Grocery Grace

Posted on November 4, 2013

At many grocery stores in America, there are a multitude of lines in which you can check out and pay for your items. A few of those lines are the “speedy lanes”. You may only use those lanes if you are buying less than the prescribed amount of items. The sign above the lane usually says “15 item limit” or “10 items or fewer” or “20 items or less”. Have you ever gotten in one of those lines before actually counting your items ...

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To make Halloween more fun … require dancing

Posted on November 2, 2013

This tip for Halloween will have to be stored in your memory for next year. When handing out candy to children who are trick-or-treating, tell them they must dance before they get the sweets. Their reactions are hilarious! My husband had this bright idea, and he pulled out his iphone to play some bouncy music as the kids approached. We stood outside to make sure the kids did not pass by our house because we had a LOT of candy to pass ...

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Salad or Candy?

Posted on October 31, 2013

If given the choice – salad or candy – is there really a decision to be made? I mean, really. I despise salad. All vegetables are gross. And salad is just a bunch of vegetables piled upon each other. My parents used to make me eat vegetables at dinner. Corn was okay. So were potatoes. But broccoli, carrots, spinach, and the rest? Yuck! I complained so much that my dad relented and said, “You may pick one vegetable that you like the ...

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Things to do in Houston: Cockrell Butterfly Center

Posted on October 27, 2013

FernGully was released when I was six years old, and I loved that magical animated movie about fairies who lived in the rainforest. Memories of that movie were brought to mind yesterday as I strolled through Houston’s Cockrell Butterfly Center. Sure, butterflies are not fairies. But visiting the 3-story glass structure and 50-foot waterfall with fluttering butterflies all around is a magical experience. It’s a little slice of the rain ...

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Buying a car with cash

Posted on October 22, 2013

I bought a car this week with cash. And it feels really good. I hesitated to write about this, because I don’t mean to brag. In fact, I bought the car five days ago and have been debating with myself about blogging or not. Please don’t think I’m trying to show off. All I want to do is share why I think saving up and buying a car with cash is better than financing a vehicle. Here are my reasons: 1 – The borrower is slave to ...

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“Secrets of Portlandia” Free Walking Tour – what fun!

Posted on October 19, 2013

Walking tours are a fun way to become acquainted with a city. I’ve been on tours in places such as San Francisco, California and Sienna, Italy and now … Portland, Oregon. I found the “Secrets of Portlandia” free walking tour through Trip Advisor. It is currently ranked #2 of 297 activities in Portland! I was impressed that a walking tour was rated so highly. I figured the guide must be entertaining. And he was! There are so many ...

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Salt & Straw – Delicious Ice Cream in Portland

Posted on October 14, 2013

I like sweets. I eat a lot of them. I have been to a lot of dessert restaurants. Hands down the best ice cream shop I have ever been to is in Portland, Oregon. It’s called Salt & Straw. After dinner at Bamboo Sushi on NW 23rd Avenue my husband and I walked next door to one of the three Salt & Straw locations. It was 10 pm on a night where everyone was wearing jackets, and yet the line at this ice cream shop was long. The friendly ...

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Portland Marathon and Half Marathon

Posted on October 13, 2013

(That's Jason in his last mile of the marathon ... being friendly to the spectators.)Last Sunday I ran the Portland Half Marathon. My husband ran the full thing. It was tough training for a race in the muggy heat of Houston. I didn’t train enough to do my best, but I got through it in 1 hour and 51 minutes. That’s about an 8:15 pace. I got 10th place in my division of women ages 25-29 (there were 137 participants). But I didn’t think about ...

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Printing a personal business card for the first time

Posted on October 3, 2013

I’ve never had a business card before. The jobs I’ve held have never printed one for me. But I’m now at a point in life where people are constantly giving me their cards and I wanted something to hand to them as well. I researched for several hours about where to buy these cards and what to put on them. My objective: Not spend a lot of money. But get a card that still look nice. I narrowed it down to two websites. But then I couldn...

