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Month: September 2009

Are you living a good story?

Are you living a good story?

A few weeks back I told you that Thomas Nelson was giving me the opportunity to review on my blog some books that were due to be released soon. I love to read and I love blogging so it seemed like a good fit. Don Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” is the second book of my “reviewing” career.

His first book, “Blue Like Jazz” (if you haven’t read it, do it now!) was a favorite of mine. I’ve probably read it three times. The thing I loved about it was that it seemed to push a lot of envelopes. It wasn’t a self help, feel good, Scripture quoting book … and although there is nothing wrong with those, “Blue Like Jazz” seemed a lot more raw, a lot more real. To be honest, I’d never really read anything quite like it before.

Because I liked “Blue Like Jazz” and his next book, “Searching for God Knows What” so much, I was thrilled when they sent me Don Miller’s latest book.

But it was nothing like the first two I had read.

Not even a little bit.

It’s kind of like Don Miller grew up. And I don’t mean that in a bad way … it’s just that this new book was more reflective and ultimately more passionate than the first book. More life changing certainly for him and perhaps for me.

I don’t want to ruin it for you (because I really do want you to read it!) but basically Don Miller questioned the story he was living. This process came about because a movie maker wanted to make a movie about Don’s life and essentially came and lived with him for awhile. And they kept having to make stuff up for the movies storyline.

As a result, Don began to wonder … am I living a good story? How can I change my story? How can I make my story matter?

One of my favorite antidotes from the book was when one of his friends had a teenage daughter who was making some poor decisions. He decided to make some changes in his family and a few months later when Don ran into his friend he said “my daughter is better.” And when Don asked why, his friend said … “my family is living a better story.”

I love that idea of living a better story. Makes you wonder what you can change or do differently. Makes you question if the story you are living is the best it can be.

But Don Miller also brings up the point that essentially humans don’t really like change. Oh, we might say we do … even say we’re good at it, but at the end of the day most of us stick with what is comfortable. He cited facts that said that women in domestic abuse situations often go back to the man who abused them. When the interviewers asked why, they basically found that they returned to the situation because, as bad as it might have been, it was familiar. In other words, the women were afraid to choose a better story.

You’ll have to read the book to find out how Don Miller changed his story, but the bigger question you’ll have when reading the book is this:

Am I living a good story?

I hope you find the answer.

P.S. It’s another give away!!! I want to send you a copy of this book. Post a comment (on the blog … if you have trouble email me and I’ll help you) and I will once again do my totally random pick by sticking your names in a hat and drawing one out. Then I’ll mail you a copy. At the same time I will also mail the book from the last giveaway that I haven’t taken to the post office yet because I have to build up my patience before I head to the post office. I’m almost ready though.

If you don’t win you should still read the book. And I’d love to hear your comments when you finish. Hope you enjoy it too!

With all due respect to the Aggies …

With all due respect to the Aggies …

One day last week Bill said…”I’d like to take Caroline to the Baylor game this weekend.”

And so we did what you do in those kind of situations and we posted it on facebook.

Sure enough … minutes later a friend responded that they had been given four tickets and were only able to use two. And these weren’t just any tickets. They were the “elite club” which I’m sure has a name but I don’t know what it is, but it’s bound to be something like “elite”.

Because the seats had arm rests.

And seat cushions.

And dinner was included plus all the Dr. Pepper and candy you could eat.

All free.

It even included a parking pass.

It was like they hit the jackpot for free tickets.

So Bill and Caroline donned their Baylor apparel and headed out to the game.

They feasted on the free food.

And enjoyed a Baylor win over a team no one had ever heard of before.

And after the game they headed to see the Judge Baylor statue and the Baylor Bear Pit. (Because I’m pretty sure that’s why they have a bear pit … so parents can take their kids and say … see how cool Baylor is, it has it’s own Bear!). They then headed to Health Camp for one of the best milkshakes around. And I just love the irony of the Health Camps name. Of course, it declared itself healthy long before there were such things as protein whey shakes and such. And let me tell you, those milkshakes are good!

And apparently the indoctrination is working because they passed Texas A & M on the way home and Bill asked Caroline if she was interested in going to that school. She rolled her eyes a bit and said … “no dad, they’re weird.”

It was a Baylor victory for sure.

An open letter to my tennis game …

An open letter to my tennis game …

Dear tennis game-

I thought you were dead to me forever.

You see, all summer – when it was approximately 145 degrees outside and all you gave me was a headache, I neglected you. I thought to myself,… I must not really enjoy this game like the others (by others I mean those actually ON the courts during those brutal Houston summer days).

While others were posting on facebook things such as “Off to the courts!”, all I could think was “Off to the pool!”. Or maybe “Off with my head” if I actually had to go. Nothing seemed appealing to me about it. Nothing.

