Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

Ever been licked by a giraffe?

See more at Wordless Wednesday's home

Monday, October 30, 2006

Drumroll please....

What a crazy weekend it's been. I must confess I failed miserably in the Christ-likeness department this weekend. And it was silly, really. At about noon or so on Saturday, my internet and phone stopped working. The friendly representative of the company who provides those services informed me that it would be Tuesday before anybody could get out to fix it. Let's just say I was not happy. I was nice to the people on the phone, but wow, was I crabby and not fun to be around. Part of it was genuine worry about leaving the kids home overnight without a phone. Part of it was withdrawl from not being able to check my email :P Hooboy, I've still got a LOT to learn. Anyway, I called again Sunday morning after work, and they said they'd try to get someone out there sooner but couldn't make any promises. When I got home from Church and the bi-weekly Costco run, the repair person had been here and gone and all was right with the world again :P So now I'm still trying to get caught up on email and blog reading and stuff, because I do have to sleep occasionally.

But now, without further delay, I have a book to give away. I wrote the names of everybody who expressed interest, put them in a paper bag, and my lovely assistant Sassy drew a name. And the winner is...................

Erna! Please email me at phxflurry@gmail.com with the address to which to send the book and I'll get it in the mail.

I wish I could give one to everyone who wanted one! Thanks for playing :D

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What does God want from me?

After my former husband was arrested, for a long time the pain was so intense, I did well to get out of bed everyday. Then after a while I started to feel guilty because everything was pretty much about me and my kids. Every prayer I had was something along the lines of "Oh God, HELP ME!" I felt like I should have been giving to the poor or volunteering at soup kitchens. In reality, I was still doing well to get out of bed! Then my Sunday school teacher was teaching from Revelation, about what God wanted from the different churches. God chastised them all for something they were or weren't doing, except for the church in Smyrna. That church was being persecuted and going through a really rough time. The only thing God had for them was encouragement and a promise to those who overcome. I knew then after reading that portion of Revelation, that what God wanted for me at that time, in that season of my life was simply to persevere and overcome. I didn't quite understand at that time just how much there was for me to persevere, but things got a lot worse before they got better. I was so thankful that God gave me permission to do nothing else for a while but to heal and help my children heal.

I was talking to my sister on the phone the other day. She's older than I am by about 9 years. She's always been the one with it all together. Or at least, she's able to give the appearance of having it all together. Apparently she doesn't. She had a laundry list of high drama situations she was dealing with in her life, including being separated from her husband. I offered to do anything I could to help, and she said just listening was enough. When I got off the phone, it occured to me how calm my life is right now. Since the divorce was final in early October, I haven't heard from my ex husband at all. It's been so nice. That was a huge source of stress that now is gone. There was the stress of the training class, but I recognize my own responsibility for the drama in my life and know I put a lot of that stress there myself. The on the job training is stressful, but you know what, I can leave that all at work. It does not effect me when I go home. Working nights is stressful, but that's just how life is, I'm at least 20 people down the totem pole from being able to get on day shift, so why let it bug me? There's kid stress - that one was mean to this one, this one won't get his clothes out for the morning, and the other one seems to have lost all of this one's school shirts. Ok maybe it's not totally normal kid stuff, but it is just kid stuff. So, wow, things are relatively drama free. And then I realized, you know, I feel good. I'm happy. My kids are happy. Life is good. I am blessed. We have persevered and overcome!

That's not the end of the story though! I have persevered and overcome, but... all this non-drama is boring. Being a Christian should NOT be boring! So now I'm praying - What next Lord? What do you want me to do? It's a tough and scary prayer, to pray for God's will and not mine. But that's what I'm praying for tonight. It's time for me to give back. Pray for me please as I seek Him.

And now I want to share the words to this song I have running through my head:

Look what You've done, by Tree63

Look what You've done for me
Your blood has set me free
Jesus my Lord look what You've done for me

I haven't been the same
Ever since that day I called Your name
Yahweh Look What You've done for me

What can I do for You my Lord?
I want You to know my heart is Yours
It's not a question of what You can do for me
But what can I do for You my Lord?

Up to Your cross I crawled
Now I am standing teen feet tall
Jesus my saviour look what You've done for me

Free at last I'm free
I owe You my life completely
Yahweh look what You've done for me

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Little Vindication

So we were all in the car this afternoon, and the 17 year old says "I never want to go to work again." I asked him if he meant to his job (he works at Wendy's) or if he meant never ever at all. He meant never ever at all. I laughed at told him about this conversation with DQ, his 14 year old sister, where she says her life would be so much easier if she had a job! He turned around and said to her "ARE YOU MAD? Your life would SO NOT be easier! Ohmigosh, I can't BELIEVE you think that!" Then he turned to me and said "Kids! They think they know everything!"

I was pretty much speechless at that point.

