Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Greetings from the road. The kids and I are "keeping Austin weird" this week. No, we're really keeping Baby Johnathan fed, dry, and cheerful. Yesterday was total chaos. Today is MUCH better. We're on a schedule people. After lunch we went for the most well-orchestrated walk known to man: Luke walked "Oscar", Landen pushed Ashlin, Ardyn pushed Mari, and I pushed J-double-dub. We made it up to the community park, but returned quickly so Mari and Johnathan could nap AT THE SAME TIME. Gold...pure gold.

There are hiking plans for this evening, but the sisters-in-law may sit that one out...with all 0-5 year olds. I just wanted to log on and say hey. I'm gonna go lay down for just a sec before the older kids' movie ends.

I've learned two things for sure:
#1. I CAN supervise/feed/inspire/discipline/cuddle with/read to/clothe & listen to 6 children.
#2. If #1 ever becomes the new normal we will definitely need to consider adding satellite TV with DVR to the mix.

Kidding! If Rebecca can do it, I can....maybe. For now, we go back to 5 little darlings on Saturday...ooh and one big, strong, handsome darling-daddy that we all especially miss. (and James, we miss James, too)

Have you read "The Shack"? Fair warning: I'm fixin' to blog that rig. You have two choices. A) Read it quickly...which won't be a problem...I read it in less than a week. or B) diddle and dawdle and miss out on the opportunity for life-shaping discussions. Totally up to you. If you can't get to or B.A.M., I'll send you a copy. I want you to read it THAT badly. Tim, yours is in the mail. Anyone else need one? Let me know.

"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." I Peter 4:8

"It's not how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts." Mother Teresa

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Proverbs 15:30

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart,
And good news gives health to the bones."
This verse is so empowering. We CAN improve some one's life. Right now, today. Smile, people! Deliberately catch the attention of a passerby and toss them a cheerful look. You will bring joy to their heart. Do you have some good news? Share it, folks! God's Goodness is all around. Purposefully watch for it, notice it, spread it. You will strengthen those around you. May we each be an encouragement to those who are sent our way today. "Bless You, Father."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Big Day Off

Yesterday was fabulous.
I got up before everyone else and went for a walk.
I came back, fed the kids breakfast and folded laundry.
I showered and readied myself for the day at large.

Philip and I left around noon.
We shopped in Terrell and enjoyed a late, light lunch.
We made it to the ballpark and met up with the Flannerys.
We spread blankets on the grassy hillside and soaked up the sunshine, friendship and tunes.

Then it was over to our seats in the home-run porch.
As the sun set, the warmth of good company dominated the cool night air.
After a brisk walk back to the car, we hugged our goodbyes and headed back.
It was a quiet ride home.
Philip and I occasionally brought up things we rarely get to talk about in the busyness of routine.
We held hands and I dozed between topics.
Just as we were exiting the highway, Alison Krauss began to sing on the radio.
"The smile on your face lets me know that you need me,
There's a look in your eyes sayin' you'll never leave me,
The touch of you hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall.
You say it best when you say nothin' at all..."

When we returned home, everyone was asleep, and the house was tidy. (plus on JW) Philip offered to teach the Sunday School lesson so I could sleep in... and the spirit of holiday continued. I wondered what could improve such a perfect day, when he turned on the TV and one of my favorite, old, obscure movies was just beginning. I watched a few moments of it...satisfied in the mere opportunity.

Now it's back to the real world for a while. But IT even looks better and brighter today.
Thank You, Lord, for refreshment. Thank You for friends. Thank You for my husband. Thank You for my big day off. I love You.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Plug and Promotion

Philip and I are headed out to meet our collective BFFs at the Third Day concert/Ranger Game. Should be HUGE fun! 65 degrees and breezy....yipee!

When you get a minute, you should check out my brother's blog. The link is over on the right called "Tim". If you've heard me speak of him, you're more familiar with the endearing term: "My stinky brother". He's just stinky on a lot of levels.... HOWEVER, he is a pretty good writer and has some refreshing insights on Kingdom living. I appreciate his offerings, and I hope you will be encouraged too.

