Friday, June 29, 2007

guess I'll have to quit saying I never win anything

I can't believe it. I won two things in one day. That is so crazy because I never seem to win anything.

My new friend, LeahBelle gave me this Rockin' Girl Blogger Award. Thank you very much, my friend. She's heading to Colorado later this summer for some camping adventures and was a little worried about bears. I tried to put her fears to rest and told her she really had no reason in the world to worry, because I've lived here almost 4 years and have never seen a one. And then, like a day later, I see TWO bears! I'm sure she is completely at ease now and is really looking forward to sleeping in a tent! Just remember, friend, put all your food in the bear-proof storage containers at your campsite and you should be fine. But take your camera, just in case!

I read this blog almost every day, and I signed up for Barb's leftover-wedding-favor-recipe-cards giveaway, and would you believe I won that too! That Barb is a chef, let me tell you! She posts some of the most yummy recipes, complete with instructions and photos. I am beside myself with excitement! If you start reading her blog, I know you'll be hooked, and you just might win a fun prize someday just like me! And she's from Colorado too...what could be better than that?

Wow...maybe I should go buy some lottery tickets. I am on a winning streak.

Happy weekend.

Oh, you really should go over to John's blog and read what he wrote about our wedding anniversary. Very sweet. I love you, J!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Anniversary Box

On Saturday, John and I will celebrate 17 years of marriage. Seventeen years is a long time. I love him more every day and can't imagine my life without him. Some of our years together have been hard, but most have been very, very good. He's my best friend and the most amazing father in the world and he makes me laugh every single day. I am richly blessed.

Several years ago, I created The Anniversary Box for us.

It is basically a collection of objects that have special meaning to us. Every year, we add one or two items to this box, items that symbolize something about the past year. Here are a few objects from our box. You'll see the program from John's seminary graduation, the cum laude medal (thank you very much) from my college graduation, a rock (that symbolized a very "hard" year for us), a photo of the first house we ever bought, a Colorado postcard (for the year we moved out west), and other things that mean something near and dear to us. The years that our children were born were extra-special and some of their most cherished baby items are in the box as well. We make some time each year on our anniversary to take each object out and remember special things about our lives as a couple. It's a really great way to mark time and to reflect on the many ways God has blessed us.

And lest you think I'm some smart, crafty chick with loads of time on her hands, let me quickly assure you I AM NOT! I got this idea somewhere (a scrapbooking magazine, I think) and loved it, and intended to do this for a long time, but didn't actually put our Anniversary Box together until four years ago. I suggest starting much sooner than 13 years into your marriage because once I started having children, my brain cells started dying off, and remembering things was a little, um, challenging. To help us keep track of the years, I made a contents guide for our box that I just keep adding to every time we place a new item in it.

I'm a sentimental girl, and this box is full of so many great memories. I hope we can keep adding to it for a long, long time!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

a whole new meaning to Tex-Mex

We're all big fans of Mexican food around here. If you give my kids a choice of restaurants, 9 out of 10 times they'll choose 3Margaritas. Which I always pronounced "Three Margaritas" until my local friend told me it's actually "Tres Margaritas" so now we don't make that mistake any longer. As I was saying, we love Mexican food, and go out for it as often as our budget allows. So on our road trip last weekend, we spotted La Espanola II cafe in Dalhart, Texas, and being lunchtime and all, we considered stopping. We saw a trucker crossing the highway on foot to La Espanola II, and we were laughing that it MUST be a good place if someone will risk their life crossing the highway for lunch. That was the decisive factor, so we turned Minnie-the-van around and pulled in the very crowded parking lot. A good sign indeed.

This place was a dive folks. It was tiny and it was packed with lots of locals who all knew each other and kept coming over to for a quick hello, and "did you get any rain out at your place, Frank?" One lady came up to the couple seated nearby and gave 'em each a big hug and said, "Sugar, I'm Mary Francis Oates Burnby, and I've been knowing you since I was 5", or something like that. It was sweet and John and I were nostalgic for our days of small town livin'. We were most definitely the outsiders at Las Espanola II.

The waitress finally came with our Mason jars of iced tea and a big basket of tortilla chips and some salsa and took our order. And that's about the time things started going south for me. The chips were swimming in grease. Ugh, ugh, and ugh. The paper liner at the bottom of the basket had about 3/4 cup of oil in it and I just couldn't eat another one after I saw that. And the salsa. Ugh, again. I'm 99% certain it was Pace picante sauce which had been doctored up with a little extra onion. I haven't bought Pace in the last 10 years...why would I when there are soooooo many gourmet varieties out there? Let's just say I live for salsa. I'm a salsa snob. La Espanola II was off to a bad start.

And then we waited, and waited, and WAITED for our food. I still think we experienced some discrimination in Dalhart, TX because all the locals who came in after us got served before we did. John should've worn his Wranglers and cowboy boots, because I'm pretty sure the Patagonia and Tevas (and probably his ponytail) made us stick out like sore thumbs! We screamed NOT FROM AROUND HERE!

Finally our food arrived, and I was so looking forward to my chicken enchiladas. John too. We both took a bite and then another, and still couldn't figure out what exactly was so, um, unique about these enchiladas. Neither of us had tasted anything quite like this before. After two bites, I opened up my tortilla and would you believe it was stuffed with fried chicken tenders??? Only in Texas. Or in the South, cause you know they fry everything down there--which gives Tex-Mex a whole new meaning for me. Good lord, it was gross. Hands down the worst enchilada dinner I've ever been served. I struggled to even finish it.

