Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Mat Madness Book is out

The 2010 edition of Mat Madness is hot off the press! I published it with, a print-on-demand website. So, anyone can order a copy from Lulu. For people who want to buy one from me directly I have those too, you can save on shipping that way. Don't you love the new cover with the crazy picture of Wes putting in the banana split?! And yes, that's Trevor and Dave coaching. I was pretty happy with how well this photo fit the title. :)

For those of you who have not seen the previous edition, this is a book I self-published after a friend asked me to write down the answers to the basic questions people have about wrestling. I include several wrestling family stories as well, most of them humorous. This edition is updated to follow the revisions in the 2010-11 National Wrestling Federation Rule Book, and also includes a new chapter that made me cry again when I wrote it (that's usually a good sign).

The website is: Search Mat Madness and it pops up.

As always, if you read this I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fresh Cup of Coffee on a Frosty Morning

Frosty grass and frosty air surrounded me as I stepped outside preceded by two bounding puppies who needed to go potty. Holding my hot, fresh cup of coffee while I watched the puppies play was a good start for the day.

Then Mama Zoey came quickly outside sniffing wildly, as if needing to go to the bathroom right away. Then she promptly threw up (kind of a lot).

As if that weren't bad enough, the puppies could think of only one thing, "hot breakfast!" They were very excited that their mother provided this for them. I was not as thrilled.

Holding my cup of coffee I could pick up only one puppy at a time. I swooped up one and deposited him in the garage, along with my cup of coffee on a higher step inside the garage by the door, then ran back out to get the other happy, hungry, cuter-than-anything little guy.

With the breakfast still on their taste buds I was just about to head toward the dog food to calm the ravaged fur balls now jumping and playing around my feet by the door. That's when one of them climbed up the steps and took a drink from my coffee cup. He quickly recoiled from the heat and taste combined I'm sure. I quickly winced at the thought of what was on his tongue just a minute ago.

And that's when I decided that sometimes it's okay to have two fresh coffee starts in one morning.

I'm thankful for having seen the beauty in this morning...and for the laughter that quickly came along with a bit of inconvenience.

I hope you see the beauty in your moments today too, no matter what the condition of your Christmas preparations and everything else the day brings.

Photo of Westley with one of the puppies. One puppy is still available by the way!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

If I Could Carry Beautiful in a Basket

If I could carry beautiful in a basket it might look like a puppy.

You probably read about Zoey's ten puppies in my last blog. They are nearly eight weeks old now and three of them, the ones we've referred to as 'the triplets' are still here at the house.

One is going to a woman who had a great Christmas-present-for-her-girls story but can't pick it up until December 1. I'm a such a sucker for this!
Another is Wes and Trevor's puppy, Charley (right, photo at 5 weeks).

I was adamant that we not get another dog. I don't think I need more to care for, honestly, I don't. But Wes' puppy eyes were much harder to resist than the actual puppy eyes. He was smitten by this four legged ball of energy and he has met the demands I insisted on if he were to keep him...well, mostly (Wes, answer those early morning texts and let the puppy out, he is loud!).
That leaves one puppy still up for adoption, and he is so fun!
Even though these boundless loving little friends require a lot of clean up and complete loss of sleeping in, ever...I find myself thankful today.
Thankful for much more than puppies, but more about what they show me. That God is infinitely creative and loving, that He always has something to show us to help us grow should we choose it. Best of all, He loves to bring us joy in the midst of wherever we are.
My boys bring me so much joy, when they're telling stories and laughing with me (sometimes at me...). My husband brings me joy, the way he loves me no matter what. My friends bring me joy, always caring for me and walking through life's challenges with me. Thankful to be able to use what God has given me and make something good out of the mixture of stuff life throws my way.

I am thankful. I guess if I could carry beautiful in a basket it would look mostly like God and my family. I probably should get more pictures of them...
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

News Snippet

I wanted to share that a new little book I wrote and compiled came out last week! You're Sweet is the title, Barbour Publishing produced it.

I have thought of dozens of funny blog stories, like Dave as a jail bird at the costume party....

or Zoey letting her first born puppy fall out on the floor and look at it like it was a moving poop...But I am working on stories for Heavenly Humor for the Teacher's Soul. I am excited to have actual writing projects! So, the blog has more photos than writing this time.

There are so many stories to tell!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beautiful Chaos

I am so behind on blogging! Lots of work, 10 puppies and travel have kept me overly occupied.

But last weekend Dave, Trevor, and I went to New York City to visit our friend Tony, and also got to meet up with my cousin Matt. I've been there a handful of times now and it doesn't get old. I LOVE NYC!

OK, well, I do get frustrated when I can't find my way and get on the wrong train. But even when that happens the marvel of the endless different kinds of people mesmerizes me again.

On this trip, so many funny people scenes entertained once again, all amidst beautiful fall weather. There was the tough looking rapper looking guy in the subway who Tony accidentally nailed in the...upper thigh area...with my suitcase, then almost fell on him and the guy was cool with it. There were the talented street musicians ranging from full bands to single trash cans. There were the homeless guys fighting over food in the busy square and another guy asking them to take their fight elsewhere, so they kindly moved and continued fighting.

There was the block party with live music that Dave, and Matt, and I stumbled on where chatty New Yorkers welcomed us to the free burgers and beer. It was amazing.
Then, the rooftop of Matt's building with an awesome view of the Manhattan Bridge and some one's transformer car (that's a huge transformer emblem on a car in the dark photo). So funny.
So many different people and experiences. I couldn't stop the awe. The awe in God to make so many unique people and love each one so much.

