Monday, March 31, 2008
I have incorporated Shelley's e-mail recipients from an early e-mail regarding her Dad's health into the updates that I send out on the family's status. In my inbox was a message from "Amy" who is a total stranger to me, but a friend of Shelley's who stated that she has been praying for Ralph, Shelley, and the whole family throughout their ordeal. I thought that was pretty cool, so I proceeded to e-mail several other people to share how quickly God had bolstered my waning commitment and encouraged me to continue serving in a communication capacity as part of the prayer chain lifting up the Adler family. As I sent that message, the inbox went ping yet again. This time, the message was from a woman who attends our former church home, but who I have not met in person, saying simply that she is praying with us.
I love it when God shows his hand so clearly upon us. The real wonder came hours later. I was at church when my phone rang. I saw that it was Don, and I answered hoping that he was not calling with bad news about Ralph's condition. Ha! Well, me of little faith! Don was calling to tell me that my inbox had again signalled a new message. This one was of the wonderful news that Ralph's body temperature is normal and the family is waiting for a doctor's report to give more information on his amazing rally from this morning's low with a resistant staph infection that had him wrapped in warming blankets because his body temperature was only 94 degrees or the previous report of a sky-rocketing temperature over 103! Whatever news comes next, I am thankful for a hands-on, involved God who truly knows every hair on my head and Ralph's.
Even before the housing and lending "credit crisis" we were a country that was in debt. Our government is in debt. Our students are mortgaging their future to credit card lenders. Families and individuals are hobbled by debt from a few hundred dollars to staggering amounts with multiple digits on either side of the comma. Minimum payments are not going to make the problem go away anytime soon.
Our personal household debt grew for well over a decade. Unsecured debt feeds on itself with the help of creditors offering small payments that may or may not cover the interest being charged on money already spent even as limits on spending spiral higher allowing the foolish consumer (that would be us) to dig the hole a little deeper each month. It was "too depressing" to actually tally up the total of our credit card debt. Making the monthly payments ate our disposable income so that necessities like diapers went on plastic with a promise to pay.
Our monumental acts of financial mayhem included having a card paid off, only to run it back up. The greatest act of sheer foolishness was the acceptance of an offer to "consolidate" our smaller debts into a lump sum so we only had to pay the one creditor instead of many, and the one would give us a better interest rate. That would have been great if we had closed the accounts that we transferred. We didn't. We ran the existing accounts back up until we were gasping for air and drowning in minimum payments that threatened to exceed our monthly income. Two years ago, we finally reached our breaking point, and decided that no matter what we would climb out of this pit.
Last week we reached a threshhold. On our 14th wedding anniversary, our debt repayment plan began to "snowball". The first account was paid off. The monthly payment from that account is now added to the monthly payment on another account. When the balance on that account reaches $0, the money used for that payment will be added to the current amount allocated for another account. The first payment has crested the seemingly insurmounatable heights of our debt with the pay-off and elimination of the first account. Eventually, the little snowball that started rolling last week will grow as it makes the downhill journey toward financial freedom from the bondage of unsecured credit.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
The card play, video game play, cake, plastic sword and light saber practice at our local park, and a round of High School Musical sing-along (to which none of them will ever actually admit althugh it as primarily a kindness to our youngest daughter), and eventually a few hours of forced sleep see us to the end of the party. The parents will be arriving to retrieve their boys-to-men (none of whom called me "Evan's Mom", but all of whom used the "Mrs." form of address which ensures their invitation to return again) in about twenty minutes.
Friday, March 28, 2008
At noon, Bella was not fine. She was yowling and purring. (A sick or frightened kitty will purr to comfort itself... Purring not just a contented kitty noise.) Bad Bella was also badly off balance and her eyes looked weird. We called the vet with our suspicions, and then made the drive over to the office with Bella howling down the moon over the car ride.
We are hoping Bella ingested less than a whole capsule because one capsule of that medication will be fatal to a 7.75 pound cat. She is holding her own right now with an I.V. to keep her blood pressure up. If she survives this misadventure, the boy will likely be read the riot act on being VERY, VERY careful to always close the lid on his meds securely. If she doesn't survive, we will be doing everything possible to avoid the topic of exactly what made Bella "sick".
