Wednesday, December 31, 2008

525,600 Minutes

Days like December 31 put me in to reflection mode. The lyrics from the musical "Rent" come to mind:

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.

525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?

I find the song delightfully haunting. Stating the number of minutes that make up a year somehow makes each one seem more significant. How many of those did I fritter away in front of the T.V. ? Or waste in anger? Or lose to disorganization?

525,600 minutes in a year--I wonder, if the minutes of my days were recorded, categorized, and put into a pie chart, would I be pleased with the result for 2008? Oh I hope so! I hope I spent more minutes showing love than I spent serving myself, more minutes praying than worrying, more minutes enjoying my boys than I spent scolding them, and more minutes encouraging my husband than I spent nagging him.

Tomorrow the bank account of time receives its annual paycheck, and each of us will have a balance of 525,600 minutes on deposit. How will you spend yours?

Monday, December 29, 2008

First and Last

A few years ago, when my boys were much smaller, I read an article in Mary Englebreit's Home Companion that I have never forgotten. The author wrote about how, as children grow, we never know when it might be the last time they do or say something. For example, every day for years Chandler would play with his wooden train set. Eventually it became once a week, and then only on rare occasions. Right now I can't remember the last time he pulled it out. No one yelled, "Hey, Jenn! Pay attention! This is the end of Chandler's Brio-phase." There were no alarms sounding the last time one of my boys wanted me to read Goodnight Moon, or tie their shoes, or kiss a boo-boo. Blessed mothering experiences fade into extinction without saying goodbye, leaving me wondering where the time has gone and how in the world those baby boys got so big. If I had known it was going to be the last reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, might I have read just a little but slower? If I had known it was going to be the last time they needed me to cut their food, might I have not been so burdened by the chore?

We celebrate FIRSTS all of the time--first steps, first tooth, first words--as well we should. God meant for children to grow and become independent, and each bit of progress is evidence that they are moving in grace toward His plan for their lives. But I don't necessarily want to rush things along. I don't want to miss any opportunity to experience the holiness of those wonderful, simple, everyday moments. And unless I cherish every one, I will miss the chance to celebrate any lasts--because LASTS come without warning or fanfare, and they vanish like a mist.

As 2008 winds to a close, I am looking back to remember both the firsts and the lasts that we encountered, for I am convinced that God is in them. He is, after all, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spangle Sunset

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

Psalm 19:1-5

Friday, December 26, 2008


It was 6:57 a.m. Christmas morning. My younger son was not only awake, but showered. My older son still slept. David had already been up for hours making his traditional cinnamon rolls and their fragrance was just beginning to fill the air. I made myself a toasty warm cup of chai and went in to the living room, which was lit only by the white lights on the tree and the glow of the fire in the fireplace. Wrapped gifts circled the tree and the stockings were heavy with loot. Christmas carols played softly on the radio as I curled up on the sofa, cradling my mug.

I knew deep in my soul that this moment would be my favorite moment of the day.

Slowly I sipped my chai, savoring. I wanted to stop time, or at least push the pause button, until I had experinced every thought and feeling that the morning had to offer. As I pondered what all of those packages might contain, I realized why this moment was so poignant. It represents where I am in life right now: in the throws of anticipation. No one knows for sure what the future holds, but our family appears to be on the verge of major change.

It is is likely...that this will be our last Christmas in this house. It is just a house. Just a house. And yet, it has been so much more: It has been a picture of grace; A lesson in beauty from ashes; A cozy incubator where little boys became young men; A joyful port in this journey called life.

But the ship is sailing, and we have been called aboard.

I feel as though I am standing at the bottom of the gangplank, suitcases in hand; but, in the quietness of Christmas morning, God is urging me to turn and take one last mental picture of this blessed place to fix it in my mind. To remember all that He has done for us during our years in Spangle. When we go to France we will leave the house, but we will take with us the memories of His faithfulness. We must pack those memories away safely because we will need them when (not if) there are rough seas ahead.

I so love to soar on the wings of anticipation of what might be that I can forget to wallow in appreciation for what has been. This morning I waded in to my own gratitude, and within minutes it overwhelmed me. Even now, there is a lump in my throat when I consider what God has given us in this place.



Floods (yes, plural!)

Birthday parties




Rider mowers


Snakes, crawdads, and mudpuppies

A long gravel driveway with a wagon wheel at the end

A post office two blocks away

Running on dirt roads

Coyote howls and Owl hoots

A mud room

Long drives home

The smell of wheat at harvest time

Chirping crickets

A giant rock in the yard

Big trees with birdhouses

Visiting cousins

Cousins stuck here due to icy roads

Beautiful sunsets

I am thankful.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Prayer for you at Christmas

This comes from the Episcopal Book of Offices and Prayers for Priest and People (1896). It is my heartfelt prayer for you this Christmas.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen. And Merry Christmas, dear friends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adventures in Breadmaking

I have not left the house except to walk to the post office or the Spangle Market for over a week. It's not that I can't go to town. Spokane, despite three feet of snow, is navigable. No, I am simply enjoying being a homebody. Spending two days a week working at the church has made me appreciate my time at home in a whole new way. I love my job, but I am rejuvenated when I can putter around the house, not talking to anyone. Being at home stimulates my creativity and inspires me to try new things.

Yesterday I ventured into the world of bread-making. I don't think I have ever made bread before, so this was a first. It all started because I put a beef stew on the stove to cook all day, and I thought it would be nice to have some yummy bread to go with the stew. I could have driven to town and bought a loaf, but that would not have been as much of an adventure as making it myself. Besides, we didn't have any other plans, so it was a good day to sit around and wait for bread to rise. In fact, the reason I never made bread before is because I usually think of it twenty minutes before I want to eat it, and bread can't be made in twenty minutes. Bread making is a long-term commitment.

I looked up a recipe on the Internet, and went to work. Well, mostly I poured stuff into my KitchenAid mixer and let the dough hook do all the work. I LOVE my KitchenAid mixer. I used to think that only people who loved to bake bought KitchenAid mixers. I bought mine because it was black, and it would look good in my kitchen. What I have discovered is that I may have had it backwards. Perhaps the reality is that people who have KitchenAid mixers love to bake. I sure enjoy baking much more now that I have one. It turns out that the only thing I don't like about my mixer is that it is black (oh the irony!) and therefore shows every speck of flour, sugar, and baking powder that gets on it. I digress.

