Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring? Yeah...right...

Spring, why have you betrayed me? What are these white flakes doing here? Why do I have to wear my down, puffy coat and gloves and scarf? What happened to the birds and the flowers and the sun? What kind of a friend are you?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Spring Quarter Classes...

I registered for Spring Quarter classes online today. It's nice to register early, because I can make sure I get the classes I want. I'm going to be taking three classes again: Biology 101 (with lab), Intro to Computer Systems and Math 121 (Pre-Calculus). It took me forever to figure out what times I wanted to take these classes, because I try to work it so things can continue to go smoothly with the fam. Joe and I figured things out, and I think it's going to be OK. Now I'm going to start the used textbook hunt. I try to look online, including the used student bookstore on my college website. I've been able to get some good deals, even selling books for a profit! Some of my books I will probably keep for Amanda who is probably going to be going there next year for the Running Start program! Wouldn't that be funny if we took a class together? :) She might not think so, come to think of it. How uncool, Mom......

Am I Dreaming?

I got my math test back yesterday, and I got a 98!! This is exciting for me since my brain just didn't seem to be working when I took this test. I was the last one to finish it, so I felt really insecure about it. But, a 98!!!

Then, I got my Chemistry test back yesterday, too. I got a 92!! It was tough, too!

I'm so shocked at myself sometimes. It seems so unreal for ME, the girl who struggled and struggled with math and chemistry in high school, to be getting A's in COLLEGE. It's gratifying, don't get me wrong. It's just WEIRD.....


Thursday, February 22, 2007


In one of my first posts, I mentioned that I experienced church burnout. It's been a painful, eye-opening and humbling experience. It has also changed me for the better (that is even still developing). My goal in talking about it is to learn about it myself, and to help others learn about it and prevent it. The phrase "burned out" is so often used, some don't realize that it's an actual condition. It's been my experience that burnout is something not often talked about in that sense. There are many different arenas to experience burnout in, such as work or even mothering. I happened to experience church burnout. I have seen, in various churches we've attended over our many moves, a small handful of people doing most of the work. I've seen people, myself included, overextending themselves at the expense of their families and health. I guess I have a passion about it now, and want to help others. I have found several articles that I have enjoyed, and want to share. I hope this helps you in some way.....

Thoughts FromMy Spiritual Journey - Glenn Murray

SPIRITUAL BURNOUT- a typical experience for many believers –
You begin to attend the Sunday morning worship service. Then the pastor says you should be in Sunday School, so you start going to Sunday School. Then someone says, “Why don't you come Sunday evenings?” So you start to attend on Sunday evenings. Then you are urged to participate in the mid-week service or a Bible study and you become more involved.
Next they say, “You know, we have an early morning prayer meeting”, or “We have a wonderful men's fellowship.” A call comes to tell you of the need for a Sunday School teacher and, since you're so good with young people, you help out. Someone notices that you have a good voice and they suggest that you must use your talent for Jesus. “Why don't you join the choir? By the way, we practice on Thursday nights.”
Soon you are so visible and respected that you are nominated for the church Board. Of course, everyone should do his or her part, or the church won't function right. Committee assignments follow. Soon you are so involved with the church that you are neglecting your own life in Christ and even your own family. Frequently spiritual burnout occurs and you eventually become only an "attendee."
Many people have been through this cycle, some several times. It is so easy to have our lives revolve around activities "for Christ" instead of around Christ Himself. This doesn't bring the abundant life that John speaks about in chapter 10, verse 10, but we remain among the ranks of the over-committed. However the truth is that these commitments are about all we have. We were not made for commitment but rather for intimacy and closeness. The only value of commitment is to keep us together until we begin to experience intimacy. We usually think something is wrong with our commitment so we condemn ourselves. Many of us go to renewal seminars or wait for the next traveling speaker who can arouse our spent emotions.
This ongoing cycle produces "Christian fruit" like church growth, mission programs, prayer meetings and Bible studies but "Christ-like character" is what God desires. Our churches have too much gossip, dissension and division. Our impact on culture is minimal and, in fact, our culture is shaping us. Paul speaks to this in Romans 12:2 when he says, "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity" (Phillips version).
It may seem that I have given up on the church but nothing could be further from the truth. I am completely committed to the local church but the Scriptures admonish me to, "test all things and hold on to what is good" (1st Thess. 5:21). After careful evaluation my conclusion is that something must change if we are to realize our true destiny. One definition of insanity is, "continuing the same activities while expecting different results." We must cooperate with God as he re-trains our minds to think His thoughts rather than continue happily along the path that led us to our present condition.
I do not propose a new method but rather an increased emphasis on helping people understand how to "Walk In The Spirit." We need an emphasis on personal spiritual growth instead of church growth. We have thought we were doing this but the fruit of our collective labors does not confirm that. May God cover us with His mercy and grant us a new and abundant grace as we move into the new century.

