Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Little Champion



This past weekend was crazy. I want to blog on all of it, but can only handle a little piece at a time. In the midst of everything, we drove to Brit's gymnastics meet in Visalia. And since this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want, I'm going to take this opportunity to brag about my daughter.

I. am. incredibly. proud. of. her.

Brit had a blast. She just had so much fun that her face was about to split in two because she was smiling so big for so long. Her team took first place, and she took second place overall with a 35.somethingorother, which qualified her for the Northern California State meet in December. (San Diego girls, I'm so sorry! We won't be back this year!)

It's wonderful to see your daughter relaxed, laughing, and succeeding... and walking off that gym floor with the confidence I pray daily for her to find. (Thank you Jaime and Nikole for the love and encouragement you show my little girl!)
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vote '08

THIS may be one of the coolest shirts ever. (I'm trying to convince the hubby how desperately I NEED one. (In either a medium or small, just in case anyone was wondering...)

I'm heading out to an amazing conference today, but wanted to leave you with some food for thought before I go. A dear relative and I have been conversing a bit about views and politics over the last couple of months. It's considered taboo to talk about religion or politics on your blog, unless you're a religious or political blogger. Well, I am neither. I'm not religious and I'm not political. My faith is simply my life. Some of my readers struggle with that thought, and, in light of this incredibly awesome t-shirt, I thought I would post here part of my email to my dear relative yesterday:

"As for politics, I'm always open to hear views. However, it's not the Republican Party which I favor. It's just that the candidates most representing my values and beliefs tend to hail from that arena. If there were no political parties, I would still support McCain/Palin. Before the field was narrowed I supported Huckabee. It has nothing to do with politics, but with faith and whom will most accomplish God's will for our nation. Democrat/Republican/Independent... none of it much matters. It's the end result.

The more our values soften, the more our morals twist, the more relative truth becomes, the farther into depravity our nation will fall. The foundation of morality is right and wrong. How do you define right and wrong? Well, the foundation of right and wrong is truth. But, how do you define truth? Well, you must have a standard, a measure.

Tom wants to sell Bill a pound of gold. Bill gives Tom the money, and Tom gives Bill a speck that can hardly be seen. Bill gets mad because it's not a pound, but Tom says, "Well, that's a pound of gold to ME." Bill explains that it doesn't weigh a pound according to the scale. But Tom says he doesn't use that scale, he uses his own scale, and on his scale that speck is a pound. Do you see what I mean? The scale is the truth, but Tom has decided he doesn't like that scale, so he uses a different scale, his own scale. Our society has decided that each person can use their own scale to determine what is right and wrong for them. That way people can do what they please and it's right according to their scale, so they feel fine about it. A woman can end her pregnancy and no one should do anything about it, because it's her pregnancy and her body and her scale. The thing is, if you're not using the right measure of truth it doesn't matter how you try to say you're right, because you're not. It doesn't matter how Tom tries to insist he's selling Bill a pound of gold, because he's not.

The standard of measure for our lives is the Bible, the Word of God. If something doesn't line up with God's Truth, then it's wrong. Period.

And that is why I don't base my decisions for candidates on what party they're affiliated with. Of course, they have to be affiliated with a party. That's just how it works in our country. And I never said I was thrilled with McCain. But I'm going with whomever lines up closest to The Standard of Measure, the Word of God."

And that was it. (Consequently, I AM thrilled with Palin.)

To sum things up, our nation has lost its moral compass. True north (The Word of God) has been severely and disgustingly twisted by many and altogether abandoned by countless others. If true north (the standard we base everything else off of) is now relative to each individual, then we're each heading in a different direction. What is "true north" for one person is totally different than what it is for another. Everything is relative. What is right for you is right for you and what is right for me is right for me, whether that be babies, guns, marriage, finances... a proverbial pound is no longer a pound.

"Without guidance from God law and order disappear..." Proverbs 29:18 (CEV)
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint..." Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)
"Where there is no vision, the people perish..." Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
"When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild..." Proverbs 29:18 (NLT)

My God is the one true God. My north is the one true north. Without Him all is lost. All.

