About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Did You Ever Have a Day When ...

Things just seem to fall together perfectly?

OK, so those days are pretty rare, but I actually had one today.

A lot of things went right.

Got an email from a local celeb, a radio personality from a morning show on one of the bigger stations in Cincinnati .... he is also a performer and he wants to come to Rezonate '08! HE contacted ME. Wow. That doesn't happen often. Not only that but since he's a radio guy he will plug the concert too. FREE advertising. I love it. And he's on at drive time when people are going to work so this is just ... awesome.

I also got another email today that Eliot Sloan of Blessid Union of Souls will be coming to Rezonate! Ever hear the song "Light in Your Eyes", or "I Believe"? I know you've heard them. If not, go over to Myspace now and give a listen. I think at least one of their albums went gold. The band is not coming, in fact, I think they may have broken up, but Eliot was the frontman and he'll be here! Cool! I'm a fan too. :)

Both of these guys know our friend Brian White, a song writer in Nashville who's latest hit "Watching You" was at #1 on the country charts for several weeks and has won all sorts of awards. He's also got a couple of Doves in his pocket. Some of you may remember him from Brian White and Justice from way back in the day. (Don't tell him I said 'way back in the day')

And then there's the doughnut tower.

That's right. A doughnut tower. Tomorrow is Logan's grad party. I think about 75 people are coming? Wow, I wasn't expecting that many but we've got the food to feed 'em so its all good. Since he is graduating from the HS and the Criminal Justice program, I'm doing a doughnut tower instead of a cake. Brian built a stand for it and I'm going to arrange 10 dozen or so doughnuts in an artistic manner (I hope) and then put a little statue of a cop on the top. I'll post pics tomorrow night but trust me - its SO cool. I wasn't sure it was going to work out, but oh yeah ... it will.

Quote

"I am still amazed at how big, how enormous a love and mystery God is -- and how small are the minds that attempt to corral this life force into rules and taboos, cults and sects."

-- Bono, foreword to They've Hi-Jacked God

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Meet the Crew: Ericka

Ericka is one of those crew members that I would be lost without. She is great about doing whatever is needed without any direction. She is as good in the kitchen as she is on the playground - and that's saying something because she's really, really good on the playground. I'm pretty sure she could put these trips together herself and lead them and she may well do that one day. Ericka is planning to be a teacher and the kids on the Reservation love her mightily. She always has two or three of them attached to her the whole week we are on the Rez. To watch her interact with the kids is to see her putting her giftedness into action.

How many years have you gone to the Rez with us?

This year will be my fourth trip to the reservation. So, I have been three times already.

What is something specific people can pray for you about?

People can pray that I am physically, mentally, and spiritually ready for the trip. I have found that the trip is often challenging in ways that I can't anticipate. Each year brings a new challenge and while that is one of the things that I love and learn a lot from, it can be very difficult while facing it.

What is the thing about the trips that has changed you and made you want to go back.

I feel that going on the mission trip allows my relationship with God to grow in a different way each time that I take this adventure on. I have also developed a great passion for the children, people, and relationships that are built on the trip (both within the crew and with the people living on the Rez). I have kept going back because I feel that it is something God has led me to do both for me and the children.

A Couple of Years Ago ...

A lot of folks would have thought this impossible.

Remember Carly, the little girl who was battling Leukemia? Two years ago it didn't look like she would make it. Doctors advised that the machines keeping her alive be unhooked and told her parents to prepare to lose their little girl. Anyone who visited her at Children's Hospital at that time would have understood why they might say that. It seemed impossible that she would recover. I however, knew she'd pull thought. ;) I'm only half kidding on that. I'm not kidding that I knew God could bring her through, but I am kidding that I think I have a handle of what God will do at any given time. I'm not sure anyone knows that and if they do, well, I'd advise running.

But see that pretty ballerina ..... that is Carly.... she has had her trach removed for a while now and is still on oxygen but can go for times without it. She recently did her ballet recital without oxygen.

I can't tell you how good it is to see her doing ballet and climbing trees.







Monday, May 26, 2008

A Needed Day Off

Not much of substance to say here lately. Its just been to hectic to think much, let alone blog about what I think. I know, that's probably a blessing to a lot of folks. Today we went to my mom and dad's and had Barbequed Ribs. The guys played corn hole and I showed them the video slideshow I made for Logan's graduation party. Then we went to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I think it may be the best one yet. I recommend it for a far-fetched, fun, action packed and funny movie. Great for when you just want to escape.

