The Seminar

An Inspectors' Club my dad is part of is hosting a seminar regarding recent changes to the National Electric Code. Somehow, the collective Hearn Family has been requisitioned to do a lot of the planning and hosting. Actually, take that back-- all of the planning and hosting. Mom has been steadily working for the last number of days to get parking passes organized, doorprizes arranged, signs made, flyers ready, and handouts printed. And today we're going Shopping. I capitalize the word "shopping" because it isn't just a normal shopping trip; it's much more far-reaching. We'll first go to Costco, where we'll probably decimate their supply of breakfast foods (we'll be providing breakfast for the seminar attendees), then we'll go hopping around to every open grocery store within 50 miles to buy out their entire stock of cantelope and honeydew melon. Our next priority will be to figure out how to actually operate the huge commercial coffee brewer we have acquired for the occasion. Since none of us are particularly enchanted with coffee we're trying to come up with creative ways to test the final product for strength. (We'll keep our fingers crossed on that one.)
Tomorrow the seminar will start; we'll be there at 6:30 to help set up. Thursday morning and Saturday morning we'll also be there at 6:30 to do the same process over again.
We'd appreciate your prayers.
Pray for--
People to come. Lots of people. Pray for it to be such an overwhelmingly smashing success that we get nationwide media coverage from CNN.
Pray for people to appreciate the content. Pray that they'll all be so impressed that they'll be staring with wide eyes at the instructor and surruptitiously pulling out their camera phones to take snippets of footage to upload to YouTube.
Pray that the organization will all go well. Pray that we'll have enough parking attendants (i.e. more than one), that we'll get everyone registered without any rioting or mayhem, that we'll have books for everyone and everyone for a book.
Pray that the food will be edible. (That point is rather self-explanatory.)
Thanks, all. It should be a grand adventure.


Saturday was The Hesperia Days' Parade.

Now, lest you envision something of Rose Parade quality, let me clarify: this parade is an annual offering by and for the community that includes a great deal of unlikely entrants. For instance, trash trucks. Yes, trash trucks. An entire fleet of them. They have loud patriotic music blaring, American flags on the mechanical truck arms, and scads of workers riding all over the trucks. It may sound a little fantastical but it's great fun and we all love it.

For the last half-dozen years our family has been helping with the parade at the Registration table; our grandparents are in the Kiwanis Club, which sponsors the whole hoopla, and we are their grandkids (!!!) so we are somehow allowed to wear "Parade Official" badges and pretend that we're very authoritative. I love it. It's always such an adventure; one year we had a saloon enter the parade and they arrived at nine am., tipsy. (Acts 2:15, anyone?) We tried to get them into the correct parade lineup which turned out to be quite a fiasco because their judgment had apparently been sufficiently impaired to make them uncooperative. We ended up rearranging other people around them instead of making them move because it clearly wasn't going to work. (The driver was one of the ones who had downed a few too many, but for some strange reason no one thought of reassigning him to some other iconic community institution, like, the county jail.) The sole purpose of the float was to give six or seven inebriated adults the opportunity to wow the community with their singing. To quote an infamous Jay-line, "What I'm trying to say is this: it was the worst karaoke I have ever heard in my entire life."

Anyway, this year Jay was at Leadership academy so he was obviously missed. We (mom, Emily, and I) arrived at six-thirty in the morning, and when we hopped out of the car it became very apparent that it was cold, windy, and, wet. Yes, wet! In all of the years I've been helping with parade registration we've had some pretty inclement weather but we've never had rain. (In fact, when the weather called for rain the day before, Dad said that if rain did indeed come he was sure the parade would be canceled.)

We must have looked rather imposing, three girls standing there in leather jackets with this, "Parade Check-In" sign out in the road next to us. The Public Works guys came by at precisely 6:30 to shut down the road. This was quite an interesting event as cars seemed to be completely oblivious to the orange cones and the public works representative(s) seemed to be very unused to shutting down roads. (It wouldn't be easy to explain what exactly they were doing, but it did not, at least for awhile, resemble closing down a road.) Pretty soon my grandpa showed up with unbelievably hot Hot Chocolate and muffins and we sat to await our first "customers". This year our family and our grandparents (my mom's parents and my dad's mom) were doing the registration for the parade single-handedly, so I was pretty excited about that opportunity.

Everything went along swimmingly until I saw this.....flatbed truck (think: truck you'd see on a farm in Oklahoma. Run by giants. It was HUGE.) with about 30 kids on it screaming something like, We are the Tigers, the mighty, mighty Tigers.... They actually didn't sound very mighty at all but the part I was worried about was the fact that I really didn't recognize the name of whatever entrant they obviously were. I went up to the window on the truck and a very jolly, very round man said, "Hi! We're with the White Tigers Tae Kwan Do."  Whoa. I nodded kindly, furiously consulted my paper, and returned with, "'re registered for the parade?"
Not a question that an Official Parade Official should have to ask.
About the time of my third or fourth list consultation, I looked up to see......The White Tiger. Actually, I just made up that name for him but it really fits. He was apparently the head honcho behind The White Tiger Tae Kwan Do Group In General, and this guy was huge, extremely fit, mouth tightened in a perfectly straight line, and hair almost completely grey although he couldn't have been more than thirty years old. He walked with an attitude, he was huge, and his feet never completely touched the ground. He was imposing, to put it nicely. "So, what seems to be the problem?" he asked.
I told him, and he had, or should I say, pitched, a little fit. Silently, of course. He just stared at me with this, I can't believe you just said that to me. He proceeded to say, "I signed up for this parade months ago so I wouldn't have to be in the back of the parade!"
He was furious. Anyway, I did the only logical thing to do in the situation: I turned him over to mom, who can make any mad person regret their attitude instantly. (I usually incite them to further riot; I've never been able to figure out why. :D) When he was in the actual parade (yes, it rained on our parade. Imagine that.) he did this demonstration that was astonishing. I'm so glad that I didn't get him mad because this guy was amazing. He would wield this little stick and go flying around in the air, seeming to be off the ground for way too long, kicking and hi-yah'ing and other stuff. Of all the people to provoke!

After the parade we upheld a longstanding tradition to go Jack In The Box for milkshakes. Always my Grandpa Alves' treat. He usually has a habit of ordering at least half again as much as we need, and the shakes there are in no ways small. Thankfully this year during the parade he passed around a "sign-up sheet" asking people to mark how many they wanted (the universally accepted number was "One") and what variety (most people picked Strawberry or Vanilla but some defected to Blackberry when that option became available). Keep in mind that there were sub-freezing temperatures outside (well, not really, but the closest thing to that for So Cal in the fall) and here we were all shivering drinking our milkshakes. They were really good and very cold; we're gluttons for punishment. :D

Saturday afternoon/evening was very quiet! Dad and Mom went out for their 22nd anniversary (they went out to dinner, then went grocery shopping, and then went to the hardware store to buy a squirrel trap. Very typical of them. Those two!), Jay was gone (obviously), and Emily was at a birthday party. Therefore Daniel, Mally, Whitney and I were the only ones home. I never thought I'd live to see the day when having three of my siblings home with me would seem like an empty house! For so many years it was just me, Em, and Jay. :D
The little kids helped me make supper, we watched a movie, and had caramel popcorn. It was great fun.

Sunday a friend came over with his two daughters, Asa and Monet (I can just hear the crowds clamoring for a proper pronunciation key. Asa: A-suh, Monet: mo-NAY). I enjoyed lunch but I was antsy, carrying my cell phone around with me almost religiously to make sure that I wouldn't miss Jay's call....if he called. Finally he did, but on the house phone! We'd all been guessing whose cell he would call, so it was a bit of a letdown for him to call on our house phone. :) Dad went to go pick him up, and when they came back he was tightlipped and wouldn't tell us anything until he'd told us the whole story, which took three hours..........we all sat in rapt attention. It's so much fun to hear stories from his perspective, especially after a brutal week like that one. I'll write a separate post about that, because it really deserves its own. :D

It was a great weekend!


As a Division Chief (in charge of 1/4 of the Academy), and the Public Information Officer!

More (extremely exciting) details to follow at a later date (read: as soon as I'm coherent, likely tomorrow).
I think I'm actually shaky. He drew the story out over 3 hours before he told us the good news. I can't possibly tell you how excited I am.

