Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Years Resolution - Kinda Like A Diet, But Not Really

So…I was getting dressed a few months ago and tried to put on my lucky pants.

The important point to note…is that I tried to put them on. If anyone ever starts a story with “trying” to put on a pair of pants – you know it can’t be good.

Most likely that person has been putting on pants for at least 20 or 30 some odd years. They should know how to do this. Clearly I do not.

It was immediately obvious to me that they had shrunk in the drier.

I thought…is it actually possible to shrink sweat pants and notice? Isn’t the main benefit the margin they allow? And it dawned on me…I had not washed those sweats in months. I began to slowly realize that there was the slightest, teeniest possibility that I had gained a few pounds. When you can’t fit into your sweat pants – things are looking very bleak.

For a moment I thought, “This is why people have New Years Resolutions! I’ll just stop eating!” I assume this could work very well – until I get hungry. And I get VERY hungry.

My friend Anne still tells the story of when we were back packing around Europe together, and I just HAD to have an entire rotisserie chicken, right there on the side walk – without any plates, napkins or utensils (apparently they don’t believe in these “extras” in Denmark). Just me and my rotisserie chicken. She’s still not over that one. It was unsightly, to say the least.

So back to my New Years Resolution Diet - I came up with an improved plan that included eating: just a burger (really, JUST the burger - not unlike that popular “all protein” diet which worked great for some of my friends.)

However, if you’ve ever tried it – you’ll quickly notice that plain burgers are quite, well, plain. So I decided I would just throw in the bun and call it my “protein and bun” diet (I never did understand why eating an entire T-bone steak and half a pig was better for you than a few tomatoes).

Now I was on a roll - I could "up the ante" with a WHEAT bun. After deciding to add the WHEAT bun…it became clear to me that the whole thing was going nowhere. I resolved then and there to throw in some cheese - low-fat cheese…that’s right… 1 %. Is there such a thing? There should be! I’m not going to go crazy with skim milk cheese or something insane like that. I don’t want to end up an anorexic. I considered going to diet-coke, just to cinch the deal…but decided against it. No point in taking things too far.

If it wasn’t for a little detail like moving to Africa in a month, I would seriously consider a gym membership. I could just picture it… after several weeks of no improvement…I’d realize that the membership was not good enough. I’d actually have to go.

So then I’d go, and be furious. The place would be packed. No place to park. I’d have to find some spot farrrrrrrrrr away from the front door. Which is very annoying…before my mile run – to have to park 22 spaces away from the door.

And once I finally got to the door – I’d realize my gym most likely would have a policy about showing a membership card (which I was destined to forget) and some other form of ID.

Which brings me to my main point - this bit about showing ID is ridiculous – don’t they say only 20% of people with gym memberships actually go? Do they really think with 80% of the people not going (and still paying for it)– that someone WITHOUT the membership is actually going to have the incentive to show up?

I dare that person. They could have my card. I’d switch to skim milk cheese.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three Things I Said I’d Never Do (and Do)

#1. Own and proudly drive a mini van.

Yes, I am here to say boldly, “My name is Julie Ostrand and I drive a mini van.”

For years I said “Never, ever would I drive something so unashamedly predictable as a mini van.” I remember thinking in my college years, “It should not be legal for these Mini Van Stressed Out Moms to have daily access to that much horsepower. It simply isn’t safe for other drivers.”

Perhaps. But I have to say…I LOVE IT. The room, the convenience, the sliding doors. It’s great! And my mini van is not one of the newer-attempting-to–be-cooler models. Oh no…it’s hunter green, bought used, and nearly 10 years old. It’s perfect – and if Africa doesn’t work out – I am fully prepared to live out of my mini van till Jensen graduates. It’s that spectacular.

#2. Put my children in a ridiculous number of simultaneous activities.

I totally caved and am not the slightest bit proud of myself. I thought it would take till my daughter was at least 10 for me to be running around like a crazy person with Jensen’s activities – but at the tender age of three years old I had this child in gymnastics, dance and Kindermusik. What? Is that really necessary? Certainly not.

You would think I could conjure up some twirling, somersaulting singing-dancing-wonder moves at home….enough to impress a three year old…but clearly I lack some serious skills (and this is by no means a complete list of my skills deficit).

#3. Let my children wear anything with “characters.”

I am not a big fan of cartoon characters on clothing for my kids (it’s great for yours). Maybe an adult retro Popeye T-shirt is alright – but characters like Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, and Big Bird should stay far away from my daughter’s wardrobe.

Unfortunately, I seriously underestimated the Power of Princess. Princess, princess, princess. I admit, with some hesitation and not a little discomfort, that at this minute my daughter is enthusiastically wearing her princess jammies (complete with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White – with their knowing smiles, perfect cheekbones and strangely timeless outfits). She wants to wear it everywhere, all day, every day. I have no energy to fight the womanly wiles of Disney Princesses.

It's a moot point to mention that up until about a year ago - I said I'd never go to Africa. Ha! So if you think you'll never go to Africa...

On a side note, here are things I said I’d do but haven’t (yet): Learn another language, bake a cake (I refuse to bake a casserole under any circumstance), read Tolstoy, memorize the Constitution, visit every state, muster up the energy to count calories and exercise, check out books from the library (instead of buying them), be on time to everything, say no once in a while, ignore Double Stuff Oreos, etc.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why I Love Omaha

I can’t believe we leave for Africa in 48 days!

Here are 5 things I will miss every single day about Omaha.

1. The Dodge Expressway: I know this is old news – but I have to say, there is still precious little that makes me happier than the Dodge Expressway. Even though 100 million dollars were spent to bypass one stop-light – I feel my life has seen vast improvements because of this.

2. Ice skating: My family plays hockey in the winter on Nebraska Lakes – Standing Bear being our favorite.

If you have little talent and can barely skate – consider yourself invited (we don’t like to include anyone that has any actual hockey skills).

3. All the fabulous places to eat:
- “Slice, salad, soda” lunch special at Zios
- “Spinach and artichoke dip” at Charlestons (of course!)
- “Smoked gouda soup” at Upstream
-“Chicken tacos” at California Taco
- “Los Alamos pasta” at Stokes

Someone may have to find a way to air mail me some “avocado egg rolls” from Kona.

