Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fighting for Peace

School is about to start. The first day of school can be the biggest stressor for a young person. One of my sons deals with this stress by behaving in outlandish ways. I get it, but I am sure my neighbors don't understand his need to urinate in the backyard (God bless his little self). Now I am not a boy, hence I would probably deal with that kind of stress with chocolate or being a little cranky to those around me. I guess when you have an "outty" it becomes your primary means for expressing yourself.

I can only guess at what kind of stress my little doggie has. Evidently, the overactive squirrels preparing for hibernation are too much for her. She has taken to collecting rocks in a pile underneath my bed. Cute, right? Well, I recently noticed that the decorative rocks displayed in a glass bowl on my dining room table have become additions to her pile. So tell me, how does my hoarding pooch get those rocks? She is up on our dining room table when we are not home! Gag.

God has called us to live in peace. Throughout the Bible we read of God's promise to bring us peace. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. Why, then, am I fighting daily to keep myself in peace? Because I am human and, if I am honest, a bit of a control freak. Thankfully, my loving Father God is patient.

Sometimes I think I have things under control. I am a rather capable woman. I can usually walk with more than my share of balls in the air. It is this gift that gets me in trouble. I get over-confident and starting thinking it is ME that is so great. BUT, it is not about me. My life must glorify God, not my ability to handle stress.

Ugh, so as a warrior chick (thank you Holly Wagner) I am drawing my sword. Enemy beware! I will fight for peace because God promises it. I am more than a conqueror in the arms of my Father, I can speak to my circumstances and declare victory because I serve an Almighty God. I know that my needs (all of them) are met because the Bible says so.

Hoo-Rah (or however that goes).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mini's on Football

Last Saturday our Mini Belles squad (ages 8 and under) manned the sidelines for a King County Jaguars football game. AND THEY KILLED IT! I am so proud of them.

It happened to be one of the hottest days of the summer, but we were perky and cute in our uniforms anyway. We have a repertoire of 5 cheers and we cheered for half of the second quarter followed by a halftime performance. I must say, I could never have done that at 4 years old. Not only did we perform the cheers, but we offered a mean rally and even managed to get the crowd to participate with us. It was tons of fun.

Go MINIs!!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Cheerleading Camp

What was I thinking? This is usually what goes through my head during day 1-3 of cheerleading camp. Repeatedly, during sleep or wake, "What was I thinking?" "We could be at home right now sleeping in real beds without bugs, in showers that do not require flip flops, with food that permits digestion and normal excrement from the body." [Father help me not to accidentally hurl myself from this 3rd floor bedroom window.] Thankfully, because God is very wise, the windows are not operable. Thank you Joy for the brownies, they got us through Night 1 and 2.

Day 1. I arrive nice and early. All of our veteran parents know that I like to arrive first, get a lay of the land, pray and prepare myself to greet girls and intelligently answer questions. God bless them for understanding my craziness. I check in and realize that they have placed our girls all together in one hallway on floor 3 and both of the coaches together on floor 2!!! Hello, we are the youngest girls at camp. Do you want me to have to sleep on the floor in the bathroom to be near them at night? A few walkie talkies and a promise to be on the couch in the common area until midnight does the trick. It is hot, some vomit, tears and a mediocre display of cheerleader spirit. Not perfect, but we survive.

Day 2. The girls gather in their cute pink t-shirts looking perky and hungry for breakfast. The captains accidentally woke the girls 45 minutes earlier than we planned - YIKES! Eight year olds need sleep, as much as possible. This day leads to a near breakdown from our fearless leader - ME! At lunchtime there is an issue with one of our girls. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and I cannot get my heart and head around it. The lunchroom is ridiculously overcrowded, stifling hot and the only food lines within reason are for spicy food. I am sitting too close to too many bodies and I start to feel myself want to scream very loud. What is wrong with me? I reluctantly excuse myself to take a quick shower upstairs alone. I cry in the stall. [Father help me. I don't feel capable of this task I was so excited for. I'm not doing it well. I need You to shine through me.] We finish the night with evaluations [Father thank you for the NCA staff that were assigned to us. We could not have done this without them.] Five of our girls were nominated for All American. What? We are so much younger than the rest of the squads - what an honor! The girls start to show some more cheerleader spirit - you go girls!

Day 3. We wake the girls a little late. A quick scramble to get ready for Fun Day at camp. We are wearing a camo theme. The black face make-up I purchased doesn't dry so we cannot wear the black lines under our eyes - DANG! Our stunting is really coming along! The goal was to get at least 2 single legged stunts, we got 3! The youth squad also has 2 stunts groups that can load to a prep, reload and bring it back up safely. Woo Hoo! We got some extra down time today to hang out, watch a movie and relax this afternoon. [thank you Jesus!] Three of the five girls nominated for All American tryout in front of a large group of cheerleaders. Wow, I cannot be more proud of them. It is harder than it looks. [Father, help me to stop sobbing like an idiot.] We performed our We Run This dance during the evening camp talent show and the crowd went WILD! That was so great for our esteem.

Day 4. We get to go home. Our parents are coming! We need hugs and our mommies - where is mine anyway? We get through final evaluations. The girls do great. We compete for junior top team chant and are competitive. Considering that we are younger than any other team by several years, we kicked butt! We didn't win, but we played to the crowd and that was goal #2 for the camp. We take home a spirit stick, four excellent ribbons and two superior. We SURVIVED!

