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Checking 13 Bags of Crazy Thru to Bucharest Part II: Our Hosts


Our Hosts

The view out of our hotel window our first morning in Romania
The view out of our hotel window our first morning in Romania

  As we awakened to morning in Romania, we were greeted with the honking of cars down on the streets, a cool breeze from the open window and the neat realization that my hair appliances were not going to be working on this trip.  Before you think I’m too much of a traveling rookie, I must say that I did try to prepare for this.  I bought a converter and adapter before we even left the states.  Then, just days before leaving I read the instructions only to be alerted to the fact that it was NOT to be used with hair appliances.  Instead it was only good for small gadgets like cameras.  Well my thought on this is phthttttttt!  I don’t want to use my camera for pictures if I can’t do my hair!  Hello!  It’s not that I’m ultra vain, but I was born with naturally frizzy hair…and a lot of it.  Not pretty curls, and not smooth and straight.  It is the main reason, that I could never be on a reality show like Survivor, that and I get hangry if I don’t eat. They’d tell me to bring one thing I needed if stranded on an island and I’d be there with a straightener and no plug in sight.  Anyway, my plan was to just buy one when we landed because we originally were going to go to a supermarket for supplies.  However, with the flight fiascos, I thought I’d be smart and just buy one in the London airport while we were on our layover.  Pretty smart huh?  I’ll admit I was pretty pleased with myself for thinking ahead.  Yet, to my chagrin, the plug for England doesn’t fit the receptacles in Romania, go figure.  So, I spent the morning knocking on doors asking our group if they had anything with which I could do my hair.  I did borrow a hair dryer from Tammy and Laura Kleinmann, and as I’m writing this I’m remembering that I need to go buy a new one for these ladies as I blew theirs up trying to use it with …you guessed it, my converter.

See...the hair don't lie!
See…the hair don’t lie!

On a deeper note, we made our first stop at an orphanage that Manna is now constructing.  The construction and vision for it was originally that of a widow woman from the U.S. who had moved to Romania to start an orphanage. She had already helped start it before the building of this facility.  Some, who are still in the care of the orphanage, are adults with special needs.    She, unfortunately, ran into some health and then financial obstacles that prevented her from finishing the project, so she passed it along to Manna Worldwide.  It is going to be an amazing facility when finished.  Their model for orphanages is called Bridge to Life homes where they have a married couple raise the kids as their own in a family setting.  This way it is not a dormitory, uncaring, or impersonal atmosphere, but rather a close knit family unit functioning with responsibilities and raising of kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There will be enough space for four family units to live in this facility with quite a few kids per unit.  My only regret is that we didn’t get to meet the young people who will initially get to live in this building due to time constraints and our late landing and altered schedule.

The future Bridge to Life home in Campulung
The future Bridge to Life home in Campulung
Praying for the future of this Bridge to Life home
Praying for the future of this Bridge to Life home


Hearing the story behind the vision.
Hearing the story behind the vision.

After touring the home we loaded back into the bus for a five-hour drive to Severin, the home of Pastor Rica and his family.  Pastor Rica, we noticed was a passionate and thankful man.  Just moments into meeting him I realized, “oh we’ve got a hugger here!”   He hugged 2nd Man probably a dozen times before we even got to his home.  He definitely knew how to make a group feel welcomed.    Upon arrival we were greeted at the church with a church tour and home cooked meal that was amazing!  The church construction was only finished this past April of 2014.  They had gotten the plans from our own church back in Ponca City, OK and adapted them to fit their needs.  It was so warming to see this church with so many similarities to our own and know that we had gotten to be a part of the planning of this building.

Pastor Rica arm in arm with 2nd Man
Pastor Rica arm in arm with 2nd Man


One of our fabulous dinners served by the tireless people at the church in Severin
One of our fabulous dinners served by the tireless people at the church in Severin


The new church in Severin!
The new church in Severin!


A view inside the sanctuary
A view inside the sanctuary


Another sanctuary view
Another sanctuary view

At dinner we were informed that our leader, Manna Director Jerry Abbott, as well as 2nd Man and myself would be staying at the home of the Gonciulea’s and the Ciupuligas.  My initial thought was, “oh no!”  I mean, it was kind and generous of them, but my private shy side sometimes gets panicked in these situations, as well as my private want-my-own-bathroom side.  However, we were here to serve and I quickly dismissed my hesitations and decided to roll with it.  Imagine my glee when we rolled up to their house to find a huge, western world style home that allowed 2nd Man and I to have our own basement suite complete with private bathroom!  Now, let me give some background on how these missionaries were blessed with these accommodations.  I assure you it is not because they’re just rolling in the dough.  While they lived in the states they were blessed with a beautiful home and were able to bring over the plans to Romania when they moved back.  Apparently the construction workers weren’t adept enough to do the English to metric conversions correctly and they ended up with a much larger house than the original plans called for.  This worked greatly in their ministry’s favor for the first fourteen years of being back in Romania, as the church used the great room as their church sanctuary and the basement for children’s’ ministries.  As a matter of fact, they had only just finished redecorating and getting their American furniture out of storage before we came.  It is pretty expensive to even get an apartment in Severin, so their Son-in-law Sammy, daughter Becky, and grandson Sammy all live there comfortably as well.  What a blessing!


The missionaries' house
The missionaries’ house
A view into the great room that formerly served as the church sanctuary.
A view into the great room that formerly served as the church sanctuary.


