Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tim Hill's Engaged!

My brother "popped the question" Tuesday night and Kristen said yes! For those of you who don't know, Tim is going to Central Baptist Seminary East in Virginia Beach, VA and has been dating a great girl that I was able to meet this summer.
Here's the story straight from him:
"After a long four months of papers, presentations, reading, and projects, Kristen and I planned to go out to dinner to celebrate the end of the school semester. It was to be her treat as a "congratulations" for finishing up. I still had one more paper left to complete, but since she was leaving to go home to Michigan on Thursday, we planned on Tuesday night as our "date night." Tuesday night also marked the eve of 13 months of dating. I had been doing some planning, however, and knew that tonight would be more than simply an "end of the semester" celebration.

You see last week, which was actually one the busiest times of the semester, I made time to do a little bit of—shopping. A friend had given me a phone number for the "ring lady," so on Tuesday I met with her to pick out something nice. I found something I liked. I went back on Wednesday (in between school reading) to confirm the setting and to see it looked like with the rock in it. However, at the end of the meeting, I wasn't quite sure that what I had picked out fit Kristen's personality. And I was worried the band might be too bulky. I had already told the lady "yes" and left to go home, but my mind was not settled. Well, I kept thinking about it and wondering about it. That evening I went over to give a get-well card to my girlfriend who had come home early from school that day because of sickness. As I sat with her, I looked at her hand and pictured what the ring might look like on it. I wasn't sold.

Instead of paying for the ring that night as scheduled, I called the lady back and asked to see more bands. Thursday afternoon I was back over looking at more options, praying for God's wisdom. She showed me a few more that she had in stock, one already looked much more like Kristen. We were on the right track. After a few more minutes of looking, she kind of gave an "Oh," and pulled out another ring. It was beautiful. Amazing! It was a white gold setting that was just perfect—it was delicate, feminine—everything that fit Kristen. And it was a little bit different—which fit me! J I was sold. She could have it to me by Monday.

Hmm…still needed to call her dad. I had previously swiped her parents' cell and home number—figured it might come in handy some time. But after trying the cell and getting a lady's voice, I realized I didn't have her Dad's cell number. Kristen's roommate, who was helpful as far as a ring size goes, proved to be helpful yet again in procuring her dad's cell number. Called him, Thursday. Got the OK. Things were rolling.

As I had previously said, we had already made plans to celebrate the end of the semester. Perfect! She wouldn't even see it coming! And I got to pick the location. So, on what seemed like a whim, we were headed over Tuesday night to Regent University Campus and the Swan Terrace Restaurant. Also at this time of year, they have a section on campus behind the restaurant all lit up for the holidays: A nice, romantic place to walk around after dinner. (Funny—on the way over, Kristen saw the lights and said, "Oh Tim, could we walk around there after dinner?" Could she make this any easier?)

Dinner was excellent. We had a fireplace table for two—thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere and each other's company. I had previously placed the box in my inside coat pocket. Minor point: the ring box had a light inside of it that shone when the box was opened. Pretty cool. So, after dinner while in the restroom, I made the switch from my inside coat pocket to my outside coat pocket—more accessible. And we headed over to see the lights.

They were beautiful and right next to the lake on campus. Trees and bushes were all lit up in a myriad of white lights as Christmas music floated through the evening air. (Funny: a thought went through Kristen's mind which she immediately brushed aside—"This would be the perfect place to get engaged.") After walking around and through the lights we sat down on a park bench. As we sat together and enjoyed the sounds and scenery, I wondered if now was the time. A few people lingered in the area, and others would occasionally come and go. I thought it would be best away from other people—so we could enjoy the moment together. As we sat there, Kristen looked over to a covered walkway and asked if those were more lights she saw over there. So we got up and walked that direction. (Like I said before, could she make it any easier?) Once under the walkway, we turned back to look at the lights and just stood there to admire the sight before us. I knew it was the time. I pulled out the box and opened it. Kristen was shocked. I dropped to one knee—and well…

she said Yes.

Then came the phone calls, and text messages, and showing everyone. What an exciting evening!

So everyone…we're engaged!"


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Letter 2006

(This is my 2006 Christmas letter, for those of you unfortunate souls who will not receive a hard copy, if you are interested...)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,

Whew. Now that this week is nearly over I feel I can finally sit down to write that Christmas letter I’ve been meaning to get to all month.

I will try to give you a synopsis of what I’ve been up to this year by first telling you how the last month has gone.

The last couple weeks have flown by as I’ve been going from one thing to the next—mostly from rehearsals and more rehearsals to programs and more programs! This week we had a K5-3rd grade program on Tuesday night and a 4th-6th grade program on Thursday night. Monday the Jr. High and high school choirs sang at the mall. Sunday afternoon I had a small piano recital between cantata practices for church. Last week was our first-ever Preschool only Christmas program on Thursday night. So I have been working on helping to get these programs together (thankfully I’m not really “in charge” of any of them except for my own recitals) and making PowerPoints for the big nights. That’s probably why this Christmas letter will be late…Oh yes, I finally got my Christmas tree up at home too.

Things are starting to slow down now as there are only a few days left in school before Christmas vacation. Our church musical is this Sunday, so there’s only one more practice for that. And next week I am having one more piano recital for the rest of my students. Then I am looking forward to traveling and seeing my family!

I am still enjoying my job at Faith Christian School ( teaching piano and accompanying. I also enjoy being on the Worship Team for church and playing the piano on Sundays. It seems there always a special event going on too that I am involved in.

I think since my last letter came out the main thing I have to share with you is my new puppy—Juju (Jubal Lee), whom I took home at 9 weeks old in June. She weighed about 9 pounds then, and is up to close to 50 pounds now at 8 months old—complete with puppy energy to go with it. She is a German shepherd mix—supposed to have lab, chow, retriever, and who knows what else. She loves everybody and everything and is a very happy dog when she can be around people—or chewing on something (hopefully not my shoes or socks or dirty clothes or towels—some of her favorites).

My summer project (other than training a puppy and reading all the dog books from the library) was getting my youngest sister Sarah’s room ready for her to move into. I painted it red and helped her decorate (well, I helped her find what she was looking for) when she moved in in August.

I have been having fun this year with all the “new toys” I got this summer. I am more set up to spend time at home, as now I have my MacBook to work on projects at home (it was nice this week to be able to search for clip art in my leisure time at home instead of at school). I have a piano now at home so I don’t HAVE to go to church to practice (although I don’t use it all that much—but it’s nice that it’s there). And having a dog to come home to and a sister around helps to enjoy my house…and remind me to keep it clean, as Juju is great for making lots of messes (ripping up stuffed animals, getting in the trash) and reminding me to vacuum. Having Sarah around as a housemate helps me remember to do the dishes (as there are more of them now) and take out the trash (as that seems to multiply) too.

This year has been a transitioning year as I have had to make changes to my “single, carefree” lifestyle by adopting more responsibilities with a puppy and a roommate. So now I have a little “family” in my house—that takes more work and more communicating, but I guess that’s all part of life. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking by wanting to have these things to care for…but in the long run I know it is helping me to actually become more like Christ by working on new areas of growth in my own life and stretching me a little more.

I think the biggest concept God has been reminding me of this past year is not to think too highly of “my” things—now that I have to share them. I have been used to being the only person that touches “my stuff.” So it’s been good for me to realize that it’s okay if your sister loads things onto YOUR computer, or if the carpet gets a spot on it (the house is meant to be lived in, not as a showpiece). It’s all right if your sister invites people over to the house, even if it means more work for you. Whatever happens to “stuff” is okay—if your sister dents your garage door or burns your stove covers, if you leave your dog out and she chews lip gloss on the carpet, knocks a homemade cheesecake on the floor, digs holes in the yard, or spills orange juice on your laptop—I want to respond to these things in such a way that I can give a good account to God. (And not leave these things in her reach ever again!) I want to be a good steward of what God has entrusted me with—we are only here on earth for a short time anyway, and our material goods are only given to us to maintain for a short time. But we will be held accountable for the way we interact with people in our speech, thoughts, and actions.

So Merry Christmas to all, and may we all be seeking to progress in our sanctification as we grow closer to God than we have ever been before.

I look forward to hearing from all of you as well.

Love in Christ, the Greatest Gift of all,
Beth Hill
& Juju

Post #100

This is post #100. Sounds like a milestone. Congratulations to me!

