I can stand up and shout that I am for John McCain.

I ultimately knew I would have to support him ... or else I'd have to hide my vote from my children and my husband and the rest of you.

I was underwhelmed to say the least. I like the audacity of hope. I like "change."

But I have Rick Warren to thank for sealing the McCain deal for me. I missed his faith forum at Saddleback, but tried to watch snippets of it on youtube (does anyone know where to watch the whole thing?).

I won't get into what Obama said ... (except that he thinks if an American family makes less than $150,000 a year, they are POOR and he has no idea when life begins.)

McCain was on fire. Full of passion and totally comfortable in this setting. Consice (gotta love it) and FIRM answers. Conviction. (The other guy was NOT ... did he even finish one sentence without qualifying something?)

He had me at homeschooling.

A presidential candidate mentioned homeschooling not once, but thrice. I wish this wasn't a huge deal, but it is.

He said it in the context of school choice and said that Americans need to do what works for their families ... charters, private or HOMESCHOOL.

I was also really impacted by McCain's answer to Warren's question to name his biggest personal moral failure.

Obama, by the way, played victim a bit on this one. Blamed being raised without a father for his choices to do drugs and drink and live egocentrically (like, who hasn't done that?). That's it?

Anyway, McCain, without hesitation said, "the failure of my first marriage."

Woah. There is was. Bold and sad.

I also liked his repeated assertions that faith based organizations, and just about anyone else, does service better than the government (i.e. Katrina, homeschooling, health care coverage, serving the poor and taking care of the children)

That's it. Just had to share.

Happy Birthday Lovie!

Oh, she is NINE!

How could it be? She fills our days with laughter, song, a bit of drama ... and JOY.

She was my date on Saturday for a QuinceaƱera for a beautiful young friend. We were so honored to be invited to this fantastic tradition. While I took pictures at the Myriad Gardens, Lydia patiently waited by going into "her world." She never whined. Never begged to leave. Never asked to be in the pictures since she also had on a gorgeous dress! Never even complained about her feet in those shoes. And we were there a LONG time. I would snap pictures of her, instead of the party, trying to catch "her." Skipping and twirling. Talking to the trees. Smelling the flowers. Following a butterfly. Dreaming.

She was so content. I think I scored capturing these pictures of her last days of eight.

And then later ... she partied it up like it was 1999 (the year of her birth)! Mexican dancing. Mexican games. Mexican FOOD. (and total language immersion).

One of the activities at a QuinceaƱera is for the birthday girl, at the ripe old age of 15, to toss a beautiful doll into a waiting crowd of little ones (like a bride tosses a bouquet). She is tossing out her childhood, as she heads toward being an adult.

Wew. We don't have to worry about that yet. Bring on the dolls. Hallelujah for a few more years (hopefully) of blissful childhood.

Today a party for Lydia. Swimming, in the rain. She won't care. But how will we keep the pinata dry?

Didn't see it on NBC

We've been Olympic Couch Potatoes this week. Watching and marvelling at Michael Phelps, and talking about that cute Nastia, Jonathon Horton and Shaun Johnson like they were our bffs.

I do want to learn how to do the Phelps dolphin kick. Think he'll give lessons?

I haven't taken off my Praying for China band since I got it. I bought 10, and passed them out. My kids wear there's intermittently (grant lost his ... but his wrist is pretty tiny).

Today, I received an email from Voice of the Martyrs saying that the man who inspired the whole Prayer for China idea has been arrested.

Here's some stuff from the email:
"Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan, known for traveling across China on a bicycle to evangelize, was arrested by Chinese police just two days before the Olympics began. Pastor Bike was the inspiration for the recent partnership between The Voice of the Martyrs and China Aid Association to create the Olympic Prayer Band.

Pastor Asks for Prayer Band
Earlier this year, Pastor Bike pleaded with VOM staff to ask Christians to pray for persecuted Christians in China during the Olympics. The pastor voluntarily preaches the gospel openly in China despite being persecuted. He has asked for his identity to be revealed to bring continued attention to the persecution of Christians in Communist China.

Thanks to Pastor Bike’s inspiration and the commitment of concerned Christians across the United States, more than 800,000 prayer bands have been circulated. On Aug. 6, Pastor Bike was arrested while trying to deliver medicine to his ailing wife. His wife and another pastor were also arrested. We have also learned this week that Chinese officials are opening a full investigation of the Olympic Prayer Bands that were distributed to house church members within China. Despite this increased pressure from Chinese authorities, Chinese Christians continue to ask for prayer and to make their plight known.

Order your Prayer Bands today!
As the Olympics goes on, the harassment of Chinese evangelists continues to increase. Please help remind others to pray for persecuted Christians like Pastor Bike by ordering your prayer bands today!

