Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goals for 2011

I'm a big believer in goals.  I have always felt that if you set goals for yourself, you will be motivated to try and accomplish them.  Of course, I am also a big believer in Jesus, so I also believe that our plans succeed only in the might and power and will of the Lord.  Proverbs 16:3 says:  "Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed."  So, at the end of each year, I seek the Lord's will as I set goals for the upcoming year.  When I led the women's ministry at church, I would also seek God's will for ministry goals.  Each year, God would give me some word or verse and we would base our ministry vision on that goal.  This year, Brian and I have set some goals for our family, and I have set some personal goals.  All of these are God-honoring, so I am praying that God will enable us to achieve them.

First, we intend to get out of debt.  In a previous post, I mentioned that we had gone through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, and that our savings were getting us through the lean times of Brian's lay-off.  When Brian's former employer cut his salary at the end of 2009, we were in the midst of paying off debt.  In FPU terms, we were in the midst of the "debt snowball".  I don't mind telling you that in the first five weeks of the program that we paid off over $9,000.00.  Really. Granted, Brian was making good money and we got a tax refund in that period of time.  That was in Feb./March of 2009.  We continued to pay off debt and sold an rv, so things were looking good.  Our 'debt snowball' was interrupted, though, so we still have work to do.  We squirreled away money in our savings, and we needed it these last few months.  So for 2011, we are extremely motivated to finish what we started last year.  To that end, when Brian got his severance money from his former employer (finally) a few weeks ago, we paid off a small signature loan.  We did not put it on costly Christmas gifts.  As a matter of fact, we paid cash for our Christmas gifts, and we bought fewer.  Christmas isn't about stuff anyway.  Jesus Himself argues against the accumulation of material things in Matthew 6:19-21:  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be, also."

Second, we intend to build our savings back up.  In the explanation above, it should be obvious why we need to build our savings up. We used it!  This is where we will have to lean heavily on God.  It will be by His power and generosity that we will do this.

Third, I intend to get a full-time job.  Every time I mention this to my friends, they ask if I dislike subbing.  It's not that I dislike subbing.  Subbing is a part-time job.  I am not always able to take the jobs that are offered.  Sometimes the distance is too far, or the job is something I am not able to do.  There are no benefits for subs, and the pay is not great.  Since Brian is working again--and going in earlier--I am getting the kids to school.  In order to sub in elementary, I have to be there by 7:35, which is tough.  Obviously, I like pre-arranged jobs.  I know where I am going ahead of time, and I can prepare the kids in advance.  However, frequently jobs are offered in the early morning, and I have to be ready to go.  So, for the sake of my sanity and for my family's sake, I need a consistent, full-time job with benefits.  I'll continue to sub, God willing, for the remainder of the school year (while keeping my eyes peeled for long-term sub jobs or full-time aide positions beginning in February).  I am praying that God will give me a permanent position for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year, preferably as a full-time special education teacher.

Fourth, but more immediately, I intend to finish my teacher certification classes.  My classes resume next week, and I will finish (again, God willing) in February.  I will be taking my special education certification test in February.  Hopefully, I'll pass!

Fifth, and maybe hardest of all, I will work toward grace and forgiveness towards those who have disappointed and hurt me.  I don't mean for that to sound exploitative or self-serving.  Honestly, I have some spiritual work to do.  I've got to get some things right in my own heart, and I really, really need the Lord's help with this.  I honestly don't think I bear unforgiveness in my heart towards Brian's former employer.  Brian and I plan to write about some of the stuff that we've endured, only because we've learned that we are not unique.  More and more, companies are struggling and leaving a mess in their wake.  We've learned some things that may be of use to lots of people.  We don't want anyone else to experience the things that we have and that we know others have.  People have shared some of the most heart-breaking stories with us.  We want others to learn from our mistakes and experiences, not repeat them. 

