Sunday, August 31, 2008

Skipping Out on Church

Today I skipped out after Sunday School. I hate calling it Sunday School, don't know exactly why, just do. Anyway, my Chinese kiddos were gone on their annual church retreat so I didn't have that normal responsibility.

I came home. I needed quiet. There hasn't been a lot of quiet in the last couple of days or week. In fact, I think the only time I experienced quiet was when I put my earplugs in and went to sleep. But, my brain isn't quiet when I sleep. Lots of crazy, bizarre dreams that don't let me really rest.

So, I came home to a quiet house and picked up my Bible. It opened to Isaiah 61 and I started reading. Now, I thought I was in Psalms so I was a little confused when I picked up another translation and the passages really didn't match. But, I figured it out pretty quickly. I'm smart that way... sometimes.

I love how everything that God puts in my life blends together to teach me, calm me, lift me up.
Sometimes it is gaining the knowledge that I'm not crazy in how I feel about a certain topic, that what the Holy Spirit has been moving and stirring in my heart is the truth.

This morning this is what jumped out to me as something I need to work diligently on cultivating in my life. The Nancy Sapp Purdy paraphrase:

Bring messages of joy instead of news of doom.
Have a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

My prayer is that I be a messenger of joy. I've got people in my extended family that love to be the bearers of bad news. It just pours out of them. Some of them seem to feel it is their duty to make sure everyone knows the news of doom.

It is very easy for me to have a languid spirit. My prayer is that I work to develop a continuous praising heart.

Sometimes skipping out on church is a good thing. In the quiet I can focus. My mother would be having a cow right now if she knew. Skipping Sunday School and church any time the doors are open leads right to hell. But, it is okay to sleep in church, because you have made the effort to be in the building with the other saints. Okay, I'll stop now. I'm slipping away from being a messenger of joy.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Variety of Influence

Last evening as I walked into the funeral home, a place I have come to loathe, I couldn't help but notice the variety of people that were standing outside talking and comforting each other. I grew up in a small town where most everyone looked alike and dressed alike. But that is not what I witnessed last night and it made me happy. There were cowboys, rockers, hip-hoppers, punks, and clean cut kids. To me it spoke of Wade's influence and his family's influence.

Today at the funeral it was the same way. The church was packed beyond capacity. Again, the variety of people was obvious. I know there were some in the church and in town that were having a hard time with some in attendance. But, I wish I could have had a conversation with some of them, especially the guy with Bible verses tattooed on his head. I would love to hear his story.

When I got the horrifying news of Wade's death, all I could think of was that Tracy had lost his son, Doyle and Diane had lost their grandson, Tim and Cindy had lost their nephew and all right on the heels of Phyllis' death. It was almost paralyzing to think about their loss. But, it wasn't until during the service that I even thought about Wade being the same age as my Aaron. And that almost took me under. I didn't and wouldn't and won't let my mind go there. It would do no good.

So, how do I end a blog like this? I don't know. I hope I never have to write another one like this.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm In Love

A couple of years ago my friend, Sherri, told me about Coventry and how amazing it is. I was intrigued, but not at a place where I could check it out.

A couple of weeks ago she called to tell me they were in need of volunteers and thought I would be a good fit. So, I made an appointment with Darlene for Tuesday and checked the place out while they checked me out.

I walked in and was immediately blown away by the atmosphere. Peace and love are palatable. Sherri said people say "God lives here." I believe it. The physical space is beautiful, soothing, and fun. I immediately relaxed physically and mentally. The Holy Spirit's presence engulfs Coventry. All that happened in a matter of seconds. No one had even had a chance to speak to me. People started speaking and it just got better. I drove away saying, "I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love."

Now, my dear couple of readers, I will try to explain Coventry. 'Cause I passed inspection and they're letting me volunteer! I feel so honored. Really, this place will blow your mind! It has mine.

Coventry's vision is to create a beautiful, Christ-centered community where adults with special needs can experience life to the fullest as long as they live.

Coventry's mission is to make a difference in the lives of adults with functional disabilities by providing life enrichment opportunities and encouraging them to use their God-given abilities as they work, learn and socialize in a safe and cheerful environment.

