Saturday, October 4, 2008

Date Night

I have to say I consider myself truly blessed. You see, I am absolutely crazy about my husband. We were figuring it out earlier tonight and I have been with this wonderful man for more than half of my life. It will be over half of his life in a few more months because he's slightly older than I am. (He'll be 39 a week from Monday and I have another 5 1/2 months before I hit that final stop before the great milestone of the big 4-0, but I digress.) Bottom line, we've been together for a long time. If we were in Hollywood it would be like our diamond anniversary almost!

Tonight was our scheduled "date night." We get one guaranteed date night per month. My parents take each one of our kids on a Thursday night rotation to spend time with them individually and the 4th week of that cycle they take the whole bunch and we get an evening off. A lot of times it's just a couple hours on a Thursday evening, but often my parents will take them on a Friday or Saturday so we can have more time. Last night after we all went to the (devestating) Angel game my dad called when we got home and surprised us with an offer to come and get them right away. So our "date night" was wonderfully extended.

We got to sleep in this morning, which is a rare treat. We lounged and relaxed till it was time to meet my dad and the kids at Ethan's extremely brief soccer game. (It got called after the first quarter because of rain, it wasn't actually raining, but it got called anyway.) So my dad took back off with the kids and Neal and I headed off for more time alone.

We went and had a really nice dinner at PF Changs. There's a new one at the Anaheim Gardenwalk. It was nice to be able to go to one of our faves and not have it be a long trek down the freeway. We had the best service I think I might have ever had. If you check out this new restaurant, ask for Erin, she took such good care of us. It was nice to lounge and have grown-up conversation. It made me realize how lucky I am to truly like the man I'm married to. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. I see so many married couples who though they may love each other, they tolerate spending time together. I think that's sad. I really like Neal, he truly is my best friend.

Afterwards we walked around the new shopping center. There were a lot of "opening soon" shops. There's a theater, we thought about going to a movie but couldn't really agree on what to see. We just walked around and hung out. Neal pulled me a round a quiet corner and gave me a big kiss, and you know what? He still makes my heart go pitter-patter.

It was just such a pleasant quiet day. We ended up coming back to the house and hanging out. He's playing worship tomorrow and needed to practice. I needed to do laundry for him and the kids. It was nice though, so peaceful and quiet. We stretched out the evening as long as we could. I know it's highly boring, but I love that we are that happy to just be alone together.

When we finally went and got the kids we heard the discipline reports and each child had something to tell us or whine about (or both). By the time we got in the car to head home they were bickering and had started the "he did this, she did that" lines. Whining increased, I think we had a few drama tears. (You know, the completely fake kind.) Neal reached over and grabbed my hand, we looked at each other and laughed. I started to sing my version of that old Helen Reddy song... "You and me against the kids..."

At one point during the evening while Neal was outside practicing and I was alone in the house, the thought did occur to me how boring life would be without the kids, peaceful, but boring. But I can't imagine sharing the excitement and challenge of parenting our three crazy, rambunctious, often obnoxious kids without my best friend by my side. I love my husband, and I am so thankful we have time and opportunity to foster our friendship. It makes it a lot easier to get the work of parenting done together.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop

My dad sent this to me via email today, and I thought it was worthy of posting. I'm not positive it's fact for fact truth, but the sentiment surely is.

You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop

When in England , at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building' by George Bush.

He answered by saying, 'Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.'

You could have heard a pin drop.

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?'

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: 'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from! their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?'

You could have heard a pin drop.

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English , Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.

Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.' He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'
Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied

'Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'

You could have heard a pin drop.


Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

'You have been to France before, monsieur?' the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.'

The American said, ''The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it.

'Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France !'

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to.'

You could have heard a pin drop.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


It means "released or detached: WITHDRAWN"

You've heard the saying "a picture is worth a 1,000 words"? Have you had the experience where you have observed something in your daily life that spoke such volumes, you wish you had a camera to snap a picture to share? Well, I had that experience yesterday.

Tuesdays are my late morning to come into work, so it was probably about 11:30 and I was driving down the main street behind my house. As I was stopped at the stoplight a family of four was entering the crosswalk to cross the street in front of my car. It was a mom and a dad and two little girls I would guess were probably about 4 and 2 years old. It had the potential to be a precious picture, this little family out on a walk, but instead what I saw hurt my heart.

The youngest girl was in a stroller, one of those umbrella styles with a little canopy over the top to guard her from the son. The older girl was walking holding her daddy's hand, he had her sort of back and slightly behind him. Mom, pushing the stroller was on her cell phone, in fact she was pushing with one hand and using the elbow on the side that held the phone to guide her off the sidewalk. Dad had earplugs in his ears I assume attached to an iPod or MP3 player piping music into his ears. The littlest girl was trying to lean forward to peak up and around to see her parents and the older girl seemed just to be trying to keep up, looking at Daddy who other than his hand holding hers seemed oblivious to her presence.

