Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Computer elves and politics.

I came downstairs this morning, looking forward to some some quality time with my computer but when I logged in, I was struck with the realization that someone had been messing with my baby.

Instead of being greeted with my peaceful and serene tropical fish background that I know is beyond boring but I'm old-school that way, my desktop had been edited/altered/changed while I slept.

Barack Obama was smiling at me beyond the icons. My new desktop image.

What?!? Who in the world would... Ah... I think I might have an idea who could be responsible for this...


They've been talking a lot about Obama lately and how he should be our next president.

Really? What do you like most about him?

His policies.

Huh. Which policy in particular do you agree with?

Um, well, I just like what he stands for.

And that would be...

Bush just sucks.

Really? And what is it about President Bush that you don't agree with?

His policies.

Wow. Which one in particular?

Um, well, uh...can you take us to the mall today?

Exactly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love thy neighbor.

I told you a few posts ago about my amazing ability to quickly lose my cool when my children have been targeted or, in that case, stolen from.

The other night, I realized that I have the exact same ability when my husband is misrepresented or accused of being something he isn't. I think it's called "momma-bear-husband-transfer syndrome", and I've got it bad. If it's hasn't already been made perfectly on this blog, of the two of us, Trey is the nice one. Everyone KNOWS he's the nice one. So, when someone says something about the hubs, it gets me all riled up because I'm easy rileable and they should know better.

I know rileable is not a word. It just fits so we're gonna work with me, right? Great. Let's move on.

Over the years, one of our neighbors has become increasingly negative toward everyone else on our street. They've put up fences where they didn't need them to ensure they're lawn wouldn't be inadvertently mowed, they've stopped letting their kids come play, and have cussed-out everyone from our air-conditioning man to our children playing in our own backyard.

We have tried really hard to be good neighbors and early on had a great relationship with them. As we saw them complaining about other neighbors more and more, we knew it was only a matter of time before we were on the black list. We have sincerely tried and made every concession we can to make they're lives as trouble free as possible. They don't want any kids in their yard so when there's a kickball game in the front, it's an automatic out if the ball crosses onto their grass. We're trying people. I swear.

The other morning while at VBS, Trey got a call that two police cars were in front of our house. He dropped what he was doing, put on his Kevlar, and went to check it out. Apparently, one of the boys' friends had come over and was trying to see if they were home by knocking on windows. We know this kid but I'm sure it looked suspicious so we were sincerely thankful the police were notified.

In passing, Trey saw our neighbor and said, "Hey, I don't know if you were the one who called the police but, if you did, I really appreciate you looking out for us."

He denied calling, which was fine so Trey moved on to the next neighbor saying the same thing.

Saturday night, I was out watering the weeds while Trey was at a movie with the boys. Our neighbor came over and said, "Your husband accused my husband of calling the police and we did not call them. Actually, I called up to the station to check on it and our name and address was on the report so I don't know why he told them it was us who called. We didn't and don't appreciate being blamed for calling."

Huh?

I defended Trey saying, "He was not accusing you, he was thanking you and the he really had no idea who called but since your husband was outside, he thought it might have been him."

Then she proceeded to say Trey was prejudiced against she and her husband.

Seriously? Prejudiced? Have you noticed he's never done anything but concede to your every whim and bend over backwards to right every wrong you think we've committed against you? He speaks to you every morning while you ignore him and walk inside. And, for that matter, have you noticed we're not exactly in the majority here and like it that way?

Silent scream.

I was able to keep my cool in responding to her except for the part where I said, "NO MA'AM ('cause that's not condescending. at all.). I will not stand here while you accuse my husband of something he isn't or take something he said in thanks and twist it to to serve your paranoia."

I think I read that in Matthew once. Trey couldn't find it but I'm pretty sure it's there.

I've been slowly reading Andrew Murray's book, Humility. It's incredibly convicting and says this about humility in the disciples of Jesus...

We may find professors and ministers, evangelists and Christian workers, missionaries and teachers, in whom the gifts of the Spirit are many and manifest, and who are the channels of blessing to multitudes, but of whom, when tested, or close interpersonal relationships reveal their true characters, it is only too evident that the grace of humility, as an abiding characteristic, is rarely to be seen...humility is one of the chief and highest virtues, one of the most difficult to attain, and one to which our first and greatest efforts ought to be directed.

I struggle with humility when pushed. It's the old analogy of a glass being struck and water flying out. The water comes out not because it was struck but because the water was in the glass in the first place. Through the grace of an infinitely patient Father, we are all learning to look more and more like Christ, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.

