Friday, April 30, 2010

Forever Friends

What a big day for Katie!

She started the day asking some big questions during our morning pillow talk. We were talking about Mother’s Day and sending cards to her grandmother(s), and that led to questions about Nana (my stepmother). Katie wanted to know if Nana has a husband. I told her no, that she was married to Steeley (my dad) and Katie remembered that he is dead. We talked about widows and widowers, then Katie asked about heaven and what it’s like and who is there and when we might see them again. Then we moved on to the question of how you get there – by following Jesus. We talked about asking Jesus to be her Forever Friend, which is how our church phrases it in the kids’ ministry. I told her she can do it whenever she’s ready and that it’s a big step. By asking Jesus to be her Forever Friend, she is admitting her sins and thanking Jesus for taking her sins away. She asked if I’ve asked Jesus to be my Forever Friend, and I said yes. I told her I did it long ago, but then I ask Him to come into my heart again every day. I also talked about my baptism last summer, and she said she wants to get baptized too. I told her she has to wait until the end of second grade, and only then if it’s something she and Daddy and I think she’s ready to do. Then we changed subjects and that was it.

This afternoon, we were all outside after Katie got home from school. I was sitting on the driveway and Katie came to sit in a chair beside me. Out of the blue, she said, “I asked Jesus to be my Forever Friend today.” Taken by surprise, I said, “What? When?” She told me she was on the bus on the way to school and was looking out the window and said, “Jesus, please be my Forever Friend.” I smiled and got excited for her, then hugged her and told her that is such a big decision. I told her now she’s a Christian, and she asked what that means. I told her it means she is a follower of Jesus. I told her it means she’s also my sister now. Since we’re both followers of Jesus, we are sisters in Christ. At that, she squealed and wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me.

I had to share the news with someone (Dan was just minutes from pulling into our driveway so I wanted to wait and let Katie tell him face-to-face), so I texted a few friends. Later, my sister called and I told her. She had me tell Katie, “Jesus is my Forever Friend too” and I reminded Katie that makes Aunt Mimi a sister in Jesus too.

What a big day! What a big step for my little girl. I know she’s only six, and sin and salvation are some hard concepts to grasp, but I believe her faith and love for Jesus and her desire to be His friend. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes her. Welcome to the faith, my sweet girl!

Learning the Alphabet

Thanks to this post on Jodie’s* blog, Jackson is learning his alphabet. Finally!

I started with this tub of plastic letter tiles that I bought at Wal-Mart years ago.100_2282

We play a matching game with the tiles. I pick one out and give it to Jackson. If he knows the letter, he says it to me. If not, I tell him what the letter is. He takes it to the set of Leap Frog Fridge Phonics magnets that are on our refrigerator and searches for the letter that matches his tile. When he finds it, he puts the magnetic letter into the Fridge Phonics toy and listens to the “Every Letter Makes a Sound” song.100_2280

(Not sure what that crooked grin means.) He’s usually very proud of himself to find the matching letters and really likes to play this game. I like that it gives me a few minutes to pack lunches or tidy the kitchen while he’s distracted with the letters. Thanks for the inspiration, Jodie!

*Please keep Jodie and her daughter Parker in your prayers. They’ve been in the hospital all week due to seizures, high fever, infections and a whole host of issues. You can get updates by reading her blog.

Katie’s Doll Closet

I worked on a project for Katie today. I started with this old shoebox.100_2284

I used these tools to poke holes and cut the dowel.100_2283

Then I threaded the dowel through the holes to make a rod for hangers inside.100_2285

I bought tiny little doll hangers at Michael’s and used some miniature clothespins to attach doll clothes to them. Katie came home from school and was so excited to see the new closet. She decided to stay inside and work on organizing her doll, Alexis’, bed and closet before joining me and Jackson outside later. I’m thinking later she can decorate it with contact paper or stickers and maybe a latch to keep the closet door closed. I might even add some wooden balls to the bottom to elevate the closet and make it a bit more fancy.

Jackson’s on Ohdeedoh!

