I was sitting at home. Alone. In the quiet. The girls were in bed. Jeremy had gone to pick Kimmie up from work. I looked at Jeremy's (our) new laptop, and I thought to myself: "This is a momentous occasion. I need to blog about it." But I could not think of anything to blog about.

But seriously, can you believe it? I HAVE INTERNET AT HOME! How amazing is that?

And the house is quiet.

One or the other could be possible, but not both at one time.

You cannot know my joy until you have walked Internet-less in my very loud house's shoes.


Moving on.

Jeremy's job search demanded that we use some of our carefully hoarded cash on a laptop...we're hoping the expense pays off before we starve to death! Ha-ha. Okay, that wasn't so funny.

Actually, going through this patch of limited income has given me an all new appreciation for Jeremy's previous savings wisdom. After things get better for us, I promise not to complain when he says, "We can't afford that," even when I know we can afford it. Because that statement most likely means that he has put the extra money into savings for times like this.

Or that he plans to buy a new season of Walker, Texas Ranger with that money.

I might still complain, but he'll be getting more kissin' on by me. Well, I don't know that he'll be able to stand more kissing, since I've set that bar pretty high. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I've got a wise husband, and I'm thankful for him. He's an awesome provider, and a great security-enhancer. I wonder if I just made that word up.

But I'd better not let him read this post. He might get a big head. And if he didn't, he'd be sure to remind me that I wrote this. At a time when it would be most inconvenient for me to remember it.

Can you tell that I have no point to this post? I'm rambling, but I'm enjoying my ramble. You don't have to continue reading. This is just me, rambling to myself and having tons of fun ON MY INTERNET CAPABLE COMPUTER AT HOME.

I was putting laundry away earlier, and Liberty - who is drop-dead adorable - kept trying to climb up me. Yes, I said climb up me. It can be painful. But it happens to be one of her favorite things to do. I finally locked myself into my closet so that I could have some peace while I hung my clothes up. Thankfully, Jeremy realized that I needed some alone time (I wonder what gave him that idea), and he distracted Liberty from her Must-Remove-The-Closet-Door goal by prickling her. Prickling is his patented word. He tickles her with the scruffy prickles of his unshaven evening chin. It's called Prickling. From inside the closet I hung up the clothes and then just enjoyed the alone-ness of it all and listened to the laughter and squeals coming from the outside that prickling always produces. Then I got a brilliant idea: I emerged from the closet and recorded the prickling on video!

Now, that really is a momentous occasion.
The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

