Sunday, February 26, 2012

"A Still, Small Voice"

 I have just returned from undoubtedly one of my favorite places on earth..Oneida, Tennessee.  Oneida itself is nothing spectacular..there is, however, a Wal Mart and a Sonic which makes me happy. But in all honesty, that is about all that is exciting in the small town. But if you travel down "the road by the funeral home" (I stink at knowing names of streets), and be sure you go straight at the fork in the road by the abandoned carry out, and you can drive carefully enough down the winding road so as to not end up in someone's driveway and stay on the gravel will end up here...a gorgeous cabin in the middle of nowhere. The thought of it makes my heart leap and my stomach get those little butterflies that happen when you know you are going to smile from the tip of your toes to the top of your head...I love this cabin.

My brother called me a few weeks ago and said, "let's go to the cabin!".  Without hesitation I said, "I'm in!" He worked hard at all the arrangements for all 14 of us, the dates that we could all go, figuring out how we could get dad there complete with his recliner so he would have a place to sleep. I got the text that said, "We are good to go!"  There's those butterflies again!

Last Wednesday morning we met at his church to load up all 7 kids, way too much luggage, potty chairs, booster and car seats, high chairs, pack and plays, and one "man with a cane". :)  It took 1 SUV, 1 mini SUV and one pick up truck..but we were on our way to Oneida! 

We got there Wednesday afternoon and immediately were excited! Kids scampered everywhere, adults (I use that term lightly!) :)   carried luggage to "Our rooms", and the man with the cane quickly settled into his recliner. Smiles were every where. I could take the time to go in to all the details of our going to the national park, watching rachel play Twister with the kids, campfires and smores, flashlight hikes, hot tub time, eating and eating and eating..but you don't really care about that. My heart just wants to share what the Lord gave me this week.

Thursday night/Friday morning we had gone to bed sometime around 1 am. (after a rousing game of "LOGO", to the which my sister killed us at!) I laid in bed until around 3. I don't know why sleep was not welcome that night, but I believe the Lord had other things in mind for me. Around 3 am, I was giving up on sleeping. My favorite place at the cabin is the front porch. I decided to go downstairs and spend some time with the Lord out there. I tried my best to sneak down the stairs and out the front door.  I turned the porch light on and curled up on the porch swing...just me and my Bible.  My heart has been so burdened for things lately. I have friends who are hurting. I have a friend who is deathly ill and coming to the end of a long, hard battle. I am longing to see revival in my Jr. Church class.  I am worried about my dad. I could keep going, but really, you get the point.. :)  I poured my heart out to God, at times talking so fast that I'm sure even He was laughing at my incessant talking. I told Him how many "horrible things" were happening and even began questioning where He was in all this mess. The "whys" and the "hows" and the "whens" were heavy and painfully loud to Him.  After I felt I couldn't lay one more thing into His hands, I opened up my Bible. Part of me seemed to be saying, "Now fix it! Give me the answers now!" 

I turned immediately to I Kings 19.  I began to read of Elijah. He was feeling sorry for himself and had found his "rest" under the juniper tree. He was tired, weary, ready to throw in the towel. The burdens were too much.  Me too, Elijah. Me too!!

*short rabbit trail* In the woods where we were, you can "hear" the wind before you actually feel it or see the movement it is causing.  I love that!

I heard the wind coming. I lifted my head and closed my eyes waiting to feel the cool breeze.  It wasn't long before I did. Back to I Kings.  Elijah was awakened by an angel who was there to feed him. (that in and of itself would've caused me to ..let's just say, need to change my undies!)  Elijah needed more.  I kept reading, hanging on every word.

"And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD [came] to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?"

Elijah went on to basically say that he has done all he can, and yet everyone has turned their back on him and the things of God. He was ready to throw in the towel. The Lord told him to go stand on the mountain. He sent a strong wind..(I bet he heard it before he felt it!)  The Lord wasn't in that. He sent an earthquake. Not the Lord. He even sent fire straight from above. Not the Lord either. Then...

"...and after the fire, a still, small voice." 

Then, and only then, did God show Himself. Then and only then did He set up the plan that He had for Elijah. I heard the wind coming again.

I lifted my head again to get ready to feel the breeze that was headed my way. This time my eyes were filled with tears and my heart was broken. I didn't need to wait for the earthquakes, or the great winds, or the fire. Here, in the middle of the night, in the middle of no where...I was completely surrounded by that still small voice.  I heard Him. I thought of the people just behind me. Sleeping directly behind me was my mom. No greater woman has ever crossed my path. She loves the Lord with all her heart. No greater example of a wife, mother, pastor's wife, friend, or Prov 31 lady has ever been given to anyone than she. In the next room, my sister. Rachel is my best friend.. she loves her husband and her boys more than life. She serves the Lord and proves to me every day that I couldn't make it without her. My brother and sister in law. I have learned so much from them. My brother LIVES what he preaches. He makes me proud to be his sister every single day. Upstairs my husband sleeps. My world was in that room. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I realized the gifts I have been given. I love being Mrs. Randy Snell. My dad. So much I could say. I love my daddy and love gleaning from him and his ways. I have been blessed.  I don't need the magnificent "storms" of life to show me the way. I don't have to have my world turned upside down to see Him work. I was sitting in front of a cabin full of people who have taught me how to trust Him. It was the QUIET assurance that filled my heart with joy..with peace. I heard His voice.