So after my mixer did its part, I had to knead the dough "until it was smooth and elastic." Well, it looked "smooth and elastic" after like, three seconds, but the instructions said this should take 6-8 minutes. Given my lack of bread making experience, I assumed that I had no idea what "smooth and elastic" looked like, and I kneaded the dough for six minutes. I did it just like Caroline Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. She was my only frame of reference because Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals never include homemade bread, and that is the only cooking show I get since I don't have cable. Again, I digress.

After kneading the dough it had to rise for an hour and a half, then get punched down (that was fun) and rise for another 30 minutes. I took advantage of the "Proof" setting on my oven, which keeps the oven at a temperature that is perfect for dough that needs to rise. This was especially handy since my house is a little on the cool side given the sub-zero temperatures outside. Am I digressing?

Anyways, after the second rising (?) raising(?)--whatever--I got to split the dough apart, and braid it. Then it had to rise AGAIN. Why in the world does bread dough need to rise THREE times? Even Jesus only had to do it once! Holy mackerel, bread-making is SUCH a high-maintenance-long-term-relationship! Finally, after brushing the bread with an egg yolk, I baked it.

Here is the result:

It tasted as good as it looks. Call me crazy, but I think I might make more today!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I love the snow. Really I do. I only have this teensy weensy little complaint: It is keeping my parents from coming to my house for Christmas. They are not too timid about driving in the winter weather, but this storm has shut down every possible route between their house and ours, and as the song goes, "It doesn't show signs of stopping!" We have been looking forward to having them here for Christmas, but it appears that might not happen. Major bummer! I've been wracking my brains to find the bright side. Here's the best I can do:

The Benefits of NOT Having my Parents Here for Christmas

  1. I can continue to put off cleaning the boys bathroom.

  2. We won't have to take two cars to the Christmas Eve services.

  3. More coconut macaroons for David and Graham.

  4. Chandler has fewer opportunities to share his cold.

  5. Gonzo (their cat) avoids the trauma of travel.

Pretty weak, huh? Yeah. I'm just going to have to be a little sad. I hope they're saving their pennies so that they can come for Christmas when we live in France. Funny thing is, while they can't make it across the state this week, they probably could get to France!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Record snowfall hit Spokane! We must have 24 inches of snow at our house. The boys have been out in it, but I stayed in my PJs all day and baked. I sure am glad my Christmas shopping is finished and that I can walk to the post office to ship the gifts that I still need to mail. It has stopped snowing for now, but more is on its way this weekend. Tomorrow I hope to go sledding!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Flashback #2: Secret Santas

This week my kids are having a Secret Santa gift exchange at school. They are each figuring out ways to bless the person whose name they have drawn while keeping their own identities hidden. Such fun.

The whole Secret Santa thing took me back to my own youth. I think I must have been in fourth grade when I first played the Secret Santa game at school. I was so excited by the whole idea, and as the teacher walked around the room with the basket of names, I had only one request: "Anyone but Harold, anyone but Harold, anyone but Harold," I silently prayed, as I reached up to draw a name.

Harold was, well, not very popular, to say the least. His thin hair was a little on the overgrown side and horribly greasy. His clothes always looked two sizes too big and way past their prime. He had a persistently runny nose, an annoying personality, and total disdain for personal hygiene. I wasn't particularly mean to Harold, but I did not go out of my way to be nice to him either. And I certainly did not want to spend my Christmas season shopping for presents for Harold. No-sir-ee! Anyone but Harold would be fine with me.

I pulled out the folded slip of paper and waited for the teacher to move on before opening it. Stealthily covering the name with my hand, I peeked to see who I had drawn. Harold. My heart sank. I glanced over at him, only to see him wiping his nose on his sleeve before reaching into the basket himself. Yuck.

At recess all of my friends were talking about whose names they had drawn. I didn't want to tell them, for fear I might be shunned. I haughtily told them that SECRET Santa meant that we weren't supposed to tell, and kept the name I had drawn to myself. I contemplated throwing the slip of paper away and "forgetting" about the whole thing. But even my calloused heart couldn't execute that plan when I imagined everyone in the class having a treat from a secret pal except for poor Harold.

I pouted all afternoon, disappointed that I would have to be Harold's Secret Santa for two whole weeks. One thing I determined for sure--I would be the Secretest Santa EVER, for I certainly did not want to be caught doing anything nice for the class outcast.

When I got home, I began to explain to my parents the tragedy of my day. I somehow expected them to sympathize with my plight--no such luck. They were (rightfully) appalled at my uncharitable attitude and insisted that I take a gift for Harold every single day of the Secret Santa game. Not only that, they took me to Winn's to hand select each item, and then home to wrap so that every gift was ready to go--one a day--until Christmas break. They were determined that Harold was going to be spoiled by his conceited Secret Santa.

I remember trying to be the first one to class each day so that I could slip Harold's gift into his not-so-cute handmade stocking without being seen. Day after day, Harold's stocking was loaded. He was the only kid in class who got a gift every day--which was quite a shock to everyone, including Harold. He loudly (and obnoxiously) paraded his loot around for all to see, as if he had accomplished something great by simply finding a treat in his stocking.

I was counting the days for school to get out so that I could be finished with my task. At the same time, I was dreading the moment when I would have to reveal that I had been the one filling Harold's stocking with all the goodies. I was no dummy--I knew that it would be instantly assumed that I was IN LOVE with Harold, and I would be the victim of playground teasing for the duration of fourth grade. Such agony.

Finally the moment came when all Secret Santas uncovered their true identities. Actually, only a few had managed to remain anonymous for a fortnight, but I was one of the few. When I quietly owned up to having been Harold's Secret Santa, I was not surprised by the "ooooooooooohhhhhhhhs" that rumbled through the classroom. Giggling and knowing glances rippled across the rows of desks, as my face turned beet red. I wanted to shout, "My parents made me do it!" But just then, Harold caught my eye. He had a look of gratitude like I had never seen before, and he ever so subtly gave me a nod of "thanks." I didn't know Harold had subtlety in him. I certainly had never witnessed it before. Almost imperceptibly, I nodded "you're welcome" back.

Mercifully, the Christmas Break dulled the memory of the Harold thing for most of my classmates, and the dreaded playground taunting was never realized. Well, almost never. For the rest of the year Harold followed me around, declaring his undying love for me everywhere I went. All subtlety was gone. Funny thing is, it didn't really bother me. I can't say I returned his love, but I endured it fairly kindly.

