Saturday, July 4, 2009

From Hot Dogs to the Emergency Room

Today I had to tear myself away from all your great entries about your own personal beliefs on hot dog consumption so that I could be escorted to the emergency room by my True Love.

And why would anyone want to visit the ER on a holday? Or any other day?

Well, for the last day or so, I've been having pain in my left arm; last night it started moving into the left chest area. By mid afternoon today, I had been in bed almost all day, hadn't eaten in almost twenty-four hours and was basically feeling pretty bad. (With the pain continuing to come and go.)

Steve and I argued with each other for a long time as to whether or not we should go in to the ER; he said I should and I said I shouldn't. I did NOT want to think of us having to spend a bajillion dollars (that we don't have) on tests that I may or may or not really need.

Finally at about 2 pm when I wasn't feeling any better, he won the argument. And off we went.

Found out right at first that my blood pressure was 126/67 instead of my normal 90/60. They took 8 tubes of blood, started an IV so it would be ready if I needed emergency meds and then did an EKG, a chest x-ray and hooked me up to a heart monitor for ninety minutes.

Fun, fun, fun.

Steve is scheduled to speak at a church tonight so he called them to tell them what was going on and warn them that he may or may not be able to make it, depending on what happened with me.

After all the tests were completed, the doctor finally returned to my room and said, "I can't see any obvious problems on your tests. That's good news in one way, but bad news because I can't tell you what is causing this pain."

The bottom line is that he wants me to call my cardiologist (I had some heart issues two years ago) first thing Monday and get a stress test set up so that we leave no stone unturned.

In the meantime, I'm supposed to rest and call the hospital if anything changes or gets worse.

So here I sit, with pain in my chest and a perfectly healthy heart. Ain't it grand?

I was supposed to sing in the two morning services that Steve is preaching at tomorrow but he called and cancelled those for me so that I didn't have to "gear up" for anything. Since I'm not eating much and still in some pain, I think my best bet is to set up an early-in-the-evening date with my bed and a book.

Sounds like a plan!

Okay. I don't want to distract you all from the fascinating conversation going on the guest book so feel free to get back to it. I've learned more about hot dogs (and their toppings) in the last 12 hours than I have in my whole life.

You all are downright educational! And entertaining!


Just as I was finishing this update, Steve appeared at the door of my "writing cave" with this tray.

Now you have to remember that he had just rushed home from the ER with his wife and still had to shower and dress before leaving in less than a half hour. Yet he still took time to cook me a mild, easy-on-the-stomach meal. (He even apologized for the apples, saying it was all the fruit we had left in the house and he wanted fruit of some sort on the tray.)

Was that lovely or what?

Yup, I am blessed.

Chicago Hot Dogs and The Utilization of Ketchup

A note added after the original post: "Sue G. signed the guest book and said, "Okay, first the disclaimer: I did NOT say you would get a lot of flack for putting ketchup on your hot dog. I DID say that putting ketchup on your dog and calling it a Chicago dog is a misnomer."

So I stand (and sit corrected) and want to hereby proclaim to all that Sue DOES think it's pretty normal to put ketchup on a hot dog; however, SHE doesn't personally like them that way.

Original Post Starts Here!
Since Nate was gone on Father's Day we had a belated Father's Day meal earlier this week. For some strange reason Steve got it in his head that he wanted his special meal to consist of Chicago Style hot dogs.

I didn't even know what a Chicago Style hot dog meant so I immediately betook myself to the Internet and discovered this important factoid. "A Chicago Style hot dog contains a list of ingredients--longer than the hot dog itself--that Becky Smith would absolutely hate eating."

I kid you not. There was the definition, right there on the Internet. (Now if you want me to quote you chapter and verse URL as to where to find it, I think I may have forgotten.)

And so on Wednesday night, the Smith Family set up a Hot Dog Shop, Chicago style.