1) Look at the list and mark those you have read.
2) Those you intend to read.
3) Those you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Read it.
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
Intend to.
3Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Read it over and over and over... love it! In fact, sometime after number fifteen I lost count of how many times I've read this book.
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Next time through will be my fourth reading. I think I'm in love with Atticus. (Just kidding, Jeremy!)
6 The Bible
Oh, yeah! Another one of those over and overs. :-)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Read it once...kinda depressing, I thought.
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
HATED IT! But at least I finished the book. I kept hoping it would get better.
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Never heard of it.
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Intend to.
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
Many times. Love it.
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
D'Ubervilles? I like the sound of that. I'll have to look into that one.
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Did not realize Catch 22 was a book until just now. I want to read it.
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
I have this book. Started it a few times. Don't recall ever finishing though.
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
I've read bits and pieces of this one, but never the whole thing all the way through.
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
Never heard of it.
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Intend to.
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Nope, but it sounds like it could be adventuresome!
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
I like George Eliot. This is a possible intend to. Maybe.
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
Yep. Waste of time, just like the movie...in fact, I don't think I've ever seen the movie all the way to the end. (Sorry to all of the people that I just offended.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Intend to.
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
Intend to.
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
Ugh. Started it...
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Parts of it.
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Oh man, the movie was enough to depress me away from the book.
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Yep. And let me just say, Lewis Carroll was one strange man.
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
Fourth grade book report, but my dad wouldn't allow me to read it. I read it later in life just for curiousity's sake, and I'm not quite sure what my dad had against it. Father Knows Best, though! :-)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
I'm sensing a trend here. Anything by Charles Dickens I've marked "intend to."
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
Oh yes.
34 Emma - Jane Austen
I think I've only seen the movie.
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
Half of it several years ago. Apparently, it wasn't that persuasive.
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
Okay, didn't they just ask if we'd read THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA? So, yes, I have read this book. In fact, this was the first Chronicle that I read. I read it when I was in third grade, and it gave me nightmares for months afterwards...also, I stayed up all night reading it, and I watched the cartoon version of Alice in Wonderland for the first time just before starting the book. I dreamed of white and red witches chasing me through the woods forever after that, it seemed.
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Actually, Kimmie is reading this right now for an English paper, and I'm reading it with her.
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
What? Never heard of it.
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
Several times. Can't wait to read it to the kids!
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
Regretted it. What is wrong with Mr. Orwell, anyway? Has he ever been psychologically tested?
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
Many, many times. Along with just about all the other books that LM wrote. She's awesome!
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
No, but it sounds interesting. It is now on my "intend to" list.
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
No, but I'm adding to the IT List, too.
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
HATED. IT. Golding and Orwell need to be locked up together.
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
Nope, but just reading this title reminded me of a book called the SIN EATER which is an awesome book. You must read it.
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Pi as in 3.14? Sounds boring.
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
I think I've seen the cover of this book...I think I might have this book...I think I may have read this book. Obviously, if I did, it wasn't very memorable to me.
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
COLD comfort farm? That doesn't sound very comfortable.
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Oh, yes. This was the first Jane Austen book I've ever read.
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
Intriguing. Now on my IT List.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
Started it a long time ago. It didn't keep my interest. In fact, I think I only read the first five pages. That is very unlike me. I might have to give it another try.
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
I think this was the name of a reading book in first grade. You know, one of those books that has a collection of short stories in it used to practice learing to read? I don't think I've ever read the real Brave New World book, though.
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
No, but I like the sound of it. Maybe humorous? It is now on my IT List. :-)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Yuck. No, I've never read it.
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Intend to.
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Of what? The secret history of what?
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Umm, bones? Lovely? Okay.
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
...again. Time to get back on the road again.
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
I think that one was too obscure for me.
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
Saw the movie, does that count? Nope, I guess not.
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
Was that Moon and Star? Midnight must have been a hippie.
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Yes. Sigh. More time wasted.
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
Started it.
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
Over and over.
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
Oooh, I like the title. It is now on my IT List. I can just picture a guy stranded inserting notes into bottles and tossing them into the ocean.
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
Intend to.
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
No. Sounds like germs mixed with terminal. Never a good combination.
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
YES!!! FINALLY!!! A Charles Dickens book that I have read! Yay for me!
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
Umm, no. Sounds too physical sciencey for me.
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
Sounds morbid.
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
Yes, yes, yes. Can't wait to read it to the girls. Grow, my little girlies, grow!
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Oh my goodness, yes! There was a time when I ate, slept and breathed, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was my hero.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
Oy. Nope.
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Yes, yes, yes.
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
Huh. This is now on my IT List...even though it is envoking visions of Lord of the Flies to me right now.
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
I think so...but maybe not? What was it about?
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
Sounds funny. It has just made the List.
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
No. Evil Shoot?
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Yes. The movie with Kiefer Sutherland was once my favorite.
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
Yes. Didn't they ask if we'd read the COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE earlier? Somebody needs to proof-read this list.
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
Nope, only seen the movie.
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
"Nah sir, and I don' wants ta, neither!" Somebody name that quote.

And by the way, who is Big Read, anyway, and why are they keeping track?
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I have always, always, always wanted to be a Secret Agent.

When I was a kid, my brothers and sisters and I would create a fort out in the yard, and I would take my tiny notebook and a pencil out there with me. One of the brothers or sisters would be posted as a lookout, and when a car would come driving innocently down the street, they would stage whisper "Incoming!" Or "Alert! Alert!" Or if we were playing Kingsmen! they would call out "KINGSMEN!! KINGSMEN!!" We all had to quickly get into our fort and stay low because the driver and passengers were really King's Men scouring the land for orphans like us to kill or to put into slavery for the king -- we would then be separated from each other, the only ones whom we had ever loved, and much angst would ensue.

While we all hid in the fort, I would furtively peek through the slats of the wooden fence that surrounded our yard, and write down the license plate number along with a description of the car, and if I could get a good view, a description of the driver as well. This was just in case the real American Government (not our imaginary King's Men) were to come to our house and ask if we knew anything of the whereabouts of some criminal who might have been passing down our street. In my room at night, I would flip my tiny notebook open and memorize the license plates and descriptions so that if I saw them again, I could report it. I wished daily for just one of those cars to do something that could be considered suspicious, and I practiced swallowing the incriminating pages of my notebook in case one of those criminals ever tracked me down and tortured me to find out what I knew.

