Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gentle Breezes

We had THE BEST walk around the block today. Ardyn pushed her dolly in the umbrella stroller. I pushed Mari in "Ol' bessy" -- our hand-me-down, navy blue, Noah's ark stroller that would have been THE BOMB in 1998. Mari loves it because there is no safety tray in front of her, so if her waist straps are even the slightest bit loose, she can stand up on the foot rest and ride standing up....way too much faith in three strands of decade-old canvas strapping. Ok, so the four of us headed down the driveway. (The boys and Ashli stayed home to run their remote control cars.)

Some sort of front was coming in. It was 70 degrees with wind gusts of 50 mph. We did ok down the driveway, but as we turned northward, we COULD NOT WALK. My windbreaker totally inflated, and Ardyn's shirt billowed behind her. We looked at each other...hair blowing straight up, plump cheeks slightly flattened. We cracked up. We tried to run. Nah-sir. We cracked up more. Ardyn laughed so hard she let go of her buggy and away went dolly! Then we cracked up some more! I looked down at Mari. She was doing her best impression of "Rose" on the bow of the Titanic....standing, chin up, chest high, arms outstretched. Despite the deafening gusts of wind, I swear I heard Celine singing, "Near...Far.....Wherever you are....". We continued to receive bonus cardio points for "resistance training". That is, until we got to the edge of the highway and had to turn around. Now the wind was chasing us from behind. We were running involuntarily down the road. We were cracking up AGAIN.

Surely with the wind, and all the ab-clinching laughter, we burned some major calories??? I lost 2.5 pounds this week. Yay! That means that Philip and I together have lost 28 pounds in 26 days. That sounds good to me. The wind that brought us so much joy this afternoon apparently brought equal amounts of trouble for Philip and his line crew. Trees and power poles are down area-wide. He's working hour #16....hopefully he'll come home to rest soon. The overtime will definitely blow away some more debt!

Speaking of being blown away: Sunday morning, the adult choir sang "Breath of the Spirit". It is a beautifully arranged medley including "Spirit of the Living God". It is a powerfully moving song. The lines that speak to me most today are...

Sometimes there is a mighty rushing wind,
The power of God that cleanses me from sin.
Sometimes there is a quiet gentle breeze,
That flows from heaven filling me with peace.

Thank You, God, for cleansing me from sin. Thank You for sandblasting my heart so that the overflow of my lips would bring life to those around. Thank You for Your mercies that are new every morning. Thank You for Your peace. You are all-powerful and altogether wonderful!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Seriously Funny

James took Landen on his customary birthday luncheon this week. Landen announced "China King" as the restaurant of choice...literally... the buffet there is enormous. Landen filled his plate with cheese sticks, pizza slices, tator tots, pudding, and orange wedges. He looked across the table at James and gleamed: "I LOVE Chinese food!" James cracked up because he knew Landen was being serious.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Can You Help Me?"

Wednesday night, Landen went to the mall to walk with me after church. We stopped by the grocery to pick up just a couple things. As we walked out to our car, a woman in a parked car called for our attention. I turned and approached her car as she continued to roll down her window. (Philip had just handed me my weekly allowance of $20 before we left church)
"My son and I need a place to stay tonight, can you give me $20?"
Willing, yet skeptical I questioned, "Where can you stay for $20?"
"Oh, I have $10 already...there's a cheap hotel that will let me stay for $30"
"Oh, good, where is it?"
"Uh...down the road..."
"OK, I'll follow you there and take care of the bill."
Seemingly disheartened, she stuttered, "Uh...oh...I don't want you to do that."
"Have a good evening." I said as I walked to my car.

I was disheartened as well. I didn't know if I had been unhelpful or lied to. Perhaps both? Landen was truly bothered by our encounter. He asked me if I had heard her tone of voice as she pleaded with us to help her. "Did you hear how she said, 'Can you help me'?" I did. And the Lord knows I had released the bill in my pocket. I tried to explain to him that sometimes people need money for drugs, or beer or whatever. I pointed out that I was willing to meet her need, but she just wanted cash. I didn't think she had been honest with us. He was unimpressed. He spoke up in her defense: "She had a kid! How could she be on drugs?". Innocent and unimpressed.

Last year there was a man standing at the entrance drive to Walmart. His sign said, "Need money...Anything will help". Landen begged me to circle around and give him another chance to share his money with the man. I circled. Landen gave. The neighbor thanked us.

There is man who lives in our town who has been apparently homeless since the boys were little. We got to know him as we waited in the McDonald's drive-thru after play dates. We would give him money for food or coffee. After we had seen him a few times, I invited him to a luncheon at church. (I thought it was stupid that he had such simple, obvious needs, and we were on our way to do what he needed most...eat) He seemed to have a good time, but was very quiet. He ate a lot. One of the men at church was BESIDE HIMSELF that I had picked Mr. Richard up and driven him to the church. He offered to take him back to his "camp" in the Kroger parking lot. We still see Mr. Richard. We don't frequent drive-thru's as often (which is where he scopes the parking lot for lost change) The kids do roll down their windows to greet him when we're close enough for him to hear.

Ok, back to the parking lot question...Do we have to know all the facts before we are helpful? Is it poor stewardship to blindly contribute to bondage. Or do we contribute to the bondage by turning away.

I thought about it as I lay in bed. She had a decent car (same year as mine). The backseat was empty....no clothes, or belongings that would typify someone with a car but nowhere to stay. Then I thought, maybe all her stuff is at her boyfriend's house, and he kicked her out, and now she doesn't know where to go. That theory sent me back into guilt-ville. Why didn't she tell me that? Why did I need to know?

