Monthly Archives: April 2010

Speaking of Friends…

My friend Amber wrote a post about the day we spent together a few days/weeks/months (I’ve lost track of time) ago. You can read it here.  God brings just the right people into my life at just the right time. I feel so very blessed to consider Amber my friend. (And through Amber I now also love Ashleigh the Blogless and Sing4Joy Judi!)

Oh, and Amber? When I come to visit you I want to eat at Whimsical, okay?

Someone asked me a few days/weeks/months (I’ve lost track of time) ago if people really called me “Whimzie.”  The friends that I’ve made through this blog call me “Whimzie.”  In fact, they even use that name when they talk to God about me. Just about everyone else calls me “Amy.”A couple of friends from my brief foray into MySpace world call me “Sprocket” because that was my name there. Three kids call me either “Mama” or “Mom.” I’ll answer to any of those names. They all have special meaning to me.

I chose “Whimzie” because CarpoolQueen (I call her “Sus”) told me once that she saw some shoes that reminded her of me because they were whimsical. I thought that was a fun way to be described and so I turned it into a nickname. Because she and what she thinks are special to me, the name “Whimzie” is special to me.

I hope it’s not too late to link to this post, but another blog friend is doing some research. Unless you already know her you can’t answer the first three questions in her post, but I’m sure she’d love to get your input on the fourth question. Click here.

I’d love to stay and chat but right now I need to become good friends with some cleaning products. I need to find the source of the funky smell in my refrigerator. Oh, the glamorous life I live….

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Friendship for Grownups

I vividly remember the day I handed my mom’s hair stylist a picture that I had cut from a magazine and told him that I wanted him to make my hair look just like hers:

“Honey,” he said knowingly, “Lisa Whelchel has a team of people who curl and spray and tease her hair after every scene. Not even Blair has Blair’s hair.”

(Side story that has nothing to do with this book review….Fast forward a decade or so. I laughed as I told my hair stylist about how silly I was to want Blair’s hair back in the day. Then I handed her a picture of a style that I thought would work for me.

The stylist glanced at the picture for a nanosecond then said, “Let me get this straight. You get that I can’t make you look like Blair from Facts of Life, but now you think I can make you look like a 50-year-old black woman?”Well, when she put it like that…)

Well, this weekend I had the opportunity to see Lisa Whelchel way up close and my mom’s hair guy was wrong. Her hair really is that great. I have a picture to show you but apparently the earth came in contact with a sunspot right at the moment this picture was taken because the picture is….well, it’s a little wonky. (It may not be in your dictionary, but “wonky” is just the word to describe this picture.)

Trust me. Her hair looked great and she has beautiful skin. (I wonder if I found out what moisturizer she uses and then started using it if…never mind.)

In the picture, Lisa has just signed my copy of her latest book, Friendship for Grownups, a book that I recently received from BookSneeze. Insert required FTC information here: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One of my all-time favorite TV shows was “Friends.” I felt like Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross were personal friends of mine. But they weren’t. In fact, I was sad that I didn’t have a group of friends like that in my life. I’ve had plenty of friends along the way, but I’ve realized that making and keeping friends after college, the time when I would argue that you need friends the most, becomes increasingly difficult and takes time and effort. We move a lot because of my husband’s job. I know that I need close friendships with other women, but I get tired of having to start over from scratch in a new city with people I don’t know.

Besides, sometimes I like to pretend that I am someone I am not. I’m not necessarily trying to fool anyone except myself. I just sometimes wish I were more of some things and less others. Because of that, I have a hard time letting people up close and personal with the mess that can be my life. I don’t like to ask people for favors or need them for anything. During my dad’s sickness and since his death, I’ve had to swallow my pride and accept help from my friends. They’ve seen me at my worst. I’ve served them unprocessed thoughts as conversation and later wished that I hadn’t been so transparent. But I’ve discovered that I have some friends who stick closer than a brother or sister. They’ve accepted me in my most raw, unfinished state and have loved me in spite of myself. If I hadn’t needed them so desperately this year, I could have easily missed out on seeing what friendship is supposed to look like. I want more of that in my life. That’s why I loved this book.