The "suite" that 2nd Man and I stayed in. (please pardon the luggage strewn across the side of the picture. I'm not a very neat traveler)
The “suite” that 2nd Man and I stayed in. (please pardon the luggage strewn across the side of the picture. I’m not a very neat traveler)









They were such hospitable people too. We were treated so well and enjoyed some wonderful conversation.  I likened it to staying at the home of Jesus.  I actually felt kind of guilty though in that we weren’t exactly suffering for the cause if ya know what I mean, that and the rest of our group was staying at the local hotel.  I was later relieved to know that the hotel was quite nice and comfortable for them.  They came over in the mornings on the bus after breakfast to meet up with us and go out for the day.  But, best of all (well ok best is an exaggeration but roll with it) they had a hair straightener and blow dryer I could borrow!  Yea me!

The Hotel Flora where our group stayed.
The Hotel Flora where our group stayed.

We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast every morning with eggs, and cheeses, salami and home jarred current and sour cherry jams on fresh bread bought daily.  I was sure I would not go home hungry.  Pastor Rica enjoys gardening.  That sounds like a pretty generic sentence in context with the degree to which he actually enjoys it.  Though they are in the city limits they have an entire orchard in their backyard with plum, apricot, cherry, and peach trees.  Along with a garden full of tomatoes, eggplant, blackberries, raspberries and a farmers market full of other things.  We were privileged to eat of his harvest and it was fabulous!  2nd man and I strolled through the garden one evening with Pastor Rica as he kept shoving berries into our hands.  I would just get my mouth wiped and here came more!  Gotta love a man who keeps shoving sugar in your grip right?


A view of Pastor Rica's orchard
A view of Pastor Rica’s orchard

Truly God has blessed this family for their great sacrifices.  I don’t dare presume that it isn’t without it difficulties.  They, however, don’t choose to share those readily and those of which I am aware aren’t mine to share.

But, suffice it to say, we were humbled and honored to share their home and company for the short time we were there.


In my next post I’ll share the joys of the church services we experienced…

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Checking 13 Bags of Crazy Thru to Bucharest



2nd Man and I at the banks of the Danube River
2nd Man and I at the banks of the Danube River

We took a little jaunt over the pond to Romania this summer. It was a mission’s trip for our church to visit a feeding center we sponsor via Manna Worldwide I say it all casually, but truly it was the first time I had technically been out of the country and I was excited out of my socks! When Pastor told 2nd Man he would be heading up the trip and I could go along, I was thrilled and honored. One of my biggest joys is to see things I’ve never seen before.

One of my other joys is reading biographies. In the past several years I had read the biography of Richard Wurmbrandt who started an organization called Voice of the Martyrs and others like him. He told of his time imprisoned in Romania under communist rule and his escape from the country after his release. It struck a curiosity in me as to what life must have been like behind the iron curtain (and still is like in some parts of the world).

Pastor Rica and Cathy Gonciulea
Pastor Rica and Cathy Gonciulea

The missionary we were visiting, Rica Sever Gonciulea and his wife Cathy had a similar story in their escape across the Danube River into Serbia, and making their way to the United States. They didn’t get to see their children for three years, before they could get them over to the states as well! You can see The Gonciulea’s story here. However, what is even more impressive is that they don’t just readily offer up this information about themselves, but live for now and the future in winning souls to Christ, feeding and teaching underprivileged children and helping get orphaned children off of the streets. They are so humble in fact, it is a bit intimidating to be in their presence. Serving alongside their daughter and son-in-law the Ciupuligas they are a worthy foe for the enemy.

Rebeca, Sammy and  little Sammy Ciupuliga
Rebeca, Sammy and little Sammy Ciupuliga


A lot happened on this trip, so I think I will break it up into parts so as to cover all of my thoughts. So here is part one:

Getting There

We showed up at the church on time and all was looking pretty clear for our departure. Everyone was in good spirits and seemed rested up and ready. Our motley troupe of travelers consisted of; 2nd man and myself; one of the secretaries, Miss Lynne; a mother and teen daughter duo, Tammy and Laura; another mom and her two teens Cynthia, Carissa and Karston; a couple of other ladies, Judy and Suzette; a single lady from a sister church in town, Michelle; and another mom and her 8 year old daughter, Connie and Kyleigh. If you were able to follow, that was 10 women, a little girl, a teen boy, and 2nd man. Pretty heavy on the estrogen this group was.

Our Three Amigos: Judy, Lynne and Suzette caffeinated and ready to travel!
Our Three Amigos: Judy, Lynne and Suzette caffeinated and ready to travel!


I’ll take this moment to put in a disclaimer that I truly do love everyone that went on this trip. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I’d never want to displease Him or hurt them. Any views of frustration or annoyance are meant in good humor and this is my story. I’m very sure I was the source of frustration to others as well, but they can write that story.

2nd man had tried to prepare us all ahead of time, knowing that large groups of women, with little male presence, could sometimes boil into trouble. Mix that with at least four (maybe 5) of which are strong choleric personalities. No offense to the cholerics out there, just a fact that it’s a strong personality type. Then mix that with us melancholies on the trip…well let’s just say that the word for this trip was FLEXIBILITY. However, his reminders to “die to self” and be flexible were well taken and well applied, as we soon would find out. I had suggested that we get shirts that said “It’s a good day to die!…to self” but we decided that was probably not a good idea when traveling through security at the airports.


