Category Archives: humor

Is Sobriety a Gift or an Albatross?

To Thine Own Self Be Tru Unity Service Recovery XXIIIRecently I came across a video, boasting the health benefits from eating fermented vegetation, a euphemism for rotten veggies. For 20 minutes I watch some skinny gal shred buckets of cabbage, carrots, golden beets, and celery, pressing  the compost-like mixture  into Mason jars. sobriety

As she’s twisting the lids onto the jars, I wise up. sobriety

          “Wait, I’m not eating that!”

Not ready to give up, I think up an alternative I can stomach… sauerkraut. I like it, sort of.  Next, I turn to google, searching for a home-cured recipe. As I scroll through dozens of choices, I remember my husband’s remarks the last time I ate sauerkraut. sobriety

            “Oh, (gag), that’s nasty stuff. Can’t you eat that outside?”

Next, a perfectly timed pop-up ad appeared on my screen. It happened to be a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (my old favorite), with flashing red font, claiming the same heart-healthy benefits as rotten veggies. This should be an easy choice. I mean come on… a bowl of sauerkraut or a glass of Sauvignon? sobrietyglass of red wine

Right?

Problem is, next month I will celebrate 24 years of sobriety. That makes choosing a tad more difficult. The big picture question becomes two-fold:

            Part 1: Could I have a single glass of wine every day?

And  …

          Part 2:  What size glass are we talking about?

Seriously, after more than two decades abstaining from alcohol, I can’t help wondering if the alcoholic label has expired.  After all, I’m a new person. The loud mouth woman, slurring words and falling down is behind me. sobriety

Or is she? sobriety

What if she’s lurking in my soul, smacking her dry lips, day dreaming of a 36-ounce tumbler of Cabernet Sauvignon?

Frankly, I believe God put my old self on a bus, out of my heart, years ago. With caution, I confess, I don’t think having a single glass of wine would cause me a problem today. I’m not certain I want just one glass, but with God in my life, I believe it’s possible.

So, why would I choose sauerkraut over red wine?

For starters, gratitude. Sobriety is the gift that keeps on giving. Why would I stand in the return/exchange line for a refund? I certainly don’t want back what I paid for it. That’s a scary thought.

“Here you go, ma’am… 24 bags full of heartbreak, disaster, and shame.”

Am I saying a sober life is a life of sauerkraut? No! That’s just how these ponderings began. Quite the contrary, sobriety for me means:

I see… hear… taste… smell… feel… love. I have character, maybe even integrity, from which relationships thrive with God, my husband, children, grandchildren, friends.

My life means something today. I stand for things. Such as an alternative lifestyle, one  lacking representation and prominence in this world. Too many of us have modeled the American dream, boasting age 21, as a time to receive our prized first drink. Our children see us glorify liquor, resembling the proverbial rabbit chasing the carrot. They hear us say things like “I NEED a drink,” or  “I’ll drink to that.” We honor our time spent with booze by giving it pet names like Miller Time, Beer-thirty and Happy Hour. We even warn the end is near with Last Call. Then, when our children prematurely race for their first drink, we have little tolerance. Yet, we’ve dangled it in their face, adding allure, by tagging it taboo.

God help me!  I imagine by now you’re picturing me banging my tambourine, like one of those prudish Victorian women from the Liquor Prohibition Temperance Movement. Banning alcohol Liquor Sobriety Funny Photoconsumption is not my intent. I envy families who’ve modeled drinking as a choice no more exciting than peas and carrots. I am asking that we quit portraying drinking as a glamorous rite of passage. Certainly the media does not need our help brainwashing youth to believe college equals parties, problems are solved by drinking, and bars and clubs are the only venues for good times.

What I realized contemplating sauerkraut versus wine, is that I like and appreciate my sober life. I’m proud to represent a lifestyle option that I hope reflects contentment, joy and excitement, without the need for additives. sobriety

See below to read a sample chapter of our book in progress.

New Christian Author Preview Chapter: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

Forgiving the Naked Lady Tattoo and the False Teeth Abandoned in a Tuna Sandwich

forgiveness quotation quoteMy childhood nemesis: Roberta Sherard.

She flaunted perfection, from the house next door to mine, twirling polished pirouettes, a blonde ponytail floating in slow motion behind her. I tried to keep up, spinning and stumbling, bedecked with scabbed knobby knees, red hair doomed to frizz, by a Tony home permanent gone awry. Roberta spoke softly, poise oozing out her pores, a finishing school graduate. I reeked of awkward, spewed hillbilly slang like Warshington, gonna, and I-dunno, and I carried the mantra, “Debbie, settle down.”

Roberta’s father wore a suit and tie, called her princess, bored my family with tales of her delight fulness. My dad yelled, wore Big Mac striped overalls, told me to pipe down.

“No man is gonna marry a girl with big feet,” he’d say, pointing a greasy truck driver finger at my bare feet.

I coveted Roberta’s family, but I loved mine.

The McFarland’s were not without charm. Summers we’d put on neighborhood shows, an amazing feat, performed completely without the benefit of talent. No musicians, singers, dancers or actors, just raw desire to be the center of attention, and the guts to charge for it… a silver quarter per show.

Saturday’s we ’d canvas the block passing out hand written invitations, for Sunday afternoon’s back yard performance. A typical show, featured my lip sync to Ricky Nelson’s Traveling Man, sister Nancy’s loud version of Peter, Paul and Mary’s Kumbaya, accompanied by imaginary guitar strumming, and our star, little Danny, singing most all the words of Sukiyaki, a Japanese pop song from the 1960s. We served popcorn and lemonade for a nickel, and gave away taffy, because we didn’t like it very much.

By midsummer our crowds always dwindled, leaving sticky face Johnny and his whining sister, Margaret, alone on the grandstand of grass. Unwillingly to fold up the makeshift floral sheet curtain, we spawned an idea for an act, no child of the 1960s could resist.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the dancing naked lady…”

naked lady tattoo US Navy
My dad’s genuine United States Navy tattoo.

Our risqué, bare bottomed star, a genuine United States Navy tattoo located on Dad’s forearm… and she could dance. Quarters jingled, filling the jar. We had it made. That is, until a power wielding censorship group of one, cancelled the dance, insisting Dad roll his sleeve back down. Mom never did have a sense for business.

