Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Just an FYI

I am going through the slow process of changing my kids' names in all of my posts. If you are confused about which is which, see the "about me" paragraph in my sidebar.

And, since this will require that I republish every post that contains their names, I figured I'd give this heads up to the folks who subscribe to my feed*. I'll still be posting my regular stuff, but also republishing a lot of the old.

*which bloglines is having trouble with anyway!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

You want me to do WHAT?

So, I spent time with my mentor (for the first time) last week.

Thoughts running through my head. So. Many. Thoughts.

By way of background, I should tell you that we don't know a whole lot about each other. We've been in Bible studies together, where we get to listen to the other talk about how God is teaching us through different situations. That's about it.

During our recent time together, we started talking about ministry. Mine, specifically. She asked me a few questions which puzzled me, like "what are you afraid of?" and "why are you getting side tracked by little things instead of doing what you are supposed to be doing?"

I found those questions odd because, as I said, she doesn't really know what I am doing or not doing. So, I asked her, "what am I supposed to be doing?"

Her response, "I don't know."


I wondered if she was giving me a hard time. But then she said something wild. Crazy. Amazing. When I told Paul and Helen (my best friend) about it, they both responded with something akin to "wow."

Here's the "wow:"

After throwing me the puzzling questions, this is what my mentor said, "I am getting a sense that I need to ask you what you are ***ing for God?"

Where I typed *** she said something very specific that several people (Paul and Helen included) have said I "should" do, because they think I am good at it. I've always shrugged it off because I figured that your husband and your friends could be expected to say such things. Not to mention the fact that it seems like there are already plenty of people who do this thing just fine - much better than I, in fact - so I figured I'd leave it to them. It's not that I think I am bad at it - when I give it some serious effort, I am pretty good - it's just that I never thought there was anything worth pursuing in this area.

So, how crazy is it that my mentor, who has never seen nor heard tell of me doing this thing, asks me about it, specifically?

I've been talking with God ever since then. Throwing him little one-liners throughout my day like "what do you want me to DO?" and "who is it for?" and "where do I start?"

And I am just as confused as ever. But Paul and I discussed it again the other night. At length. And I am pretty convinced I need to pursue this. But I am at a total loss as to where or how to begin.

Have I been sufficiently cryptic for you? Mmmm. Believe me when I say that I am more confused than anyone.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Please Pray for Amy

I have been trying to imagine what it would be like to have a doctor tell you that you only have two months left to live. I can't imagine it, of course. Amy has been on my mind and in my prayers these last few days especially. Please say a prayer for her as well.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Because I have no standards...

The other night, I was driving the car when the song Africa by Toto came on the radio. Without even a moment's hesitation, I reached over to turn up the volume while declaring "oh, this is a good song."

And, of course, everyone in my family knows that "oh, this is a good song" actually means "everyone be quiet now so that I can sing along."

Well, everyone but the kids. So, I mean "everyone" in the sense that two out of five people means "everyone."

While I sang, the kids jabbered away, but Paul, sweet man, was silent.

Until the "instrumental break," when I said, "you know, this song never made sense to me."

He laughed while he asked, "but it's a GOOD song. Even though you don't know the words?"

(Yes, I'll wait a moment so you can let that sink in.....)

I know, I KNOW! Can you believe he said that? I almost had to pull the car over and regain my composure.

But don't you worry one little bit because I set him straight. I SET HIM STRAIGHT.

"I know the WORDS," I said, "they just don't make any sense. But this IS a good song. The music, the beat. You just HAVE to sing along with it."

Who can deny this? (But, then again, who can deny that I KNOW THE WORDS?)

But, OH, the lyrics. OH!

Shall we dissect them?

Yes, let's.

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She's coming in 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way

Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say, "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do

So, you're picking up your girl at the airport. Am I right about that? Why are you stopping to ask an old man for words and melodies? And, what? What is waiting there for you? SHE is waiting there for you - because you've been wasting time with some old man and now you're late. You're making the whole next part about "gonna take a lot to drag me away from you" a LOT LESS believeable. A hundred men? Yeah, right! One man seems to have done the trick. GET TO THE AIRPORT, DUDE!

Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

Now, this line would totally make sense to me if the song was about installing a ceiling fan in your bedroom. But, otherwise, I am totally clueless about what you are referring to.

