Thursday, May 27, 2010

What is Wrong with This Picture?

Yesterday, I was the picture of productivity. I made a To Do list and started crossing items off said To Do list LEFT and RIGHT. I was a machine.

I made phone calls I've been avoiding for days.

I scheduled dr. appointments through till September for the various Gang members. Yes, mom, even THAT appointment that I've been avoiding. Turns out, I'm not over due for THAT. I only thought I was. That's a whole 'nuther post. My mind lately. Like a seive. I swear.

I sorted and purged a drawer or two. I re-organized the hall closet to ready it for summer. Beach towels, suntan lotion, swimmie diapers. We are set.

I straightened out a huge mess involving not one but TWO store bonus/savings cards and their related accounts Let's just say that from now on, The Boss isn't allowed to register for new cards at any stores. Ever. But it's okay. He was only trying to help. And I fixed it.

I started a menu for our upcoming SUMMER KICK-OFF WEEKEND with friends.

I started a grocery list and a freezer inventory to round out the menu planning for this coming weekend.

I even planned a little bit ahead to the coming week, knowing that I'll likely want some extra down time after all partying and late-night chatting in which I plan to indulge.

But. And it's a big BUT.

I completely forgot to plan dinner for my Gang. For that night. I thawed nothing. I prepared nothing.

I was completely unprepared to feed the clamoring mouths that started circling the kitchen around 4 p.m. Asking the age-old question (multiple times by multiple kids): "What's for dinner, Mom?"

So I hopped in the car, jammed my glasses on my face and ran to my neighborhood store. Only to pull in the parking lot and realize that it wasn't 4 p.m.

No. It was 5 p.m.

5:00 p.m. on a Thursday night.

And NOT a pay-day Thursday night. So covering my tracks by calling my local pizza dude was not an option.

I can plan meals for literally an entire month (And normally, I do. I even have a fancy-schmanzy Menu List that I print and post. And yes, they still ask. Multiple times. Multiple kids.)

I can forecast what sizes my kids will be in for the coming seasons. I can scope out sales and deals to outfit them for those coming seasons.

I can set up a list of future projects for our home, for the yard, for the kids. I can make a plan for accomplishing those projects. I can tell you how those plans are going to play out.

But for some reason, if I get working my tail off on a designated "catch up" day, I canNOT for the life of me get a meal together for that same day.

What is wrong with this picture?!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This year, opening the pool required
that the older boys jump IN the pool
to retreive some stuff that fell in during
a particularly windy storm.

It was quite chilly. "Bracing," I believe was the word.
Said through chattering teeth.

These two were a smidge jealous.
Until they stood in the water for a couple minutes.
Not so much then.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
that's actually, er, you know, wordless,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You've Been Served

Do your kids say that to each other? I mean, after someone has dished out a really snappy (often sarcastic or jibing) comment or comeback? I've heard it off and on from my four older kids a lot lately. A. LOT.  In harsh, snarky tones. Usually followed by a laugh or snort by the older, snappier  dudes. It really bugs me on a couple levels, especially when I've seen and heard it used as a means of furthering one's own agenda or exploiting another's weaknesses. It's become almost a catch phrase for a whole attitude that I think has recently infected our house. (Along with the second round of strep, fourth cold, and various and sundry allergy related ailments.)

So The Boss and I decided it was time to do something about it.

Well, The Boss and I agreed that something must be done about it. I actually did the doing this morning. First thing out the gate. Mondays are good that way for me. Fresh start, clean slate and all that.

I mean, I tackled it first thing out the gate AFTER I had my morning coffee started and AFTER (yet another) call to the pediatrician to schedule a squeeze-in appointment for Baby BlueEyes. I do have my priorities you know.

So, yeah. Anyway.

We've been frustrated these last few weeks with the degrees of selfish behavior and speech we've seen in our Gang. We know all the STUFF that goes into making it this way: the unending rainy spring days, the sniffles and colds, the ages and stages of development, blah, blah, blah.  But we also know that the WORD says that that STUFF isn't an excuse for sinful behavior.  And quite frankly, just between you and me, The Boss and I have been pretty lax about addressing the ROOTS of these behaviors. We have gotten caught in the big 'ole yawning trap of treating the behavior. Of reacting to the inconvenience and chaos that the behavior creates. Of slapping band-aids all around. All the while, green, slimy oozy stuff has been leaking out around those band-aids. Wounds have been inflicted and infected. And here we are, slapping band-aids all around.