For family that are out of town and may want to see it (or for anyone else that doesn't feel tortured by other people's home movies) here is the video I did for Logan. I need to do one of these for Cody too sometime.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Things have been a bit crazy at our house lately. I'm juggling 3 different projects: Logan's graduation, the final prep for the Pine Ridge trip, and then as soon as we are home from that we have Rezonate '08. I keep thinking that I'm forgetting something. Normally by this time my dining room is full of boxes - so much so that I can barely get into the dining room. There are only a few in there now, which makes me feel like I'm overlooking ... something. I've no idea what. I think I feel that way because most of the boxes are in Cody's old room this year. So I think I'm OK.

I am looking forward to summer being over so I can breath again. Every day I wake up to a long "to do" list and I almost never make it through the list. I'm tired and the real work hasn't even began.

Speaking of Cody, he has now graduated from Miami University! I forget to mention that because he no longer lives at home and because he isn't going to his graduation and didn't want a party - he's just happy to be "done". He is doing an internship with Campus Crusade and is busy working 40 hours a week with that. This summer he is raising support and in the fall he'll be working on campus at UC. He and Allison are doing great - even though they gave me a shock the other day when they asked me what I thought of the name "Alysa". They assure me that they're ONLY talking names at this point, but I got a little excited there for a second. BTW, the pic is of Cody speaking at our church last week. Looks a bit like his dad, eh?

Taser has hurt her leg or hip. We're not sure what happened, whether its an injury or whether its the common hip problems that GSD's have. Since it came on suddenly, I'm betting its an injury. She was so tense (afraid) at the vets yesterday that her tight muscles kept her him joint in place and prevented the vet from being able to examine her properly so we're trying an anti-inflammatory for a few weeks to see if that helps. She is just not Taser. She can't run and play anymore and it breaks my heart.

Got a message on Youtube from somebody on the Rez. I have no idea who they are but they called me by name and are from "Atown" and they call themselves the Thugging Queen. Atown is what the teens call the village we go to. Its that gangsta thing they have out there. I always tell people its like going to the inner city without the city. They obviously know me, but a lot of the kids there do so that gives me no clue. Now I'm going to wonder....

I've got to go work on a bathroom duty schedule for the trip. The schedule is a nightmare. I hate doing it. So many people and so many factors to consider and I always overlook something. The bathroom duty schedule is going to be particularly difficult this year. I have a policy to help with meeting attendance - anyone who comes to all of the meetings does not have to do bathroom duty. The problem is - I have 4 men who have missed meetings and 7 days of bathroom duty to fill which is going to mean a LOT of bathroom duty for those 4 guys. One of those guys has missed almost every meeting - I don't feel too bad about scheduling him for a lot of BRD. Another is getting older and the trips are physically tough for him - I hate to do put him on BRD every other day because I know it will be hard on him. He won't complain, but I'll feel bad. And another guy has only missed one meeting in something like 3 years. It hardly seems fair to put him on that much either. The only one that has missed a lot of meetings and well deserves BRD is a kid that I'm not sure would do a decent job of cleaning the bathroom. Arrggghhh... there's just no good way to do this. I may just schedule it according to the policy and according to how much they've missed - which everyone was well aware of from the start, and then tell those guys who were at all the meetings that they have an opportunity to extend some grace to their teammates and then hope they will. Maybe it can be a lesson in grace? As if we don't have enough lessons with these trips already.

I keep forgetting in times like this, that I'm all about having fun. That this is an adventure, not a burden. But I'm not having fun yet. Maybe that's why I'm so tired.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

And The Award Goes To ...

A bit of bragging here ....

Today was my youngest son Logan's last day of school. Tomorrow he graduates from Fairfield High School and Butler Tech Criminal Justice program. Today he brought home several awards and so I've just got to brag a bit. Its a mom thing - get over it.

Awards:

  • Successful completion of the Criminal Justice Program Assessment Sequence

  • Outstanding Classroom Performance for being the best student all year in his Science class

  • Honor Roll

  • Peace Officer Training Academy in Intermediate Weapons ASP/Batons training

  • Butler County Emergency Management Agency - Completion of "Meth Lab Awareness" training

  • Ohio Fire Academy HazMat/WMD Awareness & 1st Responder PPE

  • Explorer Competition Award

and get this one ...

