Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Friday Fill-in


I recently discovered Friday Fill-Ins on Verbatim, the blog of another voraciously reading mom of 3 and liked the Mad Libs-ness of it all. Lo and behold, there's actually a blog where you can get your prompts every week - yay! Be warned: you will learn more about me than you probably ever wanted to know.

That, or you'll laugh so hard you'll either pee or snort liquid out of your nose...

1. My stomach is waaay too paunchy.
2. Brown and serve rolls is what I ate the most of on Thursday.
3. The yard is covered in leaves - and it's gonna stay that way!
4. In bed asleep is where I'd rather be at any given time.
5. The smell of turkey reminds me of Thanksgivings at my grandmother's house and the annual Scrabble game.
6. Meme's (she of the turkey and Scrabble) chocolate meringue pie is what I need right now!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Praise Team practice, tomorrow my plans include church and Sunday, I want to dig out the Christmas decorations, including the tree I get to bless a family with from Freecycle!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Mail for Heroes - Send some!


The goal is to send one million holiday cards to heroes. Please send cards to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

There are some rules. From the website:
Please follow these guidelines when mailing a card to ensure that your card will quickly reach service members, veterans and their families. Every card received will first be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working in one of 16 sorting stations around the country.
  • All cards must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Cards sent after this date will be returned to sender.

  • Participants are encouraged to limit the number of cards they submit to 25 from any one person or 50 from any one class or group. If you are mailing a larger quantity, please bundle the cards and place them in large mailing envelopes. Each card does not need its own envelope or postage.

  • Please ensure that all cards are signed.

  • Please use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.

  • Please send cards as opposed to long letters which delay a quick review process.

  • Please do not include email or home addresses on the cards, as the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.

  • Please do not include inserts of any kind, including photos, as these items will be removed during the reviewing process.

  • All cards received may be used in program publicity efforts, including appearing in broadcast, print or online mediums.

  • My grandfather is a World War II hero; my stepdad (RIP) was a World War II hero; my uncle is a veteran hero; my husband is a veteran hero; my big brother is an active hero. Send one of their brothers or sisters a Christmas card of thanks. At least one. Maybe a dozen or two...

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    A Week in the Life

    So life's been a little hectic lately. I thought the last post I did was this past Thursday. Nope - it was the Thursday before.

    Oy. Gotta write. What to write?
    Review? Nah. Reading a book on ADD & ADHD - boring stuff unless you're interested in that kind of thing...
    Blog Tour? Not one available at the moment (if you're a publicist or author and would like me to host a blog tour for your book, contact me at crystal (at) 3stairs (dot) com!)...
    Quote? Unh-uh - that's for Thursdays...
    Update? Well, it has been a week-and-a-half... Ok, update it is.

    So Thursday the 6th, you see that I posted quotes from our very own Samuel Adams. Then I disappeared, apparently. In a sense, I did - but just from my house. Here's a brief rundown:

    Friday, 7 November:
    Supposed to be cleaning the house and preparing for Bethy's third birthday party on Sunday. Oh yeah, and making a veteran's day banner for the music teacher at the school, which I completely forgot about. I went to Tyler with my good friend Toni instead, then came home and took a nap. I think that probably qualifies as playing hookey.

    Sabbath, 8 November:
    Went to church. Dixie, Joel and the boys coming around 7 o'clock to spend the night for Bethy's party. At 6 I go to a girls' night out hosted by the Women's ministry at church and play spoons and Scrabble until about 1:30am.

    Sunday, 9 November:
    Bethy's party at 3pm. Sensitive half-sister's feelings hurt by two people being nitwits and saying insensitive things about her first child. The guilty shall remain unnamed because I'm ashamed I'm related to them when they're that thoughtless. Cute Winnie-the-Pooh cake, but my camera is crappy, so I can't show you a picture.

    Monday, 10 November:
    The nutritionist from Early Childhood Intervention comes for her last visit, since tomorrow is Bethy's third birthday and they can only work with children until then. Great news - Bethy has gained 9 ounces! This is fantastic, as she's showed a loss on the previous two visits. The nutritionist is very pleased and tells us to call her if we need any help going forward.

    Tuesday, 11 November:
    Bethy is finally three! I don't know why, but this birthday just seemed to take so long to get here. I spend the day with Bethy until time to get the kiddos from school, at which time she's napping. Brandon, Sarah and I go to the local library's after-school library program.

