Sometimes I feel really self-centered. I feel like my problems are the biggest problems in the world, and the world revolves around Planet Beth. It’s nice when God puts people in my path to pray for, and to help me get my eyes off of me, and onto God and his purposes.

Last night, I went to pick up a quick bite at my favorite grocery store, Central Market. The young man behind the counter told me if I didn’t like the Organic Whipped Sweet Potatoes, he would give me the shirt off his back. But then he digressed because he couldn’t give me the shirt because he was leaving to move to Vegas today. So, then somehow we started talking about God. Because anybody moving to Sin City, definitely needs to have God and a whole system of accountability.

He tried telling me he was a “lone wolf,” and didn’t need anybody, like his idol: James Dean (and a few other guys that died in their early 20s and 30s). He said he wasn’t afraid to die, and did believe in God. I told him that God might have a purpose for his life beyond age 30, and that it might involve relationships that were lasting. I encouraged him to keep reading his bible.

I understand what it’s like to be living the “lone wolf-ette” life, since I’m far away from my family. But my family has been extended beyond my inherited blood type. I am so blessed by the friends and families I get to be around here in Houston.

God has not designed us for a lone-wolf lifestyle. We need fellowship. We need encouragement and love from one another--God’s love in us, being given to those around us (and being given back, too). It’s a beautiful thing.

And also, dying-schmying: fear-schmear. It’s not about whether YOU are afraid about death. It’s about making peace with God. Life isn’t over the moment your heart stops beatity-beating. There’s more. That’s what you have to be fear, if you don’t KNOW God. Not just believe in Him, but KNOW him as your LORD and Savior. This life is just a smidgen of real life.

I’m praying for little Lone-Wolf to know Jesus Christ, and to find people in his life to pour God’s love into him, and for protection as he travels. I’m glad I got to meet him, and not just because he was right about those Organic Whipped Sweet Potatoes—which happened to rock my taste buds.

I went to visit my favorite chocolate shoppe last week. It’s called Chocolate du Monde, and the shop owners are sweet and kind, and are always willing to sell a girl some chocolate. The shoppe has chocolate colored walls and a gorgeous case of chocolates coming from far away lands famous for chocolate-making like Belgium.

My favorite chocolatier displayed is Joseph Schmidt. Their truffles are absolutely amazing and cause my eyes to roll back in my head (but only for a bit) after I take a bite. They make chocolate that you can taste down to your toes.

I wanted to buy some Joseph Schmidt mosaics and the shoppe owner broke the news to me that Joseph Schmidt had been bought out by Hershey’s. [sound of record scratching—errrrwwwhh] I was devastated. Joseph Schmidt and I have only had about five years together. That hasn’t been long enough. The shop owner tried to reassure me by saying Hershey’s wasn’t changing the recipes, but they had decided to ditch the mosaics. This is almost worse than Landry’s buying the Grotto, and then taking my favorite dishes off the menu.

Joseph Schmidt. I’ll miss you. [Attention all potential suitors—you might need to quickly order boxes in advance for my birthday to try to capture any remaining boxes of mosaics.] We had some good times. You can see I’ve enjoyed our relationship, but maybe if you leave, then my hips can stop lying about the size jeans they wear.

My Favorite Cereals as a Kid

Cap’n Crunch
Crunch Berries
Lucky Charms
Raisin Bran (until I found a worm in it—then I didn’t eat it for a year)
Frosted Mini-Wheats (the frosted side for the kid in me)
Rice Crispies (with lots of sugar added until it all sunk to the bottom of the bowl)

My Favorite Cereals Now

Kashi Good Friends Raisin Crunch
Central Market Raisin Bran
Central Market Honey Toasted O’s
Lucky Charms
Kashi Autumn Wheat or Cinnamon Harvest (the adult in me likes the fiber)

Worst Cereals Ever Made

Cocoa Puffs
Cocoa Crispies
Count Chocula
Fiber One
Smurf Berry Crunch (we gave it to the neighbors-blech)

The majestic wonders and intricacies of nature amaze me and make me feel awe in the presence of God. In other places I’ve traveled and lived, those moments of awe from nature are so commonplace, that they can sometimes become unappreciated. In Houston, sometimes I must be a nature detective to discover things which will awe me. I must pause. Take a breath. And be pleasantly surprised by the captured moment.

