Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finishing Up..The Scenic Route

I've done so much yakking on my first, second, and third posts about our Mission Trip, that this time, I think I am going to just let you sit back, relax, and enjoy God's marvelous handiwork.

The only thing I do want to tell you is where you will be seeing sights from. The first pictures will be from Iron Mountain (located in the Black Hills of South Dakota). I also have some beautiful scenery from "Custer State Park". ENJOY!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Today, I was..


-Big Dan got himself up and was in a good mood! (I normally have to scream from the bottom of the stairs repeatedly!)
-He actually waited until he was ready for school before embarking on a "good morning" phone conversation with the girlfriend that usually lasts until the tardy bell is ringing!
-He took the trash out without me having to yell it 100 times.
-He left for school ON TIME!
-and as I dropped Little Ann off and drove back around, I noticed him sitting on a picnic table fellowshipping with friends waiting on the teacher....instead of the teacher waiting on him.

I drove home satisfied. Satisfied that my teenager was acting like he is supposed to act at his age. Maybe it was the fact that his 10 days is up and he is getting the cell phone back today. Maybe it's the fact that Popeye's is a thing of the past and he is starting a new higher paying job this afternoon. Maybe it's because he was off yesterday and got to go to church and then to the mall for new pants and shoes. Whatever it is, I'm not getting my hopes up that it will last, but smiling none the less.

PS - If you haven't already, please don't forget to read all about our Mission Trip. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. I'll finish up tomorrow hopefully.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heading Home...The Scenic Route

If you are just stopping by, I encourage you to "catch up" by reading these posts first. Part 1 and Part 2 of our Mission Trip.

Now carry on...

If I had one wish for our trip, it would've been that we could have spent more time on the Reservation. It took me weeks in advance to prepare myself mentally for what I was called to do on this trip, and as I said yesterday, even when I was staring the opportunity square in the face, I was still a nervous wreck. BUT there was something so rewarding about it all. And I just simply did not get enough. Once I did it. Once I actually jumped right out on that limb, trusted God to give me the words, and thought about how He used me to be His vessel, did it become a reality. I wasn't satisfied leaving. I felt like I just simply did not do enough. I've since realized that there is a world filled with lost people and just because I have left the Reservation does not mean my job is complete. I am excited about seeking out opportunities to witness for Him in my own home town.

I had thought this post might actually wrap up my trip, but I'm just not sure. We did a lot of sight seeing on the way home and I have some beautiful pictures. I'm not sure I can pick just one or two.

Once we got on our way, a few miles up the road we encountered this absolutely breathtaking sight!!

This is what they refer to as the "Badlands" of South Dakota. Our pastor calls it a mini Grand Canyon. I was taken back by the beauty.

Although Rapid City was 2 hours out of our way, who could actually be that close and not take the opportunity to see Mount Rushmore? I was so excited. I live an extremely sheltered life and although we travel some, we seem to stay pretty close to home. I mean, I've ventured out as far as Florida several times, been to several towns in the big state of Texas, up to Branson, Missouri a few, and to visit relatives in Kentucky, (I'm sure I'm forgetting something), but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be seeing this!!!

Oh dear Presidents, how beautiful you look carved in this mountain of rock. I almost peed in my pants as I came around the curve and up the hill and saw you.

And Mr. Washington, please don't take offense to my photographing your profile. I totally understand how you might hate this...especially if you have a big nose. I should've asked if this was "your good side".

I still have a couple more stops to make on the scenic route home, so I will do you a favor and split them up into two posts again. I don't want to overload you...and I am getting rather sleepy tonight.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Life Changer-Part 2

If you are just joining me, click on the link to visit
"A Life Changer-Part 1".

I guess I never really thought about what to expect on the Reservation. When we first began planning, I was excited and felt really good. The closer the trip got, I began to have extreme anxiety. I began to wonder how we would be accepted, what I would eat (I know that is lame, huh?) and the biggie...how on earth would I tell these people about Jesus?

