March 29, 2006

Ode to Paint

Ode to paint

Apple green, apple green,
I love to paint things apple green...
it looks so clean,
with satin sheen,
oh how I love this apple green..

I paint it on my ceiling
I paint it in the bath
And when I’m done
I look to see my children shake and laugh

Cuz as I’m painting to and fro
I splatter paint on hair and clothes
On my glasses, up my nose
Even green on my pink toes

I’ll paint it in each of my rooms
You may say, she is writing on fumes!
But I say, Oh no
I just love it so…
Oh, this green with it's sheen,
It's so keen

Tomorrow I will paint with brown
And I’ll think of rhymes and write them all down

March 27, 2006

Seeds We've Sown

Oh, I love posts like this one, over at my daughter Hannah's blog. I love it when God actually shows you the results of something that you had a hand a gardener who sows the seed after the last frost and gets to enjoy the beautiful blooms in July.

Here is an exerpt from her post:

During high school I was a leader/teacher for Teamkids at our church. I did it for quite a while actually, and I loved it. It was a huge outreach for a lot of kids in our town who needed it a lot. We always hoped it would be for the parents too. There was one family with three kids that came for a while, then moved to Flag. These children were pretty little, I think the oldest was 7. The two younger boys were.. they made me smile. a lot. Dey taltet lite dis (they talked like this), and every week when we'd pick them up on the van one of them would be in raptures with this bright green car we'd pass. he called it the "too fast too fuwious tar. it's so tool Miss Hannah!" They also reeked of marijuana every time they got on.

I went to a service at a church I don't normally go to tonight with a few of my friends (yea I finally went. I've been telling my friend Mike I'd go for a few months now... but now I have so it's alright.) Well, I was sitting there talking to someone, and guess who comes in? The kids AND their mom! I almost started to cry I was so excited to see them in church. I talked to the pastor afterwards and found out they'd been coming for a while, and their mom had been baptized that morning.. their dad has even come a few times.. and the kids remembered me!! Praise God, their mom knows Jesus now! What a party in heaven. Well, it made me very happy. Just another reminder that God knows how to take care of people, and I can trust Him with them.

Beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News.....thanks Hannah!!

March 26, 2006

My Bible's Sojourn

I love my Bible.

It’s not just any Bible, it’s mine. It is like an extension of me….. even resembles my personality! I got it almost 16 years ago on my birthday from my husband. It is hard cover bound, so after a year or so, when it started to show its wear, I got a grey tapestry zippered cover for it. Now, after 16 years of use (I wish I could say daily use, but I’m not that disciplined) it has totally come undone from its hard cover, it is dog-eared and has little coffee stains on it. It also serves as a filing cabinet for an assortment of church bulletins and scraps of paper of all kinds, some pamphlets on becoming a Christian and one on grief, along with a few bookmarks (one from a missionary friend in Togo) and momentos.

Almost all of the bulletins and scraps of paper have Bible study notes scribbled on them. They are notes from sermons, conferences, Bible study classes, retreats and personal study. I never plan to take notes…simply because I don’t plan ahead very well, so the notes have to be put down on anything that has a margin to write in….it helps me to listen better, putting it down on paper. I may never look at that paper again or understand what it means if I did look at it, but I learn best through my eyes. So when I write something down while listening, my brain absorbs it better. (may sound complicated, but it’s just a brain thing)

I have thought about getting a new Bible many, many times (because I’m so embarrassed by it’s condition), but I just can’t give this one up. It’s familiar and comfortable to me. I may use another translation once in a while for study or contemplation, but this one is comfortable in my hands. I can find things more easily and have many important little notes jotted in the margins.

So when I came home from our ladies’ retreat, then moved into this new house and I couldn’t find my Bible, I was a little worried. I had a full scale search going through the house, drawers, boxes, cabinets, shelves, cars. I asked some friends who I had ridden with if they could look in their cars. I called my friend who’s house we stayed at during the move to see if she had found it.

Nothing….it was gone….=(

I got out my old Bible from my teen and college years and used it. It was actually my mom’s Bible before it was mine and it has her name embosses on the front. It is also hard bound, but has fake leather-looking material on it that is now crunchy feeling with age….ew. I enjoyed using it, finding my old study notes from those years, learning from my home church pastor, youth retreats, college conferences and classes.

Because I had about given up on finding it, I began looking through the CBD catalog for a new Bible.

Then a little over a week ago, I got a phone call….

“Hello, is this Christie L***?”

“Yes,” I said, thinking it was yet another phone solicitor targeting new move ins.

“You don’t know me, but I have your Bible. And I’m in New York.”

*picture me here with my mouth hanging open and starting to laugh in amazement*

It turns out that my Bible had slipped under the front seat of the moving truck and stowed away, undetected, until it arrived in upstate New York! (funny thing is, I never stepped foot in that moving truck, so I don’t know how it got there) She told me that she had been cleaning out the truck after moving from Phoenix to New York and had thrown away some things, like a few clothing items (which solved a mystery Emma was having about some missing clothing) but when she came across the Bible, she opened it and began leafing through it. Now, you could leaf through my Bible for days without coming up for air, it’s just that way, what with all the notes and cool stuff to look at. And that is just what she did! She apologized for going through my things, but I said I didn’t mind at all. I was glad she enjoyed it and I was so excited that she actually took the time to look for me! After reading various notes, she decided she had to find me. So with just my name and my husband’s name, and knowing we might be in the Phoenix area, she tracked us down. She thanked me for leaving that Bible in the truck and said it had ministered so much to her. Some of the notes were exactly what she needed to hear and encouraged her to get closer to the Lord again and to find a church. (WOW) Then she asked if she could keep it for a few more days, so that she could copy down some of the notes….of course I said yes. I was so amazed that a simple ‘mistake’ (and result of my frenetic disorganization) could turn out bringing someone closer to God. It was all masterfully orchestrated.

My Bible went on a mission trip!!

The last thing I had put in my file…er, Bible….was the notes from the ladies’ retreat I had been on with this new church, the same weekend we were moving. So I pretty much new the notes she was talking about. They were just what I had needed to hear too at the retreat. They were the notes from the Bible studies on Joseph’s life….about how God uses the hard things in our lives to develop deeper character. Then He uses the stronger character in us to serve Him in greater ways. It was a God-inspired type of Bible study that Jan Shrader had led that weekend, and its influence was felt across the country!

When I saw the mailman at my door the other day, holding a large mailing envelope, I knew it was my Bible. I tore it open to find out if there was a letter or anything in it to find out more about this woman who had shared some of my very personal notes. There was no letter, but she had put inside the cover a brand new note pad! Maybe she is one of those well prepared people and likes things organized, so my ‘system’ probably had her shaking her head. Ha…=)

I am so glad to have my Bible back…..but I am so glad to have ‘lost’ it for a while. It did good work.

Buff for Mayor....Woof!

Ok, maybe you've read my post on living in Small Town USA, but here is something new. My daughter informed me that our former town just had an interesting election. The current mayor ran for re-election and there was only one other candidate, a dog named Buff.

Only in a small town!

She is no ordinary dog though. Buff is a town icon. She is owned by Scott, the local photoshop owner/photographer in Williams. Almost every day you can find Scott and a handful of other downtown Williams shop owners having lunch at Pine Country Restaurant, including Buff. Yeah, Buff goes everywhere Scott goes, no leash, just faithful friend. (he does leave the dog outside for church though) Everyone in Williams knows Scott and Buff.

The news in Phoenix even had a report on it.

Congratulations Buff! Even though she didn't win, she did manage to get about a quarter of the votes. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

March 25, 2006

The Line

We rented Walk the Line, a movie about Johnny Cash's life the other day and our house was booming like a low-rider with Charles’ new surround sound cranked as we watched it. It’s an excellent movie…..and just as depressing as it should be. It is a battle between good and evil. The battle is played out in almost every character’s life as the movie pulses on. In the beginning, crossing the line of sin is flirted with, and then dived right into. But as the story progresses each character’s agonizing battle is portrayed very well….including adultery, drug and alcohol abuse, bitterness, family neglect and pride.

It is so elusive these days.....this line of right and wrong. Often there are no visible lines in our American way of life. But here is a very good starting place

March 20, 2006


Have you ever felt like you can't handle one more thing on your plate...or in your head?

I feel that way this past week.

The moving is over, we're all settled in, things are put away. But settling into a new routine, and trying to get used to a new schedule of events is maddening to me. By personality, I am an ESFP. I don't do stress very well or big responsibilities or organizing. And here I am, trying to do my best to get used to new organization in my life.

The ESFP under a great deal of stress gets overwhelmed with negatives thoughts and possibilities.

