Friday, December 12, 2008

Fog Delays!

My friends in Bakersfield probably do not care about this blog, but for my friends other places, I must share something that I find very interesting about Bakersfield . . .

Just like those of you in Oklahoma who have children in school have snow delays, we have fog delays. Yes, fog delays. We did have a couple last year, so this is not new information to me, but I never thought much about it last year. I think we only had three total, and they were pretty far apart. And the first two, we did not even know and sent our children to school anyway. After the second time, Jason came home and said his teacher said not to come in. Classrooms are still open because technically it is only a bus delay, but the teachers cannot teach regular curriculum because the students who come late cannot be forced to make up the work, so they have to do something to keep kids busy that has nothing to do with regular classroom learning. We are actually far enough for a bus (but that is funny in itself because we are so close to the school, and the kids have never ridden the bus in the morning), so my kids count in the bus delay. Plus, they do not check attendance until after 10:00, so many people keep their kids home.

Well, this year has been completely different from last year, and I have a new appreciation for fog delays. We have had at least one fog delay each week for the past four or five weeks, and both last week and this week we had two. The fog is crazy. I leave for work at 6:25, and it is unbelievable. I wish I could get above it and take a picture to show you. Some of the mornings I have not been able to see the houses across the street. I have to drive very slowly because I am almost at an intersection before I see the stoplight. I guess I probably should just stay home.

Who knew there was somewhere in the world that delayed school because of fog?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

He's sweet, He's ornery!

I think they go hand in hand. I've said before that David is about the most loving child there is, but he is also the most trying in my house!!!! Here are a couple stories!!!

Last night we stopped at Target to let each of the kids choose a Christmas Tree ornament. Everyone was walking around looking for what they wanted. After a few minutes, David walked up to me holding a pretty ornament, but not one that a five year old boy would normally choose. I should put up a picture. He said he wanted that one, so I asked why he chose it, and he said, "Because it was all alone." Apparently, he found it by itself on a shelf where it did not belong. He seemed genuinely sad for the ornament, and he was set on getting it. I was a little nervous because it is glass, but he wanted to carry it, not put it in the cart. So the other three kids continued to walk around looking for their ornaments. They chose Winnie the Pooh and Charlie Brown (Jason has yet to choose.) In the process of waiting, David saw other ornaments that caught his eye, but he continued to hold that other one. At some point, he walked up to me with a sad look and said he changed his mind. I hadn't heard glass shatter, but the way he talked and looked, I was certain he broke the ornament, so I had him show me where it was. With a very sullen face, he walked over to a shelf, sat down and pointed. There was the gold ornament, sitting along again. David looked like he was about to cry. It was evident to Brent and I that he wanted a fun ornament, but was broken hearted about this one being alone. I don't know if this is where he found the ornament to begin with, but I think it may have been. It just about brought me to tears. Needless to say, we came home with the gold ball ornament AND a star wars ornament!!!!

A few minutes ago, I asked David what he wanted for lunch. He said he wanted to make his own. He likes to be so independent because of his brothers. I said he could look in the refrigerator and let me know what he was going to make. He got out the buns and came in asking about pepperonis, which we do not have, so I told him that. He left and went back into the kitchen. A couple minutes later I went in to check on him. I found him sitting on the floor scooping Cool Whip into a bowl! He was prepared to eat Cool Whip for lunch. No more lunch making for David for a while!!!!

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. I will post some pics of our time in San Diego. We had a nice day with my family, then we enjoyed Wild Animal Park yesterday before returning home!! Now, it is a busy day preparing for tomorrow!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cutie Patootie!!!

Okay, I really don't know where that saying came from or if I am even spelling Patootie right, but I have a funny story about Sarah!!!

This morning I was brushing her hair and helping her with her teeth, and she was just looking so darn cute! I looked at her and said, "You are such a Cutie Patootie!" She said, "I not a cutie patooo - what you call me?" So I said, "A cutie patootie." She said, "I not a cutie patootie." I said, "Yes you are." She followed with, "No I not, I don't toot!" I held off on the conversation about honesty because I was laughing so hard!!! It's funny what our little sayings bring to the mind of a three year old!! Whatever she says, she is adorable - definitely a cutie, but maybe I will leave off the patootie part next time I am talking to her about it!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Week

I haven't been blogging too much lately - just too much going on. And I realized that my last few posts, with the exception of the seven random things post have been kind of downers. I don't like that because really things are good. And I don't want people not to realize that because the few times that I take a moment to write are moments that I'm not feeling so great. I am making a point to write today because I really feel encouraged. God is amazing! He does amazing things in my life, and it's no good not to mention the good things.

This was a pretty good week. Here are a few of the highlights.

I really am liking my job. The people are super, and I am learning and beginning to understand more, though I do have a long ways to go yet.

Though David has been exceptionally on the hyper side lately, he is doing better academically, at least from my perspective. Letter sounds are starting to mean more to him. He is great at sight words, and his phonics are coming along.

Jason has completely caught up in his reading level. His teacher tested him last week, and he is reading at exactly the right level. I'm not real big on tracking levels because all kids do things at different paces, but this is a big deal when you consider where he is compared to a year ago. We discontinued his tutoring, at least for the time being. Mostly because of scheduling conflicts, but we wouldn't have been able to if he had not made so much progress.

We have continued to have visitors at church, and Brent was very encouraged by this morning's lesson. Most of the people in our church have more than two kids, so the numbers add up quickly. Jill and I had 8 3-6 year olds today and two babies. We had to pull someone to come and give us a hand with the older kids (7-12), and thankfully we had someone who was willing!

I had a nice lunch with my friend Jill yesterday. It's just nice to sit and talk without our kids playing loud or fighting with each other!

Then last night I had a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with my mom's group. It was nice to chat with friends and eat amazing food!

James went to Acquire the Fire with the youth group this weekend. Kevin took four boys. There were several instances of touched hearts, and one of the boys accepted the Lord for the first time!!!!! We are so excited!

Tomorrow night I start a Bible study with a few ladies from our church. The two ladies who requested we start a Bible study came to our launch service after having not been in church ever or in many, many years.

We had a nice family day to the LA Zoo this week. The kids were out of school for Veteran's Day, so I switched my work schedule so I could have the same day off. We had a nice time.

I'm sure there are many more great things that happened this week, but these are the things that stick out!! I'm ready to see what is in store this week. Hope everyone else had a good week, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seven Random Things About Me

I've been tagged and need to tell seven random things about myself, so here goes.

1. I was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 17 - kind of a rough time to not be able to drive and to mess with medications. There are parts of my senior year of high school that I do not remember because of medication reactions. YUCK! But it all worked out, and I have now been seizure free for almost 10 years.

2. I had two marriage proposals (if you want to call them that - certainly not romantic ones) before Brent, and before I was even 19 years old.

3. At the point of graduation from high school, I really thought I wanted to be a chemist. How in the world did I become a social worker? I can't even answer that, except to say that God knew what He was doing, and somehow I wandered down a path of classes that led me to an internship at DHS, which I loved.

4. I went to 12 or 13 schools before I finished high school. By the time I was through my sophomore year in college, I had lived in Bartlesville longer than anywhere else consecutively. I actually lived in El Paso, Texas, for four years, but not consecutively. And, no, my parents were not in the military.

5. When Brent was trying to propose to me, I caused a fight. It's a good story. For more laughter, you will have to ask him to tell the story rather than me.

6. I absolutely love ice cream, and as silly as it may seem, especially those king size drumsticks - vanilla with chocolate swirls.

7. I do not like to cook. Actually, I guess I don't mind cooking, but the whole process from start to finish drives me crazy, especially when it only takes a few short minutes to eat.

