Thursday, August 27, 2009

This post has been relocated to the following page:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mackenzie!

My baby turned 5 years old today.

I'm not quite sure how this happened. Surely it was just a few days ago that I held her in my arms as I got acquainted with her as a newborn baby. Somehow . . . 5 years have flown right on by us in the blink of an eye.

We celebrated in grand style this weekend. Just as we did with her older sister, we welcomed age 5 in with a tea party-complete with china cups and saucers, little treats, beautiful cakes, pretty girls in twirly dresses and Gregg reprising his role as the crazy butler!

No tea party would be complete without a manicure for the
big event . . .

. . . special moments with Daddy, Nanna and Grandma . . .

. . . giggling at that silly butler . . .

and singing and dancing with cousins.

Even Ozzie came to help celebrate the special day!

And the best part of all?

Sharing special days like this with family . . .

It just doesn't get much better than that!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Remembering Sadie . . .

She's been with us longer than The Things. Sadie came into our lives and our hearts twelve years ago this month. As the Lord would have it, she literally ran into our lives one day.

I was at work-downtown on a summer day. Our front door was propped open and customers leisurely wandered in and out of the store. Suddenly, this thin mutt ran in through the door. My boss was a dog owner herself and quickly grabbed a leash from the back office. She set out with the mutt and walked her all over downtown-in hopes that she could reunite the dog with her owner. Long story short, no owner showed up or ever claimed her. We did everything-ran ads in the paper, called the shelter, called the animal hospitals and pet stores in the area. No one ever claimed her.

In the meantime, she and I vehemently agreed that this dog should not go to the shelter during the process of searching for her owner. Instead, I offered to keep her with us-we had an enclosed porch at the time. She could stay on the porch and be safe until she was claimed.

Three weeks later, my boss asked me what we were going to do about this dog.

I guess, as "they" say . . . the rest is history.

Upon adopting her, we took her to the vet, learned that she was somewhere between 1-3 years of age and other than being thin, was relatively healthy. What we later discovered, however, was that this dog had some obvious signs of abuse from whoever had her before that summer day. We began the "deprogramming" process with her-teaching her that anything with a long handle didn't have to result in cowering, hairbrushes weren't weapons and that men weren't out to hurt her. I could only imagine what this dog might have experienced before she came to live with us.

We named her Sadie and became a family of three. A couple of years later, Sadie got her first younger sibling in the form of a small human.

As Cassidy navigated her way through crawling, pulling herself up and walking, Sadie endured days, weeks and months of fur pulling, tail grabbing and falling (from Cassidy) on top of her in the midst of peaceful naps. Just when the young human being had finally turned somewhat "civilized," another small human creature arrived and Sadie patiently endured more years of uncivilized behavior from the newest Thing in the house.

This dog put up with being dressed up in silly costumes, being held captive in bedrooms for pretend camp-outs and tea parties and attempts at ballroom dancing as the girls stood her on hind legs.

She learned how to play hide and seek, that the sight of her dog food in a plastic bag meant she was going to "camp" (Grandma and Grandpa's house for vacation), a blanket taken out to the car signaled being invited to take a ride, and that the appearance of young children at our table usually meant a special snack if she'd hang out underneath.

She loved a heavy snowfall, the sight of Gregg coming home after work or the girls after school and having friends or family arrive at our door. She hated storms, the 4th of July, getting her paws wet or muddy and having to endure paw washings for those muddy days. She "smiled" when life was good and huddle close if there were tears. Every dog owner says that their dog is the best, and I am no different. Sadie was the perfect dog for our family.

Yesterday, Gregg and I had the tough task of releasing our beloved Sadie from this side of Earth. As we huddled over her, the doctor asked us to tell him of our favorite memory with Sadie. We looked at each other and had no words. Finally, Gregg answered with "where do we even begin?" The doctor smiled. "I know what you mean," he said.

We will miss you, sweet Sadie. We thank you for an incredible twelve years of unconditional love! You may be gone from our home, but never from our hearts. We love you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And She's Off . . .

Around this time of year just five short years ago, I sat in a hospital room-holding a newborn Mackenzie while tears streamed down my face.

Chalk it up to post-partum hormones and the fact that I was missing my other baby and her first day of kindergarten . . . such a huge milestone to miss.

