Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lord Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise (free printable)

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I feel as if I am a phoenix rising from ashes even though a lot of folks might look at my life and think it’s in ashes. I started this blog almost 2 years ago in an effort to write my way back to God. My, oh my, it has been a wrestling match at times.

Sweaty faith is not a pretty faith. I am finding, however, that sweaty faith is a tenacious faith. In the process of all that wrestling and sweating and writing, amazing things began to happen.

I celebrate those unexpected and amazing twists and turns with you tonight as a testament to all that I have learned in my growth as a blogger. 

Somehow, my journey of faith has been in parallel with my journey as a blogger. I don't understand it. I just know it seems to have been the way God planned things because that's how they've turned out!
Courtesy A. Hughes

In celebration of where I've been and where I’m going, I have a freebie to share with you! It's my first attempt at this part of my blogging journey. A day I never envisioned two years ago because, frankly, I had never heard of free printables!

While preparing our lunch today, I created a recipe for Bacon Cheddar Cornbread and got so excited when it worked (and turned out well) that I decided to try and make a free download. 

My heart will actually be in my throat until someone tells me it all works without a hitch. Because, you know me . . . I’m a-skeert nothing I do is gonna work right the first time I try.

I am, after all, that woman to whom the secretaries used to shriek in horror, “Back slowly away from the copier!” 

Who knew the day would come that I could envision, much less attempt, such a technologically savvy project! 

Click here for recipe download.

This recipe download is the 1st step in a brand new series of efforts. If you have become a Facebook friend of the Fraidy Cat, you know I’ve alluded to a new website. I am happy to announce progress on
FraidyCatCarol.Com   is well underway.

Courtesy A. Hughes
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be introducing you to what’s ahead on the new site and sharing how God has been faithful to honor my willingness to wrestle with him.

Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I hope to launch FraidyCatCarol.Com  by January 31st. Say a prayer when you think of me. These are exciting times. Exciting and scary. Know what I mean? 

Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010

Click here to read about how began writing my way back to God.

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sweatin’ to the Goaldies – Making Goals Fraidy Cat Style


I break out in a sweat this time of year. It’s not triggered by a frenzy of resolution based exercise, but I am sweatin’ more than a sinner at one of Billy Graham’s old altar calls. Everywhere I turn, there’s another blogger blogging about yearly goals.

If I see or hear the word ‘intentional’ one more time, I might be sick. My version of ‘intentional’ involves survival. I intend to survive today the best way I can. 

I’m a recently separated, homeschooling mom of a high schooler with a learning disability who is re-entering the depressed employment market after 20-ahem years at home. I plan to be breathing tomorrow. After that, I do the best I can.

I established long ago that I’d rather create a ‘done it’ list than a ‘to do’ list. Instead of feeling like a fool at the end of the day, I feel more like a conquering hero when I realize I accomplished something even if not what I planned.  I’m gonna feel guilty either way, so this way I feel less guilty. Feel me, sistah?

Not long before Christmas, a treasured friend started a group to encourage productivity. I applauded her on her bravery and tip-toed back into the shadows hoping she’d forget I existed. 

She kept nudging me, egging me on, encouraging me, till I sighed and signed on. Resistance is futile. I think she knew she’d win if she appealed to my inner social monster. Who am I to walk away from a par-tay?

In only a few days of interacting with her other victims, I mean co-conspirators, I had an a-ha moment about our motley crew. Not a single one of us lives a life of complacent luxury. 

We are all living life in the trenches. The urgency of life hounds us and leaves us feeling no matter how much we do, there will always be more to do. 

I postulated that each of us was far more productive than we could, or would, admit. As we reported in each day, it became easier to see how each of us was mounting a heroic, unsung, daily effort to serve our families well. Guilt to do more and be more hounds us all.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Being part of this group of friends who strive to do more in a healthier, more organized way is helping. Having a cheering squad to celebrate with *almost* makes me look forward to doing more.

Yesterday, I was near hyperventilating because it was time to start our spring semester. The load, juxtaposed on top of all my other jobs, was daunting. I turned to Facebook to sedate myself and only ended up with a bag over my head because my feed is now populated with amazing women who daily raise my bar.

Pondering my fate, I realized that for the last twenty years or so, I have lived my life in suspended animation. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somehow I lost me in the noise of coping with two complicated students and a complicated marriage. 

