I was once attacked by wild dogs

When I was growing up it seemed like we spent a lot of time hanging out at my mom's parents farm in Old Fort Ohio. My sister and our three boy cousins (the only cousins on my moms side) decided to go out and play one day. I had previously been warned that there were wild dogs roaming their property, and that they had a particular fondness for the youngest girl child in any human family. I was told by my grandparents not to wander more than 11 feet from the house alone, or I would be attacked, killed, and eaten by these wild dogs. (No seriously, I was told that.) But I wasn't alone, I had Sharen and the boys with me, so I would be ok.
The 4 of us decided to walk down the farm lane to where my dad was chopping wood for the wood burning stove at our house. I was just excited because they let me hang out with them without being made to stand against the barn while they tried to hit me with dodge balls!

It was a bright and sunny day, it had to be the fall because the corn was so tall.
After meandering down the lane to my dad we hung out and talked for a little while. This may have been the time I got my foot stuck in a woodchuck hole and almost bitten off, but I'm not sure that actually happened either.
It was starting to get late, close to supper time, so we started back down the lane. Dad said he'd be in shortly. On the way back the corn rustled a lot and I looked over just in time to see a pack of wild dogs leap out at us.
We all took off running, but I kept falling behind. One of my cousins turned around and snagged me out of the snapping jaws of the meanest looking dog. He slung me over his shoulder and we all raced up onto the porch and into the sun porch just as the dogs jumped in for the kill. My grandparents were in the sun porch and we told them all about what just happened.
I knew then and there that my grandparents were telling the truth, I should never wander more than 11 feet from the house alone. I would surely be killed.

Years later, I was probably 16 because I had driven myself there, I was sitting with my grandparents and reminiscing about time spent on the farm when I was a little girl. I said, "remember that time Sharen, the boys and I were attacked by the wild dogs?". They said, "No" I told them the story above and reminded them they were on the sun porch and we told you all about it. "Boy Cousin A saved me!" I cried.
They told me it never happened, that the wild dogs never came that close to the house and we were certainly never attacked by them. Mom's mom said the only time a dog attacked someone was back by the pond when Mom's dad was back there with fish out. The dog was after the fish, not the person.
A few holidays after this the grandparents moved in with mom's sister. The boy cousins, Sharen and I were all sitting in their coat room eating dinner and I asked boy cousin A about it. I told the whole story and they just laughed, they said that never happened.

Apparently, it was all just a dream. How very Dorothy Gale of me.


Cancun Day 4: Wednesday; Part 3

Well, let's finish this series up already!
Here's part 1 and 2 of Day 4. You can click on the Cancun label to see the rest of the day.

After we bought some stuff from Elizabeth and her mom it was time to split up on our own for about an hour. Nicole and I headed out to this other area where there was an observatory. It's the only circular building at Chitzen Itza.
Here's Nicole and I standing in front of it:

The door you see on the side is positioned perfectly (of course) so that when the summer and winter solstice occurred the rays from the sun would line up and confirm that it was happening. It could have told them other things, but I don't remember. I was transfixed by the grandness of these architectural feats.

We also saw other things like this, which I thought just looked like a face. Other than that I have no idea what it is:

We also saw a nunnery:

After our time on our own we were off to lunch. We piled back on the bus and drove just a few miles to a park area that held the sink hole. There were quite a few sink holes around because of the area being mainly limestone. As the underwater springs run through it would erode the earth from underneath until eventually the land would collapse. Here's the sink hole we went to:

Those are not waterfalls, they are tree roots that are falling down into the water. Nicole and I walked down the stairs and dipped out toes into the cold water. There were fish swimming around, they freaked me out. This sink hole was hundreds of feet below the surface and another several hundred feet of water. Here's the view from the bottom of the sink hole:

After hightailing it back to the bus we rode the 3 hours back home. I watched (but could only sometimes hear) 8 pounds with Will Smith on the bus and pissed Nicole off when I guessed what the main point of the movie was and how the title came about after only 1/4 of the movie and hearing only 1/2 the words. :)

That night we had a terrible dinner at the other a la cart restaurant. I ordered BBQ chicken, and it was pretty much just chicken with warm ketchup on it. So we took a detour to the buffet on the way to the room and collapsed into bed. It was a long day. As you know since it took me 3 posts and a rant about just one day.

Day 5 coming soon! (Like you're really holding your breath :) )



I would like to apologize in advance to Katy, Katie and 85% of the female population out there. I would also like to state that I am only about halfway through New Moon, so I don't know how it ends. (But yes Katy and Katie I will probably finish all four just so my dislike can be well informed loathing.)
I was talking to Erin and Craig at church today about the movie and just was reminded again about how creeped out I am by the concept. There are lines in there like, "You're my life now" and "The lion falls in love with the lamb" CREEPY. A vampire creeps into her room at night and watches her sleep. He wants to DRINK her blood. Bella is in love with someone, that for all intents and purposes wants to murder her. MURDER. Oh sure, he doesn't (so far). Sure, he restrains himself. How big of him. How kind.
Are we really this obsessed with a series of books that glorifies such relationships? Ok, it's fiction I get it, I really get it. I promise.
I get that these books are probably no different than the song on the radio and the Lifetime movie of the week. But it's just so intense, so obsessive and completely wrapped up in another person. It makes me feel sad and bad thinking about it.

I had obsessive, all encompassing, angst riddled relationships when I was a teenager (and into my early 20s) and it is awful. It isn't romantic, it's awful. The ripple effects are just now subsiding. It's still affecting my relationships to date, not just the romantical kind.
It just seems so unhealthy to be so enraptured, so wrapped up and have your identity so deeply tangled with someone elses. Because people are flawed, they are damaged and they leave. People make mistakes and people will let you know, make you angry and upset you. What then?
Where does that leave your identity then?
Nowhere. It leaves you empty. Void of anything but desperation and longing for a death that will silence the ache that has invaded every inch of your person.

