Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cast Your Votes!

You may vote for more than one name, but you can only vote one time. So don't go clicking on yours a millions times. (Ok, Nate?)

A New Name for a New Car

Sue Baroo
Silver Bullet

Current Results

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Car We've All Been Waiting For

NOTE: All suggestions for car names must be in by midnight eastern time to qualify.

Surely you all are wondering. Assumedly everyone wants to know. Likely there are questions to be answered. So here's the story. It's a little long, but we all know how I like a good saga so read on!

Last Monday our car was hit. My stomach dropped as soon as I heard. We knew eventually we would have to buy a new car, but we were hoping to get the most out of our Cavalier that we possibly could.

The timetable now moved up considerably, we started shopping. is a life saver. We immediately found several cars that seemed like viable options and I started calling around to get information as soon as I could.

Friday night we stopped at several dealerships. We wanted to see all of our options, find out more information about several of the cars we had been reading up on. Most of the lots were closing as we came in and it was very cold. But we did get to test drive a couple and got some good ideas about many.

Pretty much everyone we know and everyone who knows someone we know, agreed that Subaru was an excellent choice. They're dependable, we heard. From the pictures of all we looked at, we could tell that it would be perfect for the hauling we would require from it.

I found a private seller who had a fairly new Subaru Legacy for a very reasonable price. We played phone tag a few times and finally set up a time to meet on Sunday after church. In the meanwhile, we did a few more drive-bys through small and large car lots and also stopped at another private seller's to do a test drive.

But I was holding my breath. My fingers were crossed. I was hoping against all hopes that this would be the car. The specs looked perfect on paper: sunroof, manual transmission, bike rack on top, sweet stereo, tons of storage, back seats fold down flat, low price, cruise control, a/c that worked, a very loud horn, and only three years old.

Sunday afternoon came. We met at Matt's* house. He seemed like a very nice, friendly guy and gave us a few details on the car before we took it for a spin. Before I even pulled out of the driveway (Yes, can you believe Andy let me drive it first!? I am one spoiled lady.) I said to my hubby, "Can we get it?"

The only stipulation was that we needed to take it to a garage and have a mechanic look it over. I was so sure this would be the car for us, I hardly wanted to even bother, I just wanted to take the car home! Monday we met Matt's wife and as we gave her our loan approval letter from the bank she gave us the keys to take the car to The Garage. (Really, that's the name of the shop!) The mechanic came out and looked it over, took it for a test drive and determined that we absolutely needed to have the brakes done very soon (we had been noticing the squeaky brake situation anyway) as well as the wheel bearings. He printed out an estimate for us and we went back to the seller's house.

Matt's wife took the estimate and said Matt would give us a call and let us know how much he would be willing to come down in price. We decided as we drove away that we would keep looking, just to be safe.

Though I didn't want to keep looking. I just wanted Matt to take off the amount of the repairs and we would be good to go. I was ready to take it home then and there. We had bonded, you see.

After more phone tag back and forth we agreed on a very reasonable price and set a time to meet at the bank the next day. On the way to the bank I called to let him know we were on the way and to make sure he had the title with him. He didn't, but his bank had said they'd mail it and that he wouldn't need it for closing. Our loan officer didn't agree with this. In fact, she said that we couldn't possibly close until we had it. After several phone calls, being on hold for quite a while, and many differing opinions, Matt decided to go back to check at his parents place and also at his place. Just to be sure.

Finally, finally, it was all settled. The title was found, we signed off on it, he paid the remaining balance due on his loan (we really bought it for less than he currently owed!) and I drove away in my new sube.

We are sube owners. Members belonging to an elite sube club. Waving at other subes as we drive by, we feel like we brought home a new family member. And in a way, we did.

But what to call him? Or her?! Any suggestions for a good name for our new addition? A fabulous prize is promised to whoever recommends the best name!

*We decided that Matt was a new friend and we could refer to him by first name. It was great to work with such a flexible and friendly guy.

