If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Now Ear This

Today is our 23rd wedding anniversary and I always post a blog about that, because in this day and age, another year of marriage is a really big deal. Sometimes my anniversary posts are serious and sometimes they're lighthearted. But this post is a peace offering, because this year, I owe him...big time.

As you may recall, last Summer, I landed a writing job at HaHa's For HooHas, largely due to a  piece I submitted that outted my husband's hemorrhoid. Turns out, "going viral" is a thing, and it takes several weeks for that level of publicity to die down. But it does die down.

Then a few days ago, my employer asked if I'd be willing to join her on a podcast. After she explained what a podcast is, (hey, I'm old), I agreed. My wonderful, awesome, totally supportive husband, set up a Skype account for me, and even loaned me his super cool x-box headphones complete with microphone to use for the event. Then he asked, "So, what are you guys gonna talk about?"
Ummm...she mentioned...maybe...the possibility of...your hemorrhoid?

Honestly, has a hemorrhoid ever done so much for one person's career? I think not. So let's focus on the bigger picture here.

He went along with it like a champ, the podcast was a blast, I made sure to mention a couple of my own DIY home remedy disasters to try to keep it even, and I think it went well, even though I'll probably never listen to it for fear the sound of my own voice might silence me forever. But alas, his hemorrhoid is a focal point of conversations with people again, and he took the bullet because he loves me, so because I love him, I'm indebted to his selflessness and will try to be a little more out there with my stuff, too.

Which brings me to last week. My left ear got clogged. It didn't hurt. It just felt full and I couldn't hear anything out of it. So something had to be in there. Odds were, it was wax, but my mind decided it was a spider laying a nest of eggs.

Ron told me to go to the doctor. I agree, that would've been the simplest thing to do. But if you listened to the podcast and/or know my history involving peaches 'n' cream yogurt and a garlic clove, you know I'm not one to go to the doctor before trying my own sick experiments at home first.

Two days of clogged ear later, Ron came home from work to find me leaning over the bathtub with the shower head pressed against my ear and he literally forced me to urgent care, where he dropped me off at the door to park, and I walked in furious, with the left side of my hair plastered against my head and still dripping water.

The receptionist looked me over and then slowly asked, "How are you today?" I said, "Fine" even though nothing about my situation appeared fine, and is anyone whose ever been forced into an urgent care really fine? But I thought I was fine, so that's the answer she got. Then she tried a different approach.
"What brings you in to see us this evening?"
"My husband."
"Anything else?" (I now know what it feels like to be spoken to like a mental ward patient.)
"My ear's kinda clogged." (Even though I'm sure it appeared that whatever clogged it was currently dripping from my head.)
And then I took a seat in the waiting area.

Ron came in and the receptionist said to him, "We see this a lot, you know."
He looked over at me and then back at her and said, "You've gotta be kidding me."
She said, "Oh, not that", looking over at my hair and then whispered, "Clogged ears."
Um, hellooo, I can hear you with my one good ear, jerks.

We were called back to a room where the nurse said, "You didn't stick a q-tip down there, did you?"
Ron looked at me and said, "Tell her."

I took a deep breath.
"A q-tip, bobby pins, a car key, tweezers, rubbing alcohol, my daughter's expired prescription ear drops, the shower head..."

She interrupted me, covered her ears, and said, "Good Lord, stop telling me this!"
Um, I'm not the one who asked.

Two hours later, I had both of my ears professionally irrigated and a 10 day supply of amoxicillin for a pretty severe middle ear infection, although I can't imagine how that happened. We arrived home, and I thanked him for not lecturing me...and for not being a writer. He said, "No, I'll leave that to you." Message received.

So here we are. And the story's been told.

Now to my wonderful husband,
These 23 years have been an adventure full of ups, downs, twists, turns, happiness, and tears...but most of all, laughter. I can't imagine taking this ride through life with anyone else. And who knows, maybe one of these years, we'll stop doing stupid sh**...but then I'll be out of a job, so let's hope it never comes to that.

Here's to the fun year ahead toward 24.
I love you...
...aaaaaand here's a box of Schuler's chocolate crème-filled donuts for your trouble.
Maybe you can put your hemorrhoid behind you now.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

ADT...Accelerated Drama Time

Drama runs high here, you know that. Rarely does it drop, but every so often, it'll suddenly spike with no warning.

