Saturday, March 22, 2008

Timing is Everything

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

"Like when I'm in the bathroom looking at my toilet paper, I'm like 'Wow! That's toilet paper?' I don't know if we appreciate how much we have. " ~Peter Nivio Zarlenga

"An inefficient virus kills its host. A clever virus stays with it. " ~James Lovelock

Tip for the day:

When planning a task like this:

Be sure to coordinate ahead of time with the likes of these:



Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Commemoration and Commotion

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” ~Psalm 127:5

“Children have a way of forcing you back into the present moment.” ~Lorna Luft

“A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.” ~Paul Sweeney

C’mon everyone, admit it: there are times during the parenting journey when you want nothing more than to sell your kids in an online auction. There are other instances, fortunately, when things go well enough that it makes those infrequent Ebay moments seem a little more tolerable. Finally, there are the occasional junctures when you come to realize that the notion of children as a gift or reward is really not all that far-fetched after all.

The kids overheard me mention our wedding anniversary this morning while on the phone with a friend. An hour or so later, we were presented with a homemade card that would bring tears to the eyes of any sensitive parent; it even brought tears to my eyes, so that’s saying something. The front of the card was decorated with confetti and balloons, as if a celebration were in order.

“The stuff on the back I put there because I wasn’t sure what to say,” I was told.

Wow. You may not have been sure what to say, but how precious are you for saying it??

“I mean, some of that stuff I just made up.”


“Like that one about feeding us. I made that one up.”

OK, you can stop now. Don’t ruin the momen– … wait a minute! We feed you!

“Happy Anniversary!”

Thank you, precious. It's all worthwhile. Even the Ebay days.

(Oh, and honey, you’re pretty cool, too. I mean, I haven't had an Ebay moment with you in quite some time! ;-) Seriously, Happy Aniversiry! I love you!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” ~C. S. Lewis

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves …” ~Anatole France

“Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.” ~Robert C. Gallagher

He’s always been what I call a “snuggle-bum,” but lately our son (who is approaching six years old) has begun showing his “I’m too cool for you, Mom” side. In a way I am disappointed. Not hurt, of course, for I want him to grow up and be independent, capable, and on his own. But a trifle saddened - he’s my baby, you know.

Sometimes I’m the coolest mom in the universe and other times he is completely embarrassed by me in some kind of pre-adolescent foreshadowing. Sometimes he is most loving and affectionate, crawling into my lap and reverting to a sort of cutsie talk that he assumes (rightfully so) will grasp Mommy’s heart. “Mommy want my snuggles??” At other times, however, he turns away from my advances, crossing his arms with a humpf, and declaring, “NO KISSES!”

He’s funny about it. Most days he tells me I can only give him four kisses for the whole day. I am usually able to bargain with him, though … that or steal extra kisses in a way that makes him laugh. Recently I got him to agree that I could give him one thousand kisses in one day. Now, of course, these weren’t all sweet, heartfelt smooches. Rather, most of them were machine gun kisses, delivered to his cheeks and forehead thirty or forty at a time before he would finally make me come up for air. Sometime in the late afternoon, at about 700, he decided he didn’t want any more, but you know, a deal’s a deal. And so by bedtime, a thousand he received. (After he fell asleep, I snuck in three or four more just for good measure.)

This is the same kid who decided to sell his train sets this weekend at a garage sale; all of them. “Are you sure you’re sure buddy?” I asked one more time, realizing I was not quite ready to part with his babyhood. “Yes,” he replied, getting quite annoyed with me. “Why? You don’t want me to grow up or something?”

Ah, wisdom beyond his years. (I put a Thomas engine away for safekeeping.)

Our daughter asked him today, “What do you want to be when you grow up, bub? I don’t even know.”

He said he didn’t know either. I reminded them both that last I heard he wanted to live with mommy and daddy for the rest of his life. Typically when he has said that to me in the past, I have responded that “I would really like that, buddy! Of course, if you ever change your mind, that’s okay, too. We’ll understand.” I am not sure if he’s completely embarrassed by the notion that he might one day get married, or if he can’t fathom the concept of choosing a wife over mom and dad, but I’m sure the day will come when he can’t imagine life without a certain beautiful woman by his side … one he calls by her first name, anyway.

