Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Unexpected

My son and I have been waiting for the snow to arrive so we can go sledding. If you’ve known me long, you know that’s an amazing statement to come out of my mouth, or in this case, keyboard. I’m a sunshine and warm weather sort of girl. But last year, during the winter from you-know-where, we got so much snow that the only thing I could do was buy some gear and go out and enjoy it. We have a great hill at our house and have been chomping at the bit to get the sleds out again this year.

It’s funny how often we get the things we wish for, but not in the way and circumstance that we wanted them. The snow showed up, but so did a nasty sore throat and sub-zero temperatures. We have three feet of snow, but there’s definitely no sledding going on.

It happened again a couple of days ago. I desperately longed for a day off to putter around my house, wrap presents, and bake cookies. With Christmas being a prime time of year for overload freak-outs, there are times when I feel like if the world doesn’t stop spinning and let me off, I’m going to…well, I don’t know what I would do, but it would be ugly. So I badly wanted a day off. I got it off alright….I spent it lying on the couch sick as a dog, looking at our Christmas tree with nothing under it and wishing I felt good enough to get up and wrap some packages.

Sometimes it’s the same with my faith. I want God to answer my requests and then I’m confused or upset when he doesn’t do it exactly like I expected. Yet when I stop to think about it, I’m so glad he doesn’t! I, for one, can’t even count the times I’ve profusely thanked him for not giving me what I asked for in the way I thought I wanted it. Isn’t it wonderful that He thinks outside our tiny, narrow-minded boxes and gives us just what we need and in the very way we need it?

Before the beginning of time, God knew I needed a savior and he sent one in the most unlikely and unexpected form, a baby. This week, as you think about your Christmas expectations and the gifts you might receive; pause, take a deep breath, and thank God for the one he’s already given you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

Speaking of all things "real"...this year we did something we've never done before. We hiked around our 10 acres, found and cut our own Christmas tree, rather than getting one from the tree farm. It was really fun and the tree looks better than I expected. (Remember, I'm the one who likes processed, cookie-cutter, non-real things). But, as a matter of fact, I actually love it. I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture that the top of the tree is snug against the ceiling. I lost the "it's not too big, it will fit fine" argument. The Pastor had to cut quite a bit off the bottom to get it in the stand. What can I say? I'm spacially challenged. Oh well, that angel didn't look so great on top anyway.




If you're easily distracted (like me), and often prefer the fake to the real...I hope that as you enjoy this holiday season, you keep the real meaning of Christmas in focus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why Bother?


The Pastor likes the real thing. He's into butter, not margarine. He thinks the only "real" milk comes straight out of the cow (how gross is that?). A fire built with wood is the only way to go as far as he's concerned and he completely dismisses gas fireplaces that instantly ignite. He only likes to BBQ on charcoal...you get the idea.

I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite. I'll take "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" over the real thing any day. I like my milk pasteurized, homogenized and any other "ized" they can do to it before it gets into my fridge. I love the convenience of a gas fireplace or BBQ. These types of issues sometimes create problems for us. (Would you ever guess that?)

The other night I bought "Light" Ice Cream. Because church members read this blog and I wouldn't want to cast The Pastor in a bad light, let's suffice to say he was not a happy camper. I argued that it was caramel brownie swirl and he would love it. I boasted that it only had 140 calories per serving. I tried to convince him that he wouldn't notice it wasn't "real" ice cream. I attempted to coax him out of his mood and into trying just one bite. He would have none of it. Literally.

He went into his office to pout...oops, I mean work, and I, in a last ditch effort to keep peace, sneaked out of the house and down to the mini-mart for some true blue ice cream. When I got home, I put both half gallons on the counter and began to dish. Ooooh, my caramel brownie looked so good and his plain vanilla looked a little boring. I dished up and took a bite. Mmm. Another bite. Hmm. That's an interesting flavor. Another bite. Gee, this doesn't really taste so hot. Another bite. Yuck. This is gross.
I didn't want to admit that mine was disgusting so I ate the whole bowl. Then, when The Pastor wasn't looking I took a bite of his. Much better. Dang. Oh well, at least I had the satisfaction of knowing I was saving precious calories....until I read the back of his carton.... 120 calories per serving. Double Dang.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Survival of the Fittest

Whew. I made it. There's something about Black Friday that always gets me in a yank. I'm not sure I quite understand it, but I think it's just too much pressure for me. Consider Thanksgiving. It's a day to pause and give thanks. It's a holiday (well, at least it is if dinner doesn't happen to be at your house this year). It's a day to eat, enjoy time with families, and take unusually long naps after eating sinful amounts of pie. In other words, Thanksgiving is a day of eating and sleeping (please don't call my house with death threats if you were up at 4am putting your bird in the oven--theoretically, it's a day of eating and rest).

Now fast forward to Black Friday. The TV blares constant adds about all the sales starting at 5am (no scratch that...they started at 4am this year) for things you "Must Have", radio stations start their "all holiday music" extravaganzas, count-downs to "The Big Day" begin, parties are scheduled, every weekend on the calendar instantly fills up, and on and on it goes. It feels like someone just fired the starter pistol and if you don't hit the ground running, you're going to get trampled before you ever leave the starter blocks. (Speaking of trampled... It doesn't help my thoughts on the subject any to see the story on the news about the Wal-mart worker who was trampled to death on Friday morning by an impatient mob of early morning shoppers.)

But now that the initial surge is over, I've taken a deep breath, bought a few gifts, pulled the decorations down from the attic and I'm ready to see if I can survive another holiday season. Oh yeah, in case nobody has reminded you today....it's 27 days until Christmas.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pie in your Eye

I knew I shouldn't have let my son eat dessert with the Youth Pastor. Those Youth Pastors are bad news. It's not like little boys need any encouraging in the mischief department.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at our church. It was a wonderful meal with 25 or so people gathered. After dinner, The Pastor's son was eating pie with the Youth Pastor (When he's being adorable he's my son. On days like this, he's The Pastor's son.) and I was in the kitchen helping to clean up. A small clarification here, my son....oops, I mean The Pastor's son didn't really want any pie, so he asked me if he could just eat whip cream. I kind of felt sorry for him (first mistake) and because it was a holiday, I squirted a pile of whipping cream on a dessert plate and turned him loose with a spoon.

OK, so anyway, I was in the kitchen and he wanders over to me with his plate of whip cream.

"Hey, Mom?"

"Yes?" I answered.

"I think this whip cream smells funny." He held the plate up for me to examine.

"I'm sure it's fine" I said, bending down to get a closer look.

Then my one and only son....oops, I mean The Pastor's one and only son, in front of God and everyone...on Thanksgiving day, nonetheless, smashed the plate of whip cream into my face and up my nose.

I don't think I've ever heard him laugh that hard. I don't think I've ever heard his father laugh that hard. He's only six, but I have this funny feeling that he's going to be grounded from going to Youth Group for a long time to come.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Success of The Hunt

As a wife, I'm grateful to my husband and the Lord for providing meat for our family, but there's nothing in me that has the need to actually look at the bloody, dead animal. I'm not excited to take a picture while The Pastor holds it's floppy head in his hands or go out to the garage and look as he and his friends skin it. (YUCK!) I think all those things are basically guy things...So as promised to all my male readers, here is a picture for you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vulnerability

Like Fox News, I try for the most part to make this blog "Fair and Balanced", but I'm afraid that you men might not fully understand this post. Sorry. I can't help it. I can only look at this from a woman's perspective. However, later this week, I'll post a picture of The Pastor with the bloody, dead dear he shot and that should satisfy my "Manly Post" quota for the month.

In a recent post, I mentioned a bad hairdo. It was one of those days where I was feeling vulnerable. I had gone on a business trip to Las Vegas and when I returned, all you-know-what was breaking loose at the office. Being gone for a week, even if it's for the sake of the company, always has huge paybacks. Anyway, it was a lousy week with many factors against me.

As a personal policy, I ALWAYS, get my hair cut at a late afternoon appointment. The lady who cuts my hair does an amazing job with the shears, but she has this uncanny ability to make me look like....well I don't know who, but let's just say it's bad. I get teased relentlessly, so I always go straight home after a haircut.

Lately though, she's been cutting my hair without washing it or getting it wet. This turns out to be in my favor because she can cut it and it retains the shape I gave it in the morning, instead of the Cyndi Lauper look she likes to give it. Because of this, I've let my morals slip and for the last several haircuts, I've let her cut it at lunch. Since I'd been out of town and also on vacation, I was desperate for a haircut, so this day I compromised my values again and made a lunch appointment.