The things I learned at camp this year:
  1. Exactly 24 cheerleaders and 2 coaches with backpacks can fit into the elevators in Haggett Hall.
  2. Young girls will not claim any undergarments left in bathrooms regardless of the discretion used to compel them to do so - even if their names are written on them.
  3. It takes about eight 24oz bottles of Diet Pepsi over ice to keep 2 coaches alive during 2 full days and 2 half days of camp.
  4. Little girls can go to the bathroom 10 times each in a four hour period.
  5. Never underestimate the sweet smile and innocent eyes of two ten year olds in the bathroom at 12:30am.
  6. Red licorice can heal homesickness in a pinch.
  7. I am so lucky to have such great kids in our program.
OK, OK, it wasn't that bad. The physical and emotional exhaustion cannot compare to the examples of spirit and determination I saw in those few days. Some brought me to tears (not pretty ones trickling down my face, but the loud, snotty kind). I am so lucky to have this opportunity, however exhausting. I love these girls and I believe I will reap the rewards as I get to watch them grow up and accomplish AMAZING things in years to come.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Last night at about 10:00pm I was exiting Walmart. Now, I know better than to shop at this particular Walmart at this particular hour, but somehow that knowledge slipped my mind. As I exited the store I watched a little boy no older than 8 walk up to a man in front of me and ask for a dollar. The man refused without looking at the boy and kept walking. The little boy was clean and well-kept, not your typical pan-handler.

I watched him walk back behind a column to his mother and older brother. I proceeded about 10 more feet and then turned around. I approached the mother and asked her what she needed a dollar for. Her answer did not satisfy my need to know that my cash wouldn't support a drug habit. The story involved a need for $30 to help their family return to their home in West Virginia. How could $30 get them that far? It certainly did not add up. Further questioning increased my suspicions.

I could not fathom utilizing my children in this manner, regardless of my circumstances. I wanted to be angry with the mother. I wanted to shake her and demand that she shield her children from this matter. Protect them! Then, I decided, at that moment, that I wanted the boys to remember not the shame of asking strangers for money, but that there are good people in the world.

I gathered all of the cash I had in my wallet, which wasn't much, and offered it to the little brother. His face lit up and he jumped up slightly! That made the situation worse from where I stood. I smiled brightly to the boys, looked each one in the face hoping to impart their value in taking the time to acknowledge them. The mother didn't thank me.

I walked to my car wondering if I should have done more. Could I have filled their gas tank? Did they have a car? Should I have re-entered the store and bought some food? Should I have questioned the mother further? I probably didn't do enough. However, for a moment I know those little boys felt like valuable little people. I prayed for that family as I drove home. "Father protect those boys, bring others to them to help raise them up in the way they should go. Help them to realize their potential and value to this world. Father, bless me abundantly so that in the future I can make a bigger difference in this situation."

Friday, August 01, 2008

Accidental Hobo

It was a comical turn of events. My sons regularly travel to Portland on a train to visit family. Somehow I have never known that a train station exists closer to my home than Seattle. I was excited to try out this new station and save the drive to downtown. Very early this morning we headed to the train station for their departure. I had packed each of my kids a snack sack with individual favorites for each child. Each also had a selection of activities to keep him busy for 3 hour plus ride.

We greeted the car attendant at the station and she allowed me to board the train briefly to get the boys settled into their seats. She was not exaggerating when she said brief! I had just helped the boys stow their luggage when I felt the train lurch forward. I rushed to the car entrance to see instant panic flash across the attendant's face as she realized that I was still on board - really it was less than 3 minutes! She grabbed my arm as I attempted to jump from the moving train - barely moving!

Minor chaos ensued, which involved my kids rushing to find me and being forced to remain seated, me sequestered in a nearby car and trying to remain civil as the conductor was summoned to speak with me and the car attendant trying to find a solution that didn't involve her receiving blame. I was then informed that I was stuck on the train until the next stop - TACOMA! "But," she smiled "we won't charge you for that leg." You bet your sweet smile you won't. [help me Father not to react poorly] I am a Hobo - illegally on a train.

The conductor chastised me, yes chastised ME, that unaccompanied minors were not allowed to board at the last station. Like I was trying to be sneaky or something - I just didn't want to drive into Seattle. Who knew this train station rule? Was it posted? Did the website address it? Maybe, somewhere, but why was I allowed to purchase the tickets?

So, I have the new found pleasure of taking an early morning trip to Tacoma. Woo Hoo! Did I mention that I was in my jammies? I doubt I locked my car which is now miles behind us at the station. [another quick prayer] I return to my children who are faking calm. I call and wake my husband and plead with him to come and get me in Tacoma at the train station. I try to keep my mind fixed on the things above - "Help me Jesus not to hit, yell or cuss." So my saintly, sleepy, unshaven and un-coffee'd husband sets off to rescue me - mind you this was rush hour by now.

The car attendant, bless this poor woman, calls ahead to the next station to fix the unaccompanied minor issue and asks the next station attendant to prepare the necessary paperwork for me to sign upon my arrival. At this same time, a supervisor somewhere gets wind of this whole incident and decides that me and my kids - such villains - should depart the train in Tacoma and find "alternate transportation" to Portland. WHAT!? We prepare to depart. One of my boys is now crying [help me Father].

The train stops, we exit the train, the car attendant (remember her - the reason why I am stuck on the train in the first place?) calls her boss on her personal cell phone and gets the whole debacle cleared up in a manner of minutes - villains to VIP's! [Thank you Father!]

Morning rush hour, waiting in a train station with the other Hobo's (translate: a handful of business-types, a transvestite, a man with a very large cart and a loud belching issue, and a young woman with an apple in each hand) - what an adventure! I will make the 40 minute drive downtown in the future and hope my credentials are not posted on some train station website as a possible Hobo.