Thursday, November 30, 2006

Take a Minute....

and visit with our friends in Cameroon. This family was host to T and his team this past summer. They just put up some awesome safari pictures!! While you are visiting with them, say a prayer for the work they are doing there with Cameroonian students - it's phenomenal, and they are amazing at what they've been called to do!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Creative Christmas Letter"

Unfortunately, I don't have a creative brain cell for this year's letter (yet), but I've had several people search these same three words and for whatever reason, my blog keeps popping up. The sad thing is that when they click on the link, it gives them all of December in reverse.... so that letter from last year that they are hunting for?? They never find it!!

I'm not going to reprint it here, but I'll give you the link to it, so if you find this post, just click here! It was a very fun letter. Now how in the world am I going to top that one??? (insert frightened face here!)

Paralyzed by Seclusion

So, a couple weekends ago T had the opportunity to speak on a Navigator retreat for high school students. It was fun, the girls and I went along, did lots of swimming and froze our bottoms off at the cold beach. We had just finished an exhausting week with T's dad having surgery, finding out our little puppy has a fatal kidney disease and changing all our Thanksgiving plans. A weekend away was refreshing and much needed.

T spoke on a Faith to Follow, and included ideas about our place in the world, fulfilling our purpose and reaching the lost. It was fun to sit in on a couple of his talks, even if I had to make word searches for Em or watch the cutest little 5-month old boy while his mommy took a little break. The group of students was small and made up of mostly Christian, many homeschooled, teenagers. They were a nice group and a couple of them actually talked to me!! (I'm really very scary, so I was surprised! LOL)

Toward the end of his last talk on reaching the lost, there was a rumbling in the room. One of the leaders hinted to T that the students might need a few ideas on how to. In one of the most eye-opening and frightening moments in all our ministry to teens, it occurred to me that these homeschooled kids were not connecting at all to what T was saying. As he continued to talk about reaching the nations, being the voice of God to the unreached, hands began to go up. The first girl said exactly this, "But I am homeschooled." That was it. It wasn't a question, it was a statement and I was completely floored!!

In that second, I realized that these kids, about half of them, were all going to make the same statement. It sounded to me like, "You don't make any sense to me. This is irrelevant. I have no connection with the world." Another asked, "What am I supposed to do to reach the lost?" I couldn't resist, call it the scary, insensitive side of me, but I had to say, "Get a job!!!" I thought T would kick me out!! Seriously, though, I am not under the impression that these homeschooled kids never come face to face with a non-believer. They have neighbors, friends on sports teams, they babysit, go to birthday parties, and I bet they even have other homeschooled friends who are not Christians. I guess what shocked me was their apathy about answering the call of Christ to reach the world for Him. Their situation, being homeschooled, was like a crutch that could get them out of actually participating in mission.

Not being the biggest fan of homeschooling, I have to say I was insensed by this attitude. A whole weekend of material that they were basically calling irrelevant to them because they are sheltered in a home environment that does not allow them to participate in the work of the church. I realize this does not encompass all homeschooled kids or situations, but even more shocking was the general consensus among the half of those kids that this was the case. Not even one of them had a good idea or example to share of how they were able to be used by God in a life. It was so sad, and if you are a homeschooling parent, I would urge you to seek experiences for your children to be in the real world.

While driving home, I shared my shock with T, who shared a lot of the same sentiments I did. I had to admit that they reminded me of the time in my own life when I felt completely surrounded on all sides by only believers. It was almost suffocating! I had to make a conscious decision to reach out beyond that community into the world we are all called to be part of, to make an impact on. I hope I never again sound like those kids on that day, dumbfounded that anyone might suggest I should leave my nice, cushy suburban life and seek the real world. God didn't create me to stay inside, He's calling me out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Catching Up.... again!

I can't believe it's been almost 2 weeks since I've posted anything! In that time we've gone to the beach, cleaned our house (by far the most time consuming task!), bought two turkeys - long story!, hosted Thanksgiving with my family - which was awesome!, and finally things are back to "normal". The girls are off at school and I'm sorting through what I need to do today.

I've had many thoughts about things I want to post, but they are all still milling around in my head. Eventually, I'll post them one by one. For now, I'll stick with the one that has been on my mind for the whole 2 weeks and still on my mind now. Report cards!

The day we left for the beach, the girls received their report cards. Kt was quite pleased with herself, having earned straight A's and 1s for effort. She also managed, for the first time, to get Above Grade Level in reading and in math. The crazy thing about this is that this is the first year when school has seemed effortless to her, at least to me. She is entirely independent and I rarely even know what she is studying in school. Her teachers love her, as was quite evident at her conference. I'm happy I don't have to worry about her....

