Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Crazy Love: Chapter 5

The more I read this book, the more I want to shake the hand of Francis Chan. I've been reading it one chapter a time, giving myself time to really soak in & stew over what each chapter is about for a few days before going on to the next chapter. I love that there are things I've felt & believed for years that someone has finally put into words for me. There are things in the book that make me want to stand up & cheer....other things that bite a little.....other parts that make me want to shove the book in someone's face & say "See???". (Hello pride, my name is Liz.)

Ironically, a friend of mine is reading another book that she's been talking about on her blog the last few days. It's called "Radical". When I first read that title, it does me the same way it does you. Being called 'radical' always makes us Christians cringe doesn't it? Radical has been given such a bad rap in our society. Radicals do crazy things, they live weird, they act freaky. Right?

Or do they?

As a teen, I was on fire for Jesus. I see my daughter leaning more that direction every day & I am excited to see that 'charge Hell with a water gun' sort of enthusiasm grow. Most Christians have had a time when they were super "on fire". During that time, we were probably all considered to be pretty 'radical', but we didn't care! How is it that somewhere along the way we decide being 'on fire' is weird & we need to tone it down, darn it!?

As I read today's chapter in Crazy Love, I couldn't help but hear echos of what my friend's been posting about the "Radical" book on her blog. There are lots of similarities with that book & this chapter. Today's chapter is called 'serving leftovers to a holy God'. Here are a few of the especially powerful parts I enjoyed & a few comments from me.

*Revelation 3 talks about how God will spit out those who are lukewarm. Mr. Chan points out that there is no gentle interpretation of the words 'spit out' in the original Greek. It actually refers to wretching, gagging, choking & vomitting.

Ouch. Go back & read my post on last chapter's Profile of a Lukewarm person.

*Jesus's call to committment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling themself a Christian without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.
*Let's face it. We're willing to make changes in our lives only if we think it affects our salvation. Can I divorce my wife & still go to Heaven? Do I have to be baptized to be saved? Am I a Christian if I'm having sex with my girlfriend? If I commit suicide will I still go to Heaven? If I'm ashamed to talk about Christ, will he really deny that He ever knew me? These questions demonstrate that we're more concered about going to Heaven than loving the King.

How many times have I heard new believers & young people ask these very questions? How often do we lean nearer to these sorts of questions every day? Can I watch this one TV show & still be a Christian? Will He still love me if I get high this one time? Aren't we all limit-pushers?
*Which is more messed up -- that we have so much compared to everyone else or that we don't think of ourselves as rich? That on any given day we call ourselves 'broke' & 'poor'? We are neither of those, we are filthy rich!

For a family who lives paycheck to paycheck, this one is a statistic that is always hard for me to grasp. I absolutely know that I'm richer than some people, but to think that we actually have more than the MAJORITY of the world is a little astounding.
*Does God get a scrap or two because we feel guilty giving Him nothing? A mumbled 3 minute prayer at the end of the day when we're half asleep, 2 crumpled up dollar bills thrown into the church's fund for the poor.... *God is holy. In Heaven exists a Being who decides whether or not I take another breath. This holy God deserves excellence, the very best I have.

I thought those two (above) fit together nicely. Which one do I give Him daily? Which do you give Him?
*Our greatest fear as individuals & as the church should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things that don't really matter. --Tim Kizziar

*Following Christ isn't something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.

Love this!!
*Most of our thoughts are centered on the money we want to make, the school we want to attend, the body we aspire to have....but the fact is that NOTHING should concern us more than our relationship with God.

Father, help me to instill this in my children every single day.
*If given a choice between our 'stuff' and God, most of us hope we'd choose God. But we need to realize that how we spend our time, what our money goes toward & where we invest our energy is equivalent to choosing or rejecting God.

Where are the bandaids? That one stings a little.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


As most of you know, in the spring of 2009, Larry & I left the church where he served as one of the pastors. He was originally hired as the Singles pastor, later became the Outreach pastor and finally moved to more of an administrative role. Anyone who knows us well knows how hard that transition was. Especially for Larry, but really for all of us. Stepping out of ministry was difficult, but we both knew that it wasn't permanent. We knew (and continue to believe) that our future still holds full time ministry. We're not sure when or where or how it will look, but we know we'll go back to it when the kids are all grown. For now, we are not vocationally serving in a pastoral role.

Sometimes that is sure nice. Anyone who's served in a full time ministry knows that the dynamics & politics make life difficult sometimes. Dealing with 'needy' people, always being at church early, always being at church late, always being there every time the doors are open, always being responsible for activities & people, getting phone calls at 2:00am, getting phone calls while on vacation or a date night's exhausting.

But then the rest of the time, we sure do miss all of those things. Larry misses teaching and serving like crazy. Our kids miss their friends and the leaders who worked with them. I miss the ladies' Bible study nights. But mostly, we miss the relationships that we formed. Because we left the church when we stepped down from our ministry there, we don't see most of those people anymore. Thank goodness for Facebook, though. We've kept in touch with a huge number of the people who meant so much to us. And once in a while we run into people out in public who remind us how much they love us. In the past few weeks, I've run into church people about 4-5 times and each time, it feels like a big hug. Hearing them say that they miss us means that we really connected with them, that we did something that effected them, that they somehow saw Christ in us. And that makes the sadness & loss we've felt the last 18 months so worth it. Knowing that we ministered to them in some way sure does make this girl's heart flutter.

Today & last Sunday, Larry's been given the opportunity to fill the pulpit for 2 friends who pastor churches here locally while they vacationed with their families. While we miss our home church, it's been awesome to watch Larry step back behind a pulpit & give a message to the crowds we've been given the privilege of joining. While the churches were two vastly different kinds of churches, the size of the crowds were about the same and both bodies welcomed us and made us feel like we were part of their family. Both churches payed Larry to preach, but I can tell you one thing for sure...he would've done it for free because he loves it so much!

