Sunday, December 13, 2009

Deeper Still - Part 2

It’s hard to believe that a full week has passed since the Deeper Still event in Oklahoma City. I am once again sitting in our church while the Peanut practices for the Christmas program for next week and marveling at the fact that Christmas is really that close. At the same time, Deeper Still is still very fresh in my mind and I hope it stays that way.

Friday night started the whole weekend off with a bang. I mean seriously, when the matriarch of women’s bible study is the first thing you see, anticipation is all that’s left for the rest of the conference. How do you top Kay Arthur?

She was real and relevant and FUNNY. This was NOT your momma’s church service. I am currently involved in one of her inductive precept studies at a church here in Austin. Obviously, I didn’t make it last week. I almost can’t wait to walk in tomorrow afternoon and be asked where I was. The answer is still formulating in my mind. Sarcasm is an art form, you know. 8^)

The theme for Friday night: “REST is the activity of faith for this anxious moment, this trial, this test, this tribulation. **Hebrews 11:1-3, 12:1-2**

Saturday morning started around 7:30. My first thought as Connie and I walked into the arena was “I wonder how many gallons of coffee the concession people had to make for 9,000 people.”

Hey! It was early. That’s where my mind goes and to be completely honest, I’m still curious.

When the program started on Saturday the first thing we were treated to was…

BETH MOORE RAPPING!! Oh yes she did! And she was good, y’all!! Even Kay got her groove on. Girlfriend was gittin’ jiggy. And you see that little guy there in the middle. That’s one of Priscilla’s kidlets. Look up “cute” in the dictionary. This little guy’s picture is right there…along with his brother.
His mom is who started off our day. I had never seen Priscilla Shirer speak and had never read any of her books so I had no idea what to expect. The one thing I did know was that, if she was hangin’ with this bunch, she was a force all her own.

I was right. It doesn’t happen often so remember that. She was animated and visual, real and relevant. I now have a list of books and studies I’d like to do by this woman. She will definitely be a favorite going forward. The woman can make her point. If we walked away with anything from Priscilla’s message it was that no matter what we can imagine God doing, He is able to go:

“exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond beyond anything my mind can imagine”. **Ephesians 3:20-21**

Saturday afternoon crowned the event with Beth Moore. Would you believe it…not a single hair story?

At this point I believe she was telling us how she and her staff had been “punked” not too long ago. Which is funny…kinda, but it spiraled into probably the most relevant message of the entire weekend. We desperately need to obtain and exercise some level of discernment. Especially in today’s world when we are bombarded with information over the internet and through the media without any research to back up what we’re being told. Blindly believing what we’re told and what we read and refusing to question it, either because it sounds good or like what we already believe or because we don’t want to “judge”, is without a doubt the most dangerous position we can put ourselves in right now.

We have got to know “when to go with our spiritual gut”. **1 Timothy 3:14-4:5**

Throughout the weekend, we were treated to the voice of Travis Cottrell. What an incredible, almost otherworldly voice. More than once, when he took to a solo, the rest of the arena fell silent and just listened. Here is just a taste:

I think Connie summed up the weekend beautifully when she said: “If you ever get to go see one of these teachers......Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, or Priscilla Shirer or even better yet if they bring Deeper Still to an area near you...........RUN to it as fast as you can. You'll never regret it.”
Connie’s got a way with words. 8^)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deeper Still - Part 1

I am sitting in my church’s foyer as the Christmas choir prepares to practice upstairs. It is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite sounds (that, and galloping horse hooves. Go figure…) I LOVE this season. I love everything about it, but mostly I love the music and the meaning and emotion behind it. Maybe that’s why last weekend was so incredible. If you’ve never had the opportunity to hear a 9,000 voice, all-female choir, you’re missing an amazing experience.

Last weekend I met my friend Connie in Oklahoma City for Deeper Still. I’ve been to women’s conferences before so I knew I was in for something special. It was made even better because Connie had never been to anything like this and I got to see much of it through her eyes. The weekend did not disappoint…for either of us.

It all started Friday night which brought a bonus beyond great music, a lot of laughs and deep truths. As I mentioned in my last post, The Pioneer Woman had these great t-shirts. Because my shirt was new and therefore still clean, I wore it on Friday night. Now, at this point, it is important to remind you that I was one itty bitty individual in a sea of 9,000 individuals. It’s important because of what happened while standing in line at the concession stand.

I was talking to Connie when I heard from behind me, “THERE IT IS!!!” I turned around to see a group of young women staring at…me. The only reason this didn’t completely weird me out (to borrow a phrase from my kids) was because they were also wearing Wild Olive t-shirts. They have a very distinct and beautiful style to them. After a very brief conversation, I discovered that one of the young women WAS Wild Olive and had designed the t-shirt for PW. It was the first time she had seen it on someone out in public. Having remembered my camera this time and being the true dork that I am, I asked for a picture.

