Adventures of Old People

Um..not exactly the same results we got...not gonna post our results picture, though...

Um..not exactly the same results we got…not gonna post our results picture, though…

In the past couple of months my husband, Jeff, and I have been attempting to be more active. We are both athletic…or at least we used to be. Last year was spent with Jeff training for an Ironman. (He injured his knee three weeks before the race, putting an end to his triathlon dreams…bummer 😦 ) The year before that we spent 90 days doing P90X. Well, at least Jeff did P90x… I sorta did P45x…didn’t quite make 90 days. When  we were discussing ways that we could be healthier and get into shape we talked about lots of exercise plans. He suggested “cross fit” which involves some sort of kettle bell weight lifting. I suggested Zumba. 🙂 We both continued to sit on the couch.

In the midst of our discussion we came to the conclusion that if we want to be active we need to do things that we enjoy doing instead of forcing ourselves to attempt activities that we will eventually come to dread {insert awkward yoga pose here}. So we made a list of all the sports or activities that we have enjoyed in the past or that we would be interested in learning to play. Our list looked something like this:

  • basketball
  • mountain biking
  • hiking
  • tennis
  • softball
  • Frisbee golf
  • boxing/ heavy bag
  • racquetball
  • running (Jeff’s suggestion)
  • dancing (my counter-attack)
  • rollerblading
  • swimming

In the last couple of months we have actually attempted almost all of these activities AND found many of them to be quite enjoyable! The YMCA has a nice basketball court which is usually empty on weekday mornings, so we enjoy shooting free throws and layups, doing various dribble drills, and playing one on one. Jeff tried to make me think that adding suicides to our workout would be fun…I wasn’t convinced…and neither was he after we did the first one!

I'm totally gonna look for my disc this summer!

I’m totally gonna look for my disc this summer!

We’ve discovered that Frisbee golf, or frolf as it’s known on the professional circuit, is a lot of fun and much less strenuous than some of our other activities. This sort of low-key sport is definitely needed after several days of basketball and tennis! We’ve gotten pretty good at frolfing- we even have our own discs for long distance, mid-range, and putting… well, at least we used to have our own discs… I lost mine in a water hazard last week. Stupid wind blew my disc into the pond beside the hole I was aiming for! Yes, it was definitely the wind! An amazingly strong gust blew my disc into the water! Don’t let Jeff tell you any differently!

I think that racquetball is my favorite sport that we are learning right now. The YMCA has a court as well as rackets, balls, and protective eye gear that you can borrow. I tell you what – I’ve never found something that relieves stress any better than locking yourself in a big cinder-block room and smacking a little rubber ball as hard as you can! (Of course, I haven’t tried boxing yet…) Boy do we have a ton of fun on racquetball days! We take out our frustrations on that little ball, blow off some steam, work up a sweat, and burn some major calories – all while laughing at our clumsy attempts at coordination and praying there’s not a security camera recording our blunders! If the Y turns in a video and wins ten thousand dollars, I think we deserve at least half of that!

No, this isn't me... I normally wear long pants when I play. :)

No, this isn’t me… I normally wear long pants when I play. 🙂

All of this activity has led to lots of adventures. We even have a box in the back of the Jeep that we call our adventure box. Early on we realized that we needed to be prepared for anything, so we loaded all our equipment into a box that we carry with us wherever we go. That way if we come across a new activity we have everything we need to try it out. I looked in our box today and saw that it is full! We have tennis rackets and balls, hiking boots, a backpack with water bottles, goggles, biking helmets & gloves, frisbee discs, a basketball, tennis shoes, an ankle brace, a knee brace, two arm braces, an ace bandage, and a bottle of Ibuprofen. Yep… looks like we’re ready for anything! 🙂

