Thursday, July 30, 2009


Here's a thought from one of this week's messages:

In biblical Israel, being a shepherd was a mundane job, but it was an important one. Everyone knew that the sheep you were watching were possible future sacrifices. It wasn't just the wool and meat the sheep provided that was important - shepherding was a religious job as well.

The shepherds were most often not the owners of the flock. Even David wasn't looking after his own sheep; they belonged to his father. The shepherds were the servants of the master, and they watched out for his interests by caring for the sheep.

If by chance a sheep wandered off, a shepherd was responsible to go find it. Remember the parable Jesus told about the lost sheep? Have you ever caught that phrase "...if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the WILDERNESS, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?"

Why does the shepherd leave the other sheep to the mercy of wolves, lions, bad weather, and other possible dangers and go after one sheep? Why? Ever wondered?

He has quite a situation on his hands. One sheep - wandered off somewhere, perhaps dead. Ninety-nine sheep - in the flock, under his eye. "Ugh, that stupid sheep! I can't leave all these ones alone! It's probably dead anyway - why go find it? A long hike, a fruitless search... I'll just leave it to whatever befalls it."

Very tempting way to think, huh?

But - and this is what I didn't know until this week - in Israel, a shepherd was required to go after that missing sheep...and prove that he had done so. Not so much that he needed to find a single, solitary lamb - though it was valuable livestock - but to show his master that he, the servant, was caring for the master's interests. To show that he wasn't slacking off on his job.

Even if it was a dead sheep that he found at the end of his search, he was to search. And he had to bring back something - a limb, a bloody skin, a piece of bone...or a living lamb. He could not return empty handed. To do so would leave him with no way of proving that he didn't just say "Oh, let the sheep rot - I'm certainly not going after it." He would have no way of proving that he cared.

Wow, did that hit home.

I've been commanded to search for lost sheep - to tell them of the Master. I am supposed to love them, but my primary purpose in witnessing is for the glory of God. I am to proclaim Him, and leave the results up to Him. Even if those results are that no one responds favorably. Even if no one repents. I still must go out. I must prove that I am obeying my Master, and I must prove that I care.

What will you bring back to your Master? We hope to bring back many living lambs, but even if your message is rejected, proclaim it anyway. Prove that you care. We can't return with bloody skins or mangled limbs, but God records our obedience. He'll know if we went out.

He will know.

Don't come back empty handed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I've lost my touch.

I've probably also lost about 90% of my readers, since I've been so faithless to this blog. But for those of you who are still around, I extend a hearty thanks, and proceed with my story to prove that I've lost my touch.


First things first, though.

It's mission conference week here! (This has nothing to do with losing my touch, but I can't wait until the end of my post to tell you about it.) The Lord has moved in my heart already during this week, and I can't wait to see what He'll do by the end of Friday. Every day we will be having supper at church, then listening to a missionary present their work, then hear Jim Park, our main speaker, preach about missions.

Mr. Park is from the mountains of North Carolina - at least right now - has a country drawl to his voice, and a passion, for things that really count, that you rarely find in a city-fied, techy-centered person. He's seen people die. He's seen poverty. He's seen God work. He's traveled in and out of America, and worked among Native Americans, way up in the mountains. (That's special to me, because my brothers and sisters and I are the last of a line that has enough Indian blood in us to live on a reservation if we wanted to.) He has a 32-year old son who travels with him in a wheelchair.

But that's just the man. Those are details that are easy to tell you about. What I can't so easily convey is what Mr. Park has been preaching about each meeting. I can't bottle up his tears and show them to you. I can't bottle up my own and prove those, either. I certainly can't wrap my hands or this keyboard around the still small voice of God that whispered in my heart last night. I just wish all of you lived close enough to come be blessed yourselves. ...But if you did come, I'd warn you; come prepared to be convicted.

This week has been busy so far - a good busy, but busy nonetheless. I enjoyed Monday, because I've had so much on my mind lately that it felt good to spend a whole day just working with my hands and not doing so much thinking. I got a lot done, too.