Who or what do I need to forgive?  Well, that's tough.  I haven't really wanted to talk much about this, even though I have been hurting.  The thing is, there are so many other people who are struggling with real dilemmas.  I have a friend in Kenya who is a missionary.  Her landlord is threatening to evict her, and she had to send the orphans that she has been caring for to another children's home.  It broke her heart to do it, and she is still in danger of losing her home.  That's something real and tangible that she is struggling with (You can help Cheryl by visiting her website and donating here  So my petty concerns seem well, petty.  I just want to live peacably with others.  I want to see the Lord made famous in my life, my church, and my community.  There are so many who are suffering and struggling, and I hate to see disunity in the fellowship of believers that I belong to.  If you go to church with me, yes, I am struggling with the work that I did on the Bylaws Team and the fact that the church did not approve our work.  If you don't go to church with me, then I think you can understand how hard it is to be disappointed by people that you love and trust.  The best way that I can explain the circumstances is to use an analogy:  Imagine that you are given a task to perform by the operating board of your employer.  At first you are hesitant, because it seems like an unnecessary task.  The more you explore and research your task; however, the more you see the necessity of it.  So, for two years, you work and work on the task.  Then, as the time draws near to present your findings to the company, you find out that some of your colleagues are meeting in secret to sabotage the work you have been doing.  You try to reason with them, and find that they are determined to work against you and that they are pulling in other members of the company to help them in this task.  Worse still, you find that one of the members of the operating board have been calling employees to tell them that the work you are doing is wrong, and that they should vote against it.  How would you feel?  Betrayed, right?  Hurt, possibly?  Angry?  Check, check, and check.

The fact that it is not a business, but a church compounds my hurt and disappointment.  The fact that the folks who met in 'secret' aren't really a secret to me is hard.  The fact that I am commanded to love and forgive is not lost on me.  I know I have to, so from this point forward, I will work towards love and forgiveness.  How will I do it?  I have no idea, but God is good and He will show me how.  I have a few other goals for 2011, but it seems like these five are at the top of my list.  Number five is important to me, and if you are struggling spiritually with unforgiveness, then perhaps you will join me in overcoming it.  At any rate, this year--as in all the years that have come before--my goals are placed before the Lord, for His will to be done.

Many blessings,


Monday, December 27, 2010

Imaginary Friends

My daughter, Lily, has an imaginary friend.  Her name is Jennifer Gamasill.  Today, as I was having my lunch, Lily and Jennifer Gamasill were celebrating Jennifer Gamasill's 5th birthday.  As I am writing, Lily is giving her gifts.  Mysteriously, they are the same gifts that Lily got for Christmas.  Hmmm...

Lily cracks me up when she plays.  She is very imaginative, and we often hear her singing in big, operatic voices when she is playing.  I try not to interfere, as she gets embarrassed if she knows I'm watching.  I love it that she has an imaginary friend, as it reminds me of my own childhood and my own imaginary friends.

I had two imaginary friends that I know of, though I don't remember them.  My parents told me stories of how I played with my husband, Harry, and I carried an imaginary kangaroo in my pocket.  Harry and I got into a lot of trouble, and apparently, it was often loud.  My parents' favorite story about Harry was when I came running down the hallway of our house yelling, "Don't worry, Harry!  I won't let 'em getcha!!"  It sort of makes you wonder why children have imaginary friends, and how they come up with what they are and how they look.  I mean, why a husband named Harry?  Why a kangaroo?  My dad wrote a sweet poem about my kangaroo.  I have a copy of the poem somewhere.  I remember it begins, "I have a little kangaroo, it lives inside my mind..."  That kangaroo was killed by my dad's friend when I was about four.  He asked to hold it, then squashed it in his hands.  It sounds awful, but he didn't have kids so he didn't realize that he had done something that I would take seriously.  He was just kidding around, but apparently my mom was about an inch away from killing him when he did it.  They tell me that I didn't react, but the kangaroo never came back after that.  My dad's friend felt bad about it, so he gave me a toy kangaroo to play with.

My brother didn't have imaginary friends, and we always attributed that to the fact that he had a sibling to play with.  I wondered if my own children would have them.  Jacob never did, much to my disappointment.  Matthew did, though.  He had a friend named Freddy Gomez that would call him on his toy phone.  Freddy didn't actually play at our house all that much, mostly he just called Matthew to talk with him on the phone.  Jesse didn't have imaginary friends, but he didn't need them.  He has always been very grounded in reality and followed his brothers around like a little puppy.  While Lily doesn't seem to be lonely, she is very creative and has a vivid imagination. I think Jennifer Gamasill exists because Lily wants her to.  Frankly, I think she created a playmate that she could boss around!

On another note, we had a wonderful Christmas.  After we opened gifts here at home, we drove over to my parents' place in Perrin.  Brian bought them an old-fashioned looking record player/cd player combo.  I brought over some of the old records that I borrowed stole from them when I got married.  We listened to Cream's album Strange Brew on vinyl.  My dad was so funny.  He said, "I wondered what happened to these old records!"  He knew.  He was just being nice.  Brian had bought the boys Airsoft guns, so they got to shoot them out at my parents' land.  My dad bought the boys knives, which he has done every year since they were born.  Yikes.  You might be a redneck if you give your grandkids knives for Christmas when they're babies.

