Merry Christmas Judy

When out of nowhere yesterday, I found myself flooded with tears as I was SHOPPING. I was at Mardel (Christian bookstore) and probably saw a little angel or scripture that triggered it.

But it was a wave of incredible grief.

It was for my birthmother, Judy.

In a previous post, I eluded to this love story that happened in my life in October. It's a long story ... well, not so long in telling, but long in emotion. I can't write it yet.

My search was tentative but once we started, it took only a few days to find her. In one phone conversation with a volunteer researcher, I learned her name, the day she was born and ... the day she died.

The teenager who selflessly let her child go to a family with a mom and a dad, grew up, suffered through failed marriages, addictions, abuse and had two more children. She was funny, a free spirit, vulgar, a great friend, adventurous and beautiful. She beieved in God. I would say she was also hopeful. And she waited for me to knock on the door the minute I turned 18 years old.

She died at age 43. That's when I was a young married 26-year-old.

The whirlwind of finding her also led to a half-sister that I have met and am getting to know. That is so so wonderful. And we both admit, is strange. But I'm sure I'll get to all of that later.

It might seem strange to mourn someone I never met. But I was part of her. And in all of my years wondering about her, and thanking God for her, I never dreamed she would not be here anymore.

She died without knowing I was okay, which was one of her wishes and mine.

She died?

Lately, when all of this floods over me ... all of the new history of myself that I have, concern about my family and letting them know I love them, getting to know a new sister ... I just wish it wasn't me, not my story. Too complicated. I'm too busy. Yet, I trust God in it, and thank Him for his timing. He knew.

I'm okay, Judy. Merry Christmas. And thank you. I love you and will see you in heaven.

Peace and Fun

Here it comes. Christmas weekend. The long Christmas weekend. Lots of activity ... lots of cooking, traveling and being nice to family. (and lots of fun).

Still, I tend to veer close to meltdown.

The kids and I came up with a plan. If they observe me being stressed out, they are going to say, "Mom, I love you. Peace and Fun."

They practiced it several times yesterday while they were standing on the couch, pounding on the piano, fighting with each other, chewing their food too loudly.

It works.

Limb envy

So I encouraged Giles to help pick up the limbs at a neighbor's house. Their mighty oak suffered mightily in the ice storm. Husband travels, they have a toddler ... so we thought we'd help a bit.

G started dragging the limbs to OUR curbside. He was embarrassed by our wimpy limb pile from our one tree that actually survived the storm pretty well. And Stan cut up a lot of those branches to keep for future camping trips.

G wanted to beef up our limb pile.

It's all about status ... and being one of the "haves."

It is so difficult to be among the have nots.

Okay, sweetie, drag those limbs ... but you'll have to figure out how to be content and grateful when you open the NOTS in the packages under the limbs of our Christmas tree!


Guess I should update to say we are now warm and toasty in our own home. It took four days and just as we were getting the hang of how to live life away from our house (with awesome meals prepared for us, other people's towels to use, and wifi), the power returned.

Giles cried. His cousin Chaney just got home for Christmas break from college, and they were having a blast.

But it's good to be home. The limbs are sort of cleaned up, except for about two million tooth pick sized twigs from the neighbor's oak. The fridge is sparkling clean and refilling. The freezer is full of venison (I'm cooking up a stew for Stan's fam this weekend). The laundry is caught up. The fish survived. And being away from my home computer and forced to check my webmail prompted me to trash more than 5,000 accumulated emails. That felt good.

It was a weird week. It was kind of tricky to handle the "out of power" life and related chores with the normal life. I never do that well anyway. I got one of the biggest shocks of my life when I discovered the world did not stop when I had my first baby. Everything went on ... and we were expected to truck right along. It took to the third kid to realize, no, we can get off the truck and live life differently ... slower.

It was a weird week and a weird year. Weird. Good in so many ways. God has revealed much. He's stirred up much. He's helped us grow. But it's been, well, weird.

I blame a lot of that on some of the books I've read this year ... books that challenged my thinking (or challenged me to think) on such topics as home educating, immigration, taking care of the poor, sweat shops, whole foods, slavery, war, civil rights, Jesus, his apostles, and more ...

Someone ... get me a dimestore novel.

Warm and toasty ...

at Stan's sisters house where we slept in a warm house, after two nights building our character in our cold house. Hot baths, warm beds, lights, tv ... and this morning, hot breakfast, not made by the mother! We are living large.

Things we miss about electricity, (contributors G, L & G and mom).
1. heat
2. webkins
3. lights
4. video games
5. freezer that protects our food, including our venison!
6. blow dryer
7. clean underwear
9. Reading lamps

The bright side of no electricity
1. At least a dozen offers of places to stay from family and friends! (blessed!)
2. eating out nearly every meal
3. laundry vacation
4. another cooking vacation!
5. appreciating excesses of our spoiled lives
6. singing Christmas carols by candlelight
7. batteries for flashlights
8. candles
9. It could be a lot colder
10. It's not The Long Winter
11. Dad's job where he is presently, and unable to contribute his two cents to this post!

That's all for now. Time to play Monopoly.

Ice Tour

Thank you for the ice ...

It's a sad commentary on our lives that I hardly ever see "Stan's laugh" anymore. The kind where he shakes and cries. He laughs so hard it looks painful but is contagious. We don't laugh that way very often ... and I'm not sure the kids have ever seen it.

Oh that is sad. Where has the mirth gone?

But they saw it last night immediately following the evening prayer. Lydia volunteered to pray, and we all threw out prayer reminders to her. One of us said, "remember the ice."

So she thanked God for the ice storm.

He held it together til after the amen and then dear Stan, the one who took the bus to work because we couldn't even crack into the 1/2 inch ice shell around our vehicles, the one who has dragged our crashed limbs and the neighbors' crashed limbs out of driveways and streets, has checked on the powerless (electricity wise) ... lost it.

