Wings As Eagles: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving in Kentucky!

In actual reality, Dad, Jena and I spent Thanksgiving day in Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. Riding/driving in a car. The plan was to visit Krissa and Ryan for the weekend and since Jena had off Thursday through Sunday, we decided to take advantage of it. Dad and I drove to Oklahoma City Wednesday to pick up Jen and then head to Kentucky. Here's some bits and pieces from our five day Thanksgiving trip.

Thursday 6:00 am - Headed out of Oklahoma City. Made it to Jena's in good timing last night. However, the night was a different story. Do you know that girl receives text messages in the middle of the night? And she doesn't hear a thing, so it just keeps beeping and beeping. If it weren't for the fact that I would have had to crawl over her to punch her phone, I would have done it. I should have; she probably would have slept through it anyway.

Just passed a sign that said "Free Restrooms at Next Exit". Does that mean they charge for some of them? Must be an Oklahoma thing. ;)

8:30 am - Woke up to Dad saying, "This gps is going crazy. Are you sure it's right?" Looks fine to me and it's right, even though it says we're on that highway when we're really on this one. It's right. Really. Ignore what highway it's listing; just follow where it says to go. (Little did I know that this would come back to haunt me on the way home!)

10:30 am - Time to leave my cherished passenger side front seat and take my turn at driving. Jena's crawled back into her little cubbie hole of blankets and pillows in the backseat, "her area".

1:30 pm - Dad's back in the driver's seat. He's still not trusting my gps, pulling out the printed maps and trying to look at them while driving. I'm not the only one who multi-tasks while driving. Comparing the printed map to my gps....hmmmmm.....

2:30 pm - St. Louis. The arch. Seems like we've been through this city so many times within the last five years!

8:30 pm - Finally...Lexington...only 22 minutes. Getting close!

1:00 am - After Dad and Ryan left for the night, us girls piled on the couch and started catching up with each other and planning the weekend. Chatting, laughing (you know, the laughing so hard you can't breathe kind of laughing) and totally enjoying being together and then finally...heading to bed.

Friday 10:00 am - After breakfast at Krissa's apartment, we started some wedding planning, lists, etc. among other things. Then we headed to the church and several locations they are looking at for the ceremony/reception.

Caught snooping in the windows!! ;)

4:00 pm - Back at Krissa's apartment getting ready to go to Ryan's mom's house for dinner. Jena and Krissa were laughing up a storm in the other room and when Ryan and I went in, they both peeked out of the bathroom like this. I really have considered not claiming them as sisters at this point. It seems as though every time we went back to the apartment, they were brushing their teeth! ;)


6:00 pm - Southern Lights. If you are ever in Lexington during the Christmas season, you've got to see this. It's a drive-thru light show with so many light set-ups. Everything from Christmas scenes to nursery rhymes to Disney animated movies. As we were driving through, we had a blast trying to figure out what each one was. And then we got stuck on the twelve days of Christmas and could not figure out what the 12th one was, even through we spent much of the drive back home laughing, making up things and trying to figure it out.

Since this is Kentucky and horse country, one of the really cool ones was the horse starting at the finishing line and racing toward the finish line. All lit up with lights, creating the running motion. Very neat!

Saturday 9:00 am - Krissa, Jena, Emily (one of Krissa's friends from church) and I were ready to do some wedding dress shopping while Dad and Ryan went off and had their own plans for the day. Oh my! What a day spent laughing, trying on dresses, laughing, and laughing some more. It was hilarious, plus we'll remember that afternoon for years to come! Especially the swooshing up thing; sorry no details, but those involved will know exactly what I'm talking about!!! Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

5:00 pm - Met back up with Ryan and Dad, walked around downtown and went out to eat at the restaurant where Krissa's co-workers took her when she started work at Thoroughbred Times. Then we decided to go ice skating. Another fun and hilarious evening. I have a new appreciation for figure skaters; that ice is slick and takes concentration to stay up on it.

Yep, that's all four of us!

Dad was the appointed photographer and while he got a few pics, it was hard to get any decent ones. Ryan is an excellent ice skater and so he's been teaching Krissa and they are getting good at it; sorta kinda. Then on the way home, we were telling them they had to go ice skating every week and when we came back to Lexington, we expected to see a show, complete with little twirls and everything. Then Jena said, "Ryan and Krissa on Ice", to which we all started laughing. But you never know, they could be coming to an ice rink near you! ;)

9:30 pm - Dad and Ryan headed back to Ryan's house and someone found the pickles! Ahhh...yes...pickle party time!!! Ok, not Grandma's pickles, but Claussen pickles are a close second pick when Grandma's are unavailable. Needless to say the jar I brought was opened and eaten all in one day. All three of us sitting in front of computers, munching on pickles. Perfect end to the day!

Sunday - 6:00 am - Packed and ready to start the journey home. Since Dad started out driving, sounds like a very good time for Jena and I to take a long nap. Yep, sounds wonderful!

