Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas through the eyes of my seven-year-old

To: santa & Mrs. Clas

From: Kate

Dear, Santa

I want . . .

Magic tree house books. Shrek 3. lots of candy canes. A book of tricks. A $10 check. A piano. Hot apple sider tonight and at school. High school musicul cloths.

Your Friend forever,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh wise little Linus!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things. . .

Raindrops on roses?! I don't think so.

I've been compiling my Christmas wish list to give to my husband. What started out as a few simple things has grown into a full-blown "If we had a million dollars and could buy anything we wanted" kind of a list. And although I know I won't be receiving all of these things - heck, there's a big possibility I won't receive any of them -- it's fun to dream. So, here goes.

- a tea kettle. I've never owned a tea kettle, and lately I've had a growing obsession with drinking hot tea. My fave right now is Earl Grey. Love it. It's a whole big process for me to make hot tea, though, without a tea kettle.

- C.S. Lewis books. Among my wants are "The Great Divorce" (which isn't what you might think). "Reflections on the Psalms" looks amazing. "A Grief Observed" -- written after the love of Lewis' life, his wife, died of cancer.

- house shoes. If you've been to my house you know they're a must have for me. Poor circulation I guess, but my feet are always freezing. Bath and Body Works have some a-ma-zing looking house shoes. The matching robe looks incredible as well.

- anything from Williams-Sonoma. If I were a rich girl my kitchen would be littered with nothing but W-S stuff.

- Feist and KT Tunstall CDs. 'nuff said.

- fabric galore from my two favorite internet places: and Good stuff.

- the perfect sweater. Like Moby Dick and the Loch Ness Monster, it elludes me.

The following are a little far-fetched, but I can't help myself.

- a yearly membership to the YMCA or some equivalent-type place, complete with a loveable fitness trainer, like the ones on Biggest Loser. In my dream of dreams said trainer would follow me around everywhere, telling me what to do and what to eat. He/She would live in my house and prepare my meals. And I would look like a million bucks. . .

- a monthly membership for hour long massages given by some woman with a Swedish name. The place would smell like raindrops on roses and be dimly lit with a thousand candles. And Yanni would be in the corner with his orchestra, strumming some relaxing tunes. (Okay, maybe not Yanni, 'cause he drives me nuts.) But the place should be spectacular, not like the last place I got a massage from -- shag carpet everywhere and some lady with dreds in her hair and legs that had never been shaved. Yuck. No, it would be the complete opposite from that place.

So, there you go. Who needs Oprah to tell you what you want for Christmas?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean

For as long as I can remember I've always been a clean freak. There's a big part of me that likes to scan a room and see things neat and orderly, "a place for everything and everything in its place".

This afternoon I had an overwhelming urge to clean. I emptied the refrigerator of old leftovers, scrubbing each shelf as I went. Then I loaded the dishwasher up, wiped down the outside of the trash can, took four bags of trash to the dumpster, cleaned the sliding glass doors, started a couple of loads of laundry, vacuumed each room, and then ended with wet dusting everything in sight. Tonight I plan on sweeping the hardwood floors and deep cleaning the bathroom.

As I happily went along doing all of these things I remembered a scene from a movie that admittedly I've never sat and watched from beginning to end. It's from Bruce Almighty, and it's the part in the movie where Bruce has made a mess of everything and the whole town starts to riot. He screams out "GGGOOOOOOOOODDDDDDD!" And suddenly he's standing in a big white room. Quiet surrounds him. He looks around frantically and then hears the faint squeak of a mop bucket being rolled along. God appears and Bruce says, "They're all out of control. I don't know what to do." God replies, "You mind giving me a hand with this floor first?" The part of this scene that struck me today was what happens next: Bruce and God are standing side by side in silence - mopping. Then God says the words that I think will never leave me: "There we go. Wonderful thing. No matter how filthy something gets, you can always clean it right up."

Later in the movie God tells Bruce, "Everybody wants a miracle, Bruce. Want me to do everything for 'em. But what they don't understand is, they're the one's holding the power." So maybe Hollywood didn't exactly nail this one, but I think there is some truth to it. We don't like what's going on in our life, but we do nothing to change it. I will pray and pray and pray for God to do something, and a lot of times it's supposed to be Him that moves. But what about those times where He's waiting for me to take a step? To make a move?

Sometimes we have to clean up our own mess. Sometimes we just need to be willing to grab the mop. And then there are those other wonderful times when you're standing next to God side by side - mopping.

"Mr. Clean gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in just a minute, Mr. Clean will clean your whole house and everything that's in it. Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean."

Monday, November 26, 2007

When it Rains. . .

I don't think I even have to finish that sentence, we all know how it goes. Our household has had some major stuff going on lately, so much that I thought I'd take the time to share, but bear with me that there aren't any photos to go along. (Those will have to come later.)

November is nearly over, and I have to say that I don't know where it went. It started out slowly enough I guess, but it didn't stay slow for long. About the second week of November Paul started feeling bad, and over the last couple of weeks it's gotten way, way worse. He commented to me one day that his knuckle was sore, that it almost felt broken. I have to admit I didn't think much of it. I have a tendency to hurt myself but not notice right away, like the bruise that shows up on your shin and you have no idea how it got there kind of a thing. Anyway, soon after Paul made his knuckle comment he expressed that it had spread into his entire hand. And then his feet. And then his shoulder. And then his back. He finally got to the doctor, and long story short, he was diagnosed with gouty arthritis. He's now been through three rounds of steroids, two trips to the doctor, one trip to the emergency room, one shot of pain killer, four prescribed medications and several trips to the pharmacy. I think we're finally getting it under control, but needless to say it's been a long journey that I wish never to go through again. He's been in some intense pain, and from what I understand, gouty arthritis isn't something that goes away. Once you have it, you have it sort of a thing. I can tell you that I have NEVER seen my husband in that kind of pain. It's a difficult thing to stand beside someone you love so dearly and be able to do nothing for them. I am still praying for God's ultimate and final healing. Will you pray with me?

My work load this month has been nearly unbearable. Which considering all things, isn't so bad. Financially it's really nice, but it kills me to have to work ten, twelve, fourteen hour days over and over again. My body definitely feels it. I am thankful, however, for the Lord's provision on us. I find myself complaining about it, which I hate to admit. It seems really selfish to complain that the Lord is providing. If you hear me complaining about it, please do me the favor of telling me to shut up!

Payge's birthday was the 20th. I cannot believe she's eleven. It seems like just yesterday. We had a party for her on the 17th, which she really enjoyed. I will post pictures at a later time. I was snapping pics of her at her party when it hit me dead on that she's not a little girl anymore. It's hard to write that out, even harder to wrap my brain around.

We bought a new car on Wednesday the 21st. I know it sounds weird to say, but I'm really ticked off that we bought a new car. I mean that. We owned a 2004 Ford Escape that had less than 50,000 miles on it. We were halfway done with paying for it, which if you know me you've heard me say a hundred times that I couldn't wait to be done with the payment. My plan was to pay it off and drive it 'til the wheels fell off. Then put new wheels on and give it to Payge to drive into the dirt. I was really looking forward to life with no car payment. But, I suppose God had other plans. We were informed that the transmission was bad. Then we were informed that to fix it would cost $3,400.00. Which ultimately would mean that we would have paid WAAAAAYYY more for the thing than it was worth brand new. So, we are driving around in a new car now. It still makes me sick to say that. However, I'm really trying to come to peace with it. We prayed and prayed for God to show us which decision to make, and I know that this was it. I guess sometimes it's hard to see what God has planned. It's even harder when God's plan is not your own.

