Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Memoriam

Donald Wayne Wood died at 9pm this evening in Houston, TX. Janie, his wife of 28 years was with him, and he had family all around. We will all miss him very much, and personally, I don't know how I will ever get over this unspeakable tragedy. I have peace in the knowledge that Don was a man of very strong faith, so I know where he is and that he is just fine. That really does make it better for all of us, to know we'll see him again someday. Like I told Chase, that is one of the very best things about being a Christian. No one is ever really gone and we will get to be together for eternity someday.

We will miss you, Don.

Thanksgiving/update on Don

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving - we went to East Texas, and Chase and I have arrived safely back in "Sin City." Divine hubby stayed in Houston, where his brother Don has been in ICU for a month. Thursday, the family made the awful decision to take him off of life support, and he is still hanging on. He is on incredible levels of morphine, is completely unconscious, and hopefully pain-free.

This has been an awful month for our family and we are all now praying for a quick end to his suffering. We would appreciate any and all prayers on Don's behalf. I will keep you up to date, and thank you for your prayers. We are saddened beyond measure at this terrible tragedy. Don was only 49 and had a LOT more life to live. We will miss him immeasurably.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Christmas resolution

I used to absolutely LOVE getting the Christmas tree, decorating it, decorating the house, driving around to see Christmas lights, etc etc etc. Over the past few years, I've kinda "lost that lovin' feelin" about Christmas, and it has started to show. Last year was so bad, we didn't even get a TREE! And it was even worse - we didn't EVEN put up the fake one we had in the basement! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

So, I'm turning over a new leaf. This year, we have already (kind of) started decorating, and I have actually bought a few new decorations, can you imagine? Did you know that JoAnne's already has their Christmas decorations at 50% off? I may have to do a little more shopping before it's all said and done, but shhhhh, don't tell Divine Hubby! :)

We probably won't get a REAL Christmas tree, but I'm ok with that. The fake one is in the garage and a few real garlands for the mantle will scent the house nicely without all of the mess and expense.

Divine hubby and I even put a pretty good dent in the shopping this weekend - and we really had fun together. Daniel, one of Chase's friends came to visit from Colorado, and his dad took the boys to the Hoover Dam on Saturday, so Divine Hubby and I had some shopping time. I know, I know, you are amazed that Divine Hubby would go shopping with me, but we have always really enjoyed Christmas shopping together. Divine Hubby is a GREAT shopper - we have the same philosophy and taste in stuff, and it's something we have always enjoyed doing together.

So, my Christmas resolution is to put the fun back in Christmas. Chase and I made some Operation Christmas Child boxes, we're decorating a little, and we're firmly in the spirit. AND, the neighbors have already paid big bucks to have their lights put up (cracks me up that people pay for that...), so the neighborhood is starting to look a lot like (a Vegas) Christmas!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Adventures in Substitute Teaching

I've been substitute teaching for a few weeks now, and have come to a couple of conclusions.

1. Kids just don't behave well for subs. (yeah, I know... duhhhhhhhhhhh)

2. It's really hard to get the attention of 30+ people of any age when they are all talking at once without shouting.

3. Sometimes shouting works.

4. Subbing is hard, and I'm not sure it will get any easier unless I take a long-term job.

I subbed in a fairly at-risk school this past week. I was a remedial reading teacher to 7th graders. I know, I know. Luckily there is a full-time teacher's aide in the class. Her name was Mrs. T#$%^^&*&^%%$#. Completely unpronounceable, so everyone called her Mrs. T. She was a GODSEND, let me tell ya. It was complete and utter chaos, nearly the entire day. Mrs. T said that it's pretty much that way every day, which made me sad. I don't think more than 5 of the kids all day did any work, nor did they get anything out of any of the lessons. Mrs. T was tough on the kids, and sent quite a few of them packing to the Dean's office. One boy felt that the scolding he got was unwarranted (and I agreed, frankly), so he stopped working completely and sat in the corner with his head down and a scowl on his face. I tried to talk to him and say that just because he felt like he was picked on was no reason to get an F on the day's work and ruin his grade in the class. His assignment at the time was a creative writing one. I told him to write about how it feels to be picked on and unnecessarily punished. He ignored me.

