Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where in the World Is Beth San Diego?

I always loved Carmen San Diego. She hid out in exotic places around the world and us gumshoes had to go sleuthing until we could find her....and we found a world of exciting geography at the same time! (Yeah, groan all you want, but really is the reason I know were countries like French Guiana are.) I love PBS television and I love Rockapella and there's nothing you can do to change my mind! Nothing, I say!

To bring yet another outdated reference into this post, I have decided that this post will be like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Sometimes you don't have time to read my personal ramblings and something short will have to do. Choice one is for you, my friends. Sometimes you are procrastinating writing a thank you letter to dear Great Aunt Helga who sent lovely knitted capes to your children in various pastel hues...and you will hang on every word just so that you can stay on the computer a little...bit...longer. Heck, you'll probably read BOTH endings.


Turn to Page...uh....well that doesn't really work on the computer. Crap. The short ending: Watch the video and relive the AWESOME that is Rockapella. Be careful...the blond guy might make your dog howl during those high notes! If you missed out on the whole Carmen Sandiego/Rockapella experience, now you too can have a taste of the early nineties. Back then it was all about the acapella bands, baby. Acapella Vocal Band or Take Six, anyone???


The long ending:

So where in the world have I been this week? I only wrote one post and I actually wrote that at the end of LAST week!
Well, I stayed within the borders of Indiana...but here's some of the highlights.

Monday: The usual. Hang around the house with the kids. Do some blogging and watch the kids play Wii. Try to be moderately productive and do a load of laundry and the dishes. Play some Chutes and Ladders. Make sure the kids and I are dressed by the time Frank comes home from work and dinner is started. We did our taxes after dinner. Woot. At least we get a refund. Although we need to double check the rental house end of things. That's new to us, and you would think two people with college educations could figure out such things, especially since we have "people" with H & R Block and all...but it seems as though their "people" don't appear as a holograph in your living room and explain tax jargon at a 5 year old level, which is really what we need....

Tuesday: Day of Birthday Fun! Since we had a lot going on Wednesday, Frank took Tuesday off work. We had a pretty relaxing morning and went to IHOP for lunch. On national pancake day no less! And we ran into a guy who goes to the local International House of Prayer (the other IHOP!). I think God had a good laugh about that. I certainly did. The irony was sweet. And so were the pancakes. After that we road tripped to Columbus, IN and dropped off the kids at Frank's parents. They entertained the kiddos for the night which was pretty last minute...I appreciate them so much! Frank and I went to Indianapolis. The plan was to visit the big electronics store there and check out the new IMAX theater. We ended up going to the store first. It was pretty cool, even for an electronically challenged person such as myself. We went to the theater and found that even though they show IMAX movies, they don't do it very often and next one wasn't worth the money or the wait. So we browsed the new shopping center near the theater and ended up having a nice dinner. I know! That's MY idea of a night out, not Frank's! I was feeling kind of wild and had some kind of Vietnamese salad with shrimp and mango and cucumber and what looked like little clovers...but it was good. We even got free dessert because they had a promo that when the stock market is up, every table gets free dessert. So of course Frank breaks out the computer/phone/furby and looks up the info...stocks are up! Dessert for us! We got back home pretty darn late for a weekday and drove quite a bit, but we had a lot of fun. If nothing else, it was nice to have conversations not interrupted by "Mommy. Mommy. Moooooommy. MOMMY! I want juice."

Wednesday: Got up early for pre-school. Drug sleepy children out of bed. Everything went pretty smoothly despite the lack of sleep for us all. I did a little easier lesson than usual about numbers just to make sure I made it through the morning. We did a little worksheet on our favorite number and then I helped them write it out in Spanish and say it. Most of the kids picked their age...3, 4, 5. Then I got to the last class and they picked numbers like 4,800 and 10,000 and 1000780278. I just wrote "muchos" on the paper of that last kid....
After preschool we have lunch at "Miss Amy's" as the kids call her. I hate calling her "my pastor's wife" because she's so much more than that. She's my friend, my pastor, my spiritual mentor and more! But she is also married to my pastor. As always, our kids were a little wild and my kids throw a fit every time they have to leave, but we had a good time, good talks, and her food is always delish. We came home and vegged for a bit in front of cartoons. Then it was off to church in the evening. When we got home, we put the kids in bed and laid down for a few minutes, and fell fast asleep at 9:30. Oh well. So much for an exciting birthday for Frank! Welcome to your thirties.