I think I'm probably the proudest sister that the world has ever known. Really.

Leadership Academy

As I'm typing this, Jay is running around the house packing up all of his gear for Leadership Conference. I'd appreciate if you all could pray for him; I know he'll do well but....still, it's going to be a very stressful week. Every waking hour (which is too many every day) Firefighters who can do 17,000 pushups in the course of a midmorning and who have a voice so loud they can probably wake the dead, sitting around and staring at you, yelling at you for every conceivable (and sometimes manufactured) reason. It's virtually impossible to do things right; this year Jay is running for a position on "The Six Pack" (Division Chief level) and so he's guaranteed to come under extra scrutiny. Yikes!
Plus, it's held up in the mountains and they're predicting that it might....snow! Yeah, snow!

So anyway, if you could pray for him, I'd really appreciate it! I'm really proud of him and I'm praying that he'll have the capacity and the maturity to be a great leader while he's there, and that he'll have favor with the folks who are doing the officer designations. Thanks!

Here are some pictures from Leadership and Academy last year.

A Quote Post

Random Quotes:

Jay: These potatoes could use some sodium.

Dad: Hi, Michael David. Wait, I'm Michael David. You're Michael....Somebody.

Jay: It's cheaper to buy toothbrushes than to buy dentures.

Catherine: That guy is bald.
Lisa: Oh, come on; it isn't his fault that he grew a little taller than his hair.

Danae: She was eternally sorry. After getting in huge trouble.

Em: There was a syringe with a really sharp needle that was blunt.

Jay: On Firefighter Appreciation Day, don't call 911; they're all dead drunk.

Jay: That guy was so nervous he was chain-drinking Diet Cokes.

Em: He was an anti-protester.
Jay: Is that kinda like a civilian?

Dep. Allison: What do Fire Explorers and Deputy Sheriffs have in common? They all want to be Firefighters when they grow up.

Jeff: How much would you get tazed for?
Jason: Fifty bucks.
Jeff: Fifty bucks, are you serious? Mark, go to the ATM!

Jay: This sermon should be PG-13 for Violence.

Mom: Peggy is like a walking time bomb.

Jay: Mom, according to Nicole, all of the men in this picture are--look carefully--men.

Dad (swatting flies): Nicole, this one's for you, babe! Whoops....I missed.

Jack: He was so mean his mother called him sir.

Quote of the Week:
Grandma: Chuck was on Nova.
Jay: Is that a drug?

Office Questions

I was just notified that I've made it to the "testing" stage for an office job at my dad's work. I'll test on Sep. 29. (Along with a few hundred other people I'm sure.)
I'm a little....antsy....especially because they said to set aside 3 hours for a test relating to "office questions".
What could an office question possibly be?

If you see an item that is marked, "Trash", what would you do with it?
a.) Put it in the trash.
b.) Take a quick peek at it to see if it's confidential information
c.) Ask your boss if he really meant to throw it away
d.) Fold it up and make a paper airplane

If a caller asks to speak to your boss, what is the common protocol to respond to him?
a.) He's in a meeting and can't get back to you. Click.
b.) He's....sick at home with the flu and I'd give you his cell phone but he's probably puking right now
c.) A....choo!
d.) Excuse me, sir, is this the party to whom I am speaking?

If a belligerent customer is harassing you, you should....
a.) Return the favor
b.) Tell him matter-of-factly that you don't believe expletives should be used when there are children and/or adults within 300 yards
c.) Throw the (trash) paper airplane at him
d.) Turn around and walk away

If your computer breaks you should....
a.) Start hollering, "YAY! WOOHOO!!! I get to go home for the rest of the day!"
b.) Go on a leisurely break, get a Starbucks, and then call IT and ask them what's wrong
c.) Attempt to conceal the problem from your superior
d.) Start crying. Uncontrollably.

Yeah.....I could use an extra dosage of prayers.

Corinthian Questions

Today we had a very rousing discussion on I Cor. 7, which we're currently at in our Bible reading. Here are some of the questions we had; I'm curious as to your feedback.

1 Corinthians 7

 1Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

A man? A woman? Under what circumstances? Any? "Man" in this case is gender neutral; woman is inclusive of any woman's state whether unmarried, married, widowed, or divorced. When does the "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" stop applying? After marriage? If so, by what justification? What does "touch" mean? It is generally interpreted by mainstream Christianity to be along the lines of carnal knowledge, but is that unsubstantiated? The words must have some other meaning than their literal one, because Jesus himself (a man) touched (the same word "touch") a woman and obviously it was not disallowed.

 2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

To avoid that an extension of the previous verse?  And is the opposite of a man having a wife and a woman having a husband assumed to be fornication?

 3Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

 4The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

 5Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

These words are rather self-explanatory, although I do have some opinions on them that are rather unique.

  6But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

He seems to have a great grasp on God's permission or lack thereof. Did he specifically ask God about this subject?

 7For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

 8I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.

So does verse 2 still apply?

 9But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Is the inability to contain one's self ever an attribute of a godly person? It would seem that if the solution to the problem of control is marriage, it would suggest that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. In other words, if "burning" was an ungodly state to be in, the answer would be to gain control, not to enter a marriage without it.

 10And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

How did the Lord give permission for this? Was permission given because the principles to follow were red-letter?

 11But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

 12a But to the rest speak I, not the Lord:

Does this phrase mean that he is speaking without divine authority? Is it an opinion? If so, is it inspired? Is it of greater, less or equal authority as words written without any sort of disclaimer regarding doctrine or practical Christianity?

If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

 13And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

  14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Whoa......this verse has some serious implications. Does this contribute to generational covenant, and, if so, why isn't the principle of inherited sanctification represented elsewhere in scripture?

 15But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

 16For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

 17But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

 18Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

 19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

  20Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

 21Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

 22For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

 23Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

What were you when you were saved? Free? Stay that way. Slave? Stay that way. But if you don't, don't. And if you can, do change.


  24Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

 25Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

Is this a cross between biblical permission and independence?

  26I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

What present distress?

Basically, without the added words, the sentence says thus-- "Now concerning virgins.......I say that it is good for a man so to be." (Yes, the word "virgin" there, Strongs 3933, can apply to a male.)

 27Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

Loosed? Bound? Those must be defined. They are different;

First loosed -- basically means divorce. (3080)

Second loosed -- in this context (3089) applies to a single man who has either been married before or has never been married.

Hmph.  It's hard to reconcile with my theology.

 28But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

Here again---one of those catch-22's. It seems like the chapter is contradictory; Let Every Man Have His Own Wife. If A Man Marries, He Will Have Trouble In The Flesh. Trouble in the flesh? Is that something wicked? If so, how can you marry and yet not sin?

 29But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

When and how?

 30And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

 31And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

The fashion of the world......does that mean marriage?

 32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

 33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

 34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

 35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

If he were to sanction marriage fully, would he be responsible for "distracting" them? Is marriage a distraction?

  36But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

 37Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

Is a father stronger to require his daughter to remain unmarried than he would be to let her marry?

  38So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

 39The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

 40But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

Doesn't Paul encourage widowed women elsewhere to remarry?

Anyway, the questions are all very ominous. What a huge chapter. I have definite of the most interesting factors here, as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that Paul's frequent (4x) disclaimers regarding who is speaking (God, Paul with permission, Paul without permission, etc.) are so significantly absent elsewhere. If the "permission" from God comes from a red-letter status as many people believe, why isn't every doctrinal issue that didn't proceed from Christ's mouth during His earthly ministry (or from God through audibly spoken words) accompanied by a similar label about its authenticity and/or origination?


 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

An "Apostolic" Day

Susanna Kocher just left. We had such a good time! At first I was a little know how it can be when you've known someone so well online....and yet you have almost no idea how you'll relate in "real life". I know I'm a lot different in person than I am online sometimes, so I think I was a little nervous about that. It turned out that I had nothing to worry; she was exactly like I pictured her being, we laughed so hard we practically cried at times, and we ended up sharing an absolutely fabulous day together with so many "funny quotes" it would be impossible to write them all down. We showed Susanna around the booming metropolis of Hesperia, laughed, played very hysterical rounds of Dutch Blitz, laughed, laughed, discussed family histories, laughed, managed to avoid a resuscitation of our former debate about Torture, and laughed some more.

