April 29, 2009

My Returning Champ

Last Friday night was the Relay for Life Walk in Abilene. I forget each year how emotional it is to be a part of the energy at the field. So many people celebrating, so many people walking with tears in their eyes for their loved one's and friends who fought cancer, some to go on and fight other battles, some cancer would be the final battle.

This is the fourth year Jack has walked but the second year that Jack has walked as a full-fledged survivor. He walked up to the Survivor table to get his t-shirt and sash and told the volunteer, "I'm back, I'm a returning champ."

OH YES YOU ARE MY STRONG YOUNG MAN.

I walked the survivors lap thinking about the blessings of Jack's recovery, the blessings of the cancer itself. I thought about Brendon Coates whose battle on this earth ended with cancer, but he lives on in glory with our Sweet Jesus by his side. I thought about Landry who is in her first week of radiation at M.D. Anderson in Houston. I thought about all the children who we have met through the chemo sessions, Gracie, Alejandra, Austin and Destiny,.. here in Abilene. There is a world that opened up with Jack's cancer, a world I knew nothing about, nor did I really know existed. A world of daily living...living for the day you are in, a world of gratitude and thankfulness because your child woke another day, a world where the jumbled living becomes blatantly clear. The blessing of enlightenment of what REALLY matters...is one I continue to learn from and cherish. A world where things that were once so complicated and complex boil down to loving those around you with joy and jubilation, sharing a smile and holding a hand are the more precious gifts than anything on this earth. I am grateful to Jesus for the transformation of my faith, for His faithfulness when I wasn't feeling very faithful to Him.

To be able to hold my son's hand during the walk with my husband holding his other hand felt as close to heaven here on earth to me.





Getaway Suggestions???!!!

Rob and I are planning a quick getaway in May. I had Fredericksburg in mind. Apparently Fredericksburg in May is the place to be. There is one hotel with that weekend open and apparently the walls are so thin that you can hear your neighbors entire conversation...not really loving the idea of that, thank you very much.

All the B&B's are booked.

We are open to going anywhere, but want to keep it within a 5 hour drive at the very most. Any suggestions??

April 28, 2009

I have fallen for Durga! She is so precious.

If you are not following the blogs of the Compassion International Bloggers you are missing out! I just read Angie Smith's blog about her "new son," that she met today. My heart is so touched to hear the stories, to hear stories of what my money is doing for the poorest of the poor. If you are like me you have become somewhat cynical to many causes. I might think that my money is just not enough to help, I might think that it never really gets to the kids, or sometimes I have thought I might not be able to afford the monthly payment in a year...who knows. (Shame on me I need to know that I can do without whatever I need to in order to address my last concern, I have plenty to share.)

I think one of the most valuable gifts we as readers get from the Compassion International Bloggers is that they see what is happening with our money, and their money. They are all sponsors of Compassion kids. Yesterday I found the most precious little girl to sponsor. We sponsor Stella from Uganda and have since Preacher Phil went over to Uganda last year as a Compassion Blogger. I knew that India was the home to one of my favorite people who walked the earth, Mother Teresa. I have always been drawn to her, she lived a simple life of service, that is my dream too. So I knew that before the week was up I would find a child from her home country to sponsor. There was a reason that Mother Teresa started her Missions of Charity in Calcutta, it is filled with the poorest of the poor. The nuns to this day travel through the streets to pick up the dying off the street so they can die in dignity, in a clean cot with people loving them.

I knew that I would give my $32 to a child in that country in hopes that he or she would have a different outcome than being picked up off the streets to die.

I decided to look through the handicapped children, and I found her.



Her name is Durga Deepak Vikey and she is 7 years old. She is deaf and mute. She doesn't go to school, she is one of 5 kids, and she only has a mother, her father passed away. She will have a place to go now each day when her mother is gone. I don't know why she isn't in school, I can only imagine it is because she is deaf and mute.

Anyway I think she is absolutely fabulous and I love her immensely and I can't wait to send her a letter and tell her just that.