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Encouraging your husband

Posted on October 1, 2013

This is the kind of wife I want to be ... Nathaniel Hawthorne lost his job at a customhouse and went home to break the news to his wife, Sophia. Rather than the reaction he expected, she was joyous. "Now you can write your book," she told him. Unconvinced, Hawthorne asked her, "And what shall we live on while I am writing it?" Sophia opened a drawer that contained a substantial amount of money and told him, "I have always known that ...

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Gruene – A Texas Weekend Trip Idea

Posted on September 30, 2013

On the edge of New Braunfels is a fun little town called Gruene. Locals pronounce it Green. Only a 2.5 hour drive from Houston and 45 minute drive from Austin, this old-town-country, tourist-friendly spot is a great weekend getaway. German farmers settled the area in the 1840s. The area is advertised as being bona fide Texas. My sister-in-law’s maid-of-honor reserved a cottage for us girls to enjoy a relaxing few days together before Sarah ...

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Becoming Generous … My sermon at Heights Church

Posted on September 29, 2013

Too little guilt, and too much guilt. Overindulgent, and Austere. I go back and forth between these two. There is a space somewhere in the middle that I am searching for. I tend towards the overindulgence side, and so I ask God for conviction, but I also do not want to become legalistic. The key is to love and enjoy God above all things. To thank God for the pleasures in life. And to be open-handed towards others. I’m still working on ...

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What is enough? – My struggle with wanting

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was born into a respectable middle-class family in America. As she played with her barbie dolls and ran throughout the house in her princess costume, everyday she could see a bumper sticker sitting on her dad's bookshelf which read, "He who dies with the most toys, wins." Her dad thought it was humorous. That little girl grew and was taught good things about life - like how to succeed in school ...

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My favorite place to study and work

Posted on September 24, 2013

Panera Bread warms my heart. From town to town, it has been my favorite place to study and work. What I love about it: Free coffee refills Free wifi Iced sugar cookies and cinnamon crunch bagels Creamy tomato soup and Black bean soup Outlets to plug in my devices MyPanera membership periodically giving free food items A relaxed atmosphere Pretty decor The employees at Panera Bread do not rush you out. There are ...

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Consolidate email addresses

Posted on September 23, 2013

Juggling multiple email inboxes is unnecessarily complicated. For the past three years I have handled three different email addresses. And now that I’ve created this website and blog, I have yet another matching email address. Enough is enough! WHY I HAVE SO MANY One address is from my high school days (hotmail account). I added another address during college so that when I signed up for newsletters or business promotions, they all went to ...

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Idea Camp – Human Care

Posted on September 22, 2013

I spent the weekend at Idea Camp in Austin, Texas. I was not sure what I was getting into by attending this conference-but-not-a-conference event. I just knew there would be a lot of people who work in nonprofits and ministries that do social justice service in the world. I knew by going I would be inspired by them and maybe gain an idea or two. It’s called Idea Camp, yes? I need a few more days to process what I heard and figure out which ...

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What I eat for breakfast

Posted on September 19, 2013

I’m a sucker for breakfast food. I wish I could eat it at every meal. When on vacation, I love finding the best local breakfast restaurant. Breakfast food makes me so happy that I sometimes become one of those people who take pictures of their plate to share with friends and family. (My brothers make fun of me for this.) Why do I love it so? I've thought about this long and hard. I think it’s because a lot of breakfast foods are ...

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I have Financial Peace

Posted on September 19, 2013

I believe Financial Peace University is one of the most important classes a church should offer to its congregation. It’s a nine-week video series taught by financial expert Dave Ramsey. He helps people set a budget, learn how to communicate about money with family, select insurance, investments, and more. Of course, teaching your people the good news about Jesus is the most important thing. And we do that every Sunday. But at some point ...

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Religious freedom is important to Baptists?

Posted on September 18, 2013

Baptists care about religious freedom for everyone. I had a conversation with someone who was surprised to hear me say that. This person I was talking to goes to a Baptist church. But that’s something he has never heard. Rather, he grew up in a community where the Christians were more likely to insist on “Putting God back in schools” and “Getting back to our American Christian roots.” When the Baptist denomination first came into ...