  • Award of Educational Achievement for having one of the best test scores in the United States on the Schools that Work testing

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sometimes It Amazes Me

I see this fairly often but it always amazes me each time I do.

We have some people on the mission team that are just "getting it" when it comes to service and putting others ahead of themselves. I'd be willing to bet that most of the team fall into that category but I've recently become aware of a few that are going above and beyond anything that is asked of them and I want to tell you about a few of them - there are probably, very likely, others that are doing similar things that I'm just not aware of.

One lady is going through a particularly difficult time. When we were in Ireland we found out that her husband has several malignant tumors. His situation is very serious. One of the tumors is on his spine and is eating away at bone structure of his spine. Another is entangled with some major arteries and docs here are reluctant to operate because they fear if they do, we will lose his leg. He is now at Mayo Clinic to get their opinion and hopefully they will have some solutions for them. After getting the news about her husband, this team member had a heart attack and was in ICU for a while. She is younger than I am otherwise in good health so it sounded impossible that she would have a heart attack, but she did. Talk about a bad time. Talk about a reason NOT to go on a mission trip. But ya know what? One of her big fears after getting all this news was that she wouldn't' be able to go to PR. She's still planning on going .... as long as she is able.

Then there is this other guy. He is worried that he isn't up to snuff spiritually. He's doubting himself but has a great love for the kids and a passion to reach out to them. I have always asked my team to pray daily for the trips and I've challenged them to fast for at least a day because I believe fasting gets us more in tune with what God might have in mind for this trip. This morning one of our men emailed me asking me to pray for him because he's going to try to fast, not for a day, but for a week. A week?? Wow... I don't even know what to say about that but I am amazed at how deeply people care about the Lakota people and how deep their desire is to take these matters seriously. I'd say this guy "gets it" and I just wonder what God is going to do in his life - not because of his fasting but because of his willingness to put self aside.... I kind of can't wait to see it.

There are two other ladies too, who seem to fly under the radar. But they are always there, faithfully doing whatever it is they are supposed to be doing. They have continually gone out of their way to serve and they never seek any attention for it. They just serve. They have arranged on their own to get donations of stuff for the people on the Rez. And they have silently served other team members by taking care of some things for them. They obviously "get it" that its not about them. They are quiet and I don't know if anyone else notices what they do but they are faithful and they have servant's hearts, and I am amazed at them over and over again.

Now I know that they will all be blessed in ways we may never know. I know that they do what they do because they love God and they've discovered the joy that serving Him brings. But I still stand in amazement of the beauty of the body of Christ. It is an awesome thing to see.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pine Ridge Crew: Amber

I wasn't going to include myself in this but I've been reminded that if I'm going to do this to the crew that I'd better be willing too.

How many years have you gone to the Rez?

This will be my 5th year being a team coordinator. I first went to the Rez with a church in Indiana and have been a couple of times on my own without a crew.

What is the thing about it that has changed you and made you want to go back?

I grew up in a church in Indiana that was very mission-minded and then attended Anderson College which also offered mission trips several times a year. I finally got to go on my first mission trip back in the early 90's. Seeing how other people in other parts of the world live always changes you ... it breaks your heart and you are just never the same. It becomes harder to justify spending lots of money on yourself - not that there is anything wrong with that, but you learn that there is more joy in giving to someone else in need than in spending it on self.

I also have never been able to find a way around the passage of scripture in Matt. 25 where Jesus has some strong things to say about how we treat the poor. I take it that he meant exactly what he said and so I figure its a good idea for me to be involved in helping the poor. In doing that, I've learned that I have a lot to learn - they often have a better handle on spiritual matters than I do and I am usually the one that is "helped".

I also wanted for our church to become more mission minded and creating opportunities for people to experience a mission trip is the best way I know of to do that. I think it is vital to the health of the church to be reaching out to people who are different than us and who have been given less in this life than we have. That kind of experience makes us better people and makes the church a better church.

What is something specific people can pray for you about?