See Stage Right

You may or may not have noticed the buttons I have added on the right sidebar over there. Take a moment now and look...

They look silly and random, right? Well, they are.

The top button you see is a link to a bunch of fun little bloggy awards for you to nominate me for. Heather Anne is hosting these awards, mostly for her own entertainment. She never fails to entertain everyone else, so she might as well get some fun back from the blogosphere. Here is the site to go to for more information and the categories for which to nominate me for. Feel free to select each of them. And feel free to nominate yourself while you're at it. I'm sure not going to stop you. I already nominated myself anyway.

I'll wait a moment while you go over and submit your ballot. Go ahead, get moving!

The second new button is for my own motivation. The month of November is National Blog Posting Month. I have already been trying to up my posting quotient lately. Not just for your amusement, though that is one of the reasons to be sure. But also for myself. So I will take more pictures of my life, and document my own goings-on. I am not very good at journaling regularly, but blogging has helped me analyze a lot of my thoughts, the things that go on in my life, and it is generally good for one's sanity to just get it all out. So, if you feel like you'd like to encourage yourself to post more, feel free to join in on NaBloPoMo. It'll be a good time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

10.22.06 Portrait of a Sweet Deal

Yesterday I went shopping.

This isn't really a huge monumental event or anything. But I haven't gone shopping, (really shopping, fun shopping) in quite a while.

One of the hardest things for me in deciding to quit my full-time job and only work my other part-time job, was knowing I would have to give up shopping.

I'm an excellent shopper. Not only do I enjoy it immensely, but I am also proficient at finding bargains.

Yesterday I went hunting.

Armed with several gift cards, free item coupons, and a few percentage discount coupons I went in. With all of these discounts, I still head directly back to the clearance section, browsing past the sale racks on my way.

Altogether, I got free lipstick, free knee socks & workout capris for $1.97! You can't beat that kind of shopping!

The very cute shoes you see pictured above aren't very practical. Nor are they appropriate for our current weather conditions. And I won't likely be able to wear them for at least 7 or 8 months. But I couldn't pass them up. They are so very adorable. Even better, they were only $8.53.

I've had my shopping fix. Hopefully, I'll be able to make it for a few more months.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mr. Met

I watched a baseball game tonight. The crucial game of the year.

It has been a very long time since the NY Mets had any sort of winning season.

And they almost made it to the World Series. It's been decades since that happened.

I'm surprised there weren't more tears in the basement. Maybe next year, Mr. Met. Maybe next year.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


There it is. Shortly after I first bought it. She was a good little car. I had a Garfield in the back window, and my Israel sticker on the rear window. Many trips, both near and far. Many years of good service. We commend you to the junk yard.

Now. Moving on. I am always willing to give my personal opinion about practically anything. And today I need your opinions.

In all of your years of driving cars, which have you loved most? Which have you hated the most? What should we be watching out for? Any tips for dealing with the tricksy car salesman?

Here is what we're ideally hoping for:

1. Four doors
2. Hatchback/Wagon/fold down back seats (we always have a lot of things to haul about including, but not limited to: huge guitar amps, guitars, keyboards, drywall, bags of dirt, plants, other people, bikes, etc)
3. A/C
4. Excellent gas mileage. This means 28 mpg or higher. At the very least.
5. Low price. This means less than $8000. Much less if possible.
6. 2000 or newer.
7. No need for any repairs in the near future.
8. Someone to give us some money. (oops, sorry about that. Internal monologue coming out.)
9. Good cupholders that our coffee cups don't fall out of.
10. Cruise control
11. Manual transmission. This isn't really a requirement, but I do prefer the manual.
12. Someone to give us a brand new car. Or we could win one. Either way is fine.

Some of these things are very silly, I know. And not all of them are absolutes. But our car is out there waiting for us. We have just to find it...and find the money somewhere in there too!

Ok, ready to hear what you all have to recommend.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why You Shouldn't Talk on Your Phone When You're Driving (Really, is it too much to ask?)

