Friday, May 30, 2008


I was mildly amused (and a wee bit embarrassed) when Don cobbled together an e-mail update out of my responses and messages to the kids for our grown-up friends and family. As I read back through it, I think there is a value in the elementary versions of my impressions of the first days of our Poland prayer trip. The kids' first messages from Poland follow:

Today we had church at ____'s house. We sang songs that you might know from our church like "How Great Is Our God" and "Open the Eyes of My Heart" but many people were singing in Polish while Lisa, Bill, Ally, and I were singing in English! It was very cool to have our service in both languages, and we all sat in a big circle instead of the rows of chairs like we have at American church. There was a guitar and really cool drum played for the accompaniment. Anyone can speak up or pray during the service, not just Jack.

[Lisa marked a birthday shortly before our departure for Poland, a teacher from the Christian school had a birthday while we were in country, and Ally celebrated one during our day trip.] We are having lots of cake because we are celebrating many birthdays here!

Tomorrow we will be going by van to Auschwitz/Birkenau and another town that I cannot spell (Czestochowa--- chen-stah-HOVE-uh) where the "Black Madonna" is located. It is very sad because many Polish people do not know that Jesus is the way to Heaven and God's love, and they believe they need to light candles, pray for the dead, and place flowers at graves so they will someday reach heaven. (The Bible does not say this, and I am sad because people are working so hard for something that is not true.)

Good Morning, Sunshine!

There's not a tremendous amount of difference in the way I started the day in Poland, and the way I start the day in the States. Both involve feeding my dependence on both caffeinated beverages and electronic media. (Yes, Mom, those are my pj's on the internet.) I am amused that I would travel 5,000 miles so I can stagger into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and plunk down to fire up the e-mail inbox just like I do the other 357 mornings of the year. There was one vast, and one seemingly small, difference. Shelley's flat allowed for quiet and contemplation in the absence of my noisy brood of kiddies and furballs, and I had to make my own coffee.
I suspect that last one sounds like no big deal, but I've got a newsflash for you: it was more complicated than I could have imagined. Since I only read and think in English, it was an adventure to try to guess what those nifty Polish words meant in my under-caffeinated state. Several containers held coffee based on labels with a photo or drawing, and I was not above opening the bags or jars to check out the appearance and/or scent of the contents, but I still had no idea which one(s) were the desired grounds for the regular drip coffee I prefer. Since I was lost in the morning's brain-fog, I opted to just take a couple of scoops from each container except one that was obviously dehydrated coffee flakes.
It turns out that two out of three is really pretty bad when one is mixing two parts regular and one part instant coffee to be run through an automatic drip coffee maker. To top off my coffee misadventure, the finished product was weak.
I suspect Don would have figured it out the first time, but Don was not there so I just drank my funky coffee rather than waste it. I remembered to ask Shelley for directions before my next attempt, and I had a good laugh at my inability to do well something as simple as making a decent cup of coffee!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Low End

Mmmhmm. My spouse informs me that he dragged his monstrous (and oh-so-ugly) bass cabinet into the middle of the living room while I was away. He is rather pleased with himself as he relates the fun of plugging in his bass on a whim throughout the day to drown the house in low-end sound waves. Mmmhmm. He grins at me (with far more charm than is good for him to have) and informs me that it was the only good thing about me being in Poland. The big, bad bass amp is now relegated back into its home--- a place of relative obscurity in a corner of our bedroom squished between the wall and the chest of drawers. I am very content with that location since the thing was right in our living room causing frequent comment for years--- admiration from musicians with spouses who would not have such a monstrosity dominating the rest of the house and queries from those who were not of a musical persuasion as to just what the behemoth was doing in the living room. I am glad that Don enjoyed his wild and crazy bachelor days while I was gone. It is not good for the man to be alone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The times to meet with assorted friends and supporters are already beginning to fill in my calendar. Today will see opportunities to begin and end the day with two dear friends who were each great encouragement to go out into the wide world. Sylvia and I are meeting for breakfast. She has filled my ears with tales of the wonders to be found in Germany for years and I am excited to share my own experiences. Germany was not a fun place for me, but Sylvia had prepared me well for the uh-oh I waded into there! (Incidentally, Sylvia's suitcase did arrive yesterday from its extended visit in Munich.)
I will close out the day with Ally and her family (her parents Marsha and Gordon are in town). Ally's Mom and I have had some interesting moments via e-mail over the past weeks as we relate the similarities and differences in our experiences and observations in Poland.
Marsha and her husband were stationed in Warsaw during the communist years. Marsha actually had to fly out to Frankfurt when she reached her eighth month of pregnancy with Ally in order to deliver, and then mother and infant returned to Poland one week after the birth. The family certainly has a special link to the country that has captured my heart, and I am thrilled to see them so soon after returning!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bread of Life

