Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Avoid and Not Be a Toxic Friend

When I was young making and keeping friends was so easy.  It was as simple as common interest and luckily, we all went to the same school so we had seven hours a day to invest in each other.  Then we had all the extra-curricular time too – band, choir, drama, trips across the state and continent.  Time was there.  All conflicts seemed to be settled relatively easily.  In fact, I am still friends with most of my high school friends. 

But, as I get older, as I move around a lot, I find making and keeping friends is so difficult.  There are less and less things like school to bring adults together.  There are more and more distractions to keep us from investing in each other.  Work, community service, kids, even family all seem to be obstacles to developing mature healthy relationships.  Sometimes we get so depressperate we even let toxic friends into our lives.  But it shouldn’t be that way. 

Friendship is good for the mind, body and soul. One study shows that people with the most friends over a 9 year period cut their risk of death more than 60% (Source: Dr. Dean Ornish, a pioneer in reversing heart disease, states no other factor in medicine, “not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery – has a greater effect on how often we get sick than the healing power of love.” (Source:  In a study were women saw volunteer friends regularly throughout the year; they had a 72% remission in depression.  That is the same success rate as antidepressants  (Source:

But friendship is good for the soul.  People with strong social networks are more likely to survive major illness like cancer or heart attack. It reduces the effects of stress on the body and helps us heal. (Source:  And all of this was DESIGNED that way.  Gensis 2:18 states: “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  So why do we stop investing as we get older? 

Life gets complicated.  That is the true reality.  And when life gets complicated and hard it is easier to stop letting people in and try to do things on your own.  But that is not the example we have been set.  Christ began his ministry by finding and investing in 12 close friends – what we know now as the apostles.  But more than that, he had 3 close friends - Peter, James, and John - the inner circle friends, friends of the circle of trust.  

Christ followed Proverbs 13:20 – “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” When Christ started his 3 year ministry which would be tulmultous and difficult, he found the company of wise men.  But more importantly, they found the company of a wise man.  In the course of these three years, these men would heal the sick, raise the dead, anger the political and religious leaders (in today’s terms the President of the United States and the Pope).  The were kicked out of towns, barrated, and eventually beaten and publically killed.  If wisdom was ever needed it was in these times. 

Although perhaps more extreme than what you or I might expereince today, the principle is the same.  Deciphering when to become intimate with a person, what happens if you made that decision to young and the consiquences that follow, perhaps it is a question of drug use or where to go to college or whether to join the service.  All of these life altering decisions need wise counsel.  So it is SO important to surround yourself with wise people.  They will help steer you away from the stupid mistakes while supporting you in the situation you are presently in.  

Proverbs 18:24 states, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
  but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” and Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  Here is a true life example of what this looks like. 

My kid brother was a senior in high school and went to a bachelor party of a life long friend.  This friend was not wise by any stretch of the imagination.  All the guys got drunk and my brother found himself giving it away in the back of a car to a girl he had broken up with numerous times with because she was unstable. 
One year later, in a happy relationship with the woman who is now his wife, he got a call from the one night stand, and was told he was the father of a bouncing baby boy.  In the utter shock and confusion of the situation he tried to do everythin on his own. In the processes, he alienated people who cared about him and unknowingly signed away his rights as a father and the child was illegally adopted. 

When people found out, he was kicked out of youth groups, Bible studies, and some community organizations.  Life was, to say the least, hard.  But he learned a valuable proverb – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  In this process both he and his then-girlfriend, now wife, learned what real friendship is.  Being loved at ALL times – even when we make gargantuan mistakes.  The friends he had made that choice with ran away when life got hard, but some of the true friends stuck around and helped him through the very tough situation.  But he discovered what brotherhood was too.  In the process three of our siblings offered to adopt the child as their own, and all of us came around him to support and uplift him.  We all make stupid decisions, but the people who stick with us through those stupid decisions are the ones we know are our true friends. 

