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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Works For Me: Prayer Journal

I like to journal my prayers during my quiet time, otherwise my mind will drift from, "Father, thank you for blessing me in so many ways," to, "Should I wear heeled or flat sandals with that skirt?" Writing helps me stay focused.

I usually buy my own journals, but my former Sunday School class gave me my favorite journal of all time. We'd spent some time studying the names of God, so one of the class members pasted the names we covered with their meanings into the inside cover of a journal. With this handy-dandy list, I started opening my prayers each day using one of the names of God. I started at the first name listed and rotated through the entire list. It was amazing how often the name for that day reminded me of the part of God's character that I needed in that moment. With Jehovah Mekadesh, I was reminded to ask God to sanctify my attitudes. Calling Him Jehovah Jireh reminded me that God provides me of Himself. And saying "Jehovah Shalom" reminded me that He will give me peace if my sould would cling to Him. It works for me!

Go to for more tips!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday School - Psalm 23 Introduction

Email forwards are a fact of life. All manner of truth or fiction make their way into my inbox. If it’s not Obama and the US flag, then it’s a scare about telemarketers calling our cell phones. Every once in a while an email drops into my inbox with “facts” about the Psalms – Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119 the longest, Psalm 118 the center, and Psalm 118:8 is the center verse. Knowing that I can’t believe everything that I see in email forwards, I googled and came across this, which contains this quote by James Montgomery Boice from his Psalms: An Expositional Commentary (Vol. 3):

“What do you suppose a middle verse should say? Shouldn't the middle verse of the Bible be John 3:16, or its equivalent? Or something from Psalm 23?”

It turns out that Psalm 118 isn’t the center of the Bible, and neither is Psalm 23. I thought that it was a little strange that Boice classed Psalm 23 with John 3:16. After all, John 3:16 is about life and Psalm 23 is generally saved for funerals. However, deeper study reveals that Psalm 23 does not speak of glorifies the Life Giver. Worth taking a look, don’t you think?

Before studying Psalm 23, let’s take a look at the Psalms in general. The transliteration for “psalm” is mizmowr, which can be translated as “melody.” According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, the Psalms are “A collection of songs of praise that are theological statements and poetically represent human dialogue with God.” They were originally set to music and reveal God’s heart for us and a heart for God. Think of them as some of the favorite songs of the Hebrew people.

If you’re like me, you have several favorite songs. As a matter of fact, my current fave depends on my current mood or the occasion. TobyMac provides ideal work-out music (or so I imagine, not having been in a gym in many a moon). A romantic evening with my husband calls for something classical (no words so that we can speak sweet nothings into each other’s ears). And during Bible study, anything written by Shane & Shane helps me to dive into Scripture (those guys are deep!). My iPod holds many playlists for my many moods. After all, I’m a complicated woman. (Ha!)

But men can be complicated, too. Enter David, writer of psalms. As a teenager, David didn’t have the (debatable) luxury of an iPod, so he wrote his own songs. As a matter of fact, 73 of the 150 psalms in the Hebrew Bible, including Psalm 23, are attributed to him.

David enjoyed a reputation as a gifted singer, despite spending his days tending his father’s sheep. His music even provided a king relief from an evil spirit. He reminds me of the young man described in the song “Killing Me Softly”, written by Roberta Flack. The song describes a young man with the ability to make his listeners feel like he’s baring their souls to the world. David achieved the same thing in his psalm writing. Psalm 13, Psalm 32, Psalm 63, and yes, Psalm 23 are just a few of the psalms that tell my life in such a way that I want to look around and see if anyone is watching. They were written thousands of years ago, but they speak to my life right now.

“Now wait just a minute,” you may be thinking. “I’m a busy mom, or a member of a cubicle farm, or a student dreading an upcoming test. I don’t exactly relate to people in the Bible. Shepherds? What do they even do? Is it, like, dirty?”

