Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Liar, Liar!

I know when my kids are lying. Can't most mothers tell? There's something in the eyes. I can just see it. In addition to that "something" that I can see, the kids have tells too. They won't look me in the eye. They stumble around in their story. Their story changes. And one of my personal favorites--they are obviously scared to death. They look worried that I won't believe them.
When I catch my kids in a lie, I call them on it. If they were in trouble before the lie, I make sure they know that the lie never makes anything better. It makes it worse. A lot worse. I want to raise my kids to be honest.
But what about when I catch an adult in a lie? You know when it happens. It's right there, staring you in the face. They've said something you know beyond the shadow of a doubt is not true. What happens then?
Most of the time we let it go, don't we? After all, it's not polite to point out when someone is lying. And it might lead to confrontation. That's the way I feel most of the time. At work I'm always dealing with people on the phone, asking for various bits of paperwork and documentation that they're supposed to have. They assure me they're sending it today. It's on the fax as we speak. They're emailing it now. And then I hear nothing from them for a week. Or I'll fax or email something to do them. I can see it went through. But they claim they never got it. Maybe something could get lost in cyberspace once, but every single time?
Still, it's a work relationship. I don't call them a liar. I'll fax or email it again. Usually this time it goes through and they "get" it. You nod, you smile and you make a mental note that person's not trustworthy.
But what about in personal relationships? I've come across this recently, and I've gotta tell you--my brain is screaming, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" I called an acquaintance recently and talked to her about a situation in which her daughter was involved. A situation that affected me and my family. The woman was shocked and horrified by the situation, but assured me her daughter had nothing to do with it. I gave her proof in the form of a phone call that originated from the daughter. The woman expressed outrage and told me she would get to the bottom of this. A short time later she called back to say her daughter was in tears and knew nothing about it. This woman never got defensive. She was supportive of me and the situation and offered all kinds of sympathy.


More proof surfaced. (I should say here that we weren't even looking for proof. It was just that blatant and obvious.) She denied it vehemently and then tried to offer more sympathy to me, as if we were friends. She assured me that she and her daughter wanted to help in anyway possible to get to the bottom of this.

Liar, liar.

Finally the situation was too obvious to ignore. My husband confronted the daughter and she defiantly owned up to her actions. Here's the real kicker: she admitted it in front of her mother. And the mother was not shocked. She was not angered or saddened. She was simply accepting of something she already knew.

Pants on fire!

Sometimes you've got to ignore it, but sometimes actions need to be accounted for. There's nothing we can do about these actions or the lies that accompanied them. But these people at least needed to be confronted. Is it enough that they know we know? I'm not sure. But sometimes you just need to call things as they are. You need to let people know they're not getting away with untruths. It doesn't change the people. It doesn't change us. It doesn't change the situation. But at least it stopped the lying.
We don't interact with these people anymore. There's no need. And it's a fake relationship. Why would we bother? But I still find myself almost hoping I run into them occasionally. I still fight the urge to stick my thumbs in my ears, wiggle my fingers at them and chant, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Well, it's the truth, isn't it? : )

Tomorrow's post: Grocery store etiquette.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Camping We Will Go

Here are my campers at 3:30 this morning. I took several pictures, but they said I should post this one because they liked it the best. And by now they are almost three hours down the road.
It was fairly easy to get them packed. I told them what kind of things they needed, and then they laid all the items out on their beds. I went through and approved (or disapproved) of their choices, made a list of the things they needed and then took them shopping. When we got home I told them to pack everything that was still on their bed. Job done. I did check on a few key items such as, "Did you pack your toothbrush? Do you have your soap and a towel? Enough underwear?" You know, life's basic necessities.
As easy as it was to get the packing done, it was incredibly hard to get them to go to sleep last night. They had to be reminded several times to take showers, and then even after they were in bed they wouldn't stop talking. I went in for the final good night kiss and prayer together and they still wouldn't stop talking. But they have a long drive today so they can probably sleep most of the way. The drivers would probably be thrilled if all the teens slept through the trip. I don't envy them!
So, easy to pack, hard to get them to sleep and even harder still to let them go. I did a little analysis of myself and my feelings last night (in between tears) and finally realized why this was so hard. (After all, Paul is our fourth child to go to camp. By now I ought to be rejoicing that one more kid can go. And be counting the days until another one is gone for a week!) But in the past year or so, we've learned the hard way what kind of an influence others can have on our children. And since that happened, we've watched them closely. Oh they still mingle and get social interaction, but we're much more aware of who they're with and what is going on. Now here they're going to a big camp with lots of people in it. Some good and some bad, I'm sure. And I won't be there to help steer them in the right direction. I won't be there to protect them from wrong influences. This really bothered me until I realized something else: I won't be there, but God will. And He loves our children even more than we do. In fact, in the past few months He's given me verses over and over again about protecting our children and caring for them. I may worry about them at camp, but I don't worry at all about leaving them in God's hands.
Last night at choir practice we went over a song called "Trust His Word". We only sang it once, but I woke up with it running through my head. And then I realized that I really could trust His Word. He'll take care of my kids.

