Friday, July 31, 2009

It's as if you're trying to tell me something.

Well butter my biscuit, ya'll have some opinions on teenagers - kids in general - doing laundry!

I love it and kudos too all of you and your sagey-wisdomesque thoughts. Your comments were incredibly helpful and affirming. Thank you for sharing.

It makes me want to ask you lots of other questions, like, 'do these jeans make my rear look big?' but I'm kind of afraid of the response I might get.

It looks like Trey and my next event on the calendar will be informing Dea and Darius of their newly acquired duties...which, actually leads me to the second part of the laundry post extravaganza! Yes, that's right, there's more! One of you lucky readers, who left a comment on the last post, will receive, through a totally random drawing - not manipulated at all - the opportunity to tell the boys yourself!!!

WHOOHOO!

And the winner is...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

25 

Timestamp: 2009-07-31 13:09:07 UTC


HANNAH!!! (Crowd goes wild)

And how amazingly convenient that she lives just around the corner!

(You have no idea how long it took me to get that random integer to come up on 25.)

Come on over Hannah, I'll be sitting on the couch, eating popcorn and Milk Duds, watching the weeping and gnashing of teeth when you drop the bomb. It will be like my own private movie theater.

Speaking of movie theater, Graham, my seven year old, and I are in the middle of a debate.

He said that he would like to marry Selena Gomez and that she was not, in fact, a 'HoochieMama'. I don't know who called her that but it certainly wasn't me.

Ok, maybe I did. But, it's only because she's wooing Graham's heart and it's mine. MINE I TELL YOU!

Selena, the gloves are off!

So anyway, Graham just came in and told me I needed to watch a video where Selena is filming backstage at her show. He said it would "prove that she's a nice girl and not a HoochieMama."

"How will it do that, buddy?"

"'Cause she prays and says she wouldn't be anywhere without God."

Dangit.

I guess I'm going to have to now figure out how to ban him from television and basically girls in general. Forever.

And ever.

Ya'll have a great weekend and I'll be back Monday to let you know how Hannah fared with her 'prize'.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Your thoughts, please.

I usually don't discuss things with my blog peeps before discussing them with my family but there's a first time for everything and rebel is my middle name.

Actually, my middle name is my former maiden name which is long, and German, and difficult to pronounce. It also led me to have a very unfortunate nickname in high school but, that's another post for another time.

Perhaps my middle name should have been rabbit trail.

Anyway, here's the deal. As you can probably imagine, we have A LOT of laundry in our house. Emphasis on A LOT which you probably already figured out because of the whole ALL CAPS thing. Anyway, I've found myself spending more and more alone time with my washer and dryer.

I had a feeling our relationship may have crossed over the line when I accidentally opened the lid to the washer during the spin cycle the other day and said, "Oops. Sorry about that." Out loud.

I swear I'm not making that up. I felt like I was interrupting a private moment.

All of this, plus the fact that the two teenage boys living in our house are now driving and holding down jobs, led me to believe it might be time for...wait for it...Dea and Darius to start doing their own laundry. Audible gasp.

Now, I know some of you are smacking your heads in astonishment thinking, "You're still doing their laundry?!? For Pete's sake already!"

But, I really thought, when they moved in, it was an act of service for me to help them in this way. Plus, I was already doing so much, what were a few more things? Well, let me tell you - their few more things make up about half of my laundry. And I'm thinking it's a way they could contribute to the running of the house.

My struggle is, I didn't do my own laundry as a child and neither did Trey. I kind of think it's just part of a momma's job.

On the other hand, a friend told me recently that what you don't learn at home, you pay someone to do later which would explain my need to purchase fried chicken.

Ok. So here's the discussion. Did you do your own laundry as a teenager? Do your teenagers do their laundry now? How's that workin' for ya?

I'd love your thoughts. Especially if you could deliver them without all the berating and comments like, "Aw, c'mon! Grow a pair!"

You rock.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Maybe I should stick to the elliptical.

At the advice of my father-in-law, I have started doing some interval type running thing in the mornings.

