Friday, August 31, 2012

though I walk through the valley

This week has been a valley indeed.  Our birthdays ushered in a new week here in IL and I personally thought it was off to a good start.  Oh, how the devil has plans otherwise.  I read an email that infuriated me and honestly, I should've closed the computer and walked away.  But I didn't and that was my first mistake.  I played right into the his hand.  Mr. C and I argued and set up camps on opposite sides of the issues.

Next, my mom called and delivered bad news.  It was damaging to my then current mental state but, despite his plans to defeat me, I overcame.  I spoke The Good News to a very important person in my life and more than just checking it off my list of moral obligations, I felt relief that if this seed didn't grow, I had at least done my part by planting it.  I pray that it goes farther than just a simple conversation but, that it falls deep in his heart and lodges in his mind daily.  I pray that the Lord will take it and use it for His will, that it would not go in vain.

Early week saw me spending a lot of time in tears.  Not only did I feel absolutely helpless being 850 miles from home but, the thought crossed my mind that death was chasing after my family again and there's wasn't a dang thing I could do about it.  That was precisely the exact same time that I realized my allergies were all amuck and I was in for it.  All snotty and coughing, I pulled it together on Wednesday to start my end of week baking for there was to be a bake sale at the Fall Festival benefiting our church.

I had big plans for breaking this kitchen in properly.  I came up with a game plan on paper, I would tackle Mountain Dew cakes, banana bread, and to prepare and freeze cookie dough on Wednesday.  Thursday would be yeast rolls and coconut pies, and Friday would be chocolate pies and pecan pies.  This was going to be a tight schedule that had no room for sick and tired written anywhere in it.

Around about Tuesday (or maybe it was Wednesday), Mr. C and I united in battle and the world was a better place.  We only had one cross country meet this week, I've fulfilled my baking plan (I cut back on one thing because they're calling for - oh - only 2 to 7 inches of rain!)  Eleven pies, ten dozen cookies, three cakes, two dozen rolls and a loaf of banana bread later, I feel good!  The kitchen is where I live to be, can you tell?  I've talked to quite a few friends and family, we received a surprise package (MANY, MANY THANKS!) and even had a surprise visit from dear folks from home!  I just hope it doesn't rain before we get to experience the outdoor movie at the amphitheatre in the park tonight.  In any case, we've overcome another week full of ups and downs, but our God is still good!

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I've spent many long days with this boy on my mind.  He's not really a boy at all, he's a man now but, to me he will always be a bit of a boy.  My heart has ached for him in ways I never thought it would.  For the last couple years at least, he has been at the forefront of my spiritual thoughts.  I have wanted nothing but for Jesus to touch this boy, to seek him out and redeem him.  I have prayed for him, my children have prayed for him, our church has prayed for him, I had every one praying for this kid.

I hadn't given up, I've pursued him even when he's thrown up walls and shut me down faster than you could blink an eye.  In those moments, I just stopped, decided the timing wasn't right, that he wasn't ready yet.  At this very moment, he's scared, petrified.  His health hasn't been good and for quite some time.  It was put on hold, to the way side, as we stayed by our grandfather whilst he grew weaker and weaker and finally passed.  Then, another blow to our family.  But again, his health - it's been brought to our attention and while doctors continually tell him he's fine, he's not.  He is hurting and in pain and terrified.

Eight hundred fifty miles from home has done this sister in this week.  Feelings of helplessness have mugged me of blissful days here.  In the end, it hasn't been all bad.  It's given both of us the opportunity to discuss Jesus, salvation, and that dependency on God isn't something just for old people and sissies.  No, Jesus is there for everyone.  He overcame death for who?  For us. each. and. every. one. of. us.  We are all undeserving, but he did it anyway.

Fearing death and having it sit down right beside you will break one down.  It will make you receptive to things you otherwise thought were silly, nonsense even.  So, at his rock bottom, I told him all the things I've wanted to say to him.  That my heart had been breaking for him for years; that I had cried many a time hearing a sermon, thinking of him; that the time we're apart here on earth is nothing compared to the eternity we will spend in heaven.

