Thursday, March 29, 2007

Swimmy buddies

Gracie & Emily prepping for swim lessons~
Wanted to get this photo up...more later plus details. I'm procrasting, but I'm running out of time. :o) Looks like bikinis are in again this year. Hee, heeeeeee- OK, U. Randy.... you can chew me out over lunch, ok?

Are we there yet?

Today we encountered a couple of 1st experiences... We are in the throes of toilet training, but Gracie's just about there after a dry week in big girl undies. We were driving this morning to the babysitter's house when she asked "Are we there yet?" for the 1st time. Gracie knows this route, so this surprised me. "Almost, baby.", I replied. Then with urgency in her voice, "I gotta go peeeeeeee!" Ok, now I'm feeling all tense...big girl panties...gotta pee...another 5 minutes for this novice potty goer. "Can you hold it, sweetie?", as I eye the porta potty at the park we're passing. She looks down at her self all buckled up, then looks at her hand with a very puzzled "How do I hold it?" look. Let me rephrase that, "Can you wait or do I need to stop now?". we broke the speed limit, making it just in time with phone ahead "get the girl quick" teamwork with Auntie Jeannette.

Hee hee~ Please, please forgive me...I never thought I'd share potty talk with total strangers but there's always a 1st time, eh?

Friday, March 23, 2007

10 Things Every Child Needs

10 Simple Things Every Child Needs

Interaction: Spend time watching me and responding to my cues. It tells me I'm important and special to you

Loving Touch: Cradle me, hold me, give me lots of hugs. It keeps me calm and comforts me and gives me courage to move on.

Stable Relationships: I need someone special to be there when I call. When I look around and see you I know I can go far.

Safe Healthy Environment: Plug the outlets, block the stairs. Use a carseat.

Self-Esteem: I can do it, yes I can, if you tell me so. Pay attention, give me praise and watch me go, go, go.

Quality Child Care: When you're gone I need to be with people you can trust to help me grow and teach me new exciting stuff.

Communication: Our little conversations mean a lot, even when I don't talk much.

Play: Play is fun, play is work. It is how I learn the ropes. When we play together you help me more than you know.

Music: 1, 2, 3 sing to me and make up silly tunes. Music is a special time that's fun to share.

Reading: Read to me, show me books, write my stories out in words.

Summarized from the Ounce of Prevention & McCormick Tribune Foundations video "10 Things Every Child Needs"

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Ok, folks...I'm going somewhere I rarely go, ecspecially here in such a public format. I was in Germany in March 2003 when our base was nearly emptied as troops deployed to bring justice and freedom to Iraq. We were all impacted and though I'm stateside, my heart yet aches daily for those who are serving; for those who's loved ones are in harm's way in efforts to pave the way for freedom for an oppressed people.

Also, during international fellowship meetings in Germany, I sat with displaced & distraught Iraqi mothers, fathers, daughters...who fled their homes due to tyranny; who freshly wept over imprisioned, kidnapped, and/or killed family members. They rejoiced in our efforts to bring down Saddam for hopes of freedom and a better day without fear or oppression.

As you well know, we rarely see the whole picture on CNN or other mainstream news. I don't claim to know to all or even enough to intelligently articulate/engage in debate. But this one thing I do know: I am thankful and proud of our armed service men and women. I pray for their protection, their families and for Godly direction for our nation regarding this matter of war.

A weeks few ago, former Iraqi general George Sada spoke at CLC along with Terry Law. say the least. He spoke freely about his experiences as a General in the Iraqi Army and advisor to Saddam Hussein.

One of the most exciting "secrets" revealed during General Sada's visit was the reported growth of Christian churches since the dismantling of Saddam as well as the provision for religious freedom in the new Iraqi constitution.

Below is a lengthy, but well articulated summary and key points of Sada's book from Melanie Phillips, award winning British journalist and author:

April 12, 2006
Saddam's Secrets

In London yesterday, I met General Georges Sada. An Iraqi Christian, he was Air Vice Marshal in Saddam’s Iraq and, despite being an Assyrian and not a member of the Ba’ath party, was by his own account a close adviser to Saddam and was very much at the heart of the action during Saddam’s regime. Somehow he survived and became, among other things, the President of the National Presbyterian Church in Baghdad and head of the Iraqi branch of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, whose headquarters are based at Coventry Cathedral and whose bishop bestowed upon him the Prize for International Peace and Reconciliation.

Last year, an American Christian organisation that raises funds for needy Iraqi children invited Sada to a conference. At that conference, he raised eyebrows when he announced that he knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that Saddam had hidden his weapons of mass destruction in 2002-3 by transporting them to Syria. He was persuaded to set down his account in a book, Saddam’s Secrets, which was published in America earlier this year by a small Christian publisher, Integrity. This is what Sada says in his book about Saddam’s WMD.

