Saturday, July 10, 2010

Random procrastination.

It is Saturday. So far I have finished slicing and drying 29 of the 30 mangoes I bought last week. Played half of a Go Fish game. And played "Do you have a match? No I do not." That last game was created by my 4-year old. And just in case you didn't know, the only game more torturous than Chutes and Ladders is a game created by a child under the age of 10. But I'm a good mommy (sometimes) and so I endured. For about 10 minutes.

Sometimes I think about how much I look forward to playing games with Karis that are slightly mind stimulating. But I know that all too soon I will miss the days of Queen Frostine and Granma Nut. Just like I miss the days of sleep deprivation because it meant I got to hold a chubby baby on a daily basis. And I miss the days of cleaning up tupperwar. And then the days of Baby Einstein and The Donut Man. And then the days of...well, you get the point. 

There are phone calls to make, laundry to do and work to be done at "the other" house yet here I sit, posting on my blog.

So I must find something, anything to write about today.


Oh, I know.

We got to hold a baby skunk! Really...he was so cute.

That really is a baby skunk. My friend found him abandoned on the side of the road (dying?) and cared for him for the weekend 'til an animal rescue opened up on Monday. They took him to raise and release back into the wild. I learned quite a bit about skunks. Like, they actually make great pets if you invest enough time when they're little to train them.

Ok....what now....

Oh. Yeah. We got out countertops installed (is that not one word? There is a red squiggly line underneath it but I really feel it should be one word and so leave it I shall). We ended up going with solid surface since we got a great deal through a company that a friend used to work for. I am oh-so-excited!

The finished product (though the kitchen still needs painting).

So you have to check out one of my new favorite pictures. At some point I am going to enlarge this one and frame it!

My pyro child.

Alright, so it's been about 15 minutes of procrastination and I can't handle it anymore. I must get something done! And I keep hearing a little voice say "let's play Candy Land....let's play Chutes and Ladders".....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This world is broken. And I want to fix it.

I went to the grocery store yesterday and it broke my heart. This isn't the first time it has happened but for some reason it really hit me this time. Enough to where I aimlessly walked up and down a few aisles because I didn't want to be caught crying in a grocery store.

It began when I pulled up into the parking lot. I must admit that my emotions are a bit out of control these days as the ongoing unsettled-ness begins to wear on me and as summer activities pick up I begin to feel...well, unsettled. And I am so NOT a multi-tasker so the small, daily decisions overwhelm me.

Anyway, back to pulling into the parking lot. As I pulled my swagger wagon into a parking space I saw an elderly man walk out of the grocery store. It wasn't just that he walked slow and hunched over but something in my heart told me that he was in need. In need of what? I don't really know. It was obvious that driving to town and getting groceries was probably a daunting task for him. And by the appearance of his clothes and vehicle I concluded that he probably has financial challenges as well. I sat there with an overwhelming desire to want to help him but not knowing how. What could I do, anyway? I sat in my van, watched him and prayed. "Lord, if there is something I should do, please make that clear." He slowly loaded his groceries into his car, pushed his cart to the side and then slid his cane in before entering himself. I still didn't know what I should/could do. I entered the store and began to pray for him.

What should have taken me 3 minutes to pick up the 2 items I needed took me about 15. I couldn't stop thinking about him. Until I made my way to the register and noticed what I thought to be about a 5 month old baby sitting in a cart in front of me. A baby that was rather unkept and dirty. That probably sounds judgmental. I realize that sometimes kids get dirty and the fact that they aren't picture-perfect in the store doesn't reveal much about parenting (some of the best parents I know don't give a flying zucchini if their kid's hair is fixed, their shoes are on the right feet, etc). However, when a baby that can't even crawl is dirty it makes me wonder. And that is when my mind began to wander from the elderly man to the baby. And then to the baby's parents.