Monday, December 18, 2006

O Christmas Tree

Whew. I have survived the Christmas programs!! Everything went mostly fine...the PowerPoint didn't work for the first half of the preschool program, and we had one kid throw up in the grand finale of the K5-3rd program, but otherwise they mostly went off without a hitch. Singing at the mall, 4th-6th grade program, and the church musical yesterday went very well.

Now I am finally able to get some things done, like cleaning off my desk, getting my Christmas lists in order, writing a Christmas letter, planning for Christmas shopping, etc. I have an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow, and I am also enjoying reading the book "House" by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker.

Saturday December 9 I was able to put up my Christmas tree! G-Knee and I went out to her landlord's tree farm and she cut down my tree for me. Go G-KNEE!! I got a 7' balsam that is just gorgeous. After I brought it inside and set it up I discovered there was actually a bird's nest inside it, too! Is that supposed to mean anything?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Congratulations AR 10 Winners!

For the second time in a row, the team I actually wanted to win the Amazing Race has done it successfully!! (See my blog post on October 9.) Congratulations, Tyler & James, for not getting lost on the way to the final pit stop!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This Isn't My House...

...but it'd be cool if it was! (although a lot of work and very expensive, probably)

I love Christmas lights, and I saw a video once of someone who had set their Christmas lights to music so that different ones went off and on as you listened to a festive tune...some sort of gizmo run by a computer and with music broadcast over a radio channel and whatnot.

Last week I saw a news story that there was an actual house about a half-hour away (in Battle Ground) that had done this and was hoping to visit it sometime this season. Well, come to find out, this house just a few blocks away that I walk Juju by almost every night (depending on my route) did the same thing! So just a few blocks away we can enjoy this wonderful phenomenon of dancing Christmas lights. It's pretty cool. Last night Sarah and I drove by, parked, and watched all 3 songs. It was pretty cool!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shopping Weekend

Thanksgiving in Chicago was wonderful, as always. I enjoy my holiday tradition of spending the day after Thanksgiving hitting the streets of downtown Chicago with my friend Jackie. The weather was absolutely gorgeous--as you can see I didn't even need my coat! We just enjoyed window shopping and browsing...the new thing this year was that Macy's bought out Marshall Field's so that store is now Macy's. There were people with signs boycotting the change, but I didn't really notice any change. In fact, I thought the window display (Mary Poppins) was exceptionally good this year. We got out the door nice and early so the streets didn't seem as crowded, but by mid-afternoon the crowds were starting to pick up and the Salvation Army bands were out in full force.

I was also able to enjoy some good relaxing time and watch a couple of fun movies, which I would recommend: The Shaggy Dog (the new one with Tim Allen) and Sky High, if you're in the mood for some family-friendly films!

The weather has been beautiful lately, but they say a change is in the air. The weathermen say there's a possibility of snow accumulation on Friday!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

In Defense of Juju

Sarah is ecstatic that she gets to be home alone with Juju over the next 2 and a half days while I go to Chicago for Thanksgiving. But she IS back on speaking terms with the dog.

In defense of my puppy, she is still only 7 months old, by all accounts still a puppy, and definitely still in the training stages. She is still distracted by all sorts of smells (trash, socks, laundry, food) but is gradually learning what is acceptable and NOT acceptable to chew on. She does well at walking on a leash and is getting really good at sit, and is even learning to heel. She loves water and didn't mind getting a bath tonight. Hopefully the medicated shampoo I tried will help with her itchy skin. She is a vey loveable dog and loves to cuddle (yes, and sit on your lap). I tried to weigh her tonight and came up with about 45 pounds. And she is pretty quiet as she only barks to go outside or when she really wants something. And she is great with kids and other dogs. And VERY friendly with people...

Anyway, have a happy Thanksgiving. At least I am thankful for my puppy, even though she is a handful at times.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Juju and Sarah are Not on Speaking Terms

We had a minor tragedy at home this morning. Think of the worst thing that could happen regarding a cheescake on the counter and a dog, and you can probably guess correctly.

Tonight we are having a dessert fellowship after church--and a contest for the best dessert, so Sarah decided to make a delicious mint cheesecake that we bought special ingredients for and everything. She made it last night and left it to cool on the counter. She even pushed it to the back of the counter because Juju hasn't learned to stop getting onto the counter and eating all the goodies she finds there. She has a thing for anything that smells good or tastes good (even bread and flour). So I got up and fed her breakfast this morning and went back to my bathroom to finish getting ready. I could hear Juju doing something (besides eating) and went back to check on her--she was trying to get on the table where her food was so I commanded her to get "Off!" which she did, then I went back to finish getting ready. The next thing I hear is a loud THUD, which didn't sound good at all. I came in and my worst fears were confirmed. There was the cheesecake lying upside down on the floor (the cleanly washed floor, I might add)--and Juju cowering by the door. I tried to pick up the cheescake but the middle of it remained behind on the floor.

So that's why Sarah and Juju are definitely not on speaking terms. I will try to refrain Sarah from mutilating my poor puppy, as she has already dented the kennel door after finding out.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where has it gone?

Someone told me on Monday that Thanksgiving is next week. I didn't believe them. I had to get out my calendar and look it up for myself. Yup...Thanksgiving IS next week. Where has the month gone? So tonight I am sitting on my couch on a cold, rainy day relaxing by watching a movie, finally having a moment to reflect upon the brevity of the rest of the year, trying to remember what I've been doing this month.

The first weekend of the month I spent helping Laurie Dutton (& Titus Justus) with music at an Elizabeth George conference an hour north of here. That was a long rehearsal night but an enjoyable day at the Saturday women's conference.

We had a big Veterans Day chapel that I was in charge of getting the powerpoint ready for last week.

Last Saturday I had piano students involved in an all-day festival where I was also helping to get the rooms set up and cleaned up afterward. I gave Theory tests in the morning and judged repertoire in the afternoon.

This week has been our 4th-6th grade Fine Arts Festival at school. Monday I accompanied for some brass players. Tuesday I was in charge of the piano festival, and Thursday is my day to accompany a whole host of elementary singers!

Sunday is a big day for music at church, too. We have a big Praise & Thanksgiving service at church, complete with 3 choir numbers, congregational music, and specials. So we have a rehearsal on Sunday afternoon for that too.

Otherwise I haven't been up to much besides my normal schedule of piano teaching and accompanying--and squeezing in a chapter or two of some of the latest Karen Kingsbury books, which are hard to put down!

I am really looking forward to this Saturday when I can get caught up on some housecleaning and rest!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Finally! If you will remember, the last time I tried to vote I drove around looking for my polling place and never was able to find it--after visiting 2 other polling places. THIS time I only visited 3 wrong polling places (4 if you count my church) before finding my name on "the list."

Okay, so I asked my neighbor where he votes: the fire station. So I went to the Fire Station. She asked me where I lived (Lexington Farms) and told me I needed to go to a church just on the other side of my subdivision. Okay, that made sense because it was right nearby where I lived. But, no luck there either. No name on "the list." They said to try my old polling place (where I had tried to vote last time around), so I drove off to where I used to live and checked there. They DID find my name on the computer there--and I was off to find that same Methodist Church that I was unable to find last time. Okay, I thought your polling place was supposed to be somewhere nearby where you live. I drove a LONG way away and FOUND the church (thanks bro for pointing me in the right direction). I FINALLY voted, which took a grand total of 5 seconds (or so)--and they were OUT of stickers! Come on, I was consoling myself that at least I would FINALLY get my sticker. Thankfully, the lady that was working there gave me the sticker off of her own sweater! AND I filled out an address change form.

But I don't understand how I moved from one precinct to another and my name appears on a 3rd precinct that I have never lived in--with my old address still on the "new" precinct. Whatever. The only thing I can figure is that possibly when I got my drivers licensed changed that they started changing my precinct and it ended up being changed erroneously? I have no clue. But I voted!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 1st Anniversary to my dear sister Rachel and her husband Mathew Eliason!!

Here's a picture to commemorate the occasion!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Pride Issue

Here's a theological issue for you. I have recently realized what a proud person I am. I'm sure I will struggle with this all of my life, but I have been really made aware of it lately and have been trying to work on this area.

"Some counselors [people] emphasize doctrine and the exegesis of God's word as if they could stand alone, divorced from life. That's pride: knowledge by itself puffs up. Others of us may emphasize practical application to life without careful study of how God's word must undergird practice, thus offering mere morality without a vital connection to life in Christ. With such an epidemic of pride, the virtue of humility is perenially on the endangered list." --Stuart Scott ("Pursue the Servant's Mindset," Journal of Biblical Counseling, Vol. 17 No. 3 1999) (Thank you, Sarah, for this article.)