Pray that I will be obedient to Jesus and have a good attitude. I am not the best person for this job of organizing mission trips but I am willing to do it because I feel it is important and because I know its not about "me" being comfortable in the position I am in. Leading these trips challenges me in every area of weakness that I have and I don't always handle it well.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

They Better Never Laugh at Our Wedding Pics Again

For years my two sons have laughed at our wedding pictures - particularly at Brian's white tux. But let me tell you, Logan's tux for his senior prom tonight... is not much better. He was mortified when his date (not his girlfriend) picked out a neon green dress and had him wear matching colors. I thought it was pretty bad too ... and then his buddy John showed up in hot pink. OK, so it could be worse.

Here are a few pics. The wind was wicked.



Best buddies. Two firefighters and a cop.










"You're making me wear this??"
"What was I thinking?"


"Oh my eyes... its so bright it hurts."


Pap and Grandma kept a safe distance.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Let Me Introduce ....

I have decided to spotlight each team member and post a bit about them on the Trip blog so that people can see who is going, give them a chance to share something about their experience with the mission trips, and let folks know how they can be praying for each individual team member.

I thought I may as well post it here too - so enjoy reading about these fantastic people. I always tell them that they are not normal - its not normal to give up your vacation time and willingly spend hours in a van crammed full of people so that you can go work your butt off, get bitten, scratched, snotted on, cursed out, rocks thrown at you, have your feet swell and every muscle in your body ache and then to have your heart broken. It wouldn't be normal even if someone else were paying for it but to then pay $600 or $700 to do it - well that's just crazy.


I get to start with Brandon simply because he got his stuff in first - which is a first, I think. Just kidding ya Brandon.


Brandon is easy for me to write about because I've known him his whole life. He is the same age as my youngest son and as they have been friends and grown up together, I have come to consider him as one of my own. There is not a lot I wouldn't do for this guy. I'd probably even die for him. Yeah, probably.

Everyone who knows Brandon is very familiar with his winning personality. Honestly, to know him is to love him. He's friendly (to put it mildly), funny, very talented (my rock star), and has come to love God with all his heart. Oh yeah, he alwasy flirts with me and tells me I'm beautiful so that is sure to gain him points. Is he perfect? Nope, but I must say that I'm impressed with what I see in him as I've watched his relationship with Jesus develop into an honest, real, and increasingly meaningful relationship that is very evident to those around him. I am very proud to call him "my other son".


While his personality is the thing that probably stands out the most about him, something people may not immediately realize is that Brandon is a deep thinker, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. I've been amazed at his wisdom on more than one occasion. I am also impressed with Brandon's ability to bond with the kids at Pine Ridge. I've watched him grow closer to some of the kids there over the years and have seen that he is indeed having an impact on them for Christ. Last year especially Brandon was able to develop some friendships with a few of the boys on the rez that he will be able to build on in the future.


How many years have you been going to the Rez with us?

I've been 3 times to the rez.

What is it about these trips that has changed you and made you want to keep going back?


The reason I really wanna go back is because of the friendships I formed. I wanna keep those going and hopefully bring God into some peoples life.



What is something specific that people can pray for you about?

Something people can pray for me about is the cost of the trip.


















* This spotlight isn't intended to be a plea for sponsors and Brandon certainly didn't ask me to mention this, but if you would like to sponsor Brandon I'm sure he would be very appreciative.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Life Comes At You Fast

Yesterday was crazy. Life is generally crazy here, but yesterday was particularly so.

I've been juggling 3 things: organizing the trip to Pine Ridge with our crew, organizing the Rezonate festival, and Logan's graduation party. Lots of planning on all three counts. The thing is ... as I plan I'm always aware that things can change at a moment's notice ... sometimes without warning. I like when that happens - usually - at least when it comes to the trips and whatever "missions" work I'm doing. I even find it assuring to know that God is in control and I am not.

But then there are those interruptions that are, well, far more frightening and annoying - like yesterday.

After waking up, doing some work on the Pine Ridge trip I decided to get a shower. Just as I was getting out of the shower the phone rang. I thought of letting the machine pick up but then I heard my sister-in-law's voice and could tell by the tone of her voice that something was terribly wrong. I rushed to grab the phone before she hung up and got the news that my other sister-in-law had gone into a coma and was in ICU on a ventilator. She had surgery the day before and came through that really well. But then when they came in to draw blood the next morning they were unable to wake her up and called a Code Blue.

The good news is, that as of last night she was beginning to wake up. We pray and hope that things will start turning around now and that she's soon be back to normal. Things are looking better now.

