Monday, September 27, 2010


Most people who know James are already very aware that he LOVES fighting.  He's been fighting for eleven years, and even now he often will spend an hour at the fight gym in south St. Louis several nights a week.  Boxing, wrestling, grappling, kicking, choking, punching...he is good at it all.

What a lot of people don't know is that I also love fighting.  I don't really love doing the fighting, but I do love watching it.  We used to watch the Japanese fight contests called Pride, but eventually the Japanese mafia (who ran Pride) got shut down by the government, and their assets got seized, so the fight club ended.  It's been replaced by a different one called Dream, but it's not very good.  The one that we really like now is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, commonly known as the UFC.  We watched this eleven years ago, long before it was very popular, but now it has gotten to be fairly mainstream.

Usually when there's going to be a good UFC card on television, our friends Brendan and Steve come over.  I make dinner for everybody, and then we all watch the show.  It works well for us because we can put the baby to bed, and also they contribute some money so that we don't have to pay for everything ourselves.  Frankly, one of my favorite things about the arrangement is listening to Brendan's running commentary on the event.  He spends a ridiculous amount of time reading up on the people ahead of time, so he has HILARIOUS things to add during the event.

Fighting, food, and friends.  It doesn't get much better than that!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Before we had our little Ella Belle, James and I adopted another different child.  Our little boy goes by the name Yukondet.  He will turn six years old this coming January, and he lives in Thailand.  He's adorable, and we adopted him when he was three.  I wish I could put up his picture, but it's protected so that it can't be reproduced.

We adopted him through Compassion International, which helps people to sponsor children all over the world.  Yukondet is a sweet little fellow, and his parents are poor farmers in their area of Thailand.  He was pets, including a pig that he really loves.  We have put him through pre-school, and now he is in kindergarten.  He loves the game hide-and-seek, playing with toy cars, and doing art projects.  He also goes to Sunday school, where he hears about Jesus.  (His weekday school is also a Christian school.)

I have to tell you that I love this little guy.  I've never seen him, and it's possible that I never will, but his picture captured my heart the first time I saw it.  We are so excited to be his adopted family.  We get letters from him regularly, and although he gets help with writing them due to his age, it's fun to see how much of his little personality shines through.  He always asks us about our dog Max, since he's very fond of animals.  Just recently we sent him pictures of the new baby, so he'll probably ask about her soon, too.

I have a vision that when Ella is old enough to help with chores around the house, I might give her a bit of an allowance for the purpose of sponsoring a child in another country.  I would love for her to choose a little girl of her own age to be her sister and pen pal, and I think that it's important for children to understand that the world is bigger than their own little portion of it.  Also, I think it's important for them to know that most of the world's children aren't so privileged as to always know where their next meal will come from.  When I was 12, I went to Haiti on a mission trip, and I had my eyes opened to the realities of what is often called the "third world."  I'll write about that sometime soon.  The point is that I don't want my children to grow up believing that their experience is universal.  I want them to know the joy of sacrificing for someone in need, showing them the love of Christ and giving of themselves to enrich the life of another.

Meanwhile, Yukondet is learning how to read....I'm such a proud adopted "mama" of this little boy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

This is why...

...I never get to sit on my own couch.

'nuff said.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Flying Baby

Since we don't live near our families, we travel often to visit them in other areas of the country.  This means that Ella has been on a lot of airplanes...ten of them in her six months of life.  She's pretty much a pro, and she loves to fly.  Sitting on an airplane with 100 new friends is her idea of a great time.  She loves to watch people and talk to them, whether they're paying attention to her or not.

Recently, I took her to visit my family in Georgia, and she rode with me on AirTran.  Since the plane wasn't full, the gate agent was really nice and blocked off a seat for her next to me.  That meant that I was able to take her car seat on the plane and strap it into the seat.  She fell asleep right before we boarded, and I hoped that she might stay that peaceful...

By the way, she is wearing her tutu in these pictures.  She loves that tutu, and she felt so pretty on the trip!

As I said, I had hoped she'd sleep...but let's get real.  She woke up almost immediately, and I had to change her diaper three times before takeoff.

She started playing slowly, reading her taggie book and chewing on Olivia the ostrich.

But then after a couple of minutes, she decided to get out and sit in my lap so that she could pull everything out of the seat pocket in front of me.

She particularly enjoyed the AirTran advertisement.  It tasted yummy.

Meanwhile, the toys that I'd brought remained in the car seat.

We had a good flight, although there was definitely a 10 minute interval where she blew raspberries and spit on to the poor Wash U Law student who sat next to me.  I couldn't get her to stop, so I had to turn her to face the window.  She didn't cry, though, since she was having a great time!

Friday, September 17, 2010


I love silver.  And I love candlesticks.  And I love family heirlooms.

I REALLY love silver candlesticks that are family heirlooms.

