Friday, June 30, 2006

Thurs June 29

After a long day of playing & such, I was tucking everyone in tonight.  Savannah is out of town with friends, so the girls' room is a little more quiet this week.  :)  Sarah fell asleep before I ever got to the room, so I was left with just Kourtney to tuck in.  It's been a while since I got to have a nice long conversation with her, so that was fun.
Like Andrew, she wants to repeatedly hear about the day that her mom died.  I guess it's part of the grieving process to have it told & re-told.  I am not sure if they are hoping the ending will change if they ask for us to re-tell the story over & over, but whatever the reason, I told her about that sad day again.  I guess her level of grief doesn't run too deep these days, because she was babbling about something completely off the subject before I finished.  Then she started telling me about her future----
She's going to grow up, marry a boy from "Savannah's school" & have 9 babies!  I asked her if she was going to have all 9 at the same time & she said YES!  Wow, what a litter of babies to have all at once!!  She said their names would be:  Ashley, Larry, David, Frosty, Andrew, Samuel, Savannah, Sarah and Grady.  Oh, and she's going to be a ballerina teacher!  :)
What a silly girl!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

June 27 Cinnamon Rolls & Pickles

LOL!  How'd you like that title?

On Sunday, I worked & worked to get a big jar of pickles opened, but never was successful.  Later on, Larry got it opened for me.  The kids had all wanted a pickle at lunchtime, but had to miss it b/c I couldn't get the jar opened.  Fast forward two days.... This morning, after a nice hot breakfast of cinnamon rolls, Kourtney pipes up & says: "Hey!  Did you ever get the pickle jar open?".  Yes, I did.  "Can I have one??"  LOL!  I cracked up at the idea that she'd want a PICKLE after having a cinnmon roll!  The kids all decided that sounded like a good idea, so at 8:15 this morning, they were all eating cinnamon rolls & pickles.  (GAG---strange kids!)

Today we drove Savannah to Terrell to meet up with her buddies from Keller.  She went home with them & will stay there until early next week---either Sunday or Monday.  She was so excited to go!  I know they'll have a blast together....but Troy & Charlotte might need our prayers for their sanity with 4 little girls in the house!

When we came back into town, we stopped at the library to get books.  The summer reading program is a big deal in our house.  The kids read as many books as possible in about 6 or 7 weeks' time & then based on the # of pages read, they earn "library bucks" that they can use at the prize auction in August.  They have all sorts of really COOL toys & prizes, so they really enjoy this neat time of reading & being rewarded for it!  Andrew picked out 3 Star Wars chapter books to read w/ Larry.  Samuel got a Boxcar Children book & a couple of other smaller books about animals.  Sarah was anxious to find a Max & Ruby book and Kourtney picked out a couple as well.  I got a new Francine Rivers book that I haven't read yet, so I am in hog heaven myself.  (Hmm...I wonder if there is a grown-up version of the summer reading program!)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday June 25

I need a hand from all my prayer warriors.  I know there are a lot of you reading this, so here's a chance for you to jump in & help us.  Andrew needs your prayers.  Since February, he's been the one that seemed to need the most help/encouragement.  Kourtney is younger & more resilient, I suppose.  She misses her mama from time to time, but really is just such a silly, joyful little girl that I think she's rebounded well from the trauma she's been through.  Andrew, on the other hand, has more years of scarring & "stuff" to work through, so he's had a harder time adjusting to all the changes.  I know that deep down he is a good boy & wants to just feel "normal", but there is great pain & sadness in getting there.  Tonight was especially rough.

