Seeing a pattern. . .

Keep in mind I'm not exactly firing on all cylinders these days. Last night, going to bed and apalled at what I saw in my bathroom mirror, I quizzed Troy, "I actually look like someone who has been locked in their computer cubby for 2 days straight with time out of the cubby only for cleaning up vomit and cooking dinner, don't I?" Unfortunately for Troy, he said yes.

Is that why I have gotten out of my car THREE times today leaving it in drive? Twice the car was already turned off (do the math). If you drive by and happen to see the back end of my car sticking out of one of the walls of my house, you'll know why.


Amazing Love

The sad truth is that the busier I get the more I have to ponder and discuss with all of you, yet the less time I have to ponder and discuss. Just a few high points of the last few days:

In one 24-hour period it became necessary to explain circumcision AND suppositories to my children. Both explanations were met with equal looks of horror. No transcripts of the explanations are available. You'll have to do your own tap-dancing.

Riley has been sick so I have been working from home. So, that's supposed to be so glorious and convenient, right? Um, not so much. Reminded me of the cartoon I recently saw where 2 men are talking and one is staring at his cell phone saying, "Thanks to modern technology, I can hate my job from anywhere." (I do NOT hate my job, BBBS family -- just illustrating a point!) So, it's SO handy to be on the phone with my supervisor as we discuss that someone else needs us to accomplish the humanly impossible in the next 7 days while you hear Riley wretching in the background. And I also realized -- you can't leave your house and be done! It's always mocking you from your computer screen. Even now, it is, I promise!

I made yet another internet friend. I confess I used to think chat room people were such losers. A blog friendship is far more sophisticated, don't you think? :-) For the sake of this discussion, let's say 'yes'! :-) So I meandered over to Matt's blog -- simply because he made mention of The Chuck Wagon Gang, an unrivaled, unparalleled Gospel group as you can only imagine by their catchy name. I have really enjoyed getting to know Matt via his blog. This week he explained why one of his son's open adoption is SO open. Basically, there's just too much love in it to keep it quiet. What a precious, precious story. The following is from Matt's blog. Read, enjoy, and be blessed:

I will never forget when I first met Isaac not quite seven years ago. We
were coming off a failed adoption, and our agency had set us up with Isaac’s
birthmother without us realizing that they were going to do so. Lela wanted to
meet her and her baby, but I was against it. Frankly, I was too hurt from what
had just happened, but I acquiesced purely out of respect for my wife’s wishes.
We drove to the home where they were staying, met the birthmom, and held this
tiny sleeping baby boy. I’d like to tell you that I fell in love with him
immediately; that I knew instantly that God had provided this child for us, but
that wouldn’t be honest. The truth is that I was bitter that the first situation
hadn’t panned out, and I wasn’t interested in being burned again. When we left
their house, I told Lela, “This just isn’t going to work out.” I went back to
work and didn’t give the situation another thought all day.

I wish I could pretty up this part of the story, but I can’t. I had a
long day at work. I didn’t leave my office until probably eight that night, and
then I gave Lela a call on the cell phone to let her know I was on my way. When
she picked up, her tearful voice said, “Hello?” I knew at that moment that
although I hadn’t thought about the situation all day, it was clear that Lela
had thought of nothing else. She said, “This woman just wants to do what’s best
for her little boy, and she’s chosen us. How can we not seriously consider
this?” My heart began to soften, and we spent the next few days praying, seeking
counsel, and gathering information. We even went back to visit Isaac again.

When his birthmother said, “I want him to have a mama and a daddy,” my
heart was almost convinced. But here’s what got me – this woman looked at her
difficult background, her current chaotic situation, and the bleak future she
had to offer this little boy, and she said this:

“I just want one of us to make it out of here.”

Enough said. Isaac came to live with us on October 19, 1998, when he was
six weeks old.

Now understand this -- this woman didn’t give us a gift; she gave Isaac a gift. She didn’t do it out of love for childless couples; she did it out of love for Isaac. Lela & I are merely the beneficiaries of this woman’s immense, sacrificial love for her little boy. So tell me, why on earth would I want to keep her story a secret from him? It is one of two stories that define who he is. The other story, of course, is about another parent – a father, this time – who sacrificed his son. But you already know about that one, I believe.