There was so much more.  I sent tons of scripture; I explained that we've all walked in darkness at some point or another; that we are all sinners - past, present and future, but our Lord and Savior doesn't care.  He wants us to call out to Him, He allows trials in our lives to break us down, just to make us see our need for Him.

I knew something was different.  He didn't put up a fight.  He welcomed what I had to say, thanked me even and then something obvious happened.  He apologized.  Not necessary, I told him.  The Bible says not to dwell on the past, instead look toward the future.  I do hope that this is a turning point, not just a little "I'm desperate and helpless plea."  I hope it's a permanent change of heart, of mind, a new way of life.  We all stumble and I know it'll happen as it continually does for us all.  More than anything, I want this boy to know the love of God. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

meet 2

Tomorrow marks XC meet #3
With the combination of rag weed and the harvest currently taking place,
this chick is suffering, suffering bad.
We'll see what tomorrow holds.

last Sunday night

Last Sunday night, we walked up the street two blocks to the pastor's house.  From there, we joined his family and walked another block where we gathered with friends, strangers, and neighbors in the yard, on the sidewalk, and in the street.  There, lived a man named Tab.  I can't say that I personally know him, but I've heard lots of good things about him and it's something when you're reputation precedes you.

Tab had cancer and it had spread.  He was undergoing chemo treatments to fight the cancer and it was taking its' toll on his body.  He would start another long week of treatments on Monday and be hospitalized for the duration.  So instead of meeting with our small groups, we were called to action by one Mrs. Fisher.  She felt a burden on her heart for him and so she rallied everyone she knew and they rallied everyone they knew. 

I couldn't help but get emotional. It was so incredible to watch as we walked, the droves of people coming from all directions. Walking, driving, they came from the east, west, north and south until we all met in this one common place for the good of one man this community had come to love.  We quietly littered this area in front of his house and Pastor Steve gave us instructions on what to do next and led us in a prayer.  Without their knowing, we dispersed into little groups and surrounded their house, peppering their yard.  Some sat in small circles, us, we stood and held hands.  We prayed aloud.  Prayers of strength, peace, courage.  Prayers of healing.

With Kyle leading, we sang songs of worship and praise, lifting Tab up.  And While I have never met him, nor his family, I do know the devastation cancer causes.  It effects all those around you and it is never kind.  We finished with people telling Tab how much they loved him, how much they were praying for him and how much he'd done to better the youth of this small town.  I left, saddened by what this man and his family were going through but, on a high, because our God is good and sovereign.

So, as I sat this morning, with the whir of the washing machines, I read the first four chapters of Nehemiah.  Chapter 4, Verse 20 reads..."Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, assemble there.  Our God will fight for us."  Immediately, I thought of Mrs. Fisher.  She heard the sound of the trumpet and as we stormed the heavens in prayer for Tab and his family, I pray that even today, God is fighting for us, for them.  I thank you, Mrs. Fisher for your obedience, for your leadership, for your love of our God and his people.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

to bring you up to speed

We are temporarily settled here in IL.

After having my GPS stolen, I can manage a trip to the local Wal-Mart without getting lost, but I dare venture much further. 

School got under way this morning and we are seasoned Cross Country parents with one meet under our belts. {ha!}

Praise God, our kitchen is now fully stocked and regular meals have ensued.  We've had the W's over once for dinner and collarborated with them last night.  I altered a Pampered Chef recipe to our liking and made...

Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells
1 - 24oz. container cottage cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
1 - 9oz. box frozen spinach, thawed & chopped
1 lb. sausage, browned & drained
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
1 box jumbo shells
parmesan cheese to top
extra mozzarella to top

Cook jumbo shells in boiling water for 15 minutes or until done.  Mix cottage cheese, mozzarella, spinach, sausage, Italian seasoning & garlic together to make filling.   Using a spoon, stuff shells with sausage filling.  Pour 1/2 cup (or more if needed) spaghetti sauce into bottom of 13x9" & 8x8" pans (This recipe will make enough to fill a 13x9in. and also an 8x8in.)  Lay filled shells on top of sauce until pan is full.  Pour remaining sauce over shells.  Pour 1/2 cup water into spaghetti jar and shake, pour over shells.  Sprinkle with more mozzarella cheese, cover & bake on 425 degrees until sauce is bubbly (about 30-45 min.)  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese & serve.

