Friday, May 30, 2008

No Rest for the Weary

Well, my morning of resting peacefully has ended. The deck builders are back with cement in tow. I guess today is the day for footers! Of course, being 15 feet from my bedroom makes for little rest - especially with my dogs barking downstairs. Hmmm.... rise and shine! (Of course, it is almost 11!)

Hmm... my vacuum starting smoking today while finishing up getting that room ready. I guess this is just not my day! That would put a twist on everything around here - if my house burned down.. Well, that's a twist anywhere. I guess I need to go vacuum shopping now - just another excuse to get out of here and escape all that racket outside!


Ok, so I'm not in bed, but I'm close. Right next to it with my laptop. I'm reading through the news and this story caught my eye. It really speaks to the heart and soul of humanity. I think it's amazing when people jump on board to better the lives of others and I'm interested in following this story for a while!


I am not feeling so great today. I had hoped to hit the pool for my one day of lap swimming, or even walk the neighborhood again - the weather has been so nice for that! Instead, I'll be remaining in close proximity to the bathroom. Ick. Not my favorite place to be. I've got the girls ready for school, then maybe I'll even crawl back into bed. Seems a shame on such a nice day, but sometimes that just can't be helped. Maybe later I'll be feeling better. Stress does strange things to a body.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Black and White

That's what my girls are like most of the time. I can remember when Em was born feeling slightly cheated. I had another girl, she was about .1 ounce away from being the exact same size as her sister and they looked a whole lot alike. But it wasn't long - maybe hours - before I realized just how different they really were!

The struggle for me has really begun where school is concerned. Preschool was not so bad, as they had different teachers and it was not really all that academic anyway. Kindergarten was also a totally different experience, as Kt was half day and Em was full day. I was really dismayed by that and I'm still a bit regretful of the extra time I missed with Em, especially considering the issues she's had this year.

Kt is my people pleasing, over-achieving first child. Every teacher in school raves over her, wants 20 of her clones, always having amazing things to say about her. She's always the first student to win the citizenship awards, gets invited to tons of birthday parties, is artistic, creative, friendly, intelligent.... she's the quintessential student. Not the quintessential athlete - that's one area where we just can't compete - not any of us in the this household.

Then Em comes along. To me, she's amazing, unique, very special, but she just isn't getting the same reception that #1 got. Apparently, her handwriting is "eligible" (I disagree, but I'm the mom!), her attention to detail is non-existent, she is an inconsistent performer (I keep thinking that at least she's consistently inconsistent!), and until everything is up to par there will be no citizenship awards for her. It's actually quite heartbreaking for a 7 year old who weekly gets her hopes up that she might actually be the ACE award winner, only to come home week after week without it. My heart really and truly aches for her, but I'm really feeling helpless.

The things that really make her special are the things that aren't actually measured in school. She has a deep love for animals (they aren't even allowed in schools anymore!), she has a nurturing heart, she's incredibly imaginative - just despises drawing or writing, she is highly sensitive but doesn't demonstrate that outwardly to just anyone. At least three days a week she comes off the bus in tears. I know that school is taking a toll on her - it's been a pretty negative experience all around, very frustrating and demeaning for a young child.

As I'm looking toward next year, I'm feeling a bit of angst about second grade. It was not our favorite with Kt and I truly feel that many of the teachers would be a bad match for Em. Have I thought about homeschooling? Well, not my first choice, but if next year begins and appears to be much like first I'd consider pulling her out. It hasn't all been bad, but in general she and I both are feeling the pressure for her to be able to do something I don't think she's really ready for.

How do parents with three, four or five or more kids handle this? I have often felt like God really limited us to two because He knew Em would need that extra bit of TLC she might not have gotten had she been in the shuffle with a few more. I spent an hour with her today finishing up her journal that was not completed in school.... all while she cried, moaned, complained.... When I leave her alone to do this? I find her talking to her fish instead of working, or something related to that. Just no interest in school. Very interested in all her boyfriends, however! ;-)

It's hard not to compare your children, especially when your experiences are so incredibly different. It's been a good lesson for Kt this year, the one who has since first grade collected data on each and every assessment so she can compare her progress with everyone else (much to all her teachers' dismay!). I can see big picture that each of them is being molded and shaped for very different purposes in life - it's amazing, it's scary and at times it's tricky to decipher. I just pray for them both, that their lives would be used by God.

Rachel Ray: Extremist?

I'm sorry - but I'm just not seeing it! I'm not personally a scarf person myself, but I'm doubting that the tattered looking thing Rachel Ray (a New York native, I might ad) is wearing comes anywhere close to the black and white checked head gear the Palestinians wear. Are we now not allowed to wear black and white anything these days? Hmmm, that ought to eliminate at least half of every woman's wardrobe around here! Geez. Don't know about you, but this changeth not my perception of Dunkin' Donuts ~ will still be frequented by inhabitants of this house! ;-)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On Iraq

“I don’t think we want to continue a misguided foreign policy and an endless war in Iraq that has cost us thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars while making us less safe and less secure,” he [Obama] said.
I have a lot of thoughts on the war in Iraq, but I feel like I should be the last person to speak. I have a cousin and a good friend who were in the first Desert Storm, and that was a war that ended too soon. The result? Well, let's look at 9-11 for one thing. I think it's a little naive to say that our country is "less safe and less secure" after we've invested lives and money to keep terrorism in the Middle East where the source is rather than to have it brandish our shores.

