Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lazy Saturday

After the mad pace of Friday (and staying up until midnight), I had a very lazy Saturday. When I say lazy, I mean the kind of lazy where you are asleep (or at least horizontal) more than you are awake. I slept until the unheard of hour of 9 am, and then promptly went back to sleep at noon. I awoke from my siesta at 3:15 when Nathan and Grace decided that I had been asleep long enough and then laid there with them for a long time as I finished waking up.

When I finally made contact with my husband, I discovered that my sloth-like behavior had somehow activated his deeply buried and seldom seen minimalist side. He had decided that our house was a wreck and was in dire need of purging. We made a trip to Target for containers to hold all of the clutter and junk that we have apparently accumulated over the years. I realized that I would be spending most of my Sunday cleaning out closets and emptying drawers. Now normally this would send me into fits of joy with small bursts of endorphins rushing through my veins, but as I've already noted, it has been a lazy day. The thought of doing anything more productive than breathing was just too much to bear.

So, my prayer is that I will get enough sleep tonight to put me in an organizing kind of mood tomorrow after church. Of course, another day in bed might not be too bad either......

Friday, March 30, 2007

Busy But Content

My Friday was a race from start to finish. Amber and I stayed up Thursday night past 1 am and then the kids arrived in my bedroom at 6:15 am ready for breakfast. (Did I mention I didn't get to bed until after 1 am??) So after the mad dash to get them dressed, fed and off to school/daycare, I picked up kolaches for Amber and I and headed back home.

By 9:30 we were at 1960 and I-45 for some shopping that we needed to do and trying to tie up all the loose ends for the party. We finally got all of the shopping done and then decided to stop on the way home for the party food. As we were just starting to get produce I decided to call the woman who made the birthday cake for me to verify what time I could pick it up. She said that she was leaving work at 1pm (it was noon) and I still had a good 25 minute drive to get there. We left the basket and rushed home to get the cake (realized I didn't have the checkbook or cash as I was pulling into the parking lot--had to find an ATM), and then with that mission accomplished, went back to the grocery store to finish up the errands. Whew!

Back home, Amber blew up balloons while I unloaded the groceries, made a dip and finished stuffing the pinata. Then I changed clothes so I could cut the grass, and an hour later was back inside for quick shower before I had to run out and pick the kids up. By the time I got back home we were t-minus 2 hours until people started arriving. Amber was finishing up the gift wrapping and we got started arranging the food. Back outside to set up the table on the deck and hang balloons, and then inside to sweep the kitchen one last time.

I had the thought (for about the 18th time) that I was really glad I had taken the day off, because I would not have been able to get it all together without the whole day to prepare and without Amber there to help me! Everything was finally ready and we were finally able to sit back and relax for a minute while we waited for the guests to arrive.

The party turned out great and the pinata was a hit. Even the little ones got a chance at hitting it and Nathan and Kaben made quick work of knocking the stuffing out of it! Aunt Gail's gift of a rocket that launches when you stomp on a pump was the present that children and adults alike played with after the festivities were complete. All else was forgotten as they ran around the newly mowed lawn and launched the rockets over and over again. It was starting to get dark and it was a pleasant evening for sitting outside and visiting. The kids were all wearing the glow stick bracelets and necklaces they had plundered from the pinata as they ran around the backyard screaming and having a great time.

As I watched my family and friends talking and laughing and the kids running around with that singular joy and abandon that only children have, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy. The day had felt like a runaway train in some ways, but this end product made it completely worth the craziness. I was surrounded by love and laughter and there is not much more that you can ask from life than that.....contentment.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Weekend Visitor!

My sister is coming to see me this weekend. She lives back home in Louisiana and is on her way as I sit here and blog. I am so excited at the prospect of seeing her again! She is 7 years younger than me, but in the last few years we have really begun to establish an adult relationship with each other. It's been so long since we've sat down together sans family and just talked. Oh, we chat on the phone and we zip off the occasional email, but we haven't spent any real time together for so long. This is why I am so excited about her visit. I took some vacation time from work for tomorrow, the kids will be at school/daycare and Trevor will be at work, leaving us alone for the whole day.

There will be things to do....I need to get everything ready for Nathan's 6th birthday party, but we will be doing it together. Amber is so much fun to be with and I am looking forward to some great catching up time. And I am glad that she is going to be here for Nathan's party, for more reasons than one. Amber and my enchanting friend Kellye were best friend soul-mates in high school. As often happens, time and circumstance came between them and they have just recently begun to tentatively repair those bonds that once held them so close. Kellye will be at the party Friday night since her son is Nathan's best friend, and it will give them a chance to catch up a little bit.

Speaking of Nathan, he was a ball of energy and excitement this morning. He wore his button proclaiming to the Kindergarten class that he was 6 years old today. He brought fluffy cupcakes to school to share with his classmates. He chose the menu for tonight's dinner (we're having cheese pizza). His friend turned 7 years old in January, and Nathan was excited this morning when he announced that he was "catching up" to Kaben since he was 6 instead of 5 now. No amount of discussion and logic could convince him that Kaben will always be 1 year and 3 months older than he!

I'm looking forward to getting home tonight and celebrating his birthday as a family. Just the act of eating together and being in such a loving environment makes me so thankful for my husband and kids. Then I have the continued pleasure of anticipating of Amber's arrival tonight. It's going to be a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Led By the Spirit

This has been such a great day! We have a bible study at work every Wednesday at noon, and today was no different. We have been studying the book of John and today the topic was sin. What is sin? How do different religions define sin? The text was the story of the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus for judgement. He simply knelt down and began writing in the dirt and told her accusers that the one of them without sin should throw the first stone. The obvious message is that we should not judge each other since we are in sin ourselves. The other lesson is that we should always remember that there are always consequences to our sin. We receive forgiveness when we come to God with a truly repentant heart, but we are still morally responsible for the choices we make. Forgiveness does not equal erasure of our sin.

We had a discussion about the differences between the Catholic faith and other denominations and how we deal with sin and forgiveness. It was a very interesting class, but the thing that was so wonderful to me was the conversations sparked later in the day by the subject of sin. I spent the rest of the afternoon talking to my coworkers about the definition of sin, how it relates to our walk in Christ and what the scripture says about a wide range of questions that were brought up. We covered divorce, justification by faith alone, election, predestination, confession in the context of Catholicism, the role of women in the church and a wide range of other topics. It was so great to just talk and share scripture with other people who had questions and issues that are so important to me. It was as though my bible was falling open to all of the right passages and God was putting the right words in my mouth.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for hearing our prayers and for enabling us through the Holy Spirit to be used for your glory.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Little Miracles

I finally got to see Mikiah yesterday! I was slated to take dinner out to Jason and Alicia and was lucky enough to show up right as they were about to feed him. Soon my arms were filled with baby instead of my bag of food and I settled in for a good snuggle. There is nothing in this world more wonderful than the perfect weight of a newborn in your arms. He was absolutely beautiful. I read somewhere when I was pregnant that babies come into the world with that "cute" factor as a survival tool. Human infants are the most helpless of all mammals.....they cannot do anything for themselves for months and months. Even as they get older they need more care and nurturing than any other species. So they are "cute" when they get here so that adult humans will be drawn to taking care of them. Let's be perfectly honest: who hasn't been at their wits end with an infant during a seemingly endless whining or crying marathon and taken one look at that little face and melted? They are cute so we won't give them away.

