Saturday, March 29, 2008

Leaving Tomorrow

I picked up Grammy and Leesh at the airport this afternoon. A little heavy traffic but not bad considering all the construction going on at SeaTac.

We got home and the kids trickled in from a birthday party and were excited to see Gram. After dinner Grammy read to them while I took a shower and got ready to go in the morning. She is a wonderful grandma and the kids love her. I'm sure that everything will go smoothly.

I've left her with enough instructions to choke a horse, and food enough to feed an army, I'm sure.

Leesh will be a good "Auntie" to my kids and is a great helper to have around.

To all my bloggy friends, I'll post soon about how my flight goes and classes I get to take while I'm at the spouses seminar. I'm really looking forward to spending uninterrupted time with my sweetheart.

Now if I can just get some sleep.

Eyes Wide Open

I. Can. Not. Sleep! My heart is racing, my mind is whirring, and I’m all jittery. I feel like I’m on speed! (Not that I have ever taken it to be able to compare, what kind of person do you think I am, really!) But wow, why won’t my head shut off.

Is it excitement about seeing Bear, is it excitement about seeing my mom and my niece? What is the deal here, I’ll be a wreck on the side of the road driving to SeaTac if I don’t get some rest.

I’ve been up to pee, I’ve painted my nails, I helped a little Bubby go potty and change his jammies, (poor Ace fell asleep in his jeans during movie and pizza night,) I’ve tossed, turned, thumped pillows, wrestled with the sheets.

I am anxious to see my sweetheart, I told him I feel like a giddy teenager on a first date. I’m looking forward to long talks with him, without interruptions. Our conversations of late have been broken and disjointed. Little ones always seem to need Mamma’s attention and/or discipline when I’m on the phone to Daddy. Bear has even had interruptions on his end. The other day another Chaplain came to the door and asked to use his computer, so the phone call was again interspersed with broken conversations.

I just want to BE there already.

Boo has been waking up the past few nights. I wonder if he is feeling anxious as well. I know that sometimes little ones can sense that something is amiss, but can’t really figure out what to do about it. He is comforted by Mamma’s touch and voice, and then goes back to sleep. What will he do when I’m gone? Will Leesh be an acceptable replacement? Probably not. Will he be mad at me for leaving? Robby doesn’t want to talk to Daddy on the phone when he calls, it’s like he’s mad at him for leaving. These poor little guys have gone through a lot of separations with two deployments under their belts already in their short little lives.

This was a rambling, incoherent post; I just had to do something instead of staring at the green lights on the alarm clock. I thought maybe if I journalled, it would help. I feel like I need a sleeping pill. Or maybe a brick. But who would hurl it at my head?

Yawning now, we’ll try this sleeping thing again. Posting this, turning off the computer, going upstairs, we’ll see…

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm so excited!

About two months ago, my dear husband let me know about an opportunity for Chaplain's spouses, so that we could attend some classes at the Army Chaplain School. I thought back then it was just a dream, a very expensive dream that would never come true.

I thought it was a great opportunity and as I'm so new to this whole Army ministry thing, I could sure learn alot, but I was resigned to the fact that I would not be able to go. There were too many details, too much to try and coordinate, I didn’t think I could take care of it all.

I prayed about it, thinking that God would not have this excursion in His Eternal plan for my life, and I left it in God’s hands. My dear husband asked me if I had thought about it, and if I could actually come. Wow, I didn’t realize that Bear had been praying about it too.

The details were too complicated, how would I fly by myself with 5 kids (too expensive) how would we get around once we got there, I’d have to rent a minivan, (too expensive). What if I just went by myself, could I farm out all the kids to friends and family? My family would be willing to take them, but I’d have to drive them all the way to Idaho or Utah, then they’d be missing school, I didn’t want that. Then I’d have to fly out of Salt Lake City, and fly back to SLC and I couldn’t fly with Bear on the return trip, and I didn’t want that.

I put out a family request on our email list and prayed. I thought if I could just arrange something for the kids, (or rather if God would arrange for their care, then I could go.) After a few days of praying for it to happen but thinking it never would, my family came to my aid. My mother and niece could come, but didn’t want to drive all that way, 15 hours with Leeshie’s one year old. Leeshie’s cousin, my nephew suggested that airfare would be just the same as gas for that trip, so I purchased tickets for them to fly here.

Plans were taking shape; God is amazing in the details. Gram and Leesh were flying here, the kids could stay in school and not miss any days, and would feel more comfortable in their own home for that length of time.

Then Bear found out he needed to have hernia surgery, but couldn’t miss any more days of classes, so the Army would hold him over to operate after his school graduation. That meant another change of plans, new tickets and longer schedules for all parties involved.

My mom was unable to stay for the whole time but did offer to stay for nearly a week more. Another niece of mine was getting married and they needed to be back in Utah for the wedding.

I called a friend from our previous church inquiring if there were any college age girls who would like a nanny job for a few days. She didn’t know of any, but after thinking about it, decided that she could take the time off work and do it for me. Just let you know she works for a national tax preparation company and she’ll be taking days off work during their very busy tax-crunch time.