As I look back on my Secret Santa experience I can't help but wonder where Harold is today, and hope that he not only has a blessed Christmas, but that he has found someone to return his love. Even better, I hope he has found the One whose love makes life worth living. Because if the truth be told, I AM a Harold: dirty with sin, poor in spirit, and frankly, obnoxious at times. Yet, in my unlovable state, my Savior died for me. He fills my life each day with gifts I don't deserve, and sometimes I parade them around as if I have accomplished something great on my own. He gives, and gives, and gives. And while I can give Him nothing in return, I want to spend the rest of my life following Him around, boldly declaring my love for Him. The best part is, He really loves me back.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Monday, December 15, 2008

'Tis the Season

This is the view out my kitchen window. BEAUTIFUL, but very cold. I think the high today was 7 degrees. So it was a perfect day to stay inside and...


Christmas Sugar Cookies

Fudge and Peppermint Bark.

While I baked, I was serenaded by the Itty Bitties, who sang Christmas Carols along with the radio. What? You've never heard of the Itty Bitties? Well they are part of our family--each one has a personality and a super power all his/her own. But even I didn't know they could sing!

In case you need to know their names:
(Back Row) Dum-Dog and Double Tails
(Middle Row) Rosie, Duckbeak, Duckbeak's Twin, Megabyte, Cleo, and Rosco
(Front Row) Snoball, Beary's Twin, Beary, Snoozy, Drowsy, and Sleepy.

You'll have to talk to Chandler if you want to know their super powers--beyond caroling, that is.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Christmas Flashback

2001: David and I had moved to Spokane for him to pursue his budding career as a pilot, only to have the events of September 11th take our financial outlook from strained to desperate. We were living out the "for poorer" portion of our marriage vows, wondering if we would ever see the "for richer" side of matrimony.

As December approached, we began to agonize over what we would do for Christmas. In the past we had lavished gifts on each other and on our children. Each carefully selected present was a tangible expression of love wrapped up in festive paper and exchanged with great joy. And every year, the last gift I opened was a bottle of my favorite perfume, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, packaged in the classic gold and silver Nordstrom box and topped with a bright red bow.

But our 2001 Christmas Budget was practically non-existent. There would be no Nordstrom boxes under the tree this year. With heavy hearts, David and I sat down to figure out a plan. We wanted, more than anything, to make sure our boys had a happy Christmas, and so we agreed to spend what money we had on a few gifts for the kids and to forgo buying any gifts for each other. Fortunately, the boys wanted simple things: a basketball (check), a board game (check), and a couple small lego sets (check, check). I crocheted some scarves for my mom and sisters. Our Christmas letter went out without a photo. We skipped buying a tree. We didn't skip a bit of the joy.

The day before Christmas we drove to Portland because we were going to spend the holiday with my parents and with my sister Keri's family. My mom and dad are always very generous gift givers, so the next morning the tree was absolutely buried in presents. David and I realized how silly we had been to even worry that our children might lack a thing! There were many precious moments that morning. My ever-practical brother-in-law had bought each of my boys a nice white dress shirt, knowing that clothes might not delight his two young nephews, but certain that their parents would be blessed by such a sensible gift. My parents renewed our Costco membership, knowing how much we needed it. We all felt completely spoiled.

As the gift opening was winding to a close, Graham spotted a lonely package behind the tree. He grabbed it and read the tag aloud.

"Jennifer Ann. Mom, it's for you. From Dad"

"From my Dad?" I asked, wondering why Graham didn't say "Grandpa."

"No, from David Ross," Graham said, confident in his reading skills, which were just developing at that time, "From MY dad."

As Graham emerged from the back of the tree I saw the gold and silver box in his hands. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes.

With a lump in my throat I quietly croaked, "David, you promised--no gifts for each other--you promised."

I looked up to see that the room--filled with 8 or more children--had gone completely still. My father and sister, hopeless romantics, also wiped tears from their cheeks.

I didn't have to open it to know what it was, but still I slid the bow off and lifted the shiny lid. Donna Karan Cashmere Mist. For years it had been the gift I had taken for granted. For years I had expected it. But in 2001, I had the joy of appreciating its true extravagance for the first time. More tears fell.

In the heavy silence, Graham moved to my side and sought out my eyes. "What's wrong, mom? Don't you like it?" he asked, obviously baffled by my weeping.

"I like it very much," I assured him, laughing between sobs.

Even today a bottle of Donna Karan Cashmere Mist sits on my dresser. I wear it daily, but I no longer spray it on with cavalier indifference. No. I wear it convinced that it is the very fragrance of love.

My husband just couldn't help himself that Christmas. His love for me demands expression in many forms--including the giving of good gifts. Precious gifts, which he lavishes upon me even when he knows he will receive nothing in return. You know what? God's love for me is like that, too.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us! 1 John 3:1a

Monday, December 8, 2008

Awwww, Mom

The Williamson Four For France are the missionaries of the month at Life Center in December, so we hauled a few extra things along with us to church this morning. When we got out of the car, I had my purse and a Bible, David had large box full of fliers, photos, and brochures, and Graham grabbed the laptop computer while asking, "Chandler, what are you carrying?"

Chandler looked intently at his left index finger and said matter-of-factly,"I got a booger!"

No he is not three years old, he is eleven. By the time we made it in to church, Chandler assured us that the booger was gone. I did not ask where it went. I have learned that there are some things I simply do not need to know.

I wanted to end my post at this point, but the boys thought that I should take my share of the blame for the booger incident. I have an apparently rare obsession with facial orifices. (Now there's a statement that is going to point some odd googlers to my blog.) Ever since my boys were itty bitty babies, I have been vigilant about making sure their eyes, ears, and noses are clear of all crustiness. They both have forbidden me from looking into their noses now, but I still let them know when they need to clean their ears.

Yes, I should buy stock in q-tips.

Anyways, Chandler probably thought he was doing an important task by taking care of the booger before church.

And now you all know about one of my motherly quirks for which he will probably have to see a shrink someday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Be Blessed

Today I had one of those experiences that I thought only happened in movies on the Hallmark channel.

My story actually began yesterday morning, when I walked into Bible Study and was stopped in my tracks at the sight of an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous pair of red patent leather shoes on the feet of my small group leader. I gave her an eloquent compliment that went something like, "those are some super hot-pepper mama shoes!" She smiled beautifully and told me that she got to go shopping with her daughters over the Thanksgiving holiday. Well, I don't think there is anything more fun than mother-daughter-sister shoe shopping, and those shoes where definitely the kind of "score!" you hope to find on such an outing.

