Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Contemplating Christmas & our upcoming 32nd Anniversary

This year was a delightful and low key Christmas. It was our first year to donate money in honor of another family member instead of gifts for the family member. We wrote a note about why we chose what we did and tears abounded. It almost feels too intimate to write those details. But the emotions were deep and much more satisfying than endless gift wrapped packages purchased for the sole reason of being opened. This will definitely be a new tradition that I will look forward to each year.

Jaime made Kevin an amazing scrapbook that honored his grandparents. G'ma and G'pa had written stories for us over the years about their childhoods, marriage, family, hard times, good times, and many words of wisdom. In one story, G'pa said, "Losing everything wasn't all bad. It was during those hardest times that we saw how much our church family loved us. And we cherished friends and family so much more." I hope this scrapbook will become an heirloom to the family. Thanks, Jaime, your hard work will last for generations and the book is just stunning.

Then the girls gave us a CD of family pictures. They put the kids in Cowboy uniforms to honor Kevin. They were wonderful! I recognize that it took them a lot of effort to get all 3 families together and keep them in good spirits during all the posing and picture taking. All that was not lost on us. Girls, thank you. The pictures were wonderful and I can't wait to get our newest family picture on the wall.

Here are my 3 favorite pictures. The grandkids, the girls, and the entire family.

Looking at these pictures reminds us that these are the things that are important to us at Christmas. And these pictures make the celebration of our 32nd anniversary that much sweeter. We look at these kids and grandkids and we feel like we did a lot of things right. We see that God was faithful to give us wisdom liberally as we cried out to him as we raised our family. We serve an amazing God who has blessed us beyond anything we ever imagined.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Manger and Christmas Past

Kylene reminded me last night about a Christmas tradition in our family when the girls were growing up. I made a manger out of Popsicle sticks. Then I would fill a jar with straw and place it next to the manger. During the whole month of December you were to do something nice and ANONYMOUS for someone in the family. When you did, you could put a piece of straw in the manger. The goal was to have a manger full of straw for Jesus on Christmas morning. The idea was that each time you did something nice anonymously for someone else, you were doing it for Jesus.

I think we started the tradition when Kylene was about 4 and continued until the girls were all teenagers. Sometimes they'd groan about it but I didn't take them very seriously because it wouldn't be long before they'd start enjoying finding things to do for others. I limited it to family because, to be honest, family is often the most neglected. It's easy to do nice things for friends and even strangers at Christmastime, but not as easy to serve family.

This was a simple way to keep Jesus the focus of Christmas. In spite of all the concerts, programs, parties of the season, there was always an empty manger in the background slowly being filled with hay. It also encouraged the girls to nice things for their sisters without bragging about it. I was often privy to their sneaky good deeds. I'd watch them make each other's beds or wash dishes or put their things away and they really enjoyed it. The sneaky factor was a great draw.

I think this tradition helped keep us from getting quite so grumpy with each other during December too. It's hard to be crabby and do nice things for someone else.

So, here's to Christmas past and a manger full of hay.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Training the Beast - Click

I decided that, if I'm going to have a teeny tiny dog, she's going to be a well behaved teeny tiny dog. So we are going to obedience training classes for the next 8 weeks. This class uses the 'clicker method'. Basically, when the dog does what you want, you click your clicker and give them a treat. I'm intrigued to watch this play out. I grew up training dogs for obedience and we taught the dog the word, then the action. Here they learn the action and you add the word to it after they get the action down.

I am in a very small class. There are 2 of us plus the instructor. The other dog's name is Sadie and she's a German Shepherd puppy. She's 3 months old and could easily think of Beast as a squeakie toy. Beast is now 5 months old and just barely 2 lbs. Last night was the requisite boring introduction followed by instructions for using the clicker.

When I got home after the class, I showed Kevin what Beast and I had learned. I immediately learned that Ranger does NOT like the clicker. Ranger is already well trained. He's so good that, if he misbehaves and I tell him that he's grounded, he'll go outside by himself and stay until I let him come back in!! Maybe the clicker is an affront to his intelligence.

