Friday, July 30, 2004

The Singing Butler

The Singing Butler Posted by Hello
Some random thoughts for today...

First, after two years of searching, sale hopping and frame optioning, this picture is hanging in our bedroom. I am redoing the whole room around this picture. I love this picture but I can't say exactly why. It's called The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano. As I lie in bed and look at it I wonder..What is he singing? Why are they on the beach dancing in formal wear in a rain storm? Why are they making the maid and butler stand out in the rain with them? Is there a storm brewing or is this dusk? Would this be as romantic as it looks in real life? Why did he name it the singing butler..We can't even see that the butler is singing? So many questions. I guess this is what art- and I use the term broadly- is supposed to do...Inspire thought. What does this picture do for you?

Secondly, last night Rob and I helped host a "Back To School" party for my dear Christian college ACU. There were alumnus of all ages as well as entering freshmen and returning students at this Ice Cream, Sandwich & Salad supper (recipes for my salads in the comments). My good friend Chris Campbell, who now works for ACU, came down to run the show, so to speak. Chris has been one of my favorite people for many years. It was great to see him.

My time at ACU yielded so many lifelong friendships, some more regular than others, but still real and meaningful. I loved my time at ACU. I miss daily chapel. I miss office hours in the SA. I miss class discussions and deep thoughts. (thus I blog:-) I miss getting to take Bible classes and going to church at Highland. I miss my adopted families in Abilene the Copes and the Smalls. But there are things I don't miss like not knowing who I would marry, or if I would marry. I don't miss exams, annotated bibliographies, or group papers. I don't miss that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach from accidentally waking 10 minutes before class started and trying to make it. Being around those 18 and 19 year olds last night made me think two things...
1. You've come along way Baby!
2. Hasn't it been a fun ride?!

Lastly there is a great fun flash at Smile Pop called the Internet Soapbox. I have seen it so many time I can quote it, but it still makes me LOL. Enjoy!

Happy Friday to all and to all a great weekend!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

My sister Sari and Kolby! Posted by Hello

Sun Drop

There are twelve 16.9 oz bottles of Sun Drop chilling in my frig right now! Mae Anne Hale sent me two six packs!

Have I ever mentioned that I love this blog thing?! You guys make my day so often lately. Kolby and Rhett are all excited about this foreign soda that was delivered to our front door in a 16 pound box today! (We are about to be on our way out to mail the DP, yes, I am just now getting to that) I have laughed countless times at post and comments, even teared up a time or two. It has been so great to reconnect with Mike, Brandon and Mrs. Judy! It has been so fun meeting (or re-meeting in some cases) all of you ...Mae, Jon, Clarissa, Serena, Q, Matt, Chris, Sara, DJG, TL, Grant, Joel... and all you other bloggers.

At lunch the other day a friend (she doesn't blog of course) said she thought that blogs would someday go the way of chat rooms.... I hope not! But whatever I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who make my day with the words you type. I love my blog family!

BUSY, BUSY days ahead but I will try to blog as often as I can!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Wednesday Already?

Happy hump day!  Mae just taught me how to post pictures! How fun!  Sadly, that is all my blog time for today! But go read Brandon's blog yesterday about cell phones. He is so right! I also just added my dear friend Susan Jenkins to my blog family. She is the only reason we survived my drama queen pregnency with Rhett and the first three months of his life! She has many great things to say and I look forward to reading them!


Rhett dressed himself to help in the yard.

My Kids

Kolby and Rhett

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Oh for the love of BLOG…

Recently I was having lunch with some girl friends. We were talking politics and our disdain for the news these days. It shifted to church politics. Then I heard it slip out… " The other day on my friend Q’s blog she said…." Blank stares. "What is a blog?" and "You have a friend named Q?"
When I attempted to explain the whole blog thing, they looked at me as though I was speaking Swahili. My attempts to explain who Q is were equally foreign to them. I love these girls dearly, but between the four of them, I am not sure they could log in, and type an e-mail, and send it.
I will date myself here, but in 1992 when we were all finishing college, there was not a mainstream internet. You didn’t have e-mail to check or a web to surf. These ladies were teachers, nurses, and professionals but they, like me, left the work world 6 and 7 years ago to be full time Moms. NEWS FLASH you don’t have to have a PC to change diapers, mend booboos, or fix dinner. So these particular friends of mine are rather techno challenged. I think I may as well been trying to explain nuclear physics, in fact that could have been easier.
Anyway this experience made me see that the blog world is increasingly creeping into the other parts of my world. I was wondering which scent Mae prefers when I was in Bath and Body today. I have smiled to myself all day thinking of the picture Mike posted this morning. I chat with Brandon via blog frequently and find myself saying, "The other day Brandon was saying"…which really he was typing and not saying it just to me. I passed a gay bar today and said a prayer for Clarissa as she decides weather to go there with God…and possibly Mae and Brandon. I got a great coupon for baby boy clothes at Gymboree and wondered if I should send it to DJG for her grandson. You guys are influencing me!

Back to School Bugging Me

Ahh the back to school rush begins! Much like the Christmas rush, every year I seem to start a mental countdown a few weeks before the first day of school. Even when it was just pre-school for Kolby, my mind would naturally calculate how many days of summer were left. 

In the "shopping days left until Christmas" countdown (all days seem to be shopping days in this day and age so why do we still say that?) we measure how much time is left to get the cards out, get the presents bought and wrapped, make the party/program rounds, do the  "meaningful-thing-to-teach-the-kids-the-true-meaning-of-Christmas" things, take pictures with Santa, catch a live nativity, and  bake sweet things.  The "days until school starts" count down seems to bring on a less furious, but still substantial, list of things we just have to do.

