Monday, April 7, 2014

Color Me Happy

     I know, I know.  It's been a while, but I have something very helpful for you today.  Well, it may be helpful to some.

      This past week we conducted our Women's Ministries Annual meeting. I have several friends who are in ministry with The Salvation Army and I also have friends who are in ministry with other churches.  We love to share ideas with one another!  It helps to have fresh perspectives and interests and personalities to enhance ministry.  I have had a few friends ask me to share my decorating ideas and other resources for the program we just conducted.  Rather than send each of them an email with details and pictures I thought that I would post it here.

     The theme we decided to use this year was "Color Me Happy".  I love art and colors and painting and colors and art.  I saw several things on Pinterest for an art party and I knew I wanted to have an art party as soon as possible.  My annual meeting gave me that opportunity.

Scripture you can incorporate: Psalm 105:3, Psalm 51:12, or Psalm 32:21

My ladies were encouraged to come dressed as a famous artist or in colorful clothing.  They did not disappoint me!  I came dressed a Frida Kahlo and will be withholding that photo from this post as it has the potential to frighten young children.

     The decorations did take quite a bit of prep.  Several of the seeds for these ideas came from Pinterest and I either adapted them to fit my purposes or used them as a starting point for something new.

     The best thing about having a teeny tiny multi purpose room is it doesn't take as much to make it look lively and decorated.  Your room may need more or less.

I wanted a banner for the entrance to our multi-purpose room.  I used 7 spools of ribbon - one spool each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  I found the paintbrushes at Home Depot.  I purchased about 12 of them. 
I left the packaging on the brushes and just scooted it down so it covered the bristles.  I then sealed it with painter's tape and spray painted each one. Again, I used basic rainbow colors.  To attach them to the ribbon I used small clear zip ties and just tied them on.  I purchased a spool of rainbow ribbon and tied lengths of it onto the banner in between the paintbrushes.

It is my hope that someone will be able to use these ideas to spark their own imaginations and create something fun for your ladies!  I wish I had the presence of mind to take better pictures of our meeting right before all the fun began when everything was just right. I will share with you the pictures I did take.  Scroll down for more photos and captions.
I spray painted several frames from the Family Store.  Each lady could choose their favorite and have their picture taken.  The drop cloth was the actual drop cloth I used when spray painting all my decorations.  It turned out semi tie-dyed.  We hung empty paint cans (from Home Depot) from the ceiling and attached a colorful tablecloth to the inside.  You can arrange it to look like paint is spilling out.
The palettes were sold in a pack of 10.  We placed a cupcake in the center of each one.
Colorful food!
The centerpieces were very easy to create.  I used empty vases I had lying around.  The straighter they are the better.  Put a rubber band around the vase and slip your crayons, markers, colored pencils, or markers underneath the rubber band.  Tie a ribbon of your choice around the rubber band.  Fill with flowers of your choice.  I loved these paint splattered flowers!  I found them at Sam's Club.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Elliptical Reflections

    With the new year comes new ambitions, new outlooks, rekindling of old goals.  Just like a bunch of other thirty-something year old couples careening towards forty we have joined a gym.  Our aspirations are no longer about how we look so much as they are dictated by our health.  Allen, bless his heart, still wears the exact size as he did when he was in high school.  The joke is on him though as his cholesterol and triglycerides have recently reached astronomical proportions.  And yes, I am constantly aware of the superfluous nature of my silhouette and the negative impact it has had and will have on my health.
   Which leads me to this thought: I will never be a willowy brunette.  I have learned to accept the terms and conditions of my physique.  This fact seems to scream even more loudly at me while I am at the gym surrounded by all shapes and sizes.  We are what we are.  But still, I desire to be healthier and must perform these necessary tasks. 

     Yesterday I forgot my earphones so I was forced to interact with my environment and observe my surroundings.  The following represent my observations:

     Robot Runner began her session on the treadmill at 5 miles an hour.  No warm up.  No easing into the run.  Just full on running.  She held her arms cocked at a perfect 90 degree angle and pulled in tight right against her body.  Her back was as straight as a line.  Her stride was short with a staccato tip-tap, tip-tap, tip-tap with no variance in cadence or speed.  Precise and accurate she represented the textbook definition of running.  I think to myself "I want to run like Robot Runner!"

