My Husband, the Robot

When Ken was a little boy, people would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer was consistent: either an Indian or a robot.

I find that especially funny because his goals, by their very nature, were unattainable. But 7-year-old boys don’t usually think through such things. Eventually his dreams changed to more reasonable aspirations in education and ministry.

Fast forward 30 something odd years. A few years ago, Ken was teaching a General Psychology class at a local community college. One of the things he took his Psychology class through was Jung’s Personality Test, which evaluates a person for personality preferences for things such as extraversion versus introversion, or thinking versus feeling.

Ken has taken numerous personality tests before. And he always scores the same in one area: 100% thinking, 0% feeling.

His classes teased him, “What are you, some kind of robot?”

“Why, yes, thank you!”

Perhaps his childhood robot dreams weren’t so unattainable after all.

The Great Name Debate

What in the world should we name our children? Or should we name them at all? That is the great name debate in our household.

When we received our referral information in August, we received not only pictures, but names and medical information on the children. They had both African names, and English names: Rose and Emmanuel. Of course, we’re a bit confused. Are they called by their African names (which we don’t know how to pronounce) or by their English names? Have they just begun to be called by their English names, or are the names a sort of pseudonym for us to use when we communicate about them with our agency?

So, we’ve faced a quandary. What should we call them? What will we call them?

We could keep “Rose” and “Emmanuel” as their names. They are perfectly fine names, and they may be already answering to those names even as we speak. They are easy to spell and pronounce, and will fit in with American culture.

We could keep their African names. Although we don’t know how to pronounce them — or even what language they are in, it’s something we could quickly catch on to. If I have indeed figured out how to pronounce Rose’s African name, I actually think it’s kind of cute. And with all of the change that the children are about to go through, keeping their name the same might be one less change. But still, their names will always be difficult to pronounce to Americans, and they won’t know anyone else with similar names.

We could reuse the names that we had intended to use for the twins, who indeed never existed, so the names have never been used. In fact, we were seriously considering this option before we lost the three- and six-year-olds who were originally referred to us. But in all honesty, to attempt to name a third pair of siblings “Palmer” and “Emelia” has lost its appeal, at least for now.

We could rename them entirely. After all, they will be our children, and we have that right. To be honest, I would really love to name our children ourselves. I’ve always loved choosing names, but other than naming our dogs, Buddy and Holly, I’ve not had the chance to choose many names. Oh sure, I’ve made suggestions for names, like when I suggested that my chemistry-teacher friend name her daughter Ethyl Methyl Polly Ester. Somehow, she didn’t go for it. 😉

Why all the name debate? If the children were younger, it wouldn’t be such a quandary. But three and four year olds are old enough to know their names. Orphans have so little to call their own. Quite possibly, the only thing they will come to us with is the clothes on their backs, and their names. To thoughtlessly take away what little they have doesn’t seem right.

So we have decided  . . . not to decide, at least for now. We probably won’t decide until we get to the Democratic Republic of Congo and find out a little bit more about their names and their significance. We’ll probably tuck a naming book into our luggage as we travel. For now, we’ll probably still refer to them as “Rose” and “Emmanuel,” since that seems a bit more personal than “the boy” and “the girl,” even though I really don’t necessarily want those names to “stick.”

So at least the foreseeable future, the great name debate will continue. What in the world should we name our children? Or should we name them at all? Only time will tell.

Fallfest Snack Mix

Fall has arrived early in middle Tennessee. Temperatures have dropped into the 70s during the days, and the semester is well underway. I know the college students in our ministry are hard at work on projects and papers, so I crafted a little fall-inspired snack mix for their late night sweet-and-salty snack cravings. I made a ginormous batch, but to bring it down to mere mortal proportions, here’s what I used:

Fallfest Snack Mix

  • 3 C Reese’s Puffs cereal
  • 2 C candy corn
  • 2 C mellow-creme pumpkins
  • 2 C Ritz pretzel rounds
  • 1 1/2 C Cheez-Its
  • 1 1/2 C Pepper Jack Cheez-Its
  • 1 C chocolate chunks
  • 1 C dried pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 C dried cherries

Mix together, and store in air tight container. Ratio of ingredients does not really matter, as long as there’s a good mix of sweet, salty, chewy, and crunchy. I packaged it up in treat bags to give out in Sunday school tomorrow. . . . and of course I kept some back for us to try. You know, for “quality control” purposes. 😉

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The Perfect Day

Inspired by a few of our favorite things, today Ken and I had a perfect day to celebrate of our 15th anniversary and the payment of our referral fees. The past few years, Ken and I have celebrated our anniversary at Old Hickory Steakhouse, or by buying a NHL Center Ice cable package. This year, we celebrated by taking a day off together to do some of our favorite (or favourite) things.