Coventry is a day program that provides life enrichment opportunities for adults with special needs. Activities and therapies are offered to promote and assist them in continuing to learn and stay active intellectually, mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally. We believe that adults with disabilities are capable of living a very full, active and productive life when provided with appropriate and consistent positive reinforcement and opportunity.

And, boy, do they pull it off! Love and respect oozes everywhere. There is laughter and learning all day.

Yesterday was my first day. Wow!

My new friend is Gretta. She is a lovely little lady five years my junior. Her frame is tiny. Jeffrey calls her "Little Angel" and is always checking to make sure she is doing okay. Even though she doesn't speak (yet), everyone includes her in their conversations. It is beautiful to watch. They make sure her legs are straight so the blood can flow properly and make her straighten them even when she doesn't want to, because they know it is best for her health. She is their princess, but they don't spoil her.

I get to help her through the day. Yesterday we glazed four star ornaments. Her body wants to be in a tight little ball, so she works hard on stretching out her limbs and hands. I assist her with hand over hand. We also made thirteen angel ornaments. It was exciting! She was able to reach out and grasp the mallet three times by herself! Her strength isn't where she can pound on the cookie cutter by herself (yet), but she tries. She was so happy about her thirteen angels. While we rested between each angel, Gretta would reach for my hand and tuck it in close to her body, then lean her elbow on my shoulder and gaze into my eyes. They said she was testing me to see if she could trust me. I think I passed. I would be heartbroken if I didn't.

The participants at Coventry love each other so much. They are kind and respectful to each other and have a deep interest in how everyone is doing. It forced me to be pro-actively polite. There is no doubt I'm going to be learning a lot from this remarkable group of people.

I told Darlene at the end of the day that I felt as if I had been in therapy. Really good, spirit lifting, Christ centered therapy. I'm so excited about next week. Can't wait!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Stinkin' Genius

Today Haley calls God a stinkin' genius and admits she carried off my copy of Crazy Love. Okay, she doesn't admit it's my copy, but it is.

Read fast Dear. I want it back.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Tonight, on the way to church, I was in the middle of telling Phil the exciting news about our friends' adoption travel date when my phone rang.

It was my mother.

With very bad news.

The son, the grandson, of dear friends was killed this afternoon on his way back to Mabank from Athens.

We are all still reeling from Phyllis' death. This family was very close to Phyllis.

My head and heart are in shock. News from opposite ends of the spectrum in just a few hours.

Oh Happy Day!

I just received an exciting phone call from one of my dear friends. They got their travel date for Russia! YES! It has been a two year wait. An up and down, twisty, turny, spinning roller coaster on steroids wait.

But the wait is now over! And soon, very soon, my friends will travel to Russia to meet their new daughters! And are we excited? Heck Yeah! I'm so excited I can't see straight!

Oh Happy Day!

Oh, Man - This Made Me Laugh

Eyebrows Battle

For the past couple of months my face has decided it needs a unibrow. And I'm sick of it. I've never had eyebrow problems in the past. My eyebrow hairs have stayed where they are suppose to be for the most part. It has taken very little plucking and maintaining on my part over the years. But, all of a sudden my eyebrows have decided that they need to be thick and hairy and unified. What is with this?! I am battling hairs growing where they have never grown before. What makes a hair suddenly decide to grow in an unchartered area? Did it decide it was too crowded and needed more space?

So, this is my demand:
I mean, really, just cut it out. Stay in your designated hair growing spot and do your job. No more venturing out. Stay put. If you feel the need for more space. Ignore it! I do not have time to mess with you.


Through Anne Jackson's blog I found a new blog today. Check it out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are Your Pantry Shelves Stocked With Staples?

Please read this blog by Regina Hopewell. I also received a letter today from Compassion about the Global Food Crisis and how it is impacting the country of the children my family sponsors.

Money is so tight for us now, but there has to be something I can give up so that I can give and a child can live.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My French Chicks Leave Tomorrow...

and I don't want them to go. I'm wondering if their parents would care if we just didn't manage to get them on the plane.

