Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Less than 2 weeks, but 2100 bucks needed

Stephen and Sarah will be going on a missions trip with Steve's jr/sr class. They leave May 10th. They will be working at an orphanage in several ways:
teacher aides
you name it.

So far the young missionaries (as a whole class) have raised all but 2100. They've done bake sales, sub sales, change drives, and sponsor letters. This coming week they will be selling snowballs every day after school.

Would you please pray about supporting them financially? This is Stephen's humble request, not mine. If you make a check to our church and memo it "Mexico trip" it's tax deductible. If you make it to me, I'll turn it over to the school. (Promise! I know I could use a mani-pedi and hot stone massage, but....).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Senior Dinner Site Recommendations?

I volunteered to research restaurants for the senior dinner of the CDS. The problem I have had is in finding a restaurant that will reserve a private dining room for only 13 guests. There are only three graduates, six parents, and two additional couples (principals and spouses).
I need your help!

Here's what I know about what the kids and parents want thus far:

1. Italian or Chinese cuisine (PF Chang's has no private rooms)
2. $35 per person budget
3. Formal
4. Little Italy or somewhere they can walk around and feel special and talk about school memories
5. Safe location

The evening consists of dinner and then the principal shares special things about each graduate. Then the fathers share touching memories and bless their graduate. It's a real tear-jerker that I'm looking forward to!

They don't want to follow in their predecessors' tradition of getting a limo. But they do want to whoop it up a bit before or afterward (i.e. a day/evening of dinner PLUS some kind of outing).

Got any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sarah: Part 2

"And she shall bear a son (or daughter) and wrap him (or her) in pink or blue,
and you shall find him (or her) lying in a bassinet...."

This was the message we wrapped in rocking horse paper for the grandparents. PopPop opened his first on Christmas Eve. It took him a second. When we told him the due date, it took him just a little longer. "Four more months, that's it? Congratulations, girl!" And he gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek along with a quick hug. Pappaw and Ima got the "gift" the next day. They took a couple breaths trying to make sense of it. After all, they were watching their 8 month-old grandson on the floor trying to crawl in and out of the boxes his toys came in. Once again, hugs and kisses abounded.

The night I went into labor, we called PopPop. He flew over and told us to "get going! And bring home a pretty one." We knew what he meant. He wanted a granddaughter. His only granddaughters were hundreds of miles away in Ohio, a separation that grieved him a lot, especiallyat holidays. He had only raised sons, and they had produced a high percentage of male children as well. A little Zub granddaughter in Baltimore would be a welcome, (spoiled rotten) treat.

You were expected on April 27th, but I have a habit of bearing children early. (Might be the only thing I do early, perhaps because of the involuntary nature of birth?) April 21st turned into April 22nd and finally you arrived around 5:30 pm. Three words: beautiful, dark-haired, and crying. Your dad had wanted his first girl to be named Sarah Grace long before he ever had a wife. I had no say in the matter, but I loved the name. Still do. Sarah means "princess" and "Grace" means .....uh, let's see....grace! I believe God gave me a prophetic sensing that one day you would walk among kings and princes as well as with the lowly of the world. I wasn't sure what it meant, but I have seen the prophecy unveiling.

Back to Babyland:

You were a serious, unhappy, colicky baby. You'd set Ben off with your crying, and pretty soon I'd join you in tears on the kitchen floor, all three of us bawling. Dad, poor man, often faced the giants of hormones, diaper rash, and projectile vomiting upon his arrival home from work. Is it any wonder he felt his day was just starting at 5 pm? I remember the night we tried everything from eight till midnight to get you to stop crying. Finally I put you in the car and drove. No desyination, just a ride. Dad stayed home with Ben and went to bed. I felt a kindred spirit with all beyond-their-wits mothers as I cried and drove, cried and drove. Ended up at Dunkin' Donuts, the only place still open. (It's a safe place to be at midnight; all the cops are there.) At the drive-thru I pulled up to the window to order a Bear Claw and a decaf coffee. I wanted the taste, but oh boy, I didn't want to be awake any longer that I had to. The cashier leans out her window, peeks into the back seat and says, "Oh, what a sweet baby."

You were asleep.

