Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Packing For A Trip

This year I'm going to be flying at least eight times that I know of, and it's just January! So that number could go up if I book any more events. I leave tomorrow morning for Orlando, where I'll be the retreat speaker for the Word Weavers. It's going to be a great weekend with the theme SuperMarketing. It will be a play on what we do to market ourselves and our books, and on the supermarket. The team has planned an imaginary WeaverMart store, for games and decorations and I might even take a trip to WeaverMart! I'm packing. I'm getting pretty good at this. I have a few suggestions for others who are traveling this year and want some tips.

I use the spacebags designed for luggage. It doesn't require a vacuum cleaner. I put all my clothes inside the bag. Lay down on it to squish all the air out until it looks like an astronaut's meal. It gives me more space in my suitcase AND surprisingly, it helps with some of the wrinkling.

With what wrinkling does happen--as soon as I get to my destination I pull out my clothes and hang them up. Then I retrieve an empty spray bottle I always pack, fill it with simple water, and spritz my clothing. This freshens it up and the wrinkles fall out over night. No need for fancy products!

I try to pack my clothing in a couple of basic color combinations so I can coordinate them like grown-up garanimals. And it limits my shoes and jewelry needs.

I have a travel notebook that has all my important contact information for people where I'm going, for people from home in case something happens to me, my medical information, my agendas, my boarding passes, etc. This time it will include the cell phone number of the person picking me up since she will be hanging out at the cell phone parking lot waiting for a call--then she will pull up to the arrivals where I'll be waiting for her. This saves time and money and also reduces the number of cars hanging out around arrivals waiting for their passengers--a security thing.

I'll write more travel tips in the next day or two. In the meantime, please pray for my travels. I never take safety or security for granted. I rest in God's hands--as do each one of us!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rio Grande Bible Institute

During Summer 2009, I met the wonderful faculty and staff of the Rio Grande Bible Institute. They used our church facility to meet for their staff retreat. There was an instant connection, like they were members of my family. And my heart was blessed to observe their joy in action. They had a clear sense of purpose and a fired up passion for outreach and ministry to the Spanish-speaking world.

Recently, Russ received a call from Robert Crane, Director of Ministerial Advancement at the institute. He invited us to go to Edinburg, TX to visit the campus. Thursday we made the 50-minute trip. Yes--that close to home!

First we dined at the famous Echo hotel with Bob, along with the president of the institute, Dr. Larry Windle, his wife, and about 20 guests and staff from Bibleville. The hotel was like stepping back into the high society of yesteryear. And great food!

Bibleville is a Christian retirement center with some all-year-round residents as well as hosting hundreds of Winter Texans and locals at Bible conferences, music concerts, trips to Mexico and ministry opportunities. They have about 100 RV hook-ups and over 100 mobile homes available.

After lunch, we drove to the campus and had a lovely tour. The weather was 84 degrees (yes, in January!), and the landscaping was colorful, so it made for a good day. Felt like I was playing hooky or something.

The Bible Institute is a place where Spanish-speaking students can attend courses for training in Bible, theology and Christian education. The goal is to equip workers for the ministry.

The campus also houses a Missionary Language School, where missionaries preparing for the field can come to learn Spanish in a 10-month intensive study. They are often paired with a national from the region of Latin America where they will be ministering, to assure they learn the dialect and slang phrases of their region.

There is also a correspondence school and video ministry for distance learning. And Radio Esperanza reaches thousands of Spanish-speaking listeners in South TX, Mexico and beyond. They often receive 5,000 calls per month in response to radio programming, with requests for prayers and counseling.

The staff and faculty of the institute come from all over to serve the Lord here, and they are financially supported through churches and individuals. This is a true mission work.

Besides Bibleville, there is also a Winter Worker Program for retired friends who travel South to avoid cold weather. They agree to work a certain number of hours per week (I think it is 28 hours), in exchange for a free RV hook-up. But they get so much more. The fellowship alone is reward enough.

We saw retirees painting desks, doing maintenance, working on landscaping, and quilting blankets to take in to Mexico. It was clear this institute could not function without volunteerism and mission support.

I enjoyed the tour, and now have a better idea how to pray for Rio Grande Bible Institute. I'm sure they would appreciate your prayers as well.