Before we went to Brazil 6 years ago I was miserable here in TN. I felt like I had nothing to offer and I couldn't wait to get out and begin a new adventure. I was bored, lonely and insecure. And if for no other reason I am thankful for the Brazil adventure because there were issues in my life that needed dealing with. Issues that I didn't even realize were there! One, and probably THE main issue was the fact that I was living a completely self-absorbed life. The average onlooker probably wouldn't have seen it that way (I did what I had to  in order to look like a good Christian) but my heart was very self-centered. And living a self-centered life is incredibly dissatisfying.

This is beginning to sound like a confession. Just trying to give some perspective :-)

So after living in a 2nd world country (sometimes 3rd world, depending on where you are)  and seeing what I considered to be a much greater need I thought that finding a ministry here would be difficult. Wrong. I can safely say that I am overwhelmed at the need I see around me. And that here, smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt. Whatever blinders were set before my eyes pre-Brazil days have been removed (at least partially...I am sure as I grow and mature and become more involved I will be more aware of the needs around me). And I am dumbfounded. I see the danger of being spread too thin if I try to fill every need I see.

But this world is broken. And I want to fix it.

I want the man at the grocery store to have whatever physical help he needs to perform necessary tasks. I want there to be somebody in his life that brings a smile to his face. I want him to know Jesus and find that no matter how challenging his life on earth is, that he still has eternity to look forward to and enjoy.

I want the baby in the grocery cart to grow up in the security of a stable family. I want him to have a daily bath. And not because keeping all the dirt off is important but because he will know that he has two parents who love him enough to take care of his physical needs. And I want him to grow up in an environment where it is easy for him to accept Christ's love because he receives it through his mom and dad every day.

I want the single mom who has 5 kids by 5 different men to somehow be able to understand that Christ's love for her is so beyond the non-love she has received her entire life that she can stop trying to find it through the scum bags that father her children. I want her to be surrounded and loved by the church. I want her heart healed and I want her to be able to exemplify that healing to her children who have already experienced much of the pain she had to deal with as a child.

And as burdened as I am for these people I am just as concerned about something else.

May I step up onto a soap box?

Why of course I can...this is my blog and step up I shall :-)

I am concerned and disheartened that so many believers around me seem unconcerned for these people. Why? Why is it SO normal for a young family to spend hours and hours every week transporting their children to and from extracurricular activities but finding a few hours to spend with a hurting family seems out of the question? How can believing young adults spend 99% of their free time playing video games, going to movies and hanging out with their friends and think nothing of it? How can empty-nesters justify spending a majority of their free time playing golf, quilting, gardening, etc, and limit their serving to helping in the nursery every few months? How can we completely ignore the elderly in our lives, pushing that responsibility onto average paid workers who either can't get another job or are settling for an average-low paid job because they actually care?

Our country is broken and I want to fix it.

It isn't true that everybody is the way I described above. It just seems to be the norm. But maybe the burden I feel is clouding my vision. Because I HAVE come into contact with some believers who are genuinely concerned for the hurting people around them. And they are making that effort to step out and help the hurting.

It is now mid-morning and I am feeling inclined to step off my soap box.

And if you're still reading this, thank you. Thank you for letting me vent and thank you for being gracious. Because it really is silly that I have the nerve to step up on a soap box and point out what I think others aren't doing when I myself have spent the past 30 years of doing the same. And because I am at risk for becoming as desensitized to the hurt around me as I was before we lived in Brazil. And because I have other sin/heart-issues thatI need to give over to the Spirit.

At this point I see the hurt but I don't know what to do.

At this point I know that people are broken and only Jesus can fix them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Growing girl, Goats and Garden.

It is bittersweet when your child is old enough to go to VBS! What a fun stage this is and little girl is growing up. I wish I could shrink her into the baby that she was for about 30 minutes everyday and enjoy that part all over again.

Here she is with her cowgirl bandanna that she insists on wearing everyday to VBS. On the ride home each day  I get to hear about what cowgirls do :-)

 The grieving began yesterday when she realized that after today and tomorrow this week of VBS will be over. Never fear, I tell my child. Another friend's church starts their VBS next get to start all over again on Monday! ha. 