Okay, I tag Courtney, Kylee Colaw, and Vickie

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lots of New Things

For those of you who do not know, I have been looking and looking for a job for several months. It kept seeming that doors would open and then slam shut. Well, last week I finally started a job. And it is completely new to me. I am working for Chevron with the title of engineering assistant. I wish I could tell you more of what that means, but basically, I just do whatever I am told. So far it has consisted of data entry and printing a lot of maps. The job just fell into place. I have a friend here, and her mother was looking to hire someone, and I was the person she decided to hire. I knew her mother some, from going to different family events. She is very nice and great to work for. All of the people in my office are very nice . . . and very patient with me as I learn! Also, my boss is from Bartlesville originally, though she has been in Bakersfield since she was about five years old. Kind of fun!!! I am working three days a week, and they are flexible. Normally I am working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 7:00 to 4:00. I love getting off work early, but the mornings are just about to kill me!!! I am absolutely not a morning person. However, I am so thankful for God's provision.

It has been a rough week, though. To start things off, on Wednesday, we locked ourselves completely out of our house. Later that evening, we found out something one of our kids did that was incredibly shocking and disappointing - don't want to get into the details, but we have dealt with it much of the rest of the week. I don't want anyone to worry, everyone is fine, but there were some tough lessons to learn and probably to still be learned. I am mostly not saying anything because it would not please the child who made the mistake. Then, on Thursday night, Sarah cut her own hair. While she did a nice job overall, she has bangs, which just makes me sad. I have worked hard to keep her from having bangs. Then on Friday, we got a phone call from the fraud department of our credit card company verifying some charges. Our card number had been stolen, and several charges were made. One, in particular, was a charge of over $600.00 to a florist. I'm glad the fraud department caught it and that we don't have to pay it, so really it was not that big of a deal, but still a bummer.

While most of this is little, add it all to the busyness in our lives and the stress of church planting, and it was a hard week. I spent a lot of time wondering what we are doing and having a lot of doubts. Why are we here? Why did God choose us to do this? Is this really what He wants us to do?

As I was trying to pray on Wednesday evening, my mind kept wandering, and I was frustrated. However, it did wander to Scripture, I kept thinking of Isaiah 40:31, which says, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, and they shall walk and not faint." In another version, the word "wait" is "hope". The word "hope" means to trust in or look expectantly to. This caused me to look inward and consider, "What am I trusting in? What am I eagerly awaiting?" I have to keep my eyes on what is truly important and not lose sight of the one who gives me strength, who gives me endurance to run this race. I think my focus was on the wrong thing for several days, and this isn't the first time. I have got to constantly refocus on Jesus.

I really sensed God's presence as we dealt with stuff with our kids this week. No, we definitely did not do things perfectly. There were several times when voices were elevated and tempers were lost, but God gave us wisdom, and He put people in our lives to help us as we treaded on new territory, dealing with brand new issues. Parenting grows us as much as it grows the kids, in wisdom, in humility and in reliance on the Lord.

We ended the week on a good note, with a nice family night out to Chipotle (My Bartlesville friends - you really, really need one of these there!!!) and then bowling. And since we had the little kids, we bumper bowled, which is always nicer on the scoreboard!!! It was a nice Friday evening, and I am thankful for my family and thankful for the God that I serve and for His Word, which grants us wisdom and a better understand of who He is.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back in Time

I have seen so many amazing friends over the last 3 days, and I have enjoyed all of my time with each of them. Last night I was visiting with some of my old friends from Bartlesville! We were reminiscing about old times in college and beyond and just enjoying some good laughs. It was wonderful! While I am grateful for my new friends and relationships in Bakersfield, I really miss my friends here! It is stressful to come back for several reasons, but I think the biggest is that it reminds me of what I am missing. I can put it out of my mind when I am gone and busy. While I cannot imagine ever moving back, I really miss a lot of people.

Just driving around town takes me back through the past 17 years of my life - different memories pop into my mind as I pass different locations while driving down the road - from different places that Brent and I went when we were dating to old places of employment and old friends and fun memories I have with my kids. I think about all of it and remember so many good times. Mixed in with all of that were tough times, too, but I don't seem to remember those as much. I guess that is good.

Tonight I also heard some news that is still just making my stomach hurt. Things change so much in so little time. Sometimes I wish I could just go back to when things were simpler. I doubt back then they seemed simple, but right now my memories are simple. I remember life being slower and people being happier. I wonder in ten years if I will look back and see things that I am experiencing now differently than how I feel right now as I go through life. I wish I could take people back with me and remind them of what things looked like back then - marriages, friendships, work relationships. Change is good (although not all change), but change is also hard. Sometimes I wish some things didn't have to change so much.

And yet I know God allows change to grow us and to prepare us to do His work, so I know I must accept it and not dwell on what used to be.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pics from Palm Springs

Here are some pictures from my trip to Palm Springs with my grandmother, aunt and cousins - A girls weekend. We ate a lot of good food, got in some shopping, relaxed at the hotel, had manicures/pedicures, saw a movie and swam a little. It was so fun. I love being near them and being able to enjoy these times.




Saturday, September 20, 2008

Galatians 6:9

says, "Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Brent emailed me this verse earlier in the week. It has been a hard week this week. It seemed like there was discouragement all around us. Even as I type this we do not have a worship leader for tomorrow morning, which is only the icing on the cake. I have really felt like giving up. I know that is not what we are supposed to do, but I am weary. We had a couple visit our church last week who are interested in being church planters. They do not know us and yet they emailed saying they thought we seemed weary. I do not like it at all that people who visit our church can see that. And yet, aren't we supposed to be authentic? But, believe me, I was not trying to let that authenticity show. I have been praying through this all week, knowing that God is my strength. He carries us through these times that are so draining. This verse was an encouragement. Brent underlined the part that says "at the proper time." We don't know when that time is, but there is a time, and God does know it. I might add that we don't know what that harvest looks like either. Not all harvests are the same size. Our harvest could be a small one (like a garden grown in a backyard, rather than a farm!), I don't know, but I do know that I want to be obedient, and I certainly do not want to give up.

The sad part about the whole situation is that there have been so many encouraging things this week as well, but they have been hidden by the discouragement. So, for this moment, I want to document all the amazing things that God has done this week.

• Brent's parents were here this week. I cannot tell you what a blessing it is to have family here, and what a blessing it is that I have great in-laws! It was a very short and unexpected trip, but we enjoyed our 48 hours very much.

• Brent was able to share Jesus with our neighbors - the father, the mother, and the teenage son, and James invited the son to youth group, and he went. Hopefully they will be at church tomorrow.

• Speaking of James, he has been inviting lots and lots of kids to youth on Wednesday nights - I'm proud of him. And I am so thankful to Kevin who decided to lead a youth group, even though when he offered, James was the only teenager in the church.

• We had the opportunity to take the ministry vehicle to Cal State for the first week of classes and hand out ice cream as a support for Intervarsity. Brent was able to talk to some people about the church. There was also another man there who is planning to plant a church in the next few months, who we have become friends with who was also able to make an impact on the campus. The couple who leads Intervarsity stated they will be visiting church tomorrow.

• David's soccer coach from last year was married a while back. We have not had contact with her since last fall, but her new husband is now James soccer coach. They do not have a church and asked us about ours and stated they want to visit.

• I have another friend, who I have known for a few months who stated an interest in visiting also. She, too, is without a church home.

• Brent had his first men's breakfast this morning, and the guys had a great time sharing their stories with each other. Brent was encouraged greatly by this meeting.

• We will be having a women's night on Monday night in order to facilitate the women getting to know each other better. I'm looking forward to this. One of the women in the church took this on and has really done a great job of planning. Thanks Rhiannon!

• The people in our church are really neat, and we are enjoying getting to know them and learning about the way God has worked and is working in their lives. I am thankful for each and every person and am excited to be able to get to know them and have them get to know us better.

