Monday, February 28, 2011

The Taxes are Done!

Glory, Hallelujah!  The last several years have presented such a burdensome chore in the form of taxes.  The burden is financial, of course, but it so easily translates to a burden of time and emotion, as well. 
It hasn’t always been this way.  I used to relish the idea of doing taxes—well, the return if not the process.  But our financial condition has changed, making it so that we now regularly owe the government, and I can’t ever figure out how to pay.
Last year we went to a tax preparation company.  I was a basket case at the prospect of doing the taxes, so my darling husband made the appointment.  But the company didn’t do anything I couldn’t do.  I still had to bring all the information together and run the numbers to turn in total for each category.  As I was digging through files, I kept wondering what we were paying these people for.  Then when the damage was announced—not our debt to the government, but their own exorbitant fees—I had had enough.  With a $200 off coupon, their fee was still more than double that—not at all what we were quoted at the beginning.
I went home and got on the computer myself.  Not only was I able to find more deductions, but the cost of the computer program was about a third of their fees.  Whoo hoo for us!
So, this year, we didn’t even consider going outside the home for the processing.  I have known that I need to get on it, knowing we would owe again.  Sometimes I can convince myself that ignorance is bliss.  But it really isn’t.
So, before before February is out, I finished.  I know the numbers—which aren’t as bad as numbers past.  The load is mostly off now.  We just need to come up with the money for the stinking state!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Storm

We have a new snow storm that came in and we are living in a winter wonderland.  I woke up this morning and stared out my window in amazement.  It sure didn’t look that way when I went to bed early this morning!

My daughter asked why there was more snow in the front yard than the back.  I thought it was just perception, but I went out with my yardstick.  Sure enough the front has 17 inches an the back has only ten.  I guess the dogs really pounded the back yard well before this storm came in, and weren’t in the front as often?  That is my theory, anyway.Feb 2011 036Feb 2011 015Feb 2011 035 Ava

Saturday, February 26, 2011


The other day was a very yucky day.  While the kids were writing their stories, I went into the garage (our pantry) to figure out lunch.  You know the times when you can think a remarkable number of things in just a split second?  It takes far longer to tell what you were thinking than it took you to actually think it.  Well, that is what happened here.

I stepped into the garage and was about to open our chest freezer when I heard something to my left—deeper into the garage.  In that moment, I knew what it was.  I did this quick inventory of kids and dogs and knew that sound could be nothing other than what I knew it was.  The word never formed, but just these thoughts.

I turned to look and THERE IT WAS!!!!  A mouse!!  Oh, my whole body just ran with shivers as I typed that.  In the moment I did what any self-respecting girly girl would do.  (Wow, this is harder to write than I thought it would be.  I might need to get a blanket to combat the goose bumps that are taking over my body!)  I screamed and ran into the kitchen, slamming the door behind me.  Both kids looked up startled while I stood with my hands on my face trying to collect myself.

Now, I will say that there was a time when I did all sorts of things that went against my girly nature.  I killed spiders without a peep.  I checked out strange noises in the night.  I cleaned up horrifying diaper blowouts without vomiting.  And I hugged and cooed soothingly on little people while they vomited all over me.  I did it, with my audience none-the-wiser about what was going on on the inside.

But now my kids are older.  They are going to have to come to terms with the fact that mice FREAK ME OUT.  They are old enough to be cool with egg sandwiches twice in a row because the ingredients aren’t in the garage.  And they can handle my random violent shudders for the rest of the day and my refusal to go into the garage even after---well, you know---because THERE MIGHT BE MORE!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Who’s Your Daddy?

Since we live in this world, it is pretty easy to think that what we see and hear and encounter physically is all there is to life.  But living for here and now is really not in our own best interest.  So much of what may motivate us will pass away.  Although it may stretch us sacrificially, it really is worth it to make decisions with an eternal perspective.

We are actually reading a book about Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire main character, the guy who wouldn’t run on Sundays). He was a super fast runner who set all sorts of records. He made it to the Olympics for the 100 and 200 meter races, but both had either the main race or qualifying heats set for Sundays. He dropped out and ran in the 400 meter race—not at all anything he’d trained for. He won and set another record. It was a huge deal, because before those Olympics, the Scottish/British hadn’t ever gotten a medal in running before.

The people had been SO angry when he dropped out of his own races. They called him a traitor in several newspapers. Then when he won, he was a national hero. People carried him on a makeshift chair sedan through the streets. There were lunches, and banquets and encore races for a year. Someone could get drunk on that sort of admiration.

But he knew even before going to the Olympics that he was going to China as a missionary. He had purpose and an eye on eternity. Without that, his life of public opinion would have left him tossed about and crazy. But with God as his focus, giving up possible Olympic gold medals was something he was able to do with conviction.