And prayerfully, with humility, we may learn to live out our greatest command...To love the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, and strength, and mind, and love our neighbor as ourself.

...even if they are a little paranoid. Oh my gosh! Make it stop!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Be still my heart...

Go over and look at my newest nephew, fresh out of the Ethiopian courts and, now, officially an Alexander!

We waited patiently for the Lord. He inclined and heard our cry...

Just between us, I think he totally looks like me.

Totally.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas.

The other day I was on the phone praying with a friend when my youngest, Sadie, walked in the room. When I was finished, she said,

"Mommy, you can call God on the telephone?"

"Oh, no, sweetie, we can talk to God anytime. I don't call Him on the telephone, I just pray wherever I am. Jesus opened the door so we can go before our Heavenly Father, robed in the righteousness of Christ, whenever we want just by praying. "

Never one to pass up the opportunity for a teachable moment, I also added, "I do have Santa's number on speed dial, though...I'm just sayin'."

Was that wrong?

Monday, July 21, 2008

It could be a country and western song.

One day down folks and three to go with Mercy Street's VBS. When we had 22 volunteers show up punctually at 8:30 for a 9:15 start time and the first child didn't walk through our doors until 9:30, we were reminded we were "livin' on West Dallas Time".

It's not always that way, oh, wait, yes it is.

There is just a little more latitude given to matters of on-timedness over here in the 'hood and we've learned to work around it. We just make the start time of an event is about 30 minutes earlier than we actually need it to start and we're all good.

We had about 20 kids come today which was pretty disappointing for me. It's easy to get caught up in the numbers and if I'm perfectly honest it hurts my pride a little. One of the teachers echoed so many others today that reminded me; the kids who come are hand-picked to be there each day by their Father who cares only that they hear His word and see His reflection in all of us.

Thank you for praying for this week and please continue to do so. Even if our numbers are small, these kids need us to hug them, to look them in the eye, to hear their unsure answers to questions, and to be the hands and feet of Christ, and maybe give them a lot of candy.

Oh, and not to call the little boys, little girls. I did that twice today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not my gift. Seriously.

I have said before that I have some seriously organized friends. Sometimes, I think that I can be organized by proxy or by osmosis, but have learned this week that neither of those work for me.

Mercy Street will be hosting our annual Vacation Bible School starting tomorrow morning and I have been (loosely) in charge. What should that sentence tell you? Let me break it down for you.

We don't have enough volunteers, we may not have enough craft supplies, our game may be totally lame, and we may or may not have songs lined up and if I have to sing all hell's going to break loose.

Yes, I just said that. I'm stressed.

Please, if you get a chance, will you pray that we will have a bevy of children come, and, in spite of my lack of organization, they will feel loved, and will see and hear the gospel each morning?

For those of you who always write comments, would you please use the time you'd take leaving a comment to pray for this week instead? And for those of you who never comment, I know you're out there and you have to pray, too!

...now go read this from my dear friend Gini and get your socks blessed off. I may be disorganized but I'm bossy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

people, it's been a long week

I really wish I had more to tell you. Sometimes I, as we all do, can find myself at the end of a Thursday night trying to figure out where the week has gone, why am I posting from my Blackberry, and why do I have another dog in the house?

Re-entry from camp was a little hard for Trey, especially when he got home and remembered we had 6 kids and 5 pets and no air conditioning again. It took a few mornings of "reacclimation", otherwise known as parenting to make him appreciate the time off but also desire more order than we've had lately. I thought we should start with the flower beds but that wasn't really the kind of order he meant.
Perhaps we need an "open/closed" sign for the front door so the neighborhood would know when they could drop by for a snack, a drink of water, or both and when it was just family time. Personally, I think we definitely need a system but am not super keen on my house looking like a storefront. Any suggestions?

With the help of Mercy Street's Work Crew (which will be a later post), we were also able to reclaim our flower beds from the weeds of death. In the process, our phone line was cut which left me without phone or internet. The beds look great and speed-typing with my thumbs on my Blackberry may be a hidden talent of mine. Jealous?

Yeah, probably not.

Our dear friends are in the process of listing their house and needed a place for their chocolate lab puppy to stay temporarily. We're using that word very, very loosley.

Why? Why? Why would I bring a chocolate lab puppy home to my husband the 'dog snob, lab-lover'?

WHY?

Trey is smitten and so is Darius for that matter. He literally climbed in my lap the other day saying, "Can we keep him?". I was a little disturbed when Trey did the same thing.

"What's one more, baby?", he cooed.