Do I like war? Heck no. Do I want to continually send Americans into Iraq and Afghanistan, spend billions of dollars and have them pay the ultimate sacrifice so I can be safer? No, I really don't. Do I think Obama has a miraculous solution to this dilemma? Well, if he does, I'm still waiting to hear it!! In fact, I'd like to hear it from any one of the candidates. I don't believe pulling out of Iraq will help. I don't believe deserting our presence in the Middle East will keep us safer and more secure. I can't believe people think that.

Memorial Day is nice, but really, we should be thinking about our soldiers and their commitment to us, to our country and to the world to fight for the freedoms of everyone, not just Americans. I'm really proud of what we've done in Iraq - call me crazy, but I think a majority of Iraqis are glad we came. When the time is right, not when a new president arrives at the White House, is the time we should pull out slowly, but if we want safer and secure, that's not going to happen if our presence is shuttered for electability.

That's probably enough for now.


... he's got a point. I was intrigued by this little note from the FoxNews VP. I would refrain from sending him any cartoons!;-)

Countdown to Summer

The girls are officially counting down the days. In fact, it's so bad around here, they are getting up early and begging to stay home!!! Personally, I'm just ready for school to be over as well. It's difficult getting your kids to do homework when the pool is open and everyone else is playing outside (hey, don't they have homework??). I'm ready for a diversion to this sitting around here, cleaning, laundry and watching my backyard disappear.

So, what do we think about fences? Personally, I've always wanted one - easier to let the dogs out, defines my responsibility and would keep everyone's garbage from collecting on our lawn! (What's left of it, anyway!) The problem is that our backyard is tiny, oddly shaped and smaller than we thought. Still, I'm ready for a little privacy, especially if we ever can afford to put a patio back there. Not to mention, I'd love for our neighbors to start raking their own leaves! =) You claim it, you tame it!!

Well, I'm off to try to get that extra room ready for our summer guest - who is arriving this weekend. I can't wait - another diversion for my wandering mind. We have some high expectations for the amount of energy we're expecting our guest to deliver (no pressure or anything! ;-)) because we're running on about half a tank right now and we've got a lot of things coming up. Like finding someone to give us an estimate on our new fence!!

Here's the view from my bedroom of our neighbor's house, and you can see the post under that branch (thank goodness we have trees!) for their new deck with that corner having an extension. They once complimented me on my new green bedroom curtains - I wonder what they'll be able to see now! Needless to say, I keep those blinds closed! ;-)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Out From Under the Rubble

Been busy this week cleaning out that room for our summer house guest. Today I spent some time in that old closet... cleaning it out and going through the file cabinets. I found some old college stuff in there - funny - and a folder of cards that my students wrote me after my year student teaching in their class. They were funny, sweet, sad... I student taught in an elementary school in the city of Lynn, MA - Hood El. School. I had the most amazing cooperating teacher and the sweetest group of 27 fourth graders - mostly boys. The school had no library, no cafeteria (the gym doubled as a cafeteria), little parent involvement and just blacktop for a playground. I soon realized, however, that the school was the heart of it's surrounding community. I'd arrive early and the playground would daily be packed with kids just waiting to get in. The students, many of whom received breakfast and lunch daily, were eager to come inside. The atmosphere to me was nurturing, warm and friendly. I really miss being there sometimes. Especially after reading all those sweet cards. I wonder what those kids are doing now....


Spectacular flowers springing from the ground.
Perfect beautiful colors up and down.
Radiant scents and shapes of all sizes.
Infinite beauties from the tips of tree down to the ground.
Nothing that matches the wonderful gleaming flowers.
Gorgeous sights, scents and light and bright tones.

K. Sheng, 4th grade

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Plan T

I wrote a little post sometime in the past few weeks about a Plan B for our trips this summer. While I like to think of it as Plan Believe, I think we all know we were wondering "what if" about our support for our very ambitious budget this year. This morning I read a post that really spoke to me about something I knew - that God always provides - and how to ensure this happens. I think it's by embracing Plan T - or, Plan Trust. Actually, Plan T & O - Plan Trust and Obey. (I used to love that hymn!) Anyway, it's incredible to try to fathom the unlimited resources of God - they are something we don't tap enough!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Just Wondering....

Do you have to be a millionaire to run for president? If so, what does that say about all their talk about wanting to eliminate the poor.... Is that really an issue of the heart for them, or is it just a way to make it to Pennsylvania Avenue? I'm just wondering....

Indiana Jones 4

So, we took the girls to see this movie yesterday and it was.... surprising. Not at all what I would expect for Indy. It was more like 60's era hero meet sci-fi in regards to theme, not special effects. The girls liked it, but I'm pretty sure they didn't understand most of it. Em's favorite part was the poison dart move by Indy, Kt is still processing the whole experience. I can't say it was bad, but like another friend of mine recently stated, it's a complete departure from the original Indy themes. I sort of wish they had kept it real... but it was OK. My dad would have LOVED it!

Friday, May 23, 2008


It's about this time I start dreaming about us taking a sabbatical year... you know, no summer trips, holiday weekends fun, summer vacations as a family with ample vacation time from work, rest, relaxation. I can't remember ever having a summer like this in a long time. Maybe the summer before we had Kt? I don't know... it just seems like every vacation we've ever taken has something attached to it - work or missions. I'm sort of dreaming of a summer with no responsibilities. I know, I'm just dreaming! =)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sad Day

When I went off to Gordon College, it was honestly my first real experience living with a lot of christians my age. I came from a believing family, my parents had many christian friends, but we didn't have Christian radio and just one very small Christian bookstore. Upon arriving, I met a very good friend who introduced me to Christian music beyond Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. I completely fell in love with the music of Steven Curtis Chapman. It was well written, authentically Christian and for me very thought provoking. Not to mention, he's just an outstanding musician.