The night before the Bible Study, we visited an elderly complex on the Reservation. I was really glad we went because it really gave me a little insight on what to expect the next day. The Pine Ridge Reservation is actually in South Dakota, so we crossed the Nebraska/South Dakota line each time we went to the Reservation. Tuesday morning we began to prepare for our study and several ladies were gathered around the table ready to get started. A woman came in with two small little girls to use the telephone in the Community Center. She didn't even know there was a Bible Study going on. I felt the Lord speaking to me and I knew she was the one meant for me that day. As our pastor's wife finished up and the other women got up to prepare lunch, I quickly invited her to stay and prompted conversation with her. I can't even begin to explain how "out of my comfort zone" I felt, but determined, knowing I could get through it with God's help. My heart pounded, and my voice shook. I couldn't even remember the Roman Road. Something I've known my entire life, but I kept on....just doing my best. As our conversation began to come to a close, I sent her home with several tracks and a Bible and she was so very grateful. She never actually prayed that sinner's prayer that moment, but I prayed with her and will continue praying for her. That seed has been planted and that's all I could do. I ask that you pray for her as well...her name is Doris. Even if only one person gets saved, then 2,500 miles was totally worth it.

We spent time walking through the village handing out tracks. I was ever so proud of Little Ann. I can't even tell you the pride I felt as I watched her little hands place those tracks inside the doors of the people not home and into the hands of the ones that were.

As we were covering territory on the Reservation, Doris spotted me and invited me into her home to meet her family. As I stepped inside, her aunt commented to me that she had tried to read the Bible I had sent with Doris, but the print was too small. I promised to send her a Bible with large print. Tell me that is not awesome.

During our time on the Reservation, we had an Indian Taco Supper for the Natives. I think I am safe in saying we had over 150 people that came out. I know a lot was probably the time of the month and I know it was probably the only thing most of them got to eat that day, but I was afforded more opportunities to witness because of this.

Earlier in the day I had met a lady named Valerie. Little Ann really took up with her because she made jewelry and it was beautiful. It was so interesting to watch her make it from porcupine quills. (Yes, we brought some home). Because of the connection she had made with my daughter, I really felt the Lord leading me to speak with her about her salvation. We had such a good talk and I am fairly certain she has Jesus living in her heart today. She cried because she has been battling an addiction to alcohol for so long..as most of the people there do. My heart really went out to her. She says she is clean now and she can feel God's presence. Wow.

I can tell you I don't know how many visits it will take to win these people. The task at hand is a tumultuous one. They are set in their ways and it is not easy to get them to "understand" the truth. Our pastor's wife said they seemed to be more receptive this time than when they were on the field there.

Think about these people and pray for them. I know it is up to us to carry out the great commission...up to God to prepare their hearts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Life Changer

Hello all. I am back home now as of about 1 am this morning. I must say, I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to go, and can only hope and pray that God will work in the hearts of the people in whom we planted the seeds.

I have been thinking and thinking about how I would begin my posts when I got in. Really and truly I had full intentions of giving you the play by play each night as I got back to my room, but it was such a draining week, I didn't have the energy to think. It just didn't happen...but now, here I am...giving you my full attention. I hope you enjoy the next few posts. They are going to be good!!

As I mentioned on Sunday, we had a pretty long day of driving. We set out on our adventure immediately after services on Sunday morning and drove all day.

This is our group. We had 3 married couples (one which is our pastor and wife), myself and a friend, 2 kiddos, and a guy that is new to God's ministry, (but arrived after our group shot).

The drive was comfortable and everything looked pretty much like Arkansas for some time, but I was glad to go a direction in Arkansas past towns that I had never been before like Fort Smith, Fayettville, Springdale, and Rogers area. I plan on heading back to that area in just a couple of weekends for a wedding in the Bentonville area. Wow, twice in two weeks!!

We passed from Arkansas into Missouri, all the way past Kansas City, into a town called St. Joseph, Missouri where we laid our heads down for the night. The hotel was pretty neat. I had never seen one quite like it. It was much like a lodge and the girls thought it was so cool.

Monday morning, we headed back out and before I realized it, we had crossed over into Iowa. Never been there and the countryside began to look a little different than Arkansas and Missouri. Not too much further and we passed by this...