One interesting event; we took her out for ice-cream and as we were calmly walking up to the ice-cream store I saw this guy staring at us a little....I ignored him and we went on our way. I happened to be taking another peek over at him a little while later and this time our eyes met. "Hey!" he said.
"Hi," I replied. The term "reply" doesn't really do it justice; we were shouting at eachother from across a parkinglot.
He now had our attention in full. "EXCUSE ME?"
Truth to be told, I had absolutely no idea what an Apostolic Church was.
"I'M SORRY.....YOU JUST LOOK SO........"
We waited.
"NO," I hollered back over the Main Street traffic, "WE'RE JUST CHRISTIANS."
(A conversation ensued shortly thereafter discussing how he'd come up with his ideas. It was the first time any of us had been asked such a different question. We schemed that maybe he was searching for an unmarried Apostolic Girl since there were plenty of eligible females over eighteen, well, two anyways, in the group.)

It was so funny! We had such a great time. Thanks so much for coming, Susanna!!!!!!!!!!! It's so much fun to have such a godly friend. I love you!

Habits and Hashbrowns

What a weekend!
First there was the wedding, complete with rehearsal (and cane-twirling entrances to "Oh, When The Saints Go Marching In" on the part of the groom) and actual ceremony.
Sunday was supposed to be a fairly normal day, but, no.
You see, Sunday was "potluck Sunday", a once-a-month event at church where everyone comes together to bring an overabundance of quantity and options and where one must only take about 1 in 5 things in order not to overfill their plate.
Anyway, now that it seems I've gotten quite educational about church eating habits, I'll get back to why I was originally mentioning potluck......
I was going to demonstrate an admirable degree of initiative and make my mom's potluck dishes for her. I made the dessert but as it would happen she chose to also make some type of hashbrown casserole. Now, if she would have been making anything else from potpie to stuffed mushrooms (yuck) I probably could have handled it but, no, she had to choose my culinary Achilles heel: hashbrowns. I can't cook hashbrowns, period. I don't know why but it always ends up being a grand-scale disaster almost to the point of declaring a county-wide state of emergency. Sunday was no exception. I was using a griddle and every possible location where some hashbrown piece could embed itself (and even a few impossible ones), it did. Half of the potatoes would burn and the other half would be undercooked. To say the whole thing was pathetic would be a glaring understatement. Thankfully, my dad has a beautiful family policy called, Dad Does Dishes On Sundays. When he came out and saw the mess I profusely apologized but he just shrugged and said, "Hey, I enjoy it," further strengthening my conviction that dads are a very good invention.
Lest the story seems hopeless, don't worry, my mom, who has absolutely no problem controlling hashbrowns, rescued me. I reassigned myself to the less disastrous job of stirring butter and sour cream into the potatoes and she handled the frying pan with a great degree of skill.
Monday was very relaxed; we did yardwork....well, I use the term "we" loosely, since I really had very little to do with it...and that night we had a BBQ, got ice-cream and watched a movie. It was tons of fun!!!!!
As I type this a good friend from PA is on her way here; I'm really excited! I can't wait to see her......

An concluding and unrelated post-script: I think Whitney is about to start crawling!!!! YAY!

Weddings and Funerals

The wedding is over!

The rehearsal was very....entertaining. The representation was rather sparse; the bride and groom, a granddaughter (who I think was acting as a chaperon of sorts), the pastor, our family, and the sound guy and his daughter. It was a little unorganized in some ways, but in other ways "some people" took everything a little too literally (such as actually rehearsing all of the vows, exchanging rings...not the real ones but some substitutes....etc.) so it wasn't really like what I'd want my wedding rehearsal to look like but it was nice anyway. The one most refreshing aspect was probably the fact that there was absolutely no "wedding coordinator". I have a strong dislike for wedding coordinators in general; they seem to think that the world revolves around them a lot of the time. Anyway, now that I've effectively gotten way off topic, I'll move on to the wedding.

There were a lot of family members and I did the music, which turned out well....I was so nervous but thankfully nothing catastrophic happened. The groom came in to a very lively trombone trio version of, "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In", which had been reworded to say, "Oh, When the Saint Comes Marching In".  The word "unique" really doesn't do it justice. My biggest fear was that I would mess up something critical when it came time to play the Bridal Chorus, but, much to my surprise it was practically over before it began. One other amazing thing was that Whitney was fussing (dad was watching her at the back of the church) and as soon as mom and I started playing, she recognized the music and promptly fell asleep, not to awaken until everyone was applauding at the end!

On a more somber note, Jay was helping with Brandon Smith's funeral today; he estimated that there were about 800 people in attendance and they had cars parked over a quarter mile away. Brandon (19) died in a motorcycle accident; all of his pallbearers were in full racing attire and the canopies that they put up for the graveside service were racing canopies. Pray for the family; I think they (and Brandon's fiancee) are having a pretty hard time with all of this. Death, especially at a young age, is always such a jolting reminder of how fleeting life is.

So we had a wedding......for an 85-year-old.
And a funeral........for a 19-year-old.
It seems so incongruous.

I'm very thankful that God knows what He's doing even if we do not.


We just received a prayer request regarding Jason (the young man who was driving under the influence and in an accident); he's taken a turn for the worse and is now in a deep coma. The family has to give the doctors a verdict by Monday on whether or not they want to keep him on life support.
Please be praying for this family, and for Jason, urgently.
Thank you.

Playing For Weddings

I was peacefully minding my own business getting ready for church to start last Sunday when I felt a tap on my shoulder; I turned around and there was a guy named Joe Goodman who is getting married this Saturday to his high-school sweetheart; he said, "Um, I don't know if anyone has broached this subject with you or not....but my fiance and I were wondering if you would be willing to play for our wedding." I had heard that they were considering asking mom and I to play one song during the wedding, but it soon became apparent that they wanted me to play the piano and mom to play the flute for the entire ceremony; prelude, bridal march, dismissal, everything. In five days. I was a little shocked. I guess not very, though; there is nothing typical about this wedding. You see, Joe is 85 years old. He used to date Viola in high school, then they went their separate ways and had lives and families, until both of their spouses died awhile back and they conducted a telephone re-romance from two states and eventually fell in love again (or maybe they always were?) and now are getting married. It's the most adorable and adventurous thing!
Anyway, the critical part of this announcement is that tonight is the rehearsal. To say I'm panicked would be an understatement. I can play like a virtuoso (well, maybe not quite that good) as long as nobody is watching but as soon as I have an audience everything sounds like a poor version of Chopsticks.
Pray for me (and mom). Tonight and tomorrow.

Random Quotes from the Weekend

Random Quotes from the Weekend:

Grandma: Who would want to be gang-banged to death?

Mrs. Yovonovich: Everyone gives off the equivalent of a 100-watt lightbulb, and some people moreso.
Mrs. Murray: In my case, moreso.

Andrew: If you believe, you can have a drink of water.
Jay: That's some biblical bribery for you.

Mr. Chandler: I don't know what kind of fish Jesus created.
Mr. Yovonovich: Sushi.

MaryAnn: He made the wine into water.
(Someone): Wine into water?
MaryAnn: Oh, did I say that? Well, anyway, I guess that would cure alcoholism.

Emily: It said his back would be hunched, but it really isn't.
Jay: Well, his belly is hunched. That should count for something.

Jay: It would take a very sick and dying man to let that guy marry his daughter.

Jay: that a pig? Oh, wait, that was Babe.

Jay: How is this magnetic?
Me: Well, it says it is, but it really isn't.
Jay: You've got to be kidding.
Me: Well, it's just not magnetic in the usual way.
Jay: Magnetic as in, when you see it, you love it, or what?


I was just getting ready to hop in the shower this morning when I saw Jay come down the hallway quickly and heard whispers all over the house. I went (obviously) to see what the commotion was. Apparently one of my siblings (I haven't figured out which one; I'm guessing Daniel) was complaining about an inability to do cartwheels. Mom decided to once-and-for-all dispel the notion that it is impossible to do them. She donned a pair of sweat pants, went out on the backyard lawn, and started demonstrating.
Sometimes it seems like she is still just getting out of high school; she is so cute!
Apparently she was an inspiration; cartwheel attempts were being conducted all over the house this morning.