Tips: next time, I'll try using manicotti & piping the filling in using a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off to save time and effort.
(sorry, no photos, they're gone.  long gone.)

I made a boat load of this (because it makes a boat load) and shared it with friends.  Instead of grating the soap, I microwaved it and then crushed/crumbled it but, the smell was so strong we had to open the windows.  Therefore, I'll definitely try the food processor on the next go round.  I just need to actually put it to work and hit the laundry mat, ugh.

Hmm, what else?  I'm dying to have my sewing machine I could be making soo much but, looks like it's stuck in VA for a while, along with my jackets and all our fall clothes.  sniff sniff.  I could stuff no more in the car.  OK, well I could've but then I wouldn't be able to see out the back glass and that's just a teensy bit important to me while driving 14 hours.  I prefer to be comfortable if possible, ya know?  Also, some friends of ours were visiting family in September and offered to bring some stuff out but, their plans changed.  They're flying instead of driving.  It's OK, we don't need that stuff.  Not like an epi-pen or blood pressure medicine or anything, geez.
I am thankful to have what we have, it could be worse.  I promise I'll try to take some real pictures.  I'm a little hesitant to step outside this town with no GPS.  Does that make me some kind of freak?  Maybe just a whiner?  Just askin'.

Monday, August 20, 2012

saturday XC

This weekend marked the first on our tour of Cross Country events around Illinois.  Being it was our first weekend as Cross Country parents, we knew not what to expect.  Only that we were there to cheer on one crazy running chick (and her team of course.)  Venturing an hour away, we stood, patiently waiting for her turn to hit the course.  The gun went off and she was gone.  With angst, we waited to see how our phenomenal chick would do on the course.  She did well, really well, we thought for being new at this.  She gave it her all and I think she even impressed herself a little.  She pushed through the pain, the feeling of puking and made it to the end with a good time.  I thought it was good.

Afterwards, we celebrated with lunch.  Her pick ~ ribs (who's surprised?) at Texas Roadhouse and then we took the chick to be fitted for new running shoes.  She's excited about this year and we are too.  So there's no soccer, is that a crying shame?  Partly, but she's found something else to work at.  It's a start.  A new start.  A different start, but a good start.  She's made new friends and we still talk to her old friends daily.  I hope it's not as bad as she had imagined.  I haven't seen tears over this in a long, long time.  And she knows at least 5 people in her class.  So, I'm excited for this year.  A new year, a different year, but a good year.  Now if I could just find my GPS.  I'm leaning on the edge of stolen, not lost.  Dare I say it.

Photo courtesy of J.Attaway

Friday, August 17, 2012

oh no! no gps?

I'm sitting here in misery this morning.  My GPS is missing.  I dare say it was stolen.  See, my memory is a disadvantage and so are my navigational skills.  They are my faults and I claim them dually.  I have searched high and low and come up empty-handed.  So, here I am.  Stuck.   No grocery shopping today.  I know, sounds pitiful, huh?   And, just who in their right mind would be down in the dumps over grocery shopping.  Well, I was super excited about making this.  Not to mention we could use some actual food around here.

Yes, I Googled the directions, but gave up before I even finished writing them down.  I'm what I like to call "extremely navigationally challenged."  It's no joke, I can get turned around in a heartbeat.  It all begins to look familiar and then, there I am lost as lost can be.  So, I give up without even a fight today.  We washed clothes and hung them out on the line.  That's the end of it.

My poor husband calls, gets to hear me whine and complain while he's dealing with his own DMV mess.  I won't go there.  Sometimes I wonder why all of the bumps in the road?  And I recall what I texted Mother Teresa yesterday...Job 23:10, "But God knows the way that I take, and when he has tested me, I will come out like gold."  Sometimes, in the midst of my own anguish, I forget the words He has given me for reassurance.  Shame on me.