What a challenge to find that balance between the two! I think I used to be in the camp to emphasize doctrine back in college days, but found it challenging to apply to the "real world." Now I have been working on practical application, and seem to have swung to the other extreme (mentally) of morality without the undergirding of the Scripture. It is that overarching struggle of having my motivating factor the love of Christ and doing all for His glory. But that is easy to work on doing in my own strength, neglecting my dependence on Christ! Even in doing the "right things" it is easy to be doing it with the wrong motivation. Or it is easy to think "I'm not as bad as that person" without realizing how much of an abomination my proud thoughts are to the most-holy God and how in need of His mercy I am.

In that same article by Stuart Scott, he gives 10 ways to replace pride and work on humility:
1) Focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the author and perfecter of our faith.
2) Be overwhelmed by God's goodness.
3) Commune with God.
4) Serve others.
5) Obey God's revealed will in all things.
6) Learn from others.
7) Encourage others.
8) Pursue integrity in private as well as public life.
9) Deny self by assuming no rights, living unto Christ, buffeting the body, keeping it under subjection, exercising yourself unto godliness, mortifying sins and the deeds of the flesh.
10) Think rightly or soberly about yourself while bowing low before God and others.

Philippians 2:1-16

Okay, here's another publishing this on my blog am I hoping to be open and honest with my struggles or am I merely being proud about my handling of this acknowledgement of pride? Just throwing that out there.

Lord, I confess I am guilty of not giving You first place in my actions and thoughts. With Your help, help my motives to be God-honoring and may I work on acknowleding my dependence on you daily in Bible study and prayer.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Last Saturday Sarah and I took a day trip to Chicago. We got to see the NBBC women's volleyball team play a tournament game (for a 3rd place finish) at Moody Bible Institute. Sarah was able to see her old roomies, so that was very fun for her.

In the afternoon we went to the CHEESECAKE FACTORY for lunch (appetizer, salad, and brownie cheesecake). We were very full.

Then we walked to Navy Pier and just enjoyed walking around. The weather was gorgeous, and it was even a little warm when you were in the sun. We walked back along Michigan Avenue and enjoyed a treat at the Ghirardelli shop before heading back home to Lafayette.

Along the way we ran across this piece of "modern art" as well...

CHICAGO is fun!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quote of the Day

Conversation today with Jennifer, a 2nd grader:

Me: "Okay, a TRI-angle has 3 sides, a TRI-cycle has 3 wheels, how many notes does a TRI-ad have?"

Jennifer: "And a POP-sicle has stuff inside that tastes really yummy!"


Friday, October 27, 2006

No Salt Added

"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing..." Matthew 5:13 (KJV)

I was recently posed the question, "So, how are we as Christians like salt?" I'm still not sure of the answer to that one. Do we give flavor to the world? Do we spice things up? I'll have to study this passage again to remember how exactly we as Christians relate to salt (comments welcome), but I had an illustration in my own life recently that reminded me how bland things are without salt.

I was trying to add a little more health (and color!) to my evening meal of macaroni and cheese AND baked beans, so I heated up a can of peas to throw into the mix. Those peas looked so nice and green on the plate next to the macaroni/baked beans mix--until I took a bite. YUCK! Unsalted??! Did I accidentally buy unsalted peas? I pulled the can out of the trash. Yup: "No Salt Added."

Those peas looked the same, were the same temperature as normal, yummy peas, BUT definitely did NOT taste the same! are Christians supposed to relate to salt??

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Fall

Here's a cool pic I took of the red maple tree in my front yard...yes, you are right. This picture was NOT taken this week! This is quite a few weeks old now; it was a beautiful day; I was home for lunch, and the sky was so blue and the tree was so red I just had to take a picture. But I hadn't downloaded it until now. Yep, Sarah's at work so I get a shot at the computer tonight! :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Poor Puppy

Little, 40-pound Juju is recovering from surgery. She had her routine operation to be spayed ("neutered") on Monday. Bob Barker would be proud. I brought her in to the vet around 7:45 and picked her up at 2:30. She was definitely still under the "influence," unsteady on her feet, droopy, and just prepared to sleep. I think this was the first day she didn't have an evening walk of some sort. She was pretty out of it. She has pain meds for the next 2 days, but they said she should be back to normal in a day or so! (She was feeling well enough at 2 AM to start digging through the trash again!)

Monday, October 23, 2006


I did something unusual on Friday night...Sarah and I went to IHOP at 11:00 p.m. Friday night for pancakes! It was great fun...partly because I'd already gotten a couple of hours of sleep so I wasn't totally exhausted. Plus that's the kind of thing I have kind of wanted to do for...ever. We thought there would be a few people there, but let me tell you that IHOP was really HOPPING that night! They were a little overwhelmed. People kept streaming in--apparently there was some deal about a football game that night or other things going on. And they only had 2 waitresses on the floor, but they did a really good job at keeping everything going. I had chocolate chip pancakes and hot chocolate. By the way--it was really cold outside! (Sarah had just come from a College class bonfire and verified the nippiness.) It was great fun to go hopping to IHOP.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Are You Ready?

I just saw this one-minute video today. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wicked-ly Cool

Here's a shot outside the Ford Oriental Theatre where we got to see the musical "Wicked" on Friday night! Their voices were incredible! If you don't know what "Wicked" is, it is a twist and the "actual stories" of the witches from The Wizard of Oz. It takes place before, during, and after the story of the Wizard of Oz and tells how the Wicked Witch of the West is born green, accidentally finds her "gift" for magic, and how she really has a good heart but is misunderstood. She is roommates with Glinda the Good Witch in college (who is a really ditzy blond) can also find the backgrounds of the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow. The guy who wrote the story is pretty warped theologically, but it was a cute story. I have also seen Les Mis and Phantom, and it is hard to compare this Broadway to those. I would have to say that "Wicked" is more of a "cartoon" feel (with comedic one-liners and not true-to-life characters) while Phatom and Les Mis are "real" stories that are more like old classic films that never go out of style. But "Wicked" was fun to watch, and I do like the music.

Sarah & Breanna Booth at Giordano's Pizza (on Saturday).

The group of 8 of us went out to eat at Giordano's Pizza (yes, I ate there TWICE in 2 days!) before the show and enjoyed some good Chicago-style pizza.

Saturday Sarah and I enjoyed walking Michigan Avenue and shopping and sightseeing. Chicago is so fun to visit!! We actually had SNOW in the air on Thursday, but by Saturday it had warmed up into the 50's so I didn't even need my hat and scarf.

Of course, there is more I could share, but those are the highlights!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

In the Windy City

I'm in my hotel room in Schaumburg, IL right now, posting from my snazzy laptop. We (basically all of the teachers from my school) are attending a Teacher's Conference (for AACS in both IL and IN) here in Schaumburg. Jana Pendl and I are staying together, and we were just looking up places to visit tomorrow when we go DOWNTOWN Chicago. And the best part is that we're going to go see the musical show "Wicked" at the Ford Theatre! Tomorrow night at 8:00. I can hardly wait!!!!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Amazing Race

I saw Episode 4 of the Amazing Race 10 last night, in which some wonderful things happened. I won't give it away for those of you who haven't seen it yet, but I was very happy with the way things turned out. I am enjoying rooting for Tyler & James, although the "beauty queens" aren' so bad either, and I was finding myself hoping they would stay in the race and do well. Rob & Kimberly and their "communication skills" drive me crazy!

I just visited the AR website, and I must confess to being disappointed. There isn't nearly the information and fun stuff that they used to have on the website: more info on each team, polls, pictures of various race moments. The only pic I could find worthwhile was this tiny picture of Tyler & James. Now it's all videos and a big Sprint commercial. And the videos don't play on my work computer because I don't have the latest "Macromedia Flash Player," apparently, and I can't download it.

But anyway, I still enjoy watching the Amazing Race! Now we're down to 7 teams!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Grandparents' Day!