Remember how we were a one car family? And we were ok with that. Not a big deal. We work at the same place so that makes it pretty easy most of the time to get around.

Well, now we're not a car family at all. Just in time for winter, we decided to bike everywhere. Just seemed easier. Save some money on gas and all.

About two years ago we were a two car family. Had a nice little car and a nice little suv. All very happy and cozy. Until someone ran a stop sign and plowed into me on my way into work one day. And we were sad. It was a good little suv. But we grieved and moved on. Made our peace with the world.

About five hours ago we were a one car family. Had a nice little car. All very happy and cozy. Until someone ran a stop light and plowed into my husband on his way home from work. And we are sad. It was a good little Cavalier. A red Cavalier. I had had it for many years.

And now. Now we are not a car family anymore. Both vehicles have been violently taken from us within walking distance of our home. Where do we go from here? We were thinking about buying a new car within a year or so because we weren't sure how long ours was going to last. This has moved up our buying schedule much sooner than we were hoping. Our savings is not ready for this development.

It's such a depressing situation. And I know that if God will provide a way for me to get something silly like my luggage returned to me, a vehicle will be just as easily provided. There's not a "but" at the end of that thought, though it feels like there is.

"But we don't have enough money right now."
"But I don't want to get a huge car loan."

All I'm really saying is, "But I don't trust God enough to provide what we need." I do trust. I don't even have to think about it to know that I trust completely. Maybe I just needed to say it out loud to know it. We'll get something. It will be what we need for carrying what we have, for future use, and for our budget. It will be better than we can hope or imagine.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers.

Flick Pics

I finally got my flickr site up, running, and full to the brim of pictures. Ok, not quite full, in fact there is plenty of room, however, I have uploaded a good pile of pictures.

All the African shots you could possibly be interested in, and many more that I just love. Old wedding pictures, vacations, flowers, projects. Basically most of the ones I've posted and a million that I never have.

Feel free to browse. I still plan to update the descriptions so you actually know what you're looking at for every shot, but here it is.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I love chocolate in every shape and form. In every recipe, over every pastry, everything. I've never met a chocolate cheesecake I didn't love. I love it hot, I love it cold, I love it lukewarm. I'll eat it melted right off my fingertips...or yours for that matter. I'm not shy.

One of my new favorite finds is Cadbury Drinking Chocolate. Every morning and evening in Africa, it was provided for us along with hot milk and hot water. It's not the same as Swiss Miss, which I love and drink plenty of each winter. It has a different taste entirely. And I don't know that Cadbury is necessarily better, but it has a taste of nostalgia mixed in. It tastes like late nights over cards and sweet conversation. It tastes like a fresh morning of high expectations. It tastes like hope, growth, flowers, construction. But maybe that's just me.

And I brought some back home with me. Three small containers that must be carefully rationed. What do I do when the nostalgia runs out?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Everyone is now in their own little room. It is kitty boot camp around here. We are training, people! Training! Treats, food, water with calming drops, and fresh personal litter boxes for each.

Cammie refused to pose. But this is her own personal eating area in the library. She can brush up on her French during lunch.

Iggy gets the bathroom. And an enormous box. But he really seems to like it. That or he really likes the nip I spread over his rug. Whatever.

Clara, of course, gets the sweet, pink, feminine room. She sits happily on her little chair and looks out the window at the world going by.

We take them out now and then to socialize with us and with each other. Apparently, in just one night they have forgotten that they have known each other for years. "Who is this new cat in my house!? I've never seen her before! Must pronounce my seniority! HIISSSSSS!!" Sigh. This training is going to be a pain.

Their sad little cries from under the doors make my heart break. But we will have a calm household, a clean household, a happy-kitty-cuddly household. As God as my witness, I'll never smell cat pee again!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another African Adventure

We climbed a mountain in Africa. Not just a hike. Not just a stroll up a hill. A mountain. A huge pile of rocks and cliffs.