    Wednesday, 12 November:
    Parent-Teacher-Partnership meeting at the Primary School. Principal suggests that members be kind and try to work together (yes, he actually needed to do it, sadly). Issue resurfaces when he leaves and attendees phish for names of suspects, which are not given because there aren't any - the nasty things were done anonymously and we have no way of knowing who did them. Nevertheless, a non-attending member is called afterwards and told that her name was brought up as a suspect. Oy, the high school drama. Where are the freakin' big-girl panties around here?? And, please, somebody, tell me: why would anybody lie when there were so many witnesses that can tell you that a person wasn't mentioned? Ugh. Makes me want to quit if it weren't for the fact that I'm there as an advocate for the kids. I just wish all the members realized that and were there for that instead of politics, drama and popularity.

    Thursday, 13 November:
    Women's and Men's ministry meeting at church. Finger-food dinner followed by hilarious sly set-up of the women for a surprise baby shower for one of the ladies while the men separated for their meeting. The shower goes well, with some rather funny games involving unlabeled jars of baby food. The praise team had to leave before the gifts were given to go to practice. At practice, I discover that the slides I prepared look horrible on the screen (the color/contrast is slightly different than my machine, so it's hard to get them right for the church projector), so stay until 11 or so to edit slides.

    Friday, 14 November:
    Christmas Store Inventory at the Primary School. Two other PTP members and I go through 5 boxes of trinkets, toys and gifts to inventory them for the upcoming Christmas store. We have a bazillion porcupine balls in various forms and way too many playing cards. The Christmas Card workshop that I had been planning on going to had to be rescheduled, so now I can go to the concert being given by Oklahoma Academy students at church. But not before I go to Two Senoritas with Toni. ;) Problem is, I forgot to tell Michael we were going, so when the Pastor called looking for me and Michael told him I was at church, he was confused when the Pastor told him I wasn't. Oopsie. Forgiveness can be bought with a steak dinner to go. Just sayin'... I get to church at about 6:30 at create a slideshow to loop behind the students during the concert. I am a small-time hero. The concert is fantastic. There is singing, string quartet, trumpets and a bell choir. I tell the director that I hope this a first-annual event.

    Sabbath, 15 November:
    Church. Praise Team. There is some sadness over the loss of a loved one in the church family and the loss of a 23-year job in another family. I host a visitor's lunch with a couple of other families and get rave reviews of the homemade chili that I can't eat because it's too spicy for my esophagus. Irony, huh? There are Sabbath School workshops in Tyler in the afternoon, but I'm exhausted and my head hurts, so I play hookey again and take a nap.

    Sunday, 16 November (today):
    Lounge around; take a nap with Bethy; send Michael to Taco Bell for dinner. Sit down to play with blog and write this.

    And so now you know my life is busy but boring.

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Listen to your (fore)father!

    He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.


    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.


    The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.


    Samuel Adams
    US patriot

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Subscribe and Win for Operation Christmas Child!

    Feedburner tells me I have 17 readers (see the neat little box over there on the top right?), which is cool, but I'm vain. I want more readers to fuel my ego. I want 25 subscribers before 14 November. I realize, though that I'm not much to read about, so I thought I'd bribe you all.


    The 25th subscriber to this blog before 14 November will get a box donated to Operation Christmas Child in his or her name on 15 November.

    The fine print:
    You will get to choose the age group and gender of the recipient* if I get to 25 and you notify me of your preferences before noon CST on 14 November. If either of these events occur after noon CST on 14 November, a gender and age group will be chosen at random.
    *choose from the following: girl 2-4 / boy 2-4 / girl 5-9 / boy 5-9 / girl 10-14 / boy 10-14

    To be counted, just subscribe by using the link over there at the top of the right-hand column, then e-mail me at crystal (at) 3stairs (.) com or direct message me on Twitter to let me know you subscribed.

    So there you have it. It's not hard. It's a win-win-win. I get more readers and a stroke of the ego; you get to read a funny, witty, clever blog post about 1-3 times a week from moi; and - this is by far the most important - an underprivileged child gets a better Christmas.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Faces in the Crowd, by Donna Thomas


    Faces in the Crowd
    208 pgs.
    New Hope Publishers
    ISBN-13: 9781596692053
    Retail: $12.99
    America continues to remain a melting pot for various internationals to call home. For hundreds of years we have opened our arms to a population of multicultural religions and spiritual preferences. In spite of our welcoming borders, our churches have struggled to effectively reach many of these multicultural groups for Christ.