Then there was a boy named Robert. He was part of the worst group in the worst class I had all day. Talking back, refusing to work, refusing to sit in his seat, picking fights with other kids, you name it. He was completely disruptive ALL PERIOD. Finally, Mrs. T sent him to the Dean's office. He immediately freaked out and said he'd be expelled if he went to the Dean's office one more time and to PLEASE give him a second chance. So, she did. About 2.5 seconds later (and that's generous), he was picking a fight AGAIN. So, she said that's it! She sent him to the Dean's office, ostensibly to be expelled. As he was leaving the class, he tore a piece of notebook paper, wrote something on it and handed it to me. With a lecherous wink, he whispered, "Call me." The note had his phone number on it! Remember, this is 7th grade. He's probably 14!!! AND he's being expelled, as we speak. I told divine hubby to watch out - he's got some competition! :)

Then there was another boy who has haunted me since I left the classroom. His name was David. He was unkempt, his shirt was dirty, and he had awful buck teeth. So bad, he honestly could not close his mouth. He sat by himself, did his work quietly and didn't hang out with the other troublemakers. As a matter of fact, they ignored him completely. His work was nearly illegible, and the way he wrote told me that he is probably a barely-functioning illiterate. He had such a look of sadness, it was palpable to me. I am not sure why, because he had no visible marks on him, but I have a feeling he lives with something terrible, like abuse. I just got that feeling from him. I tried to interact with him, but to absolutely no avail. He has stayed with me. I hope I'm wrong and he was having a hard day, or one of his parents was sick or something, but I just got a feeling of hopelessness from David.

This is the main problem with subbing. You just don't get to know the kids at all. And they don't get to know you. I could take a long-term position, but that would take away the flexibility I enjoy in being a sub. I don't know what the solution is, but at the moment, I've got the week off for Thanksgiving, so I think I'll worry about it next week!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Adventures in book clubbing

Since we moved here, I have been looking for a book club. Most of the people I have met are not readers (can you imagine NOT being a reader?? I can't...), or are not in a book club. So, I've tried a few "public" book clubs at bookstores, libraries, etc. None have really met my needs. But, there is an area here in Vegas called "Summerlin" that is a gigantic master-planned community and is jam packed with soccer moms in minivans. Perfect! So, I called the Summerlin library, and they have a big book club that meets once a month at the library. So, I slogged through a book I didn't really love (truth be told, I didn't actually finish it...) and went to the book club yesterday morning with high expectations.

I walked in the conference room and immediately realized my mistake. I was the youngest person in the room. By 30 years. There were more oxygen tanks than minivans, for sure. But, I decided to go ahead and stay for the discussion anyway. It was an interesting and entertaining morning!! Here are the highlights:

A woman who was at least 80 wearing an animal-print sequined ball cap, leopard-printed leggings (tight leggings, not pants), a not-long-enough tunic and about 10 wooden necklaces with large wooden African animals on them. Oh, and she carried a giant canvas bag that looked like a rainbow absolutely exploded on it...sequins too.

Two women who walked in together, sat together, finished each other's sentences, and seemed joined at the hip. One woman had dyed blonde hair and an orange shirt, and the other woman had dyed orange hair (I swear it was exactly the color of the blonde's shirt) and a light yellow shirt (exactly the color of the blonde's hair). Made me laugh!

A Jewish woman who, every time someone said anything was "the fault of the Jews" (in the book, not globally), exploded in a tirade.

A Catholic woman who, every time someone said anything was "the fault of the Catholics" (again, in the book), exploded in a tirade.

note: there were lots of things in this book that, it could be argued, could be the fault of the Jews or the it got interesting a few times!

One woman mentioned the word "bisexual" and the whole place went to pieces for about 5 minutes! I don't even remember WHY she said the word, as there wasn't anyone in the book who would fit that description, unless it was part of the book I skipped in an effort to finish the darn thing!

Then there was a discussion of euthanasia (only barely touched on in the book) and a woman started shouting "MURDER" randomly and glaring at the other women who disagreed. Just as a sociological experiment, I wanted to stand up and say "let's talk about ABORTION" and see what happened, but I was afraid for my life, frankly.