Random Thankfulness- Part 1

I’ve been struggling to get back to writing on my blog. It’s been busy and my creativeness (and free time) has gone towards writing programs, planning outreach events, and keeping a good connection with my girls as they grow & mature. However, I miss writing! So, I’m easing back into the blog thing by focusing on my 30 days of thankfulness that some friends and I have been doing on Facebook. I’ve participated in this online “event” for several years now, and thoroughly enjoy it. It’s where you take each day of the month of November to post one thing you’re thankful for on your Facebook status. It’s a great way to focus on the positive and publicly draw attention to the people and things you are most thankful for. But…being the perfectionist that I tend to be…I turned my days of thankfulness into a stressful project. “Who should I be thankful for today? Who should come first? Did I mention God enough or should I make sure people know I’m thankful for God every day? If I mention my oldest child before my youngest, will her feelings be hurt? If I mention being thankful for my current church people will my former church people be offended? If I talk about being thankful for material things will people think I have my priorities wrong?” All those thoughts running through my head every morning as I stare at my Facebook page makes me feel…well…not very thankful. 🙂

So this year I changed it up. This year I’m assuming that everyone knows that I am thankful for God, my salvation, my husband, my kids, my parents/siblings/in-laws/friends/church etc. Since all the “big” categories are under the umbrella of “These-things-are-super-important-and-I’m-always-thankful-for-them-so-I’m-not-gonna-list-them-this-year” it frees me up to give thanks for all the small, random things that pop in my head….and it takes away the stress of wondering what people think of my status on Facebook…’cause we all know how vitally important to the spiritual state of the world a person’s FB status is! 🙂

So, for the next few days I would like to share with you some of my Random Things I’m Thankful For…in no particular order:

  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day #1: Music- waking up to “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” is much more pleasant than waking to a buzzing alarm!
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day #2: I’m thankful for Fridays! Knowing that Jeff and I get to spend the day together doing what we want… no meetings, no laundry, no “shop talk”, no stress… helps me get through even the busiest of weeks! And breakfast with my in-laws makes it extra good! 🙂
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day #3: I’m thankful for a small town school where my daughter can play basketball even though she wasn’t a professional ball player at age 10 and even though we don’t have thousands of dollars for fancy equipment. I’m thankful for a great group of girls and parents who make up her team, always supporting and encouraging each other. AND I’m especially thankful for great coaches who patiently guide & teach our girls…and who don’t yell at them…even when they want to! 🙂 Thanks Coach Chad & Coach Wilson!
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day 4: Really thankful for the extra hour we were given last night! I had to stay up late finishing writing the Christmas program (since practice starts today…nothing like waiting til the last minute), but even staying up as late as I did, I’m not exhausted! Woke up feeling refreshed and ready to worship & serve our Lord with all I am today!
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day 5: I’m thankful for Sundays~ a whole day dedicated to worship & rest! Yesterday was certainly full…but full of GOOD things! Good SS discussion, lots of help during children’s church, a fabulously fun time at the Secret Sister party & more laughs that I can recount at Christmas program practice! What a GREAT day! 🙂
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day #6: Thankful for technology which makes the world smaller! I can call my mom & sisters on their cell phone and talk for hours without worrying about drastic long distance charges. I can text people about random thoughts no matter what time it is or how far away they are. And I can count as friends many other women in ministry across the world! Thank You, Lord, for making people smart & creative enough to invent the things we need to keep in touch and stay connected to the people we love! 🙂
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day 7: Late Start Wednesdays at HCHS. I love getting to spend the morning eating donuts, drinking YooHoos, and discussing life with my girl before she goes to school! What a precious gift of time from an unexpected source 🙂
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day 8: $0.99 milk at Rulers Food Store! It’s almost the end of the week and we still have enough milk in the fridge to justify my drinking an entire (medium-sized) glass of milk with my breakfast today without concern for making it stretch until Sunday cereal night! Even better? It’s whole milk so it totally feels like Christmas morning! 🙂
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day 9: I’m thankful my mom has learned how to post pics on Facebook so I can keep up with how much the new babies are growing! 🙂 Such cuties!
  • Random Things I’m Thankful For- Day 10: Thankful for the beautiful sunshine! Even though I’m currently enjoying it through my window as I do my work…it still is brightening my day! 🙂
    This list will be continued soon…but in the meantime…what random things are you thankful for?

 

Summer!