My sanity?

Seriously, does he only call me "baby" when he wants a lab puppy? I'm going to have to pay more attention to that one.

Edited to add*** did you notice this published twice? It's because I'm trying to post on a 1"x1" screen. So sorry, guys.

people, it's been a long week

And I really wish I had more to tell you. Sometimes I, as we all do, can find myself at the end of a Thursday night trying to figure out where the week has gone, why am I posting from my Blackberry, and why do I have another dog in the house?

Re entry from camp was a little hard for Trey, especially when he got home and remembered we had 6 kids and 5 pets and no air conditioning again. It took a few mornings of "reacclimation", otherwise known as parenting to make him appreciate the time off but also desire more order than we've had lately. I thought we should start with the flower beds but that wasn't really the kind of order he meant.
Perhaps we need an "open/closed" sign for the front door so the neighborhood would know when they could drop by for a snack, a drink of water, or both. Personally, I think we definitely need a system but am not super keen on my house looking like a storefront. Any suggestions?

With the help of Mercy Street's Work Crew (which will be a later post), we were also able to reclaim our flower beds from the weeds of death. In the process, our phone line was cut which left me without phone or internet. The beds look great and speed-typing with my thumbs on my Blackberry may be a hidden talent of mine. Jealous?

Yeah, probably not.

Our dear friends are in the process of listing their house and needed a place for their chocolate lab puppy to stay temporarily. We're using that word very, very loosley.

Why? Why? Why would I bring a chocolate lab puppy home to my husband the lab-lover? WHY? Trey is smitten and so is Darius for that matter. He literally climbed in my lap the other day saying, "Can we keep him?". I was a little disturbed when Trey did the same thing.

"What's one more, baby?", he said.

My sanity? Does he only call me "baby" when he wants a lab puppy? I'm going to have to pay more attention to that one.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Describe that Shopper

You know after 13 years of marriage, we're still lovin' almost every minute of it. By almost, I mean except for the times when I try and get his opinion on a "fun top and pair of jeans combo" and he sighs helplessly and then tries to get my opinion on a "rod and reel combo" and I have to act helpless because I totally read BassMaster Magazine. Who doesn't?

We've found a fun game that makes us laugh and hence, continue to like each other.

It's called, "Describe that Shopper."

One of us will call after witnessing someone doing something and the other will have to try and describe what they look like.

Here are a few recent examples;

"Melissa, I'm standing behind someone at the Exxon Tiger Mart. It's 8:45 in the morning and this individual is purchasing a chili cheese dog, a 32 oz icee, a Hershey Bar, and four $5 scratch-offs. Describe that Shopper!!!"

Here's another.

"Trey, I just saw someone buy four boxes of flavor-ice popsicles, one jar of Gerber Turkey and Rice baby food, and a drinkable yogurt. Describe that Shopper!!"

Last night, I became that shopper.

It was 10:30 and I was standing in line at the Wal-Mart with a gift bag, a party in a bag decoration kit, and a package of Ramen Noodles. Nice combo.

You see, today is Darius' 15th birthday and some years back Trey insisted that we decorate the house on everyone's birthday. So last night, while he was recovering from camp with the aide of his pillow, I made a last minute run to the store for decorations and picked Dea up his favorite gourmet cuisine while I was at it.

Happy Birthday Darius! We love you! Thanks for having a birthday and turning me into a victim of my own game.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ode to our Forefathers...and Foremothers

We have been without air conditioning for the past 36 hours and, I know I am spoiled rotten, but it's really stunk.

It's been 100 degrees outside and inside, the thermostat has tipped at 89. We've been able to get out during the day but the nights, oh the nights. It's hot and sticky and Sadie still wants to fnuggle. The thought of another human being touching me when it's so hot has given me renewed respect for the generations who came before us. (Especially before 1902 when air conditioning was first used. I've been on hold with the 'powers that be' long enough to hear lots of useful air-conditioning trivia.)

The fact that those precious people were able to consummate their marriages and reproduce in the midst of a Texas July astounds me and fills me with awe and respect. Especially when antiperspirants weren't patented until 1941. (You know, I heart Wikipedia.)

So as the temperature climbs to 100 again in Dallas today, hats off to the pioneer lovebirds who still felt the desire to do the deed in the midst of sweltering heat and calico dresses.

Hats off.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fantasy vs. Reality

Trey took about 90 kids to Kids Across America this week so we've been winging it on our own. I can write this now because he's on his way back, so none of you crazy stalkers will come knock on my door. Especially you, and you.

Oh, I kid.

