Monday, December 29, 2008

Please Pray for a Baby

PLEASE pray NOW for a little baby named Stellan. He is a newborn and is in the hospital NICU after contracting RSV (respiratory virus). They are holding off a little longer before they put him on a ventilator - so PLEASE pray that he turns the corner tonight! He has been through so much in his short little life, and this is a hard one for their family. You can read their story through the link on my sidebar: "My Charming Kids."

PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Arizona!!



Papa and Nana's house!



Papa and Nana at the park



Christmas Cacti singing "O Holy Night"



Desert beauties




Kids enjoying the sun....




Our first night in Arizona - Christmas dinner!




Present time!




Mom took a nap in the sunshine. Ahhhhhh....




The kids took a ride to the community center. The neighborhood Papa and Nana live in is part of a master planned community with lots of amenities.....




The kids at the neighborhood park. Ben begged Papa to drive him over in the golf cart to to play. :)



The kids at a prehistoric ruins site called "Casa Grande."




Ben in his "room" (Nana and Papa's walk-in closet) with Toby



The fam on Papa's golf cart again - probably the highlight for Ben. Mel even got to drive it!







What we came home to - a Christmas we won't forget!!





BBQ anyone?

Friday, December 26, 2008

We Made It

After a flight delay on Christmas Eve, we made it home. Yay! We arrived too late to attend our church's Christmas Eve service, but we were just so glad to be back. After a quick trip to Taco Bell to fill our tummies we made it home. What a great feeling to walk into our warm home with our Christmas presents waiting under the tree. Our kitty was so happy to see us (she has hardly left my side since we got back).

Ben developed a skin staff infection that we had to see a doctor for in Arizona. We think he had it before we left, so our first task was to disinfect all of our bathrooms and wash all our bedding,just to make sure. Once we had the house cleaned up, I stuffed our stockings. One of our Christmas traditions is to open our stockings on Christmas Eve. Papa and Nana had given us a DVD of a fire in a fireplace, so we put that on as well as some Christmas music and opened our stockings together.

The kids woke up about 7:00 am on Christmas morning. Santa had left a remote control car for Ben and some lighted make-up mirrors for each of the girls. After they messed around downstairs with their gifts, all three kids came and got us up. What a great day of opening gifts and being together! Joe put a pork roast in the crock pot, and we had a yummy Christmas dinner that evening.

We picked up Diego today. After more than a week at the kennel, he was sure glad to see us! I have two little shadows now, who seem a little worried that I'm going to leave them again. If Macy gets left alone at all, she starts meowing this forlorn little meow until we answer her. Poor kitty and doggy!

All in all, it was kind of nice to have missed all of the snow drama here in the Northwest. We had a couple of days of temperatures in the 60's in Arizona, which was fun sitting out on Nana and Papa's patio soaking in the sun. I'm thankful we weren't stranded in an airport with nowhere to go, and had a warm comfy bed at Joe's parents. It's great to have some time off period - and even better to have made it home for Christmas. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Adventure

After two days in a row of flights cancelled into Seattle, we are back at Joe's parents in Arizona. The airline is saying we might be able to get home on Christmas Eve morning, but I'm not going to get my hopes up too much because the weather is still bad there. It was a sad thought that we might not be waking up in our own home on Christmas morning to open presents. Amanda and Ben were teary, and I was fighting mine back for their sake. Melanie is happy-go-lucky, and is perfectly happy coming back to Nana and Papa's. I told the kids that whenever we get back, we'll still have our Christmas. I tried to keep them cheered up, and asked each of them if they would like to know what one of their presents are. They thought it was pretty funny, so I told them each one present. Their dad was down at the ticket counter, so I told them it was our secret, and not to tell dad that they knew. :)
I enjoyed the lifted expressions I saw on their faces, and decided to make sure we continue to have fun as long as we're here.

When Papa and Nana came back to the airport to get us, I encouraged the kids to pretend that we were just getting to AZ, and to act like we were just seeing them for the first time. They had fun with that, too.

I told Joe that we should just continue to enjoy the kids and spend time with them just like we would have done at home. The bonus is the wonderful sunshine here, that we can also enjoy! Today, I am taking the girls to see a movie while Joe takes Ben to play at the park. Papa and Nana have a golf cart, and Ben just LOVES taking it out for a ride. Papa even lets him drive. Papa and Nana also have a little Lhasa Apso named Toby who is fun for Ben and all of us. I'm getting to miss my kitty and doggy, though!

Diego is hanging out at the kennel, so he will be taken care of. Our neighbors are taking care of Macy, too......We're doing laundry at Nana and Papa's today, since we ran out of undies! We'll probably get some groceries to help out, since they weren't expecting us to be here this long.....All in all, it's all working out, and we're thankful we're not stranded in an airport like many people are right now. We got to come back to Papa and Nana's, we're all together safe and everybody's OK.

As one blogger reminded me, this time of year is about "Christ"mas. It's about Jesus. And, like I told the kids: the Lord wasn't surprised about what is happening. He knew this was going to take place, and He will take care of us. Everything will be OK.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'll Be Home for Christmas?

Flight cancelled again. Trying for Christmas Eve morning. Kids sad. Mom sad. Dad sad. Dog in the kennel sad. Kitty home alone sad.

Pray for us.

Stuck in Arizona

Hey from the sun! We are packing up to leave Joe's parents in Arizona, and I would like to ask for your prayers for our return flight. Our flight home yesterday was cancelled due to the severe winter storm in Washington. We will be coming home to several inches of snow I hear, plus freezing rain. We have a 35 mile drive from the airport to home once we get there. So, please pray that #1: we get to fly into Seattle today; #2: safe driving once we get there.

Thanks so much my blog friends!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Got 'Em

I got 'em. My final grades. My little heart is pounding out of my chest.

Abdominal Sonography: 95% A
Abdominal Lab: 89.5% B
Pathophysiology: 89% B

PRAISE THE LORD!!

Oh. Here comes the tears....

Christmas In The Northwest

If you haven't watched the video located below this post, I urge you to do so! It's AWESOME. My favorite part is when he says the "people you're supposed to love." HAHAHA! Perfect!

Anyway, Joe and I had a picture-perfect outing to downtown Seattle on Saturday night. It was SUPER cold, so we bundled up in our scarves and gloves, and headed over to the Cheesecake Factory for a delicious dinner. I was in the mood for Famous Dave's grilled salmon, however (I get these things stuck in my head sometimes) - but lo, and behold, the Cheesecake Factory presented their new menu with grilled salmon! They even had onion strings just like Famous Dave's! Mmmmmmmm......Joe and I shared a slice of heavenly Tiramisu cheesecake afterwards. Mmmmmmm again......

After dinner, we walked off some calories shopping a bit downtown. There were so many PEOPLE! And, there were lights everywhere, and a carousel, too. Inside one of the malls, there were choirs singing Christmas music and it was even snowing INSIDE. I got excited, because I bought a memory foam seat cushion at Brookstone. My rear end get so SORE sitting in class all day, and I've been looking for something to sit on. HA! The weird things that make me happy....

Finally, we walked up to the Fifth Avenue Theatre and saw "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers!" We had FANTASTIC seats, and WHAT an awesome show!! We LOVED it.

As we walked out of the theater, it was SNOWING - HUGE, slowly falling flakes. It was a true Christmasy moment, surrounded by all these people, coming out of the theatre, downtown amongst all the lights. So COOL.

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A couple of weeks ago, we attended Amanda's concert at the college. She joined the college orchestra this year, and was given a solo part. They performed with the choir, too. OH! It was SO good! They sang REAL, Christian-themed music, which was so wonderful. Some opera singers were invited to come as well, and blessed us with their beautiful voices. I was so pleased to be at a public college's community event, and listen to music with the true spirit of Christmas....

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The day after Amanda's concert, we went to our church's Christmas production. It was SO great! Ben was in the service with us, and I loved having my whole family together to worship and share in some more Christmas warmth.....