(5th Graders at Recess)
Whew! I made it through Grandparents' Day! (BIG *sigh* of relief) Yesterday Grandparents' Day moved me to tears but the program today went very fact, I don't think it really could have gone better! The preschoolers sang well. No one fell off the risers or threw up or fainted. The remote worked for me to click through the powerpoint. I didn't forget any powerpoint slides. There was a man in the sound room who knew what he was doing and didn't miss any mic cues (even though he had never rehearsed with us). I had about 60 pictures to scroll through beforehand when on Wednesday I had 0. (Thanks to all the teachers for donating pictures...that's also where I got these cute pictures from...going around and taking pictures of random kids doing random school things to show in a presentation beforehand...which got put together at 7:30 this morning!) The Piano Prelude went well and was even the right length!
I am thankful that I also had a good night's sleep last night (unlike some previous years) and woke up with new ideas on my mind and things to get done this morning, but it all worked out.
But I am SO THANKFUL that it's over!
I have to admit that the last few days I have NOT been relying on the strength of the Lord. I have been trying to do everything in my own strength. That definitely leads to frustration and tiredness! As I was sitting down and finally enjoying the program today; I was reminded that I should be relying on God just as I was relying on the remote that I held in my hand that when I clicked it would advance to the next slide (or sound effect). (Well, theologically I'm sure that's not totally accurate, but I think you get the idea.)
There are special blessings that come as we rely upon God, too. He also provides us with others who are available to meet our needs. I'm thankful I have friends that will bring me food for supper (like the Knolhoffs did last night) and a sister who can let out and feed my dog (thanks, Sarah).
It is so easy to try to do things on our own, but that's why God gives us a church family and the Body of Christ to come alongside us and strengthen us and take off some of the load.
On a side note, I am also thankful for the fellowship I was also able to enjoy with Aunt Louise while she was visiting this week. She commuted to Indy every day, but we were able to chat as we took our evening walks with the dogs and when we were able to go to Cracker Barrel Wednesday night. Oh yes. And watching the Dutton kids went well, thanks to Sarah and her schedule. I've been to more soccer and volleyball games than ever now thanks to them!
But God's grace is definitely sufficient!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy Birthday, Tim!

I would like to dedicate this post to my brother Tim (whose myspace I got this lovely picture from). I do have to make a disclaimer on the Myspace, though...Tim's roommate made it for it's a pretty funny site but not always too accurate to real life. Tim turns 27 today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRO!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Company's Coming!

I know all of you dedicated readers (yeah, right) have been eagerly awaiting a new post. I don't know how much time I'll have to post in the next week or so because I'm getting ready for company!

Sarah and I had company over Sunday night too when Sarah made some delicious food and the Heim family came over to play a game (we ended up playing Scattergories).

Now we get to clean again because my Aunt Louise and her schnauzer Chara are coming on Friday to stay with us until the next Thursday so my aunt can attend the NANC Conference in Indianapolis. It looks as if Sarah and I will also be babysitting the Dutton kids from Monday-Wednesday, too while Mark & Laurie are at the NANC Conference.

It's also getting crazy at school starting to prepare for Grandparents' Day on Friday, October 6!!

So this next week I'll be having company!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Weekend Craziness

This weekend was a busy one.

Friday night we met two ladies from church and rode with them down to Indianapolis so Sarah could participate in her first 5K race (3 miles). It was one of the features of this Irish Festival going on that weekend. So while they ran I looked around at the booths and listened to all kinds of Irish bands playing. Sarah did really well, placing 14 of 34 in her age group and running the 3 miles in about 26 minutes. We didn't get home until after 11:00 p.m.

Then Saturday morning we got up to go tailgating with some more friends from church at the Purdue football game! Sarah had to work later so she didn't get a ticket to the game, but my friends got me a ticket so I was able to enjoy watching my first college football game. Although I think it is actually easier to pay attention to the game when you are watching it on TV as there are so many distractions at a "live" football game!! It was a beautiful, hot day.

And, oh yes, the main reason we went to that particular game was that the half-time presentation was by all the area high school's marching bands playing with Purdue's marching band. So our Faith Christian marching band was right there on the field, too. If you look closely in these pictures you can see their maroon t-shirts on the FAR side of the field!So Friday and Saturday were pretty busy.
Then Sunday night I had a friend over to watch the first episode of the new Amazing Race!
It was a very fun weekend!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Resetting the Clocks

Lately we've had quite a few thunderstorms that have caused the power to blink off at home, causing a thousand and one clocks to start flashing "reset me!" "reset me!" (you didn't know I had that many clocks at home, did you? I didn't either). We had a doozy of a storm on Tuesday night between 8 and 9; the power went out at least twice, and the lightning was just awesome! But anyway, it seems that just the time I get around to finally setting the clocks, the power will blink off again--and there goes all that work down the drain! In fact, I don't think I've even reset the clock in my bathroom yet. It's probably still flashing at this very moment.

Okay, spiritual application. Even though it's a pain to have to reset clocks when the electricity goes out, it is a good idea to check them and make sure that they are all running at the right time (or even a few minutes fast). It was a good reminder to me to do the same kind of "reset" in my spiritual life. The beginning of the school year is a good time to "reset the clocks" and begin afresh with personal Bible reading and prayer and setting new goals. It's also not a good idea to be stuck in the "flashing 12:00" mode where I am stuck in limbo. I need to be moving forward with a purpose, on track, sync'ed (sp?) up with my Master.

Monday, September 11, 2006


5 years ago today...we remember.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Livin' With My Sister

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when my sister moved in with me last month. I mean, I've been living by myself for 6 years now, how hard was it going to be to change that??

There were some things I was looking forward to...namely, another person to help pay those house payments! So more income for ME is always a good thing! :) I was also looking forwad to having some accountability at home: someone to help keep me accountable to make sure I'm having my devotions, not watching too much TV, and eating right and exercising. And also I was looking forward to having someone else around to go along with me to various events and to help share in my activities.

But there were some concerns I had...namely, how much will I have to sacrifice with someone else in the house--wanting to watch her own TV programs or eat her own type of food? Or how much am I going to have to be the "big sister" and remind her to get her oil changed, check her antifreeze, pitch in around the house, or pay the rent? Will she want to be totally on her own and never want to be around me at all?

Some of the things I was expecting from a roommate have pros and cons, of course. I wanted an incentive to have more people over and be hospitable and do more with reaching out and getting to know others. But since that area is a stretch for me, having a people person such as Sarah who LOVES those kinds of activities may be a bit of an area of growth. Plus I've learned a lot about myself in the last few years--how I work, what the habits I naturally fall into are, what I like and don't like. And are those habits bad or good? Is it all right to enjoy a Saturday lazily cleaning the house and maybe taking a break for a few hours to read a book or watch TV if I really enjoy that, or do I need to be out going somewhere and doing something?

I tend to be an old-fashioned, stick-to-the-schedule, I-always-do-it-this-way-what's-wrong-with-that? type of person. Sarah's the spontaneous, let's-go-shopping-right-now-even-though-it's-9:00-p.m. type. So that's good for me; I should be spontaneous every once in a while. It's okay to have change, but it's not always my favorite thing. I guess where I'm at right now with that is, Is it okay that I feel that way and don't want to go out driving in the middle of the night or is that something I should be trying to work on and not live by my feelings? Is it okay for me to want to stay home and spend some time with this new dog that I got since I really do enjoy that?

But, overall, I can say that things have turned out even better than I had expected. I had remembered us as being pretty different in our likes and dislikes, but we actually do have a lot in common. We do like a lot of the same types of food (although I'm not a big fan of Chinese and that's Sarah's favorite). We both like to eat healthy (although we both have our own areas of splurging!) and I've discovered (thanks to Sarah) that I'm a fan of tuna with relish. I've also discovered (from Sarah) what a great idea peanut butter and banana on a BAGEL is! We both pitch in and clean on our days off. Sarah's been a great help in loading and running the dishwasher, doing laundry, and occasionally vacuuming. One thing that I thought might bother her is my messy coffeetable, but she leaves stuff around the living room TOO so it's all good!! We love to watch movies together since we have a lot of the same taste there. And she has encouraged me to do Tae Bo with her, too, which is a good stretch for me. And Sarah has a great love for people and has a real heart for wanting to reach out to others. I love her taste in decorating, too. She has really grown up into a lovely young adult and I look forward to having her around to get to know better.

It's great to know that we can always be growing and changing, and I've had lots of new opportunities this past year with both the puppy (trying to be more scheduled) and with my great sis!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rules of Thumb

Three rules I have discovered in the past 3 days:

1) Always use your mirrors when backing out of the garage.

2) Be extremely cautious when setting a glass of orange juice somewhere that your puppy can spill it on your laptop.

3) No matter how late you are running, always put your puppy outside first thing in the morning. Period.

*sigh* It's been an interesting three days...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Puppy Update

Juju is now 4 months old. Her last visit to the vet was last Friday, when she received her final set of vaccinations and her rabies shot. She weighed in at 26 pounds!! The vet says you can estimate their adult weight by doubling it at 4 months, so she will probably grow to twice her size now: 50 pounds or so.

