Archive for July, 2008

Our whole family, minus baby Jane is leaving for camp this Sunday. I used to love camp. Like twenty-four years ago when I was in the seventh grade and the prospects of meeting my true-love-forever were just around the corner. (Incidentally, Spencer and I attended at the same youth camp in 1982, but we never noticed each other– like two ships passing in the night… I don’t know why he didn’t notice the 13 year old girl with the red horn-rimmed glasses and the silliest laugh in all of Arkansas.) Ahem. Now all I think about is lumpy bunk beds, sharing a shower with 30 other girls (NOT at the same time, but STILL) and how to best avoid burning to a crisp. Oh, and the great Bible preaching and spiritual fellowship. Yes of course, that. It’s just that the lack of air-conditioning sort of overshadows my spirituality right now. I need prayer, friends.

Oh, and just for laughs, I’ve scheduled our family portrait to be taken at the park the Friday before we leave for camp. Just because I’m smart like that. And I love to be a blessing to my family. So in between looking for river shoes and mosquito repellent, I’m searching the house for matching white shirts that will make us look oh-so-trendy and a pair of brown shoes for the one kid who only owns black. But I’m not stressed at all.

Alright– so I’m leaving for Wal-Mart in thirty minutes, I’ll make a mad dash over to the Dollar store sometime tomorrow and I’ll pop into the Pamida this weekend. Here’s what’s on my various shopping lists. Remind me if I’m forgetting something people. I want to be as comfortable as possible prepared for any emergency that might come our way.
Four bottles of sunscreen (Because the Rays have the God given inability to tan.)
Two bottles of base make up (Because I don’t want to scare the other campers.)
Two boxes Large Zip lock FREEZER bags (Because I don’t want shampoo to spill on my 14 kool t-shirts.)
Clothespins (I love clothespins. Don’t leave home without them.)
Box of Manila Files (Not for camp– I just need them.)
White shirt for Truett (For the fam portrait.)
White shirt (3/4 sleeves) for Anna (Ditto.)
Brown Belt for Truett (Again.)
Underwear for Mom (Because I’m down to 4 pair. Did I really just type that on the internet?)
Underwear for Abbey
Underwear for Anna
Underwear for Jane (Apparently I’m such a good mother, and do laundry so often that I never realized that none of us Ray girls has enough underwear to make it through a week of camp. However, the Ray boys could leave home for a month and still not have to do laundry…)
Saline (So the one who is legally blind can clean his contacts on a nightly basis.)
Sharpie Marker (I love me a good Sharpie.)
Small Bottle for Laundry Soap or a sample box or something…
Bandanas or headbands or something for my hair (Because sweat happens.)

Flashlights (To fight off the monsters.)

Spencer’s Blood Pressure meds (Because I have a feeling he will really be needing these.)

Rivershoes for everyone
Box Fan (Because Michelle is dreading the lack of climate control.)
Bath Mat (Because Michelle is dreading walking on the cabin’s concrete floors.)
Roll of Quarters (Because Michelle called ahead and there is a washer and dryer at this camp!!!)
Spencer’s Prayer Book
Michelle’s Prayer Book
Camp Folder with everyone’s numbers
Cell Phone Chargers
Ball Cap for Spencer
Sun Hat for Michelle (To protect my lily white face.)
Sun glasses for anyone who wants them
Socks for Michelle at night (Because my feet get cold even when I’m hot.)

Earplugs for Michelle at night (Because I’m a light sleeper.)

Black out mask for Michelle (Did I mention I’m a light sleeper?)
Laundry Basket
Shower Shoes (I don’t even want to think about it.)
Packable folding chair?
Camera (With an address label affixed.)
Trash bags– 6 white, 6 black. (For wet, nasty laundry, river laundry and trash.)
Rain poncho (Because it rained every year at church camp when I was a kid.)
Apples to Apples (Because this is the funnest.game.ever.)
Scissors (See Clothespins)
Private Stash Coke Zero (To survive.)
Little Ice Chest (To keep my private stash chilled. Again- it’s all about survival.)


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School Shoes

School starts for us in twenty-four days. TWENTY. FOUR. DAYS. Where did our summer go? The kids and I went shopping for school shoes this past weekend– because we’re all going to church camp in a week and I needed to get this annual task out of the way.) And for all you traditionalists– OF COURSE THEY CANNOT WEAR THESE UNTIL THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!! (That was really for Abbey, in case she’s reading this. Just a friendly reminder. I really am a traditionalist and I like for the kids to even SMELL NEW on the first day of school.)

Here is a picture of their new school shoes, in age order. (Hooray for Famous Footwear’s annual sale!!) Notice how HUMONGOUS one particular child’s shoe is. These shoes belong to my babies. My very big, grown up babies…

When we walked into the shoe store last Friday, my only intension was to buy for the four school-aged children/teens. But as soon as we crossed the Famous Footwear threshold, Jane went bezerk! “Mama– I would like some little pink shoes. Mama? I would like some little pink shoes. Hey. Mama. I would like some LITTLE PINK SHOES!” (Rewind and repeat about one-hundred more times.) How was I supposed to resist a request for LITTLE PINK SHOES? However, my resolve quickly became strong as I found the only little pink shoes in the store for $30.00. To get the “Buy one, get one for half” deal, you have to have an even number of shoes to purchase and she was the odd man girl out. I promised her we would look else where for “little pink shoes” at the next store and prayed that God would lead me to a deal. Fifteen minutes later as we were perusing the t-shirts and hoodies in Old Navy, the little pink shoes you see in the picture surfaced for $3.50. God provided the cutest “little pink shoes” that you ever did see for a certain little girl and the day was saved. And I was glad to treat her. I know from experience that her shoes and her soul won’t stay little for very long.

