Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mamer!

My mother married at 17, right out of high school, and promptly became pregnant. It was me! Her age, many of the circumstances in her life, and that daughter were all challenges to which she rose valiantly. I wish I could be with her on her birthday, but she knows how much I love her.

In her relatively short life, she's suffered through divorce, widowhood, abandonment, but also reared two great children☺, started her life over again many times, and is now happily married, retired, and refurbishing her bathroom. Can't wait to see it.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Influences

Any piece of rope or string was an exciting chance for my oldest son Brad to create a "trap" à la the movie Home Alone.


I wish I had taken a picture of one of his many contraptions. This movie also influenced my second son Jeff to repeat some of the less desirable phrases. (Which led to it being put away for a while)

I knew I was greatly influenced by the book Little Women, as have been many girls. But I realized it even more when I attended Little Women the Musical the other night. My friend won tickets and invited me along. It was very enjoyable with a few, but not too many, liberties taken from the original story.




I read the book when I was around 12 or 14, and I wanted to be Jo. I wanted to be a writer, I still do. I wanted to be original and not confined to the mores of the times. Still do. I wanted my family to stay close forever and love me as much as I treasured them. I still want that. I didn't want some things to change, yet longed to be bold and adventurous. That's still me. I have never been as bold as Jo, however.

She was such a great character. A good influence, I think.

If I think about it long enough, I'm sure I can come up some good influences from that movie the boys loved. Building traps, dodging criminals, thinking on your feet, cherishing your family...
Oh yeah, that's a good one.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shhh! Don't Tell, and if You're Rachel Don't Look

Rachel's my only offspring that actually reads this blog, so I'm pretty safe in telling about a cool Christmas gift idea I heard about yesterday.

Take a box (perhaps a computer paper box) and glue a mirrored tile to the inside bottom. Wrap and gift tag it to Jesus. On Christmas morning ponder whose birthday we are celebrating and what gift would be acceptable/appropriate for Jesus. What could we possibly give Him?

One at a time, open the gift and look inside to see You, Me, Us! That's what Jesus wants.

What a great reminder.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh Or How We Get Away with Giving only Three Gifts

Beginning last year, our new tradition is to give each of the "kids" three presents, each corresponding to gifts of the Magi.

For instance, the gift of Gold was highly valued in that poor economic time. This gift probably helped finance this young couple. We try to wrap in gold paper or tie with gold ribbon a present that is highly valued by the giftee. It's the "big" present (or most expensive).

Frankincense was used for incense, a way of meeting with God. Wrapped in silver then, is a gift that helps our children in their meeting with God. A new Bible, devotional, or Christian C.D. fits along these lines.

Myrrh was used to anoint the body and is still used as a fragrance in many items. Lotions, fuzzy socks, pajama pants or anything else used in comfort for their precious bodies are wrapped in deep reds.

We like to talk about the significance of the gifts given to Jesus and how the gifts we give reflect the same. This article explains the idea more fully.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Let The Joy Begin

I went to sleep after a huge crying jag, woke up to puffy eyes and started again this morning. I told my dh that I don't want to be sad. He wanted to know what he could do, but I said I just needed to make the decision. Then I read this post. So simple, but so true. Count your blessings.

I got to spend time with all my children (and new daughter-in-love), my mom and her husband, my only brother and his wonderful wife, two of my nieces and one nephew, and laugh a lot. My mother-in-law was able to return home a couple of days ago (heart surgery). Dan has relented and is allowing Sassy in the house. God has answered some very specific prayer requests. Everyone is healthy! Kiersten invited Rachel and me to do some Christmas baking. Did I mention that my sister-in-law Julie is a treasure?

I still have a lot of growing to do. It's pretty painful, but God is merciful and loving, patient and kind. He gives me a lot of grace and so do a ton of other people. I'm still becoming all the things I wish to be, but it's two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes it feels harder than that. But He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.

Knowing that, how can I be sad?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Crying Binge

Life got really crazy at the end of September. So that's partly my excuse for not blogging for two months. The other reason is I was too busy crying.

It was like a binge. A sudden urge would come over me to cry. I would cry over anything and everything I could get my mind on. I would cry in secret, but the urge became so overpowering, I didn't care who was watching. I had no self control.

The aftermath took its toll. A frightened husband and children. Kleenexes were hoarded. Contacts were probably ruined. Excedrin stock went up, while everything else plummeted.

The purging was a giant list of excuses and reasons. Some were intolerable. Like the two weeks I blamed the watching of the movie "Hitler, the Rise of Evil". None of it made the binging stop.

Then...

Two days of blogging. Two days of Bible reading. Two days of on the knees praying. Two days of watching my daughter find immense joy in the midst of intense suffering.

It may be safe for the Kleenexes to come out of hiding.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Party Meatballs

I've promised this recipe to several people, so I thought someone else might like it, too.

3 lb. ground beef
1 c. milk
2 c. oatmeal

2 eggs
minced onion
1/2 T. garlic

2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt

Mix ground beef mixture well and form into small balls. Put onto a sheetcake pan. Bake at 350° while you make the sauce.

SAUCE


1 1/2 c. ketchup
1 c. water
2 c. brown sugar
1 T. liquid smoke

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Heat in saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain grease off of the meatballs, and pour the sauce over the meatballs. Total baking time will be 45 min. to 1 hour.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Make a Cornucopia that's Good Enough to Eat!

As promised, here are the directions to make the awesome Thanksgiving Cornucopia I make every year. First take a long piece of aluminum foil.


Wrap it around itself into a long cone shape, and stuff with loose balls of aluminum foil to help retain the shape. Twist the end.

Using three cans of refrigerated breadsticks (that come in the the cannisters like biscuits), wrap around the foil form, reserving three. Braid the three remaining and put at the "mouth" of the cornucopia. Brush with a mixture of egg white and water, and bake in oven till browned.

