29 April 2007

Scrap Happy - Week 3

I hope that all my scrapper friends are burning up the computer screen with new pages! I am heading out in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow on a 2 week trip to West Virginia, but I will be checking back in through the week to see what pages show up here! I have had a very chaotic weekend, so I am posting an old page I made for my daughter Kendra's birthday LAST year. (The stinker just had the nerve to turn 16 a few weeks ago!) I used a piece of her wrapping paper to make the background. I just love this page - and they were some great pictures of her!
Can't wait to see your pages! Happy Scrappin'!

Whom Shall I Send

We have some friends whom the Lord has called to serve Him on the mission field in Chad (that's Africa for those of you who may not already know). They are currently immersed in language studies, but recently took their first survey trip with their team to the town where they will live and serve. Steven has started an incredible photo journal at SmugMug. It has been so fascinating. I put the feed on my Google Reader and have been delighted that he has posted something every single day, and have been so moved to pray for their ministry, their family including five small children, their team and the country God has etched on their hearts. If you have a heart for missions at all, please do not miss this awesome opportunity to peek into what God is doing. There are pictures of the difficult lives they will be living when they make it to Chad permanently, mixed with humor, and sentiments that will move you to tears. Please pray for my friends, the McKenzies, that God would use them in a might way.

The Lord's Day - a Busy One

Well, we are home today. It seems that we are back at square one with finding a church. We have been attending a local church since New Years and while we have been blessed by being there for the most part - we seem to have come to an impasse. The pastor said last week that you could not teach in that church unless you had a 100% abstinence stand in regards to alcohol. I know it may sound like a silly reason to decide you can no longer attend the church - and if it was just that we disagreed with the pastor on this issue, it would be no big deal. But I won't be false, and I don't intend to attend a church where I cannot be an active participant in ministering to the body. I would certainly not teach the youth that they should drink (I do believe that there are benefits to abstinence - although not Biblically mandated - with all things being permissible in moderation), and I would never contradict the beliefs or the teachings of the church in regards to my differing beliefs. What was most unsettling is that I know the information about my thinking on the issue was obtained voyeuristically by reading my blog - and then the current sermon series was interrupted - while we were held captive audience while point for point the entire content of what I posted on my blog was addressed. (Including comments about "never knowing someone to eat chocolate cake and kill someone" and "be careful what you post on your blog and your myspace".)
The pastor erred in not discussing the issue with me personally - not so that we could debate but in order to let me know where he was coming from. This is one place where putting yourself and your thoughts and your feelings out there on your blog can become a sticky situation. But this is my blog - a place for me to write what I am thinking and feeling. I am trying to understand why this is such a big issue for the community here. A discussion with someone who has lived here a while may have been helpful in achieving this understanding. But I had another huge alarm bell go off when the sermon last week concluded with the statement that the issue wasn't "debatable" or "up for discussion". I certainly would not disrespect a pastor by debating an issue with him, however, anytime someone in authority in a church will not discuss an issue, and stand as the be-all, end-all, final authority on God's word, it should alarm you. The pastors I have most respected are the ones that allowed you to talk to them, encouraged you to saturate yourself in God's word, and know what you believe because His word tells you, and not because someone tells you that this is what they've decided God's word says, the end.
I hate the idea of visiting churches again, however, we will be traveling for a couple of weeks, and I pray that God will use this time to refresh us while we visit a church I know I could fully belong to while we are away. We are also going to get to visit our friends who are back in the states from Romania, Karen and her family on our way through their state! It will be such a treat to get to see them again - even if it will be just for dinner and an overnighter. Can you believe that her parents are gracious enough to have me and five kids stay overnight at their home? They have already blessed me!
Um, yeah, I had better get off the internet and get packing! Yikes!

28 April 2007

Oh Baby!

We're giving Travis' cousin Renee a baby shower this afternoon. She is my age. I was looking at all the baby stuff, even smelling the diapers we were using for making the diaper cake. For just a second my heart will pang for another baby, and grieve a little that that part of my life is over. I was certain when I had my tubes tied that I had the three children that I wanted - but my heart would be fully open if God gave me more. The girls and I were talking about that - seems to be like a talk-show around here sometimes with the four of them. I was saying that I'm a bit jealous - babies are so precious - but that I would wake up at 3 am and think, "Gee, I wish I had a wee one to wake me up!" I have reached that place in my life where the next baby in my life with likely be a grandbaby! Best wishes to Renee. I hope that we have a chance to love on her baby a little and get a baby-fix!

27 April 2007

30 Hour Famine and a Cake You Can't Eat

The girls that are visiting are participating in a 30 Hour Famine with the church where they attend - and it is TODAY. For moral support - the girls and I decided to do it with them. It started at 10 am this morning - and we are just starting to feel the first pangs of hunger. You know - I keep thinking "it's only ONE day and there are people all over the world who don't know where their next meal is coming from" and yet there is a sense of panic inside of me. I know the Biblical standard for fasting, and we talked about it last night - not complaining or being grumpy - because that is the reward. Deep down inside I think as a chubby person I am afraid of hunger. Doesn't that sound strange? I have never known what it was like to be truly hungry, where I didn't know that when I was rescued (lost on the Appalachian Trail), got to my destination, cooked the food, etc. I would be able to eat. We prayed together a little while ago - and asked God to use our sacrifice to grow us as well as bless the people all over the world who have so little while we have so much.
The kids are watching a movie right now. We have been trying to find other things to invest ourselves in. All five kids helped me work on making this:
It is a copycat idea from something a friend always made at baby showers in WV. I made one for my sister when she was pregnant with her daughter - it was equally as cute. This thing is loaded with baby stuff all the way around - as well as 3 packs of small sized diapers that can be used as the cake is disassembled. So, yes we made a cake - but we can't eat it! Thankfully.
I dread making the cheese ball and pizza dip that I promised. I am also preparing some baby shower games - does anybody know any good ones? We are doing the one where you put the baby food in the diaper and smell it to guess what kind it is, also the one where everybody selects an amount of toilet paper. (I'm not saying any more because I don't want to spoil it in case somebody attending the shower is reading this!)

Contradictions in Righteousness

This post may be a bit incoherent - as it is midnight after a whole afternoon at Galveston Island. There is something exhausting about riding the waves all afternoon. But, I had a blast with the kids. It was a super fun day. But this post really isn't about that. I am saving that for tomorrow. There may even be a video clip involved!
I wanted to post my thoughts about this prohibitionist movement in the area where I live. It appears from reading the paper yesterday that the petition to have the issue of whether or not the county should allow alcohol sales on the next ballot or not has failed. It won't even make the ballot. No skin off my back - as I am not a regular drinker. However, as I have said, I would drink in moderation if I chose to without a guilty conscience.
The thing that is so perplexing to me is the emphasis on this one particular thing that people have such an issue with and complete neglect of other things that the Bible specifically forbids. (I do not think the Bible forbids the consumption of alcohol - but rather forbids drunkenness.) For instance, the fact that half or more of the church comes out the doors on Sundays to light up a smoke. What about our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit? (My temple is not spotless either - I am just illustrating a point.) Or the fact that the high school makes condoms available to students for 25 cents apiece. The last time I checked the Bible strictly forbids sex outside of marriage - period. Do we want to publish a list of the teens who are buying these things in the newspaper? How about the explicit pornography that is mixed in with the regular movies at the local video store? And yet every time I am in the store, half the Christians I have met in the area are in there as well. Where is the call to have that garbage removed from the shelves where our children can see it?
There are contradictions at every turn. Either we want the town completely clean - or we don't. Why is alcohol such a big issue? It is completely possible that the drunk driver that nearly caused a collision with my van filled with children was a resident of my county, leaving a bar in the next one because he couldn't buy alcohol in his own neighborhood. I am speculating - but my thinking is that we aren't really affecting the change we think. And what if all the preachers that are pouring so much energy into fighting this "evil" and keeping it out of their county put the same heart and soul into winning people over for Christ - even the drunks? That just might blow the lid off of the whole enchilada.
I just don't understand how people can get so fixated, hyper-focused on one area of what they consider unrighteousness, and miss the forest for the trees.