She is doing well with potty-training; in fact, I'd say she's pretty well potty-trained, although you still have to make sure she's let out frequently. But she is fine being left in the kitchen for 4-5 hours at a time (although one of us is usually home after 3-4 hours of "alone time"). We have taken to keeping the garbage can and kitchen towels up on the counter out of reach, though!

She loves water and loves to dump her water bowl all over the kitchen floor...many times a day, if possible! And of course she is in the chewing stage, which they say puppies go through between 4-6 months, growing in their new adult teeth. So she always has to have something in her mouth. And she really craves a good 20-30 minute walk each evening! But I'm glad not to have a "barky" dog, because she generally only barks at me if she wants attention, a walk, food, or when she wants to come inside.

She does really well socially. She loves to play with the neighborhood dogs and kids and loves to run around the yard. She knows sit, stay, down, shake, and speak really well, and is doing pretty well with come.

She has graduated from sleeping in her crate/kennel (which she has incidentally now outgrown and needs a new one before I can confine her in one again) to sleeping in my bedroom with me. Yes, I let her sleep on the bed!

She still has a lot of puppy energy, but I think she doing pretty well for a four-month old dog!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Piles & Piles

Piles, piles of stuff. I have many piles. Usually papers and books. Why do I have piles?? I've been asking that question to myself lately. If I put the books that I've been wanting to read on the bookshelf, I will forget that I haven't read them yet, so therefore they must be in a pile by my bed. Magazines...I probably haven't read the last 10 magazines I've received, thus they are in a pile somewhere to read. A pile of unopened mail that I haven't gotten around to yet. A small pile of bills to pay the first of the month. Piles of music to give to students. Piles of music to put back on the shelf. A pile of music to go through and see what I want to keep. A pile of dishes in the sink to wash (or load into the dishwasher). Piles of folded clothes (or not so folded) to put away.

I have some excuses for these piles, but I don't know if they are really valid reasons to have piles or not. It takes energy to take care of a pile, whether it be reading the material or washing the dishes...many days I don't have much energy when I get home (at least not for that kind of stuff) so a lot of times I wait for a day that I can get up in the morning and have a fresh start on this stuff (i.e., Saturday). Saturdays are great days to sort through piles!

Another excuse is that I tend to be a visual person and will totally forget about something if it has been "stored away" somewhere.

And the last reason to have piles is that there is no place yet designated to store the aforementioned "stuff."

The bad thing about having piles is that you get used to it. And sometimes I let things "pile up" in my spiritual life. Whoops. Forgot to have my devotions for the last 5 I have to read 10 chapters of Deuteronomy in one sitting (as an example). Can I really make it a point/habit to take care of some of these things EVERY day??

There is a whole lot of accomplishment derived from taking care of a pile. Sometimes it is very freeing to get things taken care of in the short term and not have a whole pile of "dishes" or whatever sitting in the sink. So I'm not trying to make excuses, I'm just trying to figure out why I do things the way I do and if they should be done that way or not.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Piano

Okay, I know I said I had decide what to get this year: a Mac, a dog, or a piano. Well, the Lord provided all three for me this summer in His time! A friend had an acquaintance trying to get rid of a piano, so I decided I would at least look at it. I had been hoping to spend only about $500 or $600, and this piano (once I got there) was quoted to me as $800. But it appeared to be in very good condition, hadn't been moved for a long time...also hadn't been tuned in 3 years, but I did like the feel of it, even though it's only a "Cable" brand. I looked at it on a Thursday, I think, then that Sunday night (we didn't have church) a group of guys from the Career Class jumped into a car from the softball game they had at church and loaded it up onto a lift truck that another man from church had. I didn't have to even lift the bench! Praise the Lord for a great church family! I haven't written about it yet because this all happened the week right BEFORE Sarah came to live with me, so I've been kind of busy since then! We have played the piano, although now it desperately needs tuning, but a co-worker from school has offered his services to come tune it for me, and he's not even going to let me pay him. Jehovah-Jireh!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I heard some bad news today. I found out that one of my "favorite" students at school--a Senior!--was expelled from school due to a bad decision he made at the high school retreat. I honestly don't know much more than that as to what exactly the offense was (although a girl was expelled as well)--and I don't need to know--but this just makes me very sad and disappointed. I'm sure this student had no intententions of wrongdoing but just let wrong thinking get in the way. I hope and pray that he doesn't allow this wrong thinking to become a manner of life, but accepts God's forgiveness and allows this to strengthen his resolve to walk with the Lord.

It is so easy to make "stupid" decisions...but our actions do have consequences. It is VERY easy and tempting to think that one little thing won't make a difference, or it won't matter if I do this one wrong thing that lasts but a fleeting moment...but that's a lie. What we do will affect not only the rest of our school year but quite possibly the rest of our lives. (I know I will definitely miss this person around school.) We never even realize sometimes how our actions affect those around us--especially those who look up to us. It is so easy to want to do something "stupid" (I know I am tempted sometimes!) UNLESS we are keeping our focus on God and His marvelous plan for our lives.

I believe Pastor Viars is planning to speak from the life of Jonah soon and how his actions had consequences for those around him. Just think of the men on the ship with Jonah who almost drowned! I need to keep an eternal focus whenever I am tempted to think that what I do will only affect me. That is definitely not true.

This is also a good reminder to me of how important it is to keep being daily renewed in my mind (Rom. 12:1-2, Phil. 4:8) or else it is easy to just get caught up in the worldly things of the moment. By spending time with the Lord EACH DAY (which is a struggle for me) I am helping myself to make right choices and, more importantly (what I need to work on) to think right thoughts.

(BTW, since this is a matter of common knowledge, I don't see this blog as gossip, but rather just sharing my thoughts and what I have learned and been reminded of through this situation in MY life.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

All Moved In

Well, my little sis Sarah is here and all moved in to her red room! She came down on Tuesday night, followed close behind by my parents, who had most of her stuff packed away in their minivan. We spent pretty much ALL day Wednesday, Thursday, and again Friday going through her stuff and my stuff, figuring out where to put things and organizing. Mom and Dad were a HUGE help in buying organizers and getting the garage laid out really nice so we can put both cars in the garage! (Dad even put the finishing touch on my hanging tennis balls from the ceiling right so we know how far in the garage to park!)

Mom and Dad were thinking of leaving Friday but stayed one more day to finish helping get organized. We even spent a few hours at my office getting a few things moved around!

But we did take some breaks to eat out at some of the fine dining establishments in town (Cracker Barrel, IHOP, and Hunan Chinese Cuisine)...thanks Dad!

We were so busy I did NOT take any pictures, but I will have to snag a few soon of some of the new things.

Oh, have I posted about the PIANO yet? I have not...oh, I will have to post about that, too. I got a piano LAST week!!

Okay. Enough for now.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Speck

Can you find the earth in this photo?
Today in our Teacher In-Service meetings, Dr. Frank Hamrick, our speaker, showed us this pretty cool pic taken from space. This is a picture of the earth taken from a satellite headed out to Pluto; it had been traveling about 140 miles a second for 20 years. Can you find the earth in a sunbeam? We're just SPECKS on THAT speck!!! How great is our GOD!

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Psalm 8:3-4

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

I dedicate this post to my littlest sis, Sarah, who turned 22 yesterday (August 7). She is done with college and is ready to be out on her own, so she is coming to live with ME in Lafayette next week (probably August 15) and find a job. I'm looking forward to having her with me. Her red room is all painted and she is looking forward to furnishing it herself (after I get her a bed.) Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

My sister Rachel got her and her husband tickets to the NASCAR race this Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Allstate 400 at the Brickyard). So they got to come down and stay with me from Friday night (I beat them home by half an hour) until they left this morning (Monday) at 9:30 a.m. They also brough their dog Reeses--so Juju had her "chew toy" again! We drove around and did some shopping here in Lafayette on Saturday. They came to church with me for the 9:30 service Sunday morning, then left at 11:00 to head to Indy to catch the beginning of the 2:30 race. (The dogs and I had a good nap on Sunday afternoon, though.) Matt & Rachel said they were able to still get there an hour before the race and hang around a little afterward. Their backs were a little redder when they got back because of being out in the 90-degree temperatures and the beating sun. But they said they had good seats in the "H" section (by Turn 4 and the entrance to the Pits) and were able to have the Jumbotron in front of them. It sounded like they had a good time, even though Matt's favorite driver is Jeff Gordon and he did NOT win the race. But now Matt has a Jimmie Johnson hat. And I think they bought a Jeff Gordon T-shirt or two. They came home around 9:30 exhausted from all the walking and from being in the sun. Hope you guys had fun! I enjoyed having you stay here!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pics in Michigan (see post below)

Tim & Kristen

Swimming in Lake Superior at Little Presque Isle

Tim & Kristen at Dead River Falls

Eating a Pasty Supper at Presque Isle

Juju with cousins Tippy & Reeses

I'm Back!