My first born baby grew up somehow.
And I never saw, though it was under my brow…

Mary F. Early

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Are You My Mother?

You know you’ve read:

one too many times when you drive by one of these:


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Lovely Links

John Piper shares how to fight covetousnessPick out some people whose lives show that they treasure Christ above other things. Then “keep your eyes on them.” Watch them. That, Paul says, is a good way to conquer covetousness.

Cardboard Testimonies– This brought tears to my eyes. What would your cardboard testimony be? (I found this at Pastor Jays’ blog a while back.

Why Joel Osteen is so popular— I’ve watched Joel on TV a few times and I think (Dr? Mr?) Lucas has it right.

What She Wants You to Know– Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer features Jenni, a mother of 12 children ages 3 to 21. I only have 5 kids and I agreed with a lot of what she said, except that I’ve never been offended when people say that my kids all look alike.  I know they do! They’re all beautiful, just like their dad. 🙂

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Marriage Advice

This morning as I pulled out of the driveway to take my oldest child to an 8:30 Art Club meeting, I remembered something that I needed to tell my husband and so I started digging through my purse for my cell phone. But doggone it, my new purse is so huge that I couldn’t locate that blasted phone. I normally don’t have trouble locating items in my purse, but I had just purchased a new handbag that totally violated my personal purse rule, which is that a purse SHOULD NOT BE BIG ENOUGH TO DOUBLE AS A DIAPER BAG OR A SMALL SUITCASE!!!   But it was so sassy and cute sitting there on the shelf in JC Penney’s that I broke down and violated my own rule and so there I was on a Monday morning digging and searching in vain for my cell phone! When I finally found it, I dialed the speed dial to my husband’s phone and just as my husband answered with “Hello.” I heard Abbey yelling at me, “Mom! WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” Bam!

I had just plowed over our mail box.

I didn’t even bat an eye. “Hey babe, I just wanted you to know that I’m going to the dentist this morning to have a tooth filled and so we’ll have to meet at 11:30 (instead of our usual 12) for lunch. And then I hung up the phone. Wide eyed, Abbey looked at me and said, “Aren’t you even going to tell dad WHAT YOU JUST DID?” Of course I was, but some things are all about timing.

I haven’t been married for seventeen years for nothing.

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Children and Manners

OK- so what do y’all think about this?  Feel free to weigh in.

Last week’s VBS gave me the opportunity to spend six consecutive nights with a LOT of kids.  And let me just say up front, I LOVE kids–  even the ones with bad manners.  So please don’t email me about not loving the kids, because I do.  It’s just that during the course of the week I got to thinking.

Uh oh.

She’s thinking again.

I’ll just be blunt and say it:  I cannot stand for a child to call me by my first name.  (Just my first name, like they’re on an equal playing field or something!)  In the south, children who get extremely cozy/familiar with another adult are generally instructed by their parents to preface the first name with “Miss” as in “Miss Michelle.”  But here in the Midwest, it’s just plain ole’ “Michelle.”

Imagine a five year old approaching a 38-year-old woman in the church:  “Hey, “Michelle,” listen to this…” Or worse, yelling across the fellowship hall, “Michelle!  MI-CHEEEEELLLLLEEEE!!!!!”  I’m cringing even as I type that out.  I grew up calling most adults with a title.  In fact, when I graduated from high school, my voice teacher said I could now call her Lisa, but I just couldn’t do it.  Years later when we rendezvoused in Kansas City for lunch, she was still Mrs. Stainbrook to me.  (Thank goodness I didn’t really call her that since she was remarried with a different last name.)  ☺

Occasionally these days, I will interrupt a child and say, “Remember, sweetie, my name isn’t “Michelle” to you– it’s “Mrs. Ray.”  The kid in question will almost always look at me like I’m from Mars.  “Huh?”  And then I feel sorry for him because, bless his heart, his mamma never taught him any better.

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Vacation Bible School 2008 is over. Whew!

I’ve been leading children’s music for Vacation Bible School for what seems like forever. This year makes fifteen years for me. I think. I’ve taught the theme songs and accompaning songs for Kingdom Capers (2003), Rickshaw Rally (2004), Ramblin’ Roadtrip (2005), Arctic Edge (2006), Game Day Central (2007) and this year’s Outrigger Island, just to name a few. I am completely and utterly exhausted more tired at the end of the week than I used to be when I was younger, but I don’t ever get tired of teaching the children.

The thing I love about children’s music is that you can teach these young ones to express themselves physically in a way that most adults are too timid. I teach them to reach their hands to the sky and to their Lord and to express their love for Jesus with their eyes and with their faces. One little boy (a fourth grader, I think) stood out in particular. Every time he would sing The Word, (by Jeff Slaughter– http://www.jeffslaughter.com) and we came to the line: “The Word is… unbreakable… unshakable…” you could see the emotion written all over his face. Unabashed love. Precious.

Don’t be ashamed to worship the Lord with abandon. Jesus told us we had to become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven. If you want to really become like a child, come watch the children worship at VBS next year and mimic them

“Because He lived His life perfectly, but He chose to die upon the tree, so that you and I might live eternally…” (lyric from Jesus Is by Jeff Slaughter–  http://www.jeffslaughter.com)

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