Friday, September 29, 2006

Blonde Moment

"Mama...Mama...Mama..." My 5-year-old's whisper slowly brought me up from the depths of sleep. What time I wasn't sure...Definitely past midnight, pitch dark.

"What, baby?"

"I'm going to the bathroom to get a drink. I just wanted to tell you so I wouldn't go in there and wake you up."

Bible Study Help

This quarter my Sunday school class has abandoned packaged Sunday school literature in favor of the study of Philippians. This information from Intervarsity has been a tremendous help in crafting an engaging study and helping us learn together.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

On Not Posting

I hear that if you want to build or maintain blog readership you should post at least three times per week. Well, in that case, this week was a wash. I was out of town for a few days, and spent the rest of the week trying to catch up from our break. Sometimes the work generated by "vacation" rivals the supposed R&R. It was still fun though, and finally I'm back to "normal" status, which does not in any way equal "on top of things". And forgive all the quotation marks. I know it's very bad style, but I'm a bit rushed and not too coherent tonight.

Better posting soon! Don't go away!


My sis has a great post up about simplifying. Check it out.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Crafty Mama

I’m a busy mama. Once upon a time, before I got married and had babies I was also an avid crafter. One of the things I’ve missed most since becoming a mom is having time to craft.

For a long time I didn’t make anything. Then I decided that I’d simply have to adjust my expectations. I don’t expect to be as prolific as I used to be, nor do I expect to have the large blocks of craft time I used to have. I also enjoy the process rather than feeling discontent until I have the finished product in hand. But the most effective way I’ve found for a creative outlet on little time is just to choose very simple crafts. If I begin a knitting project that takes a lot of counting and concentration, I might as well forget it. Detailed sewing will probably never get started. Scrapbooking—well, I gave most of my scrapbook supplies away still in the package.

Here are a few ideas for simple, easy crafts for busy people like me.

One-hour skirts. Any simple a-line skirt can be cut and sewn in just a few small blocks of time. Embellish with a few buttons or embroidery to make it look like you went to a lot of effort!

Knitted rectangular shawl.
I started my “hurricane shawl” during Katrina, which coincided with our personal storm, Billy’s emergency surgery and consequent week-long hospital stay. It’s still not quite done, although a serious knitter could probably have finished it in a week or two. But it’s been therapeutic to make something beautiful with my hands during difficult days. I just got three big balls of chenille yarn, cast on 70 stitches with size 10’s (I think) and knitted in stockinette stitch strips of varying width. When it’s long enough and I bind off, it will be done. This has been a super easy and fulfilling project, and I’m looking forward to wrapping up in the shawl on chilly mornings.

Knitted scarves. Same idea as the shawl above. Just straight knitting till it’s as long as you like it. Fleece scarves are also easy and make great gifts.

Little girls’ purses. I knitted mine, but they could be sewn as well. Basically you just need a rectangular shape, fold in half, and sew up the sides. Tack on a length of ribbon for a handle, and add some kind of embellishment like bows or buttons. Voila! So easy. These are really cute made with fuzzy yarn.

Doll quilts. A few small squares, a bit of backing, and some scrap yarn to tie it off. This project takes no time, and little girls love it. I made doll pillows to match.

Simple cards. The possibilities are endless. I’ve made Christmas cards for the past two years. Year one was big angel stickers with hand lettering. It sounds cheesy but turned out really cute. I got a lot of compliments. I think neatness and color choices were the key.

Year two, I stamped a green paint triangle with an unused kitchen sponge cut to shape, and added a star on top with glitter glue. This was really fast since I set it up assembly line style.

This year I’m using black cardstock with silver stars cut from thin dollar store wrapping paper. A few geometric shapes in red, green, or blue, and a silver gel pen, and there you have it. I don’t worry about fancy edges or lots of layers and embellishments. Another easy note card idea is a plain card with a smaller bit of cardstock on the front in a contrasting or complimentary color. Rubber stamp a small image on the cardstock, or print a single word in lower-case letters, such as “love” “fun” or “happy”.

These cards are all a bit austere and understated, but classy, easy, cheap, and quick. Plus, everyone loves to receive a homemade card.

So let me encourage you that even if you are busy, you can take a few moments every now and then to be creative. It just takes a bit of thinking outside the box and using what you have in your hand. Crafty mamas of the world unite!

