My parents named me Laurel, after the mountain laurel flower, but I've always gone by Laurie. I feel like I've spent my whole life trying to be what other people would find acceptable, and it hasn't been until recent years that I've thought more about how GOD would like me to be. He wants my heart to be seeking after HIM and not the approval of man. So, this is where I will be working out my thoughts, removing the masks (even my nickname!), being real, and making a FREAK of myself! ha ha Any other Jesus Freaks or just freaks in general or even non-freaky people are welcome to read, discuss, encourage, or be encouraged. Welcome to my brain . . . and my heart. :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Night Randomness: March Favorites

March is almost over!  Here's what I've been loving this month.

Best Reads:  I've been reading two books this month.
Click here for info.

Click here for info.

I'm almost done with the Duggar one.  It's a delightful read.  I just love those Duggars!  So encouraging and informative. Bono is a deep person, with a mouth on him. An unorthodox Christian.  It's fascinating to read what makes him tick. I'm borrowing the book, so am trying to get through it quickly, but I'm also putting some thought into what I'm reading, processing what he says through the lens of Scripture, and that takes time.  Bono is a complicated guy.  There's so much I could say, but I think that's a post in and of itself.

Foodliness:  LM and I have been loving us some vanilla Greek yogurt with cut-up strawberries and granola sprinkled over it.  Makes a perfect afternoon snack to tide us over until dinner.

From the Makeup Bag:  I love the L'oreal Naturale True Match Mineral Foundation.  The packaging leaves a lot to be desired, but mineral foundation in general is so much less of a hassle than liquid, in my opinion.  And this particular one does just what I want it to, and no more.  Love it!

Skincare:  Witch hazel instead of toner?  Don't mind if I do!  Doesn't smell all floral-y, but does the trick! 

Musically Speaking:  This was the song I was obsessed with during most of the month of March.  I still love it, but have gotten over it, if you know what I mean.

Home Theater:  We haven't had time to watch much of anything this past month, but, when we have a chance, we have been enjoying the Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix.  It's a Canadian show set in the early 1900s, and, though we have skipped an episode here and there, we enjoy the characters and the stories.  Think CSI, but less blood and gore.

Candle:  You know, I really didn't do candles this month!  I'm not sure why.  I love candles.  I'll likely get back into them in April.

App:  Still loving my Motivated Moms app for organizing household chores and anything else I want to add.  Here's a link to a post I did a few years ago that explains more about it.  Love, love.

Human:  This month I'm going to say Michelle Duggar.  She inspires me to try to be a more patient mom.  I've always wondered if her patience comes naturally or if she fights against anger like I do.  Reading the above book about the family, I discovered that she battles anger, too, and that encourages me! :)

Dental Hygiene:  Um, this is not likely to be a regular category, but I soooo love my new toothbrush that I got from the dentist last week.  It works well, but, even more importantly (?), the color is divine!!  I have never loved to look at a toothbrush so much in my life.  The color makes me happy. lol
Oral-B Advantage 3D White Vivid Medium...
The shade is actually a little lighter than this, but this is close.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Night Randomness: The 70s/80s Kid Tag

For this week's Friday fun, I chose the 70s/80s Kid Tag, and I tag whoever wants to do it! :)

I was born in 1968, so spent most of my childhood in the 70s and my teenage years in the 80s.

1. What were your favorite TV shows?
Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Incredible Hulk.  As a teenager (80s):  Moonlighting, Miami Vice, and the sit-coms like Cosby and Family Ties.

2. What show did you watch when you came home from school?
Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Munsters--it was always reruns, except when there was an After School Special. :)

3. What was your favorite commercial?
In the 80s, the Michael Jackson Pepsi commercials.

4. What was your favorite clothing store?
I'm trying to remember the names of them:  The Limited, Deb, Lerner, Beneton, Contempo (?)

5. What was the weirdest fashion trend you remember?
70s--gauchos   80s--Probably parachute pants.  It didn't seem weird at the time, though!