Top photo taken from the High Line with a view of New Jersey across the Hudson.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wide Load and the Messy Mix

Life is usually a messy mix of really great things from grin to glee, and not so great things, ranging from just annoying all the way to disheartening rounding up on hopeless.

Today, yesterday, no different.

So, rather than unload the wide load, oversize dump truck right here I would like to site a funny scene from Malcolm in the Middle (Yes boys, I know, the show I wouldn't let you watch when you were little, you didn't need any more ideas...).

This is probably my favorite scene. It's Season 2, Episode 3 where Lois gives the boys money to buy something for her and they end up buying things for themselves. Then Hal forgets Lois' birthday altogether. She runs away from home. In her time of escape she goes to a batting cage to smack some anger out with bats in a legal way. Makes total sense to me.

Meanwhile Hal and the boys realize they need to get her back and they are trying to pull together a "this is all we've got but we love you" birthday celebration. Once the crazy crew locates her, she and Hal have a word at the batting cage. He says (with a high pitch intermittent squeak) something like, "we're at the top of our game here, Lois!"

She looks at him in disbelief and there are more comments I don't remember. Then, an onlooking motley clown says to her, "Listen Wide Load, the guy's just tryin to do something nice."

Hal looks intently at the clown accompanied by several other clowns. "Did you call my wife WIDE LOAD?"

A huge, hilarious brawl breaks out, shown in slow motion to the tune of a Kenny Rogers song. There is ankle biting and cake splattering with all the boys in full swing clown tackling comedy action.

Lois looks on in shock and finally, glassy-eyed admiration, for her crew who would do all this to defend her honor. Moments ago she had had it with them all, then suddenly, redemption.

Thank God life can be that way too. Redemption is always just around the corner.

Photo: a few of my crew...probably just before wrestling broke out in the living room.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spit, Broken Hearts, and Beautiful Labyrinths

Getting some exercise changes my whole outlook and my physical disposition. So I went running again today.

When I run I often feel the need to...spit. Spit. You have to get some of the crud out of you (in the field OK, I don't what I would do if I ran in town). I've not been one to pride myself in my spitting abilities so I decided over recent months to work on this. You know, just in case a car happens to pass by while I am spitting.

I discovered that no matter how much I improve my abilities in this regard, whenever someone is in sight this is when I will not spit well. I would rather skip the detail here. I will say that on really windy days things get rather dicey and can impair one's vision if speed and direction are not properly some.

Also while I run I seem to workout my heart in an emotional way too. Issues come to the surface. Sometimes I yell (also when cars are passing).

Today in between spit practices and laughing at myself, it occurred to me that I have seen a disproportionate amount of broken hearts over the summer. Sad, lost, or wandering hearts. It has been so hard to see, and to be one of them, mostly in the sad department. It drives me to my knees begging God to do something. There is too much pain in this world.

I'm not depressed. I went running, OK? Life is good too, I just hate seeing the pain. It's been too near.

Awhile back I was talking with a young woman, and we were sharing about some of life's struggles. "It's like a labyrinth." she said.

Honestly, I wasn't completely sure what a labyrinth was. I thought it was like a maze, but I learned some very intriguing stuff. For one, I thought it was like a maze but it's different in that there is only one way to travel through a labyrinth. There are actual life size labyrinths...I mean that humans can walk through. They contain winding paths, often within a circle, that lead to the center of the brain-like framework. The main thing is to move forward. If you stood still and forgot which direction you were travelling you might go backwards. It seems that the point is, focus, move forward, and get to the center of the thing, whatever it is, then find your way back to live life. This is what I get anyway.

I don't know how these strange little pieces of debris come together in my mind, but they do. Today the collage of thought reminded me that what God cares about is hearts, especially the broken ones. In the windy, winding paths of life where I spit, He cares about hearts more than anything else.

God, guard mine, teach it, and hold it. You are the only one qualified for this job.

Photography from

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back-to-School Grins

We live near not too far from the site of the National Tractor Pull in Bowling Green, Ohio. Every year this crowd of ...a few really roughnecks mixed with some good ole' down home country folk, arrive on the scene of 20,000 students moving into BGSU. At Walmart local Mom's are school shopping with their youngsters, and well, when these three crowds converge you can just sit back and enjoy the show. And why not, you're going to wait in line anyway.
The dirt cloud was still clearing from the weekend, when at our house, back-to-school morning for our BGSU boy meant bringing along a gallon of water for his radiator (With a good attitude, nice job Mitch!). Yep, it's that time of year for cars again. But really, what am I talking about, it's always that time of year.
Car maintenance with our fleet of six vehicles is like health care for a 99 year old on life support. Well, maybe a little better.
But not much.
I enjoy laughing about it, obviously. I find it way more fun than crying which I've also tried. It doesn't get results.
Dave and one his best bud mechanic friends, Storm, do most of the back yard repair, bless their weeping souls.
One time we had a free coupon at Tuffy that we'd bought at a fund raising auction. Okay so it wasn't really free, it was cheap - which makes me a cheapskate because of the fundraising thing, but no one else was bidding on that basket of stuff.
When I went in for my 'free' oil change and slid that little coupon across the counter, the mechanic came out from under my car with one of those computer print outs that the diagnostic machine spits out (maybe not quite as I'm painting it but you get the picture). My report was a couple pages long. The guy gently tried to break the news to me that the repairs my car really needed exceeded the street value of my car by $1,000 at best. I just smiled at him kindly and grabbed that jewel of a document for my blog folder.
But I forgot to tell you the funny part.
When I called Tuffy to set up that appointment a few days earlier I was in the middle of a few things. Some e-mail just chimed in and the cat jumped up on my desk and was being really funny. I started talking in the voice we have for the cat. He was saying something hilarious as I recall and totally entertaining me (I should not be a ventriloquist, I would get very confused).
Then I remembered that I had dialed Tuffy.
Gasp! I put the phone to my ear hoping to hear a busy signal (if you don't know what this is look it up on YouTube) rather than a human being. Worse. I had just left a message talking like a cat, for a cat, to men who use impact wrenches.
I hung up before they could hear my real voice.
Next morning, I called back on a cell phone hoping to God that they didn't have caller ID.
I love that life's hardships also bring laughter and joy along the way, strangely, and of course volumes of story fodder as well. It reminds me of Joseph, what the enemy meant for evil, God used for good. Yep, the good stuff.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coffee Please

