Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I've run the full gambit of possible human emotions this week. Shocked, horrified, stunned, incredulous, weepy, strong, faithful, suspicious, angry, hopeful, certain, secure, raged, humbled. And, pretty much in that order.
Derek was "let go" from his ministry job on Sunday. Just all of a sudden... "poof". Done.
He's been working for the preacher in the after-school program to make the salary that the church couldn't afford to pay him. But, suddenly the program itsself can't pay him, and the church was offered to take up the difference. And, the church can't afford to either. We've been here three years.
So... we have two months. A generous offer.
We were just rearing up to make another wave of changes and beginnings. Starting a new phase of our program with the youth. (Summer was coming... it would have been a good time to do it!)
But, the rug has been yanked out from under us.
So... I'm human. I have emotions about it. I loved these kids, their families, this church, this work, the evangelistic effort... and I think it's fair that I should react. I'm not a heartless evangelistic machine. I hurt. I hurt for them and for us. I weep for my own children who are forming their ideas of ministry.
BUT... I praise God. Praise Him because He is faithful. He is true. We are HIS workers, HIS seravants. And, we have committed ourselves to HIM. And, He has decided to take us elsewhere. His timing is not my timing... but it's always on time.
We're looking for God's next mission for us. We can't forget the kids we've worked with. The families we've grown to love. But, we're seeking God's will.
So, we wait.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Zion lost his first tooth last night. It was overdue. He was beginning to look like a shark ... with two rows of teeth. He had four teeth where there should have only been two. One was loose the other was thinking about it. But, the adult teeth were already out in their full glory!
I decided today was the day. Prepared with kleenex and a good light, I began prepping the tooth. I had tried before and failed. I couldn't get my fingers around his little slippery, slobbery tooth, so I asked Derek to grab the needlenosed pliers and give it a try. Expecting a lot of blood, Derek also brought a teatowel. After the first two tries, I tapped in! Zion was fine, but I was freaking out! I couldn't bear the sound of metal clinking on baby bone!
So, it was my turn again. Determined, I grabbed some kleenex and began to pull and pull and pull. Zion was intrigued by the tearing sound, but was still unhurt.
What kind of barbaric practice is this? I wondered. The two front baby teeth had been wedged in by the already grown in adult teeth. Hence Zion's new nickname "Sharktooth". I had explained to Zion that though he wanted to go to the dentist to have them pulled, it would cost mama $1oo per tooth. (Past experience with other tooth-stingy child.)
More pulling and a little prayer later - the small, defiant jaw finally gave up the tooth! Zion began drooling uncontrollably. He ran around the house shrieking! He was so excited! The tooth fairy was coming just for HIM!
After the excitement wore off, he went to bed. I reminded him to place the small tooth under his pillow. And, he went to sleep.
This morning I was up early. Chit chatting with Derek, cleaning out the fridge. (Organic food goes bad fast!)
Zion's loud, nervous call pulled me out of the fridge.
"MOM! DAD!" He sounded terrified. I thought he'd had a nightmare. "There's a REAL lizard in my bed!"
Definitely a nightmare.
I ran to his room and he was sat up in it... holding his little tooth. (DOH!) His eyes were fixed on the very tiny brown lizard that sat square under where his pillow had been.
"Uh, DEREK! Would you get this for me?" I stayed with Zion. The lizard sat perfectly still. The three of us looked at eachother nervously.
Derek sauntered in John Wayne style. Cool as a cat. He fixed his eyes on the lizard, casually picked up DeVon's shoe and took aim.
"WAIT!" "Don't hit the lizard with the shoe!" I stepped between the little creature and the over-armed man. Derek looked at me puzzled... then annoyed.
I had imagined lizard guts splattering the wall and my very impressionable son.
I picked up a dirty t-shirt off of the floor and threw it over the lizard. Scooped it all up at once and promptly walked out back. Did I feel the lizard moving? Ew. Stop it!
I let the lizard out on the terrace out back. Gently, quietly... then I stepped away. I hoped the neighbors hadn't heard any of the commotion!
I headed back to the apartment. There were three others on our level.
My head was still in the drama when I turned the knob and pushed the door open. A bearded man stood in the dark grinning. It was my neighbor! He was dressed and ready for work.
What is HE doing here? I wondered - then snapped out of it.
I had walked into my neighbor's apartment! I could have died!
I apologized profusely and began to explain something about letting the lizard out... I'm sure it all made sense!
I moved down one door and opened it. The familiar smell of coffee welcomed me.
I sat on the couch laughing and explained to the kids what was so funny.
My life is funny. Burned socks in the microwave and lizards under the pillow and early morning rendez-vous with the neighbors... I thought I wanted a normal life... but this one's cool!

