Sunday, December 06, 2009

Toddlers and Tiraras and Pageants.....Oh Crap!





Yesterday was a very long, but very interesting day. Kylene entered Ally in this pageant, Toddlers and Tiaras, the TV show, was following 3 little girls in this pageant and unbeknownst to us, we were going to have our own adventure! This is the inside scoop.

Whenever I'd heard the term 'glitz' pageant, I just thought the kids wore extra-sparkly dresses and some makeup. Can you say naive? Kylene and I were in for more than a few surprises!

I had no clue that kids were so well trained for these pageants. As young as 2, these kids knew exactly where to stand on stage, where to walk, how to walk, who to look at and how to look. Ally is an adorable kid but she really looked lost on stage.

Because of the TV show, all the kids had to wear some makeup and have their hair done. The lady who did Ally's makeup and hair was very sweet and encouraging. Ally looked great in her makeup but her hair wasn't as pretty as her natural hair. Here's Ally just before the first time she went on stage:



Then things got interesting.....

Ally was supposed to have 3 outfits. We were going to change one of the outfits up and use it twice, but after seeing the outfits the other kids had, we knew we'd need to go get another outfit during the lunch break. The other kids' outfits were mesmerizing. These kids (or rather their moms) were professionals at this pageant stuff. It felt like someone dressed in jeans and a t-shirt trying to compete with someone decked out in a Las Vegas showgirl outfit.

So, time to go to lunch. Kylene couldn't find her keys and it took about 45 minutes to discover that some guy had picked them up and was just holding them in the audience....argh...

Kylene found an adorable dress (that will double for a terrific Christmas dress!) and it was 50% off. When Ally tried the dress on, her poor hair was looking pretty bad. So Kylene just wet it down and it looked great. (no more messing with that kid's wonderfully naturally curly hair). We added a rhinestone necklace and her big 'diamond' ring and here's how Ally looked before singing, "Diamonds are a girls' best friend":



Ally was having a grand time and was totally oblivious to what her mom was dealing with.... Kylene misplaced her phone. Before we had to retrace our route, she finally found the phone one the ground by the car. And then she discovered that she had left her camcorder and camera in her sister-in-law's car and her stuff was now in Nacogdoches. That was going to add an hour to her travel time home.

In the midst of that, Benjamin had a diaper blowout. A big one. The pageant was held in an elementary school and they didn't have any place to change a baby's diaper. Imagine that! *grin* Poor Benjamin got his britches changed and got all cleaned up in the back of the van.

I give Kylene much credit. Not once did she snap at Ally or get frustrated with her or impatient. It was pretty amazing. And Ally was having a great time. After her singing, it was time to wait a couple more hours for all the crowning. Not only did Ally play well with the toys Kylene thoughtfully brought, she also made friends with other kids nearby. More than once, she'd ask little girls, 'do you want to play with me?'. I think there were a number of moms who were thankful Ally was there too!

Ally usually takes a 2-3 hour nap every day. She was so tired by the end of the pageant. I'm guessing, when you see drama on Toddlers and Tiaras, it's probably at the end of the day, when kids are tired and cranky. Ally really wanted a crown and they were all sitting up on a table on the stage for all to see all day long. Because these others kids were such professionals at pageants, Kylene began to prepare Ally for the fact that not everyone wins a crown.

Actually, at that point, Kylene really wanted to go home. And I don't blame her. It was one of those days that will be laughed about in the future. In the present, it was like spending a slow motion day in hell.

Then they started the crowning... All these spray tanned kiddos went up to get their crowns and Kylene kept telling Ally that not everyone gets a crown. Just as Kylene was getting up to go change Ally into her jeans, Ally's name is called for Overall Most Beautiful! She got a crown!! I think both Kylene AND Ally were shocked!



Everyone loaded up, happy and exhausted, and headed home, by way of Nacogdoches to pick up the camera first. Kylene had one more adventure when she drove into a ditch and had to have a tow truck help her out.

It was definitely Ally's day. She had fun and got a crown. Next time she wants a crown, it may be cheaper to buy one!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back in the saddle again

It's been about 2 1/2 years since I've been on a work weekend at Pine Cove. This weekend Ben, an amazing young man who also loves jr hi kids, and I loaded up 10 teens and we introduced them to a weekend of serving and fun.






I loved getting to know the new folks there and spending time with these great teens. I loved watching the whole group work together on a big project:



They're remodeling the old dining hall into offices so our kids spent literally hours helping clean up the construction site. It took 10 of them to heave this old carpet onto the fire.

Then they served in the kitchen:



And had enough leftover time to enjoy the swing!



It was amazing to watch the transformation as the teens worked and played together. The girls are really excited about our own Big Girl/Little Girl and overnights and just getting together.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of satisfaction when you're doing what you know you were made to do? That's how I felt this weekend. I know it's a gift from God and I love watching Him at work in jr hi kids' lives.

God is good and I am truly blessed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Traditions



Recently, I've been thinking about family traditions. When Kevin was a kid, he loved visits with his grandfather. He always knew that each day he was there, his grandfather would take him out for an ice cream cone. It was such a special time for Kevin that he delighted in continuing this tradition with his grandsons.

Russell and Randall spent the night last night. Jaime and Slade joined us to watch Monk and Psych. We kept the boys so they didn't have to be awakened. Kevin got up with the boys in the morning and took them out to breakfast. He's done it more than once and it's become his special tradition with the boys. I think Kevin may enjoy it even more than the boys!

So it made me think about traditions. I think they're important because they give a feeling of belonging and a sense of purpose and a continuity to our lives.

I remember making my own tradition as a kid. On Thanksgiving Day, I'd watch "Miracle on 34th Street" on TV. I watched it by myself but I loved it. It was one of the first videos I every bought so that I could share it with my family.

Some traditions lasted for so many years that it's become a part of our lives that we can't imagine otherwise. Christmas morning will always involve powder sugar donuts and a stocking to open. Some traditions were done only for a special occasion. I wrote a devotional book for each of the girls their senior year filled with stories of how God showed Himself to us through the years.

My grandmother gave me a light mint green blanket when I was born. My mother wrapped me in it when I came home from the hospital. I saved it and wrapped all my girls in that same blanket when they came home from the hospital. Then each of my girls wrapped their babies in it when they came home from the hospital. To be able to be wrapped in love from 3 generations past is a very special tradition.



For years the girls have posed like Charlie's Angels. And when they were little, they sometimes had matching outfits. A few years ago, they put those 2 traditions together for one of my favorite gifts - a picture of my girls and a reminder of years of tradition.

Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.

If you have traditions you enjoy, work to keep them alive and well. If you don't have any special traditions, establish your own, that will make the kind of memories that you will cherish when you look back on your life.

Traditions are good for your heart and your soul.

Friday, September 04, 2009

God? Yes, there is....No, there isn't

Facebook is a great tool for reconnecting with old friends. I've been able to connect with family scattered all over the country and with classmates all the way back to junior high. It's been a joy getting to know folks again. I love hearing about their lives and where they are now.

