Monday, June 29, 2009

The real story.

I posted Saturday about my brother turning the ripe old age of 40. In the post , there is a picture of my brother and I when we were wee babes and I may or may not have suggested that the scared out of my pants expression on my face, captured on film for all eternity, was due to the fact that my stinky brother had whispered into my ear something like, say, "I let the cat lick your passie", etc., etc.

A few minutes later, I got this email from my beautiful Grandma.

"Just read your blog and I will tell you why your eyes are so big in the picture.  Your Mother and I were together and the photographer was making goofy noises to get you to smile and look at him.  Bryan hugged you and told the guy, "Don't talk to my baby sister like that!" the photographer snapped the picture and this is the end result.  We all thought it was cute because we knew your now 40 year old brother was protecting you. 

Now you know the story ☺.  We wish Bryan a HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND GOD'S CARE UNTIL HE GETS HOME AGAIN.  

Love,
Grandma."

And with the receipt of this email, I found out something very, very shocking.

Grandma lies.

Oh, Grandma, I kid.

I know the only reason I can get away with that is because she's in the heartland of Nebraska and can't swat me on the rear.

I love knowing the story behind the picture and being reminded of the sweet presence of my dear grandparents from the time we were born. There is not a summer I can remember growing up without a week or more spent at their house.

We found birds nests in their bushes and watched the eggs hatch, we blew bubbles and took naps on their back porch while Grandma sang. She let us eat bowls and bowls of "sweet cereal" when it was banned from our house in an act of grand-parental indulgence. We baked, and sewed, threw the baseball, and smashed cans with another of my grandaddy's fun inventions.

More than anything I remember, though, was not the activities, but simply the time spent. Even today, when my grandparents give opinions or advice -mostly Grandma because she's the chatty one :) - I listen to what they have to say. They have built into their grandchildrens' lives some pretty weighty love capital and have earned with all of us a place of honor fitting two with crowns of grey on their heads.

Well, maybe only one crown of grey. Just keepin it real, Grandpa.

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Birthday!

My way cool big brother turns 40 today.

40. It has such a nice ring to it.

Can you hear that ring, Bryan, or do we need to speak a little LOUDER for you?

Here's a picture of him doing his cool SEAL stuff. It's from one of the several books he's either photographed in, or quoted in, or his life is portrayed in. His coolness overwhelms me.

And here's a picture when we were innocent, little babes. He looks so sweet. I look somewhat frightened.

Maybe he had just whispered something dastardly in my ear like, "Melissa, I let the cat lick your passie..."

Totally wouldn't put it past him.

When I was in junior high, I had a friend spend the night and, as she and I were going on and on about the cuteness of Brad Small and how we totally thought we could do the dance from "Thriller" as well if not better than any of the actual dancers on the video. (Shout out to you Michael Jackson) Bryan and a friend had snuck into my closet through the attic and recorded our ridiculous conversation. Probably using my Sony SPORTS Walkman which Bryan totally hijacked from me the day after I got it. Not bitter, totally not bitter.

Anyway, he threatened to play the most embarrassing recording over the loudspeakers at Klein High School if we didn't pay him five dollars.

You've never seen money change hands so quickly.

It wasn't until years later, that I was actually making the morning announcements at my high school in the P.A. closet with the fortified steel door and six locks, that I realized he was probably bluffing. I mean, it was way before 9-11 but Mr. Middlestadt ran a pretty tight ship.

As paybacks are sometimes a long time a'comin', I may or may not have called Bryan's C.O. to make sure his 40th birthday is properly celebrated by all the men in his command.

Anyway, since he's 40 and all, I was thinking of all the things I hope to do by the time I'm 40 (which is years and years away). Jump out of an airplane, survive raising a teenager, travel around the world, and live in a place where it's 130 degrees in the summer. Ok, maybe not that last one but, my stinky brother has done them all.

Show-off.

Is there anything you want to do before your turn 40, or 50, or 80, or 30? And, since he's on the other side of the world and you can't very well call him, (I would totally give you his number if you could) would you please join me in wishing him a happy 40th birthday!!!

