Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today has been a much more relaxing day than yesterday. Though Mari cried out a couple times in the night, she slept in until 8:30. We had a quick breakfast then started chores. Friends came at 11, had lunch, and swapped kiddos. I was left with Mari, who was totally ready for a nap, and the 5 year old who Landen and Luke were hosting for the afternoon. Our neighbor invited the boys to come swimming, so I was soon left with Mari...asleep. What's a jenga player to do?

Our water was off all afternoon, so my big piles of laundry were locked in. I was tired of feeling silly each time I flipped the faucet handle to "on" and rubbed my hands together in thin though there really was water flowing out. Showering was also not an option, so I decided to read then cook.

Last night I purchased a "combo meat tray" from the grocery store. It had one tray of chicken quarters, one tray of pork chops, one tray of tenderized round steaks, and one tray of ground beef. All for twenty bucks! This afternoon, I browned the beef in a pot and breaded the steaks and put them under the broiler. In two other dishes, I seasoned the chops and barbecued the chicken. My whole house swelled with the aroma of MEAT. I decided to recycle the bananas into loaves of bread. A treat for after dinner and a warm, lovely, new fragrance for the home!

After baseball "rounds", we're back. The girls have bathed, and the boys are wringing out the last drops of daylight with their friends down the street. Mari's wound seems to be healing. Ardyn hasn't mentioned her tooth all day. Well, except for when she came running in this morning saying that her tooth was gone and she found money under her pillow. I did my best "shock & awe" bit...she bought it.

More friends coming tomorrow and even more the day after that! No sign of a daddy coming home, but it'll all be okie dokie. After cooking all that meat and walking in the sauna - I mean, neighborhood, I STINK! I'm hurrying to shower and then chill before bedtime. Notice, I use the term: bedTIME...simply the time frame in which most folks go to bed, not the actual act of resting or sleeping or even lying down. It's true. I'm a lonely, anxious insomniac. Surely not for long.

Thank You, Lord for loving me. Lead me into Your rest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Night Cast

Philip is still gone. (Thus the latenight blog)
James is still house sitting & his car is still in the shop.
25 gallons of gas: $100.
1 bottle of Excedrin: $4.
Being able to make 72 extra trips across town in your sister's gas-guzzling "mom-mobile" to get folks where they need to be and riding TOGETHER to everything else: Priceless!

Landen and Luke are each playing for a select baseball team this Fall. First Tournament is this weekend. They have practice every night this week. Is it Fall? Did my husband open this athletic can of worms and immediately head for the border? Shall we change the subject?

We had a rough afternoon. Ardyn had a tooth pulled today. (long, bitter story concerning another dentist here in town) While we waited for her prescription to be filled, James and the girls and I went to lunch. Ardyn couldn't eat because of the gauze in her cheek. Mari has one of her "bumps" that we're treating and it hurts for her to sit. Ashli was doing fine until she swallowed a chip that wasn't chewed enough. James looks across the table at me as all three girls are quietly crying and pitifully moaning about their respective maladies.
Ardyn: "Wah cahnt I have ships or binzth...izthit thill bleedin?"
Ashlin: "The chip is stuck in my throat and it won't go down OR up." (I vote to keep workin' on 'down')
Mari: "Bo-bo bum"

Everyone composed themselves and we were able to enjoy most of our lunch. We picked up the medicine from the pharmacy, the boys from their friend's house, and headed home to rest.

The kids really miss Philip. I do too, but I'm sort of on auto-pilot in survival mode. I'll save my breakdown for when he's safely back in our midst. Luke cried the other night. He was worried something bad was going to happen to his dad. Ardyn cries every time she gets slightly tired. Landen and Mari seem to be taking it in stride. Ashlin had her meltdown this morning. She walked into my bathroom and asked, "Mom, (sniff) do you want to (sniff, sniff) do you want to know why I'm (sniff) why I'm crying?" "Yes, Ash, tell me." "I (boo) miss my (hoo) dad! (wail, snort, sob)" I let her call him. They talked. She was distracted by the adventure of dialing by herself, but then the waterworks were up and running again.

I'll be glad when we can be together again.

In happier news, Ashlin was a beautiful sister to her ailing sisters today. She was compassionate, encouraging, and helpful. It was a joy to watch her.

Landen mowed the lawn yesterday. It is nice that the outside stuff is still getting done even without Philip.

On the way to his practice, Luke helped me pick out some new sunglasses. His honesty, style, and decisiveness makes him a super shopper.

