National Day of Prayer

Since I posted yesterday about Maggie, I did not post my prayer in recognition of the National Day of Prayer that was yesterday.  I did put it on Facebook, but wanted to put it here too.

Thank you, God, for all of your good and perfect gifts. Often we are so overwhelmed by the circumstances in our life that we forget to say “thank you”. I woke up today…so did Jeff, and Ella, and my mom and dad…so did my brother and sister-in-law…so did Jeff’s family here and away from us. Thank you for our blessings. Thank you for the breath of life.

God, I ask you now for a personal thing – one that others may scoff at or find unimportant – Please watch over my Maggie. She’s never been sick like she was last night and all this morning. Please watch over Dr. Taylor and his staff as they work to find the source of her trouble. She’s the only dog in the world I’ve ever liked (much less loved) and she’s been my buddy for all 10 years of her life. I know it seems trivial when I have a perfect little girl sleeping just down the hall, but there it is…please watch over my dog.

God, please watch over all those around me who are hurting, sick, lost, and in need of you. Please watch over Hailey Shupe (my cousin) in Iraq along with all others who are serving.

Please be with those in leadership of our country, Lord. Oftentimes we feel as though the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket. Help us to stop trusting in others and trust in YOU. So long as our trust, hope, faith, and devotion are in YOU FIRST, you will take care of us.

Please be with those in leadership at the church. Help them to feel your hand on them as they make decisions. Help them not to lay blame or to point fingers. Help the hurts to heal, God. Be with Daddy as he holds the spiritual heart of the church in his hands. Let him speak healing words to us. Be with those who have/are departing from us, God. Bless their way…lead them in your ways…

Thank you for the church family you have given me throughout my life. I have oftentimes seen it as a curse, but I am finding my way again, God. Thank you for the blessings and trials that come with being the preacher’s kid.

God you are awesome and I worship you today – a day of prayer. Help me to do your will as I go forward from this moment. Help me bring peace to those around me. Help me to be your hands, your feet, your arms, your hands. Thank you for the opportunity to serve for you. I love you.

In Jesus’ Name…Amen.

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Maggie Maybell

I got Maggie around the end of March/beginning of April in 2000.  She was tiny and cute and called Checkers.  I adopted her through an organization called Angel Dogs.  They told me that she was a mix of beagle and walker hound and that a hunter dropped off the mixed puppies because they only wanted pure breeds to hunt with.  I had never owned a dog a liked.  I remember two from childhood – a female lab who always ran away so we gave her to some friends who had property and a farm and a male cockapoo who was pretty tempermental and kinda mean.  So Maggie is the first dog I’ve ever actually liked.

She turned 10 on February 21 of this year.  She’s my first “kid” ever.  And I adore her.

So the last 24 hours has been really rough.  At 9:30 last night, Maggie threw up.  I’m sure she’s thrown up before, but this seemed odd.  At 10:30 she hacked all of her dinner on the floor at the foot of my bed.  At 1:00 a.m. she’d thrown up about 4 times in the living room – one of which was huge and a dark brown color.  She got sick again a couple times and we finally put her outside around 5 a.m.  At 6:30 a.m. she finally drank some water and then by 7:30 it was all up too.  I was afraid, but not sure what I could do…it wasn’t obvious what was actually wrong.  No evidence of anything she’d eaten in the yard…
At 8:45 I called the vet and got us an 11:15 appointment.  I called Jeff to work out our schedule.
Ella had her 18 month old check up at 9:30 so I needed to get to that first.  That went well – three shots and impressing the staff with her verbal and social skills.
Jeff got home at 10:30 and I got home with Ella right after him.  We unloaded the Target groceries and I covered the back section of my car to transport Maggie to the vet.
At 11:20 Dr. Taylor (the owner of the vet) came in to see Maggie – who had barely had enough energy to walk to the car, or into the vet, or even to the exam room.  He was worried enough and immediately had them set up for x-rays.  No blockages that he could see, but he was concerned that it seemed she had not gone to the bathroom (#2).  So he decided he was going to keep her for the rest of the day – overnight – and most of the day tomorrow.  She’s in a cage, hooked up to IVs, and alone when she’s usually asleep near my feet as I watch t.v. and then asleep on her bed next to mine.  I did run the sweatshirt I’d been sleeping in and one of her favorite stuffed animals up to the vet, but didn’t go see her because I had Ella with me and I think she would’ve been upset and not able to understand.
So I’m really upset tonight…I’m afraid it is more than just something minor.  I’m tired from getting up throughout the night to clean up after her (Jeff did a few of those too).  I’m snippy and short and have a bad attitude.
I just want her home with ME.  It just stinks.  I’m sad.  I want my dog to be okay.
Okay – just needed to vent.  Thanks…

Lovin for a year and being a PK (books)

Oh, blog, I’ve missed you…have you missed me?