The timing of these two weeks of VBS is actually great as things are really coming along with the house! Bob-the-builder arrived from MI again to come dedicate ANOTHER week of his life to help us get this house move-in ready. Wow, we are so thankful! He and Jonathan already started this morning working on the kitchen cabinets. But before I get ahead of myself, here are some recent pictures leading up to this week....

The dry wall is completed. Having dry wall instead of exposed logs has totally transformed the inside of the house!

Now the painting can begin.

Downstairs bath painted.

Guest bedroom, painted.

Fan and track-light installation

Fan and track-light installation complete.

Front wall of Karis' room is built.

Looking into Karis' future room.

My man of danger :-) 

We picked up kitchen cabinets on Monday! The ONLY day we haven't had rain in several weeks.

If you're a part of my facebook world then you are already familiar with the infamous paneling. Even though I got way more votes to paint vs. leave it...well, the man of the house says leave it. And leave it we shall. For now :-)

I'm hoping Karis' choice of "dress-up" clothes isn't an indication of her future clothing choices.

So here's a question for ya. What do you do when you have so many things going on, including a house being remodeled and 5 sets of company arriving within a week, and you just don't know what to do? If you're me then you pack up and head to a goat show for a weekend.

Totally kidding. Ok, no I'm not. I really did. My friend who owns the goats I care for (when she travels) invited me to join her and her husband to a real goat show! How could I pass up such an opportunity?

The adventure began with an almost 4 hour drive down south....

Then setting up "camp" in a barn with hundreds of noisy goats (I can almost guarantee you that you have no idea the type of sounds that can be emitted from the mouths of goats)...

I wasn't quite brave enough to sleep in the open like everybody else so I took my tent, somehow hoping that my snoring would be muffled by the fabric around me. Fortunately I didn't sleep at all so no need to worry about that. 

Morning began with more peculiar sounds (not from my friend's goats but others) and lots of shuffling feet.

Udders had to be checked, fur trimmed, etc, before the show.

First they held the showmanship competitions. This competition is focused on the person showing the goat and not the goat itself. 

Here is a pic of the kid's showmanship competition. They were cute.

And here is my friend receiving one of her many prizes that her Alpine dairy goats brought in.

I just have to warn you that through the summer I will probably, more often than not, include something on my gardens. And this post is no exception.

I think if the rain would stop and give us some more sun then things would grow a bit faster but even still, things aren't looking too bad!

I am super happy about my dill. I LOVE dill. Dill and I are like little kids and ketchup. I want to put it in everything!

Basil is doing nicely as well...if I don't put dill in a recipe I usually put fresh basil :-)

The garden in the back is doing pretty well.

I have to admit I struggle with a bit of what I call NGE (new gardener envy). In my head I know that this is my first garden, that I could spend a lifetime learning and improving my gardening techniques and yet still...I want the perfect garden. And it isn't always easy seeing the awesome gardens around here! But, I say that because the ONE thing that I feel I am succeeding at...the ONE thing that is thriving in my garden is cucumbers! Oh how I love my cucumbers. Seeing those long, green things laying/hanging around just warms my heart!

Here are a few pics of my Japanese cucumbers.

There are a few problem areas as well.

Like Eggplant.

Oh what could the problem be? :-) 

And then I have this one tomato bush. 

Can you tell which one has the issues?

What is up with you, my dear tomato plant?

All of the tomato plants started off around the same size. The rest have grown several feet except for this one which hasn't grown at all. Any ideas? I'm lost on this one. 

We celebrated our 9th anniversary yesterday! Well, we didn't really celebrate as we had too much going on. But we will...eventually! I am very blessed to have such a great husband, that is for sure. 


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Turning 30 and aphid attack.

I'm 30 y'all. I'm 30. Yikes. BIG yikes.

I remember when I was probably 12 and met some kids who had an older sister who was thirty (married and with children). I thought that was just plain crazy and then as I got older and my youngest brother was born when I was 18 I realized...that is going to be me! And my little brother will be 12 when I turn 30. At the time I thought "well, life will basically be over by then so I guess that'll be ok."

