Friday, August 29, 2008

It just keeps getting better I am *totally* enjoying Plan B.

It got even better after I wrote this post. My sis-in-law and our little nephew were in town, so they stopped by to see John (he's such the celebrity these days!). Then our niece Laura came over too and everyone stayed for dinner.

And yes, the dinner was delish! Oh...and dessert? Rande got the fire pit going and we roasted marshmallows for s'mores.

Poor Troy accidentally touched the outside of the fire pit and burned his little hand. Thankfully the quick thinking of firefighter Duppa' Di (grandpa) saved him from getting a blister.

It was a perfect evening to spend out under the desert night sky. We don't have street lights, so the sky is dark and the stars bright--it's beautiful!

And this was today--three guys, three computers. Rande got a new laptop, which means he's not out of the loop anymore. This makes him happy. : )

Ashleigh and John decided to stay an extra day, so they are here with me tonight while Zach and Rande are at the youth rally. We are eating popcorn and chocolate. So much for that healthy eating, huh? I know. But somebody has to eat the leftover chocolate from the s'mores last night right?

Hoping y'all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Plan B

See this sweetness? This is what I've been snuggling with this morning.

After a breakfast of homemade blueberry pancakes, baby Merritt needed a bath...and then it was nap time with the smell of cucumber-melon baby wash lingering on his sweet baby skin.

His Grammie was more than willing to sing and hold him close until he fell asleep (which only took about a minute). But then I didn't want to lay him down. So I just held him, snuggled close and breathed in all his baby sweetness.

Of course until I decided to take his picture. Then I had to lay him down. : )

So if you've been reading my last few posts, then you know I've been busy getting ready for the upcoming school year--for Zach and for our homeschool group. We'd been planning a dinner for the parents to go over paperwork, field trips, ect...

Well. I found out Tuesday night--and I still don't know exactly all the details of what happened--that there was a youth group event scheduled for the same night as the dinner (tomorrow night). I say it was "scheduled" but it was more of a last minute thing and not many people knew about it--including Zach.

After a few phone calls and emails, it became apparent we were going to have to cancel the dinner because some of the teens who were going to be caring for youngin's while we had our dinner/meeting--were now going to the youth rally.

Like I said, I'm not sure of all the behind the scene details--and that's ok. Things happen and at this point it doesn't matter. Because if there is one thing I've learned being the wife of a firefighter, is that when "things" happen and plans change (and in our household they often do) we can either be mad or go with the flow. Over the years we've learned it's better just to go with the flow, because there's always Plan B. : )

So our Plan B is that we are going to try to get all of us homeschool mom's together one day next week to take care of necessary paperwork. And now that we aren't having the homeschool group dinner tomorrow night, John, Ashleigh and the boys decided to come up and stay for a few days. It's wonderful having John home after his tour in Iraq and all of us being together again. We missed him so much!

Rande just got through making some absolutely delicious guacamole and after Troy wakes up from his nap, we're all heading out to the pool. Dinner tonight is grilled salmon, petite green beans, parmesan couscous and a green salad.

Plan B sounds pretty good, don't you think?! : )

Blessings to you all on this happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bluegrassin' in southern California...

This past weekend we headed south to attend one of our favorite bluegrass festivals--Summergrass. We usually take our camper, but this year we stayed at Ashleigh and John's because they only live about 10 minutes away from the venue and with gas prices the way they are--it just made sense to leave the ol' camper at home.

Most people are surprised to know that there is a fairly large bluegrass community in California, especially in the San Diego area and in northern California. You just wouldn't think that would ya? But see? See the surfboards in front of the stage? This is bluegrass in southern Cali! : )
That boy can sure play the fiddle!

And here is the rest of the band--The Infamous Stringdusters--all the way from Nashville. We love these guys!

This is the one and only picture I got of my of boy playing his fiddle (middle, navy t-shirt) and his friend John (white t-shirt) during a jam Saturday night. Such a bummer it turned out blurry--but it's a very tricky thing trying to take a picture of your teenage son and his friends while they are jamming. It's *totally* not cool. : )

Aww, but look at this cute face! He's ok with me taking his picture.
After church on Sunday we headed back to the festival and Troy joined us.

He was intently listening and watching a band while hanging out with his Duppa' Di (grandpa)

But after a while there were more interesting things to do--like playing on the playground.

