Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav Shmustav

I'm sitting here in Texas, finishing a huge bowl of brownies and ice cream. This is after I had a "healthy" serving of sopapilla cheesecake after dinner. Awful, I know, but it's what I do when I don't know what else to do. I'm a comfort eater. (That may be one reason it's been such a slow struggle to lose the baby weight...) The outer bands of Hurricane Gustav have begun to hit Louisiana. While it's certainly not looking quite as bad as I thought it might yesterday afternoon, it's looking pretty rough. I'm anxious about our home, about our things, about our friends who are there riding it out, about our church, about our schools, about our town, about well...you name it.

We drove into College Station this morning to run some errands, and there were signs directing Gustav Evacuees to Evacuation Shelters. While that's obviously not where we went, it was a very strange feeling to realize that we are officially evacuees, running from a deadly storm that is threatening our home.

When I realized a little while ago that I had been sitting there watching the Weather Channel for two hours straight, I decided it was time to pull out the computer and do something different. It would be so easy to watch the storm's destruction all through the night, finishing of all of the cheesecake, brownies, ice cream, and whatever else is laying around. It would also be easy to just lay down and go to sleep. That's something else I'm guilty of -- sleeping when I'm overwhelmed so that I won't have to deal with it.

I mentioned to Bret that I was going to finish up the end of August quotes and pictures post. He looked a little surprised and asked if I really thought that was appropriate. I explained that yes, I thought it was. I've mentioned Gustav several times already, everyone knows it's beginning to make landfall, I'm in need of something light. That didn't seem to convince him. I thought about it as I stuffed my face and decided to do it anyway. But now I've given up again. It seems that, yet again, I am unable to load my pictures onto the blog. I have the worst luck with that when we're out of town, no matter where out of town we are! It feels like a sign that the quotes and pics should perhaps wait for another day...

So I guess I've ended up posting about Gustav again after all. I was so determined to do something different, something light, to refuse to let Gustav completely take over my evening. Gustav, Shmustav, you may be crashing in upon part of my life, but you will not take over all of it!

I've got cute quotes, cute stories, cute pictures of these kiddos that I'm anxious to share, but thanks to my black thumb of technology, they will have to wait. I think I'll check up on the storm again one more time and go to bed. There will be plenty of time for worry tomorrow...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Disney House and Prayers for Peace

Well, our trip to San Antonio went well. We got to stay with some old friends. Their kids were in Bret's first youth group in Corpus Chrisit. They have a guest house in the backyard that was all ours. Mrs. Marsha is a Mickey Mouse/Disney fanatic and had a large part of her collection out there. The brothers fell in love with the Monsters Inc. Boo doll (she talked and sang her little song) and a book that had 25 or so Disney movie stories in it. She even made Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast this morning. Thank you, Sid and Marsha for your hospitality!The dinner was at the home of some more old friends. Bret actually lived with them during the summer that he was a youth intern in Corpus Christi, the summer that we got engaged. There were many more old friends there, too. This fund raising thing is a lot of hard and often unpleasant work. But the chance to get to visit with so many old friends has been such a blessing! We got to share our dreams, cast our vision, show off our kids. Thank you, Kerry and Shannon for your hospitality, as well!

With that said, we are now sitting at Bret's folks house anxiously waiting to see what our friend Gustav will do. Evacuees are beginning to make their way here. Gammie got the last box of diapers and the last can of formula at the WalMart here. As she was reaching for the diapers, a woman tried to talk her into giving them to her, claiming she was a New Orleans evacuee. Gammie's inner "Momma-Bear" came out (as mine would have, as well), and she sweetly explained that her grandbaby from New Orleans was evacuating here, as well. He needed formula and diapers, too. She clutched her treasures all the more tightly, picked up a few other necessities and got out of there! Thank you, Gammie...

I would like to share an excerpt from an email that Bret sent out. He, of course, beautifully describes our feelings and prayers:

As Hurricane Gustav continues to strengthen just south of the Gulf we are prayerful for the people of Cuba and anxiously awaiting what path the storm will take tomorrow and Monday. As you have probably heard (the media loves this kind of story) the 3 year anniversary of Katrina was yesterday. Folks in the New Orleans area who were there Pre-K are saying that this storm has reminded them a lot of that one.