Tomorrow: Part 3 (hang in there)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sarah: Part 1

Slow down!
Slow down this ride.
The clock ride.
It goes too fast.
Nineteen times it has come by to pick you up and carry you to the next year, Sarah.

I remember the day we discovered you had joined us on the clock ride. Ben was only eight months old and I believed the old wives' tale that it's hard to get pregnant while nursing. Besides, we wanted four children in ten years and wouldn't have minded them close together. I went to bed one night in mid-December, wide awake but exhausted from chasing your GI Joe crawler of a big brother. As I lay there rehearsing the day, I felt something. Like butterflies, except not in my stomach.

The feeling was too recent for me to have forgotten it--or even doubted it. Could it be? I nudged your dad (okay, I think I fully rolled him 180 degrees toward me) and said, "Honey! If this isn't a baby in my belly, I don't know what it is." He said, "Yeh, right. I think it's the broccoli." But a few more times you kicked and I thought, "I am at least 18 weeks along to feel this!"

I had a pregnancy test the next day and the nurse calculated my due date. "Congratulations. You're 22 weeks along." Wow. How could I have not known? Well, there was the typical absence of monthly clues (nursing did halt that for awhile!), my abs were getting stronger from the workouts (or so I thought), and I was staying slim from just being YOUNG and never getting a moment to sit down except for feeding the baby and answering nature calls.

We were stunned, elated, a bit panicked. Most moms get at least 34 weeks' notice. I had 18. I was still wearing size 10 (can you believe it?) jeans zipped up at five months along. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt like an abuser squishing you, but it was December 12th and we wanted to break the news on Christmas Eve to Dad's family and on Christmas Day to mine. What a bundle of kisses and hugs we got that year. The anticipated gift of another grandbaby was always better than anything wrapped in paper.

---------Stopping here to take you to dinner. Will continue later.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Loving Military Mail

So far I've heard from all four branches of the US Armed Services, and how wonderful it feels to see an email or (better yet) a real paper letter in the mailbox! I can only imagine how it must make their day to get something from "home" --even from a stranger. To see English, to see name brands in the care packages, to see a familiar state on the return address, to hear about "normal" life.

One guy, Eric F., who is my son Ben's age, is in Kuwait, an Electronics Tech for the Navy. He gave me a little education (that I asked for) on how the Navy does their ranking. He is so nice. In co-op last week I read aloud a short email he wrote thanking Mia, one of my little art students, for her drawing. She looked up from her work at the sound of her name and just BEAMED. I thought she was going to levitate. It was so special because she is usually critical of her own art, always asking for help, rarely smiling. He says the Ladybugs picture is on the window at their helpdesk, the first thing people see when they walk in.

I've also heard from others, whom I've mentioned, but the one I feel compelled to stay in touch with, and probably draw out, is Ashly. She's a young, pretty soldier who has yet to get anything from home. There's just such a lonely tone to her letters, and since loneliness is something I battlle (which is best battled by reaching out, not expecting others to do the same for me) then I feel this is my mission for now. It's a way of being on foreign soil without actually stepping foot in the sand. (I don't have to deal with sniper fire either, thank God.)

Must admit it's really hard to curb my appetite for snatching up stuff for soldiers. Sarah and I went to BB's and they had a HUGE box of lotions and shave gels for 3/$1.00. I mean where else can you buy unlimited quantities of that? I bought 9, with self-control. Then there's the single drink mix packs. I like to put one in each letter. I try to write a letter or two a day to various soldiers (Attn: AnySoldier/Sailor/Marine/Airman). Then there was beef jerky for 1.99 a bag. I seldom buy it cuz it's nearly 4 bucks a bag at Walmart, so I bought 4 bags at 1.99. I also found some really cool men's body wash in bottles shaped like a plastic oil can (you can "grip it" and pour thru the spout). The scent is called Full Throttle. I picked up extra for Stephen since "living your life full throttle for God" has been his motto from a retreat a while ago.

Anyway, if you think of it, please pray for a soldier today. The war might not be something you support, but I hope you realize that fighting the terrorists in their backyard instead of ours is something you should dwell on whenever you're tempted to argue with Bush. If you go a packed stadium without fear of a bomb killing everyone around, thank a Marine.