A recipe for you

We've been calling this Chicken, rice and salsa (or CRS for short.) I know the recipe had a different name when I found it online about 4 years ago, but I've modified it a lot since then. My children just love this dish, and always beg me to make it for birthday dinners or when they have friends over. In fact, my kids friends have begged their mothers to make this for their birthday dinners, and then I've had the mothers calling asking for the recipe :) So, here you go!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded (you can use less if you need, it's a good way to stretch things.)
3 cups of uncooked rice
2-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese depending on how cheesy you like things (I use a cheddar/monterey jack mix)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 15oz jar of your favorite salsa (I buy the huge jar at costco and use half, but it only comes in medium there and may be a little spicy for kids tastes.)

Cook the rice according to directions, mix together the soups and the salsa, then in a 9x13 baking dish, layer rice, chicken, salsa mix, then cheese, rice, chicken, salsa mix and cheese. Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted to your satisfaction. This recipe serves about 6-8 people.

Serve with a salad and tortilla chips.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

And so it begins

14 year old DQ was having a craving for apple juice. This is after a day of "Mom, I need a check for $25..." "Mom, I need $5 for..." "Mom, will you get me an ipod for Christmas..." So, as I tend to do occasionally, I told her to get a job. DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE SAID TO ME?!?! She said, and I quote "Oh my gosh Mom! Do you know how much easier my life would be if I could get a job?!" I, of course looked at her like she had three heads and wondered aloud if she even had a clue what she was saying. Well, of course she did. She's 14! She knows EVERYTHING! She began counting the ways in which her life would be easier if she had a job and her own house. SO! I am marking down this date, and her words, and 20 years from now, Lord willing, I'll check back in with her on this subject. I surely didn't say anything of the sort to my parents, no... (don't roll your eyes at me like that, someone may step on them.) When I informed her I was going to blog about the ridiculousness of the idea of things being easier when she had a job and a house, she said "Fine! Then when I make my millions of dollars, I'll buy a mansion for everybody but you!" That's ok, mansions are too much work to keep clean. I just hope she's nice to me when she chooses my retirement home. :D

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Book Review - Straight Up by Lisa Samson

DISCLAIMER: Lisa Samson does not and has not paid me for any review I have posted on this blog, no matter how flattering or how many there are. Honest. I just really like her style of writing!

But I did volunteer to review this book on my blog in exchange for a free copy! :) I definitely got the better end of that deal! For what it's worth though, impatient me did go out and buy a copy when it released in September. I'm glad I did! The extra copy? We'll talk about that later.

I wrote for a review on Amazon.com:

For me, it's about the characters. I just can't relate to the girl who was raised in a Christian home, whose parents stayed together, who saved herself for marriage and pretty much lived happily ever after with a few frustrations along the way. I've never met anybody like that in Lisa's books, and it's one of the things that keeps me coming back for more. I've always been able to see little bits of myself in the characters that Lisa creates.
That is absolutely true for cousins Georgia and Fairly in Straight Up. Wasted potential, missed opportunity, inability to deal with certain aspects of life... they both find their own ways to numb the pain of the inability to deal, and they both face the consequences for their choices. These are people you meet every day. We've all been Fairly or Georgia at one time or another to some degree. There are consequences, but there is also grace from God, just sometimes it doesn't always look the way we think it will.

I'm not going to give anything away, but when I first finished reading the book, I wasn't sure I liked the way it ended. But I thought about it, and the more I thought, the more I realized that any other ending would have been wrong.

The other thing about Lisa's writing that gets me every time is the words she chooses. For example:
Jazz drives me crazy. Crazy like New Orleans on a day so hot the heat rises into your nostrils and steams your brain like a peach dumpling. You feel the humid heat waves as they spill onto the pavement from the lips of a saxophonist who loves his horn more than any woman he's ever met because the horn never disappoints him. He may disappoint himself, his woman, his mother, and the holy church, but the horn stays true and pure and loving, shining into his heart with a brassy passion, licking his soul tenderly, lapping up his affection like crème de la crème.
Is that not an amazing word picture?

All in all, Straight Up is a beautiful story of mistakes, misunderstandings, grace and healing. I highly recommend it.

Now, since I do have two copies of this book, I'm going to give one away. Here's how it works - I'd like to give it someone who has never read one of Lisa's books. Let me know by commenting if you are intersted, and in a few days I'll draw a name.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wordless Wednesday early again

Coffee Pot Rock, Sedona Arizona

See blogroll in my sidebar for more Wordless Wednesday fun!

