Friday, January 29, 2010

Help Me Make Lemonade

If you're in my email address book, you know that my account was hacked this week. The thief took over my gmail account and my facebook account in order to scam money out of my friends. Please tell me you didn't send any. It's been a long few days trying to get back as much information as I can. I've lost my entire contact list and will have to rebuild it over time. It appears he also got hold of my credit card number, so that's another little mess to clean up. After I get everything fixed, I'll post a blog on how to protect yourself better. I've learned a lot.

The hacker's note read to the effect that I was held up at gunpoint in London and would you please wire me $1500 so I can get home.

The irony is, I've been trying to figure out the best way to ask people to send $1500, not for myself but for some missionary friends who have a specific need right now. I didn't ask because... well, frankly... I was embarrassed. I feel like I've asked for a lot and that people must be getting tired of me reminding them to turn in their missions pledges or give towards a certain cause. Well, now I'm really embarrassed because all of you got bothered by someone using my name and my address.

I'm not saying that God hacked into my accounts. Not unless he has a phone number in Nigeria. I don't think he works like that. But I do know he can redeem bad situations to use for good.

So here's my idea:

Instead of sending your money to a scam artist, why not put it towards a good cause? You might have heard that the dollar is not doing so well overseas. For missionaries who depend on the dollar, it means their spending power has been dramatically cut. Our friends in Brazil, Ben and Juliana Roberts, find themselves unable to afford a lot of things, but their most immediate need is to provide education for their boys. They've had to pull their two sons from school because of the expense. They would like to homeschool, but Brazil only allows home education if it's done through an accredited institution.

For Juliana to teach her boys at home using the Calvert school, it will cost them $1500 for the year.

Instead of wiring money to England or wherever, why not drop a check in the mail?

Make it out to Cloverdale Church of Christ and earmark it for the Roberts' education fund.

Mail it to:
Cloverdale Church of Christ
3000 E. Park Ave
Searcy, AR 72143

If you want, leave an anonymous comment telling how much you'll send so we can all keep tabs. Help me redeem my crummy week by being a blessing to someone in need.

Help me make some lemonade.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Must Read

I don't have the Koonce family blog in my blogroll but I'll be adding it soon. Marty just wrote a series of posts about his recent trip to Togo that are encouraging, exciting, and - as he says - surprising. Scroll down to January 10 and read to the top and join me in praising God for people like Papa Koffi and Hammer and Ablavino and Bertain (formerly Houndzo).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dragon Party Time

I always feel like I've accomplished something when I pull off a birthday party. Our house is small and with 11 kids over on a rainy day, feels even smaller. Look at that smile, though. It was worth every minute.
This year's theme: dragons (a compromise of sorts since the birthday girl figured boys wouldn't enjoy a Hannah Montana party - nice of her to consider their feelings).

For those of you who are looking for dragon party ideas of your own, here's what worked for us.

I made dragon wings for each child out of felt so I didn't have to sew the edges. The wings velcro on with ribbon at wrists and neck. Note to self: sew the velcro on better next time.

Each child was given an egg with a dragon inside to take care of for the whole party. They were instructed not to open the eggs. (eggs from Dollar Tree, dragons from Joann's Crafts)

Build a dragon out of legos
Dragon egg relay (where the kids race with their dragon egg in a spoon down the hall. Each kids used his own egg and tried not to drop it. We made it harder on the older ones by making them go backwards)
Treasure hunt - I filled a "treaure chest" with bags of treasure goodies - candy necklaces, silver kisses and gold chocolate coins). I made really simple clues on index cards like "Mirror, Mirror on the wall." The kids ran to find the clue but before they cold open it, they had to perform a task (count to 100, do 10 sit-ups, spell their name out loud, etc.) to make the game last longer. The treasure hunt was a huge hit and hilariously funny to see a mob figuring out the clues and working together.

Dragon Breath punch (ginger ale, cranberry juice and orange juice in a bowl, set in a bowl of dry ice) The kids could blow in between the bowls to make the smoke come out. Note to self: no need to add ice to the punch, the dry ice froze it solid by the end of the party.

We happen to own every plastic dragon ever made, so the kids went to work hanging them from hooks and light fixtures. Stuffed dragons on the table and that was about it.
For thank you cards, we took a picture of each child sitting on a large stuffed animal. One of my older kids has drawn a picture of a dragon and is going to photoshop each child onto the dragon to send on individualized cards.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Back in the Nest

The fledgling has returned, a little older, a little wiser, and immensely proud of herself. And well she should be. She spent a week away from home, managed to wake up at 6:30 a.m. five days in a row (a miracle for a homeschooler), and proved she can keep up with the rest by earning an A+ in her legislative classes.

My job's not over yet, not by a long shot, but I'm realizing that it's in transition. This is the time to encourage and guide, to offer challenges, to encourage her to seek out her interests and cheer her on in her pursuits.

It's time to back off the nit-picking and trust her to figure out the small stuff on her own.

Letting go. I think this is the hardest job yet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Did I Miss This?

I've been to Lyon a few times and have seen many of the wonderful places the city has to offer from the Cathedral of Saint Jean-Baptiste to the old city to the Roman ruins, it's a fantastic place to explore and discover. Besides that, it's the gateway city to the Savoie region, one of the most beautiful places God made.

But how did I miss this - the Bal des Argents bookstore in Lyon? You've seen a cathedral, you've seen 'em all. But a bookstore? Everyone holds a different trove of treasures waiting to be discovered.

Doesn't it look like the magical kind of place where you could get lost for ages and not even mind?