Earlier we had marveled at how inexpensive their lunch menu was. We never find lunch specials for $5 where we live. And now we know why. We paid our bill and left, then stopped a few miles down the road for gas and an ice cream treat. I was so looking forward to some Blue Bell. After all, we were in TEXAS, and you know how proud they are of their Blue Bell. Again, disapointment. There was every variety of Blue BUNNY you could imagine, but no Blue Bell in sight. I'll be forever grateful to that bunny though for getting the taste of La Espanola out of my system!

Moral of the story: If you ever find yourself passing through Dalhart, TX and are tempted to try the local mexican dive, keep on driving. There's a DQ down the street that looks rather inviting.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

would you be jealous...

...if I told you it was 66 degrees right now, and I'm wearing a long-sleeved tee and I'm still cold?

It was 90 degrees at this time yesterday and more of that is in our future, so I'm happy to grab my fleece for now, and perhaps even a latte!

from the archives

I'm coming up blank today. I can't think of anything exciting or random to post about. Imagine that...Mer is blank. My husband might want to mark this historical moment.

So here is a post I wrote last summer...about this same time last year. I didn't end up posting it then for whatever reason, but I'll share it with you today.

I usually try to keep my posts on this blog light-hearted and upbeat. But not today. I think I'll pull back the curtain a little bit and let you all in on some of the weightier stuff that is going on with me...bear with has a good ending.

Almost three months ago I started doing some counseling. I've never tried anything like this before and the process is still unfolding for me, but I came to a breaking point and knew that I needed to give some serious attention to some things that have taken place in the recent past in regard to church and ministry and some relationships within those contexts. It's a good but hard process. I have a great counselor walking me through all of this. She goes to our church and is actually the reason that we even landed at IAC in the first place. All that to say that God is at work in all of this and has been slowly, but tenderly binding some of my wounds. And I'm grateful.

At my last session, I was sharing some things about our house. Did you know that we didn't even see this house before we bought it? Our friends checked it out and chose it for us. Our offer was contingent upon our approval, but we bought it sight unseen, trusting the taste and judgement of our friends. Interesting, huh? Our relationship with those friends is pretty damaged right now and that fact, coupled with a host of other things has made this house a hard place for me to abide. I'm grateful for our house...I really, really am, but there are aspects of it that I don't like at all and that don't allow me to fully use my gift of hospitality. And there have been words spoken over our home and over our family that have been extremely hurtful and full of pain. Heavy stuff. Being a stay home mom, most of my time is home! So I think it's fair to say that some days are really hard for me in this place.

My counselor listened to me relay all of this stuff and was as grieved as I was about it. After spending some time praying together, she suggested we have a ceremony of sorts to kinda "reclaim" our home...or to redeem some of the bad. I came home and shared that with John and he agreed that it was a fantastic idea. Thankfully, he planned it all out; I don't think I had the strength to do it. Last night after we put the kids to bed, we put on fleece and flip-flops and went outside in the back yard. We prayed, inviting Jesus into our time, then John read some scripture that put words to the place we currently find ourselves, then we prayed some more and proceeded to burn (in our gas grill) all of the things that symbolized the memories that have held us captive. It's more than ironic that some of items were slow to burn; we had to turn the gas up before they really caught fire (that devil is a persistent fellow). Then (and this was my favorite part!) John dug a hole and over it placed a ceramic plate that was given to me...along with a hearty dose of contempt...and he handed me the hammer which I used to smash the plate to smithereens. It felt so good. Smashing the lies, smashing the hurt, and smashing the agreements we've made with the words/lies spoken over us and our home. It was beautiful and freeing and good. And then we buried the pieces and plopped down in our camping chairs to enjoy the clear, cool PEACE. Next week we're going to be able to get away for an overnight--just the two of us, and part of our mission is to come home with a new plate to replace the one we smashed...something to represent the new and different and peacefulness we both now feel.

I woke up this morning thankful. Thankful for our home, for our family, for redemption, and for John. He hasn't had the same feelings about our home as I have, but he was willing to "fight" for me in this...and he did a beautiful job.

So there you have it. I much prefer the lighter, happier version of our lives, but the truth is it's a mixed bag. All working together for good. I'll end on a light note though. As we were outside burning, and digging, smashing, and burying, I realized that if our neighbors happened to be watching us at any moment, we'd probably appear to be a pair of criminals getting rid of some serious evidence. The police haven't come knocking, so I think we're okay for now!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Because I have nothing else to do today....

Here are some pictures from a hike we took yesterday. It's the same hike we did on Mother's Day, only we made it up to the second reservoir this time. It was so worth it too! John has an altimeter on his watch, which comes in handy when you live in Colorado. The difference from reservoir to the trailhead is about 600 feet. A nice little hike! So, these pictures and the one in the post below, were taken at about 7800 feet.


No kidding! I saw a bear on Friday. We took a little road trip this weekend. We were driving through a particularly beautiful stretch of Colorado, near the New Mexico border, and I was lost in the beauty of it until John started pointing and yelling for us to look. And about 50 feet away was a small, cinnamon colored bear meandering along the railroad tracks beside us. My heart almost stopped--but not because of fear.