It could well be that any storm near the Gulf right now would be reminding our neighbors of past experiences, but in any case, will you lift up prayers on our behalf? Specifically I’d ask that you petition God for his Spirit of peace – that which is available even in the midst of chaos.

We of course also ask that God will protect us from the elements. We do not pray that it will turn and thus inflict damage on someone else; we pray that the Lord will deliver all of his children. We are mindful today of those in Cuba , Jamaica , the Cayman Islands, Haiti and the Dominican Republic . I rejoice that we do not serve a regional god, only powerful enough to be concerned with one people group; our God is mighty to save all whom he loves…and that, my friends is all of us.

Because of the scheduling of our fundraising dinner we have, in effect, already evacuated. Bret, Rachel, Conner, Micah, Josiah, Chicory, two vehicles, wedding pictures and important documents, three softies (and the Coach/Freds…see Rachel’s blog), extra pull-ups, diapers and formula, two computers and all of the Backyardigans movies are safe and sound in Singleton, TX. My books are still in Mandeville though…

Should the storm make landfall in or near New Orleans we will keep you updated on any disaster relief needs. In the meantime, let us lift a chorus of prayers to our father and express our gratitude for the gift of technology that gives everyone forewarning of events like hurricanes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prayer Schedule

Awhile back, I wrote about ""Monday Money Day"" and mentioned my church planting prayer schedule. There is just so much to pray for in this endeavor -- it's a big undertaking. After weeks and months of feeling so overwhelmed with it all that I often ended up just praying one big blanket prayer (not that that's necessarily bad -- I just want to do more) -- and often even ended up not praying at all, I knew I had to do something. My solution was a prayer schedule. There are specific aspects of our church planting/relocation endeavor that I pray for each day of the week. The list is not intended to be all-inclusive. I often pray for other things, too. It's also not intended to be limiting. I can pray for whatever I want on whatever day I want. This just makes it so much more manageable for me. One of my friends suggested that I post the entire schedule someday. Today, the eve of one of our fundraising dinners, seems an appropriate day to share. Here it is:
  • Monday Money Day - I pray that we get enough money raised, that our supporters will be blessed financially in such a way that we do not become a burden, that Christ Journey continues to progress toward becoming a self-supporting church, that we will make good decisions with this money that has been entrusted to us, praise for all that's been done so far
  • Tuesday Relocation Day - I pray for a good house (specifically one that is good for entertaining and with a good space for home officing), good location, good schools, good teachers, good friends
  • Wednesday Seeker Day - I pray for the people to whom God will be showing Himself through us, that there will be many of them, that we will find them easily
  • Thursday Christ Journey Day - I pray for Christ Journey as a church, for the members, for the Chappotins (the ministers we will be joining)
  • Friday Family Day - I pray specifically for our family and our marriage in this transition process
  • Saturday Fun Day - I pray that our excitement and energy for this task God has called us to is renewed and restored
  • Sunday Sabbath Day - I pray for rest, that we can find it now, that we will make time for it after we move, for healing from the wounds that life in ministry has inflicted, for friends (both here and there) who will help us find this rest and healing
I would invite you to join me in these prayers...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

But Gustav, Preschool Starts Next Week!

Conner's preschool starts next week, so today was Meet the Teacher. Conner got a letter from Mrs. Amy and Mrs. Kendra a couple of weeks ago and he's been really excited ever since. He wanted to draw pictures for them this morning before we went. When he finished, he looked at me, very concerned. "But Mommy, how will I know which one is Mrs. Amy and which one is Mrs. Kendra?" I guess I hadn't done a very good job of explaining what was going to happen today... We got it cleared up and were on our way.

I already knew the teachers from my few months of teaching at the school last year. We're totally excited. Conner got to meet all of his new friends, too. It was good to meet everyone, see the classroom, etc. but I've gotta tell you -- those classrooms and halls just were not made for that many people all at once. Add my huge double stroller into the mix...well, you get the picture. We made it through just fine, the brothers were all very well behaved, but I was so glad when it was over!

