I love my jeep. I bought it because I knew that years would pass, and I would always like driving it. A jeep only gets sweeter with time.

But something has happened in our relationship that I didn’t predict. My jeep has gotten very expensive to drive. My tires are a little oversized (I didn’t pimp it out myself, it was used when I bought it, and came that way), which adds to the problem. I calculate that in the city, which is sadly where my jeep has to do much of its roaming, I probably get about 12 miles per gallon. Due to traffic, sometimes, I get less.

For the past several weeks, I’ve done all types of calculations looking at various reliability and mpg ratings for smaller cars, and I’ve figured up that I would probably save money per month buying a used car, rather than keep driving my jeep.

When I start to think about what car I would buy, it makes me miss my jeep already. I picture myself going to the parking lot, and getting into a little shiny box of a car with 6 inch wheels, and it isn’t appealing.

An alternative plan I’m toying with, is sending it to live with my mother. She gets to drive through the country side more than me, and has a house renovation project going on, so the extra storage and hauling capacity that the jeep could offer her would be a help.

I always thought that my jeep could be passed down to my kids. They could use it to learn to drive out on the farm, kind of like a lot of my friends learned to drive on their grandpa’s old Ford out in the field. Where do I get ideas like this? I think I’m trapped in between city-thinking and country-thinking. I’m a white collared worked with a bit of a redneck wring around the collar.

I'm waiting a few months to save some money (and pour some more into my jeep) before I make the official decision. And I'm keeping my eyes opened for old Corollas and Civics--trying to warm up to the little, shiny tin cans. Maybe I'll just imagine my Corolla with monster tires, mudflaps, and a horn that plays Dixie, and I'll feel better about it. Aw, geez, somebody get this girl some chaw to wise her up! Kidding. Really. Just kidding.

I feel ill. Just a few weeks ago, I was bragging that I never get sick anymore since I’m Miss Home Remedy. But today, I feel ill; stuffy head, headache, bleh.

I had a sore throat all day yesterday, and then this morning woke up about 3 hours before the alarm, with a headache, and unable to get back to sleep. I finally fell asleep (after the alarm went off) but still feel bad.

When I finally made it back to sleep, I had the strangest dreams.

In one dream, I was trying to make sure everything was in its normal place, so I knew if it was a dream or not—or if I was still stuck in the Land of Sleeplessness. I noticed a picture in the wrong place, so I assumed it was a dream. I was rushing to get ready for work, and when I saw myself in the mirror, I noticed that I had on some dark lipstick applied Joker-style on my face.

Then, the phone rang, and I crawled back in bed with the phone to talk. It was God.

First, he told me which Theologians I needed to read, and I tried finding a piece of paper so I could write them down. Then, I asked him if I would ever get married, and the phone got kind of fuzzy on the line, and he kept asking me what I had asked, and I asked again. His answer was unclear.

Wow. The irony of dreams.

Today, I found my name in someone’s else blog with a request to complete this. It was like finding a prize egg—or a nickel with my name on it!

Rules for the game:
1. Put these rules at the beginning of your post.
2. Answer each question (see below) in your post.
3. Tag five people at the end.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was shoveling snow in the mornings in Tahoe City, CA and working with the A+ Program which was an afterschool program for students at a church. I lived with Miss Paige and Miss Ashley. They cut Campbell’s soup labels all day (to trade for a van), and I worked with the 4/5 year olds. The tales you can tell when you work with that age are priceless.

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Invest wisely.
2. Tithe it.
3. Help all my family start their own businesses.
4. Start a non-profit for widows and orphans (I might do this without becoming a billionaire).
5. Build a Christian camp/retreat center in my hometown.
(and also get a puppy)

Five jobs that I have had:
1.Quality Assurance person at Premium Allied Tool & Die (checked for bent parts and leftover tumbling materials)
2. Afterschool care worker (Bowling Green and Tahoe)
3. Camp Counselor
4. Adult Literacy Tutor
5. Teacher

Three of my habits:
1. Floss my teeth at night.
2. Read my e-mail immediately and obsessively.
3. Read fashion and fitness magazines obsessively.

Five places I have lived:
1. Dundee, KY
2. Rochester, NY
3. Tahoe City, CA
4. Asheville, NC
5. Houston, TX

Five people I want to get to know better:
The Traveler (yes, this is a girly thing to do, so you can pass it to your honey If you prefer, but I'm sure your answers would be interesting, too)

Who else reads my blog? Anyone? Anyone? Brandi?