"receiving the message with great eagerness and then checking the Scriptures dailyto see if what Paul said was true." - Acts 17:11

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Junior High Journal Party!

Whew!! I just had five junior highers, plus a junior high leader in my house for a crafty night of journal making! Melanie is in a "Cadre" group (small group) at our church, and she wanted to host a night where the girls could hang out. Their leader is a really fun, spunky, almost-21-year-old whom all the girls connect with and love. Anyway, I digress....OK. The journals! Melanie and I made up some packets with precut cardstock papers with matching scrapbook paper, so the girls wouldn't have to do much prep. We made a sample journal, and each girl made basically the same style with different papers. Some got creative with paper punches, too. Then the journal itself tied closed with a ribbon. Here is Melanie's cute monogram journal:

The journal is made from a composition book, that Melanie covered with paper, and punched out flowers that she layered at the bottom right hand corner......


To read this post, you have to imagine me doing a victory dance.
I'm gOOOood. Oh yeahhhhh. I'm gOOOood. Oh yeahhhhhhhh....I think I nailed my Chem test today, nailed a math quiz and I just got my ENG 101 essay back: 150 out of 150!! Oh yeah - I'm good - oh yeah - let's partay - like it's your birthay-oh yeahhhhh...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Look what I saw!

When I walk to class in the mornings, I'm surrounded by woodsy-ness. It's really beautiful. Look what I saw today:

This is a woodpecker called the Northern Flicker. They're twice the size of a robin, so they're really big. I've had some in my yard before. They like to hang on the bird feeder similarly to the way they are hanging on this tree. It's super funny. Today I saw three of them flying and land on the side of a tree exactly like the picture. Their coloring is super cool, with those red cheeks, and semi-circle chest. These are the things that make me happy. This reminds me that I need to go get some bird feed - I just love to sit and watch them!

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's called a "pearl"

Ben and I were getting ready this morning, and he was reading the shampoo bottle. Then he informed me that when an "s" is on a word, its called a "pearl." I had no idea what he was talking about, so I said, "Hm!" Then, it dawned on me. I said, "do you mean "plural?" He said "Yeah, p-pur-pl-ur-al." :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007


School's going good! Don't get me wrong, it's tough at times. Now that I am about half-way through Winter Quarter, I'm really feeling it. Miraculously, I'm maintaining A's in all of my classes at this point. Don't know if it will stay that way, but it amazes me. Once again, how I am succeeding in math is a surprise. I have to work WAY harder in this math class, because the teacher isn't the best. I am spending a lot of time reading and re-reading the text, to try and CRAM it in my brain so it sticks.

My English 101 class is on-line. I still am not sure if I like this method of taking a class. There's just SO much reading, since you can't hear lectures, etc. I'm doing awesome in it, though. I'm waiting on a grade from my last essay, and then I just have one more to write and I'm done with the class!! My last essay is supposed to be a "proposal," where I define a problem and a solution. Here's what I'm going to tackle: changing the law regarding how parents are informed that a registered, juvenile sex offender is attending school with their child. Whew. Did you know that schools are not obligated to tell you if a registered sex offender is attending school with your child? The sheriff's department is obligated, by law, to tell the school district, who in turn may not even tell the principal, who in turn, may not even tell the teachers. It's up to them. The only way you can find out is if you go to the registered sex offender website, which most parents wouldn't really think they should go see if a STUDENT is a sex offender! That's how I found out about this problem. I was looking on the website, and found a student sex offender living within a 1 mile radius of my house. I asked my daughter if she knew him, and she said "yeah, I have two classes with him." Yikes! I then called the sheriff, and found out about the laws. I think it's important enough that I'll post my essay on my blog when it is finished.....