• Finally, a cool story . . . Last year we were at a birthday party and met this young couple who we visited with for a little while. A couple months ago we received a message from someone asking about the church. They just wanted to know what we believe and stuff like that. Brent called them back. They have a son, and she said they hadn't visited because services were at the same time as his nap, but they wanted to visit. They haven't come. Last night I was at a friend's house (the same friend from the birthday party a year ago) and there was this gal that Brent and I met last year. We spent the evening talking and hanging out. At some point she asked where we went to church so I told her. Can you believe it? In a city of 450,000+ people, this is the person who called about the church and the fact that her baby sleeps during service times. Isn't God amazing to put us where He puts us when He puts us there? They still have not found a church and have still been planning to attend, so I got to spend a little bit of time telling her about the church. She is nervous about leaving her son, but recently we put a speaker in a room just off the gym, with some toys and colors, for moms to use with their children as we have several who don't like to leave their kids. This sparked an even greater interest.

I post all this hesitantly. Who knows how many of the people I mentioned will visit and when, but what I am learning is that our timing means nothing. God's timing means everything. Only God could have facilitated that meeting last night. It's too cool! Even if they never visit our church, I hope God used us to plant seeds in each of these people's lives. I need to cling to Galatians 6:9, and I need to remember the positives when the negatives seem so big. In reality, there has been way more positive this week than negative, but I failed to see that initially. Please remind me of that when I am down and when I am tired. I need to press on and not grow weary while I wait for the proper timing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Family and Friends

I have felt incredibly blessed over the past few weeks to be able to spend great time with family and friends and am looking forward to Brent's parents visiting. They arrive tonight. First of all, I went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Lookout Mountain, Georgia, for Paige Weichbrodt's wedding. That is a beautiful part of our country that I had never seen. I enjoyed quality time with the Casselberry's, and had fun helping with the wedding. The Weichbrodt family was a little preoccupied, as they should have been, but they were still wonderful and encouraging, and it was fantastic to spend time with them, too. I especially enjoyed the late nights up talking with Caroline, the car ride from the airport with Zach and his girlfriend. Zach surprised me. I don't think I have had a real conversation with him since he became an adult. It was fun!! And the time I had with Becky Casselberry was wonderful. She is challenging and encouraging and makes me think. Plus, it's just fun to hear about her life!!! I also enjoyed seeing Covenant College - seeing Jonathan in his new place and getting to see Katie's dorm. I understand why several of the Weichbrodt and Casselberry kids have gone to school there. Caroline talks about the character of the students (and I am sure that is true and much more important) but it is also just beautiful. It was also very fun to be around Katie, even though my time with her was limited as she was trying to cover so many things at one time. Way to multi-task. I know she was tired, but she kept a beautiful smile and had a lot of fun. Thanks to all of you for letting me be apart of your families over the weekend and for the past 12 or so years.

Upon my return to California, the Rumph's were in Bakersfield. I knew that and thought I was going to miss them, but instead, we enjoyed the whole morning with them on Tuesday before they caught their plane. They were also able to attend church that Sunday, but I was not here. We were able to catch up and talk church stuff, as well as just stuff in the rest of our lives. Being around all three of these families did cause me to miss Bartlesville a bit, but more than that, it reminded me of how blessed I have been to have these families in my life. They are all such amazing role models! Thank you for involving us in your lives and in the lives of your kids. We feel so privileged to even know you!

The very next weekend after I returned from Tennessee, I met my grandmother, aunt and cousins in Palm Springs for a few days of shopping and just hanging out. We had a lot of great meals and spent as much time in whatever store we wanted without husbands or children hurrying us along. We played Uno, and Mary and I enjoyed the pool. We stayed in a nice hotel outside of Palm Springs. It was a nice, relaxing time.

A big thank you to Brent who was here alone two weekends in a row with the kids - not an easy thing these days! I am so thankful for the time away. It was refreshing. Now if Brent and I could just find time to get away together!

I don't have pictures as I didn't have my camera with me, but if you are on facebook, you can see pics from both weekends in my profile.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Sweet Jason!

This has not been the best week as far as my relationship with my older two kids. It seems that aliens have overtaken their bodies and caused them to make me crazy. They have been in a lot of trouble, just one thing after another - all little things in the whole scheme of life, but constant little things are frustrating. So, in the midst of all this, I was out for breakfast with my dear friend Amberly, who I so appreciate because I can tell her all my frustrations and my failures (in my parenting this week) and know that she still loves me and my boys. Thanks Amberly!!! As we were ending our time together this morning, she was telling me how great my boys are and just giving me a good reminder of that, which keeps things in perspective. As she was telling me that, I recalled a precious conversation I had with Jason last week and just wanted to post it, partly so I can refer back and remember and partly because it was just so wonderful!

We were in the car and for some reason we were talking about foreign exchange students. I said something about talking to James about those opportunities (not that I would really let him go, I don't think!!) because I think I would have liked that as a teenager had an opportunity posed itself. And James is a teenager now. Anyway, Jason said, "James would never go away for a year." We continued to talk about it for a few minutes, and he again said James would never go, so I asked him if he would, and he said he could never be away for that long. I said something like, "When you are older, you might think it would be fun. I would have enjoyed it when I was a teenager." To which he responded, "Mom, we are too connected to you to leave for so long."

I can't tell you how that warmed my heart. I know over the next seven years, he will grow and be ready to spread his wings and fly, but it brings me great joy that right now, he is so connected to us that he cannot fathom being anywhere else! What a sweet kid! I love him! I love them all, even when the weeks are difficult! This too will pass, but my relationship with my kids never will. They are still grounded, but I think after some time of venting with a friend and thinking through what's important, I owe them an apology and big hugs when they get home in a few minutes!!! Parenting is tough stuff! Those little glimpses that I am doing something right are precious!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Proved Him Right!

This evening while I was driving the kids home from swimming/gymnastics, James made the comment that he thinks technology makes us "dumber." His point being that we use so much technology that we don't have to use our brains like previous generations of people had to. I argued with him, though I did not have a good rebuttal. A few minutes ago, I was helping him with his algebra. I had no idea how to figure out the problem he was on, and none of the examples jogged my memory. In a very sweet voice, he said, "This is what I meant earlier when I said we are getting dumber. If you didn't have a computer to help you do all of this, I bet you would remember from when you were in school - no offense mom." I don't think he realized what he was saying until it had already left his mouth. Kind of funny! He caught me between a rock and a hard place because what I wanted to say is that I would never use that math even if there wasn't technology because, practically, it is unnecessary, but I don't want to say that and give him an argument for not liking math! I guess on some level he realizes it's not real practical because some where along the line he said, " . . . like when you do your taxes and stuff." I hope I am not making him seem sassy because he was really being sweet and just matter of fact in the conversation, not at all mouthy!

I don't know if James is right or not, but I definitely don't get an intelligence boost when I am helping the boys with math, either one of them, and Jason is only in 5th grade. And the thing is, I liked math and did well in it when I was in school. UGHH!!! How will I help them through high school, and how little will I remember when Sarah is going through all of this???

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Cool is Facebook!

Several months ago, our great friends, Jeff and Courtney, got us signed up with Facebook. Some of our younger friends laughed at us after we joined because we are not using it for the intended purpose. I guess it wasn't so much set up to find long lost friends as it was to see what is going on and when and where the next event is, but I love it for the purpose that I use it. I love it when I find people I haven't heard from in a long time.

Yesterday I located a friend from high school, who I had not had contact with in probably 16 years - she's a little younger than I am, so I mentioned to her that it was half of her lifetime ago. The last time I saw her, she visited me at college my Freshman year. Years ago, finding people like her was unheard of, and yet we connected yesterday and got caught up on each other's lives. I heard about how God has been working in her and shared about how He has been working in me. We have both had a significant amount of heartache in the past 16 years and some amazing joys as well! I love the internet, and I love Facebook! Just wanted to share this fun little connection in my life that makes me smile!