The UN inspectors found and destroyed thousands of tons of weapons in Saddam’s Iraq.

But I can assure you, they didn’t find everything. Because of his rapid rebuilding capabilities, Saddam managed to hide many of these weapons, along with the raw materials for building weapons of mass destruction. During the times when these weapons were not actually in production – mainly because of the threat posed by the United Nations inspectors – Saddam gave orders that the scientists who had been working on these programmes were to keep their plans, diagrams, formulas, raw materials and everything else in highly secure underground vaults so that they could continue their work the minute they were no longer being observed...

If Saddam ever suspected that there was any chance the inspectors would find something, he would have everything destroyed. But even then, nothing was really destroyed: the scientists had the knowledge and the budget, and when the time was right they would simply begin again. This was even true in the nuclear weapons programme. Even though we had not yet developed actual nuclear warheads, we were working on them. We had some components, and Saddam had developed sources in Europe, Asia and America who were willing to supply whatever we needed.

As Sada says, prior to the Iraq war no-one in Europe or America ever doubted that Saddam possessed WMD. So what happened to it?

...there is a tremendous volume of intelligence on these matters and mountains of anecdotal evidence. These are issues the Americans would likely have pursued diplomatically. But if they did, they have not wanted to make any of that information known to the media or the public. I am in quite a different situation, however, as a former general officer who not only saw these weapons but witnessed them being used on orders from the air force commanders and the president of the country.

Furthermore, I know the names of some of those who were involved in smuggling WMDs out of Iraq in 2002 and 2003. I know the names of officers of the front company, SES, who received the weapons from Saddam. I know how and when they were transported and shipped out of Iraq. And I know how many aircraft were actually used and what types of planes they were, as well as a number of other facts of this nature...

Everyone in the international arms community knew that Saddam had them and that he was spending like a sailor to buy more…The point is that when Saddam finally grasped the fact that it was just a matter of time until Iraq would be invaded by American and coalition forces, he knew he would have to take special measures to destroy, hide or at least disguise his stashes of biological and chemical weapons, along with the laboratories, equipment and plans associated with nuclear weapons development...

Saddam had ordered our weapons teams to hide the WMDs in places no military commander or United Nations weapons inspector would expect to find them. So they hid them in schools, private homes, banks, business offices and even on trucks that were kept constantly moving back and forth from one end of the country to the other. And then fate stepped in...

On June 4 2002, a three-mile long dam collapsed in Syria, causing a disaster over 40 square miles. When Syria asked for help from Jordan and Iraq, Saddam seized his opportunity.

For him, the disaster in Syria was a gift, and there, posing as shipments of supplies and equipment sent from Iraq to aid the relief effort, were Iraq’s WMDs. Weapons and equipment were transferred both by land and by air. The only aircraft available at the time were one Boeing 747 jumbo jet and a group of Boeing 727s. But this turned out to be the perfect solution to Saddam’s problem. Who would suspect commercial airliners of carrying deadly toxins and contraband technology out of the country? So the planes were quickly reconfigured...

Eventually there were fifty-six sorties. He [Saddam] arranged for most of these shipments to be taken to Syria and handed over to ordnance specialists there who promised to hold everything for as long as necessary. Subsequently I spoke at length to a former civilian airline captain who had detailed information about those flights. At the time he held an important position at Iraqi airways, which is the commercial airline in Baghdad...

In addition to the shipments that went by air, there were also truckloads of weapons, chemicals and other supplies that were taken into Syria at that time. These weren’t government vehicles or military equipment but large cargo trucks and eighteen-wheelers made to look like ordinary commercial operators...

To keep all these transfers under wraps, the operators worked through a false company called SES.

This company played a key role in transporting equipment back and forth between Syria and Iraq, as well as in smuggling many former government officials out of Iraq prior to and immediately after the US invasion in March 2003.

When I spoke to Sada yesterday, he told me the pilots involved were now terrified for their lives. As a result, he has undertaken not to name them. This obviously makes verifying his account very difficult.

He told me that the pilots told him that they saw yellow barrels with a skull and crossbones motif being loaded onto the planes. Comical as this sounds, he says the skull and crossbones is a recognised signal of dangerous contents, and yellow signals the presence of chemicals.

He also says that he lived and worked with the ever-present daily reality of Saddam’s tactics of hiding his WMD from the weapons inspectors. Whole environments were transformed and rebuilt – buildings, whole factories – in the largely successful strategy of hiding the stuff. The idea that Saddam suddenly stopped hiding it and secretly destroyed it instead, he says, is utterly ludicrous. Hiding WMD was the unchanging pattern of his regime.

