Monday, July 28, 2008

Just Some Updates

Ben is feeling much better now that he has been on the antibiotics for a few days. (For those of you just tuning in, he had strep throat, due most likely to eating "a bunch of food" under the table at a local restaurant. Yep, that's my boy).

Jay actually has TWO job interviews this week! Woo Hoo! The first one is tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, to be a chaplain at a local hospice. This will actually be his second interview with this company, so we are very excited that they might really want to hire him.

The other interview is on Wednesday with a company that he has been trying to get involved with for a long time. The company is Family First (www.familyfirst.net) and is linked with an organization called All-Pro Dad, in which NFL players get involved to try to encourage Dads to get more involved in their children's lives. It really is a wonderful company. One of their main supporters is Indianapolis Colts Coach and big-time Christian, Tony Dungy (he even said that when he retires as a coach, he will go to work for Family First).

Believe it or not, Coach Dungy was in town a couple of weeks ago doing a book signing for his new children's book, and Jay went to see him! He wrote the coach a letter and handed it to him. The letter asked the coach if there was anything he could do to get Jay a foot in the door at Family First. (Jay's response to me when I told him he was completely out of his mind was, "Hey, it's worth a shot. And at this point, I have no pride left. I need a job and I will take help from any place I can get it!"). Funny thing is, soon afterwards, Jay got a call from Family First for this interview! The woman who called him did sort of an impromptu phone interview and mentioned to Jay that it has been her dream to hire a male administrative professional. Hmm... let's just hope we can make that dream come true! Ha ha

Both jobs are about equal distance from our house. One is to the North of us, and the other is to the South. While, frankly, our expectations have been dramatically reducing as time goes by, the salaries of both jobs are more than we were expecting to get, albeit the Family First job pays between $9,000 and $12,000 less per year than the hospice job. We will just have to pray that at least ONE of these places offers Jay a job this week!!!

Now that I got all of that off my chest, here are some cute videos of the kids:

We were practicing tee ball with B in the front yard (he will start his first little league team in two weeks, since he is finally old enough), and he got a little frustrated with his baby sister, who also wanted to play ball. I just thought his little fit was kinda cute and "blog-worthy"...

video

This next video shows the girls playing tee ball... or at least trying to. I just want to munch on Sweet Baby H... all the time. She is such a pistol, and she wants so badly to be just like the big kids. She is so adorable. And R is such a great big sis, too!


video

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

As a self-proclaimed "germophobe", I am finding it increasingly difficult to be the mother of boys. Disgusting creatures, they are. They're all the same. Even the little ones. It might even start at birth. It's like they purposefully seek out all things revolting and vile, just to prove that they belong to some sort of All-Men's, Macho club. (More like the He-Man Woman Hater's Club, if you ask me).

Yesterday, we got the rare opportunity to eat dinner out at a local fast food restaurant. We decided to go to Chick Fil 'A, because they were having their weekly Family Night, and all kids ate free. (Free is good. Free speaks our language. Free means we could eat there cheaper than I could make a meal at home).

So, we are all seated at the booth, eating our meals. There was not much talking going on, because the food is just so stinkin' good! Eventually, Jay and I start discussing a book he is currently reading, the kids were reading their kid's meal bags and toys (Chick Fil 'A kids meal toys - unlike the other fast food restaurants - are always very eduational and entertaining), and Jay and I were taking turns eating our own food and feeding the baby her meal (she can now eat an entire 4 piece nugget meal complete with fruit cup all on her own!).

All of a sudden, I turn my head to where B had been sitting next to me, and noticed that he was gone! My immediate motherly instinct is to panic and frantically search until I find him. I don't have to search for long. After only a couple of times hearing his name called, he pops out from under the table, smiling his little "I've done something bad, but I am gonna show you how cute I am" smile. So, Jay and I start questioning him.

Me: Where did you go, buddy?

B: Nowhere.

Me: But you weren't in your seat. Where were you?

B: Just under the table.

Jay: Why were you under the table?

B: I don't know. (and here is when that smile returns, so we know something's up)

Me: What were you doing?