Late Wednesday night, after purchasing the car, we drove to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. We really enjoyed visiting with our family, since we don't plan on seeing them at Christmas this year. I will be posting pictures later.

So, there you have it. (Well, at least most of it.) It's been a roller coaster of a ride through November, but hopefully it will slow down soon. Okay, even writing that I know it's wrong, but hey, I gotta believe it for now.

And even though November was rough, I know that God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11). And that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28). So, for now "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Because "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

I give thanks for the following, to name a very, very few: 1) I'm so very thankful that Paul is feeling better and that even though his "condition" may be serious, it's not terminal. 2) I'm so very thankful that I have not one but TWO beautiful, healthy, wonderful girls. 3) That my transmission did not blow up while we were driving it. Especially if we were driving it to Kansas City. 4) That the Lord provided the opportunity for a new vehicle, and that I know in my heart and with my head that he will provide financially, because he always has. 5) I'm thankful that seven years ago the Lord provided me with a way to make good money without ever having to leave my kids. 6) I'm thankful that the Lord has given us his holy and living word to guide us and encourage us, and that we can use that holy and living word at any time. 7) I'm thankful for a wonderful family, even though a lot of times I can't or don't show it. I love you all. 8) I'm thankful for friends who will go the distance with me, and who will drop everything to speed down to the hospital to take my kids. *Thanks Marshalls* And for knowing that if I would have called ANY of my other friends that they would have done the very same.

So, even though we may be in the middle of the storm, or at the beginning of the storm, or at the end of the storm, I will stand with faith. And I will keep standing. I just need to learn how to stand with faith AND with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stressed Out

Do you remember those animal posters that your first grade teacher had up on her walls? You know, the ones that pictured some poor kitten hanging on a rope or a monkey of some sort looking all crazy like? Underneath it would have some funny phrase about hanging in there or thanking God it was Friday, something that was supposed to be encouraging?

Well right now I feel like that.

It's almost 11 p.m. and unfortunately I'm wide awake. I've been trying for about an hour to will myself to fall asleep, but obviously it wasn't working. I'm not sure whether it was the dinner I ate or the espresso I had at 4:30 this afternoon, but I'm buggin'.

Sleep cannot find me when my mind is the epitome of some ADHD convention.

Here's a list of what's been bouncing off the walls of my brain & keeping me from catching some zzzzzzzzsss:

- We're out of dog food, better make sure to drop by Wal-Mart after I take the kids to school tomorrow, otherwise the dogs will act like they're starving to death.

- Jennifer's wedding is coming up fast, better try to find some new shoes to match my bride's maid dress. Which reminds me, her sister called and I haven't returned her phone call. She wants to talk to me about the bachelorette party. Wonder when that is? The bridal luncheon is this Sunday. But so is the church Thanksgiving potluck dinner. If I make something simple like salad will I be able to do both?

- Payge's birthday party is on Saturday, better remember to stop by the store to get cupcake mix, icing, etc. Better make a list of what I need. Guess I'd better make Friday night my "clean the house" night. The bathroom is horrible, don't want anybody seeing that mess. I'd better dust the house too, it's pretty bad. That might be why Payge's allergies are acting up.

- Payge's DARE graduation is tomorrow, better factor that in to my day.

- Since her birthday is Tuesday I'd better e-mail her teacher about bringing snacks. Better pick up some cookies or something for that, so I don't have to bake them.

- Payge's teacher's birthday is coming up. Since I'm room parent I'd better write a letter to all the parents and ask for donations for a gift. And I'll have to figure out what I'm going to bring. Maybe cupcakes? Shoot, that means more baking. Oh well.

- Kate's music concert is Thursday night. I need to call Dad and Athena and invite them. Maybe Stacy and Kevin will want to come? I wonder if Vannessa has to work that night, she may want to come too. Write that down on my t0-do list for tomorrow.

- Let's see, finished that one transcript I needed to get done by today. Now that leaves five more. How many pages are all those? Probably around 365. All of them need to be done before Thanksgiving, how much time does that give me?

- Leaving for KC on Wednesday night for Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to that, but there's two days I won't be able to get any work done. Gotta make sure I get everyone packed early on that Wednesday so we can head out before it gets too late.

- Haven't done the checkbook in more than a few days. That worries me. I have no idea how much money we have in there. I've GOT to make time tomorrow to do that.

- Paul still isn't feeling well. I'm not being a very good wife right now, because I really haven't prayed for him today. Seems like we didn't really get to see each other tonight.

- What the heck am I going to make for dinner tomorrow? We've got to leave by 6:00 to be to church on time. What am I going to make on Thursday night, Kate's concert starts at 7 but she needs to be there by 6:45. That doesn't leave much time for homework AND dinner.

- Where in the world could that book be? (See post below). I sure hope it's at school.

and finally,


Life Imitates Art

Katelyn has lost her library book. Not surprising, given that the kid loses everything. What's so ironic about this is the name of the book that she lost. Are you ready for this?

Stella Louella's Runaway Book.

The first line of this book reads: "On Saturday morning, Stella's library book disappeared, as if in a magic act."

This is my life. Two nights of searching, ending in empty hands. Crawling on hands and knees around the house, looking under every piece of furniture we own. The sight of me on all fours is too much for the dogs, they think I'm trying to play.


I think the worst thing about it is Kate's nonchalance about the whole thing. If you know Kate you know exactly what I'm speaking of right now. Sometimes I envy that laid back personality of hers, but not tonight. Tonight it's just ultra irritating.

Maybe I wouldn't be so on edge about it normally, but I've logged twenty-three hours of work in the last two days. At this moment I feel like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day".

By the way, in the end Stella does find her library book.

Hopefully life will imitate art just a little more.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Psalm 51 weekend

Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. (Ps. 51:2) Purify me from my sins and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Ps. 51:7)

This past weekend I had the honor to watch what is for me one of the most touching events one could ever witness. My younger sister Jessy was baptized. As follower's of Christ we believe that the act of baptism is a proclamation of your faith to others. But more than that, it's a literal way for our minds to comprehend that when we are repentant in our hearts and ask for forgiveness from God that he washes away our sin. We are made clean by the living water. No longer are we to carry our sins strapped to our back. We are free to hand them over to the one who died for them.

Our God is so good.

This picture says it all. If you take the time to click on it and make it larger, you can see the expression on Jessy's face expresses what's in her heart at that very instant: Utter joy. Freedom. The beginning of a new life. The shackles and chains have been stripped away. Love without bounds. The very essence of Jesus Christ.