Dates and Decisions

Mally and dad went on a "date" today. It was so cute. She wore this monstrosity of a green "ribbon" in her hair and was hyped up hours before and hours afterwards. They went to the park and fed the geese (who bit her a few times, as she told us in quite animated terms after getting back). I hope my little kids are as crazy about their dad someday as Mally is about hers.

This evening Daniel officially decided how he's going to propose. He has a grand scheme, apparently in the style of Larry Walters, to get tons of helium balloons attached to a chair where he and his sweetheart can float away. (Emily suggested that if she says no he can pop all of the balloons right away, which he also thought what was a good idea.) The poor girl; maybe he'll change his mind in 20 years when he's ready to actually tie the knot.


The Kingdom

What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this,
   that caused the Lord of bliss
     to bear the dreadful curse
      for my soul?

I read those words above and I hear the haunting simple melody that the songwriter so appropriately coupled them with, and I close my eyes and it occurs to me that I do not understand, do not experience, the wonder. When I think of the cross, when I think of the love, my reaction is so mature, so rehearsed. I can sing about the love and if I try I can maybe conjure up some sort of emotional response but quite simply, I have no wonder whatsoever. I am not physically weak in the knees when I see the sacrifice.
And that is not always a bad thing. I am analytical, I am intellectual, in my approach of Him and He begs to be seen that way.
But in all of my zealousness to make my faith practical and led by my spirit rather than my heart, I have lately been confronted with that ominous question: am I missing the Kingdom?
I read a book this week that really isn't worth recommending. It was based on a flawed premise, I think, of modern-day mass miracles accomplished by one that had the faith of a child. It came off sounding more like a step-by-step guide to megachurch faith-healing despite attempts at reclamation by using (very valid) lines like, "Whoever said that a healed hand was better than a cleansed heart?" But at the conclusion of the book, the most profound part, for me, was the telling of a few scenes where a child had encountered the Kingdom. The book was allegorical and it portrayed a physical, tangible Kingdom, but the overarching theme was that of wonder. The child was overwhelmed when he saw the Kingdom, and had faith that walking into it was as simple as believing.
It was more powerful, more realistic and yet more complicated, than any description I've read before. It seemed genuine; the boy would so much as think of the cross and would not be able to withhold tears.
Do I ever cry over the cross? Am I ever overwhelmed with His love? Do I reduce it to spirituality or anthropomorphic language and miss the simplicity of the love that put Him on the cross for me?
And then, truly, must I be as a child to appreciate it, to have an untainted reaction? I did a word study on faith and children, and I found what I had already suspected--the heart of the Kingdom is truly best represented in the heart of a child.

Mt. 18
Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto Him,
and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you:
Except ye be...come as little children,
ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble
himself as a little child, the same is
the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Humble, as a child? Perhaps humble enough to realize that sophistication will never gain me access to the throne.

Mark 10:15
Verily I say unto you,
Whosoever shall not receive the
Kingdom of God as a little child,
he shall not enter therein.

I Jn. 2:13
I write unto you, little children,
because ye have known the Father.

I look at the words and I wonder--how does one enter the Kingdom as a little child? Does it mean capturing the wonder, does it mean feeling awe when I pray to Him, does it mean visualizing the profound impact I have through those prayers on the course of history? Does it mean believing that He will pull back the windows of Heaven and allow me a peek into eternity, does it mean being recklessly content to mentally run in the wind as a little girl, barefoot, braids flying, laughing, holding my daddy's hand and believing that I could go on that way forever? Is that realistic?
Is the heart of the Kingdom truly bound up in the heart of a child, and, if so, how do I become a child? HOw do I face what J.B. Phillips wrote,

The greatest difference between present-day Christianity
and that of which we read in the New Testament
is that it is to us primarily a performance;
to them it was an experience.
We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule
of heart and life. Perhaps if we believed what they believed,
we might achieve what they achieved.

There is equal danger in a manufactured simplicity, a conjured sentimentalism, and I am duly warned of it and, I think, in no danger of it. But there is, there must be, also a genuine awe, that bowls you over and leaves you almost giddy and overwhelmed, the way a child might glance at a rainbow and be truly enthralled.
Am I enthralled with God? Not just consumed, not just devoted. An I curious? Do I wake up in the morning unable to contain childish excitement for ways He will reveal Himself to me that day? Do I think of the cross and does it take my breath away?
Do I have wonder?
I know that I don't. I want, long, to feel it. Wonder.
I want to enter the Kingdom with the heart of a child. And so I say, with the hymnwriter, and a full heart,

Little children praise you perfectly;
and so would we;
and so would we.

Congratulations Elliotts!

Congratulations to the Elliott Family; Titus (Ty) Courage Elliott was born this weekend.
See the family blog for pictures and details.
Praise the Lord!

Early-Morning Observations

Jay has his driving test in a few hours. I know he's a good driver, and I'm sure he'll pass, but I am nervous for him anyway.

Tonight Mr. Elliott is coming to drop off his car while he's in Texas; that means we'll have a BMW in our front yard for the next three weeks. Scary/Exciting.

My favorite chore to do outside is raking up pine needles. Really. If you haven't tried it recently, you should.

Every person ought to read, "On Message" by Mark Crutcher.

When you read, "On Message", be sure to actually call it "On Message"; dad, Em and I were mixing it up (accidentally) last week, calling it, "On Mark"--which was somehow a version of the author's name, Mark, and some other undetermined factors, and then we thought we remembered the last name of the author being, "Crueller". If it had been a crisis situation and someone really needed to know the name of the book, we would have failed.

It's very unpredictable to do dishes while Jay is trying to stand there talking to me; he does unexpected things (like dump Comet on my arm) and I do very predictable things (like squeal).

It gets REALLY hot sleeping on the top bunk during these desert nights. Even with the fan on.

When Jay hums the Jeopardy tune even once, it will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

My new ringtone is the only Josh Groban song I can stand, "You Raise Me Up".

Two men got in a spat out in front of our house this morning when one man's dog ran out in front of another man's car. The scene supposedly involved one man using his baseball cap to hit another man. What would possess someone to do something so....sophomoric? It's beyond me. If I was mad at someone, I would use something other than my baseball cap to get the point across.
Daniel has manufactured a squirrel trap and a rubber band gun during the last few days. The gun has been a success, the trap thus far has not.

l am going to take a CAHSEE practice test today. Not because I particularly feel like ensuring that I qualify for the Exit Exam, but mostly because I might be taking a general school district knowledge test (for employment) over the next while, and I want to make sure I'm ready for it.

I have a strong dislike for chihuahuas. And I can't spell the word "chihuahua" without using spell check.

I've been trying to scare Jay by reminding him about the woes I encountered on my driving test, including the trio of pedestrians walking in the middle of the lane in my direction with no plans of getting out of the way, a very godfather-looking black vehicle of some kind that almost backed into me, and a lady that made some driving errors and ended up flipping me off and other things, followed by a verbal tongue-lashing from the lady administering my driving test!

Have I mentioned that I'm nervous about Jay's driving test? I am.

