Tuesday, December 27

The Alien Within

I have not added any new and exciting thoughts (or dull and mundane) to this blog for a little while now. I have been afraid. You see, there is an alien inhabiting my brain and emotional center that I fear will rear its ugly head if given opportunity, such as the empty page of a blog post. Tears flow freely these days. The last night of Monday Night Football on ABC totally had me choked up. I will not even attempt to describe the floodgates that opened during the last Extreme Makeover (did you see the kids who couldn't be in the sun playing at Disneyland??). My poor kids just pat my shoulder: It'll be okay, mommy. To contrast the sad moments, this alien has cut very short the fuse to my temper. When we realized that Allan had left our toothpaste at my parents' house (after I had already packed it), you would have thought he had just intentionally set our house on fire. But I just ate a Lik-a-Stik! Now I have to go to bed with sugar-coated teeth! And you probably have left all of our travel toothpastes at work, haven't you?? Ugly. So I keep quiet. I hate getting in trouble, and whenever I think of a post entry, I imagine it is too emotional or passionate or pathetic to go without rebounding trouble. So for the meantime, until I recognize my own thoughts again, I will refrain from topics relating to church, friends, family, politics or anything controversial. For the immediate future, you can look forward to comments on the weather and the conditions of the roads (name that movie reference).

Tuesday, December 20

Baby's First Photo

Here is a great shot of Sprout (Trinity was Spot, Connor was Squirt) at nine weeks along. Baby was apparently napping, but we heard and saw a good, strong heartbeat. I took Trinity along for this appointment, so she was excited to see a picture of the baby.

In case you need assistance on what you are viewing: the bigger circle to the left is the head with the dark spots of the brain; the middle circle is the body with little arms & legs on each corner; the sac to the right is the little nurishment ball (or soccer ball) until the placenta forms more fully in the next few weeks.

Estimated Due Date: July 25 (is it just me or does that sound light years away?!)

Monday, December 19

Nurturing an Enmeshed Family

Despite my obvious math issues, "nurturing" has become a four-letter word in my vocabulary. Within my church family, this word has been beaten to death in the last year or so. Despite my tone, it is a very important discussion we have been having. It's origins are based in how relationships look at PUMP. There are those who feel that, at PUMP, and in churches at large, we are not well practiced at nurturing (there's that word), especially with family members. This conversation has gone all over the page...Is it a generational issue? A problem mostly felt by singles? Who is it that is not feeling nurtured? And what would a nurturing family look like for them? Do those who feel good about their own personal relationships just have a lesser need for intimacy or are they finding their connections elsewhere (e.g. biological family)?

After reading Mike Cope's blog today, I was really struck with another option. This is an idea that could hurt, so I do not make the analogies lightly. Mike discusses the differences between nurturing families and enmeshed families. He is referring to biological units in his writing, but it immediately appeared applicable to church families as well.
A nurturing family is one that empowers family members to have a strong sense of self. Children are loved and drawn into the nurturing center of the family--but without losing their sense of self and outward mission.

In an enmeshed family, children are loved and drawn into the center--but often at the expense of their sense of self and outward mission.

In an enmeshed family system (which is more common than you might imagine), parents are dependent on each other and/or their children to make them whole, happy, and loved. In biblical terms, it's a form of idolatry: trying to find life in someone or something other than God.
I wonder if those who are crying out for more nurturing within churches are actually asking for an enmeshed family. I recently told someone that I'm not sure PUMP should ever be the family that some are asking us to be, but I have not been able to articulate well why that is. I wonder if some are looking to the church family to fulfill them in ways that just aren't healthy. And when the church tries to fill that place, there is a constant sense of not meeting expectations, all the while, encouraging dysfunctional relating. For everyone involved, the worst part is a distraction from building deep, powerful personal relationships with the Lord that can truly fulfill.

Definitely more worth thinking about here..

Saturday, December 17

More Education Discussion

Thank you to everyone who joined our conversation about the merits and challenges of all-day school for the littlest students. It is a very important topic to me and I invite further thoughts that you have.

Recently, Portland Public Schools Superintendent, Vicki Phillips, along with the "Jefferson Design Team", proposed to the PPS Board their recommendations for Building a Culture of Achievement. If approved, Jefferson High would be divided into three schools: a leadership academy for 7th-12th grade boys, a co-ed arts & technology academy for 9th-12th graders and a co-ed college prep & environmental studies academy for 9th-12th graders. Harriet Tubman Middle School would be renovated into a 7th-12th grade academy for girls, focusing on technology & science. A number of elementary schools would expand from pre-K or K through 6th grade to 8th grade. All Tubman and Jefferson schools would have required uniforms.

Wow. These are some radical changes that would surely have some sort of effect on the students in these schools. I cannot imagine that splitting the genders will happen without great outcry from the kids. I know I would have hollered had they suggested that for my school! As a mom of little guys, I definitely have concerns about adding eight graders to the elementary schools, but I'd support the change for the good of the overall big picture. As for school uniforms, I could easily go with that change. The fact that these are only being recommended for the Jeff schools, though, causes me pause. If school uniforms are a good idea, why not make that a district-wide policy? Jefferson takes a lot of heat, I'm sure some deserved, some not. I'm not sure that making them stand out in this way will be good for the school. Will it help or hurt truancy rates? Will more kids just apply to go elsewhere in the district, like Benson or Lincoln?

It is the start to a good discussion. I like that this superintendent is thinking outside the box. We'll find out in January if the board approves this, after hearing from the community; it will then be a two to three year transition. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out!

Thursday, December 15


Trinity's half-day pre-school at Woodlawn Elementary is going to all day, every day starting in mid-January. From my limited experience, it seems as if most kindergarten classes in this country are not even all day, every day, so this has come as a bit of a shock to my maternal system. Trinity, being the genius that she is, is of course, ready for the challenging academics before her. She loves school and has made good friendships (notes her report card: with both boys and girls - that's my girl). Just this morning, as she torturously had to wait until noon to leave for another school day, she asked, "Why can't I go to school when the sun comes up?" I'm not worried about her enjoying all day school.

So here's my really deep, logical argument: But she's only five years old! She will have to (get to) be in school all day, every day for the next twenty years. Do we need to rush this sentence? And maybe, just maybe, I'm a bit full of myself, but I tend to think that Trinity will be missing out on some great learning by not being at home with her mommy for most of the day. I can't stand the thought of Miss So-n-so getting to have more time to teach my child than I get to have right now. Who else will educate her on the fine art of creamed eggs? Can one teacher with twenty-some-odd little munchkins give her the feedback her works of art deserve?

I know I'll end up giving in and allow this system to swallow my little princess whole. This is my opportunity to protest. Tell me I'm right.

Tuesday, December 13

Can You Imagine?


Only one-fifth of the 1.8 million people made homeless by last December's tsunami will be in permanent homes by the end of this year, British-based aid group Oxfam International said on Wednesday.

