Mr. T's Evening

Mr. T sent me the following email a couple of weeks ago when I was out of town.  I enjoyed his story and hope you will too! 

By Jeff Tidyman

I just got out of the shower. Even though Annie went to the groomer today, I had to wash her. I wiped down the inside of the Nissan. And I had to hose myself off outside before I could even come inside. It's time for bed.

I started at 9:00 or so tonight. I was sitting outside on the front step enjoying the evening. It's pitch black outside, except for the lighting off to the southeast. Annie is next to me watching the occasional car drive by. It's hot and muggy. It'll probably rain tonight. The thermometer says it's still 90 even though it's after 9. But, for the middle of August, it's still a nice night.

I want something sweet an am not sure what. Yes, I am sure. A Cyclone from Macs. The last couple of times I've been there I've gotten a cherry malt for myself while I've gotten Cyclones for everyone else. Tonight I want a Cyclone. I'm not sure what flavor yet.

“Come on, Annie. Let's get some ice cream.” Annie dances around my feet. She's more excited than I am. When I get to the curb I tell her to wait, and she does. I walk across the street to the Nissan, unlock it and look back. Annie is still waiting patiently. “Good girl, Annie.” I open the door and look to make sure there is no traffic. Annie is ready to jump out of her skin, but she waits obediently. “Come on, Annie,” and she bounds across the street and into the Nissan.

It's a beautiful summer evening. My dog is being obedient. And I'm on my way to get ice cream. It can't get any better. I think I felt like you did the evening we were headed to pick mulberries.

Driving with the windows down, the warm evening air blows through the car. But Macs is closed, it turns out. So where do I get ice cream? Ampride doesn't sell ice cream anymore. Does Arby's or Wendy's or any of the fast food joints have a Blizzard? McDonalds? Does TCBY sell Blizzards? They are probably our best bet.

Annie is squealing with her high-pitched whine that she does in the car when she's anxious. I pull into the TCBY parking lot and park away from most of the cars so that Annie isn't barking at everyone in the lot. I don't want Annie crawling out of the window, so I have to roll the windows 3/4 of the way up, even though it's hot. Annie will be fine. I won't be long. It's not like the sun is out, it's pitch black. There is still some breeze in the car. And maybe if Annie is hot she'll relax a little. She'll be fine. To prove it, she sticks her nose out the open gap of the window and barks at me as I walk inside.

I don't see anything like a Blizzard on the menu. That's ok. Tonight we're getting a waffle cone. Ah, yeah. With a scoop of pralines and cream and a scoop of almond mocha. I feel like a kid again.

I step outside into the warm summer air and already the first drops of melted ice cream are running onto my hand. Where can I eat this? It's pretty quiet in the parking lot and I consider just sitting on the steps outside and eating it. I picture letting Annie out of the car and letting her run around the parking lot, but I know instantly that that would be a bad idea. I can't leave her in the hot car. But there is nowhere nearby that I can go to eat my melting ice cream cone.

I decide that my only choice is to get in the car, go home, and eat my ice cream cone sitting on the front step at home. It's not a big deal. I can drive a stick with one hand. But even before I turn onto J St., my ice cream has started to melt in earnest. It's dark in the car, so I can't see exactly what's happening, but I can feel my left hand being covered in the sticky sugary mess. It's dripping on my work clothes and soaking through my pants.

On J St, I'm behind the slowest pickup in the world. If he were going any slower he'd be driving backwards. Annie is being good and staying on her side, but in the streetlight I can see that my scoop of almond mocha is almost completely gone. I hold the ice cream cone up to the air-conditioning vent to help it survive a little longer.

I finally pull up to the house and try to quickly roll up the car windows since it looks like rain. The driver's window is always intermittent, but right now it won't roll up at all. I probably dripped ice cream on the switch on the way home. I'm holding my cone out the door over the street with my left hand while reaching across with my right to roll up the window and eventually get it. “Come on Annie.”

Waffle cones have a high side and low side, and the sugary milk is flowing from the low corner in a steady stream. I try to not hold the cone over Annie, but it's impossible. She's determined to be directly under the cone no matter where I hold it so that she can lap up every drip as soon as it hits the ground.