Let it cool, then pull out the aluminum foil.


Stuff and surround with assorted. colorful fruits and vegetables.



Enjoy the oohs and aahs!



Monday, September 22, 2008

Passing On The Torch

Moms, in particular, remind themselves of every failure, mistake and error. We are slow to celebrate the victories, big and small, in our parenting choices. Even when we enjoy a moment of triumph, we're quick to cast some kind of negative slant on the whole thing.

Case in point. My 15 year-old daughter Rachel attended a special class, on Sunday, for teens that want to develop a deeper walk with God. She came home with some homework that included several spiritual disciplines. One was to be spiritually aware.

What a great discipline that I'm also trying to develop. I just plain forget to include God in some of the things I do.

Then, surprise! Rachel told me that she thought I had helped her develop this really well. She remembered how we pray in the car. A lot. How I often point out something God created or did for us, or thinking of how we need to be as Christians.

Wow. It was a grip your heart, thrilling moment.

Then my second thought was, I guess I haven't done a very good job at teaching the other disciplines.

Stop right there. Rewind. Go back to Yea, Mom! I did something right. Praise the Lord. I could have never done it on my own. He has manifested himself through me to my daughter.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me the privilege of raising four wonderful, talented, awesome kids. They all love you! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oklahoma/Texas Border Wedding Part II

The groom's family had a pet deer! It licked Chase. Leaving town for the reception, I made Dan pull over to take a picture of these goats. Someone pulled up behind us, and I commented that they were wondering if we had never seen a goat before....
We have seen goats, just not the kind that freely wander from house to house like cats. No leash law, I guess.
It was so great to see my son Jeff for the entire weekend. We miss him so much. He thrilled my mom by dancing with her. She told me that he really wants tennis shoes that light up. Anyone know where I can get them in a size 11?

Wedding on the Oklahoma/Texas Border Part I

We attended my niece's wedding and had a lot of fun. The groomsmen arrived by stagecoach. Here come the Bride and her attendants.
Mother of the bride, my sister-in-law Julie. Doesn't she look so happy! We both married off our first born this summer.
Officially married on the groom's family's porch, in the shortest ceremony I've ever attended.
It's really flat out there. My husband (being from Nebraska) loved it!
Go to the next post for part II.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seventeen Years Ago Today

The blushing bride! I just couldn't stop smiling all day, I was so happy! I was so excited about having my hair put up and the flowers arranged into it. I was still finding flowers the next day.Brad (6) held the rings and Jeff (3) was supposed to hold my flowers, but he got bored and sat down and made Brad do it all. Any other kids, and I would have been annoyed. But I was so delighted with every thing my OWN children did that day. Funny how that works.
Finally a picture of the Groom. He was so dashing. He sang to me during our wedding. (That's my aunt Suzie). Notice the CHOCOLATE cake? Yum.
I'm still smiling today. What a wonderful marriage (cause I got a great guy). Yea, me!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Predators, Prey, and Natural Selection


Homeschooling can be difficult, challenging, rewarding, but throw some M & M's into your science experiment, and it's melt in your mouth, not in your hand fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

At Least He Didn't Ask Me to go To Ninevah


"I'm okay with being single, but there is a part of me that wants to contribute to someone else's life," or something to that effect I told my mother while I was a single mom.

And on Sunday I will be celebrating seventeen years of being married to the man to whom I eventually decided to offer my contributions.

I really did long to be the cheerleader, companion, helper.

However, too often I begin to think that life is all about me, and he entered this marriage to serve me. He has a servant's heart. He does so much for me with such a loving, cheerful attitude.

In this God-walk, me trying to obey Him and be more the person he's called me to be, I purposed in my heart that the next time my dear husband asked me to do something for him, I would respond joyfully.

I've been doing so-so until the other day. I was overwhelmed, and thinking of all the "important" things that I had to accomplish, when I received the request. I remembered my pledge, waited for the joy....

It didn't come.

So I said yes, but in an if I must voice.

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.

Conviction came quickly. I had been reading about Jonah, his disobedience and second chance. Fortunately, I didn't have to spend three days in the belly of a big fish before I got the opportunity to do something for my wonderful husband. This time I was joyful.

But, obedience is responding with the right attitude. Even when it's not in me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What Can We Learn From a Measly Quarter?

Internet savvy panhandlers, please avert your eyes. My husband will turn around on the highway to buy a meal for someone alongside the road. He used to pick up hitchhikers quite frequently, until I convinced him that he had a responsibility to stay alive for his family. (Right, honey?)

I just want to let you know that he is a giver, and I thought about him today. I was returning a shopping cart at Aldi's for my deposited quarter when a man approached me offering to take my cart. Aldi frequenters know that this is a common practice to "save" us all from the trouble of operating the deposit mechanism. However, when I happily gave the man my cart and asked for my quarter, he responded that he was just trying to be helpful.

I explained that I could return my own cart for the retrieval of my quarter and proceeded. But I was praying and thinking, wondering if he needed a cart, but didn't have a quarter. Or maybe he just needed the quarter. When he came near me to let me know that (again) he was just trying to be helpful, I put the retrieved coin in his hand. He thanked me at least twice. But I returned to the van with an uneasy feeling.
Obviously, he was "working" the shopping carts for quarters. And sure enough as I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw him approaching an elderly couple that was almost done unloading their cart.

I told 10 year old Chase what had happened, and he seemed a little concerned. But thinking out loud, I told him that obviously this man needs some money for something. It might be food, but it might be alcohol or drugs. He needs it so badly, that he's trying to get quarters one at a time from unsuspecting people. I think the unsuspecting is what bothered me. I felt protective of the older couple, afraid that they would be taken advantage of and too polite to ask for their quarter. (Which he had now).
Minimum wage in our state is $6.65 an hour. I had to research that. So to "earn" minimum wage, this man would have to hustle around 26.6 carts per hour. So, Chase and I prayed for the man that needed money that desperately. We also prayed that he would know Jesus, because that is what he needs most of all.

