Lila had her first swim lesson yesterday and it went great! We were running late, so we got there just in time to do a quick change into our swim suits and jump into the water. I'm hoping to get there early enough to take our time and watch the other kids in the pool next week. Anyway, I think Lila only whined a little bit when we first got into the pool because she wasn't sure about the whole thing.

Once the class got going though, she loved it! We sang songs and practiced kicking and "jumped" in from the side of the pool... She spent most of the time we were there with her mouth hanging open, just taking it all in. She seemed to really like jumping into the water though (we didn't get our faces wet yesterday - that comes next week), and when the class was over she asked for more!

Doug was at small group last night, so I was the one to give Lila her bath and put her to bed. I decided to see just how much of an impression the class made by asking her to do a couple of things in the bath. First I asked her if she wanted to lay on her belly and practice kicking like we did at swim class. That got a very sly little, "yes!" and onto her belly she went! She's not quite grasping the concept of kicking yet, but she has only had one lesson.

Even more surprising was when I asked her if she wanted to practice "floating" on her back like she did at swim class. This too got a "yes" and she let me lay her down on her back. I supported her for a minute and then slowly relaxed until she was really laying on the bottom of the tub and my hand was just under her neck for reassurance. There was no floating going on (becuase there was not enough water), but the fact that she was okay with half her head being in the water was great! She had both ears under the water and didn't seem to care and I was able to wash her hair without a lot of drama! Hooray! I still had to keep her face dry while doing it, but that was much easier to do since she was content to lay on her back.

I'll let you know how it goes next week when we get our faces wet. 'Cause, you know, water on the face might as well be acid, as far as Lila is concerned.


I have a headache right now that has me feeling much like Cordy looks in this photo. I think it would be helped greatly by laying down and closing my eyes for 10 minutes, which I plan on doing as soon as I am through here. Lila is watching a video, so I should be able to grab 10 minutes' worth of uninterrupted relaxation. [i hope!] Since I don't feel much like thinking, I will give you my final bit of journaling from the women's retreat. These were my notes from the session on Grace...

C.S. Lewis - What's unique about Christianity? Grace. Ephesians 2 - No one is seeking God, etc. Apart from Jesus, we are children of the devil. We all, by nature, are children of wrath. 2:4 -> BUT. God rescues us from the domain of darkness. Sometimes being saved by God is painful, but we are thankful now. God has so much to offer. Paul was not looking for God; God was looking for Paul. Grace looks like God coming after us. We are God's poem - his expression of Himself. God loved us in spite of us. God loves humility. God wanted to rescue us in such a way that only He would get the glory. That is why it is so grievous to the Lord when Christians are arrogant.

Sometimes the church looks like a bunch of brats. All I have is Christ. God loves a heart that boasts in Him. Even the good works that we do are a gift from God. Love changes us. God has prepared good things for each of us. God gave us the 10 Commandments because He didn't want us to destroy ourselves. It is God-like to be a mom. When you do the very earthy things of everyday life, that is worship. We should be the most humble & loving people on the planet. We have been freed to help others be free. We need to be generous because the heart of God is generous.


Cheesy Chickens

I think I've mentioned this before, but Lila is a nutjob. The most recent evidence took place today at lunch. The three of us went to Cheddar's for brunch/lunch after church. We tried to find people to go with us, but without success. Anyway, we got seated and placed our order, but we were all really hungry and Lila was getting restless. So, I tracked down our waiter and asked for an order of chips and queso. And that's pretty much all Lila had for lunch. Oh well.

We all worked on the chips until our meal came and then we moved Lila into her highchair (she had been in the booth beside doug) and positioned the chips and bowl of queso right in front of her to keep her happy until we could cut up and cool off some other food. Whatever! The only thing she would consent to eat was some corn. We tried convincing her to eat some chicken by telling her she could dip that in the queso. So she picked up a piece of chicken, dipped it, sucked the queso off, and then deposited the chicken back onto her plate. Oh well.

None of that is the funny part though - it's what she was doing with the chips while we were eating our other food. It took us a while to notice this, but she was taking a chip, dipping it, taking one or two bites off of it (just enough to get all the cheese), then putting the rest of the chip on her plate and getting a new one. By the time we figured out what she was doing, she had a whole stack of chips on her plate with one or two bites taken out of them. And, of course, there was no convincing her that she could dip the chip back in the queso and then eat the entire thing. Again I say, oh well.


