Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's o.k. to die, but it's not o.k. to keep silent.

Our pastor taught a pretty darned good sermon Wednesday night about Stephen and martyrdom. I tried real hard not to listen, for reasons i choose not to mention...but something he said pierced me through. "Death is an option, but silence is not."

Monday, December 01, 2008

Home is Where the Heart Is

I haven’t been this excited about anything in a long time, as I am about Christmas this year. While the deepest desire of my heart is just to have my chicks at home under my wing for Christmas, ALL my chicks at MY HOME, that is…sometimes we just have to chuck it and go for what works. Since Kari and Danny live 20 hours east and Ash and Nick live 18 hours north, and none of them have vacation time or resources to drive/fly home for 3-4 days-- we decided to meet somewhere more central to everyone. So we are spending Christmas in the smoky mountains!!! Sevierville, Tennessee, to be exact (and that, by the way, is pronounced by the natives as SA – VEER- VUL). Weird, huh?

So the plans include packing up all our worldly possessions and moving to a cabin in the smokies for Christmas week. On the agenda is cutting a tree and decorating with ribbons and cranberries, a nighttime trolley ride to look at billions of lights in Gatlinburg during their “Winterfest”, hiking in Cades Cove (please please let us see a bear…), an afternoon of geocaching in the smokies, hugging on the grandkids, a Christmas eve service at a local church, Christmas movies, family Christmas worship, family game night, and the most creative gift exchanges we could come up with. We are using themes for our gift exchanges and making or buying $2 gifts that can be kept or stolen. (The first night, something red. The second night, something that begins with the letter “m”, and the last night, something fun/funny.)

I heard a very wealthy man a very long time ago talk to a group of struggling young married couples about what was really important in life. As impassioned as he could be, he stated simply…make good memories. I’m in!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Still, and always, Thanksgiving!

Donald Kampfhenkel’s favorite word in the Bible was “manifold.” Donald taught a Sunday School class of about twelve little two-year old girls (boys were in short supply that year) at the first little church where I served as preschool minister. They loved Mr. Donald, my little red-headed Ashley among them, as evidenced by the fact that every time I walked by the room and peeked in there were at least two or more of them in his lap, or sitting by him at the table, or listening intently to a book he was reading, or building a block tower beside him in the block center. I always wondered why manifold was his favorite word in the Bible, but figured it was something manly, because he worked on cars and air conditioners. I think they have manifolds in them, or so I’ve heard. Or perhaps he understood 1 Peter 4:10, about employing his gifts, and serving, and therefore being a steward of the manifold grace of God.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness” is one of my favorite thanksgiving hymns. I know it’s not specifically written for our American Thanksgiving Holiday, but what greater blessing do we have than His great faithfulness?! And knowing His complete providence? I also like it because it reminds me of Donald Kampfhenkel and what an amazing preschool teacher he was to twelve little two-year old girls way back when…

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Still, and always thankful…

P.S. “Manifold” means many and varied, multiple, diverse.

Friday, November 14, 2008

my fave photos from a week with the grandbabies

1. Kari and Elli
2. Titus, in his ever-present shades, with his favorite new birthday toy -- a garbage truck from great granny
3. Duane, Titus, and Jorge the toddler scarecrow
4. Kari and Titus, in his fireDAWG pajamas
5. Miss Elli- big eyes and mop of hair
6. Titus being sad that Granny has to fly back to Texas

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I heartily endorse PromisedLand Cinnamon Vanilla 2% milk.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

See for yourself

Just in case you were wondering
who Elli looks like.....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Documentary

This is my husband, Duane. Doesn't he look dashing sporting his newly scruffy facial hair grown during the "no electricity" days of Hurricane Ike? I really like it. I think he looks sort of cute and dignified. And anyways, he's probably going to need it this winter to help him stay warm, as we keep hearing old wives tales that after a bad hurricane you have an extra cold winter...which for Houston could mean we drop into the 30's or something.

But back to the documentary. And one last hurricane story.