Nathan grilled the dogs and then Steve very happily "compiled them." From what I could discern, there was relish, mustard, celery salt, onion, peppers, tomatoes, and pickles. Is that nasty, or what?
Oops. He had forgotten the peppers. NOW they're complete.
Steve was absolutely delighted with his creation; he is obviously a person who loves to experiment with his food. I too, am very experimental in my tastes, especially in the toppings I put on hot dogs. Here is my well dressed dog

(Now just so you know, Sue G, a lady with Chicago roots, sent me a warning e-mail after she heard I would be writing on this subject. She said it might be dangerous for me to mention in a public forum that I put ketchup on my hot dogs because it seems that there are people out there who are strenuously OPPOSED to using ketchup on a hot dog which is just a little hard for me to believe.)

Anyway, moving on . . .

Not only does Steve love to expand his culinary horizons, he also likes to share his experiments with his family members. And so Nathan, being a chip off the ol' experimental block told Steve to go ahead make up two Chi-Town hot dogs for him as well. (We usually don't let Nate wear t-shirts at the dinner table but since it was a cook out, we figured it would be legal.)

Please note: If you're planning on eating one of these (yucky) concoctions, you must have the ability to open your mouth extremely wide. Thankfully, Nathan came equipped at birth with a pretty wide mouth.

His take on the dogs? He said he was glad he had them but he probably wouldn't eat them again. Isn't he just the soul of diplomacy?

Okay. Now this is where it gets really good.

After Steve had convinced Nathan to try ye olde hot dogs, he laid on all his considerable charm and asked if I would (pretty please) try just one bite.

In the interest of marital bliss and in the pursuit of a brave and courageous mindset in regard to the culinary arena, I capitulated.

Now let me apologize in advance for the fact that these pictures are a little vague as to revealing whether or not I enjoyed that bite; you will have to study them very carefully.

Are you ready? Is your magnifying glass ready? Are your powers of observation polished up?

Here we go.

Okay. You can stop laughing now.

And you can stop wondering if I was really wearing make up, because I wasn't. (It had all dismally dissipated by then.) I realize that the pictures are even more scary than they would have been otherwise--a woman making faces with a make up-less face is not for the faint of heart. I do apologize for what I just put you through.

After the drama-drenched hot dog dinner, the four of us launched into dish doing. While Steve got busy over at the sink, Nathan decided that in between his cleaning duties, he would dance a little.

And THEN he decided that the evening clean up time would be enhanced by snapping his dad with a towel. (Have I mentioned before that Nate is the world's biggest tease?)

Finally, Steve decided that the Young Pup needed a lesson from Big Daddy Dog and he suddenly delivered a backward kick packed with incredible speed and ferocity, all the while never even missing a beat on his Big Daddy Dog dish duty.

Nathan was so intimated and astounded by this unexpected act of paternal Kung Fu-ness that he immediately fell back into line and started doing his work again.

Of course, Snowy was there to help.

Isn't that just such a beautiful sight? The Smith Men doing the dishes while the elder Smith Woman goofs off and takes pictures, and the Younger Smith Woman lurks behind the Elder Smith Woman and giggles at the two Smith Men.

Eventually, the dishes got done, and the hot dog-eating, dancing, towel snapping, backward kicking, picture-taking evening was complete. A special day honoring a very special (Chicago hot dog-eating) dad.


And NOW I need to ask all the folks who live (or have lived) in Chicago to let us know what YOUR version of a Chicago style hot dog is. And whether or you actually enjoy eating them?

And I also would like to know--how many of you ALSO put ketchup on your hot dogs?

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Chat Discussion!

Hey! My foggy brain just thought of a discussion question for the question area! Jump on over and see what it is!

And please DO comment and/or discuss so that I will feel affirmed, happy, successful, loved, appreciated, and . . . thin. (smile)

TEN of votes!

Well, we have been utterly overwhelmed with votes concerning what we should name our "discussion gadget." In fact we haven't had just thousands of votes, or hundreds of votes, or even tens of votes come in. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been swamped with, um, TEN of votes?

Yup, ten big votes have come in so far! But for each of you ten who voted? Thanks! You are my new best friends forever. Even though I don't know who you are. Is it possible to have anonymous best friends forever? I sure hope so.

We even got a suggestion in the guest book from Terri which said, "I would like to suggest a title for your "chat widget area thingy": Perhaps you could call it the Back Yard Fence. If we all lived near each other, that is where we would gather to chat about our day and solve world problems!"