Just wanted to let you know that I arrived back in Lafayette safely after being in Upper Michigan for the last week or so. And, sorry, I am on the computer that I have NOT loaded my pictures on to, but I will try to add pictures from my laptop later today.

I had a fabulous time in Michigan. My friends Jon & Kristie got married. It's hard to believe they are actually married now because I can remember knowing Jon when he was probably about 6 or 7! Their wedding was very nice.

I enjoyed being in my parents' church for Sunday's services. I got to hear my brother preach in the evening service.

But the best thing was just getting to spend time with my family and getting to meet my brother's girlfriend Kristen. It's kind of weird to see him "all grown up" and holding hands with a GIRL...but I survived. And I really like Kristen. She is a very sweet girl. And even though we didn't win all of our games of Rook, she played well. Apples to Apples was very fun too. We played that a LOT! But we never got tired of it. It was also fun to pull out old home videos (especially ones like Tim in the "kissing chair") to show Kristen. I miss those days!

Monday we got to spend that hot day out hiking and swimming. Lake Superior is still cold! But by the time we went swimming it actually felt good. That was the day I got a nice sunburn on my back (which started peeling today) and also jammed a finger. I'm hoping that knuckle will soon be back to normal as it's still sore.

Tuesday and Wednesday nights we spent out at Van Riper National Park in my parents' pop-up camper. (My parents, Tim & Kristen, and myself). Kristen and I shared a bed with Juju, who was helpful in getting us up nice and early in the morning! Otherwise, Juju was very good--most of the time. And she traveled very well in the car for 10 hours each way. Get the air conditioning on her and she goes right to sleep!

My youngest sister Sarah had a Luau (open house party to celebrate her move away from home) Thursday night before Tim & Kristen and myself had to leave Friday morning. She baked probably the whole time we were gone camping! Great food and party, Sarah! Sarah is planning to come move down with me on August 15.

I will plan to add pictures later. But I had a great time in the U.P.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Settlers of Catan

Settlers is a great game, but it is awfully hard to track down if you want to buy it! My brother and his girlfriend Kristen were planning to buy it and bring it up to Michigan with them for this next week when we're all together. I suggested getting it off of ebay since they couldn't find it in any stores. So they shipped it to Kristen's parents' house because they figured it would arrive while they were there. Well, Tim called me today and said it hadn't gotten there yet and they are planning to leave tomorrow (before the mail comes).

So I decided to see if I could find it anywhere. I went to Toys 'R' Us tonight and asked about it. The guy I asked said, "Yeah, other people have asked about that game but I haven't found it yet." (So why don't they stock it by now, I ask myself?) So as I was walking out, one of the cashiers who was just standing around (the place was absolutely deserted) suggested 2 other places I might go: Castle Comics store (sounds kind of scary) and Game Stop at Levee Plaza. Well, to make a long story short, I drove around for a while but didn't find either place. So I decided to go online to ebay and see what I could do about ordering it and sending it up to MY parents' house so we can have it for next week! I just finished ordering it.

So, we'll see if we ever get to play it. I played it at the Duttons a few years ago and it's a very fun game!

On a side note, doesn't this sound as if my brother and his girlfriend are making "family-type" purchases together?? Hmm, I can't wait to meet this Kristen in 2 days!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Some of you have asked how my scrapbooking is going. So here's an update!

I'm almost there on the scrapbook project that I'm trying to finish before I leave for Michigan on Thursday!

This morning (after working on this project off and on since Wednesday) I finally put all the pages in their respective albums with no leftover pictures (well, except for the ones I decided not to use). All that's left to do is to LABEL all of these pages now! (That's still quite a project; it's probably going to be at least 4 hours of work, I'm guessing.)

So I counted up all the pages I did because I'm going to need page protectors for them now: 44 pages (well, double-sided I guess that would be 88)!

My living room floor is finally starting to emerge from underneath a covering of paper, pictures, and stencils.

And I only had to chase the puppy around a few times for grabbing paper (she likes chewing on paper), a pencil, or my corner rounder and taking off. Overall she actually did pretty well at not touching all the junk on the ground--of course, she had to be relegated to the kitchen a lot!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

1 More Week of Summer

Summer blahs. I feel like my mind is on summer vacation along with my schedule. I'm feeling very unproductive these days, and I'm having a hard time remembering WHAT I'm supposed to do, anyway. For instance, yesterday my big accomplishment was teaching a whopping 4 piano lessons and getting my new debit card activated by using it in at ATM. Other than letting my friends' dogs out 3 times a day, that's about all I got done (off of my "to-do" list--if I had one), and it felt like the day flew by. However, it is nice to be able to have a few hours to relax, take a nap, fix a sandwich, surf the net, or read a few chapters in a book. Oh, I have watched a few movies lately, too: Skeleton Key, Love's Eduring Promise, Two Weeks Notice, The Others--those were over the last few days. Today I spent a couple of hours over at school teaching preschool music and practicing for Sunday, but the rest of my day I'm planning on devoting to scrapbooking. That's my big project to get done by next week.

It's been nice to have some "lazy days" of summer, but those are fast coming to a close. Next Thursday I live for Michigan for a week, and when I come back I start back to "school mode." Aahhhh! Where has the summer gone! There was more stuff I wanted to get done, more books I wanted to read, and some more projects I was going to work on.

But I did accomplish one summer goal: I DID get a puppy! So it's been nice to have time to devote to my little baby. On a side note, it seems as if every time I take my dog for a walk, we meet new neighborhood dogs, but for some reason we never see the same dogs we've already met! I don't see how we can meet 2-3 new dogs a night and never repeat on the old ones! My puppy just got "terrorized" by a loose dog out in the backyard, too--looked kind of like a boxer. She was semi-friendly, but just charged over Juju and really scared her! Don't remember meeting her before, either! Oh well.

Monday, July 17, 2006


We survived Juju's first bath today!

She tried to escape, but I was able to hold her in the tub. After a couple of minutes, I think she even started to enjoy the massage. And with all that hair gone, she's bound to feel cooler in this heat wave--today's high was 94 degrees! She wasn't even that hyper afterward; she was ready to go to sleep. On a side note, I think she's going to have shorter fur like either a lab or German shepherd--and it seems very resilient to water.

Worn out!

In the backyard after her bath.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Dog Thermometer

Today is probably the hottest day of the year so far. Earlier my outside thermometer read 101 degrees, although it tends to read a little hotter than the actual temperature. Praise the Lord for air conditioning!

Juju is a good thermometer of whether it is cooler outside or inside--she will find the coolest place because she hates being hot! Today I tried turning on the box fan in the kitchen to see if that helped her feel cooler. Later I let her have the run of the house and I discovered that the coolest place in my house must be my bathroom floor, because that's her new favorite nap spot!

Today is definitely an INSIDE day!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Blueberries Blueberries

Japanese beetles--those awful insects that love fruit like blueberries and can be found all over some of the branches and berries of blueberry bushes! (And even on Macintosh apple trees; I know that firsthand.)

I had an opportunity to encounter some of these creatures, because last night after church my friend Marney Rausch invited me (i.e. talked me into) going blueberry picking with her this morning, bright and early at 7 AM! Today was opening day at the Prelock Blueberry Farm. I'd only been out there picking once before a year or two ago--and never on the first day of the season.

Okay, Marney, yes, if you're reading this, I was very glad I went. The berry picking was excellent; there were LOTS of people there (and lots of helpful workers that I knew!); and the weather was perfect--it hadn't warmed up too much yet. There weren't TOO many Japanese beetles (they are pretty lethargic that early in the morning anyway). We (Marney, Amy Shaw, and I) cleaned up quite a few blueberry bushes and decided to call it quits around 8:30. I ended up with 8 pounds (24 cups) of blueberries!

So I came home, and instead of going back to sleep as I had planned, I ended up making 2 dozen blueberry muffins, a blueberry coffeecake, and a blueberry pie. And then I froze the other 16 cups!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pirates II

I just got back from seeing Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest. This was my first time to see a movie on its Opening Day (well, technically it ended on the next day). I went with my friends Keilah, Joy, and Ashley.