I love my Chemistry class, because the teacher is so good. She used to be a high school Chem teacher, so she can really put it in easy terms for moms like me! It's just SO interesting. I was struck with how orderly a system science (and math for that matter) is. The more scientists discover, the more, in my opinion, it reveals what an amazing God we have! How in the WORLD could such an orderly system just "happen?" I wonder how scientists aren't forced admit the existence of God everyday. He is an awesome Creator.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Spring? Is that you?

I was walking to my math class this morning, and I heard the happy sound of birds chirping. I also saw some type of bulb flowers poking their green leaves up through the soil. The gardeners were even out raking and fluffing the grounds....I felt like I got a little glimpse of Spring, and I started dreaming about the plants and flowers I want to plant in my own yard....Anyway, the thought of Spring brings a sort of relief to my soul, reminding me of how LONG it's been since I've seen pretty flowers and SUNSHINE.......It's times like these that I sure miss San Diego, and long for those relaxing days, reading in the sun during the girls' naptime....But, nothing beats the Spring around here. I can't wait to see my orange and pink Helianthemum and my vanilla-scented Irises and oooh-my hydrangeas! And who doesn't love this (minus the snow in the foreground):

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Favorite Cards

I got inspired making Valentine's cards, so I thought it might be fun to share some of my other favorite cards I've made in the past. Since I rarely make the same card twice, I always scan my cards to enjoy after I've given them away.....They truly are my works of art. Sometimes I labor over a card for over an hour or more....Here's some of my favs....

This was fun stamping with white pigment ink on hot pink paper, then adding fuzzy yarn

Some of my cards have no stamping at all, like this one. I used a simple flower with a brad center and a ribbon. I just loved the paper. I can't resist cool paper.....

This one is a little square card (the bottom edge wasn't scanned completely). The little girl is peeking through a circle window. I colored the images with a blender pen from Stampin' Up and ink from the stamp pads.

This one has all the cool embellishments I like to use: tags, brads, cording, metal edged tags, etc.

I love this stamp of my favorite flower. I used pastel chalks to color the images....Below is the same stamp using different colors. It looks totally different, doesn't it?

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Happy Valentine's Day!! I would like to know how you celebrate Valentine's Day with your significant other or family! Leave me a comment, OK?

Joe and I went out to dinner at McCormick and Schmick's on Sunday night, since he works today. We each had some delicious salmon....MMMMMmmmm....

Today, my honey surprised me with a pedicure spa treatment gift card at Gene Juarez, along with a lovely letter on pink paper (I had to growl a little that he used my Stampin' Up paper, but oh well, it was pink and matched everything else) :) He also gave my favorite - dark chocolate. He even got me flowers and balloons! Isn't he so nice? Of course, he told me we weren't doing gifts for each other this year (I should have remembered after almost 17 years of marriage, that he really doesn't mean that)......I made him an awesome card and gave him some chocolates (doesn't quite compare to the gifts he gave me......)

I got each of my kids a little somethin'-somethin' to surprise them with when they come home from school today. The girls each got some fuzzy, slipper socks, lip gloss and candy, while Ben got a fuzzy poster to color and some candy......I also made them each really cool cards.

Here's a pic of the card I made Joe....

I used rub-on transfers for the letters, and I glued zebra paper to a chipboard letter. Then, I adhered snaps to the end of the card. Cool, huh?

Happy Valentine's Day!!!! Don't forget to leave me a comment about your celebrations!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monkey See, Monkey doooooo....

This past Saturday was the performance of Ben's play, "The Jungle Book." It was a cute show with catchy songs and great costumes. Ben played one of the monkeys who caused trouble for the main character, Mowgli. The monkeys sang two songs: "Monkey See, Monkey Do" and "Get Up And Dance." We were so proud of Ben and how well he performed. He worked so hard!! The poor guy was so tired after the two performances. Here's some pics!