B: Nothing.

Jay: Tell us what you did.

B: Nothing! (smiles increase)

With a sigh, Jay goes back to feeding the baby, motioning that he doesn't even want to know anymore. Then I hear B mumble something interesting under his breath.

I am shocked. Did I just hear what I think I heard?

Me: What did you just say?

B (very matter-of-factly): Um, I just said that I saw a bunch of food down there, so I crawled under the table and I ate it.

I think the horrified look on my face said it all. He proceeded to explode into giggly laughter, finding some sick pleasure and delight by informing me of how delicious it was. Ugh!

Boys. Disgusting creatures. They really are.

*******************

UPDATE: After a few days with a high fever, we finally took B in to see the doctor. A mere $200 later, we learn that he has strep throat!
I wonder.... Where, oh where, could he have gotten that??? Hmm....
Score 1 for the germophobes! :o)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rainy Day Craze

Have I mentioned that it rains a lot in Florida?

It rains so much, in fact, that the kids decided to spend the money they have been saving on new umbrellas. We had barely gotten back from the store when it (of course) started raining again.

The kids were quick to start begging us to let them go outside and break in their new umbrellas. Jay and I finally agreed to let them (it wasn't thundering or lightning yet).
For a while, they just walked around in the rain with the umbrellas, skipping around and giggling about how much fun they were having.















But, eventually, those umbrellas ended up on the porch with me (so did their shoes), while they ran back outside to sing, dance and squeal in the rain.

Eventually, Sweet Baby H decided that she would venture out into the wet world and see what her brother and sissy were so excited about. She never quite got into it like they did. So Sissy tried to convince her of how fun it was.

It didn't work. A few seconds after this picture was taken, she came running and crying back to the safety of her mama. She quickly began "tattling" on her big brother and sister, pointing and shaking her finger towards them, and telling me all sorts of interesting things in her adorably jumbled toddler-talk. The only things I could understand from all of her ramblings were:

rainin'... don't like it!... sissy no no!... all wet... inside... go! (it was incredibly cute!)

By that time, though, the other kids were having such a blast that I wasn't about to stop their fun... (baby scolding or no baby scolding)

I know this next picture makes it seem that R is not enjoying herself, but it is actually the complete opposite. Right when I snapped the picture, she was in the middle of screaming at the top of her lungs (for all the neighbors to hear)...

"THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!" Ha ha.


Yes, my kids are definitely hard-up for entertainment. ha ha ha.

All in all, the kids had nothing but positive things to say about this eventful day. After they came in, got a bath, and put some warm, dry clothes on, they sat down together to talk about how much fun they had and how they couldn't wait until the next time it rained so they could run around and splash in the puddles again.

Hey, what can I say? It's free entertainment! Just like when we take R out in her pretty wedding dress to see who can get the better pictures of her in it, we have to try to come up with all sorts of interesting ways to keep busy on an extremely limited budget.

Speaking of which, since no one commented on the last post with Jay's pics of R in the wedding dress, I am going to assume that MY pics were much better than his! Ha ha! Yay! I win, I win! Ha ha ha!

'Til next time :o)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From the Weird Mind of My "Baby Daddy"

Here are Jay's pics of R wearing her pretty wedding dress in public. I have to admit that some of these are so hilarious that I am having trouble typing this post because I am laughing so hard.

I just love my sweet little princess. She has this incredible ability for someone at such a young age to be able to perform and to really communicate with just her facial expressions. She did such a great job!

Here are the pics (with Jay's comments):

"One down, 26 to go"



"And I will dance with Cinderella"

"I will never be a tree hugger!"



"Don't count on a dowry, boys."



"Well, someone has to pay for this dress!"




"Someday my prince will come."

"A bride's gotta do, what a bride's gotta do"



"And not a spot on my dress. Eat your heart out."


"What? Have you seen the price of groceries?"