And here we are today-sending Cassidy off to her final year in elementary school. In just a few short weeks, Mackenzie begins her last year of preschool.

Today, I'm feeling the tears again.

My babies are growing up.

But it's all good. Just as it should be.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Names of God

I don't think I know one person who doesn't love to get a "mystery package" in the mail.

This past week, I was lucky enough to receive one. My dear friend Jody sent me the book shown in the above photo. I smiled as soon as I pulled it out of the package. Just a few days earlier, she had listened to me excitedly share a story with her. The experience that I told her about was what I like to call a "God Moment" when He shows up in an incredible way-especially in times when it's least expected.

Case in point: nearly two weeks ago, he provided the means for a need before I ever had a moment to blink and wonder how I was going to "make it happen." Done. He had my back all along. It was a very cool realization-to say the least.

Jody and I had talked about how God had revealed himself to me that day as Yahweh Yireh, the one who provides for a need before the situation for that need ever reveals itself. As I read the entry in the book describing this particular name of God, I shivered. The key scripture in this particular entry described the scene with Abraham and Isaac at Moriah. This story also happens to be the key piece of scripture upon which our church's expansion project is based. Silly as it may sound, I was suddenly awestruck. The same God who provided for Abraham provided for my situation that afternoon as well. This blows my mind! Seriously! It's not like He hasn't shown up this way for me in past situations, but this time around it just seemed especially incredible to me.

So today . . . I'm curious. Tell me about a time in your life when Yahweh Yireh showed up and blew you away? I love a cool "God Moment!" Share!!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fam Jam

For the past few years, our church has replaced traditional VBS with a new-and-improved VBS called "Fam Jam." Instead of dropping your children off for a week of VBS, this event has the entire family experiencing a VBS-like event. This year was no exception and so last Sunday night, we dove in to "Jam with the Fam" for several nights running.

This year, we were invited to be a part of the team to lead worship each night. Mind you, because it's a family event, it's entire families that make up that worship team. The only minor hitch in this plan is that the head of our family wasn't able to make either of the two rehearsals to learn words and motions to the songs. I offered to catch our fearless (or is it "fearful"?) leader up to speed, to which he answered,

"Nah. I'll be fine."

For those of you who know Gregg, he was in rare form last week. If you don't know my husband, suffice to say he lived up to his high school elected title of "class clown." Unfortunately, the more people who stopped him throughout the week to tell him how funny he was, the more he hammed it up. It's no wonder that Mackenzie is the way she is sometimes. As my father-in-law always said, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
We had a great week, though. My nieces Alaina and Chloe were up here with us and we had good time sharing Fam Jam with them as well.

A new element added to Fam Jam this year was a service project. As we discussed the importance of serving others during the week, we were asked to donate school supplies to fill 100 backpacks that someone had donated to our church. One evening was spent filling them in an assembly line-like fashion, then we wrote notes to the children who would be receiving these backpacks. They will be distributed to shelters here in our town who will pass them along to kids for back-to-school.

Our church just recently went through an expansion project, so when we walked into the gym one night, I could only imagine where they came up the mountain of broken-down cardboard boxes that greeted us in the center of the floor. We were given the count of "ready-set-go" and we dove into the pile to claim pieces to build a house in 10 minutes.

We girls fit inside the house nicely, but Gregg (just to the left of us) was still holding duct tape in his hand-trying how to make it more structurally sound. As much fun as it was, it was more than a little sobering to later discuss the reality that for some people, a shelter like ours shown above IS their only means of a house. We are so blessed.

And of course, what is Fam Jam without food? The week concluded with a picnic out in the parking lot. Afterwards, the girls had fun on several inflatables.

All in all, it was a great week. Good friends, lots of fun, great food and of course,

GREAT laughs!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Loony Is As Loony Does

For a number of months now, Gregg has been training for a Half-Ironman race. I, on the other hand, have been training for the role of "support team" for my dear husband and after witnessing my first Half-Ironman race this past weekend, I have a step-by-step guide for race participants.

Step 1: Decide that you're just a bit loony enough to think that doing a "monster triathlon" seems like a great idea. Sign up for this race way in advance because thousands of other loony people will do the same thing and heaven knows . . . if you don't get your registration entered in time, you will be disappointed 'cause you're loony enough to want to do this in the first place.