Later, when we bowed our heads to talk to God, I was again captivated by the shoes on my leader's feet. "Dang!" I thought, while more spiritual women were deep in prayer, "those shoes are amazing!" When the prayer ended, the first words out of my mouth were once again about the shoes--revealing to everyone that my mind had not been on "things above." I really don't think I was coveting her shoes, but I was enthralled with them--appreciating them like a fine piece of art. Finally Bible study ended, my friend and leader departed in her classy booties, and I went on with a very busy day, not giving the shoes another thought.

So this morning I was dropping my boys off at school when I suddenly heard a knock on my window. I looked out and saw my Bible study leader standing in the middle of the street with a sack in her hand. Our kids go to the same school, so I often run in to her at drop-off or pick-up times. I rolled down my window and she said, "I have something for you" and handed me the sack.

"For me? What is it?" I asked, peeking inside.

"Just a gift, " she said.

"No, no, no," I protested, realizing what was in the sack, "You can't give me your shoes!"

"Yes, I can," she said, walking away, smiling. "There's a note. Read the note."

And she was gone.

I opened the card, hardly believing what had just happened. It read:

Dear Jenn,
I'm so glad you liked my red shoes. And now I get the pleasure of blessing you with them. Ever since Beth Moore encouraged us to give when someone admires something we have, I have wanted to do just that. And today God encouraged me to give the red shoes to you. blessed, my friend. Enjoy your new red shoes!

Have you EVER heard of something so sweet? She GAVE me the shoes right off of her feet! And believe it or not, they are EXACTLY my size: 7 1/2. Here is a picture of my new shoes:

I am BOTH blessed and challenged by my friend's generous act. Now I am hoping to have the opportunity to give something of mine away to somone who admires it. I plan to wear my favorite earrings, don my best scarf, and carry my designer purse, waiting to hear someone say, "I just love your ______!" At that moment, I will take great pleasure in saying, "Be blessed, my friend. Enjoy your new _______."

This story will not end with me.

BTW, shoe-giving-friend, I am deeply blessed by the shoes, but even more blessed by the warmth of your friendship, which inspires me more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dear God,

How is it that in the midst of all this profoundly spiritual missionary stuff, I can sometimes forget how desperate I am for YOU—the One who gave us the call to France in the first place. Apart from YOU, I can do nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Oh, but I do try. Will you forgive me for chasing after the tasks at hand instead of following hard after you? No wonder my spirit is parched. I need a fresh cup of your living water—make it a grande, please. Teach me once again to drink deeply of you: slowly savoring your sweetness, tasting the goodness of your grace, and relishing the cleansing of your words.

Father, I have sought my own good over the good of others. I have wept for my own injuries while carelessly wounding those around me. I have worked for the praise of men instead of doing everything for your glory. In all of these ways I have poured my efforts into broken vessels, expecting to find fulfillment. But nothing will ever satisfy me except for you. In you I find my hope. In you I find my peace. In you I have everything I could ever need. Help me to abandon my fruitless labor, and trade it for your yoke—you know, the one that is easy. When I choose your yoke, you share the burden with me, making it seem amazingly light. When I choose the yoke of selfishness, pride, or laziness, I bear it alone, and the burden of sin buries me. Still, I choose it so often. Help me, Jesus!

Lord, how long has it been since we’ve had a heart to heart? Yeah, I know I’ve kept up with my Bible Study, prayed at meals and with my family, even sung along with the Christian music on the radio. But it’s been a while since I’ve sat in stillness at your feet, gazed upon your majesty, and waited in your presence for a word from your holy lips. I’ve rattled off my prayer requests with great efficiency and regularity, but I haven’t listened for your answers. Today, Lord! Today I need to see your face, hear your voice, touch your heart. With urgent appointments looming, Christmas shopping pending, dirty laundry stacking, and the to-do list ever growing, I need nothing more than a quiet moment with you. Maybe two.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Saturday, November 29, 2008


David Graham Williamson--my firstborn son and the on-going answer to the longest prayer I ever prayed--turns 13 today. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. As the youngest of five daughters, I really did not feel equipped for the job of raising boys. To tell you the truth, I still don't. But it is a job that I love more than I ever imagined I would, and every day it only gets better. I am so thankful for the privilege of being Graham's mom. He is growing in every way, from glory to glory. Those of you who have known me for 13 years or more bear witness to the fact that parenting Graham has not been an easy endeavor. His intelligence, strength, and depth have presented discipline challenges on a grand scale. Those same traits, however, make Graham the responsible, helpful, and insightful young man that he is today. He is made of steel, and as he allows God to shape him he is becoming an unstoppable force for the Kingdom. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Roommate Phase

Every so often, David and I get going on the treadmill of life and unwittingly end up in a place we call "Roommate Phase." Roommate Phase is not violent or ugly. There is no screaming, no fighting, and very little tension. We are not angry at each other. But somewhere between life's required to-do lists and our individual pursuits we have lost touch with each other as friends, soul-mates, and lovers. Roommate Phase is the result of marital complacency, and since it is somewhat comfortable we run the risk of settling into it rather than fighting it with all we've got. We can go for weeks living under the same roof, eating at the same table, sleeping in the same bed, and never connecting. After spending our emotions at work and with our boys, we are simply too tired to engage with one another beyond the surface. And besides, we're married for life, so we figure we can put it off for a day. But days become weeks, and weeks become months, and before we know it we are knee-deep in Roommate Phase.

Well, today I woke up (both physically and mentally) and realized that David and I have wandered aimlessly into Roommate Phase once again. Getting into Roommate Phase is completely effortless, but busting out of Roommate Phase requires something similar to a "Shock and Awe" campaign used in warfare. We both have to acknowledge where we are and agree that we don't want to stay there. We have to be relentless in pursuing each other, silly in our expressions of love, and completely willing to forsake EVERYTHING else (save Jesus!) until our passion is restored. We have to play games, take walks, have sex, and share our hearts in much greater frequency and with much greater intensity than we have in the past few weeks. We have to choose NOT to believe the lie that "things are fine" and get down on our knees and ask God to help us. We need to seek forgiveness for not cherishing each other, and purposely move towards each other even though it would be easier to stay where we are.

So, David, while I enjoy being your roommate, I am passionate about being your wife. I am dedicated to loving you, to learning from you, and to seeking God with you. Roomies no more--I will settle for nothing less than CRAZY IN LOVE with you!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I woke up this morning feeling mad and irritated for no apparent reason. Bugs Bunny would tell me, "Ya got no music in your soul, sista." A quick glance at the calendar reveals that I am in the throws of my monthly reminder of the consequences of original sin. Yes, that time of the month when I can bite your head off if you look at me funny. Be nice, and I'll yell, "Don't patronize me!" Your only hope is to shut your mouth and offer me chocolate. David has been keeping his distance and throwing m&ms at me all morning. It's not a bad tactic.