26 April 2007

All is Vanity

I can so relate to Solomon when he writes "all is vanity". It seems my days are spent shuffling from one thing to another that is truly meaningless in the big picture, menial tasks that are sure to need repeating the next day - and always sacrifice the things that are of eternal significance. The worst part is that I get my panties all in a wad about it. One second I am a perfectly reasonable human being, and the next I am like a teapot that has just achieved steam. This week we have had to have the motherboard replaced on our BRAND NEW refrigerator, had to call a service technician and troubleshoot why they dishwasher was running for six hours without stopping in the middle of the night, and it seems that every time I turn around I am cooking, cleaning, sweeping, or straightening something. I have a little OCD about a basic standard of cleanliness - and it makes me miserable. I don't need the Flylady, I need her polar opposite. (BTW - when I just went to grab that link I noticed that there was a "Flylady Cruise" coming up - how relaxing is does that sound? A siren goes off at 6:15 am and you have five minutes to dress from head to shoes! Ugh!) Where is the chick that says, it's okay if there is so much dirt on the floor you think you're in the Little House on the Prairie - if your children know that they're loved. Don't freak out if the beds aren't made - make a life that is a bed you can stand to lay in. I need the guru who gives me permission to spend an occasional afternoon reading a good book, scrapbooking, taking a nap, or immerse myself for hours in Bible word study (this is not random, this is something I'd really like to do, and never seem to find the time for). I think that we have entirely too much pressure on us as women to make it all happen. How are y'all doing with all that's on your plate?

25 April 2007

The Very Good, Wonderful, Not too Hot, Terrific Day

Before the girls friends got here from WV, I made plans to visit the NASA Space Center in Houston. We have wanted to do that since we first moved here. It was a very fun day. We packed a lunch and headed out. For me the traffic wasn't so fun. I am not a city driver, and as we got nearer to Houston, we started having two lanes with no shoulders surrounded by cement barriers on either side. We took a tram tour of Johnson Space Center and saw a mock-up Mission Control room that was used for the Apollo era rockets. There were exhibits of all kinds. The kids had a few hands-0n opportunities such as operating a MMU - which is basically like operating a jet pack that moves you around outside of the spacecraft in a weightless environment, and practice at landing a space shuttle. (BTW - I was the worst at this!) We watched a lot of shows about different aspects of being an astronaut, what life is like in space, and learned about all the technology we've gained by missions to space - such as cell phones.
We met a real life hero - a man who served in and was awarded a Purple Heart for being shot down in WWII. His name was Frank. He also served in Korea and Vietnam. The kids stood and talked to him for a long time as he was sitting inside a mock-up of the space shuttle. He was very friendly - he liked the kids a lot. He kept calling the girls "beautiful". I asked him if we could take a picture of everybody with him, and he was happy to comply. He had more decorations on his hat than I think I've ever seen.
After visiting NASA and learning more about space than you could ever want to know - we ate Chinese and I got to have my fill of sushi! (yum yum) I had promised Jessie a trip to Sonic which I will make good later this week! She was gracious and allowed me to take a rain check!
I had decided the day before to take the kids to Galveston Island - which is only 30 minutes south of where we were in Houston - and make the NASA trip and the beach all in one day. The only trouble is that it was a very overcast, extremely windy day. That did not stop the six of them from jumping right into the ocean. I sat to watch them on the sand, and was freezing! (I was also covered with a fine grit of sand and salt!) The ocean was beautiful though - the powerful wind and waves causing me to worship the Creator.
There was so much salt and moisture in the air that few of my pictures out there appear to be very focused. I took them with the panoramic format in order to get the ocean splashing up on the rocks behind them.
Another fun thing that happened was in part due to my navigation of our route home. We left the beach around 8 pm - and found that you can take a ferry across so that you can make just a short 2 hour trip to our house. I knew that we didn't live far from the coast - but I didn't realize it was just that short of a trip. I was also surprised to find that the ferry is free - provided by the TX highway department. The kids were thrilled to get to ride the ferry. Jessie had never been on one before.
It was a very long day. We packed so much into that 24 hour period. We didn't get home until around 11:30 - held up half an hour by the near-miss accident. But it was a super day none of us will ever forget.
BTW - Kullen was there - and wondered why I never took any pictures of him - I explained that it was like trying to hit a moving target. Here is one of him in the ocean. Trying to get him to be still is like trying to nail jell-o to a tree!

He Saved Us - No Really He SAVED Us

This is the cool thing about the Lord - He doesn't just save us from hell for eternity which is way more than enough even if that is ALL that He did - but He continually saves us from all sorts of things. Often He saves me from myself. Can anyone relate to that statement?
Tonight - about 10:30 pm the kids and I were traveling home from a very long day (which I will blog about with excitement tomorrow) through Beaumont. We were going about 65-70 mph, and suddenly traffic in front of me came to an abrupt stop. I swerved left hard and then realizing that wasn't going to give me enough time, I swerved right and ended up bringing the car to a stop on the right hand shoulder next to the car that had been in front of me. There was a single car accident two cars ahead of us. I had 6 children in the car - 3 of which did not belong to me. We were all shaken so badly - but we were praising Jesus that we were safe. I asked the officer directing traffic if it had been a single car accident. When he answered affirmatively, I stated that the wind had been making driving a challenge for me all day - to which he replied, "Yeah, well you aren't drunk either."
Wow. In spite of this incident - it wasn't the alcohol but the person who chose to overindulge in alcohol that was the problem. I think prohibition should have taught us that people will find a way to have what they want - and the more forbidden the fruit is made the more the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve will reach for it, and find ways to have it. I wish we could change hearts instead of trying to make useless laws. How long will history have to repeat itself? Don't get me wrong - I was mad as hell at the driver who came a breath away from causing an accident that involved us - but I think we're approaching it all wrong.
Thank you Jesus for saving us, and for SAVING us!

24 April 2007

Hat Boy

Our neighbor James brought a box of boys clothing over yesterday. He has nephews and was passing the stuff along to Kullen. On the top of the box was an army hat from James' army days - the real deal - camouflage. He said, "If Kullen doesn't want this, I'd like to have it back." I looked at him like he had two heads and said, "James, he is a 9 year old boy. It's a camouflage hat. He's going to love it - so if you want to keep it, you should just take it!" He said it was fine - he just didn't want him to get rid of it. This morning I woke up as hubby was taking a shower to find Kullen asleep in bed beside me, WEARING THE CAMOUFLAGE HAT!