I may have modified his plan slightly, you know, so that it fits my fitness level and body-mass-whatever. I run for about a minute and then walk for about twenty-six. Then, just to get my heart rate back up again, I run for another thirty seconds.

With this new training, there's no doubt I'll never be in the Olympic trials. Not even as the water girl.

Anyway, I was on about minute fourteen of the walking part this morning when I rounded the corner onto a very busy street and slammed smack into a swarm of little flying gnat-like bugs. It was still dark so I couldn't see how big the swarm was but all I know is I couldn't get out of it. All my evasive maneuver tactics failed me. I was covered. They were flying in my mouth, my eyes, my hair, all over my body. I began swatting like crazy but could find no escape. I got down really low to the ground, almost on all fours, still swatting but couldn't get out. The swarm went down the entire block.

I was all flailing around at bugs I could feel but couldn't see.

Finally, I just started running, kinda hunched over, still swinging my arms frantically while cars wizzed by.

Some honked.

Thank you, that honk was incredibly helpful.

Then, in the middle of my episode, I thought of something and started laughing which made more bugs fly in my mouth so I was now laughing, swatting, coughing, and running like a total moron.

What made me laugh was the thought that some blogger probably drove right past me and now was speeding to her computer so she could write a stupid post about how, on her way to work this morning, she saw a sad crackhead in West Dallas hallucinating and swinging her arms wildly in the air at total nothingness.

She may have even ended it with an appropriate verse from Scripture.

Oh, Irony, you continue to be such a faithful friend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I apologize for the rambling.

Our weekend was spent with lots of friends and it's one of my favorite ways to get through the drudgery of a summer weekend.

Oh, who am I kidding, there's no drudgery - it's summer. And the weekend. It really doesn't get better than that. Unless, of course, you add friends or family or both.

Friday night we celebrated our friend's graduation from the Rise School of Dallas. He's five and will be moving into kindergarten in the fall at his little neighborhood school. It would all be very boring and ordinary except there's pretty much nothing ordinary about this child. When he was nine months old, it was discovered that he had a stroke in utero and after multiple seizures and countless trips to Children's Hospital, surgeons finally decided the very best course of action was to disconnect the left hemisphere of his brain from the right. It was no small miracle to see this little buddy dancing on stage at his graduation, smiling, waving, and telling everyone his name, his age, and where he'll be heading in the fall. Pure awesomeness and we were privileged to share it with him.

We swam with friends on Saturday who have moved to Dallas in the last year and are living in a high-rise until they find a house. My boys asked that we cease and desist from calling them Tee and Graham and instead refer to them as Zach and Cody. All they were missing was Mosbey and his sarcasm. I did my best to make up for his absence and think I did a pretty good job. We had to scoot out early because I was in charge of making dessert for supper club Saturday night and I, 1. hadn't decided what to make, and 2. hadn't been to the store. Shocking, I know.

My friend suggested picking up a dessert at Paradise Bakery and I quickly realized that I may not be a planner, but I have pride issues about my desserts. Homemade, baby - that's how I roll.

Thankfully, I found a blog writer who feels exactly the way I do. Her name is Sugar Mama and with a name like that, she's gotta be good. I wish my parents had named me Sugar Mama. Instead, they named me Hood Mama which involves much less homemade baking and a little more Hot Cheetos. Oh, I digress.

Sugar Mama's Best Ever Strawberry Shortcake is indeed that. Although I may exaggerate, she, my friends, doesn't. It was divine.

We wrapped up the weekend fishing in Canton. Tee actually was trying to shoot the fish with his b.b. gun, Graham develped a fine skill of creating 'nests' in the fishing line which I subsequently had to untangle, and the girls collected clams.

Trey had insisted on driving his car because he says mine, "smells kinda bad", so it was to his chagrin and my delight when the girls insisted on bringing all their clam finds home in a plastic cup.

This morning, I had the sad duty of telling the girls the clams that were still alive would not, in fact, make enough pearls for a tiara since clams do not make pearls, oysters do.