What I love most about Lisa Whelchel’s book about grownup friendships is the honesty of her writing. I have read two other books that Lisa wrote. While I learned a lot from those books, I didn’t feel that connection with Lisa as a person that I feel with some other writers. I felt like she certainly knew what she was talking about, but I thought that she was way too “together” to be friends with someone like me. Not that I often become friends with the authors of books that I read, but I like the feeling of connection. I certainly connected with the Lisa Whelchel who wrote this book. No, I don’t think we’re BFFs because I read her book, but I feel like I know her heart a little better. Her vulnerability is so prevalent throughout this book that at times my heart truly hurt for hers as she chronicled her struggle to learn how to be a friend and to receive friendship. I think women are most beautiful and attractive when they are vulnerable and honest.

For me, this book was not only a primer about friendship, it also led me to think a lot about my friendship with God as mirrored by my relationships with others. I’ve been thinking a lot about grace and how I receive it. From this book I learned how to choose a safe friend, but maybe more importantly, I was confronted with the idea that maybe I have not been the friend to others that I truly want to be. I’m not sure that I have always been a safe friend, but now that I know better I can do better.

Another thing that I love about this book is that in the appendices, Lisa offers questions for each chapter that helped me to think through what I had just read. She also gives very practical and doable applications that relate to the information she shared in each chapter. I enjoyed the list of conversation starter questions she includes as well. I like it when a book pushes me past assimilating thoughts and into working out those ideas in my daily life.

I think this would be a great book to read and discuss with a trusted friend. Having a true friend with whom you can completely be yourself and share your life makes each day a little richer and is certainly worth the effort.

Thank you, BookSneeze, for the opportunity to review this book. Most of all, thank you, Lisa, for writing such an honest book about friendship.



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I Am Not the Biggest Loser

Whew! That was fun! I’m still unpacking my suitcase and my memories from one of the best girls’ weekends ever! I’ve tried eleventy hundred times to think of a way to write a paragraph or two that would fill you in and do it justice, but I delete it every time. Maybe when I’m a little more rested I’ll try again. I took my camera, but would you believe I didn’t take pictures? I was too busy having fun! Albany was the most gracious hostess ever and treated us like royalty.

I ate good food (who knew Philadelphia had good barbecue?!), met amazing people, played with makeup, and shopped a little. On the way home, I made a new friend on the plane (are you there, Paula? 🙂 ), finally finished a book that I’ve been trying to get through for several weeks, and even started a fluffy, I-probably-won’t-learn-anything-from-this-experience one.

I hit the ground running when I got back home. I thought this was an empty week. I was wrong. We have something every day and every night. But it’s all good stuff and I get to spend time with family and friends while I’m doing it, so I can’t complain.  I am sad that I’m behind on email and my favorite blogs, but I’ll catch up eventually.

I have to get ready to fill in for my son’s kindergarten teacher (better take a vitamin or two), but I wanted to tell you quickly about something that happened today. I’ve shared with you that God’s really been dealing with my heart about my pride and my desire to be important? Well, the neatest thing happened today.  I found out that I’m a loser. Confused? Well, last week, I “put myself out there”  and entered a piece of my work into a writing competition. The prize was a scholarship to a writer’s conference later this year. I had turned down an opportunity to participate in an earlier competition, but I really felt in my heart of hearts that I was supposed to enter this one. Submitting a piece of writing to be judged by others makes me feel exposed and vulnerable, so I don’t usually do it. But I really felt like the timing was right and I had an article that I felt met the guidelines, so I took a deep breath and sent it.

And I didn’t win.

I didn’t even win an honorable mention. Or even a “thanks for playing.”

But guess what? I’m perfectly okay with that.

A month or so ago,  I wouldn’t have entered the competition in the first place. If for some reason I had entered and then  didn’t win? Well, I’d have felt like a big, fat failure. I would have seen the judges’ choice as validation of my heartfelt fear that I should never write another word. I would have taken the judges’ decision very personally and it would have ruined my day.

Sure, I would have liked to have won. Who doesn’t like to be rewarded?  But I can honestly say that my gut reaction surprised even me. Before I read the blog post announcing the winners, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was thanking God for an absolutely beautiful spring day. After I read the post? The sun’s still shining, the birds are singing, and I’m thanking God for an absolutely beautiful spring day.