If you're a service member reading this, you know you have my support--and a care package coming soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Don't Think the Apostle Paul Meant This Kind of Race

Last night we had a really fun care group meeting. We were told to bring a dollar. That's all we were told. When we got there, each of us had to put our name in the bag that Mitzy passed around the room. She and Jim hinted that the game is akin to the Amazing Race. I asked if anyone in the room spoke a foreign language and I insisted I would not rapel down anything. They assured us that English was all we needed and no ropes or harnasses were involved. (Though, looking back, maybe we should've had harnasses.)

Mitzy then drew out three names: Paul, Ronan, and Bill.

These guys became our team leaders. Mitzy chose three names to go with each of the aforementioned guys. I ended up on Team Ronan, along with Karen and Steph.

Mitzy handed each team an envelope which contained five dollars and a set of instructions. The instructions were as follows:
1) Be the first team to get back to the house with a snack to feed 12 people with the money.
2) The snack has to start with the letter that you roll on the lettered die.The snack can be a brand name (e.g. Pringles) or general name (potato chips).
3) Bring your receipt back.
4) A judge (in our case, Kelly) will decide which team had the best snack and followed all the rules.

We rolled the die as fast as we could--our letter was "C"-- and then ran for the cars. Ronan and Karen unbuckled two carseats faster than trained EMTs, and tossed them helter-skelter into the third row. Steph and I hopped in the captains' chairs. Why did I choose this night of all nights to wear a skirt and heels? I dunno, but let's just say Emily Post would've shuddered.

"C" was easy. We could get chips, cookies, cheese, crackers, Corn Nuts. "Where do we go?" I quickly assessed our nearby options.

"I bet Paul goes to Giant!" I said.
"How about Wawa?" Steph asked.
"Nah, it can be hard to get in and out of...safely anyway!" I said. "But Walgreen's is right up here."

Ronan nearly lost his Christianity at the wheel. The van in front of us (not part of our care group) just piddly-poked along Abingdon Road while the rushed Irishman threatened to bump him off (off the literal road, not the road of life) or go around him on the foot-wide shoulder. Thankfully his wife is more level headed. And thankfully she's a nurse just in case he made good on either threat. Meanwhile I'm multi-tasking (ie. hanging on for dear life while telling them where to find the snack aisle). "Two-thirds of the way to the photo counter, turn left! All the snacks are right there!" Such knowledge is downright embarrassing.

Ronan and I stayed out curbside while the other two ran in. I told him that revving the engine of a minivan is just wrong. (So is nearly taking out three pedestrians in the parking lot during our trivial pursuit, but we won't talk about that.)

Seconds later--okay, several long, grueling minutes later-- Karen and Steph come flying like thieves out of Walgreen's. (I think the receipt rule was made in case of
cops, but that's just a guess.) They got Chips Ahoy and wafer cookies. We covered both the proper noun and common noun allowance in one fell swoop. With eleven cents in hand, we zoomed back to the Gayner home.

Once again, Run-the-Red-Light Ronan made threats when he saw Paul's car in his rearview mirror on Toby's street. "Hang on! I'm gonna ride up the sidewalk , across the lawn, and park at the front door. Don't let anybody ahead of us!"

I suggested throwing the car seats in the road behind us. I think I saw it on "Speed Racer" once a long time ago. No wait. Racer X didn't have kids. He used metal spikes. Kids don't last very long riding on metal spikes.

Well, Team Paul --which had gone to Giant--made it back the fastest. I am not one whit surprised. "He drives like that all the time, "I said. Mitzy and Dayna had executed their masterplan at the store. "You stand at the self-checkout, I'll go to a register! " They had Eggo chocolate chip waffles and Entenmann's Pop'Ems (donut holes).

Team Bill had gone to Wawa. I think he realized his Nascar fantasy on Rt. 924. Mind you, the posted speed limit is only 40, but in his book it's only a suggestion. Lauren was in such a hurry she forgot the game rules. She grabbed their Doritoes and ran. "Want your receipt?" the cashier asks as Lauren exits. "No, that's okay, thanks!" For the unfamiliar, Wawa is probably a place where it would truly be a good idea to have proof of purchase if you pull a pit crew number like that.