I sit on the front step and start eating what's left. The funny thing is that after a few bites I realize that this is way more sugar than I need or even want. But nobody likes a quitter, so I finish the whole thing—minus what fell on the ground that Annie ate, which in all honesty may have been a bigger share than I got.

That's when I went around the corner to hose off from head to toe, to wash Annie up, to wipe down the car, to shower, and to get ready for bed. And to write you.

I hope you had a good night sleep. We miss you.


Tidytot - Photo Blitz!

I realize I haven't posted pictures of Tidytot for awhile.  Here are several from the past 8 months.
Sweet as sugar.

Easter 2014
Eating breakfast in style!

Nothing like going to the park on a cool fall day.

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...

Crocodile tears.

Static electricity!

I love this picture!  Grandma came up and said, "Where's the baby?"  She riffled through her stuffed animals, found her baby doll and held it up for Grandma to see.

She loves shoes!  Especially grown-up shoes.

Can you find the Easter eggs?

All blue.

Finally, enough hair for pig tails!


Walking the dog.  She loves this!

And she loves pushing the stroller, as opposed to riding in it.


Four Leaf Clovers

"When are you going to have another baby?"

It's a question we get asked often.

"Well, we've been trying for a long time, so whenever God says it's time, I guess."

We know all about charting and timing and the basics of baby making.  It's not rocket science.  But there are certainly days when it just seems hopeless.

I'm not sure when you are technically considered infertile.  I know there are scientific standards, but I think you're considered infertile when you've had more negative pregnancy tests than you can count, when your cycle starts and your eyes well up with tears, when it seems like every third person you see has a blooming belly. 

Every month something happens to make me think, "This is it!"

"I feel nauseous; I'm totally pregnant!"
"Man, I'm so tired.  Maybe this is it!"
"Ugh, that shampoo smells like wet dogs.  Hey, it could mean..."

This month was no exception.  I felt like there were several signs that were making me suspicious of a pregnancy.  And like other months, I was wrong.

Last week, Mr. T and I were playing with Tidytot in a field that had clover in it.

"I've always wanted to find a four leaf clover.  When I was a kid I searched and searched and never found one."
"Well, here's your chance," said Mr. T.
"How's about if I find a four-leaf clover, it will be a sign that we can have another baby."

So, I searched.
I searched and searched and searched and low and behold, I found one!

A diamond in the rough, the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, a rare jewel...

We want to have more children.
We know that God is in control of building our family.
We are so thankful for all we have already.

I told Mr. T the other day that I have my hope placed in three things.
Primarily, God.  We're not going to have another baby until he says so.
Second, our health.  We are working hard to eat well, exercise and rest.
And lastly, four leaf clovers.

The News

We got the test results back from Sage's CT scan and she is okay.  Such a relief!

In other news...we don't really have much news.  Mr. T and I are just about as boring as they come.  He's been spending a lot of time at work and I've been puttering around the house doing who knows what.  I feel very accomplished if, at the end of the day, the dishes are done, the floor is swept and the coffee is ready to go for the next morning.

I have been sneaking some time here and there to watch some TV.  The last season of Dancing with the Stars just finished.  Dancing shows always make me feel like with just a little effort I could easily recreate their routines.  In fact, I'd sometimes pull Mr. T off the couch and make him reenact a few of the dance moves with me.  We are still working on these:


We've almost got that last one down. 

It helps that Mr. T and I have been working on our physiques.  We started a diet plan called the 21 Day Fix.  We did the 21 days and each lost about 7 pounds.  Since then, we've backed off a bit.  Fortunately, we haven't gained any weight back, but we haven't lost any either.  I think we are ready to dive back in.  I still have 12 pounds to go and my fear of swimsuits is slightly greater than my love of sugar...sometimes.

We do feel better already.  I've been pretty much gluten free for over a month now and my allergies have been much better this year.  I think it's linked.

Soon I'll type out a report on Tidytot, including pictures and a description of her latest antics.  She's a hoot!