I heard the wind coming again. It was the only sound you could hear for miles. There were no cars, no city noise, no sirens or even dogs barking. I thought about that voice. You know, if we are quiet enough, we can "hear" the Lord before we "feel" Him. We know He is there, without the need of earthquakes and fires. His still, small voice is enough.

I am so thankful for the past week. I am beyond thankful for the hard work, time and money my brother put in to make this time possible. I loved every single minute of being with my family. I was reminded of how blessed I am. I was over joyed with the time I got to spend with each and every one of my nieces and nephews. I laughed until I cried at Stacey. (don't ask!) :)    I loved being with my mom and dad. But I will never forget my quiet time with the Lord that morning. I'm grateful beyond words for that still, small voice!!

This week reminded me why I love my siblings. Thanks, Travis and Rachel! I love you guys!!!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black, Heart-Broken, Disgusting, Congested,Deadly,Excellent Friday

The annual Burke sibling highlight of the year has come and gone once more, and with it another wonderful 10 hours of memories. After a wonderful afternoon in Dayton with family for Thanksgiving, we headed home; but not for a night of watching another Bengals loss and to sit and regret the eating of too much of Mama Hudson's awesome turkey, but to drop off the kids, dress warmly, grab newspapers ads, and head out to conquer another Black Friday! (apologies to my mother for the serious run-on sentence).
It was in the dark of night, at 10 p.m. when this year's adventure would begin(that's why it is called 'Black Friday'-a little unknown fact to all). Our night would start at perhaps one of the word's greatest establishments-White Castle. There, we would meet and strategize our evening before meeting everyone else. This year was to be a little different than those past, for this year my wife Stacey came along (for the first few hours). For years she has avoided going saying foolish statements like "You guys are idiots," "Why would anyone in their right mind do that?" or "You'll never catch me out there with 'those' people." We always told her she was wrong and just needed to come once; and let's just say, she is coming back next year!
My wife and I arrived at White castle before Chrystal. There we enjoyed a 20 minute date (take what ever you can get these days). After two double cheeseburgers, small fry, and a large unsweet tea for me and 2 chicken sandwiches and half my fries for Stacey, Chrystal arrived. There was only one more 'couple' in the store, but we chose to sit at the table with the really, really high stools-just to watch Chrystal get up in was worth it-quite a laugh!
Following Chrystal's quickie meal, we got out the papers and strategized. First stop would be Walmart! Now let me first say (in case any CEOs or marketing people are reading), that the sales were pretty weak this year-you could have done better! But, walmart seemed to be the best option. There we would meet Rachel and Ricky who were so missed these last few years as they were propagating the earth (this was the first Thanksgiving in two years Rachel wasn't pregnant).
Walmart wasn't too busy at 10. A few were there to get laptops and tv's, but we really were able to walk around and pick out where we wanted to go. Now, if you've never been to a walmart on this evening, you must understand that every big-ticket item is somewhere in an aisle covered in thick plastic wrap. At midnight, this plastic wrap will be removed and all items are first come/first serve; so you must get near your item as early as possible. Of course it is against the rules to get an item from beneath the plastic wrap before midnight; but how can anyone get to all of those things he/she needs in the five minutes it takes for all items across the store to be picked through? Impossible! So that is why, "Baby Timmy" was sleeping beneath the coats and sweatshirts in our cart.
By now, the gang is all here! Three Burke siblings, two spouses, Jordan Wilson, Nate Morgensen, Anthony Poor, and the pleasant surprise of Rob and Becky Webster! We would see many others we know and love through out the night as well. After a few trips around the store, we separated to 'man our post' near the items we desired.
Rob Webster and Anthony Poor were at one section (had typed where, but Bro. Rob's kids might read this and I don't want to give away a gift). Becky Webster was at another location (see reason for anonymous location above). Nate Morgensen was near his tool box and luggage. Rachel and Chrystal were at the Leapsters (story to come). I was at the Leggos (for Chrystal, not my son-in case he reads this). Jordan was at the vacuums for Becky Webster, and Stacey my dear wife was at a prayer answered for her.
For many years, my wife has wanted to be able to get for our church a Cricut. It cuts out letters and stuff.