And I felt a little guilty, especially in light of the time and money I’d spent working on my game. I mean that pink racquet from Target was $14.99 and I hated to see that go to waste.

But it was hot – very, very hot.

So today … on this last weekend in September, with fall officially on the calendar, I ventured back to the courts.

Pink tennis skirt, pink racket and all.

And after one shot, you were suddenly alive to me again. Volleys, overheads … missed shots and all.

And I just thought I should tell you.

I’m back.

The Mystery of the Monarch

The Mystery of the Monarch

The summer Jacob was born, Bill took our girls to Minnesota to visit their grandparents. When they came home, they brought with them a caterpillar who was making a cocoon attached to a leaf in a jar. They had found it there and couldn’t bear to leave it. To be honest, I really kind of thought nothing would ever happen. I mean seriously, it had been handled by a two and a three year old and there’s no telling what it had been subjected to on the airplane ride back to Texas.

I was also a little concerned because I knew that monarch butterflies migrated, each year, from the North to the South. And what if “our” buttefly, having gone to sleep in the North and then waking up in the South, emerged totally confused? Not knowing what to do?

But about a week after they got home I saw some activity in the jar one morning. “Come look! Come look!”, I yelled as they hurried over to see what was happening.

And little by little that beautiful butterfly began to emerge from it’s cocoon. Not ever having a “pet” butterfly before, we called the butterfly museum at the Museum of Natural Science. We figured they could tell us what to do – seeing how they were the experts and all. They told us to leave it alone and set it outside. It needed to sit for several hours so its wings could “firm up” or “strengthen” or “cure”.

Sure enough, a few hours later, that butterfly emerged from the jar and flew out into the world. It was amazing to watch and seemed to provide so many comparisons with life. Bill and I were “firming up” our children’s wings, so to speak, to get them ready to fly into the world. There was a lesson on not rushing, but taking time to do things the right way, or maybe not growing up too soon. The list of analogies went on and on for me.

I loved watching that butterfly make it’s way around our yard and eventually fly off to bigger and better places. For weeks I kept wondering, as I saw butterflies flying around our neighborhood, if that was “our” butterfly. I wondered where it had gone … was it going to migrate to Mexico. Would it hook up with it’s friends?

Which leads me to the mystery. For years researchers have been studying why, every year, monarchs trek across the country to Mexico. I read this article today which explains that researchers recently found that the antanae of the monarch butterfly accounts for it’s knowing how to make the amazing migration they make from North to South each year.

They did an experiment where they dipped the butterflies wings into paint. Some got black paint, the others clear. What they found, I think, is so symbolic, I had to share.

The researchers found that the butterflies which were dipped in black paint couldn’t find their way but the butterflies dipped in clear paint had no trouble navigating. And even more interesting, the butterflies dipped in the black paint could actually see the light, but still got lost. In other words, they could see the light, but were so dipped in darkness, that they couldn’t find their way.

One of the researchers was quoted as saying … “it’s a fascinating biology that’s begging to be understood.”

And I’m not sure what they are going to learn from this experiment, but this is what hit me, … and yes, I think it is fascinating ….



When we are covered in darkness (sin) … we get lost.

And, my gosh, how many of us (all) have been able to see The Light, we know He’s there, and yet we still chose to remain in darkness thinking … we’ll find our way out? We can do this.

But, just like those monarchs, we aren’t going to find our way.

He is the light. He is leading us. We need to dip ourselves, not in darknes, but in light. The Light.

The Light of the World.

Mystery solved.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. Jn 12:46

Beyond Beyond …

Beyond Beyond …

I’ve been hearing some of my friends talk about the “Deeper Still” Conference which was in Orlando last weekend. Beth Moore, Kay Arthur and Priscilla Shirer spoke and from what I’ve heard, it was amazing. I’d love to go one day … maybe Denver in June.

Several mentioned what Priscilla Shirer said about the verse: Ephesians 3:20 which says:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Here is the cool part: She said that the Greek word the translates into immesaurably is actually two words. And get this … both of them mean beyond.

So basically, God can go beyond beyond. Get it? He can do beyond what we imagine … and beyond. It’s more than we can dream or think about … if we let Him.

I know that I am guilty of giving Him “my plan” (as if He needed any help! Pa-leese).

I also know that sometimes things seem bigger than He can fix. Or maybe something got fixed and it’s not the way we wanted it to turn out. But sit tight … so often He is working on something greater than we can ask or imagine.

Beyond Beyond. One blogger (bigmama) said she realized that her beyond beyond was just seeing her husband and daughter laughing at the table. And realizing her family was more than she could ask or imagine.

Then later today, my friend Katie shared this video … and it is so moving to see what God can do. I don’t know what your beyond beyond is … or even if it has happened yet … but people…this is what He can do.