Laugh. Shake. Tears. Compose. Laugh. Shake. Tears. Compose. Laugh. Shake. Tears. "Lydia, please come back to the table." Laugh. Shake. Tears.

She initially got her feelings hurt because we laughed "at" her, but we coaxed her back to the table. She just couldn't miss this mirth ... even if it was at her expense!

While we were explaining how we were not "laughing AT you" we all came up with reasons to thank God for the ice storm. Because she is right, and we thank God for all things.

We were thankful for the moisture that our state needs ...
We were thankful for the beauty ...
We were thankful that our power has held ... (that sounds so selfish given all those whose power is out)
We were thankful for fun outside observing all of the God-made ice sculptures.
We were thankful for his care.
We were thankful for the day when mom didn't make us do math
We were thankful for the laughs!


Need to update that Stan the Man fixed the range in about five minutes. On his birthday. With assistance from Giles. Saved $350. Cooking vacation is over. We were going to bake his birthday cake today to celebrate, but didn't get to it. So I baked fish for dinner instead!

Coconut cake coming soon.

He fixed the washer too. The usual method for that is to bang around some hoses, but mostly pray, we pray over it.

The Deerslayer

Tricky business to share this news with anyone who reads who doesn't, er, uh, share the same verve that a certain someone in our house possesses for deer hunting. It's not for the squeamish.

Nevertheless, much hoopla around here about our oldest son and his first deer.

Here is how Giles told the story in an email (with an attched picture that I'm not posting here) to a fellow hunter ...

behold my spike once in the back leg and once in the
shoulder 54,field dressed-2 from his head pounds but he is mine!!!!!!
antlers were about an uncle rick couldn't believe I shot it
we had just gone out for lunch. and we decided to stalk hunt for
awhile we had just crossed over
a fence 3 minutes before I shot it was 30 yards we thought he
didn''t see us because away about a 100 yards and it right by us I
pulled the trigger at 12:45

This was an 11th hour deer. Last day of the season. Our whole family was thrilled because we did not want to imagine the next year living with him as he lamented his misses.

Hunting is his passion. So, we cheer him on. I am grateful we don't have to mount anything or need to reserve any wall space for a trophy! We do have a little meat for the freezer and an upcoming feast.

Way to go Giles.

Two Day Vacation

UPDATE: We are on an extended vacation from cooking! Appliance professional quoted a cost to fix the range that neared its original cost and surpassed the cost of some brand new ranges! Stan has ordered the part online and he will fix it himself. It's supposed to arrive today. Meantime, I have to call a washing machine professional ... washer is out ... again.

When out of nowhere, our stove/oven stopped working last night. That's not exactly true. It would not turn OFF and began beeping incessantly and flashing an "F1" message after it switched from bake to broil for my veggie casserole. Because my wonderful husband knows where all of our manuals are, he found the manual and looked up the meaning of the "F1" message. Although we already knew what it would mean.

"If the fault code and beeps continue, disconnect power to the applicance and call an authorized servicer."

Of course we knew this. It makes perfect sense. Baking season. Gift season. Tight budget season. Added to the year of major repairs to our home/vehicles.

Said servicer doesn't come until Thursday.

I choose to look at it as a two-day vacation from cooking. An excuse for cereal and sandwiches for every meal! The kids will start begging for pizza any minute. I'm trying not to remember that I have a bread maker, crock-pot, griddle, microwave and probably five other heat giving appliances to help us through this time.

Ah, vacation!

Lydia on YouTube

We'll call her Dawn

Chandy always makes up names for the folks she writes about at Cross & Crown. It protects the privacy of the people she talks about. The teens. The illegal immigrants. The drunks. And all of the other children of God she has the blessing of working with every day.

I have a little story about a "friend." We'll call her Dawn because when I see her, I see myself, or what could be me or any of us. We could also call her Jesus.

Dawn and I go back a few years. I met her at the mission. We've visited off and on on Sunday nights. I've given her a few rides. Bought her milk now and then. We ate dinner together once at a local Chinese restaurant when I was writing an article about her for the mission's newsletter. (Not because I just wanted to take her out to eat to visit). Recently, I've seen her walking in my neighborhood. When I see her, I always think of scriptures about entertaining angels, and doing for the least of these. Most of the time, I look the other way.

I know she likes egg foo young and vanilla ice cream. She likes whole milk and she always wears a scarf over her hair. Her purse is a plastic grocery bag. She gave me a dollar once for gas. She believes in Jesus. She wears sandals. And when I see her feet, they at once remind of Bible times and the necessity/courtesy of washing one's feet when entering a home, and also make me cringe because her feet are so dirty and worn. She walks. Everywhere.

I helped her move once.

After that experience, I kind of "dropped" her. The experience was very frightening and disturbing. And it showed me exactly how torturous mental health disease could be in this life. And it gave me a poignant picture of what heaven will be like for people like Dawn when they will not suffer any more. Heavenly!

Dawn is someone who needs help but you can't help her. She's someone who is desperate but survives. She is also funny.

Tonight I dropped her home and found out where she is living (wew. safe place.) She was telling me that recently she was "resting her eyes" in a well lit parking lot of a convenience store. Someone woke her up. I thought she was going to tell me that they wanted her to move, or to give her some money.

Instead, she said this man asked her if she had a quarter.

We both belly laughed. I don't know why it was so funny. Of course, she gave him the quarter.

Not even a tablespoon

Earlier today, I was lauding this new online vocabulary game that awards ten grains of rice to feed the hungry for each correct answer. I played until I won 500 grains of rice, then wondered how much that was exactly. I was very naive thinking it might be a cup or half a cup. WRONG!

Still, this question provided great "Math You See" today. Great application of seeing math work. After Giles also earned 500 grains of rice on the game, he counted rice, ten grains at a time, then lined them up in five rows of ten piles.