Reconnecting brings surprises too. This person is married, that person is no longer married, this friend is living halfway around the world, etc, etc. Every once in a while you read something that totally throws you for a loop. That's what this post is about.

When Kevin went back to college, he was almost 30. We had 3 school age kids, but we really wanted to be involved at LeTourneau. For 3 years we were a part of most campus activities and got to know lots of other students. And it's been great to reconnect with them too.

One college alum posted something about his 'deconversion' that caught my eye. I don't think I'd ever heard that term before. This young man graduated with Kevin, then went on for further Biblical studies and then to the mission field in Africa. Since then, he's come to the conclusion that there is no God. He's even written a lengthy book about his story. I took a few days and read it. It was a lot to absorb.

This post isn't about him. That's his story and his journey. And it's not about trying to prove him right or wrong. It's simply about the things I've thought about since reading about his journey away from God.

I truly can't get my mind around not believing in God. For me, when I consider the universe and it's incredible vastness, I realize we are seemingly insignificant in the whole scheme of things. And knowing that makes it amazing that we are significant.

It's like the 'half empty, half full' perspective. From the 'half full' perspective, I believe that we are so precious to God that He created us to enjoy creation with Him. I tend to be simplistic.

I see the amazing changes in my life since accepting Christ at 24. I see the family we have that is so, so different from the ones that Kevin and I grew up in. I don't think I'm that smart or wise or good enough to have made those changes by myself.

A young man from our church recently told the teens something that has really stuck with me. He said, "God is so amazing that I can't understand how amazing He is. And that's ok because I wouldn't want to serve a god that I could understand."

In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells of an event that took place when she was 10 or 12 years old as she traveled with her father on a train from Amsterdam to Haarlem. She had stumbled upon a poem that had the words "sex sin" among its lines:

And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is sex sin? "He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but, to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. "Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he asked. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. "It's too heavy," I said. "Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you." And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions; for now, I was content to leave them in my father's keeping.

God is mysterious not simply because he is God, but because we are children. And in his love our childhood is protected. We should view both childhood and God's mysteries as a source of wonder and even comfort; there is a creator and we are among the created. There are answers to all things safely in our father's keeping.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Am I the only one?

Ted Kennedy has died. Am I the only one who is glad that the Kennedy family reign is coming to an end?

Good grief, America's 'royal family' certainly acted as though laws and morals didn't apply to them. Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch, was notorious for his womanizing. His money, that bought most of the Kennedy family's place in politics, was earned by shady stock market dealings and bootlegging during Prohibition.

John F. Kennedy was easily the biggest womanizer in presidential history.

Ted Kennedy was expelled from Harvard for paying someone else to take an exam for him. Then he entered the service and his father paid to make sure he didn't see battle in the Korean War. He was then allowed to reenter Harvard. Interestingly, the Kennedy family gives a lot of money to Harvard.

I remember Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick. Ted was drunk and was driving a woman (not his wife) home from a party. Ted ran the car off a bridge. The car landed upside down in the deep water. Ted got out of the car, swam to the surface and left without even telling anyone about the accident until the woman's dead body was discovered. It was proven that the woman had found an air pocket and probably lived a couple hours after submerged in the car. If Ted had gone immediately to a nearby house for help, there was a very good chance the woman would've survived. For this, he received a 6 month suspended sentence.

All that is just the tip of the iceberg. But many, many people choose to ignore all that and set the Kennedy family up on a pedestal. Truly, I don't understand.

Morals and actions still matter to me when I look at public figures. When I exercise my privilege to vote, I look at a person's life and lifestyle as well as their political leanings. I can't separate their talk from their walk.

......end of rant.....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The time the alligator ate Randall's flipflop

or... how to make an ordinary afternoon into an adventure!

Yesterday was the last official day of summer. School starts for Russ and Josh on Monday! I wanted to do something different. So I called Jaime and asked if she'd like to bring Russ and Randall and join Josh and Julia and me on a trip to Gators and Friends. We would just make it in time for the feeding frenzy!

So we pack everyone up and off we go. We arrive and pile out and go check out the pile of alligators that has gathered in the water. We're on a bridge over water literally teeming with alligators. And we were only about 3 feet over them! A man arrived with a bucket of food and that's when it really got scary!



We were standing nearby riveted to the scene when Randall stuck his foot between the wooden slats. Then he moved it back. Well, he moved his foot back, the flipflop ON his foot didn't move back. It fell, kerplunk, into the alligator infested water! First, Jaime gasped loudly enough that my first impulse to was catch my breath because that gasp sucked out all the air around us. Then I leaned over to see if anything other than the flipflop had fallen in. Then I took a head count of the g'kids. 1..2...3...4...ok, that's all we brought. We were only down 1 flipflop. breathe in....breathe out...

First thing to do was to let someone who worked there know. So Jaime went in search of someone who might could retrieve the flipflop. A man arrives with a pole. He sees the flipflop drifting under the bridge where we were standing. As he reaches to try to hook the flipflop, he casually mentions that there was a good chance the alligators would swarm to the hook and one was bound to eat the flipflop. Seriously, he said that casually.

And he was right! As we moved further away so we could see if he could successfully snag the flipflop, we watched as that swarm of alligators quickly made its way toward that pole. Russell and Josh thought it was the coolest thing in the world to watch! Julia was not impressed and stayed closer to me than the water. Randall was busy hopping around on one foot. Jaime and I were mostly speechless.

As we helplessly watched, one of the alligators slowly opened his mouth and devoured the entire flipflop. We tried to keep following him, thinking that he'd spit it out and then we could snag it and Randall would have a very cool flipflop. It was easy to watch because it was the alligator that kept chewing! I'm guessing that rubber in flipflops is not the easiest thing to chew up! Right around the time the alligator stopped chewing, we all thought we heard a burp coming from the horde of alligators. Seriously. I don't think I've ever heard an alligator burp before! I've never seen an alligator chew up a flipflop either so it could've been the same alligator.

So the alligators dissipated, all of them off to take a nap after an exciting lunch. I'm betting the one who ate the flipflop ended up with heartburn but we didn't stay around long enough to see for sure. Next we wandered around the rest of the place, hand feeding all the different animals. Jaime carried Randall when the road was too rocky but he managed to get right into it with the other kids.

They got to hand feed a zebra, llamas, Scottish cows, deer, lots of miniature goats, miniature horses and a camel. For the record, I was the only one who fed the camel. It was a bit scary when I turned around and we were eye to eye! And the camel had a huge mouth. I fed it twice and that was enough for me. Julia decided she liked the little horses the best because she likes horses most out of all the animals and these horses were just so cute and little and wouldn't it be cool if she could have one and she was probably going to dream all about little cute horses that night....

As we climbed back in the car, I told Randall that he made our trip into an adventure! We'll always remember 'the time the alligator ate Randall's flipflops.! Randall smiled, but I don't think he's convinced it was worth it. And I'm thinking that there is a certain alligator that is thinking the same thing!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

God has no grandchildren

This morning's sermon was on Ruth and it really gave me a lot to ponder. One of the things I saw was that, in the Old Testament, just about every 3rd generation turned from God. Think about it. There was Moses, then Joshua and the next generation turned away.