Despite the craziness, we have a batch of Evan's buddies coming for an overnight as a belated celebration of Evan's 13th birthday. I am having difficulty giving the planned party the necessary attention when there are so many difficult situations confronting those we love. I'm not feeling 100% either thanks to damp weather that plays mean games with my joints and a cough that won't go away.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Buckle up, OPS Team. We're in for a wild ride if this week can be taken as an indicator of the level of spiritual warfare we face.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The line between "need" and "want" should be a simple enough thing. "Need" is requires for survival. Physical need assail us with signals for water, food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Emotional needs cry out to be loved and to be part of a community. Spiritual needs tend to not crop up while our physical or emotional needs are unmet. If one's belly is empty, there is unlikely to be a strong desire for contemplation of philosophy or theology.
Today I am rather thankful for the current blessings I see in our marriage. I'm glad to wake each morning to a bed vacated by my husband who has probably already made coffee, and even more glad to return to said bed for a good night's rest at the end of each day. Our kids have all reached the point where they can feed, clothe, toilet, and entertain themselves. They can even cook, do laundry, and usually remember to flush the toilet. (Better still, our kids have attained this level of independence before our parents are old enough to begin losing it.) All three children can be disciplined with logic. We have reached the point of the ultimate in parental freedom--- we can drive away from our house while the kids are inside without having to either arrange a babysitter or face possible prosecution. We're progressing rather nicely toward not being indebted. God has blessed us so richly, that we can give to others. We have great friends. Life is good.
Here's to the past fourteen years and the one just beginning to unfold.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I wonder sometimes if it is the coffee I like, or all the good company that seems to go along with it? I do notice that my favorite meals (breakfast and dessert) both seem tailor-made for coffee. (That might be influencing me a bit.) Or it could be the ghosts of Vacation Bible School and Women's Bible Studies past complete with Sylvia or Denise appearing with Frappucinos. It might go back even farther than that though.
My parents had no specific age at which coffee became a beverage option. They did set a single expectation: Drink it black, or you don't really want it. I think fourteen was likely the magic age, but it could have been fifteen. I know we were living in Midland because I can just picture my Dad sitting at the kitchen table in that house with the white on white cabinets and counters and miles of pastel wall paper. He would sit at that table with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. I can remember being less-than-impressed with the coffee, but liking sitting with my Dad during his morning ritual so I held my cup and tried to drink the stuff without actually tasting it.
Don and I wasted many nights during our high school years sitting in Carrow's (similar to a Denny's but with Strawberry Pie every Spring). We wasted so many nights sitting in the back swilling mediocre coffee, that they gave me a job on weekend nights my senior year in high school. The first time we ran into each other after high school, we swung by Carrow's for coffee to catch up.
Flashing forward to the year after Evan was born, I would get off the night shift at the hospital early on Saturday morning. With only eight hours available to snatch sleep, a meal, and a shower before my next 16-hour shift was due to start, I would make my way to Mom and Dad's house to share a cup of coffee with Dad before racing home to fall into bed. As our children arrived, Don and I would find ourselves with a child-free night thanks to grandparental visits. Those nights often found us with a travel Scrabble game spread out on the table at an IHOP or Denny's fueled by the caffeine and a desire to just spend a little child-free time together. Jumping forward another dozen years, on a trip to visit Mom and Dad on their mountain in the woods, 4:30 a.m. would find Dad and I with our dogs sitting on the screened porch listening to the sounds of the woods around us, talking about nothing, and enjoying the morning's coffee.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
He discovered today that Lowe's is offering a 10% discount on flooring through March 26th. So when I joked about our icky carpet to a friend on the phone this afternoon, he shot out of the bedroom to show me the ad. Half an hour later, we checked out with enough flooring to replace our super-icky bedroom carpet. We fed everyone an early dinner, and started to clear the bedroom of furnishings. Hopefully, the new floor will be done by tomorrow night.
Our house seems to be in on the overkill plan. It has needed plumbing, roofing, extermination (Acrobat Ants only sound cute. Yuck.), painting, weeding, fertilizing, and is now coming up on regrouting, flooring, and glass replacement. The excitement just never ends around here. (Our house is coming up on 20 years old, and it entered into a suicide pact about 7 years ago with Chris and Sylvia's house in a nearby suburb. If one of us needs a a garage door opener, the other one does, too. If the oven goes blooey at her house, I had best start shopping for one, too. It allowed us to form a support system to deal with the sticker-shock associated with home repair and improvement costs.) Eventually, it seems like we will have to reach the point where we have replaced everything in this house. That will likely be the point where whatever went blooey first goes kaput again.