I'm content with that.

Tomorrow's Post: "She lied to me!"

Friday, June 26, 2009

That's My Baby!

I've mentioned before that we have six kids. Matt and Steph are twenty months apart, Luke came three years later, Paul came three years after that, then Paul and Joel are eighteen months (and one day) apart and Joel and Nicky are twenty months apart. For the longest time we've kind of mentally grouped them into the "older" kids and the "younger" kids. Luke's been one of the older kids ever since he joined the youth group. That was three years ago. It was hard to see our little boy start hanging out with the teenagers, even though he was a teen himself.
But he's grown and we've let him go. He's fifteen now. At our last youth service, Luke was the song leader for the entire congregation. The teens leave for camp on Monday, and this will be his third year. I worried some about how he would do, but he absolutely loved it. Especially last year when he walked around talking with a British accent the entire week.
So I've had three years to get used to Luke being a teenager. (I still can't get used to the fact that the two oldest are out of high school!) But guess who's going into the youth group now?
It's one of the "younger" kids. Paul turned twelve, and he will be going into the seventh grade in the fall. He had his first youth outing this past week. And he's leaving for camp on Monday.

I don't think I can take this.

Paul is quieter and more shy than Luke. And I worry that he's not quite ready for camp. Not that I have a choice. He's very excited about it and looking forward to it. And there's nothing I can do to stop him.
Oh, I know I'm supposed to embrace this. After all, we raise them to grow up and become adults. I don't want them to stay kids the rest of their lives.

But couldn't they stay kids for just a little while longer? For those of you that know us personally, I"m sure you wavering back and forth between amusement and sympathy. Well let me knock your socks off. Guess who's going in the youth group next year?


Now you see what I mean. I'm suffering. Can anyone help?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random Observations

In the interest of getting to know me better (after all, you're here on my blog, aren't you?) I thought I would share a few things that regularly run through my mind. Don't worry. I'll go easy on you. No one wants to know everything that runs through my mind. Not even me.

Whenever I see a vehicle that's riding low in the back, I wonder of there's a dead body in the trunk.

When a cop pulls up behind me in traffic, I assume that he's running a check on my plates. (I have it on good authority that cops actually do this to all nearby vehicles when sitting at a traffic light.)

A lot of times I drive Matt's car. And I wonder what the cop thinks when a woman is driving a vehicle registered to a guy.

When I'm in a public place, I scan people to see if I can spot someone who's undercover.

I haven't found anyone yet who is.

If I see someone driving slowly or erratically, I check them out as I pass. Nine times out of ten they are on a cell phone.

I'm certain that I don't drive like that when I'm on a cell phone.

Sometimes I'll walk into an aisle in a grocery store, and there is an almost visible cloud of perfume left by the previous occupant. I hate that.

I've heard that Coke has enough acid that it will eat through a bloodstain on concrete. Next time I have enough blood on some concrete, I'm going to test that theory. Provided I'm not unconscious from loss of blood.

I'm on twitter because I'm told it's a good marketing tool. I don't get it, but I'm on it.

Every once in a while I wonder what life would be like if we had to do without technology and modern conveniences. And then I pray that will never happen.

I think being in outer space would be incredibly frightening. No one's ever asked me to go--I'm just saying.

I look at my kids and wonder where the time went--because they really were babies just yesterday.

I don't think I'm aging as quickly as my children are. Hey, I write fiction. Let me live with the lie.

And there you have it--a peek into my brain. Hope I didn't scare you!

Tomorrow's post: Tightening the apron strings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Gravy On Top

