Just me, pondering:

Today, Kimmie called from school to ask if she could order a shirt sponsored by our volleyball team that has made it to State. (Woohoo!) She told me how she did not have enough money to pay for it right now, but the money would not be due until Tuesday, and she has a babysitting job lined up for Friday that should give her enough money, and could she PLEASE order the shirt today?

As much as I longed to say yes and hear her happy voice, I chose to tell her no, thinking ahead to future decisions that she will need to make. I kindly explained to her that it is not wise to order something, knowing that you do not have the money to cover it. Yes, a babysitting job is scheduled for the future, but there are many things that could happen between now and then. The job could be cancelled for any reason. You could get sick and be unable to babysit. It is not wise to use money that you have not yet earned. Kimmie hung up the phone, upset with me.

And I thought: In this situation, she probably could have ordered the shirt, and even if her babysitting job fell through, the shirt would have been paid for appropriately somehow. But I am training more for her future than for her present. She needs to learn wise actions now that will help her throughout her life. A shirt is not a bad gift. In fact, it is a good gift. But I know of a better gift: a debt-free, worry-free life.

I wished that Kimmie would realize that I am doing something nice for her, learn the lesson that I was trying to teach her and say, "Thank you for trying to do what is best for me, even if it is not what I originally wanted. Thank you for being willing to be 'the bad guy' in order to give me a better future. "

While I thought this through, Matthew 7:7-11 popped into my mind. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 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!"

My mind continued to wander down that thought path, and I pondered a request of my own that I have been asking God for several years now. I have been quoting "Ask and it will be given to you" to God in a "Well, what's the hold-up?" tone of voice, and He's been sitting quietly...

...wishing that I would realize that He is doing something nice for me, learn the lesson that He is trying to teach me and say, "Thank you for trying to do what is best for me, even if it is not what I originally wanted. Thank you for being willing to be 'the bad guy' in order to give me a better future."

Apparently, God is giving me a better gift than the one that I have been asking for, and I have been very ungrateful.
Last night, Kimmie babysat Liberty for me, and I had a girls' night out!

I went to the home of Mary Kay, one of the ladies in my Sunday School class. Evelyn, Candace and Julie were also there, and we talked and talked.

And laughed and laughed! Mary Kay had a bowl of questions that we passed around and answered, and oh my, the hilarity that ensued!

I learned of Evelyn's husband's affinity for clocks and watches and just about any kind of timepiece, and how despite his love of timekeepers, he is always late. He physically resembles the white rabbit on Alice in Wonderland, so the picture presented was just that much funnier.

Mary Kay treated us to an imaginative story about her children's attack rabbit that she insists was out to get her. The pet rabbit lived outside but would come into the garage for food and shelter. Her washer and dryer were also located in the garage, and she told us how the rabbit would rush her feet (and she claims he was trying to jump up to bite her face) whenever she walked out there to finish laundry.

Julie painted vivid pictures of trick-or-treating when she was a kid. We laughed our way through memories of her and her brother running in fright from a kindly neighbor dressed as a witch and secretly giving "poisoned" candy to their mom for her enjoyment. They would watch closely to see if she had a reaction, and only after they determined the candy was safe would they eat it themselves.

Candace regaled us with tale after tale of crazy customers arriving at her pharmacy window to pick up prescriptions. She and Mary Kay also told us more than we ever wanted to know about Abe and Mary Lincoln! Yikes!

I laughed so hard I choked on my delicious pumpkin cake, and had to quickly glug down some of Evelyn's yummy hot apple cider! Now, isn't that a shame? ;-)
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We didn't make it to State. Our football team, formerly 7-1, played the Trojans, ranked 6-2, and lost. The other team is going to State. I'm not sure how that works, because with our loss and their win, the teams are tied at 7-2. Why do the Trojans get to go to State? Can someone enlighten me on how this ranking thing works? I love football for the excitement, but I'm lost when it comes to the technical aspect of the game.

Kimmie had a Great Pumpkin Hunt with her youth group yesterday evening. They divided up into several teams. Each team began the night armed with one car and driver and one riddle which led them to another hidden riddle which led them to another hidden riddle which eventually led them to a hidden pumpkin somewhere in town. The team that found the pumpkin, won the game. Kimmie told me they started at the church, and the first riddle told them to find the largest rock in town. They drove over to Lake Red Rock and under the sign naming the lake, they found the next color-coded clue. After solving each riddle, they had to drive back to the town square and check in with Pastor Greg before embarking on the next adventure. Kimmie's team did not win but had a lot of fun in the process of losing, and the entire group had pizza and a devotional together before ending the night.

