16 December 2004

I changed my setup now so that anyone can make comments!
Life Focus
Another excerpt from the Life Focus Newsletter:
The vector principle describes the direction in which an object is moving, momentum describes the velocity in which it is moving. Interestingly, vector cannot be measured until there is momentum. Momentum cannot happen until there is an initial step of action. If you are sitting on a bicycle facing west, but you want to go north, turning the handle bars is not enough to move you North. You must take that first step on the pedals in order to create motion. It is only after motion has begun that you see the impact of turning those handle bars in the right direction.
So it is with your life. If you know what you must do, but you don't take that first step, you will remain frozen in your current state looking at what could be. My encouragement for you this month is begin taking action. Set your eyes on those goals you have for yourself. Decide what must be done to get there and then establish small, attainable and measurable goals that will set you on the right path of achieving your dreams.

Small Change Challenge
1. Write a narrative of the life you want to live. (This can be one paragraph or several pages) Be very specific as you describe various aspects of the life you want.
2. What are the three most important changes that you need to make in your life to reach your goals? (write them out and be very specific)
3. What action step can you take in the next 48 hrs. that will create momentum in the right direction? (this can be anything from making a phone call or setting up an appointment with a key individual who can help you accomplish a task) I am confident that if you will follow through with this first Small Change Challenge you will be on your way to living the life you want to live

14 December 2004

I went deer hunting!
Its deer hunting season out here so there's lots of people running around with guns and scaring deer through fields. Deer are in abundance out here and they're such pretty animals except when they're in the road. Had one run out in front of me last night. That was nothing new. But a second later, here comes another one and it ran into my car. Yeah, it T-boned my car. You can see where her nose hit right under the handle of the front door. Then the back door is all dented up. Was quite the experience. Just before that I was thinking how long it had been taking for it to get too warm in my car since it was about 8 degrees outside. After she hit my car and my blood started pumping more rapidly, I got warm real quick. Never even saw her hit the car but I heard it and then watched in the rear view mirror and she fell on the road and started flopping around. That didn't happen for too long when I pulled over and looked back, I saw her get up and run into the field. I'm sure someone will smell the rotting flesh eventually, I don't see how she could survive that. Praise God that I didn't hit her with the front of my car. It would have scooped her right up and she would've come through my windshield. That wouldn't be a pretty sight on me or on the car! As it is, I'm sure it will cost plenty to fix since the whole door is dented in. Okay, enough fun news from me. HOpe your weather and outside stuff is not so dramatic.

13 December 2004

Just a few more days left...
Yeah for a good and relaxing weekend we had! Saturday I slept in till 8am. Snacked for breakfast and piddled around the house. Ryan made pancakes and sausage for lunch, it was yummy. Saturday afternoon we ran to a few stores in town for stocking stuffers and groceries. I decorated with some more Christmas stuff and picked up a few rooms. Sunday then we had church and my little Henderson buddies came over. They're pre-K, 2nd and 4th grade. We had hot chocolate and watched the Cinderella story (if that's the real name) with Hillary Duff and also watched Shrek 2. Ryan and I make pizza on french bread for supper when Mike and Eva came to get their kids. The house wasn't spic and span and I was only minorly (is that a word?) worried about it.
Our upcoming week will be busy. Our favorite Culligan Man, Doug, who we also attend church with, is bringing us one of those big bottled water things where you can get cold or tap water out of it. During the rest of the week I have a few things to pick up for gifts yet. We were all done except some gifts Ryan was making. Well, his honey-do list has taken priority and his gift making has ceased. So, now I need to get my butt out with all of you other procrastinators and do some shopping for a few people. We have quite the weekend scheduled too. Some friends of ours are moving and we'll be helping with that. Plus, we're have some friends over for supper Saturday night and my house MUST be clean for that. Then Sunday is the Christmas program for the children of the church. Monday is work and a girls party afterwards and Tuesday we fly out to Arizona for Christmas and relaxation. Since its 17 degrees here with 40-50 mph winds, I'm looking forward to 70 degrees in AZ. Yeah, for vacations!

06 December 2004

It feels like Christmas
Last night we finished up a veterinary call it was just starting to spit a light sprinkle and we joined the Bishop family inside the house for supper and fellowship. What a great time hanging out with friends (who also happen to be a deacon of the church as well as one of Ryan's clients). We heard all 4 kids share Christmas songs on the piano, shared a meal and lots of good laughs. We left their house several hours later and walked out to see half an inch of snow on the ground. It was gorgeous driving home as the snow was falling fast and in abundance. Then we got home and walked down through the pasture together to move our goat out of the snow and into the barn. We were covered in snow. What a fun time for us. Christmas is coming but now it feels like Christmas around here. This week should be warm but I expect the snow to be back soon :)
Here's to a good laugh:

The FBI had an opening for an assassin. After all the background checks, interviews and testing were done there were 3 finalists. Two men and a woman. For the final test, the FBI agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun.

"We must know that you will follow your instructions no matter what the circumstances. Inside the room you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Kill Her!!!" The man said, "You can't be serious! I could never shoot my wife." The agent said, "Then you're not the right man for this job. Take your wife and go home."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about 5 minutes. The man came out with tears in his eyes, "I tried, but I can't kill my wife." The agent said, "You don't have what it takes. Take your wife and go home."

Finally, it was the woman's turn. She was given the same instructions, to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one after another. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman, She wiped the sweat from her brow. "This gun is loaded with blanks" she said. "I had to beat him to death with the chair."

01 December 2004

Chinese Food
Last night Ryan treated me to Chinese Food. We get the buffet, its awesome. By time we got there, I was so hungry my stomach hurt (its a 45 minute drive). About 90 people from the Luther College cross country team was there for some big party. They were all dressed up and looking cute. I felt like such a dud in the middle of their line at the buffet. I was in jeans, a t-shirt, a zip up sweatshirt and jacket. The food was good as always. They even had sushi on the buffet but I didn't have the stomach to try it. Plus, I know that next time I see Cori, she'll take me out for a sushi experience. I chatted with the owner there (because I know no strangers) and found out that they're actually Korean. But, it will always be "Chinese" Food to me since that's what I'm used to calling it. Thanks to my wonderful and lovely husband who took me out for a great meal. He's so awesome!

29 November 2004

Where have I been?
Not quite a month since I last wrote; yup its been a while. Seems like I just turned my calendar over to November and already I’ll be changing it again. In a 3 week period of time, I was in the office two and a half days. My boss probably wonders if I’ll ever come back. Today I was scheduled to be in Des Moines for 2 days and in Independence on Thursday for various meetings. Friday I decided that my untouched work here in my office would take priority. It also happened that on Friday I was the only one in the office working. After numerous phone calls and clients at the counter, I realized how long I’d been gone. I felt like a new employee all over again. Many things change and progress and take shape and I didn’t have a clue how that was all happening.
One week I spent 3 days at a Prescribed Burning Training. I picked up on a few things but nothing that really increased my job skills in the area. I’ve had some good training before but it wasn’t official so this was just jumping through the right hoops to satisfy those above. The second week I spent in Kansas City. Not all that exciting either. I was there for a Managing for Success Training. It too was crap. I had high expectations of this professional meeting, etc. One of our speakers was a comedian before working for us and you could tell. The other speaker had us reading out loud to each other. We did a lot of team building skills but nothing brilliant came out of it. I learned about a good partnership with other agencies and how to get that established but it was a side note to the whole thing. It sucked!
Come home not feeling so well. The stress of being away from home, not eating well and having lots on my desk to think about just sucked my energy. I whined through the weekend, worked a half day on Monday and went home to a week of company. Denise (ryan’s vet school buddy) came and stayed for a few days. She recently came home on furlough from doing missions work on Africa and it was good to see her. Plus Ryan’s parents came up from AZ and stayed a week. We enjoyed our company. Ryan’s mom helped me on a blanket I’m making before Ryan put her to work stripping paint off of our window/door trim. His dad helped him with re-building the north porch. They are hardworkers and I so appreciate their help. His mom has such a servants attitude and made some wonderful meals, washed dishes, etc. Thanks to them, I got some well needed rest on the couch.
Thanksgiving was of course a feast of food, family and fun. Everybody pitched in for the meal and clean up and it was awesome. Today was back to the office. I tried to muttle through the piles on my desk and happened to lose an application and all the design work for a federal cost share deal. Yup, bad me. I’ve got about a week to get things straightened out that I left undone. And about 3 weeks until Ryan and I head off to AZ for Christmas. Yikes, I have lots to do.

12 November 2004

(I took the liberty to remove some questions so you wouldn't get bored)
1 - What color pants are you wearing? Blue jeans that have the brown background where they’ve faded.

2 - What are you listening to right now? Troy, my coworker, talking

3 - Soup or salad? Both, I like to eat.

4 - What was the last thing you ate? I had a granola bar first thing this morning and will be having a snack here shortly.

5 - If you were a crayon; what color would you be? I like yellow. It’s a brilliant color that highlights many things but tends to be behind the scenes and in the background quite often.