So, I’m going, tickets have been purchased, schedules have been arranged details worked out in a way that I could never have done on my own. I was even able to make up some freezer meals so that most of the work is done already.

Grammy and Leesh arrive tomorrow and I am leaving on Sunday morning to go see my husband. I haven’t seen him in 3 months, and we’ll get to spend really quality time together, with no children to interrupt for a few days. We’ve been married for 20 years and we’ve never had an opportunity like this.

And now a prayer request, it seems that whenever Daddy is gone, someone breaks something or needs stitches, Chels has already broken her arm, and we’ve had our share of colds, flu, and respiratory infections. Please pray for wellness in my family, no mishaps for Grammy and safety in all of our various travels.

I’m packed and ready to go!! Whoo Hoo!

I'll be gone until about the 15th of April, I'll try and check in from SC, but my dear husband has a Linux computer, which I don't like to use, plus who wants to sit around and blog when there's a sweet husband needing some attention in the other room, wink, wink.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Blogging Meeting

Today, for the first time I met a friend whom I have enjoyed getting to know. That seems so reversed, I should have met her first and then gotten to know her. In this age of computers and blogs and long-distant relationships, it is often vice versa.

I found this woman’s blog through a Chaplain blogroll. As we are embarking on a new direction and path in our lives, I sought out the direction and assistance of wives who have been down this road. I sought out a Titus woman who would be able to “fill me in” so to speak about what I could expect as we travel along this journey God has put before us.

I discovered to my delight that one particular Chaplain’s wife lived near me and that perhaps we could meet in real life and talk face to face. We’ve been trying to connect for months it seems, but with 10 children between us and often going separate directions, it has been difficult to say the least, with cancellations and postponements along the way. But today, we did it. Plans were pushed aside, laundry went undone, (on my part, anyway) and we conversed, we met, we fellowshipped; we ate!

I arrived at the restaurant first. I told the Hostess that I was meeting someone for lunch; someone I didn’t know. She seated me by the door so that I could “see her when she came in.” Just what part of “I don’t know her” didn’t you understand?

Anyway, I studied the menu and tried to find a dish that would satisfy both Fat Girl and Skinny Girl; the dieting, often-battling sisters inside me. Into the restaurant walked a nice looking brunette, who I thought might be the lady I was to meet, but the light was behind her and my vision is terrible in poorly lighted places. I squinted and thought; wasn’t her hair a bit fuller in her picture? Is that her? I can’t tell, Oh, I wish I were more outgoing and bold, I’d go on up and ask.

She sat for a minute or two probably thinking the same thing, (well, in the last picture she saw of me on my blog, I had my hair in ponytail with a baseball cap and covered in mud, so I guessed that she wasn’t sure either, ha!) She picked up her cell phone and started to dial, and then mine buzzed in my pocket! Too funny, there we were nearly staring right at each other, with our phones to our ears. “Is that you?” “Yes, this is me!” Silly girls.

We had such a nice lunch and got to know each other a bit better. It felt a bit strange to go about this “meeting and getting to know you” sort of backwards but with God’s people, it’s all good!

We had lots to discuss, my upcoming trip to the Chaplain School in South Carolina, she had already been through the spouse’s seminar, so I needed the scoop, so to speak.

I’m new on this journey as a Chaplain’s wife, and while she hasn’t been on her “journey” long either, she at least has the experience of being a pastor’s wife, where I do not.

There were people that we both knew through blogs or prior military service; it is a small world to be sure. It was so good to finally meet a friend whom I have grown to love and respect.

Thanks Laura for taking the time and reaching out to a friend.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Is Risen!!


He is risen indeed! Aleluiah!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dreamin'

I didn’t sleep well last night, oh I went to bed early enough, tried to get enough rest, but Robby had leg cramps and woke me up nearly every hour wanting “med-cine” on his owies. 4 times during the night, I went in and rubbed him down with muscle cream. Then Boo woke up coughing as soon as Robby got settled for the night.

Needless to say, my dreams last night were scattered and incoherent. The last one I remember was that my next-door neighbor had taken down a section of my new fence and stolen my sod.

Miss Busy woke me up this morning instead of vice versa, the first thing I did was look out my back window. Nope, grass was still there.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Laying Sod

Saturday Morning dawned partly cloudy, but no rain, it had sprinkled some during the night, I heard the rain dripping down the rain gutter at 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep.
I arose early and had my quiet time, fed everyone and went to the backyard to start getting things ready to put down the sod. There were some rocks to be moved and tidied up.

I had good workers lined up for inside with the kids and outside help with me. Our friend Brandon, 17, had a brain injury a few years ago and doesn’t have the use of his left hand, and walks with a brace and a limp with his left leg. But he is a hard worker and is willing, a commendable trait in a teenager. He picked rocks and dumped several bucketfuls and got them squared away. He was especially good with the sod knife, trimming around all the rocks in the wall and the stepping-stones.
Fordman and I laid the sod, while AZ-Wheeln, Miss Busy, AZ’s daughter, Kay and a few neighbor kids brought the sod to the backyard in a wagon.