CT Scan

Tomorrow we are taking Tidytot to the hospital for a CT scan.  She was born with a large soft spot which has been closing over time, however recently our Dr. has become worried that something might be preventing it from closing entirely.  Just to be sure, we need to do the scan, and in order to do the scan she has to lay very still, and in order for her to lay very still they have to sedate her. 

The worry I feel sits deep in my bones, not so much about the procedure, but about the test results.  On the heels of thinking, "I'm sure everything is going to be just fine" are the tiresome"what if's."  Truly, I do think everything will be just fine.  She isn't delayed in any way and seems very 18 month old-ish.

In the mental tug-of-war between peace and worry, we choose to lay the later at the feet of Jesus and we pray for all the things we want.  Health.  Peace.  An easy road.  Knowing we might not get the things we want, we pray for grace should He choose to send us on a harder path. 

And, in the meantime, we work hard to not let the worry show on our faces.


When Harry Met Sally - Chapter 4

About 6 weeks into our relationship, Mr. T said, "I love you."  

It didn't take him long to realize that he caught me off guard.  The awkward silence was only interrupted by the sound of crickets chirping in the background.

The only thing I could think was, "What?  I don't even know if I LIKE you!"  Of course, I didn't say that.  I said something more gracious like, "Oh, that's nice."  (Cue the crickets again.)

We had been getting to know each other over the summer months.  We lived a little over 6 hours apart while we were dating, therefore, dates were not casual "get to know you over dinner" affairs.  Every couple of weeks we would spend an entire weekend together, taking turns navigating the long distance trek.  In the meantime, phone conversations - not my strong suit - but it's what we had to work with.

Toward the end of the summer, I went on a week long mission trip to Bogota, Colombia.  It was a week of intense manual labor.  For example: 

I came back completely exhausted.  It was my turn to make the journey to Nebraska for our weekend rendezvous, but I really wanted to stay home and sleep.  Nonetheless, I talked myself into it.  I dragged my tired, worn out body across the Midwest in search of a little Nebraskan rest and relaxation.

When I arrived, Mr. T told me what he had planned for the weekend.  "Hey, hope it's okay with you, but I ordered a ton (as in a literal ton) of rock and I thought we could landscape around the house this weekend.  It's going to get dropped off in the driveway tomorrow.  I have some 5 gallon buckets.  I thought we'd just shovel the rocks into the buckets, cart them around the house and spread 'em out.  Of course, we'll have to dig out some of the dirt around the house, and we'll have to lay down a good layer of weed control so grass doesn't grow up in the rocks.  I think if we work really hard we can get it done this weekend.  We should get started really early because it's going to be really hot tomorrow.  What do you think?"

What did I think!!!  Oh, even now it burns me up.  I was so mad.  I mean, seriously!  We hadn't been dating that long.  Wasn't he supposed to still be woo-ing me?

So we worked all day in the dumb August heat and put the dumb rocks all around the dumb house.

To this day we still debate about the unfairness of it all.
My opinion: "Why would you have me come and move those dumb rocks when I just got back from a difficult mission trip?"
His opinion:  "If you're willing to go halfway around the world to help people with their projects, surely you can help your boyfriend with one of his projects."
Agree to disagree.

Anyway, back to the story....

I called my mom crying in the car on the way home.  "It's over, Mom!  It's not working out!  I'm breaking up with him!"

"Now honey," she said, "you always run away from relationships.  You need to give it more time."
"No way!" I said.
"Just give it two more weeks.  Just two more weeks, honey."
"Ugh!  Fine!"

Come to find out, she was advising me to stick with it because she knew Mr. T had planned a "Pirates and Princesses Surprise 30th Birthday Party" for me and she didn't want him to suffer the embarrassment of a break up right before the big bash.

By the way, I'm wearing a boa in the picture below because my roommates dressed me like a princess so I would match the theme.  Here's what I know, boas are itchy.

Mr. T came as the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride; classic movie.

So the party was really fun.  Jeff recruited Tiffany to host it and she did an amazing job!  The next day, Mr. T took my Mom, sister and I to dinner on the plaza.  Anyway, something sort of clicked.  He just felt like family; you know, familiar.

Although I was a long way from, "I love you, too," he was starting to grow on me.  But, it wasn't until months later that I returned his sentiments.   