If you happen to read this, Jenn, I'm praying for you, and I am so excited to have connected!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School

Here are a few pictures of our first day of school, which went very well. The first two are taken at home before they left for the day.



This was in his classroom at his desk. It was hard to believe David was going to kindergarten. He really liked it. My favorite part of the day was picking him up. I asked him how it was, he said, "It was awesome! But I missed you mom!" It made my day. I couldn't have asked him to say anything more perfect.
Sarah missed him terribly. She kind of just moped around the house. At one point I asked if there was anything I could do for her, she said, "Go pick up David." It was sweet and sad. She did better today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pics from Avila Beach

Today we had a nice final family day before school starts - we went to Avila Beach, recommended by some friends. It was a really nice beach! The waves were not very big at all, which is a bummer for the older boys but nice for David and Sarah. While Sarah still wasn't sure about the water, she did get in up to her chest eventually. We had a lot of fun climbing in tide pools, finding sea urchins, swimming and digging deep holes. We finished with snow cones and a long walk down the pier. We had fun watching the pelicans diving straight down into the water after fish. I never realized that they sunk their whole bodies when they went after fish. It was fun to watch. We also saw a seal out in the water swimming. It was a fun day!












Friday, August 1, 2008

Yes, I'm Alive

Yesterday I received an email asking this question!!! It's nice to know someone was wondering! We have had a busy, but good week. I thought I would post some pics. We are really trying to do a good job of taking a Sabbath for our family. We really need it after the hard weeks that we have. So we have been trying to do Sunday afternoon through Monday morning or all day Monday or something. It is going to be more complicated when school starts, but right now it is working well. Often we are so tired on Sunday afternoon that we (Brent & I) just sleep, but this week we decided to go and see the Kern Canyon. We have heard it is beautiful, and it begins at the northeastern part of town, so there really was no reason that we hadn't seen it, so we headed up there, and ended up driving through the whole canyon up to Lake Isabella. We got some good pics of the day.
This is one picture of the Kern Canyon and the Kern River. We have heard that it is one of the steepest rivers in the world, as well as one of the deadliest. It is beautiful, though!
Jason on top of some rocks on the beach of Lake Isabella.
All the guys on top of some rocks that were actually out in the lake, but not very deep.
James at the base of those same rocks.
Here are the kids playing on the beach.
Our intention was not for them to swim. I looked at a map before we went up and did not see any swimming beaches, but people were swimming when we got there, so plans changed. The kids all got in in their clothes. Sarah traveled home in her carseat in only wet panties!!! We wanted to stop and get ice cream - we ended up going through a drive through! It was fun, though!




We finally had approval from the insurance company to fix the wrap on Kaleo's ice cream truck, so Monday we had to take the truck down to LA to be left there for the install. Brent drove down in the truck and we followed him to pick him up and decided to spend the afternoon at the beach. Jason reminded me a couple weeks ago that he hadn't been at all this summer. If we are going to live that close to the ocean, we should be enjoying it, right? So we went to Santa Monica. The water was pleasantly warm for the Pacific Ocean. Even Brent and I swam. Sarah did not really like the waves, so she spent her time on the beach in the sand or cuddled under a towel. We ended the evening with dinner at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood - a popular little dive. It was yummy!!! Here are a few pics from the beach.





We had something interesting happen at Santa Monica - there was a family swimming next to us. We noticed that the little boy was in his underwear, but we just figured he had forgotten his trunks (and probably he had). But when the parents got out of the water, they changed out of their wet clothes and into dry clothes, right there on the beach in front of everyone!!! They were not quick about it either. They took their time air drying and such. We concluded that they must be from Europe because they did not seem to think anything of what they were doing. There are some beaches around where that would not be unusual, but Santa Monica is not one of them!!! It was interesting. Amazingly enough, though they were right next to us, the kids never looked that direction. They never even knew it happened until we talked about it later.

It was a fun two days.

As for the earthquake, we did not feel anything. We didn't even know about it until Brent's dad called to check on us. Apparently some of our friends did feel it, but not us. My one friend who said she noticed it, said she did not really feel it, but she noticed her lights swinging randomly in the house. For those of you who wondered, thanks for thinking of us. Brent has felt an earthquake, but I have yet to experience one. There was one late at night one night when Brent was awake, but I was sound asleep and didn't feel a thing.

Brent, James and Jason are going overnight tonight on a day long mission trip to help build a house in Mexico. I am excited for them. You might say a prayer for their time away if you think about it!!! This is Kaleo's Gone for Good for the month! Pray for a friend who is going with them. It is a person who has really been asking lots of questions and seeking the Lord but who does not know Him. He wanted to go on the trip, though, so Brent will have some time with him. It's pretty cool. I have to go and work on getting things packed for them.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fearless

This has been the theme in my spiritual life lately. I think it is interesting how God places me in situations where I am learning the same concept in several areas all at once. Could it be that this is the only way I listen - I hope not, but I wonder . . . am I just like my kids????

So, here we go. I have to say that I feel that packing up my whole life and my family and moving away from the only place I have known as an adult and the longest place I have lived in my whole life was very bold. Especially to come to a completely unknown place to do such a risky thing - start something completely new without the budget that we really needed and without a lot of people to help us. It was a bold move, but after the last couple weeks, I realize it wasn't bold enough.

I was asked at the very last minute to go with a youth group of one of our sister churches to a Youth Conference called CIY - Move. While I enjoyed getting to know the teens better and being able to pour into their lives a bit, God did not make this happen for them. I'm quite sure he had the other leader drop at the last minute and gave Chris the idea to ask me to go because I needed to hear the words those speakers were saying. They spoke about so many things, but the two things that impacted me most was that the Holy Spirit gives us the power we need (Acts 1:8) and that we need to be bold in going out and telling others about the love of Jesus and the fact that he died and rose for our sins. What an amazing gift that is and I hide it for fear of scaring people away! For too long I have waited around for people to come and say to me, "I want to know about Jesus." Not many people actually use those words. How many people have said that in different ways, but I have not heard it? Or how many people never asked, but would have changed their lives had I given the opportunity? How many times has God wanted to use me in that way, but I haven't let Him, so He's given someone else that privilege? Ouch!

Interestingly enough, just before we left, I hit the bookstore to see about a couple books to read and a new Bible study book. I had heard that the afternoons were down times and good for reading. I did get a little reading done, but not a lot. Anyway, I picked up a study on Joshua called Live Fearlessly from the Fresh Life Bible Study Series, which I highly recommend. I wanted a study on Joshua because I just finished a study on Deuteronomy, not because it was about living fearlessly. I don't even know that I noticed the title before we got to the conference and I began to see the theme in my life. Again, just more conviction on how I really am not very bold when it comes to actually sharing the gospel with adults.

There are a million reasons why this is the case - some excuses, some probably legitimate reasons. When we were discussing boldness at the conference, we did talk about the types of bold we do not want to be - mean or bible thumping - we don't want to scare people off. That is probably my main reason, but there comes a time when that is no longer a legitimate reason, rather an excuse. I think when we really want to be bold, we are listening to God and waiting for opportunities and then seizing them. He provides those open doors all the time, if we are willing to walk through them.