4. Village Pointe: This summer Jensen loved our routine of sandwiches at Paradise, the Ferris wheel at Scheels (she was barely tall enough, depending on the shoes she wore and would wave wildly after every rotation), and ice cream at Cold Stone. I will try to expunge from my memory the time Jensen was sitting outside of Coldstone, happily spooning her sprinkle ice cream, while nonchalantly, and without any prior notification, peeing right through the mesh chair and onto the side walk (be careful which chair you choose there – last I checked the incriminating pee stain was still visible).

5. You: Every single one of you will be dearly missed. You each have touched us in a million different ways and our hearts are broken to leave this place we love, filled with people we adore.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

9 Things To Be Thankful For in 2009

#1 IT ALL WORKS OUT: Although it may not be the best idea to have an estate sale in the middle of November from a third-floor apartment with only 3 days notice – it’s not the worst either. You all were great to come out!

#2 CRAIGS LIST: What could be better than free want ads you can post instantly online? We sold our baby dresser (to a friendly, pregnant Papillion teacher), bedroom set (to someone we realized is a friend of a friend of a friend – thanks blogger), and high chair (to a Russian bride) –all perfectly random, nice people...that did not appear to particularly want to slit my throat any time soon (I've read the Craigs List horror stories too).

#3 BARNHART BOXES: I am truly in love with Barnhart Press boxes and would probably marry them if I hadn’t committed to Karl previously (they donated 100 boxes to our move – and I have to say these boxes are perfect in every way). If you need a local printer, this company is the BEST:

#4 MOVING FORWARD: We’ve sold most of our lighting, of all things, which makes this seem like someone else’s apartment (lighting really effects me). I am surrounded by price tags on everything I own (my own personal in-door garage sale - kinda like a home on CRIBS, but not) , and nearly all of my clothes are hanging from a 12 foot soccer goal in our dining room (very odd). I feel like I’m living someone else’s life at the moment – but life is good – it’s all moving forward (literally). We are moving in with our parents on Saturday (to get help with Karl's back surgery on Monday). Both sets of parents are AMAZING and have worked tirelessly to help us. We are so grateful to them!

#5 SIMPLIFICATION: There is something very refreshing about downsizing your life to about 5% of your former possessions (although coats are still my weakness – is it wrong to keep 15 if I am giving away 30 – considering I’m moving to a Mediterranean, sub-tropical location? Should I even be admitting this?).

#6 EMME HAS SKILLS: Our sweet Emme! She can go from laying down to sitting up (see video to right or visit for larger video) and has recently started the “Vietnam one-arm, rice paddy crawl.”

#7 JENSEN LOVES PINK: Pink tutu, pink walls, pink bed - perhaps a slight overdose on pinkness - it's better than a 3 year old into "grundge," I suppose (see video to right or visit for larger video).

#8 ONE FABULOUS MAN: Karl is the best. For Thanksgiving he got up early to feed Emme, and I slept in till 10 am. I haven’t done that in years! I couldn’t ask for a better husband.

#9 1621 – The year of the first Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday (who doesn’t love the only holiday built in with a 4 day weekend that includes the best meal of the year?). Wikipedia says Thanksgiving is “historically a religious observation to give thanks to God.” Not a bad idea, I say. Not bad at all.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Micro, Micro and More Micro

I met a loan officer from Uganda last week at an open house for Opportunity International. Their 3 tiered approach to micro-finance is impressive!

MICRO LOANS: A typical first point of entry, the Trust Group brings together 10 to 30 entrepreneurs who elect leaders, receive training and pledge to guarantee each other’s loans. Because the group guarantee replaces the need for collateral, credit becomes available to those previously locked out from formal financial services (98% pay back rate).

To provide savings accounts to people who have never had access, Opportunity is building a network of scalable, sustainable and accessible banks throughout the developing world. Savings bring stability and a means to move away from subsistence living. Interest-bearing savings accounts provide a secure, convenient way for clients to manage money and prepare for a crisis or a business opportunity. Medicine for a sick child can be purchased with a few dollars in the bank.

MICRO INSURANCE: Opportunity’s MicroEnsure, the world’s first and largest microinsurance broker, provides protection against the many risks faced by those living in poverty. Innovative products cover policyholders with crop, loan, health, life and property insurance – offering clients a safety net when an unexpected hardship or disaster occurs.

How cool is that?

Check out more info on Opportunity International!

Want to PERSONALLY give someone across the globe a micro-loan RIGHT NOW? View profiles and photos, hand pick your entrepreneur, and get paid back. It's not a hand-out! See

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Only Hair

The many phases of my hair...some more brutal than others.

Please vote in which "Hair Era" you met me.

The Piggie Era (2 1/2 years old)

Au Naturel (what can I say? I was 5)

First Perm (wow - there are no words - I was devastated)

Jr. High Perm Continued
( clearly not devastated enough to get off the perm-crack habit -
I think I had a perm for 10 straight years)

Sr. High Big Hair

Longggggg College Era
(there's still just SO MUCH of it - had I not heard of sissors?)

Jett Black
(dyed it in France at the end of my self-inflicted Euro tour)

Platinum Blonde (it's a bit more fun)

Brown (back to the basics)


Red (so I wanted to be a red head)

Make that a bobbed red head

Matchy-matchy -but not


Short, brown (I hate to say it - mom hair - but I love it)

That about sums it up!
Please vote for the "Hair Era" in which you met me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

10 things we need to do before we go…

#1. Get visas (the B1 84 VISA specifically - this is basically “permission” to enter the country granted by South Africa – a long 8 step process, including a police report proving our lack of criminal activity - think they'll let Karl in?)

#2. Finish our immunizations (we’ve gotten so many we couldn’t even tell you what’s left)

#3. Obtain an international driver’s license (this in no way helps with the ability to actually drive on the other side of the road)

#4. Finalize health insurance (maternity? no maternity? adopt?)

#5. Pick seats for the 24 hour flight through Amsterdam to Cape Town (attempt to be as kid friendly as possible to avoid handing out our “airplane parent apology cards” - yes – we really do have these).

#6. Put together a pre-school curriculum for Jensen (today she saw the number 3 and said "that's MY number" - she can count to 10 - if you don't take into account the fact that she's anti #8)

#7. Back Surgery (Karl has a herniated disk - good times)

#8. Divide up all possessions (between “store,” “sell,” “give away” and “take to Africa" – holy array of decisions!)

