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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baking for my Boy

December 18, 2011
I DON”T bake… I hate to bake.  I am not good at baking… I am an awesome cook. You can ask anyone who knows me- and I know this is going to sound a bit self inflated- I rarely ever have a miss on an actual meal…but give me a recipe for cakes, cookies, pies…etc…I rarely have a success.
Today is my son’s 19th birthday…while at the grocery store…I decided that I would bake David a pumpkin pie…He loves pumpkin pies… Then my ADD/Mudgie Syndrome (I know most of you don’t know what the Mudgie syndrome is…it is an explanation for another day…) and I remembered when he was two and his grandma and I were eating cheesecake at a “girlie” restaurant, and we decided to share with him…he LOVED it! He actually would take his fork and use it to push our forks out of the way when we were going for a bite.  It was so funny!  I am sure that my mother-in-law would agree with me that it was a priceless memory…
So, as I decided that I could make the boy pumkin’ pie (mostly stuff from a can, and frozen crust… surely I could do that…) I started remembering the 2 year old boy stabbing and poking and pushing his way for every bite of cheesecake… thinking of his happy face filled me with “Super Mom Mentality”- a lethal hormone issue (if you have never experienced it, beware- it actually makes you think you can do anything for your child- FALSE)
At Thanksgiving, Katie Schindler, my “niece”, (who is one of the best bakers I know) made a Pumpkin Cheesecake…It was literally a work of art…and the taste??? Slap yourself silly SUPER DELICIOUS! So… me, in the grocery store with no actual plan in hand and my ADD/Mudgie Syndrome kicking in, I had no defense against the “Super Mom Mentality”. I began making irrational choices and decisions… I would make both!! PUMPKIN PIE and PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE!! Now is probably a good time to tell you that I did not have the recipe to the Pumpkin Cheesecake, so I was winging it on the ingredients. (Cody did have to make a trip to the Dollar General afterwards)

Now, I am sure that you are all thinking the end result was disaster… but it was not a complete failure.  I found the recipe for the awesome cake Katie made on Thanksgiving, but it called for 4 packages of cream cheese, I had 3 packages; so I looked at one from Paula Deen that called for 3 packages of cream cheese. But then upon further investigation, the one from Paula called for a 15 oz. can of pureed pumpkin; I only had 29 oz. cans. But the one Katie used called for 1 ½ cups. As I did the math, I knew that 1 ½ cups was not exactly 15 ozs. (I hope I am right on this one???) so I simply “eyeballed” a little more than half of the can of pumpkin. I did not have enough time for my cream cheese to actually get to room temp, so I just worked with it.  I did not have dark Karo for the “Pecan Pie Glazed Pecans” that went on top, so I just used brown sugar and light Karo… by the time I got to the point of putting the Praline Sauce and the glazed pecans on my cheesecake, I had pretty much lost interest in the whole project…Who knew it would take 5 hours to bake the freaking thing, and most of that time was spent waiting for the next step!!! So…while my cake was tasty (ish).  It was not a work of art, it was not even “cute”.

I felt like my Pecan Pies were a hit- even though I still have one whole pie left…hmmm… maybe they weren’t that great either. 
But armed with “Super Mom Syndrome”, I worked hard to make my 19 year old baby boy, David’s, birthday special, because he is so special to me!! He makes me laugh, think, and want to be a better person.  I am proud of you Dave Man!!! Happy Birthday! I love you!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Preparing for December 18

December 16, 2011
In two days we will be celebrating our son’s 19th birthday. We will have a big family dinner, and invite all of his friends over. I am sure they will be rowdy and play games of some sort and leave my house and possibly my yard in a mess.
I am looking forward to his special day. But today I am thinking of what happened 20 years ago, on December 16, 1991. I went to bed on December 15, after kissing my babies, Jacob and Lynnsay, goodnight. I prayed for those two babies and for the one I was carrying…I felt fine, I slept well…I woke up to a completely different world… I was about 8 weeks along, and my baby died. As was the case with ALL of my children, this pregnancy was not planned.  But we were excited.  Jacob was 4 and Lynnsay was nearly 3. We had always wanted three children, so this would be my last pregnancy, and our last baby. That was our plan.
But on December 16 my baby had no heart beat.  It was at that very moment that I realized how little control I had over these little lives that God had blessed Cody and I with.  That night, after I knew the pregnancy was over,  as I tucked Jacob and Lynnsay into bed, I looked at them with renewed amazement. Those two precious babies were mine and Cody’s, however, it was God who gave them life. It was God who had allowed them to be born safe and healthy…it was God who had allowed us to be their parents.
It is hard to understand missing a child that you never really had.  We did not know if it was a boy or a girl.  I had never felt it move.  I had actually only known of the little one’s existence for a mere 3 weeks. But I missed that baby, and my heart longed for that little life. I had precious friends call me with words of wisdom, compassion and prayers. My God cradled me and brought healing to my hurting heart.
To this day, when I hear of a family losing a child, my heart aches over their loss. Those people are always in my hearts and in my prayers.
In the spring of 1992, we had another surprise! We found out that I was pregnant! When I went to the doctor and he told me what the due date was, I knew God was still making His presence known in my life. My fourth baby was due on December 16, 1992.
And now, we have David, who showed up two days late!
As my children have grown into adults, I still find myself thinking I have some control over them.  But I really don’t. Cody and I have raised them, given them love and acceptance and all the guidance we could offer.  But I realize that God is still the one giving them life.  He is still in control…He is the Holy One that fills my gaps, and the Savior who loves them more than I do, or their dad does, or their grandparents do…or their spouses do…

