Thursday, July 31, 2008

There's Within My Heart a Melody...

I sometimes wonder if singing in the church choir is building up any treasure in Heaven because it is so FUN.

I realize that choir is a ministry requiring the work of learning (try sitting in front of the booming basses - some even hitting their correct notes & trying to find the alto part), memorizing and practicing songs (even some you don't like); a service to the church body by leading in worship (the church tags along for our singing to our Audience of One); a sacrifice of time, energy, and emotion plus commitment to be in place every Sunday if possible. As Bro. Scott says, we have a ministry of "being there".

And it is a blessing to be able to be there!

We even have fun practicing. Last night, Big O was subbing for Bro. Scott (on vacation - who said he could go anywhere? :-) ) and reminded us about staggered breathing - not taking a breath when your neighbor breathes, or as I like to define it, "don't breath until you stagger". Then someone on the front row volunteered for a new choir position: the designated "breather". Big O had fun with that one. "What is wrong with the choir? Everyone looks bad except for that one woman. OOOOHHH. She's the designated breather!" LOL!

Song titles can be funny:
"It is Finished" Sunday a.m.
"God is Here" Sunday p.m.
"It's All About the Blood" on Sunday morning
"The Lamb has Overcome" Sunday night

Since we have 2 morning services and sing in both every other Sunday, we are regularly reminded to "be here for the 8:30 service at 9:15".

Fellowship. Song. Laughter. Worshipping the Lord. Hugs.
We share prayer requests and praises then pray for each other.
It's a treasure to me here on earth.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rachel's Wild Ride

When we arrived at horseback Monday, Ms. Cindy told Rachel that she had a new, supposed-to-be-well-trained horse for Rachel to ride to see what he could do, a big, beautiful quarter horse gelding. Callaghan did well as he was groomed and saddled. Ms. Robin & I admired his rippling muscles and sleek coat. Ms. Cindy wanted Rachel to ride in her "arena" so that's where she mounted up. Callaghan started at a walk but his long legs moved quicker and quicker then he broke into a fast gallop. Ms. Cindy said she thinks he went around at least 10 times, dodging barrels, leaning through the corners, seeming to contemplate jumping the fence at a certain spot every go-round. Rachel held on for the ride of her life. We whooped & clapped when Callaghan slowed and stopped at Ms. Cindy in the center of the ring.

I am so proud that Rachel stayed on even though she was scared & didn't bawl like a baby when the ride was over.

After this wild ride, Ms. Cindy found out that Callaghan used to work as a pony horse, accompanying race horses at the track. He also has been used to herd cattle so can stop and change directions quickly.

Caleb likes to ride this ex-race horse thoroughbred named Count.
For a long time, Count was the only horse that Caleb could ride and not look like his boots were almost dragging the ground.
Rachel favorite horse to ride these days is this petite Arabian named Jazz. Here she is bareback to work on proper leg placement and balance.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Making of an Ogre

Where would you look to discover how to make an ogre?

Why would you even be looking for that?!

I wasn't looking - it just jumped out at me, sorta like the tattooed ogre did at the Bookmine Thursday.

On Thursday, while Jan & I were scanning in the "Christian book section" seeking items on our "most wanted" library list calling out titles back & forth, I could hear the voice of a father instructing his son, "Books were taken out of the Bible so we have to find them... It is important to search for knowledge because no one will find it for you... We know these "lost books" are true because they are so old."

I tried not to listen but prayed for the young man & for an opportunity to speak on the accuracy of the Word.

I didn't know the trap was set. His unsettling view was the bait.

"Have you read..." he inquired about several classic Christian books, initiating conversation with a stranger - ME. I didn't even hear the trap spring.

Then conversation turned (I didn't do that!) to organized religion (aha! His true motivation!) and the many evils found therein.

He quoted scripture. "You must worship God in spirit and in truth and not in temples made with hands."

As did I. "Do not neglect the fellowshipping of the saints."

I did manage to tell him (did he really not know?) that false prophets have been around for ages including during the time of the early church & that being old & written down does not make something TRUE or Divinely inspired. He tried to give me his Bible conspiracy theory.

As I left the area, he condemned me for choosing man over God (for me it's a big G - not sure for him). I told him, "I choose Jesus!" I was sorry I didn't give my personal testimony and the gospel presentation. It just didn't occur to me in the midst of the ambush. (May I be prepared with that answer & not sidetracked by the worshipping in Jerusalem vs. this Samaritan mountain argument next time, Lord!)

I wasn't looking for how to make an ogre but found out this a.m. (I woke up with Stan's alarm so it's REALLY a.m. > wake up the rooster a.m.)

Remember, I'm reading about Spiritual Disciplines with Andrew & Caleb? Check this out:

But without true fellowship, even the Christian who is ardently practicing the Spiritual Disciplines will not develop in a spiritually balanced way... Hebrews 3:13 warns, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is still called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." ...When we are outside the spiritual protection God intends for us to get from fellowship, it is much easier to be deceived by sin. Some of the most sin-deceived people rigidly practice many of the Disciplines... Without the tempering (iron sharpens iron) influence of believers with differing gifts, they confidently asserted twisted views of Scripture, delivered "words from God" for everybody, and were able to justify even gross sin because of their supposed spirituality.

How do you make an ogre? In this case, keep him out of church, out of fellowship!

My SS class actually discussed someting about this yesterday - not in my words but in some similar to these of Whitney's:

Just as we need to experience the discipline of modeling and talking of Christ with unbelievers, so we have need for a similar discipline with believers... J.I Packer defines fellowship as "seeking to share in what God has made known of Himself to others, as a means to finding strength, refreshment, and instruction for one's own soul." ...As we live like Christ when together, we encourage each other in Christian living. As we talk like Christ and about spiritual matters, we also stimulate each other toward Godliness.

