Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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I promised! I promised!

October 29, 2008

Okay, it’s getting late and I have to head to bed because tomorrow is a Very Big Day.

We’re celebrating Merritt’s first birthday (A YEAR! Already! I know!!) with my parents and John’s parents by going to Disneyland.

Be still my heart.

I love it there. I LOVE it.

And you know what’s fun? J’s parents have never been. Ever. They have no idea what it’s like. The wonder. The excitement. The fantasy of it all.

I mean, I know it’s not like they’re FIVE or anything. But still. You can’t help but feel it.

But I promised pictures. So I’m deliverin’ pictures, people.

And look, they are kinda made even more fun, because they’re from the trip two weekends ago when we had the chance to go, believe it or not, to the very same place we’re going tomorrow.

So you can just look at these, forget they’re from two weeks ago, and pretend you’re right there with us tomorrow. Kay?

Disneyland 10/08

I’m blaming the scarcity of posts on All The Sickness

October 28, 2008

Okay, I know. I haven’t exactly been blogger of the year this past week… or two.

But I’m blaming it on the fact that our house seems to enjoy being turned into a sick ward now and again. First the boys caught colds, which of course meant lots of book reading, watching Little Einsteins and doing puzzles. Then we had Crazy Weekend of the Century last weekend, which went out with a bang when I came down with some sort of stomach flu. And then, on the coat tails of the stomach bug, a lovely little cold decided to take up residence in my not-so-welcoming body. Let’s just say I wasn’t too thrilled at that point and we were already on round 11,875 of the read a book, watch Little Einsteins and do some puzzles routine.

The point of all this? That being couped up in one’s house day after day for two weeks doesn’t lend itself to much great blog fodder. Unless, of course, you’d like to hear that, “Look! We read another book! And we love to pat-clap with Leo and Rocket! And we did the boats and airplanes puzzle in record time!”

I mean, those things thrill ME and I’d write about them all day, but I’m the mama and am thus slightly biased, I’m a-thinkin’.

Sitting curled in the corner of the couch for days at a time does, though, give a person plenty of time to think Deep and Meaningful Thoughts. Whether or not those Deep and Meaningful Thoughts (D&MTs, you know) are worth sharing with others, you’ll just have to see for yourselves as they find their way to my fingertips here in the near future–D&MTs about things like the #1 topic people comment on/ask about here and over at my mom’s blog, major thoughts on blogging in general–wondering whether it’s really possible for a blogger to be 100% genuine and what that looks like; the pros (which are pretty obvious) and the definite cons (not always so obvious) of ads, paid posts, and product reviews; figuring out why on earth I’ve been doing this for almost four years in the first place; what direction I really want to take this blog; and, gasp!, should I even keep blogging??

I also did a lot of thinking about how to get Troy to pick a new book after reading the same one 25 times in a row, how adorable Merritt is when he claps in time to the classical music on Little Einsteins, and whether or not we could set a new record with that rescue vehicles puzzle.

Oh, and I had one or a thousand thoughts bordering on paranoia while I wondered how quickly a person (who was working out near-daily and suddenly is only running a few times and making it to one Pilates class in a two week time-frame–due to All The Sickness, people!) can lose all of their muscle tone and have to start over completely when they try to get back in their groove. And whether or not missing two long runs in a row disqualifies someone from running a relatively longish race two months from now, if the distance of the long runs wasn’t that far in the first place.

And I thought a few D&MTs about having a healthy body image and, you know, obsession and paranoia.

I never said I was normal 0r that I didn’t need some mental help.

So, anyway.

I have about twenty-five posts swirling in my head about all these things (minus probably the running thing) and, actually, even more than just those things. I’ll spare you yet another thought-list–which, incidentally, kinda sounds like “thoughtless”–but I’ll just say I’m still thinking about the usual stuff of fear of man, insecurities, identity in Christ, legalism, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, living in fear on both ends of the spectrum, all that jazz. I don’t think those issues are going anywhere anytime soon.

And I just realized this post has no point. Kinda like my days the past two weeks. Ha.

(Not really, though. There have been some normal days. (Lookout, here comes another list.) I went to a 70s party last weekend, we had a garage sale, went to an evening beach picnic with friends, went to church, ran errands, I met a bloggie friend (in real life!) for coffee, Troy went to my parents’ house for a couple days, John and I spent two days with Merritt all by himself, I got a haircut. Between all the sick days, of course.)

But I also just realized I have exactly four hours to finish cleaning my house, get showered, get the boys ready and feed them lunch, all before leaving at 12:30pm to pick up John’s parents from the airport. (Look, I even fit in one last list!) So while I’d like to write up a post full of D&MTs, I’ve gotta vacuum. I do have an album of pictures I’ve been meaning to post for two weeks, which should be up tomorrow–maybe All The Cuteness will make up for the pointlessness of this post?