The angels rejoice with you Jessy, and so do I.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Halloween & Other Pics

So sometimes I'm not the best blogger in the world. I get busy and my blogging gets put on the bottom of the to-do list. But at any rate, here's some cute pics of the girls during their school's spirit week:

Pajama Day

Career Day -- (A chef and a veterinarian)

I'm ashamed to admit that I forgot to take pictures of Crazy Hair Day, Twin Day and Dress Down Day. Ah, well, such is life I guess. They get really excited about spirit week, because they get tired of wearing uniforms to school every day.

On to Halloween pics: (Cheetah Girl and Super Girl)

Trick or Treating with our friend Judah (the alien):

Our friend Kenton, dressed as a Chipotle Burrito (it's too long of a story to explain, I'll just leave it that Kenton is an unusual guy. Love ya Kenton!)

By special request of our friends the Hansens, Coach Paulie made an appearance.

Stay tuned for my next blog, all about my adventures to Lake of the Ozarks and the baptism of Jessy!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Strong & Bitter Words Indicate a Weak Cause."

-- Victor Marie Hugo

If there's one thing I've learned by doing what I do for a living it's this: Bitterness is a marriage killer.

Last week while typing my 600th divorce transcript, listening intently on the words of a woman scorned, it was yet again confirmed to me that our thoughts and feelings END marriages. They end love. They end friendships. They end hopes, dreams, thousands of intimate moments shared. They end what God honored. They end the idyllic childhoods of many innocent children. Shattered by our thoughts. Thoughts that turn into feelings that turn into actions that turn into a hardened heart.

I'm truly grateful that I do what I do, because I think more than once it has saved my own marriage. Listening to angry, angry, hurting people in the lowest point of their lives helps me to remember how easily the cords of marriage can be cut. Snapped by too much strain. Unravelled by carelessness.

My job is a constant reminder to me to keep myself in check. Too often I find myself harboring bitterness towards my dear husband. I get angry at him for not doing this or because he did this or. . .

But bitterness isn't alone in her devastation, no, she has a friend who goes by the name of selfishness. Oh, selfishness, how I love to love you. How many times have I thought to myself, "I deserve better." "He doesn't know how LUCKY he is." And on and on and on she roars in my ears. Why do we convince ourselves that we're entitled to be number one? Why do we believe that our wants, desires, needs should be placed above anothers?

But what is the tap root of the weed of bitterness? I believe it's hurt. We've somehow been failed by another human, the one person on this Earth who should never fail us. I hear this over and over again in the transcripts I've done. Underneath the bitterness I truly think lies a beaten up and battered and weathered love. I think sometimes the people themselves don't even realize it. They've declared war and to wave a white flag means that yet again they've been kicked in the gut.

But in world filled with divorce, how do we protect our own marriage? The odds are against us, that's for certain. In my county alone the divorce rate is 73 percent. 73. Do the math on that one, kids, and you'll find that there are more divorces taking place then there are marriages. So how will you guard against the cancer of bitterness? It takes a concerted effort, I believe, to keep from going down the one-way, wrong-way street of having a bare third finger. It takes a game plan. Guarding your heart against the evils of bitterness, selfishness, narcissism. Admitting when you're wrong. Confessing those feelings to the good Lord above. But more importantly, having grace with our spouse. Never taking for granted the things they do. Embracing the way they choose to love us, even if it's not exactly what we had in mind. Choosing to dwell on the positives, not the negatives. Praying for your spouse daily. Momma always said it's hard to hate the ones you're praying for. And maybe biting your tongue when you don't want to.

Listen, I don't proclaim to be an expert on marriage, and I've never suffered the loss of my own divorce, although I have suffered the loss of my dear family and friends' marriages. Love hurts, I know. And I know that there ARE times when things happen that are outside of your control. But after ten years of marriage, after two years as marriage leadership in our church, after 600 divorce transcripts typed I do know that I've learned a few things.

One of the most important things I've learned is this: Standing and proclaiming to your spouse and the world around you: "DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION."

Not for my marriage. And hopefully, not for yours either.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Proof that I am downtown WAY too much/What would you do?

As part of my job I am frequently called to "go downtown". This phrase is kind of slang to me, and if you're around me at all you have probably heard me use expressions like: "I have to go downtown". "I went downtown today." etc.

On an average basis at least once or twice a week I travel from my home on the northeast side of town to the county courthouse or the federal courthouse, depending on what I'm doing. On a typical trip I will drive past several of our local homeless people. Every once in a while I am approached by one. The benefit is that I now am unafraid of the less fortunate, which for some reason (which I feel foolish admitting to you now) I used to be. The fear I used to have was more than likely bred into me because I am a female (the weaker sex) and because I am not exactly the strongest female. (Okay, I'm a weakling.)

Anyway, today as I was parallel parking my car I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a man was approaching my vehicle. I parked the car and then pretended to dig around in my handbag for a while, hoping that he would move on. A quick check of my locks notified me my door was not locked. I wasn't afraid of him, but I was afraid that he might be wanting to car jack me. Not that this would bother me either, but since my car payment is substantial I would hate to continue making a payment on something I no longer owned. (Especially a substantial payment on something I no longer owned.) Trust me, I'm not bragging that my car payment is substantial, just the opposite actually. (Note to self: Never trust the words of a finance manager at a car dealership ever, ever again!)

Okay, so back to my story. Mister is still standing there, obviously waiting on me. I roll down my window and give him this "Can I help you?" look. He starts telling me his down-on-my-luck story and it strikes me that he's wanting cash. But then the oddest, strangest thing happens: I get a case of de-ja-vu.

"Wait a minute!" I think to myself. "I have definitely heard this story before." In fact, I've heard THIS story from THIS man before.

Proof that I frequent downtown way too much. I got hit up for money by the same homeless man.

So what would you do? It's clear that his story is nothing but lies. He told me six months ago he was just needing some cash for a bus ticket back "home". Six months later he's telling me that again.

I won't tell you what I did this time, but I will tell you that last time I did give him some money. But now I want to hear what you would do. Would you give this man more money? Would you call him out on his blatant lies? Would you lie yourself and tell him you have no cash on you? Leave a comment for me, I'm truly interested in your thoughts.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My Spectacles Spectacle

So, after about four years of having the same glasses I finally took the plunge (and the ungodly amount of time) and went "frames" shopping. Since it's more about the destination than the journey when it comes to these types of errands, it didn't take me long to find a pair I considered suitable.

All excited, I sit down with the sales clerk as she writes up my order. "Okay," she says, "all I need from you is $299.00." WHAT??!! "You must have forgotten my $200.00 for insurance." I politely reply. "No, the $299.00 is AFTER your $200.00 insurance." Oh.

So I quickly make up an excuse as to why I won't be purchasing said glasses today. Flying out of the store more than a little embarrassed, I decide I'll have to either find a different, WAY cheaper pair, or I'll do what any cheapskate does; I'll find the exact thing on ebay for pennies.

No such luck on the cheapskate route.

Plan B goes into effect. I'll find the same pair, but I'll find them cheaper at a different store. Doing a little Internet research goes a LONG way, my friends. I was able to find a store that offered a forty percent discount on frames. Sign me up. I printed the coupon and headed to the store.

Enter stage right the stereotypical bird brained but lovable character.