Oh. Gross. That's a nasty metaphor.

But it works. Metaphorically.

We talked a lot to the kids over the weekend about truly loving each other. About serving each other out of the abundance of that love. We reminded them that NO ONE in this house should EVER. EVER. EVER. feel unsafe, disrespected, or unloved. That in OUR FAMILY, we don't inflict wounds. We heal wounds. We MUST heal each other's wounds. That we all have a part to play in that. And that dadgum it, we were all going to be doing something to change it up and get at the roots in each of the Gang.

The thing is?  Getting at the roots requires heart change. Heart surgery, if you will, to dig out and excise that little root of sin that is at the bottom of those wounds. And a doctor who is walking around with big nasty oozy wounds of his her own is kind of infectious. Contagious. And NOT in a good way. If you can guess where I'm going with this, then maybe you've been there, too? Kind of a "Physician Heal Thyself" thing goin' on here at the moment . . .

I know, I know. Enough with the oozing wounds, right?

So, where was I? Oh, yeah. I did something about it this Monday morning.  My new motto is "If you aren't going to serve each other out of love, then you WILL serve them out of sheer obedience to my command."

Heh. That sounds way harsher in black and white here than it did when I actually summarized it for my sweet little Gang members.

Basically, my new, inventive, getting-to-the-root-of-the-selfishness-between-siblings tactic is going to look like this:  if a little Gang member dishonors, disrespects, or otherwise hurts another member of this little Gang, the offending member is going to be instructed to serve that offended member in a very specific manner. For example, when a certain sibling responds to a certain other sibling's request to start her half of the weekly trash job with a huff and a puff and rolling of the eye, said sibling will be instructed to extend her portion of the trash job by emptying the diaper pail for the requesting sibling. And when she pouts at this new and creative disciplinary tactic to her Momma, she will further be instructed to fetch the big brothers' nasty, stinky, dirty laundry basket and sort it for a load of colors to be started.

(Not that any of this actually happened Monday afternoon around 4:40 p.m.)

Loosely, I am thinking of it as a kind of a "fake it till you make it program for kids."  A focused, concerted effort at teaching them that interacting with one another always has a consequence attached. And that if they choose NOT to behave in a manner of loving servanthood, they will be carrying out a consequence NOT of their choosing that benefits and serves that person regardless. They'll either keep faking it or they will experience a change of heart toward one another and MAKE IT real servanthood. Real love and covering and care.

If nothing else, there's going to be a lot of jobs done (grudgingly or otherwise) by a particular couple Gang members.  And I know one little Gang member who might not have to make his own bed again till September!

As for my own, nasty, infectious STUFF? Well, I'm working on it. My worst habit I've decided that I need to address is to bellow and screech speak less. Even if it means biting my tongue. This effort of responding to their yuck with an example of control and patience and intentionality is really hard. It's especially hard with Li'l Empress, who is in a lovely toddler stage of whining. About everything. Sometimes repeating the same whiny phrase over and over and over and over.  It's so much easier to respond to her with a similar level of whining, in my adult voice, of course. {Snort.}

My vocal cords are thanking me already and it's only been a day or two. But my tongue hurts.  I think I might have drawn blood on that last bite.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Snapshots

Ni Hao Y'all

Okay, so I'm gonna give this a whirl. I'm not the greatest at posting on the weekends, but Stefanie is pretty gracious about stretching this particular "Sunday" event into Mondays, so I might have a fighting chance of being semi-regular at joining the fun. (See how I gave myself lots of ambiguity there?! Gotta have a little "out" so I don't feel pressured and stressed about it being a Sunday post. All. the. time.)  So, yeah. Anyway. I'm home from church this morning. With a sick kid. (Again. At least it's a different kid.) And I've got some cute pics of the Gang. So, aren't you the lucky ones.