Ardyn is "all better" tonight. Her [nasty] tooth is in a box under her pillow. I'll have to commission a flight from fairyland to dispose of that rotten yuck.

Mari Alice is better as well. She is uncomfortable, but I think we're on the upswing. Morning will tell.

James is across town (with my burban...that's short for Suburban, not a misspelling of worries) He'll be back under our roof by tomorrow night.

Now that I've processed all the challenges from today, I must mention that Bible Study was wonderful! God spoke truth into my heart in a fresh way. He loves us so much! He totally answered my prayers today. Praise Him!!

Dear Father, thank You for today. Thank You for my children and my brother. Thank You for medicine. Thank You for friends. Thank You for the great job that You've given Philip. Keep Him safe in Your arms. You ARE wonderful, aren't You?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Veinte Uno

"JAMEY" and CARI 1987

J-dub turns 21 today. I can remember being on a youth mission trip in Mexico the day he was born. I called home to check on mom about 9pm and there was no answer...I knew my parents had no late-night social life, so I assumed they had gone to the hospital to give birth to my new Home-Ec project! I cried when I realized I missed his birth. I missed him...and I didn't even know him yet.

He was such a pretty baby. Dark, plump, and smiley. His first year of life was my first year with a driver's licence. One day I was running an errand in the "good times van" with James harnessed into his new, plush car seat. His seat faced forward, positioned on the captain's chair closest to the big sliding brown door. I say "positioned" because "secured" would be inaccurate. As I came to an abrupt stop at a red light, the car seat tipped forward until it rested on the front passenger seat. I saw it lunge forward in my peripheral. I panicked, thinking James had been thrown to the floor. I quickly pulled into the next parking lot available. I threw open my door, darted around the van, and frantically opened the sliding door. There he was. Safely suspended over the walkway between the two seats. He dangled his feet over the expanse as though he were seeking thrills at a theme park. With his chubby fist clinched around the straps of his 5-point harness system, he giggled. I set the car seat back into position and tightened the seat belt strap. Then as he looked at me with those innocent ebony eyes, I couldn't take it. I just started bawling. I unstrapped him, held him close and pledged my undying devotion to his health, well-being, and life-long pursuit of happiness.

His second year was our family's first year in Washington State....which turned out to be my only year in the Northwest. I have sweet memories of coming home early in the afternoon from my lightly-loaded senior year to share ice cream and silly stories with "Jamey". There is a photograph of him and me on my first day at OBU. Mom was behind me and as James hugged my neck, she captured his saddening sobs. She was so thoughtful to keep us in close communication despite the 2000 mile gap. Mom would send pictures, artwork, and even tape-recorded messages from James to me at college. All the girls on my hall anxiously waited to hear the next "adorable thing my baby brother said".

By the time he entered Kindergarten, we were all living in Texas again. It was that year that he announced his name would then be "James"...not the babyish name "Jamey". It tickled me that he thought he was so grown up. That wasn't the last time I'd be tickled in such a way ;) He proudly served as the ring bearer in our wedding. During the rehearsal he was sorely offended when he found out the rings tied to his silk pillow were from the aisles of Hobby Lobby. "You can trust me!" he pleaded with me at the back of the church. Philip and I looked at each other and as we looked into James' eyes, we recognized the resolve in his countenance. We cautiously tied a couple thousand dollars worth of jewelry to a beautifully embroidered pillow and offered what would be the first of many opportunities to successfully handle responsibility. He came through like a pro!

The next year, I remember looking across the funeral home to see a little 7-year-old perched on one of the sofas near a lamp. He was dressed like a little man. He was calm. He listened patiently as people shared memories and stories. He would have to wait a lifetime to see his dad again. He was smiling as he chatted with folks, but the brightness in his eyes to which I'd grown accustomed had darkened a bit.

He was able to come with mom to stay with us after Landen's birth. His famous quote concerning my culinary technique: "I love to eat Cari's can really tell she uses her brain when she cooks." He held baby Landen with great confidence. It's amazing that he and Landen share the same age span as Luke and Mari Alice. The rest of his school years were spent in B-town. We were limited to phone calls, the occasional letter, and seasonal visits. Ranger games every summer, Cowboy games in the winter, Spring Breaks and family fall vacations to Missouri. I missed a lot of his everyday life. But by most accounts, those were the "punk" years...Lord bless my mother!