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company

Solitary company? Deep, deep stuff here, buddy. Deep.

I know that I must do what's right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti

How long did it take you to think of this similie in which you liken a mountain to, uh, a mountain? Only, I'm not so sure that Kilimanjaro does rise like Olympus, what with how Kilimanjaro is very nearly 10,000 feet higher and all. I'm thinking maybe comparing it to something that is actually smaller doesn't really convey the full effect of how it rises above the Serengeti. We won't even get into the part about how Olympus is situated in a mountain range, as opposed to old Kili, which is situated in, well, the Serengeti, as you so astutely pointed out, and how the Serengeti, being PLAINS, would produce such a stark contrast that Kili would likely appear even taller.

Or were you making a ridiculous comparison on purpose, as a means of implying that it really isn't a surety at all, in which case you won't be doing "what's right."

By the way, what is right?

I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become

What have you become, other than the aforementioned Rain-Blesser in Africa? And why is that frightening? And what does this have to do with the woman (the one it's "going to take a lot" to drag you away from... even though you seem to have left her behind so that you could go to Africa and now SHE is coming to visit YOU)? And, how did everything turn out with the ceiling fan installation?


Stupid lyrics? You bet! But is it NOT one of the best songs ever? After you find yourself humming this song to yourself all day long, come back here later and I'll tell you "I told you so."

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ultimate Blog Party

Hey! I almost forgot to invite people to the Ultimate Blog Party. Click on the button in the sidebar for all the details. Find some new blogs to read, and maybe some new readers will find yours! Prizes too... now who can resist that?


Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Meme

Shalee tagged me to do this meme. Here goes.

If you had to choose one vice in exclusion of all others, what would it be? After reading this question, my mind went immediately to the seven vices (deadly sins) that I learned about as a child. Of those, I am particularly good at pride and anger, and have done well with sloth also. But as I read the list, trying to figure out which one I would really "want" to choose, I can't say that I'd really LIKE to have license to do any of those. None seems attractive to me.

BUT, since we are building one another up by encouraging our thoughts of unholy behavior, I will say this: There are times when I wish I could cuss without sinning. Seriously. I am not saying that I think cussing is good. I am just being honest about some things that I find difficult. There have been times where it seems like just letting one fly would bring a great deal of relief to me. I don't do it very often, but when I do it is because I am EXTREMELY angry and there are no other words disgusting enough to describe how I feel about a situation.

So, if that is a vice, it's one I struggle with. But FOR THE RECORD: it is not one I would choose.

If you could change one specific thing about the world, what would it be? I'd make the world's economy such that every single person could have a fair-paying, humane job, which provided enough for them to have food, health care, a comfortable living space, and some fun for themselves and their family.

Socialism, anyone?

Name the cartoon character you identify with the most. Here's the thing: I don't identify with any cartoon characters. Maybe that is why I hate watching cartoons so much.

If you could live one day of your life over again, which one would it be? A married mother of three should not be asked to answer such questions. I cannot choose one day, therefore I choose NONE!

If you could go back in history and spend a day with one person, who would it be? Does it have to be a dead person? I'd choose Ms. Bao's birth mom.

What is one thing you lost, sold, or threw away that you wish you had back? I wrote down all the comments people sent me when I e-mailed Bao's referral photos to our friends. I wanted to record all of them in her scrapbook, but I think I threw them away by accident.

What is your one most important contribution to this world? What, like you're not staring right at it?

What is your one hidden talent that nearly no one knows about? I can sing fairly well. I'm not a STRONG singer, but I can hold a tune, so I don't know if it's a talent per se. I do know that the one (and only) time I sang in front of my church, all these people came up to me afterward all incredulous, and were like, "I didn't know you could sing!" I guess they figured if I could sing they would have heard me do it. Needless to say, that ain't how I look at it.

What is your most cherished possession? This is a hard one, because I can't think of many things that would really crush me to have lost. The one thing that comes to mind are the keepsake books I have put together for my kids. Some scrapbooking, some journaling. I do think I'd be upset to lose something like that.

What one person influenced your life the most when growing up? If I told you it was a cartoon character, would you believe me? I don't know that I had a ton of influential people in my life (despite my efforts.) I suppose the ones who influenced me the most would have been my mom and dad.

What word describes you better than any other? Pulchritudinous. No, seriously, I think I'd have to day "reflective" or something like that. Lemme go think about that....