In other personal ponderings...

Today, I'm wearing a blouse that I'm scared might be a maternity top. The label says, "Love Squared." Definitely sounds like a mommy and me brand. Who can tell these days with the empire waist craze? I told my current co-workers that if anybody asks if I'm leaving this job because I'm preggers, I'm burning this shirt.

I was walking in the hall to lunch, and the man from the credit union who has never spoken to me before said, "Cute top!".

Statements like that from straight men weird out women. Maybe God was using him to encourage me to not burn this top.

Brenda shared something with me called The Flight of the Conchords. We watched the DVDs she had. It was stinking funny. But it requires a unique humor to laugh at it. Since one of my natural intelligences is humor which means I can laugh at pretty much anything (even things that other people do not find funny at all), I loved it.

Click a bit or two on the link and see if you can watch some clips. It's an HBO show, so kids under 17 do not need to be clicking, because not everything is appropriate (oh great, now I've made them want to watch!).

Text mishap of the week:

Me: Have you seen Flight of the Conchords on HBO?
Friend: No but I've seen this other one on the discovery channel that was all about it and it was really cool

Not everybody will get it. And that's okay. We're still friends.

I went to D.C. last weekend, and had such a great visit with Brenda, and got to see Yee Peng and Tim's new baby, Emelyn.

It had been three years since I had seen Brenda, and she is still just as fabulous as ever. I learn so much from her and love that she always introduces me to cool music, media, and styling products.

On this visit, we went to a concert with Ari Hest, who is absolutely talented (and handsome--whoah). And then we also heard Ingrid Michaelson. I kept thinking she sounded familiar as she sang. She was so funny and quick witted and smart, she reminded me a bit of my friend, Laurie (who also sports similar glasses). And it's like Ingrid has suddenly been thrown into rockstar mode, and it's a breath of fresh air, from normally over serious musicians. She was real, honest, and I enjoyed the show, and she did finally sing some songs instead of making us laugh.

Seeing Yee Peng and Tim was a special blessing. Their wee one was just born April 16th. It was so neat to see them in the role of being new parents; honestly, it was quite beautiful to see (in spite of the fact Yee Peng wouldn't let me take pictures of her). I got to act like the baby paparazzi for a bit. It was quite fun.

I loved seeing D.C. in the spring. Here's more pics of the adventure.

The lovely and talented and hilarious, Ingrid Michaelson.

The tulips were amazing!

Brenda my frienda.

More to come...but here's a peek from my trip to D.C....

Pete the Frenching Dog

Some places in our country feel sacred. I feel that this is one.

Introducing Baby Emelyn, daughter of Yee Peng and Tim

Baby and Daddy

Two very important days to write on your calendar this month:

April 29th - FREE CONE DAY! at Ben & Jerry's

April 30th - 31 cent cone day! at Baskin Robbins from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

and you might want to add:

May 1st - "Hire-a-trainer" day...or "Diabetic coma" day

I had to put on my big girl panties today and be a business woman that makes big decisions. I finally announced my last day at my current job, and will start a new job on May 5th.

So now I can tell the not-so-well-kept secret: I have a new job!

When I got ready for work today, I looked in the mirror at my new 80s hairdo, and thought, “I look like an extra for Working Girl.”

I might be throwing a happy hour at Chuy’s (free chips and queso!!) or Ra (half-priced sushi!!) for myself on my last day of work, so stay tuned. So many decisions…

Tonight is the finale of the Biggest Loser. I watched it last week and worked out at the same time. It’s very inspirational. The show has almost gone too far this time, because some of the contestants are starting to look like they’re starving. The contestants are supposed to lose more weight each week. It’s pretty amazing to see their transformations, and I can’t wait to watch tonight!

I’ve decided that with reality TV, it’s best to watch the last two episodes, and not the entire season. That way, you only lose two hours of life, compared with about 20.

When I taught fourth grade in NC, I also volunteered with the elementary drama group at the school. We needed a pizza box prop for a play, so my friend, Michael, who at the time was an employee of Papa Johns, said he’d bring me by a fresh pizza box. The plan was for Michael to drop it off in the office.

As I was lining the kids up after P.E., I noticed their antsy bodies suddenly become still at they stared at something going on behind my back. My tiny and proper principal was walking into the gym with a big grin on her face escorting Michael and his pizza box. So, I introduced Michael to the class and explained he was bringing us a prop.