I think he is a cool example of one who reaches worldly success without ever being ruled or confused by it. He had a good head on his shoulders and enjoyed the love people shared, but never forgot how quickly public opinion can change. Popularity was never his bread and butter. He feasted on the Bread of Life instead.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


My husband is reading a book that postulates life in this metaphor.  Believers are traveling a road.  Non-believers are on a balcony above the road, watching the travelers.  This simple image really captured my imagination. 

If unbelievers were ‘balconeers,’ one can understand why they may feel superior.  They are at rest, literally looking down on the believers.  To join them would actually call for a fall or tumble. How scary is that?  Why would anyone want to give up the shelter and rest of the balcony to walk on the dusty road to who-knows-where?  It is understandable that an unbeliever would resist.

As I continued to consider this picture, I could understand how unbelievers really only see portions of the Christian life.  They are really incapable of perceiving the whole picture unless they walk alongside the Christian.  The perspectives are so different, there is really little wonder why they have trouble relating to one another.

It also explains how the unbelievers can stand in judgment.  They can see passing travelers stumble.  They can see them dirty, bruised from falls, tired, hot, thirsty.  Let’s face it, no Christian walk is without stumbling blocks and we all are guilty of taking some serious jean-ripping spills.  The unbeliever stands aloft and wonders what on earth we are doing down there.

But from the perspective of the believer, there is so much more.  The balconeer’s view is so cripplingly limited.  But the traveler moves on.  There is a destination and purpose.  There are blessings along the way, adventures and lessons.  They may look up and see a balconeer.  That is a life literally going nowhere.  There is no purpose.  There is no destination.  The balconeer is stagnate.

Very interesting to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Honestly, we have had such a cruddy winter that it had been very difficult for me to not live in a fantasy-land of moving to someplace with a ‘real’ winter. January brought a big freeze that was too cold to snow.  Then February brought spring.  Spring!!  Ridiculous, I tell you!  It doesn’t help that it seems like everyplace else is getting more snow than they can handle. Texas was getting snow, for goodness sakes!

But finally, finally, we got our snow storm.  Oh, I just love it.  So many here can’t stand it, so I always struggle a little with tinges of guilt for being so giddy with the white stuff.  But I just can’t help it!  I love the snow!  I have shoveled several times a day, gone sledding with the kids and friends, staged a snow-ball fight in the back yard and even got some great exercise kicking the 2 feet of snow and ice off the trampoline.  I feel all glowy, like I am newly in love!

One of the many things I love about snow is how bright the night is.  I imagine I would feel the same way seeing those bioluminescent creatures that inhabit certain bodies of water.  God’s creation is just so breathtakingly magical!

the first night of snow, I sat on my bed looking out the window at the white night.  Have you ever really looked closely at bare trees covered in snow?  I delight in examining each branch with the brown on bottom and white on top.  The trees look like drawings, they are so intricate and perfect.  I mean, how can that happen naturally? 

But it does.  Snow falls into perfection, making perfect patters.  It is so soft, so quiet, so clean, so bright.  It takes my breath away and I am loving every minute of this snow storm!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Matter of the Heart

My husband and I are reading a book by Ravi Zacharias called The Grand Weaver.  He shares a notion that has presented itself time and again since I read it about a week ago.  King David was called a man after God’s heart.  But we all know what a sinner he was.  He committed adultery and murder.  He was ready to abandon his own child in order to cover up his sin of adultery—and when that failed, David chose the murder route.

But the fact remains that David was a man after God’s own heart.  How can that be?  What Ravi shares is that David deserves this noble distinction because of his own heart.  Yes, David sinned.  But David also remained in relationship with God and maintained a heart reachable by God.  That is the key.  When Nathan came to convict David of his sin, David receives it.  He repents without holding a shred of himself back from his Lord.

As you read his psalms, you can see the transparency and intimacy with which David lives in relationship with God.  He comes at God with whatever emotion, whatever thought.  No masks at all.  When David is frightened, joyful or expectant, he pours it out to God.  He is equally forthcoming when he is angry and feeling abandoned.  “Where are You?  Save me!”  My all time favorite is when David tells God, Don’t let me die because I won’t be able to praise you anymore!  I love it!!  How bold is that?

The other thing I notice when reading the psalms is that David doesn’t just come and dump everything on God and walk away.  No matter what notions he may have when he first approaches God, he ends in unfettered praise.  And how could he not?  How can you step into His presence and not be changed?  With the kids I compared it to walking into a freezer or an oven—either way, you will be feeling very differently coming out than when you went in!  How much more true it is with the Creator.

Pharaoh saw amazing things and was given very specific instructions.  But his heart was so hard.  Being in the presence of the Lord only further hardened him.  But if we have hearts that are inclined to God, we will be changed.  So David may open a song with rants and fear, but never fails to end with praise and faith.

