Saturday, September 28, 2013


There are times when I listen to a lot of Christian music.  There are times, a lot lately, when I prefer oldies or classic rock - or a good dose of Pat Benatar or Billy Idol.  Still, I'd heard a lot of buzz about Christian pop star Mandisa's recently-released single, Overcomer.  I've developed a lot of respect for this woman since I had first learned about her.  

Foremost, she is openly and joyfully in love with Jesus, and that is a beautiful thing.  She is an optimist but is down-to-earth and readily admits her faults.  Yes, I base much of my impression on social media, but let's be honest: if you were trying to look more put-together than you really are, why talk about how much you love your bed on Facebook?  The girl is real.  Her very public dismissal from American Idol by Simon Cowell, who snidely insulted her weight - as well as her immediate, gracious, and loving reply - were what launched her career, rather than canning it.  While much of America looks to actress Jennifer Lawrence as their "everywoman" - unashamed to talk about food, prone to goofing around, and all-around decent, I relate more, I think, to Mandisa.  I could actually imagine sitting down with her and joking about clothing a zaftig figure, loving Southern-fried food, and how there are a lot of days when Christians don't even feel saved.

So, when I heard her new song for the first time, I cried.  The message, like many of hers, is both simple and essential.  The theme of overcoming is mentioned a lot in the Bible.  It can be found in 1 John 5:4, where is is clearly stated "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."  

The concept of living victoriously because Jesus triumphed over the grave is not, as some think, a "bonus blessing" only to be received by an elite few.  I am learning that is actually a fundamental building block of the faith!  If you have accepted the already pretty hard-to-swallow idea that Jesus is God's son, that He died for your sins, that He rose from the dead, and that He absolutely and completely adores you, then the next step is to believe that He actually wants you to live a full and fulfilling life.  That doesn't, of course, mean that your life will always be comfortable, or that you will never experience stress, sorrow, or pain.  But it does mean that you have the power and the choice to look past your circumstances into the eyes of the One who created you, who actually wants you to experience peace and joy.  

Don't get me wrong, here.  I am not preaching or promising a life full of warm fuzzies!  I'm speaking from a place of, well, not a lot of warm fuzzies myself.  I'm missing my mom.  I can hardly believe it's been seven months already since she passed away.  I mourn the loss of my children.  Ross is having a very hard time finding a job that suits him better than his current one.  His hours do not allow for a lot of quality time with me or our families.  

I can focus on the things that make me unhappy, or I can focus on the fact that, in spite of everything that is painful and uncertain right now, God does have a plan for my future, and everything will be okay.

I listen to Overcomer most days during my lunchtime power-walk.  It reminds me that, according to God's word, I'm not an overcomer when I see, feel, or experience victory.  I am one now.  I am allowed and even encouraged to hold me head high, smile, and walk joyfully through any situation with the knowledge that my enemy cannot destroy me.  I am an overcomer, even though I have lost three pregnancies.  God is bigger than miscarriage.  God is bigger than the doctors' response of "we don't know what's wrong."  God is bigger than the fear that threatens to rise up and suffocate me when I think about trying to conceive again.
June 2012, at my sister's wedding.

I have not yet seen victory in that area of my life, but I my spirits are lifted by the victory I am seeing in another area - weight loss.  Like Mandisa, I have grown more conscientious of my health in the past several months.  In the past year, I have (slowly!) lost nearly 20 pounds.  I was a size 13 in Juniors' styles this January, and I'm now beginning to try on size 7.  
This is uncharted territory for me!  I have never in my adult life dreamed of it.  I'm having more fun with fashion - even embracing skinny jeans!  Beyond that, I know that I am helping my heart and lungs, and even possibly helping to prepare my body for a healthy
August, 2013.
pregnancy.  Soon, I hope!  While I may not reach my goal weight by my November birthday, I have proven to myself that I can make a difference in my own life.  God's presence throughout this process has been subtle.  He hasn't shown up with a loud voice and fireworks, but he has calmly and steadily given me the strength to stop believing the lies I've told myself, or let others tell me.  The lie that my asthma was my identity.  The lie that it was no use to try to change, because everything was always going to be the same.  The lie that I just had to accept my family's health history as my own, and just wait for diabetes to set in.  The lie that I never, ever accomplish my goals.  The lie that I'm not worth taking care of.

