Monday, March 31, 2008

Mechanical Problems

Recently, airlines began grounding planes after safety oversights became public. Southwest did it. American and Delta did it. Fortunately, all the various companies wasted no time in righting the safety wrongs just in time for James' busy travel week, however, with tornado sirens blaring today, James called with concerns that his flight would be cancelled. It was not. The weather cleared just in time.

Though James beat the weather today, and though all major repairs have supposedly been made on his preferred airline, James' flight was delayed after all for a "mechanical repair." All the passengers boarded, but were delayed on the tarmac as the problem was discovered. Then the passengers were unloaded and left to wait in the terminal for two hours before finally being reboarded and allowed to take-off.

Despite the fact that earlier this month planes were rocketing through the air with wiring problems and cracks in the fuselage, some things are completely unacceptable for air travel:

The toilet roll holder wasn't working properly and had to be replaced.

So many questions, So few answers

I'm bored and blog stalking. This blogthing, recommended at Toddled Dredge, is a fun time filler. Do I know any commas? Apparently, we'll get along best. Let's hang out.

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible.
You love learning.
And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all.
You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data,
and always dig deep to find out more.
You're naturally curious and inquisitive.
You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful,
and thought provoking.
(But they're not always up for
the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

Friday, March 28, 2008

March Giving Update

I'm still working towards the goal of raising $100 per month for the Mission: Water for Life project. I'm $117 ahead of goal right now.

I don't believe I updated for February, but I liquidated part of my cloth diaper stash, sold a few more things on eBay, and received an unexpected refund. Money for March came from some more sales on eBay: $17 from a CD set, and $100 from an agreed upon portion of some video equipment we picked up strictly for resale.

About that, we found a stack of equipment one Saturday at the Goodwill. The stack included three VCR-type professional video recorders, some big blue metal box that does something fancy, and a box of computer discs that make the blue box functional. We bought the entire stack (4 components, all the cords, plus the discs) for $30 total.

Our auction for the blue box (and the appropriate cords and discs) ended while I was out of town and the final selling price was $699. Because I'd previously committed to taking $100 a month from joint endeavors, I happily "allowed" the other $569 go into the household budget.

After that sale, we already have a profit of $669, and we still have the other three things to sell. Based on closed auctions, we project they will sell between $150-250 each! (It's deals like these that remind me why we were Powersellers in the first place.) Since the whole set was purchased as a package deal, I don't plan to tap into any more of those funds. Regardless, I already have things lined up for April's money, and I still have stuff for a garage sale. Now, if only someone would add about three more days onto each week, I'd have the time!

Open House and an Apology

Before you read further, allow me to apologize for my previous post in its original state. If you happened to stumble upon last night's blog entry before 7:00 this morning, you were in for a real treat. (That is, if frequent repetition, grammatical errors, and general rambling is your idea of a treat.) I felt compelled to get that post up last night before I collapsed into bed after having had no sleep the night before, and a less than two hour long nap in the morning. Writing post-insomnia makes for an interesting read, but not interesting as enjoyable (or even tolerable), so I apologize. After a good night's sleep, I've gone back through yesterday's post and I've done some editing, so what you have now is the best you're going to get. Please enjoy with my compliments. :)

And now onto today, or rather, back to yesterday...

The kids had Open House at school last night. We were surprised at just how excited they were to have us come visit. I don't know if they were so thrilled because we were at the school in the evening, or if they were excited because James came home early specifically to go, but they were both beside themselves -- Gracie was actually squealing and jumping around like a wild person in the parking lot.

Once inside, they showed us around their classrooms and pointed out their favorite math and literacy centers. They shared their most recent projects with us, introduced us to their friends (if pointing to a kid running by and saying, "Hey, that's Ricky" is an introduction), and took us to their favorite "specials" classroom, like Music, Art, or P.E. We briefly visited with their teachers, and particularly loved learning how Bub is growing in the classroom and is making his teacher laugh. We finished the night by buying each of them a spirit shirt and going out to Braum's for ice cream. The End.

Looking at Literacy Centers

Gracie's Current Classroom Study: The Pig

Bub's Texas Travel Journal --
Filled with more Texas facts than you'll ever need to know.

Glad to be with Dad

Three little buddies: Bub, Ricky, and Punn

Bub's First "Girlfriend," Kuilani
(not to be confused with his sister, Gracie).
She's our neighbor and they all three play together,
both at home and at school.