First Ice Cream Outing
of the "Summer!" 
I know Summer doesn't officially start for several more weeks, but this past Friday was beautiful and blazing  hot. We ate a very healthy dinner together and then piled The Gang into our trusty mini-van (Which by the  way, is feeling really "mini" lately, with all those long legs and sweaty boys filling it!) and headed to our neighborhood ice cream hot spot.

 Shaggy is not a fan of Momma snapping pics.
"It's just ice cream. What's the big deal?"

However, Dr. D LOOOOOOOVES the attention.

"Really, Mom? Like, seriously, Mom?" 

He really gets into his "Death by Chocolate."

I think this might be her very first ice cream cone.
And it certainly won't be her last.

If you want to learn more about Sunday Snapshots,
even if it is only occasionally, head over here to link up.
Leave me a comment if you do and I'll be sure to come visit you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tweaking Again

One of my goals in raising our five (so far) little Gang members is that they be strong, confident, independent adults who can take responsibility for themselves and the environment in which God has planted them.  I have a pretty focused, intentional plan for how I train that into them.  Not that my plans are perfect, nor are they always as successful as I'd planned for them to be. (I hate it when THAT happens!)  I'm not a big fan of tweaking a schedule or routine, in my own fleshly (sometimes rigid!) nature, but having five kids of incredibly diverse temperaments and learning styles is curing me of THAT darned quick.

A super great tool I've found for teaching my kids to be responsible and independent is to give them chores.  That's right. My kids work. Our chore chart has morphed considerably since we added our Li'l Empress to our home. And given that she's going to be three this summer, I daresay that it will morph again soon. She's certainly going to be quite capable very soon of handling small, guided tasks. And truthfully, she's never happier than when she thinks she is "hepping" Shaggy with one of his jobs or doing a big girl task for me.  Whether she's actually being of true help is something Shaggy is struggling with - he's super focused and of the "just get it done and over with" mentality, so when she slows him down, he's learning a ton about patience and team work.  NOT that I'd tell him that . . . he'll learn it so much better if I just keep my yap zipped!

Our chores have taken on a myriad of methods over the years, and since we began schooling the older two boys at home the chores have been tweaked even further. I've read a couple of blogs lately that have requested suggestions and tips for further organization in their homes with routine and chores and structure, so this post has been swirling in my head for a couple weeks. I check in on several websites semi-regularly for additional tips on increasing my efficiency and our "team work" mentality.  I even belong to a forum in which streamlining our homes, "stocking up," and shopping habits has been a hot topic of late.  And given my bent toward administrative thinking and organizational planning, it's kinda always on my mind. 

I'm pretty happy with our current system, in which the chores are posted in each kid's column for a week. They have from Monday morning till Saturday morning to complete them. We recently had to tweak dish duty, and  somehow Baby Blue Eyes has gotten off scott-free in that area, again. I'm going to tweak that oversight as soon as school lets out for the summer. It was on an "as requested basis" but  now that the two older boys are home and contributing to a larger dirty dish pile for their "home-schooling gourmet lunches" (Shaggy's favorite part of home-schooling!) I just gave them a whole day to handle as assigned.

I try to take the long view when it comes to parenting my kids in this area.  I know that THEY don't see how sweeping and Sw!ffering the kitchen once a week will make them model citizens. But I do.  I get that they can't "get" how carrying their own loads of stinky dirty laundry down to the laundry room will form them into accountable, dependable employees. But I do.  I totally understand that they might NEVER (this side of their own household management in YEARS to come) connect that going to bed in a tidy, picked-up room will create in them a sense of stewarship and gratitude.  But I do.  I DO.  And at this point in the game, I'm  getting pretty immune to the disgruntled commentary that they sometimes try to indulge in under their breath.  I say, "getting" because . . . I'm working on it. I'm still too reactionary for my taste in this particular area.

Admittedly, this big-picture point of view is much easier for me to adopt than it has been for The Boss. He's much better at living in the moment, catching the present and camping in it.  It takes both sides to make a marriage work, I get that. But in order to keep US out of the middle of all the messy relational STUFF that comes of assigning jobs and holding the Gang accountable to those assignments, we've had to change up some things about the chore chart.

NOW? If a job isn't completed on time (barring extenuating circumstances like illness , etc), the job gets carried into the next week by the slacker.  PLUS, that slacker has to do the job by dinner-time on Saturday.  