This summer, my Nana died, and over the past few months, my mom has been going through 50+ years of things that are left in her house.  It's a big job, to put it mildly.  She saved a couple of things for each of her children, and she gave me the silver candlesticks.  They were pretty tarnished, since my Nana was much too busy to shine them up, but I love to polish silver, so that's no problem.

Look at the gorgeous detail in these babies:

I got out my silver cream and polished up those candlesticks, so that I can put them in the dining room and enjoy them.

Here's what they looked like before....

And here's the difference between the shiny one and the tarnished one!
They aren't perfect of course.  In fact, they've got some significant dents in them.  But I love that, because it means that they've been loved and used, rather than packed away in a drawer somewhere and never enjoyed.  That's something that I learned from my adventuresome Nana's full life...don't wait for a special day to live your life.  Do it now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grocery Adventures

Not long ago, a girl who works with me at the seminary discovered that she's having twins.  She already has a little girl, so she's wanting to sell a bunch of her baby stuff and get some "twin" stuff.  One thing she unloaded that I picked up was a grocery cart cover.  This week, at the store, Ella decided to try it out.

The color is a little over-the-top, but she LOVES it!  Right now, she's able to sit up really well, but she's not steady enough to stay sitting on her own. After awhile, she reaches for something far away, and down she goes.  This cart cover is great because she gets strapped in, and it keeps her supported as she sits in the grocery cart.  It's also machine washable, sanitary, padded, and super comfortable.

She also likes to hold my wallet and keys for me, and I let her keep them in the cart with her. Unfortunately, they're now getting teeth marks.

With our small house, we don't have much room for baby gear, but I think that this one is a keeper.  It folds down into a small, self-contained bag, and I just throw it into the trunk for the next trip to the store.  Of course, I only paid $4 for it, instead of $30!!

What baby gear do you love best?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Seminary Response to the Koran Burning

You might have seen recently on the news that Terry Jones, a minister in Gainesville, Florida, announced that his church would sponsor a Koran burning on this coming Saturday, September 11.  Then followed days of international protest from the Christian and non-Christian world.  About half an hour ago, the BBC reported that he had announced his plan to cancel the event.  I'm not 100% sure that he's really canceled it, but I hope so.  What unnecessarily provocative and ugly thing to do.

A huge number of people asked the Covenant Seminary faculty what they thought about the matter, and they responded with an open letter, written by World Mission Professor Nelson Jennings, stating their position on the event.  I thought you might like to see it:

Dear Dr. Terry Jones and Members of the Dove World Outreach Center (Gainesville, Florida),

As I previously indicated to you both by email and over the phone, I recently became aware of your “International Burn a Koran day,” scheduled for September 11. You have publically announced the event, and urged others to participate, through your church’s website ( and through a specially created Facebook page ( ). As the Facebook page puts it, “On September 11th, 2010, from 6pm - 9pm, we will burn the Koran on the property of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!” The scheduled event is receiving widespread attention (cf.;, and various people are expressing their opinions and intended responses.

Relations today between people who are Muslims and people who are Christians are of extraordinary importance – including in an unprecedented way those of us in the United States of America. People’s beliefs about God and salvation are at stake, as are the well-being of local communities, societies, and international relations between countries. It is within this extraordinary situation that you, together as a Christian pastor and as an expressly Christian community, have taken the initiative to conduct, publicize, and invite participation in what can only be called – too mildly or too extremely, depending on one’s perspective – such a provocative event as this “International Burn a Koran day.”

In response to this event that has been scheduled by other Christians in the United States, that has been publicized within today’s extraordinary situation of Muslim-Christian relations, and to which I and others have been invited to participate, I believe that it is incumbent on me as one Christian leader serving a portion of the wider Christian community to issue a public response. (Please note, however, that this response is my own; I am not serving as a spokesperson for any church or organization.) My response consists of the following points:

1. I agree with you that human beings’ salvation from sin and hell, as well as to eternal life with the living and triune God, is through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

2. I commend you for your concern for and solidarity with fellow Christians worldwide.

3. I respect the time-honored freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

4. I encourage only peaceable responses toward you – i.e., against Dr. Terry Jones, members of the Dove World Outreach Center, or others who are in agreement with your religious beliefs about Islam – insofar as you do not cause immediate threat to others of bodily harm or damage to personal property.
Response to Proposed “International Burn a Koran Day”

5. I realize that there are complexities beyond the scope of this short response in the enormous and worldwide matter of Muslim-Christian relations, particularly those associated with the interrelationship between religious and societal/governmental concerns.

6. I realize as well that there are deep emotions – associated with both religious and social/national identity – over the events of September 11, 2001 in particular and Muslim-Christian relations in general.

