Tag Archives: family

Ripley! I believe it.

I knew I was in trouble when my spouse came home about a year after we were married and announced we should get a dog.   I was still trying to figure out who was in charge of what in our marriage and a dog was not on my list.   I’d already abandoned the idea that I was going to carry the role of cooking in our household.  This happened one Saturday morning when I melted a spatula into the burnt bacon on the stove and still tried to serve it.

Don’t misunderstand.  I like dogs.  I just happen to be one of those other kind of people.   I love cats.   So the negotiation began.   I lost round one.   He started looking at dogs.    I told him I didn’t want to go look at all the puppies and feel guilt when we leave them behind.  I’d end up dragging home a St. Bernard because I couldn’t say no.   I said, “just find one that won’t shed, or yip, or bite, or shiver”.    He hauled me over to the Portland Humane Society a couple weeks later and we brought home a tiny little thing.   The lady at the pound promised that her breed (half chihuahua, half terrior) wouldn’t shed.   The lady at the pound lied.

When people meet Ripley for the first time they smile and say “Oh just like Ripley’s Believe it or not”.   We smile back and say “No, Ripley, as in the main character from Aliens”.    Ripley, like her namesake, is a tough little woman who’d give everything to protect the ones she loves.   She’s also a tad independent.    As new dog owners, we bought a book all about potty training a new puppy.   Ripley promptly peed on the book.   Clever.

When Ripley was a puppy, she could jump.   She’d take a running start and leap over the coach, from the backside.  This was somewhat surprising when you were sitting unsuspectingly on the couch.   Ripley is eleven.  She’s slowed down a bit.  She can still get up on the bed and does so nightly.  She crawls under the covers and snuggles in right at my side.

My grandmother loved my dog.  She liked to feed her bits of Taco Bell nachos.   She couldn’t remember her name so called her Penelope.   Ripley answers to anything if you’re feeding her.

Like most new mom’s, I was nervous when we introduced Ripley to the new baby.   I shouldn’t have worried.  Ripley routinely checked in to make sure the baby was okay.  Ripley is hard to say for a toddler so for awhile the dog’s name switched to Lippey.  I think it fits her.   Now Ripley will sit and watch cartoons with our daughter.  Its like her second puppyhood.  We tell our four year old that Ripley is a grandma dog so you have to be gentle.

Ripley started breaking a rule.   She gets on all the couches.  She sheds all over new furniture.   Neither of us have the heart to make her get down.  If dogs years really do equate to seven human years than Ripley is 77.  People tell us that little dogs with good health care live to be 14 or so.  I try not to think about it.

My spouse emailed me the other day and said that Ripley was cuddled in front of the fireplace.   This is my favorite place in the whole world to sit.  He said, she’s your dog.   Its true you know.  Sometimes in life we get what we want.  Sometimes we lose the argument.   I like dogs.  I love cats.  But I adore Ripley.   She’s my dog.


Filed under Family

Wondering, Loving and Praying

5:00 Wednesday PM:   Headed home.  Grateful for 4 day weekend.   Praying for friends and family.  Wondering if the traffic could go any slower.

6:00 Wednesday PM:   Putting together chairs.  Grateful for new furniture.   Wondering if anyone will notice if they wobble.   Hubby notices.  Hanging upside down trying to balance chairs.  Huh…made in China.  Praying for the persecuted church in China.

8:00 Wednesday PM:   Still putting together chairs.  Wondering if anyone will notice my hands have permanently cramped into the shape of an Alen wrench.   Grateful for my father who has worked with his hands his whole life.   Praying the doctor can help him with the new treatment for his curled fingers.

10:00 Wednesday PM:   Tucking in my daughter.  Loving her eyelashes, loving her goodnight prayers.   Wondering if she’ll ever have a sibling.   Praying for Christine in Rwanda.  Praying this other daughter will have a good night.

11:30 Wednesday PM:   Making cranberry sauce.   Loving the smells of cloves and cinnanmon.   Loving the sound the cranberries make when they swell and pop.   Making cinnamon rolls.  Grateful for 16 years of cinnamon rolls with this man standing beside me.   Praying for the marriages of friends and family.