Yeppers! I love me some Ohdeedoh.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a blog that posts all kinds of ideas and roundups from around the World Wide Webs. They post birthday greetings submitted by parents and loved ones. I submitted Jackson’s before his birthday last month, but the greetings are a little delayed due to a long backlog.

But today! Today is the day! Jackson’s birthday greeting is posted, and you can go see it by clicking here. Leave him a comment here or there and say hello!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I’m a confident person. At least I think so. I know I’m definitely not a fearful person in that I’m not afraid of many things. My heart might skip a beat when I think about daredevil stunts like bungee jumping or jumping from the high dive. (I did that last month and don’t think I’ll choose to do it again.) But I know I could survive any one of those stunts by just jumping and DOING it.

I was thinking about this topic just a few days ago, thinking about my fears. I was going to write about it, but got sidetracked. (I’ve been doing that lately, which would explain my lack of posts here!) Then I read this post by an old high school friend on the same day I was thinking about fear, and decided to write about it.

I think if you’re human, you have fear. It’s just part of living. And if you don’t have fear, then you probably aren’t doing much living. Just walking out of your house each day assumes a small amount of risk, and risk includes fear. Most people decide leaving their house is an acceptable risk; chances are, you won’t get killed walking to the mailbox. But what about other risks in your life? What about the biggest one: LOVE? Let me know if you disagree, but the act of loving someone else – and especially letting someone love you – takes a HUGE amount of risk. There’s a real chance that when you open your heart to another human being, they could trample it to pieces. Oh, yessiree. That’s a big fear for many people. I personally know a few of them, myself included in some instances.

Okay, enough of this waxing poetic on fear. I’ll get down to the nitty gritty with you. What are my fears?

One of them is the fear of being rejected. Maybe here on this blog, maybe by a neighbor who might hold a grudge against me and make my life miserable, maybe the rejection of my children when they go through the teenage years. I think I’m like most people in that I want to be liked. At least a little, right? I’ve been rejected before, and it stinks. It causes such insecurity and regret.

Another big fear of mine is the fear of loss. That’s an ever-present possibility for me. I’ve lost most of my family of origin, which was devastating. Those losses opened my eyes to the realization that all of us are mortal. Yes, I understood that before those losses, but it was kind of an abstract idea that really only applied to old people and my grandparents. The death of my brother, mother and father slapped me right upside the head and made me realize death doesn’t affect only old people. It comes for children and siblings and friends and new mothers and coworkers. That realization grips my heart with fear that death might come again to my life, taking my children or my husband or my sister.

There’s one fear of mine that is a little less dramatic than death, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful in my head. This is the one that got me started thinking about fear a few days ago. It’s the fear of being a friend to others and yet being friendless in the end. Let me clarify: I am afraid of digging in deep to others’ lives because they might need me, but not letting them (or their not being interested in) digging in deep to mine. I have this fear simply because of how I watched my mom die. She spent her life being a friend to so many people, and a really good friend too. The kind of friend who would quietly slip you money when your bank account was way beyond empty and you were in dire need. The kind of friend who would dog sit for you, even after your dog bit her own beloved dog. The kind of friend who would show up unannounced in court the day your divorce was final, just so you could see a friendly face in the rubble of your dead marriage. The kind of friend who never forgot your birthday, ever. And she usually sent a card or took you out to lunch to celebrate. The kind of friend who was there to give and didn’t take anything in return. In fact, she rarely opened her heart to show you how much she was hurting. She was so good at helping others but not so much at letting herself be helped. In the end, she died with only her daughters and sons-in-law around her, not allowing friends in to see her and say goodbye. She just wasn’t good at needing, only at being needed. I am afraid of ending up like that.

Well. There you have it: a small glimpse into my fears. No, I’m not afraid of death. Maybe a little afraid of pain before death, but I’m not afraid of death. (I have such reunions to look forward to!) I’m not afraid of heights or skydiving or bungee jumping or spiders. I’m not even afraid of cockroaches, although I DO NOT want to touch them. Instead, I’m afraid of being rejected and losing more loved ones and dying alone.