I've lived here for almost 4 years now and have never seen a bear, though I've desperately wanted to. I've seen evidence of bears. Everything from overturned dumpsters and trash cans, bear scat, and bear-proof (often Mer-proof) trashcans in local parks, but until last Friday, I've never seen a bear.

I've been asking God to show me one for awhile now. Not in a "God, IF you love me, you'll let me see a bear" way, but more in a way that says, "God, I know that my heart matters to you, and I would so love to see a bear".

Seeing that bear on Friday was a gift. My tears fell freely for I knew that in seeing that bear, God saw me. And you know what? We saw another bear on the return almost the exact same spot. Isn't God good??

Life at 7000 feet

John came up with this title for me...and I like it! I think it fits me well. So...stay tuned for more posts about high-altitude livin'.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

help me out

I just changed my blog title. I decided not long ago that it wasn't very wise to have my last name as part of it, so I dropped that, but I felt it was still lacking. So I changed it again. And I'm still not satisfied. So will you guys help me out?? I'd love some suggestions. If you don't wanna post in the comments section, email me. Here are some I'm pondering (but am open to any more you'd like to suggest!)...Mer's Musings, Mer in the Mountains, Momma Mer, Mountain Momma, Musings of a Mountain Mama. That alliteration is terribly clever, huh? I think I'll go ask the creative writer guy in my house what he thinks. He's titled a good deal of books lately, surely he can help his wife out with her obession blog.


Well, I posted a version of this earlier, and then deleted it...but I've gotta re-post because of a conversation John and I just had on the way to pick up Minnie-the-van.

On Monday, John had lunch with a friend of ours. S and his wife, G, are actually new friends, but they're so warm and hospitable (they're southerners!), it feels like we've known them forever. John is S's editor on a book he's writing, and that's how the relationship got started, but they've spent quite a bit of time together lately because of the book project. I kinda think that God has more in mind for us than just a "work" relationship though. You see, our last ministry experience was extremely painful, and both of us left that church deeply wounded. S's last ministry experience bears an uncanny resemblance to ours. Almost every time that John and S get together, John comes home telling me stories from S. If you changed the names and places, those stories could be ours. It's THAT similar. And both of us have realized what a gift this couple is to our lives. They're a few steps ahead of us in their recovery process, yet they have tremendous wisdom to offer. And encouragement. And understanding. All of that means so much more coming from a person who really understands what you're going through. So, today I'm extremely thankful for their presence in our lives, and for the gift they are to both of us.

As we were driving to pick up Minnie, John was telling me about his meeting with S this morning. During their pre-meeting chit-chat John learned that S and G are taking a road trip later this summer with some of their best friends. As he was telling John about this couple, John starts realizing that he KNOWS their best friends...they're from Arkansas...from the small town we used to live in. John said he and S were both standing there with their mouths hanging open. And rightly so, because John and S have so much overlap and similarities in their stories that it's just plain weird. It's enough though to solidify for me that we're supposed to be friends with this sweet couple. I'm curious to see what God has in store for all of us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

a couple of things...

John and I started watching a new television show on dvd last night. It's really not a new show, but it's new to us. Gilmore Girls. We're loving it. And watching a series on dvd is so much better than trying to keep up with it from week to week. We were going to go to a bluegrass concert at one of our local parks tonight, but we've had a full day and just can't get motivated. John suggested staying home and watching more Gilmore Girls...and so that's the plan! And I have 2 more dvds on the way from Woohoo!

Minnie-the-van is in the shop this week. She needed new brakes and a tune-up. Turns out her shocks and struts need attention too, but that'll have to wait until our checkbook recovers from her brake work. Sheesh...she's a high maintenance gal!

By the way, I read in readers digest that folks who name their vehicles are more prone to road rage. Apparently, naming your vehicle gives you an excuse to blame bad driving on your car. It was Minnie's fault! I guess you better back off if you meet me on the road.

I was really trying hard to make it to July without turning on our air conditioner, but I'm throwing in the towel. It is HOT here. 87 today. I know that seems cool to our friends sufferin' in the deep south, but it's hot for us. We're just thankful we have central air. We don't know many folks who do! Shocking, I know.

Lastly, let me share with you an email I got from J today. These are his words to me: "M--This'll make you fume, but go ahead and read it. -J" Click here to read it. He knows me is shocking indeed!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Text alone is just too boring for me!

How about some photos?

Sarah is my little domestic goddess these days. She begs me to teach her how to do laundry and mop the floor and wash dishes and cook. I happily oblige her, but not with pure motives. I dream of the day that I can pass the torch mop to her permanently. She's learned how to sort the laundry this summer and though all my kiddos help me fold and put away, Sarah is the cheerful and stick-with-it kid. Every Monday when I let them choose their chores for the week, Sarah chooses "before dinner duty" and "after dinner duty" and that girl is becoming a whiz at meal prep and loading the dishwasher. I couldn't be more proud of her. So yesterday she kept asking if she could cook something. And of course I said yes. She perused her American Girl cookbook and decided she wanted to make deviled eggs. So we made 'em and they were most delicious. She and Will ate 10 eggs between them and her big brother gave her some high praise. He even told her they were better than Mimi's deviled eggs. Let me tell you that girl of mine was beaming! I wonder what she'll want to cook for us today.

Oh I so totally enjoyed myself last night at Supper Solutions. I came home with my meals and had to work to rearrange and stuff them into the freezer. I don't think my freezer has ever been so full! It's a lovely thing really. See for yourself!