#9. Move in with parents (with Karl’s surgery, he’ll be out of commission for weeks and I’ll need help,...we’ll toggle between both sets of parents – trying to stay long enough to have good quality time but short enough to avoid completely wearing out our welcome and causing them to wish we would leave for Africa MUCH sooner)

#10. Celebrate our 8th year anniversary (best decision I ever made was to marry Karl Ostrand)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's so great about Women?

Here are the top 3 "Great Things" about the women I know:

#1: Lung capacity:

My father says that men are not able to get "a word in edge-wise" around a chatty group of women (is that redundant - chatty and women?) because while a man is taking in a breathe between sentences (not even a very deep breathe, he claims), we are able to spew about 100 words - completely changing the subject 3 times before he can get out his first few opening paragraphs.

He attributes this to the greater "lung capacity" of women and conservative use of air - with our high pitched voices as a key asset.

I'm not sure about that - but whenever my father pauses - however momentarily - we usually cover an entire day's worth of riveting activities, a complete dissertation on the benefits of children who like hummus, and few mindless details on Very Annoying Things (aka the lady at the pumpkin patch who said in passing that Emme should stick in her tongue because “a bird could poop on it.” What?).

All that to say, lung capacity has long been underrated.

#2 Matchy Matchy

My husband is actually a pretty sharp dresser (when he wants to be). He can quite successfully mix and match a cornucopia of shoes, belts, jackets, shirts, ties – with little to no female consultation or subsequent color or texture infractions. He’s not even afraid to carry around a “man purse” (not sure how this relates – accept it goes to prove that he has some skills in the closet akin to women).

What is a complete enigma to me – is how he adamantly purports that he is in no way capable of matching our daughter’s clothes together – EVER. Jensen’s closet is a vast an array of pink – you can pretty much just “grab something.” Unfortunately for the unsuspecting masses, his “children’s clothing matching phobia” is well warranted.

When I am too rushed to “please lay out an outfit for Jensen” – the results are disastrous. I regrettably assume he’ll match some pink pants to any of the seemingly obvious array of pink compatible shirts.

Not so much.

When left to his own devices, Jensen usually looks like she dressed herself - in the dark - on laundry day - with a serious mission to impersonate a box of legos.

#3 Our complete disinterest in video games (there's way too much to get done in any given day), shoot 'em up movies (where are the cute outfits?) and Fantasy Football (how exactly does that work again and why is that fun?), and Taco Bell.

Need I say more? The benefits speak for themselves.

What's so great about women in the US?

As many of you know, around 5 years ago the company I worked for pioneered a new approach in the home building industry - called Woman-centric Matters.

The idea is that it just makes good business sense to tailor your business to women - from marketing, sales techniques and product offerings - because women make (or directly influence) over 90% of home-related buying decisions (check out or for details). We even researched and developed ideas on how to make your web site woman-centric (

I think most women (and their husbands) already know this.

What's so great about women everywhere?

So...when I attended Sheryl WuDunn's talk last week (former Times correspondent who co-wrote “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide"), I realized it's not just women in the US - but women all over the world that hold the key to industry and economics in the palm of their hands.

Her ideas are referenced in this is a great article in The New York Times:

Here are the highlights from the Times article...

Disturbing facts

- 39,000 baby girls die annually in China because parents don't give them the same medical care and attention that boys received — and that was just in the first year of life.

- In India, a “bride burning” takes place approximately once every two hours, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so a man can remarry.

- There are 107 million females are missing from the globe today (more than all the men killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century or slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century). Women live longer than men, and so there are more females than males in much of the world. Yet in places where girls have a deeply unequal status, they vanish. China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population (and an even greater disproportion among newborns), and India has 108. The implication of the sex ratios is that about 107 million females are missing from the globe today.

- Girls in India from 1 to 5 years of age are 50 percent more likely to die than boys their age (parents don't give them the same health care and food as boys). In addition, ultrasound machines have allowed a pregnant woman to find out the sex of her fetus — and then get an abortion if it is female.

- 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, including sexual servitude. Girls and women are locked in brothels and beaten if they resist, fed just enough to be kept alive and often sedated with drugs — to pacify them and often to cultivate addiction.

- Another huge burden for women in poor countries is maternal mortality, with one woman dying in childbirth around the world every minute. In the United States infant mortality is 1 in 4,800 - in Niger, a woman stands a 1 in 7 chance of dying in childbirth at some point in her life.

With all that's bad...what's so great about being a Woman?

The New York Times says...

There’s a growing recognition among everyone...that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

WHY DO MICROFINANCE organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks?

One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men.

Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week.

If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries.

A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.

Economist Esther Duflo of M.I.T. found that when the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves,” Duflo says.

Aid has often been most effective when aimed at women and girls; when policy wonks do the math, they often find that these investments have a net economic return. Only a small proportion of aid specifically targets women or girls, but increasingly donors are recognizing that that is where they often get the most bang for the buck.

Yet another reason to educate and empower women is that greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism. Indeed, some scholars say they believe the reason Muslim countries have been disproportionately afflicted by terrorism is not Islamic teachings about infidels or violence but rather the low levels of female education and participation in the labor force.

How does it work?

In general, aid appears to work best when it is focused on health, education and microfinance.

Here is an example of one micro-finance model referenced in the article:

Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani microfinance organization that lends tiny amounts of money to poor women to start businesses. Kashf is typical of microfinance institutions, in that it lends almost exclusively to women, in groups of 25.

The women guarantee one another’s debts and meet every two weeks to make payments and discuss a social issue, like family planning or schooling for girls. A Pakistani woman is often forbidden to leave the house without her husband’s permission, but husbands tolerate these meetings because the women return with cash and investment ideas.

So one more time - what's so great about women?

We rock! Isn't the better questions - what's NOT so great?

When the power is in our favor...people are less poor, less violent, less miserable. How great is that?

I think it's pretty cool to sport some estrogen, and I can't wait to be involved with micro-financing in South Africa!

Footnote: The information in this blog was taken directly from The New York Times article "The Women's Crusade" - please visit this link for the full article:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 Things that Disturb Me


There has been a long standing dispute in our household. Should you use warm water or cold water when running the disposal?

I don’t see how there can be any question. Of course it’s COLD WATER! Doesn’t everybody know this? Everybody accept my husband. Karl obstinately holds on to some flimsy theory presupposing that scraping dishes in warm water should lead to running the disposal in warm water. What? I’m disturbed.

Cold water in the disposal is not a suggestion for me – it’s one of my bedrock principles – a code by which I live.