One day we'll be back 'in the fishbowl'. One day, we'll come early to unlock the building & turn on the air conditioner before the crowd comes. One day, we'll organize VBS and Bible study classes. One day we'll take groups to the homeless shelter & orphanage to serve. One day we'll do it all again. What a sweet day that'll be.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'll bet you've never ironed underwear at 6:45am in a hotel.

...but I have! Add that to my list of weird things I never thought I'd say. More about that later.

Earlier this month, I told you about this award Samuel received. Yesterday, we got the privilege to travel to our state capitol city and attend a state level awards ceremony for this same award. The ceremony was this morning. It was pretty cool.

We left yesterday afternoon about 4:15 and embarked on a 4 1/2 hour drive to Austin. We were met with a very nice (looking) room. There was a sitting area with a fold-out couch which Samuel quickly claimed. He loved it. He felt like he was staying in his own hotel room. Sadly, the fold out couch was broken, but the couch was pretty cozy, so he put his pillows & blanket on the couch & slept there anyway. Sarah decided that she wanted me to sleep with her, so Larry got a bed all to himself.

At 4:30 am the pranksters who stayed in our room last got a laugh I'm sure. That's when the clock radio alarm went off. Grrrr! I got up & turned it off, but it still woke all of us up. Luckily we were able to go back to sleep. At 5:45, I heard Sarah bumping around between the bathroom, the vanity area, our suitcase & the closet. Apparently she went to the potty & didn't quite make it in time so she was digging around for clean undies. When I woke up & realized what she was doing, I told her to just sleep commando for the last hour & we'd find them when we got up! :::yawn::: I'm not sure she really ever went back to sleep because I don't think I got any real sleep after that either. At 6:30 I gave up & got up to start getting ready. After digging through the suitcase, I discovered that Sarah didn't pack any extra undies, so if she was going to wear any today, I needed to wash & dry the wet ones. The bar soap at the sink wasn't quite what I had in mind for hand-washing my delicates, but hey, whatever. After a few minutes on top of the air conditioner didn't seem to be drying things quick enough, I pulled out the iron. I already had a couple shirts that needing ironing anyway, so I iron-dried her undies, too. ha ha!

We had a quick breakfast at the hotel before heading out to early morning rush hour traffic in a big city. I'm glad we left super early. We arrived in plenty of time even after getting lost once. Thank goodness for local folks who can point you in the right direction.

The awards ceremony went great! We got to walk through some exhibits outside the ballroom where the ceremony took place & picked up some really cool little trinkets made from recycled products and earth-friendly stuff. Who knew that they make recycled tire key chains?

We went to a Texas history museum nearby and enjoyed an IMAX-style 3D presentation about the great state we call home. Afterward, we stopped at a drug store to pick up a couple things & then headed toward home. It was after 7:00 when we got home tonight. Whew...what a whirlwind past 24 hours!

It was a fun whirlwind, though!

And ya know...maybe on our next trip I'm give the blow dryer a shot on a pair of jeans! Or perhaps I'll try ironing a dress by pressing it between the mattresses. Hmm....what's that saying? Necessity is the mother of invention. I think a mom must've written that one!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer, Days 19-25 (June 15-21)

Whoops! I haven't been doing so well on keeping you up with our summer, have I? I do a lot of day-to-day chatter on Facebook. If you aren't already my friend on there, look me up!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crazy Love: Chapter 4

The title of this chapter was Profile of the Lukewarm. Right off the bat I read that & thought "Whew...this chapter won't be so bad. I'm not lukewarm, after all." Don't ya love how God is sitting back giggling when we say things like that?

At the start of the chapter, the author tells the story of the three seeds tossed on different kinds of ground & challenges us to consider which type we are. He explains "When the seed is flung out on the path, it is heard but it's quickly stolen away. When the seed is tossed onto the rocks, no roots take hold; there is an appearance of depth & growth because of the soil on the rocks, but it is only surface level. When the seed is spread among the thorns, it is received but soon suffocated by life's worries, riches & pleasures. But when the seed is sown in good soil, it grows, takes root and produces fruit."

The next sentence is where it hurts. Mr. Chan says "Do not assume you are good soil." Ouch. He goes on to say that most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes out the seed because of thorns. He asks "Are you satisfied being 'godly enough' to get into Heaven or to look good to others by comparison?" Or can you honestly say that you've been transformed & changed by Christ? Mr. Chan asks the readers to consider a profile of lukewarm Christianity & see if it fits them.

I won't expound greatly on each of the items on the "Lukewarm" list, but I will share the list with you. As I read through the list, I found myself mentally checking off the things I thought I had a good handle on & wincing at ones that hit a little too close to home. Take a gander at this list and see how you measure up. Are you on fire for God or feeling pretty lukewarm tonight? I marked in red the ones that really hit me hard or struck me as being particularly well-worded & thought provoking.

*Lukewarm Christians attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe "good Christians" do, so they go.
*Lukewarm Christians give money to charity & to the church so long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?
*Lukewarm Christians tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance & giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.
*Lukewarm Christians don't really want to be saved from their sins; they want to be saved from the penalty of their sin.....lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.
*Lukewarm Christians are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for "extreme" Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call "radical" what Jesus expected of all His followers.
*Lukewarm Christians rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers or friends. They do not want to be rejected nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion.
*Lukewarm people gauge their morality or 'goodness' by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core as so-and-so, they are nowhere near as horrible as the guy down the street.
*Lukewarm people say they love Jesus and He is a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives.
*Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their hearts, soul & strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn't really possible for the average person; it's only for pastors and missionaries and radicals.
*Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends & other people they know and connect with. There is little love leftover for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached.
*Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money & energy they are willing to give.
*Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more than eternity in Heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today's to-do list, this week's schedule, and next month's vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come. Regarding this, CS Lewis writes "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one."
*Lukewarm people are thankful for their comforts & luxuries and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out "Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the LOVE of money is." Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel "called" to minister to the rich; very few feel "called" to minister to the poor.
*Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum to be "good enough" without it requiring too much of them.
*Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.
*Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or because we persist in calling this a Christian nation.
*Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so that they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens -- they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them -- they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live -- they have life figured & mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis -- their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are healthy. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.
*Lukewarm people probably drink & swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong.