It's just to familiar to me to truly enjoy. Well, other than the whole vampire thing of course.
The plot is ok, the writing is compelling (especially now that I've gotten to New Moon, which I think it much better from a literary standpoint than Twilight) but the emotions it's reminding me of are scary and it makes me nervous for the flocks of girls that see this as an ideal relationship. Love is not pain, it should not hurt. It's hard, it's a lot of work, but it isn't endless depths of desperation and depression covered in sobs and wails.

So while I can appreciate the Twilight series to a degree as a 29 year old, it makes me very uncomfortable for all the teens that are falling in love with a murderous man that walks a fine line of not killing the one he proclaims to love.


100 Other Lovers

I've been thinking about lovers lately. Not really lovers, like bowchickawowow lovers, but lovers like the relational analogy of Christ to the Church. We're to be the bride of Christ personally and corporately. For examples see here and here.
I listened to Jealous Kind by Jars of Clay tonight, and was thinking about how many lovers I've lined up. Not just the bowchickawowow lovers, but all those lovers that are idols, things that replace God in my life. I was thinking about all those things that I will try to turn to before I turn to God, all those things I try to manipulate and dance around to get the results I think are best instead of just submitting to God and being obedient.
I fight and fight, wondering time and time again why I'm running in place, drowning in confusion and hopelessness.
i built another temple to a stranger
i gave away my heart to the rushing wind
i set my course to run right into danger
i sought the company of fools instead of friends
I wonder why I can't hear God clearly, and then realize that my conversations with him are nonexistent. I wonder why I can't see him moving, until I realize that my eyes are tightly shut. I give piece after piece of my heart away, until I've lost track of where all the pieces have gone.
tryin' to jump away from rock that keeps on spreading
for solace in the shift of the sinking sand
i'd rather feel the pain all too familiar
than be broken by a lover i don't understand
'cause i don't understand
I try to avoid loneliness by being busy, not seeing the pattern that my almost manic need to be busy and running running running is an indication that I really need to be alone. How many times do I need to be smacked across the face with the realization that the only thing I seem to be running from is God himself.
Because I can exist within the pain of all these other lovers worlds. I can grasp and understand that people leave, that people (like me) are flawed and damaged which translates to a fractured and not ideal relationship. I can see that material possessions will disintegrate and fall away and that TV programs are not real life.
Yet, these are the things I pursue. Because they are easier than allowing myself to be broken by the Lover I was born to be in relationship with. Because I don't understand that Lover. I don't understand his jealousy, I don't understand his pure and righteous nature. I don't understand the grandness, perfection, and holiness that is contained within Him. It's easier to just pursue the half-lovers. Those people and things that are just available and alluring enough to seduce me away from my true Lover.
one hundred other lovers, more, one hundred other altars
if i should slow my pace and finally subject me to grace
and love that shames the wise
betrays the hearts deceit and lies
and breaks the back of foolish pride
It is breaking me. This call I'm hearing and feeling. This call that's speaking to me in a full force scream at this point. This call that's beating me about the head and face asking me why. Why are you chasing these other lovers? Why are you throwing yourself after things that are empty and useless? Why are you building your future in the sand instead of on the Rock? It started this year, in slowing my pace. In intentionally dialing it back and being still. In spurts and false starts I've become still, or at least more still than before. The stillness is causing the other lovers and alters to corrode and show what is under their shiny surfaces. I'm left naked, exposed, broken of my foolish pride. I'm starting to understand more the language of fear and trembling that I read about. Because I am afraid and I am trembling. But not of a mean Lover, I'm not afraid because He is so terrible and spiteful. But because He is so big. So perfect. So awesome. I'm afraid and trembling because I am in awe that such a Lover would love me so.


Cancun Day 4: Wednesday; The Rant

I mentioned here and here that I had a rant about Day 4 in Cancun. We were visiting Chitzen Itza which were the closest Mayan Ruins to Cancun. They had made the area into a national park of sorts, to help regulate what happened on, in, near the ruins and what was removed from the area. Apparently that sort of thing was unregulated until the 1970s and so much of the very little that was left of the Mayan history was removed and scattered to the wind.
Nicole and I were in a little tour group through Apple Vacations, and there were 14 of us all together.
We get to the ruins and start walking down the pathways to the main temple (and can I tell you how majestic it seemed to walk through the trees and through the breaks see the temple growing larger and larger as we approached? It was so great.). All along the paths there were groups of people with merchandise spread all over blankets, tables, tarps etc. They would occasionally shout things out like "Cheaper than Walmart!" "Cheaper than that guy over there!" Their product was nice, but now was not the time to shop, it was tour time. We all most ignored them or admired as we kept walking past.
Later in the tour Roberto our tour guide let us know that while what they were selling was nice, much of it had little to do with actual Mayan tradition. He said that while they would carve things, they carved in limestone and not wood. He told a story about a woman that bought a fertility goddess and brought it back to the bus so excited about her find. Roberto had to tell her that there was no fertility goddess in Mayan culture. So he told us to just be careful and remember that not all the stories they tell us are true.
It all honestly seemed like common sense for buying things to me.