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Tried to Resist

I held off as long as I could. I am now, officially, a user of "New" Blogger, also known as, "What's WRONG with this thing?"

Shalee tagged me for a meme. I logged on so I could post it, but, now I am too curious to see how all this New Blogger Madness has affected my blog. So, while I am investigating, why don't you go read Shalee's meme. Come back later and maybe I'll have something original to say... though it might just be a gripe about the New Blogger. Oh, wait, that wouldn't be original, would it?

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I was driving this evening, on my way to meet a friend at the airport. I had a lot of time to think. And I kept thinking of moments.

In our college days, it seemed like most of the moments Helen and I shared were silly moments. Cartwheels in the front yard of the apartment we shared - putting on a show for our roomates. Costume parties that we enjoyed just a bit too much. Something involving an enema that she repeatedly hid amongst the belongings of unsuspecting roommates.. Oh, my.

Those are certainly dear memories to me, but they are not nearly my fondest.

When I agonized over my decision to marry Paul, which I'd love to say was a no-brainer. But no-brainers aren't so easy for people whose brains always seem to get in the way. Helen asked me "Do you WANT to marry him?" And my answer was "yes." Her simple reply was "that counts." I cannot type those words without tears in my eyes as I remember the amazing grace her two word reply seemed to shower on me.

She was my maid of honor. And the honor, by the way, was all mine.

The time I told her I was pregnant with Lainee. Helen, who seems to have a corner on the joy market, offered what was the most sincere expression of unselfish and unabashed happiness that has ever been directed toward me. It took me by surprise that even she, my best friend, could be that happy for me. That moment cemented in my heart the desire to bless others simply by sharing their happiness. My version always comes out a little more berzerk-o than Helen's, but if you have been blessed by one of my displays of happiness for you, then you have Helen to thank for that.

She traveled with me in October of 2002. Four of "the girls" went out to visit our fifth wheel in Los Angeles. I was five months pregnant and a long way from my doctor. Too bad I had also started spotting. Yes, I called my doctor. Yes, he thought I was okay. Yes, I was still a little concerned. And Helen picked up on that right away, suggesting that we both forego the walk to Santa Monica pier and just sit down somewhere together so I could rest. But without a legitimate reason to do so, I didn't want to rain on the parade. We walked to the pier and we walked to the shops, and everywhere we went, Helen renewed her offer. She knew where an expectant mom's mind goes - even if the doctor has reassured you. Towards the end of the night Helen took the weight of it off of me. She just sat. And she invited me to join her.

The thirtieth birthday present she gave me. A tiny matchbox with a small piece of paper inside. On it, she wrote the thirty things she loves about me. A treasure.

The day each of my children were born. Helen was there. You couldn't stop her if you tried - it's her calling to meet new babies on the DAY THEY ARE BORN.

And when it came time for me to bring my youngest baby home, Helen was there, and would not have missed that homecoming for the world. Frazzled from all the things that would frazzle a mother who has been half way around the world with a baby who wasn't always chipper, I walked down an airport terminal and saw her standing there, waiting to greet us. She didn't presume she could hold Bethany. She was content to watch and say "welcome home." And when she asked how I was doing, I don't know if I fell apart from the exhaustion or from the simple fact that she was there to ask that question. With eyes full of tears, I said, "I am a wreck," at which point Helen could have oinked at me and I'd have thought them the sweetest words I'd ever heard. She hugged me instead. And I hugged back.

Tonight, I actually debated... because it was a long trip and it was late at night (and now early in the morning.) But deep in my heart of hearts I knew that this was going to be another moment. I was not going to miss it.

So, tonight, I stood on the other end of the terminal, and I waited to greet her (and her two new sons) near the end of a long line of others who had come to do the same. First in line, of course, was her daughter - squatting in anticipation as she watched her parents walking toward her holding her two new brothers.

I watched Helen, holding the younger of her sons, as she slowly made her way toward me. Maybe I cried just because everyone else was. Maybe I cried because of how her little one seemed to fit perfectly in her arms. Or, maybe I cried because I know what it's like. The relief over returning to the familiar and the simultaneous fear that everything familiar is about to be turned upside down.

But as I watched her it came as no surprise that, despite her obvious exhaustion, she was, indeed, joyful. Helen's emotional stability, which has always been far more certain than mine, was intact. She was not in need of any pep talks. So when it came my turn to greet her, I simply hugged her and asked, "So, what did you bring back for me?"