What I don't get is how a mature, rational, easy going woman like myself can turn into a rabid, evil, psychotic devil-woman with the influx of just a few hormones. It makes me feel like such a push-over. Some months are definitely better than others, but no matter how I INTEND to fight it, the hormones always win.

All I can say is, I, too, am learning to keep my mouth shut. Silence is a method of damage control--the storm is still raging, but it helps to batten down the hatch! As my boys like to tell me, "Silence is golden, Duct tape is silver!" So if I am sporting a little duct tape over my mouth today at church, trust me when I tell you, it's for your own good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Citizenship Test

Yesterday on Facebook I took the test that is given to new immigrants before they are granted American citizenship. I got 100%. But one of the questions got me thinking. It asked, "Why did the Pilgrims come to America?" The correct answer was, "For religious freedom." We all know this to be true. The Pilgrims were being persecuted for their Christian faith, and so they fled. We have all (hopefully) learned that our country was founded by people of God who desired to live according to the ways of the Bible. What I hadn't ever thought about before was this: The continent from which the Pilgrims fled was Europe! In other words, in the 1700s Christians were making a mass exodus FROM European countries such as England, France, and Germany TO the New World. Most believers left Europe--pushed out by humanism, rationalism, and post-modernism. No wonder France is so secular! Now I am not saying that the Pilgrims should have stuck it out. I believe that God allows persecution sometimes to get His people to move, and I am thankful for this country and the blessings we are still enjoying because of the faithfulness of our founding fathers. But I am seeing a cause and effect for why Europe--filled with catherdrals and birthplace of Christian giants like Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Blaise Pascal--is now a spiritual wasteland.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pray for Hannah

My niece, Hannah, is in the hospital this morning, having suffered several seizures last night. Hannah is a beautiful girl who lives with Rett Syndrome. For those of you who have never heard of Rett Syndrome, here is a description that I found on the International Rett Syndrome Website:

The child with Retts is usually born healthy and shows an early period of apparently normal or near normal development until 6-18 months of life, when there is a slowing down or stagnation of skills. A period of regression then follows when she loses communication skills and purposeful use of her hands and slowing of the normal rate of head growth become apparent. Soon, stereotyped hand movements and gait disturbances are noted. Other problems may include disorganized breathing patterns which occur when she is awake and seizures.

Hannah is an only child, the of treasure of parents' hearts. She is a very brave little four-year old who inspires joy in just about anyone she meets. I don't understand much of the suffering that God allows in this world, but I pray that He is holding Hannah and her parents tightly in the palm of His hands today.


Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

As avid Dave Ramsey fans, David and I have been anti-debt for about 3 years. But the Bible speaks of one debt which we should never be able to mark “Paid in Full.” We seem to owe one another an on-going debt of love. For me, the burden of this debt has become increasingly clear as we have begun to receive financial and prayer support from so many. I know that we could NEVER repay what we have been given. Actually, I know that these gifts are not even given to us, per se, as much as they as they are given to God. And while the financial gifts are tangible, we fully believe that they are given with great love—love for US, love for GOD, and love for the FRENCH. I am convinced that each time one of you writes a check to Greater Europe Mission, you aren’t just fulfilling your pledge obligation; you are making payments on the great love debt. In return, we are feeling such overwhelming love and gratitude towards all of you, that we are eager to find ways to make payments on our ever-increasing debt of love. Oh that this one debt might keep us living in hot pursuit of it! May we all attack it with gazelle-like intensity.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Roughing It

Now, in the words of our president elect, "Let me be clear." This post is in no way meant to be a complaint. I have not picked up the French penchant for whining. I just want to share with you the living conditions at Camp des Cimes. Ours was the uppermost chalet. We would climb the stairs on the side, go in a door, and then climb another flight of stairs to our third floor room. Upon arrival we were given four sets of sheets and four bath towels--circa 1968 by my best estimation. Each cot was supplied with a pillow, a charming (albeit threadbare) quilt, and a scratchy wool blanket. Our beds might have been perfectly cozy save this one minor detail: they were all somewhat damp. In an effort to warm our room and dry our cots, David turned on the wall heater. This ancient little unit sounded like a dental drill on steroids and produced the heat of a small candle. Our first night I was so cold that I was having chest pains. For survival (really!) David and I pushed our cots together and snuggled.

The next morning David was up at the crack of dawn because he was leading worship at the first conference session. He gathered his things and went down to the bathroom, which was on the ground floor and had two toilets and two showers. There was a wooden sign that said GARCONS (boys) on one side and FILLES (girls) on the other. We were told that the procedure was to turn the sign to your sex when entering the bathroom. David, finding the bathroom completely unoccupied, put up the GARCONS side and got into one of the showers. A few minutes later he hears the door open, and a woman's voice say, "I'm coming in!" You need to know that my husband is the most modest human being on the face of the earth. He barely gets naked in front of me--his wife--so you can imagine his horror when another woman announced that she was getting in to the next shower. I'm sure he did everything he could to seal the seams of his shower curtain to the wall while cowering in the far corner of the stall. He waited in the shower for the woman to completely finish bathing, dry off, and leave the bathroom. Only then did he dare to reach out for his towel, dry off, dress, and emerge from his stall. He was completely traumatized by the incident. I was completely amused.

David and I are not the type who enjoy roughing it. (Okay, I do realize that people who actually "rough it" would not even put this experience in that category. I don't suppose wall heaters, cots, and indoor toilets are generally part of the "roughing it" accommodations, but for us this was downright primitive!) Even in the Alps, camping is not our thing, and Camp des Cimes was definitely pushing the edge of our comfort zone--save this: the food was incredible! The meals were served family style, one course at a time at a slow and very French pace. Each repast was simple, but tasty. Fresh, colorful, and chocked full of flavor.

Greater Europe Mission owns Camp des Cimes and uses it for summer and winter camps for kids. All things considered, it is a great facility.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Super Spiritual Sons

The day before we left for France we spoke in a Sunday School class at my parents' church. Our boys were with us, and we gave them the camera and asked them to take a couple pictures of us while we were up front talking about mission stuff. is the ONLY picture they took of either of us. It is a picture of David giving them "the eye" while I was speaking.

So why was David giving them "the eye?" Well, let me just share with you the rest of the pictures that were taken during that Sunday School Class.