That was all it took for a few of the guys in our group. They began to be outright hostile towards the people selling things. Instead of just ignoring them or not engaging them these guys started smarting off. Telling the "cheaper than Walmart" guys that they liked Walmart and at least people at Walmart knew what it was to work. They commented loudly for the clearly English speaking locals to hear that they didn't understand how Mexicans could be so lazy, and why didn't they just get a real job. They also talked about what a waste of time it was for these people to spend hours carving intricate masks and totems to sell for $1 US on the side of a dirt pathway.
Seriously? I mean really? Are people honestly still that ignorant? I mean I probably already knew that but I was so mad. I was SO MAD.
Who the hell do people think they are? Yep, the economy may be crap and there might not be jobs in your industry but there are jobs that you think are beneath you and you would rather starve than take them. Yep, it could be annoying and overstimulating when people would be trying to get you into their "shops" to look at their items. But seriously!?
The drug war is alive and well in Mexico, especially in the Yucatan area. Yet these people are trying to earn honest wages. Not so they can upgrade their iPhone or get a Wii or even to buy the latest Louis Vitton (no idea how to spell that) purse. They are doing all of this so they can eat, feed their families (a lot of them that includes not just their kids but their extended family as well)
Would you PREFER that they are in the drug trade, or in gangs, or *gasp* travelling to America illegally so you can bitch about them there too? Did your mother never teach you that if you have nothing nice to say then just shut up?

I am apathetic at best about the all American way that I so take for granted. Please tell me what a horrible person I am because of that. But I can not stand when the same people that bitch about people living in America not speaking English go to foreign countries and bitch that people don't speak English there!
The worst part, the really worst part for me was knowing that these perfectly nice people trying to make a living heard what they were saying and I saw several of them retreat in shame. There was shame alright, but it was the shame I felt on behalf of these guys.
Everyone is worth something. EVERYONE. No one is worthless in the eyes of God and who exactly do we think we are when we deem someone worthless. Have we decided that we in fact know better than God?

Everything you do and say either lifts people up or tears them down. Everything. Which will you do today?


When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all
at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time-the way the mail stops coming,
and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and
drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone.
Just when the day comes-when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms
you with the feeling that she's gone, forever-there comes another day, and
another specifically missing part.

-Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving


Cancun Day 4: Wednesday; Part 2

Part 1

Since we were with a smaller tour group we were able to go into some tighter areas of the ruins. They have closed the ability to walk up all 91 stairs of the big temple, which is good...it helped me from looking like a chicken. But we were able to walk up about 9 steps shaped the same as the tall one. They are not natural steps. They are narrow and steep. It wasn't so bad going up, but coming down you had to step down sideways and put your feet in front of each other. By the third step down I was leaning hard into the stairs above me. But I did it! Here's a picture of the steps, if you can tell anything by it.

At the top of the stairs was a market area and a pool. A pool! I couldn't help imagining Mayans swimming and frolicking around after hauling all that limestone around. Of course, the pool was empty so I didn't get to swim...there.

As I said in Part 1 we were told that a lot of the people selling things around us weren't selling things that were an active part of the ancient Mayan tradition. But as we were walking back to the main area, where we would split into our own groups and have some free time, this little girl sidled up to our group:

This is Elizabeth. Roberto, our Apple Tour guide said that a few months ago her mother approached him and asked if he would recommend that his tour groups purchase items from her family. They make embroidered handkerchiefs, dresses; like the one Elizabeth is wearing, blouses and dresses for grown ups. He said that this is something the Mayans would do, and continue to do today. Roberto also said that many families will bring their kids to where they sell goods at to help them earn money. But, when they do that the kids aren't able to go to school and education plays a pivotal role in these families rising up out of poverty. So Roberto told Elizabeth's mom that he would recommend that people buy from them, but only if she promised him something. That next year, when Elizabeth was 5, he would never see her at Chitzen Itza during the week. This way, as best as he was able, he would ensure that Elizabeth was in school.
She was so cute. SO cute!

Sorry to keep you on the edges of your seats again (pete), but I'm exhausted. So part 3, maybe part 4 and the rant will have to wait until another day. I'm aiming to get up early tomorrow to pick up some crayons.

I have learned

I am a fairly disorganized person, personally speaking.
At work and in leading outreach I am organized within an inch of my life. I (almost always) hit goals and meet/exceed expectations. I'm beginning to feel proud of those facts.
But personally speaking, I sort of suck at life.
We were talking in our last meeting with Ben about our strengths as decided by Strengths Finder online test. I was mentioning this fact when Jill, Ben's wife and all around lady extraordinaire, pointed out that my 5 strengths added up to me being very relationally driven and the issue might be that no one is 'driving' me to be organized personally.
I don't have someone that I have to account for my spending, saving (or lack thereof), bill paying habits to. I just traipse along and more often then not bury my head in the sand.

At this very moment, I couldn't tell you accurately how much several of my monthly bills are. Does that matter? Probably not, assuming I make a gajillion dollars and don't have to worry about having the right amount of money in the right account at the right time of the month. It may also not matter if I had a budget (that I stuck to) and knew specifically how much 'play' room I had each pay period. But neither of those things apply to my bank account or my life.
Therefore, I'm thinking it matters a lot that I don't know these things.

I'm really not asking any of you (coughSharencough) to beat me over the head grilling me about my bills and financial organization. All that will accomplish is a feeling of panic that I have to fancy pants dance around the topic so that I don't look like a financial asshole.
I just wanted to say that I suck at it. So that people know; because when people know I will work really hard to not suck at something.


Cancun Day 4: Wednesday; Part 1

Up and at 'em bright and early Wednesday. Not that Nicole and I were sleeping in at all. We had a hot date with a tour bus that would take us to Chichen Itza, the Mayan Ruins closest to Cancun. After a quick breakfast we went to wait for the bus. Soon enough they rolled up and we hopped on. The first thing you really need to know about the bus is that Nicole and I are not small girls...so the two of us crunched into tiny seats was crazy! But thankfully it wasn't a full bus so she moved up a few seats and we were both able to spread out. The second thing you need to understand is that this bus was FREEEEEEZING. Not just cold, just just freezing, but FREEEEEEZING. The air was as cold as possible and the blower was as high as possible....apparently that was the only speed the blower worked on. I was wrapped in both Nicole and I's towels for the whole trip there. It was teeth chattering cold.
I enjoyed the scenery for awhile, but the bus was so cold and cold makes me so very sleepy. Especially all snuggled under big fluffy beach towels. So I napped. I probably slept about an hour. One of the best things that came out of my trips to Europe in high school was learning to sleep under any conditions, whenever you can.
Finally, we arrived! The Mayan Ruins were the ONLY thing that I really requested we do while in Mexico and I was so stoked.