For Laura who asked:

On our last day in Poznan, four members of our team had the opportunity to assist at the soup kitchen that ministers to the very poor and homeless population of Poznan. Richard Nungesser kindly gave us a brief history of the ministry. (Please ask me for details and also learn a bit more at the ministry web site Already in awe of what God is doing with simple willingness, our team headed for the room where Holy Start serves those in need.
I confess to a certain trepidation at eating the food that was intended for those who would otherwise go without because my own belly is never empty for long. Shelley and I sat at a table with a precious grandmother named Danka and quiet young man named Sebastian (see photo). Neither would reach for the food that must have been so wanted and needed until Shelley and I each took a portion. We gestured for them to each take more of the bread smeared with cream cheese, and dotted with ketchup (more spicy than the sweet ketchup found in the U.S.) and chives. During the meal, I searched for a connection with the sweet lady seated beside me, but she remained aloof. (No surprise, Poles are warm and loving to those known, but we were total strangers.)
During our time with Danka, I responded to a guarded question she asked about my thoughts on Poland stating that I love Poland, Poles, and the Polish language. That brought a look of pure suspicion to her face. She asked why, if I loved Poland so much, was I leaving the next day? That caught me off guard, and my immediate response was an internal affirmation of her question; "Why indeed would I leave Poland?" I felt as if the air was forcefully squeezed from my lungs in a manner all-too-similar to the method one uses on a toothpaste tube to empty the very last of the contents as I realized that only hours remained before I would have to leave the country.
As I sat staring at her, it suddenly occured to me why I would leave, and I popped up from the table to retrieve my bag. I produced the photos of my family taken by our dear friends Jordan and Joanne shortly before leaving on the trip. Danka's entire demeanor shifted, and she lit up as she studied the images of my children. Erin particularly caught Danka's eye because she has a grandson the same age. Even as the connection was made, the conversation was brought to a halt as we paused to hear an announcement signaling the beginning of the teaching time.
Our friends Ron and Bill from the OPS team were giving testimony and sharing a bit of scripture that morning as the real focus for Holy Start. Bill's words carefully highlighted how he had cast aside guilt to receive the free gift of grace while Ron thrilled his listeners by choosing to speak in Polish to introduce himself. Ron received applause from the room for taking the time to speak in their native tongue.
Following the men's offerings, the recipients of the care provided by Bread of Life headed off to receive a shave, haircut, and the chance to clean up. The people trickled back into the room bit by bit. Shelley and I realized as we were talking to one another that the women in the room were leaning toward us. We invited them into our conversation realizing that as relational creatures, the silence of the room must have been deafening to them. Some took us up on the offer while others merely leaned toward us--- or kept a careful eye on us. (Crazy Americans!) Suddenly, one of the women drew me into a hug and planted a kiss on my cheek. I was shocked by this display of physical affection. (It just was not Polish!)
As I was passed from person to person giving and receiving hugs and the kiss to the cheek, I was humbled beyond anything I have ever known. I came excited about serving these who would be counted as least among men, and they showed me precisely who was being served. It is trite, but I will never be the same after having been met with the very image of Christ in that room. He who railed against the highest of religious society, would have gathered each and every one of those broken individuals into his arms.


"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28, NASB) Last week I watched with sorrow as children were presented to a painting as if it could influence eternity. The painting was The Black Madonna of Częstochowa --- a painting utterly sacred to Poles. Millions have flocked to this image. I photographed a little girl who reminded me somewhat of my own Erin. I prayed for my own daughter even as I prayed for the children in the cathedral to come to know Christ, and that these little ones would not be deceived by mere images of holiness. I hoped that they would all come to know Christ as the only way to God.

I returned home, and on the morning of Sunday, May 25th my Erin prayed with her Daddy while sitting in a church service for Jesus to be her savior. I was humbled and, quite honestly, a bit bemused by this timing. Erin also celebrated her first communion this week even as the little girl I had photographed a world away. It is with great joy that I welcome my daughter as my new sister in Christ, and I will continue to pray for the children of Poland to be the first generation that will know hope and freedom rather than guilt and ritual.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lost In Munich

Lisa and I trotted up to the Lufthansa service center counter before producing our airline tickets and travel itinerary. Our flight from Poznan had been just late enough to allow our connection to Denver to leave without us. The airline representative was searching for a new flight to return us to the U.S., and he found one leaving just over an hour later for Dulles in Washington, D.C. that would bring us home to Dallas within 20 minutes of our original expected arrival time.