Teeth and Needles

I think I mentioned here before that Cordy had to stay at the vet overnight for a tooth cleaning about a month ago. It turned out that she also had to have three teeth extracted at the same time. She was a pretty pitiful sight for several hours after she came home. She would just lay in the floor like a lump, glassy-eyed from the anesthesia. Within 36 hours, she was acting like nothing had ever happened, but she was on a soft food diet for a week.

Well, Cordy had her follow-up with the vet yesterday and I'm pleased to report that her mouth healed up fine. After just a month, though, she already had some gingivitis. Looks like she'll have to have yearly cleanings now and I'm going to guess that she will lose more teeth at some point in the future. It's odd how some cats, like Cordy, are more prone to that problem, while others, like Charlie (who is twice her age and has never had a problem), are not.

Oh, I went for my second acupuncture session yesterday and it was lovely. Even Dave, the acupuncturist, was surprised by how nasty and dark my bruises had been (i showed him the photo on my blog). They are more yellowish now, but still very visible. Given that they hadn't completely healed, he didn't do anymore cupping. I was slightly disappointed because it sure did feel good the first time!


For those who are concerned about the bite on my arm - don't worry, I'm not going to let it rot off! Actually, as of yesterday, the area seems to be slowly healing. I still might call my doctor's office tomorrow to see what they say, but I think it's okay. Even if I do go in, I'm sure they'll find some way to tell me it's "just my allergies".



I had to fly Lila's bedtime routine solo tonight and we just finished up. Sadly, I'll be flying solo Monday through Friday of next week as well. Tonight it was just because Doug is at small group (we have to take turns now that it no longer meets at our house). Next week it will be because Doug is on a business trip to Seattle. We originally thought that Lila and I would go with him and we'd make a family vacation of it.

Unfortunately, Dell waited so long to approve Doug's travel request that it was too late to make arrangements for all of us. I mean, we still could have gone, but it would have been pretty expensive. Last minute reservations, plus the fact that we'd be traveling on Memorial Day weekend - no thanks! Now we are talking about going to visit my grandparents in Colorado instead. We'll go in July or August when it's yucky hot here and we're beginning to wonder (as we do every year at that time) why it is that we live in Texas.

But for next week, it's going to be the Lila and Mommy show while Daddy is gone. I'm sure we'll survive, and probably even have fun, but I may be completely grey and wrinkled by the time it's over.



This is a photo of the disturbing-looking bruises I mentioned a few days ago. Don't worry - they don't hurt. The color has faded a little bit, but they are still pretty dark and highly noticeable. I have a bit of a complex now when I go out in public because I'm afraid people are going to think I'm abused or something. I have had a couple of folks behave rather awkwardly around me.

If that's not enough to gross you out, then let me tell you about the large, leprous-looking spot on my arm! Doug thinks it's a spider bite, which I really don't want to discuss. It started out as a very small red bump that iched like CRAZY. I generally try to keep myself from scratching insect bites (and other itchy things) because I know that only makes it worse. This was so bad, though, that I was scratching it in my sleep!

I'll spare you the details of how it evolved, but I now have a dime-sized, bumpy, weeping, red, raised area that is surrounded by a light red area the size, and roughly the shape, of a newborn's foot. The whole thing is tender and still itches now and then. I don't know at what point I should call my doctor's office, but I'm thinking it's going to be soon. Unless I see some improvement, of course.


On a much more holy note, here is another journal entry from the Women's Retreat. This was from the session on Beauty...

You being convinced you're beautiful is not going to change your life. The church has to stop being like the world. We are known by the most beautiful person in the universe. When you envy, you want to destroy. John Dunn - Holy Sonnet 14. If Jesus Christ doesn't enthrall me, I will never be free. We were created by Him, for Him, and He delights in you. Is Jesus enough for me? Is He enough no matter what I look like or what others think of me? Is He enough in the depth of my soul? Don't gaze upon yourself, but upon Jesus. I can't love well when I'm worrying about who's going to love me. [Note to self:] (I want to be ravished by Jesus.) [Note to you: ravish = to seize and carry away]


Mommy Rant

Lila has been a Big-Flying-Turd-Monkey today! She would appear to be teething again, as evidenced by her snotty nose and frequent bouts of rabid defiance. I'll be very glad when she has all of her teeth.

Doug has finally given in to peer pressure and gotten himeself a cell phone. We have been sharing one since we got married and it usually sat at home on an end table. Doug always referred to it as "Angela's phone" and we really only used it for long distance calls. However, now that we've taken on this Community Leader position, he feels it would be better if he were more easily accessible.

