Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Expiration Date

"Is it okay to use cheese that has mold on it? Can't I just cut off the mold and use the good part?"

This was a recent question on the new Rachel Ray television show. It got my attention because I'm guilty of letting food park in my refrigerated "garage" too long. I hate to let things go to waste, but I won't use food that might make me sick. So how do you know?

Rachel Ray answered the cheese question by saying the moldy cheese will never taste as good again, even if the mold is removed, UNLESS it was a moldy cheese to begin with, such as gorgonzola. She went on to the next offensive items in the refrigerator, those past their expiration date. We've heard it time and time again that the expiration date is there for a reason, but what if the date is a "sell by" date instead? Then how do you know if the item is still okay? Usually it is the milk that has a sell by date, and there is an easy way to tell if it has gone bad, if you are willing to recruit your nose for the job!

One tip I learned early in my marriage was how to know if eggs are still fresh (and these CAN be used past the expiration date). Put the suspicious egg in a bowl of salted cold water. If it floats, throw it out. If it sinks, it is fresh. If it swims somewhere in the middle of the water-neither floating or sinking-it is safe to use for baking or for deviled eggs, but not fresh enough for an eggs and bacon breakfast.

All this talk about expiration dates got me to thinking about our time to leave this Earth. Some believe when it is your time to go, it will happen no matter what you do to alter the date and time. I know a few cases documented in the Bible of people who actually were able to bargain with God for a later expiration date.

One thing we should focus on more than the expiration date is the "use by" date. Yep-I fooled you. That is the same as the expiration date. You know what that tells me? All creation is meant to be USEFUL to the very end. But keep in mind that usefulness to God might be different from the "usefulness" our guilt-trips try to persuade us to do. While service is good, what God really finds useful is when we are fellowshipping with Him. This is what He created us for.

In the great egg test of life, I hope God finds that I sink rather than float. And if you knew my swimming ability, you would realize just how possible that might be!

Feeling expired? Trade it in for feeling INSPIRED.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Gratitude List

I think I've missed posting my gratitude list the past two weeks-so I better get with it! If I can't be thankful, I can't really be living, right?

I'm grateful for:

1. Breakfast cereals eaten dry as snacks. Yum!

2. Jars of homemade vegetable soup delivered in a gift bag yesterday along with two very nice lotions. Pampering for my skin and my belly-how nice is that? Thanks to Les and Juanita for that.

3. A phone call from my Aunt Verna. I'm grateful that this past year has helped me reconnect with my three paternal aunts-a true blessing to me. I think when my cousin died it was a wake-up call for all of us. I've received cards from all 3 aunts in the past month-how thoughtful!

4. Phone calls from friends-one is even willing to come over and shave my legs since I can't bend-now THAT'S a friend!

5. Donatos pizza-how convenient to call for delivery. I love 1/2 pepperoni and 1/2 Hawaiian on thin crust.

Pizza is good for when your cupboards are getting empty. I haven't been to the grocery story for over two weeks-I'm overdue. Russ almost ate yogurt yesterday that had expired! I did have an outing on Friday-to go eat a grilled cheese sandwich at Frishe's Big Boy (had a gift card). We were going to go to Kroger after we ate, just to pick up 5 items, but we had forgotten my remote control programmer for my spinal cord stimulator. I'm not supposed to go through the security gates at stores without turning off the stimulator, so that means we aborted the grocery trip and Russ did it on his way home. But...I'm really due to get out of the house again-cabin fever is setting in!

I go tomorrow for my first post-op visit, and also for a visit with Medtronics to reprogram my device.

I'm definitely on the mend!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

We Have A Winner!

Congrats to J. Arnold of PA for winning the book drawing for _Coldwater Revival_. I just finished the review copy and I'm glad to pass it on to one of my readers. I'll be posting a new contest soon-so check back often to enter.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Jazzy Psyched Us Out!

Jazzy, our 10 month old Boston Terrier, thinks all the company we have been having are here to see her. It's all about JAZZY, don't you know?! So, if someone comes with a meal in their arms, we try to put Jazzy out, and she can watch us visit from the French Doors on the deck. She gives a side show for our friends by jumping sky high, like she is on an invisible pogo stick. She can jump higher than our deadbolt.