Your print job is ready. No, we do not have an account for you yet.

No, we cannot laminate that.

Yes, it is raining.

It was just an annoying morning. So, I decided to cheer myself up with Starbucks while I waited for posters to get laminated (so they wouldn't pulpify in the rain....sure that's word, I just made it up).

Well, as soon as I made the decision to cheer myself up, the world cooperated with me.

This is not usually how it works, so it really caught me by surprise.

But literally, I no sooner turned on my heels after making the decision, with a heavy box full of print job, in the direction of that nearly intoxicating brew of beans, and people were opening doors and trunk lids at every turn, all going out of their way to pave my royal way.

Was there a sign on my head? I swear, I was dressed appropriately.

Even at Starbucks, a gentleman opened the door. The baristas recognized me, a regular, as I headed first to the cleanest and roomiest public restroom in town. By the time I greeted them at the counter, the cheerful cute blond girl said, "do you need anything more than your red eye?" (that's my usual coffee with an extra shot of espresso.....ummm, is there an Sbux open yet this morning?....concentrate!)

She smiled, sliding my prepared coffee toward me.

"You made my day!" I said. "I came here to cheer myself up, and you took care of that."

The guy with the cool braided hair asked what was wrong.

"Nothing big, just an icky little morning." I said.

"Because we offer counseling too." he said with a laugh in his eyes. "Spiritual help...." he grinned. I got the feeling he was genuine.

"Would this be Starbucks brainwashing?" I asked. "Because I'm good with that."

It was a nice little laugh, and the door was opened for me again as I headed out to my car.

But no one opened my car door. And that's where the time the world cooperated with me for a brief little respite, ended. But I had what I needed.

God is good with details that way.
Photo from
He comments: This is my Mom before coffee...actually, it was his photoshop skill.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beauty and Affliction

According to one of my favorite authors, John Eldredge, two things pierce the heart, beauty and affliction.

Now please don't get me wrong, I know what true affliction is. I've had my share. So, thank God that today affliction looked like this. Waking up to dog blood (warning, it gets worse) speckled on the floor and a pony sized stinky pile of poop. There, I said it, one of the most taboo words - POOP.

Trying to get out the door to a meeting I was delayed a bit by a 'discussion' with my husband. Then I found the car on E. Now I was really delayed.

Later at the work office, I accidentally picked at a healing scratch on my face from when the cat bit my face the other day. Yes, my face. And now it wouldn't stop bleeding. I needed to put the tissues in the bright red bio hazard trash can. I was a hazard.

In between here somewhere there were some good parts, nice people and a laugh with a co-worker.

Later, after figuring out an insurance bill while driving home from a grocery stop in 95 degree heat, I stopped to mail the payment in the nick of time to avoid a lapse in coverage.

I arrived home sweating in my dress clothes, even in the AC somehow, only to find that one of the cats used the large indoor palm tree pot as a litter box, also that he is awful with his burying aim as evidenced by the pile of dirt on the floor and the uncovered pile of disturbing POOP. Yes, disturbing, that's all I can bear to say about that.

Some more good parts came in about this time, along with Dave and I going off on a run together. I had put a few more songs into my running playlist that I hadn't heard in a while to keep me occupied for when Dave would pass me in the run. So, 10 seconds into the run I got to let the tunes play (in one ear, don't worry). And here is where beauty pierced my heart today.

The song Hallelujah, by Kate Voegele, came on and, I don't know, maybe the serotonin was kicking in too, but I got goosebumps. "Love is not a victory march, it's a cold and a broken hallelujah." Goosebumps.

Same thing listening to Susan Boyle sing "I Dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent. Seriously, if you don't get chills listening to this, in a good way, check for dark spot on your soul.

Beauty and affliction. Two more ways God reminds me that He is here for me.