Choose Joy

Pain, suffering, and tragedy are part of life in a sin-broken world. A measure of our growth into healthy people is learning how not to be swept away and consumed by the brokenness. And, I’m convinced, part of the way we learn to face a world so filled with hurt is to not give it center place in our lives.

Will there be pain, our own and that of others? Will there be wars? Will their be tragedies on our street and around the world? Will there be abuse? Will there be suffering? Of course. God walks with us through those valleys of the shadow of death when they touch us personally, and we must bear one another’s burdens as well. Walking alongside the wounded, offering a hand to the downtrodden and pulling them out of the pit, this is part of the joy of a Christian life. Hurt can make us stronger. Growth means pain. It’s all part of life.

But will we let all this dysfunction be the focal point?

We should, the Bible says, think on the good, beautiful, and true. The fruit that should grow on the Christ-follower’s tree include joy and peace. Jesus has overcome the world, and made us overcomers alongside Him. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He has given us a beautiful world to steward, a world that’s bathed in His grace.

Dysfunction used to be the focal point of my life. I read tragic stories, watched sad movies, and listened raptly to the news. I immersed myself in the details of suffering of people all over the world. It all seemed so touching, so important, so responsible.

As a pastor’s wife my family deals the currency of suffering daily. Not our own, most of the time. And we don’t mind. In fact, it’s our joy to bring the healing salve of Christ the broken and hurting. But I discovered that purposefully adding more sadness to the mix simply made my burden too much to bear. One’s mind, it seems, can only absorb so much tragedy without sinking into an abyss that’s difficult to climb out of.

So I’ve had to learn to do two things. One is to handle the pain without letting it overwhelm. The other is to shield myself from unnecessary negative information.

Some might accuse me of hiding my head in the sand, of not being a realist, of not pulling my share of the load. Well, all I can say is that I have to be faithful in the realm God has placed me in and trust that He’ll put others in other realms, because I can’t do it all.

I don’t watch the news. I read the headlines (rarely the full story), and on difficult days I even skip that. I almost never read stories of death, tragedy, and suffering, even if ultimately courage and character win. I steer clear of tragic movies, of tales filled with conflict and hardship, even when they have a happy ending. I’ll be honest: If I’m hankering for a story of God’s help in the midst of suffering, I can pick up the phone and call any one of a dozen friends from my church. I don’t read blogs or message boards that tear others down. I’ve even avoided one or two on my blog roll lately, because I just can’t take the negative tone and the absorption with war and abuse. I avoid critical people. Even during times of world-shaking tragedy, I try to be careful what kinds of negative stories and images I allow into my mind.

I vote. I try to keep a general idea of what’s going on in the world without having to know too many sordid details. If I know of a bridge out ahead I’ll jump up and down and trumpet a warning, but I’m not an activist. I’ll go anywhere and do anything for Jesus. My heart cries for those who suffer around the world, and I do what I can to help, but it’s not a consuming focus. I’m not avoiding reality. I get a healthy dose of that every day. It’s my joy to serve the hurting, but I don’t feel compelled to take on the burdens of the world at large in addition to my daily portion. It’s too heavy, too much.

I think, too, of my little children. I don’t want them to remember a mother who was obsessed with negative things. I don’t want to fill their young minds with sad or scary stories, images, and concepts that they don’t have the maturity to handle. I want life to be a wonderful adventure to them, I want their futures to be something to look forward to, not something to dread. Soon enough they’ll come face to face with the hard things of life without me introducing it to them prematurely.

The thing is that there is so much that’s good, beautiful, and true to focus on. In addition to war, political conflict, physical and moral assaults, pollution, death, and disease, there is reconciliation, creativity, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, healing, birth, growth, life, beauty, sharing, victory. We live in a beautiful world. There are good people, not just bad ones. There are happy lives, not just sad. Plans often come to fruition without problems. Proportionately, though, negative information available far outweighs the good. It’s an uphill battle to protect my mind from an onslaught of negative thoughts and emotions.

I’m not advocating some ostrich-like positive thinking mumbo jumbo. Of course I know that it’s important and unavoidable to sometimes hear about bad things. There are places to get that kind of information when we need it. I’m just not convinced that we need as much of it as we think we do. I’m hear to bear the burdens of others, and if a friend needs a shoulder to cry on, I’m here. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m not going to import sadness just for fun, in this day of limitless information. Reports of evil aren’t front and center in my mind.