Valveddithurai, Jaffna

Monday, December 12


Yesterday evening, as I lay in misery on the couch, trying to still my brain from the volts of paralyzing dizziness and the unrelenting waves of naseau, I chose to take a break from staring at the television (it helps to avoid the dizziness if I don't move my eyes) to write a blog post about the events of the previous days. I included great musings about the encouragment of the Mercy Me & Steven Curtis Chapman concert, the blessing of a local funeral we attended, my love for the new Narnia movie, and partaking in other assorted Christmas parties and great seasonal treasures, such as It's a Wonderful Life and The Polar Express. Obviously, said post is not on my blog. Hmmm...why would that be?? Because I do not listen to my own advice. Did I write my post in a text editor or at least periodically cut and paste it into another document form so as to not lose my treasure of word pictures? No, of course not! I wrote a probably-too-long post, with more links included than the local golf course can boast. I was all done, save for one link to a Narnia picture, when appeared the dreaded pinwheel of death and the message, "Firefox hates you and mocks your work. Would you like to close Firefox or restart it?" Or something like that. I don't want either option! How about "I'm sorry. Firefox is freaking out. Here is where your magnificient text has been saved. We promise not to do this again. And here is a gift certificate for a free massage for the trouble and stress we have caused you."

Friday, December 9


The direction of my posts will likely be influenced over the coming months by a particular life event happening in our household...babyhood! Lucky you! You get to read all about all-day nausea (which, for some dumb reason, people refer to as morning sickness!), clothes that don't fit, cute little sonograms and baby heartbeats, Trinity and Connor's reactions to all the changes, baby kicks, and the grand finale of labor and delivery! We are thrilled and thankful for this huge blessing in a little package.

*photo is of a baby at the same age as ours - eight weeks

Monday, December 5

I Once Had A Farm In Africa...

I just said good-bye to my very dear friend, Kaelea. After waving from the door, the tears began to flow for me. I will miss her, without a doubt. But the feelings go deeper than that for me, because she is going to a place that touches very deeply in my heart. I think I was in second grade when I first knew that I would live my life in Africa. I had no doubt that I would marry some amazing missionary-type and we would settle in East Africa and raise our beautiful children amongst the acacia trees and mud huts.

It was in 1994 when I was able to visit this land of my dreams. I spent a summer living with missionaries, staying in villages and traveling within four countries in Africa (and discovered that missionary life is not as idyllic as my imagination had made it!). I also got to visit my brother and sister-in-law, who were in Nairobi at that time. One week our team drove into the mountains of Uganda, with Jeff & Cheryl in their little toy truck bouncing along behind us. I remember, of all the towns and villages we visited in Uganda, I was especially captivated by Fort Portal. It was such a beautiful area - breathtaking, really.

Within the next couple of years, as Jeff & Cheryl made Fort Portal their home and I found the Lord leading me in the direction of urban missions, I realized that I had been misinterpreting my dreams all of those years. I was not to be a missionary to Africa myself, but rather I was to be a strong, passionate supporter of African missions. This understanding caused me grief, but it is a role I cherish, as well.

Allan and I have been blessed to see a number of friends from our college years dedicate themselves to serving God in Uganda, Tanzania, Togo and elsewhere in Africa: Nick & Renee, Eric & Susan, Mandy & Archie, Jay & Andrea, Philip & Laura, Shane & Carol and others. Since we were able to visit several years ago, we have now also sent a number of our close friends from PUMP and Metro over to visit Jeff & Cheryl: Jason, Greg, Jonathan, Steve, Andrew, Aimee and now Ike, Kaelea, Isaiah, Michal and Mali. Each time I help pack trunks for these good people and say good-bye, my heart breaks some, as it also swells with joy and anticipation for their adventures. Not only will the Grauls be with my much loved and missed family this Christmas, but they will also be seeing a land and talking with people whom I love from afar.

So, Kaelea, drink in every moment for me. Memorize the bright stars at night. Strain to see the lions and elephants in the game park. Listen to the sounds of birds and bugs that sing so differently from our own. Bring back to us the singing and clapping and moving that you will enjoy in worship with the Fort Portal church. Spend all the time you can with Ronald, David, Dick and the other amazing people of God. Smell the amazing flowers. Look hard to see if the tops of the mountains have any snow on them. Hold on tight as you pray for your family's lives as you careen down the dangerous roads. Drink lots of chai. Dance a ballet with Kinley. Read with Alex. Wrestle with Isaac. Tickle Silas. Stay up late into the night talking with Cheryl. Listen to Jeff's stories. Drink it all in for me, please, and have the time of your life, my friend!

Tuesday, November 29

To My Connor Bear

I remember my response when I found out I was pregnant with you, Connor: No way! It can't be! It's not time yet! I'm supposed to go mountain-climbing this summer! I just lost all the weight from my first pregnancy! I don't want to feel nauseated for weeks! Not very maternal, I know. Then I received a holy tap on the shoulder, reminding me of what you truly are - a gift from the Almighty Creator. Since that moment, I have thanked God every day for entrusting you to me.

You are an amazing, precious little guy with a heart of gold. One look at your dark eyes (like mommy's) and your beaming smile (like daddy's) and I am overwhelmed with adoration, all the way to my toes. You are passionate, loving, cuddly, energetic and very, very funny.

I pray that you will always be someone who will bring others joy. I pray that you will use your passion to draw others into a loving relationship with Jesus. May your humor bring light and laughter into the lives of those around you. You will undoubtedly bless others, as you have me. I am so proud to be your mommy.

Happy third birthday, Connor!

San Angelo

Saturday, November 26

Advertise Yourself!

Four out of Five Dentists Recommend Trinity.

Double the Pleasure, Double the Allan.

No-One Does Chicken Like Connor.

To make your own ad, click here- It's great for a laugh!

Friday, November 25

Broken Record

Marriage. Reading scripture. Mountain climbing. Gardening. Graduate school. Planting a church. Making wise financial choices. Childbirth. Traveling. Exercising. Childbirth again. Building relationships. Trying to adopt a child. Getting out of bed. Buying a house. Reading a book. Freelancing. Supporting others' dreams. Training kittens.

Isn't it odd how you can get a line stuck in your head from a song that you haven't heard in eons? Seeing a certain sight or hearing some random word or even the smell of a certain aroma triggers the release from the file cabinet of your brain a song of yesteryear. Then you must endure the repetition of said line over...and over...and over.

One day this week I had such an experience with the line, "It wasn't easy, but it was worth it." I vaguely remember a song with this line - maybe it's a song sung from Jesus' perspective? Or maybe not. It could be a country jingle about a broken marriage for all I can remember. Since only that one line played like a skipping record in my head about, oh, a gazillion times or so, I had ample opportunity to become philosophical with its message.

Above the light switch in his room, my brother Steve had a little scrawled out post-it that read: Those things in life that are most worth having are those worth working hardest for. Attached was a picture of Steve's then-girlfriend, now wife, Dana. I always thought that was a profound statement of love. With my little song ditty of this week ringing loudly in my ears, I am reminded of this concept of commitment. Life is full of hard choices, tough requirements of stamina and endurance. But don't these often result in reflections of amazement? We look back and cannot imagine life before _____. I thank God for those things in my life that were so incredibly hard to go through, but which proved to be so worth it. For through the toughest times, when I am weakest, God's power and glory is made most evident.