And just for fun, check out my cute new summer purse. I was hesitant about the orange, but now I'm glad I chose this one. Black is so overrated.

Okay, and one more from the last day of VBS...I tried to get a good one with Pikes Peak in the background, but it was kinda hazy. You can still see it through the clouds if you try!

One morning back in April, while my three were still enrolled in school/preschool and time alone was a reality, I came home and parked in front of the mac for about three hours, surfing the web. I had read some article in TIME about pastor's wives (which I didn't really care for, and still don't know why all that pastor's wife stuff still interests me!) and there were some links to a couple of pastor's wives' websites. And as I surfed, I discovered some pastor's wives' blogs. And on their blogs, there were links to more blogs, and on those blogs, there were links to even more blogs (and not all are minister's wives!). So being free that day to click to my heart's delight, I kept chasing those blog trails. And I found a few that I love to read regularly. And those girls have given their permission for me to share them with you. There is something truly fascinating about other people's lives, huh? So when you need to laugh (and you will laugh, believe me) you can check out Big Mama and Boomama and In the Midst of It. There are links in my sidebar too...and hopefully more to come!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday musings

I just don't think I'll ever be fond of Monday mornings. After spending the entire weekend together as a family, it just seems so wrong on Mondays for John to have to leave us. I know he has to work so we can eat and all, but we're all bluer than blue around here this morning.

We did have a great weekend though. Very relaxing--the way weekends are supposed to be. John preached yesterday at our church, and Will asked why he had to "work" on Father's Day. Preaching isn't really work to J. He enjoys it and he usually says yes whenever he is asked. He did a wonderful job. I just checked and didn't see his sermon posted on our church website. I don't know if it even got recorded this time. The guy who does all of that (aka our pastor) is still on vacation. I'll let you know if/when it's available. Anyway, our friend, K, drove down to go to church with us, and then we took John out for some Mexican food. He even got to take an afternoon nap, and I think he'd tell you he had a very good day.

John and I took the kids to see Nancy Drew on Friday afternoon. It was great! The chase scene at the end was a little intense for the girls, but other than that it was very clean and that Nancy Drew in her knee socks and penny loafers is just a great role model for young girls. She's quite the techy detective too with her ipod, ibook, and google searches. Definitely not the Nancy Drew I grew up with! Even Focus on the Family gave it a fairly positive review...and that may be a small miracle in itself. It's fair to say that I'm not the biggest fan of Jim Dobson. But again, that's another story for another post. How easily I digress.

Tonight I am going to a place called Supper Solutions and I am so very excited about it. It is one of those meal prep places where you pre-select entrees from a monthly menu, go to Supper Solutions and assemble your entrees (ingredients are already prepped for you!) in freezer containers, then take home and freeze. After tonight, I'll have 13 gourmet meals in the freezer that I can thaw, cook, and enjoy savor. It's a little pricey, but I think is so totally worth it. Here is a sampling of some of the meals I'm making tonight (be prepared to salivate): Black 'n Bleu Burgers, Santa Fe Steak Tortillas, Four Cheese Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Calzones, Mojo Cuban Pork, Mango Curry Chicken, and that is only 6 of my deliciously enticing 13. I am so excited. I already told John I need to find a way to fit this into our monthly grocery budget.

Oh, and I should probably mention that the circus is in town this week. Yesterday as we were driving to church, we saw the circus train. Did you know there really was such a thing? Will thought that was just part of his beloved, and long outgrown, Thomas the Train set, but yes indeed there is really a circus train. We had to go under the railroad bridge and the Ringling Bros cars were right over our heads. The kids loved it and ooohed and ahhed over it and asked nicely begged to go that very afternoon. Not 3 seconds later, Abbey said, "By the way, what is the circus anyway?" I was tempted to explain that we live in a circus everyday, but figured that'd be lost on her. Her brother and sister jumped in and explained it all for me. And we decided that since it was Father's Day and all, we'd respect our father and not make him sit through hours of amusing antics and amazing feats. He sees enough of that at home!

Friday, June 15, 2007

I'd hate to disappoint you...

and not post anything today, since I've managed to post something every single day this week.

I keep forgetting to mention that John is preaching at our church on Sunday. I think he preached last year on Father's Day too. Anyway, I'm looking forward to it. He's my favorite preacher.

John called me with a bit of good news one morning this week too. He got a raise. Nice, huh? We can certainly put it to good use. We've been having lunch with J every day this week since I've had to drive to his office to pick the kids up from VBS each day. Let me tell you he has the most beautiful view of Pikes Peak from his office. So far it's the best I've seen in the city. I keep forgetting to take my camera to take a picture for ya.

And for those of you worried about John this week after my post on Monday, just know that I get over my anger pretty quickly and don't hold a grudge. (Personal note to RM: I called J after I posted and told him he could expect to hear from you soon. I'm glad he has you to take up for him and to teach him how to make french toast. I'll be expecting miraculous things when he returns from Santa Fe.)

I finished reading Left to Tell last night. I started it yesterday afternoon and I seriously could NOT put it down until I'd finished. It was a beautiful story of a young woman who survived the Rwandan genocide by hiding in a bathroom for three months with up to 7 other women. It reminded me a little of Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Frank, but this woman's faith was so real and honest and tender and beautiful. The horrors of the genocide which she describes made me weep. It is incredible to me that such atrocities took place less than 15 years ago. It is frightening to me to think that this was happening and the rest of the world was doing nothing.