Just stuff

1) Yes, I did change the blog colors. I was bored with the other color scheme :) I'm trying my absolute hardest to figure out how to make my own template and get it up and running myself, because I'm geeky like that, but hasn't been working out well for me. But, I'll keep at it till I figure it out. Part of that is lack of patience to actually read any instructions... One of these days, though, I WILL make my own blog design!
2) Thank you Julie, your comment on my post yesterday made a lot of sense, and made me think. It was the way of looking at things that I needed to make sense of some things :) Brenda, I like that quote!
3) After a month of being able to behave like a normal human being and obey my body's circadian rhythms, I'm back to the vampire lifestyle, minus the fear of garlic and desire to bite necks. Last night was, umm, interesting, and that two hour stretch between 5am and 7am when it was time to go home was so hard. But it was also my first night in training for dispatch where I actually got to be doing the job instead of having information thrown at me in a classroom setting. It was kind of fun! There is SO MUCH to learn! My trainer and I were not dispatching really, we were on one of the info channels that the officers use when they need a tow, or a cab, or just general information. So it's a little slower so there's more time to figure things out.
4) Anybody know what to add (besides water) to make a stew less salty? I thought I saw a trick somewhere that there was something you could add that would take away some of the saltiness. Anybody know? Quick? ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday's Maybe I'm Missing Something

Ok, I'm not all that bright politically speaking. When I was in 7th grade and Mr. Sanford explained to the class the basics of the republican and democrat philosphies, I picked one that sounded closest to what I thought made sense at the time and stuck with it. To this day, I still identify more closely with that particular party than the other, but I've never really gotten into politics. It doesn't make sense to me to get so worked up about the fact that your party didn't win whatever seat it was, or that this party controls that and that party controls this, because these things have always gone in cycles. Soon, things will reverse, they always do. It just seems like every election season, it's the same thing - lather, rinse, repeat.

I was at the home of a very dear friend of mine recently, and she was looking over the information about local propositions in the upcoming election. She said to me "You know how I choose which way to vote sometimes? I look to see who is for something, and if certain people are for it, then I'm against it." Literally, if someone in that other party were going to vote for something, she would vote against it. What if it's a really good idea and could help people? That seems kind of silly to me.

I've noticed that with other things too. This friend for a while supported a group that helps children in Africa, but stopped when she found out that groups from the other party supported that cause also. And here in blogworld, I noticed that same idea. A cause to raise funds for medicine for AIDS victims in Africa is being called socialist by bloggers who proclaim themselves to be Christian. Why? Why is trying to help people a socialist cause? What am I missing? Is it because people on the other end of the political spectrum support it? Are we so busy making politics our God that we forget we're supposed to behave like Christ? You know what I think? I think that if Christians (myself included) behaved as Christ would, there wouldn't be a NEED for "humanist" or "socialist" organizations to step up and help their fellow man. We should all be caring for the least of these, regardless of political affiliation!

P.S I really hate being political, I'm sure I'm going to offend someone... so if that was you, SORRY!

Ego boost!

A couple weeks ago when we were at that Peacock Park (aka Sahuaro Ranch Park) I took some really good pictures of my kids. I added a little fuzz around the outside of the pictures and they look great! I finally got around to ordering prints from walmart.com last night, and went to go pick them up today. The lady at the counter said "I'm sorry, we can't reprint professional pictures." I said "Umm, they aren't professional, I took them myself." She didn't believe me! Then she said "well, since they're already paid for, I'll give them to you, but just this once."

WELL! That certainly boosts my ego a bit, but uhhh, what happens when they won't print my pictures?! I guess I can always just take memory stick into the store and print them out there so they can see where they came from. But darn, what a pain. Still, it made my day that she thought my pictures were professional :D

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The least of these

For a long time, I've been meaning to get together small packages to give to homeless people we see on the streets. For one reason or another, probably laziness is the biggest reason, I haven't done it. Yesterday on the way to the kids' play (opening night was Friday, closing night was Saturday) we passed by a man on the offramp of the freeway, and he was holding a sign that said hungry. My 6 year old questioned why that man was standing there, and why he was hungry. I explained to him that not everybody had places to sleep or food to eat. Snugglebutt wanted to take the man to get him something to eat right then and there. We continued on to the play. Have I mentioned that the play was Godspell? As we passed this man, I kept thinking of seeing Matthew 25:31-46 acted out on the stage by these kids. The words "whatever you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto me" echoed in my head. And then this morning I saw Grafted Branch's post and I knew I had to get off my lazy hind quarters and DO something. See, I've been so worried about money, but then I decided to not worry, to trust. And you know what? It's all ok. We have enough, plus some. So, after church, the 3 younger kids and I went to Wallyworld and decided to DO something. We came up with 8 bags consisting of water, tuna and cracker kits, slim jims, trail mix, crackers, gum and an index card with a Bible verse on it. We chose Philipians 4:6-7, it's my life verse :) It's not much, but it's something. And after dropping off the 17 year old off at his job, we went driving looking for someone we could give a bag. It didn't take long in this big city. There was only one that we could actually get to, but we're going to go out every weekend till these bags are gone, and then make more and do it again. I'm also going to keep a bag in the car for when I'm on my way home from work. 50% of the time, there's someone there by the entrance to the freeway. My kids have had an absolute blast picking the things out for the bags, putting them together, and thinking about where we could go to find people to give them to. And they want to do more. One of them even suggested we have a couple them sleep over. How sweet! In some ways, I wish I were innocent enough to want to bring these people home with me.