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snuggle Time

December 13, 2011
Snuggle Time…
Did you know that there is a show on TV called “Noodle and Doodle”? I did not until this morning.  “Noodle and Doodle” comes on PBS KIDS Sprout. I also did not know there was a channel called PBS KIDS Sprout. Until this morning.
My own Noodle, Aubrey Blayce Crittenden, has a cold.  Her mom has dropped her off at my house and into my care for the last couple of mornings. She arrives around 6 a.m. (which I personally think is an ungodly hour for adults to be up and out of the house, but a baby? I am not sure it should be legal!!!) Yesterday, she came gladly into my arms and immediately began to point at all of the Christmas lights and talk to me (I leave them on 24-7, something my son-in-law would hate) Still, in spite of our animated conversation regarding all of the Christmas decorations, I was certain that I could get her to snuggle down in bed with me and Pops and go back to sleep for a little while… I totally underestimated her ability to fight off sleep.  The fight included trying to walk on our bed; drinking half of her bottle and as she began to lose the fight to keep her eyes open, flinging it off the bed (she may have a future in baseball); playing with my hair and then yanking out handfuls of it as she began to drift off causing me to scream out in pain and wake her up; chasing the dogs and trying to pull their hair as well as yell at the back of Pops’ head who remained so still I was not sure he was breathing…I finally gave up the ghost, got up and brought her into the living room.  We snuggled on the couch and had some great bonding time before she finally fell asleep sitting up in my arms.
This morning, I was armed!  I had turned off all of the Christmas lights, made the bottle, and had a little “nest” made on the couch. She cried for her mommy this morning, but immediately snuggled down with me.  We lay down on the couch.  Poor baby girl- she could not breathe and suck on her passy at the same time; she has fluids running out of her mouth, her nose and her eyes. I “hiked” her up with pillows and sang her songs (she still likes my singing voice, and No Melissa, I did not sing “Super Freak”) As she drifted off to sleep, I was allowed to spend the first precious moments of our day admiring how perfect she is; how incredibly amazing her eyelashes are; how perfect her nose is and her sweet mouth.  I took in her smell which included sweat and snot and wondered why that smell cannot be bottled up and sold to mommies and grandmother’s- it is the smell of happy thoughts. She was running a fever, and as I did with her daddy so many years ago, and later with her Aunt Loopy (Lynnsay) and Uncle Dave, I prayed for her fever to break. I rubbed her head, scratched her arms and rubbed her legs.  I prayed for her daddy, and her mommy.  I prayed for her unborn cousin, Pistol.  I prayed for Aunt Loopy, Uncle B and Uncle Dave. I prayed for Pops and for Preslee, who just had her tonsils out… I prayed for all of our brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and as her fever broke and she calmed to a deep sleep, I began to drift off myself and I thanked God for this moment- it was at that exact time that I remembered thanking God for the same “snuggle opts” with my own children. I hated when they were sick; but I loved to opportunity to lie with them close to me.
After her morning “nap”, Aubrey woke up ready to run around and control the house for a bit.  As I was making breakfast, I thought that maybe I could find Sesame Street on TV. Instead, I found PBS KIDS Sprouts- and the show that was on? “Noodle and Doodle”!!! On this particular episode they were making an anniversary cake for grandparents…cute show. Bad cake.  I told Aubrey that maybe we could watch the show for the songs (she seemed interested in them) but we were going to stick to the Cooking Channel for any baking ideas!
Thank you Lord for “Noodle and Marz” days.  We did not make a cake- but we did snuggle, clean the bathroom, do laundry, snuggle, unpack boxes, make lunch, read books, snuggle, and play on the floor… and our favorite, re-organize the Tupperware!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What I love about moving