Back at the ranch, we congratulated Team Paul. No, we didn't. We recited all the ways they cheated and should henceforth never fellowship with us again. Who needs Paul's guitar anyway? We can do karaoke worship. It's been done before.

Then we had a wonderful coffee table spread of C,D, and E goodies. We munched right out of the bags and boxes. Again, Emily Post would've shuddered. But boy, would she have had a blast!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Curriculum Recommendations for First Grade?

It's that time of year again. Time to browse for next year's curriculum. We'll be homeschooling Joel again. I asked him if he wanted to go to "regular school" and he said "no." He likes co-op. He told me he would like to only do homeschool on Tuesdays. Yeh, me too, son.

So, we used My Father's World for kindergarten. It was easy peasy. People have asked what I like about it and I say, "It's easy peasy!" I pushed my older kids almost every step of the way, starting in kindergarten. I had too great a desire for the approval of certain people up until 2005, which drove me to have a few regrets about our pace. Don't get me wrong; I believe in doing excellent work and there's nothing wrong with a strenuous academic plan, but I'm confessing my motives were often wrong.

Back to MWF. It's been easy. I like the animal studies, the book lists, the Bible verses to memorize, the hands-on activities, the user-friendliness of it. (You really don't need to get this curriculum more than a week in advance to be prepared for the first week of school!) I'm just thinking our pace maybe was a little too relaxed! I could have done more, that's for sure. But isn't that every mom's song and dance?

Any recommendations from you gals who are half my age and twice my IQ? I need a first grade curriculum, and may stick with MWF, depending on feedback.

Size 7.5 Testimony

Today around 10 a.m. it occurred to me that my feet weren't hurting. I was barefoot, usually the worst possible thing I can do for these feet that haven't been right since November. I believe my arches fell then. Never have I had chronic foot pain. The plantar fasciitis I had in the one foot in the winter-- which caused searing pain not unlike that of stepping on a two-pronged Lego-- eventually subsided but was replaced with chronic achey pain in both feet and ankles.

I am not saying I am healed. I am saying today my feet don't hurt and I'm thanking God. One pain-free day is worth celebrating.

I want to hear about any of your recent testimonies of any kind! Remember I missed the Sunday when a plethora of people gave testimonies in church. I am feeling like a need a filler-up from other people's experiences. Please comment or link in my box.

Another one is coming.........the great "room reveal"!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Need a New Blog Look

Help me, please, gals. I want to freshen up my blog page. I'd like something floral, with mostly purples and golds, easy on the eyes, white or off-white background, maybe something with a hummingbird or songbirds. Nothing too bright. Pink is hard on my eyes on the screen. How do I find free ones? I'm not very knowledgeable, nor patient, when selecting several, so if you want to point me to a few that fit my checklist, have at it. With my thanks!

Now, back to my hobby room project. Midnight is fast approaching. (I have made good progress, but need to beg for help to hang my fabric color up now. I have one willing volunteer, but need two. That's the tricky part around here. Asking without whining or begging. Can anyone relate?)

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Parents are Leaving for Russia

Please pray for my mom and dad. They are so excited and, naturally, apprehensive about traveling to Birobidzhan. They'll be gone from April 15-29th.

Birobidzhan is a tiny region of Russia way, way, way over there on the eastern side near China.
Siberia ring a bell? It's a place where Hitler sent Jews to die, but instead of their race dying out, they reproduced and became stronger in the cold and distant "forgotten" land!

My folks are going over there to celebrate Passover with their dear friends Andrey and Valeria (who were here last summer) as well as to take much needed items that their congregation and others have generously donated (a laptop being the big ticket item) to aid this couple in spreading the gospel.

I admit I'm a bit nervous for them. Daddy is 74, Mama a few years younger. It's a 26-hour flight over, and 48 back because of a 5- hour layover in Moscow and a 10-hour one in London.

They are taking a veritable pharmacy with them. I also gave them pointers from my experience of what to take (good toilet paper, hand sanitizer, deodorant to hand out to people on the bus, and pictures of loved ones, which I hope include me!).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Two More Days

I'm talking about April 15th, but I'm not talking taxes. I'm talking about a different office-related deadline for "filing." It's a deadline (I prefer the term "goal date") for filing not just family business documents and legal homeschool stuff, but also for storing my printed photos, scrapbook papers, craft supplies, soldier mailings-in-waiting, and Paul's guitars with all their accessories.

