a new song here (I skimmed it, so I am not suggesting at this point that it is an authoritative article. I was just quickly looking for an explanation for those who might want it.)

What song is going through your head today?


Friday, December 9, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Color

On Fridays around these parts we link up with Lisa-Jo and we stop, drop, and write.


For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.

Won’t you join us?

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Color…


Go


Color. Wow... this time of year is filled with color. Usually I would worry about bringing out "clashing" colors into my living room, but not at Christmas-time. We have bright neon colors and traditional reds and greens. And I just love it!

Our Christmas tree is a hot-pink, pre-lit type. I wish we had room in our small foyer to put it there. My foyer is painted hot-pink (ceilings too). I love putting neon blue and green and purple ornaments on the tree and I love how it stands out. Maybe we should just paint the whole living room pink, too? Nah...

Hubby finally told me this year that he likes traditional Christmas decorations as well. So now we have the dark greens and reds of faux fir limbs and poinsettias filling the living room and kitchen as well. It is a little strange to have such traditional and non-traditional decorations together but I don't care. We enjoy them all. 

Color, color, color! Everywhere you look we have color! I have friends that are "minimalists", with bright white walls and just a few decorations and that seems to work in their homes, but it doesn't here. Hubby and I just love adding more color everywhere. We are glad when a season comes around to give us reason to put up more color - even colors that aren't supposed to "match". 

Do you have lots of color in your Christmas decorating?


Stop

As always, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo, the Gypsy Mama, and the rest of the gang for Five Minute Friday. Definitely go check out what other people are saying over there!

***

Due to several comments saying photos would be good, here is the hot-pink tree. This is what it looks like decorated. We have left it bare this year in honor of our first Christmas without Mama.


And here is a picture of Charles and I all dolled up for a date. We are standing in the hot-pink foyer. I cannot get a really good photo that shows all of the eclectic art in that tiny room, but there is much more than what you see behind us.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Post: Some Thoughts On Mercy

The first comment Amy Sullivan ever made to me was, "Oh, I think we will like each other." That was pretty hard to resist, so I did not even try. I clicked on over to her blog to see what this woman was about. She is creative, feisty, and seeking God's will for her life. I could not ask for more in a bloggy friend. 

Amy's blog is focused on her family's mission to become more "other centered" and less "self centered". Amy is always letting us know about good causes and great projects to participate in. Since I am always wrestling (at least inwardly) with how to show mercy, I wondered if the Sullivan family's experience in serving others had changed their thoughts on mercy at all. I asked Amy to write about it and she graciously obliged. Please show her the same warmth and love that you always share with me.

***
The beautiful Sullivan Family

The idea of mercy eluded me for years. In my eyes, both giving and receiving mercy were signs of weakness, and I am certainly not weak.

Amy Sullivan, survivor, in control, shiny.

If you are knocked down, get up. If you collapse, get up. If you can’t muster an ounce of strength, too bad, get up.

Does this kind of attitude come from a girl whose lived a charmed life or a girl whose experienced a few too many of life’s horrors?

I’d tell you, but I’m much too shiny.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 14

Welcome back to Second Chance Wednesdays! It is once again time to turn to the People of the Second Chance's poster series, Never Beyond. If you are new to this campaign, you can read more about it and find links to all of my Never Beyond posts here.

***

The Occupy Movement, which started garnering publicity with the Occupy Wall Street protests that started in September, has added some new phrases to our lexicon. Ninety-nine percent used to just be a number. Now, 99% represents a group of people. That means that 1% represents a group of people as well. In this context, "1%" represents the top wage-earners and wealthy people in the United States.

(Read the POTSC blog post on 100% here.)

I have heard and read some passionate arguments from those for and against the Occupy Movement. I have been told that I am part of the 99%, the 1%, the 53%, the 47%, and several other numbers that people have come up with. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Secret Wisdom from the Reading Room

I love books. I love the feel of books. I love the smell of books. I love the noise made when I turn the page. I love seeing all of those words together in one place and knowing that they hold a story. I have to admit, though, that I don't always read all of the books that I buy. Sometimes I just do a dance around a book - knowing that it has knowledge that I need but don't want. We have a little passive-aggressive relationship going on sometimes. Even so, I still love owning the book. I love owning books the way some women love having jewelry. 

Through some practical experience, I have learned that I don't really like sharing books. I'm not sure if I just attract the type of friends that do not return books or if it is an epidemic. Some very precious books have not come back to live in my personal library. I have chosen to keep the people relationships over the book relationships, but there were a few times when the scale almost tipped the other way.

