Sunday, November 4, 2012

Silver Lining

Ah November. The weather has changed, the allergies are in full swing and finally there is hope for a better tomorrow.

After quite a few weeks of reminding people that I was the best person for the job, I can say it is official! I will be Long-Term Substituting for an Art Teacher @ Mayde Creek Junior High beginning in late November or early December. The precise date depends entirely on when her fetus decides to make an appearance. This gig will last until the middle of February at the earliest and could last longer. Again all depends on the how much maternity leave the teacher decides to take. 

With the promise of a job(at least for a few months) we decided we should get our own place. As of yesterday, we signed a 6 month lease on a 2 bedroom, 2 bath town house in a great part of town, only 10 minutes away from Ben and Adika. After the last post, we all understand how hard this was to find and Mandy and I are now okay with paying ridiculously high rent for safety, security and cleanliness. Starting next month we will call the Enclave at Cypress Park #1003 home. We get the keys on December 4 just in time to put are clothes away before the festivities and fun the Christmas season brings. No really, remember we moved with nothing but our clothes, tortoise, iMac and espresso machine. Will it be the best decorated townhouse on the block? NO! Will it be furnished with every modern convenience afforded to the typical American? NO! Will it have the basic necessities one requires to simply live? NO! But, it will be ours!!! And we found some sweet circa 1938 22k gold plated china at the thrift store to drink espresso out of. Set of 19 for $3. Never thought I'd be proud to say that sentence...but I am! 

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy it seems insensitive to even jest about donating to our cause and fortunately I really don't know how to set that kind of stuff up. So, while you're sitting around the fire place this Holiday season drinking cocoa and enjoying festive desserts, think of us and know that we really do enjoy living a more simple life without such modern comforts as sheets, spatulas, plates and other such frivolities. I mean it can't be that bad if we're drinking espresso out of 22k gold plated china right?

But, I digress. 

Rather than give us endless guilt trips about moving away and other such nonsense, our friend Big-T is coming to visit December 2-10. While Big-T is here we have a fun filled week of excitement that includes but is not limited to: An over night stay in New Orleans, a day trip to Galveston to play on the ocean, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, a personal guided tour of Cardiff Junior High and much much more. We may even let him help us move! Shshh.

We are really so excited for him to come and bring a little piece of familiarity to our new lives. And only 2 weeks after he leaves we get to welcome the younger Berry's and their humans for Christmas! Couldn't have asked for a better December!

The longer we are here, the more it begins to feel like somewhere we could call home. With that said, it also makes it possible to start thinking that anywhere can be home since really no where on earth really is. Deep right!?! My application to Katy ISD is complete and my application to Issaquah ISD is almost complete. I think I need to find somewhere on the East Coast so that we have the whole nation covered. For all of you gasping in disbelief, I was kidding. We have no intention of moving to the East Coast. 

We do however have every intention of seeking the Lord's will, and living our adventure until He calls us home. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Homeless in Houston

Think of the worst thing that has ever happened to you. Then punch yourself in the face, light your hair on fire and put your hand in running blender. That's what apartment hunting in Houston is like. Minus all the blood and skin transplant surgeries it's pretty much identical.

After recently landing a long-term sub position at a neighboring Junior High we decided it was time to spread our wings in the big city and get our own digs. Unfortunately Houston is confused and it is ridiculously expensive to rent and super cheap to buy. Thus begins our story...

The first place we checked out seemed nice and it was only 750 a month. Did I lie to them about how many kids we had so we could get the 2 bedroom instead of the 3? YES! Did Mandy like that? NO! If anyone knows Mandy, you'll know that she has a thing about lying. Something about being immoral and blah blah blah. So that place was out.

The second place seemed great. As long as we liked drugs, gangs and possible sudden death. So that didn't work.

The third place was a go! But then one thing after another fell through until we realized you don't have to be catholic to believe in signs. So we waived goodbye to all the hispanic children and women with babies feeling discouraged and a bit confused at why we were here.

If you're waiting for this to end well, just stop. It doesn't end well. It might in the future but for now, no. No it does not.

On our way home we drove past some apartments that, well they were really something! We walked in feeling immediately underdressed and out of place. Imagine Julie Roberts in Pretty Woman trying to buy new clothes. That was us.

She sat us down and said, "What's y'alls price range?"

I replied in a low but confidant voice, "We were hoping to stay around 8 or 9 hundred!"

Mandy politely reminded me and alerted the kind lady that $900 was really our max. I just looked at the wall like there was something really interesting that needed my immediate attention.