I'm not really sure what happened.  He was disappointed that he & Samuel didn't get to have "party night" tonight.  (That is where they get to watch a movie in their room w/ the little TV/DVD as a reward for cleaning their room.)  During the school year, we only do it on Fri nights, but during the summer, we do it more often.  When we walked in from church, I told the kids they had 20 minutes to clean up & whoever's room was cleanest would get to have "party night".  The girls 'won' & he got real upset & disappointed that he wouldn't get to have party night.  When he gets upset, it's like someone flipped a switch---the waterworks & sobbing moans are just heartbreaking, but he knew what he needed to do & didn't get it done.  Anyway, he was just really upset....but he's done that before & gets over it.  Sometimes the waterworks are clearly just for manipulation, but tonight, it was about more than that.
Tonight, however, it was like he just "shut down" after that.  I got the girls all set up in their room, tucked in w/ the movie going & then went to the boys' room to get them settled.  He always wants me to snuggle w/ him but when I layed down, he scooted way across the bed like he didn't want me to touch him.  He didn't say anything, just moved over.  I asked if he still wanted me to snuggle & he nodded his head.  I told him he'd have to move back over if he wanted me to snuggle.  Right about that time, Samuel hopped onto the bed & he turned with his back facing us while I told Samuel goodnight.  When Samuel went up the ladder to his bed, I turned back to Andrew & he was writing things on a piece of paper.  For the next 20 or 30 minutes, he wouldn't talk...he'd only write things.  It was clear that he needed me there, but for some reason, he couldn't articulate how he felt, so he was writing it.
I thought that tonight's sermon might've had something to do with it.  Doug's been doing a series on 1 Cor. 13 called "Overcoming Fears with Love".  Tonight he talked from his heart about the verse that says "Love always protects".  He said that when his son died several years ago, he really questioned that verse....b/c he thought it meant that God was supposed to have protected Ryan from dying.  I wondered, while he was preaching, if Andrew was really "hearing" it.  While I was talking to Andrew tonight, I asked him if that was part of it.  He wrote down that he'd liked the sermon, but didn't really seem like it effected him.  I asked him if he ever wondered why God let his mom which he wrote "yes".  We talked about that for a God has a big plan for all our lives & that sometimes allowing someone to die is a part of the big plan.  I told him that our lives are like a giant jigsaw puzzle & sometimes, all we can see is the piece we're on right now, but in reality, that tiny piece is just the sparkle in His eyes or a leaf on a tree. 
I told him that I knew it must be hard to have all sorts of feelings inside that he didn't really understand...fears, sadness, anger, confusion... and that sometimes it helped me to just cry & get it all out when I felt that way, but he shook his head "no" to that.  I guess he didn't feel like "getting it all out" at the moment.
Just laying there, holding him, I was praying for him while he was silent.  I felt like there was this gigantic weight laying on his body & he doesn't know how to lift it up off of him & he probably feels like he's stuck underneath it.  I can't imagine being 8yrs old & having lost my mother & father all at one time in such a traumatic way.  It's not like they were slowly pulled away....they were dramatically ripped from under him all at once.
He seemed to be either "on the verge" of losing it & having a big cry-it-all-out moment ....... or he's regressed emotionally b/c it's just too much to handle.  I'm not sure which it is, but either way, please pray.
I feel pretty helpless just holding him & loving on him.  I know that's about all I can do aside from praying.....but please pray that this all comes to a head & he can release it all, get through the pain & sorrow & grief of it all & we can move forward.  Pray that I have the right tools & can be filled with the right words at the time he needs them.
Man this is hard.
God, I know that you've given these kids to me for a reason & I trust you on that.  I know that they're in my home & on my heart because you placed them here.  Please equip me with the right words, the right actions, and make YOURSELF known to them so brilliantly that they can't escape your presence.  If nothing else, I want to fill them up with a knowledge of you & a realization of your LOVE & sacrifice for them.  Please teach me how to handle each new situation with a love that can only come through You.  Allow the Spirit to flow through me in those moments of confusion & uncertainty so that all I speak are your words, so that all I give the kids is a heart for you.  -Amen
On a totally unrelated note......the bathroom is progressing well!  We have painted walls now & plan to be in the bathroom (hopefully) within the next couple of weeks.  YAHOO!  :)

June 20-24

Just going to add one quick entry here to cover this timeframe.  It is a copied version of the email I sent out to some friends/family about our vacation last week.