As if we weren't thrilled with our purchase of an imac for $11.00 (see yesterday's post), God decided to throw a little extra bonus our way. While the salesman was looking through possible discounts, he asked us a question.
"Do you have a college student at home?"
Sure, we answered. Matt was in college. Why?
Because Apple was running a special for college students: buy an imac and get an itouch free.
We stared at him blankly. We had no idea what an itouch was. We're so out of of the loop sometimes! But hey, who doesn't love something free? So we tucked the offer into the back of our minds as we continued to negotiate. It would never have been the clincher to the sale. As a matter of fact, we actually forgot about it until we had already agreed to purchase the imac. Then the enthusiastic salesman (you could tell he loved his job) said, "And don't forget, you get a free itouch!"
The poor guy managed to keep a straight face while we asked, "What's an itouch?"
"It's like an iphone," he explained. "It has everything the iphone has except the phone itself. And The camera."
What? A phone that's not a phone? What's the point? Besides, iphones only worked with AT&T. Didn't we have to sign up for a service? How much was this "free" item going to cost us?
Now, if he'd said the itouch was an ipod with all the features of the iphone, then I would have gotten the picture. I've seen the iphone commercials. They're really cool. Then he pulled out an itouch and showed it to us. I fell in love immediately. (With the itouch, not the salesman.)
Did we have to give this to Matt since he was the college student that made it possible?
No, Terry decided. Matt had an MP3 player already. And anyway, do you give a college student a Ferrari as his first car? I don't think so. So why should he have an itouch right out of the box?
Of course, Matt didn't see it that way. As soon as I pulled the itouch out, he was mesmerized. He plugged it into the imac and started setting things up. I think he would have put his own name and password on it if I hadn't stopped him.
I've been playing with the itouch for a week now, and I love it. All the things it can do! Yesterday Matt came and asked for it.
"I have a bunch of apps to download on it."
"Because they're cool apps. And they're free."
Obviously I knew he wasn't doing this just to be helpful to his mother. So I asked to see what he wanted to download. He had about fifteen applications lined up. A dozen of them were games. Sword games. Target practice games. Just the kind of thing I wouldn't be using. But if they were on the itouch, I knew who would be using it. More and more and more!
"Forget it," I said. "Why would I want all that stuff on my itouch?"
"They're cool games," Matt argued. "And you have so much space on that thing."
I pointed to the three applications that appealed to me. "You can download these three. That's it."
Matt didn't argue, but when he returned the itouch, I noticed it had five new applications. Some guys just never listen.
So for now I'm enjoying my $11.00 imac and my free itouch. And I'm keeping a close eye on it because it has a way of disappearing. Kind of like the remote.

Some things never change.

Tomorrow's post: How to tell when there's a dead body in the trunk.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Real Cost

So where did we get the money we needed for the imac? Well, it all started when Terry's pressure washer was stolen. Matt was working nights at the time, and when he got home one morning, he noticed that the back of Terry's pickup was open. And the pressure washer that was usually there--well, it wasn't there anymore. It was a big loss for us because Terry had been using pressure washing jobs to generate some additional income. What's worse is that, when he called the insurance company, they said we only had liability insurance--in other words, they only pay if he messes up something belonging to someone else while working for them.
But Terry is nothing if not persistent. Next he tried our auto insurance. They said they only cover the actual vehicle--not what's inside. (Don't you just love the fine print of insurance companies?) Finally, though, we contacted our homeowner's insurance. Since it was stolen from our vehicle, parked at our home, they would cover the damage. Did we have receipts?
In all honesty, paperwork is not exactly our strong point. We'd had the machine for several years. Terry finally found some pictures online of similar machines and gave that to them. The insurance company told us that, without proof of how much we'd paid, they would have to adjust the amount given. Plus they had to allow for depreciation. We held our breath, hoping that they'd send enough so that we didn't have to dig too deeply into our own pockets to replace the pressure washer. While we waited for the check, Terry shopped around.
When the check finally came in the mail, we were pleasantly surprised. Hopefully, it would be enough to replace the pressure washer and all the attachments he'd lost. We were even more excited when he found a machine that was actually better than what he'd lost. He has a much nicer setup now. What's even better, he got such a good deal that we had some money left over. Enough for us to start thinking about replacing our desktop.
So how did we afford the imac? Well, almost a year ago Terry sold an old truck. The man who bought it was paying us piecemeal. Just this past week he paid the full remainder of what he owed in one lump sum.
Price of the imac? $1,176.00. Price out of pocket? $11.00.
Isn't God good?

Tomorrow's post: But wait! There's more!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Look What I Have!

Our desktop computer is over seven years old. We've known for sometime that it needed to be replaced, but we just didn't know when we would have the money. I'm always one for being prepared, so I did some research on what kind of a machine we needed. I wanted to be ready at a moment's notice, so to speak. I tracked through HP, Dell and Vision's websites to see what they had to offer, what kind of specials they were running, and just what kind of features we might need in a new machine.
When we were finally ready to buy, my husband said, "Let's go to the Apple store."
I like my macbook--I've had it for three or four years. But I still hesitated. Wouldn't we end up paying twice as much? And where would we get the extra money?
"Let's let them convince us why we should pay the extra money," Terry suggested.
It took a while to find the store, but once we were in, we faced a huge sales room with tons of white Macs all lined up in a row. The salesman enthusiastically showed us all the features of the imac. It's jaw-dropping stuff, really. But the price--
So we put the question to him. Why should we spend twice as much?
The salesman addressed our question honestly. He asked more of what we needed in a machine and showed us more of what the imac could do. It was hard to argue. But still there was the money--
so the guy started working through discounts to see what we qualified for. Terry had a particular price in mind, and he finally told the guy, "Get it down to here and we'll walk out with one tonight."
Guess what's now sitting in my office? It's so great, and I absolutely love it! But that's not the end of the story.

