Tag Archives: blog challenge

I’m drowning in unwritten blog posts


So, I’m so insanely behind in my blog challenge that it’s just unforgivable!  My life has been a bit crazy– summer time is always the busiest time of year for kids’ pastors.  And then there’s Christmastime.  And Easter.  Well, let’s just say it’s been crazy!  Last week I led a Musical Theatre Camp for kids–it was fun, and crazy, and our performance was a comedy of errors.

Just imagine one of our stars stopping in the middle of the performance and screaming “There’s a GIANT spider on the stage!” while her fellow actor scornfully says, “I hardly think this is the time to discuss spiders.”  And then there was the time all of the actors forgot what they were supposed to do and stared at me in confusion as I mouthed “Exit.”  Only they didn’t exit, they just stared at me.  And my mouthing became a whisper, became a stage whisper, became a full voice, became practically a yell as the entire audience laughed and the kids just stood and stared.  Or then there was the actor who missed her cue to bring out a tray of appetizers, so we went on with the scene.  Only, two scenes later she decides now is the time for appetizers.  And I shoo her offstage.  Then she tries again in her next scene.  And her next.  Until finally she yells at me (from onstage) “But they told me to.”  Ahh . . . such awesome memories.

Anyway, if I’m picking up where I left off in the blog challenge I’m supposed to write about the best thing that happened to me this year.  I’m not really sure I could point out one thing that has happened so far.  So instead, I’m going to cheat and go with the best thing I’m hoping to happen to me by the end of 2013.  I’m hoping to get my foster license, and maybe even my first kiddo.  And I’m on the road!  Last night was my first foster class.

It was an interesting experience.  Our room was jam-packed, and we looked like a diversity in foster parenting ad.  Mostly there were young to middle-aged white couples.  But there was also a black couple, a gay couple, a lesbian couple, a single parent black mom, an older newlywed man whose wife is already certified, and me–the single white girl with no kids.  I’ve heard from many others that only about half the class will make it to the end–the rest will drop out along the way.  I’m trying to guess who will bow out before the end comes–does that make me sadistic?

Anyway, one of the things that I didn’t expect was just how many of these couples are looking at fostering as the road to adopt children.  I think every couple in the room was seeing this as a way to “expand their family.”  And of the seven straight couples,  four of them were led to fostering because of infertility.  Some of them still carried a lot of deep pain when talking about not being able to have a child.  And although I can appreciate how much pain that would cause, I also wonder if they are ready for what fostering really means.  I wonder if some of these couples have chosen foster-to-adopt because it’s a lot less expensive than private and international adoptions.  Now, I firmly believe more people should be fostering and that it is a fantastic thing to do.  But I wonder if parents who are still grieving their own inability to have a child are prepared for the challenges of fostering–not least of which is operating in a world where Plan A is always to return the child to their birth family.

What do you think, internet world?  Has anyone been in this situation before?

Blog Challenge: Day 14


The challenge for Day 14 is to share what you collect and why.  I’m not much of a collector–at least not in the knick-knack kind of way.  But there are two things I do collect.

I am a passionate collector of books.  Now, I don’t mean I’m a high-brow, rare first edition type of collector.  Although that would be great, and I do have some pretty old books.  But I love reading, and so I am constantly buying books–hardbacks, paperbacks, e-versions–doesn’t matter.  I can never have too many books.

I also collect nativity sets from around the world.  I love how unique they are and how they are such a beautiful visual expression of a culture and a people’s understanding of God.  Unfortunately I didn’t start collecting them until after I had already traveled to about 13 countries.  That was really unfortunate timing.  So, although I don’t have a ton of nativities from other countries, I’m always looking to add to my collection.

What about you?  What do you collect?

Blog Challenge: Day 13


Today the challenge is to write about the meaning behind my blog’s name.  This is a fun one!  My blog is called Murphy’s Law Translated.  That’s because if you were to translate Murphy’s Law (Anything that can go wrong, will) into real life, it would look something like my life.