Tuesday 6/20
Left home about 10:00am.  We really hoped to leave earlier, but ended up waking up a little later than expected, had to finish packing, had to pack the car, yada yada get the idea.  We stopped on the way to The Woodlands & made sandwiches in a church parking lot.  Arrived in The Woodlands about 2:00 or 2:30.
Larry's aunt/uncle live there & were anxiously awaiting our arrival.  She took us over to the mall so the kids could ride on the (giant!) carousel inside the mall & play on the indoor playground.  They all had a big time.  We went back & the kids swam in their pool while Uncle Richard cooked supper.  When it was about done, we ran in for showers & PJ's, then ate supper & visited the rest of the evening til bedtime.  Upstairs, there are 3BR/2BA, so that was our area of the house.  The girls got one room, boys got another (there is a BA in between those 2 BRs).  Larry & I got the other BR/BA.  Between the swimming pool, big house & stairs to climb on, the kids thought they were in Disneyland!  LOL!
Wed June 21
Uncle Richard cooked pancakes for everyone, then we headed out for the Johnson Space Center in Houston.  We arrived about 10:00 or 10:30 & didn't leave til after 4:00.  Everyone had a blast!  (pun intended!)  There is a huge 3 or 4 story tall playground inside, lots of neat little "stations" where the kids can do different science/space/astronaut themed experiments & "training" exercises.  We went on a 90 minute-long tram tour around the security-saturated part of the space center.  It's so wild---like a city within the gates!  There are traffic lights, paved streets, their own fire department, day care center & water department within the gates of the space center.  The place is huge!  We got to go into the bldg where the original "Mission Control" was.  Remember in Apollo 13 when he says "Houston, we have a problem"?  THIS is the "Houston" he's talking to.  It was really neat to see the real stuff--although the 87 steps we had to climb to get there had us all huffing & puffing.  It was really hot in the building & w/ a crowd of 60 or 70 people, it was a long climb up those stairs.  They also had a live video feed to the FL space center & the international mission control center.  We also go to see the area where the astronauts train in mock-ups of the actual spacecrafts.  There was 1 astronaut there w/ his children while we were watching, but he was not there to do any training, just came by to get something I guess.
Back inside the space center, we watched 2 movies about space travel.  Larry & Andrew did a flight simulator thing where they got to put on the virtual reality helmets & try to "fly".  That was fun to watch.  Larry couldn't get his "plane" to quit spinning to the side, so he was just constantly in a "roll".  I think Andrew might be a pilot one day!  We ate lunch there & let the kids each pick out a souvenir from the gift shop before we left.
We had planned to go to a children's museum back in The Woodlands, near Sandy & Richard's house, but decided to skip it b/c the kids were all worn out.  We came back & ate supper, let them all swim again & headed to bed.  They fell asleep a lot quicker the 2nd night.  They were pretty exhausted!
Thursday June 22
Got up & had breakfast w/ Sandy & Richard before packing the car & heading out around 10:00.  We drove about 4 hours to Andrew & Kourtney's grandparents' house in Rockport, TX.  We had a nice visit with them.  It felt a little odd to be at their house b/c we're basically strangers to each other.  I guess that'll get easier as the years go by.  We took them a big packet of pictures of the kids & they gave us a package of pictures of Kelly & the kids and a written out list of some medical family history that we might need in the future.  It was nice to get those.  After a big catfish supper & a few hours there, we went back to the hotel in town for the night.  The kids & I swam in the hotel pool before we hit the sack.
A funny thing (well, not so funny actually...) happened during the night.  At 3:00am, the smoke alarm in my room went off.  I jumped up out of bed & ran to the door.  I was sorta disoriented (b/c I was half asleep) so it took me a minute to think straight.  I decided that since I couldn't smell smoke or see flames, I'd check outside to see if there was a fire before I grabbed the girls out of their beds.  Sure enough....there was no fire, no smoke, no crowds of people gathering in the parking lot.  My room's smoke alarm had malfunctioned or something & gone off for nothing!  Ugh.......grrrrrrrr!  I was irritated but wanted to go back to sleep, so I tip-toed back in, turned off the lamp & layed back down.  It took me a long time to fall back to sleep b/c I was paranoid that maybe there really was a fire.  I think I finally got back to sleep about 3:30 or 4:00am.
And then at 6:15am it happened AGAIN!!!!!!!!!  Man was I ticked off!  Luckily both times it only went off for about 10 seconds...just enough to wake me up & make my ears ring, but not long enough to disturb the girls much.  They slept through it the first time, but it woke Savannah up the 2nd time.  I called to complain w/ the lady at the front desk the 2nd time.  She was not very helpful, but said she'd tell the manager who came in at 7:00.  In the meantime, while getting up I realized that there was something in my bed.....a beanbag!  Hmm....apparnetly the sheets were not changed before I slept there. I was sleep deprived & doubly irritated.
When we went to the front desk to check out, Larry made a big stink & they ended up giving us a refund---for BOTH rooms!  Wow!  I was just hoping they'd knock part of the price off my room.
Aside from that "alarming" start to the day, our drive home (which ended up taking nearly 9 hours) wasn't too bad.  The kids did pretty well.  We only had to pull over & threaten to strangle them once.  LOL!  All in all, they did REALLY great!
It's funny, though.  We drove about 900 miles altogether & when you ask the kids what their favorite part was, they all say "swimming in Aunt Sandy's pool".  LOL!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Monday June 19

We will be leaving on vacation in the morning, so there will be no further journal posts til this weekend.  Have a good week!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sunday June 18