Put directly, as each believer disciplines himself ..., his or her individual spiritual growth helps to build up the local body of believers when that believer is in fellowship with them. As that body of Christians is built up collectively, the increased strength of this fellowship contributes to the spiritual growth of the individual and encourages his or her pursuit of Godliness.

There was a question in SS: How is the class enabling/encouraging us to grow to be more like Christ? Because of the smallness of the group, we are able to share more of our lives with each other, getting past the "How are you? Fine." mentality that is prevalent most places to the nitty-gritty, real-life "How are you really?" soul-searching that we need to do.

An applied blessing from a SS testimony yesterday: "You can have as much of God as you want."
This statement caused me to examine my life and ask myself: "How much of Him do I want?" Do I truly invite Him to reign over every area of my life, filling this temple with His glory Eze 44:4? I should.
Can I really have as much of Him as I want?
Do I choose to feast upon this relationship?
"Taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34:8

Back to preventing ogerness:
[There is a] common Christian failure to distinguish between socializing and fellowship... Socializing involves the sharing of human and earthly life. Christian fellowship, New Testament koinonia, involves the sharing of spiritual life. Don't misunderstand--socializing is a valuable asset to the church and necessary for a balanced life, but we have gone beyond giving socializing the place it deserves; we have become willing to accept it as a substitute for fellowship, almost cheating ourselves of the Christian birthright of true fellowship altogether.

It looks like this: two or more Christians can sit together for hours, talking only of the news, weather and sports while completely ignoring their need to discuss directly spiritual matters... they are so independent in their practice of the spiritual disciplines that they almost never talk about such things on a heart level, and without personal interaction about the mutual interests, problems, and aspirations of discipleship, our spiritual lives are impoverished. ...Only Christians can have the rich banquet of koinonia, but too often we settle for little more than the fast-food kind of socializing that even the world can experience.

So, there you have it. Feast vs. junk food vs. famine.

I encourage you to find a body of believers with whom you can have true fellowship= koinonia.

Don't become an ogre.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Yesterday Jan & I went to Chamblin Bookmine in Jax. If you've never been, it is an experience you would remember. Bookmine is applicable as would be Bookmaze, Booklabyrinth or even Bookcave (Batman!). I thought Jan wouldn't make it past the front desk since her attention was grabbed instantly by the books shelved floor to ceiling immediately after crossing the entry hall threshold.

While it is a book lover's paradise, it is a librarian's nightmare. Books are shelved, stacked, piled and stuffed into all manner of shelving, corners and end caps as well as on chairs & tables. There is some semblance of organization but to a librarian's "one true spot for every book" mentality it is chaotic. Forget Dewey awa (definition: "as well as") alphabetization and numerical order.

Old and new materials are mingled together. Old and just released publication dates. Used items brought in for store credit of one fourth retail price (you can get cash but not as much) which are resold at half retail price and things purchased new by Chamblins for sale (10% off retail price). And not just books. They have DVDs, videos, audio books, magazines, CDs. Quite a stash.

Our visit was even more exciting than usual because just before we arrived part of the building's power went out. The employees were scurrying around turning off computers, phoning the power company, figuring out what still worked and what did not, organizing search parties to find customers lost in the dark bowels of the towering bookshelves (listen to them screaming...).

Well, not that last part.
As I said, only PART of the power was out (part of a transformer blew - I didn't even know that was possible but Stan understood it right away.) so those happily browsing in the back may never have known there was a problem. In the front, however, we were instructed to "go get lunch or something" until the power was restored. Wise that, even though I did have a flashlight in my purse. No telling what lurks among all those ancient tomes (not tombs!) in the dark. :-) Plus, with all my natural gracefulness... well, you know.

Jan told me later that she had considered sneaking to the back but thought that might really blow our witness since we had just brought in a bunch of Christian books for store credit.

We went across the street & had lunch at Chick-fil-a, which was also suffering from the partially blown transformer - a benefit since we knew when full electricity was restored.

The wait was worth it. Even though we didn't find many of the books on our list, we still found a couple of bags full to bring back home. "Found" being the operative term there. It was like a treasure hunt looking for gems in a diamond mine complete with an "ogre" challenging shoppers to a debate about organized religion who was accosting people in the "Christian" section.

But that is another story.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Steak Fingers & Hands-off Cubed Steak Meal

I tried/created a new recipe Tuesday. It received a thumbs up from the household critics so I thought I'd share.

We purchased several packages of terrifically sale priced beef cubed steak the other day so I went online looking for some new ideas that didn't include breading & frying, not that we don't enjoy it this way:

Steak Fingers:
Trim fat & cut cubed steak into aprox. 2 in. strips. Season with salt, pepper & garlic powder then soak (doesn't have to be long) in 1 egg mixed into enough milk to reach top of meat. Dip into self-rising flour seasoned with salt, pepper & garlic powder, shake off excess then fry in hot (350ish) oil. Drain on papertowels.
Grandma C's recipe. It'll make you pat your feet!

I was looking for something that was not so hands-on & with less oil & wound-up with what I'll call "Baked Cubed Steak Meal". Real imaginative, I know.
Trim excess fat and cut cubed steak into serving sizes (no larger than a deck of cards). Brown in smidgen of oil. Layer in greased/sprayed baking dish (I used 9x13): sliced potatoes (8 small) & carrots (4), meat (2 lbs.) with any juices, sprinkling of black pepper, chopped onion (1 small), mushroom soup (2 10 something oz. cans) & water (2 cans). Bake covered at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes, removing cover for last 15 minutes to thicken "gravy".

Rachel made biscuits (yum!) so I ladled my serving over an open one. We had green beans & watermelon as sides. Buscuits & honey were desert.