I'm not a huge concert goer, but my friend dragged me to a couple of his concerts and since then I've been dragging T when I can. It's been nearly 20 years and I still love his music, his family, his commitment to his children. I'm so heartbroken for this family right now upon hearing this news last night. I cannot even imagine what this tragedy means for such a close-knit, prominent family. They have pioneered making adoption more accessible for families and have a strong commitment to their own children.

Sometimes we get a chance to say, "I'm so glad God chose this for me!!" And I know this family has said that many times. Then we have those times when we wonder, "Why did God choose this for me??" For a 5 year old little orphaned girl in China, God already knew her time and He gave her an incredible family to spend it with. It's just so tragic, the circumstances surrounding this accident, and I'm sure it will take years of healing for each of them to come to peace with their grief. My thoughts and prayers are with each of them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Beach

Last night, after a very nice dinner out, T and I couldn't figure out what to do. He couldn't think of one thing and I could only think of one thing - the beach. I miss living near the beach. Any time of the year, it's such a great place to go, relax, get lost, go for a walk, read a book, meet your friends, hang out.... there's is nothing like the beach. And there's no beach where I live. I feel lost! Pretty much the only thing I want when I retire is to live near the beach - that is, of course, if I make it to retirement. Without a beach, the stress is just killing me!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Do you drink soda?

Poor Kt. That's what they always ask her at the dentist. It's quite sad for a girl who, he entire life, has only had milk or water to drink. She doesn't like any sugary drinks at all, can't eat chewy foods or candy (due to a spacer put in when her tooth was pulled at age 5) and never chews gum. Today we had our 6 month check up and in just 6 short months of using flouride rinses and brushing her teeth at least twice a day she had 3 cavities and a chipped tooth. I guess she takes after her dad.

Em has one cavity in a brand new molar (hadn't even emerged 6 months ago) and they said it appears as though it never formed properly, causing a cavity. Poor thing! I had my first cavity when I was 19. Since then I've had two more and one that was done over again. I don't even ask T how many he has, but I'm starting to wonder!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Help for Burma

In the wake of all that's happened in Burma, it's difficult to know just how to help, if help will be accepted or even get to the right victims. This morning I received an email from a friend who lives in Bangkok about the situation and an inroad. For those interested, I'm posting her email with permission:

Dear friends,

Like many of you, my heart breaks whenever I think about
the tragedy in Burma . Although I am close in proximity, I
feel so helpless as the communist country is so resistant
to outside help. On a positive note, though, I have several
friends who have managed to get visas due to some Burmese
contacts and what they share continues to amaze me.
 A friend of mine told me today that her husband hit 55
roadblocks going from Yangon to the Irrawaddy delta area.
Each stop required a bribe of some sort to pass through,
leaving their once full truck nearly empty by the time it
finally reached its destination. With the monsoon season
upon us, the many survivors living under tarps are not only
hungry, but also wet and weary without hope.
 Another friend said she received some photos taken by her
staff in the Delta, but she was afraid they are too graphic
to send to me. All of the preschools that she helped work
with in the delta after the Asian tsunami have been
destroyed and will need to be rebuilt. Many of her staff
and children have died.
 The military told her Burmese staff on the ground that
there are over 6000 orphans, a staggering number. Amazingly,
the military has asked her partner organization to help.
They will network with local NGO’s on the ground there.
They are already planning seminars on Family Based Orphan
Care, which will help build the capacity of the communities
to take care of the orphans themselves. And, in cases where
there is absolutely no one in the community to care for a
child, then help to establish homes where they can be cared
for within the communities.
 Robert Kaplan, of the New York Times says, “The Burmese
military junta, one of the most morally repulsive in the
world, has allowed in only a trickle of aid supplies.”
Please continue to pray that the desperately needed food
and supplies will be allowed in and be distributed to those
in dire need.
 It is difficult for me to pray for the military regime,
especially when I think of for years their disregard for
their own people. Someone on CNN said yesterday, “The UN
needs to prosecute the junta for crimes against humanity.”
I fully agree. However, “They wander about in darkness…”
They need a supernatural revelation of the light and life
they can have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, in
obedience I
pray for their salvation.
 My church here in Thailand has been fortunate to be
partnering with a church that is Burmese. Through them,
and some of my friend’s agencies, we have found some
backpackers and some other “non government” ways to help
bring supplies and food in. Although it might take some
time to reach the people in need, we pray that what we are
able to send does not get confiscated by the military
 If you would like to be able to help contribute something,
might I suggest you go through an organization called “World
”? You can give tax-free contributions via their
website which is I know that
there are many other aid groups that are very effective as
well, however, most of them are facing delays in entering
the country. According to my friend, World Vision has been
active in Myanmar for over 40 years and already has over
500 workers on the ground (including my friends!), so, they
are able to meet needs immediately.
 I will close this very long email with a quote I recently
came across from Martin Luther King, Jr., “Our lives
begin to end the day we remain silent on things that
 Please do not remain quiet when it comes to the plight of
our brothers and sisters in Burma . We need to keep their
story in people’s minds and prayers. The world needs to
 Thank you,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Impromptu Movie Night

We just had our neighbors over for an impromptu movie night - the girls really want to have them and how could I say no? I mean, they were at their house the entire day today!! Seems like a small price to pay for having some peace and quiet today. Anyway, they decided to watch Swiss Family Robinson. It's hard to believe that movie from years ago can produce such giggles, whooping and hollering, but it did! They chose that after recalling we'd left Pete's Dragon in Savannah. They just don't make movies like they used to!