One of his closing statements WOW'd me. I think it will you, too!

Lukewarm & uncommitted faith is completely useless. It can't even benefit manure. (Luke 14:34-35)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Crazy Love: Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of the book was not quite as overly powerful to me as the first two chapters, but I will admit I am tired tonight, so it's quite possible that I missed some of the power because of that. I think I'll go back & re-read the chapter tomorrow when I'm more awake and see what I missed. I really wanted to read it tonight, though, so here's what I got from my half-asleep stupor.

The chapter is titled 'Crazy Love', like the title of the book. The focus of the chapter was to express God's crazy, extravagant, overwhelming love for us. But like things go when trying to describe God, it's nearly impossible to really put into words (or to comprehend!) the love of God for us. The author describes the way his heart swells when his children run out into the driveway to greet him when he drives home from work, how they call out his name & smile and chase after his car until he steps out & they can reach him to hug him. He describes God's love for us as something similar to that. Only it is He who is driving in from work & it is us that He so deeply desires to have a relationship with, one where we want to run after Him & squeal His name and wrap our arms around Him at first sight. He notes Matthew 7:11 which says "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!"

Mr. Chan talks about having a daily quiet time (Bible reading, prayer). He talks about being taught to do this as a child, but having always done it into adult hood only sporadically & mostly out of guilt that he "should be doing that", but out of a desire to do it. That describes me to a "T". As a kid, I know that we always discussed it in Sunday School and at church camp, there was always a built-in quiet 15-20 minutes where the whole camp was supposed to get on their bed & spend some time reading & praying. I remember always laying there, staring at my open Bible while my mind wandered into game time or a million other fun things that were coming up in the day. I had no idea WHAT to read or how to have a quiet time. It just didn't come naturally, so as I got older & had no one watching me or expecting me to do it, I just stopped. It wasn't until I was married & becoming a mother that I began to desire & hunger for a time with God every day. I don't doubt my faith in all those in between years, but I know that having a quiet time just wasn't something on my radar for a long time & I survived on whatever I got at church on Sunday morning all week. Several years ago, I remember going to a ladies' retreat & sitting there during the praise & worship time with tears running down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed with grief that I wasn't spending THAT KIND OF TIME with my Savior every day. I wanted to be that intimate with Him all the time, but it just didn't seem to work. Like Paul describes in Romans 7, I desperately wanted to do what I knew was right (spending that time with God daily) but my flesh made it so difficult. It was so much easier to sleep late or veg in front of the computer or read a novel or watch TV (or anything else!) than to sit down & read my Bible. And yet, over and over, for several years, I'd come before Him in a moment of worship & beg forgiveness all over again..."I'm still not doing it God. What is wrong with me??". Again & again I would commit to Him that I'd sit down & do it, you know...starting tomorrow.

It wasn't until a couple years ago that I really got into a habit of working it into my daily schedule and focusing on it. I decided to start at Genesis 1:1 and read through the Bible one chapter at a time. I know it's not chronologically accurate that way, but in my typical OCD fashion, it was the only way to do it. It wasn't long before I was in the habit of having my quiet time and really missed it when I didn't do it. When a day rolls around that I don't read my Bible & pray, I long for it. I ache for the days to get back in gear so that I can fit it into my schedule again! And that's exciting to me!

But what's more fun is realizing that God is on the other end of that excitement, standing in His 'driveway', watching me run toward Him squealing His name....and He's smiling, holding His arms open for me, too!

Finish the Sentence

1. My uncle once: had a book published.

2. Never in my life: have I enjoyed diet soda.

3. When I was five: I started Kindergarten in Mrs. Carter's class.

4. High School was: 16 years ago.

5. I will never forget: my wedding day.

6. I once met: a cute boy who talked to me in song titles & flirted from across the pizza restaurant kitchen. :) I married him a few years later.

7. There’s this girl I know who: reads a lotttt. (She's my eldest child.)

8. Once, at a bar: {Sorry folks, I've got nothin'.....I don't do the bar scene.}

9. By noon, I’m usually: hungry.

10. Last night: I stayed up late. I should go to sleep at a decent hour tonight to make up for it.

11. If only I had: loads of money to spare.

12. Next time I go to church: I will be at the church where Larry's filling in this Sunday. Can't wait to see him preach again. Gosh I miss that.

13. The Octomom: looks a lot like Angelina Jolie.

14. What worries me most: losing my kids in some freak accident.

15. When I turn my head left, I see: my popsicle wrapper.

16. When I turn my head right, I see: my cordless phone.

17. You know I’m lying when: Umm....I don't know. I never watch myself lie.

18. What I miss most about the eighties: the music & rockin' clothes. :)

19. If I was a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: Juliet. I'm a hopeless sappy romantic, so that seems to fit.

20. By this time next year: I will be nearing by 36th birthday. But shhhh...don't tell. That's closer to 40 than 30.

21. A better name for me would be: She who laughs a lot.

22. I have a hard time understanding: soooooooo many things in life.

23. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: be completely confused by math & history.

24. You know I like you if: well, nevermind. I can totally act like I like someone when I'm gritting my teeth & screaming inside. ha'll never know, will you? :)

25. If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be: my husband.

26. Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferraro: are a bunch of random names thad don't seem to be connected to me. Am I missing something?

