December 3, 2008

Christmas Traditions

For the first two years of our marriage, Lindon and I had a special Christmas tradition. Two weeks before Christmas we would pack up all of our belongings and move to a new house. Things like decorating for Christmas and getting a tree were pushed aside for getting the house to not look so chaotic. 

This tradition was indeed special, and I hated it...other than the new house part. Thankfully, this tradition has ceased. And now, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving we officially ring in the holiday season by decorating the house with our Christmas decorations. We put on Christmas music, hang our stockings, put the jingle bell Christmas wreath on the front door, haul out the artificial Christmas tree, strategically place our meager supply of ornaments, discuss getting a fresh tree and more ornaments next year, and get into the Christmas spirit. We have so much fun!

Words cannot describe how much more fun this new tradition is over our former tradition. Christmas is a special time, and I look forward to seeing what new practices we develop over the years. Hopefully they won't involve packing and moving.  

November 30, 2008

Nash and the Cows

What happens when a curious dog and a curious cow meet? We decided to find out while we were at the Knapp farm for the holiday. We brought Nash over to the herd of 18 cows now kept on the farm. Of course Nash was thrilled by the prospect of meeting new friends, but the cows were not quite as enthusiastic. Except for one brave soul.

This brown cow - the only brown cow in the herd - kept creeping closer and closer to Nash, despite the little dog's constant crying to be let loose. 

As Brownie, as we called him, inched closer and closer, the other cows followed closely behind. But no one dared to advance beyond Brownie. This cow was certainly the leader of the pack. 

Finally, dog and cow met, and their noses touched briefly. We think Brownie might have even licked Nash. The experience was inspiring. To celebrate, one of the black cows mounted another cow. But everyone agreed this was an inappropriate way to celebrate, and the advances ceased. 

Eventually Nash tried to wiggle away from Lindon's persistent grip (after all, there was an electric fence), and Nash's wriggling spooked away the herd. 

But Nash will never forget the day that he and Brownie became friends. Though their contact was brief, the memory will last forever. Cow-dog relations just got an inch closer, thanks to Nash and Brownie. 

We're back and more to come

The Fowlers are back from a mini Thanksgiving vacation. We were in Chester, IL, at a farm for the holiday, and we had a blast. Now we are back, and our house is ready for the holidays. I will post more photos soon of our time in Illinois, and I promise to tell you about Nash and his new cow friend. It was a great holiday!

November 20, 2008

Life in the bar

Last week I spent a few minutes visiting with our process server when he stopped by to drop off a summons. We traded stories about crazy clients for a few minutes before he told me that one of my bosses is "legendary" for representing a host of colorful characters. 

Legendary? Really?

"Oh yeah," our server said. "His client list is like the bar scene from Star Wars." 

So if our clients resemble the bar scene from Star Wars, who does that make me?

Not sure I want to know the answer to that question...

November 18, 2008

One more thing about the couch

Now that we have these great new couch cushions, we want to keep them looking new and clean. So we have installed a protective barrier between Nash and his central command. He still spends most of his day on the couch, but now it's covered by a protective sheet.

November 17, 2008

A new couch

My mom made her annual trek to St. Louis this past weekend to spend time with me and Lindon. It is always a wonderful treat when my mom comes, but this time she came with a specific goal: make new couch cushions. 

We inherited this couch from Lindon's cousin, and while the frame is in good shape, the cushions have not fared well. Nash uses the couch as his central command for guarding the house while we are away. This means that he sits or lays on the couch from the moment we leave to the moment we return. In its current role, the couch has endured a lot of wear and tear. Here it is in action:

I know a little about sewing, but not nearly enough to take on a task of this size. So I enlisted the assistance of my wonderful mother, who quickly came to my aid. Together we picked out fabric, settled on a style, and got to work...all while Mom was practically dying of a head cold. The end product is below. 

Thankfully my mom doesn't really read my blog, or she would die to see this photo of her on it. I think she looks cute, even though she was really, really sick at the time. Notice how the extra fabric from the cushions makes excellent tie-backs for the curtains. I love it. 

More weekend fun

As I mentioned before, last weekend we celebrated the marriage of our friends Jay and Lori. We had a great time at Jay and Lori's wedding, and the event gave us an opportunity to catch up with some friends we haven't spent time with in a while. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to go take a photo of the happy couple that got married, but here are some other photos from that night. 


Then on Sunday we celebrated Lindon's 30th birthday. It was fun to have a small group of people over to celebrate with us. This semester has been rough for Lindon with all of his class work, so it was nice to have one afternoon just to relax with good friends. Too bad the Steelers lost...But it was still fun!


Lindon's cake said "Happy 30th Birthday - Lindon is old."

Lindon's friend Charlie gave him a Steelers hard hat - very fun. It will go well with his Troy Polamalu jersey. If only we could get him some Polamalu hair!

November 7, 2008

So much, so much, so much to be thankful for

This has been an eventful week. There have been major events and not-quite-as-major events that have made me pause and reflect. Here's what has happened:

1. Tuesday was election day. In case you missed it, we elected a new president. Like most people, I voted, and for me that meant waiting in line for 2 hours 20 minutes to get into the polling place. My natural inclination when I saw the line out the door snaking around the parking lot was to grumble. I was likely going to be late for work, and I didn't see any pleasant way to pass the time. And frankly, I was a little relieved when a woman in front of me passed out because that meant we had something interesting to watch while the ambulance came and treated her. Plus, one less person in line! It was terrible of me, I know. 

