Friday, September 28, 2007

We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do!

You may recall from the earlier entry the furry hat (Q-tip hat as Mark calls it) that Dean brought home from the Middle School auction. Well this week was Spirit Week and the final day, Homecoming Friday, called for Retro Swather Day. So here you see Dean in his retro band uniform ready for school, Q-tip hat included! I'm told that he made it all the way through 1st hour before disrobing down to a Swather t-shirt and shorts. He made his entrance, but the polyester on an 85 degree day proved too much of a challenge!

Good Job God!

I remember when Grant was about Micah's age, there was a beautiful sunset as we were driving somewhere and Grant said, "Good job God!" Yesterday, as we were coming home from Grant's piano lesson, there was a beautiful sunset, Micah piped up, "Good job God! Mommy yook, good job God!" I am convinced that preschoolers are somehow wired for praise!

Today, I had classical music playing and Micah came into my bedroom to get me and said with great excitement, "Urry mommy. Urry! Big song mommy!" The song was very majestic and exciting and Micah could not contain himself. We had to dance around the room and play "rosie". When the legato portion came and the tempo slowed, we danced with him in my arms for awhile. Then Micah said, "No gato (legato), mommy. Big song!" Sure enough, a few seconds later, the a tempo resumed and this time we chased in circles.

After my experience with Grant, God showed me this verse and I have never forgotten it. PS 8:2 "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise." One of the best things about having young children is the reminder to stop and enjoy God's gifts and to praise God with no inhibitions and to say whenever the thought comes to mind, "Good job God!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


My friend Judie spoke last night at our women's group, sharing her Life Story. I love to hear Life Stories! I always learn so much and last night was no exception.

Judie is one of the most humble, spirit-filled, kind, generous people I know. You'd never guess that she started her marriage over 40 years ago (at 18!) as stubborn, strong-willed and a bit rebellious. God has done a mighty work in her and He has done it through His word. Her life changed when she determined to know and love His word more than she loved her own ideas. And what a journey it has been!

She shared several scriptures with us which I had read before but her stories of how they reshaped her life gave them new meaning to me. This entry is in hope that they will impact you the same way.

She shared how her journey with the word began with Proverbs 2:6. "For the LORD gives widsom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." As a young wife and mother she did not have the kind of wisdom and knowledge she needed in her own strength to do either well. God sent her to His word and gave her this promise that she would find everything she needed for both tasks in Him.

Her grandmother told her mother of Judie when Judie was a girl, "I think if she met a brick wall, she'd go right through it." Judie said she met her brick wall when she married her husband and she had no luck going through it. So God gave her this verse, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. HONOR one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10 She began to ask herself every day, every hour, does what I'm about to do or say HONOR my husband? This began to transform her marriage and she applied the same verse to her children and saw growth there as well.

She also found so many nuggets in Romans 12 she memorized the whole chapter which began a love for memorizing the word. (I need to read Romans 12!)

Through His word, God sent her on a quest for righteousness. He used Proverbs 21:21 to encourage her that the journey would be worth it. It says, "He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor." And Isaiah 32:17 says "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever." What great promises! I didn't ask Judie how she would define righteousness. It is so mult-faceted in my mind. It's hard to describe. I'll ask her and let you know what she says.

Little did she know how soon she would need this quietness and confidence. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and facing a mastectomy. God gave her this verse in Psalm 34:4,5,8 : "I sought the LORD and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."

When fear gripped her heart, God gave her Isaiah 40:10. "So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Judie is one of my heroes and mentors. I look to her for guidance and help. She never supplies these things in her own strength. She is a vessel that is fully consecrated to God and when I seek her out, I find a word from God. Those times when I am too overwhelmed to pray myself, when I can't see the forest for the trees, I know that if God sends me to Judie, she will pray with spirit and with the power of God's word.

She ended by challenging us all with I Peter 3:15. "But in your hearts set apart Christ as LORD. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Implied in that verse is the fact that our hope must be on something unchanging, unending in its power and reliability and unfailing. That can only be God and His word.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


You know how there are those moments in life when you would do anything for a camera. But the moments is too fleeting and you know by the time you ran and got it, the moment would be gone. I don't know if it was hormones, bio-rhythms or what, but this morning I woke and felt all was well with the world. Perhaps days like today are happening every day and I am missing them. I hope not. But today, there were several snapshot moments. I captured nary a one on film but I'm determined to memorialize them in writing. I wish I had written them down as they came.