We went out for our last meal together. It was hamburgers and fries at Mooyah. Can't get more American than that. You can get more Texan, but not more American. We did Tejano's on Thursday night. Phil, Haley and Clay took them to Health Camp in Waco on Saturday night. I don't know why I've started discussing eating establishments. Probably because I don't want to think about how much I'm going to miss them.

These girls have been amazing. They have jumped into the middle of our crazy family and just held on tight for the ride. We have drug them here and there and they've never fussed or complained. They were even game to put on hair nets and gloves to serve meals at the Union Gospel Mission. I know many teenagers that would have refused.

We have laughed our heads off at Callie trying to teach them English. Their English is much better than hers, so we have to run interference and explain that they are saying it correctly and she is wrong. She even tries to correct their French. Now, that is a hoot. We have to explain to her that they are French and they know how to pronounce French words.

All the kids have different relationships with them and it has been a lot of fun to watch. Callie has been their "American Tour Guide" which was very confusing at times. Clay has been their pesky little brother that refuses to smile for pictures. Corinn has been their "just chill friend" introducing them to her friends and her world. Haley was their "Adventure Guide" which is scary due to the fact that Haley is directionally challenged. Aaron has been their obnoxious big brother that continuously makes them laugh.

Starbucks sales will go down after tomorrow. These girls have made their stock go up. The barista at our Kroger is going to miss them. She knew their regular orders.

I can't think about their leaving anymore. I know tomorrow the tears will come at a steady pace.

These girls have been a blessing.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cars - For Lack of a Better Title

My dream car is actually a 1940 or 50 Chevy Truck. Don't care what color or condition as long as it runs well enough to not leave me stranded. I won't ever have one, but like I said, it's my dream car.

I also think convertibles are great. During the spring in Iowa all the old convertibles come out of storage and cruise around town. They are so much fun to see. What really makes me drool is a retractable hard top convertible. The fabric tops give me a headache with all the noise they make. But a retractable hard top? Wow! I won't ever have a convertible though. They don't get good enough gas mileage for them to be a practical choice. Plus there is this thing called "sticker shock" that makes them impractical. Do I really need a convertible?

Just give me a car that runs well enough to not leave me stranded. For some reason I don't like being stranded. I have found that I like cup holders. So, cup holders and ability to run are important to me in a car. In Texas light color cars can be nice. Sometimes, in Texas, even light colored interiors can get too hot to handle as I discovered today. I didn't know you could fry your hands on a tan steering wheel. Since Texas heat can make any color miserable, maybe color doesn't really matter.

What I think would be really cool, besides an old Chevy Truck, is a car covered in Pez dispensers.
Don't ask my why. I don't have an answer. That picture just keeps running through my mind.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Does Your Neighborhood Park Look Like?

What is it like when you stroll through your neighborhood? Does the smell of the sewer waft through your nose? Do you have guards going before you to make sure you are safe?

Help change a life. Give a child the hope they need.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tears of Joy

Today I looked in my rearview mirror to see a police officer right on my tail with lights blazing. My French Chicks were in the car with me so I was trying to be brave and getting ready to suck up whatever he was going to throw at me. I calmly turned on my blinker and prepared to pull into a church parking lot. When I pulled into the turn lane HE PASSED ME!

I burst into tears from pure relief.

I'm 45 today...I think

I have trouble keeping up with how old I am. It might have something to with all the dead brain cells from delivering 4 children. And I'm pretty sure some got killed during the adoption process of Callie. But, anyway, I'm pretty sure I'm 45 this time around.

Twenty years ago we were living in the adorable little town of Norwalk, Iowa. Haley had arrived three days before. I was three years into what turned out to be twelve miserable years of depression. I finally got help. Now the depression rears it head and slaps me down about every five years or so. Thankfully, now I don't mess around about getting help to climb back up.

The last twenty years have been filled with lots of good stuff. My husband has continued to love me. Most of the time I'm not too lovable. We've added four wonderful, crazy, obnoxious children to our family. I've been to China three times for a total of 9 weeks, Morocco for two weeks and the South of France one week (not nearly long enough). I've volunteered for some amazing organizations, gone on some moving mission trips and been paid to do some really fun things.