After retrieving bags and saying goodbye, I got back in my car for the long trip home. I had a lot of time to think. And I kept thinking of moments - and how I cherish every one.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

From the Mouths of Babes

During our family time this evening, Mr. Bug offered the following tidbit about our family for us to ponder:

If all of us were mice, they could write a book about us.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cheap Dates

I think I am number 50! WOOO HOOO!

The only cheap date I can think of that Paul and I have done is when we would take our Scrabble board or a deck of Skip-Bo cards to a fast food place. Usually Arby's. We'd order something for dessert, then we would just sit there and play a game together for a few hours. People always looked at us like, "how cute." But seriously, it was fun. We had cheap food, decent coffee, and we didn't have any interruptions so we could talk the whole time.

Oddly, this was something we always did BEFORE we got married... so we wouldn't be by ourselves late at night in my apartment... but I don't know why we don't do it now that we REALLY NEED some cheap dates!

Go figure.

For more cheap date ideas, hop on over to Shalee's place!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

Random stuff I'm diggin'. Why not share the love?

Shutterfly. I used them this year for our annual Christmas-yeah-right-more-like-Valentine's-Day photo card. I really liked their options for cards... not the same old, same old. They have some very cool collage cards that I think would be a fantastic way for families to showcase individual children. They offer lots of font options on the cards, and the text is REALLY customizable (meaning, you are not limited to simply writing "Merry Christmas from the Smith Family.") Shutterfly made it easy to create the card and edit the photo just the way I wanted it. I also thought the prices were reasonable. Check out Shutterfly for other stuff as well, like photo gifts, prints, and albums.

My teaching philosophy: "Learn to read. Read to learn." Knowing this, it will not surprise you to learn that I dig kid lit that helps kids learn basic skills. The Math Start books are really cute and teach all manner of math concepts without it feeling like a math book. Ranging from simple counting to time-telling, there is probably a Math Start book suitable for your child.

We have been playing a matching game around here ever since Christmas that is just like Memory, only better! I Never Forget a Face* is a matching game produced by eeboo. The game consists of 24 pairs of sturdy "cards," each with a picture of a girl or boy from around the world. We play this game all the time here with everyone turning over different cards and declaring "Afghanistan, Viet Nam," or some such combination. It is a first step for helping our children develop respect for other cultures. (We're into that around here...) (*That link is to a site that sells eeboo products because I can't get the eeboo homepage to load properly.)

Club Mom. I stumbled upon this a month or two ago. This site has LOTS of stuff for moms... anything mom-related is there... though that wasn't the real draw for me. What intrigued me was the vast array of online merchants offering points for products and gift cards purchased through Club Mom. Points can be redeemed for products in their rewards catalog (some nice stuff in there) or for gift cards. I imagine there are tons of sites just like this out there, but it's all new to me. Club Mom is affiliated with some merchants that I do use online, so it seemed like a no-brainer to start collecting some points by making my purchases through them. (I already have my eye on a Bed Bath and Beyond gift card for when I redocorate my living room.)

This is enough to make even someone like me want to buy jewelry. I love it. Absolutely love it. I knew you would too!

I have been using this can opener for a few months now and I can't say enough good stuff about it. It works SOOO well, and after my last can opener, which I had to fight with every time I put it to use, this is such a welcome change. The Orbi can opener doesn't leave sharp edges on cans, doesn't cause the contents of the can to ooze out, and it is smooth and easy to use. If you need a new can opener, get this one. It may cost a little more than the old fashioned kind, but it's worth it. (And I got mine for only $10, so look around for a good price.)

New American Dream is a site I found a while ago when I was searching the internet for ideas about how we could be more responsible with our spending and our consumption of energy and material goods. This site turned out to offer a whole lot more than I was looking for. It offers a lot of basic information and links for more specifics. Topics include Clean Energy, Simplifying Holidays, Reducing Junk Mail, Socially Responsible Investing, and many others. I found the information about Fair Trade (with links to all sorts of fair trade merchants) and Kids and Commercialism particularly interesting. Go check it out!