Today I woke up with a long to-do list as well; finish sewing a skirt I want/need to wear this week, wash all my laundry, make pickles (garden produce is filling up the kitchen table!), and make rolls and cornbread. (My family is in charge of the meal at church tonight.)

I never got around to the pickles because I was sewing. My darling mother covered for me. She also made spaghetti sauce at the same time! I was rushing to finish that skirt so I could get it in the laundry. I had made the skirt "from scratch," meaning I made it without a pattern. I've made dozens of things without patterns, and they usually turn out wearable.

This was my...uh...third (I think) time re-making this skirt.

Proof #1 that I've lost my touch.

I'm also working on a shirt for a client - without a pattern. It has been much harder than I thought it would be.

Proof #2.

I finally got my skirt "done," though it's not as good as I wanted it to be, and I got my laundry in the washer. In the meantime, I mixed up 2 dozen cornbread muffins, 6 dozen rolls, and 3 loaves of bread.

That took all morning.

In the afternoon, I remembered my laundry and went to fetch it, so I could hang it out on the line. I did this even though I knew it didn't have much chance of drying before sundown.

Proof #3.

I set the basket of wet clothing down by the kitchen door so I could sample some of Mom's fresh pickles. They were good! I picked up and slipped on some near-by potholders, and returned to my basket. I swung it onto my hip and went to the back door.

My hand was turning the door handle when I realized something was wrong.

I looked at my hands.

I was wearing potholders! Now I knew I'd been in the kitchen too long!

Proof #4. (Mom and I laughed over that particular incident so hard we cried!)

By now (after hanging out the clothes) I was tired, so I disappeared to chill out a little bit. Next thing I knew, Mom was pulling my rolls out of the oven and telling me that two dozen of them (the pans on the bottom rack) had burnt. They were black.

Proof #5.

Do we really need proof #6 or #7? I can't seem to sew, can't seem to bake, ...can't even seem to keep up with a blog! I'm embarrassed to take my rolls to the dinner tonight, because even the ones that aren't burnt are nowhere near as high as they ought to be.

We need to leave in about 20 minutes. In that time I have to get cleaned up, pack my rolls and muffins, check my laundry (which, of course, will still be wet), talk with Mom and Dad about something, and various other little things.

But I'm sitting here writing.

That's proof #6.

(Note: To those of you who don't know me well enough to tell this, please do not worry about me. I will recover nicely. I am not as depressed as I sound. I just like to moan a little harder than necessary, just to see if I can make you laugh. Thank you.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One reason why I've been busier, and posting less often:

Visit here to see what's occupied a lot of my time!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Recent Letter:


President Obama and socialists in Congress are moving at breakneck
speed to pass a socialized health care plan that will be devastating
to our freedoms, our economy and our families. The huge cost
and loss of freedoms are reasons enough to oppose it.

But now we see that ObamaCare will mandate coverage of
abortions -- requiring you and me to pay for abortions with
our tax dollars!

In effect, abortion advocates are trying to get FOCA (the
notorious Freedom of Choice Act) smuggled through Congress!
And they are calling abortion-mill operators like Planned
Parenthood "essential health care providers." This is outrageous!

A Senate Committee has already flatly rejected an amendment
offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch that would have prohibited taxpayer
funding of abortions in ObamaCare. And the House bill has no
prohibitions whatsoever on taxpayer funding of abortions.

ObamaCare will require you and me to pay for,
millions of businesses will be forced to offer abortion
coverage to their employees even if it violates their
owners' deeply held beliefs!

And what about Christian doctors and nurses? Won't they
be forced to participate in abortion through ObamaCare?

President Obama is trying to hide from these tough questions,
but this is precisely what Candidate Obama pledged to Planned
Parenthood in 2007 -- that he would mandate coverage for
"reproductive services" (i.e. abortion) if elected President.

+ + Tell Congress: "I Reject this Abortion Funding Mandate!"

I am fed up with the Obama-Pelosi-Reid mad dash to socialism --
and the devastating impact it will have on our economy, our
families and the fate of the unborn.