I just love that suggestion and am posting it in the voting area. So take two (or three seconds) and jump on over and vote. I mean it IS Fourth of July weekend and everything, and we DO have the right to vote! Right? So vote!

And enjoy your holiday festivities!


P.S. I just went over and re-did the voting thingie and narrowed it down to the top two choices so far and added the new choice. So this is the biggie, people. The final elimination. The decision making moment! The voting opportunity to end all voting opportunities. And it's in YOUR hands!

By the way, if you're one of my "new best friends forever" who has already voted, please vote once more in this final elimination round.

Can we stand the suspense?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Your Guest Book Comments, Well Behaved Garages and My Wordiness

As promised, here are some responses to your guest book questions and comments. They're in no particular order since my "jumping around tendencies" from yesterday seem to have "jumped around" into today as well.


Krista from Boise asked how the garage cleaning out process went and if we had any pictures.

Let me just say (and I'm sure you all can relate) I have discovered that cleaning out a garage is an ongoing, never ending, eternal process of messy and mammoth proportions. You clean and sort and organize and step back with a great sigh of accomplishment and satisfaction.

And then one short, minuscule week later, you walk out to the garage and discover that some more cleaning, sorting, and organizing projects have just sort of mysteriously sprung up out of nowhere. I still don't understand how that happens but it is a non-negotiable fact of life! At least in OUR garage. Maybe YOUR garage is more well behaved.

One good thing we did accomplish in the garage cleaning arena was that we started packing stuff that we know we aren't going to be needing again before the move. We also took a huge load of stuff to Salvation Army, threw away some stuff and just felt very happy (and sweaty and dirty) when we were finished.

For some strange reason, I decided to put on a little make up before going out to the garage to work in the 90 degree heat. Why I did such a foolish thing is still not real clear to me but the makeup lasted for about nine minutes and then, POOF! It was gone, ostensibly "sucked up" by the 1000 percent humidity that we "enjoy" here in the South.

Since I was not wearing any make up, you can be quite thankful I don't have any pictures to post from the garage cleaning project. However, I do have a few photos of the piles of stuff I brought IN from the garage that needed to be sorted and organized.

For over a week, I spent several hours a day going through thousands of pieces of "stuff," including old letters, thirty years of journals, papers/promo materials from fifteen years on the road, pictures, music, recording studio charts, rough drafts of songs, baby/kid memorabilia, medical records, school papers, etc. By the time I was done, I was ever so happy to have it all organized and even more happy to be finished with dealing with it all!

"Queeny Baby" commented on Steve and Sarah's grocery shopping expedition and asked the million dollar question, "Did Sarah put the toilet paper away?" I am happy to report that yes indeed, all of the rolls of toilet paper quickly made it to their designated spots around the house. I'm not sure if it was Steve or Sarah who did it, but I was just happy it was done. (And all the Moms said, "Amen!")


A few of you made some "interesting" comments about my post concerning Steve's happy weight gain. I appreciate you all commiserating with me about the fact that I am living with a man who so cheerily applies himself to gaining weight.

However, I would like to mention the lovely (to me, at least) news that he has now announced that has reached his weight gain limit and is now cutting back.

Do you know what sort of JOY that creates in the deepest regions my heart? Do you know the kind of elation I feel when I see him turning down a second helping of a dish, even when he loved it and really wanted more.

And I think, "Well, it's about TIME, fella! Fifty-two years of living and you're just now having to decline something you really want to eat?"

Ladies, how many times have WE already had to do that in our lifetimes? Tens of hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of times? (I know that isn't an "official number" approved by the Global Association of Mathematical Geniuses, but you get the point.)


We've also had some conversation going in the guest book about the new discussion widget with a couple of you saying you aren't quite sure how it works.

Here's the scoop: If you would like to comment on something, ask a question, or start a discussion (let's say you want to start taking bets as to how long it will take Steve to lose his "extra" five pounds) then you click on "Visit the Smithellaneous Community."

If you want to see who has recently started (or added to a discussion) you click on the person's name.

We actually had a discussion with eight (count them, EIGHT!) responses about the movie "Up" so we have now gotten our official inaugural discussion behind us. Now it's time for you all to jump on over to the Chatter Room and ask and/or discuss to your heart's content.