Thursday: Baby Jay had his 6 month check up at the doctor. Even though he's 7 months old. Yeah, I'm slow like that. He checked out fine. He's made it back on to the big side of the "normal" range for height and weight now. For awhile he was off the charts big! He got three shots, which he wasn't too happy about, but he got over it quickly and took a nice nap. It's funny. I cried and cried when Annabelle got her shots as a baby, and now I almost have to keep myself from laughing because Jay just gets SOOOO mad and it's cute. Anna and Joey got stickers from the nurse, so they were happy. I'm surprised she was that nice...Annabelle got a little TOO curious at one point when the nurse and I were distracted and almost took one of the syringes off the table. We celebrated a good doctor visit by going to Little Caeser's at Kmart for the$5 large pizza special and indoor playplace. Spring come quickly! Almost 5 year olds and 3 year olds need some outside time! And so does their mom! After play and pizza we picked up a couple things at Kmart before Jay started to wake up from his nap and realize that his poor legs were sore from the shots. It was spaghetti for dinner and playing Frank's new Wii game before bedtime.

Friday: Time to clean! The house was a mess from the hallway project plus being in and out all week, so I cleaned as much as I could. Plus I am going to start being the back-up babysitter for one of my friends when her regular sitter cannot watch her little boy. She was coming over for a few minutes after work to talk details, so I wanted to make sure she felt like her son would be with a competent and put together person who could keep the house clean. Yeah, she probably could see right through that...but it WAS nice to have a clean house for about 3 minutes. For dinner I made pork chops and fried potatoes. It was a kind of vindication because my last couple attempts at them have been pretty horrible. It seemed like I did the same exact thing as the other times, so why do they turn out so different? Annabelle and I also had a very nice conversation about the fruits of the spirit. Yeah, I know. She's FOUR. But she memorized them for kid's church, but I hate to have her do that without knowing at all what it means. So I found my self giving examples of "self-control" and "faithfulness" at a four year old level. Not easy, but I think she got most of it.

Saturday: Both Annabelle and Joey climbed in bed with us and at about 4 am I got sick of the clingy-ness and went and slept in Annabelle's bed. I then proceded to have a dream about a girl I knew in college being in prison. I guess I was going to visit her and there was this scary school marm of a lady who kept yelling that I wasn't supposed to be there and got mad and started beating this girl up and for some reason my parents were there and I was afraid they were going to get yelled at, too...
Ahhh well. It's better than the dream where Frank turned into a zombie.

Anyway, I was glad to get up and get the kids some breakfast. After that I braved Wal-Mart on a Saturday because we were completely out of food. I saw one of the kids from the youth center, so it was good to see how she was doing. After getting home and putting everything away, we had a little time to rest before getting everything ready for church. I took a little nap and watched Notre Dame lose a basketball game (darn U Conn). Then we started the Great Church Prep. No matter what time we start to get ready for church we seem to always be late. Not late to church...we, as the music peeps, tend to get there way early to warm up and do a little practicing before the service, but it always seems to be later than we want it to be and we get rushed. Which always makes me grumpy. It's so nice to try to lead worship after yelling at your children...especially after you explained self-control to them the day before. But today I was determined to not let the little stuff make me angry and I would just give it to God. Breath. Pray. Ask God for help. It worked pretty well. We even did a little devotion in the car on the way there to get us ready for worship. Hoorah!

We had a little bit more responsibility than usual since our pastors were gone for the night, but it went really well and it's nice to see the unity of the group even when the pastors are not there. God was definitely in it...things just flowed today. Props to Frank, Larry, and Holli for doing the extra stuff to make the service a go...I didn't do a whole lot of extra stuff except for find the communion stuff and buy grape juice and bread. Strange that I've pretty much been a Christian my whole life, but this was the first time that I had any part of arranging for communion.