Roberto was our Apple Vacation tour guide and he was so passionate and knowledgeable about the Mayan history. (It's like it was his job or something). I'll let you look up info through the link above mostly...this post will be long enough as it is.
To set up the next post I have to tell you there were people lining the pathways selling all sorts of hand carved items, jewelry and clothing. They were everywhere, and they were shouting out that their locations were "cheaper than Walmart". But I had a substantial soapbox moment..which is of course a post within itself.
But I digress.
Roberto took us around and showed us the main temples, he also showed us the "football" field. Where the Mayans would have 7 players, 6 on the field and 1 on a raised runway trying to throw a ball through these tiny rock holes all the way down the field to score a point.

See the terribly off center ring at the bottom right of the picture. That's what they would have to throw the ball through. It was sort of like football, but they had clubs and spears. The Mayans would build all of this out of limestone they mined and they also carved intricate designs and pictures into the limestone. All of this was like 3000 years ago or something. Isn't that amazing?
Here are some of their carvings:This is one of the players in the aforementioned games. Notice the club and the heavy armor.

This was some sort of location, platform maybe, that the warriors would congregate on before battle. There were 4 stairs for the 4 groups of warriors. They were represented by the Eagle, Jaguar, Snake, and something else that I can never remember. These are snakes.

You'll see that these carvings are of a Jaguar (on the left) and an Eagle (on the right). Locked in the talons/paws is a carving of the human heart. Roberto also said that the Mayans would paint all of these structures in vibrant blues, oranges, red. That, is just just insane to think about.

Well, I'm sleepy and I think this is going to be a 3 part post...not including the soap box post. SO you'll just have to stay tuned!

I had a dream

I had a dream last night. It's left me pretty unsettled this morning and scrambling to take control and try to work things out on my own. Which would be the exact opposite of the end result of the dream.

But I was at a party and not behaving. The party was outside on a suburban street with a random bridge over it. I was incredibly intoxicated, smoking, shouting insults, making out with random fellas and all sorts of debauchery. (Not to say that drinking and smoking are sins, but the effect they were having in the dream certainly led to that behaviour in me.)
I was holding a box of crayons, they were in a plastic box that you would send with a child to 1st grade or something. The crayons belonged to my nephew and I was supposed to take care of them and make sure they didn't get lost. Well, I set them down on the side of the bridge to make out with some guy, and they spilled. Then it started raining and the crayons started washing down the street into a sewer drain.
At this point I apparently passed out and woke up, alone, laying on some chaise lounge on the street. It wasn't raining anymore, but I had an umbrella with me. So I got up and started walking home. The wind suddenly picked up and kept pushing me back towards the bridge. But I leaned against the wind and just kept walking.
I heard a voice, which was very clearly in the dream God, telling me to go back and pick up the crayons. I scoffed, I mean I actually laughed out loud at Him, and advised God that they were just crayons. I could just go to the store and buy new ones, my nephew would never know the difference. The voice repeated, "Pick up the crayons." I repeated "NO".
Finally a gust of wind came and snapped the umbrella open. The wind grabbed the open umbrella, with me attached to it, and flung it back down the street to the bridge where the crayons had spilled.
The voice thundered, "PICK UP THE CRAYONS" and I immediately felt a heavy heavy weight on my shoulders that squeezed like a hand. It was pretty clear that it was God's hand.
I knelt down and began picking up the crayons.
I woke up abruptly. It was about 5 this morning and I sat up. I then heard a voice, very clearly, telling me that if I refuse to be obedient picking up the "crayons" than He will not give me opportunities to be obedient with larger things. The same voice then told me the parable of the talents .

This is messing me up today. I don't think that this is about money, I think it is about obedience in prayer and my intimate relationship with Christ. I asked Michelle to pray and press into me about my time in private prayer and worship of God, because while I do it I know that he is calling me to do it more regularly and intentionally. Not that I'm the end all be all of the everything, but there are issues that I see happening that I know are a direct result of my lack of face to the floor time with God and it kills me that it is my choice. I have heard him whispering this fact to me, I have been told this by other people, through sermons and random people on the street. Yet I argue, I advise God that it's not big deal and I'll just catch him later....we'll never notice the difference.
I don't want to leave this moment of tension I find myself in this morning. Because when/if I do I will rationalize and make excuses and just not do it. So my prayer this morning is to stay in the tension and continue to feel the heavy hand of God on my shoulders, squeezing and telling me to pick up the crayons.


Cancun Day 3: Tuesday

Because I had pretty much passed out (thank you mango margaritas and Corona) at 930ish I was wide awake and bushy tailed by 630 Tuesday. I tossed and turned until about 7 and decided to get up and go downstairs. I snapped a few pictures and noticed all the lounges were starting to fill up with place holding towels already so I scoped out a few empties and planted it.

Sun rise, I could totally get out of bed really early if this is what I will see!

Look at how blue that water is! I just can't believe how blue it is!

This is the view from our hotel room.
So started a day that consisted of mainly reading magazines, napping, rotating on the lounge, occasionally splashing around in the pool and ocean, and people watching. It was pretty amazing.
I'm serious. That is all we did until 4pm.
At that point we went upstairs and showered, took another nap, got dressed and went on a Pirate dinner cruise. Sort of like Medieval Times, but on a pirate ship. By the time we got there on the bus we had a few minutes to wander around and pose for pictures with the pirates and Davey Jones. Now, I'm an adult, and I realize there was another adult in the costume....but he totally freaked me out.
This is one of the boats in our armada (is that the right word?)