It's been three years since he moved his stuff into our dining room and started sleeping in the bay window. Though he was committed to those drafty accommodations indefinitely, the Lord saw fit for him to have his own room. James was such an encouragement during that transition. Philip was working hurricane Katrina when he wasn't ironing out the details for a new job. I was house hunting, and packing, and trying to remain calm. I remember James said to me one day, "God knows where we're gonna live. He's not gonna hide it from us. He's not worried." Well stated! The week before we moved into this house, Philip and I found out we were expecting Johnson #7. James' enthusiastic involvement over the next several months kept the morale high, and childcare costs low.

We are so blessed to have him in our lives. He's so awesome with our kids. In so many ways he is helping to shape their lives. Mari is apparently musical because James sang to her & played the guitar to settle her down on datenites. From her time spent with James, Ashlin has learned the discipline of truthfulness and the value of a vigorous laugh. Ardyn never tires of James' presence, though she is quick to take advantage of his overnight travels as she camps out in his "comfy, cozy bed". With James, Luke finds comfort in his genetic potential and basks in the reciprocity of quality time. From James' example, Landen has discovered the secret to being completely cool: start with a limitless wardrobe, establish a personalized gesture of greeting, and ultimately don't worry about what anybody else thinks about you.

Together, James and Philip have agreed upon the importance of focused attention during conversation and the peaceful, easy feeling of a good, growly, bear hug. I'm not big on the hugs, but I treasure our kitchen discussions. I love his company. He brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes 'cause we're laughing so hard....other times because his sensitivity to God's Love is sincerely sweet...and other times 'cause I can't possibly do another rep of 15 with 30 pounds.

Thank You, God, for James.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I really want to post something on the blog, and I'd LOVE to sit here for the next hour or so just venting and articulating. However, I have many, many responsibilities in the church house tomorrow that I MUST prepare for. Therefore, (hey, that rhymed!)I shall submit an article I wrote to be "published" in our local MOPS newsletter in 2005. It's slightly Utopian, but it still challenges me to "let my gentleness be evident to all".

Good, Bad, and Ugly

It’s 9am. Ashli, 2, has spilled a cup of juice in her room—where she is not supposed to have drinks. Luke, 7, has completed his homework with sloppy haste so that it is barely legible and now he finds ample time to bother his sister. Ardyn, 4, follows me around the house whining about the awful things her brother is doing and occasionally lashing back at him with her own unkind words. Landen, 9, losing track of his responsibilities, finds himself running through the hall and sliding into an imaginary home plate.

On a bad day, I would be stomping and snorting; pointing, and scowling; threatening, and thwarting. The children would be bawling and squalling. It’s not pretty, but it’s reality. On a good day, however, things would look and sound a little different….thanks to creative correction. Here’s the script:

“Ashli, you know we only have drinks in the kitchen or at the table. Mommy is going to take this string and tie a sippy cup to the cabinet handle for the rest of the day. You must come to the kitchen to get a drink. Please help Mommy clean up the mess in your room.”

“Luke, I see that you hurried through your assignment. You will need to recopy it neatly twice on a separate piece of paper. It’s always wise to give your best effort. But first, we need to talk about the way you and Ardyn have been treating one another.”

“Ardyn, God gave you brothers and sisters to love and enjoy. In order for you and Luke to have more time to practice being kind, I’m going to tie your left arm to his right arm with this bandanna. You will do everything together as a team for the next 30 minutes. If you argue or complain, I’ll add 5 minutes to the timer. Enjoy your friendship!”

“Landen, you obviously have some extra energy. You know we don’t run in our home. Please go to the back yard and run 10 laps around the backyard. When you get back inside, you need to focus and finish your work. (Landen huffs, and slouches) That will be 12 laps with a good attitude, would you like more?”

Lord, give me the patience and the creativity to train my children. Please forgive my ugliness. And thank you for growing me into a Mom who has more good days than bad.

(For more ideas you can read “Creative Correction” by: Lisa Whelchel)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eff Why Eye

A couple updates:

I replaced the photo in Josh's birthday blog...the stability of his "photogenicity" had come into question, so I chose a "period piece".

I have also added a couple links to the sidebar.

Under "Friends/Family" you'll find Jeanne Damoff's photo blog. She is THE coolest lady I know. You'll enjoy her creative vantage. (When you have time, nose around her other blogs...she's a gifted writer who spills forth a balance of wackiness, wisdom & wit.)

You'll also want to click on Kathy's link. Not to be confused, this is not Josh's wife...although if SHE had a link, you'd certainly want to click on it. This is "My Kathy". Her photos are artful and fun. I'm so pleased that she has finally decided to share (a few of the many) with the world. Thanks Kath!

