Thursday, February 28, 2008


In my little baggie that I refer to as the "Poland Stash", I have a couple of checks, some cash, the receipts for small items toward the trip, and now a big one. Our printer has been replaced because the old one has had it. After running to Ally's house to pick up the support-raising packet Shelley sent so I could peruse a hard copy, and considering the number of print jobs in the immediate future, replacing the busted printer made sense. After spending a couple of hours printing self-addressed return envelopes and letters, I was doubly glad to be in my living room rather than discommoding my friend.
All those tiny little 10-12 point letters started to get a little blurry around midnight. I am hoping to send out support letters today for the Poznan trip today. Our wait was necessary until it the decision to work through Great Commission Ministries to raise the needed prayer coverage and funds was finalized.
I started working on the letter back in January, and a second version was born yesterday. Last night the two finally became one, but I found myself juggling tenses and a few weird repeated words that had to be weeded out. Hopefully, I found all the oopsies. I know there was one I missed right up through the 37th letter to print. I redid the preceding 37 letters because I just couldn't leave the error once I saw it. I wonder if there were other errors I did not catch despite repeated proof-reading?
I don't really think the letter expresses all the thoughts, emotions, expectations, hopes, and general sense of wonder I would like to have crammed into a single 81/2X11 sheet. The writing of this letter has been my biggest hang-up in the process of planning this trip. When yours comes, you can know it was an exhaustive process that involved input from multiple sources, prayer, and is not quite what I would hope it could be. It is done though. Once we finish up the reply cards and stamp the return envelopes, those letters will be winging their way via the trusty US Postal Service to a mailbox near you!
Hooray for the latest step towards praying in Poland!

Early afternoon update: We dropped off the big batch at the post office, and now we are going to... WAIT! It's going to be fun to watch the replies come back in over the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I was excited about telling Don that we would be receiving some plates I particularly like for our upcoming anniversary. (Yes, I have a fevered mind when it comes to dishes.) I asked him to guess what my good news was... and he said, "You have somewhere to send Poland funds!" Huh? Say what?!
In an unexpected twist to the Poland support-raising tale, Don was first to hear (at his men's Bible study group this morning) that the Operation Prayer Surge (OPS) trip to Poland will be raising our support through Great Commission Ministries (GCM). He heard before I did because Shelley Adler's Dad, Ralph, is in the same men's group. I was e-mailing Shelley to ask if the news was true as Shelley was preparing the information for the team so we can all embark on this next step toward our trip.
HOORAY!!! I'm very excited to move forward on this next step. Keep an eye out for your letters, and be sure I have an up-to-date address so you can join in this adventure!


Yesterday was a banner day. We have a new roof. My car has new tires, a new door-switch thingy to make my interior lights turn off when they are supposed to, and the wheels are all aligned so I don't wear out those new tires. Yay! I am thankful that we are blessed to have what is needed--- and far beyond necessity. God is so generous.
I heard from relatives I have been praying for and thinking of--- and they all had great news to share. My brother Jim has had his orders rescinded so he will be able to care for his wife Neely in her loss late Sunday of a very close aunt. God answered prayers for Jim to be able to comfort Neely in a spectacular way. The pair were with the aunt in her last day, the couple were together when the news came, and Jim is available to Neely in this week of preparation for the memorial. God is good, and He answered prayers for Jim to be with his wife with a resounding "Yes!" that went far beyond what I would even think to ask.
My Dad will not have to endure his quarterly treatment for his cancer this go round! He will be spared the indignities and exhaustion of the treatments--- and he is definitely in a celebratory mood. After hearing from my brother and my Dad yesterday, I was ready to just start indiscriminately answering the phone to see if there was more good news coming out of it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


"Mom... can I speak to you alone for a moment?" Katie's coming to that age where these words could be the harbingers of any of a million revelations. Many of those will be wonderful moments that I look forward to sharing with her. This was not one of those.
Miss Katie says she was headed out to recess today, but it was really cold outside. She met a group of friends in the hall who were headed to the library to play on the computers, and they told her the teachers were fine with that activity during recess. (The teachers are fine with library and computer privileges for children with permission.) Katie and friends did not have permission to be in the library or on the computers.
The girls drew the librarian's attention. She wanted to know if they had permission to be there. All the girls took off headed out to the playground while the librarian called the fifth grade teachers to ascertain why a gaggle of giggling fifth grade girls were loose in the library, and they all found themselves in hot water.
Once Katie completed her lengthy explanation (The above is greatly abbreviated, but you are missing nothing.), I had her repeat it for her Daddy's beneft in a brief form. We asked her what the consequences for "getting in trouble" will be. She said she didn't know. I told her I will be checking with her teacher to determine what consequences will be imposed at school, and to help us decide what consequences, if any, will be necessary at home. She seemed overly concerned about that teacher contact. (Anytime a kid doesn't want a teacher contacted, I know I really need to check in with one.) I suspect there is more to this tale...