He has listened to the tapes that recently surfaced of Saddam’s discussions with his top brass about the problems being caused by the UN weapons inspectors. He says the translations that have so far been made of these tapes are inadequate because the translators, who are of course Arabic speakers, do not however speak Tikriti Arabic, the dialect in which these discussions were conducted. Sada does speak Tikriti. He has translated a crucial three and a half minutes of these tapes, he says, in which Saddam and his generals are discussing how to outwit the UN inspectors; in which they say that the problem of the chemical weapons is solved but the biological are still causing a problem; that this problem will probably be solved with the help of the Russians and the French; and in which Saddam says: ‘In the future the terrorism will be with WMD’.

In April 2004, a group of al Qaeda terrorists was caught in Jordan with 20 tons of Sarin gas. When Sada heard of this, he says, his blood ran cold. There was only one place which was capable of producing 20 tons of Sarin: Saddam’s Iraq. To his horror, he says, he realised at that moment that Saddam’s WMD had got into the hands of al Qaeda.

Earlier this year, Sada was interrogated about his claims by the American House Intelligence committee, to whom he gave the names of the Iraqi pilots. Subsequently, he says, the Committee went to Iraq and spoke to the pilots. The result, he says, is that a major American investigative and diplomatic effort is now under way to finally locate the missing WMD.

But in Britain, I say, people now firmly believe that there were no WMD and that we were taken to war on a lie. Sada looks utterly flabbergasted. ‘How can they possibly think that?’ he asks in bewilderment and anger, and puts his head in his hands.

Posted by melanie at April 12, 2006

Monday, March 12, 2007

Keep your sunny side up

On a lighter note~

"Dear Lord," the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. "Without you, we are but dust."

He would have continued but, at that moment, an inquisitive little girl leaned over to her mother and asked quite audibly in her shrill little girl voice, "Mom, what is butt dust?"
Good question, eh? Wrinkled butt thanks to my xanga friend, Idonotfearthem, who let me borrow the cutie patooty photo up top! Check out her work~ If only I lived closer to Oklahoma...that girl'd be clicking Gracie's pic. :o)

We played outside yesterday in the sun, breaking out the tricycle. Grace really has it mastered now...if only those pink cowboy boots wouldn't slip from the pedals. pink cowboy boots We rode around the neighborhood and then walked by the river, noticing the the deer prints in the dried mud. We visited the neighbor & all the kitties to learn one had babies just a couple of days ago. With the tulips coming up, Doris is preparing her soap posts to keep the deer from nibbling the tender leaves.tulips

I knew warm weather was on the way when I saw the groundhog groundhog (AKA Chucky) hunched up on top of the tree stump just inches from my deck where he makes his home. Of course, we've seen deer for quite sometime. In fact, early Sunday morning, one was right by the deck craning his neck over the deck rail, perhaps in search of food. I hope they don't like geraniums because that's right where they'll grow in a few weeks. geraniums

So thankful for sunshine and warmth to unthaw my frozen soul...feels like that. Winter's slumber, resembling death must give way to the new life burgeoning through the wet earth.

So it goes with the seasons in our lives; the ebb & flow of celebration; the surrender in autumn; death in winter- those difficult experience where we die to ourselves-our circumstances & wait for God to finish His work, trusting that what grows out of the dying will blossom far more beautiful than what we laid to rest. The promise of Spring~ new life- a fresh start.

Nicole Nordeman so captures this in her song Every Season~

Every Season
by Nicole Nordeman

Every evening sky, an invitation to trace the pattern stars.
And early in July, a celebration for freedom that is ours.
And I notice You in children's games, in those who watch them from the shade.
Every drop of sun is full for fun and wonder.
You are summer.

And even when the trees have just surrendered to the harvest time,
Forfeiting their leaves in last September and sending us inside
Still I notice You, when change begins and I am braced for colder winds.
I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come.
You are autumn.

And everything in time and under heaven finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation shivers underneath.
And still I notice You when branches crack and in my breath on frosted glass.
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter.
You are winter.

And every thing that new has bravely surfaced, teaching us to breathe
And what was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green.
So it is with You and how You make me new with every season's change.
And so it will be as You are recreating me,
Summer, autumn, winter, spring.

The past few days have brought not one but TWO visits to the zoo for little Miss Grace. She went with N&S to Lincoln Park Zoo on Saturday then Monday/today, she enjoyed Brookfield with the Kruder clan! She's had her hopes up for seeing a porcupine...not sure where she got that she would see one, but she's been disappointed both trips...just a bit though...she still can tell me plenty about other exciting things she saw. Whoo hoo for the zoo~ Thanks, folks, for loving on my Gracie baby~ What treasures you are!