Judges 2 tells us,

"Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel."

We as people sure seem to have a short memory and attention span. What usually happens is that someone experiences God in a very real way. They live for God and their children hear about this God and the stories of what He did in their parents' lives. Then the children have children. When the grandchildren hear about God from the grandparents, it sounds like good stories. Stories, just stories. Not real, life changing experiences of a living God, just good stories. How can the grandchild base his life on good stories? Good stories don't give you hope or a reason to live or eternal life.

By the 3rd generation, God becomes watered down and seems far away or something relevant only to the grandparents. Twice in Judges (Judges 17:6, 21:15), it says, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." By the 3rd generation removed from a personal encounter with God, it becomes very easy to do 'as he saw fit'.

Until the grandchildren have their own relationship with God, there will be no reason to live for God or follow His ways. Where there is no relationship, there will be rebellion.

Our job as parents is to give our children opportunities to know Jesus on their own, not rely on our relationship with Him. We can't take the easy way out and hope that our experiences will be enough to keep our kids and grandkids going in the right direction. It won't be enough because God wants a personal relationship with each of us. He doesn't want to become a distant memory. Always remember that God doesn't have grandchildren.

Just about the time I feel so unworthy to have an impact on another generation, God reminds me that He completes His plan through ordinary people.

In Matthew and Luke, Jesus's genealogy is traced back and 2 women are remembered by name, Rahab and Ruth. Rahab was a prostitute and Ruth was a Moabite. Both were ordinary women who embraced a living God. Rahab's past was forgiven and she raised a good man who married Ruth. And they became part of Jesus' past and heritage.

The times that past regrets try to choke me, I remember what Corrie Ten Boom once said, "When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever ... Then He places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!"

I want to be an ordinary person, used by an extraordinary God.

(thanks for a great sermon, Troy)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Heart warming

This picture of my new police officer son-in-law kissing Ally goodbye is not only sweet but it makes me proud too. This young man was made to be a policeman.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Mystery Tour

This weekend was a mystery trip for the jr hi and hi school kids. What we really got was a mystery wrapped in an adventure and topped off with a casket! Yup, you heard me right! So let me tell you about it...

There were 21 of us. That broke down into 6 adult sponsors and 15 teens. Then we had 4 vehicles and one of them broke down on the way to Dallas.

The adventure begins. Because of our reservations in Dallas, we have to leave Mr. T at a rest stop with his car that has 3 wheels, one 'donut' spare tire and a missing lug nut. It felt like we were abandoning him but it was the best choice we could make.

Poor Mr. T. It was 8pm outside of Dallas and tire stores were all closed. He finally located one north of 635 where he could park the car for the night. Imagine driving on 635 with a very unreliable spare tire. Everyone was zooming past him while he was trying to not go over 45mph! There were a lot of friendly people who waved at him when they passed him. It must have been a condensed wave because they only used one finger....

While Mr. T. was s....l....o....w...l...y making his way into Dallas, the rest of our group made it to Whirlyball. We reserved spaces for 20 folks and had 20 folks with us. As we learned how to play Whirlyball, some of us learned quickly, some of us learned more slowly, and some of us tried to accumulate as many bruises as possible. Kudos to Lauren for the biggest bruise. And many kudos to the teens who were so patient with each other, regardless of how well they played. That was definitely a fun part of the mystery.

Next we all went to pick up Mr. T. Trying to caravan through Dallas traffic can be an adventure in itself. We all managed to get off course, lose each other, and accidentally split up at least once during the weekend. That simply added to the mystery (will we find each other again? do we know where we're going? where is everyone?) and high adventure. ('high' meaning like high blood pressure)

Then we took off to where we were going to spend the night. Nobody guessed a 4 star hotel. (which is good 'cuz they would've been wrong). They were all pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Dallas Christian College. By now it was pretty late and the girls were tuckered out. They were actually amazing. I simply told them what time to be packed and ready to go in the morning and in the morning, they were packed and ready!!

Morning came especially early for B.E. and Mr. T. Poor B. had to drive Mr. T to where his car was and then pick up breakfast for the group and get back to the college by 7:30am.

After a delightful repast of donuts and juice, we were all ready for the adventure ahead. Our first stop was Cornerstone Baptist Church. This is an amazing church. They have come into this community and are redoing it one piece at a time. Where there were drug infested apartments, there are now clinics, transition homes for foster children, food pantries, places to get free clothing, a kitchen for meals for the homeless. It was amazing to listen to this godly pastor who truly walked his talk.

Our first project was to help set up extra chairs at the church. We didn't know why, we just did as we were asked. As we were looking around the sanctuary while waiting for chairs, we noticed a big display of Redskins fan memorabilia. Then we noticed that it was all focused around something that looked out of place.... something like a coffin....and an open coffin at that! So, instead of wondering if it was a real person there, I walked over to check it out. And oh my goodness, it WAS a real body in a casket!!!!!

breathe slowly....we're making memories here....memories, not nightmares...We find out that we were actually setting up chairs for this man's funeral. It was just very odd to have the scene all set up and no one else there. That definitely upped our freaky memory scale.

Next we were off in 2 groups. One went to an apartment full of donated clothes and household stuff. There we organized and folded and folded and organized until it was all nice and tidy and we were all nice and sweaty. We were completely locked in, not just the regular door, but also the metal bar door with heavy metal screen over that! The rest of the group went to the kitchen to help prepare and serve the meal for the homeless. There were 3-4 groups there to help so our kids got more time to hang out with the people. They played dominoes and just talked. I was just amazed at how willing the teens were to do whatever was asked of them. It was hot, it wasn't a pleasant job, but they would jump up immediately when asked and I heard a number of the kids asking folks there if there was anything they could do to help. I was sure proud of that group!

Our next stop was at a local public school. Another church in Dallas, The Village, works with Cornerstone to bring crews in every summer to clean and paint and repair the neighborhood elementary school. (small world sighting - the wife of the pastor of The Village was Jaime's college roommate!) We got there at the end of their last crew. They were doing the final cleaning before school starts. The school was amazingly clean, polished, buffed and painted. We washed walls - the award for wall cleaning goes to M & P who reached the high spots as M perched on P's shoulders! We cleaned windows, lockers, scraped paint, swept, mopped and helped collect the cleaning remnants. Again, all the kids were great workers.

Our next stop was back to the church after the funeral. I am glad to report that the casket was gone. (whew). The kids folded up tables, rearranged chairs, swept, emptied trash, etc.. to get ready for church the next morning.

By this time, we were all dragging. Everyone had worked hard in the heat and was pretty worn out. So the last surprise on our mystery trip was to Bahama Bucks, truly a taste of paradise. I'd never tasted such amazing shaved ice!

One final stop for supper at Canton's World Famous Dairy Palace. They're world famous, just ask them. We rolled into Longview around 9pm.

It was a mystery trip and an adventure combined to make a most excellent memory!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Watermelon Festival?



Today I had just Ally and decided that we should go on an adventure. So I looked up today's date and East Texas and discovered that there is a Watermelon Festival just an hour away!

