It’s All About Me

22 07 2008

I’ve seen this printed on many, many things recently and it really bugs me.  I’ll have to get into the wheres and whys at some point; but not today.  Today, I am writing just about that; me I mean.

I received an “unofficial” MEME from BooMama.

Anything I receive from Sophie demands immediate attention.

Why?

Because she is one absolutely wonderful, genteal, sweet, southern gal!  We are somehow related I’m sure.

I figured if she took the time to MEME herself; and asked others to MEME as well, the least I could do was oblige.  Afterall, that’s what southern related women (who both admire Popeye’s Chicken) do for one another.

So, here goes.  My very own MEME.  Now if you think that you have something better to do right now other than read my MEME, such as laundry, dusting, or watching the grass grow; feel free.  I do however think that if you miss this opportunity to learn these wonderful details about me, well, then, I’m sure you will be somehow less informed in some respects.  Afterall, it IS all about ME!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

First I had to do the math to see just when that was.  Oh yeah, 1998.  I was residing in England.  In our small, but quite adequete house.  During this exact month at that time, I was on vacation in the U.S.  We came back once every two years to make sure our family hadn’t sold all our stuff and to let the grandparents see that they really did have grandchildren.  Since all this family seeing involved travel from Maryland to Michigan to Florida and back, we were probably in the car for most of this trip.

Favorite Snacks

Diet Coke (this isn’t really a snack as far as I’m concerned.  It’s a staple)

White Cheddar Popcorn

Trail Mix (the kind with peanuts, chocolate chips, M&Ms and raisins)

Ice Cream (anything with Reeces Peanut Butter Cups works for me)

To Do List

First off, let me say that having one of these usually means that I intend to actually DO something worthwhile.  Depending on the day and the mood, I try to avoid these types of things so my list is often sporadic and on ocassion, even goes missing.

Right now though and in no particular order:

1. Laundry (that’s kinda a never ending one with 4 kids)

2. Lunch with my youngest (age 8)

3. A shower (try to get one of these everyday)

4. Bible study (right now I’m reading through chronologically)

5. Cooking a meal or three

6. Convincing oldest child (age 18) that it will not actually kill him to clean his room.

7. Check e-mail and write something for the blog.

8. Prepare a 20 minute presentation for my new boss (due Thursday)

9. Take our 15 year old to an eye appointment.

Jobs I’ve Had

radio DJ; radio station promotions assistant; church nursery worker; German/Russian Linguist; Combat photographer; Intelligence Analyst; pre-school teacher; tax preparer; EMT; EMT instructor; office manager; and all those things that come along with parenting 4 children and being married to a career Air Force man.

Places I’ve Lived

Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, California, Illinois, Hawaii, England and North Dakota.  (We have land in Michigan and I had a MI driver’s license for 17 years, but I’ve never actually physically lived there!)

Bad Habits

procrastination, nail biting, too much TV and internet, over eating, under (read:avoid at all cost) exercising, over spending, under cleaning.

5 Random Things People May Not Know About Me

1.  I caught a 98 pound tarpon when I was 14 years old.

2.  My favorite flavor of chewing gum is Teaberry.  It’s hard to find these days!

3.  I had dinner with Rick Springfield and did a live interview with Adam Ant.  (Kudos to you if you actually know who these guys are!)

4.  I use a Blackberry phone.

5.  I met my husband when I traveled to Michigan to be in his older brother’s wedding.

CDs I would want if stranded on a desert island (this is a tough one!)

Shaun Groves, Michael W. Smith’s Freedom, the extended soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera, Taylor Sorenson, Kutless, Michael Olson, Steven Curtis Chapman

Things I would do if I were a billionaire

1. Pay off all debt

2. Build our retirement home (much smaller than our original plan, yet more than adequate)

3. Ensure all the kiddos had some funds to pursue their life ambitions.

4. Take the whole family to see all three of the children we sponsor through Compassion (Haiti, Ecuador, and Columbia)

5. Contribute enough to our church to ensure that a minimum of 30% was being spent on each of these: effective missions and children/youth programs.  Adult discipleship would be another major chunk.