Sunday was about my last straw. It was fun having our friends from Williams here for church, having an old friend we knew in New Jersey here to visit while searching for homes. (they are moving here in June!) And I think I could have handled that part. But my husband and 3 of my daughters were leaving on a mission trip to Mexico right after the service. I was frantically trying to keep track of our visitors and make plans for later in the day, all while answering about a hundred questions from my family and trying to take orders for what to get them from Taco Bell.

I totally lost track of our friend from New Jersey. I never saw him again after Taco Bell. Maybe he gave up trying to follow me around. This is why I never take positions of leadership. It makes me nuts.......NUTS! People should never trust me to be organized or to be in charge of things.

I was concerned about getting home to meet the pool guy from church who was going to install a new vacuum thingie in our dirty, neglected was raining...did I mention it was raining during all of this? I usually love the rain, but this day it was just tapping on my brain like a very annoying fingernail....taptaptaptaptaptaptap.....ha! I was ready to either burst into tears or maniacal laughter.

I think I am pre-menopausal...did I mention that? (for the past 2 months...pms off and on unpredictably creeping up on me)

Well, the day did settle down after the really cool new pool sweeper thingie was installed and I went to get my niece to come spend the night, since it was just me and Maggie. I put a movie on for the girls in my bedroom and put on my comfy jammies and huddled on the couch for the rest of the evening.....and into the wee hours of the morning actually.

When Charles is away, I usually stay up late, so that I can fall asleep easily. I got a little carried away playing Sudoku online and before I knew it, it was 2am. I fell completely and soundly asleep until I heard knocking at my front door at 8something am. It was the city water department. My head did that little freaking out feeling...I think it's a rush of adrenaline squirting out into your brain or something. I had forgotten that the city was going to turn off our water today to fix a leak in the main in front of our house. heh heh Well, he was warning me that we had 20 minutes before the water was shut off.

Fast gear for me is pretty frenetic....I started rushing around to get my shower taken and pots filled with water so we could wash hands and have water to use. Not a very good way to start off a day that you thought was going to be recuperative from a stressful weekend! So after I fixed the girls their oatmeal with apples and did some morning chores…..

… mom called to remind me that she had something that needed to go to the medical lab today for my dad's testing. (Don’t you love these stories that just seem to go on and on, piling events up til they reach the sky?) Still in high gear from that early (for me) morning adrenaline shot, I packed up the kids and took them to my sister’s house while I ran my mom’s errand, grabbing the phone book on the way out, thinking I might stop by a used furniture store to look for bedroom furniture that we’ve been talking about. At my sister’s we made a list (what a concept!!) of consignment furniture stores from the phone book and I made a plan of attack, noting from 1-6 the most convenient order in which to visit them and make a quick trip of it while she watched Maggie for me.

Arriving at my mom’s, I got the directions to the medical lab, all the information for my dad’s medical history, my mom’s power of attorney papers, his insurance card and the ‘things’ I needed to drop off. And I got another errand….they urgently needed some things from the store….uh, the maniacal laughter with a side of hair pulling almost kicked in.

I got the deeds done in short order (see reference to adrenaline squirting into my head) and may I just say here that it’s really a weirdly humiliating feeling to purchase two large bags of Depends undergarments in a busy Walgreens while being waited on my a 20something woman and being looked over the shoulder by a 30something man. Oiy! I arrived to find my mom having a hard time with my dad. (for reference, my dad has dementia and chronic bladder and kidney problems and my mom recently had hip replacement surgery) So I stayed a while and made them lunch and got them all settled before snatching my leave to run my quick errands.

Most of the shops had the usual assortment of old fashioned and over priced furniture, but I did happen upon a bed stand and a dresser that were just what we needed! (after I prayed desperately for the Lord to help this trip on such a busy day profitable) I enjoyed the time out by myself with no one to distract me from my task….i.e. Maggie. (she’s so sweet and fun, but so talkative and distracting when you’re on a mission!)

I am home now….Charles called to say he and Hannah are headed home from Mexico (about 3 hours drive)…reheated leftovers for dinner and am comfy on my couch blogging away about my burdens.

I can feel them lifting away. I’m relieved to have my friendly husband coming home tonight, along with my girl Hannah, who is home on Spring Break, to have new bedroom furniture to look forward to installing, and to be ever so close to my bedtime!

March 17, 2006


My internet friend, BJ (a minister no less), wrote this true story. With his permission, I want to reprint it here for you. (He’s nuts by the way…this is nothing unusual)

Okay so I go to the supermarket after chat this afternoon and when I was done I started out to my car which was about 100 yards away on the parking lot ...

I have my remote keyless entry in my hand and I pushed the pop the trunk button and the trunk obligingly opened. Unfortunately, just as I popped it, this lady was walking by ...

She startled a little at the trunk popping open. There wasn't anyone around her and she looked both ways and then she reached up and shut my trunk. I thought "Why did she do that?" so I pushed the trunk button again and the woman, again looks both ways and shuts my trunk...

So I popped it open again and she reaches up and slams it down really hard, so I pushed the panic button, which honks the horn and flashes the lights, and I guess she thought she had sat off my car alarm, and she started running back and forth like one of those targets in an arcade shooting game, and then she RAN to her car and got in and drove away really fast ...

By this time I was laughing so hard I could hardly finish walking to the car.

March 16, 2006

Meme as in scheme

I did a meme tonight.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. A meme (it’s either pronounced meem or meemee, I prefer meemee, it’s cute) is an internet questionnaire, which is circulated on blogs or in email. The purpose of these fun little thought provoking questionnaires is that you get to know new things about people you thought you knew. Tonight there was one on a blog I’ve recently been skulking around on, Holy Mama. This lady is hilarious! You’ve got to check her out…er, her blog, don’t be weird.

Here’s the meme. (I won’t ask anyone to give answers, cuz I am not sure anyone reads this!)

1. secret talent
2. if you have a blog and a spouse, does the spouse read the blog?
3. fruit or chocolate
4. eye color
5. ranking 1-10 of overall life satisfaction

1. Secret talent: I animate stuffed kids all thought their special stuffed animals were really talking to them til they got older. I just know what they are thinking and say it...well, I say it in their voice. ;) I also like to make up songs with lots of silly rhymes. My kids hate dog loves it!
2. He used to read it but he hasn't made any comments lately. I will have to find out....somehow. Maybe I should threaten to write something terribly embarrassing about him if he doesn’t leave me a comment in the next few days. hmmmmmm
3. Chocolate please. I made a fresh strawberry pie for dinner (had company) and I was wishing the whole time we were eating it that I'd made something chocolate.
4. Hazel: green/brown
5. EIGHT....kinda exciting after a recent move, making new friends, decorating a new house, etc etc, but at the same time it’s a lot of work and lonely at times. (I really miss my Williams friends.)

March 14, 2006

A Living Legacy

When I think about people who have died and gone on before us, my memories of them are tied to something about their life. For some it may be what career they were in, if I knew them at church it may be what their role was in the church (teacher, preacher, hostess, cleaner upper, organizer, leader, singer, encourager), but usually I think of people in terms of who their family was and especially their children. If we're a parent, we leave a living legacy of who we were and what we've passed on.

So when I was trying to think of what beauty there was in my life, specifically tied to me as a person, (not the beauty I see around my life, there is plenty of that!) I automatically thought of my children. There has always been this burning in my heart, it's always in the front of my mind: I am responsible for how these four human beings turn out. I'm responsible to raise them in the Lord and train them. (my husband feels this same responsibility, but I am focusing on how I've lived up to it right now)

And it freaks me out!!

Sometimes I'm quite a slacker in daily devotional times with my kids, often I am not a good example of the fruits of the Spirit, I tend to react instead of respond, but even with all these faults (and that is not an exhaustive list!), I still believe God is blessing my desire to raise them for Him. As far as I know, there are no perfect parents in the Bible, none that I know of in my circle of friends, none of the books I've seen on parenting are perfect in imparting all wisdom for every situation, but God blesses our main desire, our main focus.

A long time ago, I had to decide what our main focus was going to be: to have perfectly obedient children (husband had to tell me to get real), micro-managing their every choice, or to have children who are learning to make good choices for themselves through gentle and timely guidance, gradually gaining more freedom in choices as they grow in age and responsibility. For us as a family, our faith is our life, it's our focus and we talk about it often, applying it to daily events or things we see happening in the world or in our town. We're not perfect and this is not dogmatic parenting advice, but it's how God has shaped something beautiful out of my life.

I am blown away by who they are becoming. Our oldest is in her first year of college now. It amazes me to see her wisdom, good decisions and especially her desire to know God and to be in His will. My two high school aged teens have a heart for God too. In a role reversal, they have started bringing to my notice how God is working in their lives or in their friends lives?or how He is answering our prayers. They are starting to catch glimpses of how God sees them and our world. They're learning to trust Him and their love for God is growing deep. My youngest is just 8 years old, but in her heart felt prayers and in her discussions of the world or of her small life, I hear her compassion and love for people. I can see her heart for her friends and family to know Jesus.