After only one suppertime of my will against hers, Liberty has decided that she will eat what is served during each meal. I'm very glad that the learning process was so short, because I was dreading hours and hours spent teaching her to eat what I give her. She cries to let me know that she doesn't like it, but she willingly eats it. Amazing. There have been no more incidents of hitting or scratching. At least not yet, but she has begun crying ferociously whenever something doesn't go the way she wants it to. And she's so cute when she's crying that I have a hard time not giving in to her. But I keep reminding myself that that behavior will not be cute in the future if left unchecked. So I'm pressing onward towards the mark.

Thankfully, Liberty is so much fun most of the time, that the small amount of time spent training is not a big deal. Yesterday, while Kimmie was at her youth group outing, and Jeremy was catching up on sleep, Liberty and I built a fort. We turned her old walker sideways to form one wall, and used a dining room chair to form the other wall. Then we draped a baby afghan over the two to create a ceiling. Liberty loved crawling in and out of the fort using the bars on the dining room chair as a jungle gym. She would climb inside, and then poke her smiling face out at me and giggle. Then she would quickly pull her head back inside, wait a few seconds and repeat the process. We spent about an hour giggling together before she decided to move on to another game. This baby goes NONSTOP, pitching headlong into one adventure after another, and she has the war wounds to prove it. Thankfully, she copes well with bumps and bruises and any other wound that she comes up with.

Sunday morning, just before we left the house for church, (in fact, Jeremy and Kimmie were already in the car waiting) I quickly popped two black shoes onto Liberty's feet. It was not until after church was over, that I looked at her feet more closely and realized that I had put two different shoes on her. One was a size two and the other a size one. They were both left shoes, too! When I checked with the nursery workers, they told me that she spent the entire morning running, and she did not complain once about her poor little right foot being crammed into a too small left shoe!

Speaking of church, I am absolutely LOVING our new church. (I can't remember if I told you that we changed churches or not, but if I didn't tell you...we changed churches!) We have been attending this new church for a month now, and every single time I leave church, I tell Jeremy, "That is exactly what I needed." I've tried to explain the wonderfulness of this new church to my friends, but I have a hard time putting it into words. I receive so much joy and love from being around the members of the church, and it is extremely obvious that they are there, not because it is Sunday, but because they LOVE God and LOVE being with each other. I do not believe that I have ever in my life attended a church this alive! And it's not just a Sunday/Wednesday thing. I know many of the people in regular life, and they are constantly living what they believe. Since we've been going there, three different ladies have had me over to their houses for fun stuff, usually, just chatting with five or six other ladies, and it is so wonderful! The pastor preaches reality. He reads the Bible and then applies it directly to our everyday lives, and he expects us to follow through with what we have heard. It's not just another sermon. It's practical. It's Biblical. It's applicable. I leave, knowing precisely what needs to be carried out in my life for that week and going forward.

It's encouraging. It's convicting. And I wonder, why in the world didn't we find a church like this years ago?
Well, Libby's going through some changes. All part of getting older, but not so much fun for me. She is exercising her sin nature. She has decided that there are certain things that she will and will not do, and there are certain foods that she will and will not eat. So now I get the wonderful job of disciplining. Yesterday, I REALLY wasn't feeling well, and I needed to fight with her over eating her green beans, but after a few times, I decided to put that battle off until the next time we eat them. Which is going to be very soon because I want her to learn that she cannot throw things on the floor and refuse to eat them. She hit a boy a few days ago and later screamed at her babysitter because she was not allowed to play with the newly folded laundry. She has also started scratching my face when she is upset with me. So we have a little (a lot) of training to do, and I am really not looking forward to this stage in her life. I wonder if this is going to be a long stage, or if she'll figure out that I'm the boss pretty quickly and go back to being my fun baby soon.

Kimmie got a B- on her English test!!!! This is one of the two classes that she was failing, and she got a B-!!!!! Can you believe it? She was so excited, she called me from school to tell me the news. Oh! I am so proud of her, not necessarily for getting a good grade, but for diligently and intelligently studying beforehand for this test.

Something else that I am proud of her for...this weekend, she told me that God has been working in her heart and telling her that she needs to start being friends with people in school who do not have many friends. I've seen her putting this into action both at school and at church. Now that's a beautiful girl!
Libby had a doctor appointment on Monday morning, and our doctor declared her hand much, much better. There is no more oozing, and I can see the shiny, new skin growing thicker over her palm. He told us to leave it unwrapped as much as possible so that her hand could breathe in order to heal, but in the short drive from our doctor's office to her babysitter's house, Liberty chewed on the wound enough to break through the light layer of skin. So I wrapped her back up again. I unwrapped her for her bath last night and kept the bandage off all night while she slept. But this morning, she was in a lot of pain again and had a hard time calming down even after receiving her pain killer and bandage. Monday was our last doctor appointment since Libby has healed so much. I've decided to keep her wrapped during the days and unwrapped at night. Although, I might give her a dose of pain killer right before bedtime each night. It is so hard to gauge what is happening with her, since she rarely complains. Her cries this morning were unusual for her, and therefore disturbing to me.