One day, Roberta’s family packed their perfect possessions, and moved to a wonderland of princess worthy neighbors. Around this time, Dad’s toothless gums and the tattoo, turned from an attraction to an embarrassment. I grew to hate his stories, and loathe my one time heroine, the dancing naked lady. To my friends, NOT asking, he’d share the demise of his toothless grin.

“I left my teeth at a café’ on highway 99, stuck in a tuna sandwich.”

Thanks for sharing Dad.

Resentment seeded, bitterness took root. Like many families walking the tightrope between alcoholism and recreational use abuse… stuff happened… words carelessly tossed, lies slung, shame spilled, fists bristled.

When I looked at my dad, I saw nothing… except who he was not. The dad I loved for his loud voice, silly jokes and Popeye grin, disappeared. I forgot the man who provided for his family, fudged paperwork miles, enabling longer shifts. The good forgotten, leaving only the bad to define; a man who hurt the ones he loved with neglect and fists.

Over time, the naked lady tattoo shriveled and sagged. Her one time peppy, flirty dance, was at best, a sluggish, sway. Our relationship deteriorated, along with the tattoo. Bitter years of forgiveness proved too much to carry, spilling over, slopping onto my other relationships; husband, children, friends, co-workers, even strangers.

Alas, God moves ever forward, albeit seemingly behind the scenes, but oh so powerful! In His perfect timing, knowing the moment my heart reached ideal compliance, help came knocking in the form of a class called Surrendered Hearts. There I struggled, alongside three other women, clinging to ancient justifications for stacks of resentments. I listened… they listened… to tales of rage… to pent up screams. We cried.

For me, graduation meant forgiving my dad. I said the words, sincerely wanting to mean them. I forgive you Dad. I forgive what you did and what you did not. I mourned the dad I thought I wanted. I thanked Jesus for forgiving my judgments and bitter vows.

Shortly after the class completion, my mother died. That meant spending time with Dad. I wanted to be a good daughter, a comfort for my dad. My willingness to forgive, bought some patience, but not enough. Daily, I spent hours on the phone, listening to him complain. Nightly, I begged God to help me forgive him. Each day a clean slate, ending, soiled with new found rage for his latest rant attempting to justify wrongs done to my mom and siblings. If he’d just keep his mouth shut, maybe I could actually forgive him.

I don’t know how or when God removed the stain from my heart. I didn’t notice it getting lighter or less. One day, on the phone with him, I realized I cared. I felt love for the man he was, right then and there. The dad, the man with skin. While he talked on about what a good guy he was, God flipped the forgiveness switch in my heart. At least, that’s the best explanation I have.

More years passed, at least once a year he nearly died, springing back each time leaving the doctors shaking their heads in wonder. Driving his scooter, oxygen tank at his side, dad pressed on, losing the family home to gambling, nearly blowing his face off smoking Chesterfield’s while hooked to the oxygen tank, and getting slugged by a miscellaneous woman he somehow offended. Same old dad, but something was different.

That would be me.

Forgiveness benefited me. I was free to love and care for Dad, AS IS. Did I condone his actions? No. Did he sometimes make me crazy? You bet. But I loved… I love… I love my dad.

At some point, he quit justifying wrongs and attempted to right what he could. He died, with the faithful naked lady tattoo, loved. He left this world broken, forgiving and forgiven. He left, a dad, I’m proud to say is mine.

 

Coming in 2016 – In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

In Spite of Us - Stalked by a Loving God Promo Banner

Sample Chapter of our book

 

Second Preview Chapter From: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

Christian Author Book Chapter Preview. In Spite of Us - Stalked by a Loving God

A few months back we shared a sneak peek chapter from our book, “In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God.” Thanks to everyone for the encouraging buzz and interest in reading more! That felt so good we’re doing it again!

Our book is the story of an unremarkable couple pursued by God at every turn. It’s written in two points of view – his and hers – bi-chapterly. By the way, the His and Hers monogram belongs to my husband and me. It’s a true story of God’s perpetual grace in our lives, even through seasons of irreverent, stiff-necked refusal of His power and love.

The last preview, Chapter 14, featured my husband, Sandy’s point of view while meeting my colorful parents. This time it’s my turn to speak out as I experience dinner with his family rainbow of characters.

Here’s some general background to set the stage:

It takes place early in our courtship, after a blind date that should have killed the attraction, that miraculously limps on. We are 40-somethings, recent college graduates, beginning lives meant for 20-somethings. Stacked around us, at the relationship hearth, are piles of dirty laundry.

Sandy is three years sober, has perfect A.A. attendance, clings to a God of his own understanding. Coincidentally, before we met, he went through alcohol treatment with my brother Danny. An interesting side note: Sandy does not believe in coincidences.

I consider God a crutch for the weak, have no need or desire for sobriety for myself… BUT… I see the benefits it offers others… AND… I want Sandy to fix my brother using whatever powers available.

We hope chapter 19  leaves you wanting more as the last one did.

If you did not read our first preview, check it out here: Sneak Peek Chapter 14

Chapter 19

Roll Models 

Sandy ignores my eyeball darts, shooting across the dinner table. It’s my first dinner with his family. Laurel, the mom, stands over the table, rebounding orders like a devoted bat boy, wanting nothing more than to serve and please her team. Flavius, the dad, Mark, the brother, Robin, the sister and Sandy, demand more gravy, rolls fresh from the oven and another glass of milk. The words please and thank you are foreign to the masters of this slave, and no one but me, seems to hear her pleas for approval. New Author Preview

“Who wants more of this crap?” she asks. New Author Preview

Taking the bait, I ooh and aah like a fool, hoping someone, maybe Sandy, will join my chorus. New Author Preview

“Oh… oh my… these are the best rolls ever… Mmm-mmm… and this gravy! Sandy?  Sandy! Don’t you think the rolls are amazing?” New Author Preview

Talking over my solo of compliments, they joke, asking who posed as the roll model, each insisting the other’s buns match the rolls. I feel like I’m held hostage by The Three Stooges, plus one. Laurel ignores my orgasmic sounds of pleasure for potatoes and gravy, playing along with the roll model gag. New Author Preview

Later, she tolerates my help with the dinner dishes, frequently suggesting I join the others lounging in the living room. She pours the last of the bottle of Thunderbird wine into her glass. When the twist cap hissed earlier, all eyes turned her way, then diverted as if long ago the family agreed to look away. I wanted to say yes, when she offered me a glass, but I’ve realized I’d rather have none than a little. This is not the time nor place to let loose. Besides, getting sloshed with boyfriend’s mom is a dangerous game. I’ve walked that tightrope a time or two in the past.