As the Lufthansa agent began to work out the details regarding our luggage, I was doing a little potty dance that was less than effective in subduing nature's call for relief. I desperately looked at Lisa (who was handling all the travel detail with no need for my input) and said, "I have to go to the bathroom..." She suggested that I wait. My bladder interrupted her to say otherwise, so I opted to heed the louder voice. One agent said to "Turn right..." and the other elaborated saying, "...go around..." the service center to the facilities. I left Lisa holding all of our bags and tickets except my purse (which held my ID) and headed off to take care of business.

I walked around the wall behind the service center. Each door failed to indicate a restroom, but I saw a sign indicating that toilets were in the stated direction. I walked through a set of doors to see a man in a security uniform, and I asked him about "restrooms... toilet?" to which he nodded in the affirmative and gestured that I should come toward him. The doors shut behind me as the man pointed to a sign clearly indicating a toilet that was a little further away than I wanted to be from Lisa. I nodded back at him, and indicated my thanks before turning to go back for Lisa who was likely finishing with our travel changes.

The smiling man stopped smiling. He placed his very large frame between me and the doors through which I had come and began forcefully indicating that I could and would not be returning to the service center (and the security of Lisa handling all the details while I just did whatever she told me to do) through those doors. For the first moment in our trip, I utterly failed to feel the exhilaration and delight that had come to characterize the adventure of exploration.
In fact, I was fast headed for state of panic. I needed to go back through those doors. I turned to really look around at what waited in the other directions away from the door, and was bombarded with the exterior view of the Munich airport, the security area for those preparing to depart, and the toilets which now failed to hold their former appeal. My initial response was to turn on my cell phone and try to call Lisa. No answer, and I suspected her inbox would be full of messages after a week. I left my own phone on in case she should try to call me while I began to try to get back to her.

Mr. Security sent me off to go through security. I was freaked out by an overly friendly male sports team (soccer, maybe?), and discovered that to pass through security one needed an airline ticket. Prepared to start sobbing at any minute, I walked toward the Lufthansa ticket center while having a disjointed moment of prayer that was primarily me begging for this mess to work out and for my panic to subside before I got myself into real trouble. The Lufthansa agent was as unwilling to contact the Lufthansa service center to let Lisa know where I was as she was to help, but she did at least look up the new flight number that was scheduled as the next leg of the trip home before shrugging me off on the poor folks over at United airlines.
Even as I felt the fear and uncertainty rising, I continued to pray and to walk toward the area vaguely indicated by the latest in the series of somewhat helpful individuals while a few tears escaped. I was overwhelmed to find yet another line to delay my reunion with Lisa. I was disgusted that I did not know what to do, frustrated that my situation seemed to be failing to improve, and frightened to be in a country where I could not speak the language to even ask the simplest questions.

An angry young American was berating his travel companion, but he stopped to stare at me. Next thing I know, there are a few people who shuffled me along in the line toward the agent, and Angry American is loudly proclaiming that "Whoa. She looks so sad, that it's like totally making me sad. Somebody needs to help her." Despite the desire to crawl in a hole upon hearing that particular description, I stood trembling in line while continuing to ask God for a bit of divine intervention. When my turn to present my passport and the scrawled number of the new flight on which I hoped to reach home arrived, the waterworks finally won out. I stood staring after giving a brief explanation of my situation to the agent.

This lady had a heart. She walked me through the security questions that my friend Sylvia had gone over with me at home prior to my original departure. It was a small measure of comfort to know that Sylvia had been part of preparing me for this bit of misadventure, and that perhaps all was not lost after all. The agent walked over to the ticket counter to speak to another agent before applying a sticker to indicate my successful answers to the security questions and instructing me to only go to the agent with whom she had already spoken before offering me a smile.

I moved on to the next line where Angry American Guy was standing with his companion and a German couple. The next available agent was the one to whom I had been instructed to speak. Those ahead of me kindly sent me to the proper agent despite my place in the line. The agent smiled and spoke very slowly and clearly (as if to a complete idiot... which I really was at that point) as she handed me the tickets that would allow me to pass through security. I was given very simple instructions to follow as she sent me off.

Security was nerve-racking because I was suddenly again uncertain of what to do, and I had an agent who was less than patient with me. Once I cleared security, I chose an escalator to take me upward to the area where I would present the passport that was in my possession rather than Lisa's at the moment. I found a line that moved rapidly, and presented my passport for the rubber stamp that allowed me to move on to the area where the gates were located. I headed to the right ("...and ONLY go right..." per the ticket agent) as I sought the gate from which Lisa and I were scheduled to depart Munich for Washington, D.C. I did not see a Lufthansa service center as I moved along in my progression toward the proper gate. I passed through yet another security checkpoint. I scanned the crowds for Lisa continually, but she never appeared.