We got Lydia and Grant in on the fun. We discussed and saw the rows of rice and the different ways it added up and multiplied to 50o.

Then we got out a couple of rice bowls - a tiny bowl that is probably really a sauce bowl, and a little rice bowl (bought from our local favorite Asian market). Still optimistic. The rice barely covered the bottom of the tiny bowl.

Then we got out the measuring spoons and our contribution was barely a paltry (one of the test words) tablespoon each.

Giles observed that a "vocabulary professor" should get on that game and play for four hours straight and really help people.

Free Rice

Now this is so cool. I get a "click school" email every day that gives us an educational website for the kids to visit. Wednesday is Language Arts day and this week, our click was for the Free Rice vocabulary game for the World Food Programme. (Apparently I live under a rock, since this thing is all over the Internet. But I like my rock).

You play a vocabulary game and earn 10 grains of rice for each correct answer that will go to feed the hungry. How fun. I must confess it was really hard (for me) NOT to cheat! Right answers feed people! However, you get one wrong and another word appears that you might know so you can keep filling your rice bag. The game automatically adjusts to your language level whether you are learning English or are scholarly.

Apparently there's no end to the game and I wonder how it knows what my contribution is because I couldn't find a submit button or anything. Maybe it's just one massive counter tabulating all of the correct words all over the world all day long?

I stopped at 500 grains of rice. It is FUN. But how much is 500 grains of rice? Half cup. One cup. Two pitiful tablespoons? I have no idea.

So there's our math for the day too! Counting rice.

Here's the link to the game and a related article. Play it and feed someone or sometwo or somethree.

Happy Birthday Lydia

A beautiful heart story goes with this picture. Praise God for giving us Joy Neel who took this picture for us Sunday when Lydia committed her life to Jesus.

Let's see if God gives me the words to match my heart to write about this. Then again, this picture might say it all. Thanks Joy.

Sunset Dinner

Took these pictures at Stan's folks house in September.

Preach on, child.

Really could not have said it better myself.



If he wasn't such a cool kid, ten would be harder on his mom. When my friends' kids turned ten, I marveled that they had been parents for a decade. And those little babies that we cuddled and snuggled and kissed and bounced and babysat while we all tried to keep juggling our work and "before-kid-social lives," and while their younger siblings were born (!), had hit the double digits. Big deal.

Now it's our turn. TEN.
October of 1997 was both a long time ago, and just yesterday.

Overnight it seems he has outwardly spurned (though secretly loved) the toys of his boyhood. GI Joes, legos and even stuffed animals still play a big role in his life, but now it's crowded out by things like hunting rifles, stunt bikes and guitars.

He is offended when we demand he order off of the kids' menu at restaurants, and suddenly he is concerned about his hair, and is even getting spunkier with his clothes (this was delightful to me though, that he branched out to wear plaid shorts this summer, and considered a pink tshirt).

He is assigned man chores. He is who I call when any electronics need to be hooked up or moved. He can carry some heavy things for me. He's growing up and it is so exciting to see the man God is growing. And that God entrusted us to do the parent thing with this precious boy.

He had a kayaking birthday party which is ten million times better than the Chuck E Cheese gigs we tried to pull off when he was THREE and (what were we thinking?) FOUR. Giles spent his actual birthday "weekend" in the deer woods with his uncle on a youth hunt. Let's just say the freezer remains empty but he had a great time!

Happy Birthday Giles!

Early Birds

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes we are in the right place EARLY. Our family and friends camped out for the Oklahoma Centennial Parade about THREE hours before it started. We wanted to beat the hundreds of thousands of people who were also coming and would take up the good parking places.

We parked one block from the parade route and called ownership of the street corner (though not in THAT way, as someone pointed out).

Here's the look when we got there, and a couple of hours later.

Happy Birthday Oklahoma.

It was a great great day. We packed a picnic and games and had some incredible people watching and surprisingly saw lots of old friends.

Statehood Day isn't for another month, so we are thinking of something awesome to do.

Lots going around here lately. I have a love story to share. But I can't write it down just yet. Too busy living it! :-)

In the mail today

A slick flyer with beautiful children (stock photos?) in happy pictures of getting on school buses, writing on chalkboards (with a very low-cut shirt) and wearing caps and gowns arrived in the mail today along with several toy catalogs(?!).

The flyer is from an outfit called Citizens for Kids who wants me to vote yes on a bond issue for the OKC public schools. I don't know who the citizens are or if they have children in this school district but the group shares the same address with chamber. So definitely, yes, they are for the kids, I mean, for "education."

I just had to stop and reflect on who I've become and all that's changed in our hearts, practices and beliefs since we left public school. Not long ago, I'd have a Vote Yes for the Kids sign in my yard. Now I feel like my parents or neighbor who have never met a bond issue/tax increase they liked.

Citizens for Kids says they've "seen the progress of Maps for Kids and have every reason to be proud."

Really? I'm still waiting to see the progress. My only reference is for our neighborhood school. We remember being thrilled when Maps for Kids passed because our school was going to have a five million dollar renovation (that's what the slick flyer said anyway) and would change to a PK-8 school from PK - 5. This was back before our son started school ... so I thought certainly all of that construction would happen well before he entered sixth grade thereby taking care of the fear of sending our kids to middle school in OKC.

He's in fourth grade now. And not a shovel has been turned.

But there have been architectural plans drawn. And redrawn.

They were drawn to make this one school a K-8 facility. Then the former supt didn't like that voter approved model, so the plans were redrawn for a K-6 facility. Then the plans were redrawn when money was taken away from our school to accommodate growth in other parts of the district. It was redrawn when the gym was taken away.

This all happened before we left our school three years ago. (For different reasons than construction ... mostly God's perfect timing!)

Did I mention not one shovel has been turned yet? I still drive by the place.