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It has been very cold since Saturday's snowfall, and it's supposed to stay this way for a while. Ben and Melanie played in the snow, and were hoping to get out of going to school today, but nope, it was on schedule. I was kind of hoping they got to stay home too. I'm kind of a kid when it comes to snow and Christmas, can you tell?

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I finally made out my Christmas letters and got a picture taken of the kids, so I'm going to be mailing those out today. I've been receiving cards and letters in the mail, and I read every one. We used to post each picture on our refrigerator, but this year, we have a stainless steel fridge, and magnets don't stick to it (and I don't want to stick tape to it, either). So, I put a pretty Christmas plate on my coffee table and put the pics and cards there. My Nana used to do that, and I think it's kind of fancy and special.....

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We're going to go to our church's Christmas Eve service, so I'm hoping to have some friends over for cookies afterwards. There's nothing like a Christmas Eve service. I am so moved by it, and enjoy the magic of the night. It's when my heart gets quite still and reflective about God and the awesomeness of His plan when He sent Jesus as that little baby. I don't really have the words, but the Lord and I connect on a special level at a Christmas Eve service...it's very special to me...

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I do hope we can make it to the Live Nativity again this year. That would be the icing on the cake......

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Quick Break

I'm taking a quick break from studying to ask for your prayers as I embark on my last four finals. I am most nervous about my Thursday final, so pray for skilled hands and quick thinking will you please?

Amazingly, I am finished with my Christmas shopping. I have done most of my shopping online, plus quick stops on the way home from class. Amazon, Avon, Best Buy and Overstock.com were my friends this year. If I were to have an addiction, it would be to receive packages in the mail. It is so FUN! I proclaim "Santa's elves came!" when a package arrives. And, did you know that a lot of stores have a set-up where you buy stuff online, and then pick it up at the store? I kinda like that idea for the fact that you don't have to fight any crowds to shop - you get to shop at home in your jammies and have the item waiting for you at the front of the store when you're ready to pick it up. It also means no shipping costs - yay!

Another "almost addiction" I have is receiving Christmas cards in the mail. Oh, I LOVE IT!! My favorites are the long letters including pictures. Truly, I live for it at this time of year. I've heard that some people hate reading Christmas letters, but I guess I'm weird that way....

Well, my quick break is over.

Friday, December 5, 2008

One Down

One final down, four more to go....I took my Pathophysiology final on Tuesday and I felt very, very good about it. I think I only missed a few, but then I'm pretty sure I got all of the extra credit correct, so that might make up for what I missed.

Next week I have finals in Abdominal Sonography, Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation, Cross-Sectional Anatomy and Abdominal Sonography Lab.

I'm quite nervous about my Lab final. We will given six images to scan, and fifteen minutes to do it. We will not know who we will scan ahead of time, which means no practice time on that person. I will have a teacher sitting there watching my scanning techniques, and then judging my images afterwards for their clarity, etc. I'm scared!

So, again, if you think of me, I could use your prayers!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finals

My first out of five finals is on Tuesday, the 2nd. If you think of me, say some finals week prayers!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baptism






Melanie decided that she wanted to be baptized at her youth service last weekend. Something like 31 kids got baptized all in one night! It was AWESOME. There were about 400 kids standing up and cheering the whole time......I was very proud of Melanie. She was baptized at about 8 years old, but she really wanted to do it again because she felt like she understands it better now, and wanted to do it to show her commitment to God. Pretty cool if you asked me....

Heaven...

For the last several weeks, our pastor has been speaking on the "end times." So, on the way home from church tonight, we got to talking about Heaven. My 17-year-old, Amanda says, "So, are we going to be naked in Heaven? .......Because, that would be really awkward."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas Music

My family and I are crazy about Christmas. Before Halloween, there was a radio station that played Christmas music for a day. I told Amanda, and she freaked. We listened to it all day. Another radio station has been playing it everyday since November 1st. I love it, but my husband is not quite ready to get into the Christmas spirit. :) He tried to change the station yesterday! I called him a Grinch. Me? I'm ready. I like Christmas to last as LONG as possible....

We got a fake Christmas tree two years ago. That means we can put up our tree early and leave it up as long as we want. This year, we're putting it up the day after Thanksgiving - I can't wait!!

We're also going to go to a live Nativity again this year, as well as our church's Christmas Eve services (my absolute favorite).

But, back to the music....I don't know if I have a favorite Christmas song. The song "Breath of Heaven" comes to mind, as does "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire."

Are YOU listenening to Christmas music already? What's your favorite song?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thank You Note Etiquette

Etiquette Everyday ~ Communications
Being Thankful: A Thank-You Note Q&A
(From www.emilypost.com)

We all have to write thank-you notes. Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone staring down your stack of cards and list of names. Before you start, remember that thanking people needs to be about just that: expressing thanks. So refocus, reorganize, and rethink the process. Get in touch with the sincerity of thanking people for thinking about you and sending you something—even if it’s a hot pink polyester sweater. Here at the Emily Post Institute, we’ve assembled some simple answers to the most commonly asked questions about the post-holiday thank-you note blues.

Who needs a note?

All gifts should be acknowledged with a note, unless the goodies were opened in front of the giver—then you have the chance to thank them in person. An important exception: many of an older generation expect a hand-written note. Providing them with one is an appropriate gesture of respect and consideration.

Who should write the note?

The person who received the gift should write the note. Group notes are acceptable for Aunt Patty who sent the household a group present—just ask each recipient to sign. For couples, it’s perfectly fine to split up the notes for gifts you received together. For the kids, check our section entitled “Mom, Let’s Write Thank-You Notes!”

When should thank-you notes be written?

Write your notes as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate if you feel you’re late: a late note is always better than no note at all.

Can a thank-you note be creative?

Absolutely. Incorporating photos, children’s drawings—anything at all that compliments the sentiment is appropriate. Just remember to include a short written thank-you as well.

What about e-mail?

The reality of email thank-you’s, much like email itself, is a degree of emotional distance: an email to your grandmother is simply not as personal as a note written in your own hand. So if you have a casual relationship with the gift giver and you correspond via email regularly, an email thank-you may be appropriate. For most other people, the written thank-you is your best bet for an expression of warm, heartfelt thanks. The last thing you want is for someone to be disappointed when her hand-knit scarf is acknowledged with a loud, animated e-card.

How do I make writing thank-you notes fun?

We all love getting presents and are sincerely thankful, but some of us procrastinate terribly when it’s time to write notes. One friend, bemoaning the fact that she had to write not only her notes to far-flung family and friends, but also notes for her three children and her husband, hit upon a brilliant idea.

She had a party. On a Sunday afternoon in January, she invited her husband and their kids to the kitchen table. Everything was ready: note paper, pens, pencils, crayons, envelopes, address book, stamps and lists. The smallest (ages 4 - 6) drew pictures of their gifts, and Mom and Dad added dictated captions and thank you’s. The 7-8 year olds wrote one or two sentences, practicing new writing skills. The 9-and-olders were able to work more or less independently. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad helped with spelling words and addressing, and, in the quiet moments, wrote a few notes themselves.

When everyone was finished, there was hot cider and banana bread. My friend was amazed at how successful the afternoon was. The kids were involved, the notes were done and the family had time to be together and talk about their holiday, friends and relatives. And a new family tradition was born.

If you’re on your own, break up the list. Schedule a few different days to write your notes, and each time give yourself a little something to make it interesting: music, a glass of wine, your favorite radio show, a cup of tea—perhaps even some chocolate. Take the time to yourself for writing out thank-you notes: don’t try and wedge it in between laundry, a TV show and extra work from the office. You’ll be able to think more clearly and your focus will translate to the page. Above all, try to enjoy yourself. Giving thanks shouldn’t be a chore—and doesn’t have to be if you make the effort to keep it interesting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Thanksgiving again - yay

I have become less fond of Thanksgiving the last ten years. First of all, me, Joe and our kids usually end up doing it alone. No big event. No warm, large, extended family gathering. We used to have them. And, sadly, we had more when we lived states away from our extended family, because we would always be invited to share the holiday with friends or families from church. I have tried to invite people over (who might not have a place to go), and create a gathering, but that has never worked out. I have tried something out of the norm, and went to Old Country Buffet. Read last year's entry about Thanksgiving, and you'll see what a fiasco THAT was.

