My take on the "shoes"...

IF you haven't read Steve's "Death by Fashion" blog post, the do that first and come back to here...(it's such a good read - he's an amazing writer...I'd read his blog any day...)

OK...So...I think it's time for a little "girl details" on this post. I love my hubby dearly - but there are some things he doesn't quite give you a clear enough picture about.

Steve working for this company has had it's benefits. Shoes has definitely been one of them. We've gotten way too many shoes. Not complaining mind you. We haven't had to purchase casual shoes for the kids hardly at all, Steve's been able to ask for things other than running shoes for the last year and a half, I actually own a couple of pairs of shoes. (I once went about 8 years before buying another pair of shoes - I'm a flip-flop girl or barefoot girl - shoes are NOT a necessity for me...yep, you heard, well "read" it here...I don't like shoes. They are annoying. They don't let my feet breathe. Flips are the way to go. However, living in the PNW has given me a new appreciation for these luxuries. Anyway - we've received so many that we've given away more than we've kept. There's just no possible way we could keep them all.

Last year, Steve was able to choose 3 pairs of Cole Haan's. I thought he was going to suffocate under the pressure at the time. He did pretty well. Remember - I'm not a shoe girl, so my excitement is not a true measurement of his success. So, when he came home telling me that he'd be receiving 16 pairs of womens shoes from Cole Haan...my first reaction was to laugh. Out loud. For a while. I knew this was torture. I could read it in his tone, his face, let alone his words. He was suffocating once more under the pressure. So what did I do? I called a few girls around church to ask them their shoe sizes. Steve was tortured that much more - feeling that he not only had to impress me, but now these girls who actually really like shoes. The pressure was unsurmountable for him.

so he mentions fashion boot camp, or shoe boot camp or something of the like. Please...what a crock! I had him spend about 5-10 minutes (which probably did seem like hours of torture) looking at the Cole Haan web site. I just kept saying - "Honey, just stick with simple heels. Basic. You can't go wrong. It's shoes. Girls love them. It'll be great. You'll do great." That's right - I didn't pull a Hitler dictatorship of shoe anarchy saying, "you will get this or you are a loser." No way - my man is more than capable (as the pics on his blog clearly show). Sitting at the Cole Haan site I pointed out a couple of pairs, maybe on 2 pages, and then had him look at the next couple and say which would be good or not good. (There were several that were clearly the wrong choice...but it was obvious even to him...).

When he came home, yes, I didn't bound and tear into the boxes when he brought them in the door. What he fails to mention is that I was making dinner. Kaylee was helping me cook. Plus I think (although I may be wrong though) I was talking Noah through homework, trying to find things around the house that started with the letter "S". I was NOT and I repeat NOT attempting to further torture my beloved. I was just trying to cook dinner.

So, the box comes in - he's tortured and I dig into the box. He was amazing! He succeeded! He picked fabulously! I knew the girls would go nuts! I picked up the phone and called Chele to come pick up the shoes of her choice. When she put them on, Steve was totally freaked out because Chele was actually normal height. I wish I had a picture of us together. I didn't get the camera out. Oops. Anyway - Steve kept telling her to take the shoes off because it was too freaky. Not her wearing the shoes, but the height it gave her. She was only about 3-4 inches shorter than me (with me wearing no shoes). Anyway - she loved them. Duh! Of course she did. My man did an amazing job.

The next day I carted off to work with shoes in a giant box. I posted an email to the staff. This is where I should really let Brian Condello put his two cents worth in. It wasn't long before my office was filled with girls oooh-ing and aaaaahhh-ing over shoes - it was so stereotypical of what you'd expect to hear - gasps of joy and excitement - oh those look great - you've got to take those - I don't have anything to wear with them, so I guess I need to go shopping - seriously, I can have these? - they aren't exactly my size, but I'll make them work - those are amazing - and on and on and on and on... I sat proud. My man had made all these girls smile (and on that day we needed a little bit of a pick me up...you can see that post next, I think, about John Stumbo...).

So babe...you have a gift! A gift to choose women's shoes. I know you don't want to admit it. I know you just took a hit to your manly-ness...but you're good. And you did just as well with the handbags the next day...way to go babe! Regardless, you, my lobster, always make me smile, always make me proud - even if you are carrying 16 pairs of heels... I love ya!! (and, that's the rest of the story...)



So...we've waited for a year. Last year was the first..and this year will not be the last. It is our biggest student ministries event of the year - 2 hours completely focused on missions. This year we had an Africa focus - we're sending our 2nd team to Burkina Faso to partner with CM&A missionaries there. But this is bigger than Africa. This is bigger than a 2 hour event. This is about being used by God and being a part of His story to love and call His creation, His people, those created by His hand, to His name.