Onto child number two! Up to this point, kindergarten has been a breeze, other than being totally exhausted when she gets home from a full day. Em has on occassion mentioned being a little noisy in class, but I hadn't given it much thought. Her teacher has always mentioned how sweet she is and most of her work is pretty average. Her report card, however, painted a very different picture for me, of course possibly because it was in such stark contrast to her sisters!! What stood out the most to me were all the 2s for effort. While Kt hasn't always been at the top of her class in skill, she has always been a people pleaser, so I don't think we've ever seen a 2 in anything but handwriting. Em, on the other hand, had 2s everywhere on her report card.

Really from the beginning of her life, I've always recognized that we will have to learn what makes Em tick. T and I, both being first children, and Kt as well, none of us understand a second child. She's the only morning person in our house, discipline of any kind does not really faze her, she seems hard-headed but the truth is that she has the softest heart around. While I would have loved to keep her home another year, she absolutely refused to learn anything from me, so sending her to school to learn was imperative! The trick now will be getting her to actually show some interest.

At her conference, her teacher displayed some questionable work, all of which was very typical Em. Pilgrims with pink scribbled hair, Venn diagrams that she'd clearly made mistakes on so had given up and her flashcards?? Well, she knows a few of them, like "a", "I", and "one", although any word with an "O" in it is "one"! Last night, she knew which cards her best friend knows, but couldn't tell me what word was on them. The whole time complaining that she didn't want to do anymore. What could I say? Em was so excited about kindergarten until I told her she would be required to color. After that, she completely lost interest!!

The good news in all this, she didn't get any Needs Improvement or 3's for effort. At least we are getting somewhere. She is just a breed of child I am struggling to work with. T and I learned an important lesson about not comparing our children and keeping report cards under wraps. I'm certainly glad we never instituted the "pay you for good grades" reward!! So with all that hanging over our heads, we bound into the second quarter!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Our Crazy LIves

I'm taking a short break from life to update everyone on our current crises! T's dad had a successful surgery to remove colon cancer. He is hospitalized and we are not sure when he will be released. We just took our little 5 month old puppy to have a sonogram. She has one partially functioning kidney and one non-functional kidney in failure. She has anywhere from 2 months to 2 years of life - we don't have any idea which it will be. We do know that she is a spunky little puppy, but we still have a rabies shot to get through and we have not even spoken of getting her spayed....

On top of these two things, I'm pulling the last few things together for my maiden voyage as Girl Scout Daisy Troop leader - just one of those things I should have never agreed to! We are also trying to get to the beach this weekend. T is speaking on a retreat and we are currently planning to take the whole family. Our plans then took us to CT next week for Thanksgiving, but we are having to change our thinking on that a bit, based on the dog. Looks like we may be having Thanksgiving here now. I guess I'll have to go buy a turkey!

If you think about it, pray for us. T is in a brain freeze type condition - can't really think, make decisions, too many things overloading his mind. Em has one thing on her mind - Phoebe! Kt has been quiet, but that speaks volumes. I am completely overwhelmed. We were all very excited to go away for Thanksgiving, so changing gears and possibly staying home is only adding to the feeling of gloom and doom.

On a lighter note, my cousin from Newport Beach, CA is visiting us tonight - she is always a ray of sunshine and glimmering light for us. I'm hoping she can restore a little fun in our house for the evening. We are all looking forward to seeing her and hanging out with her for a bit.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why God is Not Mystical

Mysticism (ancient Greek mysticon = secret) is meditation, prayer, or theology focused on the direct experience of union with divinity, God, or Ultimate Reality; or the belief that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge. In the context of epistemology, it can refer to using any kind of non-rational means — such as feeling or faith — in attempt to arrive at any kind of knowledge or belief.

The debate is ongoing, encompasses many facets of Christian and non-Christian life and has riveted people of all ages, races and religions. Who is God? Does He exist? Is He real? I can only speak from the standpoint of an adult raised in a Christian family, alumnus of a Christian college and an active church going believer in Christ. Within my circle, the belief in God is quite real, and His existence is non-negotiable. That is something we, in my group of similar believers, all agree upon. The question about who He is and how He reveals Himself is completely different.