6. What was your favorite book?
70s--All the Nancy Drew books;  80s--The Flowers in the Attic series (though, if I'm remembering them correctly, I wouldn't recommend them now.)

7. What was your favorite toy?
The computer punch cards, paper, and file folders my dad brought home from work (the file folders held all the "cases" my detective self was working on) and the leftover dittos my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Cupp, gave me to play school with.  And Merlin

8. What was your favorite game?
Sorry!, Perfection, Aggravation

9. Who was your favorite music artist?
70s--Donny Osmond and Shaun Cassidy;  80s--Michael Jackson

10. What was your favorite candy and/or snack?
My sisters and/or friends and I would sometimes walk or bike to a deli on 95th St (Oak Lawn, IL) called "Country Kitchen," I believe.  They had penny candy there, and we would get Swedish fish, Bazooka, Smarties, etc.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Almost Time to Let Go

When you create something, it's like your baby.

My "baby" is being prepared now to be made public later this year.

For human consumption.

Open to scrutiny and haters and scoffers.

Oh, my heart!  My heart is in that baby!  My tender heart.  What will it withstand?

All the hours, the tears, the laughter, the sighs, the pain, the mingling of past reality and dreams. . .

I kinda want to hold on.

But, just like when a literal baby grows up and it's time to let go, there's excitement to see what he or she will do!

Maybe, just maybe, my "baby" will entertain someone, or even challenge someone to think about things differently.  Maybe someone will relate.  Maybe someone will change her path.  Maybe someone's heart will be broken, in a good way.  Maybe someone will smile.


Lord, my "baby" is really Yours.  It has been from the start.

Do with it what You will.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The One Thing I Want More Than Spring . . .

This has been a long winter.

But I can't bring myself to complain about it.  There's something I want more than spring, something that can't be procured through any outside source.

It's contentment.

I read an excellent book* on contentment one time (or two times, or three times), and the one thing that has never left my mind is the story of a missionary in Africa, who had to take her outdoor thermometer into her hut when the temperature reached 110 degrees, because any higher temperatures would cause it to start melting.

She had no air conditioning, no fan.  Nothing to comfort her as she tried to sleep at night. 

After she died, her daughter found a journal her mom had kept during her years in those conditions.  One of the entries was about what her missionary mom had learned regarding how to develop and maintain contentment.

The one point I can't ever get out of my mind is, "Never complain.  About Anything.  Not even the weather."

I've been doing my best to practice this ever since.  It just spoke to me!

Today, LM told me his buddy had started a protest against winter.  LM thought it was funny, and I probably would have, too, at his age.  But, though I wouldn't expect a sixth grade boy to be in the same frame of mind as me, and I don't think anything negative toward LM's comrade, it didn't strike me as funny.

"I guess he wasn't thinking about the fact that winter days are what God has given us for now, and He wants us to give thanks instead of complaining," I answered gently, rinsing out a glass in the sink.

"That's true, but it was still kind of funny," LM replied.

I completely understand what he's saying.  He's eleven.

But I've come to understand what that dear missionary woman understood.  I don't live by it perfectly by any means, but it's a part of me now.

Contentment doesn't keep company with complaint.  Gratitude nurtures contentment.  Contentment does not equal getting my own way.

Contentment is far superior to getting my own way.

So, I want contentment more than I want my own way.  Sometimes, anyway.

Therefore, I won't wish winter away.  I will anticipate spring and happily embrace it when it arrives.  But, I'm okay for now! :)

*Click here for purchase info.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fun Fridays: TMI Tag

 For this week's random, lighthearted Friday night post, I decided to do the "TMI Tag" I've seen around.  I have no idea where it originated, but here is my TMI:

What are you wearing?  Faded blue jeans, navy hooded sweater

Ever been in love?  Absolutely! :)

Ever had a terrible breakup?  Mmmm, not really.

Any tattoos? Nope.  I'm not anti-tattoo, just not something I've ever wanted to do.