We were going into day ten without power, and it was getting warmer. Well, to be honest, it was back to normal - hot and muggy. I was getting out of the shower and Duane was relaxing in bed watching TV (our morning treat, thanks to the generator cord stretching through our bedroom window.) On the tv was a black cat that looked strangely like our Edgar (see post from Wednesday, September 24) and all these crabs walking out of the sea and up the beach. The following conversation ensued:
Me: "What are you watching?"
Duane: "A documentary."
Me: "It's in Spanish. You don't speak Spanish!"
Duane: "Oh."
Ten days without power can make you crazy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Think I'm Done With Hurricanes

What i really learned from Ike (taken from a very funny email, but most actually verified by personal experience):

1. Frozen pizzas can actually be made on the BBQ grill

2. No matter how many times you flick the switch, lights don't work without electricity

3. The Astros can't beat the Cubs in Milwaukee, especially on two hours sleep (Thanks for ruining our playoff chances, Bud Selig!)

4. He who has the biggest generator wins

5. Kids can survive longer than four days without a video controller in their hands

6. Walking around your home in the dark should be a new Olympic sport

7. When required, a Lincoln Continental can float. Doesn't steer well, but floats just the same

8. Your water front property can quickly become someone else's fishing hole

9. Crickets can increase their volumn to overcome the sound of 14 generators

10. If my store sold only ice, chain saws, gas, and generators...i'd be rich

11. Tree service companies are greatly underappreciated

12. People will get into a line that has already formed without having any idea what the line is for

13. There are a lot more stars in the sky than most people thought

14. There are a lot of freakin' trees around here

before and after clean up

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Chronicles of Hurricane Central, Still Continued

Part Three: Random things about hurricanes that I never thought about before and random things that happened because of the hurricane

1. Two days after the hurricane, I finally saw a few birds again. Where do birds go in a hurricane anyways?
2. You can tell who the people are who don't have power yet. They have "hurricane hair"...a little flatter than the normal blow-dried coiffure.
3. You can’t buy baking soda in a single grocery store in Houston. And you need baking soda, because everything starts stinking after a while…like the drains and the musty insides of empty refrigerators and freezers that have lost a load of food to spoilage.
4. It takes twice as long to get anywhere after a hurricane, because none of the traffic signal lights are working and every intersection has to be treated like a four way stop. Trust me, it's dangerous to drive in Mexico without traffic lights, but it's MORE dangerous to drive in Houston without them.
5. My climbing rose bush was blown totally over on one side of the fence. And it never came back to the other side. Weird.
6. If i paid a kid a nickle for every pine cone he picked up in my yard, i could fund his college education.
7. I am dreaming a lot. Haven’t really dreamed like this in years. Of course since we didn't have power we went to bed about 8:30 – 9:00 when it got dark so we were getting a deeper and longer rest.
8. Oak is definitely heavier than pine. And pecan wood smells good. This was noticed after dragging tree limbs around the yard for a while.
9. It is well with my soul.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Chronicles of Hurricane Central Continued

Part Two: The Cat

This is Edgar. He's the best mouser we've ever had. I think it's because he's inherently evil and likes to kill things....be it a wiggling foot or some other REAL threat.

The world as Edgar knows it was turned upside down by IKE. We found him hiding in the laundry room, behind the washer (no small feat), and he actually scaled the back of the washing machine to escape. It took him two full days to get the nerve to actually go outside, before Duane finally booted him out the front door. Where he sat firmly on the front porch and refused to budge.

Until a rat ran by.

Let's just say he recovered nicely.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Chronicles of Hurricane Central: After the Tempest

Part One: Tranquility in the tempest

A synonym for hurricane is tempest. The antonym for tempest is tranquility or serenity. I like being able to combine tranquility and tempest. I think it says something important about your core.