Because Larry is on vacation this week, we went to our old church this morning.  It's really weird to see how different it feels after just 20 months.  The majority of our SS class was out of town, so we didn't really see most of them & the senior pastor we loved so much has left the church & moved away, so that was different, too.  Even the seating was different---chairs turned in a different direction.  The halls were painted a new color (it looked nice!), and there was a little "sitting area" in the foyer that wasn't there before.  Funny how small differences make such a HUGE impact on someone when you've been gone a short period of time.  We saw lots of familiar faces & hugged old friends, but overall, it just didn't feel like "home" anymore.  I guess that's good.  When we left, it was really difficult to think of the new church as "home" & now the tables are totally turned.  Thank you, God, for taking us to right where we needed to be!
This weekend we got the pictures back from our Six Flags trip with Sarah.  On our way home, before we picked up A&K, we went to the wrecker yard to see the van that G & Kelly had the wreck in.  I wanted to take some pictures of it before they haul it off & sell it for scrap.  I was just blown away by the condition of it.  Shocking how much damage can be done to a vehicle.  Anyway, I was looking at the pictures yesterday & all of the kids wanted to see.  I wondered if it might be too much for A&K, but decided that, in the long run, it was one more piece of the puzzle to them.  They wanted to see the scene of the wreck before & wanted to see the pics of their mom's funeral over & over, so leaving out this one piece of the big puzzle that is their life seemed wrong.  I went ahead & let them take a peek at the pictures.  They seemed to both be affected by what they saw, but are remarkably resilient.  I guess they have been through so much that seeing the pics of the van were "nothing" in comparison to all the changes & new things in their lives.  Andrew told me last night (at bedtime) that seeing the pics made him miss him mom a little more than before......but then he held me tight & snuggled a little longer than usual.  I pray that he can see me as a new "mommy" figure in his life & hope that will bring healing to him....having someone to replace the mother he lost.  He wanted me to re-explain the wreck to him, where it happened, who was driving, what they hit, the whole thing.  I'm not sure if that is somehow therapeutic to him or if he just wanted to see how long I'd keeping laying there for snuggles.  :)  Kourtney calls me "mama" freely, but Andrew never has.  He definately sees me as a sort of mom, but he calls me Aunt Liz.  I don't know if he'll ever reach that point or not.  He has a lot more walls to break down before that happens, I think.  Then again, he may not ever call me "mom"....and if that's how it is, that's ok, too. 
If you would like to see those pictures, I'm ok with sharing with family & close friends.
A funny thing happened today.  We went out to eat lunch after church for Father's Day.  We barely got seated before I heard the couple at the table behind us saying something about "Cheaper by the Dozen".  It didn't dawn on me for a while that he was commenting on US!  I guess I never think of us as a huge family or anything.  I mean, I suppose a family of 10 or 12 kids would be pretty HUGE, but 5 doesn't seem all that enormous to me.  (Of course, don't ask me that on a day when I'm pulling my hair out & looking for sources of chocolate to keep me sane!)  I guess when I really think about it, 5 kids is a lot, but it just never really occurs to me to think of us as a carnival sideshow or anything!  I refuse to let the kids act like wild monkies in public, so there is not usually much of anything for people to SEE if they choose to stare.  Anyway, knowing that we were being "watched", I made sure to whisper to the kids how it was a special treat to go to a nice restaurant ("nice" as opposed to the drive thru at McDonald's!) and how we needed to use our best behavior so that all of those around us would know that we represent Jesus.  I was soooo pleased.  The kids all behaved sweetly.  No one ever fussed or whined or squealed or argued or anything!  When we left, there were lots of eyes looking at us---including one man who never seemed to stop staring the entire time we were there!  I guess we were quite a sight to see.  LOL!  Thankfully, they were all SMILING at us.
Of course, we weren't home long before war broke out....but hey, they were nice in the restaurant!  :)
I got this in an email today &thought I'd share.  It is sooo true.  And after you read it, don't get me started on all the things that I would like to claim as my "excuses"!  I could make a list a mile long, but the truth is, God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called!
The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember...
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
Mary Magdalene was...
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer..AND
Lazarus was dead!

Now! No more excuses!
God can use you to your full potential.
Besides you aren't the message, you are just the

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fri June 16

We had a busy past couple of days.  We got all the kids (minus Sarah) distributed the grandparents' houses Wednesday & then got up early yesterday morning & took Sarah to Six Flags.  She had a BLAST!  Larry & I had a lot of fun, too.  And no one came out of the park dehydrated & feeling yucky.

One funny thing--- when we went a few years ago w/ Savannah & then again last year w/ Samuel, parking was a NIGHTMARE.  We had to park (seriously) a mile away with each of them & walk all that distance just to get into the gates.  And then when we left & were soooo tired, we still had a mile's walk back to the car.  Both times the trolly that runs in the parking lot was broken down or just not running at the time, so both times we had to walk a great distance in 100+ degree heat, feeling miserable & just nasty!  It was torture!  So......this time, we decided it would be worth the extra $5 to pay for valet parking!  When we pulled up & gave them the keys, we felt pretty proud of ourselves & went off to enjoy the day.  All day long, we commented on how empty the park was---we hardly had to wait in line AT ALL all day long.  The weather was really nice.  Hot, but not so hot that you feel miserable all day....and a nice breeze blew pretty often, so it was a great time to go!  Anyway....we left the park about 5:00, walked out to the parking lot & commented on this van that looked a lot like ours...ha ha...wouldn't it be funny if THAT is our van?  We got to the valet booth, handed them our ticket & watched a guy walk to our van.....the same one we'd laughed was RIGHT THERE.  He drove all of about 4 or 5 seconds to get from the parking space to us.  LOL!  I'm sure he thought we were sooo lazy.  Anyway, that was our really FUNNY moment of the day.  :)

Sarah loved having her own big bed (queen sized) all to herself.  :)  I guess I was pretty tired when we got back for the night.  By 9pm, I was asleep!  That is a weird thing for me b/c I'm usually a nightowl!  Unfortunately Larry & I didn't sleep too well.  The bed was just not home...ya know?  Oh well, it was worth it!  All in all, Sarah had a ball & loved getting us all to herself for 24 hours.

I wrote this a couple of days ago & thought I'd share it here:

Yesterday the UPS truck arrived w/ a box for me.  It was from A&K's Aunt Debbie.  We talked a couple of months ago about the kids' baby books, etc & she had finally located them.  She sent a big box w/ the 2 baby books, pictures & letters that Kelly had written to the kids.  I sat there & cried looking through it all....knowing how much Kelly loved her children & how much those letters will mean to them in the future.