Happy Birthday, Bryan! You are loved beyond measure!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

God's dirt.



The temperatures climbed into the 100's yesterday afternoon here in Dallas but that didn't stop a small group of little league baseball players,


businessmen, landscape developers,

Mercy Street staff,

West Dallas pastors,


community leaders,

police,


and neighborhood kids

from coming out to break ground on what will be West Dallas' Field of Dreams.

Years ago, this twenty acre piece of land, along with hundreds more acres in West Dallas, was covered by some of the largest single family, barrack style, public housing in the country. Crime was rampant helping make West Dallas a place many wanted to escape from or simply avoid all together.

When the city ordered the demolition of the old projects and the rebuilding of condo-style public housing, this twenty-acres was left empty. And for over ten years, as Trey said yesterday, the land has laid fallow.

Then, a couple of years ago, the Dallas Housing Authority agreed to lease the acreage to Mercy Street for a period of 99 years. At the rate of $1 a year.


And yesterday, after lots of time and energy spent in prayer and by architects, property developers, and the Yellow Rose Landscape Company, we broke ground on what will become a multi-use sports complex for the community.

Bert at the Yellow Rose spent so much time in the city offices getting permits, they've given him his own parking space. And pencil sharpener.

There will be three regulation little league fields, two soccer fields, restrooms and concessions promising to serve the best nachos and dill pickles around. We may even whip up some extra-special Kool-Aid pickles on occasion.

One of the board members of Mercy Street said, "This is God's dirt - has always been God's dirt." It could not be more true.

I've said before that one of my favorite sights is watching baseball players, in their uniforms, carrying their bats and gloves, walking from the public housing to their games on Saturday mornings.

Prayerfully, this land will be used by the Lord to give the kids of West Dallas a place where not only physical skills can be developed but character as well.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Payback.

Trey, thankfully has fixed my computer. Kind of. If this post self destructs in 90 seconds, you'll know who to call.

So Trey and I met a family at camp who we loved but, in the interest of keepin' it totally real, we may have kind-of, sorta snickered at one of their idiosyncrasies.

They were very, very worried about getting poison oak. Giggle.

Every time they would come back from an outing - horseback riding, hiking, dinner - they would want everyone to scrub down with Tecnu which is, in their words, "the very best treatment out there for poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac". Snort.

They would encourage everyone to totally disinfect and place our clothes in plastic bags so that the oils would not spread.

Uh, yeah, we're good. Snicker.

Saturday,we had a baseball game and of course five minutes after we arrived, Sadie decided she needed to use the restroom. Now, we had just left a store where the bathrooms were immaculate but did she need to go then? Of course not.

With no port-o-pottys in sight and Sadie hopping around holding her breath, we trekked off into the woods to find a tree. I know, don't judge me, that's not at all the point of the story.

On Monday morning, I woke up with a red, bumpy rash covering my arm. It actually woke me up because it itched so stinkin' bad.

Trey immediately diagnosed it as poison ivy cause, you know, he's a doctor and all.

It is so bad I've actually thought twice about going and having acrylic nails put on just so I could scratch better.

Last night, as a new ragingly itchy patch appeared on my opposite shoulder, Trey - not practicing loving me as Christ loved the Church - said "Wow, I sure bet you wished you had some Tecnu right about now." And then he snorted and snickered all the way to the t.v. to watch the College World Series.

Whatever. Scratch. Itch. Scratch.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

My computer has been down all weekend which may or may not have something to do with Dea and Darius downloading "free" music for their cell phones from my laptop.

I have told them many a time that "there's no such thing as free music". And by saying that somehow have channeled my own father.

Growing up, he taught me about working hard, taking care of your responsibilities, and taking a second look if something seems too good to be true. I hear him sometimes when I'm trying to teach my kids some of the same lessons.

My Dad lives out of town and we don't get to see him nearly as much as we would like. but, when we do, my kids jump for joy! It doesn't hurt that he often comes with 2lbs. of Jelly Belly's stashed in his suitcase. He knows the path to my children's hearts; sugar.

We've tried to persuade he and his wife to move to Dallas but they'll have none of it. Apparently, if you don't break 110 for weeks in a row in the summer, you're not even in the running.

