meandering simply

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

churchy chuckle

Several years ago during the singing portion of church a lady near the back started wailing. Wailing loudly. Her sorrowful moans and groans permeated the sanctuary.

The young music minister had a deer-in-the-headlight stare. Clearly he didn't know what to do with the emotional outburst that interrupted the music.

After a few awkward moments of this lady's bellowing dominating the air, the minister spoke. "Let's take a few minutes to pray. I sense in my spirit that there is someone here in pain."

As per usual I nearly lost composure. I whispered to Gordon, "You reckon?". He never appreciates my comments at moments like these.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

my opinion

Regarding the 700-billion dollar bailout, I'm inclined to agree with this guy:

We are now in the golden age of thieves. And where I come from we put thieves in jail, we don't bail them out." — Rep. Pete Visclosky, Democrat.

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a bear and an athiest

An atheist was walking through the woods.

"What majestic trees"!

"What powerful rivers"!

"What beautiful animals"!

He said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him.

He looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer. He tripped & fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him. At that instant the Atheist cried out, "Oh my God!"

Time Stopped. The bear froze. The forest was still.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. "You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"

The atheist looked directly into the light, "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps You could make the BEAR a Christian"?

"Very Well," said the Voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head & spoke:

"Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen."

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Friday, September 26, 2008

More wacky news

Would you eat breast milk ice cream? Just wondering.


Lessons from Boot Camp

I am extremely happy to report that I finished a month long boot camp this morning. My last exercise was carrying a 20 pound bag of sand while I ran and then pulling a truck tire from one end of the field and back. As I briefly recuperated afterward, several congratulated me on finishing the month. Everyone knew it had been hard for me. I was the sound effects for the group. "Uuuugghhh," was my common anguished cry as I fought through my push ups or triceps dips and really any other exercise.

This morning my mates told me they couldn't believe I came back for the second day. "I knew on that first day I'd never see you again," one said. Well I surprised them and never missed a day. They said I had grit.

There is more than the finishing boot camp thing that I'm proud of. It's big to me that I never missed a day. Every morning was a spiritual exercise to make myself go. Early in dragon boat season, I had an epiphany about how it was ingrained in me to quit hard things. I have a history of quitting things if I was no good, it was too hard, I was too embarrassed to be bad at it, it was too inconvenient,... When I had that realization early in the dragon boat season (you may recall how hard I thought it was), I knew it was a spiritual problem and I committed to finish the season if it killed me. Thankfully I learned to love it.

The same thing happened with boot camp. It was brutal, but I knew I'd be an internally stronger and better person if I finished. I committed to not miss a day and I didn't.

I learned that no matter how I hate the front end of it, (getting up at 4:55am isn't my cup of tea), or how I think "I can't take another step" during the middle of it, I always felt happy that I'd done it afterward. I was always thankful that I got out of bed and that I kept going even when I thought I literally couldn't do one more step.

I learned that striving toward getting fit is a boost in and of itself. I can't tell I look one iota different than I did when I started, but I feel better about myself. I lost a whopping 2.5 pounds. (Everyone encourages me with muscle weighs more than fat and I always like to respond, well that's a lot of muscle . Having lost 2.5 pounds doesn't sound grand, but I know I'm a better person, a more disciplined person, a more fit person from the inside out, and I'm not talking just physically.

I learned that sticking with something that is hard and that you'd rather not stick to has far reaching effects. Gordon and I were asked to do a skit at church. Let me assure you that I am no drama queen. I have a history of freezing up in front of people. I have always been content to leave the drama to my sister Stacie. I wished I could "act" but knew I never would.

When I was asked to be the bag lady in a skit, the first shock was that I said OK. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd willingly participate in a skit, and my part was a significant one. I said yes, and as soon as I gave it some thought, I knew that the willingness to try was directly related to dragon boating and boot camp. From both dragon boating and boot camp I had learned and was continuing to learn that the experience is worth something even if I'm a total wash up at it.

The day we did our skit, I wasn't too terribly nervous. You have to know me to know how big of a thing that is. Once I got going, I wasn't nervous at all. I was able to tap into acting skills I didn't know I had. Quite simply, I was a great bag lady. Everyone thought I was a born actress (or a born bag lady). They had no idea how far out of my comfort zone I was. I can't explain it, but I know it's related to both dragon boating and boot camp.