For a couple weeks or so, whenever a new comment/topic is listed over there, I'll mention it on the main page until everyone gets a little more into the habit of looking over there.

And while we're on the subject, I have the option of naming this Smithellaneous Community "chat area" anything I like. I've thought about Smithellany, The Chatter Room (takeoff on a "Chat Room") or The Chatter Box. I'm going to add a poll to the right side bar and let you all chime in to see if you have a preference on the name. Or if you have an idea besides what I've listed, email me or let me know in the guest book and I'll add your idea to the voting area.)


I appreciate all your understanding comments concerning my post about getting rid of books. It sounds like a lot of you have the same feelings I do when it comes to that tough decision, "Do I keep this book, or do I pass it on?"

I especially enjoyed Dina's comment who wrote, "I am the product of a union that involved a hoarder and a purger. Is it a wonder I sometimes feel conflicted?"

It seems to me that most marriages are comprised of those kinds of opposites and it's especially hard when the dilemma in question is whether or not to get rid of certain books. Or items in the garage. Or bar-b-q tools. Or extra gym socks. Or sauce pans. Or whatever.

The longer I live, the more I am trying to develop a streamlined mindset; if I don't use it, read it, love it, or wear it--I will pass it on.

Even when it brings great pain assuagable only by chocolate.


Random asked if I ever used the online photo editing program called Picnik and the answer is Yes! I love it! And use it ALL the time! If you haven't tried it, she and I highly recommend it.

I tell ya what, I love photography, editing, and messing with graphics so much that I think my ideal job would be to stay at home and spend half the day writing and half the day doing editing and graphics. And the other half eating chocolate. (Hey, I never said that math was my strong subject.)

Well, I do believe that I have finally accomplished the title of this post and in a very wordy way replied to your guest book comments.

Next post? A Belated Father's Day Dinner and Chicago Hot Dogs.

I'll sign off now with a picture of my Writing Buddy, tucked in beside my leg. If I even THINK about sitting down in my writing chair he is Right. There. Immediately. I'm just not sure if I could even maintain my blogs without his "help."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Favorite Son (And His Annoying Mother)

In my last post I mentioned that Nathan was due to arrive back home home last night. As it turned out, he ended up leaving Florida much later than planned, and then got caught in rain and rush hour in Orlando. Consequently, his ETA was pushed back to about 12:30 am.

I had been hoping to be awake (and at least semi-coherent) when he got home so that I could give my favorite son a lovely welcome. However, when "12:30 am" started being bandied about, I pretty much recused myself from all official "Mom appearances" and just told him, "We'll leave the light on for you and see you in the morning."

After going to sleep at my usual early time, I found myself awake right around 12:30 and thought smugly, "What a great Mom I am. I must have some sort of internal 'mom alarm' that has caused my sleepy body to awaken itself just before my son comes in. Now I'll be able to hug him, welcome him home, and maybe even fix him a little something to eat." (Food is the language of Moms.)

I mentally patted myself on the back and then continued to lie there listening for the long anticipated "Nathan sounds" to arise from downstairs. Well, by the time 1:15 am had rolled around, I was still lying there. Still listening. And starting to get a little worried.

He was supposed to be home around 12:30. Had something dreadful happened? Was he lying in a ditch somewhere? Was he in some hospital emergency room off I-95?

At long last, I got out of bed and padded downstairs so that I could pace a little and further ponder the situation. And after just the briefest period of pacing and ponderment, it finally occurred to my sleepy brain, "Well, I guess I could just CALL him and just see how far away he is. Maybe he stopped to get something to eat and that delayed him."

And so I dialed his cell phone. It rang and rang. My heart dropped.

I thought, "There must be something seriously wrong if he's not answering his cell phone which he has near him every minute of the day."

When I was just about to hang up and go and wake up Steve to invite him into to my worried world, I heard Nathan's voice say, "Hello?"

Relief! He was okay! My son was FINE!

However, I was still just a tad worried about him because he sounded so sleepy; Steve and I have always lectured him about not driving late at night if he's sleepy.

I said, "Nathan son, how many miles do you have left?"

There was no reply. Just a long silence.

I thought, "Oh no! Maybe he's falling asleep behind the wheel. Maybe he's headed for the concrete divider even as we speak! Someone call 911!