Tomorrow, we celebrate Isaac’s story again; we honor his birthmother’s love once more. We’ll be driving a couple of hours to meet her as we do twice each year. We’ll eat together, catch up, deliver lots of new Isaac photos and snapshots, and we’ll get a chance to say “thank you” yet another time. But mostly, we’ll just
watch her watch him play. And we’ll marvel, as we do after each visit, at how
she ever mustered up the strength to perform such a loving, sacrificial act on
behalf of her son.

Amazing love! How can it be?

A quick follow-up to my last post:
*Saturday’s visit with Isaac’s birthmother went well. She brought presents
for all three of our kids (as she always does). We had lunch together and
watched the kids get sweaty on the Chick-Fil-A playground for a half hour or so.
The most common question we hear about these visits in particular is, “How does
Isaac do with it?” The answer is that this is normal life for him. We’ve been
doing these twice-a-year visits since he was just a few months old, so it’s the
definition of no big deal at this point. If it becomes a big deal for him later,
we’ll re-evaluate at that time.
*I came downstairs Saturday night and saw Seth sitting at the kitchen table
coloring. He looked up at me and said in his patented matter-of-fact way, “Hey,
Dad – Mom’s my birthmother.” I’m glad we cleared that up. :-)


Baked Potato?

I don't know what category this story fits into, but it still cracks me up. Well, I say that as if it cracked me up at the time. It did not.

This is from the "diaper days" as I so lovingly (not-so-much) refer to those toddler years. The church we attended at the time had 3-4 potluck luncheons a year. Wonderful, right? Not so much. They also requested that you bring _3_ dishes of food to feed 12-18 people each. So I would get up between 5 and 6 a.m. to finish up and get all of those dishes cooked and up to church so that they could be served stone cold AND (always my favorite part) I would return home with 3 dishes of food, each with about 2 spoonfuls taken from them. Can you tell I'm still bitter? I am. Actually what brought this story to mind was reading a recent bulletin of theirs -- they're still pulling it off. God love 'em! :-) So I was always looking for different things to take that would be easy -- I was frequently tempted, but never did bring a loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter.

One time I had the fabulous idea to bake potatoes to take (12-18 potatoes, of course). What could be easier, right? I got them all prepped the day before, woke up and turned on the oven. We had a little cooler to take them in -- maybe they would even still be warm! All went well -- until THE SMELL. "WHAT is that smell?!?" The kids were marveling, "MMMMMM, it's baked potatoes! Yummy!" But something was definitely not right. I finally realized that in our little tiny kitchen Troy had fed the dog and put the Rubbermaid pitcher of dog food down on an oven burner. Not just any oven burner-- the one where the oven vented air approximately 200* hotter than the oven was actually cooking. When we realized what it was, Troy jerked up the pitcher. Or, what was left of it. The bottom had, of course, completely liquified and dog food spewed all over the kitchen -- including back down into the oven vent. Yes, we were smelling grilled dog food along with melted plastic. The dog food was charred and stuck to the burner, and the plastic was still so melty and ooey-gooey that it was EVERYWHERE. Just one of those wonderful moments of meditation and quiet we all like to have on our way to church. We cleaned up the best we could, took our potatoes to church and had our luncheon. That afternoon, when I came home with 11 potatoes, the smell was still awful. But the kids were ruined, "Yum! It still smells like baked potatoes!"

Oh, but that's not all. Don't you love that God has such a fabulous sense of humor. Only a funny God like ours would have put a dog food processing plant between our house and Troy's work. So on the best of days when the dog food plant was really cranked up and we happened to be going to see Daddy or whatever we could drive by and smell that fabulous char-broiled dog food smell AND the kids never failed to say, "I smell baked potatoes!"

In my more clever moments, I may be able to make some sort of analogy about Satan leading us to believe the world has yummy, fluffy baked potatoes to offer when it's really just burned dog food. But not tonight.


Very Slumping

Remember Junie B.? When mean Warren wouldn't invite her to his birthday party? We ended with Junie's feelings hurt, so her friend Grace patted her real gentle and let her sit by the window. The next chapter is titled "Very Slumping".

I walked home from the bust stop very slumping.
Very slumping is when your shoulders are sad. And your head can't
hold up that good.
Grandma Miller was in the nursery.
She babysits me and my baby brother in the afternoon.
His name is Ollie.
I love him a real lot. Except I wish he didn't live at my actual

I started this to talk about "very slumping" and how I get that, but I think I want to talk about loving people that you wish didn't live at your actual house. Ever have those moments? Remember when I mentioned that there are some Sundays that I can either be real or I can be warm and welcoming, but not both. Yesterday was one of those days. And most of the people that I love more than my own life I did, in fact, wish they didn't live at my actual house. Including myself. Does anyone have an extra bedroom that isn't being occupied by a Katrina or Rita evacuee'? Seriously, if you'll cook for me and do your own laundry, you probably shouldn't tell me -- I may be there before dinner!