Monday, November 21

Perfection to Come

I love getting emails from my brother, Steve, in Indiana. He is one of those guys who is so sincere, so loyal, so incredibly devout that you cannot help but sit back in wonder at the words that he strings together into beautiful thoughts. Here's something he sent to me this week:
One great thing about heaven is how we will be. I stumbled upon a great verse in I John 3:2. It says, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is...." We will be made perfect - how cool is that?! Even better, my wife will be perfect. :) I can't wait to see her in her total perfection. That will be awesome! I think that that thought alone, if truly believed and visualized, could keep many married people together, keep them more patient and make them more expectant of the day their spouses turn perfect! One day I'll be walking across the street in heaven, see Dana and say, "Wow, she's perfect! I can't believe that I was married to her back in the old days. I sure love what God has done to her. Amazing!" I think it will be very enlightening to see how God fully intends people to be seen.

Saturday, November 19

Texas Trip

San Angelo
Barefoot Connor getting a ride on daddy's shoulders.

San Angelo
Trinity and her daddy practicing tree climbing.

The tree made a beautiful dark background against the bright Texas sky.

To see more, click here.

Thursday, November 17

Connor, Take the Wheel!

Today on Dora the Explorer, Dora and her pals made a very clear point that they were wearing their seatbelts in order to be SAFE. That's great! Thank you, Nick Jr., for reinforcing that important idea with my children. Then five-year-old Dora, her weird monkey sidekick and a Spanish-speaking mole(?) piloted their airplane to the top of a mountain. Hmmm.

Wednesday, November 16

Book Reviews

On our recent trip to Texas I finished two good books. You may not understand the significance of that statement. I, a mother of pre-schoolers, read two complete books! The interruptions of Mommy, come draw with me! and I need juice! are more conducive with the short spurts of reading of magazines or blogs. You are just setting yourself up for frustration if you even attempt to delve into something that requires more than ten minutes of concentration. But I digress...

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
Twelve-year-old Nicky and her dad, Robert, come across a newborn baby who has been abandoned in the snow in the woods behind their New Hamshire home. Through a series of events, Nicky and her cautious father spend time with the baby's young mom, Charlotte, and are tossed into a whirlwind of grief, conflict, anger and hope.

This is a truly beautifully written book. I fell in love with each of the three main characters and was drawn into their formidable situation. When Allan first saw the book, he declared it to be a "chick book". No doubt the pink cover did not help. If a chick book is defined by a lack of explosions and is a well-spring of emotions, then this does, in fact, fit the bill. On the other hand, it does not have an iota of romance involved, so I think it could pass as gender neutral.

Shreve writes from Nicky's perspective, capturing the tumultuous time between childhood and adolescence for this young girl. I kept thinking as I read the book that Nicky's thoughts seemed rather mature for a twelve-year-old, only to discover later that the author was writing as a thirty-year-old Nicky, looking back on this earlier time of her life. In that case, Nicky has a much better memory than I!

The Constant Gardner
by John Le Carre'
Tessa Quayle is a young, beautiful and vivacious advocate for the poor of Kenya. Her husband, Justin works for the British government, who often gets in the way of Tessa's humanitarian work. After Tessa's gruesome murder in northern Kenya, Justin sets out on a personal odyssey to uncover the mystery of her death.

This is no chick book; it has it all wrapped up in one package - romance, intrigue, spies, murder. Le Carre' wrote this book with just enough complexity to keep one's mind active and involved, but not so complicated as to get lost in too many characters or geographical locales (e.g. Clancy). It is written from a British background, which can be a tad hard to follow at times (am I making myself out to be an idiot?). This is not my normal read, but it was a hard one for me to put down.

Monday, November 14

My Own Lost

I can quit any time I want! I now know I am not a blogger addict. We had to quickly head to Texas earlier this week for a family funeral. In the five days we were gone, I did not once look at my blog or anyone else's, for that matter. Quite a show of restraint, if I do say so myself.

Having to travel with young kids is not an easy feat. One silver lining, though, is that you get to board the plane early, because they (accurately) figure it will take you as long to get the snacks, coloring books, juice, books, blankets and all other necessities settled, as it will to get the entire 737 loaded with passengers and their gear. While Allan was across the aisle wrestling the two crocs into their pjs for the late flight home, I had a chance to watch the people who were joining us on this journey. What if we landed on a deserted island (work with me, I know there are not a lot of islands between Houston and Portland), aka Lost? Who are these people? What are their gifts and abilities? What are they about?

There's the lady wearing sweats, tennis shoes and a huge, white fur coat. Let's call her "Joan". Would Joan pull her own weight or would she be concerned about her manicure?

Over there is "Monica", a twenty-something attractive black woman. She wears Eskimo booties, complete with pom-poms. I think Monica would hold her own; she's not afraid to be her own girl.

I'm a bit concerned about "Bob" and "Elaine". They are a retired couple in matching alligator t-shirts. I think they would take good care of each other, but I can't see them climbing a coconut tree or diving after fish.

Then there's the "Johnson" family, a close-knit group with mom, dad, older teenage boy, middle teenage girl and a youngest son, who is obviously the prankster of the crowd. With their matching red hair, there is something about them that makes me think they will break out into singing musicals around the campfire. That will get old really quick.

Is that Albert Einstein? I can't quite figure this wild-haired guy out. "Gene" looks like he may have just finished a day of safari in a Jeep with the top off. He's complete with jean shirt, khakis and a big, ol' camera strapped around his neck.

"Neil" needs to relax. This fine gentleman wore his suit jacket and tie the entire flight. Being on a deserted island is going to be rough for him.

The lady immediately in front of us I call "Jane", after Jane Goodall, because of her long graying ponytail. Jane plays with my kids, making them laugh and telling them stories. She doesn't even wince when they repeatedly kick her seat. She'll be a good one to keep the troops calm.

"Mike", the guy behind us, looks as strong as an ox, with muscles bulging out of his shirt. He'll be able to move large boulders and won't complain about it.

All in all, I think we'd do okay. A well-rounded, varied group with a great cross-section of ethnicities and ages represented. I don't see any Kate types either, which is good because I don't need my husband being tempted by any other brunettes.

Monday, November 7

Trinity's Blog

Trinity recently informed me that she needed a blog. When we sit down to post, she tells me each sentence she wants to write. I tell her the next letters and she types out the whole thing! I figure this helps us in a couple of ways: 1. I have to practice patient parenting, and 2. she gets to work on writing, typing and story-telling skills. If you were ever interested in the deep thoughts of a five-year-old, check it out here!

Wednesday, November 2

Good Intentions

We judge ourselves by our intentions;
we judge others by their behaviors.
This quote was stated by Mike Armour at a recent church gathering in Portland. I find that idea thought-provoking. In my own walk through life, I used to dwell on how others were incompetent or not living up to my expectations. When others are not performing to one's specifications, it leads to a heart full of frustration, anger & resentment. In the last few years, with great motivation by the Spirit, I have found myself liberated from this way of thinking. Now I tend to see how people are really trying. Most people don't intend to be jerks or relish in their inabilities (there are exceptions, of course); their behavior is measured by my own view of what is acceptable and valuable. Instead of seeing failure, I see a lot of places where people can grow. In this thinking, I also become aware of how other's are growing. Similarly to how using "Choice Language" allows the adult to join the child in the process of discipline, looking to other's intentions reminds us that we are all ultimately in the same race and on the same team.