As I was walking away, I heard one of her friends exclaim, “you’re famous!” And honestly, that made the whole dork thing totally worth it because, aside from being incredibly talented, Colleen was a very sweet young lady and, quite frankly, she deserves to feel a little famous. I’m glad I could help. (FYI: great gift idea)

That was at the beginning of the night. The remainder was just as much fun. The weekend consisted of three speakers: Kay Arthur, Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. Two of whom I was already very familiar with. Kay Arthur and Beth Moore are two of my favorite teachers. They are lively, funny and engaging. The third was Priscilla. I hadn’t seen her before and hadn’t read any of her books. That won’t last long. I’ve already got a list.

I’ll go into more detail tomorrow but for now, just know that three great ladies equaled one incredible weekend.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Peanut and I went to a book signing

Wow! I didn't post at all in November! That's bad. That's real bad. Oh well, over the past weekend I racked up a good week's worth of posts so I promise I'll make it up to you...starting now.

This past Thursday the Peanut and I found ourselves, sort of accidentally, at a book signing for The Pioneer Woman's new cookbook. It's something I've looked forward to since she announced her book tour schedule. Unfortunately, the events of the day made it impossible for me to go...or so I thought.

I got the Peanut home from school and she had a mountain of homework that took up every minute until I looked at the clock and realized that I had exactly 10 minutes to drive 30 minutes away, pick up my boy from school and get his hiney to a technical rehearsal. The rehearsal started at 5:00 and was on the other side of town. Wrist bands for the book signing were being given out at 4:30 and PW wasn't scheduled to show up until 7:00. There was no way I would have time to go home and get ready.

Imagine our surprise when, on our way home from droping said son off, my car seemed to detour right in front of the book store. I just happened to be on the phone with Maverick at the time.

"I don't want to go. Peanut is with me. I've got barn clothes on. I need to get ready for my trip to Oklahoma City in the morning. And I'm not a fan of crowds. I'll just go home. There's probably not any parking anyway. And if there is, there won't be any wristbands left."

"You've been talking about this for a long time. Why don't you just pull in. If you get lucky and find a parking spot, go in and see if there are any wristbands. If not, at least you can say you tried."

"Well, OK." (that was serious arm twisting) I pulled in. Found a parking spot. They had wristbands and plenty of books. So we hung around.

This is where I get the mother of the year award. By this time it was after 6:00 and Peanut hadn't eaten yet. So what do you do when there's just the book store coffee shop and less than an hour before one of your favorite bloggers takes the stage? Why you feed your child hot chocolate and a big ol' slab of chocolate cake for dinner, of course! I am now the Peanut's favorite parent. Sorry, Mav.

While I don't have an exact count, there were a few hundred people there. PW was every bit as funny and personable as she is on her blog. A very sweet lady. As was Marlboro Man, her mother and all of her children. Peanut was able to meet her younger daughter in the toy section and proclaimed that they were now "good friends." Seriously, if you have not yet checked out her crazy life of food, kids, cows and horses, pick a time when you've got an hour or two to get lost in her stories and recipes and dig in. You'll be hooked.

Of course, while standing in line to have my book signed I remembered once again that I was still wearing barn clothes, had no makeup on and left my camera at home...AAARRRRGGGHHHH!Enter Kim. Kim was there with her way too adorable little girl and we were standing in line together. In other words, we had to time to chat. She was sweet enough to allow me the use of her camera and today e-mailed this picture.

Not bad considering I left everything at home: Camera, nice clothes, make up, hair, decent manicure. It was still a great evening.

And I can't forget the shirt. These beautiful shirts that PW had designed as gifts to those that came out and saw her during her tour. The Peanut and I both got one. Mine followed me to Oklahoma City where it sparked a whole other encounter...

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Billboard

Did you ever find yourself driving down the road, minding your own business, maybe had the family along for a nice evening out, when you look up and see a 20-foot picture of your kid on the side of the road? Don't you just hate that?

Yeah, me too. Happened to me and my family on Friday night. See?

I was driving and almost left the road! Here's the story behind the billboard:

We volunteer with the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. Its a rescue and educational organization for horses, donkeys, etc. Every year we do a Horse Expo to promote the rescue and raise money for the horses. Last year the little guy in the picture was there. His name was Thunder. He'd been around for a while and the previous owner reported that he was broke to ride. Unfortunately, there wasn't anyone near his foster home that was small enough to test that claim out. Enter the Peanut up there ^^^^^...

Somewhere around 6:30 the next morning (it's never too early to ride), the Peanut hopped on little Thunder and the two of them went off and had a grand time.