All of this in turn causes me to grow in faith, to trust God more with my children, because I am starting to see how they are listening to Him and choosing to follow Him. It makes me want to let Him lead them without me trying to micro-manage how they behave or the choices they make. It is really hard for a Christian mom to do this, maybe you can relate. I can see so clearly the wisest paths, the safest ways, the obvious best choices. But I have to let them learn to see it, even if that means missing it in a few areas, occasionally stumbling along the way.

I hope someday, when people think of me, they will remember my children and see the beauty in my life.....something really great that I had a hand in. I hope to live a life worthy of His calling, raising four daughters....

March 11, 2006

Raindrops are fallin on my head

It’s raining.

Bummer, you may say….not!

It’s raining ….for the first time in 143 days. (the news weather guy keeps track) We have been in a terrible drought this year, after an abundance of snow and rain in our state last year. Weather cycles are beyond me…’s either la nina or el nino, either way it only makes me crave enchiladas.

I picked up my friend Peggy from the airport yesterday, who was in turn supposed to be picked up by her husband last night…..but he was snowed in! They live in the town we just moved from in northern Arizona, where they have not had snow yet this winter. Normal snowfall is somewhere around 150 inches per winter in the mountains of Arizona. I know that is weird to think of, but Arizona really does have high country where it’s cool in the summer and snows in winter. Anyway, my old hometown got over a foot of snow by yesterday afternoon and it was expected to continue until Sunday night. So Peggy and her daughter Maddie hunkered down with us for a couple of days to wait out the ‘blizzard’ of 2006. =) Parts of interstate 40 were even closed down by this wonderful weather. Wonderful because the slow melting moisture will go deep into the ground and keep forest fires from taking over this summer in the mountains and replenish some very low reservoirs that mountain towns depend on for year round water supply.

It doesn’t snow in Phoenix. But it does rain….and we’ve had a steady rain that began last night while we slept and will continue through Sunday. We Arizonans are so thankful for this rain. One of my favorite Rich Mullins songs is Peace:

And may peace rain down from Heaven, like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise, falling on these souls the drought has dried.

That’s how I feel.…

…blessed rain….thirsty souls and land now being satisfied after a drought.

March 7, 2006

Egypt.....and cheeseballs

Innocently…and I can rarely use that term, so I’m enjoying it today….I signed up to go on a women’s retreat with the ladies from the new church we have recently moved to. I had a fun, enriching time at a retreat with the ladies from our former church just the weekend before. So it was like saying goodbye, then hello, all in a whirlwind week of packing our last things up and moving among a maze of stacked boxes each day. I was glad to miss out on moving out day…I am no help in carrying boxes or heavy furniture to a moving van anyway. And watching my home of the last 9 years being carted off and emptied out would have been…sad. So the retreat was just what the new church ladies had ordered and I went, ready to begin my journey into new friendships and ministry.

The Friday of the retreat, I had planned to spend the day with my wonderful, kindred friend. We started the day early so we could have more time browsing second hand shops and sipping cappuccino while enjoying each other’s company in coffee shops and local haunts we knew of…..I was really looking forward to it and it seemed to be starting off just perfectly. While eating breakfast at the best eatery in our small town, my cell phone rang. We had just been talking about a few things we wanted to do during the day, finishing a really good cuppa morning coffee. It was Charles….we needed to sign the loan papers for the house….IN Phoenix…today. *insert very sad pout* so much for our wonderful, carefree day! Off to Phoenix we drove, two and a half hours to Phoenix. No faxing of signatures would do this time…and then we saw why! The mountain of papers to sign was dreadful….no one warned me about this part….my signature started looking like chicken scratch and I started misspelling my name….silly.

Before driving away that morning for this run down ‘the hill’ (as northern Arizona residents call going to Phoenix…the elevation drop is about 6,000 feet) I had called ahead to a lady I knew was going on the retreat and arranged to ride with her to Prescott mid afternoon. Well it was closing in on mid afternoon, so I called her again and said Charles was going to have to take a detour home and take me through Prescott for the retreat. No, she wouldn’t have it…she wanted me to ride with them and I wanted to also, so she drove around the west valley, picking up 2 more ladies while I signed the remaining stack of papers. We finally got done about an hour later and met her at an interstate exit.

On our way, we laughed and talked, the four of us ladies, like we were old friends. They were fun and easy to get to know…easy to talk with. The rest of the weekend turned out to be the same thing….fun, easy, fitting in and loving it. The speaker, Jan Shrader, was so good, so timely with her Bible study on the life of Joseph. The theme was Survivor, from the *insert adjective* game show of the same name on television. So her Bible study was on surviving our Egypt….how God uses the hard times in our lives to shape us into who and what He wants us to be and do. Heavy stuff, but very well done and lots of humor added from Jan’s self described A.D.D. personality. She is a hoot! And she is friends with a dear friend of mine from back in my high school days.

Then they got a little crazy on me.

Don’t get me wrong, I like crazy….I live there a lot of the time, as my family can testify. ;) So it was an enjoyable ride. We were divided into teams and given challenges…our theme being Survivor. My team won the first challenge and used a little mind gaming in the process, so the other teams were suspicious of us after that. Our prize was a Sam’s Wholesale Club container of cheeseballs. That night, the cheeseballs went missing…and an Amber alert came in with grease stains on it and 2 cheeseballs taped to the paper. I wish I had the original message because we just laughed and laughed. We thought it was over for our little orange friends, but later that night a ransom note appeared, along with a Polaroid photo of our dear, greasy cheeseballs being held at gunpoint (this was the scariest part, knowing someone had brought a gun to a ladies’ retreat….yikes mike!) by a pillowcase ensconced woman. (it was over her head) Her arms showed though, so a thorough search of arms was performed that night in an effort to find the cheeseball nappers. The note demanded a 2 pound bag of plain M&M’s for the safe return of our cheeseballs. We refused to pay the ransom and encourage this type of behavior (cheeseballs are people too, y’know)….besides, we knew from arm inspection and a wisp of blonde hair under the pillow case in the picture who the napper was….although she calmly denied involvement. The next morning all was well, as the dear grease…er, cheese…balls were returned and placed in the back of Shirley’s van to ride back to Phoenix. We thought the adventure was over….we piled our feminine luggage back into the minivans and sports utility vehicles and started back to Phoenix. Very unfortunately (as you’ll realize in a minute) the lady I was riding back with and I stopped to get a large soda on the way out of town. I was sucking that puppy down, being ravenously thirty for some reason. (I’m not sure, but maybe this was from eating salty cheeseballs)

About an hour from Phoenix, we came to a stop on the interstate. Since it is a winding rode through mountainous desert country, we couldn’t see how far ahead the trouble was or see how long the line of stopped cars was. Gradually people stopped their engines and got out of the cars, talking, visiting, wondering. Word came down the line that there was an accident, lots of people ejected and hurt on the road, a baby less than 2 years old killed. So we waited, prayed for the victims, called other ladies from our group on cell phones, wished we hadn’t stopped for a soda on the way…..and I’m talking a large soda. Joy had laminated awards for giving out on field day at the school where she teaches gym….Cheryl, who was stopped 2 cars ahead of us had scissors….so we cut out little laminated running men….lots of little running men. =) My bladder got fussy….I knew a hike was inevitable. The desert, although it was pretty and lots of plants, has very little dense foliage….the kind you can hide behind. It was tricky, but we did it, bringing along my winter coat for a shield. It’s not easy to find privacy in the desert, beside a curve in the road lined with people and cars….and on a hill. Balance and careful planning come into play in a time like this….and making sure your foot, with your cute new Teva’s on is not downhill. (I didn’t have the forethought on that last tip, but I have now and tell you, be sure not to wear cute shoes if one foot has to be downhill to balance.) Poor shoe.

While we waited, a young man came walking up the road and Cheryl and Joy shouted, “Jeremiah! What are you doing here!” It was the son of a church member…..the interim pastor’s son in fact. They had been coming home from a preaching gig and called their wife/mom only to find out that she was at the front of the line of cars, miles away. So being a teenage boy, Jeremiah decided to walk up to his mom’s car. And he was carrying a Walmart bag. And in the bottom of that bag was…..cheeseballs. We squealed and laughed and he thought we were nuts, I’m sure. He didn’t understand (good preparation for becoming a man) why every time he walked by a car of church ladies, they laughed and squealed about cheeseballs. He thought he was just innocently bringing snacks down the line to nourish poor stranded drivers. (He had walked by Shirley’s van and she had given him a mission…nourish the multitudes.) Poor Jeremiah…he is now ‘Cheeseballboy’.