Adding to the feel of time somehow flying, I am zipping through scrapbooks. Having reached the photos and memorabilia from Erin's birth, I am now trying to work on the family album and her baby book simultaneously. Erin found the photos showing a rapt Katie smiling at her a bit confusing. She is used to the more hormonal current version of Big Sister 10.0. The original has a simpler interface.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I don't have any qualms with my children wanting to have piercings--- as long as any piercings are done in a clean environment and the resulting hole is properly cared for by the kid in question. (This discussion only applies to holes in ears.) They also have to ask. (I can see the benefit of getting the momentary pain of piercing over with when they are babies.) I just figure that if they want holes in their heads, they can decide to get holes poked. If they do not want holes poked in their heads, and I get their ears pierced before they can even speak, then it's too late.
- You want someone to poke holes in your head?
- Do you know it hurts when someone pokes holes in your head?
- If the first ear hurts, you have to sit there and get the second one done anyway. Can you do that?
- Can you sit still while someone pokes holes in you?
- Are you going to be okay with a stranger touching you and likely saying things like "It won't hurt" when you know it will?
- Are you going to be okay if it hurts for just a second on each side?
- You don't get to wear dangly earrings, are you willing to wear the pair you first pick out for six weeks... and maybe longer. You know Katie didn't wear hers long enough. (Katie joins in here. If she can't derail Erin, then nothing will prevent the piercing.)
I don't think we could have been any more prepared. Erin sat and waited with minimal fidgeting while fixating on the sparkly flower earrings she chose. (It's good to be the baby. Mom made Katie get the plain silver ball earrings. Erin gets the fancy crystal flowers.) The reality of the piercing took only moments. Tears welled between ear one and two, but a reminder that one must stay put (and a lady smart enough to just get on with it) helped Erin stay her course. By the time I paid for the earrings and cleaning solution, Erin was dancing around the store clowning and sticking out her lollipop green-tinted tongue.
Evan: Uhh, peanut butter and jelly sandwich... pb&j
Q: What has been the best part of Spring Break?
Evan: So far? Ummm, probably going to Gram and Papa'a house so far.
Q. Anything specific stand out?
Evan: Probably going to Chuck E. Cheese's. We didn't have lunch, but it was still fun.
Q: What are you going to do today?
Evan: Go down to Leo's house to play... probably stay home most of the rest of the day after that.
Q: Any other big plans for the remainder of Spring Break or for Easter?
Evan: Grandma and Granddad are coming Saturday and Sunday because it's Easter and my birthday on Sunday. So I guess I do have some big stuff to look forward to with my birthday and Easter on the same day.
Q: Any other big news you want to share?
Evan: Wellllll... the week after I am having my birthday party.
Should you cruise the site and find yourself taking the "What Kind of Sandwich Are You?" quiz, I am looking for a ham sandwich because it's supposed to be the match for my turkey. (I took it twice in case my second-choice answers could affect my sandwich alter ego.) If you are tuna fish... you are my new nemesis. In fact, let me make it easy for you:
EDIT: There. That's the link for the Sandwich Quiz.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The task would probably be quicker if Bella would quit "helping". The cat is an absolute menace.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I reread the progression of e-mails where I sought prayer requests for the GCM long-term missionaries in Poland. I saw the responses beginning with Lisa (roommate for May, current Tuesday a.m. breakfast buddy, and sister of Shelley in Poland) filling me in on the needs she knew of for Shelley and copying Shelley. Shelley soon responded. Prayer circulated via e-mail, and the congregation in Poznan discovered that their God was big enough to have prayers for Poles from an unknown American. God used the wonder of the Polish believers regarding one American's prayers to bring about the idea of many prayers being sent via e-mail to be read to the congregation. Out of that flurry of e-mails came an invitation. The missionaries invited a team to pray for Poland--- in Poland.