A while back I set a goal to transform the little nook in our basement into an efficient, attractive, shared office/hobby space by April 15th. I would say 90% of the time I'm the one who uses it; Paul 8%, and the kids 2% combined. (The computer down here is slower. They prefer laptops anyway. There is no TV in this room, and thus no opportunity for the male version of multi-tasking.) Truth be told, I'm glad they don't gravitate here. No draw, no competition! It's my little sanctuary. And now that I'm organizing and decorating it to my tastes (without overfeminizing it with flowers, for Paul's sake) I hope it becomes a place of much more creativity and productivity as I work and play.

I have really enjoyed this challenge and will show it with pictures ASAP! I must say that it will be a tribute to God's ongoing transformation of an area in my life I've always struggled with--unsustained organization. More deeply, procrastination and hoarding. Reading books on the psychology of organization (i.e. why we hoard or save things that others would throw out) has been really beneficial. Criticizing myself has NOT been beneficial. This journey has been about changing the way I think, not just about my personal environment. It's proving so liberating that I want to keep going, one room at a time. God has given me a "can do" attitude. And I can honestly say, since maintaining order is not my natural tendency, all positive results will be because of Him. I won't be able to say, "Oh, no big deal. It's just the way I am."

What key points have really helped organizationally?
1. Throwing out the thing a person gave me does not mean I'm getting rid of the person.
2. Saving something I might need someday? Well, truth is I usually forget about it or I lose it. In such cases, I buy a new whatever.
3. I don't miss clothes I haven't worn in a year. If I lose weight, I'll celebrate and buy new clothes.
4. A charity, not I, can spend time deciding on how to use my bulk give-aways. (I used to drive myself nuts thinking, "Well, so-and-so's boy will be this size next summer," or "That college grad just got a new apartment, I'll offer this to her," and then realize, "Hey, we have a huge church. I'll bet she's got lots of friends and family offering her stuff most likely or she wants new stuff," just give it to AmVets and fuhgettabout it. It's more important to free up space in our home than to spend hours playing realtor for our hand-me-downs. I was into eBay, feeling it was a monetary contribution to the family, but Paul asked me to step back from that because it was so time-consuming. I did step back--reluctantly, but God has been dealing with me on the whole thing of feeling like I'm not contributing much because I'm not making money.
5. Files are about easy retrieval, not about fancy names. Being a word bird, I always tried to make a file name longer or more "professional sounding" than it needed to be. The result? I'd wonder,"What did I call that file?" Now I've labeled them with the first word I'd think of when I want to find the document. (Thus, our dog's vet papers are filed under "Molly," not "vet" or "dog." ) Some of you are saying, "Duh, Zo. Duh!" But I'm telling you, it's as big a challenge for me to do some of these "simple" organizational things as it is for you to use an apostrophe correctly. You would have thrown out my piles like I throw out stray punctuation marks.
6. Going through kids' old school portfolios (still in progress), hindsight made me glad I had the kids write so much. Their personalities show best through their writing. That's what I kept.

1. I put up a large piece of sheer and shiny terra cotta fabric that I had on hand. (Bought it in October for lining kitchen curtains and realized it's really hard to work with, and it shows smudges terribly . But I love the color and sheen.) So it's been tacked to the big wall in this office to help me decide if I can live with a dark color in a small space. Yes! I really like it. When Paul is ready to paint and throw open the basement door and windows for ventilation, I will color match this fabric and let my expert handyman do the honors. Not sure the other walls, but it won't be robin's egg blue. I asked Paul, "What about robin's egg blue don't you like?" He answered, "The color."
2. I like whimsy but not cutesy stuff.
3. Renoir will be on display in here. So will my dad's painting of a winter scene. But Daddy's will go up first.
4. I haven't spent more than $15 to redo the space. I've been content to use what I have and it's just fine.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Flowers! Delivered! I am So Happy! So Loved! So Blessed!

When I walked in the door yesterday around noon after running an errand, I was surprised by one of the loveliest sights ever! A beautiful bouquet of spring flowers in a vase.