Another synonym for tempest is brouhaha. I like “brouhaha” because you can’t really say it without laughing, and you can’t really live through a hurricane without being able to laugh, as well. I wish I could find a “b” word that means the same as tranquility to combine with brouhaha, so I could use the word brouhaha and alliterate the title of this post, but I can’t find one. We can try “Bradycardia in the Brouhaha.” Bradycardia is a medical term for a very slow heartbeat, which in our case would mean we were absolutely very very tranquil…

In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 13, Hurricane Ike, a Catagory 2 hurricane, made a direct hit on Galveston, Texas. Though we are in Northwest Houston, we are only 62 miles from Galveston. The winds came through Houston at breakneck speed. We lost power about 1:30 a.m. We didn’t wake up until we started hearing the roof creaking and moaning at about 2:30. I got up and looked out at the trees whipping around in the wind, but since neither Duane or I have a spirit of fear, I crawled back in bed next to him and went back to sleep. Once he mentioned something sounded like doors slamming, but we decided it was just limbs hitting the roof and rolling off.

I don’t think Duane ever got up, what could he do, after all? Neither the winds nor the waves obey him… so at first light, about 6ish, we crawled out of bed to see what was still standing.

Since we’ve been without power or internet for ten days, the next few days I will catch you up on life in the city, post- Ike. But first, we want to give honor to the Father for the mercies He showered on us through the storm. Let’s just call them Hurricane Mercies:

1. We lost power, but we never lost water. You can handle a lot, if you can still flush the toilet and take a shower at night.

2. There was no damage to the house, except maybe a little leak in the breakfast room. All the trees fell away from the house.

3. We were kept safe.

4. Sunday afternoon, one day into “no power”, our neighbor’s dad came from Austin with the last two gas generators in town. We had $760 cash on hand to purchase the generator off his truck.

5. With no power, even if there is gas you are unable to pump it. Gas lines were long because so few stations had power and were open. But we were always able to find gas when we needed it.

6. Duane had cold milk even after two days without power. (he loves his cold milk.)

7. We didn’t lose the muscadine juice I had frozen for future batches of muscadine jelly.

8. We were kept from fear.

9. Our phone worked all day Saturday, during the storm and for 24 hours afterwards before it died. We were able to touch base with and check on our friends/family.

10. We could always text, even if cell phones didn’t work.

11. The first cool front of the season came through the day after Ike, so we didn’t have the usual September temperatures in the 90’s. It was in the high 70’s all week, from Sunday until the next Saturday. People would have gotten hostile, if it had been hot.

12. There were no mosquitoes from the Saturday Ike hit til the next Sunday. NO MOSQUITOES. And I mean no mosquitoes, in Houston, in September, after a hurricane.

13. Talked to, worked alongside, broke bread, and visited with neighbors, previously unknown.

14. We were still able to minister to those around us. Duane felt led to start an ICE ministry in the neighborhood. He got people with generators to freeze ice for people without generators. Every day at 5:00 he went around and picked up ice from neighbors to deliver to other neighbors so they could keep the remaining food in their ice chests cold.

That's it for now. I've gotten used to going to bed when it gets dark, and it's waaaay past my bedtime now!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

Today is September 11, 2008. This morning on television, they read the names again, so we could once again remember...as if we could ever forget. Seven years later there are still tears running down faces. Seven years later there are still children who have never met their dad. Seven years later we still shake our heads in disbelief. Seven years later we still understand that the only safe place is "in Christ".

Seven years ago, I wrote the following thoughts in the Preschool Press (my little weekly announcement page for my preschool Sunday School teachers at church). Just wanted to share them one more time, because they still ring true.

I love America. You know I do. I love everything about it, and I’m so crazy patriotic that I embarrass my kids. I unabashedly wave flags, sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the top of my lungs, vote responsibly at EVERY election, even little ones, and cry at fourth of July fireworks shows. I love all it is, all it has to offer…the pureness of being able to gulp freedom like a jug of cold water, even when it hurts...and sometimes it does. I even loved the frustration of the 2000 presidential election, as we breathlessly waited for freedom to run its full course, as it eventually did. It’s how we live. It’s who we are. It’s all we’ve ever known.