Questions like these reveal that a culture gap often robs us of the true meaning of Scripture. Take a look at The Twenty-Third Psalm according to the Khmus Tribe of Laos. Now don’t laugh too hard. Our 21st century culture also paints pictures of the 23rd Psalm that are not accurate, relegating it to the dead and dying. But the truth is that it reveals Jesus as our Shepherd, Savior, Provider, Defender, and more.

In the next few Sundays I’d like to scratch away our cultural assumptions and study Psalm 23 from its culture of origination. Please join me in sitting at the feet of David, the shepherd king, as he sings to us about the Shepherd King.


  1. What is your favorite song? Why?
  2. What Psalm speaks to you where you are right now?
  3. How would you translate Psalm 23 from the point of view of your own culture?

The 23rd Psalm?

I got this from a missionary at a Perspectives class. I don't know if it's real or not, but it's interesting to think of how a cultural gap can lead us to misinterpret Scripture.

The 23rd Psalm
(According to the Khmus Tribe of Laos)

The Great Boss is the one who takes care of my sheep,
I don't want to own anything.
The Great Boss wants me to lie down in the field.
He wants me to go to the lake.
He makes my good spirit come back.
Even though I walk through something the missionary calls the valley of the shadow of death,
I do not care.
You are with me.
You use a stick and a club to make me comfortable.
You manufacture a piece of furniture right in front of my eyes while my enemies watch.
You pour car grease on my head.
My cup has too much water in it and therefore overflows.
Goodness and kindness will walk single file behind me all my life.
And I will live in the hut of the Great Boss until I die and am forgotten by the tribe.

(If anyone can tell me where this originated from please let me know!)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How to Have a Quiet Time

In all the busyness of life, I've found that it's easy to neglect the one thing that will help me to live a busy life effectively: a growing relationship with God. I've struggled with this, so I'd like to share how I'm dealing with it.

What's a quiet time?

I define a "quiet time" as time spent reading and responding to God's Word while enjoying His Presence.

Using this definition, a quiet time is not:

  • In-depth Bible study. I'm all about Bible study. Standing in the Bible study aisle at Lifeway would cause me to drool if I were less concerned about my mental health reputation. But let me say from personal experience that Bible study is no replacement for simply reading Scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me. If you think of it in relationship terms, a quiet time is like a romantic date and Bible study is more like gathering a personal history. When spending time with someone I love, I'd rather have the date.
  • Reading a Christian book other than the Bible. I'm an avid reader and love to be surrounded by books. While other children played outside, I allowed my muscles to atrophy while making my way through the Nancy Drew series. I currently have a shelf and a half of books that I'm just itching to get to. But while those books may teach me a lot about God, they are no replacement for hearing directly from God through His Word.
  • Listening to Christian music. I couldn't live without music. I'm a former band geek and current shower worship singer. I'm even married to a musician. But the point of a quiet time is to have God's words running around in my head and responding to them, and not to listen to someone else doing that.

In-depth Bible study, Christian literature, and good Christian music are wonderful and time-worthy investments. But they should be experienced in addition to and not in replacement of a quiet time.

Ok, I'm convinced. So what do I need?

  • Bible - I've found that The Daily Bible is perfect for a quiet time. It's separated out into chunks that you can read in a few minutes. If you use it every day, you'll read through the entire Bible in one year. This Bible has Scripture in chronological order, meaning that it's more like reading a story. It also has explanations throughout so that the reader has a better handle on what's going on. Another bonus is that chapter and verse references are kept in the margin rather than in the actual text, eliminating that distraction.

    The Message Bible is also good for a quiet time. It's more of a paraphrase of the Bible and is written in today's language. As I've done in-depth study of specific verses and compared them with the translation in The Message, I've been impressed with how well this paraphrase communicates the true meaning of the Scripture.
  • Journal/notebook - I use a journal to write out my prayers. Any notebook will do. You may even just want to put notebook paper into a binder. I like to use a spiral-bound journal with a verse printed on each page. The verses chosen for these types of journals are usually encouraging and keep me in the right frame of mind. And, what can I say, I like a pretty cover. It's just the girl in me.
  • Pen - It's best to use a pen rather than a pencil so that you don't get distracted by a lot of erasing. It's alright to just cross out a mistake and move on.
  • Bookmark - You'll want to turn to your reading for the day quickly and easily. You'll not want to start out your quiet time with the frustration of wondering, "Where was I?" If you choose to use a daily Bible and start on January 1st, you can refer to the date. But there may come a time that you miss a day or decide to read a couple of readings in one day, so a bookmark will be handy.