I'll try not to ruin it for any of you who haven't seen it yet, but I really liked it. Of course, I'm a die-hard Pirates fan, so anything with Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is bound to be good. And Jack is definitely back. One thing I liked was that it seemed as if all of the same actors were playing the same parts, so that really helped with continuity. It is definitely more of a "middle" movie, as in it is definitely a plot kind of buffer, setting up the finale in the third of the series. In fact, sometimes the plot was a little tricky to figure out, but that just makes me want to see it again to see if there's anything I missed the first time around.

Of course, there's the unreal scenarios of getting out of tight places and falling off of high places (and lots of rolling balls or wheels in this one), but the CGI stuff definitely makes up for that! I thought the special effects were tremendous; everything was very real-looking and some of the scenes were just really cool. I have no idea how they made some things look the way they did, but it was really cool. I would tend to rate the graphics somewhere akin to the Lord of the Rings.

I would highly recommend it--especially if you liked the first one (well, probably ONLY if you liked the first one). But nonetheless, a great movie. Can't wait for Number Three!

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Whole New World

I was at PetSmart yesterday. I am gradually getting back into the "Pet World." I had forgotten how overboard some people can go with pets, how many products are out there, how many different kinds of foods, training materials, toys, collars, books, etc., etc. are out there. There must be a lot of spoiled pests--uh, I mean pets--out there. (that was a real typo; I just decided to leave it in) One thing that surprised me was the number of "organic"-type products. I realize there are some people that are really gung-ho about organic stuff for people, but I didn't realize they were into it for pets too!

I've also been reading almost every book in my public library about dogs, housebreaking, and dog training. Wow. There are a lot of ideas there, too. Never play tug-of-war, only play tug-of-war if you win all the time, don't give tennis balls, do give tennis balls, don't give rawhide, don't paper-train, do this, don't do that. Which is actually extremely helpful, but I've been out of the "pet world" for so long, reentry is a little bit of a shock! I haven't had a puppy for 15 years, so it's very fun, but a lot of repetition too. Teaching the same things over and over and over and over. Right now she must be teething because we've been working on NOT BITING!! (Especially people's hands.) Hopefully she'll grow out of it, because she's sure not catching on most of the time from me. And I've tried everything in the books!!!

It's a whole new world, that pet world!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

You will be so tired of me posting about my dog!

Yesterday we had some thunderstorms, and Juju likes playing with the rain gutter--and the mud, too, of course. She doesn't understand the concept of coming in out of the rain yet!

So here's a few more pictures. Juju's almost 11 weeks old now and she's growing! She's over 10 pounds now, but still likes to be carried, as I carried her all the way home from church Sunday afternoon as she was very warm (it was over 90 degrees). She's definitely gotten used to the air conditioning!

It is still rainy this morning, but hopefully it will clear up before the fireworks tonight!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Can God Use a Dog?

Sometimes it's hard to know what to pray for.

I have to admit that I was really hoping to get a puppy this summer. It seemed to me an ideal summer to be involved in training a puppy, because other than 2 trips up home to Michigan, I didn't have any other plans to be gone, so I could be home with a dog and get it ready for when I'd be gone more in the school year. Besides, Sarah is coming this fall so there will be another person around to let her out.

Well, you all know that I DID get a puppy, but it was a tough decision. I've considered getting a puppy/dog before, but I've talked myself out of it because I haven't been home enough during the school year--and, besides, pets cost money! But this time around I really thought I could do arrange my schedule to do it. And it seems like there's always enough money for what you really want to spend it on. Besides, how fun is having a DOG!?

So I started looking online at the Humane Society and reading the classifieds every once in a while during the last couple months of the school year. I thought it would only be fair to a dog (especially a puppy) if I got her (I was only considering a female) at the BEGINNING of the summer so I could spend as much time with her as possible before my school schedule starts in August. When school got out I thought maybe I'd just take one trip to the Humane Society and find that perfect little dog or puppy, and BOOM! But it was hard to know what I was looking for. I borrowed books from the library on breeds, but I know I've always loved mutts. I thought I'd need a smaller breed because, frankly, they cost less because they eat less--plus they're easier to take with you places. However, I did NOT want a tiny dog like a chihuahua. I wanted a dog you could go out and take for a walk every night when you get home; it seems to be a great exercise program! Sure, pets cause more wear on the house, but what's a house for if not to really LIVE in it? (Besides, this will give me a good incentive to clean and vacuum more!)

So I was hoping to just see that one puppy (and I was really looking for a puppy) that would just scream, "Ooh! It's ME! Pick me! Take me home!" But I went twice to the Humane Society before leaving for Michigan and didn't find anything other than beagles or really BIG dogs or a 10-month old white Jack Russell terrier, which I wasn't all that crazy about. I started reading the Classifieds EVERY day in the "Absolutely Free" section. Oh yes, that was my other stipulation: I was NOT going to pay big bucks for a dog. So I spent a week in Michigan, thinking, "It's almost too late to get a puppy now." But I was going home for about 5 weeks then so thought, "If I can find a puppy THIS week, it might work!"

Monday I spent getting ready for our VBS and playing with my new laptop, so I didn't really get to reading the classifieds. Tuesday morning, however, reading through the "Absolutely Free" section, one caught my eye: free medium mixed breed dogs. So I made a phone call. I asked what size the pups might be: "well, shepherd, lab, chow, retriever mix--something like that." That didn't sound medium-sized to me, that sounded pretty big, but I thought the only way to really find out was to take a look at them. So I asked if I could stop by--he gave me directions to a farm north of town and he had 3 girls and 2 boys left out of a litter of 9. They were 8-9 weeks old. And, of course, they were really cute, but I was concerned they might not be healthy as they had not had any shots or anything yet--besides, they looked to be kind of on the pudgy side, and I was wondering if there was something wrong with them. But the mom wasn't THAT big--she was probably about border collie size and looked to be like a short-haired border collie. All the pups looked different--the 2 boys looked like they had Rottweiler markings! But they looked like they would be medium-large sized dogs. BUT there were girls, AND they were FREE. AND I could basically take one home RIGHT NOW. So now I was in a dilemma. I told the man if I was really interested I would call him back, otherwise don't hold one for me. And then I went to the Humane Society--nothing that really stood out to me there still. Besides, they seem to take a long time getting through paperwork until you finally get to take the puppies home. So I went to the library and checked out a few books on puppies. In looking through some information, I discovered that worms can cause puppies to have bloated stomachs. Aha--roundworms, that's pretty common in puppies, nothing to really be worried about there. Otherwise, everything else in those farm puppies seemed to line up when looking for a healthy puppy.

So I made phone calls to all of my advisors--my siblings! Sarah voted yes, because she wanted a larger dog anyway (one she could take jogging with her). Rachel advised me to figure out what I really wanted, as did Tim (well, actually, he said no). Therein was the dilemma. Did I really want a larger dog? So I did a lot of "heart-searching." What was I really looking for in a dog? Obviously, I DID decide to go with the larger dog. Honestly, they are my personal favorites, but I just didn't think I could afford one or have a yard big enough for one. BUT if I exercised her well she could be fine. And bigger dogs don't eat THAT much more food, do they? And I really don't like small, yippy dogs. A bigger dog would be a good watchdog and a lot more fun to take for long walks. A smaller dog could travel with you better, though. And the more I talked to my "advisors," the more I realized I hadn't looked at the puppies long enough to really remember them too well. I decided I needed one more look at them, so the next morning I called the "dog guy" back and asked if he still had the females. (I figured if they were still available by the next day that was a "sign.") :) He only had 2 females left now, so my choices were being more limited, so I booked it out there. The one I had wanted to check out more was gone now, but the first one that had caught my eye was still there. She was the one who had come up to me first thing and let me rub her belly, while all the other puppies eventually took off or never came up to me at all. At first I was concerned she might be too aggressive, but figured out she wasn't like that at all. She was actually the "runt" of the litter and I think was just more used to having to push a little bit to get some attention. So I said I'd take her. (The other female was brindle-colored and more aloof--more like a chow.)

So that's the LONG version of how I ended up with my puppy. I spent Wednesday night making my first trip to PetSmart (and also hitting Wal-Mart and Meijer) to buy all those needed puppy items. And Thursday I made one more trip out to the farm to bring her home!