A few months later the rescue was tossing around marketing ideas and someone looked into billboards. They put out the call for pictures of kids with their horses and we tossed some that were taken that morning into the mix. The next thing I knew, we got a message that everyone loved the pictures and they would use one. We all thought "what fun."

The thing is, the billboard was only supposed to show up in Arkansas. So when we were all driving out to the Expo Center for this year's Horse Expo and saw it right there on the side of the road by the Austin Airport...well, let's just say that steering was suddenly not in the forefront of my mind. Though it quickly made its way back there.

Of course, the next morning we had to stop and get a picture:

'Cause seriously, when you go to school on Monday and say "Hey, guess what! I'm on a billboard!" whose gonna believe you?



Monday, October 5, 2009

Living on Half: An introduction to Money Mondays

This time last year life was good. My husband was gainfully employed, we had just made the decision to start growing our little home-based internet business so I had a small, part-time income while still staying at home and I was a year from finishing my much belabored degree in business management. Of course, to everyone with half an eye on the economy it was clear that the good times were not going to last much longer.

Sure enough, five months later life hit. My husband was laid off after almost 20 years with the same company and our income was limited to my little part-time pittance. NOT enough to support a family of four with one kid barely out of college and the menagerie of animals that call our place home. Not to mention the debt! Yeah, that stuff we’ve all been told for a couple decades now that we absolutely positively CANNOT live without, even though every other generation before ours recognized its dangers and would never even have considered living outside their means. Uh huh…that stuff. We had two car payments, two credit cards, student loans and a mortgage. Within a couple months of my husband being full-time with our little company our income had increased a little bit, but we are still making less than half of what we were.

So how do you manage debt and bills that reflect one income when your actual income is suddenly less than half that? I don’t know. But I do know it can be done. I know it because I am determined…and stubborn. Just ask my husband, he'll tell ya. I will teach myself how to cut, scrimp and make do until the things I love and that matter most will fit in this new lifestyle.

And I’d like to take you on this journey with me. Every Monday will be Money Monday and I will share with you some the of things I have already learned, some I have yet to learn and, I hope, some of your great money-saving ideas. We’ll share recipes, web sites, personal triumphs and struggles. I know I'm not alone on this little road of mine and, even if you don't share my situation, you probably want to learn how to do more with what you have too.
Oh, but don't hold me to the EVERY Monday thing. I'm a little on the ADD side and I may get distracted.

Monday, September 7, 2009

School's Out for - EVER

But wait! Its September. School is just starting you say. Not for this middle-aged coed. In late August, a mere 24 years after graduating high school and 19 years after getting my Associates, I have FINALLY finished my BS in business. The one thing I learned more solidly than any other fact was that there is a reason you are supposed to do this stuff when you're in your 20s and life has afforded you the luxury of being narcissistic. YEESH! That was painful to get through. BUT, it is finished and I can now stop being the flakiest person I know.

Although, being the flakiest person I know did have certain advantages:

1. There was a ready excuse to get out of virtually anything without hurting anyones feelings; "sorry, I have to study."

2. The house can completely fall apart and nobody gets to lay the blame on mom; "hey, I was studying! The rest of you lazy people were just sitting around watching the fungus between your toes grow."

3. You can conveniently "lose touch" with annoying people because "sorry, I've just had too much going on with school."

4. The last week of every term is always so crazy that the hubby takes over the cooking. (in my case, that's a very good thing)

5. There's no better excuse than writing a paper or studying for mid-terms to get out of the house and head to Starbucks .... you know, so you can get away from the chaos and "focus".

Hmmmmmm ... maybe I should think about that MBA...

And now, since I'm officially all educated and stuff, I feel a must interject some culture. Ahh, the classics...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Holy Crap!!! I WON!

How the heck do you win a blogging contest before you've even started your blog? I don't know, but my buddy Jace over at Sawdust and Cowpies had contest...and I won. Go figure... So I figured, if I won this thing, I better get my hiney in here and at least introduce myself and tell y'all to stay tuned.

You see, I've had the idea for this blog in my head for over a year now. It's kinda developed as I've been finishing school, starting a new business, raising three kids and trying to convince all the animals around here that I really am the boss. All but the latter has been working out pretty well. At this time next week I will be taking my last final and finishing my undergraduate degree in business. It's been a LONG time coming and finishing has become the priority of life for the last several months. But more about that later.

So who am I? My name is Susan. I'm a self-proclaimed fabriholic and quilt addict. My husband and I work horse rescue with a group in Texas called Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. You may have seen our president on Nightline recently. But more about that later. And I am incredibly cheap. I LOVE to save money and help others do the same. Since last February our family has lived on less than half of what we once made. But more about that later.

In short, if you like laughing, sewing, horses, kids and penny pinching, you'll wanna come back and check up on what's happening down here on the Patchwork Ranch. But first, I gotta get done with school so...

More about that later! 8^)