Beast may have a teeny tiny brain, but it works amazingly well. She's already learned that, when I call her name, she comes running to me and sits right in front of me to await further instructions (ok, to await a treat... the other will come). It's actually pretty cool to watch her come bounding in and sit quietly. Very not little doglike, but pretty impressive.

I was going to try to pull a spiritual analogy out of this, but really, I'm glad God doesn't use the clicker method on us. However, I do want to be better at coming running when He calls me and then sitting quietly at His feet.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mary and Moses

My sister-in-law, Jennifer, sent me a package the other day.  I figured it was Christmas gifts for the grandkids so I didn't open it.  I thought it'd be easier to wait until the Christmas tree was up and I could put the gifts under the tree.

Jennifer called me today to make sure I'd opened the package.  It turns out that she'd sent the g'kids a bunch of Bible time costumes!  You could mix and match them all.  She even told me that she'd made sure she had enough for our own Christmas pageant.

What a great idea!  Josh and Julia tried them on (Randall acquiesed to trying on the king costume for a few minutes) and really had a good time playing Bible dress up.  I talked with them about the costumes as we tried them on.  Julia loved the Mary costume and wanted her picture taken.  Josh decided that the costume that could've been Herod the King looked more like Moses to him.  And he didn't want to be a bad king.  He wanted to be Moses, you know, 'the guy who climbed Mount Everest'!

So here are Mary and Moses.  (Julia's nose is red because she was Rudolph in preschool this morning and didn't want it washed off).

Oh and by the way, the baby Jesus looks a lot like Baby Belle and Moses wore Skechers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Peace Offering Accepted

Jaime made me laugh today.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  We've invited new friends from church who have no local family.  We used to do that every year and thought it'd be a neat thing to do again.  We've never gotten in the habit of expecting the kids to spend Thanksgiving with us.  First of all, we do realize that they have their own families and secondly, we figure it makes asking for Christmas afternoon easier!

Kylene and Trey are joining us and I thought it'd be nice if Jaime and Slade came over too since this family has 2 boys close to Russell and Randall's ages and the husband works at LeTourneau.  So I asked them a few times to join us.  I tried hard not to use guilt.  (mostly, because it makes me end up looking dumb but also because it doesn't work on Jaime and Slade).  They decided to go to Slade's aunt's house and then they'll join us for the Cowboys game later in the afternoon.

Yesterday I got a sweet phone call from Rebecca.  She asked if she and Matthew and Audrey could join us for Thanksgiving!  I was so tickled because she felt comfortable calling.  And of course we'd love to have them join us.  So it's going to be a nice group and I'm really looking forward to it.

Jaime called me today to tell me that she encouraged Rebecca to call us so that they could be a peace offering to me for Jaime not coming tomorrow for dinner!  That made me laugh.  And the peace offering was happily accepted!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A new generation

It seems only right, after grieving loss, to remember that life will continue and that it's ok to look forward.

Last night I had my first sleepover with my third generation of youth!  I had 2 of my 5th & 6th grade girls over.  We went to a late showing of Madagascar 2 and then out to IHOP around midnight.  Jr hi kids used to love to go around 3am but these girls couldn't hold out that long.  Then we came home and they went to sleep right away.

It's pretty amazing to me that I've been working with youth for over 25 years.  This is my first time working with 5th and 6th graders and I'm really enjoying them.  They're definitely more compliant than jr hi kids.  And they love doing anything 'youth group-ish'.  Last week one of the kids asked me how I came up with so many games for them to play.  I had to remind them that I've been coming up with games for longer than they've been alive!

It was a fun night all around.  Time to introduce a new generation to Camp Stoddard and getting spoiled and staying up late and learning how to love and encourage each other in a safe place.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Further up and further in....

I have always loved C. S. Lewis' Narnia series.  Parts of the stories have stayed with me for years.  Some of them I've really taken to heart.  In "The Horse and His Boy", there was a part where one of the characters was whining to Aslan about someone else.  Aslan wisely said, 'That's not your story.'  I have always remembered that when the girls were prone to tattle on their sisters.