It was good to see Carrie and Angela there with their kiddos. Angela was even good enough to take a picture of the TOCC boys. (She was the only one of us there with only one kid...maybe that's why she had the energy to do it?!)Conner, Evan, and Ben were all so excited that there was no way they were all going to look at the camera at the same time! I think this picture is pretty good, all things considered. Oh, and you have to notice Conner's new shoes. He was really excited about wearing them today.

Hopefully, the Lord willing, Wednesday will be the first day of school. Gustav is ominously looming in the distance, though. Governor Jindal has declared Louisiana in a state of emergency. Evacuations are expected to begin Friday morning. I'm doing my best not to freak out here, but there' are so many people saying that it looks and feels just like Katrina -- nearly down to the day of the month. (Friday is the three-year-anniversary.) A flurry of activity is beginning as folks prepare to either evacuate or hunker down and sit through it. I heard WalMart ran out of diapers tonight...

We were planning to leave early tomorrow morning anyway. We have a fund raising dinner in San Antonio Friday night. The plan was to return on Monday and start school on Wednesday. It's looking as though we may be staying with Gammie a few extra days, though... We're very anxious and are praying hard, but must be responsible and leave in the morning as though we are evacuating... Gustav, just chill, would ya? Conner wants to start school next week, and folks around here (including ME) aren't wanting to deal with another hurricane!

Fred

After two (or was it three?) weeks of screaming at naptimes and bedtime, I was at my wit's end. Joey was having the hardest time going to sleep. Instead of just closing his eyes and doing it, he would just cry. And cry and cry and cry. He would be obviously sleepy -- rubbing his eyes, sucking his thumb, a little fussy -- besides the fact that it was the normal time for a nap or bedtime. Then I'd pick him up or we'd walk into the bedroom and he would just scream.

We tried everything -- waiting until he was super sleepy, trying to catch him before he was too sleepy, trying to be extremely consistent on the times, different rooms, bottle, no bottle, warm bottle, cold bottle, singing, no singing, music, no music, rocking, no rocking, lights, dark, just letting him cry it out...you get the idea. Nothing was working. Eventually he would cry himself to sleep -- but not without us both getting extremely frustrated in the process.

After a day of feeling especially sad, hopeless, exhausted, frustrated, like I was the absolute worst mom ever, I was not in very good shape. Especially when your baby is a younger sibling, sleepy time is your cuddle time. You can't count on many other times during the day that you can just make the other ones fend for themselves while you do nothing but rock, cuddle and enjoy your baby. (Well...it works that way most of the time anyway...) And thinking that Joey is probably our last, I just want to soak up every precious little baby moment that I can. I felt like I was being robbed of all of that. My cuddle and enjoy-my-baby time was being replaced by screaming and frustration. Let's just say that I was pretty teary that day that it all started to soak in.

What in the world else could I try? Hmmm...I was sitting in the rocking chair trying to think while Joey was screaming in my ear, staring at the laundry on the bed... One of Micah's softies was there. Could it be? Would that help Joey, too? I picked it up, praying Micah wouldn't barge in and see. Joey immediately grabbed it and started rubbing the corner on his face. Within a few minutes, he had calmed down enough to catch him thumb...and that calmed him down enough more that a few minutes later he was asleep. Oh! My! Goodness! I could hardly contain my excitement and was working hard to hold that seed of hope in check. Had I found the answer? (No, the softie in the picture is not Micah's -- I didn't dare take the chance to wake him up that day. You get the idea, though!)

Micah's softie worked a couple more times that day and the next -- not immediately, but it didn't take long. I went to Target that next night and bought a softie for Joey, the same as Micah's but a different color. Micah would not be happy if he knew he was sharing softie. (Softie is one of the only things in this house that doesn't have to be shared.) By the next night, the reaction was almost immediate. Joey acted sleepy, we went to his room, shut the door, gave him his softie, he got his thumb, he went to sleep. No crying! Now, I'm no stranger to this baby thing. I know this could all change at any moment, but for now I am enjoying my baby cuddles once again.

We've had to come up with another name for Joey's softie...two softies would get way too confusing. After my post on Micah's Softie (click here) a few days ago, Bret informed me that the name "Softie" was almost too girlie. He was glad it was something a little different, and was super glad we weren't calling it "Lovey" or something like that...he had gotten used to "Softie" but it had taken some work. I had been proud of the name -- because it was a little different and it wasn't too girlie. Uggh! "Okay," I said, "we'll call Joey's softie Fred." Don't know if "Fred" will stick, but that's what we've called it so far! Well, actually, Conner didn't like "Fred," he said we should name it "Sam." We called it "Sam-Fred" for a couple of days, too...