All.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Let There Be Light

We don't always understand His words, but He always gives the right ones at the right times. Trust and take hold, even without understanding. That will come.

Trust first. Understanding later.



(This is an amazing story from this year's conference. Patsy is AWESOME!!!)
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Life

An amazing story. An amazing song.

(Thanks, Tammy.)
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The Battle

Jordan never really wanted to be goalie, but neither did anyone else. His shoulders would slump a little standing between the posts, but someone had to do it. He's a good kid and wants to help out, so he didn't say no when Coach asked.

Practices came and practices went. He learned how to dive on the ball, how to punch it away if he couldn't get both hands out to stop it, how to kick high and far. He started talking to his teammates, directing them where to go, who to cover. He learned when to come out, when to stay back, where to stand for a corner kick.

The first three games of the season no one scored on him. He was relentless in going after that ball, his confidence growing in his attack. His confidence grew off the field, too. Talking more, standing up a little taller, having his say in a conversation that usually included three other voices.

This was about more than soccer.

This past Saturday I watched a ball go past my Jordan into the goal. I watched his shoulders fall in defeat, his lips tighten so as to not let the quivering show. But his eyes were determined. I watched my Jordan get lost amidst a pile of soccer jerseys with flailing bodies. I watched his arm get stepped on, his head get kicked, and witnessed him not. give. up. Save after save after save... and yet two more balls flew past him and into the net. It was so difficult to watch. I saw the disappointment, but it was mixed with determination. I saw the pain, but it was mixed with persistence.

Jordan's team lost.

Wiping sweat from his brow and dirt from his cheeks, my son walk off that field more of a man than when he walked on. "Are you still okay with being goalie?" My heart ached.

"Yeah." There was that big, toothy grin. "It was hard. It was good."

In a sea of concrete and bending morals, boys have got to learn to fight somewhere. I want to be the mother that equips my son to do battle, and to do it well. I don't want to be the mother who pulls my son out of the battle so he never learns how to fight...

because this is about more than soccer.
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Favorite...

Last night at small group we were supposed to say a favorite memory of each of our sons, in the theme of our study, Bringing Up Boys. I took forever because I couldn't recall a favorite memory. The ones that kept coming to mind were of when they were hurt or in trouble. I tried to think of something less morbid, less disciplinarian sounding... so I said something about Disneyland and we all moved on.

But I kept dwelling on it. My favorite memory? A memorable time? A cherished event? Negative circumstances kept flooding my head. When Nate was gone at Officer Training School and Taylor would cry for his Daddy at night before falling asleep... when Taylor came home from school upset about the bullies that wouldn't leave him alone... when Jordan broke his leg... when he came and told us the truth about breaking the neighbor's windshield with the baseball after lying about it for a whole day... spending the night with Ian in the hospital, laying in that big bed next to him...

It seemed so morbid that my most cherished times stemmed from awful circumstances that we would have avoided had we known. But then I realized,

these were my most cherished because I was able to comfort my boys. In the midst of hurt and pain and disappointment, I was able to hold them and love them and teach them and mold them. And, while they were experiencing an awful storm of sometimes their own consequences and sometimes the stuff of life, I was sheltering them from an even bigger storm. Dwelling on this I realized how, just like my boys, I hate going through the tough stuff, the painful stuff, the this-sucks-but-I've-got-to-get-through-it stuff. But, just like me, God must see those as some of His most cherished times with His child. Times when He holds me and loves me and teaches me and molds me and shelters me from an even bigger storm. Sometimes I'm suffering the consequences of my own actions, and sometimes I'm having to live out what life has brought. But, always, my Father is there.

So, it's not morbid that my most loved memories are the ones my boys would look at as hard or sad. We spent precious time together, and grew closer because we went through it. I hope they wouldn't want to change that for anything in the world.

