Saturday, April 29, 2006

Products that Rock

We're bombarded with ads from the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. Sometimes commercials are so memorable, they even sneak into our dreams.



*This product will make your life easier... or make you live longer... or make you beautiful... or popular!*

It's hard to believe everything the ads say. Actually, it's hard to believe anything they say. Bethany sees an ad in a magazine and automatically says, "That's not true." But there are a few products out there that have lived up to their promotions. Here are 3 of my favorites.

1) Advil-- My first experience with Advil was so dramatic it could have been a TV commercial. I was in Uganda in the middle of nowhere and in excruciating pain. My prescription pain meds weren't with me and someone offered me Advil. I knew it wouldn't be strong enough, but I popped a couple in my mouth and felt fine after only a few minutes.

2) Mr. Clean Magic Eraser-- I bought this to get dry erase marker off the wall since 409 and all the others didn't work. This "magic" eraser wiped it right off. It's a new favorite.

3) Okay, that's only two. But I'm sure there are more. Are there any products that have surprised you how well they work? Or do you have a deep level of brand loyalty to certain products?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who ensured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Invisible Woman

One thing about having twins is that they don't really need you, at least not for social interaction. When they were old enough to play together, I saw it as a blessing. My kids could entertain themselves for hours on end.

When I'm telling them something important, though, this becomes a problem. Because, for some reason, the frequency of my voice is out of their range. They simply don't hear me when I'm talking. And they don't seem to see me either. It's as if I'm one of those people that didn't fully materialize when I went through the transporter and now I'm walking around nearly invisible.

Yesterday was one of those days. I got tired of being invisible. I cried. I made my children cry. And as I plowed through all the ways they had hurt my feelings, I heard my mother's voice coming out of my mouth. They must have been words she spoke 25 years ago that have been floating through the air waiting to be picked up. And just yesterday, I tuned in to the right frequency.

So, maybe it's not just twins. Maybe it's hereditary. Anyway, Mom, I'm sorry for the times I acted like you weren't there. Or worse, for the times I assumed you were just there to do my laundry and make my lunch. I'm sorry for not hearing you when you tried to express how rudely we all treated you. We needed you. Still do. I just never realized how much you did when we weren't looking, how many towels got picked up off the grass, how many cookies were hot and waiting when we got home from school, how the refrigerator stayed full even with 3 ravenous teenagers doing their best to empty it out.

Thanks, Mom. You're coming in loud and clear.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Giants in the Earth

All my life I've heard people referred to as spiritual giants. I always thought of spiritual giants as people of great faith, people who had overcome their struggles with sin and temptation and who walk close with God.

Then, this week, a friend said she considered me a spiritual giant. Scre-e-e-e-ech! What? I know myself and I know that I don't fit the spiritual giant mold. I still struggle with the same stupid sins that have bothered me since I can remember. I have my moments of closeness with God and then I push him away and ignore him.

It seems that "having it all together" is in the eye of the beholder. I can put up a perfect Christian facade and then live, in my heart, however I please.

Hebrews 11 lists members of the Giants Hall of Fame.

  • Noah-- who wasn't afraid to be a fool in order to prepare for a disaster he had no proof of-- was also a fool when he lay drunk and naked in his tent
  • Abraham-- who is known for obeying without question-- also tried to work things out to his advantage by lying, conniving, and making his own plans for how God could fulfill his promises.
  • Moses-- who led God's people out of slavery, did so reluctantly and only after a long and futile argument.
My only hope is that God measures me not on what I have done or can accomplish, but on who I am in Him. I know I'll never arrive, but I want to keep my eyes on the cross and take steps toward it my whole life. And, while I know there are those who have lived lives of great faith, I want to see them only as arrows pointing to Jesus, not as objects of worship themselves.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dirty Fingernails

I'm a gardener wanna-be. Every year I dig and plant and water and wait. And every year I watch my little plants get eaten by someone besides me. For the last five years, I've been fighting deer and raccoons. This year, though, I have hope.

I spent six hours yesterday digging the moss and grass out from between my patio bricks and poking little thyme plants in their place. I imagine walking over the cushions of thyme and releasing the fragrance into the air. The reality will probably be less romantic, something like the fragile thyme being choked out by more moss.

I have a beautiful row of pea plants, inch-high sentinels mocking me with their delicate green leaves. Will they bear fruit? Or will they just be decorative plants along the fence line? Will my strawberry plants ever get those round red berries on them, or just grow green and strong and barren?