Sadie cried. "Well then, can we just keep them as pets?"

'Cause that's EXACTLY what we need.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday night recap.

So last night, Mercy Street Fellowship met for our weekly dinner and worship. In an effort to safeguard my mother in law's blood pressure, I had a plan, shopped, and began cooking all before 7:00 a.m.

Ok, feeling the need to clarify. Began baking cookies at 6:30 a.m. because I wanted to eat cookie dough with my morning coffee. If you can't be totally transparent with strangers who read your blog, who can you be honest with?

Really.

With the help of Monkey, Dea and Darius' friend and unofficial brother in law - he is the brother to D & D's older brother's baby-momma, (sometimes, I need to draw it on paper. It helps.) - we whipped up some yummy bbq stuffed baked potatoes with all the fixins, garlic bread, and salad. Monkey had gotten into a little trouble with Johnny Law for skippin' school and needed some community service hours. I needed the help so it was a win-win. His grades may reflect more of a win-lose but that's not the topic at hand.

During the cooking process, I once again thought how handy a double oven would be. We cooked 70 potatoes all at once. My friend, Carey, told me it made her claustrophobic just looking at it. Thankfully, I don't think potatoes have those kinds of issues.

Speaking of issues, and since I pretty much always have one to share, I struggled with one at church last night.

We have a group of regular attenders but always have kids who come in late and want to eat. The deal is, we're happy to feed you all you want but if you eat, we'd love for you to stay for the worship. The obvious reason is that, if kids can come, eat, and leave, we'd have 250 or more every Wednesday night and my oven might go on strike.

Inevitably, each week we have kids come and eat, look you in the eye saying they'll stay for worship, and then either be very disruptive during the preaching, or simply walk out the door after dinner. Last night was no exception and this HoodMama got a little feisty. There was one 8 year old little boy who was leaving and, in the process, was pretty disrespectful to me. In addition, he was pulling a whole group of boys with him creating chaos in the middle of worship.

I was frustrated and maybe a little less than gracious.

Thankfully, Garrett, one of the Mercy Street staff, came out to help. It was amazing to watch. With so much grace, love, and clear instruction, he talked to this little stinker about respect, Christ, and the love of His people. He corrected the child's behavior without shaming him and eventually wooed him back. Before I knew it, the child's hand was in mine walking down to the children's program - genuinely happy to stay. Garrett - clearly the professional.

I read this from a friend and pastor, Patrick Lafferty, this morning -

The quality of our love reveals where we place our trust. If we find ourselves withholding love, it may reveal arrogance or indifference in us. But it might otherwise reveal fear—fear of what we might lose (or what we might be left with) if we relinquish something of value to us.

A real stillness before God will lead to freedom to love extravagantly. Abundant care becomes not only possible but preferable because you no longer fear losing what cannot be taken from you. The Christ who bestowed all that we would gain all is meant to persuade you of the fact that He is our true refuge. Persuaded of that in the stillness of prayer, praise will flow, and often through relinquishment for love’s sake.

Who are you afraid to love right now? Nothing the Lord has given you in Christ—forgiveness, favor, renewal, eternity—can ever be siphoned from you. How might the truth of His being our strength in those ways free you to love?


What describes my heart so often is the part about withholding love because of indifference or arrogance. I'm certainly praying for the ability to love extravagantly because it is how I have been loved.

On the lighter note, while all this was going on outside, our friend, Tracy was teaching the kids about creation. After her lesson, we walked out to look at the Mercy Street garden to see first-hand how creative the Lord was - even in His variety of tomatoes.

I picked some mint and asked a child to smell it and tell me what it he thought it was.

"Weed? It smells like weed."

Weed? Hmmm. Close. Really close. Try again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A few questions about livin' in the hood.

So I received an email yesterday from a sweet woman who reads this blog. She had some questions about our family, our ministry, and how the two work together. Especially in light of the fact that the Lord has called us to an area of Dallas where they won't deliver pizza and the police stop you when your walking your dog in the morning and ask, credulously, if you live in the neighborhood.