So, we now have two shiny new cell phones (my old one got replaced too because it was nearly dead). Lila is obsessed with them. She loves phones of all kinds, but especially cell phones. As soon as she spotted my new one, she picked it up, and for 24 hours it only left her hands when I pried it from them. And she kept doing things like accessing the Internet! I now keep it safely hidden in my purse.

That's another thing. I carry a purse now. I got sick of carrying an ugly diaper bag around when the only thing we really need to have with us anymore is a diaper and some wipes. So I went out this weekend and got myself a cute purse that's big enough to hold those things and my other goodies. It's a bit larger than I imagined, but it's much trendier than a diaper bag. I got it at TJ Maxx, so it was a good deal too!

I might as well just plaster a big sign on my butt that says "MOMMY". I drive a station wagon. I have a cell phone with a little kitty charm hanging from it on a pink cord. I carry a purse that's as wide as I am. I say things like, "Mommy needs to go potty!" - even when I'm not talking to my toddler. And my idea of a good time is being able to carry on a complete conversation without interrupting myself twice per sentence to tell Lila to stop tormenting the cats.

Motherhood sure feels a lot like insanity sometimes. It's a good thing I enjoy it!


The Melting Pot

So, I really don't recommend going to a fondue restaurant with a toddler. Lila does great in normal restaurants, but this was very different. There was no room for her to be running around, there was a tempting vat of liquified food on the table that we wouldn't let her touch (without careful supervision), and we were there for a very long time. I don't know what I was thinking when I picked this place!

Still, we did have fun about half the time. When she was actively playing with cheese (see photo) or eating fruit, she was completely happy and well-behaved. The other half of the time... well, we did at least half a dozen time-outs and I almost cried at one point. Like I said, don't go to a fondue restaurant with a toddler. But do go to one by yourself because the food was wonderful!

The funniest thing: We got ready and left the house, drove about 1/3 of the way there, and Doug said, "Oops! We didn't put shoes on her!" What's this 'we' business? You put her in the car! Oh well, she's a baby, so she can get away with it. She did, at least, have socks on. After we left the restaurant, we took her to an indoor playground to run off some of that pent up energy (and chocolate fondue).

Okay, Women's Retreat time again. This was something that I felt God saying directly to me during one of my prayer times and then an explanation I wrote so I would remember it later...

"Be joyful, my child, for I have given you blessings beyond compare."

They are not beyond compare because they are better than everyone else's. They are beyond compare because they shouldn't be compared. They are my unique blessings.


Movie Review

Doug and I just watched End of the Spear. My heart is heavy, but it is a wonderful story. We borrowed the movie from a friend, ages ago, but I had been putting off watching it. I knew it was going to make me cry, and it was hard to want to end an evening that way. It did, indeed, make me cry, but it was inspiring. There was also some fantastic and hilarious documentary footage during the credits.

I highly recommend seeing this one, as soon as possible.

I also had my first acupuncture treatment this morning. How that came to be is a long story, but I'd been wanting to try it for quite some time. The needles were not bad at all. I had been told this, but I was still nervous. The guy also did some reflexology on my feet (which felt like a nice foot massage to me) and a technique called 'cupping' on my back.

How cupping works is also kind of a long story, but it involves suction and works like a reverse deep-tissue massage. Instead of pushing on the muscles, it pulls on them. When your muscles tighten up, blood gets trapped in there. When the muscles are sucked this way, it pulls that trapped dead blood to the surface of the skin. What that means is that I have some truly disturbing looking bruising on my back right now. I had Doug take a couple of photos, which I'll post in a few days.

The acupuncturist (Dave) said I could expect to see a slight increase in energy over the next couple of days, as well as a loosening of the muscles in my neck, shoulders, and back. I think I'm going to have a few sessions to see if I notice a difference in my fatigue and muscle tension. If it works - fantastic! If not, then what have I lost (besides some money)?

P.S. - This photo of Lila was taken through the net window of her little play tent. That's why it looks odd. I just thought it was a fun picture.

Also, I do have more Women's Retreat stuff to post, but right now I'm very tired and there are two kitties yelling at us to feed them and go to bed. Who am I to argue with a fuzzy little animal?


Movie Review

So, the movie that I saw on Friday was Disturbia. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't like it either. It's categorized as a Thriller, but it really wasn't that thrilling. For most of the movie, it was more like a comedy (and parts of it really were quite funny). It did get kind of suspenseful toward the end, but relied more on dead and decaying bodies than on plot for the Creep Factor.

