Monday, April 19, 2010

Leaving the Kids with My Husband

Last week, Mom Brand and I went to the St. Louis area to attend a Ladies' Retreat that she founded many years ago. It was nice for her to reconnect with her friends; I saw a lot of people that I hadn't seen for several years. Dad Brand's sister, Aunt Jeri ,was there as well. We both had great time at the retreat. We stayed over a couple of days to visit with Mark's older brother, his wife and children, as well as other friends in the area. I was happy to hear my niece play the piano and sing some worship songs. I enjoyed eating at the restaurant where my nephew works. I had a great shopping trip in Granite City, Illinois with dear friends: we went to the Dollar Tree and The Salvation Army thrift store. The Dollar Tree has a nice little teacher's corner where I got some stickers for homeschooling, etc. The Salvation Army was great as well. I got 2 videos: "Mrs. Arris Goes to Paris" and another one that I will pull out later, along with some books that I put back for gifts, Christmas, or birthdays.

Mark offered to watch the children while I was gone. I gave him many instructions. I had a paper with their schedule: their activities, the things that they needed for school, the names and phone numbers of the people that would be watching the children while he was in meetings, etc. I did lots of laundry and had the kids' school clothes hanging in order in their closets. I bought extra groceries including frozen pizza, chicken pot pies, and hot dogs to make menu-planning quite simple. I prepared a lot and knew that everything would be fine. Besides, it's good for the kids to have some Daddy time without me.

In order to insure a blessed time away, I have learned to not worry about what my children are eating or be concerned about what my daughter's hair looks like...

Because my cell phone did not work at the Ladies' Retreat, we didn't communicate a lot until a couple of days before I came back. My daughter reported in with the news in that they had been eating some highly nutritious meals: Papa John's pizza one night and Wendy's the next. Mark told me that he was ready for me to come back. He was exhausted and told me that he was a grateful husband…He did tell me not to come home early, because the house was a mess. I wasn't planning to come home early. We had our tickets, and I wasn't going to change them anyway…

When we arrived, everyone looked happy to see us. My daughter came out to greet me in muddy clothes (she had been having fun!) Riley, our dog, was overjoyed to see Mom Brand. (She regularly feeds him from the table.) Mark was in the middle of cleaning up a mess that the dog had made the day before on our nice dining room rug. Our guess is that the dog was sick…The washing machine and dryer were busy. The dishwasher was working and Mark was hand-washing dishes. I was surprised. I expected to come home to a big pile of dirty laundry and a house that I could not walk around in...

Little by little, I began to understand what had happened during the week…I took the clothes out of the dryer. They were all whites- Mark's nice dress shirts, white hand towels, etc., but they were all white. When I emptied the clothes in the washing machine to the dryer, I was a bit surprised to find all together: one of the kids' navy polos from school, dishtowels, and a white t-shirt with writing. But everything was its original color; I did separate things to dry them. My son's soccer uniform had been washed, but he hadn't been to a game. Mark thought that he had sent him to practice in his uniform. (No harm done. Besides, the coach and his wife knew that I was out of town. She helped my son with his homeschool work one day.)

I got ready to start dinner. The frozen pizzas and chicken pot pies were still in the freezer. I chose chicken pot pies and put them in the oven. I noticed that the industrial-sized lemonade was significantly lighter than when I left. Had they accidently spilled half of it on the floor? I discreetly asked my daughter, "So, did you all drink quite a bit of lemonade while I was gone?" "Oh yes, "she replied, "we had it for breakfast and dinner, because Dad kept forgetting to get milk." They also had lemonade at Chick-Fil-A. And which meal was that? I think the only decent meal that they had was prepared by the dear African sister that helped the kids with their homework one day after school.

I did notice that there were two containers of ice cream in the freezer. My dear husband couldn't remember to get milk, but at least the kids got some calcium from not just one, but two yummy kinds of ice cream. "Oh, by the way, while you were gone, the Lebanese pastor came over for pizza and ice cream." In this house? What did it look like then? Oh well, I'm sure he understood.

