January 30, 2010

one day at a time

Not much has gone the way we planned it. Not much at all; but we have felt the grace of God so strongly these past two weeks. It has been so evident from the beginning that He is right here with us.

When we were half-way to Florida, we got the call that grandma was in the hospital. She had to have surgery the next morning. Crazy as it sounds - she wanted grandpa and I to go anyways. The timing of the whole thing worked out perfectly, mom was able to stay with grandma in the hospital - and grandpa and I were actually able to take the trip.

It was definitely an unforgettable experience. I took about 600 photos... Mountains, villages, insane traffic moments, but the children stand out the most for me. Still being away from home, and with limited access to all my photos at the moment - I've only been able to load a few pictures of the kids we worked with every morning. Mostly Spanish speaking, but a few Haitian immigrants too. It was such a blessing to spend time with these sweet kids.

I promise to have more when I can... Meanwhile, please keep our family in prayer. The news for my grandma has not all been good, but we are trusting in the Lord - we have really felt His presence in the midst of this.

January 14, 2010


Today's the last day. Tomorrow, Mom, Joe, and I - will be leaving early. (Hopefully early.) Mom and Joe will be spending time with my sister and her family while I'm in the Dominican Republic with my grandparents. The sad part about this trip - is that my Dad is not able to take off work to come with us. We've never been on a trip like this without him before - so it is going to be very strange; and we will all miss him so terribly.

That means today's the last day - to do all those things there are to do the day before leaving home for two weeks. We're packing, cleaning, baking cookies (and stocking the fridge) for Dad, and taking just a few moments to give special attention to a little dog.

The poor guy doesn't realize we're leaving yet. I try not to think about him being all by himself (with exception of the bird) all day. He will probably look something like this tomorrow morning, when he sees the car being packed with luggage. (Never a good sign.)

That's what we call his "Sunday morning face." We are blessed with a church where we get to stay for lunch and fellowship. Well, somehow Spencer always knows when it's Sunday. (The Sunday clothes and crock pots must clue him in...) That's when he mopes to his big yellow chair and looks out the window. Knowing that we will be gone all day.
We'll miss him too. He's such a cheerful little dog. (Except on Sunday mornings...)

It might be kind of quiet around Shirley Goodness and Mayhem for the next two weeks, depending on how often I come across some Internet service. Don't forget about us; Lord willing, I'll be back soon.

January 12, 2010

in His hands

My plan for today, was a post with a few more details about the upcoming trip to Florida that I've briefly mentioned. Florida actually isn't my final destination this time.

It has been a dream of mine, ever since I was very small - to visit a Spanish speaking country. I love the language, and after three years of studying it in high school - I've been looking forward to a chance to "use it."

An opportunity finally opened up for me this past year; a chance to go on a missions trip - into a Latino country, and even more incredibly- to go with my grandparents! Suddenly I find myself realizing, that the trip is only a week from now - and the country is the Dominican Republic. The country that shares it's island with Haiti.

When I heard about the earthquakes there last night, I had no idea what kind of damage the DR might have. I was prepared for the news that the trip might need to be canceled. I really have an overwhelming peace, knowing that it is in the Lord's hands. As of this morning, the report is that the DR is okay, and the trip is still on. I've said all along, that I won't be excited about going until I'm actually there. Life has made somewhat of a realist out of me I guess. :)

I would appreciate prayer as this trip draws closer. What I long for most, in all of life - is that the Lord's perfect will is carried out, and that's my prayer here. There's such a joy in seeing His providence at work. I know it's not ironic that our trip was planned for this time.
Please also - do not forget to pray for the people of Haiti. My mind cannot comprehend what they suffer on a normal day, let alone in a disaster like this.

January 11, 2010

Return of the Neighbor's Cat

I just have to post this photo for the sake of it's priceless irony...

The attack cat legend existed around here way before this cat did. I'd say the sign has been hanging right there on the bell pole for at least eight years. Well, this young whipper-snapper of a neighbor's cat came along one day, to claim the pole, and the title, and the glory that comes with it.

The first time he ascended; it was in an effort to escape a spastic little cat chasing monster. (Namely, Spencer the dog.) Since then, he has returned to his spot - on a daily basis - for reasons that are not yet apparent to us. I think he likes the odd looks people give him when he's up there. We've had more than one visitor sort of pull us to the side and ask... "So, the cat -- with the sign-- Um, what exactly does he do?"