Many blessings,


Friday, December 24, 2010


Well, Hello!  Merry Christmas to you!  We're so glad you stopped by.  This Christmas Eve, we're having Chicken and Dumplin's.

Brian says that they taste great!

Can I offer you something to drink?  How about a soda?

Maybe a nice glass of sweet iced tea?

After we have supper, we'll have a slice of pecan pie.  I have a special recipe that I've developed. 

Oh, yes I did.  Close your mouth, Baby.  You're drooling all over the keys.  We let the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve.  Don't they look sweet?

Lily opened a gift that Jacob gave her.

You can play the Iron Man 2 video game on Wii with the boys.

Oh, that lovely aroma?  I forgot to mention that Big Daddy is smoking a turkey out back.  It's for Christmas tomorrow.  We'll be enjoying it with my parents.

Oh, yes he did.

Well, we're off to church for the Candlelight Christmas Eve service.  I hope that you'll join us.  We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas.  Brian's new job, our family and friends, our health, and for God's provision throughout the year.  Most of all, we're grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Merry Christmas, and many blessings to you,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kindness of a stranger and movie love...

I took the four kids to the grocery store to get the necessary supplies for our Christmas meals.  We went to Central Market in Plano, and when we got in line to check out, I discovered that my wallet was gone.  I know that there are worse feelings than realizing you don't have your wallet when you need it, but at the moment of that realization, it's hard to imagine what they are!  Thankfully, the manager let me call Brian and he used Brian's debit card number to ring up the groceries.  Thank you, kind sir, for trusting me. I am very grateful.

Now, we're all back home and the children have been fed and the groceries (mostly) put away.  The little ones are watching Tom & Jerry (one of my favorite cartoons) and the older boys are playing video games.  It's gloomy and cold outside, and I am inside watching one of my all-time favorite movies:  Open Range.  If you've never seen it, you really should.  Such a great story and cast.  It's a western with lots of guns and there's even a bit of romance.  There are a lot of great lines that Brian and I go around quoting to each other.  Love, love, love it.  There's a line that one of the leads, Charlie Waite (Kevin Costner) says to one of the townsfolk that I really like.  The man tells Charlie that their town has become a terrible place.  Charlie says, "You could do something about it."  The man replies that they can't do anything, they're freight carriers.  He tells Charlie that he didn't raise his sons just to see them die.  Charlie says, "Well you may not know this, but there's things that gnaw at a man worse than dying." Isn't that true?  Better to stand and face adversity, than to do nothing. 

Anyway, Merry Christmas!  I hope you get to indulge in a favorite pastime, and that someone does something really nice for you today. 

Many Blessings,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Text messaging 101

In a few days, it will be Christmas.  In a few more days, it will be the start of a new year.  I've been thinking a lot lately about the things that I've learned this past year.  One of the things I've learned with regard to text messaging--and which was reinforced for me last night--is that you should be extremely cautious about texting people that you don't know well.  If you don't know someone well, and by this, I mean you haven't had very many face-to-face conversations, or if the conversations you've had have not given you a sense of how that person feels about life in general or how they react to stress, then maybe you should restrict your text messages to simple comments or phrases.  For example, an appropriate thing to text your new friend might be, "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy New Year!"  Simple questions that can be answered with 'yes' or 'no' might be o.k., as long as the question you are asking is straightforward:  "Can I borrow your vacuum?"  This question would be o.k.  You might even add a bit of explanation:  "Can I borrow your vacuum?  Mine is broken."  On the other hand, something like, "Where are you?" can invite hostility or resentment if the person you are texting is easily provoked, or is in the midst of a stressful situation (or a relaxing one.  Think about it.). 

I've learned this both as the sender of an unfortunate text and as the bystander-to-the-recipient of an unfortunate text.  Learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.  Don't enter the new year uninformed!  Make this the year that you communicate clearly and avoid conflicts and disputes.  When texting, I make it a point to avoid long conversations.  It's tedious, anyway, to be punching in all those letters.  Just make the effort to call.  If I don't know how someone reacts, or if I suspect that the person on the other cell phone might be given to drama, I don't bother texting.  I sent someone a text this year that led to a serious sit-down meeting--all because my message had been misunderstood. 