I had left water bottles, yogurt, etc. for the kids' lunches. It really looked like a lot of it was still in the refrigerator. Mark said he didn't know where the refillable water bottles were, so he went to the store and bought real water bottles to send to the school every day. That works. My daughter told me that Dad forgot to send her lunch one morning. Since she didn't have the morning snack that was packed in her lunchbox, the school receptionist gave her one of the snacks that she has on hand for such emergencies. When Mark brought her lunch later that day, it had a total of 5 cookies in it. Dad had given her 3 for her dessert and then there were 2 in the Lunchable he sent. I'm sure all of the cookies helped make up for lunch being delivered a bit late.

It was good to sit and talk with Mark. We got caught up on the last few days. In the meantime, the kids played outside in the mud and eventually got in a big mud fight. They were so dirty that they had to take baths before they could eat dinner.

We ate dinner and everyone seemed really happy to be eating chicken pot pies, green beans, and salad. Mark needed to leave and buy some reading glasses. He had lost his the night before. He also needed to finish some sermon preparations for the next day.

Soon, the kids were in bed. I stayed up to check my e-mail, since I had not taken my computer on the trip. I called Mark two times to remind him to get some milk; he's not into details. He had a great prayer meeting and brought home 2 gallons of milk. Life was getting back to normal.

It was nice to be away, to be with family and dear friends…Mark had a great time visiting with our pastor friend from Lebanon. The kids enjoyed some extra attention. In reflecting over the last few days, Mark and I have both concluded- "A Good Time Was Had By All!" J

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Easter Story and Making Your Bed Up

While all four of the gospels tell the story of Jesus' resurrection, John shares his perspective:

Early on the first day of the week...Simon Peter...arrived and went in the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
John 20:1,6&7

When I was in Bible college, one of my favorite teachers,Rev. Robert Holmes, explained this passage to us. On Resurrection Morning, with all that Jesus had to do, He took time to fold his burial cloth. So, why do we think that we should start our day and not make our bed? Do we think that we have more to do than Jesus himself? (I must add that Bro. Holmes was also the Men's Dorm Supervisor, and had probably seen a few unmade beds during his time in that position.)

I love to go into my childrens' room and see that their beds that are made, without being asked. Or, better yet, to walk into my room and realize that my husband has made up our bed! Often, beds are the largest surface in a room. So, even if a room is a bit (or even a lot) disorganized, a made bed can give the room an impression of being tidy. Not only can a made bed make a room quickly look better, it can be a great surface to work on. I have been quite busy and decided to work on an unmade bed- it's no good. Keys and other items can get under the sheets. Then, you have to remake the whole bed by taking off everything and putting it back on. Not exactly what you want to be doing on morning when the airplane flight will leave with or without you. Making your bed can actually be a time-saver in the long-run.

And so...I love the Bible. While it gives me lofty things to think about, ideals to live up to, and so on, it also inspires practical insights for my everyday life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Long As I Got King Jesus

While I was at my parents' over Thanksgiving, I overheard my crazy brother-in-law singing a improvised version of this song while he was working on the bedhead hair of one of their sons. "Long As I Got Queen Darla - Don't Need Nobody Else," he sang robustly. I hadn't heard this song for years, so I decided to google it. Those of you who know me well, know that this is not normally "my" kind of music, but it's a lot of fun for a change. I like the first video for me; the second one is for my kids and the kid in me. Enjoy!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

O Lord, I do repent.

Yesterday, as I was waiting for an eye doctor's appointment, I was looking through a hymnal that I had grabbed from the car. I found this one especially convicting and wanted to share it…


Because I knew not when my life was good,

And when there was a light upon my path,

But turned my soul perversely to the dark,

O Lord, I do repent.


Because I held upon my selfish road,

And left my brother wounded by the way,

And called ambition duty, and pressed on,

O Lord, I do repent.