Photo by Trevor Lee,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Glimpse of the Big Picture

Recently in a group setting someone stood up intending to say nice things, but I am sure she inadvertently made a dear friend of mine feel really bad.
Another friend of mine has neighbors who built a huge barn that blocked her entire view of the sunrise. They didn't do it for that reason of course. They have no idea how upsetting this is to her, they are just doing life as best they can, really.
Last weekend, I was in line at Cedar Point for the rockin' Raptor roller coaster, which I love! First of all, the sign said 30 minutes. Second, an 11-year old girl was breathing down my back in the 95 degree heat in line, repeatedly ripping the flip flops off my feet. Thirdly, the wait was 77 minutes. Fourthly, even if did the hiked out elbow crowd trick, she breathed on my elbow. I tried to smile and be pleasant.
Talk about annoying.
Thank God for Dexter to talk to and the interesting people to distract us. The 50-year old guy who thought everyone should see his abs. The gang member looking girl who was trying to look all tough. The couple who couldn't keep their hands off each other. The couple who looked like they'd absolutely had enough of each other sometime last year. And finally, the relief of the couple who happily unloaded their anxious 11-year old daughter on the crowd ahead of them, right where I stood.
Contrast all that to the view from the top of the Giant Ferris Wheel, another favorite of mine where I love to snap a screen saver shot (probably illegal). Even the couple with the screaming kid in the car next to us couldn't be heard when we were at the top. It was quiet with a breathtaking view.
The big picture is like that I guess.
Thank God, He gives me a glimpse of the big pictures in life sometimes, because it helps me put up with all the annoying people who are waiting in the long lines like me, and just trying to live their lives. Like me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rotting Potatoes Don't Laugh

I was sitting out back in my white wooden Adirondack chair feeling really sad about some things a couple days ago. I noticed with curiosity a sweet potato plant that had grown out of a pot full of deadness. It was now flourishing.

I also noticed dead leaves on the peonies where I suspect the neighbor's dog/pony 'marked his territory', but that's a different story.

A few weeks prior there were these neglected sweet potatoes in the kitchen. They grew alien limb looking sprouts on them, aliens from the murky waters of Middle Earth or Death Valley or something like that.

I was about to throw them out when Dave suggested I plant them. "They'll probably grow."

So, in as much time as it would have taken to walk out back to throw them in the woods, I cut the ends off them and stuck them in a rich mucky pot of soil where another plant had died. The insides of the potatoes had begun to rot I noticed, so I didn't expect much.

I forgot all about them until weeks later, the other day, when I was sad and struggling, and I saw they had absolutely flourished.

God has a way of using His creation to speak to me, almost like He has purpose for it all. How about that, I say to myself with second level sarcasm (because I know He has purpose it in, I'm just slow to see it sometimes....).

I started thinking about the process of that sweet potato plant growing and I realized some things. First of all, isolation in the dark was a bad thing for the potato and it's a bad thing for me too. Second, sometimes we have to cut into our issues where there is rottenness. It hurts and it stinks. But if we get them into a good environment, the rich soil of truth and love, where there is light to chase away the darkness and water that keeps giving strength, then life comes out of what would have been death.

So, I chose growth and not isolation, not only for the potato but for me, and I'm glad because last night I played Apples to Apples with family and friends and laughed ridiculously loud!

amazing potato photo by shelley lee, for much better photos see!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gawking and Perfect Timing

My family headed off in several different directions this morning. Dave and Wes to mow lawns. Trevor went to work, today for a torch run as a Special Olympics coach. Between my work appointments I stopped by AAA to pick up some maps in Perrysburg.

It's located in a strip mall next to a Churchill's grocery, where from a distance I could see at least eight police and emergency vehicles with their lights flashing amidst a big crowd of people. An ambulance was coming from another direction, sirens screaming.

My mind went everywhere with this. What in the world is going on? Surely, there was some awful emergency situation. My heart began to beat faster. I was suddenly more alert.

I try not to gawk in these instances. It slows down the solving of most problems and it's rather redneck I hear. I want to be helpful and by no means do I want to look, you know, conspicuous.

So as I got closer I tried to be discreet (i.e. keep the redneck on the inside) while noticing that there were also several motorcycles with riders in all black. Hells Angels?

Keep driving. Don't get in the way on the way to AAA, I tell myself. I parked close enough to see but far enough - oh whatever.

Now I see bicyclists, several of them! A run-in between Hells Angels and super fit cyclists? Ooo, this could be interesting. A rumble of sorts? Stop gawking. But I see no gurney. No one down. No one scrambling.

I use my maximum peripheral view as I walk with calculation to AAA. I need maps, honest I do. I'm not a gawker.

Then I notice a group of people with Downs Syndrome in the mix of the crowd and my crazy concocted rumble speculation is no longer calculating in my fantastical mind.

A light shines on my dark speculation.

Special Olympics. Torch run. Trevor?

With these new thoughts, now I'm gawking. Total intentional gawking, and the first person I see in the crowd is Trevor. He's taking pictures of the kids he coaches and families are gathered around in a wonderful warm cloud of encouraging spirit that wasn't visible from the road. The students were so excited to be a part of the event. Their families could easily be picked out in the crowd, beaming as the group posed for photos.

Trevor looked over at me in surprise. He introduced me to work friends I had heard about and grinned at my story of the chance meeting. Really, what are the chances?

To get to take in this scene made my heart want to burst, and I was so proud of him, watching him in this work environment. I watched the torch run procession go through the parking lot. Some Special Olympics participants only walked the parking lot and then headed happily with their families to their vehicles.

I uncharacteristically waited patiently for them to file in front of me into the traffic on Route 25 with an abundance of uniformed guardians, all looking very proud.

My words can't describe the beauty in these moments, I was caught up.

Contrast that to a woman arriving at Churchill's asking if I knew what was going on. Once informed she sneered, "How stupid! I thought there was really an emergency. Men!"

I just laughed not knowing how to interpret the many issues possibly in that statement. But I am glad I chose to see the beauty in it.