My day at work was terrible, the weather was gloomy and dark and I was vulnerable and looking for something to make me feel better. I'm going to sum up this post by encouraging you gals...if you find yourself in this mood; if life is pressing in on you, and certainly if you are getting your hair done at lunch and must go back to work, your problems can't be solved by the words...

"Sure, you can color my hair."

Trust me. I know.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Light

"Light is sweet, and it pleases the eye to see the sun." Ecclesiastes 11:7


This week was a bit tough. There's something about "falling back" that messes with me. While it was nice to wake up and have it a little more light than before we changed the clocks, it's definitely not worth the trade off when it's dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Some people might think it's a bunch of hooey, but up north here in Idaho, the days get very short and Seasonal Affective Disorder (being SAD) is a very real condition. Not having enough light can make you feel strange in all sorts of ways. I know because I happen to have it. I'd like to sugar coat it for you all, so you don't think less of me, but basically...I turn into a crazy woman when I don't see enough daylight.

My Jeep has automatic headlights. They come on when it's getting dark and I've often wondered if the sensor is broken or something, because it's got to be pretty dark before they come on. On Wednesday my headlights came on as I drove both to and from work. My heart sank. Here we go, I thought, knowing this is only the beginning of a long, dark winter.

If I let myself, I can get extremely bummed out by the fact that I spend my days in an office with only a small view to the outside light, or I can be downright depressed that I might not stand in my own kitchen and see the sun spill through the windows until the next weekend rolls around, and even then, only if it happens to be sunny that day.

However, when I feel myself sliding down that icy slope of despair, I try to remind myself of one thing...

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Christ is my light. With him I'm never in darkness. Armed with that (and a full spectrum-light therapy lamp...just kidding - I don't own one) I should make it through these dark winter months just fine.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember Who's In Control

"The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." Proverbs 21:1


Whether your candidate won or lost last night, let's remember to pray for our nation. Isn't it comforting to know that regardless of who we voted for for President, we know who really holds the future of our country in his hands?

Monday, November 03, 2008

True Satisfaction

I looked through my pile of mail the other day to find another yet another catalog in the stack. It seems like they arrive daily, even though I know that's an exaggeration. I tell myself not to, but I can't help but flip through them. Of course, when I do, I always see some particular item that I didn't know I needed and now can't live without, so I'm forced to keep the catalog for the soon-coming day when I place my order. Ah, the power of advertising.

On the flip side of that, there are some days when I just feel like I need something new. I don't know what it is, but I definitely need something. No advertising has been forced upon me, there's nothing in particular that I have in mind, but I'm sure that if I go find myself something, I'll feel better.

Sunday morning at church, we sang a song that was new to me. Now, I've grown up in church, been a Christian since I was very young, and married to the pastor for nearly 20 years. Let me tell ya, I know a few songs. But, I didn't know this one.

The downside to knowing so many songs for so many years is that I often sing them without really letting the words soak in. Sundays are busy for pastors and their families. It's a work day. Sometimes it's very hard to turn our minds from "work" to worship, so I end up singing, "I love you, Lord" while thinking, "Where are the Jones' this morning? I haven't seen Jane in several weeks. I should remember to pray for her and give her a call. I hope she's not mad after what happened at the last business meeting..." and on and on.

No one but you Lord,
can satisfy the longing in my heart;
Nothing I do
can take the place of drawing near to you.

The words caught me off guard. It was a simple song and I've sung a million like it before. But for some reason, that morning, as I stared at the overhead screen, God and I had a quiet moment together. Because I didn't know the song, I just stood there, looking at the words and soaking in their truth. Try as I might to soothe my soul with some thing, I can really only do it with some one. God spoke to me clearly that morning, assuring and reminding me that he is enough for me and drawing near to him is the only thing I need to satisfy those longings in my soul.

That catalog is going in the trash.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Selective Knowledge

This afternoon The Pastor, our son, and I all went to Wal-mart to do some grocery shopping. On the way home, a truck was driving in front of us that had a sticker on the rear window that said, "Real trucks don't have spark plugs."

"What does that mean?" I asked "Don't all cars need spark plugs to run?"


The Pastor told me that the truck was a diesel and diesel engines don't use spark plugs. He then launched into a 15 minute explanation of engines; how they work, the difference between gas and diesel, spark plugs, glow plugs, on and on... He went on to explain compression ratios and ignition source and finally finished up with the difference between regular gas and premium gas and which kind you'd want to use in which kind of cars and why.

I looked at him dumbfounded as he beamed with pride at his vast car-guy knowledge. After a minute or two of silence I finally asked him the question that had been plaguing my mind while he spoke...

"How can you know all that and not know how to work the remote for the TV?"


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It Aint Over Until You-Know-Who Sings...

Yeesh. I need to get blogging. There's only a few days of this month left and if I don't get a post in, it will be the first month in about 2 years that I didn't write anything. I thought I had just blogged a couple days ago until one of my readers asked me "Have you given up blogging? It's been a month since you wrote!" I told him he was exaggerating and then looked at my calendar. Yikes...he was absolutely right!

This has been a whopper of a month. It started off with a family vacation which included the flu and a doozie of a head cold for me, continued into a 40th Anniversary party for my parents, and finished off with an unplanned business trip to Las Vegas. Thinking about everything that's gone on in October, I thought my month was pretty insane, but thankfully done (for all intents and purposes). But I was painfully reminded yesterday and today by a software crisis at work and an extremely bad and expensive hairdo (more on that later) that the month isn't over yet.

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Genetics

I miss my Grandma. When I was little, she would let me steal Certs breath mints from her purse and she always had a kleenex tucked in the elastic in her sleeve. All of us grand kids would snicker every time she pulled one of the wadded tissues out.

Not long ago, I caught my mom with a kleenex in her hand and as she began to wad it up, I gasped, "You better not be getting ready to tuck that in your sleeve!" She laughed and assured me that she was only putting it in her pocket. I chided her that the pocket is only the first step. Next stop....sleeve. In a similar scene, while she was visiting, my son asked for a tissue. Mom whipped one out from her pocket and I began to tease her for becoming her mother. Relentlessly.

No matter how much you love your family, you don't want to become your mother. I don't know why that is. I admire my Mom and she has many great qualities. Yet, when my brother chides that I'm becoming her, I go into battle mode. (of course, he is turning into a little "mini-me" of my Dad, so there's not much room for him to talk).


My office is in the basement and this morning, before I came down to my computer, I remembered that I hadn't taken my Allegra last night. My allergies were killing me! As I grabbed a couple kleenexes and stuck them into the pocket of my sweatshirt. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked around to see if anyone was looking. Luckily for me, in my own house at 5:20am, everyone is in bed and there is nobody around but me.

I'm doomed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Green Thumb

Okay, I admit it. I'm not that great at growing things. Just today, The Pastor came in and scooped up one of my drooping plants with a sarcastic comment about being the one who had been called by God to save our houseplants.

Usually when I attempt to grow things like flowers, I get results like you see in the picture above.

This spring, in the name of simplicity, I planted flowers in large pots, rather than make flower beds. I figure the less dirt, the less chance that weeds can grow and the less chance of weeds growing, the better the chance that flowers might actually grow. So you can imagine my delight when my flowers took off and bloomed like crazy. (well, most of them...)

I had flowers that looked like this....

And this... My pots runneth over. It was a beautiful sight and every day I would come home from work and while I watered my fantastic foliage, I would commend myself on what a great plant-grower I'm becoming. The petunias were my ultimate source of pride. I actually have 4 large pots and the one full of purple petunias was by and far the most beautiful. The plants are spilling over the sides of the pot and there were so many flowers it looked like I own stock in Miracle Grow. Notice I said the plants are, but the flowers were.





The Lord has a funny way of keeping my pride in check. You've heard me tell of attending meetings wearing remnants of my lunch or of admiring my own hairdo and drooling on myself, but this one is on a whole new level. One night after Bible study I stood on the porch saying good-bye to a friend. She noticed and commented on the petunias and I beamed with pride.
The next morning when I left for work, I gasped with surprise and then instant rage. A pack of wild llamas (yes, I said wild llamas) came through the yard and ate every flower...only off my huge petunia plant. And now, it looks like this...





So not fair.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Annie (Cari) Get Your Gun!

