Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

the learning curve of a cat.

Bob the cat has an entire house – with multiple surfaces in multiple rooms – to stretch out on. WHY does he feel compelled to stretch out on my desk at my elbow while I’m working? He’s been taking up WAY too much space on this desk ALL. DAY. LONG. I’m seriously tired of pushing – I mean, putting – him on the floor.

Who has the biggest learning curve, him for not STAYING down? Or me, for not accepting that he’s NOT going to stay down?

I was online with a client and both of us were viewing a document on my screen, which suddenly became a blank document. Neither of us understood what happened for a minute.

Until I realized Bob’s hind end was draped over the number pad’s enter key. The text was there, just below a boatload of hard returns. down again.

March 30, 2011 Posted by | laugh!, poor me some whine | , | Leave a comment

PinkGirl’s cartwheel God story.

PinkGirl has a God story – a story of how God weaved together a bunch of things in her life to bring her to a particular place. Here’s how it went:

1. Bye Bye Birdie – and we mean that literally. The performing arts studio that PinkGirl regularly participates in was supposed to be doing Bye Bye Birdie for their spring play. As it turns out, they didn’t get enough boys to audition and had to switch productions at the last minute. Like I said, bye bye Birdie. They’re doing two relatively unknown shows with a heavy emphasis on dancing.

Dancing is PinkGirl’s weakest link.

The rehearsals have been challenging for her but I’ve seen a lot of improvement the last few months. The hardest thing for her? She didn’t get a part she loved. Between the two plays, she’s: “whiny student,” a villager and a pile of snow. You read that right. A pile of snow. One of many. Every day parts were assigned and she didn’t get one, she asked “What is God doing in my life?” She always asks that question when things don’t go the way she hopes they will. I ask myself the same question when I’m faced with disappointment and obstacles. My answer to her is always the same one I tell myself: “I’m not sure, let’s try and figure out what you’re supposed to learn from this experience.” In this case, my strongest theory was that she needed to focus her attention on the dancing – learn as much as she can and strengthen her skills as much as possible. So she threw her energy at the choreography.

She had also signed up to sing special music at church. Singing as herself and not as a character in a play was a very new experience. Another challenge. I suggested that maybe that was another reason she didn’t get a big part in the plays.

2. Theater for kids, by kids. At this same performing arts company, a group of teenagers have started doing their own productions – interactive theater for children. The shows are on Saturdays at 3pm, an hour and a half after PinkGirl’s regular rehearsals which run from 9am to 1:30pm. I took her to see their production of The Princess and the Frog.

She LOVED it. But not just from the audience’s point of view. She wanted to participate. But these were teenagers. She’s only 10. Undaunted, she asked me to ask the owner of the company to ask the teenagers if they would consider allowing her to be in the next production. A few weeks later, we heard the answer. They were sorry, they would be doing The Emporer’s New Clothes and it just wouldn’t work out to use someone so young. Again with the question. “What is God doing in my life?” I don’t know, babe.

She threw herself back into play rehearsals and signed up to sing special music in church again.

3. The cartwheel. Last month, for the first time since I started recording, I needed someone to watch PinkGirl. Both her brother and father were in Jacksonville at a track meet and we weren’t comfortable leaving her at home alone from 4:30pm to 9:30pm while I was gone. She ended up going home with a friend after school and I picked her up at 9:30 after the session was over. Her friend had tumbling class that night from 6pm to 7pm so she got to go and watch.

For the next two days, she was obsessed with learning to do a cartwheel. Surprisingly, I can still do a cartwheel! Not surprisingly, I have no ability to teach someone else how to do a cartwheel. Subsequently, PinkGirl had no confidence in me and was too scared to throw her feet up in the air. Her cartwheels were not pretty to watch.

Long story short, She went to her first tumbling class last Friday night. And LOVED it.

4. The phone call. It’s spring break, FirstHusband is off for the week and we are on staycation. We’re supposed to go mini-golfing on Tuesday night. The phone rings and it’s the owner of the performing arts company. Would PinkGirl be able to play the part of the princess in The Emporer’s New Clothes? They had their first rehearsal the night before and they decided that PinkGirl would be perfect for the part of the princess. Was this an audition or does she actually have the part? This is it. She’s got the part if she wants it and can commit to the rehearsal and performance schedule. And there’s dancing in this show. Which she’s much better at than she was 3 months ago.