Doesn't the thought of juicy, cold, FREE watermelon just set your mouth to watering? What a great way to spend a summer day in July.

So I called my best friend, Pam, and told her I'd pick up her and Weasle (her daughter - just her nickname but I've been calling her that for so long I rarely use her real name) and we'd go to a Watermelon Festival!

I decided to bring Beast because she loves to travel and folks love to pet her. Seems like people are just nicer in general when you've got a cute little dog.

The directions were easy - pretty much straight north, then hang a right and go to the watermelon patch. Keep in mind that I keep using the word 'watermelon'.

We parked in a nice shady spot. It wasn't crowded at all, in fact we were the only car parked in this spot. We took that as a sign that luck was on our side. (I definitely need to read my signs better)

Ally had worn her boots and her jeans and told me she was a cowboy. So we needed to find her a cowboy hat, of course. There were some shaded booths so we strolled around. We saw a booth for air brush painted tattoos. Ally picked out a rose and decided she wanted it on her arm. As she was getting her tattoo, we were looking at all the different designs and I wondered out loud how Beast would look with a tattoo....


A small dog gets lots of attention, a small dog with a tattoo gets even more attention! Everyone who saw Beast laughed and it was like having our own icebreaker.

We got Ally a cowboy hat, we had lunch at a wonderful Mexican food stand and picked up a few more things.

Did I mention we were at a watermelon festival? We kept looking for watermelons. Sadly, we never found any. We found funnel cakes so we were sure it was a festival, but there weren't any watermelons. There weren't many vendors either. We weren't sure what the draw was. We figured it was watermelons. Did I mention we never saw any watermelons?

Ally told me she 'really, really' wanted to go to Grammy's house. So we knew it was time to head home. We made a last stop at the pony rides. There was a pony there who was about the size of Christy's doberman. Ally wanted to ride that pony. So the folks saddled up Peanut and Ally got to ride a real pony. She was tentative but finally let herself enjoy the ride. Instead of going around in a circle, they walked her all around the field nearby. When we were finished, they didn't even charge us!

Someone else gave us some free roses too. Pretty amazing when you think about it. Cute grandkid and cute dog seem to equal free stuff at Watermelon Festivals! (did I mention we never saw any watermelons?)

We headed home, full of memories, smiles and funnel cake. Definitely a successful adventure.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What's in a name?

I am Ruth Alice. I was named after my maternal grandmother and my Aunt Alice. As a child, I loved having the same name as my beloved grandmother. And as I grew up, I loved that my name represented 2 women whom I love dearly.

Naturally, we decided to choose names for our children with special meanings too.

Christina Gail - Christina was a family name from both sides of our family. (Good Swedish name on my side, good Norwegian name on Kevin's side.) Gail was named in honor of my best friend who was tragically killed a month before Christy's birth.

Jaime Renee - Jaime's name has 2 special meanings. First, in French, her name means 'love reborn'. We almost lost her during my pregnancy and were warned that there might be brain damage. When she was born perfectly healthy, we felt we'd gotten a second chance to love this baby. Also, I had a dear friend, Jim, that we wanted to honor with a namesake. And my late friend Gail's middle name was Renee. We felt it a sweet way to keep her memory alive.

Kylene Larie - Here I confess we fell in love with the name. I saw a little girl performing with a gymnastic team and her name was Kylene. I just really liked it. But we were unable to come up with a middle name that we liked and that had special meaning. We finally chose Larie because a couple in our church in Mesa had adopted us and especially the girls. She had been so good to us that it just felt right naming Kylene after her.

And our girls have continued the tradition.

Russell James - Jaime used Slade's middle name and James for Jaime (and my friend Jim.)

Randall Stoddard - Jaime and Slade honored Slade's dad by using his middle name. And they chose Stoddard in Kevin's honor since he had 3 girls. This was to carry the Stoddard name on.

Joshua Steven - Christy and Kyle named Joshua because Christy knew that was the only boy name we'd ever had but didn't get the chance to use it. So they used it, to honor us. Steven was Kyle's dad's name. He'd died a few years previously but his memory will contine.

Julia Ruth - Kyle chose Julia and Ruth was in my honor. It melts my heart when Julia talks to me about "our" name...

Allyson Larie - Kylene wanted to honor me and Aunt Alice but wanted the name updated so Allyson it is. And Trey really likes Larie so Kylene was honored.

Benjamin Thomas - Trey really enjoys history and has much respect for our founding fathers. This strong name has deep roots.

Then, tonight, one of my former youth group kids came to visit. I was her youth leader when she was in 7th grade and we just adopted her into the family and have stayed close to her, even as she grew up, married and is now having her 2nd child. Her newest baby is a girl and she asked if they could name her after me! They're also naming the baby after her grandmother.

There have been times through the years when I doubted myself as a parent or mentor. I worried that I was too strict, too lenient, too aloof, too smothering. How sweet is our God, to give us a glimpse of things we've done right. Not so that we can gloat, but so that we can be encouraged and feel loved.

And then so that we can say, it was all worth it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ponderings

The other day I had the grandkids in the car and we were all going swimming. The conversation was definitely thought provoking.

Russell was talking about going dirt bike riding with Oscar. So Josh chimed in saying that he wanted to go too. They then played a game of 'can you top that' regarding hanging out with Oscar.

Being grandparents sufficiently removes us from the responsibilities so that we can be friends.

That conversation got me to thinking about my own grandparents. I didn't know my father's parents at all. My dad's mother died when he was about 3. I only saw his father for an afternoon every other year or so. My only real memory of him was his noticing my braces and then offering to remove them with sheep shears! I knew he was teasing by the twinkle in his eye and I remember he called me "Ruthie". But there was no relationship really.

I remember my mother's parents much better. My memories of my mother's father are dimmer because he died when I was 10. Then my grandmother came to live with us. I was named after my grandmother and I adored her. The year she lived with us was the only time in my life that I came home from school to someone there who wanted to hear about my day. My parents both worked and I don't ever remember just talking with my parents. I must have, though, because I have lots of memories of them telling me to stop talking!

But I remember talks with my grandmother. Before she was married, she was an elocutionist. I think the generic term would be 'after dinner speaker'. Back in the early 1900's, an after dinner speaker was often hired to entertain guests. They would often give a dramatic reading of a popular book of the day. I got to hear stories of her readings and then she would work with me on my speech. She taught me tongue twisters and had me repeat them over and over until I could recite them flawlessly.

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old.

My grandmother would often darn socks (I don't remember socks with holes but they must have been someone's socks). She could also tat. She offered to teach me but I was clumsy and very left handed and was never able to master my fingers.

I used to love The Monkees TV show and my grandmother hated it. It was slapstick humor and she would always tell me that she couldn't stand to see things (like furniture) being needlessly broken, even if it wasn't real. She would mend my clothes that I would regularly tear and she listened to me. More than anyone else in my childhood, my grandmother really listened. And I knew without a shadow of doubt that I was her favorite. That was a very, very cherished memory because I had never been and never was again in my childhood, someone's favorite.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

Kevin has wonderful memories of his mother's parents too. He loved going fishing with Grandpa and just talking with him. He still talks about things his grandmother used to bake. And we still laugh at some of Grandma's favorite sayings. "My stars and garters!" and "It's raining pitchforks and N***** babies!" were our favorites. I adored them too and I always felt loved and accepted by both of them.