I struggle with who I am every single day. I need to be reminded of how God sees me sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. I constantly battle my desire to be loved by everyone. I didn’t tell you this story because I want you to think I’ve arrived anywhere because I’m a mess–a work in progress. But I’m a beautiful mess because God loves me and is making me into the person He wants me to be. Today, I’m participating in the process and I’m letting Him…and it feels good. I just wanted you to celebrate this little victory with me. He is faithful to do what He said He will do. And I PROMISE YOU, that He wants to do the same for you. Just let Him.

ENJOY YOUR WEDNESDAY!!

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Leaving On a Jet Plane…Sunday’s When I’ll Be Back Again

I don’t have time to be writing right now. I haven’t even packed! I know, I know, I know! I do this every time. I intend to be with it and organized and ready to go before the minute I have to walk out the door but then I remember I’m not like that. I’m last minute, rushing around, and chaotic.  If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space, baby.

I’m off to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! Remember my sister/cousin/ friend Albany? The one who works for QVC? Well, she invited her mom, my mom, and me up for a fun Girls’ Weekend. Hopefully I’ll come back with an updated picture. Not that there’s anything comical about the giant pinwheel picture. Nothing at all.

Knowing Albany, her mom, my mom and myself like I do, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of fun stories to tell when I get back. If not, I’ll make some up.

Have a great weekend!!

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A Gladnesday Wednesday Full of Sharing

Has the weather where you are been as gorgeous as the weather where I am? That would be hard to answer if you are unfamiliar with the magnitude of gorgeousness where I am, so let me just tell you, it has been beautiful here!! I live in the part of the South where we usually go straight from winter to crispy-fried, sticky, tropical summer. But this year we’re having a real spring with gentle breezes and birds chirping in the trees, and temperatures in the 70s. I’ve been driving around with the windows down and yesterday I stopped myself right before I stuck my head completely out of the window to let my ears flop in the breeze like a basset hound on a Sunday drive.

The kids have standardized testing this week which means they don’t have homework so we’ve spent every afternoon outside soaking up the sunshiney bliss of this weather. I didn’t realize my moods were as weather-dependent as they apparently are, but I’ve found it hard to be in a bad mood when it’s as beautiful as it has been.

That’s why I decided today would be a great day to play The Glad Game that my friend Gretchen likes to play.

And because I’m feeling so springalistically happy (what? that’s not a word?), I tried to include some Gladitudes that would make you glad, too. Like…

1. Dave Barnes’s new CD, aka Whimzie’s Spring Sounddtrack.

You’re familiar with Dave Barnes, right? If you aren’t, you’re missing out on some delicious ear candy. His voice is like smoked honey. I’ve never met a Dave Barnes song that I didn’t like. I think my favorite one on his new CD is “Little Lies.” If you go to his website using the link I gave you in the first sentence of this paragraph, you can hear it for yourself. Warning: This song is an ear worm. I’ve been “La-La-La-La-La-La-La-La-These-Little-Lying” for a solid week now. You can buy the CD at his website or it’s available on iTunes. Check out his older CDs, too.

2. Remember when I told you about Jon Acuff’s book, Stuff Christians Like?

Well, this month you can download the audiobook for free at christianaudio.com.  I always prefer owning an actual book to having someone read aloud to me but I downloaded it because the book is read by Jon and I wondered if he really sounded like he does in my head. Do you do that? Imagine an author’s voice as you read? Well, I do, and I was surprised at how much he sounded like the voice I’d imagined for him.

3. In the same online store, you can download Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle for free when you add it to your cart here and then use the coupon code TREPRIN10 at checkout. This offer is only good until April 16th. I found this offer at http://www.moneysavingmom.com, a great site to find coupons and special deals…like the one I just shared with you!

4. This one is not something you can share with me, but I’m very glad that I get to go on a girls’ trip with my mom. We’re leaving tomorrow and we’re flying away for the weekend. I love to fly. I don’t get to travel by plane very often. I try to act bored so people won’t know just how excited I am about the Coke and Biscoff cookies. And the chance to read a book uninterrupted without feeling guilty that I’m not changing the sheets or cleaning the bathroom. I’ll tell you more about my trip when I get back.