Plenty of park play today...she's quite the adventurous spirit. Hmmmm...wonder where she gets that from?? :o) hee, heee~ Here are a few pics of the Gracie girl in action.

Sunny, sunny days to you & yours. I'll leave you with a cutie Gracie Quote from this weekend:

Watching a bit of TV, a commercial came on where this guy was grilling. Love to-love to grill. "We'll have to get the barbecue grill out soon, Grace." Her eyes widened like saucers as she turned toward me, clasping her two year old hands together in delight. "Oh, yes, Mom. We have to get a Barbie grill." heee, heeee~ I guess she knows about Barbie now. Thanks, Laurie :o) They actually make a Barbie Grill. What's up with that??

Have a good one~

Saturday, March 10, 2007

When two people connect, something is poured out of one and into the other that has the power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restore it to health.

In recent days, I have made a shift. I am now working toward the day when communities of God's people, ordinary Christians whose lives regularly intersect, will accomplish most of the good that we now depend on mental health professionals to provide. And they will do it by connecting with each other in ways that only the gospel makes possible.

Larry Crabb, Connecting (1997)

This was a poignant quote in the message I referenced in my last post. I couldn't make out my scribbles nor could I fill in all the blanks between the words I could read. Pastor Jerry was kind enough to send me the quote~ It speaks to the heart of the matter. Have a good one~

Monday, March 05, 2007

Making Connections

Great weekend~ Gracie had a playdate with my wonderful friends & their cutie patooty baby & I had a full day (well, I did squeeze 1 work related appointment in) to enjoy myself. Best bud Bob & I enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at Cooper's Hawk Brewery, followed by a movie in a theater~ Amazing Grace. What a great movie about William Wilburforce's quest to abolish the slave trave in Great Britain; one man's passion to change the world. As noted above, Amazing Grace. the movie, is the compelling story behind the song.

CLC services were awesome with a message- Connecting People: We're All About People~ I've tried to summarize typing nearly word for word plus a little of Pastor Jerry's outline. Check out the podcast if interested in the vocal version.
Even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other. Romans 12:5 GWT

Sin disconnects relationship. Dishonesty disconnects relationships: What this adds up to then is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Ephesians 4:25 MSG

That being said, we must speak the truth in love according to Proverbs 24:26: NCV An honest answer is as pleasing as a kiss on the lips. I like lip kisses...when my honesty is clothed with grace & love; it's like a kiss. Interesting spin, ja?

Resentment disconnects relationships. And don't sin by letting anger control you - don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. Ephesians 26-27 Hmmm...I've blogged about this scripture recently. Though I can't quote a specific source, I believe evidence exists indicating that harbored bitterness, anger & resentment, if unresolved, will begin to manifest via physical sickness. There's a reason the scripture says to deal with it immediately. Don't let it grow & fester, infecting you entirely..

Listen to this...Jesus esteemed relational unity ABOVE worship or service. Before you shout me down...look: So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God. Matthew 5:23-24 CEV.

To stay connected, we must resolve conflict quickly. Unresolved issues lead to bitterness which disconnects relationships. Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. James 4:1-2 MSG
To effectively & quickly resolved conflict, PJ encouraged the following strategies or must haves:
  • Be filled with the spirit...Ephesians 5:18

  • Develop healthy confrontational skills

  • Learn how to make an effective apology: if I've offended you in any way...not gonna cut it...take responsibility: I am sorry I _______.

Offer forgiveness to others - there will be times we are in the clear but still need to extend grace & mercy to another; forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us. Colossians 3:13 NLT ...make allowances for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Careless words disconnect relationships. Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29 NLT

We need to learn verbal discipline in order to maintain healthy connections with others. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgive you. Ephesians 4:30-32

And there was more....connecting demands extreme commitment & produces extreme results. Good stuff~ As iron sharpens iron, so does a friend sharpen another. Proverbs 27:17 We need one another, folks. That's sums it up.

I have some friends I'd really like to reconnect with & asking God to help me take the right course of action...searching my heart & asking God for direction. I know relationships change; people change. I am the world's worst at hanging on far too long & I struggle with letting go; undiscerning of when it's over. I guess the social lover in me wants to love & be loved by- not by everyone, but wants to retain those relationship of sustenance; those I hold dear. Anybody else struggle with changes in relationships & how do you handle it? How do you know when it's over when it comes to treasured friendships? One of my Xanga friends sharedthe noteful line of a Dutch song: "when are we two friends that haven't seen each other in a while, and when are we friends no longer?" Precisely my question.