Check back tomorrow. We’ll see.

So tell me what you’ve been up to the past couple weeks? Are you healthy? Are you busy? Are you enjoying fall? Are you curled up on the couch in your jammies half the day reading blogs?

Not that I’d know anything about that last one. Of course.

Date night

October 23, 2008

It’s after midnight.

Note to self: Do not drink a tall nonfat misto with three pumps of white mocha (because, you know, the nonfat status really makes up for those three pumps of pure sugar) at 7:00pm. You will be awake long past your bedtime of 8pm 10pm.

But you know what? It’s actually kinda nice being up at this time of night. The boys have been waking up ridiculously early this week–a fact which nicely coincided with me trying to conquer the stomach flu and thinking I really could have stood to sleep past 6:30am a time or two–which means there hasn’t been much quiet time around here.

But it’s quiet now.

After laying in bed for 45 minutes, I decided to just go ahead and get up. I know I’ll be regretting it when the alarm clock sounds the trumpets in the morning, but I figure, as nice as it is to snuggle next to my sleeping husband, it might be good to get a few things done that I can’t do in the middle of the day.

Things like… spend a bit of quiet time with my Jesus.

I’d been missing Him this week. What with the boys’ early waking, my stomach bug and Merritt’s lack of wanting to sleep longer than 30-40 minutes at naptime, I hadn’t really made much time to spend with Him. My soul was thirsty. I could feel the parchedness getting worse by the hour. By this evening, I told John something was just wrong and I wasn’t sure what it was. But as I wiped counters and stacked dishes, I realized I really did know. I just needed Jesus.

I’ve been feeling a little… scattered. Pulled in several directions at once and not sure which thing to let go of in an effort to ease the tension. Whether or not I should ease the tension. I needed guidance, direction, and just to feel my Lord’s arms surround me and remind me that He is enough. That He has it all in control.

As I slipped out of bed at 11pm tonight, walked down the stairs, turned the light to dim and picked up my stack of Bibles, devotionals and study books, I asked God to please speak to me. To empty me of “me” and just fill me with Him. Because trying to figure it all out on my own was wearying me.

And He did. Of course He did. He seems to delight in showing us Himself, you know?

I think I’m going to head up to bed here soon. My eyelids are getting a little droopy. I can’t say I have all the little details of the issues I’m contemplating figured out, but I’m thinking I can rest easier now since being reassured my mighty God does.

In fact, He has things so in control that he sometimes even does unexpected things–like have us drink a cup of coffee without thinking–just because He wants to have a special little date with us.

Nighty-night, peeps.

Excuses, Exsmooshes

October 15, 2008

5:00am Alarm sounds. John hops out of bed to quickly end the buzzing sound. I briefly open my eyes to see if he’s going to get back in bed… or do the completely ridiculous thing of actually GETTING UP when the alarm goes off.

We placed the alarm clock across the room to help with the, ahem, hitting of the snooze button deal. Why does this plan always seem to fail?

5:09am The buzzing starts again. I don’t even bother opening my eyes this time. John will hit snooze.


John? John? Now I have to open my eyes.

Oh good grief. He DID get out of bed nine minutes earlier. What craziness. I open my eyes wider and notice the downstairs light is on. I’m sure he’s already down there with his big ol’ mug of tea and his open Bible. What kind of crazy person gets up this early?

I close my eyes.

Get up.

Oh GREAT. Wonderful. It’s Good Me talking.

“Go to sleep, Good Me.”

Nope. Get up. You’re supposed to be running right now.

“I don’t feel like it.”

You have a race to run in a few months. You don’t have a choice.

“Oh, YES I do, Good Me. I can just close my little eyes here and doze… right… off…”

Ah, ah, no you don’t. Swing those legs over the side of the bed and grab your shoes, Lazy Bones.

“It’s too dark. It won’t be light for almost two hours.”

That’s what the gym is for, remember?

“But running at the gym isn’t quite the same as running outside. I need to run outside. And it’s just too dark for that. The Boogey Man will jump out of a bush and get me. I’m waiting for Daylight Savings Time to end.”

Even though you’ve clearly watched one too many episodes of Law and Order, you’re right. It probably isn’t the safest to run the neighborhood this early. I’ll give you that. But again I say, that’s what the gym is for.

Silence. I can’t think of a good comeback.

Hello? That’s what I thought. Now get out of that bed before I…


I open one eye, but just a little.


The kids are sick. This is your one and only chance today.

You know you’ll regret it if you don’t go.

I push back the quilt.

“Alright. Alright. I’m going. Just don’t talk to me anymore about it.”

I change my clothes, grab my shoes, brush my teeth.

Walk downstairs with my eyes still only slits. I give John a kiss and tell him I’m heading to the gym.

He smiles. He guesses at the argument that just ensued between me and Good Me.