And in the Last Battle, all of the faithful friends of Narnia enter into Aslan's country, where they are reunited with old friends.  But it's not the end.  Aslan's guests are invited by Reepicheep to go 'further up and further in' to glorious adventures too beautiful to describe.

That's how I think of heaven, a place where things will be more real than we can ever imagine.

One of Kylene's high school friends, Miranda, died today.  She had leukemia and her body simply couldn't fight it any longer.  Her husband was one of Kylene's friends too and I cannot even fathom what he went through making the decision to take her off the respirator.

Miranda died surrounded by family so her parents had to watch their daughter breathe her last breath.  They were there for her first breath and then for her last.  I cannot even fathom that pain.  My heart just aches for them.

I am so thankful that Miranda knew Jesus so that she leaves behind hope and peace.  Peace, knowing that she is free from pain, and hope, knowing that she will be reunited with those she loves.  Without that peace and hope, this loss would be unbearable.

There is something unnatural about burying your child.  It's like it goes against nature.

Time to hug my girls a little longer today and weep with those who weep.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Give unto others

Christy and I were talking yesterday about Christmas and gift giving. Our family tradition, now that the kids are all grown, is to get together around noon and open our gifts to each other together. Mornings are for each family to enjoy together and to have their own family traditions. I love that we're all together for the afternoon and then we celebrate Russell and Randall's birthdays in the evening.

All the families really don't have any needs when it comes to birthday gifts. Then we end up giving each other things that we could get for ourselves anyway.

So I've offered the idea for each couple to draw a name of another couple and then make a donation in their honor. On Christmas, we'll open envelopes that will tell about the donation.

I think it'll be fun to find a cause that means something special to that couple. It'll give Christmas shopping a whole new meaning!

I was looking online and found this website  http://www.justgive.org/.  It's got 1000's of places where you can make a donation.  We've been given so much.  I think it'll be fun to share it with others on Christmas.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Heavy Heart

My heart is heavy for the nation. I believe that we are in decline as a nation and the downhill slope just got steeper and more slippery.

The hope I hold onto is that God is ultimately in control. Nothing surprises Him. And even if my faith in my country is waning, my faith in God is strong because He never changes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Here today and gone tomorrow

I'm home today after spending Tuesday and Wednesday in Tyler with my Aunt Alice. She had knee replacement surgery and asked if I'd take her to the hospital and stay overnight. I was happy to do it and I learned a lot while like I there.

For example:

*knee replacement surgery, replacing the ends of your bones with heavy metal and all the grinding and reattaching that goes with that only takes 1 hour.

*they get you up 6 hours later to begin walking on that same leg that they just whittled on and sewed on.

*The day after surgery, you are awakened at 6am and you are moving, exercising, walking or getting poked and prodded until about 4pm.

*Hip replacement is actually an easier surgery than knee replacement.

Don't you feel smarter now too?

I'm taking the Beast with me when I go back to help Aunt Alice tomorrow for the weekend. So I decided it was time to have Beast look like a real frou-frou poodle. She's going to have to grow into this cut because she's still got real fine puppy hair. But it's so funny to see this itty bitty poodle running around. I think she'll be a hit this weekend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

That's what family does

All 3 of my girls told me that when I had to ask them to help me arrange to take care of my aunt. How wonderful is that?

My aunt is having knee replacement surgery next week. She's asked me to stay with her the day of and the day after surgery in the hospital and then to be with her for 3 days when she's released from the hospital.

In her eyes, she's asking a big favor. In my eyes, it's a chance to be a daughter for a mom that needs her. Not having that in my family of origin, I'm honored that she asked me.

But I couldn't have done it without my girls being willing to all rearrange their schedules to help me. And all 3 of them were more than willing to help me and my aunt.

I'm just so thankful for them. And for my aunt. And for Kevin for telling me, "Whatever Aunt Alice needs, we'll do."