Healthy relationships are impotant, but we can’t just stop at having those friends in our lives.  We MUST  BE those friends to others.  Ephesisians 4:2-3 states, “
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Plainly speaking – be nice, even when it is difficult, be kind – even when you want to wring their necks, be  considerate – even when you just need to focus on yourself sometimes.  Never be the voice of dissention – unless it is to stop hurt and damage.  Always work in love, speak in love, and interact in love – even with strangers. 

Relationships are hard.  You are not always going to make the best decisions in them, but with a firm foundation you have a hope of it. Christ picked 12 close friends he walked with for three years.  One of them betrayed him into the hands of his enemy, sealing it with a kiss.  Juddas brought armed men to arrest the peaceful Christ and sold his best friend for a mere 30 pieces of silver.  Yet, Christ, knowing the betrayal would happen, still died to forgive his sins (had Judas asked).  After all, as John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Say what? He PURSUES me!?!

If you are like me, and maybe you are not, but if you are what keeps you awake at night is not my circumstances or my looks and body image.  What keeps me up, and has since I can remember, are my relationship – those with my friends, my family, and most especially with God.

Questions like: How could I have done that differently? I hope they hear my heart…but what if they don’t like me?  Am I being a reflection of Christ’s love for me?  When I was younger,  and in the dating game, questions like: will he ask me out?  Am I coming on too strong? Not enough?  Does God approve of dating?  Should I be pursuing a romantic relationship or just focus on God? All of these are relationship questions and our focus the next couple weeks.  Today, we are going to talk about our relationship with God.

1 Samuel reminds us, “God does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  How comforting I have found these words growing up.  Being an introverted band geek and drama nerd who doesn’t get on well in large groups, how people view me was always important.  Add on to it, I am the middle of 7 and the daughter of not one, but TWO pastor’s – eyes were always on me – to be perfect.  Now that is pressure.  But when I read this, I am reminded that it is not about image or personality or how many likes I have on Facebook or followers on Twitter.  It is about my heart.  God cares about me.  Just me.  The way I am.

Jesus confirms this in Luke 12:7 confirms this when he says, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  At first glance, this seems like nothing, but when you look at the bigger picture, it really is amazing.  God cares enough about the insignificant sparrow and provides him food and clothes the flowers in brilliance when all they do is fade and die tomorrow.  How much more, does he care for me?  How much more does He want to know me?  To talk with me? To walk with me?  How amazing is it that the Almighty, the very creator of the universe, Heaven and Earth, wants more than just to watch me from afar, but knows the very hairs on my head? 
But it gets better!  Psalms tells us that His “beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.”  His love CHASES us. The very word means to pursue with intent to catch.  He is pursuing us – working to catch us and embrace us in everlasting love. 

So when I think about relationships at the end of the day, before I fall asleep, I can go to bed in complete confidence that God not only knows who I am, but knows me intimately and loves me.  He actually wants to be in my life so much, He PURSUES me!  How awesome is that!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

10 Things I Learned Driving Across the Country

1.       ALWAYS use a Garmin.

I have spent most of my life using hand written directions and maps.  My daddy taught me how to read a map when I was ten (thank goodness for that!) But having that handy-dandy Garmin to use on trip was AMAZING. 

Garmins will tell you directions (quite literally they speak to you and you can set the type of accent they use…so much fun!) Garmins will show you maps, can re-route you for anything in under 60 seconds and can save your locations.  But that is not why I think you should use a Garmin over Google or Tom Tom.

My mom told me this story, just before we left on our cross country adventure, of when she and my dad went to the D.C. area for work.  She had a rental car and was crossing state lines (you do that a lot here…I know crazy for you Californians).  She was pulled over almost immediately for speeding.  Here is the kicker – the speed limit change had NOT been posted.  When she asked the officer when the speed limit had changed, his answer (in East Coast fashion) was, “About 60 years ago!”  Needless to say she paid the ticket and we got a free lesson. 

On EVERY state line we crossed the speed limit changed by 10 mph every time…without a change posted.  How did we know this valuable bit of information?  The Garmin.  It tells you when and to how much the speed limit changes…AT the change!  Saved us multiple times!