A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.

All that ran through my mind as I heard my grandsons discussing their grandfather. Then I realized that our grandchildren are going to feel the same way about Kevin and me! What an amazing concept. I mean, it's easy for me to comprehend how much I loved my grandmother. But to think that my grandchildren will love me like that is truly incredible.

When my kids started their families, I told them that my goal in life was to be the favorite grandmother. It's definitely a good goal, but I'm learning that I'm getting the best end of that deal!!

Grandparents are similar to a piece of string - handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren.

Monday, July 06, 2009

What I did on my Summer Vacation and other stuff

Our trip to the Outer Banks was truly a vacation to remember. We took 3 days to get there so that we weren't rushed and grumpy. We got to our townhouse and didn't even have to check in. We had the code for the house and it worked and all we had to do was unpack.

Here's a picture of the townhouses around us:

Ours is the one the left, that lovely Pepto Bismol Pink!

Here is a picture of the upstairs. This is from the balcony in the kitchen, looking toward the dining table and living room and then porch. The middle floor had 2 bedrooms, each with their own full bath. The bottom floor had a 2 car garage. The townhouse came with everything from linens to utensils. They even stocked dish soap and other staples for us!


And then there was the amazing location. (You've got to remember that I booked this all online. Even when I'm very careful, sometimes you never know if it's as good as you hope.) We were across the street from The Wright Brothers Memorial:

And we were just 2 blocks from the ocean, with free parking and public access:


The weather was phenomenal the entire week so we were able to go to the beach 3 mornings. Russell started out a bit tentative but by the 3rd day, he was going out beyond the breakers with me, diving under the waves and riding them in! He loved the beach. Definitely our grandson!

We were just minutes from Roanoke Island. The first evening we went to the outdoor play called The Lost Colony. It was a great play. We could only take pictures before it started, but you can see the amazing stage and that was only the beginning!


My brother and sister-in-law joined us the last couple days to share in Russell's Pirate Adventure with us. My SIL made an amazing pirate outfit for Russ and we knew they'd enjoy savoring the adventure with us. Here's the cool pirate outfit:


On the Pirate Adventure, the kids went on a boat, found a map, found a message in a bottle, found a pirate, shot water cannons at the pirate:


and, of course, found treasure:


We did other stuff, like visiting the aquarium, digging for real shark teeth (Russell found a bunch!), flying kites on the beach and hanging out. We even found a place that sold Chocolate Italian Ice! And we were able to bring some back to the townhouse and snack on it for a couple more days.

One of the best parts of the trip was discovering that the townhouse we rented is now renting for almost 3 times what we paid! It just makes it feel so much more satisfying knowing we got a good deal!

I can hardly believe it's July already! Since we've been home, we've spent lots of time at the pool. I can even watch all 5 g'kids, as long as at least 4 of them are wearing floaties.

We had a big celebration at the house for Christy's birthday. We can still fit about 35 comfortably.

It's good to be home (thanks to Pam for watching and spoiling Beast for me!) and it was great to have been on vacation. I think Russell will remember it for years to come. A grand time was had by all. We made special memories and that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to be popular

Finally, I have figured out how to be popular. It's taken me almost 50 years, half a century, but I've got the answer.

All I needed was a cute 3 1/2 lb dog! When I take Beast with me, people flock to me like bees to honey! Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Planning an Adventure

For the record, I really love planning trips using the internet. It's a really fun challenge to find a unique place to visit, a fun place to stay and then finding the best possible prices. I think my inner nerd shines when I plan trips.

Kevin and I have this whole thing down to a science. I plan the trip, Kevin drives and we both have a blast. I always say that I'd love to be surprised by a trip that Kevin plans but the truth is that I'd just like to know he put some real thought into something special for me. The truth is that I really enjoy the detail planning and Kevin doesn't. So it works out magnificently for us.

This summer I had planned out an exciting pirate adventure with Russell, our eldest grandson. We are going to take each grandkid on vacation when they turn 7 years old. This is our first time. I started calling to make reservations and discovered that it was no longer available!



So I started over. A new challenge! And I think this one will be even more fun! I not only found a very cool pirate adventure, but I also found a place to stay that is only 2 blocks from the ocean. Not only that, but I also found us a condo to rent instead of just a hotel room. I also found a price almost $100/per DAY cheaper than anywhere else!

So if we stay 5 nights, technically I'm saving $500, right? Maybe I can justify some shopping while we're on vacation too. *grin*



I'm feeling smug right now. Vacation, here we come!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A touch of sadness

I never fit into my family of origin. I remember as a kid hoping that I'd been switched at the hospital and my 'real' parents were going to come get me. I somehow knew I didn't fit. My parents tended to be quiet and pretty much kept to themselves. That was not at all me. I was loud and wanted to be part of everything going on and didn't want to sit and read. My brother was a lot like my parents. They fit. I didn't.

I don't know how much of that stemmed from the fact that I wasn't a wanted child. I was an accident and my mother told me once that if abortion had been an option, they would have chosen it. Maybe a child can sense that before he can ever put words to the feeling.

My father wrote me off over a quarter of a century ago. My mother's last words to me were, "I often wonder why God ever gave me a daughter like you." She hasn't talked to me in about 5 years.

My brother and I aren't close and rarely see each other.

It's a real mixture of emotions. I am okay to not be close to the dysfunction that defined my family of origin. But I am sad that I don't have a family that I could connect with. I'm okay that my family of origin hasn't influence my kids. But I am sad that I don't have a family that could've touched the next generation.

I guess I'm sad for what I don't have. I have grieved these losses over the years and really have come to a place of acceptance. I truly am blessed and abundantly blessed with a wonderful husband and amazing kids and grandkids. My heart overflows when I think about how God broke the chains from my past.

Maybe recognizing what is missing is a way that we learn to yearn for heaven. I don't know who from my family of origin will be there, but I do know that the relationship will be made whole. I also think that it will be a non-issue when compared to meeting my Savior face to face.



I can sing with Chris Tomlin's song:

My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

Because of Christ, it's only a touch of sadness.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Ater the drinking....

It's not often I get the chance to do something for the first time anymore! Today, I drank more at one sitting than I ever have before.

But I'm getting ahead of my story....

Kevin lovingly took me to the police academy this morning. Calling me his 'lovely lush', he kissed me goodbye and I followed Trey into the building. I brought a book to read and that was smart because we sat around for 2 hours before they took us to a room. They wanted to make sure that none of us ate those 2 hours before they started the liquor flowing.

First, we signed a release. "I realize that I will be given enough alcohol to make me legally drunk'.... I guess that's how they cover all the bases!

Then our blood pressure was checked (to make sure no one had a stroke) and that's how they covered more of their bases!