5. I’m glad the girls had pedicures yesterday. My daughter, my mom, and I splurged on some toe treatment yesterday. I didn’t have my first pedicure until about 4 or 5 years ago and I’ve only had two since then so this isn’t a regular occurrence for me. But since it’s open-toed shoe season and Mom and I are headed off for our girls’ weekend, we decided to treat ourselves yesterday and let my daughter get in on the fun, too. As I told the Tweeps yesterday, “Train up a child in the way she should go…” An unexpected benefit and probably more than you want to know, but I think I lost 3 pounds in the process when they scraped all the dead, winter skin off the bottoms of my feet!  I had a cute picture of all three of us showing off our fancy toes, but my computer ate it.

I have lots to do to get ready for my big adventure so I need to go. I hope you have a long list of things to be glad about today! Thanks, Gretchen, for reminding me to consciously focus on all the blessings of every day!

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Hello, My Name is Whimzie…..And I Want to Be Obedient

Sometimes it’s easier to keep stuff to myself. If I don’t tell anyone, I don’t have to be accountable for anything I say that I may want to take back later. This post has been a little like that for me. Forgive my indulgence, but this post is for me. I want it here in this online journal so I can come back to it when I’ve drifted off course.

Yes, I’m Whimzie and I always wanted to be famous, and then I became a “super Christian” (she said with her tongue firmly in her cheek) and decided I wanted to be famous for the  big and important things I do for God. It’s really the same thing, just spelled a little different and perhaps it sounds a little more altruistic.

I’ve sung every verse of “Here Am I, Lord, Send Me.” I’ve wondered if I should surrender to full-time ministry or volunteer to be a missionary. But mostly I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for my real life to begin, knowing my big chance was just around the next corner.

I’ve already shared with you that one of the ideas from Me, Myself, and Bob (by Phil Vischer) that impacted me was that our dreams can become more important to us than God. I confess at times that has been the case for me. But there were other things that Phil Vischer shared that struck a chord with me as well.

The colorful, italicized parts are direct quotes from Me, Myself, and Bob:

“C.S. Lewis said, ‘He who has God plus many things has nothing more than He who has God alone.’… Beware of your dreams, for dreams make dangerous friends…..Why? Because God is enough….even without our dreams. Without the better life, the healthy child, the happy marriage, the rewarding work.

I’ve needed time to think about that quote and its implications. God plus nothing. That’s all I need. This year most of the things I hold dear have either been removed from my life or altered in some way. Certainly it has been extremely painful. But more than ever, I know God is enough. Anything else He adds to my life is just an extra blessing.

“God doesn’t love me because of what I can do for Him. He just loves me—even when I’ve done nothing at all. (‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:8)….. He loves you not because of what you can do, or even because of what you can do if you work really, really hard. He loves you because He made you. He loves you just the way you are. He loves you even when you aren’t doing anything at all.”

For a first-born, people pleaser, this is huge. I know I wasn’t saved because of my works, but somehow after I became a Christian, I lived as though my worth to God was measured by what I accomplished for Him. When I did good things, God was happy with me. When I did bad things, God didn’t love me as much. That’s simply not true. I can do nothing to make God love me any more or any less than He does.

When it is time to do something for God, and that time will come quickly if you’re listening, don’t worry about the outcome….That’s His job. Your responsibility is simply to do what He asks.

And for me, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s about obedience. I Samuel 15:22 says to obey is better than sacrifice. God is not as interested in what I give up for Him or even what I do in His name. He’s most interested in my daily obedience.

When Martha was all about “the doing,” Jesus reminded her what she needed was Him. He wanted to spend time with her.

I have not done an exhaustive study, but I tried to think of one person in the Bible who set out to do great things for God. Instead I found people who were busy  being obedient on a daily basis, but living what seemed like ordinary lives. God hand-delivered Noah the blueprint for a big boat. Moses came across a burning bush in the dessert. David was a shepherd boy. Mary was a teenager. Paul was struck blind on the road to Damascus. Jesus called the disciples to follow him from their workplaces. They didn’t go searching for something big to do for God. He met them where they were living their everyday lives.

God has given each of us unique talents and abilities. I don’t think he means for us to waste them. I think he wants us to do our part to be the best at whatever He’s given us to do. But instead of looking for my “big thing,” I want to be obedient in the things I already know He’s called me to do. For me, that means my family has to be a priority. I know God has called me to be a wife and mother.  That is my main job.

I also love to write. And the more I write, the more I want to write. I just want to be careful my passion doesn’t become my purpose.  It’s not that God doesn’t want us to do fun things. I just think He wants to be more important to us than the stuff we get to do for Him.