The woman replied kindly, "I can get you into one of our 1 bedroom town homes easily." I feigned interest while Mandy reminded me and alerted the woman that we had 3 children.

After a moment I asked, "Well, how much are the 2 bedrooms?"

The woman replied, "It's out of your price range!"

The worst part of this story is that unlike Julia we didn't have a purse full of money to make her feel stupid with. Of all the times not to have a bag full of hundreds, this was not one of them. Lesson learned and please for anyone who reads this learn from our lesson.

Houston, Texas USA
Mobile Photography

(Part of what makes the pictures in
the Mobile Photography Portfolio
 so cool is the danger of taking
them while driving. I think it's really going
to catch on!)
In reality the woman was very kind and gave us a number to another woman who works on referrals helping people "like us" find a place to call home. To make a long story a bit shorter, this lady is great. She sent us a list of about 20 properties the next day. After weeding out the ones that are too far away or too expensive we were left with 7. After visiting some, being turned away from others for having too many children and really loving one that was way out of our price range, we are back at square one. Just as a reminder square one is homeless paying a University 2000 miles away money to work full time for free. It's actually quite glamorous in real life but comes out a little rough on paper.

So here we sit waiting for a second list. Assuming our agent hasn't given up on us this week will probably be filled with more searching that will hopefully result in a happier tale. Until then I encourage all of you to always carry a bag full of hundreds and never, I repeat never search for places to rent in Houston. Unless you like drugs, roaches and the possibility of death
in your sleep then hey have an adventure!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Taste for Adventure

For all of you who may not know, WE MOVED TO TEXAS.

Ready for Adventure!
A little more than two months ago we packed up our mini-van with the humans, our clothes, the espresso machine, the iMac and Chin (the tortoise). With a couple dollars in our pocket, a large bag full of impulse buys from Fred Meyer and an ample supply of Starbucks Cards we set out on an adventure we would not soon forget...

We set off at 9 o'clock at night with our sights set on Denver, Colorado. We had already decided to be "that family" who would take a family photo at each State Welcome Sign and luck would have Mandy find a mustache machine on our way out of town that only added to the unadulterated awesomeness that became our collection of photos.

If anyone has ever driven to Montana than you know the Welcome Sign is posted to a bridge that stretches across the freeway lending itself to anything but a quality photo op. Fortunately natured called and determination kept us from starting our list of state pictures with a gap.
#1 Montana Rest Stop
Montana, USA
Don't let the photo fool you. Contrary to what you think your seeing, we are going strong and Denver seems not only doable but merely an afternoon drive. After a brief, and by brief I mean less than an hour, sleep at a random rest stop in middle of nowhere, Montana and about 3 or 4 shift changes we made it to colorful Colorado.
#2 Colorado Road Side
Colorado, USA
That night we met a friend for dinner and slept peacefully in a 5 star hotel. Well, it was a La Quinta. But compared to twenty+ hours in the car it seemed extravagant and lavish. As seen in the picture above, the trip had made us weary and hard as the past with its amenities and comforts slowly faded to distant dream of dream. Being a family of 5 residing in an '02 Ford Windstar changes you...

The next morning we set out refreshed, renewed and ready for anything the long stretch of road could and would bring. We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more and then we almost ran out of gas...
Middle of Nowhere, Colorado
Fortunately being a stranded family of 5 residing in an '02 Ford Windstar on the side of the road in Colorado was not part of God's plan. So, we got gas and pressed merrily forward having learned not to laugh so much you forget to get gas. 

Before we new it the panhandle of Oklahoma was fast approaching and the camera was primed and ready to capture yet another memory.
#3 Oklahoma Road Side
Oklahoma, USA
Although our time in Oklahoma was short it left a lasting impression that will...keep us from ever returning. It furthered proved my theory that the only people who live in Oklahoma are the people that were born there. Oh, and their sign adequately displays the beauty that the state landscape exudes to every border (please sense the sarcasm)! Luckily that panhandle of Oklahoma is as large as, well something small, so in no time we were ready for this...
#4 Texas Road Side
Texas, USA
Amarillo, Texas wasn't too much further and there we found Domino's and clean, inviting sheets. The next day was filled with many more stories that will inevitably fall upon the ears of friends and family for many years to come. The important part is that we finally made it to Ben and Adika's house safe and mostly sound.

The children were changed in ways that only someone who has applied a mustache in the wee hours of night can understand. Luckily they were a little crazy before so no one has noticed the difference. We are adjusting reluctantly to Texas life. But we're showing Texas who is boss by sweating, catching every disease under the heavens and finding new and wondrous things to be allergic too! 