They are quite expensive, and her pastor would not allow her to purchase one, but this evening they were over half off and a wonderful deal! She was so very excited when I told her we could get one for the church! She, with a huge smile, got in line for the cricut! There were only six of them available, and she was #2 in line! For the next two hours, she met and spoke with the other five wonderfully charming 'crafty' people in line with her. She shared with them her long time desire to have one of these machines for our church and what all she was going to be able to do with it at church! They even each chose which color they wanted and what cartridges they desired. There would be no grabbing and fighting for this group, only harmony, smiles, and Christmas spirit. Soon, it was midnight, and the plastic wrap came off and everyone got their cricut...sort of.
I always love it when its time for the items to be grabbed! The volume in the store goes up 300%, and the kindness and chivalry goes down that much. The plan was to meet back in front of the cash registers after each of got our items. Rob and Anthony got their things and soon arrived at meeting spot, I got my items for Chrystal, Chrystal and Rachel got their leapsters (story getting closer), Becky got her item, Jordan got his vacuum for Becky, Nate got his stuff, and we all met at aisle 6 with carts full of great deals....except for one.
I saw my wife coming towards me. I just knew that time would slow down and a nice rendition of a love tune would play in my head as she would run to me, embrace me, and share how she was so wrong about Black Friday and how it truly is a most wonderful experience to shop and be victorious and watch others fight and storm the aisles-but that didn't happen. Instead she was filled with tears (at first, I thought I had greatly underestimated her desire for a cricut, but that's not why she was crying). "What's wrong?" I began to ask, but then followed with a "You didn't get it?" No, she didn't! Black Friday was a heart-breaking night!
As the six 'cricut' people were getting their chosen colors, someone came and grabbed the blue one Stacey had chosen out of her fingertips and ran down an aisle. This lady hadn't been there two hours, but just ran up and took it from Stacey. There seemed to be no words adequate for the moment when Chrystal said, "What did she look like?" Now things were going to get good! Stacey described the little thief, I mean lady, I mean woman, and Chrystal went looking. I told Stacey she should have been 'meaner' and held on to that thing. She told me how she had just spent two hours talking about our church, me being pastor, and the Lord-how could she be mean? My wife told the lady it was hers seeing that she had waited two hours and was second in line; to which the lady responded "Is Your name on it?"
Chrystal was heading down the aisles looking for a blue cricut. Stacey was looking too and ask Chrystal what she would do if she found her. Chrystal said she would take it out of her hands/cart, and Stacey said, "And i will say, 'Is Your name on it?" Thankfully, the Lord blessed.
The man and wife #1 in line who Stacey had talked to so long came running up to Stacey and said, "Mam, we want you to have this cricut." Stacey said, "I will not do that, you were in line before me, I won't take it." "No," they replied, "we want you to have it, use it for your church..." and with tears in her eyes and my wife's she continued, "Have a Merry Christmas." They then hugged and shared 12:30 a.m.....over a was great!
By this time, half our group was on a search and destroy scavenger hunt for a blue cricut, Becky was 'holding down the fort' at aisle six, and I was trying to re budget to afford a cricut somewhere else. We all met again at aisle six when we saw Stacey coming holding a pink cricut in the air! With a giant smile on her face and tears down her cheeks she told us the story. We all clapped and 12:40 a.m....over a was great!
We then divied up our items and paid for our cricut, vacuums, tools, toys, 'Baby Timmy", and the Leapsters. Ah, those leapsters are quite a story too.
Because I was no where near Chrystal and Rachel for the Leapsters, I did not witness events first hand. So, I asked Chrystal to share her story about the Leapsters and this is her account of "Leapster-gate."
Rachel, Ricky and myself all decided to "camp" in front of the Leapsters. I wish I could say it was because I "had" to have one more than anything else this Christmas, but really we wanted to stay there because it had the most interesting and intense looking shoppers gathered around it! :) (although I did want one for my Lici, so it wasn't completely in vain!) At approx 10;30 pm we assumed our posts. Rachel was directly in front of the pink leapster I had my eye on, Ricky was in front of the Dora game that I absolutely needed to accompany my Leapster system, and I was running backup for both of them just in case things got out of hand. Turned out that it was a good thing I did that too...but that's not for 2 more hours!

