Sunday, August 31, 2008

It Has Finally Arrived!

I bought this book last night and I read 3/4 of it this morning. For those of you who don't know, this is a book written by our Senior Pastor, Dave Hess and describes his ordeal and major victory over cancer that we all (as a congregation) walked through with him and his precious family 11 years ago this November. I'll never forget how this affected me on a personal was during that time I learned about spiritual warfare and tenacity in prayer.

I thank God for our pastor! His story is remarkable, yet he is a very humble man. I highly recommend reading this, especially if you are facing circumstances to which there seems no way out. The book can be purchased at CCC or if you are interested and are from out-of-town, it is available at several online book distributors, including

Friday, August 29, 2008

Giving Him the Glory!

I received a contingent job offer yesterday and I accepted. It is only contingent because my references must be checked, and they will be running criminal records and a drug test. I am very happy....last month I had been going back and forth, back and forth about working part-time or full time. I just didn't think I could get a part-time job that paid a good hourly wage and we have some bills to catch up on (and, a pool!).

I'm really excited because I am only working 20 hours a week and I should be home by the time the bus pulls up (except on Wednesday when The Husband will be off work to get them). This was so important to me....I was really struggling with the money vs. being home with the kids in the afternoon. I realized that over the last 12 years we have set a standard to which our children have become accustomed to having me around much of the time. The decisions were never made over the money....we were following the Will of our Father (which by the way, is different for every family, there is no condemnation here if you don't work at all or if you work full time). And, I had always worked part-time so that I could be home to take care of them and the other aspects of my life, like PTO and church activities. I just wasn't willing to give that up for the money. And, there was a peace in that. Sure, I'd love to wipe our credit card slate clean, but this job will actually help us make ends meet on a month to month basis and I'm sure at some point we'll get those other bills (and pool) paid off. I'm asking God and believing He'll answer.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to starting on September 9th. It is for a non-profit, social services agency. I will be the administrative support for the Communications and Compliance/Legal departments. Both of the people I will be working for directly seem very nice and eager to have me come on board. They said they see me "growing this position", so therefore, they are paying more then what the job was posted for to meet my asking price. How cool is that? Thank you, Jesus and thanks to all of you who were praying for me!

A little side note is that this agency also does adoption placement and foster care....hmmmmm.....will the adoption bug bite us, too?? I can't say we haven't discussed it over the last 2 years!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Think Someone Out There Needs to Hear This

This was part of my time spent with the Lord this morning. Soak it in....He loves us even when we feel unloved or unlovable. It is worth the 8 minutes and 52 seconds. Just relax and give yourself the gift of taking it all in....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The First Day of School Highlight Reel

* A pool in your backyard is a great thing to come home to after a long day at school.

* My house was so quiet I could hear myself paint my toenails.

* I didn't cry for the first time in 8 years dropping anyone off at school. But, I did have a lump in my throat.

* I can't figure out how to load pictures from our new camera onto my computer without The Husband here.

*Seventh grade is extremely boring and #1 came home with a thick packet of math homework. Welcome to advanced classes, #1! You'll thank me one day when you get your full ride at Messiah.

*#2 had a boy call the house for her last night. He had a crush on her last year and passed her notes. Apparently, third grade progresses on to phone calls. She's not interested (thank you, Jesus), but doesn't want to hurt his feelings. She made a little small talk and then said she had to go eat dinner (we actually were eating dinner). It was cute, yet strangely disturbing. Papa Bear didn't like it one bit.

*I had an interview for a job that I think I would like for a Lutheran social services organization. Great hours, decent pay. I'm pretty sure I'll get an official offer by Friday. I would be home everyday when the kids get off the bus except Wednesday, which is The Husband's day off.

How did everyone else fair on their first days?