Ironically, Democrats won the 2006 elections and took control of both the House and the Senate by promising they would reduce gas prices. Yet, with regular gas now selling above $3.67 a gallon, Americans can only longingly remember the average prices of about $2.20 a gallon that Democrats were complaining about in early November 2006. The Democrats’ bigger sin is that they seem to have no understanding of how markets work. ~

John Lott is the author of Freedomnomics and a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland.

More on gasenomics here.

If We Were...

So, today/this weekend is pretty beat. Typically, we head to up to Ct for Memorial Day weekend, and this year I was really looking forward to that!! I needed some beach time, a getaway from all the stress around here and just a change of scenery. My mother informed me a few weeks ago that someone else told her they would be coming for MD weekend - I'm not sure how we got left out of the equation, but we just figured instead of that, we'd go up this weekend, since the girls have today off school!

Enter: heart condition, T having to work this weekend, the cost of alternate transportation ridiculously high. Here we are, in Maryland, and I'm just reserving the right to be depressed. I don't want to be here right now, and it's raining, and we have nothing planned anyway. Relax? hardly. There are 100,000 chores that need to be done in this house, so it's anything but relaxing being here. My heart thing has annoyed me for two days now so I'm kind of sitting here, thinking about it and how truly debilitating it is!

If we were in CT, we'd be lounging around, starting to get ready to head up to Einstein's to pick up lunch for my mom. We'd take lunch up to her at school, hang out with her friends, then we'd head off to do something fun, even if it's just hanging out in our second home. We'd wait for everyone to get home, maybe head to the Circle Diner for dinner or maybe even On the Border and Christmas Tree Shop. Then possibly to a movie. We'd be looking forward to a Saturday of Connecticut stuff - maybe hit some tag sales, lunch at Duchess, walk on the beach, Uncle D grilling. It would have been fun.

Instead, I'm here, thinking about my heart, making it worse. Can't do much outside in the rain. Can't even plan another weekend in CT since every weekend from now on is busy - well, except next weekend when we can't go anyway!! I guess I ought to go have something to eat since it's 10:30. I am so not motivated to do anything today. It's just pathetic!

Cameroon - The Heart of Africa

Last night, T picked up a man from Yaounde who is visiting and brought him to meet our Cameroon team. This man was no stranger to T, because he'd met him on his trip to Cameroon two years ago. For our kids and most of this year's team, he was instantly a new friend. Kt had the chance to experience a Cameroonian family dinner as she went with T to Peter's relative's home. She tried some food and they ever sent her home with a fish! That child is head over heels in love with the idea of going to Africa even more now.

As I listened to P share with the team his vision, his heart and his love for Cameroon, it brought me back to T's return. The overwhelming feeling was one of amazement at how accepting, hospitable and community oriented Cameroonians are. P had some wonderful advice for the team, each piece of it illustrating how different their culture is from ours. Our team will be taking care of the children of their country team members - about 30 couples. Many families have multiple children and he could not even give them an idea about how many children they would have. This will be the realization of a dream he has had as a leader - the first time wives are able to stand side-by-side with their husbands in this ministry and not stay home with the children. I'm so excited to bless this team in this way, but I realize it will be a huge challenge for this team.

Here are some of the cultural things that stood out to me in his presentation:

~ Our children will love anything you bring them because they are taught to be grateful for everything that is given to them - we are all grateful.

~ You will have to be extra careful to get all the details right on those Bible stories as my daughters often correct me on them.

~ When you greet an elder, you always bow your head as a sign of respect for them.

~ You will be embarrassed by wearing revealing clothing...

~ If you tell someone you have a boyfriend, it's scandalous. Dating means you are having sex... so you only have "friends".

~ No pictures of public buildings. Since 9/11, that is their "security" against terrorists.

~ Women spend hours preparing a meal, and he's quite sure you will never want to leave if you try his wife's cooking. He only had the highest praise for his wife.

There was a lot more, but I think it was an amazing opportunity for this team to really connect with one their hosts. The team will be divided between his house and our church missionary family in Yaounde. The kids program will be at his house! while the couples travel 30 minutes away for their conference. T wanted the team to ask him the questions they wanted to ask... and it was SO difficult for me to keep my mouth shut. I had so many more!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Plan B

T just told me we need a plan B for our summer trips. I guess that's the formidable question... at what point do we decide that a trip is not going to happen because we cannot incur debt? Unfortunate, but when you are trying to raise $185,000 for 5 trips and have strict guidelines about how you can raise those funds, I guess you need a plan B. We've never had a plan B before. For me, I've always stuck with plan G - the God plan. But if he says we need a plan B, then we must need it!! Hmph. It would appear that extra heartbeat I've been granted isn't doing me much good.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ominous Task

What's even more ominous than raising thousands (OK, hundreds of thousands) of dollars for summer missions? More ominous that heart palpitations? More ominous than having your kids home from school on Friday... then for the entire summer? Even more ominous than trying to pull off a silent auction when you've never done one before???

Well, it's cleaning my house. This is currently the International Office of Space, soon to be bedroom to one of our favorite peeps, LB, who is right now finishing up her DTS in Italy. Where will she sleep? I have no idea right now! Better question is, though, where will she put her clothes? The sad thing is that when it comes or organization in this house, I'm showing you a nice corner... sad to say. You. should. see. the. basement. "Nuf said.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Yoke

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-31
I really cannot begin to describe what a 24 hour Holter Monitor is like for someone who suffers from PVC's, somewhat of an obsessive/compulsive personality and a family history of heart disease that would make even the strongest of men shudder. If ever I've felt insane, it was the last 24 hours for sure. In all honesty, I've felt for almost three weeks like at any point, I might actually die. It's petrifying. No, it's just plain gut wrenching!!