27. Take my advice, never: brush your teeth immediately after drinking orange juice (or vice versa). Gag...nasty taste!

28. My ideal breakfast is: room service.

29. A song I love, but do not own is: Brandon Heath's "Give Me Your Eyes".

30. If you visit my hometown, I suggest: you live here instead of passing through.

31. Tulips, character flaws, microchips, & track stars: are again, some random things thrown together.

32. Why won’t people: just think like me? Sure would make things easier for me. (wink)

33. If you spend the night at my house: you better bring a bed....we don't have a spare.

34. I’d stop my wedding for: an emergency...but it better be a good one.

35. The world could do without: so many things!

36. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: lick the belly of a rat or a snake or some sweaty gross stranger.

37. My favorite blonde is: Krissy Snow. Who's with me?

38: Paper clips are more useful than: strings when it comes to holding papers together.

39. If I do anything well, it’s: writing.

40. And by the way: if you repost this on your blog, let me know so I can come take a peek.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DVD Giveaway: Hermie and Friends Who is in Charge Anyway?

To see the review I wrote for this DVD, see the last post on this blog. We watched it once, so the plastic wrap has been removed from the box, but it's was brand new before we opened it.

I am going to give away this sweet video that I received from Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program. It is an adorable video, but my kids are too old for it, so I'm giving it away. I think it's ideally suited for 4 to 8 year olds.

I will choose a winner for this giveaway on the evening of Saturday June 19. I will use the random number picker to select a winner.

So here's what you do to get this DVD:
1. Leave a comment telling me that you'd like to enter this giveaway.
2. Post about this giveaway on your blog & come back here and leave me a link to that post in a comment for a 2nd entry.
3. Tell about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, etc & come back here and tell me you did for a 3rd entry.

Good luck!

(NOTE: Unfortunately, this giveaway is open only to those in the United States. Until your last name is Sams & you live in New Zealand. wink, wink!)

DVD Review: Hermie & Friends Who Is In Charge Anyway?

Today, my younger two kids (ages 9 & 10) and I watched the DVD entitled Who Is In Charge Anyway?. It is one of the Hermie & Friends series created by Max Lucado. I received this DVD from Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze ( program.

The movie is incredibly cute and packs a great message for younger kids. Although my 9 year old daughter stuck with this movie from start to finish, my 10 year old son quickly decided that this was a "baby movie" and left the room to pursue "big kid stuff" in his bedroom. I think that the ideal audience for this movie is probably the 8 and under crowd, although some older kids might enjoy it, too. Brightly colored computer animated graphics make a great movie for little ones.

The movie's message is clear as all the garden creatures (ladybugs, spiders, fleas, etc) all tell their own personal stories (testimonies!) of how they began life with a weakness but learned that God uses our strengths & weaknesses to make us who we are. The stinkbug thinks that his stink might run people off, but it ends up saving the other bugs from a predator, so he learns that it's a good thing after all. All of the bug's childhood stories have a similar quality, recognizing that God made them the way they are for a purpose. In the end, the little flea who has been questioning his purpose all along realizes that God made him to be an missionary among the bugs & he goes off to spread the Gospel.

Overall, the video was very cute & I'd recommend it to friends with elementary aged kids. I am not sure that children younger than 5 or 6 would understand the message or make through an hour long movie, though.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Crazy Love: Chapter 2


I just finished chapter 2 and like the first chapter, I really wanted to rush ahead & keep reading, but I'm forcing myself to stop & really let this chapter soak in before I plug ahead.

Chapter 2 is titled "You might not finish this chapter". At first, I thought he was saying that there would be information that might offend or throw people off the course of reading the book, but in fact, the author spends the chapter reminding us, the readers, of the brevity of life. This is something I've discovered & focused on more and more over the course of the past few years throughout personal tragedies & the losses in my friends' lives, but have never seen it put into words quite like Mr. Chan does.

His description of it goes something like this. (paraphrased) Our lives are like a scene in a movie. If our 2/5 of a second in the movie is a shot of the back of our head as we walk down the street, how arrogant would we be to rent out the entire theater & invite everyone we know to come watch this movie ABOUT US? The movie's not about us, but we all live like it is. He goes on to say it like this. In 50 to 70 years, give or take, we'll be dead. Everyone we know will be dead. No one will care what kind of car we drove or what house we lived in or what schools we attended. All that will matter is where we stand with God at that point. He challenges the readers to think about it & ask themselves...are you ready?

He tells the stories of several people whose lives were over in an instant, at times when no one saw it coming, lives cut short early in the game. We ALL know someone whose life ended that way. A child, a friend who was a young mom, a successful businessman running his own company. Every one of us has felt that loss of a sudden & untimely death. And the truth is, that could be any of us. A car wreck, a freak accident, a flash flood, a sudden disease. We really don't know. Are you ready?

Mr. Chan's take on stress & worry made my heart flutter. I love the way he describes our "justifying" stress. See, the Bible tells us "Rejoice in the Lord always & again I say REJOICE". It doesn't end with "....unless you've got a really stressful situation in your life". We can't somehow decide that our stressful situation justifies ignoring God's command to rejoice always. Do we really believe that our job/family/illness stress is somehow large enough that we have the right to disobey God's words telling us to rejoice in all things?

His definitions of stress & worry tickled me, too!

Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives. Stress says that things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, lack of grace with others and our tight grip of control.
These 2 behaviors communicate that it's okay to not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry & stress reek of arrogance. In the context of God's strength, our problems are small indeed.

Wow. I don't see myself as a worrier, but man....even I, queen of positivity (at least at my house), felt a stab in my heart on that one. Ouch.

This chapter conveyed over & over that we need to get over ourselves. It's not about us anyway! It's over in a heartbeat. We all KNOW that, but do we really LIVE that? Do you believe it enough to change the way you live?

Summer, Days 17-18 (Sun June 13 & Mon June 14)

If you read my post titled "Dear Jim..." yesterday, then you know about the big event of the day yesterday. So I'll just skip that & move onto today.