A very credible source (our family plumber who looks like he’s been in the business for 125 years) passed this little domestic nugget on to my mother, who wove it into the very fabric of my upbringing.

I have been proudly and rather successfully running cold water in the disposal for four Presidential administrations. I cannot be persuaded otherwise. Something about the motor not overheating – need any explanation be necessary?

The triumph of my summer was when our apartment plumber backed my position – with what I thought to be a rock solid thesis on warm water making the grease slip down the drain easier.

So now…Karl always shouts (no matter what room I happen to be in when he’s running the disposal) “Cold Water!”

It gives me such deep satisfaction to know that no matter what may be wrong with the world – cold water is running in my disposal.

We were next in line for the ride at Fun Plex, when the people behind us realized that the rollercoaster car held 4 people. There were only two of us in my party, and I could hear the other family grumble, “Well, 2 of us are going to have to go with ‘those people’.”

Those people? THOSE PEOPLE? How could they be confused? I’m not “those people.” They are the THOSE PEOPLE.

The other day I’m standing in the check-line at Target. Jensen turns to the cashier and says “Does everybody have a bottom?”

I look at her – look at the “nice lady” – and say confidently, “Yes, everybody has a bottom.” Well, they do, I figure. No one can dispute that. Not even the cashier will fault me for admitting to this.

So then she says, not too quietly, “Did God make everybody’s bottom?” Now the cashier looks unsure…a bit bewildered. This is getting to be a lot of “bottom talk.”

“Yes, Jensen – God made everybody’s bottom.”

I can only hope the flustered Target team member appreciates my willingness to clear this up and does not assume our family has some sort of bottom fetish.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fear Itself - The Results: Part II

There are 31,536,000 seconds in year. Should you waste even 1 on worry?

Is it ever worth it to worry?

I surveyed about 30 women (as research for the women's retreat I spoke at) and asked 5 questions with interesting results...

Have you ever worried about something that later happened?
85% of you said YES

Clearly most of us at some point in our life had worried about something that then later happened. I was surprised this wasn't 100%.

If so, were you glad you worried about it in advance?
90% of you said NO

The overwhelming majority of us wish we had not spent even small amounts of our short and precious life worrying about it – even if it did happen.

A few people were glad they worried – they felt it help them “mentally prepare.”

Here was an interesting comment: One of the most serious things i worried about happened and i lived through it. Through the process of living and leaning on God I am learning His faithfulness, His love and His air tight covenant ways and how trustworthy He is.

Have you ever NOT worried about something bad that DID happen?
95% of you said NO

If so, do you wish you had spent time worrying about it?
100% of you said NO

Not one single person every regretted NOT worrying. I can say that if I had known that someday I would have a child with Down syndrome, I would have spent a whole lot of time worrying about it from every angle for 34 years. As it is, Emme is wonderful and with my 31,536,000 seconds in year, I was happy that I didn't waste even one tiny second on worry.

Is there a difference between worry, concern and fear?

What you said…

About 2/3 of you said there is a difference. Here are a few of those answers…

True fear can keep you from making unwise decisions...can keep you alive.
Concern gives you the chance to change the course or outcome.
Worry never changes the course or outcome.

Maybe just the intensity or magnitude...add up a few worries and you have a concern...add up a few concerns and you find yourself fearful.

Fear can be something that probably won't happen.
Concern is something you might think about and do something about it.
Worry is when you can't let go of it--over and over in you mind.

What the dictionary says…

1. a distressing emotion whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
2. concern or anxiety; solicitude

Worry torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret. torment with cares, anxieties, etc.; trouble; plague. seize, esp. by the throat, with the teeth and shake or mangle, as one animal does another. harass by repeated biting, snapping, etc.

1 .to trouble, worry, or disquiet
2. worry, solicitude, or anxiety:

Notice a pattern here? I'm not sure I see much of a significant difference.

So what’s the solution to all this needless worry?

Here are a few famous suggestions by four noteworthy men (all of which I found to be not the least bit helpful to us women):

#1 The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying “If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry. And if there is no solution, there is no need to worry.”

Ahh, very catchy. My problem with this is: We all know it’s true - most worries have nothing to do with solutions – and that knowledge gets us virtually nowhere. If they did, the lot of us with husbands who have been known to offer a solution or two, would have quit worrying years ago.

#2 Thomas S. Kepler, a respected biblical scholar and author, is credited with the statistic that only 8% of the things we worry about actually happen.

I think we all whole heartedly agree that worrying is not logical. Does this realization help us to worry less - even though we know 92% of it is pointless? Also – if 8% of the stuff I worried about could legitimately happen – that would still be quite a few awful things!

#3 Don't Sweat The Small Stuff by Dr Richard Carlson says you should just ask yourself - "Will This Matter a Year from Now?"

My thought? Yes!! Many things we all listed in our “every day worries” could actually matter a year from now (child getting hit by a car, not paying credit card bills on time, loosing income, etc.). Again, not so helpful.

#4 Dale Carnegie, in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living suggests asking the question, "What is the worst that can possibly happen?”

Umm…a lot of really BAD STUFF, Dale!

So what’s the ultimate answer to our piles of fear and worry?

I think the truth is that the Lord’s Prayer was made for women – women who worry, specifically. Here’s what I think the "Lord's Prayer" is really saying...

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

The key here is "Thy will be done, on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN."

How do we know if something we are worrying about is “His will?” - is it something "God wants?" A good question to ask is "would this type of thing happen in heaven?"

When you're tempted to worry - pray for His will.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Daily bread represents all of your needs (not wants). Most fears have to do with unmet needs.

If you're worrying about something you need - ask Him to give it to you (hey- this isn't my suggestion - it was Jesus' idea to ask for what we actually need).

And forgive us our trespasses,
His forgiveness of our trespasses saves us from an eternity of our very worst fears constantly coming true (hell itself). This is the most important thing - whenever you feel guilty, chances are it's for a good reason - because you've done something wrong. Tell God just that "I've done something wrong", make it right with whoever you need to, and ask Him to forgive you.

Sometimes when we worry - we're really just feeling guilty. Take care of it.

as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Most fears about this life have a lot to do with bad things other people may do to us. Forgiveness, although it does not change the bad thing that happened, allows you to move past it so that the bad thing, although it polluted the moment it took place, does not have to pollute the rest of the moments after that.

If you're worrying about the wrongs people have done to you in the past - forgive.

And lead us not into temptation,
Temptation to do all the things we shouldn't.