Any piercings? My ears are double pierced, but, because of my sensitive skin, it hurts to wear earrings, so I think they've kinda closed up.

Favorite show? All-time favorite is The Brady Bunch.  My favorites on Netflix are "19 Kids and Counting" and "Once Upon a Time."

Favorite bands? Toby Mac, U2, Newsboys

Something you miss? Sometimes I miss my old record player and records!  I mostly miss family that I don't get to see often.

Favorite song?  Can't get this one out of my head the last few weeks.  The acoustic version is even more beautiful than the studio version.  My favorite lines are, "I can't fight you anymore, it's you I'm fighting for," and "Birds fly high in the summer sky, and rest on the breeze.  The same wind will take care of you and I, we'll build our house in the trees . . ."  So poetic.  Deep sigh. lol  "Ordinary Love," by U2
How old are you? 45

Favorite Quote?  "Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness." --Mother Teresa

Favorite actor? Jimmy Stewart

Favorite color? I'm far too indecisive to truly have one favorite anything, but to choose one color is especially impossible.  There are so many lovely ones!

Loud music or soft?  Depends on my mood.  Probably more loud than soft, though. :)

Where do you go when you're sad?  I often can't really go anywhere, because I have too many things I need to do.  Sometimes I retreat to my bedroom, or outside if it's nice.  Wherever I am, I pray.  I know God doesn't need me to be in a certain place in order to hear me.

How long does it take you to shower? Some of these questions are funny.  An average of 10 minutes, I suppose.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?  Anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how much "getting ready" I'm doing that day.

Ever been in a physical fight?   No, other than my sisters and I slapping and pinching each other occasionally when we were little. lol

The reason I blog?  I love to write.  Blogging is a way to organize my thoughts, and hopefully encourage others along the way, too.  This particular blog is an exercise in transparency, something I feel like I need to practice more.

Fears?  Spiders, tornadoes, heights--big time!  A bit of claustrophobia as well.

Color your hair?   I haven't for quite a few years.  I used to color it blonde in high school, and, maybe a decade ago, I went through a reddish phase, and then a blonde highlight phase.  I may color again someday.

Last thing that made you cry?  A tough parenting day today.

Last time you said you loved someone?  Today, a little while ago.

Meaning behind your blog title?  Look at the top of this page, under "Transparently Me" for the explanation. :)

Last book you read?  I think it was Reshaping it All by Candace Cameron Bure.

The book you're currently reading?  I'm going through two at a time, and very slowly, too!  They are completely unrelated to each other! lol  A Love that Multiplies, by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar; and Bono, a biography by Michka Assayas, a French journalist.
Last show you watched?  Okay, okay, it was a Brady Bunch episode with LM, okay? lol :)

Last person you talked to?  LM (my son)

The relationship between you and the person you last texted?  Hold on, I have to look . . . She's my mom, I'm her daughter. :)

Favorite food?   Trying to choose a favorite food is as bad as trying to choose a favorite color.  Mexican is always good, though!

Place you want to visit?  Besides wanting to visit all of our far-away family members, the places I'd like to go that I've never been are:  Ireland, Israel, Prince Edward Island, places where Laura Ingalls lived.

Do you have a crush?  YES!!!   I recommend nurturing a crush one one's spouse! :)

Last time you kissed someone?  About 15 minutes ago.

Last time you were insulted?  Hmmm.  Not sure.  I try not to take others' opinions of me too seriously, unless they are lovingly confronting me about something.  Not that I haven't been insulted.  I just can't think of anything serious enough that it stayed with me.

Favourite flavor of sweet?  Chocolate, of course!

What instruments do you play?  I took about 6 years of piano as a kid, but haven't kept up with it enough to say "I play the piano."  It was something I enjoyed, but didn't have enough natural talent to be great at it.  I'm okay with that. lol

Favorite piece of jewellery?  Definitely my engagement/wedding rings.  They are the most meaningful.  But then there are all the necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc. that LM has made/bought me over the years . . .  I'm really not into wearing a lot of jewellery, though.