Holding Mikiah instantly brought me back to Nathan and Grace's first few weeks. I thought of Grace first because he was close to what she weighed at birth and had the same little tiny features as she did. I gave birth to a toddler when I had Nathan...he was 9 lbs 13 oz. I never felt like he was too small to handle like I sometimes did with Grace. When I finally (grudgingly) gave Mikiah back to Alicia and got back home, I pulled up some old pictures of my kids on the computer. It doesn't seem possible that they have grown so much! Nathan will be 6 in a few days and Gracie is pushing 3. I can still smell the Johnson's baby shampoo in Nathan's hair and feel the gentle grip of Gracie's hand around my finger. It all changes so fast and I feel like I miss it sometimes.

I have the natural guilt that comes with just being a parent. Have I done all I can to encourage and nurture my children? Did the time I yelled at Nathan because I was having a bad day scar him for life? Does Grace remember the time I accidentally dislocated her elbow (what a horrific guilt trip that was!)? Do my children know how much I love them and that I would throw myself between them and danger in a heartbeat? If nothing else, having children of my own has given me an appreciation for how much my parents love me. The whole dynamic between my mom and I changed after I had Nathan. We have always been close, but the common thread of motherhood bound us together in a way that nothing else could.

So, to Alicia and Jason I give this little bit of advice: be still and cherish this time with Mikiah because it will be gone before you can blink. Drink in the smell of his skin and record in your memory the heft of his body in your arms. Oh, and keep a large vat of Mylicon drops on hand at all times! They are magical!!

Monday, March 26, 2007

What I Want

It's Monday again and I reluctantly slip back into the morning routine:
  • get up (well, hit snooze 3-4 times and then get up)
  • wake Nathan and get him started with breakfast
  • take a shower before Grace gets up and is unsupervised
  • dress ( wearing scrubs every day makes this a very quick process)
  • wake Grace and get her fed
  • make sure Nathan brushes his teeth and has his backpack at the ready before his Gran comes to pick him up for school
  • clean breakfast from Grace's face and hands
  • dress Grace (it's the brushing of the teeth that I really dread)
  • pack Grace's lunch
  • rush out the door to drop her off at church
  • head to work

I long for the day that I don't have to be at a job outside the house. I want to let the kids sleep past 6 am on weekdays and have the time to cook hot breakfast for them. I want to take Nathan to school myself and not have daycare workers spend more time with Grace then I do. I want to keep my house spotless and have time to work in the yard. I want to have hot cookies and cold milk waiting for Nathan when he gets home from school and sit and hear about his day. I want to have a fully prepared meal on the table every night when Trevor gets home. I guess what I really want is to be a 1950's housewife, but I don't care if people think that's silly. I want to care for my family in a way that only I can, and it's is a gift that I can give them every day.

But what I want doesn't line up with regard to what we need in terms of my income. So, I have to keep up the morning grind until that day comes that I can do things the way I want. There are plans in place to make that happen sometime in the future, but for now I will have to make the best of the situation for what it is. My life is happening right now and spending all of my time longing for something else is a complete waste of the one I'm living.

So, I'll keep finding the little joys where I least expect them and thank God for the life that he has given me. After all, we only get one go around and I don't want to waste it!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Worship and Fellowship

Today is Sunday and it has been good. I woke up this morning to my youngest crawling into bed with Trevor and I. Resplendent in her candy cane pajamas and wet diaper, she snuggled down between us and started our morning with the most beautiful words in her vocabulary...."I love you." Shortly thereafter, I found myself all alone on the deck with a steaming cup of fresh coffee. In my mind's eye the day spread out in front of me like the vast expanse of sky over West Texas. It seemed open and endless at that time of the morning when the only sound I could hear was the cheerful chirping of birds in the woods behind the house.

We made it to church on time and I enjoyed reconnecting with my friends in Sunday School as we brought our concerns and requests to each other for prayer. The lesson was short since we spent so much time taking prayer requests, but fulfilling nonetheless. We were studying Abram and Sarai's decision to have a child through her maidservant Hagar, instead of waiting on the Lord to provide a child. As Ali taught the lesson, it was brought to the forefront of my mind that we have amazing power over our husbands. Even a man who is a strong spiritual leader and chooses a godly path more often than not can be easily led astray by a suggestion put out there by his wife. It might be a small thing, or it might not. It might be unintentional, or it might not. I realized that to put all the responsibility of spiritual leadership on my husband's shoulders was not really fair. If I am aware that he is sinning or if I encourage that sinful behavior then I am culpable as well. I am commanded biblically to be a helpmate to my spouse and that includes helping him be a strong leader in every way that I can. If I am enabling his sin or even causing it, I am not in line with what God has in store for me or my marriage.

So, I need to guard my tongue a little more often and be sure that my words and actions don't cause my husband to stumble. He has enough weight on his shoulders without adding to the load.

Then there was the morning worship service. The sermon was about the commandment to not commit adultery, but it turned into a sermon on the freedom and joy of sex within a marriage. We read passages from Song of Solomon and from the New Testament. I thought that it tied in neatly with the SS lesson because if we take our marriages to be the covenant relationship that God intended and we truly love and honor our spouse in all areas, then we enjoy true intimacy and closeness that marriage can bring. My favorite verse from Song of Solomon is 6:3 "I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine." Completely. Giving myself heart and soul to Trevor does not imprison me, it frees me to love fully. Part of that love is always being available to him to satisfy his needs. Now there was a lot of snickering and joking between friends after the service was over, but the basic truth should really hit home for all of us. If I satisfy his needs on all levels...physical and frees him to be the spiritual leader and provider for our family. Likewise, if he attends to all of my needs it makes it easier for me to be submissive to him and to help and support him.

There are some of you out there reading this blog thinking that I am caught in a time warp and obviously have not heard of woman's lib. My faith gives me guidelines and boundaries for what makes a healthy and happy marriage. Being submissive to Trevor does not make me a slave to him. Being submissive to my husband is a no brainer because I can trust that even if I don't agree with a decision he has made for us, I know that he only has our best interest at heart. This does not mean that I am not allowed to question him or voice concerns about an issue (just ask him about that one!). And often a different point of view will change his outlook on a situation, and that is where the lessons tie together for me. I only have to suggest something to him, gently point him in another direction and that will be all it takes to change his mind sometimes. I have a huge responsibility to temper my comments with biblical truth and direction in order to not mislead him be it intentional or not.

Then I had an entire afternoon with my enchanting friend Kellye as we shopped and chatting for a few hours We spend a lot of time during the week "talking" through Messenger, and it's always nice to spend some time face to face. So during our time together, I had a little thrill of anticipation because we were meeting up with our small group for the first time in several weeks for a new study. I had really been missing this fellowship and was looking forward to time together with my friends.

Chris brought our books to start reading (Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper). Although I let everyone know that my own personal hell is being read aloud to, read aloud we did......the whole first chapter! I'm a teacher's pet so I had actually read the first 2 chapters before we met, but it was good to read it again, even if it was out loud. I am really motivated and excited about this new book and I can't wait to discuss it the next time we meet.

So now I am sitting in my comfy chair with the computer in my lap as I finish up my day with a Coke Zero and the prospect of a little reading before bed. Thank you Lord, for ministers and teachers who remind me of my purpose as a Christian wife and mother. I need to do a little more encouraging and a little less nagging and tearing down. Thank you for giving me the tools for a beautiful and fulfilling I just have to use them.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Not Enough Hours.....