I’m not sure what has been up with me, but I haven’t had many thoughts I felt like sharing with the universe (or the 5 people who read this…see followers).  I don’t know why, but I haven’t found myself to be all that interesting in the last almost month.  I don’t count that last post (4/29) since it was to win a book I didn’t win.  Oh well…

Books….I’ve read some interesting ones as of late.  One of my latest faves is called 365 Nights: A Memior of Intimacy by Charla Muller.  It was WONDERFUL!  I know – a book about sleeping with your husband every day for a year?  Crazy!
It seemed to me like an impossible task so I was intrigued to read about how the author pulled off this “gift” for her husband’s 40th birthday.  Ladies – you need to read this book…especially if you’re a mom.  I related to Charla on many levels (even that whole calling the ex-boyfriend story), but especially how she felt about sex as a MOM.  Oh my, how life changes when a tiny one enters the story…
I will say this to you – there is not a lot of details about the actual act of her gift.  There are lots of stories with nothing to do with s-e-x.  But by the end of the book I realized that I had been failing my dear husband as a wife.  I think I’m getting good at the mom thing, but the “wife” role took a major backseat and I’m now working to fix that issue (no details, to your relief).
The gals in book club had mixed reactions.  I’ll put it out there that if you’re a newlywed, you probably won’t glean much from it except dread for the future.  If you’re not a mom yet, again – dread for the future.  But those of us who are out of that honeymoon phase of our relationship/marriage AND have at least one little one in the house, this book inspired me.  It gave me hope that I CAN be a great mom and a great wife.

If you order it from the website (click on the book name above), you can also get the Bible Study…which I wish I had done.  It would be an interesting Women’s Study to do at church.  Maybe next Spring…

Next up on my list?  A book called “I Have To Be Perfect (And Other Parsonage Heresies)” by Timothy L. Sanford.  The description on the cover says, “The Preacher’s Kid’s Manual of the Holy Heresies You May Have Grown Up With and How to Find Your Way Back to the Truth”.
If you know me, you know that I’m a preacher’s kid.  I have been for 27 of my 32 years in life.  Had I been asked if I wanted to be a PK (knowing what I know now) I would probably have said no.  I haven’t always enjoyed being a PK and lately it has been the worst it has ever been.  I have recently been longing to reach out to other PKs and share, support, and whine together.
I’m thinking about starting a blog about being a Preacher’s Kid (still no catchy name yet) and was looking around on the web to see what was out there.  While surfing, I stumbled upon PKI, Preacher’s Kid’s International.  I joined and haven’t checked out the whole site, but did find the above book.  So I ordered it right away.  It arrived today and I’m looking forward to digging in.
Here are the “Four Holy Heresies About the World”:
1. “I Have to Be Perfect”
2. “I Can Ruin My Dad’s Ministry”
3. “Other People’s Needs Are More Important Than My Own”
4. “I’m Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t”

I’m hooked already!  I’ll have to post about it, but it may be on my new blog about being a PK – if I ever come up with a catchy name.  I wanted to do “The Preacher’s Kid”, but there is a dumb movie coming out with that name so I’m not sure now about using it…

Anyway – that is what has been floating around in my brain lately…

Ella is doing great.  She had a great play day at the park yesterday afternoon with Granny Mac, Pop, Mr. Pete Thacker, and Mrs. Joyce Thacker.  Talk about one spoiled kid…FIVE adults playing with her!  She had a blast and I’m pretty sure Daddy and Pete had as much fun (if not more than) as Ella did:


Living to the fullest or overfilling your life?

I was directed to a blog by a friend via facebook.  They are giving away a book called “Not So Fast” and to enter you have to leave a comment (done), post on your facebook (done), and post on your blog (almost done).
Here is the link to the site: Walk Slowly, Live Wildly “Not So Fast” Giveaway

If you follow my blog, you know that I haven’t posted in nearly 20 days.  Why?  Not sure…I just haven’t had anything to write about.  Until today.

I promised (kinda) a blog about my friend Amanda and was intending to do that last Thursday, April 22 for her birthday.  I’ve discovered I’m not ready to go there.  I have a book that I bought for her son, Alastair, in the days following Amanda’s death and I have planned on writing in the cover to him about his mom.  I’ve started that letter a million times in my head, but have yet to put a single word on paper.  I’m hoping to do it by Mother’s Day (yes, I know…that is close).  If I can do it, I’ll share excerpts of it here.