I've danced this dance a dozen times before. But I don't lose hope. I keep on planting and waiting. Because nothing tastes better than a tomato ripened on the vine. Nothing is as sweet as a raspberry picked and eaten in a single motion. No salad satisfies like the one that comes from seeds I drop in the dirt. No rhubarb pie equals the ones we'll be baking by summer's end.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Sandi tagged me and, in the spirit of good fun, I'm posting my responses here.

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Recreational director for deaf and blind kids in a group home
2. Speech therapist
3. Missionary, Togo West Africa
4. Online math and reading tutor

Four Movies you would watch over and over
1. While You Were Sleeping
2. My French class performing "Cendrillon"
3. You’ve Got Mail
4. Beauty and the Beast

Four places you have lived:
1. Juneau, Alaska
2. Searcy, Arkansas
3. Tabligbo, Togo
4. Albertville, France

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Survivor
2. The Amazing Race
3. The Office
4. NBC Nightly News

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Romania
2. Hans Cottage Botel, Ghana
3. Paris, France
4. Yellowstone National Park

Four Websites I visit daily:
1. Wyatt Journey
2. All recipes
3. My Blog
4. Mike Cope’s blog

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Focaccia with oilve oil, artichoke hearts, sauteed onions and sundried tomatoes
2. Spring rolls
3. Chocolate
4. Basil and Tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. New Zealand
2. At a book signing for my first novel
3. Japan
4. Anywhere with Edwin or hanging out with my friends

Four things I always carry in my purse:
1. Wallet
2. Dental floss
3. Pen
4. Digital Camera

Four people I’m tagging:
1. Geoffrey
2. Shelli (put your answers in my comment box)
3. Lori (ditto)
4. Dad

Sunday, April 16, 2006


It was a week of celebration. First the Seder dinner on Wednesday night. We had 36 around the table celebrating God's redeeming love. The kids all took part in retelling the Passover story. Special thanks to Bill for the photos.

Tabitha and I hunted eggs in the grass on Saturday morning. More accurately, she hunted eggs and I picked them up. She refused to step foot on the soggy grass and wouldn't even consider reaching down to pick up an egg. Her hands might get wet!

An Easter musical called "Bow the Knee" reminded us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Next year I'll have to take some kleenex.

Sunday morning we awoke to shouts of surprise. "You said the Easter Bunny was on vacation this year!" Sunday service reminded us again of the impact Jesus makes on our lives and on the response that is required of us. Then to the folks for a traditional Easter dinner and another egg hunt. The surprise at this hunt was that we actually spotted the Easter bunny. He was very still and more than a little frightened.

This is one of the best moments of the day. Jessica was searching desparately for an egg in the vicinity, but she never spotted it. Can you?

Saturday, April 15, 2006


A Seder dinner to remember. A time of desperate prayer. An arrest. A mock trial. An execution.

The death of a dream.

Peter, John Mark, James, Mary, Thomas. All of them huddled together in an upstairs room.


"Is the door locked? Double check it." What if the Jews should find them? Would they be crucified, too? They had, after all, given up everything to follow Jesus. Pinned all their hopes on him. Gave up their jobs for him. Trudged all over the countryside following him.

Sure, he did some fantastic stuff.

"Remember when he healed that blind guy? He plopped that mud in his eyes and made him wash it out? It was a cinch he was gonna wash somewhere. Why not in the pool Jesus sent him to?"

"My favorite was when he drove the demons out of that crazy man and all the pigs ran into the sea and drowned. That was a sight. But boy was the pig owner mad!"

"What about when he fed all those people? Or when he healed your mother-in-law, Peter? That was cool. Or maybe that wasn't your favorite."

Defeat. Shame. Embarrassment. Disappointment.

But they didn't know the end of the story. If they had, they would have been dancing in the streets, shouting victory and triumph to anyone in earshot.

Tomorrow. For them, a word of despair. For us, a word of hope. Tomorrow is the day we remember that HE'S ALIVE! I can just hear it.

Il est Vivant! Efon tsitre. Ele agbe! Il est resuscite! He's alive! 2000 years later, on every continent, we can rejoice that he is alive!

That's the good news. The gospel distilled.

He's alive so I can live.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Elastic Time

I've decided time is stretchy. Sometimes it crawls by and others times I blink and a year is gone. It's already mid-April! And today, I feel like I woke up 10 minutes ago and it's time to tuck the kids in for the night.