Help me know what to do next time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day Off

Yesterday the area school districts were on holiday.
We decided to take the day off as well. I mean the WHOLE day off.
Three friends came to play. We did no school and no chores.

Today my house is a wreck.
All four laundry baskets are full.
The kitchen is a mess and a half.
I'm a little out of sorts, but ALL of my children seem happy.

Why doesn't anyone notice the overwhelming amount of clutter?
I feel I should bring it to their attention quite soon.
1:00 pm, perhaps.
It's neither MLK jr's birthday, nor Landen's, so I believe this afternoon we will have to come to our senses and find our productive groove.

I let Ardyn and her friend "create" in the kitchen yesterday. They cleaned up after themselves for the most part, but then I let the boys help themselves to snacks during their late night video party. Besides the stench of burnt popcorn that is bound to resurface the next several times we use the microwave...It's just the sink. The drain is stopped and there is a frightening blend of "flavored water", corn kernels, apple peels, re-hydrated jerky, and floating marshmallows. This concerns me the most. Marshmallows--unscathed by an overnight soak in acidic fluid. You'd think they'd be water-soluble, at least. Disturbing. S'more? N'more.

I'll bid you farewell, gather my various forms of Lysol, and assemble my giddy little children and together we will conquer our self-inflicted chaos.

Thank You, Lord, for holidays.
Thank You, Lord, for the restoration of order.
May our sweetness be as resilient as marshmallows.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Ok, today was the second "weigh-in". I'll give our results as a team. Philip and I have collectively lost 23 pounds in 19 days. Not bad. Well, yes, it is very bad. Because only 9 of those pounds are mine. I gulp gallons of water each day, never eat after 7pm, hoof my hiney around and around our block--carrying weights --sometimes twice a day, eat like a bird (a very sad little unsweetened bird), and shed ONE WHOLE POUND this week. woo-pee. My darling has given up sweet tea. Yep. 14 pounds down the stinking drain. No cardio. I guess he drinks water....all I see is him poppin' the mixed nuts and diet dr pepper EVERY night at 11. He's down a jean size, I'm in the same jeans, down 2 bra sizes. What in the world?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Ok, so adding those ads kinda shut the rig down, huh?

Christmas.... Very nice. I think I had geared my emotions to be without Philip and so even though he showed up, I was half-way down the road of sadness. It was taken weeks to try to make that u-turn. I need therapy, it's ok, you can say it.

New Years.... Very fun. We had a bunch of friends come over and eat brunchie foods. We played RockStar on PS2 and lit fireworks in the backyard. We welcomed the new year with comfortable conversation and cream cheese in various forms.

Birthday Season... Ashlin turned 5 while Philip was in Oklahoma. Luke turned 10 on January 5th. Landen will be 12 next Wednesday. Ardyn will be 7 on February 2nd. Pheww! The boys are having their second annual "Johnson Bowl" next Saturday. They've invited 12 friends and their fathers to play flag football and eat pizza. It should be fun.

Pizza... We have joined a dozen other couples at church in a competition to be the "Biggest Loser". It's a team sport, with no raw data. We combine our weights and weight-loss and report our percentage lost each week. We started Jan 2, and have reported once. Philip and I came in 4th this week, but the competition runs through March. There were some skinny little folks ahead of us and we're pretty sure they couldn't conjure up another 5 pounds. We've got so many pounds to choose from, we should be able to lead the pack in a short while.

Maybe not this week... Yesterday we celebrated 14 years of marriage. Fourteen years! Can you even believe? We went to Olive Garden --just like the good ol' days. I was a good girl and ordered minestrone and salad...no bread sticks. I did eat all 4 Andes mints, though. I love those things. Philip did half a tour of Italy last night and the other half for lunch today. I tried to tell him about the salad dressing and Alfredo sauce. He was persuaded otherwise.

I'm so glad I married him. We've had some rough patches, but just patches...the vast meadow of our relationship is lush and green from all vantages. ok, that was cheezy...but seriously, I looked across the table at him last night and realized that I wouldn't want to be eating with anyone else in the whole world. He's kind, and honest and real. He thinks I'm cute. That's gonna take us far, y'all!

It was fun to dream together for 2008. By the time we celebrate our 15th anniversary (in Hawaii???) we intend to be trim, healthy, debt-free (except for the house), and one year happier. We are off to a great start. Praise the Lord!

New stuff... I am going to take up the cello again. I bought Todd Agnew's Christmas CD and began to miss the days of Travis Jr. High where he and I battled it out each week for first chair. We took guitar class together in college, and he seems to have put that learning to good use! He was always more talented than I. But I think I can do it. I've got a library book, and a lead on a used cello. AND I've conditioned my wrist flexibility and finger strength through several hours of Guitar Hero. I'm pitiful...shameful in many ways.

You can pray for me... obviously with no sweets, and making time to exercise each day, and living intensely toward frugality, AND re-learning a stringed instrument... You can pray for me. I also need the Lord to heal my wretched mouth...I guess heal my wretched heart, then that junk spewing from my mouth will have healing qualities. I'm just not sweet with my kids. I don't know if I'm tired of being surrounded by them. (That's not their fault, I chose the current set-up) Or if I've raised them so poorly that I shudder to see the result of my efforts and then transfer my disgust with myself onto them (That's neither their fault). I keep waiting to "be better". It's not happening. Help me, if you could.

Proverbs 15 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly...The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life...A happy heart makes the face cheerful...The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly...A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel...A man finds joy in giving an apt reply--how good is a timely word! The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil...A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise...The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor."