Friday, September 12, 2008


It's here, Mom. I know we said we weren't going to talk about it, but it's time.

Cassie is 18!!

As it got closer and closer people all around me have remarked that they can't believe it...she can't be. Then they'll ask Can you believe it? Well, yeah. It has been 18 years after all. But I understand what they're saying...time flies, doesn't it? Though who I was 18 years ago...fresh from graduating from college just two short weeks before her delivery...having been married 1 year and 1 month...having no idea what I was doing with my life much less guiding a baby girl's life...but that seems like ages and ages ago. In large part who I am today is because of God using Cassie's presence in my life. Kids make you grow up fast, don't they?

So here are some of the things about Cassie that touch me as I look back on who God gifted to our family...
  • Cassie has two volumes of speaking...loud and excited loud. I used to think maybe her ears were constantly clogged because she usually speaks as if she's got headphones on.
  • She also is in constant motion...even when in a casual setting. Whether fiddling with her rings, messing with the charm on a necklace, tucking her hair back or using dramatic gestures for the littlest things, Cassie exudes energy. You might think she was nervous, but it won't take you long to realize that that's not it. When she's nervous, she's irritated because she can't stand that she's nervous!
  • What this translates to for the rest of the family is a sense of expectation when you know Cassie's around. There's always the possibility of something use Cassie words: something that's amazing, hilarious or so much fun.
  • When the girls and I would be waiting to pick her up from school, we'd see her get close and start to grin. It would have been so quiet in the car...quiet talking, someone reading...happy, content, relaxed. But then one of us would spy Cass and it's like a force you knew was coming. We sort of geared up for the entrance of life.
  • Until, that is, you catch her in the early part of the morning. She's definitely a night person which made the switch to public school a more difficult one. Homeschooling, we could allow her to sleep until whenever. Then came 6:30am volleyball practices. Cassie's alarm would go off. I'd hear her stumble around and out she'd come. She'd head straight for me and demand that I hold my lap!...while she stretched out on top of me. Worked great until she was taller than me. But still she'd do it every morning. I learned to move my Bible reading from the chair to the couch. It's hard to catch her willing just to be still any other time which is why I never minded...until I couldn't stand the lack of oxygen from the weight of her.
  • She loves people. I don't just mean being around a crowd. I mean she loves people. Loves talking to them, being around them, learning about them, watching them...she'll do it everywhere. I'm usually on a mission when I'm out. A hunter, not a gatherer when I shop. Cassie's neither. Shopping is what you do so you can be with people.
  • Cassie believes in the age old principle that it's better to give than to receive...but she applies it to words. We're learning though, right Cassie?! And part of why she's growing in listening is because she's becoming more and more aware that God has built into her years of learning about who He is and the hope that there is to be found in Him. I've been so privileged to watch her grow to awareness that she has gifts, talents, wisdom to share with others and to grow at the same time in awareness that you must know the need in others to know how best to serve them in the gospel. Girls look to her for help, advice and fellowship. She's taking that seriously...and I'm so grateful to see it.
  • There's also a growth in her that touches my heart and that is her continuing to see her sisters as part of those girls who desire her company. How easy it is to serve outside your home. How hard it is to begin first with those God has given us in our every day lives. As Aisley and Brennan have gotten older, she's pulled them more into her world. Watching her drive off with Aisley to drop her off at school makes me smile because I know how much it means to Aisley...especially this last year before college.
  • She's efficient, loves to serve, gets the job done...
  • She's a procrastinator, hates opened ended projects, is impatient with delays...
  • She's loving, affectionate, generous...
  • She hides well the deepest part of herself, is often more burdened than anyone knows...
  • She's soft hearted and empathetic...weeps with anyone who's weeping!
  • She's self-contained...doesn't want others to see her weep...
So, she's complicated? She's a woman! Now, it's allowed, right? Even expected. But like the best woman, all this is just what makes her amazing, hilarious and so much fun. It is a joy to know her, but it's a privilege that I could never deserve to be her mom.

I feel so grateful today, Cassie...I know my Savior better because He gave me you.
I love you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Proof that God's people live by grace alone and not by works

In honor of Cassie on her birthday...I thought you'd like to know that we can still praise God and play our rock and roll. And that Jesus is like a Mountie. And that He zaps us anyway He can. ZAP! (Come on, Cassie! Sing with me!) J-J-J-Jesus!