Let me encourage you to do the same. Even if your calling carries you to the front lines of battle, don’t let it consume you. Give goodness equal time. Make room for celebration. Read a lighthearted story, take in comedy, listen to uplifting music instead of the news, spend time in encouraging conversation with friends, have fun with your family doing something besides work. If words like heavy, sad, tragic, struggle, and fight crop up frequently in your vocabulary, do a heart check. Look for the good, the beautiful, the true. Focus on the Answer, not the problem, the Life-Giver, not destruction, the Redeemer, not the fallen world, the Healer, not the sickness, the Lover, not hatred, the Prince of Peace, not war, the King of Kings, not politics. And when you come face to face with the darkness caused by sin, don’t give it more attention than it’s due; focus on the Light. Choose Jesus. Choose joy.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Can someone help me understand this beta blogger thing? Seems I can sign in either way with no noticeable differences. So what's the big deal? Am I missing something?

True Religion

I just found out that Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife have adopted three babies from China in addition to their three biological children. Now they have an organization called Shaohannah's Hope which provides adoption information to families interested in adoption, and grants to those who cannot afford an international adoption. Go to this page to view an awesome little video. Those beautiful babies--made me cry!

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:17

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Elizabeth recently:

"Back in old-fashioned days when Daddy was little..."


"Mama, you need some more makeup. Your tired is showing."

Monday, September 11, 2006

I've Been Tagged!

Well, sort of. I’ve been tagged for this meme by all those people who tag their friends and then add, “and you, if you want to do it.” I guess I’m “you.” I’ll say right up front that I have no intention of following the rules of this meme and giving just one book for each category. There are too many good books, and I’m pretty sure the blog police won’t get me. I'm also not going to link all these books.

One Book that changed your life:
It’s 100% impossible to choose just one in this category. The Bible (of course!), Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise and Jessie Wise Bauer, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner, His Needs Her Needs by William Harley, The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian, Husband-Coached Childbirth by William Bradley, Parent Project by William Sears, and I’m sure many more. (And hey, what’s with all the Williams on my list? I’m married to a William and I have a son named William too…Huh.)

I’ll add that blog reading has shaped and changed me as much as any book. Hearing it from the trenches can be enormously challenging and encouraging.

One book that you’ve read more than once: Pilgrim’s Inn and Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge, Wild Geese Flying by Cornelia Meigs, Windy Foot by Frances Frost, the biography of Florence Nightingale, Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle, all the Happy Little Family books, the Little House on the Prairie books, The Well-Trained Mind (Wise and Bauer, mentioned above), and The Charlotte Mason Companion. And the Bible of course.

One book you’d want on a desert island: Willy Whitefeather’s Survival Handbook for Kids and of course the Bible.

One book that made you laugh: All of James Herriot’s veterinary/animal books. He is a riot. And would you believe it, the Bible! God has a great sense of humor, we just miss it sometimes.

One book that made you cry: I can’t remember actually crying while reading a regular book, but Exodus by Leon Uris comes close. The Bible has definitely made me cry, especially hearing the Gospel for the first time again after a long, dry period without it.

One book you wish had never been written: Building Christian Character by Blair Adams and Joel Stein. Actually anything by those authors.

One book you’re currently reading:
Actually not in the middle of anything at the moment, unusual for me. The last book I read was The Charlotte Mason Companion.

One book you’ve been meaning to read: Blue Like Jazz, Curly Girl, Blog, Choose the Life, and others that escape me right now.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Blog Tips

While I'm mentioning Crystal, she has some great blog tips up.

Get Busy, Y'all

I just can't leave this topic alone.

Theology of the Body shares this information from a recent seminar:

Current World Population Demographics:
1 Billion Muslims
14 Million Jews
1.8 Billion Christians

The average Western Muslim family produces 6.4 children.
The average Western Modern Orthodox Jewish family produces 3.23 children.
The average Western Christian family produces 1.82 children.

If the numbers were to remain consistent in one generation:
The legacy of the Western Muslim family is 295 people.
The legacy of the Western Modern Orthodox Jewish family is 151 people.
The legacy of the Western Christian family family is 62 people.

