Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My New Neurosis

I thought I was down to 2 neuroses:
  1. My irrational fear of squirrels, and
  2. My need for all sheets, blankets, comforters, and duvet covers to be arranged perfectly flat and square on the bed whenever I am in it. (However, the bed can be messy and unmade throughout the day, when I am NOT in it.)

But today I have adopted a new one. Or realized one that already existed, I am not sure which.

I went down to the women's bathroom at work today, and was suddenly aware of my strong preference for the third stall. I began to analyze this affinity, and determined that the third stall door opens out (towards the sinks), while the rest of the doors open in (towards the toilet).

I don't like being in a stall where the door opens in towards the toilet. Is that weird?

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Mom

I published my first piece of writing when I was eight. At my father's urging, I had entered a Mother's Day poetry contest that was put on by the San Antonio, TX newspaper. I won an honorable mention and two tickets to see the Black Stallion movie for the poem the I wrote about my mother.

But I am certain it wasn't the lyric and beauty of my prose that won the award; rather, the lyric and beauty of the woman who is my mom. She is, indeed, a rare gem.

If you don't look carefully, you might miss her. She does her best to hide behind the husband she adores, never seeking the spotlight for herself. She is quiet in crowds, humble beyond measure, and completely unaware of her own brilliance.

I have only recently learned how unusual it was to have had a mother who did not seek to mold me into her own image of who she wanted me to be. Instead, she thanked God for how He made me, and did her best to help me to become everything that HE wanted me to be. And then she cheered me on in the process.

She and I are about as different as two people could be. She likes to gather and save things. I like to get rid of things. She likes to be in the background. I like to be in the spotlight. She likes bright colors and busy patterns. I like dark colors and simplicity. She reads mysteries. I read everything but mysteries. She studied nursing. I faint at the sight of blood. She likes background noise. I like silence. She had five girls. I have two boys. Her house is cluttered, but sterilized within an inch of it's life. My house is neat, but probably more germ infested than I would care to know. Her heart is beautiful, but her words are clumsy. My words are beautiful, but my heart is clumsy.

And yet, there is one thing I most definitely inherited from my mother...whether through nature or nurture: We are both transparent. Our feelings are genuine, and often on display. Our beliefs are certain, and evident in how we live. My mom will be her exact, true self whether you meet her in church, at the symphony, at the grocery store, or in a courtroom. She does not change based on the company she keeps. She does not change based on her environment. This does not mean that she is not growing and becoming more like Jesus, it just means that no one is ever shocked by her changes because she has been transparent about them throughout her process. She celebrates transparently. She grieves transparently. She transparently confronts her faults. She transparently uses her gifts.

And in this way, I think (I hope), I am my mother's daughter.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Garbage Eggs

On Saturday mornings when I was a kid my Dad used to dice up leftovers from the fridge and scramble them in eggs. He dubbed this concoction--which was never the same twice, but always quite yummy--Garbage Eggs.

This post is just a scrambled mix of "leftovers" from our week. I hope its yummy!

Wild West Day
As part of their American History class, Graham and Chandler had to research a famous person from the late 1800s, make a presentation board, and then become that person for a Wild West Day. They dressed in costume and gave monologues in character for younger grades.

Here you see Graham as Poncho Villa--the Robin Hood of Mexico, and Chandler as Buffalo Bill--the expert marksman and showman.

I LOVE their school, and the many creative ways that learning happens there.

Black Tie
Just down the street from the boys' school is a little family-owned espresso bar called Black Tie. Black Tie is our favorite place to hang out and meet friends because 1.) they make GREAT coffee, and 2.) the owners are Christians who view their business as a ministry.

Black Tie is a beacon of hope on the South Hill of Spokane, proclaiming the goodness of God in everything from their premiere level of customer service to their excellence in baking scones to their lending library of Christian books.

The owners of Black Tie recently started a blog, and on it they want to feature a Missionary of the Month. Guess what? We were asked to be the first missionaries that they feature! How cool is that? So click here to visit the Black Tie Blog, and you'll see a familiar face on the sidebar.

In January of 2008 I had my thyroid removed. It took over a year for my endocrinologist to pinpoint the dosage of Synthroid that I needed to compensate for no longer having a thyroid gland, during which time I gained a very unwanted 10 pounds. The weight came on because my thyroid levels were so horribly low, but when my thyroid levels finally reached the "normal" range, the weight did not automatically come off. So when I returned home from CIT at the end of July, I was convicted (gently, of course) that it was time to wave goodbye to the extra pounds.