Lastly, we got to decide how drunk we wanted to get. What an interesting question. There were 9 of us in the room. 4 women and 5 men. I was the oldest person there. I'm thinking the whole 'age is wisdom' rings true because no one else my age was there!!

I actually got online last night to find out if there was any way to get out of having a hangover afterwards. I learned that whiskey gives the worst hangover, then rum, then vodka. So when they asked our liquor of choice, I chose vodka. Then I learned that a shot is about 1.5 ounces. So they gave us each 2 shots (3 oz) and our choice of mixer. I chose orange juice. We had to drink that first drink in 15 minutes. Ok, I could do that. 15 minutes later we were given another drink with 2 shots. So I had 6 oz of vodka in 30 minutes!

I am so not a drinker and it showed quickly! After about 45 minutes, my head started spinning or maybe it was my world that started spinning... I heard folks talking, but it sounded like a long ways away. I was crazy thirsty and kept getting up to go get drinks of water. I hope no one noticed that I used the door frame to aim me in the right direction and help hold me up.



Everyone was given another drink 1/2 hour later. Everyone, that is, but me. All I wanted to do was put my head down and go to sleep, or at least get the spinning to stop. I was still able to answer questions. At least I think I was. I know what my brain was saying, I hope what came out of my mouth was similar.

We all then went into a large room where there were groups of cadets waiting for us. Each group was to administer a field sobriety test and make a decision about that person's sobriety or lack thereof. None of the cadets had any idea how much liquor any of the volunteers had consumed.

So I had to watch the officer's finger.....(don't move your head, ma'am, just follow it with your eyes) Really, surely my head wasn't moving, at least I don't remember it moving.

Then I had to walk with one foot in front of the other, 9 steps, counting it out, turn to the left and walk back. Is it my fault that the directions were so confusing? Why did I end up on the right foot, and couldn't I turn to the right since I was left-handed?

After that came the really tricky one. I had to stand on one foot, holding the other 6 inches above the ground, watching the raised foot and counting. Oh yeah, and arms at your side so you can't swing them like a crazy person for balance. Really, it must be way harder than it sounds 'cuz I couldn't do that either.

I did 4 sobriety tests with 4 different groups. It didn't matter how nice they were, I just coudn't do it as well as they demonstrated them. Trey was in the 4th group. He tried to stay in the background but they asked him to do the 'follow the finger' test.

I think I got better with each test... sadly, the cadets didn't agree with me....

My blood alcohol was tested at the beginning and towards the end but the cadets (and we volunteers) weren't allowed to know the results until everyone was finished.

We were led into the classroom where all the groups shared their findings. They had to say if they would've arrested the person and approximate their blood alcohol levels.

3 out of the 4 goups that tested me said they would've arrested me! They averaged my blood alcohol levels at .08 - .125. (legally drunk is .08) One group said they wouldn't have arrested me and that my level was .03 - but they would've warned me to go right home!

My blood alcohol was .06 and then later tested as .51.

Truthfully, I have a hard time believing I wasn't legally drunk. However, since I've never had that much to drink ever before, I guess I don't have a basis for judging 'drunk'.

I realized once again that I am not a drinker, don't want to drink and don't even like drinking. Nothing is worth the headache and stomachache. And I still hate the thought of giving up my own sense of control.

I am thankful that I recognized my limits. Obviously one young man didn't because instead of getting tested, he spent his afternoon throwing up. When we were fixin' to go home, he was sitting outside with his head in a trash can. Knowing your limits is a good thing.

I do feel good that I was able to help these cadets gain experience for their roles as police officers. I'm also glad that my son-in-law wasn't afraid to turn me loose!

I am most glad that I'm now home and my sweet hubby made some good supper and I don't have to go anywhere else today.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What am I getting into?!?!?!?!



My son-in-law is a cadet in the police academy and invited me to be part of his class this weekend. Wow, my SIL wanted me to help him? How cool is that?.......ummmm......

This weekend his class is going to be about the field sobriety test. Learning what's not drunk, what is drunk and different levels in between. So they need volunteers to be willing to get drunk to help them learn how to deal with drinking and drivers.



So I'm spending Saturday drinking. Probably more than ever in my life. I've never been drunk because I absolutely detest the idea of being out of control. Oh, and I really hate volunteering to puke my guts out. I have no idea what I'm getting myself into but I trust my SIL. I know one of his instructors very well and I trust him too. However, Les is the one who encouarged Trey to ask me because Les thinks it'll be fun to see me wasted! Les is even taking time from his day off to be there Saturday. No pressure.......................



I have to teach on Sunday morning. It's a 4 week class for the ladies on Spiritual Gifts. Last thing I want is to try and teach with a hangover!!!!



I confess to being a bit nervous about this. Being out of control is a fear of mine. "I'm the good mother-in-law" I will repeat that as necessary.

Wish me luck! I will need it!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

search committee



Since it's inception in January, I have been part of our church's search committee. We are looking for a pastor/teacher. Not a senior pastor. Not 'the guy' or the one who does it all. We're wanting a man who can walk alongside us and help us mature and minister.

So there are 8 of us who were chosen by the church to search for this position. We scoured resumes, had many phone interviews, and then had 4 men here for face to face interviews.



It has been an interesting and learning and wonderful journey.

If we'd looked at men in the Bible, our search could have gone something like this:

Noah: He has 120 years of preaching experience, but no converts.

Moses: He stutters; and his former congregation says he loses his temper over trivial things.

Abraham: He took off to Egypt during hard times. We heard that he got into trouble with the authorities and then tried to lie his way out.

Paul: We found him to lack tact. He is too harsh, His appearance is contemptible, and he preaches far too long.

Timothy: He has potential, but is much too young for the position.

Jesus: He tends to offend church members with his preaching, especially Bible scholars. He is also too controversial. He even offended the search committee with his pointed questions.


I think that report is only half joking because the one thing I've learned is that a resume doesn't give you the whole picture. And the phone interview is still only a piece of the puzzle. Then the face to face interview isn't always the 'real' person because it's their only chance to show you what they've got.

Then add to that mix all the different personalities on the committee. Quiet, loud, opinionated, peace loving, the whole spectrum of personalities all tossed into the pot. From that you get all different perspectives. Did we hear the same thing the same way? Did we see the same thing in the same light?

Then add to that the huge responsibility of trying to represent the entire church body as each man is interviewed! Do we want to focus on a certain group? Does this person relate to that group? What is the vision for the church? Who can help us achieve that vision?

It reminds me of Stone Soup. We've all added pieces to the pot and it's been stirred. I believe it's been stirred by the Holy Spirit. We've prayed, the church has prayed, the candidates have prayed and I fully believe that God has been in charge from the beginning. I believe He has been leading us on this journey.

The unity from the beginning has been amazing. When we thought emotions would be charged, they weren't. When we feared disagreement, there wasn't. It's hard to believe that a committee could be in agreement over almost all points. I think that in itself could prove the existence of God!!!