To learn more about sponsoring a child with Compassion International or read the blogs of all the bloggers there right now click here.

April 27, 2009

Book Club 1st Gathering Soon

Just following up with the latest info on the Taste and See Book Club. I wrote several days ago that the book will be The Cloister Walk. Our first night we will need to have through page 107 read. Mark what you would like to discuss, what you liked, and what you didn't like. It should be fun. It is not too late for any woman in the Abilene area to sign up. Just leave me a comment if you would like more info.

Our first meeting will be May 5th at 7:30pm at Southern Hills Church of Christ.

Compassion in India

Monday. Compassion International has sent another group of bloggers overseas, this time to India to see what an impact Compassion International is having on the children's lives who are being sponsored. Many familiar names are over there, several of the blogs that I visit pretty regularly. All are listed on the India Trip page on Compassion here.


Angie Smith (Bring The Rain and married to one of the band members in Selah), Anne Jackson (Flowerdust.net), Melissa Fitzpatrick (Beth Moore's daughter, LPM Blog) were the names I was familiar with. This has been a difficult couple of days with the travel and apparently there is record heat in India right now, they stepped off the plane to 120 degree heat. Some are having tummy troubles and some completely overwhelmed, please join me in prayer for them as they journey through this next week sharing their experiences and most importantly sharing the children, their faces, smiles, hardships and blessings.

The first thing the bloggers did was to visit Mother Teresa's grave and then to her dwelling. Of course that just made me cry. We sponsor Stella Akitini from Uganda but I am certain that I will add another child to our list by the time this week is out. $32 changes the life of a child, school, medicine, programs for them to be involved in. One of the video's on Anne Jackson's blog at Flowerdust.net showed a precious little boy who had never had a dream for himself. The tour guide told the bloggers that children in India don't have any dreams, it is something that is not even on their radar. Compassion gives the children the ability to have a dream.

Here is an exert from Angie Smith's blog.

We went to the first Compassion project today and I can't begin to tell you how it affected me. I have been mulling this post over, praying, asking the Lord to give me the words I can't find. There are so many stories I want to share, so many things God allowed me to experience, and it has challenged me in a beautiful way.

It has been really easy for me to stay out of the water in a lot of ways, and my own cynicism has kept me safe there. But today, as we stood in a house made of bamboo and clay bricks and watched a woman tell us how Compassion had changed their lives, something in my soul settled.

As we left the second house, I got a couple pictures of the family and I fought back tears as her father adjusted her name tag to make sure her Compassion information was showing.

She had a name.

Compassion International is more than what I imagined. More than my mind would have let me believe. More than I can express to you in this moment of exhaustion. I can't wait to share stories of the people we meet and some of the things we have done, but tonight (or, morning? afternoon?), I will leave you with this image of the before and after. (to see the image click over to her blog)



For more information or to sponsor a child click here.

April 26, 2009

WATS Day 2009

WATS Day - We Are The Sermon Day. Each year our church takes on a task so large that only God can make it happen. Houses are painted, yards mowed, tree's trimmed, trash halled. The numbers are staggering on how much will have gotten done today. It is one of those days that God allows us to participate with Him in a big way for the service of His people. Our group helped a nice woman with the outside of her home. Here are some pics to tell the story.

Here is a pic of my grandfather. Some people worked on World Bible School and Shut In Projects at our church for WATS Day.


My Hubby painting the front of the house.


Jack doing a great job of painting the side of the house.




My daughter Sophie and her best buddy Audrey were painting the porch.


Jack again, in one of his favorite caps that was signed by all the Abilene Police for him.


Love this pic of Kenny in the bed of Jim's truck. He had tree limb's surrounding him.


Jack and his paint covered hands.


Derek and Kenny


Denise and Christy were raking up leaves.


Big smile from Jim our fearless project manager who did a great job once again. Jim's main job that he took on today was to put up a chain link fence.


Abbie painting the side of the house.


The cool shirts that we could buy to show the theme message for the day. The song God of This City by the Blue Tree's was the inspiration. Great story behind that song.