I talk with BB (bird brain) about ordering the above frames, then whip out my coupon. My $299.00 out-of-pocket becomes $50.00 --whooo whooo!

BB becomes even more bird brained as a week passes and STILL no frames have been ordered.

Enter Plan C.

I decide to go back to Store Number 1 to see if I can get the same pair of frames, but mention to them that Store Number 2 said they would give it to me at this unbelievable low, low introductory, one time limited offer of forty percent off. "Will you price match?"

"Sure!" Sales Clerk replies. Jackpot, I think to myself. (Along with several other compliments to me about how cunning and clever and smart and so on and so forth I am.)

We order them up, I hand her my prescription, she tells me that they probably won't take but a couple of days because of the ease of the prescription.


Unexpectedly, Sales Clerk calls the next day and informs that that they've already arrived and that I can pick them up between the hours of this and that.

I arrive shortly thereafter and she does all the adjusting, complimenting, yada yada. I put them on and think to myself, "Wow, these are different. I must have been really blind because of not wearing the other ones in so long."

Pulling out of the parking lot I'm halfway scared I'm gonna wreck, 'cause I'm having a hard time adjusting to the newness of them.

Two days pass and I'm wearing them pretty constantly, but I don't seem to be adjusting to them. Weird.

On Day 3 it hits me. I quickly dig through my purse to find the prescription I had given her.

Then I realize just what had happened.

I gave her Paul's prescription by mistake.

"Here, put these on." I tell Paul. He puts them on. He lifts the newspaper. He can see exceptionally well.

On the following Monday I go in to Store Number 1 and sheepishly tell them what happened. I hate when I make myself look stupid. (Unfortunately this kind of thing happens more often then I'd like to admit.)

Sales Clerk tells me that it was a mutual mistake, that she should have caught it as well, being that it wasn't my name on the prescription but my husband's. "This has NEVER happened in the history of our store!" Sales Clerk says. Great, thanks for making me feel even more dim-witted.

She promises to reorder them and again comments that it shouldn't take long to remake, since my prescription is even easier than Paul's.

That was a week ago.

Three phone calls and one "stop in" later, they call me this afternoon and announce that my glasses are ready.

I haven't done the math yet, but I'm pretty sure that my forty percent savings has decreased slightly when offset by the mileage and gas consumption that my mistake caused.

And to think I called BB a bird brain!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Well if the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack. . .

Do you remember singing songs at church camp and vacation Bible school? One that I think I will always remember goes like this:

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart (Where?)
Down in my heart (Where?)
Down in my heart
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart (Where?)
Down in my heart to stay
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart (down in my heart)
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart defines joy as: 1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation. 2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. 3. the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety. 4. a state of happiness or felicity. 5. to feel joy; be glad; rejoice.

And a quick search using the keyword "joy" returns with 242 uses of the word joy in the Bible.

So what's my problem?

I'll be the first one to admit that I haven't been very joyous lately. I guess I didn't realize it until it came staring back at me. Let me explain. There's a woman that I know, although I've never had a conversation with her, but I see her on average two or three times a week. I don't want to be mean, but the woman doesn't look happy. In fact, in the two years I've "known" her I can honestly say I've NEVER seen a smile grace her face. She was pregnant not long ago and gave birth to a son. I kind of thought her disposition might change after that, but it didn't. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure she's a perfectly nice lady, and I'm not trying to put her down. Not my point at all. Anyway, recently I came across a little "blurp" about her, written by her. I have to say I was shocked at what I read. She was saying how her husband was currently in school, a Christian school, studying for a degree in Christian ministry. Whoa. Who'd of guessed her to be a Christian?! Seriously, that's what I thought when I read it. So often I am critical and judgmental. I will condemn someone in a matter of seconds, based merely off our exchange with one another, whether it be verbal or not. I walk away from the checker at a store thinking to myself, "Lord, please help that person come to know you. To have a deep and personal relationship with you. To acknowledge you as their Lord and Savior." That's automatically where my mind goes, that they must not be a believer, otherwise they wouldn't be acting like that.

Which brings me back to my point. How many people have walked away from me with the same perception that I had of that lady? Many, many I'm sure. So often I forget what God has promised all who live in Him. In my times of trouble I forget that I know who wins in the end. So why do I allow the enemy to oppress me? Why do I walk around with my heart so downtrodden? I KNOW WHO WINS IN THE END. I know who wins. When I repeat that to myself it makes all my troubles, all my worries, all my burdens seem really trivial. I am set free in the fact that Jesus wins. And because I'm a part of that "team" I win too. Think of it. When the star quarterback wins the game even the people who sit on the bench win too. Just for being part of the team. If we could just manage to keep that thought in the front of our minds always then wouldn't our whole life reflect it? Shouldn't our whole life reflect it? So where's my joy? I guess somewhere along the way I stuffed it into a box and taped it closed.

I'm not talking about having a good time, laughing, etc. I'm talking about the joy that comes from deep within. The joy that comes with being confident in who you are as a follower of Christ. My place in heaven is sealed. I am a daughter of the Lord of lords, the King of kings. My crown and my mansion await me.

Time to go find that box.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

And Satan strikes back

just when you think you can claim a victory, he comes in like a lion.

My New Favorite

I've been highly anticipating the new David Crowder*Band CD entitled "Remedy", which FINALLY dropped today. I called two different stores to find it then rushed right out to get it - paying retail because I didn't have a coupon. But no matter, it was worth the $15.01 I spent. My favorite so far is the title song. Great lyrics, but you gotta hear it set to music, oh - my - gosh!


Here we are
Here we are
The broken and used
Mistreated, abused
Here we are

Here You are
Here You are
The beautiful one
Who came like a Son
Here You are

So we lift up our voices
We open our hands
To cling to the love
That we can't comprehend

Oh, lift up your voices
And lift up your heads
To sing of the love
That has freed us from sin

He is the one
Who has saved us
He is the one
Who embraced us
He is the one who has come
And is coming again
He's the remedy

Here we are
Here we are
Bandaged and bruised
Awaiting a cure
Here we are

Here You are
Here You are
Our beautiful King
Bringing relief
Here You are with us

So we lift up our voices
And open our hands
Let go of the things
That have kept us from Him

He is the one
Who has saved us
He is the one
Who forgave us
He is the one who has come
And is coming again
He's the remedy

Oh, I can't comprehend
I can't take it all in
Never understand
Such perfect love come
For the broken and beat
For the wounded and weak
Oh, come fall at His feet
He's the remedy
He's the remedy

So sing, sing

You are the one
Who has saved us
You are the one
Who forgave us
You are the one who has come
And is coming again
Oh, to make it alright
You're the remedy
Oh, in us
You're the remedy

Let us be the remedy
Let us bring the remedy

Such a great song.

I love to open up the liner notes and study every detail about the CD. This one didn't let me down. There's a section that reads: "Where there is pain. . . let us bring serenity. For those afraid, let us be brave. Where there is misery, let us bring relief. Let us be the remedy." Also one that reads: "When clouds veil the sun and disaster comes. . . Remedy is coming."

Also of interest, "Additional Musicians: Ted Nugent"

Can't wait to listen to the WHOLE thing - over and over and over.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

These are my peeps

(Disclaimer: Better grab yourself a cup of joe before you start reading, 'cause this is gonna be a long one!)