I haven't stockpiled multiples of Fred yet. I'm still waiting to see if it's going to become an absolute necessity. Dragging around a blanket everywhere is a little bit annoying at times. I'm sure dragging around two will be, as well. But I'm enjoying my baby cuddles again, and if it means that Fred becomes a part of our family... Welcome, Fred!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A McBirthday

Since we had already had a little party for Conner's birthday on Saturday, yesterday was pretty low-key (or at least we thought it was going to be!) We had leftover cake after lunch (a little less creepy this time!)......and the big present from Mommy and Daddy was a Spiderman web blaster. Actually, Conner just happened to get two of them. It looked like it would be much more fun if your friend (or little brother) had one, too! The Spiderman web blaster is little thing that hooks onto your arm and shoots web (silly string) everywhere. Then when the silly string is gone, you can fix it so that it shoots water. Too cool. Fay was making everything yucky outside, so we decided to shoot the webs in the garage. (Please ignore the less-than-tidy-ness!)

(Surprise, surprise, Micah wasn't too crazy about the web actually being on him.)
I think I'm glad they ended up in the garage instead of the kitchen!!
Then it was time for small group. A couple of weeks ago we were trying to figure out what to do for small group the next time we met. We talked about meeting at the playground on Koop Drive. (In Wells-speak that's the "Bumpy Slide Playground.") We would bring our own dinners and just let the kids play. Then I realized that it would be on Conner's birthday, so I mentioned that we'd probably bring cupcakes to share. Well, Fay decided to blow in with all of her dreary rain on Conner's big day. We decided to move small group to the playland at McDonald's.

We showed up with Spiderman cupcakes to share...and our friends showed up with gifts! What a sweet, unexpected surprise! Conner has not asked for a big birthday party, so we have not done one. (Gammie has been brave enough to do a couple, but we haven't yet.) Cake and ice cream with whatever family is around has been plenty so far. And here we stumbled upon a little party -- with most of the people we would have invited anyway. Conner got a new wii game, a transformer, and everything he needs to cook. We have the best friends.

I didn't get many pictures. It was a little crazy in the McD's playland. Four families, ten kids (nine of them boys!!). I'm afraid I didn't even get a good one of the birthday boy. :( But, here's what I got:
Well, the birthday has been stretched out for about as long as I can do it. The celebrations are over, it's official, he's really five.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Conner!

My goodness, my Conner is five years old today. It just does not seem right to think that I have been a mother for five years now! It has been quite a job, quite a joy, quite a ride. Here's my baby on all of his birthdays:




My Conner Bug, we love you and are so proud of you. Thanks for making us parents!

PS -- We had another little party today with some friends and had some more very exciting presents. But it's late, I'm tired, and I'm going to call it a night. Maybe tomorrow....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Superheroes and Rubber Duckies

For a couple of months now, Conner has been saying that he wanted a superhero party for his birthday. Uncle Chris had to leave this evening, so we decided to go ahead and have the party today.

In our world of not-so-big birthday parties, "superhero birthday" ended up translating into lunch at home with family and a few random mix-and-match (Conner got to pick it all out) party accessories...and a Spiderman candle on the rubber duckie cake that he chose.I don't know about you, but we (the adults) thought this was really a little disturbing. I just don't think that rubber duckies go so well with a superhero birthday! :) At Conner's insisting, we all had to wear party hats. That's something else he's been asking for a long time now.While we were cleaning up and getting ready to open presents, Conner and Micah stood in front of Josiah in the highchair and blew the party blowers in his face. Joey thought this was absolutely hilarious -- we've never heard him laugh like that before. Lots of presents, lots of stuff from out of town family, even a special shopping trip with Uncle Chris and Bubba. Of particular note, the Transformers were a hit, Backyardigans movies, Incredble Hulk hands...and the jack-in-the-box. Sounds crazy, I know, but Conner has been talking about having a jack-in-the-box for years now. BooBoo and Yogi finally got him one. (Yes, it's a goofy picture...there was no settling them down...)