Under "Good Stuff" you'll find "Bring the Rain" which is a touching, transparent journal written by Angie Smith. You'll cry. You'll laugh. You'll be inspired.

Josh & Kathy have a friend in California who keeps a blog called "Beyond Decaf". Just one glimpse into her daily life will keep you coming back for more. She's a precious hoot!

Now, I realize I could be fancy-nancy and insert links into all that. I'm not sure how, but I figure there's a magical way to turn some of them-thar words blue...or red...or purple. But you people are grown-ups! Go over there and click 'em yerself, ya hear me?

Have a blast!

And We're Off!

My mom and grandmother were here last evening for supper. I made a pork roast with rice & veggies plus sugar-free banana pudding. We enjoyed being together and the girls LOVED coloring with Grammy in their new coloring books. After they left to get settled into their hotel room, we cleaned up and helped Philip get packed.

We put the kids to bed and watched a movie while we waited for the last load of work clothes to dry. James came in around 12:30. I finally fell asleep around 1:30. At 3am, Mari approached my bed and whispered repetitively, "Momma, Momma, Momma..." I was too tired to discuss her breach of protocol, and I barely remember hoisting her up into bed with us.

The alarm buzzed at 4:58. Philip readied himself then woke the household. (They had each asked to be awakened in order to kiss him goodbye.) Ashlin has given strict instructions the night before: "I can do sixes, but I never do fives!" That's my girl.

All eight of us shared hugs and kisses and prayer. Then he was off. I glanced at the oven clock as it turned 5:31. Five Thirty-One A&M!!!! Just as I was wondering what we would do, James offered, "Let's make cookies and a pot of coffee!" The crowd went wild.

After we munched and sipped through the news update on the hurricane, we paired off to watch age-appropriate movies. Movie night at 7am, you can't beat it. The boys watched "Ernest Goes to Africa". Ridiculous. Ashli was happy to view Strawberry Shortcake for the 23rd time. Ardyn floated between those two rooms. Mari fell asleep in my arms during the opening credits of "Notting Hill". Though a bit crass, this movie cracks me up and warms my heart.

And now we're off to "start" our day.

Dear Father, thank You for all Your blessings. Thank You for Your protection and provision. Bless our time together today. We love You because You are wonderful!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Second Wind

I just got an email from my cousin wondering why I'm up so late commenting on blogs.
Several reasons, really:

#1 The Sonic coffee I consumed around dinnertime.
#2 James has been in here discussing Greek New Testaments debating life's greater issues.
#3 Philip is working late trying to get his occupational ducks in a row so he can leave for the Gulf to restore power after the hurricane hits. (I do NOT settle down well without him here...which may pose quite a problem over the next several days/weeks)
#4 I'm mildly anxious over the parenthetical ending to #3.
#5 I'm addicted to bloggerdom! (and on can be a slow, agonizing addiction... pathetic, really)

After Bible Study, I remained "at large" into the evening. I studied at the library, shopped a couple of my favorite spots (the ones without buggies), then concluded the day with a trip to W*lM*rt. Yip-stinkin'-ee!

Plus on Jdub who made all that possible. I called a couple times to check on things. Luke answered my first call. He wanted to know when I'd be home, because they were already making post-supper plans for movie-night. Later, Landen answered with a mouth full of "smoothie". Uncle James was hookin' some folks up!

Thank You, Lord, for our study this morning. I pray that You'll give us each a hunger for more of Your word...that we might "taste and see that the Lord is good"! Thanks for spending the afternoon with me. Teach me more! Hold Philip in Your safe arms and strengthen him for the work You've called him to. Let him shine for You. Bless our visit with Mom. I want to live deliberately and love deeply. Help me. I love you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Runnin' on Empty

With all these sappy birthday trips down memory lane, I'm sort of sad. I miss my brothers. I miss their wives. I miss their kids. Wahhh!

I'm better now. We have Bible Study tomorrow morning. The lesson is on life's focus and calling. Those chicks better open up and share...'cause I got nothin'. I know all the "right" answers, like: I desire to serve the Lord by loving my husband well and I want to invest in my children and instill within them a love for blah blah blah. My focus, honestly, is usually keeping the house's level of tidiness somewhere this side of Hades. I do feel mildly "fulfilled" when I give of myself to people or church or whatever. I have some things I "wish I could do" and I have several things that I'm scared to try.