The kids were frighteningly well behaved. We all walked up to the classroom, and then Michael left waving bye as he walked out the door.

Immediately after, the students (who were busting at the seams) started the comments:
"Miss Richards, why did he say ‘call me’ when he walked out?”
“He didn’t say call me. He is my friend.”
“No, he said, ‘call me.’ We all saw it.”
“He’s just my friend. He might have said call me, but he’s my friend.”

And then, began the chanting:
“Miss Richards loves the pizza man. Miss Richards loves the pizza man.”

Kids are really good at chanting. It continued for the rest of the year, and the legend continued even to the next class of fourth graders.

My friend, Brad, was so amused by Michael becoming the instant love interest of Miss Richards (per the students) that he decided to drop by my class unannounced to see what would happen. He came in. I introduced him. He said bye to all the kids, and left. No comments after. Brad was really disappointed.

Michael has since left Papa Johns and is now a proud papa himself, but my relationship with Papa John is still carrying on.

Every Wednesday at Young Life, I eat Papa Johns pizza. It takes me back to the days when the Pizza Man used to bring me and my roommate, Brenda, free pizzas that were made by mistake. I try to eat before Young Life, but I always fall from dieting grace, and eat a few slices.

This week, Chick-fil-a came to our rescue and gave us a sweet deal on nuggets so we could feed all the hungry teenage boys and girls (and leaders). It was like eating quail after months of manna. Thank you, Chick-fil-a!!

Movie 1
If you have not seen Madea’s Family Reunion written by Tyler Perry, you need to watch it. Okay, it does have some cheesy smooth jazz music sometimes in the background, and perhaps a character in drag that is not Tootsie doesn’t promote an Oscar worthy performance, but I really enjoyed the movie and took a lot from it to apply to my life. I spent a lot of time laughing and crying—which I think are the two deepest emotions that a good movie can produce. One of my favorite lines from Madea, the grandmother character, is when she’s trying to seem tough, she yells out, “I shot Tupac!”

Watch this movie. It’s funny and has a good message.

Movie 2
Another movie scene that keeps running through my head is from Life is Beautiful. I recently saw the movie on cable again after not seeing it for several years, and I remembered some things about it that touched me. In one scene, Roberto Benigni’s character has been selected by a physician to serve as a waiter for the Nazi leaders while in the concentration camp. His character, Guido, is hopeful the doctor will remember their relationship from before (they used to be casual acquaintances and share riddles) will have compassion for him and his family and help them get out of the concentration camp. Finally a time occurs when they can speak. Guido and the doctor pretend to be casually working and standing at the bar area. They exchange some casual conversation. Guido informs the doctor that his family is with him. The doctor says he has something important to tell Guido. Then, the doctor shares his important news, which is only a riddle. Guido’s expression is hard to watch because his hopes are instantly crushed realizing instantly how this man views him.

That scene keeps replaying in my mind as I think about how sometimes I approach people with my own agenda. I’m quick to speak, but slow to listen. I forget to have compassion on their situation because I am overly concerned about my own. And I might be in a position to help that person, but my own hyper focus on the riddles in my head prevent me from seeing the need.

Text message episode of the week

I was trying to encourage someone in a text message and wrote a message with a small typo: “See. God can work big thongs in our hearts and change the way our mind thinks.”

All families go through hard times. Beth Moore has a saying to “hang on until you receive the blessing.” My family experienced a blessing after the hard time of dealing with my dad’s death from pancreatic cancer.

My dad had been diagnosed in late September of 2000. I journeyed to Houston with my mom and dad for his cancer treatment. During October, my sister and brother joined us for a visit. My sister didn’t want my parents to know that she was pregnant at the time because she knew they would have been worried about her flying. Before and after her difficult premature delivery of her first daughter, Marissa, she had miscarried several babies, with the last miscarriage threatening her own health. She told my brother and me about it, so we kept the secret. After she returned home from the visit, her doctor put her on bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy. So, while my dad was fighting for his life with cancer treatments, my sister was fighting for the life of her unborn child. Every week that a baby stays in the womb, more and more things about that baby grow and develop. Each week is vital.