What's a perfect quiet time place?

Somewhere quiet and free of distractions. Outside is always nice. In a previous residence I loved to sit on my second-story balcony and look at the sky. The moon, clouds, or birds in the sky always helped me to feel closer to God. I also love to sit at my dining room table next to a window to be able to look outside. These days I'm carpooling to work with my husband and getting there before anyone else, so I enjoy a quiet time in my cubicle.

You may have a comfortable chair in your living room or your private study at home that will become your special spot. The one place that I would avoid is the bed - that's just too comfortable. It doesn't take long to fall asleep while praying, which is akin to falling asleep on a date. Doesn't exactly promote open communication.

I've got my stuff, I've got my when is a good time?

I've experimented with the time of day - morning, noon, and night. People usually recommend the morning, and I have to agree with them despite my utter disdain for all things early. I'm not a morning person and am not interested in human interaction before 11am (except for my husband), but I've found that my mind and heart are at rest in the morning. At noon (lunchtime) I'm usually distracted by work, and by the time I get home in the evening I want to just eat and spend time with my husband. So the morning works best for me, although it all boils down to what works for you.

Ok, I'm ready. Now what do I do?

  1. Turn to a blank page in your journal and write the date at the top. Keeping track of dates in your journal is a great way to see how God is answering your prayers. Reviewing my prayers and seeing how God was moving in my life was a major reason that I decided to move into a more serious relationship with my husband when we were dating. Seeing how God answered such specific prayers makes me appreciate him more and know that he was the man God planned for me.
  2. Pray for God to teach you. Just like that. Simple.
  3. Turn in your Bible to the reading for the day. You should have this bookmarked.
  4. Start reading and writing. Try to immerse yourself in what you're reading. As you're reading, write down any thoughts or questions that you have in your journal as if you're talking to God face-to-face. Treat it like a conversation. Nine times out of ten you'll come across a verse that seems to just jump out of the page and speak to you directly. Tell God what you're reading and why it stands out to you. And then just continue to talk to Him. You may have only a sentence or two to say, or this may open up the floodgates and have you writing for pages. Pour yourself out to Him. This is what it is to experience God.
  5. Complete your reading. After I'm done reading, I'll usually end my prayer in my journal thanking God for speaking to me or just saying that I love Him. Or I may have other things that I want to pray about, so I continue journaling.
  6. Leave your bookmark at the beginning of the reading for the next day.

And after?

After a good date with my now husband, I would come home glowing and more in love than ever. I feel the same way after a good quiet time. I end it convinced that God loves me and cares about what's going on in my life...and more in love with Him than ever. It's a great way to start the day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Works For Me: Saving Recipes

I've often been in the grocery store and thought, "What were the ingredients for that recipe? Was it one can or two?" So something that I've found to work for me is to put copies of recipes on my phone. I have a Blackjack, which is a smartphone. I've installed SmartphoneNotes on my phone so that I can sync with the Notes in Outlook. Now, whenever I come across a recipe online that looks interesting, I copy and paste the recipe into a note, making changes if necessary. Then I sync up my phone with my computer and have the recipe available to me at all times.

Go to Rocks In My Dryer for more tips!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Viva Las Vegas!

So we visited Sin City this weekend. It was a whirlwind trip to attend my cousin's wedding. No, she didn't elope to Vegas. Her family happens to live there, hence the trip.

The trip didn't start off very well. We got to our hotel in Vegas in the middle of the night, only to find out that the hotel had no running water. Apparently management thought that a lack of toilets wouldn't be noticed.

But things got better. The next day we walked the strip with my parents, then got all gussied up to attend the wedding and reception. We went to bed late and got up in the morning to attend a Cuban brunch with my extended family. Lots. Of. Food. Then another flight, and home to bed we came.