The ground was so sloppy and mucky in the center of the yard we couldn’t walk on it. I tried my best to straighten out the pieces after we got them down. I really just wanted a nap. Ha!

We worked our way from the garden boxes around to the wide side of the yard, cutting around stones and trees.

We broke for lunch about the time we got to the dinosaur/horse/wagon/spaceship rock near the maple tree. This rock came out of our neighbor’s fence posthole last year. They didn’t want it and I thought the kids would love to play on it.
The rocks in our rock wall also came right out of our yard; Bear and I built it last year after we excavated the yard down about 3 feet so it would be flat. Maybe that’s why he now has a hernia, hmm?

I should never have stopped for lunch; boy was I sore. I didn’t want to get started again, but we didn’t have to drag the sod as far now and it went pretty fast. We got to the gate about 2 pm and had to smooth out the pile the landscaper left us, it was very sloppy near the pile and we were just spreading mud, which doesn’t work well. The sun had been shining for a while, so we let it sit for about an hour while we did some trimming around stones and piecing up near my kitchen window.

As long as we stayed on top of a piece of plywood, we did ok, we couldn’t stand on the mud side, we would slip and make big holes, so we would work our way across the yard on the plywood and then carefully shift it over the next area.

Matching the old grass to the new grass was a bit tricky especially since there were no clear edges anymore because of all the equipment that had driven across it in the last year. We stopped just short of the edge and planted a heavy crop of seed.

It’s been sprinkling off and on all day today, Sunday, and hopefully it will start to stand up straight and fill in the spaces. It wasn’t professionally done but I don’t think it looks too bad. At least it saved me about $1200 in installation costs.
I feel good about our accomplishments and couldn’t have done it without my dear friends and neighbors, AZ and Fordman; my son, Gadget-Boy, his friends Chrys and Brandon, Miss Busy, Kay, and several other neighbor kids.

I am sore today, really sore; I feel like I did a six-hour workout with my “Buns of Steel” workout DVD, and then threw on a two-day trail ride on a pack mule. Not to mention the bruising across my left arm, back and ego when I fell against Fordman’s trailer rails; lost my balance, pinned under a full sheet of plywood until I could regain what little composure I had so that I could stand up; not a pretty sight, good thing no one saw it happen.

Will post update pictures in a few weeks, I bought some perennials for the space above the rock wall; I have great vision, now all I need is the strength to do it. Maybe after my trip…

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sod, sod, sod.

Fordman and AZ-Wheeln picked up the sod at the turf farm. They called me and told me that the trailer had to go back to the guy who was borrowing it, so we had to unload the trailer onto the driveway. Nine thousand pounds of dirt and grass! Oh my aching back. By the end of unloading, my hands hurt and I had no strength in my wrists. Now we’ll have to slug it all through the muck and mire into the backyard tomorrow. Oh boy, what fun.

I “borrowed” two teenagers from our former church to help and watch the kids inside while I help lay sod outside. There is so much to do out there; I hope it goes together smoothly. I have to set some stepping-stones too, I hope I can get them laid straight. I don’t have my sweet hubby to help me get things “just right.” Why am I doing this without him? I hate doing these kinds of things without him.

Dear Lord, give me strength today, help me to supervise in a way that communication is evident and clear. Help keep everyone safe from harm today while we are working with sod knives, heavy rolls of grass and heavy stepping-stones. Keep the kids safely inside and watch over Chrys and Brandon as they are helping me today.

Please bless my dear friends, Fordman and AZ-Wheeln as they offer their assistance to get this job done.

I thank you Lord for the finances to purchase the sod and the soil, the creativity needed to complete this landscaping process. I know that I could not have done it without your help. Help me/us to make this backyard a safe place for my children to play when Grammy gets here in a few weeks.

It is in your humble name I pray, Amen.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Garden Boxes

I’ve had a request or two for pictures of my garden boxes. I’m posting one of our boxes in KCMO, and the ones I have planned for this house. I got the idea from Country Home magazine and the need to find a place for two fruit trees. (The first picture.)
My dear friend Mr. T. has personally grafted two apple trees and they are waiting at his orchard for the right transplanting time. One is a 3-in-one and the other is “the consummate pie apple” a Northern Spy. I built the boxes so that the trees could go in the middle and I can plant herbs and smaller veggies around the outside.

I cannot plant tomatoes in my yard as I have raspberries near the fence and tomatoes are related to nightshade, which is deadly to raspberries. I was a bit disappointed about that at first, but I’d rather have home-grown raspberries and buy my tomatoes from the farmer’s market anyway.



The boxes in KCMO were built from 2”x12”x10’ then we cut them at 3 feet and made the boxes 3’x7’ rectangles. This is a good size to be able to reach in and weed.
The new boxes are also 2x12’s, this time I bought 8-footers, but cut one foot off the end so the boxes wouldn’t run into my rock wall at the back of the yard, I wanted space to mow around the boxes instead of having gravel or mulch in between. The 7x7 size will give my trees plenty of room, as they are dwarf apple trees.



I purchased a “brick” of peat moss to mix into the topsoil, each “brick” is 3 cubic feet compressed.