Last song you sang?  See my favorite-right-now song above. :)

Who should answer these questions next?  I tag anyone who wants to do this!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mighty Mouth Mom

I've got this sore throat, see, and it's making me think about how I speak.

Most people, at least in their comments to me, think I'm nice and sweet.

My husband and son know otherwise.

Oh, I don't scream and holler, and I am nice and sweet to them, probably a majority of the time.  But my mouth gets the better of me more often than I care to think about.

It started out with Hubby.  During our dating, engagement and early years of marriage, I would unleash on him words that surprised me after I heard what I said. He was tough enough, wise enough, to see through my facade of words, into my hurting heart.  He was mature enough to hold me accountable for those words in a loving way, without returning insult for insult.  He didn't play my games, but didn't abandon me, either.  I didn't realize it then, but I needed his "tough love." 

The Lord grew me in that area, and it's rare that I speak even the slightest bit harshly to him.

But then there's my son.  My precious son.

We two spend lots of time together, and we're both stubborn in certain ways.  Plus, I often feel this urgency about him learning all he needs to know and being all he needs to be by the time he leaves the nest.  I let the panic get the better of me sometimes, and I don't watch my words.

I'm not talking here about cursing at him or yelling at the top of my lungs.

But, I'm too often not careful.

Everyone else in my life gets the benefit of my stopping to think before speaking something difficult.  It's the way it should be done, and everyone deserves that courtesy.

But my precious gift from God doesn't always receive that courtesy.  That respect.  From his mom.

I'm getting better.  I really am.  But I'm not there yet.  I don't know if I'll ever be "there."  Has there ever been a mom who consistently spoke perfectly to her children?  I don't want to be too hard on myself, yet I don't want to let myself off the hook too easily, either. 

Because, no matter what anyone else does or doesn't do, I'm still responsible for my words, and for the spirit in which I say them.

Our precious treasure came to us as a wounded, angry toddler.  It hurts my heart deeply to think that anything I've said, or how I've said it, has wounded him more deeply, or opened wounds that could have remained mended.

It's the healing words he needs from us.  Accountability, absolutely!  But not with careless words or attitudes.

Maybe LM isn't all that different from any other child.  Yes, he had a rough start to his life, but every child is born, with a sinful nature, into this cold, cruel world.  Every child hurts over something.  Every child has a God-shaped hole in his/her heart and is trying to figure out what goes there.  Do we show them how God really is by the way we treat them and speak to them, or do we misrepresent Him with carelessness?

Lord, help me to speak words of life and encouragement and truth into my son's life, with an attitude of humility.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When I Couldn't Say "I Love You"

Why can't I have a romantic cry once in awhile?  You know, like in the movies or in books, where a girl can wade on a sandy shore while she cries, or lie on a lofty tree branch, or stroll a grassy meadow, surrounded by sweet-smelling wildflowers?

I'd settle for escaping to the shade of the apple trees in our "back 40" on a sunny spring day, apple blossoms showering their fragrant petals over my face to wipe away my tears . . .

. . . or whatever.

But, no.  When I have a chance to cry at all, it's usually at the most inopportune times, when some straw or another has broken the camel's back, and there's no time or opportunity to choose a location.  While washing dishes, while sorting laundry, while teaching my son algebra or sentence diagramming.  It's never "right."  It's never dramatic in a good way.

I did have a perfectly romantic cry once in my life.  And it wasn't just romantic in the sense of imaginative or impractical, but it involved a boy-girl romance-romance!

Yes, I was in college and spending lots of time with Kevin (my now-husband for anyone who didn't know!).  We sat on a bench or a ledge somewhere on/near a beach in Chicago, the waters of Lake Michigan meeting the sky in the distance, the wind blowing through my hair (um, I had an asymmetrical hairstyle at the time, and the only part long enough to move around with the wind was the front--no full head of shiny locks to float on the breeze, but still!).  On the other side of me, the city lights twinkled and winked, and their beauty seemed to exist just for our sake.

