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.