Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A vulnerable need. A bold prayer.

There is only one thing harder than being patient.  Being vulnerable.  Well, that and being willing to fail.  I'm learning that these are the top three job requirements for missionaries.  Nobody told me that two years ago when I gave my heart over to this vision.  Now I know.  Three qualifications I don't have.  I'm not cut out for this job.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.   -James 1:2-4 

These past two years have been an intense lesson in the purpose of waiting.  Waiting produces growth that is watered by time.  Nurtured by the Spirit.  Pruned by the Word.  Waiting produces a steadfast faith.  Perfect and complete.  And in all this waiting, my soul finds purpose.  Fulfillment.  Passion.  Courage.  Hope.  Confidence.  Rest.  Life.  Joy.  Reckless abandon to the will of my Creator.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ.   -Colossians 4:2-4

It's time for me to be something more than patient.  It's time to be vulnerable.  Time to express my need.  Time to leap with faith.

Currently, I have 30% of my monthly support.  I lack $2,500 a month.  I am asking for 50 pledges of $50 a month, $600 a year, for 3 years.  I am asking for individuals, small groups, and churches to partner with me in this vision for Dublin.  Share in this journey.  Join this work.  Your support provides a door for the word, that the mystery of Christ may be declared in Ireland!  

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   -Philippians 5:4-7

Jevovah Jireh.  Our God the Provider.  Your dreams are greater than our own.  You are faithful and generous in your provision.  I wait with excited anticipation.  I wait with faith-filled expectation.  You are at hand!  I ask all these things believing they have already been accomplished, in accordance with your will.  Amen.

Thank you for joining me in this prayer!  If you would like to share in this vision financially, I ask that you respond by January 31.  Hope your holiday season has been full of joy.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Counting sheep never works.

I can't sleep.  Dakota is snoring and twitching.  She must be chasing rabbits in a field of dreams (get it... field of dreams?).  Apparently she hasn't caught any yet.  Though Dakota is being quite obnoxious, I can't blame my sleepless-late-night-woes on her.  Wish I could.  Sometimes my mind gets stuck on things.  Then it refuses to do anything else... like sleep.  Tonight it's a song.  Playing over.  And over.  And over.  There's only one thing I can do.  Let it play itself out.  Listen for yourself or just keep reading.

The lyrics:
I can't find the words to pray.  I'm a little down today.  Can you help me?  Can you hold me?  I feel a million miles away, and I don't know what to say.  Can you hear me, anyway?

Lord move in a way that I've never seen before.  'Cuz there's a mountain in the way, and a lock on the door.  I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore.  So Lord move, or move me.

I've looked everywhere to find a simple peace of mind.  I can't find nothing on my own.  So I gotta leave myself behind, take up this cross of mine, give away everything I hold on to.

Lord I know, the only way is through this.  Lord I know, I need you to help me do this.

Lord move in a way that I've never seen before.  'Cuz there's a mountain in the way, and a lock on the door.  I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore.  So Lord move, or move me.

Mountains I can't climb.  Doors I can't open.  The way to Dublin seems impossible.  Lord, move.  Or move me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just your average rhino.

I just finished an awesome book.  The Barbarian Way, by Erwin Raphael McManus.  I don't typically like non-fiction.  In fact, I usually get bored around page 5 and call it quits.  Not this time.  I'll admit it took me a while, but I read every page.  Erwin said lots of things that resonated deeply, but my favorite part came 5 pages from the end.  Let me paraphrase.

Rhinoceroses can run 30 miles per hour!  Erwin points out that squirrels run up to 26 mph.  I'll add that the average male rhino weighs 4,500 pounds (my VW Beetle only weighs 3,656 pounds.  I looked it up).  The average squirrel weighs less than 2 pounds.  Fascinating, right?  One problem.  Rhinos have terrible eyesight.  They can only see 30 feet in front of them.  Erwin puts it this way:

"Can you imagine something that large plowing ahead at 30 mph with no idea what's at 31 feet?  You would think that they would be far too timid to pick up full steam, that their inability to see far enough ahead would paralyze them to immobility. But with that horn pointing the way, rhinos run forward full steam ahead with no apprehension..."

Those 3 sentences hit me like a ton of bricks (or should I say, "like a speeding rhino"?)  The dust settled.  The image sunk in.  One thought was left standing.  I'm a rhino.  My eyesight is terrible.  I have no idea what the future holds.  But it's time to start running.  Full-speed ahead.  With the horn of Truth pointing the way.  With the weight of Almighty God behind me.  A big, fat, unstoppable force for His Kingdom!

I'm preparing to send out new support letters this week.  I'm looking for 50 pledges of $50 a month.  Small potatoes from the Great Provider.  Join me in prayer as I plow forward.  Bad eyesight.  Full steam.  No apprehension.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dear God. Amen.

I tried to pray about Ireland today.  Let me rephrase.  I pray for Ireland without ceasing.  In the back of my mind.  In the deep of my heart.  Today I tried to bring it all to the front.  To the surface.  Wrap it up in words and send it heavenward, officially.  But my heart had no words.  What to pray?  For another date?  For another sign?  For another dose of patience?  My heart was screaming one thought, How much longer?!?!?!?!  So I prayed for silence.  I prayed for the peace of God to drown out the scream.  And then I searched my heart.  This is what I found.

Complete adoration for Him.  Thankfulness for the vision before me.  Frustration with this season of waiting.  Anticipation of moving forward.  Fear that the moving will never happen.  Peace that He is in control.  Longing to go.  Guilt that I'm not doing enough.  Pressure to do more.  Sadness to leave my home.  My family.  My friends.  Excitement for impending adventure. 

