Monday, December 17, 2007

Bourne Then and Now

This weekend we watched The Bourne Ultimatum, and then The Bourne Identity, because one is not enough. I love these films, but everytime I see one, I have to get on my soapbox about action film heros now vs. in the 80's.

When I first saw The Bourne Identity five years ago, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to read the Robert Ludlum novels which the movies are based on. I was very surprised to discover that Jason Bourne in the novels is really a chauvanistic jerk. He kidnaps Marie from a hotel and forces her to help him at gun point. It's been long enough since I read them that I don't remember if they get together, but I think at the least she helps him of her own free will after that. He is also ruthless and amoral. I recommend the books, because the stories are great, but they are definately different. There is also a Bourne Identity movie made much closer to the time of the books, and it's Bourne is very close to the book Bourne. We didn't enjoy it very much.

However, knowing the books, I laugh everytime I watch the new Bourne movies. It is such a great example of how the cultural expectations for men and relationships leave a lasting imprint on the hero. Far from the macho jerk in the books, Bourne in the movies is a Really Good Guy. He's an assassin, but he only kills the other assassins who are trying to kill him first. He doesn't carry a gun, but rather finds one each time he has to use one. He can speak any language, evade a chase in any tiny vehicle, defend himself with a ballpoint pen or rolled up magazine, yet he is lost without Marie. When it comes time to enlist Marie's help, he offers her a lot of money, and lets her choose. That is so much more appropriate behavior, because women today need to choose their destinies. It isn't until the bad guys kill Marie that he moves from reactive to proactive, and we know it's all because his heart is broken, so we can forgive just about anything. He's a killer we can love. He hardly even swears.

I sit there laughing and pointing out these things as we watch, and I love the films because Bourne is the kind of hero I can empathize with, for all the above reasons. I guess I'm as shaped by the culture I live in as Bourne is.

Friday, December 07, 2007

GOZ Christmas musical

This year Madeline and Abigail are dancing in the grand finale of our Glory of Zion Christmas musical. I've been having fun going to the rehersals with them and seeing more of the musical. Their part is at the end, but if any of you would like to see the musical, you can watch the live webcast online on Dec. 15th at 6:30pm CST. The link is You just choose the webcast info box at the bottom left corner of the screen, and follow the directions. The picture quality isn't the best, but the sound will be good. I'll try to wave at the camera. Maybe you'll see me!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My Own Little Hanukkah

This year we are celebrating Hanukkah, along with Christmas. So, tonight, something funny happened. For a little background, Hanukkah is a celebration of the miracle that happened when Judah Maccabee led a small army against the Romans, and reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem. It was before the time of Christ, during the 400 years between Old and New Testament. After they cleaned and prepared the temple, the Jews dedicated it again to the Lord. The Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, was scheduled to last for a week, but when they went to light the menorah, there was only enough oil for one day. It took 8 days to consecrate new oil for burning, so they couldn’t wait for that to happen. The miracle was that the oil lasted for the entire eight days, until the new oil was ready and could be used.

So Hanukkah is a celebration of God’s miracles of provision, and the Hanukkiah is a menorah with nine candle holders instead of seven like in the menorah. The middle candle is called the “servant candle,” which is a prophetic picture of Jesus. Jesus is called the light of the world, and said that if you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you must be a servant.

So, back to the story…I got nine votive candles and lined them up with little tea lights in them. I lit the center candle and the first candle on the left. We'll light one more each night. We enjoyed it for a while, and then I blew them out. William came by and said, “Hey, these aren’t burning!” I responded, “Yes, I blew them out because I didn’t want to use up all the tea light before the end of the eight days.” Ummm….Oh, that’s exactly what Hanukkah is celebrating-the miracle of the oil that lasted when there was only enough for one day. It struck me really funny that I was having the same worries the Jews had. I’m not sure I’m quite able to keep the votives burning for eight days straight just to see if the Miracle of Light happens in my living room.

By the way, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah too. See the following scripture.

John 10:22-39

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"

"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, `I have said you are gods'? If he called them `gods,' to whom the word of God came-and the Scripture cannot be broken- what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God's Son'? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

It's interesting that Jesus keeps referring to the miracles He has performed, especially in light of the fact that they were celebrating the miracle God did at the first Feast of Dedication at the time.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Got A Job!

