Believe in Him by Max Lucado

“. . . whoever believes in him shall not perish . . .”

The phrase “believes in him” doesn’t digest well in our day of self-sufficient spiritual food. “Believe in yourself ” is the common menu selection of our day. Try harder. Work longer. Dig deeper. Self-reliance is our goal.

And tolerance is our virtue. “In him” smacks of exclusion. Don’t all paths lead to heaven? Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and humanism? Salvation comes in many forms, right? Christ walks upriver on this topic. Salvation is found, not in self or in them, but in him.

Some historians clump Christ with Moses, Muhammad, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. But Jesus refuses to share the page. He declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6 RSV). He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said, “I know the way,” or “I show the way.” Yet he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: I am the way.

Many recoil at such definitiveness. John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds. The world is shrinking, cultures are blending, borders are bending; this is the day of inclusion. All roads lead to heaven, right? But can they? The sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but is it accurate? Can all approaches to God be correct? Every path does not lead to God.

Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation. He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort. Christ came, not for the strong, but for the weak; not for the righteous, but for the sinner. We enter his way upon confession of our need, not completion of our deeds. He offers a unique-to-him invitation in which he works and we trust, he dies and we live, he invites and we believe.

We believe in him. “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent” (John 6:29 NCV). This union is publicly dramatized in baptism, for to be baptized, as Paul wrote, is to be baptized into Christ. (Gal. 3:27)

Believe in yourself? No. Believe in him.

Believe in them? No. Believe in him.

And those who do, those who believe “in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Catching Up

Our sweet little dog Maggie has been diligently working on a flowerbed for us the past few weeks. Day after day she was at work in the backyard, most likely trying to create the perfect hole in the ground. But why stop at one hole? Let’s just dig 4 or 5 until they all combine to become one perfect ditch. And then let’s lay in it during the warm weather to keep cool. And then mommy & daddy will be so happy with what I’ve done and realize that grass was never meant to live there in the first place.

We are so proud!

I really should’ve taken some before and after pictures. This mini-landscaping job has been a long time coming. And perhaps we were asking for it, as she’s been slightly neglected, not receiving her 2 walks a day for the past month or two. I know. Not spoiled in the least, right?

Well, the top soil, plants, and mulch are in…along with a nice stone border, thanks to Seth. And Maggie was sweetly reminded that digging up the expensive azalea and/or its sibling plants would render severe conseqences. From her father. (Please. I don’t want to be the one she hates!) Hopefully there won’t be anymore backyard landscaping in the near future, seeing as we are limited on space as it is. If Seth had his way, our cedar tree would come down and suffer a painful and tragic death but I cannot justify spending money to cut down a pain-in-the-butt tree. Yet. Luckily the pansies and petunias are still hanging in there from the winter months so we don’t have to re-do the front yard yet…but I have a feeling this warmer weather will do them in over the next few weeks.

I took a quick snapshot of the finished product. I know it’s not much…

OH, I almost forgot about the best part of our gardening experience this weekend. As I’m working the flower food into the ground, my nose picks up on a horrible stench frighteningly close to where I’m kneeling. I freeze and 2 thoughts quickly come to mind:

1) Did someone soil their pants?
or
2) Did Maggie poop somewhere near here?

Then came the lightbulb. I calmly asked Seth the following:

Mary: “Honey…did you put some of Maggie’s poop in this hole?”

Seth: “Yeah I thought it’d be good fertiliz….get your hands outta there!!!!!!!!!!”

Gag me.

In other news…

Less than one month until the MS150! I had a great weekend of training and hope to fit in 2 more distance rides before the big weekend. Seth will be so sad when the bike rides are over because right now he gets to go play golf while I’m on the road. Needless to say, he is way spoiled right now. But he is a great help each weekend as I prepare for the rides…please, like I know how to pump up my tires, keep up the bike maintenance, and load the bike rack on the car. So his efforts do not go unnoticed. He gets up super early to help me with this every Saturday and I love him for it!! :)

Here’s an interesting article for your St. Patty’s Day enjoyment. It has nothing to do with the holiday, but I thought you might appreciate the head’s up:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23355862/

And sadly enough, I believe it. Once a stellar waitress back in the day, I can fully attest to the neglectful treatment of lemons (and pretty much everything else) behind closed doors. I’m sorry people, but when whiny guests are at their table asking for this, complaining about that, sometimes you just have to give them what they want, whether or not sanitation is an issue. We once ran out of clean forks, and as I calmly explained that to a male guest, he simply said “I don’t care…I just need a fork now!”

So folks. I gave him what he wanted. He got his fork, alright. But I stand by my previous comment that “we were temporarily out of clean forks”. Too bad so sad for him.