Well, what did you think? Of course, either way, I think we can all agree that we have a very adorable daughter! Ha ha :o)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Poverty-Stricken Creativity

Being unemployed for 6 months has really begun to challenge our creativity when it comes to finding ways to entertain ourselves. Jay, being a complete dork and, therefore, often an extremely entertaining person (especially when he comes up with stories about his 7-11 experiences), has lately really begun to stretch those entertainer abilities.

R LOVES to play dress up. It is not unusual for her to wear a costume all day long. She has even been known to wear one of them during a family trip to WalMart. (She has obviously not yet reached the age of embarrassment).

The other day, the kids were (once again) bouncing off the walls, begging to be entertained. There are only so many mall playgrounds we can stand taking the kids to without going completely insane! So wacky, weirdo Jay, with creative juices flowing, came up with one of his crazy, hair-brained schemes.

R was wearing her fanciest dress up costume. Jay decided that she and I should get out of the house for a little big girl bonding time... with her wearing the costume. Yes. That's right.

His challenge was that we could not come back until we had taken 5 unique pictures of R wearing her pretty dress. Of course, R was elated! She could not have been more excited to be seen in public wearing her fancy gown.

This is Florida in the summer, and that means lots and lots (and lots) of thunderstorms. There happened to be one about to blow in, so R and I set out and tried to get as creative as possible with our pictures before we had to come in out of the rain...



(We decided our theme would be "Unusual Things for a Bride to Do in her Wedding Dress")

Here comes the bride!







Checking the Mail...



Riding a Scooter...





Driving a car...




Trying on Ugly Shoes...




Bargain Shopping...


Petting the local wildlife...




Model Advertising...




Ordering Pizza...




And finally, filling the tank after a day of fun in her wedding dress...


Needless to say, we got some pretty interesting looks from people. But mostly, everyone that stopped us could not say enough about how beautiful she was and how I needed to put her into pageants (which I would never do, by the way!). Overall, everyone thought that our fun little challenge was a great idea.

R had so much fun that Jay and I have decided to make this a regular event. Only, now it has become a bit of a competition between Jay and I. He said he will be the one to take her out next time, and that he would be able to do bigger, better, and more unusual pictures of her in the dress! Well, I think I deserve a little credit for the fact that we only had a limited amount of time to do it because of the rain. If given another chance (with no weather issues), I think I could win the challenge hands down! Ha ha.

What do you think? :o)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stop the Presses! Stop the Presses!

My poor daughter insisted that I post this in order to "set the record straight".

She chose the wording. She chose the setting. She chose the props.

She was the writer. She was the director. She was the performer.

All I did was hold the camera...


video

There. I'm glad we got that all cleared up!
Ha ha! :o)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Priceless Post

Earlier tonight, Jay was playing with the kids and they all started wrestling (which the kids love to do with their daddy). I had been taking some pictures of the baby...





...and decided to start video taping the action. Nothing could have prepared us for what would have happened next. I am sooo tempted to submit it to America's Funniest Videos. Let me know what you think!



First, Ben will give you his grand introduction (in Preacher Man B mode).


video


Then, the piece de resistence... Rebekah's Shining Moment (be sure to listen carefully to what she is saying at the end of the video).


video


And finally, Jay gives his insightful conclusion.


video

Hope you enjoyed the videos! We sure did!
Just don't laugh so hard you pee on yourself, too!
Ha ha ha!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Our 4th of July Celebration

I just wanted to share some pics of how we spent our 4th of July. Hope you all enjoy them!


We started out at an event called Freedom Fest put on by the local Christian Radio Station. It was fun, with lots of bounce houses for the kids to jump in, and great concerts, but it was HOT!



Then we tried to cool off with a dip in the pool...



Last week, we took B to the doctor and learned he had a perforated ear drum. Ouch!


And then, earlier this week, we found out that Sweet Baby H had a completely ruptured ear drum! What are the odds?! Man, the hits just keep on coming!

But, we tried to make the best of it, and just crammed their ears full of vaseline and cotton balls! ha ha.





Then, we got all dried off and brought out the sparklers. This was the first time we have ever allowed the kids to hold the sparklers on their own. They were pretty scared at first, and then they really liked it... so much that they made us light up every box we had! ha ha.