6 - Weather right now? Oh my gosh, its cold! 20 degrees when I left this morning. Yesterdays high was 38 and it was windy which is way freezing after a gorgeous 60 degree day on Wednesday

7 - Last person you talked to on the phone? Jen Royer, she’s also married to a young vet named Ryan. We chatted about her pregnancy. She’s due at the end of February so I’m hoping for the 20th which is my b-day.

8 - Do you like the person who sent you this? Yup, I’m the last person she had talked to on the phone when she did this. I love Kristin, she’s wonderful!

9 - How are you today? I feel wonderful. Another blessed day from God - I woke up hoping it was Saturday. I was on travel M, T & W. Thursday was a holiday and it so feels like I should be home cleaning today instead of sitting at my desk.

10 - Favorite drink? I’d have to say my all time favorite is water, chilled with no ice and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

11 - Favorite alcohol drink? Bluck! I’ve tasted a few wines and they’re nasty. Tasted my brothers Corona one time and it too was awful. Robitussin is good :)

12- Hair color? Brown with some natural blond and red highlights.

13 - Eye color? Depends on what I’m wearing. Generally a greenish blue with a ring of yellow around my pupil.

15 - Siblings and their age? Jen (26), DJ (22), Jeff and Aimee whose ages I don’t know.

16 - Favorite food? More recently, I’ve really liked salmon and shrimp.

17 - Last movie you watched? Shrek 2 for the second time and again I fell asleep during it.

18 - Favorite day of the year? Government holidays and family get togethers

26 - What is your favorite show? CSI wins the gold on that one

27 - What books are you reading? I married Adventure by Luci Swindoll is one of the books I’m currently reading. I also just finished I Grew Up Little by Patsy Clairmont. I don’t read too often but I’ve been on a reading kick lately.

29 - Favorite Board Game? Battle of the Sexes – I’ve only played it once but it was fun. Otherwise I like Mexican Train (not a board game but a dominoe game), it rocks!

30 - What did you do last night? Ran a veterinary call with Ryan in the late afternoon and then went to Sabor Latino for supper. On the way home, we stopped at Andy & Erica’s and I played with my girls (4 cuties from 2 to 9ish) We colored, looked at crafts projects of theirs, played with a carebear and checked out some videos. Yeah, fun stuff!

31 - What inspires you? Grace, mercy and love

32 - Buttered; Plain; or salted popcorn? Oh, I’ve so been wanting popcorn. I like it with butter, Lawry’s seasoning instead of salt and then add some almonds and fruit gummy things. Its rockstar popcorn!

33 - Favorite car? Car, its all about trucks. Yup, I like the 79 Chevy pickup. Its my all time favorite.

34 - Favorite flower? Yellow roses, it’s a family thing. I also like tulips and lilies of all sorts.

35 - How many keys on your key ring? One I think. The key to my car and it rarely leaves my ignition – even when I’m on travel for work and have locked my doors. Yup, the locksmith and I are buddies now. He used to dairy farm not too far from here. Its quite an experience when you lock yourself out of your car in some other town! Makes for a great time to catch up on phone calls while you wait.

36 - Can you juggle? I like Kristin’s answer. I can’t juggle fruits or baseballs, but I can juggle, so far, all my commitments.

37 - Who would you hate to be trapped in a room with? Anyone but Ryan, if were were trapped in a room… it would be more entertaining

38 - 7-up or sprite? Sprite over 7up but I really don’t care for POP.

41 - Favorite perfume? There’s two: Endless Love from Victoria’s Secret for everyday wear and Obsession for going out.

42 - Favorite band(s) of all time? I don’t know that I like bands per say, but I do like worship teams and music in general


A man decided to write a book about famous churches around the world. So he bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Orlando, thinking that he would start by working his way across the USA from South to North. On his first day he was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read "$10,000 per call". The man, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for. The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God. The man thanked the priest and went along his way. Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it. He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Orlando and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was. She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God. "O.K., thank you," said the man.
He then traveled to Indianapolis, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. In every church he saw the same golden telephone with the same "$10,000 per call" sign under it. The man, upon leaving New York decided to travel out mid west to see if western states had the same phone.
He arrived in Iowa, and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read "40 cents per call." The man was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign. "Father, I've traveled all over America and I've seen
this same golden telephone in many churches. I'm told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in the east and south the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here? The priest smiled and answered, "You're in Iowa now, son it's a local call".

03 November 2004

Two major things in the office lately. The first is reconciling every single contract in EQIP (one of our federal cost share programs). This means going through every contract line item by line item to make sure that it migrated over correctly into our program. Our contracts have an average of 17 line items plus we have to check their direct deposit information, etc. Its time consuming. Add to that, the system is web based so with everyone in the nation working on this, it can slow down the system considerably. We have over 100 contracts total and I have 15 left. One keeps giving me an error and the other 14 I can’t touch until they create a program to fix them because they doubled up.
The other bit of frustration on computers is printing maps. I’m trying to print a whole watershed which is about 3’x5’ in a much smaller capacity. Eric asked me to help on this since I’m pretty comfortable with computers. A simple process became quite difficult. After printing off six 8”x11” pages and Eric pasting them together, I realized that it was way too much work. So, I decided to run to our area office on my way home (only 6 miles out of the way) and print it out on their plotter. My login wouldn’t access the plotter and Neil’s login wouldn’t access the photos from the server. Jerry’s also wouldn’t access the plotter, it has to be on the engineering computers. Of course all this is after hours and there’s noone around. Jerry (the boss in the field office which shares a building with the area office) had no clue where the disk was that has the photos saved. Go figure, he’s counted on his soil con to do all that stuff – same for my office. So, I was going to burn a cd with the info on it and take it back to the right computer. But, Jerry’s computer that can burn cd’s was down and our computer guy, Brian wasn’t around. Without sharing all the crazy details of my little adventure, I left the area office 1.5 hours later with a plotted document that didn’t have the aerial photos in the background as needed but did have the field boundaries. This morning started the craziness all over. Brian, our computer guy, came back and eventually set me up to print on the plotter in the area office from my desk. That was great but I couldn’t print preview it so I really didn’t know what the end result was. Rhonda, one of the office managers was trying to help but she’s not at all familiar with reading maps; bless her heart. Dave Brommel (the head guy for our area) came to her rescue. He jumped on the phone and said “looks like Bloody Run Watershed…” He was familiar with it because he worked in our county about 20 years ago. We got the scale right to fit but the darn thing wouldn’t change from portrait to landscape even when I told it too. Way too much drama for the day. Now that I waisted some big paper and lots of time, I told Eric to call the guy who originally created and sent him the document to have him print it out in Des Moines and mail it up to him. Ah, done with that one.

My county is never slow but things sure have picked up. We’re gearing up for Conservation Security Program (CSP) expecting to hear soon if we have it. It’s a new program in Iowa and requires lots of bodies and mucho mucho hours to sign people up. When that officially happens, we’ll likely have a Jan-Feb signup. We also just got our EQIP money for this year – about 5-6 months earlier than usual. That will be a mid December signup so we’re gearing up for that now. Setting appointments to meet with interested landowners. Plus, its fall work time here and that means that we should all be out in the field laying out practices before the ground freezes. Unfortunately there’s too much on our plate right now to focus on one thing. Then, Troy, my coworker who does a ton and has been the one focusing on the EQIP appointments, got called for jury duty today. So I filled in with an appointment this morning but now he’ll be out at least a couple of days. As if we can afford to get any farther behind. Two days after we got our EQIP money, we also heard that our CRP offers got accepted. That means that we have 62 landowners to sit down with and plan out their next 10-15 years of grasses and each step of that program from getting it established and what kinds of grasses to seed through maintenance, etc. Its quite the project when we get these. The same day, they informed us that our ECP money came through finally. This money goes to repair all the damage the May floods created around here. That adds gobs of work for the technicians to do. So, to put it simply, we are BUSY around here. Some say job security and I kinda hope so – I’d prefer to stick around here as long as I can; I know they’ll keep me busy!

02 November 2004

Five of us ladies from church had quite the adventure recently. We left on a Friday morning from my house and headed for Minneapolis. Jason Taylor, the JHi Youth Retreat Speaker and Ryan’s childhood friend, was staying the weekend with us. He was quite surprised when lots of people were all of a sudden at the house and he was still in his pajamas. We finally got on the road about 9am. With only one pit stop on the way, we arrived at the Mall of America about 1pm. It took a while to find parking and then we were inside this massive mall. Of course we needed to have lunch so I suggested Bubba Gumps. I felt horrible because it was expensive and not so great food. After lunch the ladies went on to shop. My buddy Renessa is still nursing and needed to take care of duties so I went back to the van with her and we chatted. About the time she was done and we went back into the mall, we had 20 minutes to shop. I made sure to find Victoria’s Secret and make a quick purchase before leaving. We walked through one other store before meeting up with our pals to head for the hotel. Our meeting spot happened to be near a Hooters. That’s so NOT a family restaurant. Who do they think they’re lying to? I couldn’t believe that there were young teenage boys in there and that the girls really do wear skimpy clothing. Outrageous!

