Thursday, November 25

A Very Buzzy Thanksgiving

It is late on this Thanksgiving Day. Our turkey has been devoured, our naps have been taken.

There are so many things I'm thankful for, but nothing more than my husband and children! (ed note: exclamation mark added at the request of Bee #1, who is snuggled in beside me, reading as I type.)

We as a family have been blessed in innumerable ways this (and every) year. So many people have poured out love on us, and for that we are thankful. Jeremy and I try to focus some of our parenting energy on teaching our children to be a blessing in other people's lives (and also not to poop on the carpet).

A few minutes ago, I bought the Bees their first Christmas present of the year. It was not the latest hundred-dollar electronic doodad. It was not Princess Bad Body Image Barbie. It wasn't anything they'll ever lay their hands on. It was a bunch of honeybees.

The Buzz About Bees
From Uganda to El Salvador, bees from Heifer International help struggling families earn income through the sale of honey, beeswax and pollen.

Beehives require almost no space and, once established, are inexpensive to maintain.

As bees search for nectar, they pollinate plants. Placed strategically, beehives can as much as double some fruit and vegetable yields. In this way, a beehive can be a boost to a whole village.

Although most Heifer partners keep bees as a supplement to family income, beekeeping can be a family's livelihood. Your gift can help Heifer provide a family with a package of bees, the box and hive, plus training in beekeeping - and this unique gift will be passed on to another family in need.


I'm in love with Heifer International, and have been for a very long time. My mother has been known to gift me with a share of an animal, or a flock of fowl each year. I once spent the night in a replicated barrio in the Global Village at Heifer Ranch. The work that Heifer does to end world hunger is nothing short of incredible.

My Bees and I want to share the love.
We're giving away another bunch of bees!
Leave me a comment and tell me one thing you're thankful for this year. Or, even better, leave me your favorite idea for something we can do as a family to enrich the lives of others.
Just one comment and you are entered to win a whole hive. I will donate to Heifer on your behalf, and send you an Honor Card with your name, or the name of someone you'd like to honor, on it.
There is so much to be thankful for, I am glad to be passing along the gift.

**Note** You can use this link to direct folks back to this giveaway:

Wednesday, November 17

My Lightning Rod

A few months ago, my family visited the Arkansas Museum of Discovery. One of the (many many) things we loved was the Energy! show. I was intrigued. In particular, I was captivated by how energy jumps so easily from object to conducive object. There were Tesla coils, a Van de Graaff generator, and lightning rods.

 Wikipedia describes a lightning rod as such:
A lightning rod is a metal rod or conductor mounted on top of a building and electrically connected to the ground through a wire, to protect the building in the event of lightning. If lightning strikes the building it will preferentially strike the rod, and be conducted harmlessly to ground through the wire, instead of passing through the building, where it could start a fire or cause electrocution.

Several nights ago I woke up with a jolt in the middle of the night. I had a terrifying dream, the details of which faded with every continuing moment of consciousness. When the sleep paralysis wore off after a few panic-stricken seconds, my hand shot out across the bed to find my husband. As soon as I felt the warmth of his skin on my fingertips, I was comforted. Sedated. Satisfied. In the same no-time it took the receptor nerves in my fingers to relay the message of touch to my brain, my brain sent a message to my heart: safe.

He is my lightning rod.

General Electric Lab, creating artificial lightning to study its behavior,
with man-made lightning striking rod atop miniature courthouse.
June 1949 Google LIFE archives

He is what protects me in the event of lightning. If lightning strikes near me, he stands in the way and it is conducted harmlessly to the ground through him, instead of passing through me, where it could cause permanent damage.

Since that night a few weeks ago, I have been hyper-aware of my night time habits. Like an involuntary muscle movement, or probably more accurately, muscle memory, my arm stretches out to find him. Every time it connects, the same words flash on the peripheries of my mind: He is my lightning rod.

So many times in our short life together, lightning has struck dangerously close to me. In each instance he has taken the blow for me, leaned into the wind and absorbed or diffused a bazillion volts so that I didn't have to. He stands taller and straighter than I do- he does not waver, he does not falter, he keeps me out harm's way. He is imperfect, yes, because he has been hit enough times that he now bears deep scars. But still he stands. He points heavenward and is prepared to help me do the same.
Should the hairs on my arms ever stand at attention, readying for the impending strike, he will be there. Should the smell of sulfer ever fill the air, he will be the one who provides me oxygen. Should a clap of thunder ever scare the pee-waddlin' out of me, he will brace me for what comes after.

He is my lightning rod.

ps- Happy birthday, boo. Thank you for being who you are.


Wednesday, November 10

Cheap and Easy*

*That title reflects the craft, not the crafter

The hubs informed me last week that this will be our Craftiest Christmas Yet. In our mutual Christmases past, we've relied heavily on credit cards and we've gone all out to buy happies for the people we love. Well. This year we don't have a credit card. Not a one. But we still have people we love. And we still want to make them happy.

So... Craftiest Christmas Yet.

(Oh, um, if you think you might be on our gift list this year, stop reading now. Don't want to spoil the possible presentry.)