We didn’t go mini-golfing last night. PinkGirl was at rehearsal for The Emporer’s New Clothes. And nobody was upset about that. Especially PinkGirl.

5. The question. As PinkGirl was trying on costumes for The Emporer’s New Clothes, the director asked her, “Can you do a cartwheel?”

PinkGirl had an epiphany. THIS is what God was doing in her life! Preparing her for this! With a big grin, she answered: “Not yet, but I just started tumbling classes so I’ll be able to do one VERY SOON!

God can use anything to teach us faith and patience. Even a cartwheel.

And she’s singing “Pray” by Justine Bieber at all three services this Sunday.

March 23, 2011 Posted by | christian living, family, pragmatic commotion, pragmatic parenting | , , , | Leave a comment

friday funnies: plasectomy

“Would you like to save 10% on your purchase today?”


Need a few more chuckles today? Check out Friday Funnies hosted by Homesteaders Heart!

If you’ve got time to hang out for a few minutes, check out what else makes me laugh: Pragmatic Compendium’s “laugh!” category.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | debt free living, laugh!, music, youtube | , , , | 2 Comments

ya know what else I didn’t do? I didn’t QUIT.

I didn’t do my 2 minute forearm plank, my 1 minute superman or my 20 BOSU push-ups on Tuesday.

(see my March fitness goals HERE)

It wasn’t because I was too busy, because I’m always too busy. We all have the same 24 hours every day and we all choose to fill them with different things. With that mindset, I have no excuse for not doing any strength training on Tuesday. I walked 4 miles, but that’s not a free pass for the the plank, superman and push-ups I also committed to do every day. Instead, I chose to allow other things to distract me and take priority on Tuesday. At the end of the day, I just flat out didn’t do what I said I would.


You know what else I didn’t do?

I didn’t give up.

Not too long ago, I would have said, “Well, I blew it. I’ll start over next month and try again.” Not anymore.

I got back on the workout wagon within 24 hours. Not “Monday” (the quintessential fitness start day) or “next month” (because I’m behind on this month’s goals). Guilt will NOT defeat me and make me give up by whispering “there’s no point trying, you’ll just blow it again” into my ear. Shaddup, guilt, you have no power over me.

I’ll admit. Tuesday I slacked. No excuses.

But I’m not quitting. When I blow it, I’m NOT waiting to start over “on Monday” or “next month.” I’m starting over at the very moment I come to my senses, no matter what time it is. For me – this time – that was Wednesday evening. I made up my skipped plank, superman and push-ups and let me tell you – those 20 push-ups are hard enough, adding 20 extra make-up push-ups? NO FUN. This is not the first time this month I had to make up skipped push-ups. You’d think the memory of that make-up work would have been enough to motivate me to NOT skip again.

It appears I’m a slow learner.

According to my personal goals for March, I’m behind. I should be at 38.6 miles by the end of yesterday. When I got off the treadmill last night, I was at 34.6. That’s 4 miles behind.

So how am I doing today? I went to yoga this morning and I’m on the treadmill right now. I plan on doing my plank, superman and pushups when I’m done. If I don’t, I will – as soon as I can.

I’ve made a commitment to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with and I’m not gonna wimp out. at least not today.

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

four minutes with God: Deuteronomy 16:17

a Quote:
“…understanding ownership was half of my lesson. If God was the owner, I was the manager. I needed to adopt a steward’s mentality toward the assets He had entrusted – not given – to me.

A steward manages assets for the owner’s benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It’s his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will.”
(from The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn)

my Prayer:
Lord, scheduling tithe checks on bill pay is some serious fun! Thank you for the joy we feel in this obedience. THANK YOU for the provision of my husband’s bonus and THANK YOU for the opportunity to give even more than we normally do. The feeling that comes from giving back some of the money you’ve entrusted to us is like an adrenaline high! Thank you that we never regret it or begrudge it. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you this way. We pray that we’ve interpreted your will correctly and sent your money where you wanted it to go. We pray that you will abundantly bless the efforts of those to whom you have sent it and we trust you to work all things for your good and your glory.