10:30 am - My turn to drive. How come the drive up always seems more exciting than the drive home? Hmmm...we did take a slight unplanned detour through St. Louis and saw more than just the arch this time through the city. Actually quite unexpectedly saw quite a bit of the city. Then got back on track to Oklahoma City. :)

(Note to self: always be sure to check the gps route to be sure it matches with my route! Never thought I would contradict that thing, but let me tell you...I sure did! The thing is that I know where I'm going, but I want it to tell me exactly where to go so I don't have to think about where I'm going as I'm driving. Make sense? Yeah, I're thinking the same thing that Dad said when I told him that exact thing.)

4:30 pm - Jen's turn to drive and then I get to crawl back into "her area" with all the blankets, pillows and my computer. Ahhh...nice!

7:30 pm - Made great time today and arrived in Oklahoma City. Unloaded all of Jena's stuff, dropped her off at her apartment and then headed back out of town. Toward home.

11:15 pm - We're back in Kansas...just passed the border.

Monday - 12:30 am - After almost 19 hours of driving...home!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ryan & Krissa. Engaged.

Ryan & Krissa are engaged!!! I've known about it for months (although it wasn't official until a couple weeks ago), but I'm still in a little bit of shock that my youngest sister is engaged to be married next summer. However, I couldn't be more happy for her and Ryan or for our family! And as we're discussing details, arranging things and chatting every few days (thank goodness for skype, cell phones and email!), it's starting to sink in more and more and actually seem real.

We are spending Thanksgiving in Kentucky and soooo looking forward to chatting, planning and shopping!!! I have a feeling Jena and I will be making a few more trips to Kentucky in the upcoming months! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The half-marathon runner!

Jena's move to Oklahoma City has driven her to do some crazy things or at least what seem crazy to me. Last Sunday she ran a half-marathon which is 13.1 miles. 13.1 miles! That distance is equal from our house to Dodge and to think of even running that distance sounds crazy. Or as someone on facebook said, "stark raving mad". Yeah, that about sums it up too.

While it seems crazy to me and I could never do it, I'm still very proud of her for the diligence and perseverance in running the full 13.1 miles and for finishing. And believe it or not, she actually finished that milage in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 27 seconds. Jena and her friend, Kate, were able to keep pace with each other, averaging around 10 minute miles.

She ran a 5K marathon a couple months ago, then the half-marathon on Sunday and up next - the FULL marathon. That's what she says her next goal is and I'm sure she'll do it.

So glad to be done!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

David & Goliath: the slightly different version

Slingshot and mini slingshots...hmmm...wonder what's up for Kid's Klub today?!

And don't forget the armor!!

(Hunter was the tallest one there on Wednesday and was our "Goliath". I wish I had a video clip of the kids laughing as we put on all the was so funny! And of course, they all loved it. Goliath volunteers were abundant.)

Goliath was really big and tall and covered with armor to protect himself. Every morning and evening for 40 days he would show himself to the Israelite army and challenge someone to come and fight him. But all the soldiers were too scared when they saw this huge giant!

But when David visited his brothers fighting in the Israelite army, he saw this huge man and heard his challenge, calling for someone to fight. He asked the soldiers, "Why do you let this man defy the true and living God? If none of you will go out to fight him, then I will."

(Asking who is the shortest brought multiple volunteers as you can tell from the raised hands. After all, David was very young, especially compared to Goliath. To get the full picture of this story, David had to much shorter than Goliath, who at this point has grown a couple feet taller with the help of a chair.)

So King Saul heard of this and sent for David and dressed him in his strongest armor. But as David started walking around, he knew he could never wear this armor that was too large for him. He said, "God will be my protection. He will give me the victory over Goliath. I don't need all this armor."

So David took his slingshot that he used to protect the sheep and picked up 5 stones to use. God had helped him fight the bear and the lion who tried to kill the sheep and he knew that God would help him face Goliath.

(You see, you have to use your imagination here: the white foam balls are stones and the sack is the stream where David found the stones. Did I mention that a requirement for reading this is imagination?! Oh, and ignore the trashcan...that had nothing to do with our story.)

Giant Goliath laughed as he saw this boy come out to fight him with only a slingshot and some stones. ("Goliath" gave a sinister laugh and did an excellent job of it - wish I had an audio clip of that!!)

David took one of the stones and put it in his slingshot. He twirled it around and around......

(again, use your imagination....the slingshot this David had is a slightly different version from what the real David might have had.)

.......and around.......and around.........and around......

....and then aimed it at Goliath........and........

.......checked his aim again to be sure it was correct....... the stone flew from the slingshot through the air..........

........and both the Philistine and Israelite armies held their breath, watching......... flew right over Goliath's head. Um, yeah.

(Disclaimer: this is not what happened in the Biblical account of David. You see, he was much better with his aim. I had practiced this before class as I really wanted to be able to "hit" Goliath in the forehead (which I knew was practically impossible), so my goal was just connect the foam ball with his body. Oh, and you should have heard the kids laughing at this point....I'm sure you could hear them clear back in the church office, wayyyyy on the other side of the building. It was hysterical!! Wish I could have watched the kids more...I was too busy trying to correct David's aim for the second try.)

......and so David took another "stone" and twirled it around and around and around......

....and aimed it at Goliath......and all of a sudden let go......and.........