Cult Authority

Authority. This word presents a problem in our culture. We are a generation of think-for-ourselfers. We don’t like anybody to tell us what to do. I have been thinking about this as our family has been watching LOST. The people all seem to want a leader – someone to make the big decisions, someone to run to in case of a crisis – and yet, when that same leader turns around and makes decisions they don’t like, they snort and scrape their feet like a bull in a stall before a fight.
I encountered some of this when I was the coordinator of a co-op for the homeschool families where we lived in West Virginia. Every minute detail of how things were run was constantly in question. I was talking to a more mature woman about the subject and she said to me that people are just rebellious against authority. We don’t live in a society where that is respected – even to the end of people making fun of the President – not just his politics but how he looks, walks and talks, what he wears, etc.
The opposite extreme of this is people who follow any authority like blind sheep. This specifically annoys me when it is in a church setting. People amen anything the pastor says with little or no knowledge for themselves about God’s word and what it says. They sit swallowing what is spoon fed and never question, never dig deeper into the Word for their own growth, and never ask questions. When a pastor or leader says that something is “not up for discussion”, I think that is dangerous territory. I may even suggest cultish. Anybody who tells me I have to believe what they say without question treads on altogether different and seriously more dangerous territory.

22 April 2007

Scrap Happy - Week 2

Okay - so it is slow going here getting this meme started - but I know that if we are patient, and if all participants help get the word out, we will see other digital scrapbookers emerge from the shadows. Please grab the button and put the word out on your blogs, and wherever other scrapbookers gather. Let's get this thing going people - I want to see some pages!

Here is my page for week 2 - the pictures were taken at a Presidential Rally a couple of years ago. The America kit I used seemed perfect for the patriotic theme. I don't remember where I got it.
Let's see some of your pages! Post your page on your blog and link up here. Don't forget to only grab the link to the specific post where your page for this week is posted - it helps the rest of us find it without having to sort through all of your other posts.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at julientexas at sbcglobal dot net.
Thanks! Happy Scrappin'!

21 April 2007

No Time to Blog

Wow - I can hardly think of a day in recent history when I haven't blogged! Weird. Today I was so busy - I never even had time to touch the computer until after dinner - and then it was only to make a quick run through emails. Having a house full makes for busy times - everytime I turn around somebody is hungry, or thirsty or needs something or wants to do something - and I have to figure out how it all fits together! Whew! I am gaining a newfound respect for friends with larger numbers of children than I have. Teenagers are demanding people - but at the same time, their energy is contagious. I found myself sitting at the park today playing some sort of snapping, clapping game.
This afternoon we went to a Homeschool Co-op group family picnic. It was rather low key - but pretty fun regardless. We played some volleyball, ate a picnic lunch and had some enjoyable conversations. It was fun.
I am learning that the sun in Texas has a higher degree of intensity than what I am used to. I was not in the direct sunlight for most of the afternoon - and managed to get sunburned. My face, arms and chest are pretty pink. It could have been much worse, but I honestly didn't think I was getting that burned - however, you do feel somewhat like you are being radiated in the sunlight.
Recently, I have been noticing more and more women exiting public restrooms without washing their hands. This has little to do with the rest of the post, but I was making a disgusting observation. These same women touch the knobs on the doors and the handles on the carts that I have to touch. Gross!
Okay - so I blogged today - it is more like an uninteresting list of events of the day and one random thought. I know you missed me though - and I couldn't leave you hanging any longer.

20 April 2007

A Father's Touch

Recently I have been thinking about how special it is that my girls consider their dad a confidant, friend, and companion. They have inside jokes, conversations that are ongoing and may spring back up at anytime, and a language they alone understand. The friends that are here have that with their dads as well. One was praising her dad on the telephone because he had done something she thought was spectacular. They aren't necessarily "daddy's girls" in the traditional sense, but I see the quiet confidence that each of them has deep down inside because they know they are loved and valued.
Last night it had me thinking about my relationship with my own dad. My parents were divorced when I was nine and my dad immediately started a new family. I felt on the outside. I know that I never felt anchored, secure or truly, deeply loved just for who I am. It made a traumatic impact on the choices I made in life. I am not placing blame at my dad's feet. I know as an adult that generally he did the best that he could. I, however, am still constantly battling the wounds and scars from growing up feeling so utterly and desperately worthless.
This could have two effects on my life. The first being that I sit around drinking bitter gall of resentment - for the love I didn't feel, for the life I didn't have and for the consequences I have to endure from the actions of others. OR, I can experiencing the healing touch of a loving Father who does truly and deeply love me - so much that He gave His own Son for us. I can see that everything that happened was to draw me closer to Him. If I had skipped the pain and hurt, would I love Him as much for saving me from myself? I would surely have been a different person, and that fact fills me with gratitude for the redemptive work He's done in me, and for the love of a Heavenly Father that surpasses anything this world has to offer.
I am so thankful to know fathers that invest so much in the lives of their daughters. I know it is making a difference in their lives, their choices, and how they view the Heavenly Father. They are a picture to their children of His love in this world. But I am a testimony that even when that image is marred, the love of Christ can still be revealed.

19 April 2007

URGENT Prayer Request - Lost Kitten

We have a serious issue going on in our house right now. We can only account for 5 of the 6 kittens that were born on Tuesday night. We were gone so much of the day yesterday that we didn't count them again until this morning I took pictures of some of them yesterday morning though - and this little calico sweetie is missing. Please pray that we find her. Mama kitty doesn't seem the slightest bit worried which makes me think wherever the kitten is - she knows it. We've emptied every closet and checked under every bed and nook and cranny. Please pray for us that we will find her - we are devastated. This was my favorite one.
Update: It is 11 pm and we still haven't found her. Please continue to pray. Mama kitty may know where she is and be taking care of her elsewhere. My house has been turned upside down - but still no sign of her.
Update: 11 am Friday - still no kitten. I don't know where else to look. I am so sad about it. Please keep praying - for a miracle. I worry that wherever she is that if she hasn't eaten in 24 hours - she is starving.

T13 Edition #9 - They're Here - Teen Girl Invasion

My girls friends arrived yesterday. If you didn't know that for a fact you could just visit my house and 30 seconds later it would be clear. We have been invaded. Welcome to teen girl world. It was so exciting when the girls got off the plane - even the stewardess that chaperoning the girls during their flight started squealing and jumping up and down with them. It was awesome. Here is the picture I took of them moments after we were all together -
Here are 13 evidences to the fact that my house has been overrun with teenage girls:

Thirteen Evidences to a Teen Girl Invasion

What you can see:

1. Books

2. Shoes

3. Jewelry

4. Cell phones

5. Make-up and assorted brushes, toiletries and hair implements - both electrical and non-electrical

What you can smell:

6. Body wash, and shampoo drifting in a cloud of steam

7. Perfume

8. Bubble Gum

9. Mouth wash

What you can hear:

10. Loud music and singing

11. Giggles

12. Squealing

13. Deep heartfelt conversations about God, boys, music, politics, etc. You name it - they're talking about it!

18 April 2007

Blogosphere Vernacular

Here is an observation I have made recently. I have been perusing blogs outside my typical circle. There are some funny, insightful women - mamas like me. Some homeschoolers, some not. Some Christians, some not. I have found some fascinating blogs, ones that I have bookmarked and want to read again and again. There are others that are, well, um not to be prudish but they make me feel like I need to take a shower after reading them. I am not sure when the f-word became such a popular adjective, or why one specific blogger has so many euphemisms that correlate to the kicking of an a-- with complete neglect of every other part of the body. How about wringing a neck once in a while, kicking a shin, or maybe pulling some hair? I live in the real world too. I am out in public. The vernacular that seems to permeate a certain segment of the blogging community is generally only heard on the streets in certain company. I am admittedly saying that I have a knee-jerk reaction to pain or frustration, and the words are always there whether they come out of my mouth or shoot through my brain. It isn't so much the words - because in my humble opinion - who decided what words were on "the list" of curse words - and yet at the same time, I strive not to offend others. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (or in this case the fingers type) - and it isn't the word but the malignant heart that is offensive. BUT seriously, can we, as bloggers, broaden our horizons in the scope of writing and language? It takes so little creativity to swim at the bottom of the toilet bowl.