Still simply miserably hot -- we tied a heat record yesterday --104*. Doesn't that just make you think of pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and caramel apples? Me neither. So, just to grieve that only in our schedules is it not summer, here's a moment of reminiscing for you:

These pictures were taken the middle of August, shortly after it had rained off and on for 3 days and it was about 85*. It's now the end of September, I don't think we've had a drop of rain all month, and it's 104*.


Blogger stress

You've been asked to help start a ministry at your church. You are skilled in this area of ministry but a) are already stretched to your breaking point involved in other ministries and b)don't really see the need for this particular ministry at your church at this time. Without any further details -- what do you do?


Moronic Statements Regarding Rita

24/7 news coverage involves way too much talking, which leaves so many opportunities for stupid statements (trust me, I know about volume of words leading to stupid statements).

Two of my favorites thus far:

The first, because I'm pretty sure if Houstonians can't forgive and forget it will seal Rick Perry not being re-elected as governor:

Rick Perry, on the gasoline outages in the Houston area: "We told people at the beginning of the week to top off their tanks. I guess they just didn't take that seriously."

Um, Rick, what sort of vehicles are in the gubernatorial motorcade that can idle for 10-12 hours and don't need gasoline? We gotta get some of those.

Then tonight (Friday) before the Hurricane had actually made landfall, Lou Dobbs on CNN talking to some preciously perky raincoat-clad reporter in New Orleans reporting on flooding in New Orleans that was already 3-4 feet deep. As he's talking, there is an inset of the radar image of the hurricane showing that it has just begun it's fury:

"Can much more rain be expected?"

Perky raincoat-clad reporter was much more gracious than I would have been and said something to the effect that, yes, it can be assumed that more rain is on the way. I think my reply would have been: "What are you, a moron? Can you not SEE the hurricane in your monitor? Do you not understand the word 'hurricane'? Get off the air!!!"

Later I will have to report on my friend, Roxanne, and her evacuation that included 12 hours of car time, a 4 year old, a 7 year old, a snake, a rabbit, 2 chickens, a burned clutch, and landed them back at their house. Be safe, Roxanne!


Put Your Happy Face On. . .

As I have mentioned in "Thursday mornings with the Stirmans" Thursdays are hard for us to get started. Today seemed even more difficult. I haven't felt well this week, so I slept in a little longer than usual, and LOTS longer than I should have. I hate doing that because then I'm still groggy and staggering around while I'm trying to wake the kids up.

I try to wake the kids up with a silly made-up song, but my still-asleep brain couldn't do it. However there is a song that is played over announcements at the kids' school that is all of our favorite: "Put your Happy Face On". It's really fun and upbeat, and a frequent reminder/topic of conversation around here. So I woke the kids up and told them it was time to put their happy faces on. Later, staggering into the living room where Riley was putting on his shoes, I quizzed him: "Riley, do you have your happy face on?"


"I really don't either yet. That's okay."

"You can have mine, mom. I'm not going to use it."

He was definitely more awake than I was at that point!

Put your happy face on
And sing a happy song
And the whole wide world will sing along
If you just put your happy face on

Pick yourself up
Dry those eys
Try to look at life from the sunny side
And you will find
It's a beautiful day
The whole world loves your smiling face. . .

So Put your happy face on
And sing a happy song
And the whole wide world will sing along
If you just put your happy face on!


Today's Blog is brought to you by the letter 'H'. . .

HURRICANES -- Enough already! Some of you noticed Roxanne's comment that her family will be evacuating Houston (I think on Thursday). What a mess! Since Louisiana is generally the best way to learn how NOT to do things, Rick Perry (governor of Texas) has learned his lesson. Evacuations are in progress, I'm fairly certain we've already been declared a disaster area, and troops are at the ready. Roxanne reports that the best she could do in the way of groceries last night was a can of Pringles and a bag of tortilla chips. The only canned vegetables available were mustard greens. She passed on those. Safe travels, Langleys.

This is as good a place as any to show some pictures my dad emailed me. I am so sorry I am unable to credit the photographer, but these show Katrina in her destructive majesty as she rolled in:

Isn't that gorgeous? I think this one looks like God is REALLY ticked off. . .