There are not enough hours in the weekend. That is really saying something since I get off work around noon every Friday, giving me 5 additional hours that most don't enjoy. It's still not enough after the doctor's appointments, weekly shopping and the myriad of other errands that must be run before I head home to the family. Although I manage to get much of the running around done Friday afternoon, there always seems to be something that needs to be done on Saturday.

Today it was more work on the deck. That was not a complaint in case it sounded like one. I am thrilled that we have this new space to work on and make it livable, but doing the things that make it nice take time and effort. Trevor and I sat down and made a list of things we wanted to do today and then went to Lowe's to purchase the supplies. The main focus of our effort was to be putting up railing and fans, purchasing some plants and installing the rest of the bamboo blinds. You would think that with a game plan such as ours, it wouldn't take long to get what we needed and head home. In our defense, it probably wouldn't have taken as long sans children, but that wasn't really any option this morning barring a home alone situation and I don't think CPS would look kindly on that sort of thing.

So, 3 hours later we arrived home with a truck and trailer load full of trees, wood and various and sundry items for deck improvement projects. Nathan and Grace went down for a nap and we got to work. I installed a privacy liner for the blinds so the neighbors can't see into our space. Trevor installed the new railing for the deck and mounted the fans for circulation. I transplanted the two trees into sturdy pots and Trevor fixed a hole in the deck. The kids woke up wanting snacks and attention, so while I attended to them Trevor continued to work.

As I was sweeping the sawdust away, I suddenly remembered that I needed to make a dessert for a friend who is on bed rest due to her pregnancy. Our small group was providing dinner tonight and I completely forgot! I rushed inside to see what I had on hand, and realized everything I had required baking for at least an hour, and I didn't have that kind of time. I ran out to Thrif-Tee and picked up the ingredients for banana pudding and then rushed home to throw it together. As I was shopping, I called Kellye and she agreed to come by and pick up the dessert since she was dropping off her salad anyway. Whew! One more thing I didn't have to do! Thank you God for friends!!

Anyway, the pudding was delivered and the deck project was completed, so it was a successful day. It just feels like it took so long to do so little.....but it always feels that way right before Trevor leaves for China. He tries to cram in all those little projects and fix all the small problems before he leaves so I won't be stuck. It's never spoken, but the underlying thought is that he wants to get it done in case he doesn't come home. There is always that possibility, albeit slim, but he always leaves us prepared with all the loose ends tied up.

So that is the real reason there don't seem to be enough hours in the weekend. It's Trevor's last one for a few weeks and every moment is more precious than usual. I wonder what our life would feel like if we treated every weekend, every day as our last with the people we love?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Eyes in the Back of My Head

Thanks to the determination of my spousal unit, the gas line is repaired, inspected and back online. As I stood under the steamy hot water to wash away the last remnants of sleep this morning, I was thankful once again for Trevor. Had he been in China when this happened, I might be standing over a basin of water heated in the microwave trying to wash my hair. Now I'm not a complete would have been fixed eventually, but it wouldn't have been as quick. So thank you, Trevor! Thank you for my shiny clean hair and freshly shaved legs!

I was awakened at the ungodly hour of 4am by my eldest. He was nearly in tears as he told me about the aliens at his Gran's house and of the red wasp that was in his mouth. I gently took him back to his bedroom and laid with him in the wedge of light produced by the closet. It didn't take him long to fall asleep and as I was walking back to my own room, I wondered for the billionth time how the human brain works while we are sleeping. I've certainly had my share of strange dreams....who hasn't? But it never ceases to amaze (and sometimes horrify) me how real dreams can seem. I've literally awakened in tears from grief or pain. And how many times have I opened my eyes after dreaming and been mad at Trevor for something he didn't even do?!

As Nathan was sitting at the bar eating his oatmeal this morning, he seemed completely unaffected by his nocturnal visions. When I asked him about the dreams, he said something offhanded about wasps in his mouth, but without the terror of his earlier confession. He had already moved on to something else, primarily bothering his baby sister who was sitting next to him. Which brings me to another subject: siblings.

Over the course of the last few months, Trevor and I have become full-time mediators. We knew it would happen eventually, but we had hoped that our utopia would last a little longer than it did! Nathan and Gracie appear to be engaged in an ongoing battle for territory. "That's my chair! That's my coloring book! Get out of my room!" It is not limited to inanimate objects either. "Gracie touched my arm! Nathan pinched me! Gracie sat on my chest! Nathan won't share!" It goes on and on and on. Recently I have noticed an annoying itching on the back of my head. Could it be that my eyes are coming in? Maybe the sound of children arguing activates the hormone that encourages ocular growth through the scalp. I'm going to need every edge against these kids. The 2 year old already knows how to play the bloodcurdling scream card to her advantage, the 5 year old has the innocent "who me?" look down pat.

Now, I realize that I am not experiencing anything new to parenthood. I can recall territory battles from my own childhood. But I am just now appreciating how close Patrick and I came to sending my parents to the insane asylum. If we had known how close we were to being homeless orphans, we might have taken a step back and reconsidered our behavior. Or not. I think it is a function of being a child that allows to you to be completely oblivious to everything around you....and some people maintain that "childlike" state throughout their adulthood!

So, I pray every morning for a double portion of patience and wisdom, so that I will be a calm mediator for the kids and be able to correctly discern the culprit from the victim. I'm just waiting on the eyes.......

Thursday, March 22, 2007

We're Out of Gas!

Well, not literally out but we are disconnected from the supply. Last night Trevor and I were outside enjoying our new covered deck and discussing furniture and decorating possibilities. As we were walking towards the back door I smelled natural gas. I had noticed a faint smell earlier that evening just inside the back door, but it went away. Trevor did a little investigating and realized that the pipe that conveys the gas to our house was rusted through and leaking. My first thought was to thank God for keeping Trevor safe last weekend during all of the construction on the deck. They were cutting metal right near that pipe.......could have been blown up......I can't think about it for too long.

Anyway, Trevor turned the gas off at the meter while I called Centerpoint to come take a look at it. Trevor had to dig down a bit to get to the pipe and while he was digging he found an old spoon that belonged to my mom! It must have been buried there for 25 years! We always joke that half of her stainless is buried somewhere in the yard between my brother and me using spoons for shovels, and this was proof positive! It was still bright and shiny after I cleaned it up.

While I was waiting for Centerpoint to show up, Trevor ran to Lowe's to get the pipe and supplies he would need to fix the problem. When the repairman arrived, he informed me that he was TAKING the meter. They would not bring it back until we had a licensed plumber come and fix the pipe, do a gas and pressure test and then have the city come and do an inspection. I can understand the need for safety, but this means that we will be without hot water and a stove until the pipe gets fixed. We all took showers/baths last night since the water in the heater was still hot in preparation for this morning.

