Thursday, August 28, 2008


I'm so grateful that I decided to attend the 11:00 service at my old church when I was visiting last weekend. I wouldn't have wanted to miss THIS announcement! ha, ha

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We joined a church!

Yep, after only 2 visits to the weekend services, we signed up for a class to find out more about the church. We have been around the block a few times with finding a church and we know exactly what we are looking for... so we didn't waste any time! We have always been able to "know" if it is the church for us after we hear about the history, beliefs and philosophy of the church. Last night, we attended the 101 class just to find out more about the church. Before we went, we didn't even know if the church had a denomination or not or really what any of the beliefs were (other than those posted on the website). We knew that we liked the style of worship and that the preaching was good (we have heard 2 different preachers) and that the information on the website looked and sounded good.

By the end of the class last night, there was no doubt in either of our minds that this is the church we are looking to call "home". The class was led by the senior pastor, so afterwards, I took the opportunity to ask him some "insider" questions (since I've worked for a church before)... and we were thrilled with the answers! We truly believe that God is calling us to this church - I'm just amazed that we found it so quickly!! I'm looking forward to joining a small group, serving and meeting our new "family" members. I know that nothing can replace our church in Texas, nor our church family... no church will ever be the same, but I'm hoping the new can be just as good in time.

My package arrived!

My package arrived!!

I am now holding my airline tickets in my hand!! Yippee!!

I feel so much better now...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Frustration Resolved, I hope!

Read background story in "Frustration" first...

I finally got to speak to the apartment complex manager and she graciously agreed to send the tickets to me overnight. When I asked her how much I owe her, she told me not to worry about it at all. She will be receiving the largest thank you card EVER! Wow! After dealing with red tape and people skirting responsibility all day, I was so grateful to get ahold of someone with both a heart and the authority to do something outside of "normal policy" to help someone. I will rest easy when the tickets arrive tomorrow.


When I booked a flight to return to Dallas, the reservation company sent my paper airline tickets to the wrong address. The wrong address is an apartment complex that signed for the package, even though I don't live there. The airline will not allow me on the plane without a ticket, because they are small-time and do not offer e-ticketing. The company I reserved the flight with will not re-issue the ticket because the package was signed for. The apartment complex will not send me the tickets unless I pay for it. Fed Ex will not allow me to pay for express shipment with my credit card, unless I pay for it at the time of pick up (which I cannot do because I am 15 hours away) because I am not the original shipper - I am the recipient. The reservation company will not arrange for the tickets to be fed exed from the apartment complex to my current address, because the package was already signed for. My flight is non-refundable, so if I cancel the flight, I will get no money back. If I book another flight (the exact one again), I will have to pay nearly double the original flight cost, plus pay extra to have the tickets overnighted to me.

This is a comedy of errors to the extreme... and I'm extremely frustrated!!! I've been on the phone for 1 1/2 hours so far, with the airline, reservation company, fed ex and the apartment complex.

I'm supposed to leave Saturday at 2 p.m. and it is now Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

State Park Round 2

We re-visited Audubon State Park today. Last weekend, we were able to paddle boat & take a stroll around the lake, but did not hike on the many trails. So, we returned this week to attend the "Turtle Trek" event and hike. At the turtle event, the park ranger educated everyone about types of turtles, passed around empty turtle shells and displayed both a box turtle and a red-eared slider. It was interesting, since we used to own turtles. When it was time for the hike to view turtles in their habitats, we realized the trail they were hiking on was the only one in the park that we have already been on. So, we parted ways & hiked in a different section of the park. We chose the longest trail & hiked for over 2 hours - approximately 2.5 miles total. When we were finished, we were exhausted!

Franklin looking inside an empty turtle shell:

Tommie & the boys looking out over "Wilderness Lake".How many rings can you count?

Franklin looking at me through a long empty log.With all of the many large hills in the woods, we took any opportunity to rest! The boys loved the giant "Tarzan" vines & had fun swinging on them. Truman found a leaf that was heart shaped.
We were certainly not alone in the woods. We found tadpoles, turtles, birds, daddy longlegs spiders, giant spider webs, huge mushrooms growing out of the sides of trees, empty seceda shells & on the final 1/2 mile, we even found a snake slithering across our path - eeeewww!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quotes from a 2nd Grader's Bedtime Prayer

"Thank you, God, for the girls that chase me around at recess.
Please help me run fast, so I can get away from them!"

Getting Desperate...