Well, he hasn't done anything yet. Except sit up there and look superior. It is rather disgusting; considering the fact that he really doesn't even live here. I do sometimes wonder what he's thinking about when he's perched up there; but I usually try not to.

We decided to just leave him alone, and let him do his thing - so there he sits; horrifying all who see him. I suppose I could remove the sign; but what's the fun in that?

January 9, 2010

keeping warm

As the temperature dips into the single digits...

We're keeping warm; with Mom's chicken tortilla soup.
(With sour cream and guacamole...)

Hoping; that the big sheep who always waits for the coldest night of the year to have her lambies - will do something different this time. (It'll be any day now...)

And smiling; because this time next week - we'll be on our way to Florida.

(Lord willing...)

January 8, 2010

snow day

I had been in the house all day, where it's nice and warm - but - a little dog named Spencer that does adorable tricks for twigs drew me outside. Joe came out to play with my new camera, and it was fun - until Spencer ate the twig. He eats much, much, worse things; so I think he'll be okay. (Typical Spencer Mervis behavior pattern.)

Then, Huck let me have my picture taken with him. (That's "Buster" in the background.) Huck is mid-bark; as usual. Many have tried without success to get a photo of this dog with his mouth shut... Just pretend he's smiling. He really likes to bark. Especially at Spencer.

Huck thinks he's Spencer's drill sergeant. Some people find Huck irritating. He needs all of the attention focused on him, all of the time. (I refer to it as a different type of "attention deficit" disorder...) He's not even able to enjoy the attention he does get, because he's so distracted with keeping everybody else at an acceptable distance. You either love him or you hate him. I'm kind of partial to him myself.

The fun in the snow just wouldn't have been complete without chasing the neighbor's cat (who thinks he lives here) up the garden fence. Spencer likes to deal with this cat using his "junk-yard dog" voice, which sounds absolutely hideous. (Joe rescued the cat immediately after this shot was taken. Letting the cat learn his lesson was not worth the noise pollution we were all enduring.)

No; the cat did not decide to go home. He still wants to live here for some reason.

January 7, 2010

We are like Sheep

It's snowing... and has been snowing, all day long.
It's the beautiful fluffy white kind of snow though, so I don't mind, but I guess I'm not exactly outside living in it, like some sheep I know...

I went to visit and feed them lunch this afternoon; and found them standing in the snow. Several of them were laying down - with a four inch layer of snow on their backs. I have to say they looked pretty absurd. The joke is - they actually have a barn; and two extra shelters. Why don't they use them? I haven't figured that out yet. I suspect it's mainly due to something that's partially missing in their cerebral cavities. Or maybe they just happen to like snow, and rain, and tornadoes with hail, and everything else they stand out there in. It's possible I guess.

I can't talk too badly about sheep though. Every time I do, I recall a humbling fact. I remember that God often used sheep as an illustration when talking about people... After seeing the poor needy creatures everyday; seeing their needless fear, their slowness, their helplessness; I know it's not a complement, but I know it's true.
We need a Shepherd every bit as much as they do.

With that; I find it harder to criticize their ridiculous behavior, even if I can't resist smiling about them.

I felt even less like poking fun at the sheep after I spotted a creature with a supposed higher IQ doing the exact same thing...

I'm not sure if he was attempting to look like a snowman, or trying to make me feel guilty for sharing his cake story yesterday.
Maybe our animals just have a thing for snow.

January 6, 2010

ode to an orange cat

I promise to post about something other than pets - one of these days... But when one has such a photogenic cat as the one seen above; what are they supposed to do about it?

His name is Anpfeifen. A German word, with several definitions, but chosen for its meaning: "to hiss or snarl at", which I must say this cat does rather well.

"Fiffen" came to live with us about a year ago. When I first spotted him that Sunday afternoon - a tiny little ball of happy purring fluff - looking very neglected in the snow of our church parking lot; I never imagined he would grow up to be such a handsome specimen of a cat. (I never imagined my parents would let me take him home.)
We all have somewhat of a weakness for orange cats.

We were very worried that our dogs would hurt the little guy, so we kept him locked up in the garage for awhile. One day; he escaped - and he chased the dogs around the house. I half expected the orange beast to eat me when I went to rescue the dogs; but as soon as I had him, he immediately melted into a little ball of fuzzy sweetness, and started purring. We just let him go wherever he wanted after that.