It is a time to hurry up and get all those summer projects finished up, take those trips we have been meaning to take, and visit all those fun places like the water park, the zoo, the amusement park and the lake before we are back to the daily grind. It is a time to clean out closets and brace for the fall. Time to shop for school supplies and school clothes.  It is the time to batten down the hatches and get ready for another year of school, soccer, dance, birthday parties, reunions, games, retreats, holidays... So much to prepare for!

Do you feel it? Has it hit you yet?

Well today Rhett reminded me that in my rush to get ready for life, I seem to forget to stop and enjoy it! I was off to get Kolby  to Mothers Day Out so I could accomplish a list of stops and errands a mile long. I was trying to get the bags packed and the sacks of things to drop here and take back there in the car. I was yelling "Come on guys, the days a wasting!" as I tried to herd everyone into the Van. Garage door up, Van in reverse, I check in the kiddy mirror (hooked to the rearview mirror) and realize Rhett was not in the van!

Frustrated, I put it in park and ran back into the house to find my youngest. Couldn't find him. Looked all over. Panic struck. Started yelling for him. Grabbed the phone to call not sure who when, I spotted him out the kitchen windows. I ran out the back door and there he was 15 feet away laying on his back in the middle of the yard, hand behind his head, sunglasses on, just a chillin'. "Rhett what are you doing? We are in the van about to go!" I yell hoping he'll pop up and run in..
No answer.  Oh my gosh...Is he dead? (told you I am a tad dramatic!) I ran over and started to scoop him up.
"NOOOO Mama, the laaaddddy bug!"
Seems a lady bug was crawling on the stomach of his shirt and he didn't want to disturb her.
"Rhett we have to go. I've got lots to do today."
"No mama I not go. I got lots of bugs to watch today."
Hard to argue with that. 

I decided to do a little less than planned, take deep breaths, walk slowly and speak softly... after all there is only so much summer left to enjoy! I hope in the midst of your own back to school rush, you are able to take time to watch the bugs! God bless!

Monday, July 26, 2004

I smell a rat

"Not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die." Anne Lamott
Mike Cope posted this quote a while back. Last Wednesday, Chris Smith had a great post about forgiveness in which he used this quote. Yesterday Brandon referred to some "terrorist" and the whole situation reminded me of this quote.  Anger, furor, hate, tearing others down, jealousy these are the products of not forgiving. Not exactly fruits of the spirit.

For me the hardest part of forgiving is knowing what to do next. Do I tell the person that I forgive them, even when they aren't sorry and don't see why they should be forgiven? Do I just let it go and in my mind and know that I forgive?  Do I go about my business as before? Do they have to reciprocate for it to really be forgiven? Much involved here. But this I know to be true.  We are ultimately known by our deeds and actions, not by the words or accusations of others.

"By your fruits you are known."  My mother has said that to me all my life. I am finding it to be true.  I look at the lives of people I have known to be bitter and critical. They are sad and lonely now.  I look at the lives of people who may not have had much but they always loved. They are rich with friends and family. I guess time is the ultimate test of this life, and love is the test of the next!

Have you ever had the feeling God was trying to teach you something because it just keeps coming up? Well my friends, I think God has been trying to show me that I have some rat poison in my belly. There are some people who I let push my buttons. I feel my blood start to boil just being around them. It's not the Irish in me, it's the selfishness. It's the "that's not fair" perspective. It's the "Why, I otta" complex. It is not from love. It is not from compassion.  I am going to figure out how to forgive these people with out offending them and let it go. Life is too short to drink rat poison!

Anyone want to join me? Lay it out right here. Tell us (anonymously if you want) what or who it is causing a burn in your belly and leave it right here on this blog site. Leave the rat poison behind so you can seize the Blue Bell!  (That may be my new mantra!)

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The Hard Part

I have just returned from a 19 hour day! Went to Abilene for Nick's funeral. Incredible experience. Heart breaking and healing all at the same time.  Wish I could post the picture I have of Nick in my mind. He was probably 15 and he just had the greatest smile and a twinkle in his eye. Really! His shining personality just beamed from his face!

Some have said "what a waste", and I agree. His death was a waste but his life was definitely not a waste! There were over 700 people at Nicks funeral today, most of whom knew Nick or his family in a special way. So many young people. There were many stories about Nick, great stories!  He was a special young man. As I listened to these stories, I wished I had known Nick better. I wish I could have seen one of his plays or heard his band live. Even in death his personality is still magnetic.

Nick's Dad told me that he knows that when everyone leaves "that will be the hard part. That is when this will all be real."  I so wish there was a way to spare them this pain but I know that there isn't. They take comfort in the person Nick was before this terrible summer. Literally 100's of people have come forward to tell  how Nick made a difference in their lives. At the same time, it makes the loss seem greater. More tragic.

Please pray specifically for Bit, Bill, Riley and Kenzie in the coming months.  I know the prayers and love of complete strangers have helped carry their family this far. Thank you so much for standing in the gap for Nick! Must rest.