So you can imagine how reading Psalm 105:17 sparked my imagination the other night during my meandering through the Bible. It says, "and he [God] sent a man before them — Joseph, sold as a slave."

And I thought about that with my imagination on full alert. God had a Secret Agent!

(A quick synopsis of the history is this: Joseph had a bunch of brothers who hated him. They beat him up and then sold him to some slave traders who took him off to Egypt, then they told their dad that they had found evidence that he had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph became a slave to a wealthy guy in Egypt, but the guy's wife decided Joseph was cute and she tried to seduce him. Joseph told her he could not sin against God and against his owner (her husband) and he ran away, leaving her clutching his jacket. When the owner came home, the wife told him Joseph had tried to rape her, and she showed hubby the jacket as proof. Hubby had Joseph beaten and thrown into prison. Joe stayed there in jail for years and years and years until finally the king had a dream that kept bugging him and he wanted to know if it meant something. Someone who had met Joe in prison told the king that Joe might be able to help him interpret the dream, so the king sent for Joseph. Joseph told the king that the dream was a prediction of the future. The land of Egypt would have a great economy for seven years, and then the next seven years after that there would be a worldwide famine and everyone would starve to death. The king asked Joseph if he had any ideas on what to do to prepare for the bad times so the people of Egypt wouldn't starve, and Joseph had some great ideas, so the king put him in charge of carrying them all out. Long story short: when the worldwide famine did come, Joseph's preparations ended up saving most of the world, including his own family.

So here I am reading Psalm 105:17 and it's saying that God had an inside man, but He had to send him undercover. I laughed to myself when I realized, Joseph was so undercover, even HE didn't know about it! Maybe God thought Joseph wouldn't eat the evidence in time if he were tortured; I don't know, but for some reason, it was better for God and better for the mission and better for the agent if Joseph didn't know about his Secret Agent status. I wondered if Joseph was ever resentful. Resentful when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. Resentful when he was falsely accused by his owner's wife. Resentful when the owner punished him for the wife's crime. Resentful when he sat year after year rotting in a filthy prison. Not knowing that he was a Secret Agent.

Then I really thought about it. God has missions for me, too. Some of them Top Secret. So secret, in fact, that even I as the agent don't get access to the file folder on God's desk marked CONFIDENTIAL.

Am I resentful while I'm on the case? How silly would that be? I finally get to be a Secret Agent! And not a Secret Agent for just any old government or cause, I get to be GOD's Secret Agent!

How awesome is that!
Written by her husband, Jeremy. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!!!

1. Missy is silly. Everyone who meets her agrees with this. Even people who have only known her a short time. You will agree after you read this.

2. Missy is a bad luck charm. When she decides she likes something, the producers immediately stop producing that item. For example: the Sante Fe sauce at Quiznos, the cream-filled doughnuts at Krispi Kreme, the waitress at Bostons (who never even took her order, but faithfully served me and refilled my drinks.)

3. Missy loves flowers, but she has a death touch. Boy, I'm glad I'm not a flower!

4. Missy is a human teething ring. She found out about both of our childrens' first tooth after being bitten by them.

5. Missy likes smiley faces. They make her happy. She sometimes uses a smiley face instead of a signature, and somehow the reader is supposed to know who wrote that note. They usually can.

6. Missy loves dressing up in dramatic hats and scarves and fancy clothes. She should have been born in the 1920's.

7. Missy loves to write letters to her friends. BUT SHE NEVER MAILS ANY OF THEM! We have a box at home full of written, addressed and stamped envelopes that have never been mailed. But she sure is proud of the fact that she WROTE the letter.

8. Missy likes to name inanimate objects. Houses, cars, trees. Ask her about them sometime. She even names objects that do not belong to her.

9. Missy loves musicals, both on movies and stage. She collects soundtracks. She loves songs like "That's my cigar!" "You'll steal another!"

10. Missy wants pink hair. Or more accurately, she wants to put hot pink stripes in her hair.

11. Missy likes getting a back rub every night.

12. Missy loves to read, and she loves to read to our kids. That is a yay, happy. (Which, if you know her, is a term I have picked up from living with her.)