Our continuous prayer is that you help us to be good stewards of everything you entrust to us and to help us achieve our goal of becoming debt-free. Thank you for this answer to our prayer. Thank you for providing a means for more debt reduction. We profoundly understand what a blessing this job is and even more the blessing of this bonus. Thank you, Lord.

the Word:
“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”
Deuteronomy 16:17 (NAS)

the lyric:
“Rich or poor God I want You more, than anything that glitters in this world. Be my all, all consuming fire.
You can have all my hands can hold, my heart, mind, strength and soul, Be my all, all consuming fire.
All we need, all we need, all we need is You.”
from All We Need (youtube link) by Charlie Hall (amazon link)

This was dual published on my Pragmatic Communion blog.

March 16, 2011 Posted by | christian living, debt free living, devotions, four minutes with God, intentional living, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, status updates, thankfulness, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Heffalump the Hamster is in da house.

Hamster: $4.99

Hamster paraphernalia: $42.00

Providing my daughter with the learning experience of being solely responsible for taking care of a living thing smaller than herself: priceless

March 11, 2011 Posted by | family, intentional living, laugh!, pragmatic parenting, status updates | , , | 2 Comments

fitness accountability: Wednesday 3/9/11

I’ve made a commitment to the Lord to strive to be a good steward of this body he’s blessed me with and by the grace of God, I’m stronger today than I was yesterday!

Here’s what I did so far today:
1. An hour of strength training.
2. Walked 4.3 miles (updated)
3. 30 BOSU pushups. (trying to catch up after doubling my goal 3 days into the month)
4. 1 two minute forearm plank.
5. 1 one minute superman.

And here’s how I’m doing on my goals for March:

1. Yoga/Strength Training Days: 3
2. 22 miles walked. Should be at 18.4 by today, but I’m trying to get ahead because I can’t walk Thursday or Friday of this week. I’ll be chaperoning an out of town field trip with a bunch of 4th graders.
3. 160 BOSU pushups. Trying to average 20 per day for a total of 620.
4. 9 two minute forearm planks. Trying to average one a day for a total of 31.
5. 9 one minute supermans. Trying to average one a day for a total of 31.

I’m blogging my daily fitness updates in my exercise log, and posting my daily progress on my Facebook page and my Twitter account, so follow along any way you like:
1. Subscribe to the blog via email or RSS (there are widgets in the sidebar to subscribe)
2. “Like” my Facebook page to see the updates in your news feed or
3. Follow me on Twitter!

I would LOVE it if you would join me in fitness accountability by commenting either here or on the facebook page and letting me know your progress too!

March 9, 2011 Posted by | christian living, exercise, fight the frump, health, intentional living, poor me some whine, women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t want to sing a solo.

Something’s been on my mind. While rehearsing a song for praise team, someone referred to it as a “solo.”


Oxford defines “solo” as:

noun – a piece of music, song, or dance for one performer
adjective – for or done by one person


It’s been nagging at me.

From the depth of everything I am, that’s the last thing I want to do on Sunday morning when I sing with the praise team.


I always call it that. Not praise band or worship band, but praise team. Sometimes worship team.

Oxford defines “team” as:

noun – two or more people working together.
verb – come together as a team to achieve a common goal.

That’s the way I think about it. We’re a team. We have a team leader, and it ain’t me. I follow the direction of our worship leader and when it comes to serving with him on the team, I trust his judgment, respect his decisions and sing harmony when he’s singing melody. Even so, sometimes I sing the lead on a song. Doesn’t make me the team leader, just means I’m singing the melody on a particular song.

When that happens, I refer to it as leading a song.

I’ve never referred to it as singing a solo.

Oxford defines “lead” this way:

verb – cause (a person or animal) to go with one, especially by drawing them along or by preceding them to a destination.
noun – the initiative in an action: others followed our lead.

Some might say I’m splitting hairs; that it’s just a subtle difference in terminology, a tomato/tomahto kind of thing.

I view it as a HUGE difference, especially as it relates to my attitude and motivation. When I’m leading a song, my primary goal is to lead the congregation in worship. I want to facilitate a shift from the distractions and overwhelming challenges of every day life to a focus on the hope and peace and joy of worshiping God. My primary goal every Sunday morning is to bring each individual person in the congregation with me as I focus my heart and mind on worship. My consistent prayer is that the Lord would bless my service and help me to reach that goal for Him.