We took the long way to the hotel, checked in, freshened up quickly and headed back South towards downtown. For as much time as we spent driving there, it would have been better to hang out at the mall a bit longer and go straight to the conference. After venturing through downtown with HORRIBLE directions trying to find the arena, we made our way into the parking ramp. Eventually we arrived at our seats – the nose bleeds. I’m not kidding you, we were in the second row from the top! It was great, you could see everything, it was just really small in size :) It was so good to sit in an arena with 18,000 other women to hear some great stories, see some great drama and worship.
I went last year and it was right after I got bucked off my horse and was still having massive headaches, back issues and couldn’t stay balanced when standing. This time I was refreshed, feeling good and teachable. What a difference that makes. I loved every bit of it, every speaker, every music artist – the whole weekend was wonderful. Saturday afternoon, Tammy Trent shared her story. Tammy is the singer who lost her husband while on the last day of their vacation in Jamaica – September 10, 2001. What a heart wrenching story. I had heard it before but there was newness this time and it was so much more personal. Plus she shared details that I had not heard her share before. I cried. Each time I’ve heard her talk, it has helped me to appreciate Ryan that much more. I have such a wonderful and loving husband. Tomorrow he might be gone forever so I need to make sure he knows how very special he is. At the close of the conference one of the speakers got up to tell us about the head stage guy. Friday night after the conference, he said he didn’t feel good and was going outside to get some fresh air. As he walked down the isle, he collapsed. They rushed to the hospital to find that he had a brain anurism and wasn’t looking hopeful. The guy is from Philedelphia and has a wife and 5 year old son. Life truly can be gone in an instant.
I left there Saturday night emotionally drained but encouraged. We had a great bonding time together and I look forward to going again next year. Next time we won’t count on internet directions to get us around and through the city :)
I'm not much for Halloween or that kinda stuff but I do like to see the kids and their cute costumes. Since we live 3 miles out, we went to a buddies house in Ellkader and passed out candy. It was fun since I knew some of the kids from working here in town and coaching/reff-ing soccer. I was mean and told the kids who didn't have costumes that they needed them and just gave them cheap candy instead of the good stuff. That makes me mad - totally beggars! It was interesting because we were at Ryan and Jen Royer's house. Dr. Royer was a vet school buddy of my Ryan's and so we're good friends. But because Dr. Royer works here at the Elkader clinic and I work here in Elkader, while each of our spouses work in other towns, I'm often asked if I'm Ryan Royers wife. We got married a month apart and so its totally confusing to people who really don't know us. Last night, I answered the door once by myself and then Ryan Royer walked up behind me to check out the costumes. I could just imagine the thoughts of the parents outside: "so that’s what Dr. Royers wife looks like". I told Ryan I couldn't answer the door without his wife anymore! Creates too good of rumors in town here.

29 October 2004

Ah, the joys of laying out the practices in the field. I’m such a whiner. When I sit at my desk all day, I complain I never get out to the field. And days when I’m stumbling through corn stalks helping Dave lay out terrace projects, I just wish my lazy butt could be back in the office. The last terrace that I assisted with was 0.9 miles long. Yeah, just one terrace on the farm with lots more to be done there. Walking through cornstalks sucks. Some of the stalks are so tough that I could stand and put all my weight on them and they don’t budge, they’re like little trees. My shins usually get pretty roughed up while the guys are tall enough they can step right over them. PTL, we just got a “new” guy here at the office. He’ll be working Monday and Friday which means he’ll take my place in the field. And for terrace layout, I’d gladly give that up

27 October 2004

I kinda changed my links on the side so check them out.
ps. Ryan, when I try Eric's website it works.
About the middle of the month, Ryan’s Grandma and Grandpa Buitenwerf came up to visit for the weekend. We had such a fun time with them. Friday evening we viewed some old pictures with them. We also had a nice supper together. The highlight of the evening was sitting around listening to Gram B play old hymns on our piano. Oh, it was such fun! I wish that I was blessed with musical and vocal talents. Saturday we cruised around the country side in cold and windy weather. We stopped at this apple farm in WI which was no comparison to Gays Mills, a place that Ryan’s grandparents visit annually. By request, we ventured up along the Mississippi River to Gays Mills. It’s a big apple orchard that brings lots of visitors each year. Apple orchards aren’t as common here as back in Kingsburg which explains why people flock to them. We taste tested apples, drank some cider and had a good time looking around. We purchased some lovely honeycrisp apples, caramel, cider and apple butter. On the way back, we stopped at Pike’s Peak. This place is absolutely gorgeous – what a great overlook of the mighty Mississippi. The Autumn leaves are just full of color and the air was cool and crisp – a little too cool for me. That night we had supper at the all famous Sabor Latino, the only “real” Mexican restaurant for miles. This place is so good! My folks joined us for supper and afterwards we went back to our house and taught them to play Mexican Train, a dominoes game. Sunday after church, Mom and Ralph had coffee and chatted with G&G B while we were in a meeting. We all had lunch at moms and the grandparents left from there to go home. I think we all had a good time.

25 October 2004

Alpha Delta Chi - The Christian Sorority
I just wanted to send this to everyone so you can see what is going on with my old ADX chapter (theta) and what has been happening. They were recently contacted and interviewed for the Faith and Values section of the Fresno Bee. Well this comes out every saturday and in it today was this article. Check it out:

What fun stories to I have to share today? Oh, there’s been lots of things lately, let me begin with Cardinal baseball.
Last week we invited Sarah (one of our JV kids) and her dad, Marty, over for to watch the Cardinals baseball game. Both are die hard fans. Well, that happened to be the night that the Yankees went 14 or so innings and interrupted the Cardinals game. Fortunately they moved our game to the FX channel but unfortunately, we don’t have that channel. Marty had that channel at home but was a good sport and hung out with Ryan waiting for the Yankees game to end. It was about 10pm when the Yankees game ended, about the time that Marty was walking out the door to take his daughter home so she could get to bed. The poor guys, they ended up watching some game they didn’t really care about but they had fun. And it was fun to have them over. I had brought Heather (our friends daughter who is also Sarah’s age) home with me to hang out with Sarah. It was good for the two girls to meet since the JV Youth retreat was coming up and Heather wouldn’t know anyone else.
Last night, Marty calls and invites us over to watch the game at his house. Probably didn’t want to chance not seeing it at our place :) So, we at supper with them and watched the game. Sarah left for her church youth group activity (she’s in our youth group but doesn’t attend our church). Marty showed us around the house and talked a little about life as he knows it. His wife and he are divorcing and it was a very touchy subject but I’m sure he needed to chat with someone. The “chatting” was mostly about Cardinals baseball cards – they were both like little kids sharing their ancient cards. We headed back downstairs for the start of the game.
The guys watched as I read a book (and finished in one sitting I might add). It was called Learning to Breathe Again by Tammy Trent. Great book about how she’s walked through the last 3+ years after suddenly losing the love of her life in diving accident in Jamaica. Yeah, a must read but have some Kleenex ready. You can also listen on line at FamilyLife and click HERE. It was so good that I read while we drove home from Marty’s, while waiting for Ryan to finish brushing his teeth and put it down briefly for our bible reading. I picked it right back up when we were done and read till almost 1am this morning when I was finished. Oh, so good!

14 October 2004

The following is an excerpt from LifeFocus' Challenge Newsletter. It was written by Jerry Foster, Financial Planner, CEO and founder of Foster Group. He's also one of the speakers for Family Life Marriage Conferences - where we ran across him. Take a look at what he had to share this month:

The underlying question that most of us ask ourselves is; "How do I get from here to there?" We have all created an ideal by which we live, strive for improvement and measure our success. The first thing we need to determine is where we are getting the information that determines the criteria we use to create that ideal. What we are talking about is "success". How do you define success? The input we get for creating our own definition of success comes from television, movies, billboards, commercials, books, magazines, friends and even church. We are impacted by the way our culture sees success and that means virtually everything around us influences the way we think. The key to resisting the alluring temptation of "cultural success" is to create a personal success filter. This filter is built by internalizing several strategic questions that will help us determine what is most important to us as we evaluate opportunities and make strategic choices. The way this happens is to take part in what I call "The Life Reflection Exercise". Imagine this scenario:
See yourself in your nineties, moving a little more slowly, but still mentally sharp. You step out onto the deck of your cabin by the lake, a favorite vacation spot of yours for decades. You ease into a comfortable chair to enjoy another glorious sunset. Caught up in the wonder of the moment, you begin to reflect on your long and pleasant life. The memories flood back, and even the stunning radiance of the setting sun is no match for the glow of satisfaction and fulfillment that warms your heart.
Putting yourself in this ideal setting, what do you hope you could say about the life you have experienced? In other words, what would you like to see as your life draws to a close?
You see, you have defined the life you want to live. This is your personal definition of success. In order to have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with the life you have lived requires intentionality. Here are some strategic questions that need to be answered:
1. What accomplishments have been the most rewarding for you? Why?
2. What brought you the most excitement and joy? Why?
3. What relationships meant the most to you?
4. What did those relationships look like?
5. Where did you have the most influence?6. What words do others use to describe you?
These questions help you create a filter for creating your preferred future and give you a basis for making decisions and forging new paths in your life. Whatever choice you are making, or whatever goals you are putting before you, ask yourself this question;
How will this choice or new opportunity change my answers to the above questions?
If the outcome will enhance the picture of your preferred future, then go for it. If it alters it in a compromising way, then it requires some rethinking.There is one last question we must ask ourselves when painting a picture of our preferred future.
What needs to happen today in order for that preferred future to become a reality?
You are now on the way to pursuing the life you want under your terms. Don't let others tell you what your life should look like. The outcome of your life is a personal journey that is forged out in the context of what is important to you.
Until next month, enjoy your personal journey of "influence".