First of all, let me say that I do not really believe in dieting. I believe in healthy living because my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is not about a size or a shape or a look. For me, healthy living is about being a good steward. I have never been one who could eat anything and not gain weight. Since I was 18 years old I have had to be mindful of what I eat and how often I exercise. And even though bad habits did not cause me to gain this weight--it was really the result of low thyroid levels--I did have to make some changes to shed those unwanted pounds and get back to what I believe to be my ideal body weight.

So I used a website called SparkPeople to help me on my way. SparkPeople is a totally free web-based tool that allows one to track calorie intake and exercise. It will calculate, based on age, sex, and height, an ideal body-weight range, and then figure the amount of calories one must consume to move from a starting weight to an ideal weight over a reasonable period of time. It took me 8 weeks to lose 10 pounds, eating between 1200 and 1400 calories a day. I did input my consumption and exercise every day during that time, because for me, the accountability of having to "write it down" is very helpful.

This week I reached my goal weight! Hooray! I would highly recommend SparkPeople for anyone who feels called to lose weight, but know this: unless God is prompting and empowering the change, your efforts will probably be futile. It worked for me because I was responding to a nudge from the Holy Spirit, and He is the one who made it possible for me to succeed. Apart from Him I can do nothing.

David's "NEW" Job
This week David took his first stipend from GEM, which means that we are in full-time missionary mode. His job, for now, is to finish up our fundraising. To that end, David is networking, facebooking, phone-calling, and e-mailing to set up appointments with individuals and churches that the Lord might lead to become a part of our support team.

He is doing an awesome job, and we are continually blessed by the people with whom we have the privilege of sharing the vision for France.

In this picture David is speaking to an adult Sunday School class as St. John's Lutheran Church--an amazing fellowship of believers that is currently building a new church in the Latah Valley. With each meeting and speaking opportunity we are reminded of how God called us to France, and re-inspired for the mission ahead of us. There is truly joy in this journey!

Sunday night at 7 p.m. we will be one of five missionary families speaking at Eastpoint Church in the Spokane Valley. Feel free to stop by if you want to hear more or see us in person. We'd love to give you a hug!

Well, that about sums up our week. I hope yours was just as chocked full of delicious moments and savory tidbits.

Friday, September 18, 2009

By the Numbers

The number of light bulbs that were changed in my house this week.
The number of Bible verses I have memorized so far this year.
The number of books I am reading right now.
The number of books I currently have checked out from the library.
The percent of monthly support that is pledged for Four For France!
The percent of monthly support that we need to have pledged in order to leave for France.
The number of minutes we used on our cell phones last month.
The number of minutes that David spent on the phone with the Washington State Unemployment office.
The total amount of money David has received from Unemployment.
What we have lacked because of not receiving money from Unemployment.
The degrees Fahrenheit at which I enjoy my coffee.
The number of grants I need to write this weekend.
The number of items on my Costco list.
The number of rubber ducks that Chandler has suctioned to his cheeks at the moment.
The number of jalapeno slices that make Bob very angry. If you do not understand this one, trust me, you do not want to know.
My current weight, and 3 pounds less than it says on my driver's license (happy dance).
The number of calories I had to eat every day for 8 weeks to reach that weight.
The number of individuals, families, and churches that support Four For France, and for whom we pray regularly.
The number of years that I have had the joy of being married to the man of my dreams.
The number of days this year that I want to live for Jesus.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Caretaker

You may have gathered from previous posts that I spent the past weekend at a retreat. As the Director of Women's Ministries at my church, I did much of the planning for the retreat, including securing a location. Since I try to keep the costs of the retreat to a minimum, I was blessed when a dear friend offered the use of her spacious home for our event, and I gladly accepted.

Twenty-six of us took in their view, hiked on their land, cooked in their kitchen, ate at their tables, and lounged in their living room. We felt like we had a little taste of heaven.

The owners of the house vacated for most of the weekend--totally giving up their lovely home for us. There was a time, however, when the man of the house stopped in. He was quietly making his way to his room, when someone said to him, "Thank you so much for letting us enjoy your wonderful home."

He smiled and gently replied, "It's God's house. I'm just the caretaker."

Monday, September 14, 2009


A couple of weeks ago Graham ordered a one-pound hamburger with a side of fries. He ate the whole thing, and then had a pineapple milkshake for dessert.