Encouragement in His Word.  Affirmation through the actions of His faithful believers.  Comfort in His promises.  Assurance in His confirmation.  Fulfillment in His Spirit.  Bewilderment that He would choose me.  Ashamed by my inadequacy.  Grateful that His grace makes up the difference.  Desire to know His heart.  Hear His voice.  See His hand.  Allegiance to His Kingdom.  Willingness to do whatever it takes.  Doubt that I'll succeed.  Relief that my success isn't the point.   

Uncertainty.  Hesitation.  Hope.  Confidence.  Expectation.  Eagerness.  Restlessness.  Impatience.  A million conflicting emotions.  Drowned out by the heart of God.  Be still.  Know.  I am. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bad things happen to the best of us.

November 23 was my birthday!  I turned 4.  Do I look older?  I think I look older.  And wiser.  And really annoyed that Jo made me pose with this stupid hat on my head.  I tried not to cooperate.  But it can be hard to take a bad picture with a face like this.  Jo is really lucky.  Enough about my good looks, I've got better stories to tell.

Remember that scorpion fiasco I told you about here?  I didn't think things could get much worse.  They can.  Last Tuesday, on my birthday of all days, Jo and Jes took me on a drive.  I was so excited!  We drove a long time.  Somewhere new.  Jo got lost, I guess, she kept having to turn around.  I could hardly control myself.  Where are we going?!?!?!?!  I got so overwhelmed at one point, that I accidently jumped on Jes and scratched her neck.  Sorry Jes, I really didn't mean to do that.  Anyway, if I'd have known where I was going and what was going to happen there, I wouldn't have been so happy.

We pulled up a long gravel drive.  The sign on the road said "Doggie Kamp".  (I thought it was kind of stupid that they spelled "camp" with a "K", but whatever.)  All that really mattered was that I was coming here to play!  There was a huge field with lots of dogs.  I started going crazy.  Jo started yelling.  She does that sometimes.  Finally, I was out of the car and walking up to the gate.  There was a big yard with lots more dogs.  Too many dogs for one yard.  Before I knew what was happening, an old lady had taken me from Jo and shoved me into the yard.  Jo gave her something and she left to make a copy.  Too-Many-Dogs came up to me at once.  I had no where to go.  Jo couldn't come in.  I couldn't get out.  Jo looked worried.  But then I remembered I was big.  I broke away from Too-Many-Dogs and started to sniff around the yard.  I came back up to the fence and gave Jo a final "goodbye, I'll be fine, have a good Thanksgiving" glance to let her know that she didn't need to look so worried.  She left.  I was wrong.  She was right to worry.

Sometime in the four days I was at Doggie Kamp, I think it may have been near the last day, I got bit!  I'm not really sure what happened.  Probably I was playing like usual.  But it's hard to play with Too-Many-Dogs.  Sometimes things get out of control.  Sometimes good dogs get bit.  That's what happened to me. Right on the butt.  

Jo was not very happy with the old lady when she came to pick me up.  We left in a hurry.  I was tired and sore and limping a bit, but mostly I was just happy to be going home.  Over the next few days, my bite didn't get any better.  So this morning, Jo took me to the vet.  We waited for over 2 hours until it was our turn.  They said my bite was really deep.  They said it would need a staple.  Jo said she should probably wait outside.  She's such a wimp.  I'll admit, I was a little nervous myself.

It wasn't so bad.  I got three staples.  The worst part is that they shaved a funny looking circle on my butt.  Now I feel stupid.  At least there's a good chance I'll end up with a really gnarly scar.  That would make me older, wiser, braver... and a whole lot cooler!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A river and a promise.

About a month ago, I went to Arkansas with a group of guys from Missions Resource Network to help facilitate some small-group Bible study at World Mission Workshop.  Harding was hosting the workshop out at Camp Takodah.  During one of our breaks, Lanny (an MRN guy) walked down to check out the river, which had been dammed up to create a swimming area for campers.  When he came back, he shared the following revelation with me:

Life is like a river.  Sometimes it moves so slowly that you can't tell it's moving at all, unless you can watch a leaf or a twig swirling lazily across the top.  You know the currents are flowing, under the surface, but the river doesn't seem to be in any hurry.  Once the water gets past the dam, when the force of the river is released, it's rushing movement is powerful, unmistakable, unstoppable.  The change can happen in an instant, without warning.  And once it does, there's no going back, no slowing down, until the river changes again.

Lanny was trying to bring me some encouragement.  He was telling me to enjoy the slow pace of my river, that quicker water is ahead, and it will be exhausting and dangerous and have me wishing again for something slower.  Enjoy the slow water?  I rolled the eyes of my heart.  Slow water is boring.  I like the fast river.  The white water.  The adventure.  The rush of danger.  I nodded my head, thanked him for the insight, and quickly dismissed it.

A couple weeks later, during a week of fasting and prayer with my team, I got an email from Craig.  It was three sentences long.

"We stopped to pray for you.  As I was praying for God to fill you with his peace, something told me to take this video for you.  We love you!"

Here is the video he sent.

I watched it five times.  I stared at the screen.  Lanny's words of encouragement and Craig's prayer for peace collided.  Life is like a river.  I let the thought sink into my soul, and with it, a promise was whispered.  The promise of change.  The promise of a rushing river.  The promise of white water.  It can happen in an instant, without warning.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Sometimes the "same old, same old" doesn't seem too exciting... hence a 3 week blogging hiatus.  But there have been snippets of interesting mingled in with the mundane.  Figured it was time to share a few.