This event is NOT about numbers...it's about the cool-ness of having a front-row seat to see God at work in the lives of those around you. I am still processing this on so many levels. As a youth pastor - seeing students catch a vision of a mission-al life - looking out for others more than yourselves; mercy, compassion and sacrifice so that people may catch a glimpse of Jesus; providing for the physical needs of people out a heart of Christ-like compassion. Watching students commit their lives to foreign missions as God allows...watching an artist with a love for God and a love for the people of Africa share his gift of creativity and his heart through message...seeing and hearing students embody 3 amazing missionaries (David Livingstone, Mary Slessor, Betty Greene)...hearing fabulous worship from musicians who love Jesus and love to sing to Him...seeing the people I get to serve alongside shine in so many ways...having conversations with students talking now about visions of foreign missions they already have...it's clearly a highlight of the year...almost as exciting as seeing students come to know Christ... I get to see things full circle - from students asking questions about who Jesus is, to accepting Him as their Lord and Savior...all the way to going wherever He calls them to go. I love it!

Then...processing all this as a friend. I look at so many people that were sitting in this room as friends. There are many who are no longer middle school or high school students who are on the fast-track to serving God overseas. There is a high desire on their heart to be where He wants them to be...but sometimes the waiting for His timing can be so hard... in the meantime, I love watching them grow, see their passions and desires for service increase...and at the same time, as hard as it is, seeing their faith in Him increase as well...

Then...processing as a mom. It was amazing to watch my kids in the room - singing along, wearing their Africa t-shirts, and have them witness middle school, high school and college students worship, pray, commit, and give --- all with a focus on foreign missions. There's only so much that I as a mom can instill in them, and model for them. That day, they had 300 Christ-like models to watch. My kids always inspire me. To watch them get excited about the offering we took for a youth center in Burkina (including making their own contribution), to repeating stories they heard while attending, to asking questions about things they saw & heard...I know that even in my 5 & 8 year old are being impacted by these students....and they haven't left the country.

That's the bottom-line. I can't wait to see many of these students boldly go to other nations to share Christ with them, in word & deed. I can't wait to see many of these students send other people to other nations - with the support and backing so desperately needed. I can't wait to see God work in the lives of people in all the nations....and to one day see them in heaven as we worship as we are all fully intended to...wow what a day REACH was...what a day it will be when we see Jesus face to face...

(Oh, if you want to see "this" day...check out this link where you can watch all of REACH for yourself...)


Today was a good day, because of how it started...

Today was full and busy. We were at church today for about 6 hours getting ready for REACH --- which is awesome and great! I'm sooooooo stoked for tomorrow morning (I'll wait and blog about that tomorrow). The decorations are up, the giveaways and commitment cards are ready, everything (except the kitchen) looks really clean and neat, and we have new lights and tech which always add to the excitement and feel (thanks Jared, Josh & Michael for working endlessly on that...). I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. And with how great it was to be a part of getting ready for REACH...this morning was my favorite part of the day.

I woke up at 7:45, and a few moments later Steve walks in. The kids have commandered the tv downstairs, so he comes up to check out the news and football on the tv in our room...what started as a few moments to just wake up and chat turned into 2 hours of just having family fun time...the kids came up too and we just hung out...then we flipped channels watching news, football, Salem Alliance sermon on CCTV...and just laughed and talked together. We just chilled. I love my family. It was the perfect start to the day...

(I needed it before Noah & Kaylee called up saying, emergency, emergency...ANTS! Yep - those pesky Oregon black ants have found our kitchen...sigh...) Oh well...I'm trying not to be fanatically freaked out...but that wasn't the big part of the day. It was just being with my fam...

(P.S. Regardless of what did or didn't happen at the party...or what we did or didn't get...it was all worth it to have a night out with my hubby...he's the bestest!!)

Christmas party recap...

So...Steve's company is in the midst of moving its location to Tennessee...and the bigger facility he's been working in is closing in about 2-3 weeks. He's working at a smaller location now, a couple of blocks away, and it's a much smaller crew. Anyway - in order to spread the holiday cheer his company hosted it's Christmas party last night!! Woo!Hoo! Date night!!

I love getting to go out with Steve (and it doesn't happen near often enough)...but, while we love our kids, it's nice to have a meal or even a conversation without interruptions and just to hang out together...

Anyway - I must say we have been the recipients of many nice perks from this place (I'm purposefully not using their name...most of you know their name...but I'm getting ready to dis them, so I don't want some corporate big wig to turn around and fire Steve for my ungrateful attitude...you'll see in a second how nuts this is...).