The church we attend has ties to Rwanda. The bishop whose leadership umbrella we fall under is in Rwanda. Our denomination is AMiA, Anglican Mission in America, and our church is actually a mission plant of Rwanda. Somewhere in my archives there's a post I wrote about AMiA, but you'll have to search...I'm in a hurry this morning. And so this book was particularly informational for me. I think I mentioned that there is a group of 18 going over there this summer. My heart is so stirred by Africa these days. I'm not sure what to think/do about that since I've never felt anything like this before. So I'm just praying and trying to be attentive to what God might be trying to show me. And reading everything I can get my hands on.

Happy Friday!!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

One is silver and the other gold

Years and years ago when I was a Brownie scout, I learned this sweet song:

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.

I've taught it to my kids too, and I find myself singing it to them from time to time.

Anyway, it's been on my mind again this week. Yesterday afternoon I was driving Sarah and her friend home from their book club. They've been going to an American Girl doll book club together since January and it is just the cutest little group of girls you've ever seen. So I'm watching them in my rear-view mirror and they're back there talking and laughing and giggling and whispering together and my heart just welled up with gratitude for this friend that God has given to Sarah. Sarah had some sweet, sweet friends back in Arkansas, but she's the one who's probably struggled the most since we've lived here to find that one good friend. Our prayers were more than answered when this friend's family joined our church almost a year ago.

What makes this friend of Sarah's even better is that she has a sister Abbey's age. And this sister is Abbey's dear friend. She's got red hair like Abbey (though she prefers us to call it copper instead of red) and they are so sweet together that you just wanna eat them up! I am so thankful.

And even better than sisters being friends with sisters is that our families are friends. Both of our families have lots in common and we just love getting together with them. John and S have been running together some on Saturday mornings, and I had coffee with the mom last night. They're from the South and would you believe that they even have a connection to the small town where John's parents live in Arkansas? So crazy how we figured that one out!!

Back in November, Will's best buddy moved to Kentucky. Will was pretty sad for awhile, and we prayed like crazy for a good friend for him. And again, God abundantly answered that for us. He befriended a great kid who was new this year, and let me tell ya, those two are thick. I had the same experience watching them last week as I did yesterday in the van watching Sarah and her friend. Overwhelmed with gratitude. And I love this kid's mom too! She's a University of Arkansas alum and I'm trying to talk her into going to a ball game in Fayetteville with me this fall. I think it'd be fun to take our boys too. She's thinking about it but I think she wants to go as much as I do! All these Arkansas connections!

Friends are such a rich part of our lives and we're extremely grateful for the ones that God has given us. It really is a blessing...especially since we live so far from our families. I'm thankful that each of my children has at least one good friend and while I pray they'll contine to make new friends, these relationships are golden.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another post about Vacation Bible School...the last one, I promise!

Day 3 of VBS has come and gone. And it was a good one. Sarah is loving it and Will is tolerating it. And I keep remembering my past VBS experiences.

I remember attending VBS one summer at my grandmother's Methodist church. It was only a few blocks from my house, so we walked there each morning. One morning I arrived late and had to sneak into the opening rally. This girl named Sarah said in a snotty voice loud enough for all to hear, "Well here comes M dragging in late." Ouch! And though that girl would eventually become a good friend of mine, her words were scarring. See...30 some odd years later, and I still have 'em in my head. But my parents will tell you that I was never again late after that. I got my own alarm clock and would set it each morning (in grade school) and get up before anyone else in my house and get completely ready. I set that alarm every day until I had children and they became my alarm clock. I still can't stand being late even today. My kids have been tardy ONCE in their entire lives for school and that was only because I got stopped by a policeman on the way. And that is an entirely different story for another day. Remind me to tell you that one--it's good.

That is really the only memory I have of attending Bible school. I can, however, recall plenty of VBSs where I worked my butt off. That's the fun part of being a pastor's wife. Fun actually might not be the best word. Torture seems more appropriate. I just don't enjoy it the way some people do. I figure I've got about 20 years of torture under my belt.

One year really stands out among the others. It was the year that I was pregnant with Will, but didn't know it yet. I was sick as a dog the entire week and it never occurred to me that there might be a good reason that I felt like puking 24 hours a day. I perservered through that week but it wasn't pretty. One day I'd had it with this other worker and I gave her a piece of my mind in the bathroom. I was yelling at her and she was crying and for the life of me, I can't remember why. As the wife of her pastor, I'm sure I left quite an impression on her. Let's just say I've had prouder moments. I think she figured it out shortly after that that my hormone levels were wreaking havoc on my senses and she graciously forgave me when I asked, but that is one of the most hideous VBS memories I have.

And then there is the year that we lived in a tiny town in south Arkansas and we invited all the black kids in town. That caused quite a stir. The kids couldn't believe we were inviting them into our church, and some of our members couldn't believe it either. We stood our ground and it eventually blew over, but my eyes were really opened to racial predjudice in the south. Not a pretty thing.

If there's a job to be done at bible school, you can bet that I've done it. I have some good memories. And some not-so-good ones too. I'm hoping that my kids just enjoy the rest of the week. I'm loving that they're learning and making friends and having fun. And singing new songs and making cute crafts. And just being kids!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Something easy we can all do

I have a canvas shopping bag that I use when I shop at the health food store. Make fun of me if you wish, but I think it is the wisest of ideas. I'm one of those people who would probably take my own mug to Starbucks to save a paper cup, but I can't ever seem to remember to bring it with me.