What an unexpected case of perfect timing. It felt like a gift. Like God was showing me that He has impeccable timing and He knows when I could stand to see it with my own eyes every now and then.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tornado Tonkas

This week I did something I've never done before, not intentionally anyway. I went to help in a disaster situation.

In about 9 hours it will be one week since an F4 tornado hit Lake Township, about a half an hour north of where I live, killing five people in its path of destruction. On Monday morning of this week my church sent an email out to see if anyone wanted to go help in the clean up. I was honestly afraid of how emotional I might get seeing the devastation, but I knew I should go.

That evening I found myself in a corn field west of Millbury, Ohio where an entire house was scattered over about 50 acres. There was no real instruction given. People just came and started putting whatever they found in piles for the wagon crew driving around picking things up for an elderly couple whose home blew violently apart and over them as they huddled and survived in the stairwell. (I know, that's a run on sentence, but it's a good one).

It was more than sobering to pick up the random personal contents of a home. Christmas decorations. Toys. A section of pages from a W-Z encyclopedia. Clothing. Bedding. A porch? Later, the W-Z encyclopedia cover.

After sobering and sad, came interesting, and sometimes funny.

One of the guys from church said, "I found a can labeled 'nails' so be careful. It was empty."

I had to laugh at that!

I found two Tonka trucks 20 feet from one another and just a little banged up. How is that possible? So interesting.

By the end of the evening I felt WAY more blessed to help than I felt I was a blessing to someone else. But I guess that's how it works. It was a beautifully exhausting experience that I couldn't stop talking about when I got home.

The rest of the week though, it felt like I was finding all those nails. While not to be compared to the loss the Lake Township folks have suffered, life just wouldn't let up for me. At one point it felt like the can of nails came at me like I had a huge magnet in me. Obviously, this is not the fun variety of magnetic power, but I had it nonetheless.

When I recovered from the big hit I took time to count the good things and thank God that I am still standing, like the Tonka truck. A little dented but still rolling strong!

(The above photo is taken from the east side of Lake High School/K-12 which is barely visible on the horizon behind the national power grid line, both were ripped through by the tornado.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bruce Lee Fly Slayer Extraordinaire

It was a fuzzy time of day. You know, when you can hear the world, but sweet sleep beckons you not to hear. But the CRASSSSSHHH at 5 a.m.ish could not be ignored, by one of six people anyway. I walked groggily out to the kitchen to find the cat, Bruce, busy at his most important work, fly slaying.

If the fly is on the ceiling, he finds a way to get closer and wait. If the fly is on a window above golden tea light glasses on the sill, they're comin down. And that's what they did. At 5 a.m.

Since then he has attempted catapulting himself over the kitchen sink to get a fly.

But I guess he is just a naive teenager after all, rushing forward with great hope and zeal, convinced that he can do anything, but not thinking past the anything to the consequences.

Later in the day when this picture was taken he came down from his stance gently, molding himself somehow around the somehow-not-broken-from-earlier glass and not toppling it this time.

I guess he's learning. Slowly growing up, one experience at a time.

As I write this Bruce hears a fly buzz and is attempting to scale a dresser down the hall. He needs more experiences I guess.

God help me to learn as fast as Bruce. One experience at a time, taking note that You still know what You're talking about, so I don't fall off the five foot dresser with super hero figurines cascading down around me as a fly buzzes around laughing.


Five stories I wrote have been published in Heavenly Humor for the Dog Lover's Soul. You can see that Zoey loved it that there are stories about her in there! I am very excited!

It's available at or a bookstore somewhere....or call me, I have copies too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ducks, Gravity, Death, and Bubbles

Playwright David Monet said, "We all die in the end, there's no reason to die in the middle."

Everything feels like it's dying around me. I know, that's a dismal outlook. But give me a moment, my favorite cat, Ed, is dying. One of my baby ducks just died (Not the one in the picture...and I know they're ducklings but baby duck sounds cuter). And my heart gets heavy thinking of friends dealing with far weightier losses than these.

On a daily basis time and gravity have their way with me. The age fight feels just an inch away from looking like a train wreck. And it's been raining for freaking I don't know how many days!

Okay, but it is spring, there are beautiful flowers in bloom. And in fuller beauty is my family, and my husband. I am blessed in many more ways than this world is cursed.

So, about not dying in the middle. I ordered ducklings, as you've gathered by now. I don't have experience with ducks, but we have friends that do (and just for the record, that dead duck wasn't my fault....). I took a risk. Went on an adventure if you will.

Same way, a few weeks ago at a writer's retreat I jumped in a row boat to enjoy a little time alone on the water. I almost let standing water and spiders in the boat (the kind that run with superpowers on the water) stop me from the fun. I forced persistence. Nothing a smack with my flip flops couldn't handle...a few times along the way, with banging echoes across the pond. Those sitting on benches along the water's edge ended up entertained, not my intention, but okay. It was fun and I was so glad I didn't die in the middle (I'm referencing the quote, not my swimming ability).

I think this persistence is God bubbling up inside me and I choose to let Him stay...and bubble.
I'd be a liar if I said I always let Him bubble in my life.
Sometimes the rains really get to me. But not this time.

PS- About Ed. I may choose to live in denial and believe that he simply moves to California. From there he will update his Facebook with all of his surreal feline adventures. You can ask Edward Lee to be your friend on Facebook if you want to see what he does when he...makes the big move.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Running and Saving The World

One thing I needed to get done today was mail my Mom's Mother's Day gift and parents' anniversary gift (they fall on the same day this year). One thing. But several work duties, challenging phone calls, and errands in between buying the last item to put in the gift box and the send-off at the post office. About 90 percent of the day's duties were abnormally frustrating today. So when I arrived at the post office where the sign read closed at 4:15, and my watch said 4:16, and the window is under steel lock down I realized that I may have anger issues.

