September 28, 2010

Roots theme

Before I begin my little ramblings, I would like to point you to a wonderful blog posted by my friend, AquaJane. I enjoy her writing in general and her book, Beyond Betrayal, but this one especially hit my heart as have been struggling with trying to set up a permanent settlement in Arizona after being uprooted by my husband’s job change.

The roots theme has been running in my life for a while now. It started during the Winter/Spring of 2009 when I was working with some women to host a prayer seminar in our church. Most of my contribution was in praying with the women and giving a little bit of input, mainly because I felt like a lieutenant next to some four star general prayer warriors . One time, as we were praying, someone was reminded of a vision one of the women had our church being like prairie flowers that typically had their roots growing very deep beneath the earth’s surface as a representation of our church. As we were praying about that vision, I thought I heard God telling me that sometimes He removes healthy plants with deep roots to transplant in other areas. This came at a time when my husband had lost his job and there was a very real possibility that he would be getting a job out of state and had interviewed for a company in Arizona. One of the things the Women's Ministry did for conferences/seminars was to gather a group of women before the seminar to pray for God to give them scripture verses. AquaJane was given my name and the verse God gave her for me was this:

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."--Isaiah 43:19

God wasn't really being subtle with me, was He? No, he knew that I would need advance warning for the move he wanted me to make and was graciously giving me that advance warning. And two months later, we were down in Arizona. Many times in the last year, I have felt like a withered plant needing lots of fertilizer, water, and TLC. God has been providing the TLC and Living Water, either directly, or through others. I think I have been pretty good at creating fertilizer ;-).

As I have said, my husband and I have been putting down roots in Arizona for the past 18 months. We have found a church that we enjoy and, because we are people who need to be committed, we have been attending a membership class. We have been prodded by God to participate and serve in the church long before this. Last Sunday, before the membership class, I attended a luncheon for one of the groups that I had joined. The woman who was the leader in my group talked about the difficulty she had during her move and how she knew that she needed to become involved and serve in a church in order to put down deep, strong roots to weather the storms of life. Of course, because I have the tendency to cry at the drop of a hat, I could feel the tears well up as God brought the root metaphor up again, reminding me of how faithful He has been through this transplant.

However, God is reshaping my roots. Unlike prairie flowers, cacti don't have deep roots, they have wide spreading roots. I think there are two reasons for this: sand does not allow water to infiltrate deeply as quickly as loamy soil common in the Midwest. Downpours in Arizona can result in flash floods as the water cannot be quickly absorbed and just runs downhill. Most subdivisions around here have areas called "washes", where rainfall is directed onto grassy basins. So it makes more sense for the roots to be at the surface where the water will actually be, rather than digging down deep where water can't penetrate. The other reason is so that the roots can catch water even during brief rainfalls.

And yet, the blooms on a stodgy, cactus, with its bulgy, waxy, green-grey skin are some of the most delicate, translucent beautiful flowers you can find anywhere. So, somehow, God is changing this flashy, deep-rooted prairie flower to survive in the desert. And I am learning that you don't need deep roots or shallow roots to bloom and bear fruit. You need turn to the God who knows you intimately enough to give you exactly what you need to blossom.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” James 1:17

September 21, 2010

Jane Austen-like trip Part II: Travel and visiting

A friend commented that my trip was like travel back in Jane Austen's day except for the fact that I traveled on smooth roads in an air-conditioned vehicle with shock absorbers that went much faster than a coach-and-four, and we could be entertained by more than conversation/staring out the window and with the added convenience of stores/rest stops with indoor plumbing. By the way, did anyone realize that Jane Austen grew up during the reign of King George III, which should be known by everyone as the king who was SO arrogant,pig headed and insane that he lost the American colonies when they rebelled? It puts the interclass romance theme in a different light, doesn't it?

It was great to see my folks. We took in a AAA baseball game, went to the library, played at the park and the kids tried catching the hundreds of frogs that live in my folk’s backyard thanks to a pond in the neighbor’s property. My family and I were able to talk about a lot of things. The kids helped with "quality control" by tasting my dad's frosting before it went on the cake to make sure it tasted good. Because my folks get up really early for work, we went all went to bed pretty early. It was very relaxing.