“There’s a cup of coffee waiting for you. I waited to see if you wanted it in a regular mug or a travel mug. Here you go.”

See? What a sweet guy. Aren’t you glad you’re going to the…

“Be quiet, Good Me.”

I was just saying I think you…

“I said QUIET.”

I head out the door and climb in the truck.

It’s dark.

In the two minute drive to the gym, I see four or five guys out on their morning run.

“Lucky ducks. THEY can run without being afraid of the Boogey Man. I bet they don’t even carry a can of pepper spray.”

Then I see a girl out jogging in the pitch blackness.

Clearly, she hasn’t watched enough Without A Trace.

By 6:30am, I’ve run a few miles on the treadmill. I really, really didn’t feel like it. I got a bad cramp in my calf after only a few minutes and seriously wanted to just stop.

But, hey, if I’m going to make it 13.1 miles in January, I’m going to have to learn to do what I don’t feel like doing. Keep going when it hurts. Make it to that finish line.

6:35am–I push through the glass doors leading to the parking lot, holding my water bottle and wiping my sweaty face with a towel.

And there, coming over the mountains in the distance, are the soft pinks and blues of the sunrise. The crisp, cool morning air surrounds me and cools me off as I stand there, mesmerized at the sight. The tops of the trees are glowing shades of green and light yellow and I catch a glimpse of the sun’s shape peeking over the leaves. In a place usually filled with shouts and laughter as kids play in the child watch program and in the nearby grassy field, the stillness of early morning is almost piercing in its very peacefulness. The only sound is that of my own breathing.

I’m awestruck.

So are you glad you got up, or do you still want me to be quiet?

“No, you can talk. It was good I came. Very good.”

I thought you’d think so. Remember? The best things–the things of value, the moments you’ll remember for years, the things that build strength–they’re worth a bit of effort. Sometimes they aren’t convenient, or comfortable, and some are outright painful. But you’ll always be thankful when you’ve endured. They’re always worth it.

“I know, Good Me. Oh, and you know what else? I don’t think Your name is really ‘Good Me.’ I just thought You were ‘me’ because we were talking about, you know, running. Not spiritual things.”

I know, my child. You tend to forget the spiritual and physical are intertwined. You don’t have any “good” in you, remember? It’s all from Me, your Heavenly Father. I have big things planned for you in this race. A lot of lessons to teach you.

“And here I thought I’d get a little break from all that hard-lesson-learning after the deployment.”

Oh, my daughter, the lessons are never over. I have so much to show you! Just remember, they’re always, always worth the pain.

You just have to get up and get started.

Fire, Fire Everywhere… er, uh, Part Deux?

October 14, 2008

I’d say this is some major deja vu.

Except last time, I was nine months pregnant and trying to figure out where I’d be having my baby if the road closures blocked the route to my birth center.

But the fact is we’re smack dab in the middle of fire season and here we are, exactly one year later almost to the day, and the Southern California area is ablaze once again.

You may have heard of the Camp Pendleton fire–right in our backyard.

Okay, well not literally in OUR backyard, but in the literal backyard of several friends only a few miles away.

Last night our church became a mini Evacuation Central as each evacuation zone was announced and church family needed somewhere to go. We’ve been on stand-by in case our house is needed as a camp out spot. And even though we’re in a central location a good distance from the fire, the smoke knows no bounds and is slithering in through any crevice it can find.

Once we were sure our friends were all safely out of the immediate danger zone and had watched the late local news, John and I started heading up the stairs hoping to get some sleep. As we walked through the house locking doors and shutting off lights, we started talking about what we’d grab if we were to receive that reverse 911 call.

Besides, you know, our kids.

I think they’d be first priority. Slightly.

But if we had, say, a half an hour to load a few things in the truck, what would we turn to first?

We have most of our pictures on CDs in a fireproof lock-box, along with all of our important paperwork. But beyond that… what is most important? Can’t be replaced?

I might grab my wedding dress in its preservation box. I’d probably reach for my most beloved Bible–the one with the special underlinings and notes I’d hate to lose–and definitely my journals.

Or wait. Maybe I’d let myself just happen to forget those three journals I filled in one year when I was 16. I think THOSE are a few memories I’d be okay losing.

We have special scrapbooks, the boys’ first year calendars and special blankies. The journal I kept for “my future husband” before I knew his name would be John. John’s grandpa’s old pocket Bible with notes in his own handwriting filling the inside front and back covers. And then there’s the stuff that would be harder to load up–the boxes of keepsakes in the garage.

We weren’t sure. Beyond the four of us–what would we be the most saddened to lose?

So tell me… if you were evacuated and had a thirty minutes to gather a few things and be gone, what would you reach for first?

Or maybe you’d be like John and say, “You know, we’d probably need to get the kids’ DVD case. Because that thing and the truck’s DVD player could be what really saves our lives.”

Priorities, people. I’m telling ya.