Today, I captured a moment with a little bitty tiny snail (and I also captured a pic). It was hiding under a leaf.

Hi, little bitty snail! Hello! Can you understand English? Or did you take a long trip from Mexico? Hola, pequeño caracol minusculo! Soy su amiga!

I had to go back to work, and he had to go back to hanging out on his leaf, but I was glad we got to meet today.

For some reason, I don’t have the same compassion for the ants. I tried squishing them. Sorry, little ants.

I made a vow that I would never have a Myspace page. I’ve seen far too many people addicted to it. Most people have started to snub their noses at Myspace considering it more of a post Gen-X-er thing, but that’s not the only virtual realm that can become like an unofficial and unpaid parttime job in your life.

Last night, my friend showed me his Facebook page, and was encouraging me to start a Facebook page, too. As I clicked on various people, I discovered all my friends were having a secret online friendship affair with one another. [Perhaps one of you reading this right now is under some conviction. You know who you are.]

I explained that I didn’t want a Facebook. I already have a blog, and it takes up enough web time, but satisfies my need to write and share pictures and helps to get some thoughts out of my head. If I added one more thing that was computer connected in my life, I might blow a gasket. I already text message, e-mail, listen to voicemails, spend tons of time on my cell phone, and search a few too many times on Google throughout the day.

My friend said that with Facebook, I could e-mail friends and also send them virtual gifts.

Come on, people! If we’re virtually dating, virtually being friends, and shopping online spending virtual money, --and now we’re giving virtual gifts? Okay, this has gone too far. I want the real deal. But maybe there could be an advantage to this…I’ve been feeling financially strapped and really would like to give all my friends who are having weddings, babies, and birthdays some type of gift…hence, the virtual gift had become my gift of choice!

Note: The Beth that has a profile on Facebook from Texas is not the ulovebeth affiliated with Happy Little Trees, and I’m sure isn’t as cute as me.

2nd Note: If you’ve become overly defensive at the comments I’ve made, then that could be a sign of a problem. And I feel your pain. A friend once confronted me about my blog, and suggested I might be addicted to it. It’s okay, really, I can handle it. It’s not a problem. Really.

I had a mini-revival last night. What is God’s will for my (your) life? Well, I found out. If you didn’t go to Metro LiVE, you missed it. Sorry about that.

I KNOW the answers. But I tend to forget them. Or the order. I’m helpless. I’m got mush in my life, and only He can make my mush gush into something beautiful far beyond what I think I need or think I want.

KNOW God. Take time to let Him KNOW you. He likes you. And, He loves you, too. I like him, and I love him, too. (Okay, I’m preaching to myself, sorry you have to be here.)

And come to Metro LiVE if you get the chance.

(Okay, just because the gift of God's will just isn't for me, there's a link on the question above to Afshin the Dream's message. The wonders of technology!)

I think my new co-worker just saw me bouncing in my chair with both my arms out office-chair dancing to the Black Eyed Peas “They Don’t Want Music.” (click and choose #10 for some serious dancing to come out of your body)

Whatever. I got the funk. And I can’t let my nine-to-five hold me down.

I think I just had a heart attack. Not a broken heart, but an adult heart that is feeling the pain of a hefty car repair bill.

The sad part is that I need body work done on the car, too, which will have to wait. I guess I’ll just duct tape a make-up mirror onto my broken side mirror. [Murray, can I borrow your black duct tape?]

The other day, a lady was beside me at a River Oaks area stoplight in a shiny new, crisp white, sporty Bentley. I kind of laughed to myself as I sat with my air condition blowing hot air thinking, “If she has a car payment, and my car is paid off, then I’m kind of better off financially than she is!” And with that thought, I didn’t want to be driving the Bentley with the fancy wood interior or leather seats. I like my jeep a lot.

