Keep Calm and Love Illinois Part Two

On Sunday morning I found my place at CCC and enjoyed a morning of worship, community, fellowship, and a wonderful sermon about Healthy Relationships (thanks, Bob)!

IMG_20140216_154201And, after 3 days of NOT seeing Andi and Ethan, I went to the Keene’s. I purposely did NOT go over to Shannon’s earlier in my visit because I knew that if I went inside, Andi was going to have a hard time with me leaving (going in and out), so I thought it was best not to go over there until I was ready to stay (I stayed 3 nights at Ember’s and 3 nights at Shannon’s).

Here’s a picture of Ember and me.

Ember and me

Ember and me

Andi and I were reunited once again!!

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Andi and her “yelling” face….

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Queen of her castle

Sunday night I was able to go to Panera Bread and have dinner with Paige. I didn’t take a picture of us together (sad face) but I really enjoyed my visit. We “closed down” Panera–they closed at 8:00PM, but they let us stay until 9:00 and just vacuumed and mopped around us!

Andi drew this picture of us–do you see Paul’s spiky blue hair and his green beard!!

CAM02757Monday morning we woke up to more snow, and it snowed (HARD) for most of the morning and into early afternoon. It was projected they were going to get 6-8 inches (on top of what they already had on the ground). So….at some point, I measure it and it was about 12-14 inches deep in some places.

Right after lunch Shannon and the kids made cookies (I helped a little bit)!

Ethan and his "Halloween" cookie cutters

Ethan and his “Halloween” cookie cutters

Ethan and Andi making cookies

Ethan and Andi making cookies

decorating the cookies

decorating the cookies

Ethan, enjoying the fruits of his labor

Ethan, enjoying the fruits of his labor

I took Ethan and Andi outside to play, and we ended up walking ALL the way down the camp road to Ember’s house. Her kids were headed out the door to go play, so it was perfect!!

Ethan and Andi

Ethan and Andi

Andi took my picture

Andi took my picture

my FAVORITE picture!!

my FAVORITE picture!!

 

A funny note about these next 2 pictures:

When I got the car from Bob on Thursday, I asked him if he had a brush/ice scraper in the car. He said he didn’t think there was one in there, but he assured me I wouldn’t need one!! 😉  So, on Monday, I had to implement free child labor to brush off all the snow!

Ethan and Andi brushing off my car

Ethan and Andi brushing off my car

Andi

Andi

Ethan and me

Ethan and me

Ethan fell in a "hole" and the snow went all the way up to his waist

Ethan fell in a “hole” and the snow went all the way up to his waist

Jacob

Jacob

Andi and me eating snow!

Andi and me eating snow!

All of us walking on the bridge over the pond at camp

All of us walking on the bridge over the pond at camp

Here are some pictures of Jeremiah, as well. He was super sick while I was there, so he didn’t get to play outside with us nor did I really get to play with him because he just wanted “Mommy” most of the time!

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playing trains (or eating them, as the case may be for Jeremiah)

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Cutie!

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playing in Andi’s room

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Jeremiah and Andi sitting in the bathroom one morning, while I got ready

On Tuesday I was able to run several errands and just have some “me” time–

I got a haircut on Tuesday….I’m not 100% sure I like it, but oh well, it’ll always grow!

CAM02762I was also able to have lunch with Bob and get a massage….so yes, definitely a “me” day!

Wednesday was a sad day….it was time to go! 😦 Andi and I were coloring on Wednesday morning, and she was complaining that her stomach hurt. She went and laid down on the couch, covering herself up with a blanket. While she was doing that, I got my suitcase ready and brought it upstairs. Shannon asked Andi if her stomach really hurt or if something else was wrong. She said she was just sad I was leaving–she ended up taking a nap on Wednesday morning, which she NEVER does, because she didn’t want to see me go! 😦

Andi and me on my last morning....

Andi and me on my last morning….

On Wednesday I got to the airport about 12:45 because my flight was leaving at 2:00….

Note to self: Make a better selection (in regards to socks)–otherwise you’ll end up wearing hole-y Christmas socks to walk through airport security!

CAM02779After a 1.5 hour delay we finally left at 3:20!!

Still managing to make my flight from Chicago to Austin, it was pretty uneventful! Except….two words: EXIT ROW!!

CAM02781I could stretch my legs ALL THE WAY out!! It was glorious….

Paul picked me up about 8:45 in Austin, and we were home by 9:30ish!

Words cannot describe how good it was for my heart and for my soul to be back in Illinois…..when will I visit again? I don’t know…but hopefully….soon!