And this one looks like you had BETTER have your life in order. . .

I was considering doing a blog entry about "little known facts" about me, but I'm such an open book I think you already know everything. But I just thought of this one -- I LOVE to watch weather. As creepy as those pictures look, I wish I were there to see it (in some building made of Kryptonite!)

HEAT -- Enough already! I'm pretty sure we've already broken 2 heat records this week, and today will be close. I'm melting. . . .

HUMBUG -- Troy and I were looking at our October budget today. By this time of year I have generally bought a Christmas present or two, and am really nailing down my list. Can you even imagine? Our heat index is about 102*. All I can think of is getting into the air conditioning! Please no Christmas. I will probably be sorry later, but I can't even begin to think about Christmas right now! And we got our Land's End Kids catalog today -- featuring snow boots.



While I see God's fingerprints everywhere, I would really appreciate one of those fingers pushing this heat wave elsewhere. 97* days are for when the pool is open. Will it ever be fall or are we just going to move directly into winter? I would take directly into winter, too. Every afternoon at 3:00 I leave my warm-ish office to get in my broiling hot car that doesn't cool down before I get to the kids' school where I get out and stand in more broiling heat to get back into the broiling car. I get home at 3:30 soaking wet, miserable, and very grouchy. Pleasant way to start my afternoon time with my family.


Sunday morning I talked Ashley through making scrambled eggs. Monday morning she made them (for herself AND her brother) without me even knowing! Very handy. I wonder what else I can teach her to cook?


Why does the excessively conscientious person who drives 5 mph UNDER the posted speed limit in front of me not mind running the stop light in front of me leaving me sitting there? I guess we all pick which rules we will follow.


I Can See the Fingerprints of God

I have had this thought/ phrase running through my head all weekend: "I can see the fingerprints of God". Yes, it's a song by Steven Curtis Chapman. But I have thought just of that phrase all weekend -- then yesterday on the way home from church I heard the song. Good thing I don't believe in coincidence, huh?

There are so many things to tell you that made me think of that, so I will simply touch on the highlights:
  • At a Gaither concert (Friday night in Lubbock) watching as people ranging in ages from 9 or 10 to 70 or 80 (and then some) worshipped the Lord together -- hands lifted high, eyes closed, tears streaming. The response from people when I tell them I went to a Gaither concert has ranged from "I can't stand that crap" to "That music just stirs my soul" and my own anticipation of going was somewhere right in the middle -- but you can't be among people sincerely worshipping and not see the fingerprints of God.
  • Sunday morning as Troy was honored to sing with Hallal and all of our parents were here, sitting with me and my children and another church friend and her children sat with us, I saw the fingerprints of God as we all sat and worshipped as family.
  • A broken man, confessing to his church family of the sinful life he longs to leave and the faithful wife who weeps with him have the fingerprints of God all over them.
  • Healed marriages that have been where that wounded couple has been show the healing power of God's fingerprints.
  • The one that made me think there is truly a man at my church walking around with a fingerprint of God on him -- a few weeks ago doctors found what they believed to be a cancerous lesion on the back of Ken's eye. Completely losing the eye was one of the surgical options tossed around. Prayers were prayed with fervor. At Ken's follow-up, the doctor said, "There's some sort of stain there, but there's nothing cancerous or anything to worry about." I told Ken, "That's God's fingerprint left there to testify to His healing power."

I am so thankful for evidences of God to testify to His power.


Lesson Learned

My birthday is this week. I'm feeling way better about it than I have the last two birthdays. This is true mostly because I feel way better about myself than I have -- well, for years, I guess. (Don't ever move to a new town, flood, get sued, watch a family member die, then glue your marriage back together in a few successive years -- it's murder on your body and your psyche). Chris Campbell recently wrote that he was slightly jealous of the ACU freshman moving in. Not me, man. I am so much more comfortable in my own skin (albeit quite a bit looser and wobbly skin) than I was then.

There's lots I've learned in the last . . . lots of years since entering college.