You never know what's going to happen when you're a North Idaho Wife. A couple weeks ago, one of my friends told me that her husband announced that they were going to pick out her birthday gift. Judging by the direction they were heading in the car, my friend began to get excited, just knowing they were on their way to Home Depot to pick out a Dyson Vacuum cleaner that she'd been wanting. As they drove, she was trying to decide which model she'd choose. Would it be the yellow one or the blue one? Apparently, it would be neither... she soon found herself at the gun show where her husband was taking her to pick out a new rifle.

In trying to console her, I shared my own story of receiving a .22 for Mother's Day. I had dropped some serious hints that I wanted a blender. When The Pastor presented me with a long, skinny box, I knew I was in trouble (or he was). To his credit though, he did also get me the blender. The day I got that .22, I didn't know just how fun it would be.

I surprised myself the other day while packing for our annual women's retreat. I was making a mental checklist as I put items in my bag. Socks...check, toothbrush....check, Bible....check. Ooh, I interrupted my own thought pattern. I can't forget my gun!

I laughed out loud at my own statement and the thought of anyone else hearing it. Only in North Idaho do you take your gun to a women's retreat. Actually, at the camp where we stay, they have a small rifle range with the little metal animals that fall over when you shoot them. (I'm sure there's an official name for those things, but I don't know what it is). Anyway, over the past few years, the women have had a ball shooting.

I'm sure if the men could see us they would cringe, but we all know the rules for safety and every now and then, we knock some animals over. We even got this year's speaker, a self-proclaimed city girl, in on the action. So for all you gals out there...when you're packing for your next retreat, give careful consideration as to whether or not you'll need your gun.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Not New Forever

The Pastor often tells the story of a friend who bought a shiny new pickup truck. As is others watched, said friend took a large sledge hammer, walked to the back fender of the truck, and in one powerful swing put a large dent in the new truck. Then he said, "There, I'm glad that's over...now I don't have to worry about it anymore."

Let's just say, I don't have that same philosophy. It's my goal to keep all my new stuff as new looking as possible. I want to protect and preserve. I like things shiny, intact, and most importantly...working.

In my last post, I showed some pictures of our new travel trailer on it's maiden voyage. This trailer is a bit longer than our last one, so I've been extremely nervous about dragging the thing around for fear of smashing into something with it. (Of course, this does not reflect at all, my confidence in The Pastor to handle the trailer...I'm just an inherently nervous person) Much to my pleasure, my skilled husband was able to manuever the trailer around with no problems. We came back home, backed the trailer into the driveway and had nothing to report except a weekend of fun.

Once the trailer was safely set in place, we all got to work on our respective unpacking jobs. When we were done unloading, I went into the house and started the laundry. From the house, I heard our riding lawn-mower (which we also recently bought) fire up. I laundered, The Pastor mowed. After awhile, I looked out the window and and saw our truck parked in a strange spot. Worried that the pastor might be loading or lifting something he shouldn't, I went out into the yard. The truck had a tow-chain hooked to the lawn mower. Hmm, strange, I thought.

Right then, The Pastor came walking around the corner. He looked a little shaken. Just as I asked him what was going on, I noticed the dent in the trailer...then the one in the lawn mower.

Apparently, I should have worried less about the maiden voyage of the trailer and more about its safety while parked in the driveway. Somehow, The Pastor lost control of the riding mower and it took off down the hill (with him on it)...where it smashed into the side of the new trailer.

I know things can't stay "new" forever...but I was hoping for longer than two weeks.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Maiden Voyage




This weekend we took our new travel trailer on its first outing.
Here's a few shots of the fun. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Family Matters



I’ve had some people on my case lately about my sporadic blogging. Mostly this has been coming from my family, and I figure that all they really want to know is what’s happening in my son’s life. I realize now that after you have children, you completely lose your own life and identity. It becomes all about the kids. (OK, I know that’s not totally true….don’t go thinking that I need more therapy than I’m already getting.) Anyway, I figured since it’s my relatives that have been hounding me about this, I’d make an observation or two about my last visit with my family (which was a couple weekends ago). After taking a long, hard look at how things operate at my Mom and Dad’s house, I have a better understanding of why I’m such a confused person.

When we came through the door of Mom and Dad's at 10PM, there was a fresh plate of Snickerdoodles and a pan of blonde brownies sitting on the counter… right next to where Mom keeps her Weight Watchers book. I polished off three cookies while The Pastor dug into the brownies.

For breakfast, Mom and I carefully chose and ate low-fat, low-calorie granola bars…and the rest of the Snickerdoodles. (well, maybe not the whole plate, but you get my drift).

The rest of the weekend was full of conversations such as how terrible we look in our swimsuits, how many Weight Watcher points certain foods have, and making sure our lattes were made with sugar free syrup. The funny thing is that in between those conversations, were others such as, “Hey….that was my brownie!”, “I need some gummy bears.” and “Wow! Is this a five or seven layer chocolate-fudge cake? Can I have another piece?”

Please understand these conversations are not just between Mom and me. It’s all of us, right down to the last cousin. We are an odd bunch. We count carbs and eat caramel in the same moment. No wonder I can’t figure out if I should drink an Atkins shake or a triple-thick milkshake. Oh well, what’s a girl to do? I suppose when in Rome, do as the Romans, so I think I’ll go have a snack of Sparkle Cherry Laffy Taffy and a diet coke.

Married To The Pastor

Last Sunday, The Pastor preached about marriage and divorce. Being that I’m actually married to him, it’s always interesting for me to sit in the front row and listen to what he has to say on this topic. I’ll admit, sometimes as he’s describing what a godly marriage should look like, I think to myself, Yeah, right, Buddy. What about that doozy of a fight we had last night that started over whether the color teal is actually blue or green. (Yes, that has been a real fight). There have been times in the past, as The Pastor stood behind the pulpit and yammered on about love, respect and submission in marriage, that anger welled up inside me. How could he be such a hypocrite, I’d ask myself. This man has no idea what he is talking about! (There’s a small possibility that I was a little bitter…evidenced by the fact that I use the phrase “yammered on”)

This past Sunday was different, however. Actually, the topic was divorce, not so much marriage, but it’s pretty hard to talk about God’s view of divorce without mentioning the marriage part. But as The Pastor spoke, I found myself pondering years past and the times I thought it might just be easier to walk out the door and never look back. I felt a strange blend of humility and thankfulness for the ways God has grown our marriage. I thought about how grateful I was to hear The Pastor preaching on this topic and not have any negative feelings, only those of love and respect toward him.

I was especially glad to hear him talking about the importance of giving grace to each other because halfway through the sermon I remembered that I left my kayak gear in his truck and I promised him I would take it out 4 days ago. Oops. Good thing we have grace in our marriage.

Another topic of the sermon was “two becoming one flesh”. Of course this has obvious meaning for the physical part of a marriage, but The Pastor was speaking of it on a different level. It touched me to hear him talking about two people really becoming a part of each other and melding into one. I figure if we’ve been married almost 19 years, we should be making good strides in the “oneness” area. Maybe that means we begin more and more to like the same things, to have the same hobbies, to enjoy the same pastimes. That sounds good to me as long as we’re talking about him coming shopping with me, but definitely not me going deer hunting with him. On second thought… maybe a little “separateness” is healthy. This one of us is going to the sale at Kohl’s.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

From Stressed to Blessed

As is often the case, I was a little stressed about having guests that I've never met stay with us for almost a week. These particular guests were supposed to stay with another family from our church, and I have to admit, I was pretty happy with that arrangement. The Pastor was still (and is still) healing from his bypass surgery. Life had been stressful and emotionally draining and as excited as I was that they were coming to speak at our church, I was equally excited that I didn’t have to bear the burden of housing them.

The guests were two young men from Uganda, Mugwanya Francis and his travelling companion, Martin. Francis was the victim of a severe case of polio when he was three years old. It left him crippled for life and in a wheelchair. That coupled with our long flight of stairs down to the guest bedroom, is another reason I figured it would be best if they stayed with someone else.

However, because of a family emergency, at the last minute, plans changed. Francis and Martin now needed to stay with us. My stress level was on the roof! I had too much to deal with, too much to think about, and too much self-pity to take on one more thing. I gritted my teeth and prepared the guest room.

This was the first trip out of Uganda for both Francis and Martin. The reason they came is that Francis has a ministry called “The Father’s Heart” that distributes wheelchairs and preaches the gospel to the handicapped people of Uganda. He partners with organizations such as “Free Wheelchair Mission” and “Joni and Friends” to acquire and distribute the wheelchairs. Along with the wheelchairs, Francis gives hope to handicapped Ugandans who have been taught to believe that they are worthless. Martin is an evangelist who preaches the gospel and travels with Francis to help with his own wheelchair and his needs as they speak to churches about the ministry.