So there you have it. A slightly busier than usual week in the life of me. Are you wishing you would have chosen the short ending now? Yeah, I always felt that way about Choose Your Own Adventure, too. Now Encyclopedia Brown, that's a whole different story....

Friday, February 20, 2009

You Da Man

One day, I got an email from my beloved. The subject- Why did you marry me? The content- this picture.

He's really a very attractive man (Code phrase for HOTT, as the kids say). He's very smart. He's very talented. He just has this uncanny ability to make himself he's a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

And somewhere along the way he turned from this fun loving, free wheeling, "guy in a band" in college....

To this guy...who has been married for more than 7 years, has three kids, is juggling church leadership, grad school, a career...not to mention a blogging wife who has a need to share personal things with the whole wide cyber world.

But obviously he has never stopped making me laugh, especially during the times when I need it the most. His thirtieth birthday is on Wednesday. Unlike some people, he's looking forward to it. He says people finally start to respect you at 30. I don't think posting these pictures is going to help anyone else respect him more (tee hee), but I respect and love him more than I could ever express. God knew what He was doing when he put us together.

These are for you, Frankie! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Helpful Than Most Internet Surveys

The other night I was kind of aimlessly wandering around in cyberspace...and I found a link on a church website to a spiritual gifts test online. Well, I haven't taken one that I can remember, so I did the best I could to answer the questions among the normal chaos of my house.

I know tests like these aren't the absolute authority of what you can and cannot do for the kingdom of God, and some of the answers may change on any given day, but I did find it to be quite helpful. If nothing else, it really confirmed that I am working in the areas that I am gifted in, and that is encouraging. It also let me think about my life in a little different light.

If you are interested in taking the test, you can find it here.
I don't know much about how it was put together, but it does have a nice little introduction and it's fairly easy and simple to take. It also defines the gifts and includes scripture references with each definition. As to what is considered a "spiritual gift" and what is not? I may have to research that more. Some of these seem like traits that ALL Christians should have, don't they? I welcome your ideas...

So what did I score highest in?
Well, I took it twice and the top gift both times was music, so that's kind of nice to see since that's my main role at my church.
I love to worship with music and help others do the same!

What was next?
Missionary and Poverty were in the top four both times. No secret that I've always had a big heart for those close and around the world who don't know God, so the missionary thing makes a lot of sense to me. I never even knew poverty was a specific gift, which was the biggest surprise and eye opener for me. Here's their definition for it:
"Poverty (voluntary) - The special ability God gives to some to purposely live an impoverished lifestyle to serve and aid others with their material resources."
Now I am definitely NOT in poverty as most of the world and even the U.S. would define it. We are well fed, our needs are met and we even have some luxuries (Internet, duh!). And some of our lack of cash flow isn't necessarily by choice(uh, maybe a lack of making the best choices!)...but some of it IS... If I learned anything from this, it is to view poverty as a gift from God instead of thinking of it as something that must be overcome. And that I like to give of my material resources.

Honorable mentions?
Teaching, Writing, and Giving are all in are Pastoring (the dreaded P word!) and Mercy...

What came in dead last?
Celibacy. Ha! Kind of felt like those questions didn't apply since I'm very happily married and really couldn't imagine life otherwise. Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues were down at the bottom, too. At least the tongues thing doesn't freak me out like it used to. I totally see Biblical support for it and see that others DO have these gifts, but I personally have not experienced either.

So, has anyone else taken a test like this? Did it teach you something? What did you learn? Should we lobby for Humor and Sarcasm to be added to the list of gifts?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If I Made a Video About Today...

I would want it to be like this!

God, I am RUNNING after your heart today with my crazy little family and my dog...

P.S. Sorry, still no Snuggie video yet.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sick Leave

I'm taking a sick day today. Can you do that from a blog? Good thing Frank doesn't have to work today. Nothing serious, just a bad cold and general yuckiness. Maybe it came from this incident at preschool last week. Keep in mind I probably said more than half of this in Spanish, but I don't have the patience to figure out how to do accent marks and upside-down exclamation points on a Mac today, and I'm not writing in Spanish incorrectly because that bugs me.