If you haven't been reading my blog long, you don't know about Savannah's best buddies who are twins. In Kindergarten & 1st grade, she was in the same class with one or both girls. The summer after 1st grade, their dad's job moved them a few hours away. I never DREAMED that this many years later we'd still be in touch & visiting with them, but here we are! All three girls remain best friends after 7 years of living in a different town! I'm telling you, when my kid bonds with someone, she BONDS with them. :) Today we met them in a nearby town to send Savannah off on her several days long adventure in their town. We've tried to work out having the girls come here for years now but between their homesickness & my working 2 days/week (which would necessitate them staying home alone for several hours 2x during the week), it just never seems to work out. One day, though....I have my sites set!

After dropping of Savannah & visiting with my mother in law and grandmother in law (who came to meet us too!) we made a quick trip over to my father in law's house. It's always good to see family & check up on them. Jim is in poor health & he was having a rough day today. I'm concerned about him. If you think about it, add him to your prayer list.

We made the long drive back home and stopped at a local Movie Gallery store that is going out of business & selling off their merchandise. The store is getting more empty by the day & I've been watching the stock through the windows when I've passed through the parking lot, so the kids & I stopped to take a look at what they have. We got a few movies for our collection. I love finding a bargain!

Tomorrow, it's back to work!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dear Jim...

Thirteen years ago, Larry & I found our church home. About 9 months into our membership, the elders came to our Sunday School class to talk to the class briefly about the church's desire to hire a Lay Ministries pastor. To be quite honest, I didn't know what a lay ministry was or why we needed a pastor for it. I listened to their presentation & was still kind of lost, but a month or two later when they introduced us to the candidate for the position, I voted 'yes' for his hiring. I didn't immediately 'click' with Jim, but I did like him & everyone else seemed to be on board with hiring a pastor for the lay ministries. I know, I know...lame excuse for a church member, huh?

Fast forward a year. Larry & I had fallen in love with Jim. He was one of the most caring, encouraging souls you'll ever meet. We loved to hear him teach and his heart for missions was evident from day 1. Every time something fell apart in our life, Jim was there to pat us on the back & tell us that we'd be OK and then point us back toward God.

In the late 90s, Larry took a job at the church doing maintenance & janitorial work. He began having lunch with Jim on those days, talking with him about things beyond the typical pastor/church member conversations. The two of them shared their lives, prayed for each other, talked through tough things and became good friends. Don't get me wrong, Jim was still our pastor in every sense of that role, but he was also a friend. When Larry was hurt at work in 2002, Jim beat me to the ER & met me at the door to tell me what was going on when I got there. When Savannah asked Jesus into her heart, Jim talked to her to make sure she understood what she was doing. When Larry decided to go back to school & get his seminary degree, Jim mentored him and encouraged him to pursue his calling. And in late 2004 when Larry took the job at Rose Heights, Jim patted him on the back & told him how proud he was of him.

Throughout the 4 1/2 years we were at Rose Heights, Jim & Larry's friendship continued. Every time I saw him, he'd hug me & say things like "Hi Beautiful!" or "There's Larry's better half". Every conversation with Jim leaves you feeling like a million bucks. He's just one of those people that makes you smile & feel more confident because of who he is. And more than that, he's one of those people that makes you long seek the face of Jesus because of what you see in him.

In the Spring of 2009 when Larry & I faced the reality that our season at Rose Heights was over, we talked to Jim about how to go about leaving. He was such an instrument of love & compassion during that hard, hard time. He held our hands & hugged us & told us how much he'd missed seeing us on our first Sunday back at our old church last Easter. Just seeing that familiar face who met us with open arms was all we needed to feel 'at home'.

Throughout the past 12 years, Jim's been such a great influence on our family. Not just as a pastor, but as a great friend and confidante, a mentor & encourager.

A few weeks ago, we received a phone call from our senior pastor telling us that Jim would be leaving the church. There were no moral failures or sin issues or that sort of thing. The church is going in a different direction and Jim is moving elsewhere. We were way beyond stunned, but felt honored that our pastor took the time to call us personally & explain what was going on before we heard it second or third hand through the grapevine.

Today there was a reception at a church member's house to tell Jim goodbye. I couldn't bring myself to use those words though. I was really at a loss for what to say, as I'm sure many of the people there were. As always, Jim was a greater encourager & comforter to us on such a sad day than we were to him. He hugged us & talked about the future and reminisced about the past. There were no outward emotions of grief or loss, no matter what was going on inside his heart. I pray that this wasn't just a front he was putting on for all of us. If I know Jim, it wasn't. He doesn't get stressed about much. He smiles & trusts God and moves forward. And I love that about him. As he & Cheryl move forward in life, I pray that we will not lose contact with them. That would be a far greater loss than the one our church & our family is feeling now.

So Jim and Cheryl, God bless you. Thank you for your years of service, for the lives you've led before us, for the time you have invested in all of us at the church and especially our family. Thank you for the examples of "Jesus with skin on" you've been for us. Thank you for the hours spent talking & praying & mentoring. Thank you just doesn't seem like enough. You are precious people and we will not forget you as you move ahead with whatever God has in store for you next.

God bless you. We love ya!

Note: We had written much of this in a card & intended to give it to Jim & Cheryl today at the reception, but our dash 'ate' the card before we got there. One day when we take the dash off to change out the headlights or something (ha ha), we'll find it & give it to them, but til then....this blog post will have to suffice.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crazy Love: chapter 1

About 2 years ago (I think?), Larry got wind of a new book on the market by a pastor named Francis Chan. The guy was, at that time, just hitting the mainstream Christian view & he was taking people by storm with his book titled Crazy Love. Larry got the book & read it and was left unimpressed. Soon after he sold the book on or bookmooch or something. Never the less, I've heard a thousand people rave about this book since that time & have wondered if I'd feel the same way my husband did. I haven't pursued reading it until about a month ago when I finally decided to buy a copy & see what I thought. I got a Barnes & Noble gift card from one of my students at the end of the school year, so I went on the site & found a cheap used copy & made my purchase. It came in the mail last week and while I wanted to start it, I was eyeball-deep in a book by Karen Kingsbury, so I decided to wait til I finished that one to start it. I mentioned it tonight on Facebook and got a lot of comments about it, so I thought I'd write up a little book review.