Enjoy your weekend to the fullest!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Giving Credit Where It's Due

I was at a meeting this week where we were asked to list our favorite physical feature and favorite personality trait...concerning ourselves.

Long pause.

Women all across the room were groaning with hesitancy. One poor woman spoke sheepishly about her hands. "I guess...if I HAVE to pick something I like..." she started. The same spirit of obligated humility embodied most of the remarks. A few of my fellow funsters implemented our tried and true defense mechanism. "I'll say my eyes...or any body part that doesn't gain weight!" I thought it might be easier as we spoke of more noble virtues: our personalities. Everyone was still visibly uncomfortable sharing. My friend next to me was at a loss until those around her commended her six-day-per-week running regimen. She shrugged her petite shoulder and announced to the group, "I guess I'm a little determined."

She "guesses" she's a "little" determined. She finds herself mildly driven? What in the world?

Have we been deprogrammed to such an extent that we cannot even offer solicited words of personal affirmation? Do we fear sounding arrogant? Would it simply lack propriety to speak highly of ourselves?

We have nothing but grace. God's marvelous, beautiful grace. And this grace could/should be praised with every breath. God made my eyes. He also formed my thighs....I "added on". Why don't I confess that I'm working on the surface demolition, but that the foundation is intact and wonderful. God made my mouth. He sculpted my lips. I think they are lovely. Is that so hard to say? I'm just appreciating the artist. What artist's praise would be complete without a little "ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the piece of work.

God made me logical. I am grateful to Him for that. Why do I struggle to say the sentence: "I love that I am logical." God made me funny. It would be presumptuous to say, "I'm so glad I'm funny." Wouldn't it? Or have people been giggling at my comments all morning? Hasn't it been fun to be funny? Isn't God great for giving me a unique perspective on life and a unique ability to communicate that view? Without God's handiwork, it wouldn't be possible. I wouldn't be taking the credit....I would be acknowledging the truth. We are fearfully and wonderfully a loving creator.

Next time someone asks me what I like about myself, the short answer will be: "God formed me in my mother's womb and He's transforming me right this very moment to love more deeply." The long answer will include: naturally greying hair, cute chubby toes, encouraging words, songs in my heart, legs, eyes, freckles, pinkie fingers, dedication, creativity, and sense for humor.

May all creation bring glory to our Creator.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Smarty Pants

Like so often, all the kids were in my room....just milling around. A noise was coming from my purse on the ground. The low battery on my cell phone was causing it to beep for some juice. Instead of plugging it into the wall, I sent a child to plug it into my car charger in the garage, so that when we headed out to run errands it could complete its refreshment without interruption.

The only thing interrupted was my short term memory....

An hour or so later, we were about to leave. Again, everyone was assembled around my desk. (What is the deal?) I grabbed my purse but didn't see my phone in its pouch. I panicked because the purse had been sitting on the ground and Mari could have taken any of its contents into all the corners of her world. I found my keys, but still, no phone. I asked everyone, "Who has seen my phone?" Four blank stares. The 19-month-old, however, showed piqued interest; as if to say, "Phone....ahh, yes....that cold, silvery, lovely beepy thing....what was your question?".

I figured she took it somewhere, but I remained calm. Over the last week she had led us to the exact location of several of her hide'n'seek projects. I bent down and peered into her eyes. I politely asked, "Mari, where is Momma's phone?" Her eyes shifted to the left and she thought. Then she turned abruptly and waddled through the hall and house with great purpose. We all followed her all the way to the laundry room. She stood as if she had reached the edge of her world. She pointed out to the garage and announced, "Cah!". I was shocked:"Oh, Mari! The CAR! You're right!" She gave herself an ovation. We all joined in.

We loaded up and headed out, but not before I wrote "ginkgo biloba" on my grocery list.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mid Night

This is night numero three that I find myself unable to sleep. I'm about to sneak into Mari's room and finish switching out seasonal wardrobes. Do you think she'll notice me? Could I fold clothes in the dark? What else could I do? Bake? What if all the mixing and stirring makes me sleepy. Who will wait for the timer? Laundry? perhaps....ugh, no. Read? What do you think I've been doing since 9pm? Write? trying...

