More Things I’m Enjoying . . .


1. Losing Teeth! Claire has lost another one since this picture, and I’ve been reminded how exciting it is to change and grow-up. Claire cannot walk into a room without flashing this somewhat painful looking smile just to see if anyone will notice. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes! If only we noticed each other more.

2. Hungry Girl daily tips and products! I’ve recently discovered this little gem of recipes and good-for-you ideas. I’m convicted more than ever that I need to get a little more serious about this healthy living idea and this is one place to start. Plus, she’s funny and somehow related to Spencer from iCarly. (Follow her on Twitter, too!)

3. Looking forward to road trips! In October I’m headed to Chicago for the Story Conference. Check out I’m so excited about this conference. Then, in November, my little niece Nola is having a 1st birthday party complete with tutus and top hats. Oh, yes, we WILL DANCE!

4. And still Diet Coke Lime.

5. Biggest Loser. People, last night two guys on this show gave up their spots for someone they thought needed it more. This is reality TV worth watching. Not that every season of Biggest Loser has been so honorable, but the characters this time have a genuine sense of kindness and compassion toward one another.


*This post brought to you by Michael Hyatt’s generosity. I won a copy of A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS from his blog and promised to post a review on the release date. It was truly my pleasure!

Nothing I write here about this book will do justice to how much reading it has made me think, re-evaluate, and even be grateful. BLUE LIKE JAZZ had a similar effect on me. This book, I think, messed me up even more. You want need to read this book!

I kept thinking of Rob Bell’s endorsement of this book while I read; I didn’t read this book, “this book read me.”

The foundation of A MILLION MILES is that Miller was given the divine gift of outside perspective when movie producers worked with him to make a movie of BLUE LIKE JAZZ. That’s a book of memoirs, if you’ve read it, but the producers wanted to fictionalize it – make “Don” into a character that movie goers would like. In the middle of this enlightening and sometimes painful process, Donald Miller realizes he hasn’t been living a good story.

My musician husband Dan has a theory that summarizes the concepts in this book well: “the stage isn’t going to find me while I’m sleeping in my basement.” After reading Miller’s book, we could re-phrase that to say a good story won’t find you while you are napping – you have to find the Story!

For writers, this book is gold. But the real beneficiary of Miller’s study of the elements of story is YOU. You, mom, still wondering what to be when you grow up. You, student, wondering how to get through three more years of finals. You, husband, wondering why life seems to be moving in slow motion. You, parent, wondering why your kids aren’t interested in Jesus. You, nobody, who wants to be somebody. This book is for You.

When Miller assesses his own life, one of the main things he realizes is missing is some of the very things I have in abundance: a family and community of friends, which makes me grateful. He’s honest about the way our stories here on earth don’t always work out like movies, which rings true of my own experiences. He is careful to note that just pursuing any kind of dream will not make the difference; there are qualifications to being a good story. Ultimately, Miller uses the Writer’s advice in Ecclesiastes that says we should:

Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let [God] help.

You are going to laugh out loud. You are probably going to cry.

You are never going to want to watch a parade again – you’ll only want to be in it. You are going to love this book!

Here’s a peek (click on the READ button at the lower right):

My Dooce Post for the Week

This week I did something to my lower leg. I don’t know what it was exactly. It may have happened when I was taking out my frustrations on a mini-van seat that would go up or down. I jerked, yelled, and finally gave up. Of course, then Dan calmly reached over and had it up in two seconds. Anyway, the next morning my left leg was very sore, like it feels after a work-out. (Yep, I work-out infrequently enough that I am sore EVERY time afterwards. That is sort of what I’m getting at here today.)

So I don’t pay much attention to it even though a passing thought that morning was, you know, this hurts right in that place where you are supposed to watch for blood clots when you are pregnant. (I’m not pregnant, but I have been so many times that I remember all the rules.) Off I go to church, lunch, naps, more church, and Sunday Night Football. Nothing much to see here, folks, just a routine Sunday.

Monday rolls around and I teach all day (literally, I have a night class on Mondays from 6-9). Tuesday my leg is still strangely sore, but I’m still not thinking much about it. I even put on heels. Then Tuesday afternoon I look down and see ELEPHANT CANKLE! I had swollen ankles all the time when I was pregnant, but this was just the one side. The side that I now knew contained a blot clot that would soon be rushing to my brain or heart.

I went into Serenity mode. This is it, isn’t it? I’m going to leave behind a gorgeous husband and four beautiful children because of that stupid van seat and my obviously inferior blood supply-and-carry system! I called Mom who said call Dad. Never good. I called Dad who listened to my symptoms and then calmly said, “Huh, it sounds like you’re working on a blood clot.” I knew it.