OK, back to teh story - so...good dinner, fun sitting with and getting to know a few of the people that Steve works with. I was clearly the odd one out in one department though. For the guys that we were sitting with they are blessed with wives who get up and cook them breakfast every morning. Now, at face value that might not look like a big deal, but remember...these guys have to be AT WORK READY AND ON THE FLOOR AT 5:00 AM!!! 5:00 AM!!!! Steve usually leaves a little after 4 am, so that would mean I have to be up and cooking my man a full breakfast for him to eat at 3:30-3:45! Are you kidding me?? THEN...they pack a lunch for them every day, and these guys are disappointed if the wife just gives them $5 to go out to eat...and we're not just talking a PB&J sandwich, we're talking a full-on lunch that would be big enough for 3 people (all the guys were drooling over this one guys lunch...). Um...no. Sorry dear. That morning hour is just way to early (especially if you look at the fact that I get to bed at 1:00 am on average...). I suppose I could cook my man bacon & eggs before I go to bed and keep it warm in the oven for him until 3:30--- Nah....

OK...so, I'm out of the loop there, and grateful when the casino night portion opens up. Texas Hold em, blackjack, roullette, etc. We all get $500 in chips to start with --- and at the end of the 2 hours, we cash in our chips for fake money to use in an auction for door prizes. Long story short, we didn't stay at texas hold em for very long... so blackjack took the most of our evening. With 15 minutes left we were down to $50. oh well...then...the tables turned and luck turned our way...and we left the table with $1500 of fake money. Off to the auction. Of course many others had more money than us. Steve took it upon himself to start the bidding on almost every item - which was soooooo fun....item after item comes and goes. Then a golf club, a driver of some sort, with a retail value of $320 comes up for bid. It's the 4th golf item...and by this time the golfers are basically bid out and Steve gets it for $300 I think. He goes over to claim his club, brings it back. Smiling and proud of his take!! Congrats honey, can I see it??

As I take the club in my hands I see sticker goo all over the handle - kinda like someone had tried to remove a big price tag or label. Not that big of a deal, kinda tacky, but with a little effort it'll come off. I go to check out the club and suddenly I start to laugh. The club head is covered with knicks and scratches. This is a USED GOLF CLUB!! USED!! Are you kidding me?? I mean thanks...but seriously?? A used club!??? You're giving away (or "auctioning" off...) 2 Wii's, 2 iPod nanos, tons of gift certificates for dinner/movie or spa or a store, full sets of irons (2 sets) and a used golf club. Congrats honey.

Now that in and of itself might not have been so bad...but add on top of that one of the "goodies" in our welcome gift goodie bag. A blue glass coffee mug that says "celebrating 15 years - 1987-2002" --- notice the date. 2002. It's 2008. OK...now this is bordering on ridiculous. So...here I go. You've just seen the ugly, cynical, frustrated side of me.

Moral of the story --- it's not that "re-using" is a bad thing; nor is "re-cycling"...but if you are doing that for a door prize, or gift, unless it's a ga...could you please make sure it's not "really" used...


Oh...and CRASH...

CRASH is tomorrow night. Normally we land on a series and it's fairly easy to pull ideas from the team and finalize a plan. I don't know why this month has been hard to focus on...but it's almost done...finally. (To all the leaders who read this...sorry --- I needed a little brain break before reviewing it and sending it to you...I'll send it out before I go to sleep...promise...). For the next two weeks we're gonna be talking through the lyrics of songs...at first the plan was to talk through the lyrics of songs the students listen to on the radio all the time...but there never seemed to be a consensus or clear direction on what songs to do...so instead we are breaking down lyrics of songs we typically sing at Crash. So...this week..."Salvation is Here" by Hillsong United... Here are the words...in light of my post yesterday and just life in general these days, I'm loving it...

God above all the world in motion
God above all my hopes and fears
I don't care what the world throws at me now
It's gonna be alright

Hear the sound of the generations
Making loud our freedom song
All in all that the world would know Your name
It's gonna be alright

'Cause I know my God saved the day
And I know His word never fails
And I know my God made a way for me
Salvation is here

Salvation is here
Salvation is here and He lives in me
Salvation is here
Salvation that died just to set me free
Salvation is here
Salvation is here and He lives in me
Salvation is here

Cause You are alive and You live in me
Salvation is here
salvation is here and it lives in me
Salvation is here
Salvation is here that died just to set me free
Salvation is here
Salvation is here and it lives in me

'Cause I know my God saved the day
And I know His word never fails
And I know my God made a way for me
Salvation is here

I pray that regardless of where you are in life, that today you know salvation is here for you. The God saves every day. That His word never fails. That He has made a way for you...