It’s beyond beyond.

Darla Stories, Raggedy Ann edition

Darla Stories, Raggedy Ann edition

Well, it’s taken over a year, but I’m finally going to share this story. My life’s most embarrassing moment. Except I have a lot of embarrassing moments so it’s hard to pick. But this one is funny… now.

Here’s what happened:

I was in middle school. And I could stop right there because we all know that middle school can be filled with lots of not so great memories and awkward moments from an awkward time in our lives. Which just really makes this story that much worse.

My mom had bought me a new pair of pants. They were pink and had an elastic waist band (and yes, I could stop right here too because the thought that I wore pink pants with an elastic top is beyond bad, but I digress). I tried them on that night and apparently I thought I looked cute because I decided to wear them the next day.

And I took my pants (and panties) off in one swoop, got in the shower and got in bed. Probably excited I had something new to wear the next day.

And the next morning, I walked right into Henderson Junior High wearing those pink pants. And I went to first period and second period and third period. I had French class in third period and our desks were set up in two rows facing each other. And I was on the front row facing another group of students.

And as I sat there, I felt something in my pants leg. So I started kicking my leg … thinking … what on earth is in the leg of these pants? WHY I didn’t stop, I will never know. It’s unexplainable really.

But before I knew it, my RAGGEDY ANN panties fell out of the leg of my pants.

Only they didn’t really fall, they kind of flew right into the middle of the floor. Of French I.

Now it goes without saying that NO ONE in middle school should have raggedy ann panties (or pink pants for that matter). NO ONE AT ALL.

It is a definite glamour “don’t”.

Only I did.

And they fell out of my pants in the middle of French (andcanyousay MORTIFIED?!?).

So I did the only thing I think any reasonable person (who wears pink pants and Raggedy Ann panties) would do, and I started pointing at them and saying …”EWW, EWW”.

My teacher came over and saw my “unmentionables” and called the janitor. It was like “Clean up on aisle one” except it was French class.

And people, that poor janitor came to our class with TONGS. Like GIANT metal salad tongs to carry those Raggedy Ann panties to the garbage.

And I didn’t realize how funny it was until I came home and told my parents about it. And honestly, we laughed harder than maybe I can ever remember laughing about anything else. I was doubled over and clutching my sides thinking of that poor man carrying MY Raggedy Ann panties … with tongs … to the dumpster.

I don’t think anyone ever found out about my “dirty” little secret or if they did I never heard about it.

But I think it might have been then that I learned that most times laughing really is better than crying.

Good morning class …

Good morning class …

I was feeling kind of badly this morning that:

a. I hadn’t written anything for the blog
b. I didn’t have anything to write for the blog
c. I didn’t have time to think of something to write for the blog
d. All of the above

See, one of the things I’ve been spending my time on is writing tests for 2 different classes and trying to stay one step ahead of some of Houston’s brightest communication minds. 🙂

Although I am enjoying my classes this fall, they are entirely new courses and instead of just teaching one class 3 times, like I’ve done in the past, I added in a new upper level class. And let’s just say I am spending a LOT of prep time on them … which then causes me to fall behind on everything else.

That is all way more than you wanted to know, I’m sure.

But, just on the slight chance you were sitting around wondering what exactly it is we study, I’ll give you this essay question …

*do girls really communicate differently than boys
*are girls more verbal from a very young age
*are some people hard wired to communicate more than others

Well, let me share with you this example:

I think we now all know.

Class dismissed.

It’s somebody else’s birthday …

It’s somebody else’s birthday …

It’s my moms’s birthday!!!

The BIG 7-0!!!

She wears it well wouldn’t you say?!? That is her natural hair color, believe it or not!

Although we celebrated a few weeks ago, today is the actual day.

Join me in wishing her a happy birthday!!!

And true to her nature, for her birthday she is asking people to do two random acts of kindness for people. And that’s not so hard now, is it?

My mom is one special lady. She is my mom and my friend. She has loved me, taught me, and prayed for me.

She is a gift to our family and to those who know her. She’s classy, full of faith, an encourager and mentor to many.

And in her honor we put together a little happy birthday video from her 70th Birthday celebration on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, AR … and we hope she enjoys the video as much as we enjoyed sharing in her celebration. Great memories of a fun party celebrating a special lady.

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

We love you!!!

Celebrating 70!!! from Darla Baerg on Vimeo.

Cue the Hillbilly Music

Cue the Hillbilly Music

I hate going to the dentist.

Always have … probably always will.

But twice a year I do the “good mom” thing and take my kids for their check ups.
That is assuming I remember to schedule it … which is sometimes a problem.)

A week or two ago I took children #1,2 and 4 for their visit. Fared pretty well. Child #3 got a break as she was getting her braces off the next week and we decided to wait to clean her teeth all pearl-y white after the braces came off.