6. Contribute generously to other charities we support such as Compassion.

7. Refuse to be in debt, live modestly, and truly learn the definition of “enough.”

8. Invest in a Chick-Fil-A so I can have one near me whenever I want!

I am so impressed with myself!  Not only did this force me to actually have some sort of “to do list” today, but I actually had to use a few brain cells and think.  Now, I have a headache and I’m sure it’s due to the death of several brain cells.

If you are so inclined to have your own “MEME Day,” please feel free to do so.  Come back here and link to your MEME page so we can all get to know you better!





Sonshine Fest: Great Time: 1 – Sleep: 0 – Rescued Children: ?

20 07 2008

Buddy and I headed a couple of hours east this weekend for lots of music and very little (read:none) sleep.  No, I did not acquire a different husband, nor did we adopt any children recently.  Buddy is our only son, Alex.  I call him “Buddy” because, well, somehow, it makes it seem less “real” that he’s almost 19, over 6 feet tall, a high school graduate and not “my little boy” anymore.  We’ve always been buddies though and he doesn’t mind the moniker at all; so I take advantage whenever I can!

We headed to Sonshine Festival to work with Compassion International.  This particular outdoor festival is held annually, in Willmar, MN.  It started on Wednesday with a free concert by Jars of Clay.  The “official” festival began on Thursday.  We opted to go until Friday, because I can only manage so many sleepless nights before my normal level of insanity rises to a very-difficult-to-manage-scary-mom level.  It’s not pretty I assure you.  My kids will tell you too; once they come out of hiding.

Upon our arrival, we began the search for the “perfect” camping site.  Now, keep in mind here, that when I say “camping,” what I actually mean is purchasing our food from festival vendors and sleeping in a pick up truck.

Our family is actually quite adept at camping.  The real kind, with tents, tarps, open fires, backpacks, nature, forests, mosquitoes and such.  But, for such a short trip and just two of us, we opted for what we thought would be the easier option.  We’d just sleep in the truck.  Our pickup truck has a short bed.  Just 5 1/4 feet long.  This is generally OK for just about anything.  Anything that is, except sleeping when you’re 5’10” and 6’1″ respectively.   We will NOT discuss weight issues here as that’s strictly verboten!

After much driving around said festival site, we finally found the perfect spot.  Perfect here in the sense that it was, mostly level, not full of water, and in close proximity to the bathrooms.  In our case, close proximity was actually VERY close.  We ended up parking right next to a very lovely row of little blue “huts” filled with alcohol-based sanitary wash, mammoth sized rolls of toilet paper, and air freshener cakes the size of pizzas and you know; the stuff that these little huts are designed to be filled with.

On a not-so-side-note, the great people of Sonshine Fest did a fantastic job of keeping the porta potties clean and stocked and the trash skips emptied. Never have I been in a cleaner porta potty!

We got to see Hawk Nelson, Barlow Girl, David Crowder Band and Toby Mac and many others.  Check out the site to see a complete list.  The Compassion booth was set up right next to the artist autograph tables so we had a birdseye view of lots of signings.  Poor Toby didn’t quite know how to respond to the lady that got his signature and walked away without receiving the obligatory “knucke rap” from him.  He looked dejected to say the least.  She soon returned however and he was fine.

Suffice it to say that after a long day of outdoor work, I was not inclined to be encased in said truck bed with my son; or anyone else for that matter!

Being the gentleman that Buddy is (he truly is a sweetheart!), he said that he’d sleep in the cab so I could have the truck bed (lined with self-inflating sleep pads) to myself.

You moms are saying ” how sweet!  What a thoughtful boy.  Now she has the entire truck bed to herself!”

The sons are saying “what a pushover!  Little does she realize that the windows in here open wider and I have the keys if I feel the need for air conditioning or music beyond the 12 hours I’ve already listened to.”