I don't remember the small talk that preceded these words, but I remember the important part.

"I love you," said he.

And then I cried.  It was like we were the only two people in the world, and it was the first time I cried in front of him.  It wasn't that I didn't love him.  I did very much.  But, for some weird reason, I couldn't bring myself to say it out loud.  I had misused that word "love" too many times.  I knew Kevin was the real thing, and that scared me senseless for awhile!  I was afraid of true love, afraid I would fail.  I didn't know how to deal with true love.  I knew I had to treat it differently than the game-playing and attempts to control others that I had been guilty of before.

I loved him, but I just couldn't bring myself to say so.

I'll never forget how he swung down from the bench, got down on one knee so he could see me face-to-face, and kindly asked, "What's wrong?" in the quietest, most tender of voices.  He took my hand and just waited patiently for me to finish crying (like he has so many times since).  If he was unsettled by my tears, he never showed it.  He brushed my hair from my eyes a time or two and whispered a compassionate encouragement every now and then.

I cried mainly because I didn't know what was wrong with me.  Why could I not verbalize what was in my heart to the only one those words had ever truly applied?  I had easily said them before when I only thought they meant something.  Now they really did, and I couldn't utter them.

I wonder how he felt that night.  I haven't asked him if he even remembers it.  I think of it every few years or so, but I never remember to ask him that question.  I'll bet I will now, though. :)

Obviously, the story doesn't end there.

A few days later, he called me right before being wheeled to the health center because of a dangerously high fever and severe abdominal pain.  It turned out he had food poisoning and would be fine, but I didn't know that at the time.  I met him there as he arrived and was shocked at the green tint to his face.  I hadn't realized people could really look green!  I so wanted to say, "I love you!" as the nurse pushed his wheelchair toward the mysterious, unseen back rooms.  I wondered if he was going to die without knowing how I felt.

The "mean" nurse wouldn't let me back to see him, so I wrote a note, which she agreed to take to him.  I wrote all kinds of things about how I hoped he would feel better quickly and that I would be praying for him.  Then, as if an afterthought, on the bottom of the paper I wrote, "By the way, I love you."  We laugh about that all these years later (that was 26 years ago!!).

So, yeah, it was kind of a back-handed way, but it was a start!  After that, I had no trouble saying those words, except, over the next several years of our engagement and new marriage, when I would withhold those words out of anger, to "make a point."

Now, I still become angry sometimes, but I can't ever withhold those words.  In fact, though I say them to him several times every day, I make an extra effort to make sure I say them when I'm angry.  I've learned that love certainly doesn't end because of a disagreement.  The only thing that causes love to end is when one or both people allow it to.  Period.

So, anyway, I should be grateful I've had a romantic cry in my lifetime:  romantic setting, romantic circumstances, romantic outcome.  I'll remember that the next time I'm blubbering as I'm cleaning the toilet or folding laundry, and wishing I could escape to the apple trees. ;)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Grace and the Single Mom

She knows how she got here, but not the particulars of how she'll get through it.

A childhood races by so fast looking back, but when Baby's not quite here yet, Mama's staring uncomfortably at an overwhelming path of mountains and valleys that disappears into the horizon.

Alone.  Baby Daddy has other plans.


Except, she isn't really!

Thank You, Lord, that she's never alone!  Thank You for life.  Thank You for mercy.  Thank You for grace!


It's all around her.  It's in her belly right now.  It's in the house she calls home.  It's in a good job.  It's in family and friends surrounding.  It's in thousands of prayers sweet to the Lord's hearing.

It's in a room FULL of ladies, all bearing gifts to welcome a new baby.  Generosity, probably sacrificial for some or all, celebrating him who is growing and preparing to meet the world, his new home.

Grace makes me cry when I stop to recognize it for what it is.  Especially when it touches me and my loved ones so profoundly.