For more information on lifeWealth, check it out at www.lifewealthstrategies.com

12 October 2004

Praise the almighty for paid holidays! Yeah, I had a nice 3-day weekend in honor of Columbus. And as usual, another busy weekend is gone. Our company ended up not coming till Saturday which gave me some time to pick up the house. That was very nice to have done and not worry about. Saturday I coached some 4th-6th graders in soccer which is always a blast. I had the typical go-getters and lazy kids. What fun! The Tafoyas showed up around 1pm for the quick visit. We ate a few meals, played with William (the goat), fought off Asian Beetles and chatted. The two kids (10 and 8 years old) did a good job of entertaining themselves by finding things to play with. Sunday morning we all had a wonderful breakfast that Ryan made. We headed off for church and they headed home. It was a short visit but good to see them.

Yesterday I just got to hang out and not be too rushed about a whole lot. I cleaned the JV room in the basement, had a nice chat with the Culligan Man, had lunch with my honey, designed the JV retreat t-shirt on the computer and hung out with friends. Things were so nice and relaxing until I started cooking. I made a cheeseburger casserole, wild rice soup, breaded shrimp and raspberry dessert. That was a little difficult in itself. For those of you who know me well - I really can cook :) The problem came when I was in the middle of making wild rice soup and didn't have chicken broth. I sub'd it for cream of chicken and decreased the amount of half and half to put in. Well, it didn't have the flavor I expected and I should have used more cream but it was still good. Then while making the casserole, I found that I didn't have any eggs. A quick drive to the neighbors fixed that. Renessa and I were in the kitchen cooking and playing with Caleb (her 8 month old son) while the guys were out tearing off our old porch. It got a little crazy in the kitchen but things turned out okay.

Renessa and I are growing much closer and she's a wonderful friend. I'll be sad to see them go when the go into full time ministry and leave our area. Just as I'm getting used to having a girl friend that is my age. I've threatened to follow her and Ryan (her husband) when they meet with people for support raising. I thought I'd meet with them and ask them not to support them so they'll stay local. Its been a fun joke and I wouldn't do that at all but I will miss them as God leads them away.

Last night, after our company was gone, Ryan and I were chatting. He told me that Denise (our friend who's been in Ethiopia for over a year doing veterinary missions) is home. She emailed him about getting together for a super bowl party like old times. Well, I was okay with that. Then Ryan told me that he invited her to Thanksgiving at our house. I was quite surprised that he invited her without asking since he hates when I spring something on him like that. He proceeded to say "since mom and dad are going to be here and she's always been dad's favorite". About that time, my mouth dropped wide open. That kinda hurt. He might as well have said "Tammy, since Denise is dad's favorite, I want her here for Thanksgiving". I didn't know to be hurt or pissed at him. I just put my head down, bit my tongue and sat for a minute. Ryan didn't say anything else and since just before these comments I mentioned taking a shower and going to bed, I got up and did just that. I knew that if I said anything to him, he would be so defensive with me and nothing would get across for communication. Denise is great and wonderful but there was a time when I questioned if Ryan liked her instead of me, if I was 2nd best to her. This, of course, didn't make things any better. I know, I know, I'm the one he married and goes home to every night, etc. I just shared all these things with Cori but I hate having to eat my own words! Denise is great and I'm excited to see her but Ryan's words were quite a surprise to me. I almost want to blurt out "Well then, you marry her and let her fix you supper, launder your clothes, pay your bills and feed your animals!". Yeah, obviously I have a little work to do with my attitude. Don't get me wrong, I love Ryan and wouldn't wish for anything else but I was so ticked. So, pray for me and my stinky attitude!

Not much else noteworthy. Just another cram packed week ahead. I'm looking forward to the Women of Faith conference in 10 days or so. I'm also looking forward to hearing about Cori's new adventure. I'll never forget when she tried to hook me up with Will by "marketing" me while she was introducing me in front of our whole class one day. Now, she's got another perfect boy that she refers to as a "non-sinner". That status means that he's not someone who would date her typical friends. She wants me to hook him up with someone I know - maybe an ADXer. He works in our Visalia office. So, I'll find out more about him for you girls I :o)-->-----<

08 October 2004


Oz was great last night. Dorothy did an amazing job - especially for a 14 year old girl. The cast was great, the scenery was very appropriate and there was even some pyrotechnics. Yeah, a big show for little Elkader. Its almost like being on Broadway! After the play, went went back to Jen and Ryan's. And as always, we had a great time with the Royers. The two Ryans share and re-live fun veterinary stories . Of course, Jen and I appreciate a little variety in our conversations. Last night was a bit interesting when we got into politics since Jen was the only democrat in the house. But we had a great time. When the clock started chiming midnight, it was well past time for us to leave. So, this morning I'm exhausted. With 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep, I'm dragging. And we have compnay coming and I need to clean. Fortunately God knows I need some time to clean and sleep. Rick called this morning and shared that his son won't be back till late from his field trip. That means that they wouldn't arrive here till midnight so they've decided to leave in the morning. HOORAY! I can clean and sleep. AND, this is a 3-day weekend for me. WOO HOO!

07 October 2004


Did you know that the word Oz comes from the word Australian? I find this a very interesting thought to ponder as I will be sitting at the theatre watching the Wizard of Oz with Ryan and a few friends. Last time we saw a play with the Royers, it was Run For Your Wife. It is a British comedy and although hilarious, I was quite embarrassed that I invited some friends to see it. I’m not sure which was worse, that every other sentence was a sexual innuendo (I didn’t know what a british comedy was) or that much of the audience fell into the over 50 crowd. Here were all these “old” people watching a “dirty” play. And I was there too. Tonight’s entertainment should be much more family friendly although I’m disappointed that I won’t be seeing Jay (the pharmacist in town) wearing make-up and I won’t be seeing one of the local chiropractors playing a gay character.

It seems like everytime I post something, I comment on how BUSY we are. That continues to be the case, of course. Last Friday, Ryan and I worked half days and then left for Minneapolis. We’ve learned that the only way to travel is with a book on CD. It makes 3-4 hour drives much easier to travel. That evening we splurged and went to Taco Bell for supper. Its been years since I’ve had Taco Bell (with the exception of when I was home in June). The location and price range really got our attention quickly. Plus it was a Friday night in a “big city” and I didn’t want to wait to be seated. After scarfing down several tacos and a nacho bell grande, we headed across to the mini mall for a walk. While there, we got some good Christmas shopping done. Saturday we headed downtown for a conference at a beautiful church. Sat all day for that and when it was over, got back on the road. Stopped at the Old Chicago for supper and headed towards home. We had planned to stay one more night to join some friends at church for the dedication of the twins but Ryan had a cold and didn’t need to give it to the twin babies and staying another night in the hotel won’t help us save money for the garage we’d like to build. So, we got home around 10pm. Sunday morning, we were “bedside Baptists” and didn’t go to church. Ryan still wasn’t feeling well so we had breakfast together (which is rare) and watched a service on TV.
I thought Monday morning would never end. I sat at my desk on the phone with different people ALL morning. One of those days that nothing gets accomplished for the benefit of my office but everyone else got some assistance. Monday afternoon I left for Des Moines for work. I serve on the state Civil Rights Advisory Committee (CRAC) which takes me to DM for meetings. Monday night I made arrangements to meet with Mike and Naphtali Crouse for supper. Mike was called active and went to the middle East a few months after I got here. He was gone for 8 months and I’ve been eager to see him again. Naphtali, last I heard (2 years ago), was mad at me for hanging out with Mike (LONG story). Needless to say, I had very mixed feelings about seeing them. I was so nervous that I was almost shaking, I felt like it was my first job interview or something. We had supper together, visited for a bit and I jumped back in my car and headed for the hotel. Monday I sat in a meeting till 2pm and then got in my car and started down the road AGAIN. Picked up groceries on the way home and pulled in the driveway @ 7pm. In just four days, I put over 1,000 miles on my car. Yeah, a lot of time sitting on my fat butt. Tuesday night we had plans to have some friends over for supper. (Do any of you remember Hugo, the 90 year old, who talked at my wedding?) Yup, Hugo and Gladys were supposed to come over but in the mix of travel, I forgot to call and confirm details (since we missed them at church on Sunday) and I also forgot to call and reschedule. I felt horrible. So, I got groceries put away and immediately had numerous phone calls to return. One of which was to Rick Tafoya. Rick used to be the USDA laiason at Fresno State when I was a USDA scholar. He’s now working in Iowa for NRCS (like me). Yeah, so I called him and he confirmed that he would be bringing the family (his wife, 2 kids plus a 6 month old) up for the weekend. We had an open invite to him and Monday he called to see what our weekend looked like. So, here it was 730 Tuesday night, I’m exhausted from traveling and I now have company coming on Friday. Need I remind you that I had been gone that weekend so clothes were laundered and the house didn’t receive its routine weekend cleaning? No big deal, I have 2 nights right.. Wrong! Wednesday night is JV youth group and tonight is Wizard of Oz. So, I warned Rick that the house won’t be spic and span clean like I’d prefer. He didn’t seem to care since I went down and helped them move into their house and unpack boxes when he moved to Iowa. So, its Thursday, my house is not as dirty as it was, but its not clean either. Yikes. I’m waiting for the magic fairy to show while we’re at the play tonight. We’ll see what happens.