Bedding down for the night was supossed to be fairly straight forward.  Notice I say supossed to be.  Does everyone here know “Murphy” or does he only live at my house?  First off, two of the three self-inflating sleep mats we packed would not self-inflate.  Apparently, in order for these wonders to work, they cannot contain any holes; or have the valves cut off.  Guess we missed this little tidbit when packing.  So, now I had one inflated pad and two “cotton swabs” to sleep on.  No problem.  I’m tough.  How bad can it be?  Well, let me tell you how bad it can be!  First off, the bottom of a truck bed isn’t actually flat.  It’s “ribbed.”  That means that it’s more like sleeping on a horizontal ladder than in a bed.  Add this to the humid weather, the bright lights, the loud music, and the even louder 13,000,000 teenagers we happened to be sharing the camping field with, and this does not make for ideal sleeping conditions.

No, it does not.  It doesn’t even come close!  In fact, it comes closer to how-stupid-are-you-that-you-actually-think-you-are-going-get-any-sleep-while-here-conditions.

Actually, not close at all.  Perfect actually.

After a sleepless night of trying to find just the perfect section of ladder to rest on, combined with feeling and hearing my son toss and turn all night along with the other 13,000,000 of us, I opted to go ahead and let Saturday morning begin despite not being able to remember when Friday night ended.

Realizing that the many food vendors present were not properly stocked up on anything remotely “breakfast” oriented, if you don’t count the mini fried donuts and the funnel cakes, we decided to risk losing our perfect camping spot in order to seek out genuine breakfast-type sustainence in town.  Our search didn’t take long and we were rewarded with a very filling, carbohydrate-laden, sweet-tooth-satisfying meal.  $25 later, we returned to the festival to begin day two.  As luck would have it, we found what we thought was an even more perfect camping spot.  Right in front of the entrance to the civic center and aptly located near the REAL restrooms!  Sorry porta potty.  I was opting for indoor plumbing.

Properly parked and armed with all our necessary festival attending gear, we headed in to do our duty.  For those of  you who may not be Christian-music-outdoor-festival-officianados, let me give you the rundown.

First, never go to one of these events without the proper seating equipment.  By this I mean, the folding camping chair.  Of course, we forgot ours so a quick trip to Wallyworld was in order.

Next, don’t forget the big, golf umbrella.  Because if you can count on one thing (even more than music) at these events, it’s rain; or sun, or wind, or hail, or snow, or sleet, or any combination thereof.  We forgot this too.

Third, you will tend to dehydrate while sitting outdoors at said festival so bring a big cooler with lots of water.  We forgot this too.

Fourth, NEVER attend these types of things without copious amounts of sunscreen.  You WILL burn to a crisp in a matter of mere minutes.  Trust me, I know these things from years of first hand experience.  I grew up in south Florida afterall.  We forgot this too.

Also, a hat.  To protect you from the same things as the umbrella, but on a smaller level; just in case the umbrella has to use the facilities, or blows away in the wind; or is “procured” by a more needy individual.  Yep!  We forgot these too.

Did I mention that this was our first event of this type?

No?

Sorry.

I just assumed you’d have figured this out by now.

After all this festival-attendance-required-gear-purchasing (and a quick check to see how much our Wallyworld stock went up), we settled in for what we hoped would be another great day of music and and even greater day for potential sponsors of Compassion children.  We were not disappointed (sleep deprived, but not disappointed)!

At the festival’s end, (awesome close out by The Newsboys), we returned to our “home-away-from-home” for what we hoped would be a better night’s sleep.  NOT!  We switched places this time, but it didn’t matter any.  We just tossed and turned in different spots.  I had to fend off the pesky seat belt buckles instead of the horizontal ladder, and the parking lot lighting was bright enough to simulate daytime just about anywhere.  Combined with the constant noise from the all night deconstruction of the concert stages and the ever-departing vehicles of various sizes and sounds, this was worse than the first night.  Note:  Do not park next to the motorcycle parking area if you want any sleep at all.  Or near the main stage.  Or in the well-lit parking lot.  Or within 20 miles of the festival for that matter.

At 6:15 AM, after finally giving up on any prospect of sleep, we dressed and made our way home.