The last twenty years has been filled with a lot of crap too. As I've already said, depression kept me down for a good bit of time. I bought into the stupid American dream. I bought into the Plano dream even though in the back of my head I always knew it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I've made choices for which my family will pay a long, long, time. I waited too many years to sponsor children from Compassion International. My priorities have been twisted and bent.

I don't know if I have twenty more years. If I take after my grandmothers, I do. If I take after my grandfathers, not so much. My prayer is that I do better with whatever I have left.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is Chapstique Married?

Apparently that question has been on the minds of a few people lately. Or at least during the dates of July 20th through August 19th. I don't check my Google Analytics very often, but I was very shocked to see that people have found my blog by asking that question and when they found my blog they stayed awhile. Just makes me wonder. I wouldn't think I would have anything interesting to say for a person wondering if Chap Stique is married or not.

Now I will answer the question. Yes he is. Very happily. To a very beautiful, very sweet, very intelligent young woman.

Now you know.

What Does Your Grocery Store Look Like?

Does it look like this?

Compassion International Dominican Republic Festival Video 2 from Shaun Groves on Vimeo.

Can you watch this without your heart breaking? Will this video run through your head during your next trip to the grocery store or when you are reaching for a bag of sugar?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If your world is small...

it makes it easier to protect your heart.

There's a Guy I Know...

who is an amazing photographer and beard grower. He also has a heart for Haiti and Compassion International. Read his blog about both here.

If You Have Ears to Hear and a Heart That Beats...

check out this new video from Shaun Groves' visit to The Dominican Republic with Compassion International.

The work Compassion International does in The Dominican Republic is special to me because our family sponsors two beautiful children there.

My Oldest is Twenty

My oldest daughter turned twenty yesterday morning at 7:38 a.m. Her birth was easy. I wish her brothers had followed in her footsteps in that area. She has turned out to be a remarkable young woman. She can blow spit bubbles off of her tongue. I know! It is very impressive. The French Chicks were laughing hysterically at her talent as I tried to dodge the bubbles while watching Detroit beat the Rangers from the mile high seats at The Ranger Stadium in Arlington. According to Haley I'm the only one that finds her talent disgusting.

Since I am now old enough to have a twenty year old I am tired and going to bed, I mean, sleep. I'm already in bed. Having a twenty year old does that to a person.

Monday, August 18, 2008

She might have met the President BUT we got the awesome thank you note!

While my friends, Kim and David, were hobnobbing with the 41st and the 43rd Presidents and First Ladies at a wedding, we (or mainly Phil) were keeping one of their kids. Kids weren't invited to the highly orchestrated wedding that included former and acting Presidents as guests. Imagine that.

Yes, Kim got to share her umbrella with #43, but we got the best part of the deal, 'cause we got this awesome thank you note. I bet she doesn't get an awesome thank you note.

Dear: Misster and Misses Perdie anb Clay
thancue for leting me play vidieo-gamse. My faveret one is marieo tinise. (An adorable hand drawn illustration went here) thancue for ceaping me safe, let-ing me slep in clase room. and giving me food.
FROME: mark
I mean, really, does it get any cuter than that? And it is proof that if we keep your kids we will give them food.

Bloopers are funnier in person

This morning Rance was tripping all over his tongue while taping promos. Hopefully it didn't have anything to do with the stitches across the back of his head. I asked if he had a concussion and one of the camera guys thought that might be the case too. But, he finally made it through them. For Every Day will be showcased on The Buzz sometime in mid-September. Yea!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Family Night at the homeless shelter

Our family has started volunteering at the Union Gospel Mission once a month and tonight was our night. I've been looking forward to it all month. On one hand, it is a great bummer that there even has to be a Union Gospel Mission, but on the other, it is a great honor to be able to volunteer there. My friend, Susie, has been doing this for many years. The men love her and she loves them. Tonight she shared her testimony about how she used to despise homeless people and how God took her prideful heart and turned it into a heart full of love for the homeless. I've heard her tell that story many times. I've edited it in written form. I'm well acquainted with her story and for some reason tonight it moved me to tears. She also showed a small video of the Operation Care - Philippines project that ministered to 2,000 homeless children on July 5th. The homeless men of the Union Gospel Mission were crying as they watched the video and when she asked them to please pray for the children, a loud AMEN went up. These homeless men are praying for the homeless children of the Philippines. Amazing!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Life lately and in the future

Last week, Monday through Thursday, was spent on a road trip with teenagers. Had a great time, especially at night when we were all asleep. I kid. It was a good time. Even when we had to move hotel rooms in the middle of the night due to a stopped up toilet. The girls were real troopers.