It speaks volumes about the state of our society today. 10 years ago when my husband and I were youth workers, teenagers were a challenge, but the key was being able to touch their hearts. If you could reach them, reveal to them your sincere interest and care, you laid a stone to build the foundation of a relationship. We used to have dozens of kids come over and just hang out. We'd play games, barbecue carne asada, have sleepovers, parties. We'd connect. 10 years later, these young people are getting married, having babies, starting careers, and Neal and I are blessed to still have connections with these kids. IT varies in degree, some remain very close, others more casually, some we don't see except at weddings and baby showers, but when we do, there is a connection, one that was built a decade ago, but was built to last.

This past June my teenage son Jacob had a party for his junior high friends at the end of the school year. We brought them over to my parents big wonderful "party house" and we barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs and we had games, all the same tools. But touching their hearts, making a "connection" was harder than it used to be. The teens themselves seem harder to reach, distant, more jaded. Now granted in the course of the last ten years I may have lost a few cool points because instead of helping the youth escape from their own parents, I am now the parent myself, but I think there is more to consider.

At that party as we were playing games and hanging out, those cell phones and MP3 players were present. You could be in the midst of a conversation with a young person and they would be half listening to you and busy sending text messages to someone else at the same time. Another young person would sit off in a corner listening to their music and never entering in to the group or activity, or quitting if it becomes any kind of challenge and just retreat back into solitude. I've seen it with my own children, we'll all be together as a family, headed out to lunch or to church and Jake would be test messaging a friend, Ethan is playing his gameboy, Victoria has her CD player playing in her ear. We're all together, it's family time, and yet each of my children has disengaged from each other and from me and Neal.

Cell phones have gone from the status of luxury to necessity. Everyone has one. I've stood in grocery lines where the customer doesn't even interact with the teller beyond handing them cash because they are in the midst of a telephone conversation. Have you ever been walking through a store or such and thought someone said something to you only to realize they have a bluetooth in their ear? Suddenly you're embarrassed and uncomfortable because you've interrupted them? Where has common courtesy and the art of niceties and polite conversation gone? No wonder more and more stores seem to be moving towards self-checkout lines. We complain customer service has gone by the wayside, but what about the courtesy of the customer?

Don't get me wrong, I see the value of something like a cell phone. We gave Jake one the Christmas he was in 7th grade. At an age where he is growing in freedoms in a world that simply is not as safe as it used to be (especially in Southern California), there is benefit to being able to reach him. He walks a couple miles home from school each day, I want to know he's on his way and made it safe. It has it's purpose. But my daughter told me the other day about her classmate who has a cell phone - she's in the first grade! What purpose could that have?

I think back to that family on the street. They were completely together in the physical sense, and completely separated in every way that mattered. How can we touch hearts and impact lives if face to face communication is completely hindered by modern technology. How can we capture the hearts of our young people if we can't even fully capture their attention? I think whenever Jake has another party, I'll collect cell phones at the door the way they used to collect keys at parties where alcohol was served.

I think first and foremost we have to set an example ourselves. I challenge you, next time your cell phone rings while you're in line at the store or while you're talking to one of your children, push the "ignore" button, complete your conversation or transaction, and thereby relaying to that person, they matter, they are valuable to you. Next time you're chatting with a girlfriend and that text message tone comes along, let it sit, wait for a moment and don't immediately disengage from the conversation to respond. Show people they matter.

I'm guilty too, but I saw what I saw and it made me stop and think. Let's put down the cell phones, turn them off at home, leave them in the car at the store. Let's have our kids put them away for the night when they get home. Isn't that the beauty of voice mail? And not just the cell phones, but the iPods and the gameboys, instead of disengaging, let's unplug! Stop and think next time, am I invested, in the people and situation around me? If I'm not, what message am I sending? And I don't mean a text.

Can you hear me now?

Monday, September 29, 2008


I've obviously made no secret of my struggles of late. I practically wear myself out (I was going to say wear myself thin, but let's be honest).

I am tired and weary. Being the mom of three active kids is busy and exhausting. I try to be wise, limit them each to a single activity, for the most part. Despite that, just the sheer fact that there are three make it busy. There is karate, soccer, gymnastics, driving and drop off to two schools, homework with the little ones, playing warden to the big one. We're in two new schools, still adjusting to new ground. Everything is harder (you have no idea how complicated 1st and 2nd grade math has become.) Any memory I have of high school algebra or biology is LONG gone (and I was never very good at biology anyway.)

I have a husband to help and tend to, a home to care for (and boy is that lacking severely.) And I am often overwhelmed with worry and concern about the struggles of my kids, their education, social life, etc., etc. We have bills to pay, debt to clear, lists of "things to do" around the house. I want to serve in my church (do I even do that anymore?) and support my husband in his ministry and keep my kids involved as well. As wife and mom, I feel like the hub of the mechanism of our family. Though I'm not sure if that's the right analogy since I feel more like I am revolving around them, than they around me!

All the while I am in a process with the Lord. He's doing a work in me and in my relationship with my oldest son. It's a good work, but a hard work at times, even exhausting. I've shared the struggles of parenting a teen before. (Here and here.)