The crowd gathered quickly around our posts. People were from all over, from all different ages, from all different backgrounds, but with one thing in mind...I MUST have a Leapster! Rachel quickly made friends with the Walmart Associate named Kelly. She decided that was our best ally in this adventure. Turned out Kelly was as scared as we were of these crazy people! The closer it got to midnight, the more people gathered around the Leapsters and the closer we had to mover to our pink one! A tiny, middle aged lady had moved right in behind Rachel and had squatted down directly behind her. I told Rachel to be careful, someone was right behind her. She turned and looked at the lady. Without even batting an eye she said, "Good thing you wore a skirt tonight because as soon as it's midnight I am grabbing my Leapster from in between your legs." WHAT????? Rachel never even hesitated. She responded, "Then I will kick you in the face." Everyone laughed...except Rachel!!!! It was getting close to midnight, and getting more intense by the second. A couple had moved in behind me very closely. The lady told her husband, "As soon as they start, just jump on these people and get it." I turned and looked at them with a face that I was hoping said, "if you jump on me, you will regret it". Fyi, they didn't get that out of my expression-but we will talk more about that in a minute! Ricky had lots of people asking him to grab games for them too. He is way too nice, and was sneaking his own large stash of games to be passed out right at midnight! Not long after this, a lady came up with a sob story of her own to try to get her hands on a Leapster. Her daughter has a disease..she "needs" one of those game systems to put a smile on her daughter's face. It was hard for me to feel too sorry for her. I told Rachel that if she wanted to play the sympathy, sickness card, then she was playing with the wrong person! My kid had more diseases than she wanted to know about, and she wasn't getting my Leapster! (sorry, but it was way too late, and I was way too tired and hungry to be playing games!) :)

At 11:55 Rachel asked for my camera, so she could take a picture of the people who at this point, were literally standing on top of the Leapster crates with some of the meanest scowls you have ever seen!! I handed her my camera. I yelled, "Smile", but before the word was out of my mouth someone started ripping open the crate!!! I yelled to Rachel to grab the Leapster. Remember the man who had plans to "jump over me"? He was trying to come thru with that threat. He jumped over my shoulder and was reaching for Rachel. He yelled some curse words and threw his elbow into my hip. Before you start to worry, I have plenty of padding on my hips for just such protection!! I just gave that hip a little shove, and the small man fell backwards. I told Rachel to stand her ground, turn and get out of there!! We jumped out of the pile of people just in time to see Ricky standing over in the middle of the health and beauty aisle politely handing out all the games he had stashed for his new friends! We made sure we had gotten all we needed for us and started towards our meeting point. On the way, Rachel looked at her hand. She had the scratches down her arm and hand to prove that we had been in battle tonight...but we looked in the cart to see how victorious we were!! We sang a victory song and kept marching. Did we HAVE to have that Leapster? Nah, I guess not. But I know one thing, Lici better LOVE it!!!!! And I sure love my sister for fighting so hard for it. What a blast!!!