8:00 am Thursday AM:    Running a mile.  Cold.  Wondering if a mile constitutes actual excersize enough to work off the meal headed my way.  Grateful for sidewalks, friendly neighbors and a track at the local school.   Wonder if the school tuition in Rwanda is caught up.

9:00 am Thursday AM:     Getting ready.  Blowdryer.   Its pink. Praying for a friend facing tests for cancer.  Loving my daughter’s little toes and big smile.  Grateful for warm clean water.   Praying for the 18 people headed to our house.

10:00 am Thursday AM:    Breakfast with family.    Loving the cream cheese frosting on warm cinnamon rolls.   Loving Greek yogurt, bagels, fresh fruit.   Hoping next year sausage and cheddar are back in my diet.   Praying for family not present at the table.

11:00 Thursday AM:     Cleaning out a turkey with my mama.   Loving 35 years with this woman.   Wondering if the marketing departments know I’m aware that they leave the fat chunks for extra weight.   Praying I get to clean many more turkeys.  Praying for friends who no longer have their mamas.  Missing my grandma, first thanksgiving without her.

2:00 Thursday PM:    Cleaning out the garbage disposal.   Wondering why its only me that clogs it up.   Grateful the only time I cook is at holidays.    Praying for patience.

4:00 Thursday PM:   Nineteen people in our house.   Grinning at the pile of coats and shoes and scarves.    Praying.   Eating.   Loving the full plates and full tables.   Grateful for a place to include everyone.  Wondering where the pepper went.  Praying that these guests feel welcome and loved.  Praying that they know how very much God loves them.

10:00 Thursday PM:   Hugs.  Lots of hugs.   Putting away piles of games.   Wondering whose crystal dish I found.  Grateful for a country where prayer and thanksgiving are free.   Praying for our leaders.

4:00 Friday AM:   Turning off the alarm.  Why was I getting up?   Oh yes, its about the socks.   Wondering if it might not be worth paying normal price.   Grateful for friends who are as crazy as me.    Praying for safety.

1:00 Friday PM:   Tired now.   Wondering why the bank didn’t tell me I had a daily spending limit.   How annoying.   Grateful for a sister who has a debit card too.   Praying friends and family will enjoy the gifts.   Grateful for the first and ultimate Christmas gift.

5:00 Friday PM:    Eating pizza.   Loving pineapple and mozarella.   Grateful for old friends.  Praying for their teen group and ours.  Praying for wisdom for parents.

10:00 Saturday AM:   Running three miles.   Did I already mention the cold?   Grateful for coaches.   Praying I’ll be in charge of my body, not it in charge of me.

11:00 Saturday AM:   Eating a cinnamon role.    I think I already mentioned the cinnamon roles.   Really they are that good.   Wondering when I last blogged.   Praying for my niece and nephews.   Grateful for time to sit.

2:00 Saturday PM:   Craft bazaar.   Wondering where all the hats came from.   Wondering if its right to feel guilty for not buying a pot holder from the little Grandma.   Grinning with my kiddo at the tiny Christmas tree for her doll house.   Grateful for fun days.

5:00 Saturday PM:   Sitting by the fire.   Wondering if I can finish all my shopping this weekend.   Probably not.   Praying that in our house, that the miracle of Jesus doesn’t get lost in the ribbons and bows.   So very grateful for Emmanuel.  God with us.

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Filed under Family, Home

Little Notes, Big Impact

It’s my birthday.  I’m thirty five.   This is a very stable and confident sounding number.    It’s also halfway to seventy.   My maternal grandmother who is ninety one tells me that 70 is young.   I appreciate the encouragement.

I’ve always been the kind of person who thrives on atta girls.   I had a report card one time that actually said “needs too much encouragement.  Can’t work without outside approval”.    People say that those with a healthy self esteem don’t need others to prop them up.    While  I understand this theory, I actually think this is completely ridiculous.    Last night, running around the track in the dark I totally would have quit when I got a stomach ache had it not been for the amazing marathon runner beside me urging me on.   Encouragement keeps us moving foward.  It can keep us holding on when we don’t see a way through the dark.