Monday, April 17, 2006

What's your list of "must do before I die"? I read an article today by the guy who hosts "The Amazing Race".
In it, he suggests that we write down those things that we would love to do - yet might never do if we don't absolutely insist on it. Those things that tap into our "Wild Gene". Not crazy, might lose our life or family over it kinda stuff... but things that you want to do, places you want to go, memories you want to rekindle, kindnesses you want to share. Those kinds of things.
So... I'll write my list here:
(The aforementioned list may change at any time for any reason.)
1. I want to backpack in Europe, Tuscany and the Outback.
2. I want to be the Chief Creative Officer of a T.V. show or magazine.
3. I want my kids to graduate with exceptional skills and experience under their belts.
4. I want to build a cabin in Canada and use it to host missionaries on furlough.
5. I want to buy my childhood home and make it into a bed and breakfast.
6. I want to become a skilled artist in various mediums including watercolour, photography and acrylics.
7. I want to teach at my old highschool.
8. I want to finish my degree.
9. I want to be the "sane, nice, ACTUAL" christian on a reality TV show.
10. I want to write a children's book about my experiences growing up.

That concludes my list for today.
What's on your list?


Thursday, April 13, 2006

The sock thing...
Per my friend's advice, I filled an athletic sock with salt, tied it off and nuked it in the microwave for a minute (she recommended as many as two minutes). This sock when placed under my ear at night would relieve my earache and draw moisture from my liquid filled ear.
Well... I asked Derek for a sock. Only one, please. He was puzzled. I explained.
A friend arrived to watch a movie with me and after making chai and popcorn, I filled the sock. Had to explain what it was for again. I thought I'd watch the movie with the sock strapped to my head.
I set the timer on the microwave for a minute.
We chatted and filled our cups with hot refreshment waiting for the sock to warm. The appliance beeped.
I opened the microwave to find smoke pouring out! The sock was burning!
We began to laugh incredulously!
I grabbed a paper towel thinking I'd grab the scorched sock and take it out to the grill. But... the sock scorched the paper towel!
So, I hurriedly snatched an oven mitt and took the smoldering sock outside to the grill where it lay and smoldered for a while longer.
By this time the kids were up and wondering what all the ruckus was about.
I explained that I filled a sock with salt and placed it in the microwave for my earache, but it caught fire. Their puzzled looks told me that they weren't getting it.
My dining room filled with smoke and I turned on the ceiling fan and opened the front door. Would have opened the sliding glass door, but the darn sock was still smoldering!
My friend, Le Anna suggested I pour water on the hot, smoking sock. Duh!
I grabbed a blue glass and filled it with water.
The sock had fallen apart and the knot was putting out serious fumes. I choked on the smoke.
The hissing sound suprised me as I poured the water on the sock. I wondered out loud how I was going to explain to Derek why the house was smoky and why I'd need the other half of that pair of socks.
We were rolling!
The sock and paper towel sit soggy on my grill.
My ear still hurts. But... I'll be looking for that other sock tonight!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It's 1:39am. Much too late to be up. Wasn't gonna blog... but I'm here, so I'll write.

I think I may have an ear infection. After battling an intense cold for the past few days, my sinuses have cleared up, but I have serious pain in my left ear. My good ear. The one I use for the phone and the one that I lift off of the pillow to hear anything my husband has to say. Hm. This could pose a problem.

Not that I'm complaining. I've been sicker. I've seen sicker.

Okay... you know it's late when the ORECK vacuum informercial comes on. Ugh. Hit the sack already!

Did the coolest thing with my camera today. I took an artsy picture of my daughter and "photo-shopped" it onto the Mona Lisa. She loved it! This picture isn't it... I'll have to figure out how to get it on there... but this one was similar.

My oldest son asked me to put him on Mt. Rushmore. Still figuring that one out.

We are headed to San Jose sometime this weekend. Puppet shows, bible bowls, art competitions, hotel schedules, rainy beaches and more. Sorta looking foward to it. Sorta not. I'm just tired. (Could it be that it's a quarter to one in the morning?!)

The following weekend I will be coordinating a Ladies' Day event. My first time, the church's fourth. So far, so good. I'm looking forward to having this one out of the way.

Gonna hit the sack. I appear to be rambling.