Despite the looks of this picture, I don't have a lot of love for the slots. I donated a dollar to one, and that's as far as it went.

Feeling the love in the room at the wedding reception. The last wedding we attended was our own!

Having a CSI moment during a Cuban meal.

Garrett had a close encounter with a snake at the Vegas airport.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Shopping Funny

Garrett and I were shopping in one of those "antique" malls and came across this gem. It's an old shopping list notepad.

I feel such a kinship with the woman in the picture. You see, I also go to the grocery store in a pencil skirt and stiletto heels. And I don't truly feel like a woman unless I spend an hour on my hair and makeup in order to look my best for the cashiers. I also stop at the end of every aisle and strike a pose...just in case anybody is watching.

I jest.

No, really?

Here's what grocery shopping looks like for me - I'm wearing jeans and comfortable shoes. It's the end of the day, so my makeup has worn off and my hair is a frizzy mess. Garrett is usually with me and pushes the cart, which is a good thing because I need to focus all of my attention on not running into any people or displays of canned goods (I don't always succeed).

And, of course, there are the hopes and prayers that we don't run into anyone we know, necessitating two minutes of idle chit-chat while trying to maintain eye contact so that they don't look into our grocery cart and see the packages of Gas-X and tampons.

In summary, grocery shopping is such a pleasant experience that I just spent 15 minutes evaluating whether or not we should use Amazon's Subscribe & Save program to ship grocery items to us.

June Cleaver I am not.

Works For Me: Paperless Grocery List

Today is "Works for Me Wednesday" at Rocks in My Dryer. It's a chance for us to share some little (or big) thing that makes our lives easier. Check it out for some great ideas! Some of us (as in me) aren't as creative as others, so it's great to see some useful tips from people that have it going on.

My "works for me" is a way to keep a grocery list. This isn't rocket science, but hang with me - my husband and I keep a dry-erase board on our refrigerator so that if either one of us sees that we need to pick up something particular at the grocery store, we can just write it down right away before forgetting. Then, on grocery day, we just take a picture of it with our camera phone and pull up the picture at the grocery store. It's quick and easy, and we rarely forget anything. But the really great thing about this is that it's a great PAPERLESS way to keep a grocery list. No more digging through my purse for a list, or leaving it in the car or on the counter.

And, just for fun, we also write little love notes to each other on the dry-erase board. So when I add eggs to the list, I can also tell my husband, "You're the love of my life!" Some think it's cheesy, but we have fun with it. :-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We Have a Garden

This past weekend I decided to add a little curb appeal to the house. The garden has been neglected for three years so a huge project was the order of the day. Here's a picture of what I had in front of me:

I woke up on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. and creeped out of bed. I didn't want to wake my beautiful bride so I walked on my tippy toes. I hit the local Home Depot early so I would miss the crowds. I was like a kid in a candy store. There was mulch, borders, and manure.........OH MY!!!!!! I also picked up a dumping cart, rake, and a hoe. I was set and ready to go.

I took a hold of my hoe and hoed like I've never hoed before. I got the trench built and laid 90 (9 lb each) cement blocks in place. I removed some of the sickly looking bushes that were on their last leg. After all that, the garden looked really clean and I couldn't wait to lay down the manure and mulch. Unfortunately I had one problem - ROCKS!

For some reason the builder of our house thought that it would be neato to place a ton of rocks in the garden. Leslie and I are not into the rock garden look so I needed to get rid of them before I could lay down the mulch. I swear that there were 25 buckets full of rocks in that soil. It was bad enough that they were on the surface, but they were also rocks buried in the soil. Our next door neighbor wanted the rocks so I poured them out for her next to her garden. By the time I took the following picture, she had made a huge dent in the pile.

It took hours to get them all out. I even had 4 little helpers from next door to help dig them out. Those kids thought it was the coolest thing to help me. It's amazing how things we think are work are considered fun by little kids. One said it was better than easter egg hunting. Whenever a large rock was uncovered the girls would shreik with glee like it was Christmas morning. There is a lesson we can learn from that. How we experience life is all about our attitude.