Presenting my ticket at gate 46, I received boarding passes and seat assignments for the Washington flight and for the final leg set to return me to my home airport later in the day as well. Lisa had yet to present her tickets. The agent refused to contact the service centers to check for my travel companion. She did page Lisa in the gate area where Lisa clearly was not. It was not helpful to have the agent periodically reminding me that to fail in boarding the flight would result in the purchase of new tickets at full fare.
As I waited, there was a strange thing happening around me. I continued to ask for help in locating Lisa, and I began to notice a migration of the very people who had been helping me downstairs to the gate from which I would be departing. The travelers and the assorted airline employees were gathering in the very gate area where I was waiting for Lisa, and they were all staring. It was a little disconcerting but as words expressed concern rather than than condemnation of my foolishness in getting lost, I began to appreciate the watchers.

Finally, someone called down to the service center where Lisa had been waiting with growing concern as I failed to return to her. She had also been asking for someone to page me, and trying to use her phone to call one of the leaders we had left behind in Poland for help... which is why she did not answer my call even though she heard the beep indicating a waiting call. I stood with another security worker who sweetly indicated where I should stand to avoid more difficulty to watch for Lisa as many pairs of eyes watched me to see if I would find my companion.

When I saw the familiar black and white stripes of Lisa's outfit, I made a bee-line to the ticket counter to inform the agent there (who was still miffed that Lisa did not appear to have her phone turned on) that Lisa was coming, and to ask if we had made the final call. I wonder if Lisa felt all the eyes on her as I greeted her with an apology for becoming separated and the news that our plane had already boarded? Her ticket was stamped, and we headed off even as I heard the voice of Angry American Guy (who was no longer angry) saying, "Oh, Great! She found her friend. I am so glad for her!" I turned to see him giving me a thumb's up. Even in Washington, we were still meeting kind strangers who were glad to see that Lisa and I had successfully reached the U.S.

Our luggage remained in Munich, but I am thankful to say that Lisa and I reached our home airport Saturday night at 7:00 successfully. I hope our luggage turns up, and have filled out a baggage claim toward that end. Next time, I think I will stick to the Frankfurt hub which is easier to navigate! This little misadventure clearly highlighted the buffer our missionary hosts had provided for us throughout our visit in Poland where most of the team did not speak Polish at all, and where I certainly was clueless about customs and culture. It was a very quick tumble down "off the mountain"! How thankful I am for the guidance and help of our hosts during our stay, and for Ron Barnes who was on his EIGHTH trip to Poland and Lisa who has more experience as a traveler than I!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


This possibly derelict piece of property has captured my imagination. I look at it, and I see more than an abandoned concrete shell squatting on a plot of weeds with hollow eyes. I see it as a possibility. My first words as we walked by this place were, "Hey! That's my house!" (I wondered how Don would respond to that one.) Shelley piped up to create a dream. Her words described this particular building as a ministry center.

On returning home, I realized that I have more photos of this building than anything else or anywhere else that was seen during our travels. It serves as an inspiration, and I don't feel that I can accurately communicate the variety of thoughts and ideas that this place represents. I have an image in my head of it as it could be with the doors on the right serving as an entrance into a place where European hospitality serves a cup of tea or coffee along with an offer of something more substantial. A place where not only are there biscuits and sandwiches, but where the gospel breathes.

A light to shine in the darkness. A place that is "not Polish", but that clearly celebrates all that is Polish. A place that will see shrines and strongholds crumble through Bible studies that equip people to see truth, and where scripture set to music can speak to the ear and the soul, and where a simple cup of coffee or tea can be an invitation to join the family.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wake Up

I woke to the familiar everyday sounds of our household on a school day. The clicking of doggie claws on the floors, the patter of cat feet chasing invisible nothings, Evan asking if it is time to leave for school yet, the girls squabbling over something that won't matter later, Don typing away at the keyboard as his rumbling voice responds to the children, the ceiling fan whirring overhead, and the sound of wind in the trees outside all blend to inform my lazy mind that I really ought to get up. Instead, I remain tangled in the bedding listening. I soak up the ordinary sounds that I will likely not hear for many days.
Tomorrow I expect to be heading out the door to pick up Lisa at about the same time of day that I opened my eyes this morning. We'll make the run back to the house for Don. The girls will be dropped off at a friend's house until time to leave for school while Don, Lisa, and I begin the adventure of navigating through morning traffic to reach the airport. The following day I expect to be half a world away in Poznan as my family emerges from their night's rest. It will be many days before I have the opportunity to savor the mundane again.