Free Form was beside Robot Runner in an almost comical study in opposites.  Free Form was running just as fast as Robot Runner but it looked so different.  The stride was fluid and graceful.  Her arms hung loosely and swung in a soft arc.  She gave the impression that running is easy.  Her breathing wasn't labored and she seemed so relaxed.  I think to myself "I want to run like Free Form!"

     One of the nightmarish things about the gym is that there is a huge mirror running the length of the cardio area.  So I get to enjoy the ridiculous spectacle of observing myself.  If I were to choose my own moniker it would be "Awkward Woman".  I spotted an elliptical and found myself shuffling my feet trying to decide how to get on the thing.  Left foot first? Right foot first?  I decided to treat it like a horse and put my outside foot on the pedal and swing my inside foot around.  I push start and nothing happens.  However, I am not going to go through the foot shuffle debacle again by finding another working elliptical.  I start pedaling or push walking or ellipting or whatever my feet were doing and the machine magically turns on.  I go through the menu and select the appropriate categories and began merrily rolling those ellipses.  I see my unkempt hair bobbing up in an cumbersome, scratchy rhythm.  I perform my prescribed thirty minutes and hop off the machine to tackle the weight machines.

     This is where I observe the Muscle Man.  Yeah, the stereotype does exist in the context of this gym.  I think he has mistakenly used his Axe body spray as soap.  Wearing his sleeveless t-shirt that is only attached on the top of the shoulders and at the waist, he lingers at each machine placing the little stopper at the heaviest weight.  He grunts through five reps very quickly and loudly.  He continues to sit on the machine visibly ogling the women on the stair climber.  He doesn't wipe his machine off when he moves on to his next weight machine conquest.  And it bears his sweaty rear end mark.  Yep, he's that guy.  I think to myself "I do not want to use those machines after Muscle Man!"

     With all of this reflection I am forced to ask myself how often I have allowed my own perceptions of self to dictate my actions.  How often have I been presented with an opportunity, an idea, a nudging of the Holy Spirit that I shrugged off because of how perceived myself? Incapable, not smart enough, too fat, too frizzy headed, too scared, too nervous, too weird?  How often have I held back? The honest answer is too often.  And it's convicting.

  Going to the gym scares me to death.  I am an overweight woman with hideous gym clothes. But I know I have to do this.  Most of what I do on a daily basis scares me to death.  I am an overweight woman who looks frumpy in a uniform.  In both cases I'm learning to suck it up and keep moving.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Why I Love Prickly Upper Lip Kisses

     December is here!  In some cases this means that Movember or No Shave November is over.  I not only endured  several prickly kisses from my husband during this past month, I relished them.  However, I know that wasn't the case with a lot of my other friends.  Hairy lips were heckled and harangued all over the place!  My advice to ladies: Let it grow! 

     The Movember movement is relatively new, having its beginning around 2006.  It was founded in Australia by some gentlemen who began it in fun but ended up funding a movement to bring awareness to men's health.  Women's cancers, especially breast cancer have found increasing awareness and public education.  Men's cancers not as much.

     Why is this important to me?  Some of you know of my husband's battle with testicular cancer in 2006.  At the time of his diagnosis he was 27 years old.  We sat in the urologist's office completely unaware.  Our newborn son sat in his carrier sleeping peacefully.  We were there for test results which we expected to be something insignificant.  Instead we hear Allen's doctor bellow down the hallway "Does he know he has cancer?"  We turned toward one another in horror, half hoping he was yelling about another patient.  But no, he brusquely banged his way into the room plopped his 300 plus pound frame on top of his desk so his feet were swinging ridiculously back and forth and announced unceremoniously, "Mr. Tanner you have cancer". 

     So that's how life changed.  When you hear people say "in an instant" you can't fully comprehend what it means until you've had one of those "in an instant" moments. It was like we had stepped into a nightmare.

     We held hands tightly as this buffoon continued to earn first place for worst doctor of the year.  "It's good you have a child because you'll never have anymore.  We have you scheduled for surgery in 45 minutes.  We've already pre-registered you so you'll just need to head over to the hospital and take your registration form."