Beth: Stand up, please! Let's sing "Pulgarcito!" Everyone ready? One, two, three....
AHHHHH! (I see third kid down in the circle has more snot hanging out of his nose than I ever thought possible.)
Beth: Um, I think you need a tissue.
Kid: I don't know where they aaaaarrrrrrre! (super whiny.)
Beth: (Thinking...WHY didn't his mom keep him home today?) I'll get it. Here. (Wipes nose of kid. Gets a little bit on her finger because the volume of snot is more than the generic one-ply tissue can handle. Stomach turns a little and thinks...I hope I don't catch whatever it is he has.)
Beth: Okay, let's sing! (Makes a mental note to find anti-bacterial gel as soon as class is over, but alas, the damage has been done.)

At least it's better than the stomach flu I got last year. I won't describe that for you. You're welcome.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top Ten Reasons the Snuggie Video Isn't Done Yet

10. I'm trying to beat my record of correct questions in a row on TV Quiz Show on the Wii. I wish it would quit asking me sports questions. Or at least limit the sports questions to: IU basketball from the years 1990-2000, Colts football 2004-present, and the Olympics.

9. I've been being a nosy neighbor. Our neighbors got busted and taken away the other night (I'm pretty sure it was drug charges...) while we were filming the Snuggie video. Nothing like groovin' in your Snuggie and then looking out the window and seeing 5 cop cars. Don't worry Mom, there's a whole vacant lot between them and us. And now there are two less dogs to shoot with pellet guns. I joke because I'm not sure how to handle it. I alternate between praying for them and being mad that such evil stuff is so close to my children. And I constantly watch their house now.

8. I've been a social butterfly. Flit, flit. I have seen people outside my own family for six days in a row. That might be a record in Beth's New Life as a Recluse, I mean, Stay-At-Home Mom.

7. I love watching the local news. I mean really, not only am I informed, it's just chock full of funny stuff. Yesterday, the weather man had to honor the 6 year anniversary of the snow rollersin our area. We take the weather very seriously, folks.

Yeah, the Daily Show even made fun of Terre Haute for that promo, and then Terre Haute people got made because Jon Stewart couldn't pronounce "Terre Haute" right...I'd show that clip, but it may not be suitable for young viewers. ;)
And one of the top stories last night came from my county. If I was still working for Girl Scouts, you had better believe that wouldn't have happened on my watch.

6. Annabelle, Joey, and Baby Jay. Enough said.

5. I have company coming! My friend is coming to visit tomorrow with her baby, and my parents are coming this weekend for Baby Jay's dedication at church. Exciting stuff! Exciting enough to warrant drastic things like dusting and vacuuming!

4. The weather was warm for about 2.6 days. I mean over 60 degrees in February! In Indiana! So we went to the playground and took some walks and generally stayed outside as long as possible.

3. I now have 200 Facebook friends. It proves my diagnosis as a very extroverted introvert. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, props to my mom for coming up with that term, because it does describe both of us very well.

2. Me and God have been having some good times lately. God likes it that way and so do I.

1. Frank has more important stuff to do than edit video of his spastic wife dancing to hits of the 90's. I keep telling him things like work, homework, church, kids, me, the hallway renovation, etc., are silly and shouldn't take away from the AWESOME that is the Snuggie video, but he doesn't seem to understand that.

So I guess the waiting will have to continue. Until then...
More of Beth's International Dance Crazes! I don't speak Romanian, but I would totally dance on a wing of a plane any day with these guys.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Get Pumped

The Snuggie Video is in progress! At long last! Not quite ready for this post...but the next??

While you wait, here is something to broaden your cultural horizons. Please note that Frank and I have loved this video before the advent of its popularity on YouTube. His music professor showed it to his class in college. Of course we immediately made a copy of the VHS tape and shared it with the impressionable youth of our church... Sometimes I wonder why parents let their kids hang out with us.

Without further ado, I present for your viewing pleasure:
Tunak Tunak Tun

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Love, My Hope, My Mission

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5)

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (I Peter 3:15)

He (Jesus) told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Luke 10:2)

Today I feel like the above verses are so powerful I barely have to write any of my own words. Don't they stand on their own so beautifully? Yes, this world is dark. Yes, it is hard to look poverty, especially children in poverty, in the face and see it for the heartbreaking tragedy that it is.