After many years of living in the same house with my father, I have learned not to lay my books down anywhere other than my bedroom (and once or twice that has not even helped). I have learned in just the past few years that laying my books down within in reach of my husband is not a good idea either. Why is that? What happens to these books? 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Desde el Monte... The Culture

Previous installations of Desde el Monte...

***

There are so many interesting facets to Uruguayan culture. I did not learn them all and I do not remember much of what I learned, but let me share a few memories with you.

We were blessed that one of the missionaries living and working with the church in Montevideo, Dan Coker, used to be a professor of Cultural Anthropology before he became a missionary. Our group would begin our day at the church building with a lesson in Uruguayan culture. Dan had put together folders (I still have it but cannot find mine) full of information for us. He taught us things that were culturally interesting and also things that would keep us from getting into sticky situations out in public. For instance, we learned to greet people by kissing them on both cheeks (very European). This took some of the guys in our group by surprise, but they adjusted quickly. I also learned that silently communicating with someone across a big group was going to get harder because the hand sign for "okay" and the "thumbs up" were not acceptable gestures in this society. That means we all smiled and nodded quite a bit.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Preparing For Death?

The dogs decided in the middle of the night that going outside was a necessity. That woke me up to the point that I could not go straight back to sleep. So I have been sitting here at the computer, trying to clean up some email and beat that little alien at Stellar Sweeper, all while listening to an overweight (but totally cute) Chihuahua snore.

Although I did not plan to start this early, I wanted to write something today, just for the sake of writing. I have been banging on keys since I was a tiny tot messing around with my father's manual typewriter; yet, just moving my fingers around and watching words appear in front of me is still fascinating. (I just don't go through reams of typing paper anymore.) I was tossing around thoughts in my head of writing something lighthearted about our Christmas decorations, but in my email was a more serious idea that grabbed hold of me and would not let go.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Five Minute Friday (and a Winner!)

On Fridays around these parts we link up with Lisa-Jo and we stop, drop, and write.

For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.

Won’t you join us?

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Tired…


Go


Wow, I don't know if "tired" was a good  prompt for me. I'm tired, alright, but not tired in a "I've just finished a good job and now I'm worn out" type of way. I'm tired of many things, though. 


I'm tired of all of the pettiness in my family. I'm tired of my husband's boss managing by fear. I'm tired of our children thinking we need to take care of them - well, one child anyway. I'm just tired.

Christmas was always a huge time of celebration for Mama and me. It was our special time. We love decorating together. We loved baking together. We loved singing along with John Denver and the Muppets together. It was awesome.

Now this is my first Christmas without Mama, and the thought of it makes me tired. The thought of more and more years without her makes me tired. Yes, I know I will see her again. Just the waiting makes me tired.

The depression that hounds me makes me tired. I wish that my body chemicals were not so screwed up. Then I might be able to face a day without coaching myself to want to get up and taking medicines. It is tiring to be tired all the time, you know? I'm not sure why this is my particular cross to bear, but it might be a good thing if I am saving somebody else from having to deal with it.

What I know for sure about being tired is that God has promised us rest. I won't be tired forever because He has told me so. And that is something to look forward to.

God's promises... always a good note to end on. 

Stop

As always, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo, the Gypsy Mama, and the rest of the gang for Five Minute Friday. Definitely go check out what other people are saying over there!

***

For the six lovely people who entered the giveaway for a copy of All is Grace by Brennan Manning and John Blase, we have a winner!


Number 4 is Angela Downs! Yea, Angela! Email me your address, Angela, and I will mail you the book!

I enjoy this so much that I think I'm going to have to start searching for the next book to giveaway. Suggestions?


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That No-Good Lyin' Cheatin' Stealin' Son of A...

You read that title and thought that I was mad at Hubby or Daddy again, didn't you? Sorry, but no. I have not affixed those labels to either one of them in at least a few weeks (joke - it has been much longer). However, I have been thinking about where those labels come from. They are not God-given names, for sure. They are cheap imitations. How did I get to a point of letting these types of labels seep into my consciousness? 

My Heavenly Father has names for me. He calls me Beloved, Pretty Girl, and sometimes He calls me Rosebud. My loving husband answers all of my phone calls to him with, "Hey, Beautiful!". Daddy still calls me his Brown-Eyed Whippersnapper. Mama called me Sweetie Pie. These are all names born out of love. They are names that I value and appreciate. But most often, they are not how I think of myself.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Doll and a PSA

So... I was wondering what to write for my post tonight. It has not been a stellar day, but I did not want to write about it not being a stellar day, so...