The Making of Pink Chicken and Other Random Occurrences

It seems like things have just been getting busier and busier the last few days. Yesterday Jay was getting ready to go to work this morning and so he wanted to make some kind of "treats" for the firefighters he works with. After ruling out several possibilities including several unpronounceable "desserts" (he wanted to make them but mom exercised veto power), he was convinced to just make brownies. Well, I shouldn't use the word "just"; somehow one of us came up with the brilliant idea of encouraging him to make MINT brownies. He made the brownies with a little mint flavoring in them, then we were going to try to make mint frosting. I was working on something else so I called directions out to Jay; "Add that little thing of cream cheese....a stick of real butter...a little vanilla....a little mint extract....and a box of powdered sugar." He hollered back that the measurement "a little" was unfamiliar to him and then hollered a few seconds later, "NIC! It's NOT WORKING! I think the cream cheese is curdling!" Mom was in another room, and was like, "No, you weren't supposed to use cream cheese!" I knew that I had wanted him to use cream cheese so I went in there to straighten it out. I couldn't believe what had gone on; I've never seen such hideous frosting in my entire existence. I don't know what exactly happened to it, but it vaguely resembled very small cottage cheese or something. I sat and stared at it awhile while he asked me if I could "fix it"....I said yes....there's always a way to fix it....I just didn't know how yet. So I started getting ready to add some stuff when I decided that I should probably just start over; it was for the firefighters and I didn't want to run the risk of feeing them something that would poison them and/or inhibit them from saving the public at large.
So I started over, made a batch of "real" frosting, which worked this time, and I was like, "Jay, what did you do that made it so....different than this? How many ways is there to put butter, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl?!"
He was like, "Well, maybe I shouldn't have melted the butter....."
Bingo. We put the "curdled" frosting aside and got the brownies actually frosted. Mom decided to try to rescue the "bad" frosting which was an equally bad idea because it was beyond redemption. So anyway, she started making these mint cookies, using the frosting, and they were very...different. Our combined culinary skills couldn't really do anything to make them remotely edible (my dad told us not to throw them away, though; he will eat almost anything in large quantities and he told us that he didn't mind them; we'll let him eat as many as he wants I guess).
About this time the phone rang and my sister answered it; it was a longtime friend of mine; I was working on some things so I deferred the phone call to my mom, who I heard talking to my friend. "Oh, hi! are you....yeah....would you like to come to dinner?...oh, okay....we'll see you at six." In my house, dinner plans can spring up with such little warning. Mom got off the phone and was like, "Oh, they're coming to dinner."
YIKES! I went running around the house trying to come up with something to have; somehow it seems like whenever company comes I can never think of something that they'll truly like. Well, anyway, I ended up deciding to make sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls, rice, and we served peaches and grapes from our trees/vines. It was quite a decision process to come to this, but it was one of those meals that requires so little prep time that it was supposed to be effortless. Of course, everything that I touch is never that simple, anyway, I thawed the chicken (in a hurry; they were coming quite quickly) by running tons of very hot water over it enough to break the pieces apart (if Hesperia has a drought in the near future I will take the blame entirely). After I got the chicken actually cooking, I started stir-frying vegetables for it, and somehow while Jay was assembling his brownies he decided that it would be a good idea to test-taste the vegetables. I don't know what earthly idea would possess someone to just come in there and start eating plain stir-fry vegetables but he did it, and received various degrees of complaint from various family members (except Mally, who I think would have joined him if she had been given the chance).
I didn't have time (or resources) to make my own sauce for the chicken so I literally just dumped a bottle of pre-made sweet/sour sauce into the chicken and vegetables, but as soon as I did I was like....this isn't like normal sweet/sour sauce. It was pink. Bright pink. Fluorescent pink. Hillary Duff pink. I was totally horrified. Anyway, our friends showed up early, I still had like 10 minutes of prep time, but after that we all ate. It was actually a really great time; I had a lot of fun and we laughed so much. (They didn't mind eating pink sauce....I did, though, and my dad did.....we both made a deal not to ever buy that kind of sauce again. I think next time I'll take the extra time and make my own, lol.)
They are really rich; their dad recently retired from a career with the Department of Water and Power, which may not sound like a very sophisticated job but it certainly pays well enough. They only have one daughter, who is my friend, so they regularly present my mom (and co.) with large quantities of unreasonably priced clothing. For some reason they enjoy spending tons of money on frilly clothes for our little girls, who do admittedly look adorable in them, but they are so expensive.
Anyway, they were telling us quite the epic story of a family party they went to where one of the highly inexperienced nieces had been given the official job of making mashed potatoes. I don't know about in your family, but in our family, the mashed potatoes aren't something that you just automatically get to make; you have to have proven yourself for several decades before you're given the duty of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. Anyway, this little gal took over the process and made 20 pounds of potatoes using only a tablespoon of butter and a little more salt. (I don't know if you're familiar with proper mashed-potato-making technique, but there should be significantly larger portions of both.) To top it off, this niece added ungodly amounts of garlic (about 15-20 cloves). No one was eating the potatoes and it was becoming quite a fiasco, so our friend went in the kitchen when no one else was around and started dumping various redemptive ingredients into the potatoes; eventually they all disappeared. (Yes, it conjured images of Remy in Ratatouille, jumping over a soup pot.) Speaking of soup, they then told us about some soup their dad had decided to prepare that was supposedly good for keeping various ailments away (and most humans, I'm sure); it included 8 whole heads of garlic in it. They said, "We literally didn't get a cold for two years." I'm not sure it was worth the trade-off. :D
So we had fun with them last night. This morning I was finishing up a few applications for work with the school district, and about when I was getting ready to leave to drop them off at the District office, I heard mom ask, "Is there an 'e' in 'impart'?" I told her that I'd never seen the word impart spelled with an e, and she said, "It's spelled that way on your application."
Arghhh. Thank goodness for computerized applications. After a reprint or two, we left for the DO; on the way I was reading aloud to mom/Emily from "To Kill A Mockingbird" in that section where Mrs. Dubose is railing those dreadful accusations at the kids and Atticus shows them a different side of her than the side they'd grown to hate. It was nice. After that we ended up at a property we own on the outskirts of town; there was a fire last week and mom was fairly sure it had burned some of our property. Sure enough, it turns out that most of the fire had actually been squarely on our property, and that our property had been a staging grounds for fire personnel while they were fighting the flames. Whoops. (There were no buildings on it so it didn't bring about significant damage.)
After that we went to the store, where I stayed in the car with Whitney and Mally, who were sleeping. I had the sliding van door open, as well as the windows, so we could actually get some air (it's a hot day) and got quite a few very curious stares from people who would pull into the space next to me. Oh, well.
That's a short summary of what's been going on. Pardon me while I go put away groceries....


We were looking at vehicles on ebay the other day and ran across this listing; look at the winning pictures this guy posted of his car. of houses, mountains.....etc. Buy the truck and he'll throw in the whole mountain, I guess. :)
He used to have other additional pictures of the vehicle that included one of 90% ground and 10% unknown truck parts.

As a side note, I was looking at this car to buy but when we called the guy to ask if we could come look at it, yesterday he was at auction, today he was sick, and he said we could come tomorrow but we'll be in San Diego. I guess that means I won't pursue it because I wouldn't want to buy it without looking at it. A little disappointing, but, who knows, maybe it just wasn't the right thing.

Active Afternoons

Let it never be said that an afternoon in the life of the Hearns is dull. Here's a recounting (which is by no means all-inclusive) of an hour or two.

I was doing some writing when I realized that it was time for the kids to take their naps. I went to call them and found that Daniel was already looking for me. "I want to teach Mallory how to swim," he told me.
"Well, it's time for your nap, buddy; maybe you can do that project later."

No, he didn't want to do the project later. He tried to convince me of the merits of this undertaking. "I won't get her wet; I'll just get in the pool and show her exactly how to do it so that she knows." Smooth way to get himself into the pool. I denied the request a second time and went to do laundry after telling the kids to get cleaned up for their naps.

I came back a few minutes later and Daniel and Mally were in a very serious discussion of some nature; I thought it was rather cute and so I walked up and asked them what they were talking about. "Well," Daniel told me, "Mally thinks she might have to go to the restroom."
Suffice it to say that their serious discussion quickly ended as I broke up the committee and sent Mally on her way.

Mom was on the phone with someone and as I returned to add a paragraph I'd been thinking about to the document I was working on, my phone rang and it was a good friend of mine; we talked and somehow came up with a brilliant plan that included meeting eachother on Saturday with a friend from Texas and another friend from Arizona who both happened to be out in So Cal right now. I went to ask mom what her thoughts were on the plan we'd hatched, and she was on the phone so I told my friend that I'd call her back later with verdicts. I called the friend from Arizona who happened to be in the middle of a show at Sea World and she said she'd call me back. Jay then got a call about his Fire activities tonight and while he was trying to convey what was going on to me, mom walked in and also tried to start telling me that she was going to Lancaster to look at some bunk beds for the girls' room (now there will be 4 of us in there when Whitney gets out of her basinette). The new problem was that Jay needed to be dropped off with Fire at either six or seven, the time wasn't conclusive yet. In the middle of mom and I trying to arrange things she got another phone call and I decided to go check on the kids.
They'd gotten distracted, so we had a little training session and we learned (together) how to clean up batches of crayons off the floor. I reminded them (afterwards) of what they were supposed to be doing and joined Jay and Mom again, proposing that mom go to Lancaster and that Jay and I would have grandma over for supper and she'd take Jay to Fire. As I was calling grandma, some other major event ended up taking place that I have absolutely no recollection of, and as soon as I got off the phone mom said, "Well, what are you going to make for dinner?" It was 1:50; way too early to be thinking about what we were having for dinner.