I have the most ridiculous things happen to me.  Seriously.

There was the time I flashed my church.  (Did I mention, I’m a pastor?)

And the time I was physically attacked in the middle of a worship service.

Or the time I got cooties.

And of course, the worst day ever.

My life could be a sitcom–for reals.

Blog Challenge: Day 12


Today’s challenge is to write about the moment you’re most proud of.  This is a tough one for me because I can’t honestly think of a “moment” I’m proud of.  I can think of decisions, choices, periods of my life . . . but a single moment?  I don’t feel like I’ve ever really had an epic moment.  Of all the things I’ve done that I’m proud of–none of them happened in a moment.  So, I guess I’m going to cheat on this one.  Instead I’m going to share what I am proud of.

I’m proud that I’ve chosen to pour my life into making a difference, sharing God’s love, and doing what I love– instead of choosing a job based on how much money I would make or what great benefits and perks I would get.  I’m proud of the fact that sometimes I’ve even raised money to live on so that I could work for free doing something I believe in.  I’m proud of helping bring positive changes to kids lives–whether that’s through child sponsorship or becoming a foster parent.

And now I feel a bit awkward, like I’ve just been bragging on myself.  So . . . let’s call that a wrap.



Blog Challenge: Day 11 (Many days late . . .)


So . . . . I’m a bit behind on my blog challenge.  13 days in fact.  “Holy crap, how did that happen?” you ask.  Don’t I have anything to say for myself?

Well . . . first there was Mess Fest.  Where I led kids in 3 hours of crazy, messy, wacky games.  And then I let them torture my by pouring 12 Bags of Doom on my head.  Bags which contained . . . 12 raw eggs, 11 packets of oatmeal, 10 cups of gold fish, 9 cups of popcorn, 8 cans vegetables, 7 cans of applesauce, 6 boxes of cornmeal, 5 bottles of chocolate syrup, 4 bottles of mayonnaise, 3 cans of whipped cream, 2 bottles of vegetable oil, and 1 bag of feathers.

This is what I looked like when I was finished . . .

Mess Fest



Needless to say, I was exhausted the next day.  Like, could barely keep my eyes open.  Then on Saturday I had to be at work early to lead a training, so it was an 8am-8pm kind of day.  Sunday I had four services to teach, run a few errands, head home to pack, drive to Buffalo, and then wake up at 3am on Monday morning.  3 A.M. All that so I could catch a flight to California.  I spent all last week in Anaheim for a conference, which was great, but pretty non-stop.  In between our 12 hour days I was working on writing a sermon.  I got back into town late Friday night and then preached four times this weekend. So Monday I slept a lot, went to dance class, and then got a ridiculous migraine.  So . . . crazy couple of weeks.

Anyway, the Day 11 blog challenge is your Top 5 Bucket List Items.  Yikes, I have no idea.  I don’t want to be held accountable for these as my Top 5, because I haven’t put a lot of thought into it.  But, these are five things I definitely want to do before I die (in no particular order):

1.  Learn to play the guitar.  I started once, but then I got the opportunity to move to the Middle East and so I stopped.  Can’t wait to start again, just need to get a guitar first.

2. Play the role of Jane Eyre, in the musical version.  I’m pretty sure I was born for that role.

3. Travel to places I haven’t yet been: Italy, India, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, England, Mexico, Canada, South America, and so many more.

4. Learn to sew.  I’ve just always wanted to be able to do this.  I’m convinced I could make the cutest crafts, and it would be super handy for Musical Theatre Camp!

5. Return to the Middle East.  I’ve been twice, and lived there for a year.  I love it there!

6.  (I know I’m not supposed to have 6.  Sue me.)  Become a foster momma.  ;o)

What are your bucket list items?

Check out my friends Karla and Liz as they are taking on the blog challenge too.  (And doing a much better job of keeping up!)