With a bit more urgency I repeated, "Nathan, where ARE you?"

He finally responded, "Um. I'm upstairs. In my room. In bed."

I asked, "Were you asleep?"

He said, "Yup."

I said, "Oh."

My poor child. He spends ten long hours on the road. Gets home a little after midnight. Drags his weary self to bed. Is sleeping soundly. And then his phone rings and it's his annoying mom, calling to ask where he is!


My "mom alarm" had obviously (and erroneously) gone off just after he got home. So much for the mom instinct, the welcome, the hugs, and the cooking.

To Nathan's credit, he was quite patient with me and in his sleepy voice said, "I'll see you in the morning, Mom."

At least I hope he was a little bit impressed that I was actually awake at that ridiculous hour in order to even make the phone call! (And wake him up.) However, I'm sure he'll find plenty of reasons to tease me about it all day today. Actually, his teasing is one of the many reasons I missed him so much these past two weeks. He's always teasing somebody, making wacky comments, or creating a hullabaloo of hilarity. Is it any wonder he's my favorite son?

I was going to answer a few guest book comments/questions today but my day has sort of gotten away from me so I'll do that tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'll close with two very darling pictures of my favorite son and his favorite girl. Are they cute, or what?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jumping Around (And A Complaint About Steve)

Got your "jumping around" shoes on? That is exactly what this post is going to be doing--jumping around from one topic to another. To another. And another. And surely "Blog Post Jumping Around" must be good for burning up at least a few calories!

The happiest blog news of the day is that Nathan will be arriving back home from Florida this evening. He's only been gone two weeks so I don't know why I have been missing him so much, but I sure have. I've been going through severe bouts of Nathan Withdrawal and am looking forward to finally getting my Nathan Fix.

In ministry news, Steve has a busy week ahead of him. Our pastor is out of town so Steve will be preaching at our church's satellite location in Goldsboro on Thursday and Saturday nights and at the main location twice on Sunday morning. (Over a thousand people altogether.) He is really looking forward to it and I am really glad that he has an outlet for his very excellent speaking gift.

We've also been invited to a few other churches in the area over the next couple of months so we're excited about that.

And while I'm on THIS subject (and before jumping around to the next one) let me just say that I am also available to speak and sing on my own. I have done entire morning services (providing music and sermon), conferences, luncheons and women's services. As long as my travel expenses are covered, there is no minimum fee set for an honorarium; it's just whatever the host would like to give. If you want to contact me at for references and/or more info, I'd love to hear from you.

Okay, where shall we jump next? Are you still with me?

Actually, this is going to be a pretty big jump since I'm going to take you on a brief trip down Cancer Lane and show you a few pictures from that era.

What do these pictures all have in common? (Besides the fact that Sarah is in them all.)

There is another person who is in every picture as well, a dear friend of mine named Carolyn Stephenson. Carolyn was in the room with Steve and me when the doctor told us that Sarah had cancer and what her chances of survival were. She visited us numerous times in the hospital, read books to Sarah, played checkers with her, made a million jokes with her and stayed with her so I could get out for awhile.

Carolyn's husband, Danny, pastors Mooresville First Assembly which is the church our family attended during all of Sarah's active treatment. Danny and Carolyn were there for our family as we grappled with the severity of the diagnosis, and they held us together as our world fell apart.

They even loaned us their own van for several months so that we had a way to get to and from the hospital for treatment. When we heard bad news from the doctor, they wept with us and when the news was good, they readily turned into "happy partying pastors." As you can probably tell, they are pretty special folks in our book.

So WHY am I talking about them, seven years after the fact? I am talking about them because Carolyn has just started her own blog and I would like to pay her back for her zillion kindnesses to me by advertising her blog. Carolyn is a certified Life Coach, a speaker, writer, singer, pastor's wife, and a very wise and funny lady. I promise you that you will enjoy her blog and will want to bookmark it immediately. If not sooner!

So would you do me a personal favor? Stop by her blog. Sign her guestbook. Become a follower. Enjoy making the acquaintance of a wonderful lady who is ever so dear to the hearts of the Smith family.