I still struggle with this and am praying constantly that when there is an open door I will be bold enough to share. And praying for forgiveness for all of the times that I have failed to listen closely to God.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dawn in the Dishwasher

Ever wonder what happens when you put Dawn dish soap in the dishwasher? Probably not - common sense probably tells you the answer without having to do the experiment; not in my house . . .
Tonight the boys were loading the dishes. There were two things that couldn't go in the dishwasher, so James asked what to do with them. I said to wash them with dish soap. At the same time, Jason held up the dawn and asked if it was the right stuff, so I answered yes. We have this communication problem in our house over and over - you would think that I would learn, but not yet. A few minutes later Brent yelled from the kitchen. The floor was covered with bubbles that were escaping from the dishwasher.
Jason was asking if the dawn was the right stuff for the dishwasher, and I was answering James question about what soap to use on the two extra things. Ugh!!! It wasn't a big deal, since we were home. We just got the shop vac and sucked it all up. We got a good laugh out of it, too. Maybe next time I will ask Jason to be more specific in his questions, but probably not - it was an innocent mistake on both of our parts.

We had a nice dinner with new friends tonight. Thanks Bill and Dominique if you read this. It's nice to get to know them better. They home school their kids and have a pretty cool philosophy on education. It was fun to hear a little about it and to talk to them about the vision God has given us for Kaleo. Then we went to set up church. We are definitely back in the swing of things after our long vacation. We had a nice time being gone, but we are also glad to be back.

We came back to some difficult news. Our neighbor died in a car accident while we were gone. He was at the top of Brent's list as far as people to get to know better and to talk to about Jesus. It is our understanding from the family that he did know the Lord, and we hope that is true, but it was heartbreaking. He has two or three children, one of which we had in our home a lot. Brent was already scheduled to teach on evangelism when we returned, and it was tough. He did an amazing job, though. It has really made us think about how little time we have and how we have to seize every moment we can. It is a fine line we walk. It's nice to be invited into somebody's life in order to be able to tell the story of Jesus to them, but we can't wait too long. It takes lots of prayer and really watching for every opportunity. This is my current conviction. I know that I don't seize every opportunity like I should. I am praying that I will see doors that God opens for me to speak truth to people who do not know Him.

At the last minute I was asked to go as a leader to a youth retreat down at Biola University this coming week with one of our partner churches. I think it will be fun. It's always a little stressful to leave the kids when Brent has so much to do, but we think it will be a good opportunity for me personally and a great opportunity for me to help CCV. So, five days without kids - it's been a very long time!! I will have to update when it is over. I'm not sure if I am looking forward to it or not (being away from the kids, that is.)

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's been a while . . . Some amazing blessings

I have been so incredibly busy and have not had time to blog in almost a month, and not consistently for even longer. I wanted to just share some of the amazing blessings in my life in the last six weeks.

We had an amazing week at Pine Cove for family camp! I cannot tell you what a tremendous blessing this time of reflection, refreshing and encouragement this week was. We are so thankful for all of our friends at camp who are so encouraging and such great supporters of our ministry.

We had a great time in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with friends and family. It was busy and we did not see tons of people who we desperately wanted to see. There are not enough hours in the day. We are sorry for those of you who we missed, and we are grateful for every moment spent with those we saw.

Brent's back is still hurting, but he made the trip without too much more pain. He will see a back specialist on Tuesday, July 8th.

We missed our friends back in Bakersfield while we were gone. Might seem like a silly blessing, but I am so thankful that God has provided relationships here with people who we miss when we are away.

The kids finished school and finished well - we are about half way through summer - won't be long before we are starting again - this time with three in school.

God has provided more work for me through the adoption unit in Oklahoma. I am so thankful, as nothing here has worked out as of yet. I am still looking for something part time.

We've had new families visit the church and are very excited about everyone who is involved at Kaleo.

I'm sure the list could go on and on and as I think of things, I will add them, but I am off for now, as I still need to clean up the house before bed.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I've Been Tagged

This is a fun little game that bloggers play, so I guess being tagged officially makes me a blogger! The rules are as follows:
1. Post the rules!
2. Answer the questions about yourself
3. At the end of the post, list 5-6 people you would like to tag and leave a comment on their blog letting them know.
4. Let the person who tagged you know that you posted your answers.

So here goes....

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
I had just gone back to work after a three month maternity leave when I had Jason. I was missing him terribly, and he was refusing to take a bottle. I went to work after feeding him, then ran to the babysitters at lunch to nurse him again, then ran after work and nursed him again. In between times, the babysitter worked hard to get him to take a bottle. It was tough! I was also realizing that doing adoptive placements was too much for me (I was making decisions only God should make - and I was struggling with it!) and I was missing the kids, so I was looking for other job options and had interviewed for school social work position, working teachers hours. (I learned a lot about "teacher's hours"! Our teachers do not get enough credit for the work they do!

2. What are 5 things on your To-Do list today?
It is 9:00, so hopefully not much today, but tomorrow - Continue with my cases, continue cleaning my house, get James ready to leave Tuesday for the Beach Bash with the youth, start packing for our trip, work on getting things done for the church for while we are gone.

3. What are some snacks you enjoy?
Ice Cream!!! I really like, and you may think this is crazy, the king sized Nestle Drumstick - vanilla with chocolate swirl.

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
I would be so excited that we could do ministry without a care in the world. Brent could drop his salary and we could build a really cool family life center/gym that could also be used as a church. I would also take a little of it and take our family on a cruise, which I have always wanted to do. I would give money to Pine Cove to cover scholarships, or probably just pay for specific families to attend. I could keep typing and typing ideas that pop in my head, so I won't.

5. What are 3 of your bad habits?
My worst habit is that it still bite my nails - yes, I'm 35 years old. It's horrible. I'm always in a hurry and fail to stop and smell the roses.

6. What are 5 places you have lived?
El Paso, Texas; Atkinson, Nebraska; Gillette, Wyoming; Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Bakersfield, California

7. What are 5 jobs you have had?
Retail, waitress, tutoring, social worker, Assistant to Children's Director at church

8. What is currently playing on your IPOD?
I don't have one.

9. What are the last 5-6 books you have read?
I'm a terrible reader - I start and do not finish most of the time. I did read two great books in the past year - Raising Kids for True Greatness by Tim Kimmel and God Never Wastes a Hurt by Jim Reeves. I have started some others that are listed to the right, but I have not finished them. I have read some great books to the kids. A Father's Promise was the most recent one.

10. Who do you want to tag?
Caroline
Katie
Becky C.
Becky P.
Rhiannon S.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sarah's Birthday Came and Went

and I just realized I never blogged about her like I did the rest of the kids. Things got a little crazy some time in April, and it hasn't slowed down. Brent did blog about each of the kids recently, and I think he described each of the kids marvelously. Rather than going back through it all, I thought I would just put a link to his blog about Sarah. So here it is.

She is such an amazing little girl. I am so glad that God gave her to us! She makes us all smile A LOT!!!

I'm sorry I missed a post on her birthday, but we did have a nice evening of ice cream and a trip to the park. It was beautiful outside that night, and we just enjoyed the evening. She is three, and I cannot believe three years has passed. Where does the time go?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Like a swarm of Locusts . . . a welcome swarm!

To give a quick update on Brent's back, he is doing better, but he is still in pain and cannot lift much of anything. He can walk, which is a huge praise. He had a massage this week, provided by one of the people who attends our church (Thank you so much!) and he saw the doctor yesterday and will be seeing a specialist in a couple weeks. In the meantime, he is supposed to take it as easy as he can, which is hard, but he is doing it. The pain forces him to have to slow down. But life goes on and things still have to get done.