Blog Challenge: Day 10


Today is a much more fun challenge to write about–what I would do if I won the lottery. Wow, that is such a wonderful thing to dream of. Sigh. Probably will never happen. Especially since I don’t play the lottery. But let’s say I won a ton of money somehow –like more than I can imagine. Here’s what I would do.

First, I’d give to my church. I believe that our world can be changed through local churches, and I want to be a part of that. Plus, I believe it’s a way that I honor and obey God. So, I’d give there first.

Next, I’d get out of debt. Most of my debt can be summed up in two words: STUDENT LOANS. Seriously — I have about $60,000 of student loans left to pay off. And I’ve been paying for ten years. I do have a few other debts, but they pale in comparison. (My combined credit cards have a balance of less than $1,000.)

Third, I’d put some money into savings. I’m not very good at savings. And by not very good, I mean I suck. My retirement fund is almost non-existent. I would put some money aside in savings that I couldn’t touch for years. Lock it up man.

Fourth, I’d splurge a bit. All those things that I’ve been missing, but saying no too. A pedicure and a massage . . . ah, it’s been over a year since I’ve had either of those. A nice camera. A day of shopping. My dream dining table. Dining out. Going to NYC and seeing tons of Broadway shows.

Fifth, I’d splurge on the ones I love. My niece would know a whole new level of spoiled. My foster kiddos would be living large. My family would get some amazing tokens of my affection. My friends would enjoy some pretty sweet gifts, as payback for putting up with me and the bad habits I talked about here. I’d take a huge trip somewhere exciting and bring along as many of the aforementioned people as possible. We’d party in Fiji or Ireland or somewhere amazing.

Sixth, I’d buy a home. One big enough for me, my future foster kiddos, any family that wanted to live with me, and guest rooms for my friends and family. I would also have to set aside money for all the things I’d never be able to do (or want to do) in that home–like shovel snow, mow grass, fix broken pipes, replace leaky roofs, etc.

Seventh, I’d travel. I LOVE to travel. All over the world. And take as many people with me as I could.

Assuming I made enough money that I no longer had to work (and hey, if we’re dreaming, let’s dream big), I would still like to do my job, but do it for free, so that my church could use the money for other things. (Like creating the best kids ministry budget ever!)

Finally, I’d like to research charities and donate to ones that are near and dear to my heart–things like finding a cure for cancer, ending domestic violence, helping kids, building bridges of understanding between people in the Middle East and the Western World, and helping women and children in third world countries.

That’s my dream. What’s yours?

And check out what Karla would do if she won the lottery!


Blog Challenge: Day 9


Today’s challenge is to write about your least favorite childhood memory.  For me, this is easy.  Not because the memory is easy.  It is my most painful memory, and this is perhaps the most difficult thing I’ve ever written.  But it’s easy in the sense that I don’t have to figure out what to write about.

When my dad turned 40 we threw him an “Over the Hill” birthday party.  Everything was decorated in black and featured tombstones with the letters “R.I.P.”  I have a photo of him standing in front of a cake, me holding his hand, while pointing to the tombstone with a goofy smile on my face.  It was all a great joke.

Until a few months later when he woke up in the middle of the night with what he thought was a migraine.  A migraine so terrible he told my mother to either shoot him in the head or take him to the ER.  That night our lives changed.  We learned that he had brain cancer and had six months to live.  And bad memories started piling up on each other like stinking garbage in the dumps of Rio.

There were memories of him seizing on the floor in our kitchen, while I sat by his head, watching helplessly.  Memories of him trying to carry my baby sister down the stairs in our home–we were all so terrified he would drop her, but none of us wanted to tell him he couldn’t hold his baby girl when every time might be the last.  Memories of a hospital bed being rolled into our living room as a makeshift bedroom was erected next to the front door.  Memories of well-meaning hospice workers handing me ridiculous books about kids who had leukemia, which I read diligently and catalogued under terrors that my father would endure.  Memories of us four kids being split up and sent to different homes to live as six months stretched into eighteen months and my mom dashed between work and the hospital an hour away that had become his new home.  Memories of visiting him in that cold hospital room when he looked like a different man.  When he could no longer speak.  When he didn’t even know who I was anymore.