I told Matthew these were my friends Carrrrghl, Darrghl and Bob


There was music, dancing, pirates swinging through the air and sword fights. There was a lot of piratey stuff, but it was also just a good time. The pirates were hilarious, and even better....there was an open bar.
Oh, but there was the most irritating woman on the boat sitting across from her. But apparently, I was so uncouth (by saying pee) that she moved tables. That was after she stated I reminded her of her daughter, which she later retracted. I am sooooo charming!

After the boat ride we rode the bus alllll the way back down the strip to the hotel and collapsed into bed. Chitzen Itza was next, and we had a 8am date with a tour bus.

I'm Stupid

The wise man saves for the future
Stupid people spend their money as fast as they can get it.
Proverbs 21:20

I'm stupid. We're going through a financial series at church and one of the verses Ben referenced today was the one above. I realized that I'm stupid. Before you get your britches all riled up (I'm looking at you two Pete and Jake) I realize I'm not stupid. But according to this Proverb I am in fact, stupid.

I don't have any credit card debt. I have no car payment. I owe just around $10K on my student loans still. The only real debt I have is my house. I earn a decent income and that is padded from several other additional income sources. It really shouldn't be as hard as I'm trying to make it.
I have a budget, that I do not stick to. If I would just stick to the budget I would be able to pay all the bills as their coming in and save some (not a lot, not by a long shot) but some.
I don't have debt, but I don't have a plan for my financial future (other then passively investing in a mutual fund and my 401K...but that's all automatic and I barely notice that's happening). I can uncomfortably manage my monthly financial flow, but if something...anything happened I would be done in.

I'm hoping to change all that. Like today. Since I got my tax refund I can catch up and get ahead of the ball financially while still being able to do some stuff to my house I want. I'm hoping to find a system, a financial rhythm that is more sustainable....actually...if I'm going to be honest, a financial rhythm that lasts longer than an hour.
I am absolutely terrified.
I feel like I'll be left out of something if I don't spend money. Which doesn't make sense because most of the people I know don't have any money either. Money seems to be an area of shame for me for reasons that I can never quite put my finger on. If I have some I want to give it all away because I have to much. If I don't have any than I connect my bank balance to my actual worth. It's an odd feeling, and one that God's digging out from the depths of my heart.

Let's see how this goes...


Day 2 Cancun

We had schedule a Jungle Boat Tour with our Apple Rep for Monday. For whatever reason we didn't seem to be able to sleep past 730 or 8 Cancun time, so that's when we got up. After a quick bite we head to the bus for the ride to the boat place. We signed up to drive our own speed boat (following a guide) out the lagoon into the Caribbean and in and out of jungle inlets. We would ultimately reach the reef where we would snorkel. Back by noon with most of the day left to lay around sunning and drinking.
First, a disclaimer:
I like to pretend that I'm adventurous, but I'm really not.

Nicole drove first because I wanted to know what it was like before I drove. I'm so glad she drove because I.WAS.TERRIFIED.
It was crazy scary. I shrieked and shouted, clutched the sides of the boat. I was terrified.
The water was really choppy out, and we would hit a wave and take off in the air....like jumping the track on a roller coaster. Only instead of jumping just a little we were clearing the water by feet and then slamming back into it.
But we survived. Of course. After several leisurely jaunts through little jungle channels we made it to the reef. It was time to snorkel!
It takes me a few seconds to acclimate to breathing through the tube and to realize I'm probably not swimming in a pool of piranhas. Nicole and I are swimming out past the buoys towards the reefy area. I'm trying to explain to Nicole how to clear her mask underwater so she doesn't have to come up if she doesn't want to. We take a brief detour through the reason I know that information and why on earth I was watching "The Girls Next Door".
So I turn around and go butt up placing my face underwater. Only to realize that I am literally SURROUNDED by a school of purpley striped fish. School was out and they were swarming me! I started shrieking for no reason, and scared this 13 or 14 y/o girl that was with our group...she started screaming too (which was awesome)
We finally calmed down and I just started floating and looking. I would intermittently get kicked in the face by Nicole's fins. I saw a camo fish that I could only see if I stayed very still. Only then would the fish move around and "unblend" from the bottom of the ocean. Only to soon it was time to get back to the boats. Oh, right....the boats. The boats that sat pretty high up from the water and didn't have ladders on them.
Good thing the Jungle Tour guide was strong, because he had to haul my substantial ass back up in the boat. No joke, I slid up on the front of that boat like a whale beaching itself in Tahiti. It.Was.Ridiculous.
But I was on the boat, so I peeled off my flippers and tossed them in the backseat. I proceeded to make the most intelligent decisions....ever. I stood up. On the front of the boat (is that the stern or the bow?) I took one step towards the seats and immediately slipped and fell into the front seat of the boat. But I didn't fall gracefully (and I'm not convinced there is such a thing anyway), fell on the steering wheel. Well, not all of me fell on the steering wheel. Just the right half of my body. The left half fell into the floor space in front of the steering wheel. Yep, that's right...I was straddling the steering wheel of the boat if front of the not unattractive speed boat guide.
Soon, it was time to brave death and drive back to the dock. I drove for approximately 235.4 feet. I realized that I was even more terrified to drive, because to drive I would have to keep my eyes open and at least one hand on the wheel. Nicole and I did a little flip flop of roles and I latched my hands back onto the side of the boat. It wasn't quite as rough on the way back....but there were definitely moments that we caught some air.
When all was said and done, I tipped the guide because I was still alive.

The rest of the day was pretty dull compared to that. We layed around the pool, drank, jumped in waves and floated in the ocean, took a few naps. By the time the sun started going down we decided to go get all gussied up for our fancy dinner at Mexico Lindo. We wore dresses. It was awesome.
While Nicole was in the shower I was all dressed and ready, and bored....with a camera. So I took a lot of random pics of myself, which she walked out and caught me doing. My strange single/living alone behavior is apparently hilarious to other people.