But slowly I began to chat with the people standing in line with me. In from of me was was Martha, the part-time pet sitter and community college instructor. And behind me was Chuck, who, as it turns out, attends the same church as some of Lindon's seminary classmates. Small world. 

As we waited, we began to share parts of our lives with each other. Martha shared with me who she was voting for, and it wasn't the same person I was voting for. But it seemed so inconsequential. Funny that at the most important moments of the election - when we are actually making the decision - the candidates mattered the least. And while Chuck and I had some common acquaintances, that's about where my similarities with this black man ended. But despite our differences, we all shared a common conviction that voting is important and worth any wait. As Martha said (and I am sure Chuck would have agreed), "People died so that I could do this." 

At one point in our waiting we found ourselves standing next to a giant map of the USA painted on the ground of the parking lot. When Chuck asked me where I went to college, I went and stood in Western Pennsylvania to show him where Grove City College was. He stood on Mississippi to show me where his family lived. Martha stood on the state of Georgia to show us where she went to grad school. I don't know if I will ever see these people again, but I doubt I will ever think of this "historic" election without thinking of the people I got to know while we exercised our most basic and precious of civic rights.

2. Wednesday marked my one-year anniversary of working at my job. As you have read here many times, I love my job. That's a big deal for me because before November 5, 2007, I didn't have a history of fantastic jobs. But in many ways this job gives me the freedom to be me and work in the ways I best work. My bosses are gracious, fun, and easy to please. My work feels meaningful, and it allows me to use my gifts. In short, it's a great gig.

Ironically, Wednesday was not exactly a pleasant day at the office. Everyone seemed tense, due in large part to heavy workloads and in small part due to Tuesday's outcome...There were conference calls galore, phone calls by the gallon, and doors that remained shut for most of the day. It was a little lonely.

But despite the difficult day, I still love my job. Things were back to normal on Thursday, and today I left work before 3:30. It's great. There are tough days, but they are the exception, rather than the rule, which makes life easier. And I laugh a lot at work. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

3. Today is the birthday of my husband Lindon. He is 30! Sadly, Lindon had to celebrate his birthday by working tonight, but he still had a good day, complete with a balloon, "Happy Birthday" sung by one of his classes, and dinner with his wife. And a co-worker offered to work the last hour and a half of his shift so he could come home early! 

So, those are three things this week that have made me thankful. Freedom, work, and Lindon. And Lindon and I will finish out this week with a wedding celebration tomorrow for two good friends. We are so blessed!

October 30, 2008

The Best Election Sign that I Haven't Seen

I intentionally try to avoid politics on this blog because I don't like talking politics. I have opinions on many things, but I often find that I express them too loudly and too often. Not so with politics. Those opinions I prefer to keep to myself because I am sick and tired of election season.

However, I must put my political feelings aside to tell you about the best sign of the political season. I haven't seen this sign myself, but it was reported to me by a reliable source (my momma). She saw it while traveling to Pittsburgh to visit my sister.

According to my source, one household north of Pittsburgh has expressed its political fatigue with a yellow sign on which they painted in black letters, "Obama Hates the Steelers."

Regardless of your political leanings, I think we can all find this sign a little humorous.

And in this exhausting political season, laughing is the only alternative to crying.

October 27, 2008

Reformation Sunday and what Salvation Means

It took four notes of the prelude for me to remember that today is a special Sunday: today is Reformation Sunday.

martin_luther.jpg     For those of you not familiar with RS, it's the Sunday when we celebrate/ recognize/ remember what Martin Luther began when he nailed his 95 Thesis on the door of the church in Wittenburg. His courage to dissent led to dramatic changes in theology, the deaths of countless saints at the hands of their fellow believers, and a new era in the life of the church.

So how do protestants celebrate the most profound movement of the past 600 years? We sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," the most well-known hymn penned by Luther. Luther actually wrote many hymns, but don't tell that to us Presbyterians - this is the only Luther song that most of us will ever sing. Our loss, I know. 

(I feel the need to stop here and put in a little caveat about "being reformed." While I appreciate the Reformed tradition and what it means, attending a Reformed church doesn't make someone an extra special Christian. As one of the Covenant Seminary professors once said, "I don't understand when I hear students say, 'I'm so glad I'm Reformed.' Reformed? Brother, you should just be glad you're saved!") 

There is another hymn that has been swirling around in my head for a few weeks, and its lyrics are so awesome that I have posted them below. The hymn is "Let us Love and Sing and Wonder" by John Newton. He is another guy Christians like to think of as a one-hit wonder (he wrote that little ditty about amazing grace), but he was quite a prolific poet as well.

I love "Let us Love and Sing and Wonder" because of the way it uses vivid imagery and unexpected personification to paint a beautiful portrait of our great Savior and the act of salvation. One example of this is verse 4, which says, "Let us wonder Grace and Justice join and point to Mercy's store; when through grace in Christ our trust is, Justice smiles and asks no more." For a word junkie like me, that's incredibly profound. 