On other fronts… has there been anything else??? Things at work are good but continue to be wildly busy – especially with my collateral duties that I have. I guess the big thing as usual is that I miss my friends. PTL though, I got to chat with Weenie for a whole hour the other day without interruption of her daycare kids. Today, right now, I especially miss my ghetto Fresno girls – Cori and Katie. Katie seems to have fallen off the face of the earth so I miss her. I do get to chat with Cori which really makes me miss her too. I eagerly await the visit of Ryan’s folks. For one, they’re great, even though they’re “in-laws”. I’m excited to see them and for our parents to get together again and hang out. Plus, we (or should I say “I”) loving having guests in our home. I love entertaining even though I really don’t know how to. I’m also looking at a very busy calendar in the near future. This weekend the Tafoya’s are coming. Next weekend is Ryan’s Grandparents. The weekend following that I’m headed to the Women of Faith conference in Minneapolis (while Ryan deals with the Junior High Retreat for NAB conference). That’s the basics I guess. I’m so thankful that Fall is here, the leaves are gorgeous, I have a great view from my office desk! Crisp autumn air, football and hot chocolate are so good to imagine if I ever slow down enough to enjoy them. God is SO, SO good. I’m enjoying having a quiet time and reading through the Psalms. I wish I had/took more time to do that.

Oh, that reminds me… I was cleaning in the spare bedrooms for our company and came across an old journal from around the time I graduated college and moved out here. What fun that was but that’s another post and another day! I gotta go see the Yellow Brick road.

27 September 2004

Small world

Holy cow Carrie, I can't believe you would ask that about NE Iowa. People from Iowa generally don't know much about NE Iowa. There's no interstates up here which keeps most people away. Which is also what helps make this such a wonderful place to live. Tell your friend that I am very familiar with the Pizza Well - its the place we order pizza when its someone's birthday here at the office. And camping at Osborne, well I've never done that because I live so close by but I've been there on many occasions and checked out the buffalo, elk and different plants.

I can't believe someone that you know in Scotland knows where I live... its a small world afterall!
Do you ever feel bad for leaving work and going home even when you have piles of things to get through? I feel like a rat in one of those little spinning deals – working my butt off and going no where. We’ve been in our new office for about a month now and I still have one box to unpack. There are days when I know that I could use a few hours of uninterrupted time at the office. But when 5pm roles around, I usually head out the door. Then Saturday morning comes and I know that I could get a few things accomplished at the office. Its tempting, really, it is but I manage to keep my butt home and do things around the house. It seems like this past Saturday was the first weekend I wasn’t out and about doing something.

The morning started with the phone ringing at 5am. Within 15 minutes Dr. Ryan was out pulling a calf and treating the cow. So, I practiced being a good wife and had breakfast made when he walked in the door at 630am. Yeah, a little early for a Saturday morning but it was fun to have breakfast together – even if I couldn’t find the syrup without Ryan’s help. Ryan went back to work after eating and I spent the rest of the morning balancing checking accounts and laundering clothes. That afternoon I cleaned the house and received a pleasantly surprising phone call from Barb and Rolly (who I lived with the 3 weeks before the wedding). We ended up at their house that night for supper and played Quiddler which is the card game of short words. It was a new game to Ryan and I but we caught and quickly. I was quite proud of myself when I came up with words like “keg” (when I was helping Rolly) and “queer”. Yup, I even won but we played with pretty loose rules.

Sunday I had a hard time focusing on the sermon. Pastor Lee started relating it to flying model airplanes and my mind started wondering off to other things. There were lots of prayer requests prior to the sermon and those people were on my mind. Two guys in our church are facing cancer treatments and one caught it just early enough to not deal with it. Kenton lost his wife 2 weeks ago and my heart still aches for him. Lots of needs in our community but I’m thankful that we have a community who knows the value of communicating with God.

After church, we ate frito boats and then I went upstairs to take a nap and try to get rid of a headache. Ryan headed out on more calls. Sometime around 4pm, our friends Ryan & Renessa came over to hang out. They are lovely people and dear friends. Their 8 month old Caleb is a doll too. Anyway, she brought over this awesome apple crisp that I couldn’t wait to eat. Ryan grilled steaks for supper and I fixed my favorite potatos and a green salad. It was such a good time hanging out with them. They’re currently raising support to go into the mission field with Athletes in Action. Renessa was working up at the college when she decided to be a stay-at-home mom and wife. Ryan was teaching at the middle school and didn’t renew his contract because he couldn’t commit to a full year of teaching. So, they’re trusting God for their finances as they meet with people in hopes of raising 100% of their support to go on board with AIA. Join me in praying that God will provide the money as well as the patience they need to go where God leads them.

Today was another long day. I did finally get my new lenses for my eye glasses. That’s been a royal pain and the optometrist’s office is not my favorite right now. My eye exam took 2 hours, they told me that dialating my eyes might make them too blurry to be driving or working AS they dialated them. I went to get my lenses and they wouldn’t fit. I went back today to get them and they were closed for lunch even though they had previously said they don’t close for lunch. I had to go back later and then the lady at the desk couldn’t tell me what I owe. Each irritation isn’t so bad but when you put them all together, it’s so annoying that I just need to whine about it.

Fortunately while I was in town I picked up tickets for us and the Royers to go to the Wizard of Oz production by our local actor peoples who are wonderful. AND, I picked up a book from the salon to look at different haircuts. I’m so ready to chop my hair off. Any suggestions on what I could/should do?
Check out my lovely picture I called LEAP OF FAITH It was my farewell hoorah - a bunch of us when floating down the river. And me, somewhat scared of heights, jumped out of a tree into the river.

20 September 2004

I’ve been kinda bummed in this whole blogging thing. I think it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. Everyone can read the details of my exciting and not-so-exciting adventures. But I don’t feel like that is happening. I would think that after a few weeks of not posting you would start letting me know that you want an update. Only one person has done that. Maybe my rural life isn’t all that entertaining. Maybe you don’t ever read what I have to share. Or maybe you’re too busy or too lazy to make comments. Most of you who know me also know that I don’t like to be the one to make all the effort. After a making several attempts at contacting someone or inviting them over or whatever the case may be, I quit when I feel like it’s a one sided effort. There are a few (my folks, Weenie, the Az B’s) that I keep in touch with regularly enough that they usually know what’s going on in my life. Are we all SO busy that we can’t contact each other or even keep up by internet?

What I’ve been up to… lots of course but we’ll see what I can recall to write down. Work has been super duper busy. Ryan’s been off doing the guy thing each weekend lately which has been really good for us. He gets some guy time and I piddle around here and there. One Friday night when Ryan was gone, I went to mom's for a movie. Kinda erie so DJ (my dalmation) and I ended up crashing at her house. Saturday I refereed soccer for 3 hours and even got a slight bit of a tan. So good to see some tan lines since I have only been out a few times this "summer". Had a couple friends over that afternoon and watched the Iowa v. ISU football game. That was fun, we ate lots of food and yelled plenty. Then Sunday after church we went fishing. Not exactly my idea of fishing but I had a good time. Richie and his 2 daughters joined us. Good thing b/c Ryan was out running calls and only fished for about 10 minutes max. It was a hoot helping the girls put a worm on their hook and take fish off for them. Sunday night the folks came over for supper, Monday Ryan stacked wood and I cleaned. Tuesday we had the Osmundson clan over. One of their sons is the guy who trained my wild horse. It was fun - they have 4 kids and I played some with the youngest who wouldn't even talk to me when I first moved here. Tuesday night she wouldn't leave me alone. My folks came over that night too b/c I know that Mom really likes Becky (the wife/mom). Wednesday we taught the JHi youth like usual and then last night we had over some other friends. We ate a sweet meal (that I made) of pork tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes and salad. After dinner the guys when outside and smoked a cigar and drank a beer while Leanne and I chatted in the house. She was so cute - their older son is Ryan's age and they forget that we're the age of their kids.