You can learn more about it here:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

American Pickers

Monday night I watched the premiere episode of American Pickers on the History channel. It was right up my alley. (Mom--you would love it too!) In fact, several times during the show outbursts could be heard in the room, "I want this job!" "I would love this job!" "I want to be a picker!"

Russ finally had enough of my exclamations and proclaimed as the final statement on the subject, "Okay, then. Go ahead. Start a new business." With a smile on his face. He knew I was really into this show--and truth be told--so was he!

What is an American Picker? These two men have a business traveling to different homes looking through people's "stuff" to find treasures. They get leads of people who have yards or barns filled with junk. Some are probably hoarders. All have fascinating back-stories.

So, the camera crews go along, and document the stories behind the objects of interest, and also show us how the negotiating process works best (and when it doesn't work at all). They show us what they pay, what the estimated value is, and how much they stand to profit on the items.

The personalities are fun, the stories are heartwarming, the information is educational. It's a winner.

Check it out.

And for my back-up career, I think I'm gonna be an American Picker!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Link Family

Our church sponsored the Link Family for the third annual concert on our Discover First day. It was absolutely amazing. First, our people did a great job with yummy food (and lots of it!). Thanks to Charlene and her kitchen crew for making us all feel so welcome as we fellowshipped.

The Link family did not disappoint with their tight harmonies, both in music, and family feel. They entertain, but even better, they make my heart beat a happy rhythm and my toes tap a jig. Their lyrics and music style all have deep roots, either in faith or culture. And for me personally, it was like combining church from the early 1900s with one of my family reunions where several of Mom's cousins brought out their instruments for an impromptu jam session as we gathered round in the backyard. A time and place where the violin was called a fiddle and even the fireflies blinked their lightning bug tails in time to the tunes. Good times--innocent times. It all came back to me.

An hour with the Link Family leaves my spirit feeling lighter, my mind refreshed, and my heart filled with joy.

And I'll let you in on a little secret--conversations with each of them do just as much for me as their music. Why? Because they are real--genuine. They love God and love each other. They go through this routine over and over and over again, but they haven't let it get them weary (or at least, they don't show it). Their smiles are authentic. Not Hollywood fake but heavenly real. They remain humble even though they've won award after award for their excellence in bluegrass and gospel music.

Here's a recent press release, to help you learn more about them:

The Link Family is a true family band, featuring Dad, Mom, five children and two in-laws from Lebanon, Missouri. They are having the "time of their lives" traveling on their Silver Eagle bus and sharing their music in churches, bluegrass festivals, theaters, Silver Dollar City, US Military bases, R.V. parks and misc. events. The family consists of Rachel (21), Kyle (20), Benjamin (13), Aaron (10), John (9), Becky (Mom), Lance (Dad), son-in-law, Landen Keeler and daughter-in-law, Ashley Link. Each member of the family participates in performing. Rachel brings to the group a strong lead and harmony voice while playing mandolin, guitar and bass. Kyle plays all the instruments on stage, mostly fiddle and guitar while singing lead and harmony. Benjamin also plays all the instruments on stage, mostly banjo, sings lead and harmony. Aaron sings lead and plays the fiddle while John sings lead and is learning mandolin. Becky plays rhythm guitar and bass while singing lead and harmony and Lance brings in the foundation sound on the bass fiddle, sings bass as well as being our bus driver and manager. Landen joins us this year as sound man and Ashley adds twin fiddling with Kyle.

Traveling and singing together has its joys and challenges while giving allowance for The Link Family to learn much about life as a family, to meet the many wonderful people that make up the strong fabric of our nation, and to see the beauty of the American landscape. This family group brings a refreshing performance that will leave you smiling, encouraged and tapping your foot.

Visit their website at:

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It's been real important to readjust my attitudes often by keeping a heart full of gratitude. So, I'm going to start posting my gratitude lists here. Maybe it will inspire some of you to make your own lists. I always try to include both small and large topics on my lists because all good gifts come from the Father of Lights and He's the object of my gratitude.

1. My KCWC business is expanding this week: new department, new clients, and new staff person joining my firm. I’m pinching myself in delirium!

2. New recipes to try—a great way to save money and to have fun in the kitchen. The pans don’t wash themselves, but that’s the only down side.