There was one letter for each of the kids detailing the day of their birth.  Then she had written a couple of other letters to Andrew.  One was written when he was 5, so it's a couple years old & missing the past couple of years...but it was interesting to see how she chronicled all of years of his life...all the places they've lived & people they've lived with...on & on.  It's almost a little sad reading the letters b/c Kelly was not the best speller, but you can see a Mama's love shining through all that.
Anyway, all in all, it was very neat to get this stuff.  I feel so neat to have some memories for the kids!  I have a rolling 3-drawer storage thing for my (bio) kids' baby books & early life memories/pics, etc.  I'm going to go back & get another one (2 drawer type this time) & create memory boxes for Andrew & Kourtney now.  :) I feel like their real mommy!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wed June 14

Tonight I was driving home from Walmart & the kids' worship CD was playing.  I usually take it out & listen to something of mine, but decided to listen to a couple songs...or maybe I was just sorta zoned out & wasn't paying attention to the fact that it wasn't my CD.  Anyway, whatever the case.......I was heard a familiar song.
You know how you can hear a song or read a particular scripture a million times & then you finally really HEAR it & realize the meaning & the message behind the words?  Or maybe you just finally apply them to whatever situation you're in at the time & it all finally "clicks"?  This was one of those times.
The song I was listening to was "Waves of Mercy" (aka:  "Every Move I Make").  I've heard the kids sing it & dance to it & have learned the hand motions & all.  In fact, I've even taught the song to kids' groups a couple of times, but tonight I was really listening to it for the first time.  (The lyrics are below.)
The verse talks about using the power of God to move, breathe, walk....then the chorus says that everywhere I look, I see HIM & am so captured by Him that I am in awe.  I guess because the tune is set to such a quick tempo & the music is so "fun", it's easy to just skim right over the meaning behind it, but the meaning is what really struck me tonight.
It's so true.....I need God to move, to breathe, to take a step each morning.  I need Him for everything.  And it hit me as the chorus do people make it without HIM???  I am so captured by His love that I don't want to break free.  When I hear the word "captured", I usually think of a hostage, someone who is kidnapped & held in a cage, tied up or whatever....but in this sense, I am captured & DON'T WANT OUT!  Please, God, capture me every day & don't lose your grip.  Stepping outside the "cage" of His love is painful & hard....let Him capture you if you want some peace & comfort in your life.
It's amazing how true the 2nd line of the chorus is....everywhere I look, I DO see His face.  It's been amazing to sit back & watch just how active He is in our lives, meeting needs before we ever knew there was an need to be filled......providing His strength & His power in the days when we thought we'd collapse from physical or spiritual battles.  He's alive!  He's very much active & part of my life.
Is He part of yours?  If not, look around for Him.  He's there.  If you can't see Him, ask me where to look.
Waves Of Mercy (Every Move I Make) David Ruis - © 1996 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing (ASCAP)
Passion - Live Worship From The 268 Generation

Every move I make, I make in You
You make me move, Jesus
Every breath I take, I breathe in You
Every step I take, I take in You
You are my way, Jesus
Every breath I take, I breathe in You.

Waves of mercy, waves of grace
Everywhere I look, I see Your face
Your love has captured me
Oh my God This love
How can it be

La la la la la la la,
La la la la la la la.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sun June 11 #2--Vacation time!!

Beginning today, we are officially "on vacation" according to the church (where Larry works).  It's weird.  I felt really odd staying home tonight & not being in church.  I mean, church is not only Larry's job, but such a place of comfort & rest for me.  I don't mean "rest" in the 'doze off in church' sense, but "rest" meaning peace & safety & security through Christ.  It's hard to really put that into words for someone who doesn't know what I'm talking about.....but for those of you who've grown up in church, and then really GROWN UP in the Lord, you know what I mean.

With each of our (bio) kids, we have taken them on a special trip alone with just Larry & I right before they start Kindergarten.  That trip has always been an overnight trip to Six Flags in Arlington.  We leave the other munchkins with a relative & take off on a wildly fun 24 hour excursion for that one special kiddo.  Sarah has been looking forward to "her trip" since last summer when we took Samuel.  She's known that her chance was coming up & has reminded us of it...often.  This week she will get her promised trip.  On Wednesday afternoon, we will drop off Savannah, Andrew, Samuel & Kourtney with grandparents.  We'll leave early Thurs morning & drive straight there, spending the day at Six Flags and then we'll head back home Fri morning.  I can't wait to see Sarah's face on the rides, to see how she does with walking all day long in the heat, etc.  I learned my lesson last year on how miserable dehydration can feel.  There will be NO caffeinated beverages touching my lips that day.  No sir-ee!  I was sick as a dog by the time we left the park last summer & felt awful for about 12 hours afterward.  I was sweating buckets & drinking soda after soda (b/c water was more expensive).  This year, I don't care how expensive it is.  I will still sweat by the bucketful, I'm sure, but I am not going to let that stop me from enjoying the trip!

When we come back, we will spend the weekend at home & go to our old church next Sunday (Father's Day).  Bethel Bible Church holds such a sweet spot in our hearts.  I can't imagine what our lives would be like today without the involvement of the precious people there.  Larry & I spent the most wonderful 8 years at Bethel Bible Church and are anxious to "go home on furlough" as a retreat from the usual ministry duties for a week.  I think we're going to go in time to visit our old SS class & then the worship service.  It ought to be a real treat!  :::waving to all the Bethel folks reading this!  See you Sunday!:::

After a quiet weekend at home, we will then embark on another week of travelling next week, visiting other relatives & the Johnson Space Center in Houston.  I'll update you on that before we leave.