December 11, 2011
What I like about moving.Nothing.
What I hate about moving.Everything
What I love about moving….
For what seems like six months (actually 3 weeks) we have been in the process of moving… We have lived in our home for 11 years and 5 months.  That house is almost 4,000 square feet.  It is two story. Has a pool. Huge front yard. Lots of “landscape” stuff in the back yard. It is 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 2 living areas, huge utility room and all of these little extra “spaces and features.” I actually put bunk beds up in one area and called it “The Kids’ Corner.” I remember when we moved into it, I could not imagine ever having enough stuff to fill up all of the storage that house provided. Seriously, who needs to store so much stuff (I am now calling it sh_t) that you would actually fill up that house? Apparently, we did.
All three of our kids grew up in that house. Their friends were always welcome at our house.  I have loved that house from the moment I saw it.  We have shared that house with our family and friends. At one point my sister and her three girls “lived” with us for 2 months!  That house if full of memories, love, and laughter.
It is also possibly full of tears, stress, anxiety, mold, dirt, trash and stuff we absolutely do not need.
We have downsized. A LOT. Our new home is about 1,800 square feet. As soon as I knew we were going to be moving, I began cleaning out. I have thrown stuff away, and wondered why I kept it… I have kept stuff for storage that I have wondered what in the world I would ever need with it… and I have scaled down to those items that are truly the most important to me.
The light fixture from my dining room. (it is actually dis-assembled and in my closet) It is an antique fixture that was in my parents’ house when I was growing up.  My parents gave it to us when we moved to our house on KToN.   Photographs and memorabilia (also scaled down some…) The quilt that Cody’s grandmother made him and that Cody’s mom repaired last year. (I am using it as a bedspread, and I have to add that every “square” is made of 1960’s polyester!) My brand new dishwasher which was a gift.  The oak table with the incredibly uncomfortable chairs. (It is the table I grew up with.)  An antique desk and trunk which were the first purchases I made at garage sales when Cody and I moved to Moody, TX after 6 weeks of marriage. Lynnsay’s wedding dress. My grandbabies’ baby bed. My favorite books.  The shutters that were in my Mudgie and BigDaddy’s house, and a chair that was in their bedroom as long as I can remember.  My antique Coca-Cola sign.  The Texas stars and Texas print I bought for Cody’s 40th birthday (he turned 50 the Sunday after we moved in our new house)…wooden crates, antique suitcases, the “Please Don’t Smoke So I Won’t Croak” sign… all of my roosters…baskets, special wine bottles….pictures my dad painted, pictures my Aunt Debbie painted…
The list goes on and on.  It is amazing how many memories you can put into an 1,800 square foot house…
Our new house is one story.  It has 3 bedrooms and two baths, one living and dining area and an incredible kitchen that is open and a part of the rest of the house. I can clean it in an hour. I have everything I need at my finger-tips.  My kids and all of their friends still hang out here. The yard is small and manageable.  Our house is beautiful!
Yesterday and today we worked hard at getting 11 years of “stuff we don’t need” out of our old house and into storage, or into the “trash” pile.  Our old house is cold, it is a mess, it makes us all sneeze and cough. It no longer holds all of my most treasured “things” and does not look like the place where all of my “memories” are…in fact, as I sat in it, I tried to imagine what it looked and felt like four short weeks ago…it was a hard memory to call up, unless I closed my eyes. 
What do I love the most about moving? Getting homesick at our old house for our new house; walking into our new house today and giving thanks to God that we were home!  Watching my granddaughter play in the Tupperware cabinet and run around the house like it is the only one she has ever known; having my kids, their friends, our family and friends all here at the same time…enjoying “down time” with my husband; having my daughter curl up on the chair and watch t.v. while she is visiting… What I love the absolute most about moving is realizing that what makes us special is our family and our love for each other and everyone else…
God is good…

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Before and After

My son, David was robbed at gun point in February of 2010. Our lives were forever changed.  Since the robbery David and I have had the priviledge to speak at Victim Impact Panels over the last year 4 times. It is always so humbling to speak to a group of people who are on probation along side other victims.  Each time is different, and each time is healing... the following is a bit of the story I tell... this particular version was written last spring...