You have to get one:

2.       NEVER eat at a fast food restaurant on base.

About the second or third day, after a ten hour drive, we pulled onto a base (I won’t say which one) exhausted.  It was by far the most friendly base we have ever stayed on…and we have stayed at a lot! It was about 9:00 p.m. and we were hungry! So we stopped by the McDonalds on the way to lodging.  Now neither of us like McDonalds, but it was what was open.  We order a chicken wrap, and because it was almost Christmas and it is a Black Family tradition to have Egg Nog, I ordered an Egg Nog shake (first one ever).  It tasted great too!  Until about 1:00 a.m.  Then for the next 24 hours my body expelled it and anything else I tried to put in it.  Needless to say, our two days with my Austin family was quickly shortened to one.  So bummed!!!

3.       Certain states (at least part of them) don’t want you to flush soiled toilet paper…GROSS!

Because I got so sick, I used a lot of bathrooms as we traversed across New Mexico and into Texas .  A couple caught me off guard.  One was the Pizza Hut (I can’t remember if it was in New Mexico or Texas) but I can remember that we will NEVER eat Pizza Hut again.  We didn’t even eat there, but the smell from outside all the way in was VOMIT.  Awful!  So we let the dog out to pee and we headed on.  In Texas, however, we stopped at a Dairy Queen (only thing open on Christmas Eve).  If you are ever as ill as I was, their toast was a perfect thing to keep down…that was all I ate.  But, they don’t want you to put spoiled paper tissue in the toilet.  I found that icky and strange, but I bet it has something to do with their pipes.  Anyway, it made me pity the trash guy.

4.       Take a driving buddy.

I cannot tell you how helpful a driving buddy is!  Of course a trip like this is only half as much fun if you go alone, but with the driving buddy it is wonderful! Robert and I were able to take turns often, which made us always fresh…except on day one when I drove 11 hours from Yuba City, CA to Phoeniz, AZ.  Robert had just spent 24 hours flying to Georgia and back so he was in no condition to drive.  By the time we got into our hotel at near 1:00 a.m. I could not say it was too soon.  That was also the nicest place we stayed at the whole time…so bummed it was only for 10 hours. But, the rest of the trip was made much easier because there were two of us.  It also meant we could keep making progress even when I was decommissioned for a day. Aside from banter and shared experiences, the help driving is a MUST!

5.       See as much family and friends as possible!

I cannot stress this one enough! Especially when you traveling across country for a move, this one is essential.  Half way through our trip I got to see my Austin family.  Oh how I miss them! It was a blessing to be with them on Christmas Day and more to just hang out with my little buddies.  When you think you are done driving and know family is on the other side, that is what keeps you going.  Two days later, we got to see Robert’s family in Georgia.  It was a nice  connection before we headed on to our new home in Maryland.  That is a great way to keep you driving across deserts and no-wheres-villes. 

6.       Don’t drive through the country during the holidays.

NOTHING IS OPEN THE WEEK OF CHRISTMAS OR NEW YEARS!!!!!  Just so you know.  That made it hard to do anything fun anywhere.  But, we did come across the biggest trading post I have EVER seen in Texas (they really do all things bigger).  This post was quite literaly in the middle of nowhere, but it was boasted easily 600 square feet of wall to wall product – blankets, carvings, purses, etc.  And they really are super friendly! We also stumbled across a General Paton Museum we had no idea exisited (though it was closed).


7.       The state of Florida is on TWO DIFFERENT time zones.

When you spend a week plus on the road you find little ways to keep entertained as you drive across nothing.  One of those ways is to check changes in time zones.  If you are from California, like I am, you have spent your entire life believing Florida is on East Coast time.  And you would be right…for half of the state!  Half the state is on central time and the other half is eastern.  It blew our minds! Especially because we expected it to change at or near the state line. 