Little cool side note. Today I heard that Nick was a big fan of "splashing".  It seems few escaped his splashing and water fight fun.  A few minutes before 3 pm (when the funeral started)  a totally random, unpredicted short rain storm blew into Abilene. (If you know Abilene you know how rare that is!) It poured just as the family was arriving at the church. Several couldn't help but wonder if somehow God let Nick give one last splash! So like him!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The End in Sight

From the Abilene Reporter News

Robert Nicholas Whitaker
Beloved son, brother and grandson, Robert Nicholas Whitaker, 20, died at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Sunday, July 17, after a short illness. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his death.
Services will be held at the Church of the Heavenly Rest Episcopal. 602 Meander St. Friday, July 23, at 3:00 P.M., under the direction of North's Funeral Home with a celebration of Nick's life following the service at the Center for Contemporary Arts, 220 Cypress St.
Visitation will be from 5:30 - 7:30 PM Thursday, July 22nd, at North's Funeral Chapel, 242 Orange St.
Nick was born August 6, 1983 in Austin, Texas. A 2002 graduate of Wylie High School. He was active in sports, theatre, choir and P.A.L. He was named "Best All-Around Boy" of his class. His love of and compassion for fellow students was reflected by his teacher, Kim Cheek, who remembers that "Nick was always such an advocate for the underdog".
Nick is survived by his parents, Bit and Bill Whitaker, his brother Riley and sister Kenzie; grandparents, Martha Kiel and John Kiel, Jayne and Bob Whitaker; aunts and uncles, Mary K. and Anthony Huff, Julia and Drei Kiel, Dana and Bo Whitaker, cousins, Casey Huff, Curran Kiel and William Whitaker; other family and friends; and God parents, Toni and Wayne Peel.
Memorials may be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, PO Box 3011, Abilene, Texas or to a charity of your choice.

This sounds morbid and depressing I know, but have you ever wondered what your obituary will say? I was reading Nick's this morning and I found myself wanting to edit and add more. There was so much more to his story, so much more to his life.  I guess there is no way to capture a life in a few paragraphs. There are no words to convey the depth and breadth of this tragic loss of life. 
My thoughts this morning while depressing in nature,  inspire me in ways.  I want to go climb mountains, jump buildings, and make a difference in my world.  I want to give my loved ones lots of great things to say about me when I'm gone! I want to savor every minute of the precious life I have with my family and friends. I want to do better and be better. I want to live with the end in sight. I want to love with the end in sight. I want to pray and worship with the end in sight. What a different perspective we have when we persevere with the end in sight!
Lord, thank you for the life of Nick Whitaker.  Please comfort his family and ease their sorrowful breaking hearts. Please help us to seize every opportunity to use this sorrow to better the lives of others and further your Kingdom! 
 I won't be blogging for a few days but you can be sure I will be living! Thank you for your prayers. GO! Get up from this keyboard and live with the end in sight!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Ode to Blog

Last week I couldn't sleep and started this blog as a draft.  I was just about to delete it but, thought maybe someone out there would appreciate my silly, insomniac poetry! Here goes... 

Q is at camp. Matt's out of the nation.
Jim is gone for a month's vacation.
And Brandon and Mike are busy with Zoe preparation.
Mae has a paper. Clarissa has a song.
Grant went MIA after Isis came along.
And Chris has been wrestling that monkey way too long!
DJG posted a dog, Serena's with the grandchild.
Jon's plugging others, and Jays blog is just too wild.
Thank goodness Judy Thomas has a few good post filed!
Blogging has introduced a whole new family,
They have joked, affirmed, applauded and even prayed for me.
I can not help but wonder if their faces I'll ever see?
So in the mornings, before the little ones awake,
Or in the afternoons while a nap they take,
I log on to wonder, laugh, cheer and debate.
It keeps the Mommy mush from overtaking my brain,
It helps me share important thoughts, joy and pain
My ramblings finally have a space in which to drain!
And if I could think of something that rhymes with the word clog,
I would tell you much more about the sensation we call BLOG!

Monday, July 19, 2004

The Roller Coaster

I should warn you that I am in "rambling mode" today.  My thoughts are a little skiddish and I am trying to blog between phone breaks... but here goes....
I sometimes imagine that God's favorite teaching tools in life are children.  Maybe this says more about me than HIM.   My mothering has brought me to all new levels of understanding the love of my Heavenly Father. Maybe that says more about my kids than me! No. Really, one of the many blessing of having a child is better understanding God's love. 
I remember the first time Rob took Kolby on a mini roller coaster at the State Fair.  She wanted to go, but half way through the ride she wanted off.  Rob had her close her eyes and squeeze his hand really tight when she was scared. She made it and wanted to go again! Again, she was scared but because she had done it before, she opened her eyes and enjoyed the next ride even more. I guess we all have to learn how to appreciate our own roller coasters, so to speak.
When I was a teen, I remember telling my youth minister that I felt I was on an emotional roller coaster.  I could go from feeling very up to very down.  He assured me the emotional roller coaster was normal for a teen, especially a compassionate, dramatic girl like me. He said it would get better with time.  I came away thinking I would out grow the roller coaster. Someday the high and lows would straighten out and life would be more like a kiddy ride with mild dips and hills, no valleys and no peaks.
Almost twenty years later, I think the valleys of life have actually become deeper and the peaks higher.  The joys and sorrows of my teenage world pale in comparison to the joyous and sorrowful situations I see now.  BUT if life is a roller coaster, I have become a much better rider!  The ride has intensified but the emotions have steadied. The fear of the canyons and the elation at the peaks has tapered off a bit. A person riding a roller coaster for the first time surely gets a different rush of emotions than one who has been on the same ride 200 times. Experience and faith help me enjoy the ride.
Lately, my life has taken some roller coaster type twist, turns, peaks and valleys.  My heart has been breaking for my kin in Dallas slowly loosing their son.   I have been deeply concerned about Rob's father and mine after both had major surgeries this summer.  Rob has been under tremendous pressure at work and as a result our financial future seems shaky. But at the same time, my life at home with my kids is really good. Though stressful at times for all the usual "kid" reasons, we basically play in the pool, see movies, sleep late, and end our days with snowcones or ice cream.  Rhett still wants to "snuddle" every night.  Kolby isn't too cool to kiss her Mom goodbye in front of her friends. Can't beat that! I am so grateful for my kids and for these fun summer days. The peaks and valleys are still there, but my emotional highs and lows have evened off a bit. I'm so glad my youth minister was right because basically I am still a compassionate, dramatic girl! 
Sometimes I feel guilty for the happiness in my life in the midst of others sorrow and turmoil.  BUT I have come to believe that this is how life is supposed to be. We ride the roller coaster. We hold on to God for dear life, close our eyes in the scary parts, and scream his name when we think we won't make it. Then we stretch our arms up with gratitude and glee in the high times and feel the rush His love and perfect plan grants our life.  As the ride goes on, we learn the peaks and valleys are all temporary.  Each twist and turn gets us closer to the end when we can go home and be with our Father. So we start to enjoy the ride more despite the highest highs and lowest lows.
I found myself reading Ecclesiastes today. (Wow...was that teacher in need of a summer break, or what!?)  I was drawn to the "There is a time for everything..."  section in chapter 3, especially after all that happened with Nick last week. But I also found comfort in this...