This proposal would mark the single greatest expansion of
abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision! It would make
abortion universally "covered" and funded by taxpayers!

That's why I am asking you to take a stand with me and
say "NO!" to coercive taxpayer funding of abortions!

Go here to sign the petition:

We have already rallied nearly 80,000 citizens to oppose this
and other similar efforts to force taxpayers to pay for abortions.

We launched our campaign to oppose the notorious Freedom of
Choice Act (FOCA) within hours of the president taking office.
Now, ObamaCare has become the "Stealth FOCA"!

ObamaCare accomplishes most of the main goals of FOCA in
mandating that abortion be offered and requiring taxpayers
to pay.

I want to deliver over 100,000 petitions to Congress in the next
few days. The timing is urgent! But I need your help. Please
sign to be included in this delivery and then forward this message
to as many of your friends as possible.

Again, Obama's stated goal is to mandate abortion coverage in
ObamaCare and force you and me to pay for abortions. We must
stand strong against this abomination.

Thank you again, and God bless you.

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel

P.S. This has been Obama's plan all along -- in 2007 he pledged
to Planned Parenthood that his health care plan would mandate
abortion coverage. At all cost, we must say "NO!" to taxpayer
funding of abortions and make it stick.

I signed the petition. Now I'm asking you - let your voice be heard, rising up in the cause of righteousness.

Sign! And forward the news to everyone you know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mother Appreciation

I keep telling my family I need to write a book titled "Mother Knows Best."

When we are young, we are told all the time that someday we'll realize how wise are parents are, are we not? I've heard it. But I never agreed with it. Not because I didn't think my parents are wise, but because I always assumed I knew all there was to know about them already. I loved and admired them so much that I didn't think it was possible to admire them any more than I already did.

Yes, my parents were wise. I thought I was a very bright young person for having already discovered that. I was sure I was way ahead of my peers, and I was very thankful for that, because I was sure I had saved myself much misery by admitting their wisdom was above mine, and thus avoiding the pride of youth. (Oh how backwards this sounds! Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in this line of thought? I'd laugh if it weren't me I'd be laughing at. As it is, I feel more like blushing than laughing.)

It has come as a shock to me, that after all the thought and logic I put into making sure I recognized my parents' wisdom at a young age, I actually have been having "revelations" in my latter youth. I didn't really know all there is to know about my parents! (gasp)

I would apply this particularity to my mother. Why is it so easy for girls to think they know better than their mother? Is it because they're both female? Is is because....young girls are crazy? :):):):)

Lots of things have been happening lately that are good for my pride. I've discovered that not only does Mom know best in those high and lofty "wisdom" subjects, but also those little everyday things that girlish pride wants to be considered an expert in.

Little things whether or not I'll get cold if I don't take a sweater out with my on a cool summer morning.

Little things whether or not that cake will burn if I put it in for 5 more minutes.

Little things how many minutes it will take me to drive somewhere - not speeding.

Little things whether I'll regret spending money on that trivial item.

Little things whether or not I'll be able to function well after staying up late every night for a week.

Little things.

Mothers are amazing, ya know?

Shhhh - don't tell Mom this, but I've actually been keeping track of all those little incidents that remind me I was right; my parents aren't just "wise," but they are smart!

I love you, Mom.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quote from Younger Sister:

During Family Bible Time:

"Daddy, why did the Pharisees keep trying to outsmart Jesus? Couldn't they figure out it didn't work?"

I love it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Sometimes life is rough.

Sometimes you long for things you can't have.

Sometimes you don't want to do what you must do.

Sometimes you are full of feelings you don't understand and emotions you wish would go away.

Sometimes you just don't keep up with blogs, and emails, and pen pals, and such.

Sometimes you just want to bury yourself in the warm sand of a deserted island, or the cool snow of a far away mountain.

Other times, you roll over in bed, after sleeping in an hour. The morning sunshine kisses your face, and the sheets are soft and cool. You take a deep breath, and let bygones pass away like a bad dream. You are tired, and you feel weak inside. But it's morning.