Brian and I have been together for twenty years and I have borne him four children, and still our text messages are short and to-the-point.  Here's an example:  "Is the dog ok?"  "Yes" "Great!  C u later."  See how easy that was?  That whole conversation was shorthand for an incident that he and I both knew about, and that we would talk more about later.  Because we don't have that level of intimacy or knowledge with most people, text messaging doesn't work as a clear means of communication. 

Here's a little tip for the young people out there:  Text very little.  Really.  I can't imagine the temptation that you all have with that. I got into enough trouble with the telephone and snail mail.  I'm sure it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway:  If you can't say something to the person's face, don't say it on a text or email. 

With that, there is my lesson for the day.  I hope that you're enjoying Christmas Break--that is, if you're getting one.  Brian is enjoying his new job, and I sincerely thank all of you for your prayers and for asking about how things are going.  He is very happy, and we are grateful for the opportunity.  As for me, I am staying busy subbing.  I enjoy working with children and am learning a LOT.  I am currently on Christmas Break with my four little angels punks.  If I could get my oldest two sons to stop fighting and swearing, well, that would be DELIGHTFUL.  My perspective of my sons' teenage years is very much like my perspective of childbirth:  This will all be over soon.  At some point they will grow up, God willing, and these difficult years will be but a distant memory. 

And then Jesse and Lily will be teens.  Yikes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Checking in...Finally!

I was shocked to see that it has been over a week since I've last written!  My goal is to write twice a week, but I can see that it's going to be challenging to do that.  Unfortunately, because it's been so long, I have quite a lot of news to report.  So as not to write too much, I'll sum up:

  • We found out on Friday, Dec. 3 that my dad does not have Alzheimer's.  I'm sorry, that was rather abrupt.  Let me explain.  I mentioned in a previous post that my dad was having some health issues that were necessitating an eventual move from their beloved homeplace.  Specifically, my dad has been having some pretty significant short-term memory loss.  He has been undergoing tests for the last month, and the neurologist discovered that my dad had been having mini-strokes.  These were the cause of the memory loss.  The doctor has prescribed some medicine to aid with this problem, and is exploring a course of treatment to prevent further strokes.  To my family's way of thinking, this is good news.  Not only is there an answer for my dad's memory loss, but there is treatment.  We were afraid that either there would be no explanation, or that he would be diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  My grandmother's death from this terrible disease in November of 2005 still looms large over our family, and we were afraid of my dad having it, as well.
  • Brian had a great first week of work with the new company (Southwest Construction Services).  He is enjoying the new position and is getting to know the people at the office.  We are truly grateful to God for the new job.  He goes in early and gets off early, also.   The new job has also created new challenges for us, though. Because he goes in so early, I am supervising getting all four kids to school.  Last week, we had a couple of hiccups, but I think that we'll all get into the routine.  Let's just say that I'm grateful that the kids can ride the bus to school.
  • I've been subbing quite a lot.  I had jury duty last Monday, the 6th, and had to turn down three jobs.  I was scheduled to work the rest of the week, and had to miss one of those days because I had to take Matthew to the doctor for a sinus infection.  He's all better after a round of antibiotics.  (Obviously, I was not chosen for jury duty.)
  • I finished up my Effective Teaching Practices class this past weekend.  I turned in my final assignment on Saturday evening, and I received notification this morning that I earned full credit for the class.  The class met on Saturdays, so I missed a lot of fun stuff, like Jacob's wrestling tournaments and the ladies evangelistic brunch on Dec. 4th.  As of right now, I am halfway through my coursework.  I've completed two classes and my Field-Based Experience (class observation).  I start my next classes on January 4th, and these are going to be night classes. 
  • Jesse is  being evaluated for dyslexia.  He's been struggling with reading and spelling for quite some time.  I think that if he is admitted to the dyslexia program at school that it will help him quite a bit.  He's a smart boy, and we don't want him to lose confidence in himself because of the challenges he is facing in reading. 
All in all, it's been a good week.  After the challenges of the last year, I'm grateful for busy, productive days.  OH!  I just remembered!  Maybe the biggest praise of last week was that Brian received a significant portion of the severance/back pay that his former employer owed him!  We were so glad, too, because it came just in time for us to pay our property taxes.  No, really, we were glad to be able to pay those taxes.  We were just about to draw out money from savings when the money came.  We were rejoicing and praising the Lord, I can tell you. 

I guess that hits all the highlights, and hopefully explains why I haven't posted in a little while.  I'll try to do better.  So many of you are writing to me to encourage me in writing this blog, and I don't want to let you down.  It helps me, also, to get things off of my chest.  I feel better already....

Many blessings,