This year, Joe's parents are still living in another state, my side of the family is somewhat estranged etc., and no one has invited us to join their extended family gathering. I thought about going and serving a meal at a homeless shelter or something. It's still a thought, but we'll probably just be alone again.

We do, however, have a Thanksgiving tradition. We go see a movie. Yes! The movie theaters are open! We have done this since the girls were very little. This year, we are going to see "Bolt." It just looks hilarious, with that little hamster in the ball who thinks he's the hero's sidekick. HAHA!
All in all, I am finding it less depressing that we are, once again, spending Thanksgiving by ourselves. I still wish that my children could experience the warmth and belonging of some of the gatherings we have shared with other church families. Not that we can't when it's just us, but it's just not the same. I think I have resolved the angst, by realizing that I may have to wait until my children are married and start having children to have the kind of family, holiday gatherings I am dreaming of. Then, I can be the Nana who cooks and does special things with the kids, and know I am providing THEM with memory of warmth and love and belonging.....

So, I'll make the full Thanksgiving spread this year for my little family. I will enjoy it, because I haven't cooked like that in awhile. I will enjoy it, because I will be off from school and I can just hang with my husband and my children. I will...

I just have to stop writing, because my kitty just put her face into my purse, and pulled out a new maxipad and started carrying it off....HAHAHAHAHA!!!

OK. I will be thankful because I have a God as my Father who loves me with an everlasting love, and has given me a healthy, loving husband and healthy, great kids. (And, a weird cat)

SO - what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Or, what do you WISH you were doing for Thanksgiving (hee hee)??

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Favorite Thing




My new favorite thing:

Brown Sugar Liplicious lip gloss from Bath and Body Works

It gives a hint of color and lots of long-lasting gloss. It even tastes good. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blessed Assurance

Amanda and Joe flew to Whitworth University, so Amanda could spend the night in a dorm with one of her friends as well as attend classes. Amanda also got the opportunity to meet with the director of music and receive a private lesson. Then, she and Joe hooked up for a campus tour, and meeting with an advisor from the education department. She received some great advice, and is now probably going to move in a direction that is different than originally thought. However, she feels that God has led her in this direction! We will have to see how the Lord's path for her unfolds! Exciting stuff, though. I'm so amazed and intrigued by the choices and interests of my kids - so different from mine. I am loving to see how God is moving in their lives as they are getting older, and making adult choices. I am now feeling that, as a parent, I am fading into the background of their lives a bit (or at least Amanda's), watching them become this autonomous, God-led person. I wonder at the awesomeness of releasing my child into His hands completely, the majority of my job as a mom and daily caretaker almost complete. But, what a confidence I hold in my heart, knowing the strength of her relationship with God and Who will be in charge of her daily care from the day she leaves our home. Blessed assurance......

Today, our family is off to the funeral of a little baby. Our good friend from high school and his wife were blessed with their sweet baby, Josie, the beginning of October. She was born with a chromosomal abornomality, that was discovered at their 30-week ultrasound. Josie lived 23 days, and today we drive 2.5 hours to celebrate her life with our friends. Our children all wanted to attend with us, and cancelled their activities to come. I'm so proud of them. It will be a celebration, knowing Josie is perfect and playing in Heaven. Blessed assurance.....

Blessed assurance
Jesus is Mine
Oh what a foretaste
Of Glory Divine
Heir of Salvation
Purchased of blood
Born of His Spirit
Washed In His Blood
This is My Story
This Is My Song
Praising My Savior
All The Day Long
This is My Story
This is My Song
Praising My Savior
All The Day Long!!

*I wrote that from memory! I must have sung that a lot as a kid....:)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Confirmations

A couple of weeks ago, I had a meltdown moment. My husband must have sat with me for over a half hour while I cried. I was feeling stressed about my future clinical assignment, and worried over how far away they will send me - wondering if God would really look out for me and not allow me to be sent to Vancouver (one of the locations). I thought that, because what I'm doing doesn't have any "eternal significance" it must not matter to God - whether I succeed or fail, where I'm sent, etc., isn't important to Him in the grand scheme of things......

My husband said that he didn't think that God had brought me this far, to allow something that would make it a hardship on me and our family. I said, that I didn't think God cared about it, because it was my choice to enter the program, and maybe He's just allowing me to do it......

I didn't wholeheartedly agree with myself, even as I spoke the words, but I guess I was having doubts that what I was doing was OK with God. Since ultrasound is a secular job, I had some faulty thinking about it not having "eternal significance." All in all, in a moment of meltdown, I suppose I revealed some inner doubts and thoughts that were bubbling up from the recesses of my heart.

As I spoke, the Lord clearly directed me to read the book of Ruth. The next morning, I read the jewel of this little book of the Bible. I won't go into detail explaining the book of Ruth (go read it - it's good!), but I will say the lesson God wanted to teach me in it. He wanted me to see how He was involved and interested in the details of Ruth's life - providing a field for her to gather grain, directing her to just the right field, where He actually provided her future husband. NOTHING WAS COINCIDENCE. There. Stamped on my heart. Thanks, Lord.

I also listen to Christian radio (KGNW) on my drive to school. I have come to love listening to Allister Begg (sp?), a Scottish pastor. He is so dear. Anyway, God used him to speak to my heart again about how I, and the details of my life, are God's personal concern. Allister made a statement: "The presence of anxiety shows us the absence of humility." Conviction. Thanks, Lord. My steps are ordered of God, nothing is coincidence or random, my life is ever in front of his face. Thank you, Lord.

As it usually happens with me, God used our pastor to confirm His word to me again. Our pastor is speaking on the "end times," and the first message spoke of God's plans and how He has ordered time from the beginning to the end. Jeremiah 29:11 came up, which is one of my favorite verses. Thanks, Lord.

When God speaks to me in these ways, confirming His Word so beautifully, it's like a stamp in concrete on my heart. I will no longer doubt that my steps are not ordered of God. I remembered that I prayed, even before I started the process to this ultrasound program, that He would shut the door if it was not His best for me and my family. He didn't. In fact, He has given me great success. If He shuts the door down the line, I will accept it, because I trust Him. However, I believe that since He opened this door, and continues to give me success, I will trust that He will continue to provide for me and my family during this process to it's completion. Whether my occupation is in the secular world or in ministry, the Lord will use me for His glory. After all, there are people who do not know Him everywhere. A ministry occupation is no more of a "godly endeavor" than being salt and light in the secular workplace.

Sometimes I "know" things in my head, but even though they're there, what I "know" in the deep places of my heart don't match. I absolutely love it when God speaks to me and connects the two. I'm so solid in my "head beliefs" I didn't even realize there was this mismatch, but He is so good to see that and fix it. Today, I'm thankful for His reasssurance of His love for me and reminder of His plans for my life.

THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More Grades

Drumroll please...

Cross-Sectional Anatomy Midterm: 103 out of 100

Physics Midterm: 94 out of 100

Thank you, Lord! All credit to You! :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Christmas Shopping

Did you know that there are only SEVEN weekends left to shop for Christmas?!! It sounds weird when it's put THAT way, huh?!

I cannot advertise my website on my blog, but I am a personal sales rep for a cosmetics and gift company that starts with an "A." If you are interested in doing some online shopping, please email me through this blog, and I will give you the address. I've already done some online Christmas shopping there myself!

I also found a cool site with neat, educational toys at www.mindware.com. Whaddaya know - I also did some online shopping there!

I LOVE shopping online, don't you?! It's so convenient, and you don't have to leave the house! One year, I did a lot of shopping at Overstock.com. During this time of year, they have a lot of free shipping deals. You can find ANYTHING there!