... and if the numbers were to remain consistent over four generations:
The legacy of the Western Muslim family will be 2,588 people.
The legacy of the Western Modern Orthodox Jewish family will be 346 people.
The legacy of the Western Christian family will be 13 people

Hat tip: Crystal , who exhorts us, "Get busy, y'all." I agree, but still laughed out loud!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Beautiful Free Stuff

Clarice of Storybook Woods points out that Lesley, who owns the lovely company Small Meadow Press, has made her beautiful home-notes available in PDF for free. They are really a delight! I'm especially excited about the weekly pages which will be perfect for keeping track of what we do in school. I've been wanting to design a form along this line to use instead of the journal method I've been using, but Lesley's is much prettier than anything I could come up with, so I printed hers instead.

Clarice also points out that the monthly calendar pages and such would be useful even it you don't homeschool. I got all sorts of projects in my head when I saw those!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

...And Another School Turned Home

Home Sweet Home

Churches Turned Homes

New Life for Old Churches

Steeple Chase

Innovative Homes for Large Families

Large Family Logistics blog has a really cool story about a large homeschool family who met their need for a larger home by buying an old school for a little of nothing. Now that is a bigger home! The best part (well, maybe not the best, but close) of this story is that they got the school library with all the books still on the shelves. The gym is a great bonus too.

The mother said:

"I have always said that the perfect home for a large family is either an old church or an old school."

LFL likes the school with a gym idea, but I think that an old church would make a wonderful home. The architecture of some of these old schools is lovely (there's one in our city that I admire every time we pass it), but the sight of an abandoned church building always makes me sad. Whether it disbanded (the saddest thing of all) or outgrew the building (positive), I think it's unfortunate that these lovely old churches rot or get bulldozed. It would be so wonderful to turn a House of God into a house of God, raising a generation for Christ.

Another lower-cost option is a metal building home. Admittedly this is not as aesthetically pleasing as an old church or school, but I believe the outside could be nicely dressed up, and it would be inexpensive. Furthermore, the floor plan options are limitless as long as they fit within the boundaries of your building.

While we still have a small family and hope to stay in our wonderful home and neighborhood for a very long time, these stories and ideas capture my imagination. Such wonderful possibilities for families with lots of children!

I know there are many other options for low-cost large family homes. If you know of more, tell us about it in the comments!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cooking Lessons

When Billy and I got married, I knew how to cook. Really! I could cook…As long as it was tacos, enchiladas, green chili stew, refried beans, quesadillas, homemade salsa, even tortillas from scratch, Mexican meatloaf, and Mexican cornbread! I even made Mexican macaroni and cheese. You name it, I could turn it into a Mexican meal. I could also make homemade bread, chocolate chip cookies, hot dogs and spaghetti. Oh, yeah, and just about any dairy product you can imagine.

OK, I’m being a bit tongue in cheek, but that’s not far from the truth. I grew up on the Mexican border for much of my life, and we ate Mexican food many times a week when I lived at home. Billy graciously ate the many Mexican meals I cooked for him during our courtship. After we married, I found out that while he will eat it and even occasionally wants it, Mexican food is not his favorite. He’s perfectly happy to have Mexican food once a month or less. What’s more, he has to severely limit dairy, which cut out the other half of my expertise.

This presented a problem, since that is what I always gravitated toward when I cooked. Furthermore, I did not know how to make gumbo, crawfish etouffee, boiled shrimp, Cajun red beans and rice, fried chicken, fried catfish with French fries and hush puppies, melt-in-your-mouth roast with purple hull peas and crisp-crusted cornbread baked in a skillet, and other staples of Billy’s diet. For that matter, I hadn't even tasted most of it. When you’ve grown up with that kind of cooking, someone who’s known for a mean bean burrito just can’t cook. And the truth of the matter is that Mexican food or no Mexican food, I married a guy who can out-cook me by a long way!