Big Hugs: After trying to fun away from Kuilani's affections,
Bub finally just gave in.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Visitation

I visited Karen in the hospital today, and I'm here to report:

I was so full of something last night that I didn't sleep at all. I don't know what it was precisely that kept me up, maybe apprehension or amazement, fear or excitement, grief or gratitude. Whatever it was, I did not sleep a wink.

Because I was already awake, I woke the kids at 5:45 A.M. to prepare for the school day. (Generally, I wake them around 6:00, but they'd been asking to watch The Upside-Down Show before school, and there's usually never enough time. No time like the insomnia-stricken present, I always say.) I napped a little after they left for school, and called Karen around 9:45 A.M. to see if a visit was still okay. It was, and she seemed excited.

As I drove to the hospital, I reminded God continually that I was incapable of doing any of this on my own. I knew in my own strength, I could hardly even be in that particular hospital without my last meal wanting to resurface. In retrospect, something in Tara's blog, Think Out Loud, resonated true about my experience today:

"Trusting is risky business, because in trust we are not promised an easier road. Yet in some crazy way, when we decide to trust, God gives us the specific grace we need for the moment."

I arrived at the hospital around 10:30 with hands filled with flowers and a fruit basket, because one should never visit a bedridden stranger empty handed. I trusted God today to provide all that I needed, and that included the grace and strength to put one foot in front of the other. This has been a very hard road for us, these last many years, and there are days that I tear up in Target or sob in Starbucks. I knew God would make a way for me to go share hope with Karen, but intimately, I knew that was not guaranteed to be smooth, which is precisely what Tara said. God showed up in a big way today, calming all of my anxieties and making way for a new friendship to form.

Karen and I had a lovely conversation. We talked about church, life at home, how things were going with her pregnancy, along with much, much more. I felt blessed to be included in her life. After about an hour an a half, I left there feeling triumphant, and feeling a sense of completion. It was as if a shoot had burst into the sunlight after sitting seed-like and dormant under a cold, dark Earth. I have plans to visit again soon, and while I'm very excited to see her and to bear her burden as I may, I'm also very excited for the cultivation of whatever this new thing is now growing in me.


Now and again there are things that I feel deserve to be posted, though they don't deserve a whole post of their own. In consideration of the fact that my earlier excitement has now developed into a gurgling pit of nausea, I find myself wide awake. That said, now is as good a time as any to post a few of those nonsensical topics:

** It seems that I might live forever, seeing as how I'm all about expressing my anger.

** I'm a Lum-Bat-Flam-Monkey at heart. What are you?

** Apparently, sometimes you really can't get enough McDonald's.

** I bet James would have gotten enough apologetic airline miles for that Hawaii trip had he been on this flight.

** It came to my attention that I blog-stalk a little too much. That fact became clear when my 5-year-old passed by and commented on the cute new spring background on a blog I frequent.

** During an unplanned trip to the Fort Worth Zoo on Monday, Gracie shared with me that she's been practicing her evil laugh (Muh-ha-ha-ha-ha), and I have to admit, she's getting quite good. Perhaps she has a future as an evil villain after all.

** For the first time ever, I left Bub alone at football practice. I've watched one too many bad coach episodes of Law and Order to leave him anywhere by himself, but today I had a couple of errands to run and thought I'd try to be a little more like other normal parents. After a big speech about boundaries and personal safety, I dropped him off, ran my errands, and returned about an hour and a half later. When I pulled in, he came to the car with knees caked in dirt, hair standing on end, and dried nose blood smeared across his face. I swear he looked like the loser in a bar fight, but according to him, today's practice was the best ever!

** Last week, I ordered some fun new business products (ahem), and when they arrived, I discovered this little packet of "Baby Dust" had been included in the shipment. The label reads, "This baby dust is SPECIAL and is being sent to you hoping it will help your fondest dreams come true." Gosh, I sure wish I would have known about the healing powers of confetti and glitter before investing in a fertility specialist, a reproductive endocrinologist, a high-risk obstetrician, a perinatologist, and in the permanent alteration of my uterus. Silly me.