NOW? If a job is done poorly, that slacker has to re-do it, subject to an inspection. And believe me, inspections are only fun for the inspector. Me.  Yup. I let myself have fun with that part of parenting.  Sick and twisted, I know. But hey, we gotta get our kicks where we can, right? 

NOW? If The Boss notices a job on the chore chart that has not been "flipped over" (our method of indicating completion) by Saturday morning, he feels free and I daresay even compelled to track down the slacker and get the run-down on the excuses reasons why.  It keeps US out of the mix of consistently assigning tasks and allows us to focus on the follow-through. It takes some of the burden off of me, especially if I'm not the only one playing the heavy because the fact that a job is incomplete is right out in the open for everyone to see.

And the best thing great side benefit about our system and our practices?  Is that by Saturday lunch time, we have clean toilets, crunch-free floors, and dusted shelves. For a whole two or three hours, at least.

So, let's chat. What kind of things do you do in your home to create independence? How do you train your kids toward responsibility for themselves and their surroundings?  I want to hear some ideas - as long as I'm going to be "tweaking" again, I might as well get the brainstorm going!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Getting our verse on . . .
at the last track meet of the season

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big Boogies and Nose Picking

This is how my Monday morning started. Before Li'l Empress even sat up in her crib . . .

Momma:  Good Morning, Li'l Empress.  How are you feeling this morning?

(She's been fighting a nasty cold that took a turn
for the worse last night before bedtime.)

Li'l Empress:  Nee ti-choo.

Momma:  Okay. Here you go. Let's wipe your nose and get you up.

Li'l Empress:  Hat bid boodie. Nee Mommy pit node.

Yeah. Umm, big boogies and nose picking.

All before 8 a.m.

All before coffee.

Good times.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Happies. Or Not.

First, the happies.

Today is another Free Friday over at Baby be Blessed. This week, it's another gift certificate for any of their products. Don't tell Li'l Empress, but if I win this one, she's gettin' a sweet Maria doll for her third birthday in August. I got the verse all picked out and ready to go. I really am hopin' this is the week I win!

And now, the Not.

What do you get when you mix up a week of toddler whine and throw in two days of Li'l Empress' late-day fever?

Yes, I said a week. Of whine. Incessant, unending, unrelenting.

And then for kicks, toss it with Momma's lingering sinus head-ache and stir it all up with cloudy, humid, weather?

This is me. This is from the BEGINNING of the week of whine. It's not gotten better. I can't show you what it would look like today. It would not be pretty. Heck, this is not pretty. What today looks like would scare you all away. And this is NOT that kind of blog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If You Can't Say Something Nice. . .

Recently several folks whom I really love or admire have been experiencing nasty attacks of gossip and mean-spirited words.  I've also noticed what seems to be an upswing of nasty comments or hurtful interactions on some of my favorite blogs lately. I've even read several blogs and forums in which the participants are considering shutting down their sites or their part of the activities.  All because of hateful words that one or two folks can't seem to keep to themselves. I must be living with my head in the clouds or something, because I can.NOT. believe some of the things that folks feel free to say to, or about, others. I am shocked at the decidedly ugly things commenters write to bloggers.

I have to admit, it's been really hard for me to remain supportive and encouraging to my friends or loved ones without becoming bitter or angry at those who are causing such hurt. I'm a loyal person by nature. I'm also a fairly positive person.  I love and trust easily and (I hope!) freely. But when a friend is attacked, I get riled and  . . . if you go after a family member?  Well, fuggedaboudit.  Just. Step. Away. From. The. Angry. Momma.

However, in my own journey as a Christian woman, I've found that I must also maintain a constant state of alert to the criticism and judgments that I feel rising up within me. When a discussion becomes a debate, when comments become personal attacks and topics get "too close for comfort,"  I find myself fighting to rein in my own criticisms and disagreements. I have to try to edit myself in a more positive and constructive manner that will allow the conversation to continue and maybe even be productive. More often than not, I advise myself of the old adage "when you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." 