This morning, I went to our last women's Connection group. It was a worship set and a short teaching on the passage above. I almost cried when our pastor's wife put the verse up on the screen because for the past couple of weeks I've had this running through my head, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." For real. In fact, when she jokingly asked how many of us had used the word "yoke" in the past week, not meaning part of an egg, I almost jumped out of my seat!! I knew instantly that God had given me His word, that He allowed me to go this morning despite hours of monitoring that seemed to be debilitating and night of no rest.

Everything in this verse speaks to me now. Weary, burdened, rest, yoke, easy, light.... I guess sometimes God needs to give us real life lessons so we can really experience His word. He totally has my attention this time!! While anxiety plays a huge role in what's happening, there's a physical aspect of it that I have little or no control over. It's overwhelming, it's debilitating, it's humiliating and it's going to persuade me to turn to the only one who can offer me rest. I'm so glad He's the great physician and that my heart is in His hands.

May God grant you peace from His Word in His Time.

Monday, May 12, 2008


I'm about 1 hour away from a consultation with a cardiologist. I really don't like going to see doctors - it only adds to my stress and anxiety!! However, I feel like this one might be able to tell me what's really wrong with me. Question is: do I really want to know? Well, not really, but I guess I better find out. Dread.

UPDATE: OK, so I'm weird. I just needed a cardiologist to tell me. I have an extra heartbeat, not a missing one like I'd thought. I'm home now with a 24hour monitor on - no shower tomorrow. If you know where I work, don't come visit me tomorrow! =)

I'd like to say I have a real peace about this, but that probably won't come until I don't have to record every little beat I feel!! I am glad it seems to be something that is fairly common and they just don't treat it. (?) We'll see how that sits with my anxious little self.

For real, two doctors could find nothing wrong with me. I've been offered anti-anxiety meds, every kind of allergy med known to man and took them up on muscle relaxers so Tony wouldn't have to rub out the two big old knots in my back every morning, noon and night - he thought they were bones!! If I had an anxiety issue it was over knowing something was not right but not knowing what that something is!!

I'm feeling better, took myself off all unessential meds this past weekend and feel like that helped a lot. God - he's so ironic sometimes. Here I am, my last Bible study tomorrow on our Calm My Anxious Heart book, and He goes and gives me a real, live test. What a sense of humor there.... not! I can honestly say, however, that being able to rest in Him is what allowed me to say no to those meds. I'm not unapproving of medication - I practically live on them! But I knew in my heart (LOL) that there was something real here and that medicating a physical reaction to get help wasn't going to make it go away.

So, I'm all hooked up now, recording every little palpatation I feel. Fortunately, they've subsided quite a bit and hopefully the more I relax in the knowledge that I'm not on the verge of a major heart attack they'll subside even more. Of course, cutting out stress can't be such a bad thing... can it? hehe


Last year, just before we were planning to head off on our trip to Vienna, a story broke about a girl who had been held by a man almost her whole life - quite a scandal. This year, I just finished reading the last chapter of Calm My Anxious Heart, which details years of a missionary family living in, you guessed it, Vienna, where prostitution is legal. This had a devastating effect on their children, namely their girls. Then, as I was reading through this chapter, another story from outside Vienna emerged and is still in the news. A man holds his daughter captive for years, has seven children with her, etc... If you read any news, you know the story. Now, today. This.

I have to say, we totally fell in love with Vienna last year. It's absolutely beautiful, rich in history, a more calming city than most and has the sweetest water ever. I'm not afraid to go back, but it's sad to see so much negative news about such a beautiful place. Obviously, God is showing me it's a city that needs him desperately. We felt that last year and we're hoping to leave His mark somewhere there this year.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mommy's Day!!

I just finished yelling down to my girls to "Cut it out!" - fortunately, nobody yelled back, "Where are the scissors?" like we used to do with our mom! We were so smart to her, but she was smart to us back. I know today seems like a competition for who has the best mom, but I don't even need to compete - I've got her, and I'm not sharing!!!

There are so many reasons I love my mom and am thankful to her for the way she raised us and loves us. So I'm not the best cook, nor do I have a house that even resembles the word "clean", but I know how to have fun, how to laugh at myself, when enough is enough and most importantly, how to let my kids fail. My mom taught me how to love Jesus in the midst of life, and I'm eternally grateful to her for that.

Sorry, folks. My mom is the best and there's no contest here. On the back of this picture is the word "Disney" - other than my mickey sweatshirt, I would have never guessed this picture had anything to do with Disney. But my mom, I'm sure, could rattle off 100 memories from that trip, each with a lesson for us, a reminder of a wonderful childhood where she and my dad created fun from pennies and lots of love!

(Oh, and nice socks, Uncle D! haha)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reasons I Love My Husband

I was at a lunch last week for one of our Hungary leaders who was in town. While there, another leader asked me what I liked most about T. He said that he thinks the world of T and was wondering what things I saw that attracted him to me. Since we've been married almost 14 years, the list is only getting longer, but I figured instead of waiting until Father's Day, I'd just tell you what I really love about him!

1. His Passion for Learning
T has raked up quite a bill on Amazon! He orders books, checks them out of the library, borrows them from friends and people even send him free books to review on his blog!! I told him last night he should write a book about what he does and he told me someone already did. Just not about him! For as long as I've known him, he's always changing things in his life to reflect something he's read about. I know women who have husbands who play/watch sports, who hang out in bars all night, who are needy for attention. That's just not T. Sometimes I think he'd rather take a vacation with a bunch of books than his family!! (I'm totally not kidding here!)