That's what family does. Very cool.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Suck up points

I am not above earning suck up points for my grandkids. I am really liking this Beast and I am really liking that the grandkids like her too! I think I've given Josh great incentive to come see me every day.

The beast has won over Kevin. He's always been sweet, ummm nice, ummmm tolerant of other pets through the years, but this one has really won him over.

I'm officially one of those old ladies who carries a puppy in her purse and I'm ok with that. Especially 'cuz mine is the cutest.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Beast has arrived

Yesterday I took Josh and we drove to Terrell to pick up my new puppy, Beast.  Josh and I talked and talked and he talked and talked and talked.  He was very impressed at the breeder's house because he had lots of dogs, a cat and a chicken with baby chicks.

The Beast weighs a whopping 1 lb 4 oz!  She is so tiny that we put a bell on her collar so that we can tell where she is so we hopefully won't step on her.  

I am most pleased with her personality.  We have had amazing success with our pets' personalities.  And this one is no exception.  She is well socialized and lets anyone hold her and is afraid of nothing.  Ranger and Shadow are way more intimidated by her than she is by them!

I got this puppy purse and put the Beast in it today for a trip to a craft show with Christy and Julia. The Beast did great! No one even knew she was in there unless I showed them. When Julia got restless, I'd let her hold the Beast:

Right now I have company as I type this:

I have a very sweet and understanding hubby to get me this birthday gift.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Or Not

Well, insurance said they won't cover my surgery because it's not medically necessary.  So we just wait until infection or cancer sets in.  Kevin says our insurance is battle pay because we have to battle to have it actually pay.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Pre-registration at the hospital.  Nice and easy.  Or not.

The good news is that we made our deductible on my gallbladder surgery so this surgery shouldn't cost us anything.  The bad news is that insurance hasn't given the go ahead for surgery.

I am supposed to show up for surgery and hope it's been approved.  If it hasn't been approved, I'll just go home.  We know that my time doesn't count, or the folks who have to rearrange their schedules, like Kevin and the girls...

I'm thankful for insurance, really I am.  I just get so tired of having to jump through hoops in order to get things done.

I remember when we had insurance when I was expecting Kylene.  We paid $40/month extra to get the 100% coverage.  And I only had to pay that amount for 3 months before delivery!  I had Kylene and had my tubes tied and it truly was paid in full 100%.  No extra phone calls, no incorrect billing, no messed up coding.  I actually kept the 'paid in full' notice from the hospital for years.  

Okay, I'm officially old since I am posting about remembering 'when' and the 'good old days'.  Of course, those were the same days when our mortgage was at 17% interest too.  

I'm done rambling and ranting.  

Friday, October 03, 2008

TMI warning

I went to a new surgeon today.  She specializes in breast cancer and surgery.  So I go to see her because I have this weird birthmark that is actucally a 3rd nipple and also a smaller 4th nipple down below my left side.

It's not common but it's not unheard of either.  It's a weird thing to have.  It's kinda awkward to talk about it.  "So, how's your extra boob?'  or "Wow, you could wear double-breasted suits!"  

To answer questions, I've always had them, but thought the smaller one was a mole.  It isn't and will be removed, as well as the one that actually looks like an honest to goodness nipple, 'cuz it is!  I guess my procedure can be called and Itty Bitty Titty removal......

Still scared 'cuz I just don't like going to sleep and waking up with parts missing... I'm weird about that.

ok, that's all I can handle tonight.  Lots of material to use to play the Glad Game.  Probably tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Puppy has a name!

We're naming the puppy Ruth's Sexy Beast!  Our sheltie is Ruth's Texas Ranger so it's a fun theme to follow.  

Josh is really excited and can't wait for me to get the puppy.  He's offered to teach her tricks.  I asked him what tricks he's taught his dogs and he told me that he's taught Shadrach to sit whenever he tells him to lay down.  Sounds like that's a great trick for our family!  Can't you hear it now?  Beast, Lay Down and this itty bitty dog sits!  