Update: Uh-huh. Katie's tale is missing a few details. Her second version also glossed over some ticklish bits. Let's just say that recess was lost, and then she came home to discover that she had very few privileges remaining at home for the day. Hopefully, she will make a better decision next time time she is in a similar situation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Poland Video

The team headed to Poznan, Poland for Operation Prayer Surge has started getting to know one another via e-mail. We are all waiting to find out what we will do about raising support. Every way seems to dead-end or have a roadblock. I know the answer will be revealed in time, but I hope it will happen soon!
Check out the link for a video on the Gospel for Poland, the need for missionaries in Poland, and a bit of "what to expect" should YOU feel called to go, too!

Dream Big

Life is expensive. Driving ten year-old cars and living in a 20 year-old house means that you have to expect to have busted stuff. If the busted stuff does not get fixed, then a backlog of busted stuff starts to build up. Eventually the busted stuff starts to feel a little like a tidal wave headed right for the pocketbook. We tithe, so I know we will never go without anything we actually need. It's just the process of evaluating what to do with potential "extra" that's more of a gray area... especially when the some new emergency or other is ever-present because we choose to avoid replacing anything that still has life in it.

We are getting a new roof tomorrow. The roofing will commence tomorrow morning because the contractor somehow had an opening tomorrow even though he's booked for weeks out. I wrote the check today for our deductible and the cost of adding two new turbines to increase our energy efficiency, and I didn't flinch. Don handled the details. The necessary repairs like replacing heating and cooling equipment, water heaters, and the roof are not so much fun.

Don's car passed inspection, but mine needs a new pair of shoes. Ever buy tires for a giant gas-guzzling SUV capable of hauling two big dogs, three growing kids, and a pair of adults with all their stuff on interstate drives? Me either, but I will have done so within another 24 hours because I need the truck to pass inspection, too. New roof. New gigantic truck tires. Ouch.

Some day we will have a fully functional master bathroom again. I can envision a day when I do not shower in a room where a male child pee-pees behind the toilet periodically. That day will come just as soon as we quit buying other stuff like tires and a roof. I have a dream.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dining Room

We did it! We did it! We did it! Yay! We were, and are, rather pleased with our results.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Home Improvement

We painted the dining room navy five or six years ago. Today the day to paint over that deep pigment has arrived. Don will add a chair rail, and we have picked out two coordinating paint colors for the wall. We are applying the medium shade to the lower wall first. I thought it might be better to apply a primer coat to minimize the bleed-through of the deep blue shade, but that was not the plan. We are just going right ahead with the actual colors. A lighter shade from the same color card on the upper part of the wall will finish off the paint.
Don will install the chair rail following the paint application. We are facing the ugly reality that all the trim including a pair of doors and the ten-foot wide built-in are past-due for repainting. For the moment, we opted for the primed chair rail so we can put off that daunting job for a little bit longer. That's a job that is bound to expand since the doors open onto another room which has trim that connects to two other rooms with trim and matching doorways, and so on...
We have a couple of other day projects on our list, but today is all about the dining room.
3 hours later:
Paint is bad. Paint is very, very bad. Did I mention that our ceilings have this strange little niche that dips in about 2 mm where the ceiling meets the wall? That little blip is the cause of much craziness on my part each time we paint that room. Every time we take on one task, Don and I both see other tasks that need doing. It can become a little overwhelming. Did I mention that we had a herd of 12-13 year-old boys and a pair of first graders here, and Katie waiting on a phone call from Zach rather impatiently for the better part of the day? Lunch was a haphazard affair of "find-it-make-it". Don is putting the furniture back in the room now. The extra kids have gone home, Katie is at Zach's until 5:30, and I have no idea what to make for dinner. I wonder if we'll get the chair rail up in time for Easter... or Christmas?

Friday, February 22, 2008


Last night Maggie (our 2-year-old lab) was having some kind of problem with licking. She was licking herself... loudly. I woke up to the sounds of Maggie having some sort of amplified slurp-fest. Ewww. (I so need to change my pet peeve to dogs who lick themselves loud enough to wake me up.) Every time I would doze off, I would wake to the icky licking doggie. The final straw was waking to grouse at her the last time only to have the poor critter crate herself in response to my irritation. I decided to just give up on sleep. (Don said she quit the licking as soon as I got up.)
At 2:00 a.m. I found myself in the kitchen with a nice bowl of cocoa crunchies sugar-pop cereal. I checked e-mail and read a couple of the blogs I like to follow while listening to the Casting Crowns tunes I down-loaded largely due to Shelley Adler's ShelleyinPoland blog. As the songs she had referenced began to play through, I prayed for the long-term team in Poland, for the short-term team they will shortly be welcoming in early March, for resolution of our support issues, and several specific non-believers. I prayed through "Slow Fade" for Evan becuse it's where he's at this week. Despite yesterday's post and the circumstances of this week, my health was not on the prayer list last night other than in praise for the level of recovery that came yesterday afternoon following the prayer requests that went out. (THANK YOU!!!)
The first message to show up in my inbox this morning was from Shelley. She was responding to an e-mail I sent last night thanking a group of prayer-warriors who were a blessing yesterday as the worst of my symptoms just went away. "Oh Holly, that's wonderful news!! I didn't sleep well last night- I kept waking up and tossing and turning. So I spent a lot of that time praying for you. I guess God has his reasons for waking us up sometimes! May He get the glory! Thank you for sharing this with all of us." Amen, Sister!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Praise to our King