How much Maps for Kids money has been spent on architectural plans that have been drawn and drawn again. Just for one school. There are about 50 more elementary schools in the district. No one will ever know because no one cares. There are no legitimate watchdogs to this program. All of the news media applauds it, the newspaper prints nauseating editorials endorsing it. Who watches the money? Where's the accountability?

This slick flyer also says that if I vote yes, "we can build new classrooms for all-day kindergarten, improve safety and security, ensure our students have the technology they need, replace buses and build 47 gymnasiums."

Okay. This makes me excited to send my five year old child to school all-day in a building that will be able to be on lockdown with safety and security to protect him from bad people who will come in with guns?

At least he'll have a gym!

Then again, no thanks. We'll learn to read at home.

I know I sound very judgmental and probably hypocritical.

Our home school is dependent on God's will, and we could be back in a school setting, even in OKC, someday. It's his deal. And to be sure, I ask Him about it all of the time! If we went back, I guess I'd ask questions again. It's just my nature. The former supt dismissed me when I asked a question. Quite rudely. The principal scolded me for asking questions. Enough.

It is easier to be home. And I love it. And praise God for erasing that distraction from my number one priority of raising our kids to love God. That could not happen for us at school. It wasn't very long ago that Giles told me something he remembered hearing on the playground back when he was in first grade. It was naughty and involved dill pickles. FIRST GRADE. And I bagged those stinking pickles every single week and sold them for a quarter! FIRST GRADE.

I don't know about this vote. I don't believe all day kindergarten equals better schools. I don't believe this added money (even without raising taxes) is the answer. I believe they could have done it and done it well with the money they had. And could have been DONE with it by now.

I'm finding it pretty easy to not vote. Go apathy.

Which reminds me, I recently read Barack Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope. I just love that title, and finally checked the book out at the library. Interesting read. He is an excellent writer with a beautiful style. Great vocabulary. Great insight into the founding of our country. Excellent analysis of history concerning the Senate, the presidency and Americans. Neat stories about meeting "W" and other important people.

He had an interesting upbringing living for a few years in Indonesia. I agree on some points regarding his worldview and what part America plays and should play in it. Including the observation that most of us don't know where Indonesia is (I do thanks to our world map shower curtain!)

He does a good bit of whining about being absent from his wife and children. But thinks he has a higher calling that will make their world a better place.

Not saying I'm going to get an "O" bumper sticker or anything. But I think I like him. Giles doesn't approve of my opinion! But he's not HER. No doubt he would run off to the Catskills if I brought home one of Hillary's books.

Has Fred Thompson written any books? Or will Law & Order reruns do? (I like him too.)


We just finished reading On the Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Graighead George. It's the second in the three-book series that started with My Side of the Mountain.

To say these are books made for Giles would be an understatement. Boy runs away to live on mountain by himself. Lives entirely off the land. After we finished the book, we dashed to the computer to answer Giles questions on whether there really are Catskill Mountains, if there is a Delhi, New York, or if Sam Gribley is real!

The answers are yes, yes and no. But looking up Delhi (Dell-high) led me to look up my hometown, Fennville, MI. The wikipedia description sounded pretty accurate, though I was surprised neither my name nor the names of anyone I knew were listed in the "famous residents: past and present!" ha.

Wikipedia had a link that led to Fennville: Haven for the Creative Class .

What a click! Who knew? Our trips home generally revolve around lounging at my parents home and exploring their woods, and trips to Lake Michigan, and to the nearby tourist town for over-priced ice cream and million dollar yacht gawking.

I thought this town, where my mom and dad struggled for years to make it in their flower shop and lumber yard ... was dying. It was dying when I got out of there 21 years ago. Seemed everyone went to the big town up the road for groceries, flowers, lumber, gas, entertainment. Glad to see things have changed ... according to this one article. And that big boxes aren't drying up every town in America. That really is a relief (and such a sunny thought after all of this pondering about trails of tears, slavery and border control).

Our family back home isn't the type to run in the circles of the "creative class" ... but I sure would love to slip into that Journeyman Cafe next time we're home!

Go Fennville!

Trail of Tears

Not to be confused with the Chisholm Trail of the last post, we saw part of the Choctaw Trail of Tears last weekend. We were at a family reunion that was held at the "Choctaw Family Investment Center" in Broken Bow. It was a very nice place, adjoined by a Boys & Girls Club, new Headstart building and sports fields. Behind the buildings, local lore says, is a little paved road that is supposed to be part of the Choctaw Trail of Tears. Of course my home school mom ears perked up at that bit of info.

This trail is not very far from the "End of Trail" motel where Stan's parents spent their wedding night in 1954! It didn't occur to any of us until this weekend that it really was the End of Trail for the Choctaws who "resettled" in this part of the country after being forced out of their homes in Mississippi.

Here's some info that I found online tonight about that specific trail (not to be confused with the other Trails of Tears that afflicted the Cherokees and other tribes) ...

The signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 between the Choctaw people of Mississippi and the United States government signified the removal of the Choctaw people from their land. The removal was orchestrated through a series of five-hundred mile walks to reservation lands in Oklahoma.

The suffering caused by the mistakes and inefficiency of the War Department, combined with one of the region’s worst blizzards in history, was indescribable. Transportation problems became critical; wagons were in short supply and many roads became impassable except by foot.

The walks resulted in the loss of a substantial number of the participants and are now known as the Choctaw Trail of Tears. Thus, the Trail of Tears carries with it a strong reminder of the perseverance of the Choctaw people--both those who walked the trail, and those who remained behind in defiance of the removal treaties.

Can you imagine? I want to start railing about the past sins of our country but I don't have adequate words. What can we say about such greed, mercilessness, prejudice and murder? We have seen it played out again and again in our country.

What can we do? Pray for guidance as we train up God's future leaders ...