Well, yesterday Betty and Bev came by with some KFC, and they felt sorry for Jazzy. They insisted it was okay to let her in. Jazzy smothered them in sloppy wet kisses and let them know she was in love at first sight. We didn't want Jazzy to overwhelm them, so Russ scooped up Jazzy and held her while we chatted. Bev found one of Jazzy's balls and decided to throw it for Jazzy to chase. Jazzy acted like she was all excited to chase the ball, but as soon as Russ let her down, she headed for our guests-to give them round two of kisses. We tried this three different times, and each time, Jazzy acted like she would chase the ball, but would instead go give kisses. It was hilarious.

It hurts to laugh, but it hurts NOT to laugh, if you know what I mean!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now I Lay Me Down


Psalm 4: 8, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety."

As a child, I was forced to slow down long enough to take a nap. Back then "nap" was the opposite of fun. I hated missing anything life might be throwing my way. I didn't realize why I needed naps and felt they were a waste of time. When I was quite young, though, I enjoyed the prequel to the nap, on my mother's lap. I recall the gentle back and forth rocking motion as we sat atop our antique rocking chair, while she sang "She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain." The rhythm of the chair in motion, the soothing notes sung, and the loving caress all made me feel loved and safe.

I'm on my way to take a nap as I write this article. Now that I am grown I believe the afternoon nap is the best free indulgence available. It doesn't discriminate. It is open to poor and rich, young and old. Naps restore my energy and renew my mental focus. My body wakes to less pain and more vigor.

But even if I didn't receive any benefits from napping, the process of taking a nap would be enough reason for me to set aside time for this luxury. I'm able to turn off the distracting burdens and to-do lists that pile up in my mind and heart.

When I walk toward the bedroom and say, "Jazzy, let's take a nappy" she prances eagerly by my side and jumps up to nuzzle next to me in bed. She is an excellent nap companion. Everyone needs a pet who is a nap fan!

Soon my breathing slows down, and the world fades away. Slumber. Sweet slumber. What a gift from God. He promises to give me rest, and I gladly receive that gift.

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray I slumber long and deep.

May all my cares be whisked away
And peaceful joy be here to stay.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Expect The Unexpected

You know how there is a book called, "What To Expect When You Are Expecting"? There needs to be a book called "What To Expect When You have Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery." Amazing the things they just FORGOT to tell us.

I guess if we should have learned anything by now in life, it would be to expect the unexpected. And so it is with this surgery. I didn't expect so much pain, or bruising. I did expect to be bedridden longer and I'm not (get too stiff if I lay very long). I expected smaller incisions-surprise! I didn't expect to sleep well, but I have been sleeping great (probably thanks to the Percocet). I didn't realize just how dependent I would be on someone for the basic things like dressing or scratching the top of my head. I didn't expect the restrictions to, well, RESTRICT me so much. Cramps my style! For example, I wanted to make potato soup for lunch. Russ had to fetch the potato for me, and the pan. And I had to add water to the pan a little at a time while it sat on the burner, rather than holding it under the faucet, due to the weight. Everything I take for granted must be reevaluated these 8 weeks of recovery. I'll learn to appreciate my independence more when I get it back. One sign that I will have "arrived" is when I'm allowed to drive-in 6-8 weeks time.

Good news: fever is reduced and the redness connecting the two incisions is from bruising rather than infection. How did I know? It started turning orange/yellow.

Speaking of colors-I truly believe I've got my own rainbow or coat-of-many-colors going on with this bruise. How can one bruise embrace my belly and wrap underneath my arm and land somewhere on my back? ONE bruise! Perhaps my skin and soft tissue is revolting from the surgical attack, or maybe the fat cells are wondering why they weren't siphoned off and deemed medically unnecessary.

And my hair...boy is it a sight! Right now, I really don't care. Before surgery, I thought I would care what I looked like (making sure I had enough clothes that would work, and people to do my hair). But now, if I get a shower every other day and clean clothes on, I really don't care if I'm ready for the red carpet. But my really IS awful. How in the world can I develop bed-head from hair that was combed straight down like a Peter Pan cut, when I don't toss and turn in bed? However Russ positions me for my sleep position is how I wake up in the morning. Stiff as a board. Sometime in the night, the hair fairies came out to play in my tresses to distress them beyond repair. How important is a hairstyle in the full scheme of things anyway?