Another lesson from boot camp; I learned that I actually like the active life. I like physical activity. I was humiliated quite terribly in sports as a youth and have lived all my life knowing I couldn't do a blasted thing in the sports and physical fitness areas. Well it was all a lie and I learned it at 42 years of age. I am not the best, but I can do it and have fun.

I've enrolled in another boot camp. I'm dreading it. It starts Monday and it's a repeat of what I've just completed. (There's a chance the class will be cancelled because of too few registrants. In October the snow may come and the cold definitely will and most people don't choose to get up at 5am to exercise outside).

I've learned a lot this month. It was long, terrible, hard and I'm glad it was long, terrible, and hard and that I can say "I did it!".


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

This is lame, I know. But here are thirteen things I do everyday.

1. Click for Hunger I hope you do too.

2. Go to and read my blogs.

3. Either thank God for helping me survive another day of bootcamp or bask in it being an off day.

4. Wonder what I'll make for dinner.

5. Read the news on-line, usually CNN.

6. Have a big mug of coffee.

7. Wish laundry got done automatically, you know, by the laundry fairy or some equally helpful being.

8. Talk to the four-legged creatures around here.

9. Kiss all my babies when I drop them off at school.

10. Kiss my big baby when he leaves for work.

11. Read my Bible (except on Saturdays) and pray.

12. I bet you wonder why I don't read my Bible on Saturdays. I don't know. It just never happens on Saturday.

13. Sing. I sing the most when I'm driving.


a deborah kind of joke

Here's a little joke from Deborah.

Q: What did the farmer say when his dog went missing?

A: Dog-gone.


farty news

You know I love wacky news... I'm hear to tell you not to pass gas in public, you may get charged with assault. Be warned and remember, this probably isn't the first time I've saved your butt. :-)


Monday, September 22, 2008

Hurricane Ike pictures

These photos are from a news site called They are phenomenal pictures of Hurricane Ike's wake. Oh the destruction, eh? Click on the photos to see them better.

I don't recall ever seeing an alligator walking on all fours on the highway.
This one is taken 220 miles above the earth's surface. It's amazing how it captures the force of Ike.
Poor little horse. That was a close call.

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tip of the day

Here are some tips that everyone can apply to their lives to become greener. Some won't apply to all of you, but most of us can do many of these. To add a little green to your life, check out 50 things you can do to help the planet.


Friday, September 19, 2008


"The subject of self-esteem is a topic that has generated a fair amount of controversy over the last few decades, but one thing seems clear: you don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling yourself how great you are, or even from other people telling you how great you are. You get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that you find estimable.

"In other words, the best way to feel better about yourself is to do something worthy of your own respect: keep a difficult resolution, meet a challenge, solve a problem, learn a skill, cross something unpleasant off your to-do list."

I read this little gem this morning on the happiness project. Great food for thought.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Imagine me, Valerie, giving fashion updates. True this post is out of character and this fashion alert may be the only one you ever see from me. But I have to be the first to inform you that hats are back. Straight off the Paris and London runways I bring you proof. Yes, hats are back. Pick your's up today.

And just in case you don't have quite enough to worry about, read this.

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Tuesday Thought

"Could you go into the world without any evidence of your talents or success and be confident that people would be able to recognize who “you” are?"

I read that this morning on a simplicity blog . I think it's an excellent question worth pondering.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

flaunting my new bod

Did I mention I'm in boot camp and it's really whipping me into shape? The folks at church this morning didn't seem to appreciate my new look. I know my blog readers will.

(And just in case you're dropping by for the first time, this body isn't mine and the dress isn't either. :-)

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

overdose photos

My aunt sent me an email today. I forwarded it to a few and was told the photos didn't show. So here are some photos depicting overdose. Parental discretion seriously advised :-).

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"Think Simple Now" Article

The other day I read a disturbing article on food, actually it was more about meat. I wanted to pass it along and get some feedback. What are your thoughts when you read this? I really really want to know what others think.


Fat Cat

"My whole family, we're all big boned."

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Four

Creative, I know. :-)

1) This morning I saw a maternity t-shirt that made me smile. It said, "All I wanted was a back rub." Very cute.

2) As of this morning at 6:30 I am half way through my first stint of boot camp. Lord willing I'll do this again next month. Trust me, I'd never push myself this hard without a firm instructor.

3) Mondays are the days that nearly kill me, or at least it feels like it. I asked this morning if all Mondays will be as hard as this past Monday. The answer was, "It will get harder and harder, but you'll get better and better." I hate that I'm already dreading Monday.