"No. I live in Highland Park, I just come walk over here in the mornings because of all the pretty."

Ok, I don't say that to the fine men in blue. I think it, but I don't say it.

I get emails like this fairly often. Trey made the comment the other day that it's because, when you read this blog, and if you take out the humor, it does seem a little crazy.

I didn't know he actually read this blog. Now that I know, I will imbed coded messages to him.

For example. Hey Trey, the garbage disposal is broken.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.

The questions my blog friend had were in an effort to reconcile the ministry they have in their own hometown with the not so subtle opposition of their family, and sometimes their own hearts.

With her permission, I'm sharing some of what she wrote and some rambling answers. The reason why I'm doing this is because I believe we are all called to live radically for the gospel. Not that everyone will be called to live in the inner-city or take in homeless teenage boys but there is no doubt that an honest look at the Word of God shows us life after life poured out for the glory of the King, and, perhaps, by sharing with one another, we can encourage each other along the way.

Here we go.

You see, against all odds of being able to buy a house, God pretty much placed a home within our reach and directed our steps to a great big old house in the hood. We love our neighborhood and our neighbors. We have been there for four years and we still have family that will not come over and visit. They say I am doing damage to our daughter, yet, I know that I am supposed to be in this neighborhood. Are you ever concerned about this for your family?

First of all, people definitely were opposed to our move. Over the years, that has changed. There's a comfort with the familiar and the more people come, share in what we're doing, and see that flac jackets aren't always required, the more at home they feel.

Absolutely I think about the safety of my kids in this neighborhood. Kids here are given a great deal of freedom but not a whole lot of opportunities to channel their energy in positive ways. The end result is that there's lots of loitering, hanging out, and ultimately getting in trouble. That's part of our efforts at Mercy Street. But still, because of what they hear in the neighborhood, we've had conversations about sex, homosexuality, murder, rape, and abuse far earlier than I would have ever hoped. It's hard but we use each conversation as an opportunity to talk about the sin of man and the love and restorative power of Christ. It's given them compassion and the need to walk in faith they may not have known living insulated from the harsh realities of the world. Does that mean we seek it out, let kids say what they want in our home, take a stance of resignation? Absolutely not. But, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we see sin as sin, and our call is to help usher in the Kingdom of God as far as the curse is found - starting in our own home.

This past weekend I invited some neighborhood kids over to make cookies. Do things like this really make any kind of difference?

We have kids in all the time. It's safe to say we have two extra kids for dinner every night in addition to our own six. We believe the image of a family sitting down together to dinner, talking, laughing, helping the little ones with drinks and cutting their food, is one that has a huge impact. Our grocery bill is bigger because of it but it's another way we can share with our children how the Lord provides in the big and the small. Sometimes, our portions will be smaller and Trey will make a peanut butter sandwich after dinner. But it's worth sharing our table with a kid who hasn't sat down with his family, his dad, in a long, long time.

Trey was playing Wii with a bunch of kids including our own one day when one of the older boys said, "You know, Mr. Trey, this is how it's supposed to be. A dad playing, just hangin' out with his kids. This is right."

We had to do a pocket check when they were leaving because my daughter's bowl of loose change in her room somehow found its way into all of their pockets! How do I go about gently instructing them that there's no stealing?

Oh, the stealing. Be it snacks, money, iPods, or baseball cards, we've had it all. First off, no child is unsupervised in our home until we know them well. Tee, our 10 year old is kind of like having the police in the house which can come in handy and be a detriment all at the same time.

Someone told me once that the kids in the hood steal because, when they see you have so much, they think you won't miss it or can simply go get another one. The fact that Mr. Hill works really hard to earn the money to buy the things we have are dots many of the kids have not been taught to connect. Just because they're invited in, doesn't mean there aren't boundaries. We try to put stuff away to avoid temptations, kids may not come in our bedroom, and may not take food without asking. Then, they get one snack each. Exceptions are for sure made and that comes from knowing about their home lives, what's going on in their families and how are they being provided for. The one snack rule is a guideline but it's our goal that a kid never leaves our house hungry. Even if it means making an entire loaf of grilled cheese sandwiches.