I just didn't want to delete that series of e-mails. I dumped them into a file in Outlook so I can reread them when my personal outlook needs an adjustment. Today is St. Patrick's Day. It's the day the kids visit the Houston Rodeo. Those are not likely to be the reasons why I mark this day in my mind and heart. Today marks the ticker in my head where we move to less than two months until departure for Operation: Prayer Surge. I'm still floored by the idea that God would offer such an adventure.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
It's pretty good stuff. We also saw jars of caramel, chocolate, and marshmallow dip that were calorie-free marketed by the same geniuses. Now we can splurge on a sundae for the same calories found in our ce cream. It's a bonus.
Since I woke up without a fever (I've been running up to 102 the last couple of days.), I went along with Don to drop off the kids. This used to be our crazy day of driving to deliver the children durng a lunch with Gram & Papa followed by a rushed date night where we decided our home project followed by cleaning and laundry catch-up. I had the kids catch up the laundry Friday night, and required their rooms to be clean before they left town. We do projects around the house on a fairly regular basis, and we have quite a bit of time alone together (Yay! Oxymoron...) with the three kiddies all gone to school during the day. Since neither Don nor I feel the old pressure to create a romantic rendezvous, and we don't have a home project waiting in the wings, we're free to enjoy a quiet weekend.
Friday, March 14, 2008
At home, I process sliced apples by soaking them in a combination of pineapple juice and lemon juice. My purpose in doing this is to maintain the crisp texture and white color of the flesh. Guess what?! The processed apples have more calories than freshly cut apple slices because the fruit juices used to preserve the fruit's appearance have calories. I know this, but I am not going to obsess over figuring out the calorie count or post a sign on my fruit tray stating that the apples contain "hidden" ingredients! If I were to sell those same apples, I would be required to include the fruit juices on the food label just like the packages of processed foods found in my local market do.
Rather than blaming corn for American obesity, why don't we look at the quantities of food consumed and exercise performed? Diane Sawyer also brought up the idea of linking diabetes to corn, but the gentleman they interviewed in an attempt to suggest an unsubstantiated link between corn and diabetes claimed both a family history of diabetes and states that he consumes sugar-loaded sodas daily. (Those sodas specified high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient, and that same ingredient is a sugar, but it's not new or fun to vilify sugar this week.)
I get tired of the so-called news stories that are purposefully inflammatory. I don't happen to share the victim mentality that the media seems to paint. If I eat corn, it's unlikely to make me fat or cause diabetes. If I overeat processed foods, I am far more likely to be overweight or obese and in time to develop diabetes as well as other health problems. This is hardly a newsflash. I did not particularly appreciate the attempt on ABC's part to feed me a line of bull with only a kernel of truth this morning.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
It was a mixed bag. She objected to my writing in cursive. She was thoroughly grossed out by her initial appearance. She was impressed by the pictures of Dylan R. from the baby shower. She especially liked hearing about how she kicked so hard when I held Dylan that he bounced off my belly. She thought that was pretty funny.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
A few minutes later, I pulled up the web site listed for prize claims. I signed Erin up on the website as a minor with my junk e-mail address. As we read the site, we discovered the possible prizes could include tickets to an Ally & AJ concert for four! (Katie asks as we read, "So, what's Evan going to do while we are gone?") Katie is horrified and Erin thrilled at the idea of the first prize bedroom make-over featuring every possible product that could ever have one of these big-head and goggle-eyed creatures appliqued, painted, or molded onto it. The second prize is simply more Littlest Pet Shop Toys. Whoo-hoo--- more critters to give funny voices while scattering them all over the house! (Erin's toys always have whispery high-pitched voices. Erin's toys creep me out sometimes.)
We enter in Erin's winning code with images of super-nifty prizes whirling in our heads. The site then pulls up the prize that corresponds to Erin's code. Guess what?! Erin won one of many third prizes... a digital poster. She was given a choice of four different Littlest Pet Shop posters featuring the creatures with little check boxes to mark off the ones a child owns. Needless to say, we were all three a bit disappointed, and a lot disgusted, with this so-called "prize". Erin somewhat grudgingly picked #2 of 4 from the available choices to download. Normally, I would not allow the kids to print anything that was a full sheet of photographic images because it would just chew through too much toner, but... this was her prize. Even though it was a dumb prize, she still won it. So I let her print it.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Operation: Prayer SURGE!