Grace will get Mama and Baby through.  Baby will learn grace through watching Mama.

Both will look back one day and see grace after grace after grace . . .

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Laurel and the Devil Go to Law School

I dreamed last night that I walked into my first day of law school (???!!!), sat at a desk, and watched the professor dump a bunch of documents, photos, and two pieces of buttered toast on each student's desk.

He explained that he had a legal riddle for us, and we were to use the items on our desks as clues to write a paper on a certain aspect of the law.

Try as I might, I couldn't make heads nor tails out of what I was supposed to do.  I even noticed, as my classmates were hungrily munching away on their toast, that the two pieces of toast on my desk were engraved with tiny letters that presumably contained some sort of message.  I studied it, but couldn't understand.

To make things worse, my haughty professor kept hounding me about what I had come up with so far, and each time I answered, he ridiculed and mocked me.  I'm not into name-calling, but since he was a figment of my imagination, I will freely call him what he was:  an arrogant jerk.

I don't know if I ever handed anything in, but, later in the dream, I found myself in charge of a reception for the new law students.  I opened the door of the classroom and entered a beautiful reception hall, which had either been magically decorated, or I had been very busy before class, before becoming aware of my dream.

The devil was there--oh, yes he was--in the form of a beautiful woman, standing alone by a table in the back of the room. She was impeccably dressed, made up, and coiffed; but her true identity glared through her eyes at me, and was reflected in her evil smile. 

I confidently marched up to her and told her in no uncertain terms that she was to leave immediately.

She didn't argue.  On her way out, though, one of my classmates, a happy, hippyish--looking guy, locked eyes with her, smiled, and followed her out the door.  She looked back at me with an evil, smug smirk, and the two of them disappeared.

Then I awoke.

A crazy dream, to be sure, but it reminds me of how I see my life sometimes.  I often feel like I can't make any sense of things that everyone else has figured out.  I've got all these pieces of my life that I'm trying to fit together properly, all these "clues" about what I should be doing or how I should be doing it, yet feeling inadequate to put it all together correctly.

I know my enemy, and frequently sense his lurking presence, a powerful coward waiting to pounce on any weakness.  I, too, know the power I have over him through Jesus Christ, but am all too aware of the footholds I willingly offer.

And I feel more than see the evil, smug smirk. 

How grateful I am that my peace does not depend on me.  I was born too far gone to ever grasp it.

How grateful I am for Jesus, who is mightier than any pompous person I might encounter, who knows how the pieces of the puzzle of my life fit together, and who has already conquered my enemy.

And He invites me to walk in that victory . . .

Monday, March 3, 2014

The "Passive" Gossip-er

The "passive" gossiper.

That was me.

Oh, I'm sure over the years I have talked about people when I shouldn't have.  I felt convicted about that early on, and cut way down.  Like that makes it better.

But, several years ago, I realized that I was still participating in gossip, even when I wasn't saying a word.

I was listening.

People can't gossip without an audience.  The audience is just as guilty.

But I was more than happy to listen to the flapping gums.

I've come to learn that the truth is thus:  There's rarely a good reason to discuss with others anything about another person that would be embarrassing to that person for others to know, nor anything that person has told me in confidence.  It's not okay .  . . whether the person is struggling with something, or had a bad day, or is sinning, or has hurt me, or has said or done something I disagree with.  And it certainly isn't okay just because I want it to be okay!

To tell others how someone has hurt me instead of going to that someone?  Cowardly.

To tell others about someone's mistakes or embarrassing circumstances?  Cruel.

To talk about someone because there's nothing else to talk about?  Lame.

To criticize someone behind his/her back?  Poison.

And listening to it perpetuates the problem.

Then there's the fine line between gossip and "a prayer request."

I'm not talking about biblical discipline here, which sometimes requires more than one person knowing about a situation, but even that is after a one-on-one conversation.

Gossip can sneak up on me, and when it's over, I realize what hit me and that I didn't have my guard up.

I'm still trying.

And that's the truth. :(