So when I reminded him of that today he responded very enthusiastically. “Yeah! I am going to take care of mommy and daddy forever.” Oh, how sweet! But, are you going to limit me to four kisses a day forever??

It’s interesting to watch him as he wavers between toddlerhood and a “you’re-embarrassing-me-and-I’m-too-cool-for-you” childhood. My baby is growing up. I guess it’s inevitable. Not that I would want to stop it, though, even if I could. Well, maybe slow it down just a little. :-)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This is Completely Irrational

“Pi R not square; Pi R round.” ~Unknown

"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit." ~Psalm 147:5

“But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?” ~2 Chronicles 2:6a

I couldn’t let a day like today go by without giving a shout out to fellow nerds everywhere.

Happy Pi Day!

Enjoy the first one thousand decimal places of Pi below!

1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209 7494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651 3282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102 7019385211055596446229489549303819644288109756659334461 2847564823378678316527120190914564856692346034861045432 6648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920 9628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841 4695194151160943305727036575959195309218611738193261179 3105118548074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011 9491298336733624406566430860213949463952247371907021798 6094370277053921717629317675238467481846766940513200056 8127145263560827785771342757789609173637178721468440901 2249534301465495853710507922796892589235420199561121290 2196086403441815981362977477130996051870721134999999837 2978049951059731732816096318595024459455346908302642522 3082533446850352619311881710100031378387528865875332083 8142061717766914730359825349042875546873115956286388235 3787593751957781857780532171226806613001927876611195909 2164201989380952572010654858632788659361533818279682303 0195203530185296899577362259941389124972177528347913151 5574857242454150695950829533116861727855889075098381754 6374649393192550604009277016711390098488240128583616035 6370766010471018194295559619894676783744944825537977472 6847104047534646208046684259069491293313677028989152104 7521620569660240580381501935112533824300355876402474964 7326391419927260426992279678235478163600934172164121992 4586315030286182974555706749838505494588586926995690927 2107975093029553211653449872027559602364806654991198818 3479775356636980742654252786255181841757467289097777279 3800081647060016145249192173217214772350141441973568548 1613611573525521334757418494684385233239073941433345477 6241686251898356948556209921922218427255025425688767179 0494601653466804988627232791786085784383827967976681454
1009538837 ...

All I have to say is, if God knows every single digit of this incredible, infinite number (and He does), then surely He can handle any problem I'll ever face. :-)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pop Art

“The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.” ~Jackson Pollock

“Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.” ~David Gerrold

The microwave we had when we got married had a tendency to burn popcorn, so we have always popped “real” popcorn on the stove. We don’t even keep microwave popcorn in the house. There is definitely an art to stove popping, though – it’s not as easy as it looks.

Anyway, a babysitter came to stay with the kids not long ago. I don’t know whose idea it was to make popcorn – to be honest, I don’t really want to know. But at some point during the evening, some collection of individuals decided to make a snack. Apparently the babysitter did not know how to do this on the stove – and why should she? Microwave ovens preceded her into this world. So, she consulted the experts: our kids. I’ve seen my dad do it a bunch of times. Oooookay.

Before I go any further, I understand that many of you may never have made popcorn this way, either, so let me brief you for a moment. First, you pour about two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan. Add three or four kernels of popcorn and put on the lid. Turn on the burner to medium high and wait for the first kernel to pop. (That’s how you know the oil and the air in the pot is hot enough.) Then add about 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels, hold the lid on tight with one hand, and commence shaking the pot back and forth across the burner until the popping stops. (The movement will prevent scorching.)

OK, so back to the story. The “experts” directed the babysitter to put in about a ½” layer of oil and cover the bottom of the pot with popcorn. I won’t insult your intelligence by drawing any comparisons with the proper procedures in the preceding paragraph. You can make the adequate deductions. And, no, they did not tell her to put on a lid.

*** Now, kids out there who may be reading, please don’t try this at home. Or at anyone else’s home for that matter. ***

A few minutes later the oil was hot, and the bottom of the pot was scorching, but the corn was not popping. Instead, the oil began splattering all over the counter, the microwave, the floor, and, I’m sure, numerous other places that I don’t even want to think about. The grocery list (right) lying next to the stove looked like a piece of abstract impressionism. Word is, at one point, she tried to throw a towel over the pot to stop the splatter.