So, I thought I could do everything this summer: church stuff, family travels, fun activities with my girls, housework, blog… What was I thinking? Obviously, the blog got left behind, and I don’t want to tell you what my house looks like right now… but we did accomplish a lot and had tons of fun just hanging out together this summer.

Here are a few things we did:

    • We had a great week of VBS at our church. In the past I’ve always enjoyed directing VBS- planning the schedule & emphasis, leading & supporting the leaders, and promoting all the fun details that help the kids and workers get excited about this event. But in the last few years I’ve had to take a step back from leading and be content with following. I must say, it’s not been easy. But I’m learning to enjoy simply doing my part and focusing on the things God has given me to work with. This year I was able to lead the music portion of VBS, one of my favorite parts, and had lots of fun doing it. I was not only able to teach the songs and lessons to the little kids each night, I was also able to train my youth girls to be leaders in the music area. It was really cool watching my oldest daughter, Mykaela, come into her own as she stepped up and taught music to her class. She’s really becoming a strong leader.
  • Group hug with 1st grade music class!

  • The week after VBS Mykaela went to youth camp in Missouri. They had a lot of fun and she bonded well with the others who went. As a mom, I was hoping this week at camp would be a life-changing event for her… you know, the kind of moment that she would look back on and see that God did something amazing in her life. That didn’t really happen as far as I could tell. It was a good week for her, though, and I’m thankful that God provided the funds for her to go on this trip!
  • In order to keep us from going crazy being at home together all these days of summer, we added a few regular activities to our schedule. Mykaela volunteered at the library in town twice a week, and Kianna participated in a reading program at the same library. Both girls also played coach-pitch softball at the Baskett Recreation League. So, two evenings a week were spent at the ball field watching our girls play. Neither of their teams did very well, but we were guaranteed to get a bag of popcorn and a Sunkist at every game (thanks, Papaw!) so we had fun anyway. 🙂
  • At the end of June we got to participate in the wedding of some friends of ours. I was the maid of honor and Jeff prayed a blessing over the couple. The wedding was long and included a full Catholic mass, so we were quite out of our element, but the experience was a good one overall and it let to some interesting conversations with our girls about what we believe and what makes Protestants and Catholics different. (It also led to some funny stories which I may have to share here later…but for now let’s just say it was…um…interesting!) 🙂

  • July 4th is one of my favorite holidays. Growing up we always celebrated with lots of family and fireworks at my Pawpaw’s lake house. Since we’ve lived away it’s been more difficult to celebrate, but I think we’ve finally found a good tradition for this important holiday. A couple in our church, who also happen to be our friends and neighbors, host a gigantic 4th of July celebration at their house every year. They make over 20 gallons of homemade ice cream and invite the entire church, the whole neighborhood, all of their family, friends, co-workers, every waitress at Cracker Barrel, the gas station attendants, the cashiers at Wal-Mart, the police & fire department, and anyone else who wants to come. Everyone brings their own yard chairs and piles into Ray & JoAnn’s yard to feast on homemade strawberry, chocolate, banana or pineapple ice cream. The highlight of the evening is when it finally gets dark and the men set up the trailer and set off the most beautiful fireworks in town. We all oooh & ahhh after every explosion because we know that Ray is taking notes as to which ones get the most positive feedback so that he can get them again next year. 🙂
  • One of my favorite events of the summer is when the World Changers come to town! Every year we supply our team with lunch every day while they are in town working on a construction or repair project. This year our team consisted of 16 high school students and 6 adults who came from Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, and Texas to replace the roof of an elderly lady in a low-income part of town. Every day during World Changer week a group of us meet at the church to slice watermelon, apples & oranges; make sandwiches, hamburgers or walking tacos; and organize chips, crackers, and cookies for this great group of workers. We set up a tent in the yard where they are working and bring them lunch every day. We stay and serve them their food and provide as much sweet tea as they can drink. This year they drank 25 gallons of sweet tea! (I was in charge of making all the tea, so I kept track… they had me worried that I was gonna have to go out and buy another 20lb bag of sugar just to get through the week!) 🙂

Our team ready to serve the World Changers

  • Since Jeff has been training for the Ironman (more about that later), we knew we would not be able to take a “real” vacation this summer. All our extra time and money had to go towards the Ironman. But God provided rest for us anyway. A couple in our church offered our family the use of their lake house for several days. It was the most peaceful, relaxing, stress-free couple of days that we’ve had in a while. We swam, kayaked, jumped off the cliff, played board games, swung on the swing, and drank our coffee on the deck. It was such a blessing to us!