A Thorn in the Flesh 7Because of the surpassing greatness of the (A)revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a (B)thorn in the flesh, a (C)messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
8Concerning this I implored the Lord (D)three times that it might leave me.
9And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for (E)power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather (F)boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I identify with Paul's "thorn in the flesh". I know pain, but I would like God to remove it. I don't know about any particular revelations, but I do need to be kept humble because I have that all-too-human tendency to be full of myself. Don and I spent years praying for healing, but accepting the continued downward spiral of my health and ability to function. This is no pity party, but an acknowledgement of my own frailty (Oooh, that's the equivalent of a 4-letter word!).
It has been amazing to enjoy a body that works so well over the past nine months. To enjoy the freedom of movement that I admit to coveting in others for so long. To run for distances and cartwheel (!), to open jars and turn door knobs, not to be constantly ill, to travel a bit and enjoy climbing around in the hilly terrain of the Arkansas Boston mountains last summer. The freedom of the last months felt unprecedented despite years as a runner, gymnast, and basketball player. Shedding the weight (packed on thanks to a forced inactivity and seeking a certain amount of pleasure in food) was the outward symbol of the internal change. I have celebrated, and what a praise to God for this healing in answer to our continual prayers!
The past week has been difficult as so many of the past pains and conditions have reared their ugly heads again from the despised arthritis to the feeling of being trapped in this broken body as it entered into another major malfunction with the systemic reaction Tuesday to the IVIG. I suspect this is simply a distraction from the need to pray and to continue to seek Christ. It is too easy to turn my attention inward, and to accept misery rather than be filled with joy and contentment.
Today and yesterday I picked up that cane that is such a symbol in my mind of weakness and went for a walk with Don. It hurt, but not enough to give up. (Not that we went far, but the point was that we went--- not the distance covered.) I wrestle with fear that I will be unable to make the flying leap to climb on a plane and fly 5,ooo+ miles to an unknown place to spend a week with the missionaries there who are committed, yet in need of encouragement and prayer, to continue to share Christ's love with the Poles. I will praise God for this return to circumstances I deplore simply because any accomplishments will serve to further His glory. (I will also be back to praying for a renewal of the precious freedom I have so enjoyed recently!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


"Ah, potty training. Those halcyon days are behind us, but it doesn't feel like it was all that long ago that I was wrestling Erin into a pair of Snow White (the character, not the color) panties while she howled and flailed her plump little arms around for her discarded diaper. Oh, yeah. The good ol' days. She did potty train FULLY (night and day) in under three days. Katie took 2 weeks. Evan still is not fully trained at night. I am so glad ___ is a girl. Common Mommy Tales and my own experience both point to girls as being easier to train. The world is a beautiful place, and it is just full of potties for her to explore in the coming days. Have fun with that... hee!"
The preceding is an excerpt from an e-mail sent to a mother who is in the thick of parenting. Somebody somewhere did studies looking for a link between potty training and child abuse. I'm not sure why a study was needed. Anyone with less than perfect patience who has been left holding yet another pair of soiled drawers and contemplating the mess could have explained the link. (I am not in any way approving of child abuse ever.) I understand how a parent could reach the end of their rope while attempting to teach a child the very basic act of toileting and proper hygiene in the loo. Whether it takes three days or three hundred, it can feel like forever.
Erin was really my favorite during the potty training period because she really caught on to the idea quickly. (Please note use of the word "quickly"--- not easily.) She was well past capable of going potty on the toilet when she finally gave up her diapers. We had a battle royale one morning after Evan and Katie were gone to big school for the day. I wrestled Erin into the Disney princess panties as described previously. That kid had some serious lungs, and the neighbors all knew somethig was up at our house. I plunked her little trainer potty down in the middle of the living room, and informed Little Bit that she (oh-yes-you-are-Miss-Thing-get-back-here) would be sitting on the potty until something came out of her for me to wash down the toilet like all the other 3-year-old mommies were doing. (To better understand the value of emptying the equivalent of a chamber pot, try spending eight years years elbow-deep in diaper duty as one child follows another.) I then proceeded to park her little rounded caboose on her musical throne. (It played songs. I did not note any music coming from Erin, but that little girl sure could wail.) I flipped on PBS and proceeded to stand over my still defiant 3 year old while she hunkered down on the potty to glare at the t.v.
I went into the kitchen to fix Erin a great big drink. That seemed like a good way to end this little impasse. While I was out of the room, Erin hid her Snow White panties. Apparently, this was an insufficient protest, because she went and put on a fresh diaper. ("Erin Elizabeth! Where are those panties?! Where are they? YOU picked them out. YOU WILL WEAR THOSE PANTIES! YOU WILL SIT ON THAT POTTY AND MAKE.) I tear the living room apart until I finally find the panties buried in the couch. I put the panties back on Erin taking away yet another diaper. I take the package of diapers I was planning to use for nights, naps, and trips out to places with nasty potties and place the package in the dumpster in full view of my lovie.
Back to the living room where I proceed to ply my stubborn girl with beverages in hopes of forcing the issue. She sits on her potty. She glares at the t.v., then at me. She gets up and does some strange little jig by capering around the potty while waving her arms and half-howling/half-singing with her heading wobbling around. (The potty does not burst into flame. Her voodoo dance of death has failed to rid her of the potty.) I give Erin more to drink.
Her belly is now swollen with the excess fluid. I wonder if her eyes really will turn yellow, and will we end up in the pediatrician's office with my daughter about to explode? I question whether I am really as stubborn as she is, and is it truly that big a deal if she goes down the aisle at her wedding in a Pamper? Just as I am beginning to crack, Little Bit shoots me a look of sheer venom before proceeding to fill that little potty with enough pee-pee that there is absolutely no way I will ever be able to get the potty cup to the toilet without spilling and sloshing. I do a little dance and fully congratulate her on her obvious brilliance in making tee-tee on the potty. She is thoroughly unimpressed with my enthusiasm. She decides to never wear diapers again, and has remarkably few accidents even at night. She also refused to ever wear the Snow White panties again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Infusion day is here again. My nurse Cathy should arrive sometime in the next hour. I am not exactly looking forward to this infusion. I suspect that pumping up my immune system is not going to lead to great joy since said immune system is currently whacking away at my joints. It's been a nice long year with fewer flares of the thoroughly disliked arthritis. I hope this one will pass, and that it will be a very log time before I have another one. I am definitely loving the heated throw that we bought while the heater was broken earlier this winter. It's like wrapping myself up in a giant heating pad.
I have not enjoyed having to explain my health issues to the new friends we have made over the last year. I'm never sure if I am giving too much infortmation or not enough. I do not want to leave someone with unanswered questions, but I do not want to overwelm them with unecessary details. I feel more at ease with long-time friends and family who "get it". I so appreciate the people who will offer the explanation to the well-meaning questioner, know that opening a door or a jar is too much to ask, and anticipate the help that will be needed before I get stuck.
Sunday was humbling because I was cruising into the church with the despised cane that has been blessedly unused since last year. It was very good once we finally made it into the building to be warmly welcomed by Mike and Abigail when it was such a trial just to get out the door, drive to the church, and traverse the giant parking lot with three kids trying to "help" Mom. I found it entirely satisfying and appropriate to collapse into a chair just as the worship leaders launched into the line "Hear I am to worship".

