Time and Money

When Alan and I were first married, we had precious few possessions. We bought everything for our first apartment with $100… $55 of which went for our fridge. It was early vintage Salvation Army all the way, plus a few pieces of furniture we rescued from Alan’s grandmother’s abandoned farm house…like the old iron bed that is still a favorite of our family’s to this day. At any rate, we had absolutely no extra money for years, due to graduate school and then medical school demands. Nevertheless, I had lots of time and energy, and so for the first few years, our apartments were pretty close to immaculate. Even after Aaron and Michael were born, I (we! they were great helpers??) scrubbed the walls every week as well as the floors and counter tops. When we moved out of our apartment after medical school, the guy who checked us out said he’d never seen such a clean apartment and was amazed that we still had the original paint. I smiled demurely and felt like a great success.

That was the last of my smug sense of being a well-organized mother. Alan’s parents died suddenly, and when we moved into our new apartment for residency, we brought an absolutely mind-stopping amount of “worldly goods” from his parents’ home that we had no clue what to do with but no heart to give away. That was the beginning of the end. The end of the end was two more babies and a husband who worked between 60-119 hours per week for three years. By the time Alan fiished his training, we were well into the negative column for both time and money. Homeschooling and three more children, dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, and a wonderful flood of friends over the years kept me totally behind in the house keeping column, and we managed to pay off our medical school loans exactly the same year as Aaron began college! From that day until this, we’ve been paying 1-3 college tuitions every year. The income was coming in, but it always seemed to be going out faster.

This week, I finally realized that I now have both time and money. Well…we’re still paying two college tuitions, but Joel will graduate this spring, and (Lord willing) Stephen will graduate in 2010. Of course, by then, Alan will be 60 and it will be time to be working very hard to save for retirement (what’s that??), BUT, we just might have both time and money. Our house is 20 years old and still sports its original paint and wall paper in the living room and in our bedroom. I am so looking forward to reorganizing, cleaning, and refurbishing our house! This week I reorganized our household linens and deep cleaned the three upstairs bathrooms. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to start to make progress that may last more than a minute (which is all it seems to last when you have small children coming behind you). Hard to imagine, but I think I may just be on the verge of having time and money. May my dream come true, and may I use it well!

A Molasses Day

It’s not like I don’t have a million things to do today, but it is like I can’t concentrate! Does that ever happen to you? I’ve been sleeping like a log ever since Kathy’s wedding and feeling super productive, and then—for no known reason—I had trouble sleeping last night and woke up feeling like all I really wanted to do was go back to bed! However, when I finally decided to break down and take a nap after lunch, I couldn’t sleep because I was anxious about everything I have to do!

So, I begrudgingly got up and started working again…in even slower motion. I’m trying to prepare my message for the ladies’ at Mel Trotter, but that was going nowhere very slowly, so I decided to finish the ironing and writing notes in the Armstrong Archives. That reminded me that I didn’t know if the copy I sent to Germany had arrived…and a quick email, which reminded me that I’d wanted to send a thank you…and respond to several friends, and then Jon got back from his lunch appointment…and then Joel got back from class…and then the phone rang. I call such days Molasses Days, because I can’t really seem to get done what I think I’m supposed to be doing.

So, I’ll try again. But, before I do, I’ll pass along this story just in case you need a smile:

While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, “Are you a cop?”

“Yes,” I answered and continued writing the report.

“My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?”

“Yes, that’s right,” I told her.

“Well, then,” she said as she extended her foot toward me, “would you please tie my shoe?”

The Return of the Swans

Today is Alan and my 36th anniversary! After tucking away my ladies’ Bible study books from our morning meeting and checking out Jon’s vision and mission statements for his new corporation and Kathy’s blog for her update from the honeymoon, I sat down pensively to reflect for a minute on life. To my delight, our swans came swooping down on the lake…just returning from their winter haven on some faraway southern shore. The lake is still frozen, and so the swans will have to wait, flying about or waddling awkwardly on the ice for an undetermined time until the sun melts through the ice and makes a pool somewhere.