Because I spent the strength Thou gavest me

In struggle which Thou never didst ordain

And have imperfect life to offer Thee,

O Lord, I do repent.


Because I was impatient, would not wait,

And thrust my willful hand across Thy threads,

And marred the pattern drawn out for my life,

O Lord, I do repent.




By Sarah Williams, 1868.


Guilty especially of verses 2, 3, and 4…and I'm thankful for God's grace…

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Moving Tips

I have a friend who is a Military Chaplain's wife. She has two children, one a newborn. She is in the moving process. Mark and I moved a lot early in our marriage when we were missionaries and I learned some things about moving the hard way! I wrote these notes for my friend, but I'm putting them on my blog in the hope that they can be helpful to others as well…

  1. Pray - I'm serious! Whenever I start a job that is overwhelming, I ask for God's help… that He would give me creative ideas; that my friends would help with meals, packing, or watching the kids; and that the kids will behave, take naps, etc.
  2. Pack your suitcases like you are going on a trip that will last for a month or so - Pack clothes, toiletries, Easter clothes or decorations, anything you think you will need (don't go crazy here!) for the next month or so. This could include putting in some extra clothes in case the weather changes - t-shirts, if it might be warm, jackets or coats, etc. Make sure you include medicines that your family uses on a regular basis.
  3. Pack a few things for the kids - A special blanket, a couple of sheets for the Pack-n-Play, a few favorite toys, sippy cups, bottles, baby spoons, etc.
  4. Pack up your office/library in a briefcase - Include the most important documents or bills, and the books you use most often. For me, it's the Bible and a "what-to- do-if-my-kids are-sick-book" like Where There Is No Doctor or Baby and Child Care (published by Focus on the Family.)
  5. Pack a kitchen box or suitcase - Put in the things that you need most – a skillet and spatula, a pan, a bowl with lid (so you can cook in the microwave,) a small bowl or two, cups, a couple of plates, a can opener, a toaster, a knife, a few dishtowels, cleaning rags, salt, pepper, etc. - whatever you need or want.
  6. Pack a bedroom/linen box - 2 pillows, a mattress protector, a set of sheets, and a blanket. Include a towel or so for each person, and a few washcloths.

I would take these boxes or suitcases with you in your car instead of shipping them in a moving truck, etc. Most of these things will be the last things that you pack, because you use them regularly. If you will do what I have suggested, you will end up with a compact version of your household - the things that you really need at once to live when you arrive.

I highly recommend this method since you have a baby. This way, you will have the basics immediately and then you can unpack the rest as you have time and energy.

My Love and God's Blessings to you,


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

This and That...

Tommorrow night, I will be teaching a class called, "Helpful Hints for Your Home." This will be practical hints on how I try to lead my children, as well as general household ideas.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for and given to the Janke kids camp fund! We are very grateful because all four airfares are now paid. We only lack about $600 to finish their total camp costs!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Africa, Help is on the Way!

This past Sunday we had special prayer at Hillcrest Church for Jean-Aimee Gifford, a young lady who leaves soon for Africa. Jean-Aimme has been an AIDS nurse here in Dallas, has been to Africa, and seen the great need. Now, she is moving to South Africa to work with AIDS patients and their families.

As is my Sunday afternoon tradition, I read the Dallas Morning News. The cover article was about the health care crisis in Africa: A War Short On Warriors. There are many generous and kind-hearted people who give finances to this effort, but the primary need is medical workers. How amazing!! At the very time that the need is great, we at Hillcrest are sending Jean-Aimee, who can help many people physically, but spiritually as well. We will have a speical time of blessing her this Sunday, May 27th.

If you would like to contact Jean-Aimee directly, her e-mail address is: If you want to find out more about the type of ministry she will be doing in Africa, here is two web addresses: and To support her, contact

We love Jean-Aimee, and are thankful (and proud!) to send her out in the name of Jesus.