I'm sure I will have pictures to share from both trips, so beware....if you're on my snapfish photo album account, you will be getting to see lots of pictures!  :)

The Fire Sunday June 11

Thank you Jesus, for the fire.


Through The Fire - The Crabb Family

So many times I've questioned certain circumstances
Things I could not understand
Many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision
Then my frustration gets so out of hand
It's then I am reminded I've never been forsaken
I've never had to stand the test alone
As I look at all the victories the Spirit rises up in me
And it's through the fire my weakness is made strong

He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered our victories without fighting
But He said help would always come in time
Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, 'cause our Lord will show up
And He will take you through the fire again,

I know within myself that I would surely perish
But if I trust the hand of God, He'll shield the flames again, again

He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered our victories without fighting
But He said help would always come in time
Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, 'cause our Lord will show up
And He will take you through the fire again

Saturday, June 10, 2006

a cute pic

I took this pic yesterday.  Any guesses on where we were when I took it?  :)

Fri June 9 a few funny moments

Tonight, Samuel pulled his first tooth!  He looks so cute with a little gap.  :)  See pic above.  Andrew & Savannah (our veteran tooth pullers) followed him around all afternoon offering suggestions on how to get the tooth out easiest.  It was really funny to see how his one little loose tooth became a whole family project!

Later on, we were talking about the kids' futures.  I thought you might enjoy seeing what everyone says they will be when they grow up.  We've got quite a diverse group here.

Savannah wants to own her own restaurant, but will volunteer her time on weekends at the Humane Society.  And while she's in chef school, she'll work at a pizza place to pay the bills.

Andrew wants to ride bulls & be a bullriding teacher.

Samuel can't decide...he's stuck between a policeman or a preacher.  (tee hee...think he's following in someone's footsteps???)

Kourtney wants to be a dance class teacher because she loved watching Savannah's dance classes.

Sarah wants to be a ballerina teacher and a door holder.  When I asked what a door holder is, she said "You know....when someone walks up to a building to go in & someone opens the door & holds it for them?".  Hmm....maybe it's like a Walmart greeter!  LOL!  I told her that I didn't know if I'd ever seen a professional door holder anywhere, to which she said "Oh well, then I'll be a firegirl".

Between the dance-teachers, pizza cooks, bull riders & preachers, I think we've about got every field covered.  :)

Tonight we watched Cheaper by the Dozen 2.  We all liked it.  One funny thing, though.  There is a scene where the mom has juice spilled all over her & she has to borrow a very low-cut shirt from a friend.  When she walks out into the area where her family is sitting, they are obviously all very shocked to see her dressed like this.  The conversation in my living room floor went something like this:

Samuel:  MOM!  She needs to put on a bra!
Andrew:  giggle, giggle
Sarah:  Mama wears a bra!
Andrew:  giggle, giggle
Savannah:  It's ok.  Sometimes women wear shirts that show a little bit of their crack.
Me:  LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ya gotta love kids!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Thurs June 8

Today was Andrew's last day of basketball camp.  As promised, I'm including a pic above of him with his trophy.

When we got home, the kids ate lunch, took naps & then got to play on the Slip & Slide for about an hour.  They LOVED it!  I've got pics of that, too!

The kids have also been attending VBS a few nights this week at my sister's church.  They've had a lot of fun.

What a full week it's been!

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Monday-Wednesday June 5-7

Andrew has been attending basketball camp this week.  Tomorrow is the last day & all of the kids will get a trophy.  He is way excited about that.  I will make sure to get a pic of him with his trophy & will post that tomorrow.

Nothing much new this week.  Just the usual stuff.

It's funny....sinking into a routine where things are just "usual stuff".  I guess it's hard to believe that we're finally reaching that point.  We're about 2 weeks away from hitting the 4 month mark since A&K moved in.  It's so odd, because it seems like it's been much longer.  In so many ways, I feel so close to the kids.  As if they were mine since if I never had a time when I really didn't know them much at all.  I mean, we saw them at family reunions, Christmas & Thanksgiving sort of things, but never really KNEW them until they walked through our doorway in February.

I feel so honored, so blessed that they're here.  I've been thinking though.  I don't know how foster parents do this.  The work, the time, the training, the investment that they make into children who they dearly love....but ones who will pass into & out of their home in rapid on earth do you do it?  I thought I could handle it, but let me tell ya....this is hard.  When you're giving every ounce of your being to a little person who you see progressing & growing & do you give them up & send them back into the foster system?  Or worse...back to a home that you know isn't safe or stable?

God bless the foster parents of this world!

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Saturday June 3, 2006

Today was long.  Very long.  I'm tired.  The kids are wiped out. was a good one.  Used up every ounce of what we had & now it's time to hit the sack!

This morning was Savannah's dress rehearsal for the recital tonight.  I took all three girls & stayed long enough for Savannah's group to do their 1 dance and then left.  I figured there was no sense in sitting for several more hours for nothing!  We got home in time to throw some food down, rest a bit & then get ready & go again, basically.

Savannah did great in the recital!  See picture above.  Yes....that really is my upside down baby girl!  Yes, that was planned as part of the dance.  ha ha!  She did super!