The trip to Chicago was a little more stressful. I was caught by a policeman just after crossing the Illinois border traveling the Missouri speed limit of 70 mph, which was 15 mph over the Illinois speed limit. I was actually traveling about 75. To make matters worse, I was traveling at those speeds in a “construction zone.” I use quotation marks because there was no evidence of any actual work being done on the road—no construction vehicles, no lane closures, not a single individual in orange walking along the median. There was just the signs warning of a construction zone that wasn’t. I was suspecting that those signs were the latest method in speed traps until someone mentioned that construction workers were on strike. Still, I believe that the devil is basing his roads in hell on the Illinois road system—half completed construction, full of potholes, speed traps and tolls.

I spent three days seeing old friends, which was wonderful. Unfortunately, a lot of the ones I wanted to see at church were on vacation. It was good to see my old church, Trinity Community Church in Libertyville, worship with old friends and listen to an awesome sermon. I hugged and spoke with as many people as I could. I had little get togethers with the different groups of people each day. The kids have had a blast playing with old friends. I have been a little tired from staying up late talking and laughing with friends and some family. We also had an emergency orthodontis appointment due to a wire getting loose. That cut into time I would have liked to spend visiting my old neighborhood. I spent a day cleaning clothes, cleaning up the van, and re-packing. It was a great time, but for my next Chicago visit, I think I will allocate five days so that I can see all family and more friends and still get some rest. By this time, however, I was also really starting to miss my husband and looking forward to our time together.

Next Installment: "Mystery of love, at last I've found you..."

September 17, 2010

Hodgepodge update

I deleted my account on Facebook today. I am guessing that it will take a week before I automatically start typing in www.fa.... and have the facebook address not automatically pop up. My brother has accused me of being me melodramatic as I kept saying good-bye so many times. I definitely have not silently drifted away leaving people wondering where I am. I made plenty of announcements, commented on my progress in copying contacts, notes, pictures and other things before cutting myself off from what has helped me or maybe hindered me in making the break God provided. I think that was my point. A friend understood me exactly when she sent me a video which you can watch here. I am tempted to start hyperventilating just thinking about it. However, God did bring me 1800 miles away from the one home I hoped I would always have here on this earth for a purpose and I think Facebook was preventing me from truly plunging into His plan. I have a long list of books to read and home projects that will fill the time if I pull myself away from the computer, because there ARE other things to distract me on the computer. One big advantage will hit soon as my email will no longer be clogged by messages from facebook whenever anyone commented or replied. However, I am already fighting urges to relog onto it. I think I have the same reflex that the person who is trying to lose weight sometimes goes to the refrigerator to look for food just because they are used to going to the refrigerator and eating. I think I deserve and extra big scoop of ice cream for doing what I should have done months ago. Speaking of ice cream...

I lost two pounds last week, bringing me back down to 8 pounds lost overall. I had a bad cold, complete with sore throat, to thank for that because I wasn't hungry, especially for sweets. As I recover, my goal is to get to the table hungry again for every meal and say 'no' to sweets for one day.

This weekend will be very busy. I will be going to a Beth Moore simulcast at my church all day Saturday and then spend most of the day there on Sunday between church, a special meeting and attending a membership class with my husband. Have a great weekend.

September 12, 2010


At this point in time, I have a bunch of entries to make and not enough time to make them all individual posts, so I am combining a couple of posts into one so that I can continue my vacation blog, though most of the people reading it are the family that I visited.

To Facebook or not to Facebook...
Hello. I am Kristina Overtoom and I am a Facebook addict. I check it several times a day, spending half an hour, on average, at each time. I have developed an unreasonable urge to keep track of every single friend's life, though I am well over 100 friends between old friends, new friends and family. It is cutting into my time with my family, my hobbies and my chores. Even though I believe Facebook is not evil unto itself, I do believe that it is a poor communication device for anything but trivialities and only allows superficial bonding. And since I have allowed it to take over my life, I feel the need to "pull the plug." Forever. Or at least until all the kids are out of the house and I have "all the time in the world. :-)" It has felt like a lifeline to me since I moved seventeen months ago, but it is really a poor substitute for the phone and/or email. I will take the next week to make sure I have contact and blog information for everyone who is my friend and to "give notice" to all my friends so that they don't see me unfriending them and think that I no longer like them. Please pray that God will bring me through this difficult time as I Facebook detox and that I can withstand the urge to create a new identity in Facebook.