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pound of Flesh

Okay, so probably not so much a "pound of flesh" as way less than an ounce. Don and I had our dermatologist visits today. She picked out yucky spots on each of us. His is a big ol' mole off his chest that is probably nothing to cause later concern because it has been there forever. (If that one is made up of "changing" cells, then he would probably have many more. Let's just say he's had it for the last going on 14 years, and I have not seen it change one iota.) My spot is a teensy little thing off the back of my knee. (Enough yucky spots have been removed from me in the last few years that it's getting harder for her to find anything big enough to bother removing.) We made an appointment for two weeks out to return to the office for our pathlogy reports. Hopefully we don't hear the "m" word again, but if she does turn up another spot of the nasty melanoma then she'll just have to remove it.
My son has just swung a tied off sack of Maggie's doody onto the roof. *sigh* I will be ending on that slightly ridiculous note to go assist... er, watch Don retrieve said doody.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Thirty-four. I tend to hope for "quiet" birthdays. That went out the window when we awoke to a particularly energetic hail storm of quarter- to golfball-sized balls of ice pounding our home first thing yesterday morning. (This will make it more worthwhile to have an insurance adjustor look at last week's hail damage.) A call from Mom and Dad brought some elaboration on the description of Dad's Valentine's truck (Seriously, it's red and he bought it on V-Day.), "Happy Birthday!" wishes from the people who actually remember the birth day, and the news that my brother Jim will be sent to Baghdad. A card came in the mail from my in-laws with sweet words, good wishes, and a check that I immediately applied to my "Poland Stash" along with Don's earnings from playing a gig the night before at Bullwinkle's. I blew out the birthday candle inserted into my "birthday pie" and crawled back into bed. Yesterday was largely a day of forced rest thanks to a flare of my Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Miss Kitas

I used to half-way joke that I needed a wife. The list of wonders that described the Proverbs 31 wife did not describe me. It scared me. What lunatic came up with that list? I was one of those ladies who clutched the reference to the Proverbs 31 woman's servants as an explanation and an excuse.
We've studied that excellent wife at length several times over our decade of abiding friendship, and I am pretty sure that I see her reflected in my friend's life and testimony. I have had to shake my head in wonder when she has said "I don't know how to evangelize." Oh, but you do. It's in your life. I see Christ in you. Thanks.