2nd Man trying to figure how to check 13 bags of crazy onto the plane
2nd Man trying to figure how to check 13 bags of crazy onto the plane

When we arrived at the airport our little motto of flexibility was instantly put into high gear. We were supposed to be allowed to have two checked bags each since we were a humanitarian group taking shoes and other activities to children overseas. Well, the first airline that we checked in with didn’t get that memo and we ended up paying $1200.00 to get those shoes and bags over there! 2nd man did a primo job at assuaging the initial frustrations and working with the airlines to sort it out. Then, while checking in our bags one in our troupe had packed everything including a kitchen sink I think, so we had to disperse some of her belongings throughout everyone else’s. It was an eye rolling moment that we soon found out would be the least of our worries.

We got through security rather well and were on our way to the gate where we were welcomed with the news that our flight was cancelled! Not delayed, but all out cancelled. As we stood in line to get our schedules rearranged the airline attendant announced that we could call an 800 number to talk to someone directly with the airline that could help us. Since we had a large group we initially thought this was a good idea. Immediately one of the ladies started dialing right alongside of 2nd man. Now this was amusing to me since 2nd man was the leader. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, so I tried to politely say aloud to 2nd man “don’t you think we should only have one person calling? That way we won’t be doing any double booking?” She didn’t take the hint. Finally, 2nd man realized that she had the need to make this call so he conceded and let her talk to the person on the line since she got through a little faster than he. However, this proved futile as the airline worker had to make different flight arrangements for each person in our group individually. They had, at one point, our resident 8 year old, flying separately from her mom! I was a little appalled and would like to take this moment to suggest to American Airlines that they get a better “group travel” reservation set up. After going through all of this rigmarole, we had to rebook everything one at a time AGAIN with the airline worker on site, so the whole phone call thing was in vain anyway.

After 7 hours of this nonsense everyone was on his or her way to Chicago. We were split up onto two different flights, but we were on our way. We were actually excited though, because it looked like we would get a 7-hour layover in London and maybe go see some sights. However, that dream was crushed when we arrived in Chicago, ran through the airport (which is quite large I might add) only to find out that our flight to London was now delayed as well. Boo! I had a glimmer of hope that maybe the two ladies that had been separated from us could now get on board the same flight to London, but that would not happen either, so we all hurried up to sit down again until the flight left.

Our Route to London
Our Route to London


A little side note on international flying in coach class if you’ve never done it: For some inhumane reason, the airlines walk you through the first and business class sections of “spread out and prepare to be pampered” before sitting you back in the cattle car area of the plane. This is cruel and unusual punishment for the middle class person in my opinion. Keep in mind I’m only 5’2”. However, I was in the middle of the middle section of the plane and thought I was gonna crawl out of my skin. There was no seeing Greenland, or Ireland as we flew over. There was no getting up and walking around the cabin because everyone around me was asleep! Only one other time have I felt claustrophobic and that was in a cave deep in the earth, but I digress.

The Cattle Car
The Cattle Car


We did get the privilege of having a layover in London’s Heathrow Airport. It is known as the largest airport in the world. Of course the layover wasn’t long enough to go have tea with Princess Kate, but we at least had time to do some fabulous people watching and a little shopping too. You know, to buy stuff in a gift shop that has places you didn’t actually get to go see. There were people from every nationality on the globe at this airport. Security was filled with a mass of humanity. There were as many security lines as there are cash registers at Wal-Mart. With the difference being that all the lines were open! They were busy and thorough. A couple of our group got the full pat down privilege and a full check of carry on luggage items with some confiscations to follow. This was just kind of humorous to me, but I’m sure they didn’t like it.

After getting everyone through the corral we were able to find a spot to impose squatters rights and made a home base. From there we chose to rest, text or shop for the next five hours.

Claiming squatters rights in London's Heathrow Airport
Claiming squatters rights in London’s Heathrow Airport

Finally, our flight to Bucharest, Romania was at hand and our group was all together! As we got closer to our gate filled with passengers who were mostly Romanian themselves, the language barrier started to take affect. In fact, the woman I sat next to didn’t know a lick of English. Well, that or she just didn’t want to talk to me (which is quite possibly true). Anyway, cultural reality started to set in and we were on our way. This flight was, thankfully uneventful, but late late late. We landed in Bucharest around…well…sometime around dark thirty. We met up with others who would be part of our group for the next 6 or 7 days; three people from Manna, Jerry, Curt and Beverly; A couple from Albuquerque NM, Sarah and JJ; and a college student from Arkansas, Courtney. Our missionary, Pastor Gonciulea, was also with the group.



What I had missed in the memo was that we still had a three or four hour bus ride through remote villages to the city where we would stay for the night! We finally made it to our first destination and got into a small twin sized bed around 4:30 am. Ahh sweet rest!

Tiny European hotel rooms

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The Cookie

There are some days when I look at my kids and ask myself, “Who are these people?”  I know it sounds odd, but truly it’s my aim, my goal, my purpose in life to mold these three precious lives into characters unrecognizable to my flawed self.   When 2nd Man and I pray for them, he often says something to the effect of them standing on his shoulders and using us as a springboard to go further in their lives, namely their spiritual lives.  It is truly why I stay at home and…well…ahem…don’t work (said as I stuff a bon-bon in my mouth and change the television channel.  Just kidding, I don’t eat my bon-bons in front of the TV).  Seriously, though, we do have very high hopes for our children’s’ spiritual walks and their lives in general as well.