After spending only a short amount of time with these men, my heart was truly convicted at my bad attitude and selfishness. How quickly I forget how privileged we are in American and how privileged I am here in my own home. Our time with Francis and Martin was truly amazing and humbling.

I don’t know why it always catches me by surprise, but I’m astonished at how quickly, if I let him, God can take me from stressed to blessed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Are You Smarter Than A Japanese I.T. Worker?

At my job, I work with a lot of extremely smart people. Especially around there, I don't consider myself to be anything but average. But in general terms, I know that God has given me a logical mind. I know that I'm able to think, reason, and learn. If I were to speak honestly, I would admit that I'm no dummy. However, I sure felt like one trying to solve this IQ problem my co-worker gave me. If you're brave, click this link, download the test and see how you do. (You need Microsoft Excel to view the file). Good luck!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

No Justification!

I'm learning a bunch of new things in my writing class. They tell me it's the proper way, but I'm not so sure I believe them. I've posted before that because of what I like to call my "Monkish" tendencies, I have this compulsion to keep things orderly. I believe in my heart that paragraphs should be justified on both sides. Nice and neat. Perfectly straight. However, my writing mentor says that I should not justify the right side of my paragraphs. I'm not sure I believe it's true, but in the name of education, you'll notice that my paragraphs are no longer fully justified. I'll hold to the teaching as long as I can stand it. It's a jungle out there...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Age is a Relative Matter

Getting old stinks. Those of you who are younger than me are probably thinking, "Yeah, I bet it does, old lady." Those of you around my age are probably thinking, "Girl, you got that right." and those of you older than me are probably thinking, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

In the long hours that I waited around the hospital while the pastor had open heart surgery, I have to admit, I felt pretty young. There weren't very many other 37 year old wives sitting around the cardiac waiting room (actually none). I felt proud of myself each time I climbed the 60 stairs to the 3rd floor where his room was, rather than ride the elevator with everyone else. (When you hang around ICU with a loved one who has just had heart surgery, you have this sudden and overwhelming urge to do healthy things like "take the stairs".)

Since we've returned home, the chores have fallen mostly to me (and any help I can scrounge up). One thing we're very excited about around our house is the arrival of what passes for a lawn. It's not perfect; It has some weeds mixed in, but hey, it's green and we mow it and we're thrilled after 2 years of mud and dirt in the yard. However, this new, exciting lawn is large and needs to be mowed often, so I've found myself pushing a mower quite a bit (which I really haven't done much of since my little brother got old enough to run the lawn mower for my Dad and I was relieved of my mowing duties in about 1985).

In the midst of all this stair climbing, lawn mowing, and filling in for my husband as my son's wrestling partner while Daddy is healing, I've noticed something strange. My left hip hurts. Those words sting, even as I write them. "My HIP hurts". That's something I didn't figure would be coming out of my mouth for another 20 years, at least! This can't be happening. I'm young. There's no way my hip can hurt. I can have sore muscles, I can be tired, I'm even okay with an achy lower back...but my hip....no way!

I guess I'll have to take some Tylenol Arthritis along with my cholesterol medicine from now on. I might as well add Geritol to the growing list of pills I take. Getting old stinks.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Blogging from the "Heart"

I suppose it's about time I got back to my blog. Many of you know the reason I've been away for a few weeks...quadruple bypass, open heart surgery. Not my heart, but my husband's. They prepared us that he would be in the hospital for 5-7 days. I knew I would have hours on end of boredom, so I figured I'd get in some good blogging time. I didn't expect what actually happened (isn't that an understatement that's true of our lives?). The surgery was very successful and I patiently (well, sort of patiently) sat and waited during the days of recovery in ICU and CCU. I had a thick book and my laptop with me for those long hours of sitting. I figured I would read and write the hours away. Wrong. I tried to read and couldn't concentrate for more than a page or two. I tried to write and couldn't put a coherent sentence together. It was a strange feeling and one I can't explain. I couldn't do anything. I just sat there.

It's 13 days past surgery and the pastor is doing well. He's bored beyond belief, but each day he makes progress and we're praising God for his protection and provision. You can tell, I haven't completely got my blogging game back, but life is slowly returning to normal (whatever that is) and maybe someday soon, I'll have something worthwhile to say. For now, thanks from the bottom of our "hearts" to all our family and friends who have been praying us through.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Day-O-Fun

Yesterday, we had one of those not-very-popular trips to the urgent care center. It started in the morning. We decided to have a family outing day and had settled on miniature golf, some shoe shopping (surprisingly, not for me), and dinner out. Before we headed south for our day of fun, my husband needed to head north and run a few errands. I’d been lounging around all morning and still needed to shower and get ready. He took our son with him, I jumped in the shower and in an hour we’d be ready for the day-o-fun.

When the boys returned from town, I heard commotion as they came through the front door. I thought maybe my son had been in trouble in the car or something because he was crying. Turns out that immediately after he left the house with Dad, he began to have some sort of stomach cramps. Apparently he wailed all the way to town and back. He was pretty pathetic. I found him lying on his bed crying, “I don’t want to go golfing today.” Hmmm, I knew this must be some serious pain.

We cancelled all plans and hung around the house while every 15 minutes, my son cried out in pain. It was a sad sight to watch, but we had the feeling that he just had some gas and eventually it would pass (pardon the pun.)

However, as the hours wore on, we began to get a little worried. I knew that in addition to stomach pain, the symptoms of appendicitis also include fever and nausea. He didn’t have any of that but I decided to call the doctor and make sure we shouldn’t bring him in to be checked. It had been about 3 or 4 hours and the wailing continued. The nurse said unless he had more symptoms or the pains were worse, that we should just watch him and wait.

Another hour or two of carrying on and things were getting bad. The crying spells were coming every 30 seconds, rather than every 5-15 minutes. He began to moan, “Mommy, please, someone make it stop!” It was getting late in the afternoon by now and we were really starting to worry, so we packed him in the car and headed for Urgent Care. All the way to town, the screaming continued. In the waiting room, the screaming continued. Then, they led us into the examining room. My son’s stomach was hurting so badly, he could barely climb onto the exam table. The nurse talked to us and left. My son was quiet.

Then he started to crack jokes. No screaming. Then he was singing. No screaming. Then he was jumping around the room. No screaming! I could not believe my eyes. This kid had been in writhing pain all day and now a miraculous recovery. Suddenly, an odor wafted through the room. My earlier prediction had come true. One hour and a $20 co-pay later, we were heading back home. Thankful that nothing serious was wrong with him. So much for the day-o-fun.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Anxiety Cure

You may or may not know that recently I've had some random problems with anxiety. I've posted a little about it now and then. Well, the other day I happened upon an article in my "Today's Christian Woman" magazine about overcoming worry. The author said that whenever she tenses up and feels nauseated, she medicates and breathes deeply. I cracked up laughing, mostly because, in a way, I could relate. At one point, my doctor had given me some anti-anxiety medicine so it was a familiar mental scene.

As I continued reading, however, the rest of the paragraph didn't make sense to me. I mean, it made sense, it just didn't "go" with the opening sentence. It was talking about worshipping God and reciting his blessings to yourself and to him. Of course, I totally get that, but asked myself what it had to do with anti-anxiety drugs. Then I went back and re-read the first part...

"Whenever I tense up and feel nauseated, I meditate and breathe deeply."

Oops.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Sanity: Going Once, Going Twice…Gone!

I’m not really a girl who likes yard sales. I’m not sure why, but there’s something that makes me feel funny about looking through the leftovers of someone’s life while they sit off to the side and watch me. At the same time, I’m not crazy about airing my wares for others to paw through, either. Admittedly, I’ve picked up a few treasures at yard sales, but I’m never really that proud of it. I’d just as soon run down to Wal-mart and buy a new, clean one of whatever it is I’m looking for.