What are you afraid of?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Cantaloupe Thief

Early this morning, someone snuck into the kitchen and absconded with an entire, whole cantaloupe. The thief made a clean getaway. There were no fingerprints, no DNA samples, no tire tracks from a getaway car.Cantaloupes

Then I heard it. Or, rather, I heard him. Snickering from somewhere in the house. “Aha!” I thought. The thief must still be on the premises!

I crept around the house, checking behind the couch for the thief. Nope. I checked in the pantry. Nope. I checked in the hall closet. Nope. I could hear him, now giggling with glee to have hidden himself away so well.

I honed in on the noise and FINALLY! I found him!IMGP6543

Little Jackson, the Cantaloupe Thief! Hiding in the kitchen cabinet!

I laughed then found the camera. All was well, and the cantaloupe was safe again. Until the Thief decided to use it as a ball and bounce it on the kitchen floor. *Groan!*

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I Did with a Little Ribbon

I bought two rolls of $1 ribbon at Michael’s yesterday. Then I found three pair of Katie’s pants that were way too short on her. Plus, she busted out the knees in all of them. So I hacked them off. I took that ribbon and folded it in half lengthwise and sewed it on the pants shorts. So easy, and the results are so cute!

Here are the befores and afters:IMGP6490IMGP6501 IMGP6489 IMGP6502 IMGP6491 IMGP6500

Katie tried them on and was so thrilled that she spouted out, “Thank you, Mommy!” as if it were the best present she’s ever received. Score one for Mommy!IMGP6494P.S. That’s her pajama top paired with the new shorts. She had to model them for me right before bedtime!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Birthday Gift Idea

Tell me if you think I’ve lost my mind. I am giving this to our nephew for his birthday.IMGP6277

It’s a craft box, filled with all kinds of crafting supplies. There are little baggies full of buttons, cotton balls, wooden clothespins, flat marbles, foam stickers, puzzle pieces, bottle caps, rubber bands, brads, and ribbon scraps.IMGP6280

The box also includes empty spools, an old map, a pocket notebook, brown lunch bags, pipe cleaners, paper towel tubes, a sponge, a glue stick, binder clips, crayons, yarn, crepe paper streamers, tape, popsicle sticks, and stickers.IMGP6283

I made customized stencils for the birthday boy out of container lids (like the lids on cream cheese containers). The lip on the lids keeps the child’s crayon inside the stencil area.IMGP6279

If you got this as a present for your child, would you think it’s all a box of junk? Would you never invite us to another party again because we give lame presents?

Here’s the last part of our nephew’s gift: I made him a customized t-shirt to mark his four-year milestone. Does this sweeten the gift a little more? I hope so.IMGP6276

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Good Friday Experience

I know, I’m behind on blogging. Good Friday was almost two weeks ago and I’m just now getting around to writing this. Trust me, I’m not backtracking just to bore you. I want to tell you about the Good Friday Experience that my church puts together every year.

What’s that, you ask? Um…. well, there is no easy way to explain it. You just have to experience it. Yeah, that doesn’t do much for you, does it? Let me try again: It’s an interactive way of bringing you into the Easter story. There were a bunch of  stations set up throughout the church. Each station had signs that told a bit about the Good Friday story and Jesus’ life (and death), and there was some sort of prop or interactive item at each table to make the story more real.

Whew… I feel like I used a bunch of big words there and didn’t quite capture the idea.

My first Experience at church was the Thanksgiving Experience in 2008, then the Good Friday Experience in 2009. Last year’s Good Friday Experience pushed me over the edge in my walk with Jesus. I had been holding back and trying not to be so vulnerable in my faith because of fear and pain and all that nasty garbage. But last year’s Good Friday Experience changed everything for me. I went the night before Good Friday, and gave myself completely to Jesus. It inspired me to write this the next day.

I loved the Experiences so much and wanted to get involved in planning them. I helped with guest relations this past Thanksgiving, then finally joined the team in January. I can’t begin to tell you what a joy it was for me to be on the team and plan this Good Friday Experience. Honestly, it didn’t feel like I did much besides sit back and watch some incredibly creative minds whir and spin. Then the week of Good Friday, a blur of activity began. We set up the stations at two different church locations, then opened it to the public that Thursday night. That’s when my heart broke open and took me completely by surprise. Before I go into all of that, let me show you what the Experience looked like.