I went and checked on the kids; Mally was doing fine, getting ready "for a little nappie" (as she calls it) and Daniel was nowhere to be seen. I went outside and found him longingly swirling his hand around in the pool; he jumped up and said, "I wasn't least I don't think that's called swimming." It wasn't, but he also wasn't supposed to be out there so he got a little correction and a new shirt (as the one he was wearing was now wet on the sleeve where he'd been checking out the water). About the time I got back in Jay had decided to vacuum his ceiling fan; I don't know what possessed him. It was a very....noisy process.

Emily wasn't going to be eating supper so she decided to bring along some lemonade instead. Mally saw this process being conducted and decided that she wanted lemonade, too. I told her that Em was having lemonade because she had opted out of supper, and that she probably wouldn't be interested in the exchange. To the contrary, she piped up immediately, "Okay, I don't have to eat dinner. I want some lemonade!" By executive order there was an override to her decision.

The friend at Sea World called back and we discussed things briefly, then I helped mom come up with a map to Lancaster. Mally came in whimpering. "I don't want to be hungry," she told me. As flattering as it was to think that she would imagine that I would have the answer to that dillema, I told her that great minds since the dawn of time have been trying to suppress hunger and that (with the rare exception of the kooks who believe in breathairianism) humanity in general hadn't found a solution to the problem of hunger yet and that she would just have to stick to having supper instead of lemonade.

Daniel was in the restroom by this time (before his nap), and when I hadn't seen him for awhile I went in there to check on his status. I immediately knew that something was wrong; to make a long story short, apparently he had never been educated as to the proper technique and common usages of razors, and decided to experiment. I ended up calling Jay in to help me clean up the bloody mess that resulted. While I was getting aloe vera for Daniel and convincing him that it was not poisonous or deadly, Mally decided that, since she'd already had a morning nap, she wanted to go with mom this evening. That meant making another serving of supper to send with the girls, and getting Mally ready to go.

Daniel emerged with bandages and I thanked Jay profusely for handling the problem for me.

A little while later I went to go discuss dinner plans with mom, and after we had been talking a little while a family member (who shall remain anonymous, and no, it wasn't me) accidentally knocked mom's iron onto the ground; after mom had been assured that the carpet and the iron were fine, things returned to normal. I went into the garage to check on available food in the outside freezer. What I didn't realize is that Jay was in the garage, and we ended up scaring eachother while we were in there. He then confessed that he'd been trying to reduce the size of a nerf ball (?????) and had been grinding it down on a grinder or something....the grinder had sucked the whole nerf ball in. I don't know what came over him, because Jay is usually so....practical. Anyway, he was now in the garage trying to figure out how to get the grinder to disgorge the ball.

I was trying to decide what to make for dinner and every time I would start to think that I had a workable menu, I'd find out that I didn't have at least one ingredient that was absolutely necessary to the success of the meal. Finally I asked Jay if he would barbecue chicken for me and we'd have BBQ chicken sandwiches, cheese potatoes and baked beans. He agreed and so I started to thaw some chicken in the microwave. I helped Daniel finish cleaning his room, got Mally, mom, Em and Whitney ready to go, saw them out the door, called grandma again to confirm that I still had no idea what time Jay needed to go and to just show up at 4:45 for supper so we could make sure to have eaten by the time he had to go, and started making the potatoes.

I tried calling another friend of mine again to explain that the Sea World friend had been willing to do the four-way get together, and as I was talking to her Emily came in singing her own personally altered version of "You Raise Me Up" which included unique lyrics exactly opposite of the original ones ("You set me down so I can fall down mountains..."). I checked on the chicken defrosting in the microwave, and it seemed to be going well, then got mom finally fully out the door, discovered that Daniel was actually asleep, (a small miracle in and of itself) and took the chicken out of the microwave.

Jay found me several minutes later mumbling under my breath as I was packaging up the chicken to refreeze.
"What happened?" he asked.
"We can't have this chicken for sandwiches; I didn't know that these are chicken pieces with ribs!"
"Um, Nic, I'm not sure if you've done much studying on chicken anatomy....but chickens don't have ribs."
"I just read it on the package; it said, 'Chicken breasts with ribs'."
"Well, actually, all fowl are unique in that they don't have ribs; they instead have a sternal plate."
I shoved the chicken back in the freezer. "Maybe 'Chicken with Sternal Plates' didn't sound quite as appetizing," I guessed. After making a mental note to never again think that 1:30 was too early to begin looking into supper plans, I headed for the garage again to plan an alternate menu...

Wonderful Weekends

What a weekend!!!!!!
Thursday my grandma came over for supper, and about the time she arrived a neighbor of ours also arrived; he happens to be a very, um, loud neighbor and I felt a little bad for her. My mom had sent over some food for our neighbor and he was coming over to compliment her and ask for "more, because that was SO good!" My dad gets off every other Friday so we were going to start our weekend on Friday, and therefore we spent the night at my grandma's house, which is something we do every-once-in-awhile. We bring old western movies (or anything we happen to be watching at the time, but usually ancient westerns) and stay up to late hours of the night and do random things like all sit around and read back issues of Readers' Digest. It's great fun.