"Who are these from?" I asked Sarah.

"I dunno. There's no name."

"Did Dad send them? He just brought me roses on Saturday. He wouldn't give me flowers twice in one week, would he?"

"No, I already called him. He said he wasn't him."

"Who could it be, then?"

There was a card with a very uplifting scripture, about the Lord rejoicing over me with singing. I love the word picture, and of course it's not just a picture, it's true because it's God's Word!

"Oh, who on earth knows how I've been feeling who would also spend money on me, and also know that flowers speak my love language!"

Paul thinks it's someone local because they're from the Greenery. I called one gal from my care group who might do such a thing (though others in that group might have) but she said it wasn't her.

I said it could be FTD via the Greenery, so someone NOT local.

"I could call the Greenery and find out," I said.

"Mom, obviously whoever sent them doesn't want you to know, they just want to bless you."

"That's true," I said, but the curiosity is killing this cat!

My husband asked, "Well, who is this other bouquet from?" pointing to the ones in a slender vase on the kitchen windowsill.

"Bonnie," I said. "She gave them to me Tuesday because she was in the store thinking of me."

Paul joked a little, "You should feel bad. I mean three bouquets in one week is a bit much, don't you think? Is it because you complain, complain, complain?"

"Maybe," I said, "but I choose to believe that I'm loved, loved, loved, thank you very much, even though I don't deserve it!" (He made that face that says "you got that right.")

Bonnie had told me she was thanking God that He gives us spring to follow winter, that He makes things grow they seem dead, that he actually gives new life where there wasn't any.
I had said, "And you know what a long winter of the soul I've had, don't you?" She laughed her loving, knowing laugh.

So I took pictures of my delivered flowers and have a hunch that maybe, just maybe, it was from one of my blogging friends who read the post I put up and took down the same day after feeling so vulnerable that I'd put it out there in the first place.

As it turns out, I had a very good day yesterday. It started out grey and dreary, like my spirit, but I was ready for a big change. Really ready. At 8 a.m., my usual quiet time, I followed the advice of Kay Arthur in Lord, Teach Me to Pray, for confessing sin and receiving it from God. "Make a list on paper of your sins, then write across it the words from I John 1:9....'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' Then tear up the paper and throw it away," she urged.

As I wrote down my sins (unbelief, fear, anger, selfishness, pride---probably 9 or 10 sins--I hoped the end of the list would come soon. I couldn't stand the ugliness. Mercifully, I "only" could think of two handfuls of sin, then I confessed them out loud. (No one was around.) I thought my chest would explode. I burst into tears and said,"Oh, Jesus, I can't bear them any more!"

And He gently said, "You don't have to. I already did."

"You already did!" I agreed, "I know. On the cross. I can't even deal with ten sins, but You---Thank You! Thank You!" Then I wept remorsefully on my sofa, not ashamed, but grateful, and then a sweet, sweet peace washed over me. My tears dried, my heart lightened, and I was free. "He whom the Son sets free is free indeed."

Then I felt a real spiritual lift.

Today the sun is shining in more ways than one and these flowers are such a tangible, fragrant reminder of God's love. If I had time to upload the pictures, I would., but I'm behind by about 300 shots!
If you are reading this and would now like me to know who you are (if indeed a blogger sent them) please email me. I assume you know me well enough to have my email address.

I love you and thank you for your kindess. I can't say it enough!!!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Game of Give (Or Sacrifice)?

I am making a morale-boosting game for the troops and I don't know what to call it. I'm toying with "Give" or "Sacrifice." Since I couldn't afford to buy a game, I came up with my own. It's a creative way of sharing the goodies we've been sending over, as well as entertainment.

I would like it if you could add questions to the game.

For 2 or more players
The game is based on the verse "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
Object: to sacrifice more of your care package goods than anyone else
Game pieces: none
Set up a container (called The Basket) in center of table.Fill it with snacks, toiletries, puzzles, DVDs, etc from your latest care pkg.
Start with youngest player.
EAch person takes 2 goodies to start with.
Player 1 draws a question, answers it, and follows the instructions.
Play continues till all goodies in center have been taken in the game.

Questions I've come up with *just a smattering).