Now, that sounded pretty highfalutin and noble didn’t it?  But, the little things these kids do even amaze me sometimes.  Take for instance the cookies Jarod got at a restaurant the other night.  We took some missionaries out for dinner after Sunday evening church.  It was probably 7:30 when we went and we didn’t get out of there until almost 10:00!  But that’s probably another blog post about the poor service industry of our town.  Anyway, with it being so late, we had him wait to eat the cookies until Monday.  I told him he could have them as a snack since it was the first day of school.   Now, before I tell you what happened let me preface this by saying,



these two cookies which look very much like this picture,were only the size of dollar coins, they were not those big ‘ol honkin kind.  So I was shocked when he looked at me and said, “I’ll just have one.”  What?  WHO DOES THAT?!

I responded coolly though, so he wouldn’t catch on to my shock.  When he asked what to do with the other one I told him to set it on a napkin on the kitchen table and he could have it later if he wanted it. As I walked by it all day long I kept sniffing and thinking, “man, I could down that in single chew.”  If you’re wondering – no, I didn’t eat my kid’s cookie.

Later, though, as I was doing dishes and pondering the oddity of one of my offspring having such self discipline I went down my panic road thinking, “Oh no, he’s going to be one of those no hormone, no sympathy smart- alecks who respond to diet articles with quips like ‘It’s easy all you fat people, just eat healthy food and stop shoving sugar in your mouth!’ or something completely insensitive like that.”  I usually save this kind of momma panic for when one of my children misbehave and I send them down the aimless road to living in the gutter in my mind.

When I told 2nd man about it he didn’t think anything of it.  “You’re not alarmed?” I pressed. “No, this is a good thing you know,” he said.  “But how does a person do that? I mean, how does a person eat only one dollar sized cookie and think that’s enough?  I think it’s weird. Do you think he’s sick?”  2nd man really wasn’t amused.  “You know honey, it’s called self-discipline.”  “Our seven year old son – self disciplined?  Nah.” I said as images of this same boy yelling, jumping, and swinging from stairway posts in the church gym by a rope flashed through my mind.  “Well, maybe at least in one area he’s becoming disciplined.” 2nd man replied.

I guess he’s right.  It is a good thing.  Unfortunately, I think my girls were born with momma’s hungry hormones.  Hopefully, they’ll learn from little brother in this area.  Hopefully, I’ll learn from their little brother in this area.

Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons, Parenting

No Sarcasm Saturday

I’ve found it!    What, you ask? The secret to building up your savings account? The cure for cancer?  The gumption to train and complete a marathon? Oh no my dear friends that’s all cupcakes and fluff.  I’m talking about THE most difficult self-imposed discipline outside of diet and exercise…No Sarcasm Saturday.   I know, I know this raises many more questions like “what on earth would motivate you to do such a thing?” or “Why?” or even “How long did you make it?”  All in good time my dear friends.  First let me give you a little background.   It all started way backlast week sometime.  I was trying to watch one of my favorite HGTV shows called “ Love it or List it”.  However, during the show one of my children (who shall remain nameless for her, his, ahem it’s protection) was just deriding these poor people on the show.  I found myself getting more irritated by the moment.  This child sounded so mean, so hateful, so judgmental and uh…so much like me!  Sarcasm is one of our main sources of humor in this family.  2nd man and I love watching Food Network, HGTV or even ESPN shows and totally deriding the logic behind which most of the decisions are made.  Truly, this is just a coping strategy for our own lusty jealousy.  Hmmm do I want the brand new house with five bathrooms and all new appliances that is $100,000 over budget or do I want to stay in my mid-century “bungalow” with it’s outdated electrical system, bowing floors and cracked foundation without a dishwasher?  Ah the decisions people must face.  It’s sad really.  We watch and shoot out scathing remarks about how materialistic our society is and how there are people starving in other countries living on floating shacks along rivers (funny though, they still have smartphones and reception –true story I saw it on TV too).  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, the degradation of our American society.  Like I said, I’m basically just jealous and get a kick out of the whole process. However, listening to my own kid doing the same thing sounded so harsh and critical.  I went from being irritated to being strongly convicted.  She/he sounded like a bully on a playground.  If I had caught him/her doing this to someone face-to-face I would be mortified and then I’d lay into him or her about apologizing and how we don’t treat others this way.  I’d probably go into how that person is one of God’s creations and therefore we have no right to be so critical.  All of this is true.  However, somehow people don’t seem as real to us if they’re on TV so a freedom of expression gets exercised regularly. We’re sarcastic with each other as well.  I’d say 95% of it is truly meant in good fun and humor.  However, there are those days when someone gets their feelings hurt.  But, mostly it’s how we relate to each other in a humor filled way.  2nd man and I often find ourselves even having the same sarcastic thoughts about different situations.  But, as a friend of mine explained to me, it can all be taken and given in different spirits depending on the people involved, so sarcasm must be handled delicately.  For instance she is a choleric personality and tends to go from humorous to critical in a quickly falling landslide; whereas her husband, who is very sanguine, keeps it on the light and humorous quite easily.   This made a lot of sense to me.  I know there’s a lot of debate about the validity of the whole personality thing, but I’m a believer in how it plays out in people’s lives.  My choleric child sounded scathing and harsh, but my own sanguine/melancholy personality keeps it on the humorous or sometimes overly-sensitive side.   So, with all of that said, I approached 2nd Man and told him I thought we should have a “no sarcasm day.”  He thought it was a good idea, but didn’t do anything about it immediately.  Then, Friday evening at the dinner table I made some kind of sarcastic remark and he pounced.  “Your mother and I have been talking about something lately, kids.”  He said.  To which thy replied, “are we in trouble?”  “No,” he said, “but we’re going to try to have a No Sarcasm Saturday tomorrow.”  Our oldest was instantly worried. “But it’s outreach day at church and, well, we teens speak in sarcasm.”  “I understand that.”  Replied 2nd Man, “but we’ll have to make do the best we can.”  We determined that everyone would start out with 100 points and the person with the most points left will get a dessert treat of their choice at a special place on our vacation in a month. I have to be honest here.  It was hard.  I woke up with much trepidation, scared to enter public with my family, wondering how ashamed I might be.  But, overall it was a good experience.  I caught myself having sarcastic thoughts all day long.  The hardest part of the day was going to Wal-Mart (did I mention we did this on a Saturday?)  I was never so thankful to go to the grocery store ALONE.  Even in the parking lot where Honey Boo boo’s mother’s look-alike about rammed my car to get a space she thought I was going to get to first. (You must understand how hard it was to even write that last sentence.  I had to wait a day so as not to get docked points.)  We had one daughter who tried hard, but was honest when caught.  Daughter number two kept docking herself and was about out of points when we confirmed that you had to be caught by someone else, and then our youngest son didn’t quite ever get the concept of what sarcasm even is.   However, it was a good exercise in discipline and learning to be kind.  We really didn’t have a winner at the end of the day.   We’ve actually decided to do it again perhaps next week.  I’ll confess I’m not willing to give up this form of humor for a lifetime – I don’t think that’s possible.  However, temperance is never a bad thing, so I’ll take it one challenging Saturday at a time for now.  