All that being said, in a moment of weakness, this weekend I agreed to go with my husband to a farm auction. I guess it wasn’t really so much a moment of weakness, as it was me not understanding exactly what a farm auction is. In case you’re not familiar, let me enlighten you. A farm auction is like a yard sale on steroids, with a few exceptions. Exception number one, you can’t actually buy anything until the item you want comes up for bid. Therefore, you must stay at the auction all day in order to get your two dollar pair of hedge clippers. Exception number two, it really is an auction, therefore, there’s no guarantee that after waiting all day to purchase said hedge clippers, that you will actually be able to buy them. Finally, exception number three, a farm auction is full of rusty, old, tools, car parts, ropes, gears, tractors, and other such gadgets. Rarely have I seen such a vast amount of stuff that I had absolutely no use for.

This particular auction was at a beautiful country farm. There were several out outbuildings; little sheds and barns and such. The auctioneer moved from place to place around the farm; in and out of the barns and lean-tos, and a crowd of people followed. We’ve been having unseasonably cold weather and the day was about 50 degrees, at most, and there was a steady pouring rain. Not helping.

About two or three hours into this thing, as we entered one of the barns, I saw something that caught my eye. A very new looking, Maytag double oven. Mom and I had just been having a conversation about how cool it would be to have a double oven for hosting parties and large holiday meals. Of course, I have no place to put one, but I eyed the oven anyway. It was the only thing that remotely interested me in that barn. I stood in amazement as bales of old wire sold for 25 bucks, mismatched window panes were argued about, and highest bidder got their choice of pitch forks. Then the auctioneer turned to the double oven. All right, I thought, now we’ll see some real action. I suppose those who attend farm auctions are more interested in tools and wire and tractors…the double oven went for five bucks. I was dumbfounded that these people would pay $40 for a box of rusty screws, but barely give one bid on a cool double oven. At that moment I knew if I didn’t get out of there quickly, my sanity, like the other people’s there, would be going…going…gone.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Turning Point

This post is a bit longer than usual for me, but just so you don't think I've been slacking off...here is a devotion that I'm working on for my Christian Writers Guild class.


The impatience of our society astounds me. And, by “our society” I basically mean me. Nobody drives fast enough, or at least not smart enough for me. My fast food isn’t fast enough and my on-demand Internet doesn’t keep up with my demands. My instant pudding doesn’t set up quickly enough and sometimes I think my friends have dropped offline because they don’t reply instantly to my instant messages.

As impatience takes over, I find myself drawn into the myth that my problems can and should be solved quickly. I expect to have a revelation from God and instantly make every needed change in my life. I want an immediate turning point.

The turning point is a concept I love. I see it happen in movies. I read it in novels. I watch the illusion of it happen on Dr. Phil and Oprah as guests leave the stage with their relationships mended or their will power bolstered. The lights come on and immediately the necessary changes are made. And so for myself, I expect the same.

I delight in the idea of realizing a change that needs to be made in my life and then actually having the spiritual maturity to immediately implement my new found wisdom. I love it when the lights come on to my own blindness, the truth is revealed, and I’m quickly able to act on it. Sadly though, that’s not usually the case.

Instead, I wrestle with God about why the process of change is so slow. Why, even though I recognize the change to be made, I feel powerless to act on it. I want a closer marriage relationship, to be a better mom, to eat less carbs and exercise more. I often know what I need to do to obtain these goals, but the changes come slowly. I identify with the apostle Paul where he says in Romans chapter 7, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” I chase after my turning point and feel I catch glimpses of it, but can’t quite reach it. It’s elusive, intangible, and anything but instant.

In Mark, chapter 8, Mark tells the story of Jesus healing the blind man at Bethsaida. “When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’
He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’”

Although, he certainly could have, Jesus didn’t completely heal the first time. We’re not sure why, but he chose to do this miracle in stages, rather than instantaneously. However, in the end, he did finish his work. The next verse tells us, “Once more, Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly.”

Whether we are talking about learning, healing, or our spiritual maturity, we need to understand that God is going through a deliberate process with us. He wants us to be mature and complete, not comfortable and mediocre (James 1:3-4). His interest is not in taking us down the shortest path, but in our ultimate good. God leads and we must choose to follow, even when the way seems murky and we can’t see our own feet on the path we are walking. No shortcuts allowed.

The Bible speaks over and over of God’s ongoing work in our lives; how he is making us into a perfect image of him. We are a work in progress. When I’m aware of this work and that it’s a process that takes time; when I realize that my life will be a slow progression of maturity and when I remember that “he who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion”…that’s my real turning point.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Time Flies

I'm absolutely sure that I just made my last blog post a day or two ago, but as I look at the calendar, I see that I'm extremely wrong. (somehow that happens to me a lot). I've been a bit shell shocked by life in the past week, so I'm trying to decide what would be best to blog about next.

I think I'll go with the fact that my son got his hair buzzed off last night and I barely recognized him when I went to get him out of bed this morning. He was thrilled that he didn't have to comb his hair before school. (It's pretty hard to comb what isn't there.). He and I were discussing this last night before he went to bed. I was making a big deal about him having more time in the morning, because he's always running late. I said now that his hair was basically non-existent, he could skip combing it...he said, "Oh! Can I skip brushing my teeth too?"

If you're not from around these parts, this last fact won't mean much to you. However, if you are from around here, this is breaking news. There's one consoling thing about about letting my son buzz his hair. The haircut was part of a trade and there's a logger from our church with the initials BJ who's minus one mustache he's had for 20 years. My only regret is that I don't have the picture to post!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Benefits Package

If you’ve ever job hunted before, you know that one of the important things you might look at when considering a position is the benefits package. Where I work, we have great benefits…medical, dental, vision, short-term disability, accidental death, etc… But as great as my benefits package at work is, it doesn’t compare to my other benefits package.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his Holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Who forgives all your sins;
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit;
And crowns you with love and compassion.
Who satisfies your desires with good things,
So that your youth is renewed.”

Psalm 103:1-5

Friday, May 16, 2008

Can't Decide

I'm so confused. My mind and emotions just cannot seem to get their acts together. I can't decide if I'm happy or depressed. Yesterday, May 15, the very last of our snow melted away. After one day of spring, it suddenly became summer. Today was blazing hot...it was awesome!! That's the happy part. Here's the depressing part, especially in light of the fact that the snow JUST left...in 37 days, the days start getting shorter again! ARGHHH!! Lord have mercy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lessons Learned

When I think about Mother’s Day, I obviously think about my own mom. About the things she taught me and the special friendship we now share. I remember her letting me skip school so we could go shopping, making me pick strawberries in the U-Pick fields each June, teaching me how to iron a shirt or clean a bathroom until it was “just right”. I learned a lot of things from my Mom, but when I stop and think about it…I’m not sure if I ever considered the fact that she could have learned something from me.

I don’t say this because I think that Mom did or could or should learn anything from me. The thought honestly never crossed my mind. I always consider myself to be the “student” in our relationship. Rather, I say it because the idea struck me recently when I started to make a mental list of all the things I am learning from my son.

I heard Dr. David Jeremiah speaking on his radio show, Turning Point, earlier this week. He was talking about how it was most often the case that when people in the bible were unable to have children early in their marriages, that when they finally did have a child, that child was used in a special way by God. My husband and I looked knowingly at each other. We waited 11 years for our family to arrive and I know without a shadow of a doubt that God, in his perfect plan, will use my son in a mighty way.

Last week a few things happened that got my attention about the character and depth of my son. Please don’t get me wrong… He’s six and he drives me nuts most of the time. He’s normal. He constantly spills his drinks, leaves toys everywhere, and loves to watch Spongebob. He argues, whines, and complains, and I have no visions of grandeur that he’s perfect. I am convinced, however, that he is special.

I watched him in church last week as we sang. He closed his eyes, lifted his head to the sky and sang his little heart out for the Lord. Unlike his mom, oblivious to what was going on around him, he focused solely on God and worship. During prayer time, he prayed out loud for our missionaries (his friends) who are ministering in Swaziland. Monday morning I took him to school. As he was saying good bye to me and climbing out of the car, a little girl was also getting out of her mom’s car. Although happy enough, her hair was unkempt; her face and clothes dirty. My son’s face lit up. “Hi, Mary!” he called and jumped out of the car to skip into the school with her. No pretense. No judgment. I was immediately convicted.

My husband, the pastor, frequently visits shut-ins in the afternoon and often takes my son with him. I don’t think the recipients of the visits care at all if my husband shows up. They wait to see my son. Instead of being disinterested and bored, as most his age would be, he sits on the bed beside them and sings them songs. He holds their bony, aged hands and talks to them like they’ve been old friends for years. He tells them bible verses and prays for them. He ministers more effectively than most of the rest of us could do.