Once we cleared all the rocks, I laid down the organic material (ok, manure) and then the mulch. The sun was starting to set and it was finally done. Tell me what you think of the new look:

Wedding Funny

Garrett and I just got married five months ago, so the "joy" of wedding planning is still very fresh to me. One area that we didn't put much thought into was our first dance. You see, I can't dance. I may be the only Puerto Rican that can't get a groove on. Imposible. Garrett, on the other hand, is an awesome dancer. Seriously, that boy can move. Very impressive. Unfortunately for him, he's married to me so he doesn't get the chance to show off his moves on the dance floor.

I have since learned that there are others that put much thought into their first dance. For example, the couple in this video. Enjoy!

Template Auction!

Some exciting news! Lindsay over at Splat Designs is having a sort of silent auction of three templates to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She's running the 1/2 marathon (I can only imagine) for them and needs to raise money.

Can you believe it?? Three templates??? You can get one for every day, Christmas, and even for Veterans Day if you want to. Or maybe Mother's Day and spring. Or fall and Grandparent's Day. The possibilities are endless!

Check out the auction here. And please let me know if you win! She does great work and I'd love to see the new designs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Enjoying the New Look

Hello peoples,

As you can see, we're enjoying a new look here on The Late Bloomers blog. Lindsay at Splat Designs did an incredible job. I just couldn't stop smiling when I saw the new design!

I love the picture in the header because Garret and I usually decompress by watching TV together. Although these days we're usually each on our laptops and not cuddling. So sad. And we're usually watching some version of Law & Order or CSI: Some City in the USA. Although the other day we watched The Simpsons Movie. That was OK. And Friday nights he graciously allows me to watch What Not to Wear. Anyway, I'm sure that's all you ever wanted to know about our television viewing.

Back to the blog: I'm also going to change the address from to At least I'm going to try. We'll see how that works out.

(See how I'm trying to use these little abbreviations? I'm so hip and now. Although people probably don't say that anymore. Whatever.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

He's a Keeper

So we've decided to carpool. Gas prices being what they are, driving an SUV isn't the cheapest way to go. So I thought, "Hey, I know! I'll let Garrett drop me off at work in the morning and pick me up after work and save oodles and oodles of money!" I'm so smart. I didn't graduate summa cum laude for nothing.

But the devil is in the details. Garrett has to be at work by 7:30am, and it takes him 35 minutes to get there. Dropping me off takes him a little out of the way, so I've been getting to work at 6:45. In the AM. That's the butt-crack of dawn, people. And most other people roll in around 9am. And that used to be me. So when I get to work, I'm vewy vewy tired.

But I'm saving money.

Still, the cash in the bank doesn't help with the sleep deprivation. And it got worse and worse as the week went on. Yesterday I was barely conscious when I walked past security toward my cubicle. When I sat down at my desk I laid my head down, but was afraid I'd actually fall asleep and start snoring, to the amusement of my co-workers. So I drank a couple cups of (weak) coffee and managed to stay awake.

Until a meeting with my boss, which consisted of walking around the building very fast for a half hour. For exercise, you know. By the time we were done, I was actually dizzy.


Thank goodness that was near the end of the day. By the time Garrett picked me up I was in Survival Mode. It was so good to see my man. He opened the door for me and I saw these in my seat:

I think I giggled.

I put them on my dresser next to one of our engagement pics. They're called Latin Ladies. Appropriate, don't you think? I think I'll keep him.

And I drove myself to work this morning.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

They Make Me Laugh

Along the same lines as yesterday's post, here's a list of blogs that I read because they totally crack me up. These are truly Funny People. Laugh out loud funny. I want to be their BFF.

  • BooMama - I would love to get into this woman's head. She does an American Idol post every week if you're into that. And this post is probably the funniest thing I've ever read.

  • Big Mama - I think BooMama and Big Mama are friends. Big Mama has the cutest little girl that says the darndest things, like this.

  • The Queen B - I love how she calls herself, her husband, and her daughter the queen, king, and princess. This post is really funny and reminded me of my father (luv ya, dad!).