Friday, August 22, 2008

It Was the Best of Times, but It Wasn't the Worst of Times

I didn't think I could possibly write another post about it being the end of summer (blah, blah, blah) and I'm sad the kids are going back to school (blah, blah, blah) and I'm concerned that #3 is sitting with a moody "popular" girl at her desk cluster (blah, blah, blah) and #1 has advance math this year, along with peer pressure out the wazoo to be someone she was not created to be (blah, blah, blah).....and #2, well, she's actually the one with friends in her class and a teacher that seems great, so I can't really "blah, blah, blah" much there.

Our summer is like a movie passing before my eyes. The good, the boring, and the ugly. I will admit we faced our challenges this summer. Growing pains. All of us. And, I could spend the first week of school feeling guilty for all the times I yelled at the girls or missed opportunities because I just wasn't in the mood to play "princess". There was a lot of arguing and hurt feelings around here, which seemed to be a common theme in a lot of other families I know. Sometimes I miss the days when they rolled around on the floor wrestling over a toy. The words they say now and lack of consideration for one another are much more painful then slugging it out and being done with it. And, I can get in there and do some verbal damage, myself.

But, good things have happened, too. We have had some fun times, some times growing in the Lord, and even as recently as last night, a breakthrough with #1 and #2 communicating what they need from each other to be loved better. There has been an increase of self control and obedience in our home. Now, we are working on adding the word "cheerful" to that! And, we have bonded. A bond that cannot be severed. Going to the gym and pool together. Playing cards together. Quiet talks. Snuggles in the morning when we don't have to jump out of bed to rush off somewhere. Praying together. Worshiping together. Making ice cream sundaes for dessert. Just smiling and tickling and hugging all over each other.

Those are the memories I plan to dwell on when they are at school!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Didn't Get a Job, But I Got a Pool!

Yes, it's true.

Excavation begins today.

I'd take pictures, but I still don't have a camera from the unfortunate camp accident. I will be purchasing a camera today because part of this great, amazing deal we got was an above ground pool AT COST and FREE installation. The only catch is that we must take 24 installation pictures and 24 "Family Fun" pictures and write a letter for the sales reps to use at their presentations. And, we have a year to pay for it! And, they gave us a free vacuum and chemical kit. And, they threw in a set of Ginsu knives. Just kidding! About the knives. Not kidding about the pool. of hands out many of you have the hair on the back of your neck standing up at the mere silliness of me complaining of our troubled finances/needing a job and then buying a pool?? It's okay. I was like that, too, for about five minutes.

Now, I have joined the ranks of those who open up their wallets and dump all their money (credit cards) into a giant container of water in the back yard. If I could figure out how to combine hydrogen and oxygen to create the 13,000 gallons of water we need to fill it I would be thrilled. Unfortunately, since I don't want to do anything that could result in say....blowing up the planet.....I'll just pay the ridiculous amount of money it costs to get two tankers of water delivered ($165 / trip). And, then I'm going to pray for a few hot, sticky scorcher days since the cost to hook up the propane heater with actual propane gas is $699.00 (that's with The Husband running the lines himself). Yes. I'm talking American currency. Not pesos. We'll be waiting to hook up that puppy until April. About the same time the tax return comes rolling in. See...and you thought I didn't think this through and have a plan! Ha!

I'm either completely out of mind or I have the faith to move mountains (maybe a mixture of both??). Or perhaps, the faith to move 48 inches of soil on my hill to accomodate my new 24 foot pool and deck.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is That A Light at the End of the Tunnel I See?

After weeks of sending out resumes and hearing nothing in return. After weeks of second guessing myself. After weeks of wondering if I'll be the new "fry guy" at McDonald's.

We have some possibilities, good possibilities on the horizon. The best looking one so far didn't come from anything other then another PTO mom who said she would love to have me come work with her for a university hospital in the "sweetest place on earth". I would be a research coordinator, perfect hours (9-3), excellent pay, amazing benefits. The drawback is that interviews are still a month out (she had the inside scoop) and it is not a guaranteed offer. The good news is that she's pretty high up on the food chain and I have her fooled into thinking I'm a creative, energetic go-getter (smoke and mirrors, people....smoke and mirrors). Did I mention that my family and I would receive 75% off college tuition at this university? My girls are going to look fabulous in navy and white! Woo-hoo!