So, how is life for the 58-year-old mother of seven whose husband was gone to work 30 hours in the last two days and whose children are busy as bees doing their own things? Great! The Lord is just too merciful to me! Jon returned home the week before Kathy’s wedding, and he’s been going like 60 on his new non-profit corporation, the Aqueduct Project, to try to raise money so he can teach Bible and theology at little evangelical seminaries around the world where they don’t have the resources to pay for training. He is also doing some substitute professoring at Cornerstone for a prof. who had surgery, and Jon is going to teach one class at Trinity Seminary next fall. He would LOVE to get a full-time teaching position at a school here in the U.S. and spend his summers doing mission work (teaching/preaching), but with the depression consciousness here in the States, no one seems to be hiring right now. All prayers appreciated!

I’m wandering. All this to say that the Lord brought Jonathan home just before Kathy left. Kathy used to always bounce into my room and curl up on my bed for a chat as soon as she woke up in the morning, and that is what I will miss the very most now that she’s spending her waking moments chatting with her beloved new husband every morning! On the other hand, praise the Lord for the telephone, so we can still keep connected. And, praise the Lord for our other kids too! For those away who call so faithfully, and especially for the fellowship of Joel, who has not flown the coop yet, and for Jonathan, who—like the swans on our lake—has returned again for another season. Life is beautiful. Sometimes painfully hard, but then, when the sun shines again, all the tears are forgotten and joy returns. What a morning it will be when we wake up in heaven!

And Alan? He’s working too hard but doing great and loving the challenges of his new position. He can’t keep working these 60+ hour weeks for too long or he’ll burn out, but at least I’m not trying to rear a brood of small children while he’s so busy. These last 15 years have been so much easier than the first 20! Good thing the hardest struggles are usually when we’re young. What a privilege it is to be married and have a forever companion. Can’t imagine life without him. Also, what a privilege it is to have a flock of kids and a pair of swans. And seasons. Seasons are a good thing! Thank you, Lord, that winter doesn’t last forever!

Okay, Deb, Here are a Few!

Well, I’m almost back in the land of the living and semi-organized. The house looks fairly normal. The 13 loads of bedding and other laundry are done, only a few socks and toys missed the trip to the P.O. to return stuff, and believe it or not…the fridge is almost empty. Kathy’s biggest request was that we all have fun. That we did!

Here are just a few pictures. If you want more, check out my FaceBook, where downloading is a breeze!

img_2780The happy couple: Mr. and Mrs. Carl Johnson

n208702548_32337145_7470The bridesmaids, all of whom are just as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. From left to right: Carleen Armstrong, Melanie Ingland, Kathy Kristine now Johnson, Grace Armstrong, and Jennifer Wells. Melanie and Jennifer are sisters and have been dear friends of Kathy since they were months old. It was through Jennifer’s wedding that Kathy met Carl two years ago.

n208702548_32337131_3091Here are the happy parents of the bride. Alan and I will celebrate our 36th anniversary next week. We survived, and we approve!

Praise the Lord for wonderful friends and family and all the joys of life that God allows us to experience!


“No time, no time” said the rabbit. “Move down, move down!”

So, I feel like the Mad Hatter. Lots to do and not much time!

Thanks to those of you who are praying for us, and for all the love and support we’ve received!!

Wouldn’t it be Lovely?

Well, we had a totally delightful personal shower for Kathy Kris tonight, masterminded by Carleen and supported grandly by Melanie Ingland. It was on an “India Indian” theme with lots of delicious catered Indian food, a few very fun games, fabulous lingerie gifts for the bride to take on her honeymoon (and back home again!), and an amazing ice cream cake created lovingly by Alyssa for dessert. There were paper lanterns, incense, rich materials draped around the room, flowers, glittering hearts, tea candles, beautifully dressed young ladies, and some jewelry just in case we didn’t feel blingy enough already. To top it off, Carleen hired a henna artist to draw designs on us, so I suppose at the wedding we will all look particularly decorus!  What a great way to start a week of festivities.

And yes, my beloved Jonathan made it safely home…just minutes before the rest of the guests arrived. Alan took Jon, Stephen, Carl, and Gene out for dinner, and afterwards they watched the Super Bowl game (or parts thereof), so I think it turned out to be an A+ night for everybody (except dear Joel, who was still too sick to go out with the guys. I carried him a plate of food down to his room). 😦