I've been quilting... a lot. 

I made the best chicken tortilla soup ever.  Twice.

One day last week, it rained and rained and rained.  Dakota was being extremely obnoxious because she wanted to go outside and play fetch.  So we learned how to play Hide and Seek.  I hide her ball.  She goes and seeks it.  She thought it was really fun.

I played Freeze Tag with my 8 and under swim team in the water.  They went nuts.

Had to get the timing belt on my car replaced. 

I got addicted to baseball this summer.  But now baseball season is over.  I'm so depressed about it that I've resorted to listening to MLB radio on XM.

Blah.  Blah.  Blah.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The love affair continues.

A few months ago, when the team was visiting Dublin, Denise made this awesome peanut butter pie from this recipe.  I've had a craving ever since.  For fear of losing all self-control and being poisoned by copious amounts of pie, I haven't allowed myself to give in to the temptation of making such a pie again. 

Today, however, I was left with no other choice.

We have new neighbors.  They're really cool, and Angie can cook really good.  Last week, she brought us some sort of chicken-and-rice-amazing-stew-perfection.  We had the dish devoured and cleaned in a matter of hours.  Then a dilemma slapped us in the face.What could we make in return?  We couldn't send the dish empty, but Angie had set the bar so high.  What chance did we have of ever measuring up?

Then the answer came.  It was obvious, really.  Peanut butter pie!  I made a different recipe to compare against Denise's... 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 8 oz light cream cheese, 8 oz cool whip free.  Of course, I had to make two pies.  One to taste.  One to send.  You know, to make sure it was good enough to pass along.  Daddy didn't seem too upset about the taste test.  The verdict?  Yum. Eeeeee.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why don't you try this fleece on for size?

Gideon says, "Ok God, I know you said you'd save Isreal through me and all, but could you prove you meant what you said?  I'm gonna lay this fleece out for you all night.  In the morning, if there is dew on the fleece and nothing else, then I'll believe you really mean to do what you said you'd do.  Sound good?"  God does it!  Gideon gets up the next morning to find a soaking wet fleece on completely dry ground.  So Gideon looks toward heaven and says, "Listen God, that was really cool... and I don't want to make you mad or anything, but can I ask you for just one more favor?  Would you mind mixing things up, you know, just so I can be absolutely sure?  This time, can you keep the fleece dry and make the ground wet?  That'd be really great."  God does it... again.  Dry fleece.  Wet ground.  Gideon defeats Midian.  Isreal is saved.  God is faithful.

I laid out my own fleece-of-sorts a few days ago.  In all honesty, I didn't expect God to respond to my flagrant ridiculousness.  But He did.  And though I was impressed, it was hard for me to accept that He'd done it on purpose.  Stupid, I know.  And like Gideon, I wanted to be sure.

Tonight, my fleece got all mixed up.  Same fleece.  Opposite results.  I didn't ask for it this time.  Still, it's a strange thing, when your fleece shows up twice.  My only response is to sit here with my jaw on the table, gaping at the fleece laying before me, and let Truth sink in... God is faithful!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hey, God! Wanna play some ball?

I've never experienced signs and wonders.  Don't get me wrong, I've seen evidence of God working in my life, felt peace that passes understanding, witnessed love that pulses through a community of believers.  But no visions.  No voices.  No dreams or premonitions.  Until now.

About a month ago, I started praying that God would reveal a piece of His provision by November 1st.  A sending church, a departure date, something specific to affirm this path I'm traveling.  A month ago, it was an easy prayer.  Plenty of time for my big God to do big things.  Now my palms are starting to sweat.  Is God going to hold up His end of this deal I tossed before Him?  What if He doesn't?  What then?  Do I renegotiate?  Do I add more time?  Do I remain committed? 

These were among the multitude of questions and doubts muddying my thoughts Friday night.  I was with Missions Resource Network at World Mission Workshop in rural Arkansas, trying to listen to the evening's keynote speaker.  Finally, I bowed my head in surrender to the battle raging within.  I tried to focus the chaos into some sort of coherent prayer, a desperate plea for Dublin, Provision, and November 1st.

A thought entered.  The Rangers are playing the Yankees tonight.  Another attempt to focus on prayer.  God, are you listening?  Give me a sign.  Let the Rangers win.  My audacity is laughable.  Numbers start flying into my head.  Four to one, no, three to one, five to three, no, seven to two.  Yeah, God, seven to two.  Let the Rangers beat the Yankees seven to two.  What?  Now I'm negotiating playoff scores with my Creator?  I shake it off and move on.

We didn't have cell reception at Camp Tahkodah, so after the keynote, we jump in the van and head for Sonic.  Someone pulls out a phone.  Rangers are up five to nothing, top of the 7th inning!  Hey, maybe God's gonna play along with my ridiculous proposal.  Fifteen minutes later, the Yankees come back, now they're up six to five.  Guess God doesn't want to play ball.  That's what I figured.

Saturday.  The workshop's winding down.  We load up and hit the road.  Phones come out.  Game Two, 6th inning, Rangers-seven, Yankees-two.  Excuse me?!?  What was that score again?  Seven to two?  Sure enough.  A sudden rush of excitement sends a shiver down my spine.  But the game's not over yet, there's still plenty of baseball to be played.  Chill out.