About six weeks ago, the girl in charge of the children's ministry at our church told me she was going to be needing an assistant to take care of the nursery. She thought of me right away, since we've worked together well on that before. So, I've been all excited for a while now.

In the meanwhile, she's been trained to take on more responsibilities, and I've been waiting to see what happens. This Sunday, she officially introduced me to Chuck Pierce, who is the president of our church organization, and whom I've only known by proximity. Then, yesterday she called me because she's working on a job description for me. It looks like I'll be working with her about 25-30 hours a week; coordinating the nursery, and helping with other stuff for the children's ministry.

I'm really excited to have a job, especially one like this, where the hours work with the kid's school schedule, and the fun of working at church with her.

Last night I made a fake turkey dinner with a roasted chicken, cranberry sauce, box stuffing, green beans and gravy. It was really good. I felt stuffed afterwards, just like I do on Thanksgiving. Those flavors just require eating a little extra. I resisted the urge to make a pumpkin pie. That can happen another night.

On the Abigail front, Abby's teacher called last week to let me know that Abby had taken all the tests with the school counselor, and was now going to be allowed to be tested for dyslexia. They do a bunch of IQ tests to see if the child's intelligence is far enough ahead of their reading skills to warrant dyslexia testing. So, now we know what we've always known...Abby is a smart cookie. I have been very pleased to see her reading signs and things for fun while we are out doing things. It is going to be great to see her get the help she needs to move on with reading.

I've been using coconut oil for all kinds of skin issues lately. I got an ant bite the other day, and I put coconut oil on it, and the pain went away. I also rub it on Abby's eczema, and that always clears right up, and when Sam stepped on an ant mound accidentally in sandals and got about 11 bites, I rubbed it on his feet and put socks on them. His bites are numerous enough that I keep doing it every night, and before he went to school today. I think it makes a big difference. I know that Aunt Luanne had a coconut oil business of some kind. What happened with that? I had to buy my coconut oil at the natural foods store for $15 for a 16oz container. There's some money in that stuff...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bacon Bits

I was very surprised this morning when I went out to take the kids to the bus stop to see ICE on our van windows. I had no idea we were going to hit freezing tempuratures this fast. Especially since last week we were in the 80's. My thin summer blood is slowly thickening up. The leaves on our oak tree turned red overnight, and I'm being hit with an urge to bake. I think its safe to say that fall is here.
A couple of Saturdays ago Madeline came out of her bedroom, saw Will and I finishing up some bacon, and said sadly, "I want some bacon too!" I responded, tenderly, "I'm so sorry honey, there were only seven pieces." But then I realized how rediculous that sounded. Only seven? William sheepishly said, "Actually, there were nine." I couldn't stop laughing, and Madeline was sitting there with a confused look on her face, trying to figure out what was so funny. You'd think that nine peices of bacon would keep a family of five at least slightly satisfied for bacon. But, that day, it didn't. Will and I now repeat the line "I'm so sorry honey, there were only seven peices of bacon" when things seem a little out of balance around here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Moose Alert!

OK, I think Fall has finally come to Denton. I'm a little wary to say so, because it might be 90 degrees tomorrow, but last night I left two windows open 1 inch each, and the circulating fan on, and the house was 68 degrees by morning. We've been A/C-ing to keep it at 75 degrees for the last five months. I love being able to open the windows and air everything out finally. I realized that I'm used to open windows from life in California, so it's been a little strange to get used to having them closed so much of the time. I see now the value of candles in freshing the old air.

Abigail said something really funny the other night, but before I tell the story, I'll give a little history. Abby has consistantly been about one year behind grade level in her reading abilities, and we even had her repeat first grade in home school to give her time to catch up a bit. This year she's in third grade. A few days into the school year, her teacher called me to say that she loves Abigail, she's a great student, but have we ever considered getting her tested for dyslexia? I think she was expecting me to balk at the idea, so was surprised when I said we never have had her tested, but that we'd be very grateful for any help or illumination shed on the problem. I had been praying for some kind of breakthrough for Abby, and I felt like this was the thing. So I gave her the go-ahead for whatever process is involved. I had to laugh because her teacher said, "Well, I'm happy to say that her difficulty reading hasn't affected her self-confidence!" Yes, she'd noticed that...