8.       Georgia believes in killing its drivers…especially in the rain!

Ok, that really isn’t fair to say.  I cannot say with definitely that the entire state of Georgia believes in killing its drivers, but I can make a fair guess.  I drove the entire state of Georgia, in the rain and in both night and day.  In my experience, a state that does not believe in lighting even their highways, does not use reflectors on the road and doesn’t bother to re-painted their very, very faded lane lines, wants to kill drivers.  You can barely see in the dark for all the forests and swamps in Georgia, and you can barely see in the day for their lack of road repair.  But, add in torrential rain and you can see for anything.  I was never so happy to cross into a new state as I was to cross into South Carolina!

9.       South Carolina is beautiful in architecture and nature.

South Carolina gets a bad rap because they made some decisions way back to hundred years ago and are still paying for it.  But I will say this, it is BEAUTIFUL!  It is by far one the most beautiful states I have ever driven through.  We even stopped off in Camden as an unscheduled stop to see some history.  They have painstakingly incorporated modern with historical.  Everything is well taken care of and planned out. The drivers are wonderful too!  Nowhere else will you find drivers getting to the slow lane so quickly when you are going faster than them, no one cuts you off, everyone uses their blinker, it is wonderful (and the complete opposite of Maryland). I cannot wait to spend more time there!

10.   It would take a life time to get all the history out of the colonial states.

We were lucky to spend a day in Yorktown, VA (another not planned trip).  We spent one day at one of its historical sites and still had not taken in all that little town has been through.  It is part of a historical triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown) and we could easily have stopped at each.  But time just didn’t allow it.  It was our first introduction to the rich history here on the East Coast, and gave many plans for future visits (those towns are only 3 hours away from us!) So come visit!


Friday, September 13, 2013


On Monday my sister who does Cross Fit (an extreme workout from what I can tell, but you can take a look for yourself) started a new challenge with her class workout with a strict paleio (I have no idea how to spell this thing…they also call it a Hunter Gather diet) diet for thirty days.  So, I jumped on the bandwagon of diets (which I have NEVER done in my life) to see if what it would do.  So far…I hate it.  But, hey, you can do anything for thirty days, right? 

So why the diet?  I am not obese.  I am not even close to fat. And Robert thinks I’m hot, so why bother? For me, it has more to do with how I feel about myself.  I work out five to six days a week every week and have since January.  I have lost some weight, but plateaued out in about March.  Though I continually work out and have a physically demanding job lifting weights eight hour a day on the weekends, I would not say exercise is my problem.  So diet it must be.  After one week, I already hate it. 

On this diet you eat meat, fruits and vegetables.  If it has been processed at all you cannot eat it. I miss milk in my coffee and texture to my food.  I am so ready for the next three weeks to fly by (especially because Robert will be back then). 

In the process of all this, my body has taken a beating in my work outs, but also in the unusual way of insect intervention.  I went for a walk the other day with my sister and her two kids through their orchards.  I am in a green top and leggings, just strolling (not even a brisk walk).  All of a sudden out of nowhere my shoulder is on fire.  I think, perhaps I got caught on a branch or something and quickly go to unhook myself, but as I move my arm begins to radiate pain.  I quickly determine I have unknowingly walked into a hornet’s nest and that either they are threatened by me or I blended in with their home and they thought they landed at home base.  Either way, I am no in some of the worst pain I have been in in who knows how long.

The last time I was stung by anything was a bee and I was five.  I was playing dress up in my mom’s clothes, as most little girls are prone to do and took a seat on the window bench.  Just sitting, all of a sudden my left thigh is on fire and it is quickly determined I was stung by a bee.  Whoever said if you don’t bother them they will not bother you lied.  The only times I have been stung I have done nothing, and the first time that bee was in MY home. 

Anyway, so tears are literally streaming down my face at this point and two babies are trying to figure out what could have happened to cancel our walk so abruptly and why I am crying.  I read once that if you don’t usually curse and are in a lot of pain and your curse, it lessens the pain.  This is the first time I have wanted to try it out and of course there are babies around who can and do talk so I can’t. 