Since my pain wasn’t acute, Dad prescribed aspirin (to thin my blood?!), a little exercise (to work it out?!), and then elevation. I stood around at a volleyball game with the kids for awhile twisting and moving my foot into all kinds of positions trying to determine WHERE exactly it was hurting. Dad’s point your toe up indicator was opposite for me: I had more pain when I pointed my toes down. This information must have put his mind to ease right away because he sort of laughed at me when I called him back and said, “Dan wants me to make sure I’m not going to throw a clot to my lung in my sleep or anything.”

Still, even when you know that it is probably nothing, you still worry. I knew I wasn’t hiding it well when Dan asked me more than once, “How’s your head?” Meaning, how well are you controlling your thought life? Not so well, Mr. I Don’t Have a Bad Feeling About This and That’s Good Enough For Me! Around that point he forbid me from looking anything up on WebMD and made me promise not to google “blot clot in the leg.”

And so I laid there on my old sofa with my foot as high as pillows and blankets could make it and I watched Biggest Loser with my kids. And since I was feeling introspective anyway, I let Jesse hold my elevated foot on his lap. And I let Macy crawl all over my head. And I let them all stay up until the challenge, which is their favorite part of this reality show and which is usually not on until after their bedtime. They DVR the weigh-in and watch it early in the morning when Dan and I are still asleep. Dan put everyone to bed while I laid there and listened to the hustle of teeth brushing, allergy medicine taking, and brace strapping. Then the required rounds of last minute trips to the potty and drinks of water. Good sounds that sometimes annoy me with their longevity. This night so sweet. It was, perhaps, the last night I would hear them. : ) I didn’t sleep well that night.

But, no, I woke up the next morning after all. The pillows I had stacked under my leg had long slipped off the bed in the night and my ankle was still puffy but much less swollen. Since then my pain has lessened and my swelling continues to go down. I’ve accepted the fact that my body is not 20 years old anymore. I bought some of those little low-dose aspirin bottles. I’ve put my foot up every night but slept well. The famous words in our family, although proven to not always be true (and therein lies the problem), are from Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop: “It’s not a tum-ah!” And it wasn’t. And I’m fine. Just old and occasionally dramatic.

Friday’s Poetry

Who Needs A Story?ClaireStory

Translated from the Tigrinya

by Charles Cantalupo and Ghirmai Negash

I needed a story

And asked myself all day —

What can I write?

It kept me awake all night —

What do I have to say?

I emptied so many words

And ideas out of my brain

It would have floated away

If not tied to my heart.

Now I needed art.

Paper and pen in hand,

Tomorrow I would start . . .

But wait.

What is this all about?

Do I really need a story?

All this time and hard work —

For what?

I hate myself for thinking this.

I already have a story

That nobody knows and it’s great —

I am the story.

From the book Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World, edited by Jan Greenberg. A different photo accompanied the original poem, of course, but I thought this one made a similar statement.

What Does Your Well Speak?

Wow, was it the weekend of virtue-less acting out, or what?! I assume Serenity will take up Taylor’s defense soon, so I’ll leave Kanye’s lashing to her. I enjoy a strong illustration when it comes to the value of living a virtuous life, though, and Serena Williams’ temper fit this weekend was a perfect counterpoint.  I was still debating whether to bring up the affair at all, despite the fact that her actions during the U.S. Open tennis match were a textbook example of living without virtue, until I read this:

On the first of two “View” appearances, [Kate] Gosselin sympathized with tennis star Serena Williams’ outburst at the U.S. Open tennis tournament over the weekend.

“When you’re in the public eye, you’re held to a higher standard, but you do melt down because you’re human,” Gosselin said, acknowledging a lesson she’s learned as her marriage of 10 years has come to a very public end.

And then I couldn’t resist any longer. Say again? Held to a “higher standard”? Are you implying, Ms. Gosselin, that little ol’ me with no reality show would have been perfectly justified in yelling obscenities at a line judge? Since I’m not in the public eye, I could get away with that?

Ridiculous. What Kate Gosselin, and all of us, has to realize is that our character will define us whether we are in the spotlight or not. As Jesus warned, “It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.” (Luke 6:45 in The Message). In other words, what you are on the inside is going to show on the outside. And it isn’t always pretty.

Ever been surprised at your own ugly reaction? Marveled at the way you attacked someone you loved? Of course. We all have these issues. But we have hope for transformation. We aren’t doomed to lives of regret. We can be known by our good character, our virtue. The key is in practicing. As we fill our hearts and souls with good things, we fill a well from which good things can flow.

It is out of our abundance that our mouths speak.

Better make sure that abundance isn’t going to wreck your reputation or cost you a Grand Slam title!