Micah got new tennis shoes and he told me "I wun fast" in them. He pulled my hand to take me ten feet farther south so I had a clear view of the whole kitchen. "Tay wight dere, mom. I go fast" he commanded before zooming all the way to the far cabinet and zooming back. He did indeed go very fast!

At naptime, I was getting Micah's bottle and changing his diaper when Micah informed me, "Dew put me nigh-night." I said, "You go ask him." Drew was downstairs in his room reading. At first Micah wanted to go by himself but then he grabbed hold of my hand and we progressed to Drew's room. When we arrived, Micah pointed to the doorknob which he can't open by himself. After I opened the door, he rushed in and exclaimed, "Urry up, Dew. Urry up! Uh-mon, Dew!" Drew of course had no idea why he was being summoned so I told Micah to tell Drew what he wanted. Micah looked at me blankly so I said, "Ask him your question." Ah hah. The light goes on. He looks back at Drew and says, "You put me nigh-night." Drew replies with a big grin, "You want me to put you night night?" to which Micah nods excitedly. Drew rises from his bed, scoops Micah up and off they go for story time, snuggling and bed. Too precious. Thank you Lord.

Dean walked down the driveway after being at Keegan's all day with a very tall, very furry band hat on. The school district had had an auction today of stuff they wanted to get rid of and this is what Dean came home with! Evidently, no one bought it at auction (imagine that) so he got it free! Keegan got one too and they plan to wear them on spirit day Friday along with some old band uniforms that Keegan has! What a hoot!

Dean and Keegan also made up a new game for the trampoline - Dance, Dance Revolution. They take the boom box out and try to outdo each other with their "dance moves" on the trampoline. I think Dean is trying to get ready for his first big dance in middle school!

Grant's friend, Robbie, and Grant were playing on the trampoline with light sabers, dodging and slicing, when up comes Micah wanting to "zump". They begrudgingly agreed and Micah had a blast. They all got off and moved to the sand box. Now Micah and Grant have light sabers and Robbie now has a broom stick. They teach Micah a few moves and have a three-way sword fight. Then Micah starts playing on the slide and swings in the hammock swing for awhile while the fighting persists around him. After a time, Micah heads toward the house. He passes a ball and, after another step, realizes his missed opportunity and returns to kick it before continuing on. He comes in and is desperate for a snack of "pepils". I finally figure out it is pretzels he wants. After rounding up a satisfactory alternative (pepils are all gone) Micah tells me, "Good zob mom."

Micah discovered a huge black and gold butterfly on the zinnias. He of course squeels and shouts and chases it away but it must love the zinnia nectar because it hovers around this noisy, blond interruption to see if it might be safe to dine again soon. As soon as Micah quiets down, he lands for another sip when the whole adventure begins again. Only this time, Micah takes off after it as it launches for its hovering tactics. It remains just beyond his reach and seems to be playing with him. He leads Micah far enough away from home base that he can return for another drink before Micah can get close again. This went on several times before the butterfly left in exasperation. He soon returned, however, when Micah was distracted. Robbie and Grant had watched the game and this time Grant sneaked up quietly, caught the gluttonous butterfly and showed him to Micah so he could take a closer look. More squeels and excitement then the very nervous butterfly was released.

Grant and Robbie played all afternoon and then we had supper. Since I had to make a quick trip to the grocery store anyway, I had picked up marshmallows and chocolate for smores. After Micah was in bed, we made a fire in the firepit. (Dean's friend Keegan was also over.) We were roasting away when Robbie said, "I LOVE roasted marshmallows but I've never roasted one over a real fire before!" This of course raised some eyebrows and we asked how he had roasted marshmallows. Robbie lives with his mom and two sisters in an apartment and they have enjoyed roasting marshmallows over a gas stove but he had never experienced a campfire before. He was so excited and probably ate way too many marshmallows but it was too fun to watch him enjoy the experience so much. A bit later, he said, "It might be easier at this time of night for me to just spend the night. That way you wouldn't waste any gas taking me home." Robbie is precious to us and to Grant. Grant led Robbie to Christ in first grade on the playground and he has been coming to Hide 'N Seek ever since. He is a tender hearted boy and we love him.