What Chrystal didn't mention was the Princess game at Walmart. Earlier at White Castle, Chrystal shared how she had 'earned' two princess stickers from her family before leaving for our event. While she was at the Leapsters, she texted me and told me that she had secretly stuck the princess stickers on a cart of some lady, and if I could find the sticker I could win $10! Oh, it was on! After a very short walk (and promising to split the money with Jordan Wilson who saw the lady Chrystal gave it to) and a text to Jordan, I had the sticker in hand! I placed it on my nose and walked back to Chrystal and the large Leapster group. It was then I sought to collect my $10 and she had to eat humble pie (worth far more than the $10!). While standing there, we discussed our next stop after walmart.
The walmart associate, Kelly I presume, suggested we go to the outlet stores. Chrystal said we could, but everyone was supposed to wear pajamas there and we were not prepared. It was then I did my one very foolish thing of the evening.
I was prepared for cold weather and had my thermal shirt underneath my 'hoodie'. I raised the bottom right of my hoodie and said, "I could go, these could pass as pajamas." For some reason, everyone grew silent and stared at me with a look of fear. Now I know the thought of me in thermals isn't a pleasant thought...but fear? Come on!! It was while pulling down the hoodie that I realized the reason of their frightened faces. I forgot about my .38 revolver that I was carrying. Ooops. But on the bright side, nobody stopped me from getting what I wanted.
That pretty much was walmart, except for one more thing.
While standing at aisle six to check out, a thin lady wearing all green about three aisles down stopped suddenly. We continued our conversation but was watching this lady acting oddly. It was then in one motion that she doubled over and started to hurl the obvious salad and turkey (with obvious stuffing with celery) and corn. SPLAT was the sound as it hit the ground, not once, but three times. Let's just say there were long lines in every aisle to check out, except for aisle 3. Truly now, it had been a Black, Heart-broken, and Disgusting Friday...and that is just stop one of or night.
We quickly scampered to our cars and left for stop number 2, Toys R Us. We had heard all night the horror stories from walmart. Huge lines, long waits, and mean people is all we heard about. Toys R Us had been open for a while already, but we were after none of their 'big ticket' items, so we thought it safe to wait until now to go. The mad rush was obvious over, but there were still long waits. There was a line that snaked through every aisle on the left side of the store all the way to the back of the store-just to look at video games! We didn't look at video games. We immediately put into action one of our efficient black friday tools as Chrystal got in line to pay while I shopped. Fighting through crowds I picked up a few things and then switched with Chrystal while she shopped. Fighting through crowds and packed aisles wasn't Rachel's thing. She then shouted out, "I can't go any further!" And, she didn't.
She sat down in the aisle and rested. The line to check out snaked all the aisles on the right side of the store and doubled back into the left side of the store. We were in Toys R Us for 2 hours, and one of us was in line the entire time. But, it was pretty much uneventful, but a complete success in getting what we were after. We almost didn't get the items though, because when I got to the cashier, Chrystal wasn't there. She tried to get to me, but it was blocked. She ran to the one side of the way in. She ran to the other side of the way in. Finally, she removed a couple of displays and gift wrap cartons and was able to make a way to me. Luckily, just in time to cash out!
It was now about 2:30 a.m. and we were thirsty and running low on caffine. We needed a White Castle stop. Stacey was heading home and I now jumped in the car with Jordan. When we got to White Castle, I saw the largest crowd at a White castle I had ever seen. While Jordan and Ricky got our drinks, me and my sisters planned the rest of our evening. Our next stop was to be Kohls which opened at 3:00 a.m. Perfect! After waiting in the lines at walmart and now white castle, it had definitely been a Black, heart-broken, disgusting, and congested Friday...and we weren't done yet!
We waited in our warm cars as everyone filed in. We quickly followed. I immediately got into line to pay as everyone else went to shop. I did, while in line, find a very comfortable pair of pajama pants for $7...Merry Christmas to me. The line was huge and the man behind me didn't like it. He kept huffing and puffing loudly and was one of those 'disregards people's personal space' kinda people. I literally felt his hot aired huffs on my neck and smelled the obvious white castle he earlier enjoyed as well. I knew he wasn't going to like it when my sisters, brother in law, and Jordan all joined me in line with all their stuff; but he would have to get used to it. Soon they did join me with many items and sure enough, he wasn't happy. He huffed loudly and this time growled. It would have demanded a response if it weren't for the elf lady.
Yes, the elf lady. This thin, frail, pale lady came walking towards us. She was going the wrong way through a one way check out line. She never smiled, never spoke, but looked straight ahead and just kept staring into space. Like the Red Sea, the line just kept dividing as she walked through us all. She wore a Green Santa hat with elf ears and just kept walking. We almost forgot about the Mean Huffer behind us due to her, until he huffed at the 'crazy elf lady' as he called her.
I figured the man needed a little joy in his life, and music brings joy to people. Chrystal had a toy for Lici in her hand to pay for called a singamajig or a thingamajig. Anyways, it opens its mouth in a perfect circle and sings and harmonizes with other singamajigs.
I decided to see if it worked, and me and the singamajig, with mouths open in circles sang and harmonized. It didn't work, he still huffed. That was about it for Kohls, except for the person that died. The ambulance was there to haul them out and now it had been a Black, Heart-broken, disgusting, congested, deadly Friday.

We were finally at our final stop-Target. They had opened at 4 a.m and we arrived at 4:15. Not bad! There we quickly picked up the last few items we were after and got in another huge check out line. This time though, there was no hot breathed huffer, but instead two nice men and a lady. We talked for 30 minutes about the ketchup packets at Chick-fil-A. Now that may sound weird, but they are truly great things. They come in the shape of a ketchup bottle and you can open it on both ends. One end squirts, the other opens up to dip. Squirt or dip! Great packets!
The only other funny thing is the amount of money Chrystal spent impulse buying while we were in line. She spent more money impulse buying than we did on gifts at Target. Randy has already forbade us from going to Target next year.
Ricky and Rachel bought there items, I bought mine, Chrystal bought hers, and then Jordan bought his-a pillow. As he was checking out, the cashier said, "I hope you didn't come here tonight to buy that pillow." We all laughed and headed out to our cars. The night was over and it truly was great.
I got home about 5:45 a.m. and laid down on my pillow with a smile on my face. I don't know why all those crazy people go out every year in the middle of the night and shop, but I know why I do. Family! God has blessed us with a great family that loves spending time with each other. Laughs, jokes, making others smile and enjoy life. It truly is....well, it's hard to find the right words I thought, while laying in bed. Then, I got a text! It was Jordan. He wrote, "Pillow is Excellent!" Excellent! The whole night was excellent! It truly was a Black, Heart-broken, Disgusting, Congested, Deadly, Excellent Friday! See you next year!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lessons I Learned From a Butter Knife

Yesterday was the first really pretty day here in Cincinnati in a very long time!! The sun was shining so bright I actually wore my sunglasses for the proper reasons! (sometimes I wear them on top of my head to keep my hair out of my eyes!:) I spent most of the day cleaning the bedrooms. I dusted, swept, changed felt great. Then I moved in to my bathroom. I got out my heavy duty cleaning gloves, my all-purpose cleaner with bleach, my Clorox Toilet cleaner....and I was standing in a sparkling clean bathroom in mere minutes. I started thinking about how great it is to have such wonderful cleaning products right at arms length to help make cleaning so much easier. My toilet cleaner is great. You just click the little blue sponge onto the bottom of the long white stick, swish it in the toilet a few times, then hold it over the garbage can and push the button and it falls in the trash...such technology!! Where was this stuff when I was little?! Then I thought, "who needed that stuff when you had butter knives"!!! Let me explain...