Sweet Baby H was pretty tuckered out from all of our fun activities, but R & B were brimming with excitement and wanted to watch the fireworks from the roof of their daddy's car... which was parked safely in our driveway! ha ha. (they were our neighbor's fireworks).




We finished up the evening with all of us cuddling on the couch, watching the fireworks shows on TV. All in all, I think the kids had a really fun day... and so did their parents!

:o)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Painful Memories

This Saturday, July 5th, will mark the 6 year anniversary of my father's death. As I sit here and type this, all of the old emotions from that time come flying back as though it just occurred...

His name was Rory. In reality I hardly knew him. He disappeared when I was 6, after he and my mom divorced, leaving my younger brothers and I with barely a handful of scattered memories to grasp onto. The only way we knew he existed was through correspondence with his mother.

He was terribly addicted to drugs and alcohol, to the point that he only worked a job long enough to afford the next "fix". He drank his way out of job after job, and house after house. He lived with "friends" until even they could not support his habits any longer. He lived a sad existence indeed.

He eventually wound up a beggar, penniless and homeless, living on street corners and under bridges, relying on the kindness of strangers for a few spare pennies to buy enough food to sustain him. Even sadder still, whenever he was questioned about the choices that led him to the life of a beggar, his response would be that he loved life on the streets. He claimed that he had never felt more free.

This is why it completely shocked me to get a phone call that he wanted to reconnect with me, the daughter he hadn't seen in over 15 years. Of course I was skeptical at first, not wanting to let my guard down to this virtual stranger. But, he insisted that he had changed and that he had saved up enough money to buy a bus ticket to see me, if I would welcome him to come.

At the time, Jay was on his last semester of undergraduate work, with plans to go to seminary and study to be a pastor once he graduated. My mind went immediately to visions of my father wearing smelly, torn rags, shivering from cold, and eating from garbage cans. It seemed so similar to the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). I wanted so badly to think he had the broken, repentant heart of the son, returning to his father with a new appreciation for patience and hard work. So, Jay and I, wanting to be good Christians, agreed to allow Rory to sleep on our couch so he could focus on getting a job.

Day after day passed, with him sleeping most of the day and sitting in front of the TV. Whenever Jay or I would ask him when he was going to look for jobs, he would claim he was waiting to get his system completely clean first. He would respond in much the same way each time we would try to tell him about the Lord. No matter how hard we tried to share the Gospel with him, he would just smile and tell us he would get around to it one day. He knew his need for a savior; he would say he needed to "get right" with God. But, like the job situation, he would leave it at that... a need.

How similar that sounds to so many non-Christians when faced with the Gospel. They want to get their life "right", or clean, before they come to the Father. How sad it is to know that they will never be truly "clean", no matter now hard they may try, until they first come to the Father, through the Son, Jesus Christ.

After a while, Jay and I began to get frustrated that Rory just did not seem to be getting any better. We soon discovered that he was still drinking quite heavily. He had bottles of "water" that he kept with him at all times that actually turned out to be filled with vodka. I angrily poured it all down the drain right in front of him. That did not change him. We later learned that he was drinking down all of the cough syrup containing alcohol that we had in the house. Finally, we had enough. We refused to enable him to continue ruining his life, right in front of our faces.

Sometimes we get caught up in a trap of just wanting to make our loved ones happy. And sometimes making them happy is a good thing. Sometimes it can, in turn, make us happy, as well as others around us. But sometimes, it is not that fleeting, temporary "happiness" that they truly need. What they need is for us to love them enough to allow them to face the consequences of the decisions they have made. Sometimes.

Jay and I called several places and were finally able to get a room for Rory at the Salvation Army. It seemed the perfect place for someone in his situation. He would get a clean bed, showers, three meals a day, transportation to several day-labor job sites, and firm structure to ensure he could not continue to fall back into his old ways. He reluctantly agreed to go, and we loaded him up, dropped him at the door, and said our goodbyes.