I think it was in my 6th grade Bible class, there was a time line on the wall. All the events of history were scrunched into the first inch or so (we didn't know about centimeters then) but the line continued down the wall, around the corner, and across the opposite wall. Did you know that in a model of the solar system, if the sun was the size of a grapefruit and the earth the size of a sprinkle, the nearest star would be more than 3000 miles away?

My life compared to eternity would be infinitely smaller than a sprinkle. Kind of puts things in perspective.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Separate Vacations

While the kids and I were galavanting about Washington, Edwin was up to more serious work. He spent the week in New Orleans. He put his construction skills to work building walls for a dormitory which will house workers who go to help out. Then he joined the group he was traveling with to muck out houses. All the furniture, carpet, drywall, appliances, ceilings and flooring came out of the houses. Only studs and foundation were left, and even those are looking iffy.

Eerie, amazing, indescribable were all words he used to express what it was like driving through the 9th ward. Hurricane season starts next month and New Orleans has not yet recovered from the devastation Katrina wrought.

Before reconstruction can really take place, so much of what is still standing needs to be torn down, or at least gutted out. The Carrolton Church of Christ and Hilltop Church of Christ are among those who are helping their city come back to life. I'm sure progress must seem slow to those who are there-- a basement cleaned out here, a new wall put up elsewhere. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

Let's not forget the people whose lives were derailed by the hurricane. Let's pitch in where we can, pray hard and often, and remember that the job is not yet finished. In fact, it's barely begun.

Friday, April 07, 2006

All Mine

When I worked in Arkansas with Head Start, I met a lot of interesting characters. I always remember the man who stood proudly and waved his arms to encompass the surroundings.

"It's all mine," he said. "Everything you see." Rusted freezers, a broken baby carriage, piles of trash. The decaying remains of a camper trailer. There was nothing there worth anything except maybe the land.

"It's all mine," he said again, pleased with his accumulated wealth. "Everything except the land."

I was reminded of this old man the other day when I saw another like him. Lori and I took our kids to Salt Creek to play on the beach. The creek empties into the Straight of Juan de Fuca. The beach on one side of the creek is for the public and on the other side, apparently, is private, though I didn't see any signs posted.

Lori and I settled on one side of the little river and the kids waded across to build a sand castle on the other side. They were there about a half hour before an old man ambled down the beach and shoed them and some other children back onto our side of the creek. "I'll invite you to take yourselves to the other side." Jessica, Bethany and Hannah scrambled across the creek.

We were there for a couple more hours. Each time anyone ventured across to the other shore, he stood up and chased them back across.

As I looked at our side of the stream, I saw families flying kites, digging in the sand, laying in the sun, exploring tidepools, playing and laughing.

On the other side of the stream, one old man sat alone on a log, valiantly defending his territory.

The lone homesteader defending himself against enemies, weather and hardship is part of our American mythology. We salute the individual who stands up for himself. But I've got to say, when I think about that bitter man sitting alone defending his space, I'd much rather share my space with those I love.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Positive Proof

I've had imaginary friends, starting with (I'm embarrased to admit) Piggy. She lived in the mirror at the end of the hall and she looked remarkably like me.

Shelli is not an imaginary friend. We've been hanging out for 4 or 5 years. We pray together, drink tea, make cards and scrapbook. Scrapbooking-- ah, there's the rub. For in all the years we've been friends and all the hundreds of photos we've arranged in books, there is not one scrap of physical evidence that we are friends... until now.

Finally, proof that we've been in the same place at the same time!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Open Doors

I have recently rediscovered something I grew up knowing. To really get to know people, stay in their house. Or have them stay in yours.

It's amazing to me how many people who are going to our high school reunion are looking for hotel rooms to stay in. If we went (which I don't think we will) it wouldn't even cross my mind to stay in a hotel. To belong to a church is to belong to a FAMILY. And when you visit family, you stay with family.

I'm sitting at the computer at Shelli's house. The kids are still asleep. My hair is a greasy, matted mess. My teeth are fuzzy. I really could use a shower. But I got to stay up until 2:30 this morning and talk. We talked about kids, about church, about Jesus, about our lives, about TV and books.

When you stay with people, you get to know them. They get to know you. You let your guard down, you let them see you act more natural than you would in public places. Sitting around with your feet on the coffee table prompts good conversation.

Thanks, Shelli. I'm glad you love me... fuzzy teeth and all.