If you've gotten a call from home this week, sacrifice all your goods to the BAsket.
If you haven't had a shower in 48 hours, take 2 items from player to your left.
IF you have a dog at home, give one item to player across from you.
If you have sheets on your bed, give 3 items to the Basket.
If you have read your Bible today, take 1 item from the BAsket.
IF you got a letter from home (or anyone in the STates) in the past week, give 2 items away.
If you had creamer for your coffee today, give 2 items to person on your left.

Can you all help think of more? They should be related to the troops in terms of :
family life

Which name do you like better for the game? Or suggest a new one.

Foreboding Feelings--AKA Raindrops and Weeds

I must admit that I've been "low" for quite some time. Really since November I haven't felt well spiritually, mentally, physically, or emotionally for very long at a time. I try to post the ups and keep the downs to a minimum--just enough downs to let ya'll know I'm real but (I hope) not enough to keep people at a distance. Yet distanced is how I feel even around so many familiar people in my life. I still long for a mentor, still long for a couple to have meaningful, unstructured, unhurried, unpretentious times with.

Here's how I feel:


My feet hurt all the time. From the time I get up till I fall asleep at night, they ache. I think my arches have fallen and they can't get up. I'm making an appt w/ a podiatrist this week. My mind can always get more done than my feet will endure.

I am not superstitious and I think I'm usually optimistic, but I have this terrible, awful feeling that I'm going to lose someone close to me very soon. I hate this feeling. Hate it! I know it's just a feeling and you shouldn't trust feelings, but I haven't been able to shake it. Every time I see I see my parents I wonder if this will be the last time. I got that feeling the last time I hugged my Grandpa. He wasn't even sick, but a month later he had a massive heart attack and died a short time later at the hospital. I get anxious about my kids being out late at night. I check on Paul's whereabouts too frequently. I've never considered myself a worrier, and it's a sin and I hate being around worriers (they're high maintenance and I fear being that way). I'd just rather spend my prayers on stuff besides, "God, protect so and so, and Father, give me peace and forgive my worry". Such prayers don't wear Him out, but they wear me out!

I've been in a desert for longer than I've ever been in one. It takes everything in me to read my Bible, and when I do, I get little out of it. Church is either dry to me or I walk in and want to weep all over myself. Today I was disappointed by hearing what we missed last week (when we were in Ohio). Apparently a lot of people had come forward to share testimonies of how God has been moving in their lives--healings, reconciled relationships, deliverance of bad habits--I've been waiting months and months to hear from the people like this because it is so, so , so encouraging. I'm not talking a single testimony, but a host of them! I LOVE that, and I missed it!
Lately it's been taking enormous effort to focus, in church especially. I'm very easily distracted--by cute babies, by people talking, by what people are wearing (15 out of 20 are wearing tan pants today), by typos on the overhead (I cringe or laugh, depending on the error), by sour notes from the musicians. Sometimes I want to move all the way up front so no one distracts me, but when your husband and kids are six feet tall and your six year old's idea of participating in worship means drumming on the seat ahead of him, and you yourself cry like a fountain and laugh like a hyena,, you don't do anyone favors by opting for front row seats. Besides, if I were that close to the amps, I'd be on sensory overload.

I am usually pretty decisive. Lately I've wanted all decisions made for me. It's been hard for me in co-op to plan lessons to fit the kindergarten, first and second graders, all of whom have different motor skills and attention spans. This past Thursday I had the 2nd graders sketch their feet, the first graders draw the sketch I had done of my own feet, and--as the kindergarteners were walking in on their feet (thankfully, not on their hands as some are tempted) I was scrambling in my mind. "Lord, what do I do with these kids? The feet thing is way beyond them." He kindly and quickly showed me to scrap the feet project and just work on sketching techniques and the always needed : following instructions. I was literally praying for step-by-step instructions from God as I taught the lesson I had not had the mental capacity to prepare for. And sinfully comparing myself to Marie J who is so good with that age group. Kathy W told me the next day that Ruthie had gone into great detail about her sketch turned out (which really uplifted my downcast Teacher Heart): "Miss Zoanna said use short, soft strokes, and we did and we made trees that were narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, and we drew a path, and weeds, and clouds and...."