Back to the story... Last night Abigail said to me, "Mom, why do I have to learn to read? I can read street signs, like 'STOP' and 'MOOSE!'" I'm afraid that here in North Texas that may not be the most necessary skill... So we had a little conversation about the value of reading, and so on. By the way, Abby has a new blog. You can get to it with the link on this blog.

Here are a few road signs that Abby, and any Texas driver should know... Definately be aware of "Armadillo X-ing." I have never seen a live Armadillo, yet, but I have seen many dead ones on the side of the road.

I also recommend that the crazy cross country truck drivers pay close attention to this one. And Abby too, for that matter, because flipped trucks are a surprisingly common sight on the freeways here. William even had a major backup one day because a truck had flipped over on an overpass, and was balancing on the edge, so all the traffic going under had to be diverted to the frontage road. I also have to add the story about the flipped FedEx truck. There were packages scattered in the fields on the side of the freeway for hundreds of feet. Will and I had fun imagining scenarios: "I'm sorry ma'am, but your package is somewhere in the middle of Texas. We won't be able to retrieve it..." or "Joe, we need to get someone down there to collect and catalog what fell out. Get some guys on it and report by Monday." (Meanwhile, there is a severe thunderstorm...) Or, "Opps." And, to show you how common this problem is, there is another story about a randomly tipped truck on the onramp to the I35. It was just lying on it's side in the praire grass like a beached whale. It wasn't even a very sharp turn. How does this keep happening?

And then, my favorite saying, "Turn around, Don't Drown." Whenever we have a flashflood warning, the computer voice at the end of the broadcast says this in an eerie monotone. I like to copy it when we get lots of rain.

And of course, this being Texas, Abby really should become aware of possible cattle danger. Also appropriate is the motorcycle in the corner. On warm, but not too hot, days, we see many middle-aged men with no helmets crusing the area. Maybe someone should make a sign that emphasizes the safety of helmets. Helmet-less riders cause us more worry than the other hazards combined. I guess its all about perspective.

Oh, Abby's testing will begin in a few weeks. The red tape is long and tangled, I guess. But the district has a great program that makes a big difference. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with her.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

Madeline was 11 on Sept. 20th. Wow. She pooled all her birthday money to buy a Nintendo DS lite. It's the first piece of high tech equipment owned by one of my children. I read an article recently about how 'tweens are demanding more high tech toys. And I realized that I now have a "'tween". Hmm. I'm glad to be a young mom. Most people think that Sam is my oldest, and they're surprised when I tell them I have two other older daughters. It's kind of fun, actually.

On another note, I got a part-time job as assistant to the children's ministry director at church. We have worked together on nursery things before, so I know we work well together. I haven't actually started the job yet. I'm thinking things will start in October. But its a new page in my life that I'm looking forward to.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This spider has definitely been the most popular thing on my blog for a long time. William could not resist getting another photo for my appreciative audience. Here's lookin' atcha.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Things Are Bigger in Texas

At the end of July we discovered this spider in our backyard. We had seen few others on the bushes near the pool, and had marveled at the size and color. I put my hand there to give a sense of proportion. You can see a look of slight concern on my face, although I'm sure this is a harmless garden spider. The size is just creepy. And so are the bright yellow markings.

But, I will say that more bugs have been fun for the kids. Abby and Sam love to catch crickets and grasshoppers; Abby is quite fearless about grabbing them. We also have been seeing decent sized toads at night, along with flying bugs we've never seen in California.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall Snap

Today was the first day with a cold snap in the air. This morning, instead of the usual 85 degree plus weather we've been experiencing, it was 65 degrees. I opened the windows for the first time in about 5 months, and am really enjoying the fresh fall air.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Taste of New Year's Day

You can check Erin's blog later, but I will announce that her baby was born today at 12:30pm. Congratulations Erin and Jim! I'll let them give the rest of the facts on their blog.