What was YOUR last online purchase?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Costume Concert and Homecoming #2

Amanda had a youth symphony fundraiser concert last weekend, where the symphony played movie music and dressed in costumes. It was REALLY fun! Here's pics of our family outside of the theater.






Melanie went to a Homecoming dance at another high school last weekend, since one of her best friends attends there.....They went with a big group to the dance and Denny's afterwards.....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Whew

On Friday, I took my last midterm of the week and our instructor let us all go home afterwards - YES!! I called up my husband (who was doing laundry) and asked him to go out to lunch! We had a wonderful lunch at Olive Garden - soup and salad, my favorite.....Throughout lunch, I could feel myself physically, mentally and emotionally decompressing. I have never worked so hard (in all three aforementioned ways) in my LIFE during last several weeks. Whew. They are driving us so hard.

Basically, all I've been doing when I get home from classes in the afternoon is study. I try to make dinners because we ate out way too much last year when I was in school. I like the cooking time to get a little break from studying, but right after dinner, I'm right back at it. My husband has really been stepping up and taking over the majority of the household chores and looking after the kids' stuff. It's such a great relief to know that, during this season of my life, my husband is supporting me and taking over those things I typically do, so that I don't have to worry. I think he has appreciated how I have supported him through all of his endeavors throughout our marriage (Navy stuff, his bachelor degree) and now he can see me through this short season in my life while I pursue something I want to do.

So far, I have received two midterm scores back. On one I received an 84% and the other a 99%!! YES! The 84% score is good compared to the class - this class was Pathophysiology, and is taught by a retired Radiologist who has never taught a class before. Needless to say, this was a difficult class to know what to study. The whole class has struggled and complained quite a bit about it. So, the fact that I passed (below 79% is NOT passing in our program), is a miracle! The 99% score just makes me feel AWESOME. I felt really confident when I left that exam, and seeing the confirmation is a GREAT feeling. All glory and credit to God.....

Tomorrow, I enter another half of the quarter, and am feeling like I am climbing into another roller coaster, pulling down the safety bar and gripping the rubber handle for dear life......

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm On My Way...

I'm on my way to bed, but I had to stop and read my favorite blogs, and type a little on mine.

I'm on my way to a midterm next week on Tuesday in Pathophysiology.

I'm on my way to four MORE midterms everyday the week after next (except Monday).

I'm on my way to having fresh, steam-cleaned carpets come Saturday morning.

I'm on my way to having a toothless dog, since he had nine teeth pulled yesterday due to nasty cavities, and bad periodontal disease.

I'm on my way to sending my oldest daughter to college soon, which is evident by her taking her SAT a couple of weeks ago and planning a trip to Whitworth for a visit.

I'm on my way to Krispy Kreme tomorrow to buy Ben his promised donuts for reading two chapter books.

I'm on my way to gymnastics season, as Melanie went to the informational meeting to kick everything off.

I'm on my way to bed now, because I finished some homework and it's almost 11:00 PM.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

School, Pumpkin Patch and Homecoming

I posted the two previous videos, because they make me laugh so much. I went back to them for another laugh yesterday to relieve a little stress. Laughter is so great for that, isn't it?

I can't take much time away from studying, but I will say that "sonography school" is still intense. I can literally feel my brain forming new brain cells as I ponder the physics of sound waves and try to find my classmate's gallbladder, etc. I am holding on to A's in each class - did I mention I'm taking 18 credits? Yeah. Four classes (one of which has a one-hour lab twice a week) plus a four-hour lab once a week.

Next week is week FOUR, and we have already covered the liver and gallbladder as far as anatomy/physiology, sonographic appearance and pathologies. Then, we practice, practice, practice finding these organs (and others) on our classmates. We have a 50 point assignment of 10 things we must image, and make a powerpoint slideshow out of it. Our four-hour lab time is not enough time to do this assignment, so we must come in to the class on our "off-time" to scan people and obtain these images. Just another thing to do. I feel like a new thing gets added on to our already big list each week. As demanding as it is, I love it. I love studying this stuff (well, maybe not the Physics so much). It fascinates me.

Joe and I took Ben to the pumpkin patch when I got home yesterday afternoon. It was a great break from my studies, and special for Ben. We reminisced about our past visits to this particular farm, and I realized that I've been taking him there since his first Halloween when he was barely walking.





I have pictures of our girls in front of this when they were this age and younger....





Ahhhh...the sawdust pile. What could be more fun than flipping out the front of a plastic boat pushed by your dad? Good times...good times.....Actually, there was this one family who wouldn't let their kids ride the toys down the sawdust pile. They were afraid they would fall. I turned to Joe and whispered, "Isn't that the point?" Our son went home proudly covered in sawdust.





Ben on the tractor.






Amanda went to her last Homecoming dance tonight. Her friend, Brett, came up from college to go with her and a group of others. (Melanie decided that she wants to go to another high school's Homecoming, since most of her friends from junior high go there). Don't Amanda and Brett look so cute?! We had to curl Amanda's hair TWICE. Her hair just didn't want to hold the curls, even from hot rollers. I'm sure there will hardly be any curl left by the time she gets home.....



Amanda and her group of friends went to the "Iron Chef" for dinner. It's an Asian restaurant, where the chefs cook all of the food right in front of you, and they do all this fancy tossing and flame-throwing. I've heard it's really fun and you get a lot of great food!

OUCH!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Short Sighted?

Before beginning our ultrasound program, one of my fellow sonography students had attended one of the program's informational meetings. At the meeting, each person had to state their reason for wanting to become a sonographer. My fellow student explained that one interested woman at the meeting, said that she wanted to become a sonographer because she wanted to volunteer at a pro-life clinic (I'm assuming it is one of the Christian based crisis pregnancy centers located all over the country).

Anyway, my fellow student made a judgment about this woman and said, "Isn't that incredibly short-sighted?"

I immediately thought: "No, that's incredibly eternally-minded."

Mens Fraternity II

I had my latte and oatmeal, watched the end of "While You Were Sleeping," and now I gotta go study. Before I do, I have to say that I'm so proud of my husband for joining the second round of Men's Fraternity at our church. The title of this season is "Succeeding at Home and at Work." For those of you who don't know about Men's Fraternity (click on my sidebar to see more), it is a Christian series of weekly messages and small group work, going deep into what it means to be an authentic, godly man. And, they go deep. Last season was learning about what God says about authentic manhood and delving into past wounds that keep them from being an authentic man. This season will be some more of the same, but emphasis on other aspects of manhood. My husband will be heading down to church at 6:00 AM on Thursday mornings for the next few months or so. Good stuff!! Another cool thing, is that I don't have morning classes on Thursdays - thanks for working that out, Lord! :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Week

This week was the first real week of my sonography program. Needless to say, I won't have much time for blogging. I might try to write once a week. My brain is so tired from the intense concentration I must exert everyday, and it would be so hard to explain all that I have absorbed, but I will try to share about the experience (maybe so I can look back and appreciate it).....

I am scanning my classmates already.

I found a liver, kidney, aorta, gallbladder, and inferior vena cava all by myself.

I haven't done anything or lacked to do anything that has resulted in me being terminated from the program (a daily fear of all of the students).

I have five classes, two of them labs. One lab is over four hours long.

I found out that there were 50 people who applied to the program. 18 of us got in.

Our class is all women.

I am the 2nd oldest. The oldest is almost 40. The youngest is 21.

I have amazing, excellent instructors.

A HUGE challenge so far is learning the direction of what you're scanning, and how it translates to the screen. We go over and over and over and over and over and over it........

I have learned that while sonographers are not technically supposed to "diagnose," it is the sonographer who directs the radiologist toward the diagnosis, and in some cases, the radiologist makes their diagnosis based solely on what the sonographer says or the pictures they show them. Sonographers have a HUGE responsibility, and thus, must really know their stuff.

I am feeling good so far, because I have not lost any points on any homework or labs.