But the worst memory, the memory that still haunts me, is that day my pastor sat beside me on the porch swing at his house.  I was staying with him and his family, and he was getting ready to leave for the hour long drive to Peoria where my father was.  He was going to visit dad and wanted to know if I’d like to come along.  I was playing with his daughter and I was having fun–escaping, for a few hours, the pain of being daddy’s little girl when daddy no longer remembered who you were.

“There’s no pressure,” he said, “you can stay here and play.”  And I so I choose to stay, and for a few hours I forgot about the pain.  I filled my eleven year old head with dolls and toys and other nonsense.

That day my father died.

That day when I choose not to go, when I choose to have fun . . .  That day was my last chance to see him, to hold him, to tell him that I loved him and I would always be his little girl.  That day I made such a cheap, meaningless choice.  And it is one I can’t seem to forgive myself for.


You can read about my friend Karla’s memory here.


Blog Challenge: Day 8


I know, I know.  I missed a day again.  There’s a discipline to writing every day that I’m still trying to learn.  I’m hoping that when I finally do it will become a life-long habit.

Anyway, I did spend time yesterday thinking about the blog challenge and what I would write about.  I just couldn’t come up with an answer.  The challenge is to write about your favorite childhood memory.  There are a lot of great memories, but I think I’ve decided that my favorite is summertime vacations in Michigan.  When I was young we would travel to Michigan each summer to spend time with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins.  This was usually the only time of the year I would get to see that side of my family.  And we went on crazy adventures that I never would have done back home.

Most of the time my brother Jason and I would go stay with our aunt and her family at the Yogi Bear Campground.  My aunt and uncle had a pop up tent they slept in, while they lined their four kids and my brother and I up like sausages wrapped in sleeping bags inside a long tent.  Three of my four cousins were older than me, and I thought they were the coolest thing since sliced bread.  Whatever they did, I wanted to be doing it.  Even if I was confident it was wrong and would land me in big trouble . . . or hell, both of which seemed like very real possibilities to my incredibly naive mind.  So whether it was cussing, sneaking out to meet up with strangers in the middle of the night, or trying to learn the lyrics to rap music about life in the ‘hood, I wanted to be a part.  More than anything I wanted them to think I was cool.  I am confident they never did.  The incredibly naive little girl is never cool.

Back at my grandparents home my little brother Justin and sister Amber would stay with my parents.  The days we had to stay there were incredibly tiresome, both literally (my grandparents could snore loud enough to wake the dead) and figuratively (imagine a merry-go-round of arguments about the right way to raise kids, believe in God, eat as a diabetic, and administer insulin).  But those days were also filled with their own blend of magic and charm.  My grandmother believed in making everything from scratch and we had the most amazing breads, jams, and canned vegetables ever.  They also lived next to a cherry orchard where we would roam in search of stray fruit, and a huge sand dune perfect for sand sledding.

I have wonderful memories of my aunt and uncle swinging me (one holding tight to my wrists, the other my ankles) as they tossed me into Lake Michigan.  There was so much love in that –the kind of love that made me feel both embraced and free to do the things I was still afraid of.  I remember ferry rides and the trip up to Mackinak Island where we had to leave our cars behind and walk on foot. I remember crazy trips to restaurants where all of us kids managed to ring up a tab of $150 in sodas.   I remember wandering through the garden patch my grandfather cultivated and whipping over the sand in dune buggies.  I remember how the driver told us that in 50 years all the sand dunes would have stolen up the lake they sat near, and it would be nothing more than a memory.  I remember being held in my father’s arms and how no other place ever seemed to be a part of him like that place.  Most of all I remember him.  And how somehow the sand dunes managed to steal him too.