Ecclesiastes 9:7  Be happy and enjoy eating and drinking! God decided long ago that this is what you should do. 8Dress up, comb your hair, and look your best. 9Life is short, and you love your wife, so enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on this earth. 10Work hard at whatever you do. You will soon go to the world of the dead, where no one works or thinks or reasons or knows anything.
That is exactly what I intend to do.  Life is fleeting and precious. As for my current roller coaster situations, just like my little girl did on that sunny October day at the State Fair, I'll put my hand in my Father's and trust that He will get me through. When this ride is over, HE will take me home safely and all will be well.
Thank you Father God! Thank you so much!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Goodbye Nick

Robert Nicholas Whitaker died at 12:34 AM.

Even though his liver was functioning at 50%, he actually died of heart failure.  The family was told at 10:45pm that he would not make it through the night. He never surfaced from the medically induced coma he had been put in to rest his organs while waiting for a 2nd liver transplant.

He was 20 years old. His parents Bill & Bit Whitaker, brother Riley (17) and little sister Kenzie (7) are deeply mourning his passing. The family has returned to Abilene to make arrangements.  They are grateful for the last 26 days that they have had to love him and they are very grateful for all the prayers and love shown to them during this time.
We know Nick did not want to die and he was so sorry for everything. We hope his story might make someone think twice before doing anything that could end their life.  We also hope to increase the awareness of the importance of organ donation through Nick's story.  Thanks to the generosity of another family, Nick was able to have a few good coherent days of talking to his family.
  Though a few days might not mean much to some, it meant everything to Nick and his family.

Thank you Lord for giving Nick the chance to apologize to his family and to try to fight for his life.  Thank you for letting Nick hear and see that all was forgiven and that his parents loved him, no matter what. Please continue to comfort this family and soften the blow of loosing their precious "little" Nick.  He takes with him a chunk of our hearts.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The little blue pool

Chlorine, $12.00. Size C pool filter, $7.00. Intex 10 x 3 pool purchased on clearance at Target two years ago,$42.95. Having a swimming pool in our back yard that my kids think is just as great as the $28,000 in-ground pool next door, PRICELESS!

Actually I am not sure what is more priceless.
Is it the squeals of pure joy we hear from the moment I say "get your suits on," to "out of the water"?
Is it the magical spell it cast over my children as they love to play together and rarely squabble in the pool?
The fact that after four years of swimming lessons, Kolby finally taught herself to swim under water in this pool in two afternoons?
The peace of mind I have knowing my dare devil , no-fear-of-water, 2.5 year old son can stand up at any part of this pool but has to have me lift him to get in or out?
The hours of laughter and pretend play? (Today they were Ariel and Spiderman fighting the evil Mommy monster)
The memories they will have of splashing through their summer not watching TV?
The hugs and kisses we get when we chunk our chores and get in with them?
I'm not sure.
Of course having a level concrete slab and cushy playmats to set the pool on have helped make our setting ideal, but that pool is great! Rob and I have been known to hop in when the kids are gone or napping. All the little cousins love to come over and swim even though they could go to Grandma's real pool. I am not exaggerating when I say for two years now that pool has made our summer!
I realize we have to savor this time, for someday the kids will not be so thrilled by our little pool. But for now, there is no place they would rather be. So when summer pools go on clearance at the end of the season, I highly recommend investing! Next year we might even upgrade to the 12 x 4 model! I hear they clearance at around $70. Again PRICELESS!
Thank you God for the memories my kids and I share of fun days in the sun! (with a high grade SPF on of course) Thank you for cool water on hot days. Thank you for helping us keep our kids active and happy without going bankrupt. Thank you for the two precious little swimmers you have entrusted to us. With all the struggles, financial lures, and tragedies of our world, thank you for the respite of the little blue pool!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Nick update 2

(This post is about my cousin Nick Whitaker.. to get the full story read "For Nick" posted 7/12)

I just returned from Dallas from visiting Nick's family. I also saw Nick for the first time since all this began. They are 24 days into this ordeal! 24 days! Nick has been #1 on the transplant list for 30 hours now. We are just waiting for a liver, Again!  

The reason the last liver did not work was because it was not getting the blood it needed due to a heart valve that didn't function right.  The heart valve has been replaced so, the hope is a new liver would have a much better chance of working. Nick's body has shown no signs of rejecting the liver. 