Dinner was awesome, I had filet mignon...for desert though....oh lawdy I had the best desert. Churros, freshly baked, warm and right from the oven churros. I'm sorry Costco, but that crap you call Churros isn't going to cut it anymore. Better yet, it was served drizzled with caramel and with a scoop of chocolate ice cream...and SLICES OF KIWI. KIWI!

(Have I mentioned that for every meal I ate I always had a gigantic plate piled high with fresh fruit. Three times a day...huge heaping helpings of fruit!)
We had some deliciously strong Mango Margaritas too...so good!

We stumbled up to bed. I passed out hard at the crazy late hour of...930pm. Oh my goodness I felt old.


Cancun Day 1

Well here we go!
Nicole and I had arrived in Cancun about 630 the night before. After plodding through customs and the airport (which was RIPE with commentary on people's travel habits and outfits) and making it onto the Apple shuttle it was 730. We had to get to the hotel and checked in, which took us to 830, and by then we were willing to eat almost anything. We grabbed a questionable dinner where I inadvertently ate seafood (which I really don't like). There was also this guy at the restaurant that had a stuffed dog with a rope leash on it. This guy ordered the dog drinks and prepared him plates of food. It.was.weird. He would also randomly burst out into song.
We wandered the pool/beach area breathing in the sea air and consuming a free beverage or two, then we were so tired we just went to bed.

For some reason we couldn't sleep in. So by 730 we were reluctantly awake and ready to do something. So we got up, dressed, and wandered downstairs to a buffet breakfast, after we booked some tours with our Apple Vacation rep. Then, finally, it was time to hit the beach!
So warm and sunny. Plus the free drinks helped to cool us down. We got to swim in the ocean which was crazy blue, and people watching was simultaneously hilarious and scary.
After what seemed like HOURS we wandered over to another buffet for lunch. After lunch we decided to head upstairs and change to maybe wander down the strip and ship some. When we got to the room we realized it was only 1:30! WHAT?!
We changed, got on the bus and went down to the flea markets and just wandered in and out of stores and markets looking at everything. Again, after what seemed like HOURS we decided to head back to the hotel. When we arrived back at the hotel it was 4:30! How the hell was it only 430?

We decided to nap and watch some of the few English channels available and just wait for dinner time. Needless to say, we felt really old.
So dinner was good, and the drinks were awesome. We decided to hang out in the Lobby Bar and watch the college students that were intent on getting alcohol poisoning their first night. We had noticed posters advertising the Mr. Barcelo (the name of our hotel) contest that night in the reception room so we wandered down there and checked it out. That was so hilarious! They pulled 4 guys out of the audience and had them competing in a competition. Their challenges included:
Dancing to Right Said Fred's "I'm to Sexy" (one dude was totally break dancing, spinning on the floor and everything)
A beer drinking competition. They had to do push ups with a long straw in their mouth that they drank the beer through
A kissing competition. They had to run around and kiss as many ladies in the audience as possible.
Finally they had to had a drag competition where they dress up as celebrities and danced around.

It might have been all the tequila and Corona, but I was laughing so hard my face still hurt the next morning. It was to fun.
We staggered upstairs and collapsed into bed. We had an early morning date with a speed boat and coral reef the next day.

The beds slept great and that night at least we didn't hear any peeps from the college students that were partying around us.


Somedays you're the sandwhich

I read this several days ago as I was cleaning out my google reader. I cried when I read it the first time, I cried again when I read it the next day. I cried when I read it out loud to Diane at small group Wednesday. I cried. Because sometimes I feel like the sandwich.

This photograph was taken on a "glass-bottom" excursion trip that was part of our cruise with Kathy Triccoli last year. As a reminder, at this point I was still pregnant with Audrey, and we knew her diagnosis. I was terrified to go on the cruise because I can become overwhelmed when I feel like everyone is looking at me and talking about me. I am in a bathing suit, obviously pregnant, and there is no way around the fact that I am carrying a baby that will soon go to be with the Lord. It was actually a much nicer time than I had gotten myself all worried about, and people were very kind to me. Women would just sit by me at the pool and ask about the book I was reading, and then eventually transition into a story about loss in their own lives.

It has been about a year since that trip, and the other day I was reminded of one of my father-in-law's favorite stories to tell about my kids. This particular story involves my sweet Ellie (pictured on the little boat a few minutes before this story took place). She was mesmerized by the way you could see the "fish" swimming below us (let me clarify that "seaweed" and "fish" are seen as equally exciting to a preschooler who didn't just get robbed by the concierge). It was a rusty, nasty, fishing boat and the "director" decided it would be more productive to flirt with the captain, so we were left to explore the wonders of rip-off-ville by ourselves.

I would have been even more mad if my daughter hadn't said something that I carry with me every day of my life.

I may have mentioned in earlier post (probably about this time last year) that there was a woman aboard the ship who was battling cancer. She usually wore some kind of hat or scarf, and for formal events she donned a beautiful wig, but the girls were concerned when they saw her at the pool one day and asked me what was wrong.

I told them that she had something called "cancer," and that we needed to pray for her because it makes her very sick, and the medicine she was taking made all of her hair fall out. They stared at me in confusion, and I wanted to tell them that everything was going to be fine, but that would have been a lie. I didn't know enough of her story to say what was going to happen, only that we should pray for the woman with the scarves. And every night, in earnest, we sat on our little cruise ship bed and talked about our prayers, and the "special scarf lady" made her way into their requests. I can't tell you that they fully understood what might happen to her, but they were lifting her up as if they did.

I should preface this next part of the story by saying that Abby and Ellie don't let people into their world very easily. They have each other and they have us, and that's about all they need. We had to take them out of ballet because they were sleepless over all of the "people watching them through the glass." They love to dance, and if you came to the concert this weekend, you got to witness that firsthand...they love music and feel so free to do it, but meeting people face to face, one on one? Different story.