When the puppy is old enough, I'm going to have her groomed with a fancy poodle cut.  That way people will think I've invented a shrink ray!  I love all things little!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I like miniatures.  

So, for my birthday, Kevin agreed to a miniature puppy!   I can't pick her up for 2 weeks because she's so small.

She's a teacup (or teeny tiny) poodle.  She's got red hair and is very, very sweet.  She doesn't even weigh 1 lb yet!  And she'll probably only get to 2 1/2 lbs.  I'll have to put her in our pack-n-play until she's bigger!  And I'll have to make sure the cat doesn't mistake her for a mouse!

So, what should I name her?  Suggestions?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And the turkeys cheered

When the kids were younger, we would always have a very non-traditional Thanksgiving.  We would have folks come who didn't have close family so we could all hang out together.  And we didn't have a 'normal' Thanksgiving meal.  Some of those things can make a person even more homesick.  So instead, we'd do a theme - Italian - Chinese - Mexican....

I've really missed those meals together with friends.  So this year, after talking with a few people at our church, I think this is the perfect time to bring this tradition back to life.  We'll decide more details later, it's just really neat to know that we're going to pursue it.

I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store for all of us and I'm looking forward to seeing who He brings.!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Name Calling

Tonight I was called 'an answer to prayer'.

On Sunday, I met a sweet LeTourneau student who is an exchange student from the university's sister school in Korea.  She asked me about our small groups and in our talking I told her I'd be happy to give her a ride.  She actually called today and wanted to go to our church potluck tonight.  So I picked her up and took her back to the school.

I told her she picked the right person to ask because we've got a loooong history of having college students around.  Her parents are Korean but they are missionaries in Indonesia and live in a very remote village.  One sister lives in Canada, another sister is getting ready to move to Vietnam and her brother is in boarding school in Indonesia.  She really cherishes her local church family.  Even though she'll only be there into December, she wants to jump in with both feet!

Before I dropped her off, she said that she'd asked God to show her if our church was where she was supposed to plug in.  She said when I offered to pick her up and take her home, she knew this was where she was supposed to be.

How encouraging that simply being open to what God brings our way can be a blessing to someone else.

I was an answer to someone's prayer today.  wow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Theraputic post

I have lots running through my head and maybe this is a good place to write it out and maybe sort it out as I go along.

I don't talk a lot about my father.  I haven't seen him in 27 years.  He has a whole new family and 2 daughters who are younger than my girls and I've never even met them.  It's sad, very sad, but there it is.  My father's brother died a couple days ago and I've been just remembering things in general.

My uncle Paul was the #2 son out of 5 sons.  My dad was #4 son.  My uncle Paul married Doris.  Doris encouraged her sister to write her new brother-in-law (my dad) who was in the Air Force.  So, when my folks got married, it was Paul's brother marrying Doris' sister.  It's actually a very cool thing to have double cousins, where all of our relatives are related, in fact, our family trees are the same., we shared both sets of grandparents.  Uncle Paul's daughter, Susan, once took me to school for show and tell as her double cousin!  My most complete memory of Uncle Paul was that he was a teaser with a twinkle in his eye.  He once told me that the reason he didn't have any hair on the top of his head was because he ate too much peanut butter and it pushed his hair out by the roots.  I was in awe of someone who'd actually eaten that much peanut butter!!!

You'd think, being that much related, that our families would have been close.  But that wasn't the case.  Communication, grace, mercy were not strong traits in my family of origin.  When Uncle Paul married Aunt Doris, he was a divorced man.  My grandfather didn't approve and even went so far as disowning Doris because of the marriage.  Then when my dad married my mom, he was also a divorced man.  For some reason, it was not a problem for my grandfather and that caused a huge amount of friction between the sisters.  I think the brothers tried to stay in the background as much as possible.  For years, the sisters didn't speak to each other.  Even though we were as closely related as was possible, I only remember seeing my aunt and uncle 3 times in my life.  Once, as a little girl, we went to their house for a visit.  Then I saw them at my grandfather's funeral and once here in Texas.  All that bitterness they carried through most of their lives.