The last several months I've been on a long ride downward, mentally speaking. A few of you reading this know this for sure, mostly because I have a big mouth and I have to vent. (Thanks to you all who stuck with me and listened, listened, and then listened some more and then prayed, prayed and prayed some more!) I've been facing an inward battle, that of really low self-esteem, coupled with self-loathing and HUGE insecurity problems. I'm not sure when it started, but it came on fast and hard. Long story short(ish), I viewed myself as worth no value. I thought I was ugly, both outwardly and inwardly. I thought I was fat. I gained about ten pounds (fourteen at the biggest) when I stopped smoking last August. (August 4th was a year, yea for me!!) Since September of last year I've been feverishly trying everything I knew to lose the weight, from crash diets to obsessive workouts.

I'm not sure why my physical appearance bothered me so much, but it did. And then as I was gaining weight all of my closest friends were dropping weight, as though it was literally melting off their bodies. This was made worse by the fact that they weren't even trying to. UGGHHH!!

This all bothered me, but then it got worse: Suddenly I was very insecure with ALL of my friendships. Those friendships that were rock solid suddenly weren't, at least in my mind they weren't. This year for my birthday Paul invited my closest friends to dinner in my honor. I remember walking in the restaurant and TRULY believing that those women weren't there for me, they were there to see each other. My birthday was just an excuse for them to get together.

I'm writing all of this personal junk for one reason: to bring it into the light. If I admit all of this stuff then it has no power over me anymore. That's what I want the very most - for it all to lose its sting. I'm not looking for pity. I don't want you to think I'm a basket case. I just want to let go of it all.

Sunday September 9th, 2007 was a turning point.

I was feeling like I had broken through most of this stuff, like I had finally loosened the rope with the heavy rock around my neck just in time to come up for air before drowning. But then in one last attempt Satan took aim and struck yet again. But it didn't work this time. I won't get into the specifics, only because it would be an even longer story, but I will tell you some. I was feeling quite badly about myself at church that morning and again was obsessing over my friendships. After service I ran into a friend and managed to mutter a "How are you?" The response I got wasn't a bit believable, so I pressed for the truth. What she said next absolutely broke through my pity. If I was drowning she was the one who, unbeknownst to her, had just thrown out the BIGGEST life vest. That single conversation ended months of pain, sorrow and tears.

Thank you Rachel.

Now that I feel this desert season has ended I can look back and see what was gained. God spoke so much to me. I feel I got a lot of big revelations, most of which I blogged about at different times. I'm so thankful we have such a loving God. Even in times of hardship He teaches us. And he uses it all to His glory.

Anyway, all of this self-reflection has made me think about who I am. Who I want to be. If I feel like I'm not getting what I need in my friendships then I have to believe that the road is a two-way street. So what do you need from me that I'm not giving you? This has been my prayer, that I can love you all how YOU need to be loved, not how I need to be loved. So this is my intention, to give you what you need from me. I have made it a determination to ask each of you that question. But also it's made me think of each of you and what you mean to me. So I've decided I need to tell you. Right now. I don't want to wait. I want you to know NOW what you mean to me. I don't want to read it as a eulogy later. (God willing it will be decades and decades from now for each of us.)

So here goes. Please know that if you're not on this list it's not because I don't love you dearly. And it's not my intention to hurt anyone or leave anyone out. Jesus had his "favorite 12" but I'm sure he considered many more than that his friend. These are my peeps, the ones I spend most my days with, and I want them to know how I feel. It's kinda like your kids, you love them so much, but sometimes in totally different ways - not one more than the other. So please accept this for what it is, a gift I give to each of you. You can decide to untie the ribbons and open it, or you can reject it and think I'm a total nut job. Let me know which one you chose. (P.S. -- these are in alphabetical order!)

Vallorie B. -- You've known me longer than my husband has. We were the best of friends at a time in my life where I really needed to know I was worth loving. Gosh, we had some great times, didn't we? Remember when we took the hoopty van to KC for some Taco Bell?!?! Then got busted 'cause Amy forgot her cup in the back. You knew me in my "age of innocence". We may have let eight years pass without so much as a word between us, but you will always be someone special to me.

Jennifer C. -- Nine years we've been friends. EVERYTHING has changed in our lives since we first met. You befriended me at a time when God stood silent in my heart, and loved me warts and all. Some of those warts have been removed, but even more still remain. You've never made me feel like I wasn't loved for exactly who I am. I miss all those smoke breaks, sitting on the stairs of the Epic Center on beautiful days, wishing we were anywhere but at work. I look forward to December, standing next to you as you give your heart to the one you love.

Wendy G. -- You are one of the most amazing women I've ever met in my life. I have looked on in horror as the enemy has tried his best to kill you, and watching you emerge victorious from that has changed my life forever. You are a rock of a person with more fortitude than I will ever think to have. Thank you for always turning me back to God when I go astray. Your friendship means so much to me. You make me want to be a better person. Remember the Fall Fest when we jumped in the moonwalk together? You made me laugh so hard.

Lacy H. -- You have more will power and self-control than I have ever known one person to have. I envy that about you. I love that you're always so steadfast in everything you do. Thank you for having patience with me, and for your endless knowledge on strengthening and developing our physical bodies for the glory of Christ. Our "practice" run together last winter was a memory I won't soon forget. Thanks for never telling me how slow I really was. We share so many like experiences from our childhood that I feel a "oneness" with you. You understand where I've come from, which is priceless to me.

Rachel K. -- How a couple of years has changed us both. I will never forget that day in Purpose class when you opened up about a problem you were having. That was the first time that I knew for sure we were friends. You and I share so many personality traits - I love it! Your sense of humor always keeps me laughing. You are one heck of a prayer warrior, I always feel safe from harm when I know you're praying for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for opening up to me. Please know you're not alone, ever.

Maria M. -- It feels like years. You have become more than a best friend, you are my family. I'll never forget the first time you told me that I was your best friend. I hope I still am. I hope I will always be. Remember the scripture I put in a card? "There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends." 1 Samuel 18:1. If friends had a life verse, that would be mine to you. I can't imagine my life without you. Thank you for loving me, never judging me, always encouraging me. I aspire to be the woman you are - kind, gentle, patient. I can't wait to do more silly things with you -- remember the water slides in Withrow Springs?!

Stephanie W. -- You're such a great friend to me. Thank you for holding your tongue so much. Come on, I know there are times you just wanna tell me what an idiot I'm being! You are the kind of person I can be thirteen with again -- completely silly. We can talk about things that I think others would look down upon me for. Thanks for being blunt and candid, I LOVE our frank discussions. You're a great friend.

Okay, so I think I'm done now. I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading my self-imposed counseling session.