My goals disappeared into their lives until I forgot what it was like to have goals of my own.

Courtesy D. Scott
I face 2013 with a blank paper begging me to record some goals -just a few.  I’m afraid to write them down for fear of failing before I begin. In this new season of life, I can only redefine myself if I try.  If I do not risk failure, I cannot enjoy the fruits of success.  

Bit by bit, I am sneaking up on goals, really simple ones, from behind. I figure if they don’t see me coming, I have a better chance of catching them.  I am afraid. It is that simple. I want to be more than I’ve ever been, but I am afraid I am all I will ever be.  

Today’s simple goals: start taking down Christmas decorations, get all my user names/passwords organized, download My Fitness Pal and record progress, complete the school day, run to extra-curricular activities, write blog post.

What my day really looked like:  took down ½ interior decs, got most of my name/passwords organized, completed Fitness Pal project,  covered schoolwork (Lit, Algebra, History, and Biology), wrote blog post, did 3 loads of laundry, made lunch, made the run to Fencing practice.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Those long term goals will just have to wait till I have time to face them.

Are you sweatin' to the 'Goaldies' with me? What’s the scariest goal you ever set? Did you make it?

Proverbs 16:3 (The Message) 
Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010

Isaiah 42:16 
(Amplified Bible)
And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness into light before them and make uneven places into a plain. These things I have determined to do [for them]; and I will not leave them forsaken.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I’m Just a Paper Girl in an iCloud World

Courtesy A. Hughes

I run with bloggers. That’s code for: I run with scissors. Because in running with these gals, I’m gonna hurt myself one way or the other someday.

They are almost all more than a decade younger than me meaning their brains are more agile. A lunar module is history to them. To me it was current events. My agile days are over, but I still try to keep up. 

Until now, my shining technological achievement involved learning to operate a prehistoric relic known as a mimeograph machine. It was the only legal way to get a buzz in elementary school. I really do miss those ink fumes.

My introduction to computers involved rectangular sheets of cardstock and a humming, room-sized machine that seemed to belch while it punched holes in my cardstock. If I corrected a snippet of code in line forty-seven of my Fortran program, the computer spit back a snarly message. 
image credit

I think it smirked while saying I had uncovered 472 more errors for my trouble. Computers, and all things related, became to me what daleks are to Dr. Who fans – the stuff of which nightmares are made.

It dawned on me this week how much I've changed along with the times. My phone has more capability than the computers involved in the lunar landings. 

I tried to look up some statistics about the difference between smart phones and the lunar module computers. Converting the information into fifth grade English made my head hurt. So, just take my word for it. 

I find it rather creepy that they turn me loose on the public with this thing and expect me to use it responsibly. Geez. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
If you have the right app, you can drive the space station from here on a cloud free night. No pun intended. And not that I have any prior knowledge of an actual night when it wobbled in its orbit, mind you. 

This time of year my blogging communities explode with free and printable planners, fancy mind maps of business goals, posts about resolutions, and announcements of new link ups on fitness, diet, and living intentionally. They've develop all this great stuff using tools requiring nary a piece of paper in sight.

That would explain the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth you've heard this last two weeks. I wanna plead that it’s not my fault. I blame them. They make me feel as though I’m drinking out of a fire hydrant.

I pinned this, yes I did! 
I look at their color coded goal sheets and wanna say, “Hey! I just learned how to pin something on Pinterest!” I’ll never catch up because I can’t drink out of their fire hydrants fast enough.

This week, a friend and I talked about going green by going paperless. I told her women like me whose husbands have worked in the paper industry appreciate a less radical approach. Hey, I recycle!

The truth is simple. The very idea of a paperless life makes me dizzy. I’m learning all about the virtues of Google Docs,, Dropbox, Evernote, and the other stuff these young wizards are using. I've even gotten brave enough to work with some of it. 

Courtesy Mad Penguini Creative
As long as my medical doctor keeps renewing my scrip for vertigo, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

I’ll tell you a little secret if you don’t rat me out. Every time I make a virtual copy of anything, I see a dalek running toward me. The kind of dalek that wreaks havoc with cloud storage systems. 

Because I’m smart enough to see that dalek coming, even if my smarter, trendy pals can’t, I've got a backup system in place. I back up all my important info on notebook paper for safe keeping.