Yes, the surgeon left my sense-of-humor gene intact. Laughter really is a merry medicine to the deepest of the deepest hurts-even to the bones.

Thanks for praying-please keep it up!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


RE: My spinal cord stimulator surgery

Just a quick note to let you know I'm home. I had a rough night-slept for about 20 minute intervals in the hospital. The hospital staff was awesome,though. I had to deal with nausea this morning after breakfast, so took a couple of phenergans so that I wouldn't get sick on the way home (about a 35 minute drive).

I am in a great deal of pain. Especially when I have to change positions. I'm using all of my positioning techniques (legs not back, log rolls,etc.) I have bruising around the two incisions (each incision is about 5 inches). But I have a LOT of bruising connecting the two incisions (where the tubing is the "conduit" for the wires connecting the pacemaker type device to the electrodes in my back). That bruise is probably 3" by 5"at its biggest. They said the bruising will increase over the next couple of days. I'm pretty swollen too.

The device is working so/so. The guy who programmed it for my surgery was different than the nurse who programmed it for the trial, and so it is set up different than with what we are familiar. So, we will experiment with the settings, and then will also get it tweaked when I go back for my post-op in 2 weeks.

I've been sleeping a lot since I got home, but that's not a bad thing.

Thanks for praying!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Don't Drink The Water!

We saw this photo on a CD at the bookstore. Loved it! (Remember-we own a 10 month old Boston Terrier)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Too cute!

Someone sent me this photo, and I thought it was too cute not to share!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Author Interview: Nancy Jo Jenkins

I'm reading a great book right now, and I can't wait to tell you about it. Since I'm not finished with it yet, I can't write a full review at this time, so I thought I'd share an author interview with you. If you are interested in reading this book, e-mail me or leave a comment, and I will have a drawing of the names. I will send the winner the book when I'm finished with it.

About the Book: Just three weeks before her wedding, Emma Grace Falin has returned to her hometown of Coldwater, Texas, consumed by a single, burning desire. She must confront the guilt and shame of a devastating event that has haunted her since childhood.

"...What a stunning debut novel."

--Wendy Lawton, Literary Agent, author of Impressions in Clay

"An astonishing debut! Coldwater Revival is a hauntingly beautiful story made doubly so by Nancy Jo Jenkins stunning, lyrical writing. I was mesmerized from cover to cover."

--Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and A Vow to Cherish

Nancy Jo Jenkins Press Pic


Q. How long did it take you to write Coldwater Revival?

A. I perceived the idea for Coldwater Revival in June, 2003, and completed the manuscript in March, 2005.

Q. Tell us about your journey from writer to published novelist.

A. During my teaching career, I dreamed of the day when I could write the stories that continually swam around in my head. I didn't know at the time that it would take me four or five years of attending workshops, conferences, retreats, lectures, and of studying tapes, books and other materials before I was ready to put my newly-acquired knowledge to use, and begin writing the stories that God had prompted me to write. In March, 2004, at the Mount Hermon Christian Writing Conference, I submitted a book proposal to Steve Laube (Literary agent), and Jeff Dunn, (Acquisitions Editor) for RiverOak. Both gentlemen asked me to send them all I had written on Coldwater Revival, which at the time was 109 pages. During the summer of 2004, both men offered me a contract. My book was published by RiverOak and released in May, 2006.

Q. The agony and healing Emma Grace went through are so real. What personal
experiences did you draw from to portray Emma Grace's feelings so well?

A. There was a time in my life when I suffered with depression, though it was not due to a death in the family, as Emma Grace's was. At the time, it seemed that I was in a daily knock-down, drag-out fistfight with sadness. I was truly blessed in that I was never prescribed any kind of medication to treat my depression, which proved to be relatively short-lived. But I did receive counseling, which was just what I needed to win the battle with this debilitating condition. During that time of depression I endured many of the symptoms that Emma Grace suffered through. Excessive sleeping was about the only symptom we did not share. There were times when I couldn't swallow my food, and times when I could almost touch the face of that same blackness that almost overwhelmed Emma Grace. Her sorrow and guilt were difficult scenes for me to write, and I found myself crying each time I wrote about Emma Grace's sadness and the continual ache in her heart.

Q. Emma Grace loses all desire for life when her brother dies - not eating or talking, just living in the blissful cocoon of sleep. Do you have any advice for folks who are in that dark place right now?