   I distinctly remember waking up the morning of February 24, 2010 and thinking, “Today is the morning after…” And I was afraid of what changes had occurred the night before. Our lives are lived in moments of “before” and “after” events.  The thing is you don’t always recognize that you are in the "before” until you are experiencing the “after.”
            Some are good.  Like before we had children, our lives consisted of just my husband and I, in love and enjoying each other.  But after we had our first baby, our lives were turned upside down and have never been the same since. They continue to ground us and bring us joy, even though they are grown.  We can’t imagine not having children.
            Some are melancholy, sweet and sad all at once.  Before we found out that my grandfather had bone cancer we loved spending time with him. None of his children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren would pass up an opportunity to spend time with him.  After we found out that he was terminally ill, our time with him became treasures; special memories made and stored in our hearts.
            And some after moments are just bad- like after the robbery.
The before the robbery were carefree days with school, friends and work. The before was trusting and believing in the good in people, that it outweighed the bad. David had just completed a very successful season in basketball where he led our team, Central Texas Christian School Lions, to one game away from being in the TAPPS State finals for the second year in a row.
David was planning a speech which he was going to give at chapel on Wednesday, Feb. 23rd, during a Junior Class led Chapel.  He had a lot of stuff on his heart that he wanted to share; most of it was regarding students who did not appreciate being able to attend CTCS.
            The night before the robbery, I had found out that CTCS had already called school off for Tuesday because of the predicted snow storm. I woke Dave up to tell him that he was not going to school the next day much to his delight.
            The day of the robbery, I put chili on to cook in the crock pot and headed to work for a little while.  Once it started snowing, we closed our shop and I headed home.  David was already playing in the snow with friends.  I grabbed my camera and left the house to take some fun pictures. I found David and all of his friends having a snowball fight at Lions Park on one of the baseball diamonds.  I took a lot of pictures of them and was so happy to just listen to their laughter and yelling.
            Later, a group of kids showed up at our house to eat the chili I had made earlier. They were laughing and just hanging out. I remember listening to them and thinking what a blessing it was to have them all at my house, and how sweet God was just to let us have a glimpse of their carefree happiness.  Dave is our youngest child, and time is quickly slipping by! I knew that night that I will soon look up and have an empty nest but a mansion of memories.  That night was a memory I was storing away to bring out at a later date to warm my heart. I was thankful.
            Soon, they all decided they were going to go to Stratford hill to “sled.” The mother in me felt like that was not a good idea.  But my fear was for broken bones or other sledding induced injuries.  They were meeting another friend there, and no one was driving. In the end, they all walked out of my house giggling with excitement.
            I began editing the photographs I had taken earlier that afternoon  Our phone rang at 10:00 or so, and the caller id revealed the Weber’s number.  My heart sank, and I just knew that someone had a broken arm, needed stitches or some other injury which was going to require a trip to the emergency room.  When I answered the phone, the fear in David’s voice revealed something much worse than a physical injury that could be taken care of in an emergency room.
            In five minutes, we had been thrown into the after, and our lives have changed forever. The fear and adrenaline in David’s voice sent me into a panic.  He had a hard time actually getting the words out, and at one point I heard Dr. Weber yell, “David! Tell her you are all okay. You are scaring her.” Once David was able to actually recount the event, he just kept saying to me, “They stuck the gun in Tyler ’s stomach and held it to Josh’s throat.  There was nothing I could do. I thought they were going to kill them, Mom, and there was nothing I could do.”
            David said that he was hoping when the car pulled up that the boys were just going to sled with them, but he had a feeling of impending danger as they exited the vehicle. He saw the gun as they pulled it out, cocked it and pointed in David’s face.  They took his cell phone and his money and moved from him to Josh and then to Tyler.
            According to David, Tyler and Josh, the robbers made derogatory remarks, called them names and told them on several occasions that they weren’t playing around. The robbers were laughing and having a good time, and all the while, they had just stolen way more from my son other than the iPhone and $16- they had stolen his innocence; and they took a spark out of his eyes that has been replaced by fear and anger.
            The four robbers got in a car and took off.  David was able to memorize the license plate on the car they were in and the boys took off up Stratford.  They knocked on the doors of several houses along the way because they were scared to death the robbers were going to come back, make good on their threats and shoot them. No one would come to the door.  And many of the houses had lights on and the boys could see people inside of them.  They finally gave up on any help from strangers and just ran the rest of the way to the Weber’s house. They called us and spent several hours in the police station.