So I'm sharing this to pose a question, because I'm a big believer in doing good in secret, to not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. I want my reward to be in heaven :) but I want to ask - what are you doing for the least of these? If you're not doing anything, it's not too late! I want to encourage you! Let's get the blogworld out there doing something! :) If you have something you do on a regular basis, I want to hear about it. I want more ideas! How do you involve your children?

Friday, October 20, 2006

My son, the actor

You know that feeling you get when you watch your child take his first steps? Or when you watch them pedal their two-wheeler down the sidewalk for the very first time? Or when you watch them do something you had no idea they could do? Tonight I watched my 17 year old son get up on stage, and I had no idea he could do what he did. He sang, he danced, and he acted. He was extremely good at it too. I had no idea he was interested in such a thing, and he really wasn't until last year. He took drama because he needed the elective credit, and when a bunch of people dropped out of the play, he stepped up to help when his drama teacher asked him to. But he didn't sing in last year's play. He worked very hard in this one, and it showed. He stole the show. Friends who have known him for years approached me afterward and said "did you know he could do that?!"

I'm so proud of him, words just can't express. And as he was singing and dancing and clowning around on that stage (it was a comedy) he looked so grown up. He's graduating in just 7 short months! 16 years ago, I watched him learn to walk. Now, he's learning to fly.


I passed! YAY! The CLASS IS OVER!!!!

The final was huge, I missed 11 things and still got a 96%. After the test, and the HOURS it took for them to be graded, they had a bunch of officers set up in one of the rooms on radios and we had to respond to what they needed. The officers got a little carried away, and were saying they had emergencies like they were being attacked by bees, one said he'd hit a horse, and when it was my turn, they were saying that they had just used their taser on someone. I could hear them yelling on the radio, apparently they were yelling so loud and it sounded so realistic that the bureau commander came out of his office to see what the problem was! OOPS!

I'm SO glad the class is over, now maybe I can think about and blog about other things! Of course, as I mentioned, this is when the really hard part starts. But at least I can leave that at work. And if it doesn't work out, I've still got 911.

Tonight is my 17 year old son's play at school, and Sassy and Snugglebutt have small parts also. I'm so excited, I can't wait to see it!

Update: Julie, we went to Cold Stone! Even better than DQ :D

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Please Go to...

Julie's blog and pray for her son who is in Iraq.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wordless Wednesday on Tuesday

Because I won't be able to get to it later... Much studying to do (ack! I hate fill in tests!) and I'm coming down with something... so...

See more Wordless Wednesday by following the links in the Wordless Wednesday Blogroll in my sidebar (because I'm too lazy to link right now!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

testing testing 123

10 tests down, 10 to go! Julie asked when the tests would be over - Friday. We had 3 today, 2 tomorrow, 4 Wednesday, 4 Thursday, and then we have a great big ole final on Friday. Today one of our instructors was pretty much going over exactly what was on the upcoming tests so that we knew what to study. She said that the training on the floor will be stressful enough, we don't need to stress out over this stuff. And she's probably right. Once we are in on the job training, that's when you can't stop to figure out what you are doing, you just have to do it. That part of the training lasts 6-9 months, and that's the stressful part. But with the on the job part, I can leave it at work and don't have to bring it home with me. So I'm definitely not as stressed out as I was last week :)

Now we're getting into information that is specific to the job of dispatcher, so things are a lot more interesting.

Thanks for the prayers!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Let it snow...

....somewhere else!!!

It doesn't snow here, so this is the best I can do... :) If I didn't have 3 tests in the morning, I'd be spending hours playing here making snowflakes! Takes me back to 3rd grade art class, it does!

Hat tip to Lisa Samson

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's much better riding in the FRONT seat of the police car...

Not that I've had any experience riding in the back... but... :)

So today I'm thankful I'm not a police officer. Last night was interesting, and we didn't encounter anything too horrific, but there was a lot that I found to be sad. Like the lady who told the convenience store clerk that she didn't have to pay for the 44 oz. Thirst Buster because she owned the store and it was perfectly ok. She also told the officers that she couldn't remember her name, and she didn't have a birthdate because she was never born. She was really an angel and therefore already dead. She was saying some really out there things. The officer had to tell her she was hallucinating. She said "I am? I'm hallucinating? Oh..." This lady had been arrested 58! times for trespassing. She was only about 3 years older than me. It's obvious by looking at her that she's had a rough life.

We took a 15 year old kid home who had been caught smashing up someone's car. He is being charged with criminal damage, but they let him go home. He was drunk when we brought him home.

We went to a 911 hang up call in the city housing project. Little kids ran to hide when they saw the police. I think that's just so sad.

I chose to go to one of the worse parts of town, because I'm not familiar with that area, and because I thought it would interesting. It ended up actually being pretty non-eventful. Most of the calls we went to were either taken care of by other officers before we could get there, or we were unable to find anything. We drove around running plates, but didn't even get to pull anybody over.