Growing up at our house was always an adventure! (at least that's what dad always said!) Travis and I had our "chores" that we had to do every day. (Rachel did when she was older too, but these specific chores were when she was still rather small.) Travis had to take out the garbage . I did the dishes every night. least the nights I couldn't convince mom my stomach hurt too bad to do them! *wink* We had to keep our rooms clean...stuff like that. We usually did them pretty well. All of them except one...WEEDS!!!!!

We lived in a ranch house in West Carrollton, Ohio.Recently Travis went by it and sent me a picture. (above) It looks run down some from when we were there, but it sure brings a smile to my face just seeing it again. So many memories in that old house. It wasn't big. It wasn't gorgeous. But it was the most beautiful place in the world to me. It was HOME. Anyway, it had a back patio, for lack of a better word. It's hard to describe that patio. It was just lots and lots of cement squares placed close to one another. The problem was, they weren't quite close enough. Weeds grew in between those slabs...thousands and thousands of weeds. I can still remember the sick feeling I would get in my stomach when dad would tell Travis and I to go get the butter knives. We knew what that meant!!! We had to go out back, in the scorching sun, get on our hands and knees and dig out all those by one..with our butter knife. Sometimes I would cry and beg dad to not make me do it!! I would fake near death to get out of it. It never worked. So Travis and I would head out the back door, and begin the daunting task of weed removal...with our butter knives! It would start out quiet. Neither of us would say a word. We would scrape our knuckles on the cement..secretly hoping for a bleed big enough that dad would let us stop. That never happened! But before long, we would start talking. (usually about how much we hated digging weeds) Then someone would "flip" their weed a little too hard and it would hit the other person. Of course the other person would then "accidentally" flip his or her weed in to the other one's face a little harder! The laughter would start. And of course the competition always was there too. "I can get my row done before you can."

We whined. We complained. We even cried over having to dig out all those weeds with that butter knife. But, you know what? I learned so much on that back patio. I learned about hard work. I learned it won't kill me. I learned satisfaction! I loved seeing it all done, and knowing we had done that all by ourselves! I learned that my brother wasn't the world's worst human being! I might even like him someday! :) I learned that butter knives don't just spread butter. If you promise to never tell dad...I'm glad he made us sweat over weeds on that back patio. I'm so glad I have those memories with my brother.

Today, I'm thankful for my Clorox Toilet Cleaner Brush...but I'm also thankful for that butter knife!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Caleb Sallee

This past Monday, my sisters and I and our families gathered at Rick and Rachel's house for Caleb's one year old party. We had a wonderful time. It is hard to believe that Caleb is now one year old! He thoroughly loved his cake (and so did I...only 340 calories :-) ) He loved playing with his new basketball set Stacey and I got for him as well....and I am sure he likes the other stuff others purchased for him...but none like Unkie Travis'!
We didn't play games, we didn't pull a prank, we didn't order Chinese (though I missed that), we didn't watch a movie or show, we just enjoyed family.
These past few months have been tough on all three of us sibling. Different battles and struggles. All three of us were tired, a little weary, and some what subdued. No one said anything, we just all knew and we all in glances, hugs, smiles, and nods encouraged each other, loved each other, and strengthened one another.
Life can be a battle, and in those battles, there is none better comrade than family.
I am thankful for my wife so much and for my sisters...hang in there!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Faith of a Child

I seem to be the only one of my siblings who remembers how to type these days, so I guess I will post 2 blogs in a row! :)

I usually write something about my childhood, or something that happened with my brother or sister, but something happened to me this week that I wanted to share with the world. Since I don't have a tv show or a radio broadcast then I figured this was the best way to share my story...the lesson that I learned ....

As I am sure you are all very aware my son Zachary has several health problems. (which I will sneak a quick note in here now asking you to pray for him and these issues! thanks :) We have to take frequent trips to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for various doctor appts. He has about 8 specialists down there now. I am quite comfortable in the hospital hallways. I have been making these trips for almost 8 years now. I usually come quite prepared. I know to bring the extra snacks, toys, and games for those "short" visits that can often become all day adventures. However, on this particular day I had worked all day at Zach's school. I had helped in the Kindergarten class since the time I dropped him off. I had remember to bring Zach's Nintendo DS for the long wait, but I had completely forgotten to bring the extra snacks and drinks.