God is God. He is perfectly good and his leadership is perfect. I am so glad I went to the prayer service last night at Wabash Valley International House of Prayer. This was the topic, and it totally put to words what was in my heart. The moment we forget that God is in control and try to "save the world" by our own power, we spin our wheels and go absolutely nowhere. God HAS to be the first love in our lives. He will have it no other way. If I am angry at God for the suffering I see in the world and think that I know better how to help people than He does...I am wrong. I am sinning. And I need to get myself out of the way and put God first before I reach out to others. God is love and sometimes his love comes in the form of justice and jealousy and incompatibility of sin that I don't understand. I struggle with that sometimes(read MANY times)...and sometimes I am just so humbled and grateful that He bears that responsibility and I do not. God is God. He loves each child more than I could ever imagine.

The Bible is filled with HOPE! Go...put "hope" in the search box at Bible Gateway and see how many verses pop up. Tons! Especially when it comes to New Testament writings. You can't read all those verses and then go away convinced that poverty and evil and death are going to be victorious in the end. At least I can't. It seems like we (notice the WE, I do this a lot) go around many times with our heads down and our shoulders shrugged like..."Oh well...this world stinks and the problems are too big for me, I guess God has it under control...ho hum..." We are in Christ. We have hope. I pray that my life reflects that in an ever increasing way!

I gave some pretty hefty stats in my last post. Here's another one...there are over 270 churches in Terre Haute. Dream with me. What if every single person in every single church put the love of God first? What if every single Christian in my area was filled with hope? What if they naturally served out of that? And I realize that we all have specific abilities and gifts from God. Not every Christian will have a primary calling to serve children in poverty. But some will. Okay, time to put on your math brain, kids! If one person from each church came one day a month to volunteer at the youth center, what would that look like? There are approximately 21 week days in a month. 270...divided by 21...that's 12.85714286. So each day the youth center is open, at least 12 Christ following, kid loving, adults would come through the doors to work with the kids. What kind of a difference would that make? It would be huge and life changing. From experience, I can tell you that spending just a little time with a child can make a big difference. Sure, donations can provide much needed staff and resources. But having Jesus lived out in front in front of these kids...that is a priceless gift.

So I ask you and I ask myself...
1. Do I love God first? Do I trust his perfect leadership?
2. Do I have hope? Or am I living like satan wins?
3. Am I being obedient to God's mission for me? The kids of Ryves Youth Center are my harvest. My three children are my harvest. Your harvest may look very much the same. Your harvest may look very different. It's easy to get bogged down with the weight of the world, feel helpless, and completely miss the mission God has placed right in front of your face. I think God is very ready to answer those who ask Him to show them what their harvest looks like. My harvest may not be easy or what I want at all...but it's mine and I pray God breaks my heart to desire it and gives me the wisdom and strength to fully pursue it. I also pray that He sends more workers so that His glory is apparent to all.

Okay, so I added lots of my own words. What did you expect?? But somehow I think they may not be ALL mine... :) And you know what? I went to the youth center on Wednesday to hang with the kids. About 10 adults (plus some kids) from my church were there with me. God is good. Amen!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Boys

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
(Psalm 127:3-4)

I am a girl. I am not a boy. Even though I've been married for more than 7 years and have two sons of my own, I don't think I will ever fully GET boys. And even when David starts speaking about sons here in the Psalms, he breaks out the manly man terminology. Arrows and warriors?? What? Sounds like we need a Tim the Tool Man Taylor laugh with that. HAR har har.

When I came to work at the youth center from the world of GIRL Scouts, there was a lot to learn. Since I was the only full time female person on staff, I tended to gravitate a little towards the girls because I could fill that girl-to-girl need in their lives. BUT there are some pretty awesome "guys" and "dudes" I got to know, too. Here are some of the boys' stories:


Chris is the only boy with lots of sisters. His family lives in Terre Haute most of the time, but sometimes they take extended trips to stay where his dad is from. Many times extended family or friends are living in his house. Without going into too much detail, we'll just say it's not really a safe place to be. Chris likes to spend the night at friends' houses to get away from home. One time the place they were renting burned down and they had to start completely over. Chris is 13.