     After we returned home from the surgery I had an intense desire to find out what I could about this life altering disease. So my research ensued.
 Countless young men had fallen victim to this cancer that both of us had never heard of.  Not only that, the highest percentage of these young men were teenagers.  Baby faced boys who had not even graduated high school.  And their lives were snuffed out before they had a chance to figure out what was really wrong with them.  Testicular cancer is more common in young men with the majority of the victims falling between the ages of 15-40.  But no one was talking about this cancer to young men.  Most doctors weren't encouraging these young guys to check themselves.  The misconception was that they were too young to be affected by this disease. 

     I found an online forum for victims, survivors, and loved ones of individuals with testicular cancer and read it voraciously.  There were moms on this forum that had lost their young sons to this disease.  The stories were so similar and usually had a phrase similar to "he was too embarrassed to get it checked out." 

    Testicular cancer is highly curable if found early enough. But embarrassment has proven to be the nemesis of cure.  I had a horrible time getting Allen to the doctor when he began experiencing symptoms.  I know it's not a comfortable thing to talk about.  I know it's not a comfortable thing to have yourself subjected to intimate examination.

     Breast cancer awareness is everywhere with a tiny pink mascot heralding it's movement.  My mother was a victim of breast cancer and this awareness movement holds a big place in my heart.  Can we get that much awareness for men's cancers? 

     So having my husband growing a ridiculous moustache in November doesn't make me balk one  bit.  You grow that thing baby!  More than just No Shave November, this is a movement whose time has come.  Check yourself, guys.  Educate your young men. Learn what's normal and what's not.   Read more about Movember the movement.  Read more about  men's cancers. If I was more technologically inclined I'd post a link to the Ted talk from the Movember founder.  But you'll just have to google it for yourself.    

     For the reader who may not know the rest of our story: Allen has been in remission for six years.  His tumor was a stage 2C seminoma.  And as for that rude doctor and his proclamation that we would never be able to have any more children, he  may still just be surprised.  According to a fertility specialist, Allen is completely capable of having more children!  That's totally a God thing and worthy of its very own dedicated post.

     Yes, it's December and the moustaches are gone.  Be thankful for the healthy men in your life.  Ridiculous facial hair and all.




Sunday, November 24, 2013


Lately I have been consumed by those ephemeral entities of stuff and things.  They are thieving little punks and consequently have stolen months away from me. 

 And there is damage.  I stopped blogging.  I stopped running.  I gained weight.  I stopped painting.  I stopped journaling.  I fell into a season of doubt that lasted too long.   My confidence has been slashed.  My motivation is bleeding out. 

But here I am.  The bootstraps are pulled up.  The buttercup will buck up. 

I had to just start again.  I put on the extra layers and loaded my playlist with Hollaback Girl and some Paramour and went out in the cold dark and started walking.  Five minutes, fingers numbing, running, running.  Two days into the routine.  This is good.  Yep, this is good.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some

       There are some days in this ministry that leave me feeling defeated, depleted, and altogether battered.  Today was one of those days.

        In my own ministry there are more good days than bad days.  There are some incredibly joyous days that take my breath away when I contemplate the ways and wonders of my incredible, matchless God.

      And then there are days like today.
     These days start inauspiciously enough.  Calm. Peaceful. Thankful. I say a prayer.  "What a beautiful Sunday, Lord.  I'm so blessed to be in your presence.  Help me to inspire others to be excited about your Word. And Lord...

     Everything commences to blow up in my face.   A huge, spiritual warfare begins to take place within the walls of our church.  Some don't even notice.  I'm wielding a heavy sword, entrenched in combat. The casualties are great on our side. 

     I leave that building knowing that I just lost a hard fought battle.  I feel wounded.  Then I am reminded that this is just a battle.  It's a tiny little scrimmage.  I know the Overcomer.  I know the Death Conqueror. 