Option #2 is a phone interview with a company that is (I'm not exaggerating) a minute's drive from our house. So, that makes it a 2-minute drive from school. I picture myself taking my lunch breaks to help at Kid Writing and stopping by for school lunches and class parties. It is for an admin assistant position so I have no idea what it pays and what the hours are. I hope to find out more in the interview. Close proximity is making this a front runner.

I already had to turn down an offer to interview for an aide position at our high school and a managing partnership position in Subway Restaurants because the hours were either too early or too many! And, since I wasn't willing to work nights and weekends, Hershey never called for a second interview in their catering and sales department. I'm being very specific in my prayers for this en devour and I'm not going to drop my standards even though it sounded like a cool job.

I'm also fairly certain I'll be contacted for an interview for two other event planning / administrative positions that I may enjoy having that I just sent in resumes for. But, they are not as conveniently located so I'm not going to put many eggs in those 2 baskets.

I'll keep the updates coming....I just may be gainfully employed and home when the bus pulls up after all!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

You Know Summer is Almost Over When....

  • My kitchen counter is starting to look like a Farmer's Market with all the produce my garden is producing on a daily basis. I could tell you 126 ways to eat a cucumber.
  • There are shopping bags lining my hallway with Back-to-School clothes that cannot be put away until we get rid of the clothes/shoe that no longer fit.
  • I keep studying my mangy ankle bracelet and wonder if I'll break tradition and cut it off before Labor Day (especially if I actually get a job interview anytime in the near future).
  • I'm beginning to pay attention to apple prices.
  • I'm much nicer to my kids so the memory they have of me when they go back to school is sort of a cooler, hipper version of June Cleaver.
  • We've stopped going to the pool. That's just so "July".
  • I go to the mall every other day.....vowing to get just ONE more thing and that's it.
  • I'm clipping coupons for individually packaged applesauce, crackers and juice boxes.
  • I stocked up yesterday on four boxes of cereal, frozen waffles, and breakfast sandwiches.
  • We wolf down dinner to get to soccer practice on time.
  • I lay in bed each morning reminding myself of how many days I have left of sleeping past 6:00 am.
How do you know summer is winding down at your house?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Would You Like a Little Shaving Cream with that Revelation?

I may have to start a regular column called "Deep Spiritual Thoughts in the Shower" because that's where God and I do some pretty good talking. Or, I actually shut up and listen. Why do you suppose that is? Well, I can ponder that later. Here was today's question He asked (and, isn't He so funny when He asks us questions because He already knows the right answer!):

What makes you (as in Christians) any different then the rest of the world?

Now, I'm pretty certain He wasn't referring to the fact that we go to heaven when we die because that's a given. No, I was starting to think that there is more to just being a really nice person who makes a lasagna for a sick teacher kind of living. At what point after loving on people do I talk about the "J-word"?


Perhaps it was today when I shocked the PTO Treasurer (and maybe even my co-president) with the topic of Halloween....because you know with it being August and all we have to already deal with Halloween. Right? RIGHT??!!!

Okay. She started to talk about how she could not understand why people would have a problem with Halloween. Christmas, yes...for religious reasons, but there is NOTHING wrong with Halloween. Until I jumped in and said that I write letters to my kid's teachers, the librarian, the art teacher, music teacher, principle, counselor, the custodian and school nurse (ok, not really the last three) about what is acceptable for my kids to participate in. BIG NO-NO to witches and ghosts. And, then I got it. The Look. Did I have an opportunity to share why I don't like these things? No, because I allowed The Look to silence me, along with her comment about how I should be glad our kids aren't in the same class (amen, Sister). All the while my co-president looked like she wanted to crawl under a rock to escape this conversation and quite, frankly I was hoping there was room under the rock for me, too.

Happy Week-Before-School-Starts To Me!