Growing up, I loved the days at school where mom had put a note in my lunch box.  I got a note from her today.

I’m blessed today with facebook messages, texts, emails and I even got a fax.  This kind of encouragement just makes me smile.

I was missing my paternal grandmother today.  She died on New Years day, just nine months ago.  She never missed a single birthday my entire life.   She also never skipped sending thank you notes or congratulations cards.   I’m sure my love for the written note comes from Grandma.   This note sits above my desk.

When I’m frustrated with parenting or feel like I’ve blown it, I read this note and remember I come from good stuff.

I blogged last week about my teacher who gave me frowns all year.   This note showed up with a whole page of sticker smiley faces attached.

My daughter gave me one of my all time favorite encouragement notes.

It really does come down to that.   I love you.   That’s what people want to know.  Take a minute today, write a note.  Tell someone you love them.  Encourage them on.

My 91 year old grandmother has alzheimers.  She is doing well.  Still knows who we are.   Still tells us she loves us.   We’ve been writing her notes.     Someday she’s going to hear the the best words of encouragement ever spoken.  Word from her Creator.   “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”.

Be encouraged today.


Filed under Family

The House that Jim Built

My cat has been acting very strangely.    He is suspicious of moving furniture and belongings in boxes.   He’s taken to shadowing me when I go from room to room.    This cat is eleven years old.  He’s been through one move with us before when we remodeled this house.

I remember when Jim, our good friend who owns a contracting company, first came to look at our house.    It was then an 850 square foot A Frame.    It had a sparkly gold sink and gilded golden frame in the bathroom.   The shower was tucked into the corner of the A-Frame.  This sounds harmless but it meant that if you took a shower you had to lean sideways the entire time.    I showed Jim this shower and told him I really wanted a claw foot tub and could he somehow make that happen.   Jim had the good grace not to laugh at me. He took our rudimentary “plans” and crafted them into a house plan that the county approved and the remodel commenced.

One day early in the project, Jim was at our house talking about the next few steps.  He ripped out a pen and started writing a list and diagram on one of our walls.   He must have noticed our surprised face because he laughed and said “That wall’s not going to be there anymore, you know that right?”

We moved out of the house when Jim ripped a hole in the side of it (purposefully) and we spent the next two months camping out at my parents.  My old bedroom housed me, my husband, our dog, cat and chinchilla.   It was cozy.   The cat did fine.

My father graciously agreed to wire the house for us.  Actually, I think what he said was, “I’ll wire your house if one of the rooms is a nursery”  Subtle.    My husband and I helped pull wire, and we both learned how to wire electric switches.   I wrote Bible verses on the beams and studs while we wired.

We moved back in right before Christmas.   What a great Christmas.   Jim came in on time and on budget.   Jim is a craftsman.   My father in law paid him the best compliment I’ve heard when he stated that Jim somehow added 800 square feet to an A Frame and made it look like it was original.    One of the things I love best about this house is something Jim did as an afterthought.   When our concrete steps were poured, he pressed three leaves into the corner of one step, one for each of our family.

Right now, I’m sitting on the couch of this beautiful house listening to the Washougal River.  Sitting on the deck, drinking coffee, are the new buyers.   They told me that if I’m ever back in the neighborhood to feel free and come sit on the deck and they’ll make me a cup of coffee.  I appreciated the offer.   I love this house.

My husband and my daughter are, by nature, both forward thinking people.  They both love to plan adventures and get excited about things to come.   I’m more like the cat.  A little wary about change.

We move in six days.   The most important parts of this home are coming with us.   My great grandmother’s piano, a few quilts, my husband’s computer full of all of our family photos.   I’m thrilled to be moving.  The sale was a miracle.   Our new house is close to everyone and has room for tons of family and friends. It’s gorgeous and has amazing potential.  It has a garage and a flat driveway!  It has a backyard for my kiddo to run.    You know what it’s missing?   Some leaves pressed into the front concrete.  It needs some bible verses written on studs.   It needs some personal touches and some history.  I love history.   There are a few things that the house needs practically speaking as well.   We’re going to call Jim.   Maybe he can press some new leaves in concrete for me.   Maybe then the cat will quit following me constantly and can curl up and purr.