It makes me think of the hard times I've gone through differently, see them in another light. I grew closer to my Father through those. I was loved and held and comforted and shaped and molded. I wouldn't change that for anything in the world.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

The War

Just last night I was remarking to my husband how there was only one solitary ant roaming the kitchen counter. Could this be victory? Yes! Yes, it could! This entire summer I have battled the ants, armed with Home Defense Spray and Terro. "Be patient, it takes a while." Ah, the words of husbands (I only have one, but I'm sure other husbands say it, too.) and friends and relatives. "Those things take a while to kill the entire colony."

Four weeks has the Terro sat on my counter top. Slowly the black line has been shrinking. And then, last night, one solitary ant.

This morning.

One solitary ant.

Run errands. Pick up Ian. Home again. Fix my lunch. Fix Ian a snack.

"MOM!!! MMMOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!"

I turn around to see the styrofoam container on the counter, formerly full of leftovers and now housing some trash "on its way" to the garbage can MOVING. It's moving. Agh! It's moving!!!

No, wait.

It just LOOKS like it's moving because it's swarming with a black mass of my. worst. enemy.

(Okay, well that's actually the devil. But you get my point.)

The black stream is back. In full glory. From the top of the pantry, down the wall, across the counter, to the ill-fated take-out box by the sink. And I thought, "Oh, I'll wait and take it to the trash can in the morning." I can hear Cher now, "If I could turn back time, if I could find a way..."

Nothing has worked. Nothing. Obviously I was disillusioned that the Terro was actually doing anything. They even look bigger and stronger than before. I've seen two big army ants mixed in with the little ones. (I don't think that's the technical term, but go with me here.) They're parading back and forth on the edge of my counter. Every once in a while they stop, peer upward with their beady little eyes (I said work with me) and laugh menacingly in my general direction. Remember the ant scene in Indiana Jones?

Help. Me.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This Friday

I'll be on around 8:00pm. Come early, stay late, and enjoy some awesome music!!! I also have another show coming up on October 1st. More info on that soon. (Click on the poster for an easier read, unless you enjoy the challenge small print presents for your eyeballs.)

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The Most Important 30 Minutes

Last week I did a post on 9/11. For some of us this brought up a lot of unanswered questions. For others bitterness, sorrow. For others a sense of disconnectedness. And for others a firmly rooted anger, seething deep in their souls. Maybe even all these at once.

This could be the most important 30 minutes you ever spend watching a video. An extreme of compassion will only let the people you're trying to save harm you. An extreme of justice will drive them away in hate and anger. When we come to the middle we find understanding. When we come to the middle we can reach out in love. Genuine love.

Take the time. If you don't have it now, come back later. Grab your coffee. Don't go sit in front of your tv. Don't go browse the paper. (It says the same things today as it did yesterday.) The kitchen floor can wait a little longer. Get that next load in the wash, then sit down and watch these:

Part I:


Part II:


Part III:


Dr. Ergun Caner is Dean of Theology at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Things I Passed On At Goodwill

This is it. Maybe the most revealing post I've ever done. Possibly more so than the under-the-couch post or the cobwebs post, both in which you discover that I am a horrible housekeeper. I might try to mask it by pulling out some seemingly insightful life lesson. But the truth is, I'm just not that great at keeping our home all Pottery-Barn-ish. (That would translate as "clean" to most people.)

Now you are going to find out truly what kind of person I am. Of course, if you look at my updates on facebook or twitter (Do you twitter? Come follow me!) you already know that... last week I got all in a tizzy because of a 50% off sale at Goodwill! Yes!!! And, you know what? It was AWESOME. I scored Gap, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Target... the list could go on. Nothing cost more than $2.00 and everything was in perfect (okay, some were near-perfect) condition.

So, with all the amazing deals on awesome stuff that I DID find, I thought I would show you what I chose to pass on. Although it gave me a hearty laugh for the day, and I wished I had it for Tacky T-shirt Bunco that I attended the night before... this one I chose to leave on the rack.