Robin goes home, leaving the original Three Stooges in the living room, talking over a rerun of Bonanza on the television. I’m sitting at the kitchen table with Laurel. Her lovely, tall and elegant frame is mismatched with an, “I’m less than demeanor”. Waving away my rerun of oohs and aahs of the feast, she spills a story with the opening line, “I’m a bad person, you don’t know the things I’ve done.” I counter with, “No you’re not a bad person.”

Appointing me as judge and jury, she shares the details of her past like a vehement lawyer’s burden to prove her lack of worth to me. The story rivals “Gone with

the Wind.” It’s a real page turner, but I’d prefer to view it on the big screen, or better yet, read the book in private. Face to face with Scarlett in catharsis mode is beyond my comfort zone. In less than an hour I learn that Sandy’s oldest brother Jim, who was killed in a car accident, was not the son of Flavius. He was the product of a one-night stand, occurring while Flavius was away at sea, in the Navy. All through the story she emphasizes what a good man Flavius is to have married her anyway.

I perform acrobatic feats in body language and facial expressions, hoping Sandy will come save me. Alas, the men are busy poking fun at each other, comparing stomach bloats, oblivious to the melodrama unraveling in the kitchen.

“I told you… I’ve done terrible things.”

“No, no… it’s okay. Don’t say that.”.

My impersonation of Charles Manson in the morning, before coffee, finally grabs Sandy’s attention. He gathers our coats, as I sing a solo chorus of thank you, dinner was amazing, truly wonderful, thanks again.

“If you have any notion that I might be willing to live a life of hell like your mother, get over it,” I say before the car door shuts.

“What the… what’s wrong with you?”

“You treat your mother like dirt!”

He shakes his head, like I’m out of my mind. I make a mental note: Do not marry this jerk.

The answering machine beeps as we walk through the door. It’s Danny, saying he’ll be swinging by tomorrow morning. I’m disappointed Haley and Jay are at their dads. They adore  Uncle Danny. His teasing leaves them begging him to stop, while asking for more. I suspect he wants to talk alone. Last week he was in jail again. He needs help. I have to do something.

I don’t know the, “how tos,” of brothers and sisters, I just know our rule book. There have been times when I wanted the little sucker gone for good. Like when he hid under my bed with a stuffed glove attached to a broom handle, or when he’d pop out from behind the shower curtain just when I turn on the light, or the time he knocked on my bedroom window at 6 A.M., with his pimply, yellow-toothed friends, pointing and giggling at my pink foam rollers. Still, he was, is and will always be, MY pain in the butt, and, when I’m not planning his demise, I love the idiot.

When I was thirteen, and Danny, nine, a silent, bond took place. Mom and Dad wanted to go to Esmerelda’s, a bar in the skid row section of Tacoma. They’d spent the day, doing what they called, “things for us,” and wanted some “adult time.” In the spirit of parental multi-tasking they handed us a handful of change, along with a couple of Archie and Casper comic books. Upon cautioning we should not to talk to strangers, they left us in the pool hall next door. Mom checked in every 30 minutes. It was fun. That is, until around 1 AM, when the semi-normal looking people left us alone with the remaining sour smelling men, whose chins dripped of snuff, after swigs from paper bags. Tired, we huddled on the floor, reading our comics. We kept our backs to the wall so no one could sneak up from behind, and our eyes downward. I felt a creepy stare coming from a guy with a spider tattoo on his hand. Danny felt it too, wiggling and pressing close to me. As the guy’s pointed toe boots shuffled toward us, my goofy little brother puffs up, placing an arm around my shoulder.

“She’s with me,” he said in a squeaky voice.

I looked up, expecting the guy to laugh. Surely even a dedicated ax murderer would think he’s too cute for slaughter. When my eyes met the man’s, it felt like when you have one of those naked in public nightmares. What did he see in place of the pair of redheaded, freckled faced, scared, dopey, ivory skinned kids? Danny’s skinny arm quivered atop my shoulder, his legs bent, preparing to stand and… what? Fight? That’s when I swore a silent oath to protect him all my days, and to quit calling him names. As we stood up together, a voice boomed from the adjoining door to Esmeraldas… it was Dad.

“Let’s go!”

With that, the pervert scattered like a cockroach in the light. My folks apologized for being late, explaining their helpless situation.

“Everyone kept buying us drinks. They wouldn’t let us leave.”

I’ve kept the vow, best I can. Except for the name calling. When he was sixteen, smoking weed and failing school, he moved from Auburn to live with my husband Jerry and me in Yakima. Together we shopped for the best high school, with me, barely 21, asking the school authorities questions like a mother of six. It’s always been Danny and me. Right now, he needs some help. He was willing to stand up at and fight for me, and I’m willing to do the same for him.

When he shows in the morning, he’s noticeably hung over. He refuses a Bear Claw, grabbing for a coffee cup like an old man reaching for his cane. I listen to the ongoing saga of court dates, car accidents, stalking collection agencies and girlfriends who exaggerate about his temper. I want to mention A.A., but he might as well be wearing a sign reading – I will bite the head off anyone who mentions my drinking.

“I need to ask you something, you can’t tell anyone,” he says.

He tears up. We light smokes. Sobs take over as he chokes, swallowing words.

“I’m having problems… sex… you know…”

‘Like what?” I ask, buying time.

“I can’t… I don’t… you know… C’mon you know!”

He’s crying. I’d do anything to help. Desperate, I resort to my one true talent, telling lies. Say what you want, lying is a skill, when used responsibly. It’s saved me many times, from a variety of threats, like jail, rape and getting fired.

“Sandy had the same problems. That is, before, he quit drinking. He told me all about it. He couldn’t function. Now he has no problem at all.”