 

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Keep Calm and Love Illinois

In February 2012 God called us away from My Heart’s Home to move back to Texas. I never knew (nor could I ever comprehend) how much I would miss Illinois. We’ve been gone 2 years, and yet I ache for it so bad sometimes it hurts. Over and over I wonder why Illinois made such an impression on my life during the three years we lived there. My friend, Bob, put it so eloquently….it’s because of relationships. It has nothing to do with the cold weather, the snow, our jobs there (ALL of which I loved), but overall, it comes down to the relationships that I built there. As much as Paul enjoyed living there as well, and as much as he became friends with many people that we knew, he will never understand my longing for those relationships. So…I go. I go to visit. I go to “live” for a week there. In the familiar, where my heart lives.

About a month ago I decided I wanted to go to Illinois to visit. 🙂 Besides, it’s been almost a year since I’ve been there, so surely, my visit is justified because Illinois is missing me and I am yearning for it.

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Where my heart lives!

Where my heart lives!

I flew in on Thursday, the 13th of February. I wanted to go when it was still COLD and SNOWY, but not when it was frigid, below zero with feet of snow! I think I went at the PERFECT TIME! It was COLD and SNOWY, but absolutely perfect!!

view from the plane

view from the plane

I took this picture on Thursday (once I crossed over the bridge)….I thought it was so picturesque and indictative of the iconic Lacon Bridge.

Lacon bridge over the frozen Illinois River

Lacon bridge over the frozen Illinois River

After stopping in Chillicothe to pick up my “rental car” (a.k.a. Bob’s car that he let me borrow for the week–THANKS, Bob), I drove straight to camp. My heart is at peace when I drive down the camp road. The tall trees just surround you and envelope you into your own little haven for the duration of your time there.

my heart smiles when I drive down the camp road

my heart smiles when I drive down the camp road

On Thursday I went straight over to Ember’s house and immediately we had a tea party!

Impromptu tea party

Impromptu tea party

Hannah pouring my "tea" (water)

Hannah pouring my “tea” (water)

On Friday morning I woke up to snow falling!! Happy Valentine’s Day to ME!

My view while eating breakfast on Friday morning

My view while eating breakfast on Friday morning

Becca and Hannah on Valentine morning

Becca and Hannah on Valentine morning

My Valentine from Becca

My Valentine from Becca

Paul's Valentine from Hannah

Paul’s Valentine from Hannah

On Friday Ember and I ventured out (very slowly because of the snow) and took the kids to the Children’s Museum in Bloomington. I’d never been there before, and it was great! The kids loved it….

Hannah took my picture while "eating" Avanti's pizza....Hannah was "cooking" for me

Hannah took my picture while “eating” Avanti’s pizza….Hannah was “cooking” for me

Jacob playing at the water table--he stayed there for about an hour

Jacob playing at the water table–he stayed there for about an hour

Rebecca honing in on her "surgical skills"

Rebecca honing in on her “surgical skills”

full body PinArt

full body PinArt

Hannah at the water table

Hannah at the water table

Hannah and me at the ice cream store

Hannah and me at the ice cream store

Rebecca and me at the Ice Cream store

Rebecca and me at the Ice Cream store

On Saturday I went and saw Jacob play basketball for a few minutes before I went to spend the afternoon with Shannon, getting pedicures, going out to eat, and going shopping! 🙂

Jacob

Jacob

Shannon and me

Shannon and me

The rest of my trip has to be continued in another blog post….it’s time to go to bed! 🙂

Hodge Podge of Pictures

Here’s just a random post of pictures of life happenins’ lately….

On Friday night, the 31st, I took Melissa and Lillie to a Varsity girls basketball game at the high school. Melissa plays basketball in Middle School (8th grade). I think she was impressed with how FAST they moved and how “hard” they played–I told her to take notes, so she could play like that in high school!

Melissa, Lillie, and me

Melissa, Lillie, and me

On Sunday, February 2nd, we drove over to Caldwell and went to a Super Bowl party at FBC Caldwell.

Melissa, Taylor, and Lindsay

Melissa, Taylor, and Lindsay

Colton and Walker playing Ping-Pong

Colton and Walker playing Ping-Pong

playing pool

playing pool

Monday, February 3rd, I drove down to Nederland (about 3 1/2 hours away) and sent to see Home Free in concert! Home Free is the band that won The Sing Off this past winter….it was so good! I loved it!!