Now, Zach eats lunch at school at 1030 every day. So when he gets home, he is always hungry for a little snack. This is why I am not winning Mother of the Year. I really should've known this. But I had forgotten. As soon as we were pulling out of the school parking lot I heard his little voice from the back of the van.."Mommy, I'm hungry!" I had one of those "You're a horrible mother" moments. "I'm so sorry, Zach. I forgot to bring you a snack." To the which Zach was quick to reply, "It's ok, we can stop at McDonalds!". Right!! McDonalds!! I started digging in my purse...10, 25, 35, ...well...52 cents won't buy us much at McDonalds these days!!

"I'm sorry, Zach. I have no money!" I was still feeling that horrible mother feeling! Now, while Zach is normally a good child, and has always been fairly well behaved..He has his ...well..his whiney moments.. This was one of them...Imagine the most annoying whiney 7 yr old voice you can imagine..."But, Mommy, I'm soo soo sooo hungry! I will starve to death if I don't get something to eat. You HAVE to find me something to eat!" I knew it could be a very long time before we got home from this appt. I felt horrible. He continued, "Fine, mommy. I will pray and ask Jesus to give me something to eat. He listens to me when I pray."

Oh, great!!! Now he is bringing Jesus and prayer in to this!! Now I'm feeling even more horrible!! It probably would've been a great time to teach him a lesson about prayer or trusting, or something wonderfully spiritual like that. Instead, I chose to pout. "Why do I never have cash? Why can't I remember to be a good mom? Why didn't I bring him a snack? UGH!!"

We pulled in to Children's Hospital, and I immediately went to what I have come to call "my" parking garage. It's just where I always park. It's where there seems to be a parking spot always open for me! We walked inside. Another "stupid mother" moment. We were walking in right in front of the cafeteria!!! As soon as Zach smelled the food the whining began again. "Are you sure you don't have any money, mommy? Nothing at all? I'm soo hungry!!" (and Zach can be quite dramatic too! I don't know where he gets that from :)

"I'm so sorry, Zach. I just don't have any money!" We were directly in front of the cafeteria door when a staff member of CCHMC stopped us. He had a very kind face. He stopped in front of Zach and held out his hand. I looked down. He was handing Zach some money. My heart stopped!!! Then he started talking...

"Hi! I work here at Children's Hospital. Someone turned in some money that they found. When we find money, we hold on to it for a couple of hours, but if no one asks for it then we find someone who looks like they might like some money and give it to them. Would you like some money?"

Now, you are probably thinking what I was thinking...NU-UH!!! That did not happen!!! Well, my friend, I can promise you that it most certainly did happen!!! Right before my very eyes!

Of course, Zach reached out and took the money with the biggest smile I have ever seen!! My eyes filled up with tears. The man probably thought I was a crazy lady! He was quick to say, "Ma''s only $4!".. I laughed. "No, it's just that..well..." I couldn't even find the words to say. I looked down at his name tag. I don't remember his name. But I will NEVER forget the sticker on it. It was a beautiful redbird!!! For those of you who know my mom, you know why the tears started rolling down my face. For as long as I can remember, my mom has used the redbird to symbolize a rememberance to God's promises. She has her own "redbird" that always seems to come visit her on just the days the Lord knows she needs him the most. When I pray for mom, I will often ask Him to send her a redbird as a reminder of His love to her to help her thru the day. When I saw that sticker on the man..I immediately knew Who that money was from!

Zach looked up at me and said, "Come on, mommy. Now we can go get a snack! Jesus answered my prayer." It was so "matter of fact" that I couldn't stop the tears. Oh to have his faith. I got such a great opportunity to talk to him about prayer, about the love of the Lord and about the lesson I had learned from him that day! We went in to the cafeteria. He got a snack, a big Gatorade and even a pop for me. The grand total...$4.02!!! God is so good!!!!!!
As soon as we got to our appt, I text mom.."Did you ask the Lord to send me a redbird today?" I quickly got her reply, "Yes, did He?" DID HE??? She had no idea!!!!

I am so thankful for the little things. I'm so thankful for His reminders. I'm so thankful for redbirds!! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sibling Wars?

Last Friday night, my family went on a fun family outing. We went to dinner and took a ride thru Holiday In Lights. There were so many Christmas lights, making so many different things. The kids loved it. We then went to see Santa and to a kid's playland. It was an amazing night of fun for both my kids. They smiled and laughed all night long. Then we headed home. We hadn't been in the car for 5 minutues when they started. "She touched my arm!" " He stuck his tongue out at me." "She hit me". "Zach called me meanie". Now I am usually ok with the fighting. Unless I see blood or hear "dirty words or names", I can pretty much let them fight it out. Randy on the other hand, doesn't handle the fighting so well. He gets frustrated with them easily. "Why can they have so much fun together all night, then hate each other minutes later?" Oh, the memories started flooding back.....