For today, I want to write about overscheduled kids.  Now, I can honestly say that I was NOT an overscheduled kid.  (My definition of overscheduled does not include regular church meetings or even church choir.  Those are connected to God and I feel that they are most important.  I’m talking about the other stuff.)  I was at church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.  And I had choir on Sunday afternoon.  I did miss the sermon once a year for cheering competition (we left after communion) and I did miss church after my junior and senior prom.  I’m sure I missed other times too, but it was rare.  I even went to church the morning after prom my sophomore year even though I didn’t get home until 6 a.m.  I missed Sunday School, but I was in a pew at 11:00.  Why? To prove I could do it.  Me and my “miss perfect” self didn’t understand why the older kids always missed church the day after prom.  I’d go on and on to my mom about how awful I thought that was.  So – on the day of my first prom (10th grade) mom reminded me of my griping and asked if I was going to be “one of those” kids.  I said no – and dragged myself to church the next day.  I sat in church that day and prayed to God to forgive my judgemental attitude.  I proceeded to sleep through church the two following years (sorry, God, I did go Sunday night, though).

Oh yes…overscheduled kids…

I have a hard time with kids missing out on youth activities because they play a different sport every season and have so many extracurriculars that they can’t darken the church doors outside of Sunday morning (unless there is a soccer game).  I think this is why youth groups currently struggle…everyone is so busy practicing and playing in other areas that they don’t have time for Sunday night or Wednesday night youth group.

I also think it is crazy that so many parents and kids are eating in their cars nearly every night because they are shuttling between school/work/practice/etc to another practice.  Kids struggle to get homework done because that isn’t part of their daily afterschool schedule.  I’ve even heard parents say to the preacher on Sunday morning, “Little Joe isn’t here today because he has a big project due this week and this morning is the only time he had to work on it.”  Why?  He has sports stuff all day Saturday and then maybe even a date Saturday night.  What is happening Sunday afternoon?  Oh, a friend’s birthday party?  So his spiritual feeding was the only thing that could be sacrificed?

I know – I’m ranting.  Please refer me back to this page before I enroll Ella in anything.  Eating my words my be a good lesson, but this is one lesson I want to learn from others and avoid for Ella.  For now, we’re happy with a few relaxing playdates a week (most are free of charge and we pack a lunch).  Nope – I don’t do Romp N Roll or other toddler classes.  I can’t rationalize spending the money on those things…what if we’re having an off day and don’t feel like going?  I know people who do, and I promise I’m not judging you.  I learned that lesson at 16 with that prom weekend.

We do have a time reserved on Monday for me to attend Bible Study (they have cheap childcare with two excellent ladies).  But since Wednesday night church bumps up to bedtime, this is my additional study time.  Once Ella is old enough not to crash at night church, we’ll be there.

I am guilty of the overscheduled adult life.  I’ll admit that here and now.  We used to have plans every Friday night, daytime Saturday, Saturday night, going out to lunch after church on Sunday and occasionally getting together with friends on Sunday night.  By the time Monday morning rolled around we were exhausted and heading off to work.

Then came Ella…
Now I love to get up on Saturday morning and chill out (some weeks I go to yardsales)…then it is home for lunch and naptime.  Once she’s up from nap, Jeff usually comes up with a great family activity – the zoo, Lewis Ginter, Bryan Park, etc – and we head out to play together.
That one afternoon nap is a beautiful thing.  It forces us to be home for 3-4 hours in the afternoon every day.  I read, play on the computer, clean, or (very rarely) sleep.  Somedays we go no where – and stay in jammies all day long.
I hope I can keep us from the overscheduled life.  I don’t want to look back and wondered what happened to my time with Ella.

Thanks, Laura, for directing me to “Walk Slowly, Live Wildly“.  I’m going to keep finding inspiration there.

A Night Out and IN Without the Bean

It started with a simple question, “Hey mom, do you think you could babysit Friday night so Jeff and I can go out to dinner?”  I hadn’t even asked Jeff if we wanted a date night (we’d just had one last Thursday thanks to his mom, Nana).  Her response?  “Love to!  Or, you can drop Ella off here for the night and pick her up Saturday morning sometime.”  WHAT?

So I sent Jeff a message – “Hey hon – want to go out to dinner tonight? Mom said she and dad would keep Ella overnight for us.” 
His reply – “Sounds great!”  (Should’ve known then that he didn’t read all the words.)