And can I just say … only taking one child to the dentist at a time is quite the treat. I didn’t have to enertain anyone, tell anyone to be quiet or to “quit” even once. And when they called Savannah back? Well, I opened up this weeks People magazine (which just so happens to be my single favorite thing to do when visiting the dentist office). It was so nice, so peaceful.

Until they called my name.

MRS. BAERG, the hygenist would like to see you.

Really?!? Me? Why?

And let me tell you why.

Because she wanted to shame me, that’s why.

She wanted to say, in the loudest voice possible…. “Mrs. Baerg … you really need to do a better job of supervising the brushing of her teeth.” And she went on….”the plaque build up is not good.”

I assumed she didn’t know we were just two weeks post-braces … and said … “well, she just got her braces off so I’m sure it will be easier to clean them now”. And she shot back with …. “this has nothing to do with her braces, this is just poor brushing habits.” And she went on to tell me that I should leave her brush and floss out as a reminder to brush. Seriously?!? I’ve spent years telling them to put it up and now you want me to leave it out?

The whole thing mortified me. It felt like there were 20 people in the examining area and they were all looking at me with that look. I went from doing the “good mom” thing to being the “loser mom” in a matter of about 15 seconds. And I desperately wanted out of there!!!

I refrained from saying what I wanted to say, which was … “Look Ms. Toothpaste Lover, I have four kids and they are lucky to have a toothbrush and toothpaste. I mean seriously, I’m doing the best I can. I try to supervise, I try to help….but there is just only so much time in a day and so many places one person can be.

I ducked my head and slunk out of the examining area and back to the waiting room only to find that People magazine no longer had the same appeal. Everyones teeth seemed to be so perfect, so white … so unlike she thought my childs looked.

As if it could go from bad to worse … the hygenist came out and smugly (in my opinion) said Savannah had two cavities. Okeedokie. Then the dentist came out and said … “just checked her films and she is cavity free!” After I told her what the hygenist said she retracted her statement and said she remembered now … it was two.

Then … as an add on … “please schedule your appointment for the morning as she was a little fidgety today.”

And I politely placed the People magazine back on the shelf and left.

I can buy one at Target when I’m there buying our 14 new tubes of toothpaste.

I may be from Arkansas but I really don’t like it when people make me feel like I’m a hillbilly. Just so you know.

Captain, My Captain

Captain, My Captain

So this is my dad …

73 years young today.

The guy who drove the boat at the lake and gave me no cause for concern…then or ever.

Steady Eddie I would call him.

Except his name is Doyle.

I mentioned yesterday about Bill’s lack of home improvement skills and his tireless devotion to his family.

Well, Bill and my dad have the latter in common.

For home improvement … my dad can make, fix, design or build just about anything. Last time he came to Houston he showed up with this stool with golf club legs for Jacob.

So clever and creative. Bill keeps a running list in his head of projects to “ask my dad about”. It would take up all the space on this blog just to write out all the things he has done around my house … suffice it to say … it’s a lot.

But he has also been tireless in his dedication and devotion to his family. For example … my dad doesn’t ski (he doesn’t even swim for crying out loud!) and yet he took us summer after summer to the lake and drove the boat around for hours and hours at a time. And those were some good times…some very good times.

He often taught all day and would go somewhere else to teach at night and yet, when he got home, I never once remember him being too tired to help me with my math homework. And I can assure you … helping me with my math homework was no walk in the park. You might want to compare it to a root canal.

Although I still don’t understand why we need to know about isosceles triangles and I can’t give you any information on the Pythagorean theorom, I can tell you this … “math is an exact science”. And I know that because my dad told it to me night after night after night. That would be about a million and seven times, give or take a few. It’s just so hard for me to be exact.

I don’t recall ever enjoying anything about math past the 4th grade (unless you count the classes where I got to sit by my friend Lucinda … and that was fun, but only because we could visit, which may have been why I needed so much help later on) until I was in graduate school and took statistics. Somehow, it made sense. I saw the purpose in it and thought it was fun to work the problems … and the “A” that I made in that class will forever be one of my proudest achievements. Mostly because I know the hours and hours I spent trying to learn (or even care) about math. And the hours and hours my dad spent trying to help me learn. It’s like it all finally paid off. FINALLY.

There’s so much more I could tell you … he’s a man of integrity, he loves my mother, he enjoys his grandchildren (most of the time anyway), he taught us right from wrong and he made sure we went to church.

Now if he could just come back to Houston and help Bill fix that towel rack I mentioned yesterday! (Don’t tell Bill I told you, but he managed to get it back on the wall. And it stayed until I hung my towel on it this morning and it fell … no, it crashed to the ground.) Maybe hanging towel racks is an exact science too!

Anyway …

Happy Birthday dad!!!

I love you!