Mark had a long day of tennis arriving home at 7:00pm so he missed most of these moments. But he was able to enjoy the campfire with us and an exhuberant "DADDY HOME!" from Micah when he arrived home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


September 10, 2007

Last night was such a gift from God. We finally did not have anything on our calendar that evening. No tennis, no practice, no rehearsal, no church, no meeting. We were all there at the dinner table and Mark and I were of one accord in telling Dean, no, he could not go be a ball boy at the college soccer game because there had been so few nights when we were all home. Then the phone rang. It was for Drew. A couple girls from the worship team needed his help learning some songs. Uhgh. They really did need his help. Worship team would lead the youth group in two days and these girls were new to the team.

“Tell them you’ll call them back.” Okay, what should we do? “What time?”

“7::20pm.” It’s now 6:00pm. That gives us an hour of togetherness. I sigh, “Okay, tell them you can.”

Dean screws up his face. “What? How come he can but I can't? I wouldn’t have to be there until 7:30pm.” I almost cave since Drew’s going to be gone anyway but Mark says, no, Dean needs to stay home and hang with us.

Then the blessing. At 6:50pm the phone rings and it’s one of the girls saying they have cheerleading at 7:00pm and won’t be able to practice. Turns out they thought they said 6:10pm but somehow Drew got 7:20pm so we’re all home after all!

Dean’s still mad so I ask him what he would like to do as a family. “Watch football.” Standard answer at our house, especially on Monday night, and once again I feel like I’m the only girl – which of course I am so I should stop being surprised.

About a month ago I implemented the “no more TV or game station or computer games until we all memorize Psalm 19” rule. I have actually been amazed at how unmotivated we all have been to memorize this Psalm (it’s not that long) and how little, for the most part, we’ve missed these electronic devices. However, football season is now upon us and I’m wondering if Mark will start to give in. I waited for his response. Neutral.

I need to get a couple things at the grocery store before it closes so I leave with a “find a game we can all play. I’ll be right back.” I wonder if Monday Night Football will be what I hear when I return. But instead Grant is playing “The Entertainer” the best he has ever played and Drew and Dean are taking turns on the guitar. Grant had written a story from the perspective of Lewis and Clark’s dog that I read with him. (Very cute.) Then we headed downstairs to play Apples to Apples. We managed to play several rounds between Micah’s tackles, kisses and making messes of the cards. (Micah thought the real game was us all sitting in a circle so he could go from person to person jumping in laps and giving kisses.) Mark took Micah off to bed and Drew disappeared.

Grant had retrieved these small cards I had set by the dinner table in hopes of spurring some meaningful (read girly) conversation. Thank you Grant! They all started, “If you could do anything, what would you do if” then you flip the card to see the scenario. Things like “you could invent something that changed the world” or “you could own any kind of store” or “you could change life for the poor.” Grant, Dean and I went through several questions. Then the question “What would you do if you could give the ultimate gift for the person to your left” came up. By this time Mark had returned. He wished to give me the gift of understanding that there is a lot of testosterone in our house and every now and then he needs to hear my ideas on how to spend an evening and encourage the boys not to roll their eyes at me. Amazingly, he had already given me this gift. After a few more questions and answers, Mark took Grant off to bed but Dean and I talked and talked for the next hour or more, about school, soccer, girls, church, heaven, football, friends, and the upcoming dance.

It was a lovely night but we so easily could have missed it. The gravity of our culture could have stolen it away. It yells, “Go, do, let me entertain you.” The TV could have dominated our conversation. Activities could have stolen our time together. Even the desire to help others can corrupt a precious time as family. I’m so glad I didn’t give in, that I fought against cultural gravity and testosterone. And amazingly, I think the boys are too.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New York City Trip 2007

Friday, August 31

We were due to fly out of Wichita at 2:10pm but our flight was oversold by four. We offered to get bumped when we heard we would only be delayed an hour AND receive five round trip tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. We ended up arriving in NYC two hours later rather than one, but still all in all a very good deal! Since our luggage went on ahead it was ready and waiting when we arrived so we grabbed it and a taxi and arrived at our Embassy Suites Hotel by 11:00pm ET.