The title of the Willow Tree piece is "Mother and Son". It is a birthday gift from Evan. He selected this representation of a position we have held thousands of times in his twelve-going-on-thirteen years. To purchase the statuette, Evan spent his own money that he was saving to purchase a video game. (According to my calculations, he will not have enough cash to buy the game when it comes out next month. This is a major sacrifice for him after counting down to the game's release for the last six months.) What a truly humbling gift. (Yes, there was a teary-eyed Mama at our house tonight.)
We had a laugh that the boy in the figurine is short enough not to smash his Mama's port (ouch.). The slouching stance with the hands in the pockets is all Evan though. He shoves those hands down into his pockets sometimes to try to keep out of trouble for picking at people or objects when he is feeling fidgety. Don says the Mama is smoothing the boy's hair--- a fairly common motion around here that usually results in "Now, go WASH your hair!" I cannot help but run through memories of stroking that hair over the years of him laughing, screaming, needing an unknowable something, crying, sleeping, and just generally being Evan for whom expressive words do not come easily.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I've heard it said that "If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans." I like that. I am a world-class planner. I love my lists. I have lists for everything. Some are actual hard copies, others are stuck in Word on the computer, and many more are just in my head. The ones in my head are those I am considering today. I would like to start making Poland lists, but it is not time to do that yet. Even though my calendar says that it ought to be time, the reality is that there are too many unanswered questions for any further action toward travel to be taken. I am ready for it to be time because that would help me feel like I am DOING something. All the more reason for there to be a lack of revelation since this is not about me. God tends to remove all other options so I will pray; otherwise, I am easily distracted by the action points and planning sessions that I like too well.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


The greeting card, jewelry, and floral industry plague a.k.a. Valentine's Day is upon us again. Demonstrate your love for __fill in the blank__ with pricey heart-shaped thingamajigs! I am whole-heartedly (Ugh, I typed heart.) in favor of taking the time to express one's love for others. That's a great plan. Jesus did exactly that over and over again. It just bugs me to be inundated with hearts, flowers, cards, stuffed aimals, and other pricey disposables gew-gaws because today is a date set aside to remind people to demonstrate affection.
Don mentioned that his men's group was discussing the necessity of providing an appropriate gift for their wives to mark February 14th. Don was in the rather unique position of saying that a bouquet or arrangement of flowers would bring on paroxysms of grief and a spate of recriminations from his wife. One of the other guys, a fellow who has actually gone the distance of sending troubadors to serenade his wife at work, wondered if I really meant it when I said I wanted no gifts today. Don explained that I am just wired to be a penny-pincher so that buying flowers on the day of the year when they are most expensive does not demonstrate my incalculable worth to him, but rather says, "You really don't get me!"
So, how do we avoid the Valentine's Day Massacre of love? We don't. We have fun with it. Today's meals will feature heart-shaped red, white, and pink food. Breakfast consisted of pink-tinted eggwhites with diced red bell pepper under melted swiss cheese served alongside cinnamon rolls with pink icing and sliced apple. Dinner will see a dish of spaghetti including heart-shaped pasta on the table. (It's fun to think up foods in the appropriate colors and shapes, and the kids love this hold-over from their toddler days when I used the technique to teach them their colors and shapes.) The females in our household are all wearing pink and red, and both girls are dressed in Valentine tees from Gram & Papa for their class parties. We will bypass the worst excesses of this day, but we will seek to demonstrate love for one another today.
As for the flowers and candy, Don showed up with a single red rose and a York peppermint patty on a nonspecific Wednesday morning a couple of weeks ago. He does these things "just because", and they mean more to me that way.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Oh, boy. Katie has experience that says she is appealing. Her Daddy, Grandad, and Papa have all told her in word and deed that she is lovely and loveable. She is comfortable in her own skin, and relatively pleased with the reflection in her mirror. (That's certainly rare enough for females of any age, much less the awkward age characterized by experimental hairdos, orthodontia, and general gawkiness!) She has begun to experiment a bit with her appearance and is attempting to develop an idea of what she thinks about boys.

We have, for example, Zach who lives down the street. Recently Katie discovered that Zach is not immune to her manipulative wiles. When Zach failed to sign on to participate in the exhibition square dance group Katie was in, she agreed to be Will's partner. Zach belatedly signed on to be in Katies group. Katie informed us with pleasure that "Zach's a little jealous because I am dancing with Will!" Eh? What happened to the Zach of "We're just friends."? We like Zach, and we were planning on him being the "just friends" boy who kept other boys away. Now, I am a bit more wary of young Zach. Jealousy does not sound like the response of someone who is interested in being "just friends".

Inevitably there is a first crush. I am referring to the somewhat obsessive interest in someone utterly unobtainable. I suspect Katie has fallen under the spell of the big brother of one of her friends. Don and I have both noted that Katie is quoting him on a regular basis. She is unusually aware of his whereabouts in group settings. As first crushes go, he'll do. He's a Christian, a musician, and he hails from a family we admire. More importantly, Katie only appears to register on his radar as one of his little sister's friends. That garners her a nod or "Hello" that will continue to tell her she is worthy of notice. She's over-the-moon, he's oblivious, and I'm rolling my eyes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Customer Service