Kimmie has not yet received a grade on her English test, but I am still excited for that to come. She reported that her Journalism test yesterday was a lot harder than she expected because she had studied the wrong definitions, and she has a Math test today that she spent about ten minutes studying for last night. She just looked over her problems, verifying that she understood the examples in the book, so we'll see how this one goes today.

The football team is 7 and 1 with one game left in the season. We are really hoping to be able to go to State. Kim is working hard to get her grades up so that she will be able to cheer if we do go to State, and I have been so proud of the way she is working at this. Last night, the cheerleaders met at Coach's house for a movie and snacks, and Kimmie received her basketball cheering schedule that lasts through February.

Jeremy made a funny discovery after the last football game. We were unable to attend this one, and he stopped by the field afterwards to pick up Kimmie. He asked her what the score was, and she told him, "I don't know, but we won!" He asked several other cheerleaders, and none of them could tell him the final score. One of them said, "I don't pay attention to the game; I just cheer." He and I laughed over that when he came home.

Today, Craig and I are presenting retirement plans to a large company, so I will be out of the office until 5 PM. Craig's dad, George, is having a pacemaker installed in his heart tomorrow, and he and Craig's mom, Dee, are having a rough time waiting. Waiting always seems to be the hardest part of anything. If you would like to, I'm sure Craig's dad would appreciate your prayers for him. George and Dee have become part of my family. In fact, Liberty took her first official walk in their living room, and now George calls her his Little 410, because 410 is their house number.
No, I am not over the weekend, but the weekend is over, so I'll report on it.

I picked Kimmie up from school on Friday, and she excitedly informed me that her English test was EASY! We'll see if her grade ends up matching her confidence level. She studied for a Journalism test over the weekend, and she's taking that test today.

We drove up to Newton so that Kimmie could take a written test to get her permit, but the DMV was closed. So we stopped off at McDonald's drive thru for breakfast, and then headed back home. Kimmie begged to be dropped off at home with Liberty because she wanted to study for her upcoming test, and Jeremy and I continued on to Pella where we enjoyed strolling around downtown hand-in-hand and window shopping. A sign outside of the local bakery told us that Apple Bread was only $1.00 for a small loaf. Jeremy and I read each other's happy faces and wordlessly chose to enter the shop. Inside, two girls from Kimmie's high school greeted us from behind the counter. We purchased our Apple Bread and continued walking in the sunshine outside, sharing torn pieces from our tasty loaf. Of course, we stopped in at the bookstore, because everyone knows that those are impossible to just pass by, and we stopped at a photography studio that Jeremy has been telling me about. He wants to get our family pictures done there, but I think it's going to be pretty expensive. The owner was out taking photographs, so we wandered around, enjoying his artwork and wondering what the prices would be like. We ended our date at Walmart where we talked about Christmas presents for Kimmie and Liberty before grocery shopping for the week.

Saturday evening, after Libby went to bed, Jeremy, Kimmie and I watched some movies that we had borrowed from the Library:

Cadet Kelly with Hilary Duff (Kimmie's choice) was cute and lively, and despite a few eye-rolling moments on Jeremy's part, all three of us enjoyed the movie. We were also able to have a small family talk about the importance of order and discipline in our lives as well as enjoying the artistic and crazy sides of our personalities. Everything in balance is Jeremy's motto, and this movie presented that theme very clearly.

Red Eye, about a hotel manager who is accosted on an airplane, was my choice, and I was pleasantly surprised that it did not end with a lot of stupidity and screaming on the heroine's part the way most suspense thrillers do. Instead, the heroine was creative and determined. The villain was also smart and determined. There were no unnecessary dramatics. I REALLY enjoyed this movie. Tim De Loge would have approved it; it was a thinking man's thriller. (As is Alfred Hitchcock's Twelve Angry Men and Rear Window.)