HT: Reformation 21

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another good gift from our Father

Part 2 - How we began to crawl out only to dig a deeper pit...

So, you've heard my whining story of our first house purchase. At the time, it seemed like a gift from God. And so it was, but not in the way we usually think of gifts. If Cassie's car works great, runs for 10 more years and gets great gas mileage with few repairs, it'll be a great gift. If it breaks down repeatedly in the next year, costing us thousands more, I doubt we'd look back on its coming to us as a blessing. We're more likely to think that it was a trial sent to test our patience and endurance! Gifts are blessings depending on how they serve us, right? Well, that's the end of the story, but here's the middle...

We were only in this small town about three years when God opened up a job in Temple just about 45 minutes away. That's the same town where we attended church, small groups and Bible studies. Needless to say, we longed to be there and not spend hours on the road...though TBC was definitely worth the drive for us. Thanks to some amazing people there who built into our lives and to the amazing power of God's grace to such sinners, we were so different than when we arrived. We went from trying to find our Bibles each Sunday to reading them, studying them, even teaching from them. We went from being so far in debt that we couldn't make it month to month, much less try to give what we owed our Father through our having only a student loan and house payment and finally learning what it meant in Malachi 3:7-10 to return the whole tithe into His storehouse. We moved from being consumers of church to servers, givers. We saw our oldest put her faith in Christ alone for her salvation. It was a good few years. What had started as my worst nightmare became a place of great blessing.

But a few things hadn't how stupid Wayne and I could be when it came to grabbing after what we want whatever the cost. But God had plans for that as well. (And this time we're praying it sticks!) So, the job comes open in Temple. Wayne applies, gets an interview and learns that the head coach and his family are planning to attend TBC. Instant connection. The job also couldn't have been more perfect...9th grade football (much fewer hours than a varsity job) and head track coach which is Wayne's first love. (He was an all-American hammer thrower in college...yes, I'm bragging...) We tell a few friends about it...all pray together about the job, really feel like it's what we're supposed to do. And what do you know?? He gets it! Yipee!

First things first...put the house in Marlin on the market. Start packing boxes for the day it sells...surely that won't take long. There's still nothing else to buy or even to rent. Someone will need a nice, brick, three bedroom home. We price it low for a quick sell. Won't even make money off of it. Make plans for the next house by looking online, driving around Temple on Sunday afternoons, considering friends' neighborhoods. A month goes by...then another...then's summer. Wayne starts football in just a few weeks. I'm out of town when Wayne says that he thinks he's found one we should make an offer on. Well within our price range. We actually have a down payment this time and won't even need it as the seller is very anxious to get out from under it. It's lower by far from what we qualified for. What a difference a few years make. So we put a contingency on it and waited...and waited. Nothing. Not one looker for our present home. Now what?

Well, having learned such a good lesson from the years past and having seen so much freedom from being in debt, we of course decided to buy it anyway. That's right. Two mortgages. After all, how long could it be before we finally get an offer? We can make the two payments for a few months. We move in late July, a few days before coaching school. Friends help us move. Wayne starts football...learns the job is actually a varsity position job as well as head freshman so the hours go up. But that's okay! We're in Temple. Friends everywhere. Good paycheck. And that house will sell, right? Right?

Sure did. 5 YEARS later...and telling about that journey will take another post...

I kept thinking it was a parody...

Too bad I was wrong. Don't stop watching...the dance moves truly begin about 2 minutes in...

UPDATE: The video was pulled from youtube. But Cassie found this clip with hilarious commentary at the end by "God". You'll catch enough of the video to get the gist...along with a huge laugh! (Well, at least we did...) The part you're looking for is about 25 seconds into the video...

HT: Between Two Worlds

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another good gift from our Father

Part 1 - How we got into that mess in the first place...

I wrote in a previous post about our praise for Cassie's new car. It was meant with all my heart, but can seem a little bit obvious. You got a car, paid for mostly by others, and you're praising God? Well, guess what? He gives me a car and I'll praise Him, too. Yeah. Not a stretch, I know. So I thought it might be helpful to some of you for me to tell you about another kind of gift the Lord gave us also from a purchase...this time it was a house. It'll take a bit of telling, so settle back.