Chris is an all around likable guy. Everyone is his friend. Chris is a good boxer and basketball player.


Ted has lived in Terre Haute all of his life, although he's lived in many places and attended many schools because his family has to move sometimes when they get behind on rent. Ted is one of four siblings. His parents have been married for a long time, but sometimes they fight a lot and it gets violent. Ted often wears his dad's over sized clothing because there's nothing at home that fits. Ted is 11.

Ted is an excellent student and loves to read scary books. Ted loves video games. Ted likes to draw designs that would make good tattoos or decals on cars.


Eric has lived in Terre Haute all of his life. Eric is really an adult now, and I am using his real name, unlike the others. That is because Eric is amazing! He is an only child. He has Down's Syndrome. His parents do not have a lot and face many health problems, but they have volunteered at the youth center for a long time. Eric became a part of the youth center Boy Scout troop and he is the ONLY Boy Scout in the youth center history that has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Eric is out of high school now and has a job, but continues to volunteer with the Boy Scout troop and at the youth center. Eric is 19.

Eric is helpful and does whatever is asked of him without complaint. Eric is very concerned about learning all he can, even though reading and writing are very difficult for him.


Cole has lived in Terre Haute all of his life. Cole is the baby of the family and yet in some ways an only child. I think he's the only child of his mom and dad, but he lives with extended family including many older cousins. Cole is not into school or reading too much, but he would always want a turn in the library just so he could have some time with an adult by himself. Cole is 6.

Cole is happy go lucky, but can hold his own against his rough-housing cousins. Cole loves all things "boy," such as dirt bikes and Nascar and professional wrestling!


Tyson is a sibling to one of the girls I wrote about. Tyson has many siblings in his family who are packed in a small house. Tyson gets in a lot of trouble. Usually it has to do with not controlling his mouth or getting into fights. Tyson gets kicked out of school a lot and he's been banned from the youth center several times as well. Tyson does not respect the authority of adults. Tyson picks on smaller children. Tyson, Tyson, Tyson....Tyson is 13.

Tyson was a good boxer on his well behaved days. Tyson is funny. I saw Tyson in a parade with his school band once, and was very proud to see him involved in something positive.


These are just a few of the boys! The youth center has over 1,500 different children come through the doors in one year, and the vast majority of them live in Terre Haute. And there are many more children in need who don't come to the youth center. Just ask the teachers and staff at local schools! In some of the schools in Terre Haute, close to 90% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch rates. The 2005 childhood poverty rate was over 22% for the county (That's 1 in 5 kids). Terre Haute has a population of about 60,000 people. I'm not a math expert, but that's a lot of kids in need...

So what's the deal? Why am I throwing all this out there? We get it, already, Beth! We already know there's people who need help out there. Odds are, you don't live in my area and will never meet these children. Odds are, you also probably have people or a cause that's very close to your heart and that you give to/volunteer with already. Still, I think there are some valuable lessons I have learned and HOPE I have found in the middle of be sure and read my next post...or I will come and beat you with my Snuggie... :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Girls

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."
Mark 9:35-37

If you haven't read my post about my new series, please go there first! I think my snuggie update upstaged it.

Everyone with me now? You went and watched my video and the ramblings with it? Ok. I started writing the stories of some of the children in the video and I couldn't stop. Then I sat and tried to figure out which ones to cut and which ones to keep. Wouldn't want it be too long...blah blah blah. But how do you say one child's story is more important or more typical than another? You can't. There is no one generic face of poverty. There are millions, each with their own story. Here are 9 stories of girls in the video. I'll get to the boys next time. And then I'll probably do some reflecting about the whole thing after that, because I don't want to leave you emotionally stranded without hope. But right now I'm just trying to get the facts down and present a realistic picture about the kids, which is hard because I'm totally biased because I love 'em. Don't be fooled, though! There were many days that made me want to pull my hair out at the youth center. :) So today, simply meet some of the girls today and just get to know them.