Curiously, he lives quite a bit closer to my stinky brother.

Odd.

I may need to investigate that further.

Anyway, Happy Father's Day, Daddy! You are loved very much.

And I'm sorry I don't have a picture of you on my phone to post.

People, just imagine the most handsome man ever. Now, remove his hair.

Hope you had a great day!

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Some Friday fun from the hood.

Ok,

We've just wrapped up a week of Vacation Bible School that was so fun but not quite a vacation. All new respect for teachers who have to 'bring it' every day of the week.

Loved the kids in my class, had a great time getting to hang out with old and new friends and watch hilarious skits but, I'm pooped, my kids are pooped, and we all slept in later than our usual crack of dawn-thirty.

While we had the morning to ourselves, Trey and I spent some time together catching up and watching this video of Taylor Swift and T-Pain.



I don't care what anyone says, it's funny.

Well, that led us to this sight, www.myrapname.com, which is a rap name generator. Here's what it came up with for the Crew.

Trey - Lucid Tenacious Trey T a.k.a. Vile Daddy
Me - Lissie H. Goddess a.k.a. Queen Cheeks
Tee - TH Scam a.k.a. Dr. Nugget
Sadie - Luscious Double S Sugar a.k.a. Shady Cakes
Dea - Fierce DD
Darius - Manic DJ Rough Blade
Graham - Mighty Grammy H a.k.a. Slick Frenzy
Olivia - OH Money Chill

So, um, if you wouldn't mind addressing us by those names from now on, we'd really appreciate it.

Now, go get urself a sweet rap name and come back and give me the 411.

Yo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cause, I mean, who wouldn't want a little of that?

Our neighborhood grocery store just started carrying this candy and Sadie is convinced her life will be meaningless and without clear direction and purpose if I don't allow her to spend some of her allowance on one.



I just can't do it. Maybe because it's called the Sour Flush.

Or because the lollipops are shaped like plungers.

Or that I believe candy should look as little like a toilet as possible.

Whatever the reason, Sadie was mad and cared not even a little bit about my 'using our purchasing power, or non-purchasing power, to rid the world of toilet candy' speech.

It made me think, why can't candy manufacturers come up with products with a little more positive message like the 'clean your room candy', or the 'go read your Bible candy'.

And it made me curious about what other candy nastiness is out there.

Here's a few.

Earwax candy.

Lick your wounds candy. Basically, bandaids with candy scabs.

And finally, the Chocka-Caca. It's a baby diaper with chocolate poo in it.

I believe this pretty much sums up all that's wrong with the world. Ya'll have a great day and go get yourself some Milk Duds which, in comparison to these are like a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A nightmare and a wonderful dream.

So, Arkansas was a blast and a hoot all together. A bloot if you will. It sounds like a word my kids would think was naughty or referred to bodily functions. They're sick little puppies.

I don't know where they get it from. Maybe a parent who, when looking at a beautiful waterfall in the Ozarks is immediately distracted by this group of people.

And must take a picture.


And then zoom in so you can all appreciate what made me laugh so hard I snorted Diet Coke out my nose.

Ah, yes, some Arkansas sunshine.

Ok, so anyway, Tee loves rocks and gemstones and all sorts of coins, etc. and had been talking endlessly about digging for Diamonds in Arkansas. Since we were in the state for a week, Trey decided it would be a great idea to swing by the Crater of Diamonds State Park on our way home.

Oh, yes we did. YeeHaw.

The deal was, we went out in this giant field of dirt, in 95 degree weather, and dug around aimlessly for diamonds or gemstones.

LOOK AT THAT!!! Acres and acres of dry, dusty, dirt. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend hours on end here searching for a 6.5 karat diamond like the one last found in 1998. For sure this spells fun with a capital F.

Once you've loaded up your bucket with rocks and dirt, you walk over to the giant tubs filled with cloudy water to sift through your finds.