I wish the picture would have been better, but you just had to kind of be ready and snap as quickly as you could!! Throughout the entire state of Nebraska, this is what we saw...

Everywhere we looked for miles and miles and miles there was corn. So much corn...and coal trains. Many, many coal trains. As we got closer to South Dakota much of the landscape turned to hills. Lots of hills. ....And Lelia, we did drive through Lincoln, and I so thought about you!!! What a nice town. It had so many endless possibilities for shopping!! lol.

We managed to arrive in Gordon, Nebraska where our hotel was early enough to go to the nearest grocery store to buy things for our Indian taco supper the following night. We also got to go visit the Reservation in hopes of encouraging some of the ladies to join us for Bible Study Tuesday morning. The scenery on the way to Pine Ridge was beautiful. As we were traveling, the sun began to set and the wind was blowing violently. A clue that a storm was setting in. As we drove, hail began to fall. Our first contact with the Native American children, was with the sweet wee ones that began putting ice in our hands as soon as we made our first stop.

Notice the grass blowing in the wind. As we drove onto the Reservation, one of the first things we saw was the site of the Massacre at Wounded Knee. On December 29, 1890 over 300 men, women and children were killed by the US 7th Calvary while being transferred to the Sioux Reservation at Pine Ridge. Just a few days before, Sitting Bull had been killed at Standing Rock. I am assuming he was killed because of all the intensity surrounding the gold in the Black Hills and the fact the US was trying to get it back from the tribe. Ok, so there's your history lesson for the day.

Before I continue, I wanted to share a few more statistics with you. I got my information off of Wikepedia, and some of this information is heart wrenching. After meeting these Oglala Lakota Sioux people and being on their Reservation, I had a hunch what Wikepedia would say. I wish I would have done more research before my trip so I would've known what to expect. I didn't though, and it was a shock.

I'm still trying to put it all together in my mind, but I think I have finally figured out (please somebody from this area smarter than me..correct me if I am wrong). I think I am safe in saying that Pine Ridge is a large area with the Reservation being made up of several small communities. Pine Ridge is the 8th largest Reservation in the US, but the poorest. The unemployment rate runs at 80% of the population. Adolescent suicide is about 4 times the national average here. Majority of the families have no electricity, water, telephone or sewer. The Oglala Lakota are said to have the lowest life expectancy with men at the age of 47 and women just barely into their 50's. Wow.

Wounded Knee is the community where we were. (More history here...The bones and heart of great Oglala Lakota leader, Crazy Horse are buried along the creek here.) I saw the depressed spirits of these overwhelmed single mothers of multiple children wondering how they were going to feed them. I saw the tears shed by those who have battled the alcohol gene for years. I saw the hungry people flock in the Community Center for probably the only meal they will get for the day, or even week, and I saw hearts that desperately needed Jesus, but I know it's going to take more than one time sharing the gospel with them. More than 50% of the population there at Wounded Knee is under the age of 18. It seems to me that this is absolutely the generation we need to be trying to reach for the Lord.

I have so much I want to share with you. I hope you wont get tired of hearing my story and seeing the beautiful pictures I took.
I shall return.....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Checking In

I am sitting in my hotel room right now at 11:56 pm. It has been a long day of driving and we have just settled in for the night. I wanted to check in and say hello and goodnight.

A group of people left out on a mission trip today. Three husband/wife couples including our pastor and his wife, a guy who just surrendered into the ministry, a friend of mine with her granddaughter and myself with Little Ann. We left out shortly after morning services today and spent the entire day driving. I was so excited to drive through places I had never been before....including Fayettville, Arkansas.....and I actually live in Arkansas. I know, I'm sheltered. I have never ventured out that direction and definitely never made it as far as Kansas City. What a huge city. It went on forever!!!

Tonight we are staying in Missouri, but will spend the day driving all the way through Nebraska tomorrow until we reach the Reservation just inside South Dakota. I will try to keep you posted the best I can. Pray God will work this week.