Acknowledging a failed attempt, they gave up on stove popping, but the party was far from over, my friends! It gets better! They found a glass mixing bowl in the cabinet, put a cup or two of oil in the bottom, added lots of popcorn and … yep, you guessed it! Put it in the microwave!

Now at this point in the story I’m thinking, … well, never mind what I was thinking. Suffice to say, I had thoughts. But, you know what? Apparently it worked!! Yes, popcorn and oil were both flying around inside the microwave, but they actually succeeded in producing edible popcorn!

Some time later, as I pulled into the garage, I detected what smelled like burned popcorn before I ever opened my car door. As I got out and the smell was significantly stronger, I began to worry that the house might be on fire, but no. The kids were in bed and the babysitter was watching TV.

“I don’t know what that is, but I can smell it in the garage,” I said as kindly as I could. (I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt, you see.)

She proceeded to tell me (part of) the story. (The rest we would get out of the kids the next day.) As she talked, I went into the kitchen and looked around.

Then she said in her nicest voice, “Do you want me to clean it up?”

*** Now, kids, when you make a mess, you typically don’t need permission to clean it up. I just wanted to clarify that. ***

Ahhh, yes. So, all that to say, we’re just happy we didn’t have to have any contact with paramedics and firefighters that evening. The effects of adolescence on the human brain? Well, we can deal with that. :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Half-Baked and Parboiled Me

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. … She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family …” ~Proverbs 31: 10-11, 15

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; ... Is not life more important than food ...?” ~Matthew 6:25

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." ~John 6:27

I do not blame my oldest child at all, but, ever since she was born, planning menus, preparing grocery lists, and executing decent meal preparations has tended to be a struggle for me. I have joked many times that if it weren’t for my hubby (who, fortunately, happens to be a great cook), we would have starved to death within weeks of her birth. I don’t know if some permanent atrophy occurred in my brain, or whether it’s just a lack of will borne of perpetual “Mommy Fatigue,” but whatever the case, I am finally acknowledging (after nearly nine years … how pathetic) that I really do need to take action on this.

I am tired of staring at the pantry, then the refrigerator, then the pantry, then the freezer, then the pantry, then the refrigerator, then finally all three at once while uttering unintelligible mutterings that might be interpreted as: What am I gonna fix for dinner? There’s nothing to fix for dinner. Ugh. Why can’t I get on the ball with this dinner stuff? Man, we’re even out of leftovers. Let’s see, there’s one chicken breast, a can of cream of celery soup, dill pickles, coffee creamer, and six cans of tomato sauce. Oh, brother. I’ve really gotta get a handle on this. Anyone up for macaroni and cheese … again?

Don’t you think for a minute that I wouldn’t have any takers on the Mac ‘n Cheese proposition, but understand that they would all be under the age of ten. So why am I spending time writing about this rather than taking action? I have identified two primary reasons:

1. I am hereby petitioning for suggestions. I have several good (read, “easy enough for a mom of elementary kids to reasonably be expected to prepare”) recipes, but, to be honest, we’re all kind of tired of most of them. Do you have any menu or recipe recommendations? If so, are you willing to share? I would love to try them!

2. I know that if I put this in writing that I am much more likely to actually do something. It’s a matter of obligation, actually. My husband reads this blog. In fact, he called me at work several weeks ago just to let me in on a little secret.

“I read your blog.”

“Yeah …?”

“You called me ‘dear’ and a ‘saint.’” (I could hear the delight in his voice.)

(rolling my eyes) “Uh huh.”

“I’m gonna remember that.” (His words were undoubtedly vocalized through smiling lips, while my response to his banter was slightly less chipper.)

So, that’s how I can be so sure I will (have to) follow up on this admission. I really must do something about the fact that I suffer from complete brain freeze when it comes to planning and preparing food, and it’s not ‘cause I stand too long mumbling to myself in front of the icebox. It’s ‘cause now that it’s in print, my husband's “gonna remember that.”