And watching all the big kids, wishing he was big too...

But his Grammie is glad he's not so big yet. It will happen soon enough.

Because look at these guys--especially the one in the watermelon colored shirt. When did he get so big? I am just sure it was yesterday he was little like his nephew. And today he's 17 and a senior in high school. ::sniff::

Of course there had to be some playing in the dirt too--just because.

And I like to keep it real around here, so I had to show you this. Yep, that's my grandson. Telling me, "No more pictures!" Don't let all that cuteness fool you. : )

Oh! And this woman won the fiddle in a raffle. She claimed her prize and then went to town on that thing! She was amazing!

It was a really good weekend. I got to hang out with family and good friends--and of course hear great bluegrass music. And as always--we love visiting Ashleigh and John's church when we are in town, so that was the icing on the cake. : )

I've got a busy week...still getting ready for our upcoming homeschool group meeting, as well as our own school year. But it's good. It's all good.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We interrupt this bloggy break...

for an important announcement.

Actually it's not really an announcement. It's more like a testimony of God's faithfulness, His grace and His goodness.

You can go here to Ashleigh's blog and see what I'm talking about.

And a heartfelt thank you to each of you who prayed for my Baby Girl, her Marine and their little family while he was deployed to Iraq. Your faithful and constant prayers have meant so very much to all of us.

Blessings to you and have a great rest of your week! : )

Monday, August 18, 2008

Break time!

It's that time of year again--where the end of summer meets the new school year. Which means I've got work to do.

I still have to get some things in order for Zach's last year of school. ::sniff:: And we're hosting a "Happy New School Year!" dinner for our homeschool group next week.

Oh...and we are going to a bluegrass festival.

So, I'm takin' a bloggy break this week. But I'll really miss ya'll!

Don't have too much fun without me, ok? : )


Friday, August 15, 2008

Finishing well...

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Seven years ago today, my brother-in-law Donnie was called Home to heaven. Donnie's death was sudden and unexpected. He had fractured his back after falling from a roof and while recovering, he developed a pulmonary embolism which proved fatal. He was young--with a wife, three children and a family that loved him very much.

I met Donnie when I was 16 and had just started dating Rande. Rande was so excited for me to meet his big brother. It was obvious right away that Donnie and Rande were close. There was an 11 year age difference and because Rande didn't have much of a relationship with their dad, Donnie filled the role of brother, friend and father-figure.

The thing about Donnie is that when you first met him, he could be totally intimidating--this big, gruff sort of guy. But once you got to know him, you realized that he was really just a big ol' teddy bear.

As the years went by Rande and I got serious about our relationship with the Lord, which caused some irritation with Donnie. He didn't understand why some things in our lives had changed and any talk of God just made him antagonistic. I even remember one Easter when Donnie and his family were out at our house, we all went to church...but Donnie stayed at the house. I told Rande we'd probably be praying for years for his brother's salvation.

On Thanksgiving 1992, all the family was together so we picked names for Christmas presents and I got Donnie's name. We had already given his oldest daughter Tiffany a Bible for her birthday back in October--which Donnie confessed he'd actually looked through a few times. So I told Rande I was going to give Donnie a Bible for Christmas. He might throw it back at me, but at least he'd have one of his own! : ) Now it wasn't like Donnie had never been to church or heard the gospel. He had. But you know, like so many of us at one time, he didn't think he needed Jesus.

So I gave Donnie the Bible for Christmas. He thanked me, but I could tell he wasn't overly thrilled with his new gift. Rande and I prayed more earnestly for Donnie from that point on--and of course others were praying for him as well. I truly thought we'd all be praying for a long time.

But God...He knew differently.

One morning, in the middle of January Donnie called our house. I chit-chatted with him for a few minutes and then asked if he wanted to talk to Rande. He said no, that he wanted to talk to me.

He then told me how he'd been reading his new Bible and thinking about his life. He wasn't happy with himself and the way he'd been living. He never really thought he needed Jesus or even wanted much to do with God--but now, after reading through the book of John and Romans, he saw that he did need Jesus. And so right there in his chair--just Donnie and God--he asked Jesus to forgive him and to be Lord of his life.