(And since I like interconnected tales, let me also mention that we met Danny and Carolyn for the first time here in Smithfield when Steve and I were youth and music pastors back in the early '80's. As time went by, Steve and I hit the road and then Danny and Carolyn eventually became staff pastors in Smithfield before resigning twelve years ago and taking their own pastorate in Mooresville.)

Alrighty then. I can feel another "jump" comin' on!

Oh, that reminds me. (This is an unscheduled jump, by the way.) Since I was just writing about Sarah, a little joke she made during treatment comes to mind. During one of her "chemo visits" to the hospital, the nurse was flushing out her feeding tube and Steve told Sarah very seriously that the nurse was putting pond water in her tube and that the pond water was full of frogs.

Sarah fixed him with a deadpan gaze and retorted, "Well, I hope it doesn't make me too jumpy!"

Nothing like a sense of humor on the oncology ward!

And speaking of Steve (this is a smaller jump since I was already speaking of him) I must say that over the past few months, he has been offending me greatly. On a daily basis. On an hourly basis. On a secondly basis. (If there IS such a thing.)

How has he offended me?

He has gained weight.

And WHY is that offensive?

It's offensive because of something that has gone on concurrently with his weight gain, something that is annoying in the extreme. And here's what it is.

When Steve is out running errands around town, he often runs into people who haven't seen him in six months. They stop. They chat. And the person inevitably comments on Steve's weight gain. And then (here's the offensive part) they COMPLIMENT him! They say the extra weight looks GOOD on him. They say he looks GREAT!

You know what? I have gained weight once or twice (or thrice) over the course of my life and I cannot recall even one little ol' stinkin' time when someone has said to me, "Becky, that extra weight really looks great on you."

Never! Not once!

And then Steve puts on a few and is showered, even lavished with compliments. I ask you, is that fair?

First of all, I had to spend the first twenty-seven years of our marriage listening to him say that he had to eat some ice cream before bed in order to keep his weight up. And now that he's finally gotten past the challenge of "keeping his weight up" and has even GAINED weight, he is lauded.

Even his DOCTOR is happy! When was the last time YOUR doctor was happy when you gained weight. Huh?

This is not only NOT fair, it is NOT good and it is NOT right.

I must add that it's certainly fortunate that he's such a great fella in every other way or I might have to become even more exceedingly and extremely annoyed by this whole scenario than I already am.

As I close (in a huff) I will post before and after pictures of Steve to see if you agree with the people in Smithfield who are all so happily impressed by his WEIGHT GAIN.

(Grrr. Why does just typing that sentence just make me so mad? Maybe it's because I can just stand next to a brownie and gain weight. Ya think?)

Before Pictures


So, watcha think? Do extra pounds agree with him? If I could ever get past being mad about him being so HAPPY about gaining weight, I guess I could say he looks even more handsome than ever.

But what would have really made the whole scenario much more bearable is that if he was really all that intent on gaining weight, I could have just GIVEN him twenty five pounds of my own.

Because I'm generous like that.
In my next post, I'll be answering some of the questions from the guest book (haven't forgotten them!) and also commenting on your comments. Sounds like a fun time to me!

Monday, June 29, 2009

May I Borrow Your Busyness?

I was in a store last week when I heard a lady on her cell phone, chattering away with cheery enthusiasm.

Her side of the conversation basically went like this, "Well, I have to go by the store and pick up the birthday cake and then make potato salad, and then find that chicken casserole recipe I lost, and drop off Kim at ballet class and run by the Post Office and then go and get the oil changed."

Do you know what I wanted to do?

I wanted to march right up to her, tap her on her shoulder and say, "Excuse me, ma'am. May I borrow your busyness?"

Steve and I used to be addicted to busyness. To adrenalin. To crises. To over scheduling. To being needed. To being indispensable.

So when I heard this lady going on and on about her busy life, I felt a brief, strong moment of envy. I wanted someone to be relying on ME to bring the potato salad. I wanted to, once again, have too many things to do and too little time in which to do them.

It has occurred to me more than once that a lot of us seem to derive our self esteem from being over tired, over extended, and over scheduled.

I mean, think about conversations you have with people around you. You ask your neighbor, "Hey, how are you doing?"