  • I really don't have to prove myself to anyone. My kids haven't quite bought into this, but I have and that's all that matters!
  • Procrastined tasks don't get any more pleasant with time.
  • Blue jeans do not fit actual humans. Okay, they may fit men -- because I haven't had this conversation with any men -- but of my friends that range in size from size 2 to size 22 I haven't found any of them that can purchase a pair of jeans off the rack that fits. If you see anyone wearing jeans that look like they were made for that person -- they probably were.
  • A person's willingness to perform any volunteer activity is generally directly disproportionate to that person's ability to perform said volunteer activity.
  • People are most defensive when they feel their pride/ego/dignity is on the line. Give them the opportunity to hang on to that, and they'll pretty much work with you.
  • It actually IS possible to have too many refrigerator magnets.
  • We try to teach our children not to think the world revolves around them -- but we never really learn that lesson, either.
  • If you're at the back of the store and realize you should have gotten a cart, DO NOT grab one that is empty just hanging around. It was abandoned for a reason. It is posessed by demons. Make the trip to the front of the store to get a "fresh" one (that is only mildly posessed by demons).
  • THINK VERY CAREFULLY before actually writing anything down. I learned this one this week.

I'm sure there is much more that I have learned but my new job seems to keep my brain cells from working on a regular basis -- much like the fancy-schmancy computer system they have there! I do think that "older" frequently goes with "wiser" for a reason. For the moment, I'm perfectly happy being both!


Equal Time for Ashley

First, to some of my new blog-readers via heartlight, WELCOME! If you're still reading that means you extended a little bit of grace to me from reading some of my more careless remarks and biting humor. To my 3 faithful blog readers, I'm sure you are thinking, "Doesn't Sarah have 2 children? Is she always this one-sided in her bragging?" To explain Ashley and why she gets so little press I have to tell one last Riley story. Two or three weeks into his kindergarten year we were all talking at dinner about our day. We were taking turns telling what was the best part of our day. Riley's best part of his day was that he only had to move his clip (disciplinary action) one time all day. I was incredulous, "You have moved your clip more than once every day until now?!?!?!???" Very proudly, he responded, "Yep, and only ONCE today!" Ashley was pretty incredulous, as well. Since Riley was 2 or 3 weeks into kindergarten, Ashley was 2 or 3 weeks into 2nd grade. In those 75 weeks she had been going to school she had moved her clip exactly once in first grade, she maintains her innocence in that infraction to this day, and it was the biggest trauma of her life. Kids like Ashley are a joy to raise, but don't create nearly as much writing material as the Rileys of the world.

Ashley is so many things that I'm not and so many things that I admire. One is a leader. When she was in pre-school Troy and I called her the Pied Piper. You would see a string of kids of all ages at church marching hither and yon and following the orders of a tiny little Goldilocks. That was Ashley. Now she doesn't mean to be a leader, but she sure-shootin' isn't going to be a follower. I wasn't like that at all at her age. I would have eaten any amount of Fear Factor food in the hopes that you would like me for no guaranteed amount of time. Very pathetic, isn't it? Ashley is very sure of herself. Clothes are NOT a big deal to her (again -- very unlike me). She wears what she likes -- and I haven't quite figured out what constitutes what she likes. I think her clothes are sentimental to her. She likes the t-shirt from the basketball camp she went to two summers ago, never mind that it's almost too small and has a chocolate milk stain on the front and a ketchup stain on the back (I don't want to know how). Troy and I have marveled at all of the precious little "girly-girls" (as Ashley refers to them) that think of Ashley as their big buddy. We notice that they must be able to overlook the whole clothing situation.

Ashley is a great audience to Riley because I think that laughing is simply one of her favorite things to do. And since laughter is "music to Riley's ears" they make a pretty good team. She also has the most tender heart. She loves people of all ages and stages and, like her mom and nonna, can't allow anyone to cry alone. She generally has to join right in.

My favorite Ashley story that sums up her heart is from shortly before she started kindergarten. Troy and I have very prayerfully and carefully chosen to educate our children in public schools. As the beginning of kindergarten was approaching I thought I should prepare Ashley for some of what she may encounter in school. We have always taught our children that God loves everyone and wants us all to follow Him, but He loves us so much He gives us a choice and some people don't choose to follow God. I told Ashley that some of the children in her class may never have gone to church or their mommies and daddies don't choose to follow God so there may be children in her class that didn't know God. Her eyes lit up with the perfect solution, "Well, then I will gather them all around me and tell them." Case closed. And while I'm not sure whether there has ever been a formal lecture involving The Almighty to any of her classes, I know that they see Him in her actions. I have a lot to learn from that girl.