The word is still nagging at me.

I don’t want to sing a solo.

March 9, 2011 Posted by | christian living, music, praise team music, prayer | , , , | 1 Comment

penalties or rewards, pleasure or pain.

“Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure…

Why don’t you do some of the things you know you should do? After all, what is procrastination? It’s when you know you should do something, but you still don’t do it. Why not? The answer is simple: at some level you believe that taking action in this moment would be more painful than just putting it off…

Why is it that people can experience pain yet fail to change? They haven’t experienced enough pain yet…hit a level of pain you weren’t willing to settle for anymore. We’ve all experienced those times in our lives when we’ve said, I’ve had it – never again – this must change now. This is the magical moment when pain becomes our friend. It drives us to take new action and produce new results.”

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!
by Anthony Robbins

I hope that the negative consequences I just experienced will be motivating enough for me to never repeat the circumstances that led to them.

I skipped working out yesterday. According to my freakish self-commitment to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with – which I was foolish smart enough to document on the internet – I had to make up what I skipped. Thank GOD I only skipped one day. I had to do double work today. If I had missed two days…

What happened yesterday that prevented me from working out?


I have no excuse. I just procrastinated and then I got distracted and then I rationalized that I would just make it up tomorrow.

I should not have listened to me. I really, really hope I remember how difficult it is to do TWO 2 minute forearm planks, TWO 1 minute supermans and FORTY Bosu push-ups.

I’m going out of town with PinkGirl to chaperon a field trip on Thursday and Friday. Excuse me while I have a little talk with myself:

“Julie. There is absolutely NO reason you can’t do your plank, superman and regular push-ups on Thursday and Friday. Do you feel your arms right now? Do you really want to go through this again on Saturday? Do NOT wimp out. You WILL regret it if you do. It’s LESS than FIVE minutes a day, for cryin out loud! Don’t be a whiny butt. Just suck it up and get it DONE.”

That said, here’s where I am with regard to my fitness goals for the month of March:

8 two minute forearm planks (caught up)
8 one minute supermans (caught up)
130 BOSU push-ups (doubled my daily goal after 3 days, need to catch up to 160)
17.7 miles walked. (To meet my average of 2.3 per day, I should be at 18.4. Got some catching up to do – and I should try to get a head start on making up Thursday and Friday because I can’t leave my post as chaperon to get my walking in. I’ll try to remember to wear a pedometer during the day as we do field trip stuff)

How are you doing with YOUR fitness goals? If you’re a beginner, I’m challenging you to exercise for only ONE minute per day this month. In April, I’ll tell you why I’m saying only ONE minute.

I’m blogging my daily fitness updates in my exercise log, and posting my daily progress on my Facebook page and my Twitter account, so follow along any way you like:
1. Subscribe to the blog via email or RSS (there are widgets in the sidebar to subscribe)
2. “Like” my Facebook page to see the updates in your news feed or
3. Follow me on Twitter!

I would LOVE it if you would join me in fitness accountability by commenting and letting me know your progress too!

March 8, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, books, christian living, fight the frump, health, intentional living, poor me some whine, pros and cons, women | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

hamster dreams.

PinkGirl, snuggling with me this morning: “I had a really good sleep, did you?”

Me: “mmm hhmm. What did you dream about?”

PinkGirl: “Hamsters.”

Of course she did.

Two weeks ago, she was nagging asking us for a dog. I take full credit for the shift to hamsters. I am the master of distraction.

Me, to FirstHusband: “I’m the one who shifted PinkGirl from dogs to hamsters, right? That idea came at you, not from you…”

FirstHusband: “yeah.” (pause) “So, you know how the Marines fight?”

Me: “No.”

FirstHusband: “They take a little bit of territory and grow from there.”

Me: “Who are you talking about? Me? or the hamsters?”

FirstHusband: “my daughter.”

Pshh. She’s been growing her territory since the day she was born.

I think I’m going garage saling. Top on my list? Hamster habitat, hopefully with a silent wheel.

All hamster advice is actively welcomed and appreciated. We’ve been told that Teddy Bear hamsters are the most docile and friendly, that the colored fill stuff works just as well as pine shavings in the cage and that they are nocturnal.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | family, laugh! | , , | Leave a comment


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