We picked up Rachel and told her the story. This made her really explore some questions she was having, because this morning she had just memorized Luke 6:27-30.
6:27
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
6:28
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
6:29
If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
6:30
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
6:31
Do to others as you would have them do to you. "
We had a great discussion about how to know when to give. How to respond to someone who steals. I didn't have all the answers. I may have been wrong in some of my answers, but we turned to scripture, a good application, and talked it over together.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vote For...Kiersten

I have been so busy the past few days, that I haven't had a chance to write anything or download any photos. But now's a good chance for me to plug my friend Kiersten Venezia.

She has a song on this website. Go there, scroll down to her name, listen to her song and give her five stars!

She is greatly talented and totally sold out to God. You'll be glad you took the time to find out.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sea World Fun!

Mom wanted to know if I had gotten my pictures "back" yet. I so rarely get any photos developed any more. Maybe she'll see something she wants a copy of here.
It was so cool to see the kids feed the dolphins!
Upfront, I must say that Rachel took most of these pictures.
The jelly fish were absolutely amazing. They looked just like the ones in "Finding Nemo", only real.
The Coral was so beautiful. I can see why people fall in love with scuba diving. It was like looking at a beautiful garden.
This octopus was freaky and fascinating. I was glad to have glass between us.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

All Hail, President Chase!

Women's Bible study started today. It was like the first day of school! So fun seeing familiar faces, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

My youngest son takes a home-school class at the same time. He was excited, too. Yesterday he said, "Guess what, Mom? Tomorrow is Friend to Friend."

(c) 2008 Rachel Sexson

Later my friend sent me this email

"...when I walked in to help with child care - it was already 10:10. Chase was in the Greece class and (the teacher) was holding up a globe. She pointed to Iraq - then Chase yelled out something about the war. She talked about the constitution (I'm not exactly sure why - I wasn't paying close attention, but) then Chase yelled out something about how it's been changed and it's wrong. Both teachers smiled and agreed... then one of the teachers said -'That boy will be president some day!'"

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Most Spiritual Thing You Can Do--Sometimes

Unmotivated, lethargic and a little cranky, I realized I was tired. God's been waking me up early every morning. Unfortunately, the kids have been keeping me up late at night or during the night.

When women ask when my children started sleeping through the night, I tell them I'm still waiting. Ha!

But I digress.

A short "rest" quickly turned into a short nap. My motivation, energy level and attitude all took a turn for the better.

Upon confessing to a pastor that I kept falling asleep during my prayer time, he commented that sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap.

Amen, brother.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Celebrating a Milestone


The green machine (our '94 Ford van) has reached a milestone. 200,000 miles! It rolled over in Texas.
It's been through a lot. Many, many repairs. An accident that totalled it. (I was driving, but it was the other guy's fault).

We have a pole in the middle where we used to mount a 13" television when we had long trips to Nebraska.

We wanted to buy a special antennae ball for it, or at least a bumper sticker that said "This van made it all the way up and down Pike's Peak!"

I've mentioned before how thankful I've been for it, even though people point and laugh.

This van has been prayed over and been given thanks for many times. Several times a day when the transmission is acting funny.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who Shot JFK?

The smirk on my face is facetiously saying, "Hey kids, let's stand in front of the place our president was murdered and smile!" I think Rachel's is saying, "More pictures?"

I guess this stop in Dallas could be considered a loooong field trip, since we are studying U.S. history from the turn of the 20th century.

This layover reminded me of the funniest Saturday Night Live skit I saw many, many years ago. A man goes to Heaven and asks someone (St. Peter, I think) everything he always said he would ask once he got there.

One of his questions was who shot JFK. I don't remember the answer, but what I enjoyed most was all the answers. Hard to describe, but funny.

If my daughter produces a skit like it for this year's youth group's Academy Award, I'll try to post it here.

Does anyone remember it?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Third Time's A Charm Warning

A Warning that could be considered a charm if adhered to, noted my good friend.

How exciting that God was showing me where he wanted me to focus. How encouraging that He showed me enough times that I got it through my thick skull. How great that He's going to use this charge to help me with so many of the things about which I've been praying.

Then I read 2 Corinthians 13:1-2 "This is the third time I am coming to visit you. The Scriptures tell us that if two or three have seen a wrong, it must be punished. Well, this is my third warning, as I come now for this visit. I have already warned those who had been sinning when I was there last; now I warn them again, and all others, just as I did then, that this time I come ready to punish severely and I will not spare them."

Scary.

In verse 10 "I am writing this to you now in the hope that I won't need to scold and punish when I come: for I want to use the Lord's authority which he has given me, not to punish you but to make you strong."

So I am doubly (triply?) determined to follow the Lord's commands immediately. The dishes are done. The kids and I have played cards. The planning for school is almost complete.

I'm listening.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Third Time's A Charm


On our quaint little porch (on vacation), I was attempting to catch up on my Bible study, "Experiencing God". This particular lesson was a reminder to pay attention to what happens immediately after we pray. Sometimes we pray for God's direction, then unusual things happen. We see them as distractions, when God may have intended them as answers.

As admonished, I prayed, "Help me understand what you are doing in my life."

I hadn't even formed all the words when dh Dan and son Chase joined me on the porch. Okay, I see the humor, didn't look at them as a distraction, but didn't want to read too much into it either. After all, I hadn't even gotten my entire thought out of my mouth!

I did some more of the study. Committed to reading God's Word and letting that be a confirmation of what He's trying to tell me.

Then again I asked, "What are you trying to show me?"