4) I appreciate my husband so much. This morning when I got home (after boot camp) I went and laid down for what I thought would be 20-30 minutes. Turns out I slept an hour and a half. Gordon told Rachael to get everything going this morning and to wake me when it was time to drive them to school. I was so blessed by him for telling them to let me sleep and for them for getting the morning routine done well without my involvement. I slept in and we weren't even late for school. What a treat.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Good News in the News

Anne Murray had a song a number of years ago called "A Little Good News." Remember that? I read this the other day and was touched by the good news. I hope you enjoy it too.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Parents' Assignment

Deborah's teacher requested that all the parents of her students write something telling about their forth grade experiences. Here's mine:

Grade 4 Memories from Deborah’s Mom

The year was 1976 and it was a special year in the United States where I grew up. It was the Bicentennial Year. That means it was the United States' 200th Birthday. In a way, the celebration lasted all year long.

One of the teachers in my school drove a white truck with red and blue stars on it. "Spirit of '76" was painted on the side. It was cool to wear red, white and blue clothes. My mom made me a white dress with red stripes and blue stars. I also had a blouse that had a bunch of US flags on it. (Actually my brother, sisters, and I had matching shirts). I had another shirt that had US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, and US Marines written all over it. Now I think of those shirts and cringe. Then I thought I was so cool.

My Grade 4 teacher was Mrs. Barrow. She was old and her hair was perfectly silver. Every day she wore either gold or silver sparkly shoes. Maybe my patriotic clothes sound weird to you, but her sparkly metallic shoes were weird to me.

After lunch recess, she'd always read us a Bible story. Then we'd have to put our heads on our desks for "a rest." Poor Mrs. Barrow always fell asleep and we'd whisper and pass notes. We loved it when she fell asleep.

At recess we played basketball, football and chase. We had one set of monkey bars and a slide. That was all the playground equipment we had.

One day a big dog came to the playground and played chase with us. We had so much fun. A mean kid who was standing beside me pulled the dog's tail really hard. The dog thought it was me and turned and bit me on the hip. I loved dogs and didn't want to get the dog in trouble. My hip bled, but I wasn't scared. The teachers acted like something terrible had happened. They even phoned my parents. The owners had to come to the school to prove the dog had its rabies shot.

I was a good student, but you won’t believe it when I tell you this story. Once when we had a spelling bee I drew a blank when the teacher asked me to spell "use." A three-lettered word and I couldn't spell it. I was very embarrassed.

I remember learning how the earth moves around the sun. We had a substitute teacher and she brought one of those large outdoor candles that people use to decorate their yards at Christmas time. She plugged it in and we pretended it was the sun. She took a basketball, which we pretended was the earth, and she slowly walked the ball around the sun. That visual lesson helped me all through school to remember that the earth moves around the sun and not the other way around.

The most horrible thing that happened in grade 4 was when a boy in grade 6 tried to kiss me. I cried and cried. I was very afraid of him.

Other than the bully who tried to kiss me, Grade 4 was a good time. I hope your Grade 4 is great and no bullies try to kiss you. If one does, slug him or her and say, "That's from Mrs. Dykstra."


Boot Camp

Second Week, Day One.

Need I say more?

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Boot Camp

Friday I finished my first week of boot camp. It was hard. I am much much worse than the other women. They are younger, thinner, and fitter. Being the worst is a humbling position to be in -- definitely not my preferred spot in the food chain. I'm always last to finish every exercise. My teammates can't stop their drill until I've completed mine. No one is ever allowed down time, everyone is constantly working.

For example, we had a drill on Friday where we ran to the first pylon then back to the starting line, did 10 push ups then ran to the 2 pylon, ran back to the starting line, did 10 push ups, then ran back to the 3rd pylon... Since I was last and everyone was so far ahead of me, they had to keep doing push ups as I'm dragging up the rear. It's humiliating enough just being last. The pressure is steep to hurry. I was on my eighth push up in my last set and thought I couldn't do another one. They were yelling at me (not angry yells, more like begging and encouraging mixed). Evidently someone in the group slacked off because I heard the instructor bark, "You can't stop until she's finished her set."

Can you see why this is on hard on me and them? Being the worst is hard (and embarrassing) but being them is equally hard.