Then I was off to the dentist to have a broken tooth fixed. I've discovered that these annoying little things like broken teeth just never seem to happen at a good time. After the landscaping project and having 2 kids graduate (Cody from college and Logan from high school) we are broke. And of course we don't have dental insurance - so a trip to the dentist is just SO not good. But it had to be done.

While I was at the dentist Logan's truck broke down. By the time I got home he and Brian were out checking it out and shopping for car parts. Poor kid is learning fast that you can just never get ahead in life. The fuel pump is out - not something he and his dad can fix on their own. So, long story short - he's without wheels for a while, which means that my days are going to be spend driving him to and from work and school. Oh, did I mention that he has prom this weekend too.

So today I pick him up from school at 2:00, take him to the parts store to buy a fuel pump (whatever that is), and then come home and call AAA to get a tow truck to tow it to a very good friend's house who is going to fix it for him. We'll probably have to wait anywhere from 10 min. to 2 hours for the two truck. Then I'll drive him to the friends house and then to work - he'll be late. And then at midnight I'll go pick him up from work. Sounds like a fun day.

So as I'm waiting to do taxi service I'm working on that graduation party. I'm making a scrapbook for Logan's graduation. (I should do one for Cody too) We plan to have note paper at the party for people to write him notes that will go into the book along with pics of the graduation and party. I'm going to do a few pages with his senior pics in it to get it started. I'm not a scrapbooker. I've only made two before and I'm not real good at it so if you have a suggestion, go for it. These pics aren't great - my battery in the camera is about to die, but you can get the basic idea of what they look like. Click on 'em for a bigger view.

OK, I'm off to get a shower before life starts happening at record speed again.




Monday, May 12, 2008

This'll Only Hurt For a Second

The vidoe is all of 23 seconds long. Its my son's Criminal Justice class getting tasered. All part of training to be a cop. Logan is the second to last.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What's Goin' On

I've been busy for the past two weeks. Almost non-stop. I did goof off a bit yesterday but not as much as I would have liked. Anyway, so you don't think I've dropped off the face of the earth, here's what's been keeping me busy...

  • Logan is graduating from HS in a couple of weeks. I'm planning the Grad Party, shopping for all the "stuff" we will need, getting invitations ready (btw, you don't need an invite - just let me know you're coming), and putting together the slide show ... and crying as I do it. Where in the world did the time go?

  • Pine Ridge is keeping me busy. I've been booking the hotel rooms for the road trip, making van assignments, booking the truck and vans, ordering "stuff" for all that we are doing and testing the waterguns out on Taser. They work and she's not happy about it. There are also a couple of meetings to plan ... I'm thinking of having the team over for food and a Pine Ridge-related movie in June in place of the meeting. Maybe even put a fire in the new fire pit and make s'mores?? I don't know ... gotta think about it more when I get a minute.

  • Trying to keep up with REZonate '08. Heard from the radio station today and the newspaper yesterday. Looks like everyone is on board. I hope they all follow through. Follow through ... hmmm ... I wish people would do that. It's one of my pet peeves. But I'm sidetracked now.

  • Talking to the missionaries in Pine Ridge. They had 2 ft. of snow last weekend and lost their power. They just can't get a break, can they.

  • Gardening. I am enjoying it. I just hope I have time to keep it all alive. I am really enjoying take a moment each day to sit on the porch and drink coffee and watch stuff grow. So far, it is growing! Nothing has died yet, which is an accomplishment.

  • Trying to keep my class on Sunday morning afloat - or determine if it should stay afloat. ???

  • And today I'm taking care of some MUCH needed house cleaning. I hate cleaning house. Really hate it. I do like a clean house though, so I guess I've got to do it once in a while.

  • TRYING to keep a good attitude about some things that are REALLY bugging me. Wish I could blog about it, but that would get me, and maybe some other people, in trouble.

  • I'm looking forward to Cody coming over this evening.

That's it. I've got to run again now.

*Update*

Logan came home, watched the slide show I made and nixed it. He doesn't want music in it. I thought the music was what made it nice. I even used country music - his favorite. Somehow I think just pics will be boring to most people. Oh well, it's his party so we'll do it his way. Too bad he can't pay for it too. I'm still making an "Unauthorized Version" and posting it. Arrggghh! Kids!

Monday, May 05, 2008

One Year Ago Today


Cody and Allison were married.


And they're still happy!