I’m going to pound in some rebar to hold the boxes in place, and attach the rebar to the box with u-brackets.

I’ll be posting some pictures in the next couple days of the sod-laying. My fence guy was telling me about “floating” the sod and laying it on water covering the dirt, or laying it on really mushy ground. I guess it is quite sloppy, but you just smooth the topsoil out and “float” the piece of sod on the sloppy ground. I think that is what we will be doing, it has been raining here for days, and the backyard looks like a milk barn.

That’s it for now; Wanda and Drucilla are calling me, asking for more clothes to wash.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Break from Blogging-Ramblings

Goodness gracious, I feel like I haven’t had time to even sit down lately. This week has been crazy; Monday Chels stayed home from school, her arm was really hurting. Tuesday Chels, AZ-Wheeln and I went to Home Depot and purchased boards for my garden boxes, and then bought sod. We have 2180 square feet of yard, that’s 4 ½ pallets of sod weighing 9000 pounds! That’s a lot of grass! Later in the day I dropped Chels at school, she didn’t want to miss library day, and picked up Miss Busy for her eye appointment. She has 20/20 vision but the Doctor said that children her age should have a bit of farsightedness to compensate for stretching as the retina grows. So he thinks that she may become nearsighted in the future based on family history, me, Dad and Gadget Boy all have glasses. So he prescribed reading glasses, we picked out and purchased them, she’ll look so cute!

Today, Wednesday, was Chels’ field trip to the Art Museum. What fun! We rode the bus together; I got great pictures of the kids doing an art project and fun pics of both classes with their teachers sitting on the stone bleachers out front. Chels’ teacher Miss M asked me if I would send her copies of the pictures I took. I took the liberty of editing them and got some great candid shots of her talking to her kids, she’s a great teacher. I’m also sending in a copy of my Digital Storybook Catalog for Creative Memories. Can’t hurt to give myself a little plug now can it?

Thursday, I have to run back to Home Depot and get some stakes for securing the boxes to the ground and maybe some top soil and peat moss for inside the garden boxes and a landscaper’s rake to smooth out the top soil before we lay sod.

We have decided to do the sod ourselves; AZ-Wheeln and Fordman are going to help me lay it down. It’s been years since I’ve done that, I hope it all goes well and my yard doesn’t die. I’ve been reading every website I can find on how to do it right. It’s been sprinkling off and on all week so the ground is pretty well watered, and I know to water it soon after finishing it.

Friday I have to pick up some boys from our former church so they can kind of corral the kids while we work outside. They’ll be good gophers for me.

Anyway, this was ramble-y and incongruent, but I needed to post something and let you know we are doing well.

Chels is a bit sore off and on throughout the day, but hates to miss school so she’s going back to whole days tomorrow, (unless of course she has to call me to come get her, we’ll see.)

Thanks for the prayers for her quick recovery; she’s a tough cookie.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Traumaleen Continued:

If you didn't read the first part, click here.

The Docs told me that she needed surgery to pull the fragment out and get the joint back together. It wasn’t an emergency so they scheduled it for Sunday morning.

Sometime around 2:30, which was actually 3:30 because of Daylight Savings time they got her into a room in the Pediatric Ward. I had some allergy medication that I should have taken around bedtime and I was having stuffy nose symptoms, so I drove home after she was settled and sleeping. While I was there I picked up her Get-better Bear. She got it from a Doc about 8 years ago when she had pneumonia. She had been asking for it all night.

After I got back, the nurse had a pull out convertible chair/sleeper and had sheets and a pillow for me.

I slept for a couple of hours and the Ortho Doc and the Ortho Surgeon came in and said surgery would be in about 30 minutes.

I helped her get robed and ready, and then we walked (she rode) to OR. I said goodbye after they had her sedated and waited in the OR waiting room.

I did manage to make some phone calls to my church and leave a message about her surgery so that our congregation could pray. They did and the prayers were answered.

Ortho Surgeon came in after only an hour and said they were done, it was supposed to take about two, he said they were able to manipulate the fragment out without cutting her open. Thank the Lord! Prayers were answered that morning.

The fragment is in an acceptable position and will either grow fibrous tissue or bone and reattach. Doc said if there was a chance that she would be a major league baseball pitcher they would open it and screw the piece back on, but it really is fine.

The put on a split cast until the swelling goes down, then they will wrap it in cast material in about a week. Get better Bear also got a cast and even got a hospital gown just her size, from the pediatric nurse Clare.

She’s taking Tylenol with Codeine for a few days, but she is a tough cookie.
Thanks everyone for your prayers, I know that this could have been much worse or have happened after I leave on my trip.

My dear friend AZ-Wheeln is feeling pretty badly since it was her traumaline they were on. Her daughter came in and asked for ice for Chels but didn’t think anything about it. Pray for her, she’s feeling a little guilt-ridden.

The Lord lay on my heart to get flowers and write her this verse, “A friend loveth at all times” Proverbs 17:17. I also gave a dozen roses to my neighbor Billie for watching the other kids for nearly 24 hours.

It is good to have people who love you and are willing to inconvenience themselves to help in a time of need.