“Really?” Danny asked, swiping the back of his hand on his cheek.

“Yes, really,” I LIED. “You know he goes to A.A. meetings every day. You should talk with him.”

“A. A. is bunk. I’m doing this other deal. It’s not just the alcohol. The guy I’m seeing takes a holistic approach. No carcinogens, sugar or white flour.  I’ve already paid $1200.”


 

Don’t Let This Common Dilemma Sneak Up on You

Man in very tall pants. High waisted pants. Another birthday… yawn. No biggie, collecting biological years is easy. How old you ask? Let’s just say I’m past a “certain age.” The worry is not the non-nonchalant inevitability of aging… no, it’s the preferred option over death. My concern is deeper, one that my husband and I discuss when alone and free of distractions.

I usually start…

“When do you think it happens?” I’ll ask.

“What?”

“You know, the pants thing?”

“Tall pants?”

“Yeah, tall pants.”

You know what we’re talking about. C’mon, we’ve all noticed, but dare not speak about it. It’s merciless, striking ALL the elderly, no exception, whether man or woman, short or tall, ex-pole dancer or plumber, we all end up with trousers hiked up to our armpits. What about the kids wearing triple sized jeans, gregariously sashed at the thigh? The ones walking around looking like toddlers packing a load? Yep… someday they’ll look like the circus tall guy walking around on stilts, belted at the chest.

Is anyone safe? For years we’ve kept hope that our side buckle, hip hugger, generation, would claim victory over this tricky trouser hitch. Sadly, as we’ve crept into the “certain age” arena, we’ve witnessed the rise in waist lines all around us. We don’t exactly know how, why or when it happens. With each birthday the question nags away.

Is it sudden? One day, walking down the street, you catch your reflection in a store window, finding your trousers cinched snugly around your chest.

Or is it more of a paradigm shift in thought, a cartoon light bulb appearing in a bubble over your head? Standing in the mirror you make a sound decision, yanking jeans up over the gut, proudly parading around for all to see… but why?

Is it a dormant virus we carry like chicken pox, lying in wait for its moment of attack? If so, why has no one developed a vaccine?

Could it be a consequence of a seemingly innocent toddler fashion faux pas such as the footed sleeper or too tight Onesie? What about tall diapers?

It might be that we are victims to a secret force of prankster angels, trained in wedgies, who sneak up on those of a “certain age,” tugging toward the heavens.

No one is safe. Last month, my husband called me, visibly shaken after an encounter too close to home.

“My brother… it’s happening. I saw it with my own eyes.”

“What’s happening?, I asked.

“Mark is showing premature signs of… tall pants.”

Scared for his own future, Sandy asked his brother the tough question.

“So, what’s with the tall pants?”

In Mark’s case, his wife tossed his size 34 jeans out, replacing them with size 36, leaving him with pants falling to his ankles unless he succumbed to the under arm belt mode. But not everyone’s wife is the culprit. We all know a bachelorette, of a “certain age,” who tucks her boobs into her belt, and a horde of white haired bachelors whose suspenders end under the shoulders.

Seems I should say something profound here… like it doesn’t matter… worse things could happen… Hmmm… let me think….

No… not happening… it does matter!

You can’t stop it. I think we all know that. But, here’s a few tips to prolong this involuntary event.

Use the buddy system. Don’t go it alone. My husband and I keep check on each other. You’ll need a tape measure and a vengeance for honesty.

Watch for early signs. Premature cases of creeping waist lines appear to be spreading rapidly. Face the mirror, ask the defining question: “Have I gotten taller? No? I thought not.

Women only: If your bra and belt serve a dual purpose? You have been infected!

Men Only: One question… does it hurt? You have been infected!

Be aware. Safeguard against sneak attacks by scheduling periodic pant tugging times throughout your day.

Alternative care. Try sewing drapery weights into the hem of your trousers. We’ve yet to test this, but it should slow the creeping up process.

Denial is not your friend. Don’t stay in the closet. If you’re wearing a huge T-shirt disguising the tall pants underneath, tell someone and get help.

We encourage you to join a support group. As of this date, I only know of one—ours. Send us a photo, will give you a free, zero obligation evaluation of the pants situation.

Remember, admitting the problem is the first step toward recovery.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

YAY! WE WON A LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD

liebster award I was hungry… my mind tricked me into reading “Lobster” in place of “Liebster.” I didn’t care if we’d been nominated for a fishy award, I was happy to reel it in. The point is, someone (not a relative or coerced friend) likes the blog. A closer look into the award revealed that the German word Liebster means “dearest or beloved.” Cool, huh? Much better than a crustacean award. LiebsterPost

            Blogging takes time, patience, a steady flow of affirmations from readers, and for me, a willing husband who never tires of saying, “no, it doesn’t suck.” So, yes, yes, yes, I accept the nomination and without further adieu extend a huge thank you to Erin @ http://onehundredtwentythreedays.com/ for the recognition. Check out her blog, I found it to be fresh, intriguing and I gleefully accept her challenge to live a better life.

The idea behind the Liebster Award is to discover and give a nod to new bloggers. Accepting, means you win (yay! I won). There’s no trophy, paid vacation or a truck load of cash (dang), but you do get the honor of displaying the cool Liebster Award logo while taking a stroll down the cyber red carpet.

In lieu of an acceptance speech, winners are asked to follow a few instructions.

Answer the following 11 questions provided by the nominator.

Share 11 random facts about themselves.

Post the Liebster Award rules

Nominate 11 others for the award.

 

Q&A From My Nominator (nominees, please answer these same 11 questions)

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 29, and find line 4. What is the book and what does it say?

“Notre Dame,” by Victor Hugo… “Oh yes; I remember it!” exclaimed Gisquette: “God on the cross, and the two thieves on each side of Him.”

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  

I’m weird about this. It’s much more about who I live near than where. I would choose a place with few if any snakes, close to my family and friends.

3. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do?

I would replace all hate with love.

4. Is the glass half empty or half full?

A trick question for a sober person… what’s the liquid?

5. When is the last time you ate a homegrown tomato?

Two years ago from my own little garden. Confession: It did not taste like the ones I remember as a child; dripping down my arm with the first bite.

6. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Mark Twain… of course!