Happy Summer from the Shouse House!

Looking back on it, I’d say we had a pretty great summer…even if it might be considered “uneventful” according to our standards. 🙂

The girls are now back in school (5th & 9th grades), the Ironman is over, and things are starting to get back into a groove at church. I’m looking forward to several exciting experiences in the next couple of weeks and trying to get my house in order so I can handle all the busyness without being too disorganized. I’m also excited about getting back into writing on this blog again. There’s so much I want to talk to you about! See you again soon!

PS: I would love to hear how your summer went! Anything exciting or relaxing happen these last couple of months?

Up For An Adventure?

A couple of years ago Jeff and I took a road trip on Route 66. In planning for this adventure I began to research all the interesting things we could see and do. My plan was to map out our route with highlighter, planning how far we would travel each day, where we would stay, what we would eat, and all the activities we would experience on the trip. It was quite the list. When I proudly told Jeff what I had begun to do, he was appalled! What is the point of setting off on an adventure if you already know what’s going to happen? Good point. So we compromised. I made of list of things I thought were interesting and where they were located but we didn’t plan every stop. We would just decide along the way. This was the beginning of quite the adventure!

General Store in Eric, OK

Our journey lead us to Eric, Oklahoma. Someone we had met along the way had suggested that we stop at the general store there because it would be a memorable experience. Boy, were they right! As we entered the store a man greeted us at the door and asked if we were there for the show. Always up for an adventure, Jeff answered with a resounding OF COURSE! They offered us a bologna sandwich and a cold beer and pointed us to a seat. The tiny room was crowded with a motorcycle group from England. We squeezed into a corner just as the main attraction made his appearance.   An energetic man with long white hair and beard, wearing nothing but red and white striped overalls, jumped on to a makeshift stage and began to sing while his wife, similarly attired, joined him on guitar. As the music filled the room, the man apparently was not satisfied with the amount of audience participation. So in an effort to loosen us all up, he passed around a large jug of Jack Daniels, encouraging everyone to take a couple swigs before passing it on. As the jug was passed to us, my husband, the pastor of a tee-totaling Baptist church noticed the video camera panning the audience… Great. This is totally going to end up on Facebook. Our fellow traveler was right: this was definitely a memorable experience!

A few days down the road we were feeling up for another adventure. I had noticed a sign for a place called “Pie Town.” Sounds like a place I’d like to visit! I looked on the map and it appeared to be about 20 minutes off the main road. The internet had mentioned Pie Town as a historical place where ranchers and cowboys would stop for rest during their cattle drives. The whole place was famous for (you guessed it) their homemade pies. Yum! Definitely sounds like an adventure worth going a few minutes out of the way! Two and a half hours later, after driving through the longest stretch of desert wasteland I’ve ever seen, we were hot and miserable and desperate to see civilization. Our water bottles had been emptied more than an hour earlier and our gas tank was running dry as we finally approached the infamous Pie Town. We stopped at the first café we saw and dragged our weary bodies up the steps, only to discover that they were closed…and they weren’t the only ones. Apparently, every restaurant and store in Pie Town closes at 4pm…it was 4:15. Wa-wa-waa… 😦

Part of what makes an experience an adventure is the risk involved. Sometimes you get Jack Daniels and a show and sometimes you get Pie Town. But if you never take the risk, you never experience either one. 🙂

The Show in Eric, OK 🙂

PS… Jeff & I have had many great adventures over the years! This summer I’m taking a break from serious writing in order to write about all of our fun experiences on the road. Check out my new Road Trip blog at View From The Jeep !