For Randi, because you understand. (Courtesy of

That's all I've got, so...
"See Ya Next Time, Kemo Sabe"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Opportunity Knocks, Go Visit It at the Hospital

We've been attending our other church since December, and became members in January. I say "other" church because so many of my friends who read and comment here are from the church we moved away from, and though we're no longer members there, we still feel such a connection. And all of that is completely irrelevant.

The new semester for Community Groups over here began in February, and since James works so long and so late through the week, the only groups that could work into our corporate schedules are on Sunday nights. The weekend the groups launched, however, we had out of town guests and weren't able to attend anywhere. We planned to attend the next meeting two weeks later, but every other week since groups began, someone in our home has been sick or out of town. That said, we've not plugged into a group thus far.

At one point, though, we did make contact with a group (before we knew we were having guests), and the group leader has since been very faithful to connect with us through e-mail. Yesterday, in my Inbox was a request to bring meals to a family that belongs this particular group. When I read through the e-mail, I was intrigued. It seems there's a family in our church needing meals because the wife/mom is in the hospital on pregnancy bedrest. She's been there now for three weeks and has several more weeks to go. Group member or not, after having been in that exact same position only six years ago, there was no way I was missing out on serving that family. (It's been six years?!)

I immediately responded to the e-mail to be included in the meal rotation, but I went a little beyond that. I got the lady's phone number and called a stranger strapped to a hospital bed. 'Cause forcing myself upon imprisoned strangers is apparently how I roll.

I approached her with trepidation and gave her out after out, as far as getting off the phone was concerned. But she was interested in talking and we actually had a great conversation. I shared Gracie's birth story with her, and she shared her current state with me. We bemoaned the bad side of hospital bedrest and we truly understood one another. And I think because I intimately knew where she was at, she seemed to feel free to share with me some of those things you don't want to tell others for fear of not being "in faith," which was such an amazing honor.

And she's absolutely "in faith." In fact, she has the most beautiful faith. She's struggled through this whole pregnancy, which began as a beautiful surprise. She's laid flat for 23 days now with many more to go. Doctors continually inform her of their limits and of her own, and she knows without a doubt that every moment her baby grows inside of her is yet one more moment that God has mightily shown up. She's an awesome woman indeed.

I was surprised at my ability to even talk to this stranger, because I'd just spent the morning with my Millie having coffee and whining about life. (Seriously, I don't have coffee with Amy just to whine, but she pulls it out of me. What a friend -- it gets good when the tears start flowing.) We'd talked a little more about my season in life and upcoming anniversaries and I still can't help but get choked up. Because of that, because I was already so sensitive, I was surprised that (1) I asked for her number, (2) I dialed the number, and (3) I talked to her without becoming a blubbering idiot.

Then, to my own surprise, I asked if I could some see her. Seriously, the words fell out of my mouth before I realized I was even thinking the thought, and before I could sidestep or retract anything, she said yes. Not that I would want to sidestep or retract my request, but I don't generally dial up strangers to get into their business, and I definitely don't invite myself to their hospital room. But she said yes and seemed truly pleased that I wanted to come.

In spite of the fact that I'll be right back in the middle of the place where my baby died, I find myself excited. I'm excited to go visit this woman (her name is Karen) because I know how I can pray for her. I know the things you go through physically, emotionally, and spiritually when your pregnancy ties you down. I understand where she's at in every sense of the concept. My prayers for her will not be abstract, but rather, specific. I can listen to her stories and nod my head with knowing, and she can take comfort in the fact I really do understand. I go visit her tomorrow, and I'm so excited to have been invited and included in a place where, but for the grace of God, I do not belong.

"Carry each other's burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:2

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28 NIV

Monday, March 24, 2008

Limiting the Love

Be forewarned: this is the most boring post you'll ever read. In fact, I highly suggest you skip it altogether. You're welcome to continue reading if you want to, but I really wouldn't. I mean it... Alright, you asked for it:

I've recently decided to follow doctor's orders and more closely monitor (and limit) the intake of sugar and carbs.

See? Boring.

I had a follow-up with my endocrinologist a couple of weeks ago (1) for my regular ol' quarterly blood work, and (2) for an explanation of how my body attracted a spare 30 pounds over the course of about five months. It seems that my thyroid, which recently developed a couple of presumably non-malignant nodules, decided to take a break from proper functioning, hence the rapid weight gain. The fact that I'm having a passionate love affair with Ralph Lemonheads probably doesn't help, but whatever.