Right now Nick is in a medically induced coma, again. This time he is also on a respirator  and dialysis so that his body and organs can rest.  He has a little more strength and time than he did the last time he was on the transplant list, so we pray for the best! We are just waiting for that perfect liver!
Amazingly, the family is optimistic and confident that a liver will come in time.  I was moved to tears by the selflessness and courage shown by Nick's Mom and Dad.  They were so interested in my kids and so welcoming and loving. I have no doubt that our Father God is working in the lives of so many through this horrible ordeal! I wish I wasn't so tired because there are so many things I would love to share about the undeniable hand of God in this situation! It is the goose pimpling, spine tingling kind of stuff that even doubters can't deny. That will have to be another blog.
PLEASE Lord, turn tragedy into triumph again! Let Nick get the liver he needs! Nick has such an incredible story to tell, I pray he lives to tell it! Thank you for all you have done for this family in the last 24 days. Thank you for the friends and family that have come from all over to support Nick. Thank you for the fragile life you breathed into each of us. May we aspire only to bring glory to your name! IJN Amen

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


I have not seen the likes of my hometown for more than four years now. For the better part of 26 years I lived in San Angelo.(excluding college years and two 3 month stays in Nairobi, Kenya) I lived in the same house for 21 of my San Angelo years. Growing up, I could not imagine not living there, or at least not visiting there on a very regular basis. But, a year after I married and moved away, my parents moved away.(How dare they after 28+ years?!) I have not had many reasons or opportunities to return since.

I've seen several posts about "sacred ground" lately. I made a list of my sacred places. Well over half are in Angelo.(as the "old" families call it) Here are a few...

Every inch of 2708 Rice ... when I dream of home, it is always in this house.

Our churches lake house where I have spent over half of my Forth of Julys, some lonely seeking nights, and some great friends time as well.

The river downtown where I first went to Fiesta Del Concho at age 3 and decided it was like Christmas in June.

The back swings at Travis Elementary.

Ashley Henderson's living room where we had Tuesday night BS.(Bible Study) It was BYOB.(Bring your own Bible)

The church parking lot on a hill that overlooks the neighborhood where I grew up.

The backyard of our "Tabosa" house where under a star filled sky, the guy I am now married to first kissed me.

2200 Johnson Street, the building where I first remember meeting God and where I was baptized, 22 years and one month ago today!

Sarah Bernhardt Theater on the Central High school campus.

San Angelo Stadium where over a decade of Fall Friday night memories were made.

The food places ...Mejor Que Nada when it was still a gas station, Shakey's Pizza Parlor-rojo potatoes, CHINA GARDEN, Henry's on Sherwood- beans, cheese and flour tortillas, the Duncan Donuts we frequented before or after many a Saturday morning soccer game, Ichiban for Sunday lunch, the Baskin Robbins on the "K-mart" (now HEB) hill where from age 1 to 26 my Dad went to get me mint-chocolate-chip milkshakes after major dental happenings or when I felt bad.

I could go on and on. I feel a little like Julie Andrews/Maria listing my favorite things. (You know it really does take the edge off dog bites and bee stings!:-))

But today I realized there are not only sacred places, but in ways, sacred people that dot the map of my life. These people have left an indelible thumbprint in the mortar that formed me. I made a list of these people. It was much longer than I imagined. Some people were strangers that said or did something I never forgot. Some were mentors or professors, family, and friends.

I talked to two such friends today for the first time in years. One of these guys was my best friend off and on from 5th grade until I married Rob. The other was my self-proclaimed long lost brother from high school on. They both had to wear Monkey suits in my wedding. The sound of their voices sent me back to my "Angelo days" and made me wax nostalgic!

When I think of Heaven, I try to imagine basking in pure love. A living collage of all my sacred people surrounding me as Jesus says "Welcome Home" floods my heart and mind. That image makes the back of my throat tingle and I am instantly homesick for a land I do not know but have the hope of dwelling in forever.

Dear Father, I am homesick for the future home you have promised me. The sacred places and people of my world are only a small taste of the sacredness of my home with you. Thank you for that promise. Thank you for all things sacred. Thank you for YOU! IJN amen

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Nick Update

Nick was just put on the liver transplant list again. Though the situation is not as immediately dire as it was with the first transplant, without a liver functioning properly, you die. The damage done to other organs during liver failure is just as lethal.
My heart weeps for all of them. We call out to God knowing he is in control, grateful for the miracles that brought Nick this far, and hoping and pleading for Nicks life. I don't know how this will end. It can not be wrapped up in a neat little word package and easily digested. It is just hard. BUT we have hope. God is good! Though we don't know the outcome, we truly believe Nick will be healed in one way or another. Selfishly, we hope that his healing will let him stay here with his family... but we are grateful all the same. Thank you for your prayers yesterday, and for your continued prayers. I will keep posting updates.

Monday, July 12, 2004

For Nick

This is my cousin Robert Nicholas Whitaker or "Nick's" story...

"Tell me a little bit about your son..."
That is all the doctor said to the tired and heart broken Mom he found in the waiting room. She had talked to so many doctors. Without questioning this doctors motives, she fumbled through her purse and found a book of pictures she always carried with her. "This is Nick right after we adopted him." She went on to tell how she had a hysterectomy at the tender age of 18. She and her husband had adopted three children, who by the way, were all biracial. Nick was their first.

From the moment he was born Nick was just an outstanding child. He was bright, cute, talented and had a magnetic personality that pulled people in and immediately put them at ease. He grew up in Abilene, went to Wylie Schools. He was well liked. He sang in a band after High School for a while and did great. Made good money. But wanted something else. So he enrolled in a local college and took a job rebuilding computers. Something nagged at him though. Why had his birth Mom left him? Who was he?