Family dynamics are very strange sometimes.  In my mother's family, there were 3 girls.  My mother was the middle daughter and was very much the favored child.  She perpetuated that in our family as my brother was very much the favored child also.  I'm guessing the same awkwardness that my brother and I stuggle with as a result of that were present in my mother's family also.

My dad was 4th of 5 sons.  His mother died of Measles when the youngest son was 6 months old.  My dad was 3 when his mom died.  The youngest son was raised by an aunt and uncle in the same town.  My grandfather brought in a housekeeper who had 2 young daughters of her own.  She eventually married my grandfather but she never wanted to raise those boys.  My dad was the scapegoat in his family.  He was beaten and blamed and he left home as early as he could.

Interestingly, I was the scapegoat in my family.  I was abused and blamed and I left home as early as I could.

I feel sad that the adults from my childhood are now dying.  I feel sad because it's a vivid reminder that the past is over and done, never to be revisited again.  And sad because over time, it is more evident that we are often doomed to repeat the past if we choose not to learn from it the first time.  And sad because the hope for reconciliation is beginning to die out too.  There was no reconciliation in areas of my parents' lives.  And they are perpetuating that with me.  And that is most sad to me.

I refuse to give in to self-pity.  I prefer to turn the hurt into a deep reminder of what NOT to do to my own next generation.  God has so amazingly given Kevin and me the chance to break those chains from the previous generations.  We don't have a favored child in our family and we don't have a scapegoat.  We don't have bitterness or jealousy that rips apart relationships.  Instead, we have acceptance, grace, mercy, unconditional love and acceptance.  

There is a part of me that hurts for what I never experienced in my childhood family.  But more than that hurt, there is a gratitude that Kevin and I were able to give our girls those things we didn't get to experience.  The gratitude outweighs the pain.

This pun's for you

Thanks to Jean for sending these my way.  Believe or not, some of these are new and I truly laughed out loud at them.  If all you can do is groan, that's good enough.  (groaning at puns is for those who are jealous that they didn't think of them first!)

* Police were called to a day care where a 3-year-old was
 resisting a rest.

* To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

* The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

* The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

* Time flies like an arrow; 
fruit flies like a banana.

*  Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft & I'll show you A-flat miner.

* The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

*  A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France
, resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

* Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

* Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Talking to myself

So, I've now gone to the fitness center 5 days in a row!  I intend to make it a regular Mon-Fri habit.  I have time to ponder as I sweat so I thought I'd share some ponderings, or in my case, ruminations:

Having control over myself is almost as good as having control over others.

*  I am grateful that I am not as judgmental as all those censorious, self-righteous people around me.

*  I need not suffer in silence while I can still moan, whimper and complain.

* The first step is to say nice things about myself. The second, to do nice things for myself. The third, to find someone to buy me nice things.

* Becoming aware of my character defects leads me naturally to the next step of blaming my parents.

* Before I criticize a man, I walk a mile in his shoes. That way, if he gets angry, he's a mile away and barefoot.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Going to the gym & losing my clothes

That sounds like an enticing title, doesn't it?  

So, I joined a fitness club and signed up for a laundry service that will wash my workout clothes.  I get a nice locker, 2 clean towels a day and my clean clothes will be folded and put in my locker.  That is, if they don't lose them first.  I was pretty excited to put on fresh work out clothes that I didn't wash except that when I opened the locker, they weren't there.  I went to the front desk and they went searching....and searching....and searching....  I knew they'd find them.  I mean, who wants a t-shirt that says, "Snorkel Kona" and silly looking flowered pants?  They even searched the men's locker room.  

Somehow they ended up in the lost and found and I finally got them back.  It only took an extra hour and luckily, today was the only day I didn't have to pick g'kids up from school.

I observed something today.  There was a time when something like that would've really gotten me upset.  Looking back, I realize that I was usually very intense about life in general and pretty much wanted life to go the way I wanted.  I didn't give people and circumstances much leeway nor grace and mercy.  I'm sorry for that.  I let my schedule become more important than people and people's feelings.