Nighty night,

Friday, September 19, 2008


I love how Little Ann is so independent. Not only just because she is 10 and can do most things for herself now, but in personality too. She is definitely growing up right before my eyes. She has always been a happy medium between the strong willed "quirky" personality and a sweet, sweet, cuddly, loving side. I love both about her. I tell her all the time how proud I am that she is her "own" person and doesn't try to be something she's not for the sake of popularity.

Yesterday in class they talked about their favorite bands and genre's of music. Hands quickly popped up with responses such as "The Jonas Brothers", "Hannah Montana", "Chris Brown", and "Jordan Sparks".

"Little Ann's reply..."Johnny Cash" and "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ".

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parenting...Ups and Downs

Hey all. I couldn't actually say anything about my photo I posted yesterday, because then it wouldn't have been "wordless", but I just thought that was the cutest picture of Dixie. I'm glad you all enjoyed it. I liked your comments.

I know some people actually plan their blog posts out a week in advance. I'm sorry. I just can't do that. For one thing my life isn't all that exciting, and for another, I am just a kind of go with the flow person. Whatever hits me at the moment is what I may talk about. Today, in light of events regarding my children, I'd just like to share what I feel are some ups and downs of parenting.

Tonight, it has just been delightful watching Little Ann prepare for her upcoming 4-H election. She is running for Reporter. She absolutely loves to write stories and take pictures. (Hmmmm..wonder where she got that.) Anyway, we have been like little busy bees printing out campaign posters...

putting campaign tags on suckers...(sucking up...lol),

and preparing a speech.

She wrote it all by herself and it was very impressive. We will be gone on our mission trip next week when the actual election takes place, so she is trying to get her campaign ready for tomorrow!! She has been all smiles tonight as she has been putting all this together. I love how she gets something on her mind (as crazy as her ideas may be sometimes) and goes with it with such determination.

Today, Big Dan had some issues at school and I couldn't help but think about my devotional I read yesterday. It is so applicable. I do hope that one day he will look back and appreciate what Pete and I have tried to teach and instill in him.

Listening to the Past -

He taught you how to keep your checkbook. Month in and month out, you sat together at the kitchen table and marked off cleared checks striking a neat balance.

Listen to your father's instruction. What do you hear?

Sure. He made mistakes. Some fathers made many more than they should have. But from his instruction, you have become the person-and the parent-you are today. What values do you hold now because of his past instruction?

She made you make your bed every morning. There was no leaving the house until it was done.

Listen to your mother's teaching. What do you hear?

No matter what confused you in the past, today you can lay your hand on some principle from your mother that you have applied in your own mothering. What is it?

Even though we are grown women and mothers ourselves today, the instruction of our fathers and the teaching of our mothers still have something to say to us. If we will listen.

Proverbs 1:8 & 9 - Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pages At Your Request

You guys are so sweet. Asking to see my pages. You don't know what that means to me. I have gone years now pushing my pages on people (a few friends, but mostly family) who go "oh yeah, that's great"...and act like they are interested. But you guys...I know you could skip right on over to the next blog or make a choice to comment. It does so much to boost my confidence and I really appreciate it!!

I have asked for a 12 x 12 printer/scanner for Christmas so the quality will be so much better then, but for now I just have to photograph them lying on my kitchen floor. I can never get them completely straight no matter how many times I take them. They look crisper in real life so I hope you can get the full effect....And I was planning to wait until tonight, but after your comments, I just couldn't. lol. So here goes. (and you will probably recognize some of these pictures from the blog already, sorry.)


"My Boys of Summer" - This page just captures some of my favorite shots of baseball this past summer. 2 pictures of each sweetie...Green is my middle nephew (this was his first year and doesn't he look precious out there in left field?), the Blue is my brother's oldest, and of course the Red uniform is Big Dan playing Legion.

I just used cork paper, some ribbed scalloped cardstock, and baseball patterned paper. I also used white rub ons and painted chipboard for the title. Journaling done on the computer and a metal tag for extra!