So tonight we were about 30 minutes from leaving to go and set up for church when we got a phone call from a man who has been so great to come from another church each week to help set up, and he usually brings some other people to come. We were counting on him tonight, and Brent had also gotten a call from a couple other friends who offered to help, so we had a couple extras, but we were down a couple also, as Bill is out of town this weekend, and Eric is not here. Anyway, the call at 6:00 was Rick apologizing because he had forgotten to tell us, but he was in Mexico on a mission trip and was just crossing the border back into California, and there was no way he would be here in time to help us. Brent got off the phone and we started trying to figure out what to do since he can't really lift anything, and now there would only be one other man and two women, and James and Jason, who can be very helpful but aren't always!!! Brent made four phone calls. The first - there was no answer; the second - there was an answer but he was at work; the third said he could come but he would be late but he would try to find some others; the fourth said he could come and would bring a few teens to help. We headed off to the facility to get started. Matt and Becky showed up pretty quickly and Becky and I got busy moving all the gymnastics equipment away while Matt and James unloaded stuff from the storage unit and brought it around to the gym. Pretty soon another man showed up and jumped right in. Then a couple showed up. Then a couple more adults. Then the youth pastor with about 8 teens/young adults and another adult. There were people EVERYWHERE to help us, almost more than we could to give instructions to. It was absolutely overwhelming (in the best sense of the word)!!! I cannot begin to thank all of them and to thank God for once again providing and meeting our needs. I am excited to see what tomorrow holds - maybe nothing new, but maybe something great! Who knows?

Thanks for all your prayers for Brent's back. It was a long week. Sarah ran a fever most of the week, from Sunday until Thursday. David had a fever for a short time on Thursday and then again on Friday, but he was never as sick as Sarah. James was home from school one day sick. I am loooking forward to a week of healthy children and hopefully a husband who is more mobile than last week! Right now I am just praying that he gets through tomorrow morning as I know the pain is pretty bad.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brent's back

Last night we were setting up at church and Brent messed his back up pretty bad. For those of you who do not know, he has had back problems off and on. A few years ago, his back gave out in Bartlesville and he was in bed for at least a week. I can't remember exactly how long it was now. We saw a neurosurgeon in Bartlesville whose opinion was that he should wait as long as possible for surgery but that ultimately he will need it one day. His dad had back surgery a few years ago, so it seems that it is genetic. The doctor in Bartlesville said he has the back of a fifty year old, plus he has two degenerated discs. So last night while we were setting up for church, he did something while lifting. After we were done setting up, we came home and he took a muscle relaxer and laid down. We woke up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for church, he and absolutely could not stand without excrutiating pain - pain enough that it brought tears to his eyes. We were a little stressed to say the least. Eric's last Sunday was last week ,and while he probably would have come to help, he was/is in Seattle so he could not. We don't have anyone in our group that we know of who can teach, especially at the very last minute. We already knew that another "retired" pastor friend who has taught at Kaleo before was leading worship at his home church, so we were really at a loss. We thought we might show something of Craig Groeshel - what an amazing man who is willing to let others use resources from lifechurch.tv at no cost - but when we went to download it, it showed that it would take too long to download, so that option was out. So, we called our coach and friend, David, at 5:30 a.m. I got in the shower and started praying that if I was going to have to talk, God would give me something to say and settle my anxiety over all that was going on in our lives, all the time really praying that God would just fix the situation or make me sick also!!! My nerves were shot. But God provided! I received a phone call at 7:15 from a man at David's church who stated he would be willing to come and speak. He had just delivered a message at his church that fits with the new series Brent was starting today. What a willing servant - to come and give of himself at such late notice. We are so grateful for people who are just willing to say yes when God calls them to something. He got up and introduced himself and stated that he is not a great speaker. All I could think was that God was using him despite what he thinks are weaknesses, just because he was willing to go when called! So we made it through the morning, and all I had to do was stand up and tell everyone where my husband was and give a couple announcements. Yay!!!

Please pray that Brent's back would start feeling better quickly and that we would know what steps to take next. Surgery right now seems like bad timing, but when is good timing? I would rather he get to feeling better and get some exercise and see if it can just wait a little longer, though.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ready for School to End!!!

I am SOOOOO ready for school to end! I love the lack of schedule that we have to have when we are on summer break. I love waking up late and staying up late! I love not having to go to school functions! I love not having homework!!! I'm thankful that there is school to force me to be on a schedule and help the children with important disciplines that they need, but I'm glad we have three months off from the schedule!!!

This week has been incredibly busy. James school is having a book fair and Jason's school is having open house, which is a BIG deal, at least this year, as it is the first year for this school to be open. I have gotten myself very busy helping with parent club things, which is fun but exhausting also. So I have been working to sell raffle tickets and prepare for the raffle we will be having at Jason's open house in the morning, and going to James school to sell books in the afternoon. David and Sarah have been placed on the back burner this week, which is okay every now and then, but still hard for them. Brent has been able to be home working while they have been napping so I could go to the schools. I love it that my kids want me around and in their classes and I figure I should enjoy that. Some moms are not as blessed in this way! And it is a great opportunity for me to see the environment that they spend much of their day in and to see them around their peers. They make me very proud! They both have nice friends and a good group of them, and they are both living out their faith in a place that can be very difficult, especially James! It's been a huge transition for them, but they have done very, very well!!!

All of this busyness in my life is my reason for not blogging lately. I wll get back in the swing of things soon, but right now this is what is important, and the fact that I am tired at night but still need to cook dinner, clean a house and complete casework doesn't make for much blogging! However, after the last three comments on my previous post, I thought I better get something on here! It did make me laugh!! Thanks Dalene and Marci! I miss you guys - all of my Oklahoma friends! Can't wait to see you in June! Another great reason why I like for school to be out!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Got FIRED!!!

I've never been fired before - I guess there is always a first! But I didn't expect my first experience of being fired to be done by my own son, or by a five year old!!!! I didn't even know a five year old knew the concept of being fired, but yes, he used it appropriately. We were driving along in the car - that seems to be a popular place for him to get a smart mouth these days. That, in itself, is quite intelligent, as I cannot reach him in our huge van!!! I told him no about something. At the moment I cannot remember what it was. After a couple minutes - probably more like 30 seconds - he calmly said, "Mom, you're fired!" I never know if I should try to control my laughter or just let it out. Truthfully, he would be lost if I truly was fired. Of course, I tried to explain this to him, but he does NOT understand that part. He does not understand that he would not have someone to pour him juice or do his laundry or cook his dinner or lunch or any of the other MILLION things I do for him each day. He also does not understand how, on some level, being fired (for a day or two anyway) is appealing on some level (and even more so on a week when his dad is out of town)!!! Some day I will enjoy sharing all these crazy stories with him. Parenting note to self: If I am trying to raise him to be a respectable adult, he needs to learn that the can't just fire someone because he does not get his way, and maybe more importantly, that he cannot fire his boss!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What a Nice Weekend!!!

I'm just sitting down after having cleaned a flat of strawberries, which I bought on the side of the road during our drive to the beach yesterday! I love strawberries! I have some in the freezer and some in these new "green bags" my mother told me about that are supposed to help fruit last longer, and a few I am eating!! They are delicious!!!

The boys are all in bed, but Sarah is lying beside me. She is usually out so fast, but she can't seem to settle down tonight. Brent is gone for a few days to the National New Church Conference in Florida. I am praying that it is an encouraging and refreshing time for him.

We enjoyed our weekend so much. We haven't had so much down time since before we launched the church, and it was very much needed. On Friday night we met some friends at the park for a picnic and let the kids play until after dark. It was nice. The weather was pretty. These are pics of the kids from the playground. The older boys spent most of their time on scooters, but the little ones enjoyed the playground.




Boys never cease to amaze me with their play. These contraptions are spinning things that if you stand up and pull yourself into the pole, you spin faster, but if you lean back, you slow down. David, Mason and Hayden decided to turn it into a knock down game. One of them would hold hold onto the handles. Another would start it spinning, then the one who was holding on would knock down the other two while spinning in circles. They were laughing and laughing. Kari and I just sat back and laughed, waiting for the laughter to turn to tears. Amazingly enough, it never did!!!