I'm thankful for this time in my life where I can not be as frazzled and I can be more encouraging to others.  After losing my clothes, the folks at the fitness place will probably remember me.  The good thing is that they will remember me for being patient and gracious.  I hope I can make that a habit.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Goodbye rain, hello sunshine

It was a long weekend. For the first time in the 26 years that we've lived in Texas, we experienced a tropical storm. Ike came north from Houston straight to Longview before veering east. The rain was constant but not a downpour. It was the soggy ground and wind that contributed to pine trees swaying like palm trees and breaking like toothpicks all over town.

Our power was out for a couple days and the first day we heard a loud crack close by. We went out the back and saw this in our neighbor's yard:
A huge oak tree had fallen onto our neighbor's house.  It fell across the entire house, crushing his kitchen and trapping his car inside his garage.  He had actually been heading to the kitchen when it happened.  This tree is so big that he can't even get a tarp over the roof to protect from further damage.  They first have to get the tree out.  
It looks like this in a lot of places around town.  We spent a long day yesterday picking up debris, mopping up water and raking and raking and raking up pine needles.  The good news is that the front yard is finished and looks great.  And the porch is mopped and cleaned.  All the neighbors were working in their yards yesterday so our street looks back to normal.  That's a nice thing because so many other streets still look like a tropical storm came through.
Kevin and I are sore today!  But we are most grateful that we're all safe and sound. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I confess

I joined a fitness center today. I've been struggling with some strange symptoms this past year. I've had more than just hot flashes and then my heart would start racing and I'd have a hard time breathing. It's been a difficult year health wise. Now that my gallbladder has been removed, most of those strange symptoms have disappeared!

So, now that I'm finally feeling good, it's time to start taking better care of myself. The fitness center has a nursery and the time that I want to go is the quietest time of the day. I'm not a crowd person so that's good and it'll be better for the girls too. Since we got in the habit of going swimming every morning this summer, this will be an easy routine to start. And 5 days a week will make it habit for all of us.

I intend to look as pathetic as possible so that folks will have pity on the old lady.

Oh, and by the way, I finally figured out my problem....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tacky, tacky

Ok, I love these updated lawn ornaments!!

They make me laugh, just looking at the picture!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Julia asked me today,  "Grammy, have you had your last birthday yet?"

I told her, "I hope not" but it certainly makes one think.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters...

Julia announced today that she is Ally's big sister.  And Ally is Audrey's big sister and Audrey is Anna-Claire's big sister.  And that makes Anna-Claire the baby.  So Julia and Ally played together telling each other that they were sisters, no matter what.

I think those 2 are on to something there.  Cousins by birth, sisters by choice.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What would you say?

My friend, Patti, posted this on her blog and invited us to do the same.

What would you say if you knew you were going to die and had a chance to sum up everything that was most important to you?

I've been thinking about this today.  There are three things I'd want everyone to know that I consider most important to me.

1) My Faith.  I am a sinner saved by grace.  I have a Heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally and His son, Jesus, died in my place so that I could be reunited with my Father.  I am and have become a different person as a follower of Jesus.  I want people to be able to look back at my life and see Jesus.  And if anyone sees that and wants that for themself, I couldn't ask for more.

2) My Family.  Because God is real, my family is the story of 2 teenagers who married and never should have stayed together, much less prospered in their marriage.  God changes people and Kevin and I are very clear evidence of that truth.  God changed us, then gave us wisdom, grace and mercy to break the chains from our families of origin and instead raise our 3 children in a healthy environment.  Our family was very open and very real.  And now we still like each other.  Our family was a place where you could be accepted and loved unconditionally.  God gives us the chance to love our kids the way He loves us.  And now our kids are putting that into practice in their families.  We have a heritage of grace and mercy.

