Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Incredible Adventures of Rat-Shack (or how my boy snagged himself a Drumstick)

Hubs and I have been growing increasingly frustrated with an occurrence that seems to be happening with increasingly regularity at Potter Place. I've labeled it "The Saturday Night Brain Drain."

It goes something like this:

On the way home from church, we routinely ask the children to tell us what they learned in their class that evening.

Rachel (oldest child, Type A personality, always eager to impress) takes a deep breath. Exhales the following: "We-learned-about-Moses-and-Pharaoh-and-how-he-wouldn't-let-the-Israelites-leave-Egypt-to-go-to-the-Promised-Land-even-after-God-sent-terrible-plagues-on-the-land-what-an-idiot-he-was!"

Very good.

Sara (middle child, so very NOT Type A) yawns, looks around the car as if waiting for someone to help her out: "Ummm, I'm not sure. I really don't think we had a story tonight."

Good try, except for two things. First, I am 110% certain that the leaders of our children's ministry would NEVER plan a lesson that did not include something from God's Word. Second, they send home a "Ride Home Recap" card each week that summarizes the main points of the lesson with discussion questions and suggestions for home activities to further reinforce the principles taught.

So, even if she can't tell me the first thing about what she learned, I have it all right there in front of me, something one would imagine that she would figure out over time.

So we try again with Gavin (baby of the family, a class clown in the making).

"What did you learn tonight, honey?" I gently probe.

"Nothing," he replies in a tone that lets me know he is hoping that will be the end of discusson. Which, of course, it is not. But, alas, more gentle mama probing gets me nowhere with these two tight lips. If they remember something, anything at all,from their time at church, they certainly aren't about to let on.

So, last weekend I announced a new Saturday Night incentive program. Any child who could give us a suitable synopsis of that week's lesson would be rewarded upon returning home with a scrumptious ice cream treat. That sounded reasonable, I thought, and was sure to motivate all three to put on their listening ears at church.

Eager to see the first week's result, I picked them up last weekend and began asking questions on the way to the car. Take note of that last statement. I did NOT wait until we got home. I did NOT wait until the next morning. They were given the opportunity to tell me what they had learned as quickly as I retrieved them from their classes.

And still, neither of the younger two could even tell me the main character's name. It broke my heart to serve up their older sister's ice cream treat while they looked on in shock, yelling about the unfairness of it all and how-in-the-world-could-I-expect-them-to-remember-anything-for-THAT-LONG?????

(Umm, maybe because when I promise to take you to the park, you remember that for HOURS?)

Fast forward to tonight. I mentioned to the children several times today that there were Drumsticks in the freezer for everyone who listened quietly at church and could tell me about their story afterward. I hoped that the result would be better than last week but definitely wasn't holding my breath.

And so it was with great joy and surprise when Gavin and Sara jumped into the car this evening that I heard my little man burst forth with, "I LISTENED TO MY STORY TONIGHT AND IT WAS ABOUT ME-SHACH, RAT-SHACK AND A-BEN-DI-GO AND HOW THEY WOULDN'T BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP THE STATUE."

It has never thrilled me more to give a kid a Drumstick.

And yes, both of his sisters got one, too. It was a mighty fine night at Potter Place as our four-year-old regaled us with stories about Rat-Shack and his friends.

Man, I love this age.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And the winners are ...

First, let me say a big thanks to Shannon for a week of oh-so-much-fun! I wonder if she had ANY idea how much participation this first (but hopefully not last!) Dog Days of Summer would garner ...

Second, there is a WHOLE lot of creativity out there, and I have loved browsing so many new sites this week. I've bookmarked several lots to go back and read in the future, and I hope that some of my visitors this week will drop back in at Potter Place again.

Now, the moment you've been waiting for ...

The winner of my first giveaway for the personalized famiy notecards is Sherry from over at Semicolon, and the winner of the candle is Linda SS whom I will contact by email.

Many thanks to everyone who entered!

I'm still offering a 20% discount on all orders placed by August 15 ... it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts, you know!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's a Summer Giveaway in Bloggityville!!!

I'm playing along with Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer who is organizing what must surely be The World's Largest Giveaway Ever.

I had a hard time selecting just one item, so I'm giving away TWO personalized gifts from my business, Lasting Impressions, to TWO lucky winners!

The first is a handmade candle decorated with a fall harvest design. It is 3x3 (3" tall x 3" across top) On the back, it says, "For these and all our many blessings, make us truly thankful. The ______ Family" and will be personalized with the last name of the winner.

The second is a set of 10 personalized notecards and envelopes. The star in the middle features the surname in a beautiful script, while the background is made up of a repeating design of family members' first names.

I will choose a winner for these hand-created items on Friday, July 22. If you wish to enter the drawing, just leave a single comment (duplicates will be deleted) below. You must provide a valid e-mail address, but you do not have to have a blog. International participants are welcome. I'll close comments at 12:01 a.m. this coming Friday morning, July 27, and I'll draw a random winner from the list. I'll announce the winner sometime on Friday.

In addition, anyone who places an order by August 15 and mentions this blog will receive 20% off their order.

If you're interested in seeing the other items up for grabs, you can peruse the entire list of participants over at Shannon's place.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Is there anything more beautiful ...

than a garden full of produce ready to be picked, sliced and served that night at the dinner table?
Because of our move last summer, I wasn't able to plant a garden. Never did get around to tilling one up this past year, so when planting season rolled around, I got myself a couple varieties of tomato plants, some soil and fertilizer and decided to give container gardening a try.
My first tomatoes have ripened within the last week, and I must say, the results are every bit as tasty as the ones produced in gardens in years past.
I'm just a little bit giddy, y'all, with all this tomato-y goodness!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pray for Amy

I've been following Amy Wilhoit's blog since she was diagnosed with leukemia last year. This precious young woman has fought bravely and written very articulately about her journey though a very difficult illness. She is facing more tests this week and could sure use some prayer and encouragement. If you have a moment, stop by her blog and let her know you're lifting her up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Surely, you're joking ...