Now, if I can only get my behavior to be in alignment with my good intentions.

Sunday, October 30

Pic of the Day

Hugging 2
Cousins take a moment to hug in the midst of a rowdy leaf fight.

Friday, October 28

New Look

I'm bored with my blog style, so I'm going to try out some new looks.

Thursday, October 27


One of the great fall events that I have missed for many years is watching soccer, usually in the rain. Mackenzie to the rescue! The next generation of my family is now in the big school sports years. My oldest nephew, 7th-grader, Mack, is a great kid with many gifts. At this point in his life, though, athletics does not come easy. Bless his beautiful heart, though, he keeps trekking forward. The first couple of games this season was a little painful to watch. Today was the last game of the season, and Mack's transformation over the fall was nothing short of amazing. I have not seen him doing so much physical activity since he was a toddler! To make today a perfect soccer day, Mack scored his first goal! I'll take that moment over the World Series any day, for sure.

I can learn a lot from my nephew. Not being the best is okay, as long as I'm doing my best. Shooting my arms above head in victory is a totally great reaction to meeting a huge goal (even a goal without a net). Trying new things, especially with supportive friends, can be really fun. Surrounding myself with people who cheer loudly for me is the best. A smart, talented & patient coach is invaluable. It may take until the last minutes of the last game of the season, but if I stick with it, I may even score a goal.

Tuesday, October 25

Cry Out to Jesus

Allan and I recently heard that two people whom we dearly respect, admire and truly enjoy have chosen to end their marriage. One of the hard parts of being an adult is those really big, grown-up problems of this world. I really do long for the joy and freedom that will be heaven. We have to endure this world and just hold for a little while, until that day. It doesn't feel like a "little while", though, to those whose marriages are falling apart, who are grieving for a lost loved one, who do not know the love of a parent, who are being hurt by another.

Third Day has a song on their new album that speaks to this beautifully (you can hear it on their website):
To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They've lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering


When your lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight


Sunday, October 23

The Sounds of Silence

With two kiddos, two kittens, and a vital ministry within a thriving city, I don't have a lot of quiet in my daily life. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I just spent the last ten minutes in a very happy state of silence. Wearing comfy sweats, I am slowly rocking in my glider chair with a cup of hot Earl Grey in my hand. I put my head back, closed my eyes and listened to the sounds around me. I get lost in the crackling of the warm fire in the fireplace to my side. I hear Connor breathing and the light chuthunk-chuthunk of his wire and bead toy across the room. Without being able to understand the words they are saying, I can hear Allan and Trinity talking in the basement, occasionally laughing together at something one of them has said. From the sounds of their jingling collars, it sounds like the kittens are playing around Allan's and Trinity's feet.

The silence was short lived. By the time I finished the first paragraph of this post, chaos has resumed. I hear my own occasional yelps as the kittens take turns trying to claw their way up my leg in order to help me type on my laptop. Connor is swinging a long loaf of French bread around by the end of the package, yelling, "I want some bread! I want something to drink! Daddy! Daddy! I want something to drink! Apple juice! Mommy bought me apple juice!" Trinity is singing a operetta, very loudly, to her baby doll. Allan is making a valiant effort to get the bedtime routine under way.

I have come to appreciate both extremes - the times of loud laughter and play, yelling and wrestling, as well as the quiet moments when I can actually hear myself think.

Friday, October 21

NBA Dress Code

The NBA would like its multi-million dollar employees to look a little more like professionals and little less like teenagers or gangstas. How outrageous! How un-American! Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets protests the change "unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes". Excuse me?? Are you serious?? Your recent 50 million dollar contract does not supply enough pocket change to buy a pair of Dockers?
The NBA's new off-the-court dress code bans sleeveless shirts, jerseys, T-shirts, sneakers, shorts, headgear, sunglasses indoors and "bling," including chains, pendants or medallions. Players are required to wear "dress" shirts (either collared or turtleneck), shoes, slacks or jeans. Players out of uniform on the bench must add a sport coat as well.
NBA players (the whiny ones), I'm afraid that your cries of lament will fall on the deaf ears of all of the polyester-wearing service workers, the three-piece-suit accountants and all other folks who are expected to dress in a way that will encourage grown-up behavior on the job. We can't hear you - we are too busy working.

Wednesday, October 19

Discipline Cont'.

Thanks for all the great feedback! I should have known my incredibly wise sister-in-law would give us a gold nugget:
For me, the answer to "why be disciplined" would be "to remember and practice my need for Him and His control in my spirit, mind and body." We are all controlled by something...self, Him, career, food,money...Discipline is choosing what has control...practicing that choice daily and declaring what that choice is with the outcomes.
That is right on the money, Cheryl (no pun intended...get it?..Cheryl Money?? (her maiden name)...right on the money?..). What has control of my life? Why am I making the choices I make? Yes, I can be a good person and choose to drink ten Dr Pepper's per day (I don't, by the way), but why do I make those ten choices? Probably out of a desire that stems from...I don't know...something not good. Probably selfishness. Maybe addiction.

Ryan also said something that resonated strongly with me:
To me trying to be disciplined by seeking to have perfect discipline's is like seekeing perfection from sin only attainable by the grace of God. We can't do it. It doesn't mean don't seek disciplines that help this process.
A wise person told me (whenever I reference a wise person, you can fill in "Allan") that will power is not strong enough to alter most habits. Motivation is the crucial question. I know that I will most likely get diabetes, since pretty much everyone I'm related to gets it. Yet I do not have a disciplined approach to exercise right now. The prospect of death or blindness or losing my feet should be enough of a motivator, but it doesn't get my running shoes on each day. Pouring over God's word night and day leads to all sorts of good things in my life, yet it remains a sporadic habit, at best.

Ryan, Foster's Celebration of Discipline is a must-read! That book has probably effected our family more than any other besides the Bible and Hooray for Wodney Wat.

Okay, long posts are annoying, so I will stop for now. I want to talk more about motivation for discipline (what actually works) and what started this whole line of thinking for me later. And please keeping giving your feedback! I truly am wrestling with this and desire to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 18


I have been thinking about discipline a lot lately. Not the IF YOU CHOOSE TO HIT YOUR BROTHER WITH THAT RUBBER HIPPO YOU ARE CHOOSING TO NOT PLAY WITH IT FOR THE REST OF THE MONTH kind of discipline, but the...other one. You know, the one that comes from deep within. It is managed by you alone; you are the master and commander. Kind of. That's what I have been thinking about really. What is discipline? And how can a person become a "disciplined person" (because it does not seem to be something we are naturally born with)?

Someone wise recently said that discipline is making the right choice when faced with all of life's little decisions. Should I hit the snooze or sleep another 15? Should I read Time magazie or my Bible (one I face each day, since those two sit in the center of my table)? Coke or water? Exercise or rest? Making a wise choice in one of those areas seems worth wildly cheering, for most of us. At what point does one become a "disciplined person"? If I make all the right choices with food, study, relationships, exercise, but I smoke, am I an undiscipined person?

And I guess the real question for me is...does it matter? Why is it important to be a disciplined person? Can't I be a really good person, with good relationships and a healthy life in Christ and drink ten Dr. Peppers a day?