That's the key to really accepting the fact that you're already an overcomer.  It's to stop listening to the lies that whisper "you're not good enough, God doesn't love you enough, and he isn't big enough to help you."  Once you finally understand that his grace is enough, he does love you enough and more than enough, and he is big enough to handle your pain and doubt, you can start to live like an overcomer - even if you don't feel like one.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Party Like a Geek

Two weeks ago, I hosted my first party ever.  I don't count bridal and baby showers I helped with, because that wasn't solo work.  Here's how it came about: I "recently" realized that the majority of my close friends are, like Ross and me, unashamedly geeky.  

There's Ryan, who knows more Doctor Who trivia than, I think, Steven Moffat himself.  There are my parents and their besties Lee and Shelly, who made Friday nights their double date nights for years - because that's when Stargate: SG-1 was on.  Oh, and their daughter Shannon, whose fashion sense would put her on par with any splashy comic book villainess or heroine.  There's also Ross's buddy Matt, who has taken on the heroic task of raising his three daughters to be geeky princesses, despite any good-natured intervention on the part of their non-geeky mom Jaime.  Not to mention, my new pal Emily, a quirky young artsy-type who refuses to let her son drink out of her Spiderman mug.

Other people have Superbowl parties, where they chow down on high-fat snacks and celebrate big, meaty guys punching each other around.  Some folks throw parties for awards shows, all the while sipping on frothy alcoholic beverages and making snarky comments about gowns, hair, and jewelry.  Why shouldn't I throw a bash celebrating all the things that, in the past, made me a social pariah?

Girl-cat squares off with Catwoman!
I sent out handmade invitations.  I spent hours researching to create the perfect trivia challenge, relying primarily on the Big Five: Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, and a conglomeration of X-Men, Justice League and Avengers.  Yes, I realize that Harry Potter and Supernatural and about a million other franchises could have made their way into the mix as heavy hitters, but I considered my audience, and these were the fandoms that were most thoroughly represented among my nerdy kin. 

Totally retro. Photo cred: Emily G.
On the menu were Kryptonite Krunch (Chex Mix), Tribble Kibble (kettle corn), Iced SereniTea and Romulan Ale (blue Hawaiian Punch), Green Arrows and Black Canaries (celery sticks and pitted olives), T.A.R.D.I.P. (salsa con queso), Darth Taters (potato puffs), Obi-Wan Kielbasa (smoked sausage discs), Bowties Are Cool pasta and even chocolate-chip Wookiees.

I dressed as River Song, circa "Let's Kill Hitler" and sprayed my naturally curly hair into a huge hive of spoilers, and my husband donned his red captain's tunic (after polishing up his freshly shaved head).  

O Captain, my Captain!
I read the questions from my ThinkGeek T.A.R.D.I.S. journal as our guests observed our many geeky T-shirts, displayed as decoration.  Loki paraded her tiny little cat self around, getting into a bit of a tussle with Shannon, whose Catwoman costume might have intimidated her a bit.  Even Jaime, pregnant and dressed quite comfortably as a female version of Frodo Baggins, was pretty happy to win the doorprize - a Spiderman sippy bottle.

Loki lurves the Doctor.
Completition ramped up among the three carefully matched teams - The Terrible Tolkienators, the Raging Redshirts and the Kiss-My-Asgardians.  We learned that being a geek does not automatically mean that you've seen all the Star Wars movies.  We also learned that Emily does a beautiful whale impression, that most superhero themes sound alike, and that my dad didn't even need to wear the iconic orange hat for him to walk around the house scowling like Jayne, the hero of Canton.  We also learned that sweet Thor, despite his ultra-masculine name, is kind of a fraidy-cat and spend most of the party hiding.  He only appeared - as if freakishly on cue - when my dad and Emily were reading their hastily scribbled sci-fi story, about a race of catlike gods from the distant planet...Thorpiter.
The whole shebang - celebrate ALL the fandoms!