So, Trevor is on the phone this morning trying to find a plumber to come today. The bright side of all of this is that I can order take-out with absolutely no guilt tonight! The not so bright side is that we may have to boil water in the microwave for shallow baths tonight. There is also the issue of my husband chomping at the bit to fix the problem himself. He is perfectly capable of installing the new pipe correctly, but to be told that he is not allowed to just irks him. For someone who routinely fixes EVERYTHING in our house, that is just not acceptable. I don't think we've ever paid someone to come do anything around the house up to this point in our marriage. It will be a new and strange experience, but worth it to me. I really don't want to get blown up.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Life of Generosity

It's been a little over 7 months since my Gramps died. Thomas Battice Effler. Mr. B. Daddy. Tom. Honey. Uncle B. He had many names, but he was Gramps to me. I still miss him terribly and I suppose that's never going to go away. I dream of him now and then....dreams where I can talk to him again and ask him about where I should plant a particular tree or shrub. Sometimes he's the young and vibrant man I remember from my childhood. Forearms like Popeye from years of hanging sheet rock and painting houses. Strong arms for hugging and picking me up. Making a "prison" by crossing his legs while sitting in his recliner and keeping me in it as I squealed to be let out, but not really meaning it. Sometimes he is the older man of more recent years....sick more than he was well. In those dreams he wants me to lay next to him and just be. In those dreams I know that he is dying, but I have time to say goodbye.

No matter what dreams I have about Gramps, one thing doesn't change. That unchangeable thing is my memory. I have a lifetime of memories that involve him. As was evident as I heard his eulogy at the funeral, the defining characteristic of his life was his unfailing faith in Jesus Christ and because of that faith a generosity of spirit that was unmatched. I could write a thousand stories that reveal the depths of his giving heart, but I'll stick with just a few that have special meaning to me.

I recently bought gerbils for my children. As I was standing in the pet store debating what kind of shavings to put in the bottom of the cage, I suddenly teared up. I hadn't thought of this in almost 20 years, but when I was in high school I had two white mice. I had gone home to Louisiana for a visit and when I told Gramps that I had mice, he didn't have too much to say. But later that day, he said, "Youngin', get into the truck. We're going to Teddy's" When Gramps said to get going, you got going or got left behind, so I hopped in the truck and went along with him. When we got there, he pulled out a long piece of cedar that he had gotten out of his woodworking shop. Uncle Teddy had a planer, and Gramps planed that piece of wood down to a pile of cedar shavings fit for a mouse cage. It filled a huge bag and lasted me for months. It was such a small thing, but it meant enough that I remember it still.

He and Granny never missed any big event in my life. I come from a Masonic family, and I was very active in Rainbow Girls. I was a Grand Officer (state officer) and held a position of leadership in the local assembly. They were there for all of my important ceremonies. Granny made all of the food for the reception that followed and Gramps made my wooden gavel out of black walnut wood. It sits on my shelf and I think of him every time I pick it up.

When I was 19, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. I underwent a exploratory laparotomy and splenectomy 4 days after my 20th birthday. The surgery was at a ridiculously early hour of the morning and it was still dark outside when they came to get me. As I looked beyond my parents and the nurses, I saw my Granny and Gramps walk through my hospital room door. They had driven in the night before and made it to the hospital in time to see me and pray with me before I went in. You just cannot know how that made me feel. Knowing that Granny and Gramps were there somehow made it better.

A few weeks before Gramps died, Mama had called me on a Friday night to tell me that he was in the hospital again. It wasn't really any different than all the other times that he had been admitted in recent months, but it was the first time that I had a vision of him in a nursing home. I saw him as old and frail, and it shocked me. You would think that it wouldn't considering the fact that he had been old and frail for some time, but I guess some part of my brain still saw him as that young, vibrant man of my childhood. I had a sudden feeling that I needed to see him. I felt like I was being pulled home and I had to go. I talked to Trevor about it, and made arrangements to leave the next morning.

When I arrived in Hammond, I went straight to the hospital but was told that he had been discharged so I went to Granny and Gramps' house. Maybe he wasn't so sick after all....maybe my gut feeling was nothing. I surprised Granny (I hadn't told anyone that I was coming) and after discovering that he was in fact still in the hospital, I went back over there. I finally found his room, and as I entered, I greeted him with, "Hey faker!" The smile that he gave me was enough to just melt my heart. "Youngin'!" he said in disbelief, "what are you doing here?" We sat and visited for several hours. Just everyday stuff. Sick or not, Gramps was still sharp as a tack. He was never afraid of expressing his opinion and he didn't start that Saturday as we spoke. We reminisced about memories of each other and he told me stories of boot camp and World War II in Germany. He told me about how he met Granny and how much he loved her then and loved her still after 59 years of marriage.

I left him later that day fully intending to spend most of the next morning with him before I had to head back home, but a call early Sunday morning from Trevor sent me flying home to him. We didn't know it at the time, but he had a kidney stone and didn't know the cause of his pain. There was no way for me to know when I leaned down and kissed Gramps goodbye that it would be the last time I would see him alive. I told him that I loved him and he said the same and then I was gone.

The call came in the middle of the night just a week or so later. Gramps went quickly due to a pulmonary embolism....we could not have asked for a better way for him to go. No pain, and he was lucid right up to the end. His was a life well lived for the glory of God and he left behind a legacy of love and generosity that knows no equal. I like to think when I perform a random act of kindness that I am somehow channeling Gramps a little bit. He would be horrified if he heard me say that, but I don't care.

So, I'll keep dreaming of him and telling my children stories of his exceptional love and generosity. We will tell and retell the stories of how Gramps threw us in the swimming pool to teach us how to swim, when we get together at Christmas, along with all the other familiar stories that we know by heart. I will keep seeing him in unexpected places and in my dreams, and I thank God for letting me be fortunate enough to be his granddaughter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Close My Mouth and Open My Mind

I do not like change. Never have and probably never will. I can hang on to a ragged pair of shoes long past the time that they should have been retired simply because I don't want to deal with new ones. The possible blisters and breaking in and the way they make my feet look different.

I get upset when my computer browser changes appearance or when I have to navigate a new cell phone design. I rant and I rave to Trevor about how stupid this new browser is....what was wrong with the old one? How do I get to the contacts on my new cell phone? Trevor just sits as quietly and motionless as possible hoping that I won't take notice of him and turn all that frustration in his direction. I tend to use the word stupid a great deal and usually end up in a really bad mood with the computer off or the cell phone closed with the announcement that I hate it and will not EVER use it. Trevor continues to sit quietly in his chair, trying to act like he's not there.

Over the course of the next few days I gradually learn the new system and before long I am recommending my cell phone to anyone who will listen, and troubleshooting browser problems for my friends. This is how I operate. I don't like meeting new people (I'm not used to them and they might be weird). I get upset at anything that changes my routine or system (I'm highly organized and change upsets the efficient flow of my life). I'm not real thrilled about the first day of school, first day of work...basically the first day of anything (too many unknown variables).

I see this trait in my son and it disturbs me a little bit. He needs time to adapt to new things and situations and I see his frustration. It looks just like mine and I don't like it. I'm unreasonable and more than a little mean-spirited when I'm frustrated and I hate seeing that in my 6 year old. The needing time to adapt doesn't bother me.....I don't think we can change our gut instinct. But we can change our reaction and that's what I am trying to do. Change my reaction from, "that is so stupid...what's wrong with the way it is?" to "this looks like it might have possibilities...let me try it out!"

So, my prayer this morning is that I will choose to react in a more positive way to change for myself, and also for the sake of my son and the sanity of my ever patient husband. Lord, please close my mouth and open my mind. Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Please Learn to Drive

Do you ever feel like you are the only person on the road who remembers anything from driver's ed? I realize that my commute is not as long as many other people, including my husband, but the 40 minutes I spend on the road every morning and afternoon make me realize how many incompetent drivers there are out there.