My sister was a medic with the Marines and does all the usual stuff.  I take my shirt off to get the stinger out (it must have fallen off in the fight to get home or never came off the buggar).  And because I have never been stung by a hornet (which we decided this must be because the pain is so intense and comes in waves) we call Urgent Care to make sure we are looking out for the right signs…mostly because my entire arm is going numb at this point.  She puts some lavender on it which immediately soothes the pain a little and I start icing it.  But, here is the tricky thing I learned: mud works wonders!  My brother-in-law put some mud on it and within thirty minutes the pain was significantly less (as long as I didn’t move the arm that much) and the waves it came in lasted only a brief moment.  So, next time your stung – mud is a miracle worker. 

Then last night I am coming home from rehearsal and I am so nauseous I want to pull over to the side of the road and vomit for no reason whatsoever.  I make it home.  Crawl into bed.  And call Robert.  You know you love someone when you feel like crap and only want to be with them, which is exactly how I felt when I was stung and again when I wanted to vomit.  He talked with me for a while.  He thinks he will head back to New Orleans this weekend, so we reminisced about our trip.  It was a great way to go to sleep, even if he did succeed in getting some of my most embarrassing stories out of me…only because he embarrassed me.  That’s love.   Let’s just say he had me on speaker without telling me and I said something for his ears only…that is roommate heard.  It wasn’t anything bad, it was just funny looking back, but in that moment I was mortified. 

Funny how life works, isn’t it?  Pain makes you want to be near someone and in the same instant you want to be in a dark cave hiding out from the embarrassment of a quick decision.  Ah, well, such is the life of this crazy girl.  You just never know what you’re going to get. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The first Skype date

I had the best and unexpected coffee date with V the other day.  I had worked till midnight the night before and had to be up for work at seven a.m.  I think in all, once everything was said and done, I slept maybe four hours.  So when I got the unexpected text from her with the invitation I was tempted to decline because I was pure exhaustion walking.  But, I said yes.  And thank God I did!!!

She and I talked about everything from being an introvert to relationships to God.  I was encouraged by her testimony, and did not even realize I needed the encouragement.  Although I had four cups of coffee that day to function, she made the rest of the night so much more pleasant.  I could not have asked for a better gift from God at that moment, and I didn’t know I needed it.  V-, I can’t wait to do it again!!!  And the pictures of the house look great! 

I then got to talk with Robert.  He certainly was a sight for sore eyes.  We have been talking via text and phone the pass week because our schedules are so crazy, so it was nice to see him.  Things get lost in communication via technology, but we you see them again you realize how much you needed to. We chatted about everything and nothing and he headed off to bed.  Two hours later, headed to bed myself, I had an epiphany! 

You see I am a quality time kind of girl.  I like going to festivals, and being outside, and trying new things.  I especially like to do them with people I love!  The Smoots can attest to this. Well, lately, I have been doing a lot of that with my sister and her family, which made me want to do them all the more with Robert.  But, being a country away makes that difficult.  So, you can imagine we are in need of a date.  But how do you have a date when you are so far apart?  Conundrum. 

Here’s when I was hit with an epiphany.  Why not play a card game over Skype?  He went out and bought a deck for the occasion and I borrowed one from my sister.  We played Go Fish.  Yes, I know it is a kid’s game, but it was perfect for us!  As each person got a pair we told the other so they could take it out of their own deck.  We played for two hours and talked about the stress in my life and he made me laugh…so hard!!!  It was just what I needed…and I will venture to say what he needed as well.  So, I am now open for ideas on how to have a date with someone over Skype.  Please let me know any that come to mind. 

One of the things we discussed was my frustration and fear that I will never get that coveted “Big Girl” job.  And Robert encouraged me that I would find it, that I would love it, and that there is already something new happening in my life.  He had hope for me last night, which I needed.  This morning, my verse of the day was, “For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?”  (Isaiah 43:19…from one of my favorite books!)  Ok God, I hear you.  Thank you for using V-, Robert and my verse of the day to remind me of this powerful truth. 