At present; he has grown to be a huge ten pound hairball of happiness. (As long as you aren't a dog.) The combination of his adorably grumpy-looking face and a new camera has been difficult to resist. Well, perhaps I should say that my mom doesn't find him quite as irresistible as I do. He is an expert at being a royal pain. He digs around in the garden more than the dogs do. His greatest moment of infamy was probably the day he jumped in the open van and licked all the icing off of a corner of my nephew's birthday cake. (Very skillfully slicing the plastic-wrap to get to it...) I like to imagine that Mom still likes him just a little bit; even if she did call him a 'scruffy orange raccoon'. (He does have an awkward raccoon-like amble.)

January 5, 2010

a bird that says "meow"...

Meet Pollyanna. The Quaker parrot that says "meow"; and lots of other things...

This bird has been a huge part of our everyday lives for about seven years now. To make a long story short; she's been dumped at least once - and we frankly have no idea how old she is or where on earth she came from originally. It doesn't bother us so much anymore, but those early days were strange times. I'll never forget the day I was washing dishes and the bird actually asked me "Hey baby; whatcha doing?" in her best imitation of a little old lady voice. No; we didn't teach her that. After seven years, I'm assuming she's finally out of surprises.

While seven years may have improved our understanding, I can't say that they have helped her attitude. Don't let the sweet little face deceive you. You're looking at a vicious bird.

She loves my dad. She always has; and - well; she tolerates the rest of us. She would seriously bite all of our noses off, and think nothing of it.

Sometimes she gets a little cranky and tells us to "stop it" in an English accent. In her cuter moments - she meows like a cat, calls "here kitty kitty", tells us she loves us, screams for "pretty boy" (dad...), and asks for a cracker in the most irresistible way. She also has a cruel habit of laughing and giggling when calamity strikes.

We love her anyway.

[at this very moment... the bird asks me: "Whatcha doing?" Me: "I'm writing about you, bird." She responds by ringing her bell and saying "Way to go bird." Now she is laughing and shrieking hysterically. Is this weird? Or is it just me?]

January 4, 2010

Once upon a Monday morning...

Monday mornings always strike me as a good time to start something new. You see, I've had a blank blog staring at me for two days now. But Monday struck in it's faithful fashion, and I at last find myself with the courage to begin.

I live on a little 25 acre farm, in a 94 year old house, with a rapidly aging barn, and a very full, very loud, and noisy chicken coop. My first seven years were spent in a rather large city. When we left behind our home in the suburbs, we knew absolutely nothing about what we were getting into.

Twelve years have passed since that fateful day... Twelve memorable, wonderful years. Twelve crazy, stressful years. A life I've summed up in two words. Goodness and Mayhem.

The goodness is obvious. Sunrise on a foggy morning. Four smiling dogs that each have their own job [and they are actually doing them]. A little fat fluffy pea-green parrot named Pollyanna that says "I love you" in the most endearing bird voice you've ever heard. The wonder of each tiny new little lamb. The breathless feeling I always get when they take that first little gasp of air, and that first little lambie cry, that is so strong it amazes me, and so like a newborn baby it brings tears to my eyes every time. Even if it is lamb #25 of the year...

Then, there are the moments. The day happy little Pollyanna escaped her confinements and chased a group of screaming children through the house. [I have to admit, I was rather terrified myself.] [Yes, we re-clipped her wing feathers that very night...] There was the time we looked out the window to discover a scene of our 90 year-old neighbor lady attempting to shoo our cow out of her rose bed with a broom... The day Amelia the sheep decided to have triplets when it was 14 below zero. One of them happened to be such a tiny helpless little girl, she had to come inside and live with us. For a month. We named her Amberina, fed her bottles, changed her diapers, and; took her to church... [yes, we did]. Those are the days, months, moments - that make up my own little personal definition for the word. Mayhem. A very benign form of havoc, chaos, and - sometimes destruction... that is perhaps unique to us. It's what my memories are made of. The kind that make me smile later. [Sometimes much later.]

Perhaps you'll laugh, perhaps you'll groan - I don't know. But if you care to join me, that's a taste of what you're in for. Along with a little art, a little knitting, and I dare say, lots and lots of testimonies of my wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - Who sustains me with His goodness - in the midst of the mayhem.