Yes, I believe he is special. I suppose there’s a minute possibility that my mom learned something from me while I was growing up, but knowing myself, I’m sure it was nothing like the lessons and gifts I get from my son. Worship, acceptance, servant hood; who could want anything more for Mother’s Day.

Friday, May 02, 2008

On Second Thought...

After some additional thought, I removed my son's engagement picture. Sorry if you missed it. I'll get back to the real posts next week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Twilight Zone

I'm not sure what's happening to me. I'm confused. I can't get my bearings. I feel like I've entered a strange new dimension of time and space....perhaps (dun, dun, duh) The Twilight Zone.

Last night, I found my son clearing the table and putting food away while my husband and I lazily watched the evening news. This morning, I went in his room to wake him up (son, not husband) and the light was on. I peeked my head in, but didn't see him in his bed or in the middle of the room. As I stepped in and closed the door to see what was really going on, he stepped out from behind his open closet door....fully dressed!

Only if you had witnessed the morning battles in my house over the simple act of getting clothes on, would you understand the magnitude of this event.

What could have possibly gotten in to him? Where was this coming from? Was he sick? Delusional? Possibly a high fever would cause this kind of behavior. Then all at once, I understood as he looked up at me, smiled his toothless six year old grin and said...

"Now can I have five bucks?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Best Days

This is a day I've been waiting for all my life. No, not my wedding...that's obviously well past. No, not the day my kids were born. Not my dream job offer, nor a big promotion at my current one. Not the day after Christmas sale or the first day of spring warm enough to put my kayak in the lake. This is different.

Tonight I came home from work tired (what's new). My husband was sweet enough to have made dinner and it was on the table waiting for me. As we finished dinner, my husband was done first and left the table to flip on Fox news and see how the Pennsylvania primary was going. I finished second and was so wiped out that I meandered into the living room and flopped down on the couch leaving my son and a mess on the table. My son finished last (again, what's new). But then it happened.

As I was lying on the couch, I could hear dishes clinking. I heard the fridge open and close several times. Ah, that's extra sweet, I thought to myself, my husband cooked AND he's cleaning up the kitchen. But I looked over and he was still sitting in his easy chair watching TV. I listened again. More clinking, more fridge opening.

I sat up and looked back over the arm of the couch (we have a great-room). There was my son...clearing the table, stacking dishes and putting food in the fridge. By the time he was done, he had cleared the whole table and done his best to wipe it off. I have never been filled with such motherly pride. (OK, well, maybe once or twice before). Now we're talkin'. This is the exact reason I had kids. (OK, exact might be a bit of a strong word, but you get my drift) Now if I can just teach him to completely work the washer and dryer...

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Double Standard

When you go on vacation, you often have time for reflection. For me, this is not always a good thing. I end up realizing things about myself that aren't pretty. For example...

Occasionally, various members of my family come for a visit. If it's a long visit, or we have a house full of guests, I find myself getting annoyed that they don't tidy up after themselves more. In reality it's probably just that we are cramming more people in to the same living space that I'm used to being in with only three people. But either way, as I push aside candy wrappers, newspapers, and dirty dishes, I find myself mumbling under my breath and wishing someone would have left enough space on the kitchen counter for me set my cereal bowl down and eat.


Here's the strange thing that I realized during my time of vacation introspection; When I am the guest (at least this holds true at my parents house) I am the slob. It must have something to do with knowing it's temporary or that I can be irresponsible with little consequence, but I'm appalled at the person I become. Sleeping in until 9:00am, unmade bed, clothes everywhere, belongings scattered throughout the house...I have no idea what gets into me.

I've come to realize there's no remedy for this situation so I just close the bedroom door and hope my Mom doesn't see the mess and tell me to clean my room. In the meantime, Mom is in the kitchen scowling because she doesn't have anyplace to set down her cereal bowl.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do Blonde's Have More Fun?

A few nights ago, my son and I sat together in our kitchen reaping the benefits of having a great-room and a fairly large TV. We were eating dinner and watching Fox News. Presidential candidates were yammering on about themselves and I was only half paying attention.

"Mom" my son says, "Hillary is sort of pretty."

"Yes, I suppose she is."

He turns from the TV and begins to stare intently at my head. I'm watching his eyes and for what seems like a full minute, he doesn't take them off my hair. I've been growing it out a bit on the sides and sometimes at night I tuck it behind my ears. He stared so long that, although it's really not, I was expecting him to make a comment about my hair being similar to Hillary's. Instead, he surprised me with...

"You would be prettier if you were blonde."

Thanks, son.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blogging in Style



One of the places we stayed on our recent vacation was the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel. It was beautiful and I've always wanted to stay there. We got in late and it wasn't until the next morning that I actually realized that the hotel is most often touted as a "romantic getaway" kind of place. Then I understood why we got strange looks as we came with our 6 year old. But regardless, it was fantastic.

We stayed on the second floor and getting to our room required a short trip on an old, manually operated elevator. We were not even allowed to ride alone. A bellhop or hotel staff person is required to operate the thing. I guess there must be a trick to it. The bellhop was busy with another couple, so the front desk girl gave us our ride up. However, she moved the manual lever to stop the elevator a bit too soon, so we had to step up about 6 inches to exit. Because of the "cage" like door and lots of rattling noises, the ride up made me a little nervous, but, all in all, was pretty cool.

The rooms at the hotel are small, nicely restored, but, obviously older than if you were staying at the Hampton Inn. (Thus the description of "Historic" of this hotel). But the first thing that caught my eye as I entered our room was not the decor, nor the size of the room... It was the 40 inch LCD TV with a private computer attached to it. (Remember I said I left my laptop home?) My heart leaped! The TV functioned as both the computer screen and a regular television (I'm stating that fact for the non-technical among us who might not understand the coolness of it all) I'm thought I had died and gone to technology heaven.

Now the story turns to tragedy. I sat down at the computer and went to my favorite website, http://www.marriedtothepastor.com/. It was awesome, there was my blog in 40 inches of living color. I could feel my creative juices starting to bubble up. But as he looked at the huge screen from across the room, the pastor realized he had not caught up on my blog in awhile and decided he needed to take a look at what I might have said about him lately. He's a slow reader. By the time he was finished, my son was getting terribly bored. Not a lot for a kid to do in a small hotel room. To appease him, I had to pull up the Spongebob Squarepants website and let him play some kiddie games online. And so the tragedy ends...I never got to actually write a blog post on the dream machine. Next time I think I'll just smuggle my laptop in.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Depression Hurts

Coming home from vacation can be depressing. The fun is done. The laundry is waiting. There's no escaping it...it's back to real life. I'm not sure why, but yesterday as we drove the last leg of our trip to my brother's house, I felt compelled to check the weather back home on my Blackberry. It's an occupational hazard of being a gadget junkie and computer nerd. Anyway, it wasn't a smart idea. While we've been gone enjoying spring along the Oregon coast, our house and yard were covered with a fresh foot of snow, with more predicted for the next couple days. (This is in addition to the two and a half feet that is still on the ground) The report is that it looks more like winter now, than when we left.

In all honesty, I'm not positive I can cope with this. I'm not sure if you remember, but it was back in early December that I posted "Let it Snow". It has pretty much looked like that (and worse) since that time. I'm trying to figure out away out of it, but one way or another, I have to go home tomorrow. To make matters worse and probably just to rub a little salt in my wounds, my brother mowed his lawn this morning. (I'm possibly starting to regret some of the torture I imposed on him when we were kids....nah, it was still worth it).

Monday, March 31, 2008

Vacation Blogging

Hi, All! It's that time again...family vacation! In the name of completely leaving life behind while I took a break, I did the unthinkable and left my laptop home while we travel. It seems I always pack it everywhere and use it very little. I figured I should be a good girl and just not lug it around and worry about it. Of course, this is the vacation that my son is sick in the hotel room with a fever, so I'm sitting around with nothing to do but be at the mercy of my husband, who has complete control of the TV remote. So, in light of all that, I thought I'd sneak away to the hotel computer and do a little blogging. Now that I'm here, however, I find that the hotel computer is at a stand up terminal near the elevators. Not really conducive to clear thinking and writing. So for now, I'll say that vacation is going well (besides the sick kid) and when I return next week, I'll have plenty of stories to tell, hopefully with pictures to back it all up. Happy Spring Break!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Who's the Writer Anyway?

I love to write. I think it's fun, I think it's satisfying. I'm enrolled in a writing course and I can't wait to turn assignments in and work on something new. If I'm given free time, doing some writing always tops my list of things I'd like to do. I would rather send an email to someone than call them on the phone any day.