I have more pics if you'd like to see. 

On a funny note, Kourtney never stopped moving.  I intentionally picked an area where she could stand in the aisles & dance if she wanted to....and boy did she!  I got a couple shots of her dancing away.  Too cute!

Songs of the Week for me!

Much Of You

by: Steven Curtis Chapman

How could I stand here
And watch the sun rise
Follow the mountains
Where they touch the sky
Ponder the vastness
And the depths of the sea
And think for a moment
The point of it all was to make much of me
Cause I'm just a whisper
And You are the thunder and

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You

And how can I kneel here
And think of the cross
The thorns and the whip and the nails and the spear
The infinite cost
To purchase my pardon
And bear all my shame
To think I have anything worth boasting in except for Your name
Cause I am a sinner
And You are the Savior

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used

To make much of You

This is Your love, oh God
Not to make much of me
But to send Your own son
So that we could make much of You

For all eternity

I want to make much of You Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You

I want to make much of You
Much of You Jesus


And my heart's teach each of my children to listen to the VOICE OF TRUTH, not the voices of all the other people & things of the world.

Voice of Truth  by Casting Crowns

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
on to the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes
to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone

Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
On top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)
I will choose to listen and believe-

I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

I will listen and believe
I will listen and believe the Voice of truth
I will listen and believe
Cause Jesus you are the voice of truth
And I will listen to you, you are-

Friday, June 2, 2006

Friday June 2

This morning we ran some errands.  In doing that, we went to a Catholic Church to buy a rosary for a friend of mine.  The kids were blown away by all the "stuff" in there.  I had told them before going in that this was a different kind of church than ours---more quiet & reverant-- and that they needed to go in quietly & not run/jump/climb/squeal, etc.  It didn't take long before they were pressing the button on the (HOLY) water cooler, shaking the maraccas (sp?) on the table about the missionary the church is supporting, and generally asking a million questions about the church.  LOL!  When we got in the car, they wanted to know about what that church believes, how it's different from us, and why there was a statue of Mary out front.  Boy....culture & etiquette & religion classes all in one morning!  ha!

We went to a pet store later to buy some supplies for our hermit crabs (& to replace the beloved Lucy who we lost last weekend).  Andrew told me on the way there that he'd never been in a pet store.  Boy I would've never known (said with much sarcasm).  ha ha!  They all wanted to pet, touch or otherwise feel every animal, crate, food, supply in the store. the time I left, PetsMart will never be the same.  ha ha!  They had a good time, though & we were able to replace Lucy with a little white crab in a brown shell.  Savannah picked him/her (not sure yet?) out herself.

All morning long, I kept asking A if he'd taken his medicine.  He has a very distinct type of behavior when he hasn't taken it....something like a hummingbird on speed with a megaphone.....and that was him all morning long.  He swore up & down that he'd taken it.....but when we got home, the girls found his pill in their bedroom floor!  Not sure how it ended up there, but I made sure to watch him swallow it then!!  Man what a difference one little pill makes.  Thank you, Lord, for the science to create such a drug.  It sure is helpful!

This afternoon, the kids are going to finish cleaning up their rooms (again...) and then we are going to make plaster handprints.  They think it sounds really fun & it's been a long time since I made them w/ my 3 bio kids, so it'll be a treat for everyone.  It's neat to create a permanent reminder of how big/little their hand is.  In fact, I have one that *I* made when I was a little girl.  It'll be fun to send the kids off to adulthood with something like this.  :)

Thurs June 1 PM

This used to be the back wall of my closet.  No longer!

Tonight we made the "real committment"---the back wall of the house was broken through & we sealed up the exterior hole we'd been using to go in & out of the new bathroom.  And the bigger one...we moved the washer/dryer out.  Yikes.  That's scary.  We found a local laundrymat that will wash/dry/fold the clothes FOR ME.  I think we're going to go that route.  It's not that much more pricey than going & doing the laundry myself, and I believe that my time & sanity are worth something ($$).  Ahhh....this will be nice.  Not having to do laundry for a couple weeks.  LOL!  Of course, it'll cost me a chunk of change to have that privelege, but my mantra here lately (while looking at the MESS my house/yard is in) is:  "I'm getting a new bathroom.  I'm getting a new bathroom.  I'm getting a new bathroom.  I'm getting a new bathroom."  It'll all be worth it!

God is so good.  Gives me goosebumps watching Him work.  Thank you, Jesus for taking care of this pitiful, dirty, vile, nasty excuse for your creation.  My flesh is so filthy and my mind is so corrupt, and yet you, the Creator of all the universe, the Master of all the animals, the One who knit me together in my mother's womb, are willing to reach down & love me over & over.....continually forgiving the vast array of sins I commit....showing me your faithfulness again & again.  You are good.  You are good to me.  You are good to my family.  Thank you for being who You are & reminding me of who I am....and who I would be without You.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Thursday June 1

We have had a busy 1st half to the week & a filled end to last week!