But, anyway, where I was going with this, was that during this selection process I wasn't sure whether to pray about this decision or not. I thought, does God really care if I get a puppy or not?? How in the world should I pray about this decision? I guess I could have prayed for wisdom. And I know God cares about good stewardship of money, but does it really matter if you have a dog or not? Did I want this just because I was being selfish? Are there any spiritual benefits of having a dog? Can God use a dog? I have to admit, that my brother said I should "pray about it," but I really didn't, because I really wondered if God cared about my getting a DOG!

However, in the one week and one day that I have HAD Juju (and I am SO GLAD I got her, by the way), I have already seen how God has used this dog in my life. I tend to "hide out" in my home and it does not come naturally to me to reach out to others. But in the last week, from having a puppy, I have met the high school boy "Ben" who lives behind me, the other neighbors behind me and their 2 girls (who I found out go to my church), talked more to my next door neighbor, and met the 3 girls who live across the street! (After living here for 1 year I'm finally meeting the neighbors!) And I find that people (especially kids) love to pet my puppy! So I think God can really use a dog when it comes to meeting people in the community!

So, yes, I do believe God wanted me to get this puppy!

(Hey, congratulations for making it through this LONG post!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Kirby Guy

Are you ready for a story?

I had an interesting experience Saturday. I was sitting on my living room floor reading the newspaper, minding my own business, when I hear this friendly knock on the door--you know, the knock a friend knocks: tap, tap-a-tap tap (quarter, two-eighths, quarter, quarter for you musical people). I peeked out the window and didn't recognize the lady standing there, but I went ahead and opened the door. She shoved a bottle of dish detergent in my hands, and went on to tell me that I could keep that bottle for free if I just donated a few moments of my time to take this short survey, had I heard of her company (I had not), and how her boss gave out credit to her for each person that participated. I ask, "How long will this take?" "As long as you want it to," she replies. Then she goes out to her van to get her stuff. Before I know it, she is in my living room, introducing me to "Eric" who has hauled in a huge box and is starting to pull various bits and pieces out of it and assemble them. "Have you heard of Kirby?" Ah, then it clicked in my brain--have I actually just agreed to a Kirby vacuum demonstration? Then the girl is leaving: "I have another associate at a different house, Eric here will do a good job and show you about the Kirby." Yay. That's a little awkward.

That was probably about 1:00 in the afternoon. The funny thing was that I had actually vacuumed that morning already! But "Eric" went ahead and vacuumed my living room floor a zillion times, showing me all the things my vacuum cleaner failed to pick up. He asked how old I was because he thought at first I was going to have to get my dad or something! I assured him it was my house. He was actually a pretty nice guy, 24 years old, just getting out of the military (Army--he had been in Iraq and came back in May). Most people were surprised he already owned his own home, too (he lives in the next neighborhood)--but the military pays for a lot of things! We talked about where I worked and such, and how I was still "religious" even though my dad was a pastor. He said that he had never really met any pastor's kids who were doing similar things to their parents; the pastor's kids he had known had been the wild ones! He was from a Catholic background, although he said his mom had been an atheist until he was in Iraq. When he came back he found out that now she believes in God and goes to church all the time (and, incidentally, is a whole lot nicer). He showed me pictures of his 3-year-old daughter Alexandria, and how she was in daycare at some other Christian daycare in the area, so I made sure I told him about the daycare at Faith and about the Community Center and such. I'm not a big fan of high-pressure sales tactics myself, so I didn't force the gospel on him or anything. But I hope that perhaps I was a good testimony, and that he might be receptive to hearing the gospel when he meets someone else.

Anyway, about an hour and a half later I finally ask, "About how much longer will this take?" So then he starts wrapping up. (I was going to refuse the shampooing, too, until he offered to clean my entry rug instead. So, sure, go ahead. I'll take a free rug cleaning.) And then he had to call his boss and see what kind of deal they could strike for me (which of course, they could find none). He was nice about it, he already knew I wasn't going to buy one. (I'm NOT paying $1,900 and some dollars for a high-faluting vacuum cleaner!) So, after borrowing some Windex and paper towels and a garbage bag for all the dirt that he pulled out of my carpet, about 3:00 (2 hours later) he was finally out the door. (And he was pretty honest about knowing that I probably wanted him to get out of my house!) But I wished him well and hoped he sold a lot of vacuum cleaners.

So now I can say that I have had my first experience with Kirby vacuum sales tactics.

The puppy (Juju) was very good the whole time. I held her in the living room for a little while to keep her quiet, but then shut her in the kitchen and she slept the rest of the time. I was afraid she was going to have to go the bathroom and I wasn't going to be able to let her out. But she was good (this time). We're still working on that housebreaking. I'm starting to wonder if I really wanted an un-housebroken puppy...but of course I do!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Juju's New Toy

Here are some pictures of Juju and her new toy! Juju and I went garage saling this morning--Juju's first experience out walking in the neighborhood. Of course, she hasn't gotten the hang of walking on a leash yet, so I carried her on her first walk. That 9 pounds starts to get heavy after a little while, too! She met a lot of new people friends and met a few other dogs: got a little baggie of treats from one lady, had pictures with another couple of ladies (who almost didn't give her back) and a bowl of water, and did explore a couple of garages. After an hour and a half or so she and I were both getting hot (Juju likes her shade and cool places to lie down--like wet grass and damp cement--both of which I had to carry her away from while we were out) so we came home to take a nap--and play with Juju's new toy: a big red stuffed dog.

I got a couple of board games and a basket for Juju's toys and a new book, but my favorite purchase was a 25-cent stuffed animal for Juju. Right now it is bigger than she is, but pretty soon that will change!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dog Days of Summer

Well, it is now officially summer, and I am in the middle of doggie days!

Juju (as Jubal Lee will now officially be called) had an eventful morning. She had an 8:45 vet appointment at Creekside Animal Hospital and had all sorts of stuff done! She had her first deworming medication (2nd dose to be given by me in 2 weeks), her first shot, her nails clipped, her first doggie treats, and her first weigh-in: 9.1 pounds! She has pretty much slept since then! I hope she is still able to get some sleep tonight!!! She doesn't like being in her kennel yet, and she's pretty vocal about it! But she's gotten better at being gated into the kitchen by herself, so hopefully the kennel will come too. She's not a very good watchdog yet, as she doesn't yet recognize the sound of the doorbell (sleeps right through it) and isn't quite sure where "her" territory is yet. But she does know how to run and hide inside the house when she hears another dog we'll have to work on meeting other barking dogs eventually, I think!

I could try to describe her, but it's better just to meet her. :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Name That Puppy!

Jubal Lee is the name I had in mind--probably Juju for short (or Juba), but I've had mixed reception to that name. So here's the challenge: come up with a better name for my puppy by the end of the day or it is Jubal!

Yes, I brought my puppy home this morning! She's in the middle of transition from outside to inside dog, and being away from mom and brothers and sisters for the first time, but she's only 9 weeks old, so hopefully she'll learn to adjust fast! She's got her first Vet appointment at 8:45 tomorrow (Friday) morning!

Monday, June 19, 2006

VBS The First

Guess where I'm updating from??!! My new MacBook--which incidentally arrived at my house EARLY while I was on vacation--which was a problem trying to get it delivered...but it worked out and I arrived back in Lafayette yesterday and I have it up and running! :)

I was in Ishpeming, MI last week for Vacation Bible School at my parents' church. What a week! My last post had some of the totals, but we were expecting about 50 kids. We had 43 on Monday, 57 on Tuesday, 67 on Wednesday, 66 on Thursday, and 81 on Friday for water day!! Do you ever feel like you are getting unexpected blessings from God? I felt spiritually unprepared for this week; I had barely--if ever--prayed about, but for some reason God allowed all these children to come. Many were from other churches, but I think we had a few contacts from the trailer park across the street from the church! And we raised over $600 in pennies for the Flinck family to help them get on their way to Chile! We also had a good turnout for the Closing Program on Friday night as well. I pray we were able to be a good testimony to some area families and maybe build some new relationships. As I drove back home Sunday I realized how easy it is to try to be independent of the work of God. I was convicted of how easy it is to think we did some great thing, or else how easy it is to be working so hard at getting ready for these kids that we fail to acknowledge God's work in it all. I pray that the Lord be honored and glorified for the strength to make it through the VBS week.

Now...on to the Second VBS Week--here in Lafayette we're doing "Set Sail! Spread the Good News" during the evenings this week. There are more kids here, but there are also a lot more helpers, so my job is actually easier this week! We'll see how it goes tonight!