My husband (the Pastor) hates to write. He's a speaker by nature, not a writer. God has called and gifted him to preach, and each week he lives up to that calling. He's a great preacher. He loves to talk to people, teach a class, explain something...but don't ask him to write. He hates it. He can't understand why anyone would willingly subject themselves to something so horrible as a writing class. If and when the time comes when he's required to write something, he will procrastinate to the bitter end. Despite all that, a couple times a year, my husband is asked to write a short article for "The Pastor's Corner", a feature on the weekly "Faith & Values" page of our local newspaper.

As I learn to write, I'm learning to self edit and rewrite...and rewrite...and rewrite. My writing is really not that great. Just because you love something, doesn't make you a master at it. So, I write and practice...and practice....and practice.

My husband's article had been due first thing Thursday morning. Of course, he waited until late Wednesday night to write it. (Now, if he's reading this, he will be highly offended. So I have to add that I'm sure he was mulling it over in his head for awhile before Wednesday. But, the reality is, he didn't actually sit down to write it until late that night). He locked himself in his office for a short while and came out with the finished product. Usually, he would have had me type it up for him, but I was very sick that day, so he didn't ask. Because of that, I didn't get a sneak peek at his work. You might imagine my surprise as I picked up the paper on Friday and read what he wrote. It was fantastic! Totally not fair. I spent the day listening to everyone I bumped in to say, "Wow, tell your husband his article was great! I loved it!".

"I'm a writer, too." I wanted to tell them back. "Just because he publishes articles and I don't, doesn't mean anything." But I didn't. I swallowed my pride (and that's a big bite) and let him have his moment in the sun. Don't think I haven't given him a bad time about it, though. When my next writing assignment is due, I'm going to make him help me with my homework.

Does God Care?

I've been wondering lately if my mundane concerns matter to God. Does he care about the small things that bother me or is he looking at me with sorrow, wishing I would set those concerns aside and focus on him instead? I know the standard Christian answer is yes, God cares about all my problems. I Peter 5:7 tells me "Cast your cares on him for he cares for you.", but I often can't shake the feeling that he is somehow disappointed because I even have these cares in the first place.

Wouldn't he be happier with me if I didn't obsess about the extra 5 pounds I've gained. If he would speak audibly to me, wouldn't he gently rebuke me for focusing on my worries and my to-do list, rather than my relationship with him? Does he think my cares are silly? Maybe. But, recently, I started looking at this a little differently.

As a parent, I see my son care about some very silly things. rocks, sticks, straws, scraps of paper. They are definitely insignificant. However, to him they are essential. They are the world he lives in, and no matter how much I try to tell him that caring about a rock is silly, he still cares about it. He just does. And because he does, when I talk to him about his rocks, I treat them as one of the most important subjects we could discuss. I let the rocks be significant to me, because they are to him. I think maybe the same holds true with God. He knows our cares are silly, sometimes we don't. He sees the bigger picture. We don't. But, as a loving parent, he cares about our "rocks". He doesn't condemn us. He recognizes our issues for what they are and encourages us to cast them on him, all the while telling us that our concerns are important to him. He is aware of them and cares about them because he cares about us.

So the answer to the question I’ve been asking myself seems to be yes in both theory and reality. God knows each and every one of my cares. He knows some are silly, but still, he is deeply concerned about them because he loves me. My silliness and his love are not mutually exclusive. Praise his name for that!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Huey’s Greatest Hits

The other day I heard that Huey Lewis has just released a new version of his song “Workin’ for a Living’” as a duet with Garth Brooks. I’m a huge Huey fan. In fact, not long ago, I bought a greatest hits CD which has become one of my new favorites. Snappy songs like “Happy To Be Stuck With You” bring back memories of zipping around town in my yellow Honda Civic with the windows down and the stereo blasting. Life was carefree and good.

Life hasn’t been terribly carefree for me this week and being “Stuck With You” took on a whole new meaning this morning (Although, it was more like “Stuck On You”). I suppose I better back up a few days. Last weekend, I ran down to Kohl’s for a big sale they were having. I bought a couple of shirts (for work, of course), brought them home, and clipped the tags. I left the tags, along with those little baggies with the extra buttons in them, on the edge of the bathroom sink.

I usually try to tidy up the bathroom each day, but as I said, it was an especially bad week. I had a server crash at work and put in some long, stressful days while trying to recover everything. Needless to say, cleaning up the bathroom wasn’t my highest priority. So, the tags and baggies were left to sit. This morning, while blow drying my hair, the air from the dryer unknowingly blew one of the button baggies right onto my extra hot flat iron. The baggie stuck and melted on to the flat iron. (Have you ever accidentally got the bread bad too close to your toaster or stove? You get the idea.) In addition to a gooey, sticky, mess, I had a really bad hair day.

I guess it’s not completely fair, but I’m going to blame the whole incident on the fact that I was “Workin’ for a Living.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Been a Long Winter...

I like to tell myself I’m not that old. Sometimes I console myself with the fact that I own an iPod and digital music is my format of choice, but there’s a secret place in my heart where I remember the days of record albums and 8-track tapes. Thankfully, they weren’t mine (although I have a vague recollection of owning an “Air Supply” 8-track, but I’m trying to suppress that memory). At any rate, the collection belonged to my parents and along with some Neil Diamond and Jim Croche, my earliest music memories are of, you guessed it, Barry Manilow. My Mom had every Barry Manilow record ever made. “I Write the Songs” and “Copacabana” were standard fare at our house. Yes, my Mom is a Fanilow.

Last night I was driving home from work (with my seat heaters on and my sunroof open, of course). The sun was shining and I actually saw robins flitting around. When I got home, I cooked dinner as the light from outside spilled into the dining room and kitchen. After dinner, I watched my husband do the dishes (take notes, ladies) and still the sky was light.

I figure that just about now you’re asking yourself what in the world Barry Manilow and long sunny days could have to do with each other. Yesterday, as I observed the sunshine, I caught myself doing what I do each and every year when Daylight Savings time starts… I spontaneously broke into a rendition of “I Made it Through the Rain.”

If you’re not familiar with it, maybe you can borrow the 8-track from my Mom.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bliss

It might be hard for you to believe this statement, but every now and then, I drive my husband a little crazy. I don’t do it on purpose. Somehow, he and I just don’t see eye to eye on some things. He has no understanding of the importance of owning the same pair of shoes in both black and brown. He can’t figure out why I eat sugar free ice cream then dowse it in chocolate syrup and peanut butter. He doesn’t see the need for rearranging all the furniture in the living room, just because I’ve bought new throw pillows for the couch. I do many things that he simply cannot fathom. (Come to think of it, I’m not sure I understand some of it)

I think, though, that the coup de grace, the grand-daddy of all my offenses is when I drive with the air conditioner on “high” and the windows rolled down. On a beautiful, summer day, that’s my favorite way to ride. It makes perfect sense to me. I get all the benefit of the fresh air, yet keep myself perfectly cooled. I love it. It’s bliss.

With the coming of spring and a new Jeep to be cruising in, however, I’ve discovered a new bliss. When I break this one to my husband, he’s going to come uncorked. I suppose I could just try to cover my tracks, but I know I’ll be forced to share my secret, as he regularly reads this blog and so it cannot be both kept and blogged. It’s probably better I break it to him myself anyway, because sooner or later, my son is going to spill the beans.

My new bliss… Heater blasting, seat warmers on high, sunroof wide open. That’s springtime driving at its finest!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Molenator

It’s funny how parents and children can have completely opposite views of the same events. My son has his first loose tooth. He couldn’t be happier. He’s looking forward to a visit from the tooth fairy and being able to chew his chicken nuggets normally again. I, however, am not that thrilled.

As I have observed my baby becoming a toddler, my toddler a little boy, and my little boy a bigger one, I’m tempted to view each step, not as a normal childhood development, but instead small pieces of him that are being slowly taken away from me. I suppose it's a little of both.

I'm happy to see him growing and maturing, but the thoughts of seeing him with those jagged, too-big-for-his-mouth teeth that are characteristic of so many 6 year olds, makes me cringe. Not only do I have to endure this "growing up" process, but to rub salt in my wounds, I have to cough up the money to pay for it!