Its been a busy week but I've loved all the entertaining. Friday morning Ryan headed to Des Moines for Promise Keepers. A must do for all men. I was looking forward to some time alone to pick up some old sewing habits. Friday afternoon though I decided that it would be a great opportunity to meet with some of the HS girls from church that I’m hoping to be a positive influence on. Erin and I went to the Freshman football game to watch her brother Matt (who was our favorite JV kid last year). After the game we picked up pizza and watched a chick flick at my house. Erin utilized our guest bedroom for some shut eye. Saturday morning mom didn’t feel good so we didn’t go to the craft show. I was going to pot some plants and play outside in the sun when the phone rang. Some friends needed help with their kettle corn booth so I spent my day there instead. Came home with some cute d├ęcor things. Potted the plants and then headed to Sabor Latino for supper with the folks. After that we watched one of Ralph’s new movies. My honey came home, the folks left a little bit later and we visited for a while. Sunday was a good service. After church, I played around the house, took a short nap and starting mowing in the pasture. Good times. That’s about it. I gotta get home now so that I can plant some iris’ and some day lilies that were given to me.

03 September 2004

another week is gone
Do the math and it comes to 168 hours. If you sleep 8 hours a night, it still leaves 112 hours. If you work full time, it still leaves you 72 hours. So, what did you do with your time? Was it worth it? I value my time and often complain that there’s not enough hours in the day but is that really true? What did I do with my time?

Friday – stayed home “sick”. Piddled around the house cleaning and stuff. Picked up a few groceries. Jesse came over for dinner and hung out with us. He and Ryan played video games.
Saturday – canned tomatoes in the morning with my mom. Went to lunch with Ryan and the folks and then went home and piddled around the house with decorations and some cleaning.
Sunday – went to church in the AM. Went home and read for a while and napped till about 4pm. Then got up, made some cornbread cake and went to a church potluck in the evening.
Monday through Friday – worked full days
Monday PM – Began cleaning the basement.
Tuesday – Finished cleaning the basement. Watched the gold medal game for Women’s soccer (Ryan taped it for me cause he’s sweet like that and knows I like soccer)
Wednesday – First night back at teaching AWANA junior high youth group. Went to a planning meeting for the junior high retreat.
Thursday – Ran to have some work done for a Christmas present. Visited with some friends I hadn’t seen since I got married. Multi-tasked driving to another friends house (I was super late) and chatting with Baker on the phone. Had dinner and watched a movie with the Zurbriggen’s.

Now, we’re back to today. A whole week has gone by. Did I use my time wisely? Perhaps. It was good fellowship time that’s for sure. But it was difficult and a failing attempt to find some quiet time. Did I “serve” God as He would desire of me? Hmm, hard question to answer. What about you. Have you given it all to God, walked with Him, talked and listened too? Let me challenge you to do so – experience God. We all need a little encouragement to do so.

I found a cool acrostic to share:
M—Maximize His Needs; Minimize His Faults
A—Admit Your Need for His
R—Rule Over Your Tongue
R—Resist the Tendency to Control Him
I—Invest in His Natural Gifts and Talents
A—Admit Your Mistakes
G—Go Often to the Lord in Prayer with Him
E—Engage the Gears of Sex in the Right Order

and another cool quote:
“How can two walk together unless they be in agreement.” (In Amos somewhere).

31 August 2004

My mind is so overloaded with thoughts and emotions. My list of things to do keeps getting longer. I must need a vacation, right? Problem is that I’ve had some time off and it hasn’t solved my problem. Today, I’ve made dumb errors. One is that I left the keys in the ignition of my work pickup overnight. And more than that, the windows were down and some expensive equipment was inside. This afternoon I printed out some address labels but had misspelled “Clayton”. Not much after that, I made some copies of a document and thought it didn’t appear to be right. When I got to the counter to explain things to the landowner, I had blank copies. Yeah, I just need to stop and think a bit.

So, we’re in our new office building at work. Its nice – has good and bad about it. I like being in a new building with some decent furniture and constant temperature (even if I am a bit cold). But its so open and sound carries too well. We car hear everything going on near us. I don’t want to hear everyone else’s conversations and I don’t want them to hear mine :)

We start our first week of AWANA on Wednesday night. Please think of us and we “lead” the JV group in our home another year. I’m sure it will be a challenge for all of us to get used to. In the mean time, off to work I go to finish cleaning the JV room (aka basement).

30 August 2004


29 August 2004

A powerful senator dies after a prolonged illness. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to Heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the guy. "Well, I'd like to but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose where tospend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator.

"I'm sorry but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a club and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him, everyone is very happy and in evening attire. They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar.

Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on Heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him. "Now it's time to visit Heaven."

So 24 hours pass with the head of state joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

"Well then, you've spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now choose your eternity."

He reflects for a minute, then the senator answers, "Well, I would never have said it, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in Hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. The Devil comes over to him and lays his arm on his neck. "I don'tunderstand, "stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and club and we ate lobster and caviar and danced and had a great time. Now all there is, a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.

The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning..Today you voted for us!"
The Two Wolves
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. " One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self -pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. " The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness , benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. " This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too." The children thought about it for a minute and then one child asked "Which wolf will win, grandfather?" The old Cherokee simply replied... "The one you feed."

26 August 2004

I love our older generation. They have so much to offer us, so much to teach. They’re often times a living history and what fun they can be when they make themselves an open book. Grandparents are especially wonderful. They tie us to our family heritage, they love us and often times spoil us. Often times as they age, they vocalize their opinions a little more and though it’s out of love, the tact isn’t there. Its something we experience most visits to Ryan’s grandparents. They are wonderful people and we absolutely love to visit them except for one thing – the tact issue. The time we get to spend with them, sharing of family history, the fresh baked pie, the goodies they send home with us are often spoiled before we ever leave.
This past week we spent three nights with G&G B. They opened their home so that we could putt around. We got in late Thursday night and went to bed. Friday we spent the day at the fair and then had supper with some friends in Des Moines. Saturday morning we had a little more time in Prairie City. It was that morning that the hurtful words came pouring out. This also happened last time we were down. At that time, Grandpa was in the hospital and I confronted Grandma about the issue. I think I was clear in letting her know that it was inappropriate, hurtful and shouldn’t continue. Anyway, this time was Grandpa. Although he says things from a big and loving heart, it comes out wrong. I didn’t know it happened until later that afternoon and was quite upset that I wasn’t there to intercede. So Saturday we went on with our day and Ryan was adamant on not going back to PC until later that night. We came home and went to bed again. Sunday morning I was on guard and pretty much waiting for something to be said. I really tried to be so irritated about it but wasn’t succeeding. We worshipped at church – the message was wonderful and then went back for lunch. It was quite fun, Grandma B and I walked around the garden as she showed me the different things she had planted. But still, I was waiting to defend my Ryan. It’s so interesting that they make comments about Ryan’s weight but in the next sentence tell him to eat more pancakes and eat the rest of the bacon. Anyway, we sat down for lunch and they questioned why Ryan wasn’t eating more. I think I was so frustrated at this point that I just wanted to address this issue before anything more hurtful was said. But I didn’t. And so, Ryan and I eventually left to drive back home. Unfortunately, when people say hurtful things and his self esteem drops even more, I’m the one who gets to deal with it and TRY to build it back up.
So, next time I begin to open my mouth (even in a loving way), I hope that I can think back to these sorts of incidences. And when I wonder why Ryan takes everything I say as negative, I hope that God reminds me to love him even more and speak words that build and encourage. I think that I speak the truth in love and it doesn’t mean it’s accepted as such. So, I hope I choose my words very carefully.

19 August 2004

This is my newest photo. Mom took it when we were shopping for wedding flowers in February of 2003. I love it because it wasn't staged. Umm, I like Ryan! Posted by Hello
Yay, its Friday - sorta!
Its after noon on Thursday but it so feels like Friday to me. I'll be heading home shortly to finish up my beerock's that I started making last night. Check out the recipe online - I use hamburger meat instead of roast. I can just taste them! Then when Ryan comes home, we'll head down to Prairie City. Tomorrow will be a full day of the 150th Iowa State Fair. It will be fun to see all the exhibits, eat good food and hang out with Ryan. I'm eager to see the Butter Cow. Every year a lady makes cow sculpture out of butter. I remember seeing it my first summer in Iowa. Saturday we plan to hang out with some local friends - a highschool buddy of Ryan's who just moved back and my friend, Mike Crouse, who was in Iraq/Afghanistan for a year and a half and got back recently. Sunday we'll do the family thing - have lunch with Ryan's grandparents after church. So, it should be a nice but busy weekend. Hope my feet can handle all the walking, I'm sure they'll be sore. May you enjoy your Friday - whenever it is!