Tomorrow's post: The real cost--and the extras!

By the way, why did I say on Friday that Nina would drool with envy? click here to read it on her blog. When I read that post, I had no idea I would have an imac myself just a short time later. I'll be praying you get one too, Nina!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friends, Workers and Happenings

Here are a few friends and fellow hardworkers from last week:

"The Madison Group". These wonderful people traveled from Madison, Alabama, to help out with our VBS. They all stayed at our house, too. There was still some stair-sliding, but it stopped by midnight each night.

The Spacemonkey Hunter. He ran through VBS rallies all week, looking for space monkeys. I've never seen Garrett come so far out of his shell. I think he's got a permanent role in future VBS skits!

Kelsey's first year helping as well. Like Paul, I think she enjoyed it just as much as when she was in a class last year.

Karen McNully, our penny lady. She traded pennies for bills all week long and then counted all those pennies each day. We couldn't have done it without her!

Parking lot detail and security. These guys also worked in the decision room, leading kids to Christ. And as you can see, the Spacemonkey hunter did double duty.

Some of the nutty stuff: stopped up toilets, air conditioners that didn't work (at first) not enough toys and waaaaay too many cookies, missing lists and props, squealing microphones ... just to name a few. But hey! It wouldn't be VBS without a few glitches. Even at that, already the creative ideas are flowing for next year. Anybody game for a trip out west?

Monday's Post: Guess what I have that will make Nina drool with envy?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Son, The Alien

Paul had to be an alien during our skits last week. Actually, he had a challenging dual role. He had to be a green alien on Monday, a blue alien on Wednesday and back to a green alien on Thursday.

I got the antennae for a dollar each. And the ears were $3.95. An alien for less than five bucks.

For the body paint, I found a recipe on the internet. Coldcream, cornstarch and food coloring. I mixed it up in the morning and slathered it on him. Not only did he turn colors, but his skin is now very soft and supple!

On Wednesday the people in the skit ended up on Saturn. Everyone there wears rings, you know.
Paul had the time of his life. This was the first year he was too old to be a student in VBS, but I think he had just as much (if not more) fun being a helper. And in case you're worried, the body paint washed right off. As did the colored hairspray.

Tomorrow's Post: Happy friends and co-workers. And a little peek at the behind the scenes happenings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Out of This World Costumes

One thing I've always loved about VBS is the opportunity to see people dressed up in costumes. And we really have some that go all out.

Patrea made her own costume. (She's very good at that sort of thing.)

Glenda is from Madison. She made her own costume too. We all teased her that she looked like a cross between an oven mitt and a baked potato.

Our evil villain, Girth Vader. He had a great costume, but it came with a surprise on the backside that we didn't see until after he bought it. He used black spray paint to cover the indiscretion.

A couple of space nerds from our skit.

And our own version of Captain Kirk. He did a fabulous job of guiding our VBS ship through this exciting week!

Tomorrow's post: How to turn your son into an alien for $5.00.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

VBS Summary

Well I had hoped to blog during our Vacation Bible School last week so you all could experience the fun as it was happening. Obviously that didn't work out. I had very little time for sleeping, and I didn't even touch my computer last week. (You should see how many emails I had backed up!)
So this week I decided to share a few things with you so you can enjoy our VBS vicariously. Any of you ever been to a VBS at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama? Then you have an idea of what we did last week. It was phenomenal!
Last year was our first VBS. On our high day we had forty-seven children. With workers we hit seventy-six on the property. On Monday of this year, we had fifty children, eight-six people here total. And every day went up from there. On our Thursday and Friday we tied with sixty-three children each day, and over one hundred people participating in VBS. We also had twenty-seven salvation decisions last week. Praise the Lord! Here's a few pictures to whet your appetite for the posts during the rest of the week.

Tim and Pattie taught the 7-8 year old boys. They joined our church after the first of the year and we are so blessed to have them.

Another Tim taught the boys ages eleven and up. Tim and his wife just joined our church, in spite of the fact that we were pronouncing their last name incorrectly! : ) Tim's class made rockets which they shot off on Friday.