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Art, Uncles and Synergy

Ever notice that others can bring out the best in you?   My entire life my Uncle Don has been one of those people.  Uncle Don is one of the most competitive people I know.  He’s also one of the most talented.  Let me give you a random unsolicited piece of advice.    Do not start a contest, game, story, joke or in this case BLOG with Uncle Don….unless you plan on investing some time and possibly some money in keeping up with the guy!

So I’ve been blogging for about two months now.  It started in Rwanda as a way to keep people back home informed that the team was, in fact, still alive.    I ended up really enjoying the blogging and it was a therapeutic way to process the overwhelming events we saw each day.     I’m also by nature a number’s girl and it’s too fun to watch the daily statistics and see exactly how many people are coming by to read the newest post.

I have to sidebar here as an example in my point of this blog and tell you that my mother is standing over my shoulder correcting my spelling and grammar.

About a month ago, my uncle joined the blogging nation and I’ve been trying to keep up ever since.  Last night I went to the library for my daughter but brought home a book that is sure to give me a leg up….WordPress for Dummies.   Watch out Don….

For those of you who have read this far and want to know what all of this has to do with art, you are going to have to read Uncle Don’s blog post today… it’d called Dylan’s Lion.



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My aunt and uncle and cousin moved into town today.   What a joy to have more family in town!  We spent most of the day hauling their belongings up and down stairs and trying not to put nicks in their brand new walls.   I say trying because I personally helped take a chunk out of one of their ceilings with what I swear is the tallest bookcase I’ve ever seen.  Sorry.  I’ll come help paint it.  At one point in the day when we were surrounded by cardboard and wrapping I asked my husband if we did in fact really want to personally move.  I hate moving.  The entire process is unsettling, exhausting and overwhelming.  I remember when we moved last time, eleven years ago, that I swore I’d never do it again.  Foolish thing to swear something like that.   Our house has been on the market for five weeks now.  We’ve had two people look at it.    Today my uncle looked around at the mess and said “This is a very good day”.   How right he is.

When we were in Rwanda most of the team went and visited a new settlement of people just down the road from where we were working.  Several months earlier their homes had been destroyed in a mud slide.   They were relocated to a new field and the government provided each family with a tarp.  That’s right.  A tarp.  Since then, these families had scrounged up some sheet metal and random wood pieces to form house like structures.   Some of them are working on building new one room mud floor houses. When they move into their new house, they will take their tarp with them.

In light of that comparison I promise that when we do get a buyer that I will cheer.   I will try to remember to be more grateful than grumbling when I’m packing the boxes.   I want to smile as I carry them upstairs.    If I don’t, please remind me that it is a very good day.

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Filed under Home, Rwanda

A day in the life

Each day, two of our team are assigned to stay with Pastor Simon’s family to help prepare lunch and dinner for the team. Yesterday, Michelle and I were blessed to participate with this amazing family. I have to tell you, I’ve never seen people work as hard as Rwandans.

Karitas, Simon’s wife, and Dena, his daughter taught us to make Rwandese flat bread. (WONDERFUL) over the back yard charcoal fire. They have an american style kitchen but when they cook for a team as large as ours they use the outside African style kitchen. Basically a huge fire in a concrete oven.

The food has been delicious, chicken, beef, omelets, rice, beans, potatoes, green beans, peas….and the fruit is the very best. Fresh from the tree bananas, avocados, passion fruit, tree tomatoes. YUM. At one point yesterday, we were sittng in the back yard doing dishes with a bar of soap and big buckets of water and talking to Frazier and Baboo, Simon’s 8 and 9 year old sons about Bat Man and Mr. Bean. Talk about a culture merge. The whole family speaks french, kinyan rwanda, english, swahili and they were getting Alexandra to teach them Spanish at dinner last night. What a joy.

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