Fun day, fun party, fun kids, fun family! We'll still do a little birthday stuff tomorrow...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Company, Kayaks, Fountains, and a Tooth

Bubba and Uncle Chris flew in last night to stay with us for the weekend. The driving reason behind the visit (besides just seeing us, that is!) is kayaking. Chris wanted to kayak a bayou or two down here with Bret. So they went out into the wilderness this morning while Lydia and I took the brothers to the fountains. It was a little disappointing; the water just didn't hold their interest. And it wasn't just my kids. All of the kids there were wandering around everywhere except for in the water. For some reason, today the coke machine, the trash cans, the stairs, the bench...everything was more interesting than the water. Thus, we didn't stay long. Here's Conner, Micah, and Ben not playing in the water!The rest of the day we just enjoyed our company. Conner and Bubba cuddled on the couch...Conner and Uncle Chris played soccer (their team was "The Coaches," and they have been calling one another "coach" all day)...there was lots of monster and hide-and-seek games...Micah got to spend a long time just playing in the bubble bath with Bubba (she was watching/supervising -- not in the tub with him like that sounds!)...ice cream cones at Chick-fil-a this evening...and the grown-ups even got to visit a little.And...Joey woke up with a tooth this morning! It's not much of one, it's just barely broken the skin -- but it's definitely there. It's so hard to get a picture of those brand new little teeth like that. But, for the grandmas especially, here's the best we could do:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It Couldn't Have Been More Than Three and a Half Minutes...

...maybe four....

Josiah was taking an unusually long and wonderful nap this afternoon. Conner was sitting on the couch reading a book. Micah was sitting at the table eating a bowl of cottage cheese. Perfect -- I could sit at the computer and get a couple of things done right quick. I turned on the TV for them, hoping for at least fifteen minutes.

It couldn't have been more than three and a half minutes later...maybe four... Micah was apparently loving the cottage cheese. He came and asked me for some more. I told him that we would be eating dinner soon and that there would be no more snacks until dinner. He said okay and left. I worked for a couple of more minutes and realized that the house was eerily quiet. That's when I know something's up. I walked into the living room and foundConner asleep on the couch. That never happens. Though naps are always exciting, I realized that it was 5:00 in the afternoon and I couldn't help but think about the late night that was probably lying ahead.

I kept walking into the kitchen and foundMicah, naked, standing in the fridge with a puddle of cottage cheese at his feet and a trail of drips all the way to the table. (I'm totally proud of myself -- I painted the blue shorts on him in the picture. It looses a lot of the effect without the nakedness, but I just couldn't post it that way...)

I gave in. Bret wasn't home yet, and wouldn't be for awhile. Conner and Joey were asleep. We had the very rare treat of just Micah and me. I gave him the bowl of cottage cheese he was obviously wanting...and then some peanut butter crackers...and then some pudding. Sounds like a supper to me!

He's been asking to paint, and I keep telling him no. He's pretty high maintenance with the paint, and when you add Conner and Joey to the mix, it's just a little more than I usually feel like dealing with. I jumped on the opportunity. He was soooo excited.He's come a long way since we tried it last. There was no mess -- except for the purple and red streak that ended up in his hair.

Conner ended up taking a two hour nap, and then was asleep again by 9:00. I laid Joey on our bed while I was changing his sheet, and when I went to get him he had already fallen asleep. Micah was asleep by 8:30.

A very unusual, but not half bad evening...and Lydia and Chris will be here in a few minutes!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Glimmers of Hope on My Fridge

To be such rowdy and rambunctious boys, to be so capable of destroying a room so quickly, to run and play as hard as they do...the Wells brothers (well, the oldest two anyway -- we're still waiting for the verdict on Josiah!) have a bit of a Type A streak as well. Every now and then a little bit of order, organization, calculation, and precision shine through the little-boy-ness.

