Thursday, July 28, 2011


My home is currently run by a shipping container overlord. Let's just call him "Darren" for now. He roams the house looking for things to put in the next yard sale or sneak in the trash. Usually I am right by his side, suggesting things for him to sink his claws into. But one day I looked at my bookshelf. My stuffed to the gills, no room at the inn bookshelf... and also the underside of my bed, and perhaps a few corners of my closet. I saw my babies, er, I mean my books, and I had to start making some tough decisions.

It's easy to toss current trade paperbacks into the yard sale pile, they're quick money. But then you look at the stack of books from the Christian bookstore and you can trace the fads and feelings of the past 10 years in one glance. You sort the good from the bad and wonder if it's ethical to stick crummy books in a yard sale... buyer beware!

The hard part is deciding what to do with the classics. You sort the common from the obscure and wonder if anyone will pick up your copy of Confessions of an English Opium Eater (they make you read obscure stuff in college). Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, they're cheap, you can find plenty of copies of them in used bookstores everywhere. But what do you do with the books attached to memories? The good memories (our tattered copy of Seinlanguage, read and re-read until pages fell out) or the bad (I read Grapes of Wrath while nursing baby Jason. If I had read the last page first, I never would have picked up the book!).

I've bounced around the idea of going digital. Please let me know if you have a preference (Kindle, Nook, iPad). I'm not sure if I can give up the romance of the traditional book. I love to fold over corners to mark my spot, I write notes in the margins and I remember a summer read by the way water splashed from the kids in the pool crinkles the pages. A traditional book I can loan out to friends without worrying about getting it back (which I discovered has significantly reduced the number of books that I THOUGHT I had!).

While sorting through my stacks I picked up Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Genius. The first line: "Then there was the bad weather." The whole book is a travelogue, biography of ex-pats, an ode to French food, and an instruction manual for aspiring writers. The Sun Also Rises springs from conversations with Gertrude Stein as described in A Moveable Feast. The Lost Generation, everything you ever wanted to know about bull-fighting and Spain, beautifully captured in over 200 pages of dialogue. I love this guy but most people only think of The Old Man and the Sea, a high school student's worst nightmare. I think it may be because we are so impatient for him to hurry up and catch the fish, that we don't appreciate the struggle. I really wanted to name one of our kids Hadley, the name of his first wife, but Hayden was a nice compromise.

Another love of mine is Steinbeck. He's gritty and real and a local guy. I think East of Eden is my favorite. Again, in school you have to read The Red Pony or Of Mice and Men, but going beyond the required reading can be so rewarding, it's worth the effort.

It's hard to think of these gems left out on a yard sale table for people to pick through, so maybe a few favorites will find their way into the nooks and crannies of boxes and suitcases. Just don't tell Darren ;)

Monday, July 18, 2011

the classics

I am a decluttering queen. I used to be a devoted follower of The Flylady but I have since graduated to my own system of household management. I like to think that my system could be called "the-distract-your-kids-with-friends-or-video-games-or-both-at-the-same-time-and-clear-out-their-rooms system". It really works!

I must admit, however that there are some toys that you just cannot get rid of, no matter what! Yes, throw out the happy meal toys, the broken toys and the never used toys, but by all means, do not toss the classics!

For example, Thomas the Tank Engine. Just when I thought our days of track building were over, Hayden discovered Jason's stash and this happened:

It was just too cute. Big brother built an awesome track and little sister played happily. (Middle sister was a pest, but that is becoming her specialty so we went with it).

Another classic that will not get tossed soon is Jason giant tub of Legos. It won't get tossed on purpose, but I often find myself reminding the boy that if a stray piece gets sucked up in the vacuum, I can't be held responsible.

One thing that has surprised me is the beginning of the end for Perry, Cameron's beloved bear. He was left yesterday at a friend's house and she went to bed without him, without a second thought. Poor guy. He was once a treasured member of the family, now he seems to be on the outs. Maybe it's because his tail is falling off, or he's getting too ratty for her sophisticated tastes.

Hang in there Perry, I won't give up on you just yet :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Ugh. The word "moving" strikes me with dread. I think it's because we've done a lot of moving over the past 15 years. Last night we were discussing one of our latest topics: "is our stuff worth the cost of a shipping container?" So as we debated I found myself cleaning out my kitchen drawers with ruthless determination (as if that would solve the problem!). We don't have an answer to that question yet, all I know is the 19 scrapbooks that I have made are coming with us-- no doubt about it!