Note: Rachel has learned to wait until the boys enjoy & comment on what's she's cooked before telling them that she was the chef. Them: "Ewww, I knew this tasted funny. So that's what's wrong with it." Her, grinning: "Thank you for the compliments! I know you like it!"

I'm considering adding a smattering of garlic powder next time & perhaps frozen mixed veggies instead of the sliced carrots.

I can already hear the guys moaning & groaning, "More veggies, Awwww. Come on, Mom. This is probably GOOD for us. What are you trying to do? Make us healthy?"
Then afterwards, "Thanks, Mom. That was good."

Tee hee hee. My job is secure. :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Truth Project

We were told in choir last night that our church would be participating in this worldview study produced by Focus on the Family. I visited their website and thought this FAQ's answer giving an overview of the study might benefit you too.

Lesson 1 - Veritology: What is Truth?
The Truth Project begins by defining truth as "that which corresponds to reality." This absolute and eternal truth, at the heart of Jesus' mission on earth, continues to be the focal point of the Cosmic Battle in our own time.

Lesson 2 - Philosophy and Ethics: Says Who?
Truth is not simply an academic concept. The way we think about truth has a direct bearing upon the way we live our lives. What's more, our understanding of right and wrong is directly dependent on our worldview: is the universe God's creation or a closed cosmic cube?

Lesson 3 - Anthropology: Who is Man?
The Bible tells us that man was created in God's image but fell from innocence through sin. Modern psychology, on the other hand, asserts that man is inherently good and behaves badly only under the influence of social or institutional pressure. This lesson explores the implications of both views.

Lesson 4 - Theology: Who is God?
Eternal life, according to Jesus, is knowing God in an intimate, personal, and relational way. Such knowledge, which is possible only because of divine revelation, transforms us from the inside out as we begin to see ourselves in the light of His majesty and holiness.

Lesson 5 - Science: What is True? (two-part lesson)
(Part One): Science, the "systematic study of the natural world," brings to light innumerable evidences of Intelligent Design. But Darwinian theory transforms science from the honest investigation of nature into a vehicle for propagating a godless philosophy.

(Part Two): A careful examination of molecular biology and the fossil record demonstrates that evolution is not a "proven fact." Meanwhile, history shows that ideas, including Darwinism as a social philosophy, have definite consequences – consequences that can turn ugly when God is left out of the picture.

Lesson 6 - History: Whose Story?
Does the past have an objective actuality and significance? Or does it, as postmodernist philosophy asserts, exist primarily inside our heads? This tour considers the meaning of history as God’s story and shows us why remembering is so important.

Lesson 7 - Sociology: The Divine Imprint
The order we observe in the natural realm is even more apparent in the social systems God has established: family, church, community, state, labor, and the union between God and man. Life is a series of relationships that flow out of and reflect the Trinitarian nature of the Creator.

Lesson 8 - Unio Mystica: Am I Alone?
Is it possible for the infinite, eternal Creator to dwell within the heart of an individual? The implications of this great mystery, which represents the very core of the Christian faith, are explored at length in this examination of the most intimate of the social spheres.

Lesson 9 - The State: Whose Law?
Of all the social spheres, the state, to which God grants the power of the sword for the punishment of evil and the preservation of the good, has the greatest potential to go awry if it oversteps its authority. The civil magistrate must always remember his place under the sovereignty of God – otherwise, havoc will ensue.

Lesson 10 - The American Experiment: Stepping Stones
America is unique in the history of the world. On these shores a people holding to a biblical worldview have had an opportunity to set up a system of government designed to keep the state within its divinely ordained boundaries. Tour #10 follows the history of this experiment and explores what happens to freedom when God is forgotten.

Lesson 11 - Labor: Created to Create
Contrary to a great deal of contemporary popular opinion, work is not a "curse." God Himself is active and creative, and He calls man to share in the joy of His activity and creativity. Labor, economics, media, and the creative arts all have a role to play in magnifying the glory of the Creator.

Lesson 12 - Community and Involvement: God Cares, do I?
The ethical law and the meaning of the Christian life are summed up in the commandment to love God and one's neighbor. This command is the source of the believer's motivation for self-sacrificial service to the needy and their personal involvement in our culture.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Feasting on Fasting

I believe I mentioned before that Caleb, Andrew and I have been reading through Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney - available in the church library once I return it!

So far, the study had reminded me of things I knew and encouraged me in areas that might not have been emphasized previously but which I was not completely unfamiliar with: Bible Intake (reading, meditating-on, memorizing, hearing), Prayer, Meditation, Stewardship (in time and finances), Worship, Evangelism, Serving.

Today we began reading about fasting & I must admit that I've never closely examined this topic; still haven't since there is only one chapter on it here, but this one chapter contains a feast on fasting compared to my previous study. Here are some nibbles for you.

Christians in a gluttonous, denial-less, self-indulgent society may struggle to accept and to begin the practice of fasting. (OUCH! My toes!!!) Few disciplines go so radically against the flesh and the mainstream of culture as this one but we cannot overlook its biblical significance... Most of us dare not overlook fasting's benefits in the disciplined pursuit of Christlike life.

Fasting is mentioned in the Bible 77 times, baptism 75 times. I mentioned this to my pastor who preached on baptism not too long ago but from whom I've never heard a sermon on fasting. He surprised me by saying he had recently downloaded a free e book about fasting from . Perhaps a sermon on this topic is in the works?

A biblical definition of fasting is a Christian's (no eternal value for the non-Christian) voluntary (not to be coerced, although may be encouraged) abstinence from food for spiritual purposes (more than just the ultimate crash diet). A broader view... defines fasting as "the voluntary denial of a normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity"... such as involvement with other people, the media, the telephone, from talking, from sleep, etc.