Recently, I've aquired 2 of these shopping bags. I paid .99 for one and one was free with my purchase at my health food store. Every time I use my bags there, they will donate .05 to Habitat for Humanity. Isn't that cool? Anyway, it is the most versatile bag ever. I stuffed our towels in in last week for swimming lessons and packed our lunch in it today. It's the perfect size and is very lightweight, and you can't believe how many items from the store I can get in it. I love it. I've been trying to remember to put it in my car when it's empty...that way I always have it with me. Duh.

It's such a simple thing that we all can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle. And even if you don't have one of these savvy bags, you can still take your own bags to the grocery store, or your own cup to Starbucks. It's the small things, people!

Momma, what is Bible school?

We were driving to pick up her brother and sister from Vacation Bible School yesterday and Abbey asked this question: "Momma, what is Bible school?"

Okay...that was a little bit of a wake-up call. I know she's only five, and it's probably more indicative of our denominational shift, but I don't doubt that if we were still living in the Southern Bible Belt, that question would not even be voiced because the kid would have several VBS experiences under her 5-year-old-belt. John and I were talking about that over dinner (and I did in fact cook dinner last night, thank you very much) and it has been several years since W and S have attended one. Like 4 summers ago in Arkansas. They're loving this week and came home singin' a lot of new songs, complete with hand motions. Sarah especially just eats that stuff up.

John and I took our own little trip down memory lane and sang from memory ALL the VBS theme songs we could think of (and it was a LOT) from our years in ministry. That Lifeway gang just drills it in ya. Our favorites?? The Good News Stampede and Amazon Outfitters (on expedition with the One True God...are you singing along with me now?)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Real Simple

Have you ever read Real Simple magazine? It is one of my favorites. I love the recipes, the comparisons and all the nifty tips it offers. Love it. And a few weeks ago, I actually caught one of the Real Simple episodes on PBS. A blessed day indeed. Though I love the magazine, I don't love clutter, so two weeks ago, I threw 4 years worth of the magazine away.

Of the 587 nifty tips in the stacks I threw away, I've managed to remember 2 and they're worth passing along today.

For those of you lucky enough to own a CHI flat iron, please know that it comes in very handy when the hem of your capris is wrinkled beyond belief. Works great on hair ribbons and collars too. And if you have some of those cute cargo pants with the ties at the bottom that somehow always manage to get twisted up in the dryer...pull out that CHI and put it to work. Simply amazing.

And remember this for your next birthday party when you're serving cake and ice cream to a crowd. Before the party, line your muffin tin with paper or foil cups and scoop ice cream into them. Put your muffin tin in the freezer and when it's time to serve, just plop the paper cup of ice cream down on the cake plate. I'm telling you this because I was at a birthday party on Saturday watching two parents struggle to serve cake and ice cream to about 15 kids....and they were both a dripping mess by the time it was all said and done.

I guess I must've read somewhere that rubbing alcohol will remove blue sharpie from skin because as we were walking out the door for our picnic today, Abbey showed me her foot that she "accidentally" colored blue. With. a. permanent. marker. Or maybe it just came off easily because it was freshly colored. Either way, the alcohol took it off (or most of it anyway) and if you have any tips on how to keep your kiddos from painting themselves with permanent marker, I'd love for you to pass 'em my way.

Bits of Randomness

My idea of a perfect day is staying at home. Days like that are rare around here. There's always some type of running around to be done. And though summer is drastically slower than the school year, I'm still running more than I care to. Last week swim lessons had me on the go, this week it is VBS. Remember last year when I couldn't find a free VBS for my kids? And I just couldn't (and wouldn't) cough up the $20 per child cost to send them? Well, let me tell you that working for a publishing company has it's perks. Especially if that publishing company is known for their Sunday school and Bible school curriculum. This week, Will and Sarah are going to work with their dad and attending an on-site Vacation Bible School (free, of course!). They're actually testing next year's VBS curriculum and I guess that makes W and S the guinea pigs. Should be fun. Abbey and I are going to pack a picnic and meet them there afterwards for lunch. And we'll probably do that just about every day this week. So for this week anyway, I'm back to living my life in 3 hour increments.

Yesterday afternoon I had to make a grocery run. I wanted to go without kids and since Saturday was consumed with birthday parties and other kid-centric activities, grocery shopping was bumped to Sunday afternoon. And Sunday was already a full day. Went to church, had a picnic at the park with friends, spent some time checking out the house our friends are renovating to "flip" and then arrived home about 3pm. I had already made my grocery list, but I flipped through the Sunday coupons and clipped some I'd use, then quickly cleaned out the fridge to make room for what I planned to bring home. As I was cleaning out the fridge, I discovered some leftovers I thought would be perfect for the kids for dinner. And I mentioned to John the endless options he had for feeding the kids. Because when I go to the store alone I like to take my time and it can easily be a 2-hour trip. He sent me off saying I should take my time...enjoy being alone (albeit at the grocery store!) and not to worry about dinner. So that being said, I didn't feel guilty when I talked for 20 minutes to a friend I ran into. And I wasn't guilty when I saw another friend and talked for 20 minutes more. But I felt very guilty (and pretty mad too) when my cell phone rang and it was John wanting to know how "close" I was to being finished because the kids were hungry. They wanted french toast, which he is completely clueless about how to make, and he wanted to know my status to see if he could hold them off until I could get home to make it. Arghhhh. Two hours ago, the man was telling me to take my time and he'd take care of things at home...but this phone call felt like a summons. So, I finished up my shopping and headed home. Lugged the stuff inside (okay, J actually brought most of it inside) and put it away (a chore in itself) and immediately, again immediately, started cooking dinner. And was verra, verra mad about it. You better believe they're all having leftovers tonight. And if I hear any complaints, I just might go on strike.