*photo taken from and featured on The Most Interesting Bookstores in the World.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


One of my kids is taking a big step into the world tomorrow. I find as a mama bird that I'd love to have all my little chickies hang out in the nest and eat home cooking for a long time. They're getting big, though, and jockeying for position on the edge of the nest, ready to try their wings.

One week as a senate page at the state capitol. I wonder what she'll be like when she comes back to the nest. I bet her wings will be a little stronger.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Who Sinned?

May I just say that Pat Robertson is not my mouthpiece? I do not believe that the people of Port au Prince deserved this earthquake any more than the people of New Orleans deserved Katrina or the people of Thailand and Indonesia deserved the tsumamis.

Isn't it bad enough to suffer without the world laying the blame on your shoulders? While I do believe there are consequences to sin, I don't see the good of placing blame. It reminds me of the blind man in John chapter 9.

"Who sinned, this man or his parents?" the apostles asked Jesus.

"Neither this man nor his parents," Jesus replied, "This happened so the work of God might be displayed in his life... While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

The apostles saw the blind man, in his suffering, as an abstract example of how sin and punishment are connected. They could ask Jesus a question about whether the fault lay with the blind man or with his parents, listen to the answer and walk on to ask another question without ever really seeing the man in question.

Jesus saw him though. He saw him as a man who needed God, a man who needed healing.

Let's not sit around trying to decide whose fault the earthquake was or why a country that has already endured so much must endure even more. Let's do what Jesus did - heal the hurting. Let's be what he was - light to the world.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Cartridge Fairy

I ran out of yellow ink yesterday. There was no spare, which meant a trip to the store to get a new one. Only the store we were at was all out and I didn't feel like chasing around town to find one.

We'd just have to live without.

So, every print job yesterday involved pushing print, then standing up and walking around to the computer to confirm that I really, truly did intend to print without yellow ink.

This morning when I came to my computer desk, an empty cartridge wrapper was sitting on the shelf where the printer sits. Nearby, in the IN box, was a yellow printer cartridge, unwrapped. I went down the family line to find out who knew anything about this mysterious appearance.

No one.

I ran a test page. The printer said "No Yellow Ink," so I popped in the other cartridge, the mystery one, to check and see. It's brand new.

I guess the cartridge fairy came last night. I hope she comes again.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hands Free!

Nothing makes me feel more secure on the road than the woman I saw driving today with a cell phone in one hand and cigarette in the other.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


I was in a store tonight and was struck by the fact that a disproportionate number of people were rude. They parked their carts crosswise in the aisle so no one could pass. They pulled in front of me and then stopped suddenly. They left their carts along one side of the aisle and stood on the other side.

I wasn't in a hurry, but if I was, I would have been furious. What happened to common courtesy?

It's not fair to throw the generation out with the bath water, I know. Not everyone is rude. In fact most people are downright nice a lot of the time. It's just that all the pills seemed to be gathered in the middle of the aisles I needed to go down tonight.

I try not to be rude. I try really hard. But even I have my moments of disrespect. A few weeks ago I stood in a long line waiting to pay for one item. I got up toward the front of the line and, when a cashier called "NEXT!" I went to the register.

Another woman walked up behind me. "I was in front of you," she said.

She might have been. She probably was, but I honestly didn't see her there. I should have stepped aside and let her go first, but I didn't. I only had one thing. I was so flustered, though, that by the time the clerk went to hand me my receipt, I snatched it out of his hand and bolted from the store.

I'm sorry lady in front of me. I didn't mean to cut you off. I'm sorry cashier dude. I was embarrassed and I just wanted to get away. But I shouldn't have been inconsiderate. I'm sorry people in the aisles tonight. I shouldn't care more about reaching the Splenda and the shirts than I do about what kind of night you are having.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

birthday boy

Once upon a January
On a day Familiary
A young couple birthed the firstborn son they had been waiting for.
He grew up his hair so curly
People thought he was a girly.
As a teen he was a burley surfer on the L.A. shore
Singer in a group of four
Single then, but not no more.

Went to college, did some scoping,
Found a girl (as he'd been hoping)
Didn't need no cattle roping to get her down the wedding aisle.
Got a job and had a child
Headed north into the wild
in a car with luggage piled
Mile after dusty mile
And they stayed for quite a while.

Teaching, fishing, sons and daughter
In a city made of water
happy as a playful otter raised his family in the rain.
Kids grew up, he was retired
found some land that he desired
planted trees and was inspired
his small orchard to maintain
and all his loved ones entertain.

Now we celebrate a new year
with a song and with a no-teir
cake (we're eating healthy for another week or more)
Soon enough we all with gather
on a trip to honor father
there's no person we would rather
Wish a happy birthday for
Happy day and many more!

Friday, January 01, 2010


My brother (the one who can't stand to sit inside when there's a perfectly good outdoors waiting to be used) has been here for the past two weeks. We've been going walkabout.

I see so much more when I walk than when I'm in the car - tiny buds of pussy willows threaten to burst out despite the fact winter has barely begun. Moles and geese share the fields, one below ground and one above. Chickadees and juncos chirp out empty threats from the safe shelter of their bushes. White and green and blue and yellow and red Christmas lights illuminate trees and houses and woven creatures that I think are supposed to be deer. Frosty fog hangs in the air as long as it can before it falls to the ground as a gauzy white blanket.

He's gone home now, so I'll have to walk on my own if I'm going to walk. Wanna go with me? We'll see all sorts of things we've been missing.