There are few things in life that strike so violently at our every sense of pride like betrayal.  When someone we loved well casts aside our faithfulness and instead returns with malice and false accusations, it can send us into a flat out tailspin.

It's confusing, heartbreaking, ugly.

It's part of life.

Betrayal happens with varying levels of intensity.

Your spouse shares your embarrassing faults with others at a dinner party.
A co-worker blames you entirely for a report getting submitted late, leaving you to deal with the consequences alone.
Dear friends talk about your weaknesses behind your back.

Call it "throwing someone under the bus", or "back stabbing" or whatever else comes to mind, the point, is it hurts.

And it's in that pain that we find Jesus.
Jesus who, "on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.'"

A great act of betrayal was met with the greatest act of love.  Jesus faced it with pure humility and sacrifice; a sacrifice that gives hope to every tongue, tribe, and nation.

A sacrifice that gives hope to us when we are faced with betrayal.  Hope that God is near.  Hope that he will comfort us and guide us to be more like him.  Hope that justice and grace will somehow both prevail.  Hope of heaven and it's promise of peace.

May betrayal be faced with the humility that comes from knowing that, in light of eternity, another's opinion doesn't matter; only God's.  God who sees every true thing.  God who lavishes grace.  God who looks you dead in the eye and says, "You are my beloved."


House Tour

I'd like to take you on a little house tour!  Mr. T purchased our duplex for a song and then, along with several generous family members and friends, proceeded to gut the entire place and fix it up.  He did one side, then started renting it out while he worked on the side we now live in.  Not being one to drag out home projects, we had it just about where we wanted it a few months after we were married.  Below is a slew of pictures, including, pictures of pictures because I'm cool like that. 

So, when we were dating, the living room looked like this.  Talk about your fixer upper!  

The Christmas tree was added by some friends as a joke to liven the place up.  All the sheet rock was off the walls and it was stripped down to the block.  After about a zillion hours of work, it now looks like this:

Here's the original dining room.

Mr. T removed part of the wall and opened it up quite a bit.

Next, the kitchen.  He used the old stove as his workbench.  It used to be filled with saw dust before we spruced it up.

24 inches of counter space.  No problem!

Mr. T also cut out part of the wall here to open the kitchen up a little, as well as part of the wall on the stairs.  We added the spindles later to keep Tidytot safe.

Door to the basement is through the kitchen.  And, helpful hint, hanging stuff on the walls is key to making everything fit in a small space.

Basement/Guest Room/Laundry Room/Storage Space/Garage
On the other side of that hanging sheet is our storage space.

Oh laundry, you are so relentless.

Our bedroom.  This is my least favorite room in the house, decor wise.  I don't know why.  It never looks right.  I should just get over myself.

Here's part of Tidytot's room.  She has both a bed (generously donated to us) and a mini-crib.  It's a tight squeeze, but it works.

The outside of the house, when purchased:

Now, more or less:

The back yard, long ago:

Now, after-oh-so much work;  check out our garden.  We're like real adults!

That's it.  Once a labor of love, now a cozy home!


Problem Solved

At 14 1/2 months old, Tidytot is blossoming into an ornery, charming, book loving, peek-a-boo playing, not yet walking, chatterbox!  

A couple of weeks ago she discovered how fun it was to smear food in her hair.  Cute?  Yes...and no.  If it happens pre-bath, well, it's kind of cute.  Post bath, not so much.  

Mr. T and I came up with a solution.
Introducing..."The Shower Cap".    

Of course, it's huge on her and looks like a baker's hat, but it does the trick.

Fortunately, the "messy hands in the hair" phase has pretty much passed and the shower cap has been returned to the shower, much to Mr. T's relief.  He's a creature of habit and really relies on it during his daily cleansing ritual. 

We're looking forward to seeing what challenges next month holds!


Bedtime Prayer

Each night when I lay Tidytot down to sleep I smooth her hair back and say this prayer:

"Lord, watch over her.
Keep her safe.
And may she grow more and more like you."