Chisholm Trail

We hitched up and drove out to meet the Chisholm Trail last night in Okarche. We found them about midway of their month long reenactment of driving 250 (real) steer across the state up the Chisholm trail as part of one of our state's Centennial events. Modern conveniences sure are slowing them down. They have to go around fences, highways, box stores and other obstacles of the 21st century. We got there too late to see them come in, but we visited the camp, saw the tired steer, tired cowboys and tired horses.

We also saw that the re-enactors (I read somewhere that one is a priest who took his vacation to do this, much to the concern of the members of his parish) CHEATED. We spotted store bought bread on the chuck wagon, cattle trucks ... and a travelling port-a-potty. Can't blame them.

It was a great adventure for our family, and the kind we like best. Country. Free. No expensive concessions. And no tshirts to buy.

After, we found a park in Okarche and had a picnic, watched the sun set below a wheat field. And discussed again whether we could survive out in the country if we had a farm. The pull is strong!

Now, maybe I've seen it all

Posted on the light poles at a nearby busy intersection.


$200 Reward

Lost Beretta at McDonalds

Call Guido at ???->>>>
No questions asked

Only the Guido part is made up. Seriously.

I have several thoughts and questions, and envision several scenarios of who might have picked up that gun? Someone eating a Happy Meal?

But all of my thoughts are obvious, so why bother.

Speaking of another example of how this world is not our own, and how we are here to live in it and not of it, read Chandy's UndergroundOKC last post about her Bible study last night.

That's some heavy stuff. And I can't even imagine, any of it - deportation of family members, moms in jail, siblings in boot camp ... man. My life is so charmed.
Please pray for the Rock Groups. I would have named mine Air Supply back in da day!

Prayer lessons and heritage

I checked out a book at our church library over the summer. Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster. He first wrote it in the late 70s, and it's one of those books that I always hear that we should read but I never have.

This particular copy was donated to the library by an elderly couple from our church who have now passed away from this life. It was very sweet to see their names hand-written on the inside cover, and also to see that either she or he had underlined several points in the book. It was so neat to see what this precious son or daughter of our Lord, who were lifelong followers of Christ, thought was important as they read through the book. And it led to wondering how they might have grown as a result even though this copy was a "Special 20th Anniversary Edition" printed in 1998, when this couple might have been content to live out the rest of their years practicing what they already knew. Instead, they were seeking even closer relationships with God.

When my own Grandmother, Virginia Giles (isn't that a beautiful name?), died a few years ago, the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren participated in the sad exercise of choosing what things of hers we wanted. I requested her Bible. It is a King James version, soft cover that I can still picture spread across her lap on those mornings when I would wake up on her couch after spending the night when I was a little girl. There she'd be reading it. The book is full of her notes written in her hand-writing that resembles my mother and sister's printing. I don't read that Bible very often, however. I just can't do King James very well, preferring my New Living Translation or even the New International version of the Bible. Still, looking at that Bible reminds of how much it was the rock and the sword that guided her through a very long life with lots of heartache, hard work ... and joy.

So back to the Foster book. Here are some of the underlines in the beginning chapter about prayer.

We can determine if we are praying correctly if the requests come to pass.

One of the most critical aspects in learning to pray for others is to get in contact with God so that his life and power can flow through us into others.

We begin praying for others by first quieting our fleshly activity and listening to the silent thunder of the Lord of hosts.

Listening to the Lord is the first thing, the second thing, and the third thing necessary for successful intercession.

We must hear, know and obey the will of God before we pray it into the lives of others.

Great miracles are possible through faith the size of a tiny mustard seed.

If we have God-given compassion and concern for others, our faith will grow and strengthen as we pray.

There are many more underlined points throughout the book on the chapters on fasting, simplicity and study.

It's high time I return this book to the library (I'm thankful for extended grace on overdue books) but I wanted to write this post first. I've since bought my own copy of Foster's important book.

And let us pray.

It was only a suggestion

but it was met with a statement that is now the quote of the day.

"I am not doing school work while I am on the pot."

And in other memorable quotes of the last couple of days ...

Grant: "May I have some more fish?"(it was baked with veggies and herbs. YES! YES! YES!)

and to the question to Lydia while she typed an email to her Daddy letting him know she "read a whole book." ... What does the word "whole" start with?

Lydia: "W" ... (YES. YES. YES!)

The wells we did not dig

Here's a link to one of my favorite blogs, from a local veteran homeschooler. I say favorite, even though her recent posts about scheduling gives me a stomach-ache.

Get up at 5:30?
Spend three hours on Sunday preparing school lessons for the upcoming week?

Ack. It was good for me to hear though and an encouragement to work harder. And I love the idea of making the kids do laps around the neighborhood (if it was safe) when they disrespect, or give attitude about math!

Check out her post about The Invisible Woman.

I know all moms will relate, as well as those who also serve in many other ways to bless their families, friends and fellow humans.

A-B-C Easy as 1-2-3

The Jackson Five got back together for a one-time only reunion appearance recently. There are no other pictures, and the performance sadly won't make it to you tube. And we didn't make the idol cut either.

Glimpse of hubby's life

Stan and I rarely talk on the phone during the work day. He's working, and very busy, so we reserve calls for only emergencies. I recall a few of those calls ....

another time ...
"Don't panic. Our house has been burglarized. Can you come home?"
and then ...

There have been other less hysterical (not the funny kind) calls to Daddy's work. But those three came quickly to mind. Then I realized that all three of those calls occurred within about six weeks.

Anyway, no reason for that digression to the point ... which is ... though I don't call, I do email. That's no surprise to anyone who knows me!

I fired off something to him earlier about this and that. No biggies just stuff about what he wants for dinner or what he's wearing right now!! And what he's thinking about all of my thoughts.

His reply:
"I refuse to think. I've been thinking too much today and my brain is mush! Should I apply compression dressings on wounds that don't have current arterial studies? Should home health get involved with this wound? Should the patient be on antibiotics; should the doctor be disturbed/paged from their 40 million patients to have me say "maybe you should look at this"? should I pick at that piece of black stuff or is that a cauterized artery?"

