Friday, February 26, 2010


Did I have a great time in Arizona? I don't think I would go so far as to say it was great. Am I glad I went? Definitely. Thanks Sarah, for making it possible for me to go. My birthmom, Sherry, needed me there.

The travels went smoothly. Oh wait, no they didn't. My flight out of Little Rock was delayed, and delayed, and delayed again. I never found out why. I checked in with the gate attendant, and she confirmed me on a later flight from Dallas to Phoenix, in case I missed my connection. It gave me peace of mind because my flight from Little Rock landed in Dallas 3 minutes after my flight from Dallas to Phoenix was scheduled to depart. I got off the plane in Dallas, glad I would have a few minutes to use the potty and grab some dinner before getting over the the later flight. But then a fellow passenger who knew I was going to Phoenix grabbed me and told me the original flight was waiting for us. So I ran. And ran. And ran. Then I spotted one of those carts that takes older and disabled folks from gate to gate. At that point, I was pretty well disabled from running so hard. The driver took pity on me and drove me to the gate. I got on the plane and they closed the door behind me. No potty stop. No dinner. Bummer. A nice little old man gave me the potato chips his wife had packed for him because he knew I had not had a chance to eat. He was so nice, and those chips were good! Held me over until I arrived in Phoenix, on time after all that!

On Monday Sherry and I went up to her work and I met all her co-workers. She works with a very nice bunch of people. That evening we splurged. I took her out to dinner at her favorite Italian restaurant, where we stuffed ourselves with Garlic Shrimp Caesar Salad, Chicken Parmesan, and homemade pasta. Then we headed home and watched the Olympics together while consuming Ben & Jerry's ice cream at an alarming rate. She splurged  because she knew it would be the last meal she would feel like eating for a while. I splurged because I need to gain some more weight...yeah right! I'm pretty sure it was worth it, though.

Tuesday was chemo day. I was really apprehensive about being in a chemo office again. It has been 7 years since I was there with my mom, and I was afraid I would lose it. Thanks to everyone who prayed for me. I did not lose it...held it together quite well, really. The treatment took five hours, most of which she slept through. I did some reading, worked on the verses I am memorizing for Awana, and played Sudoku. She woke up shortly before it was time to leave. It was her 5th treatment out of 6!

That night was another Olympics night, which was frequently interrupted by the beginning of the chemo side effects: hot flashes, cold shakes, rashy skin, and nausea. That's why the trip was not great. I had forgotten how horribly helpless I feel when I watch someone I love suffering, and not being able to do anything about it. All I could do was quietly pray for her, and remind her that she only has one more treatment to go.

Wednesday was more of the same.We watched movies all day, and the Olympics at night. There were additional side effects that started throughout the day. Dry heaves, swollen eyes, body aches, constipation, etc. I am glad I was there, though. I didn't do anything because there was nothing for me to do. Just my presence was enough, though. She has such a great attitude about it all. She is terrified of needles, but took her shots and chemo like a champ. She hates being bald, but is able to joke about it. In fact, we joked a lot about everything while I was there. I am still amazed at how much laughing we did together.

Thursday morning we drove to the airport singing at the top of our lungs to 90's rock songs that were on the radio. And then I flew. It was a peaceful flight home, this time via Chicago. And now I'm back into the routine of life. It felt so good to hug my kids, and kiss my man. I enjoyed folding the 10 loads of laundry that Matt cycled for me while I was gone. Now I am anticipating going to pick up my girl from school in a few minutes.

Being around someone who is so sick really makes you appreciate your health. How thankful I am for my healthy body, and I am more motivated than ever to make wise choices when it comes to what I eat, and how I spend my time. Okay, I'm getting sidetracked here. I think it's time that I bring this post to a close. I'll leave you with a few photos from the trip.

The poison, as Sherry calls her chemo. These were the first four of eight different meds.

Sherry in the chemo chair

Sweet photo, terrible lighting.