There are several different classifications of drivers in my mind.
  1. The Older Driver. Let's be honest. The older we get the slower our reflexes are and the worse our vision becomes. I can live with that and I am actually quite accommodating when I see older drivers because I know that it will happen to me one day. I will pull out into traffic where the mean velocity is 60 and I am only going 10 MPH. I will be honked at and swerved around and possibly even hit. So I try to be a little more patient than usual when I see the elderly behind the wheel. Having said that, I also hope that when the day comes that I'm dangerous because of my age that someone will gently but firmly take the keys away and offer me alternate transportation.
  2. The Hot Rodders. Yes, you know of whom I speak. These are typically teenagers who feel that the faster they go, the cooler they are. There are some people in this category who are well past their teen years, but still feel the need to act like they are 17 and bulletproof. They whip in and out of traffic with the windows or top down, laughing with their car full of friends and completely ignoring all traffic signs and other drivers. These drivers are often accompanied by loud, obnoxious music and lots of yelling and/or cursing.
  3. The Careful Drivers. As in, "I'm going to be so careful that I'm going to cause a wreck" drivers. You know the type. They get almost under a traffic light and if it turns yellow, they slam on the brakes. Can't be running those yellow lights like the Hot Rodders. They never look away from the road directly in front of them (which means they ignore 90% of what is happening around them), and they never, ever go over the speed limit. As a matter of fact, going 5 miles UNDER the speed limit is probably a better rule. They put their blinker on to make a lane change well before they need to move over, but are then so focused on the road IN FRONT of them, that they are oblivious to car after car slowing down to let them over and then giving up and zooming by them in a fit of irritation. The Careful Driver then has the thought that "those cars need to just slow down for goodness sake. They are going to get someone killed" not realizing that their pathological indecision is more likely to cause a wreck.
  4. The Competent Driver. This would of course, be me. And you would probably put yourself in this category as well. We all like to think that we are the best driver out there. We are aware of our surroundings, make lane change decisions 3 steps ahead of the traffic, we adjust our speed according to the flow of traffic, and would never, ever pull out on a busy highway without punching the gas to make sure we don't make anyone behind us have to slow down.

So, having laid down 4 of the basic driving styles I would like to publish a few suggestions that would make everyone have a better driving experience.

  • If you are going to put your blinker on to change lanes, it would be nice if you actually intend to change lanes sometime that day. Don't leave the people who are trying to let you move over hanging.
  • Conversely, if you need to change lanes please disconnect your blinker from your steering wheel. Turning the blinker on as you are moving over doesn't really work for the rest of us.
  • It's perfectly alright to PICK A LANE to drive in. Please don't ride the line when you drive because you can't seem to decide where you want to go.
  • If you are not going the speed limit, feel free to pull over on the shoulder to let the 28 cars behind you get by. We understand that it is your right to mosey along if you want to, but we would like to get to our destination on time.
  • If you are turning right off of a road that has an improved shoulder, please use the shoulder as a turning lane. All the traffic going 65 mph behind you should not have to come to a screeching halt because you need to turn off the highway.
  • If there is even a hint of fog or rain, turn on your stinking headlights!

OK...that's all the time I have for today. I may have to make an addendum to this list at some point in the near future. Feel free to post your own rules of etiquette for the open road!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Things I Love

In no particular order:

  1. Swinging in a hammock on a perfect spring day enjoying a cool breeze carrying the smell of BBQ.

  2. The smell of my daughter's clean hair and skin right before bed.

  3. The sound of my son's laughter when he gets really tickled about something.

  4. The sparkly clean feeling I get after going to the Lord in prayer for forgiveness and worship.

  5. The thrill I get when I know that I am about to see my husband in the evening.

  6. Friday nights with the anticipation of the whole weekend ahead of me.

  7. Watching Survivor on Thursday nights.

  8. Pad Thai from Pei Wei.

  9. The sweet breath of newborn babies.

  10. The satisfaction of cooking a really good meal that everyone enjoys.

  11. Completing a scrapbook page.

  12. Clean sheets.

  13. Staying in nice hotels and ordering frivolous room service.

  14. Getting away for the weekend with Trevor.

  15. The sound of my children saying "I love you, Mommy".

  16. Dove truffle eggs.

  17. Getting home after work and finding dinner on the table.

  18. Singing hymns around the piano with my family.

  19. Hearing my children spontaneously sing hymns and praise songs.

  20. Having theological discussions with my brother.

  21. My morning phone chats with Ronna.

  22. Getting random pictures of baby Jack on my cell phone.

  23. Checking my email inbox and seeing that I have messages from actual contacts and not just spam.

  24. Sitting on the porch at Granny and Gramps' with a big mug of coffee full of cream and sugar on a cool morning.

  25. A roaring fire in the fireplace on cold nights.

  26. Having a houseful of friends over to play games and hang out.

  27. Going to a friend's house to play games and hang out.

  28. A cold Shiner Bock with a big bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo.

  29. My father-in-law's smoked ribs.

  30. Granny Traylor's banana pudding.

  31. Having my mom take care of me when I don't feel well.

  32. Spending time with my sister when I go home to Louisiana.

  33. Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate.

  34. Curling up in bed at the end of the day with a really good book and reading myself to sleep.

  35. The look on the face of the person I gave the perfect gift to, after the opening frenzy is over.

  36. The sight of my children sleeping in strange, contorted positions.

  37. The smell of a new car.

  38. Spending unlimited amounts of time in a bookstore just browsing without interruption.

  39. Roller coasters.

  40. The sharp smell of burning leaves on a crisp fall day with a clear blue sky.

  41. The fact that my husband thinks I'm the most beautiful, wonderful woman in the world.

  42. My new covered deck.

  43. Telling people that both my parents have their doctorate degrees.

  44. A clean house that smells fresh.

  45. Watching Gone With the Wind when I am home sick.

  46. The path of sweet smelling grass that trails behind me when I am mowing the lawn.

  47. The feeling I get as I am treating the last patient of the day knowing that I will be heading home in just a few minutes.

  48. Recalling years and years of memories with my siblings and cousins when we all get together.

  49. The clearance aisle at Michael's and Hobby Lobby.

  50. Rolling over in the middle of the night and feeling Trevor next to me.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Open Highway

To the great relief of my spousal unit and offspring, I am finally feeling like a human being again. For the first time since Wednesday I woke up without hacking up my lungs and feeling like I had been hit by a freight train in the night. It felt good to take a long shower and then feel ready to actually DO something when I was finished instead of crawling back into bed.

Today is the day the cover on the deck will be finished! Trevor and Will got most of the frame up yesterday and today his dad and Will are coming over to complete the job. I have so much to do inside since the housework has gone by the wayside during my convalescence. It's bordering on scary and gross to use our bathroom these days! So I have my work cut out for me and so do the guys.

I am looking forward to lunch tomorrow because our friends Ali and Chris called last night to see if we wanted to get together this weekend to catch up. With all that we have going on here and with their bathroom remodeling project, we decided that lunch after church would be the best option. I have written extensively about how blessed we have been to connect with Kellye and Kenneth, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention Ali and Chris. Chris is the Education Pastor at our church and probably one of the most brilliant people I have ever met. Absentminded, yes. But that does not detract from his intellect. Ali teaches the Sunday School class that I joined when I started going back to church regularly. I can say with all sincerity and honesty that it was the prayer support from Ali and the theological teaching from Chris that kept me in church and eventually softened Trevor's heart to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

They are great friends, and while it is difficult at times to schedule time together to just hang out we love them and value their friendship. Short of putting all four kids in straight jackets and muzzles (and don't think that hasn't crossed my mind a time or two!), it is impossible to have an adult conversation without a babysitter. One of these days we are going to be able to coordinate our sitters and actually have them at the same time so we can get together!