Matthew chapter 6 makes it obvious that Jesus expected that His followers would fast. [Jesus said] "So when you give...", "And when you pray...", "But when you fast..." No one doubts that we are to give and to pray and there is nothing in all of scripture that indicates that we no longer need to fast, and since we know Christians in the book of Acts fasted (9:9, 13:2, 14:23), we may conclude that Jesus still expects his followers to fast today.

If you are wanting any kind of a blessing for it, fasting is to be done ONLY for God-centered purposes such as to strengthen prayer, seek God's guidance, express grief, seek deliverance or protection, express repentance and the return to God, humble oneself before God, express concern for the work of God, minister to the needs of others (an example was included here of donating the $ one would have spent on food to the needs of those for whom one is fasting), overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God, and to express love and worship to God.

REMEMBER THAT even at our best we do not deserve what we desire, nor can we force God's hand. Whether or not you receive the blessing you hope for, one thing is sure: If you knew what God knew, you would give yourself the identical blessing that He does. And none of his rewards are worthless.

At the end of the chapter are application questions, in this case asking readers to confess and repent of any fear of fasting. The boys & I agreed that it wasn't something we feared just something we hadn't thought about before & that we didn't enjoy being hungry. We also agreed that we had skipped meals in the past just because we didn't have time to eat and wonder of wonders: WE DID NOT DIE.

Another thing brought up in our discussion was that since fasting is between a person and God, and we are not supposed to proclaim our fastiness to the world (Matt. 6 again) that plenty of people could be observing this spiritual discipline without the rest of us knowing about it. Now don't start looking your fellow believers in the eye to try to spot that "hungry" look. Don't mess with their blessings!

The chapter concludes by asking readers, "Will you fast as the Holy Spirit directs?" and "Will you plan a fast of dedication now as an expression of your willingness to fast from now on?"

My question to you is, "Now that you know that Jesus expects us to practice it, will you closer examine the spiritual discipline of fasting?"

Rock-n-Roll & Rats

Andrew recently purchased a new radio & A/C cover for Sport so that he could replace the stock radio which works sporatically with one containing a CD player. Stan helped show him how it's done complete with back-bending contortionist movements as he climbed under the steering wheel to wedge his head (face up) down by the gas pedal so he could yank wires back into the dash to make room for the radio to fit. Sorry I missed that picture. Trust me, it was a funny sight. Now Andrew has tunes so he can groove all he wants. And with his empowered power windows, he can share with you.

He was thrilled to get a Spurs license plate to hang on Sport's nose the same day the radio cover arrived. He attached it right after opening it then called the grandparents in TX to thank them.

While A & S were completing their installation, Maryn was trying to turn into the driveway. It took longer than usual because of the slow traffic. She was waiting on this large rat snake to cross the road. Smart girl. She knew my guys would be upset if she squashed him - there would be evidence thrashing right there in our driveway and the "not having a SNAKE CROSSING sign" excuse wouldn't justify her. Cries of "murder!" and "snake-killer!" would have filled the air & given her nightmares. Rachel might have cried. Or Andrew. Even though she is not a snake fan, the chastisement would have been hard to bear.

Or maybe she's just nice & knows we like snakes?

Whatever the reason, she waited for him to cross & told the guys about it. Then the hunt was on. Andrew caught the big rat and was only bitten a little. You have to understand that the snake was upset because Stan was holding him down with his boot (isn't that a nice way to say "standing on him" without saying "standing on him"?) otherwise I have no doubt that Andrew would not have been bitten. He is part American Indian, you know (family joke).

The guys estimated that Rat was 4 - 5 feet long. He looked healthy, like he's been doing a good job eating rodents (don't tell Rachel or Maryn because most rodents are small & furry = CUTE). Andrew took him inside to show Jacob (napping in bed - 2 hours of rest the night before, remember?) then released him out back by the fort near our neighbor's jungle but he came back into our yard & curled up under the lawnmower after Stan messed with him a little while & got him to shake his tail and strike at his boot like a rattlesnake wannabe.

He could make mowing the lawn more exciting.
Now you really want to come visit us, don't you? :-)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chain-up the Genius

While traipsing through blog-land, I saw several which contained links to check out one's blog's reading level. One said high school. Another said JH. I wondered how mine would fare so followed the link.

blog readability test

Query: Does that mean it takes a genius to decipher my ramblings? Kudos to you then!

When I saw this "ranking" (LOL) I had to go jump around in the kitchen & tell the kiddos. They said all the great things kids should say:
"Mom, you're silly."
"It's because you're cool, Mom."
"I always thought there was a genius in the family but I thought it was...Molly."
Yes, the dog. :-)

I love my kids!

Crew update

4-H project books went to work with Stan & should be dropped off at the Ag Ctr on his way home. Caleb & Rachel heaved sighs of relief. They stayed up (late for us these days) until nearly midnight putting them together. Mom is determined to start those painful things at the beginning of the year instead of waiting until the last moment once again. I believe that is my resolution every year about this time...

We have sun today. I'm hoping the towel & water shoes which I hung on the line July 4 will finally dry & I can bring them inside. :-)
NO, I am not complaining about the RAIN. PTL for the rain!
I'm confessing my poor habits in taking care of laundry left on the line. Now you know why we nearly exclusively use the dryer.

Got Andrew signed up for his dual enrollment classes yesterday. 12 hours total. Karen said that one of the classes is the first interactive class they have had. It uses live cameras set up in a classroom here & at the NW campus. The professor is supposed to be here sometimes but I believe will be in Gville a majority of the time. The class is Intro to Theater which satisfies a humanities requirement. We laughed at its code: "THE 1000" because it sounds like a movie. Jacob is planning to take that class also so they should have fun.

Andrew has been assistant coaching for Upwards Basketball Camp at church this week. He's getting to work with the youngest kids. He enjoys hanging out afterwards and playing ball with the other coaches. I believe they finish-up Saturday a.m.