Obviously my viewpoint has changed as now I view those who are 40 and 50 as still "young." A few years ago when I was translating for that medical group in Brazil I remember commenting that my previous patient who was 42 appeared to be more like 30. I asked my good friend Kim "don't you think?" and she said ", he looks to be in his forties. I think you're just getting older." And I think she was right.

So as awful as I thought it was going to be turning 30, well, it wasn't so bad. It was actually kind of fun. As I left the house yesterday morning I saw this in my yard....

And then at the first stop sign I saw this....

And then at the next stop sign this....

Then this....

Then this....

and finally this....

I couldn't stop smiling and laughing about it throughout the day. If I had not have known that my sister-in-law was thousands of miles away in an Indian village I would have KNOWN it was her. Jonathan wouldn't tell me for several hours as he loved hearing me beg and take guesses. I never did guess who it was (and never would have). It was one of Jonathan's good friends (mine too but the two of them have been friends for years) who came all the way down Grandview mountain (we're talking a 40 minute drive, folks) at MIDNIGHT to put these signs up. Isn't that so thoughtful? I thought so. 

I also had a good friend take our girls and me out for coffee and hot "chwocolate" that morning. It was fun! 

Then that night my in-laws, hubby, daughter and I went to chatty for an awesome supper at Longhorn. I don't know if the stuffed portabella was better or the humogatroud "chwocolate" cake for dessert! Either way it was yuuuuuuuuuuummy. 

And now I'm 30. 

And what activities do I find fun in my old age? 
Gardening. Oh how I LOVE gardening. I've never loved something so much that I've known so little about. It IS a bit overwhelming but I am soaking up as much information as I can and I'm just diving in. You gotta start somewhere so that's what I did. And I'm having a blast in this process.

My new favorite question to ask someone is now "do you have a garden?" and if the answer is "yes" I follow that up with "tell me all about it!" I've gotten some really good tips and ideas and I've realized that a lot of people know just as little as I do about gardening and yet still attain success (success is a relative term, however).

I've even been able to pass on some tidbits of information myself which makes me feel like an expert gardener.

I am 30, you know.

So this is what my herb garden looks like.....

It has only been planted for a few weeks so still looks rather sparse. But I am excited about everything that's in there! There are three tomato plants in the back, basil, dill, oregano, mint, lavender, stevia, aloe and a few more that I don't even remember the names (gotta love Lowe's clearance's hard to resist an herb that's 99 cents, even if you don't know what it is!)

And here are my vegetable gardens that probably won't get enough sun to produce a ton but....

In there I have 4 more tomato plants, 2 eggplant, several cucumber (2 different varieties), strawberry, banana peppers, bush beans, watermelon, lettuce and zucchini. The last four were all started from seed and seem to be doing well except zucchini. Apparently the soil has been too cold and most people around here aren't having success with zucchini. 

My main desire is to have plenty of tomatoes! Oh how I detest store bought tomatoes. I think I'd rather dye cardboard red, eat that and save the money. So I am trying oh-so-hard to do all I can to help the tomatoes along. 

Because of that I noticed right away when my two heirloom plants had some spots on their bottom leaves! I discovered that the problem was a common one...aphids. 

Ugh, aphids.

But that is where the green bottle comes into play....

Hopefully this concoction of water, garlic, hot sauce and dish soap will take care of my aphid problemo. We shall see.

The only thing that could be nicer about having this garden to work in would be living in the house where it is located. But that will come in time.
Until then, we will enjoy the little things in life. 

Like "chwocolate".....


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I have discovered a great way to test the love of one's friends and family. And that a foreclosed HUD home that needs lots of work without a lot of money to hire the work out. Let me tell you folks, we are so loved. We have had friends come as far as MI to do nothing else but help us in our (ongoing) journey to make our new blessing-of-a-house ready for us to move in. This process is taking much longer than anticipated and although it is a constant struggle to remain patient in this process we are confident that it WAS a gift from the Lord and have no regrets (not sure if our friends and family feel the same way. ha).