It was honestly one of the best parts of our trip. A beautiful, hot, sunny day in East Africa. A chance to really talk to some of the kids, to really get to know their stories and their lives.

One of the guys who led us up the mountain (all kids who led us, mind you), his name was David. He was just about to graduate from University in Kenya. Grew up as a street child, no parents, no hope, no love, hardly any food. Until he found his way to Mully Children's Family.

I was so impressed by his heart and his knowledge I didn't hardly know what to say to him. He asked me all kinds of political questions and my opinions as an American about all kinds of things. It was fascinating.

The climb was beautiful. A word that seems hardly appropriate, but it's all I have. An unlimited vista spread before us. The villages, the river, the little huts scattered around.

One of the most amazing things was the soil. This part of Kenya is a pretty dry area. Even right by the river, the dirt is red and sandy. However, the whole property belonging to MCF is rich, black soil. As if it were all topsoil. They can grow crops with much less work than even just a few hundred yards in a different direction. As if God directed Charles to purchase that property by chance. It was for his retirement home. A huge piece of land to build a huge home for his family. And now it is the perfect piece of land for farming for his whole 548-child family!

I have to brag just a little bit. I was the only white person to actually make it all the way to the very top of the mountain.
I've always loved climbing things. As a kid I was always in a tree or up a ladder or on the roof. If a window has an adjoining roof, I'd be up there. The climb up the mountain was long, and hot, and very tiring. The air was getting thin and the breeze was getting cold. We were very near the top. But there was a problem. Between the myself and the summit was a chasm. And to jump it was quite tricky. Because you didn't jump over to another rock, you jumped over to a rock face. One needed to have a seasoned climber bridge the gap and then brace themselves against the rock wall and help you over, help you find a handhold and then you had to scamper up the husband was terrified the entire time. He kept shouting up at me that he would be very angry at me if I died. But do you see how high we were? Right in the middle of the clouds.

How Strong Am I?

I like to learn things. I like to know what I am good at and what I am lacking in. I like to be able to improve myself in whatever I am not very good at. One thing I know, however, is that I am very very impatient with myself.

I want to be a better guitar/piano/bass/percussion player NOW. I have a book for everything. Learn to Play Bass Today. Learn to Play the Congos Today. Learn to Play Guitar Today. But it doesn't seem to work that easily.

And I hate that it takes work, and I hate that it takes time. I want to be able to swim NOW. I can doggy paddle like a pro, but when it comes to really swimming, I'm not so good.

However, there are many things that I am naturally very good at. There is still room for I know that potentially someday I could be great at them. And there is still a need for patience, practice and time.

Something hugely significant to me that I took away from the conference last week, was working harder on your strengths than your weaknesses. Not to put all the weaknesses away and never work on them, but to focus on being much better at what you are already good at. Along with this, to focus on the strengths of those you manage or lead.

I am just learning how to be a leader/manager of my little band of musicians. I am just learning how to guide them where I want them to go. I want to encourage them to be strong; encourage them to be great. I am patient with them, I give them time, I tell them to practice.

So I need to follow what I lead. I need to be patient with myself, give myself time, make myself practice. Focus on making myself much better at what I'm good at and a bit better at what I'm ok at. Be more well-rounded, but yet very strong.

Here is my challenge and my question for you: What are you good at? What are you great at? Don't be shy. Be honest about yourself. And along with that, do you know someone who could help you excel at your strongest strength? Because we can't do it on our own.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Dinner, A Man, & A Pinched Nerve

On to a few lighter topics for a while!

At my stellar Hot-Lanta conference, I had the lovely opportunity to dinner with family. Everytime I go to Atlanta, I love it. The traffic I could do without, but we fortunately had a hotel at just the right place so that we never had to sit in any of the bumper to bumper.

It's a great city. Every suburb has it's own personality. Buckhead has been my favorite. The old buildings, the beautiful new buildings. And the restaurants! So many choices, so much good food. We met my aunt and cousin at a two-story fish. Literally, this thing was enormous! But it made it quite easy to find the place...