Three hours and fifteen minutes later, we got back in the van and as the sun went behind the mountain and twilight set in, we started back down the road, full of cheeseballs, a damp shoe and another survival tale. It all kinda came full circle, didn’t it?

And I feel fully initiated into the women’s ministry at this new church. It’s made the transition very easy because I have so many connections now with the women. (some will be useful for blackmail, should the need arise) Retreats will do that for you….the atmosphere lets down our defenses and our hair with each other to find we are all on common ground. They are a bit crazy and eccentric and so am I….so I’m fitting right in.

March 6, 2006

Moved in!

This is just a quick update on what is going on. I haven't posted in quite a while, but we've been moving, unpacking, and setting up our household. We are here in Phoenix, trying to get back into a normal schedule with schooling and running the house. The weather right now is so awesome! (although, in a couple of months I'll be whining about the heat!) We have a screened in room on the back of the house, (which is called an Arizona room here) where we've been hanging out when we stop to relax. LOTS of birds winter here in Phoenix and we're enjoying listening to birds singing all day, as well as the pleasant breeze that comes right through our house all day. There is a small pool in the yard too, that we've been trying to get back into shape before it gets hot here and doing some landscaping. So we're having fun!

Yesterday was Charles' first official Sunday preaching at our new church and we He did a great job. He will be preaching in Acts on the early church for a while as we begin our journey with this new group here. Last night they gave us a pounding (food, a plant, a big picture for over the couch, and pool chemicals!) and money tree for our first couple of months of groceries...that sure is coming in handy!! There were also gift certificates to a couple of local grocery stores, Home Depot, Lowe's and Target.

Sometime soon I hope to write about some things I"ve had on my mind....and about the women's retreat I went on with our new church. (which may take several posts!)

February 23, 2006

About last night...

It was last night, literally, but it was also our daughters’ last night at youth group here at this sweet church. I was invited too because I have been teaching youth Sunday school for years. It was a goodbye party. They ate snacks while I went around taking pictures of my kids and their friends. We listened to Christian music videos playing out on the PowerPoint screens while we visited. We played games. Well, make that THEY played games, I watched with some other smart adults. By the time they were done, they were all lying on the auditorium floor, chairs cleared to the sides, in sheer exhaustion! They like to play running games. It was fun…. to watch.

Then our youth pastor gathered us all to the front and asked the youth to share memories or wishes for my kids since they are leaving this group. By the end it was quite emotional….both tears and laughter. Then they all scooted in (all sitting on the floor) and laid hands on my girls and me, everyone reaching in, touching, all as one praying.

As I heard them praying out loud and heard in their voices the pain of final goodbyes, it hit me…the pain of leaving these relationships that are so strong. I had been avoiding thinking about it or feeling it with the adults because my tendency is to be stoic or make jokes to laugh when I feel a strong emotion welling up. Feeling it was hard. Brad, our youth pastor, talked about when he first came to our church, it was 1997. He’s watched our girls grow up from little kids who were 5, 7 and 9 to young ladies who are serving God and are a blessing to his children, who are 3, 2, and 1. Then I looked around and realized I’ve watched all these kids in the youth group grow up…some gracefully, some with struggle. I’ve taught them in Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday school, retreats and camps. I’ve had most of them in my home and they all talked about how I’ve fed them over the years and they enjoyed hanging out in our home. Several of them call me their second mom and since some of them are in college, now serving as leaders in the youth group, it was awesome to sit back and remember and see them now, appreciating all you’ve done for them over the years. And I appreciate them too…they have been great friends for my children and we are so blessed to have had such a good peer group for them here.

The hugs were very sweet afterwards, even though the running games had made them sweaty and gross. LOL And there were lots of promises from kids who want to come down and spend time with us in Phoenix soon and lots of thank you’s and we’ll miss you’s. They were all signing Emma’s t-shirt and taking time to make a last connection. Last things are important and feeling your influence and the good influence of others is important during this time.

I’m glad they made me take the time to feel it. I’m so glad to have known them and privileged to have been a part of their lives and Christian walks.

February 20, 2006

A Fine Collection

"It takes a long time to grow an old friend."
- by John Leonard

We are embarking on a new life adventure…..moving to Phoenix. Moving is one of the highest ranked stressful events in our lives. And while I can see why it is so stressful, I kind of like it. It is full of potential…just like my barren rose bushes, which are gradually sending out new leaves and shoots.

I like adventures and new things….new climates, new environment, new home, and what is most enticing is new friends. I am a collector of friends. My collection includes several wonderful specimens from each place we’ve lived….and a few from different temporary environments. Those include high school, college, church groups, home schooler groups, working environments, including a Christian conference center where I worked for 2 summers in college. My collection comes out and gets sorted through every year at Christmas. I get out my address book and start walking through the years, looking at each name, remembering the faces, the events, the good and hard times shared all while updating addresses from all the Christmas card letters that pour in.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be born, grow up, get married, live and die all in the same hometown. Makes me go ‘hmmmm’. But I will never know what that is like because I’m married to a pastor who God apparently likes to spread around a bit…share the wealth, if you will. =) I lived in the same city all my growing up years, high school and college years, so when I went off to attend seminary in Texas, it was an adventure! It has never stopped being an adventure since then. I met my husband the first week I lived in Texas and we were married less than a year later. It was like a perfectly orchestrated year of awakening to a new step in God’s plan…..we grew from friends who spent all their time together, to dating, then engaged by New Year’s, married June 1. And I don’t consider him to be part of my collection….he is more an extension, or a part of me…I’m thankful that he isn’t in my address book…he’s at MY address…for always!

We lived 2 years in Texas going to seminary and struggling to balance and keep up with school, working and being engaged and then newly married. There wasn’t a lot of time to nurture friendships outside of our little tiny world of early married life. Even so, we tried to keep up with a few of the friends we made there….friends from work, from a street ministry we helped out with, and from classes. Most of these people went in to ministry vocations too and moved a lot like we did and I don’t know if we have kept up to date on any of them! But I still remember fondly and feel a bond with them.

We spent 2 1/2 years in a small town in southeastern Oklahoma as my husband had his first ministry position right out of seminary. He was a youth pastor. Our first anniversary was spent at a youth lock-in, to get to know the youth. It was a strange time, as most of the people there got married soon after high school and by the time they were in their mid twenties, they had several children! So as a newly married 23 year old, I didn’t have much in common with my peers there. We made good friends in unexpected places though. One of my husband’s favorite duties there was to visit the widows from the church. He was a full time youth pastor, but the kids were in school all day, so he did some associate pastoral duties as well. These sweet, spunky ladies became good friends to us. I also had 2 women who provided me the feminine friendship I needed! One was a woman my own age who was single and a hoot to hang out with….the other was a little older than me with one grade school aged boy, but was a kindred spirit to me.

Next we lived close to 10 years on the New Jersey side of Philadelphia. If you think that sounds interesting, you have no idea! The eastern U.S. is a different world….but when we got over our culture shock, we settled down to enjoy the ride. Our oldest daughter was a brand spankin’ new 10 weeks old when we moved, and I was confined to home for a year or so while Charles was out doing church planting work with our only car. Those were hard years, but I made some dear friends, some other new mothers from our sponsoring church, who helped me feel more a part of it all and get through the new mommy scene. As time passed there, Charles worked in 3 different churches, as well as taught at a Christian school for five years. So we racked up the friends and they now fill a good part of the address book that represents my collection.

"I count myself in nothing else so happy_
As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends."_
- William Shakespeare

Currently, we have just finished up (two months shy of) 9 years here in the mountains of northern Arizona. It was like heaven to move here….we had to keep pinching ourselves when we went outside each day. Instead of living in the crowded, busy suburbs of Philly, we looked out to see mountains, forests, wildlife and a much more laid back way of life in a small town, perfect for our growing family. The friendships here were just as laid back and easy going as the peaceful scenery. There have been very few high maintenance people and a lot of kindred spirits here. I may need to invest in a larger address book….maybe a filing cabinet….

I am going to have to update my address book this year in a major way. The friends we have added to our collection here in northern Arizona are precious and plentiful! Maybe is the small town environment…maybe it’s the cold winters and cozy gatherings in warm homes. Maybe it’s just a very special place stuffed full of really special people….yes, I think it is….I can’t explain it any other way. As the years have gone by here, we’ve seen other people have to pack up and move away. And they always miss the fellowship they had here in the mountains…..there is no place like it. I’m sure we will be missing it too….but I can’t help being excited for the adventure that awaits us on this new move.

We tend to bounce back and forth between small town and large city. But no matter where we go, east or west, small town or urban setting, God prepares the way with kindred spirits just waiting to blossom into lifelong friendships much like my roses that are sending up their new shoots, soon to house many beautiful flowers.