While shopping yesterday, before the "phone call", while leisure was still an option, I perused the self-tanning aisle for the umpteenth time since March and finally put the Neutrogena spray in my cart. I've used Neutrogena for a long time now, but the bottle I've been using the last three summers will spray no more. I liked the pump spray, but now it's a fine mist spray and after using it last night, I think I'm in trouble. Streaky trouble that is. Yuck. I've been hoping since like April that I could just get outside and get my tan the natural way. At our altitude it doesn't take long. But it's either too cold, or the wind is gusting at 70mph (seriously), or it's cloudy, or my kids have urgent needs every two minutes and call me back inside. And it's just not the same quiet backyard anymore now that the single guy-next-door-who-worked-all-day-every-day-and-was-never-home doesn't live there. We're glad a nice family has moved in, but good lord, I never realized just how quiet our former neighbor was. And I'm pretty sure my mouth hit the floor when I heard our new neighbors want to get some they could have fresh eggs, ya know. I'm thinking this whole neighborhood thing is overrated.

Like I said in the title...bits of randomness. More than you care to know I'm sure.

On a serious note, I counted this moring and we know 32 people who are going to Africa this summer. Thirty-two is a lot. Three are going to Ethiopa to minister to women with fistula. 11 friends are currently in Swaziland. They are actually two families that we know from church and I've been keeping up with their experiences on Tom's blog. If you get a chance, watch some of the video. It's very cool. And I cry every time I watch it. Next month, our church is taking 18 people to Rwanda. One guy from our small group is going and honestly, I am very jealous that I am not to be a part of this trip. While reading The Poisonwood Bible a few weeks ago, I fell in love with that land and the people of that land. That may sound silly, but it's true. I can't fully explain my fascination with Africa but right now it feels intense. So next up on my reading list are two books about Africa. One is called Left to Tell written by a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. The other is Cry-The Beloved Country. The first is non-fiction (I'm told it's compelling enough to keep the pages turning) and the other is fiction. So, I'm off to put them on hold at the public library.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The kids are doing some swim lessons this week. A guy we go to church with is a collegiate swim coach and I casually asked him one day if he'd be interested in giving some private lessons. He called Sunday afternoon saying he had some time this week so we decided to give it a go. Yesterday was lesson #1. Will is a fish, Sarah is so very tentative, and Abbey did very well considering she's never had a single lesson. It was an indoor pool and though heated, it was still a bit cool. The girls lips were kinda blue when they got out of the water. They got a warm shower and changed into dry clothes and asked me if they could go to Sonic for a slush. Coming from their lips of blue, I couldn't say yes to their request, so we agreed on Starbucks instead. I'm such the indulgent mother.

So I finished reading Plainsong by Kent Haruf. It is one of John's favorite books and he didn't steer me wrong. I loved it. Now I'm reading A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. It's great as well. It's an autobiography of a girl growing up in a very small town in Indiana. A true story and it's very humorous. The girl can write too! So, if you're searching for a summer read, I recommend it! My kids are plowing through the books as well. I couldn't resist snapping this picture this morning. It's not an uncommon sight around here.

Oooh, I bought a new toy this weekend from my sweet friend, "S". She sold me her Trail-a-Bike. It's a contraption that hooks onto my bicycle that allows my 5-year old to pedal along behind me. It looks like a regular bike with handle bars, and pedals, but only has a back wheel. Abbey loves it. Now we can all ride bikes together this summer, without the whole training wheels hassle. We've taken it out for a couple of rides and let me just tell you it might be the death of me. Going uphill with Abbey in tow makes my quads feel like they are on FIRE! I normally love to tackle the hills because I think it gives my workout a boost, but the other night I was zigzaging all over the place trying like mad to avoid any incline. Should be an interesting summer. I just might end up the poster child for quads of steel.

Monday, June 04, 2007

For your reading pleasure

You asked for got it. John's blog. Click here or on the link on the right sidebar.


I keep forgetting to post this. I started a new blog. A recipe blog. I've decided that though I don't really *love* to cook, I do in fact have a lot of good recipes and this is actually my way of keeping them preserved permanently. And a good way to share them too. So, if you're interested, check it out. There's a link in the right side-bar.

Also, I'm officially claiming this as MY blog and kicking John off. He never posts much anyway, so he won't mind. My techy friend said she'd help me try to customize my blog a little more this stay tuned.