Saturday, September 1

One of the highlights of our stay was the amazing breakfast buffet at our hotel. Every morning they served made to order omelets or scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, rolls, muffins, bagels, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, coffees, teas, hot chocolate, pretty much everything you could think of for breakfast. We stuffed ourselves and grabbed an apple or pear and some yogurt to go and usually we weren’t hungry again until after 1:00pm or 2:00pm.

This was our “day pass” day at the US Open so we could get in the gates at 10:00am. By the time we navigated the subway (after a few wrong turns) I think we were there by 10:45am. It’s an amazing environment. It kind of reminds me of an Olympic Village. We watched some doubles on the outer courts then ended up finishing the day in Louis Armstrong stadium. We really like the flexibility of the day passes and if we ever go again, we definitely want to do that again.

We left around 6:30pm and stopped at Grand Central Station for supper and looked around. We caught a $7.00 cab back to the hotel that ended up being $15. (I think Mark’s tennis friend did not realize how far south our hotel was!) Every time the five of us step on a subway, it’s $10 so we thought the cab would be a better deal and it still was since we didn't have to figure out which way to turn when we exited the subway!

Sunday, Sept. 2

We didn’t get a real early start this morning and we didn’t have a real plan for the day. We started by meandering down along Battery Park along the harbor and enjoying the beautiful morning. We thought we would eventually come to the ferry to the Statue of Liberty or a tour bus company. We decided we should take the tour bus because it included the ferry ticket and would take us all around town for 48 hours. We were looking for the Gray Line but found City Sights instead. After purchasing those tickets we headed back to Battery Park and the ferry only to see the line so long we didn’t think we’d have time to do it justice and still make our Open ticket time. So back to the tour bus only this time we got on the wrong bus! We ended up on 1 ½ hour tour of Brooklyn guided by a former communist turned socialist turned democrat (see, evolution is true) Jew who grew up in Brooklyn and thought of himself as part tour guide, part stand up comedian, part singer and part world peace negotiator. As we drove through the neighborhood he told stories from his childhood and basically tried to convince us that Brooklyn was heaven on earth. As he drove through the Muslim-occupied neighborhoods he pointed out the Chinese restaurant and offered it as proof that all nationalities like Chinese food and if he could just sit down with world leaders over wantons and Szetchuan Beef, he was sure he could negotiate world peace.

We began to understand why he wasn’t working broadway, comedy clubs or at the UN and why his audience was held captive on a tour bus and made up at least partly of people who spoke little English.

A frustrating 1 ½ hours later we found a bathroom (no small feat in NYC) and the right bus and headed uptown. This time our guide had laryngitis and we strained to hear her descriptions of the passing skyscape. We got off in Times Square and immediately were incorporated into the human stream. We made our way to ESPN Zone and Toys R Us and were overwhelmed by the mass of crowds and noise. I asked the Toys R Us attendant if it was extra busy for Labor Day and she said, no, this was typical. They actually had traffic attendants with bull horns in Toys R Us. We decided we’d had enough and made our way to the relative peace and quiet of the subway for our trip out to Flushing.

This night we had reserved seats in Arthur Ashe stadium. We decided watching the meet from the blimp would be similar to our seat location. Both the matches were blow outs so the crowd was pretty tame and the atmosphere subdued. We connected with Beth a couple times and she and Mark took a picture holding the Lindsborg News Record for Ron. They were supposed to take it with another couple Lindsborg State Tennis winners but they had front row at the Grandstand in a tough five setter and they weren’t vacating their seats for the big news release.

We left before the matches were over, around 10:00pm and entered our busiest subway yet. A few stops down a very tipsy late 50’s/early 60ish woman entered who asked the guy beside her (who was beside Drew) if she could hold onto him. He agreed and she proceeded to make suggestive comments and repeated at least three times how a stranger can be your best friend. Our next stop brought two girlfriends who began fighting, cussing and throwing punches. Someone "helped" them off the train at the next stop. (If they hadn’t gone, we would have.) When we finally disembarked, Drew said, “I just saw a rated R movie on the subway! Welcome to New York.