When I am boiling up like this the best thing I can do for the world is go running. Some people recycle to save the world, but my largest physical contribution is running. I am doing everyone around me a huge favor. Not everyone understands this though. Take for example, the people in vehicles that seem angry that I'm also using the road and don't give me any real safety buffer. Or the recent passenger who flipped me off for no good reason I can figure (for those of you who are unfamiliar with such gestures, that's a middle finger, the bird, an f-you!). Really? Did I deserve that?

Whatever, back to today. When I got back to my home office I managed a few email items, and conversations before I grabbed my iPod and running shoes. Very soon the words of the song Forever Young calmed and encouraged me. I started thinking about eternity and stopped yelling out loud to God about crazy life on earth (as if He hasn't noticed). Soon after that the happy exercise chemicals starting kicking in.

Back at home I completed a few little home repair projects with the boys' help and planted some flowers with more energy. I was a completely different person.

I know that taking care of myself physically (and in turn emotionally, mentally) does this for me. I've known it for many years and know that it is a must for me to be the best person I can be. You know, so I can save the world and all that.

So, why do I forget? Why do I put off what I know will benefit me?

Each time I get out of kilter I am baffled by myself. It's the same way with me and God. I wonder why sometimes He seems so far away. But I haven't been listening to His words. He left me a few written ones and lots of evidence of His work here. Yet, I put off what I know will benefit me.

Thank God I am reminded, refreshed, and on track again at the moment.

photo of Westley Lee (you'd rather see a picture of him running than me, trust me!) by Trevor Lee,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Things Not As They Appear

As you can see by the photo we went on a road trip. And those of you who know us know how typical and eventually funny our travel stories are.

There is so much I have wanted to write about for weeks but haven't felt like I could do it justice. As I've thought about the many things I've experienced recently I feel like I can group several of them in the category of things are not as they appear.

In the New Orleans French Quarter storefronts are really dirty (cool & creative yes, but so dirty). The many tiny one-way streets and narrow walkways have a special ambiance but they also wreak of garbage....and more than a few people you wouldn't trust with your children. But our find ended up being this Bourbon Street pearl hiding beautifully inside an unassuming shell. It was awesome! We enjoyed our time in this amazing city, Jackson Square, Cafes, incredible street musicians, all amidst the dirt (here we are at Cafe' de Monde, delish!)

Still in the things are not what they appear category. fast forward to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. It shone bright with a massive zip line across a lake, beautiful bike trails, kayaking and white water rafting, all for one low price higher than Cedar Point. We soon discovered that the first thing we wanted to do, the huge zip line, was down for repairs indefinitely. The bike trails were closed due to recent rain. The rafting was booked, with one time slot left in the day..... BUT we enjoyed 'rock' climbing a lot, what a great work out! And Kayaking on the river where there was a crazy amount of turtles was really great.

Same category... rewind to an hour before we left for the trip (first stop Houston) when I got a call from my parents that my Grandmother, soon to be 94, had died that morning. She was the reason for our Florida leg of the trip. I was so sad. We missed seeing her one last time. But as sad as all of my family, lots of Italian cousins, aunts, uncles, sad to lose her, as I looked at her lifeless form I knew she was no longer old, frail, and limited. She

was in eternity. I can only begin to imagine how incredible things are for her now.

Indeed, things are not as they appear.

And about the Hood Up photo....the van was overheating on the last hour before our Florida stop which required pulling over every 15 minutes to pour water bottles and melted ice from the coolers (a fun sight for passersby), into the leaking radiator. Once we got to my parent's house Dave tried replacing the hose which didn't prove to be the issue. So, he found a mobile mechanic at the auto parts store. This model guy shows up in an old '79 Chevy van, turns out he's not a model. He's a mobile mechanic. But a few of us stood around watching just to make sure.

Things are not always as they appear.

Throughout our travels we frequently encountered some people who fit this category. Well, not the looking like models so much as just seeming way different than they really were. And some of them surprised me in great ways. The more I talked with them the more I found beauty inside.

That's inspiring. I want to be like that.

God, help me be like that. Better on the inside than I ever appear.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ghetto Van Moves Down the Road

"What?! You're selling the red van?!"

I'd heard this from more than one wrestler on the day that we put the red ghetto beast up for sale.

And I suppose when a vehicle is 20 years old and has gone on as many wrestling trips as this one has, its bound to have garnered some attachments.

"No, you can't sell it." (says a face in denial).

One of our boys thought we should bury it half way into the ground in the front yard, along with other Astro vans that bite the dust in the herd. The same boy thought it might be a 'viable' option to let her go out with a bang at the demolition derby.

As one of the bill-paying individuals in the household I thought we should place an ad that read something like:
Astro conversion van for sale, mature (250,000 miles) and actually dependable with many special features: child proof sliding door (only opens from outside), theft proof passenger door (only opens from inside), fold down bench seat (allows one older child to sleep diagonally), variable speed automatic window controls (sometimes they take several minutes to get back up), optional power locks (sometimes chooses not to lock some doors), theft resistant cargo doors (there's a nail-breaking trick to opening the dented rear door that chooses not to lock).....and there's more! Call 419-GHETTO-VAN

So many great ideas. None of them happened because the treasure sold in one day's time. Going, going, gone!