This post is going to be L-O-N-G. From here on out I won't have too much text (that is the plan, anyway!) but pictures to sum up our life the past few months. Usually when my dad writes an email he entitles it "Bullets" with a brief description of the 200 activities they have been involved in in the previous weeks leading up to that email. So that will be my style for this post...these are the bullets of our lives from Feb until now....

Bullet numero uno. 

* House - lots of wonderful friends and family have made a huge difference in this sometimes crazy process!

I have huge limitations in what I can do to help but tearing up subflooring is one thing I can do! 

It wasn't planned this way but one Saturday we had lots of friends show up to help! We got all of the pee-soiled (dog) carpet out of the house as well as the downstairs bathroom project started. 

This was only the first of many nights these guys spent on getting the downstairs bathroom finished so that we could have it inspected for our escrow moula. One night they didn't get home 'til after 11pm!

Bob the builder. He came all the way from MI and turned his original 5 day stay (to work on the house) into a week. This man worked from dawn to past dusk every day. He was happy working for fresh goat milk so I kept him supplied :-)

My dad and brother Matt came up to do the kitchen/dining room floor. They were held back a few days we had complications with a rotten beam underneath the floor but they stayed through Easter Sunday (working during the Easter service to finish) and the floor is BEAUTIFUL.

Jonathan's dad has been there helping since day #1. He has been amazing. And today is his birthday. Happy b-day dad!

Paul (from our church) has been helping in a variety of ways but the one thing that we just don't know WHAT we would do without him is in the electrical area. He has saved us SO much time and money by donating his time and wisdom.

Staircase that J's dad and Bob-the-builder closed in.

We had to put furring strips over all of the exposed logs in order to insulate the first floor (the previous owners were paying between $300-400 a month to keep the house heated!). It ended up taking us over 2 weeks to complete this task.

Many of the logs had to be chiseled out to keep the strips straight (so that we don't end up with walls that make you motion sick when you walk in the house!)

Another little helper arrives on the scene.

I need to take this moment to mention my mother in law. Though not pictured on here she has played a pivotal role by keeping the "little helper" occupied while we work hard. Whenever we go to pick Karis up from their house the first thing she says is "I don't want to leave! I want to stay here all the nights and all the days!" Vovo takes such good care of her and does so many fun things during their time together. We'd probably be another month behind if it weren't for her help!

After weeks of waiting the insulation company finally showed up.

This is how the living room, kitchen/dining room and downstairs bedrooms look now. It really lightened it up, didn't it?

Ok, enough of the house for now. We should have more pictures to show later this week.

Bullet numero dois.

Goat sitting. I love my friend's Becky's goats and mini-farm. I can now say with confidence that not only can I milk goats but I can "get foam" which, apparently, is the mark of excellence in goat-milking :-)

Bullet numero tres.

Our Boliva/AZ friends came through again...always fun to have company!

Bullet numero quatro.

I managed to sneak in another Chick-fil-a opening.

There were 400 people at the opening so out of us 4 adults only my cousin Jen and I made it into the raffle. We split the tickets between the four of us!

It's almost like our family reunions end up at Chick-fil-a openings :-)

I got to meet my cousin's cutest-baby-in-the-world for the first time. I love that child.

Perhaps it was partly due to our own sleep deprivation but we had a little fun watching dad sleep. And we documented it.

And my personal fave....

Bullet numero cinco.

We got a van!!! for 1/2 of the blue book value price. Another gift from the One who has provided so many blessings this year.

Bullet numero seis.

Misc family pictures....

Isn't she so grown up?

Selling candles and decoupage pictures at a festival this last weekend (I have NO idea why my hand is on my hip but it's the only picture that J took)...

I had more to say but my munchkin is waiting to jump on the trampoline, I have an elderly friend waiting for us to visit and we get to celebrate my fil's b-day at a Mexican restaurant tonight (wahoo!)



PS. I don't even have time to preview this so please forgive any mistakes and/or typos!