Seriously though, God continues to provide and we have continued to live day by day trusting Him to do so. While we have little idea of what the future holds, we continue to bask in the ambiguity of life and hold on tight to the ride God continues to guide. WOW, did you just hear that poetry. You can't plan this stuff!

That dad from Modern Family once said, "If life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Then life will be all like what?" With this insight we have decided to make lemons, until we get thirsty, then we'll drink some of the lemonade. But we will mostly make lemons and be quite happy with that. We pray that God will be as real and personal in your life as he is in ours. May you be blessed and continue to bless God and others in everything you do! We Love you all...

MobileHolmes out - (Was that too much there, with that last bit all like mobileholmes out? It seemed like too much. Oh well.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Do you ever sit down to watch a tv show or movie that you probably shouldn't be watching? Well believe it or not sometimes...I do. Tonight was one of those nights! I sat down to watch some stupid show on Netflix and thought, "when was the last time I read my bible?"

Presuming the Holy Spirit was probably sleeping at 11:30 at night, I safely assumed it was just a random thought and moved forward in picking the latest episode. Before I pressed play I suddenly had the incredible urge to pee. Having not pee'd my pants in well over 2 decades I decided without much consideration to use the bathroom. While peeing I thought again, "I should read my bible!"

Again, I insisted the Holy Spirit is on a scheduled vacation and I know this is just a random thought. Finally as I sat down and got comfortable in my sin nature I think once more, "I really should at least read a chapter."

This time it's clear, the Holy Spirit is an overachiever and is working nights while on vacation. So I reluctantly pick up the word and open randomly to Ezekiel 14. Now I am of the opinion that the Word is alive and God doesn't really need me to read anything specific to have me receive exactly what He has for me in my obedience, however reluctant. But tonight was something extra special not only did the Holy Spirit convict me to read my bible but my bible was also loud and clear. Six verses was all it took to make me turn off Netflix and sit down after 6 months and create this post. Those verses were Ezekiel 14:1-6 out the New Living Translation and read as follows:

14 Then some of the leaders of Israel visited me, and while they were sitting with me, this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols[a] in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests? Tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The people of Israel have set up idols in their hearts and fallen into sin, and then they go to a prophet asking for a message. So I, theLord, will give them the kind of answer their great idolatry deserves. I will do this to capture the minds and hearts of all my people who have turned from me to worship their detestable idols.’

“Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. I, the Lord, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for my advice. I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people. Then you will know that I am theLord.

Yep. That just happened. The show itself isn't the problem really. It's what I'm allowing into my heart. If I remember the simple fact that I'm either serving the Lord or not, NO middle ground, how could I ignore that by watching ungodly crap I am setting up an idol in my heart, embracing an ungodly life and therefore falling into sin. Luckily in verse 6 I am encouraged in how to move forward. It's pretty technical so I've decided to spell it out here...STOP! Repent, turn away and STOP!

I continue to amaze myself with utter ignorance. The very idea of someone experiencing what I have and meeting God in such unexpected and real places and then falling time and time again seems ridiculous, insulting and pathetic. In all honesty it is all those things and about 15 other really bad things that I will leave at your discretion to invent and label me with. 

The reality remains that I am human and by definition a dirty rag. So rather than dwell in the patheticness of my continual failure I have chosen to repent (again), share with the galaxy this underwhelming life development and then move forward in Christ with hope. 

My big take-away from this experience is how important it is to identify spiritual lows and triumph in them rather than fall victim to them. I will forever have a place in my conscience that is reserved for the guilt concerning the accident (well maybe not forever, but for the foreseeable future, at least for now). The lesson is to celebrate the fact that God triumphs over everything rather than let one moment be a stronghold that continually leads down a path of spiritual, physical and mental destruction.

Anything that takes the place even for moment of God in my life will now be labeled an idol and adequately described as such in reference to infiltrating my heart and leading into a hole of sin. I realize that is a big jump, from tragic life experience to sinful television, but that is the way it works. Baby steps in moments of weakness that make the next step not seem so bad until all the sudden my heart is full of crap. Really smelly stuff too not like infant poop that is relatively scentless. 

Here's to learning from the past and moving forward with greater clarity and wisdom that only God can provide.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Call to Action

God calls us to a real, meaningful and lasting relationship with Him.

What an idea?

