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, 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!