So yes, when there's a police car behind you, chances are he IS looking for a reason to pull you over :P :)

Friday, October 13, 2006

A little reprieve

Today is the day of my ride-along with a police officer. I'm going on the afternoon shift, so things should hopefully be busier than in the daytime or at night. Since there were no tests today, I'm able to take a little break from trying to cram all that stuff in my head, thankfully. I'm still doing well, but the schedule for next week looks brutal. But, only one more week! One down, one to go!

At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to try to do the dispatch training. I like 911, I like talking to the people on the phone (except on weekends between may and october) I just really like my job! But now that I've decided to do this next step, I'm really excited about it. I'll still get to do 911 at least once a week, so that's good.

I have nothing but good things to say about our whole police department, about our bureau, about our supervisors, and about most of my co-workers. Those about whom I don't have nice things to say, I try not to say anything. I mostly like everybody who is in this class with me. There are 12 of us, which is a big class. Two of the people in there though, while I like them, are the most negative people I've ever met in my life. One makes it clear that she dislikes almost all of the supervisors in our bureau, she doesn't like how things are run, and she thinks most of the policies are stupid. She really does not want to be in this class. The other one just always has something to complain about it. You know, nobody is forcing them to be there... I want to say that to them, to say well you know, if you don't like it, you can leave and still have a job... I guess I'm finding it hard to be around those very loud, very outspoken negative people so much. Usually I can avoid them by where I choose to sit at work, but in this class, I can't.

So I was wondering, besides praying for them, how do you deal with negative people?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No time for a proper Thankful Thursday post...

But I'm thankful for passing both tests today, and I think I have a good handle on the information for the 3 tests tomorrow... 4 down, 15 to go!

I'm thankful for my 6 year old who makes me laugh. Today he told her sister that she was being so incuserating! I almost choked on my mashed potatoes! Apparently, it means being a pain in the neck... so if you want to sound intelligent and impress your friends, try this new word in a sentence today! :P

Wordless Wednesday

This is the rose garden in the park where the rooster lives!

See more at The Other Side of Dubs

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So far, so good

I passed my tests today! We have 19 tests in all, and so now there's two less I don't have to worry about failing! :P (I'm not actually worried about failing the tests, I'm worried about remembering all the information I need to know to succeed at dispatching. I understand what a big responsibility it is.) And I feel pretty good about the tests I have tomorrow. Thursday's information is a little trickier - it's 2 of the 6 precincts and what is in them - like addresses to schools, parks, hospitals... the places I've been, I can picture where they are and figure out the address. Most of the places on these lists though, I've never been there. I don't really have time to go driving around the city either!

I feel better today though. Thanks for praying for me, I can tell because I am much more at peace with the whole thing :)

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's only been one day and my brain is already mush

Oh I'm really wondering what I got myself into with this dispatch training thing. It's a two week class, there are 2-5 tests every day, and if I fail 3 tests, I'm out. And there's a huge massive final at the end. After the class is over, there's 6 months worth of on the job training, but at least I don't have to study for that. Today I got home, made supper, picked my son and my friend's daughter up from play practice, ate, and then locked myself in my room to study. Now it's time for bed, and I get to do it all again tomorrow, only with different information I have to try to shove into my brain. There's SO MUCH to know! I'm looking at all this stuff, thinking... I have got to be INSANE!! (Or totally 918 in our department's cop-speak.) I am REALLY glad I had a two week break before starting this. The fun part is I get to go on another ride along with an officer on Friday. Last time I got to do that was 2 years ago in 911 training. It was a whole lot of fun, but I felt so powerless when I got back in my car to go home and it didn't have one of those computers in it.

I think I've got a pretty good handle on the information for tomorrow's tests (it's all stuff we did in the 911 class, which was 5 weeks of insanity!) Tomorrow starts the new information. I'll be praying for my bloggy friends, but I don't know that I'll get to post/comment much in the next couple weeks.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

That's it, it's over

I'm speaking of... vacation *deep sigh*

While I am indeed ready to go back to work, I am NOT ready to have to get up at 5:45AM to fight rush hour traffic, and then fight it again on the way home. Especially when I'm used to going to work at 11pm and all the traffic going the opposite direction when I leave. And I'm not ready to deal with lunches and uniforms and homework. And that's just for me! I'll have to deal with lunches and uniforms and homework for the kids too!

Ok, maybe two weeks wasn't enough :) We did have fun though. We went to the movies, slept in a lot, baked stuff, played monopoly, tickled each other, went to movies, went to "The Peacock Park" but only saw peahens and roosters, and we went to the movies. Oh, and I almost broke my arm. It still hurts, but I don't think it's seriously injured. Good times there :) Did I mention we went to the movies? I love having a daughter who works for the movie theater.

So lunches are packed, clothes are laid out, and everybody is excited to go back to school. Well, except for DQ, the 14 year old. She has been vigorously campaigning to not go to school tomorrow since the minute I picked her and her 17 year old brother up from the airport. She told me school is for losers. I told her I guess she's a loser then, because she's going!