At the same time,

7. I espouse the following beliefs that contradict reasons for the scheduled Qur’an burning:

a. Christians, whether individually or organized, should eschew violent and inflammatory actions taken as Christians against anyone – particularly violent and inflammatory actions taken in the name of, and with the alleged support of, expressly religious teachings.

o Using proper force, including violent force, is a God-given prerogative of certain societal and governmental authorities (including Christians serving in those roles), not of Christians (or members of any other religious tradition) as individual or organized Christians (or as members of any other religious tradition).

o Violent and inflammatory actions taken for expressly religious purposes usually (often unwittingly) support other, non-religious interests, for example political, ethnic, and economic interests.

b. Christians, while devoted to the overall well-being of the local communities, countries, and world of which we are members, must be able to differentiate between (although not totally separate) our devotion to the wider, international Christian community and our devotion to our local communities, countries, and world. Similarly, Christians must be able to differentiate between (although not totally separate) the actual interests of the wider, international Christian community and those of our various local communities, our countries, and of the entire world. I believe that, in particular, you fail properly to differentiate between devotion to, as well as the actual interests of, the wider Christian community and the United States of America, for example in the statement on “The Church Must Take Action” [].

c. Christians must not simplistically categorize Islam, whether uniquely or together with other religious traditions, as “of the devil.” Instead, Christians should see non-biblical religious traditions as a combination of human aspiration for the Creator God, sinful rebellion against that same Creator God, and satanic deception. Not only is it therefore overly simplistic and reductionist to categorize Islam or any other religious tradition by reference to less than all three of these aspects. Doing so is also insulting, derogatory, and unnecessarily inflammatory toward fellow human beings, fellow bearers of God’s image, and fellow citizens of local communities, countries, and the world.

Response to Proposed “International Burn a Koran Day”

As I consider all of the statements above, I are firmly persuaded:

1. To urge you to cancel, as well as apologize (with an explanation so that, as much as possible, you are not unfairly misunderstood) for the scheduling and publication of, the planned public Qur’an burning;

2. Not to participate in the event (if it takes place), as well as to urge others not to participate in any such event.

3. To encourage you and other Christians to seek constructive relations with people who are Muslims on individual, local community, national, and global levels. Such constructive relations, I believe, are evangelistic, peaceful, and cooperative.

Much has been written elsewhere concerning these various points, and there is much more to discuss. I welcome constructive interaction with you and others who are interested.


J. Nelson Jennings
St. Louis, MO

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Hunting Man

James enjoys a lot of hobbies. He likes to box, wrestle, fish, eat, garden, shoot guns, and many other things. Well recently, he started a new hobby - bow hunting. He has a Bear Montana longbow, and this weekend, he took it out for a spin. Bow hunting season starts at the beginning of September in Missouri, and he went out to Pacific Palisades in search of rabbits and squirrels.

Camo boots and snake gaiters...supposedly those are snakebite-proof.

Packing up the bags to head out into the wilderness...

The "leafy bug" camo jacket.

that's right, folks - he's for real

Max checking it all out...

His arrows with the broadhead tips attached.

Those arrowheads are mean lookin' aren't they? They're SHARP, too.

That's my man!

He didn't get anything on that first afternoon of hunting, since it was pretty windy outside. Apparently, that blows your scent to all of the animals, and they run away from you. Well, maybe next time!!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What I've Been Up To Lately...

Lately, I've been picking some of the roses in the yard....

and turning this....

into this....

...and weeding this...

...and loving on this...

...and laughing at this!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Newest Little Junkyard Dawg

Last fall, when I was 18 weeks along with my pregnancy, I was scheduled to have a sonogram to check on the growth of the baby.  These 18-22 week sonograms are pretty routine, and most people get really excited about them because that's when you can usually find out whether you're having a boy or a girl.  I was SO excited about mine that I couldn't sleep the night before.  (Of course, that might have had something to do with the 7 trips to the bathroom during the night, too...) 


Obviously, we got the fabulous news that we were having a girl, and we were thrilled.  Finally, I could start buying little clothes and dreaming about how my little bundle of joy would look!  When I got home from the doctor's office, I sat down at the computer, and I typed the following words into the google search engine:

"UGA football dress baby girl"

Here's what came up...

 Well, maybe not that exact picture, but it was that exact dress...

Yes, my friends.  The very first article of clothing that I bought for my very first child was a red UGA football dress with a big G emblazoned on the chest.  You'd better believe it.

I'm raisin' this kid right, even if we are temporarily exiled from the promised land.

I'm also starting to teach her the kick-off cheer... 

Goooooooo DAWGS!!!    Sic 'Em!!!  Woof, Woof, Woof!!! 

She loves it.  Here she is, giving it a try for the first time...