On Saturday, we went to Sycamore Beach in Ventura to meet with other church planters from Christian Associates. I have not even seen any of them since we made the move. It was a cloudy day and was quite cold outside, especially because of the wind. In the end, we left and went to a friend's house. But it was a very nice day! We just relaxed and enjoyed visiting with everyone and hearing where they all are in their ministries. All the families came and the kids all enjoyed playing with each other.



I never actually felt the water, but it is the Pacific Ocean - not really known for it's warm water. And, on top of that, the air was cool too, cold some of the time. But that did not stop the boys from getting in the water. They enjoyed chasing and running from waves. Steve and Linda's daughter is James' age, and the boys got along with her very well. Last July when we were near this same beach, just about a mile down, we saw a lot of dolphins, swimming very near shore. Apparently, this is a popular location for them because we saw a bunch again yesterday. I was even able to see two of them jump completely out of the water. It was gorgeous!

Here are a bunch of the kids on the trampoline together at the home that we ended up at. It is the coolest place. This family, who currently lives in Amsterdam on the mission field, bought this home with quite a bit of land and this old beautiful home. They have a huge barn that is used for parties and receptions. They rent it out for weddings. While they are away, they are renting it to some friends, who were so gracious to allow us to come over last minute and hang out. They even made us some delicious chocolate chip cookies. They are people with amazing gifts of hospitality. Brent and I had been there a couple years ago when we went through assessment with Christian Associates. It was much warmer here than at the beach!

I'm thankful for the relaxing day we had and for the people we were able to share the time with. Christian Associates is just full of fabulous men and women who are trying to make such an impact on the Kingdom! I'm honored to be a part of what they are doing!

Friday, April 18, 2008

When things are down . . .

it makes you appreciate little, or big, blessings even more! It's been a tough week, as I have posted, but God is good ALL THE TIME!!! Even when things are "bad", we praise Him because of who He is. That is all that is important. I look at Job, which I have been reading lately, and all of the things that we have struggled through this week pale in comparison! While I don't always understand why things happen, I am grateful that I believe in a God who controls the universe, the big things and the little things. For whatever reason, He allowed our ministry vehicle to be covered with graffiti and did not allow us to find anything that would remove it. He allowed us to owe on our taxes, but as we studied in Crown Financial several times, "Everything in the Heavens and Earth are Yours, O Lord!" And he knew the other things that we would go through this week were going to happen, and He will use them to strengthen and stretch us as long as we allow Him to. So I continue to praise him and continue to see the good in the painful/frustrating circumstances.

I say all that, but I also want to tell you that God has blessed us immensely this week. We had set aside this week for Brent to get ready to go to Florida Sunday and for him to complete our banners as this was the last week of the free banners that we won. We were going to go ahead and have small group but then the thing with the truck happened, we were emotionally drained, so we cancelled. We spent some time that evening with our children, something they needed very much. Then Brent got busy on banners. He was up until the early hours of the morning two nights in a row trying to finish banners. Then yesterday, Brent called me while I was out with some beautiful news. The people at Group Imaging called. Our free banners are not over until June 30th. Brent won them at the National New Church Conference last year, which is what he is going to next year, so we just assumed it was over at the time of the conference, but we were wrong!!! We don't know where the June 30th date came from, but Brent was able to come to bed at the same time as me last night, we had some good conversation before drifting off to sleep and, and enjoyed our evening. Thanks to Group Imaging for the free banners. Thanks, God, for giving us something extra to smile about this week. You so didn't need to; we are not worthy. You have already done enough for us, enough that we should continue to praise You and exude the joy that comes only from knowing Jesus regardless of our circumstances. Hopefully we were doing that despite the feelings within of anxiousness, frustration and sadness!

Just wanted to share a bit of good news with everyone! Thanks for your continued prayers, especially regarding the circumstances with the truck. Please pray for the child who did it! I doubt he will be caught, but I want him to, not for the purpose of punishment, but for the purpose of help!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Graffiti - Why?

This is a post from my blog on raisingbakersfield.com, a new website through the newspeper here that I and several other people were asked to blog on regularly for a few months until there is more site content and people aware of the site. Anyway, i thought those of you not from Bakersfield might want to know one of the things going on in our crazy lives right now.

What causes people to graffiti things? I know that sometimes it is gang-related, but often it is not. Is it boredom? Is it anger or hate? I just can't figure it out. Usually it does not affect me too often, though I don't like my kids to see it, but today was a different story. I mentioned in my introduction that we moved here to start a new church. One of the things we have for our church, donated by some wonderful friends and a wonderful printing company, is a very fun ice cream and events truck, equipped with a bounce house and portable video/sound equipment to show movies or play Wii. We saw this at another church and thought it would be a great way to be a presence in the community, to do outreach and service events. We take the truck to different places and give out free ice cream, set up the bounce house, and get to know new people. We have taken it to a school, to several parks, around neighborhoods, to the League of Dreams opening day baseball games, which was a fabulous event. There were several children, who would not otherwise be able to bounce in a bounce house who were able to that day. It is such a fun and wonderful tool. Well, today, my husband went over to the lot where we park it. Mind you it is behind a locked gate where a portion of the wall is cement. When he pulled up to it, he saw something that completely horrified (among many other emotions) him. It is covered with graffiti, and terrible graffiti at that. The people (who are pictured on the wrap) are now anatomically correct, outside of their clothing, and there is terrible language all over it, as well as racial comments. I don't understand why someone would have done this to something like this. We don't know that it can be cleaned off, and it will be terribly expensive to repair. It is something that we hoped would be used for so much good, and for a while it is unavailable for that. We are sad - sad because we can't use it, sad because someone did this. We keep wondering what kind of pain that person might be in. This does not appear in any way to be a gang related situation. In fact, it appears to have been done by a child. Anyway, we are bummed. We loved taking it to parks and giving out ice cream and having great conversations with people. I would love to get to the bottom of this graffiti thing, but I'm sure I am not the only one. I do hope we can figure out a way to repair the damage that has been done.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Satan's Working Overtime

I can't get into a lot of details right now, but if you read this, will you please pray for us. It has been a crazy couple of days with so much stuff that I believe to be spiritual warfare. Just so you know, our marriage is fine, and our health is good, and all is well with the kids. So, in the whole scheme of things, we are really okay, but there is a bunch of other garbage going on that is difficult. Please pray for wisdom and patience and for God to decrease the anxiety. I know there is nothing helpful about worrying and being anxious, and I just keep repeating, "Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, present your requests to the Lord." But moving it from my brain to my heart is always a struggle for me!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"The Other Becky"

Some of you may be wondering why that is the title I give to Becky Casselberry who is listed in my "blogs I read" column, so I decided I would tell a cute story about James.

We have known the Casselberry's since James was three (what a privelege to know them!). David and Caroline joined our small group in Bartlesville, and Becky joined a teen small group Brent and I were leading when she was about 15, I think. Anyway, we were around Becky a lot, and James knew my name was Becky also. Somehow having two Becky's confused him. He always called Becky Casselberry "The Other Becky."

James has always had a very soft heart for the Lord and has always been much more knowlegeable about Scripture and spiritual things than a lot of children his age (sometimes than his mother). He asked Jesus to live in his heart when he was three. My other children had no clue what that even meant at that age, but we truly believe that James understood. Anyway, he knew Becky came to our house regularly for Bible Study. He knew the Casselberry's and their love for the Lord. When he was about five years old, the Franklin Graham Festival was in Bartlesville. Brent was involved with it, and we attended it most, if not all, nights. They recruited people, adults and teens, to go forward with others at the end of the night - to pray with them and be supportive. Becky Casselberry was one of those teens. So, this one night that we were there (I don't think we were sitting with Becky), James noticed that Becky got up and when forward when they gave the alter call. It was deeply concerning to James; he was just so sure that Becky already knew Jesus, so he could not understand why she would go up front. He did not really understand the whole concept of her going as a peer counselor. I remember him looking at me with concern and saying, "Why is The Other Becky going down there?"