Now you know my peeps. Pretty great, aren't they?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Waiting For My Wedding Day

I live in a military town. McConnell Air Force Base is right here in Wichita. That being the case, chances are if you live in this town you know at least ONE person that is active military. In our case, Paul and I are friends with a couple where the husband is in the Air Force, stationed at McConnell. Because I want to give them their due privacy, I will refer to them as "Collin" and "Anna". They are both very dear friends to us. In the two or three years we've known them Collin has been deployed twice for long periods of time. I believe the first time it was a little over six months that he was serving in Iraq. The second time he spent around four months in Honduras. Anna amazes me each time with her pure strength to get through that kind of time without having her husband. Can you imagine? Let me paint a picture for you, but mind you this is MY perception of what it must be like, not Anna's.

For six months I cannot touch my husband. I cannot hug him. I cannot kiss him. I cannot hold his hand. I cannot lay eyes on him. We can't exchange knowing glances at one another. When I talk to him on the phone I can only have twenty or thirty minutes of his time. I miss his laughter. Six months. Maybe longer. A year, eighteen months? I put my life on hold.

And I must do everything for myself. Mow the yard, or in the winter shovel the drive. Take the trash out. Gas up my vehicle. Kiss our kids good night. Every spur of the moment decision that must be made I must make, without consulting my husband.

It makes my heart ache.

To pass the time I must mark down the days on a calendar. 180 days to go. . .

Every time the phone rings I jump to get it, it might be him!! Every time I log on to the computer I wait anxiously to see if there's an e-mail there. Every day I trek to the mail box my heart is hopeful to see his handwriting.

My days are filled with thoughts of him. Memories we've shared. Vacations we've taken, quiet times we've spent in our bed talking about our days. Sharing inside jokes. Taking the kids out for ice cream. I long for him, yearn for him. I love him so much that I think my heart might explode.

And then the day comes, he comes home. I go to the airport to welcome him. I wait with arms wide open to greet him. Can you imagine the homecoming? To be wrapped in your husband's arms once more? To bury your face in his chest after so long of being alone?

You've got the idea, right? Now put yourself in this position. Does your heart ache too?

I was thinking about all these things the other day. Really I guess I should say that the Lord was speaking to me about all these things.

Then the bombshell:

"Jamie, why don't you think of me as your deployed husband?"

The Bible tells us that Christ is our husband. What's more, it tells us that we are his bride. And that some day he's coming back, coming home. Do we long for that day? Do we count down to the time of his return? Do we look at the Bible as his love letter to us? Do we long to know every detail about him?

If my heart aches thinking about my earthly husband in this way then shouldn't it ache even more so for my heavenly husband?

The Bible also tells us that we are to love Christ even above our own husbands. Hmm. If I were to really, truly practice that then shouldn't I be spending more time with him? Listening to Him, talking to Him, learning about who He is and what He wants from me, what He wants me to be.

If I didn't speak to Paul for an entire day wouldn't it offend him? What if I went longer? But yet we do this to Christ. Or if we do speak to Him is it for more than five or ten minutes a day?

If my husband really did leave for six months at a time I wouldn't dare forget that he was my husband, right? I mean, I know he'll be back. I wouldn't be unfaithful to him. But don't we do that with Jesus? We know he's coming back for us, but we fail to make him a priority. We don't dwell on his love for us. Instead, we find new loves. Our love's name is: Money, Greed, Idolatry, whatever the case may be for you. We prostitute ourselves for the love of something else. And all the while our husband, Christ, is remaining steadfast. Counting down the days until he can return to his bride.

So tell me, is your husband deployed? How will you spend your time until he returns?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Who's YOUR hero?!

Have you ever had a moment where you're in awe of your kids? I recently had one of those moments with Payge. I guess I should start by saying that oftentimes I feel completely under qualified as a parent, and I truly mean that. It's such a daunting task sometimes, especially in the "spiritual raising" of children. I know that God has called me to teach my children His ways, as it says in Proverbs 22:6: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." I've known this scripture for many years, but if you really think about what that means, well, it's a tall order. I want my children to be more than me, to know more than me, but how do you teach that when you don't know what you don't know and you can't be what you're not?

I pray for my children daily, and it usually goes like this: "God, give them the wisdom of Solomon. Open their minds to knowledge. Lord, I pray prosperity over them, prosperity in wealth, prosperity in relationships, prosperity in friendships, prosperity in wisdom, prosperity in understanding. I pray for them to be like Jonathan was to David, and I pray that they have a Jonathan to depend on. I pray protection of their minds, I pray protection over them physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually." Just a tidbit, but you get the idea. I tell them everyday when I drop them off to remember that God is with them, and if they run into trouble they should ask Him what to do. I tell them to help their friends, and if their friends are unkind I tell them to show their friends Christ through how they respond.

But in all my prayers I forget one thing, one very, very important thing. "Lord, I pray that they will witness to anyone, any chance they get."

How could I forget that? It was, after all, Christ's last words to his disciples. It is, after all, the Great Commission. We are, after all, supposed to do this every day, every chance we get. How does that go unnoticed?

But God gives me hope, above all. Which brings me to the point of this story.

When the girls come home with their dad in the afternoons I commence the questioning: "How was school today? Anything exciting happen? How much homework do you have?" Usually it's pretty typical stuff, but one day last week Payge surprised me. She told me that they have a project to do that kind of let's everybody know who you are to the rest of the class. It's a big piece of paper with questions they are to answer, like "What's your favorite subject?" "What pets do you own?" That kind of stuff. One question is "Who is your hero? Tell us in a paragraph" Payge's teacher went around the room and asked each student who their hero is. When he got to Payge he said, "Payge, who is your hero?" And with absolutely no hesitation she replied, "Jesus is my hero." She said his eyes got really big and he said, "Good answer Payge!"

I couldn't believe her answer. No Hillary Duff? No Gabriella Montez from High School Musical?

My heart raced. She really said that in front of the class?! I have to admit that when I was her age I would not have had the courage to say it, never mind the fact that Jesus probably wouldn't have even entered my mind.

This weekend she wrote her paragraph to back up the statement. She astonished me even more. "Mommy, I need my Bible so I can look up scripture." WHHAAATTT? Yeah, she put scripture in. John 3:16 to be exact. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Her paragraph ended with "Spread the word to everyone."

This really convicted me in how I live my life. Typically I stand on the famous words of Saint Francis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel on a daily basis, and if necessary use words." I have to say that for the most part I do not use words, but I can tell you that thanks to my ten year old, I'm going to start. So, who's YOUR hero? Today, mine is JESUS. And Payge.

First day of school pictures!

Before school:

After school (doing homework)!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Before their dream world came crashing down

As the summer drew to a close our house was in a flurry of activity, trying to squeeze out the last drops of lazy days, sleeping late, and the carefree attitudes we had all enjoyed this summer. One such activity was a "Back to School" jewelry party that Payge and Kate threw for their friends. They were excited to enjoy a creative activity with girls they hadn't seen since May (and a few they had seen). We enjoyed making bracelets or anklets, eating pizza and cupcakes, and of course some giggles. It was a lot of fun, but I must thank Maria for sticking around to help me out, it would have been way more stress for me if you hadn't, so thanks Maria!

Here are the little ladies showing off their beautiful creations:

On the last day of summer we were invited to a "Back to School Bash" thrown by Samuel and Maci McKinley. Debbie is so creative, she set up her backyard with multiple "stations" for the kids to enjoy, almost all of which had to do with water. The favorite by far was the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath. As you can see from the pictures, they all had a blast!!