We stop to eat.  The game goes on, innings pass... Top of the 9th.  Three more outs.  One.  Is this for real?  Two.  Seriously, God, are you messing with me?  Three.  Seven to two!  What just happened?!?!?!?!  My thoughts are frozen.  My mind is completely blown.

My first reaction?  Coincidence.  OK, God, that was cool and all, but could you do it one more time?  Just so I can be sure.  Can we test the fleece one more time?  But I can't dismiss this so easily.  There are two things I know:  One... God played along on His time, not mine.  The score was dead-on, the night was all wrong.  He made me wait.  Two... my request was bold, specific, and totally absurd.  Still, God heard it, responded, and now I pray for November 1st with a spirit of renewed confidence.  Let's play ball!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I guess having a brother isn't so terrible.

The day I've been dreading for 8 months has come and gone.  It was inevitable.  I spent October 9th in sack cloth and ashes.  My sister spent October 9th in a wedding dress.  She was radiant.  The ceremony was beautiful.  The dreadful day turned out to be quite perfect.
Jes had asked Amy to do a reading of some kind, so I volunteered to sing a verse or two of "Defying Gravity."  My offer was declined.  Since I wouldn't get the opportunity to bless Jes and Rob with my gift of song, I settled on writing a short passage to be read before they blended their "unity sand". 

Here it is.

 For centuries, sand was used to mark the passage of time, "As sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives," and so goes the melodrama.  Today, Rob and Jes choose to pour their history and their future together.  In this moment, with this sand, they choose to move through time as one.

Sand is ever-changing.  Its destiny is found on the whims of waves.  By crashing tides and peaceful currents, sand is carried from one day to the next.  Such is marriage.  Rob and Jes will rest in quiet rivers, they will be ravaged by angry seas, and no two days will ever be the same.

Finally, sand is used as both a filter, to purify, and a mortar, to bond.  Jes and Rob's commitment to each other is personified in this sand.  It is the filter purifying their love and the mortar bonding them together.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Big obstacles, both hurdled and yet to come...

I've been quilting now for about a year and a half.  I counted the other day.  Nineteen completed.  Two that are close.  Eight in queue.   That's about one quilt a month if you just look at the numbers.  But there's something you should know:

I started my fourth quilt for my great friend, Jael Beamon Hastings, in May 2009.  It was a beast of a quilt.  Queen size.  Log cabin.  Lots of cutting, piecing, ironing, and frustration.  I worked on it through the end of July (three months) before I set it aside and moved on.  I finally finished all the blocks and pieced the top in about October.  But I didn't like it.  So I got rid of some blocks and added a border (one week).  I couldn't bring myself to quilt it quite yet, so it sat in the closet for another long while.  I tackled that task this May (another week).  But I still couldn't make myself work on it long enough to get it all finished.  This time, it chilled out in a laundry basket with some beach towels before I finally got the guts to sew on the border (one day) and count this egg as hatched.  I don't know if you've been doing the math, but that's a grand total of three and a half months out of the last eighteen that were consumed by this blasted quilt!  With that in mind, my quilts per month average goes up significantly.

I gave Jael Beamon Hastings her finished quilt when I passed through Little Rock last weekend.  I don't know who was more excited: me, to finally be rid of it, or Jael, to finally get her hands on it.  Either way, seeing it laying awesomely on Jael's bed made it worth every stitch of frustration.

Another obstacle was hurdled on my Arkansas trip.  My little VW Bug reached 100,000 miles!  It happened on my way home, at about midnight.  I spent the next few minutes driving in the dark and reminiscing about all the roads we had traveled together (corny moments demand corny sentiments... forgive me).

Four of us, along with all of our luggage, crammed inside for eighteen hours round-trip on the way to Atlanta for Natalie's wedding.  The passenger side mirror getting knocked off by a falling kayaking, then jimmy-rigged back on with lots of duct tape.  Losing my keys in the lake... twice.  The second time, I went back the next morning and found them.  The keyless entry still worked.  Miraculously.  Another time, I was real close to losing three kayaks on Highway 30 when my roof rack came loose.  It was a huge fiasco.

I'll be getting rid of my car when I make the Big Move.  I'll miss it.

Jes and Rob's wedding is one week from today.  In seven days, they will say "I do" and life will change forever.  In less than 165 hours, my middle sister will change her last name to Mason.  That's one big obstacle!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just for a season...

This summer felt hotter and longer and more unbearable than summers past.  I could blame global warming for my increased heat exhaustion, but that wouldn't really be fair to nature.  All summer I kept thinking, it's only 65 degrees in Dublin today.  The heat was taunting me.  It was a physical manifestation of the climate of my soul: oppressive, scorching heat that left me dried out, weary, and in desperate need of some rain.

When it's over 95 degrees for two months straight, cooler weather seems impossible.  You begin to doubt that cooler days ever even occurred.  The heat lays waste to everything.  Grass dies.  Flowers wilt.  Lakes evaporate.  Even the asphalt seems to melt.  Waiting for God's timing can have the same affect.  Doubt creeps in.  Frustration rises up.  And slowly things begin to die.  Ambition withers.  Pride burns.  Selfishness dries and cracks.

And then, like every time before, the season changes.

It happened this weekend.  I was driving to Arkansas in the hopes of opening some doors for Dublin.  I was tired of the heat and tired of the waiting, wondering if it would ever end.  It had been 100 degrees a few days earlier.  Not on Saturday.  Saturday was only 75 degrees, cool and refreshing.  The temperature spawned a dangerous thought, maybe summer is almost over, maybe the end is in sight.  But is it here to stay?  Will the relief last, or is the weather teasing?