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Weather … or Not

"The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked." ~Psalm 77:17-18

He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' So that all men he has made may know his work, he stops every man from his labor." ~Job 37:6-7

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." ~Psalm 19:1

A storm rolls in, June 2007.

My hubby thought I was crazy for taking pictures of the sky ... until he saw them. Pretty amazing, huh? :-)

I am a bit of a weather junkie. About the only times I sit in front of the TV (except for extremely rare occasions to watch fine programming such as “Deal or No Deal” or “Wishbone”) you’ll find it tuned to a news channel with some goofy guy standing in front of a green screen with a detonator, er, remote control. Aside from that, I am frequently refreshing the radar map at My husband teases me mercilessly, frequently asking, “So, are we having weather today? Heh heh.” Yeah, yeah. Bug off.

A good ol' Southern girl, I find it completely appropriate that someone trained in meteorology could get worked up over, say, “conditions favorable for tornadic activity.” My husband, on the other hand, being from the Pacific Northwest and having no experience with twisters (yep, just earthquakes and volcanoes for him … oh, and lots and lots of drizzle) thinks we’re all a little OCD during tornado season. The skies darken and all the major networks grace the airwaves with watches, warnings, and over-the-air adrenaline. It’s like a big game they play – imagine taking advantage of dangerous weather conditions to get ratings. But it works, so that says something about us Southerners.

But, not this week. No, no tornadoes this week. Just spring warmth. And then snow. And then spring warmth. And then snow. And then spring warmth …

Our biggest snow since moving here, Valentine's Day 2004

Last weekend we were outside in all the glory of spring - bulbs sprouting, birds chirping. By Monday, however, we bundled up and were blessed to be the recipients of scattered snow flurries. Wednesday we were again in shorts and T-shirts. And Thursday? Well, winter hit yet again. (Welcome to Texas.)

At noon I supervised the (very excited) elementary students as they “walked” across the parking lot to the main building after lunch (Be careful – it’s slick! No, we’re not going to stay here the rest of the day; yes, you do have to go back to class; no, we can't have science in the gym …) while being pelted by a wild sleet shower. By the time school let out, it was quickly becoming a winter wonderland outside. I (in an extraordinary display of my very mature administrative skills) intentionally disturbed one of the last two classes (ok, they only had a few minutes left anyway) to point them toward the blizzard. The looks on their faces coupled with dramatic "oohs" and "aahs" made the interruption all worthwhile, and I think the teacher will forgive me.

Upon our return home (despite some growing disappointment as we went from a “more snow” region to the “not as much snow” region) the kids promptly went into the backyard. Perhaps it was because they could still see the grass, I don’t know, but neither one of them wore a coat. Gloves. That is all they wanted – gloves. “Because we don’t want our hands to get cold making snowballs!” Yes, I see. Impeccable logic. I stepped outside to take a picture (wearing no coat – what can I say?) but I could only stay out about 30 seconds before the chill sent me shivering inside where I watched my little thermal-resistant progeny play and play and play … and play … while all the while I'm thinking, "I really should make them come in, but it's too cold to go out and get 'em." (I read recently that “being” cold does not actually cause one to "get" a cold. Yeah, I’m banking on that.)

Eventually the kids re-emerged from their Arctic escapade with handfuls of white stuff. “Can we put these in the freezer?” OK, who doesn’t need a snowball or two in their freezer? Sure, why not. I figured they would be there for months until we went camping and forgot to buy ice or something, but they surprised me today when they wanted to take them back out and smash them against the fence. It took a while to get them detached from the ceramic plates we had frozen them on (yeah, that was smart), but eventually we succeeded. I had to capture the moment … 'cause even in Texas it’s not every day that you can take a 20-hour-old snowball outside and throw it under the spring sun in shorts and a t-shirt ... and, of course, gloves, 'cause we're not crazy, you know.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tragedy, Faith, and a Call to Prayer

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him …” ~Luke 18:15-16

“And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” ~Mark 10:16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made … ” ~Psalm 139:13-14a

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea … ” ~Psalm 46:1-2

Five women.

Sherry, Amy, Jennifer, Angie, Virginia.