Oh dear. Happy Monday. And gross. Who said physical therapy was a glam job?

Now my big question ... what sort of cocktail should I have ready for HIM when he comes home?

New Name

When I referred to Grant as "Willis" earlier today ... as in "whatchoo talkin bout Willis?," Grant informed me that is NOT his name.

He said his name is BOB. Spelled backward with an "e" and an "s."

Roger doger. boB-es!


Her seventh year began with us referring to Lydia as "Nanny McPhee" with her dangling teeth.

Her eighth year begins with big teeth, shorter hair, taller and an excitement for life!

Five Seven Nine

I didn't intend to wait until the eleventh hour to shoot the last 5, 7, 9 picture of the kids. We took this on the day our middle child turned EIGHT, but technically, we had not yet marked her late night birth hour of August 18, 1999!

I remember totally partying that day like it was 1999! (not). But the day ended pretty swell!
Happy Birthday Lovie.

Today's miracle

Check out Chandy's latest blog entry if you need some hope for the day, and something exciting to pray about!

What doesn't kill you ...

makes you stronger.


Who says that anyway? I say what doesn't kill you makes you want a smoke and a strong drink. Or at least a pedicure.

All right. All right. Just because I'm nice and home school and all that doesn't mean I've forsaken my sass. Because I wouldn't have put that nasty cartoon up a few entries ago about Stan's wake up habits. It was too funny to pass up for this particularly named couple, although the post probably damaged my pristine reputation! And I've felt a little naughty about it.

So, for the last four days, we've been a family of five kids. The new additions are our great nephews. I mean "great" in that they are our niece's boys, though they are great in many other ways too, especially when they're asleep!

I could not jovially post anything about this earlier today. Especially when the three year old "missed" the potty entirely, spraying most of the bathroom, soaking his last clean pair of undies and tshirt ... while his almost two year old brother grabbed Stan's water cup by his side of the bed (the door was supposed to stay closed because it also is the hideout room for Giles' guitar, Lydia's doll -- not toddler -- stroller, pictures that lined a low shelf, and a few noisy cars) and dumped it, no doubt trying to simulate the Red River from the bedside through the hall. Did I mention that was simultaneous? What do you do? Dress boy, sop up pee or sop up water trail on wood floor?

We've relearned a few things about having toddlers in the house.

... there is a proportional relationship between the height of fingerprints on the walls and door facings to the rise of breakable items (and favorite toys of the older children) to top shelves and mantles.

... manufacturers of noisy cars, vehicles, toys and "computers" should serve hard time.

... pbs is good ... even Barney

... a lapful of kids while rocking in the chair is good

... but a lapful of kids who have almost dozed off assures the phone will ring

... when you're almost two, your mission in life is to "seek and destroy"

... a toddler has never encountered a button he could not resist touching

... the top bunk is irresistible

... peek-a-boo almost always works

... a few rounds of "head shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes" will cause sore thigh muscles for the out of shape adult the next day

... the adult can still pull off watering down apple juice unbeknownst to the toddler demanding "more apple juice" .... "pleeeeeeeeese"

... part of the way a toddler builds his vocabulary is to repeat everything the adult says and repeat everything the adult says and then repeat everything the adult says while ending each phrase an octave higher

... water hose - good

... wet diapers will eventually explode after a round in the sprinkler

... when swinging high, younger brother will run behind swing and get thrown to next Tuesday (being the younger brother, he will shake it off in five seconds)

... toddlers like to share their pacifiers with cats

... the grocery store sells new pacifiers

... the grocery store is open 24 hours

... toddlers think the world revolves around them!

And once you put your heart and mind around that concept, and revolve around their every need and LOUD DEMAND (or purpose to endure the wailing), well, you just get through it and get the hang of it about the time they go home.

if it doesn't kill you.

Words from the 16th President

Cleaning out a desk drawer, I came across some quotes I collected last year when we visited the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL. I wrote it on a hotel notepad from the "President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center." Nice place.

Words from Abe.

"The better part of one's life consists of his friendships." May 19, 1849

"Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eyes, is the great invention ... enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn at all distances of time and space." Feb. 22, 1860

"Common looking people are the best in the world, that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them." Dec. 24, 1863

"Bad promises are better broken than kept." from his last speech, April 11, 1965

Photos by Grant

Grant volunteered to be the photographer at the Camp Sing-A-Lot concert last week. Here is what he captured ...


Tuesday was "Sadie Hawkins Day" at church camp. Giles' father, being a church camp aficionado, advised him not to run too fast, and maybe to actually "trip" in front of a cute girl making himself easy to catch.

Once caught, they have to hold a stick or something, then later, she makes him a hotdog that he must eat.

We saw this picture on the camp's website today. They post a roundup of pictures from the previous day's activities.

Looks like he was caught. And that leaves us wondering, how hard did he try to avoid capture?

Our achey breaky hearts

Who knew we'd miss him so much? This is pitiful. Grant even cried himself to sleep last night.

We miss Giles.

Hopefully he's not missing us because he's having too much fun at church camp this week.

It's the first time he's been away from us for this long - a whole week. Okay, it's not a whole week- only about five days. It's strange to be without him though. It's neat occasionally to have one child gone, and see how the other two interact with each other. Changing up the mix is good, but this is a long stretch. Plus, I need him to go on fly patrol to take care of that ginormous buzzer that's swooping around the peaches in the kitchen.

When last we saw him, Giles and buds were lizard hunting under every rock and log in the vicinity. He and his best bud Ethan who were sharing a tiny unairconditioned cabin had not yet bonded with the other sports lovin,' Tiger Woods talkin' boys from TEXAS who grabbed all the better bunks before we got there.

Who needs football when there are reptiles to hunt?