There are so many memories wrapped up in those summer vacations.  Memories that I will treasure forever.  And my only sadness is that my younger two siblings probably don’t remember much of that magical time we had before a part of our family was lost.  But I pray that if I keep telling the stories, my memories can become a gift to them–a gift that will keep our loved ones alive even after the sand dunes have swallowed them whole.

Check out Karla’s favorite childhood memory here.

Blog Challenge: Day 7


And now for today’s real challenge . . . where have I lived and what was the best and worst part of each place.  I’ve lived a lot of different places.  You might remember from Day 2 that I’ve moved a lot.  Not all of my moves were to new towns, but several were–and there was something beautiful about all of them.  So, here are my hometowns . . .

1. Bourbonais, IL — Bourbonais is a “suburb” of Chicago–it’s about an hour south of the city.  I was born there and spent the first three years of my life there.  Honestly, I don’t remember any of it, but I’ve been back several times and my favorite part of Bourbonais is that it’s close to the city.  My least favorite part is that it’s not that exciting of a town.

2. Somewhere outside of Springfield, IL — Seriously, I have no idea where it was, other than it was a house next to a pig farm in central Illinois.  I lived there from the age of three to five.  My only memory of it was that sometimes we would come home from church and the pigs next door would have broken down the fence and invaded our yard.  And then we would chase the pigs around in our church clothes trying to coral them back into their pin.  As I look back, this sounds both disgusting and hilarious.

3. Monmouth, IL — This is where I spent most of my childhood.  I lived here for a year after living in Springfield, moved away for a year, and then moved back and stayed until I was 17.  Monmouth is a tiny town of about 9,000 in northwest Illinois.  It is a very quant lil’ place–old store fronts, beautiful old houses, and home to all the best and worst parts of my childhood.  I think the best part of that little town for me will always be family.  But second best is easily the amazing group of teachers I had growing up.  I had so many teachers, especially in high school, who profoundly impacted my life.  I think the entire English department of MHS is responsible for me turning out a book-loving nerd instead of a homeless delinquent.  The worst part of Monmouth?  Definitely it’s size and lack of absolutely ANYTHING fun to do (hence the strange tradition of cruising the 1/2 mile strip as the only form of entertainment).

4.  Cameron, IL — The one year we moved away from Monmouth our family lived in Cameron–a village about 10 miles outside of Monmouth with even less people.  A lot less.  Think 600.  Can you even call that a village.  Worst part? 600 people.  Best part?  The stunningly beautiful weeping willow tree in our yard.

5. Nashville, TN — Nashville is where I did my undergrad, and it is an incredibly cool town to live in.  The best part was clearly the amazing experiences I had there with people who have become life-long friends.  I loved my school–Trevecca.  But I also loved late night runs to Krispy Kreme, Pink Poodles at Fido’s Coffee House, SATCO, the tiny Caribbean restaurant with amazing beans and rice, incredible days at Centennial Park, the Old Spaghetti Factory, Shakespeare in the Park, music playing on every street, concerts in tiny venues, and so much more!  I honestly don’t think there was anything about that place that I didn’t love.

6. Raleigh, NC — One summer of college I lived in Raleigh.  It’s a really beautiful area, and I had a job that I never expected, but found really fun.  The best  part of my summer was that I spent it with an amazing friend.  Worst part was probably the traffic around the Triangle.

7. Kansas City, MO — I went to grad school in Kansas City.  It was a tough time to try to acclimate–I was going to school full time, working full time, and volunteering about 20 hours a week at my church.  The city was a place of wide disparity.  You could be in a neighborhood of million-dollar mansions and then drive 10 minutes and find yourself in a slum.  It was crazy.  There were some nice things about KC– the Crayola Museum and the Ice Skating Rink.  Best of all was my church.  Worst part– probably the disparity in economic status, the racism that occasionally roared it’s ugly head, and the state of child services.