13 August 2004

Okay, so I seriously haven't written back to people. I feel like I'm always saying that but seriously its crazier than usual here. Lots going on at work - my desk keeps piling up. Been trying to spend my summer hours outside and hanging out with those that I need to get to know better. Also had a good friend in a car accident last week where he walked away and his best friend died. That's been difficult around here but praise God that He's in control. Josh the day before had been witnessing to a new employee and told him "...if I die tomorrow, I know I'll go to heaven..." And the next day he died. What a witness to that guy! So, trying to keep my head out of water. I've slept in my bed but haven't been home for 2 weeks basically. Its wild. Then I'm gone at meetings lots which makes work even more hectic. I'm loving it though. Life is so good. I've really been challenged lately about my personal walk. Wanted Ryan to lead me so I completely used his lack of leadership as an excuse. Sure, I was reading the Word most everyday with Ryan and doing some study but I wasn't fellowshipping with teh Lord like I needed. So, my week has been started on teh right foot every morning and its so nice, so nice! I lay in bed awake and pray that I'll have the prompting to get up and read - duh, that is the prompting!!!! I've been at it this week - stretching out my sore muscles and having quiet time. Oh, I've missed that. So, pray with me that I keep my lazy butt working at it - God is so deserving and I'm such a slacker!

12 August 2004

Finally the time came when we headed off on our camping adventure. Both of us enjoy camping and have talked about it numerous times – we even registered for camping items for the wedding. But we just never actually camped together until last weekend.

It was Ryan, me, mom, Ralph and the Brubakers (Kathy, Erin & Matt). Oh and lets not forget the dogs: DJ (our dalmation), Zachery (mom’s teacup poodle) and Lucky (the Brubaker’s dalmation). Thursday I bought lots of food and did some minor preparations. Friday, Ryan came home at noon and began packing. I showed up about 130 and helped out. We had the back of our truck full of food, fishing equipment, firewood, etc. My folks met us at our house, we all headed to Brubakers, stopped for ice and were on our way. We camped up at Gouldsburg which is only a half hour from our house. The park consists of 64 acres at the confluence of the Little Turkey River and Crane Creek. The topography is rolling to hilly with desirable picnicking and a modern camping facility. It was so nice not having to drive hours and hours to get some where. The campground was pretty, set along side the Little Turkey River on one side and next to a soybean field on the other side. It seemed almost weird to me since I work in that type of environment and I live in the country. I could’ve camped at my own house for that matter except I wouldn’t have had all the exciting things that I’m about to share with you :)

There was a “faucet” to get water, only around here, they aren’t faucets. It seems kinda antique-ish to me, but they’re old pump handles. Like at our house, instead of turning the faucet nozzle, you pull up the old handle for water. Gouldsburg had an actual old hand pump where you had to pump it to get water to flow. It was pretty neat and my shoulders and arms really got a good work out. We camped just 2 spaces away from that. At the space in between, a family came in with 3 kids, a kayak and canoe. Their youngest, who was 3, really liked our dalmation and everytime we walked by, the little boy had to run up and pet DJ. Cute little kid. Friday night we fixed hamburgers, grilled some veggies Ralph-style, along with spinach dip for supper. Just after we sat down for our meal, the little boy next to us was out by the truck & trailer and he started crying. Of course everyone jumps up to go help him. His parents, one other camper who was getting water and I all went towards to boy. They got there first and the mom just started freaking out big time. She was screaming that the little boy got it stuck in his eye and just went nuts. The other guy grabbed the boy and saw that he got a hook from the fishing pole under his eyelid. The guy yelled to have someone go back to his campground for needle nose pliers so I hurried back and got mine out of my tackle box. As I brought him the pliers, it looked nasty. I was sure it poked through the eyelid but you couldn’t really tell with the tears and blood. Anway, the guy had to slap the moms hand away because she was trying to tear it out. The sisters (13 and 11) were also freaking out now because of their parents’ reactions. So, I walked off with the little girls. They guy ended up getting the hook out and they headed for the hospital. The family came back later and stopped to share with us the outcome. That little boy had walked along the side of the truck towards the trailer. The pole was in the bed of the truck with the end hanging down while the Dad went to get a different fly for it. It hung at perfect heighth for the little boy to walk past and it caught right under his eyelid. No scratches, no punctures, no nothing. The emergency room gave him antibiotics and sent him home. What grace! The little boy just said that the fishing pole bit him. That was more than enough drama for the weekend.

The rest of the weekend was so relaxing and peaceful. Ryan and I fished for a while Friday afternoon and I was having a great time walking through the stream and piddling around. Brubakers had to leave for a bit to pick up Erin from summer camp and we stayed behind and played dominoes and laid on a blanket on the ground. Sunday we all headed back to town to clean up and go to church. After church we went back to Gouldsburg to eat lunch, play some more dominoes and pack up. It was such a nice camping experience. Chit chatting, sitting by the campfire, s’mores, dominoes and lovely weather. Hmm, I need me another weekend like that!

09 August 2004

Wow, it truly does seem like time is flying. I’ve claimed that I was crazy busy in college and things have since slowed down. But more recently, I’m beginning to wonder if that continues to be true. Another whirlwind week has gone by and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down as of yet.
Last Tuesday was a full day at work with lots of things to accomplish. I began my day with a phone call to the chiropractor to have him adjust my jaw back into place. The receptionist, Peggy, scheduled me for 4:20. Not exactly what I was looking for but at least she could get me in. So, anyway, I work a full day with my jaw out of place which causes a nasty headache which then causes my eyes to be blurry. But hey, that’s life. I catch up with Dr. Ferguson who does his work and chit chats with me. So, I left the chiropractor office at 4:45pm for a 3 hour drive to Des Moines. The sky was darker than usual and rain was coming but I was sure that I’d make it during daylight hours. Thirty minutes down the road and listening to the radio, I hear of thunderstorms and tornado watches. I called Ryan and he agreed to keep me updated as the news came on the TV. A few minutes later mom called to tell me about it. She started naming the counties that I would be traveling through and they all had severe T-storms and tornado watches. I couldn’t even take the long route to get away from the storms. Since I was on my way, I decided that if it was still really bad in Waterloo (80 miles from my office) that I would consider staying the night there. I continued down the road and the sky darkened and quickly turned black. It was now raining pretty hard and the wind was blowing and it looked as if it was the middle of the night. Just before I got into Waterloo, I could no longer see the road in front of me because of the rain. Stopping on the highway is not a good idea so I continued to travel at a slow speed until I could stop. As I came to the I-380 interchange, I saw a line of cars that stopped. So, I pulled into the middle of the pack. Even though it continued to pour down, people were leaving. Knowing that the exit for Waterloo was just a ¼ mile up and the mall is right down the road from that, I got back on the road. Got into town, headed to the mall to assure that I was in a “safe place” should a tornado come and “waited” for the storm to pass. While I waited, I went on a mini shopping spree to Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy and a few other places. I got back on the road about an hour later after the brunt of the storm had passed.
I was scheduled for an 8am meeting in Des Moines the next morning and planned on staying with Ryan’s grandparents about a half hour east of DM. I went the Des Moines route with plans to have supper with some friends before staying the night in Prairie City. Here it was 7:15pm and I was still 2 hours from DM. Plans for supper were out the window by now, I just need to get to PC and go to sleep. Since I was heading towards DM instead of PC, I had to take an unfamiliar route to skip DM and get to PC. It had already been a long day, I still had a headache, the weather was bad, I didn’t get to see Mike and Naphtali and I didn’t know this road I had to take. Praise the Lord for just enough light for the road I’m on! Since I continued to drive through tornado watch and thunderstorm areas, the lightening portion of the storm was just amazing. Not only was it gorgeous to see off in the distance but the bolts of lightening lit up the sky almost continuously. The lightening provided just enough for me to see the road I was traveling. It was such a blessing. It really did calm my heart about driving on this unfamiliar road because I wasn’t totally in the “dark”. I arrived at G&G B’s about 9:15pm and visited a little while before heading off to bed.

Me and Mom from 1988 in El Paso, Texas Posted by Hello

The Buitenwerf Family Posted by Hello

07 August 2004

Okay, for my friends who don't get it... the pharmacist that the kid talked to ended up being the girl's dad. YEAH, that's why he said his prayers for so long!