Ben the monkey!!
Can you find Ben?
Grammie, Ben, Mom and Amanda
Goofy pose

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Are you burned out?

The following is another article from Smoldering Wick Ministries at, by Kim Wenzel. This applies to any type of church leader, not just pastors....I hope you find it informative....

Stress, then Burnout
It seems to me so many in the church do not understand spiritual burnout. The helping professions have always had a higher burnout rate than many other types of careers. Social workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists, and other social reform positions have scored high in burnout in the past several decades.
It the past 20 years burnout and rising drug and alcohol abuse has skyrocketed in doctors, lawyers and members of the clergy. This disturbing trend also includes suicide. In fact, I am writing this article just two weeks after the suicide of one of Colorado Springs' most loved pediatricians. A man who gave so much to the community, he had nothing left.
Some doctors claim stress contributes to 90% of all diseases. Even if this figure is exaggerated a tad, we all know stress plays a major factor in our life that isn't good. Good stress we need, yes indeed, but with clergy burnout rates climbing to 1,500 a month, there is a lot of bad stress in the church and in the mind and heart of the ministry leader.
In this article let's look at the main differences between stress and burnout.
Stress can be characterized by over-engagement. Running around putting out every brush fire in the congregation, making every decision, and trying to solve every problem. "Fixers" are notorious for over-engagement.
Burnout is characterized by disengagement. The ministry leader has become disillusioned and exhausted. He/she no longer desires to "fix" anyone or anything. Mild burnout causes pastors to look the other way and pretend that problem doesn't exist in the congregation. (There are millions of ministry leaders in this category. These leaders need to be reassured that looking the other way isn't always a bad thing. The leader doesn't have to be the savior - that's Jesus' job. It is his church, he is the administrator, the guide, the high priest, the word, the bread, the life. Left alone by the pastor, Jesus has been known on occasion to fix a problem all by himself!) Full burnout is a case of extreme compassion fatigue and leads to resignation and extremes of escapism that can be destructive.
Stress - the emotions can be over-reactive. Sudden outbursts of temper, or outbursts of weeping. In burnout the emotions become crippled. The ministry leader sits and stares out the window for extended periods of time. There is little reaction to good or bad news. The compassion drive to help others dies. In spiritual burnout, the emotion-links to the spirit are damaged, and spiritual underpinnings are slowly replaced with growing frustration that can manifest toward man and God.
In Stress, the main damage is to the physical body. Ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, etc. With burnout, motivation and drive are afflicted. Again, this isn't always bad. The burnout victim needs to learn to "rest" in Jesus. He/she has burned-out from trying to do all things all the time, and build the world's greatest church all by themselves. Stress creates physical exhaustion which also is a good thing for the "type A" world saver. They also need to rest in the Lord Surveys show us that some of the most successful pastors in North America spend precious little time with their mates or children.
Burnout creates demoralization. You reach a point where you believe your are no longer effective as a pastor, worship leader, etc. What's the use? No matter what I do it's never good enough. Nobody benefits from my ministry. Nothing ever changes. Many people hate my guts.
Stress is often understood in terms of loss of fuel and energy. Burnout is the loss of ideals and hope. This can rapidly lead to detachment, or pulling away from others, and defeatism - the feeling you're beaten and everyone, even God doesn't seem to be on your side anymore.
Depression can occur with both stress and burnout. Depression created by stress is often the body's response to protect itself and conserve energy. The depression associated with burnout is grief created by the loss of ideals and hope (this was the depression Elijah felt after Mt. Carmel failed to instantly change the entire nation back to Yahwah worship and catapult him into super status as the greatest revivalist in history). With this grief/depression comes a sense of helplessness piled on top the hopelessness. At this point one of two things usually happens to the wounded ministry leader. He/she may become very combative, like a wounded animal backed into a corner, striking out verbally at every threat real or imagined. Or, they may simply disappear. I would love to know the statistics on the number of former pastors in North America that have totally dropped out of organized religion. It seems every week I hear of or talk to another pastor who tried to move on to attend in another denomination, and did so for a year or two, then quietly disappeared into the misty dark night of uninvolvement.
While stress can produce panic, and anxiety disorders, burnout can produce paranoia. It is our belief at Smoldering Wick, that certain levels of paranoia definitely contribute to the high number of drop-outs among clergy and lay-members alike.
The above are some of the differences between stress and burnout. High stress is often a contributing factor leading to burnout, but stress is by no means the main cause. Not understanding the very core of God's heart and living in the light of that understanding is the main cause of spiritual burnout. From this lack of understanding come the subtle twists and perversions of the Gospel itself, and all the unrealistic expectations that break the spirit of so many sincere Christians. What is needed for healing is to come to know the very heart of God correctly - probably for the first time - and not swallowing any more gospels that seem to promise everything in this life.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Break A Leg!