            The next day was the polar opposite of the snow day.  Tyler and Josh spent the night at our house. David and I dug in trash all around the area.  He was adamant about finding his phone, as if finding that would actually give him back the peace that had been stolen.  The boys talked in hushed tones.  They joked about the whole incident, but it was a different type of joking.  It was laughter with sadness.  We had a string of friends come by the house, and I fed them all chili again. But this time our home was filled with nervous laughter and moments of silence.
            In the after, our family looks very different indeed.
            We used to never lock our doors. They are locked now.  I have never been prejudiced, but I am ashamed to say that now I have struggled with it for the first time in my life. I don’t know that I can explain it, because in my head I know that the color of their skin does not matter.
             Before the robbers were arrested, I would look at boys walking the streets and think, “I wonder if that is them.”  Once I was working out and there were a group of black kids in the gym and they were simply talking amongst themselves, but I had to leave because I could not get past the fear that they were talking about what my son and his friends had experienced at the hands of their friends.  It is awful to start to turn into someone you hate and have to claw your way out of the dark tunnel all because someone thought it would be a great game to go out with a gun and rob kids.
            I was so thankful the boys did not get shot.  But I was so angry. And I am still angry.  We have spent what seems like hours and hours and days at the police station and later at the Court House.  David insisted we let him go to the Bail Reduction hearings with us.  He wanted to see those boys.  We have sat in the courtroom with three of those boys, standing out like sore thumbs while their families sat behind us or beside us, each of us praying for opposite outcomes. My heart is broken, a condition I know I share with the families of the accused.
            David spoke in chapel after the robbery, but his speech was not the same one he had planned.  He talked about how he always thought he was pretty big, and strong, but that when someone pulls out a gun, cocks it and sticks it in your face, you realize you only have God.  He talked about how all of his friends had come from relationships he had made at church or at school and how he had relied on those relationships to get through the last week.
            David did not really care about school after that.  He became irritable and depressed.  He did not really sleep unless he was with Tyler and Josh.  We took the three of them to a counselor. She worked with them through some post traumatic stress syndrome exercises.  She talked to us about the fact that David is experiencing a lot of guilt because of the incident.
            David feels guilty because sledding was his idea and he pressed the boys to go.  He feels guilty because he talked Tyler ’s mom into letting him stay.  But most of all, he feels guilty because, for the first time in his life, he could not protect Tyler .  They have been best friends since they were born.
            He has also been angry.  His view of the world and the justice system has changed from trust to not understanding the rules anymore.  David, Tyler and Josh are all three very good boys.  They don’t drink or do drugs.  They are just good Godly young men.
            I did not want David to leave the house.  I wanted to be with him at all times. When he walked out the door, there was a part of me that wants to grab his leg and beg him not to go. To this day, I wake up in the middle of the night and go check on him.  The first few months I made him come home before dark.  The first few times he got home after dark, he called and had us go out to walk him in the house.  He would not take the trash out after dark. I would make him call me often.  My daughter came home from college one weekend and told me I had to stop.  I told her that I can’t, this is just the way it is right now. My worst fear for him is no longer being behind the wheel, it is being out of his car and exposed to the bad people.
            We began to receive mail addressed to the “Families of Victims of a Violent Crime.” I received a letter from the Bell County Crime Victims Coalition inviting us to the “7th Annual Tree of Angels Dedication” where we can bring an angel ornament to place on the tree in recognition of a crime victim. I don’t want to be a family of the victim of a violent crime; but then again, no one does.
            For a while, we had a job that required us to work a lot of nights.  I hated leaving David at home alone.  I eventually told my husband that I can’t help him anymore.  One night, David and I were at home alone and some girls called him and told him they had just driven by our house and saw 3 black men on our porch.  David took off upstairs to get a shot gun that I had forgotten we even have! (He would have had to beat them to death with it because we don’t have any shells) I went to open the door and he was screaming at me to wait.  As I opened the door, I saw a strange car in my driveway.  I closed the door and started to call 911 when all of a sudden David figured out that the car belonged to one of the girls who had called him and that it was all a prank.  Neither one of us laughed.  He called them and told them that we were furious and did not find that funny at all.