Thursday afternoon, after a fun lunch at Houston's Hard Rock, the French Chicks, Corinn, and I peeled off from the group and headed to Midland. Phil was kind enough to drive down a car and take my place in the middle school van. He didn't even use ear plugs!

We arrived in Midland around 3:30 a.m. due to the lovely traffic in Houston. Not fun, not fun. But, the hospitality tent at Rock The Desert was a blast. Everyone on that team is A+ and all the artists were very sweet. Not a snob or prima donna in the bunch. There was a difficult spouse, but their demands were overruled by the humble artist and peace reigned.

Last night the French Chicks and I went to a television taping for New York Summer, formerly known as Radial Angel. We were out with them until 1:30 a.m. Thank goodness for IHOP. We were all starving after the taping and then an acoustical set.

Tomorrow brings Hawk Nelson back to town. They were here weekend before last. The French Chicks, Corinn, and I will be running errands for them and helping Adam with merch. This will be my third weekend in a row working events with Hawk. Weird.

Callie gets picked up from camp on Saturday morning. I have a Operation Care Dallas Fundraiser meeting in the afternoon and that night is our family night at the Union Gospel Mission. Yea! I'm really excited to go back to the mission. I've been looking forward to it since last month.

My friend, Chloe, became a rock star today. She played bass for this band. YEA Chloe!

Did you know the male gymnasts use honey on their grips? YUCK!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I do not believe...

that God has called me to work with middle schoolers. They are a tad too black and white for me. And a tad too anxious to impress each other with their extreme knowledge.

I've discovered my water sport...

tubing down the Guadalupe River.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Climbing Into A Van With Middle Schoolers

Nothing will help you take your mind off sad things better than climbing into a van with middle schoolers at 6 a.m. They don’t ever let your mind go to a sad place. They keep your mind scrambled with unreal nonsense. They are keeping themselves entertained with silly games. And the music is great. Matt has a great cd collection. We’ve listened to Crowder, Passion, and Tenth Avenue North. Apparently in the other van they are having trouble finding a station they can agree on and since they are from the ipod generation they don’t have cds with them and they aren’t suppose to be listen to their ipods in the van to encourage interaction. It’s 9:30 a.m., just a couple of more hours on the road. For today.

Saying Goodbye to Phyllis

I didn’t know if I would make it through Phyllis’ funeral. I didn’t want to pack to go to Mabank. It made her death too real. If I didn’t pack, maybe it would just be a dream. If I get too still or too quiet, the pain becomes overwhelming. It helps to have a huge crazy extended family. We all loved Phyllis. In between all the tears was a lot of laughter. My dad and her son-in-law did a great job at the service. It was hard on both of them. Phyllis and my dad had a great connection. They liked to go riding together. Dad on one of his mules. Phyllis on whatever Dad stuck her on. Sometimes his choice for her steed didn’t go so well. She hit me at my shoulder and I’m 5’4”. She had short little legs. When she was at my house before Christmas she told me about Dad putting her on one of his really big mules and she was on it for 4 hours. She was not happy with him and, of course, the way she was relating the story made me laugh till I cried. Dad told his version of what happened at the funeral. It was pretty funny too, because he had totally not thought about how uncomfortable Phyllis would be on that wide animal. Mike shared about how whacked he thought it was when Phyllis announced she wanted Dreama and him to help her put her tombstone in place. She had found out that she could save $250 by setting it herself. She had a lot of fun that day posing with her tombstone. No one at that time realized how quickly it would be used to mark her body’s final resting place.

We’re a crazy family. Thursday night I told Dreama, Suzette, and Donna that this was enough. “No more cousins dying.” Suzette said, “I’ve already told Pat she’s next.”

Laughter and knowing that Phyllis is happier in heaven then a pig in the perfect mud hole keeps us going.