You are ready to start fresh.

Psalm 30: 5
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Yesterday I heard a lady talking about something that hurt me like a knife in the stomach.

I won't give the details, to protect folks' privacy, but it was about a group of church-going people she knows. They are all parents. And, except for some that have only younger children, they all have, as she put it "at least one prodigal."

A prodigal. A child who has "left the faith." ...But did they ever "enter"?

A prodigal. Raised in a Christian home. Except for the grace of God, there go I. It could be me.

A prodigal.

But I know parents who love the Lord can have wayward, unsaved children. I've seen it before. I hate seeing it, but I've known it's out there.

The word "prodigal" wasn't what hurt. It was these two little words: "every family."

Every family had "at least one" prodigal. Every family!

What is wrong with our families, that such a thing should be the norm? That it would be expected for young folks to be somehow different, somehow less committed, somehow less faithful, somehow more worldly than their parents? WHY? It's bad enough in the world, but how did the world get into homes claiming to be Christian? Why are "Christian homes" turning out unsaved young people?

These are my people. They are my age group. My generation. I want to slam my fist against a table; why must they be so wayward? Who let the standards slip - and where? Why are we allowed to have lower standards than our parents? Who taught us that it's okay to be more goofy and less spiritual than our parents - that somehow it's our right because "that's just today's generation"?

This makes me so boiling mad. I want to take somebody and shake them by the shoulders - just show me who's responsible! Who is stealing my generation? Is it the government schools? Is it television? Is it greed and materialism? Is it slackness on the part of parents? Is it failure on the church's part to preach the gospel? Is it us? What is it?!?!?!

I want to be rational and make this a very good post. That was my intention when I started typing. Now I'm so upset I can't think of what to say. I just want to scream, or punch something.

But that reminds me of something I heard in church this week.

First Timothy, chapter two. Paul is telling Timothy how to instruct the believers in his church. They are to pray for "all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life..."

Pastor got talking about the government, and reminded us that we are to pray for all in it, from the President on down. If God can turn Nebuchadnezzar's heart around, He can save Obama! (Imagine what that would do to our country!)

But the point I want to make is from verse 8; "I will, therefore, that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

Without wrath and doubting.

It is SO easy to get mad when we think about this country of ours and the way our culture is headed. It's also easy to become fearful. What will happen next? Where will this generation end up? ...Yet here I am commanded to pray without wrath and doubting. With holy hands.

Don't you love the simplicity of God's commands? This brings peace to my soul, even as I sit here and read it. This is my solution. This is the answer; to live a holy life, and to pray.




Without becoming angry, and without becoming fearful. My dear Lord knows that I swing from one to the other. But I am to let neither have rein in my heart. Both of them would cloud my judgment, and keep me from living a holy life - having those holy hands.

Wow. What peace there can be in a heart in which there is neither fear nor anger.

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Isaiah 26:3

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits

I really do love Taste of Home's recipes. My sister Heather got their "Family Collection Cookbook" out of the library on our last visit, and I've enjoyed browsing it the past few days. Does anybody else out there read a cookbook like a novel - front to back, every page?

I copied down 3 or 4 recipes that I want to try, and the only one I've made so far is this biscuit recipe, which went nicely with supper last night. I snapped it up at first because I saw the word "chives." This is our first year having fresh chives available to us in the back yard, and I'm having fun learning about all the dishes they can be used in.

The above picture is from the Taste of Home website, and I used it because the biscuits really turned out looking like that. That's what I love about ToH - I've only ever had one of their recipes flop on me! (Those of you who are regular readers know that such a status is indeed worth something!)

Of course, I didn't leave the recipe "as is." I tweaked it to use unbleached flour, and butter instead of shortening (ick!), but other than that the recipe remained the same.

...Except, of course, that it did not make 12-15 biscuits. I rolled the dough more like 1/2" thick instead of 3/4" thick, and got eleven biscuits. Oh well. These are so good.