I'm sitting here now as I write this listening to worship on my MP3 player because it's like an aid to reach up and call to the Lord. Sometimes I can't even pray for myself, but I listen to these words other people have written and I just agree and say to the Lord, "yes, that's how I feel."

Right now I am listening to a modern version of the old hymn Jesus I Come

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come;
Into Your freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come;
Out of my sickness, into Your health,
Out of my want and into Your wealth,
Out of my sin and into Yourself,
Jesus, I come, I come.
Out of my shame, my failure and loss,
I lay it down at the foot of Your cross,
Out of my selfishness, wanting and greed,
Lord I will follow wherever You lead,
Lord I am thirsty,
Lord I am down on my knees,
And through all of the valleys,
Your word is spoken to me,
You are my Shepherd
All I want and I need
Jesus, I come...

It goes on, but I'm not that good of a typist. It's so incredible when a song or poem is written and it so accurately describes how you are feeling.

Lord I am thirsty, Lord I am down on my knees...

I can feel myself at a crossroads. There are changes God wants to make. Some He has been patient with me for a long time. And it's not that He's lost patience with me, more like I've lost patience with myself. I want out of the bondage, sorrow and night.

Today as I sat upstairs at the gym while Victoria was in class I had my earphones in, listening to worship and I read a little out of a book I'm reading called "Extreme Pursuit: Winning the Race for the Heart of Your Son." Then I took my bible out. I had asked a couple friends to suggest something to read because I just didn't know where to start. One of them suggested Psalm 37. It's one of my very favorite Psalms, one I've read maybe a hundred times. I have lots of favorite verses in it that I've quoted many times, but today a different couple verses caught my eye.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. Psalm 37:8-9

There are two different portions here that really struck me. First, "do not fret—it leads only to evil." It just really struck me, that fretting is sin. So, if you have read this blog before, you know I went to the dictionary. The primary definition says, to fret is "to feel or express worry, annoyance, discontent, or the like." That's what I thought it meant. But the 2nd definition has given me a lot to ponder. It says, to fret is "to cause corrosion; gnaw into something." And suddenly I realized that the corrosion my fret causes is both in my faith and my relationship with the Lord... "it only leads to evil."

The second portion that spoke to me was this, "those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land." My victory comes from where my hope is. Ok, a given, and an antidote for the fretting. If my hope is in Him, and not in what I am seeing, feeling or experiencing, then I will not be anxious, worried or discontent. (I know, some of you reading this are probably thinking, "Duh!" But it was an illuminating moment for me.) So, not only this, the cure for what ails me, but the answer for my concerns over my children. My new prayer for them is not that they would be rescued from some experience or spared some trial, but rather that they also would "hope in the Lord," so that they would inherit the promised land the Lord has for them. What a powerful thought!

So perhaps this has seemed like Christianity 101 for many of you reading this (are there even many?) but it's a crossroad for me, one where I hope to make the right turn in the road and move forward with a new understanding and greater conviction.

Lord may this be an encouragement for someone, and not just more nakedness for me. Be blessed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Movie Review - Fireproof (w/ Addendum)

Yesterday a fun bunch of girlfriends and I all met at Stadium Century 25 theaters to check out the new new movie Fireproof that opened this weekend.

There were 13 of us altogether (if you read this before - oops), and if I understood the consensus it received a solid 26 thumbs up.

This movie was made by the same church, yes I said church, that made Facing the Giants back in 2006. Both movies were made entirely with a volunteer cast and crew and by church support and donations. This time it did have known actor, Kirk Cameron, starring in the lead role of Caleb, the fireman. I aways liked Kirk, even way back to his 80's sitcom days starring in Growing Pains, but in this movie he really displays his ability well to perform dramatic acting.

The rest of the cast also did very well. You may have to settle in for a few minutes and overlook that these are not classically trained actors, but if you give yourself a few minutes and overlook some slight overacting, you will find yourself caught up in the story of Caleb and Katherine, a young married couple who find themselves in a "marriage burning down." I think some folks might even sense a few moments that hit a little too close to home.

The girls and I sat in 2 rows to see the movie and I could hear the majority of them who were in the back row sniffling a lot, it's definitely a 2 hankie movie, but it also had some cute moments of comic relief. I endorse this movie wholeheartedly and encourage anyone, no EVERYone, to go see it. On top of a terrific human story, it wonderfully shares the truth of the gospel message in the midst of it, and it will touch your heart. If you'd like to see a clip you can go to my family website here. Oh, but by the way, NO, it's not just a chick flick! But it would be a great date movie. Guys, I guarantee lots of extra credit and gold relationship stars if you take your wives to see it!

Addendum: I ran into a man at our church at the theater when we saw this, and at services the next day I asked him what he thought. He said he thought it was GREAT and really liked the ACTION scenes. It was a double date for him and his wife with another couple and he said that husband really liked it too, so 4 out of 4 "man" thumbs up!