Of these, I do not know four of them, and yet, it is as if I do. I have not been the same since hearing their stories yesterday. Sherry has a five day old newborn who, as far as I know, is happy and healthy. Her sister, Amy, has a six-week-old that was born with several medical issues. Just three days after his little cousin was born, something happened (I cannot give details right now) and they are separated from their precious baby in an unimaginable situation. Then, two days after that occurrence, Jennifer (who is Sherry’s best friend) lost her three-month-old baby (They think it may have been SIDS.)

The fourth woman, Angie, unrelated to the first three, is about 28 weeks pregnant. Her unborn baby has medical conditions so severe that she is not expected to survive delivery and if she did, would be unable to survive outside the womb. The fifth woman, Virginia, is my sister-in-law. Her baby, our nephew, was unexpectedly born with an irreversible muscle disease that kept him hospitaized for more than four months, and requires him to be on a ventilator and receive other intensive care even now that he is home.

These are five families that will never be the same.

(Yes, there are precious, loving, daddies in all of these situations, and my heart breaks for them as well. I am just writing from the mommy point of view.)

So, what does one do with a collection of heartbreaks such as this? How do you reconcile the supremacy of a Loving God with tragedy that transcends any scenario you ever could have imagined? Each of these women has a relationship with the Lord of Hosts … from whom all blessings flow. So, what is God thinking? What is He doing?

I don’t know, … but He does.

However, these things I do know:

* God formed and loves each one of these little babies and has a purpose for their lives. (Psalm 139)
* God loves every one of their parents and other loved ones and has plans for them as well. (Jeremiah 29:11)
* God does not waste our experiences. (Romans 5:3-4)
* God promises never to leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
* God watched his own Son suffer, and even die, and he can relate to these grieving parents. (Matthew 27)
* God is the source of every blessing in our lives. (James 1:17)
* Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)
* God promises comfort to those who mourn. (Matthew 5:4)
* God promises to bind up the brokenhearted. (Psalm 147:3)
* God’s grace is sufficient in all circumstances. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
* God works all things together for good. (Romans 8:28)
* God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Dear precious Lord, there is no end to your power and mercy. You are still on your throne, and no matter what circumstances we face, You are still worthy of our praise. Please take each of these dear families into your arms and flood them with your peace. Surround them with your love and comfort. Meet them at their points of need and bind up their broken hearts. Give them hope and peace that can only be found in you. Give them not only the ability to plod on in their “new kind of normal,” but grant them the grace to fly. I pray this in the precious, powerful name of Jesus.

P.S. Please pray for these five families. And if you have the time, I recommend checking out Angie's blog. God is writing through her with an exquisite eloquence and grace, and doing it all for the glory of His name. You will be encouraged.

P.P.S. In her book, A New Kind of Normal, Carol Kent explores such conflicts. When things happen that cause our lives to be forever changed in ways we never anticipated and never would have desired (a loved one dies, a divorce takes place, a child is born with a disability, dreams are crushed, etc.) she says we have a choice: we can fall back in defeat and hopelessness, or we can learn to live a victorious life by the power of Christ within the “new normal” that we have been given. If you have been given a “new kind of normal,” or know and love someone else who has, I recommend this read.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” ~Psalm 84:2-4

Home: the place in which one's domestic affections are centered; a dwelling place, refuge, or retreat.

We are praising God that our nephew got to go home on Tuesday. He is 4 ½ months old now, and is out of the hospital for the first time. His homecoming was preceded by the delivery of several machines, extensive training for his parents regarding his care, and the securing of home nursing assistance. We are grateful that he is doing so well, getting stronger, and finally home. Praise God for the miracles so far in his little life!!

Speaking of going home, the kids released Rougher (the snake) back into the yard this morning. Assuming the cat doesn’t get to him first, they hope to see him again sometime. With his injured tail, I am sure we would recognize him. Live long and prosper, little Rougher!

(A side note, just as I was getting ready to publish this, the boys came home with five minnows they caught in a nearby creek. Oh, my! Welcome “home,” little fellas!)

**Update on March 9, 2008: The fish were finally returned to the creek several days later. Then we (I use the term "we" loosely) captured roly polys, a spider, and a bee. What fun! ha ha!**

We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)