The last couple of days, I have driven home and cried due to the intense concentration I have to exert in class. Because this is going to be my future job, and I don't want to fail the program, I have to make sure that nothing gets by that I don't fully comprehend. It's tiring. On the other hand, it's incredibly fulfilling.

The program chair just got word that they have been accredited by the ARDMS (sonography organization), which means our class of students can take our registry exams immediately after graduation. Without accreditation, we would have had to work for one year before we could sit for the exams. This is HUGE for our future employment, and for the program.

I am going to love this job someday. It fits me. I thank God for opening this door for me and empowering my success. All credit to Him!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My New Favorite Sandwich

When I have excellent food, it is impressed on my memory. I do not forget awesome food. Sometimes I will just think about some memorable food, and re-experience it all over again (without eating it, of course). I enjoy the experience of eating, which means I eat slowly (which some people find the need to bring to my attention. I already know this, however, and I am proud of it - so there) :)

My favorite food is Italian. The other day, Joe and I went on a lunch date to a great little, authentic Italian cafe in Sumner. It's called Sorci's. It was sunny, so we even ate outside. This is a luxury in and of itself in our part of the country! My delicious sandwich was a grilled panini. It had three slices of tomato, big slices of mozarella and pesto spread on each piece of bread. This is my new favorite sandwich.

I will think about this sandwich for awhile.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

School Lunch

I usually make my kids' lunches for school. Once in awhile, Ben likes to buy lunch. Last week, he actually used his own money. He brought $5, and bought one lunch. The lunch lady said she would put the rest in his "lunch account," (something the district does). She told him he had about $3.15 left.

Yesterday, Ben wanted to buy lunch with his remaining money. However, when he got to the cashier, she said he only had 29 cents. They gave him a granola bar and a milk. He cried, and asked his teacher if he could call me to bring him a lunch. His teacher said "no."

When Ben got off the bus yesterday, he started to cry, said how hungry he was, and relayed the aforementioned story to me.

I WAS TICKED!!

I called the school, which directed me to the food services office. The lady there, looked things up on her computer, and basically said, "I dont' know what to say." They didn't have record of his $5 deposit.

SO - I called his teacher to let her know about the mix-up with his money. I also asked her why Ben was not allowed to call me. Her response was that it was 12:00, and she had to move on to the next subject at 12:20, implying that there would not be enough time for me to bring him something to eat. It was her opinion that a granola bar and milk is enough to tide them over for the afternoon. I let her know that I live very close to the school, and I could have brought him his lunch. I also let her know that not having his lunch affected his day in a negative way. She said "I apologize, and I will make a note that you don't live far from the school and you can bring him a lunch."

I was angry for hours about this. First of all, why in the world would a teacher not allow a child to call home to get their lunch??!! Is their agenda SO important, that a kid can't be finishing their lunch during her "program?" I'm sure that if he was finishing up his lunch at his desk, it wouldn't be THAT distracting!! Isn't school supposed to be about educating children, and didn't this interrupt my child's education for the rest of the day?! Did she not consider that the last time my son probably ate was around 7 or 8 in the morning?!! Did she not care about his tears?!!

I told my son, that if this ever happens again, that he has my permission to get a bathroom pass and head to the office and call me.

RIDICULOUS!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Circle

Sometimes our "no's" and decisions to set limits, make other people unhappy. However, the more I learn and the older I get, it ceases to be quite as bothersome to me.

Recently, I heard a speaker talking about perspectives. She had everyone stand in a circle. She put on a funny mask, and held up a picture of something. Without turning her body, she pointed to different people around the circle, and asked them what they saw. Each person had a different answer. Each one saw things from a different point of view.

Huh.

I think that, when people are unhappy with our "no's" and limits, it shows that they are unwilling to respect our decision, which was based on a different point of view than theirs. I can understand that they are unhappy with me since they are coming from a different place in that "circle," but it still doesn't change my decision.

It's unfortunate when we are unwilling to seek to understand (or even try to imagine) someone else's point of view, then refuse to discuss our negative feelings about it and work things out with someone. Besides, there are a million reasons why someone would choose to do or not do something. And, I bet that most of the time, there is no ill intent. I also don't think we should expect that the things that are important to me, should be just as important to you. And, vice versa.

Otherwise, it's people-pleasing. And, I'm so done with that.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Could I Be Experiencing Ministry Burnout?

The following is an article by Kim Wenzel, leader of Smoldering Wick Ministries (see sidebar), a ministry for wounded and burned out pastors and lay leaders...


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.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Week

This week has been full. I have felt like I've been in a cloud, being led along by somebody else. LOTS of information, and LOTS of boring training. It started out with a full day of being scared out of my pants at all of the hard work I'm in for, not to mention all of the rules and stipulations that could mean "termination from the program," etc.....I am in a class of 18, and I feel like I am surrounded by some quality people. It's going to be great....I also learned that our clinicals are chosen for us, and not based on where we live. This means that there is a possibility we might have to commute up to 2 hours each way. Our clinicals start Spring Quarter and then our whole second year is completely clinicals.

I had a SEVEN HOUR day of boring HIV/AIDS training. My rear end was ACHING from sitting so long. And, afterwards, I was so creeped out, that all I wanted to do was keeping putting on hand sanitizer.

I had another half day of HIPAA training (privacy laws) followed by a talk given by one of the counselors. She talked about communication skills and the stages that our classroom will go through (forming, storming, norming, etc.).

On Thursday, we were supposed to be at the school from 8 to 4, but our CPR class ended up only being an hour and a half, and we got to go home!! It was a nice surprise. It was a big adjustment being gone all day, and managing the family. But, when I got home, my husband was deep cleaning my kitchen as well as dusting and vacuuming the whole house. It was a great help indeed!

I'm trying to stay really organized with a "week-at-a-glance" calendar for our fridge that I typed up for everybody. I also make lunches the night before, as well as set things out that we will need the next day. I also am committed to cooking dinner by 5:00, so we can get that out of the way for any evening activities, and we're less prone to order pizza or eat out. Once I start studying, I'm sure we'll have to eat out a little more, but I'm going to try hard to cook. I went through all of my cookbooks for easy meals, and made menus good for a whole month. Then, I split it up into two week blocks, and made shopping lists for each two week block. Every two weeks, I will do a big Wal-Mart run, and all I have to do is print out my list! I'll still have to visit the store every week to get milk and fresh fruit, but no big shopping. I'm even going to see if I can get Joe to try out some cooking!

I start my actual classes on the 22nd, so it's nice to have a little breather before the hard work begins. It's also nice, because our weather has been so AWESOMELY warm and sunny!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's Here

It's here. On Monday, I start the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program.

I am getting nervous. Nervous about the amount of studying there will be. Nervous if I can handle it. Nervous if I'll be able to be as good at this job as I want to be. Nervous if I can get the financial aid/loans to pay for everything. Nervous about the effects of my schooling on my family life. Nervous about the people I'm going to spend the next two years with.

On the other hand, I'm getting excited. Excited to learn about the human body and pathologies. Excited at the prospect of becoming a valuable member of a medical team and helping people. Excited for the sense of accomplishment I already have for getting this far, and for how great I know I'm going to feel when I finish. Excited to have an education under my belt, that will allow me to earn a meaningful income for my family. Excited about the people I'm going to spend the next two years with. Excited to wear scrubs! :)

It's here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Meet the Teacher Day

Today was "Meet the Teacher Day" at Ben's school - the day before the first day. I always enjoy observing Ben in new situations. I might venture to say he is a "slow to warm up" kind of guy. He grasped my hand tightly as we walked into his new classroom. I could tell he was a little tense. I could really tell, when he was given a list of instructions created by the teachers. It was sort of a checklist, with things to do, such as "put away your school supplies in your desk," and go check out some things in the room, etc. Ben was taking a VERY long time to accomplish this, plus he wasn't understanding everything he was reading, and seemed flustered. It was unusual for him to be this way, but I think he had anticipated this day for a couple of days now and the excitement was too much. Plus, old friends kept coming into the room and distracting him because he wanted to talk with them. His teacher commented that he was taking awhile to finish his checklist. And, it seemed like she jotted something down when he did finish. I thought, "Dang! I hope this wasn't some kind of assessment, because this isn't usually how Ben behaves."