And what about the waiting?  Will it go out with the heat?

I had a coffee meeting with a preacher friend of mine in Little Rock.  I was encouraged by his enthusiasm for our vision and his urgency to explore the possibility of a partnership between our team and his church.  On October 10th I will be presenting myself, the team, and the work in Dublin to a larger gathering of the church family.  Another dangerous thought, maybe the waiting is almost over, maybe the end is in sight.

I am trying to remain cautiously optimistic about October 10th.  I don't want to set myself up for another disappointing let down.  Instead, I am delighting in this changing of the seasons.  I am delighting in the cooler weather, in the encouragement of a friend, and in the opportunity to share this work that God is refining within me.  I am finding peace in the assurance that God's provision is not mine to achieve, it is His to bestow.  And when I take God out of this limiting realm of time, and see Him in His eternity, I realize that I have already been given everything that has been promised.  So I will rest in the waiting.  It's only a season.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Root, root, root for the home team...!!!

Mooly said, "Take me out to the ballgame!"  So we did.  The Rangers were playing the Yankees, Mooly's second favorite team in the American league (her two favorite baseball boyfriends, Derek Jeter and A-Rod, play for the Yankees).  PLUS they were having fireworks after the game.  Who can say no to that?  Not us.

Mooly got us tickets behind right field, way down there...
At first, they seemed like great seats.  We could see all the players, and there was a good chance we'd get some home runs hit our way (even though I think the girl sitting in front of me, the one who brought her baseball mitt, would probably have knocked me out if one had come our way).  But let me tell you, it was HOT!  Too hot to handle.  

So, after the 3rd inning, we moved.  Way up here.  So much better!  We could feel the breeze outside the stadium.  We could see the entire field.  The only downside was that it was impossible to tell if a ball hit our direction was a home run or a caught fly, but the crowd usually gave us an answer pretty fast.

Mooly spent most of the game looking through her binoculars.  Once, I asked her a question about how a particular pitch looked up close, she said, "Oh, I wasn't paying attention.  I was watching A-Rod."  I'm pretty sure that's when Daddy gave her this look.

We did our very best to be good fans.  Mooly bought CrackerJacks.  I had a pretzel.  We yelled, "CHARGE!"  We did the wave.  We boo-ed.  We woo-hoo-ed.  Then the 9th inning came and went.  Tie game.  We stayed.  10th inning.  We stayed.  11th inning.  It was past midnight.  I had to get up early the next morning to go to a Red Cross Coach's certification.  So we left.

We did listen to the game in the car on the way home though.  In the bottom of the 13th inning, Nelson Cruz, the first batter up, hammered the first pitch he saw over the fence.  Walk off home run to win the game!  We woo-hoo-ed in the car.

I was very, very tired the next morning and I did NOT want to get up and go to my class.  But I did.  The teacher never even showed up.  And so it goes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


So I haven't posted in a while because nothing blog worthy has really happened recently.  Well, except for Amy being home for a few minutes in between camp and school, but all we did was go to Starbucks twice a day.  It's a good thing she wasn't here longer, I was going broke.  I'm ready for her to come back.

Craig and Merschon moved to Dublin yesterday!  The good thing about them going ahead of me: they took their two cats, so they can tell me everything I need to know about traveling with a pet.  (Even though I'm sure there's a slight difference between two regular-sized cats and one monster-sized dog)  The bad thing about them going ahead of me: I'm still here.  They did promise, however, not to have any fun until I get there too.  I'm sure that will last about as long as their jet-lag.  How can you avoid having fun in Dublin?

So, I'm trying to stay busy while I wait (mostly-patiently) for God's provision.  Today I decided to make labels so I can "sign" my quilts.  I don't know why I didn't do this sooner.  I think they look really cool.  Toot!Toot! (That was me, tooting my own horn).

Today was the best day of the entire summer... it was only 85 degrees outside!!!  I'd forgotten what cold weather feels like.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In memory of things once chewed.

When I brought Dakota home, she was 5 weeks old and somewhere around 10 pounds.  Now she is almost 4 years old and pushing 100 pounds!  Our first 2 and 1/2 years were rough.  Dakota was mostly "South" and the only way to wear her out enough to sleep at night was to go kayaking at the lake or play fetch on the tennis courts for hours.  Things have changed.  She's getting older and bigger and wiser and "North-er".  Occasionally, I take all this "North Dakota" behavior for granted, I start thinking that all the "South Dakota" days are behind us.  That's when South Dakota sneaks back in to rip a limb off a tree in the backyard or waits patiently for me to walk away for 2 seconds so she can discreetly devour my blueberry muffin.  That's right, this morning, South Dakota stole my muffin right out of it's little bowl on the arm of the couch!  (I'm not quite sure how she got the muffin with out breaking the bowl, but that's neither here nor there.)

Dakota loved Gator when she was a puppy.  She slept with Gator.  She played with Gator.  She carried Gator everywhere. Then one day, alone in her crate while I was at work, she ate Gator.  By the time I got home, all that was left of poor Gator where his beady little eyes.  Gator was the first to fall victim to Dakota's mighty jaw and, sadly, he wasn't the last...

Some of the things Dakota chews are acceptable, albeit slightly odd: Big bones.  Grass.  Snowballs.  Ice cubes.  Crickets.  Firewood.  Avocado seeds.  Apple cores.  Carrots.  Lake algae.  Her paws.  Empty peanut butter jars.
But most of the things Dakota finds to destroy are NOT acceptable: Stuffed animals, her bed, pillows, old couches... anything with stuffing.  Toilet paper, books, magazines... anything she can rip to shreds.  Ink pens, batteries, vacuum cords... anything toxic.  Underwear, poop, trash... anything gross.  Bobby pins, paper clips, razors... anything small and sharp that could make her choke and die.  Money, picture frames, my leather journal... anything valuable.  And the list goes on.