Another reason this hymn has been in my head is because the Indelible Grace melody for this song is the musical equivalent of fall, in my opinion. The mood of this album is "a mood of somber joy," as Kevin Twit put it, which is perfect for this time of year.  

The words to this hymn are below for your edification. Grab a cup of your favorite tea or cider and ponder the "worthy Lamb of God."

1. Let us love and sing and wonder
Let us praise the Savior’s name
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame
He has washed us with His blood
He has brought us nigh to God

2. Let us love the Lord Who bought us
Pitied us when enemies
Called us by His grace and taught us
Gave us ears and gave us eyes
He has washed us with His blood
He presents our souls to God

3. Let us sing though fierce temptation
Threatens hard to bear us down
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqu’ror’s crown
He, Who washed us with His blood,
Soon will bring us home to God

4. Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God

5. Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high
Here they trusted Him before us
Now their praises fill the sky
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou art worthy Lamb of God

October 19, 2008

Fall at the Fowler Household

We love fall, and this weekend was the first weekend of the season to actually feel like fall. To celebrate, we made a fire and pulled out the fall decor for the dining room table. And last weekend, we braved the scorching heat to travel to a farm to choose the ultimate fall decoration - a pumpkin. Here are some photos of the pumpkin farm and our fall table decorations. Thanks to my mom for the great fall tablecloth!  

I know this photo is crooked, but this mountain of pumpkins was pretty impressive. 

Lindon with our pick

Nash posing with Pumpkin on the back steps. We didn't want to put it out front for fear it would be kidnapped and smashed. 

October 13, 2008

More Scenes from the Candy Dish

The candy dish continues to be a source of joy and sugar rushes for all who work here. As my previous posts indicated, I first experimented with Starbursts in the candy dish. This worked well, but they don't sell Starbursts at Sam's Club in a suitable format. So I tried Skittles, and these worked quite well...too well, in fact. Skittle flavors have the amazing ability to linger in your mouth long after the candy is gone, and they leave you wanting more. Often I would have to put the dish on someone else's desk to remove the temptation. And I wasn't the only one enjoying these snacks by the handful. When 5 pounds of Skittles disappeared in two weeks, I decided to try something different, something that would take more time to consume.

My next trip to Sam's Club brought intense angst and anxiety as I struggled to find a candy or group of candies that would be suitable for our office. It doesn't seem like it should be a big decision, but picking out candy always turns into a real struggle for me. FINALLY, I settled on the "kiddie mix," a delightful assortment of Tootsie rolls, Jawbreakers, Double Bubble gum, Sweetarts, Now n Laters, Smarties, and Lollipops. I figured 600 pieces would take us a while to finish.

So far the candy has been a hit, but it's taking its toll on my teeth. I am a sucker for jawbreakers, but I cannot suck on jawbreakers. As soon as I feel I have adequately compromised their structural integrity, I start trying to chew on them. It's painful at times, but I can't stop! Just now I crushed a half-finished jaw breaker, pulverizing it with my ailing molars, and grabbed another one. Each time I tell myself I will be more patient with this once. Each time the result is the same, a few minutes of waiting before the cracking begins.

But aside from my poor teeth (a reminder that I probably need a dentist), everyone else seems to love the candy as much as I do. I still get to see the looks of childlike wonder as each person finds their favorite piece. Occasionally I hear a whine when the dish has been picked over and all the "good ones" are gone. And someone has discovered where I keep the surplus, so the favorite piece is never far away.

All told, this has been a good bag of candy, and the opportunities for people watching are well worth a few sore teeth.

But this jawbreaker will be different. This one will last...

October 6, 2008

Why do I do this to myself?

By all accounts, I am a good writer. People have told me that my writing is good. Others ask me to help them with their writing. Some even PAY me to write, and they publish what I've written. Then others read what I wrote and tell me I am a good writer. And the circle continues. 

But after years and years of writing and lots of published pieces, writing still scares me.

The idea of writing doesn't make my insides turn. When an editor calls me up and asks me to lend my quill to a particular idea, I jump at the opportunity. 

It's not the interviews that unnerve me. While I typically get a little anxious before an interview, the result is typically so positive it far outweighs the pre-game jitters.

No, the terror comes when I face the blank screen - the endless white that I must fill with words. And those words must make sense, tell a story, inspire the reader, comfort the editor. 

As I combat the whiteness by populating it a story, I constantly think to myself, "This is terrible. Who would want to read this? I definitely need to change that phrase...later...when I am more inspired..." The cycle goes on and one until finally I ask myself, "If writing stresses me out this much, why do I keep doing it?"

And that is the question I ask myself once again this evening. My deadlines are approaching quickly, but my inspiration seems to be sapped dry. Why? Why do I do this to myself when it causes me this much unrest? Why willingly partake in an activity when I know a by-product will be gut-wrenching angst? 

The answer is simple: I write because I must. I can't not write (yes, I know double negatives are supposed to be bad, but it works here). To not write would be to plug  up a part of me that finds expression on paper. And if it remained plugged up for long enough, that part of me would likely cause the rest of me to explode - like a Coke bottle that's shaken. Or worse, that part of me would eventually fizz out, and I'd become flat sugar water. Gross. 