2. His Love for his Children
Having been a teacher, I can say that when we first were married, I was able to see T react with children, and I loved it. But I still wondered what he'd be like as a dad. He was great with my students and he loved playing with all the neighborhood kids when we lived 4 doors from my cousin. One time, in the middle of a movie we were getting ready to watch together, he jumped up, ran to the window and looked at me with those excited eyes, "They are playing capture the flag. Can I go? Do you mind??" What could I say?

Now that we have two kids of our own, even being a stay-at-home mom I get plenty of help with our two girls. I think we would have loved two more! He spends lots of time with them, doing dad things and even helping them with girl things, like brushing hair (when I ask), reading them fairy tales (when they ask!) and taking them to the mall (he actually likes shopping!). We both spend hours talking about our girls and he has certainly influenced them by what he does with our SPACE kids. He's an amazing dad.

3. He Loves Me
OK, maybe our love languages don't quite match up, but I recognize the ways in which he loves me. Mostly, by the fact that he has given me the freedom to not work right now. It has been such a blessing, especially the past couple of weeks of not feeling so great, just to know that there's no pressure to get out there and get a job. He make us a priority and listens when we're not. I've never wondered if he still loves me, and I know many women who have.

4. He's Conquered Great Odds
Many people don't know this about T, but he is an only child raised by Chinese immigrants. Culturally, he has a foot in two different worlds. His parents, while living close to us, maintain their culture and heritage by being immersed in a huge Chinese subculture. From what I've witnessed, there is little outward expression of feelings, a strong drive to succeed above everything and little emotion. Having been raised in that kind of environment, I'm always fascinated when I observe his parents to really grasp how different he is from them. He's come a long way, and he made a choice at a young age to be different.

5. He is Intentional
While he gives off the impression that he "goes with the flow", nothing could be farther from the truth. This may be why he's such a phenomenal multi-tasker. I've never denied him new forms of electronic planning gadgets, because he lives by them. He's now in love with his second Blackberry. Having one from work that he could not use personally was just way too frustrating, so he had to get his own!! But really, if you hunt through his Blackberry, you'll find that every meeting, dinner, lunch, commitment is intentionally planned for an express purpose. Of course, if you meet with him you probably won't feel like it is.

Not only is he intentional about his appointments, but if he feels like something he is doing has lost purpose, he can walk away from it. I could never do that - it's that Responsibility strength I have. For him, though, the pruning begins when intention is lost. If there is no reason to continue, you are cut from the vine. Snip! And on he moves. I guess God gave him me to make him a bit more compassionate in his pruning! ;-)

6. He has Intentional, Loving Passion for the World...
Because of his faith in God. I don't know that I've ever seen someone so in tune with God that he has embraced His heart for the world in such a unique way. Admittedly, we are not gifted with evangelism. We've seen that gift at work, and we're quite certain that it is not embodied in us. What we do know is that we are both teacher/trainers. T is much more of a discipler. He infuses passion into kids for a world they will meet through his planning, training and guidance. I really think he transfers his passion into many of the students we work with, and I'm really awed that I get to spend my life with someone like that. He has a heart for the world, the lost, the broken, the impoverished. Any student who he has spent any amount of time with can see that. His imprint on mankind is sent out in the students he will raise to harvest souls. I don't think you can do what he does unless God runs the show - it's just impossible for one person to lead, guide, train over 100 people for summer trips alone.

Well, I could certainly go on, but I think that gives you a pretty good picture of TTS. I always claim he's the person he is because of me (=)) and that's really a joke. He's the person he is because he allows his God to use him, guide him and empower him. And I'm thankful that.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

got confirmation?

Sometimes God amazes us even when we're not in need of amazement. I think He loves doing this and it helps us to see just how big He is!

This year, we have a Hungary team member we barely know. It's something we've never done before, but she's the roommate of one of our past interns. They go to school out west and came to CT/NYC with us this past January. R instantly clicked with everyone and when T asked me how I felt about inviting her to Hungary, I had not one single reservation about it. When he asked her, she also accepted whole-heartedly. We weren't looking for confirmation or feeling like we'd maybe made a wrong choice, but God gave it to us in a crazy way.

This summer, R is working as a nanny for a Christian family. When she went to meet them, she told them she'd be serving in Hungary this summer for a couple weeks. They asked where, and when she told them Sopron (mind you, it's a smaller Hungarian town, more like a suburb of Vienna) imagine their surprise, and hers, and ours, and everyone else who will hear this story, when they shared that they had actually lived in Sopron for a year while they taught English. Now, I ask you, can God be any more direct than that? I think not. He orchestrates, we play our part.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What Kind of Teacher Would I Be?

Cool Teacher

Cool Teacher
A cool teacher knows when its time for jokes and when its time for work. Has their own set of rules to give order to the class. This kind of teacher cares about you passing just to save them from filling out all that paperwork.

This was a facebook application - I have no idea where the quiz is because I'm not really computer application literate! Anyway, kind of funny! I don't know if my first graders would agree.

Parent's Prerogative

I'm a parent, so occasionally I choose to use this blog to brag. Although, in this case I'm not sure if some would consider this just plain scary! Not something to really brag about... I've known since Kt came home from a week at Teen Missions Camp with T that she was going to do something big in life. At the age of 6 she had fully embraced the idea of working with orphans in Africa. Having been a first grade teacher, I could easily see this was a different kind of passion than we might normally expect from a child her age. It wasn't just Africa, either. She just wanted to go.