At the end of last week, Andrew asked Larry when he could get "bab-uh-tized".  At the time he asked, there wasn't time to sit down & really talk about it, so Larry told him they'd talk about it later.  Well, 'later' came one night a few days later when I was tucking the boys in.  Samuel chimed in, too, saying that he wanted to get bab-uh-tized.  :)  We talked a while.  Samuel was interested in the conversation, but equally interested in tossing his stuffed blue bunny up in the air & singing me songs he's learned at church.  Although he did look awfullly cute doing hand motions & waving his arms around to "My Hope is in You Lord", while wearing nothing but his tightie-whities, I knew he wasn't really "into" the conversation.  Of course I'm sure he was hearing things anyway, so the seed is there....but it wasn't time for him.  Andrew, on the other hand, seemed to really be into hearing all of the details of what it takes to be saved.  I talked him through it & he seemed to get all excited in asking "Ok, so after I do all that, when do I get bab-uh-tized?"  Ummm...well, would you be doing that just to get baptized?  He nodded excitedly & said "It would be fun to get wet!".  <snicker>  Ok, well....maybe this isn't the right time after all.  I told him that he would reach a time when God would tell him it was time.  He would speak to him in a way that he would KNOW God is telling him it's time to give his heart to him, but until then we'd just talk about it whenever he wanted to.  He seems ok with that & grasps most of the concept of salvation, but I don't think he's quite "there" yet.  Keep praying....

The next day we were watching a country music video about the soldiers overseas & the singer (can't think of who it was?) quoted the scripture that says "Greater love hath no man than he who lays down his life for a friend."  Andrew heard him say that & piped up "Jesus did that!".  I couldn't help but grin, knowing that he's "getting it".

This week is our first full week at home out of school.  Monday morning we all went to Lowe's & picked out our new bathtub & toilet & some lighting stuff.  Tuesday morning we went to the Whitehouse park.  Wednesday we went to Chuck E. Cheese & played games for a couple of hours.  Today is a home day....if the kids can ever finish their chores I have a fun game to play with them from a neat book I got a few months ago.  We'll see if that ever happens.  (the chores getting finished)  Tomorrow morning we'll run some errands, come home & do chores, then do a craft---plaster of paris handprints for everyone!

Please keep Andrew in your prayers.  His walls are falling down, slowly but steadily.  The pseudo-adult role he's played all his life is finally slipping away & he's becoming a little boy.  It's so neat to watch this process, but at the same time, very painful & hard some days.  He's learned to be agressive & angry & deal with any sort of frustration by screaming & hitting.  We had to come home from the park early on Tuesday because he ended up hurting 2 of the kids in an angry moment.  We're working on learning ways to control his temper, praying for his aggression to be channeled the right way.  We came up with a "code word" for moments when he's built up so angry that he's about to POP.  I can say the code word to remind him that it's time to back up, take a deep breath & walk away.  So far, we haven't had to use it.  It seems like being in a familiar situation with familiar people seems to calm him & make it easy to deal with frustrations as they come.  Any "new" things throw him for a loop & make him lose it quickly.  Anyway, for all my prayer warrior buddies out there, keep praying.  Andrew's got an angry old man coming out of him....and until it's gone, there is a war being waged inside him.  (& don't think for a second that I don't connect all this to the spiritual stuff going on!  Satan doesn't want to lose another one!)

Progress for Kourtney, too-----  She's gone back & forth on calling me mama/mommy and then other times calling me Aunt Liz.  I don't really ever say anything one way or the other.  I don't want to make her feel like she has to call me any one thing.  I just let it happen the way she wants it to & leave it at that.  Anyway, I'm a pretty touchy feely person, always kissing & hugging on the kids.  She always wants a hug & will even come find me all throughout the day just to get a hug, like she's checking in to make sure I'm still here & then she'll go back to whatever she's doing.  I've always snuggled & hugged her just as much as the other kids but she's been a little stand-offish on kissing me.  She doesnt have a problem w/ me kissing her on the cheek/forehead/nose, etc but she hasn't wanted to be the one to start the kiss & pretty much refused to kiss my face anywhere at all.  I haven't pushed the issue AT ALL or demanded anything, but I still gave her plenty of hugs & kisses.  Usually at bedtime, I'll go from bed to bed saying "Hugs & kisses time!" & whoever I'm talking to will lean up & give me a hug and kiss before going to bed.  When I get to her, she always hugs me but then sort of shrivels up her nose & makes a face about giving me a kiss.  I have teasingly said "Oh, I'm so sad....Kourtney won't give me a kiss" & then pretend to which she just laughs.  I have played the "Don't you kiss me on the cheek when I turn around!!" game.  That one usually works because she thinks she's getting away with something.  :)  Anyway....earlier this week, I was on the couch with all three girls in my lap reading a book when one of the (bio) girls leaned up & kissed me on the cheek right beside my lips.  She made a "ewww" kind of sound & then the one who kissed me said "That's not gross!  She's my mama!".  The other one in my lap said something like "it's ok to kiss your mama on the lips!".  I don't think I said anything at all but went on reading the story.  At bedtime that night, I gave her the usual hug & she grabbed my face & pulled me down to her & planted a big wet kiss on me.  I think I teared up before I got out of the room.  I was so happy to see her progressing to a place where she isn't scared or weirded out at kissing me.  :)

I love my babies!!  All 5 of 'em!