Today, Ben auditioned for a play at his school, put on by the Missoula Childrens' Theater. Two traveling directors come to their school, hold auditions, and perform a play all in a week's time! It's pretty awesome. Anyway, about half the kids who audition get a part. Amanda and Melanie each participated in these plays during the years they attended the school, and got parts every year. So, this year it was Ben's turn!!

Joe took Ben to the audition, since I had a class. On the way there, Joe told Ben to "break a leg!" Ben asked what that meant, so Joe explained that this is what theater people say to each other. When they arrived at the school, and were getting out of the car, Ben said "Well, I'm gonna go punch my leg!" Joe just about died laughing, it was so cute....

The good news is: Ben got a part!! He is going to be a monkey in the play "The Jungle Book." You sure "punched a leg, Ben!" :)

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Ponderings on church last night...

Joe and I went to church last night and heard a great message on Acts 5. For the next several weeks, our pastor will be speaking on "Fundamentals to Go Deep," and this week he talked about deception. He had some very cool points that stuck out for me.

1. If we cover ourselves, God will expose us. If we expose ourselves, God will cover us.

*I so appreciated this point, because I've often thought that I respect and trust people more when they are transparent and reveal their weaknesses, faults, and mistakes - when they are up front and say "I messed up. I'm sorry." It's when people try to cover things up to try to protect their reputation, or control what people think of them, that is something I don't respect. For myself, I hope to be that transparent. I think I would rather tell on myself, and have God and others forgive me, than have God expose me!! Yikes. Our pastor said to "get your junk in the light," sighting Hebrews 4:12, 13. He also said that we are pre-disposed to hide (like when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, and realized they were naked), so we must go against that nature, and expose our "junk." It's when we bring things into the light, that we are free.......Love that....

2. Duplicity keeps confidence captive and robs authentic living.

*There was something that really stuck out for me in this point, too. He talked about how we can become a social chameleon in order to be accepted by other people, so we end up not being the authentic "me" God created us to be. Such as, in our interactions with people, we basically decide what other people want us to be, and we become that so they will accept us. Pretty soon, our "real me" is so waterered down, we don't even know who we are anymore. This duplicity is really deception. It is the watering-down of who God made watering down concentrated orange juice. Doing that makes it taste nasty......The truth is, that God created us, and LIKES us exactly the way He made us.

Strings "R" Us

What a day yesterday!! It was my turn to drive for the youth symphony carpool. I had to have Amanda and her friend down to rehearsal before 9:00 AM, then hang out until 1:30 when they finished. After that, I took the girls up to Federal Way for a solo/ensemble contest. This contest is BIG in the high school music world, and precedes state competitions. (It's something to put in her portfolio for college, too). Students can choose to play solos or ensembles in front of an adjudicator for scoring. The scoring is on a 1, 2, 3 scale (with plusses and minuses), with 3 being the bottom. Amanda has been preparing her piece for several months, and we hired accompaniment. She played "Concerto in A Minor," by Carl K. Goldmark. Amanda played EXCEPTIONALLY well, as did her friend. She received a 1 minus!!!!! GREAT JOB AMANDA!! Here she is at the contest.....

Friday, February 2, 2007

My Babies

His last weekend as Chief!

Cute girls!

The gang