Apparently now, I will have to love my jeep. I’m making a commitment to it, demonstrating that I am willing to put tons of money into my “Made in the USA” vehicle. I’m willing to put tons of money into my gas tank. I’m willing to go without Starbucks (oh, do I really mean that?!) and new clothes (because I can’t afford to eat, I can fit into all my friend’s tiny hand-me-downs). Jeep, we’re in this for the long haul (even though you don’t currently have a towing attachment).

I am freezing, and it’s summer in Houston. Why am I freezing? Because I sat outside for about ten minutes during lunch and enjoyed the 90 degree temp, and then went back to the office. Inside all buildings in Houston, Texas the temperature is about 62 degrees. Because in Houston, we like to waste energy, because it helps the economy. And the Galleria also supports it, so we buy sweaters more in the summer than in the winter. And the restaurants are somehow in on it, too, because millions of sweaters get left behind at restaurants, and then we have to buy new ones, so then they get a cutback from the Galleria.

Perhaps, if everyone in Houston opened up their doors on the hottest day of the year, we could bring down the temperature a few degrees by air-conditioning the outside. Then, we wouldn’t all have to hide from the heat all summer, and could enjoy sunny days without passing out.

I’m tired of shivering indoors. I bet there where whiners who whined about being hot while shopping or eating, and all retailers and restaurant owners and grocers got together and said, “We’ll show them! Let’s play freeze-out!” Oh, how cold it is to serve out the sentence for the sins of those before us! Somebody get me my emergency Fred Rogers’ cardigan! Won't you be my neighbor and fetch me a sweater?

My car is in the shop. I’ve been dreading this moment. I knew it had to happen, but I was avoiding it, because I need my car. Especially since I moved and no longer have my familiar bus route to work as a transportation back-up.

I dropped off my car this morning, and walked to a bus-stop. While waiting, my adventure began. I was sitting there sweating in the 8:00 a.m. Houston heat, quietly eating string cheese when I was approached by a man that perhaps stakes out this bus stop. He sits as close to me as possible with only my shoulder back-pack and the bill on his cap separating us.

Creepy Man: “What are you eating? Would you share some with me?”
Me: “String cheese. This is my last bite. No.”

Then, he asks me if I’ll eat dinner with him at the Galleria. He asks if I have a husband. I say no, but I quickly tell him I have a boyfriend (I did run into Yao Ming at the Galleria, and he did grin at me, so that will be my boyfriend—the tallest man possible in Houston). This did not satisfy my pursuer who wanted my boyfriend to share the blessings.

After that, somehow the man starts ranting and raving about the Old Testament, tells me Adam and Eve weren’t married. I told him they were married for probably 700 years. Then, he’s telling me other “Bible facts” and how I’m a freak because I believe. It was quite a lovely experience. Prayer is possible with your eyes opened and your mouth not moving in a public place.

I saw a taxi and got the driver to make eye contact. I put my hands in prayer position and mouthed, “Please!” and she still wouldn’t stop.

Finally, my bus arrived, I was never more thankful to see a bus.

So, if by chance you live in Houston, and are sitting in your air-conditioned car shaking your fist at the bus stopping in front of you, remember—that could be someone else’s ticket to safety. (Depending on who’s on the bus, too.) I’m renting a car today.

It’s hot, Don! (you can say that again!) It’s hot, Don. (dedicated to my granny, but maybe only Jen will understand)

My bank teller politely asked me if I had lost my debit card, after I went to visit the bank to get cash, and was struggling to find my license, which another employee found on the floor. I had dropped my debit card at the outside ATM a few days ago. My purse must have a hole. Either that, or my brain. I’m voting for the purse to keep up my self-esteem.

I’ve been trying to grow my hair out for about three years. I’ve tried not cutting it, and now I’m trying getting it cut regularly. Neither system seems to work very well. I still have shoulder-length hair. I might try extensions.

After my haircut this week, my hair smelled delicious. If I bought all the products used, I would have been out about $40. Last night, I hugged a friend, and he said, “You smell good!” I might sell plasma to buy the products. Hair that smells nice is one of the top ten secrets of attractive people. And it’s much less painful and time consuming than having nice abs. But if I have good-smelling hair, the response could be too overwhelming. I better hold back my secret weapons.

I want a polar bear. This one is so cute. But it also could eat me for lunch. There’s always a catch.

