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.