(Kudos to you if you get the reference to "The Molenator" in the title of this post!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Joy in the Night

It's happening again. I'm not sure why. The feelings showed up about a week and a half ago and whatever they are, I'm not really all that fond of them. I've always been a girl who's good at sleep. The world can be crashing down around me, my stress level can be through the roof, problems to be solved, decisions to be made...it doesn't matter, I can always set it all aside until morning. Bedtime is my escape from the world. I realize the problems have not gone away, but they will certainly wait until morning, so why should I lose any precious sleep over it.

But lately, it's different. I'm not sure if it's physiological (body) or psychological (mind), but I wake up. I feel strange. My heart beats fast, my arms feel flushed. It's truly weird. I'm starting to wonder if it's not some manifestation of anxiety or stress and it's very strange to admit that on my blog, but doing so is the whole point of this blog...to make an honest effort at admitting struggles and successes and sharing the work of God in my life. (at least I think that's my point; I'm not accustomed to blogging at 1:25 in the morning, and at this hour it's hard to tell if I'm even putting complete sentences together. I really hope this doesn't become my habit)

Lest you read this and feel inclined to lecture me on the importance of consulting with my doctor about all of this, let me assure you that I'm already well down that road. We are working hard together to get this strangeness figured out.


But I'm fascinated with this concept of anxiety for a couple of reasons. I don't particularly feel anxious and in my limited understanding, I cannot figure out why I would wake up out of a deep sleep because of anxiety. Sleep is what alleviates my anxiety. It all seems backwards to me. But as I read Psalms the other day, I came across an encouraging verse.

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." Psalm 94:19.

Isn't it good to know that even in the middle of our uncertainties, God will console us and give joy? So, even if I end up blogging in the middle of the night, I can do it with God's consolation and, ultimately, his Joy.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Second Chance

“Didn’t I tell you once not to do that?” That’s one of the things I often ask my son. If I’ve told him something once, I do not want to have to tell him again. Yet, I’m so glad that’s not how my Heavenly Father deals with me. I can come to him over and over with the same questions, the same problems, the same sins and he is always willing to listen and forgive. He is the perfect patient Father, the everlasting encourager, and he will forever be the God of the Second Chance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Good Boot News

This just in...I gave the boots a second try. It's almost 1:30pm and they are still on. There's hope for me yet!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Personality

I’ve heard you can determine a woman’s personality by the contents and arrangement of her purse. I used to agree with that theory, but now I’m not so sure. Being an organized, want-to-be perfectionist, I’ve always been one of those girls who felt the need to keep my purse in order. I certainly didn’t want to schlep around a huge bag, so my motto was keep it small and keep it organized; a place for everything and everything in its place. Recently, however, I feel my once tightly held views slipping away.

I didn’t intend to buy a big purse, but somehow it happened. It’s sort of like picking out your Christmas tree or a big screen TV…it looked smaller at the store. After I got it home, I realized it was quite huge, and it didn’t help when one of my husband’s friends, who is an avid hunter, told me that it looked like I could pack half an elk in it.

Nonetheless, I faithfully started carrying the purse. What transpired over the following days was amazing! Rather than carefully file away each item, receipt, and dollar, I began to stuff everything into the one large cavity of my new bag. The resulting feeling was euphoric! No more organizing. No more orderly compartments! No more conserving space. I pay, I stuff, I go. Who knew life could be this easy? Well, actually, my Mom probably knew, because she’s operated this way for a number of years (sorry, Mom). So I guess I must come by it naturally, or maybe this is the beginning of my mid-life, purse crisis. Whatever the reason, my purse-onality is definitely changing!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

These Boots are Made for Walkin'...NOT!




It's Jen's fault. I was working late like a good girl. She's the one who called me and said she was on the way to JC Penneys to buy shoes. My office is not far from Penneys. What am I gunna do...stay and work while my friend shoe shops alone? No way. Not me. I couldn't do that to her, so I hopped in my car and found her standing by a clearance table of boots.

There were tall boots, short boots, black boots, brown boots. It was a boot lover's paradise. Here's the thing...I didn't really need a pair of boots. Of course, you know I bought some. How do you pass up $70 boots for $10? Who cares that they were not my exact size...close enough. It wouldn't matter if I were an eskimo and it was ice on that clearance table. I would have definitely bought it! It was too good of a deal to pass up.

So I left with a cool pair of high-heeled, black boots. They seemed a little "high" for me, but I look so wonderfully tall in them, I pushed any doubting thoughts to the back of my mind. Surely the height advantage is worth the trade off of comfort.

I decided to wear the boots to work today. I had an important meeting and thought looking tall would be a good idea. As an afterthought, I tossed my loafers into my bag. Good thing. I arrived at work at 7:45am. The boots came off at 8:15. I was much shorter for the rest of the day, but a whole lot more comfortable.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Thoughts of Halee

February 2nd. It's a tough day for our family. 6 Years ago today, we went to the hospital to visit our 1 month old daughter, Halee. She had not left the hospital since she was born and on this day was having her third heart surgery of her short life. We went to the hospital with hopes of brining our daughter home soon, but we left there with the numbing reality that she would never come home with us. Instead, in the middle of her surgery, she went to a much better home than we could have ever provided for her.

Our pain eases with the passing of each year, but there are still those moments of sorrow that catch me by surprise; little things that sear my heart when I least expect them. In a strange sort of way, I've grown to welcome those moments, as they remind me of the love I have for Halee, even though I didn't have her long.

More than anything, I have the joyous hope that one day I will see her again. I have a post-it note stucking out the side of my bible. It's been there since shortly after Halee died. The edge of the neon green note is faded and frayed. It's starting to tear, but I won't remove it. It marks a small portion of a verse where King David is speaking of his infant son that has died. His words are my words, and they give me hope of a day to come...

2 Samuel 12:23b "I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

I know that Halee will not return to me, but one day, I will go to her. What a day that will be!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em


There's nothing to do but shovel and try to have some fun in the process...

The Weather Outside is Frightful

With 26 inches of new snow in the past 2 days, I’m running very low on witty things to write. I’m completely losing my sense of humor. With my husband on crutches right now, I get the pleasure of snow shoveling duty. The path between our house and garage is about 2 feet wide and the walls of snow are t 6 feet tall on either side (this picture was taken early in the day, before all the damage had been done). The positive side is that I’ve been able to skip my trips to local gym. Ha…ok, there’s some of my sense of humor peeking its head out… I can’t even remember the last time I was at the gym!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Runaway Bride / Runaway Jeep

I have a few movies that I can watch over and over and over again. I never get tired of them. I never get bored with them. I can quote them verbatim and describe any scene with my eyes closed. One of those movies is Runaway Bride. I laugh at all the corny jokes every time I see it. It drives my husband crazy.


This week, however, things relating to the word "Runaway" have been anything but funny. In a recent post I told you how excited I was over getting a new Jeep. My excitement waned when the accelerator stuck and the Jeep ran away with me, thus contributing to my bad week. Luckily, I got it stopped just before it took me out on the highway in morning traffic.

The next morning the Jeep ran away with my husband, resulting in a trip into the snow bank. The morning after that, the Jeep ran away with the mechanic. Not sure of the whole story on that one, but apparently it was good for him to see. He replaced the throttle cable and now I'm back in business!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

When Satan Attacks

Whew! It's been quite a week around my house. The sad thing is that it's only Tuesday and if this is any indication of what the rest of the week will be like, I think I'd like to opt out. We've had nothing but chaos for the first two days of this week, but it's made me keenly aware of a fact I already knew. I hate Satan. He is the Father of Lies. He is the author of confusion. He prowls around seeking someone to devour and this week, I've felt like it's me!

Usually when I blog, I have some point in mind. I have a clever story to tell or a word of encouragement I hope to pass along, but I have to confess that tonight, I really don't have any of that. I just feel the need to whine and rant a little bit about how rotten life can be.

If you read my last post, you saw that I got a new car. You might be thinking How bad can it be? You must be exaggerating. But, the truth is, I think one of the things Satan enjoys doing most, is to steal our joy. He waits until we're good and happy and then, WHAMO! He kicks you when you're up. He causes doubt and confusion. It's what he loves.

I, for one, am not interested in letting him do this to me. It doesn't change the fact that my week has been crappy. (is that OK to say?) But tonight I will remind myself of the grace of God, of the faithfulness of Christ, of the mercy of Jesus in my life. And even though, I will drop into bed exhausted when I'm finished posting this, I will know that His mercies are new every morning. If you had a day like me...go drop into bed and ponder his love for you until you drift off to sleep. Before you know it, it will be a new day dawning.

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