Another day...

So...a few random thoughts from the day...

***Kaylee and Noah are so cute...they were having a talk (I love it when they do that) and Kaylee asked Noah if he knew what was made first (not like a chicken and the egg thing, but basically she was asking what did God make first...). Noah pulled his classic "I don't know" (which he likes as a first response for most questions before he pours out his ideas). Kaylee was like "Noah...you know it was light don't you?" Noah thought for a second and said..."actually dark came first, so don't you think God made that first." My son - taking after his daddy being the deep critical thinker. I love it!

***Well, Steve's potential of a new job in the immediate future has passed. Interesting turn of events in the last two days pretty much made it clear from both sides that this wasn't the best fit after all. That stinks. But in the midst of the disappointment about relief for Steve from his current situation - we're trusting that God is protecting him from something that wouldn't have been good...or His best. (Not that we understand how his current place can be "best"...but we accept it...and make the best of it --- hmmmmm...) So...back to waiting, and more resumes being sent out and trusting Him for something different.

***REACH is fast approaching! I can't wait. Last year's event was sooooo amazing - I can't wait to see how He moves in the lives of everyone in the room this year too. Chele & I we were talking to all our kids about coming to REACH on Sunday morning and they got soooo excited, especially when we talked about taking up an offering to build a youth center in Burkina Faso, Africa. (check out the REACH widget for video, and more REACH info...) Anyway - they are so excited about coming and I'm so excited about them being there. They immediately jumped into "make sign" mode! They love making signs. Hannah jumped up and said something like "just give us your wallets and all the money in it! Help Africa!" And in about 8-10 minutes they made about 30 signs encouraging everyone to bring $20 to help Africa. They are soooooo amazing! So - I'm thinking we'll have 400 middle school, high school & college students...plus 20-30 adult leaders...plus 6 amazing elementary students who challenge me to have more compassion for others every single day. "Let the little children come to me..." Thanks for praying with and for us...pray that He will raise up these students to serve Him with their lives... and...check out the quotes on Becca's blog - they really raise the excitement level for me too...

Highs and Lows...and landing in the middle...

So...today was a day of highs and lows. It's Monday (well, it was 24 some odd minutes ago). That means my day off of work (for the most part). I love Mondays - getting to spend some time with the kids just being mom - not rushed off to church. I've enjoyed volunteering in their classes this year (I missed that last year) - then there's all that other house stuff that piles up. I might be seeing the bottom of the laundry pile. That's a good thing. Today was extra great from a "mom" standpoint - the kids were off of school...and they were just fun today! Woke up to them playing and laughing together as they built a fort in the family room with furniture and pretty much every blanket they could reach. It was sooooo cute to see and hear! I love how well they get along and bring each other along. They are such a blessing. We laughed and tickled and giggled and drew and built and crawled and laughed some more. Then we made homemade play-doh and made all kinds of fun sculptures. Then a quick lunch - Noah a jelly sandwich and Kaylee a peanut butter sandwich - they go together!! Then a batch of Grandma Unwin's outrageous chocolate chip cookies (they are so yummy!) The kids love to cook - it was fun to hear them talking about what they want to do when they grow up - cook, teacher, scientist, and oh stink...what was Noah's other one. It was so random amidst the cook & teacher.

Now...before I was even really awake I got a call from mom to tell me that my uncle was taken to the hospital with chest pains. Uncle Al is the oldest of the siblings on mom's side. (One of my favorite Al memories is sitting in his house doing homework and listening to Stryper and hearing him tell mom that I shouldn't listen to that kind of music and I couldn't resist but ask him if I could play Battle Hymn of the Republic on his stereo - because gospel is the only real music --- he was thrilled at my suggestion - so I plugged in my cassette tape (I know...what is a cassette tape) and cranked it...and Stryper belts out their rendition.) Anyway - the day was to hold tests galore for him. He has Parkinson's and dementia and who knows how he would handle all that. All we can do is pray (more about him later).

I hang up the phone with mom...and now a little more awake, I remember it's the day for a memorial service celebrating the life of a mom of two of our middle school students. Going to a service for someone who is at a similar age and stage in life is just hard...4 kids (12, 11, 8 & 5) - the 8 & 5 year olds get to me, of course, because I have an 8 & 5 year old (remember those gems I got to play with all day...yeah). After all the fun with the kids, the tone changes as I run up to change clothes and know I'm going to try to comfort two students who have lost their mom for a while and my friends who have lost a friend. They will be reunited with her in eternity, but for today, and for who knows how many more days, they are not together. So you trust the Lord who is the God of comfort, who grants peace that surpasses all understanding, to hold up this dad and their kids, and their family and friends... Please pray for the Shepherd's. I was struck by just how serving Tammy was. The church was packed out with people she impacted. What a glorious tribute to one of God's servants - story after story of how she gave, was dedicated beyond measure and loved her family and her Lord. Oh that it may be said of me someday...