Once I get my brain around why it is important to be disciplined, I have a trunkload of questions about motivation and practice. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 15

Pic of the Day

Pumpkin Patch - 4 copy
Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch, Saturday, October 15th, 2005

more photos here

Tuesday, October 11


Coming through the clouds, to the other side of an emotional event, one can see much more clearly. It is easy to offer excuses as to why feelings become so raw - physical exhaustion, pms, stress. I'm trying not to do that (although I have my excuses) as I look back on a night of lots of tears. I woke up the next morning, tired, but with greater insight and some messages from the Spirit to take to heart. I thought I would share what I wrote the other night (warning: it's a long one).
It's something like 1:30 in the morning, my last night in Nashville. I can't sleep because I am grieving; the tears have been flowing pretty freely and my chest aches with the feeling of a broken heart.

Seeing my Sri Lanka team was so good. In our short time together last winter, I came to respect, admire and appreciate the caring, dedicated professionals that they are. Some of those friendships formed quickly and deeply. Today we had to say good-bye again.

This weekend Sri Lanka has been in the forefront of my mind - the beauty of the people and the devastation of their lives. We looked at pictures again and told stories, rekindling all of the feelings that I felt so deeply there - joy and sadness, hope and hopelessness.

When Katrina hit the southern states, I did not react as I would have expected. I felt indifferent and very ashamed of that indifference. I didn't know what was wrong with me. Even in this blog, as I weakly expressed empathy for those who lost so much, I exclaimed defensiveness for the forgotten - those who still have not recovered from the tsunami.

Tonight, as I was feeling unidentified emotions but thinking about Sri Lanka, I asked myself, "What would I say to myself if I was my counselor?" And it all came pouring out. My indifference was for the protection of my heart. Katrina was touching a very painful space for me. As I walked on the coast in Galle, I had to step over the sandal of a little child who had probably been swept out to sea. In Jaffna, we drove by the bombed playground, temple and homes on our way to the coast where the houses were swept off of their foundations. The saris wrapped around the palm trees were not just lost laundry, they had been torn off of the bodies of women who were too afraid and too embarrassed to run from the waves. I sat mesmerized, staring at a train, where 1500 people, mostly children, drowned when they were trapped by the inescapable flood. The images of Katrina may have looked too familiar.

When we returned to the States, email conversations bounced around our team, talking about how each person was handling reentry (we received no debriefing at all from our organization either before we left or after our return). Understandably, everyone experienced and worked through their feelings in different ways. When I went to Sri Lanka (to work with orphans), it had been a mere six weeks or so since we had lost Ayannah (our almost-adopted daughter). Working with the children in Sri Lanka was very healing for me, in that sense. The Spirit kept giving me the message: You are made to love parentless children. The week I returned, we received a call from DHS, asking us if we would be willing to take a permanent placement for Ayannah's brand new biological brother. The chance to process my journey across the ocean was lost. We were thrown into a huge, immediate challenge that required all of my mental and emotional energy. [Ten days later, after we had decided "yes" and I had named him Samuel in my mind, DHS decided he needed to be placed in a different county.]

So tonight I grieve. I grieve for those children who danced for us. I grieve for those young professionals we trained who had never known life without war and then were expected to walk with the next generation through a new tragedy. I grieve for the fisherman whose boats were on the roads and in the trees. I grieve for the women who saris were wrapped around the trees.

And I grieve for families who lost loved ones in the south. I grieve for the old man who was stuck in his attic without food for eleven days. I grieve for the children who had been sent to Houston, only to have to be evacuated once again. I grieve for the poor who don't have the social capital necessary to even get back to the lifestyle they had before the storms. I grieve for the anger, the confusion, the loss and the pain.

Sunday, October 9

A Few Observations

I can't, in all fairness, claim that these observations are about the South in general, since, on this trip, I have been limited to the Opryland Hotel/ Opry Mills Mall/ Opryland Music Hall acreage and the big Baptist church across the highway. Here's some things I noticed about the area I visited:
  • In the mall here, there is a Saks Fifth Ave. outlet (where the first pair of rather ugly jeans I saw cost $119 -- at the outlet). There is also a Bass Store. Not a Bass shoe store, like we have. No, it is a Bass fishing store. All bass. All the time.
  • The men flirt a lot. A lot.
  • The women like sequins.
  • I was going to be disappointed, since as of Saturday night I had not seen a bone-fide cowboy here in Nashville (that's pronounced Nashvul, BTW). All I needed to do was park myself outside of the Music Hall and, lo and behold, here they come! I don't know really how bone-fide they were, but at least they had the obligatory cowboy hat, boots and big, dark mustache.
  • The people who work the little kiosks in the middle of the mall vie for one's attention like it is a third world market. "Ma'am, would you like to try this wig?" "Ma'am, why don't ya have a sit here and let me show you all these pretty necklaces." The ones who work in the stores hardly give you a glance.
  • They have these tour buses that will take you everywhere around, some for free, others for a lot of coins. We rode one last night to the mall, which took about ten minutes. We missed the last bus back, so we took a cab, which cost five of us $9. Tonight I decided to walk back and enjoy the night air. The end of the mall and one side of the hotel are about a city block apart. It just took the bus and cab all that time to drive all over the enormous parking lots and drop us at the far end of each building!
  • The weather is pretty schizophrenic. The first day it was just like my old Arkansas days (it's weird to think that I have ol' Arkansas days) -- so humid you could cut the air with a knife and something like 85 degrees at 11 p.m. Yesterday if rained. Today it is 60 degrees. It's hard to know what to wear.
  • Another reminder of Arkansas -- the crickets which are loud enough to drown out the noise of traffic.
  • People smoke here. A LOT. And inside restaurants, at that! Disgusting.
  • There are a lot of pregnant women at the Opryland Hotel. I don't know if there's some old wives tale about inducing birth here or what. Now that I think about it, there are a lot of brides here, as well. Maybe some connection there?
  • I knew I was in the South again, when I looked across the freeway and saw a Waffle House. sigh.
  • I walked at least twenty miles in the last four days. Two of those were intentional; the other 18 were spent thinking I was going the right way (have I mentioned that the Opryland complex is big?? The world's largest, by the way).
  • The Baptists were smart and put an enormous church building right across the freeway from Opryland. I did the best I could to figure out how to get to one of our mega-C of Cs, but none were in walking distance, that's for sure. So I trekked over to worship with our cousins across the way. It impressed the four people I met (one whom gave me a ride back after) that a Church of Christ girl would walk so far to go to church with the Baptists! I suggested they put a sky bridge in over the freeway, then they'd really have a chance to get some of that hotel traffic!
I'll post some photos after Allan gets back from D.C. with the card reader!

Saturday, October 8

The Power of Play

Play is a child's work and this is not a trivial pursuit.
- Alfred Adler, psychologist
Being around play therapists is a great experience that everyone really should try. There are few groups that exude such a great combination of warmth, friendliness, professionalism and passion. They love kids! They love playing! I have received more compliments (on anything from my hair to my Sri Lanka spiel) in the last two days than I had in the previous two years! That's good for the soul.

There is also something really wonderful about being with people who really "get it" about play therapy. The hundreds of folks sitting around me during lectures know how powerful, how logical, how instinctive it is to use play as the form of healing for children. I have never been a good salesperson, so many of my close friends even probably don't really "get" what I do or why I do it. It's refreshing to share that camaraderie.