Posted in Decorating, My Interests, Uncategorized

A Summer of Weddings Part II




Ok, so it’s been a year – yes a full year since my summer of weddings. That summer turned into a year and six weddings later with a 7th on the way. I’m not sure how this all came about, but for now I’m going with it. For memory’s sake though, I’d like to look at wedding number two from last summer. My second wedding happened to be the wedding of our Pastor’s second son. This was the day of  Sam Waterloo and Sarah Graham.

Back when 2nd man and I first came to OK, I taught 5th/6th grades at the local Christian school. That’s when I first experienced Sam Waterloo. The quirky, ultra-polite, pleaser son in the Waterloo clan. He was a treasure for sure. The school shut down as he was going into 6th grade and I was soon to have our first child, so I home schooled Sam that next year. I’m pretty sure it was the most excruciating year for this people pleasing kid who had to sit through the hormonal pitfalls that accompany new moms. I remember someone coming to the door one day and I had to put Katie down somewhere. “Here Sam, can you hold her a minute?” I asked quickly. His response went something like, “uh, uh, ooh, oh, um…” “nevermind Sam.” I put the crying child in her bassinet and went on with business.313212_3960445883519_1717640416_n

Well, long gone are the days of hesitation. I like to think I maybe pushed him to a brink that brought out some boldness. Oh, it was many years later until he finally achieved manly boldness, but I played a small part and that makes me smile. Sam went through highschool and college being one of those guys that everyone likes. You really can’t not like him. He’s just sweet, kind and genuinely loves the Lord. Right after highschool he decided to pursue Sarah Graham. She was a beautiful, smart and sophisticated young woman who also went through our youth department. (I don’t excel in any of those qualities, so all the credit there must go to her parents – wish I could’ve been a better influence.) Anyway, they were going to separate colleges and the pressure of long distance accompanied by other factors put a stall on the relationship, so they called it off almost as quickly as it had begun, much to the chagrin of Sam’s mother. Through those years she didn’t give up hope though both of them seemed to be moving on with life. She was almost as in love with Sarah as Sam had been in a weird mother-picking her daughter-in-law kinda way. Well, her praying payed off and they found themselves reuniting after college. It’s more their story to tell, but lets just say that this friendly, unassuming youth pastor has a bold, “I wanna marry you” “you gotta be mine” side. Gives me chills really.

So, again, I found myself honored to be a part of their wedding. This one was a vintage wedding filled with nostalgic memories and literary nods. They chose to do the “first sight” picture before the wedding. The wedding party and I were all bawling at the back of the sanctuary windows as she handed him a box of letters she had written throughout her teen years to her future husband. Many in which she had pictured Sam as their receiver.
In the ceremony they had taken a large photo of the two of them and made it into a puzzle. They had asked several people (2nd man and I included) to place a piece of the puzzle on an easle while Pastor read a letter they had written about how each person or couple represented inluences in their lives be it friendship, spiritual leadership, etc. It was truly moving. Then Sarah walked down the aisle to the music played in Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility (which is so cool since that whole story includes the love story of a friendly unassuming clergyman and a young woman who tries to handle things right and it looks like they won’t make it and then they do…((breathe)) ok I’ll stop walking you through it now.)

Anyway, I had so much fun with this one. We rented chairs, set up lacy tablecloths, and made the church gym into a retro picnic feel with an ice cream bar and glass bottles of pop. It was a sweet affair all the way around including the extra hundred people we weren’t quite prepared for (but that’s a memory we won’t delve into here).