Talita was born in the southern part of the U.S. All I know about her dad is that he is not in her life. Her mom was homeless much of her young life and she moved around a lot with Talita and her two brothers. Talita came to Indiana a couple years ago to live with her extended family. Her family members have had severe health problems and have been in the hospital several times in the past couple of years. Talita has behavior issues. She had to repeat kindergarten. She craves adult attention, especially male. She is 6.

Talita has developed her own unique style. Talita is smart. Talita has a fabulous imagination.


Sasha was born to teenage parents who went to the youth center when THEY were kids. She is the oldest of 4 siblings, and is almost a mother figure to the others. A couple years ago, her mother abducted her and they disappeared. She was exposed to some terrible situations in urban America. Her dad eventually was able to contact her and found a way to get her back to Indiana, but life here has been hard as well. Sasha got back together with her old boyfriend when she returned. He is the best thing in her world to her. She is pregnant. She is 16.

Sasha creates wonderful artwork and poetry. Sasha is way more organized than I am. Sasha is smarter than most CEOs.


Destiny has lived in Indianapolis most of her life. She has one older brother and three younger sisters. Her mom is a single parent who works as an aid in a nursing home. Destiny is very angry for one who is so young. She gets in fights. She bullies. Destiny is 10.

Destiny gets straight A's. Destiny is funny. Destiny is a natural leader. Destiny is a really good roller skater.


Anna has lived all her life in Terre Haute but has attended many elemetary schools. Sometimes she lives with her mom. Sometimes she lives with her grandma. Sometimes she lives with other extended family. Her dad has been in jail for awhile. She misses him a lot. She is 10.

Anna is a very well behaved child. Anna loves computers. Anna loves the Disney channel.


Belinda has lived all her life in Terre Haute. She lives with her single mom and older brother. They move around a lot. Many times they live without heat, running water, or furniture. Her brother gets in a lot of trouble, but she usually stays out of trouble. She is very bitter for being so young and she's hard to talk to. Belinda is 12.

Belinda is an avid reader. Belinda is quiet. Belinda is loyal.


Kim has lived all her life in Terre Haute. She is one of a number of siblings...6 or 7? I'm not sure. Her mom has substance abuse problems and I'm not sure if her dad is her real dad or a step dad. There is usually some shortage in their house of proper food or clothing. Kim works the system to her advantage constantly because that is how she has been taught to survive. Kim is 12.

Kim is hands down a brilliant girl. Kim is very passionate for good causes and excels in extracurricular activities. Kim is sarcastic. Kim loves to go to church.


Kaley has lived in Terre Haute all her life. She is an only child and lives with her single mom. She is "spoiled" compared to most of the kids at the youth center because her extended family makes sure she has some nice things. She has lost her home twice due to natural disasters. Her dad promises things and doesn't follow through on them. Kaley is 15.

Kaley is a good dancer. Kaley likes to teach things to younger children. Kaley is good at voicing her opinions.


Sarah has lived in Terre Haute most of her life. Her dad used to be in the military and her mom is disabled. Sarah was home schooled. Sarah started working a full time job as soon as she could to help her family. Sarah's family lives in a government housing complex. Sarah is 17.

Sarah passed her GED and now goes to community college. Sarah has great taste in movies and music. Sarah is a leader on her church's quiz bowl team.


Simone has lived in Gary and Terre Haute. She has many siblings (full/half/step) in a house much smaller than mine. Her dad was in prison for violence and drug charges. Her mom works at a hospital. Simone is 8.

Simone is a good singer. Simone loves crafts. Simone is patient.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

By Popular Demand: Snuggie Update

The Snuggies arrived while I was out of town this weekend. Yes, I am using one now. Yes, it is all that I could have imagined and more. They are like super huge, so the whole dancing video thing is going to be physically difficult, but I will try not to make you wait to long for this artistic extravaganza sure to alter life as you know it. It may require strategically placed duct tape. However, most of it depends on my loving husband having the time and patience to help me film and post it. He can be bribed with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Just don't call them "reesies." He hates that.

New Series! Woot!

I've been wanting to do some posts about Ryves Youth Center (where I used to work) for some time now, but I was totally at a loss at how to do it. How do you do justice to something that changes your life like that? How do you make it real to other people? So here goes...