For one lovely evening, my house was full of heroes and villains, the whole Pond family, and one very photogenic little cat.  In retrospect, I think I would have made the trivia questions a little easier.  I also would have baked about three more batches of Darth Taters.

I got a request that our next batch have an 80's theme.  Which I can, like, totally handle.

Unless my dad shows up in legwarmers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Looks like the family might be expanding very soon.

Why, it's another cat, of course!

For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or who are friends with me on Facebook, you already know about the latest little four-legged sweetie to enter our lives.  But, for those of you who don't, I'll fill you in on the soft, fluffy details...

Three years ago, fairly soon after Ross and I got married and over a year before Thor showed up (literally) on our doorstep, a small, gray and tan female cat stopped by.  She visited over the course of a few weeks, staying long enough for a little snack and some kind words.  Once, she actually came into the house!  We didn't have any cat food for her, so we poured a saucer of milk.  Hence, her nickname: Two Percent Milk, or Twoper, for short, was born.  A few days after she came into our house, we saw her for the final time, sporting a fancy brand-new pink collar around her neck. 

I was crushed.  She had an ownerHumph.  If I had a cat, I thought, I'd never it roam the neighborhood.  I knew a lot of people did that; even my childhood pets were indoor-outdoor cats until they became old, but I never liked it.  In fact, one cat ended up dying from eating poisoned garbage and another was hit by a car.  No way were my fur-babies going outside unless it was straight into the car for a trip to the vet!

About a year or so later, Thor came into our lives, then we adopted Loki during a Humane Society event.  Both have turned out to be pretty amazing animals we can't imagine life without.  Thor is moody but a mama's boy and a real cuddle-bug, and Loki, while clumsy, has shown an incredible ability to learn tricks, just like a dog.  We're a perfect little family right now - Mommy-Cat, Daddy-Cat, and the two feuding fur-babies.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw the unmistakable figure of Twoper on my porch just recently!  Of course I fed her and pet her.  She's a sociable and very affectionate little girl.  She's talkative and purrs loudly.  And I noticed that she was not wearing a collar.  I didn't think anything at first - sometimes Thor, who does not wear a collar inside the house, slips outside unnoticed for a quick jog around the neighborhood (but he always returns to use the litter box; despite being born and spending his first weeks of life as an outside cat, he categorically refuses to use anything except his litter box for his business).  I pet her again, called her a good girl, and went back inside.

The next day she returned. 

In fact, in the past two and a half weeks, only one or two days have gone by without her visiting.  And it's not a quick stop by to suck down some Fancy Feast before she's on her way, either.  She is waiting for me in the morning when I wake up and she sits on a specific corner of the porch while I am at work, running down the steps to greet me when I come home.  She has tried to follow me into the house numerous times (once she succeeded!).  She lets me pick her up and hold her.  (For those of you concerned with diseases and whatnot, I wash my hands after every time I touch her and she has had no contact with my indoor cats; nor will she until the vet clears her for any kind of infection or infestation.)  In fact, last Friday, for kicks, I put a collar on her to see if her "real" owners would remove it when she returned home.  (Wouldn't you freak out of your previously naked kitty suddenly came home with a swanky new leather collar and a bell?  Wouldn't you wonder who was trying to steal your cat-kid?!)  Well, it's Wednesday night now, and the collar is still intact.

I'm starting to call her Freyja now.  Twoper is certainly a cute nickname with a cute story behind it, but if this sweet little girl is gonna run with my fur-babies, she'll need a name worthy of the other Cats of Asgard.

I've contacted my vet already to see what steps we should take, and also placed an ad on craigslist to see if anyone has reported her missing.  I'm trying to do the right thing before adding to my menagerie.  I think my parents think I'm nuts for adopting all these cats, but I'm stopping at three.  For me, I'm temporarily replacing each of the three biological children I have lost.  I'm not giving up on having babies, but right now I have a lot of love to give, and these little friends are a great way to do that!  Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if my mom, in Heaven, leaned over to God and said, "They look lonely.  How about another cat until it's time for the baby?"

I'm a proud cat-mom, right here, folks.  Twelve little paws pattering around the house?  I think it will sound beautiful.

(Get back to me around Christmas, though...when I'm lamenting all my broken ornaments...)