No, I don't know what that is coming out of Graham's nose, but I'm pretty sure it's not what it looks like. And I don't know what this says about David and I as speakers, but I'm pretty sure it's not a vote of confidence from our kids.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Full Redemption

Over and over, laced through conversations with missionaries, French pastors, and even local shopkeepers, we heard a recurring theme: Shame is the tactic most used in raising children in France. Shame produces adults who, though outwardly successful, are inwardly wasting away. They are afraid to take risks and carry a heavy burden of insecurity and discontent. Oh how I long to see the Gospel of Redemption unleashed in France!

Today in my Bible Study I read Colossians 2:13-15, which says:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The French people are burdened by their codes, both written and unwritten, and shamed when they do not live up to the expectations of others. But Jesus cancels the code! What a concept to be grasped. I am so grateful to serve a God who chose forgiveness over condemnation. I pray that the Holy Spirit will blow through France afresh with this blessed message!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Pink Poodle in the Palace

Let's play a little game I learned on Sesame Street. It is called, "One of These Things is Not Like the Others."

France: The Art Capital of the World, place of inspiration, beauty, and style.

The Palace at Versailles: Famed for extravagance, elegance, and grandeur.

The Pink Poodle: A modern art sculpture depicting a balloon dog of scary proportions.

This sculpture (and many others by the same artist) were on display throughout the historic Palace at Versailles during our visit. One sculpture looked like a silver Mylar balloon bunny, another was just a plain blue Mylar balloon. The piece de resistance? A sculpture of Michael Jackson with his monkey, Bubbles, graced the King's Parlor. Can we file this under "What were they thinking?"

At the same time, I see a spiritual parallel. No, really, stick with me. I think the Pink Poodle stands for the Post-modern, "enlightenment" philosophy that the French embraced so thoroughly in the late 18th century. At the time, those beliefs seemed reasonable, wise, and advanced. But when integrated into real life--those same beliefs are as unreasonable as a giant pink poodle in the drawing room. They make a big statement, but the statement they make is neither living nor true.

Some day this exhibit will move on, and Versailles will be free from artwork that actually detracts from its beauty and value. Some day France, too, can be free from the burden of modernism, and open to embracing something that is both living and true: My Jesus.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Five Randoms About France

We learned some interesting tidbits about French culture on our trip, and I wanted to share just a few of them with you:
  1. In France, your bread (which is served at every meal) does not go onto your plate, it is placed directly on the table. It is perfectly acceptable to mop up your dinner plate with a crust of bread.

  2. The French school system is not meant to be fun and teachers use shame to motivate the students. For example, many teachers return graded papers beginning with the highest grade and ending with the lowest. At the same time, academic achievement is quite high.

  3. Evangelical Christianity is considered a cult, on the same level as Jehovah's Witnesses. Some French parents will forbid their children to befriend Christian missionary children.

  4. Whining is a national pastime, depression is epidemic, and the French tend towards hypochondria with a strong affinity for pharmaceutical drugs.
  5. There is a new openness to the Gospel--the French are more willing to hear and accept the message of Jesus Christ than they were 20, 10 and even 5 years ago. This was communicated to us most passionately by the indigenous Pastors, who eagerly welcomed the help of expat missionaries.
  6. I know, I know...this is number six, but I found it very interesting to discover that the French do not exchange Christmas Cards. I scoured the country for them, and finally discovered that they send "Bonne Annee" (Happy New Year) cards instead. The New Years cards that I found resemble secular Christmas Cards--they are decorated with trees and gifts. I saw none--NOT ONE--with a spiritual bent, such as a manger or wording that celebrates the birth of Christ. I also found it intriguing that a box of cards contained a whopping 5 cards--as opposed to the 25-50 cards in a box in the US.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

This photo, taken by my father, is a perfect depiction of how we felt after the long trip home: bleary, dazed, and ready for a shower! Still, David and Chandler had smiles for the camera, reflecting our joy and satisfaction. It was a good trip.

And so where do we go from here? Our heart's desire--and I use "heart" in the singular because there is perfect unity in our family about this--is to be living in France as soon as possible. We believe this is God's desire as well, and so we look forward to seeing how He is going to make that happen. Over the rest of this month, I will be sharing stories and photos from our trip. I hope that YOU will be encouraged as we tell you what we learned about God's work in France. I also hope to hear how God has been working where you are, because WE are so deeply encouraged by each of you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chateau de Vizille

About forty minutes away from Camp des Cimes is a small village called Vizille which boasts an old chateau that is now a French Revolution Museum with a large and beautiful garden. We had a half-day break between the "Role of the Family in World Evangelism" seminar and the "Organic Church Planting" seminar, and visited this tucked-in-the-Alps treasure. We look forward to many more such discoveries when at last France is our place of residence.

We have only been gone from the States for about a week, but in some ways it feels like a lifetime. While I can't wait to hug my parents, teach the Coders the new card game we learned, and share our adventures face to face with friends, I am grieving having to leave France. All four of us are reluctant to depart, convinced even more that we are called to this place. There is much more to say, but my mind is so full I have not yet found the words to convey what God has done and what we believe He will do. I guess it will all ooze out of me in His time. For now, I treasure this experience in my heart. I am thankful.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Camp des Cimes

Someday, when an Internet connection is not such a luxury, I will wax poetically about the beauty of the Alps, the friends we are making, and the goodness of the Lord. I will entertain you with stories about all of our faux pas, including forgetting to pay our property taxes (due 10-31) before we left the states, learning to adapt to a culture of co-ed bathrooms, and mistakenly arriving at the wrong home when attempting to find our hosts for a night. But for now I will simply tell you that all is well.

We are settled in the Camp des Cimes (Camp of the Peaks) which is located in the French Alps and dusted with snow. Our chalet is high on a peak, complete with log beams, wood floors, and comfy bunks. The heater in our room was struggling to create warmth, so David and I scooted our bunks together, cuddled up, and slept peacefully!

David led worship this morning, and he did a wonderful job—it was fun to see him back in that role once again. The boys have made friends with the oldest son of the conference speakers, and are enjoying everything from the sessions on the Role of the Family in World Evangelism to the foosball table in the basement of the lodge to snowball fights.