I still had not figured out what to write when Hubby got home late. So I concentrated on opening the box with my new ragdoll in it. Does she look at all familiar?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Desde el Monte... Prayer (and a poem)

Previous installations of Desde el Monte...

***

What do you do when you are supposed to be helping a church in a country where you do not know the language? I have two answers for that: 1) anything they ask you to do and 2) pray. Sticking to my first answer is how I ended up walking down the street further and further away from the church building with a man who spoke NO English. Sticking to my second answer is how I got through it without being brought down by my fear.

I know that I was given a decent amount of background on Nestor before we left the building, but I only remember a little. Nestor, a native of Uruguay, was a widower with a daughter in elementary school. I do not remember how long he had been a Christian, but I do know that he was training to take over some of the preaching and teaching duties at the church. He really seemed to have a gentle spirit, which is why I somehow let somebody (can't remember who) convince me that I should spend part of my second day out on the streets with him. Nestor and I were going to hand out flyers just like I had with Ronnie and Karen. Just the day before, God had told me that He was sweet on me, so I was ready to do what He needed me to do for this small church congregation. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Grace To Be Had


There is grace to be had today. Grace to be had. He is just waiting for you to accept it. 

And it is raining in Central Texas. Tiny drops of God's love falling all around us. I'm almost ready to make a boat out of scrap wood and send it sailing down the gutter. Wish the grandkids were here so I would not look so odd doing it. 

Praise Him for all His mighty works!


PS. I wanted to remind you that you still have time to enter the Second Official Ragamuffin Giveaway! I am giving away a copy of Brennan Manning's All is Grace. You can find all of the details here. This is Brennan's last book, so you don't want to miss it!


Friday, November 25, 2011

After These Messages...

Yes, we are actually having a commercial break here. Five-minute Friday is taking the holiday weekend off, so I have a little free space. 

First of all, I wanted to remind you that you still have time to enter the Second Official Ragamuffin Giveaway! I am giving away a copy of Brennan Manning's All is Grace. You can find all of the details here. This is Brennan's last book, so you don't want to miss it!

Also, I want to advertise the news that my husband is awesome. We have an ongoing (friendly) battle about whether or not the house should be "company clean" when guests come over. He doesn't think we should have to put out all that effort. My Mama (who was his best friend) taught me that we clean for guests to make them feel special (and so they don't see some of our craziness). It's a Southern hospitality thing. I had pretty much given up on the house being that clean when Melanie came for Thanksgiving dinner. But yesterday morning, before I even got up, my husband wiped, washed, tidied, and vacuumed. Our house (the public parts) looked awesome when Mellie got here. Charles wanted my first Thanksgiving without Mama to be an occasion that would honor her. So I just wanted to take this time to shout far and wide that this sometimes-frustrating man is also an AWESOME husband.

This concludes our commercial interruption of your (hopefully) Friday off. Thank you for your support.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

There and Back Again - Father

When I was a child, I was very shy. I do not recall there being a reason - I was just a little nervous and withdrawn. When I was out in public, I stuck fairly close to my Mom, or some other family member if she was not available. I remember hearing the words "clingy" and "scaredy cat" connected to my name. I hated the labels, but that was not enough to cure me of being bashful.

One Sunday after church, I got separated from Mom and my brother. I could not remember where the car was parked, so I decided that I had better hang on to Dad's hand while we were in the large crowd that had meandered out into the foyer. We stood in one place for a few minutes while Dad talked to some other men. I was not much taller than knee-level on most adults at that point, so the scenery was not great. I was getting tired of counting the buttons on suit coats and I looked up at Dad to ask if we could go. That was when the fear really hit me. This man who held my hand in his was not my Dad. Where was Dad? Why was this man wearing the same suit as Dad? How did I get switched up like that? How was I going to find anyone I recognized?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 13

Make sure you read all the way to the end of the post.

Welcome back to Second Chance Wednesdays! It is once again time to turn to the People of the Second Chance's poster series, Never Beyond. If you are new to this campaign, you can read more about it and find links to all of my Never Beyond posts here.

***

Look at this face:

Could you really be mad at that face? Does Animal really need a second chance? At first, I just want to say no because I love Animal and I love drummers. But then I think, what about all those times he has obnoxiously interrupted a special moment? What about all those times he has acted like, well... an animal?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A New Giveaway!