I will work at being the best writer that I can be, (in fact, I’m praying about an opportunity to attend the SheSpeaks conference this summer.) but I’ve stopped looking for my big break. I may need to come back and remember this night on days when I’m feeling a little restless, but I can honestly say today I’m perfectly content. Even if no one made it through all 1000+ words of this post or even understands a single word of it. God read it and He knows my heart.

I Wonder (by Ruth Harms Calkin)

You know, Lord, how I serve You
With great emotional fervor
In the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for You
At a women’s club.
You know how I effervesce when I promote
A fellowship group.
You know my genuine enthusiasm
At a Bible study.

But how would I react, I wonder,
If You pointed to a basin of water
And asked me to wash the callused feet
Of a bent and wrinkled old woman
Day after day,
Month after month,
In a room where nobody saw
And nobody knew?

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10 on the 10th: Random Stories With Pictorial Accompaniment Edition

I always want to participate in Mer’s monthly 10 on the 10th Carnival, but every month the 10th day sneaks up on me. Not today!  Well, actually it did sneak up on me again because I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post today, but I really hate to miss a good party. My lack of preparedness will be evident when you read this post of Random Stories with Pictorial Accompaniment.

1. So guess who I saw in the mall parking lot yesterday?

That’s the question and picture I asked my friends on Twitter and the responses were funnier than the event itself. Mer said:

Nope, Mer. That isn’t Trace Adkins, but thanks for playing!

Gretchen tweeted that she didn’t know who he was either but that she liked my necklace. Thanks, Gretchen! My mom made it for me!

So who is he? Why, he’s Billy the Exterminator! He’s been featured on the TV show Dirty Jobs and now his own show on A&E!  I’ve never seen it, but apparently lots of people like it. My uncle does, which is why I posed for a picture with Billy. He was extremely gracious. So much so that I’ve TiVo’d an episode of his show. Who knows? I may become one of his newest fans!

2. We gave the kids Bibles with their names on them for Easter. Someone may be vying for Vanna’s job when she decides to quit turning letters. Or perhaps she’s auditioning to be an Old Navy mannequin.

3. This kid’s art teacher submitted a piece of his work to an area-wide wildlife art competition:

This was his first time to enter anything into a contest.

And he won 2nd place in his age division! His work was on display at a museum and then at Bass Pro Shop. We’re so proud!!

Yep. Some of us crossed right over from proud into something I’m not quite sure how to describe!

4. While we were at the Bass Pro Shop, we had to look out for snakes….:

5.  …..and for alligators.

6. Uh, oh. Looks like we waited too late to call Billy the Exterminator to help these two:

7. This kid is keeping the tooth fairy in business:

8. Speaking of that kid, I’m so glad we have other boys close to his age in our little neighborhood circle. For some reason, everywhere else we’ve lived he’s been the odd man out. The kids his age are always girls (which worked well for his sister) and the boys are always younger or older (which worked well for his brother).  Here, we have kids just his size.  On second thought, I hope he’s not running with a motley crew. This group looks dangerous.

9.  When he’s not flashing AWANA gang signs with his friends or pulling out his teeth, that kid can be found helping his dad build stuff on the weekends. Today they put together a coat rack:

Here they are with the finished product:

10. The kid I was telling you about who won a prize in the art competition? Well, he’s on another weekend retreat with a group from church. I’m not as freaked out this time as I was in the fall, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about him every minute since he left yesterday.  Several of my friends went to be chaperones this time and one of my friends just texted me a couple of pictures.

He’s fearless, that one! Can’t wait to hear all of his fun stories tomorrow evening.

Speaking of tomorrow evening, it has taken me so long to download the pictures for this post that I’m surprised we aren’t there yet. Thanks for stopping by. I still have one more thing I want to write about Me, Myself, and Bob. I want to see how many posts I can write that include Phil Vischer’s name before he issues an actual restraining order. Nah, I’m kidding. Truly, I want to write out the truths I learned so that I can come back and read them when I start living like I’ve forgotten. So it’s really a post for my own benefit, but you’re welcome to come back and read it if you want. You’re welcome at my fire anytime. (Friends for life if you can identify the source of that quote!)

Thanks, Mer, for hosting another 10 on the 10th!!

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