I was picking mom up to go out to the petting zoo at Short Pump (yes- again. the kid likes animals) so on the way to get her I called Jeff to ask if he was sure…”Hon – just calling to be sure you’re ready for Ella to spend the night away from us?”  To which he replied, “SPEND THE NIGHT?”  He obviously didn’t read all the words in my earlier message.  After just a few moments of discussion we decided to go for it.

So, last night after feeding Ella dinner and getting her packed up we headed to her GrannyMac & Pop’s house to leave her for a sleepover.  It was sad to leave her – there were tears…just not hers.  And off we went for a night alone…A…L…O…N…E…with no little one to wrangle, or rock, or put to bed, or to hear on the monitor, or to wake up to.

First we went out to dinner to a fabulous place at the intersection of Robious and Huguenot Roads – Ghengis Khan Mongolian Grill.  For those of us who LOVED the Greywolf Grill, here is your place.  There are some differences:
(1) the guys at the grill aren’t funny…they don’t even speak.  the guys at greywolf talked to each other and really cracked me up when we were there.

(2) they didn’t automatically bring us more rice
(3) they don’t give you the little tortillas to wrap your goodies in to eat
But they were good!  And the bread they give you with your soup (Chinese soup choices) is AWESOME…I got more.
They aren’t the Greywolf, but they’ll at least partially filled the hole left in my tummy since it closed.
And there are fortune cookies at the end.  Mine said, “When you get something for nothing, you just haven’t been billed for it yet.”  Made me laugh.  Jeff’s said something about touching others which we made plenty of dirty jokes about.

Next, we went to Starbucks and got coffee and headed into Lowes.  Now, for those of you with toddlers/young kids – go to Lowes without them whenever you can!!!  We looked in all the kitchen cabinets for ideas of what we want to do in our kitchen remodel…we looked at paint samples…we looked at rugs…we looked for new plants we wanted.  No one cried, no one needed to be rolled around to avoid boredom and crying.  It was nice and relaxing.  I texted mom when we got there (8:30 p.m.) to be sure all had gone well getting the bean to bed.  Mom texted back, “We’re having a blast – what time is bed?”  Uh…30 minutes ago!!!  Ha ha!  They got her down around 9:00 and she slept until between 7:30-8:00 this morning.

Then, we came home – alone – without or to our kid.  Crazy, I know!  A night at our own home without our little bean…what would we do now?  Basically the same thing we would do any Friday night including watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (I have a huge celeb-crush on that man) and going to bed.  That’s all the details you get there – I know you’re thankful.

This morning, I woke up with a splitting headache (thanks, pollen) at 7 a.m.  So much for sleeping in.  I went in the kitchen, made some coffee, took a claritin and some bc, and stumbled into the living room.  While I was stumbling about, Jeff went out to get the paper.  And we SAT AND READ – both of us!  I read the entire first section interrupted!
We showered and then headed back to Lowes.  We needed to look at the paint cards in the morning light next to the brick on our house before getting samples of the two shades we want to paint outside and choose between.  Yep – we’re going to paint the outside of the house…and not green.  I’m not saying any more right now…just know that it is going to look different and I AM EXCITED!  We also bought some wood (well, something like it) for Jeff to make a jig from (jig here meaning straightedge) and a new little rug for the living room.
We took all our purchases home and got the new rug down (cleaning as we went) before heading to my parents to pick up the little one.

We wondered if she’d missed us…would she cry when she saw us?  Nope – she just wanted to show us my parents’ cat, Cricket…who we’ve met many times.  Oh well.  We hung out a bit and then brought her home for lunch and naptime.  She nearly fell asleep in the car on the way home – my parents must have worn her out!

It was a first – Ella away from both of us at one time overnight.  Or should I say, “It was a first – our first night away from Ella together.”  We missed our Bean, but it was nice to just be together.

