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...

***

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.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

There and Back Again - Grab Bag

Things are not as they should be with me. Things are not as they should be in my marriage. Things are not as they should be in my family. I am worn down from it all and filled with sorrow. Below is what I prepared last night, but I am adding this beginning paragraph this morning in order to tell you that I covet your prayers. I would beg for them if I had the energy. Big or small - any prayer would be greatly appreciated. And please still go and visit the bloggers I've listed in this post. I think you will like them.

***

I am under the weather and without much energy. I almost cried at the thought of having to write a post, which is odd for me. But I so did not want to miss out on "There and Back Again". So instead of writing coherently about the blog posts of others, I am simply going to direct you to those blog posts.

***

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 12

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.

***

So let's jump in. This week we have for your viewing pleasure Joe Paterno, formerly the head coach of the Penn State football team and more recently an out-of-work old guy who has been accused of following the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law when it comes to protecting children from pedophiles, specifically an alleged pedophile that worked for Coach Paterno.


There are others involved in the scandal alleging that several people covered up the child-molesting activities of one of the Penn State assistant coaches. However, Paterno is the most famous of all involved and therefore has become the face of the matter. Being the poster child (or poster grandfather) for bad decisions is never the way one wants to be remembered, but it looks as if that will be a large part of Joe Paterno's legacy. The administration at Penn State has already decided that Joe will not be getting a second chance to be a leader at their university.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Prayer

I humbly confess that I am often perplexed by the problems of life. 
Sometimes I do not seem to know which way to turn next. 
I pray Thee, therefore, to enlighten me by Thy Holy Spirit 
that I may recognize what is Thy will in every situation; 
give me the courage to decide every issue accordingly 
and to leave the final outcome to Thy direction.
From the prayer "For the Grace to Make the Right Decisions", 
My Prayer Book, Concordia Publising, 1957

I bought the prayer book for one dollar at Martha's garage sale. It had belonged to her late husband. I did not need it, but I really wanted to buy something just to encourage Martha, who was going through hard times. Indeed, months later Martha thanked me for driving Mama all that way to be at the garage sale and for buying a few things. I had put the book in a little basket that is next to my bed and rarely thought of it. I did not read anything in it until today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Desde el Monte... The Streets

Previous installations of Desde el Monte...

***

There is so much that I could write about the time I spent with my fellow missionaries out amongst the citizens of Montevideo. This first story from the streets was very powerful for me. I doubt I can convey in words how much I felt the presence of Jesus that day, but I am going to give it a try. What happened really set the tone for how I approached the people Uruguay on the rest of that journey.

One of the main tasks that had been asked of our mission group was to publicize a Gospel Meeting that would happen at the church towards the end of our stay. "Publicizing" in Montevideo often means walking the streets and handing out flyers. The sidewalks on the main streets of that city are wide and full of pedestrians and street vendors. People there walk much more than in any city in Texas, but I imagine it is similar to places like New York City. Handing out flyers is a very typical means of getting a message out, and it seems as the citizens at least glance at the flyers to see if they are interested before carpeting the sidewalk with papers. The people who are handing out flyers will trade the flyers with each other. All in all, its a LOT of flyers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Unexpected

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 writewithout 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:

Unexpected…



GO

I'm really wary right now of any word with "expect" in it. Evidently, I have disappointed some of my friends because I have done the unexpected. But what was so truly unexpected?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

There and Back Again - Unfinished

It's late in the day to be starting a blog post. I have not felt well and each time I have thought of writing, something in me just recoils. I don't know if I am experiencing rebelliousness or my attitude problems about other things are creeping into my writing. I would have just let it go, but I keep remembering that I had already started the process for There and Back Again, and if I did not write, it would be one more thing unfinished.

I might as well confess: I am royalty amongst The Unfinishers. There is so much that is unfinished in my life. Without even spending much time to inventory, I can think of these unfinished things:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 11

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.

This week's poster is going to be challenging for some people. POTSC decided that we should have a conversation about giving Osama bin Laden a second chance. Obviously, since he is dead, the conversation is more of a metaphor than a reality. But it brings up an interesting question. Many of bin Laden's compatriots are still alive and free. How would we treat any of them?


Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't Whup Me With Your Bible Belt

I would like to say at the outset that this post is probably going nowhere good and at an alarmingly fast rate. I will blame a few people during the course of it and they can call me out for a showdown if'n it will make them feel better. I realize that some of y'all don't cotton to these types of blog posts, so you can just move along. If you haven't yet figured out how to navigate away from an objectionable web page, then you might deserve this. (wink, wink)

***

The first two blame-ees are Jennifer and masked man who goes by the name of Radical Believer (or RB for short). It could very well be that we would not be here having this experience if these two had not crossed my path at about the same time today. And when I say "crossed my path" I do mean on Facebook (or FB for short). You should know by now that it is not in style to actually see people face-to-face these days. 

Many of you might know Jennifer from her blog "Getting Down With Jesus" (which you would think would mean that we have some video of her boogie moves, but alas, I have not seen any). She is also a Contributing Editor at The High Calling. There's also something about Iowa and corn going on in her life, if memory serves.

Now, RB - he may or may not be known to y'all. Depends on what patch of internet real estate you've been hanging out on, I suppose. He has a blog called "Grappling With Grace". You see, "grappling" is not a word that I hear all that often, unless it is followed by the word "hook". However, RB kindly gives us a definition of the word "grappling" in the header of his blog. It means "wrestling" or "coming to terms with". On a day like today, I can't make it much farther than the word "wrestling". And though it is a true story that I was once a body guard at a pro wrestling event (even met Lou Albano), what I first think about when I think of wrestling is this:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Desde el Monte... Joy Bus

Previous installations of Desde el Monte...