When my dad died, my sister was not able to attend the funeral. The 3 ½ hour drive would have been too much for her and her growing baby. So she stayed home, and my mom had my best friend, Jason, make a video of the funeral. (Yes, that was weird, and I thank Jason for following my mother’s bizarre request.) After the funeral, the rest of the family joined my sister in her California king size bed (we had the kids watch cartoons in the other room in order not to scar them for life), and we watched the funeral video with her. I really hope it’s been deleted now.

On April 10, 2001, we received our blessing. Emily Faith was born healthy and not so happy at the time, but happy later. She is so much fun. She looks very much like my sister, but acts very much like my brother-in-law, so it’s a funny combination. And she does a terrific job of fulfilling her role at torturing and tattling on her older sister, Marissa, and being the baby of the family. Today Emily is seven years old. She is our little princess and rules her kingdom with style, humor, and grace.
Happy 7th birthday Emily!

I love this picture. I think it sums up their personalities. Emily is holding her big sis, Marissa.

Emily and her daddy

Emily's kindergarten pic

At the time all this was going on, I met another girl around my age whose father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 15 days before my dad. Her sister was also expecting. Her father lived about a year or so longer than my dad, but her sister lost her baby. Life can never be predicted. I thank God for his mighty hand upon our lives no matter what the circumstance. May we trust him and his wisdom.

When I was 24 and a teacher in Asheville, I traveled to Manteo with my friends, Brad, Preston, Brenda, and Robin, to enjoy some NC beach time for spring break to stay for free at Brad’s grandmother’s house. NC has state taxes, and I remember finally filling out the forms late one afternoon in the family room after we got back from chilling at the beach. I remember debating, “Does anyone else claim me as a dependent? Do my parents still claim me? Do I put a 1 or a 0? Hmmmm.”

I wound up putting the wrong one, and being a tax accountant’s daughter, it was kind of an embarrassment for my family, like the farmer’s daughter not knowing how to strip tobacco or wring a chicken's neck. After I told my dad what I claimed on the already mailed form, he told me about a form that was foreign to me at the time, the 1040X —- the amended return.

I did my taxes online last week. I copied all my info from the paper to the screen making sure I had put all the proper information in the correct boxes.

A few days ago, I noticed a familiar looking envelope lying in the floorboard of my jeep. I almost threw it out, but decided to look inside. There was my 2007 W-2 neatly positioned and untouched.

My mind processed something pretty quickly, but I double checked my submitted tax info to hopefully dismiss the pit in my stomach. But I was right. I had entered all my 2006 W-2 info onto the online tax service. DOH! My form has already been sent to IRS never-neverland.

My next step is to wait. I have to wait until I receive my refund (ch-ching!) and then refile an amended return, the good ol’ 1040X. Fun times. Fun times. I like tax forms so much, I fill them out twice.

This weekend, I ran the Aid Sudan5K. I’ve been training sporadically in the midst of weddings, memorials, birthday parties, petsitting, and ministry activities—which caused me to attend some events stinky. We ran the race at Bear Creek Park which blessed my soul because of the great trees and nice glowing green grass from the new spring shoots.

Seeing the Sudanese who attended the event was also a blessing. Some boys from Sudan whose legs probably were at my shoulder height kept passing me, and then I’d catch up with them while they walked, and then they would pass me again. It was a fun game because I would taunt them each time I passed them saying I was going to beat them, and they would laugh. The Sudanese I met were beautiful people with skin the color of very dark coffee, perfectly white and straight teeth which appeared in their beautiful smiles, and they had a presence of peacefulness and quiet strength. It’s overwhelming to think about where some of them have traveled and knowing that there are people they love that either died or were left behind in the midst of their country’s struggle.

The funniest thing that happened was that I actually won a running award! I received first place in my age group (which I’m assuming is the twerties). My mother said, “Finally, one of my children has won an athletic award!” I’m hoping there is a video of the event, so my family will believe me. The aftereffects of being a running champion have not been so pleasant. I’ve been feeling a little limpy since, but know that my bionic knee will eventually be feeling well again.

I just received a call from Cody's dad, and they are at the Red Lobster treating Cody to some lobster to celebrate.

His MRI results came back, and he is CANCER FREE. :)

I am so excited. Praise God! Please keep praying for Cody for the courage and strength to keep up his rehabilitation therapy and for his brain to keep healing. Also, pray for continued blessings for his family: Gerry, Pat, and Clint.

(click on Cody's name above to read his story)

I had a great college experience. It wasn’t because I joined a cool sorority, or learned how to funnel, but because I met people my age that loved Jesus—and were also goofy like me.