I need to go pray. I'm tired. I'm NOT focused. I need to go pray.

On a lighter, more positive note: My favorite thing from today was listening to all five kids giggle while watching home videos. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves (on several levels). Good stuff. Very good stuff.

Lord, help me have Your perspective for my life. I love You.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I dedicate this blog to my brother, Tim, on the 35th anniversary of his birth.


For starters:
When kissing my girls good-bye, Josh’s wife, Kathy, would always say, “I love you big as the sky!” The girls learned to repeat it back to her with great enthusiasm and broad, huggy hand motions. Soon Ardyn & Ashli adopted it as their routine farewell of endearment. “See ya! I love you big as the sky!” One day, Tim called. After visiting with Ardyn for a few minutes, he heard her say, “Here’s my mom. I love you Big Ass Guy!”

Classic. Happy Birthday, Big as the sky!

Isn’t 7 like a perfect number or something? Well, I figure Tim’s been around 7 half-decades. Here’s a snapshot of words and wardrobes from the past 35 years.

Age 0-4
“We won’t get in twouble, I pwomise”
*polyester outfits that Mom sewed to match mine

Age 5-9
“Stop it! I’m Tellin! I mean it! MOM!”
“I can’t help it if my dog ate your bird.”
*Striped tube socks up to your knees and tank tops. Yes sir.

Age 10-14
“Will you pleeeeease let me sit with you and your cheerleader friends?”
“Will it burn, if you use a curling iron on my bangs?”
“We should have our own talk radio show. We’re like totally funny.”
*two words: Miami Vice

Age 15-19
“Do you need more Pepsi? (yes) Great! While you’re up, will you refill mine?”
“We should really have our own talk radio show. We’re freakin’ hilarious.”
*acid washed 501’s and Cosby sweaters transitioning into Wrangler’s & bolo ties

Age 20-24
“I’ve… got… a… Mansion… justoverthehilltopinthatbrightlandwherewe’llnevergrowold”
“Seriously, we should think about starting our own radio show. We know comedy.”
*MC Hammer pants /with Harley t-shirts

Age 25-29
“A little Texas Hold'em, anyone?”
“I was stoking the fire in my fireplace and wondered if you were enjoying this cozy June morning?”
*More Wranglers, but with hats from Aussie movies

Age 30-34
“I’ve started a Discipleship Abroad Mission Network ministry”
“Speaking of changing the subject…”
*Khaki’s and Cabela’s shirts (and I’m thinkin’ the hammer pants have not been totally retired…don’t lie)

I have to say that Tim in fact dressed stylishly much of the time, and he has indeed said many incredibly sweet things to me during our 35 year friendship. No matter the clothing or conversation, Tim has been one of my favorite people my whole life. Happy Birthday, Tim! Let’s meet halfway for some Bluebell and a beer. Kidding. You know I don’t eat ice cream anymore. I love you. Oh, and if I can't have a talk radio show with you, I simply won't have one. We are a hoot!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another Year of Golden Age

Cari & Josh 1976

I don't really remember July 17, 1976: the day my second brother, Joshua, was born. I suppose I was busily about nurturing dolls, playing the piano, and bothering Tim, just like a typical 5 year old sister would be. I guess I missed a lot of the fun stuff because I went off to Kindergarten before he was 2 months old. (And if Mom did what I did as a young mother of 3, I probably got sent with Dad on errands a bunch.) He was a beautiful baby...the prettiest one of us all.

Across the pages of my memory, Josh appears consistently cute, sweet, and smart. Through all stereotypical phases, he emerges...well, "golden". I guess he got spankings; I couldn't be so sure. Oh yes! When he was 2 he refused to put away his lego blocks. (I think he even told our parents 'no!') That 90 minute episode must have cured him of any further disobedience. Most likely.

The lego remained a priority as he and Tim decided to move their beds into one bedroom during elementary school. They devoted the other room to LegoLand. (I think Mom was masterminding that deal...that girl loves her some lego mansions.) A decade later, he was still building with James. I missed out on all the pop-together fun, 'cause I can't stand that stuff.

He always had cute, sweet, and smart friends, as I recall. There was the closely knit group of Pacific NW pals in the late 80's who "jammed" to DCtalk's New Thang album. Then there was the closely knit set of Texan buddies who took a Volkswagen Van to prom...seriously, like Filmore from 'Cars'. And even in the Marine Corps, he somehow found a group of comrades who met the criteria for friendship.