Singing at a Funeral…

This morning on the way to Target the song I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me came on the radio.  Normally I immediately change the station, but today I put on my big girl panties and decided to listen to it.  See…I LOVE that song.  The problem is, I’ve sung it at a couple of funerals.  The last time I sang it publically was 5 years ago…on April 2, 2005…at my grandpa’s funeral.  Since that time, I can’t even listen to it.  I made it pretty far today – even singing along – almost through the entire song.  Then I fell apart and just listened to the rest.  I really meant every word of that song for my grandpa.  He was an incredible Christian man and an excellent example of love.  I knew he was dancing around on a street of gold.
Here is a picture of him with my brother Warren the Christmas before he died:
I’m so glad I took that picture.  He was living about a half mile away at an assisted living center called Chestnut Grove.  For those of you that have to make that decision in a loved ones life, we LOVED Chestnut Grove.  It was the best place in the world for my grandpa and my family.  We knew he was being well taken care of and we were able to come and go as we wanted/needed.  I had always loved my grandpa, but it was when he was living with us at home and when he was living at Chestnut Grove that we really got close.  I went over nearly every day to watch Oprie (Oprah) with him.
I’ve sung at other funerals.  Mostly for people I have been very close to.  I sang at Vess Hollenbeck’s funeral with the United Christian Church praise team.  I sang at Felix Hollenbeck’s funeral – the first time I sang I Can Only Imagine
People have asked me how on earth I can sing at funerals for people I’ve been so close to.  The secret is to have a little mental box (i.e. compartmentalize).  My mom taught me about it the first time I had to sing in a highly emotional setting.  She said, “Okay, now you’re going to take all your sadness and tears and pack them away in a little box and shove that box to the back of your head.  Then, you’re going to get up and sing.  After you sing, you can unpack that box and fall apart.”
There are other funerals, but two specifically stand out…
I sang at one of my dad’s friends’ funeral in August 2006.  His name was Jimmy Sadoski.  I had grown up just loving this man.  There are many, many stories to tell about him, but the fact that he had shared with my dad during a previous near-death experience that he wanted me to sing at his funeral just endeared me to him forever. 
One quick “Jimmy” story…when I was about 19, he was attending our church and two of our members got married.  They threw a real party that included a tent, dancing, kegs, and a fountain full of a Screwdriver.  Jimmy offered to get me some punch and about 3 glasses of punch later I was pretty sure my mom was going to kill him.  Oh, still funny today!
I have no clue what I sang at his funeral…it is not what stuck with me.  What has stuck with me is that our sanctuary at church was PACKED full of people who might not have been in church on a regular basis.  Some of the people who spoke about Jimmy were ex-cons (as he was), art students from VCU (where he got his art degree), and artists who had done shows with him.  I was last…I had to sing after all of those people talked about this man I adored.  So I packed up all that stuff I’d heard…I ignored the cries you could hear from all around the room…I went up front and sang.  When I finished, I walked off the stage, directly to the church office, sat on the floor and wept…sobbing so loudly people came to see if I was okay.
The other funeral that has had the deepest effect on me was the CELEBRATION OF LIFE service I planned and carried out last year for my friend, Amanda.  I didn’t shed a tear that day.  I sang twice and read the thoughts her husband Adrian had put on paper.  He was going to read them himself, but was unable to once standing in front of that crowd (literally the biggest crowd…standing in the hallways, some watching the service projected into another room of the church and others around the world watching online).  It is to this day the biggest thing I have ever been a part of.  And I didn’t shed a tear…all day.
I sang Amazing Grace in four part harmony with some other church members and I sang the song Remember Me by Mark Shultz.  That one gets me as badly as I Can Only Imagine, though I’ve not tried to sing it again.  My mom accompanied me on Remember Me and above our heads ran a slide show of Amanda and her then 3-year-old son Alastair.  I’m listening to it as I type and I’m now a wreck.  Bad move, Ev.
I actually just recently started to grieve Amanda.  I kept that little box packed up for a long time, but as Ella grows up and I have things I want to ask her and tell her, that box gets unpacked one thing at a time.  I heard the song playing along with a slideshow of photos recently at the funeral visitation of a friend’s mother.  My mom said, “Isn’t that the song…” I interrupted her with a quick “yes” and tried to get away from the music.  It is just hard for me to hear it because it makes me remember how sad I am that she’s not here.
I’ll admit here that I like singing at a funeral.  I am honored to part of someone’s final sendoff.  Yes, it is hard and oftentimes the song I sang becomes part of a painful memory…but it is also part of a great memory.  I’ve never sung at a funeral from someone who wasn’t a Christian.  That means that every time I’ve been part of saying goodbye to someone, I know that that person is not hurting, is not sad, is not lonely, but instead – they are partying it up with Jesus.  I thank God that I have been important enough to these people to be included in their final plans.
So why am I posting about this today?  Because I heard a song on the radio that triggered a memory.  Then, I realized the date…today is April 9, 2010.  We held a memorial for my grandpa at church sometime after his funeral in Collinsville.  I don’t remember the exact date, but I know it was close to now.  So it has just been on my mind today.  I’m not sure when/if I’ll sing at another funeral.  If I do, I hope it is no time soon. 
My message to you today – love your loved ones and tell them you love them before you’re sitting at their funeral wondering how the person singing is holding it together…