If you're worrying about something tempting you - ask God to steer you very far away from temptation of every kind (the little tiny ones and the great big ones).

but deliver us from evil.
Evil sums up the root of our deepest fears.

Ask God to deliver you from all that is, by definition, "evil" (according to the dictionary - evil is anything...morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked; evil deeds; an evil life; harmful; characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous)

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever. Amen
The Kingdom – when you experience it here – is the opposite of every fear.

The Message Bible's translation for this line is "You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes."

Ask God to bring His Kingdom now.

I think the Lord's Prayer pretty much covers every type of worry!

Monday, October 5, 2009

3 Things I hate to admit


The other day I decided to iron some office clothes (keep in mind I don’t think I’ve done this for about 2 years).

I remembered that I had been suckered into a fancy new starch in the check-out line at the fabric store. “What was I doing at a fabric store?” you ask yourself. Buying a patch (I’ve never bought a patch before – but decided desperate times call for desperate measures). At any rate, I proudly ironed my economic-down-turn patch on to my favorite jeans that have a hole on “the back pocket area.” This patch proceeded to come off half way through a grocery store run unbeknownst to me – only to be discovered at home when everything felt a little “too breezy” back there.

Back to my point – the starch. I decided to starch a pair of linen pants for work. Everything was going quite nicely – till I discovered at the end that I had been using Scotch Guard instead of starch. The bottle of Scotch Guard my husband recently bought was obviously too much akin to the bottle of starch (or at least I’d like you to think the bottles were similar). What can I say? They both start with “S?”

So now I have a pair of weather-proof linen pants. That’s just great. The next time it rains in my office I’ll be covered.


Those who are close to me know that I have an embarrassing and well known habit of wearing my shirts inside out – or maybe backwards – and then going to public places. I’m usually in too much of a hurry to really pay attention to the placement of the tag (I know – you are wondering how a somewhat seemingly observant person could disregard the tag – but trust me, it’s easier to do than one may realize).

It’s all well and good if you have a roommate to catch you in time before you head out the door – or a husband who pays attention to these things. Unfortunately for me, I’m about 10 years past roommates and my husband was out of town. Also unfortunately for me, my 3 year old, though genius that she be, is not adept enough at abetting her mother of potential clothing faux pas (she still thinks wearing a popsicle swimming suit to preschool is a good idea).

So I’m at work – in a meeting with my 3 bosses (yes, I have 3), and I’m proudly wearing my new black shirt inside out (fortunately not backwards). The entire time I’m thinking – these people keep looking at me – I’m sure they’re wondering where I got such a great new black shirt. Afterwards my boss kindly mentioned to me that it might be possible my shirt was inside out – and then my other boss stops by to let me know. Thankfully, my third boss is a man and less likely to notice such unimportant details – or admit he notices them to me at least.

Should I cut all of tags off? Should I put “this is the front” post-its to all my cloths? Maybe I should just stop leaving my home?


Well, I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. I just didn’t think it would be last week. We were at CoCo Key and my darling three year old was at the top of one of the kiddie water slides, with her dear grandfather at the bottom – arms open wide, ready to catch her.

Suddenly she starts crying at the top of the slide and screaming “Poo-poo! Poo-poo!” while simultaneously ripping off her swimming suit. Her unsuspecting grandpa – not quite realizing what was happening, notices a brown stick-like object being pushed down the slide by the gushing water. With lightening quick reflexes, he grabs the poo in one hand, before the lifeguards (who really are like Big Brother at this place) realize their little kiddie pool has been infected by human feces. I’m not quite sure what he did with it – but this man is a saint. Sorry about that CoCo Key lovers!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why the Love Fest with Jimmy John's?

I truly in my heart despise Jimmy John's. I know I am the ONLY single, solitary person in the entire western world that feels this way – since everyone I know LOVES this place. But I really am baffled as to why. WHY? Gourmet sandwiches are so 2008.

My husband, of course, LOVES Jimmy John's, and I think if he hadn’t married me – he would have married Jimmy John. In my mind – nothing in my life has been more overrated with such cult-like followers than JJ. For my husband, it’s gotten to the point where if he knows he’s going to be eating without me, for any reason whatsoever, he immediately makes a beeline for JJ.

So today, some family friends suggested we go there (poor Karl was out of town), and they are the kind of friends who are so remarkable in every way that I couldn’t bear to have them thinking they are unfortunate enough to know the only person in the whole world who doesn’t like Jimmy John's.

So we went.

I thought – I’m sure I’m overreacting – I haven’t given it a CHANCE. Ha!

I am there with my two children and say to the pleasant looking cashier - “Well, to start. I’ll just get a kids meal.”

Nope, no kids meal. They suggest a “slim” – which is apparently what most kids get – just the bread with meat and cheese.

I try to order The Number 4 (the slim with turkey and cheese) – and they say “No – it’s not The Number 4. Just The 4.”

“Ok, Ok, my mistake. Just The 4 then.” I say (clearly I’m trying to pull a fast one). They smile.

“With mayo. “ They stop smiling.

You can’t have The 4 with mayo. Obviously that wouldn’t be slim any more. God forbid you bulk up a slim sandwich with mayo. So they direct me to The Number 4.

It’s been a slow start, but now I’ve successfully managed to order The Number 4.

“Can I make that the meal deal?” – I ask, with some hesitancy. I don’t want to expect too much.

“Um…do you mean the Combo?”

“Oh, yes…yes…the Combo.” (they really should change that to “Meal Deal” I’m thinking).

“Sure – do you want the pickle OR the cookie OR the chips?”



“Well…I want all three” (I’m quickly failing to see where the combo part is coming into play). They smile.

“And can I have milk?” They stop smiling.

“No, we don’t have milk.”

I was reaching for the stars here.

At this point my father pipes in from behind me and asks if they have coffee – No, no coffee. You too, dad, want to have it all.

“OK – well – can you warm up the baby food for me?” Most places do this.

“No, no way to do that.”

“Alright – well just add a drink then.”

“That will be $12.45.”

Wow - $12.45 for my combo (very appropriately not named a Meal Deal) and extra drink. It must have been the pickle AND the cookie that pushed it over the edge.

Finally I sit down with my sandwich, prepared to share it with my 3 year old. It’s not divided. Now I need a knife to cut it.

“No ma’am – we don’t have knives.”

Of course.

“We can cut if for you.”

How very helpful.