It all started with being fired right after we found out that we were going to have our third child. From the highest of highs to WHAT? I probably just sat stunned for days. It was out of the blue to us. Plus I was so overwhelmed by that point at the thought of another baby when Aisley wasn't even crawling yet that I couldn't see how to make the bed much less move a family. Add to that, these were some of our first true friends that stick with you a lifetime. We would be leaving Cassie's first best friend. Our first real church home. I couldn't managed to process, I checked out on the search for our new job. Wayne could handle it...I hoped. After 8 months of nothing...not one interview...I was pretty panicked. But sure enough, literally while in labor in the hospital, Wayne gets a call to go on an interview in central Texas. Manna from heaven.

He returns to tell me about this great little town. Quaint houses. Quiet streets. People walking through town. Seems like just the thing. Only problem? Not a single place to live. Truly...not even to rent. But just when I'm beginning to think that Wayne's going to leave us and go work 3 hours south, we hear of a place. We'll take it! I screamed. Whatever it is. Who cares? So with three days before we needed to arrive for him to start and five weeks after Brennan's birth, we're off. Only to arrive with me asking him a ton of questions, like what part of town he'd seen during the interview because I wasn't seeing what he was. Come to find out it was at the time the poorest town in one of the poorest counties in Texas. Quaint houses? Oh, you mean houses which haven't been updated in 60 years. Quiet streets? Well, yeah, because no one lives here! People walking the streets? Of course they are! This town had the highest unemployment rate in the state one year. And this is a BIG state. People weren't just walking the streets...they were living there!

Okay, enough of that. Onto better complaints...We moved into a rent house that had more problems than I'd ever seen. Dirty. No clean water. Holes in the floor. Rats and cockroaches everywhere. No air conditioning in the August, Texas heat. Add to that Cassie went from one of the best school districts in the state to one of the lowest performing. (The teacher told me a few days in that she was having Cassie tutor the kids in the hallway one-on-one. She was 6!!) Wayne's gone from 6am to 11pm. I'm at home with a 6 yr old, a 20 month old and a 6 week old. We knew no one. Not one soul showed up to help or to welcome us. I was miserable, depressed, angry, bitter...if it was negative, I was feeling it.

I'll warn you...I'm trying to sucker you into my mindset. Get you to see it from my world, cause then maybe what I tell you next won't seem as unlikely, or as stupid, as it really is. Because it was then that I told Wayne that we had to get out of that house. Now. NOW. Ever felt that way? You can't take one more day of whatever it is. I remember I was crying, shaking even when I said it. So Wayne made some calls and sure enough, through the grapevine, we heard of a house that was being rented right now. Maybe they'd be willing to sell it. The answer was YES! with a few conditions. They were non-negotiable on the price. Whatever, I said. I was in no position to bargain.

Thus began the following stupidity...we couldn't get a loan for their asking price due to all the debt we carried. Considering we had 13 small loans and credit cards, a car loan and school loans at this time, that wasn't surprising. We also had no down payment. But what I did have was a finance degree from a university which taught me all sorts of creative ways to finance your life. (Ask me sometime how I managed to get to England using a Dillards card. Yes. I'm serious.) So, we arranged with the owners to take out another small loan from them to get to their asking price...arranged with the mortgage company to extend us the sum they would...and charged the down payment on the house to a credit card. Yep. You heard me right. We charged a house. (And no, you're not supposed to be able to do it. And no, I won't teach you how.)

So, over the course of the next few weeks we slowly night at a time, hauling stuff over in the back of the car or a coach's truck after Wayne would come home from football. But I was happy. The girls had a home we could live in. They could actually get down onto the floor without concern they'd fall through it! I settled in and settled down. We got Cassie rolling in her second school (first one burned down a few weeks after we arrived...again, another story...) and even made friends with the people we bought the house from. Things were looking up. We found TBC, got started with a small group of wonderful families, started working on the debt problem and the bigger problem in our hearts towards money.

The Lord so convicted us at this time in so many different ways. We knew that we had been stupid in getting this house. But as He often does, He blessed us despite ourselves and brought us to a good place in our home, in our marriage, with our children and with our money. We prospered there. So, now you're thinking...Wait. They even sin and He blesses them. What's up with that? Well, it's right about here that the story takes the turn. But since you've been reading for a while, I'll finish that thought tomorrow.