We started the day by sleeping in. No alarm. We even convinced Holly to sleep in until 8:00 a.m. We enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee before heading out to the post office to mail our referral payment off. (Yeah!)

We had a couple of other stops to make before we headed to Food Truck Fridays at the YWCA on Woodmont Boulevard. We both tried a new food truck: Mere Bulles. I tried the crab cake sliders and mac and cheese bites, while Ken opted for a mac and cheese burger and sweet potato fries. The food was phenomenal!  And I got a slice of pie from Just Like Nannie Fixed It, and Ken got a plum ice from Izzie’s Ice. Picnic tables were set up on the lawn of the YWCA to enjoy the gorgeous weather for the day. With a high of 73 sunny degrees, it was a perfect day to enjoy the outdoors.

We then headed to Centennial Park, where we sat on the steps and people-watched, and sketched to our heart’s content. We were particularly fascinated with a man who was sprinting back and forth in front of the steps. On purpose. Curious.

We then turned packed up the car and headed to the Nashville Public Library’s downtown branch. Ken signed up for a library card, and we enjoyed their beautiful facility. There is a cafe in the library that was featured on the Food Network, and we decided to stop for a late afternoon snack special: a latte and piece of cake for $4 total. I got the pumpkin cheesecake, and Ken got a chocolate raspberry cake. Both were amazing! We then walked through the gallery on the second floor, which featured mixed media portraits of the mug shots of the Freedom Riders, who heroically sought to desegregate transportation in the South.  The paintings often contained newspaper articles about their arrests, JFK’s response, and their struggles to promote equality among all races. The story is amazing. The library also features a beautiful courtyard with a fountain, and large study rooms. We were genuinely amazed at all the features of the downtown library — and they even validate parking!

We picked up some groceries before heading home to watch this week’s episode of Survivor. It was one of the best kickoff episodes of a season, ever. We loved it!

Finally, we finished out the evening by making our version of our favorite meal at Old Hickory Steakhouse. We had grilled steaks (which had been marked down for immediate sale at Kroger this afternoon!), applewood smoked blue cheese mashed potatoes, and mascarpone creamed spinach. I must say that we did a pretty good job mimicking our favorite dishes!

But by far, the best part of today was getting to spend some uninterrupted time with each other. We will definitely always treasure our perfect day!

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Our Miracle Has Arrived!

Six weeks ago, we needed a miracle. We needed $13,000 within 90 days for our referral for a sibling pair from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and we didn’t have it. We also needed approximately an additional $4000 for other fees as well. We needed money to rain from heaven, and in fact, it did.

We began to hear from many who told me that God had told them to donate a specific amount to our adoption, and they were doing so out of obedience, out of love for us, and for the plight of these precious children.

As we’ve crunched the numbers, gathered checks, calculated amounts we have received, and funds that our agency received directly, I am excited to announce that our miracle has arrived.

We are paying off our $13,000 referral fee and our $1000 post-placement deposit fee  TOMORROW.  God didn’t even need 90 days. In half that time, through the generosity of His saints, we are paying the fees to be able to rescue this 3-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy. We stepped out in faith, not knowing how the miracle would happen, but many of you stepped out in faith right along side us.

Thank you for travelling this journey with us. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your prayers and kind words.

And thank you sweet Lord for our miracle!

We hope to be able to pay off the final $2300 agency fee within the next couple of weeks, and the remainder of our vaccinations when we get them next week. We will then be transitioning to raising funds for travel expenses. We’re estimating at least $6000 for flights alone for all four of us, but it is difficult to predict airline fares, especially if we need to travel with little notice. We are planning on saving money by staying at a convent in Kinshasa, rather than a hotel, which will also provide us with economical meals as well. We’ve already paid over $21,000 of the expected $28,000 total, and it looks like total expenses will be closer to $30,000.

We know that we still have a way to go to raise the funds that we need by the time we travel, but it seems small in comparison to $13,000 in 90 days! The bulk of the “ransom” has been paid!


Food Trucking For a Good Cause

Ken came and snatched me from work today to take me to a joyous event: Food Truck Tuesdays at Second Harvest Food Bank. Grilled Cheeserie, Riff’s, Mas Tacos, Happy Eating, and Maggie Moos were all gathered in one spot to raise money for Second Harvest Food Bank. Second Harvest opens up their dining room for a nice cool dining space while enjoying some great food truck fare.  

September is Hunger Action month. One in six Americans struggle with hunger, and this is the month to go through your extras in your pantries and stock the food banks in your church and community with anything you can spare. Your donation could help a family know where their next meal is coming from.

For more ideas on how you can get involved in Hunger Action Month, check out Second Harvest Food Bank’s 30 Ways in 30 Days!