My heart clings to a different line of the prayer depending on the moment.  Especially when she was a newborn I begged God to watch over her as she slept, while my drowsy eyes were otherwise occupied in sleep.  It seemed as if SIDS were pacing back and forth outside her window just waiting for an opportunity to strike.  And oh, how I wanted to keep her.

How I still do.  In those moments of fear, irrational as they may be, I pray, "Lord, watch over her.  Keep her safe."  For I can't imagine this life without her.  

Other times my thoughts tend toward the eternal.  "And may she grow more and more like you."  I realize I'm asking for too much.  Safety and Christ-likeness don't always go hand in hand.  To be a follower of Jesus often means that one is anything but safe or comfortable.  

Before Tidytot was born I saw a cute little print that I thought about putting in her nursery.  It showed a little cartoon girl holding a candle with the saying, "Be a light in dark places."  At first, I thought it was perfect.  "Yes!  Be a light!"  But then I realized, in order for her to be a light in dark places, she has to GO to dark places, the very places I plan to protect her from, places I would willingly go to myself so that she may remain in the light.  My instinct is always to shield her.

As time passes I'm aware that I have no idea what God has planned for her life.  Who he has designed her to be, where he has prepared for her to go, the people he has orchestrated for her to meet.  If it comes between her safety and her obedience to Christ, she must choose obedience.  A life lived, not for herself, but as a girl who is growing more and more like Jesus, is the most important thing.  For I can't imagine heaven without her.  

Heaven wouldn't be heaven without Sage.    

"Oh Lord, please watch over her.
Keep her safe.
But above all, Jesus, may she grow more and more like you."


When Harry Met Sally - Chapter 3

I spent about a hundred hours picking out my outfit to wear on our first date.  Looking back, it really wasn't that cute.  I've never been one to have that perfect "put together" look.  I doubt I'll ever get there.

Mr. T pulled into the driveway, finishing off 6 1/2 hours of driving from McCook, Nebraska to Kansas City, Kansas.  He loaded my bags in the car and we started off on the first leg of our first date; an 8 hour drive to some remote place in Nebraska.  

Armed with an ample supply of conversation topics, we chatted through the hours and passed the time quickly, pulling over here and there for bathroom breaks and fast food acquires.  I was so nervous the whole time that I wasn't very hungry.  I didn't mean to bait and switch him, but his first impression was that I eat like a bird.  I doubt he would define me as thus today.  

The hours stretched on and night fell.  Pretty soon we came upon a hitchhiker and Mr. T asked if I would be comfortable helping him out.  Rich was his name.  We drove him to the nearest campsite and in the meantime talked about all manner of things, ranging from politics to Jesus to Carlos Santana.  I've always been glad we picked him up because not too long after he got in the car, it started to rain.  I have truly never seen it rain that hard.  Mr. T drove in it for a while until it became impossible to see.  He apologized and said he'd have to pull over.  We had no idea if we were on the side of the road or still in the line of traffic.  It was raining so hard that if I would have been standing outside, I wouldn't have been able to see my hand in front of my face.  Finally the rain let up, we dropped Rich off and headed to our destination, a little hotel in the middle of nowhere (two rooms rented) where we stayed the night.

The next morning was kayaking day.  We got ready to go and Mr. T asked me if I needed help with my sunscreen.  I thought, "I might be young but I wasn't born yesterday!"  

"I'll take care of my own sunscreen, thank you very much," I said.
"Well, don't forget your face," he replied as he smeared a bunch on my cheeks.
"Wow.  Nobody's ever touched my face before," I said.
"I'm honored," he replied.  "Need any on your legs?"  
(See where this was headed?)
"No, no.  I'll get it," I said.

We got in a truck with a man named Mitch who was going to drive us to the starting place.  Mitch told us all about kayaking "The Dismal".  He painted it as quite the challenge.

"People come out here and they don't know a dang thing about kayaking and think they can kayak "The Dismal!"  I don't know what the heck they're thinking!  One idiot even lost their paddle down there.  What kind of idiot loses their paddle!!!"  

I was a full on bags on nerves at that point, as I had really never kayaked before and "Adventure" is NOT my middle name...or my first name...or my last name...or my nickname...or my pig Latin name.