I was cleaning out my refrigerator yesterday, and I found a container of bleu cheese that had no purpose. I saw that I had the rest of the stuff for a cheese ball, so I made three small ones last night. Today, I sat down with a mound of cheese ball and crackers for lunch. As I tasted it, I had the immediate thought, "Tastes like New Year's!" It is so wierd how a taste can take you somewhere. We only made cheese balls at New Year's, so to eat one in September is like time travel. Yummy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Some Good Books

I found a mystery series that I'm enjoying. It's called the Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery series, by Margaret Frazer. The main character is a Benedictine nun. They are set in medieval England in the 1400's. Besides great writing and character development, I'm enjoying the prayers that Dame Frevisse thinks about through out her day. It's almost like reading a devotional sometimes. Each story takes place in a different realm of medieval society, so I'm learning a lot about that culture. Anyway, I highly recommend these books.

The other series I'm enjoying is the #1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith. I've read most of them, and when I'm in the mood for Africa instead of medieval England, I just switch books. His other series, The Sunday Philosophy Club, and The Portuguese Irregular Verb books are also very good. I love the fact that one Scottish author can write so personally about Botswana, Scotland, and Germany. Each series has its own feeling; the characters are different from each other, but the things that make Alexander McCall Smith good are there in each one. One theme in all three series is what it means to be an individual as part of a larger community. He also does a great job of exploring moral choices in relationships, and the dynamics of relationships in general.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs is the funniest little three volume set. It describes the misguided exploits of a relationally clueless bachelor German professor. He is always getting into embarrassing situations, but half the time he’s not quite aware of it. Everyone around him is responding appropriately, but he thinks they’re the ones with the problem. When he is aware of his relational mistakes, he is in agony trying to fix the problem, which usually leads to more problems. They are fun reading.

Last but not least, I started a new Beth Moore bible study last night called “Believing God.” In her opening lecture, Beth talked about the gap between our theology and our reality. She said that faith, or believing God, is the bridge that crosses that gap, and connects our theology and reality into an authentic experience. I was so blessed by the last study I did, and I’m looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Bride of Christ

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be the Bride of Christ...personally and corporately. I've made friends with a Lebonese woman in my town. She is really beautiful, and I feel like she is the closest match I've met that might fit into the Song of Solomon poem. I never really got the references to Pomogranates and flocks of goats and so on. But for some reason those words make sense next to her.

She showed me her wedding photos last time we met. It was great to see the entire 24 hour process captured, with the traditional ceremonies and dancing and so on. She said that they bascially start saving for their weddings at birth, and when they hear about how much celebrities here in the US spend on weddings they laugh, because proportionally, it is less than the usual Lebonese wedding. It was really lavish, with jewels and silks and glittery makeup and expensive everything. Lots of food and dancing, with my friend the center of the celebration as the bride.

Seeing the wedding got me thinking about what it means to be the Bride of Christ. For some reason the Lord chose to express His heart to us through the middle eastern culture, with the Jews as His chosen people, and the Bible being culturally based there. As I ruminated on what I'd seen in current times, the ancient words began to hold more meaning. The bride is so valued and lavished on, and Christ sees the Church that way. It's all about the Bride.

I used to see myself as a tool of the Lord. I believed that my purpose was to be used by him for his purposes. My needs and growth were less important than being useful to the Lord. Over the years, my view has changed, and now I see myself (and each Christian) as the main point. I am not here to be used, I am here to become exactly the woman that I am destined to be. In that process, I get to do the good works that have been planned since the beginning of time. I believe those good works are specific for each person. They fit who we are, and it's less about doing lots of good, than it is doing exactly the good that is specifically planned for us. It's about Trust and Obey.

When I think about the Church as the Bride, I see a whole new level of value. We aren't just a bunch of people who believe certian truths, who are saved from hell, who behave, who gather each Sunday. We are a living body that is being fashioned into a bride fit for the King. How different to hear the King say, "You are beautiful, my darling, as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, majestic as troops with banners." (Song of Songs 6:4) And His banner over us is Love.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