Here we are during Opening Assembly. The scale on the platform is for pennies. We ran a contest all week--girls vs. boys. The grand total we took in this week was $67, which we gave to Bob and Naomi Nichols, missionaries to Brazil. We took in $250 in pennies during our graduation night Friday because parents are just as competitive as kids. Or maybe just a touch more.

Theresa taught the nine and ten year old girls. She's a school teacher, so she was perfect as a VBS teacher this year. I knew you could do it!

Tomorrow I'll cover some of the costumes from our Outer Space week.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Creative Minds

Our VBS theme this year is "Out of This World". Here are some pictures to show just what kind of decorations the creative minds and willing hands at our church came up with.

One of the men in our church made this rocket out of a cardboard tube that he got from work.

This is our baptistry/platform area. They are turning it into the computer console of a spaceship.

One of the ladies in church did a scene like this for each of our windows. They are absolutely fantastic! You almost think your are passing through space.

You enter our spaceship through the portal. We've added some more lights to this area since I took this picture.

And another view of the portal from the opposite direction. It's amazing that you can say something simple like, "I wish it could look like a spaceship", and this is what our people came up with.
There's still a ton of work to do today, tomorrow and Saturday, but we're really excited. This is our second year of doing VBS. Last year we had forty-five students. This year we're aiming for one hundred.

Tomorrow--some of the funnier stuff that happens when life gets this busy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Many Hands, But How Light Is The Work?

Sorry I had no post for yesterday. I tried and tried, but our internet provider wasn't working well with me. Or maybe it was our wireless router. Anyway, something kept messing up and I finally had to give in and walk away or I would have been late to work.
So on to today. One of the things I've learned this week is that many hands make light work.

As you can see ...

Tomorrow I'll show a few pictures of what we accomplished.

An added thought: Even though it's light work, there's still a lot of it!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Motivates You?

This week is the final week before our Vacation Bible School, and it is going to be jampacked. If you think of me this week, pray for all of us that we can get through the craziness of this week. Pray also that we can reach souls for Christ during VBS. In the meantime, this week I'll be posting some of the lessons and observations I've gleaned from the weeks leading up to VBS.
I've been thinking a lot about motivation. What kind of things motivate you? What do you use to motivate others?
With my boys, sometimes I use rewards for motivation. It's especially hard to motivate them in their schoolwork. Sometimes they'll pour themselves into it with the promise of a day off coming up soon. One week their Dad wanted to take them snorkeling. They finished their schoolwork in record time so they could go. Of course, some if it wasn't actually their best work. And one of them did end up having to redo a few things. : )
If rewards don't work, the threat of punishment does. You know--good actions have good consequences and bad actions have bad consequences. Sometimes they will work harder under threat of losing a privilege, or the promise of extra work being put on them.
What about grown ups? Well, nothing motivates me like a deadline. And I don't mean in a good way. I may put something off or I just can't get around to finishing a project. Such as writing the scripts for the daily VBS skit. But then the pressure of knowing that the start of VBS is looming near is like a crushing weight on my chest. I finally finished the last script this morning. Now the work of decorating the church is hanging over me. And of course there's cleaning the house for our fifteen to twenty houseguests next week. And the logistics of feeding, housing and providing for everyone. Both here at home and during vacation Bible school. Nothing like a little pressure to motivate me to get up early. Or keep me from sleeping!
I find it especially interesting the way some men need to be motivated. For instance, Matt was supposed to write the cheers for the two teams we'll have in VBS next week. I asked him. I reminded him. I prodded him as the time drew closer.
Finally, yesterday I wrote my own cheers. I honestly wasn't trying to be ugly. I had a few minutes and I thought it might help him out. I gave them to him and asked him what he thought. I knew he would probably want to tweak them some, but at least I'd given him some ideas to start with.
Matt came back to me last night, with his own cheers. As near as I could tell, they were completely different from what I wrote. And his were good. They were better than mine--I don't mind saying it. But he didn't do it until I stepped in. Which made me think. Maybe, sometimes guys will be motivated by someone doing the job the wrong way. Have the men in your life ever stepped in to advise you on something? A friend told me last week how her brother was instructing her in the correct use of a certain piece of exercise equipment. He didn't have much to say until he say her using it, but then he wanted to make sure she did it right.
So if you want that fence painted, try doing it yourself. Just don't be surprised (or offended) when the male in your life comes along behind you and redoes the work.
So what motivates you? Or how do you motivate others. It would really be a help to my busy week if ya'll leave a lot of comments to carry on this conversation. See? I did it first. Now you correct it. And you thought you couldn't be motivated!
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