            Now we are living in the after of the sentencing of the four boys who pled guilty; in the after of being in the courtroom with all four of those boys and their family members, friends, coaches and pastors.
            The courtroom was packed as the Bell County deputies shifted seats around so they could escort us, two victims and 6 of their family members into the courtroom.  We had to squish into our seats, sharing seats and standing because the family and friends of the robbers had taken up the whole courtroom.
            We were told that the men accused of this crime would have a string of family members, coaches and teachers who would testify that they were really good kids, and that they had just had a sudden lapse in judgment.  And they did. The Temple athletic director testified about how wonderful one of the boys is and how he was always welcome at his home with his children.  When asked by the DA if he would feel the same way if it had been one of his boys that had been robbed, he had to admit, “Probably not.”  The mother of one of the boys testified that she knew this crime had been hard on the victims and their family members- but it had also been hard on her family and her son. He was depressed and it was not fair for this to ruin his life.  I felt myself screaming in my head!
            As we left the courtroom for a recess one of the robber’s grandmother asked me if she could apologize to my son. And she did, with tears in her eyes. It broke my heart.
            David and Tyler testified, and I was asked to testify regarding how this crime has affected David. But there was no one asked to testify about how good our boys are. The judge did not get the opportunity to hear from David’s coach, or his teachers, or his pastor, principal, administrator. She did not get to hear about how his character is Godly and honest and how he always strives to represent his school and his Savior.
To date, the Temple Daily Telegram has reported about this crime several times.  Each time they have briefly mentioned the victims and spent lengths detailing all of the accomplishments made by two of the criminals. These four men have stood before the judge and pled guilty to two charges of aggravated robbery, and yet they are still getting good press. What about the victims?  Who is reporting what great young men they are? Who is talking to their coaches, representatives from their schools? Does anyone want to know what would be said about the character of my son?
            I don’t understand how a person thinks who can just get a gun, get in a car and find it fun to rob others.  That is not just being bored, nor is it “we all got mixed up with the wrong crowd.” It is wrong.  And there should be some high consequence for that action. It seems like the attitude has been that it was not really that big of deal.  And that it was just a little game. It has been a big deal for us.  It has been life changing. Yes, it could have been much worse, and we are thankful that it wasn’t.  However, I don’t believe that it was not worse because the four men who have pled guilty were responsible and acted out of goodness.  I believe it was not worse only because God was protecting David, Tyler and Josh that evening.  I also believe that it was God’s protection over Derrick, A.J., Dewayne, and Marcus that kept them from doing more harm.
     Fear- it is a hard emotion to control once it has been woken up.  Unfortunately, it has been woken up in our lives- mine, my husband’s, my other two children’s, but mostly my 17 year old son’s.  Innocence can not be held onto forever, we all lose it at some point.  But the four young men who decided to play a game of robbery on February 23 violently stole the innocence of David, Josh and Tyler- three young men who were doing nothing more than playing in the snow.
            They have been sentenced- three of them to 10 years probation; one for a 10 year prison sentence.  They are supposed to make restitution. We have been asked if we were happy with the sentencing- I have to say, I trust in our Justice System and I trust in the judge’s decision- but happy? I don’t think I am happy about any of this. I pray that those three boys who received probation will take the opportunity presented to them and turn their lives around, I would be a hard hearted woman if I wanted to ruin their lives when they are so young.  I have forgiven them, but I have not forgotten.
            Yet in the after, I see God working in my son’s heart…he is amazing and has continually praised God that this happened to him and not someone else that did. not have the strong faith, strong family ties nor strong friendships to back him!
            He spoke in his Senior Chapel today.  He gave a convicting message about justifying our bad decisions, mistakes and sins… his message was powerful and raw and honestly, only one that he could give in the “after” of the robbery and sentencing. He explained how he “grew up” in the courtroom when person after person went to the stand and testified to the character of the boys who had robbed him, Josh and Tyler; how each character witness justified their actions… his voice shook, his hand shook and he had tears in his eyes when he told the entire CTCS Middle School and High School that when you are forced to listen to person after person justify how you had to watch someone stick a gun in your best friend’s stomach, neck and your face…you know that justifying your thoughts, your actions, your sins…breaks God’s heart…
            I was so angry before about this robbery… now, in the after… I can see God’s hand continually guiding us for His Glory!