It's a constant battle, and likely more so for me because I love to talk. I love to share my thoughts. I'm not immune to the shock of reading something with which I strongly disagree. In fact, it has happened quite recently. I reacted in the privacy of my own home, ranted really. And then I sought counsel. I tempered my response and offered A. thought. Just one. Then I stopped. I just stopped. Because IF I had let myself really say all that my critical, judgmental self wanted to say, I'd have offended a sister in Christ. A believer who is muddling along, trying to find her way in a new situation, just like me. Just like you. Aren't we all trying to figure it out?!

When things get really heated and a conversation turns into a debate, I start to feel frantic, fighting the NEED to share my thoughts. To make my point and gain understanding. If that cannot happen, I usually shut down. Sometimes, I MAKE myself shut down to avoid crossing my own lines of temptation to unleash my barrage of anger, criticism, judgment or hurt. I disengage from the cycle. Hopefully, at this stage of my life, I'm disengaging earlier and pulling away with more wisdom and discernment than in earlier years. Hopefully, I've learned SOMETHING about the power of my tongue (or my words and my writing).
As I've been hearing the pain of my friends and loved ones, and reading the stories of bloggers who have felt attacked or misunderstood, I've been grieved. My heart has ached for the pain inflicted. But a sense of anger and frustration has also lingered. I am angry at the way we conduct ourselves in our various communities. I have asked myself countless times what I can be and should be doing differently. In my personal relationships. In my blogging interactions. Normally, I completely avoid talking about controversial subjects here on this blog.  I just couldn't avoid this particular frustration any longer.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly idealistic and naive, I want to ask, "Why can't we all just get along?"  Can we at least try to change our own reactions? Temper how we connect with each other? Respect that we come at these conversations and experiences from different angles? That we might actually be able to learn from another if we can keep our tongues leashed long enough to really listen? We instead often sound like discordant, clanging cymbals that make unbearable noise. Our words, written or spoken, can create chaos in the ears and the mind and the heart.

As a Christian, I believe that the Creator made us all with unique talents and gifts. That these talents and gifts combine with our life experiences to be used to honor God. To be used to show the world around us a better way to live. To be used to show someone the beauty, the freedom, and the redemption of becoming "like Christ."  If we allow ourselves to be used as instruments in HIS HANDS, if we work harder at speaking with restraint and with love, we can be a beautiful masterpiece that blends together to make a symphony.  We can let our voices be heard in a harmony, that encourages one another and lifts up the arms of those around us.

"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

~ St. Francis of Assisi  ~

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Happy Birthday, LadyBug!
You are a treasure to me and your dad.
We are so proud of how hard you work
and how big you love.
It is a privilege being your parents.
We love you!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I know, I know, it's a day late. But the wishes are no less meaningful to all my beautiful mother-friends who stop by here to visit . . .

What a weekend we had! It was cram-jam full to the brim with family and friends.  I'm sure yours was similar. . . Saturday, we had the classic dilemma of too many directions and not enough drivers to get them all there. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I am actually starting to feel excited at the prospect of Shaggy driving this coming fall. He had to be at a friend's house Saturday morning to help with fund-raiser yard sale, Dr. D had to be at the middle school early to head off for a day of regional relays, and Baby BlueEyes was scheduled to attend a birthday party. We headed out later to the relays with the girls and enjoyed the fun in the sun - and the wind! Dr. D bested his own personal record for long jump (again!) and tried the hurdle relay for the first time competitively.  I could hardly watch - hurdles of any kind are my LEAST favorite track events. But he stayed up and finished his leg of the race strong.

The events of the day ended on a big disappointment for him though. The 4x100 relay was shaping up to be very competitive until Dr. D handed off to the anchor runner, who'd been experiencing muscle pain all morning long. Two or three steps out of the hand-off and the anchor crashed to the track in pain. The team was DQ'd and their anchor had to be carted off the track by the medical team. Seems to be a hamstring injury. I felt bad for Dr. D, as I know he had really high hopes for this particular race. But he handled himself well and they all tried to be positive and accept that this is part of being a team player.