So let me just say this for all of you who may have wondered (and I've not explained): Children communicate through play. Play is their natural language, their "first language" so to speak (so talk therapy to a child is like asking you to communicate your feelings in Spanish!). Toys are their words. In the environment of a play room, a caring, attentive play therapist reflects the child's (or children's' or adult's or senior's or group's) actions, aligns words to the child's feelings, offers alternatives for maladaptive behavior, models positive behavior and relationship and shows unconditional love and acceptance (unconditional positive regard for Rogerians). It's not just about reenacting a trauma with toys or even acting out one's feelings, it about exploring new ways of coping, thriving, hoping, relating.

It is truly amazing how it really works. Maybe sometime I'll post some examples of how I have seen the play therapy process "do magic". It is a privilege for me to get to be a part of that process with incredible, resilient children. They let me in to their dreams and fantasies, their nightmares and fears, their joy, anger, frustration, loneliness, confusion. I don't take it lightly. It is a gift.

I'll post pictures of the trip and write more about the conference in the days to come!

Thursday, October 6

What To Do Next?...

I am on flight from Dallas to Nashville now. I am heading to the Opryland Hotel for the International Play Therapy Conference. I am looking forward to seeing some peers from my Sri Lanka trip and listening to great visionaries in this field. But, I have to admit, this is also a little vacation for me. Eighty-eight hours of freedom from dressing, feeding and changing the stinkiness of little people. Eighty-eight hours to blend in to the scenery, to sit back and engage with others as I please. Eighty-eight hours with no updates on peers' marriage or child issues, no crisis management, no PUMP decisions to make.

Don't get me wrong...I love my life, very much. It won't take long for me to miss little arms wrapped around my neck with an "I love you, mommy!" followed close behind. I would rather be spending these 88 hours with my husband (preferably in Nashville or D.C., where he is right now) than to even have the gift of anonymity. I care deeply for my friends marriages and for their children. My ministry at PUMP rivals no other with a deep sense of purpose and a revival of direction.

All of those people and activities will be there when I get back on Sunday night. But the next 88 hours are mine to play with...

Tuesday, October 4

Ten Years and Counting...

This week my brother and sister-in-law celebrate ten years living as missionaries in Fort Portal, Uganda. TEN YEARS! That's a long time, and bless their loving and faithful souls, they have no intention of leaving any day soon. Granted, it's not like they are living in a dry and barren land. On the contrary, Uganda is an incredibly beautiful country, with amazing, fun, engaging people. I cannot wait to get back there someday. But they have missed some big things, or at least saw them through a different world view. When Jeff & Cheryl left for Uganda:
No blogging? What did we do with all of that extra time?
Congratulations on ten great years, Jeff & Cheryl (and Kinley, Alex, Isaac & Silas)!

Sunday, October 2

Castle Creation

I just have to share this picture of the cake that my sister-in-law, Koni, my mom and I made for Trinity's "Princess Party" last week. It scares me how I see aspects of my mom shining through me as I get older - not because I don't want to be like her, but because I could never keep up with the precedences she has set! She whips this kind of thing together (along with candlelight dinners each night, a garden worth showing in Sunset magazine...) like I make a bowl of cereal.

Friday, September 30

It's Raining, It's Pouring

I love the rain. It really feels like fall is here now. I noticed yesterday that the leaves were beginning to accumulate under the trees at the park. The grey cloud cover feels like a giant, cozy comforter for the city. The rhythmic patter of raindrops hitting the roof and windowsills sends my soul into a deep place of calm and relaxation. It's a beautiful day.

Thursday, September 29

Five Years Old

Dear Trinity,
You have always been our miracle baby. When we were unsure if we would get to have children, the Lord blessed us in a mighty and miraculous way by entrusting us with...you. I love to tell you the story of how the Lord looked around heaven, until he saw his most beautiful, sweet and precious angel. "Who needs to receive this special gift from me? Who will see what a blessing she is?" And then He saw your daddy and me and how much we desired an angel to to take of.
The day we found out you were going to join us was truly the most joyful of my life. It is one of the few times I have genuinely cried tears of joy.
So here we are, five years down the road. You continue to amaze us with your gentle and sweet spirit (except during wrestling matches and choosing clothes for the day!). We are humbled that the Lord allows us the gift of parenting you. Thank you for being patient with us (we're trying to figure out this parenting thing as we go along), for being a great sister and friend and for being so dang lovable.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Tuesday, September 27

Fall Play Day

Fall Play
Fall Play
Fall Play
Trinity & Connor playing with our friends, Aunika & Cash on a perfect fall day.

Monday, September 26

Third Day

Allan and I got to see Third Day in concert this weekend - thank you, Kymm!! It was really fun and something we needed (a night out, with just the two of us??). Allan and I do not really share a similiar taste in music, but we both love Third Day. They did not disappoint! They have an amazing gift, not only musically, but in bringing a large audience to a place of reverant worship. Their next album sounds really great - Allan really liked one titled, "Light at the End of the Tunnel"; "Cry Out to Jesus" is amazing (you can download it off of their site); and they have one about communion that was really beautiful. *sigh*

Thursday, September 22

Pic of the Day

Is that not the cutest thing? The nephews got lice, so my brother helped up the brave factor by getting his head shaved first. What a good daddy!

Tuesday, September 20

Such Decadence

We order cable internet at our house (yay!), and they are attempting to lure us by throwing in three months of full cable t.v., as well. I began to visualize myself wasting the days away. The History Channel! The Discovery Channel! ESPN! But I swear to you that, no sooner than the cable man had walked out our front door, did our little, pathetic television flicker its last image. NOOOO! Now we had to live in our house, knowing there were images of battling ships, clashing football helmets and all the 80s movies we could ever desire living within the wires of the walls, but not being allowed to fulfil their t.v. destiny. So off to Costco to purchase a gigantic replacement for the remains of the set now housed on the floor of my bedroom. Man in line at the pharmacy counter: "Ohhh, I have been wanting that very set. I am so jealous!" Man on the snack aisle: "*sigh* Can you put that in my car??" And man behind me in line: "Oh, I want that!" Feeling a bit defensive at my indulgent purchase, I reply, "Our t.v. went out, and tonight is Monday Night Football, so I had to get a replacement!" Man now faces his wife: "Did you hear that?? She is buying that t.v. for her husband before Monday Night Football." "I never said you couldn't have a new t.v." "Yes, but she's buying it for him!" Over the arguing, they never even heard my whimpering reply: "My husband plays volleyball on Mondays. The Monday Night Football is for me."

Monday, September 19

Age of Consent

Today I read some good news. After much outcry, a decision made earlier this week by the Sri Lankan cabinet to to lower the age of sexual consent to thirteen (!!) was reversed. This was their logic in making the original change:
...the move to reduce it from 16 is a consequence of rising numbers of arrests of men for sexual relations with girls below that age.
OH, MY GOODNESS! It makes me truly nauseated. Sin so twists people's minds that these people actually found the solution to so many men being arrested for having sex with children was to no longer make it illegal! Oh, Lord, have mercy on us.