Joy took the picture of him before we left and then we drove all the way home. Our husbands gently chided us for worrying about whether the boys would bond with the Texas kids, find their toothpaste, get too hot, remember to use bug spray and hopefully shower.

I know they'll make friends, and the shower and teeth part will just be good for me never to know!

They'll come back grimey but closer to God and that's pretty cool.

Like we haven't heard this one before

Don't leave home without it

My camera. Approaching a busy intersection yesterday after picking up Lydia and friends from Camp Sing-A-Lot, I noticed some kind of hubbub ahead. A wreck? Someone stalled? I rolled up to my front row stop at the left turn lane and we saw what was holding up traffic.

Mama Duck and her five little ducklings.

She was jaywalking from the south west corner to the north east corner of Memorial and Eastern. Duckies were scrambling as fast at their tiny web feet could take them across scorching July asphalt. Mama was behind them quacking the whole time. "Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. Go. Go. Go."

We all stopped. Watched. Cheered. I think we were all also holding our breath ... please make it. And wondering whether we could find parenting classes for Mama. But we all make parenting mistakes!

They made it. Yay ducks!
The photos would have been awesome!

He's hooked!

Grant has been a resistant fisherman. Ever since his favorite little lawn chair became windswept and blew from the dock to the bottom of the lake (he wasn't sitting in it), he's not had any interest in fishing. That incident was quite traumatic and there were lots tears and anguish. He liked that chair. That all was way back when he was about three.

His Dad and Giles persuaded him to go with them last Saturday night.

Guess which ONE of the three caught something?

Yep, he's hooked.

Used to bes don't count anymore

Everyone once in a while, I get a

(this is a post I started a few days ago. Blogger auto saves for us now. I can't, for all the white tea in China, remember what this muse was.)

Ecclesiastes 8:17

Giles' autograph on the cd cover.
UPDATE: actually the autograph is Todd Agnew's. He gave it to Giles. Righto.

"then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it."

What if your job included signing your name and sharing a scripture?

Lydia and I got Psalm 115:1. He signed my "purse" Bible and a Bible that Lydia got from the KLOVE/AIRONE people.

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness."

Prince would have never done that for my Purple Rain 8-trak case.


He's the kinda guy who's cool to sing for free for a couple hundred people in the midst of school supplies at a Christian bookstore, and then sit patiently while all of those people step up to him for a picture and autograph.

He's the kinda guy who's cool to play acoustically in barefeet, and say honestly, he's a little freaked out still to play for people, when he's spent much of his life as a worship leader. He's the kinda guy who is not afraid to say, write about and publish songs with words that challenge us to quit talking about the poor, and get our hands involved to erase poverty (then there'll be peace).

I gave the DVD to his (Todd Agnew's)manager guy and told him about Cross & Crown and he said, (and I quote) ... "Awesome. We'll watch it on the bus tonight."

The vid is on Ron's blog right now. I plan to pull it over here, and am contemplating expanding blog/website with iWeb, but who am I kidding? Every time I sit here, I'm stealing time from kids, work, house. So, here's Ron's blog, vid's on the right.

Giles took this picture.

I think it would be very easy to crop myself out of this picture. Yuck. But who cares? One neat thing is that Todd mentioned reading a book last year called "Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. There I stood in full view with my Jesus Was Homeless shirt that I got from Shane's movement. I don't know if he saw the Tshirt or not, but we made eye contact. COOL.

BTW - Shane's house burned down in Philly last month. The dude who went to live with the poor in a shanty neighborhood is now homeless.

I don't have good words right now to share more about the whole experience, and could not adequately convey his message (he's the songwriter!). Or the awesome experience with my kids. The intimacy we shared (and between brother and sister! so sweet ... and sadly, rare) - the thrill over getting autographs from a Christian guy - pondering what their hearts took in from the experience and how God will use it - and their eyes rolling when they caught my tears falling more than a couple of times.

But Todd's bold and he's living it. I want to be more like that.

Here's one part of the lyrics from one song called "if you wanted me" ... it's asking God "if you wanted me to die to myself, why'd yo make me fall so deeply in love with life?"

and ...

"if you wanted me to be like YOU.
why'd You make me like Me."


New feature

I just discovered something that made me irritated and happy at the same time. A new (to me) feature on my iMovie software.

I discovered this today while burning a dvd in hopes of handing it personally to Todd Agnew today!

He's doing a concert and autographs at Mardel in Norman and we're going!

The kids like him (except for Grant who is staying home with Dad), and so do I.

I especially have been a big fan since his label gave me permission to use his song, My Jesus, in a video for Cross & Crown. For free. How awesome.

So, I'm burning the video, in case he wants to see it. In case. I know he probably gets a dozen of these or more at every stop, but God will do with it what he wants. I will say that I love watching the images of God's children at the mission under the bed of a song that says

"Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?"

Not that everyone at the mission are thives and sluts and liars. No. No. But there's a point there to be made. On some level, ALL of us are one (or more) of those.

Back to the discovery. While choosing the opening graphic for the DVD (what shows on screen before you start your video), I clicked a menu option and lo and behold ... the button I selected (where you would click to start video) puts the video in a tiny square, so the whole video plays on that screen in a tiny square until you start the movie.

Doh. That would have come in very handy during VBS when I was trying to quickly scroll down to a certain song in the music room, and was trying to see over a sea of 100 kids (or I could have had a monitor).


I'm guessing the next post might feature pictures of the My Jesus guy. :-) We've never done the bookstore artist concert thing. We're gearing up not to get frustrated with crowds and waits and elbows and just have fun.

The Secret Gift

Awesome website for books online!

This is a project of the Screen Actors Guild where Hollywood types read children's books. What a hit. And there are some really awesome living books in the mix!

It doesn't hurt to have Tia and Tamra "Sister Sister" reading, or Haylie Duff. The kids don't know who Al Gore is (wew ... Hollywood type?), but he read a good book. Lou Diamond Phillips reads one, and Hector Elizondo.