The food was spectacular, the company was so good to see after so very long. We weren't sure if it had been two years or three...or more. That's never a good thing. Promises to meet again sooner. "Please come up to said you would last year!" I'm keeping my fingers crossed this time.

We stayed very late. We talked over everything. I think we were one of those tables that the waiters talk about back in the kitchen. But sometimes you just have to stay.

Saturday night--back in Michigan. Charles Mulli was speaking at our church. The organization that we stayed at and served with in Africa is called Mully Children's Family. The orphanage that he started from the ground up. A man who was abandonded as a child, left home alone for months while his parents ran to another city to find work. A man who lived by begging, by stealing, by going from home to home to find someone who might help him. He finally got work, and not just that but he found Christ. Finally, he had hope that Someone actually cared about whether he lived or died. He was wildly successful. After many years, he owned several businesses, land, vehicles and was very wealthy.

But he knew he was meant to do something else. God had a different plan for him that didn't involve him being rich. After some time, he realized he was wealthy so that he could minister to other children living on the street like he had. Children who sniffed glue or gas or found some other drug. Kids who had no family, or the family they had beat them or sold them or abandonded them. His heart was for them. All of them.

There are five locations of Mully Children's Homes. All around the country of Kenya. Charles has adopted over 1200 children. Given them clothing, food, shelter, love and the knowledge of God. They all call him Daddy and run to him whenever he is there. I can't think of a better example of the love of Christ than Charles.

All that to say that he was visiting our church this weekend and it was so good to see him again. To hear his familiar voice and to strain to understand his words through his accent. That beautiful accent. Our group got another chance to be together and just hang out together. Sometimes it still feels weird not to see them every day.

Sunday. A beautiful day. Sunny and not too cold. Singing with hundreds of kids. Praising and playing. And a pinched nerve. I don't know when it happened, but it got steadily worse over the day. So that by the end of the evening I could hardly get off my heating pad on the couch. This morning finds me sore. I don't think it's pinched anymore, but everything aches. I am getting so old. It makes me worry that I will have a difficult time carrying my children. So I just try not to think about it.

Now we are all caught up. If you were able to read this post and the one before it all the way through to the end, I commend you. Apparently I am really wordy lately!

So, what is going on with you? What is the one most meaningful thing that happened to you this week? One word or a paragraph, I want to hear it.

A Conference & Some Luggage

It has been insanity. I know we all say that. Our lives are all very busy nowadays. I feel like since I got back from Africa I haven't had a chance to catch my breath.

My mind is still spinning from that and so much more has been thrown on top. This past week we flew down to Atlanta for the yearly Catalyst Leadership Conference. I am always blown away by the production of the event, the quality of all of the speakers, the fun, the music, and just the overall learning. For example, the first day of the event is kicked off with a hot air balloon, a red carpet and breakdancers. To honor one of the British speakers, in walk several British flag-bearers, and men on horseback. Jeff Foxworthy shows up. Just for fun, we have the Guiness Book of World records come to officiate the world's largest pillow fight and then the national dodgeball champions come in for a round of dodgeball. And then there are the speakers. And the worship time.

Every year we look forward to going and then talk about it for the rest of the year. I read through all my notes a few more times. Trying to remember what seemed most important to me. But honestly, the biggest event at the conference had nothing to do with the conference.

When we flew into Atlanta, I went to the rental car counter to get all the paperwork taken care of for our vehicle. Then we all trooped out to the shuttle to go pick it up. When we got into the lot, I headed off to the minivan as I was in charge of that part and I assumed that someone was taking care of my luggage. Not the best assumption I have every made. One should never assume anything.