All the men of the house have found gainful employment for tomorrow. It'll just be girls at the homestead. Ardyn said she's sad about Philip being gone, but that if it means all the others will be gone, she's okay with it. He and I have a date scheduled for tomorrow night....we'll see.
Mari is coughing in her sleep. Could be the quarter-inch of pollen blanketing every exterior horizontal surface. Could be a bug. Time will tell. Lord, protect her and heal her.

Ashli is shocking me on a daily basis with her mastery of the "three R's". I guess she's been hearing about short vowels, lower case, and fact families all her life. I feel almost guilty about the bountiful harvest of learning that seems to have taken place with so few personalized seeds sown. I spend time teaching her when I can, but in my defense, she was not even supposed to be "enrolled" in Johnson academy this year. "She's not on my list!" My favorite part of our time together is when she reacts to my praise. She shrugs one shoulder, blinks really slowly, and says with her fading lisp and a grin, "Mo-o-om, I've been doing my thcool for a long time, now!"

ok, I'm a little sleepy. I'm gonna calmly log off, and calmly go lie down. Sh-sh-sh.....

Thank You, Abba Father, for never sleeping. You watch over us and keep us in Your love. Thank You for my husband. I love him deeply...You taught me that. Thank You for my kids. They are good and perfect gifts from You. Teach me to treasure them more often. Help me as I raise them for You. When they are away from this home, I trust You to lead them and keep them. Give me rest. Literally...I need some rest. I love You.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Clinch: v. To settle definitively

I kept the official score book for Landen's game the other night. I can watch a little league game and even notate each turn of event, but not without careful, quiet, concentration. Realizing my challenge, I asked James to keep the girls at home since it was a late game. My plan fell apart as three chatty women joined me in the press box. They embraced the duty of operating the electronic score board in a collaborative, conversational style. As we all sat together peering down at the game, I tried to find a delicate balance between focus and friendliness; between duty and discourtesy. While keeping my eyes on the game, I would politely smile and nod as they shared stories about people and places I knew not. Occasionally I would be obliged to interject a dull "wow" or force a chuckle to maintain both my attention to the game's details and my frail reputation as a nice person.

At one point I thought to myself, "Relax! It's little league. It's not that hard...Philip could keep the Ranger score book on a stationary bike while flossing!" Then I would argue with myself (yes, it's sad, really) I would argue with myself, "Don't let your guard down! Was that a strike? Ha! You really couldn't say for sure, could you? Look Alive, Cari....this could be the game where the coaches begin to argue over the last play on third and you'll have to march down onto the field to provide "the official record"....Is that the second out?" "Stop arguing and pay attention!"

And wouldn't you know it. In the last inning the gaggle o' geese, pardon me, group of ladies, did not properly indicate one of the runs. Below us, the mom of the phantom runner left the stands to protest the scoreboard with the officials. Meanwhile, with unconvincing confidence and sketchy proof, I urged the women to increase our team's score by one. They were dawdling....and discussing! And in all my reputing and reviewing....and all their recapping and recounting...the umpire turned toward the press box and gave the dreaded nonverbal summons! For the love of all things reasonable!

With elevated blood pressure, I descended the staircase. By the time I made it to the field, the two teams were coming out from their respective dugouts to cross the diamond. I had anticipated bench-clearing frenzy, but what I found was peaceful, sportsmanlike handshakes as the game had come to an end. Each open-palmed fella slid his hand across the opposing 15 open-palmed fellas. Then everyone went home. The game was over. Apparently the run had been real, not imagined...just like my book was about to prove...but no one cared anymore. Apparently the mother of the runner in question had achieved far greater success persuading both coaches and the umps than I had with "Jan" and "Barb" and "Suzie-stinkin'-Q".

Wow. A babysitter and a headache for THIS! I've prayed to see if there be any spiritual truth from my perceived fiasco. I got nothin'. My spirit is weak and my flesh is high-strung. That's the bottom line. May the Lord keep workin' on me. Oh, and, congratulations to Landen. Go Cubs! I'm not really feelin' the calling to long-term score-keeping. I feel led to bring drinks! Yeah, beverages....that's my gifting!