For Heather - Please Donate

Today is a special day at Boomama's. She is giving us an opportunity to share the love with Heather, the young mother and web designer who has contributed so much to the blogging community. She was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. Any donations made here will go to help ease the family's expenses as they travel to the Mayo Clinic and her hubby takes off work to be with her. Please donate - but more importantly please pray for this family. We have seen the devastating effects of a brain tumor in our family - but we hold on to a God who holds all things in His hands. If you want to come back later and this post is buried - you should be able to click on the button in the sidebar and go right to the donation site.

Too Much Excitement for One Day!

We have been anxiously preparing for a visit from WV! The girls have two of their best buddies flying into Houston tomorrow afternoon - and none of us can wait! That's what the countdown is for on my right hand sidebar here - Jessie and Tayva are coming! I am sure that posts over the next week or two will have many details of their visits. I have known Jessie since she was a 2 year old squalling in the church nursery! She is a lot of personality in a small package. I met Tayva when she was a precocious 9 year old - who always spoke her mind. It has been a joy to watch her grow into a young lady and have gracefulness and tact season this still outspokenness! I love these girls - and it will be so awesome to see them in person. It will be like a little love from "home". Don't tell their parents - I might try to keep them!

Also - breaking news - this morning I knew something was up when the cat didn't knock me over on my way to the bathroom to get my attention so I would FEED HER. This evening we returned home after a long day out and couldn't find her. It was strange - so we thought maybe she snuck out when one us opened the door and we didn't notice. We have been trying hard to keep her inside because we are worried she'll get up under our house or a neighbor's house and have those kittens - who will in turn become snake food. We looked everywhere - under beds, in closets, and didn't find her. A second search eventually found her way back behind Kendra's formal dress that was hanging in my bedroom closet. Her eyes were wide - and beside here were six squirming kittens! They are so gorgeous! You know I have to show you:
It looks like two white kittens who may end up looking like their mama, two very calico-ish kittens, one black kitty and one that seems to have stripes. They do seem to change as they get older - but it is a gorgeous variety. Fat Mama (a/k/a Rayne or Princess Sushi) should be so proud! She seems to be taking very good care of them. She did NOT like us moving them from my closet to Kaitlyn's - so we accommodated the princess and moved everything OUT of my closet so she could make a home for her babies there for the time being.

Earlier today - while making a grocery shopping trip for a month's worth of groceries, Kendra and Kullen decided they had enough of Walmart and wanted to go to the car so I gave them the keys. TheY ran the radio and the fan - and long story short - drained my battery. 45 minutes later AAA was there giving me a jump-start. I am going to have to get a new one before we make our trip to WV in a week and a half!

I have also cleaned out my inbox, sorted emails and got generally caught up on work (ah but there will be more tomorrow!), made dinner, and have bread baking in the oven now at half past midnight! I have a long day tomorrow too - so I had better get my butt to bed!

Hope y'all are doing well - I missed my blogging buddies today!
Love ya ~ Jewls

16 April 2007

PLEASE Help Me Advertise!

Dear Reader,
Hi there!
If you are visiting this blog - perhaps you have your own blog, no? I need some other bloggers to help me get the word out about my Scrap Happy Meme. Even if you don't scrapbook, if you would be willing to put up a post about the meme, or link it on your side bar - it would be so great! There is a button and a banner that you could grab and link up. If you need me to email you the link - please feel free to request that as well in the comments or by sending me an email at julientexas at sbcglobal dot net.
I'd appreciate it so much!
Thanks ~ Jewls

Thinking Blogger Award

Wow! My friend Karen nominated me for the "Thinking Blogger Award". Pretty cool. Her words honored me more than the award:
Julie of So Much to Say, So Little Time is my best cyber friend and I have been privileged to meet her in real life. The time I spent at Julie’s house was awesome and from the moment we stepped in, I felt as if we had been friends for a very long time. Julie blogs about a great variety of things from crock-pot recipes to the sin nature of man. Julie and I have a lot in common, especially since we have children approximately the same ages. I’m sure if we lived close by, we’d spend a lot of time together.
You can read her entire post and nominations here.
Thank you Karen - those thoughts are definitely reciprocated! Some of my posts are thoughtful, and others are the lighthearted fodder that you can take or leave. But I enjoy blogging - and I have made some super friends along the way!

The rough part is passing the nominations on. One thing that makes it easier is that so many of my favorite blogs have already been nominated. Here are the five blogs that I choose for the Thinking Blogger Award:
  • My friend Kate at In a Shoe is the mom to like 100 kids. She is a birth mother, foster mother, adoptive mother and a grandmother! I wish she would adopt me, but she's too darn young! She blogs about saying goodbye when kids leave her nest whether they spread their wings or transfer to a different one, and teaching her children that God loves the prostitute and Sunday school teacher alike.
  • Kate's husband, James at Small Green River has a writing style that reflects the way his side of a conversation might go in real life. He is a straight shooter, who has a knack for irony. His posts make me think and laugh at the same time. I had to read his post about mowing to my husband. He also has this little blog that I can't get to come up on my Google Reader. He is one of THE most intelligent guys I know but he can't seem to enable his RSS feed! Hmm? Or maybe he just doesn't want me to read it!
  • My friend Joanne used to have a blog that was called Cheaper than Therapy. Boy isn't that the truth? I used to be so envious of that witty name. Now she blogs at Only Wanted to Comment. I love the way she puts things. It is just so clever - like her blog names. She posts about things from the smoke detector being the dinner bell to forgiveness. There are also some really deep posts about things such as plumber's crack as well, so don't miss those when you visit!
The first three bloggers I know in person. They are friends of mine from West Virginia. Let me just say, I would read those blogs whether I knew them or not! They have drawn me in. These are two bloggers I have never met in person but would like to:
  • My friend and accountability partner, Leslie a/k/a Boltbabe from Raise the Cup and Journey to Simplicity. We have been blogging buddies for a while. She blogs about a myriad of subjects - from frugal living to current events and politics to book reviews at her two blogs. There's always something to learn when you visit. One of my favorite posts ever was the one about the day she spotted a wild cat in her yard and took pictures for her blog! (I'm sure it wasn't just for her blog - but I like to tease. Ya gotta love a blogger who will risk life and limb to keep their blog stimulating!)
  • Fatty at Life on the Rocks is a relatively new blogger. I found her blog one day when she left a comment to one of my posts. We found out quickly that we had a lot in common, and she inspired my quote contest. She writes about all kinds of things - but this quote I read at her blog recently seems to sum it up: in the midst of all the chaos there's laughter, there's love, there are tears, there are frustrations...but there is life. a full and vibrant life...if we just take the time to live it. She's living her life to the fullest - and taking us along for the ride. She's also an amazing artist and shares a lot of her artwork at her blog.
I get excited when my Google Reader shows that there are new posts at the homes of these five bloggers. Pass it on people - pass it on! Here's how:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Scrap Happy - Week 1

Welcome to the first week of Scrap-Happy! If you are a scrapbooker, whether traditional or digital, you are welcome to join us. All you have to do is title a post on your own blog "Scrap Happy - Week 1" - post your scrapbook page and link up here at the bottom of this post in the Scrap Happy Mister Linky. Remember to get the address link that goes directly to the Scrap Happy post so that other participants don't have to weed through other posts to get their creative fix!
Feel free to post any info about how you created the page, what you used to create the page, what inspired the page, or anything else you would like to share.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me by messaging here - or email me at julientexas at sbcglobal dot net.
Without further adieu, here is my page for week 1:
I bought two kits a year ago to benefit a digital designer, Laura Vanderbeek when she was first diagnosed with cancer. The kits came in four parts - and to make this page, I used a mixture of kits 1 and 4. I have been waiting to use it for just the perfect picture with my friends. I think it turned out quite nice.
Just so you know, if you click on the picture it will enlarge it so you can view the page better.
Note: I just checked this feature out - and if you post the original image size it makes your page HUMONGOUS - Just FYI, you may want to post it in a "gallery size".
Happy Scrappin'!