Conner has a little book that shows you how to make animals by tracing around your hand. He loves to work through the book and make the animals. Today he decided that he was going to make ten of each animal, starting with the turkeys.He certainly did not end up making it through the entire book...but he did stick with it long enough to make ten turkeys. I was a little surprised at this commitment. He even got creative and decided to trace everyone's hands. He colored them all exactly the same and they are now on my fridge/dishwasher. (Well they were, anyway...until Micah pulled them all off...)Micah is not far behind. Here's what he did with a bunch of magnets the other day:There are some days when we finally get everyone to bed and I am relieved to have a break from the squabbling and rough-housing...and then I walk back into the living room and kitchen and just want to cry. There are toys, markers, dirty dishes, dirty clothes, everywhere. I wonder if there is ever any hope of a bit of order, organization, neatness in our lives. Will they ever even care? And then I get little glimmers like today...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Softie


Those of you who know us well know that our family of five is more than meets the eye. There is a sixth member of our family -- Chicory, our chocolate lab who lives in the backyard. (Nope, no dogs in my house!) And then there is a seventh member, who is in a lot of ways like a fourth child -- Softie, Micah's blanket.

A few months before Micah's first birthday, he started cuddling the the burpees, falling asleep by sucking his thumb and rubbing them on his face. If he liked the old and stained burpees that much, I figured he would love the cute little square silky/soft security blanket things that had been sitting in a drawer waiting for someone to express an interest. I was right -- we soon needed to bring one with us anytime we went somewhere for several hours, such as church. Somewhere in the process, the name Softie was born, generically referring to whichever little blanket was being used at the time.

Then a vicious stomach bug ravaged our family when Micah was about thirteen months old. He ended up in the hospital for three nights due to dehydration. We of course, knew we needed to bring a Softie or two with us -- but since we had all been sick there was only one clean Softie left. Micah cuddled it all the way to the hospital...and then promptly puked all over it in the admissions office. Uh oh.

When Bret got us all situated, he went home to clean up the other Softies, and then stopped at Target to buy a new one to get us through until the laundry was done and he could bring it to us. They did not have any cute little baby-sized squares; just actual blankets, blue silk on one side and soft blue raised dots on the other. It was love at first cuddle. He cuddled it so much during those first few days that he gave himself a contact rash on his upper lip. Softie stepped up a notch in importance, and we could no longer go anywhere without him -- even to the next room in the house. Not wanting to get stuck again with a dirty Softie, I stopped by Target and picked up another one.

We now have four Softies. One lives in the van (in case we forget to bring one with us or something like a spill happens to it), two live in the closet (ideally, anyway...actually they are usually somewhere in the laundry!) ready for immediate use, and one is actually being carried around cuddled. Softie is so important that Micah's teachers at school and church won't take him without it.

Well, today we went to WalMart. Micah sat in his seat sucking his thumb and cuddling with softie, rubbing the tag on his nose all the way there. Then as we were getting out, he got distracted by an old cookie or something gross on the floor of the van and left Softie in his seat. "Woop! You better get Softie, Micah," I said.
"No. You get him."
"Excuse me!" (Ooooh, talking to me like that makes me mad!) "You don't talk to your Mommy that way. If you want to take Softie into WalMart you can get him. If you don't crawl back there and get him yourself, you will not have Softie in WalMart."
"No. I not want Softie in WalMart."
"Okay," I gulped. Was I really ready to try this? Luckily we only really needed a few things. We'd grab them first so that we could run out if the situation was getting out of hand. "We'll leave Softie in the van."

He did it. We got the few things we really needed, plus a few more that weren't quite as pressing, and it wasn't until the very end that he asked for Softie and started whining a little bit. I reminded him of the deal, and that was all it took. He made it all the way back out to the van with no break downs.

I'm not sure if I was more relieved or sad. My baby just made it without Softie for an hour -- and not because I made him or because there was something really exciting and distracting going on. It was because he didn't want or need it. Gulp, blink, blink.

We got back to the van, though, and Softie was cuddled the whole way home. I'm sure we are a very long way from being done with Softie. But it is unmistakable that my little blondie is growing up...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quarters

In Conner's and Micah's world, it is quarters that make you rich. Forget the paper money -- it doesn't sound pretty when it is dropped in the "Jesus Jar" at church, it doesn't make the bubble gum come out of the machine, make the games at Chuck E. Cheese work (well, at CEC quarters don't work either, but Micah is convinced that the tokens are quarters), or make the rides at the grocery store go. If you find a quarter, you have truly found a treasure.