So, the weekend stretches out in front of me like an open highway just waiting to be driven on in a convertible with the top down and the radio blaring. I'll let you know how the trip goes!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Smugness is Not a Fruit of the Spirit

Just in case you were wondering. It's really too bad, because I would be producing a lot of fruit for the Lord. As I reflect on the last few days, I am struck by how much Trevor has done for me and for the kids while I have been sick. He's cleaned and prepared meals. He's retrieved items for me when I didn't feel like getting off the couch, gotten the kids ready for school/daycare, and continuously made sure that I was as comfortable as possible.

So what do I do this morning as I'm laying in bed half asleep? I can hear him struggling with Grace in her bedroom (I'm sure it had something to do with shoes) and fussing at Nathan for not getting dressed fast enough (he likes to play with the water while he's brushing his teeth). I lay there and think, "Now he knows how I feel every morning of the week. He's not doing anything that I don't do on a daily basis. Maybe now he'll appreciate what I do for him and this family."

That was smugness, in case you didn't catch it. After all that he had done for me in the last 48 hours, all I could do was think about how much I do and how he doesn't appreciate me enough. Well let me tell you something: that door swings both ways. Sure, I deal with the kids in the morning (they get their grumpiness in the early morning hours from me, so you can imagine how that goes for us). I do most of the school projects with Nathan, fill out the paperwork for Grace, pack the lunches...the list goes on and on. But here's a list of the things I don't do and don't think for one minute that it is complete. I do not enter the attic for any reason. If Trevor were to collapse of heat exhaustion up there, he would have to wait for the EMT crew to get here and pull him out. I'm not crawling around on my belly in insulation just inviting brown recluse spiders to bite me. I also don't kill stinging insects, fix mechanical stuff around the house, build decks (or cover for said deck), remodel bathrooms or cut down trees. All of those things belong to Trevor and we both know it. Now I do help where I can, but we both know that I tend to get in the way sometimes. He's sweet to let me think that I'm helping.

So, as I am smugly listening to him try and do the things that I do pretty effortlessly around the house and with the kids, I am also working myself up into a frenzy of pity. "Why doesn't he ever tell me how much he appreciates all of the things I do for him?! Can't he see how much I do now that he has to do it all?" Then the thought struck me, "When was the last time you told him, really told him, how much you appreciate him?" That was when I realized that we are both guilty of not voicing that particular emotion. I get so caught up in all the things that I do, that I completely miss that he is taking care of the rest. I need to remember that he wants to feel appreciated for his contributions too and that I should stop making our life a even split situation. I may do more than 50% of the work in one area, but so does he in another.

Thank you Lord for giving me Trevor. He a loving husband and father and I would be lost without him. Help me to remember this and maybe I'll start producing some real spiritual fruit in my life!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Spleenless Wonder

Yep! That's me. No spleen = lowered immunity. This is why I tend to pick up every single virus and infection with which I come in contact. I firmly believe the reason I am not sick all the time is because of my obsessive use of Germ-x and anti-bacterial soap. When one of the kids or Trevor gets sick I Lysol the entire house many times a day to try and avoid getting sick myself. Not only do I get sick, but I stay sick for longer then the average person. A standard sinus infection or cold is 99.9% guaranteed to turn into a lingering case of bronchitis. Luckily I'm vaccinated against pneumonia, but unfortunately allergic to the flu shot.

So my life during cold and flu season is one of constant vigilance and disinfection. As previously recorded in yesterday's blog, I've been sick. I thought I had a cold/sinus infection, but as the day progressed it was determined by the physician and people I work with that I might in fact have the flu. I was summarily sent home with instructions to fill my Rx for Tamiflu and go straight to bed, do not pass go, do not collect $200. The sleep did me good, but the muscle aches and general malaise was not going away. I spent the night waking up over and over again to a sore throat which I self diagnosed as strep when I got out of bed at 5am.

Google. O wonderful, ingenious tool! We don't need doctors anymore! We have the internet!! My symptoms match everything I've read for strep, so that must be it. The problem is that the more I Googled, the more diseases I found that matched my symptoms. Maybe I have a peritonsillar abscess or maybe diptheria or that often misdiagnosed condition pemphigus!!!! Maybe I should go to the doctor today.....

This is part two of today's's been about 11 hours since the original post and I did go to the doctor. All it earned me was a brief lecture on the dangers of not coming to see him sooner, a nice thick shot of antibiotic in my posterior region and the joy of taking oral antibiotics for the next 10 days. The good news is that I do not have a peritonsillar abscess, diptheria, pemphigus or even strep throat, just a good case of the flu. (For all of you out there about to post or call to inform me that antibiotics don't do anything to cure the flu, keep your shorts's to prophylactically treat any secondary infections brought on by the flu in my spleenless condition).

So, with strict instructions to not return to work until Monday, I will be resting quietly at home tomorrow with much time on my hands to do absolutely nothing. I can't wait. No kids, husband working outside on the deck and the remote control all to myself. It's a dream come true! Now if I just had a house elf.......

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Should I Really Be at Work Today?

So here is the dilemma of health care workers since time began: "Should I come to work when I'm sick?" You would think that would be a no-brainer, but alas it is not. On one hand, we understand very clearly that when we have fever we are probably contagious with whatever is causing the fever. Our patients are already immunosuppressed and something as minor as a cold can throw them into a tailspin. There is also the obvious fact that we would feel better if we just stayed home and pampered ourselves and be more effective at work, sooner. But there is always the other hand, and on that hand we have policies and procedures and time off with and without pay. If you call in, you are penalized (like you actually got sick on purpose just throw the whole system off). But if you come to work with a fever then you get fussed at for not staying home. It's a Catch-22.

The sick leave policy should be more flexible and generous for health care providers. If you work in an office setting where you are more or less isolated to your desk or a certain area, you could feasibly confine your germs to one area with the generous use of Purell, Lysol and anti-bacterial soap. And even if you gave someone the sniffles, it wouldn't cause them to be admitted to the hospital or affect their immune system. Now before someone posts a comment about how everyone should be entitled and able to stay home when they are sick, no matter where they work...I completely agree. But we work in very close contact with our customers and while I might feel alright to go to work with a fever, I probably shouldn't.

So, the point of that whole tirade was that I feel like I've been run over by a train. I started feeling bad yesterday afternoon, it got progressively worse throughout the evening and culminated with a fever and a sinus headache that I couldn't get rid of all night. So here I am....fever under control by way of copious amounts of Ibuprofen, sitting at work. I feel terrible and want to go home, but I don't want to be THAT person. You know the type....they call in or go home at the drop of a hat and leave the work for everyone else. Plus I need to save my time off for when Trevor goes to China in a week or so in case the kids get sick. OK....the whining is over--for now. It's just a pet peeve of mine that the one industry that you would think would be understanding of illness, isn't. Not even a little bit. Now this is not a reflection on my boss....I do not catch any flack from her about calling in, etc. But she still has to follow the rules and tally up the number of days I call in or leave early. (I guess the whining wasn't completely over yet).