I just don’t want to be Cute Knut’s catch of the day.

I went to eat lunch in the med center. I’ve been getting items a la carte from the over-priced Mexican food place. I don’t think the lady behind the counter likes me doing that. But it’s much cheaper. I save $3.50 just by not getting beans and rice (how nice, yes, but not necessary).

I went to pay for my food, and DOH! No dough. No debit card. I hid my credit cards from myself. I had a checkbook in my purse, and said, “Do you take checks?” I had some new “forever” stamps, too, but didn’t think they qualified for being food stamps.

The man said no. And I left my food. I left my enchilada suiza and my pollo taco behind. “Good-bye…good-bye….” I walked away hungry.

Last night, I was blessed with a $10 Starbucks card, so I trekked on over to see what I could conjure up for substance. I had banned eating Starbucks sandwiches, because 1) I don’t like sandwiches that sit all day in a frig, and 2) don’t they have enough of a monopoly on the coffee market without taking over another one? Today, I digressed and picked out a poppy-seed baguette with some turkey. Not too bad. Bread not too wet or dry.

Starbucks, you are my friend. And I thank you for that.

This past weekend, I got to spend some time with some old co-workers splashing around in my friend, Kim’s new pool. And yesterday, we got a new guy in our office. All this ex/new co-worker activity has caused me to be a little reflective on how much work relationships affect my life.

I’m met tons of wonderful people through this whole system I was thrown into called “work.” I’ve been able to keep up with some—even through moves and job changes, but in the midst of all the other relationships in my life, it’s impossible to maintain the closeness with those people that I would like.

When you really think about it, you probably spend more time with these people, than any other people in your life. They know all the signs of my various moods (not that mine swing) and what things in my life are important to me (including way too many details of my family and love-interests).

I kind of wish I could start my own business and bring in an all-star team of all my co-workers from the past. I would bring in some people from my college job at the Bowling Green Public Library, people from my old teaching jobs, people from LT accounting, and from my current job in the med center. And my job would just be to go around talking with everyone and laughing with them until my sides hurt.

Maybe I could get Oprah to sponsor the project. I have no idea what the business would do. Maybe we could function as a community center that would teach people to read, do their taxes, and also serve as a clinic. [How bizarre. I just realized that I’ve covered about every possible service field. God, what in the world is your plan for my crazy career path?!]

These people in my multiple-career life are so precious to me. We all have our “moments” with each other, but collectively, it’s a gift to be able to share lives with these peeps. Maybe that’s what the main thing this crazy path is all about.

It's on its way. Father's Day is almost here. It's a day of celebration for some, and others don't want to acknowledge it exists at all. Apparently, there are a lot of people out there with "Father Issues" and you may be one. I've been hearing lots of radio commentary on the subject lately.

Father's Day is kind of hard for me, because it reminds me of how terribly much I miss my daddy (and I know I have many friends in the same boat). Whether your dad is dead or a dead-beat, use the day to pray for dads. If he's gone, thank God for the dad you had and pray for the dads you know to be better dads. If he's alive, then by golly, show your dad some love! And if he needs it--grace!

I praise God that I had a great dad who gave me Polo-smelling hugs and passed onto me a love of food and a quirky sense of humor--that not everybody always understands. And I praise God that he gave me a dad that I saw studying his Sunday School lesson intently underlining almost every word as he went along with his Cross pen (don't ask me what the system meant--I have no idea--I was mesmerized by the underlining).

My dad was a deacon at our church, so I when I take communion or give offering, I remember my dad, too (and of course, first I think about Jesus). I will be honorable to his name and not reflect on the years that he tried to be our song leader for our church of about 30.

I can still remember watching reruns of Andy Griffith, Little House of the Prairie, and then hearing the rattle of my dad's keys as he came home from work. I'd give a him a hug and a kiss, and then we would finally get to eat dinner. My dad ate like a machine. He wouldn't eat all day and would scarf down his dinner (not necessarily a good eating regimen). And somehow, being the youngest, my dinner table seat was in between my mom and my dad. My leftie sister, across from my mom on a corner, and my brother across from my dad at the "tail" of the table. I was in the perfect spot for him to eat off my plate: saying, "Are you going to eat that?" while simulaneously grabbing and eating the food.