    Donna Thomas, a veteran missionary, writes a practical how-to book on the subject, seasoning the book with anecdotes of personal conversations she has enjoyed with different faces in the crowd. Along with the heartwarming stories, each chapter includes things to consider and action steps to help apply each lesson. Donna tackles the tough subject of finding, reaching and effectively sharing Christ's love with international neighbors. These easy-to-implement personal evangelism tools equip readers with the basic know-how and stirs up the desire to share the gospel of Jesus with others. Donna teaches by example how to start a conversation, build a meaningful relationship, share gospel truths in a cross-cultural context, and incorporate the Lord into ongoing conversations. More than that, she stimulates Christians to develop an all-inclusive love and passion for faces of all colors and people of all cultures.


    Veteran Missionary and Author, Donna Thomas
    About the Author:
    Donna Thomas has the unusual experience of speaking and training leaders in countries as far away as China, Egypt, and India. In addition, she now has four books published and in the hands of Christian families and leaders. Pulling stories out of her, you will find that she has earned the label of: teacher, co-founder of a church, cofounder of a missions agency, co-founder of short-term missions (then an unknown opportunity) taking over 6,000 participants, pilot and manager of a 40-passenger plane, partner with twelve key international Christian leaders, funded the first church built in China in 1984 after the Communist Revolution, and has helped Christians in seventy-six countries.

    What Others Are Saying:

    Did you ever find yourself at a loss on how to reach out to the people of other cultures and religions in your neighborhood or workplace? If so, Donna Thomas's Faces in the Crowd is the resource you need. With colorful stories of average people making a cross-cultural connection, supplemented with action ideas you can use, Donna guides the reader on how to have an impact on the global village--from where you live right now.

    --Paul Borthwick, senior consultant, author:
    Stop Witnessing...and Start Loving,
    Six Dangerous Questions,
    Development Associates International

    Chatting with Donna
    What is the take-away value that you hope readers will gain from reading Faces in the Crowd?

    I want them see how easy it is to get rid of fear, to accept their calling to obey the Great Commission and to enjoy every bit of it.

    You share many anecdotes in the book of ways you started conversations with others to build relationships that lead to the opportunity to share the gospel. Can you tell our audience about one of these anecdotes?

    Yes, just today I was in the Apple phone store with a problem on my phone. The young man that was helping me had a badge with the name Matt. I said, "I'll remember you Matt because that is the first book in the New Testament." He replied that his parents used that name because it is a Bible name. We went on to talk about his purpose in life, what he wants to do in the next 60 years (since he is 22 years old) and since he is a Christian, how he wants to make a difference in this world for the Lord.

    Here's an example of a conversation starter I had with an international. I saw this fellow's name badge and it was Alpha. So I asked him, "where is Omega?" That made him want to talk with me and we have become friends because of further conversations. Now he has been to my house and I've been to his home several times. He is a Muslim from Guinea but is interested in Christian teachings, etc.

    Why do you think Christians are so fearful of sharing about Jesus Christ with others? What can we do to overcome these fears?

    We are taught in our culture not to talk about religion or politics. We are also taught to just mind your own business and leave others alone. When we tell them how Peter lost his fear and share how they can lose theirs, they are open. Give them the story of Phillip and the Eunuch and show them how the Lord used him. Also instill in them that we don't have to be successful, but we do have to be obedient. Jesus wasn't always "successful" with those he talked with. Many turned and walked away but he gave them an opportunity to know him. We give the gift of opportunities.

    Faces in the Crowd has a very international emphasis to it, in that you discuss our need to be more aware of reaching culturally and ethnically different neighbors. What are some pointers you can give about doing this?

    Start looking to see how many internationals you can see. Ask for the Lord to let you see the multitude of people through his eyes. Just start looking for them. Allow your curiosity to discover what country they are from. The interesting thing is that they would certainly like to have an American friend. When you give them a little attention they immediately give you all of theirs. They are lonesome...a foreigner in a foreign land. You can offer friendship.