I thought Dea was going to fall-out in front of everyone when he found out the sifter/combo we rented cost $87.50. Now, that was just the deposit, the net cost was only $11 but Dea knew the odds that Graham was going to somehow get his hands on it and break it were high. It would have thereby made the sifter/combo our most expensive purchase of the trip. Hands down.

I found it interesting that Sadie was helping her Daddy do all the dirty work and Tee, for whom the detour was primarily intended, was nowhere to be found.

Oh, my bad. Here he is almost knee deep in mud. His brand new flip-flops, lost forever.

And what about the other children, perhaps they were floating on a marshmallow cloud or at least out toiling the soil finding me a pretty jewel for my finger?

Or, no.

Mud.

With a cast on.

At this point, I reminded everyone that we had to get back in the car and drive the rest of the way home.

This explains why Trey never wants to pile the whole family into his car for expeditions like these.

At the end of the day or 45 minutes which is how long we lasted, here's all we found. Darius got himself a good laugh out of that one and Tee just wanted to know where the nearest Sonic was.

The only redeeming part of the whole day was pulling into our driveway later that afternoon.

Something was different about our house - I could sense it. Like a Ninja.

Walking through the front door, I was immediately struck by two things. 1. My dog. 2. How stinkin' clean my house was.

It actually sparkled.

While we were gone, my amazing Mother in Law cleaned my whole house and, on top of that, had my carpets cleaned.

I knew I married well.

Every square inch of my house had been shined, polished, and fluffed. SHE EVEN CLEANED MY OVEN AND MY JUNK DRAWER. My JUNK DRAWER!

Now you might be thinking, "Does that bother you that she came in and cleaned for you? That she saw all your dirt? Does that somehow over-step the in-law boundries? Yada Yada Yada Yada..."

NO.

I loved it. Was so incredibly blessed. (thank you Candy. Shout out to you and your awesome self.) And will try my hardest to remember to do that for my daughter-in-law someday.

Unless my son marries someone who gets a bee in her bonnet about her mother-in-law and boundries and so forth. Then I'll just take her hunting for diamonds.






Sunday, June 14, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

Welp folks, we're home and dang happy about it.

We had a great time at family camp and now, to be perfectly honest, kinda need a vacation from our vacation.

We rode horses, laser tagged, hiked, and floated down the river on inner tubes too small for my bottom.

I've thought a little about how my request for larger inner tubes would read...

"Dear Sir,
Would you please purchase inner tubes made for people who eat every bit of your delicious food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Including dessert. And who may, or may not on occasion, partake in a Choco-Taco from the snack bar.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Someone who wants to float down the river and not be reminded of how much he or she has eaten on this trip."

We did eat our fair share of Choco-Tacos, which are basically ice cream stuffed waffle cones shaped to look like tacos.

I guess, in all honesty, the ice cream cone and taco are interchangeable in terms of nutritional value so it's not like anyone's trying to pull a fast one.

We did take this precious shot of our whole family just before we saddled up. It would have possibly had Christmas card potential if I had only remembered the many, many benefits of a little make-up.


Our trip was so much fun and we're so thankful for the opportunity to get out of town for a few days and have a little time to reconnect. We all made new friends and were even able to reconnect with some old one's we hadn't seen in a long, long time. I Love how the Lord orchestrates every detail - which makes me wonder about the inner tubes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What in the world?

Well, we arrived in one piece to family camp deep in the heart of the Ozarks. Darius made $5 because he didn't throw up in my car. He get's carsick so I'm feeling like it was a win/win for everyone.
I'm not really sure what to do with this but, um, yeah, there is no cell phone service at camp nor is there an internet connection.

We forgot shampoo so I had to drive into town this morning. It looks like I'm actually going to have to be still this week and really rest.

Oh, and eat. The food is divine and they have both Diet Coke and Milk Duds. Is it Heaven?

Actually, I really should have seen the whole no cell/internet thing coming when we passed the sign for Toad Suck Park. That's a sign if I ever saw one.

Ya'll have a great week and I'll have fun stories by the pound for you next week.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Family Camp

A few weeks ago, Trey was in his office praying. After he prayed for his wife to be sweet and submissive and not spend all of his money on Milk Duds, he asked the Lord for something else.
He prayed that we might be able to take a family vacation this summer. We could sure use one but, you know, there's the whole feeding and clothing six children thing that seems to stand between us and some sweet, sweet chilaxin.
Not fifteen minutes later, a gentleman from one of our church partners walked into Trey's office.