Immediately, some combination of family came out on the porch.

I put aside my study and joined them. Later I read my scripture and again the next day (yesterday). I was totally reminded of the things God has been telling me.

Take care of the small things. Obey immediately. Put aside my own selfish desires, and live to please Him.

I've been asking Him to help me be more disciplined, and He obviously is.

One more time, I sat down yesterday to finish that particular lesson. On the prayer portion I wrote "God, what are you doing in my life? Preparing me for something big in which I must learn to take care of the small details and Big -meaning my family-(at which point Rachel joined my solitude) giving myself to God alone, not pleasing myself but spending time pleasing God."

Three times God interrupted my prayer to show me my family. This isn't the "small things" after all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Being Spontaneous

Spontaneity is not my strong suit. Neither is flexibility. But I try.

Last week dh Dan reminded me that he would be working in San Antonio this week. With our van newly fixed, our cat no longer an issue, and school not starting until Aug. 25, we were free to consider going with him. On a lark, I looked into the price of gas compared to the price of an airline ticket which would be reimbursed. It looks like the cost of driving would be only 50 or so dollars more.

Dan's base price of a hotel for only him would be reimbursed. He had one free night's stay certificate. So minimal cost as far as a place to stay.

I've been wanting to take the kids to Sea World ever since I went around four years ago. Motivation.

I held my breath and made the reservations, arrangements, and took the plunge into going.

That's where we are right now.

We are having so much fun. It was such the right decision. I wish I would be braver about "going for it" more.

Remembering this success may encourage me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Remembering Emily


A newly single mom and two boys, one barely two, the other just turning five, broke. The home hadn't had much laughter and needed something new. Enter pet. Dog? Too much trouble. Fish? In my experience didn't live long. Cat? Okay. Yeah. Short hair, female, not a kitten but not too old, already spayed, declawed, indoor, FREE. That would work.

I borrowed a newspaper and found exactly that description, plus she was only one year old and black (childhood memories for me)!!

The previous owner also gave us cat food and a dish, cat litter and a litter box. Did I mention we were broke?
They had called her Ebony, but Brad renamed her Emily. She was his birthday present a few days late. She was a gift from God. A very tangible act of love that gave us many moments of joy. Eighteen years worth.

Thank you, God, for loving us so much. Thank you for all you've done for my children. And me.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Isn't That the Way it Goes?


We were all so sad yesterday walking around the house missing our cat Emily. Chase and I both thought we heard her meow. I suggested he spend some time with our outdoor cat Sassy.

He stepped into the garage to find Sassy "toying" with a couple of baby rabbits.

At least we didn't end the evening by watching "Old Yeller".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Choose Life But Have Dominion: A Theology Lesson from a "Cat Lady"

Gift from God, 19 year old, Emily the cat had advanced kidney failure. She took a turn for the worse three days ago. At least 30 hours of being too weak to move beyond her head every now and then and her tail, and just as long refusing water, she began to look like she was suffering. She started to cry if we left her side. We've had her for over 18 years. In another post, I'll write what she has meant to me and my family. It's a lot. I was just so torn about what to do. We had prayed over her and for her. I knew we could take her to the vet for a quick and painless ending, but I kept thinking about how God has commanded us to choose life.

An argument could have been made when my grandmother "Mamarie" was in a lot of pain over Christmas to end her life. That argument could not be won in my family. Thank you, Lord.

Torn, I called my cousin Kim. Kim is the "cat lady". She has so many cats that I think it's probably illegal. She's had a ton of pets, and right now she is breeding Siamese kittens. She loves her animals so much. I knew that she would understand my struggle. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but she surprised me.

She empathized with me totally of course, but ironically told me how "Mamarie" had warned her not to humanize her pets. That through the years she has realized that choose life is a mandate for us Humans. And as humans we have been given dominion over the animals of the earth. We have the responsibility to treat them well. We are not playing God in making a decision to ease their suffering, because they are NOT human. No matter how much we love them. Our emotions get in the way. But we've been charged with a responsibility.

Wow. I love my cousin. It's amazing to find how alike we think about so many things. It meant so much for me to hear these words from her, someone who has loved her animals so much!

So I gathered three of the kids around (though Jeff is 20 and just happened to be visiting), and I shared with them my knew found understanding. I hadn't thought they could handle it, but there they were, totally understanding. Ready to put Emily out of her misery.

We all huddled in the vet's office together.

Yuck. Sometimes making the tough decisions in life really stinks. But I still choose it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ties That Bind

I stood at the sliding glass door holding my breath, willing myself to stay, when all I wanted to do was stand behind little Bradley as he climbed the ladder to the slide on his swing set.

I cried myself silly dropping him off at mother's day out for the first time.

I watched him play inline hockey, football, and rugby. I watched him get injured. All the while I was purposefully standing back.

I've always felt like I had to pry my own fingers off of my first born son's life one at a time. It was so hard.

But when he married Stefanie, my hands were totally open. All the letting go had been done. Brad is his own man. He is the Lord's. He is wise and mature and ready for life.

How wonderful to be able to rejoice at his wedding!!

Technical Difficulties

This delay in blogging was due to an unforeseen stomach bug. You may return to your regularly scheduled reading.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

But I Don't Want to Brush My Teeth

Ten year old Chase was so tired last night that when I told him to brush his teeth he said, "I don't want to." Like he had a choice.

There may be numerous reasons why he doesn't want to brush, and we've tried to address them all, but this is a very common scenario in our home. We tell him to get ready for bed, and he stalls. He has perfected the stall beyond what all three of the other kids have done. When I tell him to brush his teeth now, but he finds many reasons to delay said brushing, he is being disobedient.