I thought it would be fun to look back on our many residences and maybe you could pitch in a memory too.

1. Newhall Avenue: Our first apartment! Darren picked this place without me, as he had to do it in advance while he was at school and I was 3 hours away at home. He did a great job. The first time I saw the place was when we arrived there after our honeymoon. We got in around midnight and spent the next 2 hours ripping open wedding presents, trying to find a set of sheets! The apartment had teal green appliances from the sixties and an electric wall heater in the bathroom that was our only source of heat (because we were too cheap to turn on the gas-- we figured So. Cal wouldn't get THAT cold in winter, right?).

2. Palomar Avenue: Ugh. This was a converted garage apartment in Atascadero. We lasted through our 6 month lease then got the heck outta there due to the crazy amount of black widows in that place. You would move too if a black widow dropped down from the ceiling and landed in your bed!

3. Santa Lucia: This was a nice spot to live. Darren could walk from here to his teaching job at NCCS. I think the funniest memory I have is the move to this place: we used Food 4 Less grocery bags instead of boxes, I guess that's all we had on hand to get us out of the black widow house fast! We stayed here about 3 years.

4. The School House aka "the fishbowl": This place was a toss up between pros and cons. On
the pro side, it was cheap and the walk to school was quick (we literally lived in a house that was surrounded by the school). On the con side, the place was cheap because Darren had to do security for ABC at night to offset the rent, and we were constantly asked by people to open gates for them on the weekends. This was Jason's first home, and as a result, that boy can sleep through anything because he was trained to sleep through all the noise of recess right outside his bedroom window!

5. Multnomah married student apartments: Again, pros and cons. The pro side included great friendships and an incredible time of growth in our marriage. This definitely outweighs the cons of thin walls and scraping up quarters to do laundry.

6. Creston Road: What a nice house! This was Cameron's first home. I remember meeting our neighbor for the first time and she asked us if we had a cat. This was a duplex, so I realized that the poor woman had heard all of Cameron's late night wailing and thought we had an unruly cat! Darren and I spent many nights walking up and down the hall trying to pacify Cam, "the baby who wouldn't be satisfied". We also lived next to a field with sheep and as a result we became the winter home of a few field mice. Eeeek!

7. Vista del Rio (or, "the apartment behind Albertson's"): Now this place was a strange contradiction. On the outside it was a beautiful, new complex with lovely amenities, but on the inside it was filled with lots of lonely people. We discovered that many people landed here after a divorce or they were here looking for a mate. There were two playgrounds and a pool in the complex, but our kids never made friends because the other kids only showed up on the weekends to spend time with their parents. We had a good relationship with the manager and quickly discovered that we were a small minority that lived peaceably within the many rules that she had to enforce. It's a good thing that we had a good witness with her because when someone reported smelling marijuana coming from our building she came to us to ask for help figuring out the problem. When Hayden was on her way we had to find a bigger place to live so it was time to move on.

8. San Buena Ventura Way: When I was a kid we would play MASH and the shack was usually in a place like San Miguel. I never thought I'd live out here! But to be honest, this has been a GREAT spot for us. The kids have made so many friends in this neighborhood and we all love coming home to this place. Plus, we have the best landlords ever :)

9. Scotland! So far, I've only seen one episode of House Hunters International in Glasgow (admit it, you watch this too). Pretty soon we'll be living it and I can't wait!

Friday, July 8, 2011

beach day!

The cousins are in town! Yesterday we all escaped the North County heat and met up at Avila Beach.

The fun was doubled when our friends came along too. Jason braved the waters for his first boogieboarding adventure. Cameron dug the deepest hole ever and Hayden stayed on Pops' lap most of the day to avoid the pesky sand.

Cameron reminded me that sometimes you just have to put the camera
away and enjoy the moment!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

why Scotland?

If you know us well, you may suspect that this whole Scotland thing is a sneaky way for Darren to play golf on some amazing courses and for me and the kids to spend our days touring castles. But the truth is, we were willing to go a number of places and Scotland is where God landed us. Here are two reasons why Scotland is in our future:

1. Because God is leading us there. Sorry, not trying to be redundant, but in all honesty this is the truth. And to be sure, it is a big, crazy idea to pick up your comfortable, content family and move them across the world. This will be our 3rd "career" change and 2nd time moving away from family in our 15 year history together. But looking back on our life together we can clearly see that every time God has moved or changed us it has been to form us for this very task. We also are confident that He will carry us through the transition. So with this assurance we can't help but be excited for our next adventure.