Last night we went to the West Texas Fair for dollar-ride night. The crowd wasn't too bad (only broke families go to the fair on a Monday night), the weather was GREAT, and a grand time was had by all. Of course, all that was shot as we tried to get in bed at a reasonable time while Riley and I discuss (argue) that yes, he can have a band-aid on that unbelievably small abrasion on his elbow but AFTER he has a shower so of course the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth follow. All of this occured as Troy is out of town and on the other end of the phone trying to put everyone in a good frame of mind for bed. It's way too late for that. Finally, though, everyone seemed to have settled down enough for me to risk walking into bedrooms.

Riley was just getting his little mound of covers settled and said, "Help me finish this, Mom: 'From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee, across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea. . .' What comes after that, Mom?"

I finished up for him, "From Detroit down to Houston, from New York to L.A., well there's pride in every American heart and it's time we stand and say. . . "

"Okay, I know the rest."

I tucked him in and left him singing "Proud to be an American" in the dark. Don't you think we all could stand a verse or two of that? As the utility crews are rolling into New Orleans and churches continue to be the best hope for providing for needs in Louisiana and Mississippi, why don't you join me in the chorus:

And I’m proud to be and American,
Where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up, next to you
and defend her still today.
Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA!!

Editor's note: This blog entry dedicated to Tony Timms, Searcy, AR.


Riley the Comedian

As I mentioned in Riley's Aspirations, one of his goals in life is to be a comedian. If our family is any indication, he is well on his way. A few weeks ago I said, "Riley, you make me laugh." He got a big, self-satisfied grin on his face and replied, "Mom, that is music to my ears." If you have known me for a while you know that I generally have a "Riley story". I actually had forgotten one until someone else mentioned it this weekend:

Riley and I stayed home from church when he had a sore throat one Sunday night. Ashley was at Bible Bowl and Troy went to praise team practice. Trying to get a glimpse into his ever-growing spiritual self, I questioned him about ways he may want to be involved in a church body:
"Riley, how do you want to be involved in church when you get a little older? Would you like to be a singer, like Daddy, or. . . " (pause as I realize maybe he doesn't want to follow in his father's musical footsteps, and trying to figure what church work is better suited to his personality).
Riley finishes up for me: "Or, I could be a sitter, like those 5,000 other people!"
What do you say to that?

Then there was the time that Riley was fixing his hair in my bathroom as we all scurried to get ready for church. On one trip into the bathroom I glanced at my watch and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!" Riley continues to do his hair while gazing into the mirror, in a very Arthur Fonzarelli manner, and replies, "I'm not 'oh my gosh!' I'm 'ooh-la-la'." Confidence is no problem. Humility, on the other hand. . .


A thought

Perhaps I can save those study-people even more money. I now realize why we, as a nation, are getting fatter every year. Forget the fact that we are spending countless hours in front of our computers (reading Sarah's blog), or that we get the majority of our meals from a sliding window and then eat them in our car . No, we eat them while driving our car and talking on our cell phone.

In my shopping this week I purchased some vanilla and lavendar scented fabric softener. I have some kind of spice-smelling hand soap and vanilla scented lotion. We are getting fatter because we have made everything in our house smell like a chocolate chip cookie and no one can go all day smelling cookies and not have at least one!


I Lied

I can't possibly be totally through with Katrina stories. Riley got a new little boy in his 2nd grade class this week. His name is Ryan. Riley can't tell me much, except that Ryan is from Louisiana and he did leave because of the hurricane. "A tree fell on his house and broke his house." I've been in Texas way too long -- I was thinking of the times that mesquite limbs have broken off and torn up a few shingles on the house. Then I got this picture from dad:

That house is seriously broken. It made me think of poor Ryan, and his sister, Courtney. They are exactly my kids' ages. From the flood, I know that when the parents can't make heads or tails of their lives and situations, it's unbelievably hard on the kids. Ryan and Courtney thought they would be going to 2nd and 4th grades in south Louisiana and now they're in west Texas. I don't know their last names, or why they're here (besides the obvious), but say a prayer for Ryan and Courtney, and the mommy and daddy that have had to change the course of their whole lives.


Britney as Mom

If you've been under a rock for the last 4 months, or maybe just been doing something more important like alphabetizing your spices, you may not be aware that Britney Spears is pregnant. No, Britney's pregnancy isn't exactly at the top of my "news to know" list, but I'm going somewhere with this. She has an interview out in next month's Elle magazine. Excerpts from the article are posted on Yahoo!News today.