We almost always catch the kids stealing before they've gotten out the door. It's an opportunity for reconciliation, consequences, and forgiveness but makes my kids mad as hatters - especially when it's their stuff. They're learning that sometimes, kids, friends steal from them so guarding their hearts against cynicism is another lesson we're learning.

I appreciated my new friend's honest questions and hope these answers were somewhat helpful. I read this quote by Francis Chan today and loved it. I hope, by reading this blog, you may be encouraged to step outside of your comfort zone, even today, and see what joys God may set before you.

"What will people say about your life in heaven? Will people speak of God's work and glory through you? And even more important, how will you answer the King when He says, "What did you do with what I gave you?" Daniel Webster once said, "The greatest thought that has ever entered my mind is that one day I will have to stand before a holy God and give an account of my life." He was right."
- Francis Chan, Crazy Love, p.174

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just call me Queen of the Segue.

When we picked Graham up from Pine Cove, he wasn't in the car for five minutes before he said, in very confessionary (not a word) fashion,

"Mom, I have to tell you something. Dramatic pause. When I was at camp, I did something real bad for my body. Real bad."

"Buddy, what'd ya do?"

"I haven't been to the bathroom since you dropped me off. "

"Graham, you mean last Sunday?

"Yep."

"You haven't gone number two (cause we like to use the medical terminology in our home as often as possible) in a week?"

"Yep."

This post will now become an open letter to the McDonald's on I-80 in Terrell.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I'm sorry that we stopped at your establishment for lunch on the way home from camp with a child who had not gone number two in a week. It was reckless on our part but the $1 McDouble was more temptation than we could handle. Let's look on the bright side - he felt as comfortable at McDonald's as he does at home. Perhaps you could work that into your next ad campaign. No thanks necessary, let's just call it even.

Sincerely,
HoodMama

The reason I'm telling you this story (thank your lucky stars, there is one) is because after a week of being gone, Julius, the runaway snake has been found. What I'm hoping is that Julius had the same aversion to using the bathroom in unfamiliar terratory as my son. I just don't want to imagine the alternative.

Wednesday night, Dea came running up the stairs yelling, "MaMelissa! MaMelissa! Julius is in our room! He's in our room!"

Clearly, Julius has a sense of humor because saying Dea and Darius aren't snake fans is a gross understatement.

Tee was beside himself with excitement and clearly having not learned his lesson, wanted to carry him around in his pocket.

"Isn't that how he got lost last time?"

"Yeah, but I'll really be careful this time, Mom."

Um. Ok. No.

He's now safe and sound, back in his aquarium, with a tummy full of a previously frozen baby mouse.

And all is right with the world.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Saving the day.

I can't thank you all enough for your ideas yesterday! They were so incredibly helpful and I can't wait to try out your recipes.

Ultimately, what I need to remember is that my mother-in-law reads my blog and somehow, the fact that I didn't know what I would be serving a group of 50 in a few short hours is enough to send her into full disaster prevention mode. And she's good, real good.

She could totally have been a Navy SEAL if Demi Moore hadn't ruined it for all the women. It's true, Bryan, stop shaking your head. She has mad skills.

By noon, I knew what I would serve but hadn't begun preparing anything. It might lead you to believe that my gifts lie in the formulation of the "plan", not so much in the execution. I like to call myself a visionary. It has a nice ring.

Further proof of this might be the fact that while I was leisurely lunching with an old friend, not having even gone to the grocery store yet, Candy was calling me on my cell phone repeatedly while pushing a cart through Sam's Club throwing in whatever she thought might feed a group of ravenous Jesus freaks. She obviously didn't know my "plan".

I, unfortunately, could not hear my phone because Chick-Fil-A does not have a quiet zone and the sound of my children contemplating the free ice cream vs. toy conundrum is enough to drown out a sonic boom.

This is where I admit to the public that, if my mother-in-law has a panic attack one day in the middle of Sam's Club, I may be responsible.