At first it hurt my feelings a little that my specialties weren’t on his list of wants and that I apparently “couldn’t cook”. Then I figured I’d better learn. Probably my only saving grace is that a friend had already introduced me to Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning which is as common on the table as salt and pepper and is eaten on everything but dessert (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not the secret ingredient in some sweets as well). This is a skill that’s taking a good while, and there are still a lot of things on that list that I don’t yet know how to make. But learning how to make the kind of food Billy loves has become a joy. I can make red beans and rice and a few other key recipes any day of the week, and each year my skills grow. Watching my mother-in-law and other women here cook these foods so effortlessly, I realize that this knowledge is an art, a legacy passed from generation to generation like Grandma’s china, precious and easily lost. Already no one remembers how to make the legendary biscuits. Fortunately other soul foods are not so easily turned into convenience items, and the only option for their survival is the ritual of mothers teaching their daughters (and sons) how to create these one-of-a-kind masterpieces, with many ingredients and much time.

When bad weather threatens, Billy always goes to the store and buys what we need to make gumbo or his famous red beef stew. All afternoon we chop, simmer, and taste while storm clouds gather, and even if we get iced in (never snows here), we have quantities of good comfort food to eat. Last time, he brought the ingredients home and left me to make gumbo myself. Quite a vote of confidence. Or maybe it was a test!

I spent a couple hours cooking and de-boning chicken, slicing sausage, and chopping huge quantities of onions, peppers, and celery. I pulled out a Cajun cookbook and refreshed my memory on how to make roux. I melted the butter in my heavy cast-iron skillet and slowly stirred in flour. I continued to stir it over a low heat until it began to brown, and then continued as it grew darker and darker. I felt a little breathless…waiting…watching for that fine line between dark brown and burnt.

Billy came in just as I finished the roux. “How does this look?” I asked, really not sure at all if I had done it right. He looked and stirred. “Perfect,” he said. “As good as any I’ve ever made.”

I smiled. I passed. I can cook.

Family Update…Long Time Coming!

I realize that I haven’t posted much family stuff here lately. So much has been going on and I’ve had so much on my mind that my poor blog has been neglected, along with a lot of other writing I’d love to be doing. But life’s good.

I also haven’t posted a “lifestyle change” update. Actually I forgot the past few weeks. It’s going pretty well though. I’m finally getting portion sizes in perspective and I’ve been too busy to snack too much. I (finally) broke through the 5 lb. mental block weight point that I really wanted too. As long as I was yo-yoing up and down at the same basic weight I was believing those little lies, “I can’t lose weight.” “I have a slow metabolism.” “Losing weight has always been hard for me.” Etc. Etc. Now that my thyroid is straightened out it comes back to the same simple formula that works for all healthy people: calories in, calories out. There’s nothing magic about it. I haven’t been able to exercise like I’d like, but I’ve been losing enough sleep that I think it’s making up the difference, at least in calories burned! :)

We’ve been busy with Elizabeth’s first grade school year. It’s been going very well. Again, I’m delighted with the Well Trained Mind approach, and I find that their recommendations for notebooks and so forth keep everything very easy to keep track of.

I’m also, for the first time, successfully using a flexible schedule. I’ve always said that we were too spontaneous to be a schedule family, but school is one thing that neither one of us is willing to neglect—so at least on school days, a schedule is working quite well. I really love the attitude communicated on Large Family Logistics that our days won’t go as planned and we should welcome God’s interruptions to our day. The schedule is simply a guide to help keep us on track. I’m not rigid about it, but I do try to keep it in mind as much as possible. I’ve accomplished a lot this week, and after busting my you-know-what to stay on track, I can assure you that I delighted in the Sabbath! I do have to figure out how to go to bed earlier though. I’m a walking zombie, going to bed very late and getting up early. But I’ve been a productive zombie, and that weight lost, well, it makes some of those tears of exhaustion worth it!

Elizabeth is making great progress academically and in many other ways, not the least of which is spiritually. She was baptized a few weeks ago, and never had a nervous moment. I was so proud of her. She is a completely changed child compared to how she was before she decided to commit her whole self to following Jesus, and honestly, I think she has a good understanding of what that means. Those of you who have known her all her life can appreciate the fact that we see drastic positive change. It’s a God thing, without question. She’s a joy to be with these days, my little helper around the house, and a mama hen to the little ones.

If I were inclined to neglect Silas’ preschool work, I wouldn’t have to be concerned because he holds my feet to the fire to “play school” with him daily. He listens in on Elizabeth’s history and science, and we’ve had Leif Erikson make-believe going on around here ever since the first day of school. He’s a cowboy, a soldier, and other rugged characters basically all day long. He claims to be a little boy or a big boy depending on what he wants to do. If he wants help with something he will say in his best cute 3-year-old voice, “Help me, Mama. I’m a little boy!” But if he wants to do something we’re hesitant about he assures us, “I’m a big boy!” If we call his hand on it, he says, “I was a little boy, now I’m a big boy!”