For reasons no one can fully explain, after playing golf with his Dad on Fathers Day, Nick got in his car and drove six hours to his favorite place in the world, the coast. Somewhere along the way he stopped for three bottles of tylenol. He parked his car by the beach and took all three bottles. When he came to, it was around 5pm the next day. He didn't know that his liver was dieing and the ammonias were already causing him to hallucinate. He stumbled to a near by fisherman and said "You have to get me some help. I am dieing."

"Please, please wake me up when my Mom gets here," he made the ER nurses promise. Five hours later they did. "Mom I am so, so sorry! I don't know why I did this. I don't want to die" he cried as he drifted in and out. But he was dieing. His liver was failing. There was not much left to do except get a new liver. The odds, she was told, were a million to one that any transplant program would take Nick since he did this to himself.

But his family was one that did not give up. Mom and Dad both called on old friends, family members, co-workers until finally someone came through. "Baylor in Dallas will work with the insurance and take a look at Nick. A plane will be there in an hour. Have him ready."

"We don't do transplants on suicide patients." That is what the first doctors from Baylor said who looked at Nick. "I doubt the transplant team will even grant you an interview". They put him in ICU and sent the family to a waiting room. So there she sat, not knowing what exactly it was that she was waiting for, talking to this doctor about her precious boy who had made an awful choice.

"I see" said the doctor after she finished, "Let me see what we can do for your son." He left. She glanced over at her husband. In the four days since that first phone call from the Corpus ER had he slept at all? Had she? "Maybe he can help" the Dad said in a hopeless attempt to comfort the Mom. Surrounded by friends and family all waiting in the crowded little waiting room for who knows what, she wept.

Ten minutes later a nurse came to tell the family that their son was on the waiting list for a liver transplant. "But we never had the interview" she said. The nurse informed her that the doctor who had inquired about her son was the head of the liver transplant team. "That was your interview." When asked how many people were waiting ahead of Nick, the nurse said, "None, your son is number one because his need is greatest. Without a liver in the next 12 to 15 hours, your son will die."

"We hope for a healthy liver, but we will take what we can get" the surgeon explained. No one asked what the odds were that a liver would come in time. It did not look good at all. BUT prayers were flooding heaven and God knows no odds! A family that had drifted away, now clung to the one real power in the universe, their God.

We don't know who paid the ultimate price and ended up giving Nick a perfect liver just 6 hours later, but we praise God for their life and their generosity. We pray that Nick's body will accept this new liver. We pray the boy who made a rash choice to end his life now has the strength and stamina to fight for it. It will be a life long fight involving anti-rejection medication and big life changes. BUT Nick did not make it this far alone and he will not be alone. Father God, Thankyou for finding a window into Nick's heart. Please help his tattered organs recover!

I first wrote this post a week and a half ago (see Life Amplified 6/28)but couldn't post it. Too soon, too personal. Today Nick is still fighting for his life. He has had a heart valve surgery and a stomach surgery since his liver transplant. He may not make it. As I type this, they are running test to see if he needs another liver transplant. This liver does not seem to be functioning. His family understands how severe the circumstances are. Still, they acknowledge that this has brought them back to God in many ways. They are grateful for the time they have had in the last weeks to tell Nicholas how much they love him. They have peace knowing he didn't really want to die and is so sorry for all of this. We pay for some choices for a lifetime. The family is trying to stay positive and take advantage of every moment Nick is with them.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, if you have read this far (I know this is long), read a little further and pray for Nick and his family. Pray that he lives. Pray for peace for his family either way. Pray for God's glory, wisdom and comfort to surround and conquer these circumstances! Thank you.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Mission Waco

I just added a link list to my blog after several failed attempts. The last link is to an organization called Mission Waco. They are based right here in -you guessed it- Waco, Texas. Various people from our church are very involved in MW. These people are incredibly gifted with servanthood. Many points of interest here, but one in particular for students of all ages and/or youth workers/ministers. Mission Waco has a poverty simulation program that is second to none.Regardless of your "tribal" ties, this is a life changing experience! Teens that go through this come out with a whole new vision of the poor and oppressed, as do sponsors. Tony Compolo was the guest speaker at MW fundraiser this year. There is an article in Christianity Today and Youth Worker by or about MW Executive Director, Jimmy Dorrel (that title is way to formal if you know the man.) Also check out the Church Under the Bridge that is a ministry of Mission Waco (or vice-versa).

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Snow Cones and Sun Screen

For me summer sunsets and snowcones just go hand in hand. Growing up, a white converted delivery truck with a red snowcone painted on it’s side cruised our neighborhood just after supper from April to October. It was the Pied Piper of our neighborhood. Kids would run out of their houses completely seduced by the kiddy music that blared from the trucks top mounted bull horn speakers. My friend Laurie got so excited once that the fact that she had just stripped down to take a bath failed to stop her from running out the front door to meet the snowcone truck. I don’t remember seeing her naked, but I do remember she didn’t get a snowcone that night!

It is almost criminal what all I would do for a snowcone! Of course many things I should have done anyway, like cleaning my room, vacuuming, dusting, being nice to my sister, helping around the house, eating my brussel sprouts, talking in a "nice tone" etc. But I would "work" all day for a rainbow snowcone. (cherry, grape, coconut, lime and banana flavors carefully striped across a perfect dome of freshly shaved ice…Ah perfection!) I had to be really good to rate a rainbow because it was a full nickel more than plain cherry and the like. Many times I think my behavior barely merited an ice cube, but my Dad would spring for a rainbow anyway. The gift of grace is easily savored when it combines five flavors in one cone!
Then there is SUNSCREEN!