Needless to say, when we arrived at our hotel 45 minutes later and unloaded everything, I discovered that my luggage was not in the van. I first cried and then immediately called the rental place. They called each of their shuttle drivers and no one had any luggage. Later that evening I called again to see if another passenger had called to say they had luggage that didn't belong to them. Meanwhile I ran out to the store to get the necessities, all the while so sad for the things I had lost. In my head I reminded myself over and over, "they are just things, it doesn't matter" but I was still so frustrated. Not the end of the world, but sad. Sigh.

The next day I put it out of my mind during the conference. I refused to let it ruin or impair any of the time I had to learn and love. I called the rental place again and heard the same message, "No one has called to turn in any luggage." I was giving up any hope.

My last option was to call again and ask for the phone number of the people who got off the shuttle after we did. They had to have accidentally picked up my bag. I knew the time and the exact parking spot they had their rental in. And we also knew that they were at the conference with us because we had heard them mention it on the shuttle.

It was Friday. The last day of the conference and my last chance to find my luggage before we left for home. After one of the sessions, I stepped outside to stand in line for a book signing. I walked out the door, past the heaping trash cans and stopped short. "Do I?" I turned to the three men standing by the door.

"Excuse me, but did you ride the Dollar Rental shuttle?"
"Are you missing your luggage?!"

They asked me my name and I started to cry. All over these wonderful people. I just happened to think that perhaps one of them looked familiar and they indeed did.

They went right away to get my bag from their hotel and I could not express my joy. I cried several more times that day. In thankfulness. In relief.

I know, I know that was just a bag of inconsequential items. And every time I prayed that it would return, I also prayed that I would have a heart of peace if it did not. My life will continue without those clothes or whatever, but the gratitude I felt on receiving them back to me was overwhelming. That God would see fit to let me have my 'things' back. To show me He does actually care about my little silly problems. Nothing I did brought that bag back to me. In fact, while I was standing with them, one of the guys said, "I was just wondering why we were standing here by the trash cans rather than by a tree or something!" To which I replied, "You were here so that I could find you!"

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What is Driving Me?

Is it a meaningful book I've read? A book that changes the meanings of words and redefines concepts in my heart.

Is it a successful event I've been a part of? Pulling off something I didn't think would ever come together.

Is it a trip I've been on where I felt as though my entire world was turned upside down? As though when I got back I couldn't breathe anymore and didn't know what to do with myself anymore but I had to do something.

Was it a really great sermon? Someone speaking profound truth into my ears so loudly I couldn't help but listen and understand and know.

Is it whatever I consider to be my passion? My love for doing what I do and being who I am and becoming myself more every day.

It is all these things. But it is all these things in the love of Christ. Without His love I don't have passions. Without His love there are no great sermons or great books. Without His love I wouldn't go on trips that change my world or be able to be a part of events or work. Whether I realize it on a daily basis or not, the love of Christ is my one and only driving force. It is why I get out of bed in the morning, why I bother to have friends, why I choose to leave my house or drive my car or go to dinner. It is why I want to serve the children, to give to the hungry, to meet with the lonely, to pray to my God.

It's not profound, but oh, it's so true. And oh that I remember it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Smell of Burnt Fur

Still lingers in the air. It's one of those things I've always said would happen. And it did. Clara got her tail too close to a candle and you hear the crackle at the same time you smell the smoke.

It's hard to laugh and trim a tail at the same time.

In other news, we are in the process of getting rid of a cat. It's very sad. Well, no, I take that back. I'm past sad. At the moment, I'm still just angry. We have tried pretty much every training trick in the book, including a pet psychic (yes, it's truly true) nd this morning I cleaned up four spots. FOUR! I cannot have a cat who refuses to use the litter box. I have sacrificed for this cat. I have loved him and fed him and taken him to the vet. I have brushed him and given him treats and scratched him under his chin. But he refuses to reciprocate. Oh, he'll have you believe that he's sweet and innocent and snuggly. But under that furry, cute exterior is a heart of stone. A heart that loves only to pee in the corner.

And so, he must go. Away from my house. To a barn where he can chase mice and eat grass and do whatever he wants to his little stoney heart's content. My heart is stone now also.