8. Washington DC area — I didn’t actually live in the city, but close– I lived in Springfield and Burke and worked in Annandale.  This is a great area to live–there’s so much to do, the public transportation is amazing, there’s tons of museums and activities that are totally free, people tend to be more open-minded, and it’s just a cool place to be.  I have life-long friends from my time in DC.  The downside is definitely the cost of living.

9. Orlando, FL — I lived in Florida for three years, then moved away and came back for another year and a half.  It is an amazing place to live — Disney, Universal, cool theaters, beaches nearby, great weather . . . well, you get the idea.  The best part though was the people–I made some amazing friends there!  The worst thing was probably all the lizards.  And tree frogs.  And bugs.  And alligators.

10.  The Middle East — I lived for a year in the Middle East (in a couple of different countries).  Despite what you may have heard through the media, the Middle East is really an incredibly great place to live.  The people are so hospitable, the food is amazing and fresh, there are beautiful landscapes and treasures, and you’re forced to live a more relaxed life –which is incredibly beneficial for work-a-holics like me.  I made amazing friends, whom I’ll cherish forever.  And I actually talked more to my friends and family  back in the U.S. than before I left the country.  The worst part?  No bacon.  Just kidding.  Maybe it was the cost of computers.  (I had to replace my laptop while I was there and paid almost $3000 for a Dell.  Yikes.)  Seriously though, it was an amazing place to live, I loved it and hope I can return one day.

11. Fredericksburg, VA — Fredericksburg is a town about halfway between DC and Richmond.  It’s not that big, but has an inordinate amount of shopping and restaurants.  In addition to incredible friends, I also loved the downtown area of “the Burg” –it’s filled with really old buildings that have tons of charm.  The worst part was probably the stinkin’ cannons they would fire at those ridiculous Civil War reenactments.  (Seriously, in what other part of the world do people habitually celebrate a misguided war that they lost?)  Those cannons were often fired early on Saturday mornings about 1000 feet from my bedroom window.  Ugh!

12. Syracuse, NY — That brings us to the present.  I now live in Syracuse–the snowiest city in the country.  Which, let me say up front, is by far the worst part of Syracuse.  It is winter here for about 9 months out of the year.  At least, that’s how it feels. I hate it.  I miss my Florida sun.  But there are so many amazing things here.  Number one is the people–I love the people here, my friends, my coworkers, even my boss.  I also love the cool festivals that are always going on here.  Seriously.  There is a festival here almost every week.  A festival for every nationality, time period, food, or other craziness that you can imagine.  I also am excited about all the adventures that I haven’t yet tried.  Even with all the crazy snow and winter weather, I love it here.  It’s a great place to live.

And that’s it in a nutshell–all my hometowns.  What about you?  What’s the best place to live, in your opinion?

Here’s Karla’s itinerary.  We have both lived all over–and even shared a couple of hometowns.

Blog Challenge: Day 6


So . . . technically today is Day 7.  Which means I’m a day behind.  So before I share about my past locales I’m going to catch up on Day 6 . . . which is hard for me.  Day 6’s challenge is to write about your best physical feature.  I think this may be challenging for many women–we are so often trained to focus on all of our flaws, all the things we want to change or improve.  Trying to think about something we love about our appearance–it’s like trying to figure out the best part of getting a root canal, in our minds there is no best part.

But, there is a challenge and I will rise to the occasion.  I’m going to say my best feature is my eyes.  They’re blue and I have pretty long lashes–which is very convenient considering the idea of using an eyelash curler is just ridiculous to me.

So that’s me.  What about you?  What is your favorite feature?  And do you also find it hard to find something positive to say about your appearance?

Read about Karla’s best asset here.  By the way–she’s completely right, I’m so jealous of her best physical feature.