There are a few things Dakota doesn't show much interest in chewing.  Surprisingly, she's never destroyed any of my shoes.  She likes to pick them up and carry them around, but they're still all in one piece.  And she didn't chew on Garrett when I had to put him in a box (because my apartment was too dangerous for a curious baby, not because I'm cruel).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Look out Amy, here we come!

This weekend we drove all the way across Texas to visit Amy at Camp BlueHaven in New Mexico.  The drive was so long that I read three whole books... well, I had already started two of them, so it was more like two three-quarter books and one whole book.  No matter which way you add it, you still come up with a long time in the car!  I should also mention that Jes had to stay in Dallas and work, so she was only able to be with us photographically.

Amy was soooo happy to see us!!!  And I'll admit that we were kinda happy to see her, too.  She's been a counselor at camp for six weeks, so she had lots of stories to tell.  And trust me, she told as many as she could!

The first day, we made bar-b-que meatballs and corn.  Then Amy took us on a tour of camp.  A couple of counselors are getting married at camp at the end of the summer, so they built a new bridge across the stream.  Mooly and Daddy had to test out the bridge to make sure it was suitable for a wedding.  They approved.

Saturday morning, while the parents were still sleeping, Amos took me and Jes to her favorite spot at camp.  We hiked about 15 minutes before we came to a big clearing.  Mountains surrounded the clearing on all sides, and it was the quietest place I've been in a long time... we didn't even hear any birds.  After the 'rents got up and ready, we went to Santa Fe to get Amos some moccasins.  It was VERY hot and we had to walk around almost the WHOLE city, but we finally found some moccasins she liked.  Jes said they were really awesome, so Amy decided to get them.

Sunday morning, we went to church and ate lunch at camp.  We gave Amy one last hug and got back in the car for the long trip home.  Luckily, we stopped to spend the night in Lubbock with grandparents and cousins.

I know you're all wondering what Dakota did while we were gone.  Don't worry!  She stayed at "Bark! Boutique Hotel for Dogs" for five nights.  She played and swam and played some more.  She even got a bath and "pawdicure" (I didn't make that up... that's really what they call it).  They must've worn her out good, she's been sleeping for the past three days!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Relationship: A two-way street of verbs.

"I am a verb. I am that I am.  I will be who I will be.  I am a verb!  I am alive, dynamic, ever active, and moving.  I am a being verb... and as my very essence is a verb." --The Shack

God's side of the street: 

Creating, loving, knowing, promising, fulfilling, providing, revealing, residing, living, consuming, unyielding, guiding, showing, listening, speaking, understanding, illuminating, alleviating, rescuing, working, watching, reaching, chasing,teaching, pursuing, communing, connecting, orchestrating, penetrating,  interceding.

Healing, redeeming, sustaining, sanctifying, purifying, cleansing, renewing, refining, reconciling, forgiving, incarnating, sacrificing, resurrecting, completing, restoring, filling, overflowing, protecting, freeing, redefining, satisfying, encouraging, uplifting, shielding, strengthening, preparing, sharpening, disciplining, blessing, investing, equipping, sending, leading.

My side of the street:
Believing, trusting, loving, accepting, choosing, seeking, following, communing, waiting, returning, resting, submitting, releasing, receiving, leaning, searching, knocking, asking, enjoying, relying, surrendering, hoping, anticipating, living, self-denying, reciprocating, absorbing, reflecting.

Praying, worshiping, rejoicing, imitating, sharing, confessing, repenting, growing, reading, learning, changing, deepening, listening, hearing, responding, relating, singing, kneeling, falling, soaring, going, telling, obeying, fruit-bearing, testifying, glorifying, magnifying, doing, devoting, planting, watering.

FYI: I didn't want to read The Shack.  My Daddy made me do it.  I'm so glad I did.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A not-so-subtle weekend.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an afternoon meeting with a missions committee at a church in Dallas.  That same morning, the sermon was on "Jehovah Jireh... God the Provider".

This past Sunday, I had another meeting at a church in Russellville, AR.  The church had spent the last few weeks studying the Lord's Prayer.  This week, the message was about "Give us this day our daily bread."

Two meetings asking churches for money, two sermons on God's faithfulness as our Provider.  So God, what exactly are you trying to tell me here?

For lunch on Sunday, Jael and Cole drove up from Little Rock to meet Mary and me for pizza buffet at the BEST pizza buffet EVER... Razorback Pizza.  My mouth was watering all through church in anticipation of lunch.  All I can say is that it's a good thing I don't live close to Russellville because I'd be eating pizza buffet at least 3 times a week.  My mouth is watering again just thinking about it...

Then we went to Starbucks to kill some time before I had to be back at the church and before Jael and Cole had to go back home.

The time with my friends was much needed, but I will say that drinking coffee before a presentation may not have been the best idea... Caffeine plus anxious nerves plus an overly-expressive personality equals one heart pounding-fast talking-arm flailing-perspiration inducing-did you catch anything I just said? kind of presentation.

On another note: I took Dakota to the vet today for her shots.  She weighs 95 pounds!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm not a pansy anymore.

Does this look like the face of a cold-blooded killer?  Well, tonight it did! 