Jacob got home safely yesterday from his mini vacation with Maryn & her family. He discovered on his way there that his waterproof boots had lost their waterproofness so had soggy socks & prune feet but the riding suit worked pretty well. He rode home with his feet in plastic bags to keep his tootsies dry. In my mind that's a funny picture.

He, Andrew & some friends went to the midnight movie for the first showing of Batman the Dark Knight. I heard Andrew drive up just before Stan's alarm went off at 4:20 a.m. Jacob arrived a little while after that (he had to take Maryn home - Andrew said she was wearing a helmet so don't worry.). I was kind and let everyone sleep in until 9:30. Everyone but Jacob, who had to open at work today - out of the house just after 7:30 a.m. I arose before he did so saw him off. He told me he had gotten 2 hours sleep. Do YOU think I felt sorry for him?
Do you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


As you may know (let us bow our heads here for a moment of mournful silence) Stan's work schedule has radically changed from his preferred night owl-ness (home by 1 a.m.) to waking-up the sun (gone before 5 a.m. when it its still dark. No, he didn't kick & scream - HE doesn't do that - that's ME you're thinking about.). In recognizing & trying to synchronize the rest of the family to his work-imposed schedule, I've been encouraging the kids to follow my example & go to bed when Stan does.

Hugs & Kisses.

Turn out the house lights.

Instructions to shower & don their P.J.s.

"Don't stay up too late - remember I'm waking you up EARLY."

My goal has been to wake them up between 7 and 8 a.m. You would think they would be grateful for my assistance in helping them to enjoy as many daylight hours as possible during their summer vacation from schooling.

On the contrary, their goal has been to sleep-in for as long as possible.

You will note that this is one way you can tell the difference between a child and a teen. My little children were up and active much earlier in the day than we desired (Stan was on the night-owl shift so WE wanted to sleep-in) and asking for such mundane things as "breakfast".

Now they'd rather just sleep until lunchtime.

I have continued my morning ritual just moved it up a few hours, invoking my mother's right to torture:

Me: "Good morning sweet children. It's time to wake-up."

Them: "GROAN", tug at covers, roll over.

Me: Turn on lights & Turn off fans (Even in the winter. ???) SOMETIMES I even smooch their sleepy faces before they roll to face the wall.

Doesn't that sound like a lovely way to wake up? (Morning dragon breath not considered)

Me: Opening the daily devotional, reading & inquiring: "Who said that & why? What do you think, Caleb? Do you agree, Rachel? Are you listening, Andrew? Are you awake, Jacob?"

Them:"mutter, groan, whine" stretch, wiggle feet, maybe stumble to the bathroom.

Me: Pray for the day. Not really the best way to get them up since they are supposed to close their eyes & be still to pray...

Them: Attempting to pray & sleep without snoring

Me: "Go ahead and get up now, make your beds, read your Bible, get your clothes on"
Then I open the old hymnal and sing to them. If the other stuff hasn't gotten them out of bed, this should. How well does your singer warble at 7:30 a.m.? :-)

At this point, I go shower & eat breakfast (or visit here with you). They drag themselves out of bed and into the living room where they go back to sleep on the couches or chairs. Caleb Rachel
They are easier to smooch here.

On days when he doesn't have to open at work, Jacob attempts to sleep-in. We do our best to get him to join our wakefulness. He took today off work, though, then got up EARLIER than when he rises for work. What is the special occasion?

Jacob left this a.m. before 7 headed to Sarasota to spend a couple of days on vacation with Maryn's family at a resort. Poor kids haven't seen each other for TWO WHOLE DAYS so I know the reunion will be sweet: hearts, rainbows, little flowers falling from the sky...

He is riding Lurch so please remember him in your prayers for his safety today - should be there by noon and his ride home sometime tomorrow. Remember we've been blessed with RAIN - PTL! - so he may be riding through that but Stan picked up a motorcycle rain suit for him yesterday so he won't resemble a wet rat just a rumpled one. Jacob on Lurch, backyard
Yes, he wears a helmet when he rides on the road (so no nagging!) but would you recognize him if I uploaded a photo of him with it on?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mini Saga: The Continuing Story

As all good sagas have a beginning, this one starts here:

When last we visited Dr. Stan, Mini and Red, we were hoping a successful transplant could be accomplished by the time Stan's M & D arrived. Alas, our patient is still hospitalized, er, garaged and the transplant has not occurred.

So, why the saga update?

Well, because there is more to the story, of course!

Act 4 - BB

Did I tell you that Mini has an A/C that works great even in the FL summertime? It sucks all the humidity out of the air and keeps everyone comfortable except for Rachel who needs a blanket. Obviously, we cannot use Mini's A/C without Mini but we've been missing that particular aspect of Mini more and more everyday.

Sometime before Christmas we noticed that BB (our beautiful burgundy Buick) would occasionally blow smoke out the A/C vents. This smoke smelled like burning leaves and was visible. We would react very calmly:

"Quick! Shut it off!"

"Get the windows down!"

"Do we need to pull over?"

This did not happen every time we used the A/C and it actually took a little while to convince the good doctor that the problem was with the car and not just our encountering smoke from burning piles of leaves where people were cleaning up their back yards because for several months he was not with us when BB was smokin'.

Then he experienced it for himself. After examining the car, he decided that some leaves must have gotten into the A/C blower motor from the outside vent and were catching on fire. Yes, burning leaves. No, not from back yards.

Oh, goodie. And me without an extinguisher.

He said we could still use it & the car would not explode as long as we turned the A/C off whenever it blew smoke.

Soon after that we noticed that while the air from the A/C is cold, it just doesn't seem to blow into the car very well. It SOUNDS like gale force winds but actually there is little to show for all the bluster.

Ah, well. That good old 4/55 A/C has been around a long time. Hot air in the face is better than no air at all.