Gravy

Let me start by saying that cooking and I have a love-hate relationship. On one hand I can bake super yummy desserts (if I follow the recipe) and have prepared complicated dinners that turn out delicious. On the other hand my kids bought me a sign for my kitchen which says “The food is ready when the smoke alarm goes off!” Not only did their gift make me laugh, it is actually pretty helpful when we have guests, so they know not to panic at the sound of the smoke alarm…it just means it’s time to eat!

The other day I was dreading cooking supper. It had been a long day and I had forgotten to make a plan for supper. As I was standing in the kitchen praying that a Paula Dean genie would appear and grant me three wishes, my husband Jeff offered my second favorite solution to my supper dilemma: “Let’s have breakfast for supper!” (My first favorite solution, of course, is “Let’s go out/order pizza” in case you were wondering…) Breakfast for supper is a wonderful option! Throw some freezer biscuits in the oven, fry some bacon, scramble some eggs… no problem! That stuff is easy, quick, and pretty difficult to mess up (not that I’ve never messed up breakfast…but that’s another story…) But then Jeff threw in a twist: “Can you also make GRAVY?” Dun. dun. duuuun. My hopes for a simple meal crashed and burned like bacon left unattended (I should know).

For the record: I CAN make gravy. Two kinds even! I can make the gravy that you serve with roast beef and potatoes using the liquid from the crockpot, some flour, and a blender (don’t ask). And I can make sausage gravy like the kind my Mama makes every Christmas using ground sausage and some other yummy things that turn a little grease into gravy that tastes so good you have to put it on more than your biscuits! (You’ll have to ask her for the recipe~ hehe 🙂 ) But making breakfast gravy from bacon grease is a bit daunting, especially since I’m trying not to use my blender for gravy anymore since it makes my smoothies taste funny.

But my family wanted gravy, and who am I to deny them that one simple pleasure, right?  Then I remembered that at one time we used to have a monthly breakfast at church. One of the older ladies took it upon herself to teach me to make real breakfast gravy from scratch. I searched my brain to see if I remembered all the steps…I think that I do! Miracle of all miracles! I think I CAN make gravy! So, I got started. I remembered that she put the bacon grease into a pan with some flour and salt and stirred it vigorously with a fork while adding milk. Now, I also remembered that I just got new pots and pans for Christmas and was told in no uncertain terms not to use any metal utensils on them. How am I supposed to stir this gravy “vigorously with a fork” and not scratch my new pan? Aha! I have some plastic forks leftover from a recent birthday party! That’s perfect! So I get to work on the gravy. (as a side note…if you can anticipate where this story is going then you are smarter than I at this point…but please keep reading anyway…)

I’m pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the breakfast/supper preparations are going. The biscuits are in the oven, the eggs are fried, the bacon is crisp but NOT BURNT (even though the smoke alarm did go off a couple of times…) and the gravy is turning out smooth and very tasty-looking! Miracle of all miracles, I think this is actually going to work! My husband came in to check on things and I proudly showed him all my accomplishments saving the gravy, my crowning glory, for last. As I proudly stirred my gravy vigorously with my plastic fork I wanted to offer him a taste. So I lifted the fork from the gravy only to discover that the fork was GONE! All that was left was the plastic handle I was holding! I frantically searched the gravy for the rest of the fork…but to no avail. The plastic fork had become an inseparable part of our meal.

Here is where I should draw a spiritual conclusion… something like

“Pride goeth before burnt bacon and a haughty spirit before lumpy gravy.” Proverbs 16:18 (slightly paraphrased)


I prefer to refer to my experience as New Testament-worthy…after all, I did follow the biblical principle of women teaching and learning from one another:

“These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children…and make gravy” Titus 2:4 (additions mine)

But I guess the thing I learned most from this experience was… don’t use a plastic fork to stir your gravy! Not very spiritual, but definitely something good to know. And in case you were wondering… yes, we DID eat the gravy. Don’t judge me! We were hungry and the gravy was good and you could barely taste the fork… plus, I hear a little plastic is good for you, right? 😉