15 April 2007

Lips That Touch Wine Will Appear in the Paper

A new concept that I have encountered since moving to Texas is "dry" counties where alcohol sales are prohibited. It is served in some restaurants, but not sold in stores. There are, however, liquor stores built at the edge of the county, making alcohol only slightly more difficult to obtain. Many pastors in our area are rallying to keep this county dry. There is a petition to put the issue up for a vote that is circulating in the county, and the list of those who have signed it will supposedly be published in the newspaper.
This morning we discussed the issue a bit in Sunday School. I remember something the pastor said about a month ago - in essentials unity, in non-essentials, peace. This is not an issue upon which our salvation hangs, and as such would qualify for the non-essential category. Alcohol is not forbidden in the Bible, although God's word clearly forbids drunkenness. I understand completely that as believers that we should stand for righteousness and against wickedness. The alcohol is not the evil thing - but how people behave because they overindulge. I see gluttony as a rampant sin that permeates the body of Christ (four fingers pointing at myself), and yet outlawing chocolate cake will do little to induce righteousness. I don't think you can legislate morality. The difference is that you do not become intoxicated if you eat chocolate cake, and do foolish things that you later regret. It pretty much ends with regretting the chocolate cake. Drunkenness on the other hand lowers inhibitions and makes you far more vulnerable to other sin - you name it.
My husband who grew up in a dry county pointed out that living in a "dry" county seemed to increase the incidence of drunk driving. Those desiring to purchase alcohol would head out across the county line on Friday and Saturday nights to drive-thru liquor stores and start drinking on their way back home.
There are uses for alcohol other than "partying" or intoxication. I have had more than one doctor recommend drinking a small glass of wine for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even pre-term labor. (I was in the final trimester and was having some miserably unproductive contractions.) I drink alcohol on a rare occasion, and feel no conviction against doing so. As a Christian, my biggest concern is causing someone who has a weakness towards drunkenness to stumble if they should see me buying or drinking alcohol, so I drink in extreme moderation.
The issue here has become quite heated. This week's newspaper is full of letters from readers, the majority of which are against the sale of alcohol in this county. There is one zealous pastor who takes out huge ads in the paper who seems to be provoking more discord than stirring the hearts of the community towards godly living. I wonder at that, and what the point might be in publishing a list of names that are already on public record. Jesus did not publish the names of the long list of men associated with the woman at the well - that would have been more the style of the Pharisees. I don't know what the right answer is - but I do know that making laws won't help us clean up those whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol. Christ alone can make that difference.

14 April 2007

Natural Law and Sin Nature

A couple of years ago I discovered the "Uncle Eric" books by Bluestocking Press. They are totally amazing. They have helped me understand politics, government, inflation, the economy, etc. The books take the perspective of juris naturalis - which means natural law. I think everyone should read them. The two standards for living under this natural law are this (in my words):
  1. Do all that you have said you will do
  2. Do not encroach on others or their property
I love these standards. I think they are excellent in that they basically reflect the core of the Ten commandments. The "Uncle Eric" books are not spiritual per se, but they do point to the governing law under which we all live - and a strict adherence to right and wrong. As a Christian, I believe wholeheartedly that this standard comes from God. He has it outlined in His word over and over again. The problem with living in accordance with natural law is this - the sin nature. Even if I abide by these principles, if others don't, there is a conflict. However, we know that the fallen world surrounds us and the sin nature is in us all. So there are none who can live perfectly under the governing of the natural law, apart from Christ.
I was thinking about this the other day when we were watching some episodes from the first season of LOST. (I do not typically watch much television but this one came recommended - thanks Karen!) A group of 40 some people survive a plane crash and are stranded on a deserted island. They go about making a "community" among themselves as the chances of being rescued appear slim. At one point they realize an intruder - someone who was on the island before they were - has infiltrated their community - and start taking inventory of who was on the plane - comparing personal information from each individual and comparing it to the flight manifest. Hurley, the self-appointed statistician, initiates this beginning form of "island government", and one of the other island members accuses him of imposing his own brand of the "Patriot Act". However, it was this check that was done that helped them find the intruder in their midst. The truth of the matter is that while often we are resistant to the restraints of government, and the privacy and freedoms that we have to give up, we all want to know about the other guy. It really made me think.

So while juris naturalis may indeed be an excellent standard to live by, as are the Ten Commandments, who can do it?

Breakfast Casserole

Last night there was a terrible storm that went ripping through our neck of the woods. We woke this morning to find some huge tree limbs in the backyard. As usual, every member of the family slept through it except me. I was up early - so I decided to make the sleepy heads some breakfast. My step-mother has made this recipe before but I never did until today.

Breakfast Casserole
6 slices bread, cubed
1 pound sausage, browned and drained (I added chopped onion)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
8 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Cube bread and place evenly in greased 9x13 pan or baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with sausage and cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over ingredients in pan. (May cover and chill overnight - if you do this remove from fridge 15 minutes before baking.) Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees or until set. Cut in squares to serve.
Serves 8 - 10.

My husband loved this. Good thing - he's having it for dinner, as we are going to play Lazer Tag with the youth group!

13 April 2007

Blood and Gore, Get Lost, and I'm Tired

Yesterday at co-op, Kullen took a fall. He was sitting on a horizontal pole that was only about 18 inches off of the ground, but when he flipped backwards, he banged his head. I was inside the church where we meet, and suddenly another boy came running inside screaming, "He's bleeding". Kullen ran in behind him, and in slow motion I watched his hand come off the back of his head and it as FULL of blood. My new friend, Tina and I were in the bathroom with him, and six saturated wads of paper towels later, the bleeding finally stopped. It was such a small injury to have bled so badly - but I remembered a similar cut my brother got once on the elementary school playground that bled so badly I thought he was going to die. We escaped stitches - - - this time!

Today we had a day at the park scheduled. I got a bit of a late start, but it was raining, and I wondered if they would still have it. TWO HOURS later I found my way there - but it was worth it. The park was nice, and the weather was a little windy but comfortably cool, although overcast. I was so frustrated before we got there. It was my own fault, as I didn't print out the directions. Since I had read them, I thought I was alright, but I was very wrong. I stopped three times for directions - but nobody knew where this park was, or they didn't seem to know the name of any street, landmark, etc. that might have helped me get there. I used to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains where there were few street signs, and managed to give people fairly competent directions to get from one place to another. I have not had a good experience with directions since we got here.