And now, with a new light of hope and determination, I am going to attempt to have a date playing the game of Life with him…we’ll see how that goes.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Divine Appointments

I am in the middle of working three weeks straight, with no weekends.  I am tired.  I have been tired all week, but God continues to call me to His divine appointments. 

Remember Nick?  Well, his situation has gotten worse and God keeps telling me to care.  So, this week I put my actions were my words are.  I had coffee with him.  Now before any of you jump to conclusions (because that is the kind of world we live in) Robert knows all about it and knew about it before it happened and is well aware of the conversations we had.  But, here is what happened. 

When you know someone for twenty years it give you some privileges to do and say certain things that in normal situations you wouldn’t.  It also gives you a boldness you might not otherwise have when calling someone out.  But, there is a fine line between holding someone accountable and helping someone who is hurting.  So, I started at the beginning…where he was.  What did he need from a friend that would help and not hurt him?  First, he needed an ear, which I was more than happy to give.  He was honest about his mistakes and how the mistakes of others have affected him and his family.  I let him vent, without putting in my two cents (which if you know me at all was REALLY difficult).

The second thing he needed was to be held accountable.  Lucky for me I have been his accountability partner for a couple of things, and believe that all our brothers and sisters in Christ should hold each other accountable.  So, I boldly went forward.  I told him he needed to be surrounded by Christian friends, and that meant, he had to go where he knew they and God were, i.e church.  Now, that doesn’t mean he has to come to my church, but he needs to be where God is.  But more importantly, he needs to be listening to God.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time and place to express your frustration at God (like you would with any a friend…he does call us friend you know) and to express your anger at life.  But, if all you do is talk, you are not growing in your relationship.  Just like any other relationship, there must be a dialogue with God.  That means sometimes we have to shut our mouths and listen.  He, at least in my experience, doesn’t usually speak audible, but God will use people, music, books, games, etc. to communicate with us.  We just have to close our mouths and open our ears.  Sometimes, it takes a friend of twenty years who has gone through the ringer with you to remind you of this. 

Now, he did not go to church today, but he at least  is open to the idea of looking beyond himself and moving forward to a brighter future.  But the conversation was good healing for me too.  We both came to a place of good friendship again, forgiving the other of wrongs done.  Forgiving is so big.  It is amazing what it covers and what healing it brings.  If you have never forgiven someone who has really hurt you, honest to goodness deeply, I cannot begin to express how powerful a thing it is in for you personally and for the relationship.  I highly recommend it. 

So, divinely placed coffee date…yep.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Strange things happen in these here woods

Busy as ever, I have had quite an extraordinarily good couple days.  I have seen old friends, visited new places and enjoyed some wonderful quality time with Robert (well as quality as you get over Skype and through mail).  But let’s start with Sunday.

I have come to the realization that I am so blessed by friends.  How God is able to restore relationships is beyond me, but I am glad He does.  My high school sweet heart married a wonderful woman almost a decade ago.  We all went through a really rough patch and did not speak for years.  About three years ago, God did something miraculous, He reconnected us.  I am now friends with both of them, but I am much more blessed by his beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful wife.  V- you are an inspiration and a blessing.  Nothing will ever change that. 

That is a long introduction to the following experience.  I texted V- the other night to see if she wanted to get together for coffee.  I miss her and now that she is in the same state and same general vicinity I would like to do this more.  She and I ended up talking about Robert (as girls do).  She asked how I felt about our relationship and where things were going and I expressed my trepidation of some of the things happening but that I was mostly overjoyed and excited to be with him.  That’s when she said, that is the best way to know if you can be serious with someone, along with some other really great advice.  And as wonderful as that conversation was (and it was really wonderful), what brought joy unspeakable to my heart was that she asked to host a Bon Voyage party for me (I am moving across country in November).  What a beautiful expression of love and friendship!!  How blessed I am by a God who saves me and reunites and rebuilds relationships!!!  I can’t wait to move, but I will miss having her close by (but the phone calls and texts will continue V-). 