Stupid Satan-Stupid Me

December 8, 2011
Today, I am admitting to a very shameful “pet peeve” I possess… Frankly, I am afraid that at the very least it is a flaw in my character, and could even be a spiritual handicap… I am not sure. But I am still going to confess it:
I hate receiving Bible scriptures via text messages and, also let me add, sometimes e-mail as well. It irritates me.  I almost never respond.  Often, I don’t even read the scriptures. Terrible. I know.  I told you it was bad.
Now there are exceptions…for instance.  Every so often, my mom will send me a copy of a devotion that she and my dad have read together that made them think of me. And I know that because of that, they have actually prayed a special prayer for me the night they read it because God laid me on their heart. And there are other times that I gladly receive the Word of God from a friend or family member.
I don’t mind reading verses people post on Facebook.  In fact, I have been known to post a section of my own daily devotions or the scriptures from them every so often.  That is different. Why? I don’t know.
This morning I was in the middle of my daily routine- waiting on my tea water to boil while reading my devotion.  I have been reading the devotion book “God Calling” for almost a year now.  It was a gift from my mom at Christmas (and, yes, I was so happy to receive it! So maybe I am not completely void of all things spiritual). I actually purchased the “God Calling” app for my iPhone this summer which I now use every day, often two to three times a day. This morning, smack in the middle of my reading a text message pops up with a scripture and a website link! I received one yesterday morning as well, from the same dear friend whose heart is gold, and I know her intentions are pure.  But even knowing this, I was irritated.  I closed the text message- without reading the scripture and even closed my devotion!
My focus turned immediately away from God and His word and to my own selfishness. This was what was going on in my head, (and again, I am confessing to emotions I know are stinky) “I don’t want to receive text messages of Bible verses everyday just because I have shared that I am going through a bit of a difficult situation! I HATE THAT! I can and do read my own Bible.  I do NOT need a Junior Holy spirit! Just because that scripture speaks to you, it does not mean it is speaking to me.  If you feel like it is speaking to you regarding me, then say a prayer for me!”
Okay! Okay! So I am sure you are all praying for me right now…and I do need it… but God did quietly and gently speak to me as I was throwing a mental fit…I suddenly realized that Satan was able to use scripture against me…and I had let him!! Not only had I not read the scripture sent to me, I had not finished my devotion, had given up my quiet time with the Lord and had generally let my mood turn sour.  Seriously, all because someone had text messaged me a Bible Verse?  Stupid Satan- and Stupid Me!
I went back and finished my devotion. I went back and read the scripture from my friend. I finished my time face to face with God. My mood changed. My spirit lifted. I am thankful for the Word of God, however it comes to me. I am thankful for friends who love me enough to pray for me and send me scriptures. I am humbled and thankful that God loves me in spite of my sinful self!
Will I react differently the next time I receive Bible verses via text message or e-mail? Hopefully. But, probably not.  However, I pray that God will remind me of the events of this morning and I will be able to step back and just take in the Word!
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

My Heart.My Home

December 6, 2011
We are settled into our new house, 1109 Westway, Temple, TX.  Our garage is full of open Christmas containers which have been stripped of the items I hold most precious in order to decorate our small home.  I have found many items to be missing… I think I might need to make another run to the old house.
This morning I was eating breakfast and looking around the house.  It is not yet feeling like “my home” and yet I do love it.  However, this morning I was thinking of all of the times I have stayed up until all hours of the night decorating the old house, all alone- just getting excited about the holiday season and the possibility of parties and family gatherings. I remember every year going up the stairs and stopping as I got halfway up the landing and looking over the big living area at the Christmas wonderland I had transformed it to be… and thinking, “Thank you God for this home!  I love it!” Thinking of those this morning was bittersweet.  I did love that house.  I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to live there for as long as I did.  I will miss it.
But I am so grateful that we have found our new home.  It has been such a blessing already.  My prayer today is that my excitement as I look around my home will be the anticipation of spending time face to face with my Lord and Savior; joy in the hours I get to spend with Cody; entertaining my friends and family; and nurturing my grandchildren there! I want this change of homes to also represent a change in my priorities, life-style and heart.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Mouse in the House....