Being a writer doesn't mean writing comes easily. At times it does, and at times hammering out a good sentence is like pulling teeth. The end result, however, offers a glimpse into another's life, into the gloriously mundane tasks and quiet dignity of humanity. 

Those glorious glimpses and the passion to not become flat sugar water propel me forward. They force my fingers to hit the keys when my brain is waving the white flag of surrender. 

That's the answer to my nagging question.

Time to call it a night.  


September 24, 2008

Choices, Boundaries, and Freedom

What do you do when someone yells at you? What do you do when someone yells at you for something that is clearly not your fault? What do you do when someone yells at you because their life is a mess, and they desperately want to ignore their own garbage?

These questions seem to lurk around every corner lately, as I have been forced to interact with an assortment of angry people at work. The interactions have been so regular and so unpleasant that they have really rattled me.  At times I have thought, "My mom is a social worker; my dad's a therapist; I've done church and youth ministry, and that's where you expect this kind of chaos. Not at a law office!"

But then I have come to realize that a law office is the perfect place to find this kind of garbage. People don't call their attorneys when things are going well. They get an attorney because things have taken a very, very bad turn. And that's where I come in. As the secretary I am the first line of defense to shield the attorneys from all sorts of colorful characters and their emotional tantrums. Enduring people's bad attitudes can be difficult, and I find myself welling with anger as people start verbally swinging at me. 

Thank the Lord for boundaries, and His teaching me about them. 

My job has given me wonderful opportunities to learn about setting boundaries. As a people please by nature, my gut reaction to the anger of others is to blame myself, as if I am responsible for their anger and for abating it. 

But you know what? I'm not. Really. And this simple, simple lesson has really hit home for me in the past two months. It is NOT my job to please angry people or to accept blame for what has made them angry. Often when confronted with a disgruntled caller I actually have to tell myself, "This is not my fault. This person is choosing to be angry, and I am choosing not to let it bother me." The idea of choosing to not let something bother me never occurred to me until a few months ago. But it has revolutionized the way I deal with difficult people. It's still hard to hear when someone insults me or calls me a liar (it has happened), but it gives me the courage to  let someone else know their behavior is not ok.

You choose how you will respond to other people. I choose how I will respond to other people. And I can choose to change how I respond. Understanding this gives me the freedom to not internalize other people's emotions as my own. 

And then I can spend more time being the person I was created to be and less time trying to please other people. 


September 14, 2008

My new favorite quote

I stumbled across this quote in one of my favorite books yesterday, so I thought I would share it here.

"Style is an increment in writing. When we speak of Fitzgerald's style, we don't mean his command of the relative pronoun, we mean the sound his words make on paper. All writers, by the way they use the language, reveal something of their spirits, their habits, their capacities, and their biases. This is inevitable as well as enjoyable. All writing in communication; creative writing is communication through revelation - it is the Self escaping into the open. No writer long remains incognito.""Style is an increment in writing. When we speak of Fitzgerald's style, we don't mean his command of the relative pronoun, we mean the sound his words make on paper. All writers, by the way they use the language, reveal something of their spirits, their habits, their capacities, and their biases. This is inevitable as well as enjoyable. All writing in communication; creative writing is communication through revelation - it is the Self escaping into the open. No writer long remains incognito." - Strunk & White, Elements of Style

September 9, 2008


So time is slipping away, and the amount of it I devote to my blog seems to diminish. But I am determined to keep up with this thing, even if it's tough at times. With Lindon starting class and some new stuff in my life, I find that sitting at the computer to type this thing slips my mind. And when I am motivated to write, it seems like the only thing on my mind is politics. And I am fairly sure I don't want to get into politics here...

So know that we are doing well. And more will come later.

And if you can get your hands on Covenant Magazine, check out the student reflection on page 19. It's inspiring.

August 27, 2008

Scenes from a Candy Dish: Unlocking Your Inner Five-Year-Old

It's Wednesday, and my candy dish is already empty - and it's not entirely my doing! The Starbursts are a huge hit around the office, and they give me fabulous opportunities for people watching.

When the office men (meaning everyone in the office but me) approach the dish, they try to nonchalantly pick up a fruit juicy delight as if it's ordinary and mundane. Like a paper clip. But during the 2 seconds it takes to unwrap it (which also takes place at my office because we're not great at multi-tasking here; walking while unwrapping is a bit much), the corners of the unwrapper's mouth invariably creep upward into a small smile. It's as the anticipation of a little treat brings out the inner five-year-old who cannot resist sugar. Once the candy is in the mouth the smile and the inner child disappear, and it's once again business as usual.

But those moments of child-like joy continue to amuse me. They are reason enough to keep the candy dish.

August 25, 2008

The Candy Dish

Now that I am pretty comfortable with my role here at work, I am trying some new things. These are not big "new things." In fact they are quite small ways I am trying to add fun touches to my role as queen of the office.

My most recent endeavor involves a glass bowl and some high fructose corn syrup delights. Yes, I am going to try to be one of those secretaries with a candy dish. When people walk into the office I want them to be greeted with a smiling face and a bowl of Starbursts. And when the smiling face is absent, they can still have candy.