Graham has a huge appetite and a non-stop metabolism, but for once in his life--for a brief, shining moment--he was full.

Today I feel full. I had a weekend that was loaded with all of my favorites, and I am not just talking about food.

The women with whom I spent the weekend are awesome women of God, and I was blessed to learn from them, laugh with them, and be loved by them.

My mother-in-law came from Montana to hang out with us and to teach one session at the retreat. She was such a gift to all, with her joyful participation, her wise inspiration, and her hilarious competition--a bubble blowing contest.

Other women taught and led and prayed and cooked and hiked and played and blessed and gave. We were all anointed...commissioned for another year of serving the Lord in ministry.

I have an almost insatiable appetite for friends and Jesus...but for one brief, shining moment, I, too, am full.

Then again, I might still have room for a milkshake.

Friday, September 11, 2009

No Time to Blog

No time to blog today--or for the rest of the week, for that matter! After taking three unexpected days off last week (thanks to the flu) I am now "struggling with all His energy which so powerfully works within me" (Col.1:29) to get prepared to speak at a retreat this weekend for the women leaders at my church.

But if I did have time to blog, I would be sure to tell you about how I am falling in love all over again with my Jesus. He is so good to me, because as most of you know:

If I had time to blog I would tell you all about the Dear Abby column that I read over 20 years ago that got me thinking about being God's favorite, and convinced me that indeed, I am.

I hope you know that you are His favorite, too!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Charlie Who?

I have new addiction: licorice. Black Licorice--which I used to hate--is the sweet I am seeking more often than any other. I love the really good stuff, but it is hard to find, so more often than not, I settle for Good & Plenty.

Every time I buy Good & Plenty I begin to sing a song from an old Good & Plenty advertisement. I have absolutely NO memory of the commercial itself, I learned the jingle from my sister, Keri. Nevertheless, like most jingles, it is well cemented in my mind and really rather catchy.

My family is a little bit sick of me and my jingle-singing, particulary because I can't tell them who Charlie is. I sing the jingle like this: (keep in mind I have a gift for messing up lyrics)

Charlie says, "Love my Good & Plenty"
Charlie says, "Really rings a bell!"
Charlie says, "Love my Good & Plenty"
And I never met a candy that I love so well.

So do any of you know who this Charlie is?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

7 Things (or maybe 17)

I was tagged in my friend Sharon's Blog to participate in the 7 Things I Love game. I am delighted to take part! For the past two days I have been sick in bed, and all my creativity has been sucked out of me and replaced by snot. I needed a blogging inspiration, and now I have just that.

But perhaps we should all agree to the caveat that this is a list of 7 Things that I Love while tripped out on cold medicine. Just in case I write something weird. Which wouldn't really be all that weird for me, since weird is sort of my normal. Maybe the real fear is that I would write something normal. Anyway, here it goes:

7 Things that I Love:

  1. Vegetarian Miracle Hair Conditioner. (I don't like that it comes in a tub because it gets under my fingernails when I scoop it out, but I suppose it is too thick for a bottle, and its thick consistency is probably the thing that makes it such a great conditioner in the first place.)
  2. The smell of wheat at harvest time. All of Spangle smells musty and earthy this time of year, and I love to throw open all the windows and drink it in.(However, having opened windows at harvest results in a house where every surface is covered with about a quarter inch of dust from the fields. I am thinking of leaving it and just planting an indoor garden for winter.)
  3. Bird nests--real ones from my yard. I have three of them sitting on my shelf of treasures. They go well with my decorating scheme, which pretty much revolves around dirt, sticks, rocks, and rust.
  4. Books. Almost any book. And I prefer to read three or four at a time. Well, I mean not at exactly the same time, that would be crazy, but like, I typically am in the process of reading many different books on any given day. For instance, right now I have bookmarks in The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego, The Seven Mountain Prophecy by Johnny Enlow, and Too Small Ignore by Wes Stafford.
  5. Roller Coasters, or anything fast for that matter. Downhill skiing, water skiing, German sports cars, hydroplanes, the Blue Angels, and sitting behind David on a motorcycle.
  6. Clean ears. Its a crazy but lasting obsession with me. I should seriously buy stock in Q-Tips.
  7. Silence in all its forms: The hush of an audience just after the orchestra tunes, but before the curtain rises; the stillness of morning when everyone but me is sleeping; the pregnant pause before a great punchline; the weighty anticipation of an answer to a life changing question; the peaceful quiet of a heart at rest.
  8. Can one love too many things? I had to add one more because I forgot to say, "Jesus" who is always the RIGHT answer. He is the giver of all good gifts, the lover of my soul, the joy of my life. So even though He is number 8 on this list, He is number 1 in my heart. But since I am sick I am not going to start over. But if I did start over I might add David, Graham and Chandler in there somewhere, too. Really, maybe this should be 17 Things I Love. Then I could add cucumber-scented candles, guitar-playing boys, designer purses, wooden toys, garden veggies, and people who read my blog. Too cheesy? Chalk it up to the cold medicine.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What's Up, Chan?