For this reason, we intentionally make sure that they each have a quarter to put in the Jesus Jar every Sunday. They usually have some other random coins depending on what has accumulated that week -- but they each always have at least one quarter. And nearly every week, Conner asks if he can keep the quarter and then whines through the whole offering prayer. It is tiresome and even grueling at times, but we want him to know the joy of sacrificial giving, so we trudge on. Then when the prayer is over and the kids get to run up front and hear the clinks of their coins, Conner and Micah both forget any woes over the quarter and run up to give with everyone else. When they're done (if I can reach them) I always whisper in their ears, "God loves and cheerful giver -- and he loves you," just like my Mom and Dad always said to me. I am so glad that I can say this to them truthfully, especially when I know that there was actually a little bit of sacrifice involved in that cheerful giving.

There is an older man at our church who, awhile back, decided that our kiddos needed a grandfather here, and took that job upon himself. He gave each one of the boys at set of the state quarters, all tucked away into collecter's folders. Every time a new coin comes out, he has three of them for us the next Sunday. Lots of times he also slips them another quarter or two as they run up to the Jesus Jar.

My PeePaw always used to have quarters for us. We would get a quarter if we got the mail for him, picked up the newspaper, or fed the dogs. My dad pulls quarters out of my boys' ears. Bret's dad tries to take them to Chuck E Cheese (where they get lots of "quarters") every time they visit. I guess that always having quarters is somewhere in the grandpa job description.

Sometimes when I see how happy the brothers get when they get their hands on a quarter, I wish that I could get that excited about such a small amount of money. Maybe my focus is a little off...I'm sure that one of the reasons quarters are so special to them is because of who they got it from and why/how/what adventure they will get because of it.

As most of you know, we are preparing to join the domestic mission field and begin planting churches. In order to do this, we are having to raise a full salary. Most missionaries have a supporting church or two to take care of most of this. But we are coming across some difficulty there, and are raising a good portion (if not all) of our support from individuals and families. This means that we are stringing together $50 here and $25 there from a growing list of folks. It is easy to get frustrated at how slowly it seems to be going. Several thousand dollars per month at $25, $50, or even $200 a whack ends up being quite a long list of people! We feel like we are, slowly but surely, asking nearly everyone we know to give us money. (Maybe because we are!) That is so exhausting, and Satan certainly plays his part in making it feel a bit degrading, as well. My children, though, have reminded me to look at this money through their eyes: gifts from people we care about. Because of their gifts, we will be able to do the job God is calling us to do, do that back home in Texas, and who knows what kinds of adventures we will go on in the process.

I am also reminded, though, that grandpas love to give quarters. That's one of the crazy things about sacrificial giving -- in your sacrifice you so often find joy. So maybe I don't need to feel so guilty about asking...maybe I'll just come right out and do it. Do any of you guys have "a quarter" you would like to pledge to us monthly? We'd love to send you some information and/or talk to you about it more. Each "quarter" may not be much on it's own, but when added to the gifts from other family and friends, eventually this tug we've felt in our hearts for years now (well...Bret, anyway) to take a risk, share Christ with others, do something a little different will become a reality

To all of our supporters, thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice and vote of confidence. "God loves a cheerful giver -- and He loves you." And so do we.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blowing Raspberries

Okay, so "blowing raspberries" is really just a nice way of saying "spitting"...and that's what Josiah has been doing.That's another one of those things that is only cute for a very short span of a lifetime. He's at that point though, and we're enjoying our cutie!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Oh, That Micah

We went swimming at Franco's today. All of the brothers were in fairly cooperative moods, so I thought I'd attempt a picture of the matching swimsuits Gammie got for them. If you've ever tried to take a picture of a baby, you know it's pretty hard to get them to look at the camera, especially if you're by yourself. Then add a couple more kids -- six eyes plus three smiles plus one perfect click of the camera -- nearly impossible! This is about the best one I got:Getting Micah to be still, look at the camera, and refrain from doing something goofy is so hard! Here's a few examples from the past several months. I'll warn you, there's kind of a lot. I tried to get Bret to help me pick out just the funniest...but as he was rolling on the floor laughing, he insisted that I leave them all. There's a little part of me that kind of hopes that this will always be Micah; that he will be the goofy fun-loving kid that no one can help but smile at.