The biggest surprise and treat was discovering a book read by Jane Kaczmarek. It's a Patricia Polacco book (there's another Polacco book on this website read by Melissa "Laura Ingalls" Gilbert).

Polacco is one of MY top five children's authors. Maybe my fave. She has written many books. Before yesterday, my favorite, hands down, was "Pink & Say." We also really enjoy "I Can Hear the Sun." I had seen "Thank You, Mr. Falker" at the library but had not picked it up yet.

This book, "Thank you, Mr. Falker" was just God's little gift to my daughter and me. Lydia and I had been reading earlier in the day. Let's just say that darling daughter is not a confident reader, and the light that I fully expected to be glowing in her room every night while she turns pages is not exactly glowing yet, unless I'm reading to her - which I will love to do every day for the rest of her life (we're plowing through The Secret Garden again). But I won't do that. What would her husband say? There's time. (One thing I've rested in from home schooling is to not stress or pressure her into this, because she WILL read, or her LOVE for reading will come. Still, the pressure's all around us.)

Anyway, we had a little frustrating episode, and I told her to put the book down because when it's not fun, I don't want her to read, especially in the summer.

We wandered to the computer to open this site up again and SHE picked the Polacco book. Turns out it's an autobiographical story about a girl named Trisha who was a late and struggling reader. She wrote the book to honor her teacher (Mr. Falker) who finally helped her (after she was shunned, teased and passed up from grade to grade without being able to read til the third grade).

Jane Kaczmarek was awesome, and she choked up in exactly the places I would have choked up as she read.

Typically, I'd park Lyd at the screen and wander off to do something else (like complete that assignment for my JOB). But we watched the screen together. She laughed at me when I cried, and then we hugged and hugged. It was a very teachable moment, for both of us.

Miss HIV

My cool and connected niece Chandy invited me to a screening of a new movie, Miss HIV, produced by the folks who brought us End of the Spear. We went last night to Harkins Theatre to watch it with an awesome group of kids from Rock Island.

I was all over going to a screening - how cool is that? I knew the subject would be heavy ... the first clue to that being the title.

It was docutainment. Awesome music and editing. So cool. But the movie was hard to follow for me a bit. It might have been designed like that though.

They showed a ton of footage a Toronto AIDS conference from last year with a lot of big deal smart people like Bill & Melinda Gates, Bill Clinton and others who got digs in to those who would dare try to teach abstinence over condom use or other prevention (there is none). The movie also featured a lot of footage and interviews from their tour of Africa - Botswana, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

The talking heads used a lot of big words and acronyms that lost me, and I spent a good part of the movie wondering whether I should agree or not with the Gates. They are super involved in this issue, and I think their real deal is coming up with a vaccine. But they also stirred up the left angst about pushing "morality over human rights." What does that mean, seriously?

The human right to have unprotected unmarital sex with someone who is infected with a disease that will kill you?

One talking head lady actually said that, accusing "our leaders of embracing moralistic programs that undermine human rights."

No easy answers. At all. But in Uganda, they have led the world with a campaign to decrease the spread of HIV infection. How? Led by President Museveni and his wife, they promoted a rigorous campaign of A-B-C. Abstinenece. Be faithful. If you can't, use a Condom. The president himself even went into schools and told them "if you have unprotected sex, you will die." It worked - infection numbers went down, abstinence was/is being openly celebrated by young people, but the world (and many here in the US) slammed them for it.

Why can't Bill and Melinda and Bill Clinton just acknowledge that abstinence does work without slamming it. Say it works and keep doing your own thing with your money and power.

The movie ended (hope this isn't a spoiler) with footage of the Newsboys at a concert in Uganda singing "Something Beautiful." With a huge crowd of Ugandan youth jumping and singing ... I want to go to Uganda (or it's neighboring beautiful Rwanda) and see the Newsboys in concert!

One of the big tear points for me (almost sob) was when a beautiful South African woman with HIV was speaking on a stage with Melinda Gates and others about her experience with the church when she became infected. You guessed it. They kicked her out. And she called the church hypocritical. No doubt.

Another conviction against the hands and feet of Jesus who are supposed to be His church on earth, but we've messed that up ... too.

I'm going to pray for the Gates. I don't know if they know the Lord, but I'm going to pray they find him. Meantime, I'm so proud to be a MAC user (I'll pray for Jobs too. Does he know the Lord?)

Here's a trailer ... MISS HIV

Gospel for Asia

Here's the site for the book I'm reading: Gospel for Asia

Is Missions an Option?

I received a FREE book in the mail. I heard about it either through a homeschool email or another Christian email. It's called Revolution in World Missions by KP Yohannan. He's the founder of Gospel for Asia. The book has been a nice autobiography of how God has led KP through his years as a "pioneer village evangelist" in North and South India, when he was beaten at least once for the cause of Christ and lived on about a dollar a day or less. Then through his journey to the US for his education and founding of Gospel for Asia.

But now the book is getting tough. He's letting us have it and I can't disagree.

Here's the beginning of Chapter Nine.

"If the apostle Paul had not brought the Gospel to Europe, foundational principles such as freedom and human dignity would not be part of the American heritage. Because the Holy Spirit instructed him to turn away from Asia and go West, America has been blessed with its systems of law and economics - the principles that made it rich and free.

In addition, the United States is the only nation in the world founded by believers in Christ who made a covenant with God - dedicating a new nation to God.

Born into affluence, freedom and divine blessings, Americans should be the msot thankful people on earth.

But along with the privilege comes a responsibility. The Christian must ask not only why, but also what he should do with these unearned favors.

Throughout Scripture, we see only one correct response to abundance: sharing.

God gives some people more than they need so that they can be channels of blessing to others. God desires equity between His people on a worldwide basis. That is why the early church had no poverty."

Ouch. But preach on brother.


uh. yes. i did more shooting pictures than picking berries.