It was an almost perfect weekend!  Not only were we privvy to some truly gifted and passionate artists, with incredible amounts of talent (and lots of ear-drum-popping-equipment), but we were blessed to be a part of a record breaking event!  Last year, just over 400 hundred children were rescued from poverty by people who were willing to give a little so others could have the means to live.  This year?  Over 525 children were sponsored!  EVERY child that was marked “priority” (one who’s waited over 6 months for a sponsor) was sponsored.  I spoke to many new sponsors who said they were searching for a way to make a difference.  They were excited about the prospect of being able to impact a life in such a powerful way.  God makes the impact; we are His tools.  We were well used this weekend and it was wonderful.

Next stop?  Higher Ground in Winstead, MN.  Hope to see you there!

Bring your required festival gear; and ear plugs; and a sleep mask; and the number to the nearest hotel with vacancies.





Small Sacrifices

1 07 2008

As I stood in the grocery checkout line today, I perused the magazine headlines.  “Lose 10 pounds in a week.”  “The new squid diet.”  “Eat all you want, and still lose weight.” I was interested!  After all, who can’t rely on tabloids to keep us accurately informed on the latest health news?  But alas, no dieting for me today I tell ya.  No sir!  Not this gal.  Tomorrow though, I’m ready to make the “sacrifice.”

I plan to eat well tonight because I’m scheduled to fast all day tomorrow.  That means that I will go the entire day without food.  A WHOLE DAY!  Of course I will have all the clean, fresh, cold water and caffeine free diet coke I can handle while going without this food.  If I’m lucky, I might even shed just one of the 60 or so extra pounds of body weight I currently possess.  I will also get to consume all this water and diet coke while sitting comfortably in my air conditioned suburban home; watching TV or reading a book.

I will go without food for one day so that one child may be able to eat one meal tomorrow.  That one meal will most likely consist of rice or beans and maybe some vegetables, but, will be prepared with clean water.  That one meal will also most likely be given only to that one family member.  There’s simply not enough to feed an entire family one meal a day.  Some of these families have several children.  Tough choices have to be made.  Which child do we enroll in the Compassion International Project in our village?  How do we decide which child gets enough?  What about our other children?

Have you had to ask these same questions about any of your children lately?

According to the latest statistics from the UN, 30,000 children under the age of 5 die EVERY DAY from preventable diseases.

30,000!  That’s 2/3’s the population of the city I live in!

Most of these children die because they lack clean drinking water, basic immunizations, and enough food to adequately nourish their frail little bodies.  They die because their parents, or other care providers had to make a tough choice.  A choice that most Americans can’t even imagine.

Why can’t we imagine?

Nearly 2/3’s of Americans over age 20 are overweight or obese.  Nearly 1/3 are clinically obese (BMI>30).

Less than 1/3 are considered to be at a healthy weight.

Approximately 17% of US children and adolescents are overweight.

The number one vegetable served to American toddlers over the age of 15 months is french fries.  French fries?  I’m betting not many toddlers have to be tricked into eating those veggies.

Unfortunately, the second set of statistics get a lot more press and attention here in the U.S. In the “West” in general actually.  They’re important to be sure.  The health crisis in America is largely due to poor eating habits (too much fat and sugar) and lack of exercise.  Some say that our life style will soon cripple the health care system because there will simply be too many morbidly obese, out of shape people to adequately care for.  Of course, these people will obviously be alive and well over the age of 5 when we’re attempting to provide this care.  We won’t be relying on help from others either.  The others, the first group of statistics, will not be here to care for us.  They died today.  30,000 more will die tomorrow.  And yet another 30,000 the next day.  That’s 10,980,000 (almost 11 million) this year alone.

While I realize my opening paragraph is dripping with sarcasm (or my poor attempt at it anyway), my intent is not sarcasm at all.  Don’t let my poor attempts keep you from action.

Please, please rescue a child today.  Spare just one family from the tragedy of choosing which child gets to live.  Chisel away at the number of children who die each day by making a small sacrifice.

I will “sacrifice” one day of meals tomorrow.  Believe me when I tell you that’s it’s truly NO sacrifice; not even a little one.  It’s a place to start.  It’s a small step that has the potential to change the world.

What will you sacrifice?