I didn't want to write this post, because I think I've said it before, which just goes to show how little I've progressed in this area. However, last night I had to show Chase much mercy in his disobedience, because God had been showing me much mercy in my disobedience. All day He had been telling me to do certain things, one of which was to finish my Bible Study, and I had been whining and stalling.


Of course the lesson in the Bible study was about when God tells us to do something, we must respond immediately. Ouch.

I have some potentially challenging things coming up. It's so important that I take care of the "little things". That's always been the hardest for me. I've begged Him to help me, and I really see how He has been trying to teach me. He has been so patient.

What is God waiting to do through me that I'm prohibiting by my stalling?

Tonight, I made Chase brush his teeth immediately.

(After giving the rabbit water)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name

When my mind wanders about the future, I picture Dan and I travelling in a R.V. to visit our children one by one. Hopefully, they'll all live so close to one another this will never have to happen. I would hope however that our visits would be a blessing.

To my horror, a beautiful R.V. parked in our neighborhood...


Is named... THE INTRUDER. What?!!

I'm sure it is an awesome R.V. The people who own it, I'm sure, are just lovely. But who was the advertising genius that came up with this name?

If we were to visit our children in the future R.V., I would like it to be called something hopefully more fitting. Like...

The Blessing

or Welcome Guest

or even We Promise Not to Stay More than Four Days!

But THE INTRUDER? No way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Swooshing Angel Wings




I'm reading the book "90 Minutes in Heaven", and Don Piper tells of hearing the swooshing of Angel wings. That reminded me of the coolest experience I had last week.

I had just fallen asleep, when I heard a swooshing noise, and I awoke with a start thinking, "Jesus is coming!" I was so excited and filled with Joy! Then nothing happened.

Several thoughts all at once...
Did He take everyone but me? But no, I wasn't worried about that.
Nothing, no trumpet or other noise and Dan wasn't stirring, so I knew He wasn't really coming. Imminently , I mean.
And just pure joy.

And how great is that? I'm glad to know that Jesus' return will fill me with such gladness, and not fear or worry.

Even now when I think about it, I can still feel that joy. Neat.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Home Alone

Well, not quite alone. Chase and I are without Dan (off to teach teenagers about the constitution, etc. at Freedom Generation Camp) and Rachel (off to New Orleans on a mission trip).

This after a week of Grandma Dodie visiting. Brad here with one of his groomsmen the week before. Four groomsmen one night. A set of grandparents another night. A cousin/nephew another. What a crazy, fun, busy time.

But, we've recovered from the wedding, and we're alone. Today we saw everyone off (including Brad & Stefanie back from their honeymoon), went to church, grocery shopping and home. We finished 10,000 B.C., ate lunch and swam away the whole afternoon.

Tomorrow we have a lunch invitation, then Chase has a friend over all afternoon till evening. Good thing, too. I'm teaching two Frugal Living classes Tuesday night, and I'm not ready. So Chase and his buddy will have fun, and I'll have the freedom to finish prepping.

Still, it feels a little lonely. It won't be long until Rachel is gone off to college, so I guess we better start getting used to it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Back to Blogging

Some very cool things have happened, are happening, will happen. So much to blog about that I haven't known where to start. Hopefully these things will spill out in the days and weeks to come.

In doing a Bible study, I'm reminded that I'm supposed to be God-centered, not self-centered. Duh. Why do I keep forgetting that?

In asking God how I can remember to keep Him and His provisions and abilities and desires first, He reminded me of the times where I spent my day asking God, "What next?"

I can do that. So, I asked God, "What do you want me to do now?"

He told me to write in my blog. Isn't God fun? He has so totally blessed my socks off, and this blog is one of the ways I've wanted to share the cool things He does in my life. Yet, I've left it stagnant. Time for fresh water.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Above All Again

Seventeen years ago, I was at a single's conference with two friends. One of those friends (Renee) and I have stayed in touch over the years even though I moved away. During that conference, I felt like God put a desire and call in my heart to speak for him. As in some type of public speaking.

But I remarried and had two more children. I've been busy homeschooling them and participating in various ministries. Over time, I've been able to speak a little here and there. Usually just short five to seven minutes segments.

But I was given the opportunity to be the speaker at a women's event two nights ago. I was able to share how women reflected God's love to me throughout my life. It was awesome, and I might tell more.

One of the coolest things was that my friend Renee "just happened" to be in town that night. How appropriate and so very special that Renee was able to be there for the culmination of this very old dream!! God is so good indeed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Above and Beyond All that We Can Think or Imagine

Yesterday I spoke at a women's event. It was the fulfillment of a 17 year old calling. More about that later. Something very cool happened to me that morning.

I went out on my deck to pray and study my speech a little more. I was thanking God for this tiny wooded view he's given us in the middle of the city. Thanking him for the pool he's given us. The green trees and the blue skies. It's just so pretty, and all the things in nature just fill me with wonder at God's awesomeness. I looked up, and there in the wooded area was a deer!! Never in the 13 years we've lived here have we ever seen a deer! It stayed for so long. I was able to call my son to see it. He grabbed my camera and I got a couple of shots. He was even able to go down to our fence and call for the deer. After awhile, it slowly went down to the little creek area. If you can call it that. It's just stagnant water.


It was as if God were telling me that scripture in Ephesians about being able to do abundantly more than we can think or imagine. I could never have imagined there would be a deer in my back yard. What a wonderful gift from God on a special day. Thank you, thank you, Jesus.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Television is Possessed


There is no other logical explanation. I don't know how long it's been going on, because we use the T.V. mostly for movies and video games. There are certain channels we don't watch too often. I think it was last weekend that my daughter Rachel and I were watching a movie, and while we had it stopped turned over to PBS for a Masterpiece Theater. Only it was extremely annoying because it was broadcast for the blind! Which meant that they narrated and explained every motion.

Later, my son Chase was watching a cartoon on PBS, and they were doing the same thing. I looked just now, and they aren't doing it.