"Trey, could you and your family use a week away? We'd love to send you to the Ozarks for family camp. You'd be totally taken care of and get a chance to get some rest."

"Oh, um, no thanks."

"WHAT!?! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!!"

We're on our way and can't wait to relax a little bit with la familia.

It's about a seven hour drive and this is what our car has looked like most of the morning...thanks to a little Dramamine.

We're so excited to kick our feet up and spend some time together in the beauty of northern Arkansas. And I keep telling Trey that he should be thankful...the Lord answered 1/2 of his prayer.
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beans, Beans, the...well you get the picture.

Our first week of summer has been so fun and relaxing, but a little more interesting than I thought it would be.

One of the guys who works with Trey at Mercy Street took his twelve year old mentee on a mission trip to Zambia. They left Sunday afternoon.

Monday morning, Trey reminded me that we had agreed to spend this week praying for these friends. Oh, and eating what, like, 90% of the world eats on a daily basis; rice, beans, and oatmeal.

"Seriously?"

"Yes. Seriously."

"But prayer is so powerful on it's own and I think I actually pray more fervently with Milk Duds by my side." I don't really, I was just angling for a loophole.

"I know you do baby, but it will be a good reminder to us of how blessed we are to have all we have in this country."

"Fine."

I think Trey could tell I wasn't excited. Excited, no - but I was all in.

The kids, not so much. They've tried, but cheated a little with go-gurts, bananas, and fresh baked brownies that my sweet (or evil) friend Lauren made for us.

Sadie said from the get-go that she "didn't think she was going to partithipate" but even she's eaten her fair share of beans and rice.

Now don't get me wrong, I haven't been exactly hard core. I KNOW Mild Dud's don't grow on trees in Zambia but I've pretty much convinced myself that Diet Coke is a staple around the world and, last night, when my friend Tracy brought dinner for Mercy Street Fellowship, I couldn't not eat a little plate of her fabulous chicken spaghetti.

I mean, that would have just been rude.

Aside from that, we've spent the week eating some really bland meals but it has been an incredible reminder of how much we take for granted - even the food on our table. With over a billion people on this planet earning less than $1 a day, what is it that I need that I don't already have?

I'm pretty sure, not much.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oh, sweet mercy it's finally here.

Summer, we've been waiting for you. It sure took you a long time a'comin'. You hid yourself behind finals and graduation but now, you've made your first appearance in the 'hood and we're sure glad you're here.

Actually, my kids get out a week before the kids in West Dallas so we've got exactly five days before our house is overrun with cuties offering to wash my car in exchange for a popsicle. They love to spray each other with the hose and my car can then stop growing things in the door jams. Sometimes, I give them two popsicles because I'm so nice that way.

Dea, our 'sweet-eldest-almost-foster-except-for-the-fact-that-he-still-has-official-parents child' graduated on Saturday and we've been celebrating all weekend.

He was really excited.

Sebastian was just mad I made him dress up since, "Mrs. Hill, I coulda totally worn my basketball shorts to Dea's graduation. Lots of other kid's did."

Yes, and lots of other girls wore dresses four sizes too small, too, but that don't make it right.

I'm kinda old school that way.

We had a little graduation shindig Sunday night that my friend Jennifer and my in-laws helped put on. You gotta love a kid who, when asked what kind of food he'd like to serve, doesn't hesitate before he yells, "DOMINO'S PIZZA!!"

With the giant cake and Hannah's best ever salad, which I highly recommend, it was a wrap.


His parents made it to graduation which meant a lot to Dea and they were obviously proud of their son. Darius is more cynical when it comes to his parents. When they said they were going to have to bow out for the party in the 11th hour, Darius said, "They pretty much bowed out about fifteen years ago." Our hope is that this young man who has such a bright future ahead of him will lean into the arms of a Father who's love has a height, and depth, and breadth that we cannot measure.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.