I have found that the typical American Christian (ie…me and probably you) desires a real, meaningful and lasting relationship with Jesus. What we don’t desire is the effort and time it takes to actually have that.  So instead, we fill our time with small groups, church and sometimes even one-on-one time with a fellow Christian, discussing how we can be better believers for Christ. Now don’t hear what I’m not saying! All of these activities can be fruitful and some are even required by God. What I am asking is, “are we making these activities fruitful?”, “are we growing?” and, “does the fruit in our lives declare it?”

At church, we listen to a pastor preach about Christ, what he did, how we should respond and in that response what our lives should look like. At small group we, I believe, genuinely seek our peers guidance, direction and accountability towards the Lord; and finally, even in our personal time with a friend, we try to understand how we can meaningfully fit in time with Christ everyday.

The following statement(s) are bold in nature and not suitable for non-believers, Sunday Christians or the like:

I would venture to say that the condition of our hearts is tragic! We spend a majority of our time with the Lord seeking Him, but are we really? We say with our mouths that we desire a realationship (an accidental misspelling, but I have decided to coin the word realationship in reference to having a real-relationship with God. If someone has already done this, please do not crush my spirit in public but rather a private email that will provide me with the opportunity to discontinue current self-praise I am bestowing upon myself for such creativity!) with God, but with our actions we declare much louder our true intent. Unfortunately these are rarely the same. Week after week we leave said religious gatherings with new, fun, creative ways to establish a realationship with God, but is it working? I will now boldly say, NO!

I have come to the sad realization in my own life that the previous predicament is entirely a condition of the heart. And a poor one at that. With my mouth I have declared a need and desire for the Lord, but with my actions I very convincingly prove otherwise almost daily. All to say that there aren’t any tricks to growing our realationship with the Lord. Good ole-fashioned Bible reading and prayer in conjunction with corporate worship and more personal interaction with believers is time tested and mother approved. Much like a popular breakfast cereal! 

I have recently read through the entire New Testament (excluding Revelation) and found that I didn’t, nor will I ever, receive all that the Lord had for me, or any of us really, in these books. Therefore a friend of mine, as well as myself, have agreed to read through the New Testament again over the next three months. Starting January 30, 2012 we will begin to read about 4 chapters a day. We have set up a blog to post thoughts, insights, challenges and other tidbits we glean from our very intimate time with the Lord.

My reasoning for sharing all of this is two-fold:

  1 - hope you will join us in reading through the New Testament over the next 3 months. I assure you this will change your life! It may take a few days for us to figure out logistics, but check out the blog @
Feel free to comment on posts as you read along with us and share what God is doing in your life.


 - 2 - pray that from this day forward, rather than saying you want a realationship with Christ, you will instead, with your actions truly seek Him through good ole-fashioned Bible reading and prayer in conjunction with previously mentioned corporate worship and more personal interaction with beleivers. I promise that if you start by simply asking God to give you an insatiable hunger for His word that He will, and you will slowly but surely find that making time for Jesus will not be as hard as it once was!

Disclaimer: I want everyone to be clear that this is a struggle in my walk with Lord. While I assume and even generalize my experience as one shared by the whole, I do not intend to judge but rather encourage and motivate a generation that really serves Christ with our entire being!

I pray God that you will challenge all who read this to take part in this opportunity to read through your word with fervor and expectation that you will make yourself real to us. I pray that we would be convicted to pray with our spouses, with our children and in our quiet time, alone with you! I pray that in these times of direct connection through your word and through your Holy Spirit that our time corporately with other believers would be more meaningful and lasting in contribution to our walk with you. And finally Lord I pray that You would change us, that you would heal us and that you would rise us up as generation wholly devoted to you and your Kingdom. -Amen

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sudden Loss

Today I am reminded how drastically and suddenly our own worlds can change. It almost surprises me to type these next words, but even after this last year it seems that I am still surprised at how quickly things are forever different. From the words "I do", or the birth of child to less inviting scenario's such as a patch of black ice or in the this case a brain aneurism our worlds can be turned upside down. Today, a man who I loved dearly, a man that laughed heartily, hugged sincerely and loved very deeply, went home to be with the Lord. His life has impacted me greatly and his absence, even for just the few shorts moments that have passed, have left me disheartened. Sad not for him, as I know he is home but sad for the many left here to continue life without him. I pray, Lord that you would comfort his family, and pray that through this tragedy we may rejoice in people coming to know your name and Lord I pray that above all else, your will be done and that you would only grant us your peace that will pass understanding. In my sadness I rejoice for his life, I thank Jesus that he knew the truth and pray that all who knew him and all that may read this will choose today to live wholly for the Lord. May God grant us all Another Day to draw closer to Him...