Wow, I’m going to have to save up for all those postage stamps we’ll need next Christmas!

"Most people come into our lives and quickly leave.
It is the special few that come in and leave a footprint in our hearts.
and we are forever changed." Unknown

February 19, 2006

Really bad timing...

Getting home after the ladies' retreat, I sat down to blog yesterday's entry and by the time it was finished, I was starting to realize something was not right. My stomach was feeling crampy and as if it would soon be losing the battle of keeping it's contents. So I went to bed, where it got worse and worse, until.....well, you don't want to hear details. Every half hour until 11:40pm my stomach was trying to wrench the life out of me. There is something to that saying "Sick as a dog." I finally got some gingerale, began sipping it and thankfully my stomach didn't reject it. Emma had the same trouble during the night, so we both hunkered down at home today, easing into eating toast, gingerale and finally some scrambled eggs.

Stomach viruses come and go, it's not really unusual. But today was the worst possible timing for it. Today was my husband's last Sunday preaching at our church here....and I missed it. The church gave him a going away dinner with kind, encouraging words and love offerings and cards....and I missed it. I don't just feel bad for myself though, I really wanted to be there for Charles. Emotional times like this call for spousal support and encouragement. Grrr! Kind of ironic since I had been joking around about having the flu the Sunday we had to tell the church we were leaving. A friend of mine said, "Our bodies betray us sometimes, and especially in emotional times." I think she is right....I just wish it hadn't betrayed me so totally!

On to better news: my sister Julie and her husband Steve had a baby boy today around noon! He is Gabriel August and was 6.14 pounds and 19 inches long. Congratulations to them and to Eleanor, his big sister!

Also congratulations to our friends from our small group, Sam and Billi, who were married tonight by Charles in a quiet ceremony just before small group. I missed that too....the wedding and the last small group meeting. I am feeling very sorry for myself and pouty....

February 18, 2006

Feminine Fellowship

Our annual ladies retreat was this past two days. It was wonderful to spend the past 24 hours with the love and easy friendship of the ladies here. More than the mountains, the cozy small town or the cool weather in summer here, I will miss my friends who are here and their acceptance and love of not only me, but all the new ladies who come to our church. It is a special place and is contagious to all who join in the fellowship!

This weekend, we talked and talked. My jaws actually started aching from all the flappin’. We missed some of our own who weren’t able to come to the retreat this year due to sickness or busyness. We sang, prayed, listened, and opened the Scriptures. We talked about being a light to the world and heard testimonies of several ladies. We had a pajama fashion show (which was wild!), and raided each others’ rooms….teehee…..There was a get to know you deeper game we played, telling two true things and one false thing about our life. My three things were 1) I played Mary Magdalene in a college play 2) I saved my husband (their pastor) from choking once and 3) I write a national, weekly column. Well, they all guessed three, except those who read this blog. And when they found out I wrote it on the internet, they all were a buzz, wanting to know how to find it. I chastised them though, for thinking this was more important information than saving their pastor from choking to death! It was a fun game and we really did find out a lot more about each other’s talents and past! We ended the retreat taking communion together with lots of hugs and a few tears.

Here is an email I just received today from a friend who used to be part of our group here. Well, she still is a part of us, she just doesn’t live here anymore. Anyway, it reminded of the retreat….the graphic is great and the words are so true!

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness..
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone..

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

February 14, 2006

Funny Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!

My funny valentine, sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart.
~Rodgers and Hart~

It's been crazy around here lately with all the moving plans and packing and emotional goodbyes. I thought Valentine's Day would just float by with barely a notice, but it turned out to be a good, yet irregular, funny kind of day. It started yesterday. Charles brought home flowers and a beautiful red velvet greeting card....did I mention this was yesterday? He always beats me to it lately on slipping in cards or gifts on special days. I had to run to the store today to pick out a card for him from the disarray of Valentine's cards that were left to choose from. I always know when I have just the right card for him and there it was after a little searching. Cupcakes and teddy bear valentines for the girls. I had just enough time to get home and write on all the cards before being rushed off to our busy day.

We stopped by Sears to look at their scratch and dent section for a refrigerator for our new home. We found a very nice dishwasher earlier this year that way. And there it was, meekly standing there with a big bash on on corner of the door, but it was the one for us.....brand new, but they knocked over $400 off the price because it has a bash. It has a Pur water filtration system for the ice maker and for the water dispenser on the front of the fridge door. We paid for it, set a pick up date and ran out the door again.

Today was the pastors' lunch for our association here...the last one that Charles will get to go to. It's once a month and they are a very close knit group of pastors from a wide variety of small towns around northern Arizona. They gave him a nice send off. I hate goodbyes, but I know we'll see these guys again around the state. We had to leave before it was over to zip down to Phoenix (2 hour zip) to sign loan papers on a home we're trying to get. We'll find out within the week if we'll get this one or not....waiting on the appraisal.

Then we went to a memorial service for the son of some dear friends here in town. It was on the other side of Phoenix. (a very wide city) Though we had only met this man once, it was a moving memorial to his life and a celebration of his release from pain and entrance into eternity....very cool.

We jumped back into the car and headed back 'up the hill'....stopping to eat a very unromantic, yet pleasant dinner, at a combination A&W Root Beer and KFC restaurant on the way home. That is so weird....why do they combine these icons of fast food and make it so confusing to order. There is a combo restaurant in Flagstaff of a Taco Bell and Long John is horrendous the smells in there. I can't enjoy tacos while smelling fish and I can't even enjoy the fish and crunchy bits while smelling tacos. Eeew! My appologies to anyone who owns a weird combo franchise, but it's just wrong....

So we are home now, kids in bed, dishwasher running and I am looking at my Valentine's flowers. Well...not really flowers....but there's potential for flowers at some time in the future. My husband knows me well and although cut roses are so beautiful and I absolutley love them, there is something even more wonderful in receiving skinny packages of flowerless rose bushes from Sam's Club. They look like sticks now, but I see the sprouts of new growth on them and have envisioned where I will plant them at our new home in Phoenix. (Where roses grow like mad in January and February.)

I can see the potential and the future in those bare branches and it's exciting! I'll plant them within days of making our move and enjoy watering and nurturing them until next year when I'll have way more than a dozen roses. I'll have dozens of flowers to sink my nose into and smell the wonderful aroma of homegrown roses....and I'll have pretty dried petals to make into pot pourri for Christmas. They have a lot of potential....just like our new church in which to serve and live has that same exciting potential to become to us a place to sink down into and enjoy the aroma of Christ filling the lives of the church and community there.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

That was NIV, but I like how it is said in the Message too:

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation--an aroma redolent with life.

February 9, 2006

Jars of Clay/Sara Groves/Derek Webb concert review

When we lived in the Philadelphia area, one of our youth girls bounced up to me one day and handed me a home recorded (ummmm, pirated?) cassette tape with the words “Jars of Clay” written on it. She continued bouncing while telling me this was a brand new Christian music group and they were sooooooooooooooo good. She told me that you couldn’t buy their album yet, it was still yet to come out, but she had gotten a hold of a copy of a copy of a first run type of CD. It turns out that there was only a limited number of that CD made, a preliminary recording of their popular Jars of Clay CD.

I brought it home, popped it in my kitchen tape player while fixing dinner the next night and listened intently as I could, while chopping and stirring, to the beginning of a new wave of Christian music…..really good music. We listened to that tattered little tape wherever we went for a while before I found it (finally) in a Christian bookstore and got the real tape (didn’t have a CD player yet). I soon passed on the copied copy to my niece, who listened to it all the way home from vacation that year. The Jars soon hit the top of the charts of Christian and secular music.

I think the last live concert I went to was before moving back to Arizona! It must have been Rich Mullins when Brother’s Keeper came out. I like concerts, but they don’t like my ears, so I don’t go often. So when I was driving around with my daughter and we heard the advertisement for Jars of Clay in concert on our Christian radio station, we squealed and made a vow to go.

Hannah bought our tickets, as a student she got a discount…..and when we got there, we looked at our tickets and realized we were in the 4th row….wheeeee! ……..right in front of a huge speaker. LOL It was a great concert! Opening for them was Derek Webb, who was one of the lead singers for Caedmon’s Call for 10 years. He was funny and played well, having arrived shortly before the concert began due to travel troubles….hope he has a good solo career. I knew who he was when he first came out and kept poking Hannah and saying, “Caedmon’s Call…I’m telling ya….” She insisted he was a new artist…I can’t help rubbing it in when I’m right. Then he mentioned it and the crowd applauded loudly, making a connection with him. His music was acoustic guitar and folk sounding…storytelling and word picturish…which I so relate to.