I love each moment, but I am struggling to find the time to process all that I am seeing and hearing. My love for the French people continues to grow—God has endeared them to me. But my realization of the challenges of ministry here has grown as well. I am so glad that I serve a God who is up to the challenge. He is a great God, and He has a plan of redemption. I can’t wait to join Him in it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Fried my Hair

I'm sporting a new look here in France--French Fried Hair. Not Pretty. When I first plugged in my flattening iron (using the converter) it sparked and then the indicator lights on it went out. I figured it was a goner, and I would be wearing my hair with its natural curl being ever emphasized by the humid air. But the next day, after explaining to David my problem with the flattening iron, he tried to plug it in. The indicator lights did not come on, but he noticed that it was still getting hot. Aha! So I went to iron my hair, but something smelled really weird. The only available mirror in the apartment was in a hallway with no lights, so I was sort of working blind. "Hmmm," I thought, continuing to scorch my hair, "I wonder what that horrible odor is." Suddenly I saw smoke coming out of he end of the flattening iron. Not a good thing. I quickly unplugged it and took it to David. It was then that I got a clear glimpse of my reflection. My hair was all crinkly and brittle. I had hoped that after washing it, it would be healed, but that apparently was a pipe dream. Today, after washing and drying, it is still frizzy and brittle. Of course, only half of my hair looks like this, since I stopped when I saw smoke. Half French Fried Hair--a new look I will import to the USA. Do you think it will catch on?

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Yesterday was our chance to give the boys a one-day whirlwind tour of Paris. After a great night's sleep, we rode the train from Chantilly to Paris Gare du Nord. From there we took the Metro to Ile de la Cite', and headed straight to our favorite crepe vendors where the boys ordered Nutella Crepes and David and I shared a peach jam crepe. Yummy! Warmed up and well fed, we walked over to Notre Dame. Chandler thought it was so beautiful that he asked if it would be considered one of the wonders of the world. I began to explain that the wonders of the world were all natural creations, when he reminded me that the pyramids in Egypt are a world wonder. Hmmmmm. Maybe Notre Dame should be in the running. Anyways, here we are with the famous cathedral in the background. Looks like a Christmas Card photo to me. All 4 smiling? That, too, is a wonder!From Notre Dame, we stolled up to Ile de St. Louis and ate lunch at a cozy little Italian restaurant. The Plat du Jour included an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert, so we were once again well fed before we stolled along the Seine on the way to the Musee d'Orsay. This museum highlights Impressionism, and has many famous pieces by Manet, Monet, Renoir, and DeGas. It just so happened to have a Picasso exhibit on loan while we were there. Apparently Manet's "The Lunch on the Grass" inspired a series of Picasso paintings and carboard figurines. Very weird. Not our favorite. Not something I would hang over my fireplace, but interesting nonetheless. Graham, an artist himself, was surprised by how large many of the original paintings were. He has read extensively about these paintings and artists, so seeing them in person was a real treat. From the Musee d' Orsay we walked to the Eiffel Tower, which was dressed for the evening in a classic blue. We think the stars are adorning it in honor of the 10 year anniversary of the European Union, but we aren't sure about that. We did wait in the long line to ride the elevator all of the way to the top and take in the night view of the City of Lights. Shivering but smiling, we arrived on the top just as the flashing white lights did their hourly dance around the Paris Icon.
From La Tour Eiffel we took the Metro back to Gare du Nord just in time to catch the last train back to Chantilly. Tired and hungry, we scoped out a tiny pub that was still opened and ate our dinner at 11:30 p.m--a first for this family. It was not enough time to do Paris justice, but all of us look forward to the day when Paris is a familiar friend.

Today we did the Palace at Versaille, and there is a story with that one involving a large pink poodle and Michael Jackson--but alas, that tale will have to be told another day. It is 11:15 p.m. and tomorrow we will visit Les Cedres, the language school that David and I will attend our first year in France, and then drive 6 hours south to a camp in the Alps. We are engaged in every moment, enduring exhaustion, and enticed by the Lord in each encounter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We're Here!

I haven't slept a wink in 31 hours, so don't even begin to think that I will be witty or wise at this point. We'll just be happy if this post is coherent. Nevertheless, we are joyfully nestled in the Oise and have had a most fulfilling and enlightening (albeit l o n g) day.

Our flights were delightfully uneventful, and after renting a car and teaching it's GPS system to speak English, we traveled through numerous round-a-bouts to the home of GEM France missionaries Charles and Amy Cross. They have four beautiful children and have spent 7 of the past 10 years in France, so they know their way around! Charles had made appointments for us to meet with pastors from two different churches in the region with whom we may be working in the future. We were blessed beyond belief!

Our first stop was the warehouse-turned-sanctuary pastored by David and Corinne Rouxel. Theirs is a charismatic church that is passionate about reaching the Oise for Jesus. Though they spoke no English and we spoke no French, we connected through the patient interpretation of Charles and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Next we went to the Anglican church pastored by Nick the Vicar. His is a 150-year-old traditional church building that is filled weekly by a collection of International English-speaking believers. He and his wife are dedicated to spreading the gospel to the expat community.

This is a photo of the Chateau of Chantilly--we just drove by it, so I don't know much about it, but we thought it was lovely! More later. Love you all bunches!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

When the Wrong Way is Right

Today we will drive to Portland, the first leg of our trip to Paris. For those of you who are geographically challenged, this means that we will leave our home and drive west for 270 miles, only to get on a plane two days later and fly east 6,184 miles. It reminds me of something I have been learning in my Bible study on the Psalms of Ascent.

Psalm 120 through Psalm 134 are the fifteen Psalms that the Jews would sing as they made pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem is set on a hill, their walk was literally an ascent, ending with a climb up 15 stairs that led to the entrance to the temple. But these Psalms can also be seen figuratively as the Lord Jesus calls us up to higher places throughout our journey with Him. One of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith is that the way up, is down:

...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28

If I want to know Jesus better, if I want to go to the high places with Him, I better embrace a servant's nature. I am not one to whom the gift of service comes naturally. I do not have eyes that readily see a need nor do I find it easy to act above my own selfish desires. I do believe, with all my heart, that I will experience a greater intimacy with Jesus if I will allow Him to change me to become a servant. I pray that God will increase my awareness of opportunities to roll up my sleeves and lend a helping hand. I pray that I won't miss out on learning what it means to "lose my life" so that I can "find it."

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Luke 9:24

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Many Faces of David Williamson

Last year, when we toured many of the great museums in Paris, I discovered that several famous artists painted a self-portrait. Some artists, like van Gogh, painted many. Some of you know that my wonderful husband is an artist. What you probably don't know is that he, too, is a master of the self-portrait. Today I decided (with his permission) to share with you a few of David's self-portraits. You will see how his self-perception has changed through the ages and I am sure you will be able to appreciate how he has grown as an artist.