3. A new set up to have a TV w/ dish DVR in the guest bedroom. A perk for our guests, and now we can lay down to watch TV at naptime, but still not have a TV in our own bedroom which is a big no-no in marriage. Best of both worlds this way! Sunday naptime was never better, just sort of falling off into la-la land.

4. Church was uplifting Sunday. I love working with the teens, and got to sing a couple of songs with my husband and another guy (thanks Jesse!) during worship service with guitar accompaniment. SWEET!

5. My office is almost completely organized, and when my new clerical assistant comes in to work, we’ll have it whipped into shape in no time. I’m excited! Nothing like a little bit of organization in the New Year to provide some sort of satisfaction and fulfillment!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Man, A Can, and a Plan

by: David Joachim, The Editors of Men's Health
List Price: $15.99
Binding: Board book
Dewey Decimal Number: 641.612
Publication Date: June 17, 2002
Publisher: Rodale Books

(Unsolicited Review)

Okay, you all are going to have a good laugh. That's okay! I love trying gourmet recipes and southern recipes and ethnic recipes. You name the food combinations, I want to try it. So, this cookbook seems exactly opposite to what I love about cooking.

A bachelor friend of ours invited us over for a meal. It was a yummy chicken and noodles combination, and he admitted it was inspired from a recipe he found in this cookbook. When he pulled out the entire collection for us to browse through, we realized just how brilliant this is. It's sort of like garanimals for pantry foods, to get a meal on the table quick. The recipes are good just as they are, but many times you can think of something similar that would also work in a pinch, and that new combination also turns out to be a success.

I bought the book for Russ to use since I travel so much. But on days I'm working 14 hours, we are finding these recipes a helpful alternative to trying to eat out in a town with very few eat-out or take-out choices.

So now, like Rich, I want to go buy the entire set of books. I purchased our copy "like new" through a used bookstore, so you don't have to pay retail price to get good recipe ideas.

There are ingredients in the book we don't like, so we just use those recipes as "starting off points" for new recipes using ingredients we do like. And some recipes are great as is.

For anyone needing to use staple goods more than fresh foods, or for simple cooking when crunched for time, these are great starter recipes. These would be great for hurricane recipes, camping and hunting recipes, and budget recipes.

This week, three of our meals came from "A Man, A Can, and a Plan" and I'm guessing we will try at least two recipes a week from this helpful guide. And then, on days when I have more time and money to focus on the more complex recipes, I can return to my beloved "foodie" hobby!

Connecting Points

I'm still a firm believer that God is The Great Networker. In situations too amazing to be coincidence, it's been mind-blasting to see the different opportunities that cross my desk. Just today I enjoyed three phone visits with others in the industry looking to be stretched as they grow in their craft. And earlier this week I made other connections equally thrilling. January 2010 is already shaping up to be an incredible month--maybe the best January on record!

It would be easy to get intimidated by some of the names I get to assist, but really the ones I'm most blessed to serve are the ones who aren't impressed by their own fame--and also the ones who aren't down in the dumps about their LACK of fame (since I serve both ends of the spectrum). They are all just honored to get to be a part of the Big Picture, serving God and the better good through purpose and passion.

It's the divas who think they are something they're not that are more difficult to endure--they seem to think life owes them a favor through me. But really, I'm surprised, dealing with creative sorts that we are, that we don't have more divatude drama than we do have. It's such a small part of what fills my days.

The big part? Getting jazzed about the ideas we cook up to help our clients shine, and to help them reflect the Light. Sensing a connection, a commonality, even upon the very first meeting.

It all starts with introductions set up by very God. He is the connecting point.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wind Chill-Frosty!

I moved my achey breaky bones to the tippy-toe of Texas, partly to get away from the freezing cold winter weather of the north. I did a pretty good job of playing hide-and-seek from Mr. Winter until today. We are now officially experiencing the coldest of our "four seasons," and by morning, with wind chill it will feel like 15 degrees. WHAT?

My body feels like a human barometer. Even my fur baby, Jazzy is feeling the chill. No worries though--she's comfy cozy in her pink fleece cover-up, and she only has to go out when nature calls.