But there is a small problem. Thus far the only person in the office that I can safely say likes candy is the person with the candy dish on her desk. So in order for my new endeavor to succeed the person with the biggest sweet tooth needs to keep her hands out of the dish. That's a tall order.

So I am going to try this for a while and see how it goes. Perhaps my dish will be a source of joy for all who pass through these doors. Perhaps my work and the fact that the dish is hidden from view by a picture frame will allow me to forget its existence.


August 18, 2008

Passive Aggressive at its Best

I found this post on a website dedicated to hilarious outbursts of passive aggression. Having worked at an office in Montgomery, Alabama that had its share of passive aggressive employees, I found this not-so-subtle jab at Deborah to be both amusing and sad. Wouldn't a 10-second conversation with Deborah have been easier than all the effort that went into underlining in red?

August 15, 2008

Back into the swing of things

So this is my first week back from vacation, and in many ways it has been a typical first week back from vacation. My desk at work looked like the New York City skyline for a few days as I juggled the mound of files I needed to address. I have laundry to fold that I haven't touched and have nearly forgotten. There have been many times where I have thought, "Oh yeah, I need to do that...I'll get to it next week." Blogging has been one of those things.

So, first things first. Maine was great. We had a wonderful time with Lindon's family (sans Lonnie, Sara and Coyle; we missed them), and the scenery in Maine is breathtaking. Maine had never been on my list of top places to visit in large part because I expected it to be cold. It is cold, but it's still gorgeous, and the beauty makes it worth facing a little chill. Anytime that pines trees, hills, and ocean are together, it's great. Here are some photos:

Booth Bay Harbor

The rocks at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

The view from atop Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (it's the lighthouse on the Maine quarter)

Lindon's favorite photo from the week (he likes me crouching in the foreground)

Lindon at The Giant Stairs

Now that we are all home - including Lindon, who was gone for over two weeks - we are back into the home improvement projects, namely the kitchen. Since he's been back Lindon has painted the walls, installed all the bead board, and installed a new floor. All we need to do now is paint, clean, and install the cabinets, install a counter, do some of the detail trim work, and put everything back in there. Writing it out doesn't make it sound that easy, but we do hope to have it all done in a week. I will certainly post pictures when it's finished. 

Also, this week has given me the opportunity to get my fix of newborn babies. Three times this week I got to spend time with good friends who recently added little ones to their families. It was amazing to see how God has blessed them with the strength they need to care for these little ones, and it was fun to see how they've grown into their roles as parents. And their kids are all just so cute!

This week we also said goodbye to one of the pastors at Central. BJ and his family are moving to Bozeman, Montana, where BJ will be the senior pastor of a church. It is sad to see them go, but exciting to know God is leading them and preparing them for their next adventure. 

So this was a week to reflect on vacation, celebrate new life, and rejoice in God's faithfulness. Sounds like a good week!

August 11, 2008


Well, my travels in the great state of Maine have ended, and I am back in St. Louis. However, I feel like I left part of my brain on the rocky coast of New England, so adjusting back to my routine has been a little rough. I hope to soon post photos and some reflections on my time away, including my 9 hours in the Newark airport.

More to come later.

July 30, 2008

"Let my girls be Hermiones": Some thoughts from J.K. Rowling

I ran across this article yesterday on J.K. Rowling's website. Nevermind WHY I was on Rowling's website, but I really like the ideas she expresses here. This excerpt is preceded by her listening to one of the Harry Potter actors who was concerned about a female friend at school who other girls had started calling "fat."

'"Fat" is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her,' I said; I could remember it happening when I was at school, and witnessing it among the teenagers I used to teach. Nevertheless, I could see that to him, a well-adjusted male, it was utterly bizarre behaviour, like yelling 'thicko!' at Stephen Hawking.

His bemusement at this everyday feature of female existence reminded me how strange and sick the 'fat' insult is. I mean, is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I'm not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain...

I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn't seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? 'You've lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!'

'Well,' I said, slightly nonplussed, 'the last time you saw me I'd just had a baby.'

What I felt like saying was, 'I've produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren't either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?' But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!

Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it's really not. It's about what girls want to be, what they're told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before 'thin'. And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls. Rant over.

July 23, 2008

Change, upheaval, and some uncertainty thrown in for fun

When I got to work on Monday, I found out that one of the attorneys at my office would be going out of town this week for vacation. This seemingly mundane fact struck me as highly traumatic, and I couldn't figure out why. Then I remembered what else is going on in my life right now:

1. Lindon is renovating the kitchen. While the end product will be unbelievably awesome, the mess that occupies our house in the meantime is not. Currently our refrigerator is in the sun room, the plates are in the dining room, the silverware is in the living room, the sink is out of commission, and the counter top is long gone. Everything else is covered with dust.

2. Lindon is going to Pennsylvania next week to spend some time with his family and help his dad with some projects around the house. While I am completely supportive of him going, I hate when he goes.