Anyway, I'm tired - but that's a recap of things that have been going on since I last blogged. I have been having some deep thoughts lately - but those will have to wait for later. Have a super weekend!

Last Day to Vote at HSB Awards!

Today is the last day to make your choice known in the Homeschool Blog Awards. This blog was voted for Best Variety and Best Cyber-Buddy Blogger. It was such a thrill to be nominated amongst the incredible blogs that are linked there. If you haven't voted yet, don't forget to get your hiney over there today!

12 April 2007

T13 Edition #8 Thirteen Scent Memories

The smell of these things take me elsewhere:

1. Mangoes remind me of our Cuban neighbors when I lived in South Florida in elementary school.

2. Boxwood shrubs remind me of my grandparents house when I was a little girl. I remember standing, waiting an eternity for my parents to stop talking so we could leave and sometimes burying myself in them. I also remember lying to take a nap on the front porch glider, and the air all around smelled like them.

3. Estee Lauder perfumes remind me of my mother. She wore several different ones, but she would always leave a cloud of her current scent behind her when she left for work.

4. A fireplace with wood burning reminds me of the home of friends who rescued my friend and I with four of our children off of the Appalachian Trail.

5. Hot apple cider makes me think of fall, and leaves, festivals and hayrides.

6. Moth balls put me in mind of my grandmother’s house when I was a little girl.

7. Elmer’s glue and crayons remind me of elementary school.

8. Peaches always remind me of Georgia and turning 13.

9. Hairspray (the heavy scented aerosol kind) reminds me of my aunt and her bouffant hairdo.

10. Bubble gum and strawberry are two scents that remind me of my first lip gloss, when I was old enough to wear it.

11. The smell of the mall – perfumes, acrylic nails, cinnamon buns, pizza – all swirl together to remind me of being a teenager.

12. Honeysuckle reminds me of summer.

13. Fresh cut grass is a childhood memory – the smell of it mingled with my dad’s sweat made me feel safe and cared for.

A Plea to Fellow Believers

Throughout the last several years, I have often been plagued with this thought – as Christians in the world what impact are we making? This goes beyond witnessing to someone to share Christ with them, but even to every transaction we make, every word we say, the attitude we express to our children and spouse, etc. If we hand back the dollar we were overpaid to the cashier – this speaks volumes about our commitment to integrity. If we let someone out in busy traffic – we are living out that we are not just looking out for number one but living out the Biblical mandate to think of others more highly than ourselves. Even if we aren’t evangelistic in how we speak to others , our lives are either a witness to or a mockery of Christ’s love.
My daughter has a new friend. He is a special young man, you can tell this when you first meet him. Some other teens that we have met tell us that he is the VP of the CIA (Christians in Action) club at school. He used to be a leader in the youth group. His spiritual life seems to be in a bit of a slump. His appetites for the things of the world seem to be on the increase. He loves the Lord, and every single time I see him, even though he pulls up playing music that I don’t want my 9 year old to hear, he is wearing a “Christian t-shirt”. The last time he was here, I was asking him why I don’t see him in church. He comes to Sunday school, but he goes directly to work at one of the only local restaurants after that. I told him that stunk – to which he replied, “Yeah. The people who come in after church are our WORST customers.” While the enemy and the world are enticing his heart towards its values, those who profess the name of Christ are pushing him away. Evidently these “Christians” are demanding, rude, picky, and leave poor tips. Yes, we are only human, and everybody has a bad day, but if we are being constantly transformed into His image – these instances should be very few and far between. And what about going back to apologize when you have that occasional "bad day"?
I have been in gatherings where others have acted hateful to our wait-staff, only to turn around and bow their heads over their meal. It smacks of hypocrisy. If you are going to behave badly, don’t wear your “Christian” jewelry, t-shirts or bumper stickers. Just blend in with the homogenous crowd – which is all you are doing anyway – but don’t defame the Name of MY Jesus. Or, decide right now to be different – swim upstream against the flow of the crowd, and you’ll never know what an impact your words and actions may make to a watching world.

Person of the Week

I have seen this before but was tipped off by Spirrittibee's blog - and thought it was worth sharing.

Regardless of your opinion on whether we should or should not be in Iraq, shouldn't we all be giving our soldiers this kind of reception? This sacrificial love for country benefits us all, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. This man has the right idea - and we're sure proud to say he's from Texas!

Crock-pot Cookin' - Chinese Hamburger

I will have to admit - when I have to do the first step - like brown the ground beef - it hardly seems like a "crock pot" meal to me. But this one sounds so good - I am going to try it tonight.
Chinese Hamburger
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion diced
2 ribs celery, diced
10 3/4 oz can chicken noodle soup (I am not using this - I am cooking linguine and adding some chicken broth)
12 oz can of Chinese vegetables (hate canned veggies - I am using frozen)
salt to taste, about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp
pepper to taste, about 1/4 tsp
1 green pepper diced (will omit because it's in the frozen veggies)
1 tsp soy sauce

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker
2. Cover. Cook on High 3-4 hours
3. Serve over rice (I won't do that because I'm using noodles)

So - this recipe is really just a base to get started making it the way I'd really like it. I got this recipe from the Fix it & Forget it cookbook.

You can find more yummy recipes later today at Diary of a SAHM.

11 April 2007

CD Recommendation - Top of My Lungs

Oohh! I just have to recommend a CD. One thing that is always such a lift to my spirits is worship music. I love the song "Your Name":
Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name ~ let the nations sing it louder
Cause nothing has the power to save
But Your Name

Today I was listening to the radio and heard the theme song of their new CD "Top of My Lungs". It was awesome. Listening to it on the way home this evening with Kendra I started bawling when the song "Amazed" was playing. The chorus goes like this:

Lord, I'm amazed by You
Lord, I'm amazed by You
Lord, I'm amazed by You ~ how You love me

This was exactly what I have been feeling - why would HE love ME. That's the beauty part - even though He totally knows me - He just does.
If you're looking for a good CD - this one comes highly recommended.

Drivers License Test - Part 2

The saga begins - if you can guess by the cheesy smile on this adorable face, I am now the parent of a teenager with her learner's permit.
Can I just say that I am NOT ready for this? The "learner's" part that is. What this means is that there is a whole lot to learn for her, and a whole lot to teach for me. Here she is sitting behind the wheel of the nicest car I have ever had. Could somebody explain to me how that happens? As soon as we can afford a decent vehicle, we have to put it in the hands of our children!
I let her drive from the DPS office and through the middle of town. She did a great job......until......she made a screeching turn into the video store parking lot and nearly took out a shrub. It shook both of us up a bit, but the point was made as to the power of a moving vehicle. I know the girl that was working inside the video store thought she was coming straight through that front window. After we realized it was alright we both laughed quite a bit. Whew! In my attempt at photo journalism and love of scrapbooking, I took this picture of her first skid-mark. Thankfully it was across some grass, and her foot found the brake.
Please pray for us during this time. We are experiencing growing pains!

Perspective and Prayer Request

I am thankful that the Lord's mercies are new every morning. There was a time when I couldn't have experienced that - a new day. One miserable day seemed to roll into the next, but not so much anymore. And I got a reality check.....
This morning I read about Heather - she is one of the super talented ladies behind the Homeschool Blog Awards. She just found out she has cancer, likely in her brain. Please pray for her and her family. These are surely scary days for all of them. Pray for her healing, the wisdom of doctors, for the Lord to help her with the sense that this is not fair. It doesn't seem fair.
This morning the revelation was this - life is too short to allow insecurity and discouragement rob us of our days. How can I get it so twisted in my feeble little mind?