You know, when Stan & I got married we had old vehicles with crank handles to work the windows. I thought we were really moving up in the world when we got our first car with power windows. Luxury. Plus, they were fun! Everyone could work their own window but the real power hound was the driver. The driver had control over all the windows right at her fingertips, raising and lowering at will - all four at once if she so desired. "Buwha ha ha ha ha!"

Unless of course, the car was turned off. Then you sat in the heat and could do nothing without the keys except open the doors. Then I really missed those manual windows.

BB was our 2nd car with power windows.
BB was our 1st car to have the window's motor short out - but just the one controlling the front windows. This happened just a week or so before Stan's folks arrived in May.

Having just the back windows open seems to cause a vortex sucking more hot air into the front of the car and pulling out any of the cold A/C air. I'm sure there's a scientific theory or science fiction explanation but I just know it made things HOTTER. So we came up with a temporary fix.

This little fan keeps the air moving and propels some of the cold air into the back seat. Rachel is wanting to add a spray water bottle. I think duct taping some blue ice to the front of the fan might cool us off better. We are remembering to put sun shades in the windows, look for trees to park under and keep sweat rags in the trunk. Not really! They're in the glove box.

We've been thankful that weather conditions have not seemed as hot as last summer, perhaps because of all the rain we've been getting (PTL!!) or maybe global cooling? Jacob has been choosing to ride Lurch to church so as not to overstuff the clown car. (Riding Lurch has its own drawbacks. Remember it's been RAINING daily.)

(Here is where we must pause briefly to ponder the reason for all these vehicles, namely CHILDREN, actually leaving the nest, uh, car. No more sweet conversations. No more breaking up backseat wrestling matches. No more singing together at the top of our lungs and waving to anyone who looks like they're listening. No more awkwardly passing out drive-thru food items without dropping, spilling, or hammering whoever is next to you in the nose with your elbow. No more knees in my back bouncing to the rhythm of whatever is playing on that mp3. Ah, sweet memories. Now back to our program in progress...)


Andrew has occasionally blessed us by offering the use of his wheels, Sport. His power windows are still empowered.

We are also thankful that BB's A/C has stopped smoking. And we didn't even have to use the nicotine patch. We are hoping there is no relapse.

Act 5 - Ranger

Speaking of relapses, did you know that less than a year ago Stan replaced Ranger's engine with that of a 90 Mustang? Same engine just a little newer and WORKING. Important that, since this little truck gets Stan to work. And back. At least it's supposed to.

About three weeks ago it started running badly. It sounded awful, had no energy and wanted to die (Ever feel like that?) so Stan began replacing parts. He finally decided that the distributor was the culprit so attempted to get a new one.

Did you notice I said attempted? This was not as easy as you might imagine.

Stan & the helpful employees at Advance Auto Parts (Keep the Wheels Turning) found the proper distributor on their computer and ordered it. It arrived that afternoon. The box had the right part number on it but it was the wrong distributor. Another was ordered. It arrived two days later. Same thing happened. Then they read the box: "The part within may not be what you ordered or need because this is a generic distributor. You can purchase other parts to change out the different parts of this part so that you will wind up with a part that might work to replace your defective part." Or something to that tune.

Neither was happy with that song & dance so they looked-up and ordered four different distributors hoping that one would be the same as the one showing-up on the pc program. All four came in the next day. One looked right so Stan brought it home & tried to put it in. It was too long. He took it back to Advance.

Realize that all this time his truck was not running so he was driving BB to work. Andrew was at camp the first week so we could drive Sport. And the Beast is still drivable (and hungry - no four-course meals at these gas prices). PTL! No one was stuck somewhere without a ride!

Long story short: he gave up on finding the right distributor, bought the generic plus the extra rotor and now the truck once again gets him to work and back without dying but " it still runs bad". He hoped for better today since he reconnected a loose vacuum hose yesterday but that didn't fix the problem.
But what, you ask, does BB & Ranger have to do with Mini?

"I thought this was Mini Saga not All My Children's Vehicles."

I'm glad you asked! Please tell me, how can my favorite mechanic work on Mini when he's fixing everything else?

Act 6

But he HAS been working on Mini. Mini's engine is OUT and she awaits her transplant.

Red's engine is also out and in the garage. Red's robust body is reclining on the slab under the basketball hoop. Andrew gnashes his teeth when he passes by. The brilliant NBA career he was destined for is quickly fading away without the extra shooting practice and all because of Mini's misfortune. This concludes our dramatic interlude.
Do you remember when I told you that while driving Red home Stan noticed a knock in the engine that sounded like something he could fix? When replacing a broken engine with a used engine it is important to fix little things like that first and to replace any little thing that is easily replaced and might be worn.

Be warned. The following picture is not pretty - although I think the guy is a hunk!

Stan pulled the oil pan and saw why Red's oil pressure was running low. Everything was covered in a crunchy black crust.
He pulled the valve covers and saw the same thing. He thinks the engine has not run hot enough and caused the oil to break down into this mess. However it happened, it will have to be cleaned before this engine is a suitable transplant.

See Mini's clean heads? Red can envy them.

That is where we are now in Mini's Saga except for one thing. Stan has been shopping for a bike.

I don't remember if I told you that Stan was given an old '79 Honda cx500. It needs a good amount of work and the friend didn't have time or $ to get it fixed. The more Stan looked at it, the more he found wrong so he started shopping on Craig's List which is where we found both Lurch and Sport for reasonable prices. Stan has been to see at least four since Ranger started giving him trouble. At this point, I believe he has decided to focus on fixing what he has rather than shopping for something else that has its own set of problems. Now the challenge is finding parts for a nearly 30 year old bike. One word: E-BAY!

With another vehicle in line for surgery, Mini is patiently waiting.