We got to enjoy some down-time here in the afternoon before my brother and all his lovely ladies came by for dinner. The down-time ended abruptly once everyone smelled the food and by the time we were all seated at the table, I could feel the evidence of the busy, hectic day in the air. We were all over-tired, hungry, and worn out.  Let's just say that it wasn't the most relaxing family dinner we've ever shared and leave it at that :) Bed time never looked so good!
Sunday was a quick trip up to my parents' home. We joined them in time for morning services and then we got dinner on the table for my mom. She's recovering nicely, and definitely has her sparkle back. The boys were a huge help in getting the meal on and off the table and all the cleaning up in between. And my dad kept us laughing with some of the jokes he keeps stashed for sermon openers. We exchanged gifts and got to enjoy dessert together before we had to hit the road again.  I'll post the recipe for the Orange Coconut Pound Cake that I made - Betty Crocker and her classics just never disappoint!

The Boss and my Gang gave me a new digital camera for Mother's Day - unfortunately, we don't have one single picture from the day to share yet! Between my new phone and my new camera, I have some technology schooling to tackle.  But the benefit is that you will all get to see my little Gang members in sharp, crisp, clarity now :)  I'll do my best to NOT turn this into a photo blog of my beautiful children while I learn all the tricks and tools my new camera boasts . . . the temptation will be great but I'll be strong and try to share sparingly!

The icing on the cake for me was a quick visit from my friend K and her two lovely girls. They came in for a consultation at CHOP and spent the night here to catch up and get our girl-talk in. The kids all get along so nicely and our friendship has become such a treasure to me. They just hit the road now, hoping to beat the morning traffic and I already am looking forward to the next time we can visit. Hopefully, this summer will be a chance for some nice long talks by the pool while the kids cavort!

Another Monday has begun . . . another week to be the Momma to these five.  I certainly hope that you are all facing this new week with the same joy and gratitude that I feel. The blessing and honor of motherhood is a gift that I don't accept lightly. Weekends like this, spent together with my family, remind me that the charge of my life is a holy calling - even if it feels hectic and crazy for hours at a stretch. And I'm a grateful Momma, to be called to this Gang!

Friday, May 7, 2010

May Is National Foster Care Month

This is perhaps the best news story I've seen this week, commemorating National Foster Care Month. Grab a tissue.

"Once our eyes are opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." ~ Proverbs 24:12

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Goin' Gangsta

This is what happens when I send Dr. D upstairs
to clean off his dresser and tidy up his room.

Yes, those are "gold teeth."

I have no other words.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This Is A MUST Read

Okay, so in recent months, I've alluded to my little crush on Tonggu Momma. But yesterday, she wrote a new post that has catapulted my little crush into full-out, heavy duty crushing.

Umm, Miss Stefanie?  Could you scoot-ch over just a smidge?  Would you mind making some room on that bloggy-adoptive momma-celebrity stool for Tonggu Momma? (I'm pretty sure you're gonna be okay with sharing, cuz I know that's the kinda gal you are. . . )

Go. Read. Share your thoughts over there - cuz, I promise you, this one will make you think. Pass it on - it's that good.

*Edited to add: Don't stop at this post. Go ahead and read Swimming in Cluelessness. And stay tuned for the "part two" of it coming tomorrow . . . Really. They're totally noteworthy . . . .

Monday, May 3, 2010

Following A Dream

I have a friend. He's an amazing man. Devoted to his God. Deeply in love with his wife. Passionate about his five kids. Loyal and generous to his friends. Committed to his country. Soo committed to his country.

Today, this friend leaves on an adventure of a lifetime.  This adventure is the culmination of years of seeking God for a dream, and following after that dream as God revealed it step-by-step. Today, this friend leaves to serve our country as a Chaplain for the VA Army Reserves. Today, this friend embarks on a holy mission to support and encourage and serve the men and women in his unit while they serve the mission of freedom in Afghanistan.

My heart is far too full to say much else about this man. Much too overwhelmed to tell you more about his beautiful, loving, rock-steady wife.  Too choked up to tell you about his amazing kids.

But I can tell you this. To me, they are all heroes. They are all serving US.  They are all representing US in the most honorable way possible. And I am more grateful and more humbled by their selfless sacrifice of this year of their lives than I can say.

Please, will you remember this family in your prayers?
And if you are blessed to be able to call them your friends,
will you please let them know that you love them
and that you are grateful for what they are
ALL doing for our nation this year?

Here is a link to his blog,
not likely to be regularly updated
given the nature of his mission.
But you might be able to peek into
his heart and mind occasionally.