When you see: Pray for:
1. Fruit/Veggies Spiritual fruit in Poland
2. Clothing stores Poles to be clothed in righteousness
3. Schools Knowledge of God’s Truth to spread
4. Statues Tearing down spiritual strongholds
I have printed out multiple copies. I'll be sticking these up in the places I will see often like the computer desk, the fruit basket, the bathroom mirror, and my truck. Even if I do not necessarily see many statues, I will be thinking of these prayer needs. How exciting to think of our team (and that includes you!) praying together in the coming days from many locations for the Poles and our own communities to see the spread of the gospel. That's just nifty.
I needed a lift this morning. I was giving myself grief over my crummy mood yesterday. Guilt really has no place in my life. I love the way that I was reminded of the peace and freedom that are mine through Christ even while receiving requests for others who need that very thing! God's timing is always just exactly right.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
One hour later:
Evan called asking us to pick him up an hour and a half before school was due to be dismissed from the special needs room. I can just imagine the fun if all the Autistic kiddies discovered the weather outside. Our street was icy enough to cause me to slide a couple of times so we went ahead to pick up our girls from elementary. It took over half an hour to pick up three kids from two schools that are a maybe three-quarters of a mile apart because many other parents were doing the same thing. I dropped DOn and the kids off at home before heading back out after some basic groceries just in case tomorrow is as inhospitable outside as today. Typical Texas weather--- yesterday I was wearing short sleeves! Today I am bundled up in a heavy sweater and sweatpnats to ward off the cold!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I am up to a fatal... er, fateful weekend in September, 2000. I am putting together a rather odd scrapbook entry of a wedding with as little of the bride as possible. I have cut her out of every most photos. My brother's ill-fated marriage to the female referred to within the family by many unflattering terms was a weekend when our family gathered. Many photos were taken. Evan and Katie were the ring bearer and flower girl. Don and my cousin Kirk were in the wedding party. I want to enjoy the photos of our family, but I am trying to work around the soul-sucking Evil Empress. (Not that Jim is perfect. I just love him better.) I'll be glad to finish up with those photos so I can move on along to the wonder of our Erin Elizabeth's arrival to complete our family. (That's my assumption. We will happily raise any kids that happen to be left on our doorstep. It just hasn't happened thus far.)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Seriously, if we are going to support and train artists in the church, then don't we need to be growing up little artists from the earliest ages? The mighty mites have no preconceived notions of whether or not they are artists. Every 2-year-old is an artist. Ask their mothers. All we have to do is channel their artistry into worship.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Don plays bass with a different worship team. Evan jumps at every middle school student opportunity, and serves in the technical arts. Katie is involved in a transitional class for fifth graders to confront the issues that swirl around "children" who are becoming "youth" by equipping the kids with scripture and strong personal investment in them by the children's pastor. Katie serves in the nursery. Erin is not yet a Christian, but she is growing and loves to sing in the children's choir.
Our household was chugging along with everyone plugged in as 2008 dawned. Everyone except me. I was doing a bit of administrative this and that for a friend from our small group, but really not tapping any particular skills. I was effectively a pew sitter. (That does not mean I was asleep at the wheel. Ministry happens without specific tasks any time a believer ministers to someone.) I wanted to find a place to formally serve within our church home because, while the newness has worn off after a year, I still felt like a visitor as I walked the halls many Sundays.
Don and I headed to the church for a Worship Arts ministry general meeting Thursday night. We entered the sanctuary of the church to be greeted with several off-hand waves--- not the full-throttle welcome given to guests or visitors, but the casual acknowledgement of greeting for those who are well-known. We wandered amongst the gathering group and talked with friends--- not acquaintances. I sat watching people enter while mentally running through the "What's New with Whom List" in my head: the couple who live down the street, and like us, are getting a new roof, the team recently returned from a mission trip to Thailand, the couple who just learned their third child is another daughter when their eldest child was really hoping for a brother, and the couple whispering to end a private spat while in a public place.
After the formal meeting is concluded, I find myself sitting with a couple of ladies. We talk about the details of our lives since we last saw one another. The couple expecting daughter number three approaches, and we get to hear their little one's name for the first time. I excitedly tell the group that support-raising for the Poland trip is finally underway, but one of the ladies is a step ahead already. They have been trying to plan a fundraiser, but sonograms, sick kids, and jobs have kept them from moving forward this week. I vaguely hear Don's bass from the stage as the band commences rehearsal for weekend service. This is it. I recognize this feeling: belonging. We are home.