It took me about 10 minutes to chop the chives, and I still finished these well in time for supper. Sitting out there on the wooden edge of the garden bed, black kitchen scissors in hand, chopping chives, I was very happy. The white 1/4 measuring cup was balanced in my lap, and I held the scissors so that the little snips of chives fell right into the cup. The pungent odor of the chives mixed with the more subtle scent of the rosemary next to my knees. My fingers got slightly sticky from where the chives mashed a little between my fingers, and I held my hand up to my nose for a whiff. Wonderful.

The evening sun was hot on my head and arms, making tiny beads of sweat run down my skin, but all I kept thinking was "who else could do what I'm doing - putting ingredients straight from the ground into the measuring cup?" I know other people grow their own food, but right then I felt like a princess with a monopoly on pleasure. God had made me supremely happy by the simple - yet complex - gift of a clump of green chives.

Here's the biscuit recipe.


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur flour gives best results!)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 butter
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup minced chives


In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With a fork, stir in sour cream, milk and chives until the mixture forms a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, knead five to six times. Roll to 3/4-in. thickness; cut with a 2-in. biscuit cutter. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 12-15 biscuits.

~ Save about 1/8 cup of the flour called for in the recipe, and use that when you knead the dough, instead of adding more flour. Otherwise your dough might get too dry.
~ When kneading, try to make "layers" as you fold the dough, and don't roll the dough out so roughly that you pack those layers all the way together. Let them be lightly stacked - you'll have flaky layers in your biscuits that way.
~ Cook these on a pre-heated baking stone! A real help in achieving that perfect crisp outer crust.
~When you place your biscuits on the stone, turn them upside down, so that the part of the biscuit that touched the table when you cut it out now forms the top of the biscuit. I read somewhere that this practice will make your biscuits rise more, and this was the first time I'd tried it. It certainly does! Very nice tip.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Joy, Plants, and Patrick Henry

Tomato plants (near 8 feet tall!) Heather is standing.

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." Isaiah 61:10-11

Me with our beet harvest. The herb bed is behind me on the left, and behind me on the right you can see the zucchini plant leaves.

And one more, because I can't resist. This is my over-6-foot-tall brother next to the tomato plants. These pictures were taken awhile ago. The plants are taller now. The corn you see in the foreground is bearing ears that are ready to be picked!

It's not just the dirt. It's not just the plants. There's something about a garden that invites God to speak to your heart. I know not everyone gets "in" to gardening, but I can't help that. I really think there's something to be said for the fact that God put the first man and woman in a garden. I can't explain it, but there's something about a garden that makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time. Some of my happiest hours are spent there.

Now you know why my posts aren't coming as regularly. :)

No, actually, I can't give that excuse. Summer in general is my time-thief, and yours as well, I'm sure. I hope y'all had a lovely Independence Day on Saturday.

Does anyone know where I can find an online copy of the speech Patrick Henry gave to the signers of the Declaration of Independence, just before they placed their names on that historic document? I heard it read for the first time in church yesterday, and it moved me to tears.

If such a speech, decked with references to the Almighty, and dripping with love for freedom and fellowman, read aloud 230-some years after it was spoken, can create the response it did yesterday in our church building, I can't imagine the way it moved hearts in the hour Henry cried it. I would love to share it here, but I don't know where to find it. Can any of you help me?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In which we wonder why we even tried

I've been accused before of making private things too public - particularly in the area of this blog. (I've also been accused of not make some things public enough, but that's besides the point.) It seems that I need to be reminded to keep my mouth shut every once in awhile. It's a good reminder - I think a lot of people (young people in particular) in this day and age love to share their most private feelings world wide, with the help of their computers and the web. While communication is nice, there's something good to be said for old fashioned privacy.

However, it just so happens that I love to make people laugh. In fact, when I was much younger in my Christian walk I, (though I blush to tell it), used to stretch the truth or even make up a funny story, just to get people to laugh. Now, though I do my best to stick with the truth, the temptation to share a story that will make people laugh is very strong to me.

Do you know what that means when my siblings do something funny, and the world is at my fingertips, just waiting to hear?