Robert sent me this wonderful package in the mail.  Complete with an Air Force sweater I have been trying to hunt down, a couple really beautiful sun hats, and a beautiful box.  He is such a blessing to me.  I have never been this spoiled or happy with a guy, and I am so glad it is with a man of integrity, brains, and a sense of humor.  I have laughed more with him than anyone I know.  These are examples of his great taste.

That night, I finally fell asleep around midnight.  My phone is set to Do Not Disturb so that I am not kept awake or awoken by unnecessary calls.  If you call me twice in a row within 3 minutes, my phone will ring it through as an emergency…this did not happen.  At 12:30 a.m. I was awoken by a pounding on my door.  The only reason I answered it was because the person yelling new my name, and I assumed if you know my name, and where I am staying on this grand property it is probably because you know me. 

It being the middle of the night, I through on a covering to find my brother-in-law and a policeman at my door.  Apparently, the alarm of the house went off and no one new why.  If you don’t already know, I was embarrassed to be seen in my sleepwear – even with a covering – and so was my brother-in-law.  Sorry.  So, I spent the next hour having the cops comb through the property to make sure nothing was out of place and no one was there who should not have been.  You want to know what set the stupid alarm off?  A wasp!!!  A wasp set off the motion sensors.  Who knew?  But, all was set right and I finally fell asleep about 2:30 in the morning to be up in just a few hours.  Funny and embarrassing, but good to know my family was willing to risk life to make sure I was ok.  That is a blessing few can say they have, and I thank God for it daily. 

Monday, I took my sister and her kids to Tony’s fruit stand off of highway 70.  There, my good friend Y- runs the fruit stand and everything there is addicting.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone from the ONE Worship Team in LA at In His Presence Church, I am pretty sure they will testify to the goodness of what they ate at Easter.  Also, check out their music on itunes.  At this fruit stand there are some really neat signs, but the coolest part was the port-o-potty.  I kid you not, it was the nicest smelling and looking one I have EVER seen in my life!!!!  Check out the fruit, but don’t forget to check out this great place to relieve yourself. 


The lot of us then headed to Bidwell Park in Chico (I had never been!)  CSU, Chico is located on this park, so you can imagine the immensity of it.  But, the neat thing I saw that they took the river and, following its course, made it into a sort of pool for a little bit.  The kids played in it, discovered dragon files, and all in all had a great day.  We even made some friends to have a play date with later.  What a beautiful day.

Yesterday, we took the kids to Ellis Lake in Marysville.  Ellis Lake is a man-made lake that was built during the Great Depression in order to provide jobs. It has since become known for being filthy (they have pulled entire cars out of it) and for having quite a few ducks.  We thought it would be fun to take my niece and nephew to feed said ducks.  When we got there, the ducks were overrun with geese – honkers (my high school mascot).  I don’t know if you know this, but honkers are mean!!!  And they pack a pretty nasty bite!!!  

Well, we get the kids out to feed the ducks and it is not two minutes before a honker bites my niece because she can’t feed it fast enough.  The irony is that at that very moment a couple locals were coming by to warn us not to feed them because they are so mean.  We ended up putting the kids onto of the car to through the bread. In the process we discover a honker with a broken wing and a man asking for a cigarette from us (the people with two kids who in all likelihood don’t smoke, much less if we did let you near us to give you one because we had kids) who quite literally was wearing a snake…the head of which was free to roam!!!


In the paper we discovered a community leader found himself in a scandal and the next day a school teacher was arrested for meth.  Small towns apparently are the new places for drama…someone tell Warner Brothers or Fox…there is a reality TV show here waiting to happen.  Sad that small towns now have big town problems.  But it is also a reminder of where our morals as a community and country are and what it means to stand by them.  It is a slow fade to make decisions such as these.  A slow fade.  When we do not surround ourselves with good people and arm ourselves with the truth we are only opening ourselves up to the slow fade. 

But, small town problems aside, I would say this has been a very special and blessed week.  More to come.