It might be over a 2nd grade class party goodie bag, as documented in Be My Valen-Crime, or maybe we accidentally brought the church mouse home with us in a duffle bag, that escalated to a battle of wits documented in Mouse Trap.

That incident led to my relationship with my good friend, Mark from Orkin. He visits me every 3 months, unless I see a mouse. A centipede. A flea. A spider. You know, any emergency that needs an extra visit. Mark from Orkin is soooo familiar with us, that on his most recent visit last month, he found me in my office to discuss our home improvements he noticed.
"Um, Mark from Orkin? Remember that time 10 minutes ago when I told you I saw a mouse in my closet? Where we at with that?"

He left with mouse in hand 30 minutes later.
Yeah, Mark from Orkin is my super good friend.

I have another new super good friend now. His name is Scott from ADT.

You see, a few weeks ago, in the short span of time between me leaving for Zumba, and Kearstin arriving home from school with Caymen, an unmarked white van backed into our driveway and a man with a clipboard was roaming around our barn. Kearstin proceeded to break every family safety rule in the book by having a conversation with the man, believing his story of surveying our yard for a landscaping company that doesn't exist, and trusting him when he said, "I'm supposed to be here."

Why was he believable? Cuz he had a clipboard, yo.
A few minutes later, our daughter-in-law happened to arrive and the guy panicked and left.


Last weekend, as I followed Scott from ADT around our house while he installed door and window sensors, motion detectors, spotlights, and cameras, I made some friendly small-talk...asked him how long he's been with the company, innocently wondered if ADT installation would maybe be a primo job for a criminal to apply for...you know, keepin' it casual. He finally stopped and said, "So, I'm just curious. Did something bad happen here recently?"

"Well, now that you mention it, yes. A mouse was in my closet and a van was in our driveway...guy had a clipboard...it was pretty bad."

Scott from ADT and Mark from Orkin make a lot of the same facial expressions at me. Weird.

I'm happy to report that the spike is behind us and we've returned to our normal high levels of drama.

Turns out, a lot of responsibility comes with having an automated connection to law enforcement.
Yeah, I was surprised by that, too.

Like, say for instance, Ron's playing Call Of Duty and our grandson pushes the power button and shuts the game down. If Ron were to take off running outside to the garage to get black electrical tape to cover the button, forget to deactivate the system before he opens the door, and then misses the 30 second window to push the code because doesn't hear the alarms because he's still got his Call Of Duty headphones on...see, that would be bad.

So let's all just make sure that never happens. Again.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Remembrance and Resolution, 2016

It's funny when I look back on Remembrance and Resolution, 2015, just putting my thoughts into words, and having no idea what the year would actually hold.

I had just blindly resigned from my massage therapy position to step into the world of freelance writing. I wrote, "I still don't know what that even means, but I know God told me to do it."

I described 2 images I felt God wanted me to carry into the new year. An anchor and a seed. The anchor to hold me steady through the waves of change and a seed held in my tightly clenched fist that I needed to let go of, because a seed is useless until you drop it from your hand and allow it to harvest.
I left it with the resolution to trust God completely.

I didn't really know what any of that meant, either.

But here I am in 2016, and hindsight is truly 20/20.

Somehow, someway, in less than one year, God took me...a 44 year old socially awkward introvert, accustomed to spending several hours a day in a dark, quiet, massage room, which I was happy to do, since one of my biggest phobias was for people to look at me, (heaven forbid we relive the church fashion show fiasco of 2012)...and He thrust me onto a public writing forum, the size of which I never imagined or dreamed.

At least no one is physically looking at me, right?

But He wasn't done. Because in that same year, He thrust me in front of 6 Zumba classes per week, as the only Zumba instructor ever, to have to go deep inside her head, and pretend that no one is looking at her. Every.Single.Time.

Enter the image of 'the anchor', as God holds me tight through the raging storms of public opinion. One word. Yikes.