Thyroid issues run in my family, plaguing my sister, niece, and two female cousins. I've tested positive for thyroid antibodies since childhood, so this is not a total surprise. I started taking a synthetic hormone in the hopes of kick-starting that little booger and reducing the nodules, and now I'll have to take this little pill every day for the rest of my life. Yay.

While waiting to see the doctor, I was tormented by the posters and pamphlets reminding me that I shouldn't love candy as I do. I decided then and there it was time to embrace right living once again (though it's taken me a week-and-a-half to put my conviction into practice). The problem is, candy (and Lemonheads in particular) are my food for thought. When I study, when I write, when I read my Bible, or when I engage in other manners of deep thinking, I pause periodically for a candy break. The upsurge of carbs encourages creativity, at least in my own mind. If I'm being honest, though, the candy-eating is nothing more than a bad habit, as opposed to a true instrument of imagination.

For about four days now, I've been really obeying the medical instructions regarding carb limits, going from freestyle eating to strict limitations. I even picked up a recommended book that should help me make more informed decisions. After reading through the book and more closely reviewing product labels, I've come to the dismal conclusion that there's very little in the world that I can actually eat. Many lower carb foods (like meat) don't appeal to me, and foods that do (like bagels and chocolate) are strictly limited or off limits completely.

Perhaps because of the thyroid medication, I've noticed some rapid changes in the scale over these last few days. In spite of that positive change that should encourage me to embrace this change for the long-term, I'm having what I think must be sugar withdrawls. All day long, I've been fighting off a headache and nothing seems to bring any relief. I'm hoping the pain passes soon (within the next few days), or I may have to medicate with a big bag of Skittles.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wherein Rangers Fans Will Stay Fat Forever

James was online checking out tickets for an upcoming game/concert combo at Rangers stadium. Suddenly stunned, he called to me, "Hey, take a look at this!" Apparently, there's a section in Rangers stadium where for one low price a wristband will allow you to completely clog your arteries, cheering for your team all the while.

I'm not really a fan of baseball (gasp!), but I am a fan of nachos, and the thought of all of that eating is even too much for me! However, if the concession stand is the only reason to attend a sporting event, the $34 price (including admission) may actually prove to be a really good deal -- that is, if your digestive system can manage all of that "cheese."

Along the same line, did you know you can bring your own snacks and water into the Rangers stadium? Last year, we saw a game on a promo day when the tickets were really cheap. To save even more money, we brought in some treats of our own, along with some bottled water, and shared one order of stadium nachos among our family of four. All told, we had a very inexpensive family outing, and a day filled with fun.

He is Risen!

"Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid;
for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.

He is not here,
for He has risen,
just as He said."

Matthew 28:1-6a NASB

Thoughts on Easter

"Men point to the sad incidents of human life on earth,
and they ask “Where is the love of God?”
God points to that Cross as the unreserved manifestation of love
so inconceivably infinite as to answer every challenge
and silence all doubt for ever.
And that Cross is not merely the public proof of what God has accomplished;
it is the earnest of all that He has promised."
-- Sir Robert Anderson

"Dost thou understand me, sinful soul?
He wrestled with justice, that thou mightest have rest;
He wept and mourned, that thou mightest laugh and rejoice;
He was betrayed, that thou mightest go free;
was apprehended, that thou mightest escape;
He was condemned, that thou mightest be justified;
and was killed, that thou mightest live;
He wore a crown of thorns, that thou mightest wear a crown of glory;
and was nailed to the cross, with His arms wide open,
to show with what freeness all His merits shall be bestowed on the coming soul; and how heartily He will receive it into His bosom?"
John Bunyan

"The benefits [of the resurrection] are innumerable.
To list a few: Our illnesses don't seem nearly so final;
Our fears fade and lose their grip;
Our grief over those who have gone on is diminished;
Our desires to press on in spite of the obstacles is rejuvenated...
Our identity as Christians is strengthened as we stand
in the lengthening shadows of saints down through the centuries,
who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: 'He is risen, indeed!'"
Charles Swindoll

Our Family, in Celebration

A Joyous Easter to You and Yours...

In Celebration of Easter

Friday, March 21, 2008

All Varieties of Miscellaneousness

Just when you think everyone has a blog, it gets worse...

I'm sure this video is so wrong in so many ways, but it made me laugh.

