Sunday, February 27, 2011

Youth Pastor Summit!

Well, I got the babysitter for the whole day, gas in the car, and a (finally) convinced husband. We're going to the Youth Pastor Summit at Universal Studios tomorrow! Yes, a whole day without the kids! This free mini-conference is put on every year by the Student Leadership University to bless, inform, and edify youth pastors. We had that job for many years, as youth sponsors as well as pastors, and it was tough, rewarding, and frustrating. But, I tell ya, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a teen growing in his or her relationship with Jesus. We're not "in the business" now, exactly, but we are parents of youth now. (WHAT?!) I, for one, need more insight into how the development between childhood to adulthood works and how I can guide them, with Christ, through the process. I need inspiration! God is an excellent co-parent, but sometimes it's so noisy inside and outside of my head that I can't hear His voice. So, I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow. Plus, we get to hang out at Universal for free for a few hours. How fun is that?

Looking forward to sharing more with you all soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Few Pictures from Summertime, Small Town Oklahoma

Last summer we had the amazing good fortune to visit my grandparents in Oklahoma. My mom's parents, my Gram and Grandpa, live in a tiny prairie town: Marshall. All the former businesses are shut down and abandoned. My aunt and uncle's farm is on the outer edge of town, that's where my grandparents raised their children and ran a dairy farm. We celebrated the 4th of July in the pasture with extended family. I seized the opportunity to photograph my grandparents (both around 90 years old) and the aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, etc. that we rarely get to see anymore. Who knew that moving to Florida (5 years ago) was like moving to another country? I hope you enjoy the fresh simple beauty of this corner of my heart.

Sophia (my niece), Luca, and Carlo running down the middle of Main Street.

Luca and Sophia visiting the horse and pony living in the middle of town.

Sophia & Carlo having fun at the park with playground equipment from the 60s.

Red dirt path between Main Street buildings and the park.

Sabina and puppy from my childhood "leaving town" to walk the 2 blocks to my grandparents'.

My Grandpa, Don Huffer

My sister, Holly, picking mulberries in our grandparents' backyard

My Grandpa still loves to tinker around outside

My Gram, Evadean Huffer with the newest Great-Grandbaby

Great-Uncle J.C. is the only man I know with a handlebar mustache!

Luca, Carlo, and Rocky at the farm pond getting ready for fireworks!

Beautiful sunset clouds behind farm pond.

Their own fireworks -BOOM!- of dry grass.

Sophia enjoying the countryside.

Fun with Fireworks! Ah, the freedom of living in the country!

Sabina tuckered out at the end of the night; mosquito bites and all, isn't she an angel?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Microcosm of Humanity

So, I had a follow-up appointment at the doctor's office this morning that I had rescheduled 3 times. I figured I couldn't put it off any longer. I did not choose this doctor, he was chosen for me by my HMO. This office has a waiting room the size of my bathroom with about 9 chairs squeezed in, no magazines, only some medical ads on the walls and a big screen on the wall showing some medical programming. When I got there, I signed in and there was only 1 person in the waiting room. I was called back to do the triage bit: weight (I lost 8 pounds in the last 4 weeks!), temperature, blood pressure. There were no examination rooms available, so I was told to go back and wait.

I figured it wouldn't be too long, so finished my sodoku game while 3 more people arrived and 1 person came out to wait for his next appointment to be scheduled. It took about 15-20 minutes of chatty silliness from the nurses and office staff to get back to him. He was an old black man, arms crossed, legs crossed, folded into himself. When he finally reminded them of his purpose, and got instructions in a slightly condescending tone, he left muttering "Lord have mercy." I forgot to mention that the computer in the triage room had Facebook up. But why not? They obviously didn't have much work to do! I finished 2 more Sodoku games while a man came in wearing an undershirt to ask the ladies to read out his paper that he had pneumonia. He left laughing. Another older man left with instructions to see a GI, which he didn't understand. An old man, who obviously had some serious health problems arrived with his 20-something daughter (I think) to drive him, sign him in, take care of the Medicaid stuff, etc. While they waited, he pulled out a thick novel and turned to his place in the first quarter of the book. "Do you think I'll have time to finish this here?" he joked. A young couple came in with a double stroller with 2 toddlers strapped in and a stroller with an infant car seat with their 1-month-old. All floor space was now taken up. Shortly after they arrived, a middle-aged white woman on a slant came in and checked in and started baby-talk with the adorable children. She was missing half her teeth. I gave up on the next sodoku game because I messed up somewhere. An hour after I arrived, I texted Nick on my phone that I was still waiting. Less than 5 minutes later, I was taken back to a room. Then I waited about 10 more minutes.

I forgot to mention that one of the times I had to reschedule was because when I went to have the blood tests that he ordered, I was told that I had to be fasting for one of them. Yeah, thanks for the wasted time/gas, doctor! Why couldn't they have told me that at the doctor's office?