The big lesson for me here is that we are not required to be sinless to live in concert with God.  We only need to be present.  We need to be soft and ready.  Our hearts are what matter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is the Bible boring?

Today in school, we read 1 Kings chapter four.  It begins with just lists of people who govern certain areas of the land.  Translation: boring.  When I finished the passage, I asked the kids why that would be included in the Bible and we had a great conversation about it. 

We remembered a story of a missionary who was translating the Bible into the language of the people she was serving.  An elder man had taken it upon himself to ‘adopt’ her as a way of protecting her.  But even with this investment, he had not become a believer.  It was only in seeing the genealogy in the book of Matthew that this dear man realized his ‘daughter’ had not come to share mythological stories with the people.  He was flabbergasted to see that there was a listing of real people that led from Adam to Jesus.  This is what brought his heart to acceptance of the Lord.

Remembering that, we postulated that perhaps the inclusion of passages that are just lists of people and places could be for the veracity of the Bible.  My husband is a lover of apologetics and these issues are very relevant to him.  He cares about the Bible being a reliable historical document.  His faith is solid, but he delights that there is logical evidence to defend it.

As we were talking, my sweet boy respectfully interjected.  He said that he really didn’t care.  He was so sincere in both his respectfulness and his apathy in regard to the lists and reasons for the lists in the Bible.  I had to laugh.  I admitted that apologetics and the long lists in the Bible didn’t really float my boat, either.  He and I both came to Jesus as kids and have been blessed with environments that haven’t demanded we defend that faith.

I explained that Daddy came from a very different background, so these topics are intensely important to him.  And God knew that would be the case.  God is reasonable.  God is loving.  And God is reachable.  I praise the Lord for those boring passages.  I praise the Lord for a husband who cares. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whew! I am back!

I had not intended to take nearly a month off from blogging, but that is certainly what happened!  How does time fly so swiftly?  I surely do not know. 

My husband was on vacation for the majority of the time, and I enjoyed traveling to see family.  But I have been home for weeks, and still could not get myself to get back to regular posting.  I actually make myself weary when I consider my own deplorable state of self-discipline, so I choose to not dwell.

One exciting thing I did while on break was write a twelve-week lesson plan I will carry out with our homeschool group.  I also hope to find a way to sell it.  I don’t know what the Lord has in store in regard to that particular aspect, but I am fully satisfied with anticipating the coming session.

I do love to write.  I can imagine doing this as a semi-career.  I have started a couple of writing endeavors in the past, but never saw it through—another manifestation of that pesky poor self-discipline, no doubt.

The current class writing is coming to an end, so I am working my way back to the regular writing here and at the KidsROCK blog site.  I am back!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hubby is 40!

My husband is 40 now, and we had a great party, thanks in large part to my sister.  She hosted and helped execute a Dominion theme.  If you haven’t played the card game Dominion, and you like games, I highly recommend this one.  There are expansions that my husband has just HAD to have that have hurt the checking account a bit, so try to enjoy with more restraint!trip to Katie's, Chinese New Year 032

So, we made a cake that looked like Dominion card.  For the birthday cards, my artist sister drew a Dominion card and made copies and the guests were invited to fill out one. I have photos, but somehow my camera got broken on the trip, so they aren’t highest quality.  Maybe you can click on them and zoom?

Some cherished friends made the trip to my sister’s house to join the celebration.  My dad and step-mom also swung by.  I am so thankful that we got to show my hero of a husband just how loved and special he is.

Chinese New Year and Brian's cards 005Chinese New Year and Brian's cards 006Chinese New Year and Brian's cards 007

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Daddy and his girl

Thanks to my wonderful moms being so flexible about the day of the cooking class last week, we were able to hustle down to my sister’s a day early. My husband and daughter, with our brother-in-law and niece, went to a Father Daughter dance for charity! It was so neat that they got to do this.

They got dressed up, went to dinner, then to the dance. Afterwards they ran through McDonalds for an ice cream, because apparently the dance had ice cream to offer, but the lines were too long. They got pictures taken at the dance, too. I am really looking forward to seeing them.

My husband said that he had a blast and loved watching our little girl having fun. Isn’t that cool?

My parents divorced when I was eight.  At that time, I was madly in love with my dad.  When my parents divorced, my dad came around just often enough to keep me off balance.  But I never felt loved nor accepted by him again.  I too often feel that I even now am chasing after his approval.

Because of my own daddy issues, I have watched most intently the relationship between my daughter and her daddy, especially since she turned eight.  I know that every day she has gotten with him is a day better than I got, and I just sing with my soul for joy.  Whatever struggles she may have, she exists in total affirmation of love from her father.  With him standing behind her, what can’t she face?