I was basking in finishing my first week at the end of class on Friday. (In this particular instance, "basking" resembles laying on my back looking like a very big road-kill but on the inside there's a smile). Instructor quickly ruined my revelry by saying that Monday will be a hard day, our hardest yet. That wasn't how I wanted to end the week. On the positive side, knowing Monday will be harder, I'm being careful how I eat this weekend so as not to increase my hardship on Monday.

As I was running on Friday the sweat was dripping off me as if it was pouring rain. Rivulets ran down my face and my clothes were soaking. I can't imagine it getting harder. I'll let you know.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Boot Camp Day 2

It only hurts when I breathe. If I lie like a corpse everything feels fine.

I've been reading 1 Peter and I've been meditating on 5:12, "The grace of God is with you no matter what happens."

This morning as I ran around the field at 5:30, thinking I might be leaving this world at any moment to receive my eternal reward, I kept chanting this verse (in my head of course, God knows I hadn't the breath to really speak it). Maybe I'm about to die, but the grace of God is with me no matter what happens.

The grace of God carried me through. It was harder today. We doubled the running time and we did all the same exercises as Monday, except we added 3 more sets of each and got to hold weights as we did them.

You should check out a boot camp. Fun fun fun.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday Tip of the Day

I have a tip. It's not huge, but it has freed up a bit of time. I read this tip on Mindi's blog a long time ago and never did anything about it. So my apologies to Mindi for not taking her tip seriously. I finally have and it's made a big difference.

This tip will only apply to those of you who read multiple blogs. Now instead of going to each blog personally, I just go to bloglines and they let me know when one of "my" blogs has been updated. I go to one spot and it's much easier and less time consuming.

Here's my tip:

Sign up and enter all the blogs you read or wish to read more regularly. Add to your favorites. Then every day go to bloglines and see if any of your people have updated. If they have, you can read it right there. If they haven't, you haven't wasted anytime looking for good reading.


Monday, September 1, 2008

about boot camp

Let me tell you about Boot Camp. First let me say I have marbles for brains. The words "boot camp" conjure up ideas of pain, yelling, exhaustion, and other equally charming words. (Insert, "Valerie what were you thinking?")

There is this torturous boot camp called Soldiers of Fitness. I wanted to do it because I thought that would really be impressive. I have a very very fit girlfriend who was training for a marathon in the river valley. As she trained, Soldiers of Fitness ran past her and they were carrying logs. Refreshing, totally refreshing. I guess it was my pride talking that made me want to do SOF. After all, how often do you see people running in the river valley carrying logs or people. I thought being able to do this would prove that I was fit and people would ohh and awhh and say, "That Valerie, is she ever amazing?" Yes, it was pride.

Darling Gordon looked at the brochure and knew intuitively that I was NOT in good enough shape for SOF. (That really wasn't rocket science, he was just a step ahead of me.) Anyway, once hearing that I probably wasn't fit enough for SOF, (I heard it from several sources) I started checking out other boot camps.

Boot camps are sort of expensive and still wanting to eventually do SOF, (as of this writing), I chose one called The Real You Boot Camp. It is affiliated with SOF and once taking it, I'll get a 20% break on my next boot camp. Money talks, so I signed up for it.

At 5:00 this morning I hauled myself out of bed and went to an empty field in the cold black night. There I met other women who've taken this boot camp before. (Clearly it's a good thing, because people come back.) I was the least fit person there, by a long shot. And the instructor punished the whole group for one person's (read MY) mess-ups. For example, during the plank, I let my stomach touch the ground and the instructor yelled, "We're starting over. I saw a stomach touch the ground." This is all for the building of team-work. "It's all about team-work. We don't leave anybody behind," she barked as though we were in the Vietnam jungle trying to get to the helicopter.

I was pathetic. Totally pitifully pathetic. I honestly think some of my badness can be attributed to the early hour. I was nauseous from the first "10-minute run to get the heart rate up." There were no breaks, just three or four 10 seconds to get a drink, which I thought was a commendably virtuous act of generosity. By the same token I was afraid to drink because I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. I never did, but I wanted to because I put on quite a show when I throw up. I know I would have gotten a break had I started the vomiting business. Alas, it stayed down.

I can't stress enough just how poorly I did. As daylight broke and class ended, I wanted to just stay lying in the field. My team mates were very nice to me telling me they couldn't do it the first time either. That's where I learned they are all repeat campers. They encouraged me with "It gets easier."

I sure hope so. It's going to be a LOOOOOOONG month if it doesn't. I came home and crawled back in bed and have pretty much been there all day, just getting up occasionally to take more Advil.

So that was my day. How was yours?