Evan was seen at a local E.R. on October 2nd last year for a psychiatric evaluaton. We later received a bill for "Pharmacy" and "Emergency Treatment". Since I had no memory of the boy being given any medication, I checked with Don who also failed to recall so much as an aspirin passing the boy's lips. I then checked with the insurance company and the hospital in question to try to determine what medication was included in the bill. The hospital was billing a negotiated charge of $221.37 for generic Levaquin (a fairly hefty broad-spectrum antibiotic) that was administered via I.V. Do you really think that both parents failed to note the I.V. administration of an antibiotic to a minor who was showing no sign of infection?!
I went round and round with the hospital over this bill which failed to reflect either accurate charges or previous payment made at the time of Evan's visit. I filed disputes which were never answered. I offered documentation of the boy's follow-up psychiatric care by a medical doctor who at no time noted any sign of infection. I called and sat on hold for more time than we originally wasted in the E.R. I finally gave up at Christmas and just sent the amount we were being billed. The hospital had no difficulty cashing our check.
Today another bill arrived with a date of service for October 2nd. The hospital wants another $47.95 because they negotiated with our insurance company for more money than they were originally paid for services not received. The new bill did not reflect the last payment of $64.41 sent out by our bank and documented on-line as being cashed over a month prior to the date of the latest bill. The service representative I reached after negotiating with the auto-attendant and holding for five minutes was unable to retrieve the records because her system was down. (The system is always down unless you would like to make a payment by phone.) She did find a record of my filing a dispute regarding the pharmacy charges despite that system failure. She could find no record of any resolution. I can call back in 14 business days.
I called the insurance company that requires reams of documentation before paying for services we need and do receive. Although they paid for $199.24 worth of medication that was not given, they can only file a customer complaint. I left a phone number where I can be reached in case they have any questions.
Only in medicine can a business get away with charging for services not received with total impunity. I don't have a receipt that details the charges that should have applied to Evan's visit. I do at least have documentation through our bank of all payments that should be applied to Evan's account. I will send one more payment because the account is aging through all of this so that any balance not paid garners the risk of the account being sent to a collection agency.
We are already enjoying that possibility with the outstanding amount billed by the facility that treated Evan for the week or so following this E.R. visit. That facility is being penalized by our insurance company for not precertifying additional days of treatment despite my double-checking and asking the patient representative about the need to gain authorization for the additional days. The insurance company does not pay the penalty amount, but it also does not state that the patient is not responsible for the penalty payment. (The patient cannot precertify the visit. That has to be done by the treatment provider.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I feel like I can't think straight or focus. Either ADD is contagious or there's just too much going on this weekend. Elementary and middle school dances. Fix Katie's hair. Don't touch Erin's hair. Son, don't dance like your Mama. Sleep-overs. Don playing at church. A worship arts conference that spanned two days with it's high point occuring in the final hour. Jim leaves tomorrow for San Antonio. Evan wants to go to Game Stop. Grilled cheese. Argument over whether a character is the Grim Reaper or Grim Ripper. We're out of bread again. The boy having a melt-down. We need to pay for childcare. We have to drop off/pick up ______.

This week's Bible study did not really stick. The message this morning went in one ear and out the other. I am not holding out high hopes for tonight's discussion group despite an afternoon nap and a very long walk in an effort to both recharge my battery and discharge excess energy. I'm not sure how I can be simultaneously drained and overloaded. It seems like the two should be mutually exclusive.

Good News: Operation Prayer SURGE is now up to FIVE people.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Sometimes I don't really see people. Last night I slipped into my role as stylist, hairdresser, photographer, and chauffeur for the girls as they prepared for the big Valentine's Dance they attend each year with their Daddy. He is teaching them that any young man worth their time will open doors for them, treat them with respect, and find them utterly captivating. They are precious every single day, but last night they were just so very much "Katie" and "Erin" that I could not fail to see their loveliness. They were beautiful.

Katie was completely dressed an hour and half before it was time to go. She wanted her hair styled in an up-do with pieces framing her face. (It took longer to adjust the pieces of hair framing Katie's face than it took Erin to be ready to go out the door. ) We took a zillion pictures with Katie playing to the camera. She pouted, smiled, laughed, and offered a moody pre-teen stare for the camera lense.

Erin had rough time getting ready to go out. She was upset about having to pull her dress over her head because there was no zipper. She cried over difficulty putting on her tights, but she did not want help. She cried because she lost one of the sparkly crystal magnetic earrings she had put on so carefully before pulling her dress over her head. She cried because her eyes were red from crying. The tears finally abated when Erin was presented with an old necklace from Mom's jewelry box that would normally be off limits. Erin wanted the picture-taking to be over as quickly as possible.

As I proceeded to snap pictures of Katie in head-to-toe red and Miss Erin in her silver and black get-up, I was struck by their loveliness. They are stunning. They kind of know it, too. They are not conceited. They are simply confident.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Yay! My passport came today. One small step, but it is progress nonetheless. I was warned of delays that could cause a wait of 6-8 weeks or more because passports are now necessary for travel between the U.S. and Mexico or Canada. I am pleased to see mine arrive in a brief 15 days! Now we continue the wait for a church willing to handle the funds for the Poland prayer trip...