3. Things have changed a bit at the office. For various reasons that are too tedious to explain, one of my favorite attorneys in the entire world will not be practicing law for the next three years (no, this was not his own idea). Instead he will administrate the firm while his former partner, Matt, takes over as the lead partner (or whatever you want to call him; titles are rather arbitrary around here, so sometimes I call myself the Office Princess). Though Mark isn't technically going anywhere, it's sad for me to think that he cannot practice. And though he is a huge encouragement to all of us and eagerly rattles off the reasons why the new situation will be better, there are an awful lot of changes that need to be made: new letterhead, new phone greeting, new voice mail message, new sign on the door, new business cards, and the list goes on.

All of the above-mentioned factors might be manageable on their own, but combined and thrust onto someone who despises change, and the result has been a lot of internal trauma for me - which explains why something as inconsequential as another family's vacation plans made me feel like I was losing the roof over my head.

So for the past week I have been grappling with all this change and working through how I will respond to it. For the most part it's good change, and I can look forward to the positive outcomes - like having a dishwasher for the first time in 2 years. But I still fear the unknown, and for all my progress, I still fall far short of being a Fearless Fowler.

But while I know I have a ways to go, there have been some huge blessings and precious lessons learned through this process. First, I continue to thank the Lord for Lindon's amazing abilities and hard work ethic. Our house looks amazing thanks to his skill. His focus on projects forces him to start and complete them quickly, so our house is full of tangible results rather than good intentions that never materialize.

Second, my zeal for my job as increased. It's no secret that I love my job and think I work for the best attorneys (and administrator) ever. But this week I started coming into work early just because I wanted to. I haven't left work early any days, and I am not earning extra hours for comp time to by spent later. No, I am just going in and getting more work done. When work begins to lessen the pull of my favorite idol (sleep), you know things are changing.

And perhaps most important in all of this has been the reminder that I am not in control, as much as I want to be. I believe there is a God, and He is working out the events in my life for my good, not my happiness. God is there, and He has not forgotten me. He is faithful. It's a simple lesson, but one I need to learn again and again.

I think my time without Lindon will provide me with more opportunities to think about these things and reflect on what I've learned. Since I have no kitchen cabinets, it's not likely I'll forget any time soon.

July 11, 2008

A moment to brag on my husband

So I wanted to take a moment to share some of the great changes we have made around our house this summer - and by "we" I mean mostly Lindon. What started as a desire to quickly freshen up our living and dining rooms has ended with us painting nearly every room in the house. And again, by "us" I mean Lindon. He's incredible. 

So I wanted to show some before and after shots of the work he's done this summer. I am so thankful to have a handy, hard-working husband and for all that he has accomplished and will accomplish!

The dining room - before

This was our bedroom before. Now it's our office, and it's painted. But it gives you a good idea of the blah color that was in the bedroom and office. 

New bedroom and new color
I know the green looks a little frightening in this photo, but it's a bit more muted in real life. Plus we added curtains that contrast with the room nicely.

Here is the new color in the office. This is a little darker in person. It's the all-purpose "Powell Buff," which we love. Thanks Marcie Cornwell!

Next on the agenda: the kitchen. More photos to come later!

July 8, 2008

More non-news

P.S. Still no blossoms on that darn hydrangea. Now I am feeding it every 2 weeks in hopes of something happening. If you have any advice, I am all ears.

An update post

Well, I haven't posted in a while because there has been no news to speak of. Soon I will post some photos of the work we've been doing around the house (and by "we," I mean mostly Lindon). Also I have some stories in the works that should be published in the next few months. Once those come out, you can read them here. Until then, hold tight.

Oh, we are also in the process of sending/ emailing our latest update letter. If you haven't received one but would like to, let me know!

June 24, 2008

Weekend Fun

Well, we are back from our whirlwind trip to Pennsylvania for my brother's wedding. We had a great time, and the wedding was beautiful. We are so happy to have Carly in our family! Here are some pictures from the weekend (I apologize for the crooked ones - I can't seem to work the picture edit features!):

These are most of my existing relatives

My sister and me

Carly getting her hair done

My with my little brother Nathan (I know, he's not very little anymore)

June 17, 2008

A Happy Post

So after the rather solemn post of earlier this week I thought a light-hearted post was in order. After all, this is an exciting week for the Smith family. On Saturday June 21, my brother Andrew is getting married!!! We are so excited for Andrew and his fiancee Carly. They are great for each other, and we are so happy to have Carly as part of the family. The only downside is she will change her last name from Denniston to Smith. As far as last names go, I consider that a downgrade...

But we are excited to have Carly in the family nonetheless. 

Look for more photos of the wedding to come next week!

June 15, 2008

Father's Day and Loss and Sin and Restoration

In recent months, Lindon and I had developed a Sunday morning ritual which entailed watching at least part of "Meet the Press" and "Fox News Sunday." Given the unique events in this year's presidential campaign, we enjoyed both of these shows for the perspectives they offered. In particular, I enjoyed watching "Meet the Press" because I felt like Tim Russert interviewed people in a way that revealed the guest's true character. Regardless of who the person was, Russert asked probing - but fair - questions to get to the heart of the issues at hand. As a journalist, I couldn't get enough of Russert's questions.

Like so many others, I was stunned Friday to learn of Russert's sudden death at age 58. His death seemed to stop the presses, as every major news organization covered the world's reaction to his passing. I believe America has lost one of the greatest journalists in modern history. Russert saw his role on "Meet the Press" as asking American leaders the questions Americans themselves were asking. He didn't use cheap tricks or manipulative tactics; he simply prepared well and asked great questions.