Sometime in his early twenties, David created this likeness of himself. It was composed using crayola felt-tipped markers on a sturdy card-stock. Note the acurate stylization of the mullet hair cut that is so reminicent of the era, as is the single gold earring dangling from his left ear. Since it was drawn the year we were married (evidenced by the enormous smile on his face), we'll call this his romantic period.

Next, sometime in his early thirties, David moved to a photographic medium for self-expression. This rendering was made while actually flying an airplane. Note the "I-was-made-to-do-this" grin on his face, as well as the dramatic reflection in the sunglass lens. This portrait was made as David realized his call to become a pilot, so we will call this his enlightenment period.

Finally, and most recently, we have this picture which suddenly appeared on my cell-phone. Taken with my cell-phone camera, this poigniant moment of self-actualization is perhaps the culmination of David's greatest works. Lest you be completely dismayed, let me point out that David is missing the upper third of his left index finger. So this photo is more of an illusion than a reality. Still, it speaks to me. It speaks of a late-thirties man who has fought against the urge to become too serious as he ages. It speaks of a hilarious husband who is full of surprises. It speaks of a guy with perhaps a little too much time on his hands. And I don't think this period can be labeled. It stands as a work in a universe all its own!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


***WARNING*** This post is filled with shameless bragging and unapologetic motherly pride!

Yesterday afternoon the Southside Christian Lions Soccer Team won their first game 3 to 1! Yea! This team of 5th-8th graders is made up of about 15 kids, most of which have never played soccer before this year. They have had the additional challenge of having very limited access to any consistent coaching. Still, they have played hard and had a good time at every game. But no matter how you slice it, winning is ALWAYS more fun than losing--so yesterday was a blast!

It was an amazing team effort, and I sincerely love all the kids on that team. On the way to the game I had 4 boys in my car, strategizing about what they needed to do to finally win a game. One of the boys said, "Graham, today you are going to get a goal!" Graham had come close to scoring in several games, but had not yet made a goal. I think our friend in the car must be a prophet, because Graham scored not once, but TWICE! Two goals--joyfully followed by hand slapping by players on the field, wild rejoicing on the sidelines, stifled smiles by Graham, and me refraining from screaming "That's MY boy!!!!!"

Chandler made 8 amazing, heart-stopping saves. If you are a mother who has ever had a child play goalie you know that it is horribly stressful! I almost can't watch when the ball gets close to the goal...but then when he makes a save I just have to cheer like a maniac!

Perhaps my proudest moment, though, was when, with about 2 minutes left in the game, the other team scored. A defeated-looking Chandler went to fetch the ball out of the goal and give it to the ref, as I saw Graham running towards the goal. He said a few words to his little brother, and then ran back to his position. On the way home I asked the boys what Graham had said to Chandler after the goal was scored.

He said, "Don't worry about it, Chan. It's just one goal. You have saved a bunch. It'll be okay."

Brothers. Love 'em!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What NOT to Take

Today David was reading the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) website to check if I would be permitted to take my knitting needles on the plane when we go to France. I JUST learned to knit today and I am loving it so much I want to be able to take my project with me. Hip Hip Hooray--knitting needles are allowed past security and on board the plane. But just in case you are traveling anywhere soon, I feel I should warn of the following items that are listed as prohibited:

Hand grenades, cattle prods, and spear guns are no-nos. I guess you'll have to put those must-haves in your checked baggage.

Chlorine for swimming pools won't be allowed past the checkpoint. You'll just have to trust that the hotel swimming pool has enough in it.

Beverages brought from home or purchased before reaching the security checkpoint in containers LARGER than 3 oz. will be confiscated, so be sure to bring your 2.9 oz water bottle with you to prevent dehydration. Don't worry, that will more than fill the cups that they give you on the plane.

Spray paint is out. I just hate it when I forget to take the spray paint out of my purse before leaving for the airport.

Canned Cheese is strictly prohibited. Do I hear an alleluia? Bless the TSA for confiscating all the Cheese Whiz that they can. See--they really are making the world a better place!

And finally, absolutely under NO circumstances will you be permitted to bring a snow globe in your carry-on. You don't want to even think about what could happen if a snow globe fell into the hands of terrorists.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dial-up and Diarrhea

I should have known that today was not going to go according to my plan when my "scheduled" five-mile run turned in to an abbreviated three-mile run due to a phenomenon known as "runner-rhea." It hasn't happened to me in a while, but it is a fairly common ailment among runners. This morning, right at about mile 2.5, I got the uncomfortable and startling sensation that I told me I was in desperate need of a toilet--and I was half a mile from home. "Desperate need" and "half a mile" are two phrases that should NEVER appear in the same sentence as each other when the word "toilet" is the direct object. I should know. I am an English Major. Anyways, the result of this predicament is another phenomenon know as the "Runner's Trot."

"Why trot?" you ask.

The trot happens when neither running nor walking is possible. Running does not promote sphincter control when control is of the essence. (I can't believe I just used the word "sphincter" in a blog.) Walking, on the other hand, does not get a person home in time when time is of the essence. So in an effort to keep it together but move it along, a trot is the only option.

So I trotted home, and let's just say everything came out all right. (groan)

Then I went to work on writing a grant and found that my Internet connection was down. I called David, who was at work (yes, on a Saturday) and told him that the Internet was not working and I couldn't do anything until it was fixed.

"You can't do anything? Nothing? You can't do laundry without the Internet? You can't walk the dog or bake a pie?" he asked.

Wise guy. The funny thing is, I really felt lost without the world wide web at my fingertips. What if I had a laundry emergency and I needed to Ask Jeeves. What if I needed a pie ingredient substitution from I think I might stop breathing if I don't have an Internet connection!

So we called CenturyTel, and the problem IS on their end, which means it won't get fixed until Monday! MONDAY?!?!?! That's two whole days away! I have grants to finish, e-mails to send, blogs to write, youtube videos to view--I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL MONDAY! The solution: dial-up. Yep, the DSL is out, but good old dial-up still does the trick. The problem is, it is so slow that I might as well wait until Monday to do anything because it will take the dial-up that long just to load one page of the Internet.

So today it seems clear that God wants me to slow down. Thanks to dial-up and diarrhea, I have had to let go (no pun intended) of my plans for the day and look to the good Lord for His. In the kingdom economy, nothing is wasted, especially not time. Today is a gift, and I want to accept whatever God has for me in it.

I best get to my pie making and laundry.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9