Trauma-Leen

We had such a nice morning yesterday; we came home from Women’s Bible Study and the kids played outside in the neighborhood. Boo took a nap, cranky boy. I was taking pictures of the back yard and talking with Bear on the phone after I had posted them. He was impressed with the landscape guy’s work and we were talking about sod.

Miss Busy came running in and said that Chels had gotten hurt on the trampoline and was screaming. Screaming! She is a tough kid, high level of pain tolerance, if she is screaming, it’s got to be bad. I hung up quickly with Bear, told him I’d keep him posted and went into Mommy Trauma Mode, MTM for short.

I got to our neighbor’s backyard and saw her sitting on the tramp with her right arm all wrapped up with a bag of ice. She had to skooch over to the edge and I somehow got her through the mesh-Velcroed opening of the safety net, well at least she didn’t fall off of it. (Ha Ha!)

I unwrapped Miss Busy’s jacket from around her elbow and saw immediately we had a trip to the ER. She said it looked like a skinny snake that had swallowed an egg. Indeed it did. Her skinny arm was bulging at the joint of her right elbow. Every move was excruciating pain. We got her inside, dressed in warmer clothes, they had been enjoying a bit of shorts-weather that afternoon.

I made quick arrangements for the 4 other kiddos and off we went to the ER. We were in pretty quickly and then sent to x-ray. After a few minutes back in the waiting room we were into an exam room and soon after that the first Doc showed up. He was waiting for the Ortho Doc to look at her x-rays.

Ortho Doc said he needed better x-rays maybe even CT scan to really see. They inserted an IV and gave her meds so they could manipulate her arm without causing too much pain. (She was still really hurting anyway.) Ortho Doc and I went with her to x-ray and he personally positioned her arm for pics.

Turns out she has a displaced medial epicondyle fracture with a fragment lodged in the joint and medial widening of the joint line. Now that all means that she broke off a piece of the bone, of her humorous, upper arm, near the growth plate and the piece was lodged in between the elbow joint.

They were going to try a closed reduction where they would try and move her arm and joint around and try to dislodge the fragment. (Ouch, sounded painful to ol’ Mom here.) They gave her some pretty strong drugs, which would kind of give her amnesia about the whole event. She could still react to the pain, but it would block her sensors from remembering it.

I was very interested in the flouroscan machine they were using, it takes an instant reading, much like an ultrasound, and shows the Docs just what is going on with the bone. Ortho Doc pulled and prodded, tweaked and twisted, then Chels started getting very agitated and was screaming, (in slow motion, but screaming none the less) I had been doing ok up until then. I sat down on the stool next the Chels’ head, then the Doc in Charge of the Floor that night, had me move over to the chair. They were holding off with Chels and giving her a bit more medication. Charge Doc saw that I was still kind of green and asked for a bed for me to lie down. He got me a blanket and had me rolled out into the hallway, down a ways so I couldn’t hear her. I hate the feeling right before you pass out. It has happened a time or two, right after delivery or during ER visits. My eyes start to unfocus, and the room tilts. I have knots in my stomach and feel like I could throw up. My skin feels tingly and my heart pounds. It took several minutes for that feeling to pass. I lay facing the hallway wall and tried to block out Chels and concentrate on the conversations around me, anything to keep from hearing her.

Some guy had a walking cast on but was telling the receptionist that he had Closter phobia and was going to cut it off. Poor guy. I concentrated on nurses’ voices and buzzers and beepers.

After about 20 minutes Charge Doc came and got me, they were done, it didn’t work and she was asking for me.

I’m stopping this for now, will continue later, house is a wreck and needs attention!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Back Yard


We're getting our backyard done!! I'm so excited, we've only lived here for nearly 2 years. This has been a project and a half, (and a hernia, by the way!)
Finally!
Fence and sod next week, still undecided on seed or sod, any thoughts?
Give me opinions people, I'm looking at cost of course, but then I have 5 kids to consider, can we play on it relatively soon?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pleasing Aroma


"diffusing the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." 2 Corinthians 2:14

Am I doing this in my life? My Blog? My family?

Kim over at A Planting of the Lord thinks so. I am touched by her thoughtfullness.

I don't always do a good job of setting a pleasant tone in our home, it is something with which I constantly battle.

I love to burn candles in my home, I love vanilla the best, and then clean fruity fragrances next. Sometimes I have gotten a bad smelling one and it nearly makes me sick to smell it. It reminds me how God made each of our senses and how he draws analogies in His Word with examples of those senses.

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Luke 14:34-35 Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Job 11:18 And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security.


Thank you Kim for this sweet award and the reminder that we should spread the sweet aroma of Jesus where ever we go.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Encouragement from Others

I was so encouraged and blessed to have a “celebrity commenter” on my blog. I posted a comment on Renee Swope’s blog asking a question. I think that it might have been a rhetorical question not really needing an answer, but more of an inward self-examination, yet Renee replied to my question on her blog. It was such a blessing to me that I wanted to put it in my blog-journal to be able to refer back to the things she wrote. To have a wonderful writer offer encouragement to a fledgling is so encouraging and I know that there will be times when I’ll need to look at and reread her encouraging words. Here is my question and her response.