Then, again flipping through the channels, I noticed that "Dancing with the Stars" was being broadcast in Spanish. Weird, but we weren't watching it, so I ignored it.

Then last night, we turned on "Survivor", and we could here the music, but no dialogue. The T.V. in the kitchen was fine. After the first commercial, the dialogue came back on. But, while I was flipping through the channels trying to figure out what was wrong, "Desperate Housewives" was broadcasting Spanish again. In the kitchen it was purely English. All the other channels were fine.

Oh, and if I received the channel through the VCR, everything was normal.

So it sounds like the TV right? I went through the menu, all the buttons I could find, but to no avail. There seems to be no logical reason.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the channels was mysteriously missing, so I did the automatic reconfigure which stations we receive. So, I thought maybe there are stations broadcasting in these special "features". We looked at the online TV guide, but there were no stations listed like this.

By the way, we don't have cable or satellite. Something's in the air...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

God's Big Plans for Me



At Bible study today, we watched a slide show and heard about an orphanage in Mexico that we are helping. This "retired" couple, only in their 40's, bought a home in Mexico and waited upon the Lord. He brought them an orphan on their doorstep. Soon he brought another and another. And now they have something like 24 girls and 14 boys. I actually think it's more than that. Every month they have more bills than money. But they just keep trusting God.

If the following sounds repetitious, it's because it's a reoccurring theme in my life. When will I learn? Anyway, I want to do that!! Not that in particular, but something where I'm using my life in a big, no holds bar kind of way for Christ.

I've always been the Braveheart disembowel me for Christ kind of person. But don't ask me to gather firewood in the rain.

What I mean is, I'm one of the blessed ones that actually recognizes when and what God is telling me, if I listen. Right now, He doesn't tell me to retire and move to Mexico to start an orphanage. He tells me to send an encouraging email, make a meal for a hurting friend, play along with my son when he tries to hire me for pretend money so I can buy his stuff. It doesn't seem sacrificial enough. Big enough.

But apparently it is. Because it's so hard for me to do. My flesh doesn't want to. And it may be bigger than I think, because God knows the big plan. He knows my place in it.

So guess what he's telling me now? Back to that same old thing again...

Unload the dishwasher.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Overlooking the Grammar

It's been a long time since I posted, but this is appropriately the post after my birthday post. My son (9 at the time) wrote me this letter.

Mom. I love you so very much!! Who could ask for a beter mom. Your so awsome!!! here are the ways your awsome.
Good at cooking
teaching
tutoring
and most of all....
.....being a mom.
happy birthday mom.
your ever
loving
son,
Chase

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Birthday To Me!

What fun! There are web sites and you tube videos supporting us Leap Day Babies!! It's hilarious. Here are some interesting facts I found on one of these sites today...

Roughly 200,000 Americans are quadrennials

More than 2.1 million people throughout the world are quads

There is a 1 in 1,506 or 1,461 chance that a child will be born on Leap Day

I never knew. Tongue-in-cheek, I'm sure, "they" complain about discrimination. Not being able to vote or get a driver's license.

Not only have I never had these problems, I'm getting a free pizza from Papa John's today because it's my birthday.

I love my birthday. It seems like people remember it. Maybe not every year, but once every four years I get a lot of cards and often a party! Only two snail mail cards so far, but tons of e-cards. Sign of the times I guess. They're just as great.

On my off years, I get birthday wishes for two days because no one remembers if I celebrate February 28 or March 1. I do March 1, for the record.

When I was little, my daddy teased me mercilessly that I didn't have a birthday. But it is a treasured memory for me now.

In second grade the teacher asked us to write down our birthday, and I asked which one. She retorted rather snottily, "You only have one birthday." Which is technically true, but a little confusing for a seven-year-old, who had only celebrated one birthday on the actual birth day.

It seemed weird to me that I get so excited about this once every four year birthday celebration, but after watching some of the you tube videos, I see I'm not the only one!

Thanks, Mom. You did good.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

First Date

Seventeen years ago today I went on the first date with my now husband. We drove sixteen or more hours to Colorado to go snow skiing. We picked up one of his friends along the way. Thinking about it now, I guess it was a leap of faith for both of us. What if we'd hated each other? That would have been one really long date.

A mutual friend (Mom) had introduced us a couple of weeks earlier. But, we really didn't start talking until right before the date/trip. My mom had been friends with him for around six months, and I knew she liked him. When pressed if he was "...the one?", she had to say, "He might be."

He barely knew me, though maybe Mom filled him in a bit.

He was going to CO skiing with a friend anyway, so the idea was he needed my help with the driving since it was such a long trip. We cleared the air that neither of us thought anything inappropriate was going to occur.

We were both adults. In fact he a bachelor, and me a single mom of two boys.

I had a computer class at the college, so he picked me up around 9:00 p.m. on a Thursday, and we drove probably twelve hours before we picked up his friend.

So many things I loved about this date.

We had time to talk and talk. I asked him every question in the book, from what's your favorite toothpaste, and how do your parents resolve conflict, to what was your favorite Christmas gift?

It was my birthday (sort of), and an anniversary of my husband leaving me. This was God's restoration.

I'd never been skiing, and I was eager to find out how he would treat me. Much to my pleasure, he signed me up for lessons, helped me get my gear on, took me to the class. He met me for lunch and just took great care of me.

In the hotel room, he gave me the bed and slept on the floor.

The truck broke down on the way home. He had tools, but couldn't quite get it fixed (what a wizard he is at fixing everything). But we were close to his family, so they met us and helped us. I got to meet his family. They were so warm and loving. Dan's mom gave me a hug goodbye, and that touched my heart. I was so excited when the truck broke, because I wanted to see how he would handle it. He was so patient and calm.