After laying in the bathtub with some bubbles & reading chapter 1, I was tempted to lay there & get pruned up & read several more chapters, but decided I needed to go to bed & sleep instead. I really wanted to keep reading, though. Not because of the book's words, but because of the things the words said to me...the marvel & awe I was feeling for the God of the universe...the sense of worship & humility the author's words brought me to. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the book, but just like I enjoy the lyrics & tunes of the praise & worship songs at church, I am left in wonder & awe of the God I'm singing TO and that's what worship's all about.

I don't want to give away the whole book, so I'm just going to post some of my favorite parts along the way as I read the book. I hope you will be inspired & left longing for your first Love as you read along with me.

*"Men are never duly touched & impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God." -RC Sproul

*His perfect holiness, by definition, assures us that our words can't contain Him. Isn't it a comfort to worship a God we can't exaggerate?

*Not being able to fully understand God is frustrating, but it is ridiculous for us to think that we have the right to limit God to something we are capable of understanding. What a stunted, insignificant God that would be!

*It is sobering to realize that this is the same God who is holy & eternal, the Maker of the billions of galaxies and thousands of tree species in the rainforest. This is the God who takes the time to know all the details about each of us. He does not have to know us so well, but He chooses to.

*God is the only Being who is good, and the standards are set by Him. Because God hates sin, He has to punish those guilty of sin. Maybe that's not an appealing standard. But to put it bluntly when you get your own universe, you can set the standards. When we disagree, let's not assume it's His reasoning that needs correction.

Much of the rest of the chapter reminded me of this beautiful worship song that we sang at our old church. I love those Scripture-filled worship songs that make you want to fall on your face before God.

Summer, Days 15-16 (Fri & Sat June 11 & 12)

Oops...I missed a day again. Oh well, I may play catch up all summer long, so expect lots of multiple-day posts like this.

I spent the majority of the day yesterday folding laundry. I know, I know. It's really a thrill a minute over here. Truthfully, I have an awful habit of washing & drying the laundry & then letting the baskets of clean clothes sit. I don't seem to have any trouble getting them washed, but having time to fold each load & put it away is a struggle. I *KNOW* that if I'd just fold each load as it comes out the dryer, it would eliminate the problem, but know how that goes. Perhaps I can break the cycle this summer?

Today was the best Saturday I've had in a long, long time. I woke up at 7am with a little boy's face pressed up next to mine asking about having a lemonade stand. Umm...hello? It's 7:00am. No dear, no lemonade stand right now. Maybe later. I dozed back off & the next thing I knew, I was waking up to see that my bedside clock said 10:42!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOSH. Even as a teenager, I never ever slept that late. Wow. I got up & had my bowl of honey nut cheerios. Sarah sat & talked to me while I ate & told me how she'd had an icecream sandwich with her breakfast and Samuel had some pretzels. Good heavens! This is what happens on the one day that mom sleeps late. ha ha! I figured they wouldn't die from malnutrition, but I made sure to explain to them that their bodies do not need to start the day on that sort of breakfast anymore.

We went to see Shrek Forever After this afternoon. It was very cute & very sweet. If you've seen and enjoyed the previous Shrek movies, this one is good, too.

We came home & everyone had some reading time before it was time to cook supper. We had breakfast for supper....eggs, toast, berries & bacon. Yum yum yum. Afterward, it was UNO tournament time followed by 2 episodes of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

I'm telling you.........the best Saturday ever!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer, Day 13-14 (Wed & Thurs June 9 & 10)

Oops...forgot to post yesterday! I'll catch up here.

On Wednesday morning, Samuel headed off to day camp like this.

You see, at Cub Scout day camp, they have a "Swaps Day". The boys all come with a million little things pinned to their hats & they can swap those items out with all the other boys in camp. Larry left with him about 8:00 & by 8:35, I was in the car to enjoy my day with the girls (more about that later). Before we even left the house, it started raining. No problem, though. Cub Scout day camp is held rain or shine. They have a back up plan for the kids in case they have to quickly pick up & move indoors for inclimate weather. {Side note: Blogger's telling me that inclimate is spelled incorrectly. I think I'm right, but if it's really wrong, then I stand corrected Blogger!}

The girls I went to the school where I work & spent an hour or so getting the floors cleaned. That's one of my summer jobs. I mop & vacuum at my school. We got done there & moved to Chuck E. Cheese where we met some friends for an hour or so of fun playtime. Since none of us like the food there (just the games!), we moved to a deli next door for lunch. At just shy of 1:00, we left to go walk around the mall & kill time til it was time to pick up Samuel (2:30). On a whim, I called the house to check the messages. There were THREE asking me to come pick up Samuel at day camp. Apparently at 10:30 that morning, they had begun calling & the last call had come just a few minutes before I called to check the messages. Good grief.........WHY DIDN'T THEY CALL MY CELL PHONE???!!! I had it with me all day long! I could've been there HOURS sooner. Grrrr! Sometimes ya have to wonder about people. If you go to the trouble of calling THREE times & don't get me, check the registration form I filled out & call one of the other numbers listed! :::sigh::: When I arrived, my very wet & very cold little boy was ticked off that I hadn't come to his rescue sooner. I had to wait til we were in the car to tell him that it was due to his leaders' incompetence that I didn't come sooner! Apparently when it started raining early in the day, the whole group had gotten soaked to the bone. They brought them indoors to an air conditioned gymnasium where they all shivered & felt miserable most of the rest of the day. I felt terrible about leaving him like that and when he took a nap that afternoon, I was really afraid he was getting sick from being wet ALL DAY LONG!