The homeowner LOVED frogs. They were speckled all around her yard. I too love frogs so I had to take a couple of pics.





The amazing Soprano Haley B. who is a recent auntie for the first time. She was hanging on to Denise's truck while Denise was driving. This image along with the next couple were taken at the recycling center where all the "stuff" goes.


Derek helping unload all the tree limbs.


Denise has great expressions, I always love to take pics of her. Here she is hollering outside her window telling all the tree limb removers to be careful not to scratch Jim's truck ; )


Little Landry Robinson who we are praying for was even represented by her specially designed T-shirt being worn by a Landry fan here.


Christy and the homeowner swinging together. The homeowner loved being outside with all of us. She was precious.


Jack with his goggles on. He has no color in this pic because he had cut his finger pretty good a bit earlier and never really got over the queasy feeling.


Look at the bike Sophie is standing next to.


Now my favorite pics. By the end Denise and I were getting a bit delirious. Here Denise is pondering her next task.

April 22, 2009

A Great Devotional Book

For my birthday my friend Karene gave me a WONDERFUL book. I am including it as part of my daily devotion. I am reading a chapter from James in my NIV/Message bible. I love to read both translations side by side as it helps me to really take in what is being said in two different sets of words, but the same focus.

Each day I read a section from "Renovation of the Heart In Daily Practice", by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson. If I remember correctly Renovation of the Heart was one of the required reading books in the Spiritual Formation Class I took at ACU. I haven't read it yet, but will for sure get to it soon.

Karene's small group on Wednesday night went through this book together and she knew I would love it and I do. Because it is a Daily Practice book the amount you read each day is minimal, about two pages, but it gives you a direction for your day a heightened awareness of where God is transforming your heart, or where I need to be open to allow it to happen. Here is an exert from page 16.

"If our insides are renovated, what comes out of us will bring about peace and righteousness. We won't have to try to love. Unloving thoughts and actions simply won't occur to us, just as loving ones will begin to spring up without our awareness. We'll smile at an enemy automatically. It won't occur to us to argue. Instead, we'll pray inwardly for the disagreeable person in front of us. To cooperate with public greed or dishonesty will offend us to the core, and we'll find ourselves unable to do it."

Then during the wrap up at the end it says if this scares you, then admit that to God. Will I get my needs met? Will I be walked on? If you have these fears, admit them to God and ask him for courage. Plead with God to change you on the inside. Picture yourself as one through whom "justice {can} roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Amos 5:24

O Father, transform me to humble myself in all occasions and be your instrument of peace and love.

April 21, 2009

A Colorful Walk and a Metallic Green Bee

I went for a walk yesterday to take a break from work on my computer. I was about 5 minutes into my walk when I found myself looking at all the beautiful colors along the side of the road. I decided to head back and grab my camera to carry along with me. I don't know the names of many of these plants, but they sure are beautiful to look at. On my walk back I stopped to look at the tall red ball flowers, which are by far my favorites. They are so odd and so beautiful at the same time. On the top of one of the flowers was a metallic green bee. I googled "green bee" and found other images on line, but couldn't find out why this bee was green. It was beautiful and I love that the green bee was on a red flower. Made for a great picture. I didn't adjust saturation in any of these images, I added a bit of contrast but that is all. Click on the images to make them a bit larger.
















April 20, 2009

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris


Decided on a book for the Taste And See Book Club for women. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.

ACU is hosting Kathleen Norris during Summit this year. So I decided it would be a great opportunity to read her work before she presents. The three books that jumped out at me seem to have been read by so many of us that I thought something a bit more fresh would be a good choice. Our first Taste and See Book Club will be May 5th at 7:30pm at Southern Hills Church on Buffalo Gap. All women are invited.

I just ordered my book on Amazon from the used dept. I did pay for expedited shipping but even with that the book was $7.98, several were being sold for .01 plus shipping. I thought that the used book shop in California that guarantee's next day shipping would be a good choice, so I paid a whole whopping .99 cents then extra for a quick ship. I am sure that most of the local book shops carry the book, Lifeway, Mardel's, ACU bookstore. Call before you go to make sure they carry it. Once I receive the book in the mail I will get the reading schedule up and posted.