Freedom is an incredible blessing, and an incredible responsibility. I learned that afresh from listening to the limits my daughter experienced being in a Communist nation this summer. I heard the sound of the gate slamming behind her team as they entered their college campus, the sound of the loud speaker that called the students to morning calisthenics at 6:00 a.m., the sound of the blinds being quickly closed as they turned on the VCR and quietly watched the Jesus video with friends.

Freedom. America. You say them in the same breath.

This has been a week of profound sadness for us all. Our blessed America has been attacked in an inconceivable act of evil. And we have all been changed forever. We’ve experienced every emotion possible from shock and disbelief, to sadness, helplessness, emptiness, disgust, and anger. Tears just keep welling up in our eyes and rolling down our cheeks in the middle of the day without warning. However, I most deeply hurt for our children, because their America will never be the same again.

So where do we go from here? How do we live from this day forward? What do we tell our children?

Start here: Hug your kids/grandkids tight, and remember the true source of our freedom: “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” John 8:36. Then finish here: “The Lord is for me. I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6 and “Do not be afraid of those who hurt the body, but cannot hurt the soul.” Matthew 10:28 Now we know first hand, the only safe place is truly “IN CHRIST”.

Hold your head high, and live in peace. You are my precious family. And, God bless America!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Stuff

Sometimes my soul feels like a hard little dried up pebble deep down somewhere in my being. I have felt like that a lot lately. But sometimes it feels restored, moisturized, breathing, whole. I am convinced that the difference lies in embracing Psalm 20:7, "Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God."

I needed to find this little poem that Patsy Thacker gave me in college, so i started searching for it last night at 11:00. I could see in my mind the little piece of paper in her handwriting that she had torn out of a spiral notebook and i could almost remember all the words on it...but not quite. But I needed them. So I googled the phrases i could remember, and even the author, and got nothing. So i kept looking. Duane found me sitting on the bed going through my "box" , you know, the one with all the little poems and cartoons and letters and things i tore out of magazines years ago in it. It was well after midnight that i found it -- guess where? Not in my box, but filed in the file cabinet under "poems". Imagine that!

So here it is. Hopefully you can understand why i needed to find it.

Who could ask for more,
than to sit with You
in eternity
splashing like the happy laughter of a child
upon the parched sahara of yesterday
then drawing lovely whispers from the past
for a thousand years
some afternoon?

D.L. Purdy

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pray for Xiao

My friend, Xiao (pronounced like shower, without the “er”), has a brain tumor.

The Church met tonight to anoint him with oil, lay hands on him in prayer, and believe God for his healing. Xiao is from China. The prayers tonight, both English and Chinese, reminded me that indeed we are all one Body, we share the same Spirit, and we serve one God …the Most High God, the God who heals. How powerful, the voices of the saints, lifted to the Father on the behalf of His servant, Xiao. Alleluiah.

Pray for Xiao. Pray in faith. Spread the word.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Meet Elli, Granddaughter extraordinare'

Eliana Ruth Breed was born June 21, 2008 at 3:40 a.m. approximately 12 hours after Vacation Bible School was cleaned up and put away. She weighed in at 6 pounds, 6 ounces and sports a mop of black hair with several problematic cowlicks. After an initial bout of jaundice and a few days in a warm, blue, glowing, fiber optic billi-blanket (we called her our little blue light special), Elli is doing well. Welcome to the world, little Elli! You are loved already!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Slight Conundrum

I have a slight little problem. (see photo) That is Daughter #1 with grandbaby #2. Kari is taking herself off of bedrest to go to dinner with her wonderful husband to celebrate their fifth anniversary on June 14. She is also celebrating the completion of 36 weeks of her pregnancy on June 15. (We are confident that baby Elli will arrive whole and complete and safe and sound now.) I am eagerly awaiting a phone call to hop a plane and fly to Raleigh once the baby comes.
Oh yeah, the slight problem??? Vacation Bible School starts for me on June 16. VBS is one of the biggest events of the year in my line of business, as big as Easter Sunday times five.
So where do you think i'll be next week?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Only in Texas

Tonight at Fajita Willies while we were eating dinner, a little league team came in mass to the restuarant after their game. All the kids looked so spiffy. The season has just begun, they were sporting brand new uniforms, and were so proud! When they turned around, my son Jeff, started to chuckle and said, "Look at their sponsor, Mom." Written across the back of their uniforms was: CHICO'S BAIL BONDS -- Let Freedom Ring!