The work was hard, the pressure high, but the honor was out of this world!527207_4056126074567_1105078114_n

Posted in Decorating, My Interests

A Summer of Weddings Part 1: Jonno and Esther

     So, finally, here is the explanation of where I’ve been all summer.  Well, actually it’s going to take a couple of posts (so bear with me).  I was honored last January to be asked by the lovely Esther Welbourne to help plan her wedding to Jonathan Waterloo.  Jonathan (or Jonno as we call him) is our pastor’s oldest son and went clear through our youth department since the first year we came to Oklahoma.  Phlegmatic to the bone with a sense of humor that makes everyone smile when he walks in the room, Jonno is very dear to our hearts.  When he brought Esther into our lives we were thrilled and quite frankly unbelieving that he would find such a beautiful girl who is absolutely perfect for him.  Always one to enjoy decorating AND spending other peoples’ money, I jumped at the chance!  We had so much fun with planning, shopping trips to Tulsa and work nights putting flowers together.  Esther loves purple Calla lilies, so there was our inspiration from which everything else fell into place.  I’d love to tell you that I personally assembled all beauties in this post, but, I’d be a liar.  Thankfully, there were a host of ladies and friends who were willing and honored to jump in and help, without whom none of this would have actually become reality.   Below, I’d like to just comment and go through my thoughts on various aspects of wedding planning…a job I won’t be doing full time anytime soon. 

My first surprising heart change came with the concept of the “first sight” photos that are gaining in popularity as a modern tradition.  I’ve always been a firm believer in the groom no seeing the bride until she walks down the aisle.  Not that I’m superstitious, I’ve just always enjoyed seeing the reaction of the groom!  However, it is true that in all practicality, this creates a time issue for picture taking between ceremony and reception.  Yet, the romantic in me just has never been able to give up the dream…until I see pictures like this

1st sight, Esther coming up behind.  Don’t you love all of the “peekers” out in the foyer?

     Now, how isn’t that one of the best reactions of a groom turning around to see his bride!  Oh, Jonno I love when you get all sappy.   This was truly a sweet semi-private moment for the two of them and still didn’t seem to take anything away from the ceremony.  As a matter of fact, I wonder if he felt more comfortable giving the full reaction than if he knew all eyes were on him.          

They chose to show a video before the ceremony and then came the moment of truth.  Now look at that picture.  Tulle and lights sigh…..Who wouldn’t want to walk down that aisle?

So this picture is purely for selfish reasons.  Can you say “best looking groomsman ever?!!”  Yes, 2nd man was a groomsman in his second “former teen” wedding.  That’s not me as a bridesmaid, but I like her and she’s another pastor’s wife so it’s OK.

Next, lets talk aisle runners.  My thoughts?  Ditch the whole idea….NIGHTMARE!  Ever see an usher sweat?  Well, this will drive him to it. 

The ceremony was precious.  I’ll admit I missed most of it, because I had to run down and get the reception ready.  However, when pastor (father of the groom remember)cried during this reading the whole wedding became an instant success in the eyes of every guest there. 

     Esther is nicknamed princess, because she’s beautiful and sweet and into the bling, hence the gorgeous tiara!  We tried to bling up the unity candle display for her as much as possible.  We glued purple and black ribbon with borders of diamond mesh.  We then wove purple ribbon through some tulle to make a cloud like surround.

         The beauty of this wedding was found in the detail.  Esther has a great eye for detail and thus wanted to make sure special attention was paid to every aspect of her wedding day from the moment guests entered the church.   We had fun making some special features for the lobby.  My personal favorite were the trees.  I’m planning to post a separate explanation of the making of these trees in a blog post to come.  However, for now suffice it to say they were stunning!  Four tree branches about six foot high concreted into coffee cans, were painted and glittered.  We strung beads and glued purple hydrangea blossoms for a sweet effect, and put two on each side of the foyer where guests entered. This made a path to the guest book area that was decorated with tulle, lights, calla lilies and a large portrait of the couple.

On the hallway wall leading to the reception area I had my flower lady, Betty, create a heart with an arrow out of purple mini carnations and foam core board.  I think it turned out absolutely lovely.

     One of the unfortunate results of Baptist weddings that do not include dancing or drinking alcohol is that people rarely hang out for very long.  Esther really desired to have her guests relaxed and mingling.  She totally wanted to enjoy everyone and wanted to create a relaxing atmosphere.  We chose to do this through both the lighting and by playing music in the background.  Guess what…it worked!  It was by far the longest reception I’ve ever attended at a wedding at our church.  The whole room seemed to be buzzing with guests eating and mingling. Wahoo!

    We set up a table of family pictures and an engagement album for guests to enjoy as they arrived.  The food tables and the head table were adorned with flowing tulle and lights with mirrors for a reflected glow.  (I’ll take a moment to say here that from a wedding planner’s standpoint I’m disappointed that I didn’t get more pictures than this, but oh well).

Our round tables had white tablecloths with black tops.  The centerpieces were simple with mirrors and lots of candles.  We used white calla lilies and turned water and wine glasses upside down for candle holders with purple carnations inside.  Inside the vases were water beads and submersible LED lights.

     Our piece-De-resistance was the cake table with the balloon backdrop. Ahhhh sigh.
cake by A Sweet Success Ponca City, OK
And what do you do with all of those balloons after the wedding?  Well, set them off at the exit of course!
And this?  Well, this was getting my J-Lo on with the wedding planning bit at the rehearsal.  My only
regret?  I didn’t have the head piece to cue all my “people” hee hee

Posted in Daily Musings

June Check In

So here’s what has happened in the past week:

·       2nd man had a birthday – Yea!

·       2nd man had to do an unexpected funeral – boo

·       The wedding I’ve been planning for 6 months for our Pastor’s son and fiancée took place this weekend – Yea!