After all the crazy weighing and measuring of bags, comparisons of various airlines' baggage requirements, and trial packing... yes, trial packing.
***************************(That is where I actually pack all items as if I were leaving so I can hold the suitcase over my head while shouting for Don to hurry up and tell me what the scale says.) Bella Bad Cat was not very helpful, and I told her so. She seemed to have mistaken the assorted suitcases for cat beds.
The trial packing went well until Lisa threw me a curve ball. She dropped off the crock pot that we are hauling overseas. I had plenty of room in my bag for the crock pot, but it was going to make it a little tight to get the half dozen boxes of Shelley's cookies & cream instant pudding in there. Guess what?! An oval crock pot holds exactly six boxes of instant pudding.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


With two days until departure for Poland, I am attempting to finish up my travel preparations while staying ahead of my normal household responsibilities. My leaving with the laundry caught up, pantry stocked, bills paid, and a meal or two prepared ahead will make Don's life easier during my absence. (Even Superdad can benefit from a running start.)
Thankfully, the kids are all in school, so Don can get in a full day's work without interruption. We have managed to keep the calendar relatively open during the week that I am gone so he won't have to juggle birthday parties, doctors' appointments, or school functions during his single parent days. He will be attending Katie's guitar "parent show-off", chauffeuring for an end-of-year laser tag party, getting the whole crew to church, and taking the kids to a family potluck dinner.
I know that he can manage all the tasks that are typically divided into categories loosely defined as "his", "hers", and "ours", but I still want to minimize as much of the extra "to-do" since he will be filling the Mom-sized hole I am leaving in our family for eight days.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weights and Measures

I may be making this harder than it has to be. Or the assorted airlines may be trying to drive me insane. (Alert: possible conspiracy theory) I finally tired of cutting back and forth between tabs featuring multiple airlines' baggage limits on-line yesterday. I opted to cut and paste the ever-so-slightly varying requirements from the assorted airlines onto a single page. (Well, one and a half pages, but at least all the information is in one place!) Once the United, US Airways, and Lufthansa baggage weights and measurements were all together, I found it less challenging to determine what size bags could be packed and how to spread the contents' weight across several bags for the flights to Poland.
If we stick to purses that are tote bags, a carry-on no greater than 45 linear inches (length + height + width), and a single suitcase that is smaller than 62 linear inches everything should be just fine. (Otherwise, we face the ugliness of fees for overweight or additional baggage. No thanks.) I can take my cane without forfeiting a bag, and (thanks to my fascination with tiny things) travel-sized packages of everything under the sun to meet our every possible need. Time to go step off and on the bathroom scale with and without suitcases with an eye toward 43 pound suitcases and 16 pound carry-on baggage to stay well under the stated limits...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Head Over Heels

Yikes. Erin has achieved flight unsuccessfully. Thankfully the human cannonball had her bike helmet strapped on her head. We were coming around a nice long curve at high speed on our bikes when she had the slightest bobble. She over corrected from her bobble into a full-blown wobble before the bike went out from under her. As the bike slid away across the concrete, Miss Erin continued her forward motion. Her head hit the concrete with her feet in the air before her little body flipped over to pull her full weight down onto her arm and hip.
It was a sickening moment. She didn't yell. She didn't give one of her trademark wailing screams. That did not reassure me as I was disentangling myself from my own bike to stumble toward her. I gave an initial check of her head, neck, and back before picking her up. (Like I know what I'm looking at?!) Evan rode after Don, and Katie rode to the home of some friends who live nearby (but were not home) in hopes of help. I was staggering down the street with a slightly shocked, pale, sweating seven-year old in my arms when a vaguely familiar mommy appeared on her driveway to ask if we needed help.
Erin didn't really register when we entered the some-time elementary coach's house to clean her scrapes because she was still freaked-out from her abortive flight and a bleeding elbow. Once she was a bit more with-it, she developed a case of shy so we headed back outside as Katie rode up to report that she had reached Don by phone, and he was on his way. The coach sent her kids to retrieve our bikes from the middle of the street while telling Erin that her tale of woe would be a good example for the other kids at school re: the necessity of wearing a helmet.
The rest of the cavalry arrived a few minutes later. Don came around the corner in the truck with Evan leading the way on his bike. We loaded Erin and her bike into the truck for the ride home. The bigger kids and I rode back home where we found Erin laying on the couch with ice on her ouchies. She'll be spending the remainder of the evening resting, and Evan has a doozy of a story to mark his first ride on his newly replaced bike. I'm still not 100% certain we won't end up in the kiddie E.R., but I am reserving judgment until Erin's injuries have been iced for a little bit longer.