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Lessons from a monastery: Part III… life of integrity

Posted on September 15, 2013

The monastic way showed me that a life of integrity flows from a consistency of character. Our “doing” proceeds from our “being.” Our world values achievement. It values a person’s doing. And I want to be valued. So I usually try to do a lot. But if I think about it, the people who ‘do’ best – the ones that I want to emulate – are people who are good at ‘being.’ And I think that is probably the case because you do things ...

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Lessons from a monastery: Part II… counter-cultural life

The monastic way gave me living examples that it is possible to live counter-culturally through an abandonment of society’s values and a yearning for the spiritual life. In this world, where ...

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Lessons from a monastery: Part I… one’s life can become a prayer

Posted on September 13, 2013

The monastic way taught me that one’s very life can become a prayer. In most American Christian homes, children are taught to pray by beginning with “Dear Heavenly Father.” Then they talk to God for a few minutes, maybe to ask for something they need and to thank God for something they have. They are told to finish by saying, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” And the prayer is then over. Many of the adult Christians I know have this same ...

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Lessons from a monastery: Introduction

Posted on September 13, 2013

The valley is silent, except for my feet, which are crunching the dirt underneath. I walk up the road. Red marbled rock cliffs tower to the right and to the left, just beyond the softly flowing river. At 8,000-foot elevation, the air is thin, but it is clean and crisp. I suck it in, walk, and then ... a bell. The church bell. It clangs in the distance. A call to prayer. Ten minutes until worship. The adobe chapel is now before me. The large ...

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Discerning essentials and defining priorities

As a student, you have to do what the teachers say. You read the books they think are important and complete projects they think will benefit you. In my final semester of seminary, though, ...

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Project 333 – A minimalist closest

Posted on September 10, 2013

Could you live with only 33 articles of clothing in your closet for the next three months? I don’t know if I can. But I’m going to try. It’s called Project 333. Keep only thirty-three items in your closet for three months. When the three months are up, pick a new set of 33 items that fit better with the next season, and keep only those. Repeat. Through web surfing I discovered the project and read about all these people taking the ...

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Recipe for Porcupine Meatballs

Posted on September 8, 2013

Porcupine meatballs are a simple, tasty, and filling dish. They are excellent for freezing for later. And they are great if you’ve got a family to feed and you’re on a tight budget. This was a favored dish of my husband when he was growing up. My mother-in-law decided that since I am living near her now I should learn some of her tried-an-true recipes. I’m always glad to learn something new! … especially when food is involved! Debbie ...

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Making movies – Video Tape Terror

Posted on September 7, 2013

Hidden talents. It’s a good conversation question: What is your hidden talent? Most people do not know what to say. I make great oatmeal-raisin cookies. Or I can hold my breath under water for a long time. Those are actually pretty cool talents. Maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t know what to say … because very little about me is hidden. I just found out that my sister-in-law’s fiancé, Nick Mendoza, is a movie director. And writer. ...

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Nail painting tips – the basics

Posted on September 7, 2013

For a ‘ladies night’ at our church, my friend Paula hosted a nail painting party. She prepared a great spread of fruits and veggies and sweets, and we all created our own pizzas. Then we grabbed nail supplies and she gave us tips. Paula’s parents used to own several nail salons, and when she was a teenager she spent the required 600 hours in school to get her own nail technician license so she could work in their salon. It was a great ...

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Don’t let pride get in the way: take your neighbor’s trash

Posted on September 5, 2013

People throw away usable things. Homeless people and young "freegans" have figured that out. They go dumpster diving. I've done that before... Nowadays I don't actually find the best supermarket dumpster and go out with friends at night to forage. My husband isn't into that. But last week I did notice a wooden bench on my neighbor's curb to be picked up by the trash men. I've desired a bench for my front yard. This one was free. Sure, it was ...

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Dogs are not cheap

Posted on September 4, 2013

The costs of pet ownership add up. The expenses vary widely from person to person, dog to dog, city to city. But in any case, owning an animal is not cheap. My dog has bronchitis. Did you even know dogs could catch that virus? It does not spread between humans and dogs, but it does spread from dog to dog. My husband and I found ourselves feeding him children’s Benadryl to help with the coughing and breathing problem until we could take him ...

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