I may have made a mistake, though. Many a costume could be fine tuned with this great piece of artwork. Mm-hmm. If it would have fit Nate it would have been in my basket. For some reason the fact that it was Abercrombie didn't redeem it one bit, and on the contrary made my stomach convulse all the more at the thought of some girl paying Abercrombie prices and actually wearing this around.

So, now you know that not only can you find an entire meal plus entertainment (Candy Land, anyone?) under my couch, but I will beat you down in Goodwill for a vintage vest on 50% off day.

And, yes. I actually got a vintage vest.
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Careful, it's addicting.

Here's another good way to spend your lazy days (for those of you who actually have those), or to just procrastinate (for those of us that should be doing a million other things). And this can even can be justified quite well, due to its educational nature.

I'm HORRIBLE at geography, but somehow got to level 5. (I expected to be done at 1.) Nate has reached level 11. (Out of 12, of course. Sheesh.)

How high can YOU go?
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Stylin'

You get cool sunglasses when you go to your eye exam because everything is so bright afterward. They look even cooler when worn with headphones while watching Pirates of the Caribbean on the way home. Too cute.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Memory

I didn't expect it to affect me this way. I experienced it much like many other Americans, waking to news on the tv, sitting with my mouth open watching the horror. But I didn't know anyone who lost their life that day. I didn't even know anyone that knew anyone. I had a friend at The Pentagon who, had he of been in his office, would most likely no longer be here, but thank God he was off running an errand on the opposite side of the building.

So I didn't expect it to affect me this way.

Walking up to Ground Zero I wondered if we would really be able to pass through the large locked gate. Others stood outside peering in, taking pictures through the chain link. We went to the information/security booth. The guard looked at our ids, radioed to someone on the other side, thanked my husband for his service to our country, and told us to stand at the gate.

I still didn't expect it to affect me this way.

A man came and let us in. As the gate closed behind us the reality of where we stood began to hit. A tingling started at my hands and feet, quickly spreading over my body. As I followed the construction worker I realized I was numb, my breath shallow. I was watching myself taking steps, but didn't feel any movement. There were other people standing at the end of the makeshift path, peering down into the enormous hole.





The images on tv don't communicate how massive it really is. The buildings outside the fence seemed so far away, as did the ground below. Perspective didn't become clear until I saw a worker on the far side, and how small he was.







The rebar protruding from the concrete foundation somehow stuck with me, what was left of what had been.





I looked up. The sky was so vast, such an expanse. A plane passed overhead and suddenly all I saw was a blurry blue. My cheeks became wet. It was just so much. The loss.

We took photos. I didn't want to forget this. But I don't need those to recall the vivid memory.

The construction worker stood quietly by as we walked around the platform, taking in all sides. He waited patiently, just as he does with each visitor that comes.

As he escorted us back up the makeshift path to the gate we passed a trailer. Flowers were set outside and Nate asked the man what it was, but the sign on the door was our answer. My cheeks grew wet again.







The gate closed. The church just outside had new significance. We made our way down the street, around the corner to the museum. I didn't know if I wanted to enter, I wasn't sure I wanted to take the stories into my heart.

I hadn't expected it to affect me this way.

I worried about my umbrella and my purse. I needed to use the restroom. Anything trivial to move my mind from the depths of my heart it had gone to.

We walked quietly through the walls with memories in large print for us to relive with each survivor. Every so often Nate would beckon me to something in particular. Every so often I would beckon him. We moved slowly.

The cuff of my sleeve was stretched out and damp.

Rounding the corner took my breath away. One wall filled with names. Another wall, pictures of them laughing, hugging their daughter, playing baseball with their son, at their grandma's birthday party, smiling so broadly. My lungs could not find air, my vision was reeling. These people were me.

A rose lay on the floor.



I was still numb.

I didn't expect it to affect me this way.