The girls and I got out of Dodge yesterday to spend a few hours with some friends in Branson at Silver Dollar City. It was undoubtedly the hottest day we've had in the South so far this summer, and by day's end we were exhausted.

The wait for a tram to take us to the parking lot seemed to drag on for an eternity. Although we were at the front of the line, each time an empty tram rolled up to our stop, throngs of the weary masses rushed to fill the seats. Tired 5- and 7-year-old legs just couldn't move as quickly.

A couple of Illinois retirees standing behind us seemed content to take their time waiting and struck up a conversation with us. "Did you all have a nice day?" the woman asked. The absence of the word "y'all" in her question alerted me to the fact that these were not Southerners in our midst, so I asked where they were from. And so began the conversation.

After I commented upon the oppressive heat and humidity and the fact that a heat stroke might be occurring in my near future, the Illinois wife leaned in close and motioned me to do the same. "I have a secret," she said.

A secret?

"Put ice cubes in your bra," she said, completely serious. "You'll melt the first two. The next ones will feel amazing!"

I can think of a number of adjectives for the sensation of ice next to my chest, but I'm not sure that the word amazing would be among them. Exquisitely torturesome. Unbearably unendurable. Violently stabbing. Those would be more fitting descriptors, I should think. (Not to mention exquisitely embarrassing to look like a lactating mother with leaky faucets!)

But what do I really know? I've never tried it. So, in the interest of saving some poor soul(s) from this wretched summer heat, I pass this tip along, proven by a wise grandmotherly type who was kind enough to share it with me. If it saves at least one gal from a heat-related illness, then I will have done my duty to womankind.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Goodbye, Dear Carrie

When the respected author/Christian counselor team of Dr. Gary and Carrie Oliver moved to Northwest Arkansas several years ago to head up the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University, I was thrilled to learn that they had joined the Saturday night congregation at my church. We had the privilege of hearing Gary speak several times a year, and quite often sat behind this amazingly gifted couple.

Many were heartbroken last year when Carrie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We watched this vibrant, beautiful woman of God fight valiantly. She blogged about her journey ( and the amazing lessons she learned along the way. We her readers and fellow church members rejoiced with them in the victories and wept with them in the struggles.

Yesterday afternoon at home surrounded by her family, God ended Carrie's struggle and took her home to be with Him. Though our hearts break over the loss of this incredible woman, we can rejoice that her fight is over and she is now receiving what must surely be a substantial reward.

Please pray for comfort for her husband Gary and sons Nathan and Andrew. This dear family (who lost their middle son Matt just two short months ago) has experienced unbelievable suffering since Carrie's diagnosis a year ago.

At times like this, it is difficult to imagine what our Heavenly Father is up to. It's hard not to think about how much MORE the impact of Carrie's ministry could have been had she been given more years in this life. How many more college students would she have impacted? How many more marriages brought back to life? I am reminded once again of God's statement in Isaiah 55:9, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Translation: We don't have to understand God to be able to trust Him.

Goodbye for now, precious Carrie. Thank you for the wonderful legacy you left in your 48 years on this earth. You were a beautiful example to so many women who saw in you a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend worth emulating. May that legacy live on in a powerful way. You will be deeply missed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Speaking out

We spent Saturday enjoying Silver Dollar City with our friends Brent and Susan from Fort Worth, and the day could not have been more perfect. The morning crowds weren't too bad, the weather was nice until just before we were ready to leave, and the good folks who run the City gained my respect in a new way.

If you've ever been to SDC, you know that they pride themselves on being a family friendly place. They expect their guests to be attired properly and to behave themselves properly. There are signs near several rides that state the following: "Your photo will be taken on this ride. Guests who make obscene gestures at the camera will be asked to leave the park." The park information guide carries a similar warning concerning foul language. The message is clear: If you want to be uncouth, please don't do it at Silver Dollar City. It simply won't be tolerated.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I noticed a young woman behind me in the lunch line wearing a t-shirt with one of the most obscene messages I have ever seen.

Surely that doesn't say what I think it said. Trying not to be conspicuous, I peered cautiously once again at the message on the black shirt. Yes, it did.

My first reaction was disgust. What kind of person would use their body to advertise such a lewd, pornographic message? My second was embarrassment. What in heaven's name would I say if my seven-year-old daughter (who reads everything in sight) asked what it meant?

A righteous anger welled within me, and I called the indecent clothing to my husband's attention. I thought of the thousands of other parents in the park that day whose innocent children would be assaulted by this pornography. "What can be done?" I asked. He suggested that I find a security guard and see how he would like to handle the situation.

The manager of the restaurant was kind enough to call security for me, and within minutes a uniformed guard was on the scene thanking me for sharing my concerns and assuring me that she would not be allowed to remain in the park wearing the shirt.

The restaurant staff, trying to keep the situation as discrete as possible, allowed the woman to finish her meal and as she was leaving, the guard stopped her outside and led her away. I have no idea whether she was asked to leave the park or was allowed to turn her clothing inside out, but I am fairly certain that no more park patrons were subjected to her smutty message that day.

As I watched that misguided soul walk away, I thought about how radically parenthood has changed me. Ten years ago, would the same experience have disgusted me? Absolutely! But would it have moved me to action? Probably not. The responsibility I now have for the proper care and training of my three children (and the responsibility I feel to help protect the innocence of ALL children) is a powerful force. Channeled properly, it can be a force to help shape the future of our country and keep its values based on the truth of God's Word.