I’ll stop the blogging there :)

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

1 lb ground beef
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 cups tomato sauce
8 oz egg noodles
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute the beef in butter and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drain. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Cook and drain the noodles. Add the cottage cheese, sour cream, and green onions to the noodles. Layer in a 2-quart casserole dish starting with the noodles and ending with the meat sauce. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Simple yet tasty. It’s similar to hamburger helper, but homemade…so MUCH better.

One More…

Ok, I don’t want to overdo it on the blogging today, but I just get a kick out of Victoria Beckham. It’s a shame there was only one episode of that “Coming to America” show they had on TV awhile back when Posh & Becks decided to cross the Atlantic and join the ol’ US of A. It was a riot! And not because I think “wow, she’s so cool!!!”. It’s more like, “wow…she is crazy ridiculous!”

So, I’m sitting here, eating my lunch, surfing the latest celebrity news when I catch a quick little mention of the former Spice Girl…

“Someone give Victoria Beckham her own lifestyle TV show already. In a chat with British Vogue, the permanently stiletto-clad Posh Spice pokes fun at her top-heavy, size triple-zero body. “I would never put my health at risk. Obviously working out is important,” she begins, before cheekily declaring, “Well, I don’t. I have joined a gym, but I can’t bring myself to start. What do you wear on the running machine? I can’t bring myself to wear flat shoes.” Mrs. Beckham also has some anti-Cinderella advice for when you find that perfect pair of toe-crunching heels only to discover they don’t have your size: “I just stick toilet paper in — if that’s what it takes to get a nice shoe.”

Classic.

Giddy Up!

Alright, secrets out. I twilight as a barrel racer. Look at me go!


This poor girl (below) had a tough time during the calf scramble. That brat of a calf tromped all over her, kicked her in the face, ripped her jeans (it was almost an r-rated rodeo!!!) and more. Now why, I ask, did she persist to try and lead that calf into the ring to claim her prize? I have no idea. I 100% guarantee you that if a 200 lb calf stepped on MY FACE, I would probably need an ambulance. And CPR. She was a trooper.


Thank you, Paula & Ben for our fantastic seats!!

Rascal Flatts did not disappoint. I’ve heard some negative feedback about their past performances so I was trying not to set high expectations, but I think it was a pretty good show! Minus some shady dance moves and some psychedelic videos on the jumbotron
All in all, a great 2008 for the Houston Rodeo!

Lunchtime Slip

In an effort to bring a super-healthy lunch today, I think I actually overstepped my boundaries and packed one that would make even a football linebacker envious.

Let me start my saying this: I take pride in a fully-stocked pantry. I try to only make a grocery run every 2 weeks, so I will buy everything we need to “survive” in the meantime…including all the “just in case” items (Like if we change our mind for dinner at the last minute…you have to have the backup ingredients for something else…or if the president decides to stop by, you need to have enough pecans to make him a pie, etc). So needless to say, I might occasionally go a tad overboard at the grocery store. My children one day might love me for this. And be quite hefty because of it.

ANYWAY.

I seemed to have a lot of options this morning for “side items” to my Lean Cuisine pasta. Because…please. Those measly 300 calorie meals are NOT filling enough to hold me over for the 7-8 hours until dinner time. So, in addition, I included the following:

-vanilla yogurt (100 cal)
-pringles stix (80 cal)
-grapes (approx 100 cal)
-hostess mini chocolate cakes (100 cal)
-granola bar (150 cal)

What in the world was I thinking?!??!!

I might as well have gone to McD’s for a Big Mac and fries!! :) So, unfortunately some of those snacks will just have to wait until tomorrow. Which almost makes me a little sad because I love them all.

Tonight is another late at the rodeo! Here’s hoping Rascal Flatts pulls through for us. Not that I mind the rodeo part, but I wish they would start the concerts a littttttle earlier for these weeknight shows. That “6:45pm” time is deceiving since they should really say “2.5 hours of yeehaw rodeo fun, 1/2 hour of stage change and other nonsense, and 1 hour of your favorite entertainer at the very end!” Next year I’m going on a Saturday. To enjoy all of the rodeo-ness to its fullest.

Clash of the Grocery Chains

I had a feeling it was going to come to this. Ever since the “Kroger – Coming Soon!” sign appeared on my most un-favorite road (Rayford). Ever since the possible HEB location at Rayford and Riley Fuzzel was discussed at the last HOA meeting (which has yet to be started, by the way…and neither has the Chic-fil-a or Starbucks promised either…).

Before I begin the comparison, let me defend my bias. I am from San Antonio. Almost born and raised (at least during the years where I was able to capably observe my grocery surroundings) a devoted HEB’er. It’s practically treasonous to shop anywhere else in SA town. And almost impossible because HEB has pretty much taken over every corner and nook in that town. We spent family retreats at the HEB campgrounds. I took my lunch to school in HEB grocery bags. Lots of my friends WORKED at HEB. I lived within a 2 mile radius of probably 4 locations. Get the picture?

And of course this post was spurred by a frustrating experience at none other than…Kroger.