Anyway, when she finally got in touch with me at, um, say 2:45ish, she had taken the reins and bought enough Sloppy Joe fixin's to feed an army.

I promise I had a "plan". I did. Really.

It would have failed miserably.

We ended up with way more people at church last night than I expected and ten pounds of Sloppy Joe's barely covered it. My "plan" would not have covered 1/2 of the people for dinner. I may be a visionary, but that doesn't mean I'm a good one. Instead, we had yummy sandwiches, chips, watermelon, cake and ice cream and lots and lots of happy, and full worshipers.

And maybe one mother-in-law who has now developed a nervous tick.

Again, I got to see how the Lord always provides exactly what we need, often in spite of my efforts. Thankfully, his plan is not our "plan", and His ways are not our ways.

Thanks again for your suggestions!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On church. And food.

We haven't talked lately about the new church start-up over at Mercy Street.

I remembered this about 5:45 this morning when I woke up in a cold sweat.

Ok, I'm gonna keep it totally real for you...I wasn't panicked that I hadn't talked with you about it, I was panicked because it's my night to cook and I have absolutely no idea what to serve. No. Idea. At. All.

We have had a pretty consistent group of people coming since we began meeting several months ago. Several families from the community come with grandmothers and children in tow. We eat, fellowship, pray, sing, and hear the Word preached by the most handsome preacher I've ever seen.

Sometimes, I have to just close my eyes so I'm not distracted by the preacher's beautifulness. Thankfully, in church, it just makes me look like I'm really pious and deep in thought-contemplating the gravity of what he's saying. Or I'm asleep. Shoot. I didn't think about that one. Now people probably think I've been sleeping through all of Trey's sermons. Great.

As is consistent with the community, we have very few men coming on Wednesday nights. It's something we're praying fervently about and hopeful the Lord will draw them near. The couple of dads that are regular attenders have more impact on their kids and the other kids around them than they can imagine.

Several friends and their friends and community groups have helped provide the meals which has been a huge burden lifted. We've had fabulous dinners and I've been threatened within an inch of my life on several occasions to not show my face again without recipes.

Recipes.

Which brings us back to the issue at hand; I'm bringing dinner tonight and have no idea what I'm serving. Last time it was my turn to cook, we ordered pizza so I've kept expectations low. Real low. If anyone, that would be you, has any suggestions for me - say recipes for about 50 that don't involve a slow-cooker, smoker, or 48 hours of marinating in the refigerator 'cause time is kinda of the essence, I would sure appreciate it.

Like right now.

Go.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vindication.

I have, over the years, said some very nice things about my brother, Bryan.

My latest mention of him was on his 40th birthday.

Remember? I said nice things. NICE THINGS.

I also suggested that the reason I was bug-eyed in this picture was because maybe he had whispered something dastardly into my ear giving me a scare.

You, along with my grandmother, yes, I'm talking to you grandma, poo-pooed the idea.

"Not our precious Bryan." "But he's so wonderful, and brave, and protective, blah, blah, blah."

Really?

When he read my blog about the snake being lost in my house, he sent me this.


video

I'm just going to sit back now, and bask in the glory of being right about him and his stinky big brother antics.

And worry just a little that, even from the other side of the world, he's found a way to torture me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

More on the snake.

After finding out that we had a snake loose in the house, many of you had various suggestions for me. Most of them involved moving, selling the house and moving, relocating, or moving as soon as possible.

So, what you're saying is, having a snake loose in the house is not a good thing?

I couldn't agree more. It's also made me think about the ramifications of actually having to put the house on the market and sell it.

We have a few drawbacks, let me just name a few.

1. The economy no es bueno. Houses are being foreclosed upon at an alarming rate. The bank officers have pitched a tent and have Pizza Hut delivered every other night. Oh, who am I kidding, Pizza Hut won't deliver in my neighborhood. When I call and give them my address, they say, "Are you in the neighborhood on the other side of I-30?"

"Yes. It's like 1/2 a mile from you. "

"Oh, um, yeah, we can't come over to that neighborhood because, you know, we're afraid we might die. Try Dominoes. They're crazy at Dominoes."