  • Stuff Christians Like - I just found this recently and have laughed and laughed over the truth of what he says. The thing that I like about it is that it makes you think about the difference between Biblical behavior and what has become the Christian Culture. Some of the posts that I especially like are this one, and this one, and oh my goodness let's not forget this one.

Enjoy, and let me know if you know of other Funny Blogs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Make a Funny

Tip for making your life easier: Be Funny. It's amazing how well people respond to you when you make them laugh, or even crack a smile. Think of the funniest person you know - do they have lots of friends? Do you want to be around them? Probably yes to both questions. So develop a sense of humor and watch your popularity climb.

But before you engage in the pursuit of The Funny, I think it's important to spell out some possible categories:

  • Comical - the most famous Funny. Think of the class clown and you know what I'm talking about. A Comical person is always looking for a way to make you laugh. A lot of body humor involved here.
  • Dry - this is on the opposite end of The Funny spectrum from Comical. Still funny, but not necessarily looking for the laugh. Unique in that the funny person usually isn't smiling when they say The Funny.
  • Witty - this is when you think of something funny to say really fast in response to something someone else just said or something that just happened. And you have to say it IMMEDIATELY. If you wait, it's not as funny. This one take a lot of smarts and I'm not sure that you can actually learn it.
  • Nerdy - not everyone may know about this Funny category. You have to have specialized knowledge about a subject to understand this type of Funny. Here's an example: At a computer seminar, a man proudly presents a prototype for a new voice activated computer system. "It's the only one of its kind! Try it! Say any instruction!" A man from the back yells, "Format c colon enter!" Hah! I laugh every time. That's some good stuff. What, you're not laughing? That's ok because Funnies in this category don't have to be computer-related. There are actually sub-categories - computer, general engineering, chemical engineering, law, medicine...the list is endless. Just make sure that you know your subject well or you'll look more idiotic than funny.
  • Generational - this type of Funny is understood only by someone in the general age group of the Funny Maker. Example - there's this cell phone commercial that tries to be funny by using those abbreviations that kids use in text messages, like BFF and such. I say "and such" because I don't know any other abbreviations. I'm one of those old people (thirty-something) that actually pecks out complete sentences in a text message. So that commercial just isn't funny to me. But kids probably think it's hilarious.
  • Sarcasm - this is a tricky one. IMHO (whadayouknow, I knew another!), Sarcasm isn't all that funny. It often elicits a quick half-smile that turns into a "should I laugh at that?" look. Try it. You'll see what I mean. Makes you feel kind of yucky, which totally defeats the purpose.
  • Humor at Someone Else's Expense - this category of Funny is the armpit of the Funny world. And that's all I have to say about that.

Now that you know some categories of Funny, try to figure out what category you're naturally inclined to. (If it's Sarcasm or Humor at Someone Else's Expense, try to reprogram yourself.) Practice being funny in that way. You might miss the mark sometimes, but keep trying.

Advanced Funny People can combine a couple of the different categories to reach higher levels of funniness. For example, I love the combination of Witty and Comical. I am personally not gifted in this way, but I know those that are (my dear husband for one).

A primo example of an Advanced Funny Person is Jesus Christ Himself. The Sermon on the Mount is just full of humor. You see, I have the feeling that a lot of what Jesus said was in direct response to something or someone in the crowd, making Him Witty. And He liked to throw in a physical aspect, making Him Comical. Like when He said the thing about being all worried about the speck in someone else's eye when you have a plank in your own. I can just see Him picking up a stick to demonstrate. You have to play it out like a movie in your mind to get it, but once you do it's totally worth it. You'll never look at the Bible the same way again. And if you're a Christian, Jesus can be your own personal Funny Mentor - "Jesus, please help me to be a Funny Maker like you!" Awesome.

So pursue The Funny. Make 'em laugh. IT COULD CHANGE THE WORLD! (This is an Exaggeration - another type of Funny I failed to mention, but whatever, you get the point.)

It's been real.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Lord's Prayer

So cute!!!