HomeFree

HomeFree

Once I left Nederland, I drove over to Kingwood to spend the night with Kara. She is a baker (owns her own in-house bakery) and makes wonderful desserts (cupcakes, cakes, etc)…..so she let me make some cupcakes and decorate them!!

cupcakes

cupcakes

We kept 4 of them at our house and I took the rest to school–we certainly did not need 12 cupcakes at our house!

Houston traffic!!

Houston traffic!!

This is how I felt about Houston traffic!! YUCK!!

On Thursday, February 6th we got “snow” again….remember this? That’s 2 days of snow in Texas…..this time we only had a 2-hour delay at school, not a full day off (which was fine with me because if I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so…..)

the palm trees by our front door

the palm trees by our front door

our front yard

our front yard

Snow on the roof

Snow on the roof

On Friday night, the 31st, while we were watching the Varsity girls game, the JV boys were playing in the Middle School gym. Well, one of the Smithville players got hurt. They stopped the game (to tend to him) so all the other players circled around, held hands, and prayed–and they published the picture in the paper this week!

sweet picture

sweet picture

This past Wednesday I had to substitute for a teacher that I DO NOT like subbing for…..I actually requested NOT to ever sub. for her, but for that day, they put me in there anyway. I survived, but it was not fun! But, this note made it a little more bearable!

Note

Note

Well, my next post will probably be FROM ILLINOIS!!! I’m so excited! I will be there in 4 days!

“There is No Perfect Game”

In the spring of 2008 Paul and I were in school together at Logsdon Seminary. One spring day we were invited out to a professor’s house to a “party” with other seminarians and a couple of other professors. While we were there I remember talking to one of our professor’s who (at the time) had his grown daughter living with him, as well as his 2 granddaughters. Not being too familiar with his personal life, I asked if he only had one daughter. He replied that he did. I remember him telling me that he and his wife had several LONG discussions about whether or not they wanted to have children at all. Their main reason (although I’m sure there were a few) was they were not sure they wanted to bring a child into such a sinful world. He and his wife just couldn’t imagine raising a son or daughter in a world that is perverted with sin, destruction, evil, and corruption.

I’ve been thinking about that conversation a lot lately, thinking back to how weird I thought it was at the time.

What a strange reason not have a child…Sin? Destruction? Evil? Corruption?

Such pessimism…..such a debbie-downer….such a weird-o.

And, yet, now, 6 years later, it makes complete sense and I agree with it more and more each day.

About a year go I wrote this post, shortly after the shootings in Connecticut. It is a beautiful poignant blog post (if I do say so myself). UNfortunately, it still applies today. I wish I could say with confidence that school shootings have decreased, but alas, they have not. Today is February 2nd. For our school district (and on average probably most school districts) our students have been in school for 17 days since coming back from Christmas. Just over 3 weeks. And yet in those three weeks there have been 11 school shootings around the United States–11!!! That’s an average of one per day….no wonder our professor thought we lived in a sinful world–and that was 6 years ago!

January 9, 2014-A student was charged with bringing a gun to school at Liberty Technology Magnet High School in Jackson, Tennessee and shooting a fellow classmate in the thigh. The incident occurred outside the front of the school.

January 13, 2014-A 14-year-old boy was shot outside of a basketball game at the Hillhouse High School athletic facility in New Haven, Connecticut, suffering wounds in his hand and leg.

January 14, 2014-Two people were shot and wounded inside the gymnasium of Berrendo Middle School, at about 8:10 am. An 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas in critical condition. The 12-year-old suspected shooter, Mason Campbell, a seventh grade student, was apprehended at the scene after he was talked down by a staff member and dropped the shotgun. A staff member received minor injuries. Campbell is facing charges of three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He faces a maximum sentence of confinement in a juvenile detention facility until he is 21 years old.

January 17, 2014-A student allegedly shot two other students in the gymnasium at Delaware Valley Charter School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both victims, a male and a female, were shot in the arm. They were taken to a nearby hospital and are in stable condition, police say. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said at a news conference that the shooter ran out of the school after the shooting but was taken into custody near his home. 17-year-old Raisheem Rochwell was arrested and charged as an adult for aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and firearms offenses.

January 17, 2014-Albany Police said a 16-year-old Albany High Student in Albany, Georgia, student was shot near the school Friday afternoon. Dougherty County School Police Chief Troy Conley said the student had “wandered off campus” and was shot once in the left arm. The unidentified student has been transported to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. There was no immediate word on the student’s condition. Police were investigating the incident at press time.

January 20, 2014-One person was shot and critically injured at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. The incident occurred around 10:00 pm outside the university sport’s complex and led to an 8-hour university lock-down. The suspect was not immediately found.