We have enjoyed that story about James and Becky for many years and tell it frequently when we are all together! I love it that we have friends that our children cannot remember life without, and that those friends are people like the Casselberry's who have poured so much into our lives and in whose lives I hope we have been able to pour into also! We love them and miss them!

Unfortunately, James has outgrown his name for Becky and he has also outgrown his very raspy little voice that we all so loved! I can still hear it when I think back and remember. And now that my eyes are filling with tears over how fast time passes, I think I will be done!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Jason's Birthday

Jason's birthday came and went, and I failed to post about it, like I did everyone else's. March gets a little crazy around here with four birthdays! Anyway, we didn't have a party for Jason yet. It looks like it is going to be the beginning of May before that happens due to my lack of planning. We did take him out for dinner on his birthday and then to purchase his birthday present. He put all his birthday money together and had enough money to buy a digital camera, so we ordered one. Unfortunately, it wasn't in stock at the time.

I thought at one point that I should blog about my children's births, but I haven't, so maybe I will start with him. Of all my kids, Jason's delivery was my easiest. He was eight days late - UGHHH!!! But when it happened, it was pretty easy. I woke up early in the morning with what I thought were contractions. I went back to sleep and woke up again later. I decided to take a shower and get ready for the day. I continued to have contractions, so when I was all ready, we called the hospital. They did not have an available bed, so they asked if I could wait a little while longer. We got James around and took him over to Brent's sister's house. We called the hospital again. My contractions were now about three minutes apart. They said to go ahead and come on in to the hospital. But when we got there, they still did not have a bed, so they put our stuff in an extra room and asked us to go walk around. We did.

Before this next part, you must know that my small group members, as well as about every other person who knew me, were well aware of my desperation to not be pregnant anymore. For those of you who do not run late, it is miserable, or so it seems at the time. Anyway, as we were walking, we ran into Ann and Cindy. Ann teased us that coming to the hospital would not cause the baby to be born. I said I was in labor, and she didn't seem to believe me, so she just teased and talked to us, while I was having contractions. At one point, Cindy said to her, something like, "She's telling the truth - she's having a contraction." It was so funny! I love Ann - she's absolutely the best! She did finally decide that I must have known what I was talking about.

The hospital finally had a bed available for me - I don't remember how much longer, but we were maybe at the hospital an hour before we got a room. I went in, decided to have an epidural, got one and delivered Jason after just three pushes at 5:00 in the evening. I had no idea that having a baby could be so simple. I pushed James for something like three hours and he had a LOT of problems with his heart (as did David and Sarah), and it was scary and stressful. Jason did scare me a bit when he cried and cried for the next several hours. I was so afraid of what I was up against, but I guess he got it out of his system because he was a pretty good baby after that night.

He did actually have some heart issues, but his were after birth. We were awoken by the on call pediatrician at about 5:00 a.m. the next morning teling us that he was puttng him on a heart monitor for observation as there had been some concerns about his heart rate, but after he was monitored for a while, all was well!

The other thing about Jason's birth is that the day I arrived home from the hospital, I broke out in hives. They were covering my body, from my scalp to the bottom of my feet. It was the most miserable experience of my life. It felt terrible. It looked terrible. It lasted forever - off and on for 6 weeks - even with a bunch of steroids. It began a long process of trying to determine what I am allergic to - the decision - who knows? Even after a lot of testing and eliminating things - I broke out after both David and Sarah, too. I will hit those stories at a later date!

I think the coolest thing about giving birth to Jason was having a child put in my arms who was not going to need immediate ongoing medical treatment. James had a cleft lip - it was very minor and not a difficult fix, but we did not know that when he was first delivered. All through my pregnancy with James I prayed for a healthy baby. I was excited when we had an ultrasound and saw ten fingers and ten toes, but I don't think I ever really believed that anything could possibly be wrong with my baby. I was completely shocked when he was born with a cleft. God is good and He provided amazing people to walk us through the situation, and in the end, it was very minor, but I suddenly knew what it was to give birth to a baby who was not "perfect." It was a reality. I knew when I was pregnant with Jason, that anything could happen. Even though doctor's were pretty certain he was healthy, they could make no guarantees. I remember holding him and having such a great feeling knowing that there were no surgeries in our future. It was a very peaceful feeling - not to have to run home and start researching about medical conditions or for the best doctors.

Jason has grown to be such a charming little boy. He is a good friend to others most of the time. He is sensitive and includes everyone. We were able to be up at his school this week for his track meet. I am up there regularly, but he is always in the classroom, and I don't really watch him socially, like at the track meet. It was fun! A little scary at times - girls really like him - but fun! Luckily, he doesn't seem to care much about girls. He likes them but no differently than he likes the boys! They're just all chums!

Anyway, here are a couple pics of Jason and some of his school friends. These are the ones he spends the most time with at school. I am proud to be his mother!


Friday, March 28, 2008

Easter, etc.

I was going to post a picture and write about Easter, but the pictures are not very good. The lighting was terrible, and really it didn't feel much like Easter. My poor kids didn't even get to hunt easter eggs. I did get them baskets, but I did not get any pictures of them with their baskets. It was just a bad year for any of that. It's a good thing that these traditions are not what Easter is all about. Thankfully, whether it's a "good" Easter or a "bad" Easter, Jesus still died for us and still rose again! That is what it is all about - the rest shouldn't matter. It's always a good Easter because I will be spending eternity with Jesus! (If you think I am trying to make myself feel better for not being more on top of it, you are probably right!) Church went well - we had at least seven new family units visiting, and regardless of what Brent says, I think his sermon must have been good. I was in children's ministry so I didn't hear it, but we have received a lot of compliments! We know that at least a couple of those families will be returning, so that is exciting! It was a beautiful day outside, and we were able to stand outside and talk with the visitors after church while the kids played on the bounce house. It was a great morning!

Beyond Easter, I have a couple funny David stories. To add on to the speech therapy blog. Today, he went for his second session. He was so excited to go to school. On our way home after that and after running a couple errands, I asked if he wanted to go to the park. He said he did not. I said it would be fun because he would be able to play with friends. He said, no because he had already played with a friend this morning. The only place we had been was to the school, where he is in speech alone with only the therapist, so I asked which friend. He said, "My friend at school who plays games with me!" Yes, that would be the speech therapist - they play card games to help with enunciation!

The second story is this. We were in the Dollar Tree today. Some music was playing and a new song came on. Only the opening few notes had played when David said, "This sounds like Everybody Dance Now." First of all, I did not know he was paying attention, nor did I know that he knew that song title, not to mention what music it went with, and he was ABSOLUTELY correct. It was that song. The lady behind the counter burst into laughter. Furthermore, David started dancing. And when I told him to stop so we could walk outside, he said that his body wouldn't let him stop dancing when that song was playing! This has become a new excuse for him. Yesterday his body wouldn't stop going to get the Gameboy when it was off limits. While it is cute at times, like when he was dancing today and not doing anything wrong, it is not okay when it is an excuse for disobedience. However, might I say that he is so darn cute in his disobedience. IT'S TERRIBLE!!!!

Now to talk about how proud I am of Jason. I was at his school today with David and stopped in to take some stuff to Jason's classroom. His teacher proudly announced to me that Jason made the HONOR ROLL. This is a HUGE deal! He has struggled so much this year and has worked hard to get caught up both at school and in tutoring. He did not think he could ever make the honor roll, and he did it! In addition to that, his teacher told me that Jason was supposed to be Student of the Month this month, but they could not get in touch with us to let us know. So, he will be Student of the Month next month. I am so very pround of him. He has worked so hard!