Meet the Freak

I am a freak. No question about it. I got to thinking about it yesterday while we were enjoying a picnic lunch at the park. In the summer, we love to pack our lunch on Sundays and head to the park after church. So after we finished eating, the kids were playing and John and I were sitting on our quilt watching them play and soaking up the sun, and he offered me the very last strawberry. I love strawberries. They're my favorite fruit. And this particular batch of strawberries was exceptionally delicious. But I told him, no thanks, he could eat it. I have this weird thing about eating fruit on top of other things. He looked at me like I was an alien instead of the woman he's been married to for almost 17 years. And not knowing what else to say, I reminded him that I'm a freak sometimes. His head slowly nodded up and down while he started grinning slowly. Good thing he's not freaked out by me. Anyway, that got me to thinking about my freakishness, and so I thought I'd just come clean and share it with you guys. Here are 5 freaky things about me.

1. I only eat fruit on an empty stomach. The one exception might be dessert. Like peach cobbler or strawberry shortcake. But I never eat just plain fruit as my dessert. Just can't do it.

2. I suffer from a severe phobia of germs. I wash my hands dozens of times each day. I disinfect my kitchen sink and countertops daily. I don't use sponges and I run my dish-scrubbers through the dishwasher every day. Hotel rooms scare me too. I wear flip-flops in the bathroom/shower and my slippers in the room and I keep my toothbrush standing upright in one of the glasses by the sink. My kids have never seen the play area at the mall (we take creative shortcuts) because I'm deathly afraid of the germs lurking there. I wipe down the shopping carts at the grocery store, and thank goodness more stores are providing antibacterial wipes these days. I won't flush my toilet without the lid down AND my toothbrush put away inside the medicine cabinet. Public restrooms are another nightmare altogether. Am I scaring you yet?

3. I drink out of the same cup every day. If I forget to run it through the dishwasher, I'll wash it rather than use another one. It's a purple MOPS cup that I've had probably 5 years. It was a gift to me for serving on the MOPS steering committee. I like it because it is insulated and it has a handle. I need a cup with a handle (especially in the winter) because I don't like touching a cold glass/cup to drink a cold beverage. See, I told you I'm a freak.

4. I clean my kids' ears out with Q-tips almost daily. Two of my kids have the grossest, brownest ear wax you've ever seen. It accumulates on the outside of their ear canals and I just can't stand looking at it. So I clean it. I'll see one of them and say, "Honey, go get mommy 2 Q-tips, and they come back and stand there obediently while I clean 'em up. But they like me to "wik it first, mommy" which means they want me to moisten the Q-tip. By licking it. I've been doing this for so long that one of my kid couldn't pronounce the "L" sound, replacing it with a "W" instead, and we've just sorta kept on saying that with the ear/Q-tip thing. So I "wik" it first, then go to town cleaning.

5. This one is probably what most people would say qualifies my freakishness. I DO NOT LIKE CHOCOLATE. Not at all. Even the smell makes my stomach turn. Most people simply can't understand this. I'm not sure I do either. At one point in my life I liked it. I remember going to the corner grocery store and buying Marathon bars--the foot-long, rope-shaped candy bar with caramel inside. I remember making Hershey kiss trees at Christmas with my grandmother and gorging myself on stolen kisses. And breaking Kit-Kat bars in half to share with my sister. But somewhere along the way I stopped liking it. I'll eat Oreos from time to time and just last week I had a Klondike bar, but for some reason that doesn't really have the same chocolate taste as say a Hershey bar. White chocolate is a different story for me though. I do like that. I don't really crave it the way chocolate lovers crave chocolate, but I don't usually turn it down either. The best creation? White chocolate Reeses' Peanut Butter cups. They are delicious!!!

Friday, June 01, 2007

I love Rock 'n Roll, and Reading

Yesterday John bribed our children with $$ to clean up their playroom in the basement. All the begging and pleading, and asking nicely with "pretty please and sugar on top" won't budge our children, but put some money on the table and they're moving like their britches are on fire. So while they were hard at work yesterday, I was sitting at the computer blogging about the wonders of dawn dish detergent. And I hear them singing. That is some great entertainment, let me tell ya! Will listens to the oldies station on the clock/radio/cd contraption in his room every night while he's falling asleep. He loves the oldies. Absolutely loves them. I thought oldies were songs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, but apparently, oldies are songs from the 80s and 90s. When did the songs I grew up listening to become "oldies"? Anyway, they're singing "I Love Rock 'n Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, only instead of asking to put another dime in the jukebox, baby, they're asking for that dime in the JUICE BOX. Hilarious.

Moving on...

We are a family of readers. All of us love to read. Abbey can't actually read, but she loves to be read to and there are four of us who indulge her on a daily basis. I'm actually thinking of teacher her to read this summer. She's seems ready and eager, so I put an instructional book on hold at the library and as soon as it's available, we're going to dig in. Wish me luck.

Last night I finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It was fantastic. It's been on my "want to read" list for ages and I finally got around to it. I'd highly recommend it. The story follows the Price family from Bethlehem, Georgia into the Belgian Congo of Africa where they are missionaries to the Congolese people. It's the story of things lost, and found during their years in Africa and beyond. I absolutely loved it and am sad that I waited so many years before reading it. It will definitely find a place in my top 5 favorite books of all time. My current favorite of all-time is Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger. If you haven't read it, please, please do. It is a beautiful story and the writing is superb. As with The Poisonwood Bible, I cried when I finished reading it. Not because the ending was sad, but because I just hated for such a good read to come to an end.

I have a bajillion books I'm want to read this summer, but next up are: Plainsong by Kent Haruf and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. As soon as I get my "chores" finished up this morning, I'm going to crack open the cover and dive into one of the two above.

Happy Friday to you!