Re-visited the idea of listening to country music. I'll keep you posted.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Okay, I'm sitting to a lunch made by my 10 year old daughter. Oh no... not pbj's... she made grilled marinated porkchops and salad. (Low-carb lunch!) And, if I could smell past my stuffed nasal passages, I'd know that this was a delicious meal! Meat was grilled to perfection - juicy - and from what I can tell - flavourful! The kid's a whiz in the kitchen! BTW, I was standing there the whole time. I was making a fruit tray for coffee shoppe tonight. Strawberries with cream cheese icing and grapes and Baklava.
So... I've noticed that my kids lack basic manners. Don't get me wrong.. they're polite in front of others... quite polite, in fact. But, at home, they have succomed to the older brother's potty humour. There's not nearly a day that goes by when "passing gas", butts" or "poop" isn't brought up in fashion or another. And, I've had enough! So... I've been hard on the kids. Guess it's my fault in the first place. I giggled the first time - out of shock. And it was all downhill from there. It doesn't take long for my kids to take a mile....
So... I've been working on manners from another angle. First, I started with table manners. Setting the table, proper table attire, table conversation and such. And after a few lessons we were ready to apply. We set the table nicely. Placed hot grilled tri-tip, and all the fixings on the table and prayed. After the prayer, the littlest one scrunched his nose...

"Something smells like ladybug poo!"

All the manners were out the window. I began to giggle.

"Oh yeah? What does ladybug poo smell like?" Hoping he wasn't referring to my tri-tip!

"Grass.... duh!"

The whole table erupted into laughter. It was everything we could do to hold it together and re-gain our composure. The lesson was lost for the night. We'd have to start again at breakfast.

Ladybug poo. Who's ever heard of such a thing?


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Returning from Vacation brought us two things: clarity and panic.

Derek and I (like most couples) found a lot of time to talk and pow-wow about our life's direction, purpose and meaning. We chatted about our families' strengths and weaknesses - things we needed to continue, drop or improve.

To continue: Family Night, personal evangelism, women's ministry, SIBI classes.
To drop: ineffective programs, classes, bad relationships.
To improve: keeping family time sacred, homeschool schedule and priority, diet and activity level.

Dunno why we needed a vacation to come to that kind of clarity. Perhaps life grabs our attention and tends to distract us from the things that matter to us most. We need to go on vacation more than once or twice a decade - ya think?!

So, all in all, our vacation really served a purpose. Rest and clarity. I have a clearer understanding of why God intitiated the Sabaath by resting on the seventh day, of why he created winter and sleep... rest and refreshing.

Now, about the panic. Well... life didn't pause just because I had taken a break.

I have an LTC convention in a week and a half. A classroom of kids are depending on me to create their puppet stage and props and to coach them to do their best during the various competitions (Bible Bowl, art, worship banner, etc.).

The week following we will be hosting our annual Ladies' Day - of which I am the coordinator. This year is going to be so different than years past and I need to prepare our ladies for the changes.

The week after that, Derek is hosting his first youth suprise event. Have a feeling I might be needed to prepare for it. No worries, though. By then, I will no longer have LTC convention or Ladies' Day looming over me.

So, I gotta get busy. Vacation was fantastic, hope the picture reflects that!