It's been an intense journey. It's been lots of time but it's all been worth it. We'll make our recommendation next week and our part will be pretty much over. But the adventure will only be starting....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Home, in more ways than one

I'm home from our retreat. What a delightful weekend. The last question asked of us was, 'what did God give you this weekend?'. My answer was that God gave me a real sense of belonging.

I've realized over the years that I've always had a difficult time truly feeling like I belonged. In school, when the girls were growing up, in a lot of my life. I know much of it is because of my family of origin. I never felt like I belonged in my family. I was so different from the rest of my family. My parents and brother were quiet and I wasn't. They were homebodies and I wasn't. I talked and talked and they didn't. I always knew my personality didn't mesh. I even remember being in the 2nd grade and plotting to run away from home and find my 'real' family. I was convinced I must have been switched in the hospital when I was a newborn! I know that's silly thinking, but looking back, I do think it's interesting that I felt like the odd person out for a very long time.



This weekend I felt like I really belonged. I felt like I fit in with the other women and felt as if I truly meshed.

I'm thankful, truly thankful.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Outta here for the weekend

I am getting ready to leave in a few hours for my first ladies' retreat with my LCC friends! I'm really looking forward to our time together and for the chance to get to know them even better.

It's been a hectic couple weeks as part of our pastor search committee. We've got the search narrowed down to 2, possibly 3 candidates. What a responsibility! I am humbled by the folks I'm working with. My respect for each of them has grown immensely during this time.

Well, Kevin and I are getting back into Jr Hi ministry. I can see that it truly is a gift from God to be able to relate to young teens the way we do and I really miss it. Our jr hi group is needing another sponsor and they were pretty excited when we asked about it. God's timing is pretty amazing. We're finishing up our small group the end of April. When I told the leaders that we'd be available in May instead of June, they were excited. Turns out they're doing a month long series on relationships. I told them that I taught that stuff for almost 5 years so I was very comfortable helping to teach! I just love God's timing and seeing His sense of humor!

The group is about 10-12 teens. What a great size! Small enough to fit in the house and large enough to do some really great things. This was definitely the size group where we really got close to the kids.

Have I said lately how much we are loving our church? There is such a sense of belonging and acceptance. It's really incredible,

Today is Jaime and Slade's 10th anniversary! Where has the time gone?! I remember a lot of things about that day and a lot of things others have had to remind me about! We were supposed to have the reception outside after the wedding. The church was building a new all purpose building but it had just started. It was a grand idea. However, the wind was blowing so hard that day that we would've toppled over the cake for sure! So we just moved everything inside and it worked just fine.

At the rehearsal dinner, Kevin handed out blue bubble gum cigars that said, "It's a boy!" in honor of finally getting that son! Slade has been a part of our family for almost 16 years now. I am proud to call him my son! We had so many folks help us clean up afterwards so we invited them all over to the house for dinner and cake afterwards! And for leftover wedding slush punch! That was almost as fun as the wedding.

Y'all have a good weekend, I intend to! See you next week! (ok, I won't actually see most of you, you know what I mean!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is RISEN, Just as He said



This is an amazing clip from Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ set to music by Keith Green.

I weep every time I watch it. And well I should because I see what my sins cost Christ. And it's good when the tears of sorrow change into tears of joy on Easter, when we remember that Jesus conquered death and reunited us to his Father, now our Father.

HE IS RISEN......HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

You gotta see this one!



I don't usually gush over a movie, but this one was just fun on all levels. The 3D effects were terrific and the jokes that the adults would appreciate were liberally sprinkled throughout the movie.

There were some real laugh out loud comments -

News reporter: Once again, a UFO has landed in America, the only country UFOs ever seem to land in.

The President of the United States: Boys, set the terror level at code brown, 'cause I need to change my pants!

It was delightfully politically incorrect. Based on old 1950's monster movies, Monsters vs Aliens was a breath of fresh air.

I went with Christy and Julia and I think Julia's 4 year old commentary said it best, "Is this where I'm supposed to be scared? Well, I'm not!"

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Favorite April Fool's Prank

In 1957, the BBC reported on a bumper crop of spaghetti in Switzerland. Hundreds phoned in the following day to question the authenticity of the story, or ask for more information about spaghetti cultivation and how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. The BBC reportedly told them to "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best".

Definitely my idea of an ideal prank - no one was hurt, nothing was destroyed and nobody was humiliated.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bitterness - Pulling it out by the roots

Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.

Bitterness is a frozen form of anger and resentment.

Bitterness grows out of our refusal to let go when someone or something is taken from us.

Bitterness is being constantly hurt by a memory and is holding onto a hurt until it has a hold on you.

My motto is "You can get bitter or you can get better".

When you are offended or disappointed by others and allow the hurt to germinate in your heart, bitterness and resentment will take root.

Hebrews 12:15 (contemporary English version) says, "Make sure that no one misses out on God's wonderful kindness. Don't let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you."

I confess that sometimes I have to work at not feeling bitter. The days that I am selfish and only worry about myself are the times I can always find something to be bitter about. As far as I can tell, there is nothing good about being bitter.

Bitter as a taste is not a good thing. It's not anyone's preferred taste. Any time we use bitter as an adjective, i.e. bitter pill to swallow, bitter loss, bitter failure, bitter enemy, it's a negative thing. I don't think there's anything positive that comes from bitterness.

The good news is that it starts as a seed. A seed of a thought, a seed of hurt, a seed of loss. I know when it's there. It's as though I can actually feel it being planted. What happens from there is my choice. Do I water it with resentment or replaying old wounds? Do I fertilize it with feelings that I deserve to be angry or didn't deserve to be hurt? Do I watch it grow as I replay old hurts over and over in my head?

How do I get rid of bitterness? For me, the best thing to pull bitterness out by the roots is praise and gratitude. How can I feel hurt when I focus on how much I am loved by God? How can I think that I deserve to hold onto bitterness when I focus on all that Christ gave up for me? How can I feel sorry for myself when I realize how precious I am to my heavenly Father?

I have to weed it out by the roots. I can't cut it off and just hope it doesn't grow back. I can't remove some of it and hope the rest won't regrow. I have to tear it out before it burrows into my heart and suffocates my joy.

Today I am doing some weeding. And writing it out makes it easier to see the bitterness for what it is.

oh, and for the record, bitterness is just not very pretty...

Friday, March 27, 2009

We're all getting old around here


Ranger, our 5 year old Sheltie, has been having some problems lately. He's been having a hard time standing up and getting up or down from the couch. And he hasn't been as perky as usual. So I took him into the vet's today and he's got arthritis. Poor guy. Stiff, achy joints - makes him fit in with Kevin and me! He got a cortizone shot and will be taking Glucosomine to help the joints.

The vet laughed when I told him that Ranger is so smart that he goes outside if I tell him "You're grounded!". It's true. When he does something he's not supposed to and I tell him he's grounded, he'll go out the doggie door and stay outside for a few minutes. He'll poke his head in and if I tell him he's still grounded, he'll go back outside. He is so smart and such a great fit for our family.

I remember a vet years ago told me that all of our pets were really good animals. I don't think we have some great ability to pick good pets, I think we are a good family for pets.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Been Busy, but I'm Back!