Of course I started crying. And then I called Rande. : )

A week or so later, he made a public profession of his decision at the church where he would grow and serve the Lord until his Homegoing in 2001. There was an immediate change in Donnie's life and it was awesome to watch.

Some of my favorite memories are of our many discussions regarding scripture. Donnie wasn't afraid to ask the hard questions. He spurred Rande and I on to dig deep into God's Word and study more. When he died, I knew that was one of the things I would miss most about him.

Honestly, there are a lot things I miss about him though.

I remember the day of Donnie's memorial service--looking at our dear sister-in-law Sheri, our nieces Tiffany and Laura and nephew Kyle--and being amazed at what the Lord had done in this family. Each one had accepted Christ as their Savior. And in the midst of their grief and sadness, they didn't blame Him. They just trusted.

And you know what? It's the same today--seven years later. They are still trusting. Sure there have been struggles, just like with the rest of us. But the Lord is faithful--yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I'm including this song because the first time I heard it, I thought of Donnie. I thought of all of our deep theological discussions and had to smile realizing that he knew it all now. All of his questions were answered. He was in the presence of his Savior--Jesus.

To Sheri, Tiffany, Laura and Kyle--we loved Donnie/your Dad so much and miss him today and always.

We love you guys...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh. My. Wow!

What in the world does oh my wow mean? It's a phrase that Ashleigh and her friends used to use during high school to convey extreme excitement.

And that is exactly how I'm feeling this morning. Thrilled beyond words. Giddy. Thankful.

Some of you who read here know my niece Tiffany at Mrs. Creative. (Don't you just love her?!)

Tiffany and her Aunt Mishel trying to be blondes at Disneyland. Hope it's ok Tiff, but I stole this photo from your blog. : )

Well...she has some exciting news to share. Very exciting. You can go here to find out what all the hoopla is about. : )

Blessings to you....and Happy Thursday!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

It's more exciting than Christmas morning!

Can you guess why? : )

ETA: Ok, y'all guessed it and now we can officially say it! John is home!! Woohoo!

To see a priceless picture....go here.

And a super-duper Happy Birthday to Jane!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

And now for your listening enjoyment...

I've never posted anything with Zach playing his fiddle. It's not that I haven't wanted to...he just wouldn't let me. He's funny like that. : ) But after I begged asked him, he said that I could share this little clip with you, my bloggy friends.

Zach played this song during the student concert on the last night of fiddle camp. The camp actually includes many different genres of music and so this is not a fiddle tune, but a song he started composing a few months ago. He actually had to shorten it as there was a 2 minute time limit per student. The quality of the recording isn't the best--at one point it skips and sounds like a key is stuck on a keyboard. Oh, and you can hear me drop the cap to my camera lens. : )

Ok, I'll stop rambling so you can listen. Enjoy!

Zachs Song - Zach

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

All things...

A newly finished portion of baseboard. : )

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Now this is not going to be a deep theological post about baseboards and home remodeling. : ) But I wanted to share with you how the Lord has truly worked all things together for good in regard to our remodeling ordeal--and that He cares for even the smallest details of our lives. He has taken one of the hardest seasons in the life of our family and left us with a sweet savor, instead of the bitter taste we had even just a year ago.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know that we hired a contractor three years ago to do a remodel of our home. My kindhearted husband hired a licensed contractor who was a supposed brother-in-the-Lord and ended up taking the money we paid for start up costs, windows, doors, ect...and used it elsewhere. (There is much more to the story, but I don't want to be redundant, so if you want the details, you can read them here and here.)

The first two years after he took the money and ran were the hardest. We struggled financially, spiritually and emotionally as we tried to figure out how to move forward in a house that was literally a wreck--boarded up windows, no flooring but the concrete slabs in some rooms, plastic covering the openings of gutted rooms. It was pretty bad.

I'd never been one to struggle with depression, but looking back now, I can definitely see that I went through a dark time. I've been a homemaker for most of my married life--and to get up each morning and literally not know what to do with my days was really difficult. I'd just walk around and not know what to do.

And I wish I could say I rested in the Lord and trusted Him for the outcome--but that's not what happened. Instead I became very bitter--toward the contractor, my husband--even God. Let's just say I was not the most pleasant person to be around. My bad attitude definitely affected the relationships with those closest to me and most especially my relationship with the Lord.