    When we look into the faces in the crowd and only see our differences, what commonality can we find to open the door to conversation with someone of another race or religion? Is there a way to ask them questions to learn more about their culture without it seeming like we are judging them?

    They would love to tell you about their family and they want you to tell them about yours too. They would love to tell you about their homeland. They would love to tell you about their religion and you can tell them about yours too. It is a two way conversation. Just be open to begin a friendship. It can later enable you to talk about what Jesus means to you.

    How can we know when others we are talking to about the gospel are ready to receive Christ into their lives and make a deliberate choice to live for Him? When we see these indicators, what's the next step?

    You don't preach to them, you tell them what Jesus means to you. You tell them about some of your difficult times and how the Lord has helped you. You ask them about any difficult times they have right now so you both can pray to the Lord for him to help you in this circumstance. Address their needs. When we show them the Lord can help them, they want to meet that Lord.

    Tell us about Donna Thomas. What makes you tick?

    Oh my, I see these people and I wonder if they know Jesus, what their purpose is in life, and where they will spend eternity. Why should I have the joy of going to heaven when they don't know the way to get there? I feel sorry for them and I also feel sorry for Christians that don't care for others. Some Christians only see a physical need but don't recognize spiritual needs.

    What are your passions? What is a normal day like for you?

    Every morning I ask "Okay Father, what do you have in store for me today?" Then in all I do, I look to see the people I think Jesus wants me to see, whether they are a server in a restaurant, a repair man at my house, a lonely looking person at another table or in a waiting area. If Jesus was with me, who would he see, what would he say, what would he do, what does he want me to do? Tonight I am going back to Abuelos restaurant because of the relationships I have there with several of the waiters. I walk a mile or two in my neighborhood for exercise and now I have friends to walk with that don't really know the Lord. I get emails from around the globe asking me for prayer, for advice, and assurance. From Peru, Honduras, Mexico, Laos, China, India, Russia, etc. I am working with 12 internationals right now and I hope to find mentors for them as I cannot be with them as much as they need. So do I quit finding more internationals to talk to or do I find Christians that will come along side them and help them grow? I know a former Hindu from India who is now a Christian, who needs a mentor. It isn't easy to find mentors because many people just say they don't have time. Where are the Christians, the disciples in this day and age?

    Give us a sneak peak into your life!

    Also I have a wonderful family, 3 sons and 10 grandkids and all are Christian. Last night I got great grandson #2. Yea! I am also the American grandmother to the children of many of these internationals. Some that I have met in my obedience to the Lord and some that are overseas and I have worked with their parents for 20 plus years. What an honor. I am the American grandmother to 7 India children, 2 Chinese, 3 Mexican, 2 Nicaraguan, and these are adults now. Here in the U.S. to a student from Saudi Arabia, a child whose parents are from Guinea, and a child whose parents are from Senegal. I retired 10 years ago from my position as president of a missions organization and am now writing books, speaking around the country, and am a consultant. But I am as busy as ever, even at 80 years old. Someday I hope to slow down but so far the Lord has me very busy. Oh yes, on my 80th birthday my kids gave a party and there were 150 people that showed up from 17 countries and California, Alabama, Texas, Colorado, Ohio, Kansas, and more. Before it ended there were 8 birthday parties. Now that was a celebration. Wow!

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Mosey Monday

    Hallelujah, my calendar block for today is actually empty - can you believe it?! Michael said that was just wrong and that I needed to put something in there. I did have to do redesigns on a couple of client sites, but they were easy, and, so being, are already done. Huzzah! And I got the chicken in the slow cooker to make homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken. Look at me go with my Suzy Homemaker-ness!

    The kids were up at 6 this morning and Bethy is already chilling out in Grandpa's chair, so I foresee a nap for her and a nice, quiet afternoon for me. Oy, do I know I need one of those! I finished my latest Fall Into Reading 08 book, Making It Real, so I can start on the next one.

    Unfortunately, I think Breathe is going to have to be preempted by the AD/HD books I checked out from the library last week. Brandon is struggling and I need to learn how to help that kid before he starts hating school. That would be a crying shame because he's well-nigh unto genius intellectually from what his teacher and principal say. He's a truly smart guy and has a plethora of potential in him, if only we can focus it. Pray for him, and us!

    Blog Tour Tuesday this week will either be a new blog tour or a review of Making It Real - whichever I can get around to doing. HA!
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