We had to be back early on Friday morning because Mally and Daniel had to finish up swimming lessons that morning. The rest of the day was busy and interesting; I found out some new things about dispatcher school and when it begins, recorded part of a book on tape for dad, and that night we went to some friends, the Lewis', house for supper. Mally accidentally broke a glass of theirs but it ended up being fine; they understood and the only damage was the broken cup and Kool-Aid all over us. They started telling us about some new organic brand of meat being sold at SuperTarget and so we started talking about organic foods in general....and then somehow got onto the subject of tofu.....which none of us even remotely like. Jay and I were telling a story of our initial exposure to tofu; we had this friend named Sabrina, well, actually, she was a friend of my parents' and she had this infant son who she wanted the best of everything for. Unfortunately, that meant Jay and I were the guinea pigs for all of this stuff. One time she bought tons of varieties of milk that I didn't even know existed; regular, goat, powdered enriched, and probably camel for all I know. It was really disgusting (I don't like just drinking milk anyway so it was all the worse), but then she heated it up, not enough to be hot, but just....lukewarm. More room-temperature. Eckh!!!! She blindfolded Jay and I and had us drink these varieties of milk and then asked us to choose our favorites; Jay and I unanimously suggested one kind of milk which turned out to be regular store-bought cow's milk. She was curious and didn't believe that it actually tasted better but Jay and I did NOT offer to do a retest. Anyhow, this same friend decided to come over and impress us with her newest product: tofu. She didn't suspect that we would want to just eat it plain, so she said, "Guess what! I'm going to make you some Tofu Surprise!!!" It sounded extremely tempting....not. We watched as she threw in tons of mysterious ingredients, mostly consisting of milk (probably not normal; I think by this time she still strongly suspected that Jay and I had rigged the taste test), tofu, vanilla extract, tofu, tofu, tofu and milk. She poured these huge tumblers full of it and plopped a straw on top and grinned at us and said, "Go ahead!!! Are you surprised?" We were surprised, quite unpleasantly, and Jay suddenly came up with the brilliant idea of enjoying our Tofu outside. I think my mom went along with the proposition because she suspected what was ahead. While she engaged this lady in conversation, Jay and I went out to the sandbox and on the count of three took a big sip.......YUCK!!! It was....I don't even know how to describe the consistency. The word awful doesn't do it justice. Anyway, Jay spit his out immediately. We didn't want to waste it all and somehow in our minds it would be more sacrificial to sip it up and then spit it out, so we proceeded to do that with the entire glass. (Jay says no weeds have grown in the immediate vicinity since.)
Our second (and latest, thankfully) exposure to tofu was perhaps just as traumatic; my mom did bookkeeping for a lady who was older and who had four very strange children who lived in the four corners of the earth and sometimes dropped in for unknown reasons (well, actually, usually it was to get money from her). Anyway, on one occasion her son, Tom, came. Well, Tom wasn't just your typical Tom; he was into some sort of religion that transcends the bounds of my understanding and I think had a similar effect on him. Another reason why he wasn't your typical Tom is because he didn't go by the name Tom, which was apparently to mild for him. He went by Mega. Even his checkbook had, "Thomas (Mega)" on it. He believed that mowing the grass was an assault against the grass gods and other strange things that I usually tuned out when I heard him discussing them in-depth with my dad. In any event, Tom (aka Mega), a vegan of the highest order (I don't want to think how many plant gods he offended in his eating habits) decided to wow us all in the kitchen with his impressive culinary skills, making "chicken" which really wasn't chicken at all; it was tofu that he claimed tasted exactly like chicken (not that he would know what chicken tasted like). He cut up these huge....cubes....of tofu. Not just 1-inch-square cubes, but closer to the size of a chicken leg or something. He then proceeded to fry these oil....and salt them lightly. The next step was eating them. Eugh. The texture was alarming. We cut up one piece and literally passed a fork around trying to mask our gag reflexes. I liked when I said it had been our last exposure to tofu, though, since I just remembered that Jay had one more unfortunate episode; a neighbor of ours who was also into the whole "organic" thing decided that she needed lots of synthetic meats and then decided that she hated them, so her thought process must have been something like, "Oh, I'll give it to those Hearns; they have a big family so their kids must eat anything."
Quite interestingly, it was true, but Jay mostly decided to eat the tofu "chicken" as a dare. He pulled it out of the box and it was completely....molded...into this really cheesy shape of a half-chicken. (About 2 inches thick, and molded with this little tiny bump for a chicken "leg" on top). The box advertised the quality and texture, even saying that the so-called "meat" had grain. He microwaved it until he felt it was sufficiently warmed and then took a bite....before deciding that there was no way he wanted to finish it. But his ego would have been wounded if he had wimped out, so he dumped TONS of barbecue sauce onto his plate, chopped off little pieces, drowned them in BBQ sauce, and downed them. He said it felt like a dare where he was eating a bowlful of rubber bands. These days, our only experiences with tofu and alternative meat options are usually when my uncle, who from time-to-time claims that based on some malady or another he can't have foods that sometimes include meat, brings these things called "Tofu Pups" as an alternative to hot dogs at the family parties. It's comical. Anyway, that wasn't really a recounting of Friday night, more of what we talked about Friday night, but, hey.

Saturday we stayed busy although I really can't remember much of what we did. Dad was packing for his trip this week, and we did various things that claimed our time until it was about time to leave for some other friends' house for supper. They told us to come "at fourish". I detest the word "ish" when it comes to time; that's one of my pet peeves; I can't stand it when people aren't punctual, and I REALLY can't stand it when I'm not punctual. Therefore, I like very exact times: Be here at five. Go there at 3:30. Expect a call at 2. But, "Be here at 4ish" is not up my alley. I always ask myself---what time is "fourish"? 3:50? 4:10? We got there at 4:05, in case you're wondering. We had a really fun supper; spaghetti and grated Parmesan that we couldn't figure out how to grate properly and meatballs that were still a little frozen and other really comical and enjoyable things. I like meals where you can all laugh and have fun. We had a GREAT conversation about everything from DHP Films to pinball machines and had a great time. Plus, we had cheesecake for dessert so that made the evening really good. :)

On Sunday morning our long-departed laptop started working for a few seconds, and I just about had a conniption; there was a computer file I'd started on there that I really wanted back and so I went scrambling for a flash drive and other transfer mediums, and about that time the computer crashed again. Whoops. We left to go feed my grandparents' chickens (they're out of town; my grandparents, that, is, not the chickens.) On the way I saw this blue monstrosity of a car that was probably roaming California back when horses and buggies were common; I started this joke by telling my family that it was my dream car since I've been looking around at cars recently. Jay was like, "If that's your dream car, I think you're having a nightmare." It was funny. We went to church and then had a potluck afterwards; I'm not used to these church potlucks where there are so many options its ridiculous. I just took what my plate could hold and figured that the rest of the food could wait until the next potluck. Once we went home, our grandparents called and told us that they were back in town and wanted to bring over strawberries to have together, and that they'd be there after they called in about an hour. No big deal. Mom was napping and so were the little kids, I was writing and Jay was reading and dad was doing dishes a little while later when they suddenly just....pulled up....we were like, whoa, quick, wake everybody up! It was funny.

I got a call from the pastor's wife near suppertime asking if I could play piano for church that night as there had been some mild fiasco and she had to stay home with one of her boys completing an assignment for school (which started this morning for him). I said yes although I was a very nervous; I hate playing in front of people period. But I did it, thankfully, and with the exception of one song that had strange minor chords that I just could NOT get right, it went fine.

This morning we got up about 20 minutes early at four-something to get dad ready to go to his Accela conference through work; it will last through Thursday afternoon/evening I guess. We had a nice walk; it was a little chilly, which loved; I never like walking during the summer when you're hot by the time you get back. After dad left there was some consternation as all of the kids somehow decided that with dad gone it was National Cry About Everything day; since mom and Jay were gone getting Jay registered for this semester at college, I was trying to calm them down; at the moment I hear relative silence around me which could either be a very good sign or a very bad sign. :)

It was a great weekend!!!!

"Raising" the Ante

If you're ever in a position of authority and the employees are demanding raises, remember not to do what Rolandas Milinavicius did last week.

When Inga Contreras, 25, and Martynas Simokaitis, 28, (yes, apparently his prerequisite for hire in the first place was that an unpronounceable last name had to come into play) were insistent that Rolandas raise their pay, he shot and killed them.

"It doesn't make any sense," Rolandas' cousin, Jaunius Simokaitis, told the Associated Press; "If he was having money problems, these two would have been the ones to help him get out of debt. They would have helped him make that money."

Although it was two less employees to pay, I am quite sure Rolandas hadn't figured his lengthy prison sentence into the equation. If nothing else, he can be very sure that Conteraras and Simokaitis won't be demanding raises anymore.

To his credit, Rolandas turned himself in. But at this point, he is probably wishing he had given them the raise.

House Sitting (and related catastrophes)

Well, it's my first day houses-sitting for some friends of ours, and so far it's been very interesting. This morning I decided that it would probably be a good idea to get started before it got too hot, so I went in the garage to get my bike. It's been a very long time since I've been on a bike and I just stood there staring at the row of bikes trying to remember which one was mine (yes, it was that bad.) I did the only reasonable thing to do after that: I hollered, "JAY!" and my (very helpful) brother came over to rescue his damsel in distress. He showed me the correct bike, got it out for me, and then started to add air to my tires.

Disaster struck when the tire air pump blew up (literally). I tried to tell him that the tire felt fine but he said, "Nic, you need 60 psi to drive on the road. You're at..." he checked the gauge, "Zero." Plan B. We got an air compressor going and finally filled it and I was off. I apparently didn't have the shifting thing down properly and several times I was going past someone's house when my gears would make some unknown "thunk". Oh, well. I finally go there in one piece (rather miraculous) and came inside, very thirsty. They have a very expensive new refrigerator so I found a cup and got myself some-----nevermind. I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the ice machine and water dispenser to work, so I had to drink lukewarm water from the sink.

I then got to work finding the cat food, actually feeding the cats, and watering the lawn. I accidentally turned the water on too high and before I could catch it I also watered the house. Whoops. Finally I came inside to hunt around for a piece of paper to write my adventures down on, and--(prepare yourself, this will be dreadful)--I searched in their drawers for a pen. I found tons of pencils, silverware, address cards, and a driving ticket but no pens so I reverted to using a pencil.

Before I got a single word on the page it was time to change the lawn water. I went out to grab the hose and attached sprinkler but somehow grabbed it incorrectly and the whole thing came apart. I was then soaking wet. I finally fixed it and came back inside and started writing; about this time a guy in a golf cart who looked a little creepy went riding past the back fence (their house is on a golf course) so I made my presence known so that he would know the house wasn't unoccupied.