But, God asked me in the shower what makes us (as in me) different. Well, I realized I know what makes me different, but how often do I give God the credit for my ideas, energy and connections? Every once in awhile....maybe....if it isn't around that one intimidating woman in PTO (not the treasurer) or the lady that looks stunning in her black and white outfits, etc..... Or, do I more often find myself caught up in the drama and the gossip and the complaining (Oh Lord, forgive me!)? Then, I'm really no different, right? That needs to change.

I'm glad for that quiet time in the shower so that I can be His captivated audience. There is no limit to where He'll meet us for a little one-on-one!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Two Weeks and Counting

School begins two weeks from today and I am trying to make the best of it. In two weeks someone else will be influencing my kids from the hours of 8ish to 3ish. I have got to trust that God has heard my prayers to put them with teachers and classmates that will build their integrity and draw them closer to Him. #2's assigned teacher was new this year and we knew very little (basically nothing) about her. I prayed that she was a good match and then another letter came Saturday saying she had resigned and there is a new, new teacher.


Odd, wouldn't you say? I know so many people would argue it unrelated, but God does work all things out for the GOOD of those who love Him. Maybe that first teacher is a great teacher....we'll just never know.

I can't say I'm worried for one more then the other of my kids. And, when I say worried, I mean concerned enough to pray about it. I will admit that having a teenager (and, trust me 12 is the new 14) has shaken me up a bit. #1 has a great foundation, but it is just so crazy the amount of distraction and peer pressure to act a certain way. Even the strongest kids can get sucked in and I don't ever want to be one of those moms in denial about what is happening in their kid's lives. I want to have access to her heart so that as she struggles there is open communication. That was much easier to do a few years ago. When I was still cool.

#2 and #3 are facing the uncertainties of new teachers and new classmates. #3's teacher actually had breast cancer last year and #3 wanted to know why she "cut her hair like a boy's". After I explained about the cancer and reassured her she couldn't "catch" cancer from her teacher she seemed a little better. She does keep asking to be home schooled, but I have encouraged her this is what is best (right, God? it is, right??). #2 is my sensitive one who has a hard time making friends her age. Most of her friends are older and I haven't been able to really figure that one out, yet. She hasn't talked much about school so I get the feeling she isn't really anticipating it!

In all these issues I know I need to dig in and hold fast to faith in God. He knows the number of hairs on their heads and He knows their strengths and weaknesses even better then I do! I want to be sure that our last 2 weeks of summer vacation leave us closer then ever before so that when we are all back in the trenches, home is our safe place. Most importantly, I want them to keep God first, even at school.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy Birthday #2!

My sweet little #2 turned nine yesterday. We've been celebrating for about a week and I'll post pictures of all the revelry as soon as I can figure out how to get them off of the camera we borrowed due to the unfortunate incident of me being pushed in the pool with mine at camp.

I can tell you we already:
  • had a surprise party at the mall with a scavenger hunt, followed by a trip to the pool with her friends
  • went to Hersheypark as a family
  • ate at Olive Garden and picked up a friend for a sleepover on her actual birthday

I can tell you to finish up her birthday week celebration we will be:
  • going on a Mommy / Daughter shopping spree with her birthday money and gift cards (just in time for back to school, although spending $50 in Claire's gift cards will be interesting!)
  • having some family over for her "at home family party" complete with all her favorite foods - deviled eggs, fried queso cheese and macaroni n cheese, chocolate chip cookie cake
Yes, we like to drag our birthdays out around here and make them last! :-) We really don't buy the kids a lot of gifts, just a special outfit and one other small thing because I like investing in memorable parties that they talk about for years to come.

As for my middle daughter turning! She is every bit the blossoming preteen, but extremely mellow and easy going. The only time you don't want to mess with #2 is when she is tired. That is scary. Other than that, she is laid back and fun; although she loves attention in the form of "Hey, look at this!". She is such a little ray of sunshine in our family!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lesson #4 - Laughter is Like Medicine for the Soul

This is sort of a series on my last week at camp, so please start at the beginning here.