Then Sara Groves. Her two preschool aged blonde headed sons introduced her and her husband Troy. They are so cute!! Sara Groves is like a female Michael Card….LOTS of deep meaning in heart felt music and words. And she is so little! She sang very well for a live concert, wonderful, strong voice. I would describe her style as folk music. Steve Mason from Jars came out and sang a song with her…very nice. She had a lot to say between songs also. She told stories and jokes and was very easy to listen to. We ran to the bathrooms after she sang and found the ‘ladies in waiting’ politely smiling as they inched their way toward the goal.

We walked back into the sold out auditorium to see a light fog had descended upon all the jarheads. (not the military type) I hoped my hair would stay straight and not curl up in the humidity. (It’s not a good curl, it shrinks up into random swoops and waves. In humid conditions, I want to start talking like Rosanne Rosanna Danna.) The fog looked cool though and when the lights on stage came on, it was real dramatic and ethereal….the green and purple lights were my favorite. (in case you wonder) The lights blinked a few times, signaling lollygagging concert-goers to find a seat. Then, while people were still milling about, a tall guy in a flannel shirt and jeans came out to the middle of the stage and started fiddling with a little electronic thingie. I think it was one of those hand held mini tape recorders that straight-A students use in college classes. He finally turned it on and held it up to the microphone. It was playing staticky, highly white noise-ish music and he was keeping time with a bob of his shaggy head. (It was supposed to be shaggy, I’m not dissin’ the guy.) Gradually you heard people whispering, oh, that’s Dan! I knew it was him when he first came out and was laughing at the silly opening bit. Then in a low, loud voice he started singing to the recorded music, “We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord, We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord and I pray that our unity may one day be restored. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love…..our love….our love.” Then all the Jars came out, along with their drummer. (I didn’t catch his name)

The concert was really good….it wasn’t so loud that you felt a rumbling in your chest and the words were clear and discernable. They were fun to watch and were very skillful in their playing and singing, while still having fun with each other, dancing around and inviting the audience to sing along on most of the songs, which was fun! Matt and Steve were fun to watch, dancing with their guitars or banjoe. Matt kind of bounces and sways with his strings, while Steve does a sort of ballet, modern dance with his, it was great fun to watch! Dan sang great and danced around while singing, often playing the tambourine. During one of the last songs, he took out this very strange looking instrument which seemed to be a hybrid of smoking pipe and electric keyboard…..I dubbed it a piano-bong, which caused Hannah to give me a disapproving look. Charlie seemed to be very sheepishly hiding behind the keyboard and also played the accordian. (from behind the keyboard) Late in the program, Dan talked about the Blood Water Mission they founded as a group, which raises money to dig clean water wells in Africa, where villages stricken by the AIDS virus have been plagued further still by diseased water. It’s a good thing…and we should be all about doing good to one another. One US dollar will provide one African with clean water for a year! One way to touch the world with an act of extreme kindness. Go to their sight to donate or learn more about it.

I took a few pictures during the concert (I forgot to take any during Derek Webb or Sara Groves…sorry) but my camera decided to use a slow exposure due to the dark auditorium. So all of them came out in a kind of time exposed blur. I could just say they are artsy, but I have to admit I am ignorant of this new digital camera stuff…give me back my old manual SLR 35 mm any day! We didn’t stick around for the official ‘shake hands with the band and take a picture with an icon’ time. We actually were going to stay, but the crowd around the Icons of Clay was pressing in and claustrophobia took precedence over pose and smile time. =) 

February 8, 2006

Glance at a week

Sunday: Sad day…we told our church family we were leaving and were hugged and cried upon til we were all soggy and headachy with sore eyes. There are two services on Sunday mornings, so by the end of the second one, we were spent.

I went home to prepare for our small group’s Superbowl party. I made twice baked potatoes….very popular item at the table that night. I sat and talked with some good friends most the evening. Even now I don’t know who won the game and I only got to see a couple of the commercials. (my favorite part of Superbowl) We all made fun of the Rolling Stones….heh. (ssshhhh)

Monday AM: I sorted things all day for our yard sale this Saturday…mostly in Maggie’s room. She has grown so much this last few months that she only had a few clothes left in her drawer that actually fit her. =( I got my hair cut by Kay, my friend who does damage control after I try to cut my own hair. It is quite nice now, all blended in and even. *sigh of relief*

Monday PM: My daughter Hannah and I went to see Jars of Clay in concert! They are by far my favorite group right now and I’ve been following their career since before they came out. I typed out an explanation ,but it was 3 pages long, so I will post it next as a separate entry…complete with pictures!

Tuesday: Emma’s 14th birthday!! We spent all day, beginning at 9am, in Flagstaff. Charles went to a ministers’ tax seminar and we girls took down Hannah’s IKEA loft bed to take to Phoenix with us, since Beth and Emma are sharing a room there. Then we bought a new single bed for Hannah (non-lofty type), set it up, exchanged couches with her since we don’t need 2 couches anymore, then it was off to buy Emma’s gift.

It is our tradition to buy a special gift for our daughters’ 14th birthdays. On each of them turned 5, I bought them a china tea set, when they turned 10 (and became a double digit) they had their first sleep over, and when they turn 14, we buy them a special ring. We’ve really appreciated the emphasis in modern Christian culture on purity and especially the True Love Waits organization. So, to make it a special, we get them a ring to symbolize their commitment to remaining sexually pure until the day they are married. They wear the ring on the ring finger of their left hand until the day they are married, then move it to the right hand. It not only makes it something to look forward to and is a tangible reminder of their commitment, but it gives us a great opportunity to have a lot of talking time about purity….which goes way beyond a mere physical act to the heart and mind. They get to pick out their own ring. Hannah chose a simple, yet pretty silver band with a carving of a heart and decorative scrolling in it. Charles let Bethany choose either the band kind or a ring with a stone….guess which she chose? She has a nice, small Tanzanite stone in her ring in a silver setting. Emma is our athletic, skater shoe and sweatshirt wearing girl, so we wondered what she would choose. We walked the mall and she was very shy about trying anything on, but as the afternoon sped by, she got more and more comfortable trying on rings and finding her taste in jewelry. =) She finally chose a white gold band with a very small setting of diamond chips which she was enjoying with awe as she held up her hand to the light and watched it sparkle, as only a diamond will.

There is something else that sparkles like nothing else in the world. That is a young girl, choosing the unpopular, but ever rewarding path of sexual purity. Emma has actually been doing Bible studies and reading books on sexual purity with her sister Bethany. Our youth group girls had an overnight purity party recently and ever since then, they have been discussing it and reading up on Josh Harris and Elizabeth Eliot books, as well as a few others I can’t recall. The books have so much more to say than just speaking to remaining virgins until marriage. Purity begins in your heart and mind, it is an attitude, it makes a plan of conduct and thinks about consequences before ever finding itself in a situation in which it has to make a choice. I am so thankful that my four daughters are growing up in a generation of youth leaders who offer such practical, mature, and fun, inspiring resources for purity of mind, heart and spirit, as well as body.

We ended the day by browsing at Good Will while waiting for Hannah to get off work and join us for dinner at the Galaxy Diner. The children's clothing was a dollar per piece and I found Maggie a cute summer wardrobe of play clothes for under $15.

Corned beef on rye and onion rings while listening to the Beattles and 50's songs on the juke box. Happy birthday Emma!

Wednesday: I woke up, relishing the thought of a nice day at home, packing a bit, schooling a bit, and trying to de-stress a bit. That turned out to be a distant dream that I never firmly grasped today. I decided I would go to our ladies Bible study, since we’ll only be here a couple more weeks. It turned out to be a nice fellowship time, but stressful because everyone has a sense of mourning around us since the news of our moving broke. I know it is out of love and it is a time of mourning, but I don’t think I can take this for more than a couple more weeks. I may just descend into a hole until the day approaches…it’s too hard! The leader asked me to say something and I did, only I bawled as I spoke and I hate to cry in front of people. I wanted to say some things, but it was sure hard to choke them out….even though it was a relief to speak them. We sure do love these people. Our hostess served lunch, but I can’t remember how it tasted or how I swallowed with all the chatting we did.

I finally tore myself away from the ladies and came home, only to find Charles standing in the kitchen with a handful of loan papers that we signed last night, in a most stressful time of reading the conditions and details of the house loan. Yipes…money…. we really need to go back to trading sea shells or something. Well, the papers needed to be sent over night to Phoenix, so I jumped in the car and drove the half hour to Flagstaff to Fed Ex the dreadful things, did some errands and came home in time for dinner….a store roasted chicken, salad, rice a roni made by Bethany and corn muffins made by my very own husband! He never makes food….and I love corn muffins! =)

After dinner I cleaned out our music cabinet in order to sell it in the yard sale. It was a nostalgic time, thinking about the music we’ve accumulated over almost 22 years of marriage and a few from college and high school years, now warped LP’s and garbled sounding cassettes. I threw away a lot of old tapes, copies of tapes, old warped cassette covers and sorted the rest into a huge ‘keep’ pile and a small ‘yard sale’ box.