7. What is your favorite time of the day?

First light… sitting with hubby in the quiet as we slowly enter the day.

8. What inspires you?

Faith… without which I am done for.

9. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Sitting with my mother, flipping through the Sears Roebuck Catalog, selecting everything we would buy if money was no concern.

10. What three things in nature do you find most beautiful?

Tigers, flowers, and the way light plays on the trees.

 11. Who are your Nominees?

Here are 11 random facts about myself.

  1. At the time of this writing, I was the ONLY person in Washington State who wasn’t watching the Seahawks at the Super Bowl.
  2. Sometimes I just can’t help exaggerating (see #1 above).
  3. I wonder about cows. According to my hubby, too much. Stuff like… why are they all standing up? Why is that cow being snubbed by the others? Did she do something anti-social? Is there a hierarchy among cows in the field? Is the cow on the mound pretending to be king of the hill? You know, that stuff… I assume everyone ponders.
  4. I write to music, sometimes evoking a moment of dance followed by a get back to work slap upside the head.
  5. I wear my husband’s T-shirt to bed, the one he’s been wearing for the day. No other will do. It gives me the same comfort my thumb sucking blanket gave me when I was a toddler (this should count as two random facts).
  6. If my toenails are not painted, I feel like they are naked.
  7. I HATE wearing socks.
  8. I play a game by Battlenet called Hearthstone more than I should.
  9. I’ve worked a variety of jobs in my life including driving a bulldozer and a forklift. Side note: Crashing a forklift through a plate glass window gets a lot of attention.
  10. I can be won over by any dog. A couple of wags, a sloppy wet kiss… game over.
  11. I think Godly men like my husband are super sexy. Watching him pray has an even stronger effect on me than number 10.

Looking forward to all my nominee’s answers.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

 

Preview Chapter: LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances

RatedWforWeird

The following is an excerpt from our book, “LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances.” The story is about an unremarkable couple pursued by God at every turn. It’s written in dual perspective – he said/she said. Here’s a few things you need to know to set the stage: New Author  Chapter Preview

It takes place several months after a shaky blind date, in that nearly comfortable stage.   They’re forty-somethings who’ve just graduated college, about to start lives meant for twenty somethings. They stand on the relationship hearth, laden with old baggage.

She is not interested in God… any God. To her, sobriety has no benefits. It’s rather like slaughtering a Led Zeppelin tune to make it playable in elevators. She’s been hurt, and if some guy thinks it’s going to happen again… well, he better be ready because this time guns are loaded. The question is this: Is she attracted to the soft-hearted, God-loving recovering alcoholic bent on becoming a better man, or the selfish, egotistical, biker bad-boy he used to be? New Author  Chapter Preview

He is three years sober and not going back to the party. He loves God… a God of his own design, picking what he likes and dislikes like a child forking through a salad. He sees the red flags she slaps him upside the head with, but hey, she’s not a convict, an improvement over past relationships. The question is this: Is he attracted to the kind, loving, woman underneath her facade, or the mouthy, arrogant bad-girl he sees as a challenge? New Author  Chapter Preview

Oh… did I mention my husband and I are the couple, and this is our true story of God’s perpetual grace?

The sample chapter below is written in Sandy’s (my husband) point of view. It’s one of the more light-hearted chapters, when he meets my colorful parents.  It begins amid the current family drama, the murder of my mother’s cousin, Virginia.

Read the warning and take the risk if you dare. We hope the taste of our story leaves you wanting more.

RatedWforWeird

Chapter 14

Bet he’s never seen anything like it.

            After tedious hours of prep and quizzing by professor Deb, I’m ready to meet the parents. The door opens, I’m drawn into the land of the McFarland’s, a place I believed existed mostly in Deb’s exaggerated imagination. Dema greets us at the door with a hearty, genuine hug. I’m confused because she’s dressed like we’re going to a black tie event and my only instructions were to wear a real shirt with no funny saying on it. She’s all sparkly, with sequins and jewels, the infamous auburn hair and makeup done to perfection. I feel better seeing Mac stretched out on his recliner, dressed like a 1950’s cowpoke.

The 12 by 12 foot living room is furnished for a room three times its size, so you have to cross the room walking sideways. Greetings barely obliged, Dema presses start on a VHS tape she’s had paused and ready for us since we left Yakima. The 60-inch projection television can only be seen from the two recliners placed directly in front, where Mac and Dema sit, both armed with a stack of remotes. Deb and I sit on the orange velvet love seat, our knees sideways so we don’t knock over the glass table in front.

For the next hour we watch news clips recorded from all three major television networks. Deb warned me this might happen, to which my reply was, “No, they wouldn’t do that.” After this, I will not question Deb’s facts. The newscasts escalate from a missing person to murder, while Mac and Dema insert background information, sometimes pausing to make sure we are keeping up.

            Hindered by the sideways view and the interruptions, this is my best translation of the drama: Virginia is Dema’s cousin. No one agrees whether she was on husband six, seven or eight. She has a son named Lynn, a sailor who visited once and made homemade pizza from a box. Virginia had lots of money because of her husbands, that she spent on diamonds and high heels. Dema says Virginia was spoiled as a child. She should know since they took baths together. Virginia was missing four days, with her car mysteriously parked in the driveway. Husband number six, seven or eight, claimed she vanished. Lynn, the pizza making son, flew to Spokane, hoping to help find his mother. Suspicions grew. The police brought search dogs, finding poor Virginia buried in the garden along with the carrots and potatoes. The last news clip shows the husband in handcuffs being carted off in a police car.  An autopsy revealed she had been shot. Everyone is relieved that Aunt Myrt, Virginia’s mom, is not around to see this.

            I’m exhausted and we’ve just begun. Again, Deb was right, insisting my intro to the McFarland’s be brief, without Haley and Jay, who might blab something we don’t want known.

 “I don’t want them to know we’re living together,” said Deb. “If we stay overnight we have two choices – separate rooms, pretending what we all know not to be true – or same room knowing the rest of the family is pow-wowing outside the door, chanting tsk – tsk – tsk.”

Considering our options, a short day trip seemed best. When murder and mayhem conversation dies off we move to the next dramatic scene.