I'm ending my camp series with some pictures that remind me of some of the many things we laughed over at camp. Below is a picture of the adult dinner and we were the loudest table there! We LOVE the couples that we were with and laughed and snorted through our entire dinner! Do you like my pretty blue dress in this picture?

Now, does my pretty blue dress look as nice on The Husband??!! He and one of the friends in the above picture decided to "crash" the Ladies Tea because they heard the food was good. We kicked them and their Dollar Store hair outta there!

The picture below was the night that kids were supposed to dress as their parents and parents like their kids. We figured The Husband already showed up in drag so he shouldn't throw on one of my bathing suits and pretend to be #3! It's okay though....#2 is a FSU fan just like her daddy, so he wore his own shirt! Poor brainwashed little #2......she does look really cute in his ATV shirt though!
By the time we left camp we were completely refreshed and I had almost lost my entire voice from all the carrying on! We felt so blessed and the countdown has begun for next year!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lesson #3 - Don't Take Life (and Offenses) so Seriously

This is sort of a series on my last week at camp, so please start at the beginning here.

I must confess I'd be posting much quicker if not for the unfortunate incident that occurred our first full day of camp. I was leaning over the edge of the pool taking a picture of The Husband and #1 when a very sweet and ummmm......mischievous 6-year old boy pushed me into the pool. With my digital camera. As I realized what was happening I tried to throw it and it hit the side of the pool and plopped in. Lesson #1 in trying to brush it off and not let it ruin my day.

Soooooo, I bought disposable cameras and lamented that I have become quite spoiled with the instant gratification that the good ole digital camera provides. But, it was better then nothing and now I am slowly posting pictures off of a disk which the CVS people burned my pictures onto UPSIDE DOWN. Ha. Ha. Isn't that a hoot?

But, this was a week filled with a lot of laughter (more pictures later to demonstrate that). We did have some drama towards the end with another girl that had started to give #1 a hard time by calling her a big mouth and bossy, among other things I don't even want to get into . When I stepped in to tell all the kids involved to be nice to one another and be an encouragement, (after all, we're at church camp, right?) this girl's mom later told me that #1 asked for it because #1 had told the kids not to run through the hallways knocking on people's doors at 11:30 pm and that was none of her business to tell them what they could or could not do. The girls worked it all out, but this mother thought she should corner #1 in the playroom and yelled at her about her bad attitude (which blindsided #1, and scared her while another mom saw what was happening and came over to break it up). By the grace of God I managed to say nothing to her when I found out and just meditated on the scripture "Blessed are the peacemakers". My dear Papa Bear Husband was furious and firmly told this mom to never address our daughter again. Well, after a day of letting it all get to us The Husband and I didn't want to leave things on a bad note so he apologized to this woman for speaking so harshly to her. I really had allowed this situation to suck the joy right out of me. It was then I realized that the devil's main mission is to destroy, rob and kill and I had a choice to let him do that to my joy and peace. I gave up my "right" to give this lady a piece of my mind and made the choice to forgive and teach #1 that hurt people hurt people. Does it still twist a knot in my stomach when I think about it? Yup. But, I don't want to blow it even more out of proportion and continue to let this offense fester inside me.

Letting go was just as hard as climbing that 40-foot rock. It really was. I felt this battle inside of me every time I saw this woman. I felt like I had left #1 unprotected until the Lord reminded me that He was with her and another mom came to her defense. While I can't shield her from all the hurts in the world, God can use those times to strengthen her and trust Him.

I share that story with you because my thoughts were much more wicked then what I expressed out loud at the time. It was during one particularly vicious self-talk that I remembered one of the quotes from Amy Carmichael that the camp pastor had given us. She describes someone "kicking over your bucket". If there is pure water in the bucket, pure water will come out. Likewise with dirty water. The person who kicks over the bucket merely reveals what's in the bucket all along.