Renee,
Sometimes I think...There are so many wonderful writers and authors out there, how could I possibly contribute? But maybe in some way, with God's help, I can be an encouragement to others.


MaryLu, I completely understand how you feel. I felt that way for so long, and I still do when I walk through a bookstore. How could I say it any better or different then all of them? I had to come to a point where I was writing not for publication but simply for remembrance...simply to leave a legacy of my everyday journey with God. When I feel doubtful or discouraged, I remind myself that it's biblical to tell of the wonders of our God, to record it for a future generation, to leave markings along the way the way that others can follow as we follow Him.
The truth is, there is no one who can share the story God is writing in your life - but you! There is no one who can tell it the way you can. No one who sees Him the way you do, hears His thoughts towards you. And if He's gifted you to write then you need to write. Even if you are not sure you're gifted, ask yourself this: Does my heart come alive when I write? Are others impacted or encouraged by my words? If the answer is yes, then write girl write!


When I think back to my years in high school or college English, (I have to think hard that was more than 20 years ago!)it seemed that poetry and creative writing were my favorite subjects, (besides Marching Band and choir.) So it is amazing to me, though I don’t know why it should be, that those desires and feelings are still in me. I guess we are “hard wired” in such a way that our natural talents and gifts from God shine through.

So, I’m writing. Like Renee mentioned in her answer to me, much of what I write is indeed a historical document, for remembrance, a place to "put it down" so to speak. Through my writing, I hope that my words will be uplifting, that the funny stories of my children will cause someone to smile, and that through it all Jesus will shine through my text and be glorified.

Thank you again, Renee, your encouragement has helped me more than you will ever know.

Thank you Father, that you have given me the desire to lift up others with my words and direct them to you. May you make my words edifying and uplifting, make my writings be glorifying to you and lead others to a close personal relationship with you.

Clothing Emergency, Help!

I was washing a cute new cotten jersey knit cardigan given to me by my friend, Rachel. In that same load unbeknownst to me was a red crayon from a pocket of my son's pants.
The red crayon melted all over the cardigan.
I am so sad! I loved it!
What can I do to remove the crayon?
Or maybe my only recourse is to dye it? Burgundy would be cute, it is 95% cotton and only 5% spandex, will that dye easily? What about the white stitching on the edges, will it dye too?
I've never had that great of success with dying red things really red? Any good dyers out there?
Please help!
Oh, I am just so sad, magic eraser did get it out of my dryer drum, but what about my poor poor jacket, sob!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Overcoming Fears

Are you fearful? Are you overwhelmed by some circumstance in your life over which you have no control? Is it finances, health, fear that you will lose loved ones? I have had my share of fears. I’m sure we all have something about which we are afraid. The Bible has much to say about fear, but before I share those verses, I’m going to share my story of fear.

Bear was the funds clerk Chaplain Assistant at our new assignment in the Army but before serving there for very long he got notification that another unit was in need of a Chaplain’s assistant, and by the way, they were deploying soon.

Though Bear didn’t want to deploy, he knew that he could help these soldiers and wanted the opportunity to serve with them. This was at the end of 2002 and things were just beginning to happen in Iraq and we didn’t know when they would deploy, the dates kept getting changed, we had two months, then we had 6 weeks, then we had 5 weeks, then it would be back to 2 months again. The packing list kept changing, they were doing FTX, field training exercises, firing range practice, inspections, inspections, and extra drills. For weeks on end he had 18 hour days often coming home after the kids were already tucked in bed.

We had so little time to spend together before he was supposed to deploy, but it seemed that at the most crucial time, we didn’t get time to spend with him.

Then came the whammy, I found out I was pregnant, I had a six month old baby, a 4 yr old, a 5 yr old, and a 15 year old, and my husband was leaving for a year, maybe more, no one knew how long deployments would be back then.

Fear had begun to get a strangle hold of my heart, a grip that would not release for months. I decided to just be busy, that’s what all our Family Readiness Group leaders said, don’t just sit around the house and mope, get involved with something, make new friends, do something outside your comfort zone, the time will go faster.

Finally we had firm dates. There were three “waves” of departures in his unit, Bear was the third group to go. I wanted to savor every moment, so we spent the day with Daddy taking pictures of everything, getting his rifle issue, gathering and putting on all his gear, they even had to get on a scale and weigh while carrying it all. Most guys carried anywhere from 90 to 120 pounds of extra gear including bulletproof vests and weapons, helmet, etc.

The busses came and names were called, bodies counted, loaded on the busses and then counted again. I saw a lot of fear that day, crying wives, clinging girlfriends, and lots of picture taking. But I would be ok, I'd just stay busy. We stood and waved as he drove away, then it hit me. He was gone. I wouldn’t see him for at least a year, maybe more. I was the sole caregiver for our children, 4 children: 2 girls, 2 boys and another on the way. I couldn’t go home. I didn’t want to face the empty house. We went to the mall, we went out for pizza, we rented a movie. I did NOT want to face that empty space. I cried myself to sleep for days. It got so bad, that I would stay up and watch movies instead of going to our empty bedroom alone.