Here's the kids sitting still long enough to enjoy a snack:

Paige and Payge, or as they are lovingly referred to, Little Paige and Big Payge:

Another recent outing was a trip to the Wichita Art Museum. I'm embarrased and ashamed to say that this was my first trip there, despite the fact that I've lived in this town for almost exactly nine years (this month will officially mark our 9 year anniversary of being Kansans). Maria and I loaded up our children early that morning, but decided to take the scenic forty-five minute trip through Wichita to get there. (For those who don't know, it normally would take no more than fifteen minutes). I guess we were chatting too much, because before we knew it we had missed our turn, which happened approximately two or three times!! So despite our early departure, we were only able to spend about an hour and a half at the museum. We decided we'd have to make a return trip soon. Anyway, the museum has a fairly large area for the children to play, so we spent most the time there. The girls put on a split second puppet show:

Here are my girls making some art of their own:

And finally, proof that we were actually at an art museum. This is a glass sculpture that hangs in one of the main areas of the museum:

So there's a sampling of what we've been doing this summer. Here's the biggest kick in the pants to me as a mom; when you ask my children what they did this summer they will inevitably tell you "Nothing really, just mainly watched TV and stayed at home." AHHHHH, whaaaattt?!?!?! Seriously, I heard Kate telling this to someone. Of course I had to set her straight. Besides the three activities listed, this summer we: went to vacation bible school, visited the local library for books and videos (on a weekly basis!), vacationed at the lake, spent a week with Grandma, hosted Jenny, Ben & Isabelle for a week, had multiple sleepovers, went to the zoo a couple of times AND took classes at the YMCA (rock climbing and gymnastics)!!!! Gesh, all I ever did during the summer when I was a kid was to watch TV and stay at home! (It's a joke, get it?!?!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Apparently we live on Zuckerman's farm. . .

. . . because Charlotte has moved in. The past week or so we have had a nightly visitor in the corner of our sliding glass door. I'll admit that I'm more than a little frightened when I open the door to let the dogs in and out, because she sets her web up right at eye level. It makes my scalp tingle when I see her there. At first I was trying to convince Paul to kill it. Now, I'm not normally so mean when it comes to creatures, but here's my train of thought:

1) when/if it comes into the house will it bite me while I'm sleeping?!

2) when/if it has a million little babies will they come in and bite me when I'm sleeping?!

3) when/if it or it's babies bite me while I'm sleeping will it get infected?!

4) when/if it or it's babies bites me and it gets infected will I have to go to the hospital?!

5) when/if it or it's babies bites me and it gets infected and I have to go to the hospital will it be too late for them to save me?

6) when/if it or it's babies bites me and gets infected and I have to go to the hospital and it's NOT too late for them to save me will I end up with a staph infection that results in major life-long disabilities?!

You see my delimna. But I overcame my fear and let it live.

Paul managed to get some great shots the other night. When we viewed them on the computer I was more than a little surprised at what I saw. Take a look:

Do you see the cross on its back?!?!?! Now tell me there isn't a God in heaven.
"How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." -- Psalm 104:24

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My husband, the painted man

Okay, so we've all made a few mistakes in our lives, right? I know that a few of my mistakes have been permanent, but at least the mark they leave is in a more subtle, internal way. But what if they weren't? What if you had to wear one of your mistakes like a big "stupid badge" for everyone to see? And what if it looked like this:

This is my husband's left leg. Or at least it was, up until Tuesday night.

Paul was nineteen when he got this tattoo. It's a Rastafarian, which to my husband, or the boy my husband used to be, was symbolic of marijuana. Yeah, in his teen years he liked to do that sort of thing. (Insert praise to Jesus here for his power to change a person's life.)

Anyway, most people didn't know what this little running man stood for, so for years it wasn't a big deal. Except it became a big deal.

As most know, we volunteer our Wednesday nights to a ministry at our church by the name of ARISE. ARISE is for students 6th through 12th grades.

Add to that formula the fact that a band by the name of "Insane Clown Posse" uses an image identical to this little man, which they refer to as "hatchet man". A lot of the students that come to the ARISE ministry are familiar with this band. For those that don't know or aren't familiar with ICP I will tell you that they seem to promote some pretty disgusting things. Things that are so vile to me that I won't dignify them by posting any of they're lyrics. 'Nuff said.

So for the last couple of years Paul has had to explain time and time again that the image that he bears is NOT that of hatchet man. Most of the kids don't believe that.

I personally didn't think it was a big deal, until one day we were in line at a local restaurant when a complete stranger asked Paul the million dollar question: "Is that hatchet man on your leg?" To which another explanation had to be made. That's when it hit me that it was a big deal. I didn't want people thinking that. I finally understood what it must have felt like. I would be revolted if someone linked me to that band.

Paul has researched having this tattoo removed, but the cost prohibits that from happening. So for my husband a bigger, brighter light came on. "Why not cover it with a NEW tattoo?!?!"

He asked me what I thought and I was for it, with one condition. "Why don't you ask God what he wants you to cover it with?" It seems it didn't take the Lord long to answer that question.

So August 7th Paul went in for a new look. It took 5 hours, but the results are amazing. Here's my husband in the chair, with the very talented Duncan:

Here's the beginning stages, the outline:

And the finished product:

The tattoo is based off of Ephesians 6:10-18 which reads:

"10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Now no longer a mistake, but a tangible reminder of our task as followers of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Wrestling is ungodly Ignacio. People cheer for him... and he is a false idol."

This past weekend was a busy one, but I'll try to recap it for you. Paul and I started off for KC (again!) on Friday evening, after having an entire week to ourselves. It was a sad moment for us and a happy one. We had such a great time together without the girls -- long dinners out followed by leisurely walks through the local Barnes and Noble, spur-of-the-moment late night runs to Dairy Queen, you get the picture. But we were excited to see the kids again. Anyway, we reached his parents house at around 8:00 p.m. and surprised the girls. Kate spotted me peering in the kitchen window at her and gave me the biggest smile, and although I couldn't hear her, I saw her mouth the word "MOMMY!!". It was priceless.