He recovered though & felt fine today (Thurs 6/10). Since it was still raining, he decided to go to work with me today. My class had our last day of focusing on Summer Foods, so we had an ice cream day. We made ice cream in a baggie, had a graph during Circle Time about everyone's favorite ice cream flavors and did 2 art projects about ice cream.

This afternoon, we made a stop at the local video game store so that Samuel could trade in a game he previously bought & didn't enjoy. While we were there, the guys behind the counter had a pizza delivered from Papa John's. I thought it smelled heavenly, but I guess I'm officially a grown up. I thought the pizza smelled good, but I was really just ready to get home & cook this! We had it with supper tonight.

How is your summer going??

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer, Day 12 (Tues June 8)

We did several cool things today, but the best part of the day was tonight. Samuel's Cub Scout group has been learning about engineering so two of the leaders (who happen to be engineers!) built a trebachet (like a catapult) and we all met at the lake tonight to fling stuff at a target. It was fun!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer, Day 11 (Mon June 7)

What a busy day! Let's see if I can sum it up in pictures.

I should give Larry credit for the first one, though. He delivered Samuel to day camp this morning for me.

I had to go up to the school & do the floors this morning. The girls went with me & (thankfully) entertained themselves really well! And I looked just as put together & cheerful as these ladies while mopping & vacuuming the preschool's floors! Really, I did. :)

Yes, I know this one's here twice....I had to go pick him up when it was over.

And here we are. How was your day?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer, Day 10 (Sun June 6)

Have I mentioned how much bliss I get out of summer? Tonight we took the kids to Marble Slab for a treat. If you don't know about Marble Slab, perhaps you've heard of Cold Stone Creamery. It's basically the same thing. Basically you pick one of a thousand yummy flavors of icecreams and then select one (or two, or ten) toppings that they mix into your icecream on a big marble cutting board sort of thing right in front of you and then they scoop it up & put it into a cone or a cup. Yum. I can't handle lots of dairy very often, but once in a while it's a special treat. So tonight we took the kids for a treat after supper. They loved it!

But do you know what I loved more?

The conversations that ensued at the table threw me into Mommy-Heaven. Somewhere between the gummy bear & Reese's pieces icecream scoops, we talked about special needs kids and allergies to all sorts of things (they were coming up with silly allergies that could perhaps be cured with cake-flavored oxygen). We spent the most time talking about caring for others (particularly those with various handicaps) and I heard compassion & love flowing from my kids' words.

Gosh I love these people I call my family. I'm one lucky lady!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer, Day 9 (Sat June 5)

What a great day!

I greeted the day with my mom & the kids and a pocket full of dollar bills. We went garage saling! I came home with a Scrabble Junior game, a set of gears with a remote control, a box of Tinker toys, a book, a CD, a movie and a skateboard for under $10. Oh yeah...gotta love a bargain!

I really had no idea that we had anything else fun planned, but Larry had a different idea. We went to a movie for the first time in months and saw Marmaduke. It was really cute! Here is a trailer for it to give you an idea of what it's about.

We got home & had supper (Meatballs in Veggie Gravy with Mashed Potatoes--yum!!) and watched an episode of House Hunters. Ahhhh....I love Saturdays!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer, Day 8 (Fri June 4)

My sweet hubby loves to play golf. He's not the greatest player (it's ok...I can say it...he'll tell you himself!) but he loves the game. I've been with him once, to drive the cart. Today he went and took Savannah with him for the same reason. She was thrilled to get to do that, but on about the 6th hole some old fuddy-duddy came by and told them that she was not allowed to drive the cart. I think that's nuts because I know that last year when I drove him around, I saw several kids there with their dads, driving the carts! Maybe they've cracked down on underage cart driving since then? Anyway, they went along with the new rule. You know, as long as people were nearby & could see them. tee hee!

Savannah served as the photographer for the day while driving (& riding) in the cart. I thought she did pretty well. I love the last shot!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer, Day 7 (Thur June 3)

Ok, first of all, I have no idea what's up with my background. If it looks funky to you, you're not alone. (Edited to add: I removed it & changed to a solid it?)

Now.....onto my day......

Have I mentioned that I love summer? I should clarify that. I hate the Texas weather I have to live through in the mid-May til mid-October months. But I do love having my kids at home, having a more relaxed schedule, being able to stay up til 1am watching a DVD of old Friends episodes if I want to, sleeping past know, all the stuff that is non-summerish.

Today was a work day for me. The kids are going with me again this year. Savannah's been the helper in my classroom for the past 2 summers while Samuel & Sarah went to the school-aged kids' class. Samuel's been begging for me to let him help in my classroom for the last 6 months, so we decided that maybe Savannah could stay home this year and he could come to my room to help. I wasn't entirely comfortable with Savannah staying home that many hours a day, however I keep trying to remind myself that she really is old enough to do so if need be. This Mama's just a little paranoid. it turns out, the teacher next door to me really needs a helper in her room because she has really LITTLE children that require 2 sets of hands, so she's recruited Savannah to be her helper this summer. Samuel decided after just 1 day in my classroom that he wants to go to the school-aged classroom at least one day a week. Today was his day to go to his own class. It was just fine with me because I'm VERY blessed with a good class. A few needy ones, but no little devils! Whew!