She replies, "Well, okay I guess, but if this summer gets any busier I don't know what I'll do. I've been running around like a maniac trying to get everything ready before we go on vacation, and the kids all need me to take them places, and I haven't cleaned my house in a month, and the dog needs to go to the vet, and I had to work overtime three days in a row and I am exhausted!"


She suddenly feels useful and needed because she is frantically (and happily) over scheduled. And you admire her for it, maybe even more so than if she had replied, "Well, I'm feeling very well rested, and I've crossed the last thing off my to do list and I think I'm just going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading a book."

Because Americans are all about busy. We're all about doing stuff faster, doing MORE stuff a LOT faster.

Take communication for instance.

We started out with the Pony Express. Four weeks for your letter to get to your Great Aunt Martha in Boston? No big deal.

A short while later, the telephone is invented. But not many people have it. Most folks still rely on slow and ponderous methods of communication. But it's still okay. Because "frantic" isn't yet the most important word the American vocabulary.

Pretty soon, there is cross-country telephone service. And the pace picks up a little.

And then in the 1930's and '40's, radio and TV start to make an appearance and the soul of the nation starts to change.

Then it's fax machines, the first computers, the first cell phones. The thought of waiting a month to get a message to our dear old aunt in Boston is unspeakable. Because we are impatient! We are important. We are busy! And we are important because we are busy!

Or so we think.

And you know the rest of the story. E-mail, instant messaging, test messaging and Twitter all conspire to pay a visit to a nation of people who can't stand silence, who can't stand to wait for more than a few seconds for ANYTHING.

Three minute oatmeal isn't fast enough. We must have one minute oatmeal. No wait! That's too slow. We must have INSTANT oatmeal!

And busyness becomes the new badge of worthiness. If you're busy, if you're over scheduled, if you're on the brink of a breakdown because of your commitments and responsibilities, then you are looked at with such great admiration that those might around you might even be tempted to ask, "May I borrow your busyness? I want to feel important, too!"

Our pastor is preaching through the Twenty Third Psalm. Yesterday he focused on the verse, "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters."

Don't you know there weren't any cell phones ringing beside those still waters?

Don't you know that in those green pastures, the only "Twittering" going was bird related?

When Nathan was in Israel earlier this year, he was strongly impacted by the Jewish peoples' weekly tradition of observing Shabbat. Although Shabbat is translated as "rest," its meaning goes even further by encouraging active rather than passive abstinence from work.

In other words, those very wise folks in Israel make it a priority to rest and to cease from their labors. Nathan said the shops close down, and families spend time together and there is a wonderful sense of restful quiet no matter where you go.

He said, "Mom, why don't people in American do that?"

Good question.

Actually, ministers are the WORST culprits for not taking time off. As I said earlier, Steve and I spent a lot of years addicted to adrenalin. We were addicted to the ridiculous belief that if we took off a day or even (gasp!) a whole week, that surely all of Christendom would collapse. We were important and we were needed and we were crucial to what was going on. And that was a great feeling.

But that was then. This is now.

For seven months now we have been unneeded. We have been non crucial. We have had no adrenalin pumping to get addicted to. Our Type-A, workaholic personalities have had to do an about face and our frantic, overworked selves have had to learn the strange skill of lying down in green pastures.

And yes, we have needed this time of rest. Before it came, we were both very "stretched." Steve, especially, was burned out in every sense of the word.

But now, seven months later? I would really like to borrow someone's busyness! I would really like to sew myself back into the fabric of a church and a community--people who rely on me, people upon whom I rely.

Steve and I have stayed active over these past months, simply because we're wired in such a way that doesn't allow us to give ourselves over to doing nothing. But it's not the kind of activity we're used to. It's a little lonely, a little solitary, a little strange to stay busy outside the context of friends, church and community.

We're ready for the pace to pick up a little. We're ready to be needed again. And I know that that time is not far off, when I will once again have so much busyness of my own that I won't be tempted to borrow from someone else.

But when that time comes, I don't ever want to ever forget the serenity of Shabbat. I don't want to be guilty of sprinting by the green pastures God has prepared for me. I don't want to fail to remember that I am created in the image of a God who found it needful and helpful to take a time of rest.

I am not indispensable. And neither are you.

Isn't that the best news you've ever heard?