A. Communication was the key that unlocked the door of depression for me. Communicate with God, even if the only words you can utter are the words, "Help me." But I also benefited greatly from talking to a certified counselor; one who was trained in helping people express their pain, their needs, their fears. I hope that anyone who feels sad and lonely for an extended length of time, will contact their pastor, or someone who can direct them to a Christian counselor.

Q. Emma Grace's grandmother lives in the city while the rest of the family lives in the country. Why do you think she didn't move out to the country with the rest of the family long ago?

A. Granny Falin immigrated from Ireland to America with her husband and son when Emma Grace's papa was just a lad. This family shared a dream about their new country. It would be a place where they could find work and prosperity, raise their family, and put down roots. Even the Great Hurricane of 1900 couldn't wash those dreams from Granny's heart. Though her only remaining child lived a hundred miles away in the rural township of Coldwater, Texas, Granny could never leave Galveston. The island and the sea that surrounded the island were her home now. It was where the ashes of her husband and three children were buried. It was the home she and her husband had dreamed of during their desperate years together in Ireland. If she left Galveston and moved to Roan's home, she would be giving up the dream she had shared with her husband.

Q. Papa and Elo have a tough time showing their emotions. Elo, especially, is so hard to read in the book. Why do you think some people hole up inside themselves rather than sharing their emotions?

A. I believe we are born with a portion of our personality already deeply embedded within us. Some people are reticent to express their feelings and emotions, while others have no problem whatsoever in expressing what they feel or think. I have known many individuals who are like Elo; people we sometimes refer to as "the strong, silent type". Papa and Elo are powerful protectors and providers who waste little time and effort on words. Both of these men feel that "actions speak louder than words". Added to that is the fact that Elo feels extreme discomfort when his mother and sisters are emotionally distraught, therefore, he maintains a rigid demeanor, in part, to provide a stable link in the chain that makes up his family - The Falins.

Q. Do you have other books coming out soon?

A. Thank you for asking about my upcoming books. I'm about to submit my proposal for a novel entitileld, "Whisper Mountain". This story takes place in the early 1900's in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is the story about lost love, and a desperate woman's journey to fill the void that deprivation and loss have left in her heart. The story has elements of mystery, intrigue, murder, and of course, romance. I'm very excited about this story. I've also begun writing a sequel to "Coldwater Revival" which will parallel both Emma Grace's life after 1933, and the adventurous trek Elo begins when he falls in love.

Monday, September 04, 2006

If They Were Psychic-Humor Contest

One of the humor writing contests suggested writers make a list of "if this thing/person was psychic, what this result would be." I enjoyed a five minute exercise of letting my creative juices flow. Some are funny, some aren't, but that's how you find the ONE that works (you go through all the clunkers to get to the treasures!). Why not have fun with this little exercise yourself?

If doctors were psychic....they'd lose their house in Miami from running less tests.

If dogs were psychic...oh wait—they are!

If teachers were psychic...they'd know when the dog really ate the homework.

If priests were psychic...there'd be no need for confession.

If pastors were psychic...they'd see through that compliment of "good sermon, Pastor."

If police were psychic...they'd only do a body cavity search if it was absolutely necessary.

If turtles were psychic...they'd know better than to cross the road.

If joke hearers were psychic...they'd know why the chicken crossed the road.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Photo Shop Me!

Recently, the news reported that Katie Couric and Rosie O'Donnell had "retouched" photos in PR shots. Someone behind the scenes thought it would be kind to put Katie and Rosie on instant diets by reducing inches before our very eyes. Okay-not inches, but it would have been if the photos were lifesize!

How convenient to just erase any unwanted flaws. Not only do you look good in the photo, but it provides an easy disguise when you meet people on the streets. They will never recognize you without your stage makeup and your retouched figure and face. I'm not sure what they do about live shots on television though. No time to retouch anything. I guess they just use special filters on the cameras, and hope people think the camera adds 10 pounds.

I haven't followed the photo shop route when it comes to retouching my photos. I hear it can be quite fun. But I must admit that the photo on this site is a photo from 2002 when I was about 60 pounds thinner. UGH.

No worries-I'll just go on the photo shop diet.

No pain, no gain. To my disdain, it's because I'm vain.