More about Pastor Bike
Pastor Bike, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, rode his bike more than 10,000 miles, visiting 24 Chinese provinces to introduce nonbelievers to Jesus Christ. Armed with a Bible and his business card, which declared “Believe in Jesus, Earn Eternal Life,” Pastor Bike brought the gospel to thousands of people. He and other Chinese evangelists have been repeatedly harassed by Chinese officials during this Olympic year. Please pray for the release of Pastor Bike and his wife.

Of course, they are still hawking the bands. Still want us to BUY them. So the cynic in me rises up. Is this just a way to make money? And the doubter also rises up to wonder ... "is this what our prayers are doing? ... getting this dude arrested?"

Then, I feel shame. Who cares? They need money. They need our prayers.

God will be glorified. Even while Pastor Bike and his wife are in jail. Let's pray for him. And pray for Christians in China to be protected AFTER the world looks away.

What happens at Deer Run ...

Well, not really. Deer Run stays here in our hearts. Giles just returned from his second year at Camp Deer Run, a one week "overnight" church camp in E. Texas ... five hours away. 

Last year we left him and came home. Besides being that far away from my "baby," it's a brutal trip - there and back Sunday and there and back on Friday. 

This year, his brilliant mother, and two brilliant mom peeps had the idea we'd stay down there all week in a cabin and let our younger ones go to the day camp. Down Sunday. Back Friday. The only caveat was having to drive the church van. But that was no big ... even with a tire blow out! (What was that boom and why do we hear air blowing? Let's just say three women and 17 kids CAN git r done, thanks to the wonderful folks in Antlers, OK.)

To say that Giles LOVES this camp would be a huge understatement. He dreams it. Relives it. And talks about it every single day. He could not wait.

When we got there, I parked while he got his cabin assignment. Once he found out he was NOT in a cabin with the other guys from our group, he gave a big shout out and raced off to his cabin where he knew no one. 

The moms ran the circuit of settling all of our kids in, making bunks, greeting counselors, praying and hugging. (btw - it was about 100 degrees.)

When I got to Giles' cabin, I offered to make his bunk and settle him in. NO. 

I was shewed away. 

I barely got a hug and a "see ya"out of him.

This could have been hard on a mom's heart. Uh, it was a little hard on this mom's heart. 

But as I was about to let myself have a pity party, I had an overwhelming sense of peace.

"Your son is independent. He is secure. He has courage. He LOVES his parents. He loves God. Give him this week. He is going to be a MAN."

On pick up Friday, in heavy rain ... all (except one) of our kids were waiting to go home. Hugs for us, their transport to their waiting parents. Ready.

We were nearly loaded ... and entirely soaked in the rain. Giles was MIA.

I found him in the mess hall. Sitting in a corner with a few new BFFs (Texans, even). They were tattooing each other with their phone numbers on skin and tshirts.

He was fighting tears after I told him it was time.

On the bus, driving away, Giles was so quiet and let the tears fall. I heard one kid say he couldn't wait to get home and feed his video game addiction. Another one couldn't wait to get his cell phone back, and his bed.

I had a flashback to 1987 when Stan and I were on a plane leaving Paris and headed back home after a fantastic semester traveling in Europe with a group from college (yes, we got credit!) All of our compatriots were jubilant. Home. America. McDonalds. Baseball. 

Stan and I cried. We knew it was over. 

Precious boy. Live it. Soak it in. And we'll figure out how to get you there for two weeks next year!

But as a little payback, I am posting this dork picture of him. On Wednesday night, we visited camp for a community worship service. We got lots of hugs from our campers ... but had to FORCE Giles to take this picture with us.

Skool Shmool

Getting excited and about to get ready. But resentful of all of the "back to school" hype.

When school was letting out last May, we would be asked when our last day of school was. My typical response is "never." 

We're educating for life! So it's never over. Plus, that was the guilt ridden homeschool mom answer to being able to catch up or measure up or one up.

But when summer hit (when the school kids got out), it was OVER. And I was relieved. I needed the break. They needed a break.

Mostly I needed the break just to let myself off the hook of feeling like a failure at the end of every day or week. Or that we didn't do enough ... or that TOMORROW will be the day we figure this out.

Educating for life. 

I really need my support homeschool group. I'm letting the guilt, satan and feelings of inadequacy creep in. 

Wouldn't they be better off in school?
Doesn't everyone else's family do it better ... or correctly?
Who am I kidding?

Wew. This entry is all over the place. A true journal thought that has no business on the internet ... but keepin' it real. Keepin' it real.

So now the question ... when are you starting school again?


We're educating for life.

And going on vacation when everyone else goes back to school (taking our school with us, of course!).

That's how we roll.