Wrongness Rebuttal

Today we purchased a new microwave. The microwave will replace our ancient busted built-in unit. I was not happy with the proposed cost of delivery and installation on low-priced microwaves compared to the discounted charges on high-end models. We bought the less expensive machine to avoid me hating the thing forever because it cost more than I was comfortable with spending. I figured the best protest was to not purchase the more expensive installation and delivery.
I suggested that Don put it in with the assistance of any one of several people we know who might have some experience with this sort of task. We called my Dad who said the job was not too bad, but that it would be good to have help. I again named off a couple of people who could help. Don even mentioned the idea of having my Dad help out which is great except that Dad and the microwave are in different states.
Almost as soon as we arrived home with the new microwave, Don began to remove the old unit. That involved figuring out how the thing was attached to the wall. I figure if one does not know how something is attached to a wall, then one should not attempt to take it off said wall. I e-mailed out prayer requests to his sister and a couple of friends because I protested the he-manly pride evident in not asking anyone else for help, and I figured I would be challenged to not share my opinion.
I wanted to be supportive. I was pretty sure he was entirely capable of the task at hand, but I also know that he had zero experience with installing appliances--- especially appliances that hang on the wall over our range and require "two person installation". He said I had no faith in him. I just wanted there to be a really well-thought-out plan that would not involve me. Don hauled off and leapt into action to fix my busted microwave for me. More than once, I offered my counsel regarding asking for help (and waiting for availability of one of the other guys), but he opted to immediately install the microwave over the range. (This is the sort of thing that drives me crazy. I hate being ignored.)
Heaven help us, he did it himself. Prayers were answered when neither of us were injured and nothing was broken. My desire to silently assist him when asked and otherwise stay out of the way was scrapped, and we both made a couple of sniping comments before each of us wisely chose to drop the subject. I still question the appropriateness of me as a helper for this project. I don't think this is quite what God meant by "I will make him a helper." Fortunately, Don was right and the microwave was installed without incident despite my assistance. So there.

Severe Weather

Yesterday was a weird weather day. (Not that weird weather is all that unusual in Texas.) In the wee hours of the morning it's raining buckets complete with thunder until the sun rises on a cold and yucky day. It warms up a bit through the morning. In the hour past noon, the sky begins to take on a steely look. Assorted hail from pea-sized to golf-ball sized rains from the sky in a sudden shower that turns to torrential rain after about ten minutes of bouncing icy balls off of every exposed surface. (Yes, Daddy, that new hood you and Don put on my truck has all new hail damage.) An hour later we have a bright, clear, sunny afternoon. At that point, I just quit paying attention to the weather outside.
It wasn't just here though. My Mom reported that while Dad (and his dog Belle) are safe, tornadoes swept away both gas stations and the McDonald's in the Arkansas town of Gassville which was without power, and Clinton, AR, the home of Mother's late paternal grandmother, looks like a war zone. As Mother put it, Dad was "having snacks with a bunch of old men" when 80 mph winds whipped through Bull Shoals where they, along with my Aunt Retha and Uncle Randy, have made their homes. (Gassville is in between the towns where my cousins live near Bull Shoals, and my mom is working out of state so she's relaying Dad's reports.)
Dad has no internet, and his phone service is a little unreliable with some cell service towers damaged. The majority of assorted relatives have reported they are safe from those in Arkansas on into Kentucky where Don's sister Cindy and husband Oren have had two days of tornadoes.
All said, we have good reason to be celebrating a bit this morning with all safe and sound despite nature's temper tantrums.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Good Stuff

Sylvia rocks, and so does her yummy soup. Chicken noodle soup is a needful thing when one has a yucky head cold that has grown nasty little friends to make an infecton. (Ew.) There is no chicken noodle soup that is quite as good as Sylvia's soup. I have offered to fake illness for that soup, and I am not alone. It is worth being sick to receive this ambrosia. "Soup is good food." has no real meaning until a spoonful of this stuff has passed through one's lips. Yes, it really is that good.
Sylvia's soup is one of the specialties that come to mind when I think of the cooks I really appreciate. (Erin prefers Miss Sylvia's fajitas, but Erin doesn't like soup so I choose to disregard her vote.) Denise has that to-die-for blueberry bread. Ally makes phenomenal jerk chicken. Donna started a spinach dip recipe that has now been widely adopted. My mom's "Shower Salad" and my mother-in-law's sweet potatoes are both pretty well perfect. Daddy's chicken & dumplings and fajitas. There are other dishes that these folks make that are really yummy, but these are the goodies that no one else makes just exactly the way they do even when a recipe is shared.


Evan received a book for Christmas, loved it, and bought the sequel himself. The books are about a kid hero who is being kept from his warrior powers by a lady who medicates him. His parents don't realize the medicine is squelching the mighty hero-ness right out of the boy, so he has to find a way to keep from taking the medicine. Uh-oh.
Don and I kept meaning to run Evan's psychiatric medication prescription to the pharmacy for filling over the weekend. It wouldn't hold him for long because this one was for the dose he took prior to his last dose increase. I have irresponsibly misplaced that one... or so I thought. (Maybe I did. It would not surprise me either way.) I planned to take him for an appointment to ask for a new prescription in the interim. The weekend passed with Don and I consistently leaving the house without the prescription.
Don wanted the prescription filled yesterday when I made a run out to pick up some necessary items for Katie (who woke at 3 o'clock in the morning in the grip of a stomach flu) and myself (trying to function despite standard-issue sinus infection that is trying to move into my chest). The prescription was nowhere to be found. I just wanted to crawl back in bed, so I went on to the store without the scrip thinking I could have it filled along with the antibiotic that was surely in my future. After searching the house from one end to the other, Evan's prescription turned up. It was torn into pieces.
I will be driving my son to a doctor's appointment at 9:00 this morning so he can be given another prescription. Prescriptions outside of appointments incur a $100 fee, and the boy was about due to go in anyway. I sincerely hope this will be a quick appointment because the boy will be missing school, and I don't really need to be out running around.