Lord be with Heather today.

10 April 2007

I Choose to Believe

Tonight, I feel like Leah. You know, from the Bible. She’s the one whose father tricked Jacob into marrying her. That is pretty much how I have felt most of my life. Deep down it is my secret fear that nobody would be with me unless they had to - parent, friend, spouse, children. There’s that warm fuzzy word – obligation. Ugh. Is there anyone as familiar as I am with this intense struggle with insecurity? I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Most days I am a happy-go-lucky person, but these attacks on my heart come with a vengeance. I know that it is spiritual in nature. I know that the goal of the enemy is bigger than just my personal discouragement. I would like to turn the tables on him - I know who I am in Christ. He has told me I am His child. He loves me and wants me. I have to totally and completely make this statement in faith – because truly most times I don’t believe it in my heart of hearts. And I know my thinking is flawed. Just as soon as I begin to think to myself – “why would He want me?” there is a preconceived notion that He would want me for anything that I myself can offer. The truth is that I cannot do anything to earn His love. In my life this insecurity has taken on many facets. It has made me bail on relationships before they could bail on me. It has made me hurt others who have truly loved me, in complete and utter panic to make a quick escape. I am thankful that since I have become a Christian the acting out of these episodes has become almost non-existent. However, the working them out of my own heart and mind seems a bit more complicated. I will pray to take captive every thought that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ. I believe His word to be true – even when my feelings go completely against it – I will choose to believe that HE loves me, and that no matter what may come in life, HE will never leave me or forsake me.

This is real life blogging here people - I couldn't make this up. Pollyanna didn't show up tonight!

What Does a Good Blog Make?

That was a pretty backwards way to ask the question inspired by an email conversation I have been having with my friend Leslie at Raise the Cup. We were discussing blog traffic and what keeps people coming to your blog. She has several blogs and prefers blogs that are singularly focused on - politics, homeschooling, home-making, homesteading, current events, etc. I personally get bored with these blogs (not hers of course - I read ALL of them!). I do not repeat visit blogs that are about the same thing all the time, generally. There are some that have drawn me in, but I tend to visit, skim, and leave. The Google Reader has made this easy - I just glance the content and decide if I want to read more, visit, leave a comment, etc. Leslie and I both agreed that we find it ever so boring to visit a blog that is nothing more than memes - with nothing in between. I enjoy Thursday Thirteen and Slow Cookin' Thursday (evidently Thursday is my day for memes!) but there seems to be themes for every day of the week. I only participate in the ones that I find personally enjoyable. But if I stumble on a blog that is nothing but Secret Sunday, Manic Monday, Ta Da Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday...(you get the picture) - I likely won't return. I like memes - don't get me wrong - I'm even starting my own - but if that's all there is it gets rather boring. I like things that are a little more personal than that. Everybody is different, but I was wondering if I could get some input from readers - what do you like or dislike about certain blogs? Does finding someone's household schedule make you want to pluck your eyes out with a spoon, or does it encourage you to get your own act together? Do you find the rantings of political blogs monotonous or are they inspiring? What brings you back to a blog and makes you want to read more? Do you like one theme or a variety? Just thought maybe you would like to join our conversation and that we could all learn from each other.

Blueberry Muffin Recipe

I thought since BOTH of my girls mentioned it in the previous post - that perhaps y'all would like the recipe to these awesome blueberry muffins that I made for the first time on Easter Sunday. I got this recipe from the Taste of Home cookbook - and it was wonderful. We will definitely make them again!
Berry Cream Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add berries and toss gently. Combine the eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
2. Fill greased muffin cups two-thirds full. (personal note: whenever I make muffins, I always sprinkle sugar on the tops if the muffin doesn't have a topping - it makes a nice sweet crust on the top) Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
Yield: about 1 dozen
Note: If using frozen berries, do not thaw before using.

These were terrific. We will definitely be making them again.

09 April 2007

A Special Promise

Let me preface what I am about to say by telling you that my husband is NOT a gift giver. He doesn't do it. Few times in the almost 20 years we have been together has he really done this well. I've learned to accept it and it has made our marriage much better. A month or so ago, he came home from work and began feverishly searching the internet for lock and key necklaces. It took a while but he eventually found what he wanted. Yesterday morning, before church, when the girls were sitting at the kitchen counter having breakfast, their daddy presented each of them with these pretty little boxes. I tried to stay out of the room and let them have "their moment".

Here is Kendra's telling of what happened:

You Mean the World to Me. . .

The only reason I got up as early as I did yesterday morning was because my mom woke me up saying, "We have warm blueberry muffins in the kitchen!" My sister and I stumbled out into the kitchen and sat at the island eating our muffins sleepily.
That's when my dad came up beheind us and started hugging us, and said, "I love you girls." Then he stood up and stood across from us on the other side of the island. "I love you girls a lot," he said. "Well, a little anyway," he teased. Then smiling, "No really, I love you girls a lot. And I want you to guard your...what's the word...What's that word, Julie?" When he said this, he reminded me of my Papa, who always wanted the right word. Even when he had a brain tumor and he couldn't remember any word he wanted, he always wanted his speech to be perfect, and apologized incessantly when he couldn't find the right word.
"Innocence?" Mom suggested. "Yeah that..." he said. "And also your...virtue." I could tell he was 'settling' by using the word virtue, because he couldn't find the right one. "So I got you girls something to remind you." Just then he pulled out two beautiful little jewelry boxes. The one he laid in front of me was pastel blue with a pretty little blue ribbon tied around it. My sister's was the same except it was light pink instead. We opened the boxes, and in mine was a silver necklace with a silver heart shaped charm on the end of it, which had a keyhole in the middle and pink little stones aroud the edge. Next to it was a key, which also had pink stones on it. My sister's was the same, except that it had light purple stones. "Now I want you girls to keep these necklaces," he said. "And I'm going to keep the key, and on your wedding day, I'm going to give the key to your husband." Then he put the necklaces on us himself. Now this was truly an effort for him, because as my mom describes it, it's like he 'has big toes for fingers'. =D My sister and I were awestruck...Not that we don't think our dad loves us...It's just that he has a unique love language. He shows us he loves us by giving to us, and by talking to us. He tells us he loves us as well, but just the fact that he would put so much thought and romance into something like this was amazing. I truly appreciate this gift...It is a wonderful one, because he didn't just shove some necklaces at us and have it be a gift...He showed us that he truly loved us with a gift that had more substance than material worth. I will always keep this necklace and wear it as often as possible...I will always keep this memory treasured in my heart...and if my Dad leaves this earth before Jesus comes back (and for that matter, if he leaves it before I do) I will always have that memory and the knowledge that he loves me. I hope I can give him a gift someday with as much worth as that. I love you so much, Daddy! Thank you!
PS - He eventually found the word he wanted. It was 'purity'=D

Here is what Kaitlyn had to say about the special gift:

Yesterday, Kendra and I woke up to the warm smell of blueberry muffins. We sat at the island and waited for them to come out. Daddy walked in to the kitchen, and started talking to us, and eventually he started talking to us about this. He told us that he loved us a whole lot, and that he wanted us to stay his girls, until we got married, and that he wanted our marriages to be centered around Jesus. He told us that he wanted us to keep our hearts pure, and ourselves pure. He gave us two beautiful necklaces with a heart lock charm, mine is purple. Each necklace came with a key, and Dad said that he was going to give the key to our husbands on our Wedding day. I love my Daddy so much, and it means the world to know that he cares about what we do with ourselves, and our lives. I respect, and love him sooooo much. It was all his own idea.