2. Like a water leak, termites, and black mold, I'm pretty sure I'd be obligated to put, "Snake loose in the house." on the disclosure statement. From the sounds of ya'll, and the look on Dea's face when we told him Julius was on the lamb, it would be a deal-killer for about 95% of our potential buyers.


3. After five years of scrub, I finally have some decent landscape growing and I'm not really willing to walk away because of a foot-long corn snake.

Also, I may or may not owe my marriage to a snake.

When Trey was in college, he, too, had a pet snake. It is just one more of the reasons I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have dated in college but, that's not important right now.

His snake had disappeared and been missing for about three weeks. He was sure Caleb, the apparently very biblical snake, was dead. Then one night, as he was taking some hussy (I actually think she was like Miss Texas or something like that. Whatever.) out on a date, he opened his car door for her and there, curled up on the passenger seat was Caleb, healthy and good as ever.

Trey was so excited he kind of ignored the now screaming and hysterical girl to embrace his long lost pet. She refused to go out with him again, leaving him single, which resulted in his move to Dallas where we met, got married, and lived almost happily ever after.

See, lemonade from lemons, people. Lemonade from lemons.

Now, this doesn't mean I'm not tearing the house apart looking for the thing. Someone suggested I put out something for bait, you know, to attract Julius.

Hmmm. What do I have that is horrible, causes angst, and can be incredibly painful?

How 'bout this? Their names are eerily close.


I think it will totally work.

Ya'll have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Reunited.

One of my favorite things is the very first hug you get from your kids after a week at camp. If I were Julie Andrews, I would put it into a song.

But I'm not so...yeah.

My friend, Lauren, thankfully snapped these as we were greeting our kids on Saturday at Pine Cove.




She didn't get one of Tee because, even though he will still, at 10, run up, hug me and kiss me on the lips, he's fast as lightning and darted back to relish the last moments of fun with his new friends.

Reuniting is so sweet.

Do you think it will be as sweet when we reunite with Julius, who escaped from his cage this morning?

Julius, you remember, is Tee's pet.

Snake.


Shiver.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ordinary.

So I'm sitting here thinking; what in the world I'm supposed to write about following a post that included the former President of the United States and poison ivy.

Great 4th of July deals at Target?

The various projects we completed this weekend using only duct tape?

It all seems a wee bit mundane and ordinary.

Or totally lame, either one.

Walking Scout early this morning - tripping (ok, seriously, that's an exaggeration. I'm actually VERY graceful.) over the broken beer bottles, fast food wrappers, and two crack addicts - I was reminded, once again, that there is way more mundane, or chaotically ordinary in my life - in most of our lives - than there is over-the-top exciting.

The kids are home from camp and my house is once again a mess. The laundry has already piled up and the fingerprints that had been cleaned from every window are back. How they do it, I don't know. To be sure, it's a skill.

But, this is how it's supposed to be. The longer I'm a mom, and a wife, and a seriously underpaid source of unsolicited opinions, I realize the way the Lord has constructed my life is exactly the way it's intended to be.

I was never supposed to live in the beautiful part of town, with perfectly manicured lawns, and pretty homes, famous Dallasites, and cars without 24" rims.

This crazy crew of children we have were no accidents. Each was intended to be born inconceivably close to his or her siblings so that people would question, often out loud, my understanding of how babies are actually made.

Dea and Darius have been moving in the direction of living under our roof for years, we just didn't see them coming. If I had, I might have used some evasive maneuver tactics I learned from watching season after season of 24.

The Lord's plans are to transform us into the image of His son and he uses whatever means necessary to do so. I've found that although His means are often messy, and unglamorous, and without hoopla or Secret Service, they are both effective and divine.

May we all delight in the ordinary of our lives today as we rest in the assurance that not even a breath or a heartbeat is given without the intentional, loving, forethought of the Lord of the universe.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mr. President in the hood.