Because here's the reality. Both of those jobs comes with varying levels of controversy, as people have strong opinions about whether writing Satire and teaching aerobics classes centered around dancing to secular songs is "appropriate" or "inappropriate" for a Christian woman to do. And I really struggled with that. Until I read an interview with Carrie Underwood one day. She said, "Carrie is who I am. Carrie Underwood is my persona. Carrie would never really go to a bar to key the side of someone's car, but Carrie Underwood will sing about it." And then I thought about the impact she has on her diverse audience every time she openly shares her faith in Christ.

Now imagine my surprise, when the women in my Zumba classes befriended me. Like, really befriended me. Not just small talk before and after class. I'm talking texting each other throughout the week. Going out to dinner after class. Sharing rides that occasionally turn into deep conversations, as one woman I barely knew said to me, "I don't know why, but I feel like I can trust you." These women, whom I would've never met otherwise, who tell me how much I'm helping them, but who are actually the ones helping me. They're impacting my life. They inspire me to be more open...and maybe unclench my frightened fingers just a bit?

So enter the image of 'the seed.' Is it possible that God is taking my seeds of insecurity and fear, planting them in places where people from all walks of life gather, and growing them into a harvest of transparency and authenticity that speaks to the love and forgiveness that God openly offers to everyone? I don't really know. I just wonder if sometimes we as Christians unintentionally present ourselves on pedestals that people might have trouble relating to? I pray that if and/or when that begins to happen, that we're quick to seek humility, and remind ourselves that we're no better than anyone else, and trust me, my name is at the top of that list.

My remembrance of 2015: finally acknowledging that God is bearing fruit in my life. Too many deeply personal things happened to me last year to deny that the Holy Spirit is alive and working and that God is nowhere near ready to give up on my hot mess, despite all my shortcomings.

You see, once upon a time, someone said about me, "She doesn't bear any fruit." And I believed them. Turns out, we were both wrong. The people who believe that just have certain expectations of which fruit they need from me, and I assumed, because I wasn't meeting their need, that my tree was a failure.

But here's the deal. If you're expecting super sweet and popular apples from me, you're gonna be disappointed...possibly frustrated...and maybe eventually start to question my tree. Don't. God's tending it. My fruit might just be the kind that isn't as easily recognizable. Mine's more like the weird looking fig, or something.

What are figs good for? Don't ask me, but God created them, so they must serve a purpose.

My resolution for 2016: To stop wishing for apples, embrace the figs, trust Him to put me where He needs me, and then follow His lead, regardless of how unqualified I feel for the job.

So on a much smaller scale than Carrie Underwood, here's what I've concluded about myself:
Shari is who I am. Shari Courter is my persona. Shari would never really throat punch a shopper who got into the express lane with more than 20 items, but Shari Courter will sure as hell write about it.

As for Zumba, it turns out both Shari and Shari Courter enjoy sexy aerobic dancing to Pitbull songs...sorry if that ruins anything for ya...but then don't be surprised when, at the end of class, we're cooling down to songs like, 'Yours To Take', which is incidentally my theme song for 2016.

I'm thankful for each and every one of you who are part of my life, and wishing you all a very Happy and Fruitful New Year...
Especially you figs out there. You know who you are.
"Yours To Take"
~Jimmy Needham~

This is my second chance, this is no song and dance
You came in and renewed a right spirit
This is grace at its best
This is taking a restless, messed up heart and having you clear it

I can feel the weight is lifting
I'm barely staying on the ground
And I can feel the wait is over
Finally the lost is found

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He's asking for mine

I've been captured by grace
I'm not going away
I'm Yours to take

I was down for the count
I was up, but knocked out when I heard, "Pardon for the interruption"
Then like out of blue, out came glorious You
You picked me up without barely any introduction

You won my heart by a landslide
You tend to do that every time
So, everything I have is Yours now
Even my very life

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He's asking for mine

Well, I've been captured by grace
I'm not going away
I'm Yours to take

Your kindness leads me to repentance
Leads me to the cross
Which leads me to forgiveness
So, I'm counting it all as lost

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He's asking for mine

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He's asking for mine

I've been captured by grace
I'm not going away
I'm Yours to take

(So, this is what it feels like to live life)
I'm Yours to take
(So, this is what it feels like to live life)
I'm Yours to take

(So, this is what it feels like to live life)
I'm Yours to take
(So, this is what it feels like to live life)
I'm Yours to take