Not bad for her first time!!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dream Come True

We all want things.  Whether it be something as big as a family, a job, or a healthy report from our doctor, or something as small as a few minutes of peace and quiet during the day, we all have things that we want.  I know that I do.  I want my baby to stay healthy.  I want my husband to get a good residency, and then I want us to pay off our HUGE grad school loans.  I want to be able to see my family more often.  I want my dog to stop trying to chew up our rugs in the living room.  (They must taste better than the ones in the dining room...strangely, he never seems to want to chew those...) 

Well, we don't get all of the things that we want, but sometimes God decides to reach down and give one of them to us. 

I have always wanted an SUV, ever since I took the driver's test for the first time at the age of 15.  My dad, who was more concerned about safety than coolness, got me a green Ford Taurus to drive.  Honestly, I was excited about that car.  It was my very first one, and I knew that I was lucky to have it...lots of my friends didn't have cars.  In the interest of full disclosure, it wasn't actually MY car - it was my parents' car - but they let me drive it!

When I went off to college, first-year students weren't allowed to have cars at my school, so the Taurus passed to my little brother.  Then, during my second year of college, dad got me another car, this time, it was a 1997 Toyota Camry.  She was a GREAT car, and I loved her.  Her name was Grace, by the way.  When we brought her home for the first time, my dad told me, "This car will last you  long time.  Some day, you'll drive your children around in this car."  Well, let it be said here and now that he was right.  Almost ten years later, back in March 2010, Grace was the car that we used to drive Ella home from the hospital.

As we pulled up to our house, I remembered my dad's words to me, all those years ago.  I thought of all the places this car has taken me...I drove it to college in Virginia, to my first job back in Georgia, to law school in Missouri, and to vacations in Florida.  We've been a lot of places together, and James loves her as much as I do.  Somehow, it wouldn't have seemed right to take our first baby home in any other car.  This was the car that we depended on to get us where we needed to go for most of our life together, and she came through for us when we needed her.  Now she deserved the honor of taking home our new addition for the first time.

About six weeks after Ella came home from the hospital, James's mom Ruth came to visit her new grandbaby.  We picked her up at the airport, and I remember seeing her eyes get big as she rode down the interstate in the backseat of Grace.  All those huge trucks barreling by us, crazy drivers with little or no fear of cutting us off in traffic.  Don't get me wrong, Grace is a GREAT car, and she handles really well.  But she's a mid-sized sedan - no match for big trucks and vans that might hit us on the interstate.  Well...a week later James got a phone call to the effect that Ruth had decided to give us her SUV and buy herself a new one.


Yup, that's right.  Just when we really needed a bigger car (those carseats are BIG), God and my in-laws provided one for us.  And she's GORGEOUS.  She's a light blue 2003 Honda Pilot, just the class of SUV that I always wanted to have.  Good gas mileage, great handling....I love it.  I couldn't even express how thankful we feel for this car.  It's so much fun to drive!! 

And don't worry about Grace...we've still got her.  James drives her to work every day, so she's spending her later years parked in the hospital's covered parking deck during the daytime.  Hopefully that will help her to make it through another winter.  And who knows?  If we get transferred farther south through the medical match this spring, maybe Grace will get to retire to Florida next year!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Chew on This

On Tuesday, August 24, something important happened in our family - Ella got her first tooth!!!  At first, I thought that she was just not feeling well, since she'd had her vaccinations the day before.  But then, she flashed me a little smile, and I saw this...

By Friday, she had another you see them?

I've been trying really hard to take a good picture of them, but I can't get the camera to shoot it fast enough.  She loves to stick out her tongue and feel them, too, so it's hard to see into her mouth.  I tried to fool her by squeezing her cheeks, and she did this...

Of course, then she stuck my finger into her mouth TOO far, and she did this...

But then I took these...can you see those two little teeth coming in?  My parents call them "rat teeth."  That's kind of gross, but they are cute little teeth!


 I can't believe how she's growing!!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Melon Head

Our vegetable garden this summer was weird.  Really weird.  Some things did well, but most things did very poorly.  For instance, our bush beans turned out to be climbing beans (Burpee labeled them wrong, I guess) and they didn't produce anything.  I will rip them out shortly.  Also, the tomatoes, which are usually the star of the show, pretty much did NOTHING.  Out of 7 plants, I got a grand total of one tomato.  The rest of them stayed green, and the squirrels ate them.


We found great consolation, however in our garden experiment, which was a success.  James decided to grow a watermelon plant in his plot, and last week we picked our very first melon!!!

Take a look:

She was a beauty, and she was HUGE!

 When we cut her open, she had lovely pink/red flesh inside that was so juicy.

 James was so proud!

We both ate some, and it was GOOD.  (I don't even like watermelon, but I liked this one.)

 No, we didn't eat the whole thing...we shared with friends.  But we ate our share, and it was yummy!  

There are more of them out on the vine right now, and I think we'll probably plant this one again next summer.