Camp was Sew-Sew

Caleb & Rachel are in their third day of project book boot camp at Ms. Cindy's. They are doing intensive work focused on finishing the 4-H project books that were ordered at the beginning of the 4-H year (September) but were left ignored in notebooks for a majority of that time. 2 different horse books. Fishing. Gardening. Farm Animals. Arts & Crafts. Microwave Cooking. Sewing.

Now, "finishing" a book doesn't necessarily mean they are done with the book, just that enough work has been accomplished in it so that it can be turned in for some recognition/credit for the current year. Many of these books have close to 30 activities from which a minimum number can be chosen to complete the book OR a certain number can be done to work towards completing the book in three years. It all depends on how much you want to accomplish each year.

Cindy asked for an adult to lead each of the projects. I mentally considered my full plate (especially at that time of the year!), smiled and happily let others volunteer. :-)

Q. Did ALL those adults DO what they volunteered to do?
A. Does a frog have feathers?
(Yes, a chicken DOES have lips. Don't ask me how I know.)

SO as camp was in the final planning stages last weekend, Ms. Cindy mentioned that perhaps I could do something for the sewing part of the project books - a small cross stitch piece or crocheting a potholder. I checked my cross stitch supplies stash and came up with ( I thought) a quick, easy & creative project, & sent Stan off to work with a simple alphabet pattern, requesting a few copies. Then I looked at Rachel's sewing project book.

Cross stitch? Not there.
Crocheting (not that I can do it!) Also not there.

Nope, this book focused primarily on sewing with a machine.

Now, I have a machine. And I've sewn with it. Got one the first year Stan & I wed (1985) so I could make curtains for our first house. More recently, I made an Easter costume for Jacob (spring 2004? Photo is 2006 with Andrew as King David - no, I did not sew that!). When I dug it out, I had to scrub off a layer of dried-on dust which much of our stuff got covered with after hurricane Frances in 2004 (thus my Easter sewing guess) when our electricity was off for over a week and we lived in humidity soup.

I liked using my sewing machine until it developed some problems that cause mangled stitching. I've traced down the trouble but haven't been able to fix it: TENSION. So sad for a machine to be dealing with debilitating stress...

Still, I hated to let the girls down. I looked through the book and found EIGHT things we could do and we only needed SEVEN for the year. Hurray!

At camp, we went through my sewing box (actually a large floral hat box that produces a nice contrast on my bookshelf) identified & discussed how to use the various tools ("Yes, they look like craft scissors, but pinking shears were actually designed for use when sewing."), practiced threading needles (large & small eyes - wink, wink) and tied some knots. Check, check, check.

After we examined & identified sewing machine parts, the girls drew and labeled a picture of my sewing machine in their books (Has your machine ever sat for a portrait?). We looked through the Singer handbook and discussed how to fill a bobbin then each girl threaded the machine starting at the spool all the way to threading the needle AND inserting and raising the bobbin thread. Woohoo! Check, check, check.

Only one more needed item: Reading the directions on laundry detergent. Ms. Cindy came through by providing a bottle. FINAL CHECK. With a flourish.

Yes, we did it in one day, two sittings. And we didn't really make a thing.

Mission accomplished. Sewing project battle completed for this 4-H year. I'm hoping a different general volunteers next year. My sewing machine is still stressed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Call them sayings, slogans or soundbites, there's plenty of good ones out there.

Here's one I just read from Charlie Daniels:

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."

Chuckle, chuckle.

Sorta reminds me of Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV)

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.

And its NT counterpart found in Romans 12:19-21 (NIV))
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's
wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"
says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

A couple of my favorites:

"You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body."~C.S. Lewis

"We are not human beings who have occasional spiritual experiences but spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience."

Backed up by:

1 Corinthians 2:16 to 18 - "For which cause we faint not, but though our OUTWARD MAN perish, yet the INWARD MAN is renewed day by day. For our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and ETERNAL weight of glory; While we look not at THE THINGS WHICH ARE SEEN, but at THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN; for the THINGS WHICH ARE SEEN are TEMPORAL, but THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN are ETERNAL."

Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Just the Girls

Stan & Jacob are at work. Caleb & Andrew spent the night with friends and plan to hang-out there until church tonight. Rachel & I have been having a nice "girls day".

We discussed painting her bedroom and how we could arrange things so she can live there while we are working on it. We looked at her horse pictures to see which would look best as part of a boarder. We discussed personal styles & preferences.

In my room stretched out on my bed, we looked at some needle work & discussed some plans for a 4-H sewing project. No, we did not do our HAIR or NAILS. :-)

Rachel & I just got to vocabulary level 40 at and donated 1300 grains of rice. We liked that the site will pronounce the words. We wished they used correct words in a sentence! Rachel's favorite new word was chamfron.
Not familiar with it? Don't feel badly. The spell check doesn't know it either!

She went and made microwave fudge with almost no assistance.
"Mom, what is evaporated milk?"
"It's milk with part of the water removed. Look for a can in the pantry."
"Is this it?"
"No, Sweetie, that's sweetened condensed milk. It has sugar in it. See?"
She returns with the proper can. Success!
She reads the instructions. She gets out all the ingredients, measuring by herself. She butters the dish. She weighs-out one pound of confectioners sugar and sifts it with the cocoa. She stirs and spreads into the pan then cooks. The micro-zapped fudged goes into the fridge to cool. I'm looking forward to sampling some. Come on over for a bite!

Gotta go help her with some Spanish now.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Me but not Mine

Yesterday while reclining cozily beneath a heated blanket amidst closed curtains, dressed in my hospital snaps & ties gown and blue fuzzy socks, I sought some mental activity. Spying a three ring notebook with MY NAME prominently displayed upon it, I curiously opened it up to view my charts. Moments later a nurse arrived, removed it from my possession and took it with her when she left. Oh, well. Gave me time for prayer & praise music.