I have a video for you all to watch. It's footage of the Christmas party in 2007 (I didn't even make the one this year due to ice and Frank's dad's health that day.) and the director of Catholic Charities for the archdiocese put it on YouTube, so I'm going to assume it's okay to share! I'm going to ask the director at Ryves when I see him this week, too, just to make sure. I'm pretty protective of the kiddos. Anyway, I want you to watch carefully and if you want to, you can give me your impressions of what you see in the comments section. If you're reading this in Facebook, you can always leave your comments there, too. I'm just curious to see what you think. If you have questions, please ask! Then I'm going to follow up this video with some stories about the people that I see in the video. I'm not going to tell you who is who, just general stories that are real and hopefully present a snapshot of what poverty in my part of the world looks like.

I will admit that I grew up knowing that the poor existed around me and that I mostly had the best of intentions wanting to help any and all people, but often I was quick to judge those in poverty and looked down on them without making any effort to know them as people God loves as much as he loves me. People in need made me very uncomfortable. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know how I could help, so it was easier to ignore the whole thing, even though I knew the Bible teaches otherwise. My first day at Ryves I was pretty much scared to death, but I knew it was job straight from God. And so the learning began. I still have a lot to learn; I am not an expert by any means...but I hope that these stories might open at least one pair of eyes to the reality of poverty here in America and make one person a little less afraid to LIVE those teachings we hear so often at church. I didn't even know my eyes were closed. But now that they are open, I see many Christians who are walking around blind and simply don't know where to get corrective surgery. I may be at home these days with my own kids instead of with the kids at the youth center, but this blog seems to be a new opportunity to encourage other Christians to be more like the Good Samaritan and less like the priest or Levite (See Luke chapter 10). If all else fails, it will be a good reminder to myself...sometimes I find myself bumping into walls, searching for my thank God for grace...

Monday, February 2, 2009


Sometimes the world in which we live freaks me can find out anything in seconds as long as you have an internet connection. And now unlimited information is portable, too, thanks to data plans and 3G networks and such. But is it useful? Like when the GPS on my husband's phone/computer/squeegee/total gym told us that there was a traffic jam on I-69 in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana...but we were already in the jam with no way out.

Sometimes...yes. From the traffic jam, my husband could write his book critique for his class on his laptop in the car. We could call my mother-in-law on the road somewhere behind us and make sure they were ok and vice versa.

I had a good conversation with my Dad over the weekend along these lines. We started out laughing that my daughter has such good computer skills for being only 4. If you ever need a tutorial on the Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney websites, let her know. We talked about how it's so different than the childhood either of us grew up with. Dad shared some stories about the computer at Cummins where my grandpa worked that took up entire rooms and had less computing power than a calculator, and the time share computer they had at their high school that didn't even have a monitor. It just did a print out of the commands you gave it. Those were the super cool technology advances of their day...a day that was not so long ago. By the fifth grade there was a computer in my school classroom with this new thing called a mouse, and by the eighth grade, there was a computer in our home where we got to connect to the Washington Elementary Bulletin Board. An amazing place where people could connect to each other via computer and share important experiences like games completely in text. Woo! Good times!

By nature, I am not one to dabble in all things techno-geeky. That's Frank's job. But I am so thankful for good things that come from technology. I can stream Christian radio stations and worship along. I can find new friends across the globe as well as re-connect with old ones. I can look up passages in the Bible by word or phrase or book. I can listen to the sermon I missed on Saturday at my church. There are some REALLY cool games and sites for kids these days. (PBS Kids has found a fun way to teach my preschoolers about fractions and probability!) I can find recipes that turn the three things I actually have in my fridge into something edible for dinner...

So today I'm amazed and thankful for good stuff that comes from God. Technology is a huge responsibility, of course. Like anything, you have to sort the good from the bad and be careful not to let it replace the Best (Thanks, media fast!) And sometimes that gets hard as things get complicated. But today I'm just basking in amazement and thankfulness. Because if I had to drag three kids out of the house AND put real clothes on to do all these things....well, I would probably become a sad hermit with kids who didn't know fractions and ate microwaved hot dogs every night.