(btw, I love Felicity's eyes in this one - they're closed and ready for the "stone" to fly. And Josselyn in the background - hand covering her mouth, anticipating.)

..........and as David let the slingshot loose, the stone whirled through the air and.......

......and both armies watched carefully as the stone started moving toward Goliath.......

.....and suddenly....... again, flew over Goliath's head.

(And to read this part of the story, just back up to where David aims and tries to hit Goliath and reread that part about 5 more times, then you'll be caught back up. Detailing how many times David aimed and missed Goliath seems totally pointless. All I kept saying as we missed over and over again is, "Remember that David was an expert at this since he watched over the sheep and killed the lion and the bear and hit Goliath with the first stone." Oh, and by now, you could hear the kids roaring with laughter out in the parking lot, I'm sure.)

And finally David resorted to drastic measures........

(Me: "Felicity, just throw the "stones" at him and try to hit him." Btw, this was NOT how I planned for this part of the story to go......)

Many stones later, Goliath still remained standing and as the kids were falling out of their chairs laughing......

I finally told Goliath, "Fall down, you've been hit!" (Remember: imagination required!)

Which Goliath did quite well.

And so after Goliath finally fell to the ground, David rushed over and took Goliath's sword and cut off his head. And so God allowed David to defeat Goliath with only stones and a slingshot. (A few extra stones were needed in our version.)

And that is the end of the story.

So what did we use the mini slingshot for as first pictured? Our David characters, of course! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

God's perfect time to take Mom home to be with Him.

It was a Friday night in November. After battling the last three months and especially the emotional turmoil of the past week, I relinquished my bedside role to my sister and planned to sleep a little. I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted when I went to bed, but knew that more of the same was to come. It wasn't over...yet. Just as I managed to fall asleep, I heard Dad awaken me saying, "I think it's time."

Yes, it was time. It wasn't my timing. This didn't fit into my plan. As a family we weren't ready for this. But it was God's perfect time. And as I was able to see my mother take that final breath and slip from this earthly world into eternity, I felt joy and sorrow all at once. Relief that the last several months were over. Sadness that Mom was physically no longer here.

It's times like those in losing a loved one that life seems bleak. That the world as you have known it is coming to an end. But think a minute from God's perspective. God brought us into this earth and He can take us away from it at any time. To us, with our human minds, death seems sad, sorrowful. The end of a life. There's a finality to it. But in God's eyes our life here on earth is just a moment...just a fraction of a second.

You see, death is part of God's plan. Our lives here on earth are temporary. What seems like a tragedy in death to us, is only glory and victory in the life of a believer. In James 4:14, God tells us that life is like a vapor that vanishes away..."Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

It was early Saturday morning now. After people had been coming and going for a couple hours, at 2 am, the final person left. I never will forget Dad closing the front door, then reaching for my sisters and myself and saying, "It's just the four of us now."

But then, through his own tears and breaking heart, Dad also said,"Just remember that our lives here on earth are temporary. Death is not the end. Our lives are like a flower that blooms and is here for a short season and then passes away. God will give us the strength to continue, to keep going on, even though Mom is no longer here. Our time is not up yet. God still has a purpose for us." As I was to find out in the months to come, He gives more abundantly than we can ever ask for or even hope to receive.

God has been so gracious and without His strength and encouragement I can't even begin to imagine what the last few years might have been like. He brought people into our lives just when we needed them. When the hard days and tough moments came, He was right there just waiting to provide exactly what we needed - whether a card in the mail, a hug from a friend or other believers to lift us up.

But keeping in mind the thought that we are here for a season, that our lives are like a flower that blooms and then fades, has been a true comfort. Realizing that God put us here for a purpose and once His purpose is finished, He'll take us home. Those simple words that Dad reminded us of that night did so much to help the grieving process. As a believer in Christ, I can't imagine anything more glorious than living for Him here on earth and sometime in the future receiving my heavenly reward!

Through Mom's death I've come to realize just how temporal my life is and to remember my goal and purpose in life - to serve Christ. To run the Christian race faithfully, serving Him in what He desires me to do. Who knows when God will take me away from this earth and will I be able to say I lived my life for Him?

As Paul says in II Timothy 4:7..."I have fought the fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith". That always refreshes me and challenges me to think and do those things that are eternal instead of focusing on the temporary things that really don't matter. Can I say like Paul at the end of my life, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith? While this verse is encouraging and challenging to me, it also brings back memories of Mom and the wonderful example of a wife and mother she tried to instill in my sisters and myself.

One thing I recall Dad saying so clearly after Mom died was, "God put her on earth to do what He wanted her to do and she has accomplished it. She finished the race. She ministered, encouraged, helped those to whom He desired her to and now she has her reward. She, like Paul, finished the course. She kept the faith."

Through the tough time of Mom's illness and death, God taught me so much! He taught me to lean and depend on Him more than ever! He reminded me to have heavenly mindset, to set my focus on things above, because things on this earth will vanish away! And He also challenged me through II Timothy 4:7, which is my true desire and hope - to fight the fight, to finish the course and most keep the faith!