At the end of that long, long date, he gave me a hug goodbye. What a gentleman!

He probably didn't realize how much of a test he was taking, but he passed with flying colors.

And he continues to amaze me. I am so blessed.

I Did it My Way

I feel almost flooded with new information about myself, and the things God wants to change in me. It is exciting to feel like He is preparing me for something challenging and big. It is odd that it's taken this long for me to realize these things about myself. It is scary to think that there's so much more wrong with me than I ever knew.

I'm still working on my tongue and hence my attitude. But I'm aghast at some of the things that flew out of that portal last night!

And yesterday, I had another startling revelation about myself. Not only am I a more critical person than I believed I was, I'm also controlling!

For those of you that have wrestled me over the remote, stop laughing. I knew I liked things my way. I knew I could be bossy. I attributed a lot of that to being the oldest child and being selfish and prideful. That I knew.

Wow. Controlling people can really annoy me. I guess that's the one finger pointed at you, three pointing back at me kind of thing.

But I'm willing to change. If I can just be the one to decide when, where and how much. Ha!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sergeant York


With Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan, this movie featuring World War One was a delight. Most of the movie tells about York's background before the war. He was a drinker and a fighter, then turned to Christ. He changes quite dramatically and is a conscientious objector to the war because he doesn't believe he can kill and follow God. He faces quite a dilemma of following God or honoring his country or reconciling how he can do both.

It lead to some good discussions with the kids. It also prompted me to look up how much of the movie was true.

Most of it was! Even the most difficult part to believe was true, which was his heroism in the war. I don't want to give it away, but it was pretty amazing.

The war scenes are hokey. Unfortunately, we've seen much more realistic death. But that nor the lack of color bothered us. If you watch it, let me know what you thought of the picture of his mother. We laughed pretty hard at that scene.

Nine year-old son, fourteen year-old daughter, Mom and Dad all give the movie five stars.

Friday, February 15, 2008

So Brad, is Sayid Still the Man?

You will be lost by this post if you're not a LOST fan. Which I am. Big time.

I had a dream last night that I figured out the whole space time continuum thing, but this morning it didn't make sense because the pilot wasn't wearing his wedding ring.

Sayid must have sold his soul.

Why????? (cried with anguish)

BTW, if you want to know all the theories and get screen caps, this site is awesome. http://www.darkufo.blogspot.com/

Valentine Blow-Out

Dr. Phil, Weight Watchers, Thin Within, Weigh Down, plus every nutritional article I've ever read are in my brain as I try to lose weight. But, I'm trying to combine my knowledge with following God's guidance. So I try to listen to Him and not be tied up with diet "rules".

I've come to have the same thing for breakfast every morning. At first I had a fruit and whole grain, plus a protein and milk. But I can hardly choke it down even though I stop eating by 7:00 the night before. So now I have an apple cut up into 3/4 of a serving of oatmeal and some hot tea.

I've been feeling pleased about my eating habits, but last night was a blow-out.

We had a romantic dinner at home with steak, baked potato, asparagus, and wine. Not too bad, I had a very small potato with low-fat sour cream and a small piece of steak. It was so good. I did have 2 1/2 glasses of wine. And then we had Moellieux au Chocolat, known in America as Oozing Chocolate Lava Cake. Ohhh, it was roll your eyes in the back of your head good. I don't have any ramekins, so I used a muffin tin and made six individual cakes instead of four. And it was so rich I didn't know if I could eat all of that one, but I did.

Then I prayed for the leftover two to be gone, because I just wanted to eat more and more. My husband and son polished those off, so yea!

And I woke up feeling lousy this morning. Do you think it was all the sugar?

That was fun last night, but my oatmeal tasted really good this morning.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who ARE You Talking To?

Last night, my nine year-old Chase climbed into bed with us after a nightmare. I could then no longer sleep. My husband Dan snuggled in close to Chase and said quietly, "I'm not done with you."

Chase raised concern, "What?!"

In another quiet (read sinister) voice Dan replied, "I'm not talking to you."

"Okay, you're totally scaring the daylights out of me," Chase panicked.

Amidst my outburst of laughter, I told Chase that his dad was talking in his sleep. Then we both laughed so hard.

I still didn't get any sleep.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Mother Teaching me to Do Without

Yesterday I posted about some things I do without. But it really got me to thinking about the things my mother did without when I was a child, and how much our society has changed.

1. I don't think we took the newspaper until I was at least 12. I could be wrong, but I remember reading my Aunt Diane's.

2. I never even heard of satellite until I was 15. When was it invented anyway? We had an old black and white television until I was 10 or 11.

3. I remember my mom having a Redbook subscription when I was in my early teens. She denies it, but I liked reading the, "Can this Marriage be Saved" column. She tore out the sex column so I couldn't read it.

4. When I was in elementary school, Mom & Diane would load us kids into the car and we'd go to the drive-in. We could bring our own popcorn & soda. I guess this was doing without going to the theater, but it was great fun.

5. We seldom ate out. But I don't know that many people did. I remember the first McDonald's came to town when I was 9 or 10. Our school class took a field trip there.

6. I don't remember having a phone until my brother was born. I was six. It was black, and we had a party line.

Then there are all the things I see as a necessity now. No washer until brother was born, and the dryer came later. No second car. Many trips to the grocery store and library with the wagon. No central air conditioning, except for a couple of years we lived in a townhome. Did we have any a/c before that? No dishwasher until I was around 16.

So many things that I never even knew we "needed". I'm a big believer in doing without. It's not always fun, but it builds an attitude of gratitude for the things we have.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Doing Without

Doing without seems like I phrase I heard a lot, spoken with respect, while I was growing. I never hear it anymore.

What I do hear is this catchy commercial, "I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now." And he buys a big screen T.V.

It's important to me to point out those type of commercials to the kids and to myself. It is such an easy mindset to slip into.