Then I sat myself down to type….where I have been for the past 3 hours, finally able to feel a slight de-stressing coming about…..

February 7, 2006

Seeking contentment

For several months now, I have not been able to write about what was really on my mind, due to confidentiality. When you’re in a ministry position and you know God is urging you to move on, you can’t just discuss it with people, sometimes even your closest friends. They are the people who you are there for and who you work for… can’t just discuss leaving or it causes all kinds of feelings of abandonment and uncertainty. (especially when you don’t know how long it will be until you do move on) So ministers have to hide the thing that is most on their mind when God is moving you….you are not sure when or where He’ll do it, but you know He is making you restless. Things are coming to a close where you are….at least for you, not for the other people there.

For my pastor husband, the restlessness began two years ago. He knew God was moving, but you never know in the beginning exactly what God is telling you….rather, the details unfold in time. Usually in our lives, the attitude of restlessness comes first, then a gradual letting go….that is the hard part. In ministry, you come to deeply love the people you’re involved with. Often they are closer than your own family, people you have worked alongside of in the most important work there is…..serving Christ and building His church. I think this is why God has to cause that restlessness in you first, to prepare your heart….and He does it well. But as you go through that time, it is very hard to start letting go of the people you love and the ministry He’s given you with them. Being the only person in my husband’s life who he could share all this restlessness with, it began to weigh heavy on my own heart. I wanted to share his burden and hear the call too, but I wasn’t feeling restless and I didn’t want to leave. And I’m very good at avoiding things I don’t want to think about or deal with.

So I was very surprised….okay, I was shocked….when, last Easter, my sister Julie told me her pastor was resigning. I didn’t pause to think about it or pray about it, but instantly, in the same moment she told me, the thought of moving to Phoenix and Charles becoming their pastor passed through my mind and I was okay with it. Almost a year later, the first Sunday of March will be his first Sunday preaching as the pastor of that church. It is hard to convey how deeply I dreaded God moving us and leaving our wonderful church, community and the mountains. (I had always wanted to live in the mountains.) I thought He would have to drag me kicking and screaming away from our home there. But as instantly as I had the thought of moving to that church, I also had peace from that moment on about moving. Contentment that comes from knowing God’s will became a resident in me. I didn’t know if it would be that particular church or if it would be somewhere in southern Timbuktu, but I felt it was time to move on and that peace never left me. To clarify that a little more, just because you have peace in your heart and mind about making a decision, it doesn’t mean there will be no pain, no ripping of the heart over leaving, because they definitely cohabitated in my heart and mind. Peace and pain have been my heart’s companions this past year and will be for a while I think.

Finally being able to share this decision with our church this past Sunday was at the same time heart-wrenching over leaving and exciting to let them know how much God was working, not only in our lives, but for their church as well. I know that somewhere a man of God is starting to feel a restlessness and wondering where God will move him. He is preparing himself for a new phase of ministry in his family’s life as God is preparing them to be a good match for this church in the mountains, where he has no idea the blessings and love he’ll find there.

True contentment is far more than a simple feeling of temporary happiness and feeling settled inside. Sometimes it is what carries you through the ultra-stressful, heart wrenching, and totally unsettling decisions you have to make in life. To be content in all circumstances means that even though the stress is there, you know you are in God’s will and following His leading.

There is great contentment because we trust our loving Father. We take His hand and walk along where He leads, knowing that He is with us every step and that He would never lead us anywhere that would be wrong for us.

The following verses of Scripture have been my ‘life verses’, including the ones I skipped over for this entry. There will always be anxiety and stress in our lives, especially when God is changing you or stretching you…or moving you, but His peace is readily available. These verses have been proven true many, many times in my life. We can be content in any circumstance when are seeking and following Him.

Philippians 4:6-7, 11-13* Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus……I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.


February 1, 2006

Spontaneous day...

Today my new sixteen year old got her driver’s license. Ummm, well I didn’t suddenly adopt a sixteen year old….it’s just that my daughter turned sixteen last week….so it’s new to us. (Semantics can really get on my nerves, so I had to clear that up for my own benefit…..perhaps you enjoyed it as well….)

Well, maybe I should start at the beginning to give you the full effect…

This day began a loooooooooong time ago, assembling the weary troops in the living room for devotions, then starting Maggie on her schoolwork while trying to do some laundry from our 5 day weekend in Phoenix. (more on that later) Shower, hacked my hair off because it’s started getting very droopy. Practically the minute I got dressed, newly layered hair dried and make up on, my husband came home to tell me he was going to town to see a friend in the hospital and to the bank. Remembering how low I was on laundry detergent and not wanting a separate trip into town, I slipped on my shoes and went with him, leaving instructions with the girls on my way out the door, yes, even as the door was closing, I was leaving instructions…as is my habit. =)

On the half hour drive to ‘town’, (we do live in a town, but the next town down the road is where we shop, so it is called ‘town’….and everyone here knows where you’re going if you say you are going to town) my efficient husband enjoyed a nice, mostly one-sided conversation, discussed many things we need to do to organize our home, which left me feeling very stressed out and over stimulated in my poor spontaneous brain.

The hospital was our first stop. Our dear 80something friend had to have her leg amputated last week due to a severe infection in her new knee replacement….she is diabetic. =( We found her in very good spirits and feeling pretty spunky actually. She is so glad it’s over with and the infection is gone. We only had a few seconds to say hi and hug her before she was invaded by rehab aids, who helped her get out of bed and into her chair, using a walker…amazing how quickly people heal and adapt! She was finally settled and ready to visit, when another couple from church came and the nurse was fussing at us to not crowd the ICU hallway, so we made a speedy departure and went to the bank. On to Sam’s club, where we bought really large, yet frugally priced containers of ‘stuff’ we needed. We ordered a polish dog combo and a pizza slice combo and headed out to the car, balancing large styrofoam drink cups, a large hot dog and a large slice of pizza on the large, bumpy cart and went home…another half hour drive, but little conversation due to trying to eat lunch while driving on the interstate.

Back at home, I realized I had one hour before time to pick up Bethany from band, so I put away the large quantities of ‘stuff’, then started to cook the stew meat for dinner while answering questions about Maggie’s handwriting and math work. As I threw in the spices to simmer with the meat, I was thinking of how badly my back was aching and ran out the door to pick up Bethany. Here is where our main story picks back up….

Bouncing out to the car, Bethany landed at the passenger door with a thud, cheek against the window….she takes after me….but don’t worry, she did it on purpose because she is silly. We drove straight to the chiropractor’s office (just around the block), got all worked over, straightened out and back on our feets, and I told her we could stop by the DVM…MVD…DMV?…something like that …to pick up her driver’s license. It was on the way and she had her permit and her certificate that said she passed Driver’s Education, so I thought it would be a simple, quick trip. What was I thinking?? Upon entering our tiny DM…uh, driver license place, we took a number, because that is what you have to do to get any attention around there. We were number 53. They were currently serving number 47….I knew that was not a good thing.

The mood in the waiting area was dismal. For some reason, the waiting room chairs were all arranged facing away from the window where they ‘serve’ you. All the chairs were lined up in rows of 4, because that is all they can fit in a row in that tiny room and they were all facing backwards….towards a wall where the lucky number who was receiving service was lit up in big bright numbers. No one was talking, everyone was staring at us…suddenly I knew why the one woman working the service window that day had arranged the chairs to face away from her! I wouldn’t like people who were impatiently waiting for me to hurry looking at me either… lady.

We began filling out the licensing form and realized we didn’t know Bethany’s social security number. So I jumped in the car, leaving her behind to keep our number current and ran home to get the ss number. Dashed through the house, noticing a strong smell of boiling meat and spices…oh yeah! I was only going to pick her up from band, so I had forgotten the stew! I grabbed the filing box of important stuff, found the card, dashed back out to the car, turning down the simmer to the lowest of lows and trying to answer Maggie’s questions which were flying around my head and got back to the D…er, license place in time to see they were only on number 50.

I sat down for long enough to notice several more people waiting in the little room, including a friend of mine and a group of 3 teenagers we knew, one of which was strumming a little stringed instrument….maybe a mandolin? That was when my eyes caught sight of the sign by the service window (oh, I turned my chair around defiantly to face my friend, so I was facing the window…*smirk*) that read, “cash or checks only”. Talk about adreneline! Realizing how close we were to getting served and that I only had my debit card, I had to dash out once more and run home to grab the check book….we live less than a mile away, but through a school zone…very annoying when you’re in a hurry. I looked everywhere and no checkbook. I called my husband, who was a the church practicing with the worship team and he said, yes, he had the checkbook in his pocket….arggg. I turned up the stew meat again since it wasn’t simmering well and sped off.