This question has long been debated around me about how God reveals Himself to His created beings. I read in the Bible of visions, dreams and even physical visitations by Christ himself. God's voice was audible, powerful and undeniable. When people encountered God, in the Old and New Testaments alike, there was no mistaking who He was. God was real, tangible, spiritual and mystical. He existed (and I believe He still does today) in a realm that is totally accessible to those who believe.

So, (once you are finished shaking your head!), why isn't God revealing Himself to us in America today in this same way? Where has He gone? Many would say that God is revealing Himself to us in "relevant" ways, that are consistent with our time in history and our culture. Others might suggest that He no longer chooses to reveal Himself to us for reasons unknown, or for having no reason to at all. Still others will not only choose to suggest that God has changed his mode of communication, but that former methods, such as the ability to communicate His message through speaking in tongues or prophecy, are an ancient, no longer necessary form of communication. Out of all of these various explanations for God's supposed lack of revelation to our generation have never really resonated with me. I still have this tug in my heart to hear God audibly, to make a connection with him that's is in some way mystical, spiritual and relevant to me in my time and circumstance.

In processing this idea, the thought occurred to me that God never changes, He is always the same. We change, we adapt, we see the world differently today than people during Biblical times. But what is it about us that causes us to skeptically denounce God as being mystical? Is it a fear of occult mysticism? Possibly the suggestion that we might actually be involved in something other than Godly activity? Or is it much deeper than that. Have we completely lost our ability to connect with the divine in an experiential way because our minds are clouded with our world, our comforts, our safe reality.

I really don't believe that God is not mystical, but I really believe that we are not mystical. I have heard of Godly mystical experiences of people in other cultures. Visions, dreams, an audible whisper, and audible thunder that is unmistakably that of God. He still speaks, He continually connects, He still appears but we just are not in tune to His message. Could we be a generation of deaf, dumb and blind believers? I think that might be a distinct possibility, and it's moving me to fear for us.

I hope that each believer wants a "direct experience of unity with divinity" that we can interpret as "a genuine and important source of knowledge" in our faith journey. God desperately pursues us, He wants to connect with us and if we are receptive, I think He might choose to be "mystical" with us, but we are the ones who must choose to be the mystic.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blogger/Mozilla Issue

I have this strange issue and since my computer guru is out practicing his retreat speaking I can't ask him. He upgraded my Mozilla and now I can't get Blogger to do a spell check. It does everything else for me, but not that. I apologize if my spelling is much worse than usual, but my ABC check button is non-functional!

I'm a Pepper!!

My uncle would be so proud!! He's quite the Dr. Pepper collector, but the truth is, I'm posting this for my husband, who tonight accused me having little content in my blog other than "those silly quizzes"!! Whateva!! Some people like to have a little fun now and then, Mr. Serious. Besides, you're the one who made me blog!
You Are Dr. Pepper

You're very unique and funky, yet you still have a bit of traditionalism to you.
People who like you think they have great taste... and they usually do.

Your best soda match: Root Beer

Stay away from: 7 Up

The Warmth of a Church

I was awakened this morning by my 5 year old homebody, sneaking into my room to announce that today would feel like Christmas. That is what she heard on her radio, so she was just wondering, would we be going to church today?? She didn't like my answer, which was "Of course we are!" She then left to get dressed, returning in a halter top! I sent her back for more clothes, as today would feel like Christmas, and around here we wear more than that on Christmas.

Sure enough, today was quite chilly compared to the past week in the 70's. It was a bit of a shock to the system. It reminded me of going to church as a child in Connecticut. Our little Baptist church was within walking distance, just one house away! We would bundle up in the winter, walk a short distance and right into the first door we came to, which led into the Parish Hall. I loved that room. It's where we had our children's program, where we had all our pot luck dinners, parties, Pioneer Girls and even where my parents had their wedding reception. What I really loved, though, was that in the winter, when you would open the doors to that room, a big gush of that oil heated air would rush out towards you. It always felt so good!

Even better than the gush of warmth were the warm hugs, smiles, the laughter and joy that I found in that small church. I have wonderful memories of that church while growing up and there is always a part of me that wishes for that same experience for my own children. But as we got ready to head to church, my thought was on whether or not I would feel warmth in our huge church. Sometimes it is difficult to heat a building that size, but that doesn't always bother me. My children - do they feel warmth at church?

As we arrived today, we jumped out of our car and were greeted by a man with a huge umbrella who helped us in, then met by 4 smiling faces at the door. I didn't know any of those people, neither did my children. We found a few familiar faces inside as we rushed to get to class on time. That's really where the warmth began. We dropped the girls off and went into worship. It occurred to me as I sang that so much of the warmth I felt as a child was a result of my parents and the relationships they had built at our church. They were well liked, honest, faithful, funny and dedicated to the work of God. So the real question is, are we creating a warm environment for our children at our church?