Britney plans to have a cesarean because "I don't want to go through the pain. My mom said giving birth was the most excruciating thing she's ever gone through in her life." I could address that on so many levels (like perhaps that means that only grown-ups should be giving birth) but I would just love to chat with ol' Brit for a few minutes:

What are you going to do about taking them to get their shots?

What are you going to do if they become seriously ill or injured?

What are you going to do when they cry unconsolably because the cool kids won't play with them or, worse yet, call them horrible names?

What are you going to do when their Mimi, that they begged God to heal, dies anyway?

Sweetie, the pain of childbirth is just a paper cut and a warm-up for the thousands of ways those precious angels hurt your heart. And I'm not even to the teenage years.


This Just In!

Okay, I was going to be finished with Katrina blogs, but then I heard on the NBC Nightly News that democrats are calling for a 9/11 Commission-style investigation into what went wrong and who is to blame here. Now that I have quite an audience of blog-readers, some who don't know me personally -- I will give a disclaimer that I in no way think that any human deserves the conditions that occurred in NOLA last week. It is a tragedy of the worst proportion. That said, allow me to save the taxpayers several million dollars on what a 9/11 Commision-style investigation would find. In summary:

When people put their lives in the hands of Louisiana politicians, Katrina and it's aftermath is about the best you can hope for.

There. In lieu of the millions of dollars you would have spent on that study, I will offer that conclusion for the bargain price of $750,000. Contact me for where to deposit.

I have also found that Katrina has given parents new lecture material: "There are children sleeping on cots in the Astrodome that got a Salvation Army dinner (it helps that the Stirman family has received a few of those) that just WISH they had a dining room table to clear off or dishes to unload from the dishwasher!!" Parenthood has no boundaries to the depths it will stoop.

This concludes the majority of my blogging on Katrina. Great things are happening and entire websites are devoted to that. Check in here for such superficial discussions as: does anyone really brew tea anymore?


Relief efforts

Would someone please ask Jason Barnard if it's okay if I post some of his emails -- 'cause I am!

I'm sure the men that travelled to south Louisiana this weekend can verify that there is simply so much to do. I'm also sure it's tempting to do nothing. I've seen blog after blog of efforts to help folks. Little pockets of people being Jesus to hurting people. "Believing Thomas" from Mississippi can tell you how people can help. "Out Here Hope Remains" is a minister in Mississippi and also has opportunities for help -- in his home as well as his church building. These folks and lots more have stories to tell of servants coming their way. Jason Barnard reported some from the weekend trip:

There was plenty for us to do but we were frustrated in not knowing who to help
first. We ended up cutting trees off of homes and and out of the yards of
brothers and sisters. We delivered generators from WFR relief ministries. We
were unable to bring enough gas for them to operate long. The gas lines at the
few stations that are operating are unbelievable. The damage was mind-boggling
considering cost and how much life has changed for them.

I was very impressed with the Tammany Oaks preaching minister, Todd Voght. You could tell he was great at counseling and praying with those who were distraught. Their needs are overwhelming. Messages we were asked to convey from Slidell and Mandeville were that they had plenty of food and water at this time. They need people that can come with campers(self-sufficient), electrical knowledge, GASOLINE!!(to go home on and LEAVE), Ice, chainsaws, rope, ladder, etc. Tractors with front-end loaders would be very helpful in some areas. Bobcat skidders would be very useful as well. They are busy and overwhelmed. One elderly lady needed someone with special equipment to remove the tree off her house. One guy wanted to charge her $4,500!!!! If someone has a cherry picker or that type of equipment
it would be very useful in the Mandeville area. I didn't see the Slidell area
because we were told that you couldn't enter. The brothers from Slidell that
came over and got supplies from us said that is not true. We already had some
commitments and couldn't help them. They said brothers and sisters who had 6
inches of water in their homes were thanking God that it was not 7. Those who
lost their homes were thanking God that they didn't lose their lives. . .

So many seem to be in disbelief at the amount of work that is needed
with this catastrophe. We were sad that we couldn't do more and Micah Harper(one
of our elders) challenged us to remember that in this disaster each one of us
can only do a little but as we continue to unite God will do so much more. Let's
encourage one another to do what we can with love for our Father and for one
another. Let's be very thankful. Those of us who went down to Mandeville feel we
have returned to a paradise. Thank God for coffee, water from a faucet, sewage
system, gasoline lines that do not require a half a days wait, hot food, a bed,
and air conditioned shelter to rest where there is no fear of looting.