One day when he was a freshman in HS, we went for a walk around town; we literally walked the six mile loop around our city. I had college on the brain, so we were discussing our futures. I don't remember all that we shared, but this one comment made my year. He said (something like), "If I marry a girl like you, I'll be doing great." Golden, I tell ya!

As in all things, he aimed high and married a girl like me, but better! Kathy and I traveled together with INNERVIEW during their courtship. I remember when he was overseas, she told me she could "type a letter on the computer and he would be able to read it instantaneously"...some new-fangled gizmo called 'e-mail'. Cool!

After honeymooning forEVER in Hawaii, they returned to East Texas. Josh was THE best uncle Landen & Luke could hope for. They had a standing date for Tuesday adventures. They would eat lunch, find a park or a path, and discuss life's deeper issues. With an infant at home and another birth looming, I LIVED for Tuesdays. My brother preserved my sanity while investing in my boys. Gold, pure gold!

At 32, with a beautiful wife and a darling baby boy, the cuteness continues! As does the sweetness. He is known to pursue and promote peace with Christlike compassion and humility. And smart? There's no telling how many degrees he'll have a jolly time earning. That boy digs school, if I shared his capacity for abstract thought, I'd probably like it too.

I've spent so many years calling Josh "golden", I thought I'd see if Webster could back me up. gold-en: adj. of a high degree of excellence; superb; prosperous, highly favored; something valued as the finest of its kind. Yeppy-doodles!

Happy Birthday, Josh. Thanks for being you. I love you!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Little Notice

We had one of the girls from our college Sunday School class spend the night over the weekend. I say "spend the night" because she was here from midnight to breakfast each night. She focused her daytime activities around her boyfriend who lives here in town. We enjoyed having a "20-something" down the hall since James has been gone a while. Hopefully she found her brief accommodations suitable & homey.

Yesterday we had a dentist appointment early, then met some friends for swimming and sack lunches. We arrived home mid-afternoon wet and weary. Mari dove down for a nap while the others finished off the sack lunches. I put a roast in and checked email. I had a message from the O'Leary's. They were coming through and wanted to dine. (Thank You, Lord, for Spicy Roast on E-mealz) We enjoyed a tasty supper and comfortable conversation. When you only see folks every three years or so, you gotta cram alot of talkin' in! Their girls are Ardyn & Mari's ages, so everyone played together beautifully. What a treat!

Today I was the substitute "facilitator" (it would please me if you could read that: fuh-silly-tay-torrrrrr!) for Bible Study this morning. We had insightful and inspiring discussion - so much so that I'll save it for its own post. The girls invited a friend to come home with us, so after putting Mari down, I'm pretty much all alone in the house. I'm sure the boys have coached the girls,"If we go in, we're gonna have to DO stuff, so let's just keep playing outside." (works for me!)

excuse me while I answer my cell phone.....

That was Philip. He wanted to let me know that some friends will be joining us for dinner. Okie-dokie, then. e-mealz, here we come:)

That makes 3 unexpected opportunities for hospitality in 3 days. Would you like to take a guess at what this week's Bible study covered? Ah, go know you want to. "Finding contentment with our possessions so that we/they may be used of God to bring good to others and glory to Himself."

veddy, veddy intahdesting...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Here and Now

Just stopping by to say "hey".

Mari's in the tub in my bathroom. She got a little whack with the Malt-o-meal, so she's having "aquatic playtime". Ashli is on the other side of my bed listening to her sight word cd. The songs are cheesy but she digs them right on up. "Blue flower, blue flower, floooowers in the rain...." Ardyn is propped up against the pillows of her freshly made bed. She loves to sketch on a clip board. I can hear her humming along with "Big flowers, little flowers, red, yellow, blue..."

Landen is at James' desk writing in his scripture journal. Luke is finishing up his chores. Philip is at work -- making all of the above possible:)

Well, Mari is calling for me to "wosh!" her. This was fun. More later.

Thank You, Father for this home. Thank You for happy togetherness. Help us as we learn together today. I love You.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's Good in the Neighborhood

Last night, I went to dinner with some ladies from church. It was good to be "out". As we waited for everyone to arrive, I thumbed through the menu a thousand times. I had no idea what I wanted, what I needed, or what would be best. I'm so accustomed to sharing an entree with Philip. I'm also accustomed to his distinct ability to pinpoint his preferences and act upon them.