I didn't exactly enjoy the sunscreening process, but it meant that we were about to SWIM! Is there anything better to an eight year old on a hot West Texas day than a cool, in ground, elevated diving board pool? Not for this 8 year old! I was practically a fish! Mom’s big rule though was Coppertone before chlorine. I can still smell that scent "of the tropics" as thick white lotion sputtered out of the goldish brown bottle and disappeared on my skin. Sunscreen protected us and prevented sunburn. Though I had no real affinity for the stuff, I slathered down daily so I could do what I loved best without getting burned. It was means to an end.

Today my past came back to haunt me. As reward for not making an afternoon of errand running too taxing, I found myself shelling out three bucks for some of “Mr. Snow’s “ finest! My kids literally squealed with glee as we approached the drive thru window. “Can we run errands again tomorrow?” Kolby asked as she spooned her “clear strawberry/wedding cake with cream” confection.
And just yesterday Rhett, who abhors lotion, diaper crème, or anything being put on him that is not his idea, immediately assumed scarecrow position in preparation for a dip in our neighbor’s pool. “Time for the scum-scream” he chirped. Sometimes they remind me so much of me!

Summer fun aside, this is the big thought I am wrestling with right now... How do I help my children avoid the snowcone/sunscreen mentality I grew up with in relation to my God? I thought Heaven was reward for being good in life. Even if it wasn’t earned, grace would give a pass. Just do the things you should do anyway and you get an eternal reward. Pretty cool.

And the sunscreen? Well being baptized was protection from satan. Since none of us can be expected to be perfect in these imperfect sinning bodies, just rub a little Jesus on and instantly gain protection from the fires of hell. Play hard and long, just be sure to slather down in the blood of Christ first. Superficial, removed and uncertain. These words describe my realtionship with God growing up.

It used to bother me that Jesus wanted us to be like little children because I truly don’t remember loving Jesus as a child. I loved church. I appreciated Him. I respected Him. I believed in Him. Thanks to an over zealous study on hell at 4th grade church camp, I truly feared Him...but love? I remember praying a desperate prayer for years, at ages I am too ashamed to admit, for God to help me love Him.

I was waiting for something that felt like a real relationship to develop between me and my God. And somehow, it did. Baby steps. Godly role models, seeking Him, talking with Him, seeing truth in His Word, learning to trust and depend on Him, His faithfulness despite my lack of faith, these things slowly wooed me into a growing relationship with him.

Maybe I still pray that prayer a times but in the context of knowing him better and loving Him more. My mother says love will come when invited. I guess she is right. It’s the desire to love that we need to plant in our children. Being a mother puts a whole new spin on trusting the Lord!

Dear Lord, I wish I could feed my children love for you. I wish I could rub them with the salve of Jesus to protect their souls. May they grow to desire you. In the meantime, thank you for these days of snowcones and sunscreen!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Sister for Sale!!!

BLOGGERS BEWARE- This is not my typical Blog! I feel like I am 9 years old again!

OK I am not trying to sale her, just trying introduce her to someone who would want to sweep her off her feet. But here goes.

Wanted: one Christian, single, non-scary, cool, fun, down to earth, guy's guy age 25-30 to fall madly in love with my sister, date appropriately, pop the question, go through pre-marital and live, well you know, like the rest of us, struggling at times in areas, but striving and joyful!

My sister graduated from ACU, she is fun, fit, and has a great personality but don't let that scare you... she was voted "most beautiful" in a graduating class of over 600. Why isn't she hooked up? Why aren't you? BECAUSE you haven't met each other yet! So come on...time's a wasting! Post a comment.

Why, you ask, have I become so blatant and verging desperate? ...let me count the ways...

1.My Mom keeps saying "I wish your sister would meet a nice young man like Rob. Introduce her to someone." (Like I have this secret guy I am with holding!)Well Rob is my husband and he is married with two children. In that sense I hope she does not meet anyone like Rob! But really, the pressure is on her and being upped a notch because I married this guy we all love. I feel sorry for her.

2.Second, it is my daughters lifelong goal to go to Disney World and to be a flower girl. The budget will not allow the trip any time soon. AND she is SIX already. Pretty soon we are talking Jr. Bridesmaid age! As a Mom I hate to see all my little girls dreams shattered.

3.I would like the hope of having cousins for my children. I would be a great aunt! I have to have someone to buy loud toys for!


So help me out here blog family...if my sister ever starts blogging or gets wind of this, you may be the only family I have! Let's get those comments a coming!!!

Dancing with God

My Mother-in-law sent this to me today as a FWD. I have seen it before, but I really liked it.
WE HAD A GREAT DAY OFF! More about that soon!

When I meditated on the word GUIDANCE, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word GUIDANCE. When I saw "G," I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i" "God, "u" and "i" dance." God, you, and I dance. This statement is what Guidance means to me. May you abide in Him as He abides in you. Dance together with God, trusting Him to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.

May He have this dance? Have a wonderful day!

Monday, July 05, 2004

A Nation of Cheaters?

OK. Somehow I feel like today we are a nation of cheaters all playing hooky. That's right we are cheating. The 4th fell on a weekend so, we cheat and take the 5th. (I'm tempted to make a Clinton joke out of that last statement but I am trying to quit.) Of course we could just say we are taking the President's Birthday off, but 49.598% of us might be offended by that! So we're all off for the 5th of July...

Never look a gift horse in the mouth! Happy Birthday W! We are all taking the day off!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

God bless the USA!

Here is a little history in honor of the day!

The Independence holiday was first observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence had it's first public reading in Independence Square. Twice that day the Declaration was read to cheering crowds and pealing church bells. Even the "Province Bell" in Independence Hall was rung, which would later be renamed "Liberty Bell." People celebrated with fireworks, gunshots, and with candles which they lit and placed in their windows.