Dec. 7, 2011
Yesterday, we had a mouse in our house.  Yesterday, I was thankful for this mouse because it actually got my son, Jacob, out of bed before noon. (Something neither me nor his dad has been able to do in a long time- all of which is another story for another journal entry) Today, the mouse is gone. That is right- Dead- as in It.Is.Finished!
However, capturing and killing the mouse was not so easy, and not without drama. I often wonder why it is that a small creature, not much bigger than some water bugs (aka: cockroaches) bring out such a fierce emotion in me that it forces suppressed squeals of terror from my mouth. I hate water bugs- I don’t like to smush them; I can’t stand the noise they make when I step on them; I abhor the fact that they can often take flight, run anywhere, have long antenaes that seem to move on their own free will and that they are the epitome of all that is gross and unnatural.  However, armed with all of this loathing of the oversized water bug (AKA: cockroach), my emotional reaction to seeing one run across my path has never once brought a scream of terror from my lips.  I kill them, I smush them, I pick them up in napkins, I step on them, I flush them, I even have been known to vacuum them up (kind of evil on my part- knowing that I am sucking the life out of them…and I admit, I asked Cody to vacuum up the mouse lastnight…) But when it comes to mice- I have no more courage than the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz.
Last night was no exception.  I thought that since I had actually added the mouse to my “Thankful List” yesterday, my heart might have bonded with it on some supernatural, spiritual level… no.such.luck.
My first sighting of Mr. Mouse was in my bathroom- I was on the toilet, he was apparently behind the toilet; because when I flushed, he ran out and into my closet.  Now, I have to give myself some kudos, because I did not scream, exactly. It was more of a loud intake of air, and a gasp. Possibly the result of leftover thankfulness; also, I felt as though I have toughened up over the years spent in our house on Hemlock- the main rodents we fought in that house were rats.
The next time I saw him, he was hiding between the wall and baskets in our bedroom. I called Cody in, who immediately armed himself with a homemade glove of trash bags and kitchen towels. I kept watch over Mr. Mouse, who was trying to be invisible. After asking me if I wanted him to get the mouse to run my direction or his (I gladly answered his) Cody began implementing “Kill Mouse” mission. I had full faith that he knew what he was doing…but the plan immediately went awry, mainly because Mr. Mouse did not stick to his role. Instead of heading out from behind the baskets toward Cody- he ran toward me. Not cool, at all. Instead of standing my ground, I began to scream and jump around. Screaming, squealing, crying, or any displays of such negative emotions only serve to irritate my husband.  He has no use for them, and can never fully comprehend that I am trying my hardest NOT to be scared, or sad, or mad or any of the negative emotional states that he dislikes.
So my screaming only served to add new emotional developments to an already emotionally charged situation. I was ordered to get on the bed (I had asked to go put my boots on- I seriously felt like they would give me a little more courage) and watch for the mouse to come out. Cody, now armed with a broom began to “sweep” under the bed.  New reason for him to be irritated- there was “stuff” under the bed… The stuff consisted of beer caps (They were from the pocket of my shorts that I wore in the ambulance on the way to the hospital- yes, another story for another day, but I did dump them under the bed as I lay waiting for the ambulance; and there were several of them because I had worn the cutoffs for 3 days while painting, cleaning and moving) the leaf to our dining room table, a towel, a tray a box lid and one of the socks from the pair that I was given to wear home from the emergency room. And all of these things were in his way on his mission to sweep out the mouse- and of course, I had put them there, so I was ridiculous. In my defense, we have moved to a much smaller house, and he has also said that he does not want to use the garage as storage- I am trying to please him and use my space creatively…however, I was sort of ashamed about the beer caps, and I don’t know how or why the box lid was under there, (possibly a result of thinking after the beer?) Anyway, somehow, now killing the mouse has turned into a new session of Cody criticizing me, causing me to begin to get rather defensive.
Eventually the mouse ran out from under the bed, only to make a u-turn and go right back under.  Our conversation went something like this:
“There it is! It is out! Oh! He went back under!”
“Where is it now? If I could just get all of this stuff out from under the bed!”
“OUT! Oh- back under!”
“I need you to help me get it, not scare it back under!”
“I am not scaring it! I am on the bed!”
“Are you watching all directions for it? You could miss it!”
“I am trying to!”
“ You are just making this more difficult! I can’t find him anywhere! Did you miss him coming out?”
“Possibly.  Shut the bedroom door.”
“That won’t help. He will just go under it.”
“Maybe not if we put this blanket here.”
Irritated silence- door being closed, me rolling up the blanket and putting on my boots.  More searching for the mouse.
This went on for what seemed like forever.  We were finally giving up when Cody said, “I got it!”  And I screamed, “Is it dead?” Only to see his tail sticking out from under Cody’s boot. Not dead. Yet.
I armed Cody with his trash bag and kitchen towels and he properly disposed of Mr. Mouse in our back yard. We were able to get in bed knowing that the little critter was no longer scurrying around our house! Cody was my hero (even though I was a little disappointed that he did not give me any credit for actually trapping the mouse at the bedroom door with my rolled up blanket!) And our oldest son returned to his regular sleeping habits.
Today- I am thankful for a critical husband who is an emotionally steady rock.  Even though I often feel like he is always criticizing me, and that he is impossible to please; and I have been known to accuse him of being unnaturally void of human emotions. I know that none of those things are true. My husband dwells on the positive side of things.  He is a dreamer. His remarks are not meant to sound critical, but as a dreamer, he does always feel like he has a new and improved way to do things, and sometimes he does.  He makes me want to be a better person, a better wife, and a better mom.
I am going to thank God for every remark that he makes that I take as a personal criticism; and I am going to pray that I will begin to want to please and honor God in the same way that I desire to please and honor my husband.  I love you Cody! Thank you for being my rock.