This idea really extends beyond church, to our lives, our neighbors, and our communities we are part of. We are never going to find a place that has warmth if we aren't generating some of it ourselves. I'm so thankful that my parents did that for me and I'm hopeful that I can recreate that for my own children. Maybe someday they will be able to say that they remember their church as a warm place because of the people they met there, the friends we all made and the love we shared for the world.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Girl's Night

I have my girls and our little neighbors from across the street over. We had McDonald's and are now watching the end of High School Musical, although you would think it was Elementary School Musical. The girls know all the songs, and their ages? From 3-9!! And the conversation? All about Troy and Gabrielle.

The truth is, it's a really good movie for kids. There are a few things we have to address, such as lying to our parents, what "detention" is and practical jokes. The general message in the movie, though, is a good one. You should pursue things you love despite what others think of you. It's important for kids to learn that we all need to stop putting so much weight on what others think of us! Of course, this important lesson is at the pinnacle of high school life, where social pressures often dictate what kids choose to do.

Well, off to watch the end of this cute movie with these sweet little girls!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Some sad news...

Today we received a phone call from the pool manager where we swim over the summer. She also purchased a puppy from the same litter as our little Phoebe. She was calling to let us know that her puppy has a genetic condition. He has abnormal kidneys that are unable to process and eliminate toxins. This condition will likely be fatal.

Ever since we brought Phoebe home, I have noticed a few things I think that are strange. First, she drinks tons of water. In fact, she now sits in front of the water dispenser on the freezer door and lifts her paw for ice water. Second, when she has accidents in the kitchen, I've noticed her urine is hardly yellow at all. It looks complete diluted and has little or no odor. Finally, since we've gotten her, she's had three days where she has vomitted all day. The first two days we attributed to her eating dead leaves and mushrooms. The third day, however, it was a frothy, foamy vomit, unlike the previous days. This last day is much like what was described to me in this phone call.

I'm very worried that our little puppy may also have this kidney disorder. I have read that sometimes it's not as severe, and dogs will live quite long with it. I'm not very optimistic, however. We will have to take her next week for a sonogram to see if she does, indeed, have this condition.

If our little puppy isn't going to be around much longer, Em will be the most devastated. She is the reason I even broke down and agreed to another puppy, as she lives and breathes her doggies. We have not told her anything and are waiting until we find out for sure. Please pray with us that our puppy is OK and that if not, Em will be brave enough to handle what we will likely have to do. Phoebe is a sweet puppy, very cuddly, obedient and a great best friend for a little girl.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

No More Dirty Dancing!

He's a little less Patrick today!!

Blog Quiz Gone Wild!!

I'm not so sure about this one!?!
You Are Animal

A complete lunatic, you're operating on 100% animal instincts.
You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you're downright scary.
But you sure can beat a good drum.
"Kill! Kill!"

About that strep throat...

Em's teacher was leaving at noon today for the doctor. She's had a sore throat, not feeling so well, it's a good thing I caught her aid this morning and told her what I came home with last week! Time to purchase some Lysol and Purell for that classroom!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


T created this facebook account for me and when I have a few minutes here or there, I browse through the funny groups. I just joined a group tonight entitled, "I judge you when you use poor grammar" - of course, I won't link them up with my blog! (for shame!)

This picture was in that group - it's so funny! I'm sure there are more!!

I'm Water

At least that's what it says! LOL

Your Element Is Water

A bit of a contradiction, you can seem both lighthearted and serious.
That's because you're good at going with the flow - but you also are deep.

Highly intuitive, you tune in to people's emotions and moods easily.
You are able to tap into deep emotional connections and connect with others.

You prefer a smooth, harmonious life - but you can navigate your way around waves.
You have a knack for getting people to get along and making life a little more peaceful.

My Biggest Fear

Given the recent, as in yesterday, shift in our government from overly republican to overly democrat, what's my biggest fear?? It's not stem cell research, although that weighs heavily on my heart, nor is it gay marriage, because while I'm against gay "marriage", I'm not entirely square on my position where reasoning for it is concerned (health/death benefits). It's not even abortion, although I'm staunchly pro-life and I recognize that a woman's choice is at the top of the Democratic ticket.