If you meet them, they will most likely hide behind me and stare at the ground while Kate butts in front of me, introduces herself and proceeds to ask you to pick her up and carry her around like you're a horsey, yelling "GIDDY UP!!!!" until you have reached sufficient canter.

Todd and I have an interesting combination of genes.


All that to say, Abby and Ellie aren't fond of strangers.

So when we boarded the little excursion boat and saw the scarf lady, I knew they were going to be nervous.

So guess where Ellie sidles up? You guessed it.

Right in between her grandfather (Tata-Todd's dad) and the "scarf lady."

I almost passed out.

But then again, there was the whole gasoline explosion smell thing, so there were other contributing factors to my delirium.

The boat was so loud, and I was in so much agony over the choppy waves and the smell that I laid down for most of it, but I did manage to take a few photos. I couldn't hear the conversation over the loud motor (which we were pretty much sitting on..seriously), but at one point I saw Ellie talking to the woman and I was mesmerized by the look in her eyes. It reminded me of myself, and it was a side I had never seen in her before.

She wasn't intimidated.

She wanted to connect with her.

And in that little 5 year old face, I didn't see panic or even sadness, but just a simple empathy that belied her age. I watched them pointing at things and talking about what they were seeing, but I couldn't make out their words. At one point, Ellie pointed at her scarf, and I found out later that she told her she knew why she wore it, and that we had been praying for her. I can't say for sure, but I have a feeling that if we could be this bold as adults, the world would be a different place.

In Beth Moore's study, Esther, she talks about the way we want to separate ourselves from those who are in pain, because we fear it may overtake us as well. It is human nature to want to fix things, and I know it because I am the worst of all. I hate seeing people suffer, and will do anything to make it go away.

The problem is that sometimes you can't. And I know, because I have singlehandedly eaten three boxes of Tagalongs in the past week preparing to sign paperwork to dig up my daughters grave. And everywhere I go, those dang Girl Scouts pop up. I think they're following me. I might need to put a call into someone about that....

(derailed, back to the point...)

Many, many well meaning people made comments to me about how much I had to be grateful for, despite the fact that I had a dying baby in my stomach.

It was a nice way of saying, "I like your scarf, but I don't really want to know what's under it."

As the ride continued, Ellie and the scarf lady kept talking. I still didn't know what all they were talking about, but at one point I saw Ellie get very serious and start pointing at all of the things around. She would point, and then look at the lady as if making sure she understood. Then, she would do the same, this time with her eyes on the sky or the coastline. The woman was nodding and looking at her with love.

Ellie paused for a long while, silently staring out at the seemingly endless waters, and then turned to face her sweet friend. I couldn't hear what she said, but the woman and my father in law both threw their heads back in laughter. I was really curious about what had transpired because it was so out of character, but I was even more concerned that I was going to vomit on the woman next to me, so I buried my head for the rest of the trip.

When we got off the boat on this little island, I asked my father in law what Ellie had been saying. This is as close to verbatim as I can remember from what he said.

Ellie started by telling the woman that she liked her with her hair or without it, and that she thought her scarves were pretty. She proceeded to ask her if she knew that God was a big God who could do big things. The woman nodded sweetly.

Ellie then started pointing at the waves and she said, "See? God's hands made those waves."

Then, she looked up at the sky and told the woman, "God made the blue sky; the huge blue sky and all of the birds and clouds."

She proceeded to inform her that God's hands made all of the sand on the shore, and all of the fish (that we were supposed to see, but did not....bitter, party of 1, please.) Hypothetically, though, there were fish, and He did, indeed make them.

This continued for some time, and then there was the pause.

I asked my father in law what she had said that had made them laugh so hard, and he said that she had turned to the woman and said, "I think He did make all of these things, but I don't think He can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

I laughed and kissed her wet, sandy head and we headed off for the beach. I told her that I was proud of her for making a new friend, and she smiled as she responded, "Yeah, she thought I was funny."

As I sat and watched them play in the water, I thought more and more about what she said, and to be honest, it has become a very profound part of my journey with God in the last year.

Because I have no doubt that His hands, His HUGE hands make the sky and the earth and the planets and the stars and so on and so on.

But is it possible that those same hands can wrap themselves around something as small as a knife? Something so small as my day to day needs? My hurts? My fears and doubts? The situations that seem like nothing to those around me but keep me awake at night?

He can make the waters part. No problem. That makes sense to me. BIG hands. Got it.

He can resurrect His dead Son from a cross. That sounds about right- He is God after all. Logical.

But can He wrap those same hands around the "little things?"

The divorce papers that I have seen filed to a friend in the past few weeks? The fact that I have close friends who don't know how they are going to pay their bills? The emails I get everyday asking me to pray about sick family members, dying babies, husbands at war...

I don't know that she had any idea what she was saying, but in essence, I believe that the Holy Spirit allowed her to minister to a stranger from someplace that we, as Christians, are afraid to enter into.

It is the place where it's easier to talk about the sand than the cancer.

It's easier to talk about the glory of His great hands than the face that you have no hair and no guarantees in this life.

Are there places in your life where you think, "God wouldn't care about this. He's got too much on His plate to try and figure out how to help me through this day."

May I be honest? Sometimes I do.

As much as I trust in Him, believe He is Who He says He is, and welcome the opportunity to praise Him, there are moments (like this week when I lost my favorite Bible), that I think might just have fallen off His radar because He was trying to, you know, save the world and all.

I feel like a tiny, tiny sandwich, and it is hard to picture His hands on the little, tiny knife.

I know, I know.

It isn't Biblical, and it isn't true. I have dozens of scriptures that tell me that.

Can I just say this, though? As someone who loves and trusts Him more that she could ever articulate?

It doesn't always feel that way.

So instead of giving you the pretty Christian answer tonight (the one I know is backed by the Word of God), I am going to give you the human, Angie, the "I just signed papers to move my deceased daughter's body today" answer.