Sunday, September 18

Today my family had the great opportunity to worship with a new church plant, Renovatus, in Clark County, Washington. Next week is their big kick-off week, so they brought friends in to pray over the ministry. Allan and I enjoyed praying for the children of their church family by name, asking the Lord to bless their journey as young missionaries. It was encouraging to us to be amongst this family of believers. They have a fresh, exciting, Spirit-led ministry that will undoubtedly thrive under the guidance of the Lord. I am proud of Kevin, Brenda, Kirk, Natalie and the others who have taken this step of faith. I pray that next week and the weeks and years to come are amazing stories of the faithfulness and grace of God for this church!

Saturday, September 17

Autumn On The Horizon

Autumn is on the horizon, I can tell
By the colored leaves that fell,
While all around the land was green,
The change in the season hardly seen.

Autumn is on the horizon, I can tell,
Orchard trees are fruitless as well.
Their outstretched boughs as if in a spell
As the succulent leaves begin to pale.

Autumn is on the horizon, I can tell,
Birds not singing on the porch rail
Sensing the coming of the autumn chill,
Prepare to flock on the nearby hill.

Autumn is on the horizon, I can tell
Seeing woolly caterpillars on the boarded well,
Squirrels scurrying across the ground
Where hickory nuts now abound.

Autumn is coming soon, if one believes,
The land will be covered with a blanket of leaves.
Flowers wilting beneath the hazy sky,
No longer attracting a beautiful butterfly.

Joseph T. Renaldi

Thursday, September 15

Jason to the Rescue!

Our good friend Jason Hill and several other great Northwest folks are on their way down to the Gulf region to help in clean-up efforts. Please pray for them on their journey and check out his blog, which he is keeping updated from the road: Jason's blog.

Wednesday, September 14

First Day of School

My little girl held my handing, skipping along the sidewalk all the way to her new school, Woodlawn Elementary. Her teacher had come to our house last week to meet Trinity, so there was lots of chatter about what Miss Aubrey would do during the day. I'm going to ask Miss Aubrey if we can go out on the playground today! There are twenty or so little munchkins in her class, some dealing with leaving mom or dad better than others. It is a great cultural mix - probably seven Hispanic, seven black and five white. Her first day of pre-k was a success; she questioned all morning about when it would be time to head to school again!

Tuesday, September 13


I've been thinking about my friends lately and what a gift from God good friends really are. One week recently had me connecting with many of these treasured people.

You know those friends that you don't see very often anymore, but when you are together you can pick up right where you left off? That is Scott & Laura and Tony & Jennifer for us. Our friendships go back to pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre-Boston, London & New Jersey. The inside jokes that still crack us up date back a decade or so; I look forward to laughing at those same jokes when our grandkids are running around us.

E-mail reconnected me with three buds who had incredible impact on my life from elementary school through high school graduation. Lisa, Lezlie, Kristin and I are terrible at keeping our communication current. I miss them; they make me a better person.

I called my college roommate Jeannette on a drive home when I realized that I was actually alone in the car! We filled each other in on all of our old college friends - Carolyn, Kaylene, Susan, Lori, Mandy. It's hard to believe it's been so long since our Harding days.

Moving is one of those life events that brings out the heartiest of peers! Jason & Christa moved us into our first house six years ago; they once again demonstrated their capacity to be abused by us. Ike, Kealea, Andrew, Aimee & Lanny also added their muscles to making our house our home. And a number of our PUMP friends provided meals for us that first week we were in our house.

There are many, many others who I am thankful to count as friends. If you are reading this blog, you are probably one of them! Thanks, friend. :-)

Tuesday, September 6

Mixed Emotions

Every place you turn these days the aftermath of the hurricane is in view - every website, blog, newspaper, magazine and news program bombards ones senses with the turmoil in the south.

In reaction to the cries that relief did not come fast enough, my brother speaks in his blog about immense world-wide suffering, some of which he sees first-hand in Africa. I have found myself feeling a similar reaction. Many of the people whom I worked with in Sri Lanka have yet to receive aid after the tsunami of last December! We are a spoiled nation. We cannot fathom that an event could take place in which our discomfort cannot immediately be relieved.

By no means am I suggesting that we accept incompetent leadership or poor planning or that any of the suffering being experienced in the south is justified or necessary. Right now, though, we need to stop all of the finger-pointing and ugly talk and spend our time as a country equally on our knees in prayer and ankle-deep in mud helping those who are hurting.

There are a lot of people who are doing just that. There are Christians all over the country who are opening their homes, their churches, their hearts, hands and wallets to be who they have been called to be. This is why we are here - to provide opportunity for God's glory to be showcased. Thank you to all who are serving in this special way.

Wednesday, August 31


Being in a state of transition, we have not had a television set up yet in our new house (now the debate - should we or should we not??). This has kept us pretty alienated from the storm in the south. Allan and I are both news junkies, so we have kept up on the words of description, but there is nothing like seeing the pictures of pain to spur one's heart to prayer or action or empathy.

I read this response to a post on Mike Cope's blog today and thought it was very profound.
Does anyone ever notice that in most of our hymn books, and especially in the age of praise, that there is little songs of lament. One thing we as Christians need to do is lament, complain to God why this has happened, complain why tragedy must occur and why it seems that those who have the least are the ones suffering the most. As we lament, we then can, as Israel did in their Psalms of lament, hope and anticipate the redemption of God once again from this great, great tragedy. ...And maybe our prayers of lament will also move us to help in what ever means become available to us. God bless!

Saturday, August 27

Little Joys

We are settling into our new home. We have more home improvement projects than there are types of drills at Home Depot. There are moments when that realization causes a paralysis - what do I start on next?! Yet, amongst the half-empty boxes scattered everywhere, the bare walls, the painfully cracked driveway, the hideously ugly bathroom and fence that needs to be moved, I find joy in little aspects of our new home. One word: dishwasher. For the last six years I have had permanent prune-tipped fingers from hours of soaking in Palmolive. Surveys often show that couples fight about two main things: sex and money. Not us. Ours was dirty dishes. Satan found his foothold in my need to have order before retiring for the night and Allan's need to have the dish fairies take care of the evening cleaning. Getting a beautiful, shiny chrome dish drainer and a better attitude helped immensely the last year at our old house. Ah, but now we have a dishwasher. It's truly a thing of beauty and a gift from God.

Friday, August 19

I've Been Tagged...

Several days ago, Rebecca tagged me, saying I need to share my top ten music loves of the moment. This was a hard task for me; I just don't pay attention to who sings what! So I did a little research and annoyed my husband incessantly until I came up with this:
  • Warning Sign, Coldplay
  • One, Johnny Cash
  • Beautiful Day, U2
  • What Am I To You?, Norah Jones
  • Ode To My Family, The Cranberries
  • God Of Wonders, Third Day
  • Burn for You, Toby Mac
  • Sitting, Waiting, Wishing, Jack Johnson
  • 100 Year, Five For Fighting
  • Where Is The Love?, Blackeyed Peas
So, my dear fellow bloggers, I now tag Amanda, Emily, Allan, Jason & Cheryl. Remember to give your list and tag five more unsuspecting readers!

I, Kristi, take you, Allan, to be my beloved husband...

