Friday, October 31, 2008

hallelujah night

About seven seconds after we had it all in place--balloons tacked on the dart board; Goliath at the ready, defiant in the face of all those bean bags; bowl after bowl of piled-high candy; donuts hanging from strings; the hay wagon parked at the back gate; candy bags and markers ready for little hands--the first of our guests arrived: Spiderman (the first of a good half-dozen), Cinderella (the first of several bedazzling beauties), and a tiny, whiskered Kitten. After that trio came a deluge, and the building came alive with the sounds of their united delight.

The adults entered into the fun as well. Suzzanne came as a raccoon. Cora came as Suzzanne. Jennifer was adorable as a Cow Girl. Scotty came as Snoopy's Flying Ace friend, and Joe was a convincing old man. Speaking of men, Dave, Chris, John, Rob, Bobby and about twenty others took turns eyeing and picking up the giant pumpkin at the front table, then "Nah"-ing each other's guesses as to the weight of all that orangeness. The early word is that Rob came in with the closest guess and wins the turkey dinner. Way to know your pumpkins, Rob.

Van, as usual, drove the hay wagon. This year, waiting bandits (Jeremy, Lucas, Nathan, Skylar and Korey) hid in shadows at the edges of our grassed acre. At a secret signal, they waylayed the hay wagon, boarded, and gave candy to all the squealing riders.

Peter and Elaina brought two-month old Sean dressed as a Ninja. I'm not sure I've seen anything cuter--ever.

My Tera made cupcakes and organized the Cake Walk, which was a big hit with the short crowd. Dave Kunkle revived his "Phat Jack's" hot dog cart and fed the crowd for free. The strangers in our midst expressed their surprise at his gesture. If they come back and hang around, they'll see a lot of that with this bunch.

Old friends came to visit. New friends were made. After a brief skit, one of the kids accepted Tammy's invitation to meet Jesus.

I'm not a big fan of Halloweeen, but I'm pretty fond of our Harvest Party. And I love my church like crazy.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

announcing: new site

About a year ago, I got an idea for a site that would help organize your home in fun, practical, innovative ways. I can't tell you those ways--not yet anyway. We don't have the software yet. But we--and that "we" includes my two partners, Andy and Nichelle Isaacson--have taken the first step toward making that site a reality.

Please consider yourself invited to join our Twig and Feather community. Why Twig and Feather? Because I couldn't shake the image of a nest. To me, it encompasses all the emotion I feel as a wife, mother, and homemaker. My home is our nest. And like any nest, it's comprised of practical structure--twigs, if you will--like budgeting, menu planning, cleaning, and all those other not-fun-but-very-necessary components. But it's also comprised of "feathers"--the soft side of nesting, things like candles and music and fluffy pillows. Every nest needs both twigs and feathers. Our site aims to share and solicit ideas for all these areas, and encourage you to make your home a warm, welcoming refuge in a world that is anything but warm and welcoming.

For right now, we're offering a forum. This will be the nuts and bolts of the site until we can launch the bigger features. We hope you'll consider joining our T & F community. More than that, we hope you'll inundate us with all your ideas.

Here's the link. I hope to see you there.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

kids at the wheel

I'm shopping at Haggen's, but before I start checking off my list and marching the aisles like I mean it, I stop by the Chinese food counter and order a small container of honey-glazed chicken. If you've never had Haggen's honey-glazed chicken, you probably shouldn't be giving me those looks.

The boy who scoops my chicken asks me if I want any sauce.

"Sure," I say. "How about some hot mustard?"

He's "down with that." And then, as if to cement my thoughts about his youthfulness, he drops my packet of hot mustard on the floor, glances around wildly, picks it up slowly, and asks, "Uh ... Do you still want this?"

I stare at the boy, wondering why he thinks I wouldn't want it just because it hit the floor.


Moments later, while meandering and comparing unit prices, I pick at my chicken and run through my shopping list, but my thoughts return more than once to that boy. I'd clearly presented him with a scenario not covered in his employee manual. At no point in his training had he been prepared for dropped hot mustard packets.

When my cart complains, I maneuver the mound to the checkout counter. There I stumble straight into a flirty spat between a tall, gangly boy and a short, giggly girl. The two banter while I fumble for my Haggen's "special shopper" card.

"Yeah?" he says to her. "Well, you're not the boss of me."

"Yes, I am," she answers.

"Nuh huh. John is the boss of me."

"But I'm the boss of the front end, so I'm the boss of you."

"I'm not doing what you say," he tells her.

"I hate you," she says back.

"Well, if you hate me, why are you talking to me?"

She squeals and slaps his arm.

"Original, Brittany. That was real original."

And I stand there waiting for my total, and realizing that one of two things has happened. Either the world is now being run by 12-year olds, or I've gotten old.

That's an easy choice. Obviously, the 12-year olds have taken over.