When we got off the subway, we didn’t realize how close we were to the hotel and walked 3 blocks in the opposite direction before we figured out how to flag a cab (just stand on the corner and hold up your hand) to take us back to our hotel around 11:30pm.

Monday, Sept. 3

I told the boys at the end of this day, “we should write a travel brochure called “How to See NYC in 12 Hours!” We finally started to get the hang of this city and realized having a plan at the start of the day is way more efficient than just figuring it out as you go along.

We left our hotel about 9:15am (after another very satisfying breakfast) and walked past Ground Zero which is only a couple blocks from our hotel. We couldn’t see a lot as they are starting construction work on the Twin Tower’s replacement. Then we hailed a cab (we’re getting better!) and went to the Statue of Liberty Ferry. The line was very short and passed quickly with the help of a street musician who made fun of us, Kansas, the Jayhawks and Wildcats and the fact that we probably had no black people in our town! He really was funny and very learned. He knew a lot about most of the places people revealed were their homes.

We arrived at the island, took our touristy pictures, purchased our traditional Christmas ornament souvenir to commemorate the trip and headed for the ferry to begin our journey to Ellis Island. We were just congratulating ourselves on being at the front of the line as the ferry we were to board was unloading when we were asked to get off the dock and those left on the ferry hurredly disboarded. There was some confusion but no panic as the crowd was pushed back, back and still further back until we were 500’ from the boat. The police came by boat and helicopter and an hour later pronounced all is well and everyone boarded the ferry as though this happened every day and we shouldn’t worry our little heads about it. All in a days work in NYC I guess. We never heard for sure, but I’m guessing it was a bomb threat. I’m glad it wasn’t September 11th.

We arrived at Ellis and looked around some. I could have spent much more time there. They had a live 30 minute play, several documentaries as well as the research room, all of which we did not do. We did have time to use their computer to do a quick search and turned up a positive on Henry Holste, immigrating in 1913 so that was cool! We didn’t find any Dahlsten’s, Habigers, Johnstons and Lynn’s in the set of records where we found Henry. But you can also submit recent photos to the database if your family immigrated through Ellis and we found plenty of those names under that database, more than we had time to look through.

We ate lunch at the Ellis Island cafĂ© then caught the ferry back to Manhattan and our bus took us uptown to the American Museum of Natural History. It was an excellent museum as far as the exhibits, I liked it even better than the Smithsonium. But I have never been to a museum more steeped in evolutionary promotion than this one. It was in nearly every exhibit. It would be interesting to go back in 10 years after evolution is completely disproven to see how they cover the fact that they promoted the equivalent of “the earth is flat” to so many millions of people. We only had two hours before the museum closed but thank goodness the ticket is “by donation” so we felt like we got our $20 worth.

From there, a walk across the street brought us to Central Park where we began our stroll across from the northwest to the southeast corner. Grant was in heaven climbing the large bolders/mini mountains. In spite of the fact that we had been walking all day, it was like his energy was renewed by the green space with boy adventures awaiting around every turn. Drew and Dean couldn’t resist either. Grant proclaimed “I’ve been waiting the whole trip for this!” It made me think of all the other 9 year old boys who don’t know what they are missing in the Midwest! We enjoyed the sights and sounds and the ice cream (even though it nearly broke our teeth.) After reentering the city, we found a large Sabarro recommended by the tour guide. It was excellent and reasonable!!! It had an amazing salad bar as well as pastas. We then headed to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) for a view of the city to end our day. This time we turned the correct direction getting off our subway and had no trouble finding our hotel. Finally, on our last night!

As we were watching the news, their teaser headline was “Will the cab drivers really strike?” which put fear in our hearts since that was our way to the airport the next morning. Upon watching the full story, they are due to strike on Wednesday, not Tuesday so we are leaving in the nick of time!

It was a great and memorable trip but we were all ready to go home. Our trips always make us appreciate home a little more. New Yorkers were much friendlier than I remembered, the city much cleaner and I really felt safe most of the time. The city has changed a great deal in 20 years but it is still New York. Still crowded and noisy and expensive. Great place to visit but I sure wouldn’t want to live there. I think the boys would go back someday. There are things we didn’t get to do that they have already said they would like to someday. But for now, they’ve had enough of NYC to last awhile.