Instead, I will be glad for some of the things we have chosen to do without.
  1. Daily & weekend newspaper (we get a free paper Wed., Fri., and Sun.)
  2. Cable or Satellite
  3. Magazine subscriptions (though my kids have some given as gifts from grandparents)
  4. Video rentals (we use the library)
  5. Eating out (I can't say totally, but I try very hard to cook.)
  6. Cell phone (my husband needs one for work, but he's the only one with the cell.)

I must admit, the cell phone is the hardest one. I wonder if there are some things that I wouldn't even think of because we've gone without them for so long.

On the other hand, we may do with some things that you would always chose to do without.

Pinching Pennies

Every January, our Pastor encourages us to sign a commitment card that we're going to put God first in our finances. We already do, but we always fill out the card anyway, because he promises to pray for us.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that coincidentally the first few months of the year are always the most difficult for us.

Besides having just paid our personal and property taxes, we've always just finished Christmas, which usually entailed a long trek out of town. Add to that tag renewals in January, a life insurance payment, and car insurance due in February.

This year included some serious dental expenses for my youngest, and some serious car repairs for the old (but appreciated) van.

We're a frugal family. I love to read frugality blogs. I'm always trying to learn something new on trimming the expenses. There doesn't seem to be too many things left.

So, I've finally given up soda. For the most part.

I've tried in the past to limit myself to one a day, but inevitably would have a day when I drank five or six. Also, my youngest son has gotten into the bad habit of thinking he needs one soda a day. Call it old age, but I never would have allowed this with the older kids.

So, now he can only have one a week. And I can have one occasionally. In the past three weeks, I've probably had three. Diet Rite Cherry. Yum. My favorite.

I'm really doing fine without it. I figure we'll be saving around $150 a year. Every little bit helps.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Heart of The Matter

Giant cookies, home made breads, boxes of chocolates were all left over from Bible study on Wednesday. Last semester there wasn't enough food to go around! A lot of women must be dieting. I even heard someone say, "I wish there were vegetables."

It will be interesting to see how soon the snack table starts to clear off. Will it be by the end of February or hold out until April?

How many diets have I been on? Have you been on? Lifestyle changes. Better eating choices. It's now or never.

The willpower only lasts so long. Then gradually, or in one big bag of oreo crunching, the new me/you is out and the old me/you is baaaack!

Lasting change will never happen for me without the help of God. All the positive thinking. All the willpower. All the powders, pills, plans. It won't work.

The change I'm focusing on (dare I admit it?) is my tongue. The words that exit my mouth originated in my heart. So I'm trying to listen to the words before they have the chance to escape. Then I'm looking at my heart condition to see what those words really meant.

And this is really all related to food and lasting change. Yesterday I really struggled through wanting to indulge in some unhealthy food. What I really wanted was to indulge in some unhealthy speaking. That old criticism thing again. So if I had the tasty morsels of food, I could forgo the tasty morsels of slander.

Ah. Heart check time. I spent some time in prayer. Confessing, admitting my powerlessness, asking for strength. He delivered.

Help me, Lord. You alone know how wicked is my heart.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rewards and Consequences

I'm fairly obtuse. My poor sweet husband doesn't understand that I don't get "hints". When he said that he'd like to have his coat washed by Wednesday, I didn't put it together that he meant he'd like for me to wash it by Wednesday. He tries to be so sweet, but I don't do subtle.

In fact, in a lot of my prayers I ask God to hit me over the head with His answer, because I just don't get it.

This Fall a friend shared in Bible study how her daughter was ready for a big girl bike. Same daughter had a problem with being respectful. Mom had tried many negative consequences, but struck upon the idea of rewarding her daughter with a dollar in a jar towards the bike every time she voluntarily said things like, "Thank you, Mommy." It worked wonderfully.

I mentioned and have thought since wouldn't it be great if God gave us these negative consequences and positive attaboys for our choices?

A wise woman said, "He does in my life all the time."

I bet He does in mine, too. Again, I'm obtuse.

So I've been praying and asking God to show me the rewards and consequences of my choices.

I've been choosing to keep the dishes hand-washed and picked up better than when we still had use of the dishwasher. I'm seeing the positive cleaning spilling over to keeping other things picked up, too.

I'd love to hear some of your rewards and consequences!

Uncommonly Beautiful

This video features a friend of mine. She says it better than I ever could.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Still doing the dishes

A while back I posted on the Holy Spirit's constant answer to the question of what to do now as the dishes.

Since that time, my precious, spoils me, mother-in-law came for a visit. As long as I cooked, she did the dishes. Not only that, but cleaned the counters, table, sink. Two whole weeks I had the star treatment. And when she left I declared, "It will stay this way." Clean and picked up I mean.

But, it didn't.

I thought how wonderful of the Lord to send this angel to my house right after I grumbled about there always being dishes to do.

I thought this break was what I needed to get myself in a good habit.

Ha!

So, the Lord is trying a new tactic.

For a while the handle on the dishwasher has not worked correctly. In fact, dear mother-in-law had to learn the secret of getting the door opened. My daughter had written an explanatory paper on how to get the door open.

Two days ago the handle finally broke. I managed to wrench the door open to get the clean dishes out, but dear hubby said we couldn't use it anymore until it got fixed.

The part is on back order and won't be in until the end of the month. So at least three more weeks of doing dishes by hand.

I can't help but remember when I started washing the Sunday afternoon dishes when I was eight or nine. It was either that or take a nap like my parents and little brother. So I washed and dreamed I was Cinderella (pre-Fairy Godmother).

My nine year-old son helped me dry the first load. And he washed part of a load tonight. He's enjoying it. My daughter has also cheerfully volunteered to help. And of course, dear hubby has pitched in, too. I didn't realize I was depriving them all.