This Good Friday Experience centered around all of the people who were at the cross with Jesus, or were major players in putting Him on it. The first part of the Experience gave you the chance to see the entire Passion of the Christ movie. Then there was an art show with sculpture, photographs and paintings that depicted any number of things: new starts, desolation, gossip, sunsets, blooms, community.IMGP5067

Throughout the art show and the entire Experience, there were also rocks and bricks scattered about with Scripture written on them. One brick would have the Old Testament prophecy about Jesus, then a nearby brick would show how that was fulfilled in the New Testament. You walked through the art and the first station you came to signified Palm Sunday and the crowd that was there to cheer Jesus and welcome him to Jerusalem. You were invited to pick up a palm branch and wave it, and think about what thousands of them sounded like on the first Palm Sunday.IMGP5077

The next station focused on Judas in comparison to the widow who gave the small mite she had to Jesus. Judas accepted payment to betray Jesus, and the widow gave everything she had to honor Him. This station invited you to take a penny from a bowl and think about how you trust God with your life. If you are willing to trust Him, you can throw the penny into an urn. If you aren’t trusting Him just yet, hold on to the penny and let it remind you to start the journey of trusting Him.IMGP5078

At Peter’s station, the sign asked you to roll up your sleeves and put your hands in a pot full of water. You must then try to push all the water from one side of the pot to the other. Can you control the water? Peter tried to control so many things in the Bible. He cut off Malchus’ ear when the guards came to take Jesus away, and was ready to take matters into his own hands. The question at this station is: do you keep the decisions and trajectory of your life in your own hands? Are you willing to consider placing them in the hands of God?IMGP5083

You walk from Peter’s station into a station dedicated to Malchus. He was one of the sold iers who came to capture Jesus, and instead walked away healed by Him. This station gave everyone a chance to ask for healing by writing it on a piece of paper and putting it into a chalice. The papers were later prayed over by our church prayer team.IMGP5084

The next station was actually a set of many different stations. It was the station devoted to Jesus and His crucifixion. There were detailed drawings of how flogging and crucifixion affects a body, interactive places where you could pick up a cross piece to give you an idea of what Jesus carried, and touch sand to imagine what Jesus felt when walking on hot shards of rock.IMGP5093

There were saline IV bags to show the amount of Jesus’ blood loss, and photos from The Passion of the Christ that showed what a scourging does to human flesh.IMGP5094

One station focused on the soldiers who were at the base of the cross waiting for Jesus to die, throwing dice to try and win Jesus’ clothes. You could pick up handmade clay dice to feel what it might be like to cast lots for Jesus’ robe.IMGP5104

Then you come upon a station with an immense curtain tied to the church’s ceiling. It has been split in half. This station signifies God the Father, who was – of course – present at His son’s death. The Bible tells us that when Jesus died, the curtain in the Jewish temple was split in half. Jesus’ death frees us all to approach God directly, instead of having someone else intercede for us. At this station, you could take a piece of fabric from the curtain to help you remember how Jesus gave us direct access to God.IMGP5108

Another station in this section was devoted to the Roman Centurion at the base of Jesus’ cross and the thief on the cross next to Jesus. One was upholding the law while the other was being punished for breaking it. You were asked to take a card from one of two baskets labeled “Centurion” or “Thief.” The baskets held the same cards, because the point is no  matter whether you follow the rules or not, you still need grace. The cards had a cross printed on them, with a blank line where you could write your name. There were also red ink pads on the table so you could put your own thumbprint on the card to signify that Christ died for you. One of the most moving things about this station is that for the rest of the Experience – and maybe even until Easter – you got to walk around with a red finger to remind you of the blood that was shed for you.IMGP5117

The last station in this section was a five minute video that focused on Mary, Jesus’ mother. It showed movie clips to demonstrate what it must have been like to have Mary watch her son die. The same little boy who used to run to her when he scraped his knee was now dying on a cross. This video was gut-wrenching to watch as you imagined the pain and loss Mary felt.IMGP5119