When Travis and I were little, we were the best at sibling wars! It was one battle after another. I can't remember much about what we would fight about. What I do remember most is how my mom would handle it. Thinking back on our battles makes me laugh now. Seems like Travis and I would fight just about every day we were going to church. When mom had had enough she would say, "One more word and you two will sit next to me in church and hold hands the entire time." WHAT??? Oh no, that is not happening! Mom never heard another word! (we may have shared some nasty looks, and some tongues being stuck out at each other, but never another word!)

Travis and I had 2 things that were without fail, an area of controversy that always ending in a fight...1. Who was going to ride in the front seat of the car with mom and 2. Who got to watch "their cartoon". As usual, mom had the answer... We had to "call front" when we were growing up. The key was, we had to wait until mom said the words, "We are leaving". As soon as she said those words, whoever said, "I call front" got to sit in the front seat. This is one issue I have not had to deal with my kids yet. (Thank the Lord for the new car seat laws!) Travis and I would follow mom around the house whispering to her, "Is it time? Are we leaving?" We were hoping she would answer "yes" quietly so the other person didn't hear her say it. For some reason, most of my "car memories" are from the back seat! I don't think I was very good at that game!!!

Mom had the answer for stopping the arguing over cartoons too. We had our "days" to watch our cartoons. My days were Mondays and Wednesdays. Travis' days were Tuesdays and Thursdays. (because those days started with a "T" just like his name!) What happens on the other days you ask? They were "Mom and dad's days". If we started arguing over the TV on those afternoons, we watched what mom said to watch. And trust me, it wasn't interesting at all! My Tuesdays and Thursdays were full of "He-Man" and "Transformers" and "Thundercats". I hated them! Travis' Mondays and Wednesdays were full of "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Care Bears". Now that's some good cartoons!

Mom always seemed to have the answers to our arguments! I called mom the other day when my kids had been at each other all day long. I felt like I was losing my mind, and my thoughts went back to those days of bickering with Travis and Rachel. I immediately thought that I needed mom! She would know what to do. She would know how to handle them! I told her my dilemma and said, "What do I do, mom?" She said something I will never forget...she said, "Hahaha. I don't know!" What??? You don't know??? You have to know! You always knew!!! Her answer was, "You reap what you sow!" I think she thoroughly enjoys hearing me suffer thru my kids fights. She remembers those days like yesterday too. But what she told me next did help me .. a lot. She told me every kid is different. You have to find what works with them. Only the Lord can help you figure that out!

We have an amazing mom! Why was she so amazing? Not because she is an awesome cook (even tho she really is). Not because she can sing like no one I have ever heard..or any of the other millions of wonderful things about her...She is an amazing mom because she always found the answers in the Word of God. She always spent time finding her answers on her knees. We thought she had all the answers to solve our sibling wars growing up. What we know now, is we have the same "Book of Knowledge" that she did!! Thanks, MOM!!!!!!

And, Travis, it's Tuesday..and I'm NOT watching your cartoons!!!! :)

Monday, November 16, 2009


So far we have shared some events that highlight the mistakes, attacks, and blunders of one another. Seeing how that both my sisters have forgotten how to type or share a story, I will go again...but this time a little different.
This past Friday at 11:30 a.m. (o.K. 11:40, I was late) I met my sisters at Soho for lunch (a wonderful place to eat). There we sat around the table, Chrystal, Rachel, Stacey, Caleb, Lici, Hope, and I. We told stories about what all was happening in our lives. The Japanese/American -Iron Chef wanna be-was cooking our food. He threw pieces of cooked food in the air and asked if we wanted to try and catch it in our mouths....of course Chrystal and I did. Was there any doubt? That is us all the way. I caught mine in my mouth, Chrystal after four attempts just caught the food in her hands and shoved it in her mouth so as to not waste any more food. Rachel with her smile and wit shared some news in her life. Stacey, the love of my life, sat near me laughing and sharing stories about our last few days. We had not all gotten together for nearly 2 months.
We ate our dinner, enjoying every bite of the wonderful food. Soon, because we inherited our mother's digestive system, Rachel and I at the same time had to go to the bathroom. Upon returning, we paid our bill, shared a candy bar (MILCH) from Mexico I had brought back (awesome), and walked out together. A few jokes shared, a couple of jabs at making fun of each other, and we got in our cars and went our separate ways. It had been a long time since we did something like that.
I know you read and we write of fun stories, jokes, dares, and blunders that we laugh at each other with; but there are not three siblings in the world closer than us. I praise the Lord for the gift He has given us in each other. That event, that afternoon, with each other a word...Perfect.