This morning Lindon and I watched "Meet the Press" one more time to watch Russert's colleagues pay tribute to him. His moderator's chair stood empty as Tom Brokaw led a panel of contributors to celebrate the life and legacy of Tim Russert.

The show was a moving, even for people like me who did not know much about Russert. Guest after guest recalled his loyalty to friends, his devotion to Christianity (particularly Catholicism) and his passion for his role as a father and son. I was struck time and again by how Russert was just the guy from Buffalo, NY who never forgot where he came from. He loved his father and was so proud of his son (who just graduated from Boston College). The show ended with a clip which had been filmed the day Russert died. In it he wished his father, Big Russ, a happy Father's Day, and told his son Luke, "I am proud to be your dad." This was the point when Lindon and I completely lost it and began crying uncontrollably.

All weekend I thought about how Russert's death seems so tragic. A man who loved life and his family dies on Father's Day weekend, just weeks after his only child finishes college. A man who was passionate about democracy and the political process dies during a historic election season. A man of character and integrity goes while so many who could never measure up stick around. My heart aches for his widow, son, father, and the rest of his family.

But I've realized my sadness is not just for the Russert family. It flows to a greater sadness that the world is not as it ought to be. I am sad Russert died, but I am also sad that people die of heart attacks because we are not supposed to die of heart attacks. Our bodies break down because every aspect of our existence is permeated by sin. And while I write this I remember a family member diagnosed last week with breast cancer, and more loved ones come to mind who are dealing with all kinds of ills. So my grief is for one family, but also for man's fallen condition. Our prognosis is not good.

And yet, and yet. I am sad, but I cannot despair. Because just as my grief for one family points to a greater sadness for the reality of sin, so the reality of sin points to the greater reality of a Savior. We do have hope. Our hope is not that we can be better, try harder, and save our own hides; it's that we can never escape sin, so Christ became sin for us. And one day, every tear will be wiped away as what was lost is restored more fully than we can imagine.

My weekend musings (which undoubtedly have spilled into the coming week) bring me round to an old hymn (surprise, surprise) which I think sums up my feelings pretty well. This is that for which I hope. Here are the last two verses to "Ten Thousand by Ten Thousand," written by Henry Allford:

3. O then what raptured greetings
On Canaan’s happy shore;
What knitting severed friendship
Up where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle,
That brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless,
Nor widows desolate.

4. Bring near Thy great salvation,
Thou Lamb for sinners slain;
Fill up the roll of Thine elect,
Then take Thy power, and reign;
Appear, Desire of nations,
Thine exiles long for home;
Shoe in the heaven Thy promised sign;
Thou Prince and Savior, come.

June 10, 2008

My new favorite blog

So, as many of you know, I love to cook. I also love to eat. And I am always looking for new, fun recipes.

Enter the Food Blogga.

This blog is run by Susan the Food Blogga (from Rhode Island, hence the phonetic spelling), and her entries includes photos, tips, and, yes, recipes for amazing dishes. Already she has taught me how to clean, prepare, and eat an artichoke. And now I am reading about how to pick fresh apricots and how to make strawberry rhubarb calzones. Amazing! I love the food factoids, stories, and tips. They make me happy.

Chances are I will not make every recipe featured on the website. But it's nice to know that I have another resource besides by beloved cookbooks and treasured cooking magazines.
And it's always nice to have another resource for honing my fledgling cooking skills.

Does anyone else have a favorite go-to website for cooking ideas and tips? If so, I would love to hear about it.

May 27, 2008

Newest Addition to the Landscape

This is the newest addition to our foliage: a Mini Penny Hydrangea. I have been yearning for a hydrangea since last spring, and we finally got one to add some color to the front of our house. Right now it's only adding green color, but we hope that soon it will be covered with either pink or blue blossoms (depending on the pH of our soil). Lindon generously donated a patch of land where he was cultivating some grass for the prominent display of this plant.

We welcome any hydrangea tips, and when this baby starts blooming, we'll post photos!

May 15, 2008


Lindon is officially finished with his second year of seminary!

He took his last final this afternoon, and now he is free for 3 months. We are both very excited about this. Lindon's personality comes back in full force when he has no schoolwork to occupy his mind. This morning I saw glimpses of what is to come as Lindon followed me around the house as I got ready for work, and he kept talking to me. It's not that he doesn't talk to me when he has schoolwork to do, it's just that he doesn't follow me around to talk to me. And of course Nash followed right behind Lindon. It was cute. It's nice to have my husband back.

Oh, and tonight is the season finale of The Office, one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I am quite excited about that, too.

May 9, 2008

Cast Iron and Country

We recently had some family members admit that they never got us a wedding gift (like we remembered). Well, we couldn't allow their consciences to torment them any longer, so we relented to their pleas to let them buy us some cookware. When the box arrived yesterday afternoon, we were excited. The Le Creuset set is cast iron cookware with an enamel finish. It's HEAVY, but so worth it. This stuff is super efficient and heats like a dream. And it will last until Jesus returns, which is an added bonus. I like to think I will be making some corn bread in the oven with my cast iron skillet when the heavens open.