I guess I'm officially desperate for new friends. Today, I met this nice lady at the McDonald's play area that had a son about Truman's age. She mentioned that she had just moved to the area from about 3 hours away. She seemed really nice, so I gave her my phone number. I felt like I was asking her out or something!! ha, ha It's so awkward and strange to meet someone new & try to strike up a friendship. I can honestly say that I've never handed out my phone number to a perfect stranger before, but I can also honestly say that I hope she calls! They live one neighborhood over from our new one and her son is in afternoon kindergarten at our elementary school. I'm hoping that this is the beginning of a friendship - Lord knows I need one! We've lived here one month and two days now & I'm starting to talk a little bit too long to the cashiers at the check out lane... knowwhaddamean?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

1st Day of Kindergarten & Changes

Yesterday was Truman's first day of Kindergarten. He had a great time & met a new friend in his class. Today, we got a note home stating that they opened a new morning kindergarten class & that Truman has been selected to be in it!!! Yippee!! Not only does that solve the problem of naptime, but he will no longer have a class of 25 kids. Tomorrow, he reports to his new classroom. Praise God for small miracles! Here's the big man on his first day of school:

Monday, August 11, 2008

1st Day of School

3rd Grade

2nd Grade

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Last Minute Shopping

We went to Wal-Mart to get the last few school supplies that have eluded us so far. I've been stocking up on essentials during the 1 cent & 10 cent sales over the past month. However, we were lacking a few essentials - folders with pockets and prongs, kleenex (never went on sale) and "classic" markers (we accidentally bought "bold"). I decided that since we were making a trip to Wal-Mart anyway, we would simply pick up some groceries too. Here's a tip for all of the shoppers out there... NEVER, EVER go shopping for school supplies OR groceries the day before school starts!! It was a madhouse and they were out of any sort of school supply that would show up on a normal list - folders, markers, etc. Our trip was nearly unsuccessful. We managed to grab a couple of plastic folders (purple was the only color left!) and some generic kleenex boxes, along with enough groceries to get us through breakfast & packing lunches. I'll go back tomorrow when the boys are in school to do the rest of the shopping...

School starts TOMORROW! The big boys have school all day and Truman has Kindergarten Orientation at 1:00 p.m. His first day of school is Tuesday. I cannot believe that my days of being a mother of preschoolers has officially ended...

Saturday Outing

Yesterday, we visited the Audubon State Park in Henderson, Kentucky (about 10 minutes from our apartment). It was a beautiful day - a little hot in the sun, but not bad! We found a small, recreational lake that we proceeded to hike completely around on trails, then we rented paddle boats for an hour and explored the lake from the water's surface. As a family, we really enjoy the outdoors - hiking, canoeing, camping, geocaching... If it involves the outdoors & nature, we love it! We made the mistake of not packing our GPS, so we'll have to wait until September when the moving truck arrives to be able to explore our new area while geocaching. We are within a 30 minute drive of 2 Indiana state parks and 2 Kentucky state parks. We are situated approximately 3 hours from Indianapolis, St. Louis and Nashville -so there will be plenty of outdoor areas to explore. Southern Illinois and Kentucky are gorgeous in the fall. I cannot wait!!
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Friday, August 8, 2008

Foto Friday

Max chillin' out after I trimmed his nails...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Interesting Find!

I looked up the builder who built our new house 5 years ago and found a floorplan that is almost exactly like ours. Our house is the mirror image of this and our laundry is in the lower floor area marked "storage". Upstairs where the laundry room is on the floorplan is just extended closet space for both bedrooms in our house. The bedroom closets are huge. Right now, I'm trying to decide what to do about the kitchen & lack of dining space. With the back door and staircase going straight into the kitchen, it doesn't leave much room for a large table. Our current kitchen table barely seats the 5 of us, let alone when we have guests. We have a dining room table that can extend to seat 12, however, the floorplan does not have a "dining room". Also, note that there is no pantry due to the laundry room being in the "storage" area. Anyway... details, details! I want to have it all planned out before the movers bring our furniture, so we don't have to lug everything around the house ourselves later.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Free Time"

We are enjoying our last few days of summer before the boys start school. School begins one week from tomorrow! Here's how we spent our afternoon & evening...

We drove by our new house, then stopped at the boys' new elementary school to run 1/4 mile on the track...
Then, we took McD's hamburgers along with the rest of the picnic dinner that I packed to the local park. (We've been eating sandwiches every day, so this was a good alternative sandwich.) We brought the puppies along to wear them out too!