Anyway, my doctor is elderly and of some Asian descent. That doesn't concern me. What does bother me is when he can't think of the word "symptoms."

Through this experience, I was patient, unbothered - mostly - and interested in those around me. I was stirred to start praying for the other people in the waiting room. Now, I am kind of shy, so my prayers were in my head and under my breath. (They may have thought I was a weirdo.) But, I felt that I was actually seeing some of them through God's eyes. His heart will give you the most breathtaking empathy. Lord, let me see each of Your children as You do! Guide me in Your ways!

Just one picture from this weekend's amazing Holy Spirit joy at OHOP (Nick in front)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Teen Years

That's right, we've entered the teen years in our home. And, I gotta tell ya, it's not all bad. Sure, Antonio is now officially taller than I am and he has this cute shadow over his top lip, but he's also a really great kid! Not only is he willing to watch his little brothers and sisters while Nick & I take a coffee date, but he actually makes sure stuff is cleaned up and the dog is taken out. (I've gotten a few complaints about his bossiness, but I think that's okay considering he's the oldest.) We've really been blessed by our firstborn and he continues to bless others as well.
As heartbroken as I am to realize my little blond-haired angelic baby is growing up, I am also happy that he is becoming a man after God's heart.
We didn't have a big party, but Antonio did invite a friend over to spend the night for the first time. The two of them, Rocky, and Nick went and played a couple sessions of laser tag, we shared a meal, and pigged out on my creation of a S'More Cake. It was messy, gooey, and yummy + ice cream. Later, they played Wii and PS3 till about midnight and crashed out on couches in the living room. Church time came too early the next day. ;) 
Happy Birthday Antonio! You bring joy to my heart and love to my life. I expect your teen years to be amazing!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today, I finally got the video of the progress on our house online. I am so thankful for all the amazing people who volunteered their time and generously donated toward our home makeover. We've been here for a few months now, and there's still a lot of work to do, but we are thankful for this opportunity God gave us to learn, grow, and persevere. He is truly glorious. Hop on over to our family blog to check it out!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Feeling More Myself

Quick update on my dad for my fellow prayer warriors out there; he was moved back to the V.A. Medical Center today after spending the last 2 days at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. I guess they still want to observe him and they had a room open at the V.A. His eyesight is still messed up to the right and his head still hurts. He's been unable to keep any food down in the past 3 days besides 1 yogurt. He's also having trouble reading. Although I'm not quite the wreck I was on Saturday, I'm still really worried about him. He's having hemorrhagic strokes, so instead of blocked vessels, it's broken vessels bleeding out into the brain. He seemed almost normal on the phone, but I can tell he still needs a lot of prayer. Thank you.

Anyway. Today, I'm wearing ripped jeans and a princess t-shirt. On my errands to get medical tests done, break my fast at Starbucks, and trip to the grocery store, I found myself almost strutting. Strangers talked to me out of no where. I was really feeling more myself for the first time in a long time. Years even. Now, I know that part of that is this new way of eating I'm following. I'm eating a lot of plants. Veggies, fruits, beans, seeds, some whole grains: naturally occurring food. God-made food. I've only been doing this for about 2 weeks, and not entirely faithfully. But, I've been breaking some seriously bad eating habits and it already shows. I have, unfortunately, not started exercising yet but have lost enough weight that people are noticing. I feel better. My moods have evened out, I feel more positive in general. And, even the shock of my dad's stroke hasn't dropped me in the pit. We led worship at OHOP yesterday and it was AMAZING! Holy Spirit was moving in that place and so were the people! JOY! I feel that I am safe, for the first time in a long time. Safe in God's arms. I feel that I can do whatever He calls me to! I know that the girl I used to be, artistic, bold, silly, is still me. Does that sound strange? I am STILL ME! God created me in His image and in realizing that, KNOWING it, I have become one "with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord" and I'm  "being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18) Isn't that AWESOME?

I guess that's really what it comes down to. My face has been unveiled. GLORY!!!!
Truly "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinth. 3:17) Even the freedom to wear your old ripped jeans and walk boldly.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lord Help Me!

I need your prayers again. I've been wanting to write and share joys and the busy-ness I'm still trying to juggle. I've been meaning to give everybody an update on Rachel's progress. But, I come here today with another prayer request. Please, please pray for my Daddy, Jim. He's been admitted to the VA Medical Center in Omaha because he's had a stroke. I just got the call from my mom this evening. He just had a mini-stroke in December and he had a more serious mini-stroke in 1998. I don't know how serious this one is, but I am believing that he will be healed by the blood of Jesus. I'm kind of a wreck; been missing my family lately anyway and this happens. The outpouring of prayers from my church family and friends so far tonight has been a blessing. I would be untethered without them. My Papa (my dad's dad) died when he was 59, and now my dad is that age. To me, he still seems young. To my kids, he's Papa. Please help me pray.