We spent the night with his parents and caught up with them, which was great because we hadn't really spent any time with them since Christmas. (Way too long!). We ended up at the local mexican restaurant for dinner before heading out for Wichita again. Here's all of us enjoying our enchiladas and the like:

Here's what Kate typically does on the way home from KC:

And Payge:

And Paul and me:

We arrived home around 8:00ish Saturday night. The girls were so glad to be home after a week and a half of not sleeping in their own beds, being around their own things. The dogs were very, very excited to see them too.
Sunday morning we got up and managed to get to the early (9:30) service at church. The Koehn's invited us to lunch with Ryan and Jessica, a new couple to the church. Here's a pic of all of us at Old Chicago. (You'll notice Kate is missing, she was our photographer!):

After lunch we were off to the grocery store. I can't remember a time when I was out of every necessity (bread, milk, you know the stuff you can't do without). We were home long enough to recoup (a little) before we were off yet again. This time it was to the Koehn's house for their "Nacho Libre corn party". If you've never seen the movie, shame on you. It's hysterical. Here are some fun pics of the party:

New daddy James, Kenton, Paul and Duane (from left to right). Poor James, he looks like he's going to fall asleep right there at the table!! The rest of the boys are staring at the TV, as we were watching Nacho Libre.
Speaking of Nacho Libre, here's the real one:

And here's a pic of "little Nacho" being held by "Dave/Daddy Nacho":

And of course I can't forget the sisters from Oaxaca Parish Convent of the Immaculate Hearts Sisters Ladies Mountains of Guadalupe (Lacy, Me, Rachel with Baby Addie, Stephanie with Baby Kyle, and Maria, with Baby in Utero:

And the children (minus Judah, stinker wouldn't stay still long enough for me to catch him, and minus Norah, I think she was "in a bad place" at the time) Kate, Jena, Payge and Paige:

And for fun I'll throw in this pic of Maria and I being slightly goofy:

This is a pretty typical weekend for us. Of course we're not always in KC, but we are always going from one thing to the next. You know I wouldn't have it any other way though. And in case I haven't said it lately, I love my friends, they're much like Ramses -- "They're de best!"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

So a couple of weeks ago I had a milestone moment as a mother of girls; their very first tea party. My friend Debbie invited us over for a cup of afternoon tea. Debbie has quickly become an important fixture in my life, since she has taken on the daunting task of agreeing to be my mentor. (That's an entirely different blog altogether, so forgive me for not going into details.) Anyway, so Debbie's two nieces were in town from South Dakota. Lyndsey is ten (same as Payge) and Kelsey is nine (two years older than Kate). Since Debbie is a mom to four boys she was a little unsure of how to keep two little girls occupied, so she came up with the brilliant idea of having a tea party. My girls were soooooo excited about it, they could hardly wait until the afternoon had arrived. They put on their pretty sundresses and were slightly upset at the fact that we had no big, floppy hats to wear.

They'd never met Lyndsey or Kelsey, but they all became fast friends, which made me long for the days in my own childhood when ANY girl my age was my new best friend. At what point do we as women become judgmental and critical towards other women? Come on, I know you all have had to have those times where a beautiful woman walks in dressed to the nines and you think to yourself "I hate her."

I digress. Back to the tea party. Shortly after our arrival at Debbie's house they decided it was a good idea to play a board game, and so the Game of Life came out. Somehow Kate became a doctor minus a college education, bought a trailer home and then lost it all within the first ten minutes. (It made my worry slightly about her future when all three other girls opted to go to college, but not my Kate.)

After the Game of Life ended (abruptly I might add, I guess they got bored) we decided to have that cup of tea. My girls now believe Debbie to be the best tea maker around, since it was mostly milk and sugar. They drank their tea and giggled. Lyndsey and Kelsey had worked hard on the refreshments, which were wonderful little peppermint balls and strawberry marshmallows, yum! Here's a picture of the tea drinking ladies:

After the tea was gone the girls played some more, exchanged addresses and promises to be pen pals, and then we were on our way. I know it was an afternoon they'll remember for a long time, as will I. I realized how fast they're growing up and prayed that they'll stay "BFF" for a few more years.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Proverbs 31 woman? Well I have my days. . .

My new business cards just came in. I suddenly feel more professional. Paul pointed out that now I can drop them in the little fish bowls at restaurants to enter in their drawing for free food -- I am so on my way to Chipotle!!!! Here's a preview of what they look like, but don't worry, I'll probably be shoving them in your face when I see you. Anyway, take a look:

On another note, I just finished sewing curtains for the kitchen. I ordered this fabric online at my new favorite fabric store, Dillinger Fabrics. This is the fabric:

The name of the fabric is called "Pez".
Here's a pic of my finished product. I ordered enough for full curtains, but Paul said he thought it would be cool if I just did half curtains. I had enough left to make a table cloth. Here's the pics of both:

I totally felt like Martha Stewart that day, because while I was making curtains and tablecloths homemade banana bread was baking in the oven.

For those who don't know the Proverbs 31 reference, here is the passage:

10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her

and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax

and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,

bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;

she provides food for her family

and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;

out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;

her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,

and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff

and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor

and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;

she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,

where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,

and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;

she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,

and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,

but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,

and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

So between the business cards and the sewing and the baking I feel I totally rock.

(Okay, so nevermind the fact that most days I totally suck at everything and feel like the Proverbs 31 passage is like a noose around my neck.)

Today is a good day, and I will take it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Okay, so I'm probably dating myself with this one. I just got back from my "mini-vacation". So I'm thinking about how to describe my last five days and Ferris Bueller came to mind. If you've ever seen the movie, (it came out in 1986, what?!) you remember that Ferris took one day off from school and managed to do about thirty different activities in an eight hour span.

Thus was my vacation.

Teacher: (taking attendance) Bueller?....... Bueller?.......Bueller?

Girl: Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.

The girls and I left Wichita at noon on Wednesday and headed for south central Missouri, destination: Lake of the Ozarks and my little sis, Jessy. The drive to her house was good, with only a few pit stops. One of which was to stop and admire an old church that sits off 54 highway. It sits alone in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful.

We finally arrived in Osage Beach around 6:00ish. We had Jessy meet us at the outlet mall (convenient, don't you think?!) so she could lead us to her house. She lives on the lake and the drive into her house is so confusing I litterally need her to guide me in.

We spent the next couple of days swimming, sun bathing, boating, jet skiing and relaxing. She took us into town one night so we could enjoy the good eats at The Pasta House. The rest of the time we spent in the seclusion of the wooded hills with a great view of the lake from her deck. I enjoyed sipping my morning coffee on her patio funiture, gazing at the lake. Thanks for everything Jessy! She and Rodney looked great, life at the lake really agrees with her:

Saturday morning we woke up early and headed out. The next stop was to head north three and a half hours to Chilicothe, Missouri. This was a special part of the trip for me, to see my nearly 93 year old great-grandmother, the girls' great-great-grandmother. We spent the time catching up and taking pics for the scrapbooks. Here's one:

My grandma, the girls' great-grandmother, is the one standing behind us. My great-grandmother, the girls' great-great-grandmother, is seated next to us.

After a couple of hours in Chilicothe it was time to move on. This time we headed west to Kansas City. A quick pit stop at my older sister's house along with a quick dinner at the Pizza Shoppe, (thanks Jenny!) and we were off to Paul's parents' house. The girls are spending the week with his mom and dad, so it was my duty to drop them off. After an hour visit with them it was time for me to head southwest to Wichita. I left Platte City at 8:30 p.m., anxiously awaiting my stop in Emporia and the local Starbucks. When I arrived at 10:30 p.m. they were closed. I was nearly devastated. After I recomposed myself I continued on in the dark to Wichita and my husband. Finally at 11:30 p.m. I was home again. Thirteen hours,850 miles, and two regretable meals at McDonald's later.
Sloan: What are we going to do?

Ferris: The question isn't "what are we going to do," the question is "what aren't we going to do?"

Cameron: Please don't say were not going to take the car home. Please don't say were not going to take the car home. Please don't say were not going to take the car home.

I'm glad I got away for a few days to see some faces and spend some time with my girls, but I'm really glad I took the car home.