13. Missy likes to take pictures and to draw.

14. Missy is passionate about acting. She has lots of voices that she uses for fun at home.

15. Missy loves sunshine and tries hard to avoid standing in a shadow when we are outside. When we are inside, she moves with the sun as it streams through the windows throughout the day.

16. Missy likes shoes. She has five billion of them that I trip over because she does not like to put them away.

17. Missy wants to garden: tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons. I laugh at this. (See number three above.)

18. Missy loves adventure. She especially loves it when she gets lost on her way to somewhere.

19. Missy loves exploring. She tries to talk me into driving down every back road she sees.

20. Missy loves attending plays and concerts. With me!

21. Missy likes some kind of funky coffee at Smokey Row. She is slowly turning into her mom.

22. Missy likes to play games, even games that she can't win at like Connect Four.

23. Missy went mudding in our minivan one time (see number nineteen above). This caused our local mechanics to scratch their heads and laugh at her when we brought it in for a tune-up three months later.

24. Missy loves to write books, edit other people's books and blog. She also enjoys creating cards. She made a great one for me for Valentine's Day. I would show it to you, but it would have to be censored first.

25. Missy loves me -- through good times and especially through these bad times. And I love her.
Last night, I had a dream...

I lived in a small, peaceful house on a gentle hill overlooking a vast expanse of countryside full of waving prairie grasses and rolling hills. Little trees dotted the landscape here and there. An old, gray barn planted about forty feet from my front door appeared to be seconds away from falling completely down. A child's swing gracefully rocked back and forth with the breeze blowing through the branches of the tree the swing was attached to. My baby girl, Mercy, happily cooed from her perch in the swing, and I sat on the front porch steps enjoying the breeze and the sunshine and the beautiful blueness of the sky.

Suddenly, a sharp whinnying sound blasted from the barn! Determination mixed with a "no-not-again" feeling, and I hurried towards the barn to keep that horse contained. I held the double-doors shut, but the rotting boards, frantically pounding hooves and leaning structure created a scenario that made even closing the doors an almost impossibility. I stood there, focusing all my might on keeping that wild horse inside, while my mind raced after possibilities.

I knew it would be easier and safer to take Mercy inside the house and let that horse run free, but in order to cross the yard to my baby, scoop her up and run with her into the house, I would have to let go of the barn doors. Letting go would immediately release the horse and allow him access to my daughter. Instinctively, I knew that her harm would be his first priority, and those flashing hooves near her face were not something I was willing to risk. I stayed at the doors, knowing with every second both Mercy and I were in more and more danger. But what else could I do?

Abruptly, the scene shifted.

I stood in my real basement near our couch with the pull-out bed inside, watching this beautiful, proud, completely white stallion snort and stomp in the large room. His stance and shake of his head showed no restraint. No conscience. No boundaries. A beautiful creature, yes, but extreme danger lurked in his eyes.

He rushed me just as the edges of a plan seeped into my brain. Without enough time to think the plan through, I popped a cushion off of the couch and shoved the horse into the hole created. Somehow, the bed inside the couch was not there, and the horse fell into the hollow space under the cushions. I quickly replaced the cushion and sat on it. On his back, the horse jabbed his hooves upward over and over through the cracks between the cushions. My seat bucked repeatedly.

In vain, I attempted to keep his hooves down, but I only had two hands, and he had four hooves. They kept coming.

The scene shifted again.

I was back at the barn holding those doors closed. The doors that even in normal circumstances would not stay closed. My determination began slowly to give way to despair, and tears that I refused to acknowledge seeped from my tightly closed eyes down my cheeks and onto my chin. "Help me, God. PLEASE!" I whispered. Did I whisper it aloud or only in my heart? All I know is that prayer was tinged with more than a little desperation. Bleakness settled over my soul. I knew the end was near, and I could envision my sweet little Mercy Jane destroyed in moments after that horse got free.

I looked down and noticed for the first time, a latch hanging on the barn door. I stretched one hand down toward the latch and lifted it. In a circular motion, the wooden bar pivoted and then dropped onto the corresponding knob on the opposite door. I let a little of my body pressure off of the doors. The horse reared onto his back legs and walloped the doors with as much might as his upper body and front hooves could produce. The doors shook and bulged outward, but they held!