·       2nd mans family arrived the night of rehearsal dinner (12 people!) – yea they are here, boo, I was a distracted hostess due to wedding.

·       Father’s day came –yea! 2nd man preached an amazing sermon – boo, I didn’t get a chance to call my own daddy due to company (I did make up for this though)

·       And today is our 2nd child’s birthday…our Megan Grace is 10 years old –yea, no wait boo hoo! 

Still having fun with the family.  Will post individual stories soon…especially wedding details!
Posted in Daily Musings, Decorating

Pantry Remodel

 So, in the midst of a busy time of year for me, I decided to take on a project this past weekend.  I tend to do this to myself.  I think it’s some kind of coping strategy or something; my own little pause button.  Anyway, I was pleased with the results and feel refreshed and ready to take on the summer now.  Here’s a look at my little weekend mania:

It all started with cleaning windows.  I don’t do this very often.  Here in Oklahoma, it proves to be futile with the wind rushing down the plain and all of the dust it brings.  However, once in a while when I can no longer see across the street out my front window I get an urge and decide to clean them.  It’s either that or I’m angry and need to wash something, but that’s another story.  So, it took all day, but these babies were sparkling. Then the “one thing leads to another” law kicked in and as the sparkling morning sun shone through my newly cleaned kitchen windows the next morning, I noticed how dirty my pantry shelves were looking.  “Hmm” I thought, “maybe I should change that shelf liner and just straighten things up a bit…” 

 I had the kids clear everything out of the pantry.

No, I am not a hoarder…. or maybe I am?!
While it was all out I decided to call 2nd man and ask if he minded my painting the pantry since everything was out anyway.  He hesitated (something he’s learned to do through the years with me) then gave me the go ahead telling me to pace myself.  Then he brought up a conversation my mother had with him before we were married warning him that I overdid it sometimes.  Wah!??  Yea, go ahead and throw my mother in my face like that.  I thought it was a low blow.  Of course, in his defense he tends to remember the infamous time I asked him if I could take ugly wall paneling out of the bathroom of our first house.  It turned into a four-month project – for him.  Hey, he learned how to patch tape and mud wallboard, how to texture, how to cut and put up crown molding and a plethora of other useful handyman information.  Really, I think he should have thanked me, but I digress. 


 I decided on gray and yellow as the color scheme as it’s been piquing my interest for a couple of years now.  I chose Granite Dust from Val spar paints at my local Lowes store with a trim that was a beautiful shade of yellow, (but the sticker wasn’t put on the can so I forget the name) also from Val spar.

After a lot of taping and painting I was pleased, but not satisfied.  It still needed an extra kick.  So, off I went to Hobby Lobby for a stencil.

I’m not the greatest stencil artist, but I figured the pantry wouldn’t be too scrutinized, except maybe by 2nd man, who seemed to be laughing at me as I reached the point of exhaustion and frustration.  Time was running out, my kitchen was a mess and I had  paint all in my hair.  I do this every time I paint.  I could wear a swim cap and I’d still get it in my hair!

Thankfully, my kids were awed by my masterpiece and the girls wanted to help put things back together.  Especially my oldest, who loves things to be organized.  With their help, it wasn’t so bad.  Even our little man, Jarod said, “Wow Mom!  That looks beautiful!”

 However, the true sense of satisfaction came around 10:00 pm Saturday night, when 2nd man looked into the pantry and said the words I had been longing to hear, “Honey, I think it was worth it.  It really does look nice.”   Ahhhh sweet success.

Posted in Life Lessons

The Loss of a Baby

Today I was praying for some friends of ours who are going in to be induced to deliver their baby who has already passed in the womb.  The death of an unborn child; it is something that happens to many of us, but seems to be this unnoticed, unsympathized loss.  2nd man and I have been through this three times.  I know everyone’s experience is different, so I don’t try to speak for anyone else, but here are my thoughts and observations about the losses that we’ve been through.

 Our first loss, consequently, was our first pregnancy.  I had discovered in this tiny, scary, gross bathroom at senior camp that I was pregnant.  I remember the joy and excitement as my dear friend, Dalene was with me and I shared this moment with her before anyone else even knew.  We were like two schoolgirls giddy and giggly with a secret.  When I told 2nd man we immediately started calling the family from the camp payphone.  I was eager and excited like most first time moms.  Then just weeks later while at about two to three months along, we lost the baby.  Our pastor’s wife was so precious as she came into the house while I was put on bed rest and cleaned and spruced.  I’m not sure if she did it for me or for her as I could sense she was so sad for us and didn’t know what to say or do.  Then I had to go through doing blood work, but the nurse couldn’t seem to find the vain.  After about 8-10 pokes she sent me up to the hospital lab to get poked with a child’s needle…in the hand! 

     I didn’t know how common miscarriage was at that time.  All I knew and 2nd man knew was that we had lost our baby and we were devastated.  I say that to show how even more devastated I was at the response of others.  Many people came and gave us hugs, but I was astonished at how many people, even women, said things like “you’ll have more.”  Excuse me?  I’ll have more?  Is that supposed to be comforting? My arms were empty, my baby gone, and I was mourning.  This response made me feel ignorant and patronized, As if I wasn’t supposed to mourn this loss simply because it is a common occurrence.

            After a while and some heartache at watching teenagers get pregnant, we finally were able to have our Katie.  About a year and a half later our sweet Megan came along and we were overjoyed.  We desired more, but were ecstatic at our sweet little girls.  We felt blessed.