Next morning, the 13 year old Astro van wouldn't start.

Photo compliments of

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bittersweet and Bobbing

A flurry of emotions flooded me, none of them good.
Oozing over with anger and sadness at the State Wrestling Tournament in Columbus last weekend, I was fit to be tied, or smacked, or something.
My senior son, Wes, had lost his second match due to a foot injury in the first round. He was predicted to take 2nd and now his high school career was done. This was the first in nine years of four high school wrestling sons, that two of them qualified for State the same year. It held such promise!
I threw my stuff in the trunk (that required 5 slams to shut) and sat in the car for a long time trying to cool down before I headed back to the hotel in Nascar fashion. Doing quite well, I might add...with the Nascar part....I was northbound on 315 when I noticed something bobbing in my rear view mirror. You guessed it, the trunk lid. I couldn't safely pull over and nothing was in danger of falling out unless there was a half pipe around the corner. So I just kept clipping along with traffic while I pretended not to notice people staring and pointing. I just hoped my chocolate supply didn't bobble loose.
I grin now, but boy was I angry. At God. Yep, I usually go straight to the top for this stuff. I know He could have blessed Wes, but He didn't. Not in this way anyway. It made me seriously angry.
Dexter (sophomore) was 17 seconds away from being done in the tournament himself, and down by 3 points. I was starting to feel the tears of defeat when Dexter reversed the kid (2 points) and locked in his crazy wrenching tilt where he literally leverages his entire body on the kid until he turns him to his back - and it worked! He scored two more points in the last two seconds to win the match! This was a near heart attack I tell you. I bawled. I had friends and family crying. I had people who didn't even know me crying. It was an amazing victory for Dexter and he went on to place 7th in the state.
A bittersweet weekend to be sure.
Today a friend hit a point home for me, and I needed it. She said, (my paraphrase) "Shelley, sports teach life lessons, and the rewards they get later in life applying those lessons are the ones that matter."
I knew this, I really did. I wrote something like this in my wrestling book. The people they become, the commitment and work ethic they learn, this is what matters. I know. But somehow today when she said it, it was like I finally hit the ball that was pitched to me, and I smacked it out of the park.
OK God, I get it. I still don't really like it and I'll probably need reminded again, but I think I get it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cars Falling Like Dominoes Solution

The college duo -Mitch & Cody, were right on time getting out the door to drive to class, no time to air up the flat tire they found on Cody's car. So, they marched over to Mitch's car while Mitch said something like, "Ya Turd, we've taken my car for the last four days!"

But his car's battery was dead, so he had to get mouthy about something else now.
By the time I saw them, heard them actually, they were pulling out of the driveway in the 1990 Ghetto-Astro conversion van. Their mission: to give new meaning on campus to the word 'class'.

I was supposed to use Trevor's car to get to a work meeting because the van was in the shop. Trevor noticed a low tire on his car too and went out to work it. He came in too quickly asking how to use the battery charger. His car was dead too.

Yes, we were 0-3 on the lot.

So, Dave had to stop home for his lunch to jump start and charge up vehicles, while on his way to exchange the van for the car he was driving that needed other repairs.

Our solution possibilities?
1) buy the car pictured here (a girl's gotta dream)
2)hitch-hike (this is not safe)
3)fire up the mini bike & strap on the helmet (safer)
4) play musical cars (this is our personal favorite and wins every time).

Today all the dominoes are standing. It's a good day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


We're in the most intense time of wrestling season, and life is just plain busy. I don't have time to write a fresh creative blog story (obviously right, look at the date of my last post...).

So, I'll update you with the news that I just turned in a finished little book project for Barbour Publishing (a gift book entitled You're Sweet), the family & wrestling team are doing great, and our kitten is in fact, alive, after escaping into the winter for a night.

I thought I would do a quick little picture story for fun.

I need to relax a little more like this. Just in the middle of life....relax.

Dave and I did go to Maumee Bay for a night last weekend for our 24th Anniversary. We slept a ridiculous amount of time with this view out our window. That was one of the nice deep breaths in life.

A short time later reality awaited me at home...

Did I mention that I want to relax like this?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bruisers and popsicles

Life in a house of teenage and college boys is interesting. Other adjectives that come to mind: messy, funny, loud, challenging. But, mostly entertaining.

If they are not talking about Fight Club or movies of the like, they are hosting their own fight club of sorts (as evidenced by photo).

A typical conversation occurred the other night, accompanied by an unexpected humility moment.

Trevor was giving Cody crap about something funny, I don't remember all the background. But it went something like this.

Hanging out in the kitchen, a few of the boys were 'de-briefing' after an Elmwood wrestling dual. Cody thought a certain wrestler's stance was scary and thought it would be intimidating to wrestle him. Trevor (per normal) thought it would be fun to mock Cody. So, while eating his Popsicle (a staple around here) Trevor got in the 'scary' stance, acting all cocky, and said, just after taking the Popsicle out of his mouth, "Every time I wrestle you now Cody, I'm going to do this..." and then another hit off the Popsicle. This is when it flew out of his mouth and hand, somehow simultaneously, with perfect arc, onto the floor.

Everybody roared!

Trevor had to laugh too, with a face that said, "OK, I deserved that."

It took awhile for the laughter to die down. We enjoyed it.