In the way of updates, we are each quite unhappy to see Spring Break coming to an end. James and Bub are bonding over basketball, both by March Madness and some game for the 360, Gracie has been crafting like crazy, and I've found ample time for blog-stalking and sleeping -- two things that usually do not go hand in hand. Speaking of sleeping, the kids are only now on the very best sleeping schedule ever -- I woke them today around 10:00 A.M. (after checking in on them every 15 minutes or so to make sure they were still breathing -- do we ever stop doing that?). Knowing it's time to return to normal, we all agree that summer can't come soon enough. With that in mind, though, I was sickened by an article I read today regarding a horrible pool accident, and a little girl who died. (Such an awful tragedy, and now I have something new to be paranoid cautious about.)

More randomness:

Today while playing with her Barbies, Gracie was singing, "Here comes the bride, all dressed and wide." I corrected her, telling her she should sing dressed in white, not dressed and wide. She disagreed with me, stating that brides were free to wear purple.


Frugally speaking, I'm not sure what to say about this week. With half the week spent out of town, and the other half recuperating, I've not been out couponing at all. We've not spent much on groceries because we mostly ate out in Missouri and Oklahoma (we paid for some, and were treated some). Since coming home, we've subsisted on whatever could be found in the freezer and pantry. We had jambalaya two nights in a row (by request), and some other interesting meal combinations. The only meal plan I've made for this week is our having ham on Sunday, and other than that, all other proactivity must wait until children return to school.

Lastly, as for me and my blogging yesterday,

Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5

I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.

Psalm 59:16

... Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you...
You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times.
It's the same with Christians all over the world.
So keep a firm grip on the faith.
The suffering won't last forever.
It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ
— eternal and glorious plans they are! —
will have you put together and on your feet for good.
He gets the last word; yes, he does.

I Peter 5:7b, 9b-11 MSG

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rainy Days of Another Sort

Be still, sad heart,
and cease repining;
Behind the clouds
the sun is shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be
dark and dreary.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, An April Day

Sunlight explodes through my windows, and yet, I feel completely under the weather. I don't know if it's because I'm exhausted from all the traveling, or if I'm exhausted from all the living, but today has been a really bad day for my heart. Over a game of Go Fish last night, the children argued about their quantity of siblings and questioned me about death so accusingly, as if I had granted some sort of permission. Didn't I know how much brothers and sisters were wanted? Did I not understand? Then a representative from Matria (my former Home Health Care company) called today with questions about Zachary's delivery in order to close out my file nearly a whole year later. Kindly, they stopped questioning when I was finally able to get it across that my labor was preterm and my baby was dead, but still...

As I drove home Tuesday, I tuned in to some station where one of my former Rhema instructors was preaching to a congregation he now pastors. He was sharing a message on faith with more of a name-it-and-claim-it twist. I wasn't completely listening because I was trying to not be smashed flat by a semi, but basically the message I heard was about how many faith scriptures originally translated talk more about taking, as opposed to the more meek approach of "Lord, if it be thy will." He went on to talk about houses and cars and money, which are absolutely issues of provision that God can and does take care of, but the context of this particular message turned me off, so I turned the radio off and began thinking.

Faith is an area in which I struggle quite alot. I mean, I have faith -- I'm not without -- it's just that sometimes I don't know if I know how to properly operate in faith. I don't know. The whole matter is overwhelming me with confusion of late.

You see, I became a Christ-follower in a very "faith-based" church, and in that particular environment, if anything went "wrong" in your life, surely you lacked faith in some way. (And "wrong" didn't necessarily have to be something actually wrong or abnormal, rather just something not wildly fantastic or extremely good, though in my life lately, wrong is really not at all right.) Over time as I have "continue[d] to work out [my] own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12), I find myself shying away from much of that prosperity gospel sort-of stuff.

Ooo, ruffled feathers. I know. Here's what I believe:

I believe God is almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. I believe God is compassionate and full of tender mercies. I believe the Bible lays out specific instructions for living, giving, and doing, with reciprocal promises for obedience. I believe God is fair and faithful. I believe he is capable and willing to do amazing miracles in the lives of His children. I also believe some other stuff, but these are key to my point.