The moderator passed around some color copies of pictures from historically-relevant art and I never got to see them, because two of the women in front of me took the copies, folded them and put them in their purses. Even though they had passed through several rows before, somehow, they decided the copies were for them! Cracked me up.

It was a very interesting morning, but not really what I am looking for in a book club. For example, January's book is an 800 page biography of John Adams...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update and thank you

First, I wanted to thank all of you who have emailed and commented to say you are praying for Don and his family. Please keep praying - he is certainly not out of the woods yet. He will probably be in the hospital for several months longer. We are still hoping and praying he will recover and with no brain damage. To complicate things, he has recently developed pneumonia in the hospital, but that seems to be clearing up with antibiotics.

Our family went to Death Valley last weekend, and I'll be blogging/uploading photos about that trip soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Donald Wayne Wood

My brother-in-law has been involved in a terrible accident. He is in the ICU in Houston and it is touch and go. He may not survive, and if he does, there may be brain damage. Our family is requesting prayers for both Don and his wife Janie and their son Adam. Please, if you are the praying sort, get down on your knees and pray for healing, and pray for strength, and pray for peace and rest for his family.

Don has always been larger than life. Literally. He is 6'6" and is built like a linebacker. He was a star football player in his hometown of Atlanta, TX. My mother-in-law loves to tell stories of how she would come home from work and the yard was FULL of cars, and the house was FULL of girls. He was quite the BMOC. He graduated and got a full-ride football scholarship to Rice. He met and married Janie Laws, and they have one son, Adam whom they have always loved passionately. Don's career has been in sales, and he has sold almost everything you can imagine. He owned a fish store for awhile, he has sold furniture, GPS tracking devices for truckers, telecom, office supplies, you name it, he's dabbled in it. He is an amazing salesperson, and has been extremely successful in his career. One of those "could sell ice cream to the eskimos" kind of guys.

He loves kids. He and Janie wanted to have a houseful of children, but God blessed them with one son, Adam. So, Don has always doted on all of the nieces and nephews in the Wood family. I remember one day when Chase was 3 or so. We were at Divine Hubby's mom's house and I came into the room just in time to see Chase balancing himself on the back edge of the sofa. Well, I freaked out, called him by all three of his names in that mom-voice and asked him what n the name of Jehozephat he thought he was doing. Don sheepishly leaned into my sight and said, "Um, he's jumping to me..." and Chase launched himself off of the sofa into Don's waiting arms. That's the kind of guy he is. He has taken Chase fishing almost every time we have gotten together, just Chase and Uncle Don. He always brings a BB gun, and they go out in the woods together and shoot soda cans off of logs. The last time we saw him, he gave Chase the BB gun, and it is one of Chase's prized possessions.

He is a teaser. He loves to say, in his big booming voice, "Kiss my face." Or, "Go play in the street." Then he swoops whatever kid is around up in his arms and tickles or rough houses with them until the kid can't stand it anymore. 5 seconds later, the kid is back for more. Don can play with kids for hours. He has volunteered his time at the local elementary school to teach Junior Achievement classes on handling money, credit, etc. and the class has a waiting list. Kids LOVE Don.

His wife Janie says that the neighborhood kids come around to ask to play with him. And Don is 50! He'll go out and play basketball for hours, laughing and rough-housing with the neighborhood kids, his big booming voice and laugh echoing down the street.

This big, vibrant man is now fighting for his life, and we are not sure what kind of life it will even be at this point. I ask you to kneel, where you are right now, and say a prayer for Donald Wayne Wood. If you will comment or email and let me know you prayed, I'll tell his wife how many people who don't even know this man, are petitioning God on his behalf. God moves mountains, parts oceans and sends Saviors. I pray He will listen to our prayers and heal this wonderful man whom we love so much. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations, President Obama

The USA has just made history. We have elected our first African-American president. I wish I could say I was enthusiastic about it, but I'm not. I wish I was excited, but I'm scared. I wish I shared others' happiness, but I'm full of trepidation and fear of this unknown and unproven man.

Now, you all know that I have gone out of my way NOT to make this a political blog. And it's still not. This is about me (go figure!!). I hope you will refrain from commenting negatively about my politics - this blog entry is about my concerns and hopes for the future, and I am speaking as an AMERICAN. Not a Republican.