Later I thought how God has a way of putting me in my place when I start getting overly confident. Humility, forced or chosen, either way, we all need it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thinker Sign

After a busy early morning when we had all headed off in different directions I returned to my home office and found this sign on the floor by the back door. It read "Pee here!"
Living in a house full of sarcastic jokers I had to think about what it meant.
The sign could have been dropped, blown, or carried by the kitten from its original site where perhaps someone was leaving instructions for someone else who had exhibited behavior indicating that they needed some direction (don't think about that too long).
Or, the sign was exactly where it was supposed to be, in fact, at it's original site, and was a warning. In other words, don't step here and/or put this rug in the washer.
I put the rug in the washer. Heavy duty, 2nd rinse. Got the story later.
According to Mitch, it turns out that the kitten was once again confused. Rugs, just like freshly swept up little piles of dirt, can look a lot like a litter box apparently.
Now I know what the sign means and it makes me laugh!
But it reminded me of how important it is to get to the bottom of things when we aren't sure that we understand the signs of life. Whether it's a comment made by someone, or a verse that we think we know the meaning of. Truth can never be over-rated.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Keeping Track

The head count was complete. The wrestling team, the statisticians, and one extra fan bobbled in their seats, headed to the tournament early Saturday morning. They didn't even get around the country block when Coach's cell phone rang.

He saw that it was one of his wrestlers and thought the call was coming from the back of the bus.

"Dad, uh, you kind of left me at the school." Dexter said.

Turns out that one extra fan threw off that head count.

A couple weeks later Dexter was the first one home from an optional wrestling team ice cream time. A little while later I saw the other three vehicles file in the driveway, one right behind the other.

Everybody's home, I noted from my cozy chair by the window.

A short while later while Wes lounged on the couch wearing his brand new wrestling shoes, his phone rang. It was Coach/Dad.

Not everyone was home.

"Wes, you guys didn't leave me a car. Someone needs to come back and pick me up!"
"Rrrright." said Wes, making his way to the door.

Seven people. Seven cars. Sometimes seven cars that run. Sometimes we carpool. Sometimes for savings. Sometimes out of necessity. It gets confusing.
Glad God's keeping track of us!

Photo above from Medina Tournament: (l-r) Coach Trevor Lee, Westley Lee, Nick Goebel, Coach Dave Lee, Dexter Lee.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Laughing and Losing

Wrestling is an amazing sport.

If you don't know this about me, I live in the midst of wrestling, wrestlers, wrestling coaches, and ongoing wrestling conversations woven into the fabric of my daily life whether I like it or not. Six men live in this house with me, the one I'm married to is a head coach and absolutely passionate about the sport. This is admirable and respectable most of the time. :) Two of my four sons coach, two wrestle. Another of the boys' friends lives here, he too is a coach. All have wrestled, still wrestle. Twenty minutes ago, in the kitchen.

On Saturday six of us played our parts at an intense day of team duals. And here's where my blog story begins.

My high school senior, Wes, was wrestling an opponent who was illegally grabbing one Westley finger at a time when the ref couldn't see it. Wes was winning the match all along, but would scream out when this would happen. Wes began to get very angry and frustrated. The opponent smiled boldly in satisfaction. It was a flagrant display of bad sportsmanship. I saw his coach quietly signal him to stop, but he didn't seem able to bring the despicable grin under control. Coach talked with the ref about a separate questionable call as the Wes' temper began to flare. At one point during the match Wes yelled over at his Dad/coach, "He's laughing!"

"I don't care, he's losing!!" was Coach's response.

That made everybody grin. And Wes applied more aggressive grit than usual to pinning the joker, which he did in the third period with a move something like that pictured (photo from earlier in the season, Wes in blue). Later Wes told me that while he was pinning him, the kid was pinching Wes' butt. Classy.

These situations can get me flaring in the stands. Thankfully I was able to keep decent sportsmanslike composure. Even while demonstrating the illegal one finger move on an opposing team fan who was complaining about the "whining coach" who kept talking to the ref. That was a high point in my day.

I couldn't get the "I don't care, he's losing!!" phrase out of my head though. It was funny but it got me thinking about other things, as usual.

I've got this image of God coaching me in my constant wrestling match with the enemy of my soul, and I'm yelling things like, "He's lying!" "He's cheating!"

And God calmly says, "It's OK, he's losing."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Progress 2010

No. Not another cat photo. I know.

I promise you though, I'm not a cat lady. The felines just keep giving me all these parallel stories that can't be overlooked.

After all the fighting that the incumbent King cat, Ed, has been doing in resistance of the newcomer cat, today, I found him grooming the kitten (he insists this was photo shopped).

Honestly already, you say, where is the parallel story?

Well, after all the Christmas greetings in the mail and seeing a lot people at several holiday events over the past several weeks, I found my heart extremely heavy with the brokenness that I see. There have been insults, rudeness, guilt tripping "should-upons", martyrs gone wild, manupulating madness, sensationalized stories that cause a glazing over in my soul, and then there's beautiful blind denial. There's more, but you get the idea.

Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of good things too, but this year was particularly laden with crazy stuff. I tried to respond with love, but didn't always hit the mark.

I think the best response I can offer as I start 2010 could be summed up in Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror" song (seriously, listen to those lyrics).

Today I sat and examined some things I need to work on myself. I set a few goals. I went running. I made nice hand gestures at passersby. All that felt good.

I also looked over some goals I wrote down last year and saw the ones I hit.

The parallel?

Some of the things I wrestle with like crazy now will eventually be my friends if I stay in the process, like Ed and the kitten. It may take several scratches, headlocks and head thumps to the floor, but it will happen.