Courtesy D. Ahola
Old habits are hard to break when you are a paper girl living in a iCloud world.

Pssst...not that I'm one to spread rumors or anything, but if you didn't hear the one about how somebody around here made the space station wobble, you might wanna follow this link: 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Redemption and Forgivenss - A Bully Tale (Pt 2)

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I choked back bitter anguish. How long until relief would come? In the mean season of 2009, a collective spasm grasped our country as ever climbing unemployment numbers spiked. We escaped a second round of homelessness by the skin of our gnashing teeth.

While our family lived in two states, I longed for the day we could shed ourselves of this cursed house on this cursed cul-de-sac. Escape via relocation was out of the question because of plummeting real estate values.

October 2009
I would have rent my clothes and smeared myself in ashes but for fear of seeming crazy. Just when I thought things were as bad as they could get, I tumbled in the backyard breaking my leg in three places.

Waiting in the rain, first to be discovered and then for EMS, I had one sickening thought:  I do not feel safe for my son with two good legs. How in the world are we going to survive this onslaught of bullying now?

We survived on homeschool lessons, T.V. and computer games. The isolation nearly killed us both. He didn’t venture outside for the entire six months I was recovering. But for friends offering an occasional respite for him, we were on our own.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Anguish over lost dreams tormented me: tea, scones, friendship and all my other fairy tale cul-de-sac dreams lay in ruins. Anguish over my behavior that awful day and the awful things I said haunted me. Even more haunting were fears my son would never be the same.

In those days, I forced myself to pray with the boys because I did not want my doubt to sully their futures. No matter how I struggle, I want to plant relentless faith in them. I fought off the impulse to shake my fist in God’s face and ask, “Why? What did I ever do to you?”

We asked God to bring relief and to restore our cul-de-sac dreams. Oh, how I wanted to pray, “You smite ‘em, God, because if you don’t, I’ll have to as soon as I can walk again.”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Instead, we prayed for the cul-de-sac gang asking for restoration of their hurting souls. Wanna know the cold hard truth? I prayed those prayers thinking they had a snowflakes chance in you-know-where of being answered.

Son #2 got bigger, faster, and stronger reaching six feet at age fourteen. I’m sure those changes were great equalizers. He went away to camp and came home renewed in spirit. The specter of bullying lost its hold during the week away. His love of heavy metal music and the easy way he moves around in that community fostered respect where once there had been only disdain. Go figure?

With the hindsight of newly emerging maturity, he was able to deconstruct some things about his past.

Mom, you know how Aspies have a hard time deciphering and using sarcasm for humor? Looking back, I think the kids weren’t always trying to be bullies. I think sometimes they were just trying to tease and joke with me the way they did each other. I didn’t understand. We get along so much better now that I do.

Mad Penguin Creative
In that moment, I realized my heart had become a dried out sponge – as hard and brittle as if it had been left out in the New Mexico desert to dry. His words were the first drops of water dripping over my weary soul. And yet, I remained cautious and skeptical despite the number of uncomplicated interactions he continued to have.

As Christmas breaks approached this year, apprehension again gnawed at me. How would ‘those’ kids be with time on their hands? Trust doesn’t come easy after the worst, most miserable failure of your life.

Son #2 bounced in the back door. I smiled to myself rejoicing at the simple sign of healing. My irrepressible Tigger had returned.

Mom! Guess what? I just had an incredible conversation. You won’t believe what’s happened. He apologized! He told me how sorry he is for the way he used to treat me.

Courtesy Mad  Penguin Creative
Out poured the story of one young man’s courage as he faced his former victim and owned up to their hurtful past. He said he’d come to faith in Christ. That rebirth of soul compelled his sincere apology.

Tears, filled with both redemption and forgiveness, poured down my cheeks as I took in the enormity of it all. My youthful nemesis had become my brother in faith. His actions spoke more clearly than his words. The power of both echoed through our home.

A few days later, I asked my son to forward an email. I let my fellow Christ-follower know that we had prayed for him even during the worst of days. I applauded his courage in addressing his hurtful actions. I wished him well and told him he remains in our prayers. Now we rejoice in what Christ has done vs mourn  the pain we knew before.