Mitch dropped us off and we headed to our doom.  "The Dismal" lived up to it's name.  It was physically one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Ever.  The river flowed very fast and was full of sharp twists and turns.  You had to maneuver your kayak just right to navigate the turns smoothly.  If you didn't, you would be washed into the spider invested bramble and brush piled against the bank, thus tipping your kayak and filling it with water.  I did this many, many times.  I was covered in bruises and scratches.  

Mr. T would come around a bend, see me wedged in between nasty spider filled trees (I hate spiders) and my kayak, fighting against the force of the surging water and holding onto my paddle for dear life (because after all, "What kind of idiot loses their paddle!?!", and he would come and rescue me.

I was not having a good time.

The first half of the river was like that.  The second half was a little easier, although I was out of shape and my arms were maxed out long before we were finished with our journey.  

There were two cool parts though.  One was a sink hole.  Mr. T said that it has a current in it that hold you up and you can stand in the water and not sink.  I was hesitant to try it, but he pulled me in and it was really cool.  You just floated without having to tread any water.  It was neat and I was glad he "encouraged" me to try it out.  Also, we saw some wildlife and there was a little white rapids part to the river that gave me a thrill.  
Looking back, I can't believe I survived it.  Oh, how glad I was to see the finish line.  I flopped out of my kayak like a dead fish and waited for Mitch to come and pick us up.  We got cleaned up and made our way to McCook for the continuation of our date.

First a stop at Taste of Texas, McCook's BBQ joint.  I ordered catfish.  I have no idea why.  I guess I was feeling "river-ish".  Then, the Buffalo Common's Storytelling Festival.  It's an event McCook has annually where storytellers come from all over to tell their tales.  It really is fun and we go every year we can.  In the middle of the show, I began to snuggle into Mr. T a little.  I was FREEZING.  I thought perhaps the AC was turned up too high.  Mr. T put his hand on my leg.  Nobody had ever done that before.  I wasn't sure what to think.  Mostly I was okay with it because it was helping me to stay warm.  

One restroom break later and I realized why I was so cold.  I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my legs and they were SCORCHED.  TOTALLY SCORCHED.  As in, "I had a tan line for the better part of a year" scorched.  We walked into Walmart to get some aloe gel and people would stop in their tracks and watch me walk by.  It was bad!  Mr. T smugly reminded me that he did warn me to put on sunscreen, after all.  

With aloe in tow we drove about 45 minutes to another town to stay with some of Mr. T's friends who used to use their house for a Bed & Breakfast.  We were both so tired, but we decided to have a late night visit.  During that visit, he kissed me.  Our first kiss.  My first kiss, ever.  Up until that point, the dentist was the only man who ever touched my lips.  I mostly felt like I did something wrong.  "What kind of girl kisses on the first date!"  

The next morning I awoke feeling tired, dehydrated, sun-sick, sun burnt and guilty.  And for some reason, I decided not to wash my hair when I got ready for the day.  Our hosts made a delicious breakfast, which I was too nauseous to eat.  I felt terrible.  

We loaded up our bags to head back to Kansas City.  I looked like a bruised tomato.  Mr. T said, "I'd really like to see you again sometime."  "I don't know," I said, "I'm REALLY busy.  In fact, I'm going to be REALLY busy for a LONG time."  

Mr. T dropped me off at the church where I worked that night.  We were running late so I had to pull a dirty outfit out of my luggage to wear.  The only one that was dressy enough had been marinating in my bag right next to my sandy, river clothes.  I smelled terrible and had greasy hair, scorched, bruised skin and a heavy heart.  Mr. T said goodbye and we both figured it was the conclusion of our first and last date.

My friend, Brittany, saw me.  I described the date and told her I wasn't planning on any more dates with him.  "You need to give it more time," she said.  "You always run away from commitment.  He seems like a really good guy."

I didn't want to believe her, but I thought it over for a couple of days.

Then I typed out a list titled, "40 Things I Like About Jeff Tidyman" and I sent it to him with a note saying, "Think I could come and visit you over the 4th of July?"

The second date was on the calendar.    