I know, I know...I have no reason to complain. In a few days it will be sunny and in the 70s again. IDEAL. And you can bet, when the sun warms us back up, I will not take our sub-tropical weather for granted. At least for a few days...until my mind forgets the goose bumps.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Assume or Communicate

I'm no mind reader. So why do I expect others to be? I say I'm a communicator, but I'm finding out just how poorly I communicate when it comes to what others should just KNOW. I assume way too much!

For example, the day before Christmas I had plans to get the house and meal ready for our company on Christmas Day. I had the entire day planned out to the hour. Did I communicate that with Russ? No...I forgot that important step. How was he to know? He doesn't read my lengthy lists. He doesn't read my mind. So, he guessed on how he could best help me, and he came close--but not quite.

So, on Christmas Eve day, he tore into the house to completely redo two rooms. Probably the best gift I received this Christmas. But it wasn't on my agenda to do that day. What if the project was too big and wasn't completed by the time our guests walked in 24 hours later? What if he needed my help and it kept me from doing what had to be done to get the meal ready? All of those "what ifs" could have been avoided if early on I had asked Russ what he wanted to do that day, and if I would have told him what I thought my plans might be. Ended up well (really well, in fact!). I hope to share photos of my office soon. But the day was completely rearranged all because I assumed.

New Year's Eve delivered yet another break in communication--this time with my pharmacy. I needed a refill of an anti-seizure medication that isn't supposed to be stopped cold turkey or the body goes through withdrawals. I didn't realize it, but this medication (Lyrica) is a controlled substance. Even though I had one refill left on my prescription, and even though the prescription was ordered the middle of 2009, six months later it was no longer valid due to being a controlled substance. No problem--I had a back-up prescription previously faxed to the pharmacy from my doctor for all my meds. Pharmacist looked it up--he found the fax with every medication listed EXCEPT the Lyrica. I was out of luck. The doctor was gone for the rest of the week--a holiday.

I assumed the refill was valid. I assumed the fax was there on back up. What did I get for my assumptions? A great big dose of withdrawals--something I wouldn't wish on anyone. Now I know in order to properly communicate I need to be sure of something rather than just assume it took place (like confirming the fax from the doctor included all of my meds).

So, today I start the new year, HOPING the doctor is in the office, HOPING the prescription gets ordered soon, HOPING I reverse these withdrawal symptoms quickly. But, I'm not just getting a dose of Lyrica today, I'm getting a dose of reality.

This gal who says she's a communicator, who owns a communications firm, needs to communicate better.

And I'm guessing if you're honest, that's something you could work on in 2010 as well!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

RECIPE: Brigadeiro

Back in 2002 I hosted a retreat in my home, and a guest from Brazil taught me how to make Brigadeiro. Her version used the microwave, but I can't find that recipe. Remembering the ingredients, I went to and found this version, with my notes added. It works great!

So, yesterday, to ring in the New Year, I made these little chocolate truffles to take to a party. The photo above is a photo of my little creations. FUN!

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon butter
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Form into small balls (I do this by using a miniature scoop and plopping a scoop of the chocolate mixture into my Pam-sprayed hand to shape). Roll into topping of choice (I used candy and chocolate sprinkles). Chill until serving.

Makes about 20 little balls. I like putting them inside little fluted paper liners.


Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Normally I set a bunch of annual goals rather than making resolutions. And I still might do that some, especially with my business and with ministry. But to be honest, I sense that God is calling me to a different focus this year. Not so much about bettering "me." In fact, a reduced "me" focus is called for. Goals this year will be focused on ways for me to grow relationships (with God and others) and ways I can serve others.

Maybe I'll toy around with heightening all 5 senses, not just physically, but internally:

Let's see how that shapes up this year.

Proverbs 34:8 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Walls Coming Down!

When I first started this blog in November 2005, I was full of ideas to share with my very few readers (mostly family and friends). My goal for the blog started out simple: to stay connected with those special to me. Then as time went on, I added more to the blog and more reasons for the blog. But about three years ago I started learning "rules" that put a damper on my blog-writing enthusiasm. I became too concerned with what some would think about my posts (too personal, too much drama to be real, too "religious," too too...). And this last year, my blog posts dwindled to almost nothing. In 2010, I'm going to find my blog voice again.

So, today, the walls come down!