What I don't believe is that God hangs around for our benefit. I don't believe God is some genie in a bottle waiting to make all of our wildest wishes come true. I don't believe the life of a Christ-follower will be without trouble. I mean, the One whose life I long to model mine after was wrought with turmoil, strife, pain, struggle, betrayal, and death. How could I possibly be so bold to presume that my life would be any better? Ultimately, Christ was victorious over all of that, as I will be, but the hardship all came first. In fact, according to Luke 5:16, sometimes Jesus sought out hardship: "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer." Jesus sought God (and perhaps found Him to be more accessible) when things around Him weren't so easy.

Then there's Job, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Joseph, Hannah, the Apostle Paul, and all the other Biblical characters who lived normal lives filled with struggles. While their lives were completely altered as a result of their faith in God, not one of them suddenly flipped a faith switch where they then had every single thing together and totally avoided pain for the rest of their days (or so I presume). Moreover, as believers, we're instructed throughout the Word to remember where God showed up, to sort of build Shechems and Ebenezers (Gen. 2:6-7, 1 Sam. 7:12). In my opinion, those instructions are likely for the times when it seems like God is nowhere to be found.

I believe there's a bigger picture -- a bigger picture for my life, a bigger picture for all of this life, and I am 100% sure that my puny little brain is incapable of comprehending even a fraction of a portion of any of it. I believe that God understands it. I believe He sees me and makes way for me throughout the course of the journey He has planned.

But back to where I'm struggling right now: I know that God, as almighty as He is, can reach down and heal all that ails me. He can make right whatever hidden wrong it is that prevents me from accomplishing that which burdens my heart. That, or He can remove the burden from my heart altogether. I struggle in the fact that neither of those things are happening, and that makes me wonder -- Do I indeed have enough faith?

"You don’t have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." (Matthew 17:20)

I'm pretty sure I have more than a mustard seed's worth of faith. I mean, without even that tiny amount of faith, I'm quite certain I would not have subjected myself to all the testing and all the trying. At the very, very least, I believe I have that much faith, and in fact, I'm convinced I have more. Even though I disbelieve that God is a genie in a bottle, I absolutely do believe He is a God of miracles and not a respecter of persons, so if He'll do miracles for others and for the former me, He can and wants to do miracles for modern-day me. But that reminds me of something I read during my quiet time last week:

"In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he fell to the ground, face down in the dust, begging to be healed. 'Lord,' he said, 'if you want to, you can heal me and make me well again.' Jesus reached out and touched the man. 'I want to,' he said. 'Be healed!' And instantly the leprosy disappeared." (Luke 5:12-13 NLT)

I think the issue is less that I struggle with the faith of what God can do, and more with the issue of what he wants to do -- at least for me. I could probably break out some night-school psychology and tell you that this issue relates to that instance in my childhood and so on, but the bottom line is after so much struggle, loss, pain, and confusion, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to believe that there's a plan for me, and that plan is good. That leper, though, he reached out and took what Jesus had to give, and instantly, all was made right for him. Maybe there's more to the taking than I generally embrace.

Here's where it boils down to responsibility. I'm responsible to search the scriptures and trust that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of my understanding in this regard. Furthermore, I'm required to quiet the screaming banshee within me, regardless of what understanding I gain:

Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord —- now and always.

-- Psalm 131

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WFMW: Reserving Chicken Stock

Around here, we love to cook chicken and lots of it. We grill it, bake it, fry it, roast it, and boil it for soups and stews. When I boil chicken for soup, though, I'm left with way too much stock in the pot. I make hearty soup, and the addition of all the vegetables and pasta make the soup boil over every time. To prevent cooking over, I dish out a few cups of chicken stock. Thus far, however, I've had no way to preserve the leftover stock, so I've just had to pour it down the sink. I hate doing that, particularly since I like to use chicken stock to flavor other things (like rice), and I inevitably end up opening a can.

Last week, it dawned on me. ICE CUBE TRAYS!

Instead of pouring already made soup stock down the drain, let the reserved portion cool, transfer to ice cube trays, and freeze for future use. Your stock will be portioned, and depending on how you plan to use them, you can use the cubes from frozen or thaw them out. For even better ideas than this one (like this one), visit the Works for Me Wednesday link at Rocks in my Dryer. Thank you ever so much, and have a great day!

You asked, I'm answering

About the Precious Moments Chapel, Randi asked: "Who even knew that existed? Did your kids love it?"

Historically, I've not been a big fan of Precious Moments. I mean, I've always thought they were cute, and I appreciate the message shared through the books, dolls and figurines. Personally, though, I've not been a collector.