Mooly was in the kitchen.  I heard her tell Dakota to get back, and then she called for me.  "What is THAT?" She was pointing at something on the floor.  I leaned in for a closer look, afraid that my suspicions would be confirmed.  They were.  "That's a scorpion," I answered. 

I couldn't believe the words that came out next, "Hold Dakota, I'll kill it this time." 

WHAT?!?!?!?!  Was I crazy?  Why couldn't I just make Mooly be the hero again?  Why did I have to prove that I wasn't scared of the scary scorpion?  These were the thoughts running franticly through my mind while I went off to put on my tennis shoes (so the scorpion's nasty tail couldn't sting the top of my foot) and find the orange birki (aka "scorpion death smasher"). 

I nervously walked back into the kitchen.  I got low to the ground, poised in my fighting stance, ready to fight the scorpion.  Mooly looked at me encouragingly, "Just do it, Jo... but not too loud."  Yeah, easy for her to say!  I raised my weapon.  My heart was racing.  SMACK!  And a miss.  SMACK! SMACK!  Another miss.  The scorpion was on the scurry.  One more time.  SMACK!!!!!!!  Dead scorpion.

According to the monitor on my watch, my heart rate had shot up to 122!  Killing a scorpion is serious business.  And since I killed it, Mooly had to clean it off the floor.  So far we remain 2 and 0 against the Scorpions.  Let's hope the winning streak continues.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hey Daddy, this blog's for you!

There are lots of reasons why I love my Daddy.  He took me on my first backpacking trip when I was nine.  It took us all day to hike in two miles before we set up camp.  The next day I decided I didn't want to pack up and hike any further, so we stayed at camp and played cards for two days before our long hike back to the car.

Around that same time, Daddy agreed to coach mine and Jes's softball team.  I know coaching a team is a normal thing for a daddy to do, but my Daddy HATES hot weather.  Being outside all summer in 95+ temperatures listening to 12 girls chanting "I said a boom-chicka-boom, I said a boom-chicka-rocka-chicka-rocka-chicka-boom" for 2 hours doesn't make the hot weather any cooler.  The situation may've been more bearable if we won.  We didn't.  We lost.  A lot.
Then there was the swim meet in El Paso.  The meet happened to fall on Father's Day that year.  We celebrated with a relay race.  Each club formed a relay team: 2 swimmers, 2 fathers.  My Daddy hates the water almost as much as he hates hot weather.  Somehow he got roped into being one of the "fathers" for our team.  It was a very brave thing for him to do.  Unfortunately, bravery doesn't make you buoyant.  He managed to flounder his way out of the deep end and into shallow water.  It wasn't pretty, but it sure was a valiant declaration of team spirit.

I could tell lots more stories about how awesome my Daddy is, like how he let me skip school one day so we could ride a motorcycle to Lubbock to eat lunch with my grandma, or how he didn't yell when I ran my mom's Volvo into the menu board in the drive-thru lane the first time I drove to church, but I don't want to brag too much.

So, let me just give you two more reasons why I love my Daddy:  One, and I can't say too much about this without spontaneously combusting into uncontrollable tears, my Daddy has always supported me... no matter what.  He supported me in sports, in school, and in my most recent decision to move thousands of miles across an ocean to Ireland.  Two, he loves my dog, even when she's mostly monster, and that's not always easy.  And oh yeah, he's pretty funny too!

Happy Daddy's Day, Daddy!  I love you!!!--MEO

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mooly v. The Scorpion: An Epic Tale of Courage and Total Annihilation

Here's the deal folks, we all know my mom, Jo, tends to slightly exaggerate the facts.  If she were telling this story, I'd come off as unnecessarily stupid and she would undoubtedly be the witty heroine.  I want you to get the REAL story, exactly as it happened, so I'm taking over and preaching the truth!

It happened the other night, during the 4th quarter of game 4 of the NBA finals.  I was laying peacefully by the couch.  Jo was petting me.  Mooly was in high spirits because Boston was winning.  Something caught my eye in the shadows of the kitchen.  I ignored it at first, but then it mysteriously scurried deeper into the darkness.  I'd never seen anything move like that before.  What was it?  Curiosity got the better of me, I got up to investigate.

I've played with my fair share of bugs during my 3 1/2 years of canine bliss.  I even tried to eat a poisonous frog one time.  But I've never seen anything as freaky as this creature.  It had a long, skinny body like a worm but feet like a bug.  The strangest part, though, was its tail.  It curved up over its back and was sharp at the tip.  Why wasn't it wagging?  Why have a tail if you're not gonna wag it?  I soon found out there are meaner things to do with a tail.

Man, this thing was quick!  It stayed one move ahead of my paw.  I faked right and the stupid thing fell for it.  I slammed my paw down quickly, pinning the creature to the floor.  I'd won!  Suddenly, a stinging pain shot through my paw and up my leg.  I looked down in horror.  That son of a bug had its tail jammed into the top of my paw.  I recoiled in pain and it scurried across the floor toward Jo and Mooly on the couch.

Jo shot up.  "Moo, I think that's a scorpion!", she yelled.  Mooly jumped up, searching for a weapon.  She handed her orange Birki to Jo, screaming, "Kill it!"  I knew I could count on Jo.  She would kill the scorpion and avenge my pain.  I watched in horror as Jo cowered on the coach.  "I can't kill it!  You do it!"  She said desperately, handing the shoe back to Mooly.  In a moment of valiant bravery, Mooly shoved Jo out of the way.  Standing on the couch, she towered over the scorpion.  SMACK!!!  She brought the birki down hard.  The first hit was a miss.  But the scorpion had no time to react before the shoe came down again.  Mooly didn't miss again.  She killed that scorpion dead.  She killed it five more times before sinking back onto the couch.