Ever the sense of humor...I think it it awesome that a baldy woman has a license plate that says Afro!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

And I'm Off!

In three hours I will be taking off out of Little Rock, heading to Phoenix where I will spend 4 days with my birthmom, Sherry. She has breast cancer. I am going to be with her for her next chemo treatment on Tuesday, and to help her get through the first few awful days after her treatment.

Please pray that I will survive the flight with intact guts...and that the pizza I ate for lunch will not decide to escape from my stomach. Last time I flew to Phoenix the winds were dreadful and I barfed on the plane. How embarrassing! Lots of wind is expected this evening too...

Also pray that my time with Sherry will be sweet, with good memories made.

Adios until Thursday night!

This photo was taken (by me) when Sherry came to visit us in September.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When You Can See God's Hand

Is there anything more cool than seeing the hand of God working in the midst of life's details? Maybe I am seeing His hand because I've been spending a lot more time with God recently. Or maybe I am seeing His hand more because He is working in more obvious ways. I don't care why I can see it...I'm just glad I can.

One of the main reasons we are moving to Florida is that we firmly believe in the concepts our new ministry is working with. The most important thing in life is your relationship with Christ. All of life is shaped by that relationship. The fullness of your life is directly correlated with your view of God. Our new ministry is taking this crucial concept, and putting it into material that children can grasp, and that parents can teach their children. One of the cool projects we'll be working on is a video puppet blog, in which the puppet talks about happenings of daily life, and uses those situations to teach kids about the character of God.

A couple times each year, Matt and I have the privilege of getting to do chapel services for the Christian schools in our area. This morning, we did chapel for 4th-6th grade at one of the schools. As we planned what our presentation would be, we were both impressed that the most important thing would could communicate to those kids is that God and His Word are totally true and reliable, because God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. After much discussion, we prepared our program. We did two puppet skits, with Matt talking to the kids in between.

The first skit was interaction between Bradley the Bear puppet and me. Bradley was all flustered that he couldn't hibernate this year because he needed to watch the sun rise every day, and check the flowers in the meadow to make sure they were growing, and visit the river to make sure it was flowing correctly. Then I told Bradley the God takes care of those things, and He always has. We can trust God because He is completely true and reliable. He never changes.

The second skit was the first puppet blog Matt will be using when the blog goes online. It was a funny monologue done by Freddie, a little boy puppet. Freddie discusses how all around him, life is changing. His dad is having to work two jobs because he got a big pay cut at his old job. His mom is having to go spend some time with Grandma in Arizona because Grandma's health is deteriorating. Because of the family's financial struggles, Freddie is going to have to leave his Christian school next year. His life is in turmoil and he doesn't like all the change. But then he remembers a discussion he had with his Sunday school teacher--that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Because God never changes, Freddie can hold onto God and trust Him, even as everything in his world is changing. God and His Word are true, not matter what anyone else tries to tell him. We are doing this presentation again for the 1st-3rd graders. I'll try to remember to bring my video camera. If I do, I'll post the video here for you.

Here's where we saw God's hand in this. Matt had been working on his chapel plan for a week, but nothing was coming together. But when we sat down to discuss it, God gave this idea to me. We both had such peace about it, and then Matt's creative juices began to flow. He wrote the Freddie skit with no problem. Then this morning, as we were sitting behind the puppet stage, waiting for our turn to present, a couple of cool things happened. First of all, the kids sang the song "Voice of Truth," by Casting Crowns. I got all bawly and sniffly as I was listening to the words, realizing that the song was setting up for our presentation. "Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth." And then each grade recited their memory verse for the week. And wouldn't you know it, the 5th graders recited a verse from Hebrews that was part of the passage Matt had built the whole presentation around! Seriously?