I actually think that the tag line - "Every killer lives next door to someone." - is more scary than the movie itself. I suppose part of the problem is that this was a teen movie and I am no longer a teen. If you want to watch a movie about murderous neighbors, go for The Burbs. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than a great comedy and it's still slightly creepy!

My conclusion: This movie doesn't suck, but I don't recommend it. Don't see it in the theater and only rent it if you have a coupon and very low expectations.

To change the subject entirely, here's more from my Women's Retreat weekend. These are my notes from the seminar on Courageous Parenting (they get a little sparse toward the end because we ran out of time and had to rush through the last topic)...

There is a battle going on in the world. The leading cause of death among teenagers is suicide. [Four] things we can do to help our kids fight this battle:

Courageous Blessing -> Ephesians 3:14-19 - This is something we can pray for our children. Encouragement helps our children not be led astray. [Note to self: Henry Cloud - look up.] Your kids need to know that wherever they are, they do not need to feel alone. Speak a blessing to them out loud. "Your name means _____, and I know you are going to live that out. I can't wait to see..." Bless them with some kind of identity. When they hear you talk to God about them, it builds them up. Try to be specific.

Courageous Training -> We need to help our kids discern truth from lie. World views are basically established by age 12. As you make decisions, you are teaching them to process issues. They have to hear our processing. Sometimes doing this helps you. Use commercials to learn culture's lies.

Courageous Correction -> Soft on the person, hard on the issue. "I understand how hard it is to wait your turn, but it's not acceptable to treat your brother that way. I know you can wait your turn." (Grace, truth, grace.) Thinking chair (new name for time out chair). As they get older, gain or lose privileges.

Courageous Protection -> Book of James - Everyone is being spiritually formed. We can't just trust ratings. We have to be on top of things! Be aware.

God has chosen me specifically to be the mentor for Lila.


Community Leaders

Well, it's nearly official that Doug and I are now Community Leaders at Gateway. I say 'nearly' because it won't be official official until May 15th, but that's for the sake of the payroll folks. We'll be sharing the job, but it will probably be me with 60% of the work and Doug with 40%. I have more free time and a more flexible schedule, so it just makes sense to do it that way. What, you may be asking, is a Community Leader? There are a lot of small groups at Gateway and each one, naturally, has a leader. Community Leaders are the people who support and pastor those small group leaders. Basically, we have about a dozen small groups under our care and our job is to connect with the leaders of those groups on a regular basis to get to know them and find out how we (and the rest of the church) can help them be the best leaders they can be. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I'm excited about doing it and I'm looking forward to being 'official'.

Here is the next installment of 'What I learned at the Women's Retreat.' These are thoughts I wrote down during a small group discussion...

Pray that God would teach/enable me to encounter his generosity with joy instead of guilt.

Sin is like cancer - Do what you have to to get rid of it. Cut off what you need to!


Weekend? What weekend?

We just had a ridiculously busy weekend and I'm feeling rather drained. It didn't help that I didn't get to sleep until 2:30 a.m. on Friday night (Saturday morning). I went out for my monthly Late Night Movie and then, for some strange reason, couldn't get to sleep after I got home. The movie was 'Disturbia', but I'll have to tell you about it later because Doug has declared that the lights will be turned out by 10:30 tonight. (We've been getting to bed way too late for a couple of weeks now.) That's in 12 minutes and I still need to get ready for bed. I will, hopefully, post again tomorrow. Until then...


Big Water

Lila and I went to play in the Big Water at The Domain again this week and I took my camera along this time. I got several great shots of her in varying degrees of soggyness. This photo is after I stripped her down, wrapped her in a blanket, and put her in the car. That's right. I forgot to bring a change of clothes again! To be fair (to myself), I wasn't entirely sure where we were going when we left the house.

The girl is a total nutjob. She has recently re-discovered her volume control and frequently cranks it up to mind-rattling levels. The closer it gets to bedtime, the more running and screaming there is. And she has developed a very maniacal sounding chuckle. This evening, I was in the living room when she came running and giggling through with her dress over her head, but still stuck on her wildly waving arms. Doug had been taking her clothes off for bathtime and she got away... She's crazy, I tell you. Crazy.

And now for "What I learned at the Women's Retreat, Part III." These are notes from the second session, on freedom...