The official first Independence Day celebration took place the following year - July 4, 1777, one year to the day after the first Continental Congress ratified The Declaration of Independence. It was declared a legal holiday in 1941.

You don't hear of war protestors in 1776, we wre of course just 13 banded colonies not the United States. The UNITED States... Sometimes I wonder if our nation will ever truly be united again. Even after September 11th there were those Americans who sided with the terrorist. And then there is the question of our allegiance as Christians.

Mike Cope recently wrote on his blog ...when you become a Christian in a "sense, you become a "problem" to your country because you are no longer identified primarily as a citizen of that nation. You are an alien and stranger, whose citizenship is in heaven. You have come to see God's mission for the whole world--not just for the country you happen to live in."

My friend Brandon Thomas has mentioned Tony Compollo's asking "Who did Jesus typically side with, the rich--or the oppressed?" in reference to our nation and other nations in the world. I don't think Mike or Brandon are advocating being anti-American. I think that these are times when many question our nation...and rightly so.

Having lived briefly in another nation, I am a big fan of the United States. I love this country for the principles on which it was founded. Never was I more proud of my country than in the days that followed the last election.(You know that whole hanging chad thing.) There were no riots in the streets. There were no shootouts or outbreaks of mass violence. How many other nations would have handled the situation so calmly? I believe in America.

But I also believe that this world is not my home. Long before these United States existed, and dare I say long after the USA is gone, the Kingdom Of God will reign. My citizenship to that eternal Kingdom is far more precious. For me though, that does not mean that I can not appreciate my US citizenship. I think it would be wrong to ignore the sacrifice made by so many to afford me the freedom I have to worship my God openly and to voice my opinions.

So today my kids and I will light candles on a cake and sing "Happy Birthday Dear America." (Silly I know but Kolby likes it!) We will eat hot dogs, and swim, and go to sleep with the sound of exploding fireworks still ringing in our ears. As they grow I will tell them of the sacrifice and struggle American's have made for our greater good. We will celebrate America's first Independence.

Before any of that though, this morning we will go to church. We will lift our voices to praise our Father God. We will read from his words and seek his wisdom. We will pass the bread and the juice, and remember His Son and the ultimate sacrifice He made for us. As my children grow, we will teach them of a risen Savior, an omnipotent God, and an eternal Kingdom to which we belong. And as we do every week, we will reaffirm our utter DEPENDENCE on him, we will celebrate our eternal dependence!

Thank you God for my life! Thank you for this country. I pray you continue to bless the United States. Help us remember to those whom much is given, much is expected. Grant us the peace and wisdom to keep that charge! Our only real home is in you! Thank you!

Happy Birthday Dear America!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Are we there yet?

I was reading Mike Cope's blog this morning. In reference to my home congregation, Crestview church of Christ, I wonder "are we there yet?" I don't think so, but I have hope...

My youngest cousin returns from Spain on Tuesday. I am so proud of her for venturing out of her comfort zone to see the world. Part of me is a little envious of her travels and her freedom. I have to remind myself that when I was young and single, I would have instantly traded with someone who had an incredible husband, two great kids, and a 4/3 house across the street from grandparents! Life is good at all stages with the right perspective. Again, are we there yet? I'm getting there, I hope!

Lord, thank you for the challenges you balance with blessings at all the different stages of my life, faith, and even my worship! Please empower me to honor and proclaim You in all these, always!

Friday, July 02, 2004

This is a test

Today in Hewitt, Texas we had a test of the outdoor emergency siren system. The freaky part of this monthly drill is that at the beginning and end of the test there is this deep voiced man saying that this is only a test. Whether you are in your house, driving down the road, or strolling into the IGA, you hear this mans voice booming through the streets. I had never heard a persons voice on this kind of system until we moved here.
Today the test caught me and the kids in the back yard. There wasn't a threatening cloud in the sky but Rhett(2, almost 3)put his hands on his ears and started running towards the house screaming "Mama hurry! A giant tormato is coming." (This close to tornadoe ally, we know the drill, if not the right word.)
Before I could get to him, his sister(6)stopped him and said, "Didn't you listen? GOD just told us it was only a test!"

Oh to be 6 and so readily accept the voice of GOD!

What's black and white and read all over?

Yes it really is 3:40am! Last January my husband and I took a paper route. The ends were not meeting well, and we both vowed that I would stay home as long as possible with the kids. So I thought, "A paper hard can it be?" Turns out that for me, it can be really hard. Not only do you have to get up at 3:30am all 365 days of the year, it can be dangerous.

Rob has said 100 times, "Honey, you were not made for this type thing." I'm not sure what he means. Doesn't everyone get carsick and have to stop three or four times to puke when driving the route?
Is it my fault that the van window got in the way of my attempt to throw out the right side since I just can't hurl a Sunday paper with my left hand? (I save the hurling for other things!) And surely someone besides me has accidentally tipped a cart and dumped 150 rolled and wrapped papers into a giant pothole full of muddy water in the rain? Or taken out one of those garden gazing balls with a paper that got away? I know I am not the first to accidentally throw a paper on a roof...2 houses in a row! (Could that really be a world record like Rob says?) And if you park in the street, directly in front of your house number, someone throwing a paper might be straining to see if you're the one who gets the Wall Street Journal and accidentally run in your car...just warning you!

Well, Rob won't let me go by myself anymore. Sometimes I think he tries to sneak out without waking me...probably just wants to let me sleep! He is the greatest guy ever.
So he just left to get the papers. He'll bring them back and we will bag and roll. Maybe he will let me throw them...probably not. Until then I am blog surfing and thinking that we should all appreciate the newspaper people more. It's a dangerous job!