2. Because Scotland needs help. We are joining an amazing team of people dedicated to the awakening of a nation. Here are a few snippets from Operation World to help you understand the need in Scotland:
"A national awakening is needed.... the steep decline of organized Christianity in the UK is almost unparalleled in Europe..."

"...(there is) widespread loss of confidence and certainty in the veracity of the gospel, in the uniqueness of Jesus.... (these are) simultaneous with increasingly assertive and confident atheism and Islam."

"Christian leadership is under intense pressure... from intense scrutiny by the public and from lack of effective Bible teachers and expositors."

You might read these quotes in disbelief. After all, Scotland was once a major force in sending the gospel out to the world. Only a few generations of apathy an indifference can change the state of a nation.

So those are just two of the reasons we are going. We would love to talk more with you about this big life change so feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with us by email : . (This blog is registered under an address I no longer use, sorry for the inconvenience. I'll try to change it soon!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the rusco house is on the move!

Ahem... please excuse my absence. I realize that my last post was in January, this is tad embarrassing! How about a cute picture to make up for it?
There, that's better. Am I forgiven now? Thanks!

So what do I mean by "on the move"? I mean that our family is moving across the Atlantic to the beautiful nation of Scotland, land of bagpipes, kilts and haggis... and more importantly a land that needs help in their churches.

Last summer, Darren caught the missions bug. As he thought about Paso Robles and the great churches we have in the North County, he began to feel a need to go to a place that had a greater need. When he studied the church all across the world he saw that many former Christian nations had lost their way and the church had faded into a sleeping institution. He felt a pull to go back to those people and bring the gospel of Jesus to light once more and help wake up the sleeping church.

We first looked into Ireland, France and Italy. We talked with missions organizations that had projects going in those countries but we never felt a connection with those teams. One day the Multnomah alumni magazine arrived and Darren read and article about a man who had gone to Glasgow, Scotland to start a church. The man's story resonnated with Darren because they had both been so committed to preaching the Word of God that they had neglected to develop a prayer life. Once the prayer life was explored and developed, both men began to see their ministries increase. Darren wrote to him to thank him for the article and to his surprise, the man responded with an invitation to visit Glasgow!

In November, Darren boarded a plane to Scotland. To be honest, I thought this was just a silly idea that he needed to get out of his system and I didn't expect much to come of it. You may have seen this on facebook around that time:

Although he was incredibly homesick, he was able to listen to God's direction as he traveled and met with the team in Glasgow. When he came home and told me all about his experience, I knew this was not just a whim, this was our family's new direction.

While in Glasgow, Darren learned a lot about prayer. When he came home, he began to implement these things into our services and home groups and we began to see God do mighty things. Over the past months we have both felt confirmation that although amazing things are happening at PRBC, it is ok that we move on, because we know our church is in good hands.

In March, Darren, Jason and I went to Glasgow for another visit. Darren was adamant that if I wasn't happy, we wouldn't go. We had a fabulous visit with the team and the Ingraham family. Here are a few pictures from that trip:
The gang in front of Edinburgh Castle.

Jason and his pal Emma run into a little trouble with the law...

Finally, justice is restored when Jason is rightfully returned to his throne.

As you can see, we had fun. While flying home Darren and I had a moment where we just looked at each other and knew that we were meant to move to Scotland. I think my exact words to him were, "I'm in!".

Our next step was to join the organization that supports the Scotland team. This is Church Resource Ministries or CRM. Please check out their website . We really like CRM. We just completed our orientation week in Anaheim this last week and we are very impressed with the way they care for their staff. They are an established organization with a rich history and an innovative ministry that is strategically looking to the future of world missions. We are very happy to be a part of this group.

I'm sure one of the main questions in your mind right now is, "so, when are you guys moving?". That's a good question! Our goal is January but there are a lot of factors necessary to make that happen. We are making our plans toward that end but we fully understand that God is ultimately in control of the timing.

Over the next few weeks I plan on blogging more about Scotland, why we're going and how a family of five picks up their lives and moves it across an ocean. Also, Darren will be sharing more details in church about our transition so be sure to show up on Sunday or "like" Paso Robles Bible Church on Facebook. Sermons are usually posted there for you to download. Until then, check out CRM's site and take a look at our team leader's blog for more info about the church in Scotland .

Thanks for making it to the end of this post. How about one last picture?
This was one of our many attempts at taking Hayden's passport photo:)