Perhaps I'm under God's discipline.
Perhaps I need to go back on medication.
Perhaps I'm too self-focused.
Perhaps I need more of a social life.
Perhaps I should slash the jugular of the cultural mantra that tells me I should be happy all the time or something's wrong with me. I say I don't believe that, but I function as if I do.

Any thoughts? Rebukes? Encouragements?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sheets for Soldiers

I am on the hunt for very inexpensive or free, 100% cotton fitted sheets--TWIN size--for soldiers' beds. They are currently using their sleeping bags, but it's hot over there--already in the 100s-- and their only other choice is to lie right against the bunk mattress. I've read many requests for bedsheets and pillowcases and would love to send a few at a time but can't fund it on my own. Anyone care to help? Right now I need :

-two fitted sheets that would go well with a cool dark green color I found in flat
-one white flat sheet to go with a light-blue-with-white-starfish print I found in fitted
-coordinating pillowcases

Have you slept on the new birch fabric? Feels like silk when I run my fingers into it in the bag at the store, but wondering if it breathes like 100% cotton? I want to "love my neighbor as myself" and I wouldn't want to sleep on anything but pure cotton or something very breathable.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Desperate Daughter's Plea

Sarah has an assignment that no one here approves of, but it has to be done. For her sociology class, she has to interview someone in the service economy (retail, restaurant, hospitality, cleaning, childcare, etc). Why the disapproval? Because she basically has to interview someone she doesn't know who is having trouble making ends meet on a low income. Paul said, "So, will you have to interview a wealthy person, too?" When Sarah said no, we just shook our heads. "Liberal cr&% we're paying for!" Why not interview someone making good money who has done the hard work of getting a college education (a privilege, not a right, may I add), or of using his or her God-given skills and talents to make a good living? Argh! Don't get me started. I once had the courage (audacity? tactlessness? call it what you want) one day when a "friend" called me to say she was pregnant with Child #4 out of wedlock. She was on welfare and had been for as long as I can remember. She sounded as if she wanted me to congratulate her. I curtly told her, "Um, you sound happy about it, but if you want me to say yay, I won't. My husband is tired of seeing almost 40% of his hard-earned salary go toward taxes that help pay to raise and educate other people's children." I could have been nicer about it, I suppose, but it's the way I felt (still do) and I think I had been gracious and generous to give her diapers, food, and other stuff for the other babies, but this time I was angry. Anyway, I digress....

Back to Sarah's situation:

Let's face it. Wouldn't YOU be embarrassed to approach a stranger to do an interview about their job and income? I mean, come on, where are yesterday's manners that say you don't discuss salaries with people outside your own family????

That said, she needs an interview and needs it quick. Phone/IM interviews are okay . So in case you haven't seen her plea on her blog, please check it out for details. Deadline is less than 48 hours from now. Yeh, she takes after her mother when it comes to doing unpleasant tasks.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Back from Ohio

No, not to visit Laurie and Jason, though I was sorely tempted to go way out of the way just to see them!

Paul and I made an 11th-hour decision to go to Cincinnati for his brother Tony's 60th suprise birthday party. We had not planned that I would go; I thought Tony would enjoy it more if his brothers and he got to hang out for the weekend, but Gerard had just had foot surgery and was unable to share the driving; David is a soccer coach and his team was in a tournament that had been planned long before the party.

(I needed prayer about whether I should go since the brothers couldn't, so that I could share the drive and the celebration. But just in case Tony saw my blog--which I highly doubt--I didn't want to botch the party plans.)

He was really, really surprised, taken aback, shocked, all that stuff. I mean, we were not the only out-of-towners. We were the only relatives on Paul's side, which meant a whole lot to Tony, and we are glad we made the trip. Tony's daughter, Rachel, put together a 35-minute video in two days. Now that's talent. Her loving older sister, Talitha, kept Rachel's kids, Morella and Myleigh (ages 5 and 2 respectively)as well as her own toddler, Xander, while Rachel worked on the video. Now that's sacrifice. Anyone who has babysat while someone else took the credit for a creative project deserves my highest commendation!

Pictures of our visit will be forthcoming, Lord willing. Joel was a phenomenally good traveller, sans siblings, and loved every minute playing with his cousin Morella.