I attended the same college that my brother and sister attended, and planned on following in their footsteps of being active in Campus Crusade. I did attend CC and loved the people there, but also visited an organization that my brother described as “a bunch of fat girls playing volleyball.” (My brother has repented of this saying since, so please do not be offended.) My friend from home, Micheline, invited me to come with her to the BSU (Baptist Student Union). Even though my brother had said it wasn’t cool back in the heyday when he was there, I decided to check it out. The first night there, I was hooked.

What I found was amazing friendships, a huge group of friends with a mutual hunger for knowledge of God and his grace and love, and lots and lots of laughter. With almost every friend I had in college, I have some type of connection with through BSU. Originally I had worried about attending my alma mater, because it was viewed as a party school. I did party a lot, but not in the typical college way. Perhaps it was the geeky way to party, but I still remember it today, and it blesses my heart (and makes me crack up) to this day. Probably the biggest blessing was learning the joy of serving God (even when it makes you uncomfortable, e.g. using puppets).

I just found some of my old peeps via cyberspace, and I’m so excited. It’s so amazing to see that God is still moving through their lives. God has blessed them with everything from ministries, to spouses, to children, to new friendships…I feel so blessed to have these people be part of what helped shaped me into who I am today.

Some random memories for me & any other WKU-er BSU-ers out there that keep popping up that I will throw out like a college word memory soup:

Vision, Scooter, The Herald, NixB stories, chia pets, Dr. Love, D-groups, Grounded, Ernie’s bang, “I’m crazy about you,” Rick singing “Basics of Life,” Lundy x3, Pete jumping people, puppets, interpretive movements (oh dear), Danny as an asset, Pine Ridge, Amy Trimble, climbing the hill, the General Lee & the Omni, the cabin in the middle of campus, Zaxby’s, the Crackhouse, the BSU-ites.

I call this new word artform Haikoolio. I would be intrigued to see if there are any other Haikoolio geniuses like myself.

Chuck Berry Hill Shire Farms
Ice Cream Puff Ball Game Over Done
Holy Water Fall Sale Item

Warning: Actual clothing is cuter than what is appears.

The White Chunky Sweater
The Swiss Dot Purple Shirt

Remember the rules of shopping at Target:

1) Don't dress head to toe Target. Mix it up with other brands (and that doesn't include Ol'Glory.)
2) Never, and I repeat NEVER enter a Target store in khakis and a red polo.
3) If you see a cute item, BUY IT IMMEDIATELY! If you decide to go home and think about it, when you return, it will be gone.
4) Check clothing for poor craftsmanship. If you see too many loose threads or hanging buttons, save your money for Macy's instead.
5) Isaac Mizrahi is a genius. Mr. Merona is pretty smart. And Mr. Cherokee is okay.

I lived most of my life expecting my granny’s death. It’s an odd way to always have a holiday prefaced with this statement: This could be Granny’s last ______ (fill in the blank, but usually most effectively filled in with “Christmas”).

Before I would leave for vacations and before I moved to California for a six-month mission trip, I was again covered with the fear that Granny would die, and I would be too far away to be there for her.

Don’t think that Granny didn’t enjoy enforcing this thought. Before leaving for the aforementioned activities, Granny would keep me on the phone to tell me in a tiny, half-crying voice, “I’m just scared that my sweet little Bethy will be too far away to come to my funeral!”

I would have to reassure Granny, “I’ll be there. I will not miss your funeral.”

All of my siblings and cousins and aunts all experienced the same thing. Granny’s funeral would be a must-not-miss family event.

Granny planned her funeral like most girls plan a wedding. She had every pallbearer listed, as well as the hymns to be sung, the officiate, and even the dress. To make things easier for the family financially, she also pre-paid for her funeral.

My sweet Granny did finally get her wedding with Jesus, and it was absolutely beautiful.

I miss her so. She was one in a million. She could make me laugh so hard, and loved me and spoiled me relentlessly. And her funeral was a not-miss event. Although most of the pallbearers on the list had already preceded my Granny in death (my sister’s nickname for her was Timex), she had a beautiful funeral. All the family was there. And I found out some beautiful things about her life, like how she visited and supported her long deceased 11 year old son’s class all the way through their high school years. The class had dedicated their yearbook to my granny.

I miss Granny. And I’m so glad she engrained in each of her grandchildren (although perhaps in a bizarre fashion), a yearning for the life beyond the life we live today.