This is a picture of Ms. Boo's reading chain. She isn't so into reading, so she needed a little motivation. I knew anything that appealed to her crafty side would be met with her approval. So, each time she reads a book by herself to me or Paul, she gets a new link on the chain. I keep a supply of books I know she can read in a container in the family room. They already have the construction paper taped to them with the title and author written on them. I also keep a stash of plain construction paper pieces handy, so if she wants to read we can put up a new link quickly. She hasn't really read a lot. Like I said, it isn't her favorite thing (hmmm, where did she get that trait?) but I think the chain has motivated her to read more than she would have otherwise. She wants to get the chain to stretch across the family room and into the living room. Hey, at least she has dreams.

True Lime. Love it. I have been trying to drink more water lately, but I don't really like plain water. My neice introduced me to something she found while she was away at college called True Lime. It is crystallized lime juice. I buy it in the little packets to add to my water, though it comes in other packages and has lots of other uses. No calories. No fat. No carbs. No sweeteners. 25% of vitamin C. And, it's yummy! They have a healthy living challenge, which closely resembles what I have been attempting since January. They even offer free samples to leaders of weight loss and other health maintainence groups. How cool is that?

Oh, and this blog. You do NOT want to miss it!

Hope you find something that is useful for you.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

And the Nominees are...

Wednesday is the last day to nominate someone for the First Annual Hidden Treasures Blog Awards.

I haven't been able to spend as much time as I would have liked in the search process. (I wish Leslie's old blog was still in operation because I could have found a few gems there.) Regardless, I found a few that I think are very good. In fact, I didn't have to search very hard because these ladies seem to post things that are consistently good. Some of the posts I selected are far from "Hidden" they are so current. Hidden they may not be, but good they are. All of these bloggers are worth reading daily.

So, here are my nominations. I am posting them because this award is for posts, not overall blogs. Since every blogger has LOTS of posts, it makes it more difficult for one post to get enough nominations to make it to the final three.

What I am saying is, go read these. And if you like them, nominate them by sending an e-mail to

For the category "Children and Family" Leslie's Starting School post.

For the category "Faith" Toni's The One post.

For the category "Motherhood" Toni's Fake Leg post, which is also, I should mention, histerical.

For the category "Homemaking" Milehimama's How to Save on Food post. (She has lots of good homemaking posts.)

For the category "Humor" Toni's Getting Abreast of the Situation post.

Other categories include Marriage, Current Events, and Life.

Now go nominate someone.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Keepin' it Real

My heart hurts.

It hurts in the kind of way that hearts hurt when you don't like what is happening, but you know that God is working things out for your good. You embrace it, all the while wishing you didn't have to.

For as long as I can remember, I have sought out someone to look up to. For various stages of my life, I can name the actual person that I'd singled out. I think it's a security thing. I always sought out a person of character. Someone gentle. Someone wise. A role model. Yet, it wasn't really enough simply to see them modeling their good character. I wanted that person to take me under their wing. Teach me a little, encourage me a little, nurture me a little. I wanted someone like that to care enough about me that they'd devote a part of themselves to me.

Oddly, I think I understood my reasons for wanting this long before I was able to see the actual behavior. God, of course, has seen it all along. He's seen it for what it is. What it is: an obstacle. It keeps me from totally trusting Him for the teaching, encouragement, nurturing, gentleness, and wisdom that I need.

Even as I asked my friend to mentor me, I wondered if the expectations I had of her were too lofty, a little too "needy" on my part. She agreed to do it, but by that time I was onto my pattern, and I braced myself; softened my expectations. My friend has been kind, available, and attuned to my needs. She hasn't fulfilled "the dream," but that's okay. I have realized that my expectations were, indeed, a little too grand. Through that experience, I have heard God say to me, "It's just you and me, Lori. It's just you and me."

Yet just as I began rejoicing over that small victory, I also came to realize that I'd long been holding out hope for someone else. A very specific Someone Else. That Someone Else, however, hasn't shown any interest in taking up that role.

While I've had a long time for that realization to settle in my heart, it's still hard to let go. Lately, some things have been happening which remind me that I'm still holding on. Still holding out hope.

And again, I hear God saying, "Just you and me."

I won't pretend that I like it. Emotional investments always hurt when they don't pan out... even if God can use it for my good.

I am, however, grateful that God doesn't spare me the heartache when He knows that it is for my own good. And I am grateful for a God who is so committed to me that it CAN be just me and him, and still be everything I need.

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