It is so awesome to see how God brings details like that together. We didn't know the music teacher's plan for music in chapel today. We didn't know the verses the kids were learning. And the school staff did not know the theme of our presentation. Yet God worked it all together. It could not have been more perfect. Matt was able to share that with the kids, and he challenged them to listen to what is true, and to hold onto God in the midst of a changing world. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

It was SO COOL! And so affirming to us. This was yet another confirmation that we are on the path God has ordained for us. He has designed us to communicate truth to kids and their parents. He has gifted Matt to speak, and me to help him organize his thoughts and support his creativity. I keep welling up when I think of how amazingly it all fit together, and how ridiculously obvious God's hand and presence was this morning.

This whole deal has inspired me to be watching more carefully and intentionally for God at work in my life. Seeing Him like this is so incredible...I don't ever want to miss Him! How have you seen God's hand recently? Please share! I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fair Warning

I love each one of you followers of my blog, those faithful commenters. AndI don't want to lose you. I do want to give you fair warning though: The next few months are going to be crazy, and I won't be blogging as much as I usually do. My lack of activitiy here is already proof of that. I will do my best to blog at least once a week. But life is picking up stea right now, with everything we have to do to get ready for our move. Add in a bunch of travel in the next few months, and my poor blog is taking a back seat.

In case I don't get a chance to post before Sunday, I am flying out Sunday evening for a week in Phoenix. My sweet birthmom lives there, and she is in the midst of chemo treatments for breast cancer. I am going out to be with her for her treatment. Would you pray for safe travels for me (I puked in the plane on my last trip to Phoenix...)? I am flying through Chicago on my return trip. Chicago. In February. Yugh. Also, pray that my time with Sherry will be productive and an encouragement to her.

Thanks, y'all! You really are a bright spot in my life. Oh, and Tara, I'm coming to North Carolina at the end of March!!! If possible, we must meet for lunch!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This Is My Weekend

I really enjoy weekends that have nothing on the calendar that involves leaving the house (except for church, which is a given). On my schedule for this weekend:


1. Stage the upstairs. My sis-in-law moved out of our house and into her own apartment this week. Now it's time to rearrange furniture and get this house back to its normal family-of-four state.

2. Complete the gift I'm making for Matt for Valentine's Day. It should have been finished today, but I majorly messed up on part of it, and now I have to go back and fix it. I don't believe in spending a lot of money on this very commercial holiday. Instead, I always try to make something special for my honey, and spend no more than $10 on each child. This year's project is very simple, and should be very meaningful for him. Since he reads my blog, you'll have to wait until Monday to hear what it is.

3. Sand and prime the bathroom cabinets in both upstairs bathrooms.

4. Paint the living room baseboards so Matt can put them up.

5. Encourage Matt to finish our bathroom tile so he can start the tile in the other bathroom. We have two families coming to look at the house next week, so time is of the essence.

6. Make dinner for some friends who just had a new baby.


1. After eating heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries, whipped cream, and red sprinkles, we will go to church. First hour Sunday School, then work in Pepper's class second hour. We work once every five weeks.

2. Make poppyseed chicken to eat for lunch, and give our small gifts to the kids. Snapper is getting a $5 craft kit, a $1 box of chocolates, a new chapstick, and a red heart balloon. Pepper is getting a $5 tin Buzz Lightyear lunch box (because I'm tired of watching him carry his sister's Sleeping Beauty lunchbox), a new chapstick, a Toy Story Pez dispenser, and a silver balloon. Both kids will get love notes from Mommy and Daddy, too.

3. Paint my nails blue and yellow, tie my blue and yellow ribbons on my ponytail, put on my Jimmie Johnson pants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, and hat. Get cozy on the couch with a cold Coke Zero and my Jimmie Johnson blanket. Sit like a log on the couch for 4+ hours and scream for Jimmie Johnson as he kicks off NASCAR season in the Daytona 500.

4. Make a brief appearance at community group, if my race ends early enough. This is the one race that I insist on watching live.