God, help us. Help us see You. I don't understand the making of the tapestry or why threads are woven a certain way, but I stand firm in the faith that it will be beautiful. I know You don't cause these things. I know You didn't cause 9/11. And I know You didn't cause Ian's diabetes. I know You didn't cause Grandad to die when it was supposed to be a routine surgery. I know You didn't cause my sister's friend to develop a rare form of lymphoma as she's juggling new motherhood. I know You have given us free will, and our earth is fallen and broken. We as a people are fallen and broken. I know You came as a man, choosing to be the blameless sacrifice that our earth could never provide. I know You are truth. I know You are hope. I know You are light. I know You are sovereign and You can rescue and You can heal and You can prevent and You can protect. I know our tapestry is woven IN SPITE OF our own choices. I also know that I will not understand the deepest weaving, but that it is beautiful. It is a miracle. One that only You can accomplish. Thank You for being a tower we can rest in when we don't understand. Thank You for letting us cry and be angry and mourn, and for holding us close through it all. Some of us choose not to feel Your arms around us, but You are there. You are always there.

Thank you for letting it affect me this way.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crazy World

Evidently "auctioning off virginity" is a more acceptable term than "prostitution." Money for sex is money for sex, no matter how you say it or where the money is going to go.

Honey, you only get to give it to one person. And remember that forgiveness doesn't save you from consequences.

Oh, how I wish I could reach you...
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Women of Faith 2008

Four dear friends. Shopping. Food. Silliness. Laughter. Tears. Women of Faith was awesome. We shopped our way to Anaheim on Thursday, which included burying our toes in the shaggy oversized rug at the Camarillo Ugg Outlet.

Yes! It's an Ugg OUTLET!!! There was also Juicy, Coach, Betsey Johnson (we all tried on at least one dress), Michael Kors... albeit, the Gap is more in my price range. But I looked. And drooled. I did almost get a Juicy tee, but it was too thin! I'm not paying $20.00, which was 80% off, for something you can see through. Sheesh. Let's be reasonable here.

Us at the pre-conference. I had a few moments of panic when all my advanced planning to get the perfect seats was sent willy-nilly with the large crowd of jostling women (Yes, jostling. It gives you a good visual.) and event staff that couldn't direct me to the correct location of will call. But, all was not lost. Due to fast thinking friends named Tammy and fast running to said perfect seats, we arose triumphant! Perfect seats. PERFECT seats.

Anita Renfroe, Patsy Clairmont, and Jan Silvious spoke... if you can call dancing around the stage "speaking." Look at Anita's shoes! I wish I had a better picture. Red patent pointy-toed stilettos. Oh, baby.

Look at THAT! When I see the work of a brilliant mind I am compelled to share. Cup holders. In the BATHROOM. A thing of beauty. I could now "use the facilities" in peace knowing that my $5.00 cup of happiness was safe. I swear those weren't there last year. And I hope all other arenas in America take note: Angela White says you need cupholders in your bathroom. In fact, maybe I should install them in MY bathrooms.

This was the first year I was able to attend the Members Only Reception prior to the main conference. (Thanks to my mom-in-law!) From left to right that's Sandi Patty, Marilyn Meberg, my dear Mary Graham, Sandi's daughter whose name escapes me, and Luci Swindoll. But, take a look at this next picture...

Marilyn had on black patent leather boots! They were awesome! I just had to post a photo for my sassy shoe loving readers. I want to be on the Women of Faith team just so I can have their cool shoes. Well, it goes way deeper than that. But isn't that the bottem-line issue for any decision? What shoes you get to wear?

My dearest, dearest Mary Graham. This woman has affected my life in such ways she will never fully know. When you move from state to state, not always knowing when or where you're going, people who make you feel at home are treasured. There are so many things I could say, and so many things I would never have the words to. Thank you, Mary. You've been a mentor to me without even knowing it.

Look who Amber and I got our picture with! Pasty is adorable. She may only be five-foot-something-or-other, but she's one of the tallest standing women I've ever met.

Lalena, Amber, and Tammy... thank you for coming with me. Thank you for letting the "C" in my almost always "I" personality show through, and for loving me anyway. Thank you for sharing the emotions, for making memories, and for holding me accountable to the truths we learned together. I love you girls.