The next morning we received a phone call from the Salvation Army staff. Rory was kicked out of his room the night before for missing curfew. He stayed out all night drinking himself to oblivion at a local bar. When he finally arrived at the door to claim his bed, it was several hours past curfew and he was completely drunk. He was immediately escorted from the premises. He never spent a single night in his room.

An enormous wave of anger washed over me after that and I began to grow hard-hearted towards my father. I no longer wanted to show him the love of Christ. I no longer wanted to share my faith with him at all. I did not care that he slept on a street corner. When I drove past him sitting at his corner, I would ignore him as I would have ignored any other bum on the street. He would call several times a week to talk about how hungry he was or how desperately he needed to take a shower. He would ask me if he could use my washer and dryer to wash his clothes, so he did not smell so bad when he went to look for a job. I responded to him very coldly, refusing even the smallest request.

He even called us on his birthday and wept through the phone about how lonely he was and that he just wanted to hear a friendly voice. We did not provide that friendly voice. We told him that he brought it upon himself, and hung up the phone.

That was the last time I spoke to my father.

Early in the morning on July 5th, an urgent, reverberating knock on the door woke us from our sleep. A couple of police officers waited on the other side to tell us that we needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. After quickly throwing some clothes on my body, the first thing I thought to grab as we rushed out the door was my Bible.

During the entire drive to the hospital, I prayed with more urgency than I had ever prayed before. I begged God to forgive me for not sharing the Gospel with my father. I pleaded with the Lord to let him live just a few minutes longer. I asked Him to give me one more chance to tell Rory about Jesus, knowing that if I didn't, he would surely spend eternity in Hell, separated forevermore from the God I claimed to love more than anything. All I needed was one more moment with my father.

But it was not to be. My father was dead when we arrived at the hospital. He had been hit by a car and died almost instantly. In a flash, his life was over. God had known all along which day my father's life would be required of him. Sadly, we had failed to live as though each day could be the last. And now he was gone forever.

As I stared down at his lifeless body, I began to see him differently. Yes, he was still filthy from living a life on the streets. His hair was still a tangled, matted mess from months without a shower or a comb. His teeth were still rotted and missing from years of neglect. But I didn't notice it anymore. I no longer saw him as a worthless burden to pass off, or a loser wasting his life away.

Instead, I began to see him as a real person. A person whom the Lord Himself knit together in his mother's womb. A person who was created by God with a purpose and a plan. A person who was heading in the wrong direction, desperately wicked, depraved, and consumed by sin. A person whom the Lord led all the way across the country to sleep on my couch. A person the Lord placed in my hands to care for, nurture, and share my faith with. A person who will now spend eternity in Hell. Because of his poor choices, yes. Because he failed to call upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save him from his sin. But also because I failed, no, downright refused to complete the task the Lord called me to do, before the time that the Lord had appointed to end the life of my father.

How many people are in our lives each and every day that do not know the Lord? How many people do we tell ourselves we will share our faith with, and never do? How many of them do we put off witnessing to, just so we can keep the peace between us? How many people has the Lord placed in our lives for a specific season, to fulfill a specific purpose? How many of us say nothing to them because we are afraid we do not know all of the answers to the questions they will ask?

Through which glasses will we be looking when we see the next homeless person holding their sign on the side of the road? For me, I will be seeing my father. Someone's father. Someone's son. Someone heading in the wrong direction, desperately wicked, depraved, and consumed by sin. Someone a lot like me, before my heart was broken before the Lord and my eyes were opened to my own depravity and desperate need for the Savior.

Sometimes, there is a need to make others happy, and sometimes it is necessary to love someone enough to allow them to face the consequences of the choices they have made. The Lord loves us in a similar way. Sometimes, in His perfect provision, He chooses to bless us, and it truly makes us happy. But sometimes, as a loving Father, He shows us discipline by allowing us to face our own consequences.

Rory had his consequences. I thought I was helping him face them. But in the process, I allowed my heart to become jaded and hardened, refusing to do the very thing I knew the Lord wanted me to do for Rory. And the Lord, in his great sovreignty, allowed me to face the consequences of my decisions, too.