So again – I pose the question. WHY the love-fest with Jimmy John's?

High point about South Africa. NO Jimmy John's.

Fear Itself - The Results: Part I

Let's talk about YOU!

I recieved about 30 surveys from women sharing their deepest, darkest fears. All told, I would say you are a pretty brave lot. Here are the results from some of the questions.

Note: I spoke at the retreat last weekend and it was great. I thought the other women who shared had some very insightful points. More on that later....


What are some “brave” things you have done over the course of your lifetime?

- Drove through Chicago in rush myself.
- Apparently riding horses is brave! that has been my sport of choice since I was 10. I love it!
- Started CPR on a dying man 9.
- Jumped off a (40 ft) bridge into a lake.
- Gave media interviews about controversial political issues and allowed my name to be quoted.
- Spoke in front of large audiences of college students.
- Moved to NYC when I was 9 months pregnant with my 2nd child
- Decided to become a parent.
- Became my mom's conservator/guardian in my 20's when she could no longer care for herself due to the ravages of multiple sclerosis.
- Navigated through the world of special needs when my fourth child was born.
- Got counseling in my mid 20's when my parents divorced and being able to put aside my pride to admit that I needed help coping.
- Went to a refugee camp in Africa.
- Buying a house I wasn't sure we could afford.
- Deciding to have babies...and go through pregnancy and labor.
- Found my bio logical father and brothers and sisters.
- Got divorced and raise my son as a single mother (while dad playing Disneyland)
- Became a piolot - flying and successfully landing a plane.
- Getting my Masters degree.
- Started my own business.
- Moved to Vegas alone with less than $200.00 and only one suitcase containing everything I own.
- Went away to college.
- Parasailing.
- Confronting my boss about an affair I learned he was secretly having.
- I got married, had children and stayed married (this is not a joke!)
- White water rafting
- Confronted a pastor about not buying a car.
- Backpacked in bear country in Alaska.
- Moved several times to new states where I knew no one but my husband.
- SCUBA diving
- Mission trips to Kenya, Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama
- Quit job to embrace my calling to stay home and home school my children.
- Mothered a terminally ill child whom I loved as my own.
- Took fifteen 13 year old girls on a 2 week trip across the country (11 of which had their period at some point on the trip) maybe this was more NUTS than brave though.
- Being honest and open with others
- Fighting cancer with my best friend and then letting her go / helping raise my best friend's precious daugher sans best friend
- Keep attempting to do the right thing-regardless

What are your "Ultimate Fears?"
- The torture thing does it for me too.
- Having my child kidnapped and never knowing what happened.
- Not completing my goals.
- Not being patient with my children.
- My husband dying
- My kids dying
- Cancer or some other life altering disease that would rob me of my ability to be a wife and mom and stay independent.
- My kids being abducted and abused.
- Being homeless.
- Fire
- Car accidents
- Being destitute in any stage of life
- Drowning/not being able to breathe
- Failure. I haven't fallen down very often in life and so as the risks get bigger, the chances of failure are greater and are more public
- Being buried alive
- Failing at business
- Farting really loud in Yoga class and having no one around me to blame it on.
- Losing my teeth in a car accident
- Having someone throw hydrochloric acid in my face while I'm shopping for groceries
- Leaving my children motherless
- My husband dying a leaving me a single parent.
- Someone breaking into our house
- Something bad happening to my name it: injury, kidnapping, abuse, being bullied, not drinking enough milk, etc...
- Not having as much influence on my kids as the culture does. I fear them becoming self-centered, materialistic, shallow, and enamored with the world over Jesus.
- Missing God's purposes for my life because I let myself be too busy to hear His voice.
- That I will miss hearing God.
- With my mother having Alzheimer’s that I will develop it. And at times I might get a sensation in the head and then fear tries to enter in.
- Car accident.
- Not having enough money.
- Not having enough faith.
- Disappointing God.
- Outliving my body and my mind. (My grandmother lived to be 103 yrs. old.)
- Cancer recur.
- Being "alone"....not for a day or a week-end....but ALL the in elderly people.
- Not having enough money to live.
- Being paralyzed.
- Being terminally ill.
- Being confined to a wheelchair
- The unknowns of the future
- Destitution--although i have faced this and come through it so i need to get rid of that one no big deal:)
- Being fat
- Being unable to do adventurous things with my kids when they are adults

What are your "General Fears?"
- Not saving enough money for retirement.
- Home invasion (this is a fairly new one for me)
- I get laid off and we have no health insurance.
- Not having a good relationship with my kids when they are adults.
- Not making wise decisions.
- Not being healthy.
- Losing my friends
- Financial ruin - declaring bankruptcy.
- Mice.
- Looking back and regretting that I didn't do something, missed opportunities.
- Thunderstorms, lightening
- Doing speaking engagements
- Confronting our children when they are not following the Lord
- Parents in general don't parent anymore and we'll end up with generations of ill-mannered, selfish, entitlement-driven people who will ruin our country
- Stability at work/economy
- Health of my parents
- I struggle with a fear of abandonment since childhood. Also fear of man.
- Snakes
- My daughter losing the rest of her hearing and my husband and I not being fluent in Signed Exact English.
- Being a victim of a crime
- Failure
- Closed in places
- Heights
- Getting pulled over and having a warrant out for my arrest
- Someone who knows me will see me with my hair wet. I have very fine, thin hair and I look like a drown rat when my hair is wet.
- I don't spend enough 1:1 time with each of my children.
- I will grow old and will not have done everything I hope to do in life.
- Bees/wasps/ irrationally strong fear that I try to hide from the kids, but I'm usually less than successful.
- Finances...feeling like we're not saving enough for the future, both our retirement and the kids' college.
- Water...I never passed beginners in swimming lessons
- Kids or husband being in a car crash
- Water leaking into the basement
- My kids being harassed by peers
- Not being good enough, smart enough, patient enough etc.
- Being lost and lonely when my kids leave the nest
- Dying some kind of horrible death...i.e. a dreadful car accident.
- Not being a good enough wife/mom/daughter/sister/grandmother/mom-in-law/daughter-in-law, etc.
- Not being loving and compassionate enough. Growing old and bitter and grumpy because I didn't let God help me handle the challenges in my life in a positive way.
- Leaving a country that is so much less than the one I was born int
- Unexpected change not of my own choosing
- Living in a country w/out freedom
- Doing something incompetent at work
- Cancer
- Alzheimer’s
- Fear my life won't have meaning at a certain point....the way many of the elderly feel
- Drowning in an airplane disaster that happens over the sea
- Snakes
- Not educating my children the way God intended
- Being a widow
- Fnancial stupidity
- Losing my job
- My husband losing his job
- Having enough money for retirement
- Are my kids going to grow up and be upstanding citizens who choose to do the right things
- Not being healthy in my old age
- Something awful happening to my children.
- Not having enough money for retirement
- Losing my health, physically and mentally