Tenth Anniversary
Ten years later and I love, respect, honor and adore you more than I ever thought possible. Thank you for loving me completely.

Tuesday, August 16

Summer Bliss

Things I love about summer...
  • fresh blackberries on my cereal
  • drying my kids off after they have insanely been jumping in the Arctic waves of the Pacific Ocean (I totally did the same thing as a child)
  • pulling weeds
  • picking blueberries (the easiest of the NW berries to pick - natural shade, no stooping & no thorns)
  • watching dragonflies and butterflies dance in the flowers
  • napping on the beach
  • the sunsets
  • barbecued corn on the cob
  • wearing sunglasses & flip-flops
  • sunlight until 10 p.m.
  • nothing on t.v. worth watching (both a love and a hate)
  • ice cream cones
  • hiking Powell Butte with my family
  • ice tea
  • watching my husband mow the lawn
  • the stars


Thursday, August 11

Marriage Bliss

I have been vindicated. Isn't it great when you really screw up, but then someone comes along and wipes it from memory with their own transgression?

As you know, we have recently acquired a little house. We are in that limbo stage of getting the house ready enough to move in, all the while biting our nails in anticipation of actually spending a night there. So, at the end of a long day, I carefully locked all of the windows and bolted the front door (we are in NE) before exiting the side door. Then Allan asked the question that made me want to beat my head bloody against the nice tan, vinyl siding of our new abode: You grabbed the keys, right? And, to remind you, I have just carefully secured the house into a Fort Knox-like structure. I really hate messing up; I generally try to avoid it. But, I have to tell you, the thing that really bugged me about this was that I could tell Allan was mad. No empathy, no it's okay honey - these things happen. Nada. Just a wisp of steam coming out of his ears as we drove back to my parent's home for the night.

Cut scene to the next afternoon. After paying Hamid $45 to jimmy my front door open in all of about ten seconds, I worked terribly hard all day turning the Santa Fe burnt orange and turquoise living room into a pleasant sage green. I had enjoyed the quiet, sans kids day of listening to NPR while working on my larger-than-life canvas. Knowing that I would have to live with my work for some time, I was as careful as one could be to not get a blip of that paint on the carpet (do you see where this is heading?) When he joined me at the end of the day, my dear husband did a great job of oohing and aahing over my work of art. He began to swiftly move across the room to point something out, when in slow-motion, I saw that he was about to field-kick the can of sage green paint that was sitting in the middle of the room to Timbuktu. My svelete ninja-like reaction was to simultaneously suck all of air out of the room with the most earth-trembling gasp you have ever witnessed, while covering my eyes with both hands. And that is where I stayed for quite some time. I couldn't look. I knew from the colorful words bouncing off of the fresh paint that danger had not been averted.

What was that about locking the keys in the house?

Monday, August 8

Uganda Missions Blog

My brother, Jeff Cash, and his family live in Ft. Portal, Uganda, East Africa, where they have been serving as missionaries for the past ten years. He has recently started a blog (he still wants to be like little sister), which I can say without hesitation, will be worth anyone's time to keep up with. Jeff is one of the most gifted storytellers I know. He's also fairly crazy, getting into dire straits that most of us would only have nightmares about - which will keep the entertainment value high as well!

Sunday, August 7

Connor Update

The last few days have revolved around a certain, adorable two-year-old boy. We had the ER visit after he hurt himself Wednesday night, we saw a specialist on Friday morning and they scheduled his "surgery" for 9:00 Friday night. That's a lot of trauma for a little guy!

They gave him a dose of something that made him very relaxed...and I mean, very relaxed. "Heeey, daddyyy! You're heavyyy." It was funny, but rather disturbing, to see my toddler stoned. It did make the handoff to the strange people much less anxiety provoking. Allan and I had not even settled on a t.v. show in the lobby ("ooh, ooh, cable!") when the doctor came to tell us everything was good. Connor woke up very mad and was inconsolable until we got him back to a Thomas the Tank Engine movie in his room. A popsicle, a few vitals and some wiggling fingers and we were headed back home.

He's doing well with his heavy arm now. Nighttime is the only trouble area, as I'm sure it's hard for him to get comfortable. Thanks for the prayers!

Friday, August 5

A Little Spill

Connor's broken arm - 1

This temporary residence that we call Earth is a violent, cold world, especially for a toddler. One day you are innocent, running amuck and diverting obstacles and danger without even being aware of their presence. Your greatest daily worry is that someone may knock your Thomas train off of its miniature little tracks. Your biggest decision of the moment is whether to dig gigantic holes in the plethora of mole mounds scattered throughout the yard or to practice the fine art of precision bubble-blowing.

My little man finally met his match. How was he to know that his slight two-year old body was no match for the onslaught of three-, four- and five-year-olds (not to mention the one twenty-seven year old), rolling like an unstoppable locomotive down the grassy embankment in a heap of arms, elbows and knees? Connor's cry of pain temporarily overshadowed by the callous and unknowing shrieks of laughter, he experienced in that moment the loneliness and betrayal reserved for those sailors lost adrift at sea or the lone mountain-climber wandering, having been separated during a blinding snowstorm from his party, his security, his future.

Connor has a broken arm - fractures in both bones of his forearm. Quite a bummer, to say the least. He is in a splint and sling now ("Take it off, Mommy!"); tomorrow we will visit the orthopedic surgeon to determine how it needs to be set and cast.

Tuesday, August 2

Home Sweet Home...Finally!

After an almost year-long pregnancy and a delivery that seemed to go on forever, Allan, the kids & I are the proud parents of a beautiful new house! It is a nice little place, with room for us to make improvements and add our personal touches. What makes this place just right for us, though, is we are now just three short blocks from PUMP and within short walking distance from so many of our friends: Lanny, Suzy & the girls; Andrew & Aimee; Ike, Kaelea & the kids; Steve, Alasha & Jonah; Amanda; Billy, Brenda & Jacob; and other PUMP folks. We are really excited to be in close proximity with these folks who mean so much to us.

Come visit us! If you come any time soon, feel free to bring along a paint brush or a hammer and we'll visit while we work!

Friday, July 29

Supreme Court Newbie

The Supreme Court does not have a lot of turnover, and the last couple of decades have been even more consistent. Not since the 1820s has the court gone so long without a change in face. As this is first change in the court in my adult life, I have been interested in where it is going. From what I have gathered, the new Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, is the greatest thing since the invention of disposable diapers! Even the generally Bush-critical Time magazine could find no ill to post on this guy.

Which brings me my deep thought of the day. Is the Constitution a "living document" or should it be interpreted according to the wishes of the founding fathers? For example, when the guys in white wigs stated that we have a right to bear arms, were they stating that all people at all time should be free to carry weapons? At the time they were dealing with, you know, making and defending a new country. Probably not dealing so much with the meth-addicted crazy dude breaking into the shed next door with his big ol' gun in order to steal my neighbor's priceless scrap metal.

Shoot - here comes another deep thought. This question painfully reminds me of our religious debates. Is the Bible a "living document" or should it be interpreted literally as stated by its first century authors? What was culturally influenced? Is it the letter of the law or the heart of the law that should be upheld?

It's an interesting parallel between two documents that so many people in our country rabidly attempt to keep out of the same discussion.