The Diet Wars, Parts XVI through XXI: Revenge of the Stress Monster
Returning from my vacation, I had a week to prepare for school. It involved getting familiar with a new curriculum, planning for a new student, John, who is in Kindergarten, and making sure I had all the books I needed at least for the first two weeks. And actually making a schedule. When you are only teaching one child, a schedule is not as necessary because there is only one child. However, with four different children at varying levels and needing help in different subjects, I needed to come up with a schedule that allowed me to flow from one student on the subjects which required individual attention. It was very stressful and I chowed down on lots of sweets, which is my habit. The first schedule I created really stunk, leading to more stress as the school day was much longer than last year because of inefficiences. The school just down the block from our house has been very inviting. However, I keep reminding myself that this IS God's calling in my life and that all callings from God involve difficulties. So the last four weeks, my eating habits have been horrible and I have returned to feeding my sweet tooth which is an old, ingrained habit of looking for false comfort. However, I have only gained back the two pounds that I lost during the vacation, which is, I think, a mercy of God and the result of exercise. Another mercy from God is that He has infused in me a quiet peace over the last few days that, even though I have stumbled, He will carry me through this. "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 1:6). And so I am ready to re-group and get back into the game instead of wallowing in self disgust and giving up. I will not make the 40 week deadline, but then again, that was my own goal, not God's. My goal is to get my quiet times back on track, which should be helped as I "feed on him, not on food."

To God be the glory!

September 4, 2010

My "Jane Austen" trip--sort of

Before I met my husband, I had heard of Jane Austen, but never really read any of her novels. They are basically romance novels with usually witty dialogue set in England during the reign of King George III (think American Revolution through Napoleonic wars). The first book I read was Pride and Predjudice. I fell in love with her books and devoured every one I could. I have been tempted to re-read her books again. One event that occurs in every Jane Austen novel is a big trip. The middle class heroine, who has wealthy friends or relatives, is invited to mix with the upper class for a month or so. Yes, I said a month. Sometimes, they last several months. So inviting someone to visit you was a serious undertaking in those days.

I embarked on my own “Jane Austen” trip, though I did not stay in any one place for a month. The ultimate goal of the trip was to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding in the Twin Cities area. We knew we couldn’t afford to fly all of us out to Minneapolis and Eric couldn’t afford to take the extra days of driving both there and back. So, I started thinking about extending the trip for the kids and I and visit my family in Memphis, Tennessee. Since Chicago is roughly midpoint between the two cities, I would add even more time to see friends and some family before moving to the “final destination.” Eric would stay at home, take care of the animals for part of the time, then fly up in time for the wedding and stay a week with his family, driving home with us in two days. We would leave in the early morning hours of July 16 and not return until August 10. It meant missing Arizona friends, pets and, for two weeks, my husband. Some friends call me “brave” or “adventurous” for driving that distance with four kids without any assistance, though I wonder if some of them used those words as substitutes for “slightly crazy.” I was fully prepared however, for the trip. We had 16 hours of Focus on the Family Radio Theatre CDs, and 15 hours of movies not to mention activity bags with lots of books and doodling paper and even a quiz game.
The first leg of the trip--going to Memphis--was uneventful. We listened to The Magician’s Nephew and part of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and watched four movies in the 2 ½ days of driving. I tried to have some extended outside play time in the middle of the trip to burn off energy, though the second day, it was so hot in Oklahoma that no one was interested in running for more than five minutes. The biggest challenge was, of course, potty breaks. However, once again, I am a traveling pro and have established the rule that if one person has to go, then every has to try and go. Every time we had to stop, the kids would wail and protest that “I don’t have to go, Mom!” or “Why are you making me go in when _____ is the one who has to go?” I was the worst culprit at needing potty stops due to drinking several cups of coffee during the morning to get myself going. The kids were really good in the car and even pretty good whenever we made stops, even the ones where the gas station only had one bathroom and there was a line of people waiting to use it. The end of the first day involved eating at a McDonalds with a playland to release some energy in the hopes that the kids would go to sleep early. It didn't work. They were still on Mountain Standard time, two hours difference from Amarillo, Texas. I really pitied the folks surrounding our hotel room on the second night in North Little Rock Arkansas. They were running up and down the stairs and hallways helping me unload the car and sounding like a pack of screeching monkeys riding on the backs of stampeding elephants. The guy staying in the room across from us actually poked his head out of the door to see what was making so much noise. I ended up taking them out to a grassy place behind the hotel to run races and tag for an hour before going inside to get ready for bed. We arrived in the Memphis area around lunch time after getting a really late start to the day. More on my “epic journey” on another day.