I've been meaning to get around to this for awhile. It seems it just needed to wait until today. This is the Second Official Ragamuffin Giveaway! Sounds like a big deal, doesn't it? 

It turns out that I ordered a copy of All is Grace by Brennan Manning and John Blase on the day it was released. Then a few weeks later, I actually won a copy of the book in John's giveaway; and of course, that copy is better because John signed it for me. The upshot for one member of our little community here is that I am going to give away the copy of All is Grace that I ordered. Yea!

So of course we need a way for you to enter your name in this little giveaway. To enter to win the book, please leave a comment on this post. If you are one of our "lurkers", we would be pleased to have you introduce yourself. And if any of you would like to add a short joke to your comment (not necessarily a joke about being short), that would inject some fun into the process. Oh, and no matter how many comments you leave, it will just be one entry per person.

The deadline for entry comments will be midnight CST on Wednesday, November 30, 2011. On Thursday, December 1, I will count the number of entries and then using the True Random Number Generator from Random.org, a winner will be chosen.

I think you will really enjoy this book, so comment away!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Captain Kirk to the Rescue!

I always find it fascinating to know which movie lines stick with my friends over time. Many of the people in my age group can quote lines from most of John Hughes' movies. My husband, who is fifteen years older than me, quotes movies that came out before I was born. I have friends who love all of the Muppet movies, some who are into the whole Star Wars saga, and others who really enjoy any old classics they can get to see. 

One of the lines that has always stuck with me comes from a movie genre that I don't usually care for. The quote comes from a Star Trek movie - Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, to be specific. I remember not really wanting to see the movie, but a huge group of my friends was going and they convinced me to go with them. Since I had not seen the previous film, I did not even know why Spock was being searched for. I had to just take the film for what entertainment value it had outside of a continuing story line.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Desde el Monte... The Beauty

Previous installations of Desde el Monte...

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There are times... times when you are supposed to be at home writing. BUT instead you might be at a function with the likes of Hollywood Henderson and Earl Campbell. AND when you come home you get busy watching Dr. Who reruns with your spouse. This is sort of how - okay, EXACTLY how - I have come to time to write another installment of Desde el Monte with nothing even thought out, much less documented. This means you get to see lots of photos today. I'm not the best photographer, but I got one or two shots that will tell you something of the beauty of Montevideo. I think if you click on each photo, it will enlarge so you can actually see some details.

***

First up is a photo of the facade of the church building. The congregation had bought an old building that used to be a coffee factory. The building was named El Chana, after the founder of the coffee company, and the congregation decided to use that name as well.
The yellow banner on the front of the building is advertising the gospel meeting that we were handing out flyers for when we were out on the streets.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Niceties

As I dig through boxes and bags - things I just can't let go of - I often find journals or scraps I have written on to remind me of lovely things that people have done for me or said to me. At some point it would be nice if I could get them all in one place, but getting that organized in the Counterman household is not something I can even imagine happening. I try to console myself that many great thinkers are/were not very organized, but if you ask me for a name, I could not produce one. If I remember correctly, Einstein had a hard time tying his shoes and could get lost walking around the block, but I don't know that his actual organizational skills were lacking. {do any of you know?} I realize that this might make you wonder if we qualify for that show Hoarders, but I can assure you that we are nowhere close to being that bad. We can see all of our floors and although the house is not "company clean" right now, I would not be embarrassed by it if you showed up to visit today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Grow

On Fridays around these parts we stop, drop, and write.

For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Won’t you join us?

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:
Grow…

GO

I remember... it has been eighteen years now, but I hear her voice just like it was yesterday: "Pain is growth and we should be happy about that." I remember smarting off to her that I thought pain was simply pain and nothing more. I got "the look" for that.

I know that God uses pain to teach me, to GROW me, but I am a sissy and I like to tell people that I am allergic to pain. Which makes it awfully hard to grow, I suppose.

There are plenty of opportunities to grow in my life right now. Not that that means I am in constant pain. It just means that there are many things that don't need to stay as they are. There are many things that I know God is telling me to work through to get to what He has for me on the other side. Good thing He plans to be there to walk me through it. I would not dare do this alone.

That reminds me of one of my favorite gospel songs:
Be with me Lord, I cannot live without Thee. I dare not try to take one step alone. I cannot bear the loads of life unaided. I need Thy strength to lean myself upon.
I love that song. Maybe I need to be singing it more through these present growth opportunities.

STOP

So there is my five minutes. Let's go over to the Gypsy Mama's place and see who is linking up over there.