For Graham and Chandler, school is dismissed at 3:15 p.m. Everyday at precisely 3:17, Graham bounds out the door, homework tucked neatly under his right arm. He climbs in the car, buckles his seat belt, and begins to surf the radio waves for a song he likes.

And we wait.

Five minutes tick away. Then ten. Sometimes we hit fifteen.

Eventually...finally...Chandler awkwardly emerges from the school. He backs out, pushing the door open with his rump. Both arms are stretched out front, palms up, loaded with an unkempt pile of binders, text books, and wrinkled papers. His lunchbox acts as a paperweight, teetering atop the leaning tower of school supplies, while more often than not, a pencil or pen is clenched in his teeth.

When he gets to the car, he must juggle everything to find a hand with which to open the door. After he gets in the car he must again shift his heaping mass of educational paraphernalia in order to buckle his seat belt.

By the time I pull away from the curb, grass has grown under my tires.

Every day I ask Graham,"Where is Chandler?" "What is he doing?" "Why is it taking him so long."

Graham shrugs, changes the radio station for the 18th time and says, "I'm hungry."

Since it appears that Chandler merely scoops up the entire contents of his locker and heads for home, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why it takes him five times as long as his brother to get from the classroom to the car.

In his defense, Chandler always has everything he needs to complete his homework, never misses an assignment, and gets amazing grades--even if the stuff he turns in looks like it has been through a war, run over by a semi, and put through the washing machine.

I have two words for you: Abstract Random!

As I am typing, Graham and David are attempting to enlighten Chandler in the fine art of structural engineering as it applies to homework transportation techniques. They are explaining (with great detail) that smaller items should be stacked on larger items, while loose papers should be secured within folders and/or binders. Chandler is trying to follow their instructions, but it is almost as if they are speaking Greek to him.

And yes, he does own a backpack. Apparently, such utilitarian accessories are not cool enough for junior highers to tote. I can only imagine that if Chandler saw how debonair (not!) that he looks using his method, a backpack would suddenly appear cooler than a texting teen high on Red Bull.

We love our Chandler, who having heard me read the previous paragraph aloud, has now found his backpack and is loading it with his things. The only thing is, I am not sure that adding an element, even one as practical as a backpack, will speed-up the after school departure process.

We shall see.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Okay, Seriously, I AM FINE!

I ran into a few friends today. Each one looked at me with sympathetic eyes, tilted her head, and asked "How are you doing?" as if she were certain that I was about to burst into tears.

I actually had a hard time convincing them that I was okay, because, you know, they read my blog.

Now I realize that I have not exactly been all sunshine and roses around here lately, but I hope I have not been "doom and gloom" either.

Would you rather I kept the hard stuff to myself? Because I could do that. I still own a leather-bound journal and a pen, so I could just pour my heart out on paper, like I did in the past, and spare you the details.

The truth is, it has been a rough couple of weeks. We have been challenged in new ways, stretched in new directions, and pushed beyond our limits. And I tend to tell it like it is.

But our faith is strong, our hearts are encouraged, and our God is big. We have hope and peace in the midst of it. That doesn't make everything easy, but it means that even when things are hard, we are okay. We are all right in the depths of our beings, where we know that our lives are resting securely in the hands of a very capable God.

Here's the thing...for me, things can be HARD and HAPPY all at the same time. I actually find joy in the journey, even the uphill, stormy, wind-in-your-face parts of the journey. I like a challenge. However, by definition, a challenge is HARD.

Pray for us. Cheer us on. Relate your stories of victory and defeat. Declare the goodness of God. Thank Him for what He is doing IN us and FOR us and THROUGH us.

But in the words of the famous Evita, "Don't cry for me, Argentina!"