Monday, April 03, 2006

Yo Semite!
Woo Hoo! What a wonder-filled trip that was!
We so got soaked!
As we arrived in the park, we noticed what the kids thought was a wolf. I think it was a coyote. I'll post a pic when I get my camera back. But, the creature was sniffing out the campsites near us. The kids' eyes were as big as saucers, but they didn't freak out. The animal was only a carlength away from us to begin with and stayed within 50 yards for about 45 minutes before heading off into the woods.
The boys set up the tent and I began preparing dinner. Campfires couldn't be lit until 5pm, so I made dinner on the campstove. Three-grain pancakes and homemade fruit compote was our hearty dinner that night. Was really good!
Derek got the fire going just in time to see the sun set. We sat around it, as the rain began to drizzle. We all threw on ponchos and sang devo songs for a while. Soon, we invited our neighbor Richard to join us. He was a dentist from L.A. A Korean-American.
We enjoyed mint hot chocolate from Trader Joe's and s'mores roasted on green sticks. Man, it was good! The kids cuddled with us before we headed off to the tent.
Derek had set up the tent and it looked good. But, in a matter of an hour it began to gather water and leak from a seam... right above me! I got Derek up and asked him to throw the water off... and told him we'd either have to fix the tent, or do that every half hour. He was pooped. He opted for every half hour.
I checked on the kids, they were dry and toasty. I was relieved. But, an hour later, I was freezing despite my best efforts to stay dry. The rain pattering the tent grew faint and then stopped. Derek thought it stopped raining, but judging by my steamy breath I knew it had started snowing. Derek thought "nawwwww...." and peeked outside. Sure enough. The rain had frozen over and it was snowing. If it had snowed to start out with, I wouldn't have been wet... but it was too late. I began shivering uncontrollably, and promptly changed clothes. Derek and I looked at ways to join the kids on the dry side of the tent, but it was full. We thought about just leaving them in their toastiness, but I was worried that they'd wake and find us missing and freak out. So, the poor darlings were wakened in the middle of the night to gather their blankets, pillows and haul it all back to the van. We had abandoned ship.
So, in the dark of the night, we passed our still glowing firepit and quickly made our way to the car. Derek had started the van, warming it for us. We were so relieved to see those seats that had numbed our bottoms hours before. I got the kids all set up with dry blankets, removed wet clothing and put on dry socks. Kids had to go potty - which was easier for the boys than the girl.
After an hour or so of fidgeting we all crashed in our van. Periodically Derek would turn on the van and heat us up because he hadn't quite warmed to the core yet. I was out. Later I woke to find the city-slicker under TWO sleeping bags. He'd finally found the heat he needed. I, on the other hand needed only to rely on my Eskimo fat layer to keep me toasty!
About 6:40 AM, Derek woke me up to look up the side of the mountain. The sun was up and shining on the peak of the nearest cliff. The snow had rested in it's cracks and crevasses and the sun shone brilliantly off of it. The sky was blue and the ground all around was white. It was BEAUTIFUL! I said "Wow, babe - that's gorgeous", and promptly returned to my exhausted slumber. A few hours later, I hear the kids whisper with excitement. The van was covered in snow.
The sun had finally reached us in the valley. And, we were ready to come out of our van-turned-tent. I made my way through the snow back to the tent to find it covered in ice. The fire was out. The picnic tables were covered in ice and snow. I set up the campstove and began preparing breakfast.
As the sun started warming the morning air, the trees began their assault on me. We had set up camp under large trees thinking it would keep us sheltered from the elements. Uh... no. As the warm sun melted the ice on the trees, the trees dropped their slushballs right on top of me! (I guess I'm a precipitation magnet!) I kept cooking depsite the air assault. The kids were wise enough to figure this one out and played in the clearing. So, as I was frying breakfast potatoes, I'd be pelted with miniature snowballs. Every once in a while one would land in the frying pan and sizzle. I was passive about it. Whatever. Snow is water, right?
We ate our hearty breakfast of potatoes, onions and spam. And, wouldn't you know it, but lunch would soon need to be on it's way. So, I started that. Derek broke camp rules and started a campfire at 9:30am. He did it for the kids' sake. They were freezing. Especially Zion who couldn't keep his little hands warm for soaked gloves. I warmed water for him and had him do up the dishes. (Clever,eh?!)
The day was gorgeous. The peaks we had seen and been impressed with the day before were now covered in snow. Beautiful! I took the same pictures all over again!
We only stayed for a day, but vowed to return! This time, in the clearing.

SPAM, snow and soaked socks.

But, first I'll tell you about the trip there.

We headed out to Yosemite pretty early in the morning. (I lost the bet.) Stopped in with Derek's folks to pick up dry firewood, the hatchet and the campstove.

Yosemite, it turns out, was four hours away. Not the two hours that somebody had remembered. No worries, though. We had enough trailmix to keep us in good shape for days. We shot down the freeway and then traversed highway 120 through the foothills, watching the ominious looking clouds that we seemed to be headed straight for.

The foothills were gorgeous. Here in California we run ads for California Cheese. They feature great looking cows on lush green foothills. The ad's motto is: "Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California." This ride in the cow-dotted foothills was straight from that Ad.

The road changed from long curves to hairpin turns, and the elevation change was dramatic. Looking over the side, we all began to secretly wonder if Derek had what it took to drive this treacherous road. And, in silence we wondered if anyone would find us in that ravine.

We had passed the hairpin turns and reached the mountain pass just in time to see snow. Lots of snow.

"Yosemite is in the valley, right?" I asked Derek who had been there several summers in his childhood.


"So... we're going through snow now, but we won't be setting up camp in the snow, right?" I wondered out loud.


As we reached the peak, the snow banks were an impressive 5-6 feet high on either side of the narrow road. The clouds were thick and the snow began to fall. The tall redwoods were a real contrast to the thick blanket of snow. I wondered how fresh it was.

Derek and I exchanged nervous glances. The road began to gather slush. Any minute it would be ice and I knew we didn't have snow tires or chains. Or money for chains for that matter.

I prayed silently and turned on the camcorder and camera. "If they find us in the snow bank in the spring, at least they'll have our last messages to friends and family on videotape." I snapped out of it.

It was a quiet 24 mile trip through the pass. And, soon the snow blanket began to recede and the falling snow turned to spitting rain. We turned a corner and the most wonderful thing appeared. A huge, granite mountain! We all squealed with excitement! Turned another corner and squealed some more! Soon, Derek pulled off to the side of the road to look at a waterfall across the river. I hopped out with the kids and the camera and began to take pictures. It was truly the most beautiful landscape I'd seen since Canada!

A middle-aged couple was there from North Platte, Nebraska. Just retired. How cool is that?

We pulled up to the check in station and paid our $20 to get into the park. It was a 6 day pass. 6 days. I wondered if we'd be stuck there six days. It was getting ready to snow that night...