This post deserves a purity testimony as well. When I was younger, my Mom started talking to me about Sex, and purity, and I thought to myself, ' I can do this, I can stay pure, how hard can it be?' And I would just brush it off my shoulder. Now that I'm older the pressure of the world is closing in on me, and I finally understand how hard it really can be. A while ago, I made my decision. Until that day, until God tells me the person is right, until everything is in it's place, I will remain pure, I will keep myself pure for my God, and my future husband. And Until then, I will guard not just my body, but my heart and mind from anything that will cause me to stumble. I am not ashamed of my decision.
I Thank Jesus, My Parents, Mrs. Tina F, and Kendra for helping me with my decision.

I had to snag these from their MySpaces and copy them here so that you could read them for yourselves. The look on their faces was the most precious and priceless thing I have ever seen. It means so much as a teenage girl to know that you have a daddy that loves you. It helps you make right choices. To know you have a father who will stand up for you holding out for God's best for you, is beyond words. Their necklaces have a lock, and daddy holds the keys. He told them he was keeping the keys until the day he hands them over to the man that they marry one day. I don't think he'll be handing these over to just anyone!

Love-Hate Relationship

I know that these pictures alone could stand as sole evidence of my firm standing as a front-runner for the "Most Insane Blogger" award! My daughters came in as I was taking this picture and said, "What ARE you doing?" Taking a picture to go with my post of course! This refrigerator is an object of my love and hate. Six months ago when we bought our new house, for the first time in my adult life, I was able to purchase some new appliances - a refrigerator, and washer and dryer (which are sure to appear in a future post!). We bought the top refrigerator and bottom freezer, and while I love love love the fridge on the top, I hate hate hate the freezer drawer on the bottom. It seems I can only get half the stuff that I used to in there. I am glad that it rolls out like a basket but this definitely gives me reduced capacity. Plus, as most women know, nothing that goes in the freezer is designed to stack in there well. Nothing. I buy mostly fresh or frozen vegetables, and those things are a huge pain. There is a little handy roll out drawer for items that are smaller, but that hardly helps. I do love the ice maker. But, I wish I had known that it would be so small. I cleaned this whole thing out top to bottom today in anticipation of a BIG shopping trip, and the freezer is half full - even though there isn't much in there. I opened the refrigerator this afternoon to decide what to make for dinner and came up with bread and ketchup. Hey, that's close to spaghetti, right?

Homeschool Blog Awards - Voting Begins

I have been completely overwhelmed to have been nominated in two categories for the Homeschool Blog Awards. It is interesting to me that I started out blogging as a homeschooler, and while that is a part of what I blog about, it is not who I am. I am a mom who keeps my children home for school, but it is not all of me. I like to write, scrapbook, tell jokes, read, discuss issues related to politics, home-making, spiritual life, etc. There are many facets of this blogger - which means I never expected to be nominated for "homeschool" blog awards - as so few of my posts are about homeschooling, per se, and yet all of them are in that they are about our lives, which I believe is where we are learning all the time, to coin a John Holt phrase. It is interesting how this has changed - as it used to be one of the main ways I identified myself, and now it seems I hardly mention it until I get to know somebody or they ask the question, "Where do your kids go to school?" It is one of a million streaming adjectives that describe who I am. I know this is true of all homeschool moms - but I have noticed that some blogs tend to focus more on this aspect. Those are the blogs I thought the HSB awards were about. However, what I did not anticipate were the following categories for which I was nominated: Best Cyber-Buddy Blogger and Best Variety, which are both homeschooling and so much more. I think they suit what goes on here in my little corner of the blogosphere. If you would like to vote for me, I've made the categories linkable - so you can click right over there and place your vote. I'm listed as "So Much to Say, So Little Time". Be sure and check out the other outstanding blogs linked there as well!

08 April 2007

Something to BLOG About

I was wondering the other day if any of my blogger-buddies get teased by their family for their "blogging" habit. My husband teases me frequently - in fact during the snowstorm in east Texas yesterday he kept saying, "Quick! Take some pictures to put on your blawg!" (I don't know why he says it that way - but you can hear how he mocks me!) My children used to do this little "Blog, blog, blog" thing that sounded like a bunch of clucking chickens. Today, when the cheeky middle daughter burst into this song, and got her brother and sister involved, Easter or not Easter - we had to make this video! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, she says with a sarcastic grin that means the Easter bunny will be bringing organic veggies and cups of yogurt dip in the kiddos baskets next year! They think they're SO FUNNY!

Feel free to link back here - share with other bloggers! Let my shame be theirs! bwaaahhaahaaha!

Sermon Ponderings - The Resurrected Christ

Our pastor, "Brother Randal" as those who are comfortable with southern etiquette call him, was really fired up today. I know it is pathetic, but I was feeling a bit blah this morning. After that fresh revelation from the Lord yesterday about The Day In Between, I was needing yet another. Why my fickle soul is like that I don't know. It seems that it can all fade to gray and I forget the joy of the Easter lilies, and the new life of spring, and the power of the resurrected Christ. I am thankful to go to a Bible believing church, and to have a man of God that preaches from the Word, and for the mercies every morning to experience the Lord anew.
The thing that stood out to me most from the sermon this morning is how Jesus not only has Creator-rights, but He has Redeemer-rights. I heard a story a long time ago of a little boy who built a boat and put it in the water only to have it carried away by the current. Later he was walking past a toy shop window and saw HIS boat! The shop owner told him that he would have to buy it, so the little boy worked diligently to save enough money to get the boat back. The day he was able to buy back his boat, he walked out of the store clutching his treasure in his hands. He said, "Now you're twice mine! I made you, and I bought you!" What a precious picture of the Creator/Redeemer Christ.
I'm so glad He's risen, that my name may be written in Heaven. I have experienced the joy of a redeemed life. I pray that YOU know Him too!

07 April 2007

I'm Dreaming of a WHITE Easter????

This has got to be THE weirdest thing I have ever seen! It was so totally unexpected. We went to a "Good Saturday" family get together, and shortly after everyone was assembled, somebody said, "It's snowing!" We had seen a few flurries mixed in with sleety rain on the way there, but of course you know I thought to myself, "This is TEXAS. That is all you're ever gonna see!" Well fool me - because every few minutes my husband was saying, "Julie, come and take a picture of THIS!" The flakes were getting bigger and bigger, and before you knew it the grass was covered, kids were outside in flip flops and capris, grabbing snow off of cars and throwing it at each other. Unreal. There were spring flowers in full bloom - because it has been HOT here. Just yesterday my girls were laying out on a blanket in the sunshine. And today we see this:
This is the only picture I could get of all three of my kids in one spot - and this is before the ground was even white! See all the cutie-patootie native Texans in the background - they threw the door open and the whole crowd of us came in and out watching this in awe and wonder! Good thing my girls turned around at the last minute and went inside to grab their coats when we were leaving the house. I was wearing capri pants, a spring shirt and a lightweight jacket - in total denial. I was freezing! A white Easter? Whoda thunk it?

On another very interesting note, on our way home the neighboring town was hosting a "Dogwood Festival" and they were shooting off fireworks as we came through, so we pulled over to stand in the sleet and watch them! I KNOW that is a first - I've never seen fireworks and snow on the same day!