There are mornings it's totally necessary to have your full cute on by 9:00 a.m. This morning was one of them. Let me start by saying, as gravity continues to take hold, 9:00 a.m. is extremely early to pull it all together. I mean, there's a reason bridal photographs are taken after noon. Puffy eyes people, puffy eyes.

By 8:30, we were seeing things like this up at Mercy Street.

Lovely gentlemen with wires in their ears checking the place inside and out, top to bottom and saying things like, "We're fifteen minutes out...Ten minutes...Five minutes...Ok, let's get ready, we're one minute out."

And then we saw this.

Now, da mug be clean, but not exactly what we were expecting.

And with the "One minute out." we saw this. The Schwepps truck. Not quite.

Now that's what I'm talking about.

That would be the Presidential motorcade carrying President Bush and all his coolness just comin' down to chill in the hood with his Mercy Street peeps.

Truthfully, his old friends, Bill and Candy, a.k.a. Nanny and Bunty, have been talking his ear off about Mercy Street for years and since being back in Dallas, he's continued to hear more about what we're doing down here in West Dallas from community leaders and businessmen. He wanted to come check it out for himself and we were thrilled to have him.

Here the President is getting the tour flanked by his Secret Service and Bill, whom he calls Red.

How do I get a nickname like that?

Oh, seriously, I was just happy to get a picture. And people, let me tell you, once the cameras were allowed to come out, there was no stopping me.

Dea.

Sadie, being her ever shy self.

Trey showing the President the land around the facility and explaining all the plans we believe the Lord has in store.

Sadie then joined the group and may or may not have stuck her hand through the fence and contracted Poison Ivy. But we're not talking about that right now.

The President really enjoyed talking to the guys in the bike shop. It's part of the Summer Work Crew program where kids are learning to repair and restore donated bikes for the neighborhood kids.

Johnny and the President could have talked all day about local bike trails.

Here's the whole Bike Shop Crew.

He was so great and personally spoke with each child asking them individual questions, encouraging them all.

Darius.

The President lovin' on Hattiebelle, Mercy Street's newest addition.

More work crew kids.

It was truly a blessed morning. The President told several stories, one of which was about speaking to a group of about 50 in Rwanda. He looked out at the group of people and said, a little under his breath, "God is good."

The immediate response he received by the crowd was, "All the time." Wanting to be sure he heard correctly, he said it louder.

"God is good."

And again, even louder, the response, "All the time."

He said, be it Rwanda, Highland Park, or West Dallas, the truth remains. "God is good. All the time."

Yes, He is.


Thank you, Mr. President, for blessing us all with a fantastic morning in the hood. Please come back anytime.



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Who turned down the volume?

Sunday afternoon, after a night filled with incessant questioning, "Is it time to go yet? Is it morning, yet? Is that the sun? I think that's the sun. Mom! The sun's up!", we packed three anxious, if not well-rested Hill children into the back of our decorated car and shipped them off to camp. Then, we sent Sadie to Camp Nanny and Bunty, a.k.a. House of Spoiling, for a couple of days.



And good riddance. Whew.

Except, my babies are not here. They're, sniff, at camp. For a whole week.

My house is quiet

And clean.

Laundry is done, folded, put away.

There is a completed puzzle that is still intact and none of the pieces have been placed in the DVD player to see if a movie plays.

The flowers are watered.

Errands are done.

I knew what we were having for dinner tonight before we even had breakfast.

It's creepy.

Trey and I did get a couple of days to ourselves fishing and eating steaks in the smallest town in Texas. Pure awesomeness. Except for the remnants of my poison ivy which you can still see on my arm in this picture.

See, right there.


It does distract from the fact that I forgot to put mascara on, though, which is a bonus.

Anyway, it's quiet. A little too quiet. Sadie, Dea, Darius, Trey and I are doing the best we can to get through the week. We're sleeping in late, doing puzzles, and chilaxin at Sonic Happy Hour.

And we're hoping Monkey getting the staples out of his shoulder where a girl stabbed him with a piece of glass because he told one too many "Yo momma." jokes won't be the most exciting thing that happens all week.


Word.