So, I come home and give my hubby a hug that lasts longer than normal and I smile and am grateful for the day I've had. Then to comfort my hubby...as he is trusting God for a new job - something completely different than what he is doing now. He's in the midst of negotiating with a new place (oh that he may be away from his current employment) but today there were just questions raised as to whether this is really where he needs to go. Last night - we were gung ho - watching Extreme Home Makeover and thinking - yep...another confirmation of the direction we're heading...only to have today be just weird for this process. So...a fairly direct email about concerns, wondering about what's in store...we'll see. Please pray...that Steve will be exactly where God wants him, job-wise that is...I know that together is exactly where we need to be and there is no better place. But he's sacrificed so much for the cause and call of the God here in Oregon --- it's been the hardest part of this move for me... I just love him so much and want him to have joy in what he does...

So...as the email is sending Steve and I are talking about how we haven't heard anything new about Uncle Al...- no news is good news right? No sooner do the words leave my lips that the phone rings. Not good news. Al did have a heart attack last night. He has 3 blocked arteries - 2 almost completely blocked - 1 heavily blocked. With his physical & mental condition - he's not a candidate for bypass and the doctors and specialists are not convinced that even a stint would help. Oh what a kick in the chest. What a day of ups and downs...

And then there were the calls, emails, messages with friends who are in the midst of big life decisions - how to decide, how to be bold, how to trust Him, how to move forward...wishing it could be black and white...and it just isn't. One of my favorite word pictures for these times is wishing I could see the billboard that says "turn this way" - "go do this" - "you'll end up here" ...while I wish it happened that way, it doesn't. So we say - it's ok, you are sooo courageous (which they all are), you have so much to offer (which they do), and...if I see your billboard I'll give ya a call. (smile) It's not that I canned this conversation or message chat - but just interesting to see multiple people having different but similar struggles...whether a life direction or a physical condition or a heartbreak... sigh...

The joys of just being together and having fun...to the depths of reality of the fraility of life...to making big life decisions...all the while trusting my life (and everyone elses) into the hands of a loving God, who is the creator of all things. Even sitting here now I'm glad our church is currently doing a series on the Names of God. I rest in His name, His character.

So, I hang up the phone. I've sent the emails. It's time to put the kids to bed. And I get to smile and giggle again. Say I love being your mom and have Noah say "I love being your son". Whew...I needed that. Hugs and kisses to get my fam to sleep - then downstairs to do some "regular" things. In a day of highs and lows I needed to land in the middle...



One week from tomorrow...or since it's midnight I should say...one week from today we are trusting to see God move in amazing ways... won't you please join us for REACH?? Check it out...and I hope to see you all next Sunday morning 10 am - 12 noon in the Salem Alliance Youth Center... You don't want to miss it... And don't forget...the offering...be part of building a youth center in Burkina Faso. Two students have taken this to heart and are going to have a craft sale...and then go to all their classmates to have them participate...God has the hold of hearts of students...watch out...through them He is going to change the world...and bring all nations to Himself...

I feel a little blogging coming on...

OK...I'm so way overdue. So much so that the library of bloggers probably will charge me by the letter vs. by the day since I last blogged. It's pitiful. I admit it. I was starting to get into the swing of it I guess --- then...the sun came out - and all of a sudden I stopped blogging. Weird huh?? Here and now I vow not to talk about the weather every time I post. (I did a lot of that last year)...

Lately I've been thinking about not blogging...and balancing life (it's been one crazy month - reatreats, Crash kick-off, ms fundraiser, Kaylee's birthday, just to name a few)...and I muttered a word to myself that I haven't muttered --- maybe ever. Structure. Have I lost my ever-lovin' mind!?? Probably. I know lots of amazing people who have structure in their world - they have certain days they clean, do laundry, a regular time reading their Bible, times of the day they check email or facebook, do homework/study, watch tv, play... Me? I don't think I have structure. Sure - are there things that are a regular part of my day - absolutely! But I don't think through on a regular basis things I should do Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday... Should I?? I don't know that I can...but I'm just wanting to be the best I can be in the time God gives me (I don't think He's gonna add any hours to my day)...so...how am I gonna do that? Structure? I don't know...I might give it a shot... Any other suggestions?? I'm looking for any excuse I can get...

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