May God
Open Our Eyes in Knowing How Best To Share That Temporary Paradise with

Jason Barnard

Forsythe Church of Christ

P.S. There are numerous great
ministries assisting the many efforts to bless those who are suffering from
Hurricane Katrina. If you desire to send funds to assist our efforts, our elders
are willing to oversee those funds being channeled to the numerous needs that we
continue to encounter. Contributions can be sent to Forsythe Church of Christ
Hurricane Relief 2101 Forsythe Avenue, Monroe, LA 71201

People are still going and coming from devastated areas -- leaving jobs and families to help people that need it. Keep those people and their families in your prayers as you pray for the victims, as well as the guidance to know what God is calling you to do.


Forsythe Responds

What are you doing this Labor Day weekend? Camping out? Big barbeque plans? Maybe even a little dove hunting? I noticed we were all fairly silent on my "what are you going to do about it?" blog. But Forsythe Avenue Church of Christ, my congregation where I grew up, is jumping in. Jason Barnard, the youth minister there, sent out this email late last week:

Attention those wanting to assist the Mandeville(Immediately North of Lake
Pontchatrain) community: One of the Elders at Forsythe church of
Christ traveled down there yesterday from Monroe. He sent this
message to me"There is plenty of work to do for able bodied men (mainly getting
trees off the houses)." Ronnie is a very humble and
honest man that would not have said this if there wasn't a significant
need. He is an electrical engineer and will be organizing our labor when
we get down there. He stated that we can enter St. Tammany Parish and that
there has been some miscommunication about that. I am organizing our team
here too and will be communicating to the different relief ministries and
churches that will be helping support our efforts.

Things we need our men to bring are: Gas Cans(filled with
Gas), chains saws, ladders, rakes, ax, ropes, cots for yourself to sleep on, ice
chest with food in it to take care of yourself but requires no refrigeration as
there is no electricity. FEMA is giving out MRE vouchers for ice and water
to people. Make sure you have a full tank of gas in your car -- you can
get gas in Tallulah before leaving Louisiana. If you have trucks also get
gas for the chain saws. We will try to consolidate our people into as few
vehicles as possible so we can have plenty of fuel.

We will leave tomorrow morning at 7:00 am from the church building
at Forsythe. We plan on returning Sunday evening. If you have
Walkie Talkie's please bring those to aid us in communication. Members
from Forsythe, WFR, University, Calhoun, Lake Providence, Jackson Street and
other congregations are planning to make the trip. Don Yelton from WFR
Relief is checking on getting us supplies. Relief ministries from
Nashville will be there Sunday with supplies. Hopefully a generator
of significant power for the Tammany Oaks church building will be able to
surface.(I believe Don is checking on this.) We will be
sleeping at the Tammany Oaks Church of Christ building in Mandeville.
It is a new facility without power or damage.

If you can't participate please do not feel bad. We just want to
share this information and invite anyone that desires to participate
in this blessing. I used to work at this congregation and organized
numerous events with their elders. I was richly blessed by this
congregation and want to help. They need us.

So if you are spending Labor Day weekend on the lake or at the pool, say a prayer for the gentlemen (I think they're all men) that are spending their Labor Day weekend away from their families, with chainsaws all day so that they can sleep on a pew, cot, or floor in a building without power. Thank you, guys, for being the hands, feet, and backs of Jesus to those people. While my minor flood didn't leave me without any earthly possessions, I know what it is to know some things will only be accomplished through the grace of other people, and how overwhelmed and humbled you are to receive such grace.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
Matthew 25: 34-39


Now What?

Denise -- get a blog! :-) Obviously emotions are running high about the aftermath of Katrina -- from the horrors on the news to what we pay at the pump. So what do we do now? No, I didn't ask what should the government do or where have they failed? I mean, we each have plenty of passion and emotion about it. What will I do with that? Gripe about a lack of government intervention? I'm tempted to gripe about people who live in a bowl that requires 3 pumps on a dry day to keep them dry continuing to live there. But that isn't very productive. My dad, an elder at Forsythe Avenue Church of Christ in Monroe, LA, says that the elders and ministers there are praying for eyes to see what needs to be done. Today a man walked into my dad's real estate office looking for a house to rent -- he and his wife had left New Orleans and lost everything and they need a house now.

Do you have a plan? How will you put your energy and frustration to work to help these people?



People standing in 98* heat that feels like 103* while pumping $2.80/gallon gasoline are not at their nicest.
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