Relief, joy, motivation and a myriad of other emotions jumped through my veins. I ran towards Mercy's tree-swing, knowing I only had a short opportunity to get the two of us into the house. I snatched her from her seat and ran towards the porch with her so quickly that the top half of my body out-ran my feet, and I almost tripped in the yard. I stayed upright by sheer will-power only, knowing what a fall could mean. Behind us, I could hear the wooden doors splintering, and the lightning-colored horse's triumphant and defiant whinny.

I clutched Mercy tightly to my chest with both arms. My right foot reached the first of the three porch steps, and then I woke up.
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I have been tagged repeatedly to do the 25 things meme, but I've held out so far. Now, Jeremy has decided to fill it out for me. So tomorrow, he will be posting 25 things about me.

I'm worried.

It won't bother me in the least if you all choose not to come back tomorrow. (Just as long as you come back for the next post I write!)
Several weeks ago I was conversing on the phone and wanted to tell my phone buddy a story, but little ears were playing nearby, and I did not want those ears to understand my words. So I said into the phone, "This story will be in code. Are you ready?"

My listener eagerly agreed.

"Once upon a time, the man of the house went into a small room designated for sanitary purposes. He prepared to urinate, but unbeknownst to him, a youngling had followed him into the small room designated for sanitary purposes.

The lady of the house remained in the food preparing room, unsuspecting that a youngling was about to witness something never previously witnessed by this particular youngling.

A short, manly yelp echoed in the house, followed by the urgent order, 'Go find Mommy!'

The youngling ran into the food preparing room, blond curls bouncing and a puzzled look on her face. She ran straight to the lady of the house and immediately began feeling her tummy. There was urgency and puzzlement in her movements and on her face. She then attempted to lift the lady's upper covering to peer underneath. When this attempt was foiled, she lifted her own upper covering and began feeling her own tummy.

The lady of the house thought this behavior strange and began fitting puzzle pieces together in her mind. Suddenly, it dawned on her what must have happened. The youngling must have been in the small room designated for sanitary purposes when she saw an object protruding from the man of the house where no object had ever protruded before, and she must have assumed the object was protruding from the tummy of the man of the house. She then wanted to find out if that same object protruded from the lady's tummy and her own. The lady of the house began to laugh. She laughed so heartily that her tummy danced vigorously.

This action, of course, re-aroused the curiosity of the youngling and confirmed for her that there was indeed something hidden beneath the upper covering that still needed to be discovered. She returned to the lady of the house and began frantically searching for the hidden object. The lady vainly tried to ward off the tiny, knowledge-seeking hands.

At this point, the man of the house returned from his journey to the small room designated for sanitary purposes, and he indignantly stated that all younglings must be kept out of inappropriate places forever and forever until time ended. Amen.

The lady of the house continued to laugh unreservedly, and these laughs became great choking gulps and wheezes of hilarity when the youngling rushed the man and began feeling his tummy with determination.

The man ran."

The End
And I will now proceed to bombard you with an entire post full of words to show you that I have no words. *Grin*

Jeremy has no job. He has been laid off from his current company, and the interviewing company called to tell him that they, too, are laying off. We found out how much his unemployment check will be, and we plugged that number into our budget. The budget screamed at us, "You're stupid! You're all going to die!"

We ignored it.

And then encouragement came pouring in. The next day, my friend Brenda called -- just to talk. (Really it was just to say I love you.) My friend Jackie called. We couldn't stay on the phone long, but the fact that she had heard and that she called is precious to me. Phone calls have been pouring in. Encouraging notes on Facebook and emails in my inbox are wonderful little pick-me-ups that remind me: God still cares.

And then I got a letter in the mail from a lady named Claudene. She had met our family five months ago in a restaurant, and she had been so infatuated with Liberty and Mercy that she asked for our address. She told us she wanted to send a present to us when she got back to her home in California. Jeremy and I did some quick praying for wisdom, and then we gave her our address. We did not even know her name, and we had heard not a word from her in all these months until a package arrived this weekend filled with several antique silver spoons. The letter that went with them ended with this paragraph.

You are my sisters and brother in the family of God; I have a tie to you in my heart. God bless you each one in warm and joyful and surprising ways. Isn't it great to be SO loved by our God!

As if the little notes of love from friends were not enough of a gift from God, He decided to go dramatic on us and send us this billboard filled with His love!

And the truth is, I really do not have words to tell you how that makes me feel.

God is just plain nice!