Fast forward to my coming out of anesthesia in the recovery room. I've already been given the lovely photo of Polly Polyp - prior to her purging - and am seeking something on which to focus as the drugs wear off and my balance returns. Viola! The notebook is back!

This time I make it to page three when the nurse returns, quickly removing the book from the side table, visibly upset and scolding me as if I were a child.

"What are you doing looking at your charts? You know you are not allowed to look at them!"


"No, I don't know I'm not allowed to look at them. Why wouldn't I be? They are about ME. Why can't I see them?"

"You have to sign a form."

"OK. Give it to me & I'll sign." - As If I haven't signed a zillion just for this procedure. What is one more?

I was then informed that I could only see them if I went to some other department, filled out the proper paperwork & paid for copies .

Copies? I don't want copies, I just wanted to look through MY book. They can keep the copies.

I understand the importance of keeping medical information private (not that I really believe that our info is diligently kept from anyone we are not interested in sharing with. Only those we want to have access seem to have trouble getting it. "Fill out this form in triplicate. Sign 6 times. Initial 37 places. Notarize." - but I exaggerate. Slightly.) BUT isn't it a little extreme to keep a patient's information from said patient? What is in this chart that "they" are afraid I will see?

"Patient appears too happy. Check medications."

"Patient names polyps. Check mental history."

"Patient sings to self. Remind to keep day job."

But more seriously, this lack of patient access to their own chart bugs me due in large part to the medical records I received when I was no longer a dependant & the Air Force was good enough to give my stuffed folder to me. I was surprised both at what was not there as well as what was: POSITIVE results for embarrassing tests I had never had - nor had reason to request. How long had they been in there? Did this other person's tests & results effect the treatment I received at other times? How I was viewed as a young person? At that point in time, it did no good to say "these are not mine."

Now my future plans:
1. Start in the middle of the book instead of the front.
2. Practice photographic memory techniques so I can just flip through quickly.
3. Sneak in a flashlight then hide and read under those toasty blankets.

But, it may already be too late.

"Patient exhibits unnatural desire to view own charts. Check FBI Most Wanted list."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Nearly the 4th

We've had an eventful day.

As of this morning, we have two teenage boys licensed to drive (only a slight Bond inference there). Andrew said the tester told him that his 3-point turn was perfect aside from being performed backwards (homeschooled!). He thinks he lost points because he couldn't verbally explain how to park on a hill or exactly where the parking brake is located. "Down there some where."

Hm. We have only parked in flat places so that was a definite learning gap. Now he knows.

Andrew drove himself to work today - alone for the first time! - and then to our church's College Bible Fellowship cookout. My idea. He is a high school senior but according to the dual enrollment people he's also officially a college student. I figured, he should be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Caleb & Rachel returned dirty and smelly from horseback.

They took a bottle of Ms. Cindy's recipe for homemade fly spray with them to try: equal parts water, vinegar & Skin-so-soft. Rachel thought it worked. The horses didn't comment.

Caleb is mowing the grass, rapidly rising thanks to all the rain (over an inch yesterday, 60% chance daily for all the forseeable future according to the weatheman). Stan has been loading storm tossed branches onto the burn pile. That burn pile has been building a long time now. When it's dry enough to burn, it's too dry for a fire. When it's wet enough for a fire, it's too wet to burn. I wonder if we have critters living in it. They would not enjoy a bonfire...

My 3rd endoscopy yielded 2 polyps, one in the esophagus. As usual, I was provided a photograph of one of them. I believe I'll name this one "Polly", create a RIP frame & hang it in the dining room.

Isn't God so good to us?
How many 40 year-olds would have their stomach checked for polyps? I praise Him for bringing me to the point of having some questionable symptoms checked. They were NOTHING but the process brought this potentially deadly condition to light: polyps that would become cancerous if left unharvested. My doctor says I should have an EDG every 2-3 years for the rest of my life.

As I was waiting around for my procedure today, I was QUIETLY singing songs from choir: "I Can See Jesus" high and exalted. My eyes are fixed upon His face. It shines like the sun. , "Thou, O Lord" are a Shield for me, my Glory and the Lifter of my head, "We Shall See Jesus" just as He is, "Psalm 23". Personally, I HATE needles & surgeries & being in hospitals. God blessed me with a time of worship - just the two of us - and helped me to smile and be friendly to the hospital personnel instead of focusing on the needles and smells and surroundings. PTL! He is always with us.

Rachel is reheating leftovers for supper. Roast chicken. Green beans cooked with ham. Baked (actually micro-zapped) potatoes.
Come & get it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The first hint was when Jacob told me that Maryn had bought an expensive "dressy dress". He explained that her Flo-Arts graduating class had decided that they wanted a prom-type dance rather than the traditional graduation party. Maryn was extra excited because it was on her birthday. Don't they look so PURDY?
Jacob and Maryn June 21, 2008 I, having never been to a prom & knowing that Jacob had not either, asked Maryn what special things might occur at a prom vs. a regular dance. She didn't know because this was her first prom also - she just knew they got to dress up PURDY (please note: these are my words not hers - do not doubt her excellent home plus college educated grammar skills).
Jacob and Maryn June 21, 2008 So I just had to do the prom mom thing & take their PURDY pictures. Ain't 'cha glad?

Fiendish Fireflies, Batman!

Well, actually they are whiteflies and they are killing my kale!!! Beautiful, bright green leaves have been reduced to mush and the plants are falling over. They are still living at the tops so I sprayed them drippy this morning with some spray recomended by Ms. Ann at Ace. No eating them for 3 days though so don't come raid my garden.

Now the simmering questions:

Will the kale live?

Will those fiendish whiteflies DIE?

Stay tuned!