Mr. T read this and said some of the following:
"I did NOT say, 'Need any on your legs.'"
"I think you should title this, 'Chapter 3, from My Point of View.'"
"I'm just going to write my own blog."
And so on...


She Just Loves People

My daughter and I were in Walmart standing in the check out line.  We were playing one of our favorite games, the one where I put on my sunglasses, wait for her to break into a huge smile, then lean down so she can take them off my face.    

As we were playing a woman walked through the line and stood right behind me, as in RIGHT behind me. She was a little old lady who wore her sunglasses indoors and walked with a cane.  My first thought was that she was trying to pick pocket me.  (I've been pick pocketed before and was truly amazed at how they got away with it so undetected.)  Therefore, I kept a reasonable distance and struck up a conversation. 

I noticed she didn't have any items to purchase and, since we were in the cigarette line, assumed she was just there to pick up her smokes.  I had quite a bit in my cart and offered to let her go ahead of me.  She took me up on the offer, purchased over $100 worth of cigarettes and then left.    

I began placing my merchandise on the belt, all the while mentally chastising her for spending so much on cigarettes.  "That's what's wrong with the world today.  People don't have any money and they blow it on stuff they don't need.  She's probably living off the government just so she can buy a zillion dollars worth of cigarettes each week!"  (I just don't know what the world would do without me judging it all the time.  I'm a real sweetheart.)

In the middle of my mental chastisement, I noticed she came back through the line, threw some cash down by the cashier and left.  Well that really sent my mind reeling!  I naturally assumed there was some sort of shady business going on and that she was paying off the cashier to be part of it.  

Before I could get it all worked out in my head the cashier handed me a receipt.  

"I didn't pay," I said.
"She paid for you," the cashier replied.
"That lady just paid for you."
"Why?" I asked, stunned.
"She just loves people."

Speechless, we left.  

She just loves people.  

The woman I had been in the process of condemning had just footed my Walmart bill.  
Because she loves people.

What a wonderful thing to be known for!  Someone who loves people.

It got me thinking, if I could leave this life with the same legacy, to be known as a person who loves people, I would feel it was a life well lived.  To hear from God, "You loved people well, and in doing so, you loved me well."  What an honor.  What a lesson spoken to me at a time when I was being so judgmental.

Over the past few years God has done a work in my heart to help me see people the way he sees them. My eyes will lock in on a person and I'll think, "They are a person of value.  They are a person of great value.  They are worth dying for.  Jesus died for them."  It's a recording that plays on repeat in my mind.  

Yet, so very often I forget.  Instead, my thoughts are ugly.  
He's a slob.
They're lazy.
She's clearly trying too hard.
She's prettier than me.
She's thinner than me.
They're driving too slow.
What an idiot!

Oh my clumsy, foolish self.  

I'm so glad for God's grace.  Grace that helps me to remember.  Grace that comes in the form of a little old lady who wears her sunglasses indoors, walks with a cane, smokes like a chimney, and just loves people.  A little old lady who valued me when I didn't value her.  God used her to remind me that every person has value.  Every person has great value.  They are worth dying for.  Jesus died for them.  





Well, Mr. T has been in the doghouse lately.  Literally, not figuratively.  He designed and built the coolest Doggy Duplex for our neighbor dogs.  Words can not even describe how awesome it is!  Actually, they can.  But my words couldn't describe it because I don't know much about manly doghouse building type things.  Mr. T obviously does.  The following is written by him:

Doghouse for the neighbors.  For the neighbors' dogs, I should say, not for the neighbors necessarily.  Got all the materials free.  Put it on a pallet to keep it off the ground to keep it insulated.

I put a removable divider in the middle.  It's a duplex.  The walls and floor are insulated by sandwiching two layers of plywood around 1/2" foam insulation.  The duct tape seals the edges of the plywood to keep it from absorbing moisture.  The two holes in back provide some ventilation, but are high enough to be protected by the roof eave.

The shingled roof lifts off if access inside is ever needed, but is sturdy enough for dogs and boys to climb on.

The hooks on the front of the doghouse accept a shingled detachable covered porch which helps block wind and rain.

Home Sweet Home.  The neighbor boys helped some during final assembly and will be responsible for painting it.