            “Have you shown Sandy the bar?” Mac asks, knowing we’ve not left the front room.  “Bet he’s never seen anything like it.”

            “You haven’t… come on,” Deb says, motioning for me to follow. She side-winds through her childhood habitat, like a snake crossing the desert, while I, new to the obstacle course, bump knees and elbows, unskilled at walking sideways. Mac and Dema follow. She carries a 16-ounce tumbler of scotch and water, room to room, like a portable oxygen tank. The story from Deb is that her mom confesses to the doctor a two drink habit, omitting the constant refreshing and topping off.

            I’ve spent time in bars, all types… redneck, biker, highbrow… dives to swanky black tie joints… home bars, makeshift bars, tailgate specials. Yet none prepared me for the, “McFarland’s Bar.”

Deb’s eyes are begging me for words, but I don’t know what to say.  When words fail me, she involuntarily covers for me, chattering nervously, cooing and fidgeting like a cross between a dove and a quail.

“We had the bar built. It’s regulation. So are the dozen stools,” Mac says.

There’s a mirrored back bar with shelves stocked and ready to fill any drink order. And… Elvis is in the room… rows of gold and silver Elvis bottles peering down from shelves installed around the ceiling. There’s a black light, 20 beer signs, a booth style table and a life size poster of Mac dressed as a woman… an extremely ugly toothless woman with a huge nose… just imagine if Popeye had a sister.  What comment am I to make? Deb is trying to cover for my silence.

“Did you see the disco ball? Cool, huh? Did you know the poster is Dad? The ceiling is painted black for the strobe lights. You should really see what it looks like at night…”

Any moment Deb’s going to shove me on her lap, cram her arm up my butt and move my jaw up and down, like Edgar Bergan and his Charlie McCarthy doll. I open my own mouth to comment, but not fast enough to delay what’s coming next.

Deb’s classy, attractive, soft spoken mom calls me over to the bar. She’s lined up a collection of ceramic figurines. I obey her call, nearing the harmless looking monks and frogs. Then she hands me a monk.

“Turn it around,” she says. “Isn’t that awful?”

As I turn the monk around, he transforms into a ceramic penis. Why is this happening? Dema keeps saying how awful it is… I want to agree. Then she hands me a frog, asking me to turn it over. Do I have to? Deb gives me a “just do it” look.

“Isn’t that awful?” Dema asks again.

I manage a laugh at the anatomically enhanced frog. It’s not that I can’t handle the joke. I feel like I’ve been captured and thrown into someone’s really bad X-rated home movie. Finally, I speak.

            “Deb, where’s the bathroom?”

            The conversation turns from ceramic phallic symbols to towels as I follow Deb’s finger pointing down the hall.

             “I copied your idea to roll towels on the shelves. I really like it.” I hear Dema say to Deb.

            I try to open the door to the bathroom, but something is behind it. I slide through sideways, finding a huge hook on the back of the door holding a stack of robes. The door’s heavy and hard to close on the carpet, but I manage. Standing at the toilet staring at a tall shelf above it, I count 56 hand towels, 49 bath towels and 62 wash cloths, neatly rolled and stacked like cord wood stored for the winter. If a bus load of people needing a bath arrive at the McFarland’s, they’re covered for towels.

            “There are 56 hand towels,” I say to Deb as I squeeze back through the door. She shushes me while peeking in.

“Oh, that looks great Mom. Rolling the towels saves a lot of space.”

            Dinner, however late, is worth it. I’d been told to expect greatness and my hopes were not denied. The table was set with U.S. Navy flatware and individual platters, not plates, crowded with heaping plates of southern fried chicken, mash potatoes, country gravy, biscuits and corn. Seated in unspoken assigned seats, with Mac at the head of the table, I remember one of Deb’s warnings – “Whatever you do, don’t pass the food in the wrong direction, it drives Dad crazy.”

            He passes the procession of steaming bowls ceremoniously clockwise. I try, but curiosity wins, forcing my hand to pass the corn upstream, against the current.  Dema accepts the bowl with a nervous grin… Deb and Mac place their forks on the table, staring me down as if I’m the one who buried Virginia under the carrots. Not wanting to delay indulging in this feast any longer, I retrieve the corn, sending it clockwise. I know what we’ll be discussing on the ride home to Yakima.


 

 

The Christian’s Secret To Winning The Weight Loss Battle – Free No Risk Plan

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“Imprisoned in every fat man a thin one is wildly signalling to be let out.”

 We’ve all heard versions of this quote by old English writer Cyril Connolly.   Days past, when thin, I met the sister who’s louder, more persistent and nasty. Thus the adjusted quote: “Inside every thin woman is a fat broad insisting to be let out.”

Truth be told, both voices duel bipolar style, in a constant battle to be heard, duking it out in the arena of my mind.

In this corner in the black trunks with tummy control panel, weighing in at sad pounds we have defending heavyweight champion… Fat Broad Deb. In the white trunks, the contender, weighing in at happy pounds, former lightweight champion… Skinny Broad Deb.

They argue nonstop…

Skinny voice: Tomorrow I will do 50 crunches, jog, eat all green foods. I will be healthy, fit and full of energy.

ice creamFat voice: If I can’t even have an ice cream cone with my grandchildren, what’s there to live for? What if I put green food dye on my ice cream?

Skinny voice: Food is for energy. I will use it like fuel saladand not eat what my body does not need. I am not hungry. I am satisfied.

Fat voice:  I’m starving and will surely die soon if I don’t have something decent to eat. I need satisfaction like fries, chocolate, cheese-cake. Without such pleasures, why get out of bed?

I promise, I do have a secret weapon that’s worked in the past and promises to work every time. I’ll get to that, really. But for now, back to the Whine Fest along with a short rant.

Now, can I honestly stare you in the computer screen and say “I don’t care what I look like?” No. But I can say, “healthy is the new hot, ” at least at my age. Lucky for me my hubby’s a dear, saying “ you’re just fat between fat3the ears.” Funny thing, ears are not what’s popping over my belt.