Monday, February 4, 2008


February 4, 1972 was the date of my parents' wedding. They married in Clovis, New Mexico. The reception involved riding around in a car with my Aunt Susie and Uncle Paul with champagne chilling over ice in a minnow bucket. (This probably explains my own lack of dreams about a big wedding.) The minnow bucket is my favorite detail of my parents' wedding aside from the actual act of committing to one another. I have no idea what they were thinking. Actually, I have no idea what any bride or groom is ever thinking other than "We're in love." The catch is that the happy couples are usually referring to romantic love rather than the more challenging, but also more enduring, agape love. I wonder if Mom or Dad had the slightest inkling what the future would hold for them? What dreams and hopes did they have individually and together--- and did the "his" and "her" versions match up to fit into "ours"?
My perspective on the union is skewed. I see them through the eyes of a child. My vision is limited to that of an observer. Those observations have colored my ideas and expectations. I expect my marriage to have some over-the-moon wonderful moments and some rock-bottom lows with plenty of in-between days. I expect to thoroughly dislike Don on occasion while loving him unreservedly at all times. I expect each of us to make mistakes that affect the other. We invest ourselves in our children, but we will not lose ourselves in them. We will give them wings, and welcome them back to the nest when they need a place to land. We are building a life full of uncertainties, plans, good intentions, heartaches, triumphs, joys, disappointments, laughter, excitement, and monotony.


My brother is preparing for possible deployment to Iraq so he can go build needed roads, runways, and the like. He builds "infrastructure". He will head for the base nearest his home city next Monday. There, he can expect to finally receive word whether or not he will be one of the troops shipping out. He wants to go. This is what he trained to do, and he is a good builder. The concern is that he will be building in places where people might be shooting at him or blowing up the ground he is attempting to build stuff on at any given time.
He was calling to ask if I would pray for his wife's Aunt Werma who has been dying very slowly of melanoma for years. With Jim planning to leave soon, he is thinking of the wife he will leave behind. The greatest damage he can perceive headed her way is the eventual death of this beloved aunt. He can't head that off or protect her from the grief that accompanies death for those left behind. He is, in his heart-of-hearts, hoping it will come while he is still here to accompany his wife to the funeral and to comfort her.
I will pray for him, for her, and for Werma (Hey, I didn't name her. It's a nickname anyway.). I find a similarity in considering the very different calls we seek to answer that could carry us each far from home and the resulting desire to prepare for deployment while also protecting loved ones who will remain behind for a time. Like Jim, I watch for the days to fall away from the calendar until it is time for my own deployment to take a temporary place amongst those serving far from home.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Mmmhmmm. Our daughters engaged in what Don & I suspect was a mock battle this morning over breakfast. Immediately following this freakishly loud episode over milk (of all things), Erin asked if we would be moving now. Ahhh. That explains it. The blow-up that took place day before yesterday drove Don and I to temporarily consider breaking with our plan to stay put in our home until late 2010. The obvious benefit to abandoning our plan would be to provide more space and afford a bit more privacy to everyone in the household.
This 1,480 square foot house felt huge when Don and I moved in with our infant daughter and 2 year-old son. A decade later it's feeling a little tight at times with three growing children ages 7-12. a pair of labs, and an attack cat. It was going into the 10 year break-down when we moved in. It is now in the midst of the 20 year break-down. Adding to the fun is the dysfunctional master bathroom shower that allows all five of us to share the hall bathrom shower.
Rather than "putting our own stamp on it", as we once naively imagined, our decor has shifted slowly from "Early Childhood" to "Maximizing Storage" in response to the stuff belonging to all the people and animals residing in our home. We refuse to move because our stuff needs more space. We organize, clean out, toss out, and donate stuff regularly to minimize the amount of stuff sharing our living space.
My point is that we are not exactly a challenge for a salesperson with a shiny, new home that would provide a separate bedroom and closet for every child, plus one for Mom & Dad. Five bathroom sinks mean imagining not ever hearing about someone spitting toothpaste on someone else again. Despite the dual lures of all that luxurious space and a price reduced (thanks to a string of underqualified would-be buyers) offering us an opportunity to live in a home we can probably afford (in a neighborhood we cannot possibly afford), we hesitate to take on a larger mortgage obligation than we currently carry.
Our home, despite its warts, comes with the benefit of a very small mortgage payment. Don and I can easily imagine our current medical expenses jumping up enough next year to match the proposed increase in mortgage payment required for the new house. We can also picture ourselves shopping for a car payment, er, pre-owned vehicle in the not-too-distant future. We rapidly dismissed the idea of trying to move, much to the girls' disappointment. We want to avoid the possibility of a financial nightmare brought to life by a dreamhouse.