Step 2. Go swim. Practice swimming a lot. Practice swimming about 1.2 miles worth 'cause that's what you're gonna do when you go do this Half-Ironman. For extra assistance, buy yourself a wet suit because (SURPRISE!) you're going to do this in a lake and NOT a warm chlorinated swimming pool. You might get some strange looks when you head for the beach when it's over 100 degrees and all the other people swimming are wearing these things called swim suits, but it won't matter 'cause you're a bit loony anyway and don't care.

Step 3. Ride your bike. Practice riding your bike a lot. Practice riding about 56.33 miles worth 'cause that's what you're gonna do when you go do this Half-Ironman. For heaven's sake, make sure you buy yourself some padded shorts too, because your tushy will be sore. REALLY sore!

Step 4. Go run. Practice running a lot. Practice running about 13.1 miles worth 'cause that's what you're gonna do when go do this Half-Ironman. Running in flip-flops is definitely out and as comfy as Crocs are, I don't advise that you wear these either. (Just my own personal observation-I wouldn't know this from experience.)

Step 5. Do steps 2,3, and 4 repeatedly for several months straight . . . rain or shine . . . weekday or weekend and even on holidays. You're in training!!!! This is no time to be a wimp!

Step 6. The night before your race, pack a bag. Because you can benefit from my newly acquired knowledge as a spectator, I can tell you that your bag probably shouldn't be packed with a six-pack of coke and box of twinkies. Nor should you bring an iPod or cell phone to carry on you during the race. Instead, fill your bag full of little foil packets of flavored gel and lots of water bottles. By the way, there is no need to buy water bottles. If you are already this loony to think you want to do one of these races, chances are good that you've done a few others leading up to this and already have nice little collection of water bottles in your possession. Lastly, strongly consider wearing a color that will really stand out for your fan club. If you are a male race participant, I highly suggest hot pink. I didn't see ONE hot pink triathlete suit whatsoever yesterday . . . even on the female race participants.

Step 7. Don't forget to pack ibuprofin. You will need it after the race. (So will anyone else who comes to cheer you on!)

Step 8. Race Eve: Go to sleep. Make sure you hit the hay fairly early . . . like around 3:30 pm prior to race day because here's the thing: not every city hosts a Half-Ironman, (Go figure?) and therefore your cities to choose from will be few and far between. You will probably have to travel. If you are within two hours of your race destination and don't feel the need to rent a hotel room, good luck with that. Between finding a parking space, unloading your gear, setting up your gear and walking to the site of the swim portion, you may very well have to leave your warm comfy bed no later than 3 am prior to the start of the race. Keep in mind that again, this probably won't matter to you because you're already a bit loony and don't care.

Step 9. Ready, set, GO!!! Swim! Bike! Run! Beware of spectators along the way banging on pots and pans and telling you that the finish line is just around the corner. They are lying to you to just make you feel better and push through the pain that you may be experiencing. In their defense, they are working through their own pain of standing in one place for 2 1/2 hours straight with their finger on the button of their camera waiting for a glimpse of their loved one that they came to cheer on. Not only that, but they may have caved to the insane desire to pay $5 for a slice of pizza when they know darn well that they could have bought an entire pizza back home for that same $5. At this point in time, the specators are just as loony as those in the race!

Step 10. DO bring your cell phone. (Just don't carry it with you.) You will need this for after the race in order to connect with your fan club standing 2 miles away, who might still waiting for a glimpse of you to get that precious shot of you approaching the finish line.

Step 11. Upon reaching your fan club by cell phone, hold the phone away from your ear a pretty good distance. This is necessary to protect your ear drums that will be subjected to an audible expression of disappointment from your fan club in the realization that you already crossed the finish line and not a single photo was taken of you to document the culmination of all those months of training, wet suit purchases and lack of sleep in the last 24 hours.

Step 12. Take some of that ibuprofin that you brought along. For an extra measure of kindness, offer some to your fan club.

Step 13. This is for race participants AND fan clubs: Do NOT, under any circumstance, discuss "next year's Half-Ironman." It will simply be too painful for all parties involved.

Thanks for reading. I hope this was a help to my readers today, in spite of the lengthiness of this post. It would have been a little shorter if I'd had some photos to share from this weekend's race but alas, not one stinkin' photo.

But then, you probably already figured that, didn't you?