Cute As A Button!

Every semester, Ken and I find ourselves adjusting our schedule to accommodate new classes, projects, and ministry opportunities. This semester, his evenings are pretty packed with activity. He has Upward practice on Monday and Tuesday evenings, college small group on Wednesday evening, college worship service on Thursday evening, and of course church on Sunday mornings and evenings. The past couple of weeks, he’s had a Saturday night church activity as well, and now he has Upward games on Saturday mornings too. I’m thankful for Friday evenings.

So with Ken away, I’ve dusted off some old hobbies, and decided to do some crafting. Not wanting to spend money to buy crafting supplies, I’ve gone to my stash of leftover items from crafting exploits of the past.

I started collecting buttons about 10 years ago, I think. It started as saving the extra buttons off of clothing purchases, or buttons that had fallen off of clothing that I never bothered to sew back on before the item landed in the Goodwill pile. Finally, I ended up with a jar like this:

Having plenty of wire, crimping beads, a short length of chain, and miscellaneous other beads left over from crafting projects of yesteryear, I had the needed supplies to create something like this from Lenora Dame (which costs $105):


I started by choosing roughly similar pairs buttons from my pile. (I dumped my button jar out and this is what pattern they landed in. I kind of like it.)


I narrowed it down to these.


I put them in a roughly symmetrical pattern — not totally matchy matchy, but similar. If I were less obsessive-compulsive, I would totally wing it.

I am not less obsessive-compulsive.

I strung the buttons on 28 gauge wire, attached it to the chain length with jump rings, and in no time, had a fabulous new necklace to enjoy!

 I think it turned out pretty cute! Not bad for crafting from the scrap pile!  I can’t wait to have a little girl to introduce to the wonderful world of making crafts from random objects!

The Blessing of Divisiveness

I really dislike September 11.

I’m sure there were good things that happened on September 11, 2001.

Babies were born.
People were married.
Birthdays were celebrated.

But all these were overshadowed by commercial airlines flown by terrorists crashing into buildings containing people.
People like you and me.
People who dreaded a Monday morning.
People who enjoyed a walk on a beach and a dinner with loved ones.
People with 1.75 children.
People with two slightly mischievous dogs.
They were civilians involuntarily involved in a war they didn’t initiate.

On September 11, 2001, I was preparing to give my first quiz in my first year of teaching at IWU. Back in the day when I had a 5 minute commute, I was on my way out the door when I caught a glimpse of a building on fire. Not sure if it was current news or where the building was, I headed out the door. The day had to continue.

Even by the time I got to work across the street, the details were coming in. My tender-hearted secretary tearfully filled me in on the details. It was a commercial airliner. It was the World Trade Center. Thousands of people had just arrived to work. Hundreds if not thousands were dead already. But the day had to continue.

I taught three sections of lab that day, getting updates from the secretary in between classes.
Each report was bleaker than the one before.
A second building was hit.
One tower fell.
Then the other.
The Pentagon.
A field in Pennsylvania.

I just wanted to cancel classes for the day. How can we talk about tissues of the body when it we’ve just gone to war against a vicious enemy?

It was a terrible unforgettable day.

If there was anything good to come of that day, I believe it was that it united America against its enemies. The terrorists awoke the “sleeping giant.” We were unified in our anger and in our tears. For weeks, there was an outpouring of love for victims, and a grounding of so many normal activities. We sat huddled around our televisions and loved ones until we couldn’t bear to watch anymore. We were united in our anger, our grief, and our love.

Over time, it changed.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I remember hearing the first words of dissention.
Whose fault was this?
Which President failed?
Should we really go to war?
Who are our enemies anyway?

The questions angered me.
They were not unifying.
They were divisive.
Questions meant to pull us apart and point fingers.

And for ten years, the questions have only become more heated. We no longer focus on foreign enemies seeking to attack us. We attack each other across the political aisle. The political tension in America is palpable. Much worse than pre-war days. Tough words are hurled at opponents. No one seems happy with how things are going.

What happened to the days when we were so united? We were all angry at the same people, loved the same people, and leaned on each other in our time of grief. Now it seems we want to pin each other against the wall about everything.

In a strange way, I suppose this is what we are fighting FOR. We are fighting for the right to express our opinions, our individuality. If I want others to hear my opinions, I must hear the opinions of others, even if I vehemently disagree. So while this muddled anger and finger-pointing is frustrating, it also brings a peculiar sense of victory.We are fighting against those who would take away our freedom to speak our minds. The fact that we are even allowed to dissent and disagree with each other is a privilege worth fighting for. So even in our arguing, we are fighting together to defend our First Amendment Right.

We are united by our divisiveness, and it’s a privilege I’m thankful to have.