I hope I'm ready to try to shove more police related information into this poor little brain of mine! Because dispatch training starts tomorrow. If I'm scarce around bloggyville, it will because I am trying to stuff things like hundred blocks, call signs, radio codes, and precinct and beat boundaries into my noggin. Pray for me? :)

Graffiti - another lesson in compassion?

Yesterday I discovered that someone had gang tagged on my garage door. You usually don't see that on houses themselves, but on walls and signs. It's pretty widespread here in this very large city, even in the brand new very expensive areas. But they came right up to my house, and wrote on my garage door with permanent marker. I was pretty steamed. I started to think "hmmm, maybe it's time to move!" My son's bike was stolen out of my (open) garage last fall, my oldest daughter's tires were stolen off of her car in April, and now this. And whoever did this! GRRR! I'd like to catch the little punk and... and... and what? What am I going to do to some gang banger that tagged my house? Turn him over my knee and give him a good spanking? But it's MY HOUSE! Let them ruin their own stuff, and leave mine alone! But... is it really my house? Sure, I make the payments, and we do need shelter, but it's another one of those things that sometimes gets in the way of seeing Christ for who He really is. I started to consider what causes kids to join the gangs that are responsible for so many of these crimes. Drugs are a big part of it for sure, and kids having bad home lives where they are abused or ignored. But the root of it all is evil. How do you combat evil? There's only one way that I know of - Christ. When I discovered the graffiti, my attitude was definitely NOT to turn the other cheek and let them graffiti that one too. Somehow I don't think the correct response is to pack up and move. Tonight I'm going to pray for the person who wrote on my garage door. Is it wrong to also pray for his Sharpie to dry up?

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm a dork, but I've got some nice kids

It was cloudy all day, but the clouds started breaking up in the late afternoon. The two kids that are here at the moment (two are in Ohio, one was at work) wanted to get out of the house for a bit, so we did. As we were driving around, I realized that we were going to have one gorgeous sunset today, so I decided to go get my camera and find a place to take some pictures of this awesome sunset I just knew we were going to have. We headed to this park that we used to go to all the time, where there are mountains. I thought for sure I'd be able to get an excellent view somewhere in the park. But ummm, the entrance to the park is on the east side of the mountains... do you see the problem here? The only sunset picture I managed to get today was one I snapped for the fun of it. We were traveling east bound, and I took a picture of one of my mirrors and the sunset behind us. But we decided to go up the mountain a little anyway, even though all of us had on either flip-flops or sandals. Totally NOT the right shoes for hiking up mountains! We used to hike this mountain all the time, but haven't been there much since March 1st, 2004... Sassy and Snugglebutt were all over that mountain, flipflops and all. I got up maybe about half of the first part of the climb, which is rocky and uneven. After that first section, it's all paved, but the particular part where we were was not. Because I was afraid of falling and breaking my neck or other parts I'd rather not break, I decided that we should probably head back down (it was NOT because that mountain was kicking my butt and I was huffing and puffing... really. It was the shoes. It WAS! Don't look at me like that!) The kids made me promise to take them back a different day when we were all wearing better shoes. They both started running ahead, but I could still see them. At one point Snugglebutt, the 6 year old boy, came back up to where I was and held my hand. "Mom, it's ok, I'm here, you don't have to panic." Who's panicking?? I was just stepping carefully so I didn't roll down the mountain. (I'd hate to have to call 911, you know? 911, what's your emergency? Yeah, I fell down North Mountain and... Connie?! Is that you?!? Yeah. How'd you do that? Ummm, I was wearing sandals on the mountain and... BWAHAHAHAHA! GUYS! YOU ARE NEVER GONNA BELIEVE WHO I'VE GOT ON THE PHONE!!! but I digress...) "I don't want you to fall" he says. My heart melted right then and there. Then after a few minutes he says "I really don't want you to fall, but the real reason I came back is I know we're not supposed to go that far ahead of you, and I wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to follow the rules you made." AWWWWWW!!!! I think his desire to obey might trump his concern for my safety in the "What a sweet kid!" department!

Of course, he COULD have just been trying to make his sister at the bottom of the mountain look bad ;)

Other non-sunset pictures -

Ok, so I didn't get the sunset, but I did get the moon :)

This is what my 21 year old wants for Christmas...