Fear had raised its ugly head. I was alone, what if I would forever be alone, what if he never came back. That was a shock, I had rightly named the fear that gripped my heart. That was the thing I was afraid of. Alone, no skills, I was a Mom for crying out loud. I went to college for about a semester and a half until I met Bear, got married and dropped out. How would I support our children? At that time our soldier’s insurance policy was only $250,000. I spent it over and over in my head. It would be gone after I bought a house. What would I live on?

In the military, if there were a casualty, the chaplain and officer in charge would come to the door in their dress uniforms and inform the next of kin what had happened. So every time the doorbell rang, my heart would be in my throat. I hated to see anyone in their Dress Greens.

Right after Christmas time, I was visiting my mother in Utah, and I got a call on my cell phone from our FRG leader, Jennifer, telling me that we had had a casualty in our unit. The husband of a friend of mine had been killed, and could I be back in town for the memorial service? I would try, but I did not want to be there. I would have to face my fear head on, I wanted to stay busy, I wanted to just forget about my husband being in a combat zone driving around on roads where IEDs were cleverly hidden amongst the trash, protecting his Chaplain with his own life if necessary.

Jennifer also informed me that I did not let anyone know that I was leaving the area. I needed to keep the Family Readiness Group informed of my whereabouts in the event I was “notified.” There it was again, that ugly paralyzing fear of losing him.

The drive home from Utah with my mom was a bit unnerving, (she rode with us to Washington and then flew back to her home in Utah so I wouldn’t have to drive with the kids all by myself.) It was snowing, there were closed highways, we had to take ski routes that meandered around the freeways in order to get back in time for her return flight. One road in particular was very scary to me. It was only wide enough for us to pass, and the snowdrifts were taller than the van. It was so hard to steer because of the washboards in the packed snow and it was foggy and dark. And though I prayed more during that drive than ever before, the kids slept in their car seats, oblivious to the treacherous driving conditions outside and I prayed.

Dear Lord, please get us through this, I can’t do this alone, I need you. I can hardly see, the steering wheel is so hard to control. I need your help.

I felt rather than heard Him speaking to my heart. Do you trust me? Do you trust me to get you home safely?

Yes, Lord, I do trust you. I know I can’t do it on my own. That’s why I am asking for your help. I felt much better, knowing that He was with me on the drive home.

Then slowly, sneaking into my heart came another question. Do you trust me? Yes, Lord, I do, and thank you for being here with me. Then...

Do you trust me to get Bear home safely?

WHAM! Wait, that’s not what I was asking about.

Do you trust me with Bear’s life? You aren’t in control of what goes on over in that foreign country half a world away, are you?

Well, no, I’m not. But…

I Am. I Am who I Am. I Am the resurrection and the life. I Am the way. I Am all that you need.

I couldn’t see from the tears in my eyes. It was a good thing He was there guiding our way over those mountain ski trails, because I was crying tears of joy and release. Release from the fear that permeated every part of me. At that moment I was able to turn control of my sweetheart over to God and leave it right there.

I was able to go to the memorial service for my friend’s husband and offer her comfort and support. My fears relieved, my torment was squelched, and comfort was offered to me so that I could offer it to her in her time of need.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Hebrews 13:5 (the second half of the verse and verse 6) For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

Now those verses did not mean that nothing would ever happen to my husband, it could, and I knew that, but I also knew that he was in God's hands and that if anything did happened to him, I would be ok. God was with me just as He was with Bear in the desert. And if God was with us, who could be against us?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Financial mistakes we would not have made if I had listened to my husband.

We had just returned from Christmas Eve service, and prepared for our traditional Christmas Eve gifts, usually new jammies. We open one gift each and get dressed and ready for bed. My mother started this tradition with my siblings and me, probably so that we would look good in our Christmas morning pictures. It is a tradition that I have tried to follow as well.

Being the scrapbooking and history-preserving mommy I am, I got out the camera and started snapping pictures, one of Gadget Boy, oh, he’s so cute snuggling with his little baby sissies; one of Chels and Miss Busy in their matching sleepers. (Only three kiddos at this time in our lives.) Snap-whir, snap-whir, snap then click. No snap-whir? No more film, “Oh, no! That can’t be the end. There has got to be more film in the buffet drawer!”

None, zilch, nada, not a single roll of unused film. What to do, what to do! Panic!

Now, we have to back up a bit in the story. For about a year, I had been trying to start an online eBay business, buying things at discount stores and then selling them for a bit of a markup. I had a friend who was doing this and making good money. I sold a few Longaberger Baskets I didn’t want anymore and some fabric liners that I made for them, quite a few of those actually. The only problem, I had to drag all my stuff over to Teresa’s house and use her camera. I loved visiting with her, but she was pretty particular with her stuff and wouldn’t let me touch her camera, she did the picture taking. What a pain. I wanted my own. Wanted—didn’t need, only wanted. Why didn’t I remember those words? They would cost me dearly.