Long ago, my BFF crafted me a really great present. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (right? right.), I decided to try to replicate her gift. But not for her, for someone else. Giving it to her would just be tacky.

clear glass dinner plate (though any color would do): $1.50 at the Wal-Mart store
clear glass small bowl that matches clear glass dinner plate: $1.00 at the Wal-Mart store
colored glass beads/rocks that have been sitting around my house for ages waiting to be a part of a craft: Free. (but I think they were once $3.00 at the Wal-Mart store)
hot glue gun
glue sticks

Step one:
Glue a bunch of the glass rocks around the edge of the dinner plate. Make some attempt at a pattern. Sorta fail. Or not, whatever.

(also in step one: find your nice DSLR camera.
don't use the crappy BlackBerry camera)

Step two:
Turn plate upside down, glue also-upside down bowl onto center of upside down plate.
(also in step two: take a picture. and maybe: write better directions)

Step three:
Glue some rocks in haphazard-but-darlin' way about the glued on bowl.

Step four:
Um. That's kinda it.

It took all of $2.50 (or $5.50 if you're buying the rocks), and all of 6 minutes to complete. Voila! A lovely and hand-crafted pie plate for someone you love. Or, for someone you tolerate.

It's actually pretty cute, and can be customized in all sorts of ways.

So. There. I got a head start on Christmas, and I crafted. Just don't anybody tell the Psycho Crafter, ok?


Sunday, November 7

This is how my God works

For the last few months I have been writing Conway's Community Page for the outstanding (and award winning!) Little Rock Family magazine. I have tried to convince the editor that I have no idea what I'm doing, but she won't listen.

In November's issue, I wrote about the Soul Food Cafe Mission, which is a mission unique to Conway. The folks who run the mission, Rick and Traci Harvey, go to my church. I approached them several months ago with the hopes they'd let me highlight Soul Food Cafe, and to my great joy, they obliged.
Every Tuesday, volunteers and guests gather behind Four Winds Church at 2005 Dave Ward Drive to participate in the mission. Soul Food Cafe provides a meal to eat, a bag full of food to take home, and a message of God's love and forgiveness. Guests can also find small household items and clothes- all of it is free. Local churches and companies and people donate money and food to the mission. Eventually, Soul Food Cafe will have its own facilities, but for now, they are housed in the gym at Four Winds.

food bags waiting to be picked up
This morning I asked Traci Harvey if she had seen a copy of the magazine with the Soul Food article in it. She said that she had, and that she loved it. Then she made me cry.
Apparently there is a new priest at a Catholic church in Conway.
Apparently he read the article while having breakfast at a local coffee house.
Apparently he called Rick and Traci and said his church would like to donate $1,000 to buy hens and turkeys for Thanksgiving. Traci asked if he wanted to buy the meal for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and he replied that no, he wanted to buy birds to put in the food boxes for families to take home to feed their families.
Apparently Wal-Mart is adding 10% of the money, and Soul Food Cafe will be able to spend $1,100 to buy Thanksgiving turkeys for families who might not otherwise be able to buy the main dish themselves.
Apparently, my God is a mighty God.

boxes of food at the mission
Traci thanked me for writing the article as tears leaked out of both of our eyes. I said the article had nothing to do with me, that it was all on our merciful and faithful Lord.

We are called to be faithful, not to fret about provision. To paraphrase Matthew: Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ .... For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." (6:31-32 NKJV)

If you want to help, or want more information about Soul Food Cafe, call 501-514-5325.

Monday, November 1

The Devolution of a Bookshelf, or, Why My Husband Hates Me {Indescribably Undomestic, Again}

*ed note: I know that "devolution" is not the right word here, but so what?
*ed note #2: my husband does not actually hate me.

A year or so before my father-in-law passed away, he hired a friend to make several bookcases for his house. There was lumber left over from the project, so my father-in-law commissioned the carpenter to make one custom shelf each for my family and my sister-in-law's family. We now have this beautiful low and long bookshelf that I am absolutely in love with.

I'm a little crazy about my books. And by "my books" I mean, any book that enters this house that doesn't require returning to the library. I like for my books to be ordered properly (said order cannot be explained at all, and the blueprints for that order reside solely in my head). I like for them to look nice. I like for the books to be inviting and accessible.

I am the teensiest bit OCD when it comes to my books.

And yet, at some point last week, this happened:

Top Shelf- a beautiful row of hopeful books, just waiting to be read aloud to my Bees

And Then- the middle shelf, a mish-mash of tossed books and magazines

And Then- a banana peel. I'm not sure how long it had been sitting there when I spotted it

At one point, those shelves were brimming with a bounty of books. Now they're just a place to put a peel.

I hate to admit it, but that spent banana bottom shelf is a visual metaphor for my housekeeping skills. I start out all gallant and noble and with only the best of intentions. Then, life happens around The Bee Hive and my intentions fall to the side like a month-old Highlights magazine. Finally, I just give up, eat some chocolate, throw the potassium-filled pl├ítano on the ground and wait for my husband to come talk me down off the "I'M SO CRAPPY!" ledge.

And then I start at the Top Shelf of life again.