I may not have revealed much of my dirty water to everyone else, but Jesus and I knew it was there. I am hoping that with His grace and strength the next time my bucket is kicked over my thought process will be different. And, my water will be pure.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lesson #2 - We Don't "Have to" Serve; We "Get to" Serve

This is sort of a series on my last week at camp, so please start at the beginning here.

Okay, technically I stole this lesson from the staff at our camp. They are trained to think of serving in this way and the way these young men and women cheerfully served us astounds me. They are tireless and creative. Enthusiastic and kind. Besides The Husband, they were my biggest cheerleaders when I wasn't sure I'd be able to canoe through the rapids or climb back up that rock. They served in other ways, too. They would take my kids to the pool or the lake or get them up for breakfast while we were hiking. They were always willing to lend a hand and it blessed me tremendously.

I started thinking that since the word "blessed" really means "multiply" I should take the blessings they showered on me and multiply that in my own life with the people I encounter. I want to be quick to be an encouragement and offer the love of Christ. Service without expecting anything in return. That's revolutionary. It changes people's lives. And, I'm sure that attitude is pleasing to God.

I know they may not even realize how valued I felt when they served me and encouraged me this week. It was like water in a desert. And, it made me want to "rain" all over others in the same way!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lesson #1 - We Are "Invited"

This is sort of a series on my last week at camp, so please start at the beginning here.

For the past 5 years we have gone to a family Christian camp in Halifax. It has become a family reunion of sorts and I leave spiritually refreshed and physically exhausted. In previous years we had gone to camp there had been a tremendous amount of stress in our lives, selling a restaurant, opening a restaurant, closing down a failed restaurant, working a job we couldn't survive on and moving. This year we have no major transitions happening other then my anxiety over going back to work in the fall. And, until I got to camp I didn't realize how much I have been worrying about it and thinking through a hundred different scenarios. My mama's heart keeps getting in the way of wanting to go back to work full-time. I was filled with a lot of conflict and confusion. I want to be here when they get home from school to hear about their daily triumphs and tough times. That's the way it has always been and I don't think any of us are looking forward to changing this. Plus, those random days off from school for in-service and holidays are like mini-celebrations in our family. I don't want to have to miss them due to work.

Now, God knew what I needed. I needed to have a bit of an attitude adjustment. It was time to trust Him. I had forgotten that those desires and dreams I have for a "job" were placed in me by my Creator. He designed me and rather then merely place a "call" on my life, He places an "invitation". It is up to me to accept His invitation to join Him in what He's doing. That doesn't mean I miss out on the storms in life, but I have to trust that He is there to calm them when they pass through.

So, He invited me to "join" Him in accomplishing some physical challenges that I am nearly in shock that I actually completed. When I called on Him for help, He answered. He reminded me over and over that I can overcome obstacles when I trust in Him. Even the things that appear too difficult like rock climbing. Or, like the difficult task of finding a job I enjoy that gets me home to be waiting in the driveway when the school bus pulls up.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Overcome is an Understatement


1. To defeat (another) in competition or conflict; conquer.
2. To prevail over; surmount
3. To overpower, as with emotion; affect deeply.

To surmount opposition; be victorious.

This past week here was a living object lesson for me. I plan to post lots of pictures and share some details of all the fun, along with the amazing things the Lord taught me this week. I allowed Him to put me in challenging situations in the physical so He could teach me in the spiritual. A high ropes course 35 feet above the forest, an early morning canoe trip, hiking up a rocky mountain, repelling down a 40-foot rock, then climbing back up....all things that are outside of my normal comfort zone. And, yet, when I was ready to give up and uttered the words "I can't", He said "You can". He brought some amazing people into my life to cheer me on through all this and their encouragement has inspired me to help others to be overcomers, too.

More to come when I can get my pictures on a disk to share......and, in case you're wondering that isn't me in the picture, but it is the same wall I climbed to ring the bell on top. That was the first time #2 and I ever finished the climb. Sweet victory. Thank you, Jesus.