Just when I thought, "I'll have a glass of water with a bowl of lemon -- I know this much for sure!", my friend seated next to me said, "I usually split a meal with my husband." I almost hugged her. She planned on ordering the same chicken dish I had been contemplating. I chose the salad, she selected the dessert, and we happily split the entree. Such a deal!

About fourteen of us gathered around one long table and the conversation was calm and reserved at first. But as dinner concluded, some began to loiter with our lemon-water. The sharing continued as the visiting turned to confiding. Two or three of us would lean in closer to speak and hear about delicate matters, but then spring back in a commotion of laughter as we reveled in relating with one another.

Thank You, Lord, for shared lives. Thank You for tiny little vacations from routine where You bless us with relaxation and revival. Thank You, Thank You.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

JW On the Road

James left for a mission trip to Wyoming this morning. Our household is already experiencing the dreaded "JW-void". We'll have way less fun this week, but we should end up with more cottage cheese, fewer smoothies, and a slightly lower water bill. (that guy is crazy about showers)

This morning Ash asked me where JW was. I said, "Wyoming". She remembered, "Oh, he's talking with people about Jesus." I confirmed her report. Then she marveled at James' apparent nation-wide people skills: "Does Uncle James know people in every town??" Give him a couple years :)

Dear Father, bless James and the others as they venture out to share Your love. I praise You for creating James for such good works. As he leaves the comfort of home, he seems to enter his spiritual comfort zone. Work through Him to accomplish Your will. Help him rely on You for everything. Bring him back safely if You please. Thank You for blessing our home with him.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We Should Know Better

Hang in there...I DO have a point, I promise :)

I was on the phone with Philip’s sister the other day. She said, “I’ve been reading your blog, and I just love it. I really needed to know that your house was dirty sometimes and that you get frustrated with your kids. It really encouraged me.” (I’m glad my grump & grime could make her day!) Her point was that though we’ve been related for years, we’ve never taken the time to share in depth… She’s a refreshingly transparent person. She is humble and honest and talkative. So in about an hour, one can know her quite well. I’m a little more hard to crack. She just knows the Thanksgiving/Birthday Cari…quite a different girl from Everyday Cari.

I talked with my aunt one day. It had been a while since we had visited, but she knew everything that had been going on in the Johnson household. She said, “I read your blog and I feel like I get to chat with you all the time!” I responded with, “I’m glad you enjoy the blog, but since I don’t know when you do, and you don’t respond, I’m not feelin’ the whole ‘chat’ vibe.”

When my great aunt –meaning: older, not necessarily better than the aunt mentioned above – reads my blog, she immediately sends an email. I email her back, and sometimes we do the whole dance again. It’s loads of cross-generational fun.

My mom, who is super great, has expressed a mild aversion to reading my blog. She feels that this information is intended for the masses, and therefore lacks the special qualities indicative of optimal mother/daughter communication. I understand. She needs my personal attention. I want to give her that.

I seldom surf the net. With dial-up, it’s more like paddling on your belly –really slowly. The other night I followed some links and read some new blogs for the first time. I read and read and read. I read through the comments of one site. The majority of the 150+ comments on a single post was, “I feel like I know you even though we’ve never met face to face.” Over and over again, this feeling was expressed.

There is one other friend I’ll mention. She constantly writes to find out what’s up. When she specifically asks for an update, I usually reply with the highlights and invite her to read the blog. She refuses then later laments that she “never knows what’s going on” with us. I don’t get it.

I think through these blogger dynamics and my thoughts turn to the Kingdom. Words are powerful. God knows who you REALLY are because He knit you together in your mother’s womb. His desire is that you know who He REALLY is. Don’t settle for who people say He is. Don’t rely on who you THINK He is. Learn His character. And here’s a fun fact: He never changes! He’s the same yesterday, Thanksgiving, today, birthdays, and tomorrow!

How did God reveal Himself to mankind? “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) Though Christ came for the world and the Bible is read by the masses, the Creator offers His personal touch to each believer. He desires to commune with you. Communication is two-way. Don’t just lurk in the pages of scripture, and don’t merely babble and blab your prayers. Listen and speak. He will listen and speak.

“No one has ever seen God, but God the Only Begotten who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (John 1:18) Though we have yet to meet Him face to face (it’s coming, people!) we can know Him. And as we grow in our knowledge of Him, we can respond more and more appropriately to His marvelous, matchless grace. “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

My closest friend called yesterday to chat. She had read something online and “knew for sure that I would be upset”. I’ve never said the words to her, “Boy if yadda-yadda ever happens, I’m gonna be hacked off.” She just knows me. She’s miles away and still assesses and responds accurately. That’s what I love about her the most. She has taken the time to know me. She is honest with me. She rebukes and encourages me. She REALLY knows me and still REALLY loves me. I’m pretty sure God taught her that.