Many of you know how involved I have been in this election. I have done voter registration, I have poll watched and I have campaigned for months now. John McCain was not my first choice, but as the nominee, I supported him. I was then, and am now very worried about Barack Obama. I am worried about his loyalties. In the Senate, he has been very liberal, much more liberal than I think this country would like their president to be, and I am worried he will continue on that path. I am worried about what kind of Supreme Court justices he will nominate. I am worried that he will expand the boundaries of Roe vs. Wade and continue the horror of partial-birth abortions. I am worried he will spend us into the ground. I am worried how he will handle an attack like 9/11. I am worried...I am worried.

BUT, a long time ago, I had to decide if I am first a Republican, or first an American. (A question I hope each of you will ask yourselves too.) It really took some soul-searching to decide this question, because if I say I am a Republican first, then I have to work against a Democratic president, hold my breath and wait for him to screw everything up. If I say I am an American first, then I will embrace whatever president my fellow Americans decide to elect and work with him or her to make this country even better than it is. It's a hard decision, because I am very conservative, and that value really goes right to the core of my being.

Ultimately, it is undeniable. I am an American. And as such, I congratulate Barack Obama on being elected president of the US. I also began praying for him tonight with Chase, a practice I will continue. I prayed that he will be an amazing president. I prayed that he will energize this country like we've never seen. I prayed that he will be blessed with health and wisdom. I prayed that in 4 years, I will be proud to vote for him for re-election.

During this election, I have learned a few things. I have learned that it really is fun and rewarding to be part of the process. I have learned that I don't ever plan to sit on the sidelines again, and am looking for my place in politics. I have re-learned that I am proud to say I'm an
American, and that I accept Barack Obama as my president. It's not easy for me, and I will not say that I am thrilled about the outcome tonight, but as my dear friend Kale said...God is in control, and God is NOT worried about an Obama presidency. God is bigger than any concerns I may have, and He has a plan that is being carried out. God never wrings His hands in worry, as I do. I did my part, now I need to step back and watch God do His. It's not mine to worry about, it's His, and no matter how much I think He may need my help, honestly, He can handle it without me (can you imagine??). So, I'm going to let Him handle it and I'm going to pray only for the best for the US. I hope those of you who, like me are feeling disappointed and worried tonight will join me in this prayer. It's in all of our best interest if President Obama is a fantastic president. I'm hoping and praying for that, will you join me?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Shack

God and I conspired and gave my mom a book (it's such a cool story, and I LOVE being in cahoots with God on something!!) while she was visiting here in Vegas. It's called The Shack and everyone's book club is reading it at the moment, so I'll bet a lot of you have already read it. I have just started it, but quickly am on page 120, to my shock. It's a fantastic read, and really speaks to having a personal relationship with God. In this book, a man meets God in a shack in the woods. When I say he meets God, I mean face-to-face with a real, live incarcation of God. Not some ethereal feeling or presence. God is present, and has a physical body. (The kind of body God has is a surprise that I'll keep to myself so you can read the book.)

When I was a child, both of my grandfathers died the year I turned 8. I was very distressed by these events, for obvious reasons. Death, loss, grief, watching both parents deal with the loss of their fathers, all had a huge effect on me, and I remember those days vividly. I had a "Shack-like" experience with God in those days. I had an incredible dream after one particularly bad night where I was sitting on a log with Jesus. I was allowed to ask anything I wanted, and He answered me.

Yes, I said He answered all of my questions. I still remember the questions, but by morning, I did not remember any of the answers. I felt so much better about everything after that dream. I have always loved that very personal experience I had with God. I know, many people have and will suggest that it was just a dream. God and I know better! I do wish I knew why grandfathers had to be taken away from 8-yr-old girls, but I remember that God's answer to my question completely made sense to my 8-yr-old soul, so I know there is a good answer to that question.

It's amazing when the creator of the universe comes to meet you where you are, isn't it? Sometimes when I'm feeling really low, I forget about that gift I was given. Thinking about that gift reminds me how important I am to Him. That's a great feeling! Reading this book brings back those feelings and I'm enjoying experiencing them again.