The nice thing about feeling awful last night was that Trevor took really good care of me. Now, that's not to say that he is a stump when I'm feeling good, but he went above and beyond last night. He got me a drink and then he got me medicine and then he rubbed my shoulders and neck.....and then he did it all over again. He was so attentive and sweet...he even kept the kids away from me for the most part so I could rest. I was laying there in misery on the couch, but thinking how lucky I was to have a husband like him. Sickness and in health. No matter what the circumstance, you should always be able to find the good in it. He made that easy to do last night, and I thank him for it and I thank God for giving him to me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday Morning Blues

I have a splitting headache. It is to be expected considering the fact that my body is slowly ridding itself of all the toxins I've been putting in it for the last 6 months. I've come to expect this junk food hangover on the second day of dieting. It's like an old friend that comes to visit....or is it the annoying 4th cousin that drops in unannounced and stays too long? I take some comfort in knowing that it will be gone tomorrow along with a few more ounces of fat and flab.

I should be preparing a Bible study lesson for tomorrow, but I'm working up to that. We are studying the book of John at work and I have had such a good time getting to know the people that I interact with professionally on a completely different level. It's always encouraging to discover that everyone has basically the same issues regarding sin. We all have an area (or 2 or 3 or 15) where sin has us in it's clutches and we struggle against it. We fight it and fend it off, and yet it still hangs on and follows us around like a shadow. There are so many areas in my life that need work, and the only thing that keeps me fighting is talking to God. Confessing that sin over and over is quite frankly, a little embarrassing, but I know that God hears my confession and knows that my heart is repentant.

Knowing that God forgives me doesn't give me free license to sin and then beg for forgiveness later. The saying, "It's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission" doesn't hold water with God. He expects me to actively make choices that are in alignment with what the Bible tells me is right and to constantly be vigilant about those sinful areas in my life. I am going to sin. That is a fact of my state of total depravity. The difference is that I choose to sin as little as possible and to recognize sin when I see it.

Ah....there's the rub! What is sinful behavior? We all know the ten commandments even if you have never stepped foot inside a church. Those are the obvious ones...and even those get broken on a regular basis by the average Joe. Not the murder, but what about lying? What about taking the name of the Lord in vain? Do you covet? I know I do. How many times have I not kept the Sabbath holy? Even beyond the Big 10 there are so many other areas where sin creeps up on us. Just this morning I was impatient with my children, I broke the law by speeding to work, I didn't pray at all, and I had very ugly thoughts about someone that I know. I mean, I've only been awake for 3 hours. My day has barely gotten started!

So, when I'm finished writing this, I'm going to pray for forgiveness and mercy and ask for my daily portion of grace to make it through the day as sin free as possible.

Monday, March 12, 2007

And So it Begins....

The diet that is. I lost about 50 lbs last spring/summer with the help of some consistent circuit training and Weight Watchers. When my grandfather passed away this past August, I spent the entire trip home to Louisiana enjoying the good home cooking that I associate with a) my family and b) funerals. We're from the wouldn't be considered a proper funeral without eating in the fellowship hall afterwards. Several times during that visit, my brother and his wife (who are usually dieting with me) laughed off the extra eating with me by commenting, "Leave us alone...we're grieving!" Now that may sound crass to some, to joke about Gramps' death like that, but that's the kind of family we are. If you can't find the humor in the situation, then what's the point? I am more likely to break out into nervous laughter at a funeral than a crying's just the way I'm made. Anyway, that's completely off the current subject, so I'll move on.

So, after the food fest I had in August I never really got back on track with my diet and exercise. Then came the dreaded holiday season; in my family it's just not Thanksgiving and Christmas without round the clock eating of all the traditional foods that we enjoy. Colossal cookies, caramel popcorn, Texas trash, Martha Washington candy, cheese logs, sausage pinwheels....oh the list goes on and on. So you see my problem.....grief eating and then traditional holiday gorging. Just as we got past the holidays and I felt my resolve strengthening, we had another death in the family. My uncle Tellius had been ill for several years with colon cancer and finally succumbed to it. He passed away on my 35th birthday and I am actually glad that it happened that way. Although I could never forget him no matter when he died, now I will have a special reason to remember him every year.

So more grief eating and lowered resolve followed, and here we are. The good news is that I've only gained back about 10 lbs in spite of my best efforts to ruin my progress. The bad news is that I will be cranky and hungry for about a week until I get my body realigned with healthy eating and exercise habits. This has prompted me to issue a general warning to all family and friends who might have the opportunity to come into direct contact with me. I AM CRANKY AND HUNGRY. IF I SNAP AT YOU, IT IS JUST MY STOMACH TALKING. DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. That is all.

I make a solemn pledge to all people out there who do not need or want to do Weight Watchers: "I will try to keep conversations about my weight, number of points consumed daily and point values of food to a bare minimum. I give permission for blank stares and glassy eyes if I begin such a conversation." I have been told that I obsess (whatever) about the point values of food not just for myself, but for every one around me. It's not my fault if I feel compelled to point out that the 350lb woman at the table next to us at Chili's is eating a 45 point Awesome Blossom all by herself. Or that maybe, just maybe we could all use a little self control when eating those 2 point a pop candies. But I will do my best this time not to bore you guys with the detail...I will just dazzle you with the results!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Possibilities are Endless

Trevor put the posts in the newly dug holes today and set the cement to hold them. I am so excited about this new area of our house. I loved it when we moved in and really made use of our outdoor space by building a spacious deck. We had a beautiful, full ash tree that shaded almost all of the deck and it was a great place to lounge year round with the exception of high summer.....we do live in Texas, after all. Between 4th of July and mid-September you might as well spend your extra money on the cost of cooling your house instead pursuing ANY type of outdoor activity. Even swimming is hot work...but I digress.

When Rita came through last year, the ash suffered heavy damage and we lost a good bit of our shade, but at least it wasn't completely destroyed. We cleaned up what was left of the tree and waited for the spring. Well, once the leaves fell off during the winter we could see the skeleton of the tree and realized that it would have to come down. Not only was the remaining shape of the tree really ugly, but it was dangerous. All of the weight from the branches was on one side of the ash and there was a real danger of the tree splitting at some point in the future. According to my dad, this is a characteristic of ash trees, even when they are healthy. We didn't want to chance the tree falling during the next big storm, so we decided to cut it down.

So now the tree is down and although it is only March, it is BLAZING HOT on the deck. So the posts are up that will hold the new covering for the deck. Trevor will erect the structure next weekend and we will be on our way to cool, waterproof living during the summertime months. Now we will have a completely covered area complete with outdoor ceiling fans and new plants. I actually have a small budget to finish out the area and make it look nice.

I envision parties in the early evening with Chinese lanterns bobbing overhead and tiki torches lit to keep the bird sized mosquitoes at bay while our guests enjoy the cool breeze generated by the fans overhead. More importantly, I envision myself kicking the kids outside on rainy days when every one's nerves are so frayed that it would only take one more episode of Dora the Explorer or Curious George to send any rational person over the edge.