Back through the school zone, to the church, ran inside, grabbed the checkbook, hugged 2 ladies standing there, dashed back out to see that my friend Tracy had pulled up behind my car, blocking me in. She thought she had caught me and was going to visit for a while, but I had to explain this all in a whirlwind fashion and drive off, feeling quite cruddy for having to do that….I love to talk to Tracy! Upon arriving at the ….license place, the teen with the stringed instrument had been kicked out and was climbing the large tree in the yard of the office. I made a quick comment mourning the loss of live music while waiting in the dreadful, boring waiting room and dashed in the door. They were still on number 50!! What luck. It wasn’t long til she called 51…no response…..52….nuthin…..”OK, 53 and if you don’t answer, you lose your turn.” We jumped up and did the little thing, which took all of 5 minutes. Thanks to a driver’s education certificate, she didn’t have to take a written or driving test. We drove home and I felt particularly spent upon entering, to find my stew meat boiling again…which reminded me to add the onions, carrots and potatoes, thankfully (I think I would have forgotten all about it). I then went back to my room to sit against my nice heating pad for my aching back until the stew was ready.

I am happy to say that the rest of the evening was uneventful.


January 28, 2006

She showed him!

We are out of town til Tuesday, but I wanted to check in.

My husband, Charles, was showing the girls an old penny he had come across. He showed them it was from 1941 and then showed them the S, which means it was minted in San Fransisco....both the age and mint making it a rare penny. So he said he was going to look up how much it was worth.

Maggie then took the penny from his hand, turned it over and showed him, in a much too condescending tone,

"Dad, it SAYS it's worth 'one cent'....OBviously!"


January 21, 2006

Modern Day Andy Griffith

Today's special guest blog contributor: My daughter, Hannah (known as Miss Hannah to her preschoolers) She wrote this blog entry on her myspace blog and I asked her if I could use it. I changed some details to protect certain people’s identities, however, the events are a factual account.

once upon a time in a certain small town... Current mood: amused

We have a modern day Andy Griffith in our midst! Give it up for Officer K, the greatest police officer in the entire world. To begin the story we start off at the house of a Mr. Chadwick Fields. A few have gathered there to visit as the said Mr. Fields as he was currently injured…. They sat around discussing fish and all other sorts of things which commonly occupy the conversations of youth.

There was a knock at the door * knock knock knock * and who should appear but Officer K carrying a bouquet of weeds to cheer the hapless invalid. They were beautiful weeds of a most rare kind, so rare, indeed, that I could not even tell you their names. Officer K was much distressed at the sight of Mr. Fields and begged him not to get up. Soon they were all discussing the intricate details of police work in said small town, when Officer K (with quite an ecstatic look upon his face) asked them if they would care to see the newest program he had developed for his * ahem * customers.

He led them all out to his police car and started to do something on his laptop. He finally had it ready, he turned the laptop towards them and there it was! The official and original Beverly Hillbillies show! He assured us that he had already tested his new program on his * ahem * customers, and it had been pronounced as amazing. (perhaps even stupendous, but we can’t be sure..) He had arrested someone just the other night and played his new program for them, and they had laughed all the way to jail. He hopes to upgrade soon to the Brady Bunch and COPS.

You may laugh at my story but I assure you that these events did indeed take place, and if you have any doubts, all you have to do is come see one of the many fine parades led by Officer K. The annual “Clean Yourself Parade” (in which they hand out free bars of soap and spray the audience with water guns) the unnamed parade last year featuring the cop car, the tandem bike, and a band consisting of the mentioned Mr. Fields playing his violin (much to the chagrin of the audience….) The next Parade shall be happening this afternoon in honor of a certain injured person at 4:30. Details to be discussed at the coffee shop.

Ah the joys of small towns. haha!

January 20, 2006

Little dog gone

For several days, our little dog, Millie, has been acting like she didn't feel good. On Tuesday, she began breathing weird....making hard panting noises all day. She still ate her food and played outside though. On Wednesday, she was still breathing hard and staring at us like, "Please help me." So we made her cozy nests on the floor with blankets. She played a little and tried to howl with our outside dog, but it was very weak. By Thursday she wouldn't lie down, I caught her almost falling asleep sitting up a couple of times. She just sat up all day, panting heavily, she wouldn't eat...not even a dog biscuit, which is her favorite. She drank some water, but coughed violently afterward, almost choking. I had to force half a baby aspirin down her throat, thinking it might help her be more comfortable.

She went outside in the afternoon and usually comes right back in, but when I didn't hear her bark at all for a long time, I had to go find her. She was just sitting by the gate, panting. I knew it wouldn't be long....that she was really sick and not getting well. In the evening, we looked under the dinner table and she wasn't there...her usual place. We found her back in Maggie's room, lying on a cushion, panting. Then I had to get her out from under our bed when it was time to turn off the lights and go to bed. She could barely walk to her bed in the laundry room and refused to go outside, so I just put her in bed and petted her for a while, wondering what we'd have to do the next day if she still wasn't well.

We knew the time was close for us to make a decision about possibly putting her to sleep. She's been sick for years and getting worse gradually each year. We think maybe she had cancer cuz she had some tumors and groaned a lot. We had her examined by a vet last year and they ruled out congestive heart disease, which she did have some symptoms of. Well, some time in the night, God made the decision for us and she died. Charles found her this morning before the kids woke up. We are thankful that we didn't have to witness her death or have to take her to be put to sleep.

But we'll miss that little dog! I wrote about her once on this blog. You can read it here. I may post some pictures of her sometime soon, but I can't look at them today.....

January 19, 2006

First snow

It began snowing this morning by 10am. It is now almost 1pm and there are a couple of inches of wet snow, with more fluttering and swirling down. This snow is not in any hurry…just a nice lingering, flutterish, swirlingly lazy snow. I did not get dressed as I usually do today. Today is a sweat pants and nice big, favorite old sweater kind of day….my sweater is dark blue with huge knitted in snowflakes covering the front. There are holes in it and because it’s such a heavy knit, by the end of the day the sleeves are much longer than when I put it on….which cracks me up….it grows! It is also missing the second to the last button. But on a snow day, people rarely come by unannounced, as they often do in a small town. I love people dropping by, but the point is, I’m safe to be in my big droopy sweater and sweat pants today, with no makeup….and that’s nice once in a while.

*This is really funny now, because just as I finished typing that paragraph, our friend Rainy drove up and knocked at the door.* Heehee I guess I knew she was dropping by, because she is taking Emma to lunch, but I forget things like that.

Anyway, back to the snow! It is covering the yellow/brown grass, all but the taller stalks anyway, which are sticking up defiantly. My neighbor’s yard across the creek is much more defiant-looking than ours….lol. It would look really beautiful already, if it weren’t for a few unsightly things that are not snow covered….our former toilet, waiting to be hauled off to the dump after a little remodeling project, and our 1972 Pleasure Seeker pop up trailer topped with a bright blue tarp which is held down by cinder blocks. So if the snow keeps up and gets about 3 feet high, it’ll be downright pristine out there. =)

God’s grace covers us. His grace is more like a light snow right now though, not a three footer. The unsightly, sometimes hideous things in our lives are still visible, but that is what makes His grace all the more visible. Yeah, people can still tell we don’t have it all together, but when they see God work in our lives and changing us, they know God loves and blesses and works through people even though they’re not perfect. Isn’t that the point? He’s the one Who is perfect and pristine…’s not us. We are just a work in progress, sticking up awkwardly, like a toilet discarded after a recent remodel, covered by His grace.

So don’t be held back and distracted from what God wants to do through you by the junk we still deal with. Keep loving and following Him, and hopefully there is some ongoing remodeling work happening in the process.

January 17, 2006

Hannah's Big Move

This is my daughter, Hannah, and her roomate, Bethany. We stopped by her place yesterday on the way to the movies. She made us lunch at her new apartment. Baked chicken legs, salad, and Rice a Roni. =)

Last Tuesday we were helping Hannah and Bethany (not to be confused with our other daughter Bethany) move into their new place. It's a studio apartment, but has a wooden divider to make the bedroom more private. Very cute place, very convenient for them and they've made it very homey and cozy. Here are some pics from moving day!

Putting up the IKEA loft bed was interesting...Brad and Kailey heave the loft bed up.

Dad looks confused, but they figured it out. ;)

Emma and Bristol moving one of  a bajillion boxes.

For Hannah and Bethany, I looked up this verse, which I have loved ever since I can remember. It is not a burden or tiresome or hard to follow fact, it is the way of life.

Deuteronomy 30 :11-20 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.