When I was in college (Round 1), I roomed with this girl who drove from Tulsa to Carthage at least once a month to tour the chapel. She was an artist, so I assumed she went for inspiration. Regardless, I thought she was a little kooky to drive even that distance to over-and-over look at the same cherubic children covering the building walls. I didn't understand at all.

Dropping by the chapel was totally unintentional on this trip, primarily because I didn't realize it was on the way. While driving to my brother's house, we began to see billboard advertising, and at that, I entertained the idea of stopping in. I knew Gracie would just love the side trip because the Precious Moments children are so cuuuuuuuuuuute and she just loooooooooooooves them. Bub, on the other hand, would be totally bored, or so I thought. I dismissed the idea altogether until I was passing the very last billboard before exit 18B. That was the one that said "FREE TOURS DAILY." I don't mind doing things that are free because if we hate it, no problem, but if we love it, even better.

We all loved it. I learned so much about the artist, Samuel Butcher, and about Precious Moments as a whole. For example, I didn't know that many of the Precious Moments characters are memorials (representations of those who have died). There's a whole memorial room in the Chapel dedicated to Butcher's son Phillip who was killed in a car accident nearby, and I don't know if that's when the other memorials started, or if they'd been ongoing all along. Regardless, that knowledge made the paintings that much more personal and beautiful. (There are photographs displayed in another chapel room of some of those who've been memorialized. It's interesting to look for them in the art.)

My favorite painting was Hallelujah Square. It was nice to see Heaven sort of catering to little ones. Though I know my little ones are not alone, it was really nice to have a visual. I particularly like seeing Jesus among the crowd of kids, the angel patching up the broken heart, and the Welcome Toys for Children. Gracie wondered if the baby crawling across the middle was Zachary. The visit altogether was very sweet. I'm glad we went.

Playful Professional asked, "How was Horton?"

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who is a very cute movie. I think it's one of the better animated movies I've seen, and there are some really cute character interpretations (our favorite is Katie). The story overall is told quite well, and stays pretty true to the book.

Tara asked, "Are you originally from OK?"

Sort of. I was born in Dallas, but my family moved to Tulsa shortly thereafter because of a job opportunity for my dad. We lived in or around Tulsa the majority of my young childhood, though I lived briefly in Clarksburg, MD. with my mom and stepdad. As a preteen, I moved to Ponca City with my mom and spent many weekends and summer days back in Tulsa with my dad. As a teen, I moved back to Tulsa and stayed there for school at Rhema and ORU. After that, I moved to France, back to Tulsa, and then to Bryan, Texas when James (who lived in College Station) and I were dating. We moved back to Tulsa to get married, and lived there for about four years before moving back to the Dallas area for a job opportunity for my husband. I've come full circle.

We're very happy here in this area, and can't imagine moving away, but we're open to whatever. After these past few days, though, it's abundantly clear that Tulsa is no longer home to me. I would wrestle long and hard before ever agreeing to move back.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Chronicles of Babbit: Day Five

The final day of our journey began with me waking cranky children who couldn't be convinced of the virtues of wearing socks, then me loading our belongings into the car while being rained upon heavily, then me forcing said cranky children to eat more for breakfast than the brown sugar off their oatmeal, and finally me driving out of Tulsa in said heavy rain, which by now is a torrential downpour. We drove from Tulsa to Sapulpa because my sister needed to declutter her Sizzix collection in my direction, thankyouverymuch. (She's upgraded, and I'm old school.)

The cat likes Babbit... eventually.

After a brief visit, the kids and I headed out towards home, and the rain stuck with us the entire way. Let me just say that it was not a fun drive, what with my car being so small, as well as the precise color of a raincloud. I felt vulnerable, indeed. Fortunately, we had plans to pause halfway in OKC to see a couple of things.

Babbit visits the Science Museum of Oklahoma...

... and kindly allows the kids to tag along.

There, he devises a plan to take over the world.

That dibolical plan was delayed, however, when he got stuck in a set of teeth...

... and was nearly eaten by a laughing dragon.

Babbit decided to make nice instead. First with a Brontosaurus...

... then with a Bison in the Red Earth exhibit, which featured incredible Native American artifacts. (And just so we're clear, Babbit is not really touching anything.)