3) My friends.  I believe we need 3 kinds of friends in our lives: those who need us more than we need them, those who we need more than they need us, and those where there is equal give and take.  The first teaches us to give, the second teaches us to receive and the third teaches us give and take.  All 3 are needed for healthy lives.  Sometimes friends become our chosen family and we have so much to thank God for when He gives us those kinds of friends.

If I didn't have long to live, it would no longer matter how big my house was or how classy my clothes or which car I drove.  It would only matter that I could have the chance to tell my family and friends that I love them.  And then I pray that my last words will be to tell God how much I love Him.

This is a good challenge.  How about you?  Answer this question for yourself and post it here or on your blog.  Your answers may surprise you!

Teaching again

First, the time spent with my friends last night went very, very well.  I give credit to the parents for wanting to do what's best, even when it's way outside their comfort zone.  We'll meet again in January to reassess.

I'm teaching again.  Not really a surprise, I guess.  I'm now teaching 5th and 6th grade Sunday School and I'm really enjoying it.  We're doing it like a pre-youth group so the kids can begin to be friends and connect with each other.  We're using this great curriculum called Grapple that's made for this age group and I am really enjoying it.

Grapple gives the kids their own place on the web.  So this morning I took pictures of 2 of my girls to post on our new website.  These girls are just so sweet.  They were thrilled to be able to have their own place on the web and took turns sending messages to each other.  It's nice to have a very small group.

I'm tired and sore, which is a good reminder that I'm not all the way healed from the surgery yet.  I think I'll take it easy this afternoon and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mediation or running interference?

I've been invited to help mediate a family meeting tonight.  Not my family, but dear friends.    I'm so glad they trust me enough to ask me to help them navigate these unknown waters.  At the same time, I feel a lot more tentative than I used to about these things.  I used to be the first in line to go confront and deal with things and get them resolved.  I'm not like that as much now.  

What's changed?  Is this mellowing with age?  Am I losing some of my own analness?  Am I letting grace and mercy finally flow instead of turning it off and on at will?

One thing that hasn't changed is the knowledge that God is in control and I can do much more good as I keep that in mind.

Starting again

Well, I decided I'd actually give blogging another try.  I don't think I have all that much to say, but I sure do enjoy reading other's blogs about everyday things.  I can do everyday things too, I just hope I can make it interesting enough that folks will want to read it more than just once.

So, here I am.  I'm officially retired from the workforce and ministry.  I'm officially a full time Grammy.  It's been 4 years since I left the outside workforce and 1 year since I retired from ministry.  This year has been filled with trying to bring some kind of order around here.  

Now that the school year has begun, Josh is in morning kindergarten and Julia is in Pre-K on Tues, Wed, and Thurs.  Ally and I have those mornings to ourselves.

I'm not into the new swing of things yet because last week I had unexpected gallbladder surgery.  I had 2 gallbladder attacks in 1 week.  Not pleasant.  The sonogram showed 'more gallstones than could be counted'.  Not pleasant.  Surgery was scheduled for the next day.  Very quick and the surgery itself was in  at 7am and home by 2pm.  However, it was still surgery and I am now missing one of my organs so I've been slowly getting my energy back this week.  It's not as fast as it used to be.  However, I do believe that was the last of my expendable organs.  I'm surprised there isn't an echo when the doc listens to my heartbeat 'cuz it's kinda empty in there these days!

One thing I love about taking care of the grandkids is when I get to see them do something for the first time.  Today Ally (2) tattled on Julia for the first time.  She shyly came up to me and whispered that Julia pushed her.  She had a very impish look on her face.  She'd seen Julia tattle and decided she wanted to do it too.  I told her, 'thanks for telling me, Ally' and she grinned and ran back to the playroom, perfectly content that she'd done something just like Julia!  

At lunch she announced, "I love Julia!" and threw her arms around Julia's neck and squeezed her until their cheeks met, both faces with sweet, sweet smiles.  That was a definite flashback moment to all the times Kylene did the same thing with her friends.  

Life is sweet when it's flavored with granddaughters.

About Me

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Longview, Texas
In the autumn of my life, I am very content.


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