I pray he will carry our mutual experience with him into the future and use it for the sake of others.  If his recent courage is any indicator, I would say he will serve the body of Christ in exemplary ways 
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

If I told you the truth, I’d admit I have a new cul-de-sac dream. It doesn’t involve tea and scones. It involves two young men standing together, tormentor and victim of his aggression, telling other young people about their shared journey. And, if that’s my daydream, can you imagine how much better God’s plan?

John 13:34,35 (The Message)
Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.

To read Part 1 of this story - click here.

To read the series re being invisible and homeless in America -

click here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Redemption and Forgiveness - A Bully Tale (pt 1)

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Hush now. Gather round. I’ve got a story to tell about redemption and forgiveness. Redemption I hoped would never come. Forgiveness I never wanted to extend. And the worst, most miserable and embarrassing day of my life. 

That oughta be juicy enough for you to shut off Facebook and Pinterest for a while, huh? 

I’ve lived in this house four long years now. When I got here, I thought it was God’s answer to loss and abandonment. I thought it was a Heavenly version of HGTV: Restoration Jesus Style. If you’ve followed along for a while, you know how that dream turned to a nightmare in no time flat.

It wasn’t enough that the economy failed leaving us at risk of losing a home and enjoying a second foray into homelessness. Nope. God wasn’t finished with me even then.

I walked up and down this cul-de-sac asking God to let these new neighbors become friends. I envisioned tea, scones, and Bible studies around my dining room table. Then, life became bitter without the sweet.

I changed after we moved here. I changed because of bullying. I watched my happy-go-lucky son with a George Lucas-like imagination dry up and die on the vine at the hands of bullies.

I’d stand at the window and watch – desperately praying for God to give my son the skill to meet his challenges. I was loathe to intervene lest I be accused of being one of ‘those’ homeschooling helicopter moms.

Courtesy A. Squires
They were four years older. The deck was never stacked in his favor.

He changed. Rage filled him. He became dishonest, foul-mouthed, and disrespectful. In the worst of days, I was afraid we’d lost him forever. I thought there was no way he’d ever come back to us.

He spent long hours outdoors and was thrilled to find a creek in the backyard. After the bullying started in earnest, he vacillated between spending weeks and weeks indoors with taking a chance on going outside. 

If it was a good day, he came in calm and happy. If it was a bad day, life was literally hell on earth.

I knew I’d hit almost rock bottom when I could no longer bring myself to look up as a car passed while I was in the yard. The folks I prayed to meet were now the ones I wanted to avoid at all cost. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
All I wanted was to get off this God-forsaken street. God blocked every avenue of escape even when my husband found work out of state after a five month layoff.

I hit rock bottom on a day like any other. Son #2 decided to give the kids another chance. While he’d had a lot stomped out of him figuratively, relentless optimism egged him on. I held my breath and waited trying not to watch. I tried to give God my burden. Something in my gut knew trouble was afoot.

Even now, I burn hot and tremble remembering how long I let it go on. He was not in physical danger, but the emotional beating was more than I could bear another second of another minute of another day.

He'd saved money for a laminator and made ID cards for some friends. The bullies were mocking him as they played keep away with one of the cards. He was nearly beside himself. He was calm compared to me.

I flew out the door screaming like a banshee. In an instant I decided to use language I knew they’d understand. I was no longer the ‘safety patrol mom’ as they had so mockingly called me behind my back.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Anger shook me so hard my voice trembled as I spat out my message. Any remaining dreams of warm and fuzzy social teas  died in the fire of my rage that day.

Three long years have passed. I have never spoken to any of those now college-aged children again. My family and I did what we could to mop up the damage and prayed the light would come back into our son’s eyes.

Often, I did what I knew I had to do. I’m telling you the ugly truth now: I did it through gritted teeth and a burned out heart.

Oh, fraidy cat, you’ve never seen me like this before have you? I’d never seen me like that either. I can’t wait to tell you the rest of this story.

If you’ve ever swallowed bitter tears while praying for your enemy, the rest of this story is one you might want to read. If you’ve ever choked back the prayer, “You smite ‘em, God, because if you don’t, I will . .  .” I know this one’s for you.

Since I know you love a cliffhanger, see you tomorrow

Luke 6:28 (Amplified Bible)
Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you].

To read the original story of how bullying affected our family, click here: Fear and Loathing in the Hood

To read Part 2 of Redemption and Forgiveness, click here
Redemption and Forgiveness - Pt. 2

To read the original post about our move to this house, click here:

A New Year's Resolution FUNNY