I also picked up The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy because we had never seen it, and I had heard it was ridiculous. I must warn you that this movie requires a certain mindset to enjoy it. (I enjoyed it, but Jeremy and Kimmie spent most of their time saying, "This is so dumb.") Think Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail which I thought was hilarious or Napoleon Dynamite which drove me to tears for the boring-ness or Space Balls which drew an occasional chuckle from me and much eye-rolling. Now, I wonder if my varying reactions to these movies was due to my own mood at the times of viewing. Anyway, Hitchhikers Guide was silly, obnoxious, ridiculous and surprisingly teaching. Mid-movie, I realized that the writer had written more that just a silly movie. He was searching for the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is our purpose? These questions were asked repeatedly with no real answer ever being given until the end. The writer of the movie had decided that real purpose in life came from finding someone to love, who would love you whole-heartedly in return. After the movie was over, and I was in my wonderful bed, I continued pondering that answer. I realized that many movies, TV shows, songs, you-name-it gives this impression. That true happiness and meaning in life can only come when we find someone to love who will love us whole-heartedly in return, just the way we are. I was amazed, after turning this concept over in my head for a while to realize that that is exactly what God does for us. He loves us whole-heartedly. Not looking for anything in return. Just the way we are. He does not ask us to live up to a certain standard. He does not ask us to give things up to earn His love. He just loves us. He loved us before we even knew He existed. He loved us before time even began. Before the world was created.

He loves.

He loved us so much, that He was willing to die for us. Thankfully, He was also powerful enough to rise from the dead...for us. He took the punishment for all of my sins, even the ones that I have not yet committed, because He loved us. Yes, the movies and the songs and the TV sitcoms are right. Love is the meaning of life. Humans' love for each other is just a picture that illuminates the void we are searching desperately to fill.

That void can be filled. It has been filled in my life! By God. I have accepted His gift of forgiveness. I don't have to measure up, or do good, or be worthy.

Because He loves me the way I am! Yay for me! :-)
My baby woke up several times in the night due to the pain in her hand, which she must have attributed to the gauze wrap. She pulled her bandage off three times, and then screamed when the air touched her flesh. I groggily stumbled into her room to soothe and re-wrap the offending hand. In the last three days, I believe I have had a total of 10 sleeping hours. Unfortunately, Liberty's had even less.

This morning, we visited the doctor again, and I noticed that her hand looks decidedly better. It is no longer bloody, just oozy and red. A thin layer of skin has grown over the previously exposed muscle, and our doctor was pleased with the progress. He set up another appointment for early Monday morning, but he instructed me to call him at home if her burn looks the slightest bit different over the weekend.

Kimmie's cheering at her last home football game of the season, and she is so sad that it might be over. However, our boys are 6-1 right now, with only two games left in the season. (One home, and one away.) They are talking State, so it may not be over yet!!!! Keep your fingers crossed!

Kimmie really struggles with her grades, and last night she and I spent hours studying together for English. Her test is today, and based on the answers she gave me when I quizzed her last night, I think she might get an A or a B on this one! I'm so excited to pick her up from school this afternoon and find out how she thinks she did on the test... I'll let you know on Monday.
Yesterday, Liberty burned her hand while exploring our friend's house. She touched the glass in front of the fireplace. The fire had been out for almost an hour, but the glass was still hot enough to burn her little hand. She now has severe second degree burns on her palm and milder second degree burns on her fingertips.

The fingertips have blistered up, but the skin on her palm has come off, exposing the muscle beneath. It is sick looking, very slimy and bloody, and she screams when air touches it.

This morning, the doctor cut away the hanging skin around her palm. He put a salve on her hand and re-wrapped it. He is very worried about infection since such a large section of skin is missing, and he scheduled us to come in again tomorrow morning so that he can take care of it again.

After screaming all evening yesterday, Liberty has calmed down and turned back into my happy, easy-going baby. She laughs and talks and climbs and runs like normal, and only complains when her painkiller wears off or when she falls forward and breaks her fall with her hands.

I'll keep you posted on what the Doctor says tomorrow.
My creativity has dried up. The muse is gone.

My last post said that I would be too busy to blog, and that was true up until a week ago. I am no longer too busy to blog, but I can't think of anything to blog about. It's not like my life is boring or anything. It's just that I can't seem to come up with the juice to blog it. I've sat down at my computer several times and begun typing, but it was all just words...not interesting, not striking, not funny, not really anything.

So in a desperate effort to get my groove back, I am just going to narrate for a while. Maybe after a few days, weeks or months of narrating my life for you, my groove will return. Hopefully, it will flutter in through an open window and land gently on my shoulder, instead of dive-bombing me and leaving a mess of droppings on my shoulder. (Not sure where that came from, but there it is.)

As I pondered the possibilities of narrating my days, I realized that I had originally started this blog based on requests from family and friends who lived far, far away, and that they might enjoy hearing a daily narrative of our lives. So here goes. Not my favorite style, but at least it will be regular and informative, and what more could anyone ask for, really?
My posts will be random and few for a little while because it is quarterly statement time again! But never fear: I will return.