Ummm. No.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Who am I? Part 3 of 3

I am significant --
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit - John 15:16
I am God's temple - 1 Cor 3:16
I am a minister of reconciliation for God - 2 Cor 5:17-21
I am God's co-worker - 2 Cor 6:1
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm - Eph 2:6
I am God's workmanship - Eph 2:10
I may approach God with freedom and confidence - Eph 3:12
I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me - Phil 4:13

Remember, YOU are accepted, YOU are secure, and YOU are significant. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it! If you are fighting with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, look at yourself through the eyes of truth - see yourself how God sees you. God doesn't make junk!!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: What I am thankful for this week

I'm still thankful for VACATION!!!!!! But I feel ready to go back on Monday. Except I need to study some more for this training class that starts Monday. Knowing the names and the corresponding numbers of the major streets in the city was something I had to do for my 911 training class, and now for dispatch, they will test us on them again. And guess what? After the class, they all grew wings and flew right out of my head! But, another thing to be thankful for is a certain 9 year old Sassy girl who wants to help me. We were getting fruit smoothies yesterday after our trip to the park, and out of the blue she said "Ok mom, what's the 100 block for Elliot?" She even made me flash cards.

Funny kids. They really are a hoot. They definitely keep me laughing.

Good Friends - Today I had a fabulous day with my friend Becky. Well, really she's my family. Our sons are best friends and are always over at one another's houses, and our other kids are all friends too. She's been one of my biggest sources of support over the past two and a half years and I love her dearly. Today we went to go see Flyboys - a movie about the Americans who joined the French in World War 1 to fly fighter planes (another thankful thing - a daughter who is a manager at the movie theater and gets me in free on a regular basis! Gotta love free movies!) I'm not much of a war movie fan, but this one was really really good, I was pleasantly surprised. Then we went to lunch, spent an hour and a half there yapping, and then walked around Bed, Bath and Beyond for a while ooohing and aaahing over kitchen gadgets and comforter sets. We met these two older ladies (I'm talking 70's) that were out and about having the same kind of day that Becky and I were, and they were hilarious. Now, Becky has her nose pierced, and after a while the one lady said to Becky "ok honey, let me see your tattoo, because I know you have one!" And then this lady showed us hers on her ankle! LOL!

That even when we can't make sense of the world, when horrible things happen and we can't understand... God can, and does. There are a lot of things I may not understand until I get to heaven, but in the mean time, I find comfort that God knows about those things, and He's in control.

Click here for the Thankful Thursday code

Click here for Chrixean's blog

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

See more Wordless Wednesdays at 5 Minutes for Mom

Monday, October 02, 2006

Trusting God

Does it ever become something you just automatically do when things happen? I confess it hasn't yet for me. Although I am getting better - instead of immediately panicking over the situation, now as soon as I feel the panic starting, I think "ok, God has taken care you this far, why on Earth would you think He's going to stop now?" but still, I have to remind myself sometimes on a minute by minute basis. I guess I'm disappointed in myself! And just what is my problem anyway, why should I think I shouldn't be faced with these things? I was telling someone what it is I'm attempting to trust God for - it's a money thing. Every time I get a raise, it's one step forward, two steps back. Last time I got a raise, my house payment was going up $80 a month. Now the city has decided to give us a raise, and I was all praising God for that. I thought things would get a little easier, the ends would meet a little better. Nope. I found out the other day that I will likely be losing at least $280 in child support starting this month. So as I was telling this person that this stuff happens to me, her response was "Join the club!" I was kind of surprised. But... aren't I entitled to have things get better?! I know that happens to other people, but, after all we've gone through...And then I realized how arrogant was I to think that way. No, I'm not entitled to anything! God provides many things that in the absence of Grace that we absolutely do not deserve, but He still provides them. I suppose I really needed that reminder. OUCH. So I'll trust Him because He is Jehovah Jirah, our provider, even if I have to remind myself over and over. And I will thank Him for gently taking me down a notch and reminding me who is Boss.