It doesn't always feel that way.

Where are you tonight, friends? What is it in your life that you can't find Him in? I want you to know that there is nothing too small for Him to care about, and I am praying (for you and for me) that we open our eyes to the truth, and the next time we are faced with such an opportunity, I pray that we don't shy away from entering in and asking what is under the scarf.

There is unspeakable beauty in the work of the Master's hands, and I don't want to miss a moment of it. I am praying the same for you-for His ever-present love to surround you, regardless of where you find yourself in the wee hours of this night.

This is a weighty post, and I hope there is some part of it that resonated with you and, if nothing else, showed you that you are not alone.

Or, if you just came here for a good laugh (and to see that I am completely not exaggerating about my children), just see the photos that follow from the same trip I have been writing about...

God bless you all...and may the peace of God settle deep within you. Even in the little things.


It's not funny

It is not funny. When you say things just to see how I will react knowing full well how I feel.
You're not cute or hilarious when you pluck and pluck at my heart strings until they fray and break over and over again.
Please stop.
Make a decision.
Move forward or back, but do not continue down this path because it is ripping me to shreds.

I ask you serious questions, I ask you to be upfront. But you deflect, dodge and tell jokes that are just cruelty wrapped in lies. I wonder when you will be honest with me. Just once, a straight answer please. One that isn't given because you are backed into the corner by my shouts, accusations and tears.


I was reading this article today, which I stumbled across because of this blog.
While I understand that this article is particularly about homosexual Christian there were a few parts that stuck with me.

The idea of marriage/romantic relationships seems so foreign to me. Like I just can't imagine what it might be like to be in one at this point. I remember what it was like being in them. But that was before. Before when I was all dramatic and obsessed and caught up in every thing that the other person was doing. Back when I had to completely align my identity to the other person so they would continue to want to be with me.
I'm doing Beth Moore's bible study on Esther. Last night we talked about chapter 5, which is when Esther has invited Xerses and Haman to a banquet. In verse 9 it starts out with Haman in a good mood, until he sees Mordecai refusing to bow to him at the gate. When he sees Mordecai, Hamen is "filled with wrath" Beth Moore asked in her study if we have anyone like that in our lives. Anyone that when we see them, no matter what our mood is at the time, we are filled with wrath, or obsession, or jealousy, or because of the one person/thing/situation in the midst of so much joy and goodness that is icky.
Other than random reality show contestants I don't really feel that way. For the most part I try to not be irrationally filled with wrath, because it's just exhausting. But I am filled with obsessive thoughts of a different variety.
I dissect conversations, phone calls, visits etc. By the time my head begins to clear I have almost completely emotionally spun out.
I'm really over it.
I've been distancing myself slowly from the main person that causes this to happen. Because it really is like spinning your emotional wheels in the mud with this guy.
But really, if I'm going to be honest it's not this guy that does it, it's me. I cause it to happen. I continue to think that I'll allow myself just one little thought, one little what if moment and then I'll stop.
It's a slippery slope those stolen moments. Before I know it, I'm in a puddle...confused and upset.

I think the reason marriage and relationships that lead to that are so foreign to me is because I do not trust that I won't become that person full time again. But I also seem completely unwilling to release that obsessive part of me to God. Because I keep thinking, "I got this one".
When I so clearly do not.


My Heart Cries Out

I read this on Scott Will's blog the other day and it was so amazing and timely and I wanted to share it with the few of you that hang out here.

Farmington, NM
Volume 4, Issue 5
March 2, 2009

…from a broken man…

God I need you. DESPERATELY. My heart CRIES out. I can not do this on my own. I am tired of trying to FIGHT and change myself – only you can CHANGE ME.

I have run, I have STRUGGLED, I have fought, but I have done it with my own strength, and I have NO MORE. No matter how hard I try to change I am still DEFEATED.

I know I have forsaken you, I know I have ABANDONED YOU, and I know I have cried out only when I was in trouble. NO MORE. I need you – ALWAYS. I know I will turn from you again, EVERYDAY. Help me to STOP struggling with ME. Help me to turn to you.

I have cried out for you to SEARCH ME and know me, but yet I have tried to hide myself from you. I can’t do this anymore. I am BROKEN. I have tried to plaster walls around me, BARRICADING myself within my own skin – never letting others, or you PENETRATE in to the fabric of my existence. I don’t want that anymore – I WANT YOU! All of you.

Take all of me, the deep and BROKEN VESSEL that can carry no water. Create in me a CLEAN HEART. I am beyond EXHAUSTION. I am at a point where if I don’t get more of you and SUBMIT myself to you, I may turn to the other EXTREME. I am a REBEL who is tired of FIGHTING AGAINST ME.

I want to join your fight, but I am afraid. AFRAID of REJECTION, FEAR that I will let others down, FRIGHT that I will NOT SUCCEED. These are all UNFOUNDED conjectures of my mind, placed on myself – that have no ground with you. You don’t need me, but I NEED YOU.

My WORKS are part of who I am, but not the part of me that YOU SEEK. You seek ALL OF ME, but I have withheld so much of me. I have GRASPED and CLINGED to my own PRIDE, my own reluctance to GIVE UP, my own DESIRE to impress. NO MORE. Change me Lord. CHANGE ALL OF ME.

Let your HEALING RAIN run over me and NEVER LET ME GO. I need you EVERY HOUR. I am LOST without you. Where can I run to? Still YOU ARE THERE. Help me to see you, to feel you, TO KNOW YOU MORE.


I miss the beach

So I have in mind to recap day by day and let you know stories from my vacation. I have funny stories and a rant or two, which I know you're dying to hear about.
We'll see if that actually happens...

But I miss the beach, I'm back. Regular life. Which is lovely and I especially appreciate my own bed. But.....I miss the beach.
For tonight, I'm tired and lost in the maze of a week away from real life.