"2 New Teachers" - This page just shows Little Ann and her new 5th grade teachers on the day of Open house. I talked her into letting me just drop her off and not go inside (I know most kids would hate that at 10, but she is a clingy one for sure)..anyway, we knew we'd better get pictures then or we wouldn't. Just some basic school type patterned paper, real notebook paper, and cardstock for the mattes. I used a chipboard number, and rubons for the title..and also I cut the "teachers" and the arrows with my die cutter. Ribbon and staples for some extra umph!

"First and Last" - These next 2 are of the kids on the first day of school. I've already blogged about this and actually used the same title. It's just about it being his first "last" day of High School. Most of this page is just a mix of cardstock and patterend paper used in a symmetrical fashion. I used a circle paper clip, some staples and a chipboard square that says " enjoy the Journey".

Little Ann's page is designed using the same sketch as Big Dan's. I just chose more feminine "schooly" papers. Both of their titles I cut using the die cutter. Her title is "Changes" and the journaling just talked about..her shaving her legs, getting a new hair style, and getting "growny girl" glasses. All big changes for her. I used a couple of flower bling pieces.

"OOPS! My Bad" - I think this is my favorite. Not because it looks the best, but because it captures some hilarious content. Well....it's hilarious now, but it wasn't then. We bought Big Dan a Honda Civic on April 19 this year and he wrecked on April 21. Yes people..2 days. That's all it took. Now you see why I need tranquilizers until he gets out on his own? It was inevitable, I knew. Which is why I was already pretty much mentally prepared. It wasn't a surprise to me, but I did think it would've been longer than 2 days. He keeps it real. What can I say.

I just used some scraps of the black ribbed scalloped paper. Also some bright card stock to add some color since the car is grey it looked kind of dull. I sewed a zig zag stitch around the patterened paper and used the cutest little brads that looked like screws. The title is chipboard I painted, and I also used some ribbon.

"Mother's Loving Ways" - This one I was very pleased with. I used this picture on my "tribute to my mom" post. I won't go through all the journaling with you, but if you are just tuning in to my blog and are interested go visit the post. She's a great woman and an excellent seamstress with a new ETSY shop!! I got this paper at Mardel's and I loved it when I saw it. I tore the paper and used some rub on with bling for this look.

I hope you like these. You've given me the desire to press on....lol. (that sounds funny). I had thought about entering these in our County Fair. What do you think? Are they good enough? I've been back and forth with this decision.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, Monday..

Hi guys. Well, here it is Monday again, and I totally feel like I've been away For.ev.er.

After a hectic first part of the week last week, the weekend was considerably calm. Not weather wise, of course, but.....I had the house to myself for most of the time. It was GREAT!! Guess what I did...(not blog, if you couldn't tell)...I cropped!!

Friday, I went with Big Dan to a job interview at our local hospital. Before you guys give me the OMGness, let the boy grow up speech, just to let you know, I was invited...by the interviewer himself actually. With Big Dan being under 18 and still in high school, he felt it was better to have a parent present. I didn't tell him, but I most definitely agreed. (I would've only gotten half the story, as usual). It went well, and I am sure Popeye's fried chicken will soon be a thing of the past.

Get this, ya'll. After the interview, he headed out to work the evening shift serving up some chicken, Little Ann had been invited to a sleepover and Pete was at work, so I stopped in Chili's. Yes, I love me some chips and salsa...and I ate for like $4. I did feel a little awkward..you know, it was Friday night and I was the lone ranger. Pete called to make sure I wasn't sitting at the bar. (no, I wasn't...honest)

I kept late hours scrapping. It was heavenly. And then I got right back to it on Saturday. Everyone was still gone and I pretty much scrapped right through the storms..alone. I had the tv on the news listening as each new tornado warning popped up. Even went and cleaned out my fraidy hole under our stairs..just in case, but for most of the day, I put out page after page.

AND...to show how dedicated I was, I even gave up my Sunday afternoon nap to do another couple of pages.

AND...I just discovered blogger is not in a very cooperative mood tonight, so I can't show you what I did.

I hope everyone has a great week, and I promise I'll be back soon to share!!

(I just love how my spell check wants to correct me when I refer to you as "ya'll")lol!