Kroger

1) If you spend enough, you get discounts on gas
2) They’re exclusive – you have to have a “membership card” (note…I think cards are ridiculous)
3) Their meat section is not THAT great (EVEN at the new one…how hard is it to package some stew or chili meat for me people??)
4) They have free samples
5) They carry certain products that HEB has yet to pick up on (i.e. Pringles Stix, certain kinds of granola bars, and ice creams)
6) I would say they have a better wine selection…except for the overcrowded Woodlands HEB
7) They have approx 28 check out lines…so that explains why only 5 were open on a busy Sunday afternoon
8) Kroger-brand shredded cheese is NOT good…has waaay too much texture
9) Their grapes were $1.50 opposed to the $8.50 I mistakenly paid last time at HEB
10) They almost always have Starbucks. But they’re always crowded. So that almost cancels out the benefit of having it.

HEB
1) They’re my hometown hero!
2) I did a project on HEB in college. They have a solid family-run business background and do a lot for the community (disclaimer: I have no idea what Kroger may or may not do for the community…so don’t judge)
3) Fantastic meat section
4) Lots o’ samples. When I stop by after work, I can almost always count on ample displays of cookie and crescent roll samples
5) Usually have a sufficient number of check-out lines open
6) Carry 32-packs of Aquafina water for only $4.99 (unless you catch the $3.99 sale!)
7) They don’t have crazy ladies playing the piano that make you want to shoot yourself while getting your groceries like it’s previously mentioned competitor
8) They don’t offer discounts at their gas stations (as far as I know)
9) HEB seems to be more popular with the Girl Scouts
10) Their fresh fruit and vegetable section is not a big open circle that becomes a free-for-all, with anxious shoppers ramming into each other

Clearly, HEB is the winner. Now I won’t go to the extreme I did with Wal-Mart and completely swear off Kroger. Because for the time being, it is 6 minutes opposed to 12 minutes away from our house. But I still have my qualms. They’re going to have to really do something magical for me to put a dent in my deep loyalty to those three precious letters that practically roll off your tongue.

We went a little crazy and saw BOTH Vantage Point and The Bank Job this weekend. While both were good, Vantage Point was super good. I would watch it again. And we went out to eat twice…in one weekend! Look at us! I think we went out to eat two times total last month. (Ok…maybe 3, but that’s it) Like I said…wild and crazy. Maybe this month we can eat out 4 or 5 times! We’ll see. Baby steps.

As I was perusing the classifieds during my lunch break today…NOT actively looking for a puppy in need of a loving family, mind you…I came upon a strange ad:

“Beta fish in need of good home”

What? People are adopting out their fish now? I’m sorry, but for the love! Just flush that thing down the toilet and move on!

Clearly it’s obvious that my love for animals does not extend far beyond dogs and puppies. Except maybe a cute little baby pig. Like this one!

Yeah, I would bring that home. Only if it came with a guarantee to not get any bigger. Maggie would still welcome Porky with open paws.

And I know you’re dying to know…but yes, we did Chatahoochie with AJ last night at the rodeo. What a good concert…one of the true great country singers who can sound the same live in concert as on their album. So we had a good time minus 2 things:

1) It took us nearly 2 hours to GET to the rodeo. It should’ve taken us 45 minutes. Traffic around Reliant was atrocious. I guess last year wasn’t as bad because we went straight from work downtown and got there early schmerly. Trying to get there the same time as everyone else = not so fun. Thankfully we arrived in time for the barrel racing. I really love the rodeo part too! And the calf scramble was hilarious as usual.

2) There was a large group of suspiciously underage-looking young adults sitting a few rows behind us. Basically, this group of 30 or so hoodlums was causing all sorts of ruckus. I knew it would bother me the minute they ran up the steps and started screaming and waving their snuck-in bottles of liquor in the air. Now, historically, I am a tattletale (just ask Emily & Rachel). And I don’t mind someone having the occasional beer or margarita at a public venue, but when you are disrupting the general public with your inappropriate shenanigans (i.e. the young gentlemen decided to use the top part of our section for a restroom…) I think someone needs to intervene. Luckily I didn’t have to because we must’ve had an even BIGGER tattletale also sitting in our section. So the big bad Reliant security guys had to bust into section 638 (I know….we were high…but next week we’re on the 4th row!) with their weapons and spotlights and attempted to regulate. Needless to say, I was disappointed in their methods of regulation and none of the crazies were reprimanded. So I accepted that I couldn’t really do anything about it, we moved seats, I enjoyed the show, and prayed they had alternate means of transportation to get them home (Along with parents or guardians that had a fantastic means of punishment when they got there).

Oh my gosh, listen to me!!!! I’m going to be THAT mom, aren’t I?

So excited for a weekend at home!! I will attempt 52 more miles (give or take) on my bike, spend some quality time with the husband, and not overlook the time change.