Friday, October 24, 2008

please watch

Running out the door, but I wanted to post and ask you to watch 20/20 tonight. They're doing an expose on Hannah Overton of Corpus Christi, Texas. The link in that line is to the posts I've already written about Hannah and her ordeal, or you can read about it at Free Hannah.

And please keep praying.



Monday, October 13, 2008

germany-part 7

Here's how we left Germany ...

The only sound at 7:30 a.m. on that Saturday morning was the rumble of our Rick Steves' suitcases as they covered the concrete distance between the Bible college and the Eiserfeld train station across the street. All of Siegen slept while we said good-bye. Past the silent front-facing depot, past the graffiti that graced the tunnel, down the steps and up the steps, all that could be heard was those wheels.

The doubts settled in right about the time we rounded the last corner and stood on the empty platform. This station looked abandoned. What if the 7:50 train didn't know to stop for us?

We didn't wonder long. An elderly, non-English speaking German man followed our footsteps down the steps and up the steps, then halted nonchalantly at the far end of the platform. At least one other human trusted that the 7:50 train would stop. Dave approached him and tried to ask about the chances that would happen. The man indicated he didn't speak English. As pantomiming is right up my alley, I tried next. "Train ... stop," I said, while screeching my hands to a dead stop in mid-air. The man nodded. I then tried to tell him how much we loved Germany, and that we were off to Paris ... but his courtesy laughter shut off the rest of my story. And then before our eyes he pulled out the one sentence that lingered from a quick year of English 60 years prior, when this man had been young and wrinkle-free, and wondering why in the world he would ever need English. "Summer ... is ... over!" To make sure I understood the absolute finality of his statement, he swung his hands like twin chiseled swords.

The train came. We got on, then followed the directions given us by Andrew, one of the interns at the Bible college. "Don't even sit down. You'll be getting off at Niederschelden, which is just three minutes down the track." And sure enough, we heard an automated, female voice announce, "Niederschelden Nord." The doors opened and we got off. "Go to platform 311," Andrew had written. But there was no platform 311. Just platform 1 and platform 2, which weren't platforms at all--just signs stuck above the graveled edge of the tracks.

"This doesn't look right," Dave said. And it didn't. It looked like we'd been dumped at the edge of the world.

A man with a furrowed brow and a look of confusion in his eyes walked toward us. He raised one hand to his lips and looked beyond us, then back over his shoulders. Left, right, left, right ... I watched his head swivel down both sides of the tracks. He looked like someone working out a complicated math problem without benefit of a calculator, or even a chalkboard.

Dave walked toward him. "Do you know if the train to Koln stops here?"

"I don't think so," the man said in near-perfect English. "I think this is a drop point only. This is Niederschelden Nord, but I think we need to be at Niederschelden itself."

That didn't sound good. Our next connection was in 15 minutes. If we missed the train to Koln, we'd miss the connection to Paris. Panic strips away all vestiges of pride or propriety. This German English-speaker knew more than we did about the situation, so we dogged his steps up and down the track.

It turns out that Theodore--and that's his name--had parked his car at the end of the street thinking he could catch a train to Koln at this spot. He was on his way to a photography exhibition there. He continued wandering up and down the track, looking into the distance, calculating unseen formulas, wondering with his hands and eyebrows.

"What do we do?" I finally asked. Theodore's only response was to choose a direction and start walking toward it. We followed.

After about a block we came to a spot where a Niederschelden road crossed the train tracks. And then a miracle--and I don't use that word lightly--occurred. The three of us looked to the left and watched the approach of a car lugging a small, flatbed-ish trailer. Theodore slowed the driver with a wave, then spoke through the window. The driver then opened his door, stood, and gestured frantically to us to throw our luggage in the back of his trailer. While we did so, he tossed car-rubbish from the back seat, beckoned us to enter, and handed me a home-orchard apple. We asked no questions. Theodore, the man we'd known three minutes and now were following to who knew where, talked in German to the driver, then turned to us. "We're at the wrong station. He'll take us to the station at Niederschelden."

Our German angel rounded curves on two wheels, asked us (through Theodore) about our home, and then launched into a rapid conversation with Theodore in which I heard references to Microsoft and Starbucks. Several minutes later, he screeched us into a parking lot at the edge of a regular-looking train station. "Germany has some nice people, eh?" our driver managed to say. "Yes, yes!" I answered. We snatched our luggage from his trailer and wheeled away, thanking him with the only words we knew. Gratitude translates. He nodded, beamed, and waved back at my apple-clutching good-bye.

Thirty seconds later, we stepped aboard the Koln-bound train, followed Theodore up to the level with the better view, and spent an hour and a half talking to the dentist-turned-hobby photographer-turned angel.

How I love those divine appointments.



Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Home again! I've a head full of memories and much to share, but also an awful case of jet lag. I leave again Sunday for our annual Calvary Chapel Pastors' Wives Conference and another two weeks of interviews. I've got a workshop to prepare for, a book review to write, laundry to wash ... you get the picture. The minute I spot a clearing in all that, I'll post about the trip--starting with the divine appointment that rescued us from the train tracks.