As for fathers, death is hard. Dead-beat is hard. Abuse is hard. There are many ways a father can fail us. But I know that the biggest "blessings" I have received from losing my dad physically is 1) knowing he is in heaven, and 2) knowing that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, loves me, loves me and who is my comfort and is with me in ways that my own dad could not be (fyi-because my Heavenly Father is God). He is the unfailing Father.

I will celebrate my relationship with my Heavenly Father on Sunday. And I'll celebrate two other great dads in my life, my brother, Brother Troy (he's a pastor--also, pictured with precious wife, Kim), and my brother-in-law, Gene (affectionately called Big Boy--don't know if I have a pic).

Fathers, have a happy day! And the rest of you, have a happy day. Let your Father in heaven show you some love. :)

My toes are orange. And I had an experience that Laurie linked to in her blog several months back.

I keep hearing sermons about stress. Perhaps God is trying to tell me something. I’ve tried cutting back my “social addiction” by trimming my calendar a bit. If I don’t return your phone calls or don’t call you at all, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. I’m just trying to not get sent to Social Rehab. I have an addiction to f-u-n.

Christian radio can be annoying sometimes, but at other times, completely uplifting. I heard some really good stuff on the radio yesterday and today. Yesterday, I heard a lady that was interviewed about the persecuted church. It touched my heart, and made me realize that I’m a whiner.

The older people get, the more likely they are to say whatever they feel like. I bet it’s a freeing feeling. Although, this could get dangerous for me.

Target is my favorite store. I heard that Wal-Mart is trying to get competitive by focusing on more designer-like clothing. And I heard it’s not working. Wally World, stick with what you know: good prices on electronics, toiletries, and discounts on greeting cards.

Sometimes I get excited about being in a nursing home if all my friends will be there. We’ll have time to catch up, if our hearing aid batteries are working. I just can’t figure out which state I need to be housed in—just hopefully not the state of confusion.

I have this idea to take a picture of my baby everyday of his life. And then I can make a flip book and watch him grow before my eyes as the pages flutter by.

This whole idea is in waiting, because I don’t have a husband yet. And I don’t have a baby. And this is no way was a request. Maybe to God, but not from you. Unless of course, God has told you something that I have not been told yet. Then, my sincerest apologies for my rudeness, and pick me up at 8. My ring size is 5ish. And I like sushi.

My dad started traveling to NYC for work when I was 12 and was transferred there from the time I was about 14-18. Before he would leave for the airport, I would always start singing like Frankie Sinatra. "buh-buh-buh-de-duh..buh-buh-buh-de-duh..buh-buh-buh-de-duh-duhhhhh." My friend Pat sent me this pic today of her trip. Ahhhh...New York. Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

I have some qualities of being a dork, but I don’t really realize they are dorky, because I just think they are really great things that everyone should like. Honestly, I think in a bizarre way, I kind of strive for dorkiness rather than coolness when given the option. Being cool takes so much more work and if managed incorrectly can leave you looking like a dork anyway. So why not be happy and just be a dork?

My point in that small little dork essay is to explain that I really like Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion and I downloaded the free podcasts today onto my shuffle.

I just drank a tall, non-fat, no-whip, no-fun, cinnamon dolce latte. I feel like I can climb mountains. Caffeine to a not-a-regular caffeine drinker is a pretty extreme high.

I was falling asleep at work, so I figured this would be the best solution. We'll see what the after effects are, but right now, I'm flying on a Starbucks jetplane!

I knew I was happy when after my first couple of sips I started to sing "My Cheri Amour." That's one of my happy songs on my internal ipod playlists.

CTC International
Hopefully, if traffic flows right, tonight I'll get to participate in a benefit dinner for Comfort the Children International. Originally, I thought that since they were serving pizza, the attire would be jeans and t's. After some e-mail correspondence and advice from my roommate, a different outfit has been selected. Apparently, the gathering is more of a benefit event and not a pizza party with a band.

Which leaves me with only one option: I gotta break out the red dress.