(Romans 1:18-25) “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities –his eternal power and divine nature –have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator –who is forever praised.”

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Late Show

My husband just walked in from his impromptu trip to the movie store with James.

"Always thinking of you, Babe", he proclaims as he presents the video case proudly. "Isn't this the dude you like?"

"Um, no."

Beyond the leading man's profile, I skim the cover for clues to what would have led my darling to select this movie "just for me". No Gweneth or Reese or Drew or even Denzell or Anthony. No romance; no comedy. Ahh, this must be it... The subtitle: "Dungeon Siege".

Yep, I'm a sucker for a dungeon siege. Doesn't that cinematic genre scream: "Cari would LOVE this!"?

The whole time I've been typing, James has been over my shoulder being completely goofy. When I popped him with a backhand to the chest, he whined, "I'm just tryin' to make the blog, too." Now that they've starred in their own post, I have shunned the menfolk to the living room to view their rental. I know, it's shocking that I'm not joining them.

I'm sorry, but I have to post this and then scroll down and read "Why I Dig My Man" so that this little incident doesn't spoil my evening. After that I'm gonna shower and hit the hay. We had a little rooster named Randy visiting all week, and tomorrow, he'll be rising with the sunshine that gleams off the Gulf. (tiny, selfish 'yay') Tomorrow morning, I might get to skip the sixes altogether. (I miss him and Abby already...super kids, Jess!)

Thank You, Lord, for family days. Thank You for Cara Grace. Thank You for watching over children as they sleep. Help us grow and honor You in ALL our ways today. Thank You for Your mercies. Thank You for all the privileges and opportunities with which You bless me. I am joyfully grateful. Thank You.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Propriety Restored

After yesterday's rather graphic post, I am compelled to offer compensatory portions of modesty and discretion. However, current life experience is failing to lend anything to report that would adequately fulfill such a purpose.

For instance, I could write about our dinner outing last night...where I spent the vast majority of the evening in the bathroom with one or two toddlers...ultimately cleaning the major "accident" we had been attempting to prevent.

Or, I could share the spiritual parallels I've perceived concerning a disciplined life and... toilet training.

Better yet, I could recap yesterday's missionary story that the boys and I read...the one including minimally clad stone-aged tribesmen...and their "gourds".

Do you sense the underlying theme of my life? Body functions, body functions.

So I shall refrain from putting any current events into paragraph form. Please enjoy this slightly outdated photo of my precious children displaying color-coordinated cuteness!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My Man

This is what I dig about my man:

His love for God and me is devoted and demonstrative.
I love who I am when I'm around him.
He is funny, mostly when he isn't trying.
He has the best blue eyes!
He is the friendliest guy I know. He cares for so many people.
He has never been embarrassed in his whole life. Seriously.
He exudes gentle strength.
He works harder and happier than anyone I know.
He has great legs and stinkin' pop-eye forearms.
I love who I am when I'm around him.


This morning the boys and I were trying to get an hour of lessons in before I headed out to Bible Study. It turned into 30 minutes of lessons interrupted by 15 minutes of giggling and then we just had to stop. Before we cracked up, we cracked open the Human Anatomy book for this school year. ( know where this is headed)

We read about the endocrine system and the respiratory system with little incident. Then we saw the paragraph and ILLUSTRATION of the urinary system. Giggles galore. I said, "Guys, are you really gonna crack up laughing every time we see a penis this year? What about every time we see a nose, or an elbow? This is Human Anatomy and we are going to study it all year. OK?"

"Eh-hem. Yes Ma'am."

Beep. Turn the page.

Ah, the reproductive system complete with more illustrations. I'm thinking we should go back to video master teachers. We concentrated on reading the paragraph that listed organs and described processes. As the boys alternated reading aloud, I corrected many of their initial pronunciations. Despite four sibling births, and some age-appropriate, informational fly-by's over the last few years, Landen had missed some key components to the "big picture". "Mom, this picture makes it look like a baby would come out down where go to the bathroom."

Yes, well...

I sipped my coffee. I looked at my watch. Luke called my bluff and clued his older brother in. "Dude, girls have three holes: tee-tee, poo-poo, and that Virginia deal."

We're done. Really, really done. Like, forever. Seriously.