   Just a hint...He wins! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Hope He Never Outgrows Snuggles

      It is the season of graduations.  Pre-school, high school, and college graduates are honored and celebrated.  Even my dear old dad is off celebrating the 50th anniversary of his high school graduation this weekend.  And yes, my little guy will be graduating to the second grade.
      Because I'm a sappy mommy, I spend way too much time reflecting on how much my son has grown and changed in the past few months since first grade began.  He has lost and regrown his two front teeth which has changed his face considerably.  Another tooth came out last night which adds another dimension of change to his sweet little face.
The beginning of first grade

     When he reads to me out loud I find myself staring at this morphed face.  My little baby is in those cheeks.  Those sparkly eyes are my tiny boy's.  He thinks I'm listening intently when actually I'm devising a plan that will allow him to be just like this forever. 

Late Spring - First Grade
   First grade will be over in just three weeks.  Then he'll be seven.  These days are flying way too fast and it makes my head and my heart spin.  How do I hold on this precious time?  

    I don't know that there is an answer to that.  I'll keep writing down things he said and did.  I'll keep taking pictures of the ordinary and every day, not just the special events. I'll share posts on Facebook about silly or funny things that involve him.  And mainly I'll just keep praising God for this beautiful blessing and gift and let my heart continue to melt from all the love I hold for this child. 

     And right now I'm going upstairs to help him get to sleep.  It's past ten on a school night and he's still up.  He's nonchalantly walked downstairs for a drink of water five times.  He's gotten up to tell me about something funny that happened at baseball practice.  He's gotten up to tell me about something funny that happened at school last week.  He's gotten up to tell me that his dad said he was going to give away a Hot Wheel if he got up one more time.  I'm not going to fuss.  I'm not going to insist he go to sleep right now.  I'm going to kiss him on the forehead once and on his cheek twice.  Then I'm going to snuggle with my boy until he falls asleep.  After all, he is almost seven and by then he may not want to snuggle anymore.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I am not a "what", I am a "yes ma'am!"

     I can't help but think of my mom today.  I am so very blessed to have the mother that I did.  So many memories both hilarious and heartbreaking course through my heart and mind today. 
     In an attempt to celebrate my own mother I just want to share some thoughts.  There is no organization to these thoughts as my memories of her are so great that there is no way I could ever share even the best with you.  So you'll have to settle for some highlights. 

Camp Hoblitzelle
     My mother was a consummate lady. If she stood to her full height she reached almost 5 foot 1.  Her stature did not stop her from commanding a household of four children.  In her ministry in The Salvation Army, she served with my father as the Divisional Youth Secretary for the great and powerful Texas division.  During those five summers she was mother to countless children and teenagers.  At the beginning of this appointment she was raising three children aged six and under as well as a hormonal teenager.  Yet somehow, she kept it all together.  Three near drownings, a broken arm, and severe head trauma which led to a three day coma (yes, that is what's wrong with me) kept her busy during those years.

     The title of my post was a saying that I often heard from her.  As a young child it often puzzled me to hear her say this.  "I am not a what, I am a yes ma'am!"  This was her automatic response when any of her children answered with "what".  It was interchangeable with "huh" as well.  She wasn't a huh, either.

    As a young adult I witnessed my short mother take a crack rock out of woman's hand and stare down the drug dealer who gave it to her.  She was not afraid to stand up for those she loved.

 One thing I am very certain of is that she loved me.  This is a great gift.  Not just the fact that she loved me but that I know  without a doubt she loved me.  She loved me so very much.  I once asked her what her thoughts were on the day I was born.  She told me that all she could think about was how much hair I had and what a beautiful hairline I had.  Really?  My hairline?  Not my dimples or my blue eyes or my adorable button nose but my hairline. 

     She would often call me her little spitfire.  It was not derogatory.  She often told me she loved my strong sense of justice but wished I could channel it into something healthy and effective. 

      Perhaps one day I will write more about my mother and the many stories that I have.  But for now I am only emotionally able to just give little snapshots.  The loss of her is so raw at times.  Today is just one of those days.

     If your mother is living, answer her with a  "yes m'aam", pose for a picture with her, kiss her on the cheek, squeeze her real tight, eat your vegetables and tell her you actually like them, splurge and buy the nicer flowers, but most importantly tell her how very much you love her.