January 21, 2014-A 21-year-old student, Andrew Boldt, was shot and killed in a classroom building on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayete, Indians. A suspect, 24-year-old student Cody Cousins, was arrested and charged with murder.

January 24 2014-A 20-year-old student was shot and killed at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. A 19-year-old was arrested and charged with murder.

January 27, 2014-A group of students at Rebound High School in Carbondale, Illinois, got in an argument in the school’s parking lot. One student pulled out a gun and shot another student in the ensuing altercation. An 18-year-old suspect is facing charges of attempted murder.

January 28, 2014-A 17-year-old boy was shot in the wrist after attacking police officers with a kitchen knife at President Theodore Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

January 30, 2014-Three students were fighting in a parking lot of Eastern Florida College in Palm Bay, Florida, and one pulled out a gun and shot another of the students. All three student claimed self-defense.

Honestly, for more than half of these shootings I didn’t even know about them until I looked them up. Yes, I understand they were probably covered on the news (which I don’t watch) but some of them probably didn’t make national news, just local. So, since I don’t live in Indiana, Florida, or Pennsylvania, I didn’t hear about them. Or, if I did, it was sandwiched between Michael Strahan getting picked as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 and Justin Bieber getting thrown in jail for a DUI. See, it has just become routine news. Mundane. Everyday. As if we’ve desensitized ourselves to it.

But, why? Why are these shootings happening? Why are children (teens) so angry?

It’s a given….the pressures of life in this present wicked system can make people feel angry. (see Ecclesiastes. 7:9) Often, this anger leads to hatred and outright violence. Wars rage between and within countries, while family tensions bring conflict right into many homes. Such anger and violence have a long history. Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, killed his younger brother Abel out of jealous anger. Cain committed this vile deed even though God had urged him to control his emotions and had promised to bless him if he did (Genesis 4:6-8).
 
I hate to bring it up, but I’m pretty sure my mom used to tell me “Life’s not fair.” And, after 33 years, I’m starting to believe her.

  • Things don’t always happen the way you planned.
  • People don’t always treat you the way you think you should be treated.
  • Someone else may have more than you, though you believe you tried harder.

Don’t go to pity parties or get bitter every time you don’t get what you think you deserve. When you hear yourself bemoaning your life, habitually blaming others for your troubles. It’s time to do a “response-ability” check. In what ways do YOU have the ability to improve the situation by responding differently?

The world “owes me” is a false premise. Children/teenagers are the worst with this…..

  • I want….
  • I should get….
  • I deserve….

We have so many LIFE-GIVING, LIFE-ENHANCING resources and opportunities at our disposal (more than the rest of the world will ever know about, better yet see). There are GIFTS! They deserve gratitude, not our indifference.

Rather than complaining, let’s live the words of Ghandi: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

“There is No Perfect Game”

 On Friday night I took 2 Middle School girls with me to watch the Varsity girls basketball game at our High School. Over the last 2 seasons of basketball I’ve been to quite a few games here in Giddings. This year has been the worst. The fans have been awful. I’ve had moments where I’ve walked out because I couldn’t stand the yelling anymore. There have been moments when I’ve been a little embarrassed to be a “Buff” when the parents/fans are yelling and screaming at the referees, telling them how horrible they are and how they need to learn how to “call”—in other words, our fans weren’t getting their way, so they were retaliating against the one person(s) who they thought deserved it. But, in reality, they were the ones who chose to respond the way they did. My philosophy is “unless-you’ve-been-a-referee-or-are-ON-THE-COURT, seeing-the-plays-at-‘eye-level’ you cannot make that judgment call”.

One of the 8th grade girls that was with me is very wise. Her response (to the fans yelling and me trying to apologize for their behavior) was, “There is No Perfect Game.” Someone is always going to be disappointed by the calls made or the outcome of the game. That’s life. It may not always be fair. Your child may not play well. Your child’s team may not win. Your team may get some unfair (relativity speaking) calls made against them, but you have to be OK with that…..

Remember….

2927645_f520you are who you feed….

You have to rise above the others and be an example for the younger generation. And until you learn to do that, we will always have violence in our schools because of….you.

The evil one comes to kill and destroy (John 10:10) and often that spirit caters to the imperfect flesh and is in total opposition to God’s Holy Spirit and its fruitage. Indeed, a fundamental teaching of Christianity is not to retaliate under provocation. (Read Matthew 5:39, 44, 45.) How, then, can we more fully apply Jesus’ teachings?

By living and loving and basing our lives on God’s Word.

Ephesians 4:29-“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. Henry James