On another subject, Illinois may be compared to Arizona in that they are both flat, but how does someone with frizzy hair move near "the windy city"and call it OK?  I love the constant breeze here.  I understand why the school and a lot of homes have no air conditioning, but the hair thing kills me. 

A week ago, I had dinner with friends and just about the time we were paying for the check, I slipped into the bathroom and realized that a section of my hair was flung over on the wrong side and sticking up.  I looked like a complete DORK!  And I had sat through the entire dinner like that.  (And who said it was OK to let your friends look like dorks?!  People, help them out!  Fix that mess!)

Somehow I see hats in my future this winter.  Maybe that'll be next on my list.  Learn to crochet or knit.  Guess I could always sew fleece hats.  Definitely not as cute though.  Hope your weekend is starting off better than mine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

in the face of sorrow again

It's the middle of the week.  My life has been shaken up for the second time with the death of a loved one and sadly, I sit here in Illinois helpless.  I wish I were at home to comfort my mom.  To use her sorrow as a good excuse for long days sipping coffee and getting absolutely nothing at all done.  Watching movies, talking, snacking, playing Boggle, relaxing in lawn chairs while kids and puppies romp in the rays of the sun. 

I wish I could be with my aunt and cousins.  It's times like these that bond people and bring them together.  To remember, to laugh and to cry.  To tell the stories that make you cry laughing.  No, I cannot change this.  So, I wash clothes.  Think about dinner.  Think, being the key word there.  Continually add to the grocery list.  Life goes on here.  People call and text to say they're sorry.  And I am thankful for them.  I know my mom is right.  The Lord blessed him in his passing.  MS can no longer hold him down, but it doesn't change the fact that he'll be missed.  My love goes out to my family who I cannot cry with, cannot hug, cannot comfort.  My thoughts and prayers are truly with you.  I'm missing you all.

finally here

A week ago, we arrived and I sit here on the cushy maroon sofa, in the comfort of our "temporary home" feeling like a visitor.  I hear the roar and then the vibration as "the fun car" approaches and parks beneath me.  I hear the door close and all is quiet and still again.  Except for the hum of the fan and the swish, swish of the ice maker.  I look out amongst the board games, the unmade bed, the blankee and clothes that litter the floor.  Surrounded by familiar things, yet, I sit here taking it all in.  The realization that we are here refuses to sink in. 

Not even on the ride.  I didn't look in the rear view mirror.  I kept my eyes on the road ahead.  Looking back always grabs me and tries to hold on tightly.  Looking back throws me into the past or the what could-of been.  No, we are here, in the present.  And still, I just don't believe it. 

Our life here in the Midwest has begun.  Our kids are registered for school, practicing on the junior high team, we're helping out with church events.  We are plugging in.  And yet, it still feels like we're on vacation, just visiting.  Perhaps it's because most of our belongings are still on the east coast.  It's just so surreal and at times, we're still thinking we're crazy for doing it.

I drive past the cornfields, dreaming of photographing the setting sun laying down amongst the tall green stalks and the giant blades of the wind turbines continually turning against the big blue sky.  I look out at the vastness of this place and it feels like Arizona (except with grass).  We adored the desert.  Maybe this is our Arizona?

The mornings are crisp and the breeze constantly blowing.  Already the water in the pool is too chilly to get in.  Fall stands at the corner and whispers.  It makes me weary of what we're up against this winter.  I have a fondness for certain moments in every season.  Like when Fall can be sensed in the air.  The scent of changing leaves, preparing to make their decent.  The point when you begin layering with a sweat shirt and slip on jeans for added measure.  Where coffee and hot chocolate taste best when sipped on a porch while rocking and discussing the insignificant details of life.

Yes, I'm sure I'll be in for a surprise this winter.  I'm no fan of the cold, never have been.  It's public knowledge.  So, I expect I'll be trying out tons of new soup and chili recipes, but I won't count my chickens before they've hatched.  Winter will not kick my butt before it's officially here and sooner or later I'll feel settled.  Nonetheless, we're staying until we've been told otherwise.