New Old Home Details

We've been doing lots of things to our house. We've been here for about 13 months now, and things are getting more refined. One of the few things I don't like about my kitchen is that it doesn't have any windows. The wall where the window would be has the stove on it, so that's that. I realized that the newer houses here tend to have less windows than the old houses I've grown up in. I'm sure it because we have to heat and cool the house pretty much all year, so it saves money. Here you can see my latest brain wave: Hanging old windows between the livingroom and kitchen. I found them at a Habitat for Humanity warehouse where contractors take their old home parts and dump them instead of a landfill. You can find just about anything that used to be in a house. And in the back was a big pile of old windows. They were $2.50 each. Obviously no one sees any value in them. I've been thinking about how to get a few into the house somehow for about a year, since I saw them last summer.
In this photo of me and the kids last Sunday morning, you can see the shelf behind me, which Dan DeHart installed for me last summer. I've put a bunch of the things that I never had a spot for before, including a collection of old kitchen utensils from Uncle Elmer. I guess my goal is to make my new house look as old as possible. Its kind of working.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The First Day of School

I'm entering a new phase of life: All my kids are at school all day. It's nice, but very different. I realized that I haven't had any alone time for the last eleven years unless a babysitter made it possible. So, now I have 7 hours a day to myself.
Today I went to Panera and drank tea and read a book after dropping off the kids, and then grocery shopping, and the Bank, and prayer at church. It was great to take my time, and have peace, but I don't talk much by myself. I have to remember to sing to keep my voice from getting croaky. I heard another mom talking to her toddler in the store, and I realized that usually that's me doing the talking. This not talking thing is kind of a surprise.
The kids did fine on their first day. Sam was pretty reluctant, but we went to "Meet your teacher night" on Monday, so he got to see his room and meet the teacher. That helped make him less worried about Kidnergarten. On Tuesday morning, we went to school with Chrissa down the street, also K, and her mom. (See photo) She is Sam's friend, and was in his class too, fortunately. As I left, I realized that there are these portholes in the wall to Sam's class where the worried parents can observe their little darling secretly. I took photos so you can get the feeling too. You can see Sam and Chrissa at their table if you look carefully.
Madeline and Abby are getting used to their new teachers. Abby's is more strict than last years, so that's different. Madeline has a nice group of teachers too, and she moves from subject to subject in different classes. Good practice for next year.
Of course I had to document the sweaty, hot, tired, hungry children as they disembarked from the bus at the end of the day. They'll be riding the bus both ways. Sam said the bus is his favorite part of the day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hello everyone,

We've made it through February...It's amazing to realize that we are almost one year from our big transition to Texas that began last April.

I am excited to be making a short visit to California next week to visit a few family members. I'm also going to visit Trader Joe's...I definately miss that place! It will be my first time back since the move, so I'm looking forward to the trip.

This summer we are also going to CA for Will's sister's wedding, and then a vacation during July. We'll get to hit all our favorite spots and get a fill of the beach.

I just started a Beth Moore Bible Study at church, which I can tell is going to be a blessing. I'm also glad to get to know some of the other women in the church better.

That's the basics for now...Really basic...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I made it to the library

Its horrifying to see that my last post was about four months ago. But, since then our laptop with the wireless card died, so blogging at the library is tricky with Sam in tow. I'm doing it today though, despite all.

We had a good Christmas...our first away from family. On Christmas Eve I was thinking that this is our "cold turkey Christmas" where we celebrate with no family at all. And, interestingly, we got invited to a neighbor's house for Christmas dinner, and they served cold turkey. They had cooked and carved the bird the night before, and then refrigerated it on it's platter. So we had hot potatoes and gravy, and hot stuffing, and hot yams, and cold turkey. I thought that was quite symbolic.

I have been getting to know a lot of my neighbors, and am really enjoying building relationships with a whole new crowd. It's been a good foil for me to see myself in a new setting, and I'm seeing more clearly who I am.

I've been experiencing a lot of joy when I realize that I am becoming more and more free from all the old "should" messages I used to live under (see David's blog about niceness). In church on Sunday we were singing a song about how Pharoah kept God's people from experiencing the life God had for them. And then the next verse talks about we don't have Pharoah in America today, but we have religious and political structures that create bondage in the same way. The chorus says, "freedom to dance, freedom to sing, freedom to live." As I was singing (and dancing) I found myself suprisingly emotional. I realized that freedom in the Lord through trusting him and the Holy Spirit to lead me in all things has changed my Christian life immensely. I don't worry about knowing the right answers, or even being ready to argue the latest apologitic with some poor soul. I know that any power to change peoples' lives comes directly from the Lord, not me. So the pressure is off in every way, and I just get to sit back and trust and obey, and see the results. It's so delightful and freeing.