Elementary Momfest

Our elementary school went over the top to help the first graders show some love for their mommies. A musical program on Thursday night complete with poetry recitations and limited sign interpretation by the children (all dressed in their "Sunday best") kicked off Momfest '08. Each mom received a single, red, long-stemmed rose from her lovey to cap off the performance.

This morning the same group of mommies trickled into the building's front doors 45 minutes before the official start of the school day. In addition to last night's program, we were all invited back to attend a Readers' Theatre of I'll Love You Forever and enjoy a light breakfast served by our children.

Erin welcomed me to her classroom, and seated me at her table which was prepared with a portrait of me as seen through her eyes. (I have orange hair and blue eyes.) A precious paper tissue flower was presented as a corsage, and "Mom Packets" filled out in sweet, childish handwriting described each mommy from her child's perspective. (There were conveniently posted Kleenex boxes about the room.) Jumbo hand-made cards with promises of chores to be done and extra-good behavior and a laminated book mark with a mommy poem completed the extravaganza of this celebration of mommies.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The boy's bike literally fell apart on the way to school yesterday. This was not particularly surprising since our 125 lb. son was cruising along on a bike the same size as his seven-year-old sister's... We have been hoping daily to replace the busted bike that we knew was at the end of its usable life.
Unfortunately, the boy has had a series of behavioral issues that have prevented us from providing a new bike (or even a used one) because we can't really reward him on a day when we discover he has forged a permission slip, blatantly lied to us, or some other act of willful disobedience has occurred. Don and I keep hoping we will have a day when Evan manages to avoid any discipline issues so we can set him up with new wheels.
Evan actually knows that Mom and Dad want to replace his wonky two-wheeler with a new and improved bike for his riding pleasure. Yet he still continues to foolishly get himself into situations that are going to result in our feeling that we cannot replace the busted bike because such an act would reek of reward.
Maybe today will be the day because there's a very cool bike that practically has his name written on it just waiting...

Budding Author

"Budding Author" is the nickname a friend proffered for her eldest son on a favorite blog. Her choice of words describes Miss KT well, so I'm borrowing them. Our Budding Author is currently working to produce a fantasy fiction of epic proportions. It's something of a Harry Potter in the 'burbs except the boy's name is Scott. The hero is an orphan aged 11--- sound familiar Potter fans? Scott lives in a house that's been derelict for almost a decade, and no one knows who he is or that he lives there with his dog.
She opens her tale with a chapter full of suspense and mystery about just who our hero might be, and by chapter three we find him breaking and entering to steal food for himself and his dog only to be apprehended by the police and a grumpy grandmotherly type. In a spoiler, I heard that he will be able to stop time thanks to an ultra-mysterious (Mystery is a theme she likes.) rock. KT hasn't finished that chapter yet so I'm stuck waiting to see how Scott will get out of the fix he was in last night. It will be interesting to see where she takes the fellow and what sort of adventures are next for him...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not Too Busy

A friend commented recently that she sees me as a "fireman" who is always ready to come running when others need anything. I just ate that up! It's exactly what I want to provide. It's a thrill to get a call or see an e-mail come aross from someone who needs a favor, wants to chat, or has some other something that I can offer them. It's a disappointment when I have a conflict that prevents me from saying "Yes!" in an instant.
I do periodically say "No". The hope is to rarely back out or leave someone hanging because I genuinely strive to let my yes be my yes, and my no be my no. I was tickled at myself the first shot out of the barrel in fulfilling this "yes" and "no" thing.
I literally yelled "No!" in response to the discovery that agreement to provide a dozen homemade cupcakes to show appreciation for a group of volunteers had somehow morphed into sixty single-serving treats at 6:00 p.m. the night before they were needed for delivery prior to 9:00 a.m. The poor gal giving me the news of my extended commitment was definitely taken aback by the force of my response. I didn't make any cupcakes at all, and I was downright gleeful about my dereliction.
The goal is to have simple tasks take on the aspect of an offering before the Lord. While not even close to total success, my attitude is so much more cheerful when this motivation lies behind my actions and words. As a work in progress, there are going to be fumbles and whoopsies along the way. The bloopers and periodic episodes of not-so-nice are part of life's learning curve. Sanctification, if you will. Everyday is full of opportunities for that loving your neighbor thing. Hopefully, I'm on the right track!

Blood Type?