I found out the make and model and started looking. This was back in 2001, and digital cameras were big, bulky and expennn-sive! The one I wanted used a 3.5” floppy to store about 18 pictures. Perfect! (I can’t believe that as I write this only 7 years later, that my camera now stores over 800 photos on a card one-fourth that size!! Hilarious!) The only problem, this baby cost over $600. I didn’t have that kind of cash just lying around. But wait, I could apply for store credit. Well, to make a long story short, well, to shorten it considerably anyway. I got the camera, a protection plan, floppies and a camera case. $700, payments were $50 a month. No problem, I could easily pay $100 a month and get it paid off before Bear found out about it.

That was during the summer, by Christmas I was still paying for it, the payments hadn’t gone quite as planned, Bear had gotten laid off and was looking for work again. Money was tight, and I couldn’t tell him about the camera just yet. That’s why I panicked!

So now back to Christmas Eve, while I didn’t have film for my 35 mm, I did have a perfectly good digital camera, and lots of blank floppies. But I didn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell him on Christmas Eve! I don’t think I told him until almost Easter. It was bad, he was angry, and rightly so.

This was the start of a lot of financial infidelity. Not paying the bills, mortgage payments got behind, car payments, etc. We lost our minivan, turned it back to the bank and then had to pay off the remainder of the loan over the course of the next 5 years. I felt like we were not on the same page. We were not together as far as the finances, and it was causing a rift in our marriage. It caused a lot of unrest, mistrust, and dishonesty; mostly on my part.

As far as the camera went, the payments got behind, there were late fees, finance fees, and interest at an incredible 22.5% that was accruing monthly. The original bill for $700 ballooned up to about $900 before we got it under control. The seven months I thought I had to pay it off became more like 4 years. The great thing I was doing for my business? Well, I didn’t sell enough on eBay to pay for the floppies, let alone the camera, the bag and the extended warranty too.

So for Christmas we only had about 3 or 4 pictures, just on Christmas Eve, and I remember the hardship and the strain I put on my marriage every time I look through our Christmas album. With financial counseling from our church elders, we have overcome most of those particular struggles, but overspending is something that I constantly have to resist. I try to be frugal and spend wisely, but then the ugly green greed monster inside lifts her ugly head and the gimmies resume.

Some verses that help me: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Contentment with what I have, contentment with who I am in Christ, I do not need to fill any desires at Wal-Mart, I have no needs there. I am well taken care of, my husband provides for us and I will trust him and honor him by being faithful in this area of finances.
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Now go over and see what Sue has to say, she does a much better job than I do.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Dr. Seuss

Ace and I were in the potty, he was sitting, I was reading while he did his business. “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” was the selection for the night. Daddy often recites a favorite verse from this book, changing it just a bit, “My hat is old, my teeth are gold. I have a Mommy I like to hold.” Ace gave me his version tonight, “My shoe is off. My foot is cold. My hat is new, my Mom is old.”
Thanks Dr. Seuss.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Get Thee To Church

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25.

It is good to go to the House of the Lord, it is good to stand in His presence and sing His praises. It is good to have fellowship with believers. As one who has been unable to partake of such a blessing for several (six) weeks due to illness in the family, I have been blessed immeasurably today by standing and partaking in worship.

Though I was unable to hear most of the sermon because I sit with 4 children under the age of 10, to be in God’s presence in His house was healing to me. It was a balm in my Gilead; it was salve to my woundedness of the past weeks. It was nourishment for my sin-sick and starving soul.

We have recently changed denominations so that my husband can seek ordination and become an Army Chaplain. The church we now attend has only been our home since Christmas time and yet, I was called at home and prayed for in our absence, we were considerably blessed by generous gifts given for our well-being. These are truly God’s people, and I missed standing with them to worship our God.

Singing hymns and reciting scripture together has blessed my soul and nourished me to move forward into the week ahead. I often take for granted when we are well, and I sometimes do not remember the blessing we have in this country; the chance to worship as we each see fit, the blessing of health so that we can all attend that church of our choice.

Do not neglect to meet together with a body of believers, your cup will runneth o’er.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Not Much of a Break

I think I may have figured out my computer problem. My hard drive was at 80% of full and it just kept crashing because it didn't have enough space to move around.

I purchased an external hard drive and loaded all my photos on it and then cleaned out duplicate files and defragged, and ran scan disk utilities. I felt so "techie" that I was able to do it without my Computer Whiz of a husband around. (Good training, I suppose.)

I still have to reload a virus software, but I'm safe now, no threat of lost photos or files. I have multiple backups, both on CD and on my EHD.

For anyone who cares, I use a wonderful program called Memory Manager from Creative Memories, I am a consultant and I've used this wonderful program for about 2 years now. With it, you can edit photos, crop, recolor, name them, write stories about them and then transfer them into another program called Storybook Creator and make beautiful hardbound scrapbooks. It is so much fun to play with.

OK, enough of the shameless plug, just wanted to let you know I'm back, can't live without my computer, so that was the first thing on my list to fix yesterday.

I had a wonderful post about putting together the compost tumbler with the kids. Chels and Miss Busy both took turns at the camera, and got some really cute pictures. I'll get that all together and post later today or tomorrow.

Bye for now, gotta go read my 3 chapters in Joshua. Out of Deuteronomy, that was tough reading!
 

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