Enough about me and my weaknesses. Let me share a story that had me crying with laughter-tears before it was over, and should be embarrassing to no one, since it was no one's fault. The fact that it comes right on the heels of another tale of mine is pure coincidence, I assure you.

You know, sometimes it's fun to have a blog. It's fun to have a place to record memories, and it's fun to have memories that are shareable.

My Dad got an unexpected 4-day weekend this week. When he found out about it, the house was immediately alive with discussion about what we should do with our impromptu vacation. Staying home and living normal life was out of the question. We knew we'd be celebrating Mom's birthday on Thursday, but we needed something special to do that would take several days.

Camping was the activity finally decided upon. I think we all knew from the start that's what we would do. We camp nearly every time we travel, instead of staying in hotels, and every so often we do it near our home just for fun. We've done it so many times that we consider ourselves fairly professional.

In fact, we have a special camping skill that many people don't have. We know how to camp in the rain! That's right - we have it down to a science. Granted, it's been a forced lesson, but one we've learned fairly quickly. We've just come to expect the water, and we plan for it. Extra tarps, canopies to eat under, water-proof bags...etc.

Actually, I have a hard time imagine what it's like to camp in the sunshine. It seems so odd to think about. What's a campfire without those little droplets sizzling in it? What's a good night's sleep under the clouds without a little moisture leaking through the tent onto your sleeping bag?

Still, it never hurts to hope.

It's been dry here lately. In fact, we've been praying for rain. Our garden needs it (ahem...needed it) badly. After the good rains we had earlier this year, the dry spell seemed twice as dry.

But it seemed like the perfect time for some camping.

We planned to leave in mid afternoon, and get to the campsite, which was about an hour away, in time to set up the tents and have supper - then go hiking in the morning after a good night's sleep. Ah, what lovely things plans are!

The first clouds rolled in near 3:00, but that was okay because false hopes had been raised several times before this month. We continued loading up the van, as our neighbors watched. (Several of them were out there working on various things in their yards.)

The first sprinkles hit the sidewalk just as we finished packing the van with everything. We decided to head off and hope the weather was different an hour away from home.

It certainly was.

The windshield wipers didn't work fast enough. By the time we reached the camp ground (after a few "detours") we didn't even bother pulling into the parking lot. Dad pulled off on the side of the road, and we all yelled back and forth over the rain, discussing our options.

That didn't last long. What were our choices, anyway? We'd camped in downpours before, but not oceans. Back home it was.

As we pulled back onto the road, water suddenly poured onto my arm, and I jumped in surprise.

"Daddy, the roof is leaking!" I shrieked.

Calm down and we'll pass the paper towels back there."

"Paper towels? I need a cup!"

So I rode halfway home holding Curtis' empty coffee cup under the trickle of water that came from the slit above the window.

It didn't take long before I was laughing. My brothers and I joked about how we expected this downpour...but we weren't really joking. I think it would rain if we camped in the Sahara desert.

As we drew closer to home, the rain calmed down. Closer still, the roads began to look dry.

"Not fair - the ground's not even wet here!"

Of course not. We hadn't tried to camp here.

So...after two hours of fun chatting and yelling over the sound of rain on the van roof, we pulled back into our driveway and started to unpack.

"Boy, I hope none of our neighbors are watching," brother Justin said.

They'd watched us load up our tents, 8 sleeping bags, a camping stove, a picnic basket, an ice chest, and drive off.

...And now, two hours later, we were all marching back up the sidewalk and to our front door with our pillows under our arms.

That's when Mom and I lost it. We were laughing so hard we could barely walk to unload the rest of the van. Every time I went in and out of the door, I hoped the neighbors weren't looking our their windows, and I started laughing, imagining what they were thinking if they were looking.

But all is not lost. I promised my younger sister I'd camp out with them in the living room tonight. In fact, they are out there waiting for me now, sleeping bags all unrolled.

It's started raining here now. The basement has about 1/2 inch of water in it.

But it'd better not start leaking through the living room ceiling.

Then again, with our reputation, you never know...