Finally, at our state's annual homeschool convention in July of 2006, the Lord used speaker and friend, Norm Wakefield, to reach my hardened heart. I remember sitting there listening to Norm speak about the love of Christ and realizing that I needed to repent and lay the whole situation down at the Lord's feet and leave it there for Him to work out. I was so done with trying to figure it all out. So done with all the bitterness and anger.

After that weekend, the cloud began to lift and by autumn we were finally able to get started cleaning up the mess we lived in. The state licensing board made the contractor pay us back what he could, which was not much (we could have taken him to court to get more, but decided against it), but enough for us to get started.

We hired a new contractor to come in and fix or finish some of the major things the old contractor had left us with and he and his guys did a great job. They got us to a point where the house was much more habitable.

And then this is where the story gets really good. : )

We have a wonderful church family. They have been so supportive during this whole thing. Some of the men came to Rande and offered to be a help in any way possible. And what a help and blessing they have been!

There is Ron, the tile contractor who laid the tile in our bathrooms....Paul who did all the plumbing in the bathrooms and recently installed our new kitchen sink....Todd, the electrical contractor, who has been here numerous times to do all the electrical work, including correcting what the original contractor messed well as blessing us with beautiful recessed lighting throughout the house.

Then there is Brandon the painting contractor. Brandon came by the Saturday before we left for San Diego and fiddle camp. He was coming to do some patch work that needed to be done due to Todd the electrician needing to correct some things, which meant cutting into the drywall in three rooms. When Brandon came over to see what he needed to get the job started, he and Rande got to talking about the baseboards and Rande's lack of time to work on them. Because you know, he gets called out to fight brush fires and stuff like that. : )

Anyway, next thing I know, Brandon is telling Rande he can do the baseboards and door trim. And he'll paint all the doors. While we are in San Diego. We'll come home and it will be DONE!!!

I'm not kidding when I tell you that my sweet husband looked like he was going to cry. He literally asked Brandon three times if he was serious. Brandon just smiled and said, "Yeah, man! We just want to help you get this thing finished."

And that has been the desire to of all of these men--to use their skills, talents and time--for the Lord and to be a blessing to our family. They have asked for very little in return. Oftentimes they've only charged us for supplies.

So late Saturday night when we got home from San Diego, we walked into our house to find all the baseboards and trim done, the doors painted and the entire house vacuumed to perfection. Brandon and his partner painstakingly put all the furniture back and left the house in better condition than when we left! On Sunday after I told him how pleased we were with all they had done, I teased him about how even my shoes in the closet were organized better than when I left. He just smiled and said, "Well, we just wanted it to be nice for you guys when you came home."

It was more than nice and it makes me cry even now to think about it. We are truly blessed. Now when we look around our home, we see the loving and helpful hands that have worked so hard to get us to this point. But most importantly, we see God's hands and how He faithfully carried us through such a difficult and stressful time and used others to be a blessing and bring good to an awful situation.

So that is our baseboard story. And the end of our remodel story. Except for closet doors and window coverings--we are DONE!!


The End. : )

Monday, August 4, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

And believe me, after all the great fiddle music I was exposed to this past week, I feel like I could actually dance a jig! : )

Got home late last night after an awesome week in San Diego. Started unpacking, but then realized I was so very tired and had to get up early for church, so I headed to bed. The unpacking could wait.

Church was wonderful today. A month ago we started a Spanish ministry and it's been growing each week. In fact, for the first time this morning, we had children in the nursery from the Spanish ministry. What a blessing!

Tomorrow morning I have to go grocery shopping. The week before we left for San Diego, we tried to eat up all the perishable food and we did a good job--but now the fridge is bare! Due to some health issues (more on that in another post), we are making some needed changes to our diet. So after we got home from church tonight, I spent some time looking up recipes online and now have a menu plan for the week.

I'll also be tackling the mountain of laundry we've created. It's amazing the amount of laundry we generate between the three of us. What's up with that?!

It's always nice to get away--especially to cooler weather--but it's nice to be home. Especially since there was work going on while we were gone. Newsflash: The baseboards are done!! Woohoo! Is that awesome or what?! I really want to tell y'all about how the Lord blessed us regarding the baseboards, but I'm too tired to write about it tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Because God cares about the details of our lives. Even baseboards. : )

So until then....g'night!