You leave the video room and go into the church auditorium. The lights are down low, and there is music playing softly. A video is playing, showing one single line as it forms into the entire Good Friday story with changing shapes. There is a station where you pick up a letter from God to you. Find a seat to sit down and read it. Here’s the front and back sides of the letter. 2010-04-01 GFEX Letter from God12010-04-01 GFEX Letter from God2

After you read the letter, there is a communion station with the word “You” at the top of the sign. Even before you were born, Jesus hung on the cross for you. You were there, in God’s plan even long ago. You are invited to hammer a nail in the cross then kneel and take communion.IMGP5128

The last station was also in the auditorium, and it focused on Nicodemus. He’s the man who came to question Jesus in John 3, and came in the dark because he was afraid that people might see him talking to Jesus. After Jesus died, Nicodemus came forward in the light to help Joseph of Arimathea bury the body. There was a basket of electric candles and a big mirrored box, and you were asked to take a candle and light it as a way to signify Christ’s light shining in your life. Everyone put their candles into the mirrored box, and this is how it looked at the end of Friday night.IMGP5155a

Now… do the photos and descriptions help you better understand the Experience? I hope so. Now let me explain why my heart was broken open during this Experience.

I went into Thursday night thinking I’d need to stand around and help restock paper towels and pens and ink pads, and maybe light a few candles. I was focused on the little details. (Nah, that doesn’t sound a BIT like me, does it?) At one point, I went into the auditorium where communion was being served, and checked on another team mate to see if she  needed a break. She was monitoring the communion supplies and candles and crowd flow. She didn’t need a break, so I settled in to a seat to watch for a few moments. I didn’t leave for an hour and a half. I watched people come into the auditorium, after they had just left the video at the Mary station. I watched people read the letter from God, then I watched them humble themselves and kneel in front of the cross and hammer nails. I watched them take communion, and I watched them shed tears of humility and love. I started praying for each one of those people, and then started crying. I don’t know why, except that I was so moved by the emotions flowing out of believers and non-believers. I truly lost control of my emotions when I watched a mom and dad come through with their little children. The parents read the signs to the kids and tenderly gave them communion. When the father held the communion cup to his daughter’s lips so she could drink, I stopped breathing. I imagined myself as that little girl, basking in the love of her Father who is offering the most precious gift: salvation. That moment will stay frozen in my memory for the rest of my life.

When it was time for me to leave the auditorium later that night, I was an emotional wreck. I witnessed some extremely personal stories and saw grown men weep like children at the foot of the cross. I was touched beyond words, and so very grateful that I got the privilege of being on the Good Friday Experience team.IMGP5182a

Monday, April 12, 2010


Just wanted to give y’all a little heads up. I changed the comment process a bit for my blog, to try and weed out some random Japanese comments I keep getting. I’m sorry if this makes commenting a little harder for you, but please don’t stop commenting!!! You have NO IDEA how much I love comments on my blog, so please PLEASE keep up the chatter.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Small (and Huge!) Miracles

Huge miracle: I finished my second half marathon!IMGP5895a

Small miracle: I finished my second half  marathon and didn’t even turn on my iPod!

Huge miracle: I set a personal record for myself! My time for my first half marathon was 3:45:47. This time I shaved off 20 minutes, and my final time was 3:25:12.IMGP5890-
Small miracle: I have only one blister on my foot!

I can’t begin to say what a blessing it was to do this race with Team Living Water. While I didn’t walk with anyone from the team, seeing others on the race course who were wearing the same jersey did wonders for my momentum. The best part of the race for me was seeing my family and friends right before the finish line. It was so emotional to hear them cheering for me.IMGP5915a
I pushed myself. Hard. I dug deep, even deeper than I did for my first half marathon. I made a few friends along the way, and even though they’ll go back to being strangers, I am so grateful for their kindness. It kept me from quitting.

Now I just need some pain relief for my feet!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

13.1 Jitters

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a week. My sister and two nieces just left Thursday night, and now I’m focused on one single, solitary thing that is happening tomorrow: my second half  marathon. I promise after all this chaos has settled down, I’ll post about the incredible two weeks I’ve had. But until then, I would love your prayers!