Sometimes I get so busy with life in general, that I don't come here to write as often as I want to. Last week, over spring break, I got to go to camp with my Sunday School class. They are wonderful 5th and 6th grade kids and I was looking forward to our week together. This particular camp was also open to 3rd, and 4th grade kids.

These campers were kept busy all day long. The theory being that busyness keeps the little kids occupied and they would be less apt to get homesick. For me, it tended to feel like babysitting activities. I found myself missing the jr hi camps we'd done for so many years where many relationships were forged.

I truly believe that whatever spiritual gift God gives us, it will be our passion and bring us much joy. God's pretty cool that way. So I observed during the week. I observed that the young kids were cute but I was way more drained after dealing with them all week. Definitely not re-energized.

Interestingly, there were some jr hi kids who were there helping to serve for the week. I ended up connecting really well with them. There I felt energized and felt joyful.

God's timing comes into play here too. And it no longer surprises me, it makes me laugh. We asked about joining the jr hi team at church and turns out they were needing someone new! And one of the guys is leaving after this next year so we'll probably be next in line to take over! A small group of 10-12 jr hi kids - how exciting!

I've also been really busy with the pastor search committee. I am really enjoying the team I'm working with very much. We're down to 4 possible candidates! The church will be asked to join us in prayer as we ask God for wisdom, knowledge, discernment and a consensus. I'm humbled by all this and I'm really glad for then chance to get to know some folks even better.

So, if you think about it, say a prayer for me as I'm on this committee. Pray for wisdom and discernemnt for me. I can't imagine being on the committee without bathing it all in prayer.

Thanks, y'all!!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Eh? What's that you say?

Recently I've been seeing a lot of badges on blogs by folks over 25 proudly declaring that they could hear an annoying high pitched sound that older people can't hear after years of loud concerts, loud music, screaming children, screaming children and getting old.

So, I thought I'd give the site a try.  Here's what I got off the site:

Train Horns

Click on it yourself and see if you'll earn the one that says you CAN hear it. I've decided not to feel sorry for myself because it was probably a really, really annoying sound that I no longer have to concern myself with!

My friend, Adam, has created a hearing test just for those folks OVER 25. He has found a sound that is annoying to children and teens but real adults can hear it plainly. HT to Adam for restoring my dignity. Why don't you take the parent test too? But, remember, you must be over 25.

Parent Audio Test

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Still a free country

This may not be the kind of post you are expecting.

I am thankful that we still live in a free country. I was free to NOT watch all the inaugural hoopla. I was free to not listen as crowds booed out going President Bush. I was free to not listen to the new President's speech.

Just as folks are free to feel hopeful, I am free to feel sad and discouraged.

Just as the President was free to overturn a ban on overseas abortion funding, I am free to weep for the babies who will now lose their lives as a result.

The President is free to lift the ban on human embryonic stem cell research. I am free to grieve for the unborn babies who will never look into their parents' eyes.



I am free to feel a deepening sense of doom for our country. I am free to believe that, if God does not judge us, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.

My usual Pollyanna-ish attitude is waning. I'm feeling much more like Eeyore regarding our country these days.

But it's ok to feel this way because, as of now, it's still a free country.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My blog's readability

Well, how about that?

blog readability test



I figured I needed some credibility after posting about elephant poop roses.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm all about quirky but.....

I love quirky things. Decor that makes you smile and then scratch your head is just about perfect for me. In our old house, the bathroom was the most famous room because of the decor.



I used the cuffs of different colored sweatshirts to cover the hardware so it looked like the hands were coming out of the wall!



I say that to prove that I'm all about quirky.

But this is too quirky even for me:



Looks like paper roses, doesn't it?
It's actually made out of elephant poop!!!

Yup, you got that right. Elephant poop. These same folks also make a journal and the cover and pages are all elephant poop.

Think about it - to whom do you give roses made out of poop?

And if your journal is made from poop, do you only write about your crappy days?

You'd become the butt of jokes!

If you throw it away, would you be taking your dump to the dump?

What if you were in an outhouse and this was the only paper available?

Ok, I'm done.

The END.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Busy week, time for a smile



HT to Gman for this video. The song is annoying and it's corny, but it'll make you smile. And it reminded me of the segway tour that my friend Pam and I took in San Francisco. That was one of the most fun things we did. Segways don't have alot of honest to goodness usefulness, but for just plain enjoyment, they're great!

This has been a busy week. Our nephew came in for a visit on Tuesday. He's fixin' to get our of the Army soon. He finished up his second deployment to Iraq and was home on leave. He stopped by on his way back to Fort Campbell. He talked with the jr hi kids that had adopted him while he was in Iraq. There were about 50 kids and Josh did a great job. It was probably the first time he'd ever done anything like that and I think he even surprised himself. He really enjoyed himself.

Last night, Josh's dad (my BIL) was able to come for the evening. He's a trucker and was able to get a job that took him through our area. 3+ grandkids and 2+ kids always equals loud chaos. Last night was not exception. But it's happy chaos with lots of laughter.

This weekend is an all church retreat. I'm really looking forward to it. I love the folks at our church and am always happy for chances to get to know them better.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

a Blast from the Past



Here's a picture of Kevin and me at my senior prom in 1975. We just celebrated our 32nd anniversary and this was the closest I had to a wedding picture. We met at our youth group in 1974 and Kevin and I started dating in Jan. 1975 and knew within a few months that we were going to be married.
I graduated a year before Kevin. (I'm just 4 months older than him, I was the youngest in my class) I went to college in Iowa while Kevin went to his senior year in NJ. Kevin wrote me every day, we talked on the phone once a week and I saw him only three times that year. But we were determined and actually got engaged during Kevin's senior year in high school!
Sadly, my parents didn't approve of Kevin and my marriage. Our wedding was something they helped with very begrudgingly and were very vocal about their disapproval. They bragged to anyone who would listen at the wedding about how cheap it was. And a lot of folks told us "We're here to be nice but this won't make it" instead of wishing us well.
I understand because here we were, 2 teens, Kevin was 18 and I was barely 19. We had no money, no jobs and just figured it'd all work out. Our parents tried to prove they were right by telling us that they were not going to help us at all. So we started out with nothing and the years of having to work together actually bonded us closer than it would've if we'd had help from our parents.
So here we are, 32 years later. If I could use one word to describe how we are as a couple, the best word would be "content". It's a wonderful feeling. It feels like something we've really earned and cherish because we've worked so hard to accomplish contentment.
The only thing we ever thought we missed out on was being able to go back to the folks who didn't think we'd make it and just say 'neener, neener'.
No, actually, we are living proof of a living and loving God. With our history from 2 very unhealthy families, the chances of our marriage actually surviving, much less thriving is truly amazing. And credit needs to go to Jesus Christ, the One who saved us and redeemed us, both individually and as a married couple. It's like being a walking advertisement. Anyone who sees us is seeing the grace of God in a living, breathing couple.
We've definitely come a long way and thanks to God, we actually made it. And thanks go God, we are content.

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Longview, Texas
In the autumn of my life, I am very content.

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