Speaking of acute belly abundance, every time I suck and stuff I think about the people who pay to have their fat removed via liposuction. Why? Have you ever thought about it? Duh! It’s a fuel source. People should be vying for my fat. It could provide heat through several winters, or, better yet, transform into a usable source of biofuel. We could take a road trip with a map tracking miles driven on our own fat. I can see the headlines now – WOMAN’S FLAB FUELS CROSS COUNTRY TRIP. Instead, we pay tons of cash to doctors who remove it with a beefed up Hoover vacuum. We don’t even get to take it home in a baggie. Just what do you think happens to those hefty bags of fat? Just saying. Rant over!

Jesting aside, both voices are liars and both speak some truth. It’s easy to find a healthy diet and exercise routine – they’re out there… pick one already. The problem is actually doing it. I talk a great diet and can chat about jogging while in the Yoga Lotus Pose. But the only times I have ever been successful at losing a significant amount of weight… God helps me. And, when I falter and the weight returns? He helps me again. No matter how many times I gain and lose like an accordion, He responds to my call for help.

That’s right. The secret is prayer. It works. I’ve tried to lose weight on my own for years, then I finally bring God on board and He transforms my thinking. I just can’t seem to go it alone. I still have to do the work, but He gives me the strength. prayer

If you were hoping for an easy fix, you just got it. Rest in Him. Pray. Trust. Have faith. He will encourage you even when there’s a sneaky inner voice whispering defeat in your ear while placing a heavy foot on the scale.

Praying through weight loss is certainly not a new concept. To help get you started I’ve posted a couple of great articles in agreement. I encourage you to check them out. Just remember, this is between you and God. He knows your relationship with food, what needs to change, where you are weak. Who better to have as a personal trainer?

Here is a good prayer to start.

A Prayer to Lose Weight (author unknown)

Guide me lord, as I strive to lose weight You are my light and my anchor, and with you I know all things are possible.

Help me this day to make healthy choices and give me the strength to fight against destructive cravings that negatively affect my health.

You said, “The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. As I bow before you today, raise me up help me towards my goals.

I have been taught that anything that replaces God is an idol. Help me to reject any unhealthy habit in which I seek false comfort. For you are my one true comfort and salvation.

In your name I pray, Amen.

http://thecovenantdiet.com/day-734-you-gotta-pray-through-for-a-break-through/

http://www.takebackyourtemple.com/supernatural-weight-loss-prayer/

4th of July – A Time to Celebrate Our Freedom to …brag on Grandchildren

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Smitten image of Grandpa … watching a rocket soar.

With NO apologies, I’m using this blog post as a virtual wallet to show off our Grandsons. You’re welcome to counter with your own Grandchild boasts. Go ahead… it’s not a competition but rather a testimony of God’s grand crop of good fruit.

This weekend our five stunning grandsons will be together in our home to celebrate the 4th of July… that means blowing stuff up with Grandpa! I could go on about their many accomplishments in academics, sports, drama, blah –blah –blah. That’s all super, but I’m more enamored by their hearts, character, ability to love and their quirky senses of humor.gboys7

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Last year’s safety talk before the fireworks begin.

God promises good fruit for trees that stand firm. Celebrations like this prove His promise is alive and well. You see it in their eyes – hear it in their giggles. “Hey Na-Na … hey Na-Na … Na-Na? … Grandpa said it’s okay to spray you with the hose.” You feel it in the hugs. You question it during the tattling and mischievous acts. And, when the apologies, forgiveness and moving on occur, you cherish it. God’s promise shining in all they do.

Ryder, six, our youngest, is a sprite determined to do whatever the older boys do, plus one more. He steals hearts using an effective kindergarten version of Clark Gable’s grin. He’s half and half – love/stinker. His smile could light the ocean if ever the moonlight ceased.

Next comes ten year old Ty. Look out world! Wise AND willing to do whatever it takes to “get ‘er done.” We’ll find out what that means later. I just know it will be amazing. One of my favorite things about Ty, is that he’s always shown gratitude for God’s beauty – trees, sky, wildlife.

Of all our grandsons, Jarod, eight, is the one I’ve butted heads with the most. Why? He’s a  genius and knows how to use it. If something blocks the way to what he wants, before you can say “no” he’s built a bridge across the obstacle and is standing on the other side – smiling. He doesn’t know it, but I’m writing a guide for his future wife entitled “Jarod’s Bag of Tricks.” She’ll need this to counter his SUPER CHARMS.

Mathew, eleven, studies life … quietly, carefully. I don’t think he misses much. He has so many talents and gifts he could easily entertain himself with self-amusement, but instead he looks around. Wise, beyond his years. He’s our King Solomon, the one with the thoughtful answers.

Our eldest, Evan, at sixteen stands at the cusp of manhood, a young man of God. It feels like yesterday we were giggling at a tiny sparrow flapping its wings and now here stands an eagle… powerful… mighty… capable. The coolest thing about Evan is that he seeks after God, after righteousness. He wants to do what is right. He’s a humble eagle with a big heart.gboys3

All our Grandboys stand, proof of God’s amazing creativity. Each different… yet perfect in love.

When we’re young we dream dreams of who and what we want to be. I can’t say I remember wishing to be a Na-Na and yet this role has been the best blessing ever. Thanks God.

Okay… all done for now. Please feel FREE to share your own Grandchildren boasts.

Have Teens Crossed Over into the Twilight Zone?

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into…

The Twilight Zone?      TheTwilightZonePoster1

Nope… you’ve entered into a Christian youth group such as the one on Wednesday nights at Vineyard Christian Church in Yakima, Washington.

If you’re like me, you approach teenagers gingerly, or not at all. When God tugged at my heart to support my husband’s decision to help with the youth group I replied…

“Really?”

I get God choosing my big-hearted hubby to work with youth… he’s just like them only biologically challenged. But me? Please. I had already survived a couple of teens. Why would I do that again? (Note: My teenage grandson gets a disclaimer because… well… I know him. He’s a great kid, different from all others. He’s… mine).

God ignored my whining. He’s had a lot of practice with that – i.e. the Israelites. My first night I climb the metal steps to the designated youth zone, deafening noise blasting through the door, I wonder what heinous acts of mischief are underway.

teen8I’m expecting huddles of teens practicing eye rolling and sulking techniques while jabbing at each other with verbal sticks. If I had a tattoo it would read SKEPTICAL across my forehead. After all, at their age, I’d already involuntarily ridden in a cop car and could have penned the book “Smart Mouthing for Dummies.”