This morning I will go up to the hospital because I need to list my blood type on a medical information form for Operation: Prayer SURGE. I did not think this would be difficult information to find. Shows what I know!
Last week I phoned the assorted MDs. I figured that after all the surgeries, the births of three babies, and the blood transfusions one of the assorted 'ologists would have my blood type on file. I thought wrong. Even the OB who delivered lovely Little Bit, performed several other surgeries on me, and eventually had to order transfusions following a nasty bit of post-op internal bleeding does not have a record of my blood type. (Um. Didn't she need that for the transfusion?!) I figured if all the doctors were not helpful, maybe the nursing agency that handles my IVIG would have it. Nope.
So I called in the big guns. I called my Mom. She had no idea. She was guessing in the AB arena. My Dad phoned later to say he had unearthed his blood type and it was not as previously believed, but was instead the O+ that my IVIG nurse and I were speculating to be my likely blood type. I'm going to try the hospital's medical records this morning. Theoretically, they should have that on file somewhere...
If not, then I have two remaining options: I can go pick up a lab slip for blood typing or I can just pick a blood type to write-in on the health forms for Great Commission Ministries to keep on file for the Poland trip. I'm hoping the hospital records will confirm the O Positive I strongly believe to be correct.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Last summer we had the most irritating squirrel in the world living in our back yard. He was a Bad squirrel. I called him...mmm...well, "Ballsy". (The name was due to this particular squirrel's rather blatant super-sized male parts and his behavior toward both the people and the 150+ pounds of canines in our yard.) I despised that squirrel. (Grrr. Bad squirrel.) Ballsy would hang out in the crape myrtle behind the house chittering at our dogs and swooping just low enough for them to think they had a chance at catching him only to leap with great acrobatic skill into the live oak--- and out of reach. He seemed to derive pleasure from running along our fence with a certain arrogance as our poor dogs barked impotently from behind the sliding glass door. When Ballsy was particularly awful to my sweet doggies, I would go out and throw rocks at the nasty little rodent. He chittered at me, too. Impudent wee beast that he was, Ballsy eventually tagged himself a female to join in his doggy-taunting games. It was a long summer with Ballsy who also developed the destructive habit of chewing on our house's siding.
I began to speed up when driving down the street as a squirrel ran out into the road rather than slowing down to let the creatures cross. (I never hit one, but I still sped up.) The sight of roadkill became reason for a Grinchy grin to spread over my face when the critter in question was a nut-brown, bushy-tailed, tree-hopping sort of vermin. The children were collectively appalled because the creature in question was so "cute". They saw God's creation. I saw a little devil. I pointed out that the spiders, wasps, and ants that we capture and/or squish were all God's creations, too. Not my finest Mommy moment, but there it was...
Late in the season, I was out pacing around the backyard while talking on the phone. I was thrilled and amazed to see a hawk cruising along over the fence line. I have never seen one flying quite so low. What should my wondering eyes behold, but that this magnificent creature is hauling it's dinner along. I cackled into the phone, and chased along seeking another view of the magnificent hunter's dinner. Sure enough, that birdie had caught ol' Ballsy unaware. Hee. So much for that mean little squirrel, and "WOW!" how often does a gal get to see a bird like that up close? I am not unaware of the irony present in my tale of Ballsy--- and particularly Ballsy's end.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


The boy was leaning over the edge of the couch talking with me when I saw it. Initially, I hoped it was a horrible trick of the light. Nope. There were long blond hairs that had sprouted like Jack's magical beans in a favorite fairy tail. It got worse. I had him tilt his head while I carefully examined his upper lip. There were 1/4" long, dark hairs over the corners of his lips. Heh?
When did the boy sprout this 'stache? It cannot possibly have happened overnight. I really do not think it was there yesterday.
After closely examining his face to his mixed reaction of delight (It must be real for Mom to be checking it out.) and disappointment (Why does it have to go?), I announced that we were going to the store for some non-girly-scented shaving gel and razors that were not fuchsia with lavender scent. I was really wishing that Don was home. I contemplated waiting for him, but the idea of those hairs over my son's lip demanded action. Now.
Evan and I hopped in the truck to go pick up some depilatory supplies that didn't reek of pre-teen girl. I was still talking to God about how this was really a Daddy thing when I saw Don drive past us going the opposite way on the street. We turned back to the house to pick up Don. He came out of the house having already been informed by the girls that their brother had grown a moustache out of nowhere (and that Mom was feeling decidedly prejudicial toward said facial hair).
We set off again to procure the necessary supplies to rid my son's face of the latest signs of impending doom... er, puberty. Since I am the pickier consumer in my marriage, I had more to do with the actual selection of hair-removal products than Don, but I was glad he was present in case some creepy guy question came up. We purchased the boy's razors and shaving gel and headed back home so Don can demonstrate the use of said items.