            After Megan, came another pregnancy we were excited about in the fall of 2003. We were preparing for our annual teen retreat called Spiritual Boot camp that 2nd man put on every year for about 400-500 teenagers.  We held it in Tulsa, which is about an hour and a half from where we live.  The night before leaving to set up we went out to eat and I discovered to my dismay signs that I might be miscarrying.  We decided to have 2nd man go on down and I would see the Dr. the next day before heading for Tulsa.  The Dr. alleviated my fears saying that something looked a little off and my progesterone was a little bit low but that it didn’t look like it was a miscarriage.  He suggested rest and taking it easy as well as taking some progesterone.   I went to the retreat, but didn’t really do much.    However, after multiple trips to the dr. about a month and a half later we ended up in the E.R. delivering our baby.  I was only about 18 weeks along.

            This one, I’ll admit, was a bit rougher.  People don’t recognize the loss as a legitimate death of a child unless you’re 20 weeks along or more.   There was no ceremony, no naming of the baby.  We went in contracting in pain, delivered a baby and went home empty handed two hours later; nothing, but a phone call a few days later from a nurse who was confirming that I delivered tissue that was my child.  Tissue! 

A few weeks later a dear couple to us also delivered their baby early.  She was further along than me and the baby much more developed.  There was naming and a funeral for this sweet dear child.  I’m not proud of this, but I lost it at the graveside.  Here I was again empty handed and an unnoticed loss of a child.  More people were sympathetic this time, but the comments didn’t get any better.  This time it was things like, “well you have two sweet healthy ones at home.”  I am so thankful that even 2nd man didn’t like this comment.  His response was, “that doesn’t take away the loss and heartache of this one.” 

     I had my moments and got through the mourning stages and discovered just a few short months later that I was pregnant again.  This time I was warned that the progesterone was again low.  Immediately, my Dr. put me on progesterone supplements and tried all he could to save the baby.  We lost this one too. 

     It was a week after this miscarriage that I went to Jr. camp with our church group.  Knowing that I had to move on.  While there, though, my pain got unbearable.  I called my Dr.’s office back home and was told by the nurse that, “sometimes we just have to suck it up.”  WHAT!?  I explained that I had been through two losses already and had never experienced this pain. 2nd man took me to the ER. there in the town where our camp was located.  After being forgotten in the room for 5hours!  They determined through ultrasound that my body was just building up fluid in my womb area in response to the loss and everything would be ok.  They put me on Loratab and sent me on my way. 

     The Loratab was great.  It knocked me out for a couple of days and then it just really eased the pain both physically and emotionally.  I’m not saying I was addicted, but I ended up throwing away the bottle before finishing because it kind of scared me.  I loved the feeling of not feeling for a while.  After throwing it away though, the depression really set in.  I loved the girls I had, but mourned the children in heaven.  I sunk deeper and deeper in a spiral of negativity that I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t get out. 

     On our vacation back to my parents that year 2nd man got me a hotel room by myself for two days.  Those two days meant the world to me.  I don’t know if anyone other than he and I really understood just how important they were.  I holed up and hashed things out with God.  No kids or husband to distract or take care of, just God and me alone.   It was then, in that quietness, that He spoke to me and comforted me and even chided me too.  I was brought to the realization that it was I who was not excepting the comfort he had been sending my way through his word and the words of my own husband.  I hadn’t wanted to listen; I wanted to be mad a while I guess.  I remember before those two days the Psalms didn’t seem applicable to me and I couldn’t even sing hymns as I had a sarcastic thought to argue almost all of them.  I had allowed myself to be blinded to God’s goodness.  I relinquished all my rights and even my children back to God.  Knowing that I was blessed to have the two at home and blessed that I had three who were being taken care of perfectly in heaven.  I found Grace and contentment in those moments. 

     As time passed and I did become fully content with our family the size that it was, of course, I became pregnant again.  This time it was the son for whom 2nd man had specifically prayed. 

            I do feel blessed and contented now.  However, I have some thoughts about losing a baby or babies.  It’s ok to mourn those children.  Feel it, express it, take it to God and trust Him.  We Christians are so vehemently fighting these days for the rights of the child in the womb, and trying to convince mothers to have their babies.  Yet, we lack in the area of comforting those who’ve lost their unborn babies through natural causes.  We over look it like the mother just went through a common flu or something and is now “over it.”  This is a shame.  The commonality of miscarriage does not negate the precious life that was created and now lives in heaven.   Nor does it negate the feelings of the parents who already love that child.  Why do we judge the level of pain upon whether or not we got to hold our baby?  As if those who have lost children already born are more qualified to mourn?  I am not trying to lesson those situations, only reason with the thought process.  I understand and have witnessed the trauma of losing a baby only a few months old.   But, I challenge us to also remember those who’ve been unseen and not forget those mourning parents as well.

     I am thankful for the deeper perspective I have through these losses.  I am thankful for being able to realize just what a miracle birth actually is.  My strong feelings for mourning parents parallels, our often lasez faire attitude, with the miracle of a healthy birth. 

      For those related to, or friends with, someone going through this kind of loss, please don’t ignore the loss.  One of the best comforts for parents who’ve miscarried is the acknowledging of their loss and their love as real.  Let them know you are sorry and for goodness sake don’t try to lessen the pain.  Just try to sympathize with it.  Pray for them and let them know you are praying.  Those friends who cried with me and prayed for me are the ones who helped me the most in this world.