The book has an over all review of 4 stars and a bit more.

Here is one review from the Amazon website regarding the book.

"Even most christians today seem to find the idea of the monastery archaic, extreme and unappealing. Here, Ms Norris, a hesitant believer, makes the convent seem appealing, beautiful and full of wisdom.
Once you get past the gimmick - a modern poet finding centering in a monastery - there is still much to like about this book. It is a combination of a lot of things - a painfully personal journal, a catalog of discoveries and musings, a polished essay on laundry that was published in the New Yorker, and several brilliant pieces that stand as academic writing, ready for a feminist publication or academic journal.

I think the latter were my favorite. It is informative and enjoyable to find Ms. Norris taking on the virgin martyrs, looking at catholic history and practice with a modern feminist eye, and finding much to like, and much to weep over. Another similar essay comparing the role of biblical prophets and modern day poets (both dwellers on the "margin" of society, yet deeply necessary to that society) is also excellent.

Norris' respect for the Word is wonderful, as well. She writes much and often about the poetry of the Bible - psalms, Jeremiah - and how they fit and fill her life. She brings new life to what, for many of us, have been wrongly dead words.

Her reflections on the monastery are good. She gives monks and nuns an earthy reality, talking about their quirks, their sense of humor, their doubts and struggles as well as their achievements, discipline, and success. She spends a fair amount of time digging into the heritage and history of monasticism and christianity - apparently she is reading Christian classics as she is living at the monastery - and I learned much about ancient monks, martyrs, and saints.

There is much wisdom in this book, and I appreciate Kathleen Norris' awareness and poet's sensibility. It reveals a richness in the Christian tradition that I gladly and happily claim as a follower of Jesus. It's not all WWJD bracelets and "Left Behind" novels."

April 19, 2009

State of Play Movie Review

Rob and I went to see State of Play last night. Starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck. It seems like Russell Crowe is in most of my favorite movies, topping the list...Gladiator. State of Play was an excellent movie, a bit of a thriller that made me jump and cover my eyes a couple of times. Russell Crowe is a journalist for a major newspaper and Ben Affleck's character is a congressman, who was also a college roommate to Crowe. One of the research assistants to Ben Affleck's character was murdered in the beginning of the movie and the rest of the movie is trying to uncover who was behind it.

Helen Mirin played the editor of the newspaper and Robin Wright Penn plays Ben Affleck's wife. Both of these women are great performers and both were great additions to the movie. I wont go into the plot too much because there are alot of twists and turns and I don't want to give anything away. But you will want to take your thinking cap with you just to put it all together.

Not having anything to do with the script was the slightly odd choice of casting. All acted well, but Ben was an odd choice for the roll because he was so much younger than his college roomie and his wife. But like I said the movie was great, just an odd choice of casting.

I loved this movie, if you see it I hope you love it too!

Now, let's talk about Gladiator...did I already say that is my favorite movie? A couple favorite Maximus lines...

I knew a man once who said, "Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

Good night and Good luck.
; )

April 17, 2009

Refresh Bloopers

Stumbled on this tonight when I was on You Tube checking out some of the very interesting comments on the Stethescope Video. Vann mentioned this on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. I hope it's o.k. to post this Stephen, I might be letting the cat out of the bag before y'all show it at church some Sunday. Enjoy Vann Conwell and Ricky Pruitt, two of our ministers welcoming people to the refresh service.

Taste and See Book Club

I am excited to announce the Taste And See Book Club!!

Last summer I hosted a small group of women in my home for a book club discussion on a wonderful book. I had many women after the fact say they would have loved to join in the discussion.

We finished our Esther Bible study and now we have a couple of months, until June 12th that is, when our Summer Bible Study will start. During the interim I thought it would be fun to host a book club.

We will meet in the campus room up at Southern Hills. The Book Club will start on May 5th, then we will meet every other week for a total of 3 times together. The dates are: May 5, May 19, June 2.