Tonight we go to celebrate something REALLY cool! A few years ago at the elementary school where my kids go, some girls formed a recycling 'club' called Green Girls. Their goal was to encourage all the kids in the school to recycle items from their lunchboxes (and hopefully to encourage their families to do it at home). In the Fall of the 2008-2009 school year, Samuel & his buddy Brady created a group called "Trash Men". I think they wanted to prove that the boys could do cool things for the environment too. Their teachers (and I!) really figured the novelty of giving up recess to pick up trash would wear off quickly. But it didn't. They continued throughout the whole year, putting up posters at school for other kids to join them. At the end of the year (spring 2009), they got awarded for creating & running an organization in their school. When school began this past fall, I wondered if they'd even remember the group....and they did! Just a few weeks into the school year, Brady's family moved away and Samuel had to figure out what to do with the boys-only club. He decided to allow girls to join as well & they renamed it Trash Patrol. A month or so back, a member of the local Keep (our town's name) Beautiful group contacted us about entering the kids' groups into a state level contest for youth-initiated environmental endeavors. They won first place!!! It's a $100 prize and the kids have decided to give the $$ to the school for recycling/beautification use. Very exciting! We're so proud of the kids!! Tonight, they received awards on a local level with the city's group. We'll travel to Austin in a few weeks to receive the state-level award. Way to go Green Girls & Trash Patrol!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer, Day 6 (Wed June 2)

Today the kids & I got started on our daily 30 minutes of reading. I started on a book I've had sitting on my bedside bookshelf for MONTHS. See, I used to be a major Karen Kingsbury fan. I'm not opposed to reading her stuff these days, but I read so many of her books in a (relatively) short period of time that I found myself figuring out the plotline & resolution to the book halfway through. She got predictable. And when things get predictable, I get bored. But you see..... I spent FIFTEEN books (these: Redemption, Firstborn, Sunrise) loving the Baxter family so I have to see how things end up in the last series that is connected to their characters. So I'm reading Take One. It is the first book in the final series.

The kids all successfully finished a chapter book. They all stretched their reading time on after the 30 minutes were up, but they finished a book each!

It has taken Samuel the greater part of 3 weeks to do it, but today he FINALLY finished cleaning his room. Well...just about finished it. Crossing my fingers that he & I can hit it and finish it up tomorrow afternoon after work!

I think that's about it for today! How is your 6th day of summer going?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Days: 1-5

Summer, Day 1:
8:00am We met my parents about 20 miles away & embarked on a trip to Branson, Missouri. I've been a couple times as a kid & my parents have been a ton of times, but the rest of my family (and my niece, who joined us) had never been. We drove 470-ish miles that day & arrived in Branson about suppertime. After a nice meal at Bob Evans, we checked into the hotel & took the kids for their first swim of the summer in the hotel's indoor pool. It was a great way to end a long day of driving. (That's my mom in the pic with all the kids.)

Summer, Day 2:
8:00am We left the hotel to head to Silver Dollar City. It's a really fun amusement park. This is our whole crew when we first got there.

We had fun riding the Flooded Mine, Thunderation (Larry & the kids only), Fire in the Hole (everyone but my mom & dad), and the Powder Keg (Larry, Samuel & Savannah the name of the ride to watch a quick video of it). I think there were other rides as well, but I can't remember all the names. Everyone but by dad went to the entrance of Marvel Cave with great anticipation of going into it, but a couple of the kids chickened out after we'd gone down a few levels of stairs. I went back to the top with them (man oh man those stairs were STEEP going back up!) and waited with my dad while the others trekked into the center of the earth or something close. We left the park about 4:30pm and headed back to the hotel to clean up before going to see the Shoji Tabuchi show.

Shoji is from Japan (I think?) and has been in Branson for about 20 years doing this show. While he is the owner of the theater & main attraction of the show, the million dancers & huge band certainly make the show what it is. They are a very talented group of people & we had a fun evening watching all the singing, dancing & music.

Summer, Day 3:
8:00am We left the hotel for Springfield, Missouri's Bass Pro Shop. Apparently it is the largest of all the Bass Pro Shops. And large it is! This picture does nothing to show the enormity of this building! I don't have a wide enough lens to get it all!

Even if you're not interested in sporting goods, you'd find something cool to see in this store!! There were live animals everywhere as well as a ton of 'stuffed' animals. I can tell you that I'm not a huge fan of admiring dead stuffed animals, but the way they worked them into the 'landscape' of this store was really cool. In the middle of the toy department, there was a (stuffed) opossum hanging from a tree. In the shoe department, there were (stuffed) skunks 'chasing' each other on the top of shoe displays. It's hard to describe, but it was really neat to see. The kids had a blast climbing in/on all the boats (well, pontoon boats...ya know, party barges!) & ATVs.

Unfortunately about the time we left, Savannah was struck with a migraine that made the next several hours of her day pretty miserable. After we pulled over (due to her nausea) on the side of the highway several times, we finally made it back to the hotel where she & I layed down to rest while the others went to a go-cart track to play for a while. Thankfully after a couple hours' of sleep, she was able to get rid of the migraine & woke up feeling like doing something!

My mom & I took all four kids to some shops to look around at the souvenirs & stuff. We went to eat dinner afterward at a restaurant we hit a couple of times during the trip: McFarlain's. After supper, Larry & my dad wanted to hit a local show called Pierce Arrow. The kids & I were anxious to get in one more swim before we had to leave for home, so we stayed at the hotel for 1 more trip to the pool.

Summer, Day 4:
8:00am We left the hotel bright & early to get on the road home. We drove through a little bit of rain early in the morning, but that passed and we had a pretty clear day all the way home. It 6-something before we got home. After a very long day of driving, we were all ready to be home!

We could've have made this trip without my parents, who not only acted as tour guides, but also payed our way! I'm thankful for sweet family!

Summer, Day 5:
Back to work! Today was the first day of summer school at my school. All three kids went with me. Savannah was a helper for the teacher next door. Samuel was my helper & Sarah went to the school-aged kids' class. I kind of suspect that Samuel will end up going to the school-aged kids' class before the summer is over because he was kind of bored today. He's determined to do it, though, so he may stick it out just to prove me wrong. (Hmm....stubbornness....I can't imagine where he'd get that trait!)

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when we can get started on our summer reading program and summer chores, and even better.....sleeping late! {Please don't call my house before 9:00am unless it's an emergency or you KNOW I'm up.} I've got a few books awaiting me and the time to spare to read them! I can't wait!