Yeah, only in Texas...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wedding Wrap

April 8, 2008

So when Ashley was five, she went to a wedding with me because I told her they would have cake. She wiggled and fidgeted and squirmed a good part of the ceremony until she finally turned to me and whispered, “At MY wedding, we’re having the cake FIRST!” Imagine my surprise when we entered the church last Saturday and the girls in the house party were handing out programs and little containers of cake!

It’s hard for a parent to put into words, but after 27 years of praying for this day…it only seemed “right”. It was a covenant – it was simple, it was prayerful, it was worship, it was celebration. In the middle of the service, Nick picked up Ashley’s hands and gently kissed them. They wrote their own vows and promised each other, “I will never leave.” The “wedding feast” followed the covenant ceremony, and as Ashley danced with her dad she also wiped the tears from his eyes.

The wedding is over, and the marriage has just begun. God has been both gracious and merciful to us, and we rejoice!
For a sneak preview of more wedding pictures, go to http://nicklovesashley.com/

Friday, March 28, 2008

One Week and Counting

I think this is going to be a three massage wedding.

I had one last Friday.
I had one today.
I will have one after i get back from my daughter's April 5 wedding.

Have i told you lately about my new best friend, Jeany, at Waiting to Exhale Day Spa? Her massages are absolutely to die for. Better even than the one I had in Costa Rica, where they plastered me with hot volcanic mud and when it dried, i ran through the woods "neckked" and bathed in the hot steamy water of a stream flowing from the volcano as i washed it off. (I didn't really run neckked through the woods. I had a towel on. It just sounds more daring to say it.) At any rate, Jeany beats Costa Rica hands down.

Ahhh.... I am so relaxed. I think I am ready.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The song, Before the Throne, by Shane Banard states the astonishing:

Because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free,
For God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me.

Happy Easter.
He is risen, indeed.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Fierce Love and a Tender Compassion

March 1, 2008.
My son’s little cat died. Jeff is now 21, Ziggy was 108 (in cat years, that is.) She had been a member of the family since Jeff was, oh, about five-and-a-half.

Ziggy was a sweet little thing. Smart, too. She would knock on the front door when she wanted to come in, somehow popping her claws on the beveled glass to get our attention. She loved nothing better than a sunny spot to curl up in, except maybe a place to sleep on Jeff’s bed beside him.

I sort of knew it was coming, so I asked him last week what he would want me to do, hypothetically, if Ziggy died. I knew he had college mid-terms coming up, and I didn’t want him to be sad or distracted and unable to study, or to rush home and miss tests, or make a poor decision based on emotions, or something like that. All he said was that he would like to see her again, his little Ziggy.

So I couldn’t find her Thursday when I got home from work about dark. She hadn’t wandered past the patio or back yard in years, not since she lost one eye a few years back.
Friday morning I got up early to look for her again and finally found her in the back corner of the back yard, curled up against the fence. Brought her inside and made her comfy on some towels in the laundry room, then called Jeff.

“I think if you want to see Ziggy, you’d better come on home after class.” So he did.

When he got home, he lay down on the floor beside her and grieved over her. Then he moved her little pallet into the den so he could stay with her and he never stopped petting her or talking to her until she died the next morning at 1 a.m.

He was so sweet and loved her so fiercely. Not even his pain took him away from her. He wasn’t ashamed to cry. We talked through the stages as her breathing changed and her body prepared for imminent death. He gave her permission to quit struggling. After she died, he picked her up and held her a while.
I want Jeff with me when I die.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My New Best Friend, Jeany

How cool is it to have a massage therapist who covers you with a warm blanket then prays over your relaxed body and soul when she is finished. (In Houston, try Waiting to Exhale Day Spa.)