The Taste and See relates to two different aspects of the Book Club, first and foremost God tells us to taste and see that He is good, our book that is chosen will certainly have God in it. Whether it is a Christian living, an autobiographical book, God's masterpiece of His workmanship will be a big part of the book. Then secondly, taste and see all sorts of yummy treats that each person will contribute to the group. Appetizers, sweet or savery, desserts, salads....whateva! It could even be a bag of M&M's if you are not one for kitchen duty.

Time....I tried to pick a time that we women could get there, there will not be child care provided, so I thought after we feed our crews, then we can leave them with Dad or a babysitter and join up for 90 minutes of fun. So time...7:30pm.

Book club starts May 5th, 7:30 pm at Southern Hills Church of Christ.

Who is invited: All women.

What book? I am open to suggestions, the first three books that came to mind were Same Kind of Different As Me, The Shack, and Walking With God. The book club discussion was on the latter last summer and it was amazing, the discussion was rich and God was certainly present. Do you have a favorite? I want something that would appeal to young, old, married, single, something not too long as we don't want to burden anyone with heavy duty time issues to finish the book. What do you think?

God the Faithful

I just laid my pen down as I finished the last lesson in the study of Esther. Tears have fallen and I have thanked God over and over for this book. The book of Esther is a wonderful story, Queen Esther draws in little girls and big girls alike, we are all taken by her beauty and personality that wins favor each way she turns. I can remember being a little girl and wishing I would be a princess, hoping that I could live in a castle and wear beautiful clothes, to be Queen Esther. Now that I have spent months in study of Esther I adore her even more. Not for her beauty, not for her castle, but for her ability to be brave when called upon. Brave when she didn't think she could be brave. The true love story in Esther is not between Esther and Xerxes, but between God and His people who had all but forgotten Him. God's name is not written once in Esther. The Jews in the book of Esther blended in with the other people of their cities, nothing about them was notably different than their neighbors. Esther was made queen and no one even knew her heritage, she looked like all the other pretty young ladies. But the story of Esther is about God's faithfulness to His nation.

The story of Queen Esther shows itself in my life, God was faithful to me when I did not deserve it. He was faithful to me when I never praised His name, but even sickeningly used it as a curse. God forgave me for turning away. He wasn't even ugly to me when I returned, He rejoiced with me. I am sure that this applies to many, most or all of God's people in one degree or another. We serve a God of redemption who loves to turn our story around.

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I love this paragraph in the last lesson of Esther:

"One day on the hillside of the New Jerusalem, surrounded by a crowd of glad hearers, the divine Narrator will tell the story of one woman's life. It will not be Esther's. It will not be your teacher's. It will be yours.
The story will begin something like this: 'Once upon a time, in the days of the great and glorious Jesus, King of the vast empire of heaven and earth, there was a little girl who thought she was forgotten. Her name was ____________ but the king called her _____________. This is the story of how she won His favor.' And with all the drama and emotion a great story teller can muster, the Rabbi will read the congregation your whole Megillah. The listeners will groan. Bite their nails with suspense. It will be a raucous affair. With every mention of the villain's name, the crowd will heckle and jeer. Then at the height of the story, when hope seems lost and her life and loves most threatened, He will say these words to the crowd: "But if she'd only known, she had come to the royal position for such a time as this!'" By faith alone, to her face she will fall...then to her feet she will rise, ready to do what deliverance demands. Then the Rabbi will quote her resolve: 'And if I perish, I perish' and the crowd will stand and cheer! For what if she does perish? Is that the worst this world's wicked Haman can threaten? On the day that she does, this is what will happen: She will put on her royal robes and stand in the inner court of the palace, in front of the King's hall. The King will be sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he sees his queen standing in the court, he will be pleased with her and hold out to her the gold scepter that is in his hand. And she will approach. And cast her crown at His feet.

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes" (Ps. 18:24, The Message).

Amen and Amen.