Speaking of big and little, Sarah has changed from a baby into a toddler overnight it seems. I don’t have a baby anymore. She is one of the threesome and does everything the older ones do. She’s saying more and more words. Her favorites right now are “shoes” (so she can go outside) and “eat” (another favorite activity, evidenced by her chunky little self!). She’s still a Mama’s girl, but she can do more and more on her own and she has growing aversion to baby stuff. She wants the real thing. She adores Billy and she’s always waving at him, blowing him kisses, and saying, “Hey, Da!” Today she fell off her little riding tractor and skinned her face from cheek to forehead. She looks pretty rough, but she’s not feeling sorry for herself even though I’m sure it’s tender. Interesting, Elizabeth took a similar spill at this same age with similar battle scars…No permanent damage though.

So in updating all the kid stuff, you can see what I’ve been up to. Billy is still working hard to finish his doctorate, so that consumes most of his spare time. He always takes time to spend with us though, no matter how busy he is. I know the kids will remember that always, and heaven knows I feel grateful that he makes that choice. I always say that I’m the stick-in-the-mud, party pooper parent—you know, the one who worries about bedtimes and makes sure we don’t eat too many hot dogs and frets that the microwave is frying our brains--and Billy is the fun, spontaneous parent who is always ready to try new things. Well, opposites attract for a reason, and I know that while my schedule and food-police ways have merit, having a daddy/husband who is fun-loving and who takes us on outrageous adventures will be what memories are made of. We’re way blessed! There’s never a dull moment at our house! :)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Not a Cowgirl

My dad grew up riding horses in cowboy country. My mom spent summers with her grandparents. Her grandpa rode the Arizona-Mexico border checking cows for hoof and mouth disease. I was born in the rugged West where cowboy hats and wranglers are the uniform and rodeos the entertainment. Working cowboys were our close friends and my dad roped every weekend when I was a baby.

Gradually, the cowboy life faded from our family. My dad quit roping and then we shifted to an agrarian lifestyle with cowboy memories only a distant dream. Ball caps replaced cowboy hats and Redwing work boots took over for Justins. We had one lame old horse that no one could ride.

We moved to East Texas and bought a good-sized homestead. Our hobby farm life was a sweet one, but virtually untouched by any vestige of cowboyism. Agrarianism is where I was formed, where I grew up and married a preacher and moved far away, deeper into the South.

Something happened right after I left, and I don’t even know what caused it. My parents went back to their cowboy roots with a vengeance. My sister married a cowboy and my brothers started to rope and ranch instead of training draft horses. Before I knew it my folks had joined a cowboy church and my baby sister was in rodeo and had the big belt buckle to prove it.

In the whole scheme of a life, they only took a few years off from cowboying. But for me, it was most of my life at home. I’m the gap child, the one who grew up and left without cowboy influence only to have it return later.

Who. Are. These. People. I say it jokingly, but with a touch of seriousness. They are at home in the culture they left for only a few years, but to me it’s virtually foreign, to my husband and children, even more so. It was a crazy feeling to feel a bit out of place at my parents’ home with a gathering of their friends because I was the only one in a skirt! (Those of you who know my family will understand this even more.) Farmers I understand. Cowboys, not so much. I like them. I respect them. I find their way of life appealing. But it’s something I know nothing about.

Of course I love my family and I’m as close to them as ever. But I'll never belong in this facet of their culture. That’s OK. It’s part of the transition of growth and change as each of us finds a new way of life in the new family structure. There are parts of my life that they will never understand either, and it would be silly to think otherwise. It’s just a little surreal. Different. Strange. I see their life as a continuous whole except for a gap that is most of my growing up. Something everyone else belongs to but me, the odd one. It’s like being on the outside looking in, admiring what’s on the other side of the glass, but not part of it.


To my sister, brother-in-law, and little nephew Ethan in the birth of their new baby boy Philip. My sis has always been energetic and efficient. Her births are no exception. She has babies in less than two hours!!! I can hardly wait to get my hands on this cute little guy. God is good.