That's when I started feeling woozy.  I was holding my paw up by my chest.  It stung like fire rising up my leg.  Jo looked at me with fear in her eyes.  "I think it stung Dakota," she said.  The next few minutes were a blur.  I remember Jo looking in my eyes and at my paw.  Then she was talking to someone on the phone.  Then she and Mooly made me drink some nasty pink water called Benadryl.  The fire was cooling down.  I was getting drowsy...

The next day, I was back to normal.  My paw was healed and the drugs had worn off.  I'll be a bit more careful from now on, no more playing with things that have tails that don't wag!  The moral of the story:  Mooly was a hero and Jo was a big fat pansy!

Note: even though she missed the end of the game, Mooly was very, very happy because the Celtics beat the Lakers, tying up the series at 2 games each!  Mooly loves the playoffs!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The good race.

I ran tonight.  I hate running.  Just the thought of running makes me feel like this...

But sometimes I make myself run just to remind myself that I can.  I usually start off fairly confident.  But then I look at my watch and see that it's only been 2 minutes.  My legs are already tired.  The cramp in my side hurts when I breathe.  That's when the battle begins.  I tell myself, "Just stop running.  Walk instead.  You weren't built for this."  Tonight I didn't listen.  I welcomed the burning lungs and the heavy legs.  I kept running.  And I started praying.

I prayed for perseverance.  I prayed for stamina.  I prayed for determination.

Almost 2 years ago I met Scott and Denise and joined their race on a road bound for Dublin.  I started off confident.  But now, 2 years later,  my legs are getting tired.  My heart is heavy.  Others have joined the team.  They've passed me.  They're getting closer to the finish line.  And though I can hear them cheering me on, encouraging me to stay strong, it's hard to watch them pull further ahead.  I hate being left behind.

But it doesn't matter.  I accept the challenge to keep running.  And I will keep praying... for perseverance, for stamina, for determination.  And in the end, I, like Paul, will say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!"

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith... so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. --Hebrews 12:1-3

Friday, June 4, 2010

There's a first time for everything.

I have the best sister EVER!!!  Actually, I have the TWO best sisters ever, but one of them is hundreds of miles away playing counselor at Camp Blue Haven all summer (Hi, Amos) so that leaves me with just ONE sister for the time being.

Yesterday, Jes took me to get my very first pedicure in my entire life.  I will admit that I was a bit nervous and not entirely sure that I wanted to go, but she is always talking about how wonderful they are so I figured it couldn't be all that bad.  And let me tell you, it was most definitely all that GOOD!!!

It was a little weird at first because I didn't know any of the pedicure etiquette.  Do you shave your legs before you go?  Is it okay to laugh when they tickle your feet?  Can you keep the funny flip-flops?  Luckily, I had Jes, who is very experienced in the field of getting pedicures, to answer all my questions.

I went Plain Jane with a French tips (all the colors clashed with my Chacos).  But Jes got funky with hot pink and flowers.  Yea for pretty feet!

Today was another first.  Today was the first time Dakota joined me for a bike ride.  It was a little sketchy at first.  I was afraid she was going to run in front of my bike and make me flip over the handle bars or jerk to the side and bring me crashing down with her.  Either way, I would end up bleeding and she would end up standing there looking innocent and confused.  But no worries!  She figured things out quickly and there was no flipping, jerking, or bleeding...

We rode around the neighborhood for about 10 minutes.  By the end of our lesson she was off-leash and staying out of the way.  Not to shabby for the first time out.  She was so exhausted by the time we got back to the house that she could barely even sit with her eyes open.  She laid around panting for a solid 20 minutes, slobbering all over the floor and being very dramatic.

I think it's safe to say I've found a new way to wear the monster out!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Operation No Monster

Yesterday morning, after church, Daddy said, "Hey, let's have home group at our house!"  Uh, hello, Daddy... did you forget about a little monster named Dakota that lives at our house?  That's how Operation No Monster was born.  The objective: drive the monster out of the dog.
Jes and Rob came over to go to lunch for Jes's birthday (Happy Birthday, Rosi!), then it was time for Operation No Monster to commence.  Rob agreed to come along, so we packed a very excited Dakota into the backseat and headed for the lake.

The weather was perfect!  Surprisingly, the lake wasn't too crowded.  We found our own little beach and Dakota swam her heart out.  We also found a dead turtle with it's guts hanging out... figured I'd share...

Operation No Monster was a success!  Dakota was very well behaved at home group.  She didn't attack anyone.  North Dakota.

Here's a self-portrait of Rob and Dakota on the way home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

South Dakota plays lumberjack

When I got home from teaching Body Pump this morning, Mooly said, "Jo, come look out the office window and see what your dog did!"  The phrase "your dog" never translates to anything good.  I nervously walked over to the window, expecting the worst, and this is what I saw...

Mooly said, "You need to go outside and punish her."  What?  Mooly, are you serious?  When I went outside, Dakota got so excited!  She wanted to show off her new conquest.  She started running around the yard as fast as she could.  I looked through the window and Mooly was laughing so hard she could barely stay in her desk chair!  Obviously, Mooly was NOT being serious...

I finally commandeered Dakota's little twig... pretty sure it was almost as tall as I am.  The tree she ripped it from is right behind me.  Poor tree.