Afterwards, Ben was quite intent on visiting his old, first grade classroom. He repeated several times that he wanted to go there. When he peeked in, there was a new teacher in there and a whole new setup. I could see that this was curious to him, possibly even bothered him. On the way home, I asked him if he was sad Mrs. Kirk wasn't there. He half-heartedly said "no." I asked him if he expected to see Mrs. Kirk when he looked in the classroom. He said softly, "yes." I knew it. I think he wanted everything to be the same, even though he was starting second grade. He thought for awhile and said something like, "I think that second grade is pretty much going to be a lot like first grade." I think he was dealing with the change internally, weighing everything out and figured out that it's going to be OK.

I love that.

Sarah Palin's daughter

When reports first came out regarding Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter, I wasn't embarrassed for their family. I didn't think less of their family. I didn't think less of Sarah Palin. I didn't think less of John McCain for picking Sarah Palin. In fact, I didn't understand how it had anything to do with Sarah Palin as a future vice-president or with John McCain as a future president.

What IS embarassing is the way the media and the Democratic party is handling the fact that her daughter is pregnant and not married. MY 17-year-old daughter, who was watching the news with me, couldn't believe how it must possibly feel to BE Bristol Palin and have that very personal information splashed ALL over the United States. It's shameful. I might go so far as to say that it seems almost criminal to do what they are doing.

The media and the Democratic party should be ASHAMED of themselves, and smart people in this country should think again about voting for someone who comes from a party who would attack a young girl in order to bring down her mother and John McCain.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Out of Commission

I received my Td (Tetanus) Booster on Wednesday. When I got in my car to leave, my arm started hurting really bad. By bedtime, my body started to feel slightly chilled and achy. The next morning, my body was still hurting, and once I got up and around, I was out of commission. I took a super hot shower to try and get my joint pain to relax a little. I bundled myself up and headed for the couch. I felt SO crappy, I was in tears. It took my doctor's office FIVE HOURS to call me back after calling TWICE. I finally took some Tylenol. In the meantime, I called the 24 hour nurseline of my insurance company. She suggested I take Tylenol or Advil. Duh. She was actually the most helpful out of everyone I spoke with. I asked her about delaying my Hepatitis B shot, and she agreed with me that I should wait 1-2 weeks. It just felt nice to hear some empathy at the other end of the phone....

On Friday, I had to go into the lab to have my TB titer "read," since I received that little injection, too. Afterwards, I went upstairs to talk to my doc's staff about delaying my Hepatitis B series due to my immune response to the Tetanus. I don't think my doctor had even received a message about what was happening to me, because they left him a message. I never did hear from him - but his nurse, who basically told me the same stuff I had already been told, and took a little more detailed report on my reaction. I was told it was an "uncommon" immune response, but not necessarily and adverse reaction, and I should be fine. She said I should not expect to have the same response to the Hepatitis B vaccine, but as a preventative measure, I should take 500 mg of Tylenol beforehand.

Fine? I've never felt the way in my entire life! I'm really concerned about my immune system. I am not comforted in the least right now....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Powerful

Baptists vs. Pentecostals? What's the Deal?

So, what's the deal between Baptists and Pentecostals/Charismatics? Why is it that these two groups allow the non-essentials (non-essentials to salvation, that is) to divide them?

I grew up in a conservative, Baptist church. Certain "things" that Pentecostals did, were basically mocked and considered "evil/of the devil." Raising hands during worship? Forget it. Praying in tongues? ABsolutely NOT.

As a kid, I remember watching African-American church services on TV, and being mesmerized by their enthusiasm in worshipping God. I wanted to worship like that - to fully express my emotion and love toward the Lord with other believers. After all, I LOVED Him! He was my closest Friend since I was about four years old. I WANTED to express my love to Him. Frankly, I found my church growing up to be very BORING. Grab a hymnal. Stand up. Sing a song. Sit down. Yawn....

When I turned 18, I was invited by Joe's mom, to attend a Foursquare church where I lived. Now, having been indoctrinated my entire childhood that charismatic expression and theology was "bad," I was somewhat fearful, yet I had this deep excitement that I was going to find what I had been yearning for. It was explained to me that people raised their hands during worship, and they believed in "speaking in tongues," or a "prayer language." Prayer language? What the heck?! I was cautious, yet oh, so curious. So, my mother-in-law bought me a couple of books on the subject, and I devoured them, while looking up scriptures to compare and see for myself.

Anyway, I went to the Foursquare church service for the first time. It was PACKED. Plus, there were lots of young people. The worship music was personal - words to direct me to God in an intimate expression, with others who felt the same. I watched. I sang. My heart and my spirit were FILLED and MOVED. I loved it. Nobody was "rolling in the aisles," as I had been told. The pastor talked about raising of hands, and that it is Biblical. He made a little joke, and said that it's not a gauge as to how spiritual you are. Meaning, if you raise your hands all of the way up, it's SUPER spiritual, or if you only have you hands down at your hips, you're a little bit spiritual. He just encouraged us to use this expression of worship as a point of surrender to God, and do it as we were comfortable. OK! I liked that!

Well, in the meantime, I read my books. I learned a lot about what the Bible said about "tongues," and realized that this particular subject, while clearly in the Bible, had been glossed over and pretty much ignored in my church growing up. This was interesting to me. Here I grew up with people who loved the Lord and thought this was bad, and now I'm attending a church with people who love the Lord and they don't think this is bad.

I said to the Lord, "Lord, if this is real and there is a way that I can pray that will enhance my prayer life, then I want it. If it's not real, then, You will not have me receive it." I prayed in my bedroom privately. All I can say is, as I focused on Him, surrendered myself to the Lord, and opened my mouth - another language came out. It's something I do as a private prayer time with the Lord - not all the time, but often. From what I know, the private prayer language is something different from the tongues with an interpretation (required) in a corporate setting. Go read Jack Hayford's, "The Beauty of Spiritual Language," or "The Holy Spirit and You" and "Nine O'Clock In The Morning," by Dennis Bennett if you are at all interested in this subject. And, of course, research what the BIBLE says.

I also tried the raising of the hands thing. I started out with my hands at my hips, just turned up a little. I made a decision that I would close my eyes to focus totally on God, and raise my hands to Him as I felt led to. I wanted to make sure that my heart was sincere, and not just going with the flow, and following what other people did. I am still like that to this day. I never want to express myself to him, just because others are doing it, or because of a feeling. I try to focus on the words and my hands raised to Him are like a bodily form of an "Amen!" or an affirming, "Yes, Lord, I believe THAT!" to Him. I am quite focused with it, and I attribute that to my conservative upbringing.

Now, back to my original question: what's the Deal? Here's the thing for me. If people aren't interested in speaking in tongues or raising their hands (I pick those, because they seem to be the biggest dividers), then JUST DON'T DO IT! It makes no difference to your salvation. And, if you interpret the scriptures differently, so that you don't believe these things are of God, you can absolutely believe that!! You are not less of a Christian, and don't let anyone make you feel like that. Like I said, there are some things interpreted in Scripture that are NON-ESSENTIALS. Things that make no difference to your salvation. I have heard that some Pentecostal denominations DO believe that if you don't speak in tongues, you're not saved. But, just like all Baptists churches are not alike, neither are Pentecostal churches. The one I attend does NOT believe that you have to speak in tongues to be saved. Don't lump all Baptists together, and don't lump all Pentecostals together!

That said, I would like some Baptists to stop looking down their noses at some Pentecostals for interpreting Scripture this way, and saying that speaking in tongues and raising hands is bad. I would hope that they're not just saying that because they've been indoctrinated to believe that, but rather, they have actually researched the scriptures for themselves.