I've been out of the office for several days. Spent some time in Des Moines for the State Civil Rights Advisory Committee (CRAC) and then some time at an Area District Conservationist meeting. Now, I'm back home but I've got lotsa stuff on my desk to deal with before I leave at noon today to go camping :)

03 August 2004

First Time
A girl asks her boyfriend to come over Friday night and have dinner with her parents. Since this is such a big event, the girl announces to her boyfriend that after dinner, she would like to go out and make love for the first time.
Well, the boy is ecstatic, but he has never had sex before, so he takes a trip to the pharmacist to get some condoms. The pharmacist helps the boy for about an hour. He tells the boy everything there is to know about condoms and sex.
At the register, the pharmacist asks the boy how many condoms he'd like to buy, a 3-pack, 10-pack, or family pack. The boy insists on the family pack because he thinks he will be rather busy, it being his first time and all.
That night, the boy shows up at the girl's parent's house and meets his girlfriend at the door. "Oh, I'm so excited for you to meet my parents, come on in!" The boy goes inside and is taken to the dinner table where the girl's parents are seated. The boy quickly offers to say grace and bows his head.
A minute passes, and the boy is still deep in prayer, with his head down. 10 minutes pass, and still no movement from the boy.
Finally, after 20 minutes with his head down, the girlfriend leans over and whispers to the boyfriend, "I had no idea you were this religious."

30 July 2004

Cori, I ate your pet for dinner one night when I was in Nicaragua last year. Posted by Hello

26 July 2004

wonderful weekend...
Oh how I love the weekends. Usually my Saturday involves cleaning up the house while Ryan works. But our maid (me) has been on vacation! Saturday morning Ryan headed to the office and I went outside and piddled around the flower beds. I plucked out lots of weeds that don't belong. Then I watered some of my potted plants and re-potted some others. After a quick shower, I headed for mom's house to play with Kaleb and Ryan. I took Kaleb to the Clermont Days Parade. Since Kaleb hadn't been to a parade before, he didn't even know what it was and definitely didn't grasp the whole candy thing. Thanks to the help of some college and HS kids from the area, he quickly learned. His to-die-for eyes got everyones attention and by time we left, he had two bags full of candy. Cody and Erin taught Kaleb that waving at people meant more candy and they were definitely correct. He had a blast and even tossed candy to the guy on the tractor that didn't have any to offer him :) Talk about a cute kid! He loved the clowns and tractors; we had a blast. After the parade, we went back to mom's for a bite to eat and a nap. The nap lasted about 5 minutes because he was so excited to go fishing instead. So, mom and Ryan joined us on our little fishing trip. We went to the pond at Gilbertson Park just outside town. Kaleb had fun watching his grammy cast out his line and then he liked reeling it back in. Needless to say we didn't bring home any fish but we had fun. Ryan went home and we dropped grammy off and headed back to Gilbertson. There we walked around the little "petting zoo" and through the informational building. That was fun too. I had a blast hanging out with him. Sunday morning mom and Ralph left to take the kids back home but it was great to have both of them here for a while. When I download my camera, I'll bring pictures.

21 July 2004

Me and my honey - we are so cute! Posted by Hello

20 July 2004

Its only Tuesday. Wait a second, my glass is half full – PRAISE THE LORD, its no longer Monday :) Lots going on in my little pea brain! I have the weirdest dreams. I wonder how Megan is, how the Sonksen’s and Whitney’s friends are mourning her death. I wonder why I’m afraid to confront someone I love when they’re making harmful decisions. I’m thankful to have so many friends involved in ministry but sad to see the Zurbriggen’s leave here. It amazes how God created our bodies so intricately – that a deer in the middle of the road can cause us to instantly break out in a sweat. I appreciate my little rural town where people value families and fellowship. The list goes on and on about the random thoughts in my head.

I had these wonderful plans yesterday. Leave the office at noon, get a haircut, go home for a quick shower, prepare a picnic for supper, take my nephew fishing and then meet up with Ryan for the HS baseball game. Well, things didn’t run so smoothly. I didn’t have the guts to chop my hair, instead she took off 2 inches. Then I get home, showered and started making chicken salad sandwiches. I quickly realized that we didn’t have any mayo in the house. I grabbed a burrito for a quick bite to eat and sat down to watch some design show while I ate. A news interruption came on to tell of thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch (a watch means that storms are forming in a patter that can create a tornado but a tornado has yet to be spotted) in the county. I debated on the whole fishing thing but the sky wasn’t too dark. So, I packed my fishing gear (what little I have), the picnic, a hat for the baseball game and headed off to moms. Kaleb didn’t take a nap and therefore couldn’t go fishing. I ended up taking him to the store to buy a fishing license and mayo. The place I thought sold fishing licenses didn’t and so we went on to the grocery store. Meanwhile Kaleb, who didn’t care to go with me to the store, talked non-stop. We stopped at the Ciszewski’s for a few minutes for Kaleb to play with their 4 girls. Mom called my cell to say that a tornado had been spotted 40 miles North and there was damaging sized hail. It started raining so we jumped in the truck and headed to my house for the tricycle. It just didn’t seem dark enough to be a major issue. While on the road, Ryan calls to say that he can’t meet me for the baseball game. The office staff scheduled him for a 430 appt (way too late) 25 miles from the office. Ryan would have to meet me at the game. We got the tricycle and headed back for moms hoping the weather would stay favorable. It’s not like we need anymore big rains anyway – we’ve had plenty of those this year. I made a few phone calls to see if the baseball game was still planned. Nobody knew so I mixed my mayo in with the chicken and headed off for the game. Just 15 minutes down the road was a road block. All I could think was “great, I only know one way to Fayette and the road is closed”. So, I asked the police officer and found out that it was just routed around an accident. Okay, to recap: I didn’t chop my hair as much as I planned, I didn’t take Kaleb fishing as planned and I didn’t get to meet Ryan for the game. We get to Fayette about the same time but neither of us knew where the baseball stadium is. After a quick tour of the town, we found the field. Fayette is the only town in America that has a university but not a high school (question from Who wants to be a Millionaire). The game started early in hopes to beat the weather so we missed the top of the inning. Our town is super supportive and the stands were full so we stood and watched over the homerun fence. Not my idea of fun at all. But within a few minutes, some friends had joined us in the “cheap seats”. Ryan snacked on a few chips and I ate sunflower seeds but we never did have our picnic. Leann invited us to come over after the game for supper and to hear some friends share about going into ministry. We had a great time hanging out with them. It was 11pm when we left the Carlson’s and way too late for us old married people. Good times even though the day didn't go quite as planned.
Today is Ralph’s birthday so I’m headed to mom’s to celebrate with them. Mom is cooking up ribs and some other good stuff. Happy Birthday Poops!

13 July 2004

UPDATE on Megan Babtista
This one was received Tuesday @1140am
Well, the praise comes first - Megan will be seen by a facial nerve specialist at Stanford on Monday! Yeah! God is good, all the time.

Next comes prayer - last night, the right side went paralyzed also, stopping her tear ducts, saliva, taste buds, and part of her hearing. She is having a really hard time choking down any food, and she can't close her lips or eyes anymore. It's really hard to understand her when she speaks - I have to be right in her face in order to "translate" what she's saying. This probably means that there is still bleeding and swelling going on in her skull - she sees a neurologist today at 1 PM. Whew - she really isn't out of the woods yet, but we know that God has a plan for all of this.

UPDATES on Megan Babtista
This one came Monday @504pm
On Megs - well, she had a setback on Thursday. Wednesday night, we noticed that her left eye looked a little droopy, but we figured that she was just swollen and tired, so we put her to bed. Thursday morning, she woke up unable to smile, and by Thursday evening she couldn't close her eye or her mouth on that side. We took her to her scheduled appointment with the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist for the bleeding out of her ear (who, incidentally, was trained in neurology and worked at Johns Hopkins) He confirmed that the left side of her face is paralyzed, probably due to the bleeding on the brain, and is referring her to a doctor at Stanford. He pointed out that the sooner we get her an appointment there, the better, since the longer she goes without treatment, the more permanent the damage becomes. We have left messages for the doctor she was assigned, but we have not received the call as of yet. She is really different now - her personality has changed somewhat, and she is really bitter and angry about the accident. Tulare County Sheriff Department is charging the boat driver with criminal negligence and involuntary manslaughter. Megs has a neurology appointment tomorrow in Fresno, and my appointment with the Gastrointoligist (sic) to schedule surgery is Thursday. Please pray also that she'll eat - it has become a huge fight, and my mom is about ready to shatter. Sorry, not a very encouraging report, but her recovery is going to be really slow and hard, and it does help to have people praying specifically for these things. God has a plan for all of this, and I praise Him for having broken me through these things. Take care, Tam - it was great to see you while you were here.

12 July 2004

Highlights from the weekend:
~ Ryan and I shared in celebrating the marriage of my friend Anna Cardwell to Hal DeLaRosby. I met Anna while in Nicaragua in January 2003. They will make their home in Waverly, about 1 ½ hours from us.
~ Ryan found 17 empty chocolate candy wrappers in the basement when we got home last night. Our dalmation had quite the meal while we were gone yesterday. Bad dog!
~ It took me way too long on Saturday but I gave the kitchen a very thorough cleaning. Ryan worked outside spraying weeds and in the basement all day.
~ Saturday night after the contemporary service, we joined the Rich/Cardo home for a jam session and fellowship time. Way relaxing and fun!