By then I was thirsty again so I went to get another drink and saw that there were some ants in their kitchen. Not good. With my pen-searching skills, I decided to venture into the garage to find some ant spray. I found a lot of things; Lysol, "Kaboom Toilet Bowl Blaster", propane, spray paint and all-purpose plant food, but no bug spray. I considered my options and decided that highly-concentrated doses of Lysol would probably be my best bet, so I made a point of spraying the ants-- well--at point-blank range and it didn't appear to have any effect but, who knows, maybe Lysol kicks in after awhile. Needless to say that by this point the kitchen smelled extremely "sanitary".

I had this odd premonition of some sorts that I should check the plants' water. When I went out there, they were damp, but that quickly proved to be from the overspray back when I pulled the "watering the house" stunt. I'll spare you the long version but for the next 10 minutes I kept trying to figure out how to turn the plants' water on.

Now I have the ater going, the trashcans in, the cats fed, the ants threatened and the situation under control. I'd better head back home before some further catastrophe takes place. Hopefully I won't do anything silly like crash my bike on the way home.......


17 Random Observations

Random information:

With my sunburn, I am approximately the animal kingdom equivalent of a boiled lobster.

Mally has been exulting that in three years she'll be out of a car seat.

It is really nice to hear from a stranger in Iraq who you've sent a letter to.

Jay: "That girl could give a white guy an afro just by talking to him...if he's lucky."

Dad's "doing-dishes-on-Sundays" policy is such a great one.

It started sprinkling today and the little kids thought the concept of rain was so foreign that they were running around the backyard hollering in exultation. We broke the news gently that rain is not a new concept and that it has been around for a few thousand years. The "rain" lasted barely 10 minutes.

Instant oatmeal is bad for one's health, or taste buds at the very least.

One of my goals for the next while is to learn how to successfully spell hors de oeuvres without having to actually google it every time I want to remind myself how to spell it!

Leftover pasta salad makes great spaghetti when mixed with spaghetti sauce and meatballs. With garlic It will be just right for my parents' "date night" tonight.

Little brothers are great at picking flowers outside and very thoughtful to put them into little vases and display them, even if they are very obviously weeds.

Jay looks really different....although quite coveralls after working in the garage all afternoon and listening to Michael Savage for entertainment.

Mally has made the shocking discovery that she has four cousins, not two.

It is very pleasant to receive a long-awaited book in the mail that has been on order for what seems like forever.

Deleting 800 emails from your inbox is quite an accomplishment; you should try it sometime. I'm now left with just over 200 from all folders combined, and a lot more available space on my gmail account, which had filled up to 21% of my free space!

The hours between 2 and 4 drag on. The hour of 5-6 flies by. I guess it's that time when the house has to be clean, dinner has to be on the table and everyone is waiting for dad to come home.

"Sunrise, Sunset" doesn't sound good sung in a lively "spiritual" rendition, as I learned while editing tapes and CD's from a friend. And Nat King Cole does a better job of singing, "When I Fall in Love" than anyone else that I've heard to date, especially the guy on the particular CD I was previewing. (Needless to say, the CD I was reviewing didn't end up making its way to the "keepers" pile; I guess I'm spoiled after listening to Lisa's collection of anniversary music back at ALERT. watch, I'll probably be going around the house for the rest of the night singing, "Unforgettable....")

Overcast, breezy days are wonderful.


Well, folks, the Fire Muster is tomorrow. We'll be headed out to Brewster Park in a few hours and from there we'll be gearing up for the competitions, which begin tomorrow. Pray for Jay as he competes; we'd like him to be safe, and, of course, to do well in the competitions. The guys have practiced a lot and I'm hoping their performance exceeds their expectations.
Thanks for praying!

Seven Hours in the Life of Nicole Hearn

Seven Hours in the Life of Nicole Hearn

Between 5 and 6: I got out of bed, struggled to make said bed (hey, that rhymed) while fighting drowsiness, went to the living room with my family to exercise, took a shower, and got ready to read the Bible with my family. Played part of a "chess" game with Daniel (using chess pieces but Daniel-style rules.) Laughed at Jay's quote, "I like the self-punishment feature that comes with foolishness."
Between 6 and 7: I listened to Jay read Mark 5, I read Mark 6, and Em and Dad read some more after I finished. I contemplated the times in the Bible when Jesus would "cast out evil spirits" in people, and wondered if that is a permanent thing. Some healings that Jesus did were very obvious: a cripple can walk. A blind man can see. Others, such as the times when he threw demons out of people, have the potential to be a little more subjective. Isn't every person responsible to keep their lives pure in such a way that demons cannot inhabit them? When Jesus cast out a demon, did he also regenerate the part of that person that had been prey to the demon?
Between 7 and 8: Helped get breakfast ready, laughed with dad and Jay, got dad off to work, went inside, and found out that Jay's internet on his computer was on the fritz. Decided to undertake the project of fixing it. While preparing to do so, reviewed some script notes with Jay and Em. Got into a discussion with mom.
Between 8 and 9: Continued discussion with mom. Tried to fix computers. Laughed at Jay's attempts to infiltrate my discussion with mom. Tried to fix the computer some more. Found no decipherable reason why the computer was doing what it was doing. Repeatedly hollered at Jay, who was in the next room, asking him if he knew how to fix the computer. Repeatedly heard the answer that if he knew how to fix it he would have done so already. Answered an email or two, got a few lines of a writing project done. Finished conversation with mom.
Between 9 and 10: Tried the XP "Internet Connection Troubleshooter"'s two-step connection-healing process a dozen times, with no results. Decided to pull out all of the computer wires and try to track the problem. Learned halfway through that I had no idea what I was doing. Kicked Jay off the working computer and drafted him to help me. Went out into the kitchen to check on the kids....uh-oh. Play-Doh. Everywhere. They were playing with Play-Doh on a grand scale. They had the presses, the cookie sheets for showcasing their masterpieces, and the blended colors...I told them to start cleaning it up because we were going to do other things. And because at about that time mom came out into the living room informing me that the Millers were probably about to show up. It went without saying that the current state of the expansive Play-Doh undertaking was unacceptable. Little kids decided not to do what they'd been instructed to. Little kids got in trouble. Jiggled wires and cords. Finally got internet working by strange means. Printed out two quotes to copy into my journal.
Between 10 and 11: Found out that Jay was leaving for an Explorer turnout pickup at a quarter of noon. Advised Em on how to make a trifle for tonight's dinner gathering at our house. Started to help kids clean up Play-Doh. Realized that cleaning up Play-Doh is a huge project. Made mental note to never allow my kids to play with Play-Doh unless under extremely special circumstances (i.e. at "grandma and grandpa Hearn's" house :D). Went on and happened to see the profile of a guy who was looking for King James bibles for his group. Thought of the Bible that we found in Sac that nobody claimed, decided to send it, addressed the envelope, and got ready to seal it. Decided that I should put a picture of our family in the note so he could see the family he was getting it from. Tried to get Jay off the computer so I could print a picture. Was unsuccessful. Went to his room instead and tried to print off a picture. It printed....but the ink was running out so it had a bizarre pink hue to the whole thing. Decided that it didn't matter and he could just think that we were weirdos who liked seeing our family through hot-pink overtones. Wrapped package with excessive amounts of tape.
Between 11 and 12: Finished cleaning up the last Play-Doh. Washed a sinkful of dishes that Jay (little imp) left without doing. Played another round of "chess" with Daniel, this time a complete game. Made a sandwich for Danny per specs he gave me very clearly: "Peanut butter and honey. Cut up. In a bowl. With milk poured over the top." Not exactly my style, but I made it for him. Entertained Whitney, who was frustrated at her lack of ability to crawl (she just doesn't know that's what she's frustrated at, but she is. :D) Explained to Daniel the ethical reasons why not to hit one's sister (even if in jest). Tried on a shirt for the Explorer events this weekend (showing that I'm a proud supporter of Jay...and his post). Hummed, "Broken Road". Made sure the house was clean just as dad was getting home for lunch. Geared up to prepare for our party tonight......

And that is a random accounting of seven hours in the life of Nicole Hearn.