So, as I sit here and imagine how we are going to use our new living space the possibilities are endless. I love it that my husband is able to build things and fix practically anything. He keeps us comfortable and happy with all of the improvements that he makes on the house. If he can envision it, he can build it! So, the next time you are in the mood for a beverage (adult or otherwise!) and some good conversation, come on over!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Good Friends

We have friends. Now, this may not sound like much of an announcement to many of you out there, but this is a new state of being for Trevor and I since our marriage. We both have family that we have always been able to ask for help when we needed it, but never anyone else outside of that sphere. This has not always been true. Trevor had a few really good friends when he was in the Navy...Phil was best man at our wedding. And I had friends at my old job, but the only thing that really made us friends was our mutual interest in radiation therapy.

But in the 10 years that we have been married, we've never had another married couple that we could just call up so we could hang out or anyone that we could really call in an emergency. Any social life that we had revolved around our families, and while that can be fun too, we really felt like we had some sort of strange void in our lives.

Enter God. Trevor and I had been very rebellious about attending church since we were married. We went sporadically through the years, but never really got involved and only went when it was convenient and didn't disrupt our sleep or plans. I was convicted about a year ago to start attending church because I had become hyper-aware of how much my kids needed to be there. I started going every Sunday, found a great women's Sunday School class and began to make friends. About 6 months later (as a direct result of a massive prayer effort on the part of my SS class) we joined a small group composed of couples with young children and Trevor was convicted of his need for church as well.

As we got to know the couples in our small group, we grew to love each of them and discovered a wonderful fellowship and network of which we were a part. These people have become such an integral part of our lives and we are so blessed. It just proves that if you leave yourself open to God's will that you will be blessed beyond measure.

Well, today Trevor needed to cut down a largish tree in our backyard to make room for a new cover for our deck. The usual suspects were there to help...his dad and brother, but now there was a new player. Our friend Kenneth (whose wife is my enchanting, wonderful friend Kellye!) came over to help as well. But Kenneth doesn't just help. He gives every ounce of energy that he has to get the job done. He goes above and beyond just helping and does it cheerfully with a willing spirit. They got the tree felled and stacked (for next year's firewood) and then dug post holes for the new cover that will be installed next weekend. In between all of this, Kellye and Kenneth fried up some of the best catfish that I have ever had.

Kellye and I visited inside and had a great time just catching up while the guys worked outside. As I was sitting there with her, I was struck once again with the feeling of wonder that we had found these friends that will always be there for us and always support us. Not just in the fun things, but in the more serious, theological ways. I feel certain that they would both pull us aside in Christian love if they saw us straying from the path that God has in store for us. And I feel equally as certain that we would do it for them as well. That's what having Christian friends is all about. We love and support each other in a way that is filtered through biblical truth and Godly love.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for sending Kellye and Kenneth into our lives. Thank you for the other friends we have made in our small group and we look forward to those relationships growing and flourishing as we get to know each of them better.

Friday, March 9, 2007

It's Friday and I'm Off!

I was awakened this morning by the sound of my 2 year old's door slowly opening. I opened one eye just enough to see the clock by the bed and quickly closed it when I saw the numbers 6:02 boring into my skull. Now on any other morning, this would be about the time that I get up to get Nathan and Grace up and running, but this morning is special. I'm off. I am not required to rise from bed at such a ridiculous hour. I have the luxury of laying in bed until I feel like getting up, right?

Au contraire, for I am a Mother. No, I'm not suffering from a momentary lapse of grammatical reasoning....I meant to capitalize that. As I was laying there briefly entertaining the thought of actually slipping back into my warm cocoon of blankets, pillows and dreams I hear the door again. Grace must have realized how early it was! Maybe she was closing the door quietly out of respect for her Mother's need for just a few more minutes of sleep on her day off. Maybe she was planning to play quietly (and safely) in her room until I came in hours later to retrieve her. Maybe I'm on some kind of psychotropic drug if I really believe any of those options!

As it turns out, her plan for the early morning hours included climbing into bed with mommy with a diaper full of urine (mmmmmm...) and morning breath that would rival any adult. As she tunneled her way into my warm cave of blankets I kept my eyes shut, hoping she would get the hint. Note to self: the 2 year old brain does not "get" hints, vibes, mental projections or subliminal messages. She immediately began to talk and move around, effectively ending my night.

As she lay there molded next to my side, I could feel her warmth and sweetness. It was in that moment that I realized for the millionth time since I was inducted into the sorority of motherhood how lucky I am. My children are loving, affectionate, intelligent people that bring me untold joy week after week. I won't lie (and anyone who knows me won't be surprised by this): my children drive me to the very edge of my sanity anywhere from 3 to 228 times a day. They fight and argue and make huge messes and embarrass me in public and ......well the list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, I love them and they love me and wouldn't change a thing about my little family. Not one aspect of any personality, not one quirk. God made us the way we are and we are a perfect fit.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Day 2 and I'm back!

I surprised myself when I realized that I wanted to blog. What a strange it a noun? a verb? Anyway, I digress. I was actually excited about logging in and writing a little bit. Who knows who might read this. Maybe just the few people who know me (and received an email with a direct link to this page) and maybe others who don't know me at all, which would be sort of cool too. For better or worse, we are linked together with total strangers in cyber-space.

I just got word from Kellye (that enchanting, wonderful friend) that our friend Alicia went in to labor this morning. I work at the hospital where she is going to have Mikiah Nathanael and I can't wait to get over there and see them. This is the first child for Jason and Alicia and we are all really excited for them. We seem to have a baby boom in our circle of friends recently. Heather and Mike had Carson back in October and then Ali and Chris had Calvin in November. The number of children that we have running around during our game nights and get-togethers seems to be exponentially increasing! That's alright because it says in Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,The fruit of the womb is a reward. The one thing I am sure of is that Trevor and I will not be contributing to that explosion....that factory is closed. Our reward has been great. We are happy with one of each flavor, thank you very much....which brings me to my first rant:

Why are there people out there that insist on having more and more children until they get the gender they want? In my humble opinion, the plan should go something like this: when discussing family planning, the husband and wife should (more or less) predetermine the NUMBER of children they want barring multiples, etc. Apparently there are people out there who just keep trying for at least one of each, even of that means they have 4 girls first and then finally a boy. Have they not looked at the cost of college? the cost of living? cost of sanity? OK, I made that last one up, but come on! I can't tell you the number of people who looked at me with horrified expressions when I said I was having a tubal ligation after only *gasp* bearing 2 children. "But what if it's not a girl?" they would ask, to which I would reply, "then I'll have 2 boys!" Now, if you want 10 children, more power to you....but don't have 10 just to get 1 of a particular gender. OK....I'm carefully stepping off of the soap box and backing slowly away from it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

First day as a blogger

So I have a confession to make: I am a virgin blogger. I don't generally read blogs and I have never had one of my own. This is not a judgement on blogs or a statement about my ability to use technology. It is simply a reflection of my own laziness and the certainty that I will use this blog for a time and then as the newness wears off just stop. Cold turkey.

I named the blog "Heart of Service" because it has been pointed out by my good friend Kellye that I have the spiritual gift of service. I've known this for comes naturally to me to help out and volunteer myself for all sorts of things. (Kellye says that I'm all "volunteery") What I struggle with is that I want to "do it all" and that can make others who are also service minded uncomfortable. They want to help as well and I tend to hog all the work for myself. Whether a need for praise or acceptance or maybe a little of both, I figured that the title of this blog would be a daily reminder that I need to embrace my spiritual gift but to also temper it with an awareness of the needs of others. Anything that I do should only be an avenue through which I can glorify God. Doing things because it makes me look good is unacceptable. My new memory verse is:
I Corinthians 14:12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.