I've been carrying a bag of Reece's Pieces around in my bag. I was waiting for just the right reason to eat them. The moment arrived last night. E.T. was on T.V. and there were Reece's Pieces trivia questions in the commercial breaks. That seemed like the ideal time to break out the baggie of candy-coated peanut-buttery goodness. Mmmm. Reece's Pieces.

Friday, May 2, 2008


For those unfamiliar with the term, it describes those moments when you just really think "That cannot possibly be." The boy is currently in an "ohbutno" phase. On Sunday, he failed to comprehend why he was in trouble for the failed "Let's hide our Gameboys so we can play them during the week!" scheme. Since it did not succeed, there should be no consequences (in his mind). On Wednesday night, we had a similar episode that was also related to our household rule of not playing video games during the school week. The boy turned on the Wii. He made the distinction that he did not play the Wii, but he did admit to turning it on while he thought about playing. So our family now has another nit-picky rule: No turning on or hiding video game components with the idea of possibly considering playing them during the times when the game players are off-limits. (How dumb is that rule? FYI- All of the seemingly overly particular rules in our household have origins of this nature.)
Last night Evan asked if he could take the Wii to school with him today. Umm. No. (I am of the firm opinion that video games should not mix with classroom time, and the school's Code of Conduct backs me up on this one. We make one exception at the request of a teacher. Evan has one class period where he has a certain amount of freedom, and we have agreed to the teacher's offered weekly reward of Gameboy play time for fifteen minutes on Friday.) Evan was asking to take the Wii instead of the Gameboy for his reward time. I said no because the Gameboy is sufficient to fill the fifteen minutes of play allowed, and the Wii would be a nightmare to replace if it were lost or damaged.
Imagine the response the boy received when he called home this morning to ask me to bring him the component of the Wii that he forgot. Just so we are fully clear I will repeat myself. Evan called home this morning to ask that I bring him the component to a video game player that he accidentally left at home after being told that he could not take said player to school. I replied that I would not be bringing the missing piece, but that I would most certainly be up at school in five minutes to pick up the Wii from the front office where it had best be waiting. Grrr.
The Wii was waiting in the office when Don and I arrived. Evan was not waiting in the office. He has some sense.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


The day has been sandwiched between breakfast and a dinner to celebrate two different ladies' fortieth birthdays. I met up with Lisa for a celebratory Birthday breakfast (that was also our regularly scheduled Poland-planning breakfast meeting) as soon as the kiddies were all out the door. (We are now only two weeks from our departure!) I had a gift for Lisa thanks to Shelley's genius (Shelley remembered exactly where Lisa liked to get her nails done.).
The night before our breakfast, I made a flying trip over to said nail salon with Lisa on the phone. (Yes, I was driving while taking on the phone. I assure you it is safer than when I am driving and talking to my kids.) I pull into a parking space at 7:35 only to see the sign on the door stating that the salon closes at 7:30 on weeknights. Argh! I get off the phone with Lisa and make a dash for the salon.
Before the nice fellow inside can say, "We're closed.", I blurt out that I only want a gift certificate with a series of "Oh, please, please, please" attached on both ends. The man grins, laughs, and pulls out his gift certificate book. Whew! I pay the nice man, return to the car, and realize that I cannot keep Lisa's gift a surprise if I explain my abrupt exit from an otherwise pleasant conversation. Hmmm.
I call Lisa back as I head out of the parking lot toward home. I then proceed to tell her how clueless I am about beauty professionals. We have a great laugh at my expense because I have been out chasing after a gift certificate for a friend who is turning forty with a surprise party the following night. (I had been, too. The lady just wasn't going to be available for me to pick that gift certificate up until the following day.) Lisa is cracking up as I explain what I think hair and nail services cost in the earliest moments of my gift search. I am thinking I will ask for a gift certificate for a specific service only to discover that service is far more valuable than I thought. The hair lady danced a nifty little jig to avoid hurting my feelings while trying to educate me on these matters. I was impressed that the words "naive" and "cheap" never once left her mouth.

You may be wondering about Lisa's gift certificate, but Lisa didn't have a clue because she had the benefit of the extended version of the above commentary. Needless to say, Lisa was both surprised and pleased to see the certificate entitling her to a little pampering at her favorite salon. We had a great breakfast, still are not clear on our Poland plans, and Lisa has a special treat to look forward to later. What's not to love?
This afternoon, following Lisa's breakfast, I made a run to the hair salon favored by the other gal turning forty. The hair lady was not going to be in the shop until 3:00, and the salon was fully thirty minutes away. I raced back home because Don and I needed to drop Katie off for guitar at 5:00 and head on to the Surprise party that started at 5:30. Don ran through the shower while I slapped on some make-up and change my shirt. We hopped in the car with Katie to head off to celebrate the second fortieth birthday of May Day.