I would also like some Pentecostals/Charismatics to stop looking down their noses at some Baptists, who made a decision to reject this thinking. Pentecostals are not "better" or more superior Christians for speaking in tongues or raising their hands during worship. They have interpreted the Bible regarding this subject in a certain way, and choose to have their own style of worship in a church service. If you don't like that style, then find a church with a style that fits yours and let Baptists love the Lord while you love the Lord at the same time.

I would also love it of Baptists and Pentecostals would stop letting these non-essentials divide them, and come together to change their communities for the glory of God. Set aside their interpretive differences (everybody has them on a variety of subjects, anyway), and on occasion, morph into this big force to change the hearts and lives of an entire city where they live.

All of us, whether Baptist or Pentecostal, should STOP the divisive talk between the denominations. I hear it all the time - the subtle little ways one will put down the other. I've heard Baptists say with a condescending tone in their voice, "Oh, you DO realize that they have some different theology, don't you?" Or, Pentecostals will make some inuendo about the local Baptist church's worship style. It really needs to STOP. I've spent years and years in both settings, and I know for a fact that people genuinely love the Lord in each one. Each group cares immensely for the eternal lives of people in their communities. Each group wants to see people in their cities, come into a relationship with God. Each group has awesome youth that are excited about their relationship with God and want to grow. So, just THINK of the potential of joining youth groups on occasion, for a concert or a mission trip or some Christian FUN. Just THINK of the spiritual FORCE of joining together as churches to fight poverty and hunger, or change the climate of a school, or improve living conditions of the poor in their city.

We just need to get over ourselves and stop allowing these things to divide us, so that we can make a difference in our communities. Something to think about: I believe that these divisions are the very things that are turn-offs to the world. Our own behavior might very well be keeping people from coming into a relationship with God.

Finally, I believe there is a ton of false teaching out there. A TON. All you have to do is turn on the TV. We should ALWAYS stand against false teaching, but, just because you see a Pentecostal, false teacher on TV, does not mean that all Pentecostals/Charismatics are like that. And, vice versa. I look at whether or not the church is Bible-believing, and that all of the fundamentals (essentials) to salvation, God, the Trinity, the Bible, etc., are present. The rest is interpretation (and don't we know there are certain things that are left to interpretation in the Bible!), and style. We must take a balanced approach, be conscientious followers of Christ, guard our hearts and minds and test everything against the Word of God and not just rely on what other people say. We shouldn't be so afraid of the differences in the interpretation of scripture on the non-essentials to salvation between Baptists and Pentecostals. I think we should stop freaking out so much about those things, and letting them divide us. Rather, I think we can accept the differences of interpretation the non-essentials, as well as the differences of worship styles.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Car News

Great news about our car! The guy at the autobody shop did some research regarding used replacement parts for our car. Using these parts would bring the price of the repair within range to not total it! Yes! Thank you, Lord!

The doc said Amanda only had muscle strain, and we continued with the Ibuprofen and ice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Surprises

Yesterday, I received the kind of phone call no parent wants to receive:

"Hi. I am here with your daughter and we've been in an accident - she pulled out in front of me. No one is hurt, but if I call the police, she will probably get a ticket, so what would you like to do?"

Me: "Uhhh....No, I'll be there in 10 minutes."

I went into "solve the problem mode," as I usually do and sped to be with my daughter. As I drove, I thought about the correct response I should have, knowing the significance of this moment for Amanda. I got there, and went straight to her and hugged her. Then, we began to talk about what happened.

The woman involved was extremely gracious and kind. She explained to me that she had called her fire chief husband, and they had agreed not to call the police, in order to protect Amanda from getting a ticket. I thanked her profusely. We then exchanged all of our necessary information, and the woman hugged Amanda as we left. THEN, this sweet lady even called last night to check on her!

The car was OK enough to drive home, so I followed Amanda. I had awakened Joe before I left, so he was waiting at the front door as we drove up. I mouthed "it was her fault" to him, as she had her back turned, and he scrunched up his face as he assessed the damage. He immediately thought the car was going to be totaled.

The update today is, that Amanda is doing OK. I took her to the doctor to get her back and neck pain checked out. It's only muscle strain - praise the Lord. The autobody place called, and informed me that if they run the numbers with new replacement parts, it would exceed the amount allowed, and therefore the car would have to be totaled. However, the guy did some research and found some used parts, which would keep us $500 under the total mark. I said "go for it," so we should have our car back by next Friday. This was an answer to prayer, as we would not be able to replace that car without financing a portion of the cost, which we really can't do right now. So, for our $500 deductible, we'll get our car back restored.

Life is full of surprises. It's comforting to remember that God is never surprised, and he knew ahead of time that Amanda would make this mistake, and in His sovereignty, took care of my daughter, the other woman and our car. Praise Him for his grace and love for us!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Goings On

I recently spent about $460 in ultrasound textbooks! Man - that's a lot of money.

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On Friday, it was my daughter, Melanie's 15th birthday, so my family and I went down to Owen Beach at Pt. Defiance Park. I had such a great time being with my family, laying in the sun on the beach, playing in the water, watching Ben jump over waves, having sea kelp shoved up my swimsuit by Melanie and getting in a water fight. Good stuff...good stuff...Oh YES - and there just happened to be KAYAKS for rent there. SWEET! The girls and I each got a single kayak and out we went for about an hour. Now I know where I can go for a quick kayaking fix!

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Joe and I were invited over to the home of the gal from church, (that I went to lunch with awhile back). She and her husband are employed at our church, so they live in one of the homes the church owns, which was recently renovated. They also just got a new puppy, so they thought these two events would be a good excuse to throw a party. It was a hot day, so the party was held outside. I really like my friend's style. She had these adorable candle lanterns hanging in all of her trees, and she had covered the outdoor tables with brown paper. On the paper, she had written notes. One note said "please don't feed Owen" (her new puppy). The other notes had arrows pointing to the dishes and beverages, stating what they were called. SO CUTE! I notice and love things like this - those special touches hostesses do to make a party special.......She made these wonderful finger foods made from phyllo dough with spinach and cheese inside. MMmmm....

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I'm 38 now. My birthday was last Saturday. The girls got home from camp too late that night (the bus broke down), so we all went out to dinner on Sunday. Olive Garden. My favorite. The kids and Joe gave me cards, a birthday cake, flowers and Lindt dark chocolates. Of course, my kayaking trip was my major gift, but my cute son spent his own money to buy me a purple, hand-held mirror and funky, fingernail file. I love the new mirror, because I had been using a really, old one with a huge crack in it to try to see the back of my hair when I style it. It just touched my heart that he spent his own money (from his cat-sitting and lemonade sales), and he was trying to think about me and what I would need. It's just too sweet. I love that kid.

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It was a great week of being with my family, kayaking TWICE, good socializing and enjoying the summer weather. Tomorrow, I host a small birthday party for Melanie and her friends at our house. She wanted a fire in a firepit, so we found a cheap one at Wal-Mart and I hope that turns out to be fun. She is having a few girlfriends over that she really got to know at camp. I'm really happy she met some new girls, and I hope that they will be an encouragement to her walk with the Lord this coming school year. We got Melanie a new camera for her birthday, so I will post some pics she took of Owen Beach soon....Another part of her birthday gift was redecorating her bedroom (last month), so I will post some pics of that, too. It's really cool.

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This Wednesday, we're going over to Joe's co-worker's home to talk with their family about Whitworth College. Both of their children attend that college, and it is Amanda's top pick. We hope to gain some "insider" information that might help us learn more about admissions. Since Joe and I have not attended college in the traditional way (Joe earned a Bachelor's degree from Embry-Riddle, going to school at night while in the Navy), we really have a lot to learn. I am trying to put most of the responsibility on Amanda's shoulders as far as learning what she needs to learn about applying to colleges, but I know that she needs our help and guidance along this path. I don't want our lack of knowledge to hinder her in any way, so I hope we gain some valuable wisdom from this family.