Walking through the door, I catch them, inhibitions set aside, getting their goofy on – carefree as toddlers in a room full of balloons. They pause mid giggle when a new youth walks through the door to shout a welcome and usher them into the zone with non-verbal cues saying, “it’s okay… check the annoying awkwardness at the door. You won’t need it here.” teen7

Baffled, I settle in as the youth leaders, who need badges so they can be identified as such, gather the group for worship. Not ready to trust, I’m incapable of entering into a time of worship myself, so I study each face. Some sing freely, ethereal in stance. Many rest in quiet reverence. A few, like me, witness, question, contemplate. Later I learn that the group is a hodge-podge of faith – ranging in time – cradle to not yet – and depth – deep to highly doubtful.teen9

A tear drop surprises me when it splats on my hand. I sop pools from the worry lines on my face with a tissue. My thoughts travel back to a pizza parlor buzzing with cheerleaders and jocks from my junior high days. Feelings of shame and embarrassment surface along with the details of my failed attempt to join the group with a simple “Hi.” My moment of courage swiftly shot down with bullets of mocking, finger pointing, name calling and snobbery. Wanting to show indifference and prove myself unscathed by their attack, I pull a fat cigar from my purse, (stored for just such an occasion?) and flipping the Zippo lighter open, puff away Clint Eastwood style. The audience review? The Good the Bad and the Ugly – minus the good part. I stared them down in a “go ahead, make my day” manner. Smoke swirling round my face as I sent a subliminal scream across the room, “I don’t need any of you. Not now, not ever.”

Is that when my heart hardened? That vengeful day puffing away on the cigar? I don’t really know. Maybe.

I continue searching faces finding nothing to discredit the sincerity of these young people. The spirit of worship remains as they divide boy/girl for prayer groups. Emotions shaken, I choose a safe place for continued scrutiny.

One by one the girls share, trusting that their personal package of hurts will be handled with care. They speak of divorce, abandonment, abuse, bullying… dreams crushed… innocence stained… hateful words tossed their way… trust shattered. Hands touch shoulders, stroke hair, pat knees.  teen3

The leader, a Mom with a big life of her own, tenderly guides them along. Her soft voice speaks words of hope and encouragement to willing, open hearts and ears. Heads are bowed. Names lifted. Prayer received and given like wise Moms partaking before passing an oxygen mask to their child.. breathing in life, before giving it away.

Prayer time ends. Laughter and chatter return. Volume cranked up.

I feel odd… as if something broke… not busted into pieces, but blasted open, exposing light and air. My thoughts return to the pizza parlor and the faces spitting mean words my way. I look closer. They’re young… fragile… hurting… scared. I see God’s children living in a shattered world. My heart breaks… for them… for myself. I’m grateful for groups like this one where our youth can be safe and real with each other. A place where it is more cool to be kind than cruel.

We live in a world where beauty and ugliness coexist. Blessed lives… cursed lives… joy… sorrow. A place where acts of kindness and unimaginable horror live side by side. Where the unthinkable occurs – children are murdered… children commit murder.

What do we see when we look at our youth? Or anyone, for that matter? Do we have expectations of light? Or darkness? Do we expect, imagine, judge based on our past hurts? I know I did…I know I do… I hope not to any more.

TMI – TOO MUCH Information – Writing About S E X

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Confession: I’m writing this blog because I can’t face the blinking cursor on the screen today. You see, I’m at the scene in my book “In Spite of Us,” when that three letter word… S E X… needs to be addressed. Blink… blink… blink.

I’m the Mom whom, when two neighbor dogs presented a perfect opportunity to talk to my children about… S… E… X… well… I choked, telling them a silly story about the doggie dance. Focus successfully diverted, we searched the car radio finding the perfect song to accompany their dance.

Fast forward years later? I still avoid the subject. At least, this time I have a legitimate concern. You see, I’m writing about two people before they knew God. A couple stumbling in the dark, clueless. Who are they? They’re not strangers or make believe characters in my head…

That couple is … us.

Keep in mind, I grew up with images of married couples like Lucy and Desi pecking a kiss on the cheek before retiring to their twin beds decked in matching chenille spreads. Both wearing more armor than a roman solider… her in the full boudoir attire – duster, nightgown, feather puff slippers, night cap and he all buttoned up in pajamas, robe, and slippers. It’s the picture our parents attempted to plant, unknowing that a sexual revolution would blow in with the sixties not only stripping off dusters and slippers, but leaving us without our bras for support.

Stop! I see you rolling your eyes… (especially my single friends). You know where I’m going with this and you’re right. Yes, If I had it to do over, I would honor the marriage bed today. Stop it… you rolled your eyes again. I know it sounds like I just downed a triple cheese burger, fries and large shake and now while bursting full, I’m claiming I would choose to abstain.

A little background… 

Thank You God that I’m not the same person I used to be. Time was when I thought God was some jerk in the sky hovering with his giant rule book waiting to smite people who wouldn’t obey. All this fuss while ignoring that people were hurting all over the world. So, I plugged my ears, froze my heart and turned my back on a nit-picking God of legalism.

But He didn’t turn His back on me. He stayed. Massaging my heart. Whispering… a truth. Revealing a lie. Never leaving me. Returning my scolding hand to His face with open, welcoming arms of Grace… for years… plus more.

Mind boggling transformation and brain renewal take time. It’s a process. Today I love God’s book of rules. I no longer picture a mean old rule mogul waiting to pluck the wings from helpless victims. Instead, I see a doting Father who wants His beloved children to receive the blessings that come when His loving and supernaturally thought out commands are followed.

Staring at the blinking cursor I’m still a little tempted to write my story all spiffed up and Christianized. But it wouldn’t be true. And worse? It would dilute the magnificence, the wonder, the super-sized power of His miracle. If the sins of our ancestors like King David and Bathsheba, were omitted so as to keep the story G-rated, the Bible would be a thin, trite paperback story rather than the Greatest Story Ever Told.

So, with God’s help, I will conquer the blank screen.

Note to our children… we apologize for the TMI and the PDA in this blog.

Note to our grandchildren… we were just dancing.