Today I was at the girl's school and Kt's G/T math teacher stopped to talk to me. He said that Kt has taken quite an interest in the situation in Myanmar. Some kids (like Em) are little too empathetic to share details of a natural disaster with because they will fixate on it. Then others (like Kt) need to know because it puts into action areas of the brain that don't ordinarily get a work out. Kt is insistent on a solution to this country not allowing Visas for aid workers. While managing everyday life, she is working on a solution. Her GT teacher basically told me that he expects an email from us 15 years from now about what Kt is doing in the world... because he knows she won't just be sitting at home. She's got a passion.

Just scary, I tell you. And exciting. God has created a mover/shaker and plopped her down in our house for us to raise. It's no wonder I have stress-related heart palpatations!!

Speed Traps

Last year, I wrote a bit on here about a police officer who was struck and hit while doing what they call around here walk out traffic stops. It's a practice I always thought was frightening. Scott Wheeler stepped out in front a vehicle that was traveling 77mph in a 55mph zone. Let me just say, it was on a road that our neighborhood sits on and the average traveling speed on that road is 65-70mph. I know that's illegal, but if you are going with traffic, that is a speed you'd likely be traveling. This girl did not even see him step out and didn't know what she had hit - at least that's how the story goes.

Today on FoxNews they are reporting that she was only fined $350 and had 3 points put on her license. I imagine this will not sit well with many police officers, and truthfully I am really surprised that was her only consequence after going before a grand jury. However, I couldn't be happier that they have put an end to that practice as it always terrified me to watch those police officers walk out and stand in the middle of the road just pointing at people - I think it was a terribly way to patrol heavily traveled and high speed roadways. Hopefully this will put an end to that! For Scott Wheeler's family, I wish them peace although I'm sure this will hardly suffice.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Young At Heart

I was putting Em to bed tonight and we prayed together. We prayed for my doctors appointment tomorrow, that it would go well and that the doctor would know how to fix my heart. After we prayed, she asked me what was wrong with my heart and I told her it beats funny. So, she did a little example for me (wish you could have seen it!), then she kind of looked at me quizzically. She said in all seriousness, "Well, at least you didn't lose your love! If you lost your love, that would be bad for Kt and me!!" I had to laugh at that. Oh, to be 7 again!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Oddly, Still Awake...

I had planned out a nice, relaxing day today. Feeling much better, still not 100%, but I felt like I could finally tackle some ordinary chores, such as grocery shopping.... then the phone rang. When I saw on caller ID who it was, I was thinking that I really ought to put my "Just say no!" training into action. But no, still haven't learned anything from Linda Dillow! No de-stressing in this house.

It was my neighbor, the cafeteria lady, and she was calling to see if I was busy today or if I could work for her - she thinks she has strep throat. This woman has something over me, as I have a child who is very susceptible to strep and I don't want this woman near her!! While I was pondering whether or not I was "busy" today, she went on to tell me that she just walked her dog and when she came in, the kitchen lady called her. We have one woman who runs the show in our elementary school cafeteria. I don't know how she does it, but most people at the school say they have never seen her miss a day, don't know what they would do without her - and I believe them all! Anyway, she left a message saying her husband had a massive stroke over the weekend so that she would not be at work.

Well, that was enough for me. I took Em over to school - it is Teacher/Staff Appreciation week and I helped the kids make a pottery vase for their teacher. Em wanted me to help her bring it in. After that, I ran to get the other vase for Kt's teacher tomorrow, then stopped by church to drop off a few things, pick up our financials for our trips... went home to change into clothes more appropriate for recess and lunch duty. You guessed it - I worked today, did no grocery shopping, but I also didn't collapse, nor did I nap when I got home. In fact, I'm still writing on here.

T and I had Bible study tonight - fun. I'm happy to be feeling much better, but still a little apprehensive about my dr. appointment on Wednesday. Then again, those always make me apprehensive!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Youth Sunday

Today is Youth Sunday. It's where our high schoolers rock the church, share some testimonies, and we get to inform the church about our summer plans. It's one of the few times our church allows us to to talk about SPACE! It's also the Sunday where some people leave because the music is too loud (and mutter to themselves, "So THAT'S what goes on in the warehouse??"), where others say, "Who did the music today? We should have them more often!!" and where many others come up to us and say, "So this is what you do with students.... hmmm..." All in all, it's fun and I enjoy a break from a typical Sunday service. Because I used to be a Baptist, and we had a lot of variety in our little 60+ member church!

My mom called me yesterday to tell me what their youth group is doing to raise money for their trip to Guatemala. She thought we should try it at our church. They are offering three nights out for parents. It's $10/child and they provide a night of fun for the kids. Sounds great, but I don't think we'd be allowed to do that - no fundraising on church property. Not to mention, we could end up with 200 children! YIKES! I do love to know what other churches do, but we're slightly limited. We can be creative, though!;-)

OK, off to get the girls ready for Youth Sunday. My guess is that Super Mario Kart on the Wii will be difficult to pull them away from. Of course, it's a great stress reliever (creator?) for their dad!!

Saturday, May 03, 2008


I'm feeling rather subdued now that the Hungary team has taken off for a fundraiser! They (most of them) arrived at 10 this morning, some left for band practice at church, we had lunch and off they went. Really, we accomplished a lot in a little bit of time. It's exciting to see some momentum in something that you've been thinking about and planning for for a while but waiting for things to move. They are now moving!

ES was home for the weekend, so nice to catch up with a team member who is in college. We also received a timely email from another team member, LB, who is currently serving with YWAM on a DTS in Italy. She sent us a great email about rest, something I need to be doing more of, I guess. Some good catch up time today.