***

The same year I went to Uruguay, one of my favorite movies, Armageddon, came out. In one scene, geologist-turned-astronaut Oscar (played by Owen Wilson) is trying to explain his feelings pre-blastoff. He tells his friend, 
I got that "excited/scared" feeling. Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it's more - It could be two - it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that's what makes it so intense, it's so - confused. I can't really figure it out.
That could basically describe how I felt by the time our plane landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a layover. We had a large group and everyone was excited and chattering. Sometime just either in Dallas or Buenos Aires I was recognized by a member of the Abilene Christian University choral group, His Singers. It turns out that Wade Spaulding and I had attended the same church when we were younger. He is about 6 or 7 years younger than I am, but he recognized me and renewed our acquaintance. Wade also introduced me to his beautiful fiance, Molly. I felt that was a nudge from God saying, "Hey, it's not going to be that bad."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Little Thought

The question was asked, though not of me. I read of it later. I added a short reply, but then just let the thought scurry away into the back of my mind. I did not realize that I would continue to hear the scurrying sounds – and the digging, too. What could that thought have found in the recesses of my consciousness that was worth prying out of the sticky mess?

Little Thought, please stop digging. You are going to dredge up questions that I do not want to answer.

Weeks pass. I hear the tiny sounds but ignore them. Bah! It’s just background noise.

A question is asked directly of me. “Why would you want this?” Oh! I did not know that it would cause a problem. Maybe I should rethink it all.  But isn’t some thinking already going on back there? Why do I still hear scurrying?

Little Thought, please be careful. If you pull out the wrong question, you could cause an avalanche.

Then comes another query. “Are you sure this is what you think it is?” No. No, if you ask me if I am sure then I am automatically unsure. I thought you knew that. What is that noise?!?

Little Thought, please stop bothering the memories. They were being quiet and orderly before you got here.

An answer comes. “You might not be able to do this.” I am lacking, it seems, in some important ways. Or is that just an opinion? It seems awfully loud in here all of the sudden.

Little Thought! No!

Now you have done it! You pulled all of those questions down on top of all of those memories and woke them all up.

Little Thought, you don’t understand how terrible this will be…

Here comes that question – the question that rips me up to the point that I end up lying on the floor, crying so hard that I can barely breathe, and begging God for answers.

Little Thought, you woke up Why. You should never, ever wake up Why.

Why has so many questions that I cannot answer. Why dares to ask God questions that I would never voice on my own.

Why? Why do You make me look like These but feel like Those? Why must I always be in the middle between the two? And Why do You let me dream like Them when I possess none of what dreams are made of? Why can I not be satisfied being the Least of These? Why must I want to be the Most in some way? Why is it not enough for me that I tremble in Your presence? Why must I want to share in Your glory somehow? Why am I not satisfied to let others paint rainbows while I sit here in darkness? Why can’t I paint anything at all?

Oh, Little Thought, we’ve really done it now. He’s so angry that He is not even going to answer, is He?

I will need to get up off the floor at some point. I’ll need to wash the tear tracks off my face.  I will need to separate the questions from the memories and put them back in their nice, neat stacks.

Little Thought, please don’t leave me. I might need some company tonight.

Do I hear scurrying again?





Friday, November 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Remember

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 writewithout 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:

Remember…



GO

Mama, I remember your scent. You always wore Avon Cotillion perfume (except when David was around, because he bought you that Chanel #5). 

I remember you "drawing" pictures on my back with your finger. It tickled. Sometimes I could guess what you were drawing. Sometimes I couldn't. But it was so fun being close to you.

I remember within the last few years, you started to show your emotions more - good and bad. You would stand behind Daddy and pretend to wring his neck when he would be talking about a harebrained idea or volunteering you for some project you didn't want to do. It looked so funny to see our calm, placid Mama show frustration for the first time.

I remember how you would catch us off guard with jokes. You told them so infrequently and could do so with a straight face. You could get us with the punchline every time because it was so unexpected.

I remember that rolled up mattress that used to be beneath my bed. The thunder and lightening would come and either me or David would come get you. You would pull out that rolled up mattress and lay on it with us so that we would feel safe while the house shook.

I remember so many Valentines Days when you would put a heart-shaped sandwich in my lunchbox. It was always those special little touches that set you apart.

Mama, I remember. I always will.

STOP


Okay, now let's go over to Lisa-Jo's place and see what other people are remembering.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

There and Back Again - Grief

I want to draw a picture for you. I want to show you what this hole in my life looks like. It is similar to the astronomical phenomenon of a black hole. It threatens to pull everything around it into its total darkness.

I want to find a way for you to hear what I hear. The rushing wind that seems to come from behind me. It pushes me towards this black hole. Shhh... can you hear it? It whistles a lonesome noise as if it has been devoid of companionable solace forever. 

I want to grab your hand. I want to ask you to form a human chain holding hands. Grab hold of something solid and hold on so that you can keep me from being forced by this tempest into the dark nothingness.

I want you to know of my fear. This fear that is so strong it brings on physical reactions - near to fainting sometimes. What I fear is that if I get pushed into this blackness there will not be any way back.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Second Chance Wednesdays - Part 10

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.

Our villain this week is the dictator Kim Jong Il, the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).


According to the POTSC blog, "He has been in power for 13 years, and his time has been marked by nationalized manipulation, repression, isolation, and starvation. North Korea is perhaps the most isolated country on Earth; knowledge of the regime relies heavily on secondhand testimony and clandestine video." 

Kim Jong-Il's government has admitted to developing nuclear weapons and conducting underground nuclear tests. They think they need to do this for their own protection. They like to rattle swords at South Korea and the United States to keep us on our toes. Evidently, we aren't on the friendliest of terms with North Korea.

***