Blue Rabbits are tinier than Totem Poles...

... but they look awesome in headdresses.

I can assure you, you've never seen a Mommy pull out the Purell faster than when she realized she was shaking a scrotum at her children at the hands-on portion of the Red Earth exhibit. It's lovely and all, but that, my friends, is not for touching. Blech.

Shots of the kids: Bub preferred Space stuff, while Gracie preferred Mirrors and Math

One of the best aspects of our day is the fact that we had all this fun for FREE. We're members at our local science museum, and the Science Museum of Oklahoma is part of the same network. We didn't realize that until we got there, so we saved $38.00 that we'd planned to spend. As a result, our visit was leisurely, and the kids were free to run from this display to that without me feeling like they just had to take in everything. They played on the two-story tree house play structure for a good, long while, and we left for home without visiting every room. Membership certainly does have its privileges.

Homeward Bound

Thank you, Amy, for not giving this name to one of your children.

Babbit and Bub are totally wiped out.
We are all so glad to be nearly home.

Thank you all for tagging along!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Chronicles of Babbit: Day Four

Today, Babbit spent a rather low-key day just hanging out in Tulsa. After so many early mornings road trips, the plan to sleep in was accomplished by all. The day started just before lunchtime. Thank Heaven for room-darkening curtains! Since our day began so late, we skipped a traditional breakfast and headed straight to Goldie's for an early lunch -- a Tulsa landmark that sells what is arguably the best cheeseburger in the world. (James and I have actually argued about this. I say Goldie's, he says Claude's. He has no idea.)


Babbit visits Utica Square

Then he visits Swan Park...

... where the waterfowl are drowsy...

... and apparently on the Atkins diet.

The Tulsa tour was canceled by rainstorms, so Babbit watched Horton hear Whos instead

Gracie and Bub model their St. Patty's day green

Later, Babbit played video games with Bub and Christienne, a friend who came to visit

Our evening was spent hanging out and catching up with long-time companions.

We've had a great time on the road, and have immensely enjoyed our time spent with many of our loved ones. Tomorrow, though, we happily travel south towards home.

Precious Moments Chapel: A Photo Essay

Check it out!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Chronicles of Babbit: Day Three

Are you ready for more Babbit the Blue Rabbit?

The kids have really embraced the Babbit photo project (despite the fact that the rest of the world thinks I'm an absolute dork). In fact, they've written notes and journal entries about him, and have insisted that Babbit join them in photos that I intended to take of them alone. I'm concerned he may end up in our next family photos!

As far as the kids are concerned, including the Blue Rabbit has helped them to look at things differently. Ideally, Babbit will be pictured in an unusual way, and because they realize that, the kids are are viewing our adventures with eyes wide open. Chronicling our trip through Babbit's experiences has made our average journey extra fun.

Today, Babbit visited the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri. According to the website, "Precious Moments artist and creator, Samuel J. Butcher, designed and constructed the Precious Moments Chapel as his way of sharing the joy of his faith with the world... Sam used his beautiful and innocent Precious Moments messengers to bring well known and loved stories from the Bible to life in dozens of murals – all hand-painted by Sam himself. From the story of creation to the promise of the resurrection, the Chapel tour guide takes guests through the many stories of God’s love for us."

Betcha can't see Babbit!

Gracie and Babbit go camping with Cubby Bear

After a tour of the Chapel and some wandering through the grounds, we were on our way again. Babbit enjoyed some playtime at the Oklahoma border:

Then he spotted a McDonald's spanning the width of the Interstate...

... where he insisted upon a Happy Meal of his very own.

Back in Tulsa, Babbit rested in the hotel and jotted down a few notes
(Photo Credit: Gracie)

Babbit learned the joys of shopping with my friend Marcie...

... and of dining at her house where the tea is sweet, the salsa is homemade, and it's not uncommon for everything to be coated with chocolate.

Unfortunately, no one shares with Blue Rabbits. Least of all, children.

Later, we played a raucous game of Apples to Apples...

... where Babbit held his own.

Goodnight hugs between little girlfriends...

... with more fun planned for tomorrow!

Gracie leaves you with a drawing inspired by her trip to the Precious Moments Park:

"For hare (here) we stand,
for the Lord is nice (nigh)."

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;
and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psalm 34:18 KJV

The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him,
to all that call upon him in truth.

Psalm 145:18

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