Our needs: clothing, shelter, food - God will take care of them. We are convinced we don't need God. We fear becoming a Christ-follower because we don't want to give up our freedom. We have one thing we need to be free from -> sin. At the heart of sin is a spirit that says, "I am in charge."

The King doesn't become subject to the subject. God loves you more than you love yourself. The church speaks now of committing to Christ, but it used to speak of surrendering to Christ. ([Note to self] Speak of surrender in marriage vs. committment) Surrender conveys humility, committment conveys pride. Committment can be broken; surrender is done. If you want to gain your life, you've got to lose it. Romans 6 -> Why would you keep sinning? - That's not who you are anymore. 6:22 - What it is to be a Christ-follower -> free from sin. "Enslaved" doesn't sound like freedom to us. 6:23 - sin leads to death. You will either enslave yourself to sin or to a Good Master.

Romans 7 -> don't do what I want to do, etc. Sin sits on us like a decaying body. 7:25 - God delivers me through Jesus Christ. We don't have the power to forgive ourselves. Some of us are not letting God forgive us. Did you ever try to love someone who wouldn't receive love? Romans 8 -> 8:15 - you haven't received a spirit of slavery. We have received a Spirit of adoption. So enslave yourself to Him, that you might be free. You cannot repent if you won't receive forgiveness.


It's a rough life, being a Hedgie.

Hurley got his first real bath tonight. His cage had gotten really stinky last week and I thought it was his old bed, which definitely had a funk, so I tossed that and he's now sleeping in a tube (like a giant toilet paper roll). However, within a couple of days, his cage was a-stinkin' again. Now I'm guessing it's maybe the hedgie himself. He does (or did, rather) have doodie stuck to his feet and I'm sure his belly wasn't quite sterile.

So, into the sink he went this evening. It was not the highlight of his young life. In fact, he respectfully requested that I not ever do that to him again. Bad news for him is that I'm going to wait a week or so and do it again, but with pet shampoo. He's got very clean feets now, but he still smells kinda funny. That in no way detracts from his unstoppable cuteness though, as you can see in the photo.

Here's the second installment of "What I learned at the Women's Retreat"...

How would you define freedom?
Being able to choose for yourself the path that you take. Having an identity that is not dependant on other people.

List three things/circumstances/relationships/trials you would like to be free from today.
1. depression
2. insecurity/anger
3. money


Retreat! Retreat!

Did you know that hedgehogs like to ride in strollers? Well, I guess I can't speak for all of them, but Hurley likes it! This is actually Lila's toy stroller that he's riding in and it's the funniest thing to see him riding around with his little nose to the (indoor) wind, checking out the scenery.

I was away this weekend at a church Women's Retreat, which meant that Doug was on Hurley duty. They did alright together, but Hurley made it clear that he really prefers me. When I got home and played with him, he seemed happy to see me and let me scratch his belly and chin for a long time. Too cute - I like him so much!

The retreat was every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be. It was nice to just get away from everything, of course, and I loved all the time that I got to spend with the friends who also went. The speaker (Cheryl Fletcher) was wonderful and God really worked through her to teach me and refresh me and build my confidence in Him. I also cherished the time that I got to spend alone and uninterruped, just praying and meditating and reading my current book (Pride and Prejudice).

There is so much that I learned and I'm still processing a lot of it. I think I will share it with all of you in little chunks over the next several days. The simplest way will probably be to post exactly what I wrote in my journal and then expand or clarify as needed. Forgive me if things seem a bit disjointed - it made sense to me at the time. Here are my notes from the first session - on the topic of Love:

Grace is the foundation of what it means to be Christian. Am I fully convinced that "Jesus loves me, this I know?" All of us, at some point, wrestle with this question. Love changes us. Am I waiting for God to convince me He loves me? "If you loved me, you'd give me _____." God is not a wizard. Jesus' love is filled with grace and truth. Only God can take what is ugly and make it beautiful. There is not a thing you can hide from Christ, and He is crazy about you! John 3:16 - "God loved us so much that He gave..." Have you ever had a relationship where you couldn't convince the person that you loved them?

He loves you because you are his. "The disciple whom Jesus loved" [referring to John, the writer of the gospel of John - this was how he referred to himself in his writing] - most important thing about himself - not that he loved Jesus, but that Jesus loved him. John lived with Jesus and saw Him for who He was, and was blown away that this man loved him. If you are not convinced of the love of Christ, then there is no hope of overcoming sin. I am made for more than this world. When we are convinced of the love of Christ, we can love without manipulation. Romans 8:35 - "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"