What are your "Every Day Fears?"
- The furnace will go out before we have enough money to replace it.
- My child will not drink enough milk and will consequently be malnourished.
- My child learning her ABC's and numbers by the time she should know them.
- Getting the right home school material.
- That I'm wasting time.
- That my children will have their tantrums at inconvenient locations and times.
- That I won't get everything done I would like to.
- That I won't be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
- Making a mistake and not looking perfect or put together.
- Not making enough money to get us through the next year.
- Car accidents
- Sicknesses
- Bills
- Somebody making fun of my deaf daughter
- Forgetting to pick up my child from school
- Safety of family and friends
- Gaining weight
- Running into my ex boyfriend on the elevator
- Hurting someone's feelings
- I won't get my credit card bills paid on time
- The phone will ring and that long list of to do's won't get done.
- I'll say the wrong thing
- Getting lost.
- Having dinner guests and the food turning out really awful.
- Mental lapses. What is this survey, and why am I taking it?? :-)
- Kids getting hurt (physically, emotionally or spiritually)(especially by others)
- Am I raising my kids right
- Getting old
- Watching my parents get old

What things have you done to overcome your fears?

- Quoted Bible scripture to myself.

- We have a pet snake and I was deathly afraid of them but I forced myself to adjust and acclimate to it. I slowly got near it then touched it then eventually held it for short periods. I now can hold it for a long time and am no longer afraid.

- Confiding in my husband

- Confiding in trusted friends

- Tried to approach things logically. what's the worst that could happen? what would my response be if that did happen? take preventative measures when appropriate. for example: in marriage, work at communicating regularly, set dates, discuss expectations prior to events, etc. all this helps keep the relationship on track.

- Keep moving forward - the risks and challenges get bigger and I know that I can get stuck if I let fear consume me. So I prioritize an action plan and move forward.

- I am very selective who I leave my children with - you can say I am as proactive as I can be.

- Pray

- I only go to yoga if there is someone next to me that looks like they fart a lot

- I take the stairs so I don't run into my ex boyfriend
- I wear protective head gear whilst driving

- Read books-knowledge to me is power.

- Counseling: to learn to let some of my fears go because they are out of my control.

- I came to realize that fear controlled me and that life is for living. I allowed fears real and imaginary to steal from me. But it was also something that God used to show himself to me and to learn to trust him.

- Confessed my fears to others and asked for prayer

- Positive self talk.

- Buried my head in the sand and tried not to think about it (not productive but helps me sleep at night)

- Stick with things that challenge me.

- Try to keep learning so I'll reach a level of excellence in my job that will give me more confidence.

- Pray

- Think about other things

What is one thing you would do if you were a little bit braver?

- Go back to school.
- Bungee jump
- Run for public office.
- I can't think of a thing. I'm pretty adventurous and will try just about anything.
- go Para sailing
- Go back to college get a degree in teaching
- Leave everything here and go live in Sudan
- Scuba dive (i know, it sounds stupid; but when you are a poor swimmer and petrified of not being able to breathe, i guess this activity is right up there!)
- I would step out and do what I think I hear God telling me to do even when it sounds ridiculous because it usually ends up being right, and I regret it later, but at the time I'm not brave enough to stick my neck out and trust that what I think I'm hearing from God is really Him. It's the whole fear of man thing.
- Streak naked across the football field during super bowl
- I would speak at a National Special Education Conference.
- Skydiving or scuba diving.
- Speak up more often as He leads.
- Learn Spanish so I could speak it fluently
- Jumping out of an airplane looks kind of like fun.
- Jump out of an airplane
- This is difficult for me to answer. I would like more boldness in areas... but I don't know about bravery. In fact, when I think of that word, the connotation to me is that I'm doing the work rather than Him. Less of me "trying to be brave" and the freedom that comes with complete submission of my life to Him.
- Do more socially, I tend to be a little socially awkward
- Be friends with my mom

See what I mean? You all were great!

Stay tuned for my next blog posting - "Fear Itself - The Results: Part II" - where we'll take a look at your thoughts from the survey on the difference between Fear, Worry and Concern - along with notes from my speech at the retreat.

If you have any thoughts on the survey results above - I'd love to hear from you. Please post a comment now (just click on the COMMENTS link below).

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Can’t Believe I don’t Miss DiVo

Right about now I can imagine that you’re wondering what DiVo is.

Well – it’s like TiVo, but in Omaha we have the option of DVR (Digital Video Recording by Cox). To say you “DVRed” a show has no ring to it. No appeal. No catchiness. Who wants to sit around DVRing things? Apparently people in Nebraska do. This surprises no one. Well, not me. So DiVo is my ghetto version of TiVo.

And now for my shocking confession: there was a point in my very recent past that I was bound and determined to give up… my first born child (well, maybe both of them), go without food (perhaps just the appetizers – anyone who has been to dinner with me knows that I’d rather give up all 4 limbs than skip the appetizer – although I suppose that particular trade off would make eating the appetizer rather cumbersome) or switch from Target to Walmart (a huge sacrifice – I really am a very unbecoming person the moment I walk into a Walmart - the nice person I occasionally think I am makes an immediate dash for the door)– where was I? Yes, determined to give up my most prized and guarded expenditures - before I would give up DiVo.

And can you blame me? The ability to record shows (who wants to watch TV in real time anyway?), pause and rewind (I am always talking in the middle and missing something crucial - you do NOT want to watch television with me under any circumstance), and skip commercials (does anyone still watch those?) – was the best thing EVER.

All of that to say – we realized that since we need to save money for Africa – DiVo had to go.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to take another job.

I wanted to sell both our cars and walk places. Well, maybe not walk places…that’s going a bit far.

So I put on my big girl pants and unplugged DiVo.

I thought I’d be suffering from post-DiVo depression (sure to be much worse than any case of Post Pardum depression, Miss Kirstie Alley!), but I have to say IT’S NOT THAT BAD.