My testimony

My family didn't go to church on a regular basis when I was growing up. My dad was raised in a Russian Orthodox church in Pennsylvania, and I'm not really sure what kind of religion or faith my mom had. I believe that she believed though, if that makes sense. It was just understood in my house that God was real, and that's just the way it was. I guess I've always just known that I've needed God, I was just not sure how that all worked for a long time. I used God and Faith as a crutch to get me through difficult times on and off, I was never really around anybody who lived out their faith. Everybody I knew went to church on Sundays and then did whatever they wanted the rest of the week. I didn't know what a life of faith looked like. I started going to church on a regular basis when my oldest daughter was a baby, but I was young, and had no support. I got married when my daughter was 3. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway because I convinced myself that love was something you decided to feel. I could decide to love this man, because my daughter needed a dad and we both needed something more stable than I was able to provide. Yes, I do see how messed up that thinking was! But remember I came from a home without a mother and with a father who didn't show any interest in me at all. About 2 years later, I met someone who lived out her faith. We became friends, and I started going to church with her. It felt like the thing I was looking for. I spent a bunch of years praying for my husband, who was Jewish, but the thing was, I didn't love him. My friend eventually moved away, and I stopped going to church because I had to work. My husband and I tried to make it work for almost 10 years, but when things fell apart, they fell apart in a big way. I was so hurt and away from church, away from God, I did some things in that time period that I really regret. I hated myself for those things, and I was pretty sure God hated me too. The marriage fell apart, I was single again, and again I didn't really believe I had what it takes to take care of myself and my kids alone. Pretty soon I met someone. He seemed to be everything I thought I wanted. He was a Christian, he was smart, funny, handsome, had definite leadership qualities. We became friends and then it progressed to being more than friends. When he asked me to marry him, I said yes immediately. For 5 years we went to church every Sunday at the same church, and things seemed really good. It wasn't perfect at all - we lacked discipline and didn't pray as much as we should, or read the Bible as much as we should, but I though it was good. I believed this marriage was a God thing. I believed God rescued me from the life I had and gave me a Godly husband. But I didn't know that this "godly husband" was hiding some major things. Without going in to all of the very specific details and how I should have known he was a controlling, manipulating narcissist, I'll just say I didn't see it at all. I didn't see things in me either. I didn't see that I just wanted so badly to be rescued because I had zero self worth and still hated myself for all the mistakes I'd made, that I mistook making another poor choice for God rescuing me. So when the FBI knocked on my door on March 1st 2004 and told me that my husband had been sexually abusing my daughter, I argued with them for 30 minutes telling them he had to have been framed, because he was a good church going man and would never do such a thing! My world fell apart right then and there. They took us to ChildHelp to interview each of the kids and while we were gone they came and arrested my husband. I had no idea how we were going to make it through the next 24 hours, let alone have any kind of a life at all ever again. I was devastated. I realized pretty quickly that there was only one real choice - I had to depend on God like I had been professing I did. There was a period there were everyday I listened to the song Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman (lyrics here) over and over to remind myself that I had to choose to praise God, even when things just sucked really bad. As I trusted Him, miracles began to happen, and the knowledge of how He has ALWAYS had us in His hands became clear. After God gave me my job, after I got back on my feet, God began healing some of those other parts of my life that contributed to the bad decisions I've made. He let me know in no uncertain terms that He does in fact love ME.

Shortly before my husband's arrest, I read a book by Bruce Wilkenson called First Hand Faith. He started off talking about the Israelits, how when God brought them out of Egypt, those people saw what God did first hand. They knew God and believed him because they saw Him work with their own eyes. They told their kids what they saw, and their kids told their kids, but after a while it wasn't first hand. They didn't see it, they only heard about what God did, so their faith was not as strong. Makes sense. And now that I've seen God work first hand, I know I can never go back to living without Him or only using my faith as a crutch. I know it was God Himself who reached down and rescued us, and I will tell anybody who will listen - God is alive, He is good, and He loves YOU!

Tagged for the first time!

I've been tagged! Julie at A Joyful Life tagged me and said I get to pick which meme I did. I'm so bad at making decisions, I'll just go ahead and do both...

Friday FIVE - even though it is Monday :)

1. What would I do with Five Minutes To Myself: What I SHOULD do with 5 minutes to myself right now is study the things I will need to know for the dispatcher training class that starts next week. I need to relearn the names and corresponding numbers of a lot of the named streets in the city, and I need to learn the boundaries of the precincts. Fun fun stuff there, woohoo. That's what I SHOULD do. What I would do is check my email and my bloglines, of course.

2. Five dollars to spend to spend right now: I'd take Sassy and Snugglebutt to McDonalds for an ice cream cone and let them play in the play place. Well, I wouldn't do that right now because it's only 7:47am. Or I'd buy some beads. Or gummy bears.

3. 5 Items in my house that I could part with right now:
Only 5? Hmmm ok...
1) The huge old extremely heavy TV that is sitting in my living room. It still works but the color isn't right on it anymore. Bulk trash pick up is coming soon! But that thing takes at least two people to move.
2) The tile in the kitchen, I absolutely hate it.
3) The couch.
4) Still have a lot of my ex-husbands junk I need to deal with. I need to pack it up and take it to his mother's house, but then I'd have to deal with her and sometimes it's just easier not to.
5) 75% of the clothes in this house, no matter who they belong to.

4. 5 Items I could Never Part With:
1) The embroidered pillow case my mom made for me when I was about 4 or 5. It has Sleeping Beauty on it, my name, a bunny and a duck. She used a page from a coloring book for Sleeping Beauty. It's also has stains from nosebleeds I used to get in my sleep as a kid.
2) My laptop.
3) The ring my sister gave me last year for my birthday.
4) My books
5) My thousands and thousands of pictures I've taken over the years.

5. 5 Words I Love:
1) comfortable
2) silly
3) monkey - I lovingly refer to all of my kids as monkeys
4) love
5) home

Now the Word meme - 4 words and what they mean to me without using a dictionary

1. anticipation - hopeful expectancy
2. glory - shine - when we do something that brings glory, our light is shining and bringing attention to ourselves. When we give God he glory, that light is then shined onto Him.
3. perseverance - never giving up, no matter how much you want to.
4. hilarious - something so funny you laugh so hard that your sides ache!

Ok! Now I tag Mouse from Happenings at the mouse house, and anybody else who wants to play along. You can pick which one you want to do, and if you choose the word meme, the words I choose are: value, content, listen, and control.