Many of you know that I love to cook, and I think this stuff is going to inspire me. Plus, it came with a cookbook, and I really like new cookbooks. And since these pieces are stove- and oven-safe, most recipes in the cookbook are for one-pot meals. Amazing. The fact that the blue enamel matches our everyday dishes is just icing on the cake.

In other exciting news, there is a new song out on the radio that we think you'll really like. Actually, we think you'd better like it if you want to keep being our friend. Lindon's brother Lonnie co-wrote a song on the album of country singer Bucky Covington. Some of you might remember Bucky from American Idol a few seasons ago. Lonnie's song was released this week as Bucky's newest single. It's called "I'll Walk," and it's steadily making its way up the charts as more stations play it. If you're a country music fan, request this song at your local country station.

May 5, 2008

One more update

Here is an appendix to the previous post:

Our plants are doing really well! The red azaleas are finished blooming, and the pink ones are in full bloom. However, it does appear that something is eating our pink blossoms. I plan on investigating. Eating our pretty flowers will not be tolerated at the Fowler house! The boxwoods are growing more and more every day. The next phase of gardening will be to add a hydrangea bush and try my hand at growing some herbs again this year. I tried rosemary and basil last year, but I killed them both in a matter of weeks. This time around I am going to be a little more cautious.

I will add more photos soon.

Some updates

So I need to update this blog with some information, but I have been so mad at my blog since it lost my Chaco post that it kept me away. But now I have decided to move past my disappointment and post anyway. Here is what's been going on with us:

1. I got a pair of Chacos. The big news with those was that it was the most money I have ever spent on a pair of shoes. It's not that Chacos are that expensive; it's that I am that cheap. I had to fight through the feelings of guilt at spending what for me was a vast sum of money. I told myself they were a worthwhile purchase and one well-deserved. I won that fight, and I love my new sandals. :)

2. Lindon's parents visited us last week. It's been nearly a year since they made their periodic sweep across the country to visit their kin. We had a wonderful time with them, and it went by too quickly. We are thankful to Barry for helping Lindon move the washing machine to its new location next to the dryer. And we are thankful to ME for discovering that the re-directed pipes were backing up all over the basement floor.

3. Lindon's semester is close to finishing. Classes end on Wednesday, and finals begin shortly thereafter. Please pray for Lindon as he tries to complete the surge of assignments due at the end of the semester. I am so proud of the way that he continues to press on even when he is discouraged or overwhelmed. Many of you know that he doesn't consider school to be his strength, but he is doing so well for himself. Come next Friday, we will be half-way done with our time at Covenant Seminary. Amazing...

4. We just learned that our cousin Krissy Fowler is engaged! No details yet, but we are excited for her. Krissy is the daughter of Lindon's cousins Brian and Lori.

5. Speaking of weddings, less than two months until my brother Andrew marries Carly. I will probably write more about this later, but I am so excited for their wedding and that Carly is going to be part of our family. Yay!

April 25, 2008


I had a giant post with the background story on these shoes. It was a great story, but somehow it got lost between composing and publishing. That makes me mad. So I am going to bed and perhaps I will re-write it tomorrow. 

Stupid blog.

April 23, 2008


My article on the Yiddish club appears in today's issue of the West End Word. I wrote in an earlier post about my time with the Yiddish speakers. Now you can enjoy the finished product by clicking here.

If you live in St. Louis, you can pick up copies of the newspaper at news stands in University City and the Central West End. It's free. I get mine from the Metro station in the Loop. If you know of other places to pick up copies, please feel free to let me know!

April 18, 2008

Way to go, Courtney!

Last night Lindon and I attended the graduate voice recital of our friend Courtney Dey. Courtney's husband, Charlie, is one of Lindon's classmates and a good friend. 

Courtney's voice is amazing, and it was wonderful to listen to her sing for an hour (though how she could do so with such technical precision was beyond me - that's some endurance). 

The recital was the culmination of years of work on her part. Watching her perform made me feel proud of her. And at the post-recital reception her older sister told me, "We are all so proud of her, there just aren't words to express it."

So congratulations, Courtney, on a wonderful recital and being so close to finishing grad school! You did a wonderful job, and you should be proud of yourself. We are.

Oh, and thanks for being my friend. :)



Since I grew up in Florida, taking school trips to Orlando theme parks was a regular part of my childhood. One of my favorite rides at Universal Studios was "Earthquake." Based on that ride (which is neither realistic nor scary) I was pretty sure than an earthquake meant certain disaster. I was thankful that I only had to worry about hurricanes.

Well, today I actually felt a real, live aftershock from a real, live earthquake! The quake happened around 5:15 this morning, and I slept right through it. However, I felt an aftershock at work around 10:15. It wasn't very strong. But it's neat to say I have felt an earthquake.

To read more about it, click here.

April 10, 2008

Our flowers

So I said I would add photos of our garden, and here they are! I included some before and after shots so you have a taste of how bad it was. We know the flower boxes still look pretty bare, but we hope to add some more plants as the season progresses. I took these photos Sunday, and already the red azaleas are bursting with vibrant blossoms. It's quite exciting. I just hope all this rain doesn't drown them!