On the way home, Lucky threw up (no photos of that), so I gave both of the puppies baths - using the hose on the side of the apartment building. Fortunately for me, the side of the building that contains the hose is the side that faces the entry to the apartment complex, so we had quite a few people drive by slowly. There are 26 buildings in the complex, approximately 12 apartments per building, 45 minutes of dog washing and only one entrance to the complex - you do the math! You know, if you are going to bathe pukey puppies in the great outdoors, there's nothing like having an audience! The puppies are nearly 6 months old and I don't have a single bath picture yet. Something about having two dogs, wet dog smell, shaking water and cameras do not go well together... I can tell you that they weren't having nearly this much fun...

So I rewarded myself with a little home decor reading time when the boys went to bed. I got this book from the library and LOVE it. I wonder if I "forgot" to return it, how much they would charge my account! (just kidding!!)

#4 Down, ? To Go

We visited our 4th new church this morning. Each of them has had good points & bad points, but this one was the best so far. We've come up with a new rating system for churches - on a scale of 1 - 10. A rating of 10 is equivalent to Hillsong United or heaven. A 9.5 is equivalent to the Michael W. Smith/Third Day Worship Tour. Our previous church lands at about an 8 or 8.5.

Church #1 - 5
Church #2 - 4
Church #3 - 5
Church #4 - 6

Tommie & I agree (amazingly, since we hardly agree on anything else!) on what kind of a church we are looking for. Tommie grew up Baptist and I grew up in a non-denominational church that was very charismatic/pentecostal. We met at a "Christian" denomination student ministry that had a huge mix of kids from various denominations. Upon getting married, we quickly realized that we would be happy somewhere where I can raise my hands & clap and he can stand and sing - neither of us feeling pressure to do or not do either. We have been involved in different denominations each time we have moved - first, a "Christian" denomination, then an "Evangelical Mennonite" and finally a "Formerly Baptist?/Non-Denominational". I personally don't care for denominational titles and regulations, but we are not set for or against attending a church with a denomination.

Here are some of the qualities we do desire: friendliness, warm & welcoming, good children's programs, energetic & heartfelt worship, sermon with solid scriptural basis and some life application. Ultimately, we are looking for deep friendships & accountability. A place where we can love & be loved. Know & be known. (To use one of Pastor John's old phrases!)

The first step to sizing up a new church is the website. Whenever I hear about a new church, I look at the website. The lack of website tells us that the church is either REALLY small or REALLY lame. A website with graphics from 1980 or the only church event photos are from a hoedown do not speak great things about the church. Knowhaddamean? You can tell a lot about a church from it's website. Most churches list their beliefs, church history, current activities, information about the services and how to get there, etc. One of the key things that I look for on the website are the staff photos. What is the average staff age? Do the pastors have trendy haircuts or are they all wearing suits? The main thing that will cause me to scratch the church off of the list of potential churches before walking in the door are graphics from 1980 or beliefs that we do not agree with. We have personally experienced the fact (one week ago) that trendy pastoral haircuts DO NOT mean the rest of the church is trendy! It must mean that they both go to the same stylist.

The second step to sizing up a new church is to visit. At our old church, I was intimately involved in the First Impressions/Newcomer's Ministry. I had no idea that we were on the cutting edge of guest relations. I am overly critical of other churches when it comes to this area, because I have a lot of knowledge and experience on how to make a first time guest have a good experience. So far, 2 of the 4 churches have done a really cruddy job at first impressions. I'm thinking of offering my services as a consultant to help them get their act together! Sorry - I know that sounded cocky... I just think that the people running most churches have completely forgotten what it is like to be a first time guest.

For some reason, the biggest obstacle we are running into at churches in this area is the style of worship. Each of the four have been solid Bible-teaching churches with decent children's programs and sermons that include both scripture & life application. After visiting each church, we have both had the same reaction - "well, I guess we could attend that one, if we don't find anything better." The problem is that the worship is LAME. Today's church was the most promising so far. The worship leader was actually holding an ELECTRIC guitar. He barely used it, but still. I am not against hymns or praise songs from 1991, but I prefer a church that seeks to worship God with a style that is heartfelt & transparent. One where you could raise your hands, clap or cry out to God without others thinking you are off of your meds. Or one where the worship leader has actually listened to praise & worship songs that have come out in the past 5 years. (By the way, I have been to several churches that sang hymns in a heartfelt, meaningful way -- not lame.)

We will keep searching and seeking... We know that no church is perfect. We are blessed to live in an area with an abundance of churches to choose from... we just haven't found our home yet.