The first night Trey was gone, the kids built forts in the playroom. Their intention was to sleep in them every night until Daddy came home.

Because I'm a fun-loving mom who cares nothing for a clean house. Deep breath, Melissa. Deep breath. I said, ok.

Here's what our playroom has looked like all week.


Do you think they really slept there all night?

Hmmm. Not so much.

Here's what my bedroom looked like all week.



Four times every night, I heard, "Mama, can I fnuggle wif you?

Just to be clear, Dea did not want to fnuggle but instead, stay up all night and watch scary movies downstairs. I just kept hearing him yell at the t.v., "DON'T GO IN THERE! HE'S WAITING FOR YOU! HE'S RIGHT BEHIND THE DOOR!!!"

Oh, and we've had ice cream for breakfast twice.

How do you like that?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Christmas Cards. Check.

I mentioned a few posts back that there would be a little article in Luxe magazine on Trey and Mercy Street.

It came out last week you can read the interview here.

Trey was, as always, most articulate and spoke from the heart and I'm so thankful that Linda Faulkner was able to make some complete sentences out of my stuttering and verbal hopscotch.

I'm also incredibly thankful that we now have a photo for our Christmas cards.

I may actually get them out on time this year.

P.S. The boy blowing the bubbles is Cornpop. How great is that name?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sometimes, it's better to look up.

I was running the other morning and admiring the beautiful sunrise we were having in West Dallas. Despite the rampant ugliness that plagues this part of the city, we do have some of the best sunrises and sunsets I've ever seen. It's probably the pollution, but I always think God is giving us a wink when He blesses us with His artistry, especially in the morning when few are even awake to appreciate it.

These sunrises are definitely a distraction for me because when I look down, I can get focused on the decay, the trash, and other miscellaneous stuff I find on the road.

Like this...

Yes, that's some Mary Jane, you know, reefer, hooch, weed, pot, homegrown...

Just a lyin' in the street- waitin' for some kid to find it and decide he wants to give it a try.

I picked it up and brought it home to flush it and then kept running, thanking the Lord for His presence, His help, and His sunrise.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary (and sometimes contraband), but what is unseen is eternal. "

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Not a great day.

I'm not exactly sure how to write this post and am at a total loss on how to start so I'll just begin by writing what happened yesterday and then hope it flows from there.

I had just the little ones home yesterday afternoon and we were getting ready to head out to run a few errands before Trey got home.

I was going to pay some tickets so I wouldn't get arrested but that's totally not the point of this post and I'd appreciate you not dwelling on it, but also giving me the name of a good attorney if you happen to have one handy.

I digress.

I was downstairs trying to round everyone up and Tee was already waiting in the car when the girls came running down the stairs screaming and crying. I couldn't understand what they were saying but they have a penchant for the dramatic so my first reaction was definitely not panic.

When I heard the word "FIRE!" and "House is on..", I panicked. By now everyone was screaming and crying and I could smell smoke so I scurried everyone outside and ran in to see what was burning. After several moments of trying to find the source of the smoke and smell, I looked under our air hockey table to see a lamp and a blanket in flames. I could hear my kids still screaming in the front yard and quickly put out the fire. When I got the kiddos inside and assured the them everything was fine, they started crying and screaming all over again. It was right about then that my oldest called his father; screaming that the house was on fire. I couldn't even explain anything yet since I still didn't even know exactly what had happened .

When I finally got everyone settled and tried to find out how the fire started, Sadie, through tears said, "I was playing tent and plug-ged in the lamp from our room and it caught on fire." When I looked at her closely for the first time, her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes were all singed.
Now, I totally broke down. I KNEW that lamp had a short in it and had meant to have it rewired but hadn't taken care of it yet and worse, had left it in the girls' room. Holding Sadie and smelling he smoke and burned hair, my mind immediately went down the road of "what if" and it's a dark path. I trust fully in a soverign God who has us firmly in the palm of His hand but I also struggle with my flesh that keeps whispering, "Where were you? Why weren't you watching her? What if it had been worse?"

Over the years, I've been taught great lessons in humility when it comes to caring for children. It's so easy to believe, "I got this." and yet we never really do. We aren't designed to work independent of His grace and it only takes a moment to be reminded of our inadequacies. We are designed to depend fully on One who graciously gives us each breath and to lean into His strength when we are weakest.

Thank you, Lord for protecting Sadie, and the rest of our family yesterday and always. Thank you for sheltering us all in the shadow of your wing and for reminding me that You are an ever present help in trouble. Without You, I am lost.