What an awesome time it was. Every year God has something new and fresh in store for me. (I mean, last year was amazing, especially when God added in something extra-special. And the year before was awesome, too.) Every year I wonder if I'll be able to go, and somewhere inside assume I won't. But every year I do, and I get refreshed, renewed, and ready to launch into more of what my Creator has laid out for me. No matter what city the Air Force takes this family to, Women of Faith will be there. It's my home.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In Case You Missed It: Palin's RNC Speech

It's worth taking the time to watch, if you haven't already. (Just make sure you pause the new music player I installed today!)

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I Spy: The "Under The Couch" Edition

They're the words every parent dreads hearing. A punch to the gut. The realization that you now have to deal with reality.

"Mom, I dropped the remote behind the couch."

Of course, I did what every great mother would do: "Umm... we'll wait 'til Daddy gets home."

Fast-forward to that evening. The kids are in bed. We're settling in to watch a movie and...

"Babe, where's the remote?"

Uh-oh.

Pulling out the couch has to be the biggest reality check you can possibly have. It's like moving the coffee table or recliner times 10. You just don't do it without a prior scheduled counseling session and the pantry being stocked with Coke and chocolate. I had neither.

Everything looks pulled together and normal, but... muah, hah, hah. (That's an evil laugh, by the way.) Little Miss Perfect goes skipping out the door when you're staring at an entire deck of cards, an entire Candy Land game complete with tin lid from the collector's box, enough legos to build the Death Star, a few chewed on sucker sticks, and dust that could be considered part of the food pyramid because it's mixed with enough Pixie Stick residue to thwart off Tinkerbell.

Good thing Little Miss Perfect never lived here to begin with.

And, you know, it's something that's so uplifting and at the top of my priority list after the kids are in bed and we're trying to relax. Nate's heaving one end up while I'm reaching as far as I can with the broom, but I can't see through the dust cloud that's risen and we wind up having to transplant the entire thing to the opposite side of the room anyway. So you might as well clean the whole mess rather than just dig out the lost remote. It's even better with a sectional. You can't put the one side back and NOT do the other side, because now you know the reality of what lies beneath and no one will ever be able to enjoy a quiet evening when competing with thoughts of what a negligent mother you are because crayons are crying for their home beneath your propped up feet.

Twenty-five minutes later we have the remote and are staring at the pile uncovered beneath the behemoth of a sectional sofa that I am so grateful for. (Seriously. I get emotional when I think of the blessing of that couch.)

"Leave it," says Nate. "I want the kids to see where their stuff went."


The pile is almost as BIG as the couch itself.


I spy some legos, a queen with a heart,
A bright yellow pencil and a helicopter part.

I'm good. They should hire me as a writer.
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day 2008

It was a glorious weekend filled with lots of lounging and family time. Two things that go very well together and plain don't come around often enough for us. We did the movie thing, which is rare for this household. The verdict:

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry & Three Pigs and a Baby - ick.

Game Plan, The Bucket List, & Juno - yes.

We didn't get a chance to watch Nancy Drew.

Yesterday we went to the beach with friends. It's been a while since we've gone, and it was so much fun. The foggy, cool day burned off to be a sunny, mildly warm one. Nate and the kids were basically boogie boarding in the water almost the entire four and a half hours we were there. They were so happy and exhausted by day's end!



Friends were kind enough to let us borrow their boards. I don't think this one fits Nate as well as it does Ian.

Happy Jordan.


From left: Some Random Stranger, Nate, Brit, Taylor and Jordan.


This dead jellyfish was a crowd pleaser when it washed ashore.


A few Twizzlers to revive energy.


The Amazing Cindy & Amber teamed up to conquer chilly waves. Alas, they were braver than I.


I cheered all on from the warm sandy beach.


It was a good day to fall asleep, as demonstrated by Rob.

Check out the blogs of friends who went with: Amber, Abby, & Anne
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