One of the things that is neat this summer is the fact that we know many of the families we'll be serving. It's neat for us, but I'm a little concerned about all our new team members. I don't want them to feel like they don't know what is going on!! It's been a temptation of ours to reminisce about last year together, or even try to put this year into perspective for everyone based on last year. Really... it's a whole new thing this year, and we ought to treat it that way. We know we are going to serve some really amazing families - I am just in awe that God is sending us again. If you ever want to spend a week with movers and shakers, come with us!!

I know that God has many things in store for us this summer, many of which are already set in motion. I know that we will be spiritually challenged - body, mind, soul - before we leave, while we're there. I can feel a great need for some serious prayer for our team, the families in Europe and the revival that is on the horizon for Europe. I just feel it. I know for a fact that we can't have any kind of momentum without the spirit leading us. It just can't happen any other way. I'm excited and scared all at the same time!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Do You Ever Wonder?

It's late. We have a Hungary meeting here tomorrow at 10am... and there's still a lot to do. Of course, while I sat in the mud room, cleaning up all the remnants of cold days, unfinished laundry, piles of shoes everyone just throws in there expecting them to prance themselves onto the correct shelves I wondered whether or not life was simpler, harder, less complicated about 100 or so years ago. Do you ever wonder?

My mind was really wandering today. What if someone from medieval times could write a blog post about their day. What would it sound like? Did they ever protest all the battles they had to set off for? Did they worry about melting polar ice caps? Did they send their kids off to school without breakfast and their hair brushed and wonder what all the other moms would think?? Yeah, totally strange, but sometimes I just think about strange things.

Wandering mind, but still focused on what lies ahead. I've got some cleaning to do, inside and out! Tomorrow we meet with our team - and I get to feel blessed yet again. Lord, help us to never stop wondering.

Invading My Space

A couple weeks ago, I posted about our neighbors finally adding a deck onto the back of their house. I was annoyed because some guy came to measure it all out and brought along his dog, tied him to a tree and left him running all over my back yard wreaking havoc on our household as my own two little dogs spent all day going ballistic. (They slept well that night!;-)) I had called our neighbors to ask if they could have their contractor move the dog to their yard because I was in my pajamas. They never called back, but apparently mentioned it to this man, because when I went out to walk my dogs before work, he was quite rude to me!

Anyway, this man has been back twice this week to finally begin construction on this deck and brought along a human friend (thank goodness!). Now, I'm not opposed to people putting decks on the backs of their houses - I'd love one myself! But, we don't really have back yards, us and our neighbor. Because of the way our houses sit, our backyards are triangles and there really isn't room for a deck. So, you ask, how are they doing this??

Well, for one, I'm highly doubting they have a permit in hand. The guys who "measured" out the deck are working from a piece of notebook paper - for real! I've never seen anything even resembling a property plot map or anything. What can we do? Well, nothing really. They are our neighbors. And really, we had decided just to let it go because there's nothing we can do. Their house sits above ours so their deck now looks a bit like a treehouse to us! Really, with the trees back there, there's plenty of privacy.

Today, however, something happened and now I'm more skeptical about keeping our mouths shut. For some unknown reason, these guys put about a three foot extension onto the back of the deck in the area closest to our property (can't figure out why they didn't do this on the other side of the deck!) and the post for that corner of the deck is at the treeline, which when we bought our house was explained to us as the property line! So, it's quite possible that we now own that corner of their deck! I always wanted a deck, but I'd rather have the whole thing. It's all very awkward, and given that these are neighbors who don't really like to communicate with anyone it puts us in a bizarre predicament.

What do we do?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Choose Civility

I've posted about these bumper stickers people around here have on their cars. Just the other day I was at church picking up some things and found a postcard in T's box. It was advertising a Choose Civility event, so without reading it (but snickering to myself) I brought it home for T as a joke. When he saw it, I'm laughing just thinking about this, he said, "WHAT is that junk???" Then he looked a little closer and said, "Oh, my gosh, it's at our church!" Well, that did it for me. I was completely mortified. Here's the ad for it:

Choose Civility Symposium: Civility Begins with Me
May 14, 2008

Howard County Library invites you to a Choose Civility Symposium, featuring keynote speaker Joe Ehrmann. Former Baltimore Colts defensive lineman and co-founder of Building Men and Women for Others, Ehrmann will emphasize how empathy, integrity, and relationships are more important than anything else in life. Grace Community Church in Fulton, 8am to 12noon,

For real, "more important than anything else in life."?? I thought we believed there was one thing more important than anything else in life... and it wasn't choosing civility. I'm completely... well, you fill in the blank.


I have received several emails today about an interview tonight on Larry King Live. Amy Castillo, the mother whose three children were drowned by her estranged husband, will be on with the vice principal of the school I taught at, where two of her children attended. I don't know who the vice principal is - I didn't know they had one! I've heard that Dr. Phil will be on as well - I honestly don't know if that's true.

If you are interested, I do think it will be an amazing interview. From what I've seen and heard, Amy Castillo has a strong testimony and I believe that God will be glorified by what she says - at least I'm hoping. I cannot fathom the depth of her grief, which can take us places we never imagined. I am still so sad for her.

9:38: I watched it. I'm really amazed with Amy. Z. Wharton is the Middle School principal and his wife knows Amy through their children. When this story first broke, I remember feeling total agony for the mom, whoever she was, hoping she was not alone. To find out later that C was with her and she was surrounded by hundreds of friends (it's a huge network of people who were mobilized), it did help me feel like she would be well taken care of. An amazing interview that I'm sure will be on YouTube in no time flat!