5. Put the children to bed.

6. Cook dinner with my hubby, and enjoy a quiet, candlelight meal in our pretty kitchen. We have spent Valentine's Day this way for the last 2 years, and it is the best way to go. This year we are having grilled salmon with dijon cream sauce, steamed artichokes with garlic aioli sauce, garlic mashed red potatoes, a fruit (strawberries and grapes) and cheese plate, and dessert (yet to be decided). We exchange our small gifts after dinner, and spend focused time talking about us. Not about the kids. Not about work. About Matt and me. Love it!

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let It Snow!!!

Orlando doesn't get snow. Orlando's idea of winter is not my idea of winter. I love winter, just so you know, and losing winter is one of the things I'm most sad about when it comes to our move. So back in December, I had a talk with God. I asked Him to give us one really good snowfall this winter, since the chances of us getting snow in Orlando are extremely slim. Now whether the 7 inches of snow in my yard are God personally answering my prayer, or just another part of the odd weather pattern we've had the last 8 months, I don't know. But I don't care! For several hours on Monday, I watched ginormous snowflakes floating down from the sky, and turning the ugly brown yard all sparkly and white. These photos were taken before the snow got deep, but you get the idea.

Snapper and the neighborhood kids went crazy in the snow, sledding down the street and the steepest yards, building snowmen, and even jumping on the snow-covered trampoline in one of the back yards.

Pepper didn't last very long outside. He hates to be cold. He did last longer than usual though, because he had the great idea of wearing his lion costume! It is thick fleece, so he was nice and toasty for a whole 5 minutes, and so very adorable.

A few of our neighbors brought their little dogs out into the cul-de-sac, and I had to take my camera because the pups were so cute in the snow!

Snapper succeeded in soaking several complete outfits, and every pair of gloves she and I own. When she came in, we made snow ice cream using a recipe posted on Facebook by my friend Julie. It was such fun, and the ice cream was tasty!

All the schools have been closed since Monday, as has Matt's office. So we have been stuck at home...which is just fine with me! Matt has to go back to work today, though, and we are really going to miss him. *Sniff*

In the last few days, Matt and I have gotten a lot accomplished toward having our house market-ready. Most of the master bathroom tile is in! All the baseboards, doors, and trim in the house have been scrubbed. We completely refreshed our kitchen! Matt painted the kitchen, while I scrubbed and touched up the cabinets, wainscoting, and chair rail. I also cleaned out the cabinets, scrubbed the windows and sills, and cleaned the heater registers.

We have been very productive, and I have a lovely home and very sore arms to show for it. Matt needs to finish the tile in our bathroom, do all the tile in the other upstairs bathroom, and tile the laundryroom. He also needs to paint our front door and the shutters. I need to paint the bathroom cabinets and the trim on the stairs, and do general cleaning. Then the house will be ready! Hooray! This photo shows the bathroom tile in progress. Can't wait for it to be done!

I supposed that's a pretty good update for right now. I don't really have a lot else to say. Oh! I do have a great recipe to share, though. Matt and I have been working on eating as healthy as possible. That means trying to have at least 2 dinners per week meat-free. Matt is a meat person, so creating tasty, vegetarian meals is a good challenge for me. Yesterday I succeeded, and here's the recipe! It is one I created myself, so I can take full credit for this tremendous success. Even Snapper loved it and begged me to make it again. Pepper wouldn't touch it, but that's no surprise. Some days he won't even touch pizza...Anyhoo, the flavors in this dish were so rich and satisfying that neither one of us missed the meat! Yummy, yummy! I will be making it again very soon.

Mexican Pasta

Prepare 4 servings of whole wheat rotini according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta is cooking, chop:
2 crookneck squash
1 zucchini
12 asparagus spears
1/2 an onion

In a skillet, cook for 2 minutes:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. (of 4 cloves) minced garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. sea salt

Add chopped onion and brown.
Add remaining chopped veggies and 2 oz. chopped mild green chiles.
Cover and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
Add 1 cup grape tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes more.

Serve veggies over whole wheat rotini.