Before you start picturing me bravely enduring this great sacrifice - right up there with World War II rations - completely reformed and no longer sprawled out in front of the TV watching all manner of educational programs (American Idol, American’s Got Talent, Kings, Coyote Ugly Reality Show, etc.) – know this. We found the loop hole. Yes…there is a loop hole!

THE LOOP HOLE: We discovered that with one special secret cord we could plug our laptop into the TV and watch all our favorite shows on our flat screen TV, but really from our computer (I only mention flat screen to illustrate we’re watching real, live TV – only it’s not real or live). Which meansssssss…we can still watch things NOT in real-time (my favorite shows days or weeks later), pause and endure only 10 second commercials. It’s kinda like my beloved DiVo…but FREE. Thank you $80 savings!

Now I just need a sexy name for it – LapVo? MacVo? Have I always been this nerdy? Probably.

This single realization has greatly enhanced my life (AND we get to keep both our children, vehicles, and crab cake appetizers).

What more could you want? Precious little.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fear Itself

I've compiled a list of my Ultimate Fears.

And while I was at it - I thought I'd go ahead and tally up my "general fears" and "every day fears." Why not be specific, I say?

I am speaking at an upcoming retreat at our church and the topic is fear.

At first I thought - this is great - I'm not an especially fearful person. I have so much great advice to offer! Ha! I often wonder at the fact that I don't know myself better.

To start, I quickly and overconfidently ran through my off-the-top-of-my-head list of things I've done that could be considered a little scary:

Here is my list (with associated "my fear scale" 1-10 - 10 being the most scary)

1. Attended a private school with a class of less than 50 for 12 years (k-11) and then switched my senior year to a public school (class of 500), knowing practically no one.
Fear Scale For Me: 4

2. Backpacked around Europe for 2 months (half the time with a friend/ half the time alone)
Fear Scale For Me: 1.5

Trip included
- Bungee jumping off the then highest bungee in the world: Fear Scale For Me: 3
- Ice climbing: Fear Scale For Me: 2
- Para gliding: Fear Scale For Me: 1
- Traveling by train alone all over Europe: Fear Scale For Me: 1-5, depending on the moment (I had read some stories about people cutting out your liver to sell on the black market while you slept in a train compartment – so that would push me closer to 5)

3. Backpacked around Vietnam by myself
Fear Scale For Me: 7 first day/ 1-3 for the other 59 days

4. Traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan 5 months pregnant (with my husband)
Fear Scale For Me: 1.75 (it is a warzone after all)

5. Had a child with Down syndrome and was accosted with all the bad things that could happen (if you ever really want to scare yourself, skip the horror flick and try reading about potential health, developmental or social problems for people with Down syndrome)
Fear Scale For Me: 1-4 (I curtail most concerns by simply refusing to read anything about this - probably not the best way to be prepared, but certainly the easiest way to avoid the fetal position)

So at first I was a little proud of myself - thinking that in some instances throughout my lifetime I've managed to pull off a little fearlessness (probably closer to complete and utter stupidity). However, if I was to be completely honest, with age comes the explicit realization that mortality is but a breath away and inching closer every second.

In the spirit of candor, here is my List of Fears, broken into 3 categories:

1. Ultimate life-long fears
2. General ongoing fears
3. Every day fears

As much as I hate to admit any of this...

1. Ultimate life-long fears
- being tortured (I know, I know - why? why the torture? who knows? but I am very creative with the ways it can be done - it's not so much death that concerns me - but all the pain and suffering preceding). Fear Scale For Me: 11
- looking back on my life at age 80 and realizing I spent my time doing things that just didn't matter at all (a life led with no real purpose) Fear Scale For Me: 9.5
- loosing all my limbs and turning into a stump person (I can clearly visualize my husband pulling me around on skateboard at the grocery store) Fear Scale For Me: 9.75
- entering the Great Depression and never coming out of it (thank you economic downturn - this one includes being completely destitute on the street with no food, scrounging in dumpsters, and rags for clothing - take-away to the under the bridge warming their hands by the fire “ghost of Christmas future” scene in A Christmas Carol). Fear Scale For Me: 10

2. General ongoing fears
- horses (who is brave enough to ride these? Are they crazy? Helloooooo! Christopher Reeves!) Fear Scale For Me: 9
- not saving enough for retirement (boring fear – but oh, so scary) Fear Scale For Me: 9.25
- someone kidnapping my child and holding her in their backyard tent for 20 years (I tailor this according to current news stories) Fear Scale For Me: 11
- producing a very hairy teenager because I have not been vigilant enough with organic dairy products Fear Scale For Me: 8

3. Everyday fears (perhaps this would be better labeled worry – things I actually worry about every single day)
- not being as wise as we should be with our finances Fear Scale For Me: 8
- Jensen getting ran over by a car in the parking lot Fear Scale For Me: 9
- someone abusing my girls when I’m not around (I try to be around a lot without being a “hover mother”) Fear Scale For Me: 11
- not doing enough exercises with Emme and permanently ruining her development Fear Scale For Me: 10

Alright – so there you have it! The List.

So, to help with my research for this retreat – I’d like to request your help. Would you mind giving me some feedback on your fears? You can certainly submit your thoughts anonymously.

Visit to take the “Fear Itself” survey.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Are we crazy?

So what does it mean to leave a great job, amazing friends, an irreplaceable family - to move to South Africa? Perhaps it means that we're out of our minds?

That being a really is tough.

Travel is great - who doesn't love travel? But uprooting your life is an entirely different thing. To rip your two beautiful children away from their adoring go during these economic times and hope to God (literally) that someone will support MOVE to a continent I've never been to?

Before I talk myself out of it...let's review the facts:

1. Since I was young I've felt called to serve overseas (I think my parents regret ever praying that the Lord would call us to the nations)
2. It's taken a long time for this door to open - and it finally seems like everything is coming together to go now
3. Is there a point in waiting? To take our kids out of elementary school or high school? Or wait till we're retired and have health issues? It appears to be now or never.

Am I scared? Who wouldn't be?

But Karl and I feel within the depths of who we are that this is what we are meant to do. He loves the place (Africa has always been on his heart), and I love the approach (partnering with Africans to change the world).

Anyone else want to come? I've heard there are a few mountains and oceans to make it worth your while. Perhaps catch a World Cup game? Tempted to visit us? Visist to join us on our journey.

If not...I'd love to hear where you'd like to move - any where in the world - if you could.