April 16, 2009

Raffle Tickets for Landry - Outback Steakhouse

This note was emailed to me tonight. What a great way to support the Robinsons during this time.
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Outback Steakhouse is doing a fundraiser for the Robinson family. They have nothing to gain from it...they just also have a little boy in kindergarten at Wylie and wanted to help. (owners are Stephanie and Jeff Hood).

They are going to be selling $10 raffle tickets for the prize of a backyard cookout for 20 people, of course catered by Outback. So, if you are wanting to help out Landry but don't know how....go by Outback and buy a raffle ticket!!

All the money will go directly to the Robinsons. Oh and if you don't know who I'm talking about....quick summary- Landry is a 6 yr old kindergartener at Wylie who was diagnosed with a brain tumor 4 weeks ago. She had a successful surgery and they removed 99% of the tumor but is headed to Houston to start radiation and continued therapy.

I'm sure you can all imagine the incredible financial burden this would be on a family....

Thanks for your support and prayers....pass it on!!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

What's for dinner tonight? Cool, rainy day always makes me want soup. So tonight we are having Chicken Tortilla Soup. It's a pretty healthy soup, depending on how many tortilla chips you add. It is YUMMY!

Oreo The Naughty Hamster

Tomorrow is the last lesson on Esther by Beth Moore. It has been a great study and has blessed many. I look forward to our Summer Daytime Study which will be a 6 week study from the Deeper Still Conference last year. The lessons are brought by Priscilla Shirer, Kay Arthur and Beth Moore. The study is based on King David. I asked for the audio cd's on these lessons for Christmas and have listened to them several times. It is an excellent study.

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I ordered my first Chicago Cub's shirt this week. My husband was VERY pleased. I can't wait to receive it and start wearing it.
Rob's dad sent Rob and Derek the new Cutler Jersey yesterday. They each put them on immediately and wore them to church last night. They are HAPPY Campers.

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Now to the case of the Naughty Hamster. I have spoken of our little rodent, I mean hamster on here before. My kids used their own money to buy the original cage, hamster, bedding and food. I gave into their longing for a little critter. Oreo has been with us what seems like atleast a year, probably close to it. We are on our 3rd cage. The first fell a part, the wheel broke and Oreo needed his exercise. After a month or two managing a broken cage Rob went to the Pet Shop and purchased a new cage. It was metal and there is no way that Oreo was going to nibble through metal. The problem with that cage was that it had no real covering on the sides, so being the smart Hamster that Oreo is, why would he want to mess up his cage when it was so easy to use the facilities outside the cage, once I figured that out I quickly went back to the Pet Shop and purchased a cage with sides all around. I thought I had finally found the answer.

At this point Oreo is secure and firm in Jack's heart. The rest of us would be good with Oreo living the dream, setting him free in the country. He would love it I am sure. But because Jack is emotionally attached to Oreo we are trying to make our cohabitation work with the nibbling hamster.

Over the last week we noticed that Oreo had some extra bedding in his cage. None of us had spoken about this out loud, but all noticed. I thought Jack had set a paper to close to the cage and Oreo had pulled it in and made it part of his bed. Last night Rob calls me into the bathroom to look in the tub, as this is where Oreo goes at night so we can close the door and it cuts down on the nocturnal noise that keeps us all awake. Rob shows me that Oreo is out of his cage, roaming around in the bathtub and chewing on our shower curtain. Apparently Oreo has figured out how to open the latch on the top level of his cage, wandering out to the tub, searching for nesting materials - our shower curtain. This has been going on for over a week but we just figured it out. I think the funniest part is that Oreo finds his way back to the top of his 3 level cage which is very tall in comparison to a hamster, opens the lid with his nose and goes back to sleep once all his shinanagans is finished for the night. We wake up and put him back in the boys room each morning not knowing what he has been up to. So now we have the top hatch taped. Here are some pics of this naughty little guy.

A Nibbled Shower Curtain


The Product of the Nibbling


Here is the lower level of the cage. We have had to tape over the hole Oreo has gnawed away. There is almost more tape than plastic on the cage now.


Now the Critter himself. Oreo...the Naughty Hamster.