What I worry about most in the wake of this shift in power is protecting our country in the war on terror. I'm not convinced that Democrats are willing to step out into the world as a country ready to defend itself. Their outspoken stance on pulling out of Iraq immediately frightens me, and I'm surprised it doesn't frighten more people. I fully support fighting the war on terror in the terrorist's countries and not on American soil - but that just doesn't seem important to some Americans.

I am sooo hoping I am wrong about this, but it worries me. Bringing all our soldiers home, being totally self-absorbed and refusing to admit that our enemy is formidable, just hoping for this chance to pounce on our shores gives me reason to shudder. I'm feeling a bit like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day - Maybe I should move to Australia!!!

What Do You Think?

My sister will kill me, but ever since I posted that picture of my new nephew, I keep thinking he looks like Patrick Swayze! It's a good thing they change so much in the first few weeks!! LOL

doctor woes

I need to head to bed.... so I'll try to make this brief.... then tomorrow I will share my airline travel woes!!

Last week I was feeling rather ill. After spending all Halloween morning at Em's school, I never fully recovered! I had fevers, a terrible sore throat and wasn't eating or sleeping. With a looming trip to Savannah planned for Friday evening, I decided to break down and drag myself to the doctor, something I only do if absolutely necessary. I was pretty sure I had either strep throat or I was dying!

The Columbia Medical Plan nurse practitioner and her John's Hopkins intern both agreed - I had something viral, no antibiotics necessary, it would go away on it's own. But, because I had bothered to stop in, they would do a "rapid" strep test anyway. "Rapid" is a HUGE exaggeration. While just across the way, in pediatrics, they actually have the capability of letting their patients know in 5 minutes if they have strep, the family practice people apparently are unable to acquire this ability. Instead, they send your test over to LabCorp, in the same building, who then sends your test out for the "rapid" strep test. Now, is this not the MOST RIDICULOUS thing you've ever heard of????

So, I left my "rapid" strep test in the hands of those trusty, slow lab workers and headed home with the instruction to call mid-morning for my results, especially since they knew I was leaving at 2 pm for the airport. At 10:50 am I placed a call to my doctor's office and was rudely received by the receptionist. She first informed me that I was not allowed to call for test results, that the office would call me. After I told her I'd been instructed to call by the nurse practitioner because I was traveling, she then proceeded to tell me, "MA'AM, if you had strep throat, you would have gotten a call before 10:50. There's NO WAY in the WORLD you have strep throat!!!" So, I hung up, feverishly packed my bags, my Robitussin, my antihistimines, and my Advil - lots of that - and went off to the airport.

Delta happens to be the carrier for the US Military, so on my flight down to Atlanta were 10 US Army doctors, just returning from Afghanistan. I was having a nice conversation with one who was stationed in Hawaii when I was rudely interrupted by T, who asked me, "Where are you?" LOL - he had just dropped me where I was about 20 minutes earlier. What do you mean, where am I?? Then he said, "The doctor's office just called.... you have strep throat!"

At that point, it didn't matter that I had a fever, or that I could hardly swallow, or even that I was sitting across from an Army doctor, the evil side of me kicked in. "WHAT????" Yup, that's what I said. And the rest, well, sorry if you were on either of my flights, or if I saw you when I stopped at McDonald's to eat so that I could keep my sister's kitchen clean - I mean, she was having a baby! I called that doctor's office and gave them a piece of my 100 degree mind! While the nurse was quite apologetic, the receptionist screamed at me again that my husband had already called to take care of everything - some customer service training in her future perhaps??

Off I went to Savannah, only to listen to my sister complain about how all doctors these days are so quick to prescribe antibiotics.... blah, blah, blah.... I then reminded her that mine wasn't, and that shut her up, because when I got there Friday night these were her exact words: Didn't that doctor know you were coming here to take care of your 2 year old niece while your sister had a baby??? And she still didn't give you antibiotics???? End of conversation, miss probiotics!

Anyway.... after 4 days of antibiotics, I'm finally home. Tired from my flight, but happy to home and healthy instead of sick. This is not the first time I've had a similar problem with my doctor... maybe it should be the last time, though!

Monday, November 06, 2006

And then there were two....

Welcome, baby Brendan Charles!
November 6, 2006
7:39 am
9 lbs. 8 oz.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
21 3/4 inches
Mom is doing much better, much lighter! and baby is doing well. He is the absolute sweetest baby, I mean toddler!!
Big sister, Skyler, is also doing well. Missing her mommy (like my own girls are), but very excited to be a big sister! I'm heading home tomorrow - will miss my little sweeties!! I LOVE being Aunt De!