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I've been thinking about how I can serve at my church with my upcoming schooling. Fear is no longer holding me back - praise the Lord, but I wouldn't mind some prayer on how the Lord would want to use me at church without being too much of a stress while I'm in school. Thanks!

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I appreciate that you have read all of this blog post, with all these blurbs of random things! It has been so HOT here, I haven't felt like sitting here at my computer to type. Now that it's cooled down some, my fingers are flying!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kentridge Reunion Picnic

Today, I decided to go to an unofficial Kentridge reunion picnic for my 20th high school reunion. There weren't as many people as RSVP'd, but enough to have a really, fun time. I was surprised at how much fun I had. It made me wish that I had attended the reunion last night. I think the thing that surprised me was how everyone was so eager to talk with everyone else! It was really fun learning about what the people had done the last 20 years, and remembering a few fun things from Kentridge High School. Someone pulled out a yearbook, and we started flipping through it, and asking about this person and that. Some of the people were WAY cooler than they were in high school (I hope I am, too), and I wanted to get to know them more! One gal recently moved to our town and has boys my son's age, so we're going to get together. I even saw an old boyfriend from 9th grade - haha! My girls thought that was pretty funny, and even funnier to me, was when they thought he was hot. HAHA! Most of all, I loved the fact that everyone at the picnic was beyond high school behavior, and really wanted to have a great time socializing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heavenly

I have one word to describe my kayaking trip: heavenly. The weather was absolutely perfect. I wasn't cold once. Even with wet feet. In fact, it was so warm, we waded around during our lunch break. My cottony, long-sleeved Under Armour shirt was perfect - it kept me protected from the sun and wicked away moisture. The only downside to our trip: no whales. The guide went on and on about how he had this amazing experience with the whales the day before, so I had my hopes up to see some. Nope. We saw some Dall's porpoises, a seal and a couple of bald eagles. The porpoises were close enough to see their colors and hear them shoot air through their blowholes - kinda cool. It was just fun being out there doing something I've always wanted to do! We learned some new things, and I even ate some kelp. I totally want my own kayak now. Really bad.

Me with my coffee on the ferry to Friday Harbor. Look at the gorgeous surroundings outside! I love living here (in the summers - haha)!
Joe had the camera behind me in our tandem kayak. We were just passing what's called "Lime Kiln." Back in the early 1900's, the whole island was clear cut for fuel for this huge kiln that produced concrete. It has since grown back, but all of the wildlife was lost. It's pretty much rabbits, birds and foxes. The rabbits and foxes are not native.
Here is a lighthouse we passed by...
Our lunchbreak (PowerBar, trail mix and fruit break for us!) Whew - it was good to rest the old arms and pee....
Joe's self-portrait during our time of floating around as a group to wait for some whales.
After our trip, we took at taxi to a B&B on the island. We were SO tired, we showered, watched a little of the Olympics and fell asleep. Hard. What a great day!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kayaking tomorrow

So, my dumb water shoes didn't arrive in time. We had to go out this evening and find some more. I found some pink and black Speedo ones that aren't too bad. I also got some sporty capris that will keep me a little bit waterproofed from water spray, as well as a long-sleeved Under Armor t-shirt to keep me drier, too. We found Joe some cheap water shoes, too.

You can tell the differences between my husband and I, as we get ready for this kayaking trip. I have read all the pertinent information on the website - my husband has read zero. I want to talk about the recommended list of items, such as gloves and he doesn't thing he needs gloves. I told him about the specific list of their recommended items - he says he'll read it tonight (we leave in the morning). I printed him the list. I also printed the ferry schedule, and the important information about where to meet the guides when we get off the ferry.

I think I'm a planner and a preparer. My husband would rather think about the fun and just doing it, rather than planning ahead of time. I, on the other hand, want to plan everything out, so that I can just relax and enjoy my trip, rather than being bummed for having forgotten something important. If I know I've thought of all the details and prepared for them ahead of time, it makes feel better. He feels better NOT thinking about these things.

When we go camping, I have a handy dandy list of things to bring that I print out ahead of time. I also have a list of camping meals with an accompanying grocery list. He doesn't say much about my lists, but when I leave it out on my kitchen counter, I notice that he is checking things off, so it must be useful to him.

Anyway, we're leaving tomorrow and I will have everything I need and I will have FUN!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hee Hee

I registered for my DMS orientation early start class today.

I also ordered some of my ultrasound books today.

Hee Hee.

I'm excited.

Silent House

This morning, I sit at my computer in a silent house.

My morning started at 7:00AM to get ready to take Amanda down to her symphony audition. At the same time, Joe arrived home to take Melanie (and Amanda's stuff) down to the church to get loaded up to leave for church camp. After he dropped Mel off, he dropped Ben off at soccer Bible day camp. After Amanda's audition, we rushed her to the church to take off for church camp. When we arrived, they had a "bus issue," so the pastor paid for all the kids' breakfasts at a restaurant down the street. I drove Amanda to the restaurant, and here I am.

I will have three hours completely to myself all week. Ahhhhh.....a mother's dream come true....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Recent Reading

I just finished the book, "Joni," by Joni Eareckson Tada. I read it when I was a young teenager, and I actually bought it, hoping my girls would read it.

I ended up reading it myself.

I got a lot out of it this time around, particularly toward the end with some added chapters in her 25th anniversary edition. She shared a lot of her life lessons, including verses to go with them. Here's a few things I honed in on:

1. Suffering is a part of life. Paul said "rejoice in suffering." James said "welcome trials as friends." Peter said "do not think it strange in the testing of your faith." Romans 5:3-5 says: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment......"

2. God never places any real emphasis on the present - except as preparation for the future...the only thing we can take to Heaven with us is our character.

3. Circumstances in my life have been placed for the purpose of cultivating my character and conforming me to reflect Christlike qualities.

4. Wisdom is trusting God, not asking "Why God?" Relaxed in His will, I know He is in control.

If you're not familiar with the story, it is a true story about Joni's accident and subsequent paralysis from the neck down. It is also a story about how God worked in her life to bring her into an authentic relationship with Him, how He shaped her character and ultimately used her paralysis for His glory. I think it is a must-have book for any home library....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Last night, I found myself taking my girls and one of their friends to Borders, for the midnight release of Stephanie Meyer's book, "Breaking Dawn." I was pretty tired, but once I got there, all of the books and all of the energy woke me up! There were a couple hundred of people there! Most of them had come earlier in the day to get a numbered bracelet, which secured their space in line for their midnight purchase. There were also festivities going on since 9:30 PM that night. I thought it was pretty funny that some people came dressed up as some of the vampire characters - even a bride! I enjoyed myself browsing through the books while my kids stood in line. It was so nice to just peruse without any destination or timeframe whatsoever. I found a cool cookbook called "Country Italian Cooking" on the bargain table, and then I brought my 30% off coupon for a book by Dr. Henry Cloud entitled "9 Things You Simply Must Do." He's my favorite author, and this is a book I've wanted to read for awhile.

When they started rolling the boxes of books out on dollies, girls started screaming and cheering. It was HILARIOUS. The line stretched all the way around the perimeter of the store and out the front. Then, the time hit 12:01 - more screaming. The line started moving. The cashiers were moving as quickly as they could. Amanda was sort of in the middle of the LONG line, but once the cashiers got going, it moved pretty quickly. I used my Borders card, and they got 40% off their books! People (mostly girls) were hugging their books. Some girls had asked for the cardboard boxes the books came in, and were lovingly carrying those. Kids were sitting down on the sidewalk, outside in front of the store, already reading their books.

I was sort of amazed that there was this much excitement for a book! But, the author is from our area, and describes some places and towns we are familiar with. "Twilight" was the first in the series of books that will soon be made into a movie, so there's a lot of buzz about that, too. The second book was "Eclipse." I don't know - my girls think I should read them. I'm not sure if I would like them, but maybe I'll try it......