The Go St. Louis race is tomorrow morning. I feel very unprepared, because my last race in September was so different. I trained regularly and had three others walking with me during the race. This time, I’m going solo. The friends I was planning to walk with had scheduling conflicts, injuries, or decided to run instead of walk. (And you know I DON’T run. Yet.) So it’s just me, by my lonesome. I’m hoping my winning personality (ha!) will help me make a stranger into a friend tomorrow, and I’ll find someone to tag along with at the race. If not, there’s always my iPod.

Joe, my coach from the last race, suggested I work on an affirmation ritual. For his big races, Coach Joe writes an “I Am” list. I took his advice and did the same thing. I wrote a title down, “I am…” and then wrote a list of words that described the current me or the me I want to be in the very near future. Then from that list, I chose some words and used henna to write them on my arm.IMGP5881
I chose “yours” because above all else, I am God’s. I often repeat “I am Yours” to myself in prayer or in a song I love.

I chose “living water” and “thirsty” to remind me of the big reason I’m doing the race: to benefit Living Water International. Some people walk 3 hours EVERY DAY to get dirty drinking water. And I’m walking for FUN. I want to keep my focus on true sacrifice, not just Sunday morning 13.1 mile strolls.IMGP5884
I chose “loved” because I am loved. By my husband, kids, extended family, friends, but mostly God.

I chose “alive” because no matter what pain or obstacle might present itself to me, I am ALIVE. And that is so very good!

I chose “strong” because I have weathered a lot and come through it more whole and strong than I ever thought possible. When the going gets tough during tomorrow’s race (oh, around the ten mile mark!), I will remind myself that I am strong and I am a survivor.IMGP5882

Of course, I also doodled some other fun designs with the henna. Gotta have some decoration to look at, right? I think I’ll add “13.1” after the race is finished, to get me through the aches and pains that will set in tomorrow afternoon.

Wish me luck, and please pray for me!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

With a Smile on My Exhausted Face

IMGP4946 I am having a hard time finding the right words to express what’s in my heart right now. The only word that keeps coming to mind? Wrecked.

I just spent the last four nights of my life worshipping the King in ways that would have embarrassed the old me. I have shed countless tears. Happy ones, sad ones, humble ones, and hopeful ones.

And I am happy. Oh, so happy. Overjoyed at the thought of eternal life and reunions to come. Mystified and humbled that God would want me. Grateful that my family (well, almost all of the immediate – still living – ones) are under my roof tonight, tucked in and sleeping.

And I’m still awake, trying to find the words to express what’s in my heart. It’s so personal, so intimate and raw, and yet it’s bursting out of me and I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

All I can say is thank you, Lord, for loving me. For the blessings you have heaped upon me. Thank you.

My sister and nieces arrived late last night, and will be here most of this week. I might not post much, but know it isn’t for lack of anything to say. It’s because I’ll be cramming in lots of time with them, all while trying to come up with new ways to embarrass my too-cool 15-year-old niece. I love having my family here. I love being able to share Easter with them and my husband and kids, and I really loved worshipping at church and then at the Casting Crowns concert last night. There is so much to tell, but it will have to wait.

Until then, have a blessed Easter. Remember how very much you are loved!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You’re Everything

I hope you take the five minutes today to watch this video. I first saw it about two years ago, and it affected me deeply. I just watched it again, and found myself crying (again) by the end.

Know that you are everything to Jesus. You’re all He wants because He loves you tremendously. Even with your failures and shortcomings. Even when you look ugly on the outside and on the inside. He loves you, desperately. And not just the kind of love that’s all rainbows and kittens. He loves you enough to go to the mat for you. At about four minutes into the video, did you see how the Jesus character took on the pains and struggles for the girl? Notice how He didn’t just stand beside her and encourage her. He took her place so she could stop fighting and focus on the beauty of life, so she could keep dancing. With Him. And, oh! The dance. It’s so much better when you’re not doing it alone.

Last year, Good Friday marked a turning point in my life. This holy weekend, I hope that you let Jesus dance with you – and IN you too.

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)


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